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IN THE YEARS 1788, 1789, AND 1790.
BY FRANCIS ALEXANDER STANISLAUS,
BARON DE WIMPFFEN.
TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT,
WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN PUBLISHED,
BY J. WRIGHT.
Les Voyages font bons, non pour rapporter fukment combien de pas
aSANCTA ROTUNDA o lacouleur descalekonsdela SIGNORA
LIVIA, mais pourfrotter et limer noetre cervedle centre cell
PRINTED FOR T. CADELL, JUNIOR, AND W. DAVIES,
(SUCCESSORS TO MR. CADELL) IN THE STRAND;
AND J. WRIGHT, OPPOSITE OLD BOND-
M DCC CXVII.
* } t9 \ k
29 jU 97O
HIS SERENE HIGHNESS
THE HEREDITARY PRINCE,
DUKE OF WIRTEMBERG, AND TECKj
PRINCE OF MONTBEILLARb, COUNT AND SEIGNEUR
OF fIlMPURG, GAILDORF, &c. &c. &c. LIEUTENANT
GENERAL IN THE SERVICE OF RUSSIA, MAJOR
GENERAL OF THE CIRCLE OF SWABIA,
KNIGHT AND COMMANDER IN EXPECT.-
ANCY OF THE ORDER OF SAINT JOHN
OF JERUSALEM? KNIGHT OF THE
ORDERS OF SAINT ANDREW, OF
SAINT ALEXANDER NEWSKYS
AND OF WIRTEMBERG,
&c. &c. &c.
YOUR SERENE HIGHNESS, in condefcend-
ing to accept the homage of a produfion, which
can at moft, pretend to mediocrity, certainly
gives in this, teftimony, of kindnefs, a frefh
proof of the candour and indulgence which
charaaerife true fuperiority. Thofe who
have the honour to know and approach Y o u
SERENE HIGHNESS, will not be furprifed at it.
But if, inftlead of a fevere cenfor, I have only
found in You an indulgent Patron, let the
public, at leaft, know that it would have been
difficult for me to have chofen, even amongRf
the beft informed men, a judge more enlight-
ened, or more capable, from his multifirious
erudition, and from the purity of his tafte, to
decide on the merit of any literary work what-
No prince in Europe, Sir, I might, perhaps,
fay, no traveller, knows this quarter of the
world better than YouR SERENE HIGHNESS,
Germany, Ruffia, Holland, France, Swiffer-
land, and Italy, have all, in their turn, feen You
examine their produdions, their induftry, and
the manners of their inhabitants. You have
fucceffively paffed from the rocks of Helvetia
to the dock-yards of Sardam; from the ruins
of Herculaneum to the plains of the Crimea:
and You are now about to complete the course
bf your obfervations amongft a people as Wor-
thy of being known, as any of thofe You have
hitherto feen; and from whom You will af.
furedly carry away, with the moft advanta-
geous opinion, the efteem and the regrets--
fo much the more lively, as your departure
will be, for Great Britain, the epoch of a lofs
which fhe would consider as irreparable, if the
virtues to which every Englifhman pays fo
fincere a tribute of love and refped1, in the
person of the PRI*NCESS ROYAL, were not a
patrimony which that country is certain of
finding again in each of the members of Her
While I regret, Sir, that this feeble tribute is
fo little worthy ofYOUR SERENE HIGHNESS,
I have fill the confolatory knowledge that
You will appreciate it, lefs by its own value,
than by the fentiment which induces me to lay
it at your feet; and that You will have the
a 2 goodnefs
goodnefs to judge of my gratitude by the fin-'
cerity of my. attachment, and the profound
refped with which I am,
YOUR SERENE HIGHNESS'
Moft humble and
Moft obedient Servant,
The BARON DE WIMPFFEN.
April 15th, 1797.
I SENT to the prefs, in 1788, Letters of
" a Traveller," which were merely an extraEt
from a more voluminous work, I proposed
printing with my Voyage to the Cape of Good
" Hope ;" when, called to Saint Domingo by
particular circumflances, I faw myfelf obliged
to renounce the publication of a work which,
in the prefent situation of affairs, might poffi-
bly not have been uninteresting to the reader.
The following pages contain a part of my
observations during a refidence of two years in
the richeft and moft flourifhing of all the colo-
nies. It will be objected, perhaps, that to fome
details of importance I have joined others of too
minute and trifling a nature for fuch as look for
nothing in voyages but great political and
commercial events. To this I might reply,
that something muft be allowed to egoifm,
which no more exempts travellers than other
people, from the weaknefs of attaching a cer-
tain value to the honour of occupying for a
moment the attention of the public. But, ex-
clufive of this confideration, there are many
readers more or lefs pleaded with what may
be called the dramatic part of a book of travels;
and I frankly confefs that I am one of the
The work, however, is very far from being
fo complete as it might have been, if unfore-
feen events had npt compelled me to leave, in
a depot from whence it may never be poflible
for me to recover them, together with the
manuscript of my Voyage to the Cape of Good
" Hope," a variety of materials, by the affiftance
of which I proposed fome day or other, to
give a greater extension to my obfervatipns on
I am fill farther from flattering myfelf,
either that the fevere freedom of my remarks
will not draw upon me an ardent opposition,
or that I am never in the wrong. We ought
" to exterminate all travellers," fays a modern
writer, if their relations are to be refused
" every degree of credit, the infant it ap-
" pears they have not had the good fortune
" to efcape the fudden deceptions of their
" own imaginations, or the difingenuoufnefs
" of others." *
Setting afide the degree of confidence my
obfervations may merit, it is certain that very
important ones might, at prefent, be made on
the manner in which the conqueft of Saint
Domingo has been conduaed: without enter-
ing into details, however, which would only
fatigue the reader, I hall confine myfelf to the
The fuppofition that nothing more was ne-
ceffary for the conquest of Saint Domingo,
than getting poffeffion of the chief towns, fuch
as Cape-Francois, the Mole, Port-au-Prince,
&c. and. confequently of the rich poffeffions
in their neighborhoods, proceeded from a
falfe principle. Such taEtics, with all due
Hifloire Generake 4 lI'Afie, de l'Afri'ue, et de l'Amirique,
fubmiffion, I cannot help comparing to that
of thofe intrepid Buccaneers who fancied they
had manceuvred with great adroitnefs when
they had furprifed a poft, or formed a town-
which they were obliged to abandon inflantly,
after a hafty pillage!
No well-informed military man will deny
that, generally speaking, more courage, and
lefs fkill has been fhewn in this war than in
any preceding one. Turenne and Montecu-
culi made ten campaigns, and as many con-
quefts, without fighting a single battle : at pre-
fent, ten battles are fought in a single campaign;
and the moft paltry conqueft, the moflt equi-
vocal fuccefs is only obtained by prodigies of
valour, and rivers of blood. *
I-am-very-arTrom deriving great talents to fome of the
generals of the two parties. H yaven forbid the Archduke
Charles should ever realize the promises of his early youth,
and prove hereafter, a C.efar in genius, as he is already in
courage and in birth. With refpedl to the French com-
manders and their fucceffes-It is, I believe, not very ge-
nerally known that their fo much admired manceuvres are
the work of the genius of the great generals of the Age of
Louis XIV. and that the well concerted, but ill executed
plan of the laft campaign, has lain, in all its details, for near
an hundred years in the war-office at Verfailles : but Moregu
is not a Turenne, jourdan is not a Luxemburg, Buonaparte him-
felf is not a Villars, though he fancies he is a Condi.
I know no method of conquering a country
effe6tually, but by taking poffeflion of the po-
fitions which defend it. The Englifh, rafters
of thefe positions, of the fea, and of the defiles,
which, in a country like Saint Domingo, render
all communication between the different quar-
ters extremely difficult; Leogane, Port-au-
Prince, and the Cape, unfupplied with pro-
vifions, muff have fallen in a fhort time; and
in fo much the shorter, as by confining them-
felves to the blockade of thefe places, nothing
would have been more eafy than to divert
the fitreams which fupplied them with water;
thus reducing their garrifons to the alternative
of an honourable capitulation, or of perifhing
with hunger and thirfl. An ordinary man
would have fpent his whole life before Tyre
without taking it: Alexander conflrus' a
dyke, and Tyre capitulates! Nothing proves
the total abfence of a Genius for war more than
not knowing how to advance a flep beyond the
track traced out by Art.
It appears to me then, that, in a country
every where thinly inhabited in proportion to
its extent, and which, more or lefs a prey to
inteftline divifions, was defended by widely
fcattered forces, the only proper method of
proceeding was to infulate the different parts
of defence, by interrupting, with well-chofen
positions, the chain of communications: and
then confining the whole to a war of out-poflls,
without undertaking any fiege, or risking any
engagement, but what a firift adherence to a
well-combined fyftem of defenfive operations
might neceffitate. *
Independent of the benefits which the afli-
vity and ftrength of the Englifh marine fe-
cured to the troops on fhore, its fuperiority
gave them another advantage of the moft ma-
terial confequence. The French army could
only be recruited by levies fent from Europe;
the Englifh had in the neighbourhood, besides
their ancient poffeffions, the lately conquered
iflands of Martinico and Saint Lucia; from
whence the-troops in Saint Domingo might
have received daily reinforcements.
Strialy speaking, I know that one army may always force
another to fight. But I know, too, that if the army attacked
be not in a bad position, or commanded by a fool, it is al-
ways an hundred to one that the attacking army is well
Undoubtedly the fyflem I propose would
require a much greater number of troops than
were, in fadt, employed :-but as I have nei-
ther the ambition nor the leifure to trace out
in this place, fuch a plan of operation as the
conqueft of Saint Domingo feems to demand,
I hall content myfelf with a few general inti-
In my opinion, then, it would have been
neceffary to aft with three different bodies of
troops, of five or fix thoufand each, including
the planters and negroes in the interest of the
Englifh. One of thefe bodies, by landing on
the fouthern coaft, where it would have been
supported by the majority of the colonifts; and
rapidly advancing to the fummit and gorges
of the mountains, which separate this fide of
the ifland from that of the North, would, by
this single movement, have acquired two im-
portant advantages, 1. That of menacing, at
one and the fame time, all the eflablifhments
between Port-au-Prince, and Petit-Goave; and
2. That of infulating all that part of the ifland
which firetches from this laft place to Cape
Tiburon: and if the two other columns had
moved at the fame infant, one from Mole-
Saint-Nicholas, or Port-au-Prince, the other
from Cape Frangois, or Fort Dauphin, fo as
to form ajundtion near Plaifance, and fall with
united forces upon Artibonita, while the fleet
had fucceffively fhewn itfelf on different points
of the coafts; it is probable that the French,
thus attacked and menaced on all fides, would
have been obliged either to extend their troops
too much, or to unite them in a central point,
where it would be fo much the eafier to block
them up, as (provided the Englifh were on any
terms with the Spaniards) five or fix hundred
riflemen of that nation, divided into platoon?,
would fuffice to harrafs their flanks. The ad-
vice which the fon of Mithridates gave his
father, might in the circumstances I have fup.
pofed, be remembered with advantage:
Que les Romains preff6s de l'un a l'autre bout,
Doutent oui vous ferez, et vous trouvent partout.
I am aware of the objeCtions which may be
made to this plan of attack ; but, obferving by
the way, that every military operation, how
well foever concerted it may be, has its weak
fide, and its dangers, I fall cite a faEl, of
which I was witnefs, and which appears tq me
perfeEtly applicable to the circumstances in
question. The authority of a precept is never
fo well eflablifhed as by the example which re-
lates to it.
When the French, in 1768, invaded Corfica,
they fell into. the famnie error as the Englifh at
Saint Domingo: they attacked it with an infuf-
ficient force; and. experienced the fate referved
for every operation thus frittered into infigni-
ficance. The battles of Borgo and Saint
Nicholas had, by O&ober, fo reduced and dif-
perfed the French troops, that they had even
loft the communication between Baftia and
Fiorenza. A reinforcement of fix battalions
enabled them to recover it, and to advance as
far as Oletta.' This momentary fuccefs, how-
ever, would by no means have anfwered the
end propdfed, if the attack of Barbagio, in
February 1769, well combined in its details,
perfectly military in its whole, and admirably
executed in it outlet, had been better fupport-
ed by the iflanders-for it ought to have driven
us from Corfica.
It was then the Court of Verfailles compre-
hended, for the firfl time, the neceffity of pro-
ceeding more methodically, and with more
adequate means, to the conquest of a country
which the nature of the ground, the fanaticifm
of liberty, infidious negotiations, and the fe.
cret affiftance of England, would have defend-
ed a long time against all the efforts of France;
if the military talents of the officers of this
brave people had equalled the refources of the
genius of their chief.
The plan of the Marefchal de Vaux, who
landed in the fpring of 1769, with an army for-
midable in comparison of that which he had to
combat, was nearly fimilar to what I should
have proposed for Saint Domingo. While he
conduded in perfon the principal attack, Monf.
de Marbceuf, with a division of the army, me-
naced the plain of Mariana, and a strong co-
lumn moving from Ajaccio, direaed its march,
like us, towards Corte, that is, towards the
center of the ifland; of which the conqueft
was completed in the month of July.
,That of Saint Domingo is, without contra-
diftion, of infinitely more importance, and
presents fewer obftacles. If the Englifh with
ferioufly, then, to achieve. it, they muft em-
ploy four means, which I look upon as indif-
penfable: 1". Sufficient forces; 2'. A well-
combined plan of attack ; 3. A fyftem of war-
fare adapted to the country; and 4. The art
of uniting and gaining over the colonifts, by
avoiding every thing that may give to refift-
ance the energy the borrows from the hatred
which the conquered naturally feel for the
I shouldd write a volume instead of a preface,
if I were to enter into all the details of which
the four measures I propofe are fuifoeptible.
The conqueft of Saint Domingo by the.united
efforts of force and perfuafion, is fRill a work
of difficulty : to diffemble, would be to reduce
the overcoming it to an impoffibility-but it
will be much facilitated, if eloquence be allow-
ed to reckon in the number of its arguments a
body of troops sufficient to over-awe.
With regard to myfelf, I (hall only infift in
future on one single point; that the plan of
operations muff be absolutely regulated by the
locality of the theatre of war, and that of
Saint Domingo, neither allowing of manceuv-
ring in a line, nor of aEting with an extended
front, all muff neceffarily be reduced to the
taafics of a mountainous country; as they may
be found fcienitifically developed in the ""Guerre
" des Alpes of thp Marquis de Saint Simon.
I haften to terminate this preface by a fincere
avowal. I have occafion for the degree of con-
fidence which .reckons the fuffrage of friend.
fhip amongft the prefages of fuccefs, to deter-
mine me to publifh this work, at a time when
occupations of a very different kind, and inte-
refts much dearer to my heart than thofe of
felf-love, have deprived me of the leifure I
flood in need of to render it lefs imperfeEL
Havre de Grace,
i WAS not mistaken, Sir, in my conjectures,
when I told you that I did not doubt but fortune
would shortly present me with a frefh opportunity
of pradically extending the little knowledge which
I have already acquired of fome parts of our pla-
net) and of the political, moral and physical ex-
iftence of the different nations which inhabit it.
To fay the truth, I by no means consider this
knowledge as absolutely neceffary to our happinefs;
but when accident prefents us with the means of
obtaining it, negligence would certainly be inex-
cufable: if it does not increase our ftock of hap.
pinefs, it may at leaft tend to render us lefs pre-
In fpite of an observation of Seneca's *, it might
certainly render us extremely ufeful to fociety, if,
to the talent of drawing juft conclufions from
accurate obfervations, we fortunately joined the
power of infpiring the ignorant with a degree of
modefty sufficient to enable them to comprehend
that there are truths, derived from experience,
which, notwithstanding they may run counter to
the routine of cuftom, the prejudices of habit,
and the principles of a contracted education, are,
from that very circumftance, admirably calculated
to extend at once the boundaries of the narrow
circle in which they vegetate, and the means of
being more focial; in other words, more necef.
fary, and more ferviceable to our fellow creatures.
cc It is the extreme of folly," fays Charon f,
" for a man to fancy the whole world ought to
cc think and aft as they do in his village." The-
fool calls every thing barbarous that does not accord
with his own tafte and habitudes : and, indeed, it
would feem as if we had no other criterion of truth
and reafon, than the ideas we derive from the opi-
nions and cuftoms of the country we live in.
See his second Epiftle to Lucilius.
+ Sageffe, Liv. 2. Chap. ii. -
Such, Sir, was hot the honeft Jefuit *, who, taken
by Coummddore :Anfon and treated with all the
refped due to the unfortunate, chofe rather.to be
filenced, and finally driven from his Order, than
to perftvere in :maintaining that there was no
falvation out of the pale of the Church." The
good man's gratitude was perhaps exceffive; and
yet he cannot be faid to travel in vain, who learns
on the road not to damn his benefador.
The veffel in which I intend to embark is called
the Venus: Tfhe is commanded by the Monfieur
Cottin, whofe name appeared fo often in the pub.
lic papers in the courfe of the laft war; and who
merited the flattering diftin6tion of receiving a
fword from the hands of his fovereign.
I fhall be the only paffenger, and I do not regret
it: for though a fociety, a little diverfified, may
be more neceffary on fhip-board than elsewhere,
yet the qualities which conflitute focial harmony
are fo rarely to be met with amongft that clafs of
,* VQpyg autour da M9nde. Tom. 2. We may pronounce
without hesitation, that our Jefuit did not belong to the diocefe
of that archbishop of Lima, who returning to Europe, in the thip
of Captain Guiot, which had the Ikeleton of a Patagonian on
board, infifted on its being thrown into the fen, during a form,
which he maintained had been raised by the bones of this unfor-
tunate Pagan. See the Diflcrtation on America, Part 2.
people which frequents the fea, that I ought rather
to be pleaded than affli&ed at the thought of being
If I piqued myfelf on an. accurate detail of cir.
cumftances as they occurred, I should already have
fome apologies to make for not having previously
given you an account of my journey from Caen to
I took my departure from the former town-on a
flallion, who would have carried me over no fmall
portion of the country, if I had suffered him to
follow all the mares which his inflindl led him to
furmife were in our neighbourhood.'
I flopped to dine at Cuges, where I exchanged
my unmanageable charger for a poft-horfe, whofe
vigour my fpurs were as ineffe&ually employed in
rousing, as they had lately -been in controlling the
paffions of his fiery predeceffor, '-
As the tide was in, I was obliged to ride federal
miles along the fand, up to the girths in water:
this circumftance, however, did not prevent my
admiring the richnefs and the beauty pf the country
which I left on my right, as I advanced towartis
If the filly cockneys of Paris who come to this
port, that they may boaft all the reft of their lives
of having feen the Ocean, the vaft ocean," would
but advance a little on the road I came, they might-
feaft their eyes with one of the fineft profpeats in
nature ; thbt of a range of little hills, affording at
every ftep fome of thofe delicious situations which
the Englifh call romantic: where the country, embel-
lifhed with all that art, that cultivation, that ra-
tional luxury can add to its native charms, prefents
a pi&ure of cafe, of peace and of happinefs; and
forms a moft delicious contract to that awful expanfe
of dark azure, which, in a calm, is the image of
immenfity without bounds, and in a florm, the too
faithful representation of the tumultuous anarchy
and conflict of the paflions.
At Havre they are employed in rendering the
port more spacious and convenient. Their works do
not appear to me of the nature of thofe of Cher.
bourg: they have all the impreflion of prudence
and utility which charaderifes the enterprises of a
commercial body, more engroffed by the care of
acquiring riches, than the vanity of appearing rich ;
while the others, calculated on a fcale of grandeur,
too probably erroneous, will, it is feared, prove
little more than an everlafting monument of the
inconfideratenefs with which they were under-
The town of Havre confifts almoft entirely of
one fireet; but fo full of buftle, fo noify, there is
no need to fee c the vaft ocean," to be convinced
that you are in a port. Legions of parrots from all
corners of the world, and of all fizes and colours,
hung at the doors, the fhops, the windows of every
ftory of every houfe, talk, whiftle, fing, fcream,
chatter like what fall I fay ?
Thofe horrid birds,?" faid my landlady, whom
I had been listening to for an hour-" would to
C' God they were all at the bottom of the fea !"-
Ah! Madam, thought I- if you were like them--
in a cage!
We hall fail to-morrow if the wind permits.
The feafon is favourable, the weather fine, and the
veffel commodious, though fmall. Monf. Cottin
is faid to be an excellent feaman, and as prudent as
brave.-He is aware that the courage which bor-
ders on temerity is as dangerous to people of his
profeflion, as the caution which degenerates into
timidity. This part of his character will, I hope,
be a sufficient guaranty to my friends against the
menaces of the old proverb-c" the pitcher goes fo
Il oft to the well--"
Aefea, Augufi 1788.
W E left Havre on the twenty-ninth of laft
month. A favourable gale carried us in twice
twenty-four hours, out of the channel: and had
we not been toffed about for fome days in the per-
fidious gulf of Gafcony, in confequence of its
blowing a little too frefh, we should have experi-
enced few of the difagreeable circumftances which
render the life of a failor fo perilous and fo painful.
Our principal occupation, indeed our greatest
pleafure, next to that of feeing ourfelves favoured
with a continuation of good weather, has hitherto
been fishing: an amufement, which, joining the
ufeful to the agreeable, enables us to fubftitute for
the poultry and falt-meat which foon pall upon
the ftomach at fea, a difh at once nutritive and
Befides tunnys, bonitos, dolphins, &c. we have
caught a fpecies of fifh which our failors call follies,
they are generally found, like the tunny, in fhoals,
but are a much more delicate fifh: they do not
indeed, appear fo often as the former; for which I
can only account, by fuppofing that the facility
with which they are taken, may have contributed
to thin their number on our coafts.
We had yesterday a calm of a few hours, during
which we caught two sharks: the firft, which was
the largeff, we hoisted on deck with faome difficul-
ty, and found that his mouth was furnifhed with
five rows of teeth!
This fifh, to which our ancient navigators gave
the- ill-omened name of the Requiem, is the tiger
of the fea. His extreme voracity impels hinm to
devour whatever he can after or feize; fo that
he muft have depopulated the ocean had not his
deftrudive appetites been checked in fome mea-
fure; firfl by the fingular situation of his eyes,
which are not placed in the anterior, but on the
two fides, of a large and flat head, and which ef,
featually prevents him from feeing or following
his prey in a straight line; and next, by the form
of his mouth, which opening under the head,
obliges him to turn upon his back whenever he
would feize his prey. Human flefh appears to
be the favourite food of this mnonfter: hence he
is always to be found in the track of the flave
hips, who commonly lofe a confidprable part of
their cargo in the paffage from Guinea to Ameri.
ca. I am sometimes inclined to believe, that our
1 9 3,
politicians who harangue fo earneftly in support
of the flave-trade, belong to the genus offjharks.
A Rtill more ftriking fingularity attending this
fifh, and which fhews how nature has indemnified
him for the privation of certain faculties ; is, that
be is always accompanied by two or three little
fifh, called pilots. They appear to refide princi.
pally upon the upper part of his head, where they
fubfift, as I am told, on the juices they fuck from
.his fkin. It is from this elevated fpot they fet out
in fucceflion to dire& his courfe, by swimming a
few yards before him. It is feldom that a fhark is
taken without his pilots being taken at the fame
time; for at the firft extraordinary motion he
makes, they haften to regain their poft:-we
rarely meet with parafites fo faithful to their en.
While I was converting with the captain on
that excefs of ferocity, which, in the lhark, is
beyond doubt the natural and neceffary confe.
quence, of a law defined to prevent the too great
multiplication of the ithyological kingdom; our
failors were preparing to give us a proof of that
gratuitous propenfity to wickednefs, which difhnm.
guithes man from every other animal.
After faftenhig one end of a pretty ftrong rope
to an empty cafk, which they hafl previously calked,
fo as to prevent the entrance of a drop of water,
they flipped athe other, by means of a running
knot, round the tail of the fhark--an operation by
no means eafy: for fuch is the extraordinary
ftrengtli with which that part of the animal is
endued, that its terrible ftrokes make-'not c the
I" fea tremble," according to the abfurd'hyperbole
of the compiler of the Hiftoire Ge6nrale des
*J Voyages" *- but, the decks of the ftrongeft
hips. They then put out his eyes, and, in that
condition, threw him into the fea.
The efforts the creature made to free himfelf,
afforded an entertainment barbaroufly fingular: at
one time he attempted to plunge into the water,
at another to fpring into the air; but equally in
vain:-he was detained on the furface by the cafk
fo cruelly attached to him.
His comrade was defined to be eaten; notwith.
flanding the flefh is of a dull 'and fickly white,
impregnated with a urinous fcent, and of a very
rank and fetid tafte. But what is there that failors
will not eat ?-"cc I verily believe," fays one of our
antient voyagers, cc that the devil himfelf, roafted,
Tom. II. Chap. v.
" boiled, fpitch-cocked, dragged through the cin.
" ders, would find it no eafy matter to efcape
" from their teeth*."
Shooting fucceeded to fishing. The calm which
enabled the birds to diftinguifh their prey at a
greater depth, and the neighbourhood of a fhip,
which fifh appear to love-not for the pleafure of
feeing c" a two-legged animal without feathers,"
but because the novelty of the obje& attradts them
-The fhip, I fay, and the calm had drawn around
us a multitude of birds-our rivals and our maf-
ters in the art of fifhing.
We killed numbers of them, for no better rea-
fon than to fhew our dexterity: for their flefh,
black, dry, and ftringy, can only be eaten by fuch
as are in abfolute danger of ftarving.
The moft curious of thofe birds were the Man.
of-war's bird, and the Arrow-tail, (called by the
Spaniards Robo-de-Junco,) a name apparently de.
rived from the fingular conftrudtion of its tail,
which is formed of two long feathers, fo intimately
united as to feem but onet. The Man-of-war's
Journal d'un Voyage aux Indes Orientales. Tom. z.
+ Of this bird a more detailed account may be found in the
Hfloire d'uan Vyage aux Iles Malowines." Tom z. Chap.xx.
I is ]
fird is the eagle of the ocean; he has the fize,
the fhape, the lofty flight of that monarch, of
the air. Both the one and the other, but more
especially the latter, keep at fuch a distance, that
an ordinary fhot will feldom reach them.
There was another bird, which I own I did not
expect to find at fca ;-it was a kind of bibou, or
owl. I know not whether he enjoys, amongft the
failors, the fame reputation his brother does amongft
the old women of both fexes on land, that of be-.
ing the lugubrous and prophetic organ of death ;
but he has certainly the form, the nocturnal habits,
the furtive and filent flight of the bird of Pallas.
Our people called him Poiroux: the naturalifts, I
take for granted, diftinguifh him by a name more
noble and fonorous.
At the fight of fo many birds, which are fre-
quently found at the distance of two or three
hundred leagues from any land; who for the moft
part return thither to rooft, and who undoubtedly
lay their eggs there ;* one is naturally led to en-
quire, how they contrive to find their nefts ? For,
The inhabitants of Brazil pretend that the bird which they
call Calcamar never quits the fea, not even to lay its eggs. I
mnuff beg leave however to doubt a fa& which has no better fup.
port than vulgar opinion, and is contraditded by all the known
laws of nature
[ 13 3
besides that the immenfe fpace they have to traw
verfe boats no objects capable of directing their
flight; it is fimply impoffible that the organs of
vifion can guide them to fuch a distance. To fay
that they regulate their courfe by the fun, is far
from anfwering:the question; for in the firfl place,
there are many days when that luminary does not
appear: and in thefecond, I have many times feen
them flying and swimming around us, long after
he had fet :-befides, how can the fun, who varies
his courfe from one folftice to another, ferve them
for a permanent director ?-Let us for once be
candid. This mysterious operation of nature dif.
trads and confounds the imaginations for inftindt,
to which we fo readily refer all the actions of the
brute creation, appears to me a word much mort
proper to fpare us the humiliating avowal of our
ignorance, than to explain the ufe of a faculty
which, Providence has denied us.
dt Sea, Sept. 1788.
1H E more I examine the animals, fifh and
fowl which conflitute at present a great part of
[ 14 3
our fociety, the more traces I find of ait affinity
with the human. race: traces, extremely well
adapted to humble our vanity, if we would call
to-mind for a moment that the only diftinguifhing
faculty we boaft, that of refle&ion, rarely ferves
for any other purpofe than to render us more
wretched and more wicked.
But is not man the only being endowed with
the degree of intelligence neceffary to enable intm
to live in fociety ? the only one who has received
the glorious prerogative of communicating with
the Deity through the medium of thought ? As to
the firfl, reply the bee, the ant, and the heayere;
"c we too live in' fociety ; and rather more harme-,
9c nioufly than you; and as to the conimunication'r
, you fpeak of, we do not fee, though you -have
" now enjoyed it fo 'many thoufand years, that it
cc has contributed to render you a jot wife, hap.
cc pier, or better."
I ought to have more knowledge, or to ufe the
proper term, lefs ignorance of the natural hiftory
of the different animals around us than I boaft at
prefent, to enable me to fpeak correctly and per-
tinently on the fubjed. I hall therefore confine
myfelf to a few circumstances which forced them-.
flves on my obfervation.
The filh. moft commonly met withiJ tbe por.
poife. They fwim in fhoals, are found-almoft in-
all .latitudes, and are divided into two fpecies, the
porpoife, properly fo called, and the moine or monk.
Both are too well kaown on our coafts, to render
any. farther defcription of them neceftlry,.. The
failors afIert that they always fwim against, thci
wind.; and i, who am no ..failor, and who Jove toQ
verify thefe kind of obfervations, afnlieyoiU in my)
turn, that opt of twenty. trials, nineteen contra-,
difted the affertion!
There exifts with regard to the procellaria (vul-
garly the; halcyon, or tempeft-bird, and who. is not
much unlike the martlet, or land fwallow) a pre-.
judice. equidly ridiculous: he is faid to be the'
precurfor of forms *; and yet, in all the latitudes.
I have run through from north to fouth, I have
never found the affertion juftfied by experience in
a single inflance. The bird probably fifhes with
more fuccefs in louring.and tempeftuous weather,
than under a ferene fky; and this I doubt not gave
rife to the fable.
See Boargainville's." Voyage a4tour du Monde," Tom i. Chap:
viii. It is flUl.more aftonifhing to find this prejudice confecrated
in 4" Les Etudes de la Nature," a work which we read with fo
much profit and pleafure, as to make us regret that any error
should be found in it.
1 6 3
I fhouldafk pardon of the whale fo rnot naming
him before; for if bulk can give rank, he cer-
tainly ought to have flood at the head of my lift.
He is here what the elephant is on land, (I muft
be understood to except his intelligence) the
hugeft, and without doubt, the ftrongeft creature
of his element. There are federal fpeciea of them,
of which the largest are usually found towards the
north. They live, like the porpoife, under all
climates, and may be met with from the poles to
A number of idle flories have been told of the
fize of this fifh, more precious to commerce for
his oil, and his whifkers, than the elephant, who
has nothing to boaft of but his ivory.
Among others, the archbifhop of Upfal men-
tions his having feen a whale of fuch enormous
bulk, that twenty men cold fit with eafe in the
orbit of one of his eyes !* Though the whale
that fwallowed Jonas was infinitely larger than
thofe of the prefent day (at leaft, if we may form
a judgment from the capacity of the crfopbagus) yet
we muft allow him to have been a mere gudgeon'
< Hifoire Naturelld des Regiones Septentrional.," wivre As.
in comparison of this of the Hyperborean arch.
The blower is no lefs common than the whale,
of which it is a fpecies. It may be recognized at
a vaft diftance by the water it is continually eje&-
ing into the air.
If in the fports of your youth, you have been
obliged to redeem a forfeit by a kifs, for having
raised a finger at the fifh flies!" f infift on
having it back immediately. Your play-fellows
took advantage of'your fimplicity; for there are
flying fifh to be found in great numbers, in the
neighbourhood of the tropics. They are of the
fize of a large fprat*, and according to my tafte
(.which, I fuppofe, you do not rank very high) the
moft delicate of all fifth. I am forry to add, at
the fame time, that they are alfo the moft unfor-.
+ This alludes to a childish game among the French, called
c6 Le Pigeon vole." The names of a number of animals are rapidly
run over, and the child is required to hold up a finger at the men-
tion of fuch among them as fly. If a finger be held up at a wrong
name, it is aforfeit. T.
The Ablb Choii and Dr. Dellon fay they are sometimes
found as large as a herring; but this is an absolute falfity. See
SRelation d'un Voyage aue Indes Orientaas." Tome Chap. a. and
7snaIds VQj dAs si" Page 30.
[ i8 3
tunate : for they feem to have received the faculty
of efcaping from fuch fifh as fwim better than
themselves, only to be made the prey of birds,
when the imminence of their danger compels them
to have recourfe to their wings. Whole flights of
them sometimes fall upon deck, where they are
received with an hospitality not lefs fatal to them
than the hatred of their voracious purfuers. Their
delicate wings can only fuftain them, while they
preferve a certain portion of humidity ; and in no
cafe does their flight extend beyond a mufquet ftot
at a time *.
Thus, Sir, like the weak, to whom an addi-
tional talent is frequently little more than a frefh
claim to the hatred of the ftrong, thefe unfortunate
fifth find, in the advantage which nature has given
them, a new force of perfecutions and dangers'!
Veffels bound to the Weft Indies are sometimes
forced by contrary winds and currents, to range
along the Azores. In this cafe it is not uncommon
fir birds, blown off the land, to make to them as
See the defcription of this fifth in the' Hiftoire d'un Voyage
flux. Ijfes Malcuines, Tom. r. Chap. s. Dom.. Pernetty the author,
vtcy incorre&ly, in my opinion, calls it amphibious, because it
1hA the power of quitting ito element. But to constitute an animal
really amphibious, it feems neceffary thatit fhoul4 no momentary ,
rily quit the land or water, but be able to inhabit and live in the
one uad the other alternately. '
[ 19 ]
to a port. ; I can fay from experience that they are
not better received than the flying fifh, If an ac-,
quaintance with mankind has rendered them mif-a
truftffl, :and they will not fuffer themselves to be
taken, they only efcape for a moment, to meet a
more lingering fate, when the total exhaustion of
their firength precipitates them from the aii, where
they can no longer fuftain themselves.
The neighbourhood of the Azores, discovered by
Gonfalves Villo, recalls to my mind one of the
many flories blazed about by voyagers : to fay no.
thing of the qui-pro-quo's of their editors, who,
wholly unacquianted with nautical affairs, give us
from time to time, in a tone of the moft impofing
gravity, the moft laughable abfurdities *.
I allude to the ftory of the equeftrian ftatue,
found in the ifle of Cuervo or, Corvo. It was covered,
we are told, with a cloak; was bare-headed; held
the bridle of its horfe in the left hand, and with
the right, pointed to the Occident f.
Of this the author gives a curious inflance ; but as the mif-
take turns on the fimilarity of two phrases, which in ouar language
are totally diflin%&, it could not be made obvious to the Englifh
reader. I have therefore omitted it. T.
t H/i4eire Gencral des Voyages, Tomenl. Livte Chap. z.
If this fable was imagined for the purpofe of
overcoming the obftinate incredulity of thofe who,
for reafons beft known to themselves, denied the
poffibility of the exiftence of a new world; it pre.
fents us with a melancholy truth-that we cannot
hope to fubdue that fpecies of ignorance which be-
lieves only in the moft common occurrences, or in
miracles; but by affuming the malk, and the lana
guage of impofture.
The weather fRill continues fine. Our paffage
will be rather long, but it will be at the fame time
extremely pleasant; and I flatter myfelf, exempt in
a great degree, from thofe hardflips which readers
the fate of a mariner little better than that of a
galley-flave. The perfect harmony which reigns
on board, and the laudable pains taken to vary our
occupations, contribute to beguile the time, and
pufh us cheerily on our way. The captain keeps his
men continually employed, to obviate the confe-
quences of idlenefs, which are always fatal to good
order. Some of them make tow, others mend
the fails, fplice the cables, &c. &c. works by no
means laborious in themselves, and carried on with
mirth and fong, under a tent raised on deck to fe-
cure the workmen from the too great heat of the
fun. I frequently amufe myfelf with partaking
their occupations; and untwift old ftrands of cord,
is your fair ladies on fhoredo threads of gold wire;
[ 21 ]
fo that, if I do not reap from my voyage all the
advantages I expe&, at leaft I hall have learnt how
to make half-hitch knots! .
In crowing the tropic we performed ;he cere-
mony ?f baptizing the profane *, that is to fay,
thofe who had never croffed it before; but with i
confided ble degree of decency, and mutual.refpedt;
without which, pleafure degenerates into pain, and
play into adual strife. An entertaining book, a
game at piquet, in which M. Cottin did not for,.
get his old trade of privateering, and the relation of
fome very fingular and interesting events in the life
of this brave feaman, filled up'r the remainder of the
day; and even carried our conversation pretty far
into the enfuing night.
See the tedious details of .this ceremony in the second chap
ter of the "' Voyage aux Iflis Malouines." The author gravely
observes that 6" ihe ancients'(who had no compass, and who in
cc their longeft voyages never loft fight of land) were unacquainted
" with this ridiculous ceremony !! !" It is undoubtedly palling
firange that a rite, derived from an ioflitution altogether modern,
when compared with the exiftehce of the Tyrians, the Phoenicians,
and the Carthaginians, should not have been pra&tifed by thofe
The diforders to which this foolery has given birth, have oc.
cafioned it to be totally prohibited on board the king's hips; and
I cannot help thinking it a little extraordinary that a grofs carica-
ture of a facrament, confeffedly of divine institution, should ever
have been fuffcred among thofe who call themselves Chriftians.
[ 22 ]
Japuemel, St. Domingo;
SHAVE now been a week on fhore; and, affu,
redly, I was not altogether; wrong. in. feeling no
mighty fymptoms of eagernefs to arrive. What a
country !. what manners! what-.---! But, as I
am too old to yield without refinance to, the. force
of the firft inpreflion,. I. have adopted, a resolution
which I believe you will think not unwife; It is
to fuffer, what Montaigne calls cc the edge of
cc novelty to be blunted, that a noviciate of
fome months filence, and obfervation, may ripen
and mature the judgment I propofe to hazard on
the men and the manners of the country.
I am anxious, if it be poffible, which I hope it
is, to avoid the two principal rocks on which the
majority of travellers fplit, exaggeration, and preci.
pitate judgment. I fhall not, therefore, like them,
forming an opinion of the whole from a part, un-
"blufhingly fketch the portrait of a' nationyfrom a
few traits of a particular focicty-paint man iii his
colle&ive capacity, from an individual; and lay it
down as an indifputable axiom, that cc all the
[ 23 ]
"" women of Rome wear perriwigs,' because Ifac-
cidentally faw "c the :charming Rofalind" with falfe
hair! cc Travellers have l6ng been noted," fayt
M. Volney f, "c for a ftrong propenfity to aggran-
"c dize the theatre of their travels :" from this re-
proach I hope alfo to efcape.-But to return to my
The constant good weather we experienced, hav-
ing permitted us to take an obfervation almoft every
day, M. Cottin told me on the twenty-fourth,
that if no crofs accident intervened, we should
fee the island of Defirada before noon the next day.
This was actually the cafe; and this, I think, is
the only instance that ever fell under my notice, of
a correfpondence fo perfectly exad between the
obfervation of the latitude, and the meafure of the
log-lirie. This laft is extremely fubjet to error;
it furnifhes, however, the only means of estimating
the run, when the absence of the fun renders the
quadrant, or the odant, of no service.
Lettresfur l'Italie, par M. le Prefident Du Paty. Tom. z.
Lettre 87. Another proof of this precipitation, lefs excufable in
a nation famed for refle&ion, may be found in Anfon's Voyage
round the World," Vol. 3. Lib. 3. Chap. 9. where the compiler
rafhly determines on the probity and the manners of the vaft em-
pire of China from a few difhoneft artifices of the inhabitants of
+ Voyage qC Syric et c Egypte. Tom. 2. Chap. 18.
[ 24 ]
The confideration of my being arrived in a new
world, would have rendered me very attentive to
the chain of iflands we were about to coaft, even
though the pleafure of feeing land, a pleafure
which can only be felt in perfedion by the navi-.
gator, had not rivetted my-eyes to every fpot that
rofe above the water.
We faw, on the left, Defirada, which Columbus
did not difcover till his second voyage: ill-informed
geographers represent it a4s inhabited; it never,
thelefs contains a few planters, who raife a little
coffee and cotton, We alfo faw the island of GQua-
dalakpe, which we paffed sufficiently near to enable
us .to diftingiifh the houfes fcattered along the
On the right we left Monferrat, a mountain whofe
fteep acclivities do not feem very fufceptible of
culture ; and alfo the ifland of Porto Rico,--An
accident which might have proved fatal, had nearly
deprived me of the pleafure of continuing my ob.
Monfieur Cottin wifhed to fall in with the weft-
ern point of St. Domingo, which we were now ap.
proaching. I had been tempted to ftay on deck by
the extreme beauty of the evening; and having
taken my ftand near the fore-fhrouds about mid..
[ 25 ]
night, I thought I faw something dufky and grey.
ith break the line of the horizon. By keeping my
eye steadily upon the objea, I discovered it to be
low land; and as we were running direly for it
with all our fails fet, and a frefh breeze, I faw there
was not a moment to lofe.
Without faying a word to the officer of the watch,
I ran to wake the captain, whom I condu&ed to the
fore-caffle. His presence of mind was equal to his
aftonifhment: he immediately requested me to let
fly the ftarboard sheets, and, at the fame time feiz-
ing the tiller of the helm, he ordered the veffel to
be put about; and the fails luckily filled.-It was
time, Sir, for we were not two cable-lengths from
the land, which proved to be the little ifland of
Saona, on which, if we had been shipwrecked, we
should have found nothing but fand.
This accident enabled us to correa our reckono-
ing: we now food out to fea, and I went to lie
down for a few hours refrefhment.
The fouth part of St. Domingo was full in view
when I awoke. The breeze, which blew from the
land, brought us a confused mixture of emanations
from a thoufand different aromatics, amongft which
the delicious perfume of the acacia was not the leaft
[ 26 ]
Behold, then, faid I to nmyfelf, this land, this
firft fample of a new world !--a world whofe dif-
covery muft have filled'Columbus with, the pureft
joy ; as it feparated him. at:once.from the croud of
rafh adventurers, to elevate him to therank of the
greatest, and moft illuftrious charaders I- Never did
a bolder enterprise decide a more important quef-
tion. What a moment! what a triumph for the
admiral and his affociates Inheritors of the power
of the Omnipotent, continuators of his works, they
-had completed the creation! Hiftory is only con-
.verfant with fads: we muft therefore transport
ourfelves in idea, into the midft of the crew, if we
,would form any adequate conception:of their afton-
ifhment: we rmuft hear their cries of joy,; we muff
-fee the expreflion of affectionate and fuperimitral
refped take place of the i4nqliet, and.:frowning
glances of mifruft, difcouragemnent and:! hatred,
fmarting under its fufferings. How muff thofce
.men, madly impatient for laI.d, have devoured with
-their eyes this unknown ,foj, thefe new prQod6ions,
that firange appearance of nature t How-muift the
Though Columbus had previously (ib. O&bober 8th. 1492)
discovered G,*anahami or San Salvador, one of the Bahama illnds,
yet I have taken the liberty to make a kind of tranfpofition; be-
caufe Saint Domingo was the firft fpot where the Europeans
formed a feitlement. -
+ We mufft have a very inadequate idea of the delirium of joy
into which the firft fight of land threw thefe people, .to fay, with
[ 27 ]
fight of this ifland have aggrandized their chief,
even in the opinion of thofe amongft them who,
not long before, exclaimed with the courtiers of
the Efcurial, "Nothing was ever more wild than
"c this enterprise ;*" but who will not at their return,
fay with them, c' Nothing was ever more fimple."
No, they will be anxious to partake the glory of it,
as they have partaken the danger.
Dbmingo was firft feen on Sunday the fixth of
December, 1492 : and the prodigious influence of
the difcovery; the revolution it has. wrought in the
commerce, the politics, and the opinions of Europe,
muft for ever render the epoch memorable in the
annals of modern history. .
What a contraftil, Sir, in the confequences of the
principles adopted by the different powers, as they
were aauated either by the fpirit of commerce, or
the compilers of the Hifloire Generale des Voyages," Tome io.
Liv. s. Chap. 1. ,, that the firft time the Spaniards landed in the
1 new world, they kiffed the ground with humility."-No! they
kifed it a with tranfport," as is affected with much more appear-
ance of probability by the author of the "' Hfijoire Generale de
I'Afte et de I'Afrique." Tome 13.
Columbus firft offered his services to Don Juan, king of Por-
tugal, who reje&ed them. In a journey which he made to this
prince's court, after his return from America in 1493, the cour.
tiers advifed their mailer to put him to death: nay, they even
went fo far as to offer to affaflinate him themselves!
of conquefl t 'iat introduced into the nqw world,
vices, arts, and wants; this, flavery and death,
At the voice of the fir]?, I fee the indigent Batavian
ftart from his barren waftes, traverfe the globe, and
by his parfimonious and perfevering industry, cover
his marfhes with the riches of both worlds ; ,,and
plant at the extremrities of the earth, colonies more
extenfive, more wealthy and more populous than
the country that gave them birth: while the
Spaniard depopulates his delicious provinces to go
and.depopulate the Antilles, Mexico, and Peru;
and to raife wretched haunts for Capuchins, ot she
ruins of the proud empire of Mdntezuma l! Surely
the coldeft imagination muff turn with horror from
the glories of Cortez and.his fucceffors, when it is
recollected that they coft thefe unhappy countries
+ The defire of acquiring a perfe& knowledge of the globe we
inhabit, has given birth to a new species of ambition, that of dif-
covery. Its confequences, with refped to the people newly dif-
covered, do not differ much from thofe of the other two. It is
to the credit of the natives of Van Dieman's land,. or New Hol-
land, that they were almost the only favages who had good fenfe
enough to reje& with contempt the prefents they did not want,
and which would only have created for them new neceffities. See
6" Nouveau Voyage a la Mer du Sud." Page 29.
I am not to be told that the monks of Mexico observe their
vow of poverty as little as thofe of other places.-But the fumpt u
oufnefs of the churches, the opulence of the monafteries, and the
luxury of the clergy, no more fupply the deficiencies of cultivation
[ 29 a
more than twenty millions of men What
c bleffings," fays Montefquieu, might not the
c Spaniards have conferred on the Mexicans! They
" might have given them a mild and beneficent
cc religion; and they brought them a frantic fuper-
" ftition ; they might have fet the flaves free; and
cc they made the free flaves; they might have fhewnt
c them the enormity of human facrifices ; and they
c, exterminated whole nations. I should never have
c done, if I were to recount all the good they did
"not do them, and all the evil they did t."
(the true bafis of the wealth of the colonies) than the lubricity of
the monks thofe of population. In vain does Peru produce gold;
it will never be truly rich, till it produces men and grain. Ina
the city of Mexico alone, I am informed, there are nine and twenty
monafteries, and twenty nunneries I
Carjaval boated on his death bed, that he had murdered
twenty thousand Indians with his own hand I
t D L'Efprit des Lois. Liv. 1o. Chap. 4.
., A ,
[ 30 ]
Jauemet, OElober 1788.
1 RESUME, Sir, without any preamble, the
fubjedt of my laft letter.
The variety of the afpefts, the novelty of the
forms under which a rapid vegetation developed,,
beneath a burning atmosphere, productions un-
known to the temperate zones; the line of coun-
try, of which no human voice interrupts the
filence, no trace of cultivation the fplitude; gave-
full employment for fome hours to my eyes and
What is become of the gentle and peaceable
beings who once inhabited it? Speak, Europeans:
-tell me, where are they ?-As long as they ex-
ercifed the virtues of hofpitality in your favour,
you were fatisfied with enflaving them.-Is it not
fo ? But the moment you perceived that, flartled
at the excefs of your abfurd and brutal turpitude,
they paffed from love to hatred, from adoration to
contempt, you haftened, like ferocious beafts, to
exterminate men, who had received you like Gods!
In vain do you flatter yourfelves that time will
efface the memory of your crimes. There exifts
[ 31 ]
-on this fhore there exifts, a memorial, a river ,
whofe name united with its waves, will roll down
to the lateft pofterity, the remembrance of your
madnefs and your guilt!
Such, Sir, were my refledlions on the firft fight
of Saint Domingo: you will not confound them,
I hope, with thofe of a faditious enthufiafm.
The question, whether the difcovery of America
has been advantageous or not, to Europe, remains
hitherto undecided: but that of the influence it
has had on the happinefs of the natives of this
part of the new world, is unfortunately but too
well fettled-they exift no more! t
The true, the original name of Saint Domingo,
is involved in obfcurity. Francis Coreal informs
us that the natives called it Quifquia, Haiti, and
Cipanga It feems. to me that thefe were not.
The River of Maffacre.
+ One of the Caciques of this ifland had succeeded in forming
an eftablifhment to the north eaft of Saint Domingo, of about
four thoufand of his countrymen, whom he governed under th6
title of Cacique of Haiti, perfelly independent of the Spaniards,
excepting that there exifted, in cafes of importance, an appeal
from his decisions to the* "Audience Royale." But fo long
fince as 171' 8, the eftablithment was reduced to about four.fcore
people of both fexes. '
S",Relation des Voyages," &c. Tom. 1. Chap. i.
fo much the name of the whole ifland, as of the
different diffrifts, in which the original izhabi-
tants had formed their eftablifhment. The Spa-
niards, at firft, called it Ifabella*; afterwards they
gave it the name of Hifpaniola. In this they
were followed by all the commercial people of
Europe, except the French, who, confounding
the name of the capital, San Domingot, with
that of the island, called, and fill continue to
call it, Saint Domingo.
I return once more to my voyage.
We found ourfelves about fun-fet, either by the
negligence of the fleers-man, or the force of the
currents, unexpectedly under a bold and rocky
Thore, near the mouth of the river Naiba: here
the wind failed us at once; fo that we were obliged
(for we were not in foundings) to hoift out the
Boats, and tow the veffel into the offing.
I was much pleaded with the fight of the Naiba
or Neiva, one of the moft considerable rivers of
Correfpondence de Fernand Cortez, &c. Lettre I.
+ The Hifioire Generale des Voyages concludes the history
of the foundation of this city, with a moft unpardonable blunder..
" It became," fays he, ," in procefs of time, under the name of
" Saint Domingo, one of the moft flourilhing of the French
C 33 3
the ifland. It appeared to roll majeftically through
an extenfive valley, and, at no great diflance from
the fea, to divide itfelf into a number of chan-
nels, which had the happieft effed imaginable.
Yet this charming fpot did not appear, from aught
I faw, to be either cultivated or inhabited : a cir-
cumftance I could not help regretting; as I much
question whether it be poffible to find elsewhere a
foil more fertile, or a situation which promifes
greater refources for convenience and pleafure, to
the planter; to whom the neighbourhood of a
navigable river is always an advantage; as it faci-
litates the carriage of his merchandize.
The courfe of this river feems exprefsly cal-
culated to form a natural barrier between the
French and Spanifh poffeffions: an idea which
truck the commiflioners employed on the part
of France, to fettle the limits between the two
powers, before the all-powerful logic of the Spanifh
commiffaries proved the propriety of a different
line of demarcation. Thus France loft a large
extent of valuable territory; while Spain, who
left it wholly uncultivated, gained--- what ?-a
mere contraption of her neighbour's poffeflions.
This, you will fay, is fill something: it is fo,
without doubt; but Spain appears to have for-
gotten long fince, that the power of a fate de-
penids lefs on its territorial fpace, than on its po.
[ '34 ]
pulation. What makes this demarcation frill more
extraordinary is, that fo long ago as 1698, the
Naiba is fpccified in the letters patent for the crea-
tion of the company of Saint Domingo, as form-
ing with Cape Tiberon, the limits of the coaft
towards the fouth.
The Spanifh part of Saint Domingo is infinitely
more extensive, more fertile, and more abundantly
supplied with water than the French; but, on the
other hand, there is too little indufiry to be found
in it, and too many monks. I am well affurel
that their eftates are. well cultivated, and their
revenues well adminiftered. The monks have al-
ways paffed for good managers,, and intelligent
hufbandmen: but I muft take the liberty of ob-
ferving that Ufufruduaries in a flate of celibacy,
labouring for a fixed number of fucceffors, and
not for an unlimited pofterity, will be lefs anxious
in general to extend their cultivation, than to in!-
prove, and bring it to perfection. Even this, it
muft be confeffed, is an advantage : fill, however,
it is an error of no fmall magnitude, and wgich
.affe&s the government on the fide pf interest, more,
perhaps, than any other; to multiply, in the co-
lonies especially, fuch eftablifhments as check the
progrefs of population anl, confequently, the
The Spanith part of Saint Domingo contained in 717 no
mwre than eighteen thousand four hundred and ten white inhabi-
C 35 3
breaking up of new ground; industry, commerce,
Let us fuppofe, Sir, that there are in Saint
Domingo five thoufand monks. Subftitute in their
flead as many married men: the confequence will
be, that in twenty years thefe five thoufand monks
will be replaced by a population of thirty or forty
thoufand individuals, clearing the ground, plant-
ing, gathering their different produ&ions, and
paying to the late at the rate of ten piafters a
heqd*, above two million livres. Should this
fum even be abforbed by the expenses of an ad-
miniffration neceffarily increased with an increasing
cultivation, there would fill remain to the fove-
reigns the amount of the duties, both on the im-
portation of colonial produce, and on the expor-
tation of the various articles, with which the mo-
ther country has an inconteftable and exclufive right
to fupply the colonies, in return for the expence
9f prqteting, or in other words of preferring
fants, including about five hundred Frenchmen, who were princi-
pally engaged in the coafting trade : and I am credibly informed
that neither the induftry, nor the population of the ifle, have
much increafed fince that period.
In Europe this would be thought enormous; but it is not to iti
the.colonies, where an equal quantity of foil is infinitely mor#
valuable than with ps.
D 2 From
[ 36 3
From Naiba to the little ifle of Alta-vela, we
found the fhore broken and unequal, and of a
gloomy and unpromifing appearance. I could
perceive no traces of cultivation along the coaft.
The Spanifh colonifts, naturally indolent, and
moderate in their defires, are fatisfied with breed-
ing a few head of cattle, on whofe milk they fub-
fift; and planting a little tobacco, which they
fmoke, firetched at their length in a hammock,
fufpended between two trees. The more adive
among them carry on a trifling commerce with
the French in taffo or fmoked bacon, and in live
flock, of which the horfe, known by the name of
Baya-hondros, is the moft valuable article. They
alfo, I believe, furnifh Europe at prefent with
that excellent fpecies of tobacco called Saint Do-.
mingo ; for the inhabitants of the French part of
the island fcarcely cultivate enough to fupply the
We paffed Alta-vela within piftol-fhot. It is-a
mere rock, with a few green fpots about it, and
which, looking forward to the time when fome
one of an invincible paffion for folitude, hall fix
his hermitage there, ferves, in the interim, as a re-
treat for prodigious numbers of fea birds. Thofe
who with to fall in with land in the fouth part-of
Saint Domingo, should always endeavour to make
this little iflandt: a matter by no means difficult,
[ 37 ]
as it may be feenat a great diftance: Its appearance
is extremely fingular, being that of a firft-rate man
of war under full fail. It was undoubtedly this
circumstance that induced the Spaniards to give it
the name of Alta-vela.
It will not be impertinent here, to obferve, that
this important point of recognition, is moft in-
accurately laid down in the coating chart of the
Antilles, lately taken by the officers of the royal
navy. Not content with verifying the error in
this, as well as in D'Apres Pilots' Dire&ory; we
had the curiofity to examine an old chart of Saint
Domingo, which I accidentally picked up, on my
way to Caen; here we found the position of Alta-
vela determined with the greatest accuracy! When
we reflect that the indolence, the inadvertency,
the want of exadtnefs, in the officers intrufted
with an affair of fuch importance as laying down
the coafts, may coft the lives of thousands of their
fellow-creatures; we muft neceffarily allow that
government is either extremely unhappy tQ be thus
reduced to a choice of fubje6ts fo little worthy of
its confidence, or extremely culpable in granting
it fo inconfiderately, to men altogether incapable
of juftifying its predilection. Bougainville, al-
though one of the corps, cannot refrain from
reprobating this pernicious abufe of authority;
and openly declares, that the French charts of
[ 38 ]
the Indies are better adapted to caufe the lofs of
hips, than to guide them*,
Soon after we had doubled the ifle, the frequen-
cy of the habitations which we faw along the coaft,
fufficiently announced that we had paffed from the
Spanifh to the French part. At nine in the morn-
ing of the thirty-firft, we were off the bay of Jaque-
mel; the fea breeze beginning to blow, we ftQod
diredly in for the town; and before noon I had
the pleafure of finding myfelf fafe on fhore,
Jaquemel, February 1789.
N O, Sir, not even in this letter, hall I venture
to fpeak of the inhabitants of Saint Domingo. I
do not like to hazard a precipitate opinion, efpe-
cially when it is not likely to be favourable, on the
charader and condu6i of a people whom I already
begin to fufped I have confiderably over-rated.
Voyage autour du Monde. Tome 2. Chap. 7.
[ 39 1
You will find then, in the prefent, little more
than a rapid and preparatory fketch:-for I have
hardly yet determined in what order to lay my ob-
fervations before you-whether the country hall
precede the inhabitants, or the inhabitants the
country; or whether (which is the idea that beft
pleafes me at prefent) I hall treat of the one and
the other alternately, and as occafion may arife.
For the reft, I never understood fo well as fince
I have been here, the aflonifhing power of what is
called the influence of climate. The relaxation
which the exceffive heat produces on the organs of
the body, is equally extended over the faculties of
the mind. There is an indolence of thought, as
well as action. The flighteft labour fatigues-the
flighteft application over-powers. Such being the
cafe, you muft not expect to find much conne&ion
in my ideas, or precifion in the manner of ex-
plaining them. As faft as a new objet fhall give
birth to a thought, I hall fet it down, if I have
the power; for all aptitude to labour, all propen-
fity to ftudy, is rigidly profcribed in the colonies !
What think you ? Is it the imprudence of not yield-
ing implicitly to this moft fage profcription that
occafions fo many deaths in the island ? We fhall
Every where elfe the human fpecies may be
divided into two claffes.
[ 40 ]
The firfi and the moft numerous, that of the
populace properly fo called, fimple, credulous, and
uninformed, has little more than the vices which
neceffarily flow from a fate of society; where all
require that each should af for the whole; and
where, in fadt, each afts only for himfelf, Their
virtues are of the loweft order; that is to fay, fuch
as, being rather inherent than acquired, do not
demand any of thofe facrifices, which ftamp fo ma.
jeftic a charader upon virtue
Thefecond, andlthe leaft numerous clafs, is that of
the man diftinguifhed from the populace, by birth,
education, and fortune; or by a portion of genius
and talents sufficient to counterbalance thefe advan-
tages, by rendering the poffeffor of them agreeable,
ufeful, neceffary or formidable to his fellow-crea-
tures. Supple, complaifant, and enlightened;
good from weaknefs, and bad from calculation;
rarely a dupe, and sometimes a knave: be will be
found in poffeffion of virtues whofe luftre provokes
admiration or envy ; and of vices whofe groffnefs
is but too well concealed under the charms of
amenity, and the varnifh of the graces.
This division is not to be found here! You will fee
the reafon of it 0 In the enumeration of the differ-
ent orders which make up the population; and 20,
In the uniformity of principles and manners, ine-
[ 4 ]1
vitable in a fate of fociety acknowledging only two
diftindt claffes-mafters and flaves.
This uniformity in the relations which unite or
divide the members of a community, ought to be
considered as an advantage: for, besides obviating
the effeas of another inequality, in addition to
thofe which neceffarily refult from a fate of fociety,
and from human nature *; it contrads, and fim-
plifies the obfervations from which we ufually de..
duce the character of a people.
As it feems neceffary that a certain number of
abfurd prejudices should imprint the mark of folly
Nothing is more prejudicial to a good caufe thao defending
it by bad reafons: and none can furely be well worfe than thofe
alleged by certain enthufiafts-that Nature herfelffurnifhes the
model of the inequality of fociety, in the physical and moral ine-.
quality of individuals. For to reafon conclufively, it would then
be incumbent on man (already fubje&ed to a certain number of
evils, the neceffary confequence of his organization) to add to them
the maladies which refult from his intemperance, or from any other
abufe of his physical faculties. It is not because there are giants
and dwarfs, strong and weak, Veftris' and cripples, that there
ought to be little and great :-it is because the diftin&ions which
occafion the one and the other are inevitable, that a perfed equality
of this fort is as chimerical as a perfe& equality of fortune, of
merit, &c. Remedy the evil if you can, or counterbalance it;
but do not deprive yourfelves of the only means of exciting emu-
lation which the legiflator poffeffes, except thofe rare and uncom-
mon occasions where effervefcence and enthufiafm fupply, for a
moment, the place of this all-powerful motive of adion.
[ 42 ]
on every thing which relates to the human fpeciqs;
it is here the colour of the fkin, which, in its dif-
ferent degrees of fhade, from black to white, takes
place of the diftindions of rank, of merit, of birth,
of honours, and even of fortune. So that a negro,
although he proved his defcent in a right line
from the Magi who came to adore our Saviour,
although he joined to the genius of a celeftial inteb.
ligence, all the gold which the profound earth
hides," would never be any thing in the eyes of
the pooreft, the moft paltry, the moft flupid, the
moft contemptible of the whites, but the dregs of
the human race, a worthlefs flave, a black 1
c" He has relations on the coaft !" Such, Sir, is
the expreflion by which they manifeft their con-
tempt, on the flighteft fufpicion that a single drop
of African blood has found its way into the veins of
a white. And fuch is the force of prejudice, that
it requires an effort of reafon and courage to enable
you to contra& with fuch an unfortunate being,
that kind of familiarity, which a fate of equality
pre-fuppofes and demands.
You fee then that the chaos of claims and pre-
tenfions fo perplexed and confounded elsewhere
by the diverfity of ranks, is here eafily reduced
to method. In Europe the knowledge of the
different degrees of regard, of confederation, of
E 4 3
efteem more or lefs felt, of refpe&b more or lefs pro-
found, is a science which requires a particular
ftudy : and as the exterior does not always corref.
pond with the title, a difcernment of the niceft kind,
a long acquaintance with the great world, is necef-,
fary to enable us to diftinguifh the patrician from
the plebeian, the noble from the vaffal. Here on
the contrary, it is only neceffary to have eyes, to be
able to place every individual in the clafs to which
From thefe premifes you will collect (without
being exprefly told fo) that, from the governor in-
vefted with the power, and decorated with the
orders of the king, to the fcoundrel who, from the
galleys of Marfeilles, brings with him the difgrace-
ful mark which the iron of the executioner has
imprinted on his shoulder, all the whites are
upon an equality.
This refpedt for colour, which, like fo many
other eftablifhed prejudices, is a mere abfurdity in
the eyes of reafon, is, however, the palladium on
which the deftiny of the colonies is fuppofed to
depend. It may appear ridiculous to maintain
(what, however, is but too true) that there is fome
foundation for the fuppofition: nor, indeed, can it
be otherwise; fince this, as well as all the other
vices of our eftablifhments in there parts, is the
I E 44 ]
neceffary, and inevitable confequence of an enor.
mous error we fell into at the time we founded
To interest the cupidity of the rich, the govern.
ment gave fuch an extent to its Conceffions, that
any one (taking coffee for the medium) might eafily
raife a neat annual income of fifty thoufand livres *.
But as the labour of a single man was not sufficient
to clear, to plant, and to gather in, the produ&ions
of fo large a piece of land ; fome infernal Geniud
infpired in evil hour the projed of cultivating
America by Africans t,
One abufe naturally brings on another. To the
too great extent of the conceded grounds was foon
A conceffion contained two hundred fquares of one hundred
fquare feet each (French meafure). Coffee fuceeeds only in moun-
tainous trads, one fourth of the land muft therefore be looked upon
as incapable of cultivation: another fourth is usually allotted to
what are called favannas, that is, meadows, and to the fite of the
dwelling houfe, its dependencies, Ac. &c. This leaves a hundred.
fquares for cultivation : each of thofe produces on an average, a
thousand weight of coffee, which, at the cuftomary price, yields an
annual income of a hundred piftoles. The deduaions to be made
from this fum for the expence of cultivation, &c. will be feen
+ Who could believe that it was a prieft! the molft humane, the
moft tender of all that have yet visited the new world, the cele.
brated bishop ofChiappa ; in a word, the virtuous Las Cafas, who
proposed, and saufed the plan to be adopted, in order to refcue
his beloved Indians from a fate of flavery, which after all they did
r 45 3
added the enormity of granting to the fame perfon,
in the very face of the law, two, three, and fome-
times four conceffions; as the petitioner happened
to be more or lefs powerfully recommended by the
minifters, or protected by the administrators of the
colony whofe cultivation, and indeed population,
was materially checked by the indulgence : fince
no proprietor, how rich foever you fuppofe him,
can poffibly be fufficiently fo, to undertake the
eftablifhment of several plantations at the fame
time. To elude the law, they procure the grant
of a vacant conceffion, in the name of a relation,
&c. and the government which felt the want of a
good law, feems perfealy infenfible to the neceffity
of caufing it to be obeyed. The negligence, or
rather the disorder, in this matter is fo great, that
land already granted, but abandoned by the pro-
prietors, for Want of means to cultivate it, has been
granted a second time to others ; and thus become
an object of litigation between the old and new pof-
feffors. This inconvenience was fuppofed to be
fully obviated by enafting that conceflions of fuch
proprietors. as did n'ot fulfil, within a limited time,
the conditions under which they took poffeflior
(fuch as employing a certain number of negroes on
a certain quantity of ground, &c.) should revert to
the crown: but it happens in this, as it does in moft
other cafes, that this act of vigorous but neceffary
justice, is feldom put in force, but against the ob.W
fcure and unfriended planter.
Let us fuppofe now, that the meafure of the
conceflions had been reduced to twenty fquares;
for the management of which, the labour of a poor
European family would have amply fufficed. It
would follow, that the fame extent of ground, on
which a few negroes at prefent vegetate, would have
maintained fourfcore individuals. Nor can there
be a doubt, but that it would be much better cul-
tivated by ten resident proprietors, than by him
who, refiding two thoufand leagues from his pof-
feffions, has no better fecarity for the care and fide-
lity with which they are.managed, than the capacity
of an ignorant Reward, or the probity of a.knavifh
agent! The Englifh have followed this method irn
Barbadoes, and the confequences are,. that this
ifland is, in. proportion to its extent, the richeft
and moft populous of all their poffeffions in the
Weft Indies. If then, as the judicious; Labat ob-
ferved, the ftrength-of the colonies confifts in.
". the number:of the whites;," we imuftneceffarily
admit, with this voyager, that "c the number, he.
fpeaks of, can only be made up of whit are, cglled,
fall planters," ,, .
I haften, Sir, to combat thb only fpeciou 9Io- .
tion, which uninformed, or defigning people, can
E 47 ]
pf dibly oppofe tp.this mode of cultivation; I mean
the infalubrity.of the climate.
I reply, then, in the firft place, that this infalu-
brity is to be attributed more to the exceffes to
which Europeanp ufually abandon themselves on
their firft arrival here, than to any inherent ill
qualities in the climate. It is their own intern
perance which renders a refidence here fo fatal to
In the second place, I reply, that the firft culti-
vators Qf Saint Domingo, thofe who originally
did what the negroes do now, were, what were
called in the language of thofe days fix-and-thirty-
months' men, that is, men who let themselves to
the planters for a term of three years :-and that
there .are fome fmall divisions of the old Grants,
yet cultivated by whites, who live on them in a
fate of decent competence. To me, thefe fa6s
are arguments of the moft irrefiftible kind.
Europeans have, I know, no fmall difficulty to
accuftom themfelves to the climate: fevere labour
would infallibly deftroy them. At the fame time,
I am confident that ten feafoned whites, without
over-ftriining themselves in the leaft, would do
the work of an hundred negroes; becausee they
would do it with more good will, with more un-
[ 48 3
derflanding of what they were about, and confe.
quently, with infinitely more effect.
Il The experience of all ages, and of all na-
g1 tions fhews us, that the work of flaves, though
:* it apparently cofis no more than the expence of
cc their nourifhmfient, is, on an accurate eftimate,
cc the deareft of all work; fince the man who is
cc reftrided from acquiring property, can feel no
cc other folicitude than that of eating as much, and
9c labouring as little, as poffible*."
The colonifts who maintain the contrary are
either fluggards, fools, or impoftors. In this
matter, I fpeak from my own experience; yet I
have neither the habits, nor the degree of vigour
which agricultural engagements demand.- c The
cc heat, and the unhealthinefs of the climate, fo
cc frequently alleged by Europeans as the caufes
c" of their inactivity in the colonies, are nothing,"
fays an intelligent and obferving traveller, cc but
cc a fpecious apology for the weaknefs of men re-,
cc duced by intemperance and debauchery; and
", too vain or too fenfual to have recourfe to the
cc labour of their handst"
Smith's Wealth of Nations. Vol. II. Book 3. Chap. s.
+ Voyage autour du Mode, par M. de Pages. Tome r.
E 49 ]
And after all, Sir, what is meant -by this mife-
fable outcry against the climate ? Can the popu-
lation of the whites be only maintained by emi-
,grations from Europe ? Is there any law to pre-
vent the women from breeding here ? or was it
ever heard, or faid, that the air of this country
was prejudicial to a Creole?
Let us introduce good morals into Saint Do-
mingo. Let the planters, inifead of attaching
themselves to thofe black, yellow, livid corn.
plexioned miftreffes, who brutify, and deceive
them; marry women of their own colour; and
we fall foon fee the country afflume, in the eyes
of the obferver, a very different afped.
Jaquemel, March 1789.
M Y fentiments, Sir, with regard to the flavery
of the blacks, are no fecret to you. I explained
myfelf without referve on this head, in one of the
letters which I wrote' to you from the Cape of
The manuscript of there letters is depofited, with many
other papers, in hands, from which I do not know that I Ihall
ever be able to recover them.
[ 50so ]
You are apprized then, that I have* always
agreed, and till agree with thofe writers who re-
probate fo ftrongly the infamous traffic we main-
tain on the coafts of Africa.
But while I do juffice to the purity of their
motives; let me be indulged with a few obferva-
tions. I think, then, that the atithors who have
written on the negroes, from falfe or exaggerated
reports; without the power of judging by their
own eyes, of the kind of men for whom they
plead, or of the nature of their flavery; have
juftly merited the reproaches of combatting by
vain and empty declamation an abufe, whofe de-
feas are more than balanced by its advantages. I
further think, that, as every proceeding of this
kind ought to have in view the common good,
it is dangerous, nay unlawful, to excite a preju-
dice against an order of things involving the fafety
and fortune of the public, without producing at
the fame time a remedy for the neceffary evil.
We have no need of thofe officious gentlemen to
tell us that flavery is a hateful thing. What would
they fay to the Efculapius who prefided over their
health, if, in an overflowing of the bile, he should
prefcribe nothing for the complaint, but a furious
inve&ive against the malady which confumed
Our age is unfortunately too fertile in political
reformers*; who are in a violent hafte to pull
down; an irregular edifice, without having either
the talents or the materials neceffary to conftru6& it
again upon a better plan.
One fimple argument fall fuffice for all.
Your colonies, fuch as they are, cannot exift
without flavery. This is a frightful truth, I con-
fefs; but the not recognifing it, is more frightful
fill, and may produce the moft terrible confe.
quences. You muft' then fandion flavery, or re-
nounce the colonies: and as thirty thoufand whites
can only control four hundred pnd fixty thoufand
negroes by the force of opinion; (the fole guaran-
tee of their exiftence) every thing which tends to
weaken or deftroy that opinion, is a crime against
In vain do the turbulent rd Amis des Noirs "
Friends of the Blacks, labour to support their
dodtrizte by the example of the United States,
where, except in Virginia and the two Carolinas,
there are no articles of cultivation which require a
They will thare the fate of the religious Reformers. Their
tenets will produce much hatred and guilt, much misfortune and
ifctord, which will terminate at length in indifference.
E .2 number
[ 2 :
number of hands. In all the other provinces
the quantity of flaves is fo trifling, that it is
very eafy to fupply their place by whites; they
are brought up with fo much care, and treated
with fo much humanity, that if the law, which
emancipates them at a certain age, produces no
difadvantageous effects on the fortune of the maf-
ters, it adds nothing to the happinefs of the flaves,
but the fatisfadion of exchanging a forced, for a
voluntary service. Befides, the United States,
when they prohibited the future importation of
negroes,, took effedual means at the fame time to
prevent the progrefs of cultivation from being
checked by the prohibition. Let our anti-negro
men do the fame. Let them give us, inflead of
vague and unprofitable babble, positive laws, effi-
cacious means, falutary refources-in a word, let
them be the ,c Friends of the Blacks" without be.,
-coming the enemies of the whites.
I have already obferved to you that the abolition
-of flavery is incompatible with the prefervation
of the colonies : not absolutely from the nature of
the thing, but because personal interest would in-
fallibly oppofe a thoufand obftacles to the only
method by which it could be effeded.
This method is neither more nor lefs than a new-
divifion of land : and you will allow that there
E 53 ]
needs nothing more than the mention of fuch a
ftep, to raife an univerfal outcry against me.
However as Providence has bleffed me with a dif-
pofition on which the clamours of the multitude
have little effect, I have no fcruple to fay, that
the infant fuch a thing is poffible, I do not fee
why it should not he ferioufly proposed. And
what can be more poffible! fince while I referred
to the proprietor, from whom I should take two
thirds of his conceffion, a right of mortgage on
the difmembered part; I should fill leave him at
liberty to choofe between reimbursement by in-
flallments, or a rent proportioned to the value of
the fee-fimple: both the one and the other to be
determined by experienced referees.
Doubtlefs an operation of this nature would
require both the concurrence, and the afliftance of
the government. And I have fo high an opinion
of its wifdom and beneficence, that I am perfua-
ded it would contribute to the fuccefs of this fpe-
cies of political amputation, both its treafures
and its authority. After feeing it lavifh them for
the fole purpofe of refcuing North America from
the yoke of England, it is impoffible to fuppofe
it would hefitate to bring about, in its own terri-
tories, a revolution which humanity, no lefs than its
own glory, and let me add, its own interests, in.
ceffantly folicit at its hands I
[ 54 ]
Here, Sir, finifhes my dream !-It is tine to
return to my fubjea,
Do not imagine that I pretend to juftify flavery,
or to diffemble the evils which naturally attach to
it. I know no moral corruption more hoftile to
the manners; to the doctrine which foftens, and
the virtues which purify,them; I may even add,
to the fpirit of fubordination fo, neceffary in a
monarchy: for how can he whom the poffqfljon of
the moft unlimited power has habituated to uncon-
troul, bend to the yoke of the laws which oppofe
his will ? How can the defpot fubmit to a prince,
whofe constant language is fuch is our plea.
"c fure;" when he himfelf never ufes any other
than c fuch is mine !"
Perhaps the confequences of this want of foci-
ablenefs might be obviated by delegating to the
governor of the colony fuch a degree of power as
would ferve to over-awe the fpirit of indepen-
dence, fo natural to the colonifts. But the well-
founded apprehenfion that hp might; abufe it; and
the fear, by no means unreafonable, that an able
and ambitious chief 'might one day takq advantage
of this very fpirit to induce them to fhake off the
yoke of the mother country, have driven govern-
ment to the expedient of rendering one power
dependant on another; the intendant on the coun,
[ 55 ]
cil, the council on the governor, &c. So that
there authorities, always rivals, and never agree-
ing-(to give you but one inflance of the perfect
nullity of their influence on the public will)-
have not, to this day, fucceeded in caufing a fin-
gle article of the CODE NOIR to be put in force*.
What then, you will fay, do all there authori-
ties do there? Not all the evil they might; and
certainly not all the good. Each adminiftrator,
calculating on the uncertainty of his tranfitory
exiftence, leaves the care of the public good to
Providence, and bends all his thoughts to the
advancement of his own fortune. Not one of
them fails to recolle& that Galvam, the only vice-
roy of the Indies who carried nothing from his
government but the love and efteem of the peo-
ple, found nothing on his return to Portugal but
poverty and contempt. Examples of this kind
fbould teach fovereigns to honour, more than they
The rage of fLying a good thing is the force of many fol.
lies. It is not eafy to discover why the author of the Inftitu-
tions Politiques,' fo rational in general, should venture to fay,
(Tom. 1. Chap. 5.) that '` he who fabricated the Code Noir"
muft have had a foul as black as ink."
+ Juftice requires that I should here make honourable mention
of another governor, Dom Juan de Caftro, who at his death left
only three reals behind him. Galvam died in a work-houfe.
What a leffon for his fuccffors! It has not been thrown away
[ 56 ]
do, thofe exalted virtues which are the fureft
pledges of obedience, and of the refpect of the
people for the power under which they live.
I have obferved juft above, that I looked upon
flavery as pernicious to the morals, and to the
doctrine which should purify them. If, when I
come to treat at large of the different claffes
which compofe the population of Saint Domingo,
I can fubdue my natural propenfity to indulgence;
I hall find in the manners of the inhabitants but
too many proofs of the juftnefs of the obfervation.
And if I should tell you, in the interim, that
education here, in unifon with nature, far from
fupplying the youth with any defence against the
influence of the climate; far from checking the
progrefs of the too-rapid development of the
faculties, and the inevitable exhauflion attendant
on it; hurries them on, without intermiffion, from
adolefcence to decrepitude; that it does not allow
sufficient time for the cheek of innocence to affume
the rofy glow of modefly; but that youth and
maturity languifh equally Were; one deprived of
the bloom of its frefhnefs, of the winning fim-
plicity of its charms ; and the other of the afcen-
dancy which wifdom, experience and fubdued
paffions ufually affure it; in fhort, that from
the difgufting alliance of all the abfurdities of
ignorance and fottifhnefs affecting talents, with
[ 57 I
all the vices of an immorality, which cannot
even alledge fedu&ion as an excufe, there refults
a compofition, which prefents the humiliating
picture of humanity in the laft flage of degrada,.
tion; then, Sir, divided between doubt,, indigna.
tion, and contempt, you will perhaps accufe me
of calumniating at one and the fame time Man and
Nature. And you would be right, if you could
poffibly fuppofe me fo unjuft as not to feel the
neceffity of making thofe exceptions which every
general rule demands.
Jaque el, March 1789.
I F it were neceffary, Sir, to begin the enume-
ration of the different claffes of inhabitants, by
the beft; it is not impoffible but that the one
which ftands firft in the eftablifhed order of things,
might find itfelf at the bottom of the lift.
This, however, I am pretty confident is not the
opinion of the colonifts who return to Europe.
Puffed up with an extravagant opinion of their
own fuperiority,, and of the pretended' delights
which mark every infant: of their lives with a new
pleafure; they will infolently tell, you that the
black is here to the white, what the ftupid brute is
to the angel of light.
That, in a country where flavery has neceflarily
introduced an imipaffable line.0of demarcation, be-
tween the all-powerful after, and the all.fub-
miffive flave; the whites should endeavour to en-
force the opinion of their fuperiority by every fa-
vourable prejudice, is reasonable enough-But that
men, who muft at leaft be confcious of their own
imperfections, should bring themselves ferioufly
to believe, and wifh- to perfuade others, that a
claim, which is not even the work of felf-love,
can juftify the abfurdity of thofe they found upon
the colour of their, fkin; is an idea of the moft
prepofterous kind: for this would be to admit, if
they reafoned on their own principles, that the
tawny inhabitant of pur southern provinces, and
the olive-complexioped Spaniard, were of an in-
ferior nature to the Dutchman or the Swede!
Befides, if- it be true (and no pious Chriftian can
doubt it) that God made, man. in hi4 own image,
ought we not to refpedt, even in the colour of the
negroes, the relation which muft neceffarily exift
between the creature and the Creator I
[ 59 3
But let this prejudice remain, fince it is ne-
ceffary; it is as innocent perhaps as any other.
Let thofe, however, who infift upon it, be well
perfuaded that it can only fecure them from the
dangers which hang over every impoftor, as long
as the illusion is supported by the two virtues
which we love to attribute to superior beings--
juftice and goodness.
I proceed now to the, enumeration of the diffe-
rent claffes which form the intire population of
Saint Domingo: obferving by the way, that there
is not a single defendant to be found of the ori-
The firft then, is, of courfe, the white clafs.
It comprehends the governor, the intendant, all
the agents of government of every degree, the
clergy, all the resident proprietors, the managers,
the attorneys and agents of the non-refidents, the
merchants, the soldiers, the retail dealers, the ar-
tifts, and finally, all the race of induffrious la-
bourers, whom the negroes call little whites; and
whom want, fhame, mifcondudt, defpair, and
sometimes the hopes of making a fortune, bring
to the country of the world where living is the
deareft, where induftry 'has the feweft channels,
where arts are the leaft honoured, and where
the ill ufe which fome of their predeceffors made
[ 6o 3
of the ancient and celebrated hospitality of the
colonifts, has rendered the inhabitants too circum-
fpe& to admit into their houfes any but people
well known, or well recommended.
It was in confequence of remonftrances on the
facility with which adventurers of all kinds paffed
from Europe to the colonies,-that the court made
a regulation, which obliged every paffenger to ap-
pear with the captain of the veffel, and a furety,
at the office of the admiralty of the port from
which he proposed to embark. But this Talu-
tary law, like every othet, is evaded; because few
captains refufe to pafs, as they call it, the firft va-
gabond who finds the art of intereffing their pity;
or the means of tempting their cupidity by a flight
retribution. Whatever be the motive of fuch an
action, it is at once a violation of the law, and a
species of robbery; fince fuch a paffeuiger muft
live entirely on the fhip's flores, and confequently
at the expence of the merchants. But the agents
of commerce, long fince discovered, in the prin.
ciples which dire& it, the juffification of thofe,
by which they believe themselves exonerated from
keeping too exaft an account with probity.
The second clafs is that of the mulattos, quar-
terons, demi-quarterons or metis, and all, in fhort,
t 6t ]
who are called people of colour*; amongft whom I
place the free mulattos, proprietors of land, or
living on their industry ; as well as the domeftics,
free or flaves, of both fexes: for here the law
comes to the support of opinion, and forbids the
white to derogate from the dignity of his colour,
by caufing himfelf to be ferved by a white !
Originally every mulatto was free at the age of'
four and twenty ; not in confequence of a positive
law, but by the unanimous confent of the colonifts.
This regulation was extremely wife; as the vaft
difproportion between the number of the blacks
and the whites, fhewed the neceffity of attaching
the mulattos to the latter. On the reprefentations,
however, of fome of the planters, whofe calcula-
tions were deranged by the prohibition of felling
their own fleih and blood; the king, by an edi6t
dated in 1674, declared that the children should
follow the condition of the mother! And I muft
obferve, to the eternal fhame of the Europeans,
that if a law which debafes them, by devoting
their pofterity to flavery, is obferved with the
moft rigorous exadnefs; it is not fo with another,
The following is an exa& account of the progreffion of co-
lour. 1 he white and the female negro produce the mulatto ; the
mulatto and the female negro the Grif; the white and the female
mUlatto the Quarteron; the white and the female Quarteron the
Tierceron; the white and the female Tietceron the Mitis, the
white and the female Mitis the Mamelouc.
S / which
[ 62 J
which exprefsly ordains that every after hall
give each of his flaves two pound and a half of
fault meat a week.
The black clafs is the laft: it comprifes the
free negroes who are proprietors of land, and by
no means numerous; and the flaves, whether
Creoles, that is, born in the colonies; or Boffales,
imported from Africa.
Although the diflance between the flave and the
free man be immenfe, yet, to avoid fubdivifions,
and minute diftindlions, I have adopted the division
of colour, as the moft fimple. For I muft fur-
ther obferve to you, that the male and female ne-
groes, as well as the male and female mulattos,
in fpite of the acquisition of liberty, remain in a
ftate of abjednefs, which not only difqualifies
them from any public employ, but forbids them
to contract with the whites a sufficient degree of
intimacy, I will not fay to fleep with them, but
even to eat. If I vifit a rich mulatto, he will call
me Sir, and not mafter, like the reft. I call him
friend, dear friend, &c. he will aik me to din-*
ner; but if he be correct, he will not prefume to
fit at table with me.
Such, Sir, is the total division. Each of the
three claffes has besides its fhades-fuch as thofe
[ 63 3
which, in defpite of complexion, separate the go-
vernor from the other whites, the mulatto from
the free negro, &c. &c.
The compulfatory precautions arifing from the
prejudice of colour, have procured for the inha-
bitants two advantages, which in fome degree
compensate for the ridiculoufnefs of it. They
render the government more circumfped in its
arbitrary proceedings; and they imprint on the
colonifts a charader of haughty independence,
from which defpotic administrators have more than
once experienced a refiftance fo inflexible, that
the court has been finally obliged to recal a governor,
whom the habit of playing the nabob in the Eaft,
has daily tempted to tranfgrefs the bounds of his
The natural confequence of the order of things
which prevails here, is, that all thofe titles of ho-
nour which are elsewhere, the pabula of emulation,
of rivalry, and of difcord; which infpire fo much
pride, and create fo many claims in fome; fo much
ambition and envy in others; shrink to nothing, and
entirely difappear before the fole title of WHITE.
It is by your fkin, however branded it may be,
and not by your parchment, however worm-eaten,
that your pretenfions to gentility are adjufted.
Thus you fee that vanity, which on your fide of the
[ 64 3
water torments and turns herfelf a thoufand ways,
to impofe on the public, and ufurp the tribute of
refpedt which it accords to the claims of birth,
would here lofe both her time and her labour.
Each of the different claffes of the inhabitants of
St. Domingo has, as you will readily imagine, a
turn of thinking, a ftile of living, more or lefs ap-
proximate or diftina; which, after all, has little re-
femblance to what you will find elsewhere; because
the climate, the regimen, the manners, the wants,
the occupations, the degree of reciprocal depen-
dency, eftablifh here connedions of the flighteft
nature; very different from thofe which, with you,
Sir, bind together the members of the fame fociety.
I might here feize the opportunity of entering
into fome details on this fubjef. But as the fludy
of man in his moral capacity requires more appli-
cation, and more experience than that of his exift-
ence in a facial fate ; as the influence of the climate,
and of a manner of living totally diftin6t from ours,
adts neceffarily on his character; and finally, as too
fervile a regard to method would infallibly conduct
me to a fatiguing monotony; I hold it to be the
part of prudence not to haften my judgment; and
-accumulate on one point, obfervations, which, to-
be cohclufive, should be the refult of time, comn-
parifon, and experience.
[ 65 ]
For example: the firft thing that ftrikes every
traveller who arrives here with the faculty of ob-
fervation, is, that in fpite of the conformity of
origin, colour and interests, the whites from
Europe, and the white Creoles, form two claffes,
which, by their reciprocal pretenfions, are fo
widely fundered, that neceffity alone can bring them
together. The former, with more breeding, more
politenefs, and more knowledge of the world, af-
fed over the latter a fuperiority which is far from
contributing to unite them. Yet, if the Creoles
were a little more cautious than they are at prefent
in their too early connections with women; if they
cultivated with more care their extraordinary pro.-
penfities to excel in all bodily exercifes; if they
feconded by a. better method of education the na-
tural facility of their genius; I am perfuaded, that
not having to struggle against the influence of the
climate under which they were born, nor against
the habitudes of a kind of life, differing effentially
from that to which a European is obliged to fub-
mit himfelf on his arrival here, I am perfuaded, I
fay, that all the advantages would be on their fide.
Nothing is wanting to the Creole, but a sufficient
degree of good fenfe, to enable him to ufe, without
abufing, the faculties with which nature has
[ 66 ]
I HAVE been here already more than eight
months, and yet, Sir, I have not faid a word to
you about the town of Jaquemel, nor of the estate
which my landlord has juft purchased, and which,
indeed, I have only vifited twice.
There is a difference of opinion refpe6ing the
origin of Jaquemel; fome maintain that it exifted
at the arrival of the Europeans, under the name of
raquimo ; others, that it owed its rife to Jaques de
Melo, a Spaniard, who built the firft houfe there.
However it be, Jaques de Melo was very far
from thinking, when he raised his humble ajoupa *
at the bottom of a little bay, that his name would
be one day metamorphofed into Jaquemel; and his
hut into a commercial town, a port, capital of three
.parifhes, the refidence of a Senefchal, a military
So they call a kind of hut, or hovel, composed of leaves and
branches, where the planters ufually refide when they commence
clearing a new piece of ground.
[ 67 ]
chief, &c. It was thus that Dido laid the founda-
tion of Carthage, without imagining fhe was about
to raife a rival to Rome !
When I honour Jaquemel with the name of a
town, you are not, Sir, to take the expreffion
literally : for furely a few wooden barracks fpread
over a beach, or fcattered up and down the accli-
vities of a rugged and ftony eminence, were never
yet fuppofed to conflitute a town. With the ex-
ception, however, of Cape Francois, this is the
definition of all you will find at St. Domingo.
One rich planter has indeed had the temerity to
build a tolerable hoafe here of ftone, at the hazard
of feeing it crumble to pieces the very firft earth-
Be this as it may, this irregular group of Cafes
(fo they call their houfes here) interfperfed with a
few fpots of verdure, forms, as feen from the fea,
an appearance extremely pidurefque.
A bay perfe&ly fafe in the favourable feafon,
good anchoring ground, and land ready cleared,
which has much increased the cultivation in this
quarter, bring hither every year about twenty fhips,
which are freighted with fugar, coffee, and cotton.
For although Monf. Raynal gives the diftrit of
Jaquemel fixty-two indigo, and no fugar planta-
F 2 tions ;
[ 68 ]
tons *; 'I can venture to affure you that there are
three of the latter, in full bearing, and not one of
the former. The exceffive attention which the
cultivation of indigo demands, the fuccefs, at beft
uncertain, and the rifque of lofing in a moment
the fruit of a long feries of labour, have determined
the colonifts to abandon it altogether. In revenge
they have extended the cultivation of coffee, lefs
lucrative than that of fugar, but fubje6t to fewer
viciffirudes, and lefs dear; more expensive than
that of cotton, but more certain, and yielding a
The cultivation of the diffriat of Jaquemel is
fufceptible of a considerable increase: for, although
all the land be conceded, it is very far from being
all in hand; and what is fo, is fill farther from
the fate of perfection to which it might be brought.
This, Sir, would not have been the cafe, if, by re-
ducing the extent of the conceffions, they had
multiplied the number of the inhabitants. Planta-
tions of a moderate fize are always beft cultivated;
and for this fimple reafon, that the eye of the
after overlooks them more eafily j.
Iifloire Philofophique et Politique des Etablifemens et du Con?
merce des Europeens dans les Indes. Tome 7.
+ t" There fill remain in England, and in Europe, fome great
fltates which have continued without interruption in the hands of
[ 69 ]
Among the numerous caufes which retard the
progrefs of planting, and fetter the induffry of
the planter, there are three pre-eminent: the capi-
tation tax on negroes, the high price to which the
commerce of France has raised this commodity, and
the enormous charges of what is called Juftice.
The author of the "c Pbilofophical and Political
9" Hitlory of the Indies in enumerating the ad.
vantages which would flow from transferring the
tax on negroes, to the different articles which they
cultivate, has expofed but a fmall part of the evil
arifing from this impolitic impoft. The obje& is
fufficiently important to call for a development
which hall leave the partifans of the capitation tax
without a reply.
If an equal number of blacks, fay they, pro-
duces an equal quantity of merchandize, is it not a
matter of indifference on which the tax is impofed ?
This fophiftry can only perfuade the ignorant.
W& will fuppofe, Sir, that I purchase to-day
the fame family, fince the times of feudal anarchy. Compare the
present condition of thofe efltates with the poffeflions of the fmall
proprietors in their neighbourhood, and you will require no other
argument to convince you, how unfavourable fuch extenfive pro-
perty is to improvement." Smith's Wealth of Nations. Vol. z.
Book 3. Chap. 2.
[ 76 ]
ten blacks: the law obliges me to register them
to-morrow; and I am taxed in confequence of it.
We will fuppofe again, what is too frequently the
cafe, that two of the ten diebefore they are fet to
work : the king lofes nothing, it is true; but he
who taxes my workmen with an eye to the profit
of a work which they have not performed ; a pro-
fit which alone can enable me to.pay, commits a
glaring injuftice, especially as he adds to the lofs I
have suffered, an increase of impofition, which
can only be taken from the interest of a capital al.
ready diminifhed. Befides, to tax my negro-
what is it but to add to the price of his purchase,
the amount of the tax ? Now, the dearer negroes
are, the lefs I fall be able to purchase ;-.the lefs
negroes, the lefs cultivation ; the lefs cultivation,
the lefs produce. Reverfe the dilemma: the
cheaper negroes are, the more I hall be able to
purchase; the more negroes, the more cultivation;
the more cultivation, the more produce.-,In the
name of common fenfe, then, and of common in-
tereft, lay your tax on the produce, c" If," fays a
modLrn writer of the firft reputation, c.cthe under-
c taker of fome great manufactory, who employs a
'c thousand a year in the maintenance of his ma-
:' chinery, can reduce this expence to five hun-
* dred, in purchasing an additional quantity of
c materials to be wrought up by an additional
f number of workmen; the quantity of that work,
[ 71 ]
c" therefore, which his machinery was ufeful only
cc for performing, will naturally be augmented,
" and with it all the advantage and conveniency
CC which the fociety can derive from that work t."
If ever government should find it neceffary to,
lay a duty on the exportation of flour, what should
wqfay, if, initad of charging a certain fum on every
fack, it wero to place the impofition on the wheels
of the mills which ground it ?
Another confequence of this vicious mode of im.
position is, that the planter, to elude the weight ot
it, makes falfe entries: and fuch is the facility, of
concealing the number from the Exchequer, that
there is fcarce an instance of the fraud's being de-
tedted. Thus, odious for its rapacity, and con-
temptible for its impotence, government trains up
the Colonift in the hatred of the legislator, and the
ridicule of the laws.
I hope, Sir, that the importance of the fubjedt
will juftify the lengths to which I have gone in
treating a question, involving at once the fovereign,
the colonifts, the commerce, and confequently the
common good of the colonies, and the mother
country ; by the latter of whom it should never be
+ Smith's Wealth of Nations. Vol. I. Book 2. Chap. 2.
[ 72 ]
forgotten, that fhe labours for her own advantage,
while fhe endeavours to promote. the profperity of
I fhall referve for another letter the examination
of two other important objes ; the price of ne-
groes, and the expenses of jufftice; and, terminate
the prefent with an obfervation, which appears
to me of the utmoft confequence, though it be
not immediately connected with the preceding
The price of negroes increases every day with an
alarming rapidity. A picked negro, who colts at
prefent near three thoufand livres, might have been
purchased a century ago for three hundred*. If
the price of the commodities they raife had in.-
creafed in the fame proportion, the evil would not
have been great. But this is not the cafe; fince
many fates, thofe in particular, who receive the pro-
ductions of the colonies at the second or third hand,
terrified at the exportation of fpecie, which the
ftill-increafing prices of them occafion, have taken
the moft juff, as well as the moft efficacious mea-
fures to fet bounds to their confumption.
On whom, then, muft finally fall the lofs which
refults from fo striking adifproportion between the
See 4 Les Voyages du Sieur Le Maire." Page 73.
[ 73 ]
expense and the profits of cultivation ?-On the
From whence comes the evil ? and how can it be
The firft question I will endeavour to anfwer;
the second muft be left to the difcretion of govern-
Nature proceeds with regularity. She balances,
according to proportions which we may sometimes
alter, but can 'never deftroy, loffes by fupplies;
that is, deaths by births ; in fuch a manner that
the earth may have at all times nearly the fame
number of inhabitants. It is not her fault, if our
crimes, our pafflions, and our follies derange this
beautiful order;-if our avarice tempts us to tear
ten inhabitants from one country, for the fake of
adding one to another I
Yet this is what is done by the traffic in negroes !
The enormous confumption which the trade, a moft
worthy rival of the peftilence, has occafioned on
the coafts of Africa, has fo depopulated them, that
the dealers are neceffitated to feek for flaves above
a thoufand leagues up the country !
That the price of ore should increafe as the mine
becomes more and more exhaufted, is a fimple
proposition: but that it should be poflible to main-
tain a.juft proportion between two-obje4ts of ex-
change, one of which continues to rife in value in
proportion to its ever-increafing fcarcity, while the
other, bounded in its consumption, has already
reached its maximum, is, in nmy opinion, the moft
extravagant of abfurdities.
We muft then look forward to .an epoch, which
is not, perhaps, fo diftant 'as we mAy imagine;-
that of the total ceffation of the flave trade. Of
two things one tnift. happen: either the difficulty
of procuring flaves will raife their value fo high as
to incapacitate the planter from pprchafing them,
or the Africans, enlightened by-experience, and
terrified at a depopulation which menaces a total
deftrudtion, will of themfelvq, renounce the traffic.
The confequence of either fuppofition is the fame.
It is impoffible but they muft be realized fooner or
later: and I do not yet fee that any fteps have
been taken to obviate the inevitable effect-the
rujn of the colonies.
A calculation made in 1773, proves, that in a
lapfe of two hundred and forty years, more than
ten million of negroes have been imported into the
colonies. At prefent, thefe fame colonies require
[ 75 ]
more than one hundred thousand annually; and
if you add to this number, thofe who perifh in the
wars to which this traffic gives birth, and in the
middle paffage, by ficknefs, fhipwrecks, and re-
volts, you will find it neceffary to double it; which
in a period of thirty years, carries the confumption
to the amazing fum offix millions !--- I will now
afk you, whether it be poflible that the population
of Africa should not be fpeedily exhaufted ?
SHE confequences of the exceffive price of ne-
groes, with refpedt to the ulterior profperity of the
colonies, may be underftood, Sir, without being
particularly infifted on. As I may not again have
an opportunity of recurring to this fubje't, I will
tell you what fteps I have taken relative to it.
It is now more than four months ago, that, fur.
prifed at the trifling profits the planters derived
from their eftates, I fancied I muft feek for the
force of the evil in foniething besides their inat.
[ 76 ]
tention: and the dearnefs of negroes was pointed
out to me.
Purfuing my refearches, I found that the Englifh
of the neighboring ifles privately furnifhed the
colonifts, for twelve or fourteen hundred livres,
with as good a black as they could buy of our
traders for feren or eight and twenty hundred.
Overcome by the intreaties of fome of the inha-
bitants, I took upon me to draw up, and tranfmit
to the minister of the marine, a memorial, in which
I pointed out the neceffity of permitting the intro-
du6tion of four thoufand negroes in prohibited vef-
fels: and, as I forefaw the objefion of the preju-
dice which this aad of beneficence would occafion
to the commerce of the mother country, I took ex..
traordinary pains to demonstrate that it ought to be
a matter of indifference to her, if I purchased elfe-
where, what fhe was incapable of fupplying me
with, but at a price above my means ; that what
fhe might have gained, on thefe four thoufand ne-
groes (a gain, by the bye, fhe could not have made,
fince they would not have been bought of her)
would be more than compenfated by her profits on
the produce of the industry of the four thoufand
additional labourers; that, all this well considered,
it would appear that the French commerce might
felicitate itfelf on an ideal lofs, which would prove
' 77 3
the force of a real gain; and finally, that the ad-
vantages of this ufeful speculation would all centre
in itfelf, fince it could only be supported by the
funds of the French merchants.
The minister's anfwer was, That he should have
been happy to have entered into my views ; that
he felt all the advantages of them ;-but, that he
forefaw an invincible obstacle in the opposition of
the trade ---!
It is difficult to conceive, Sir, why the govern-
ment, which we ought to fuppofe always a6tuated
by the love of the public good, does not proted,
more efficacioufly than it appears to do, the inter.
efts of the planter against the ufurpations of the
trade. And it is a ufurpation, whenever you deftroy
the equilibrium which ought to exift between all
articles of exchange, by forbidding me to raife the
price of my commodity in the fame proportion as
you augment the value of yours. A single example
will be sufficient.
To avoid fractions, I will fuppofe that the planter
fold his coffee, ten years ago, at the rate of five
fols a pound, to the trader, who paid him in negroes
at the rate of five hundred livres a-piece. At
The price of a negro in 1700 was fix hundred livres, of a
aegrefs four hundred and fifty.
E 78 ]
prefent, the highest price of coffee is from eighteen
to twenty fols; that of a negro, from two rhoufand
five hundred, to two thousand eight hundred livres.
Thus, the trader who, to follow the proportion,
and maintain the balance, should have merely qua-
drupled his price, has at leaft quintupled it; and
confequently ufurped a fifth.
We come now to what is here called Juftice, of
which I fall fay but a word ; for when you learn
that the tribunal of Jaquemel, composed of a
fenefchal, of a deputy judge, of two attorney-
generals, of a secretary, four counfellors, four or
five attorneys, and as many tipftaffs, colls one year
with another more than four hundred thoufand
livres, to the inhabitants of its little jurifdidion;
you will eafily comprehend, why cultivation lan-
guifhes, and why the greater part of the planters,
who owe constantly more than they are worth, ve-
getate in mifery, crapulence, and floth.
It would be fuperfluous to fay any more on this
head, unlefs you should think it neccffary to know
that the judges fit in a fecular habit, with a
fword by their fide; and that Themis, in confider-
ation of the extreme heat of the climate, inftead of
the thick bandage which covers her eyes elsewhere,
plays at blindman's-buff here, with a light ftrip of
tranfparent gauze over them. For the reft, you
[ 79 ]
may be allured, that ii eflimating the expence of
juftice, I have rather gone below, than above, the
truth: for I know more than one tipftaff here, who
has picked up fifty or fixty thoufand livres, by
ferving warrants, in what thofe facetious gentle-
men are pleaded to call, produflive years.
Do not, however, Sir, fuppofe me fo unjuft as
to wifh to deprive commerce of its due fhare of
influence on the habitual and general wretchednefs
of the colonies. It is an ingenious manaeuvre,
which does it too much honour to be fuppreffed;
but which you will not comprehend unlefs I fur-
nifh you with the neceffary documents. For this
purpofe it will be expedient to look back a little.
9c The colonies were eftablifhed at the expence
"C of individuals: the hiftory of each clearly proves
c it." It was neither then to the foresight, nor
to the policy, nor to the humanity of fovereigns,
that they owed their foundation, and leaft of all,
that of Saint Domingo. It was to accident alone.
Some Frenchmen, driven from Saint Kitts by the
Spaniards, with other adventurers of their nation,
together with a few Englifh, found themselves on
the western coaft of St. Domingo, then uninhabited.
They eftablifhed themselves there in 1627, and
.R4cherches fur lcs Etats-Unis d'Amerique. Page 118.
were the original flock of the Flebuftiers ; of thofe
men, whofe audacity in undertaking, whofe pro..
digious courage in executing the moft difficult
enterprises, reduce to the level of children play,
the fabulous exploits of the demi-gods of antiquity;
and whofe ferocity occafioned one of their chiefs to
be called MONBARS the EXTERMINATOR.
Difgufled with their vagabond and perilous mode
of exiftlence, fome of thefe extraordinary men, of
whom the greater part were Englifh, betook them-
felves to the ifle of Tortua *, (which they had made
their magazine in 1 630, after driving away about
five and twenty Spaniards) on the coaft of Saint
Domingo, -where they joined themselves to the
Buccaneers, a fpecies of hunters, whofe wandering
and precarious habits of life, ferved the Flebuftiers
as an intermediate ftep in their paffage from the
Rate of failors and soldiers, to that of planters.
At firft occupied by the Englifh in 1638, under the command
of Willis. A French engineer of the name of Le Vaffeur drove
them out; adopted, with the title of prince, the manners of a
tyrant, and was affaffinated by two of his nephews. Tortua then
fell under the command of the Chevalier de Fontenay, who re-
ftored it to the Spanilh; when a third adventurer, Defchampsdu
Rauffet took it from them again in 1669, and five years after-
wards, fold it to the Weft India Company. See Labat, Nouvea#
. Voyage aux Ifles Franfoifes de L'Amirique. Tom. 5. Chap. 6.
[ 81 ]
Two things which will always unite meti in fo-.
ciety clofer together, the neceffity of order, and
of perpetuating themselves, determined thefe new
inhabitants to afk for a. chief, and for women.
The government fent them at firft Duparquet,
and foon after Bertrand d'Ogeron de la Bouere, a
gentleman of Angers, who arrived on the fixth of
June 1636. He was fucceeded by Ducaffe, and
L'Arnage; and the fele&ion of thefe men, worthy
in every refped to command others, proves that go-
vernments are not always deceived in the choice of
thofe to whom they delegate a part of their power.
c Mild and firm," fays a modern hiftorian, fpeak-
ing of D'Ogeron,c patient and adroit; inftrudted
" by misfortune, and the habitude of living with
c this ferocious people; cherifhed by them, and
" refpefted by thofe above him, he was fill
" superior to the opinion they had formed, I will
" not fay of his virtues, but of his talents."*
The choice of women was lefs difficult to make.
France, at that time, abounded with poor, induftri-
ous, and modeft females, whofe fweet and ingenu-
ous difpofitions would have foftened, nay, purified
the morals of men, rather unformed than corrupted.
SHijoire Ginirale de 'Afte, de l'Afrique et de l'Amerique.