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Charles Edwin Taylor om The Fireburn (1888)

Charles Edwin Taylor (født 1843) var en engelsk læge, bosat på St. Thomas og både medlem af og sekretær for the Colonial Council of the Danish Antilles. Han var også forfatter til bl.a. Leaflets from the Danish West Indies (1888) og An Island of the Sea (1895) – sidstnævnte om St. Thomas. Følgende uddrag fra Leaflets from the Danish West Indies er fra kapitlet om The Laborers Riot (The Fireburn), 1878.

Uddrag fra Charles Edwin Taylor: Leaflets from the Danish West Indies – en beskrivelse af The Social, Political, and Commercial Condition of these Islands. Dawson & Sons, 1888, gentrykt af Kessinger Legacy Reprints, side 157-162.

 

In the meanwhile, the puncheons of rum stored up in the warehouses began to burst one after the other with a report like a cannon, their contents giving fresh impetus to the devouring element. The streets ran fire, burning up on the Bay-street a number of hogheads of sugar that laid there ready for shipment, and hundreds of the rioters were dancing like mad around them. The women – and they seemed the worst – danced and sang, or rather howled, the men joined in chorus, clashed their sticks, blew their shells, and set fire. Shrieking, yelling, and leaping, their lithe forms lighted up by the glare around them, they looked more like a legion of fiends than things human. ‘Our Side’ was their watchword, and it fared ill with the trembling townsfolk who would not repeat it with them. To relate all the insults which many of these wretches put upon some of the ladies who fell into their clutches, to relate all the misery, despair, and anxiety that filled the breast of every civilised man, woman, and child that night would fill volumes. Husbands were separated from their wives, parents from their children, and fear reigning paramount, each one sought safety in flight. Some found shelter in the churches, and a few others on board the barque ‘Carib’ which lay in the roadstead, from whose brightly illuminated decks they could see their town and their homes and all they held dear burning hopelessly away. Many shed tears, as they saw some relic that for years had been treasured topple over into the flames. Nothing was too sacred for this band of monsters. They sat down to the pianos, and knocked their rough hands on them, apeing the airs, as they said, of their mistresses. The tiny shoe, the frock, or the portrait of some loved one was thrown with a gibe and a jeer into the flames. Not a man dared to save a fraction of what had cost him years to accumulate. And so the hours wore draggingly, cruelly, and wearily along, everyone supposing each moment might be his last […]

Though some of the rioters were shot and others captured, there was no resistance offered – they simply fled in terror, the moment they saw that the Government had yet the power and the will to punish them for their misdeeds […]

 

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