Behind the general group of the houses of the town loom the Governor’s residence and the buildings of the botanical gardens which overlook the town.
Kingstown is the trading centre and the town of importance in the island. It contains the churches and chapels of five Protestant denominations and a number of excellent schools. Away from Kingstown, and the smaller settlement of Georgetown, the population is almost wholly rural, occupying scattered villages which consist of negro huts clustering around a few substantial buildings or of cabins grouped about old plantation buildings somewhat after the ante-bellum fashion in our own Southern States.
One of the tragedies of the West Indies was the sinking of old Port Royal, the resort of buccaneers, in 1692. The harbor of Kingstown is commonly supposed to cover the site of the old settlement. There is a tradition that a buoy for many years was attached to the spire of a sunken church in order to warn mariners. Three thousand persons perished in the disaster.
The northern portion of the island, that desolated by the recent volcanic eruption, was inhabited by people living in the manner just described, the great majority of them being negroes. The total population of the island is about 45,000, of whom 30,000 are Africans and about 3,000 Europeans, the remainder being nearly all Asiatics. There are, or rather were, a number of Caribs, the descendants of the original warlike Indian population of these islands. Many of these live in St. Vincent, though there are others in Dominico. As their residence was in the northern section of the island, the volcano seems to have completed the work for the Caribs of this island which the Spaniard long ago began. These Caribs were really half-breds, having amalgamated with the negroes. Many of the blacks own land of their own, raising arrow root, which, since the decay of the sugar industry, is the chief export.
In an island only eighteen miles long by eleven broad there is not room for any distinctly marked mountain range. The whole of St. Vincent, in fact, is a fantastic tumble of hills, culminating in the volcanic ridge which runs lengthwise of the oval-shaped island. The culminating peak of the great volcanic mass, for St. Vincent is nothing more, is Mont Garou, of which La Soufriere is a sort of lofty excrescence in the northwest, 4,048 feet high, and flanking the main peak at some distance away.
It may be said that all the volcanic mountains in this part of the West Indies have what the people call a “soufriere”—a “sulphur pit,” or “sulphur crater”—the name coming, as in the case of past disturbances of Mont Pelee, from the strong stench of sulphuretted hydrogen which issues from them when the volcano becomes agitated.
In 1812 it was La Soufriere adjacent to Mont Garou which broke loose on the island of St. Vincent, and it is the same Soufriere which again has devastated the island and has bombarded Kingstown with rocks, lava and ashes.