Dutch Guiana (Palgrave)/Chapter I
"When creeping carefully along the beach
The mouth of a green river did they reach,
Cleaving the sands, and on the yellow bar
The salt waves and the fresh waves were at war."
"'Tis known, at least it should be," that Surinam, geographically indicated by the easterly slice of Guiana placed between our own South-American possessions on the one side and French Cayenne on the other, is up to the present day under Dutch rule; while Demerara, or, to speak more correctly, the broad British territory that includes in one the three provinces of Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo, was, till a comparatively recent period, Dutch also. Now I had often heard it affirmed that the immense superstructure of prosperity raised by British energy on the shores of Demerara owed its oft-tried solidity, if not in whole, at least in no inconsiderable part, to the well-devised foundation work bequeathed us as a parting legacy by our Batavian predecessors. Our form of administration is Dutch, so said my informants, our local institutions Dutch, our seawalls are Dutch, our canals, our sluices, the entire system of irrigation and drainage from which the land derives its unparalleled fertility and we our wealth, all are Dutch; we have made English use of these things, no doubt, and the merit of that use is ours; but the merit of the things themselves is not all our own, it belongs rather to those who first created them and gave them to the land.
How far might this be true? Colonial success amid the many failures recorded and yet recording in these very regions must be, every one will admit, a phenomenon, the sources of which would be well worth discovery; and here before me was an instance ready to hand, and a cause assigned. Why not investigate its correctness? There was time at disposal, and from Georgetown to Paramaribo is no great distance. Besides, I had already received assurance of a hearty welcome from his Excellency Van Sypesteyn, the representative of Dutch majesty in Surinam; and an invitation of the sort, when combined with that chiefest of all factors in life's calculations, neighbourhood, made the present occasion doubly favourable. So I readily determined to follow up my Demeraran visit by another to a region which, while in natural respects hardly differing for good or evil from British Guiana, had all along remained under Batavian mastership; and where consequently the original institutions of our own acquired colony might be conveniently studied unmodified, or nearly so, by foreign influences and change of rule.
From Georgetown eastward, an excellent carriage-road runs parallel to the coast, though at some distance from it inland; the drive is a pleasant one, traversing a varied succession of large estates and populous villages, interrupted here and there by patches of marsh and wood, till the journey ends on the western bank of a full-flowing river, the Berbice; beyond which lies the small town of the same name, not far from the Anglo-Batavian frontier. Here official kindness had arranged for my further progress, by putting at my disposal the trim little revenue schooner "Gazelle," that now lay at anchor off the lower town-wharf, waiting to take me for a cruise of a hundred and fifty miles; such being the distance interposed between the harbour of Berbice and the mouth of the Surinam River, where rises the capital of Dutch Guiana. A sailing-craft, however small, if in good trim, clean, possessed of a comfortable cabin, and under a steady beam-wind, all which advantages were combined in the present instance, is a welcome change from the inevitable smoke, crowding, noise, oily smell, and ceaseless roll of the largest and finest steamer ever propelled by engine. In the present instance, the crew of the "Gazelle" was to a man composed of creole, that is, colonial-born, negroes; indeed the pilot's memory reached back to the time when the terms negro and slave were identical in his own person, as in the majority of his Guiana brethren. Civil, cheerful, and obliging, as the descendants of Ham, despite of their ill-conditioned father's bad example, usually are, they were also, what for a voyage like this amid sand-banks and shoals was of more importance, good seamen, and the captain in charge a good navigator, though a black one.
"I would rather by any amount have a black crew than a white one under my orders," is a remark which I have heard made by many and many a West-Indian sea-captain, lamenting over the insubordination, drunkenness, and other offences of his men. And in fact negroes, like their half-cousins the Arabs, have naturally in themselves the making of excellent seamen, active, handy, and daring, besides being far more amenable to the restraints of discipline, and less so to the seductions of the brandy or rum bottle, than the average material of which white crews are nowadays formed. And should our own strangely scattered and disunited West-Indian possessions ever realize among themselves the ideal "cluster of small states," the not unreasonable hope of other statesmen besides the romantic descendant of the Contarinis, such a confederacy might even more easily recruit her indispensable navy than her less necessary standing army from among the black creoles of her own islands and coasts.
A brisk wind was blowing, and the white cloud-drift scudding before the Atlantic trade-wind over the pale blue vault had in it something more akin to a Mediterranean than to a tropical sky, as we weighed anchor, and taking advantage of the seaward ebb, cleared out of the narrow channel alongside of the low bush-grown shoal that lies athwart the Berbice mouth, and bears, in common with countless other small islets and rocks of these latitudes, the name of Crab Island. The crab here in question is not the dainty crustacean of our seas, but the hideous land-crab, known to the students of Roderick Random and Tom Cringle; a monster that may be eaten by such, and such only, as are stomach-proof against the unpleasant associations of burial-grounds and carrion. Soon the tall, formal, semi-Batavian houses of Berbice, and its yet taller market-tower, or look-out, — for every town hereabouts has within its circle one of these at least, to serve for a beacon to the seafarer, and a watch-place whence notice can be given in case of fire or any other sudden danger threatening the townsmen themselves, — had disappeared from our view behind river-bend and forest; and by noon we were afloat on the open sea.
The open, but "not the blue;" much less the typical "black water" of the deep Atlantic. From the Orinoco to the Amazon the aqueous fringe of the South-American coast is a shallow, muddy, brackish, ochrey sort of composition, which overspreads an almost imperceptible downward slope of alluvial deposit, that reaches out seaward for ten, fifteen, twenty, or even more miles, and bears witness to the prodigious volumes of water poured unceasingly, with little difference of month or season, by the countless rivers of the great southern continent into the ocean beyond. As we slowly make our way up along the coast, tacking and re-tacking against the unvarying trade-breeze, broad gaps in the monotonous line of low brown forest, the shore horizon on our left, successively indicated the mouth of one or other of these great streams, many among which, nor those by any means the largest, equal or exceed the Severn and the Garonne in length of course and copiousness of flow. Of the latter in particular a further intimation was given by the tossing of our ship where the strong river current, felt far out at sea, crossed and thwarted the regular succession of waves as they rolled slowly on from the open Atlantic, and roughened them into whitening breakers.
From the outlet of the Corentyn, that acts as boundary between British and Dutch Guiana, to the mouth of the Surinam River itself, hardly anything beside these wide gaps in the forest margin, and the corresponding breaker patches out at sea, occurs to vary the monotony of yellow waves and level forest-line, that by its utter sameness wearies the eye and depresses the spirits of the voyager.
"What a contrast," may that same voyager not improbably say to himself, "is the Dutch shore to the coast of British Guiana!" There the view by sea or land is not particularly picturesque, to be sure; but, to make up for the want of beauty, we have the prospect scarce less pleasurable to the mind, if not to the eye, of a close succession of tall chimneys, each with its flaunting smoke-pennon, along the whole length of the southern horizon from Berbice to the Pomeroon, or near it, proclaiming an almost continuous cultivation, and the triumphs of the industry that has transformed a "lonely mud-bank, once productive of nothing but alligators, snakes, and mosquitoes," into a thriving, populous, wealth-coining colony. Here, on the contrary, not a chimney, not a construction of any sort, overtops the impenetrable mangrove growth of the shore; scarcely, and at distant intervals, does an irregular wreath of blue vapour, curling above the forest, tell its tale of clearing and habitition. Whence the traveller may, if so minded, deduce the further conclusion of the inferiority of the Batavian race to the British, of Dutch colonization to English, etc., etc., etc., Q.E.D.
But this conclusion, like many others drawn at first sight, would break down on closer inspection of the premises; and, first of all, because the two coasts, however much like each other when seen from five or six miles' distance out to sea, are in reality very unlike; so much so indeed that neither for praise nor blame can any correct comparison be made between them. For throughout the whole, or very nearly the whole, breadth of British Guiana, a wide swamp district, lower itself than the average sea-level, and in consequence very difficult if not impossible to drain, cuts off the available land-strip of the coast itself from the firm but distant high lands of the interior, and by so doing confines the choicest sugar-producing tracts of the colony to the immediate vicinity of the shore, where they are all arranged side by side in a long, but narrow strip, hemmed in between the ocean to the north and the almost equally unmanageable morass on the south. In Dutch Guiana, on the contrary, a rise, slight but sufficient, of the continental level, has thrust forward the swamp region from the interior down to the very shore, where it forms a barrier behind which the sugar lands and estates ensconce themselves with no particular background, untill perhaps the worthy Brazilians condescend to define their frontier, which as yet they seem in no hurry to do, and thus remain for the most part out of sight of the seafarer, though not out of easy reach of river communication.
This invisibility from the sea and those who go down to their business in the great waters was by no means an adverse circumstance; on the contrary, it was a very desirable one to the old Dutch settlers throughout the seventeenth and even during the eighteenth century. For those were days when many a gallant Captain Morgan, Captain French, or Captain Cutthroat whatever, would hail his men on the look-out, as their piratical bark hugged the coast on her way to the golden plunder of the Spanish Main, ready enough to shorten sail and let down the boats, had any tempting indication of hoarded Batavian wealth, whether in produce or in coin, appeared within the limits of a long-shore raid. But the case was different so long as the dense bush-barrier defended what it concealed; and the river estuaries, however frequent and wide, afforded no better prospect to the would-be plunderers than that of a difficult and perhaps distant navigation up stream, far from their comrades in the ships at sea, with the additional probabilities of meeting with a fort or two on the way to bar their passage. And thus, throughout the worst days of piratic menace, the hoards of Dutch Guiana remained, with one exception to be mentioned hereafter, unpillaged, chiefly because unseen; while the more patent treasures of the Frenchman and the Spaniard were harried to enrich the coffers, or decorate the Pollys and Betsys, of these lawless heroes of the Caribbean deeps.
The age of pirates and buccaneers is past, and even from regular naval invasion a West-Indian colony, under the present circumstances of warfare, has little to fear. But independently of the mischief-makers, whom of old times it brought on its waves, the sea of this coast is itself a troublesome and occasionally a dangerous neighbour to the planter and his labours. Whether it is that the north-eastern side of this great continent is in very truth slowly sinking, as runs the ominous verdict of not a few grave scientific judges or whether, as I found to be the prevalent opinion among the long-shore men themselves, some secular deflection of winds and currents yearly brings a heavier volume of water to war against the unprotected low-lying land, I know not; but this much is certain, that the sea encroaches more and more, and that every equinoctial spring-tide, in particular, is signalled by a wider and more perilous invasion of the watery enemy, and bears his usurpations ever farther over forest and plain.
Whatever the cause, aqueous or terrene, its effects are only too certain; and a woeful example was soon before our eyes, when, after not many hours' cruise, we anchored off the little town, or, to speak more truly, remnant of a town, called Nikerie. The name is, I believe, like most of the names hereabouts, Indian, the meaning of course unknown. The district, which is also denominated Nikerie, lies immediately to the east of the Corentyn River, and is thus the nearest of all to the British territory. It contains at the present day, as official returns tell us, nine estates, comprising between them 2,832 acres of cultivated soil. The number was formerly greater, but no portion of the colony suffered so much from the emancipation crisis, and the other causes of discouragement and depression, from which wealthier and more favoured colonies are only now beginning to recover, and that slowly.The estates, mostly cane or cocoa, are all situated at some distance inland up the river, safely sheltered behind the tangled mangrove fringe. Where goods have to be shipped, remoteness from the seacoast is of course an inconvenience; yet with this the colonists long preferred to put up rather than deviate from their traditionary rule. But when, at the opening of the present century, the British lion, jealous lest so choice a morsel as Dutch Guiana should fall into the jaws of the ravenous French republic and still more ravenous empire, temporarily extended a protective paw over these regions, a new order of things prevailed for a time, and an unwonted self-confidence took in more than one instance the place of prudential caution. Under these novel auspices the seemingly eligible site of the Nikerie River mouth was not likely to be passed over, and soon a flourishing little town, with streets, shops, stores, churches, public buildings, and the rest, arose and dilated itself on the western point, to the great advantage of commerce, and for awhile bravely held its own.
But wisdom was before long justified of her Batavian children; and the failure of the foreign experiment — a woeful failure — is now almost complete. It was afternoon when we made the port; as we cautiously threaded our way between sand-bank and shoal, before coming to anchor, we passed a broad triangular space of shallow water, lashed into seething waves by wind and current, where, a few feet under the surface, lies what was once the busy area of populous streets. Meanwhile the breakers, not content with the mischief already done, continue ceaselessly tearing away the adjoining land bit by bit. Right in front, a large house, left an empty shell without doors or window-frames by its fugitive inhabitants, is on the point of sinking and disappearing among the waters that unopposed wash to and fro through the ground-floor. Close by the victorious sea has invaded the gardens of the neighbouring dwellings, and will evidently soon take possession of the buildings themselves; their basement-work is rotten with the salt spray. Farther on, a few isolated fragments of what was once a carefully-constructed sea-dam rise like black specks among the yeasty waters; and the new earth-wall built to protect what yet remains of Nikerie has a desponding make-shift look, as if aware that it will not have long to wait for its turn of demolition. Within its circuit a large, handsome, and solidly-built church, now perilously near the water's edge; a commodious court-house, where the magistrate of the district presides; a few private dwelling-houses, and three or four grog-shops — stand ranged like the Maclachlans and Wilsons of the famous Solway martyr-roll, resignedly awaiting the steady advance of the tide. The wind was high, and the roar of the waves, as they burst impatiently on the dwindling remnant of what was once the Nikerie promontory, sounded in the dusky evening air like a knell of doom.
There are many sad sights in this sad world, but few give the beholder so dreary a feeling of helpless melancholy as does a town in the act and process of being washed away by the sea. The forces are so unequal, the destruction so wasteful and so complete. Fortunately at Nikerie, however, except for the loss, such as it is, of some acres of sand-bank, and as much building-material as the inhabitants do not think it worth their while to carry away, no great harm is being done. Already the situation of a new emporium for the sugar and other produce of the estates has been marked out farther up the river, and the rise of the level ground, which is here more rapid than to the west along the Demerara coast, will insure it, with the adjoining cultivated land, from any serious risk of Neptunian invasion, for several years to come. Meanwhile the spectacle now presented by Nikerie is undoubtedly a depressing one to the imagination, if not to the mind; and I was glad to learn that it was the only one of its kind on the Surinam coast.
Here first I heard negroes speaking Dutch; and I have no doubt that they murdered it as ruthlessly as they do the queen's English or the republic's French elsewhere. But I will not detain my readers with a minute account of the ways and fashions of the inhabitants in this Nikerie district, as we shall have the opportunity of studying Dutch Guiana life in all its aspects, black, white, or coloured, to better advantage farther on. This, however, need not hinder our availing ourselves in the mean time, where convenient, of the information copiously supplied by his Excellency Van Sypesteyn, who was in youth the talented historian, as now in middle age he is the active and intelligent governor, of Dutch Guiana. From official documents it appears that the number of sugar-factories in the district of Nikerie is five, all of them worked by steam, and giving an annual result of five or six thousand hogsheads of sugar, besides sixty thousand gallons of molasses, and about as many puncheons of rum; to which must be added nearly fourteen thousand pounds' weight of coffee, and three hundred thousand of cocoa; from all which data, we may safely conclude that the 2,832 acres of its reclaimed land are neither unfruitful nor badly cultivated. Yet the total number of inhabitants only reaches 2,346, more than six hundred of whom are coolie or Chinese emigrants, the remainder are negroes; here as elsewhere under-population is the great stumbling-block in the way of progress.
It is pitiful to think that out of the ten thousand and more acres, all excellent land, conceded by the Dutch government to the occupation of the Nikerie proprietors, hardly more than a fourth has been, as the preceding numbers show, brought into actual use. Yet it is neither the climate nor the soil that is here in fault. How often, not in Nikerie and the remaining districts of Surinam, but in St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Trinidad, in almost all these western Edens, nay, even in flourishing Demerara itself, has the image of little unpicturesque Barbadoes, unpromising in show, unfavoured by nature, yet thriving, prosperous, overstocked, and therefore only prosperous because overstocked, recurred to my mind! Improved machinery, coolies, Chinese, are all of them excellent things each in their way, but they cannot make up for the absence of that one great requisite of all progress, material or social, a superabundant native population. But how is it to be obtained for our own three-quarters-empty islands? How for Guiana? How for Surinam? Many answers have been given, and more may be given yet; but a wholly satisfactory one is yet to seek. We will try our luck at the solution of this problem farther on.
And how our trim little craft is once more on the open sea, bounding from wave to wave as she cleaves her onward way to the east. Sand-banks and mud-banks covered with scarcely more than a fathom-depth of water, kept us out at a considerable distance from the coast; but had we been nearer we should have had little to study except a dull uniform growth of mangrove and parwa trees; the latter not unlike our poplars in shape and foliage. Behind this woody screen lies the district of Coronie, almost the only quarter of Dutch Guiana where cotton, once a favourite speculation, especially about the time of the late American war, is now grown. So far as soil and climate are concerned, there is no assignable reason why it should not be more widely planted; but agriculture and commerce have their vagaries, often not less capricious than those of fashion and dress.
Coronie left behind us, a rougher sea than any we have yet encountered gives us notice that we are passing the joint estuary of the Coppename and Saramacca Rivers, each the main artery of fertile and comparatively-speaking populous regions to the south.
Not far inland by the banks of the Coppename, though shut out from our sight by the forest screen, is a settlement bearing the name of Batavia; and composed exclusively, exception made, I trust, of the government inspector and the doctor, of lepers. A hundred and fifty in number, they employ themselves in field labour; have cottages and gardens of their own, and as the disease is painless, or nearly so, they live on not unhappily their death in life. The motive for keeping them thus apart from every one else is, of course, the idea that their malady is contagious; an idea wide-spread, it is true, but unsupported by scientific testimony; and probably due to the horror and disgust excited by the sight of so loathsome a disorder. Salt fish, the old established slave-diet throughout the West Indies, is not improbably responsible in many cases, if not most, for the disease; though not contagious and hardly even infectious, it is certainly hereditary. Improved diet, and above all fresh articles of food, put a limit to its ravages, and give hopes that with proper precautions it may ultimately disappear.
For my part I am not sorry to miss seeing Batavia, but I must regret the invisibility of Groningen, where, near the mouth of the Saramacca, a colony of European labourers has been established for several years past. It is one of the many attempts made at various times to supplement negro by European field-work; and has, like the German and Irish colonies of Jamaica, and the Portuguese of St. Kitt's, proved a failure in the main; though its inevitable non-success as a farm has to a certain extent been compensated by the gardeners and artisans whom it has supplied to the capital. Something of the same kind has, I believe, taken place elsewhere. Field labour and outdoor life are things, early or late, irreconcilable with European vigour, health, and even existence, in the tropical new world. Nor are they needed there. Of all which also more anon.
A night and a day have passed since we quitted the melancholy relics of Nikerie, and we are yet tossing on the turbid waves several miles from land. This grows monotonous, and great was my delight when on the second evening of our voyage, just as the brief twilight deepened into night, we at last sighted, though still at some distance, the dull gleam of the lightship, anchored several miles out to sea, off the mouth of the Surinam River. Cautiously, for the shoals are many and the current strong, we made for the signs of harbour, known even through the general gloom to our pilot and crew, till about midnight we anchored in smooth water just within the entry of the mighty stream, here over three miles in width, and took shelter behind a long, low, mangrove-covered land-spit running out from the east.
A wan crescent moon hung dimly over the black forest-line, and gleamed on the smooth seaward-flowing water where we lay at anchor, waiting the rise of the tide that would not take place till after daybreak. Not a sign of human habitation, not a sound of beast or bird; only the low roar of the breakers outside the bar, and the ceaseless flapping of the idle rudder against the sternpost. The air was mild; and no fear of marsh miasma deterred the crew from taking their rest where they lay, each prone on his face along the deck. That negroes always sleep face downwards is a fact long since observed by Tom Cringle, or rather Michael Scott of Jamaican celebrity; whether his further conjecture that this accounts for the flatness of their noses be correct, let Darwin decide. Night dews, so much and so justly dreaded in many parts of the East Indies, seem to be of little account in these Indies of the West; this, to venture a guess of my own in turn, may perhaps be owing to the much lesser degree of variation here occurring between the diurnal and nocturnal temperature. So we waited while our boat's prow pointed steadily up stream, in a weird solitude that looked as if it were the world's outer frontier land, and the great river the portal to mysterious and unexplored regions beyond.
Morning broke at last. The tide turned, and flowed in, while a fresh breeze, with a sprinkling of light showers on its wings, blew from the east, as we hoisted sail for the port of our destination. Very soon it became evident, from the objects around us, that the drear loneliness we had just left behind extended no farther than the immediate margin of the shore, and that we were in reality entering on a region of industry, prosperity, and life.
What a relief was the change after two days' uniformity of turbid water, with nothing but mangrove-grown mud-banks for a horizon! With breeze and tide in our favour, we now went briskly on, while, bend after bend, the river unfolded to our gaze the treasures that lined its banks, more varied and more abundant at every turn. Joyfully I welcomed first one, then two, then several tall factory-chimneys, each flaunting on the air its long grey smoke-pennon, silvered in the level sunbeams; then appeared glimpses of clustered roofs and brick walls through the tall trees planted beside them; boiling-houses, distilleries, overseers' dwellings; and, not far removed from each group, rose the tall gabled roof of the Dutch-built residence for manager or proprietor, half-screened amid the shades of its garden grove. Under a bright sun, mixed up with glittering foliage, overtopped by graceful palms, and canopied by the most dazzling of skies, even roofs and chimneys combine with the beauty around them, and become part of it in their turn. Or else it was a long row of cottages, evidently pattern-built, that announced the presence of coolies, Indian or Chinese, and implied the prosperity of those who could afford to employ such; while the less regular rooflines scattered amid the thick garden bushes told of creole or Surinam-born negro labour. Or roofs .and sheds, but without the accompaniment of factory and chimney, just visible among the boughs of what the inexperienced eye might take for a natural-grown forest, marked the cocoa estate, scarcely less lucrative in Surinam than the cane-field; or perhaps it is a wide green expanse of plantain leaves — colossal plantains these — or the belfry of a Moravian schoolhouse, that shows over the bank; canoes, too — some mere hollowed tree-trunks, some of larger construction — covered barges, six-oared pleasure-boats, sloops with shoulder-of-mutton sails, become more and more frequent.
So we sailed on, and before long came on one of the grandest sights that nature affords, the junction of two mighty rivers. For here, at a distance of some eight or nine miles from the sea, the Surinam and the Commeweyne Rivers meet together; the former from the south, the latter from the east. It was on their united waters that we had sailed thus far. The Surinam, which has, like the Demerara, given its name to an entire region, is navigable by vessels drawing ten feet of water for a distance of about one hundred miles up stream; higher yet, rocks and rapids permit only canoes to pass. Its sources lie hid among the forests of the equatorial mountain land that forms the watershed of the valley of the Amazon, four or five degrees farther still to the south; its breadth for the last forty miles, before junction with the Commeweyne, averages above half a mile, its depth from thirty to sixty feet. It is the main artery of the colony, which indeed was for many years limited to the immediate neighbourhood of its banks. The Commeweyne, of shorter course, but here, at the junction point, little if at all inferior in breadth and depth to the Surinam itself, runs on an inland parallel with the eastern coast for a distance of some forty miles; farther up a number of smaller rivers — the Cottica, the Perica, and others — deep, though narrow streams, unite their waters to form the main trunk.
On the point which divides the two great rivers, a Hindoo ruler of the good old times, and before the unkind interference of a low-caste government had, Paul- like, commanded widows rather to marry than to burn, would doubtless have erected a graceful temple, and consecrated the spot to the decorous performance of suttee. Dutch governors, a more practical style of men, utilized the spot by erecting on it the fortress of New Amsterdam. Its first stone was laid in 1734, shortly after the plundering exploits of Cassard and the French squadron; its object was evidently the protection of the capital from any repetitions of the like visits in future. But though Paramaribo, and New Amsterdam too, have since that date twice received French, twice English masters within their walls, it has so happened that the fort guns have never had occasion to pour forth any more deadly fire than that of a signal or a salute; treaties having in later times subjected the colony to those changes that hard fighting brought about in former days. However, the position of New Amsterdam is well chosen, the works strong; and should any future age raise up against the Dutch colonies a new Cassard, he would find in the batteries enough, and more than enough, to render a buccaneering excursion up to Paramaribo by no means so easy a business as of yore.
We saluted the national flag, and passing close under a very respectable battery, exchanged a few words of amicable Dutch with a subaltern, who, at the sight of our government pennon, had hastened down for inquiry to the water's edge. Exempted by his courtesy — a courtesy I have never found wanting in any of his Batavian comrades — from the delays of an inspectorial visit, we continued our course due south, up the Surinam River; but the breeze had died away, and it was near noon when, after about eight miles of slow progress between banks and scenes much like those already described, but with a continually increasing denseness of estates and cultivation on either side, we approached the capital. Gardens, too, small dwelling-houses, and crowded cottages rose thicker and thicker into view, a tall Flemish-looking tower glittered in the sun, and at last, rounding an abrupt fort-crowned promontory on the left river-bank, we cast anchor opposite the river quay and town-hall of Paramaribo.