The military force of St. Jago is by no means either formidable in numbers or discipline, and exhibits a most complete picture of despicable wretchedness.
A black officer, of the name of Vincent, conducted as to the governor, who received us with politeness, and gave us an invitation to dinner. The town and garrison were quite in a state of activity and bustle; an officer of high rank and long residence among them had just paid the debt of nature, and his body was laid in state in the chapel, in all his paraphernalia. The greater part of the monks from the monastery of St. Jago were assembled upon the occasion, to sing requiems for his soul; and the scene was truly solemn and impressive. We met these ministers of religion at dinner, but how changed from that gravity of demeanor which distinguished them in their acts of external worship. The governor’s excellent Madeira was taken in the most genuine spirit of devotion, accompanied by fervent exclamations upon its excellent qualities. Upon perceiving this holy fervency in the pious fraternity, we plied them closely, and frequently joined them in flowing bumpers, until their ardour began to sink into brutal stupidity, and the morning’s hymns were changed into revelry and bacchanalian roar.
[Illustration: POGO, bearing N. by W. distance about 4 leagues from B Published Aug 1 1807 by G & W Nicol]
[Illustration: 3 ISLAND of ST. IAGO, distance 6 Miles. 4. PAPS of CAPE VERDE, bearing at C, N.N.E. and at D, S.E. by S. distance 3 leagues. Published Aug 1 1807 by G & W Nicol]
This, however, was rather a tax upon the governor’s hospitality, as it deprived him of his Ciesta, a common practice with him, almost immediately after the cloth is withdrawn. When we came ashore the next morning, we were highly entertained with the anecdotes related to us of the pranks performed during the night by the convivial priests, many of whom were unable to fulfil the duties of the altar at the usual hour of prayer.
The natives of St. Jago, with those of the neighbouring islands, are mostly black, or of a mixed colour, very encroaching in their manners, and much addicted to knavery. The island is extremely rocky and uneven, but the vallies are fertile. The inhabitants raise cotton, and they have several sugar works; the quantity they raise of both, does not, however, much exceed their own consumption, but there is no doubt that it might be considerably augmented by industry, even for exportation; but the natives are indolent, and extremely listless in their habits. The only inducement in touching at this island is, to procure water and provisions: the former is good, and the latter consists in hogs, turkeys, ducks, poultry, &c. but frequently, after they have been visited by a fleet, a great scarcity prevails.
The commodities the natives require as payment may be purchased at Rag Fair, being extremely partial to cast off wearing apparel of every description.