|Table of Contents|
Table of Contents
Chapter I. General description of Hayti
Chapter II. History before independence
Chapter III. History since independence
Chapter IV. The population of Hayti
Chapter V. Vaudoux-worship and cannibalism
Chapter VI. Cannibalism
Chapter VII. The government
Chapter VIII. Religion, education, and justice
Chapter IX. The army and police
Chapter X. Language and literature
Chapter XI. Agriculture, commerce, and finance
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THE BLACK REPUBLIC.
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THE BLACK REPUBLIC.
SIR SPENSER ST. JOHN, K.C.M.G.
FORMERLY HER MAJESTY'S MINISTER RESIDENT AND CONSUL-GENERAL
IN HAYTI, NOW HER MAJESTY'S ENVOY EXTRAORDINARY
AND MINISTER PLENIPOTENTIARY TO MEXICO.
Haiti, Haiti, pays de barbares."
SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE.
I. GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI I
II. HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE 28
III. HISTORY SINCE INDEPENDENCE 76 IV. THE POPULATION OF HAYTI .130
V. VAUDOUX-WORSHIP AND CANNIBALISM. 187
VL. CANNIBALISM .232 VII. THE GOVERNMENT .258 VIII. RELIGION, EDUCATION, AND JUSTICE . .277 IX. THE ARMY AND POLICE .308 I. LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE .340
XI. AGRICULTURE, COMMERCE, AND FINANCE .358
WHILST living in Port-au-Prince, Don Mariano Alvarez, my Spanish colleague, remarked to me, "Mon ami, if we could return to Hayti fifty years hence, we should find the negresses cooking their bananas- on the site of these warehouses." This judgment is severe, yet from what we saw passing under the Salomon Administration it is more than probable-unless in the meantime influenced by some higher civilisation-that this prophecy will come true. In fact, the negrresses are already cooking their bananas amid the ruins of the best houses of the capital. My own impression, after personally knowing the Haytian Republic above twenty-five years, is, that it is a country in a state of rapid decadence. The revolution of 1843 that upset President Boyer commenced the era of troubles, which have continued to the present day, and the people have since been steadily falling to the rear in the race of civilisation.
The civil war (1867-1869) during the Presidency of General Salnave destroyed a vast amount of property and rendered living in the country districts less secure, so that there has been ever since a tendency for the more civilised inhabitants to agglomerate in the towns and leave the rural communities to fetish-worship and
cannibalism. Fires, most of them incendiary, have swept over the cities; in the commercial as well as in the residential quarters of Port-au-Prince it would now be difficult to find any houses which existed in i 86o, and the fortunes of all have naturally greatly suffered.
When I first arrived in Hayti (January 1863) the capital possessed several respectable public and private buildings. The palace, though without any architectural beauty, was large and commodious and -well suited to the climate; the Senate, the House of iRepresentatives, the dwellings occupied by several of the Ministers, the pretty little theatre, were features which have now disappeared, and nothing equal to them has taken their place.
The town of Pe'tionville or La Coupe, the summer and health resort of the capital, where the best families sought a little country life during the great heats, was almost entirely destroyed during the revolution of 1868, and the proprietors are still too poor to rebuild.
Society also has completely changed. I saw at balls given in the palace in 1863 a hundred well-dressed, prosperous families of every shade of colour; no~w political dissensions would prevent such gatherings, even if there were a building, in the city which could receive them, and poverty has laid its heavy hand more or less on all. It is the same in a greater or lesser degree in every other town of the republic.
Agriculture in the plains is also deteriorating, and the estates produce much less than formerly, except of their staple product, rum, to stupefy and brutalise the barbarous lower orders.
Foreigners, nearly ruined by their losses during the constant civil disturbances, are withdrawingr from the republic, and capital is following them; and 'with their withdrawal the country must sink still lower. The best of the coloured people during( the Salomon regime also left, as they shunned the fate reserved for them by those who had already slaughtered the most prominent mulattoes.
In fact, the coloured element, which is the civilising, element in Hayti, is daily becoming of less importance; internal party strife has injured their political standing, and constant intermarriagTe is causing the race to breed back to the more numerous type, and in a few years the mulatto section will have made disastrous approaches to the negro. The only policy which could have saved the mulatto would have been to encourage the whites to settle in their country ; yet this course of action the coloured men have blindly resisted..
In spite of all the civilising elements around the Haytians, there is a distinct tendency to sink into the state of an African tribe. It is naturally impossible to foretell the effect of all the influences which are now at work in the world, and which seem to foreshadow many important changes. We appear standing on the threshold of a period of great discoveries, which may modify many things, but not man's nature.
The mass of the negroes of Hayti live in the country districts, which are rarely or never visited by civilised people; there are few Christian priests to give them notion of true religion; no superior local officers to prevent them practising their worst fetish ceremonies. And that these are not confined to the lower classes is
testified by La VeritJ of October i6, i886, the Haytian religious journal published in Port-au-Prince. In an article on the country districts near the capital it says :-" We have many well-to-do people (gens aisds), but les services, les bamboulas (ceremonies connected with the Vaudoux), and above all the manner of transmitting property, joined to concubinage, do not permit great fortunes to be accumulated. But these well-todo people, in what do they employ their capital? In amusing themselves in the orgies of the Vaudoux." This is Haytian testimony.
In treating of the black and the mulatto, as they appeared to me during my residence among them, I fear I shall be considered by some to judge harshly; such, however, is not my intention. Brought up under Sir James Brooke, whose enlarged sympathies could endure no prejudice of race or colour, I do not remember ever to have felt any repugnance to my fellowcreatures on account of a difference of complexion.
I have dwelt above forty years among coloured people of various races, and am sensible of no prejudice against them. For twelve years I lived in familiar and kindly intercourse with Haytians of all ranks and shades of colour, and the most frequent and not least honoured guests at my table were of the black and coloured races.
All who knew me in Hayti know that I have no prejudice of colour; and if I place the Haytians in general in an unfavourable light, it is from a strong conviction that it is necessary to describe the people as they are, and not as one would wish them to be. The black and coloured friends who gathered round me
during my long residence in Port-au-Prince were not free from many of the faults which I have been obliged to censure in describing these different sections of the population, but they had them in a less degree, or, as I was really attached to them, I perhaps saw them in a dimmer light.
I have read with the deepest interest Froude's 'Eng(lish in the West Indies," and I can but join with him in protesting against according popular governments to those colonies. I know what the black man is, and I have no hesitation in declaringr that he is incapable of the art of government, and that to entrust him with framing and working the laws for our islands is to condemn them to inevitable ruin. What the negfro may become after centuries of civilised education I cannot tell, but what I know is that he is not fit to govern now. There are brilliant exceptions doubtless, as the black Chief-Justice of Barbadoes, but we must judge them as a race, and as a race they are incapable. Our colonies should remain crown colonies, and then, with due encouragement from home, they would again lift their heads.
The most difficult chapter to write was that on Vaudoux-worship and Cannibalism." I have endeavoured to paint them in the least sombre colours, and no one who knows the country will think that I have exaggerated ; in fact, had I listened to the testimony of many experienced residents, I should have described rites at which dozens of human victims were sacrificed at a time. Everything I have related has been founded on evidence collected in Hayti, from Haytian official documents, the press of Port-au-Prince,
from trustworthy officers of the ilaytian Government, my foreign colleagues, and from residents long established in the country,-principally, however, from Haytian sources.
It may be suggested that I am referring to the past. On the contrary, I have been informed on trustworthy testimony that in 1887 cannibalism was more rampant than ever. A black Government dares not greatly interfere, as its power is founded on the goodwill of the masses, ignorant and deeply tainted with fetish-worship. A Haytian writer lately remarked in print, "On se plaisit beaucoup de ce que le Vaudoux a reparu grandiose et s6rieux." The fetish-dances were forbidden by decree under the Government of General Boisrond-Canal, but on his fall that decree was repealed, and high officers attended these meetings, and distributed money and applauded the most frantic excesses.
General Salomon, who was in power until 1888, lived for eighteen years in Europe, married a white Frenchwoman, and knew what civilisation was. He probably, on his first advent to the Presidency, possessed sufficient influence in the country to have checked the open manifestations of this barbarous worship; but the fate of those of his predecessors who attempted to grapple with the evil was not encouraging. It was hoped, however, that he would make the attempt, and that, grasping the nettle with resolution, he might suffer no evil results; but many doubted not only his courage to undertake the task, but even the will; and they, I fear, judged correctly.
Whether General Salomon was or was not a member of the Vaudoux sect has been much discussed; he was
accused by the New York World's correspondent of having, during a visit to Fort Libert4, joined in the fetish practices of the sect; I and M. Laroche, a Haytian, in a letter to the Paris Temps of February 21, 1885, after declaring that the details published in the first edition of this work were absolutely correct, adds, that General Salomon gave this sect "an open and culpable protection," and forwarded an extract from the Haytian paper Lie Peuyle of September 24, 1884, showing that the Vaudoux dances were openly permitted in Port-auPrince.
It is too soon to decide this question, but it is highly probable that General Salomon, seeing how infected his people and army were with Vaudouxism, did not attempt to discourage it.
As my chapters on Vaudoux-worship and cannibalism excited considerable attention both in Europe and the United States, and unmitigated abuse in Hayti, I decided again to look into the question with the greatest care. The result has been to convince me that I underrated its fearful manifestations; I have therefore rewritten these chapters, and introduced many new facts which have come to my knowledge.
"Out of thy own mouth will I condemn thee, thou wicked servant," might well be addressed to the people of Hayti, as it is principally to Haytian sources that I can now appeal to prove the miserable state into which the republic has fallen. Whether it be the spread of Vaudoux-worship among the well-to-do people (gens aiss) of the country, or cannibalism, or the brutality of the police, or the infectious state of the prisons, I
1 The World, December 5, 1886.
have but to quote the Haytian papers to prove that I bad written my first account with rose-water instead of with black indelible ink.
The practice of eating young, children and digging up freshly buried corpses for brutal ceremonies or for food increased so greatly that even General Salomon's Government was forced to interfere, and a few men and women received trivial punishments. The Haytians endeavour to excuse these peculiar practices by quoting horrible crimes committed in France and elsewhere. Doubtless horrible crimes are committed in other countries, but in what country nominally Christian would they find a hundred men and women assemble for the express purpose of killing one of their own children and deliberately cooking and eating its flesh in what they consider savoury dishes? And who had a better right to eat them ? Did I not begTet them ?" as the Pe'tionville prisoner exclaimed.
I think it important to quote the opinion of an impartial observer who came to the West Indies with the full belief that I had misstated the facts relatingr to Vaudoux-worship, or that I had drawn wrong conclusions. However, Mr. Froude is a man of experience and observation, and not likely to allows a preconceived opinion to influence his judgment. This is the result of his inquiries as published in i888 :-" But behind the immorality, behind the religiosity, there lies active and alive the horrible revival of the West African superstitions ; the serpent worship, and the childsacrifice, and the cannibalism. There is no room to doubt it." 1
The Engylish in the West Indies, Chap. xx.
Whenever all the documents which exist on this subject are published, my chapter on cannibalism will be looked upon as but a pale reflection of the reality.
With regard to the history of the country, materials abound for writing a very full one, but I do not think it would prove interesting to the general reader, as it is but a series of plots and revolutions, followed by barbarous military executions. A destructive and exhausting war with Santo Domingo and civil strife during the Presidency of General Salnave did more to ruin the resources of the country than any amount of bad government. The enforced abandonment of work by the people called to arms by the contending factions introduced habits of idleness and rapine which have continued to the present day; and the material losses by the destruction of the best estates and the burning of towns and villages have never been fully repaired.
From the overthrow of President Geffrard in 1867 the country has been more rapidly going to ruin ("Depuis I868 l'abaissement commence"1). The fall was slightly checked during the quiet Presidency of Nissage-Saget; but the Government of General Domingue amply made up for lost time, and was one of the worst, if not the worst, that Hayti had seen; with the Sectaries of the Vaudoux in power, nothing else could have been expected.
In the first edition I brought my sketch of the history of Hayti down to the fall of President BoisrondCanal in 1879, and did not touch on the rule of the President of Hayti, General Salomon, a black; events
1 La YgritM, October j6, I886.
are too recent for me to do so now. I may say, however, that he was the determined enemy of the coloured section of the community; was credited with being the chief adviser of the Emperor Soulouque in all his most disastrous measures; and the population is said to be now sunk into the lowest depths of poverty. "The misery (of the people) is great, immense, intense. There are families who are literally dying of hunger. If one wishes to know it, one has but to walk through the streets at night, as one is certain to be approached by the shame-faced poor, who from under a shawl hold out the hand. Remove this shawl and you will see people but lately fortunate."'1 Probably the widows and orphans of those shot under the late despotic rule.
The civil war which devastated the country during 1883 and 1884 was marked by more savage excesses than any previously known in ilaytian history, the black authorities hesitatingr at no step to gain their object, which was utterly to destroy the educated coloured class. They cared not for the others; as they say, Mulatte pauvre, li n~cgue."
A few months after the publication of this work I met a young married coloured Haytian lady, who said to me, "I hear you have written a book about mny country and called it a 'pays de barbares ; '" she paused, and continued with much emotion, I do not know what you have written, but nothing you can have said will have done us any injustice." I was struck by her earnest yet sad manner, and wrote to my friend, William Maunder, at Port-au-Prince for an explanation. He
1 Le Peuple, August 12, 1887.
answered, During the late insurrection, Salomon determined to awe the capital, and sent his soldiery and the rabble to attack the houses of the principal mulattoes. After firing grape-shot into one, the soldiers rushed in and draggaed. out the proprietor, his wife, daughter, and son-in-law. The proprietor they murdered before his family, the daughter they stripped naked, and she was violated several times by the negroes in the presence of an approving and grinning staff of Salomon's officers." This was the civilised government which this black President introduced into his country. These horrors were only stopped when the foreign agents threatened to land men from their ships of war and attack the rabble.
A few words as to the origin of this book. In 1867 I was living in the hills near Port-au-Prince, and having some leisure, I began to collect materials and write rough drafts of the principal chapters. I was interrupted by civil war, and did not resume work until after I had left the country. It may have been the modifying effects of time, but in looking over the chapters as I originally wrote them, I thought that I had been too severe in my judgments on whole classes, and I have therefore softened the opinions I then expressed; and the greater experience which a further residence of seven years gave me enabled me to study the people more and avoid too sweeping condemnations.
In my Preface to the French edition of this work, I mentioned the way in which it had been received in Hayti; by the press with an outburst of wrath, simulated, 'tis true, in order to please the black Government;
but by the upper classes, whose opinion is of value, it was judged to be "la dure ve'rite', mais ]a ve'rite'" Gradually violent anger has been followed by reaction; the book has been quoted in the Senate without protest, and some of the papers already begin to allow that it contains much which is true, whilst the bestinformed Haytians promised to send me corrections of a few errors, but they have failed to find them.
Since even this Introduction was rewritten, Salomon has been driven from power, and is dead. The time has not yet arrived when one can fairly j udge of the effects of his eight or nine years' rule, but I can do his memory no injustice when I say, that one of his principal objects was to wreak his vengeance on the coloured class. An incident in his youth raised his anger against them, and various occurrences which took place during, his long life inflamed his passions, and when he seized despotic power he proceeded to exercise it. Under various pretexts he arrested the most prominent mulattoes, sent them before an abject tribunal, and had them shot. Many of the most meritorious and gallant young men of the capital and principal cities suffered this fate, whilst others sought refuge in exile, until, maddened by the news of the execution of their friends, they threw themselves, sword in hand, on their enemies, and ultimately perished almost to a man. The gallant stand made by this noble band of patriots, defending an open town for many months against the whole army of Hayti, may well be considered to atone for their previous political errors.
In truth, I may well repeat that, like the well-known Spanish Marshal, Salomon on his deathbed could have
had but few enemies to forgive, for he had already shot all who had come within his reach.
Ever since the reign of Soulouque the Haytian Government has engaged French writers to publish rose-coloured accounts of the Black Republic, but twenty-four hours in any one of its towns would dissipate any illusions which might be entertained. Let those who doubt read Froude's graphic description of his landing in Port-au-Prince.
A series of very interesting articles on Hayti appeared in the Science Sociale, the last of which, January 1887, devoted to the present state of negro society, is especially worthy of attention, as it compares the life led by the blacks in Hayti with that of their brethren on the western shores of Africa. The author of these articles, M. A. de Pr6ville, finds "une ressemblance saisissante" between these dwellers "des deux c6t6s de l'Atlantique."
Those who cannot visit the West Indies should read Froude's book,1 as then the picture of those beautiful islands will remain for ever engraven on their memories. And I would recommend also the chapters which Captain Kennedy has devoted to Hayti,2 where the reader will find reference to horrors connected with cannibalism of which I was formerly not convinced, but which recent trials and incidents in Hayti have fully proved.
It is scarcely worth while to notice what the ignorant writers of the French press may say about England, but whilst the English Government was demanding a settlement of the claims against Hayti, several articles
The English in the West Indies.
2 Sport, Travel, and Adventures, by Captain Kennedy, R.N.
appeared in Paris journals which exceeded their usual license. One under the title of "La Grande Voleuse" came out in L'autorite; it was remarkable for its ignorance and stupidity, accusing the English of seeking to seize a strategic point on Haytian territory. The statement would not be worth noticing had not this absurd accusation been repeated in every republic in America, and did not people continue to repeat it even to the present day. When M. de Cassagnac says :-" Tout le monde pense que 1'Angleterre est essentiellement insolente et ]a.che," we smile at his presumption and think that he appears to have forgotten history; it is almost comic to hear a Frenchman calling the English cowards. He continues, Cette nation detestable et deteste ;" it is a pity he was not in Madrid during the Franco-German war, or he would have heard shouts which would have wounded his delicate sensibilities.
Although Haytians, like others, are hurt by any reflection on their conduct, I will express a hope that if a really enlightened coloured or black man succeed to the Presidency, he, supported by the public opinion of the civilised world, will attempt a radical reform in the habits of the lower orders, and thus render unnecessary any further reference to their peculiar institution.
MEXICO, October i888.
P.S.-In my Introduction I have stated that no Haytian had come forward to answer any of the charges contained either in the first edition of this work or in the French translation. Yesterday, how-
ever, I received, presumably from the author, a pamphlet entitled Une conference sur Haiti. En
rrponse aux d'tracteurs de ma race notamment Sir Spenser St. John, Ministre Plenipotentiaire de S. M. Bau Mexique. Par Arthur Bowler, Avocat. Paris,
Dentu, (Septembre) i888."
I was very pleased to receive this brochure, which, instead of being an answer, confirms by its silence all my important statements, that remain still uncontradicted by any one, as my readers will notice when I refer to the trifling objections which M. Bowler makes to a few paragraphs. I may remark, however, that, as far as I can remember, I had never previously heard of this gentleman, who, if a Haytian, is evidently not familiar either with his own country or its press, and but lightly skims over a few paltry details with a poor attempt at persiflage.
M. Bowler's first correction is, that I am mistaken in stating that La Selle, &c., are the highest mountains in Hayti, as there are higher in Santo Domingo, about which republic I was not writing. b
2. He refers to a story told at page L64 of a mother teaching her son to cheat. In answer to his doubt, I may inform him that I overheard the conversation myself. In his comments on this anecdote he shows how little he knows of the value of paper money.
3. "That the negro has a great propensity for pilferin." That is what the blacks say of each other, and my thirteen years' experience of Hayti confirms the saying. It was an old sojourner in Hayti, M. Faton, who declared, in joke we will suppose, "that no negro ever left a room without looking round to see that he
had not forgotten something." This story was told me with great glee by a black President of the municipality of Port-au-Prince, who added, that those who had plantations in the hills suffered much from this propensity. .Let M. Bowler ask the peasantry why they never allow their fruit to ripen on the trees. It would be as well for M. Bowler not to quote the testimony of French authors paid by the Haytian Government to g~cive a rose-coloured picture of the Black Republic.
4. I am afraid that M. Bowler's knowledge of either English or French is defective when he translates, "God spoilt them, and God will repair them "- Dieu l'a salie, Dieul la nettoiera." Another proof of his want of familiarity with Hayti is the remark that no native would address a foreignaer in Creole, when ninetenths of the inhabitants can speak no other language, and in familiar intercourse the upper classes seldom speak French.
5. M. Bowler objects that I have not introduced into my book any reference to a certain banquet given to me in Port-au-Prince, but I have as far as possible avoided anything which might be considered personal to myself, or I should have had many a story to relate. The principal idea of the book was to depict the manners of the popular and the untravelled classes, as those of the upper are much the same in most countries. Mly impression is, that the civilised portion of the inhabitants, although annoyed at the necessary publicity, were pleased that some one had the courage to expose the barbarous customs of the people, in the hope that the hostile criticism would rouse the governing classes to an effort to improve the customs as well as the
education of the people. It was left to a narrowminded "avocat" to put down to hate the performance of a duty which would be considered sacred by any enlightened lover of mankind.
6. M. Bowler protests against my assertion that, as a rule, the mulatto detests the white. Not always the individual, but the race. That he despises the black, and in return is disliked by him, is too true. This does not prevent individual friendships. The lower orders, however, consider a rich, well-educated black as a mulatto, whilst a poor mulatto is looked upon as a negro. The popular saying runs:N gue riche, 1i mulatte
Mulatte pauvre, 1i nkgue."
Probably M. Bowler never heard that saying. If
the history of Hayti under Soulouque, Domingue, and Salomon, with all its blood-stained incidents, will not convince him of the detestation with which these two sections of the community generally regard each other, nothing will. When I wrote my description of the population of Hayti, I described what I knew to be true.
7. M. Bowler had better consult Blackstone's Commentaries before he ventures again to state what the old common law of England was, and to aid his researches I will direct him to Book I. Chapter xv. "Any contract made, per verba de present, or in words of the present tense, . between persons able to contract, was before the late Act deemed a valid marriage," &c., &c.
And these are all the supposed erroneous statements
which M. Bowler has been able to find in this work, and I may add not one of them is in the least erroneous. He does not even hint a denial of the Vaudoux-worship, or the cannibalism which accompanies it, the eating of children, the digging up of corpses for food or fetish rites, the professional poisoners, 'or the child-stealers; nor does he say a word to disprove my account of the brutality of the police, the fearful state of the prisons, the corruption of the judges, or the cruelties practised on and by the soldiers, and the barbarous military executions.
Knowing how useless it was to deny the truth of these statements, acknowledged as true by all the best of his countrymen, M. Bowler has let judgment go by default, and he has been wise in his generation.
MEXICO, Nhovember 13, I888.
THE BLACK REPUBLIC.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI.
STANDING on one of the lofty mountains of Hayti, and looking towards the interior, I was struck with the pertinence of the saying of the Admiral, who, crumpling a sheet of paper in his hand, threw it on the table before George III., saying, "Sire, Hayti looks like that." The country appears a confused agglomeration of mountain, hill, and valley, most irregular in form; precipices, deep hollows, vales apparently without an outlet; water occasionally glistening far below; cottages scattered here and there, with groves of fruit-trees and bananas clustering round the rude dwellings. Gradually, however, the eye becomes accustomed to the scene; the mountains separate into distinct ranges, the hills are but the attendant buttresses, and the valleys
2 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI.
assume their regular forms as the watersheds of the system, and the streams can be traced meandering gradually towards the ocean.
If you then turn towards the sea, you notice that the valleys have expanded into plains, and the rushing torrents have become broad though shallow rivers, and the mountains that bound the flat, open country push their buttresses almost into the sea. This grand variety of magnificent scenery can be well observed from a point near Kenskoff, about ten miles in the interior from the capital, as well as from the great citadel built on the summit of La Ferriere in the northern province. Before entering into particulars, however, let me give a general idea of the country.
The island of Santo Domingo is situated in the West Indies between 18 and 2o north latitude and 68' 20' and 740 30' west longitude. Its greatest length is four hundred miles, its greatest breadth one hundred and thirty-five miles, and is calculated to be about the size of Ireland. Hayti occupies about a third of the island-the western portion-and, pushing two great promontories into the sea, it has a very large extent of coast-line. It is bounded on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the east by the republic of Santo Domingo, on the south by the Caribbean Sea, and on the west by the passage which separates it from Cuba and Jamaica.
Its most noted mountain ranges are La Selle, which lies on the south-eastern frontier of Hayti; La Hotte, near Les Cayes; and the Black Mountains in the
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI. 3
northern province; but throughout the whole extent of the republic the open valleys are bounded by lofty elevations. In fact, on approaching the island from any direction, it appears so mountainous that it is difficult to imagine that so many smiling, fertile plains are to be met with in every department. They are, however, numerous. The most extensive are the Cul-de-Sac, near Port-au-Prince, the plains of Gonaives, the Artibonite, Arcahaie, Port Margot, Leogane, that of Les Cayes, and those that follow the northern coast.
Hayti has the advantage of being well watered, though this source of riches is greatly neglected. The principal river is the Artibonite, which is navigable for small craft for a short distance ; the other streams have more the character of mountain torrents, full to overflowing during the rainy season, whilst during the dry they are but rivulets running over broad pebbly beds.
The lakes lying at the head of the plain of Cul-deSac are a marked feature in the landscape as viewed from the neighbouring hills. They are but little visited, as their shores are marshy, very unhealthy, and uninhabitable on that account, while the swarms of mosquitoes render even a temporary stay highly disagreeable. The waters of one of them are brackish, which would appear to indicate salt deposits in the neighbourhood.
There are a few islands attached to Hayti, the principal, La Tortue on the north, Gonave on the west, and L'isle-h-Vache on the south coast. Some attempts
4 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI.
have been made to develop their natural riches, but as yet with but moderate success. The first two named are famous for their mahogany trees, and at La Gonave fish abound to so great an extent, that a very important industry might be established there.
The principal towns of the republic are Port-auPrince, the capital, Cap Haftien in the north, and Les Cayes in the south. Jacmel, Jergmie, Miragoane, St. Marc, and Gonaives are also commercial ports.
Port-au-Prince is situated at the bottom of a deep bay, which runs so far into the western coast as almost to divide Hayti in two. It contains about 20,000 inhabitants, and was carefully laid out by the French. It possesses every natural advantage that a capital could require. Little use, however, is made of these advantages, and the place is one of the most unpleasant residences imaginable. I was one day talking to a French naval officer, and he observed, I was here as a midshipman forty years ago." "Do you notice any change ? I asked. Well, it is perhaps dirtier than before." Its dirt is its great drawback, and appears ever to have been so, as Moreau de St. M16ry complained of the same thing during the last century. However, there are degrees of dirt, and he would probably be astonished to see it at the present day. The above paragraph was first written in 1867; since that it has become worse, and when I last lauded (1877), I found the streets heaped up with filth. It does not appear to have improved, as the following extract from
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI. 5
"The English in the West Indies" by Froude (chap. xx.) will prove
"After breakfast we landed. I had seen Jacmel, and therefore thought myself prepared for the worst which I could find. Jacmel was an outlying symptom; Port-auPrince was the central ulcer. Long before we came to shore, there came off whiffs, not of drains as at Havana, but of active dirt fermenting in the sunlight. Calling our handkerchiefs to our help, and looking to our feet carefully, we stepped up upon the quay and walked forward as judiciously as we could. With the help of stones we crossed a shallow ditch, where rotten fish, vegetables, and other articles were lying about promiscuously, and we came on what did duty for a grand parade. We were in a Paris of the gutter with boulevards and places, fiacres and crimson parasols. The boulevards were littered with the refuse of the houses and were foul as pigsties, and the ladies under the parasols were picking their way along them in Parisian boots and silk dresses. I saw a fiacre broken down in a black pool, out of which a blacker ladyship was scrambling."
The capital is well laid out, with lines of streets running parallel to the sea, whilst others cross at right angles, dividing the town into numerous islets or blocks. The street are broad, but utterly neglected. Every one throws out his refuse before his door, so that heaps of manure, broken bottles, crockery, and every species of rubbish encumber the way, and render both riding
6 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI.
and walking dangerous. Building materials are permitted occasionally to accumulate to so great an extent as completely to block up the streets and seriously impede the traffic. Mackenzie, in his notes on Hayti, remarks on the impassable state of the streets in 1826; torn up by tropical rains, they were mended with refuse (generally stable-dung to fill up the holes, and a thin layer of earth thrown over), only to be again destroyed by the first storm.1 Ask Haytians why they do not mend their streets and roads; they answer, "Bon Dieu gaft li; bon Dieu pare li" (God spoilt them, and God will mend them). Then, as now, the roads were in such a state in wet weather that only a waggon with a team of oxen could get through the muddy slough.
On first entering the town, you are struck with the utter shabbiness of the buildings, mean cottages and grovelling huts by the side of the few decent-looking dwellings. Most of the houses are constructed of wood, badly built, with very perishable materials, imported from the United States or our Northern colonies.
"I est un systhme detestable chez nous pour la reparation des rues. Une voie publique, est-elle ddfonc6e ? Vite de la paille du fumier et des detritus de toutes sortes pour la combler. Le niveau des rues, est-il altir6 ? On essayera de la r6tablir en jetant quelques brou6tt6es de paille h l'endroit moins 41ev6. Enfin, I'eau d'une rigole, change-telle son lit et envahit-elle la voie ? On ne trouvera rien de mieux pour en arrater le coulement que de mettre dans Ia marre des tas de fumier. Qu'arrive-t-il ? Au moindre grain de pluie, toutes ces pailles entrent en decomposition et comme elles sont males avec des matibres animales, il s'y ddgage outre l'acide carbonique, des acides, des odeurs de toutes sortes qui ne sont pas pr6cisdment faltes pour donner de la sant6."
-La VritM, June 18.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI. 7
Thie idea that originally prevailed in the construction of the private houses was admirable; before each was a broad verandah, open to all passers, so that from one end of the town to the other it was intended that there should be cool, shady walks. But the intolerable stupidity of the inhabitants has spoilt this plan; in many streets the level of the verandalis of each house is of a different height, and frequently separated by a marshy spot, the receptacle of every species of filth; so that you must either walk in the sun or perform ini the shade a series of gymnastic exercises exceedingly inconvenient in a tropical climate.
On either side of the street was a paved gutter, but now, instead of aiding the drainage, it is another cause of the accumulation of filth. The stones which formnerly rendered the watercourses even have been either removed or displaced, and the rains collecting before the houses form fetid pools, into which the servants pour all that in other countries is carried off by the drains. In a few of the more commercial streets, where foreigners reside, some attention is paid to cleanliness, but still Port-au-Prince may bear the palm away of being the most foul-smielling, dirty, and consequently fever-stricken city in the world.
The port is well protected, but is gradually filling up, as the rains wash into it not only the silt from time mountains, but the refuse of the city, and no effort is made to keep it open. As there is but little tide, the accumulations of every species of vegetable and
8 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI.
animal matter render the water fetid, and when the seabreeze blows gently over these turbid waves, an effiuvia is borne into the town sickening, to all but native .nostrils.
-The most remarkable edifice of Port-au-Prince was the palace, a long, low, wooden building of one storey, supported on brick walls: it contained several fine rooms, and two halls which might have been rendered admirable for receptions ; but everything around it was shabby-the stables, the guard-houses, the untended garden, the courtyard overrun with grass and weeds, and the surrounding walls partially in ruins. This spacious presidential residence was burnt down during the revolutionary attack on Port-au-Prince in December j869, and no attempt hasbeen made to rebuild it.'
The church is a large wooden building, an overgrown shed, disfigured by numerous wretched painting's which cover its walls; and, as an unworthy concession to local prejudice, our Saviour is occasionally represented by an ill-drawn negro.2
The senate-house was the buildings with the most architectural pretensions, but its outer walls only remained when I last saw it, fire having destroyed the roof and the interior wood-work. There is no other edifice worthy of remark ; and the private houses, with
I 'President Salomon built a smaller residence near the former site of the palace.
2 Above the market was the cathedral, more hideous than even the Mormon temple at Salt Lake. "-Froude, chap. xx.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI. 9
-perhaps a score of exceptions, are of the commonest order.
The market-places are large and well situated, but ill-tended and dirty, and in the wet season muddy in the extreme. They are fairly supplied with provisions. I may notice that in those of Port-au-Prince very superior meat is often met with, and good supplies of vegetables, including excellent European kinds, brought from the mountain gardens near Fort Jaques.
The supply of water is very defective. During the reign of the Emperor Soulouque a bright idea occurred to some one, that instead of repairing the old French aqueduct, iron pipes should be laid down. The Emperor had the sagacity to see the advantage of the plan, and gave orders for the work to be done. As an exception to the general rule, the idea was to a certain extent well carried out, and remains the only durable monument of a most inglorious reign. Had the iron pipes been entirely substituted for the old French work, the inhabitants would have enjoyed the benefit of pure water; but when I left, in 1877, the people in the suburbs were still breaking open the old stonework to obtain a source of supply near their dwellings; and pigs, children, and washerwomen congregated round these spots and defiled the stream.
The amount of water introduced into the town is still most inadequate; and though numerous springs, and one delightful stream, La Riviere Froide, are within easy distance of the port, no sufficient effort has been made
10 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI.
to increase the supply. La Rivie're Froide-name redolent of pleasant reminiscences in a tropical climatecould easily fill a canal, which would not only afford an inexhaustible supply for the wants of the town and shipping, but, by creating an outward current, would carry off the floating matter which pollutes the port. Since my departure an Englishman commenced some works to afford the town a constant supply of water, but these, I understand, have as yet only been partially carried out. I am informed, however, that the spring at Marquessant has also been utilised, and now aids the inadequate amount which flows from Tourjeau.
The cemetery is situated outside the town. I never entered it except when compelled to attend a funeral, and hastened to leave it as soon as possible, on account of an unpleasant odour which pervaded it. It is not kept in good order, though many families carefully attend to the graves of their relatives, and there are several striking tombs. People of all religions are buried here; but it is on record that a brawling Irish priest once attempted to disinter a Protestant child. His brawling subsequently led to his banishment.
I noticed on my first arrival in Port-au-Prince two marble coffins, very handsome, lying neglected on the ground outside the palace. I was told they had been brought from abroad in order that the remains of Pe'tion and Boyer, two of their best Presidents, should repose in them; but for mnany years I saw them lying empty on the same spot, and I never heard what became of them.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI. 11
The curse of Port-au-Prince is fire. Every few years immense conflagrrations consume 'whole quarters of the town. Nothing can stop the flames but one of the few brick-houses, against which the quick-burning fire is powerless. During my residence in Port-au-Prince five awful fires devastated the town, and on each occasion. from two to five hundred houses were destroyed. And yet the inhabitants gro on building wretched wooden match-boxes, and even elaborate houses of the most iniflammable materials. Companies should be careful how they insure property in Port-au-Prince, as there are some very well-authenticated cases of frauds practised on them both by Europeans and natives.
Port-au-Prince, on my first arrival in 1863, was governed by a municipality, over which presided a very honest man, a Monsieur IRivie're, one of those Protestants to whom I have referred in my chapter on religcion. As a new arrival, I thought the town sufficiently neglected, but I had reason to change my opinion. It was a pattern of cleanliness to what it subsequently became. The municipality, when one exists, has for its principal duties the performance or neglect of the registration of all acts relating to the eltat civil," and to divide among its members and friends, for work never efficiently carried out, whatever funds they can collect from. the city.
At the back of the capital, at a distance of about five miles, is the village of La Coupe, the summer residence of the wealthier families. As it was situated
12 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI.
about 1200 feet above the level of the sea and was open to every breeze, it afforded a delightful change from the hot, damp town; but during the civil war of 1868 the best houses were destroyed and never reconstructed. There is a natural bath there, the most picturesque feature of the place; it is situated under lofty trees, that cast a deep shade over the spot, and during the hottest day it is charmingly cool.
Cap Haitien is the most picturesque town in the republic; it is beautifully situated on a most commodious harbour. As you enter it, passing Fort Picolet, you are struck by its safe position-a narrow entrance so easily defended. My first visit was in H.M.S. Galatea, Captain Macguire; and as we expected that we might very possibly be received by the fire of all the batteries, our own crew were at their guns, keeping them steadily trained on Fort Picolet, whose artillery was distant about a couple of hundred yards. Having slowly steamed past forts and sunken batteries, we found ourselves in front of the town, with its ruins overgrown with creepers, and in the background the rich vegetation sweeping gracefully up to the summit of the beautiful hill which over-shadows Cap Haitien.
Cap Haitien never recovered from the effects of the fearful earthquake of 1842, when several thousands of its inhabitants perished. To this day they talk of that awful event, and never forget to relate how the countrypeople rushed in to plunder the place, and how none lent a helping-hand to aid their half-buried country-
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI. 13
men. Captain Macguire and myself used to wander about the ruins, and we could not but feel how little energy remained in a people who could leave their property in such a state. It was perhaps cheaper to build a trumpery house elsewhere.
One of those who suffered the most during that visitation wrote, before the earth had ceased trembling, "Against the acts of God Almighty no one complains," and then proceeded to relate how the dread earthquake shook down or seriously injured almost every house; how two-thirds of the inhabitants were buried beneath the fallen masonry; how the bands of blacks rushed in from mountain and plain, not to aid in saving their wretched countrymen, whose cries and groans could be heard for two or three days, but to rob the stores replete with goods; and what lie did complain of-how the officers and men of the garrison, instead of attempting to keep order, joined in plundering the small remnants of what the surviving inhabitants could save from the tottering ruins. What a people!
The most striking objects near Cap Haltien are the remains of the palace of Sans Souci, and of the citadel constructed by King Christophe, called La Ferriere. It requires a visit to induce one to believe that so elaborate, and, I may add, so handsome a structure, could exist in such a place as Hayti, or that a fortification like the citadel could ever have been constructed on the summit of a lofty mountain, five
14 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI.
thousand feet, I believe, above the level of the sea. Some of the walls are eighty feet in height and sixteen feet in thickness, where the heavy batteries of English runs still remain in position. All is of the most solid masonry, and covering, the whole peak of the mountain.
We were really lost in amazement as we threaded gallery after gallery where heavy fifty-six and thirtytwo pounders guarded every approach to what was intended to be the last asylum of Haytian independence. Years of the labour of toiling thousands were spent to prepare this citadel, which the trembling earth laid in ruins in a few minutes. What energy did this black king possess to rear so great a monument!1 But the reverse of the medal states that every stone in that wonderful building cost a human life.
It is a popular idea in Hayti that the superiority of the northern department, and the greater industry of its inhabitants, date from the time of Kingl Christophie, and some express a belief that his iron system was suitable to the country; but the fact is that Moreau de St. M~ry, writing in the last century, insists on the superior advantages of the northern province, its greater fertility, the abundance of rain, and consequently the number of rivers, as well as the superior intelligence and industry of the inhabitants, and their greater sociability and polish. They are certainly more sociable than in the capital, and people still seek northern men to work
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI. 15
on their estates. As for Christophe's system, no amount of increase of produce could compensate for its brutality.
Gonaives is a poor-looking town, constantly devastated by revolutions and fires, with a few broad, unfinished streets, and some good houses among the crowds of mean buildings. This neighbourhood is
famous for what are called white truffles, which are dried and sent to the different parts of the republic.
St. Marc, though not so scattered as Gonaives, is a small place. It was formerly built of stone, and a few specimens of this kind of building still remain. Jacmel has a very unsafe harbour, but possesses importance as one of the ports at which the royal mail-steamers call, and has a large export trade in coffee. Les Cayes, Jeremie, and other smaller ports I have only seen at a distance, but I hear they are much like the other cities and towns of the republic. Mackenzie says that the city and environs of Les Cayes are described as "tr's riantes," and that in his time it was kept in better order than the capital. This is said still to be the case.
My last long ride in Hayti was from Cap Haltien to Gonaives, and nestling in the hills I found some very pretty villages, planted in lovely sites, with cool, babbling streams, and fruit groves hiding the inferiorlooking houses. The place I most admired was, I think, called Plaisauce. There was a freshness, a brightness, a repose about the village that made me regret it was situated so far from the capital.
16 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI.
Wherever you may ride in the mountains, you cannot fail to remark that there is scarcely a decent-looking house out of the towns. The whole of the country is abandoned to the small cultivators, whose inferior cottages are met with at every turn, and, as might be expected from such a population, very dirty and devoid of every comfort, rarely any furniture beyond an old chair, a rickety table, a few sleeping-mats, and some cooking utensils. There is no rule, however, without an exception, and I remember being much strucli by seeing at Kenskoff, a small hamlet about ten or twelve miles direct from Port-au-Prince, a good house, where there were some chairs, tables, and bedsteads, and around this dwelling several huts, in which the wives of our host lived separately.
Now and then a peasant will build a larger house than usual. We met with one, the last we slept in on our ride to the mountain La Selle, whose proprietor had really some ideas of comfort, and before whose dwelling coffee-bushes were growing, trimmed to the height of six feet, placed separate from one another, perfectly clean, and covered with indications of an abundant crop. They had been planted there in former days by an intelligent proprietor, and the peasant had the merit of not neglecting them.
The plain of Cul-de-Sac, adjoining the north side of Port-au-Prince, was one of the richest and most cultivated during the time of the French; and as all regular cultivation depends on the amount of water
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HIAYTI. 17
available, their engineers had constructed the most careful system for the storage and distribution of the supplies. Properly managed, all the large estates could receive the quantity necessary for their lands; but for many years the stone-work was neglected, and the grand barrage was becoming useless, when President Geffrard placed the affair in the hands of an able French engineer, who efficiently restored the main work, but had not funds to complete the canals for distributing the waters. As usual in all enterprises in that country, the money voted had to pass through so many hands, that before it reached the engineer it had diminished to less than half.
The soil of the plain is most fertile, and only appears to require water to give the most promising crops of sugar-cane. There are some very extensive estates, that could afford work for a large population, but the ever-increasing, disturbances in the country render capital shy of venturing there.
As might readily be supposed, the roads are greatly neglected, and during the rainy season are almost impassable. They are composed simply of the surrounding soil, with a few branches thrown into the most dangerous holes. The bridges are generally avoided; it is a saying in Hayti, that you should go round a bridge, but never cross it, and the advice is ,generally followed. For the main streams there are fords. An attempt was once made to bridge over La
18 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI.
Grande Rivi~re du Cul-de-Sac, but the first freshet washed away all the preliminary work.
In the mountains there are only bridle-paths, though occasionally I came across the remains of old French roads and good paths. On the way to Kenskoff there is a place called L'Escalier, to escalade the steepest side of the mountain. The horses that are used to it manage well, but those from the plains find the steps awkward. On the road from Gonaives to the northern province there is a very remarkable paved way, the work so well done that it has resisted the rain during a hundred years of neglect. Some of the bridle-paths in the north are exceedingly good, and are admirably carried up the sides of hills, so as to avoid the most difficult spots.
In the range above Tourjeau I came across a very pretty grassy bridle-path, and near it I found the remains of a large French country-house, evidently the residence of some great proprietor. The tradition in the neighbourhood is that there was an in digo- factory adjoining, but I could scarcely imagine the site suitable. Wherever you may go in Hayti, you come across signs of decadence, not only from the exceptional prosperity of the French period, but even ot comparatively recent years. After the plundering and destruction of 1868 and 1869, few care to keep up or restore their devastated houses, and it is now a hand-to-mouth system
Cul-de-Sac is a glorious plain, and in good hands would be a fountain of riches; and the same may be
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI. 19
said of the other splendid plains that abound throughout the island. Every tropical plant grows freely, so that there would be no limit to production should the country ever abandon revolutions to turn its attention to industry. About three-fourths of the surface of the plains are occupied by scrub, a prickly acacia, that invades every uncultivated spot.
The mountains that bound these plains and extend to the far interior present magnificent sites for pleasant residences ; but no civilised being could occupy them on account of the difficulty of communication, and the doubtful character of the population. Up to the time of the fall of President Geifrard it was possible; now it would be highly imprudent. In one of the most smiling valleys that I have ever seen, lying, to the left whilst riding to the east of Kenskoff, a friend of mine possessed a very extensive property. The place looked so beautiful that I proposed to him a lengthened visit, to which he acceded. Delay after delay occurred, and then the civil war of 1865 prevented our leaving Port-au-Prince. In 1869 there were arrested in that valley a dozen of the worst cannibals of the Vaudoux sect, and the police declared that the whole population of that lovely garden of the country was given up to fetish-worship. It was probably a knowledge of this that made my friend so long defer our proposed visit, as the residence of a white man among them might have been looked upon with an evil eye.
20 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI.
I have travelled in almost every quarter of the globe, and I may say that, taken as a whole, there is not a finer island than that of Santo Domingo. No country possesses greater capabilities or a better geographical position, or more variety of soil, of climate, and of production, with magnificent scenery of every description, and hill-sides where the pleasantest of health-resorts might be established. And yet it is now the country to be most avoided, ruined as it has been by a succession of self-seeking politicians, without honesty or patriotism, content to let the people sink to the condition of an African tribe, that their own selfish passions may be gratified.
The climate of Hayti is of the ordinary tropical character, and the temperature naturally varies according to the position of the towns. Cap Haitien, being exposed to the cooling influence of the breezes from the north, is much more agreeable as a residence than Port-au-Prince, which is situated at the bottom of a deep bay.
In summer, that is, during the months of June, July, August, and September, the heat is very oppressive. The registered degrees give one an idea of the disagreeableness of the climate. In my house at Tourjeau, near Port-au-Prince, 6oo feet above the level of the sea, I have noted a thermometer marking 970 in the drawingroom at 2 P.M. in July, and 95' in the dining-room on the ground-floor; and in a room off a court in the town
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI. 21
I have heard of 103-no doubt from refraction.' At
the Petit Seminaire the priests keep a register, and I notice that rarely is the heat marked as 950; generally 93.20 is the maximum; but the thermometer must be kept in the coolest part of the college, and is no criterion of what is felt in ordinary rooms. The nights also are oppressively warm, and for days I have noticed the registering thermometer seldom marking less than
8o' during the night. In August the heat is even greater than in July, rising to 970 at the Petit S'minaire, whilst in September the maximum is registered as 91.50; and this heat continues well on into November, the maximum being the same. I have
not the complete returns, but generally the heats of September are nearly equal to those of August. In what may be called winter, the thermometer rarely marks over 840, and the nights are cool and pleasant. In fact, I have been assured of the thermometer having fallen as low as 58' during the night, but I never saw it myself below 600. It is a curious fact that foreigners generally suffer from the heat, and get ill in consequence, whilst the natives complain of the bitter cold of the winter, and have their season of illness then.
Port-au-Prince is essentially unhealthy, and yellowfever too often decimates the crews of the ships of war that visit its harbour. In 1869, on account of the 1 Mackenzie states that he noticed the thermometer marking 990 every day for considerable periods.
22 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI.
civil convulsions, French and English vessels remained months in harbour. The former suffered dreadfully; the Limier, out of a crew of io6 men and eight officers, lost fifty-four men and four officers, whilst the D'Estr~s and another had to mourn their captains and many of their crew. Who that ever knew him can forget and not cherish the memory of Captain De Varannes of the D'Estrds, one of the most sympathetic of men, a brilliant officer, and a steady upholder of the French and English alliance? De Yarannes was an Imperialist, an aide-de-camp of the Empress, and thoroughly devoted to the family that had made his fortune. When the medical men announced to him that he had not above two hours to live, he asked the French agent if he had any portraits of the Imperial family; they were brought and placed at the foot of the bed where he could see them. He asked then to be left alone, and an hour after, when a friend crept in, he found poor De Varannes dead, with his eyes open, and apparently fixed on the portraits before him. I should add that both these vessels brought the fever to Port-au-Prince from Havana and Martinique.
The English ships suffered less, as our officers are not bound by the rigid rules that regulate the French commanders, who would not leave the harbour without express orders from their Admiral, though their men were dying by dozens. Captain Hunter of the 'Vestal and Captain Salmon of the Defence knew their duty
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI. 23
to their crews too well to keep them in the pestilential harbour, and as soon as yellow-f ever appeared on board, steamed away; and the latter went five hundred miles due north till he fell in with cool weather, and thus only lost three men. A French officer told me that when the sailors on board the Limier saw the Defence, steam out of harbour, they were depressed even See how the English commanders to tears, and said, 0
are mindful of the health of their men, whilst ours let us die like flies." Captain Hunter of the Vestal never had due credit given him for his devotion to his crew whilst suffering from yellow-fever. He made a hospital of his cabin, and knew no rest till he had reached the cool harbours of the north.
Merchant seamen in certain years have also suffered dreadfully from this scourge, both in Port-au-Prince and in the neiahbouring port of Mira-oa^ne. Twothirds of the crews have often died, and every now and then there is a season in which few ships escape without loss.
Yellow-fever rarely appears on shore, as the natives do not take it, and the foreign population is small and mostly acclimatized. The other diseases from which people suffer are ordinary tropical fevers, agues, smallpox, and the other ills to which humanity is subject. But although Port-au-Prince is the filthiest town I have ever seen, it has not yet been visited by cholera. In the spring of 1882 small-pox broke out in so virulent a form that the deaths rose to a hundred a day.
24 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI.
This dreadful visitation continued several months, and it is calculated carried off above 5000 people in the city and its neighbourhood.
If Hayti ever becomes civilised, and if ever roads are made, there are near Port-au-Prince summer healthresorts which are perfectly European in their climate. Even La Coupe, or, as it is officially called, PWtionville, about five miles from the capital, at an altitude Of 1200 feet, is from ten to twelve degrees cooler during the day, and the nights are delicious; afid if you advance to Kenskoff or Furcy, you have the thermometer marking during the greatest heats 750 to 770, whilst the mornings and evenings are delightfully fresh, with the thermometer at from 57 to 68', and the nights cold. On several occasions I passed some months at P~tionville, and found the climate most refreshing after the burning heats of the sea-coast.
The regular rainy season commences about Port-auPrince during the month of April, and continues to the month of September, with rain again in November under the name of "1les pluies de la Toussaint." After several months of dry weather one breathes again as the easterly wind brings the welcome rain, which comes with a rush and a force that bend the tallest palm-trees till their branches almost sweep the ground. Sometimes, whilst dried up in the town, we could see for weeks the rain-clouds gathering on the Mforne de l'HO~pital within a few miles, and yet not a drop would come to refresh our parched-up gardens.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI. 25
During the great heats the rain is not only welcome as cooling the atmosphere, but as it comes in torrents, it rushes down the streets and sweeps clean all those that lead to the harbour, and carries before it the accumulated filth of the dry season. In very heavy rains the cross streets are flooded; and one year the water came down so heavily and suddenly that the brooks became rushing rivers. The floods surprised a priest whilst bathing, swept him down to the Champs de Mars, and threw' his mangled body by the side of a house I was at that moment visitin.
That evening, as I was already wet, I rode home during the tempest, and never did I see more vivid lightning, hear louder thunder, or feel heavier rain. As we breasted the hill, the water rushing down the path appeared almost knee-deep; and to add to the terror of my animal, a white horse, maddened by fear, came dashing, down the hill with flowingr mane and tail, and swept past us. Seen only during a flash of lightning, it was a most picturesque sight, and I had much difficulty in preventing my frightened horse joining in his wild career.
The rainy season varies in different parts of the island, particularly in the north. I am surprised to observe that the. priests have found the annual fall of rain to be only 117~ inches. I had thought it more. Perhaps, however, that was during an exceptionally dry year.
The great plain of Cul-de-Sac is considered healthy,
26 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI.
although occasionally intensely warm. It is, however, freely exposed not only to the refreshing sea-breezes, but to the cooling- land-winds that come down from the mountains that surround it. There is but little marsh, except near La Rivie'e Blanche, which runs near the mountains to the north and is lost in the sands.
On the sugar-cane plantations, where much. irrigation takes place, the negro workmen suffer somewhat from fever and ague, but probably more from the copious libations of new rum, which they assert are rendered necessary by the thirsty nature of the climate.
I had often read of a clap of thunder in a clear sky, but never heard anything like the one that shook our house near Port-au-Prince. We were sitting, a large party, in our broad verandah, about eight in the evening, with a beautiful starlight night,-the stars, in fact, shining so brightly that you could read by their light,-when a clap of thunder, which appeared to burst just over our roof, took our breath away. It was awful in its suddenness and in its strength. No one spoke for a minute or two, when by a common impulse we left the house and looked up into a perfectly clear sky. At a distance, however, on the summits of the mountains, was a gathering of black clouds, which warned my friends to mount their horses, and they could scarcely have reached the town when one of the heaviest storms I have known commenced, with thunder worthy of the clap that had startled us. Though all of
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HAYTI. 27
us were seasoned to the tropics, we had never been so impressed before.
In the wet season the rain, as a rule, comes on at regular hours, and lasts a given time. Though occasionally it will continue through a night and longer, rarely does it last above twenty-four hours without a gleam of sunshine intervening.
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
I DO not doubt but the discovery of America by Columbus was good in its results to mankind; but when we read the history of early Spanish colonisation, the predominant feeling is disgust at the barbarities and fanaticism recorded in almost every page. We generally pass lightly over this view of the subject, being dazzled by pictures of heroic deeds, as set forth in the works of Prescott and Piobertson.--heroic deeds of steel-clad warriors massacringr crowds of gentle, almost unresisting natives, until despair, lending energy to their timid natures, forced them occasionally to turn on their savage persecutors.
In no country were the Spaniards more notorious for their cruelty than in the first land in America on which Columbus established a settlement. The population was then differently estimated, the numbers given varying, between 8oo,ooo and 2,000,000, the former calculation being the more probable. They were indeed a primitive people, the men moving about entirely naked, and the women wearing but a short petticoat. They are said to have been good-looking, which, if true, would
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 29
mark them as a people distinct from any other in the New World, as the Indians, who still remain by millions in North and South America, are as a race the most ill-favoured natives I have seen in any portion of the glo1be. That was my impression when I travelled in their country, though I have seen among the young women who followed the Indian regriments to Lima a few who might almost be considered handsome, but these by their appearance were probably of mixed breed.
Columbus only stayed two months in Santo Domingo, but left behind him forty of his companions in an entrenched position, who immediately after his departure began to commit excesses; and hearing that cacique in the interior had a large store of gold, penetrated to his town and robbed him of his riches. This roused the population against them ; they were pursued and killed in detail.
In the meantime Columbus had revisited Spain, been received with honour, and seventeen vessels, laden with every kind of store and domestic animal, as well as a large force, were placed at his disposal. On his arrival his first thoughts were for gold, and he marched in search of the mines, which being pointed out to him, were soon in full work, the Indians by force being compelled to this task. The conduct of these white men appears to have been so wantonly cruel, that the population rose en masse, and a hundred thousand of the aborigTines are said to have marched to attack the Spaniards, two hundred and twenty of whom put this
30 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
crowd to flight without the loss of a single man. These are the heroic deeds we are called upon to admire. It has often been declared impossible that such, on one side, bloodless encounters could take place; but I am well-assured that two hundred well-armed Englishmen could in the present day march through any number of the Land Dyaks of Borneo, and defeat them without loss.
It is not necessary to trace in detail the history of the island; but I may notice that in 1507 the population was estimated at 6o,000, which shows that the original reckoningr must have been greatly exaggerated, as not even these early apostles of the religion of charity could have thus wiped out the people by millions. The story of what are called the early exploits of the Spaniards in Santo Domingo has been so often related that it is useless to tell it over agTain, especially as it would present but a sequence of sickening events, of murders, executions, robbery, and lust, with but few traits of generosity and virtue to record.
These foreign settlers soon saw that the island would be useless to them without population, so they early began to introduce negroes from Africa, as well as families from the neigrhbouringr isles. The local Indians were not, however, spared, and the Spanish historians themselves are the chroniclers of this record of infamy. Now not a descendant of an Indian remains.
Santo Domingo, deprived of population, with its comparatively unimportant mineral wealth, for want of
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 31
hands, no longer available, ancl agriculture neglected, rapidly degenerated, ancl little was left but the city of Santo Domingo and in the interior a population of herdsmen. Then the famous buccaneers appeared to inflict on the Spaniards some of the misery they had worked on the Indians. Notwithstanding every effort to prevent them, the French adventurers gradually spread through the western end of the island, and becran to form towns and settlements.
In 164o Levasseur was sent from France as governor of these irregularly acquired possessions, and from that time the French may be said to have established themselves firmly in the western part of Santo Domingowhich hereafter I may call by its present name, Hayti, to simplify the narrative-but their rule was not recognised by Spain until the year 1697.
From this date to the breaking out of the French Revolution the colony increased in prosperity, until it became., for its extent, probably the richest in the world. Negroes were imported by thousands from the coast of Africa, and were subjected to as harsh a slavery as ever dis(yraced the worst system of servitude.
Two events occurred during this period of prosperity which were worthy of being noted: first, the fearful earthquake which destroyed Port-au-Prince in 1770, when for fifteen days the earth trembled under repeated shocks, and left the city a heap of ruins.' The second 3L It is EL well-known fact that the noise of the approach of an earthquake is generally heard ; but in Port-au-Prince there is a curious
32 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
was the war in which France enagced to aid our North American colonists to acquire their independence. To increase their forces the French commanders permitted the free blacks and miulattoes to enlist, and they did good service; but when they returned to their country, they spread widely a spirit of disaffection, which no ordinances could destroy.
When England in 1785 was forced to acknowledge the independence of the United States, how despotic France and Spain rejoiced over the downfall of the only country where liberty was known! The results were, for France, the Revolution, which, with all its crimes, did unspeakable good, and deprived her of the finest colony that any country ever possessed. To
Spain it brought the loss of world-wide possessions, and a fall in power and prestige which until lately she has shown but few signs of recovering.
On the eve of the great Revolution, France possessed, as I have said, the finest colony in the world. Her historians are never weary of enumerating the amount of its products, the great trade, the warehouses full of sugar, cotton, coffee,, indigo, and cocoa; its plains covered with splendid estates, it hillsides dotted with noble houses; a white population, rich, refined, enjoyphenomenon which I have never known explained. A subterranean noise is frequently heard approaching from the plains, and appears to pass under the town without any movement of the earth being per. ceptible. The Haytians call it "1le gouffre, or le bruit du gouffre, and many fancy the whole of that portion of the island to be under. mined, and predict a fearful fate for the capital.
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 33
ing life as only a luxurious colonial society can enjoy it; the only dark spot, then scarcely noticed, the ignorant, discontented mass of black slavery, and the more enlightened disaffection of the free mulattoes and negroes.
It has often been a subject of inquiry how it was that the Spaniards, who were the cruellest of the cruel towards the Indians, should have established negro slavery in a form which robbed it of half its terrors, whilst the French, usually less severe than their
southern neighbours, should have founded a system of servitude unsurpassed for severity, cruelty, nay, ferocity. To this day the barbarous conduct of the Marquis of Caradeux is cited as a justification for the savage retaliation of the insurgent negroes. I think that the explanation of the different conduct of the Spanish and French slave-owner may be, that the former is indolent and satisfied with less, whilst the latter, in his fierce struggle to be rich, cared not how he became so, and worked his negroes beyond human endurance, and then, to keep down the inevitable effects of discontent, sought to terrorise his slaves by barbarous punishments.
The true history of Hayti commences with the French Revolution, when, amid the flood of impracticable and practicable schemes, a few statesmen turned their generous thoughts towards the down-trodden African, and firing assembled France with their enthusiasm, passed laws and issued decrees granting freedom
034 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
to the black ; but before these bad any practical effect, Hayti had to pass through scenes which have left blood-stains that nothing can wash away.
When reading the different accounts which have been written of the state of Hayti when France was upsetting the accumulated wrongs of ages, I have often desired to disbelieve them, and place to exaggerated feelings of sympathy the descriptions of the prejudices of the planters and the atrocities committed under their influence. But I have lived long in the West Indies, and know that there are still many whites born in our colonies, even among the clergy, who not only look upon the negro as of an inferior species-which he may be-but as fit only for servitude, and quite unwvorthy of freedom, and on an alliance with a coloured person as a disgrace which affects a whole family. They speak of a mulatto as they would of one affected with leprosy. If in these days such sentiments exist, we can readily believe that they existed even, in a greater degree before, awakened to a feeling of justice, civilised nations formally abolished slavery, and let the black and the coloured man have an equal chance in. the struggle of life.
For some years before the meeting of the StatesGeneral in France, philanthropists who had inquired into the condition of the slave had had their compassion aroused, and, to give direction to their efforts to ameliorate it, had founded in Paris a society called "1The Friends of the Blacks."
HISTORY BEFORE. INDEPENDENCE. 35
The summoning of the States-General in France created much enthusiasm throughout Hayti ; the planters now thought that justice would be done, and that a share would. be accorded them in the government of the colony; the lower class of whites had a vague idea that their position must be improved, and hailed the movement as the promise of better times-though in truth these two classes had little of which to complain; the former were rolling in wealth, and the latter were never in want of highly-paid employment. Another class felt even greater interest-that of the free black and coloured men; they thought that no change could occur which would not better their condition,, which was one of simple toleration ; they might work and get rich, have their children educated in France, but they had no political rights, and the meanest white considered himself, and was treated, as their superior. The slaves, although discontented, were only formidable from their numbers.
Exaggerated expectations were naturally followed by disappointment. The planters, finding that the French Government had no intention of employing them to administer the colony, began to think of independence; whilst the lower whites, passionately attached to the dream of equality, thought that that should cornnmence by an apportionment among them of the estates of the rich. A third party consisted of the Government employes, whose chiefs were Iroyalists under the leadership of Penier, the Governor-General,
36 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
and Mauduit, colonel of the regiment of Port-auPrince.
The Colonial party, or rather that of the planters, in order to increase their power, which had hitherto been disseminated in local assemblies, determined to have the law carried out which authorised a General Assembly. This was elected, and held its first meetings in St. Marc in March 179o. The leaders soon commenced to quarrel with the Government authorities, and dissensions rose to such a height that both parties began to arm; and on the Assembly decreeing the substitution of another Governor for Penier, he was roused to resistance, and in a brief struggle he forced the General Assembly to dissolve, a portion of the members seeking refuge on board of a ship of war, whose crew they had induced to mutiny and sail with them to France.
The white population thus set the example of internal strife, and in their struggle for mastery called in the aid of the freedmen, and then after victory insulted them. These, however, began gradually to understand the advantages they possessed in being able to support the climate, and the persecutions and cruelties of the French made them feel that those who would be free themselves must strike the blow.
Among the educated and intelligent mulattoes who had gone to France to urge on the National Assembly the rights of their colour was 0g(". lie naturally thought that the time had arrived for justice to be
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 37
done when the President of the Constituant" had declared that "aucune partie de la nation ne reclamera vainement ses droits aupres de l'assemblee des representants du peuple fran ais." He visited the Club Massiac, where the planters held supreme sway, and endeavoured to enlist their sympathy, but he was coldly received. He then determined to return to Hayti to support the rights of his caste, which, though ambiguously, had been recognised by the Legislature; but unexpected obstacles were thrown in his way by the Colonial party, and an order to arrest him was issued should he venture to embark for his native land. By passing through England and the United States he eluded these precautions, and landed privately at Cap Haitien. When the news of his arrival on his property at Dondon reached the authorities, they endeavoured to capture him; then he, with some hundreds of his colour, rose in arms; but after a few skirmishes they dispersed, and Oge' was forced to seek refuge in the Spanish settlement of Santo Domingo. There he was arrested, and, on the demand of the Governor of the French colony, handed over to his enemies. He was tried as a rebel and broken on the wheel, together with three companions; others were hung, the rest sent to the galleys.
Og6's armed resistance had encouraged the men of colour in the south to demand their rights; but they were easily dispersed, and their chief, Rigaud, taken prisoner. These isolated and irresolute outbreaks
38 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
rendered the division between the coloured and the white population more marked than ever; the latter despised the former for their wretched resistance, while the coloured men were indignant at the cruel and unsparing executions which marked the close of O-c's career.
Monsieur Blanchelande was then Governor, a weak man at the head of the royalist party, who had not the courage to follow the energetic counsels of Colonel Mauduit. By his vacillation all discipline was lost both in the army and in the fleet, and the revolutionary party rose in arms in Port-au-Prince, murdered Colonel Mauduit, and drove the pusillanimous Governor to seek refuge in the plain of Cul-de-Sac. Thus the whites were everywhere divided, but were still strong enough to disperse any assembly of the freedmen.
The news of the troubles in Hayti produced a great effect in Paris, and the Constituent Assembly determined to send three commissioners to restore tranquillity; but they prefaced this measure by decreeing (May 15, 1791) that every man of colour born of free parents should enjoy equal political rights with the whites. On the planters declaring that this would bring about civil war and the loss of the colony, the famous phrase was uttered, "Perish the colonies rather than a principle," which phrase has not been forgotten by those amongst us who would sacrifice India to the perverse idea of abandoning our high political status in the world.
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 39
When the substance of this decree reached Hayti, it roused to fury the passions of the whites; all sections united in declaring that they would oppose its execution even by force of arms, and a strong party was formed either to declare the independence of the colony, or, if that were not possible, to invite England to take possession. Tile coloured men, on the other hand, determined to assert their rights, and held secret meetings to bring about an accord among all the members of their party; and when they heard that Governor Blanchelande had declared he would not execute the decree, they summoned their followers to meet at Mirebalais in the western department.
The whites in the meantime determined that the second Colonial Assembly should be elected before the official text of the dreaded decree of the 15th May should arrive; and so rapidly did they act, that on the Ist August 1791 the Assembly met at Leogane, and was opened under the presidency of the Marquis de Cadusch, a Royalist. They called Governor Blanchelande to the bar of the House, and made him swear that he would not carry into effect the law giving equal rights to the freedmen. As Cap Haiien had become in reality the capital of the colony, both the Governor and the Assembly soon removed there.
The Royalist party, headed by the Governor, found their influence gradually declining, and, to strengthen their hands against both the Culonial Assembly with its traitorous projects and the violence of the lower
40 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
part of the white population, are accused of having first thought of enlisting the blacks to further their schemes and to strengthen their party. It is said that they proposed to Toussaint, a slave on the Breda estates, to raise the negroes in revolt in the name of the King. This account I believe to be a pure invention of the coloured historians, and the conduct of the blacks clearly proved that they were not moved by French officers. Whoever was the instigator, it is certain that the negroes in the northern province rose in insurrection, put to death every white that fell into their hands, began to burn the factories, and then rushed en masse to pillage the town of Cap Haltien. Here, however, their numbers availed them little against the arms and discipline of the French troops, and theyV were driven back with great slaughter, and many then retired to the mountains. It would naturally be suspected that the coloured people were the instigators of this movement, were it not certain that they were as much opposed to the freedom of the blacks as the most impassioned white planter.
The insurgent slaves called themselves "Les Gens du Roi," declaring that he was their friend and was persecuted for their sake; they hoisted the white flag, and placed an ignorant negro, Jean Francois, at their head. The second in command was a Papaloi or priest of the Vaudoux, named Biassou. He encouraged his followers to carry on the rites of their African religion, and when under its wildest influence, he dashed his bands to the
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 41
attack of their civilised enemies, to meet their death in Hayti, but to rise again free in their beloved Africa. The ferocity of the negro nature had now full swing, and the whites who fell into their hands felt its effects. Prisoners were placed between planks and sawn in two, or were skinned alive and slowly roasted, the girls violated and then murdered. Unhappily some of these blacks had seen their companions thus tortured, though probably in very exceptional cases. Descriptions of these horrors fill pages in every Haytian history, but it is needless to dwell on them. On either side there was but little mercy.
The Governor at length collected 3000 white troops, who, after various skirmishes, dispersed these bands with much slaughter; but as this success was not followed up, Jean Francois and Biassou soon rallied their followers.
In the meantime the coloured men at Mirebalais, under the leadership of Pinchinat, began to arouse their brethren ; and having freed nine hundred slaves, commenced forming the nucleus of an army, that, under the leadership of a very intelligent mulatto named Bauvais, gained some successes over the undisciplined forces in Port-au-Prince, commanded by an Italian adventurer, Praloto. The Royalists, who had been driven from the city by the mob, had assembled at "La Croix des Bouquets" in the plains, and to strengthen their party entered into an alliance with the freedmen. This alarmed the inhabitants of Port-au-Prince, and
42 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
they also recognised the existence of Pinchinat and his party by entering into a regular treaty with them. The Haytians, as I may call the coloured races, began now to understand that their position must depend on their own courage and conduct.
When everything had been settled between the chiefs of the two parties, the Haytians returned to Port-auPrince, and were received with every demonstration of joy; they then agreed to a plan which showed how little they cared for the liberty of others, so that they themselves obtained their rights. Among those who had fought valiantly at their side were the freed slaves previously referred to. For fear these men should excite ideas of liberty among those blacks who were still working on the estates, the coloured officers consented that they should be deported from the country. In the end, they were placed as prisoners on board a pontoon in M61e St. Nicolas, and at night were for the most part butchered by unknown assassins. And Bauvais and Pinchinat, the leaders and the most intelligent of the freedmen, were those that agreed to this deportation of their brethren in arms who had the misfortune to be lately slaves! I doubt if the blacks ever forgot this incident.
The coloured men gained little by this breach of faith, as shortly after news arrived that the French Assembly had reversed the decree of May 15, which gave equal rights to the freedmen ; and then dissensions broke out, and the coloured men were again driven from
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 43
Port-au-Prince with heavy loss. This was the signal for disorders throughout the whole country, and the whites and the freedmen were skirmishing in every district. Praloto and the rabble reigned supreme in Port-auPrince, and soon made the rich merchants and shopkeepers feel the effects of their internal divisions. They set fire to the town, and during the confusion plundered the stores, and exercised their private vengeance on their enemies.
The whole country was in the greatest disorder when three commissioners sent by the French Government arrived in Hayti. The Colonial Assembly was still sitting at Cap Haitien and the insurgent negroes were encamped at no great distance. The three commissioners were Mirbeck, St. Leger, and Roume; they immediately endeavoured to enter into negotiations with the revolted slaves, which hiad little result, on account of the obstinacy of the planters. Finding that their influence was as nought, the former two returned to France, whilst Roume went ultimately to Santo Domingo.
The state of the colony may be imagined when it is remembered that the whites were divided into three distinct sections. The coloured men, jealous of each other, did not combine, but were ready to come to blows on the least pretext ; while the blacks, under Jean Francois, were massacring every white that fell into their hands, and selling to the Spaniard every negro or coloured mau accused of siding with the French. The
44 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
planters wanted independence or subjection to England; the poorer whites anything which would give them the property of others; the coloured were still faithful to IFrance, whilst the blacks cared only to be free from work ; yet among them was Toussaint, who already had fermenting in his brain the project of a free black State.
It would interest few to enter into the details of this history of horrors, where it is difficult to feel sympathy for any party. They were alike steeped in blood, and ready to commit any crime to further their ends. Murder, torture, violation, pillage, bad faith, and treachery meet you oil all sides; and although a few names arise occasionally in whom you feel a momentary interest, they are sure soon to disgust you by their utter incapacity or besotted personal ambition.
The National Assembly in Paris, finding that their first commissioners had accomplished nothing, sent three others, two of whom, Sonthonax and Polverel, are well known in Haytian history. They had fall powers, and even secret instructions, to do all they could to give freedom to the slaves.
These two commissioners were of the very worst hind of revolutionists, talked of little but guillotining the aristocrats, and were in every way unsuited to their task; they dissolved the Colonial Assembly, and substituted for it a commission, consisting of six whites of the stamp suited to them and six freedmen. They decided to crush the respectable classes, whom they
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 45
called Royalists, because they would not join in revolutionary excesses, and the massacre commenced at tle Cape.
Polverel appears to have had some idea of the responsibility of his position, though both cruel and faithless; Sonthonax, however, was but a blatant babbler, with some talent, but overwhelmed by vanity, He
caused more bloodshed than any other man, first setting the lower white against the rich, then the mulatto against the white, and then the black against both. Well might the French orator declare on Sonthonax's return to France that "il puait de sang." The third commissioner, Aillaud, thinking, very justly, that his companions were a couple of scoundrels whom he could not control, embarked secretly and left for home. Whilst these commissioners were employed in destroying the fairest colony in the world, France, in a moment of excited fury, declared war against the rest of Europe, and a new era opened for Hayti.
Many of the more influential and respectable inhabitants of all colours, utterly disgusted by the conduct of the different parties, thought that the war between England and France would give them some chance of rest from the excesses of the insurgent blacks and from the factious freedmen, supported by that fon furieux, Sonthonax, sent to Jamaica to invite the Governor to interfere and take possession of the colony.
England did interfere, but in her usual way, with small expeditions, and thus frittered away her strength;
46 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
but the resistance made was in general so contemptible, that with little effort we succeeded in taking Jer~nie in the southern province, and then St. Marc, and subsequently Port-au-Prince. Had we sent a large army, it is equally possible that we should not have succeeded, as the intention was to reimpose slavery. As the
garrison of Jamaica could only furnish detachments, the British authorities began to enlist all who wished to serve, irrespective of colour, and being supported by those who were weary of anarchy and revolutionary fury, were soon able to present a very respectable force in the field. The Spaniards, aided by the bands of revolted negroes, overran most of the northern province; in this they were greatly aided by Toussaint L'Ouverture, who now began to come to the front. Sonthonax, whose idea of energy was simply to massacre and destroy, ordered that every place his partisans were forced to evacuate should be burned. At the same time he thought that a little terror might be of service, so he erected a guillotine in Port-au-Prince; and having at hand a Frenchman accused of being a Royalist, he thought he would try the experiment on him. An immense crowd of Haytians assembled to witness the execution; but when they saw the bright blade descend and the head roll at their feet, they were horror-stricken, and rushing on the guillotine, tore it to pieces, and no other has ever again been erected in Hayti.
Curious people they who never hesitated to destroy the whites, guilty or innocent, or massacre, simply
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 47
because they were white, women and children, down to the very babe at the breast, who invented every species of torture to render death more hideous, were horrified because a man's head was chopped off instead of his being destroyed in a fashion to which they were accustomed, and this at a time when white, coloured, and black were vying with each other in acts of bloodthirsty cruelty?
The whole country was in terrible confusion; the French had not one man who had the talent or influence to dominate their divided factions; the coloured were represented by such respectabilities as Pinchinat, Blauvais, and IRigaud, but without one of incontestable superiority; the blacks were as yet led by such men as Jean Franqois and Biassou, who must even make respectable negroes blush to acknowledge that they were of the same race; yet, as I have said, there was one man coming to the front who was to dominate all.
Amid the many heroes whose actions the Haytians love to commemorate, Toussaint L'Ouverture does not hold a high rank ; and yet the conduct of this black was so remarkable as almost to confound those who declare the negro an inferior creature incapable of rising to genius. History, wearied with dwelling on the petty passions of the other founders of Haytian independence, may well turn to the one grand figure of this cruel war. Toussaint was born on the B~reda estate in the northern department, and was a slave from birth ; it has been doubted whether hie was of
48 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
pure negro race. His grandfather was an African prince, but if we may judge from the portraits, he was not of the pure negro type. Whether pure negro or not, there is no doubt of the intelligence and energy of the man. Though but a puny child, by constant exercise and a vigorous will he became as wiry and active as any of his companions, and, moreover, gave up much of his leisure time to study. He learned to read French, and, it is said, in order to understand the Prayer-Book, a little Latin; but he never quite mastered the art of writing. He was evidently trusted and kindly treated by his master's agent, who gave him charge of the sugar-mills. There is an accusation constantly brought against Toussaint, that of being a religious hypocrite, but his early life shows that it is unfounded. Whilst still a slave, his principles would not allow him to follow the custom of his companions and live in concubinage; he determined to marry, though the woman he chose had already an illegitimate son named Placide, whom he adopted. It is pleasing to read of the happy domestic life of Toussaint, and it is another proof of that affectionate disposition which made those who served him devoted to him.
When the insurrection broke out in the northern province, Toussaint remained faithful to his master, and prevented any destruction on the estate; but finding ultimately that he could not stem the tide, he sent his master's family for safety into Cap Haitien, and joined the insurgents. He was at first appointed surgeon to
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 49
the army, as among his other accomplishments was a knowledge of simples, which had given him great influence on the estate, and was now to do so in the insurgent forces. He liked this employment, as it kept him free from the savage excesses of his companions, who were acting with more than ordinary barbarity.
The three leaders of the insurgents were then Jean Franqois, a negro, about whom opinions differ. St. Remy says he was intellectual, though the general idea is the more probable one, that he was an energetic savage. Biassou was sensual and violent, as cruel as man could be, and an avowed leader of the Yaudoux sect, and apparently a Papaloi; but the vilest of the three was Jeannot. He loved to torture his white prisoners, and drank their blood mixed with rum; but he was as cowardly as he was cruel, and the scene at his execution, when he clung to the priest in frantic terror, must have afforded satisfaction to the friends of those whom lie had pitilessly murdered. Jeannot was also a great proficient in Vaudoux practices, and thus gained much influence with the ignorant slaves; it was this influence, not his cruelties, which roused the anger of Jean Franois, who seized and summarily shot him.
It is curious to read of the projects of these negro leaders. They had no idea of demanding liberty for the slaves; they only wanted liberty for themselves. In some abortive negotiations with the French, Jean Francois demanded that 300 of the leaders should be
50 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
declared free, whilst Toussaint would only have bargained for fifty. The mulattoes, however, were most anxious to preserve their own slaves, and, as I have related, gave up to death those blacks who had aided them in supporting their position ; and a French writer records that up to Le Clerc's expedition, the mulattoes had fought against the blacks with all the zeal that the interests of property could inspire.
The blind infatuation of the planters prevented their accepting Jean Franqois' proposition; they even rejected it with insult, and savagely persecuted the negroes who were living in Cap Haltien. Biassou then ordered all his white prisoners to be put to death; but Toussaint, by his eloquent remonstrances, saved them. Other negotiations having failed, Biassou attacked the French lines, and carried them as far as the ramparts of the town. The planters had brave words, but not brave deeds, with which to meet their revolted bondsmen. All the black prisoners taken by the insurgents were sent over the frontiers and sold as slaves to the Spaniards. Toussaint remonstrated against this vile traffic, but never shared in it. The new Governor, Laveaux, at this time nearly stifled the insurrection, dispersing all the insurgent forces; but, as usual, not following up his successes, allowed the negroes again to concentrate. No strength of position as yet enabled the blacks successfully to resist the white troops.
When the negro chiefs heard of the death of Louis XVI., they thought they had lost a friend, and
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 51
openly joined the Spaniards in their war on the French Republic.
At this time Sonthonax and Polverel acted as if they intended to betray their own country, by removing the chief white officers from command and intrusting these important posts to mulattoes. It was not, however, treachery, but jealousy, as such a man as General Galbaud could not be made a docile instrument in their hands. Then finding that power was slipping from them, they proclaimed (1793) the liberty of all those slaves who would fight for the Republic.
In the meantime Toussaint was steadily gaining influence among his troops, and gradually freeing himself from the control of Biassou, whose proceedings had always shocked him; and some successful expeditions, as the taking of Dondon, added to his prestige. Whilst fighting was going on throughout the northern provinces, Sonthonax and Polverel were solemnising pompous fttes to celebrate the anniversary of the taking of the Bastile. It is singular what a passion they had for these childish amusements.
Rigaud, a mulatto, in future days the rival of Toussaint, now appears prominently upon the scene, being appointed by the commissioners as chief of the southern department.
Toussaint continued his successes, and finding that nothing could be done with the estates without the whites, appeared anxious to induce them to return to superintend their cultivation, and he succeeded in
52 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
persuading many hundreds to reside in their devastated homes.
Alarmed by the continued advance of Toussaint, Sonthonax proclaimed in Aug1ust 29, 1793, the liberty of all, which, under the circumstances, may be considered the only wise act of his administration.
The people of the north-west, however, were weary of the tyranny of the commissioners, and being probably privately informed of Toussaint's intentions, surrendered Gonaives to him, and the rest of the neigrhbouringr districts followed. A new enemy, however, now appeared in the shape of the English, who took possession of St. Marc with seventy-five men,-so like our system! In June 1794 Port-au-Prince surrendered to the Engylish after a faint resistance, the commissioners retiring to Jacmel, from whence they embarked for France, to answer for their conduct. At that time Port-au-Prince was in a fair state for defence; but Captain Daniel of the 41St took the famous fort of Bizoton by storm with sixty men, and then the English advanced on the town. The effect of having, replaced the French officers by untrained mulattoes was here apparent: though everything had been prepared to blow up the forts, nothing was done; the garrison fled, leaving to our forces 13 1 cannon, twenty-two laden vessels, with 7000 tons more in ballast, and all their stores and ammunition.
At this time Jean Franqois, became suspicious of Toussaint and arrested him, but he was delivered by
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 53
]3iassou. Toussaint had for some time been meditating a bold stroke. The proclamation by Sonthonax of the freedom of the blacks probably worked on him, and lie determined to abandon the party of the King of Spain, which was that of slavery, and join the French Republic. He did so, proclaiming at the same time the freedom of the slaves. His soldiers sullied the change by massacring two hundred white planters, who, con.fiding, in the word of Toussaint, had returned to their estates.
The new general of the republic now acted with energy against Jean Fran~ois, drove him from the plains, and forced him to take refuge with his followers in the Black Mountains. Success followed success, until Toussaint found himself opposite St. Marc; but his attack on that town was easily repulsed by its garrison in English pay. His activity was incessant, and he kept up constant skirmishes with all his enemies; he appeared ever unwearied, whatever might be the fatigue of his companions.
Toussaint had naturally observed that, however his men might succeed against the undisciplined hordes of Jean Franqois, they could do nothing against a disciplined force. He therefore, in 1795, formed four regiments Of 2000 men each, whom he had daily drilled by French soldiers, his former prisoners; and, I may notice here, with such success, that English officers were subsequently surprised at their proficiency.
Rigaud had, in the meantime, with his usual boasting,
54 HISTORY BEFORE INqDEPENDENCE.
marched on Port-au-Prince, declaring he would expel the English, but was repulsed. Toussaint assembled all his army for another attack on St. Marc, and for three days, f rom the 2 5th to 27th July 1795, tried by repeated assaults to capture the town; but English discipline prevailed, and the small garrison foiled every attempt.
It is noticed by St. Remy that Toussaint, when once hie gave his word, never broke it, which was a new experience among these unprincipled leaders; and it is added, that he never had any prejudice of colour.
An important event for the French in 1795 was the peace made between France and Spain, by which Santo Domingro was ceded to the former.
The year 1796 was ushered in by various English expeditions and skirmishes, and th eir failure to take Leoga'ne. Some of the Haytian accounts are amusing. Pe'tion defended the fort of 9a-ira against the whole English fleet until the fortifications were demolished. Fifteen thousand English bullets were showered into the place, and yet only seven Haytians were killed. It looks as if the garrison had quietly retired and left us to batter away at the earthworks.
One is often surprised, in reading Haytian accounts of the war, at the defeats of the English, which make one wonder what could have become of the proverbial courage and steadiness of our men; but a little closer inquiry shows that in most of these instances there were few or no English present, only black and coloured men in our pay, or planters who had taken our side in
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 55
the war, none of whom were more than half-hearted in our cause.
The French were also weakened by internal dissensions. General Vilatte, a mulatto, incited a revolt in the town of Cap Haitien, arrested the French governor, Laveaux, and threw him into prison. The latter called on Toussaint to aid him, and the black general had the supreme satisfaction of marching into the town and freeing the white governor. With what curious sensations must Toussaint have performed this act of authority in a place that had only known him as a slave! Laveaux received him with enthusiasm, and promoted him from the grade of general of brigade, to which the French Government had named him, to be lieutenant-general of the Government, April I, 1796. This successful movement confirmed the ascendancy of the blacks in the north, and Vilatte had shortly to sail for France, from whence lie returned with the expedition sent to enslave his countrymen.
Sonthonax and a new commission now arrived at Cap Haitien, to find Rigaud almost independent in the south, and Toussaint master in the north. Both Laveaux and Sonthonax are accused of endeavouring to set the blacks against the mulattoes. Laveaux having returned to France as deputy for the colony, Sonthonax remained at the head of affairs, and one of his first acts was to name Toussaint general of division.
Toussaint was in the meantime organising his army and working hard at its drill; he then started to the
56 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
attack of Mirebalais, a post occupied by a French planter in our service, the Count de Bruges, who appears to have retired, with numerous forces, without much resistance, as he probably could scarcely trust his raw levies. Sonthonax was so pleased with this important success that he named Toussaint commanderin-chief of the army in Santo Domingo, which step displeased Rigaud, who was thus placed under the orders of a black general.
Toussaint appears to have felt a justifiable distrust of Sonthonax; he saw that he desired to set black against coloured, that he was even talking of the independence of the island, perhaps only to test Toussaint's fidelity; but he had no difficulty in assuring himself that wherever Sonthonax was, mischief was sure to be brewing. He therefore had him elected deputy, and sent him to follow Laveaux. Sonthonax did not like this step, and made some show of opposition, but Toussaint informed him that if he did not embark immediately he would fall on Cap Haitien with 20,000 men. This irresistible argument made Sonthonax give way. As he went down to the boat that was to take him on board, the streets were lined by crowds of all colours, but not one said, "God bless him," as he had betrayed every party in turn; and his one wise act of proclaiming the liberty of the slaves was simply a political expedient, wrung from him by the circumstances of the hour. He was a boasting, bad man, whose history is written in the blood of thousands of every colour.
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The Directory, alarmed at the growing influence of Toussaint, sent out General Hedouville as pacificator of the island, and, to produce harmony, gave him authority to deport Rigaud. On his arrival at Cap Haitien he summoned the rivals to confer with him, and Rigaud and Toussaint, meeting at Gonaives, went together to the capital. H'douville, jealous of the power of the latter, gave all his attention to the former, whilst the newly arrived French officers laughed at the negro and his surroundings. Toussaint, suspecting a plot to arrest him and send him off to France, and probably very jealous of the superior treatment of his rival, withdrew from the city and returned to his army.
The English had now become convinced that it was useless to attempt to conquer the island; their losses from sickness were enormous, and the influence of the planters was of no avail. Their black and coloured mercenaries were faithless and ready to betray them, as at St. Marc, where the English governor had to shoot a number of traitorous mulattoes who would have betrayed the town into the hands of the blacks. They therefore determined to treat with Toussaint, and after some brief negotiations evacuated St. Marc, Port-auPrince, and L'Arcahaye. He thus gained at one stroke what no amount of force could have procured for him.
Toussaint, with a greatness of mind which was remarkable, agreed to allow those French colonists who had sided with us to remain, and promised to respect their properties; and as it was known that this mag-
58 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
nanimous black ever kept his word, no important exodus followed our retreat. Admiral Maitland had arranged for the surrender of the MOle with General He'douville, but on finding his hostility to the French planters, whom he insisted on Toussaint expelling the country, our naval chief made a new settlement with the black general and handed the MOle over to him. Maitland invited Toussaint to visit him, and reviewed before him the English army collected from the rest of the country. He was exceedingly pleased by the treatment he received from our people, and ever after showed a kindly feeling towards them.
One can scarcely understand why the English gave up the MOle, which a small garrison could have defended, and the importance of the position in naval warfare is indisputable. If we wanted to gain Toussaint and induce him to declare the island independent, we should have held it until that desirable event had happened.1
Toussaint treated the old colonists with distinction, and left many of them in the commands they had held under the English. Hedouville protested against this good treatment of his own countrymen, and annoyed Toussaint so much, that he began to consider 1 Our unsuccessful attempt to conquer Hayti does not merit to be recorded in detail, but it is humiliating to read of the stupidity of our chiefs at Port-au-Prince, who made our soldiers work at fortifications during the day and do duty at night. No wonder that we find a regiment 6oo strong losing 400 in two months, and the 82d landing 95o men, to be reduced in six weeks to 350.
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whether it would not be prudent to send HEdouville to follow Sonthonax.
Hidouville was not the only one who objected to the good treatment of the planters; his opinion was shared by the black general Moise, then commanding in the northern department. To show his displeasure at Toussaint's humanity, he caused some white colonists to be murdered in the plains near Cap Haitien. Hlddouville, frightened by the practical result of his teaching, summoned Toussaint to his aid; but doubtful of his general, he escaped on board a vessel in harbour. In order to do all the mischief he could before leaving, he wrote to Rigaud, saying he was no longer to obey Toussaint, but consider himself the governor of the southern department, adding that Toussaint was sold to the English and the nmigr.
It was HIdouville who thus laid the foundation of that civil war which degenerated into a struggle of caste. The agents sent by France proved each worse than the other. Rigaud, with the true spirit of a mulatto, also wrote to Toussaint to drive out the white planters, and when his teaching had incited his soldiers to murder his white countrymen, all Rigaud could say was, "Mon Dieu, qu'est que le peuple en fureur ?"
On the departure of Hidouville, Toussaint invited Roume to leave Santo Domingo and come and reside at Port-au-Prince, where they met in January 1799Roume appears to have had a profound admiration for Toussaint. We find him writing to General Kerverseau
60 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
as early as February 1795, and describing the negro chief as a philosopher, a legislator, a general, and a good citizen.
lRoume had a difficult part to play. He was most anxious to bring about concord among the different generals, and therefore invited Rigaud and Bauvais to meet Toussaint on the fite of the 4th of February to commemorate the memorable day when the National Convention proclaimed full liberty to the slaves. A little outward concord was obtained, but soon after, Toussaint, suspecting a plot, arrested some mulattoes. A slight disturbance among the negroes taking place at Corail, thirty were captured and died in prison, from "the effect of the gas created by white-washing the building." This remarkable excuse did not satisfy Toussaint, who believed the men to have been assassinated by Rigaud's officers.
Toussaint and Roume had in the meantime left for Cap Haltien,where they appear to have negotiated a commercial treaty with the Americans, and some arrangement was also, it is said, made with Admiral Maitland.
It was during this year that Captain Rainsford visited Cap Haitien. As we were at war with France, our officer passed as an American, and soon after landing was met by Toussaint in the street, who came up to him to ask the news. He next saw him at a restaurant where all classes dined, and he sat down at a long table with a drummer-boy next him, and the general not far off. The latter used to say that except
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 61
on service he did not see the necessity of making distinctions. In the evening Captain Rainsford played billiards with Toussaint at the public tables.
Rainsford appears to have been as much struck with Toussaint as Roume. He says he was constrained to admire him as a man, a governor, and a general. He describes him as perfectly black, then about fiftyfive years of age, of a venerable appearance, and possessed of uncommon discernment and great suavity of manners. He enters fully into a description of his dress. The general wore as a uniform a kind of blue spencer, with a large red cape falling over his shoulders, and red cuffs, with eight rows of lace on the arms, and a pair of huge gold epaulettes, a scarlet waistcoat, pantaloons and half-boots, a round hat with red feather and national cocade, and an extremely large sword was suspended from his side. Rainsford adds: "He receives a voluntary respect from every description of his countrymen, which is more than returned by the affability of his behaviour and the goodness of his heart." The vessel in which Rainsford was a passenger was next driven by stress of weather into Fort Libert6. Arrested as a spy, lie was condemned to death; but Toussaint would not permit the sentence to be carried into effect. He dismissed him with a caution not to return without passports.
There is much ex.gueration in the account given by Rainsford of what he saw and heard at Cap Hatien. He talks of 62,000 inhabitants leaving the city after
62 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
the great fire, and of Toussaint reviewing his army of 6o,ooo men and 2000 officers. He was a better judge probably of their manceuvres. He says that the soldiers went through their exercises with a degree of expertness he had seldom before witnessed. At the signal of a whistle, a whole brigade ran forward three or four hundred yards, and then separating, threw themselves on the ground, keeping up a heavy fire from every kind of position. The complete subordination and discipline astonished him.
Riigaud having evidently decided to carry out General Hedouville's instructions and defy both Toussaint and Roume, it became necessary to subdue him. Ten thousand men were collected at Port-au-Prince, whilst Rigaud concentrated his army at Miragoane, and commenced the war by seizing Petit Goave, and there, without the slightest excuse, murdered all the white inhabitants. It is singular to contrast the conduct of the two generals: Toussaint, without the slightest prejudice of colour, and Rigaud, the mulatto, the son of a Frenchman, showing "how he hated his father and despised his mother" by murdering the whites and refusing to obey a black.
Roume published a proclamation, calling on the north and west to march against the south to restore unity of command; but before entering on the campaign, Toussaint had to return to the north to repress some movements, and on his journey back almost fell into two ambuscades, from which he was saved by the fleet-
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 63
ness of his horse. Toussaint shot those who were concerned in these conspiracies, whether black or coloured ; but the stories told by St. Remy of his ordering 18o young mulatto children to be drowned at L'Arcahaye, is so contrary to everything we know of his character, that we may set this fable down to caste hatred. That lie was severe with his enemies is no doubt true.
Then began the wearisome civil war in the south by Dessalines driving back Rigaud's army, and by the siege of Jacmel, which lasted four months. Potion greatly distinguished himself in the defence, and conducted the evacuation. It appears unaccountable that while the main body of Toussaint's army was thus engaged, RPigaud remained passive; it can only be explained by mean jealousy, which was his characteristic to the last year of his life. But his principal fault was boasting, shown by his proclamation, saying, "Let the enemy appear and I'll slay them," which was answered by another from Toussaint offering pardon and peace.
Toussaint's army in the south was commanded by Dessalines and Christophe, or, in other words, by two ferocious blacks, to whom pity was unknown. Dessalines soon forced the strong position near Miragoane, and defeated Rigaud and P'tion, driving them before him towards Les Cayes. Pigaud ordered his officers to burn and destroy everything in their retreat, which naturally roused the inhabitants against these measures of defence, and they became clamorous for peace.
64 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
In the meantime the Consular Government at Paris sent out officers to Hayti, among whom was Colonel Vincent. Toussaint was confirmed in his position as general-in-chief, but the war in the south was disapproved. Colonel Vincent was enabled to tell him of all the changes that had taken place in France, but the black chief could readily see that he was suspected by the French Government. He, however, sent Vincent and other officers to Les Cayes to offer peace. It is amusing to read the account given of Rigaud. He went to see the French officers, a blunderbuss on his shoulder, pistols in his belt, a sword on one side, and a dagger on the other. On hearing that his conduct did not meet with the support of the French Government, he drew his dagger as if to stab himself, but did not do so; he preferred making a truce and embarking for France, together with his principal officers.
Toussaint entered Les Cayes on the ist August I8oo, and showed the grandeur of his character by implicitly carrying out his original decree. He again proclaimed union and peace, and pardoned all those who had been led into rebellion against him; and, to the astonishment of his enemies, he kept his word and behaved with great magnanimity. Even his worst
opponents were then constrained to allow that, when once given, he never broke his word.
If Toussaint was clement, Dessalines was the reverse; and the mulattoes declare that he killed upwards of ten thousand of their caste, which is probably
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 65
more of that colour than the southern province ever contained.
Whilst this campaign was at its height, iRoume committed the indiscretion of trying to raise a revolt in Jamaica. His agents were taken and hung; and as a punishment the English captured one of Toussaint's convoys destined for Jacmel. The General, very angry with IRoume, sent for him; he refused to come, upon which Toussaint went to Cap Haltien, and after reproaching him, insisted on his giving him an order to invade the eastern end of the island. He refused at first, but ultimately yielded to the menaces of General Molse.
When the southern campaign was over, Toussaint began to prepare for the occupation of Santo Domingo, but finding, that IRoume was inclined to withdraw his permission, he arrested him and sent him back to France. Toussaint's prestige was now so great in the island, that little resistance was made, and he occupied the city of Santo Domingo almost without a shot being fired, and established his brother Paul as governor.
The whole of the island being now under one chief, Toussaint decided to put into execution a constitution which he had already promulgated. It was certainly a model of liberality. It placed all colours equal before the law; employments might be held by black, white, or coloured; as much freedom of trade as possible; a governor to be named for five years, but on account of the eminent services of Toussaint, he was to occupy
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that post for life, with power to name his successor. He sent this constitution to Buonaparte for approval ; but evidently it was too much or too little. Had
he boldly proclaimed the independence of the island, he might have saved the country from great misfortunes.
Peace being now re-established over all the island, Toussaint began his civil administration. All accounts are unanimous in declaring that he himself governed admirably, but the instruments he had to employ were too often utterly unworthy. He organised the country into districts, and appointed inspectors to see that all returned to their work, and decreed that a fifth of the produce should be given to the labourers. Dessalines was appointed inspector-in-chief; and if a man without any sentiment of humanity was required for that post, surely Dessalines was a good choice, as he was ready to beat to death any man, woman, or child whom he chose to accuse of idleness. Toussaint, looking to difficulties ahead, continued to pay the greatest attention to his army, organised it with care, and preserved the strictest discipline. The stick appears to have been as popular in that day as it is now.
Toussaint was very friendly to the whites, and was most anxious to encourage them to aid in developing the country. This excited the jealousy of some of his generals ; among others, of Molse, his nephew, who to thwart his uncle's projects incited a movement in the
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north to massacre the French. Several having fallen victims, Toussaint hastened to the spot, and finding that Molse was the real instigator of the murders, sent him before a court-martial. He was sentenced to death, and very properly shot on the 26th November i8oo. Had Toussaint connived at these crimes, he would have upset all confidence in his trusted word.
All was now progressing on the island; the government was regularly administered, the finances were getting into order, and agriculture was beginning to raise its head, when Buonaparte, having secured peace in Europe, determined to recover the Queen of the Antilles and restore slavery. The story of this attempt may be told in a few words. General Leclerc started with 30,000 men to subdue the island, and although the evident intention of the French Government was to restore slavery, the principal mulatto officers accompanied him, chief among whom were Rigaud, Petion, and Vilatte. It is true the mulattoes had not yet frankly accepted the full freedom of the blacks.
General Leclerc did all he could to cause an armed resistance, as a peaceful solution would have given him no military glory; therefore, instead of sending Toussaint his children and the letter he bore from Buonaparte, he tried to surprise Cap ilahien. But General Christophe, before retiring with its garrison, set fire to the town and almost destroyed it; and Toussaint gave instructions to his other generals to follow this example. Leclerc, mortified by the result of his first attempt, now
68 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
thought of writing to Toussaint, and sent him his two boys. Toussaint behaved with great nobility of character, and asked naturally, "Why words of peace but acts of war ?" Finding that he could not circumvent his black opponent, Leclerc published a decree in February 1802, placing both Toussaint and Christophe "hors la loi." This was followed by the burning of the towns of St. Marc and Gonaives, and a retreat of the black troops towards the interior.
Whenever you see a fortress in Hayti, you are sure to be told that it was built by the English; among others thus known was La Crete h Pierrot. The French general Debelle, treating with contempt these negro troops, attacked this fort with an inefficient force and was beaten; then Leclerc made an assault in person, but he also was beaten, and was forced to lay siege to it. The attack and defence were conducted with singular courage, particularly the latter, considering the quality of the men, who had never before been measured with real white troops; however, after having repulsed several assaults, the garrison evacuated the forts. Potion commanded a portion of the French artillery in this attack on his countrymen struggling for freedom. If he loved France but little, he hated Toussaint more.
Even the enemies of the great black general are full of admiration of the courage displayed by him during all this important struggle, and especially dwell on his devotion to his wounded officers. I may here
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remark that the French general Rochambeau distinguished himself for his cruelties, and shot every prisoner that fell into his hands; which fully justified the retaliation of the Haytians.
Discouraged by a series of reverses which followed the loss of La Crete Pierrot, where it was amply proved that negro soldiers, even among their mountains, were no match for the disciplined troops of France, some of the black generals, as Christophe, began to make terms with the French; and Toussaint, finding himself thus abandoned, wrote to Leclerc offering submission. As it was accepted, he went to Cap Haltien to meet the commander-in-chief, and was received and treated with much distinction. He then returned to the village of Marmalade, and there issued orders to all his officers to cease opposition and acknowledge the French authorities, and peace was established throughout the island.
General Leclerc was but temporising with these black leaders; his secret orders were, not only to arrest Toussaint, Dessalines, and Christophe, but to re-establish slavery. He found, however, the last two so zealous in carrying out his instructions to disarm the population, that he preserved them in their commands.
Toussaint himself, having ever kept his word, could not believe that the French commander-in-chief would not keep his, and therefore, in spite of all warnings that treachery was meditated, stayed quietly on his estate at Ennery. He there received a letter from General
70 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
13runet, asking for an interview at a certain spot; Toussaint went, and was immediately arrested under circumstances of the greatest treachery. He was bound with cords and embarked on board the French ship Creole; then put on board the Heros with all his family and sent to France. When received on board by Savary, chef de division, he said to hin], "En me renversant on n'a abattu 'a Saint Domingue que le tronc de l'arbre de la liberty des noirs; il repoussera, parceque les racines en sont profondes et nombreuses." When reading this account of the capture of Toussaint, we can scarcely credit that we are recording the acts of French officers, whose plighted word was thus broken.!
On Toussaint's arrival in France he wrote to the French Chief Consul; but he might as well have written to Dessalines as expect either mercy or justice from the despot who then ruled France. He was separated from his family and hurried off to the Chateau de Joux in the Alps, where his rival Rigaud was already confined. Here he died from cold and neglect, under circumstances which raised the suspicion that the close of this illustrious life was hastened by unfair means. It is some satisfaction to remember that his executioner died also a prisoner in exile, though surrounded by every comfort that the generous English Government could afford him.
We have all heard or read something of Toussaint 1 St. Remy, speaking of Toussaint's capture, says, "Embarquement ar les blancs." How like a mulatto not to say "par les franqais "
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 71
L'Ouverture, and been taught to think well of him. I was therefore the more surprised, on my arrival at Port-au-Prince, to hear his memory so depreciated. I do not remember any Haytian having voluntarily spoken of him, though they never wearied of talking of Dessalines, Christophe, and Rigaud. I at first
thought that Toussaint's never having unnecessarily shed the blood of the whites, whilst the others may be said to have rejoiced at the sight of it, was one of the chief causes; but the real reason why the historians and biographers of Hayti would lower Toussaint's memory is the energy with which he acted against the rebellious mulattoes, and his firm determination that all colours should be equally respected by the law, and that all should have equal rights.
It is impossible not to be struck with almost the unanimous opinion favourable to Toussaint which has been recorded by all parties, even by his enemies. The Marquis d'Hermonas says that "God in this terrestrial globe could not commune with a purer spirit;" the French general Pamphile Lacroix records that "Nul n'osait l'aborder sans crainte, et nul ne le quittait sans respect." We have seen the opinion of Roume and Rainsford, that Toussaint was "a philosopher, a legislator, a general, and a good citizen," and that the latter was compelled to admire him as "a man, a governor, and a general."
He was personally brave, and being a splendid rider, loving from his earliest childhood to be on horseback,
72 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
he never appeared fatigued even after the greatest exertions. As a general he is thought to have shown much skill; and, what proves his sense, but does not add to his popularity among Haytians, he did not believe that his men were fitted to cope with the trained bands of France. He constantly said that they must trust to climate and yellow-fever as their best allies. As an administrator, he had much capacity, and his influence being unbounded, he would probably have restored its old prosperity to Hayti, had not Leclerc's expedition arrived to throw the whole island into confusion.
Toussaint's personal qualities appear to have been equal to his public : his word was sacred, he was humane on most occasions, yet with a firmness and decision which astonished his enemies. In his family relations he showed the most tender affection for wife and children; his fine nature was apparent on all occasions in his solicitude for his wounded officers and soldiers, and the thoughtful care of the prisoners that fell into his hands. His affectionate treatment of animals was also greatly noticed, and whenever hie came upon fugitive women and children of any colour, his first thought was for their comfort.
Our Consul-General Mackenzie (1827) often talked to the black officers of Toussaint; they described him as stern and unbending, but just, and intimately acquainted with the habits of the people and the best interests of his country.
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The one mistake of his life appears to have been his refusal, when urged to do so by England, to declare the independence of Hayti. Had he accepted the English proposals and entered into a treaty with us and with the Americans, it is not likely that Buonaparte would have ever attempted an expedition against him, and the history of Hayti might have been happier.
There is one fact which strikes the reader of the histories of these times, and that is, the soldiers are described as veritable sansculottes, without pay and without proper uniforms, and yet all the chiefs, as Toussaint, Dessalines, and Christophe, were living in splendid houses in the greatest luxury. Toussaint is recorded to have lent the French Treasury 6oo,ooo livres, an enormous sum for a slave to possess after a few years of freedom. Gragnon-Lacoste, who published a Life of Toussaint L'Ouverture in 1877, founded on family papers, says that this general had a marble house in Cap HahLien, elegantly furnished, and that he kept up the same style in all his plantations. His descendants in late years claimed about the fourth of Hayti as the estates of the black general.1
This biography, as well as the others I have seen, is full of absurdities; talks of Toussaint advancing with an imposing army, which turns out to be of 95o men. At the battle of Verretes 15oo blacks drive 35oo English troops from their entrenchments, and then 6ooo English are defeated and cut to pieces by a few squadrons. As far as I can learn, Brisbane had eighty English soldiers and some untrustworthy black and coloured allies, mixed with French planters. Even a moderately sensible Haytian could not accept so absurd a biography.
74 HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE.
Toussaint was also a fervent Roman Catholic, and was greatly attached to the priesthood ; he did all he could to repress the Vaudoux, and he published a strong proclamation forbidding all fetish rites.'
The treachery of Leclerc towards Toussaint had its reward; it could not but excite suspicion among the black leaders, as the previous deportation of Rigaud had done among the mulattoes. And now the most
fearful epidemic of yellow-fever fell upon the French army, and almost annihilated it. Forty thousand are reported to have been lost during the years 1802 and I803; among the victims were Leclerc and twenty other French generals. The Haytians saw their opportunity, and Dessalines, Christophe, and Pdtion abandoned the invaders, and roused their countrymen to expel the weak remnants of the French army. War bad now been declared between France and England, and our fleets were soon off the coasts. The French were driven from every point, and forced to concentrate in Cap Haiten. Rochambeau, who had succeeded Leclerc, did all that man could do to save his army; but besieged by the blacks to the number of 30,000,
1 1 am glad to be able to notice that M. Robin (mulatto), in his "Abr6g6 de l'Histoire d'Haiti," remarks in relating Toussaint's sad death :-" Ainsi fut rdcompens4 de ses longs et 6minents services cet illustre enfant d'Halti, qui pouvait bien se dire le premier des noirs," &c. &c. Dessalines appears to have encouraged Leclerc to arrest Toussaint, and then dishonourably betrayed Charles Belair (black), nephew to Toussaint, and his wife into the hands of the French, who shot Belair and hung his wife.
HISTORY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. 75
wid blockaded b our fleet, pinched by huncrer, and seeing no hopes of reinforcements, he surrendered to the Enalish and embarked for Europe.
Thus ended one of the most disastrous expeditions ever undertaken by France, and ended as it deserved to end. Its history was sullied by every species of treachery, cruelty, and crime; but we cannot but admire the splendid bravery of the troops under every discouragement, in a tropical climate, where the heat is so great that the European is unfitted for continued exertion, and where yellow-fever and death follow constant exposure.
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HISTORY SINCE INDEPENDENCE.
"QUE deviendra notre pays quand il sera livr6 la vanity et h l'ignorance," exclaimed Bauvais, one of the leaders of the mulatto party. I am afraid this sketch of the history of Hayti since the war of independence will show what are the results to a country when governed by vanity and ignorance.
Having driven out the French by deeds of unquestionable valour and energy, and with a cruelty which the infamous conduct of Rochambeau could palliate, if not justify, the Haytians determined to throw off all allegiance to France and establish an independent gevernment.
At Gonaives, on the Ist January 1804, General Dessalines assembled all his military chiefs around him, and had read to them the Act of Independence, which terminated with the words, "for ever to renounce France, and to die rather than live under her dominion." nlu a proclamation, Dessalines was careful to declare that it was not their mission to disturb the tranquillity of neighbouring islands, but in unmistakable language he called upon the people to put to death every French-