Of the Soil and Productions the manner of Planting Sugar Canes, and making of sugar, Rum, and Indigo; allso Cocoa, Coffee, Ginger, Pimento, Cotton, and other Commoditys, that are or may be produced in Jamaica.
(f. 192) This Island is not in generall so proper for Sugar as Barbados and some of the other islands in the West Indies, the soil in many parts differing, for in some places the Earth is black and Rich, others stiff clay or Sandy, some Redish, and others Boggy, or Swampy; the Settlements are therefore distinct, Mountainous and unplantable land interposing, which makes them appear like so many different Colonies. But, this difference of the soil in the manurable lands is rather an advantage to them than otherwise, as those Countrys are certainly the most Valuable that are productive of different sorts of Commoditys. Sugar is indeed the principal Product and what they cheifly go upon, yet they do not wholy depend upon it, Considerable Quantitys of other Valuable Commoditys being yearly produced and imported from (ff. 193) thined(?), which it could not naturally produce were the soil and Seasons the same throughout the Island; for though some lands are capable(?) of raising Severall sorts of Commoditys with Art and labour, yet they are not Equally proper for them all, but much more for one than another. Sugar Canes & Ginger thrive best in a Rich fat mould, Indigo and Cotton in Claie or light Sandy ground, Cocoa, and Coffee require not only a Rich mould & moisture but shade and shelter from high winds and therefore thrive best in Valleys near Rivers, or in the Bottomes or Spaces between the Mountains. nor is it in this alone (IW) Island differs from the other British Sugar Colonies but more Eminently in the Various Seasons for whereas in the summer months, (2 IWs) more direct neighbourhood of the Sun it is generally observed to be very dry on the South Side, it is quite Contrary in the North, there the Violent gusts of winds, and heavy rains make it appear more like Winter and this Occations the difference in the (IW) of their Crops, for as they begin to plant Canes whereof Sugar is made in September on the South Side, they are three months later in the North, and begin to grind accordingly, Canes requiring at least Sixteen or Eighteen months growth before they can mature.
Sugar canes are a long stalk about five or six feet in length and an Inch in diameter more or less according to the goodness of the Soil and Season, they are full of joints 2 or 3 Inchs asunder and therefore called Canes; the Sprouts or flags, when full grown are at least 8 or 9 feet in height the Collour of the Cane top is grass green, and so is the Cane untill it Ripens and then it turns to a straw or bright Yellow. it is covered with a Bark, and is Somewhat hard in the inside of a Springy Substance full of juice and of a pleasant dilicious flavour, in Planting them they are cut into pieces of about 3 feet long and 4 or five of them laid in holes of about 6 Inches deep, in a Straight line, and then covered loosly with the Earth. Each joint produces many Sprouts in good Seasons they appear in 14 days and in three or four months they are three feet high though the Cane does not appear in less than months.
[Crossed out] the Season for planting is from Sept. to Nov. on the South side, and from December to Feb. on the North side, for the Reasons beforementioned. [Crossed out]
When the Canes are young, the care of the (ff. 194) Planters is then to keep them clear of weeds which Otherwise will grow among them and Spoil their growth, or destroy them and the Roots(?) must be examined to see if any having failed that they may be supplied in time. the Planter must allso be mindfull to destroy(?) the Ratts which breed in great numbers, and by gnawing and Sucking the Cane render them unfit for making of sugar, therefore they are picked out when they are brought to the mill and thrown away, or they will taint the rest and spoil the goodness of the sugar. the Manginga negroes are very expert and usefull in Catching and destroying of those Vermin, and therefore every Plantation has two or more of them, who have no other Employment when the Canes begin to Ripen(?) for the ratts will not touch them when they are green; and for their Encouragement they have a reward in money or Rum for Every doz. heads they bring in, which makes them very assiduous and thereby they prevent a great deal of damage.
When the canes are ripe, which is known by the flags appearing above their Collour, which is then the same with that of ripe (IW) they are cut up by hand with a Bill, and after the tops and flags are chopped of, they are tied up in bundles and carried to the Mill in Carts or upon Horses or mules, the latter is best because the weight of the Carts often destroy or hurt the roots of those that are cut, and occation the trouble of supplying them. the Cane tops and flags are saved and thrown to the Cattle, and is a great support to them in Crop time, being very nourishing.
The Mills in this Island are generally wrought by Cattle, horses or Mules, the latter are Esteemed the best, Because they are hardy, of a quicker draught, and much easier Supported than cattle, for they will feed upon some bushes & other Shrubs which Cattle will not touch. there are allso severall Water Mills, which are made after the English manner, but very few if any wind Mills, the Winds here not being so Constant, as in the Leeward Islands, where they generally blow night and day.
In the Cattle mills, the oxen, Mules, or Horses are put into tackle, and turn by Sweeps or poles the middle Rowler, which is made of wood and cased with Iron, and being coged to others at the upper end turn them about; they all turn upon the same Center made of brass or Steal, they are so Easy that a man taking hold of one of the poles or Sweeps, with one hand may turn (ff. 195) all the Rowlers about; but, when the canes are in, it is a good draught for Six Oxen, mules, or Horses. a Negro puts the Canes on one side, and the Rowler draws them through on the other, where another Negro Stands to receive & return them through the other side of the middle rowler which draws the other way. the bruised cane is dried in the sun and made use of a fuell under the Copper but it is a weak and uncertain fire, much (IW) to wood or Coales; nevertheless it is generally used, being a very great saving, Especially on those Plantations, that have not wood in plenty as in Ligunica(?), and other places, though Even where wood is plenty, it saves labour.
underneathe the Rowlers is a hollow place which receives the juice that is Squeezed from the cane and by leaden pipes or Gutters is conveyed inside(?) a Cistern, where it must not remain above 2 or 3 hours, least it turns Sower & from thence it is Conveyed through a gutter into a Clarefier, and then boyled untill all the filth or gross matter riseing at the top is Skimmed of; from those Skimmings Rum is made, as will be shown in its proper place. the Clarefier is the largest Copper and as the liquor refines it is taken out and put into a second Copper, and so into a 3, 4 and 5 and some into a 6 & 7th all of difference Sizes, the last being the least is Called the lack, where it boyles longest. it is continually kept boyling and Stiring, till it comes to a Consistency; But after all it would only be a Clamy Substance, without turning a to a Grain, were it not for the temper which is thrown into it. the ordinary temper is unslacked lime which the Boyler, as the manager is Called, proportions to the bigness of the Copper it is thrown into, and the nature of the liquor. nor can any sort of muscovado Sugar be made, without temper of some or other, for without the juice of the cane would never coagulate, and form into a body, nor acquire a consistence, but remain a dull thick syrup, of a gross heavy nature, neither pleasant nor wholesome. When the liquor rises up with a turbulent body, occationed by the foundation of the temper, and the head of the fire, they throw in tallow grease or Byle, the quantity in proportion to the nature of the liquor, and its boyling or rising(?), this will immediatly make it fall, though the Copper Contains 250 or 300 gallons. from the tach which is the last and least Copper it is conveyed into the cooling Cistern, made (ff. 196) of wood and generally lined with Copper or tin, here it remains till it thickens & cooled When it is put into Potts and removed(?) to the Curing house, and Set upon pans, or(?) Drips, which receives the Mollasses that drops from them. the molasses is Conveyed into the Distilling House and put into a Cistern; Sometimes it is boiled over again and a Coarser sort of Sugar made of it, which is called Panells(?). in 5 or 6 weeks the sugar is commonly cured, but that in some measure(?) depends on the Weather, for if it happens to be rainy when they are at worke, it will not Cure kindly, and sometimes occasionally(?) is to be moist, and heavy.
from the Curing Houses the polls are Carried to the Barbicues as they are called, (IW) is a Stage erected near it, about (IW) feet in height, and 12 feet square, where the Sugar is turned out, and the tops and bottoms chopped of; these are of a different collour and quality, the top is of a light(?) frothy Substance, and the bottom (IW) and heavy, they are therefore separated and mixed by themselves.
The difference in Muscovado Sugar as to the goodness of the Collour, and largeness of the grain is owing to the nature of the soil, the Art or Experience of the Boiler, and sometimes to the Seasons. the best soil, and the most Esteemed in England, is of a lively Whiteish, or of a bright Straw Collour, with a large sparkling grain; of this Sort Jamaica has allways been famous, very little bring produced in the rest of the British or French Islands, which come up to their first sort of muscovado Sugar. very little of this Commodity is clayed or refined in the Island, not were Enough for their own Consumption; though I am informed there is a Sugar Baker lately set up, and has built proper conveniencys at Kingston, and meets with Encouragement.
I have been the most particular in the manner of raising and manufacturing this plant, as it is the principall commodity of the British Commerce in America; and indeed if we consider the immense Vallue of what is annually imported from this Island only, that it is the produce of labour, the Employment it gives to our navigation, Seamen and others, and the great sums paid to His (ff. 197) Majesty for Dutys, the Sugar Colonies, and more particularly this Island, may very justly be deemed equall to as any Gold and Silver mines. it appears from hence, (IW) Expensively and with what care & labour the Planters worke up this Commodity; the severall buildings that are necessary, but raised and preserved at a great Expense, Subject to many accidents, and especially from the great and Constant fires they are obidged to keep during the Crop, for when they begin to work or grind their canes they continue at it night and day, Sunday Excepted, relieving their Servants, Negroes, and beasts every four hours.
the Skimmings of the Coppers, and the driping(?) of the potts, are preserved and improved, being(?) conveyed into Cisterns, as I have observed, (IW) they ferment, and are then drawn by pipes into Still, in a House adjoining, to the (IW) workes, and it is from thence called the Distillation House. Here they are distilled & rectified(?) into a Spirit well known by the name Rum, which grows(?) those and more into use is generally prefered(?) to French brandy and by many to Arrack. it is Certainly more wholesome than the former, and has many medicinall Virtues in it, which will make it more valued as they come to be known particularly in Various(?) Cases, Colds, and Rheumaticks pains; and the following Experiment, will in some measure Evince what I have asserted, put a piece of Raw flesh into Rum and, it will be found to preserve it, whereas Brandy will by degrees waste & impair it.
A sugar worke is a great and Expensive thing and cannot be setled under 5 or £600 often. as there must be a great Strength of Negroes to carry it on, beside Cattle, horses, mules Waines(?), and very costly buildings. Whoever settles one on Credit and pays 8%, per annum, the legal Interest of the Island, must be a Slave during life and his Son after Him, unless Sugar bear a better price than they did from 1725 to 1736, when they commonly sold from 14 to 25(?), which is not 20 in an average, (IW) some Encouragement (IW) toil, by lesoning (IW). He must therefore be a man of Substance that attempts to settle a sugar works at once, & bring it to perfection in 3 or 4 years, which is the (ff. 198) shortest time it can be done in, though some have made and they may begin to make Sugar in 18 months or two years. but, the (IW) method is to begin with 15 to 20 negroes, who are first employed to clear a piece of and, build themselves houses, and to plant provisions for their Subsistance; the Planter then opens(?) more land, and plants Ginger, Cotton, or some other Commodity that is raised with a few hands; as he thrives he purchases more(?) negroes, clears more land; and when he finds himself in a Condition, or able to attempt it by his Credit, and the assistance of friends, he then goes upon settling a Sugar worke, though some of them, in my (IW) would have been much Riche men, had they never attempted it, but Continued in the way in which they first Set out but in raising Provisions and Garden Stuff for sale, Ginger & other Commoditys, But, seing the prosperous condition of some of their Neighbours, they were tempted to take the same measures without considering their ability, or the difference of their Soil and other advantages, for (IW) of which they involved themselves in debt, and paying such high Interest, have not been able to Extricate themselves; Nay some have had their Estates eaten up by that means and the lowness of their produce in Europe. this ought to be a Caution to all young Planters, how they proceed, and not to attempt things that are out of their Strength and Reach.