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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/514

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

visiting Americans are indebted for many kindnesses. The clerks and tallymen at the ports, the superintendents and overseers, or "head bushers," on the cultivations are chiefly white, Creole, or mulatto Jamaicans. A parenthesis here about this word "Creole." Webster and others define a creole as a child of white parents born in the tropics; but this certainly is not the popular use of the term in Jamaica. There it is synonymous with the perhaps commoner expression "brown man," and is applied to a person with a small proportion of negro blood, which, while showing its presence slightly in complexion or hair, or both, still distinguishes its possessor but slightly from a white person. These people are far more numerous than the whites in Jamaica, and enjoy complete social equality with them. This is not only fortunate for all concerned, but is the inevitable result of the free intermarriage of persons of all shades of complexion and all degrees of blood mixture, as well as of the looser relations which were even recently very common, but which, happily, seem at present to be less condoned among people with claims to respectability. One always finds Jamaicans of the better class kindly, hospitable, polite, and unaffected, without the veneer of more elaborate civilization.

But the manual labor in any industry is largely performed by the negro peasantry, who constitute a very large and steadily increasing majority of the population of the island. In the culture and shipment of the banana both men and women were formerly employed, but at present men are almost exclusively engaged, receiving from one to two shillings per day, according to the work. There is much of interest about the Jamaica negro—some good points and many bad ones; but this is not the occasion for their detailed discussion. His life is a curious combination of almost primitive savagery, with some of the least attractive features of our so-called civilization. Living chiefly in wattled bamboo huts thatched with palm leaves, and upon the lavish products of the soil, dressing in the simplest manner, his wants are easily supplied. Very religious in theory and equally immoral in practice, a child in mind and an animal in spirit, he presents a practical problem worthy of any philanthropist's best efforts.

The short time in which, even at his small wages, he can provide for the needs of a week, his entire lack of ambition for more than a bare subsistence, and the seductions of that liquid fire called new rum, make the average negro an uncertain quantity in the labor problem. This has led to the importation into the British West Indies of a class of steadier and more reliable laborers, the low-caste Hindus, or coolies, from India. These slender-limbed and bronze-skinned Caucasians are, as a class, temperate, industrious, and frugal; quiet and peaceable when fairly treated. They make excellent laborers, and their picturesque and comfortable