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IN THE YEARS 1788, 1789, AND 1790.
By FRANCIS ALEXANDER STANISLAUS,
BARON DE WIMPFFEN.
TRANSLATED FROM TIE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT,
WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN PUBLISHED,
By J. WRIGHT.
Les Voyages font bons, non pour rapporterfrskment combien de pas aSANCTA ROTUNDA oU lacouleur descalekfonsdela SIGNORA LIVIA, mais pourfrotter et limer netre cervdle centre cdel
PRINTED FOR T. CADELL, JUNIOR, AND W. DAVIES, (SUCCESSORS TO MR. CADELL) IN THE STRAND;
AND J. WRIGHT OPPOSITE OLD BONDSTREET, PICCADILLY.
M DCC CXVII.
9j197O J ,11
THE HEREDITARY PRINCE,
DUKE OF WIRTEMBERG, AND TECKj PRINCE 6F MONTBEILLARb, COUNT AND SEIGNEUR OF IIMPURG, GAILDORF, &c. &c. &c. LIEUTENANT GENERAL IN THE SERVICE OF RUSSIA', MAJOR
GENEaAL OfTHE C.IRCLE OF SWABIA,
KNIGHT AND COMMANDER IN EXPECT.'
ANCY OF THE ORDER OF SAINT JOHN
OF JERUSALEM? KNIGHT OF THIE
ORDERS OF SAINT ANDREW, OF
SAINT ALEXANDER NEWSKYS
AND OF WIRTEMBERGO
&c. &C. :.
YOUR SERENE HIGHNESS, in condefcend ing to accept the homage of a produdion, which can at moft, pretend to mediocrity, certainly gives in this, teflimony, of kindnefs, a frefh proof of the candour and indulgence which charaaerife true fuperiority. Thofe who have the honour to know and approach Y o u P. SERENE HIGHNESS, will not be furprifed at it.
But if, inflead of a severe cenfor, I have only found in You an indulgent Patron, let the public, at leaft, know that it would have been difficult for me to have chofen, even amongft the beft informed men, ajudge more enlightened, or more capable, from his mutif~rious erudition, and from the purity of his tafte, to decide on the merit of any literary work whatever.
No prince in Europe, Sir, I might, perhaps, fay,- no traveller, knows this quarter of the world better than YouR SERENE HIGHNESS, Germany, Ruflia, Holland,' France, Swifterland, and Italy, have all, in their turn, feen You examine their produdions, their"indufiry, and the manners of their inhabitants. You have fucceffively paffed from the rocks of Helvetia to the dock-yards of Sardam; from the ruins of Herculaneum to the plains of the Crimea: and You are now about to complete the course of
DEDICATI ca V
bf your obferv4tioni smongft a people as Worthy of being known, as ant of thofe. You have hitherto .feen; anc from whom You will af. furedly carry away, with the Molt advantao geous opinion, the esteem and the regrets-fo much the more lively, as your departure will be, for Great Britain, the epoch of a lofs which fhe would confider as irreparable, if the virtues to which every Englifhman pays*fo fincere a tribute! of love and refped, in the person of the.PRlINCESS ROYAL, were not a patrimony which that country is certain of finding again in each of the members of Her auguft family.
While I regret, Sir, that this feeble tribute is fo little worthy ofYouR SERENE HIGHNESS, I have fill the confolatory knowledge that You will.appreciate it, lefs by its own value, than by the fentiment which induces me to lay it at your feet; and that You will have the a 2 goodnefs
goodnefs to judge of my gratitude by the fin' cerity of my. attachment, and the profound refped with which I am, Sir,
YOUR SERENE HIGH NESS'S.
Moft humble and
Moft obedient Servant, The .BARON.DE WIMPFFEN.
April i5th, 1797.
I SENT to the prefs, in 1788, Letter: of "a Traveller," which were merely an extra& from a more voluminous work, I propofed printing with my Voyage to the Cape of Good Hope;" when, called to Saint Domingo by particular circumfiances, I faw myfelf obliged to renounce the publication of a work which, in the prefent fituation of affairs, might poffibly not have been unintereLing to the reader.
The following pages contain a part of my obrervations during a refidence of two years in the richest and moft flourishing of all the colonies. It will be objected, -perhaps, that to fome details of importance I have joined others of too minute and trifling a nature for fuch as look for nothing in voyages but great political and commercial
commercial events. To this I might reply, that fomething mua be alowed to egoifm, which no more exempts travellers than other people, from the weaknefs of attaching a certain value to the honour of occupying for a moment the attention of the public. But, exclufive of this confideratjon, there are many readers more or lefs pleaded with what may be called the dramatic part of a book of travels; and I frankly confefs that I am one of the number.
The work, however, is very far from being fo complete as it might have been, if unforefeen events had npt compelled me to leave, in a dpot from whence it may never be poffible for me to recover them, together with the manufcript or my Voyage to the Cape of Good Hope," a variety of materials, by the affiftance of which I propofed fome day or other, to give a greater extenfion to my obfervatiqns on Saint Domingo.
I am fill farther from flattering myfelf, either that the severe freedom of my remarks will not draw upon me an ardent oppofition, or that I am never in the wrong. "We ought "fto
"to exterminate all travellers," fays a modern writer, if their relations are to be refufed every degree of credit, the infant it ap.
pears they have not had the good fortune to efcape the fudden deceptions of their own imaginations, or the difingenuoufnefs
of others." *
Setting afide the degree of confidence my obfervations may merit, it is certain that very important ones might, at prefent, be made on the manner in which the conqueft of Saint Domingo has been conduaed: without entering into details, however, which would 6nly fatigue the reader, I fall confine myfelf to the following reflefions.
The fuppofition that nothing more was neceffary for the conquest of Saint Domingo, than getting poffeffion of the chief towns, fuch as Cape-Francois, the Mole, Port-au-Prince, &c. and. confequently of the rich poffeffions in their neighbourhoods, proceeded from a falfe principle. Such taftics, with all due
0 Hifloire Generake 4*I'Afte, de t'Afrjiue, et de 'Amirique,
fubmiffion, I cannot help comparing to that
of thofe intrepid Buccaneers who fancied they had manceuvred with great adroitnefs when they had furprifed a polt, or formed a townwhich they were obliged to abandon inflantly, after a hafty pillage!
No well-informed military man will deny that, generally fpeaking, more courage, and lefs fkill has been fhewn in this war than in any preceding one. Turenne and Montecucull made ten campaigns, and as many conqueffs, without fighting a single battle: at prefent, ten battles are fought in a single campaign; and the mofi paltry conquest, the moflt equivocal fuccefs is only obtained by prodigies of valour, and rivers of blood. *
-am-NrrfarTrom deriving great talents to fome of the generals of the two parties. H yaven forbid the Archdiike Charles fhould ever realize the promiles of his early youth, and prove hereafter, a C.aefar in genius, as he is already in courage and in birth. With refpedl to the French commanders and their fucceffes-It is, I believe, not very generally known that their fo much admired manoeuvres are the work of the genius of the great generals of the Age of Louis XIV. and that the well concerted, but ill executed plan of the laft campaign, has lain, in all its details, for near an hundred years in the war.office at Verfailles : but Moregu is not a Turenne, 7ourdan is not a Luxerburg, Buonaparte himfelf is not a Villars, though he fancies he is a Condi.
I know no method of conquering a country effetually, but by taking poffeflion of the pofitions which- defend it. The Englifh, rnafters of thefe pofitions, of the fea, and of the defiles, which, in a country like Saint Domingo, render all communication between the different quarters extremely difficult; Leogane, Port-auPrince, and the Cape, unfupplied with provifions, muff have fallen in a fhort time; and in fo much the shorter, as by confining themfelves to the blockade of thefe places, nothing would have been more eafy than to divert the ftreams which fupplied them with water; thus reducing their garrifons to the alternative of an honourable capitulation, or of perifhing with hunger and thirfl. An ordinary man would have fpent his whole life before Tyre without taking it: Alexander conflruds'a dyke, and Tyre capitulates! Nothing proves the total abfence of a Genius for war more than not knowing how to advance a flep beyond the track traced out by Art.
It appears to me then, that, in a country every where thinly inhabited in proportion to its extent, and which, more or lefs a prey to intefline divifions, was defended by widely fcattered
fcattered forces, the only proper method of proceeding was to infulate the different parts of defence, by interrupting, with well-chofen pofitions, the chain of communications: and then confining the whole to a war of out-polls, without undertaking any fiege, or risking any engagement, but what a firia adherence to a well-combined fyflem of defenfive operations might neceffitate. *
Independent of the benefits which the aaivity and flrength of the Englifh marine few cured to the troops on fhore, its fuperiority gave them another advantage of the moft material confequence. The French army could only be recruited by levies fent from Europe; the Englifh had in the neighbourhood, besides their ancient poffeffions, the lately conquered iflands of Martinico and Saint Lucia; from whence the -troops in Saint Domingo might have received daily reinforcements.
StriaIy fpeaking, I know that one army may always force another to fight. But I know, too, that if the army attacked be not in a bad pofition, or commanded by a fool, it is always an hundred to one that the attacking army is well beaten.
Undoubtedly the fyflem I propose would require a much greater number of troops than were, in fad, employed :-but as I have neither the ambition nor the leifure to trace out An this place, fuch a plan of operation as the conquefl of Saint Domingo feems to demand, I hall content myself with a few general inti mations.
In my opinion, then, it would have been neceffary to a& with three different bodies of troops, of five or fix thoufand each, including the planters and negroes in the interefa of the Englifh. One of thefe bodies, by landing on the fouthern coafi, where it would have been fupported by the majority of the colonifts; and rapidly advancing to the fummit and gorges of the mountains, which feparate this fide of the ifland from that of the North, would, by this single movement, have acquired two important advantages, io. That of menacing, at one and the fame time, all the eftablifhments between Port-au-Prince, and Petit-Goave; and 20. That of infulating all that part of the ifland which firetches from this laft place to Cape Tiburon: and if the two other columns had moved at the fame infant, one from MoleSaint-
Saint-Nicholas, or Port-au-Prince, the other from Cape Frangois, or Fort Dauphin, fo as to form ajundion near Plaifance, and fall with united forces upon Artibonita, while the fleet had fucceffively fhewn'itfelf on different points of the coafis; it is probable that the French, thus attacked and menaced on all fides, would have been obliged either to extend their troops too much, or to unite them in a central point, where it would be fo much the eafier to block them up, as (provided the Englifh were on any terms with the Spaniards) five or fix hundred riflemen of that nation, divided into platoons, would fuffice to harrafs their flanks. The advice which the fon of Mithridates gave his father, might in the circumstances I have fup. pofed, be remembered with advantage:
Que les Romains preff~s de F'un 1'autre bout,
Doutent oii vous ferez, et vous trouvent partout.
I am aware of the objections which may be made to this plan of attack ; but, obferving by the way, that every military operation, how well foever concerted it may be, has its weak fide, and its dangers, I fall cite a fat, of which I was witness, and which appears tq me perfectly applicable to the circumstances in quefion.
queftion. The authority of a precept is never fo well eflablifhed as by the example which relates to it.
When the French, in 1768, invaded Corfica, they fell into. the fanie error as the Englifh at Saint Domingo: they attacked it with an infufficient force; and.experienced the fate referved for every operation thus frittered into infignificance. The battles of Borgo and Saint Nicholas had, by O&ober, fo reduced and difperfed the French troops, that they had even loft the communication between Baftia and Fiorenza. A reinforcement of fix battalions enabled'them to recover it, and to advance as far as Oletta.' This momentary fuccets, how. ever, would byno means- have anfwered the end propped, if the attack of Barbagio, in February 1769, well combined in its details, perfedly military-in its whole, and admirably executed in it outlet, had been better fupported by the iflanders--for it ought to have driven us from Corfica.
It was then the Court of Verfailles comprehended, for the fira time, the neceffity of proceeding more methodically, and with more
adequate means, to the conquest ota ouritryo which the nature of the ground, the fanaticifm of liberty, insidious negociations, and the e. cret affiftance of England, would have defended a long time againtft all the efforts 6f France; if the military talents of the officers of this brave people had equalled the refources of the genius of their chief.
The plan of the Marefchal de Vaux, who landed in the fpring of 1769, with an army formidable in comparifon of that which he had to combat, was nearly fimilar to what I hould have propofed for Saint Domingo. While he conduaed in perfon the principal attack, Monf. de Marbceuf, with a divifion of the army, menaced the plain of Mariana, and a strong column moving from Ajaccio, direded its march, like us, towards Corte, that is, towards the center of the ifland; of which the conquefl was completed in the month of July.
,That of Saint Domingo is, without contradidjton, of infinitely more importance, and preftents fewer obstacles. If the Englifh wifh ferioufly, then, to atchieve it, they muft employ. four means, which I look upon as indifpenfable:
penfable: 1". Suffcent forces; A wellcombined plan of attack ; 3". A fyftem of warfare adapted to the country; and 4'. The art of uniting and gaining over the colonifts, by avoiding every thing that may give to refitance the energy the borrows from the hatred which the conquered naturally feel for the conquerors.
I should write a volume inftead of a preface, if I were to enter into all the details of which the four measures I propofe are fufoepible. The conqueft of Saint Domingo by the-united efforts of force and perfuafion, is fRill a work of difficulty: to diffemble, would be to reduce the overcoming it to an impoffibility-but it will be much facilitated, if eloquence be allowed to reckon in the number of its arguments a body of troops fufficient to over-awe.
With regard to myfelf, I (hall only infift in future on one tingle point; that the plan of operations muft be abfolutely regulated by the locality of the theatre of war, and that of Saint Domingo, neither allowing of manccuvring in a line, nor of acting with an extended front, all mufl neceffarily be reduced to the tatics
taaics of a mountainous country; as.th y.may be found fcienitifically developed in the" "Guerre "des Alpe' "' of th Marquis de Saint Simon.
I haften-torte inate'this preface by a fincere avowal. I have occafion for the degree of confidence which-.reckons the. fuffrage of friend. ihip amonglt the prefages of fuccefs, to deter. mine me. to publish this work, at a time when occupations of a Very different kind, and interefts much dearer to my heart than thofe of felf-love,. have deprived me of the leifure I flood in need of to render it lefs imperfeEL
Havre & Grace,
I WAS not mistaken,. Sir, in my conjectures, when I told you that I did not doubt but fortune would shortly prefent me with a frefh opportunity Of:praically extending the little knowledge which I have already acquired of fome parts of our pla.net) and of the political, moral and phyfical exam iltence of the different nations which inhabit it.
TQ fay the truth, I by no means confider this knowledge as abfolutely neceffary to our happinefs ; but when accident prefents us with the means of obtaining it, negligence would certainly be inex-m CUb0c;, if it does not increafe our fgock of hap.
pinefs, it may at leaft tend to render us lefs prefumptuous.
In fpite of an obfervation of Seneca's *, it might certainly render us extremely ufeful to fociety, if, to the talent of drawing juft conclufions from accurate obfervations, we fortunately joined the power of infpiring the ignorant with a degree of modefty fufficient to enable them to comprehend. that there are truths, derived from experience, which, notwithstanding they may run counter to the routine of cuftom, the prejudices of habit, and the principles of a contracted education, are, from that very circumftance, admirably calculated to extend at once the boundaries of the narrow circle in which. they vegetate, and the means of being more focial; in other words, more necef. fary, and more ferviceable to our fellow creatures.
cc It is the extreme of folly," fays Charon t, for a man to fancy the whole world ought to c think and aft as they do in his village." Thefool calls every thing barbarous that does not accord with his own tafte and habitudes: and, indeed, it would feem as if we had no other criterion of truth and reafon, than the ideas we derive from the opi.nions and cuftoms of the country we live in.
See his fecond Epiftle to Lucilius.
+ Sageffe, Liv. 2. Chap. ii, .
Such; Sir, .was not'the honeft Jefuit *, who, taken by Commodore :Anfon. and treated with all the refpe& due to the unfortunate, chofe rather.to be silenced, and finally driven from his Order, than to perftvere in :maintaining that !c there was no falvation out of the pale of the Church."" The
good man's gratitude -was perhaps exceffive; and yet ke cannot be faid to travel in vain, who learns on the road not to damn his benefator.
The veffel in which I intend to embark is called the Venus: The is Commanded by the Monfieur Cottin, whofe name appeared fo often in the pub. lic papers in the courfe of the laft war; and who merited the flattering diftin6tion of receiving a fword from the hands of his fovereign.
I fhall be the only paftenger, and I do not regret it: for though-a fociety, a little diverfified, may be more neceffary on (hip-board than elfewhere, yet the qualities which conflitute focial harmony are fo rarely to be met with amongft that clafs of
VQyige aatour da M9nde. Tom. 2. We may pronounce without hesitation, that our Jefuit did not belong to the diocefe of that archbishop of Lima, who returning to Europe, in the Ihip of Captain-Guiot, which had the skeleton of a Patagonian on board, infiftecd on its being thrown into the fen, during a form, which he maintained had been raised by the bones of this unfortunate Pagan. Sce the Diffcrtation on America, Part z.
people which frequents the fea, that I oUightf rather to be leafed than affli&ed at the thought of being alone.
If I piqued myfelf on an accurate detail of cir.& cumftances as they occurred, I fhould already have fome apologies to make for not havipag previoufly given you an account of my journey from Caen to this place.
I took my departure from the former town-on a fallion, who would have carried me over no fmall portion of the country, if I had fuffered him to follow all the mares which his infindl led him to furmife were in our neighbourhood.'
I flopped to- dine at Cuges, where I exchanged my unmanageable charger, for a poft.horfe, whofe vigour my fpurs were as ,ineffe&ually employed in rousing, as they had lately -been in controlling the paffions of his fiery predeceffor, -.
As the tide was in, I was obliged to ride feveral miles along the fand, up to the girths in water: this circumftance, however; 'did not prevent my admiring the richnefs and the beauty of thecountry which-I left on my right, 4s- I'advanced' towards Havre- '
If the filly cockneys of Paris who come to this port, that they may boaft all the reft of their lives of having feen the Ocean,c" the vaf ocean," would but advance a little on the road I came, they might feaft their eyes with one of the finefi profpects in nature ; tb of a range of little hills, affording at every fItep fome of thofe delicious.fituations which the Englifh call romantic: where the country, embellifhed with all that art, that cultivation, that rational luxg can add to its native charms, prefents a pi&ure of cafe, of peace and of happinefs; and forms a moil delicious contrail to that awful expanfe of dark azure, which, in a calm, is the image of immenfity without bounds, and in a form, the too faithful reprefentation of the tumultuous anarchy and conflict of the paffions.
At Havre they are employed in rendering the port more fpacious and convenient. Their works do not appear to me of the nature of thofe of Cher. bourg: they have all the impreffion of prudence and utility which charaaerifes the enterprifes of a commercial body, more engroffied by the care of acquiring riches, than the vanity, of appearing rich ; while the others, calculated on a fcale of grandeur, too probably erroneous, will, it is feared, prove little more than an everlafting monument of the inconfideratenefs with which they were undertaken 1
The town of Havre confifts almoft entirely of one ffreet ; but fo full of buftle, fo noify, there is no need to fee the vaft ocean," to be convinced that you are in a port. Legions of parrots from all corners of the world, and of all fizes and colours, hung at the doors, the Ihops, the windows of every flory of every houfe, talk, whiftle, firing, fcream, chatter like --what fall I fay?
Thofe horrid birds,"P faid my landlady, whom I had been liflening to for an hour--" would to C' God they were all at the bottom of the fea !"--Ah! Madam, thought I if you were like them-in a cage!
We hall fail to-morrow if the wind permits. The feafon is favourable, the weather fine, and the veffel commodious, though fmall. Monf. Cottin is faid to be an excellent feaman, and as prudent as brave.-He is aware that the courage which borders on temerity is as dangerous to people of his profeffion, as the caution which degenerates into timidity. This part of his chara6ter will, I hope, be a fufficient guaranty to my friends againft the menaces of the old proverb-c" the pitcher goes fo Il oft to the well-"
Aefea, Auguf1 1788.
W E left Havre on the twenty-ninth of laft month. A favourable gale carried us in twice twenty-four hours, out of the channel: and had we not been toffed about for fome days in the per. fidious gulf of Gafcony, in confequence of its blowing a little too frefh, we should have experienced few of the difagreeable circumfiances which render the life ofa sailor fo perilous and fo painful.
Our principal occupation, indeed our greatest pleafure, next to that of feeing ourfelves favoured with a continuation of good weather, has hitherto been ishing: an amufement, which, joining the ufeful to the agreeable, enables us to fubftitute for the poultry and "falt-meat which foon pall upon the ftomach at fea, a difh at once nutritive and delicious.
Besides tunnlys, bonitos, dolphins, &c. we have caught a fpecies of fifh which our failors callfolles, they are generally found, like the tunny, in fhoals, but are a much more delicate fifh- they do not indeed, appear fo often as the former; for which I can
can only account, by fuppofing that the facility with which they are taken, may have contributed to thin their number on our coats.
We had yesterday a calm of a few hours, during which we caught two sharks: the firit, which was the largeff, we hoisted on deck with fome difficult. ty, and found that his mouth was furnifhed with five rows of teeth!
This fifth, to which our ancient navigators gave the ill-omened name of the Requiem, is the tiger of the fea. His extreme voracity impels hin to devour whatever he can after or feize; fo that he muft have depopulated the ocean had not his deftrutive appetites been checked in fome meafure; firfl by the fingular fituation of his eyes, which are not placed in the anterior, but on the two fides, of a large and flat head, and which ef, fetually prevents him from feeing or following his prey in a straight line; and next, by the form of his mouth, which opening under the head, obliges him to turn upon his' back whenever he would feize his prey. Human flefh appears to be the favourite food of this rnonfter- hence he is always to be found in the track of the flave ihips, who commonly lofe a confiderable part of their cargo in the paffage from Guinea to Ameri. ca. I am fometimes inclined to'believe, that -our politicians
politicians who harangue fo earneftly in Lupport of the flave-trade, belong to the genus of sharks.
A till more ftriking fingularity attending this fifh, and which fhews how nature has indemnified him for the privation of certain faculties ; is, that be is always accompanied by two or three little fifh, called p lots. They appear to refide princi. pally upon the upper part of his head, where they fubfift, as I am told, on the juices they fuck from .his kin. It is from this elevated fpot they fet out in fucceflion to dire& his courfe, by fwimming a few yards before him. It is feldom that a fhark is taken without his pilots being taken at the fame tine; for at the firft extraordinary motion he makes, they haften to regain their poft:-we rarely meet with parasites fo faithful to their en. tertainer.
While I was converting with the captain on that excefs of ferocity, which, in the lhark, is beyond doubt the natural and neceflary cone. quence, of a law defined to prevent the too great multiplication of the ithyological kingdom; our failors were preparing to give us a proof of that gratuitous propnfity to wickednefs, which difhn. guithes man from every other animal.
After fafteniuglone end of a pretty ifrongrope to an empty cafk, which they hai previoufly calked, fo as to prevent the entrance of a drop of water, they flipped the other, by*-mens of a running knot, round the tail of the fhark'-an operation by no -means eafys for fuch is*-the' extraordinary ftrengtliwith which that part of the animal is endued, that its' terrible strokes make--'not "9the fea tremble," according to the abfurd hyperbole of the compiler of th '" Hiftoire G6nerale' des
J voyages" --but, the decks of the ftrongeft lhips. They then put out his eyes, and, in that condition, threw him into the fea.
The efforts the creature made to free himfelf, afforded an entertainment barbaroufly fingular: at one time he attempted to plunge into the water, at another to fpring into the air; but equally in vain :-he was detained on the furface by the cafk fo cruelly attached to him.
His comrade was defined to be eaten; notwith. flanding the flefh is of a dull 'and fickly white, impregnated with a urinous fcent, and of a very rank and fetid tafle. But what is there that failors will not eat ?-" I verily believe," fays one of our anticnt voyagers, "that the devil himfelf, roafled,
Tom. II. Chap. v.
[- xr ]
" boiled, fpiteh-cocked, dragged through the cin. ders, would find it no eafy matter to efcape from their teeth*."P
Shooting fucceeded to fishing. The calm which enabled the birds to diftinguifh their prey at a greater depth, and the neighbourhood of a fhip, which fifth appear to love-not for the pleafure of feeing cc"a two-legged animal without feathers," but becaufe the novelty of the obje& attracts them
-The fhip, I fay, and the calm had drawn around us a multitude of birds-our rivals and our maf-. ters in the art of fifhing.
We killed numbers of them, for no better reafon than to fhew our dexterity: for their flefh, black, dry, and ftringy, can only be eaten by fuch as are in abfolute danger of ftarving.
The moft curious of thofe birds were the Man. of-war's bird, and the Arrow-tail, (called by the Spaniards Robo-de-Junco,) a name apparently de. rived from the fingular conftrudion of its tail, which is formed of two long feathers, fo intimately united as to feem but onet. The Man-of-war's
Journaal d'un Voyage aux Indes Orientales. Tom. z.
+ Of this bird a more detailed account may be found in the "Hfloire d'ua V yage aux Ijies Maloeines." Tom z. C&ap. xx.
kird is the eagle of the ocean; he has the fize, the fhape, the lofty flight of that monarch., of the air. Both the one and the Qther, but more especially the latter, keep at fuch a diftance, that an -ordinary fhot will feldom reach them.
There was another bird, which I own I did not expect to find at fca ;-it was a kind of bibou, or owl. I know not whether he enjoys, amongit the failors, the fame reputation his brother does amongft the old women of both fexes on land, that of be-. ing the lugubrous and prophetic. organ of death ; but he has certainly the form, the nocturnal habits, the furtive and filent flight of the bird of Pallas. Our people called him Poiroux: the naturalifts, I take for granted, diftinguifh him by a name more noble and fonorous.
At the fight of fo many birds, which are frequently found at the diftance of two or three hundred leagues from any land; who for the moft part return thither to rooft, and who undoubtedly lay their eggs there ;* one is naturally led to enquire, how they contrive to find their nefts? For,
The inhabitants of Brazil pretend that the bird which they call Calcamar never quits the fea, not even to lay its eggs. I muff beg leave however to doubt a fa& which has no better fup. port than vulgar opinion, and is contradidedd byr all the known laws of naturci
[ 13 3
beides that the immenfe fpace they have to tra. verfe boaftis no objets capable of directing their flight ;it is fimply impoffible that- the organs of vifion-can guide them to fuch a distance. To fay that they rgvlate their courfe. by the fun, is far from anfwering :the queftion; for in the firfl place, there are many days when that luminary does not appear: and in thefecond, I have many times feen them flying and. fwimming around us., long after he had fet :-,-befides, how can the fun, who varies his courfe from one folftice to another, ferve them for a permanent director ?-Let us for once be candid. This myfterious operation of nature dif.trads and confounds the imagination for inftinat, to which we fo readily refer all the actions of the brute creation, appears to me a word much more proper to fpare us the humiliating avowal of our ignorance, than to explain the ufe of a faculty which, Providence has denied us.
LETT E R III.
dt Sea, Sept. 1788.
1TH E more I examine the animals, fifh and fowl, which constitute at prefent a great part of our
our fociety,' the more'traces I find of ait affiffity
-with the human- race: traces, extremely well adapted to humble our vanity, if we wVould call to-mind for a moment that the only diftinguifhing faculty we boaff, that of refletion, rarely ferves for any other purpofe than to render us more wretched and more wicked.
But is not man the only being endowed with the degree of intelligence neceffary to enablei-tim to, live in fociety ? the only one who has received the glorious prerogative of communicating with the Deity through the mediUm of thought ? As to the firfl, reply the bee, the ant, and the beayer; e -We too live in' fociety ; and rather more harmed 9 nioufly than you; and as to the "conimunicatior:' you-fpeak ofi we do not fee, though you -have
now enjoyed it fo 'many thoufand years, that it c has contributed to render you-a jot wif&, hap-. cc pier, or better."
Iought to have more knowledge, or to ufe the proper term, lefs ignorance of the natural hiftory of the different animals around us than I boaft at prefent, to enable me' to fpeak correatly and per. tinently on the fubje&. I fall therefore confine myfdlf to a few' circumstances which forced them. Elves on myobfervation.
. The filh. moft commonly met withJO tbepor. poife. They (wim in. fhoals, are found-almoft inall latitudes, and.are divided into two, fpecies,, the porpoi/e, properly fo called, and the moine or monk. Both are too well kzoawn on our crafts, to render any. farther defcriptio -of them necetfry,. The. failors fIrt that .they .always fwim gainft-, thai wind.; andi, who .am no. failor, and who Jove tQ, verify thefc-kind of obfervations, an=lieyoi in my) turn, tbac opt of twenty. trials. nineteen cotra-, died the affertion!
There exifis with regard to the procellaria (vul.garly- the halcyon, or tempef-bird, and who. is not much unlike the martlet, or land fwallow) a pre-. judice.-equily ridiculous: he is faid to be the' precurfor of forms *; and yet, in all the latitudes. I have run through from north to fouth, I have never found the affertion juthfied by experience in a single inflance. The bird probably fiffhes with more fuccefs in louring.and tempeftuous weather, than unckr a serene iky; and this I doubt not gave rife 'to the fable.
0 See Bourgainville's."6 Voyage atour d Monde," Toms., Chap: viit. It is Ul1, more aftoniihing to find this prejudice coafecrated in Les ,Etudes de" a Naturej" a W'ork which we read with fo much profit and pleafure, as to make us regret that any error should be found' init,
I fhouldafk pardon of. the whale finrot naming him before'; for if bulk can give rank, he Cer-W tainly ought to have flood at the head of my lift.
He is here what the elephant is on land, (I muft be underftood to except his intelligence) the hugeft, and without doubt) the ftrongeft creature of his element. There are feveral fpeciea'of them, of which the largeft are ufually found towards the north. They live, like the porpoife, under all climates, and may be met with from the poles to the equator.
A number of idle stories have been told of the fize of this fifh, more precious to commerce for his oil, and his whifkers, than the elephant, who has nothingto boaft of but his ivory.
Among others, the archbifhop of Upfal mentions his having feen a whale of fuch enormous bulk, that twenty men cold fit 'with eafe in the orbit of one of his eyes !* Though the whale that fwallowed Jonas was infinitely larger than thofe of the prefent day (at leaft, if we may form a judgment from the capacity of the afopbagus) yet we muff allow him to have been a mere gudgeon"
"Hifloire Naturdk des Regiones eptentrionao, Livre i.
C 7 17
in comparison of this of the Hyperborean arch. bishop.
The blower is no lefs common than the whale, of which it is a fpecies. It may be recognized at a vaft diftance by the water it is continually eje&w ing into the air.
If in the fports of your youth, you have been obliged to redeem a forfeit by a kifs, for having
raifed a finger at the fifh flies!" -t infift on having it back immediately. Your play-fellows took advantage of'your fimplicity; for there are flying fiih to be found in great numbers, in the neighbourhood of the tropics. They are of the fize of a large fprat*, and according to my tafte (.which, I fuppofe, you do not rank very high) the moll delicate of all fifb. I am forry to add, at the fame time, that they are alfo the moft unfor-.
f This alludes to a childish game among the French, calkd c6 Le Pieon vok." The names of a number of animals are rapidly run over, and the child is required to hold up a finger at the mention of fuch among them as fly. If a finger be held up at a wrong sme, it is aforfeit. T.
The AAb Choiafi md Dr. Dellon fay they are sometimes found as large as a herring ; but this is an abfolute falfity. Ste "Relation d'sun Voyage aux Indes Oriataa." Tom ,. ChAp. a. and 7eisnaI 41Pdt Ak$i"Page 30.
tunate: for they feem to have received the faculty of efcaping from fuch fifh as fwim better than themfelves, only to be made the prey of birds, when the imminence of their danger compels them to have recourfe to their wings. Whole flights of them fometimes fall upon deck, where they are received with an hofpitality not lefs fatal to them than the hatred of their voracious purfuers. Their delicate wings can only fuftain them, while they preferve a certain portion of humidity; and in no cafc does their flight extend beyond a mufquet fhot at a time .
Thus, Sir, like the weak, to whom an idditional talent is frequently little more than a frefh claim to the-hatred of the ftrong,-thefe unfortunate fifth find, in the advantage which nature has given them, a new fource of perfecutions and dangers'!
Veffels bound to the Weft Indies are fometimes forced by c"onftary winds and currents, to range
along the Azores. In this cafe it is not uncommoun fir birds,.blown off the land, to make tothem as
See the defcription of this fiffi in the'" Hifoire d'un Voyage flux. ifies Malouines," Tam. r. Chap. s. Dor., Pernetty the author, vcy incorre&ly, in my opinion, calls it amphibious, becaufe it 14s te power of quitting ito element. But to conftituie an animal really amphibious, it feems neceffary thatit fhoula not momentar rily quit the land or water, but be ible to inhabit and live'in the" ant mud the other alternately.'
[ 19 ]
to a port, ;I can fay from experience that they are not better received than the flying fifh, If an ac-., quaintance! with.mankind has rendered them mif-a truftful, :and they will not fuffer themfelves to be taken, 'they only efcape for a moment, to meet a more lingering fate, when the total exhaustion of their strength precipitates them from the aii, where they can no longer fuftain themselves.
The neighbourhood of the Azores, difcovered by Gonfalves Villo, recalls to my mind one of the many flories blazed about by voyagers: to fay no. thing of the qui-pro-quo's of their editors, who, wholly unacquianted with nautical affairs, give us from time to time, in a tone of the moft impofing gravity, the moft laughable abfurdities *.
I allude to the ftory of the equeftrian fatue, found in the ifle of Cuervo or, Corvo. It was covered, we are told, with a cloak; was bare-headed; held the bridle of its horfe in the left hand, and with the right, pointed to the Occident f.
Of this the author gives a curious inflance ; but as the miftake turns on the fimilarity of two phrases, which in ouir language are totally difMin&, it could not be made obvious to the Englifih reader. I have therefore omitted it. T.
t Hioire Gencral des Voyages, Tomel,. Live Chap. z.
If this fable was imagined for the purpofe of overcoming the obftinate incredulity of thofe Who, for reafons bef known to themselves, denied the poffibility of the exiftence of a new world; it pre., fents us with a melancholy truth-that we cannot hope to fubdue that fpecies of ignorance which believes only in the moft common occurrences, or in miracles; but by affuming the malk, and the lanav' guage of impofture.
The weather fRill continues fine. Our paffage will be rather long, but it will be-at the fame time extremely pleafant ; and I flatter myfelf, exempt in a great degree, from thofe. hardfliips which reader: the fate of a mariner little better than that of a galley-flave. The perfect harmony which reigns on board, and the laudable pains taken to vary our occupations, contribute to beguile the time, and pufh us cheerily on our way. The captain keeps his men continually employed, to-obviate the confequences of idlenefs, which are always fatal to good order. Some of them make tow, others mend the fails, fplice the cables, &c. &c. works by no means laborious in themfelves, and carried on with mirth and fong, under a tent raised on deck to fecure the workmen from the too great heat of the fun. I frequently amufe myfelf with partaking their occupatiofs; and untwift old ftrands of cord, i your fair ladies onfhce-do threads of gold wire; I fo
fo that, if I do not reap from my voyage all the advantages I expe&, at leaft I Ihall have learnt how to make half-hitch knots !.
In croling the tropic we performed ;he ceremony ?f baptizing the profane *, that is to fay, thofe who had never croffed- it before; but with iL confiderAble degree of decency, and rmutual.refpedt; without which, pleafure degenerates into pain, and play into. a&ual trife. An entertaining book, a
game at piquet, in which M. Cottin did not for,.
get his old trade of privateering, and the relation of fome very fingular and interesting events in the life of this brave feaman, filled.up'rthe remainderof the day; and even carried our converfation pretty far into the enfuing night.
See the tedious details of-this ceremony in the fecond chap ter of the "' Voyage aux flis Malouines." The author gravely observes that he ancients'(who had no compass,, and who in cc their longeft voyages never loft fight of land) were unacquainted with this ridiculous ceremony !! It is undoubtedly palling firange that a rite, derived from an iiflitution altogether modern, when compared with the exiftehce of the Tyrians, the Phoenicians, and the Carthaginians, should not have been pra&ifed by thofe aviators
The diforders to which this foolery has given birth, have oc. caflioned it to be totally prohibited on board the king's hips; and I cannot help thinking it a little extraordinary that a grofs caricature of a facrament, confeffedly of divine inftitution, should ever have been fuflred among thofe who call themfelves Chriftiam.
[ 22 ]
SJapuemel, St. Domingo;
'HAVE now been a week on fhore; and, affu., redly, I was not altogether, wrong. in. feeling no mighty fymptoms of eagernefs to arrive.- What a country!. what manners! wha,----! But, as I
am too old to yield without refiaance-.to .the. force of the, firtl inpreffion,. I. have, adopted, a-refolution which I believe you will, think not unwife; It is to fuffer, what Montaigne calls cc the edge of novelty" to be blunted, that a, nowiciate of fome months filence, and obfervation, may ripen and mature the judgment I propofe to hazard on the men and the manners of the country.
" I am anxious, if it be poffible, which I hope it is, to avoid the two principal rocks on .which the majority of travellers fplit, exaggerationjand preci. pitate judgment. I fhall not, therefore, like them, forming an opinion of the Whole from a part., un"blufhingly fetch the portrait of a] nationfrom -a few traits of a particular focicty-paint man ii his colle&ive capacity, from an individual;,and lay it down as an indifputable axiom, that cc all the c women
[ 23 ]
c" women of Rome wear perriwigs," becaufe f accidentally faw cc the charmingg Rofalind" with falfe hair! c Travellers have l6ng been noted," fayt M. Volney t, c for a ftrong propenfity to aggran. "' dize the theatre of their travels :" from this re.proachI hope alfo to efcape.-But to return to my voyage. ".
The conftant good weather we experienced, having permitted us to take an obfervation almoft every day, M. Cottin told me on the twenty-fourth, that if no crofs accident intervened, we should fee the, island of Defirada befoYre noon the next day. This was actually the cafe; and this, I think, is the only instance that ever fell under my notice, of a correfpondence fo perfectly exact between-the
obfervation of the latitude, and the meafure of the log-liriei., This laft is extremely fubjed to error; it furnilhes, however, the only means of estimating the run, when the absence of the fun renders the quadrant or the odtant, of no fervice. ,
Letresfur l'Italie, ,par M. le Pr~fident Du Paty. Tom. z. Lettre 87. Another proof of this precipitation, lefs excufable in a nation famed for refie&ion, may be found in Aifon's Voyage round the World," Vol. 3. Lib. 3. Chap. 9. where the compiler really determines on the probity and the manners of the vaft empire of China from a few difioneft artifices of the inhabitants of Canton.
f Voyage C Syic a ci Agyptc. Tom. 2. Chap. 18.
[ 24 J
The confideration of my being arrived in a new world, would have rendered me very attentive to the chain of iflands we were about to coaft, even though the pleafure of feeing land, a pleafure which can only be felt in perfection by the navi-. ptor, had not rivetted my-eyes to every fpot that rofe above the water.
Wc faw, on the left, Defirada, which Columbus did not difcover till his fecond voyage: ill-informed gcqgraphers reprefent it a4 uninhabited; it never. thelefs contains a few planters, who raife a little coffee and cotton, We alfo faw the ifland of Guaalkpe, which we paffed sufficiently near to enable us. to diftingjifh the houfvs fcattered along the sOn ft. ,
On the right we left Monferrat, a mountain whofe fteep acclivities do not feem very fufceptible of culture ; and alfo the ifland of Porto Rifo,-.--An accident which might have proved fatal, hadnearly deprived me of the pleafure of continuing my ob. fervations.
Monfieur Cottin wifhed to fall in with the weft. ern point of St. Domingo, which we were now ap-. proaching. I had been tempted to Ray on deck by the extreme beauty of the evening; and having taken my ftand near the fore-fhrouds about mid.
aight, I thought I faw fomething dufky and grey. ith break the line of the horizon. By keeping my eye fteadily upon the object, I difcovered it to be low land; and as we were running direly for it with all our fails fet, and a frefh breeze, I faw there was nota moment to lofe.
Without saying a word to the officer of the watch, I ran to wake the captain, whom I condu&ed to the fore-caffle. His prefence of mind was equal to his aftonifhment: he immediately requested me to let fly the ftarboard sheets, and, at the fame time feizing the tiller of the helm, he ordered the veffel to be put about; and the fails luckily filled.-It was time, Sir, for we were not two cable-lengths from the land, which proved to be the little ifland of Sarta, on which, if we had been shipwrecked, we fhould have found nothing but fand.
This accident enabled us to corre& our reckon. ing: we now food out to fea, and I went to lie down for a few hours refrefhment.
The fouth part of St. Domingo was full in view when I awoke. The breeze, which blew from the land, brought us a confufed mixture of emanations from a thoufand different aromatics, amongft which the delicious perfume of the acacia was not the leait prevalent. Behold,
Behold, then, faid I to myfelf, 'this land, this firft fample of a new world !-.-a world- whofe -dif-. covery tmul have filled,'Columbus with, .the pureft joy ; as it feparated him, at:once.from the croud of rafh adventurers, to elevate him to the-ratnk of the greateft, and moff illuftriouscharaders !- Never did a bolder enterprife decide a more important queftion. What a moment! what a triumprh for "the
;admiral and his affociates Inheritors'Of the power of the Omnipotent, continuators of his works, they
-had completed the creation! History is only-con.verfant with fads: we muff therefore tranfport ourfelves in idea, into the midft of the crew, if we ,would form any adequate conception:of their aftonifhment" we-muft hear their cries of joy,; we mull
-fee the expreflion of affe-tionat eanid fuperm tral refpe& take place of the inqiet, .nd.'frow.niI~g glances of mifruft, difcouragenent ard:. hired,
fmarting under its fufferings. How muff thofe .men, madly impatient for Ja.id, have devoured With
-their eyes this unknown ,fojJ, tthefe new prQdc6ions, that firange appearance ofbnt uret How-zmuft the light
: Though Columbus had previoufly, (i. O&ober 8th 149!) difcovered G,*qt.ahami or San Salvador, one of the Bahama i~llds, yet I have taken the liberty to make a kind of tranfpofition; becaufe Saint Domingo was the firft fpot where the. Europeans formed a feitlement.
+ We mufft'have a very inadequate idea of the delirium of joy into which the firft fight of land threw thefe people, .to fay, with the
[ 27 ]
fight of this ifland have aggrandized their chief, even in the opinion of thofe amongit them who, not long before, exclaimed with the courtiers of the Efcurial, "Nothing was ever more wild than this enterprize ;*"but who will not at their return, fay with them, c' Nothing was ever more fimple." No, they will be anxious 'to partake-the glory of it, as they have partaken the danger.
Dbmingo was: firft feen on Sunday the fixth of December, 1492 : and the prodigious influence of the difcovery; the revolution it has. wrought in the commerce, the politics, and the opinions of Europe, muft for ever render the epoch memorable in the annals of modern history.
What a contract, Sir, in the confequences of the principles adopted by the different powers, as they were aauated either by the fpirit of commerce, or of
the compilers of the" Hifoire Cenirale des Voyages," Tome io. Liv. i. Chap. 1. ,, that the firft time the Spaniards landed in the 1 new world, they kiffed the ground with humility."-Nq! they kifed i "16with tranfport," as is afferted with much more appearance of probability bjr the author, of the "'Hf/loire Ge'nirale de 'Ajte et de 'Afrique." Tome 13.
Columbus firft offered his fervices to Don Juan, king of Portugal, who reje&ed them. In a journey which he made to this prince's court, after his return from America in 1493, the cour. tiers advifed their mailer to put him to death: nay, they even went fo far as to offer to affafinate him thenfelves !
of cqueflt" T'hat introduced into the nqw world, vices, arts, and wants; tis flavery and death, At the voice of the firl, I fee the indigent Batavian ftart from his barren waftes, traverfe the globe, and by his parfimonious and perfevering induftry, cover his marfhes with the riches of both worlds ; ,,and plant at the extremrities of the earth, colonies more extenfive, more wealthy and more populous than the country that gave them* birth: while the
Spaniard depopulates his delicious provinces-to' go and.depopulate the Antilles, Mexico, 'and Peru and to raife wretched haunts for Capuchins, ot she ruins of the proud empire of Mdntezuma *! Surely the coldeft imagination muff turn withhorror from the glories of Cortez and.his fucceffors, when it is recollected that they coft thefe unhappy countries more
+ The desire of acquiring a perfe& knowledge of the globe we inhabit, has given birth to a new species of ambition, that of dicovery. Its confequences, with refpe& to the people newly dif. covered, do not differ much from thofe of the other two. It is to the credit of the natives of Van Dieman's land,. or New Holland, that they were almost the only ravages who had good fenfe enough to reje& with contempt the prefents they did ziot want, and which would only have created for them new neceifities. See "N Nouveau Voyage a la Mer du Sud." Page 29.
I am not to be told that the monks of Mexico obferve their vow of poverty as little as thofe of other places'--But the fumpt u oufnefs of the churches, the opulence of the monafleries, and the luxury of the clergy, no more fupply the deficiencies of cultivation (the
[ 29 a
more than twenty millions of men What
c bleffings," fays Montefquieu, might not the
" Spaniards have conferred on the Mexicans! They might have given them a mild and beneficent cc religion; and they brought them a frantic fuper-. ftition ; they might have fet the flaves free; and c they made the free flaves; they might have lhewrt c them the enormity of human facrifices ; and they ,1 exterminated whole nations. I should never have done, if I were to recount all the good they did "not do them, and all the evil they did t."
(the true bafis of the wealth of the colonies) than the lubricity of the monks thofe of population' In vain does Peru produce gold; it will never be truly rich, till it produces men and grain. Ia the city of Mexico alone, I am informed, there are nixe and twenty monafteries, and twenty nunneries !
Carjaval boafed on his death bed, that he had murdered ttnty thoufand Indians with his own hand !
+ D4 L'Efprit des Lois. Liv. io. Chap. 4.
., A ,
1 30 ]
Japzuemet, Olober 1789.
I RESUME, Sir, without any preamble, the fubjeft of my laft letter.
The variety of the afpefts, the novelty of the forms under which a rapid vegetation developes, beneath a burriing atmofphere, productions unknown to the temperate zones; the line of coun-. try, of which no human voice interrupts the filence, no trace of cultivation the folitude; gavefull employment for fome hours to my eyes and' my thoughts.
What is become of the gentle and peaceable beings who once inhabited it? Speak, Europeans:
-tell me, where are they ?--As long as they ex.ercifed the virtues of hofpitality in your favour, you were fatisfied with enflaving them.-Is it not fo? But the moment you perceived that, fiartled at the excefs of your abfurd and brutal turpitude,, they paffed from love to hatred, from adoration to contempt, you haftened, like ferocious beafis, to exterminate men, who had received you like Gods! In vain do you flatter yourfelves that time will efface the memory of your crimes. There exifts
---on this fhore there 'exifts, a memorial, a river', whofe name united with its waves, will roll down to the lateft pofferity, the remembrance of your madnefs and your'guilt!
Such, Sir, were my reflections on the firft fight of Saint Domingo: you will not confound them, I hope, 'with thofe of a faditious enthufiafm.
The queftion, whether the difcovery of America has been advantageous or not, to Europe, remains hitherto undecided: but that of the influence it has had on the happinefs of the natives of this part of the new world, is unfortunately but too well fettled-.1.-they exift no more! t
The true, the original name of Saint Domingo, is involved in obfcurity. Francis Coreal informs us that the natives called it Quifquia, Haiti, and Cipanga $. It feems, to me that thefe were not.
The River of Maffacre.
+ One of the Caciques of this ifland had fucceeded in forming an eftablifhment to the north eaft of Saint Domingo, of about four thoufand of his countrymen, whom he governed under th6 title of Cacique of Haiti, perfeflly independant of the Spaniards, excepting that there exifted, in cafes of importance, an appeal from his decifions to the* "Audience Royale." But fo long fince as 171 8, the eftabliiment was reduced to about four.fcore people 'of both fexes.
4 ",Ration des Voyages," &c. Tom. Chap. i.
fo much the name of the whole ifland, as of the different diffri~ts, in which the original izhabi.rants had formed their eftablifhment. The Spa. niards, at firft, called it Ifabella*; afterwards they gaveI it the name of Hifpaniola. In this they
were followed by all the commercial people of Europe, except the French, who, confounding the name of the capital, San Domingo t, with that of the island, called,- and lill continue to call it, Saint Domingo.
I return once more to my voyage.
We found ourfelves about fun-fet, either by the negligence of the fleers-man, or the force of the currents, unexpectedly under a bold and rocky
fhore, near the mouth of the river Naiba: here the wind failed us at once; fo that we were obliged (for we were not in foundings) to hoift out the Boats, and tow the veffel into-the offing.
I was much pleafed with the fight of the Naiba or- Neiva, one of the moft confiderable rivers of
Correspondence de Fernand Cortez, &c. LettreL1.
+ The H ifioire Generale des Voyages" concludes the hifioq7 of the foundation of this city, with a moft unpardonable blunder. It became," fay. ie, "in procefs of time, under the name of "Saint Domingo, one of the molt fourilhing of the French Settlements."
E 33 3
the ifland. It appeared to roll majeftically through an extenfive valley, and, at no great diflance from the fea, to divide itfelf into a number of channels, which had the happiest effet imaginable. Yet this charming fpot did not appear, from aught I faw, to be either cultivated or inhabited: a circumftance I could not help regretting; as I much queftion whether it be poffible to find elfewhere a foil more fertile, or .a fituation which promifes greater refources for convenience and pleafure, to the planter; to whom the neighbourhood of a navigable river is always an advantage; as it facilitates the carriage of his merchandize.
The courfe of this river feems exprefsl.y calculated to form a natural barrier between the French and Spanifh poffeffions: an idea which truck the commiffioners employed on the part of France, to fettle the limits between the two powers, before the all-powerful logic of the Spanifih commiffaries proved the propriety of a different line of demarcation. Thus France loft a large extent of valuable territory; while Spain, who left it wholly uncultivated, gained--.- what ?-a mere contraption of her neighbour's poffeflions. This, you will fay, is fill fomething: it is fo, without doubt; but Spain appears to have for-. gotten long fince, that the power of a late depenids lefs on its territorial fpace, than on its po.
pulation. What makes this demarcation. frll lmore extraordinary is, that fo long ago as 1698, the Naiba is fpccified in the letters patent for thecreation of the company of Saint Domingo, as form. ing with Cape Tiberon,, the limits of the coat towards the fouth.
The Spanilh part of Saint DoMingo is infinitely more extenfive, more fertile, and more abundantly fupplied with water than the French; but, on the other hand, there is too little indufiry to be found in it, and too many monks., I am well affurel that their eftates are, wel*l cultivated,. and their revenues well adminiftered. The monks have always paffed for good managers,, and intelligent hufbandmen: but I muff take the liberty of oboferving that Ufufruduaries in a fate of celibacy, labouring for a fixed number of fucceffors, and not for an unlimited pofterity, will be lefs anxious in general to extend their cultivation, than to in!prove, and bring it to perfection. Even this, it muff be confeffed, is an advantage: f ill, however it is an error of no fmall magnitude, and wlich .affe&s the government on the fide of interest, more, perhaps, titan any other; to multiply, in the cooniie especially, fuch eftabliflhments as check the progrefs of population ,, anl, confequently, the
The Spanifti part- of Saint Domingo Contained h1, 717 no ow'e than eighteen thoufand four hundred and ten white inhabitants,
breaking up of new-ground; industry, commerce, &C. &C2.
Let us fuppofe, Sir, that there are in Saint
Domingo five thoufand monks. Subflitute in their flead as ,many married men: the confequence will be, that in tWenty years thefe five thoufand monks will- be replaced by a population of thirty- or forty thoufand individuals, clearing the ground, plant-. ing, gathering their different produ&ions, and paying to the late at the rate of ten piafters a hed, above two million livres. Should this
fum eyen be abforbed by the expences of an ad-. miniftration neceffarily increafed with an increafing cultivation, there would fill remain to the fove-. reigns the amount of the duties, both on the imam portation of colonial produce, and on the expor-. tation of the various articles, with which the mo-. ther country has an inconteftable and exclufive right to fupply the colonies, in return for the expence 9f prqteing, or in other words of preferring
(ants, including about five hundred Frenchmen, who were principally engaged in the coafting trade : and I am credibly informed that neither the indufiry, nor the population of the ifle, have rouch jncreafed fince that period.
In Europe this would be thought enormous; but it is not fo iti thecolonies, where an equal quantity of foil is infinitely mor# vduablv than with ps.
D z From
From Naiba to the- little ifle of Alta-vela, we found the' ihore broken and unequal, and of a gloomy and unpromifing appearance. I could perceive no traces of cultivation along the coaft. The Spanifh colonifts, naturally indolent, and moderate in their defires, are fatisfied with breeding a few head of cattle, on whofe milk they fubift; and planting a little tobacco, which they fmoke, firetched at their length in a hammock, fufpended between two trees. The more a&ive among them carry on a trifling commerce with the French in taffo or fmoked bacon, and in live flock, of which the horfe, known by the name of Baya-bondros, is the moft valuable article. They alfo, I believe, furnish Europe at prefent, with that excellent fpecies of tobacco called Saint Do., mingo ; for the inhabitants of the French part of the ifland fcarcely cultivate enough to fupply the home consumption.
We paffed Alta-vela within piftol-fhot. It iS-a mere rock, with a few green fpots about it;-and which, looking forward to the time when fome, one of an invincible paffion for folitude, hall fix his hermitage there, ferves, in the interim, as a retreat for prodigious numbers of fea birds. Thofe who wifh to. fall in with land in the fouth part-of Saint Domingo, Ihould always endeavour to make this little iflant: a matter by no means dficult, as
as it may be feenat a great diftance : Its appearance is extremely fingular, being that of a firft-rate man of war under full fail. It was undoubtedly this circumftance that induced the Spaniards to give it the name of Alta-vela.
It will not be impertinent here, to obferve, that this important point of recognition, is molt' inaccurately laid down in the coafting chart of the Antilles, lately taken by the officers of the royal navy. Not content with verifying the error in this, as well as in D'Apres Pilots' Direaory; we had the curiofity to examine an old chart of Saint Domingo, which I accidentally picked up, on my way to Caen; here we found the pofition of Alta-. vela determined with the greateft accuracy! When we reflect that the indolence, the inadvertency, the want of exatnefs, in the officers intrufted with an affair of fuch importance as laying down the coats, may colt the lives of thoufands of their fellow-creatures; we muft neceffarily allow that government is either extremely unhappy tQ be thus reduced to a choice of fubje6ts fo little worthy of its confidence, or extremely culpable in granting it fo inconfiderately, to men altogether incapable of juftifying its predilection. Bougainville, although one of the corps, cannot refrain from reprobating this pernicious abufe of authority; and openly declares, that the French charts of the
[ 38 ]
the Indies are better adapted to caufe the loffs of Ihips, than to guide them*0
Soon after we had doubled the ifle, the frequency of the habitations which we faw along the coaft, fufficiently announced that we had paffed from the Spanifh to the French part. Atnine in the morning of the thirty-firft, we were off the bay of Jaquemel; the fea breeze beginning to blow, we ftQod direfdy in for the town; and before noon I had the pleafure of finding myfelf fafe on fhore,
7aquemd, February 1789.
N O, Sir, not even in this letter, Ihall I venture to fpeak of the inhabitants of Saint Domingo. I do not like to hazard a precipitate opinion, efpecially when it is not likely to be favourable, on the character and condu6f of a people whom I already begin to fufped I have confiderably over-rated.
oVoyage autour du Monde. Tome 2. Chap. 7.
[ 39 1
You will find then, in the prefent, little more than a rapid and preparatory Iketch :-for I have hardly yet determined in what order to lay my ob-. fervations before you-whether the country hall precede the inhabitants, or the inhabitants the country; or whether (which is the idea that beft pleafes me at prefent) I hall treat of the one and the other alternately, and as occafion may arife.
For the reft, I never understood fo well as fince I have been here, the aftonifhing power of what is called the influence of climate. The relaxation which the exceffive heat produces on the organs of the body, is equally extended over the faculties of the mind. There is an indolence of thought, as well as adion. The flighteft labour fatigues-the flighteft application over-powers. Such being the cafe, you muft not expect to find much connexion in my ideas, or precifion in the manner of explaining them. As faft as a new object hall give birth to a thought, I hall fet it down, if I have the power; for all aptitude to labour,1 all propenfity to ftudy, is rigidly profcribed in the colonies!1 What think you? Is it the imprudence of not yielding implicitly to this moft fage profcription that occafions fo many deaths in the ifland? We hall fee.
Every where elfe the human fpecies may be divided into two claffes.
The firfi and the moft numerous, that of the populace properly fo called, fimple, credulous, and uninformed, has little more than the vices which neceffarily flow from a fate of fociety; where all require that each should ad for the whole; and where, in fad,, each adts only for himfelf, Their virtues are of the loweft order; that is to fay, fuch as, being rather inherent than acquired, do not demand any of thofe facrifices, which ftamp fo ma. jeftic a charader upon virtue
Thefecond, andlthe leaft numerous clafs, is that of the man diftinguifhed from the populace, by birth, education, and fortune; or by a portion of genius and talents fufficient to counterbalance thefe advantages, by rendering the poffeffor of them agreeable, ufeful, neceffary or formidable to his fellow-creatures. Supple, complaifant, and enlightened; good from weaknefs, and bad from calculation; rarely a dupe, and fometimes a knave: be will be found in poffeffion of virtues whofe lure provokes admiration or envy ; and of vices whofe groffnefs is but too well concealed under the charms of amenity, and the varnish of the graces.
This divifion is not to be found here! You will fee the reafon of it i10, In the enumeration of the different orders which make up the population; and 20, In the uniformity of principles and manners, inevitable
[ 41 1
vitable in a fate of fociety acknowledging only two diftindt claffes--mafters and flames.
This uniformity in the relations which unite or divide the members of a community, ought to be confidered as an advantage: for, besides obviating the effects of another inequality, in addition to thofe which necefltarily refult from a fate of fociety, and from human nature ; it contras, and fimplifies the obfervations from which we ufually de. duce the character of a people.
As it feems neceffary that a certain number of abfurd prejudices should imprint the mark of folly
Nothing is more prejudicial to a good caufe thaD defending it by bad reafons: and none can furely be well worfe than thofe alledged by certain enthufiats-that Nature herfelffurnifhes the model of the inequality of fociety, in the phyfical and moral ine. quality of individuals. For to reafon conclufively, it would then be incumbent on man (already fubje&ed to a certain number of evils, the neceffary confequence of his organization) to add to them the maladies which refult from his intemperance, or from any other abufe of his phyfical faculties. It is not becaufe there are giants and dwarfs, strong and weak, Vefiris' and cripples, that there ought to be little and great :-it is becaufe the diflin&ions which occafion the one and the other are inevitable, that a perfea equality of this fort is as chimerical as a perfe& equality of fortune, of merit, &c. Remedy the evil if you can, or counterbalance it; but do not deprive yourfelves of the only means of exciting emu. nation which the legiflator poffeffes, except thofe rare and uncommon occasions where effervefcence and enthufiafm fupply, for a moment the place of this all-powerful motive of afion.
E 42 ]
on every thing which relates to the human fpeciqs; it is here the colour of the ikin, which, in its different degrees of fhade, from black to white, takes place of the diftind'Iions of rank, of merit, of birth, of honours, and even of fortune. So that a negro, although he proved his defcent in a right line from the Magi who came to adore our Saviour, although he joined to the genius of a celeftial inteb. ligence, all the gold which the profound earth hides," would never be any thing in the eyes of the pooreft, the moft paltry, the molt flupid, the molt contemptible of the whites, but the dregs of the human race, a worthlefs flave, a black 1
cc He has relations on the coaft 1" Such, Sir, is the expreflion by which they manifeft their contempt, on the flighteft fufpicion that a ingle drop of African blood has found its way into the veins of a white. And fuch is the force of prejudice, that it requires an effort of reafon and courage to enable you to contract with fuch an unfortunate being, that kind of familiarity, which a fate of equality pre-fuppofes and demands.
You fee then that the chaos of claims and pre. tenfions fo/ perplexed and confounded efewhere by the diverfity of ranks, is here eafily reduced to method. In Europe the knowledge of the different degrees of regard, of confederation, of %teem
esteem more or lefs felt, of refpe&b more or lefs profound, is a fcience which requires a particular study: and as the exterior does not always corref.o pond with the title, a difcernment of the niceft kind, a long acquaintance with the great world, is necef., fary to enable us to diftinguifh the patrician from the plebeian, the noble from the vaffal. Here on the contrary, it is only neceffary to have eyes, to be able to place every individual in the clafs to which he belongs,
From thefe premifes you will collect (without being exprefly told fo) that, from the governor invefted with the power, and decorated with the orders of the king, to the fcoundrel who, from the galleys of Marfeilles, brings with him the difgrace. ful mark which the iron of the executioner has imprinted on his shoulder, all the whites are upon an equality.
This refpe&t for colour, which, like fo many other eflablifhed prejudices, is a mere abfurdity in the eyes of reafon, is, however, the palladium on which the deftiny of the colonies is fuppofed to depend. It may appear ridiculous to maintain (what, however, is but too true) that there is fome foundation for the fuppofition: nor, indeed, can it be otherwife; fince this, as well as all the other vices of our eftablifhments in thefe parts, is the neceffary,
I E 44 ]
neceffary, and inevitable confequence of an enor-. mous error we fell into at the time we founded them.
To intereft the cupidity of the rich, the govern. ment gave fuch an extent to its Conceffions, that any one (taking coffee for the medium) might eafily raife a neat annual income of fifty thoufand livres *. But as the labour of a single man was not fufficient to clear, to plant, and to gather in, the productions of fo large a piece of land ; fome infernal Geniud infpired in evil hour the projed of cultivating America by Africans t,
One abufe naturally brings on another. To the
too great extent of the conceded grounds was foon added
A conceffion contained two hundred squares of one hundred fquare feet each (French meafure). Coffee fuceeeds only in mountainous trads, one fourth of the land mutt therefore be looked upon as incapable of cultivation: another fourth is ufually allotted to what are called favannas, that is, meadows, and to the fite of the dwelling houfe, its dependencies, Ac. &c. This leaves a hundred, fquares for cultivation: each of thofe produces on an average, a thoufand weight of coffee, which, at the customary price, yields an annual income of a hundred piftoles. The deduaions to be made from this fum for the expence of cultivation, &c. will be feen hereafter.
+ Who could believe that it was a prieft! the molt humane, the mofl tender of all that have yet visited the newworld, the cele. brated bishop ofChiappa ; in a word, the virtuous Las Cafas, who propofed, and caufed the plan to be adopted, in order to refcue' his beloved Indians from a fRate of flavery, which after all they did not efcape.
added the enormity of granting to the fame perfon, in the very face of the law, two, three, and fome.times four conceffions ; as the petitioner happened to be more or lefs powerfully recommended by the minifters, or protected by the adminiftrators of the colony whofe cultivation, and indeed population, was materially checked by the indulgence: fince no proprietor, how rich foever you fuppofe him, can poffibly be fufficiently fo, to undertake the eftablifhment of feveral plantations at the fame time. To elude the law, they procure the grant of a vacant conceffion, in the name of a relation, &c. and the government which felt the want of a good law, feems perfedly, infenfible to the neceffity of caufing it to be obeyed. The negligence, or rather the diforder, in this matter is fo great, that land already granted, but abandoned by the pro. prietors, for ant of means to cultivate it, has been granted a fecOnd time to others ; and thus become an object of litigation between the old and new pof. feffors. This inconvenience was fuppofed to be fully obviated by enacting that conceflions of fuch proprietors as did not fulfil, within a limited time, the conditions under which-they took poffeffiorz (fuch as employing a certain number of negroes on a certain quantity of ground, &c.) should revert to the crown: but it happens in this, as it does in moft other cafes, that this act of'vigorous but neceffary juftict,
juffice, is feldom put in force, but againfl the ob.4 fcure and unfriended planter.
Let us fuppofe now, that the meafure of the conceflions had been reduced to twenty fquares; for the management of which, the labour of a poor European family would have amply fufficed. It would follow, that the fame extent of ground, on which a fewnegroes at prefent vegetate, would have maintained fourfcore individuals. Nor can there be a doubt, but that it would be much better cul. tivated by ten refident proprietors, than by him who, refiding two thoufand leagues from his pof-. feffions, has no better fecarity for the care and fidelity with which they are managed, than the capacity of an ignorant Reward, or the probity of a.knavifh agent! The Englifh have followed this-method ir, Barbadoes, and the confequences are,. that this ifland is, in. pxoportion to its extent, the, rich eft and mofi populous of all their poffflins-in the Weft Indies. If then, as the judicious; Labat ob. ferved, the ftrength-of the colonies, confifts in. ". the numbrer:of the whites;'" we muftneceffarily admit, with this voyager, that the number, he. fpeaks of, can only be made up of wht are, cgd[ed, fmal planters," ',. .
I haften, Sir, to combat eth only fpeciou% 91ezion, which uninformed, or defigning people, can poffibly
podfiblyoppofe tp.this mode of cultivation; I mean the infalubrity. of the climate.
I reply, then, in the firft place, that this infalubrity is to be attributed more to the exceffes to which European ufually abandon themfelves oa their firif arrival here, than to any inherent ill qualities in the climate. It is their own intem. perance which renders a refidence here fo fatal to them.
In the second place, I reply, that the firif culti-. vators mf Saint Domingo, thofe who originally did what the negroes do now, were, what were called in- the language of thofe days fix-and-thirtymonths' men, that is, men who let themselves to the planters for-a term of three years :-and that there are fome fmall divifions of the old Grants, yet.cultivated by whites, who live on them in a fate of decent competence. To me,. thefe fals are arguments of the moft irrefiftible kind.
Europeans have, I know, no fmall difficulty to accufl:om themfelves to the climate: severe labour would infallibly deftroy them. At the fame time, I am confident that ten feafoned whites, without over.ftr~ining themselves in the laft, woul do the work of an hundred negroes; becausee they would do it with more good will, with more underfianding
[ 48 1
derfanding of what they were about, and .confe. quently, with infinitely more effe&.
I The experience of all ages, and of all na. g1 tions fhews us, that the work of flaves, though :c it apparently cofis no more than the expence of cc their nouriffinent, is, on an accurate eflimate, cc the deareft of all work; fince the man who is cc reffrided from acquiring property, can feel no cc other folicitude than that of eating as much, and labouring as little, as poffible*.'"
The colonifis who maintain the contrary are either fluggards, fools, or impoftors. In this matter, I fpeak from my own experience; yet I have neither the habits, nor the degree of vigour which agricultural engagements demand.-"-c The "heat, and the unhealthinefs of the climate, fo c frequently alledged by Europeans as the caufes of their inadivity in the colonies, are nothing," fays an intelligent and obferving traveller, cc but c a fpecious apology for the weaknefs of men re-, cc duced by intemperance and debauchery; and ", too vain or too fenfual to have recourfe to the cc labour of their handst"
Smith's Wealth of Nations. Vol. II. Book 3. Chap. s. + Voyage autour du Mome,par M. de Pages. Tome r.
[ 49 ]
And after all, Sir, what is meant .by this mife-. table outcry againft the climate ? Can the popu. lation of the whites be only maintained by emi-. ,grations from Europe ? Is there any law to pre. vent the women from breeding here? or was it
ever heard, or faid, that the air of this country was prejudicial to a Creole?
Let us introduce good morals into Saint Domingo. Let the planters, inifead of attaching themfelves to thofe black, yellow, livid com. plexioned miftreffes, who brutify, and deceive them ; marry women of their own colour; and we fall foon fee the country afflume, in the eyes of the obferver, a very different afpec.
Jaquemel, March 1789.
M Y fentiments, Sir, with regard to the flavery of the blacks, are no fecret to you. I explained myfelf without referve on this head, in one of the letters which I wrote' to you from the Cape of Good Hope*.
The manufcript of thefe letters is depofited, with many other papers, in hands, from which I do not know that I fhall ever be able to recover them.
You Ire apprized then, that I have* always agreed, and Rill agree with thofe writers who reprobate fo ftrongly the infamous traffic we maintain on the coafts of Africa.
But while I do juffice to the purity of their motives; let me be indulged with a few obfervations. I think, then, that the authors who have written on the negroes, from falfe or exaggerated reports; without the power of judging by their own eyes, of the kind of men for whom they plead, or of the nature of their flavery; have juftly merited the reproaches of combatting by vain and empty declamation an abufe, whofe defeas are more than balanced by its advantages. I further think, that, as every proceeding of this kind ought to have in view the common good, it is dangerous, nay unlawful, to excite a prejudice against an order of things involving the fafety and fortune of the public, without producing at the fame time a remedy for the neceffary evil. We have no need of thofe officious gentlemen to tell us that flavery is a hateful thing. What would they fay to the Efculapius who prefided over their health, if, in an overflowing of the bile, he flhould prefcribe nothing for the complaint, but a furious invedive againft the malady which confumed them ?
1 5 1
- Oar age is unfortunately too fertile in political reformers* ; who are in a violent hafte to pull down. an irregular edifice, without having either the talents or the materials neceffary to conftru6i it again upon a better plan.
One fimple argument fall fuffice for all.
Your colonies, fuch as they are, cannot exifl without flavery. This is a frightful truth, I confefs; but the not recognifing it, is more frightful fill, and may produce the moft terrible confe. quences. You muft' then fanaion flavery, or renounce the colonies: and as thirty thoufand whites can only controul four hundred nd fixty thoufand negroes by the force of opinion; (the fole guaran.tee of their exiftence) every thing which tends to weaken or destroy that opinion, is a crime against Society.
In vain do the turbulent ccdrnis des Noirs'" Friends of the Blacks, labour to fupport their doetrizte by the example of the United States, where, except in Virginia and the two Carolinas, there are no articles of cultivation which require a
They will thare the fate of the religious Reformers. Their tenets will ptoduce much hatred and guilt, much misfortune and icord, which will terminate at length in indifference.
E 2 number
[ 52 :i
number of hands. In all the other provinces the quantity of flames is fo trifling, that it is very eafy to fupply their place by whites; they are brought up with fo much care, and treated with fo much humanity, that if the law, which emancipates them at a certain age, produces no difadvantageous effects on the fortune of the maf-. ters, it-adds nothing to the happinefs of the flaves, but the fatisfacion of exchanging a forced, for a voluntary fervice. Besides, the United States, when they prohibited the future importation of negroes,, took effetual means at the fame time to prevent the progrefs of cultivation from being checked by the prohibition. Let our anti-negro men do the fame. Let them give us, inflead of vague and unprofitable babble, pofitive laws, efficacious means, falutary refources-in a word, let them be the c Friends of the Blacks" without be.,
-coming the enemies of the whites. .
I have already obferved to you that the-abolition
-of flavery is incompatible with the prefervation of the colonies: not abfolutely from the nature of the thing, but becaufe perfonal intereft would in-. fallibly oppofe a thoufand obflacles to. the only method by which it could be effeded.
This method is neither more nor lefs than a niew.
-divifion of land: and you will allow that there needs
E 53 1
needs nothing morethan the mention of fuch a ftep, to raife an univerfal outcry againft me. However as'Providence has bleffed me with a difpofition On which the clamours of the multitude have little effect, I have no fcruple to fay, that the inftant fuch a thing is poffible, I do not fee why it fhould not he ferioufly propofed. And what can be more poffible! fince while I referred to the proprietor, from whom I fhould, take two thirds of his conceffion, a right of mortgage on the difmembered part; I fhould fill leave him at liberty to choofe between reimburfement by inifallments, or a rent proportioned to the value of the fee-fimple: both the one and the other to be determined by experienced referees.
Doubtlefs an operation of this nature would require both the concurrence, and the afliftance of the government. And I have fo high an opinion of its wifdom and beneficence, that I am perfuaded it would contribute to the fuccefs of this fpecies of political amputation, both its treafures and its authority. After feeing it lavish them for the fole purpofe of refcuing North America from the yoke of England, it is impoffible to fuppofe it would hefitate to bring about, in its own terri. tories, a revolution which humanity, no lefs than its own glory, and let me add, its own interefts, in. ceffantly folicit at its hands I Here,
Here, Sir, finifhes my dream !.-It is time to return to my fubjea,
Do not imagine that I pretend to juftify flavery, or to diffemble the evils which naturally attach to it. I know no moral corruption nore, hoftile to the manners; to the doctrine which foftens, and the virtues which purifythem; I may-even add, to the fpirit of fubordination fo, neceffary. in a monarchy: for how can he whom the poffqfljon of the moft unlimited power has habituated to uncontroul, bend to the yoke of the laws which oppofe his will ? How can the defpot fubmit to a prince, whofe conftant language is "fuch is our plea. c fure;" when he himfclf never ufesany othe" than cfuch is mine !"
Perhaps the confequences of this want of foci. ablenefs might be obviated by delegating to the governor of the colony fuch a degree of power as would ferve to over-awe the fpirit of independence, fo natural to the colonifts, But the wellfounded apprehenfion that hp might; abufe it; and the fear, by no means unreafonable, that an able and ambitious chief 'Might one day takq advantage of this very fpirit to induce them to fhake off the yoke of the mother country, have driven government to the expedient of rendering one power dependant on another; the intendant on the count.
[ 55 ]
cil, the council on the governor, &c. So that thefe authorities, always rivals, and never agreeing-(to give you but one inflance of the perfect nullity of their influence on the public will)have not, to this day, fucceeded in caufing a fingle article of the CODE NoiR to be put in force*.
What then, you will fay, do all thefe authorities do there? Not all the evil they might; and certainly not all the good. Each adminiftrator, calculating on the uncertainty of his tranfitory exiflence, leaves the care of the public good to Providence, and bends all his thoughts to the advancement of his own fortune. Not one of them fails to recolle& that Galvam, the only vice. roy of the Indies who carried nothing from his government but the love and efleem of the people, found nothing on his return to Portugal but poverty and contemptt. Examples of this kind should teach fovereigns to honour, more than they
The rage of fLying a good thing is the fource of many follies. It is not eafy to difcover why the author of the "Inftitutions Politiques,'-' fo rational in general, should venture to fay, (Tom. t. Chap. 5.) that 9 "he who fabricated the "Code Noir" maft have had a foul as black as ink."
+ Jutfice requires that I Ihould here make honourable mention of another governor, Doam Juan de Cafiro, who at his death left only three reals behind him. Galvam died in a work-houfe. What a leffon for his fucceffors! It has not been thrown away upon them.(do,
do, thofe exalted virtues which are the fureft pledges of obedience, and of the refpe t of the people for the power under which they live.
I have obferved juft above, that I looked upon flavery as pernicious to the morals, and to the do6trine which should purify them. If, when I come to treat at large Of the different claffes which compofe the population of Saint Domingo, I can fubdue my natural propenfity to indulgence; I flhall find in the manners of the inhabitants but too many proofs of the juftnefs of the obfervation. And if I should tell you, in the interim, that education here, in unifon with nature, far from fupplying the youth with any defence against the influence of the climate; far from checking the progrefs of the too-rapid developement of the faculties, and the inevitable exhauflion attendant on it; hurries them on, without intermifflon, from adolcfcence to. decrepitude; that it does not allow fufficient time for the cheek of innocence to affume the rofy glow -of modefty; but that youth and maturity languifh equally Were; one deprived of the bloom of i.ts frefhnefs, of the winning fimplicity of its charms ; and the other of the afcendancy which wifdom, experience and fubdued paffions ufually affure it; in fhort, that from the difgufting alliance of all the abfurdities of ignorance and fottifhnefs affecting talents, with all
all the vices of an immorality, which- cannot even alledge fedufion as an excufe, there refults a compofition, which. prefents the humiliating picture of humanity in the laft ftage of degrada,. tion; then, Sir, divided between* doubt,- indigna. tion, and contempt, you will perhaps accufe me of calumniating at one and the fame time Man and Nature. And you would be right, if you could poffibly fuppofe me fo unjuft as not to feel the neceffity of making thofe exceptions which every general rule demands.
Jaque el, March, 1789.
I F it were neceffary, Sir, to begin the enume. ration of the different claffes of inhabitants, by the bef; it is not impoffible but that the one which ftands firft in the eftabliffied order of things. might find itfelf at the bottom of the lift.
This however, I am pretty confident is not the opinion of the colonifts who return to Europe. Puffed up with an extravagant opinion of their own
own fuperiority,, and of. the, pretended' delights which mark every infant: of their lives with a new pleafure; they will infolently- tell, you that the black is here to the white, what the ftupid-brute is to the angel of light.
That, in a,country where flavery has necefhrily introduced an iripaffable ine.of: demarcation, between the all-powerful--mafter, and. the all.fubmiffive flave ; the- whites fhould endeavour to enforce the opinion of their fuperiority by every favourable prejudice, is reafonable enough-But that men, who muff at leaft be confcious of their own imperfections, should bring themfelves ferioufly to believe, and wifh- to perfuade others, that a claim, which is not even the work of felf-love, can juftify the abfurdity of thofe they found upon the colour of their, fkin; is an idea of the molt preposterous kind: for this would be to admit, if they reafoned on their own principles, that the tawny inhabitant of pur fouthern provinces, and the olive-complexioped Spaniard, were of an inferior nature, to the Dutchman or the Swede! BefideA, if -it be true'(and no pious Chriftian can doubt it),that God made, man. in hi4 own image, ought we not to refped, even in the colour of the negroes, the relation which muff-neceffarily exift between the creature and the Creator 1.
But let this prejudice remain, fine it is ne. ceffary; it is as innocent perhaps as any other. Let thofe, however, who infifi upon it, be well perfuaded that it can only fecure them from the dangers which hang over every impoftor, as long as the illufion is fupported by the two virtues which we love to attribute to fuperior beings-,-? juftice and goodnefs.
I proceed now to the, enumeration of the different claffes which form the intire population of Saint Domingo: obferving by the way, that there is not a ingle defendant to be found of the original inhabitants,
The firfi then, is, of courfe, the white clafs. It comprehends the governor, the intendant, all the agents of government of every degree, the clergy, all the refident proprietors, the managers, the attorneys and agents of the non-refidents, the merchants, the foldiers, the retail dealers, the artifs, and finally, all the race of induftrious la. bourers, whom the, negroes call liltie whites; and whom want, fhame, mifcondudt, defpair, and fometimes the hopes of making a fortune, bring to the country of the world where living is the deareft, where indufiry -has the feweft channels, where arts are the leaft honoured, and where the ill ufe which fome of their predeceffors made of
[ 6o I
of the ancient and celebrated hofpitality'of the coloniffs, has rendered the inhabitants too circuWfpe& to admit into their houfes any but people well .known, or well recommended.
It was in confequence of remonfirances on the facility with;which adventurers of all kinds paffed from Europe to the colonies,-that the court made a regulation, which obliged every paffenger to appear with the captain' of the veffel, and a' furety, at the office of the admiralty of the port from which he propofed to embark.' But this falutary law, like. every othet, is' evaded; becaufe few captains refufe to pafs, as they call it, the firff va. gabond who finds the art of intereffing their pity; or the means of tempting their' cupidity by a flight retribution. Whatever bethe motive of fuch an a&ion, it is at once a violationof the law, and 'a fpecies of robbery; fince fuch' a paffeiger muft live intirely on the fhip's flores, and confequently at the expence of the merchants.' But the agents of commerce, long fince difcovered, in the prin. ciples which dire& it, the juffification of thofe, by which they believe themfelves exonerated from keeping too exaft an account with probity.
The fecond clafs is that of the mulattos, quar.terons, demi-quarterons or metis, and all, in fhort, who
vho are called people Of colour; amongft whom I place the free mulattos, proprietors of land, or living on their industry ; as well as the domeftics, free or flaves, of both fexes: for here the law comes to the fupport of opinion, and forbids the white to derogate from the dignity of his colour, by caufing himfelf to be ferved by a white !
Originally every mulatto was free at the age of' four and twenty ; not in confequence of a pofitive law, but bythe unanimous confent of the colonifts. This regulation was extremely wife; as the vaft difproportion between the number of the blacks and the whites, chewed the neceffity of attaching the mulattos to the latter. On the reprefentations, however, of fome of the planters, whofe calcula-. tions were deranged by the prohibition of felling their own fleih and blood; the king, by an edi6t dated in 1674, declared that the children ffiould follow the condition of the mother! And I muft obferve, to the eternal fhame of the Europeans, that if a law which debafes them, by devoting their pofterity to flavery, is obferved with the molt rigorous exacnefs ; it is not fo with another,
The following is an exa& account of the progrefion of colour. 'I he white and the female negro produce the mulatto ; the mulatto and the female negro the Grif; the white and the female Mmlatto the Qa'm'teron; the white and the female Quarteron the Tiercervn; the white and the female Ticceron the Mitis, the white and the female Mitis the Mamlouc.
[ 6 J
which exprefsly ordains that every mafter fall give each of his flaves two pound anid a half of fault meat a week.
The black clafs is the laft: it comprifes the free negroes who are proprietors of land, and by no means numerous; and the flaves, whether Creoles, that is, born in the colonies; or Boffales, imported from Africa.
Although the diflance between the flave and the free man be immenfe, yet, to avoid fubdivifions, and minute diftindtions, I have adopted the divifion of colour, as the moft fimple. For I muft further obferve to you, that the male and female negroes, as well as the male and female mulattos, in fpite of the acquifition of liberty, remain in a ftate of abjednefs, which not only difqualifies them from any public employ, but forbids them to contract with the whites a fufficient degree of intimacy, I will not fay to fleep with them, but even to eat. If I vifit a rich mulatto, he will call me Sir, and not mafler, like the reff. I call him friend, dear friend, &c.he will aik me to dinner; but if he be correct, he will not prefume to fit at table with me.
Such, Sir, is the total divifion. Each of the three claffes has besides its fhades--fuch as thofe which,
which, in defpite of complexion, feparate the go. vernor from the other whites, the mulatto from the free negro, &c. &c.
The compulfatory precautions arifing from the prejudice of colour, have procured for the inha. bitants two advantages, which in fome degree compensate for the ridiculoufnefs of it. They render the government more circumfped in its arbitrary proceedings; and they imprint on the colonifts a charader of haughty independance, from which defpotic adminiftrators have more than once experienced a refiflance fo inflexible, that the court has been finally obliged to recal a governor, whom the habit of playing the nabob in the Eaft, has daily tempted to tranfgrefs the bounds of his authority.
The natural confequence of the order of things which prevails here, is, that all thofe titles of ho. nour which are elfewhere, the pabula of emulation, of rivalry, and of difcord; which infpire fo much pride, and create fo many claims in fome; fo much ambition and envy in others ; shrink to nothing, and entirely difappear before the fole title of WHITE. It is by your fkin, however branded it may be, ;nd not by your parchment, however worm-eaten, that your pretenfions to gentility are adjufted. Thus you fee that vanity, which on your fide of the water
[ 64 3
water torments and turns herfelf a thoufand ways, to impofe on the public, and ufurp the tribute of refpe(t which it accords to the claims of birth, would here lofe both her time and her labour.
Each of the different claffes of the inhabitants of St. Domingo has, as you will readily imagine, a turn of thinking-, a file of living, more or lefs approximate or difina; which, after all, has little refemblance to what you will find elfewhere; becaufe the climate, the regimen, the manners, the wants, the occupations, the degree of reciprocal depen. dency, eflablifh here connections of the flighteft nature; very different from thofe which, with you, Sir, bind together the members of the fame fociety.
I might here feize the opportunity of entering into forne details on this fubjed. But as the fludy of man in his moral capacity requires more application, and more experience than that of his exift-. ence in a focial fate ; as the influence of the climate, and of a manner of living totally diftin6t from ours, afts neceffarily on his character; and finally, as too fervile a regard to method would infallibly conduct me to a fatiguing monotony; I hold it to be thd part of prudence not to haften my judgment ; and
-accumulate on one point, obfervations, which, tobe conclufive, should be the refult Of time, comparifon, and experience.
[ 65 ]
For example: the firif thing that strikes every traveller who arrives here with the faculty of obfervation, is, that in fpite of the conformity of origin, colour and interests, the whites from Europe, and the white Creoles, form two claffes, which, by their reciprocal pretenfions, are fo widely fundered, that neceffity alone can bring them together. The former, with more breeding, more politenefs, and more knowledge of the world, af. fed over the latter a fuperiority which is far from contributing to unite them. Yet, if the Creoles were a little more cautious than they are at prefent in their too early connections with women; if they cultivated with more care their extraordinary pro. penfities to excel in all bodily exercifes; if they feconded by a. better method of education the na.tural facility of their genius; I am perfuaded, that not having to struggle against the influence of the climate under which they were born, nor againft the habitudes of a kind of life, differing effentially from that to which a European is obliged to fub. mit himfelf on his arrival here, I am perfuaded, I fay, that all the advantages would be on their fide. Nothing is wanting to the Creole, but a fufficient degree of good fenfe, to enable him to ufe, without abufing, the faculties with which nature has endue d him.
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I HAVE been here already more than eight'
months, and yet, Sir, I have not faid a word to you about the town of Jaquemel, nor of the estate which my landlord has juft purchafed, and which, indeed, I have only vifited twice.
There is a difference of opinion r~fpeding the origin of Jaquemel ; fome maintain that it existed at the arrival of the Europeans, under the name of .raquimo ; others, that it owed its rife to aques-de Melo, a Spaniard, who built the firft houfe there.
However it be, Jaques de Melo was very far from thinking, when he raifed his humble ajoupa at the bottom of a little bay, that his name would be one day metamorphofed into Jaquemel; and his hut into a commercial town, a port, capital of three .pariflhes, the refidence of a Senefchal, a military
So they call a kind of hut, or hovel, composed of leaves and branches, where the planters ufaally refide when they commence clearing a new piece of ground.
chief, &c. It was thus that Dido laid the foundation of Carthage, without imagining fhe was about to raife a rival to Rome!
When I honour Jaquemel with the name of a town, you are not, Sir, to take the expreffion literally: for furely a few wooden barracks fpread over a beach, or fcattered up and down the accliavities of a rugged and felony emincncc, were never yet fuppofed to conflitute a town. With the exception, however, of Cape Franyois, this is the definition of all you will find at St. Domingo. One rich planter has indeed had the temerity to build a tolerable houfe here of fRone, at the hazard of feeing it cruribke to pieces the very firft earthquake.
Be this as it may, this irregular group of Cafes (fo they call their houfes here) intcrfperfed with a few fpots of verdure, forms, as feen from the fea, an appearance extremely pidurefque.
A bay perfe&ly fafe in the favourable feafon, good anchoring ground, and land ready cleared, which has much increafed the cultivation in this quarter, bring hither every year about twenty fhips, which are freighted with fugar, coffee, and cotton. For although Monf. Raynal gives the diftrid of Jaquemel fixty-two indigo, and no fugar plantaF 2 tions;
tons ; I can venture to affure you that there are three of the latter, in full bearing, and not one of the former. The exceffive attention which the cultivation of indigo demands, the fuccefs, at beft uncertain, and the rifque of lofing in a moment the fruit of a long feries of labour, have determined the coloniffs to abandon it altogether. In revenge they have extended the cultivation of coffee, lefs lucrative than that of fugar, but fubje6t to fewer viciffirudes, and lefs dear; more expenfive than that of cotton, but more certain, and yielding a greater return.
The cultivation of the diffrit of Jaquemel is fufceptible of a confiderable increafe : for, although all the land be conceded, it is very far from being all in hand; and what is fo, is frill farther from the fate of perfedion to which it might be brought. This, Sir, would not have been the cafe, if, by re. ducing the extent of the conceffions, they had multiplied the number of the inhabitants. Plantations of a moderate fize are always beft cultivated; and for this fimple reafon, that the eye of the after overlooks them more eafily j.
Jlifoire Ph;ilofophiue et Politique des Etalifemens et du Co?*. merce des Europeens dans les hIdes. Tome 7.
+ it There fill remain in England, and in Europe, (ome great eflates which have continued without interruption in the hands of the
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Among the numerous caufes which retard the progrefs of planting, and fetter the indufiry of the planter, there are three pre-emincnt: the capitation tax on negroes, the high price to which the commerce of France has raised this commodity, and the enormous charges of what is called Juftice.
The author of the Pbilofopbical and Political 9, Hilory of the Indies "' in enumerating the ad., vantages which would flow from transferring the tax on negroes, to the different articles which they cultivate, has expofed but a fmall part of the evil arifing from this impolitic impoft. The obje& is fufficiently important to call for a developement which hall leave the partifans of the capitation tax without a reply.
If an equal number of blacks, fay they, produces an equal quantity of merchandize, is it not a matter of indifference on which the tax is impofed ?
This fophiftir'y can only perfuade the ignorant. Wt will fuppofe, Sir, that I purchafe to-day
the fame family, fince the times of feudal anarchy. Compare the prefent condition of thofe efltates with the poffeflions of the fall proprietors in their neighbourhood, and you will require no other argument to convince you, how unfavourable fuch extenfive property is to improvement Smith's Wealth of Nations. Vol. z. BoOk 3. Chap. 2.
ten blacks: the law obliges me to regifler them to-morrow; and I am taxed in confequence of it. We will fuppofe again, what is too frequently the cafe, that two of the ten diebefore they are fet to work: the king lofes nothing, it is true; but he who taxes my workmen with an eye to the profit of a work which they have not performed ; a profit which alone can enable me topay, commits a glaring injuftice, efpecially as he addsto the lofs I have fuffered, an increafe of impofition, which can only be taken from the intereft of a capital al. ready diminiflied. Besides, to tax my negrowhat is it but to add to the price of his purchafe, the amount of the tax ? Now, the dearer negroes are, the lefs I (hall be able to purchafe ;--the lefs negroes, the lefs cultivation ; the lefs cultivation, the lefs produce. Reverfe the dilemma: the cheaper negroes are, the more I hall. be able to purchafe; the more negroes, the more cultivation; the more cultivation, the more produce.----In the name of common fenfe, then, and of common intereft, lay your tax on the produce- If,"" fays a modLrn writer of the firft reputation, ccthe under" taker of fome great manufadory, who employs a 'c thoufand a year in the maintenance of his ma" chinery, can reduce this expence to five hunf dred, in purchafing an additional quantity of c materials to be wrought up b- an additional fc number of workmen; the quantity of that work, "c therefore,
[ 71 ]
c" therefore, which his machinery was ufeful only c for performing, will naturally be augmented, c and with it all the advantage and conveniency CC which the fociety can derive from that work t."
If ever government fhould find it neceffary to, lay a duty on the exportation of flour, what should wqfay, if, inftad of charging a certain fum on every fack, it wero to place the impofition on the wheels of the mills which ground it?
Another confequence of this vicious mode of im-t pofition is, that the planter, to elude the weight ot it, makes falfe entries: and fuch is the facility, of concealing the number from the Exchequer, that there is fcarce an instance of the fraud's being de.teted. Thus, odious for its rapacity, and con-. temptible for its impotence, government trains up the Colonift in the hatred of the legiflator, and the ridicule of the laws.
I hope, Sir, that the importance of the fubjeaL will juftify the lengths to which I have gone in treating a queftion, involving at once the fovereign, the coloniffs, the commerce, and confequently the common good of the colonies, and the mother country ; by the latter of whom it should never be
+ Smith's Wealth of Nations. Vol. I. Book Chap.2.
forgotten, that fhe labours for her own advantage, while fihe endeavours to promote. the profperity of the former.
I hall referve for another letter the examination of two other important objets; the price of ne-. groes, and the expences of justice; and, terminate the prefent with an obfervation, which appears to me of the utmofi confequence, though it be not immediately connected with the preceding remarks.
The price of negroes increafes every day with an alarming rapidity. A picked negro, who coils at prefent near three thoufand livres, might have been purchafed a cehtury ago for three hundred*. If the price of the commodities they raife had in., creafed in the fame proportion, the evil would not have been great. But this is not the cafe; fince many fates, thofe in particular, who receivethe pro-' ductions of the colonies at the fecond or third hand, terrified at the exportation of fpecie, Which the flill-increafing prices of them occafion, have taken the moft juff, as well as the moff efficacious meafures to fet bounds to their confumption.'
On whom, then, muft finally fall the lofs which' refults from fo striking adifproportion between the
See 4Les Voyages du Sieur Le Maire." Page 73.
expence and the profits of cultivation?--On the cultivator.
From whence comes the evil ? and how can it be obviated ?
The firft, queftion I will endeavour to anfwer; the fecond mutt be left to the difcretion of government.
Nature proceeds with regularity. She balances, according to proportions which we may fometimes alter, but can 'never deifroy, loffes by fupplies; that is, deaths by births ; in fuch a manner that the earth may have at all times nearly the fame number of inhabitants. It is not her fault, if our crimes, our paffions, and our follies derange this, beautiful order ;-if our avarice tempts us to teaT
-ten inhabitants from one country, for the fake of adding one to another I
Yet this is what is done by the traffic in negroes The enormous confumption which the trade, a moft worthy rival of the peftilence, has occafioned on the coafts of Africa, has fo depopulated them, that the dealers are neceffitated to feek for flaves above a thoufand leagues up the country!
That the price of ore should increafe as the mine becomes more and more exhaufled, is a fimple propofition: but that it should be poffible to maintain a.juft proportiom between two-obje4:ts of exchange, one of which continues to rife in value in proportion to its ever-increafing fcarcity, while the othex, -bounded in its confumptio has already reached its maximum, is, in ny-,opinion, the molt extravagant of abfurdities.
We muft then look forward to an epoch, which is not, perhaps, fo diftant *as we m~y imagine;that of the total ceffation of the. flavie trade. Of two things one tmift happen:- either the difficulty of procuring flaves will raife their value fo high, as to- incapacitate the planter from. plrchafing them, or the Africans, enlightened by-experience, and terrified at a depopulation -yhich menaces a total deftru6tion, will of themfelvqc, denounce the traffic. The confequence of either fuppofition is the fame. It is impoffible but they mufftbe realized fooner or later: and I do not yet fee that any fReps have been taken to obviate the inevitable effect-the rujn of the colonies.
A calculation made in 1773, proves, that in a lapfe of two hundred and forty years, more than ten million of negroes have been imported into the colonies. At prefent, thefe fame colonies require more
more than one hundred thousand annually'; and if you add to this number, thofe who perifh in the wars to which this traffic gives birth, and in the middle paffage, by ficknefs, fhipwrecks, and revolts, you will find it neceffary to double it; which in a period of thirty years, carries the confumption to the amazing fum offix millions !.--I will now afk you, whether it be poffible that the population of Africa should not be fpeedily exhaufted?
7HE confequences of the exceffive price of negroes, with refpedt to the ulterior profperity of the colonies, may be underftood, Sir, without being particularly infifted on. As I may not again have an opportunity of recurring to this fubje't, I will tell you what fteps I have taken relative to it.
It is now more than four months ago, that, fur. prifed at the trifling profits the planters derived from their eftates, I fancied I muft feek for the fource of the evil in fomething besides their inat.
tention: and the dearnefs of negroes was pointed out to me.
Purfuing my refearches, I found that the Englifh of the neighbouring ifles privately furnished the colonifts, for twelve or fourteen hundred livres, with as good a black as they could buy of our traders for feven or eight and twenty hundred.
Overcome by the intreaties of fome of the inha. bitants, I took upon me to draw up, and tranfmit to the minifter of the marine, a memorial, in which I pointed out the neceffity of permitting the introdu6lion of four thoufand negroes in prohibited veffels: and, as I forefaw the objefion of the prejudice which this aaft of beneficence would occafion to the commerce of the mother country, I took ex. traordinary pains to demonftrate that it ought to be a matter of indifference to her, if I purchafed elfewhere, what Ihe was incapable of fupplying me with, but at a price above my means ; that what the might have gained, on theft four thoufand negroes (a gain, by the bye, fhe could not have made, fince they would not have been bought of her) would be more than compenfated by her profits on the produce of the induftry of the four thoufand additional labourers; that, all this well confidered, it would appear that the French commerce might felicitate itfelf on an ideal lofs, which would prove the
the fource of a real gain; and finally, that the advantages of this ufeful fpeculation would all centre in itfelf, fince it could only be fupported by the funds of the French merchants.
The minifter's anfwer was, That he fhould have been happy to have entered into my views ; that he felt all the advantages of them ;.--but, that he forefaw an invincible obstacle in the oppofition of the trade ---. !
It is difficult to conceive, Sir, why the government, which we ought to fuppofe always a6tuated by the love of the public good, does not prote&, more efficacioufly than it appears to do, the inter. ets of the planter againft the ufurpations of the trade. And it is a ufurpation, whenever you deftroy the equilibrium which ought to exift between all articles of exchange, by forbidding me to raife the price of my commodity in the fame proportion as you augment the value of yours. A single example will be fufficient.
To avoid fraaions, I will fuppofe that the planter fold his coffee, ten years ago, at the rate of five fols a pound, to the trader, who paid him in negroes at the rate of five hundred livres* a-piece. At
The price of a negro in 1700 was fix hundred livres, of a aegrefr four hundred and fifty.
E 78 ]
prefent, the highest price of coffee is from eighteen to twenty fols; that of a negro, from two rhoufand five hundred, to two thousand eight hundro, lIjyres. Thus, the trader who, to follow the proportion, and maintain the balance, fould have merely quadrupled his price, has at leaft quintupled it; and confequently ufurped a fifth.
We come now to what is here called Juftice, of which I fall fay but a word ; for when you learn that the tribunal of Jaquemel, compofed of a fenefchal, of a deputy judge, of two attorneygenerals, of a fecretary, four counfellors, four or five attorneys, and as many tipftaffs, cotl's one year with another more than four hundred thoufand livres, to the inhabitants of its little jurifdidion; you will eafily comprehend, why cultivation languifhes, and why the greater part of the planters, who owe constantly more than they are worth, vegetate in mifery, crapulence, and floth.
It would be fuperfluous to fay any more on this head, unlefs you should think it neccifary to know that the judges fit in a fecular habit, with a fword by their fide; and that Themis, in confideration of the exti eme heat of the climate, inftead of the thick bandage which covers her eyes elfewhere, plays at blindman's-buff here, with a light trip of tranfparent gauze over them. For the reft, you Imay
[ 79 ]
may be afflured, that ii eflimating the expence of juftice, I have rather gone below, than above, the truth: for I know more than one tipftaff here, who has picked up fifty or fixty thoufand livres, by ferving warrants, in what thofe facetious gentle-. men are pleafed to call, produflive years.
Do not, however, Sir, fuppofe me fo unjuft as to wifh to deprive commerce of its due fhare of influence on the habitual and general wretchednefs of the colonies. It is an ingenious manoeuvre, which does it too much honour to be fuppreffed; but which you will not comprehend unlefs I furnifh you with the neceffary documents. For this purpofe it will be expedient to look back a little.
9c The colonies were eftablifhed at the expence C of individuals: the hiftory of each clearly proves it."* It was neither then to the foresight, nor to the policy, nor to the humanity of fovereigns, that they owed their foundation, and leaft of all, that of Saint Domingo. It was to accident alone. Some Frenchmen, driven from Saint Kitts by the Spaniards, with other adventurers of their nation, together with a few Englifh, found themfelves on the western coaft of St. Domingo, then uninhabited. They eftablifhed themfelves there in x627, and
.R4chrchcs fur lcs Etats-Unis d'Amenriquc. Page 118.
were the original flock of the Flebufiers ; of thofe men, whofe audacity in undertaking, whofe pro. digious courage in executing the moft difficult enterprises, reduce to the level of childrens play, the fabulous exploits of the demi-gods of antiquity; and whofe ferocity occafioned one of their chiefs to be called MONBARS the EXTERMINATOR.
Difgufted with their vagabond and perilous mode of exiflence, fome of thefe extraordinary men, of whom the greater part were Englifh, betook themfelves to the ifle of Tortua *, (which they had made their magazine in i 630, after driving away about five and twenty Spaniards) on the coaft of Saint Domingo, -where they joined themfelves to the Buccaneers, a fpecies of hunters, whofe wandering and precarious habits of life, ferved the Flebuftiers as an intermediate ftep in their paffage from the Rate of failors and foldiers, to that of planters.
At firft occupied by the Engliih in 1638, under the command of Willis. A French engineer of the name of Le Vaffeur drove them out; adopted, with the title of prince, the manners of a tyrant, and was affaffinated by two of his nephews. Tortua then fell under the command of the Chevalier de Fontenay, who reRored it to the Spanilh; when a third adventurer, Defchampsdu Rauffet took it from them again in 1669, and five years afterwards, fold it to the Welt India Company. See Labat, Nouvea# Voyage aux Ijles Franfoifes de L'Ameriquc. Tom. 5. Chap. 6.
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Jwo things which Will always unite meti in fo. ciety clofer together, the neceffity of order, and of perpetuating themfelves, determined thefe new inhabitants to afk for a. chief, and for women. The government fent them at firft Duparquet, and foon after Bertrand d'Ogeron de la Bouere, a gentleman of Angers, who arrived on the fixth of June 1636. He was fucceeded by Ducaffe, and L'Arnage; and the fele~ion of thefe men, worthy in every refped to command others, proves that go-. vernments are not always deceived in the choice of thofe to whom they delegate a part of their power. Mild and firm," fays a modern hiftorian, fpeak-. ing of D'Ogeron," patient and adroit.; inftrucfted by misfortune, and the habitude of living with this ferocious people; cherished by them, and c refpec'ted by thofe above him, he was Rill fuperior to the opinion they had formed, I will not fay of his virtues, but of his talents.''*
The choice of women was lefs difficult to make. France, at that time, abounded with poor, induftrious, and modeft females, whofe fweet and ingenuous difpofitions would have foftened, nay, purified the morals of men, rather unformed than corrupted.
Hioirc Giniralc de lAfte, d I'Afriquc et de l'Amerique.