1891, Colporteur Wm Arnold Visits
Review and Herald, July 14, 1891, page 5
FROM THE WEST INDIES.
As the rainy season in Demerara (Guyana) has set in, thus putting an end to my work in the country districts, I thought I would come over to Trinidad until the weather is more settled in Demerara. Port-of-Spain is the capital of Trinidad, and numbers perhaps 40,000 people; they are the most cosmopolitan of any that I have met in this field. English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and Coolies. The different denominations represented are Church of England, Wesleyan, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Catholic.
The Catholic Church is very strong owing to the great number of French, Spanish, and Portuguese. But the most substantial people of wealth and influence are generally found among the Scotch and English. Some of the heaviest mercantile firms both in Trinidad and Demerara, are controlled by the Scotchmen.
A young Presbyterian has lately come to Trinidad to learn the Hindoostanic language and labor among the Coolies. I have met one of the teachers at Queen’s College who is a native Spaniard, and teaches both Spanish and French. Now, would it not be a line idea for one of our ministers who wishes to learn Spanish, to come down here and labor, and at the same time get a knowledge of Spanish? I understand that there is a talk of sending a minister this way. I wish he were here now.
When I came here, I brought with me a quantity of ”Great Controversy,” and commenced taking orders, and at the same time delivering as fast as possible, to let the book advertise itself. Among other signatures, I have that of his Excellency the Governor, the Auditor-General, the Register-General, the Acting Surgeon-General, the mayor of Port-of-Spain, the dean of Trinity Cathedral, etc. One wealthy sugar merchant, after purchasing a book, remarked to a friend that that was the best five dollars he ever spent. So his friend bought and paid for a copy, and then referred me to a third, who has paid me the cash for a book. The first man was formerly a member of the Church of England, but when they placed the crucifix and candles on the altar, he withdrew from them. I do not think he is now leading a religious life. Perhaps he does not see anything in the churches worth following. I think some of our ministers who are in delicate health should make the West Indies their field of labor.
The heat is very seldom as great here as with you, and sunstroke is almost unknown. I will quote from Guppy’s Almanac :—
“The range of the thermometer is usually from seventy at dawn to eighty-eight in the middle of the day. During the hotter months it reaches ninety-three, or even higher; while during the cooler weather, which generally lasts for a few weeks at the beginning of the year, the temperature sinks as low as sixty-six at night. The dry season may be reckoned to extend from the middle of January to the middle of May, but it is sometimes a week or two longer than this. “
As one passes from point to point in this part of the world, he will find new objects of interest wherever he goes. Barbadoes is a beautiful island. When you reach Demerara, you find the most beautiful city I have seen in the tropics, with broad streets, electric light, etc.; but the country is low and flat, not a mountain in view, and if it were not for the sea-wall, the country would be inundated at high tide, it is naturally an unhealthy place. Last year they buried 3,000 in Georgetown alone.
In Trinidad we see the grand old mountains once more, a pleasant change after six months in Demerara. I have visited the Botanical Gardens here, and they are simply magnificent. The governor’s palace has been erected in these gardens, and with, its surroundings affords a home worthy of any potentate. Across the way from the palace, is a public square, or savannah, as it is called here, which is as flat as a floor, and contains about 400 acres. I witnessed a military parade there on the queen’s birthday.
I shall probably stay in this island till sometime in August, when the dry season will give me an opportunity to finish up my work in Demerara.
Port-of- Spain, Trinidad, West Indies, May 31.