Digital Grainger

An Online Edition of The Sugar-Cane (1764)

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[Bookplate: H. Bradley Martin1]

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S U G A R - C A N E.


P O E M.

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S U G A R - C A N E:


P O E M.



Agredior primusque novis Helicona movere
Cantibus, et viridi nutantes vertice sylvas;
Hospita sacra ferens, nulli memorata priorum. MANIL.2



Printed for R. and J. DODSLEY, in Pall-mall. MDCCLXIV.

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SOON after my arrival in the West-Indies,3 I conceived the design of writing a poem on the cultivation of the Sugar-Cane. My inducements to this arduous undertaking were, not only the importance and novelty of the subject, but more especially this consideration; that, as the face of this country was wholly different from that of Europe, so whatever hand copied its appearances, however rude, could not fail to enrich poetry with many new and picturesque images.4

I CANNOT, indeed, say I have satisfied my own ideas in this particular: yet I must be permitted to recommend the precepts contained in this Poem. They are the children of Truth, not of Genius;5 the result of Experience, not the productions of Fancy. Thus, though I may not be able to please, I shall stand some chance of instructing the Reader; which, as it is the nobler end of all poetry, so should it be the principal aim of every writer who wishes to be thought a good man.6

IT must, however, be observed, that, though the general precepts are suited to every climate, where the Cane will grow; yet, the more minute rules are chiefly drawn from the practice of St. Christopher.7 Some selection was necessary; and I could adopt no


modes of planting, with such propriety, as those I had seen practiced in that island, where it has been my good fortune chiefly to reside since I came to the West-Indies.

I HAVE often been astonished, that so little has been published on the cultivation of the Sugar-Cane, while the press has groaned under folios on every other branch of rural oeconomy.8 It were unjust to suppose planters were not solicitous for the improvement of their art, and injurious to assert they were incapable of obliging mankind with their improvements.9

AND yet, except some scattered hints in Pere Labat, and other French travellers in America; an Essay, by Colonel Martyn of Antigua, is the only piece on plantership I have seen deserving a perusal. That gentleman’s pamphlet is, indeed, an excellent performance; and to it I own myself indebted.10

IT must be confessed, that terms of art look awkward in poetry; yet didactic11 compositions cannot wholly dispense with them. Accordingly we find that Hesiod and Virgil, among the ancients, with Philips and Dyer, (not to mention some other poets now living in our own country); have been obliged to insert them in their poems.12 Their example is a sufficient apology for me, for in their steps I shall always be proud to tread.


Vos sequor, ô Graiae gentis decus, inque vestris nunc
Fixa pedum pono pressis vestigia signis;
Non ita certandi cupidus, quam propter amorem,
Quod vos imitari aveo.——13

Yet, like them too, I have generally preferred the way of description, wherever that could be done without hurting the subject.

SUCH words as are not common in Europe, I have briefly explained: because an obscure poem affords both less pleasure and profit to the reader.—For the same reason, some notes have been added, which, it is presumed, will not be disagreeable to those who have never been in the West-Indies.

IN a West-India georgic,14 the mention of many indigenous remedies, as well as diseases, was unavoidable. The truth is, I have rather courted opportunities of this nature, than avoided them. Medicines of such amazing efficacy, as I have had occasion to make trials of in these islands, deserve to be universally known.15 And wherever, in the following poem, I recommend any such, I beg leave to be understood as a physician, and not as a poet.16

Basseterre, Jan. 1763.17

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S U G A R - C A N E.




Subject proposed. Invocation and address. What soils the Cane grows best in. The grey light earth. Praise of St. Christopher. The red brick mould. Praise of Jamaica, and of Christopher Columbus. The black soil mixed with clay and gravel. Praise of Barbados, Nevis, and Mountserrat. Composts may improve other soils. Advantages and disadvantages of a level plantation. Of a mountain-estate. Of a midland one. Advantages of proper cultivation. Of fallowing. Of compost. Of leaving the Woura, and penning cattle on the distant Cane-pieces. Whether yams improve the soil. Whether dung should be buried in each hole, or scattered over the piece. Cane-lands may be holed at any time. The ridges should be open to the trade-wind. The beauty of holing regularly by a line. Alternate holing, and the wheel-plough recommended to trial. When to plant. Wet weather the best. Rain often falls in the West-Indies, almost without any previous signs. The signs of rainy weather. Of fogs round the high mountains. Planting described. Begin to plant mountain-land in July: the low ground in November, and the subsequent months, till May. The advantage of changing tops in planting. Whether the Moon has any influence over the Cane-plant. What quantity of mountain and of low Cane-land may be annually planted. The last Cane-piece should be cut off before the end of July. Of hedges. Of stone inclosures. Myrtle hedges recommended. Whether trees breed the blast. The character of a good planter. Of weeding. Of moulding. Of stripping.



S U G A R - C A N E.


  • WHAT soil the Cane affects; what care demands;
  • Beneath what signs to plant;18 what ills await;
  • How the hot nectar best to christallize;
  • And Afric’s sable progeny to treat:19
  • A Muse, that long hath wander’d in the groves [5]
  • Of myrtle-indolence, attempts to sing.20

  • SPIRIT of Inspiration, that did’st lead
  • Th’ Ascrean Poet to the sacred Mount,21
  • And taught’st him all the precepts of the swain;22
  • Descend from Heaven, and guide my trembling steps [10]
  • To Fame’s eternal Dome, where Maro23 reigns;
  • Where pastoral Dyer, where Pomona’s Bard,
  • And Smart and Sommerville in varying strains,24


  • Their sylvan lore convey: O may I join
  • This choral band, and from their precepts learn [15]
  • To deck my theme, which though to song unknown,
  • Is most momentous to my Country’s weal!25

  • SO shall my numbers win the Public ear;
  • And not displease Aurelius;26 him to whom,
  • Imperial George, the monarch of the main,27 [20]
  • Hath given to wield the scepter of those isles,
  • Where first the Muse beheld the spiry Cane,
  • Supreme of plants, rich subject of my song.

VER. 22. the spiry Cane,] The botanical name of the Cane is Saccharum. The Greeks and Romans seem to have known very little of this most useful and beautiful plant. Lucan and Pliny are the only Authors among the former who mention it; and, so far as I can find, Arrian is the only Greek.28 The first of these Writers, in enumerating Pompey’s Eastern auxiliaries,29 describes a nation who made use of the Cane-juice as a drink:

Dulces bibebant ex arundine succos.30

The industrious Naturalist says, Saccharum et Arabia fert, sed laudatius India;31 and the Greek Historian, in his περιπλουϛ of the Red-sea, tells us of a neighbouring nation who drank it also; his words are, μελι το χαλαμινον το λεγομενον σαχΧαρι. The Cane, however, as it was a native of the East, so has it been probably cultivated there time immemorial. The raw juice was doubtless first made use of; they afterwards boiled it into a syrup; and, in process of time, an inebriating spirit was prepared therefrom by fermentation. This conjecture is confirmed by the etymology, for the Arabic word סכר32 is evidently derived from the Hebrew שכר,33 which signifies an intoxicating liquor. When the Indians began to make the Cane-juice into sugar, I cannot discover;34 probably, it soon found its way into Europe in that form, first by the Red-sea, and afterwards through Persia, by the Black-sea and Caspian; but the plant itself was not known to Europe, till the Arabians introduced it into the southern parts of Spain, Sicily, and those provinces of France which bor-


  • WHERE’ER the clouds relent in frequent rains,
  • And the Sun fiercely darts his Tropic beam, [25]
  • The Cane will joint,35 ungenial tho’ the soil.
  • But would’st thou see huge casks, in order due,

der on the Pyrenean mountains. It was also successfully cultivated in Egypt, and in many places on the Barbary-coast.36 From the Mediterranean, the Spaniards and Portuguese transported the Cane to the Azores, the Madeiras, the Canary and the Cape-Verd islands, soon after they had been discovered in the fifteenth century: and, in most of these, particularly Madeira, it throve exceedingly.37 Whether the Cane is a native of either the Great or Lesser Antilles38 cannot now be determined, for their discoverers were so wholly employed in searching after imaginary gold-mines, that they took little or no notice of the natural productions. Indeed the wars, wherein they wantonly engaged themselves with the natives, was another hindrance to physical investigation. But whether the Cane was a production of the West-Indies or not, it is probable, the Spaniards and Portuguese did not begin to cultivate it either there or in South America (where it certainly was found), till some years after their discovery. It is also equally uncertain whether Sugar was first made in the Islands or on the Continent, and whether the Spaniards or Portuguese were the first planters in the new world: it is indeed most likely that the latter erected the first sugar-works in Brazil, as they are more lively and enterprizing than the Spaniards. However they had not long the start of the latter; for, in 1506, Ferdinand the Catholic39 ordered the Cane to be carried from the Canaries to St. Domingo,40 in which island one Pedro de Atenca soon after built an Ingenio de açucar, for so the Spaniards call a Sugar-work. But, though they began thus early to turn their thoughts to sugar, the Portuguese far outstripped them in that trade; for Lisbon soon supplied most of Europe with that commodity; and, notwithstanding the English then paid the Portuguese at the rate of 4 l. per C. wt.41 for muscovado,42 yet that price, great as it may now appear, was probably much less than what the Sugar from the East-Indies43 had commonly been sold for. Indeed, so intent was the Crown of Portugal on extending their Brazil-trade, that that of the East-Indies began to be neglected, and soon after suffered a manifest decay. However, their sugar made them ample amends, in which trade they continued almost without a rival for upwards of a century. At last the Dutch, in 1623, drove the Portuguese out of all the northern part of Brazil; and, during the one and twenty years they kept that conquest, those industrious republicans learned the art of making sugar. This probably inspired the English with a desire


  • Roll’d numerous on the Bay, all fully fraught
  • With strong-grain’d muscovado, silvery-grey,
  • Joy of the planter; and if happy Fate [30]
  • Permit a choice: avoid the rocky slope,
  • The clay-cold bottom, and the sandy beach.
  • But let thy biting ax with ceaseless stroke
  • The wild red cedar, the tough locust fell:44

of coming in for a share of the sugar-trade; accordingly they, renouncing their chimerical search after gold mines in Florida and Guiana,45 settled themselves soon after at the mouth of the river Surinam, where they cultivated the Cane with such success, that when the colony was ceded to the Dutch by the treaty of Breda,46 it maintained not less than 40,000 Whites, half that number of slaves, and employed one year with another 15,000 ton of shipping. This cession was a severe blow to the English-trade, which it did not recover for several years, though many of the Surinam Planters carried their art and Negroes to the Leeward Islands47 and Jamaica48, which then began to be the object of political consideration in England.

Sugar is twice mentioned by Chaucer,49 who flourished in the fourteenth century; and succeeding poets, down to the middle of the last, use the epithet Sugar’d, whenever they would express any thing uncommonly pleasing: since that time, the more elegant writers seldom admit of that adjective in a metaphorical sense; but herein perhaps they are affectedly squeamish.

VER. 29. Muscovado,] The Cane-juice being brought to the consistence of syrup, and, by subsequent coction,50 granulated, is then called muscovado (a Spanish word probably, though not to be found in Pineda51) vulgarly brown Sugar; the French term it sucre brut.

VER. 34. wild red Cedar] There are two species of Cedar commonly to be met with in the West-Indies, the white and red, which differ from the cedars cultivated in the Bermudas:52 both are lofty, shady, and of quick growth. The white succeeds in any soil, and produces a flower which, infused like tea, is useful against fish poison.53 The red requires a better mould, and always emits a disagreeable smell before rain. The wood of both are highly useful for many mechanical purposes, and but too little planted.

VER. 34. Locust] This is also a lofty tree. It is of quick growth and handsome, and produces a not disagreeable fruit in a flat pod or legumen, about three inches long. It is a serviceable wood. In botanical books, I find three different names for the locust-tree; that meant here is the Siliqua edulis.


  • Nor let his nectar, nor his silken pods, [35]
  • The sweet-smell’d cassia, or vast ceiba save.54
  • Yet spare the guava, yet the guaiac spare;55
  • A wholesome food the ripened guava yields,
  • Boast of the housewife; while the guaiac grows
  • A sovereign antidote, in wood, bark, gum, [40]
  • To cause the lame his useless crutch forego,
  • And dry the sources of corrupted love.
  • Nor let thy bright impatient flames destroy

VER. 36. or vast ceiba save.] Canoes have been scooped out of this tree, capable of holding upwards of a hundred people; and many hundreds, as authors relate, have been at once sheltered by its shade. Its pods contain a very soft short cotton, like silk: hence the English call the tree the Silk-cotton-tree; and the Spaniards name its cotton Lana de ceiba. It has been wrought into stockings; but its commonest use is to stuff pillows and mattrasses. It might be made an article of commerce, as the tree grows without trouble, and is yearly covered with pods. An infusion of the leaves is a gentle diaphoretic,56 and much recommended in the small-pox. The botanical name of the ceiba is Bombax; and the French call it Fromager. There are two species; the stem of the one being prickly, and that of the other smooth.

VER. 37. Yet spare the guava,] The Spaniards call this tree guayava. It bears a fruit as large, and of much the same shape as a golden pippen. This is of three species, the yellow, the amazon, and the white; the last is the most delicate, but the second sort the largest: All are equally wholesome, when stewed or made into jelly, or marmalade. When raw, they are supposed to generate worms.57 Strangers do not always at first like their flavour, which is peculiarly strong. This, however, goes off by use, and they become exceedingly agreeable. Acosta says the Peruvian guavas surpass those of any other part of America.58 The bark of the tree is an astringent, and tanns leather as well as that of oak. The French call the tree Goyavier.

VER. 37. —yet the guaiac spare;] The lignum-vitae, or pockwood-tree. The virtues of every part of this truly medical tree are too well known to be enumerated here. The hardness and incorruptibility of its timber make abundant amends for the great slowness of its growth, for of it are formed the best posts for houses against hurricanes, and it is no less usefully employed in building wind-mills and cattle-mills.


  • The golden shaddoc, the forbidden fruit,59
  • The white acajou, and rich sabbaca:60 [45]
  • For, where these trees their leafy banners raise
  • Aloft in air, a grey deep earth abounds,
  • Fat, light; yet, when it feels the wounding hoe,
  • Rising in clods, which ripening suns and rain
  • Resolve to crumbles, yet not pulverize: [50]
  • In this the soul of vegetation wakes,
  • Pleas’d at the planter’s call, to burst on day.

  • THRICE happy he, to whom such fields are given!
  • For him the Cane with little labour grows;

VER. 44. The golden shaddoc,] This is the largest and finest kind of orange. It is not a native of America, but was brought to the islands, from the East-Indies, by an Englishman, whose name it bears. It is of three kinds, the sweet, the sour, and the bitter; the juice of all of them is wholesome, and the rind medical. In flavour and wholesomeness, the sweet shaddoc excels the other two, and indeed every other kind of orange, except the forbidden fruit, which scarce yields to any known fruit in the four quarters of the world.

VER. 45. sabbaca:] This is the Indian name of the avocato, avocado, avigato, or, as the English corruptly call it, alligator-pear. The Spaniards in South-America name it aguacate, and under that name it is described by Ulloa.61 However, in Peru and Mexico, it is better known by the appellation of palta or palto. It is a sightly tree, of two species; the one bearing a green fruit, which is the most delicate, and the other a red, which is less esteemed, and grows chiefly in Mexico.62 When ripe, the skin peels easily off, and discovers a butyraceous,63 or rather a marrowy like substance, with greenish veins interspersed. Being eat with salt and pepper, or sugar and lime-juice, it is not only agreeable, but highly nourishing; hence Sir Hans Sloane64 used to stile it Vegetable marrow. The fruit is of the size and shape of the pear named Lady’s-thighs,65 and contains a large stone, from whence the tree is propagated. These trees bear fruit but once a year. Few strangers care for it; but, by use, soon become fond of it. The juice of the kernel marks linen with a violet-colour. Its wood is soft, and consequently of little use. The French call it Bois d’anise,66 and the tree Avocat: the botanical name is Persea.


  • ‘Spite of the dog-star,67 shoots long yellow joints;68 [55]
  • Concocts rich juice, tho’ deluges descend.
  • What if an after-offspring69 it reject?
  • This land, for many a crop, will feed his mills;
  • Disdain supplies, nor ask from compost aid.

  • SUCH, green St. Christopher, thy happy soil!—— [60]
  • Not Grecian Tempé, where Arcadian Pan,70

VER. 60. green St. Christopher,] This beautiful and fertile island, and which, in Shakespear’s words, may justly be stiled

“A precious stone set in the silver sea,”71

lies in seventeenth degree N. L.72 It was discovered by the great Christopher Columbus,73 in his second voyage, 1493, who was so pleased with its appearance, that he honoured it with his Christian name. Though others pretend, that appellation was given it from an imaginary resemblance between a high mountain in its centre, now called Mount Misery, to the fabulous legend of the Devil’s carrying St. Christopher on his shoulders.74 But, be this as it will, the Spaniards soon after settled it, and lived in tolerable harmony with the natives for many years; and, as their fleets commonly called in there to and from America for provision and water, the settlers, no doubt, reaped some advantage from their situation. By Templeman’s Survey,75 it contains eighty square miles, and is about seventy miles in circumference. It is of an irregular oblong figure, and has a chain of mountains, that run South and North almost from the one end of it to the other, formerly covered with wood, but now the Cane-plantations reach almost to their summits, and extend all the way, down their easy declining sides, to the sea. From these mountains some rivers take their rise, which never dry up; and there are many others which, after rain, run into the sea, but which, at other times, are lost before they reach it. Hence, as this island consists of mountain-land and valley, it must always make a midling crop; for when the low grounds fail, the uplands supply that deficiency; and, when the mountain canes are lodged (or become watery from too much rain) those in the plains yield surprisingly. Nor are the plantations here only seasonable, their Sugar sells for more than the Sugar of any other of his Majesty’s islands; as


  • Knit with the Graces, tun’d his silvan pipe,
  • While mute Attention hush’d each charmed rill;
  • Not purple Enna,76 whose irriguous lap,

their produce cannot be refined to the best advantage, without a mixture of St. Kitts’ muscovado. In the barren part of the island, which runs out towards Nevis, are several ponds, which in dry weather crystallize into good salt; and below Mount Misery is a small Solfaterre and collection of fresh water, where fugitive Negroes often take shelter, and escape their pursuers.77 Not far below is a large plain which affords good pasture, water, and wood; and, if the approaches thereto were fortified, which might be done at a moderate expence, it would be rendered inaccessible. The English, repulsing the few natives and Spaniards, who opposed them, began to plant tobacco here A.D. 1623. Two years after, the French landed in St. Christopher on the same day that the English-settlers received a considerable reinforcement from their mother-country; and, the chiefs of both nations, being men of sound policy, entered into an agreement to divide the island between them: the French retaining both extremities, and the English possessing themselves of the middle parts of the island. Some time after both nations erected sugar-works, but there were more tobacco, indigo, coffee, and cotton-plantations, than Sugar ones, as these require a much greater fund to carry them on, than those other.78 All the planters, however, lived easy in their circumstances; for, though the Spaniards, who could not bear to be spectators of their thriving condition, did repossess themselves of the island, yet they were soon obliged to retire, and the colony succeeded better than ever. One reason for this was, that it had been agreed between the two nations, that they should here remain neutral whatever wars their mother-countries might wage against each other in Europe. This was a wise regulation for an infant settlement; but, when King James abdicated the British throne,79 the French suddenly rose, and drove out the unprepared English by force of arms. The French colonists of St. Christopher had soon reason, however, to repent their impolitic breach of faith; for the expelled planters, being assisted by their countrymen from the neighbouring isles, and supported by a formidable fleet, soon recovered, not only their lost plantations, but obliged the French totally to abandon the island. After the treaty of Ryswick,80 indeed, some few of those among them, who had not obtained settlements in Martinico81 and Hispaniola, returned to St. Christopher: but the war of partition soon after breaking out, they were finally expelled, and the whole island was ceded in Sovereignty to the crown of Great Britain, by the treaty of Utrecht.82 Since that time, St. Christopher has gradually improved, and it is now at the height of perfection. The Indian name of St. Christopher is Liamuiga, or the Fertile Island.


  • Strow’d with each fruit of taste, each flower of smell, [65]
  • Sicilian Proserpine,83 delighted, sought;
  • Can vie, blest Isle, with thee.—Tho’ no soft sound
  • Of pastoral stop thine echoes e’er awak’d;
  • Nor raptured poet, lost in holy trance,
  • Thy streams arrested with enchanting song: [70]
  • Yet virgins, far more beautiful than she
  • Whom Pluto ravish’d,84 and more chaste, are thine:
  • Yet probity, from principle, not fear,
  • Actuates thy sons, bold, hospitable, free:
  • Yet a fertility, unknown of old, [75]
  • To other climes denied, adorns thy hills;
  • Thy vales, thy dells adorns.—O might my strain
  • As far transcend the immortal songs of Greece,
  • As thou the partial subject of their praise! [80]
  • Thy fame should float familiar thro’ the world;
  • Each plant should own thy Cane her lawful lord;
  • Nor should old Time, song stops the flight of Time,
  • Obscure thy lustre with his shadowy wing.

  • SCARCE less impregnated, with every power
  • Of vegetation, is the red brick-mould,85 [85]
  • That lies on marly beds.86—The renter, this
  • Can scarce exhaust; how happy for the heir!

VER. 71. yet virgins, far more beautiful] The inhabitants of St. Christopher look whiter, are less sallow, and enjoy finer complexions, than any of the dwellers on the other islands.87 Sloane.


  • SUCH the glad soil, from whence Jamaica’s sons
  • Derive their opulence: thrice fertile land,
  • "The pride, the glory of the sea-girt isles, [90]
  • "Which, like to rich and various gems, inlay
  • "The unadorned bosom of the deep,”88
  • Which first Columbus’ daring keel89 explor’d.

  • DAUGHTERS of Heaven,90 with reverential awe,
  • Pause at that godlike name; for not your flights [95]
  • Of happiest fancy, can outsoar his fame.

  • COLUMBUS, boast of science, boast of man!
  • Yet, by the great, the learned, and the wise,
  • Long held a visionary; who, like thee,
  • Could brook their scorn; wait seven long years at court, [100]
  • A selfish, sullen, dilatory court;
  • Yet never from thy purpos’d plan decline?
  • No God, no Hero, of poetic times,
  • In Truth’s fair annals, may compare with thee!
  • Each passion, weakness of mankind, thou knew’st, [105]
  • Thine own concealing; firmest base of power:
  • Rich in expedients; what most adverse seem’d,
  • And least expected, most advanc’d thine aim.
  • What storms, what monsters, what new forms of death,
  • In a vast ocean, never cut by keel, [110]


  • And where the magnet first its aid declin’d;91
  • Alone, unterrified, didst thou not view?
  • Wise Legislator, had the Iberian King92
  • Thy plan adopted, murder had not drench’d
  • In blood vast kingdoms; nor had hell-born Zeal, [115]
  • And hell-born Avarice, his arms disgrac’d.
  • Yet, for a world, discover’d and subdu’d,
  • What meed93 had’st thou? With toil, disease, worn out,

VER. 111. and where the magnet] The declension of the needle was discovered, A. D. 1492, by Columbus, in his first voyage to America; and would have been highly alarming to any, but one of his undaunted and philosophical turn of mind.

This century will always make a distinguished figure in the history of the human mind; for, during that period, printing was invented, Greek-learning took refuge in Italy, the Reformation began, and America was discovered.

The island of Jamaica was bestowed on Columbus, as some compensation for his discovery of the new world; accordingly his son James settled, and planted it, early [A. D. 1509] the following century. What improvements the Spaniards made therein is no where mentioned; but, had their industry been equal to their opportunities, their improvements should have been considerable; for they continued in the undisturbed possession of it till the year 1596, when Sir Anthony Shirley,94 with a single man of war, took and plundered St. Jago de la Vega,95 which then consisted of 2000 houses. In the year 1635, St. Jago de la Vega was a second time plundered by 500 English from the Leeward islands, tho’ that capital, and the fort, (which they also took) were defended by four times their number of Spaniards. One and twenty years afterwards, the whole island was reduced by the forces sent thither by Oliver Cromwell,96 and has ever since belonged to England. It is by far the largest island possessed by the English in the West Indies. Sir Thomas Modyford, a rich and eminent planter of Barbadoes, removed to Jamaica A. D. 1660, to the great advantage of that island, for he instructed the young English settlers to cultivate the Sugar-cane; for which, and other great improvements which he then made them acquainted with, King Charles,97 three years afterwards, appointed him Governour thereof, in which honourable employment he continued till the year 1669.98


  • Thine age was spent solliciting the Prince,
  • To whom thou gav’st the sceptre of that world. [120]
  • Yet, blessed spirit, where inthron’d thou sit’st,
  • Chief ‘mid the friends of man, repine not thou:
  • Dear to the Nine,99 thy glory shall remain
  • While winged Commerce either ocean ploughs;
  • While its lov’d pole the magnet coyly shuns; [125]
  • While weeps the guaiac, and while joints the Cane.

  • SHALL the Muse celebrate the dark deep mould,
  • With clay or gravel mix’d?—This soil the Cane
  • With partial fondness loves; and oft surveys
  • Its progeny with wonder.—Such rich veins [130]
  • Are plenteous scatter’d o’er the Sugar-isles:
  • But chief that land, to which the bearded fig,100

VER. 132. the bearded Fig] This wonderful tree, by the Indians called the Banian-tree; and by the botanists Ficus Indica, or Bengaliensis, is exactly described by Q. Curtius,101 and beautifully by Milton in the following lines:102

“The Fig-tree, not that kind renown’d for fruit,
“But such as at this day to Indians known,
“In Malabar and Decan spreads her arms;103
“Branching so broad and long, that in the ground,
“The bended twigs take root, and daughters grow
“About the mother-tree, a pillar’d shade,
“High over-arch’d, and echoing walks between.
“There oft the Indian herdsman, shunning heat,
“Shelters in cool, and tends his pasturing herds
“At Loop-holes cut through thickest shade.”——

What year the Spaniards first discovered Barbadoes is not certainly known; this however is certain, that they never settled there, but only made use of it as a stock-island104


  • Prince of the forest, gave Barbadoes105 name:
  • Chief Nevis, justly for its hot baths fam’d:
  • And breezy Mountserrat,106 whose wonderous springs [135]

in their voyages to and from South-America, and the Islands; accordingly we are told, when the English first landed there, which was about the end of the sixteenth or beginning of the seventeenth century, they found in it an excellent breed of wild hogs, but no inhabitants. In the year 1627, Barbadoes, with most of the other Caribbee-islands, were granted by Charles I. to the Earl of Carlisle,107 that nobleman agreeing to pay to the Earl of Marlborough,108 and his heirs, a perpetual annuity of 300 l. per annum,109 for his waving his claim to Barbadoes, which he had obtained, by patent, in the preceding reign. The adventurers to whom that nobleman parcelled out this island, at first cultivated tobacco; but, that not turning out to their advantage, they applied, with better success, to cotton, indigo, and ginger.110 At last, some cavaliers of good fortune transporting themselves thither, and introducing the Sugar-cane [A. D. 1647] probably from Brazil, in ten years time the island was peopled with upwards of 30,000 Whites, and twice that number of Negroes, and sent yearly very considerable quantities of sugar to the mother-country. At the Restoration, King Charles II. bought off the claim of the Carlisle-family; and, in consideration of its then becoming a royal instead of a proprietary government, the planters gave the Crown 4 1/2 per cent. on their sugars; which duty111 still continues, although the island is said to be less able to pay it now than it was a hundred years ago. It is upwards of 20 miles long, and in some places almost 14 broad.

VER. 134. Chief Nevis,] This island, which does not contain many fewer square miles than St. Christopher, is more rocky, and almost of a circular figure. It is separated from that island by a channel not above one mile and an half over, and lies to windward. Its warm bath possesses all the medical properties of the hot well at Bristol,112 and its water, being properly bottled, keeps as well at sea, and is no less agreeable to the palate. It was for many years the capital of the Leeward Island government; and, at that period, contained both more Whites and Blacks than it does at present, often mustering 3000 men. The English first settled there A. D. 1628. Sixty-two years aftewards, the chief town was almost wholly destroyed by an earthquake; and, in 1706, the planters were well-nigh ruined by the French, who carried off their slaves contrary to capitulation. It must have been discovered in Columbus’s second voyage, A. D. 1493.113

VER. 135. And breezy Mountserrat,] This island, which lies 30 miles to the south-west of Antigua,114 is not less famous for its solfaterre (or volcano), and hot petrifying spring, than for the goodness of its sugars. Being almost circular in its


  • Change, like Medusa’s head, whate’er they touch,
  • To stony hardness; boast this fertile glebe.

  • THO’ such the soils the Antillean Cane
  • Supremely loves; yet other soils abound,
  • Which art may tutor to obtain its smile. [140]
  • Say, shall the experienc’d Muse that art recite?
  • How sand will fertilize stiff barren clay?
  • How clay unites the light, the porous mould,
  • Sport of each breeze? And how the torpid nymph
  • Of the rank pool, so noisome to the smell, [145]
  • May be solicited, by wily ways,
  • To draw her humid train, and, prattling, run
  • Down the reviving slopes? Or shall she say
  • What glebes115 ungrateful to each other art,
  • Their genial treasures ope to fire alone? [150]
  • Record the different composts; which the cold
  • To plastic gladness warm? The torrid, which
  • By soothing coolness win? The sharp saline,
  • Which best subdue? Which mollify the sour?

shape, it cannot contain much less land than either Nevis or St. Christopher. It is naturally strong, so that when the French made descents thereon, in K. William and Q. Anne’s time,116 they were always repulsed with considerable loss. It was settled by that great adventurer Sir Thomas Warner,117 A.D. 1632, who sent thither some of his people from St. Christopher, for that purpose. In the beginning of the reign of Charles II. the French took it, but it was restored, A.D. 1667, by the treaty of Breda. In this island, the Roman-catholics, who behaved well when our enemies attempted to conquer it, have many privileges, and of course are more numerous there, than in any other of the English Caribbee-islands. Its capital is called Plymouth. Columbus discovered it in his second voyage.


  • To thee, if Fate low level land assign, [155]
  • Slightly cohering, and of sable hue,
  • Far from the hill, be parsimony thine.
  • For tho’ this year when constant showers descend;
  • The speeding gale, thy sturdy numerous stock,
  • Scarcely suffice to grind thy mighty Canes: [160]
  • Yet thou, with rueful eye, for many a year,
  • Shalt view thy plants burnt by the torch of day;
  • Hear their parch’d wan blades rustle in the air;
  • While their black sugars, doughy to the feel,
  • Will not ev’n pay the labour of thy swains. [165]

  • OR, if the mountain be thy happier lot,
  • Let prudent foresight still thy coffers guard.
  • For tho’ the clouds relent in nightly rain,
  • Tho’ thy rank Canes wave lofty in the gale:
  • Yet will the arrow, ornament of woe, [170]
  • (Such monarchs oft-times give) their jointing stint;
  • Yet will winds lodge them, ravening rats destroy,
  • Or troops of monkeys thy rich harvest steal.118
  • The earth must also wheel around the sun,
  • And half perform that circuit; ere the bill119 [175]

VER. 170. Yet will the arrow,] That part of the Cane which shoots up into the fructification, is called by planters its Arrow, having been probably used for that purpose by the Indians. Till the arrow drops, all additional jointing in the Cane is supposed to be stopped.


  • Mow down thy sugars: and tho’ all thy mills,
  • Crackling, o’erflow with a redundant juice;
  • Poor tastes the liquor; coction long demands,
  • And highest temper, ere it saccharize;120
  • A meagre produce. Such is Virtue’s meed, [180]
  • Alas, too oft in these degenerate days.
  • Thy cattle likewise, as they drag the wain,121
  • Charg’d from the beach; in spite of whips and shouts,
  • Will stop, will pant, will sink beneath the load;
  • A better fate deserving.—— [185]
  • Besides, thy land itself is insecure:
  • For oft the glebe, and all its waving load,
  • Will journey, forc’d off by the mining rain;
  • And, with its faithless burden, disarrange
  • Thy neighbour’s vale. So Markley-hill of old, [190]
  • As sung thy bard, Pomona, (in these isles
  • Yet unador’d;) with all its spreading trees,
  • Full fraught with apples, chang’d its lofty site.

  • BUT, as in life, the golden mean is best;
  • So happiest he whose green plantation lies [195]
  • Nor from the hill too far, nor from the shore.

VER. 179. And highest temper,] Shell, or rather marble quick-lime,122 is so called by the planters: Without this, the juice of the Cane cannot be concreted into sugar, at least to advantage. See Book III. With quick-lime the French join ashes as a temper, and this mixture they call Enyvrage. It is hoped the Reader will pardon the introduction of the verb saccharize, as no other so emphatically expressed the Author’s meaning; for some chemists define sugar to be a native salt, and others a soap.


  • PLANTER, if thou with wonder wouldst survey
  • Redundant harvests,123 load thy willing soil;
  • Let sun and rain mature thy deep-hoed land,
  • And old fat dung co-operate with these. [200]
  • Be this great truth still present to thy mind;
  • The half well-cultur’d far exceeds the whole,
  • Which lust of gain, unconscious of its end,
  • Ungrateful vexes with unceasing toil.

  • AS, not indulg’d, the richest lands grow poor; [205]
  • And Liamuiga may, in future times,
  • If too much urg’d, her barrenness bewail:
  • So cultivation, on the shallowest soil,
  • O’erspread with rocky cliffs, will bid the Cane,
  • With spiry pomp, all bountifully rise. [210]
  • Thus Britain’s flag, should discipline relent,
  • 'Spite of the native courage of her sons,
  • Would to the lily124 strike: ah, very far,
  • Far be that woful day: the lily then
  • Will rule wide ocean with resistless sway; [215]
  • And to old Gallia’s125 haughty shore transport
  • The lessening crops of these delicious isles.

VER. 206. And Liamuiga,] The Caribbean name of St. Christopher.


  • OF composts shall the Muse descend to sing,
  • Nor soil her heavenly plumes? The sacred Muse
  • Nought sordid deems, but what is base; nought fair [220]
  • Unless true Virtue stamp it with her seal.
  • Then, Planter, wouldst thou double thine estate;
  • Never, ah never, be asham’d to tread
  • Thy dung-heaps, where the refuse of thy mills,
  • With all the ashes, all thy coppers126 yield, [225]
  • With weeds, mould, dung, and stale, a compost form,
  • Of force to fertilize the poorest soil.

  • BUT, planter, if thy lands lie far remote
  • And of access are difficult; on these,
  • Leave the Cane’s sapless foliage; and with pens [230]
  • Wattled,127 (like those the Muse hath oft-times seen
  • When frolic fancy led her youthful steps,
  • In green Dorchestria’s128 plains), the whole inclose:
  • There well thy stock with provender129 supply;
  • The well-fed stock will soon that food repay. [235]

  • SOME of the skilful teach, and some deny,
  • That yams130 improve the soil. In meagre lands,

VER. 237. That yams improve the soil.] The botanical name of this plant is Dioscoria. Its leaves, like those of the water-melon,131 or gourd, soon mantle over the ground where it is planted. It takes about eight months to come to perfection, and then is


  • 'Tis known the yam will ne’er to bigness swell;
  • And from each mould the vegetable tribes,
  • However frugal, nutriment derive: [240]
  • Yet may their sheltering vines, their dropping leaves,
  • Their roots dividing the tenacious glebe,
  • More than refund the sustenance they draw.

  • WHETHER the fattening compost, in each hole,
  • 'Tis best to throw; or, on the surface spread; [245]
  • Is undetermin’d: Trials must decide.
  • Unless kind rains and fostering dews descend,
  • To melt the compost’s fertilizing salts;
  • A stinted plant, deceitful of thy hopes,
  • Will from those beds slow spring where hot dung lies: [250]
  • But, if ‘tis scatter’d generously o’er all,
  • The Cane will better bear the solar blaze;
  • Less rain demand; and, by repeated crops,
  • Thy land improv’d, its gratitude will show.

  • ENOUGH of composts, Muse; of soils, enough: [255]
  • When best to dig, and when inhume the Cane;
  • A task how arduous! next demands thy song.

a wholesome root, either boiled or roasted.132 They will sometimes weigh one and an half, or two pounds, but their commonest size is from six ounces to nine. They cannot be kept good above half a year. They are a native of South-America, the West-Indies, and of most parts of Guinea.133


  • IT not imports beneath what sign thy hoes
  • The deep trough sink, and ridge alternate raise:
  • If this from washes guard thy gemmy tops; [260]
  • And that arrest the moisture these require.

  • YET, should the site of thine estate permit,
  • Let the trade-wind134 thy ridges ventilate;
  • So shall a greener, loftier Cane arise,
  • And richest nectar in thy coppers foam. [265]

  • AS art transforms the savage face of things,
  • And order captivates the harmonious mind;
  • Let not thy Blacks irregularly hoe:
  • But, aided by the line, consult the site
  • Of thy demesnes;135 and beautify the whole. [270]
  • So when a monarch rushes to the war,
  • To drive invasion from his frighted realm;
  • Some delegated chief the frontier views,
  • And to each squadron, and brigade, assigns
  • Their order’d station: Soon the tented field [275]

VER. 260. gemmy tops;] The summit of the Cane being smaller-jointed as well as softer, and consequently having more gems, from whence the young sprouts shoot, is properer for planting than any other part of it. From one to four junks,136 each about a foot long, are put in every hole. Where too many junks are planted in one hole, the Canes may be numerous, but can neither become vigorous, nor yield such a quantity of rich liquor as they otherwise would. In case the young shoots do not appear above ground in four or five weeks, the deficiencies must be supplied with new tops.


  • Brigade and squadron, whiten on the sight;
  • And fill spectators with an awful joy.

  • PLANTER, improvement137 is the child of time;
  • What your sires knew not, ye their offspring know:
  • But hath your art receiv’d Perfection’s stamp? [280]
  • Thou can’st not say.——Unprejudic’d, then learn
  • Of ancient modes to doubt, and new to try:
  • And if Philosophy, with Wisdom, deign
  • Thee to enlighten with their useful lore;
  • Fair Fame and riches will reward thy toil. [285]

  • THEN say, ye swains, whom wealth and fame inspire,
  • Might not the plough, that rolls on rapid wheels,
  • Save no small labour to the hoe-arm’d gang?
  • Might not the culture taught the British hinds,138
  • By Ceres’ son,139 unfailing crops secure; [290]
  • Tho’ neither dung nor fallowing lent their aid?

  • THE cultur’d land recalls the devious Muse;
  • Propitious to the planter be the call:
  • For much, my friend, it thee imports to know
  • The meetest season to commit thy tops, [295]
  • With best advantage, to the well-dug mould.

VER. 290. By Ceres’ son,] Jethro Tull, Esq; the greatest improver in modern husbandry.


  • The task how difficult, to cull the best
  • From thwarting sentiments; and best adorn
  • What Wisdom chuses, in poetic garb!
  • Yet, Inspiration, come: the theme unsung, [300]
  • Whence never poet cropt one bloomy wreath;
  • Its vast importance to my native land,
  • Whose sweet idea rushes on my mind,
  • And makes me ‘mid this paradise repine;
  • Urge me to pluck, from Fancy’s soaring wing, [305]
  • A plume to deck Experience’ hoary brow.

  • ATTEND.——The son of Time and Truth declares;
  • Unless the low-hung clouds drop fatness down,
  • No bunching plants of vivid green will spring,
  • In goodly ranks, to fill the planter’s eye. [310]
  • Let then Sagacity, with curious ken,140
  • Remark the various signs of future rain.
  • The signs of rain, the Mantuan Bard141 hath sung
  • In loftiest numbers; friendly to thy swains,
  • Once fertile Italy: but other marks [315]
  • Portend the approaching shower, in these hot climes.

  • SHORT sudden rains, from Ocean’s ruffled bed,
  • Driven by some momentary squalls, will oft
  • With frequent heavy bubbling drops, down-fall;


  • While yet the Sun, in cloudless lustre, shines: [320]
  • And draw their humid train o’er half the isle.
  • Unhappy he! who journeys then from home,
  • No shade to screen him. His untimely fate
  • His wife, his babes, his friends, will soon deplore;
  • Unless hot wines, dry cloaths, and friction’s aid, [325]
  • His fleeting spirits stay. Yet not even these,
  • Nor all Apollo’s arts,142 will always bribe
  • The insidious tyrant death, thrice tyrant here:
  • Else good Amyntor,143 him the graces lov’d,
  • Wisdom caress’d, and Themis144 call’d her own, [330]
  • Had liv’d by all admir’d, had now perus’d
  • “These lines, with all the malice of a friend.”145

  • YET future rains the careful may foretell:
  • Mosquitos, sand-flies, seek the shelter’d roof,

VER. 334. Mosquitos,] This is a Spanish word, signifying a Gnat, or Fly. The are very troublesome, especially to strangers, whom they bite unmercifully, causing a yellow coloured tumour, attended with excessive itching. Ugly ulcers have often been occasioned by scratching those swellings, in persons of a bad habit of body. Though natives of the West-Indies, they are not less common in the coldest regions; for Mr. Maupertuis146 takes notice how troublesome they were to him and his attendants on the snowy summit of certain mountains within the arctic circle. They, however, chiefly love shady, moist, and warm places. Accordingly they are commonest to be met with in the corners of rooms, towards evening, and before rain. They are so light, as not to be felt when they pitch on the skin; and, as soon as they have darted in their proboscis, fly off, so that the first intimation one has of being bit by them, is the itching tumour. Warm lime-juice is its remedy. The Mosquito makes a humming noise, especially in the night-time.


  • And with fell rage the stranger-guest assail, [335]
  • Nor spare the sportive child; from their retreats
  • Cockroaches crawl displeasingly abroad:
  • These, without pity, let thy slaves destroy;
  • (Like Harpies,147 they defile whate’er they touch:)
  • While those, the smother of combustion quells. [340]
  • The speckled lizard to its hole retreats,

VER. 334. sand-flies,] This insect the Spaniards call Mosquitilla, being much smaller than the Mosquito. Its bite is like a spark of fire, falling on the skin, which it raises into a small tumour accompanied with itching. But if the sand-fly causes a sharper and more sudden pain than the Mosquito, yet it is a more honourable enemy, for remaining upon the skin after the puncture, it may easily be killed. Its colour is grey and black, striped. Lemon-juice or first runnings cure its bite.

VER. 337. Cockroaches crawl] This is a large species of the chafer, or scaribaeus, and is a most disagreeable as well as destructive insect. There is scarce any thing which it will not devour, and wherever it has remained for any time, it leaves a nauseous smell behind it. Though better than an inch long, their thickness is no ways correspondent, so that they can insinuate themselves almost through any crevise, &c. into cabinets, drawers, &c. The smell of cedar is said to frighten them away, but this is a popular mistake, for I have often killed them in presses of that wood. There is a species of Cockroach, which, on account of a beating noise which it makes, especially in the night, is called the Drummer.148 Though larger, it is neither of so burnished a colour, nor so quick in its motions as the common sort, than which it is also less frequent, and not so pernicious; yet both will nibble peoples toe-ends, especially if not well washed, and have sometimes occasioned uneasy sores there. They are natives of a warm climate. The French call them Ravets.

VER. 341. the speckled lizard] This is meant of the ground-lizard, and not of the tree-lizard, which is of a fine green colour. There are many kinds of ground-lizards, which, as they are common in the hot parts of Europe, I shall not describe.


  • And black crabs travel from the mountain down;149
  • Thy ducks their feathers prune; thy doves return,
  • In faithful flocks, and, on the neighbouring roof,
  • Perch frequent; where, with pleas’d attention, they [345]
  • Behold the deepening congregated clouds,
  • With sadness, blot the azure vault of heaven.

  • NOW, while the shower depends, and rattle loud
  • Your doors and windows, haste ye housewives, place
  • Your spouts and pails; ye Negroes, seek the shade, [350]
  • Save those who open with the ready hoe
  • The enriching water-course: for, see, the drops,

All of them are perfectly innocent. The Caribbeans used to eat them; they are not inferiour to snakes as a medicated food. Snuff forced into their mouth soon convulses them. They change colour, and become torpid; but, in a few hours, recover. The guana, or rather Iguana,150 is the largest sort of lizard. This, when irritated, will fly at one. It lives mostly upon fruit. It has a saw-like appearance, which ranges from its head all along its back, to its tail. The flesh of it is esteemed a great delicacy. The first writers on the Lues Venerea,151 forbid its use, to those who labour under that disease. It is a very ugly animal. In some parts of South-America, the alligator152 is called Iguana.

VER. 342. And black crabs] Black land-crabs are excellent eating; but as they sometimes will occasion a most violent cholera morbus,153 (owing, say planters, to their feeding on the mahoe-berry154) they should never be dressed till they have fed for some weeks in a crab-house, after being caught by the Negroes. When they moult, they are most delicate; and then, it is believed, never poison. This however is certain, that at that time they have no gall, but, in its stead, the petrifaction called a Crabs-eye is found. As I have frequently observed their great claws (with which they severely bite the unwary) of very unequal sizes, it is probable, these regenerate when broke off by accident, or otherwise.


  • Which fell with slight aspersion, now descend
  • In streams continuous on the laughing land.
  • The coyest Naiads155 quit their rocky caves, [355]
  • And, with delight, run brawling to the main;
  • While those, who love still visible to glad
  • The thirsty plains from never-ceasing urns,
  • Assume more awful majesty, and pour,
  • With force resistless, down the channel’d rocks. [360]
  • The rocks, or split, or hurried from their base,
  • With trees, are whirl’d impetuous to the sea:
  • Fluctuates the forest; the torn mountains roar:
  • The main itself recoils for many a league,
  • While its green face is chang’d to sordid brown. [365]
  • A grateful freshness every sense pervades;
  • While beats the heart with unaccustom’d joy:
  • Her stores fugacious156 Memory now recalls;
  • And Fancy prunes her wings for loftiest flights.
  • The mute creation share the enlivening hour; [370]
  • Bounds the brisk kid, and wanton plays the lamb.
  • The drooping plants revive; ten thousand blooms,
  • Which, with their fragrant scents, perfume the air,
  • Burst into being; while the Canes put on
  • Glad Nature’s liveliest robe, the vivid green. [375]


  • BUT chief, let fix’d Attention cast his eye
  • On the capt mountain, whose high rocky verge
  • The wild fig157 canopies, (vast woodland king,
  • Beneath thy branching shade a banner’d host
  • May lie in ambush!) and whose shaggy sides, [380]
  • Trees shade, of endless green, enormous size,
  • Wondrous in shape, to botany unknown,
  • Old as the deluge:158——There, in secret haunts,
  • The watery spirits ope their liquid court;
  • There, with the wood-nymphs, link’d in festal band, [385]
  • (Soft airs and Phoebus159 wing them to their arms)
  • Hold amorous dalliance. Ah, may none profane,
  • With fire, or steel, their mystic privacy:
  • For there their fluent offspring first see day,
  • Coy infants sporting; silver-footed dew [390]
  • To bathe by night thy sprouts in genial balm;
  • The green-stol’d Naiad of the tinkling rill,
  • Whose brow the fern-tree shades;160 the power of rain

VER. 393. Whose brow the fern-tree] This only grows in mountainous situations. Its stem shoots up to a considerable height, but it does not divide into branches, till near the summit, where it shoots out horizontally, like an umbrella, into leaves, which resemble those of the common fern. I know of no medical uses, whereto this singularly beautiful tree has been applied, and indeed its wood, being spungy, is seldom used to oeconomical purposes. It, however, serves well enough for building mountain-huts, and temporary fences for cattle.


  • To glad the thirsty soil on which, arrang’d,
  • The gemmy summits of the Cane await [395]
  • Thy Negroe-train, (in linen lightly wrapt,)161
  • Who now that painted Iris162 girds the sky,
  • (Aerial arch, which Fancy loves to stride!)
  • Disperse, all-jocund, o’er the long-hoed land.

  • THE bundles some untie; the withered leaves, [400]
  • Others strip artful off, and careful lay,
  • Twice one junk, distant in the amplest bed:
  • O’er these, with hasty hoe, some lightly spread
  • The mounded interval; and smooth the trench:
  • Well-pleas’d, the master-swain reviews their toil; [405]
  • And rolls, in fancy, many a full-fraught cask.
  • So, when the shield was forg’d for Peleus’ Son;163
  • The swarthy Cyclops164 shar’d the important task:
  • With bellows, some reviv’d the seeds of fire;
  • Some, gold, and brass, and steel, together fus’d [410]
  • In the vast furnace; while a chosen few,
  • In equal measures lifting their bare arms,
  • Inform the mass; and, hissing in the wave,
  • Temper the glowing orb: their fire beholds,
  • Amaz’d, the wonders of his fusile art. [415]


  • WHILE Procyon165 reigns yet fervid in the sky;
  • While yet the fiery Sun in Leo166 rides;
  • And the Sun’s child, the mail’d anana,167 yields
  • His regal apple to the ravish’d taste;
  • And thou green avocato, charm of sense, [420]
  • Thy ripened marrow liberally bestow’st;
  • Begin the distant mountain-land to plant:
  • So shall thy Canes defy November’s cold,
  • Ungenial to the upland young; so best,
  • Unstinted by the arrow’s deadening power,168 [425]
  • Long yellow joints shall flow with generous juice.

  • BUT, till the lemon, orange, and the lime,169
  • Amid their verdant umbrage, countless glow
  • With fragrant fruit of vegetable gold;
  • ‘Till yellow plantanes170 bend the unstain’d bough [430]
  • With crooked clusters, prodigally full;
  • ‘Till Capricorn171 command the cloudy sky;
  • And moist Aquarius172 melt in daily showers,

VER. 418. the mail’d anana] This is the pine-apple, and needs no description; the cherimoya,173 a South-American fruit, is by all, who have tasted both, allowed to surpass the pine, and is even said to be more wholesome. The botanical name of the pine-apple is bromelia. Of the wild pine-apple,174 or ananas bravo, hedges are made in South-America. It produces an inferior sort of fruit.


  • Friend to the Cane-isles; trust not thou thy tops,
  • Thy future riches, to the low-land plain: [435]
  • And if kind Heaven, in pity to thy prayers,
  • Shed genial influence; as the earth absolves
  • Her annual circuit, thy rich ripened Canes
  • Shall load thy waggons, mules, and Negroe-train.

  • BUT chief thee, Planter, it imports to mark [440]
  • (Whether thou breathe the mountain’s humid air,
  • Or pant with heat continual on the plain;)
  • What months relent, and which from rain are free.

  • IN different islands of the ocean-stream,
  • Even in the different parts of the same isle, [445]
  • The seasons vary; yet attention soon
  • Will give thee each variety to know.
  • This once observ’d; at such a time inhume
  • Thy plants, that, when they joint, (important age,
  • Like youth just stepping into life) the clouds [450]
  • May constantly bedew them: so shall they
  • Avoid those ails, which else their manhood kill.

  • SIX times the changeful moon must blunt her horns,175
  • And fill with borrowed light her silvery urn;


  • Ere thy tops, trusted to the mountain-land, [455]
  • Commence their jointing: but four moons suffice
  • To bring to puberty the low-land Cane.

  • IN plants, in beasts, in man’s imperial race,
  • An alien mixture meliorates the breed;
  • Hence Canes, that sickened dwarfish on the plain, [460]
  • Will shoot with giant-vigour on the hill.
  • Thus all depends on all; so God ordains.
  • Then let not man for little selfish ends,
  • (Britain, remember this important truth;)
  • Presume the principle to counteract [465]
  • Of universal love; for God is love,
  • And wide creation shares alike his care.

  • ‘TIS said by some, and not unletter’d they,
  • That chief the Planter, if he wealth desire,
  • Should note the phases of the fickle moon. [470]
  • On thee, sweet empress of the night, depend
  • The tides; stern Neptune176 pays his court to thee;
  • The winds, obedient at thy bidding shift,
  • And tempests rise or fall; even lordly man,
  • Thine energy controls.——Not so the Cane; [475]
  • The Cane its independency may boast,
  • Tho’ some less noble plants thine influence own.


  • OF mountain-lands oeconomy permits
  • A third, in Canes of mighty growth to rise:
  • But, in the low-land plain, the half will yield [480]
  • Tho’ not so lofty, yet a richer Cane,
  • For many a crop; if seasons glad the soil.

  • WHILE rolls the Sun from Aries to the Bull,177
  • And till the Virgin178 his hot beams inflame;
  • The Cane, with richest, most redundant juice, [485]
  • Thy spacious coppers fills. Then manage so,
  • By planting in succession; that thy crops
  • The wondering daughters of the main179 may waft
  • To Britain’s shore, ere Libra180 weight the year:
  • So shall thy merchant chearful credit grant, [490]
  • And well-earn’d opulence thy cares repay.

  • THY fields thus planted; to secure the Canes
  • From the Goat’s baneful tooth; the churning boar;
  • From thieves; from fire or casual or design’d;
  • Unfailing herbage to thy toiling herds [495]
  • Would’st thou afford;181 and the spectators charm
  • With beauteous prospects: let the frequent hedge
  • Thy green plantation, regular, divide.

VER. 482. if seasons glad the soil.] Long-continued and violent rains are called Seasons in the West-Indies.182


  • WITH limes, with lemons, let thy fences glow,
  • Grateful to sense; now children of this clime: [500]
  • And here and there let oranges erect
  • Their shapely beauties, and perfume the sky.
  • Nor less delightful blooms the logwood-hedge,183
  • Whose wood to coction yields a precious balm,
  • Specific in the flux: Endemial ail,184 [505]
  • Much cause have I to weep thy fatal sway.——
  • But God is just, and man must not repine.
  • Nor shall the ricinus185 unnoted pass;

VER. 500. Now children of this clime:] It is supposed that oranges, lemons, and limes were introduced into America by the Spaniards; but I am more inclined to believe they are natural to the climate. The Spaniards themselves probably had the two first from the Saracens,186 for the Spanish noun Naranja, whence the English word Orange, is plainly Arabic.

VER. 503. the logwood-hedge.] Linnaeus’s name for this useful tree is Haemotoxylon, but it is better known to physicians by that of Lignum campechense. Its virtues, as a medicine, and properties as an ingredient in dying, need not to be enumerated in this place. It makes a no less strong than beautiful hedge in the West-Indies, where it rises to a considerable height.

VER. 508. Nor shall the ricinus] This shrub is commonly called the physic-nut. It is generally divided into three kinds, the common, the French, and the Spanish, which differ from each other in their leaves and flowers, if not in their fruit or seeds. The plant from which the castor-oil is extracted is also called Ricinus, though it has no resemblance to any of the former, in leaves, flowers, or seeds. In one particular they all agree, viz. in their yielding to coction or expression a purgative or emetic187 oil. The Spaniards name these nuts Avellanas purgativas; hence Ray188 terms them Avellanae purgatrices novi orbis. By roasting they are supposed to lose part of their virulency, which is wholly destroyed, say some people, by taking out a leaf-like substance that is to be found between the lobes. The nut exceeds a walnut, or even an almond,189 in sweetness, and yet three or four of them will operate briskly both up and down. The French call this useful shrub Medecinier. That species of it which bears red coral like flowers is named Bellyach190 by the Barbadians; and its ripe seeds are supposed to be specific against melancholy.191


  • Yet, if the cholic’s192 deathful pangs thou dread’st,
  • Taste not its luscious nut. The acassee,193 [510]
  • With which the sons of Jewry, stiff-neck’d race,194
  • Conjecture says, our God-Messiah crown’d;
  • Soon shoots a thick impenetrable fence,
  • Whose scent perfumes the night and morning sky,
  • Tho’ baneful be its root. The privet195 too, [515]
  • Whose white flowers rival the first drifts of snow
  • On Grampia’s piny hills;196 (O might the muse
  • Tread, flush’d with health, the Grampian hills again!)
  • Emblem of innocence shall grace my song.
  • Boast of the shrubby tribe, carnation fair,197 [520]
  • Nor thou repine, tho’ late the muse record

VER. 510. the acassee,] Acacia. This is a species of thorn; the juice of the root is supposed to be poisonous. Its seeds are contained in a pod or ligumen. It is of the class of the syngenesia. No astringent juice is extracted from it. Its trivial name is Cashaw. Tournefort198 describes it in his voyage to the Levant.199 Some call it the Holy Thorn, and others Sweet Brier. The half-ripe pod affords a strong cement; and the main stem, being wounded, produces a transparent gum, like the Arabic, to which tree this bears a strong resemblance.

VER. 515. the privet] Ligustrum. This shrub is sufficiently known. Its leaves and flowers make a good gargle in the aphthae,200 and ulcered throat.

VER. 520. carnation fair.] This is indeed a most beautiful flowering shrub. It is a native of the West-Indies, and called, from a French governor, named Depoinci,201 Poinciana. If permitted, it will grow twenty feet high; but, in order to make it a good fence, it should be kept low. It is always in blossom. Tho’ not purgative, it is of the senna kind.202 Its leaves and flowers are stomachic, carminative, and emmenagogue.203 Some authors name it Cauda pavonis,204 on account of its inimitable beauty; the flowers have a physicky smell. How it came to be called Doodle-doo I know not; the Barbadians more properly term it Flower Fence.205 This plant grows also in Guinea.


  • Thy bloomy honours. Tipt with burnish’d gold,
  • And with imperial purple crested high,
  • More gorgeous than the train of Juno’s bird,206
  • Thy bloomy honours oft the curious muse [525]
  • Hath seen transported: seen the humming bird,207
  • Whose burnish’d neck bright glows with verdant gold;
  • Least of the winged vagrants of the sky,
  • Yet dauntless as the strong-pounc’d bird of Jove;208
  • With fluttering vehemence attack thy cups, [530]
  • To rob them of their nectar’s luscious store.

  • BUT if with stones thy meagre lands are spread;
  • Be these collected, they will pay thy toil:
  • And let Vitruvius,209 aided by the line,
  • Fence thy plantations with a thick-built wall. [535]
  • On this lay cuttings of the prickly pear;210

VER. 526. seen the humming bird,] The humming bird is called Picaflore by the Spaniards, on account of its hovering over flowers, and sucking their juices, without lacerating, or even so much as discomposing their petals. Its Indian name, says Ulloa, is Guinde, though it is also known by the appellation of Rabilargo and Lizongero. By the Caribbeans it was called Collobree. It is common in all the warm parts of America. There are various species of them, all exceeding small, beautiful and bold. The crested one, though not so frequent, is yet more beautiful than the others. It is chiefly to be found in the woody parts of the mountains. Edwards211 has described a very beautiful humming bird, with a long tail, which is a native of Surinam, but which I never saw in these islands. They are easily caught in rainy weather.

VER. 536. prickly pear;] The botanical name of this plant is Opuntia; it will


  • They soon a formidable fence will shoot:
  • Wild liquorice here its red beads loves to hang,212
  • Whilst scandent213 blossoms, yellow, purple, blue,
  • Unhurt, wind round its shield-like leaf and spears. [540]
  • Nor is its fruit inelegant of taste,
  • Tho’ more its colour charms the ravish’d eye;
  • Vermeil,214 as youthful beauty’s roseat hue;
  • As thine, fair Christobelle:215 ah, when will fate,
  • That long hath scowl’d relentless on the bard, [545]
  • Give him some small plantation to inclose,
  • Which he may call his own? Not wealth he craves,

grow in the barrenest soils, and on the tops of walls, if a small portion of earth be added. There are two sorts of it, one whose fruit is roundish and sweet, the other, which has more the shape of a fig, is sour. The former is sometimes eaten, but the other seldom. The French call them Pomme de Raquette. Both fruit and leaves are guarded with sharp prickles, and, even in the interior part of the fruit, there is one which must be removed before it is eaten. The leaves, which are half an inch thick, having a sort of pulp interposed between their surfaces, being deprived of their spines, and softened by the fire, make no bad poultice for inflammations. The juice of the fruit is an innocent fucus,216 and is often used to tinge guava jellies. The opuntia, upon which the cochineal insect breeds, has no spines, and is cultivated with care in South-America, where it also grows wild. The prickly pear makes a strong fence, and is easily trimmed with a scymitar.217 It grows naturally in some parts of Spain.218

VER. 538. wild liquorice] This is a scandent plant, from which the Negroes gather what they call Jumbee Beeds. These are about the size of pigeon-peas, almost round, of a red colour, with a black speck on one extremity. They act as an emetic, but, being violent in their operation, great caution should be observed in using them. The leaves make a good pectoral drink219 in disorders of the breast. By the French it is named Petit Panacoco, to distinguish it from a large tree, which bears seeds of the same colours, only much bigger. This tree is a species of black ebony.220


  • But independance: yet if thou, sweet maid,
  • In health and virtue bloom; tho’ worse betide,
  • Thy smile will smoothe adversity’s rough brow. [550]

  • IN Italy’s green bounds, the myrtle shoots
  • A fragrant fence, and blossoms in the sun.
  • Here, on the rockiest verge of these blest isles,
  • With little care, the plant of love would grow. [555]
  • Then to the citron join the plant of love,
  • And with their scent and shade enrich your isles.

  • YET some pretend, and not unspecious they,
  • The wood-nymphs foster the contagious blast.221
  • Foes to the Dryads,222 they remorseless fell [560]
  • Each shrub of shade, each tree of spreading root,
  • That woo the first glad fannings of the breeze.
  • Far from the muse be such inhuman thoughts;
  • Far better recks223 she of the woodland tribes,
  • Earth’s eldest birth, and earth’s best ornament. [565]
  • Ask him, whom rude necessity compels
  • To dare the noontide fervor, in this clime,
  • Ah, most intensely hot; how much he longs

VER. 559. contagious blast.] So a particular species of blight is called in the West-Indies. See its description in the second book.


  • For cooling vast impenetrable shade?
  • The muse, alas, th’ experienc’d muse can tell: [570]
  • Oft hath she travell’d, while solstitial beams,
  • Shot yellow deaths224 on the devoted land;
  • Oft, oft hath she their ill-judg’d avarice blam’d,
  • Who, to the stranger, to their slaves and herds,
  • Denied this best of joys, the breezy shade. [575]
  • And are there none, whom generous pity warms,
  • Friends to the woodland reign; whom shades delight?
  • Who, round their green domains, plant hedge-row trees;
  • And with cool cedars, screen the public way?
  • Yes, good Montano;225 friend of man was he: [580]
  • Him persecution, virtue’s deadliest foe,
  • Drove, a lorn exile, from his native shore;
  • From his green hills, where many a fleecy flock,
  • Where many a heifer cropt their wholesome food;
  • And many a swain, obedient to his rule, [585]
  • Him their lov’d master, their protector, own’d.
  • Yet, from that paradise, to Indian wilds,

VER. 572. yellow deaths] The yellow fever, to which Europeans of a sanguine habit of body, and who exceed in drinking or exercise, are liable on their arrival in the West Indies. The French call it Maladie de Siame, or more properly, La Fievre des Matelots. Those who have lived any time in the islands are no more subject to this disease than the Creoles,226 whence, however, some physicians have too hastily concluded, that it was of foreign extraction.


  • To tropic suns, to fell barbaric hinds,
  • A poor outcast, an alien, did he roam;
  • His wife, the partner of his better hours, [590]
  • And one sweet infant, chear’d his dismal way.
  • Unus’d to labour; yet the orient sun,
  • Yet western Phoebus, saw him wield the hoe.
  • At first a garden all his wants supplied,
  • (For Temperance sat chearful at his board,) [595]
  • With yams, cassada,227 and the food of strength,
  • Thrice-wholesome tanies:228 while a neighbouring dell,

VER. 596. cassada,] Cassavi, cassava, is called Jatropha by botanists. Its meal makes a wholesome and well-tasted bread, although its juice be poisonous. There is a species of cassada which may be eat with safety, without expressing the juice; this the French call Camagnoc.229 The colour of its root is white, like a parsnip; that of the common kind is of a brownish red, before it is scraped. By coction the cassada-juice becomes an excellent sauce for fish; and the Indians prepare many wholesome dishes from it. I have given it internally mixed with flour without any bad consequences; it did not however produce any of the salutary effects I expected. A good starch is made from it. The stem is knotty, and, being cut into small junks and planted, young sprouts shoot up from each knob. Horses have been poisoned by eating its leaves. The French name it Manihot, Magnoc, and Manioc, and the Spaniards Mandiocha. It is pretended that all creatures but man eat the raw root of the cassada with impunity; and, when dried, that it is a sovereign antidote against venomous bites. A wholesome drink230 is prepared from this root by the Indians, Spaniards, and Portuguese, according to Pineda. There is one species of this plant which the Indians only use, and is by them called Baccacoua.231

VER. 597. tanies:] This wholesome root, in some of the islands, is called Edda: Its botanical name is Arum maximum AEgyptiacum. There are three species of tanies, the blue, the scratching, and that which is commonly roasted. The blossoms of all three are very fragrant, in a morning or evening. The young leaves, as well as the spiral stalks which support the flower, are eaten by Negroes as a salad.232 The root makes a good broth in dysenteric complaints. They are seldom so large as the yam, but most people think them preferable in point of taste.


  • (Which nature to the soursop233 had resign’d,)
  • With ginger, and with Raleigh’s pungent plant,234
  • Gave wealth; and gold bought better land and slaves. [600]
  • Heaven bless’d his labour: now the cotton-shrub,
  • Grac’d with broad yellow flowers, unhurt by worms,
  • O’er many an acre shed its whitest down:
  • The power of rain, in genial moisture bath’d
  • His cacao-walk,235 which teem’d with marrowy pods; [605]

VER. 598. to the soursop] The true Indian name of this tree is Suirsaak. It grows in the barrenest places to a considerable height. Its fruit will often weigh two pounds. Its skin is green, and somewhat prickly. The pulp is not disagreeable to the palate, being cool, and having its sweetness tempered with some degree of an acid. It is one of the Anonas, as are also the custard, star, and sugar-apples.236 The leaves of the soursop are very shining and green. The fruit is wholesome, but seldom admitted to the tables of the elegant. The seeds are dispersed through the pulp like the guava. It has a peculiar flavour. It grows in the East as well as the West-Indies. The botanical name is Guanabanus. The French call it Petit Corosol, or Coeur de Boeuf, to which the fruit bears a resemblance. The root, being reduced to a powder, and snuffed up the nose, produces the same effect as tobacco. Taken by the mouth, the Indians pretend it is a specific in the epilepsy.

VER. 601. cotton] The fine down, which this shrub produces to invelope its seeds, is sufficiently known. The English, Italian, and French names, evidently are derived from the Arabic Algodon, as the Spaniards at this day call it. It was first brought by the Arabians into the Levant, where it is now cultivated with great success. Authors mention four species of cotton, but they confound the silk-cotton tree, or Ceiba, among them. The flower of the West-India cotton-shrub is yellow, and campanulated.237 It produces twice every year. That of Cayenne is the best of any that comes from America. This plant is very apt to be destroyed by a grub within a short time; bating that, it is a profitable production. Pliny mentions Gossipium, which is the common botanical name of cotton. It is likewise called Zylon. Martinus, in his Philological Lexicon,238 derives cotton from the Hebrew word קטן Katon, (or, as pronounced by the German-Jews, Kotoun.)

VER. 605. cacao-walk] It is also called Cocao and Cocô. It is a native of some of


  • His coffee bath’d, that glow’d with berries, red
  • As Danae’s lip, or, Theodosia, thine,239
  • Yet countless as the pebbles on the shore;
  • Oft, while drought kill’d his impious neighbour’s grove.
  • In time, a numerous gang of sturdy slaves, [610]

the provinces of South America, and a drink made from it was the common food of the Indians before the Spaniards came among them, who were some time in those countries ere they could be prevailed upon to taste it; and it must be confessed, that the Indian chocolate had not a tempting aspect; yet I much doubt whether the Europeans have greatly improved its wholesomeness, by the addition of vanellas and other hot ingredients.240 The tree often grows fifteen or twenty feet high, and is streight and handsome. The pods, which seldom contain less than thirty nuts of the size of a slatted olive,241 grow upon the stem and principal branches. The tree loves a moist, rich and shaded soil: Hence those who plant cacao-walks, sometimes screen them by a hardier tree, which the Spaniards aptly term Madre de Cacao.242 They may be planted fifteen or twenty feet distant, though some advise to plant them much nearer, and perhaps wisely; for it is an easy matter to thin them, when they are past the danger of being destroyed by dry weather, &c. Some recommend planting cassada, or bananas, in the intervals, when the cacao-trees are young, to destroy weeds, from which the walk cannot be kept too free. It is generally three years before they produce good pods;243 but, in six years, they are in highest perfection. The pods are commonly of the size and shape of a large cucumber.244 There are three or four sorts of cacao, which differ from one another in the colour and goodness of their nuts.245 That from the Caraccas is certainly the best. None of the species grow in Peru. Its alimentary, as well as physical properties, are sufficiently known. This word is Indian.246

VER. 606. his coffee] This is certainly of Arabic derivation; and has been used in the East, as a drink, time immemorial. The inhabitants about the mouth of the Red-Sea were taught the use of it by the Persians, say authors, in the fifteenth century; and the coffee-shrub was gradually introduced into Arabia Felix,247 whence it passed into Egypt, Syria, and lastly Constantinople.248 The Turks, though so excessively fond of coffee, have not known it much above eighty years;249 whereas the English have been acquainted therewith for upwards of an hundred, one


  • Well-fed, well-cloath’d, all emulous to gain
  • Their master’s smile, who treated them like men;
  • Blacken’d his Cane-lands: which with vast increase,
  • Beyond the wish of avarice, paid his toil.
  • No cramps, with sudden death, surpriz’d his mules; [615]
  • No glander-pest250 his airy stables thinn’d:
  • And, if disorder seized his Negroe-train,
  • Celsus251 was call’d, and pining Illness flew.
  • His gate stood wide to all; but chief the poor,
  • The unfriended stranger, and the sickly, shar’d [620]
  • His prompt munificence: No surly dog,
  • Nor surlier Ethiop,252 their approach debarr’d.
  • The Muse, that pays this tribute to his fame,
  • Oft hath escap’d the sun’s meridian blaze,
  • Beneath yon tamarind-vista,253 which his hands [625]

Pasqua,254 a Greek, having opened a coffee-house in London about the middle of the last century. The famous traveller, Thevenot,255 introduced coffee into France. This plant is cultivated in the West-Indies, particularly by the French, with great success; but the berry from thence is not equal to that from Mocha.256 It is a species of Arabian jasmine; the flower is particularly redolent, and from it a pleasant cordial water is distilled. It produces fruit twice every year; but the shrub must be three years old before any can be gathered. It should not be allowed to grow above six foot high. It is very apt to be destroyed by a large fly, which the French call Mouche a caffe; as well as by the white grub, which they name Puceron.257 Its medical and alimentary qualities are as generally known as those of tea.258

VER. 625. tamarind-vista,] This large, shady, and beautiful tree grows fast even in the driest soils, and lasts long; and yet its wood is hard, and very fit for mechanical uses. The leaves are smaller than those of senna, and pennated: they taste sour-


  • Planted; and which, impervious to the sun,
  • His latter days beheld.—One noon he sat
  • Beneath its breezy shade, what time the sun
  • His sultry vengeance from the Lion259 pour’d;
  • And calmly thus his eldest hope addrest. [630]

  • “BE pious, be industrious, be humane;
  • “From proud oppression guard the labouring hind.
  • “Whate’er their creed, God is the Sire of man,
  • “His image they; then dare not thou, my son,
  • “To bar the gates of mercy on mankind. [635]
  • “Your foes forgive, for merit must make foes;
  • “And in each virtue far surpass your sire.
  • “Your means are ample, Heaven a heart bestow!
  • “So health and peace shall be your portion here;
  • “And yon bright sky, to which my soul aspires, [640]
  • “Shall bless you with eternity of joy.”

ish, as does the pulp, which is contained in pods four or five inches long. They bear once a year. An excellent vinegar may be made from the fruit; but the Creoles chiefly preserve it with sugar, as the Spaniards with salt. A pleasant syrup may be made from it. The name is, in Arabic, Tamara. The Antients were not acquainted therewith; for the Arabians first introduced tamarinds into physic; it is a native of the East as well as of the West-Indies and South-America, where different provinces call it by different names. Its cathartic260 qualities are well known. It is good in sea-sickness. The botanical name is Tamarindus.


  • HE spoke, and ere the swift-wing’d zumbadore261
  • The mountain-desert startl’d with his hum;
  • Ere fire-flies trimm’d their vital lamps; and ere
  • Dun Evening trod on rapid Twilight’s heel: [645]
  • His knell was rung;——
  • And all the Cane-lands wept their father lost.

  • MUSE, yet awhile indulge my rapid course;
  • And I’ll unharness, soon, the foaming steeds.

  • IF Jove descend, propitious to thy vows, [650]
  • In frequent floods of rain; successive crops
  • Of weeds will spring. Nor venture to repine,
  • Tho’ oft their toil thy little gang renew;
  • Their toil tenfold the melting heavens repay:
  • For soon thy plants will magnitude acquire, [655]

VER. 642. and ere the swift-wing’d zumbadore,] This bird, which is one of the largest and swiftest known, is only seen at night, or rather heard; for it makes a hideous humming noise (whence its name) on the desert tops of the Andes. See Ulloa’s Voyage to South-America. It is also called Condor. Its wings, when expanded, have been known to exceed sixteen feet from tip to tip. See Phil. Trans. Nº 208.262

VER. 644. Ere fire-flies] This surprising insect is frequent in Guadaloupe, &c. and all the warmer parts of America. There are none of them in the English Caribbee, or Virgin-Islands.263

VER. 645. on rapid Twilight’s heel:] There is little or no twilight in the West-Indies. All the year round it is dark before eight at night. The dawn is equally short.


  • To crush all undergrowth; before the sun,
  • The planets thus withdraw their puny fires.
  • And tho’ untutor’d, then, thy Canes will shoot:
  • Care meliorates their growth. The trenches fill
  • With their collateral mold; as in a town [660]
  • Which foes have long beleaguer’d, unawares
  • A strong detachment sallies from each gate,
  • And levels all the labours of the plain.

  • AND now thy Cane’s first blades their verdure lose,
  • And hang their idle heads. Be these stript off; [665]
  • So shall fresh sportive airs their joints embrace,
  • And by their alliance give the sap to rise.
  • But, O beware, let no unskilful hand
  • The vivid foliage tear: Their channel’d spouts,
  • Well-pleas’d, the watery nutriment convey, [670]
  • With filial duty, to the thirsty stem;
  • And, spreading wide their reverential arms,
  • Defend their parent from solstitial skies.

The END of BOOK I.





S U G A R - C A N E.






THE following Book having been originally addressed to WILLIAM SHENSTONE, Esq;264 and by him approved of; the Author should deem it a kind of poetical sacrilege, now, to address it to any other. To his memory, therefore, be it sacred; as a small but sincere testimony of the high opinion the Author entertained of that Gentleman’s genius and manners; and as the only return now, alas! in his power to make, for the friendship wherewith Mr. SHENSTONE had condescended to honour him.



Subject proposed. Address to William Shenstone, Esq. Of monkeys.
Of rats and other vermin. Of weeds. Of the yellow fly. Of
the greasy fly. Of the blast. A hurricane described. Of calms
and earthquakes. A tale.



S U G A R - C A N E.


  • ENOUGH of culture.—A less pleasing theme,
  • What ills await the ripening Cane, demands
  • My serious numbers: these, the thoughtful Muse
  • Hath oft beheld, deep-pierc’d with generous woe.
  • For she, poor exile! boasts no waving crops;265 [5]
  • For her no circling mules press dulcet streams;266
  • No Negro-band huge foaming coppers skim;
  • Nor fermentation (wine’s dread fire) for her,
  • With Vulcan’s267 aid, from Cane a spirit draws,
  • Potent to quell the madness of despair. [10]
  • Yet, oft, the range she walks, at shut of eve;


  • Oft sees red lightning at the midnight-hour,
  • When nod the watches, stream along the sky;
  • Not innocent, as what the learned call
  • The Boreal morn,268 which, through the azure air, [15]
  • Flashes its tremulous rays, in painted streaks,
  • While o’er night’s veil her lucid tresses flow:
  • Nor quits the Muse her walk, immers’d in thought,
  • How she the planter, haply, may advise;
  • Till tardy morn unbar the gates of light, [20]
  • And, opening on the main with sultry beam,
  • To burnish’d silver turns the blue-green wave.

  • SAY, will my SHENSTONE lend a patient ear,
  • And weep at woes unknown to Britain’s Isle?
  • Yes, thou wilt weep; for pity chose thy breast, [25]
  • With taste and science, for their soft abode:
  • Yes, thou wilt weep: thine own distress thou bear’st
  • Undaunted; but another’s melts thy soul.

  • "O WERE my pipe as soft, my dittied song"269
  • As smooth as thine, my too too distant friend, [30]
  • SHENSTONE; my soft pipe, and my dittied song
  • Should hush the hurricanes tremendous roar,
  • And from each evil guard the ripening Cane!


  • DESTRUCTIVE, on the upland sugar-groves
  • The monkey-nation270 preys: from rocky heights, [35]
  • In silent parties, they descend by night,
  • And posting watchful sentinels, to warn
  • When hostile steps approach; with gambols,271 they
  • Pour o’er the Cane-grove. Luckless he to whom
  • That land pertains! in evil hour, perhaps, [40]
  • And thoughtless of to-morrow, on a die
  • He hazards millions; or, perhaps, reclines
  • On Luxury’s soft lap, the pest of wealth;
  • And, inconsiderate, deems his Indian crops
  • Will amply her insatiate wants supply.272 [45]

  • FROM these insidious droles273 (peculiar pest
  • Of Liamuiga’s hills) would’st thou defend
  • Thy waving wealth; in traps put not thy trust,
  • However baited: Treble every watch,
  • And well with arms provide them; faithful dogs, [50]
  • Of nose sagacious, on their footsteps wait.

VER. 46. peculiar pest] The monkeys which are now so numerous in the mountainous parts of St. Christopher, were brought thither by the French when they possessed half that island. This circumstance we learn from Pere Labat, who farther tells us, that they are a most delicate food. The English-Negroes are very fond of them, but the White-inhabitants do not eat them. They do a great deal of mischief in St. Kitts, destroying many thousand pounds Sterling’s worth of Canes every year.


  • With these attack the predatory bands;
  • Quickly the unequal conflict they decline,
  • And, chattering, fling their ill-got spoils away.
  • So when, of late, innumerous Gallic hosts274 [55]
  • Fierce, wanton, cruel, did by stealth invade
  • The peaceable American’s domains,
  • While desolation mark’d their faithless rout;
  • No sooner Albion’s275 martial sons advanc’d,
  • Than the gay dastards to their forests fled, [60]
  • And left their spoils and tomahawks behind.

  • NOR with less waste the whisker’d vermine-race,276
  • A countless clan, despoil the low-land Cane.

  • THESE to destroy, while commerce hoists the sail,
  • Loose rocks abound, or tangling bushes bloom, [65]
  • What Planter knows?—Yet prudence may reduce.
  • Encourage then the breed of savage cats,

VER. 64. These to destroy] Rats, &c. are not natives of America, but came by shipping from Europe. They breed in the ground, under loose rocks and bushes. Durante, a Roman, who was physician to Pope Sixtus Quintus,277 and who wrote a Latin poem on the preservation of health, enumerates domestic rats among animals that may be eaten with safety. But if these are wholesome, cane-rats must be much more delicate, as well as more nourishing. Accordingly we find most field Negroes fond of them, and I have heard that straps of cane-rats are publicly sold in the markets of Jamaica.278


  • Nor kill the winding snake, thy foes they eat.
  • Thus, on the mangrove-banks of Guayaquil,279
  • Child of the rocky desert, sea-like stream, [70]
  • With studious care, the American preserves
  • The gallinazo,280 else that sea-like stream
  • (Whence traffic pours her bounties on mankind)
  • Dread alligators281 would alone possess.
  • Thy foes, the teeth-fil’d Ibbos282 also love; [75]
  • Nor thou their wayward appetite restrain.

VER. 69. mangrove-banks] This tree, which botanists call Rizophora, grows in marshy soils, and on the sides of rivers; and, as the branches take root, they frequently render narrow streams impassable to boats. Oysters often adhere to their roots, &c. The French name of this strange water-shrub is Paltuvier. The species meant here is the red mangrove.

VER. 74. Dread alligators] This dreadful animal is amphibious, and seldom lays fewer than 100 eggs. These she carefully covers with sand. But, notwithstanding this precaution, the gallinazo (a large species of carrion-crow) conceals itself among the thick boughs of the neighbouring trees, and thus often discovers the hoard of the alligator, which she no sooner leaves, than the gallinazo souses down upon it, and greedily scraping off the sand, regales on its contents. Nor is the male alligator less an enemy to the increase of his own horrid brood, than these useful birds; for, when Instinct prompts the female to let her young fry out by breaking the eggs, he never fails to accompany her, and to devour as many of them as he can: So that the mother scarce ever escapes into the river with more than five out of all her hundred. Thus providence doubly prevents the otherwise immense propagation of that voracious animal, on the banks of the river Guayaquil; for the gallinazo is not always found, where alligators are. Ulloa.

VER. 75. teeth-fil’d Ibbos] Or Ebbos, as they are more commonly called, are a numerous nation. Many of them have their teeth filed, and blackened in an extraordinary manner. They make good slaves when bought young; but are, in ge-


  • SOME place decoys, nor will they not avail,
  • Replete with roasted crabs, in every grove
  • These fell marauders gnaw; and pay their slaves
  • Some small reward for every captive foe. [80]
  • So practice Gallia’s sons; but Britons trust
  • In other wiles; and surer their success.

  • WITH Misnian arsenic,283 deleterious bane,
  • Pound up the ripe cassada’s284 well-rasp’d root,
  • And form in pellets; these profusely spread [85]
  • Round the Cane-groves, where sculk the vermin-breed:
  • They, greedy, and unweeting285 of the bait,
  • Crowd to the inviting cates,286 and swift devour
  • Their palatable Death; for soon they seek
  • The neighbouring spring; and drink, and swell, and die. [90]
  • But dare not thou, if life deserve thy care,
  • The infected rivulet taste; nor let thy herds

neral, foul feeders, many of them greedily devouring the raw guts of fowls: They also feed on dead mules and horses; whose carcasses, therefore, should be buried deep, that the Negroes may not come at them. But the surest way is to burn them; otherwise they will be apt, privily, to kill those useful animals, in order to feast on them.

VER. 76. Nor thou their wayward] Pere Labat says that Cane-rats give those Negroes who eat them pulmonic disorders, but the good Jesuit was no physician. I have been told by those who have eat them, that they are very delicate food.


  • Graze its polluted brinks, till rolling time
  • Have fin’d the water, and destroyed the bane.
  • ‘Tis safer then to mingle nightshade’s juice287 [95]
  • With flour, and throw it liberal ‘mong thy Canes:
  • They touch not this; its deadly scent they fly,
  • And sudden colonize some distant vale.

  • SHALL the muse deign to sing of humble weeds,
  • That check the progress of the imperial cane? [100]

  • IN every soil, unnumber’d weeds will spring;
  • Nor fewest in the best: (thus oft we find
  • Enormous vices taint the noblest souls!)
  • These let thy little gang,288 with skillful hand,
  • Oft as they spread abroad, and oft they spread; [105]
  • Careful pluck up, to swell thy growing heap
  • Of rich manure.289 And yet some weeds arise,
  • Of aspect mean, with wondrous virtues fraught:
  • (And doth not oft uncommon merit dwell
  • In men of vulgar looks, and trivial air?) [110]
  • Such, planter, be not thou asham’d to save

VER. 95. ‘Tis safer then to mingle nightshade’s juice] See the article Solanum in Newman’s Chemistry published by Dr. Lewis.290 There is a species of East-India animal, called a Mungoes,291 which bears a natural antipathy to rats. Its introduction into the Sugar-Islands would, probably, effectuate the extirpation of this destructive vermin.


  • From foul pollution, and unseemly rot;
  • Much will they benefit thy house and thee.
  • But chief the yellow thistle292 thou select,
  • Whose seed the stomach frees from nauseous loads; [115]
  • And, if the music of the mountain-dove293
  • Delight thy pensive ear, sweet friend to thought!
  • This prompts their cooing, and enflames their love.
  • Nor let rude hands the knotted grass294 profane,
  • Whose juice worms fly: Ah, dire endemial ill!295 [120]
  • How many fathers, fathers now no more;
  • How many orphans, now lament thy rage?
  • The cow-itch296 also save; but let thick gloves
  • Thine hands defend, or thou wilt sadly rue
  • Thy rash imprudence, when ten thousand darts [125]

VER. 114. the yellow thistle] The seeds of this plant are an excellent emetic; and almost as useful in dysenteric297 complaints as ipecacuan.298 It grows every where.

VER. 119. Nor let rude hands the knotted grass profane,] This is truly a powerful vermifuge;299 but, uncautiously administered, has often proved mortal. The juice of it clarified, is sometimes given; but a decoction of it is greatly preferable. Its botanical name is Spigelia.

VER. 123. The cow-itch also save;] This extraordinary vine should not be permitted to grow in a Cane-piece; for Negroes have been known to fire the Canes, to save themselves from the torture which attends working in grounds where it has abounded. Mixed with melasses,300 it is a safe and excellent vermifuge. Its seeds, which resemble blackish small beans, are purgative. Its flower is purple; and its pods, on which the stinging brown Setae301 are found, are as large as a full-grown English field-pea.302


  • Sharp as the bee-sting, fasten in thy flesh,
  • And give thee up to torture. But, unhurt,
  • Planter, thou may’st the humble chickweed303 cull;
  • And that, which coyly flies the astonish’d grasp.304
  • Not the confection nam’d from Pontus’ King;305 [130]
  • Not the bless’d apple Median climes306 produce,

VER. 128. Planter, thou may’st the humble chickweed] There are two kinds of chickweed, which grow spontaneously in the Caribbees, and both possess very considerable virtues, particularly that which botanists call Cajacia, and which the Spaniards emphatically name Erudos Cobres, or Snakeweed,307 on account of its remarkable qualities against poisonous bites. It is really of use against fish-poison; as is also the sensitive plant, which the Spaniards prettily call the Vergonzoza, the Bashful, and La Donzella, or the Maiden. There are many kinds of this extraordinary plant, which grow every where in the Islands and South-America. The botanical name of the former is Alsine, and that of the latter Mimosa.

VER. 130. Not the confection] This medicine is called Mithridatium,308 in honour of Mithridates king of Pontus; who, by using it constantly, had secured himself from the effects of poison, in such a manner, that, when he actually attempted to put an end to his life, by that means, he failed in his purpose. So, at least, Pliny informs us. But we happily are not obliged to believe, implicitly, whatever that elaborate compiler has told us. When poisons immediately operate on the nervous system, and their effects are to be expelled by the skin, this electuary309 is no contemptible antidote. But how many poisons do we know at present, which produce their effects in a different manner? and, from the acounts of authors, we have reason to be persuaded, that the antients were not much behind us in their variety of poisons. If, therefore, the King of Pontus had really intended to have destroyed himself, he could have been at no loss for the means, notwithstanding the daily use of this antidote.

VER. 131. Not the bless’d apple] Authors are not agreed what the apple is, to which Virgil attributes such remarkable virtues, nor is it indeed possible they ever


  • Tho’ lofty Maro (whose immortal muse
  • Distant I follow, and, submiss, adore)
  • Hath sung its properties, to counteract
  • Dire spells, slow-mutter’d o’er the baneful bowl, [135]
  • Where cruel stepdames poisonous drugs have brewed;
  • Can vie with these low tenants of the vale,
  • In driving poisons from the infected frame:
  • For here, alas! (ye sons of luxury mark!)
  • The sea, tho’ on its bosom Halcyons310 sleep, [140]
  • Abounds with poison’d fish;311 whose crimson fins,
  • Whose eyes, whose scales, bedropt with azure, gold,
  • Purple, and green, in all gay Summer’s pride,
  • Amuse the sight; whose taste the palate charms;
  • Yet death, in ambush, on the banquet waits, [145]
  • Unless these antidotes be timely given.
  • But, say what strains, what numbers can recite,
  • Thy praises, vervain312; or wild liquorice, thine?
  • For not the costly root, the gift of God,

should. However, we have this comfort on our side, that our not knowing it is of no detriment to us; for as spells cannot affect us, we are at no loss for antidotes to guard against them.

VER. 149. For not the costly root,] Some medical writers have bestowed the high appellation of Donum Dei on rhubarb.313


  • Gather’d by those, who drink the Volga’s314 wave, [150]
  • (Prince of Europa’s streams, itself a sea)
  • Equals your potency! Did planters know
  • But half your virtues; not the Cane itself,
  • Would they with greater, fonder pains preserve!

  • STILL other maladies infest the Cane, [155]
  • And worse to be subdu’d. The insect-tribe315
  • That, fluttering, spread their pinions to the sun,
  • Recal the muse: nor shall their many eyes,
  • Tho’ edg’d with gold, their many-colour’d down,
  • From Death preserve them. In what distant clime, [160]
  • In what recesses are the plunderers hatch’d?
  • Say, are they wasted in the living gale,
  • From distant islands? Thus, the locust-breed,
  • In winged caravans, that blot the sky,
  • Descend from far, and, ere bright morning dawn,
  • Astonish’d Afric sees her crop devour’d. [165]
  • Or, doth the Cane a proper nest afford,
  • And food adapted to the yellow fly?316——
  • The skill’d in Nature’s mystic lore observe,
  • Each tree, each plant, that drinks the golden day, [170]
  • Some reptile life sustains: Thus cochinille


  • Feeds on the Indian fig; and, should it harm
  • The foster plant, its worth that harm repays:
  • But YE, base insects! no bright scarlet yield,
  • To deck the British Wolf;317 who now, perhaps, [175]
  • (So Heaven and George ordain) in triumph mounts
  • Some strong-built fortress, won from haughty Gaul!
  • And tho’ no plant such luscious nectar yields,
  • As yields the Cane-plant; yet, vile paricides!318
  • Ungrateful ye! the Parent-cane destroy. [180]

  • MUSE! say, what remedy hath skill devis’d
  • To quell this noxious foe? Thy Blacks send forth,
  • A strong detachment! ere the encreasing pest
  • Have made too firm a lodgment; and, with care,
  • Wipe every tainted blade, and liberal lave [185]
  • With sacred Neptune’s purifying stream.
  • But this Augaean toil319 long time demands,
  • Which thou to more advantage may’st employ:
  • If vows for rain thou ever did’st prefer,

VER. 171. Thus cochinille] This is a Spanish word. For the manner of propagating this useful insect, see Sir Hans Sloane’s Natural History of Jamaica.320 It was long believed in Europe to be a seed, or vegetable production. The botanical name of the plant on which the cochinille feeds, is Opuntia maxima, folio oblongo, majore, spinulis obtusis, mollibus et innocentibus obsito, flore, striis rubris variegato. Sloane.


  • Planter, prefer them now: the rattling shower, [190]
  • Pour’d down in constant streams, for days and nights,
  • Not only swells, with nectar sweet, thy Canes;
  • But, in the deluge, drowns thy plundering foe.

  • WHEN may the planter idly fold his arms,
  • And say, “My soul take rest?” Superior ills, [195]
  • Ills which no care nor wisdom can avert,
  • In black succession rise. Ye men of Kent,321
  • When nipping Eurus,322 with the brutal force
  • Of Boreas,323 join’d in ruffian league, assail
  • Your ripen’d hop-grounds;324 tell me what you feel, [200]
  • And pity the poor planter; when the blast,325
  • Fell plague of Heaven! perdition of the isles!
  • Attacks his waving gold. Tho’ well-manur’d;
  • A richness tho’ thy fields from nature boast;
  • Though seasons pour; this pestilence invades: [205]
  • Too oft it seizes the glad infant-throng,
  • Nor pities their green nonage:326 Their broad blades
  • Of which the graceful wood-nymphs erst compos’d
  • The greenest garlands to adorn their brows,

VER. 205. Tho’ seasons] Without a rainy season, the Sugar-cane could not be cultivated to any advantage: For what Pliny the Elder writes of another plant may be applied to this, Gaudet irriguis, et toto anno bibere amat.327

VER. 205. this pestilence] It must, however, be confessed, that the blast is less frequent in lands naturally rich, or such as are made so by well-rotted manure.


  • First pallid, sickly, dry, and withered show; [210]
  • Unseemly stains succeed; which, nearer viewed
  • By microscopic arts, small eggs appear,
  • Dire fraught with reptile-life; alas, too soon
  • They burst their filmy jail, and crawl abroad,
  • Bugs of uncommon shape; thrice hideous show! [215]
  • Innumerous as the painted shells, that load
  • The wave-worn margin of the Virgin-isles!
  • Innumerous as the leaves the plumb-tree328 sheds,
  • When, proud of her faecundity, she shows,
  • Naked, her gold fruit to the God of noon. [220]
  • Remorseless to its youth; what pity, say,
  • Can the Cane’s age expect? In vain, its pith
  • With juice nectarious flows; to pungent sour,
  • Foe to the bowels, soon its nectar turns:
  • Vain every joint a gemmy embryo bears, [225]
  • Alternate rang’d; from these no filial young
  • Shall grateful spring, to bless the planter’s eye.—
  • With bugs confederate, in destructive league,
  • The ants’ republic329 joins; a villain crew,

VER. 218. the plumb-tree sheds,] This is the Jamaica plumb-tree. When covered with fruit, it has no leaves upon it. The fruit is wholesome. In like manner, the panspan330 is destitute of foliage when covered with flowers. The latter is a species of jessamine, and grows as large as an apple-tree.


  • As the waves, countless, that plough up the deep, [230]
  • (Where Eurus reigns vicegerent331 of the sky,
  • Whom Rhea332 bore to the bright God of day)
  • When furious Auster333 dire commotions stirs:
  • These wind, by subtle sap, their secret way,
  • Pernicious pioneers! while those invest, [235]
  • More firmly daring, in the face of Heaven,
  • And win, by regular approach, the Cane.

  • ‘GAINST such ferocious, such unnumber’d bands,
  • What arts, what arms shall sage experience use?

  • SOME bid the planter load the favouring gale, [240]
  • With pitch, and sulphur’s suffocating steam:—
  • Useless the vapour o’er the Cane-grove flies,
  • In curling volumes lost; such feeble arms,
  • To man tho’ fatal, not the blast subdue.
  • Others again, and better their success, [245]
  • Command their slaves each tainted blade to pick
  • With care, and burn them in vindictive flames.

VER. 231. Eurus reigns] The East is the centre of the trade-wind in the West-Indies, which veers a few points to the North or South. What Homer334 says of the West-wind, in his islands of the blessed, may more aptly be applied to the trade-winds.


  • Labour immense! and yet, if small the pest;
  • If numerous, if industrious be thy gang;
  • At length, thou may’st the victory obtain. [250]
  • But, if the living taint be far diffus’d,
  • Bootless335 this toil; nor will it then avail
  • (Tho’ ashes lend their suffocating aid)
  • To bare the broad roots, and the mining swarms
  • Expose, remorseless, to the burning noon. [255]
  • Ah! must then ruin desolate the plain?
  • Must the lost planter other climes explore?
  • Howe’er reluctant, let the hoe uproot
  • The infected Cane-piece; and, with eager flames,
  • The hostile myriads thou to embers turn: [260]
  • Far better, thus, a mighty loss sustain,
  • Which happier years and prudence may retrieve;
  • Than risque thine all. As when an adverse storm,
  • Impetuous, thunders on some luckless ship,
  • From green St. Christopher, or Cathäy bound: [265]
  • Each nautic art the reeling seamen try:
  • The storm redoubles: death rides every wave:
  • Down by the board the cracking masts they hew;
  • And heave their precious cargo in the main.

VER. 265. Cathäy] An old name for China.


  • SAY, can the Muse, the pencil in her hand, [270]
  • The all-wasting hurricane observant ride?336
  • Can she, undazzled, view the lightning’s glare,
  • That fires the welkin?337 Can she, unappall’d,
  • When all the flood-gates of the sky are ope,
  • The shoreless deluge stem? The Muse hath seen [275]
  • The pillar’d flame, whose top hath reach’d the stars;
  • Seen rocky, molten fragments, flung in air
  • From AEtna’s338 vext abyss; seen burning streams
  • Pour down its channel’d sides; tremendous scenes!——
  • Yet not vext AEtna’s pillar’d flames, that strike [280]
  • The stars; nor molten mountains hurl’d on high;
  • Nor ponderous rapid deluges, that burn
  • Its deeply-channel’d sides: cause such dismay,
  • Such desolation, Hurricane! as thou;
  • When the Almighty gives thy rage to blow, [285]
  • And all the battles of thy winds engage.

  • SOON as the Virgin’s charms ingross the Sun;
  • And till his weaker flame the Scorpion feels;
  • But, chief, while Libra weighs the unsteddy year:339
  • Planter, with mighty props thy dome340 support; [290]
  • Each flaw repair; and well, with massy bars,


  • Thy doors and windows guard; securely lodge
  • Thy stocks and mill-points.—Then, or calms obtain;
  • Breathless the royal palm-tree’s airiest van;341
  • While, o’er the panting isle, the daemon Heat [295]
  • High hurls his flaming brand; vast, distant waves
  • The main drives furious in, and heaps the shore
  • With strange productions: Or, the blue serene
  • Assumes a louring342 aspect, as the clouds
  • Fly, wild-careering, thro’ the vault of heaven; [300]
  • Then transient birds, of various kinds, frequent
  • Each stagnant pool; some hover o’er thy roof;
  • Then Eurus reigns no more; but each bold wind,
  • By turns, usurps the empire of the air
  • With quick inconstancy; [305]
  • Thy herds, as sapient343 of the coming storm,
  • (For beasts partake some portion of the sky,)
  • In troops associate; and, in cold sweats bath’d,
  • Wild-bellowing, eye the pole.344 Ye seamen, now,
  • Ply to the southward, if the changeful moon, [310]
  • Or, in her interlunar palace hid,

VER. 293. stocks and mill-points:] The sails are fastened to the mill-points, as those are to the stocks. They should always be taken down before the hurricane-season.


  • Shuns night; or, full-orb’d, in Night’s forehead glows:
  • For, see! the mists, that late involv’d the hill,
  • Disperse; the midday-sun looks red; strange burs
  • Surround the stars, which vaster fill the eye. [315]
  • A horrid stench the pools, the main emits;
  • Fearful the genius of the forest sighs;
  • The mountains moan; deep groans the cavern’d cliff.
  • A night of vapour, closing fast around,
  • Snatches the golden noon.—Each wind appeas’d, [320]
  • The North flies forth, and hurls the frighted air:
  • Not all the brazen engineries345 of man,
  • At once exploded, the wild burst surpass.
  • Yet thunder, yok’d with lightning and with rain,
  • Water with fire, increase the infernal din: [325]
  • Canes, shrubs, trees, huts, are whirl’d aloft in air.——
  • The wind is spent; and “all the isle below
  • “Is hush as death.”346
  • Soon issues forth the West, with sudden burst;
  • And blasts more rapid, more resistless drives: [330]

VER. 314. strange burs] These are astral halos. Columbus soon made himself master of the signs that precede a hurricane in the West-Indies, by which means he saved his own squadron; while another large fleet, whose commander despised his prognostics, put to sea, and was wrecked.


  • Rushes the headlong sky; the city rocks;
  • The good man throws him on the trembling ground;
  • And dies the murderer in his inmost soul.—
  • Sullen the West withdraws his eager storms.——
  • Will not the tempest now his furies chain? [335]
  • As, no! as when in Indian forests, wild,
  • Barbaric armies suddenly retire
  • After some furious onset, and, behind
  • Vast rocks and trees, their horrid forms conceal,
  • Brooding on slaughter, not repuls’d; for soon [340]
  • Their growing yell the affrighted welkin rends,
  • And bloodier carnage mows th’ ensanguin’d plain:
  • So the South, sallying from his iron caves
  • With mightier force, renews the aerial war;
  • Sleep, frighted, flies; and, see! yon lofty palm, [345]
  • Fair nature’s triumph, pride of Indian groves,
  • Cleft by the sulphurous bolt! See yonder dome,
  • Where grandeur with propriety combin’d,
  • And Theodorus347 with devotion dwelt;
  • Involv’d in smouldering flames.—From every rock, [350]
  • Dashes the turbid torrent; thro’ each street
  • A river foams, which sweeps, with untam’d might,
  • Men, oxen, Cane-lands to the billowy main.—


  • Pauses the wind.—Anon the savage East
  • Bids his wing’d tempests more relentless rave; [355]
  • Now brighter, vaster corruscations348 flash;
  • Deepens the deluge; nearer thunders roll;
  • Earth trembles; ocean reels; and, in her fangs,
  • Grim Desolation tears the shrieking isle,
  • Ere rosy Morn possess the ethereal plain, [360]
  • To pour on darkness the full flood of day.—

  • NOR does the hurricane’s all-wasting wrath
  • Alone bring ruin on its founding wing:
  • Even calms are dreadful, and the fiery South
  • Oft reigns a tyrant in these fervid isles: [365]
  • For, from its burning furnace, when it breathes,
  • Europe and Asia’s vegetable sons,
  • Touch’d by its tainting vapour, shrivel’d, die.349
  • The hardiest children of the rocks repine:
  • And all the upland Tropic-plants hang down [370]
  • Their drooping heads; shew arid, coil’d, adust.——
  • The main itself seems parted into streams,
  • Clear as a mirror; and, with deadly scents,
  • Annoys the rower; who, heart-fainting, eyes
  • The sails hang idly, noiseless, from the mast.350 [375]


  • Thrice hapless he, whom thus the hand of fate
  • Compels to risque the insufferable beam!
  • A fiend, the worst the angry skies ordain
  • To punish sinful man, shall fatal seize
  • His wretched life, and to the tomb consign. [380]

  • WHEN such the ravage of the burning calm,
  • On the stout, sunny children of the hill;
  • What must thy Cane-lands feel? Thy late green sprouts
  • Nor bunch, nor joint; but, sapless, arid, pine:
  • Those, who have manhood reach’d, of yellow hue, [385]
  • (Symptom of health and strength) soon ruddy show;
  • While the rich juice that circled in their veins,
  • Acescent,351 watery, poor, unwholesome tastes.

  • NOR only, planter, are thy Cane-groves burnt;
  • Thy life is threatened. Muse, the manner sing. [390]

  • THEN earthquakes, nature’s agonizing pangs,
  • Oft shake the astonied352 isles: The solfaterre

VER. 392. solfaterre] Volcanos are called sulphurs, or solfaterres, in the West-Indies. There are few mountainous islands in that part of the globe without them, and those probably will destroy them in time. I saw much sulphur and alum353 in the solfaterre at Mountserrat. The stream that runs through it, is almost as hot as boiling water, and its steams soon blacken silver, &c.


  • Or sends forth thick, blue, suffocating steams;
  • Or shoots to temporary flame. A din,
  • Wild, thro’ the mountain’s quivering rocky caves, [395]
  • Like the dread crash of tumbling planets, roars.
  • When tremble thus the pillars of the globe,
  • Like the tall coco354 by the fierce North blown;
  • Can the poor, brittle, tenements of man
  • Withstand the dread convulsion? Their dear homes, [400]
  • (Which shaking, tottering, crashing, bursting, fall,)
  • The boldest fly; and, on the open plain
  • Appal’d, in agony the moment wait,
  • When, with disrupture vast, the waving earth
  • Shall whelm them in her sea-disgorging womb.355 [405]

  • NOR less affrighted are the bestial kind.
  • The bold steed quivers in each panting vein,
  • And staggers, bath’d in deluges of sweat:
  • Thy lowing herds forsake their grassy food,
  • And send forth frighted, woful, hollow sounds: [410]
  • The dog, thy trusty centinel of night,
  • Deserts his post assign’d; and, piteous, howls.——
  • Wide ocean feels:——
  • The mountain-waves, passing their custom’d bounds,


  • Make direful, loud incursions on the land, [415]
  • All-overwhelming: Sudden they retreat,
  • With their whole troubled waters; but, anon,
  • Sudden return, with louder, mightier force;
  • (The black rocks whiten, the vext shores resound;)
  • And yet, more rapid, distant they retire. [420]
  • Vast coruscations lighten all the sky,
  • With volum’d flames; while thunder’s awful voice,
  • From forth his shrine, by night and horror girt,
  • Astounds the guilty, and appals the good:
  • For oft the best, smote by the bolt of heaven, [425]
  • Wrapt in ethereal flame, forget to live:
  • Else, fair Theana.—Muse, her fate deplore.356

  • SOON as young reason dawn’d in Junio’s breast,
  • His father sent him from these genial isles,357
  • To where old Thames358 with conscious pride surveys [430]
  • Green Eton,359 soft abode of every Muse.
  • Each classic beauty soon he made his own;
  • And soon fam’d Isis360 saw him woo the Nine,
  • On her inspiring banks: Love tun’d his song;
  • For fair Theana was his only theme, [435]
  • Acasto’s daughter, whom, in early youth,


  • He oft distinguish’d; and for whom he oft
  • Had climb’d the bending coco’s airy height,
  • To rob it of its nectar; which the maid,

VER. 438. the bending coco’s] The coco-nut tree is of the palm genus; there are several species of them, which grow naturally in the Torrid Zone.361 The coco-nut tree is, by no means, so useful as travellers have represented it. The wood is of little or no service, being spungy, and the brown covering of the nuts is of too rough a texture to serve as apparel. The shell of the nut receives a good polish; and, having a handle put to it, is commonly used to drink water out of. The milk, or water of the nut, is cooling and pleasant; but, if drunk too freely, will frequently occasion a pain in the stomach. A salutary oil may be extracted from the kernel; which, if old, and eaten too plentifully, is apt to produce a shortness of breathing. A species of arrack362 is made from this tree, in the East-Indies. The largest coco-nut trees grow on the banks of the river Oronoko.363 They thrive best near the sea, and look beautiful at a distance. They afford no great shade. Ripe nuts have been produced from them in three years after planting. The nuts should be macerated in water, before they are put in the ground. Coco is an Indian name; the Spaniards call it also palma de las Indias; as the smallest kind, whose nuts are less than walnuts, is termed by them Coquillo. This grows in Chili,364 and the nuts are esteemed more delicate than those of a larger size. In the Maldivy Islands,365 it is pretended, they not only build houses of the coco-nut tree, but also vessels, with all their rigging; nay, and load them too with wine, oil, vinegar, black sugar,366 fruit, and strong water,367 from the same tree. If this be true, the Maldivian coco-nut trees must differ widely from those that grow in the West-Indies. The coco368 must not be confounded with the coco-nut tree. That shrub grows in the hottest and moistest vales of the Andes. Its leaf, which is gathered two or three times a year, is much coveted by the natives of South-America, who will travel great journeys upon a single handful of the leaves, which they do not swallow, but only chew. It is of an unpleasant taste, but, by use, soon grows agreeable. Some authors have also confounded the coco-nut palm, with the coco, or chocolate-tree. The French call the coco-nut tree, Cocotier. Its stem, which is very lofty, is always bent; for which reason it looks better in an orchard than in a regular garden. As one limb fades, another shoots up in the center, like a pike. The botanical name is Palma indica, coccifera, angulosa.


  • When he presented, more nectarious deem’d.— [440]
  • The sweetest sappadillas369 oft he brought;
  • From him more sweet ripe sappadillas seem’d.—
  • Nor had long absence yet effac’d her form;
  • Her charms still triumph’d o’er Britannia’s fair.
  • One morn he met her in Sheen’s royal walks;370 [445]
  • Nor knew, till then, sweet Sheen contain’d his all.
  • His taste mature approv’d his infant choice.
  • In colour, form, expression, and in grace,
  • She shone all perfect; while each pleasing art,
  • And each soft virtue that the sex adorns, [450]
  • Adorn’d the woman. My imperfect strain,
  • Which Percy’s371 happier pencil would demand,
  • Can ill describe the transports Junio felt
  • At this discovery: He declar’d his love;
  • She own’d his merit, nor refus’d his hand. [455]

  • AND shall not Hymen372 light his brightest torch,
  • For this delighted pair? Ah, Junio knew,

VER. 441. sappadillas] This is a pleasant-tasted fruit, somewhat resembling a bergamot-pear, in shape and colour. The tree which produces it, is large and shady. Its leaves are of a shining green; but the flowers, which are monopetalous, are of a palish white. The fruit is coronated when ripe, and contains, in its pulp, several longish black seeds. It is wholesome. Antigua produces the best sappadillas I ever tasted. The trivial name is Spanish. Botanists call it Cainito.


  • His sire detested his Theana’s House!—
  • Thus duty, reverence, gratitude, conspir’d
  • To check their happy union. He resolv’d [460]
  • (And many a sigh that resolution cost)
  • To pass the time, till death his sire remov’d,
  • In visiting old Europe’s letter’d climes:373
  • While she (and many a tear that parting drew)
  • Embark’d, reluctant, for her native isle. [465]

  • THO’ learned, curious, and tho’ nobly bent,
  • With each rare talent to adorn his mind,
  • His native land to serve; no joys he found.—
  • Yet sprightly Gaul;374 yet Belgium, Saturn’s reign;375
  • Yet Greece, of old the seat of every Muse, [470]
  • Of freedom, courage; yet Ausonia’s clime,376
  • His steps explor’d; where painting, music’s strains,
  • Where arts, where laws, (philosophy’s best child),
  • With rival beauties, his attention claim’d.
  • To his just-judging, his instructed eye, [475]
  • The all-perfect Medicean Venus377 seem’d
  • A perfect semblance of his Indian fair:
  • But, when she spoke of love, her voice surpass’d
  • The harmonious warblings of Italian song.


  • TWICE one long year elaps’d, when letters came, [480]
  • Which briefly told him of his father’s death.
  • Afflicted, filial, yet to Heaven resign’d,
  • Soon he reach’d Albion, and as soon embark’d,
  • Eager to clasp the object of his love.

  • BLOW, prosperous breezes; swiftly sail, thou Po:378 [485]
  • Swift sail’d the Po, and happy breezes blew.

  • IN Biscay’s379 stormy seas an armed ship,
  • Or force superiour, from loud Charente’s380 wave
  • Clapt them on board. The frighted flying crew
  • Their colours strike; when dauntless Junio, fir’d [490]
  • With noble indignation, kill’d the chief,
  • Who on the bloody deck dealt slaughter round.
  • The Gauls retreat; the Britons loud huzza;
  • And touch’d with shame, with emulation stung,
  • So plied their cannon, plied their missil fires, [495]
  • That soon in air the hapless Thunderer blew.

  • BLOW prosperous breezes, swiftly sail thou Po,
  • May no more dangerous fights retard thy way!

  • SOON Porto Santo’s rocky heights they spy,

VER. 499. Porto Santo] This is one of the Madeira islands, and of course subject to the King of Portugal. It lies in 32.33 degrees of N. latitude. It is neither so fruitful nor so large as Madeira Proper, and is chiefly peopled by convicts, &c.


  • Like clouds dim rising in the distant sky.381 [500]
  • Glad Eurus whistles; laugh the sportive crew;
  • Each sail is set to catch the favouring gale,
  • While on the yard-arm382 the harpooner sits,
  • Strikes the boneta,383 or the shark insnares.
  • The little nautilus384 with purple pride [505]
  • Expands his sails, and dances o’er the waves:
  • Small winged fishes385 on the shrouds alight;
  • And beauteous dolphins386 gently played around.

VER. 504. The boneta] This fish, which is equal in size to the largest salmon, is only to be found in the warm latitudes. It is not a delicate food, but those who have lived for any length of time on salt meats at sea, do not dislike it. Sir Hans Sloane, in his voyage to Jamaica, describes the method of striking them.

VER. 504. Or the shark] This voracious fish needs no description; I have seen them from 15 to 20 foot long. Some naturalists call it Canis Carharias. They have been known to follow a slave-ship from Guinea to the West Indies.387 They swim with incredible celerity, and are found in some of the warmer seas of Europe, as well as between the tropics.

VER. 505. nautilus388] This fish the seamen call a Portugese man of war. It makes a most beautiful appearance on the water.

VER. 507. winged fishes] This extraordinary species of fish is only found in the warm latitudes. Being pursued in the water by a fish of prey called Albacores,389 they betake themselves in shoals to flight, and in the air are often snapt up by the Garayio,390 a sea fowl. They sometimes fall on the shrouds or decks of ships. They are well tasted, and commonly sold at Barbadoes.391

VER. 508. Dolphins] This is a most beautiful fish, when first taken out of the sea; but its beauty vanishes, almost as soon as it is dead.


  • THO’ faster than the Tropic-bird392 they flew,
  • Oft Junio cried, ah! when shall we see land? [510]
  • Soon land they made: and now in thought he claspt
  • His Indian bride, and deem’d his toils o’erpaid.

  • SHE, no less amorous, every evening walk’d
  • On the cool margin of the purple main,
  • Intent her Junio’s vessel to descry. [515]

  • ONE eve, (faint calms for many a day had rag’d,)
  • The winged daemons of the tempest rose;
  • Thunder, and rain, and lightning’s awful power.
  • She fled: could innocence, could beauty claim
  • Exemption from the grave; the aethereal Bolt,393 [520]
  • That stretch’d her speechless, o’er her lovely head
  • Had innocently roll’d.

  • MEAN while, impatient Junio lept ashore,
  • Regardless of the Daemons of the storm.
  • Ah youth! what woes, too great for man to bear, [525]
  • Are ready to burst on thee? Urge not so
  • Thy flying courser.394 Soon Theana’s porch

VER. 509. Tropic-bird] The French call this bird Fregate, on account of its swift flying. It is only to be met with in the warm latitudes.


  • Receiv’d him: at his sight, the antient slaves
  • Affrighted shriek, and to the chamber point:—
  • Confounded, yet unknowing what they meant, [530]
  • He entered hasty——

  • AH! what a sight for one who lov’d so well!
  • All pale and cold, in every feature death,
  • Theana lay; and yet a glimpse of joy
  • Played on her face, while with faint, faultering voice, [535]
  • She thus addrest the youth, whom yet she knew.

  • “WELCOME, my Junio, to thy native shore!
  • “Thy sight repays this summons of my fate:
  • “Live, and live happy; sometimes think of me:
  • “By night, by day, you still engag’d my care; [540]
  • “And next to God, you now my thoughts employ:
  • “Accept of this——My little all I give;
  • “Would it were larger”——Nature could no more;
  • She look’d, embrac’d him, with a groan expir’d.

  • BUT say, what strains, what language can express
  • The thousand pangs, which tore the lover’s breast?
  • Upon her breathless corse himself he threw,
  • And to her clay-cold lips, with trembling haste,


  • Ten thousand kisses gave. He strove to speak;
  • Nor words he found: he claspt her in his arms; [550]
  • He sigh’d, he swoon’d, look’d up, and died away.

  • ONE grave contains this hapless, faithful pair;
  • And still the Cane-isles tell their matchless love!




S U G A R - C A N E.




Hymn to the month of January, when crop begins. Address. Planters have employment all the year round. Planters should be pious. A ripe Cane-piece on fire at midnight. Crop begun. Cane cutting described. Effects of music. Great care requisite in feeding the mill. Humanity towards the maimed recommended. The tainted Canes should not be ground. Their use. How to preserve the laths and mill-points from sudden squalls. Address to the Sun, and praise of Antigua. A cattle-mill described. Care of mules, &c. Diseases to which they are subject. A water-mill the least liable to interruption. Common in Guadaloupe and Martinico. Praise of Lord Romney. The necessity of a strong, clear fire, in boiling. Planters should always have a spare set of vessels, because the iron furnaces are apt to crack, and copper vessels to melt. The danger of throwing cold water into a thorough-heated furnace. Cleanliness, and skimming well, recommended. A boiling-house should be lofty, and open at top, to the leeward. Constituent parts of vegetables. Sugar an essential salt. What retards its granulation. How to forward it. Dumb Cane. Effects of it. Bristol-lime the best temper. Various uses of Bristol lime. Good muscovado described. Bermudas-lime recommended. The Negroes should not be hindered from drinking the hot liquor. The chearfulness and healthiness of the Negroes in crop-time. Boilers to be encouraged. They should neither boil the Sugar too little, nor too much. When the Sugar is of too loose a grain, and about to boil over the teache, or last copper, a little grease settles it, and makes it boil closer. The French often mix sand with their Sugars. This practice not followed by the English. A character. Of the skimmings. Their various uses. Of rum. Its praise. A West-India prospect, when crop is finished. An address to the Creoles, to live more upon their estates than they do. The reasons.



S U G A R - C A N E


  • FROM scenes of deep distress, the heavenly Muse,
  • Emerging joyous, claps her dewy wings.
  • As when a pilgrim, in the howling waste,
  • Hath long time wandered, fearful at each step,
  • Of tumbling cliffs, fell serpents, whelming bogs; [5]
  • At last, from some lone eminence, descries
  • Fair haunts of social life; wide-cultur’d plains,395
  • O’er which glad reapers pour; he chearly sings:
  • So she to sprightlier notes her pipe attunes,
  • Than e’er these mountains heard; to gratulate, [10]
  • With duteous carols, the beginning year.


  • HAIL, eldest birth of Time!396 in other climes,
  • In the old world, with tempests usher’d in;
  • While rifled nature thine appearance wails,
  • And savage winter wields his iron mace: [15]
  • But not the rockiest verge of these green isles,
  • Tho’ mountains heapt on mountains brave the sky,
  • Dares winter, by his residence, prophane.
  • At times the ruffian, wrapt in murky state,
  • Inroads will, sly, attempt; but soon the sun, [20]
  • Benign protector of the Cane-land isles,
  • Repells the invader, and his rude mace breaks.
  • Here, every mountain, every winding dell,
  • (Haunt of the Dryads; where, beneath the shade
  • Of broad-leaf’d china,397 idly they repose, [25]

VER. 17. Tho’ mountains heapt on mountains] This more particularly alludes to St. Kitts; where one of the highest ridges of that chain of mountains, which run through its center, from one end of it to the other, bears upon it another mountain, which, somewhat resembling the legendary prints of the devil’s carrying on his shoulders St. Christopher; or, as others write, of a giant, of that appellation, carrying our Saviour, in the form of a child, in the same manner, through a deep sea; gave name, to this island.

VER. 25. Of broad-leaf’d china,] The leaves of this medicinal tree are so large, that the Negroes commonly use them to cover the water, which they bring in pails from the mountain, where it chiefly grows. The roots of this tree were introduced into European practice, soon after the venereal disease; but, unless they are fresh, it must be confessed they possess fewer virtues than either sarsaparilla398 or lignum


  • Charm’d with the murmur of the tinkling rill;
  • Charm’d with the hummings of the neighbouring hive;)
  • Welcome thy glad approach: but chief the Cane,
  • Whose juice now longs to murmur down the spout,
  • Hails thy lov’d coming; January, hail!399 [30]

  • O M ***!400 thou, whose polish’d mind contains
  • Each science useful to thy native isle!
  • Philosopher, without the hermit’s spleen!401
  • Polite, yet learned; and, tho’ solid, gay!
  • Critic, whose head each beauty, fond, admires; [35]
  • Whose heart each error flings in friendly shade!
  • Planter, whose youth sage cultivation taught
  • Each secret lesson of her sylvan school:402
  • To thee the Muse a grateful tribute pays;
  • She owes to thee the precepts of her song: [40]
  • Nor wilt thou, sour, refuse; tho’ other cares,
  • The public welfare, claim thy busy hour;
  • With her to roam (thrice pleasing devious walk)

vitae.403 It also grows in China, and many parts of the East-Indies, where it is greatly recommended in the gout, palsy, sciatica, obstructions,404 and obstinate headachs: but it can surely not effect the removal of these terrible disorders; since, in China, the people eat the fresh root, boiled with their meat, as we do turnips; and the better sort, there, use a water distilled from it. The Spaniards call it Palo de China. The botanical name is Smilax.


  • The ripened cane-piece; and, with her, to taste
  • (Delicious draught!) the nectar of the mill! [45]

  • THE planter’s labour in a round revolves;405
  • Ends with the year, and with the year begins.

  • YE swains, to Heaven bend low in grateful prayer,
  • Worship the Almighty; whose kind-fostering hand
  • Hath blest your labour, and hath given the cane [50]
  • To rise superior to each menac’d ill.

  • NOR less, ye planters, in devotion, sue,
  • That nor the heavenly bolt, nor casual spark,
  • Nor hand of malice may the crop destroy.406

  • AH me! what numerous, deafning bells, resound? [55]
  • What cries of horror startle the dull sleep?
  • What gleaming brightness makes, at midnight, day?
  • By its portentuous glare, too well I see
  • Palaemon’s fate;407 the virtuous, and the wise!
  • Where were ye, watches, when the flame burst forth? [60]
  • A little care had then the hydra408 quell’d:
  • But, now, what clouds of white smoke load the sky!
  • How strong, how rapid the combustion pours!


  • Aid not, ye winds! with your destroying breath,
  • The spreading vengeance.—They contemn my prayer. [65]

  • ROUS’D by the deafning bells, the cries, the blaze;
  • From every quarter, in tumultuous bands,
  • The Negroes rush; and, ‘mid the crackling flames,
  • Plunge, daemon-like! All, all, urge every nerve:
  • This way, tear up those Canes; dash the fire out, [70]
  • Which sweeps, with serpent-error, o’er the ground.
  • There, hew these down; their topmost branches burn:
  • And here bid all thy watery engines play;
  • For here the wind the burning deluge drives.

  • IN vain.—More wide the blazing torrent rolls;[75]
  • More loud it roars, more bright it fires the pole!
  • And toward thy mansion, see, it bends its way.
  • Haste! far, O far, your infant-throng remove:
  • Quick from your stables drag your steeds and mules:
  • With well-wet blankets guard your cypress-roofs; [80]
  • And where thy dried Canes in large stacks are pil’d.—

  • EFFORTS but serve to irritate the flames:
  • Naught but thy ruin can their wrath appease.
  • Ah, my Palaemon! what avail’d thy care,

VER. 81. And where thy dried Canes] The Cane-stalks which have been ground, are called Magoss; probably a corruption of the French word Bagasse,409 which signifies the same thing. They make an excellent fewel.


  • Oft to prevent the earliest dawn of day, [85]
  • And walk thy ranges, at the noon of night?
  • What tho’ no ills assail’d thy bunching sprouts,
  • And seasons pour’d obedient to thy will:
  • All, all must perish; nor shalt thou preserve
  • Wherewith to feed thy little orphan-throng. [90]

  • OH, may the Cane-isles know few nights, like this!
  • For now the sail-clad points,410 impatient, wait
  • The hour of sweet release, to court the gale.
  • The late-hung coppers wish to feel the warmth,
  • Which well-dried fewel from the Cane imparts: [95]
  • The Negroe-train, with placid looks, survey
  • Thy fields, which full perfection have attain’d,
  • And pant to wield the bill: (no surly watch
  • Dare now deprive them of the luscious Cane:)411
  • Nor thou, my friend, their willing ardour check; [100]
  • Encourage rather; cheerful toil is light.
  • So from no field, shall slow-pac’d oxen draw
  • More frequent loaded wanes; which many a day,
  • And many a night shall feed thy crackling mills
  • With richest offerings:412 while thy far seen flames, [105]
  • Bursting thro’ many a chimney, bright emblaze
  • The AEthiop-brow of night. And see, they pour


  • (Ere Phosphor413 his pale circlet yet withdraws,
  • What time grey dawn stands tip-toe on the hill,)
  • O’er the rich Cane-grove: Muse, their labour sing. [110]

  • SOME bending, of their sapless burden ease
  • The yellow jointed canes,414 (whose height exceeds
  • A mounted trooper, and whose clammy round
  • Measures two inches full;) and near the root
  • Lop the stem off, which quivers in their hand [115]
  • With fond impatience: soon it’s branchy spires,
  • (Food to thy cattle) it resigns; and soon
  • It’s tender prickly tops, with eyes415 thick set,
  • To load with future crops thy long-hoed land.
  • These with their green, their pliant branches bound, [120]
  • (For not a part of this amazing plant,
  • But serves some useful purpose) charge the young:
  • Not laziness declines this easy toil;
  • Even lameness from it’s leafy pallet crawls,
  • To join the favoured gang. What of the Cane [125]
  • Remains, and much the largest part remains,
  • Cut into junks a yard in length, and tied
  • In small light bundles; load the broad-wheel’d wane,
  • The mules crook-harnest, and the sturdier crew,


  • With sweet abundance. As on Lincoln-plains, [130]
  • (Ye plains of Lincoln sound your Dyer’s praise!)416
  • When the lav’d snow-white flocks are numerous penn’d;
  • The senior swains, with sharpen’d shears, cut off
  • The fleecy vestment; others stir the tar;
  • And some impress, upon their captives sides, [135]
  • Their master’s cypher;417 while the infant throng
  • Strive by the horns to hold the struggling ram,
  • Proud of their prowess. Nor meanwhile the jest
  • Light-bandied round, but innocent of ill;
  • Nor choral song are wanting: eccho rings. [140]

  • NOR need the driver, AEthiop authoriz’d,
  • Thence more inhuman, crack his horrid whip;
  • From such dire sounds the indignant muse averts
  • Her virgin-ear,418 where musick loves to dwell:
  • ‘Tis malice now, ‘tis wantonness of power [145]
  • To lash the laughing, labouring, singing throng.419

  • WHAT cannot song? all nature feels its power:
  • The hind’s blithe whistle, as thro’ stubborn soils
  • He drives the shining share; more than the goad,
  • His tardy steers impells.—The muse hath seen, [150]


  • When health danc’d frolic in her youthful veins,
  • And vacant gambols wing’d the laughing hours;
  • The muse hath seen on Annan’s420 pastoral hills,
  • Of theft and slaughter erst the fell retreat,
  • But now the shepherd’s best-beloved walk: [155]
  • Hath seen the shepherd, with his sylvan pipe,
  • Lead on his flock o’er crags, thro’ bogs, and streams,
  • A tedious journey; yet not weary they,
  • Drawn by the enchantment of his artless song.
  • What cannot musick?—When brown Ceres asks [160]
  • The reapers sickle; what like magic sound,
  • Puff’d from sonorous bellows421 by the squeeze
  • Of tuneful artist, can the rage disarm
  • Of the swart dog-star,422 and make harvest light?

  • AND now thy mills dance eager in the gale; [165]
  • Feed well their eagerness: but O beware;
  • Nor trust, between the steel-cas’d cylinders,423
  • The hand incautious: off the member snapt424
  • Thou’lt ever rue; sad spectacle of woe!

VER. 168. Off the member snapt] This accident will sometimes happen, especially in the night: and the unfortunate wretch must fall a victim to his imprudence or sleepiness, if a hatchet do not immediately strike off the entangled member; or the mill be not instantly put out of the wind.425


  • ARE there, the muse can scarce believe the tale; [170]
  • Are there, who lost to every feeling sense,
  • To reason, interest lost; their slaves desert,
  • And manumit426 them, generous boon! to starve
  • Maim’d by imprudence, or the hand of Heaven?
  • The good man feeds his blind, his aged steed, [175]
  • That in his service spent his vigorous prime:
  • And dares a mortal to his fellow man,
  • (For spite of vanity, thy slaves are men)
  • Deny protection? Muse suppress the tale.

  • YE! who in bundles bind the lopt-off Canes; [180]
  • But chiefly ye! who feed the tight-brac’d mill;

Pere Labat says, he was informed the English were wont, as a punishment, thus to grind their negroes to death. But one may venture to affirm this punishment never had the sanction of law; and if any Englishman ever did grind his negroes to death, I will take upon me to aver, he was universally detested by his countrymen.

Indeed the bare suspicion of such a piece of barbarity leaves a stain: and therefore authors cannot be too cautious of admitting into their writings, any insinuation that bears hard on the humanity of a people.

Daily observation affords but too many proofs, where domestic slavery does not obtain, of the fatal consequences of indulged passion and revenge; but where one man is the absolute property of another, those passions may perhaps receive additional activity: planters, therefore, cannot be too much on their guard against the first sallies of passion; as by indulgence, passion, like a favourite, will at last grow independently powerful.


  • In separate parcels, far, the infected fling:
  • Of bad Cane-juice the least admixture427 spoils
  • The richest, soundest; thus, in pastoral walks,
  • One tainted sheep contaminates the fold. [185]

  • NOR yet to dung-heaps thou resign the canes,
  • Which or the sun hath burnt, or rats have gnaw’d.
  • These, to small junks reduc’d, and in huge casks
  • Steept, where no cool winds blow; do thou ferment:—.
  • Then, when from his entanglements inlarg’d [190]
  • Th’ evasive spirit mounts; by Vulcan’s428 aid,
  • (Nor Amphitryte429 will her help deny,)
  • Do thou through all his winding ways pursue
  • The runaway; till in thy sparkling bowl
  • Confin’d, he dances; more a friend to life, [195]
  • And joy, than that Nepenthe430 fam’d of yore,
  • Which Polydamna,431 Thone’s imperial queen,
  • Taught Jove-born Helen432 on the banks of Nile.

  • AS on old ocean, when the wind blows high,
  • The cautious mariner contracts his sail; [200]
  • So here, when squaly bursts the speeding gale,
  • If thou from ruin would’st thy points preserve,
  • Less-bellying canvass433 to the storm oppose.

VER. 192. Amphitryte] A mixture of sea water, is a real improvement in the distillation of rum.


  • YET the faint breeze oft flags on listless wings,
  • Nor tremulates the coco’s airiest arch, [205]
  • While the red sun darts deluges of fire;
  • And soon (if on the gale thy crop depend,)
  • Will all thy hopes of opulence defeat.

  • “INFORMER of the planetary train!”434
  • Source undiminished of all-cheering light, [210]
  • Of roseat beauty, and heart-gladning joy!
  • Fountain of being, on whose water broods
  • The organic spirit, principle of life!
  • Lord of the seasons! who in courtly pomp
  • Lacquay435 thy presence, and with glad dispatch, [215]
  • Pour at thy bidding, o’er the land and sea!
  • Parent of Vegetation, whose fond grasp
  • The Sugar-Cane displays; and whose green car
  • Soft-stealing dews, with liquid pearls adorn’d,
  • Fat-fostering rains, and buxom genial airs [220]
  • Attend triumphant! Why, ah why so oft,
  • Why hath Antigua, sweetly social isle,

VER. 222. Why hath Antigua] This beautiful island lies in 16 degrees and 14 min. N. lat. It was long uninhabited on account of its wanting fresh-water rivers; but is now more fully peopled, and as well cultivated as any of the leeward islands. In a seasonable year, it has made 30,000 hogsheads436 of sugar. It has no very high mountains. The soil is, in general, clayey. The water of the body-ponds437 may be used for every purpose of life. Antigua is well fortified, and has a good militia.


  • Nurse of each art; where science yet finds friends
  • Amid this waste of waters; wept thy rage?

  • THEN trust not, planter, to the unsteddy gale; [225]
  • But in Tobago’s438 endless forests fell
  • The tall tough hiccory, or calaba.439
  • Of this, be forc’d two pillars in the ground,
  • Four paces distant, and two cubits440 high:
  • Other two pillars raise; the wood the same, [230]
  • Of equal size and height. The Calaba
  • Than steel more durable, contemns the rain,
  • And sun’s intensest beam; the worm, that pest
  • Of mariners, which winds its fatal way
  • Through heart of British oak,441 reluctant leaves [235]
  • The closer calaba.—By transverse beams
  • Secure the whole; and in the pillar’d frame,
  • Sink, artist, the vast bridge-tree’s442 mortis’d form
  • Of ponderous hiccory; hiccory time defies:

VER. 227. Hiccory] This is a lofty spreading tree, of very hard wood, excellently adapted to the purposes of the mill-wright. The nut, whose shell is thick, hard, and roughish, contains an agreeable and wholesome kernel. It grows in great abundance in St. Croix,443 Crab island,444 and Tobago.

VER. 227. Calaba] This lofty tree is commonly called Mastic: it is a hard wood, and is found in the places where the Hiccory grows. The flowers are yellow, and are succeeded by a fruit, which bears a distant resemblance to a shrub.


  • To this be nail’d three polish’d iron plates; [240]
  • Whereon, three steel Capouces,445 turn with ease,
  • Of three long rollers, twice-nine inches round,
  • With iron cas’d, and jagg’d with many a cogg.
  • The central Cylinder exceeds the rest
  • In portly size, thence aptly Captain nam’d. [245]
  • To this be rivetted th’ extended sweeps;446
  • And harness to each sweep two seasoned mules:
  • They pacing round, give motion to the whole.
  • The close brac’d cylinders with ease revolve
  • On their greas’d axle; and with ease reduce [250]
  • To trash, the Canes thy negroes throw between.
  • Fast flows the liquor thro’447 the lead-lin’d spouts;448
  • And depurated449 by opposing wires,
  • In the receiver floats a limpid stream.
  • So twice five casks, with muscovado450 fill’d, [255]
  • Shall from thy staunchions451 drip, ere Day’s bright god
  • Hath in the Atlantic six times cool’d his wheels.

  • WOULDST thou against calamity provide?
  • Let a well shingled roof, from Raleigh’s land,

VER. 259. Raleigh’s land] Sir Walter Raleigh gave the name of Virginia, in honour of Q. Elizabeth, to the whole of the north-east of North America, which Sebastian Cabot,452 a native of Bristol, (though others call him a Venetian,) first disco-


  • Defend thy stock from noon’s inclement blaze, [260]
  • And from night-dews; for night no respite knows.

  • NOR, when their destin’d labour is perform’d,
  • Be thou asham’d to lead the panting mules
  • (The muse, soft parent of each social grace,
  • With eyes of love God’s whole creation views) [265]
  • To the warm pen; where copious forage strowed,453
  • And strenuous rubbing, renovate their strength.
  • So, fewer ails, (alas, how prone to ails!)
  • Their days shall shorten; ah, too short at best!

  • FOR not, even then, my friend, art thou secure [270]
  • From fortune: spite of all thy steady care,
  • What ills, that laugh to scorn Machaon’s454 art,

vered, A.D. 1497, in the time of King Henry VII.455 by whom he was employed; but no advantages could be reaped from this discovery, on account of the various disturbances that ensued in England during the succeeding reigns, till about the year 1584, Q. Elizabeth gave Sir Walter Raleigh a patent for all such land, from 33. to 40. N. lat. as he should chuse to settle with English, reserving only to the crown a fifth part of all the gold and silver which should therein be discovered, in lieu of all services. Accordingly several imbarkations were fitted out from England, but all to no purpose. Some farther attempts, however, were made to settle this part of the country in the succeeding reign; but it was not till the year 1620, that a regular form of government took place. Then was tobacco planted, and negroes imported into Virginia. Since that time it has gradually improved, and does not now contain fewer than 100,000 white people of better condition, besides twice as many servants and slaves. The best shingles come from Egg-Harbour.456


  • Await thy cattle! farcy’s tabid457 form,
  • Joint-racking spasms, and cholic’s458 pungent pang,
  • Need the muse tell? which, in one luckless moon, [275]
  • Thy sheds dispeople; when perhaps thy groves,
  • To full perfection shot, by day, by night,
  • Indesinent459 demand their vigorous toil.

  • THEN happiest he, for whom the Naiads pour,
  • From rocky urns, the never-ceasing stream, [280]
  • To turn his rollers with unbought dispatch.

  • IN Karukera’s460 rich well-water’d isle!
  • In Matanina!461 boast of Albion’s arms,
  • The brawling Naiads for the planters toil,
  • Howe’er unworthy; and, thro’462 solemn scenes, [285]
  • Romantic, cool, with rocks and woods between,
  • Enchant the senses! but, among thy swains,
  • Sweet Liamuiga! who such bliss can boast?
  • Yes, Romney,463 thou may’st boast; of British heart,
  • Of courtly manners, join’d to antient worth: [290]
  • Friend to thy Britain’s every blood-earn’d right,

VER. 282. Karukera] The Indian name of Guadaloupe.

VER. 283. Matanina] The Caribbean name of Martinico. The Havannah464 had not then been taken.


  • From tyrants wrung, the many or the few.
  • By wealth, by titles, by ambition’s lure,
  • Not to be tempted from fair honour’s path:
  • While others, falsely flattering their Prince, [295]
  • Bold disapprov’d, or by oblique surmise
  • Their terror hinted, of the people arm’d;
  • Indignant, in the senate, he uprose,
  • And, with the well-urg’d energy of zeal,
  • Their specious, subtle sophistry disprov’d; [300]
  • The importance, the necessity display’d,
  • Of civil armies, freedom’s surest guard!
  • Nor in the senate didst thou only win
  • The palm of eloquence,465 securely bold;
  • But rear’d’st thy banners, fluttering in the wind: [305]
  • Kent,466 from each hamlet, pour’d her marshal’d swains,
  • To hurl defiance on the threatening Gaul.

  • THY foaming coppers well with fewel feed;
  • For a clear, strong, continued fire improves
  • Thy muscovado’s colour, and its grain.— [310]
  • Yet vehement heat, protracted, will consume
  • Thy vessels, whether from the martial mine,

VER. 312. Thy vessels,] The vessels, wherein the Cane-juice is reduced to Sugar by coction, are either made of iron or of copper. Each sort hath its advantages and


  • Or from thine ore, bright Venus, they are drawn;
  • Or hammer, or hot fusion, give them form.
  • If prudence guides thee then, thy stores shall hold [315]
  • Of well-siz’d vessels a complete supply:
  • For every hour, thy boilers467 cease to skim,
  • (Now Cancer468 reddens with the solar ray,)
  • Defeats thy honest purposes of gain.

  • NOR small the risque, (when piety, or chance, [320]
  • Force thee from boiling to desist) to lave469
  • Thy heated furnace, with the gelid470 stream.
  • The chemist471 knows, when all-dissolving fire
  • Bids the metalline ore abruptly flow;
  • What dread explosions, and what dire effects, [325]
  • A few cold drops of water will produce,
  • Uncautious, on the novel fluid thrown.

  • FOR grain and colour, wouldst thou win, my friend,
  • At every curious mart, the constant palm?
  • O’er all thy works let cleanliness preside, [330]
  • Child of frugality; and, as the skum

disadvantages. The teache, or smallest vessel from whence the Sugar is laved into the cooler, is generally copper. When it melts, it can be patched; but, when the large sort of vessels, called iron-furnaces, crack, which they are too apt to do, no further use can be made of them.


  • Thick mantles o’er the boiling wave, do thou
  • The skum that mantles carefully remove.

  • FROM bloating dropsy,472 from pulmonic ails,473
  • Would’st thou defend thy boilers, (prime of slaves,) [335]
  • For days, for nights, for weeks, for months, involv’d
  • In the warm vapour’s all-relaxing steam;
  • Thy boiling-house be lofty: all atop
  • Open, and pervious to the tropic breeze;
  • Whose cool perflation,474 wooed through many a grate, [340]
  • Dispells the steam, and gives the lungs to play.

  • THE skill’d in chemia, boast of modern arts,
  • Know from experiment,475 the fire of truth,
  • In many a plant that oil, and acid juice,
  • And ropy mucilage,476 by nature live: [345]
  • These, envious, stop the much desir’d embrace
  • Of the essential salts,477 tho’ coction bid
  • The aqueous particles to mount in air.

  • ‘MONG salts essential, sugar wins the palm,
  • For taste, for colour, and for various use: [350]

VER. 339. Open, and pervious] This also assists the christallization of the Sugar.


  • And, in the nectar of the yellowest Cane,
  • Much acor,478 oil, and mucilage abound:
  • But in the less mature, from mountain-land,
  • These harsh intruders so redundant float,
  • Muster so strong, as scarce to be subdued. [355]

  • MUSE, sing the ways to quell them. Some use Cane,
  • That Cane, whose juices to the tongue apply’d,

VER. 350. For taste, for colour, and for various use:] It were impossible, in the short limits of a note, to enumerate the various uses of Sugar; and, indeed, as these are in general so well known, it is needless. A few properties of it, however, wherewith the learned are not commonly acquainted, I shall mention. In some places of the East-Indies, an excellent arrack is made from the Sugar-Cane: And, in South-America, Sugar is used as an antidote against one of the most sudden, as well as fatal poisons in the world. Taken by mouth, pocula morte carent,479 this poison is quite innocent; but the slightest wound made by an arrow, whose point is tinged therewith, proves immediate death; for, by driving all the blood of the body immediately to the heart, it forthwith bursts it.480 The fish and birds killed by these poisoned arrows (in the use of which the Indians are astonishingly expert) are perfectly wholesome to feed on. See Ulloa and De la Condamine’s account of the great river of Amazon.481 It is a vegetable preparation.

VER. 357. That Cane] This, by the natives, is emphatically called the Dumb Cane;482 for a small quantity of its juice being rubbed on the brim of a drinking vessel, whoever drinks out of it, soon after will have his lips and tongue enormously swelled. A physician, however, who wrote a short account of the diseases of Jamaica, in Charles II.’s time, recommends it both by the mouth and externally, in dropsical and other cases:483 But I cannot say, I have had any experience of its efficacy in these disorders. It grows wild in the mountains; and, by its use in Sugar-making, should seem to be somewhat of an alcalescent484 nature. It grows to four feet high, having, at the top, two green shining leaves, about nine inches long; and, between these, a small spire emerges.


  • In silence lock it, sudden, and constrain’d,
  • (Death to Xantippe,)485 with distorting pain.

  • NOR is it not effectual: But wouldst thou [360]
  • Have rival brokers for thy cades486 contend;
  • Superior arts remain.—Small casks provide,
  • Replete with lime-stone thoroughly calcin’d,487
  • And from the air secur’d: This Bristol sends,
  • Bristol, Britannia’s second mart and eye!488 [365]

  • NOR “to thy waters only trust for fame,”489
  • Bristol; nor to thy beamy diamonds trust:
  • Tho’ these oft deck Britannia’s lovely fair;
  • And those oft save the guardians of her realm.
  • Thy marble-quarries claim the voice of praise, [370]
  • Which rich incrusts thy Avon’s banks,490 sweet banks!
  • Tho’ not to you young Shakespear, Fancy’s child,
  • All-rudely warbled his first woodland notes;
  • Tho’ not your caves, while terror stalk’d around,
  • Saw him essay to clutch the ideal sword, [375]
  • With drops of blood distain’d: yet, lovely banks,
  • On you reclin’d, another tun’d his pipe;
  • Whom all the Muses emulously love,


  • And in whose strains your praises shall endure,
  • While to Sabrina491 speeds your healing stream. [380]

  • BRISTOL, without thy marble,492 by the flame
  • Calcin’d to whiteness, vain the stately reed
  • Would swell with juice mellifluent; heat would soon
  • The strongest, best-hung furnaces, consume.
  • Without its aid the cool-imprison’d stream, [385]
  • Seldom allow’d to view the face of day,
  • Tho’ late it roam’d a denizen of air;
  • Would steal from its involuntary bounds,
  • And, by sly windings, set itself at large.
  • But chief thy lime the experienc’d boiler loves, [390]
  • Nor loves ill-founded; when no other art
  • Can bribe to union the coy floating salts,
  • A proper portion of this precious dust,
  • Cast in the wave, (so showers alone of gold
  • Could win fair Danae493 to the God’s embrace;) [395]
  • With nectar’d muscovado soon will charge
  • Thy shelving coolers, which, severely press’d
  • Between the fingers, not resolves; and which
  • Rings in the cask; and or a light-brown hue,
  • Or thine, more precious silvery-grey, assumes. [400]


  • THE fam’d Bermuda’s494 ever-healthy isles,
  • More fam’d by gentle Waller’s495 deathless strains,
  • Than for their cedars, which, insulting, fly
  • O’er the wide ocean; ‘mid their rocks contain
  • A stone, which, when calcin’d, (experience says,) [405]
  • Is only second to Sabrina’s lime.

  • WHILE flows the juice mellifluent from the Cane,
  • Grudge not, my friend, to let thy slaves, each morn,
  • But chief the sick and young, at setting day,
  • Themselves regale with oft-repeated draughts [410]
  • Of tepid Nectar; so shall health and strength
  • Confirm thy Negroes, and make labour light.

  • WHILE flame thy chimneys, while thy coppers foam,
  • How blithe, how jocund, the plantation smiles!
  • By day, by night, resounds the choral song [415]
  • Of glad barbarity; serene, the sun
  • Shines not intensely hot; the trade-wind blows:
  • How sweet, how silken, is its noontide breath?
  • While to far climes the fell destroyer, Death,
  • Wings his dark flight. Then seldom pray for rain: [420]
  • Rather for cloudless days thy prayers prefer;


  • For, if the skies too frequently relent,
  • Crude flows the Cane-juice, and will long elude
  • The boiler’s wariest skill: thy Canes will spring
  • To an unthrifty loftiness; or, weighed496 [425]
  • Down by their load, (Ambition’s curse,) decay.

  • ENCOURAGE thou thy boilers; much depends
  • On their skill’d efforts. If too soon they strike,
  • E’er all the watery particles have fled;
  • Or lime sufficient granulate the juice: [430]
  • In vain the thickning liquor is effus’d;
  • An heterogeneous, an uncertain mass,
  • And never in thy coolers to condense.

  • OR, planter, if the coction they prolong
  • Beyond its stated time; the viscous wave [435]

VER. 428. If too soon they strike,] When the Cane-juice is granulated sufficiently, which is known by the Sugar’s sticking to the ladle, and roping like a syrup, but breaking off from its edges; it is poured into a cooler, where, its surface being smoothed, the christallization is soon completed. This is called striking. The general precept is to temper high, and strike low. When the Muscovado is of a proper consistence, it is dug out of the cooler, and put into hogsheads; this is called potting. The casks being placed upon staunchions, the melasses drips from them into a cistern, made on purpose, below them, to receive it. The Sugar is sufficiently cured, when the hogshead rings upon being struck with a stick; and when the two canes, which are put into every cask, shew no melasses upon them, when drawn out of it.


  • Will in huge flinty masses chrystalize,
  • Which forceful fingers scarce can crumble down;
  • And which with its melasses ne’er will part:
  • Yet this, fast-dripping in nectarious drops,
  • Not only betters what remains, but when [440]
  • With art fermented, yields a noble wine,497
  • Than which nor Gallia, nor the Indian clime,
  • Where rolls the Ganges,498 can a nobler show.
  • So misers in their coffers lock that gold;
  • Which, if allowed at liberty to roam, [445]
  • Would better them, and benefit mankind.

  • IN the last coppers, when the embrowning wave
  • With sudden fury swells; some grease immix’d,
  • The foaming tumult sudden will compose,
  • And force to union the divided grain. [450]
  • So when two swarms in airy battle join,
  • The winged heroes heap the bloody field;
  • Until some dust, thrown upward in the sky,
  • Quell the wild conflict, and sweet peace restore.

  • FALSE Gallia’s sons, that hoe the ocean-isles, [455]
  • Mix with their Sugar, loads of worthless sand,


  • Fraudful, their weight of sugar to increase.499
  • Far be such guile from Britain’s honest swains.
  • Such arts, awhile, the unwary may surprise,
  • And benefit the Impostor; but, ere long, [460]
  • The skilful buyer will the fraud detect,
  • And, with abhorrence, reprobate the name.

  • FORTUNE had crown’d Avaro’s500 younger years,
  • With a vast tract of land, on which the cane
  • Delighted grew, nor ask’d the toil of art. [465]
  • The Sugar-bakers deem’d themselves secure,
  • Of mighty profit, could they buy his cades;
  • For, whiteness, hardness, to the leeward-crop,
  • His muscovado gave. But, not content
  • With this pre-eminence of honest gain, [470]
  • He baser sugars started in his casks;
  • His own, by mixing sordid things, debas’d.
  • One year the fraud succeeded; wealth immense
  • Flowed in upon him, and he blest his wiles:
  • The next, the brokers spurn’d the adulterate mass, [475]
  • Both on the Avon and the banks of Thame.501

  • BE thrifty, planter, even thy skimmings502 save:
  • For, planter, know, the refuse of the Cane


  • Serves needful purposes. Are barbecues
  • The cates503 thou lov’st? What like rich skimmings feed [480]
  • The grunting, bristly kind? Your labouring mules
  • They soon invigorate: Give old Baynard504 these,
  • Untir’d he trudges in his destin’d round;
  • Nor need the driver crack his horrid lash.

  • YET, with small quantities indulge the steed, [485]
  • Whom skimmings ne’er have fatten’d: else, too fond,
  • So gluttons use, he’ll eat intemperate meals;
  • And, staggering, fall the prey of ravening sharks.

  • BUT say, ye boon companions, in what strains,
  • What grateful strains, shall I record the praise [490]
  • Of their best produce, heart-recruiting rum?
  • Thrice wholesome spirit! well-matur’d with age,
  • Thrice grateful to the palate! when, with thirst,
  • With heat, with labour, and wan care opprest,
  • I quaff thy bowl, where fruit my hands have cull’d, [495]
  • Round, golden fruit; where water from the spring,
  • Which dripping coolness spreads her umbrage round;
  • With hardest, whitest sugar, thrice refin’d;
  • Dilates my soul with genuine joy; low care


  • I spurn indignant; toil a pleasure seems.505 [500]
  • For not Marne’s flowery banks, nor Tille’s green bounds,506
  • Where Ceres with the God of vintage reigns,
  • In happiest union; not Vigornian507 hills,
  • Pomona’s lov’d abode, afford to man
  • Goblets more priz’d, or laudable of taste, [505]
  • To slake parch’d thirst, and mitigate the clime.

  • YET, ‘mid this blest ebriety,508 some tears,
  • For friends I left in Albion’s distant isle,
  • For Johnson, Percy, White, escape mine eyes:509
  • For her, fair Auth’ress!510 whom first Calpe’s511 rocks [510]
  • A sportive infant saw; and whose green years
  • True genius blest with her benignest gifts
  • Of happiest fancy. O, were ye all here,
  • O, were ye here; with him, my Paeon’s son!512
  • Long-known, of worth approv’d, thrice candid soul! [515]
  • How would your converse charm the lonely hour?
  • Your converse, where mild wisdom tempers mirth;
  • And charity, the petulance of wit;

VER. 501. Marne’s flowery banks, nor Tille’s] Two rivers in France, along whose banks the best Burgundy and Champagne-grapes grow.

VER. 510. For her, fair Auth’ress!] Mrs. Lennox.


  • How would your converse polish my rude lays,513
  • With what new, noble images adorn? [520]
  • Then should I scarce regret the banks of Thames,
  • All as we sat beneath that sand-box shade;514
  • Whence the delighted eye expatiates wide
  • O’er the fair landscape; where in loveliest forms,
  • Green cultivation hath array’d the land. [525]

  • SEE! there, what mills, like giants raise their arms,
  • To quell the speeding gale! what smoke ascends
  • From every boiling house! What structures rise,
  • Neat tho’ not lofty, pervious to the breeze;
  • With galleries, porches, or piazzas grac’d! [530]
  • Nor not delightful are those reed-built huts,515
  • On yonder hill, that front the rising sun;
  • With plantanes, with banana’s bosom’d-deep,
  • That flutter in the wind: where frolick goats,

VER. 522. sand-box] So called, from the pericarpium’s being often made use of for containing sand; when the seeds, which are a violent emetic, are taken out. This is a fine shady tree, especially when young; and its leaves are efficaciously applied in headachs to the temples, which they sweat. It grows fast; but loses much of its beauty by age. Its wood is brittle, and when cut emits a milky juice, which is not caustic. The sand-box thrives best in warm shady places. The sun often splits the pericarpium, which then cracks like a pistol. It is round, flatted both above and below, and divided into a great number of regular compartments, each of which contains one seed flatted ovularly. The botanical name is Hura.


  • Butt the young negroes, while their swarthy sires, [535]
  • With ardent gladness wield the bill; and hark,
  • The crop is finish’d, how they rend the sky!—

  • NOR, beauteous only shows the cultured soil,
  • From this cool station. No less charms the eye
  • That wild interminable waste of waves: [540]
  • While on the horizon’s farthest verge are seen
  • Islands of different shape, and different size;
  • While sail-clad ships, with their sweet produce fraught,
  • Swell on the straining sight; while near yon rock,
  • On which ten thousand wings with ceaseless clang [545]
  • Their airies build, a water spout descends,
  • And shakes mid ocean; and while there below,
  • That town, embowered in the different shade
  • Of tamarinds, panspans, and papaws,516 o’er which

VER. 549. panspans] See the notes on Book II.

VER. 549. papaws] This singular tree, whose fruits surround its summit immediately under the branches and leaves, like a necklace; grows quicker than almost any other in the West Indies. The wood is of no use, being spungy, hollow, and herbacious; however, the blossoms and fruit make excellent sweet-meats;517 but above all, the juice of the fruit being rubbed upon a spit, will intenerate518 new killed fowls, &c. a circumstance of great consequence in a climate, where the warmth soon renders whatever meats are attempted to be made tender by keeping, unfit for culinary purposes. Nor, will it only intenerate fresh meat; but, being boiled with salted beef, will render it easily digestible. Its milky juice is sometimes used to cure ringworms.519 It


  • A double Iris520 throws her painted arch, [550]
  • Shows commerce toiling in each crowded street,
  • And each throng’d street with limpid currents lav’d.

  • WHAT tho’ no bird of song, here charms the sense
  • With her wild minstrelsy; far, far beyond,
  • The unnatural quavers of Hesperian throats!521 [555]
  • Tho’ the chaste poet of the vernal522 woods,
  • That shuns rude folly’s din, delight not here
  • The listening eve; and tho’ no herald-lark523
  • Here leave his couch, high-towering to descry
  • The approach of dawn, and hail her with his song: [560]
  • Yet not unmusical the tinkling lapse
  • Of yon cool argent rill, which Phoebus gilds
  • With his first orient rays; yet musical,
  • Those buxom airs that through the plantanes play,
  • And tear with wantonness their leafy scrolls; [565]
  • Yet not unmusical the waves hoarse sound,
  • That dashes, sullen, on the distant shore;
  • Yet musical those little insects hum,
  • That hover round us, and to reason’s ear,

is said, that the guts of hogs would in time be lacerated, were they to feed on the ripe, unpeeled fruit. Its seed is said to be anthelmintic.524 The botanical name is Papaya.


  • Deep, moral truths convey;525 while every beam [570]
  • Flings on them transient tints, which vary when
  • They wave their purple plumes; yet musical
  • The love-lorn cooing of the mountain-dove,
  • That woos to pleasing thoughtfulness the soul;
  • But chief the breeze, that murmurs through yon canes, [575]
  • Enchants the ear with tunable delight.

  • WHILE such fair scenes adorn these blissful isles;
  • Why will their sons, ungrateful, roam abroad?526
  • Why spend their opulence in other climes?

  • SAY, is pre-eminence your partial aim?—— [580]
  • Distinction courts you here; the senate calls.
  • Here, crouching slaves, attendant wait your nod:
  • While there, unnoted, but for folly’s garb,
  • For folly’s jargon; your dull hours ye pass,
  • Eclips’d by titles,527 and superior wealth. [585]

  • DOES martial ardour fire your generous veins?
  • Fly to your native isles: Bellona,528 there,
  • Hath long time rear’d her bloody flag; these isles
  • Your strenuous arms demand; for ye are brave!
  • Nor longer to the lute and taber’s529 sound [590]


  • Weave antic measures. O, could my weak song,
  • O could my song, like his, heaven-favoured bard,
  • Who led desponding Sparta’s oft-beat hosts,
  • To victory, to glory; fire your souls
  • With English ardor! for now England’s swains, [595]
  • (The Man of Norfolk,530 swains of England, thank;)
  • All emulous, to Freedom’s standard fly,
  • And drive invasion from their native shore:531
  • How would my soul exult with conscious pride;
  • Nor grudge those wreaths Tyrtaeus gain’d of yore.532 [600]

  • OR are ye fond of rich luxurious cates?—
  • Can aught in Europe emulate the pine,533
  • Or fruit forbidden, native of your isles?
  • Sons of Apicius,534 say, can Europe’s seas,
  • Can aught the edible creation yields, [605]
  • Compare with turtle,535 boast of land and wave?
  • Can Europe’s seas, in all their finny realms,
  • Aught so delicious as the Jew-fish536 show?
  • Tell me what viands, land or streams produce,

VER. 596. The Man of Norfolk,] The Honourable General George Townshend.

VER. 608. Jew-Fish] This, tho’ a very large, is one of the most delicate fishes that swim; being preferable to caramaw, king-fish,537 or camaree: some even chuse it before turtle. The Jew-fish is often met with at Antigua, which enjoys the happiness of having on its coast few, if any, poisoned fishes.


  • The large, black, female, moulting crab excel? [610]
  • A richer flavour not wild Cambria’s538 hills,
  • Nor Scotia’s539 rocks with heath and thyme540 o’erspread,
  • Give to their flocks; than, lone Barbuda,541 you,
  • Than you, Anguilla,542 to your sheep impart.
  • Even Britain’s vintage, here, improv’d, we quaff; [615]
  • Even Lusitanian,543 even Hesperian wines.
  • Those from the Rhine’s544 imperial banks (poor Rhine!
  • How have thy banks been died with brother-blood?
  • Unnatural warfare!)545 strength and flavour gain
  • In this delicious clime. Besides, the Cane [620]
  • Wafted to every quarter of the globe,
  • Makes the vast produce of the world your own.

  • OR rather, doth the love of nature charm;
  • Its mighty love your chief attention claim?

VER. 613. Barbuda,] This is a low, and not large stock-island, belonging to the Codrington family. Part of this island, as also two plantations in Barbadoes, were left by Colonel Christopher Codrington, for building a college in Barbardoes, and converting Negroes to the Christian religion.546

VER. 614. Anguilla,] This island is about thirty miles long and ten broad. Though not mountainous, it is rocky, and abounds with strong passes; so that a few of its inhabitants, who are indeed expert in the use of fire-arms, repulsed, with great slaughter, a considerable detachment of French, who made a descent thereon in the war preceding the last.547 Cotton and cattle are its chief commodities. Many of the inhabitants are rich; the captain-general of the Leeward-Islands nominates the governor and council. They have no assembly.


  • Leave Europe; there, through all her coyest ways, [625]
  • Her secret mazes, nature is pursued:
  • But here, with savage loneliness, she reigns
  • On yonder peak, whence giddy fancy looks,
  • Affrighted, on the labouring main below.
  • Heavens! what stupendous, what unnumbered trees, [630]
  • “Stage above stage, in various verdure drest,”548
  • Unprofitable shag its airy cliffs!
  • Heavens! what new shrubs, what herbs with useless bloom,
  • Adorn its channel’d sides; and, in its caves
  • What sulphurs, ores, what earths and stones abound! [635]
  • There let philosphy conduct thy steps,
  • “For naught is useless made:”549 With candid search,
  • Examine all the properties of things;
  • Immense discoveries soon will crown your toil,
  • Your time will soon repay. Ah, when will cares, [640]
  • The cares of Fortune, less my minutes claim?
  • Then, with what joy, what energy of soul,
  • Will I not climb yon mountain’s airiest brow!
  • The dawn, the burning noon, the setting sun,
  • The midnight-hour, shall hear my constant vows [645]
  • To Nature; see me prostrate at her shrine!
  • And, O, if haply I may aught invent


  • Of use to mortal man, life to prolong,
  • To soften, or adorn; what genuine joy,
  • What exultation of supreme delight, [650]
  • Will swell my raptured bosom. Then, when death
  • Shall call me hence, I’ll unrepining go;
  • Nor envy conquerors their storied tombs,
  • Tho’ not a stone point out my humble grave.




S U G A R - C A N E.




Invocation to the Genius of Africa. Address. Negroes when bought should be young, and strong. The Congo-negroes are fitter for the house and trades, than for the field. The Gold-Coast, but especially the Papaw-negroes, make the best field-negroes: but even these, if advanced in years, should not be purchased. The marks of a sound negroe at a negroe sale. Where the men do nothing but hunt, fish or fight, and all field drudgery is left to the women; these are to be preferred to their husbands. The Minnahs make good tradesmen, but addicted to suicide. The Mundingos, in particular, subject to worms; and the Congas, to dropsical disorders. How salt-water, or new negroes should be seasoned. Some negroes eat dirt. Negroes should be habituated by gentle degrees to field labour. This labour, when compared to that in lead-mines, or of those who work in the gold and silver mines of South America, is not only less toilsome, but far more healthy. Negroes should always be treated with humanity. Praise of freedom. Of the dracunculus, or dragon-worm. Of chigres. Of the yaws. Might not this disease be imparted by inoculation? Of worms, and their multiform appearance. Praise of commerce. Of the imaginary disorders of negroes, especially those caused by their conjurers or Obia-men. The composition and supposed virtues of a magic-phiol. Field-negroes should not begin to work before six in the morning, and should leave off between eleven and twelve; and beginning again at two, should finish before sunset. Of the weekly allowance of negroes. The young, the old, the sickly, and even the lazy, must have their victuals prepared for them. Of negroe-ground, and its various productions. To be fenced in, and watched. Of an American garden. Of the situation of the negroe-huts. How best defended from fire. The great negroe-dance described. Drumming, and intoxicating spirits not to be allowed. Negroes should be made to marry in their masters plantation. Inconveniences arising from the contrary practice. Negroes to be cloathed once a year, and before Christmas. Praise of Lewis XIV. for the Code Noir. A body of laws of this kind recommended to the English sugar colonies. Praise of the river Thames. A moon-light landscape and vision.



S U G A R - C A N E.


  • GENIUS of Africk!550 whether thou bestrid’st
  • The castled elephant;551 or at the source,
  • (While howls the desart fearfully around,)
  • Of thine own Niger,552 sadly thou reclin’st
  • Thy temples shaded by the tremulous palm, [5]
  • Or quick papaw,553 whose top is necklac’d round
  • With numerous rows of party-colour’d fruit:
  • Or hear’st thou rather from the rocky banks
  • Of Rio Grandê,554 or black Sanaga?555
  • Where dauntless thou the headlong torrent brav’st [10]
  • In search of gold, to brede556 thy wooly locks,
  • Or with bright ringlets ornament thine ears,


  • Thine arms, and ankles: O attend my song.
  • A muse that pities thy distressful state;557
  • Who sees, with grief, thy sons in fetters bound; [15]
  • Who wishes freedom to the race of man;558
  • Thy nod assenting craves: dread Genius, come!

  • YET vain thy presence, vain thy favouring nod;
  • Unless once more the muses, that erewhile
  • Upheld me fainting in my past career, [20]
  • Through Caribbe’s559 cane-isles; kind condescend
  • To guide my footsteps, through parch’d Libya’s wilds;560
  • And bind my sun-burnt brow with other bays,561
  • Than ever deck’d the Sylvan bard562 before.

  • SAY, will my Melvil,563 from the public care, [25]
  • Withdraw one moment, to the muses shrine?
  • Who smit with thy fair fame, industrious cull
  • An Indian wreath564 to mingle with thy bays,
  • And deck the hero, and the scholar’s brow!
  • Wilt thou, whose mildness smooths the face of war, [30]
  • Who round the victor-blade the myrtle twin’st,
  • And mak’st subjection loyal and sincere;
  • O wilt thou gracious hear the unartful strain,
  • Whose mild instructions teach, no trivial theme,


  • What care the jetty African requires?565 [35]
  • Yes, thou wilt deign to hear; a man thou art
  • Who deem’st nought foreign that belongs to man.

  • IN mind, and aptitude for useful toil,
  • The negroes differ: muse that difference sing.566

  • WHETHER to wield the hoe, or guide the plane; [40]
  • Or for domestic uses thou intend’st
  • The sunny Libyan: from what clime they spring,
  • It not imports; if strength and youth be theirs.

  • YET those from Congo’s wide-extended plains,567
  • Through which the long Zaire winds with chrystal stream,568 [45]
  • Where lavish Nature sends indulgent forth
  • Fruits of high flavour, and spontaneous seeds
  • Of bland nutritious quality, ill bear
  • The toilsome field; but boast a docile mind,
  • And happiness of features. These, with care, [50]
  • Be taught each nice mechanic art:569 or train’d
  • To houshold offices: their ductile570 souls
  • Will all thy care, and all thy gold repay.

  • BUT, if the labours of the field demand


  • Thy chief attention; and the ambrosial cane [55]
  • Thou long’st to see, with spiry frequence, shade
  • Many an acre: planter, chuse the slave,
  • Who sails from barren climes; where art571 alone,
  • Offspring of rude necessity, compells
  • The sturdy native, or to plant the soil, [60]
  • Or stem vast rivers for his daily food.

  • SUCH are the children of the Golden Coast;572
  • Such the Papaws,573 of negroes far the best:
  • And such the numerous tribes, that skirt the shore,
  • From rapid Volta to the distant Rey.574 [65]

  • BUT, planter, from what coast soe’er they sail,
  • Buy not the old: they ever sullen prove;
  • With heart-felt anguish, they lament their home;
  • They will not, cannot work; they never learn
  • Thy native language; they are prone to ails; [70]
  • And oft by suicide their being end.—575

  • MUST thou from Africk reinforce thy gang?—576
  • Let health and youth their every sinew firm;
  • Clear roll their ample eye; their tongue be red;
  • Broad swell their chest; their shoulders wide expand; [75]


  • Not prominent their belly; clean and strong
  • Their thighs and legs, in just proportion rise.577
  • Such soon will brave the fervours of the clime;
  • And free from ails, that kill thy negroe-train,
  • A useful servitude will long support. [80]

  • YET, if thine own, thy childrens life, be dear;
  • Buy not a Cormantee,578 tho’ healthy, young.
  • Of breed too generous for the servile field;
  • They, born to freedom in their native land,
  • Chuse death before dishonourable bonds: [85]
  • Or, fir’d with vengeance, at the midnight hour,
  • Sudden they seize thine unsuspecting watch,
  • And thine own poinard579 bury in thy breast.

  • AT home, the men, in many a sylvan realm,
  • Their rank tobacco, charm of sauntering minds, [90]
  • From clayey tubes inhale;580 or, vacant, beat
  • For prey the forest; or, in war’s dread ranks,
  • Their country’s foes affront: while, in the field,
  • Their wives plant rice, or yams, or lofty maize,581
  • Fell hunger to repel. Be these thy choice: [95]
  • They, hardy, with the labours of the Cane


  • Soon grow familiar; while unusual toil,
  • And new severities their husbands kill.

  • THE slaves from Minnah582 are of stubborn breed:
  • But, when the bill, or hammer, they affect; [100]
  • They soon perfection reach. But fly, with care,
  • The Moco-nation; they themselves destroy.583

  • WORMS lurk in all: yet, pronest they to worms,584
  • Who from Mundingo585 sail. When therefore such
  • Thou buy’st, for sturdy and laborious they, [105]
  • Straight let some learned leach586 strong medicines give,
  • Till food and climate both familiar grow.
  • Thus, tho’ from rise to set, in Phoebus’ eye,
  • They toil, unceasing; yet, at night, they’ll sleep,
  • Lap’d in Elysium;587 and, each day, at dawn, [110]
  • Spring from their couch, as blythsome as the sun.

  • ONE precept more, it much imports to know.—
  • The Blacks, who drink the Quanza’s588 lucid stream,
  • Fed by ten thousand springs, are prone to bloat,
  • Whether at home or in these ocean-isles: [115]
  • And tho’ nice art the water may subdue,


  • Yet many die; and few, for many a year,
  • Just strength attain to labour for their lord.

  • WOULD’ST thou secure thine Ethiop from those ails,
  • Which change of climate, change of waters breed, [120]
  • And food unusual? let Machaon draw
  • From each some blood, as age and sex require;
  • And well with vervain, well with sempre-vive,589
  • Unload their bowels.—These, in every hedge,
  • Spontaneous grow.—Nor will it not conduce [125]
  • To give what chemists, in mysterious phrase,
  • Term the white eagle;590 deadly foe to worms.
  • But chief do thou, my friend, with hearty food,
  • Yet easy of digestion, likest that
  • Which they at home regal’d on; renovate [130]
  • Their sea-worn appetites. Let gentle work,
  • Or rather playful exercise, amuse
  • The novel gang:591 and far be angry words;
  • Far ponderous chains; and far disheartning blows.—
  • From fruits restrain their eagerness; yet if [135]
  • The acajou,592 haply, in thy garden bloom,
  • With cherries, or of white or purple hue,

VER. 137. cherries,] The tree which produces this wholesome fruit is tall, shady, and of quick growth. Its Indian name is Acajou; hence corruptly called Cashew by


  • Thrice wholesome fruit in this relaxing clime!
  • Safely thou may’st their appetite indulge.
  • Their arid skins will plump, their features shine: [140]
  • No rheums,593 no dysenteric ails torment:
  • The thirsty hydrops594 flies.—’Tis even averr’d,
  • (Ah, did experience sanctify the fact;
  • How many Lybians now would dig the soil,
  • Who pine in hourly agonies away!) [145]
  • This pleasing fruit, if turtle595 join its aid,
  • Removes that worst of ails, disgrace of art,
  • The loathsome leprosy’s596 infectious bane.

  • THERE are, the muse hath oft abhorrent seen,
  • Who swallow dirt;597 (so the chlorotic fair598 [150]

the English. The fruit has no resemblance to a cherry, either in shape or size; and bears, at its lower extremity, a nut (which the Spaniards name Anacardo, and physicians Anacardium) that resembles a large kidney-bean. Its kernel is as grateful as an almond, and more easy of digestion. Between its rhinds599 is contained a highly caustic oil; which, being held to a candle, emits bright salient sparkles, in which the American fortune-tellers pretended they saw spirits who gave answers to whatever questions were put to them by their ignorant followers. This oil is used as a cosmetic by the ladies, to remove freckles and sun-burning; but the pain they necessarily suffer makes its use not very frequent. This tree also produces a gum not inferior to Gum-Arabic;600 and its bark is an approved astringent. The juice of the cherry stains exceedingly. The long citron, or amber-coloured, is the best. The cashew-nuts, when unripe, are of a green colour; but, ripe, they assume that of a pale olive. This tree bears fruit but once a year.


  • Oft chalk prefer to the most poignant cates:)
  • Such, dropsy bloats, and to sure death consigns;
  • Unless restrain’d from this unwholesome food,
  • By soothing words, by menaces, by blows:
  • Nor yet will threats, or blows, or soothing words, [155]
  • Perfect their cure; unless thou, Paean, deign’st
  • By medicine’s power their cravings to subdue.

  • TO easy labour first inure thy slaves;
  • Extremes are dangerous.601 With industrious search,
  • Let them fit grassy provender collect [160]
  • For thy keen stomach’d herds.—But when the earth
  • Hath made her annual progress round the sun,
  • What time the conch602 or bell resounds, they may
  • All to the Cane-ground, with thy gang, repair.

  • NOR, Negroe, at thy destiny repine,603 [165]
  • Tho’ doom’d to toil from dawn to setting sun.
  • How far more pleasant is thy rural task,
  • Than theirs who sweat, sequester’d from the day,
  • In dark tartarean caves,604 sunk far beneath

VER. 163. the conch] Plantations that have no bells, assemble their Negroes by sounding a conch-shell.


  • The earth’s dark surface; where sulphureous flames, [170]
  • Oft from their vapoury prisons bursting wild,
  • To dire explosion give the cavern’d deep,
  • And in dread ruin all its inmates whelm?—
  • Nor fateful only is the bursting flame;
  • The exhalations of the deep-dug mine, [175]
  • Tho’ slow, shake from their wings as sure a death.
  • With what intense severity of pain
  • Hath the afflicted muse, in Scotia, seen
  • The miners rack’d, who toil for fatal lead?605
  • What cramps, what palsies606 shake their feeble limbs, [180]
  • Who, on the margin of the rocky Drave,607
  • Trace silver’s fluent ore?608 Yet white men these!

  • HOW far more happy ye, than those poor slaves,
  • Who, whilom, under native, gracious chiefs,
  • Incas609 and emperors, long time enjoy’d [185]
  • Mild government, with every sweet of life,
  • In blissful climates? See them dragg’d in chains,
  • By proud insulting tyrants,610 to the mines
  • Which once they call’d their own, and then despis’d!

VER. 181. rocky Drave,] A river in Hungary, on whose banks are found mines of quicksilver.


  • See, in the mineral bosom of their land, [190]
  • How hard they toil! how soon their youthful limbs
  • Feel the decrepitude of age! how soon
  • Their teeth desert their sockets! and how soon
  • Shaking paralysis unstrings their frame!
  • Yet scarce, even then, are they allow’d to view [195]
  • The glorious God of day, of whom they beg,
  • With earnest hourly supplications, death;
  • Yet death slow comes, to torture them the more!

  • WITH these compar’d, ye sons of Afric, say,
  • How far more happy is your lot? Bland health, [200]
  • Of ardent eye, and limb robust, attends
  • Your custom’d labour; and, should sickness seize,
  • With what solicitude are ye not nurs’d!—
  • Ye Negroes, then, your pleasing task pursue;611
  • And, by your toil, deserve your master’s care. [205]

  • WHEN first your Blacks are novel to the hoe;
  • Study their humours:612 Some, soft-soothing words;
  • Some, presents; and some, menaces subdue;
  • And some I’ve known, so stubborn is their kind,
  • Whom blows, alas! could win alone to toil. [210]


  • YET, planter, let humanity prevail.613
  • Perhaps thy Negroe, in his native land,
  • Possest large fertile plains, and slaves, and herds:614
  • Perhaps, whene’er he deign’d to walk abroad,
  • The richest silks, from where the Indus615 rolls, [215]
  • His limbs invested in their gorgeous pleats:
  • Perhaps he wails his wife, his children, left
  • To struggle with adversity: Perhaps
  • Fortune, in battle for his country fought,
  • Gave him a captive to his deadliest foe: [220]
  • Perhaps, incautious, in his native fields,
  • (On pleasurable scenes his mind intent)
  • All as he wandered; from the neighbouring grove,
  • Fell ambush dragg’d him to the hated main.—
  • Were they even sold for crimes; ye polish’d, say! [225]
  • Ye, to whom Learning opes her amplest page!
  • Ye, whom the knowledge of a living God
  • Should lead to virtue! Are ye free from crimes?
  • Ah pity, then, these uninstructed swains;
  • And still let mercy soften the decrees [230]
  • Of rigid justice, with her lenient hand.

  • OH, did the tender muse possess the power,616
  • Which monarchs have, and monarchs oft abuse:


  • ‘Twould be the fond ambition of her soul,
  • To quell tyrannic sway;617 knock off the chains [235]
  • Of heart-debasing slavery; give to man,
  • Of every colour and of every clime,
  • Freedom, which stamps him image of his God.
  • Then laws, Oppression’s scourge, fair Virtue’s prop,
  • Offspring of Wisdom! should impartial reign, [240]
  • To knit the whole in well-accorded strife:
  • Servants, not slaves;618 of choice, and not compell’d;
  • The Blacks should cultivate the Cane-land isles.

  • SAY, shall the muse the various ills recount,619
  • Which Negroe-nations feel? Shall she describe [245]
  • The worm that subtly winds into their flesh,620
  • All as they bathe them in their native streams?
  • There, with fell increment, it soon attains
  • A direful length of harm. Yet, if due skill,
  • And proper circumspection are employed, [250]
  • It may be won its volumes to wind round
  • A leaden cylinder: But, O, beware,
  • No rashness practise; else ‘twill surely snap,
  • And suddenly, retreating, dire produce
  • An annual lameness to the tortured Moor.621 [255]


  • NOR only is the dragon worm622 to dread:
  • Fell, winged insects,623 which the visual ray
  • Scarcely discerns, their sable624 feet and hands
  • Oft penetrate; and, in the fleshy nest,
  • Myriads of young produce; which soon destroy [260]
  • The parts they breed in; if assiduous care,
  • With art, extract not the prolific foe.

  • OR, shall she sing, and not debase her lay,
  • The pest peculiar to the Aethiop-kind,
  • The yaw’s625 infectious bane?—The infected far [265]
  • In huts, to leeward, lodge; or near the main.
  • With heartning food, with turtle, and which conchs;
  • The flowers of sulphur, and hard niccars burnt,626

VER. 257. winged insects] These, by the English, are called Chigoes or Chigres. They chiefly perforate the toes, and sometimes the fingers; occasioning an itching, which some people think not unpleasing, and are at pains to get, by going to the copper-holes, or mill-round, where chigres most abound. They lay their nits in a bag, about the size of a small pea, and are partly contained therein themselves. This the Negroes extract without bursting, by means of a needle, and filling up the place with a little snuff; it soon heals, if the person has a good constitution. One species of them is supposed to be poisonous; but, I believe, unjustly. When they bury themselves near a tendon, especially if the person is in a bad habit of body, they occasion troublesome sores. The South-Americans call them Miguas.

VER. 268. niccars] The botanical name of this medicinal shrub is Guilandina. The fruit resembles marbles, though not so round. Their shell is hard and smooth, and contains a farinaceous627 nut, of admirable use in seminal weaknesses. They are also given to throw out the yaws.


  • The lurking evil from the blood expel,
  • And throw it on the surface: There in spots [270]
  • Which cause no pain, and scant ichor628 yield,
  • It chiefly breaks about the arms and hips,
  • A virulent contagion!—When no more
  • Round knobby spots deform, but the disease
  • Seems at a pause: Then let the learned leach [275]
  • Give, in due dose, live-silver629 from the mine;
  • Till copious spitting the whole taint exhaust.—
  • Nor thou repine, tho’ half-way round the sun,
  • This globe, her annual progress shall absolve;
  • Ere, clear’d, thy slave from all infection shine. [280]
  • Nor then be confident; successive crops
  • Of defaedations630 oft will spot the skin:
  • These thou, with turpentine and guaiac pods,
  • Reduc’d by coction to a wholesome draught,
  • Total remove, and give the blood its balm. [285]

  • SAY, as this malady but once infests
  • The sons of Guinea, might not skill ingraft
  • (Thus, the small-pox are happily convey’d;)
  • This ailment early to thy Negroe-train?631


  • YET, of the ills which torture Libya’s sons, [290]
  • Worms tyrannize the worst. They, Proteus-like,632
  • Each symptom of each malady assume;
  • And, under every mask, the assassins kill.
  • Now in the guise of horrid spasms, they writhe
  • The tortured body, and all sense o’er-power. [295]
  • Sometimes, like Mania,633 with her head downcast,
  • They cause the wretch in solitude to pine;
  • Or frantic, bursting from the strongest chains,
  • To frown with look terrific, not his own.
  • Sometimes like Ague,634 with a shivering mien, [300]
  • The teeth gnash fearful, and the blood runs chill:
  • Anon the ferment maddens in the veins,
  • And a false vigour animates the frame.
  • Again, the dropsy’s bloated mask they steal;
  • Or, “melt with minings of the hectic fire.”635 [305]

  • SAY, to such various mimic forms of death;
  • What remedies shall puzzled art oppose?—
  • Thanks to the Almighty, in each path-way hedge,
  • Rank cow-itch grows, whose sharp unnumber’d stings,
  • Sheath’d in Melasses, from their dens expell, [310]
  • Fell dens of death, the reptile lurking foe.—

VER. 309. Cow-itch] See notes in Book II.


  • A powerful vermifuge, in skilful hands,
  • The worm-grass636 proves; yet, even in hands of skill,
  • Sudden, I’ve known it dim the visual ray
  • For a whole day and night. There are who use [315]
  • (And sage Experience justifies the use)
  • The mineral product of the Cornish mine;637
  • Which in old times, ere Britain laws enjoyed,
  • The polish’d Tyrians,638 monarchs of the main,
  • In their swift ships convey’d to foreign realms: [320]
  • The sun by day, by night the northern star,
  • Their course conducted.—Mighty commerce, hail!
  • By thee the sons of Attic’s sterile land,639
  • A scanty number, laws impos’d on Greece:
  • Nor aw’d they Greece alone; vast Asia’s King, [325]
  • Tho’ girt by rich arm’d myriads, at their frown

VER. 317. The mineral product of the Cornish mine] Tin-filings are a better vermifuge than tin in powder. The western parts of Britain, and the neighbouring isles, have been famous for this useful metal from the remotest antiquity; for we find from Strabo,640 that the Phaenicians made frequent voyages to those parts (which they called Cassiterides from Κασσι τερον641 stannum) in quest of that commodity, which turned out so beneficial to them, that a pilot of that nation stranded his vessel, rather than show a Roman ship, that watched him, the way to those mines. For this public spirited action he was amply rewarded, says that accurate writer, upon his return to his country. The Romans, however, soon made themselves masters of the secret, and shared with them in the profit of that merchandize.


  • Felt his heart wither on his farthest throne.
  • Perennial source of population thou!
  • While scanty peasants plough the flowery plains
  • Of purple Enna;642 from the Belgian fens,643 [330]
  • What swarms of useful citizens spring up,
  • Hatch’d by thy fostering wing. Ah where is flown
  • That dauntless free-born spirit, which of old,
  • Taught them to shake off the tyrannic yoke
  • Of Spains insulting King;644 on whose wide realms, [335]
  • The sun still shone with undiminished beam?
  • Parent of wealth! in vain, coy nature hoards
  • Her gold and diamonds; toil, thy firm compeer,
  • And industry of unremitting nerve,
  • Scale the cleft mountain, the loud torrent brave, [340]
  • Plunge to the center, and thro’ Nature’s wiles,
  • (Led on by skill of penetrative soul)
  • Her following close, her secret treasures find,
  • To pour them plenteous on the laughing world.
  • On thee Sylvanus,645 thee each rural god, [345]
  • On thee chief Ceres, with unfailing love
  • And fond distinction, emulously gaze.
  • In vain hath nature pour’d vast seas between
  • Far-distant kingdoms; endless storms in vain


  • With double night brood o’er them; thou dost throw, [350]
  • O’er far-divided nature’s realms, a chain
  • To bind in sweet society mankind.
  • By thee white Albion, once a barbarous clime,
  • Grew fam’d for arms, for wisdom, and for laws;
  • By thee she holds the balance of the world, [355]
  • Acknowledg’d now sole empress of the main.
  • Coy though thou art, and mutable of love,
  • There may’st thou ever fix thy wandering steps;
  • While Eurus rules the wide atlantic foam!
  • By thee, thy favourite, great Columbus found [360]
  • That world, where now thy praises I rehearse
  • To the resounding main and palmy shore;
  • And Lusitania’s chiefs those realms explor’d,
  • Whence negroes spring, the subject of my song.

  • NOR pine the Blacks, alone, with real ills, [365]
  • That baffle oft the wisest rules of art:
  • They likewise feel imaginary woes;646
  • Woes no less deadly. Luckless he who owns
  • The slave, who thinks himself bewitch’d; and whom,
  • In wrath, a conjurer’s snake-mark’d staff647 hath struck! [370]

VER. 370. snake-mark’d] The negroe-conjurers, or Obia-men, as they are called, carry about them a staff, which is marked with frogs, snakes, &c. The


  • They mope, love silence, every friend avoid;
  • They inly pine; all aliment reject;
  • Or insufficient for nutrition take:
  • Their features droop; a sickly yellowish hue
  • Their skin deforms; their strength and beauty fly. [375]
  • Then comes the feverish fiend, with firy eyes,
  • Whom drowth,648 convulsions, and whom death surround,
  • Fatal attendants! if some subtle slave
  • (Such, Obia-men are stil’d) do not engage,
  • To save the wretch by antidote or spell. [380]

  • IN magic spells, in Obia, all the sons
  • Of sable Africk trust:—Ye, sacred nine!
  • (For ye each hidden preparation know)
  • Transpierce the gloom, which ignorance and fraud
  • Have render’d awful; tell the laughing world [385]
  • Of what these wonder-working charms are made.

blacks imagine that its blow, if not mortal, will at least occasion long and troublesome disorders. A belief in magic is inseparable from human nature, but those nations are most addicted thereto, among whom learning, and of course, philosophy have least obtained. As in all other countries, so in Guinea, the conjurers, as they have more understanding, so are they almost always more wicked than the common herd of their deluded countrymen; and as the negroe-magicians can do mischief, so they can also do good on a plantation, provided they are kept by the white people in proper subordination.


  • FERN root cut small, and tied with many a knot;
  • Old teeth extracted from a white man’s skull;
  • A lizard’s skeleton; a serpent’s head:
  • These mix’d with salt, and water from the spring, [390]
  • Are in a phial pour’d;649 o’er these the leach
  • Mutters strange jargon, and wild circles forms.

  • OF this possest, each negroe deems himself
  • Secure from poison; for to poison they
  • Are infamously prone: and arm’d with this, [395]
  • Their sable country daemons they defy,
  • Who fearful haunt them at the midnight hour,
  • To work them mischief. This, diseases fly;
  • Diseases follow: such its wonderous power!
  • This o’er the threshold of their cottage hung, [400]
  • No thieves break in; or, if they dare to steal,
  • Their feet in blotches, which admit no cure,
  • Burst loathsome out: but should its owner filch,
  • As slaves were ever of the pilfering kind,
  • This from detection screens;—so conjurers swear. [405]

  • ‘TILL morning dawn, and Lucifer650 withdraw
  • His beamy chariot; let not the loud bell


  • Call forth thy negroes from their rushy couch:651
  • And ere the sun with mid-day fervour glow,
  • When every broom-bush652 opes her yellow flower; [410]
  • Let thy black labourers from their toil desist:
  • Nor till the broom her every petal lock,
  • Let the loud bell recall them to the hoe.
  • But when the jalap653 her bright tint displays,
  • When the solanum654 fills her cup with dew, [415]
  • And crickets, snakes, and lizards 'gin their coil;
  • Let them find shelter in their cane-thatch’d huts:
  • Or, if constrain’d unusual hours to toil,
  • (For even the best must sometimes urge their gang)
  • With double nutriment reward their pains. [420]

VER. 410. broom-bush] This small plant, which grows in every pasture, may, with propriety, be termed an American clock; for it begins every forenoon at eleven to open its yellow flowers, which about one are fully expanded, and at two closed. The jalap, or marvel of Peru, unfolds its petals between five and six in the evening, which shut again as soon as night comes on, to open again in the cool of the morning. This plant is called four o’clock by the natives, and bears either a yellow or purple-coloured flower.

VER. 415. solanum] So some authors name the fire-weed, which grows every where, and is the datura of Linnaeus;655 whose virtues Dr. Stork, at Vienna,656 has greatly extolled in a late publication. It bears a white monopetalous flower, which opens always about sun-set.


  • HOWE’ER insensate some may deem their slaves,
  • Nor ‘bove the bestial rank; far other thoughts
  • The muse, soft daughter of humanity!
  • Will ever entertain.—The Ethiop knows,
  • The Ethiop feels, when treated like a man; [425]
  • Nor grudges, should necessity compell,
  • By day, by night, to labour for his lord.

  • NOT less inhuman, than unthrifty those;
  • Who, half the year’s rotation round the sun,
  • Deny subsistence to their labouring slaves.657 [430]
  • But would’st thou see thy negroe-train encrease,
  • Free from disorders; and thine acres clad
  • With groves of sugar: every week dispense
  • Or English beans, or Carolinian rice;658
  • Iërne’s beef, or Pensilvanian flour;659 [435]
  • Newfoundland cod,660 or herrings from the main
  • That howls tempestuous round the Scotian isles!

  • YET some there are so lazily inclin’d,
  • And so neglectful of their food, that thou,
  • Would’st thou preserve them from the jaws of death; [440]
  • Daily, their wholesome viands must prepare:
  • With these let all the young, and childless old,


  • And all the morbid share;—so heaven will bless,
  • With manifold encrease, thy costly care.

  • SUFFICE not this; to every slave assign [445]
  • Some mountain-ground: or, if waste broken land
  • To thee belong, that broken land divide.
  • This let them cultivate, one day, each week;
  • And there raise yams, and there cassada’s root:
  • From a good daemon’s staff cassada sprang, [450]
  • Tradition says, and Caribbees believe;
  • Which into three the white-rob’d genius broke,
  • And bade them plant, their hunger to repel.
  • There let angola’s bloomy bush661 supply
  • For many a year, with wholesome pulse their board. [455]
  • There let the bonavist,662 his fringed pods

VER. 449. cassada] To an antient Carribean, bemoaning the savage uncomfortable life of his countrymen, a deity clad in white apparel appeared, and told him, he would have come sooner to have taught him the ways of civil life, had he been addressed before. He then showed him sharp-cutting stones to fell trees and build houses; and bade him cover them with the palm leaves. Then he broke his staff in three; which, being planted, soon after produced cassada. See Ogilvy’s America.663

VER. 454. angola] This is called Pidgeon-pea, and grows on a sturdy shrub, that will last for years. It is justly reckoned among the most wholesome legumens. The juice of the leaves, dropt into the eye, will remove incipient films. The botanic name is Cytisus.

VER. 456. bonavist] This is the Spanish name of a plant, which produces an excellent bean. It is a parasitical plant. There are five sorts of bonavist, the green, the white, the


  • Throw liberal o’er the prop; while ochra664 bears
  • Aloft his slimy pulp, and help disdains.
  • There let potatos mantle o’er the ground;
  • Sweet as the cane-juice is the root they bear.665 [460]
  • There too let eddas666 spring in order meet,
  • With Indian cale, and foodful calaloo:667
  • While mint, thyme, balm,668 and Europe’s coyer herbs,
  • Shoot gladsome forth, nor reprobate the clime.

moon-shine, the small or common; and, lastly, the black and red. The flowers of all are white and papilionaceous;669 except the last, whose blossoms are purple. They commonly bear in six weeks. Their pulse is wholesome, though somewhat flatulent; especially those from the black and red. The pods are flattish, two or three inches long; and contain from three to five seeds in partitional cells.

VER. 457. Ochra] Or Ockro. This shrub, which will last for years, produces a not less agreeable, than wholesome pod. It bears all the year round. Being of a slimy and balsamic nature, it becomes a truly medicinal aliment in dysenteric complaints. It is of the Malva species. It rises to about four or five feet high, bearing, on and near the summit, many yellow flowers; succeeded by green, conic, fleshy pods, channelled into several grooves. There are as many cells filled with small round seeds, as there are channels.

VER. 459. potatos] I cannot positively say, whether these vines are of Indian original or not; but as in their fructification, they differ from potatos at home, they probably are not European. They are sweet. There are four kinds, the red, the white, the long, and round: The juice of each may be made into a pleasant cool drink; and, being distilled, yield an excellent spirit.670

VER. 461. eddas] See notes on Book I. The French call this plant Tayove. It produces eatable roots every four months, for one year only.

VER. 462. Indian cale] This green, which is a native of the New World, equals any of the greens in the Old.

VER. 462. calaloo] Another species of Indian pot-herb, no less wholesome than the preceding. These, with mezamby,671 and the Jamaica prickle-weed,672 yield to no esculent673 plants in Europe. This is an Indian name.


  • THIS tract secure, with hedges or of limes, [465]
  • Or bushy citrons, or the shapely tree
  • That glows at once with aromatic blooms,
  • And golden fruit mature. To these be join’d,
  • In comely neighbourhood, the cotton shrub;
  • In this delicious clime the cotton bursts [470]
  • On rocky soils.—The coffee also plant;
  • White as the skin of Albion’s lovely fair,
  • Are the thick snowy fragrant blooms it boasts:
  • Nor wilt thou, cocô,674 thy rich pods refuse;675
  • Tho’ years, and heat, and moisture they require,676 [475]
  • Ere the stone grind them to the food of health.677
  • Of thee, perhaps, and of thy various sorts,
  • And that kind sheltering tree, thy mother nam’d,678
  • With crimson flowerets prodigally grac’d;
  • In future times, the enraptur’d muse may sing: [480]
  • If public favour crown her present lay.

  • BUT let some antient, faithful slave erect
  • His sheltered mansion near; and with his dog,
  • His loaded gun, and cutlass, guard the whole:
  • Else negro-fugitives,679 who skulk ‘mid rocks [485]

VER. 466. the shapely tree] The orange tree.

VER. 478. thy mother nam’d] See Book I p. 43.


  • And shrubby wilds, in bands will soon destroy
  • Thy labourer’s honest wealth; their loss and yours.

  • Perhaps, of Indian gardens680 I could sing,
  • Beyond what bloom’d on blest Phaeacia’s isle,681
  • Or eastern climes admir’d in days of yore: [490]
  • How Europe’s foodful, culinary plants;
  • How gay Pomona’s ruby-tinctured births;
  • And gawdy Flora’s682 various-vested train;
  • Might be instructed to unlearn their clime,
  • And by due discipline adopt the sun. [495]
  • The muse might tell what culture will entice
  • The ripened melon, to perfume each month;
  • And with the anana load the fragrant board.
  • The muse might tell, what trees will best exclude
  • (“Insuperable height of airiest shade”)683 [500]
  • With their vast umbrage684 the noon’s fervent ray.
  • Thee, verdant mammey,685 first, her song should praise:

VER. 502. mammey] This is a lofty, shady, and beautiful tree. Its fruit is as large as the largest melon, and of an exquisite smell, greatly superior to it in point of taste. Within the fruit are contained one or two large stones, which when distilled, give to spirits a ratafia flavour,686 and therefore the French call them Les apricots de St. Domingue:687 accordingly, the l’eau des noiaux, one of the best West-Indian cordials, is made from them.688 The fruit, eaten raw, is of an aperient689 quality; and made into sweet-meats,


  • Thee, the first natives of these Ocean-isles,
  • Fell anthropophagi,690 still sacred held;
  • And from thy large high-flavour’d fruit abstain’d, [505]
  • With pious awe; for thine high-flavoured fruit,
  • The airy phantoms of their friends deceas’d
  • Joy’d to regale on.——Such their simple creed.
  • The tamarind likewise should adorn her theme,
  • With whose tart fruit the sweltering fever loves [510]
  • To quench his thirst, whose breezy umbrage soon
  • Shades the pleas’d planter, shades his children long.
  • Nor, lofty cassia, should she not recount
  • Thy woodland honours! See, what yellow flowers
  • Dance in the gale, and scent the ambient air; [515]
  • While thy long pods, full-fraught with nectared sweets,
  • Relieve the bowels from their lagging load.
  • Nor chirimoia,691 though these torrid isles
  • Boast not thy fruit, to which the anana yields
  • In taste and flavour, wilt thou coy refuse [520]

&c. is truly exquisite. This tree, contrary to most others in the New World, shoots up to a pyramidal figure: the leaves are uncommonly green; and it produces fruit, but once a year. The name is Indian. The English commonly call it Mammey-sapota. There are two species of it, the sweet, and the tart.692 The botanical name is Achras.

VER. 509. tamarind] See Book I. p. 44.

VER. 513. cassia,] Both this tree and its mild purgative pulp are sufficiently known.


  • Thy fragrant shade to beautify the scene.
  • But, chief of palms, and pride of Indian-groves,
  • Thee, fair palmeto,693 should her song resound:
  • What swelling columns, form’d by Jones or Wren,694
  • Or great Palladio,695 may with thee compare? [525]
  • Not nice-proportion’d, but of size immense,
  • Swells the wild fig-tree, and should claim her lay:
  • For, from its numerous bearded twigs proceed
  • A filial train, stupendous as their sire,
  • In quick succession; and, o’er many a rood,696 [530]
  • Extend their uncouth limbs; which not the bolt
  • Of heaven can scathe; nor yet the all-wasting rage

VER. 523. palmeto,] This being the most beautiful of palms, nay, perhaps, superior to any other known tree in the world, has with propriety obtained the name of Royal. The botanical name is Palma Maxima. It will shoot up perpendicularly to an hundred feet and more. The stem is perfectly circular; only towards the root, and immediately under the branches at top, it bulges out. The bark is smooth, and of an ash-brown colour, except at the top where it is green. It grows very fast, and the seed from whence it springs is not bigger than an acorn. In this, as in all the palm-genus, what the natives call Cabbage is found; but it resembles in taste an almond, and is in fact the pith of the upper, or greenish part of the stem. But it would be the most unpardonable luxury to cut down so lovely a tree, for so mean a gratification; especially as the wild, or mountain cabbage tree, sufficiently supplies the table with that esculent. I never ride past the charming vista of royal palms on the Cayon-estate of Daniel Mathew, Esq; in St. Christopher,697 without being put in mind of the pillars of the Temple of the Sun at Palmyra.698 This tree grows on the tops of hills, as well as in valleys; its hard cortical part makes very durable laths for houses.699 There is a smaller species not quite so beautiful.


  • Of Typhon, or of hurricane, destroy.
  • Nor should, tho’ small, the anata700 not be sung:
  • Thy purple dye, the silk and cotton fleece [535]
  • Delighted drink; thy purple dye the tribes
  • Of Northern-Ind, a fierce and wily race,
  • Carouse, assembled; and with it they paint
  • Their manly make in many a horrid form,
  • To add new terrors to the face of war. [540]
  • The muse might teach to twine the verdant arch,
  • And the cool alcove’s lofty roof adorn,
  • With ponderous granadillas,701 and the fruit

VER. 534. anata,] Or Anotto, or Arnotta; thence corruptly called Indian Otter, by the English. The tree is about the size of an ordinary apple-tree. The French call it Rocou; and send the farina home as a paint, &c. for which purpose the tree is cultivated by them in their islands. The flower is pentapetalous, of a bluish and spoon-like appearance. The yellow filaments are tipped with purplish apices.702 The style proves the rudiment of the succeeding pod, which is of a conic shape, an inch and a half long. This is divided into many cells, which contain a great number of small seeds, covered with a red farina.

VER. 543. granadilla] This is the Spanish name, and is a species of the passiflora, or passion-flower, called by Linnaeus Musa. The seeds and pulp, through which the seeds are dispersed, are cooling, and grateful to the palate. This, as well as the water-lemon, bell-apple, or honeysuckle, as it is named,703 being parasitical plants, are easily formed into cooling arbors, than which nothing can be more grateful in warm climates. Both fruits are wholesome. The granadilla is commonly eat with sugar, on account of its tartness, and yet the pulp is viscid.704 Plumier calls it Granadilla, latefolia, fructu maliformi. It grows best in shady places. The unripe fruit makes an excellent pickle.


  • Call’d water-lemon; grateful to the taste:
  • Nor should she not pursue the mountain-streams, [545]
  • But pleas’d decoy them from their shady haunts,
  • In rills, to visit every tree and herb;
  • Or fall o’er fern-clad cliffs, with foaming rage;
  • Or in huge basons705 float, a fair expanse;
  • Or, bound in chains of artificial force, [550]
  • Arise thro’ sculptured stone, or breathing brass.——
  • But I’m in haste to furl my wind-worn sails,
  • And anchor my tir’d vessel on the shore.

  • IT much imports to build thy Negroe-huts,
  • Or on the sounding margin of the main, [555]
  • Or on some dry hill’s gently-sloping sides,
  • In streets, at distance due.——When near the beach,
  • Let frequent coco cast its wavy shade;
  • 'Tis Neptune’s tree; and, nourish’d by the spray,
  • Soon round the bending stem’s aerial height, [560]
  • Clusters of mighty nuts, with milk and fruit
  • Delicious fraught, hang clattering in the sky.
  • There let the bay-grape,706 too, its crooked limbs

VER. 563. bay-grape] Or sea side grape, as it is more commonly called. This is a large, crooked, and shady tree, (the leaves being broad, thick, and almost


  • Project enormous; of impurpled hue
  • Its frequent clusters glow. And there, if thou [565]
  • Would’st make the sand yield salutary food,
  • Let Indian millet707 rear its corny reed,
  • Like arm’d battalions in array of war.
  • But, round the upland huts, bananas plant;
  • A wholesome nutriment bananas yield, [570]
  • And sun-burnt labour loves its breezy shade.
  • Their graceful screen let kindred plantanes join,
  • And with their broad vans shiver in the breeze;
  • So flames design’d, or by imprudence caught,
  • Shall spread no ruin to the neighbouring roof. [575]

  • YET nor the sounding margin of the main,

circular;) and succeeds best in sandy places. It bears large clusters of grapes once a year; which, when ripe, are not disagreeable. The stones, seeds, or acini, contained in them, are large in proportion; and, being reduced to a powder, are an excellent astringent. The bark of the tree has the same property. The grapes, steept in water and fermented with sugar, make an agreeable wine.

VER. 567. Indian millet] Or maise. This is commonly called Guinea-corn, to distinguish it from the great or Indian-corn, that grows in the southern parts of North-America.708 It soon shoots up to a great height, often twenty feet high, and will ratoon like the other; but its blades are not so nourishing to horses as those of the great corn, although its seeds are more so, and rather more agreeable to the taste. The Indians, Negroes, and poor white people, make many (not unsavoury) dishes with them. It is also called Turkey wheat. The turpentine tree709 will also grow in the sand, and is most useful upon a plantation.


  • Nor gently sloping side of breezy hill,
  • Nor streets, at distance due, imbower’d in trees;
  • Will half the health, or half the pleasure yield,
  • Unless some pitying naiad deign to lave, [580]
  • With an unceasing stream, thy thirsty bounds.

  • ON festal days; or when their work is done;
  • Permit thy slaves to lead the choral dance,
  • To the wild banshaw’s melancholy sound.710
  • Responsive to the sound, head feet and frame [585]
  • Move aukwardly harmonious; hand in hand
  • Now lock’d, the gay troop circularly wheels,
  • And frisks and capers with intemperate joy.
  • Halts the vast circle, all clap hands and sing;
  • While those distinguish’d for their heels and air, [590]
  • Bound in the center, and fantastic twine.
  • Meanwhile some stripling, from the choral ring,
  • Trips forth; and, not ungallantly, bestows
  • On her who nimblest hath the greensward711 beat,
  • And whose flush’d beauties have inthrall’d his soul, [595]
  • A silver token of his fond applause.

VER. 584. banshaw] This is a sort of rude guitar, invented by the Negroes. It produces a wild pleasing melancholy sound.


  • Anon they form in ranks; nor inexpert
  • A thousand tuneful intricacies weave,
  • Shaking their sable limbs; and oft a kiss
  • Steal from their partners; who, with neck reclin’d, [600]
  • And semblant scorn, resent the ravish’d bliss.
  • But let not thou the drum their mirth inspire;
  • Nor vinous spirits: else, to madness fir’d,
  • (What will not bacchanalian frenzy dare?)
  • Fell acts of blood, and vengeance they pursue. [605]

  • COMPEL by threats, or win by soothing arts,
  • Thy slaves to wed their fellow slaves at home;
  • So shall they not their vigorous prime destroy,
  • By distant journeys, at untimely hours,
  • When muffled midnight decks her raven-hair [610]
  • With the white plumage of the prickly vine.712

  • WOULD’ST thou from countless ails preserve thy gang;

VER. 611. prickly vine] This beautiful white rosaceous flower is as large as the crown of one’s hat, and only blows713 at midnight. The plant, which is prickly and attaches itself firmly to the sides of houses, trees, &c. produces a fruit, which some call Wythe Apple, and others with more propriety, Mountain strawberry. But though it resembles the large Chili-strawberry714 in looks and size; yet being inelegant of taste, it is seldom eaten. The botanical name is Cereus scandens minor. The rind of the fruit is here and there studded with tufts of small sharp prickles.


  • To every Negroe, as the candle-weed715
  • Expands his blossoms to the cloudy sky,
  • And moist Aquarius716 melts in daily showers; [615]
  • A wooly vestment give, (this Wiltshire weaves)717
  • Warm to repel chill Night’s unwholesome dews:
  • While strong coarse linen, from the Scotian loom,
  • Wards off the fervours of the burning day.

  • THE truly great, tho’ from a hostile clime, [620]
  • The sacred Nine embalm; then, Muses, chant,
  • In grateful numbers, Gallic Lewis’718 praise:
  • For private murder quell’d; for laurel’d arts,
  • Invented, cherish’d in his native realm;
  • For rapine719 punish’d; for grim famine fed; [625]
  • For sly chicane720 expell’d the wrangling bar;
  • And rightful Themis721 seated on her throne:
  • But, chief, for those mild laws his wisdom fram’d,
  • To guard the AEthiop from tyrannic sway!722

  • DID such, in these green isles which Albion claims, [630]
  • Did such obtain; the muse, at midnight-hour,

VER. 613. candle-weed] This shrub, which produces a yellow flower somewhat resembling a narcissus,723 makes a beautiful hedge, and blows about November. It grows wild every where. It is said to be diuretic,724 but this I do not know from experience.


  • This last brain-racking study had not ply’d:
  • But, sunk in slumbers of immortal bliss,
  • To bards had listned on a fancied Thames!

  • ALL hail, old father Thames! tho’ not from far [635]
  • Thy springing waters roll; nor countless streams,
  • Of name conspicuous, swell thy watery store;725
  • Tho’ thou, no Plata,726 to the sea devolve
  • Vast humid offerings; thou art king of streams:
  • Delighted Commerce broods upon thy wave;727 [640]
  • And every quarter of this sea-girt globe
  • To thee due tribute pays; but chief the world
  • By great Columbus found, where now the muse
  • Beholds, transported, slow vast fleecy clouds,
  • Alps pil’d on Alps romantically high, [645]
  • Which charm the sight with many a pleasing form.
  • The moon, in virgin-glory, gilds the pole,
  • And tips yon tamarinds, tips yon Cane-crown’d vale,
  • With fluent silver; while unnumbered stars
  • Gild the vast concave with their lively beams. [650]
  • The main, a moving burnish’d mirror, shines;
  • No noise is heard, save when the distant surge
  • With drouzy murmurings breaks upon the shore!—

VER. 638. no Plata,] One of the largest rivers of South America.


  • AH me, what thunders roll! the sky’s on fire!
  • Now sudden darkness muffles up the pole!
  • Heavens! what wild scenes, before the affrighted sense,
  • Imperfect swim!—See! in that flaming scroll, [655]
  • Which Time unfolds, the future germs bud forth,
  • Of mighty empires! independent realms!——
  • And must Britannia, Neptune’s favourite queen,728
  • Protect’ress of true science, freedom, arts;
  • Must she, ah! must she, to her offspring crouch? [660]
  • Ah, must my Thames, old Ocean’s favourite son,
  • Resign his trident to barbaric streams;
  • His banks neglected, and his waves unsought,
  • No bards to sing them, and no fleets to grace?——
  • Again the fleecy clouds amuse the eye, [665]
  • And sparkling stars the vast horizon gild—
  • She shall not crouch; if Wisdom guide the helm,
  • Wisdom that bade loud Fame, with justest praise,
  • Record her triumphs! bade the lacquaying winds729
  • Transport, to every quarter of the globe, [670]
  • Her winged navies! bade the scepter’d sons
  • Of earth acknowledge her pre-eminence!—
  • She shall not crouch; if these Cane ocean-isles,
  • Isles which on Britain for their all depend,


  • And must for ever; still indulgent share [675]
  • Her fostering smile: and other isles be given,
  • From vanquish’d foes.—And, see, another race!
  • A golden aera dazzles my fond sight!
  • That other race, that long’d-for aera, hail!





ACajou, a tree, p. 8, 131.
Acassee, p. 36.
Africk, p. 125.
Anguilla, p. 120.
Antigua, praise of, p. 98.
Anatto, p. 152.
Anana, p. 31.
Alligator, p. 57.
Ausonia, p. 79.
Atlantic ocean, p. 100.
Avaro, a character, p. 112.
Avocato pear-tree, p. 8.
Avon, p. 107.
Arrow, what, p. 17.
Annan, p. 95.
Aurelius, p. 4.
Arsenic, p. 58.
Amyntor, p. 25.
Albion, p. 143.
Attic land, p. 141.
Asia’s king, p. 141.
Ants, p. 66.
Antillé isles, p. 16.
Angola pea, p. 148.
Apple, blest, p. 61.


BArbadoes-island, praise of, p. 15.
Barbuda-island, p. 120.
Bonavist, p. 148.
Bermudas, islands of, p. 109.
Blight, or blast, p. 65.
Burr, what, p. 71.
Bird, tropic, p. 82.
Boneta-fish, p. 81.
Bristol, p. 107.
Broom-bush, p. 146.
Banana, a tree, p. 156.
Barbecue, p. 113.
Biscay, bay of, p. 80.
Belgium, p. 79.
Banshaw, Negro-instrument of musick, p. 157.
Banian-tree, p. 14.
Bay-grape tree, p. 155.


CEdar-tree, p. 6.
Cassia-tree, p. 7.
Ceiba, large tree, p. 7.
Cassada-shrub, p. 41.
Cotton-shrub, p. 42.
Cacao-tree, p. 42.


Coffee-shrub, p. 43.
Carnation, Spanish-shrub, p. 36.
Chickweed, p. 61.
Crabs, land, p. 27.
Cockroach, insect, p. 26.
Cathäy, p. 68.
Cormantee Negroes, p. 129.
Chigres, small insect, p. 138.
Chirimoya, fruit, p. 152.
Congo Negroes, p. 127.
Congaw Negroes, p. 130.
Crickets, p. 146.
Cherry, p. 131.
Calm, effects of a, p. 73.
Cowitch, p. 60.
Cochinille, p. 64.
Coco-nut tree, p. 77.
China-shrub, p. 88.
Calpe, p. 114.
Cambria, p. 120.
Cooler, what, p. 108.
Cane, p. 3.
Cane, dumb, p. 106.
Calaloo, p. 149.
Charente, a river, p. 80.
Calaba, large tree, p. 99.
Condor, a large bird, p. 46.
Coco-shrub, p. 42.
Cassiterides, p. 141.
Conch, p. 133.
Columbus, praise of, p. 12.
Cale, Indian, p. 149.


DYer, praise of, p. 3.
Dolphin, p. 81.
Drave, river, p. 134.
Dorchestria, p. 20.
Dove, mountain, p. 60.
Dioscoria, a vine, p. 20.
Death, yellow, p. 40.


EDda, an esculent root, p. 41.
Ebbo Negroes, p. 57.
Eagle, white, p. 131.
Eton, p. 76.
Enna, p. 142.


FRuit, forbidden, p. 8.
Fire-fly, p. 46.
Fly, yellow, p. 63.
Fly, sand, p. 25.
Fig, Indian, large tree, p. 14.
Fig, bearded, p. 14.
Fishes, winged, p. 81.
Fern-tree, p. 29.


GUava-tree, p. 7.
Guaiac-tree, p. 7.


Guayaquil river, p. 57.
Gold-coast Negroes, p. 128.
Guinea-worm, p. 137.
Gallinazo, a bird, p. 57.
Granadilla, a vine, p. 154.
Grape, sea-side tree, p. 155.
Greece, p. 79.
Ginger-root, p. 42.
Grampian hills, p. 36.
Guilandina, shrub, p. 138.


HUmming-bird, p. 37.
Hurricane described, p. 69.
Hesperia, p. 79.
Hiccory, large tree, p. 99.
Helen, p. 97.
Hura, a tree, p. 115.


IBbo Negroes, p. 57.
Jumbee beeds, p. 38.
Jamaica, praise of, p. 12.
Iërne, p. 147.
Jamaica plumb-tree, p. 66.
Jalap, p. 146.
Indus river, p. 136.
Jew-fish, p. 119.
Junio, tale of, p. 76.
Isis, p. 76.
Indian-fig, shrub, p. 64.
Johnson, Mr. S. praise of, p. 114.


Karukera island, p. 102.


LEnnox, Mrs. praise of, p. 114.
Locust, large tree, p. 6.
Logwood-tree, p. 35.
Lizard, p. 26.
Labat, Pere, p. 96.
Lemon-tree, p. 31.
Lime-tree, p. 31.
Lime-marble, p. 107.
Liamuiga island, p. 18.
Liquorice, wild, a vine, p. 38.
Leprosy, p. 132.
Lybia, p. 126.
Lusitania, p. 143.
Lincoln, p. 94.


MAro, praise of, p. 3.
Mountserrat island, praise of, p. 15.
Madre de Cacao, a tree, p. 43.
Monkey, p. 55.
Mosquito, p. 25.
Mundingo Negroes, p. 130.
Minnah Negroes, p. 130.
Moco Negroes, p. 130.
Muscovado, what, p. 6.
Melon, p. 151.
Montano, a character, p. 40.


Melasses, p. 111.
Mangrove-tree, p. 57.
Markley-hill, p. 18.
Mill-points, what, p. 70.
Mammey-tree, p. 151.
Magosse, what, p. 91.
Matanina island, p. 102.
Maize, p. 156.
Marne-river, p. 114.
Millet, Indian, p. 156.
Myrtle, p. 39.
Migua, p. 138.
Mastic, a large tree, p. 99.
Melvil, General, praise of, p. 126.
Mungoes, p. 59.


NEwfoundland, p. 147.
Nevis island, praise of, p. 15.
Nightshade, p. 59.
Nautilus, p. 81.
Niger-river, p. 125.
Niccars, a shrub, p. 138.


OBia, Negro-magic, p. 144.
Obia-men, p. 144.
Orange-tree, p. 31.
Ochra-shrub, p. 149.
Rhine-river, p. 120.
Opuntia-shrub, p. 64.


PApaw Negroes, p. 130.
Palaemon, p. 91.
Papaw-tree, p. 125.
Papaya-tree, p. 125.
Philips, praise of, p. 3.
Pine-apple, p. 31.
Panspan-tree, p. 116.
Plantane-tree, p. 31.
Palmeto, p. 72.
Potatos, p. 149.
Pensilvania, p. 147.
Porto Sancto island, p. 80.
Po, name of a ship, p. 80.
Polydamna, p. 97.
Passiflora, a vine, p. 154.
Prickly pear, shrub, p. 37.
Physic-nut, shrub, p. 35.
Percy, praise of, p. 78.
Privet shrub, p. 36.


Quanza river, p. 130.


RIcinus, p. 35.
Rats, p. 56.
Rey-river, p. 128.
Rocou, p. 152.
Rum, p. 113.
Rhubarb, p. 62.
Rio-grande river, p. 125.
Rhine river, p. 120.
Raleigh, Sir Walter, p. 100.
Romney, Lord, praise of, p. 102.


SAbbaca, a tree, p. 8.
Sugar, p. 3.


Soursop-tree, p. 42.
Solanum-plant, p. 146.
St. Christopher, island, praise of, p. 9.
Senega-river, p. 125.
Smart, praise of, p. 3.
Sommerville, praise of, p. 3.
Snakes, p. 57.
Season, what, p. 65.
Stocks, what, p. 70.
Solfaterre, what, p. 74.
Sapadilla-tree, p. 78.
Shark, p. 81.
Skimmings, sugar, use of, p. 113.
Scotia, p. 120.
Shaddock, p. 8.
Semprevive, a vegetable, p. 131.
Sabrina, a river, p. 108.
Shakespear, praise of, p. 107.
Shenstone, praise of, p. 54.
Sheen, p. 78.
Sensitive plant, p. 61.
Spain, p. 142.


TAnies, a root, p. 41.
Tamarind-tree, p. 44.
Thames, praise of, p. 115.
Temper, p. 18.
Turtle, p. 119.
Tops, gemmy, p. 22.
Tyrtaeus, p. 119.
Tille, a river, p. 114.
Tobago-island, p. 99.
Thone, p. 97.
Tobacco, p. 42.
Turpentine-tree, p. 139.
Thistle, yellow, p. 60.
Townshend, the Honourable General, praise of, p. 119.
Theana, tale of, p. 76.
Tull, praise of, p. 23.


VOlga-river, p. 63.
Volta-river, p. 128.
Vigornia, p. 114.
Vine, prickly, p. 158.
Venus of Medici, p. 79.
Virginia, p. 100.
Virgin-isles, p. 66.
Vervain-plant, p. 63.


WInd-trade, p. 67.
Worms, p. 60.
Worm-grass, p. 60.
Wolfe, General, praise of, p. 64.
Whitehead, praise of, p. 107.
Waller, praise of, p. 109.
White, praise of, p. 114.
Water-lemon, p. 155.


YAws, p. 138.
Yams, p. 20.


ZAire-river, p. 127.
Zumbadore-bird, p. 46.



Page 5, in note, for lesser read less.
Page 14, line 128, for elay read clay.
Page 19, line 2, dele comma after harvests.
Page 43, note on ver. 606, for eighty read one hundred and fifty.
Page 61, line 129, for eoily read coily.
Page 81, line 500, for sky read air.
Page 81, for lines 505 and 506, read

The fring’d urtica spreads her purple form
To catch the gale, and dances o’er the waves:

Ibid. in the notes, for nautilus read urtica.
Page 100, line 252, for thro’ read through.
Page 102, line 285, the same.
Page 110, line 425, for weighed read weigh’d.
Page 128, line 58, for art read want.
Page 132, in note, for rhinds read rinds.
Page 141, in note, for Κασσι τερον read ΚασσιΤερον.

  1. H. Bradley Martin (d. 1988) was a major book collector based in New York City and Charlottesville. His collection included more than 10,000 volumes, and he had particular interests in ornithology and American historical documents. At the time of his death, he had the only original printing of the Declaration of Independence known to be privately owned. ↩︎

  2. A passage from the Roman poet Manilius’ Astronomica. One translation reads, “[A]nd to be the first to stir with these new strains the nodding leaf-capped woods of Helicon, as I bring novel offerings untold by any before me: this is my aim” (Goold 5). Helicon is a mountain sacred to the Muses and hence a site associated with poetic inspiration. ↩︎

  3. Historically, the West Indies is the region that includes the northern coast of South America, Central America, Mexico, Florida, the Bahamas, and the Greater and Lesser Antilles. We use the term Caribbean throughout this site to refer to the islands from Grenada through Cuba. ↩︎

  4. Grainger explains that because the Caribbean landscapes, flora, and fauna are so different from those of Europe, the region can give rise to new forms of poetry. ↩︎

  5. Poetic inspiration. ↩︎

  6. One of the georgic’s principal aims was to teach the reader about agriculture and cultivation. Despite the fact that another of Grainger’s goals was to help planters maximize their profits from sugar, which they depended upon enslaved labor to grow, Grainger also makes an appeal for the disinterested nobility and goodness of his poetic work. ↩︎

  7. The island of St. Christopher was known as Liamuiga by the indigenous Caribs who lived there. Columbus claimed it on behalf of Spain in 1493, and it was partitioned between the French and the English in the early seventeenth century, at which time it was primarily a tobacco colony. While the two countries exchanged control of the island several times during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it was firmly under British control when Grainger left England in 1759 during the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). Grainger uses “St. Christopher,” “Liamuiga,” and “St. Kitts” interchangeably in the poem, but we have chosen to use “St. Kitts” on this site. St. Kitts has been part of the nation of St. Kitts and Nevis (also known as the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis) since it gained independence from Great Britain in 1983. ↩︎

  8. Agriculture, farming. ↩︎

  9. In the eighteenth century, improvement referred to the cultivation and development of lands for the purpose of making them more economically valuable. Increasingly, philosophers, government officials, and others also came to believe that there was a moral imperative for individuals to improve their land, since it could lead to increased crop and food production, which in turn would prevent famine and other social ills. Improvement was tied up with imperial agendas of dispossession as well, however: it was often argued that indigenous peoples did not improve their lands and therefore did not have an inherent legal right to ownership over them. ↩︎

  10. Grainger credits the authors who have influenced him the most on the subject of sugar cultivation. Jean Baptiste Labat (1663-1738) was a French missionary of the Dominican order who served as a priest and procurator in Martinique and Guadaloupe. He liberated the island of Martinique from British control in 1703. Later, he served as a professor of philosophy and mathematics in Nancy, France, and authored the Nouveau voyage aux isles de l’Amerique (1722). Samuel Martin (1694/5-1776) was an Antiguan-born British plantation owner and author of Essay upon Plantership, which was first published in Antigua around 1750 and then in several more editions before the end of the eighteenth century. The Essay contains Martin’s recommendations for plantation management and covers topics ranging from the planting and harvesting of cane to the regulation of enslaved labor. ↩︎

  11. Instructive. ↩︎

  12. Grainger also lists prior authors of classical and eighteenth-century georgic poems who have influenced him. Virgil or Publius Vergilius Maro (70-19 BCE) authored the Eclogues, the Aeneid, and the Georgics, which was a major influence on all neo-georgic poets of the eighteenth century. Hesiod (c. 700 BCE) was from the Greek village of Ascra in the Valley of the Muses on the eastern slope of Mt. Helicon. He was a contemporary of Homer and known for the Theogony and Works and Days, which is considered to have influenced Virgil’s Georgics. John Philips (1676-1709) was an English poet and author of the georgic poem Cyder (1708). John Dyer (1699-1757) was a Welsh painter and poet and author of the georgic poem The Fleece (1757), which Grainger reviewed in the Monthly Review (April 1757). ↩︎

  13. A passage from the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius’ De rerum natura or The Nature of Things. One translation reads, “You I follow, Glory of the Greeks, and place my feet/Within your very footsteps. Not because I would compete/With you, but for the sake of love, because I long to follow/And long to emulate you” (Stallings 73). ↩︎

  14. A term of Grainger’s invention. Building on his opening claim that the Caribbean would transform the face of poetry, Grainger simultaneously leans on a traditional mode (the georgic) and imagines a new form for it (West-India). It is worth considering what specifically about this poem makes it West Indian or Caribbean. ↩︎

  15. Grainger’s mention of indigenous remedies refers in part to the botanical knowledge possessed by indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, but it also refers to the local knowledge that African and European transplants to the Caribbean developed as they learned about the new environment. In particular, Grainger uses the poem to display his knowledge of husbandry, medicine, and natural history. We have tried in our notes to identify the origins of the plants named by Grainger. While some of these plants do originate from the Caribbean and the Americas, others come from Africa, Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world. In many cases, these foreign plants were brought to the Caribbean purposefully, as individuals sought to transform their new homes by importing crops and commodities that could help them survive and profit. ↩︎

  16. Born in Scotland, Grainger was trained as a physician in Edinburgh, but he had significant literary ambitions dating back at least to the mid-1750s, when he settled in London. The sentence that closes his preface has long fascinated critics because it suggests a certain ambivalence about the aims and the form of the poem. Certainly, Grainger was aware that the inclusion of local knowledge and the proliferation of footnotes were unusual, and he anticipated criticism of his choices. ↩︎

  17. Basseterre is the capital of St. Kitts. ↩︎

  18. Planting by the signs, also known as agricultural astrology, is a cultivation method that advises planting and harvesting crops based on moon phases and the astrological calendar. ↩︎

  19. The first four lines of the poem summarize the topics Grainger addresses in the four books of the poem. Book I introduces the reader to sugarcane and its cultivation; Book II concerns potential problems planters face in cultivating cane; Book III discusses the process of turning sugarcane into the final product of crystallized sugar; and Book IV deals with the management, treatment, and discipline of enslaved laborers. ↩︎

  20. Myrtle (Myrtus communis) is an aromatic shrub native to the Mediterranean region and associated with Venus, the goddess of love. Rather than a traditional invocation of the muse, The Sugar-Cane begins with a muse who has been wandering and in love. Indeed, Grainger married Daniel Matthew Burt, whom he met during his transatlantic voyage to St. Kitts and who was the daughter of one of the most prominent planter families of the island, in 1759. Their daughter Louise was born before he began composing the poem. ↩︎

  21. The Ascrean poet is Hesiod (c. 700 BCE), who was from the Greek village of Ascra in the Valley of the Muses on the eastern slope of Mt. Helicon (the sacred Mount). Contemporary of Homer and known for the Theogony and Works and Days, which is considered to have influenced Virgil’s Georgics↩︎

  22. A country or farm laborer, a shepherd. A key figure in georgic poetry. ↩︎

  23. Maro is Virgil or Publius Vergilius Maro (70-19 BCE), author of the Eclogues, the Aeneid, and the Georgics. A major influence on Grainger and other neo-georgic poets of the eighteenth century. ↩︎

  24. Grainger is listing other eighteenth-century authors of georgic poems. Dyer is John Dyer (1699-1757), a Welsh painter and poet and author of The Fleece (1757), which Grainger reviewed in the Monthly Review (April 1757). Pomona’s bard is John Philips (1676-1709), an English poet and author of the Cyder (1708). Pomona is the Roman goddess of fruit. Smart is Christopher Smart (1722-1771), an English poet and author of The Hop-Garden (1752). Sommerville is William Somerville (1675-1742), an English poet and author of The Chace (1735). ↩︎

  25. Well-being, happiness, prosperity. ↩︎

  26. According to Gilmore, Aurelius refers to George Thomas (c. 1694-1774), who was born to a planter family on the island of Antigua. Descended on his mother’s side from Massachusetts Bay Governor John Winthrop, Thomas was a member of the Antiguan colonial assembly before he became governor of Pennsylvania (1738-1747). He was governor of the Leeward Islands from 1753 to 1766. Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Rome from 161 to 180 CE. He was known both for his military campaigns against the Germanic tribes and for his philosophical Meditations↩︎

  27. George III (1738-1820) was king of Britain from 1760 to 1820. The main is the ocean. ↩︎

  28. Lucan or Marcus Annaeus Lucanus (39-65 CE) was the nephew of Seneca the younger and the author of The Civil War. Gaius Plinius Secondus or Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE) was the author of Naturalis Historia. Arrian or Lucius Flavius Arrianus (86-160 CE) was the author of various short essays and histories, including Bithyniaca, Parthica, and what is known as Affairs of Alexander↩︎

  29. Pompey or Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (106-48 BCE) was a member of the First Triumvirate. He defeated Mithridates, King of Pontus, and established military order in the eastern provinces of the Roman empire. ↩︎

  30. “They were drinking sweet juices from a reed.” Adapted from Lucan’s De Bello Civili (On the Civil War, also known as the Pharsalia), Book III, line 237, which reads, “Quique bibunt tenera dulces ab harundine sucos.” ↩︎

  31. “Arabia also brings forth sugar but more commendably India.” From Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia, Book XII, Chapter 17. ↩︎

  32. Sokhar or sukkar, meaning sugar. Although Grainger claims this word is Arabic, it is actually spelled using Hebrew characters. ↩︎

  33. Shokhar, meaning intoxicated. ↩︎

  34. In this note, Grainger traces the movement of sugarcane from India to the Americas. Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) is most likely native to New Guinea, where it was first cultivated thousands of years ago and from where it began to be dispersed by human migrants around 8000 BCE. By the fourth to sixth centuries CE, sugarcane was being refined into crystallized sugar in India and Persia. From there, sugarcane and knowledge of sugar cultivation, processing, and refining traveled to the Mediterranean. The Spanish then transplanted sugar to the Americas and established plantations there (Columbus first brought sugar to the Caribbean in 1493). ↩︎

  35. As sugarcane grows, it forms segments called joints. Grainger is thus referring here to the growth of sugarcane. ↩︎

  36. Mediterranean coastline of North Africa that runs from modern Egypt to the Atlantic Ocean and includes parts of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. ↩︎

  37. The Azores, Madeiras, Canary Islands, and Cape Verde Islands are groups of islands in the eastern Atlantic Ocean relatively close to the coasts of Europe and Africa. They often served as waystations for Europeans voyaging from Europe or Africa to the Americas. As Grainger remarks, sugarcane was introduced by the Spanish and Portuguese to these islands in the fifteenth century. The sugar plantations that were established there became models for the ones that were subsequently established in the Caribbean. ↩︎

  38. The “Errata” list at the end of The Sugar-Cane indicates that “lesser” (or “Lesser”) should read “less” (or “Less”). The term Antilles refers to the islands of the Caribbean and is often used as a substitute for West Indies. The Greater Antilles are the large islands on the northwest end of the archipelago and include Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and Puerto Rico. The Lesser Antilles (further split into the Windward and Leeward Islands) are the islands ranging from the Virgin Islands in the north to Grenada in the south. St. Kitts is one of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles. ↩︎

  39. King Ferdinand V of Castile and León and II of Aragon (1452-1516), husband of Queen Isabella of Castille and patron with Isabella of Columbus’ 1492 voyage. ↩︎

  40. Hispaniola. ↩︎

  41. Four pounds per hundredweight. A hundredweight (equivalent to 112 lbs) was a standard measure for commerce. £4 had the purchasing power of approximately forty days of wages for a skilled tradesman. See the National Archives’ currency converter↩︎

  42. A dark brown, unrefined sugar that was typically the end product of the sugar-making process in the Caribbean. Often described as unrefined since it was usually processed further in Europe and lightened in color before being sold to consumers. ↩︎

  43. Historical term for the whole of Southeast Asia to the east of and including India. ↩︎

  44. The wild red cedar is Cedrela odorata, an important timber tree found in Central and South America, as well as in the Caribbean. It is now considered vulnerable to extinction due to unsustainable levels of harvesting. The locust bean tree or carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua) is native to Mediterranean Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Turkey. It is the source of carob, which is often used today as a chocolate substitute. ↩︎

  45. Aggregate name for the colonies located along the northern coast of South America between the mouth of the Orinoco River (in modern Venezuela) and the mouth of the Amazon (in modern Brazil). Colonizers included Portugal, France, the Netherlands, England, and Spain. ↩︎

  46. The Treaty of Breda (1667) concluded the Anglo-Dutch War between England, the Netherlands, France, and Denmark. The treaty formalized a major reorganization of colonial power, with the English taking control of New York, New Jersey, Antigua, and Montserrat; the Dutch gaining control of Surinam; and the French reclaiming Acadia in Atlantic Canada. Significantly for The Sugar-Cane, the treaty restored the French and British partition of St. Kitts. ↩︎

  47. Leeward is a nautical term meaning sheltered from the wind (i.e., downwind). The Leeward Islands include the British and US Virgin Islands, Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barthélemy, Barbuda, St. Eustatius, Saba, St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, and Dominica. ↩︎

  48. Jamaica became an English colony in 1655. It gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1962. ↩︎

  49. Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400), author of The Canterbury Tales. Gilmore notes that Chaucer uses sugar twice in The Canterbury Tales and again in Troilus and Criseyde↩︎

  50. Boiling, cooking. ↩︎

  51. Francisco Núñez de Pineda y Bascuñá (1607-1680), author of Cautiverio feliz y razón individual de las guerras dilatadas del reino de Chile (finished 1672). ↩︎

  52. The white cedar is probably Tabebuia heterophylla, a timber tree widely distributed throughout the Caribbean. The Bermuda cedar (Juniperus bermudiana) is native to Bermuda and was used by early colonists as building material and fuel. By the 1830s, the ship-building industry had denuded Bermuda of most of its indigenous cedars. It is still a critically endangered species. ↩︎

  53. By fish poison, Grainger is probably referring to ciguatera, a disease long associated with the consumption of predatory fish in the Caribbean. Ciguatera is a toxin produced by a marine microalgae called Gambierdiscus toxicus, and, like mercury, it becomes more concentrated in fish as they rise in the food chain. Symptoms of ciguatera include nausea, vomiting, and tingling fingers or toes. Symptoms usually go away in days or weeks but can last for years. ↩︎

  54. Cassia is probably Cassia fistula, commonly used as a purgative. It is likely native to India and Sri Lanka. Ceiba is the kapok or silk-cotton tree (Ceiba pentandra). The ceiba, whose native range is Mexico and the tropical Americas, can achieve a height of fifty meters. To the Maya, the ceiba was a sacred tree whose roots connected the underworld to the human and upper worlds. ↩︎

  55. The guava is a fruit from the small tree Psidium guajava, which is probably native to Central and South America but was naturalized throughout the Caribbean by the eighteenth century. Guaiac refers to Guaiacum officinale or Guaiacum sanctum, both of which have native ranges that include the Caribbean. In the eighteenth century, the guaiac tree also was known as lignum vitae (“wood of life”) because it was used to treat a variety of diseases, including syphilis and yaws. It also was widely believed to be an abortifacient. Both Guaiacum officinale and Guaiacum sanctum are now endangered due to overexploitation and habitat loss. ↩︎

  56. Having the property of inducing or promoting perspiration. ↩︎

  57. Grainger is referring to parasitic worms (helminths) that live in the digestive tracts of humans and other animals. There are many such parasites, including tapeworms and roundworms. Worms were a major health concern in the eighteenth century, producing such physical effects as malnutrition and anemia, as well as cognitive problems. ↩︎

  58. Acosta is José de Acosta (1539-1600), a Jesuit theologian, philosopher, and missionary who traveled to and spent several years in Peru and Mexico. Chiefly known for his Historia natural y moral de las Indias (1590), one of the earliest and most comprehensive surveys of the Americas. ↩︎

  59. The shaddock and forbidden fruit are two kinds of citrus. The shaddock (Citrus maxima) is also known as the pomelo or pummelo. It is native to Southeast Asia and was known as the shaddock in the eighteenth century because it was supposedly brought to the Caribbean by an Englishman named Captain Shaddock. The forbidden fruit refers to species of citrus that are now virtually extinct. It is similar in taste to the orange and the shaddock, and it is closely related to the grapefruit (Higman 180). ↩︎

  60. Acajou refers to the cashew or cashewnut tree (Anacardium occidentale). Its native range is Trinidad to tropical South America. The fruit is caustic and was supposedly used by women in the eighteenth-century Caribbean as a chemical peel to remove freckles (Riddell 82-83; also see Grainger’s note in Book IV, p. 131-132). Sabbaca refers to avocado (Persea americana), which probably originated in Central America. It then spread to the Caribbean in the aftermath of the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Avocado was an important part of the diets of the enslaved who had access to it: they harvested it from woodlands, versus growing it in provision grounds or gardens (Higman 158-160). ↩︎

  61. Antonio de Ulloa y de la Torre-Giral (1716-1795) was a colonel and naval officer of the Spanish navy, as well as an explorer and scientist. He participated in a geodesic mission to the equator in Peru to measure the earth’s true shape. After the mission was completed, Ulloa co-authored with Jorge Juan the Relación histórica del viage a la América meridional (1748). ↩︎

  62. There are multiple varieties of avocado. The one that Grainger identifies as bearing a green fruit may be Persea americana var. americana, also known as the West Indian avocado. The one that Grainger identifies as growing chiefly in Mexico may be Persea americana var. drymifolia, also known as the Mexican avocado. ↩︎

  63. Of the nature of butter; buttery. ↩︎

  64. Hans Sloane (1660-1753) was an Irish physician, naturalist, and collector who traveled to Jamaica in 1687 with Christopher Monck, second duke of Albemarle and newly appointed governor of Jamaica. During his stay in Jamaica, Sloane amassed an extensive collection of natural specimens, including plants, that later served as the basis for his natural history, A voyage to the islands Madera, Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers and Jamaica (1707, 1725). Sloane also succeeded Isaac Newton as president of the Royal Society in 1727. Upon his death, he bequeathed his extensive collections, which he had made considerable additions to after returning from Jamaica, to the British nation. These served as the founding collections of the British Museum, the British Library, and the Natural History Museum in London. ↩︎

  65. This is a pear known today as the jargonelle pear (Pyrus communis ‘Jargonelle’). It is one of the oldest pears in cultivation. ↩︎

  66. Anise wood. The leaves of some varieties of avocado give off a scent of anise when crushed. ↩︎

  67. The dog star is another name for Sirius, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major. Sirius rises in conjunction with the sun from July 3 to August 11, which are known as the “dog days” of summer. ↩︎

  68. Sugarcane turns yellow when it is ripe. ↩︎

  69. Gilmore defines after-offspring as second-growth cane that sprouts from the stumps once first-growth stalks have been cut and harvested (also known as “ratoon cane”). ↩︎

  70. Tempé is the name of a valley in Thessaly located between Mounts Olympus and Ossa; it also can be used as a general name for a beautiful valley or rural spot. In Greek mythology, Pan is god of flocks and herds and is usually represented with the horns, ears, and legs of a goat on the body of a man. Pan lived in Arcadia, an idealized, utopian place in mythology and literature. ↩︎

  71. John of Gaunt describes England as “A precious stone, set in the silver sea” in Shakespeare’s Richard II (2.1.46). ↩︎

  72. Seventeenth north latitude, one of the coordinates for St. Kitts. ↩︎

  73. Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), a Genoese-born explorer. The purpose of his famed 1492 voyage was to discover a western route to Asia. He set sight on the island of Guanahani (in the Bahamas) on October 12. Columbus completed four voyages to the Americas during his lifetime. ↩︎

  74. Grainger may be referring to the legend that St. Christopher, whose name means “Christ carrier,” once carried Jesus in the form of a child across a river. Mount Misery was the name used by Europeans for the main volcanic mountain on St. Kitts. It was renamed Mt. Liamuiga when St. Kitts and Nevis became independent. ↩︎

  75. Grainger is referring to Thomas Templeman’s A New Survey of the Globe: Or, an Accurate Mensuration of all the…Countries…in the World (1729). ↩︎

  76. City and province in central Sicily. ↩︎

  77. Grainger refers here to enslaved persons running away from plantations and taking advantage of the rough terrain near Mt. Liamuiga to evade re-capture. A solfaterre is a volcano. ↩︎

  78. Tobacco, indigo, coffee, and cotton were major agricultural commodities in the eighteenth-century Caribbean. Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) is native to the Americas. Indigo (genus Indigofera) is found in tropical regions throughout the world. Various species are used in the production of blue dye. Commercial cotton (genus Gossypium) is produced from several different species, some of which are native to the Old World and others of which are native to the New World. Coffee is made from the roasted seeds of the genus Coffea. Coffea arabica, the most widely cultivated species, is native to northeast tropical Africa. ↩︎

  79. King James was King James II of England and Ireland and James VII of Scotland (1633–1701). Son of Charles I, James II became king of England after the death of his brother, Charles II. He was the last Roman Catholic king of England and abdicated in 1688 during the Glorious Revolution. ↩︎

  80. Also Treaty of Rijswijk, signed in 1697 and named after the Dutch city in which it was signed. The treaty ended the Nine Years’ War (1689-1697), in which Louis XIV’s France faced a grand coalition of England, the Holy Roman Empire, the Dutch, and Spain. The treaty confirmed the effective disappearance of Spain as a maritime and continental power. ↩︎

  81. Martinico. Spanish name for the island of Martinique, the northernmost of the Windward Islands. Now an overseas department of France. ↩︎

  82. The Treaty of Utrecht (1713) was part of the general settlement ending the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714). The treaty confirmed Philip V as King of Spain but required him to abandon his claim to the French throne. Additional provisions included the Spanish forfeiture of Gibraltar and Minorca to the British and the French forfeiture of claims to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Prince Rupert’s Land in northern Canada. The French also had to cede the formerly partitioned St. Kitts entirely to the British. The British received the Asiento as well, a monopoly contract to supply the Spanish Americas with enslaved Africans. ↩︎

  83. Persephone, queen of the underworld. ↩︎

  84. Roman God of the underworld who abducted Proserpine and made her his queen. ↩︎

  85. Loose and clay-like soil beneficial for cultivation. ↩︎

  86. Marl is an earthy deposit, typically loose and consisting chiefly of clay mixed with calcium carbonate, used to improve the texture of sandy or light soil. ↩︎

  87. Europeans generally believed in climatist theories of health and identity. These suggested that human bodies adapted to their environments and that temperate climates (and societies) were superior to tropical ones. As a result, colonists worried that their skin color would change in tropical climates and that this change would be a sign of physical and moral degeneration. ↩︎

  88. Gilmore identifies this quotation as an adaptation from Milton’s Comus (ll.21-23). ↩︎

  89. Poetic term for a ship or vessel. ↩︎

  90. The Muses. ↩︎

  91. Refers to magnetic declination, the deviation of a compass needle from true north. ↩︎

  92. King Ferdinand II of Aragon. ↩︎

  93. Recompense, reward, gift. ↩︎

  94. Count Sherley (1565-1635?), English adventurer and diplomat who led ill-fated expeditions against the Portuguese in Cape Verde and against the Spanish in Jamaica. He later went to Persia to engineer an alliance against the Turks. ↩︎

  95. St. Jago de la Vega (or Santiago de la Vega) was the capital of Jamaica under Spanish colonial rule and then under English colonial rule until the late nineteenth century (the English renamed it “Spanish Town”). It lies just west of Kingston, the current capital of Jamaica. ↩︎

  96. Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), lord protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1653-1658). One of the leaders of the English Civil War and a signatory to Charles I’s death warrant. In 1655, he launched what was known as the Western Design with the intention of dislodging Spanish power in the Caribbean and establishing an English presence there. English forces first tried to conquer Hispaniola and failed, but they did succeed in expelling the Spanish from Jamaica in 1655. Cromwell died in 1658, and his remains were exhumed in 1661, at which time he was posthumously “executed.” ↩︎

  97. Charles II (1630-1685), king of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Son of Charles I (1600-1649) and brother of James II (1633-1701). He became king after the rule of Oliver Cromwell and the restoration of the British monarchy in 1660. ↩︎

  98. Thomas Modyford, first baronet (c. 1620-1679), served as governor of Jamaica from 1664 to 1669. ↩︎

  99. The nine muses of art, literature, and science. ↩︎

  100. Ficus citrifolia, also known as the wild banyan tree. It is the national tree of Barbados, and its native range includes Florida and the tropical Americas. ↩︎

  101. Quintus Curtius Rufus (1st century CE), Roman historian and author of Histories of Alexander the Great↩︎

  102. John Milton (1606-1674) was an English poet and polemicist. Especially known for Paradise Lost (1667) and Samson Agonistes (1671). Grainger quotes here from Paradise Lost (9.1101-1110). ↩︎

  103. Malabar is a region on the southwest coast of India (modern Kerala). Decan refers to the Deccan plateau, immediately to the east of Kerala. ↩︎

  104. Grainger means that the Spanish left livestock to breed in Barbados so that the island would supply them with provisions on future trips. ↩︎

  105. Barbados was first settled by the English in 1627. It gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1966. ↩︎

  106. Montserrat, a British overseas territory in the Leeward Islands. ↩︎

  107. James Hay, first earl of Carlisle (c. 1580-1636), a Scottish courtier and diplomat who came to the English court with James I. In 1627, he obtained a grant from Charles I for all of the Caribbean islands ranging from Barbados to St. Kitts. ↩︎

  108. James Ley, first earl of Marlborough (1550–1629), English judge and politician and rival to the earl of Carlisle for the English Caribbean islands. ↩︎

  109. Three hundred pounds per year. ↩︎

  110. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is probably native to India and was brought to the Caribbean by the Spanish in the sixteenth century (Higman 95). ↩︎

  111. Tax. ↩︎

  112. City located in the southwest of England. Also one of England’s most important sugar-refining cities in the eighteenth century. Although the initial steps of sugar production happened in the Caribbean, sugar was further refined in Britain before being sold to consumers there. ↩︎

  113. Columbus’s second voyage took place from 1493 to 1496. ↩︎

  114. Antigua is one of the Leeward Islands. It lies just to the east of St. Kitts. It was colonized by the English in 1632 and now forms part of the nation of Antigua and Barbuda. ↩︎

  115. Earth, lands. ↩︎

  116. Refers to William III (1650-1702), king of England, Scotland, and Ireland and prince of Orange, and Queen Anne (1665-1714), queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland. William III and his wife Mary II ascended to the throne after the abdication of James II at the end of the Glorious Revolution (1688-1689). Anne, sister to Mary II, succeeded William III in 1702. ↩︎

  117. Thomas Warner (c.1580-1649), English settler and colonial governor. Was in Guiana from 1620 to 1622 before returning to England. In 1624, he settled in St. Kitts, where he established tobacco plantations and formed an alliance with the French against the Caribs. He was named Governor of St. Kitts for life by the Earl of Carlisle in 1629. ↩︎

  118. Grainger portrays rats and monkeys as threats to the plantation later in the poem as well. For these related passages, see “Animals” on this site. ↩︎

  119. Also bill-hook. Cutlass used for cutting cane. ↩︎

  120. Turn into sugar. ↩︎

  121. A wane is a large open vehicle or wagon drawn by horses or oxen and used to carry heavy loads, especially of agricultural produce. ↩︎

  122. Lime was used in Grainger’s time to refine sugar: when boiled with sugar, lime precipitates impurities. ↩︎

  123. The "Errata" list at the end of The Sugar-Cane indicates that this comma should be removed. ↩︎

  124. Fleur-de-lis, a lily-shaped ornament that symbolizes France. ↩︎

  125. France. ↩︎

  126. Copper pots used for boiling cane juice. ↩︎

  127. Constructed of interlaced branches and stakes. ↩︎

  128. According to Gilmore, a Latinized name that refers to the town of Dorchester in the southern English county of Dorset. ↩︎

  129. Dried cattle feed (e.g. hay). ↩︎

  130. One of the most important food crops for enslaved persons in the Caribbean. There are several reasons yams (genus Dioscorea) became important to Afro-Caribbean diets: yam crop yields are high, yams are easily stored, and they can be prepared in several different ways. Just as crucially, yams formed a part of West African diets long before the commencement of the slave trade. As a result, slave traders often shipped large quantities of yams on trans-Atlantic voyages to feed the people on board, and yams accompanied Africans to the Americas, where they were able to continue cultivating them. Although there is one South American species of yam (Dioscorea trifida) that was transplanted to the Caribbean by Amerindians and consumed by subsequent inhabitants of the region, more widely used species in the colonial period included Dioscorea cayenensis, which is native to West Africa, and Dioscorea alata, which is native to Southeast Asia but had been introduced to the west coast of Africa by the Portuguese and Spanish by the sixteenth century (Higman 72-81). ↩︎

  131. Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is native to Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, and Sudan. ↩︎

  132. Roasting and boiling are two of the easiest ways to prepare yams and were thus two methods commonly employed by the enslaved. In the eighteenth-century Caribbean, enslaved persons also regularly prepared yams by following the long-established West African practice of pounding them with a mortar and pestle until they formed a paste that could be rolled into small balls. Pounded yams were sometimes known as fufu, a term derived from the Twi and Ga-Adangme languages that also applied to pounded plantain and cassava (Higman 78-81). ↩︎

  133. A region on the west coast of Africa that served as a center of the Atlantic slave trade. Although its precise borders are difficult to pinpoint, it ranged from Sierra Leone to Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, and Cameroon. It should not be confused with the modern nation of Guinea. It is important to note that European names for African places and ethnicities were imprecise. Slave traders and planters often identified enslaved individuals by their ports of embarkation (for example, Minnah, Papaw, and Coromantin), even though Africans may have identified themselves by their villages or districts of origin instead. ↩︎

  134. The prevailing wind patterns that eighteenth-century navigators used to sail their ships around the world. In the North Atlantic, the trade winds blow westerly from the coast of Africa just above the equator to the Caribbean and northeasterly from Florida up the coast of North America and toward Europe. ↩︎

  135. Domains. ↩︎

  136. A gathering of stems or stalks. ↩︎

  137. In the eighteenth century, improvement referred to the cultivation and development of lands for the purpose of making them more economically valuable. Increasingly, philosophers, government officials, and others also came to believe that there was a moral imperative for individuals to improve their land, since it could lead to increased crop and food production, which in turn would prevent famine and other social ills. Improvement was tied up with imperial agendas of dispossession as well, however: it was often argued that indigenous peoples did not improve their lands and therefore did not have a right to continue using and living on them. ↩︎

  138. A hind is a farm servant or agricultural laborer. ↩︎

  139. By Ceres’ son, Grainger means Jethro Tull (1674-1741), an English agricultural innovator and writer who was known for authoring the work Horse-Hoeing Husbandry (1731). Ceres is the Italo-Roman goddess of growth and agriculture. ↩︎

  140. Range of vision. ↩︎

  141. Virgil was born in the Italian provice of Mantua. ↩︎

  142. The Greek god Apollo was associated with healing and disease. ↩︎

  143. King of Thessalian Hellas and the father of Phoenix, one of Achilles’s Myrmidons. ↩︎

  144. In Greek mythology, Themis was the Titan daughter of Uranus and Gaia. She was the goddess of wisdom and good counsel; she also was the personification of justice and the interpreter of the gods’ will. ↩︎

  145. Gilmore identifies this quotation as an adaptation from Edward Young’s The Universal Passion. Satire III. To the Right Honourable Mr. Dodington (1). ↩︎

  146. Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (1698-1759), French mathematician, biologist, and astronomer who led an expedition to northern Finland to measure the length of a degree along the meridian. ↩︎

  147. Creatures in Greek mythology depicted as winged women or birds with women’s faces. ↩︎

  148. Blaberus discoidalis↩︎

  149. Probably Gecarcinus ruricola, also known as the black land crab. One of several species of terrestrial or land crabs, the black land crab lives in damp and shaded forest areas inland and migrates in large numbers to the sea to breed. It is one of the most commonly exploited land crabs for human consumption in the Caribbean. Eighteenth-century observers were often fascinated by the mass migration of land crabs. ↩︎

  150. A family of crested lizards (order Squamata, suborder Sauria). More than seven hundred species have been identified; they are found principally in the temperate and tropical Americas. Their flesh and eggs are valued for food. ↩︎

  151. Lues venerea was the medical term used for syphilis (also commonly known by the British as the “French pox”). There were no effective treatments for syphilis until the early twentieth century. ↩︎

  152. The American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis↩︎

  153. Cholera morbus is used in modern medicine to describe the water-borne disease caused by Vibrio cholerae. In the eighteenth century, however, it described a variety of illnesses with symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and abdominal pain. ↩︎

  154. May be the berries from the blue mahoe (Hibiscus elatus), a tree whose native range is Cuba and Jamaica. Also naturalized to other parts of the Caribbean; now the national tree of Jamaica. ↩︎

  155. Nymphs of springs, rivers, and lakes in Greek mythology. ↩︎

  156. Fugitive, fleeting, transient. ↩︎

  157. Also known as bearded fig or the wild banyan tree (Ficus citrifolia). ↩︎

  158. The Biblical flood of Noah’s time. ↩︎

  159. An alternate name for the Greek god Apollo and used in contexts where Apollo is identified with the sun. ↩︎

  160. Tree ferns are primitive plants that belong to the order Cyatheales. Grainger may have been referencing Cyathea arborea, sometimes known as the West Indian treefern, which can grow up to nine meters tall. ↩︎

  161. The enslaved generally were provided with a coarse brown linen known as osnaburg. ↩︎

  162. In Greco-Roman mythology, Iris was the daughter of the Titan Thaumas and the Oceanid Electra; she is sometimes cited as the wife of Zephyrus, the west wind. Her name in Greek means rainbow. The goddess Juno took her to serve as her handmaid. ↩︎

  163. Peleus’ son is Achilles. In Book 18 of the Iliad, the god Hephaestus forges an elaborate shield for Achilles to replace the armor that was lost when Hector killed Patroclus. ↩︎

  164. In Greek mythology, one of a race of one-eyed giants who forged thunderbolts for Zeus. ↩︎

  165. Alpha Canis Minoris, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Minor. ↩︎

  166. Leo is the fifth sign of the zodiac; the sun enters it in mid-July and exits it in mid-August. ↩︎

  167. The pineapple (Ananas comosus) originated in Central or South America. It was brought by Amerindians to the Caribbean (Higman 188). ↩︎

  168. Refers to Sagittarius, the southern zodiacal constellation depicted as a centaur aiming an arrow; popularly known as the Archer. By “the arrow’s deadening power,” Grainger means the November cold. Sagittarius is the ninth sign of the zodiac; the sun enters it in mid-November and exits it in mid-December. ↩︎

  169. Members of the genus Citrus. Citrus fruits originated in Southeast Asia and spread from there to the Mediterranean and Spain. Columbus brought sour oranges (Citrus aurantium), sweet oranges (Citrus sinensis), limes (Citrus aurantifolia), and citrons (Citrus medica) to the Caribbean. He probably also carried lemons (Citrus limon) (Higman 175). ↩︎

  170. Plantains (family Musaceae) are closely related to the banana, and they both formed an important part of the diets of the enslaved (although plantains were more important than bananas). Wild species of plantain and banana originated from and were first cultivated in ancient Southeast Asia, but cultivated species reached Africa in prehistoric times. They were then introduced to Spain by the tenth century and the Canary Islands by the fifteenth. They subsequently were introduced to the Caribbean by the Spanish (Higman 134). ↩︎

  171. Capricorn is the tenth sign of the zodiac; the sun enters it in mid-December and exits it in mid-January. ↩︎

  172. Aquarius is the eleventh sign of the zodiac; the sun enters it in mid-January and exits it in mid-February. ↩︎

  173. Annona cherimola, a fruit that originated in South America and is perhaps native to Ecuador. ↩︎

  174. Bromelia pinguin. Its native range is Mexico and the tropical Americas. ↩︎

  175. The pointed ends of the crescent moon are sometimes referred to as its horns. Grainger thus means that six moons or months must pass. ↩︎

  176. Roman god of the sea. ↩︎

  177. Aries is the first sign of the zodiac; the sun enters it in mid-March and exits it in mid-April. The Bull refers to the zodiacal sign of Taurus, which is the second sign of the zodiac; the sun enters it in mid-April and exits it in mid-May. ↩︎

  178. The Virgin names Virgo, the sixth sign of the zodiac; the sun enters it in mid-August and exits it in mid-September. ↩︎

  179. Refers to nymphs of the ocean (“main”). ↩︎

  180. Libra is the seventh sign of the zodiac; the sun enters it in mid-September and exits it in mid-October. ↩︎

  181. Cane stalks often provided cattle with feed. ↩︎

  182. In the Caribbean, seasons are generally divided into wet and dry, versus the four seasons commonly known in temperate zones. ↩︎

  183. Logwood is the commercial product of a tree (Haematoxylum campechianum) indigenous to Belize and the southeastern coast of the Gulf of Campeche and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. A source of the dye substance haematoxylin, which produces blue, red, and purple colors. ↩︎

  184. The flux is a general term for gastrointestinal disorders like dysentery (also known as the “bloody flux”). Dysentery remained a major public health concern throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Endemial means endemic or habitually present in a certain country or area. ↩︎

  185. Grainger refers here to the physic nut plant (Jatropha curcas), which is often conflated with the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis). The physic nut tree is native to the tropical Americas. It is toxic to human beings and livestock and was often used as a purgative in the eighteenth century. The castor oil plant is probably native to northeastern Africa. ↩︎

  186. Among the later Greeks and Romans, a name for the nomadic peoples of the Syro-Arabian desert; also used as a synonym for Arab and Muslim peoples. ↩︎

  187. Having the power to produce vomiting. ↩︎

  188. John Ray (1627-1705), English naturalist and botanist. Author of Historia plantarum (1686-1704), a three-volume encyclopedia of plants cataloging 18,600 species. ↩︎

  189. The walnut (Juglans regia) has a native range stretching from the Balkan Peninsula to Iran. The almond (Prunus dulcis) is primarily native to western Asia. ↩︎

  190. The bellyache bush (Jatropha gossypiifolia) has a native range that includes Mexico and the tropical Americas. ↩︎

  191. Prior to the eighteenth century, melancholy was understood within the framework of humoral theories of the body (articulated by Aristotle, Galen, and Hippocrates) as a disease caused by an excess of “black bile” and characterized by such emotions as fear or sadness without explicit cause. Use of the term had expanded by the time of Grainger’s writing to speak more generally of physiological disturbance, listlessness, or dejection. ↩︎

  192. Colic or painful stomach contractions. ↩︎

  193. Probably the sweet acacia (Acacia farnesiana), also known as the West Indian black-thorn. ↩︎

  194. The book of Exodus contains a passage referring to Israelites as a “stiff-necked people” (32:9). The passage refers to the refusal of those accompanying Moses out of Egypt to give up their worship of idols. Yet the passage also has been cited by those seeking to characterize the Jewish people as obstinate for refusing to accept Christianity. ↩︎

  195. Refers to any of a number of shrubs belonging to the genus Ligustrum. Native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia; commonly used for hedging. Some species are invasive. ↩︎

  196. Grampia’s piny hills. The Grampian Mountains in Scotland. ↩︎

  197. Caesalpinia pulcherrima, a shrub that produces showy orange and yellow flowers with red stamens. It was known in the colonial period as Poinciana pulcherrima, Barbados Pride, and peacock flower, among other names, most referring to the plant’s beauty (the Latin word pulcher means beauty). From the seventeenth century, Europeans reported that it was being used by Amerindian and African women in the Americas as an abortifacient: Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), a Dutch naturalist and artist who traveled to Surinam in the seventeenth century, also claimed that women used the plant to induce abortions because they did not want to give birth to children who would be enslaved (2.124-125). The origins of the plant are unclear: some botanists believe it to be native to Asia and an early introduction to the Caribbean, while others believe it to be native to the tropical Americas. ↩︎

  198. Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (1656-1708), French physician and botanist, author of Éléments de botanique (1694). ↩︎

  199. Refers to the eastern part of the Mediterranean. ↩︎

  200. Ulcers, usually of the mouth. ↩︎

  201. General Philippe de Lonvilliers, chevalier de Poincy (1584-1660), governor of the French Antilles from 1647 to 1660. ↩︎

  202. The genus Senna contains various plants native to the Old and New World tropics that have laxative effects. ↩︎

  203. Grainger means that the plant is good for the stomach (stomachic), that it produces flatulence (carminative), and that it induces menstrual flow (emmenagogue). ↩︎

  204. Peacock’s tail. ↩︎

  205. Another common name for Caesalpinia pulcherrima because it was frequently used as a flowering barrier fence. ↩︎

  206. Juno has been associated with geese (family Anatidae) and peacocks (three species in the pheasant family Phasianidae). In Roman mythology, Juno is the principal female deity and consort of Jupiter. ↩︎

  207. Birds of the family Trochilidae. ↩︎

  208. An eagle (family Accipitridae). Jove is an alternate name for Jupiter, Roman god of thunder. ↩︎

  209. Vitruvius Pollio (1st century BCE), Roman architect. ↩︎

  210. Common name for cactus plants of the genus Opuntia, which contains over a hundred species that are distributed throughout the Americas. Also known as nopal and commonly consumed by human beings and animals as food. Opuntia was of significant interest to eighteenth-century European naturalists because some species served as food plants for the cochineal insect (Dactylopius coccus), the source of a highly prized red dye. The cochineal insect is native to tropical and subtropical Mexico and South America and was used in those places in the precolonial era to dye textiles and other objects. ↩︎

  211. George Edwards (1694-1773), English artist and ornithologist. Author of A Natural History of Uncommon Birds (1743-1751). ↩︎

  212. Wild liquorice (Abrus precatorius) is a slender, viny plant that produces scarlet, pea-sized seeds with small black spots at the points of attachment. The seeds are known as jumbee beads, while the plant is sometimes known as the rosary pea. The seeds are commonly used to make jewelry, and they have been associated with the practice of obeah, perhaps because the black spots on the seeds resemble eyes. The seeds also may have been used to heal or poison since they contain the toxin abrin, which can induce nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and dehydration. Abrus precatorius is native to Africa, Asia, Malesia, Australia, and the Pacific region. ↩︎

  213. Climbing, ascending. ↩︎

  214. Bright red color. ↩︎

  215. Gilmore suggests that Christobelle refers to Grainger’s wife, Daniel Matthew Burt. This seems likely, especially if one reads “Christobelle” as “Belle of St. Christopher.” Lines 544-547 refer to Grainger’s long-standing wish that he might one day own his own plantation. See, for example, his 25 March 1765 letter to Bishop Thomas Percy (Nichols 288). ↩︎

  216. A paint or cosmetic for beautifying the skin; a wash or coloring for the face. ↩︎

  217. A scimitar is a short, curved, single-edged sword associated primarily with Turkey or the Middle East. ↩︎

  218. Opuntia ficus-indica, which is native to Mexico, was introduced to Spain by Columbus upon his return from his first voyage. ↩︎

  219. Pectoral drinks aid in digestion. ↩︎

  220. Ebony refers to various Asian and African trees of the genus Diospyros in the ebony family (Ebenaceae). Historically, ebony wood has been valued for its dark color and used to make furniture, ornaments, and other objects. ↩︎

  221. Gilmore identifies the blast as the disease that also has been called the black blight. It results from an infestation by the West Indian cane fly (Saccharosydne saccharivora). ↩︎

  222. Wood or tree nymph in Greek mythology. ↩︎

  223. Heeds, cares, minds, considers. ↩︎

  224. Yellow fever, a viral disease transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, occurs mostly in tropical climates and is characterized by aches, fever, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, and bleeding. This disease was extremely deadly to newcomers from Europe. Eighteenth-century physicians did not understand the mechanisms via which yellow fever was caused or transmitted, but they took note of immunological patterns in which people who had lived in the Caribbean seemed immune to the disease, while those who had not were susceptible. They further believed, erroneously, that Africans and Afro-Caribbeans had an innate immunity to yellow fever. ↩︎

  225. Grainger spends the next few pages describing Montano, a fictional planter whom he lauds for treating the enslaved laborers on his plantation humanely. Montano serves as proof of Grainger’s belief in amelioration or the reform (versus abolition) of slavery. Although Grainger presents Montano’s behavior as virtuous, he ultimately justifies it on economic grounds. ↩︎

  226. In the eighteenth century, the term creole was used to refer to individuals born in the Americas, regardless of ancestry. ↩︎

  227. Cassava (Manihot esculenta), also known as manioc, yuca, and bitter cassava, which was domesticated in South America thousands of years ago and then brought to the Caribbean islands by Amerindians. One of the most important food sources for Amerindians during the precolonial era; subsequently adopted by Africans and Europeans in the Caribbean as well. Nevertheless, cassava is highly poisonous: its roots, which are the parts of the plant that are prepared for consumption, contain cyanide, and the raw root is poisonous to human beings. Cassava has advantages that offset its toxic nature, however: it can grow in poor soils and conditions, one planting produces several harvests, and the roots can be stored in the ground for a long time without spoiling. The root’s poison also can be neutralized by proper processing: Amerindians and other early Caribbean consumers usually processed cassava root by grating it and then pressing the poisonous juice out of it to make a flour, which could be eaten as a porridge or turned into various cakes or breads (Higman 61-69). ↩︎

  228. The tanie, tannia, or yautia is technically the species Xanthosoma sagittifolium, but it was often confused with taro or eddo (Colocasia esculenta). Xanthosoma sagittifolium has a native range extending from Costa Rica to tropical South America. Colocasia esculenta originated in southeastern or southern Central Asia (Higman 82-86). ↩︎

  229. Cultivated varieties of cassava are classed into two groups: sweet and bitter. Sweet cassava is not poisonous and can be eaten without the processing that bitter cassava requires. Although it is more dangerous to eat, bitter cassava historically has been cultivated more than sweet cassava, perhaps because it has a higher yield and because it makes a better flour (Higman 62). ↩︎

  230. There are reports from the colonial Caribbean of cassava being made into a drink called perino (Higman 69). ↩︎

  231. Jean Antoine Bruletout de Préfontaine’s Maison rustique, à l’usage des habitans de la partie de la France équinoxiale connue sous le nom de Cayenne (1763) also mentions a kind of cassava called Baccacoua that is consumed only by the Amerindians in Cayenne, a French colony on the northeastern coast of South America (now the name of the capital of French Guiana). ↩︎

  232. Tannia and taro leaves were primarily consumed by the enslaved because they contained needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate. These crystals irritated the mouth and throat when eaten, and the leaves had to be boiled for a long period of time to reduce what was known as the “scratching” effect (Higman 86-87). ↩︎

  233. The soursop (Annona muricata) is a fruit of tropical American origin. ↩︎

  234. Refers to tobacco, which Walter Raleigh (1554-1618) was sometimes credited with introducing to England. Raleigh was an English courtier during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, as well as an explorer and author who obtained a patent for and helped to organize the expeditions to Roanoke in 1585 and 1587. He set out for South America in 1595, exploring the Orinoco River in present-day Venezuela, and again in 1617 to search for the famed city of El Dorado. He was executed for treason in 1618. He is the author of Discoverie of the Large, Rich, and Bewtiful Empyre of Guiana (1596). ↩︎

  235. A grove of cacao trees. The cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) is the source of chocolate, which is made from the seeds of the cacao tree. Cacao is native to Central and South America and was first cultivated by Amerindians thousands of years ago. Europeans first encountered cacao in Mexico, where the Aztecs placed a high value on it: cacao was prepared into chocolate drinks that were consumed by the Aztec elite, as well as during religious rituals, and cacao seeds were used as currency and tribute. Cacao was first brought to the Caribbean by Spaniards, who established plantations to supply Europe with chocolate. Although some Europeans initially found the taste of chocolate off-putting (the Aztecs did not add sugar to their chocolate), it was being consumed in Europe in significant quantities by the seventeenth century. ↩︎

  236. The custard apple (Annona reticulata) is the fruit of a tree whose native range is Mexico to northeastern Venezuela. The star apple (Chrysophyllum cainito) is the fruit of a tree native to the Greater Antilles (Higman 202). Sugar apple (Annona squamosa), also known as sweetsop, is the fruit of a tree native to lowland Central America. ↩︎

  237. Bell-shaped. ↩︎

  238. According to Gilmore, Matthias Martinius (1572-1630) authored the Lexicon Philologicum (1623). ↩︎

  239. Gilmore suggests that these names reference Grainger’s wife, whose first name was Daniel (“Daniel” sounds like “Danae”). ↩︎

  240. The Aztecs flavored their chocolate with vanilla (Vanilla planifolia), which is native to Mexico and Belize, as well as other spices, including chili peppers (genus Capsicum), which have a native range that includes Mexico and the tropical Americas. Grainger was not necessarily thinking of the spiciness of ingredients when he referred to them as “hot,” however. He may instead have meant that vanilla, pepper, and other spices were hot in a humoral sense: according to humoral theories of health, all foods possessed elemental qualities that reflected some combination of heat, moisture, coldness, or dryness. These foods could, in turn, impart those qualities to those who ate them and thus needed to be regulated to complement the humoral properties of consumers’ bodies, which also were hot, cold, moist, or dry. ↩︎

  241. The olive tree (Olea europaea) is widely distributed across the Mediterranean region, Africa, and Asia and has been cultivated in the Mediterranean for over five thousand years. ↩︎

  242. Gliricidia sepium. Its native range includes Mexico, Central America, and South America, and it is used as a shade tree for cacao and other plants. ↩︎

  243. Cacao trees produce large pods that contain the cacao seeds, also known as cacao beans or nuts. ↩︎

  244. The cucumber (Cucumis sativus) has a native range extending from Himalaya to northern Thailand. ↩︎

  245. There are three main varieties of cacao used in commercial chocolate production today: the Forastero, the Trinitario, and the Criollo. The Criollo is the most prized variety and probably the one Grainger was referencing, since it is still grown in Venezuela (Caracas is the capital of Venezuela). ↩︎

  246. “Cacao” is derived from the Nahuatl word cacahuatl. The scientific name for cacao, Theobroma cacao, also includes a Greek term that translates to “food of the gods.” ↩︎

  247. The name Ptolemy gave to the south and southwest of Arabia because of its fertile landscape. ↩︎

  248. Present-day Istanbul. ↩︎

  249. The "Errata" list at the end of The Sugar-Cane indicates that “eighty” should read “one hundred and fifty.” ↩︎

  250. Grainger is referring to the glanders, a contagious disease in horses. ↩︎

  251. Aulus Cornelius Celsus (14-37 CE), Roman medical writer and author of the encyclopedia entitled Arte, of which eight books, De medicina, deal with various medical topics from Greek medicine to first-century medical theory. Celsus is used here to refer more generally to a doctor. ↩︎

  252. Ethiop and Ethiopia were sometimes used by the Greeks and Romans to refer to a specific people and region of Africa, but Ethiop was used to designate a generically black African as well. Ethiopians also were referenced in a classical proverb about “washing the Ethiopian” or turning black skin white. The proverb and subsequent versions, which were widely circulated in the early modern period and eighteenth century, framed the task as impossible and hence were used in justifications of racial difference based on skin color. ↩︎

  253. The tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica) is probably native to tropical Africa and Madagascar. Its fruit pulp was used in food and beverages, including punch, and for medicinal purposes. ↩︎

  254. Pasqua Rosée (fl. 1651-1656) was born in Sicily and relocated from Smyrna (now a city in Turkey) to London in 1651. He opened the first coffeehouse in London and was instrumental in popularizing coffee in England. ↩︎

  255. Jean de Thévenot (1633-1667) traveled to Egypt, Arabia, Persia, and India. His five-volume Voyages was published in 1689. ↩︎

  256. A seaport in Yemen at the entrance to the Red Sea. Also a term applied to coffee of high grade that was once exported from Mocha. ↩︎

  257. According to Gilmore, the large fly is possibly Xyleutes (Psychonoctua) lillianae, and the white grub is possibly Planococcus citri (Gilmore cites Kevan for this information). ↩︎

  258. Camellia sinensis is the species from which commercially produced tea is derived. Its native range is Southeastern Asia. Tea and coffee, as well as chocolate, were introduced to Europe as exotic beverages in the seventeenth century. ↩︎

  259. Refers to Leo, the fifth sign of the Zodiac; the sun enters it in mid-July and exits it in mid-August. ↩︎

  260. Purging, purgative. ↩︎

  261. Zumbadore means buzzer in Spanish. As Grainger explains in his note, he is referring to the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus). ↩︎

  262. Philosophical Transactions, the journal of the Royal Society. ↩︎

  263. The Virgin Islands are a group of islands situated to the east of Puerto Rico and northwest of St. Kitts. Now divided into the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands. ↩︎

  264. William Shenstone (1714-1763), English poet and famed innovator of landscape gardening, which he practiced on his estate, The Leasowes. Grainger enclosed a draft of The Sugar-Cane in a 5 June 1762 letter to his friend Bishop Thomas Percy, asking him and Shenstone to read and comment on it. He added that “The second book you will see is addressed to our friend at the Leasowes; and I must tell you it is my favourite of the whole” (Nichols 279). ↩︎

  265. The opening lines of Book II parallel Grainger’s experience in the Caribbean. Having married into a planter family, he felt isolated from his London friends, and he hoped one day to have a plantation of his own, though he never did. Writing to his friend Bishop Thomas Percy on 29 February 1766, Grainger lamented that “I am lost, murdered, for want of company” (Nichols 293). ↩︎

  266. Animals like mules, horses, and cattle were used to power sugar mills if wind and water were not readily available. ↩︎

  267. Roman god of fire. Here, Grainger refers to the use of fire in the process of distilling spirits (rum) from fermented molasses. ↩︎

  268. The aurora borealis or northern lights. ↩︎

  269. Gilmore identifies this quotation as an adaptation from Milton’s Comus (l.86). ↩︎

  270. Monkeys are not indigenous to St. Kitts, but the vervet or African green monkey (Cercopithecus aethiops) had been introduced by the seventeenth century. Vervets most likely arrived in the Caribbean via slave ships from Africa. They quickly came to be considered pests because they established themselves in large numbers on the island and traveled around it in troops, raiding colonists’ crops. Today, the St. Kitts vervet population exceeds the human one, and vervets are still known for destroying farmers’ crops (and stealing tourists’ cocktails). Controversially, many of the vervets are now killed or trapped to serve in medical experiments. ↩︎

  271. Leaps or capers, as made in dancing or playing. ↩︎

  272. Grainger warns that despite the fact that sugar plantations seem like sure investments with guaranteed profits, they nevertheless require expert knowledge and labor to succeed. ↩︎

  273. Also droll, a buffoon or jester. ↩︎

  274. Hostile French forces. Here, Grainger makes an analogy between the vervet monkeys and the French during the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), the first truly global war that resulted in the establishment of Britain as the preeminent maritime and colonial power. ↩︎

  275. Albion, a name of ancient Celtic origin for Britain or England. The term may also derive from the Latin word for white (albus) and refer to the white cliffs of Dover. ↩︎

  276. Refers either to the black rat (Rattus rattus) or the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus), two species of rats that arrived in the Caribbean from Europe and are now considered invasive species. There also was a rat known as the Nevis rice rat (Pennatomys nivalis) that was native to Nevis, St. Kitts, and St. Eustatius, but there are no definitive reports of its existence from the colonial era. The Nevis rice rat is now considered extinct. This line of the poem also relates to one of the most famous and perhaps apocryphal stories about the reception and publication of The Sugar-Cane. In his Life of Johnson, James Boswell recalls a reading of a manuscript draft of the poem that took place at the home of painter Sir Joshua Reynolds. The line, “Now, Muse, let’s sing of rats,” is supposed to have caused the audience to burst into laughter. In response, Grainger deleted the word “rats” from the poem and replaced it with “whisker’d vermine-race” (Irlam 390-391). ↩︎

  277. Castore Durante da Gualdo (1529-1590), botanist and physician to the Popes Gregory XIII and Sixtus V. Author of Herbaria nuovo (1585) and Il tesoro della sanità (1586). ↩︎

  278. Grainger may have been referring to a passage from Hans Sloane’s A Voyage to the Islands Madera, Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers and Jamaica (1707, 1725) that reads, “Rats are likewise sold by the dozen, and when they have been bred amongst the Sugar-Canes, are thought by some discerning people very delicious Victuals” (1.xx). Sloane seems to imply that all Jamaicans, and not just the enslaved, ate rats. These may not have been black and brown rats from Europe, however, but Jamaican rice rats (Oryzomys antillarum), which are now considered extinct. ↩︎

  279. Guayaquil refers to a gulf and river in Ecuador leading to the city of Guayaquil. The modern name of the river is the Rio Guayas. Mangroves are trees of the genus Rhizophora, which contains well over a hundred species, most native to the Old World but some native to the New. Mangroves can thrive in soils of varying levels of salinity and have colonized tropical and subtropical coastlines to form forests and thickets there. ↩︎

  280. The American black vulture (Coragyps atratus), whose native range includes North, Central, and South America. ↩︎

  281. The American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis↩︎

  282. Igbo (also Ibo) refers to an ethnic and linguistic group in the Bight of Biafra (now Bight of Bonny) in southern Nigeria. The Bight of Biafra was a major slave-trading region in the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries, and Igbo came to be a name designation used by slavers and planters. Although he was not Grainger’s contemporary, Olaudah Equiano was a person of Igbo origin. ↩︎

  283. A chemical compound used as rat poison. ↩︎

  284. Although raw cassava is poisonous to human beings, rats apparently could eat it without being unduly affected since Grainger recommends mixing cassava with Misnian arsenic to poison them. In fact, rats are recognized as major cassava pests today. ↩︎

  285. Unwitting, ignorant. ↩︎

  286. Choice foods, viands, or delicacies. ↩︎

  287. Nightshade most likely refers to Atropa belladonna, a poisonous plant also known as deadly nightshade or belladonna. The foliage, fruits, and roots are all highly toxic, and consuming only ten berries can kill an adult human. Its native range is England to central and southern Europe to Iran. ↩︎

  288. Enslaved children. Almost all enslaved persons on the plantation were forced to work, including the young. The tasks children were assigned included weeding, cutting grass to feed the cattle, washing clothes, and serving in the main house. ↩︎

  289. Compost. ↩︎

  290. William Lewis (bap. 1708-d. 1781) was an English physician and experimental chemist. Author of Chemical Works of Caspar Neumann, M.D. (1759). Neumann (1683-1737) was a German chemist. ↩︎

  291. The mongoose refers to a small carnivore and member of the family Herpestidae. There are many different species of mongoose, all native to the Old World. After the eighteenth century, the mongoose was purposefully introduced to the Caribbean and Pacific islands to exterminate the rat population. Because the mongoose also eats birds, amphibians, and reptiles, it has contributed to the destruction of local biodiversity on those islands and is considered an invasive species. ↩︎

  292. Most likely Argemone mexicana, the seeds of which are purgative. Also known as the Mexican prickly poppy; native to the tropical Americas. ↩︎

  293. May refer to the Zenaida dove (Zenaida aurita), a bird native to the Caribbean. ↩︎

  294. Probably Spigelia anthelmia, a plant known for its ability to rid the body of intestinal parasites, including tapeworms. Its native range is the tropical and subtropical Americas. ↩︎

  295. An endemic disease, meaning one that is habitually prevalent in a certain country or locale. ↩︎

  296. Cowitch (Mucuna pruriens), a viny plant that produces severe itching after contact with skin. Was used on sugar plantations as compost, forage, and cattle feed. Its seeds destroy intestinal parasites. Likely native to tropical Asia and possibly Africa. ↩︎

  297. Having to do with dysentery or diarrhea. ↩︎

  298. Ipecacuanha, an extract that induces vomiting and that comes from the plant Carapichea ipecacuanha, an herbal shrub whose native range is southeastern Nicaragua to Brazil. ↩︎

  299. A substance having the power to expel worms from the intestines; an anthelmintic. ↩︎

  300. Molasses, the thick, brown, uncrystallized syrup drained from raw sugar. ↩︎

  301. Bristles. ↩︎

  302. Pisum sativum, also known as the English pea, garden pea, or green pea. Native to Eurasia. ↩︎

  303. Stellaria media, a plant native to Europe. ↩︎

  304. Grainger is referring to the sensitive plant (Mimosa pudica), the leaves of which fold up when touched. It is native to the tropical Americas and became an object of fascination to European naturalists. ↩︎

  305. Mithridates (132-63 BCE) ruled Pontus in modern-day Turkey from 120-63 BCE. His attempts to expand his empire led to three wars against the Roman army. Following a mutiny by his troops, he committed suicide. ↩︎

  306. Media was the location of hot springs that the Romans called the sacred waters of Hercules. ↩︎

  307. May be Euphorbia hyssopifolia, a plant whose native range is the tropical and subtropical Americas. ↩︎

  308. A medicine long believed to be a universal antidote to poison. ↩︎

  309. Medicine in the form of a paste or preserve. ↩︎

  310. Mythical birds usually identified with kingfishers (genus Halcyon) that were believed to calm the seas in order to breed in floating nests. The phrase “Halcyon days” previously designated a fourteen-day period around the winter solstice that supposedly was the time when the ocean was becalmed by the birds. It now designates more generally a period of time in the past that was idyllic and peaceful. ↩︎

  311. Grainger is probably not referring to a specific species of fish but rather to ciguatera, a disease long associated with the consumption of predatory fish in the Caribbean. Ciguatera is a toxin produced by a marine microalgae called Gambierdiscus toxicus, and, like mercury, it becomes more concentrated in fish as they rise in the food chain. Symptoms of ciguatera include nausea, vomiting, and tingling fingers or toes. Symptoms usually go away in days or weeks but can last for years. ↩︎

  312. Also known as verbena (Verbena officinalis), an herbal shrub whose native range is the Old World to Australia. ↩︎

  313. Rheum rhabarbarum, a plant whose native range includes southern Siberia and northern and central China. Traditionally used for indigestion and bowel complaints; now commonly used as a fruit. Donum Dei means the gift of God. ↩︎

  314. The Volga is a river in western Russia that connects to the Baltic, Moscow, and Black Seas before flowing into the Caspian Sea. ↩︎

  315. Locusts, one of several species of acridids (family Acrididae) that are known for swarming and migrating and causing great damage to crops. ↩︎

  316. May be Diachlorus ferrugatus, a small biting fly native to Central America and the southeastern United States. ↩︎

  317. The red coats of British officers were dyed with cochineal. James Wolfe (1727-1759) was an English army officer. Like Grainger, he served in the Netherlands during the War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748) and during the Scottish Jacobite Rising of 1745. Appointed Major-General in North America in 1758, Wolfe is perhaps best known for defeating French general Louis-Joseph de Montcalm-Grozon, marquis de Montcalm, and the French army on the Plains of Abraham outside of Quebec city in September 1759. Wolfe was fatally wounded during the battle, but his victory brought an end to the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). ↩︎

  318. Father killer. Here, Grainger refers to parasites—and perhaps puns on the similarities between “paracide” and “parasite”—that kill the plants on which they feed (in this case, the sugarcane). Grainger may be referring to the sugarcane borer (Diatraea saccharalis), a moth native to South and Central America whose larvae bore holes in sugarcane plants and do great damage on plantations. ↩︎

  319. Augeas, king of Elis, owned the stables that Hercules cleaned in the course of completing one of his twelve labors. Grainger is comparing the labor of washing every leaf in a cane field with the labors of Hercules, who cleaned the stables by redirecting the Alpheus and Peneus rivers through them. ↩︎

  320. Sloane discusses the propagation of cochineal in his Voyage (2.208). ↩︎

  321. Kent is a county in southeastern England. ↩︎

  322. In Greek mythology, the east wind. ↩︎

  323. In Greek mythology, the north wind. ↩︎

  324. According to Gilmore, Grainger refers in these lines to the arrival of the hop aphid or Damson hop aphid (Phorodon humuli) to Kentish hop fields. These flies traveled on the wind and caused great damage to crops. ↩︎

  325. Gilmore identifies the blast as the disease that also has been called the black blight. It results from an infestation by the West Indian cane fly (Saccharosydne saccharivora). ↩︎

  326. Period of immaturity. ↩︎

  327. “It rejoices in watering, and it loves to drink the whole year round.” Adapted from Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia, Book XIII, Chapter 7. The original line reads, “Gaudet riguis totoque anno bibere, cum amet sitientia.” ↩︎

  328. According to Gilmore, Spondias purpurea. Its native range is Mexico to northern Colombia. ↩︎

  329. Ant colonies were often represented as model republics in early modern and eighteenth-century accounts because of their ability to work together for the collective good. For example, in his True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados (1657), Richard Ligon observed that he once put a pot filled with sugar in the middle of a larger dish of water to see whether the ants would be able to find and retrieve the sugar. As he reported, the ants began venturing into the water even though they could not swim, so that their dead bodies could form a bridge for the others to use to access the sugar. The ants thereby “neglect[ed] their lives for the good of the publique” (64). ↩︎

  330. According to Gilmore, the panspan or hog plum is Spondias mombin. Its native range is Mexico to the tropical Americas. ↩︎

  331. A person appointed by a king or other ruler to act in his place. ↩︎

  332. Titan goddess who was the daughter of Gaia and the wife of her brother Kronos. The mother of the second generation of Greek gods, including Zeus, Hera, Demeter, Hades, Hestia, and Poseidon. ↩︎

  333. Latin name for the south wind. ↩︎

  334. Greek poet (8th-century BCE), author of the Iliad and the Odyssey↩︎

  335. Useless, unprofitable. ↩︎

  336. In a 5 June 1762 letter to his friend Bishop Thomas Percy, Grainger notes that he had almost finished writing The Sugar-Cane and that this set-piece on the hurricane was one of the last sections that needed to be completed: “You may remember I some time ago mentioned my being engaged in a work of some length and difficulty. Lately I completed it, at least for the present, though no less than a Georgic, and in four books too. It is called the ‘Cane Piece,’ and was composed mostly in my rides to the different parts of the island to visit my patients. I now send you the whole; only as I have seen no hurricane, and have not yet had time to arrange my remarks on a fire by night in a cane field, those parts in the second book are incomplete” (Nichols 278). ↩︎

  337. welkin. Sky, firmament. ↩︎

  338. Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano, located in Sicily. ↩︎

  339. Grainger is using astrological signs to designate peak hurricane season. The Virgin names Virgo, the sixth sign of the zodiac; the sun enters it in mid-August and exits it in mid-September. Libra is the seventh sign of the zodiac; the sun enters it in mid-September and exits it in mid-October. Scorpio is the eight sign of the zodiac; the sun enters it in mid-October and exits it in mid-November. ↩︎

  340. House. ↩︎

  341. Van is a vantage, height, or summit. The royal palm (Roystonea oleracea) can reach forty meters in height and is native to the Lesser Antilles, northern South America, and Guatemala. ↩︎

  342. Scowling, angry-looking, gloomy. ↩︎

  343. Knowledgeable. ↩︎

  344. Polaris, the pole star or North Star. ↩︎

  345. Engines of war, artillery. ↩︎

  346. According to Gilmore, an approximate quotation of “and the orb below/As hush as death” (Shakespeare, Hamlet 2.2.485-486). ↩︎

  347. Theodorus may be the Samian architect active c. 550–520 BCE. ↩︎

  348. Vibratory or quivering flashes of light; lightning. ↩︎

  349. Grainger refers to the unsuitability of some Old World plants to the tropical Caribbean climate. Europeans nevertheless transplanted as many familiar Old World plants as they could to the Caribbean and, in doing so, transformed its ecology. They transplanted animals and diseases as well. This transplantation process is now known as the Columbian Exchange and included the movement of plants, animals, and diseases in both directions across the Atlantic. ↩︎

  350. Refers to the doldrums, also called intertropical convergence zones, where prevailing (or trade) winds disappear and ships become immobile for days on end. ↩︎

  351. Sour, acidic. ↩︎

  352. This is a typographical error that would be corrected to “astonish’d” in the 1766 London edition of the poem. ↩︎

  353. An astringent mineral salt. ↩︎

  354. The coconut palm (Cocos nucifera), which is native to coastal areas of Melanesia and Southeast Asia, has great powers of natural disperal since its nuts (the coconuts) can survive up to 120 days in seawater. Nevertheless, it is believed that Europeans introduced the coconut palm to the Caribbean in the sixteenth century. ↩︎

  355. Grainger is describing a tsunami or tidal wave. ↩︎

  356. From here to the end of Book II, Grainger tells the fictional love story of Junio and Theana. The story itself is conventional, borrowing from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, as well as the story of Inkle and Yarico, first told by Richard Ligon in A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados (1657) and retold as a sentimental tale in Joseph Addison and Richard Steele’s The Spectator (No. 11, 13 March 1711). ↩︎

  357. It was common practice for planters to send their children to Britain for education. Many of the children who were sent there, however, never returned to the Caribbean. ↩︎

  358. The Thames river. Here, used to mean England. ↩︎

  359. Eton, a prestigious English boarding school for boys founded in the fifteenth century. ↩︎

  360. Egyptian goddess associated with agriculture and marriage. Isis was eventually apropriated into Greek and Roman mythology, becoming a common figure in eighteenth-century British poetry. In the context of these lines, Isis is used as a name for the Thames as it passes through Oxford. ↩︎

  361. A theoretical climatic zone lying between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer; the tropics. The ancients believed that the torrid zone was uninhabitable. While the colonization of the Caribbean proved otherwise, many continued to believe that the tropics could induce what they called degeneration or the degradation of bodies and faculties. Furthermore, the fear of degeneration was intertwined with theories of geographic and racial difference, since it was usually argued that New World forms of nature, including human beings, were inferior to Old World ones and that Europeans hence would become inferior by inhabiting the Americas. ↩︎

  362. Also arak, an alcohol distilled from the fermented sap of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). ↩︎

  363. The Orinoco river, which passes through modern Colombia and Venezuala. ↩︎

  364. Chile. ↩︎

  365. The Maldives archipelago, which is in the Indian Ocean. Now the Republic of Maldives. ↩︎

  366. Possibly jaggery, a coarse, dark brown sugar made by evaporation from the sap of various kinds of palm. ↩︎

  367. Distilled liquor. ↩︎

  368. The coca plant, the source of cocaine. Two species of coca are now in cultivation: Erythroxylum coca, whose native range is western South America, and Erythroxylum novogranatense, whose native range is Colombia to northwestern Venezuela and Peru. ↩︎

  369. The sapodilla (Manilkara zapota), also known as the nasebery or nispero, is a sour or tart fruit whose native range includes Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. ↩︎

  370. Sheen is the old name for what is now the London borough of Richmond upon Thames. According to Gilmore, Sheen’s royal walks probably refers to Richmond Park, a royal park. ↩︎

  371. Bishop Thomas Percy (1729-1811) was an English cleric, writer, and translator. Grainger’s friend and frequent correspondent, he was best known for the Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765), published by James and Richard Dodsley, who also published The Sugar-Cane. Furthermore, the Reliques contains a poem by Grainger entitled “Bryan and Pereene. A West-Indian Ballad,” a tragic love story whose plot mirrors that of the story of Junio and Theana. ↩︎

  372. Greek god of marriage. ↩︎

  373. Educated or learned climes. In addition to describing the practice of Caribbean planters sending their children to Britain for their education, this line refers to the “grand tour,” during which individuals would complete their education by visiting mainland Europe’s (and especially Italy’s) cultural capitals. ↩︎

  374. France. ↩︎

  375. A golden age in classical mythology. ↩︎

  376. Southern Italy. ↩︎

  377. Also known as the Venus de’ Medici, a first-century BCE marble sculpture of Venus. It was housed in the Villa Medici in Rome before being transferred to Florence in the late seventeenth century. The sculpture was widely admired across Western Europe. ↩︎

  378. Gilmore identifies the Po as the ship that Grainger traveled on to reach St. Kitts in 1759. ↩︎

  379. An inlet of the Atlantic Ocean to the west of France and the north of Spain; affected by strong currents and storms. ↩︎

  380. River in southwest France that empties into the Bay of Biscay near Rochefort; the site of an important French naval base. ↩︎

  381. The "Errata" list at the end of The Sugar-Cane indicates that “sky” should read “air.” ↩︎

  382. Either end of the yard of a square-rigged ship. The yard is a spar slung across a mast to support and extend a square sail. ↩︎

  383. Atlantic Bonito (Sarda sarda). Fish related to the tuna and mackerel whose range extends from Norway to South Africa in the eastern Atlantic (including the Mediterranean and the Black Sea) and from Nova Scotia to the northern Gulf of Mexico in the western Atlantic. ↩︎

  384. The nautilus is the Portuguese man-of-war or man o’ war (Physalia physalis), a highly toxic relative of the jellyfish. It is called the man-of-war for its resemblance to an eighteenth-century warship under full sail. Also, the “Errata” list for The Sugar-Cane indicates that lines 505 and 506 should read instead, “The fring’d urtica spreads her purple form/To catch the gale, and dances o’er the waves:”. ↩︎

  385. Flying fish, which are small fish of the Exocoetidae family that glide above the water to escape predators. The strongest fish can “fly” nearly 200 meters in one glide. ↩︎

  386. The dolphin fish, dorado, or mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus), which is widespread in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, as well as in the Mediterranean. ↩︎

  387. Sharks (clade Selachimorpha) were notorious for following slave ships across the Atlantic, since slavers threw those individuals who died during the voyage overboard. Slavers also used sharks to terrorize their captives and subdue rebellious behavior. For example, one captain facing the prospect of suicides among his captives decided to lower a woman into the water, where she was bitten in half (Rediker 40). ↩︎

  388. The "Errata" list at the end of The Sugar-Cane indicates that “nautilus” should read “urtica.” ↩︎

  389. Albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga), which is found in tropical and temperate waters of all the oceans, including the Mediterranean. Now a threatened species due to overfishing. ↩︎

  390. Perhaps the tropic bird (any seabird of the family Phaethontidae) or the frigate bird (any seabird of the family Fregatidae), both of which prey on flying fish. ↩︎

  391. One of the Lesser Antilles; colonized by the English in 1627. Gained independence in 1966. ↩︎

  392. Although he uses the term tropic bird, Grainger means the frigate bird, which was famed for its wide wingspan and ability to remain airborne for weeks. ↩︎

  393. Lightning. ↩︎

  394. A swift horse, a racer. ↩︎

  395. Cultivated fields. ↩︎

  396. January. ↩︎

  397. The china-root plant, Smilax china, which is valued for its medicinal properties. Its native range extends from China to Japan and the Philippines. Whether Smilax china grew in the eighteenth-century Caribbean is unclear. The genus Smilax contains approximately 350 species, which are sometimes difficult to distinguish from each other. Today, the species Smilax viscifolia is commonly known as “China root” in Jamaica. ↩︎

  398. Refers to various species of the genus Smilax native to Central and South America. Spanish conquistadors named it zarzaparilla and learned from indigenous peoples to use it as an antisyphilitic. Also used to flavor drinks, including root beer in the nineteenth century. Grainger may have been referring to the species Smilax regelii, known as “Jamaica sarsaparilla.” ↩︎

  399. The new year was generally considered crop time, a period of intense activity when cane was harvested, milled, and prepared for export. ↩︎

  400. Refers to Samuel Martin (1694/5-1776), an Antiguan-born British plantation owner and author of Essay upon Plantership, which was first published in Antigua around 1750 and then in several more editions before the end of the eighteenth century. The Essay contains Martin’s recommendations for plantation management and covers topics ranging from the planting and harvesting of cane to the regulation of enslaved labor. ↩︎

  401. Bad temper or a melancholy temperament. ↩︎

  402. Informal education provided by experience in nature or the wilderness, rather than in the classroom. ↩︎

  403. The hard, dense wood of the guaiac tree (Guaiacum officinale or Guaiacum sanctum, both of which have native ranges that include the Caribbean). Lignum vitae (“wood of life”) was used to treat a variety of diseases, including syphilis and yaws. ↩︎

  404. Gout is metabolic arthritis, frequently in the joints of the large toe, resulting in painful inflammations caused by deposits of uric acid crystals. Palsy is paralysis of the skeletal muscles. Sciatica is irritation or inflammation of the sciatic nerve. It causes severe pain from the lower back to the legs. Obstructions are blocks in any tubular organ or structure, (i.e., an intestinal bowel blockage, which causes vomiting, distension, and abdominal pain). ↩︎

  405. Cane cultivation is a year-round affair that nevertheless has distinct rhythms, which arise from the fact that cane can take 15-24 months to mature. ↩︎

  406. A reference to arson. Grainger does not specify who the arsonists might be, but this is one of several places where he hints at moments of enslaved resistance on Caribbean plantations. For more on this section of the poem and related passages, see “Fire” on this site. ↩︎

  407. Palaemon, also known as Melicertes, was a Greco-Roman sea-god. According to one legend, the goddess Juno killed Melicertes by boiling him in a cauldron; in another, Juno drove Ino, Melicertes’ mother, and Melicertes mad, causing them to throw themselves into the Saronic Gulf, whereupon they were changed into marine deities. Ino became Leucothea, and Melicertes was renamed Palaemon. ↩︎

  408. A mythic water snake whose multiple heads could regenerate if severed. Hercules killed the hydra as the second of his twelve Labors. The term also signifies a difficult task. ↩︎

  409. Bagasse refers to the crushed sugarcane stalks that are the byproduct of milling cane. Rich in cellulose, bagasse can be used as fuel to boil cane syrup and as cattle feed. ↩︎

  410. Windmill sails. ↩︎

  411. In An Essay on the More Common West-India Diseases (1764), Grainger writes that enslaved laborers “should not only be allowed to drink what quantity of the cane juice they think proper, but even obliged to drink it” during crop time (10). However, planters sometimes inflicted severe punishments when the enslaved ate or consumed sugarcane. For example, the eighteenth-century Jamaican planter Thomas Thistlewood punished an enslaved African named Egypt for eating sugarcane by whipping him and giving him “Derby’s dose,” a phrase Thistlewood used to refer to the act of having one enslaved African defecate in another’s mouth (Hall 73). ↩︎

  412. Cane juice begins to spoil as soon as the plant is cut. As a result, planters preferred to run their mills and boiling houses around the clock during crop time. ↩︎

  413. The morning star or the planet Venus when found in the sky before sunrise. ↩︎

  414. Sugarcane turns yellow when it is ripe. ↩︎

  415. Sugarcane buds. To produce new sugarcane, sugarcane stalks with buds on them were planted in the ground. ↩︎

  416. The georgic poet John Dyer was living in Lincolnshire at the time of his death. Grainger also refers to the fact that Lincoln was a center of wool production. The Lincoln longwool is a breed of sheep known for its copious and heavy white fleece. ↩︎

  417. The practice of branding sheep. Although he does not make an explicit comparison between the treatment of animals and human beings, this passage recalls the fact that enslaved persons were branded with the marks of their enslavers. See Gilmore, who credits Tobias Döring with this insight. ↩︎

  418. This is one of several places in the poem where Grainger shrinks from the violence of plantation slavery. ↩︎

  419. Grainger refers here to the common practice of enslaved laborers singing while working in the cane fields. The songs were sung in part to help establish a rhythm and pace for the work being performed, and planters also saw them as helping to lighten the burden of the labor being performed. In short, they saw music and singing as making work more pleasant and thereby ensuring compliance with the regime of plantation discipline. At the same time, the songs sung during field work often seem to have contained coded or even overt criticisms of planters and plantation discipline. For example, the Gloucestershire Archives in Britain recently uncovered an eighteenth-century slave song from Barbados that contained the lyrics, “Massa buy me he won’t killa me/Oh_ Massa buy me he won’t killa me/Oh Massa buy me he won’t kill a me/Oh ‘for he kill me he ship me regular” (see “Song of slaves in Barbados”). A recording of the song by the Christ Faith Tabernacle of Gloucester also highlights the song’s minor key, which imbues it with a sorrowful and tragic dimension. ↩︎

  420. The Annan is a river in Dumfries and Galloway, a unitary council area in southern Scotland near the border with England. During the 1332 Battle of Annan at the outset of the Second War of Scottish Independence (1332-1357), Sir Archibald Douglas attacked Edward Balliol and his army at Annan. Escaping just before being captured, Balliol is said to have fled naked to England. ↩︎

  421. Bagpipes. ↩︎

  422. The dog star is another name for Sirius, brightest star in the constellation Canis Major. Sirius rises in conjunction with the sun from July 3 to August 11, which are known as the “dog days” of summer. ↩︎

  423. Grinders in sugar mills tended to be vertical cylinders that crushed cane stalks as they were turned. ↩︎

  424. Milling cane was a dangerous activity, and it was not uncommon for enslaved millers to catch body parts between the rollers. Whether mills were powered by wind, water, or muscle, it was unlikely that the rollers could be stopped instantaneously. Instead, Grainger encourages planters to supply their mills with axes so that injured limbs could be amputated without delay. ↩︎

  425. To put a windmill “out of the wind” is to stop the mill by turning the sails so that they no longer catch the wind. ↩︎

  426. To free from slavery. Here, Grainger criticizes planters who manumit the enslaved who are too old or too injured to work. Implicit in this criticism is that such manumitted persons, though free, were abandoned to care for themselves. ↩︎

  427. The contamination of good cane juice with spoiled juice. ↩︎

  428. Vulcan, the Roman god of fire. Grainger refers to flame being used in the distillation of rum. ↩︎

  429. Also Amphitrite, wife of Poseidon and a sea goddess. In his note, Grainger describes the benefit of adding seawater to rum during the distillation process. ↩︎

  430. From Book 4 of Homer’s Odyssey, Nepenthe was a drug that made Helen forget her sorrow. ↩︎

  431. Wife of Thone, an Egyptian king. In Homer’s Odyssey, Polydamna gives Helen nepenthe. ↩︎

  432. Helen was said to be the most beautiful woman in ancient Greece. Paris abducted her from Menelaus, thus leading to the siege of Troy. ↩︎

  433. A sail designed so that it does not overfill with wind. ↩︎

  434. The informer is the sun, and the planetary train is the movement of the planets across the sky. Gilmore identifies the source of this quotation as James Thomson’s The Seasons (1730). ↩︎

  435. Attend, wait upon. ↩︎

  436. A hogshead was a large cask used to hold and ship sugar. One hogshead of sugar weighed about 1500 lbs. Thus, 30,000 hogsheads represents more than 20,000 tons. ↩︎

  437. A watershed in Antigua. ↩︎

  438. An island located northeast of Trinidad and southeast of Grenada. Now part of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. ↩︎

  439. Calophyllum antillanum is a hardwood tree whose native range includes Central America and the Caribbean. ↩︎

  440. An ancient measurement of length derived from the forearm, usually about 18-22 inches. ↩︎

  441. The naval shipworm (Teredo navalis) is a mollusc that burrows into underwater timbers on piers and ships. It was particularly destructive to the British or English oak (Quercus robur), which was long used in shipbuilding, including by the British navy. The English oak is native to Britain. ↩︎

  442. An adjustable beam that supports the spindle of the runner or upper stone in a grain mill. ↩︎

  443. An island that now forms part of the US Virgin Islands. ↩︎

  444. Isla de Vieques, a part of Puerto Rico that lies immediately east of the main island. ↩︎

  445. Also capoose, capouse. Cone-shaped pivots upon which the rollers of the sugar mill turned. ↩︎

  446. Arms attached to and driving the central shaft of the mill. ↩︎

  447. The "Errata" list at the end of The Sugar-Cane indicates that “thro’” should read “through.” ↩︎

  448. Much of the plumbing used in sugar production and distillation was made of (or lined with) lead. A common side effect of excessive rum consumption in the eighteenth century was lead poisoning, which often manifested in severe stomach aches (dry gripes or colic). ↩︎

  449. Freed from impurities, cleansed. ↩︎

  450. A dark brown, unrefined sugar that was typically the end product of the sugar-making process in the Caribbean. Often described as unrefined since it was usually processed further in Britain and lightened in color before being sold to consumers. ↩︎

  451. Also stanchion, an upright bar, stay, prop, or support. ↩︎

  452. Sebastian Cabot (c. 1481/2-1557) was a Venetian navigator and cartographer who explored the North Atlantic and traveled down the northeastern coast of North America, perhaps as far south as Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, in 1508-1509. He also led an expedition in 1526 that was supposed to reach Asia but went no further than Brazil. Cabot’s place of birth is unclear. Although generally acknowledged as Venice, it might also have been Bristol (late in life, Cabot himself claimed to have been born in Bristol). ↩︎

  453. Scattered, spread. ↩︎

  454. In Greek mythology, Machaon was a physician and the son of Asclepius, a god of healing. ↩︎

  455. Henry VII (1457-1509) was the first Tudor king of England. He succeeded Richard III, ending the Wars of the Roses, and was himself followed by his son, Henry VIII. ↩︎

  456. Now a township in New Jersey. ↩︎

  457. Farcy is a disease of animals, especially of horses. Tabid (or tabetic) is to be wasted by disease, corrupted. ↩︎

  458. Colic or painful stomach contractions. ↩︎

  459. Incessant. ↩︎

  460. Guadeloupe. In 1759, as part of the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), British forces attacked and forced the surrender of the French colony of Guadeloupe. ↩︎

  461. Martinique. The French colony of Martinique surrendered to British forces in February 1762. ↩︎

  462. The "Errata" list at the end of The Sugar-Cane indicates that “thro’” should read “through.” ↩︎

  463. According to Gilmore, refers to Robert Marsham, 2nd Baron Romney (1712-1793), who married Priscilla Pym, the heiress of the St. Kitts planter Charles Pym. ↩︎

  464. Havana, the capital of Cuba, which the British took in 1762 during the Seven Years’ War. ↩︎

  465. Prize for speech. In the ancient Greek Olympics, winners were awarded palm fronds. ↩︎

  466. Kent faces France. ↩︎

  467. Working conditions in the boiling house were extremely difficult, and only the strongest of the enslaved were assigned there. Tasks included stoking the fires to boil the sugarcane juice and skimming or removing the impurities that rose to the top. Being a boiler was more than merely physical work, however: it also required considerable technical and practical knowledge about the process of sugar production and refinement, and enslavers depended heavily on their head refiners or boilers for good yields of sugar from their crops. ↩︎

  468. Cancer is the fourth sign of the zodiac; the sun enters it in mid-June and exits it in mid-July. Cancer is also a water sign and a cardinal sign that indicates a change of season. ↩︎

  469. To wash. ↩︎

  470. Cold. ↩︎

  471. When Grainger refers to a chemist, he does not mean a modern chemist but someone who is skilled in the art of mixing compounds. Sugar production depended on technical knowledge about the heating of sugar, as well as about the addition of catalysts and other ingredients to the cane juice to rid it of impurities. ↩︎

  472. An accumulation of fluid in the soft tissue of the body. The modern term is edema (or oedema). ↩︎

  473. Lung infections or diseases. ↩︎

  474. Ventilation provided by air blowing through a space. ↩︎

  475. Experience. ↩︎

  476. A viscous liquid made from plant material. ↩︎

  477. Eighteenth-century scientists studying the composition of plants posited that they contained essential salts or acids and minerals obtained by the crystallization of plant juices. ↩︎

  478. Acidic or sour substance. ↩︎

  479. “The cups contain no death.” ↩︎

  480. The poison Grainger refers to is curare, an extract obtained from the bark of South American trees of the genera Strychnos and Chondrodendron that relaxes and paralyzes voluntary muscles. Curare’s use as an arrow poison was reported by Europeans from their earliest encounters with Amerindians in South America. ↩︎

  481. Charles-Marie de La Condamine (1701-1774), a French scientist, participated with Ulloa in a geodesic mission to the equator in Peru to measure the earth’s true shape. After the mission was completed, La Condamine published the Relation abrégée d’un voyage fait dans l’intérieur de l’Amérique méridionale (1745) and Journal du voyage fait par ordre du roi a l’équateur (1751). ↩︎

  482. Dieffenbachia seguine. The dumb cane looks very similar to sugarcane, and colonists often would eat it, mistaking it for the sugarcane. The dumb cane contains a poisonous sap, however, that swells the tongues of those who consume it and prevents them from speaking for several hours. Its native range is the Caribbean and tropical South America. ↩︎

  483. Grainger is referring to Thomas Trapham, author of A Discourse of the State of Health in the Island of Jamaica (1679). ↩︎

  484. Also alkalescent. Tending to become alkaline (having a pH greater than 7). ↩︎

  485. Also Xanthippe. Wife of Socrates (5th–4th c. BCE), often described as bad tempered. ↩︎

  486. Casks or barrels. ↩︎

  487. Limestone is a rock that yields lime when calcined or burnt. Lime was used in Grainger’s time to refine sugar: when boiled with sugar, lime precipitated impurities. ↩︎

  488. Bristol became a center for sugar refining in part because it had ample supplies of limestone. ↩︎

  489. A line from William Whitehead’s poem, “An Hymn to the Nymph of Bristol Spring” (1751). ↩︎

  490. Avon refers to the Bristol Avon, a river in southwest England. It is different from Shakespeare’s Avon. Sugar houses or refineries lined the Avon in the eighteenth century, as access to water was crucial during the refining process. ↩︎

  491. A poetic name for the River Severn, which is Britain’s longest river and empties into the Bristol Channel. ↩︎

  492. A metamorphic rock formed by applying great heat and pressure to limestone. ↩︎

  493. Daughter of King Acrisius of Argos and Queen Eurydice, also mother of Perseus by Zeus, who impregnated Danae in the form of a shower of gold. ↩︎

  494. Bermuda was colonized by the English in the early seventeenth century and is now an overseas territory of Britain in the north Atlantic. ↩︎

  495. Edmund Waller (1606-1687), English poet and politician and author of “The Battle of the Summer Islands” (1645), a mock-heroic set in Bermuda. ↩︎

  496. The "Errata" list at the end of The Sugar-Cane indicates that “weighed” should read “weigh’d.” ↩︎

  497. Could refer to a fermented but undistilled molasses drink; also could refer to rum. ↩︎

  498. Also Ganga, a river that flows through India and Bangladesh. ↩︎

  499. Grainger criticizes the French, whom he accuses of doctoring their sugar by adding sand to it. ↩︎

  500. A mean-spirited, rich man who appears as a character in Richard Steele’s The Tatler (1709-1711). ↩︎

  501. The Thames, another major site for sugar refining in the eighteenth century. ↩︎

  502. The thick syrup or scum produced during the sugar-boiling step of refining. ↩︎

  503. Choice foods, viands, or delicacies. ↩︎

  504. Also bayard. A bay horse or mule. ↩︎

  505. The theme of pleasurable labor is central to the georgic. Here, Grainger’s narrator experiences labor as pleasurable after he has drunk rum, which is an end product of enslaved labor. ↩︎

  506. The Marne is a French tributary of the Seine that flows through the Champagne region in northeastern France. Wines have been made there since the Roman era, but most champagnes were still wines until the mid-nineteenth century, when sparkling wines became popular. The Tille is a river in Burgundy, a major wine-producing region in France. ↩︎

  507. Vigornian is the Latin name for Worcester, a center of cider production in England. ↩︎

  508. State or habit of being intoxicated, drunk. ↩︎

  509. In this line, Grainger lists literary figures he knew from his time in London. Johnson is Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), one of the most important English writers of the eighteenth century. His works include a Dictionary (1755) of the English language, Rasselas (1759), A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland (1775), and The Lives of the Poets (1779-1781). Johnson also was a prolific essayist, publishing a series of 208 essays entitled The Rambler (1750-1752). Johnson reviewed The Sugar-Cane in the London Chronicle (Jul 1764) and the Critical Review (Oct 1764). What Johnson actually thought of Grainger’s poem is unclear. While both of his published reviews of the poem are largely positive, the later one in the Critical Review contains a rebuke of Grainger’s depiction of the slave trade. For Johnson’s rebuke, see our note for lines 74-77 in Book IV (the lines that Johnson objected to). Percy is the already mentioned Bishop Thomas Percy, Grainger’s frequent correspondent. The identity of White was confusing to eighteenth-century readers. In a letter dated 9 May 1801, written to Percy by his friend Robert Anderson, the latter states that “[s]everal passages [in Grainger’s poem] want illustration, which probably you can give,” and he then asks, “Who is ‘White’?” In his reply, Percy clarifies, “White, was Mr. James White a native of Edinburgh, who resided in London and taught the learned Languages viz. Latin and Greek to Grown Gentlemen whose Education had been neglected.” Percy adds that White authored a translation of Aristophanes’ The Clouds (1759) and a grammatical text entitled The English Verb (1761). White died circa 1811 (Anderson 9.59, 9.67-68, 9.269). ↩︎

  510. Charlotte Lennox (1730/1731?-1804), British writer best known for the novel The Female Quixote, or, The Adventures of Arabella (1752). A close friend of Samuel Johnson. ↩︎

  511. Calpe refers to one of the Pillars of Hercules in Greek mythology, now known as the Rock of Gibraltar. ↩︎

  512. Paeon is a Greek god of healing, also known as Paean. By Paeon’s son, Grainger is referring to himself. ↩︎

  513. Unskilled or unrefined poetry. ↩︎

  514. The sandbox tree (Hura crepitans) gets its name from its seed pods, which, when dried, were used as sandboxes for blotting ink. Apart from being quite tall, the sandbox tree is peculiar for two other reasons: its leaves, bark, and sap are poisonous, and, when ripe, its seed pods open with loud, explosive sounds, flinging their seeds at speeds exceeding 100 mph. Its native range is the tropical Americas. ↩︎

  515. Dwellings of the enslaved. ↩︎

  516. According to Gilmore, the panspan or hog plum is Spondias mombin. Its native range is Mexico to the tropical Americas. The pawpaw is better known as the papaya (Carica papaya). Its native range is southern Mexico to Venezuela. ↩︎

  517. Preserved or candied fruits. ↩︎

  518. To make tender, soften. ↩︎

  519. Ringworm, or tinea, is the name given to a fungal infection of the skin, scalp, or nails that produces lesions in the shape of partial or complete rings. It spreads by direct contact or through infected materials. ↩︎

  520. In Greco-Roman mythology, Iris was the daughter of the Titan Thaumas and the Oceanid Electra and sometimes cited as the wife of Zephyrus, the west wind. Her name in Greek means rainbow. The goddess Juno took her to serve as her handmaid. ↩︎

  521. “Hesperian throats” refers to the Hesperides, the daughters of Night and Erebus who guarded the tree of golden apples given by Hera to earth. They also were renowned for their singing. Because the tree was popularly located beyond the Atlas mountains at the western border of the Ocean, Hesperian can mean western. When referring to a specific geographic location, it designates Italy or Spain. ↩︎

  522. Of the spring. ↩︎

  523. Larks are any of several small birds of the family Alaudidae. Renowned for their singing and mostly found in the Old World, larks are also conventionally associated with the dawn. ↩︎

  524. Anthelmintic (also anthelminthic, antihelminthic) drugs are used to expel or kill parasitic worms, especially intestinal ones. ↩︎

  525. By the time Grainger wrote The Sugar-Cane, there was a long-standing tradition in European literature of using insects to represent moral, religious, and philosophical ideas. ↩︎

  526. Grainger refers here either to the common practice of absentee plantership, in which plantation owners lived in Britain and managed their plantations from afar, or to the equally common practice of sending children of planters to Britain for education. ↩︎

  527. Metropolitan British attitudes toward creoles were inevitably condescending, regardless of how wealthy planters were. Grainger himself looked down upon creoles when he lived in St. Kitts. Writing to his friend Bishop Thomas Percy on 5 June 1762, Grainger noted that “reading, I assure you, is the least part of a Creole’s consideration. It is even happy if they can read at all; Spell few of them can; and when they take up a book, modern romance, magazines or newspapers are the extent of their lucubrations” (Nichols 278). ↩︎

  528. Bellona, the Roman goddess of war. Once again, Grainger is referencing the Seven Years’ War. ↩︎

  529. A one-handed snare drum often played as a military instrument. ↩︎

  530. George Townshend, first Marquess Townshend (1724-1807), an English politician and caricaturist who also had a distinguished military career, serving as second in command to Major-General James Wolfe in Canada during the Seven Years’ War and then as overall commander after Wolfe’s death during the campaign to take French-held Quebec, which surrendered to British forces in 1759. ↩︎

  531. Probably refers to a failed attempt in 1759 by French forces to invade Britain. ↩︎

  532. Tyrtaeus was a Spartan poet of the mid-seventh century BCE who wrote about the Second Messenian War and exhorted Spartans to fight to the death for their city. Sparta was a powerful city-state in ancient Greece. ↩︎

  533. The pineapple (Ananas comosus) originated in Central or South America. It was brought by Amerindians to the Caribbean (Higman 188). ↩︎

  534. Apicius, a name used for several Roman connoisseurs of luxury but especially Marcus Gavius Apicius, a gourmet who lived during the reign of Tiberius (CE 14-37). He exhausted his fortune on feasts and committed suicide rather than economize. ↩︎

  535. Probably refers to the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), the only species of turtle indigenous to the Caribbean that has served as a significant food source for human beings. ↩︎

  536. Jew-fish, the Atlantic goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara). A large sporting and food fish of warm coastal waters. Its range includes the Caribbean, the Atlantic, and the Pacific. Now a critically endangered species. Because it is not clear if the name Jewfish invokes a history of anti-Semitic associations, it was officially changed in 2001 by the American Fisheries Society to Atlantic goliath grouper. ↩︎

  537. Also known as the king mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla), which is found in the western Atlantic from Massachusetts to Brazil. ↩︎

  538. Cambria is the Latin name for Wales. ↩︎

  539. Scotia is the Latin name for Scotland. ↩︎

  540. Plants of the genus Thymus, native to Greenland, Eurasia, and northeastern tropical Africa. ↩︎

  541. A small island near Antigua and now part of the nation of Antigua and Barbuda. ↩︎

  542. Anguilla is a British overseas territory and the most northerly of the Leeward Islands. ↩︎

  543. Lusitania (now modern Portugal) was an ancient region of western Iberia inhabited by the Lusitani but also by other peoples, including Celtic tribes. ↩︎

  544. A major river that flows through Germany. Rieslings are the best-known Rhenish wines. ↩︎

  545. Refers to the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), a series of wars that eventually enveloped most of continental Europe and included the Franco-Hapsburg War (1635-1648), which was fought in part along the Rhine. ↩︎

  546. Christopher Codrington (1668-1710) was born in Barbados and belonged to the wealthy Codrington family, which owned sugar plantations in Antigua and Barbados and leased land in Barbuda. Codrington served as deputy-governor of Barbados and governor-general of the Leeward Islands. At his death in 1710, he bequeathed his Barbados plantations and a share of the island of Barbuda to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), an Anglican missionary organization that aimed to convert colonial inhabitants, including enslaved and free Africans, to Christianity. In 1745, the SPG opened Codrington College, which initially served only white colonists. ↩︎

  547. The War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748), during which a French force unsuccessfully tried to invade Anguilla in 1745. ↩︎

  548. Gilmore identifies Pope’s Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid as the source of the phrase “Stage above stage.” ↩︎

  549. Gilmore identifies John Philips’s Cyder as the source of this quotation. In these final lines of Book III, Grainger compares the Caribbean to Europe and enjoins scientists and natural philosophers to explore and learn about the New World’s vast natural resources. As he does in his preface to the poem, he suggests that the pursuit of knowledge is a good in its own right and ought to take precedence over the more mundane pursuit of wealth. ↩︎

  550. Here, Grainger is using genius in the sense of a supernatural being or guardian spirit associated with a place, institution, or thing. “Genius of Africk” thus means something like the spirit of Africa. ↩︎

  551. The combination of an elephant and a castle (often with the castle on the elephant’s back) is an old heraldic sign. Grainger may be calling on the image of Hannibal’s elephants during the Second Punic War (218-201 BCE). ↩︎

  552. The Niger river. One of Africa’s largest rivers. Its source lies in modern Guinea, and it empties into the Atlantic Ocean in Nigeria. ↩︎

  553. Papaya. ↩︎

  554. Major estuary in modern Guinea-Bissau. ↩︎

  555. Most likely the Senegal river, which empties into the Atlantic ocean at St. Louis on Senegal’s northern border with Mauritania. There is a Sanaga river that empties into the Gulf of Guinea just south of Douala in modern Cameroon, but this appears to have been called the Cameroon or Camarones river prior to the mid-nineteenth century. ↩︎

  556. Braid. ↩︎

  557. Despite the fact that The Sugar-Cane is unequivocally pro-slavery, Grainger affects a tone of regret and sympathy for the enslaved in these opening lines of Book IV. ↩︎

  558. By invoking a singular “race of man,” Grainger seems to promote the theory of monogenesis. Supporters of monogenesis believed, in keeping with the creation story of Genesis, that all human beings had descended from a common ancestor. According to the alternate theory of polygenesis, different races represented different species, each descended from different ancestors. In the eighteenth century, the concept of polygenesis was often used to argue for the relative superiority and inferiority of races and to support slavery. ↩︎

  559. Caribbe’s. The Caribbean’s. ↩︎

  560. Not the modern nation of Libya but the Libyan desert in the eastern Sahara. Grainger uses “Lybia” and “Lybians” several times in Book IV of The Sugar-Cane to signify Africa and Africans. ↩︎

  561. Laurel (bay leaf) crown, often associated with poetic achievement. ↩︎

  562. By Sylvan bard, Grainger literally means poet from the wilderness. Grainger seems to be referring to himself insofar as he was writing from the Caribbean rather than from metropolitan London. ↩︎

  563. Robert Melville (1723-1809), Scottish army officer and colonial governor. Like Grainger, he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh before joining the British army and fighting in the War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748). During the Seven Years’ War, he fought in the Caribbean, becoming temporary governor of Guadeloupe after defeating the French and then governor of Grenada, Tobago, Dominica, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines in 1764. He was also the founder of the St. Vincent botanic garden, which became a major scientific research station later in the eighteenth century. ↩︎

  564. Grainger’s invocation of an Indian wreath further makes the point that the poem is a product of the Caribbean. ↩︎

  565. Jetty means jet black. Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British writers often used the terms “jetty” or “jet” when describing what they saw as the idealized beauty of exceptional Africans. See, for example, Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko: Or, the Royal Slave (1688), where the narrator describes Oroonoko as having skin of “perfect Ebony, or polish’d Jett” (Behn 13). ↩︎

  566. Grainger indicates that he is going to distinguish Africans by what he considers to be their different mental abilities and aptitudes for work. As such, he is taking on the perspective of the slave trader or buyer, who made judgments about Africans based on similar considerations. ↩︎

  567. Kingdom in southwest Africa north of Angola and near the modern Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). ↩︎

  568. Zaire or Congo river. The second longest river in Africa, it drains into the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of the DRC. ↩︎

  569. Grainger recommends that enslaved persons from the Congo be assigned specific trades rather than being forced to work as field laborers. ↩︎

  570. Malleable, flexible. ↩︎

  571. The “Errata” list at the end of The Sugar-Cane indicates that “art” should read “want.” ↩︎

  572. Term used by Europeans to define one of the four major trading regions on the West African coast. Although it is difficult to establish the borders of these regions with exactitude, they included the Grain Coast (roughly corresponding to modern Sierra Leone and Liberia), the Ivory Coast (modern Côte d’Ivoire), the Gold Coast (modern Ghana), and the Slave Coast (modern Togo, Benin, and Nigeria). British slave ships often made port on the Cape Verde islands off the coast of modern Senegal before sailing down the coast of Africa, trading goods along the way. Once they had rounded the Bight of Benin, they turned west and followed the equator past the island of Saint Thomas (São Tomé) and toward the Caribbean. It is important to note that people were enslaved and embarked from a much larger region than the one denominated by the Slave Coast (the region of embarkation ranged from at least Senegal to Angola). ↩︎

  573. Papaws or Popos. Name of people from the region between Accra in modern Ghana and Ouidah in Benin. ↩︎

  574. The Volta is the Volta river in Ghana, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean northeast of Accra. The Rey is likely the Rey (or Rio del Rey) estuary in modern Cameroon. It is not clear whether Grainger means a specific river within this estuarial system. ↩︎

  575. Suicide was prevalent in the Atlantic slave trade and occurred during various stages of the process of transportation. It also occurred on plantations. Europeans proposed various theories to explain these suicides. In particular, physicians like Grainger often suggested that suicide by the enslaved was caused by physical illness or by a disease known as fixed melancholy. European Christians considered suicide to be a sin (it was a breach of the sixth commandment forbidding murder), but their concern for preventing suicide among the enslaved stemmed primarily from economic motives, as Grainger suggests in these and later lines. ↩︎

  576. Gang was the general term used to designate groups of enslaved persons. ↩︎

  577. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), an acquaintance of Grainger and one of the most important writers of the eighteenth century, referred to this and the preceding three lines (lines 74-77) in a review of The Sugar-Cane that he published in the Critical Review (Oct 1764). While the review was largely positive, Johnson took issue with the fact that, here and in the stanzas that follow, Grainger is giving “instructions for the buying and choice” of the enslaved. As he further comments, “here we think that tenderness and humanity, with which the former part of the poem seems replete, is, in some measure, forgotten. The poet talks of this ungenerous commerce without the least appearance of detestation; but proceeds to direct these purchasers of their fellow-creatures with the same indifference that a groom would give instructions for chusing an horse” (276-277). ↩︎

  578. Cormantee or Coromantin. Name given to Fanti people embarked at Fort Kormantse in the modern nation of Ghana. By the mid-eighteenth century, the name Cormantee was closely associated with warlike people who resisted enslavement, thus explaining Grainger’s warning in these lines. Indeed, Grainger would have been familiar with Tacky’s Revolt, a 1760 uprising led by Coromantins in Jamaica. The uprising, which occurred less than a year after Grainger arrived in St. Kitts, loomed large over the remainder of the century and led to a number of increasingly repressive laws. Click here for more information about Tacky’s Revolt. ↩︎

  579. Dagger. ↩︎

  580. Grainger is describing Africans smoking tobacco out of pipes. Tobacco was introduced from the Americas to Africa in the 1500s. ↩︎

  581. Rice, yams, and maize were three major food crops in West Africa. While rice (Oryza glaberrima) and yams (one of many species of tuber within the Dioscorea genus) were native to the region, maize or corn (Zea mays) was not: maize’s native range is Mexico and Guatemala. Maize was, however, introduced to Africa around 1500. Grainger could also be referring to Guinea corn (Sorghum bicolor), an important staple crop first cultivated in Africa thousands of years ago (Higman 222-232). ↩︎

  582. Elmina, a city on modern Ghana’s Atlantic coast. It was the first European settlement in West Africa and a major stop on the routes of the Atlantic slave trade. ↩︎

  583. The Moco nation refers to people from the region between Bonny Island and Calabar on the southeastern coast of modern Nigeria. On some historical maps, the Moco nation appears in the same region as the Igbo or Ebo people. The reference to suicide in this line (“they themselves destroy”) matches a well-worn steroetype that the Igbo were especially liable to taking their lives. ↩︎

  584. Grainger is referring to parasitic worms (helminths) that live in the digestive tracts of human beings and other animals. There are many such parasites, including tapeworms and roundworms. Worms were a major health concern in the eighteenth century, producing such physical effects as malnutrition and anemia, as well as cognitive problems. ↩︎

  585. The Mundingo, Mandingo, or Mandinka were people of the West African interior centering around the modern nation of Mali but also coming from Senegal, Guinea, and Côte D’Ivoire. With respect to religion, the Mandinka are most closely associated with Islam. ↩︎

  586. Physician. ↩︎

  587. Part of the Greek underworld reserved for heroes. ↩︎

  588. Cuanzo (or Kwanza) river in modern Angola. It drains into the Atlantic Ocean south of Luanda (known in the eighteenth century as Loango or Loando). This line refers to enslaved people from Angola, who were primarily enslaved by the Portuguese. ↩︎

  589. Sempre-vive refers to the genus Sempervivum (“always living”), a group of plants native to Europe and parts of Asia. Gilmore notes that Grainger may not have been referring to European vervain but to Aloe vera, a plant highly valued for its medicinal properties and native to the Arabian Peninsula. ↩︎

  590. Calomel or mercuric chloride. Medicine widely used in the eighteenth century for its laxative and purgative effects, also described here by Grainger as a vermifuge or drug used to eliminate parasitic worms from the body. ↩︎

  591. Enslaved Africans newly arrived in the Caribbean. ↩︎

  592. The cashew or cashewnut tree (Anacardium occidentale). Its native range is Trinidad to tropical South America. As Grainger and others note, the fruit of the cashew tree is caustic, and it was supposedly used by women as a chemical peel to remove freckles (Riddell 82-83). ↩︎

  593. Mucous secretions from the eyes, nose, and mouth. Comparable perhaps to a head cold but often thought by eighteenth-century physicians to lead to further (and more serious) illnesses. ↩︎

  594. An accumulation of fluid in the soft tissue of the body, more commonly known as dropsy. The modern term is edema (or oedema). ↩︎

  595. Probably refers to the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), the only species of turtle indigenous to the Caribbean that has served as a significant food source for human beings. ↩︎

  596. A chronic condition affecting the skin and nerves, caused by the microorganism Mycobacterium leprae↩︎

  597. Geophagy or pica are the medical terms used for the practice of eating dirt. Eighteenth-century physicians and planters were fascinated with geophagy, which they believed to be a disorder that led to death. In certain instances, they posited that eating dirt was a means of committing suicide and thus a form of enslaved resistance. ↩︎

  598. Chlorosis (also called green sickness) was thought to be an illness that afflicted young women. It could be accompanied by a greenish hue and produce a desire to eat dirt. ↩︎

  599. The "Errata" list at the end of The Sugar-Cane indicates that “rhinds” should read “rinds.” ↩︎

  600. Edible sap of some trees in the genus Acacia. Used as a binder or stabilizer in foods and medicines. ↩︎

  601. Here, Grainger makes a specific recommendation about the “seasoning” of newly transported enslaved Africans. Seasoning was a term used during the eighteenth century to describe the process of acclimatization that it was believed all individuals went through when moving from one climate to another. Physicians believed that patients were more susceptible to illness and death in the weeks and months after they first arrived in new climates. This observation was broadly true for those who were new to the Caribbean but not because there was something inherently harmful about its climate. Instead, travel across long distances often meant coming into contact with new and potentially fatal diseases like yellow fever or typhus. Grainger recommends that enslaved Africans be seasoned for a year and given easy versus strenuous labor. Such a practice was uncommon, however. ↩︎

  602. Family of marine molluscs best known for their large shells, which can be used as musical horns when properly blown. ↩︎

  603. This and the following forty lines are the only ones in the poem where the narrator addresses the enslaved directly. Despite this direct address, the passage is framed by a set of rhetorical questions that help the planter justify his actions to himself. The justifications that follow were standard to pro-slavery tracts. ↩︎

  604. Having to do with Tartarus, the part of the Greek underworld reserved for the wicked. Here, Grainger refers to the work of miners. Improved technology in the seventeenth century facilitated the construction of deeper coal mines in Scotland, where coal became a major domestic export. Deep mines, sometimes extending hundreds of feet into the earth, were necessary because the rising demand for coal quickly exhausted accessible deposits. ↩︎

  605. Southwestern Scotland had produced lead since the Roman period. The Scottish Habeas Corpus Act of 1701 did not apply to those in servitude in the coal and lead mines of Scotland. As a result, they could be tied in serf-like bondage to employers by ancient custom. According to the terms of such bondage, they could be sold or leased with the undertaking of mining work and were counted as a part of employers’ inventory. Also, vagabonds and their families could be seized and returned to work. Born in Scotland himself, Grainger was aware of this history, and this stanza deliberately compares enslaved Africans to Scottish miners to mitigate the violence of the African slave trade. It would not be until 1774 that an emancipation act forbade mine owners from accepting new servitudes and provided for the emancipation of existing workers who had served for a certain number of years. Only in 1799 were all miners legally freed. ↩︎

  606. Paralysis of the skeletal muscles. ↩︎

  607. A river in central Europe that forms the boundary between Croatia and Hungary. ↩︎

  608. Quicksilver or mercury, which was a major export of the region. Among the effects of continued exposure to mercury are palsies (line 180) and loss of teeth (line 193). ↩︎

  609. The Incan Empire extended from modern Ecuador to Chile in the early sixteenth century, when Spanish conquistadors arrived and imposed colonial rule. In the fifteen lines that follow, Grainger relies on the trope of the Black Legend to suggest that the suffering of the Incas at the hands of the Spanish was far worse than anything experienced by enslaved persons working on British sugar plantations. In particular, the silver mines at Potosí in Upper Peru (modern Bolivia) drove Spanish settlement, and indigenous populations were subjected to the encomienda system, in which an encomendero accepted tribute and obligatory labor from natives in return for protection. In the early seventeenth century, this system gave way to a corregimiento system that established networks of provincial governors who managed the labor distribution and tributary arrangements. Enslaved Africans were also imported and put to work in mines when labor ran short and gradually surpassed the natives in population. Besides silver, gold deposits were found throughout the Andes from Venezuela to Chile, and European colonists greatly expanded the extant mining work of the indigenous Americans in scale. ↩︎

  610. The Spanish conquistadors. ↩︎

  611. The georgic mode is invested in describing the benefits of healthful agricultural labor. It is entirely conventional to describe that labor as pleasing, but, at this moment, The Sugar-Cane is describing enslaved labor. ↩︎

  612. Moods. ↩︎

  613. From here to the end of The Sugar-Cane, Grainger settles on a strategy of amelioration for dealing with the problem of slavery. This strategy involves accepting the continuation of slavery as an institution but advocating for the humane treatment of the enslaved as an economically prudent measure. Note that his recommendations mirror the actions of Montano at the end of Book I. ↩︎

  614. Slavery did exist in Africa, although it is clear that the Atlantic slave trade fundamentally altered how it was practiced and the number of people who experienced enslavement. Grainger’s reference to slavery in Africa is a conventional move of pro-slavery writers, who invoked it in an attempt to justify and excuse slavery in American plantations. ↩︎

  615. Indus, a river in southern Asia, rising in the Kailas mountain range in Tibet and flowing through India and Pakistan. ↩︎

  616. In this stanza, Grainger claims that he would abolish slavery if his poetry had the power to do so. The next ten lines contain the only explicitly abolitionist sentiments in the poem and would be quoted positively in later abolitionist tracts. See, for example, Nathaniel Appleton’s 1767 Considerations on Slavery (15-16). ↩︎

  617. A direct acknowledgment of the tyranny of slavery. Note that tyranny, an increasingly discussed topic during the late eighteenth-century Age of Revolutions, appears several more times in Book IV. ↩︎

  618. Grainger claims that even after they were freed, formerly enslaved Africans would continue to work on sugar plantations by choice, but this sentiment was a pro-slavery fantasy that was not borne out by reality after emancipation. ↩︎

  619. The abrupt shift in tone marks Grainger’s turn away from his abolitionist fantasy and toward a policy of amelioration, in which physicians like himself were to play a central role. Recall his words at the end of the preface: “I beg leave to be understood as a physician, and not as a poet.” See also Steven Thomas’ “Doctoring Ideology.” ↩︎

  620. Guinea worm or the dragon worm (Dracunculus medinensis) is a parasitic nematode acquired by drinking water contaminated by the water flea (genus Cyclops), which carries the worm’s larvae. The larvae break through the stomach lining and enter the bloodstream, growing to full size within a year. A pregnant female worm lives in connective tissues beneath the skin and eventually will release its larvae into a large blister, usually on the legs or arms. The worm’s migration produces such symptoms as itching, giddiness, breathing difficulties, vomiting, and diarrhea. The worm may come out spontaneously with the released larvae, but treatment typically involves attaching the worm to the end of a stick and winding it slowly out of the opening in the skin over the course of several days (the “leaden cylinder” that Grainger mentions in line 252 refers to this form of treatment). A broken worm causes an extreme allergic reaction that can be fatal, and blisters on the skin may ulcerate and become infected, resulting in an abscess and the “annual lameness” of which Grainger warns in line 255. Today, the worm may also be treated through anthelmintics. ↩︎

  621. Moor, a name for a native or inhabitant of Mauretania in North Africa (modern Morocco and Algeria versus Mauritania). ↩︎

  622. Dracunculus medinensis (see note to line 246). ↩︎

  623. Chigres, chiggers, or chegoes (Tunga penetrans), a flea indigenous to Central and South America. This parasitic insect embeds itself and lays its eggs in the flesh of human hosts. Like the Guinea worm, chegoes were both horrifying and fascinating to European observers, who described them in detail. One such description occurs in Richard Ligon’s A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados (1657), where an enslaved indigenous woman named Yarico is praised for her skill in removing chegoes. This same Yarico became an important literary figure in the eighteenth century via the story of Inkle and Yarico, which was first told by Ligon himself and then retold as a sentimental tale in Richard Steele and Joseph Addison’s The Spectator (No. 11, 13 March 1711). ↩︎

  624. Black. ↩︎

  625. Yaws or frambesia tropica is an extremely contagious skin infection caused by the Treponema pallidum spirochete. Physicians associated it primarily with enslaved persons, although Europeans and creoles were also subject to infection. In its early stages, yaws produces skin lesions and ulcers, and it can become debilitating if left untreated for a period of years. By the late eighteenth century, Europeans began to associate severe cases of yaws with obeah men. For example, see Benjamin Moseley’s A Treatise on Sugar (1799). For more on obeah men, see “Obeah” on this site. ↩︎

  626. Flowers of sulphur refers to a light yellow, crystalline powder made by distilling sulphur. The knicker nut (Guilandina bonduc) is a flowering legume whose native range is the subtropical and tropical parts of the world. ↩︎

  627. Consisting or made of flour or meal, starchy. ↩︎

  628. In Greek mythology, the ethereal fluid believed to have flowed through the veins of the gods. Here, Grainger means fluid from yaw lesions. ↩︎

  629. Mercury (or quicksilver) when taken as mercuric chloride (calomel). An important purgative in eighteenth-century medicine. Could also cause excessive salivation. ↩︎

  630. The action of contaminating, polluting, or infecting something, especially the blood or skin. In this case, the periodic eruption of yaws sores. ↩︎

  631. Because yaws, like smallpox, seemed to infect a person only once in life, Grainger wonders whether inoculation might not be a good way to fight yaws. Popularized in Europe and the Americas as a treatment against smallpox in 1722, inoculation involved puncturing the skin of a healthy individual and deliberately infecting him or her with pustulent matter from a live smallpox sore. This procedure was extremely dangerous by modern standards because the virus was not attenuated and the inoculee came down with a case of smallpox. Inoculation nevertheless had a much lower rate of mortality than being infected by smallpox naturally. ↩︎

  632. In Greek mythology, Proteus, an old man and shepherd on the island of Pharos near Egypt, was able to shape-shift. The worms’ ability to cause multiple maladies and symptoms is equated to Proteus’s shape-shifting abilities. ↩︎

  633. Roman and Etruscan goddess of the dead who ruled the underworld with Mantus. ↩︎

  634. An acute or high fever or a disease that causes such. Often used to refer to malaria. ↩︎

  635. Gilmore identifies this line as an adaption from John Armstrong’s description of a lung infection in The Art of Preserving Health (1744). ↩︎

  636. Gilmore suggests that this is knotted grass (Spigelia anthelmia). ↩︎

  637. Places of tin deposits in Cornwall and the surrounding areas in western Britain. Grainger notes that tin acts as an effective vermifuge. ↩︎

  638. Inhabitants of Tyre, a town on the Mediterranean coast in southern Lebanon. It was a major Phoenician seaport for trade from 2000 BCE through the Roman period. ↩︎

  639. Attica, the ancient district of east-central Greece, its chief city being Athens. Maritime trade far surpassed its agriculture. ↩︎

  640. Strabo (64 BCE-21 CE), Greek geographer and historian whose Geography outlined the countries and peoples of the Greco-Roman world under the reign of Augustus (27 BCE-14 CE). ↩︎

  641. The “Errata” list at the end of The Sugar-Cane indicates that “Κασσι τερον” should read “ΚασσιΤερον.” ↩︎

  642. City and province in central Sicily and location of a Sicilian slave revolt (134-132 BCE). ↩︎

  643. Refers to the High Fens, a highland plateau in the eastern Belgian province of Liege. ↩︎

  644. The region Grainger refers to as the Belgian fens had been part of the Netherlands, which were under Spanish control from the sixteenth century until the War of Spanish Succession. After the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), the Spanish ceded the Netherlands to Charles VI of Austria. ↩︎

  645. Commonly spelled Silvanus, the Roman god of the countryside often associated with woodlands and agriculture. ↩︎

  646. Grainger suggests that the symptoms he lists in the following lines (moping, silence, solitude, loss of appetite) are not real and perhaps feigned. One should be cautious about diagnosing historical illnesses retrospectively, but these same symptoms would come to be described as fixed melancholy in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Often associated with longing for friends and family, fixed melancholy became a common diagnosis for the enslaved, and physicians expressed concern that the illness would lead to suicide. ↩︎

  647. This and the preceding five lines mark the beginning of Grainger’s description of obeah, a complex of religious and medical practices designed to help the enslaved negotiate the hardships and demands of living and working on the plantation. By a conjurer, Grainger means an “obeah man” or obeah practitioner, who frequently were associated with snakes, lizards, and other creatures in colonial and European accounts. For more on obeah and how it was portrayed, see “Obeah” on this site. ↩︎

  648. Dryness, thirst. ↩︎

  649. In addition to referring to a set of practices and beliefs, “obeah” or “obi” also could refer to a charm that would protect or curse an individual. These charms were often made up of a combination of materials that were believed to have spiritual or sacred significance. ↩︎

  650. Also known as Phosphorus. In Greek mythology, the bringer of morning light. ↩︎

  651. A bed made from stiff and hollow plants. ↩︎

  652. Gilmore identifies the broom bush as possibly Sida acuta, a plant native to Central America with yellow flowers that open in the morning. ↩︎

  653. Mirabilis jalapa. Also known as the four o’clock flower because its flowers open in the afternoon. Probably native to Mexico; used by the Aztecs as an ornamental. Sometimes believed to be native to the Peruvian Andes because it was exported from that region to Europe in the 1500s. ↩︎

  654. Datura stramonium, also known as fireweed or jimsonweed. Probably originated in the tropical regions of Central and South America. ↩︎

  655. Carolus Linnaeus or Carl von Linné (1707-1778) was a Swedish naturalist who laid the foundations for modern taxonomy or the systematic classification of living organisms. He also established a system for naming organisms known as binomial nomenclature. ↩︎

  656. Dr. Stork was Anton von Störck (1731-1803), a physician from Vienna known for his research on poisonous plants. ↩︎

  657. This and the preceding two lines mark the beginning of Grainger’s description of food provisioning on plantations. Grainger begins by addressing planters and asking them to provide more imported foodstuffs for the enslaved, but he switches in the next stanza to a discussion of provision grounds or gardens cultivated by the enslaved. Provision grounds were an important source of food for the enslaved and others living in the Caribbean. They also laid the foundation for what is now called the counter-plantation. For more on counter-plantations and provision grounds, see “Provision Grounds” on this site. ↩︎

  658. Beans or peas, as they were often called in the Caribbean, were a major source of nutrition for the enslaved. English beans are also known as fava, broad, or horse beans (Vicia faba), which originated in Western Asia thousands of years ago and spread from there to Central Asia, Europe, and Africa. They were sometimes sent from England to the Caribbean to serve as provisions. They also formed part of the provisions of slave ships. The horse bean was not as central to the diets of the enslaved as other bean species, however, many of which were cultivated by the enslaved themselves. Rice did not make up a major part of the diets of the enslaved living in the Caribbean islands, but South Carolina was the major Atlantic exporter of the rice species known as Oryza sativa, which originated in Asia. There is also a species of rice indigenous to Africa known as Oryza glaberrima. Enslaved persons in the Caribbean islands may occasionally have grown both Oryza sativa and Oryza glaberrima in their provision grounds and gardens. ↩︎

  659. Iërne is a term for Ireland, which supplied Caribbean plantations with salted beef and other provisions. Beef also came from the North American colonies, as did flour. ↩︎

  660. The waters off the coast of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic constituted one of the major fisheries of the world for the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in the eighteenth century. Planters imported cod for enslaved laborers, who needed protein, but they imported what came to be known as “West India cod,” which was salted cod of the poorest quality. ↩︎

  661. Refers to the pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan). Pigeon pea is a drought-resistant crop that has historically been important for small-scale farmers in semi-arid areas. It was commonly grown in provision grounds because it could survive without much water or attention. It is native to South Asia and was first domesticated in India. By 2000 BCE, it also was being cultivated in East Africa, from where it was brought to the Americas, most likely as a result of the slave trade. ↩︎

  662. A species of bean (Lablab purpureus) whose native range includes the Cape Verde Islands, tropical and southern Africa, Madagascar, and India. ↩︎

  663. John Ogilby’s America: being the latest, and most accurate description of the New World (1671). Ogilby (1600-1676) was a Scottish publisher and geographer. ↩︎

  664. Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is probably native to Africa and was one of the most commonly cultivated plants in the provision grounds and gardens of the enslaved. It possesses a glutinous or slimy pulp that was used as a thickener in stews called pepper pots, one of the most popular dishes in the colonial Caribbean (Higman 174-175). ↩︎

  665. Grainger refers to sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas), which probably originated in Central America or northwestern South America. ↩︎

  666. Edda or eddo is commonly referred to as taro (Colocasia esculenta). It also, however, sometimes referred to yautia (Xanthosoma sagittifolium). Both plants produce roots that were consumed by the enslaved because they were easy to cultivate and had a high yield. Colocasia esculenta originated in southeastern or southern Central Asia but was being cultivated in Africa by 100 CE. From there, it was brought to the Americas on slave ships, which stocked it as food. Xanthosoma sagittifolium has a native range extending from Costa Rica to tropical South America (Higman 82-86). ↩︎

  667. The term “Indian cale” also can refer to the species Colocasia esculenta and Xanthosoma sagittifolium. Since the seventeenth century, “callaloo” has been used to refer to several different plants. Today, callaloo usually refers to Amaranthus viridis, a plant whose native range is the tropical Americas. What the various plants labeled callaloo had in common was the ability of their leaves to serve as edible greens. They are also weedy plants that can survive in a wide range of environments, including wastelands. They formed an important part of the diets of the enslaved, probably because they were a hardy and reliable source of food (Higman 100-107). ↩︎

  668. Balm is the name of various aromatic plants, particularly those of the genera Melissa and Melittis↩︎

  669. Butterfly-shaped. ↩︎

  670. Mobby or mobbie, an alcoholic drink made from the sweet potato. The origin of the drink’s name is Carib. ↩︎

  671. Gilmore identifies mezamby as probably Cleome gynandra, a plant whose native range is the tropical and subtropical Old World. ↩︎

  672. Might refer to Amaranthus spinosus, a plant sometimes known as prickly callaloo. Its native range is Mexico and the tropical Americas. ↩︎

  673. Suitable for food, edible. ↩︎

  674. Another name for cacao. ↩︎

  675. Cacao trees produce large pods that contain the cacao seeds, also known as cacao beans or nuts. ↩︎

  676. Cacao trees take several years to produce pods that can be harvested. ↩︎

  677. Cacao seeds are ground up to produce chocolate, which was branded as early as the seventeenth century as a kind of miracle food that would give its consumers health and strength. For instance, see the title of Henry Stubbe’s 1662 treatise on chocolate, entitled The Indian Nectar, which portrayed chocolate not only as a health food but also as an aphrodisiac. There were also reports from seventeenth-century Jamaica that sailors and others who had to perform hard labor consumed it regularly. It is possible that maroons living in the mountains of Jamaica consumed chocolate as a subsistence food, too (Hughes, The American Physitian 131). ↩︎

  678. Madre de Cacao (Gliricidia sepium). Its native range includes Mexico, Central America, and South America, and it is used as a shade tree for cacao and other plants. ↩︎

  679. Grainger refers here to enslaved persons who have run away from plantations. ↩︎

  680. Early colonial reports from the Caribbean describe flourishing Amerindian gardens. Amerindians generally practiced conuco or mound cultivation, in which various plants were intercropped or cultivated together in ecologically sustainable fashion. ↩︎

  681. Phaeacia refers to Scheria, the island that Odysseus arrives at after his shipwreck; home of the Phaeacians. Whether Scheria corresponds to a real place is unclear, however. ↩︎

  682. Flora was the Roman goddess of springtime. ↩︎

  683. Gilmore identifies this quotation as an adaptation from Milton’s Paradise Lost↩︎

  684. Shade. ↩︎

  685. The mammee apple (Mammea americana) is a large fruit native to the Caribbean and northern South America. ↩︎

  686. An essence used as a flavouring for food and drink, typically extracted from almonds or the kernels of cherries, apricots, and peaches. ↩︎

  687. The apricots of St. Domingue. St. Domingue was a French colony, renamed Haiti after a revolution led by enslaved and free people of African descent succeeded in overthrowing colonial rule in 1804. ↩︎

  688. L’eau de noiaux refers to an alcoholic drink made by infusing a spirit with ratafia. Noyaux is the French term for the kernels of stone fruits. ↩︎

  689. Laxative. ↩︎

  690. A term used in the ancient and medieval periods to signify man-eaters. It is now much less used than the term cannibal, which Columbus invented to name the Carib peoples that he encountered in the Americas. Columbus suggested that the Caribs were “Caniba” or subjects of the Great Khan, whose lands he was hoping to find. He also suggested that the Caribs ate human flesh, although there is little to no evidence that they actually did. ↩︎

  691. Annona cherimola, a fruit that originated in South America and is perhaps native to Ecuador. ↩︎

  692. The mammee sapota is actually different from the mammee apple (the fruit Grainger describes in lines 502-508). The mammee sapota (Pouteria sapota) is a sweet fruit whose native range is Mexico and Central America. Another fruit commonly confused with both the mammee sapota and the mammee apple is the nasebery (Manilkara zapota), also known as the sapodilla or the nispero. It is a sour or tart fruit whose native range is Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean (Higman 196-197). ↩︎

  693. Grainger is referring to what he calls elsewhere the royal palm. ↩︎

  694. Inigo Jones (1573-1652) was an English architect and theatre designer. Christopher Wren (1632-1723) was an English architect, mathematician, and astronomer. ↩︎

  695. Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), an Italian architect. ↩︎

  696. A rod, a unit used for measuring land approximately 5 1/2 yards (5.03 meters) in length. ↩︎

  697. Mathew (1718-1777) was a cousin of Grainger’s wife. Mathew’s Cayon estate was in Saint Mary’s parish on the eastern shore of St. Kitts. ↩︎

  698. Also known as the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, an ancient city in Syria. ↩︎

  699. Grainger is saying its bark can be used to make laths or strips of wood used in building. ↩︎

  700. Also anatta, anatto, or annatto. Refers to Bixa orellana, a low, shrubby tree native to the tropical Americas that was used from precolonial times by indigenous peoples to produce a reddish-orange dye. They used the dye to paint their faces and bodies for ornamental purposes, as well as to protect from insects and the sun. ↩︎

  701. The passion fruit (Passiflora ligularis). Its native range is Panama to Venezuela and Peru. ↩︎

  702. Apexes. ↩︎

  703. Different names for Passiflora laurifolia, a passion fruit relative whose native range is the Caribbean to northern and northeastern Brazil. ↩︎

  704. Sticky, adhesive. ↩︎

  705. Basins. ↩︎

  706. The bay grape is Coccoloba uvifera, a seaside plant whose native range is Florida to Peru and the Caribbean to northern South America. ↩︎

  707. By Indian millet, Grainger means Guinea corn (Sorghum bicolor). Often planted in the provision grounds of the enslaved and a key source of food, as indicated by an eighteenth-century song sung by the enslaved that declares, “Guinea Corn, I long to see you/Guinea Corn, I long to plant you/Guinea Corn, I long to mould you/Guinea Corn, I long to weed you…Guinea Corn, I long to eat you” (qtd. in Higman 231). ↩︎

  708. Maize, great corn, and Indian corn are all different names for Zea mays↩︎

  709. Likely Bursera simaruba, a tree whose native range is the Caribbean and Mexico to Brazil. ↩︎

  710. The banshaw is another name for the banjo, an instrument that originated in Africa and arrived with the enslaved in the Americas. There, it evolved, as did the music played on it, to become an integral part of Afro-Caribbean and African American musical cultures. European colonists in the early Caribbean were fascinated both by the banjo and the music and dancing of the enslaved. For example, Hans Sloane (1660-1753), a physician and naturalist who visited Jamaica in the seventeenth century, got someone to transcribe some of the songs that he heard. He included these transcriptions in A voyage to the islands Madera, Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers and Jamaica (1707, 1725). For more on music and dance, see “Movement” on this site. ↩︎

  711. Grass-covered ground, turf. ↩︎

  712. Grainger refers here to the night-blooming cereus (Selenicereus grandiflorus), also sometimes known as the queen of the night because of the exquisite beauty and fragrant scent of its large, white flowers. These flowers only open after sunset. Because of this unusual property, the night-blooming cereus became a subject of much speculation and even fantasy on the part of European botanists and observers, who wondered if it could be compared to a nocturnal animal. Botanists today have realized that the flower blooms at night because the cactus’ pollinators, which include bats and moths, are nocturnal themselves. They also note the fact that the flower’s petals are opalescent and highly visible at night, especially in the moonlight, to attract these pollinators. For more on the night-blooming cereus, see a digital exhibit on “Poetic Botany” created by the New York Botanical Garden. The night-blooming cereus is native to the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, and Nicaragua. ↩︎

  713. Blooms. ↩︎

  714. The Chilean strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) is native to the Pacific Northwest but was probably spread by migratory birds to Hawaii and Chile, where indigenous peoples began cultivating it thousands of years ago. In the eighteenth century, the Chilean strawberry was brought to Europe, where it was crossed with the Virginia strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) to create today’s commercial strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa). ↩︎

  715. Senna alata, also known today as the candle bush or king of the forest. Its native range is southwestern Mexico to the tropical Americas. ↩︎

  716. Aquarius is often represented by a figure pouring water from a jar. ↩︎

  717. Wiltshire, a county in England, has been a center of the English weaving and woolen industry for nearly 4000 years. ↩︎

  718. Gallic Lewis refers to Louis XIV (1638-1715), king of France from 1643-1715. ↩︎

  719. The act or practice of seizing and taking away by force the property of others. ↩︎

  720. A subterfuge, petty trick, or quibble. ↩︎

  721. Greek goddess of law and justice. ↩︎

  722. Grainger is referring to the Code noir, a royal edict issued by Louis XIV in 1685. The Code noir contained sixty articles regulating the treatment of the enslaved in the French Caribbean. Although Grainger praises it as protecting the enslaved from abuse, other eighteenth-century observers condemned it as proving the inhumanity of the institution of slavery, since it still allowed enslavers to inflict harsh punishments on the enslaved and treat them as property. ↩︎

  723. The genus Narcissus contains several species of plants with yellow flowers, including the daffodil. ↩︎

  724. A substance that promotes the excretion of urine. ↩︎

  725. Compare the last fifty lines of the poem to the end of Alexander Pope’s Windsor Forest (1713), a poem that celebrates Britain’s history and culminates with the triumphal image of the Thames river, symbolizing British commerce, spreading across the world, carrying peace and liberty with it. ↩︎

  726. Rio de la Plata is an estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay and the Paraná rivers in South America. ↩︎

  727. If commerce has been the implicit theme of The Sugar-Cane, here Grainger personifies it explicitly as the core of Britain’s power. ↩︎

  728. A reference to Britain’s status as the premier naval power during the eighteenth century. ↩︎

  729. Winds that follow or serve. ↩︎

  730. Perhaps a reference to Henry St. Bolingbroke’s The Idea of a Patriot King (1749), a treatise written for Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707-1751), on monarchy. It describes in idealized terms the policies and virtuous conduct of a patriot king waiting in the wings. The patriot king’s accession was supposed to end political conflicts. ↩︎

  731. Even though the copy of the 1764 edition in the database Eighteenth-Century Collections Online contains an errata page, the copy that we used to produce images of each page did not contain one. Hence, no image is available here. ↩︎