In de hoogtijdagen van Sint Eustatius, toen het eiland een centrum van de handel tussen Europa en de West was, doet een “lady of quality” verslag van hoe het eiland eruit zag. Wat wij nu “lower town” noemen, was helemaal volgebouwd en daar kon je als particuliere reiziger heel goedkoop de mooiste spullen kopen. In die dagen arriveerden er soms 20 schepen per dag!
Lady of Quality
One lady of quality, Janet Schaw, upon arriving in St. Eustarius on January 19, 1775, reflected her impressions of the island:
“In a few hours after we left St. Kitts, we landed on St. Eustatius, a free port, which belongs to the Dutch; a place of vast traffick from every quarter of the globe.
The ships of various nations which rode before it were very fine, but the island itself the only ugly one I have seen. Nor do I think that I would stay on it for any bribe.
Up to 20 ships a day visited Statia when it was known as the ‘Golden Rock’
in the 18th century. Is Statia on the verge of regaining its former prosperity?
It is, however, an instance of Dutch industry a little inferior to their dykes; as one half of the town is gained off of the sea, which is fenced by Barracadoes, and the other dug out of an immense mountain of sand and rock—which rises to a great height….
I understand, however, that the whole riches of the island consist of its merchandise, and that they are obliged to the neighboring Islands for sustenance, while they in return furnish them with contraband commodities of all kinds….
But I never did meet with such variety! Here was a merchant vending his goods in Dutch, another in French, a third in Spanish, etc., etc. They all wear the habit of their country, and diversity is really amusing. The first that welcomed us ashore was a set of Jews…. I had never seen a Jew in his habit, except Mr. Diggs in the character of Shylock….
From one end of the town of Eustatia to the other is a continued mart, where goods of the most different uses and qualities are displayed before the shop doors. Here hand rich embroideries, painted silks, flowered Muslins, with all the Manufactures of the Indies. Just by, hang Sailors Jackets, trousers, shoes, hats, etc….
The next stall contains the most beautiful indeed I ever saw, and close by these were iron pots, kettles and shovels. Perhaps the next presents you with French and English milinery wares. But it were too endless to enumerate the variety of merchandise in such a place, for in every store you find everything, be their qualities ever so opposite.
I bought a quantity of excellent French gloves for fourteen pence the pair, also English thread stockings cheaper than I could buy them at home. . .
We purchased excellent claret for less than two shilling a bottle, and Portugese wines of different kinds very cheap… (The Journal of a Lady of Quality pp. 135—138).