jctv (J):HOME




Cornwall House



Journal of a residence among the negroes in the West Indies by Mathew Gregory Lewis, author of “The Monk”, “Tales of Wonder” etc. London 1861(written in 1816), p. 42:

“The houses are generally built and arranged according to one and the same model. My own is of wood, partly raised upon pillars; it consists of a single floor: a long gallery, called a piazza, terminated at each end by a square room, runs the whole length of the house. On each side of the piazza is a range of bed-rooms, and the porticoes of the two fronts form two more rooms, with balustrades and flights of steps descending to the lawn. The whole house is verandoed with shifting Venetian blinds to admit air, except that one of the end rooms has sash windows on account of the rains, which when they arrive; are so heavy, and shift with the wind so suddenly from the one side to the other, that all the blinds are obliged to be kept closed; consequently the whole house is in total darkness during their continuance, except the single sash window room. There is nothing underneath except a few store rooms and a kind of washing hall; but none of the domestic negroes sleep in the house, all going home at night to their respective cottages and families.

Cornwall House itself stands on a dead flat, and the works are built in its immediate neighbourhood, for the convenience of their being more under the agent’s personal inspection. (a point of material consequence for them all but more particularly for the hospital) This dead flat is only ornamented with a few scattered breadfruit and cotton trees, a grove of mangoes and the branch of a small river which turns the mill. Several of these buildings are ugly enough, but the shops of the cooper, carpenter, and blacksmith, some of the trees in their vicinity, and the negro huts, embowered in shrubberies, and groves of oranges, plantains cocoas and pepper trees, would be reckoned picturesque in the most ornamental grounds. A large spreading tamarind fronts me at this moment and overshadows the stables, which are formed of open wickerwork and an orange tree, loaded with fruit, grows against the window at which I am writing.

Recitativo jctv: The picturesque, that devil of perspective that sees beauty and happiness in people grasping at happiness in their misery, in making do, can forget all this by looking through the mist of a daydream, can forget quite happily that there are people who are concerned with life, the nuts and bolts of life: freedom in the pursuit of happiness.

“on three side of the landscape, the prospect is bounded by lofty purple mountains; and the variety of occupation going on all around me, and at the same time gives and inconceivable air of animation to the whole scene, especially as all those occupations look clean even those which in England look dirty. All the tradespeople are dressed in jackets and trousers, either white or of red and sky blue stripe. One band of negroes are carrying the ripe canes on their heads to the mill; another set are carrying away the trash after the juice has been extracted; flocks of turkeys are sheltering from the heat under the trees, the river is filled with ducks and geese; the coopers and carpenters are employed about the puncheons, carts drawn some by six, some by eight oxen are bringing loads of Indian corn from the fields; the black children are employed in gathering it into the granary and in quarrelling with pigs as black as themselves, who are equally busy stealing the corn whenever the children are looking the other way: in short a plantation possesses all the movement and interest of a farm, without its dung, and its stench, and its dirty accompaniments.

Recitativo jctv: This perfect landscape, hardworking without smells or dirt, clean work: everything nice.



Contact me at: jacob@voorthuis.net

copyright © jacob voorthuis 1994-2011

All written material on this page is copyrighted.

Please cite Jacob Voorthuis as the author and Voorthuis.net as the publisher.