Legends Of The Bocas, Trinidad [Text]

Legends of the Bocas


First Puisne Judge, Trinidad and Tobago


An Introduction by Sir John Chancellor, K.C.M.G.
Governor and Commander-in-Chief of that Colony,





Printed in Great Britain
by J. J. Kelimer & Co., Ltd., 11, Marshalsea Road, London, S.E.1.


THESE legends, inspired— nay, it may be said created—
by the scenes to which they relate, with little oral, and
less written or printed tradition to account for the marvels
they contain (except Legends XVII to XXI, which are his-
torical), came to their recipient at intervals during the course
of fifteen years' residence in what is undoubtedly one of the
most beautiful islands in the world. Some, such as "M'an
Grosdent," Los Cotorros," "The Presbyter and the Pitch-
Men," came to him in mirth. Others such as "Duendes'
Mead," "The Three Caves," "La Divina Pastora," "A
Morning Vision," came to him in sorrow. All alike, however,
came of themselves, with little or no drudgery of literary
composition. To the genius loci, therefore, is due any merit
they may possess. For their demerits, which doubtless are
numerous, the deficiencies of the medium ought to be remem-
bered. Non sum dignus, though the deity have entered. When,
instead of a dry lawyer, some true vates sacer visits these shores,
or (as will doubtless happen, though the Serpent forgot to
mention it), one springs from the soil, then shall be seen the
fulness of the inspiration of Trinidad woods and caves and
waterfalls, and the amazing Bocas del Drago.

The identities of "Scribbler," who wrote the verses, and
of "Ignotus," who edited them, may safely be left to the
imagination of the reader.

Port of Spain,
29th March, 1922.


I. Dedication To A Child 1
II. The Serpent's Prophecy 3
III. Saint Mary's Bay and the Phantom Boat 7
IV. The Authentic Legend of M'an Grosdent 10
V. The Man of Eld's First Tale 14
VI. Corsair's Bay 22
VII. Boca Chimes 35
VIII. The Three Caves 37
IX. La Sierra Del Diablo 31
X. Sainte Marie de Teteron 33
XI. A Morning Vision 42
XII. Los Cotorros 47
XIII. The Soucouyen of Sodor 49
XIV. The Presbyter and the Pitch-Men 51
XV. Paoua's Bay 55
XVII. Cristobal Colon 73
XVIII. Raleigh's Comings 77
XIX. Lament for Apodocca 81
XX. Nelson and Villeneuve 84
XXI. Picton's Dream 86
XXII. The Man of Eld's Second Tale 92
XXIII. Blackbeard's Song 103
XXIV. Brigand Hill 106
XXV. La Divina Pastora 108
XXVI. Mercedes' Message 122
XXVII. Comparisons 124
XXVIII.A Wraith 127
XXIX. A Boca Rose 129

Epilogue 132


Statue of Columbus facing page 4
Copper Hole 8
First Boca — Sierra del Diablo and M'an Teteron's Tooth 1o
Hart's Cut : "Goppee" 16
Corsair's Bay (Winn's Bay) 22
Second Boca 26
Teteron Bay 34
Lennegan, In the Five Islands 48
Maracas 50
(a) Pitch Lake 52
(h) Pitch Lake 52
La Tinta Bay, Chacachacare 62
A Cacique's Grave 74
The Road to El Dorado 78
A Mountain Brook 100
Where Teach Landed 106
High Woods 108


I HAVE been requested by my friend Mr. Justice Russell
to write an introduction to his volume "Legends of the Bocas."

Though I have no qualifications for such a task, I have
undertaken it because he has asked me to do so, and because
I take a very great interest in everything connected with

Those who have never visited the tropics cannot visualise
the physical beauties of Trinidad with its valleys and clear
running streams, with its mountain ranges clad to their highest
peaks with luxuriant vegetation and lit by a vertical sun whose
fierce rays are tempered by the humidity of the atmosphere.
To the inhabitants of cold grey northern lands, the climate is
enervating; but to those who from youth have lived there,
Trinidad is as a country where it is ever afternoon.

It is a mistake to believe that the inhabitants of the tropics
do not work hard; but it is true that there is no part of the
world where idleness is so easy and so agreeable as in the tropics.
Few of those who have lived long in them can be ignorant of
the temptation to lead a life of dreamy idleness under those
sunny skies. In the pleasant island of Trinidad, Candide's
maxim: "il faut cultiver notre jardin" does not apply; for
a scratch will make its fertile soil yield all that is necessary
for a man of simple wants.

An English visitor recently addressing a Trinidadian re-
posing by the road side, said to him: "What are you doing
there, passing the time, I suppose?" "No," was the reply,
"No, I am letting the time pass me." But it is not because
that attitude is general that no one, so far as I am aware, has
up to now made a collection of the local legends of Trinidad.
It is because the energies of those who are qualified to write
them are fully occupied in developing the resources of the Island,
of which nearly one half still remains under virgin forest. All
good Trinidadians, therefore, and all who have known and loved
Trinidad owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Justice Russell,
than whom Trinidad has no warmer friend and sympathetic
admirer, for preserving their local legends in the picturesque
and imaginative medium he has chosen for the present volume.

London, 24.4.22.

p. xi

SOURCE: Legends of the Bocas, Trinidad. By A.D. Russell, London: Cecil Palmer, 1922.

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!