The Family of the Barrett: A Colonial Romance

The Family of the Barrett: A Colonial Romance

The Family of the Barrett: A Colonial Romance

The Family of the Barrett: A Colonial Romance


To solve some of the mysteries of Cinnamon Hill, Jamaica, one of the ancestral Jamaican homes of the Barretts, and other matters of interest in Elizabeth Barrett Browning's past, we had set out for the West Indies. By land and by sea we had travelled some seventeen hundred miles for what was to follow, and we did not know what that was to be! We had come to Jamaica because I was convinced that behind the brief, available references to Barrett ancestry and influence in the Browning biographies lay more information. In the Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning the statement by Mrs. Browning's authoritative editor, Sir Frederic G. Kenyon, was, to my mind, typical of the general sense of helplessness:

Nothing is to be gained by trying to trace back the genealogy of the Barrett family, and it need merely be noted that it had been connected for some generations with the island of Jamaica, and owned considerable estates there.

We had come for a second reason: the growing conviction of the importance of that influence.

I felt that my conviction had not as yet been shared by others to any extent when I asked an official of the Island a question about Mrs. Browning.

"Yes," he said, "I know Mrs. Browning, and I understand she is expected to arrive next week!"

Like some mirage of southern seas, the two words "Cinnamon Hill" had developed, dimmed and faded, and, as with others, so with this mirage, to disappear was to reappear on the horizon of consciousness. Unfortunately the mirage of that . . .

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