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Of the earliest inhabitants of him, claimed Tobago as an appanage of the English crown. The latter sovereign made a present of the island to the Earl of Pembroke in 1628, after the colony from Barbados had come to a bloody end; but volunteer settlers were not, apparently, forthcoming, and the new owner was unable to make any use of the gift. Four years later, however, three hundred people from Flushing, ignoring British claims in the fashion which the international courtesy of that day made usual, landed in Tobago, called the place "New Walcheren," started a colony, and in less than twelve months were ignominiously expelled by a handful of Spaniards from Trinidad, aided by Indian war-parties. The subsequent adventures of the men of Flushing is not recorded, for the "three hundred persons" drop back into the oblivion from which they had emerged but for a moment, and the waves of time close over their heads.
Tobago nothing is known, and barely a trace remains. The doomed Carib race, which elsewhere has been absorbed or blotted out by men of sterner breeds, probably peopled Tobago once, as it peopled so many islands of the middle western Atlantic; but since first history, as we understand it, began, this little fragment of rock and loam, set eternally in the summer seas, has held no native, indigenous population. Occasionally stone implements are found, proving that in prehistoric times a people, to whose forgotten existence these rude tools alone bear witness, roamed along the shores and through the forests of Tobago; and from Trinidad, the peaks of whose mountains are visible from Scarborough, wandering bands of Caribs made occasional descents upon its coasts. It was such a visitation as this which, in 1625, caused the destruction of the English settlement from Barbados an incident that possibly suggested to Defoe the arrival of the savages with their prisoner Man Friday, since that author is popularly supposed to have used descriptions of Tobago as the background for his 'Robinson Crusoe.'
Be this how it may, the first British navigators to land in Tobago came thither in 1580, and found the island uninhabited. No settlement was established, though in that year the British flag was hoisted on the island, and James I., and his son after
the southern coast of Tobago. Although divided from another by only a few miles of forest-covered hills, the two colonies maintained friendly relations for a space; but in 1658 the Dutch attacked the Courlanders and routed them utterly. Once more the vanquished disappear from the scene, without a hint to indicate what was their fate or what their subsequent adventures. Evidently the seventeenth century was not a good period during which to find oneself upon the losing sidemore especially if the scene of defeat chanced to be a remote island of the West.
of Courland, who had been held one a prisoner for some years by the King of Sweden, was released, and at once made use of his liberty to demand the restitution of Tobago from the Dutch. This was, of course, refused (among the prehensile folk of Holland it is not a national failing to surrender too easily that which has been once acquired), and the aggrieved Duke sought redress at the hands of Charles II. of England, of all unlikely allies. Charles promptly presented the Duke with a grant of the island of Tobago, to which was attached the sole condition that it should be colonised exclusively by British subjects.
It was about this time that Louis XIV. asserted a claim, in the name of France, to Tobago, the French being the fifth European nation, if the predatory Spanish expedition of 1632 be taken into account, which had concerned itself with the ownership of this little island. This claim appears to have been based upon nothing sounder than the purely general and acquisitive principles of that landgrabbing age; but the merchant of Flushing, Adrian Lampsius, who had sent out the expedition to the southern coast of Tobago in 1654, thought it prudent to acquiesce and to seek the protection of
Grand Monarque, from whose hands he received the title of Baron de Tobago.
Under the protection of so powerful an overlord the honest Dutch merchants probably promised themselves a period of peace; but in 1664 the Duke
Armed with this document, the Duke set to work to organise a filibustering expedition, certain merchants of London aiding him in his plans on a purely business basis; and in 1666 four vessels left the Thames, and, after a slight resistance, obtained possession of the island-the Dutch Commandant and his garrison of 150 men being taken prisoners. In the same year the English admiral, Sir John Harnian, gained a victory off the shores of Tobago over the combined fleets of France and Holland; Bloody Bay, so called from the colour of the water after the battle was ended, and its inlet, Dead Man's Bay, on the shores of which the corpses were washed up, remaining to this day to bear their serene and smiling testimony to the ruthless fashion in which the strife was waged.
The triumph of England in Tobago, however, was destined on this occasion to be shortlived, for before the year was out M. Vincent, the French Governor of Grenada, sent a tiny force of "five-and-twenty well-armed volunteers with two drums," which, by what in modern times we should call a skilful piece of "bluff," succeeded in cowing the British commander into ignominious surrender. This reads like a piece of quite recent history, and would seem to show that the gentle art of "handsupping"-the journalists not withstanding-is by no means a wholly fin de siècle acquirement of our race.
The French, however, appear to have attached but little importance to Tobago, save as a means of "scoring off" the English, for possession of the island was suffered to pass once more to the Dutch, after the French had destroyed by fire all the buildings then existing on its shores. Six years later the British, under Sir Tobias Bridges, swooped down upon Tobago, took it from the Dutch, and carried away more than 400 white prisoners and a similar number of negroes; all of whom, it is probable, were distributed, according to the gentle custom of the time, among the British plantations, there to work out the remainder of their lives as slaves, without distinction of rank or age or sex or colour.
In spite of this "regrettable incident," however, the Dutch, with characteristic tenacity, speedily resettled Tobago, and
the new colony was flourishing apace when, in 1677, the sturdy Hollanders found that they had to deal with yet another enemy. The foe this time was France, a filibustering fleet of that nation, under the command of the Comte d'Estrees, making a sudden descent upon the island. As luck would have it, several Dutch ships were in port, and fierce battle was done between them and the French vessels, what time a formidable landing-party from the latter delivered an assault upon the Dutch stronghold ashore. From both encounters the Hollanders emerged triumphant, d'Estrees losing his ship, the Gloriam, of seventy guns, which was blown up, while two other smaller vessels were stranded, the landing-party being at the same time defeated with a loss of 350 men killed and wounded. It was, in fact, what is popularly called a "bad break from d'Estrees' point of view, and that wise man was quick to recognise the fact. He stayed only to pick up as much of the broken bits as could hurriedly be garnered, and then set sail for France without more ado, though homecomings in those days had few attractions for the discredited hero. France, he knew, however, would not lightly accept such a blow in the face as the Dutchmen had dealt her; but a thoroughly efficient weapon must lie ready to his hand if the blow was to be returned with interest. Nothing could be effected with his now shattered forces, and to prolong the struggle would only be to con
summate the defeat he had He seems to stand forth toalready sustained. Accordingly his ships lurched off towards the east, and presently the sky-line shut down over their mast-heads and hid them from the sight of the victorious Dutchmen.
The struggle had been fought in ruthless wise, and the Hollanders had suffered in ships and men-had suffered heavily. They knew themselves to be cut off utterly from their base, as was the reckless fashion of that adventurous age; they knew that it was vain for them to hope for reinforcements; they knew that a Frenchman who has been wounded in his national pride is the ugliest kind of Frenchman you can have to deal with, and they knew that the pride of d'Estrees and his fellows had been rudely mangled. The horizon to the eastward had swallowed him: all too soon it would yield him up once more-refreshed, strengthened, renewed-to fight another and a bigger fight with the balance of advantage heavily on his side. These were not cheerful reflections where with to solace the hours of suspense and preparation for the little band of lonely Dutchmen, and their commander, Mijnheer Binks, must have found that they gave furieusement à penser. The Dutch ships drew off to seek some safe careening place, and Mijnheer Binks and his fellows set themselves grimly to the work of making preparation for the fight which was like to be the last that many of them would ever see.
day, a very real and a very human figure, this resolute Dutch commander with the comic-opera name, and as I rode through the isle which witnessed his victory, which was the scene of his anxious vigils, which saw him fight his last fight, and which hides somewhere in its green breast the forgotten grave in which his bones were laid to rest, I could picture him to myself so clearly that it seemed to me that his grim ghost might well be supposed to haunt the land in which he passed so many strenuous days. In imagination I could see him, a sturdy, squat figure with tall, widebrimmed hat, lank locks, splay features, an ample coat of a sad hue, and boots with loosely sagging tops, jolting on his mule up the hill-side, outlined clearly against the calm blue sky. Up and up I watched him go, his head bowed in thought, until, the summit reached, he drew himself erect, and, shading his eyes with one hand, scanned closely the skyline to the east. Many a time he must have passed thus, weighted with the burden of many cares, hoping against hope, and bearing with grim fortitude the dull pang of a painful suspense, what time his fellows down below in the valley toiled day and night to make strong their poor defences. And at last, upon a certain day, as he looked seaward for the hundredth time, the ships of d'Estrees rose stately out of the placid waters of the Atlantic-stately and
over numerous. The time of agonised waiting was passed, suspense was ended, vain hopes lay dead: for Mijnheer Binks and those who trusted in him the tremendous hour-the hour that comes once, but only once, to every man-had sounded!
It was a fierce little roughand-tumble that followed, for the Frenchmen had the memory of a defeat to efface, and the Dutchmen had their backs against the wall,-a position which, as many of our countrymen know, makes the Dutchman an ugly customer to tackle, -but the event was a foregone conclusion. Mijnheer Binks "and most of his officers," as the passionless chronicle has it, were wiped out of existence, many men were slain and wounded, and prisoners to the number of 300 were borne away to France. The whole business was completely wanton and aimless, however, for the Frenchmen seem to have been actuated by no desire to possess Tobago, and abandoned it of their own free will barely two years after the day which saw Binks and his followers fight for it to the death.
globe-trotting chairman of companies, and on his return (still in humble imitation of a later age) he wrote a flaming account of its beauty, its fertility, and its resources,-a prospectus, in fact, and offered to an adventurous and gullible public 120,000 acres of magnificent land on an island whose area is roughly some 75,000 acres! The widow and the orphan and the country clergyman and other guileless souls doubtless embarked their sixpences in the speculation, after the manner of their kind in every age, and with the customary result, for settlers were not forthcoming in any numbers, and the enterprise proved a failure, though I have my suspicions that Captain John Poyntz, unless I misjudge his business acumen, proved himself triumphantly that the labourer is worthy of his hire.
Two years later the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed, and by one of its provisions the little island of Tobago was declared once for all to be neutral territory. Neither the French nor the British appear to have accepted this decision altogether loyally, but it was it was not until 1748, some sixty-four years after the conclusion of the Treaty, that the former again attempted plant a colony on the island. M. le Marquis de Caylus, the French Governor of Martinique, took the infant settlement under his protection, passed a law authorising French subjects to colonise Tobago, and promised that they should have his support if it became neces