Map of Haiti
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 Part I: The island of Haiti
 Part II: Voudouism

Title: Unknown to the world, Haiti
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00081487/00001
 Material Information
Title: Unknown to the world, Haiti
Physical Description: 287 p. : front., illus. (plans) plates, ports. ; 22 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Steedman, Mabel
Publisher: Hurst & Blackett
Place of Publication: London
Publication Date: 1939
Copyright Date: 1939
Subject: Voodooism   ( lcsh )
Vaudou   ( rvm )
Description and travel -- Haiti   ( lcsh )
Descriptions et voyages -- Haïti   ( rvm )
Moeurs et coutumes -- Haïti   ( rvm )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Haiti
Bibliography: Bibliography: p. 279-281.
General Note: Map on lining-papers.
Statement of Responsibility: by Mabel Steedman.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00081487
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltuf - ADJ9305
oclc - 02991789
alephbibnum - 000659111
lccn - a 41003999

Table of Contents
    Map of Haiti
        Map 1
        Map 2
    Half Title
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Title Page
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Table of Contents
        Page 5
        Page 6
    List of Illustrations
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
    Part I: The island of Haiti
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 16a
        Page 16b
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 32a
        Page 32b
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36-37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42-43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 48a
        Page 48b
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 64a
        Page 64b
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 80a
        Page 80b
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 96a
        Page 96b
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 112a
        Page 112b
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 128a
        Page 128b
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 144a
        Page 144b
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
    Part II: Voudouism
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 160a
        Page 160b
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 176a
        Page 176b
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 192a
        Page 192b
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 208a
        Page 208b
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 224a
        Page 224b
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 240a
        Page 240b
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page A-1
        Page A-2
        Page A-3
        Page A-4
        Page A-5
        Page A-6
        Page A-7
        Page A-8
Full Text


Scale of Miles
o 10 20

30 40

Motor Roads
Second Class Roads -
Trails (In some cmes w ta en) -
Morseback asnot, marked
Towns used as Headquarters fbr visits S
into interior

0 A I


of Gonaives



/ 9







Made and Printed in Great Britain for
Hurst & Blackett, Ltd., Paternoster House, London, E.C.4, at
The Mayflower Press, Plymouth. William Brendon & Son, Ltd.





Arrival in Haiti .
Under Way .
Port-au-Prince to Cap Haitien
A Negro King's Autograph in Stone
In and Around Cap Haitien
Cap Haitien to Hinche
The Peasants .
Amusements and Curious Customs
Jacmel and District
Jacmel to J6rdmie .
J6r6mie to Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince to Saltrou
Kenscoff. .
Port-au-Prince .
Social Life .
The Music of Haiti .

XVII. Voudouism .
XVIII. Voudou Temples .
XIX. Voudou Drums and Voudou Dances
XX. The Sacrifice .
XXI. Possession .
XXII. Prophecy .

S 13
S 7
S 33
S 52

9 o
S 113
S 134

S 155
S 175
S 88


XXIII. The Voudou Pantheon
XXIV. Black Magic .
XXV. Source of Voudouism
XXVI. Traditional Voudou .
XXVII. Tree Worship .
XXVIII. Local Introductions into Voudouism
XXIX. Charlatans
XXX. Some Accounts of Haitian Voudou written between
the Years 1798 and 1929 .
XXXI. Conclusion


I. National Health Services .
II. Education
III. Department of Agriculture
IV. Hymne National
V. The Law Courts
VI. The Garde d'Haiti
VII. Prisons and Crime
VIII. Public Works .
IX. Government
X. Finance .
Bibliography .
Index .



President Vincent Front
Statue of Dessalines, Champs de Mars
Palace of Justice
National Palace
Typical Haitian Peasant
Crossing the Canot River .
Peasant Woman with Load of Gourds
Irrigation Ditch
Damien Agricultural College
Toussaint L'Ouverture
Sans Souci as it was in the days of Christophe
View of Sans Souci showing the little town of Milot
Gun Corridor
This Picture gives some idea of the massiveness of the con-
struction .
The Citadelle
Citadelle Christophe from the Air
Citadelle Christophe.
Henri Christophe
The Stone Staircase leading to the Main Entrance of Sans
Voudou Temple showing Boat of Agous
General View of the Hospital, Cap Haitien .
Peasant Homes
Coffee Mill
Sugar Mill
Market Scenes in Haiti where the Peasants are still in the
primitive state .
Cockfight .
Bride and Bridegroom, La Vall6e .
Peasants wearing Ouangas .
Roadside Cemetery .
Food for the Dead placed on Graves .



A Camion or Motor Bus 129
Hospital, Jacmel 129
St. Jacques Hotel, Bainet, with Proprietress in Doorway .129
Jean-Joseph Yaemon Dauphin, the Negro who turned white
under the ministrations of a Witch-doctor . 144
Marfranc 145
Market at Jeremie 145
Coffee Speculator 16o
Street in Aux Cayes 160
Sylvio Cator 161
New Roman Catholic Cathedral, Port-au-Prince 161
Technical School, showing Old Cathedral on right 176
The Iron Market .176
A Residence, Port-au-Prince 176
Two charming Young Ladies of Haiti 177
Normil Charles, Sculptor, at Work 177
Jean Baptiste, Bandmaster 192
Palace Band 192
Ludovic Lamothe 193
Justin Elie 193
Type of Coffee Mortar used by the Papaloi when possessed 208
Papa Nebo 208
Voudou Temple 209
Altar showing Sword and Sacred Stones 209
Three Priestesses 224
The Family of Voudou Drums 224
Altar showing Stones rather Human in Shape 224
Dressed Tree 225
Sacred Mapou Tree with Altar 225
Tree Ceremony 225
Rural School 240
Palace of Finance 240
Prisoners working in Cane Fields 241
Damien Agricultural College Students. 241
Group of Red Cross Nurses 241

In the Text
Front Elevation, Sans Souci Palace 36 and 37
Palace of Sans Souci (layout in Christophe's Reign) 39
Citadelle Henri Christophe 42 and 43


THE TRAGIC and dramatic history of Haiti appealed vividly
to my imagination and for some years I contemplated a visit
to the island.
The extermination of the aboriginal inhabitants as a direct
result of the cruelty of the Spaniards who enslaved them; the
colonization by the French who imported millions of Negroes
from Africa as slaves; the revolt of the slaves against the
treatment received from their French masters and against the
armies of Napoleon, resulting in the victory and independence
of the blacks; what other country could provide a story so
thrilling ?
Tales of cannibalism, of human sacrifices, the mystery sur-
rounding Voudouism, and the fact that Haiti is recognized as the
world's chief centre of Black Magic were rather alarming.
However, the mystery surrounding the country intrigued me,
and I decided that, come what might, I would go there.
Writings and discussions on such subjects as Are the Negroes
capable of governing themselves ? Are Negroes able to
benefit by education to the same extent as the white people ? "
varied so much in their conclusions that a personal investigation
seemed to be the only possible method of solving the problems.
The debatable point as to whether the Negro Race can success-
fully compete and compare with the White Races in attaining
a high degree of civilization must be decided by the reader.
In the following pages I have endeavoured to give a true,
accurate, and unbiased account of Haiti to-day.
Apart from mentioning the places of historical interest I have
refrained from narrating the history as the reader who wishes
for a deeper insight into the subject can consult specialized
As explained in the narrative, considerable time elapsed before
I could gather much useful information on the secret Voudou
Cult, therefore I must ask the reader to exercise the same

patience as I had to do if the greater part of the result of my
research on that subject is postponed to the later chapters.
In these days it is difficult to find any part of the world
where, in peace-time, travel is a real adventure. After spending
several months in exploring Haiti I can quite definitely say that
anyone who ventures into the interior of that island, who visits
the peasants dwelling in the mountains and the forests, will
experience as many thrills as he may desire. He will have
countless difficulties to overcome and discomforts to endure, but
the mysterious and the unexpected lurking around every comer
will lure him on.
Haiti will always remain in my memory as the Mystic Island
where such amazing and baffling contrasts are found that life
seems unreal, as though you were living in a dream, sometimes
in a nightmare.
My visit provided so much in the way of unusual experiences
and hitherto unobtained information that I feel impelled to hand
on the story, such as it may be, for the benefit of those who may
be curious to hear about this little-known Republic.
To all the Haitians and people of other nationalities who have
helped me to gather my material, I offer my grateful thanks.




IT WAS very early one morning that I caught my first glimpses
of Port-au-Prince. Sea and sky rivalled one another in vividness
of colouring, the sea flashing as though with a myriad jewels,
and the deep blue of the sky flecked with wisps of fleecy cloud.
Ahead lay the mystic isle of Haiti, with strange secrets hidden
among those verdure-clad mountains.
The entrance to the harbour lies between two protecting arms
of land that at first glance appear to be islands, so indented is
the coast-line. Tiny fishing-boats were skimming over the
harbour waters, their single sails bellying out before the morning
breeze: and there, at the end of the harbour, lay Port-au-
Prince, many-coloured in that early morning clearness, and
cheerful against the vivid green of the hills that form its
background. The main portion of the town encircles the water-
front, but on the lower slopes of the hills, protecting the city, as
it were, stands the cathedral, glistening white in the clear
As we steamed in slowly the spirit of Haiti seemed waiting to
meet me, those two arms of land on either side were drawing me,
not wholly willing, into an intimacy that already I even began
subconsciously to dread. For I knew that there was something
more to Haiti than blue waters and green mountain-sides.
In the excitement of landing-and seasoned traveller as I
am, I never miss a thrill of anticipation when I first set foot in a
strange land or new town-I forgot any tremors I may have felt
and began to look about me with keen interest. I had been
given to understand that everything in Haiti was extremely
primitive, even uncomfortable according to English standards.
But a few minutes on the quayside at Port-au-Prince corrected
that idea. The customs officials might have given many a
European douanier a lesson in courtesy and consideration;
and although the taxi-drivers who swooped down on me seemed
engaged in some terrific tribal quarrel that only death or


dumbness could settle, they were full of smiles and laughing good
humour to me. When finally I engaged a cheerful Negro, who
spoke some English, the roar of battle subsided and the erstwhile
combatants settled down to snooze or gamble in perfect peace
with one another. After a little experience of the Haitians I
realized that when Cr6ole is spoken rapidly it always sounds as
though a violent altercation is in progress.
Having told my cheerful Negro to which hotel I wanted him
to take me, we set off at a tremendous speed; yet short and
hurried as the journey was, in those few minutes I had to revise
entirely all my preconceived notions of Haiti. In place of the
crude and primitive town I had expected, I found myself in an
up-to-date and beautiful city. We drove through the Champ de
Mars-an astonishingly well-laid-out and extensive square-
where I saw the white Presidential Palace and other government
buildings that would have been an ornament to any European
city in their handsome lines and dignified style. Standing out
as they did against the green background of the hills, they
formed a picture that I have never forgotten. Farther on we
paused at the statue of Dessalines, while my driver told me, as
far as his English would carry him, the story of that great Negro
liberator. And then, as we drove on through streets lined with
trees and gardens ablaze with tropical flowers, the dimly uneasy
presentiment of Haiti that had come to me as we entered the
harbour vanished in the sunlight. I had come to one of the
loveliest cities in the world, and I almost persuaded myself that
I was going to be happy.
The Splendid Hotel was a fine white mansion covered with
purple bougainvillea. It stood in a luxuriant garden in which
was a tiled pond where a turtle lived. A broad veranda,
sheltered from the tropical sun by gaily coloured awnings,
was used as the dining-room, and the sight of its many little
tables with their snow-white cloths and glistening cutlery and
glass gave the final blow to any notion that I had come to a
primitive land.
A Haitian lady of great charm came forward to greet me
when I arrived. She was the proprietress and actually this
hotel had once been her private house; difficult times had
made her look about, and with singular courage and not a

little skill she had turned her old home into an hotel. The
equipment was of the most up-to-date-bedrooms with shower-
baths attached, electric cooking, refrigerators, and all the
latest improvements and appliances to be found in America.
I chose a room in the annexe, a long building containing
eight bedrooms, each with its bathroom and a private balcony.
These rooms led off a corridor with glassless windows, over-
looking a tree-lined courtyard where three Negresses spent the
day washing clothes to a spotless whiteness, to the accom-
paniment of ceaseless chatter and laughter, interrupted
occasionally with some crooning song.
And so I settled at the Hotel Splendid; a peaceful little
world of our own, it seemed, that was apart, yet not remote,
from Black Magic and the primitive life that-although as yet
from a distance-I began to realize with increasing force
was inseparably bound up with Haiti. There was a strange
medley of guests at the hotel. One night after dinner eight of
us were chatting together when we discovered that every
member of the party was of a different nationality-German,
French, Japanese, Spanish, Dutch, Haitian, American, and
English. It would have made a curious record if someone
had put down what we were each doing in the island !
What with sightseeing and making friends my days were
busy enough and I might have been in any one of the string
of West Indian islands that join the two Americas: yet from
the time of my arrival I was conscious of a mystery in the
scented air of Haiti such as I had never experienced before-
a feeling of silent expectance, as if something extraordinary
was about to happen. In this splendidly equipped modern
hotel, full of the latest inventions of our matter-of-fact civiliza-
tion, one became aware of a mysterious side of life not yet
explored, and dimly inimical. With the coming of darkness
this apprehensiveness grew more intense; everything seemed
to change. There were, of course, the usual tropical night
visitors in the shape of huge moths and beetles, not to mention
Ithe thousands of smaller insects that flashed in strange metallic
Iustres when their wings caught the lamp-light. There were
lizards, too, darting to and fro, and sometimes larger flying
cockroaches whose presence was far from welcome.

But it takes more than moths and beetles to affect my
spirits. As the darkness grew deeper the night began to grow
more and more eerie. Distant drums with their regular
" houm, doum, do," accompanied by African chants in un-
familiar modes, and over all a sort of expectancy, warned me
that all Haiti was not like Port-au-Prince. I am not a person
given to qualms and fancies, but during those nights I found
myself subject to a state of nervousness that no common-sense
reasoning would calm. The everlasting drums in the mountains
were a leitmotiv that gave an air of uneasiness to the thousand
and one sounds of the night, the snatches of Negro song from
a nearby hut, the sudden rushing of howling dogs, the inces-
sant chirp of the crickets, the loud croaking of frogs in the
garden pond, the strange whispering of the trees and, above
all, curious patterings and shufflings for which I could never
account. Night began to be a horror for me ; I got frightened
of I knew not what, rose to close my windows and shut out I
knew not what, peered into the darkness looking for I knew
not what. Finally, as if purposely to add to my disquietude,
hundreds of cocks started crowing at the first glimmering of
dawn, and wakened me from troubled sleep, in which their
horrid noise sounded like the frightful cries from some fiend's
torture chamber.
But it was just this spirit of Haiti that I had come to find
-and if possible understand. There was nothing to be gained
by letting my nerves run away with me. I had not come to
the island to stay at Port-au-Prince, amid the comforts of the
" Splendid." My purpose was to solve the mystery of the
unknown, if that were possible, and to understand the true
significance of the drums and chants-in other words, to learn
what Voudou is.
So I sought out the British Consul and got from him letters
of introduction to each of the ten other British people in the
island. I already had letters to Haitian government officials,
and from them I met with nothing but consideration and
kindness. They introduced me to a number of estimable
people who became my friends and helped me make my
arrangements for visiting the interior of the island.



ri r l p7 r ~iU~I

The Dessalines-Pt'tion Mausoleum in centre of gardens.

r~. ~


Champs de Mars, showing National Palace and Palace of Finance.



I MUST CONFESS I did not receive much encouragement
for my tour of the island. People who had been there all
their lives and knew whatever was to be known told me that
I should have to provide my own transport and go on roads
that were at times scarcely negotiable. I confess to.a slight
damping of my enthusiasm, although the matter of abandoning
my motor car and making my way over narrow and dangerous
trails on horseback actually made me more than ever anxious
to start on my travels. If only those ten Britons I mentioned
previously had distributed themselves at convenient distances
in my itinerary instead of all being grouped in Port-au-Prince
and Cap Haitien, they would have earned my gratitude and
toned up my shaken confidence. However, fortune favours the
brave, I said to myself, and with this trite consolation I made
plans for starting the long journey. How would 3,000,000
coloured people receive me ? Were the stories of cannibalism
and Voudou orgies that guide-books gloated over still true in
the interior ? That was the question I had come to solve.
Could I do so ? If possible I meant to, but would it be possible ?
The car I had secured was a well-known make and calculated
to withstand the strain of jolting over savannahs, fording
rivers and other exacting tests. Fortune also favoured me in
obtaining the services of a highly efficient chauffeur and inter-
preter. He was a mulatto named Diogenes Moretta, who spoke
French, Spanish, English, and Cr6ole. However unpleasant
and difficult a trip might be, I never knew him anything but
cheerful and helpful, more important still, he always stood
between me and danger.
Owing to the unbearable heat of midday we usually set
out about 4 a.m. I wish I could describe the beauty and charm
of those early risings, when the morning star and the moon
were still visible, when the sky became flushed with rose before,
as though by the waving of a magician's wand, day broke.
B T7

Tiny flickering fires by the roadside showed where peasants
had camped with their donkeys and were cooking breakfast
preparatory to resuming the trek to the nearest market town,
often 40 or even 50 miles from their homes. Unfortunately
not all of these weary marchers possessed donkeys; the women
who did not, boldly faced the alternative of balancing heavy
burdens on their heads. One meets streams of these market-
bound people along every road.
Haiti is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
Mighty mountain ranges are intersected by deep, mysterious
gorges and wide, fertile valleys. Sometimes the road leads
through a density of tangled growth so nearly impenetrable
that one wonders how the original roadmakers ever found their
way or succeeded in cutting a path. Then again there are
desert areas where spiked, fantastic cacti stand like sentinels,
alternating with plains of waving sugar-cane. Close by the
sea, small fishing villages nestle near palm-fringed beaches
with sands of dazzling white kissed by the waters of a blue
sea that seems as iridescent as butterfly wings. From all of
which it would appear that motoring in Haiti must be a real
joy; it is, but troubles and the unforeseen somehow seem of more
frequent occurrence than there is real call for During the dry
spell travelling was very pleasant, though we were badly
shaken; but after tropical rains, which fall frequently and
unexpectedly, we were apt to find the joy in memory only.
Sticky mud, often a foot or more deep, made the car skid in
hair-raising fashion, finally to come to a standstill usually far
from a village. There it was immovably stuck until kindly
peasants scraped the road and literally made a new one in
front with stones.
Bridges were few and rivers so winding that we sometimes
had to ford them twenty times a day. After travelling for eight
or nine hours it was not uncommon to reach the brink of a wide,
tearing river-a raging torrent. We would look at it in despair,
remembering that our destination lay some 40 or 50 miles on the
other side. We had a threefold choice: we could ford it;
go back the way we had come ; or wait until the flood had gone
down. Sadly contemplating the swirling waters Moretta
would suddenly say : I am going " No No I would

cry in an agony of apprehension, "we shall certainly be
drowned." However, after crossing himself, and praying to the
Almighty and St. Christopher, he would let in the clutch and
make the car plunge forward to the sound of a despairing cry
from me.
Swaying, bumping, grinding, slipping over the smooth
stones of the river bed, water well over the running-boards,
lurching drunkenly onwards, we would progress until a crunch-
ing sound was heard, and we settled farther down in the water
unable to move. Gurgling notes of protest from the engine
or a rather whining sort of br-brrrrrrrrrr-- the wheels
spinning round and throwing up water like a mill wheel.
Br-brrr- again, but no forward movement. Oh, St.
Christopher, where are you ? "
Sounding the klaxon madly and shouting at the top of our
voices, the noise we made travelled afar into the silence of the
country, eventually bringing peasants running to work with a
will, pushing, pulling or even actually lifting our car out of the
hole. Sometimes the Chief of Police for a district sent a gang
of convicts under armed guard, to await our arrival on the
banks of a river in case we needed assistance. It was as well
he did so, for there were times when we might have been in the
imprisoned car for many weary hours.
The thrill of fording rivers, however, paled into insignificance
before that of skidding along narrow roads on the brink of
precipices thousands of feet deep, roads so narrow that there
was no possibility of two cars passing one another. Fortun-
ately few cars traverse these mountain roads, and the contin-
gency never arose so far as I was concerned. After storms,
sections of road are frequently washed away, and more than
once we rounded a curve to find that the road beyond had
simply vanished.
It was no uncommon thing to find fallen trees across the
road, and on such occasions we were glad that we had had the
foresight to take an axe. Frequently the road ended abruptly
a few miles from the town we wished to visit, and this meant
bumping for long distances over rough savannahs. There were
other incidents on the journey that made for excitement. On
some occasions I was really scared when men left their work in

the fields on seeing the car, and came shouting and waving
their sharp machetes in the air. The correct attitude in the
circumstances, I learned, was to affect pleasure at meeting
them and say in Cr6ole that we would be pleased to hear their
news-this formality being the usual Creole greeting.
At all hours one hears singing and the rhythmic sound of the
work-drums, to the regular cadence of which the labourers toil
while cultivating the land. With a pleasant smile and a cheery
greeting, peasants at their hut doors would shout: Hello,
blanc Hello, By-bye accompanied at times by an invitation
to enter the caille, as a hut is called.
In many little towns the whole population turned out to
examine the first motor car they had ever seen : the consterna-
tion caused in some of the outlying districts was amusing, for
many at first would scream and run away, but eventually
they would join the throng that gathered round chattering like
I have spoken of the eeriness so apparent at night in Port-au-
Prince. In the country this is a hundred times more evident.
Motoring after dark in Haiti is none too safe. Voudou drums
beat out their strange, wild rhythms, crowds of peasants dance
along to the music of drums, basque drums, tinkling bells,
police whistles, and a sort of large tambourine which emits a
booming note when tapped with the knuckles and the thumb
drawn across it. As though this did not produce sufficient
noise, they chant at the top of their voices. Some balance
tiny lighted oil lamps on their heads; others carry small
lamps in their hands, whilst a few hold aloft long tridents with
a blazing torch at the end of each prong. The tridents and
flickering lights give the impression of a religious procession.
When we met them the dancers always surrounded the car
and compelled us to halt. To me it was a nerve-racking experi-
ence to be a prisoner in a car hemmed in by natives chanting
so persistently, and dancing as though demented. It becomes
increasingly tiresome in Haiti to have to think carefully before
you speak or act. You are in a country where Black rules
White, and however friendly the people seem to be, one is
always conscious that it would not only be unwise but dangerous
to offend them. So I invariably and ostentatiously took a

great interest in their dances. After I had spoken friendly words
the leader of the dance would start to impress me with his
ability, and the others would fall back a little to give him more
scope. The leader usually carries a baton three or four feet
long covered with lead foil and with a rattle at each end. This
he would twirl with the utmost rapidity and with the skill of
a drum-major. He comports himself in this circus fashion
while blowing a whistle and dancing as only a Negro can
dance, using every muscle of his body. The darkness, broken
only by the head-lights of the car and the flickering lights
held by the dancers, the babel of sound, the swaying figures
all round, men and women on the running boards chattering
Creole, combine to make a thrilling though somewhat alarming
spectacle. At last the procession moves on and you breathe
more freely.
In order to explore Haiti thoroughly I motored to centres
in different parts of the island to which roads were available,
and from these centres hired what horses I required either
from a private individual or from the Gendarmerie. The Garde
d'Haiti never failed to oblige me in this respect at a reasonable
rate. In the story of my travels I have not given a detailed
account of my trail riding, but have summarized the informa-
tion gathered and the things seen in the chapters on Peasants
and their Amusements and Customs, and in the section devoted
to Voudouism and Black Magic.
Outside of Port-au-Prince there are no hotels in Haiti really
worthy of the name. In the large towns one can always find
accommodation in private houses as a paying guest, but where
to stay in the country districts presented a real problem. I
sometimes had to travel nine, twelve, or even fifteen hours in
the car or on horseback before I could reach my destination,
by which time, owing to the intense heat and rough going, I
was utterly exhausted. Whenever possible I stayed at the
house of a French priest, a Protestant missionary, or an officer
of the Garde d'Haiti.
Nor did accommodation present the only difficulty. Once
away from the large towns the question of food and drink called
for careful consideration. I dared not drink the water for
fear of typhoid, although the natives seem able to consume

contaminated water with impunity. We carried water in
huge thermos jars, but however careful we might be, there was
never enough. As a reserve we once carried a supply of soda
water, but we drank so liberally owing to the sweltering heat
that we became ill. Haiti is inexpressibly hot, especially
between April and November, an inferno unfit for white people
-hence the saying that anyone who has lived there for any
length of time would need two blankets in hell The temptation
to drink from a clear stream is almost irresistible, but the
thought of typhoid, typhoid constantly rises before the mind
as a danger signal; also it has to be remembered that farther
up the brook it is more than likely that cattle are standing in
the water, and men, women, and children bathing. The
peasants are very clean, and every stream has bathers and
launderers: the women frequently remove their clothes and,
standing in the river, wash them by beating them on the rocks,
place them on the banks to dry, and then put them on again.
Haitian rum is probably the best in the world, wine is cheap
and good, but when, as happened fairly often, the choice lay
between one or other of these beverages for breakfast, neither
seemed particularly attractive. Milk could easily be obtained,
in fact you could have milked any cow you came across and
nobody would have raised a complaint, but as milch cattle in
outlying districts are not subject to even a perfunctory inspec-
tion, tuberculosis is rife among them and the consumption of
milk is therefore fraught with danger to health. Butter is not
made locally, and the imported commodity is purchasable only
in the larger towns. Butchers' meat is coarse and unpalatable
and must be cooked immediately in the open market where the
beasts have been slaughtered. Insanitary methods in the
growth of vegetables bar them for food, and as fish, when
obtainable, so often proves poisonous to white people, I felt
bound to strike it off the menu. In short, all food is suspect,
but as one must eat to live, risks have to be taken. I ate the
local boiled rice and beans, which is the staple food of the
peasants, also jong-jong, a dish composed of rice mixed with a
small variety of mushroom. It is quite black and at first tastes
delicious, but when confronted by it three or four times a day
both palate and stomach rebel; indeed I fancy I taste it now

as I write these lines. Fortunately, we could buy a dozen or
more bananas for a coin of the value of our halfpenny; these
with boiled plantains and occasionally eggs constituted welcome
changes, the latter, hard boiled, filling a useful place in the
cross-country lunch basket. Citrus fruits are grown only in
certain sections of Haiti, but, when obtainable, shaddocks,
oranges, and limes were a godsend.
The whole country is infested with ants, so much so, indeed,
that to drop a little fruit juice or a speck of food summons a
seething mass to engage in a furious struggle for its possession.
I have a lively recollection of a breakfast at Saltrou. Amongst
other comestibles we had with us a fruit salad which we opened
for supper (it was, of course, canned), but when the remains
were served for breakfast we had to skim off ants by the spoonful
before we could eat it. Had we been hungrier perhaps our
uninvited, industrious little guests would have shared the fate
of the fruit. One cannot use much canned food as the price is
I am inclined to think that an attack of food poisoning from
which I narrowly escaped death was caused by eating red fish,
about the size of a herring, cooked and eaten whole, eyes
included, and served with beans and onions. Instinctively I
was disinclined to partake of it, but as I was the guest of
a Haitian family whose hospitality I frequently enjoyed and
whose friendship I held in high esteem, I did not wish to give
offence by refusing the food they were good enough to provide.
Travel in Haiti is interesting, indeed fascinating, but is a
fairly hard proposition for a white person.


I FELT THAT I had better start my investigations by going
north to Cap Haitien, to see the Citadelle and to try to live
over in imagination the dramatic history of Haiti in the
region where most of the outstanding events had been enacted.
We started at 4.30 a.m. and left the town by the wide
road that leads past the Damien Agricultural College. For a
time our route took us through the great plain of the Cul-de-Sac
where we could look over countless acres of waving green
sugar-cane. We frequently crossed railway tracks and saw the
" concentrated sunshine being conveyed to the mill in
trucks drawn by funny little engines. No passenger trains
run over these lines. More picturesque were the carts laden
with cane and drawn by plodding oxen, urged forward by
much cracking of long whips and shouts from their bare-
footed drivers.
The road was wide, yet the stream of peasants plodding
along to market travelled in single file. I suppose this is due
to the fact that for centuries their African ancestors journeyed
along narrow forest trails, so that even in districts where it is
not necessary, the habit persists.
The luxuriance of the vegetation was remarkable, and I
could understand how much of the wealth of Haiti has always
been drawn from the rich soil of the Cul-de-Sac. Even in
Colonial days the great plain was crossed by excellent roads
and there were numerous estates of great magnificence owned
by French planters who accumulated enormous wealth.
We came upon the ruins of one of these French mansions
and stopped to inspect it. Little of the house remained and
the ground had been dug up in every direction by treasure-
hunters. This sort of thing happens near all the ruined
mansions, for when the Revolution came the French had
to leave their homes at short notice and many of them buried
their most treasured possessions, such as jewellery and even

money, in the hope that they would be able to return some
day. Judging by pieces of cutlery that I have seen in the
most unlikely places in various parts of the island, some of
the treasure-seekers must have been lucky.
Not far from the ruined mansion was a great aqueduct,
that dated back to 1784; this is now in use again. The old,
disused sugar-mill and rum factory must have been a large
and prosperous one. The enormous water-wheel and all the
machinery was intact but rusty. Many of the old mills that
were allowed to fall into decay after the French were expelled
in 1804 have been restored to use. This one, however, is
still silent, the great crushing-machines, huge vats, and boilers
are just as they were left so long ago. It must have been a
busy scene in those far-off days, when the wheels were turning
and the vats were full of steaming molasses watched by African
slaves, while others toiled in the sweltering cane-fields nearby.
We could see the tower with a platform where a sentinel
watched the slaves at work : the least pause was signalled
and the culprit lashed with a whip. This great estate was
owned by a man named Caradeux whose cruelty was proverbial.
It was men like Caradeux who roused the slaves to rebellion,
for he was one of the first to keep bloodhounds trained to
tear Negroes to pieces. Unfortunately other planters followed
this man's example and even excelled him in other unspeak-
able cruelties. At last the slaves were roused to such a pitch
of fury that they started to plot against their tyrannical
masters. One may note, in passing, that at the outbreak of
the Revolution planters and their families who had treated
their slaves with consideration, such as the owner of the
Breda Plantation, where Toussaint L'Ouverture worked,
were protected and taken to a place of safety until the slaves
were able to escort them to the coast and see them safely
on a ship.
Owing to the very heavy death-rate on the slave ships
and in Haiti at one time and another, millions of slaves have
been taken from Africa to work on the 8ooo plantations that
existed in the island in Colonial days.
To-day this old home of Caradeux is forlorn and forbidding,
and the atmosphere is that of a place where there has been

much misery. Guinea-hens were running around the deserted
mill in considerable numbers. As there are often fifteen in
a brood these birds are abundant in most parts, and hunting
guinea-fowl is a favourite sport as they are good to eat, the
flesh having a very delicate flavour. They were introduced
into Haiti many years ago.
As we journeyed northwards the road ran close to the sea
for many miles, and I wondered if any country in the world
could be more beautiful. I have visited the Hawaiian Islands,
and when I was there I thought I had found an earthly Paradise
unequalled in any part of the globe: but in its own way
Haiti is as beautiful. But though a land of such charm it has
always been a land of suffering and torment. When you
know its history you realize that its soil has been soaked in
blood, that its air has vibrated to the cries of suffering and
tortured humanity. It is difficult to remember this, as you
speed along by the brilliant blue waters that break so gently
on the silver sand.
While mu3ing upon these things we passed through the
prosperous little town of Arcahaie where, in 1804, the victorious
Dessalines stood on the shore, and tore the tricolour of France
into three strips. The white strip he trampled underfoot,
the red and blue strips were stitched together to become the
flag of the Republic of Haiti and the symbolic emblem of
black freedom. To-day the national colours are blue and red
placed in horizontal bands.
On this road to Cap Haitien there are several filling stations
with modern petrol pumps that may not enhance the beauty,
but are certainly a boon to motorists.
There are impediments on the road, however, for donkeys,
goats, pigs, and fowls wander at large, though some effort
has been made to keep the big pigs within bounds by putting
enormous wooden collars with ends projecting for a foot or
more around their necks. These pigs are black with very
long snouts, ugly creatures, rather like peccaries in appear-
ance, and they love to wallow in the mud, often lying with
only their snouts above the slime. Pigs and goats are a terror
to the motorist, for they wander all over the roads. The
goats are fairly sensible and get out of the way when a car

approaches, but the movements of little pigs are most erratic :
they squeal and run to safety, then lose their heads and
commit suicide by turning and dashing right under the wheels.
Outside the small houses near the towns men can be seen
making rattan chairs, baskets, or hats. Piles of the baskets or
chairs can be carried on the head. The Haitian peasants
carry everything on their heads. I have seen them carrying the
strangest things in this way, such as a peeled orange, a small
piece of bread, and-strangest of all-a wheelbarrow.
It is not only the scenery that contributes to the beauty
and pleasure of the journey. Great gorgeous butterflies flit
hither and thither in contrast to tiny, tiny blue-winged butter-
flies with red bodies, their wings edged with white, and with
black ones which always seem to move in groups. Dragon-
flies are numerous, some transparent and colourless, others
of vivid hues. The birds are most fascinating. I noticed
enormous masses of sticks in the tops of trees, especially in
the royal palm trees, and was told they were the nests of palm
chats. These gigantic nests are often 6 or 7 feet in diameter
and are regular features of the landscape. They are really
community dwellings, for as many as sixteen or even twenty
birds occupy one nest, each pair of birds having a private
apartment which opens to the outside. It is amusing to
watch them building a nest, for they work in groups, as many
as six birds pulling and twisting at the sticks, working them
firmly into place. The sticks chosen are about the diameter
of a lead pencil. Palm chats seem to be very friendly and out-
bursts of sound come from the nests. They search for food
in small parties and are so affectionate in many cases that
they perch close together, their bodies touching. They are
about 8 inches long with a moderately long tail. These interest-
ing and sociable birds are peculiar to Haiti.
We reached St. Marc, the principal port for the shipment
of cotton. It seemed to me a wretched town, and I have
never changed my opinion. Of all Haitian towns I like it
the least.
Shortly after leaving St. Marc we left the main road in order
to visit two places of unusual interest, Petite Riviere de
L'Artibonite and La Crite-A-Pierrot. We went first to La


Crete-a-Pierrot, which marked the scene of the greatest battle
fought during the Revolution. To-day the spot once occupied
by the fort is enclosed, planted with flowers, and beautifully
kept according to the wishes of the present President of Haiti.
On every hand stretched the peaceful Artibonite Valley,
richly green and pervaded by a drowsy quiet. Strange how
men will fight and kill even in the loveliest spots on earth.
Here in March, 1802, the French attacked the Negroes who
were defending the fort under the leadership of Toussaint
L'Ouverture and Dessalines. Four times they attacked and
each time were beaten off, leaving the blacks victorious. A
few days later, however, the French renewed the attack and
the roar of cannon and the cries of the wounded and dying
echoed once more through the valley. Fifteen hundred
French soldiers were killed, but provisions ran out at the
fort and the blacks were forced to abandon it. With almost
superhuman courage they hacked a way through the French
lines, losing half their men. The three Negro Generals,
Toussaint, Dessalines, and Christophe, were obliged to sur-
render, but Dessalines had told his men that if he surrendered
a hundred times it was only that he might return to the
struggle once again. Two years were to elapse before he
defeated the French, and in the interim Toussaint had been
smuggled to France.
At the present time a great irrigation scheme is being carried
out in this valley which will make 60,ooo acres of rich alluvial
soil available for better cultivation. This is one of the few
places in Haiti where it may prove advisable to have large
plantations for the growing of bananas and cotton. Generally
speaking, the system of small holdings is better for the country.
About half a mile from the battle-field we came to Petite
Riviere where we visited one of the numerous palaces that
were built by Christophe during his reign. This is known as
the Palais aux Cent Portes." It has been restored and is
now used as the Municipal Offices. Like all Christophe's
buildings, it is of unusual and even beautiful architecture.
All the windows and doors are arched and it is because they
are so numerous that it came to be known as the Palace
with one hundred doors." Christophe's reception-room is

kept as it was in his day. It is circular and contains a bust of
the king under which is inscribed:
H. Christophe n6 en 1767
Roi d'Haiti 1811-1820
Je renais de mes cendres.
(I shall rise from my ashes.)
Another tablet on the wall states that the palace was built
in 1816. We found the building delightfully cool and airy,
and when we came out the sun seemed unbearably hot. Out-
side the building I was rather astonished to see a Negro playing
the bagpipes. These bagpipes, however, were smaller than
those used in Scotland and had a sweeter, more delicate tone.
I never saw any other bagpipes in Haiti and have always felt
curious as to where the man could have obtained them. I
also saw two men wearing suits that were covered with patches
in vivid hues and of colours contrasting violently with the
original material. There were so many of these patches that
the men seemed to be dressed in patchwork. These I learned
were Voudou patches and were worn as a penance. You see
men and women wearing Voudou patches wherever you go in
Haiti, but I never saw anyone with so many as these two men,
so came to the conclusion that they must have greatly offended
the Voudou gods.
Leaving Petite Riviere with some reluctance we drove on to
the little town of Dessalines and visited the church where
Dessalines worshipped when he lived here after being made
Emperor. Poor Dessalines, a tyrant he undoubtedly became,
but events no doubt made him what he was. As a slave he
could not submit to authority and, in consequence, was con-
stantly enduring punishment. Throughout the Revolution he
proved to be a magnificent soldier, possessing superb courage
and ferocious energy, under his generalship the slaves of Haiti
drove out the French and became masters. He was known as
"The Tiger." With what high hopes he must have become
Emperor! But his lack of education and more particularly
his tempestuous nature proved his undoing, and it was from
this little town, named after him, that he set off one day in
18o6 on his last ride to Port-au-Prince. He never got there,

for he was assassinated on the outskirts at the Red Bridge
not far from Damien.
Somewhere between Dessalines and Gonaives we came to a
desert section where cacti grew in infinite variety. This was
succeeded by a swamp-not a dreary place, but one of amazing
interest. On either side of the road, which ran right through
the centre, were water-fowl innumerable, rainbow-hued and
peculiar. There were gorgeous flamingos: herons, white,
blue, and green : flocks of ducks winging their way to some
unknown destination : terns : roseate spoonbills, and myriads
of birds large and small that were unknown to me. This was
a cheerful, lively, noisy swamp such as I had never seen
before. I think there would be much work for an ornithologist
in these Haitian swamps and forests. A lot of research work
remains to be done, and the traveller must depend largely on
his own efforts, and make inquiries himself before he can come
to any useful conclusions about the place.
The town of Gonaives proved extremely interesting, clean,
and well built. At the dock we found a procession of men
loading coffee on to a ship. One was beating a drum while
the others carried sacks on their backs, while chanting the
same air over and over again. I felt somewhat saddened, for
I remembered that it was here at Gonaives that Toussaint
L'Ouverture, the victim of the basest treachery, was arrested
and secretly deported to France to languish and die in the
fortress of St. Joux, his whereabouts unknown to all who
loved him. Whenever I think of Toussaint I feel sad. He was
a great and noble man, a genius who never spared himself
in his efforts to free his fellow-slaves from exploitation and
misery. As the boat carried him away from all he held dear,
he said to a French officer: You have cut down the trunk of
the tree of black liberty, but that tree will bloom again for its
roots are deep and strong." He was right. The betrayal of
their leader aroused the blacks to a supreme effort for the
complete freedom they eventually gained. The treatment of
Toussaint shocked even the whites, and Wordsworth wrote :
"Toussaint, the most unhappy Man of Men !
Whether the whistling rustic tend his plough
Within thy hearing, or thy head be now
Pillow'd in some deep dungeon's earless den

0 miserable Chieftain where and when
Wilt thou find patience ? Yet die not : do thou
Wear rather in thy bonds a cheerful brow :
Though fallen thyself, never to rise again,
Live, and take comfort. Thou hast left behind
Powers that will work for thee : air, earth and skies.
There's not a breathing of the common wind
That will forget thee : thou hast great allies ;
Thy friends are exultations, agonies,
And love, and Man's unconquerable mind."
While watching the loading of the ship and listening to the
singing, I also recalled that here, on January I, 1804, the
chiefs of the Negro armies met and swore to abjure for ever
allegiance to France, to die rather than live under her domina-
tion, and to fight to the last for the preservation of our inde-
pendence." The country, which had been known as San
Domingue, had its old name restored. Haiti it was called when
inhabited by the aboriginal Indians who were exterminated by
the Spaniards. The word signifies" high or mountainous land."
Leaving Gonaives, the road followed a river until we arrived
at Ennery, which stands out in my memory as the only
place on a main road boasting a really good caf6, supplying
excellent food and coffee. The village is of interest because
Toussaint had an estate there to which he retired when a rest
from his arduous tasks was essential.
Now began the most wonderful part of the journey. Begin-
ing to climb, we were soon in the heart of the mountains.
should need the pen of a poet to describe this enchanting
egion. The mountains are slashed by deep, dark gulches so
ank with vegetation and tangles of creepers as to appear
earsome and repelling. Sometimes wide valleys are disclosed,
leasantly green and watered by crystal streams, on the banks
f which grow flowers in profusion and trees of great beauty.
rom the road one looks down into these sweet valleys on one
Side and up to where the peaks become denuded and barren on
he other. It is a remarkable road, winding ever upwards,
hoping back upon itself as it were, in a spiral.
At last we dropped down into the magnificent valley of
?laisance which was encircled by the blue mountains. Flowers
rew everywhere and the people seemed to be as kind as their


surroundings were lovely. There are some places that stand
out in the memory as charming havens of rest. Such is
Plaisance, and I would give much to be able to live again the
happy hour or so I spent in that tiny town; to feel the warm
sun tempered by cool, scented breezes, to hear the lazy droning
of insects, to watch the gay humming-birds flitting past like
animated jewels, to be conscious of a supreme peace and
harmony. These things can doubtless be found in many
places, but there was something about Plaisance that pleased
me beyond reason.
I am prepared to admit that for the rest of the journey I
was too tired really to care what I saw. I know we passed
through much magnificent scenery, but it remains a confusion
of clear rivers flowing through green meadows or forested
groves, mountains, and the road ever stretching ahead as though
it would never reach Cap Haitien, then at last the town of
Limb6, and shortly the great gateway that leads into Cap
Haitien. We had been fifteen hours on the road and had not
even rested during the midday heat.

Conversion of a 30 ].p. car to a 30 man-power.




~A -d
~iT I ~
I- I E~i*~ii.jJ. i~~~IT

I ~iA~IAJh3~5 9'.i.. h'ILu~



IN THE TOWN of Cap Haitien, with its straggling streets,
its teeming Negro population, and its relics of dramatic history,
II woke every morning with a thrill of expectancy, wondering
what new adventures the day would bring.
Towards the south I saw great rugged mountains soaring
skywards, a tumbled mass of forested peaks. I pondered
pon the mystery of the enormous Citadelle which crowns one
f the highest points, a colossal structure that reminds one of
ome giant's castle in a fairy tale. What kind of man could
ave conceived such a stronghold or thought of placing it in
uch a position ? A superman surely, for in its cloud-swept
solution this prodigious pile appears to have been erected by
itans rather than by mortals. At early morning and in
he evening when clouds cover much of the structure, the
massive "prow" gives it the appearance of some monster
hip about to sail into space.
One day I meant to climb those mountains, to cover those
wenty difficult miles that separated me from the object of
y curiosity. In the meantime I studied Cap Haitien and
alked to the people about the history until I could live over in
y imagination the momentous and tragic days of the Revolu-
ion; until I appreciated the fact that all the district around
ap Haitien, a region of enthralling beauty and extraordinary
fertility, had been soaked in the blood of those fighting for the
greatest treasure of mankind-freedom, and of those who
sought to keep them in subjection.
Long ago the magnificent estates of the French planters
were entered by great gateways that are now often to be
seen standing isolated, guarding nothing. Once they kept
within their precincts miserable Africans pining for their
homes and for the liberty of their own lands. It was Toussaint
L'Ouverture who made it his life-work to effect the liberation


of his fellow-slaves. But in Cap Haitien we talked more of
Henri Christophe, the slave waiter who became king and built
the Citadelle on the mountain.
In i8o6 a war-battered, fire-blackened country had to be
restored to prosperity and order: a wearied population had
to be made happy and to be independent.
This gigantic task was tackled with undaunted courage
by Christophe, a pure-blooded African born a slave. He was
handsome and commanding in appearance, with an extra-
ordinary natural dignity. His rule was amazingly efficient
and, despite some mistakes, he stands out as one of the strongest
and greatest rulers of Haiti, and as one of the most illustrious
of the Black Race. He endeavoured to raise his people by
governing them in the way best suited to their needs.
It is as a builder, however, that Christophe will be remem-
bered. The Citadelle is only one of many remarkable buildings
erected during his reign. One of the most interesting stories
told of Henri Christophe concerns a visit of Sir Home Popham,
the English Admiral, to Sans Souci. Early one afternoon the
king invited Sir Home to witness a review of his household
troops. The king and queen, together with their guests, took
their places on chairs arranged in the shade of a star-apple
tree, commonly known to-day as the Tree of Justice. At a
signal blown on a bugle the troops began to march past, march-
ing eight abreast. They were all full-blooded Negroes, every
one at least six feet tall, and wore elaborate and splendid
uniforms. Their muskets were carried all at the same angle
and trained precision marked their every movement. Each
company wheeled, presented arms, and after passing the
company under the tree, disappeared from view down the
grand stairway. As each regiment appeared Sir Home Popham
noticed the different but equally striking uniforms. Time
passed, but the endless, unbroken procession still continued
until Sir Home estimated that not less than 30,000 men had
passed before them. Finally the king asked the Admiral
if he had seen enough, and the Englishman wearily assented,
and the last file of men marched down the stairs. Sir Home
duly admired the remarkable display and the efficiency of the
troops, but he did not know one very important detail. As

each company of soldiers passed from sight the men broke
ranks and a squad hurried by an underground passage to the
barracks, where with all the speed possible they changed
uniforms, joined up to pass again in new guise before the king
and his companions. Christophe had taken advantage of the
fact that to a newly arrived white man all Negroes look alike,
and had treated him to thirty views of the same one thousand
Christophe called his troops the Royal Dahomeys.
Another interesting link with England was provided by the
teachers Christophe invited to build schools and organize
them. At that time English educators were interested in the
teaching theories of Joseph Lancaster. Christophe, hearing of
the experiments carried on in London, asked six Lancastrian
teachers to help him. The six Englishmen were met at Cap
Haitien and were declared exempt from any restrictions that
might limit their movements about Haiti. In a short space
of time exact replicas of their English schools were built at
Cap Haitien, Port de Paix, St. Marc, and Gonaives, one was
also built at Milot close to Sans Souci. Educated mulattoes
and Negroes were put through a course of instruction and soon
the five national schools were giving instruction to over two
thousand pupils.
Christophe also founded a medical school and arranged for
his Scottish physician, Dr. Stewart, to supervise the work done
there. All this shows how ambitious Christophe was for the
future of his subjects.
I interviewed the captain of the Garde d'Haiti about the
journey to the Citadelle and he agreed to send horses to meet
me at Milot.
I had as companions the only two Britons in Cap Haitien,
the Baptist missionary and the Wesleyan missionary, and
more entertaining and informative comrades I could not have
By the time we reached Milot the sun was gaining power,
and without loss of time we mounted the waiting horses. We
had gone only a short distance when, to my surprise, we passed
through large gates and came upon the ruin of a great building,
a ruin so beautiful that I cried out in wonder and astonishment.


At the rear of the building, stretching the width of th stibule and overlapping the back of the banqueting halls,
is the huge Throne Room with domed roof. Many pleasai Ioms command a lovely view from the rear of the building.

S= Sentry Box.
I =Grand Staircase.
2 =Main Entrance.
3=Ornamental doors which did not open. u o
Marble arch from under which water escaped after flowing under rooms. x
5, 6, 7, 8 =Four banqueting halls. I.
9= Queen's apartments.
1o = King's apartments.

= Audience Chamber.
= Library.
= King's study.
= Apartments of two princesses.
= Rooms of household staff.
= Secretary of State.
=Probably an ante-room to the Audience Chamber. Purpose not known for

This was Christophe's favourite palace which he named Sans
Souci. No building in the West Indies has yet excelled it.
Even in ruins it forms a picture to delight the eyes.
The main building occupies an elevated position in the
centre of an amphitheatre. The principal entrance is found
on a wide terrace approached at each end by a magnificent
stone staircase, on which are placed at intervals four sentry
boxes. We wandered through spacious rooms, the audience
chamber of the king, the library, and so on. All these command
views so extensive, colourful, and altogether lovely that I
longed to gaze at leisure. My friends told me how Christophe
caused a stream to be diverted from its course and made to
pass under the main rooms to keep them cool. We descended
the exterior staircase and found the spot, where after flowing
under the floors of the state-rooms, the water ran out from the
keystone of a marble arch, escaping into an ornamental basin
guarded by two bronze lions, thence into an ornamental
stream. Above the arch is a sun in black wood with the,
surrounding inscription : Je vois tout et tout voit par moi
dans l'univers." This cooling system was only one innovation
introduced, for although the palace was completed in 1813 it
contained numerous bathrooms.
In Christophe's day everything was on an astonishing scale
of grandeur. The rooms had floors of marble and walls
panelled in rich, polished hardwoods. The furniture was made
in Haiti of acajou, but the beautiful pictures, mirrors, and
draperies were imported from Europe. Each member of the
family had a carriage and Christophe's own carriage de luxe
was made in England at a cost of 70o. Sans Souci was then
a centre of gaiety and magnificent functions were held within
its walls, for Christophe loved to see people happy and amused.
In this small enclosure of Sans Souci, twenty acres, Christophe
assembled all the arts and crafts necessary for individual needs
and the successful administration of public affairs. Here was
the centre of government and here Christophe interviewed his
subjects. At certain hours any individual could approach
him directly upon any matter and he passed judgments with
swift decision and uncanny fairness.
Again mounting our horses we took the trail to the Citadelle,

uP&ndty .

sagall Fort SmaU Fout Smau Fort Hsza

Gardens Gardens Printer$4at

XtSrack _______l
ham bee"Pat& Aatet
(M(.usoca op' "(Pett piltas)

an f 1. % Grooms Tacasurv

Residence .

SAMS souci lipel
Zap*"* in Distillery
Chaistopkes- Reiiln,

a trail that winds ever upwards through the tropical jungle.
Large stones had been used to make this trail strong and
serviceable for conveying all the material for the building of
the Citadelle, and the 365 guns which I was told we would
see when we arrived there.
The Citadelle stands about 3000 feet above sea-level and all
the material and guns had to be conveyed up the mountain
by man-power. How well the road had been made is proved
by the fact that its condition is almost as good to-day as in the
year 1820, since which time it has not been repaired. While
our sure-footed horses toiled to reach the summit amid scenes
of ineffable beauty, we talked of how far ahead of his times
Christophe must have been. We discussed the manner in
which he had overcome some of the difficulties of transporting
material up the steep trail we were negotiating. This feat
was accomplished by forming a human chain along the route
and passing all objects not too large from hand to hand.
After three hours' hard climbing, we saw before us the
battery named Coidavic, and a moment later were faced by a
most impressive mahogany entrance gate, fitted with huge
bolts. As we climbed up the jungle road we had only once
or twice glimpsed the Citadelle, but now we could appreciate
the immense size of it. A gendarme met us to act as guide,
and we quickly realized that without him we would soon
have been lost in the labyrinth of galleries and rooms.
The greater part of the building is in good repair and bids
fair to stand for centuries. There are four gun corridors,
each 270 feet long and 30 feet wide. Handsome guns elaborately
engraved still stand on massive mahogany carriages with wheels
running on rails to allow for right and left turning. All these
guns were taken up the trail on small gun-carriages with four
wheels drawn by 1oo to 200 men. Some of these cannon are
over eleven feet in length and of 6-inch calibre. Many are of
English make, relics of the ill-fated British expedition to
Haiti; some are French and a few Spanish, some of them
bearing the names of the ships for which they were cast.
Countless smaller guns lie around in various parts of the
building, and there are piles of iron cannon-balls of various

The gun corridors surround a spacious court in the centre
of which is Christophe's tomb. Most of the walls in the building
are from 20 to 30 feet thick and some of them are 14o feet
high. The gun corridors are only a small part of the building.
There were barracks provided for 10,000ooo men and the basement
could easily house an extra 2ooo in case of emergency. One
section of this structure, consisting of forty rooms, was set
aside for Christophe, his family, and their staff. Quarters
were provided for the Governor, and, if necessary, the civilian
population from Cap Haitien could have found refuge there.
Immense store-rooms for ammunition, a room for the manu-
facture of gunpowder, a hospital, treasure chambers, dungeons,
rooms and ever more rooms make this building so intricate
that one would not care to get lost amid the baffling maze of
The water problem was the most urgent from the first and
the system by which the difficulties were overcome was in-
genious. The engineer utilized the thick walls to hold eight
huge cisterns. Four were covered to protect from impurities,
and four used for washing were uncovered. The distribution
was such that every quarter of the building had its own water
supply. In addition to the cisterns, large sugar-boilers were
used to collect rain-water. Away from the building, tanks
five to six metres long, four metres wide, and three metres high,
served as reservoirs and contained an orifice for the escape of
an overflow.
I found the fortress even more impressive than I had
expected. Its vastness bewildered me, but the silence and the
solitude made me sad. I thought of the prodigious labour
entailed in its erection and of the fact that for well on a century
it has been disused.
Tens of thousands of men toiled for sixteen years to build
it, the enthusiastic Christophe ever urging them to greater
and yet greater effort. In some peculiar way the fabrication
seems pervaded by the spirit of this genius who sought to
achieve glory and safety for his people. The Citadelle was to
be not merely a fortress, but the Capitol of the kingdom and
a last refuge and retreat for the people, in case of invasion.
It was to be the Palladium of Liberty and of Independence."


Huft CtisrnToPH4L

The outer walls are partly covered with a red lichen which
the superstitious Haitians call Christophe's blood.
Yet, although lost in admiration for this giant in stone, the
most remarkable building yet conceived by a black man's
brain and constructed by black hands, I felt strangely depressed.
I looked through window spaces over what must surely be
one of the most magnificent scenes in the world. On three
sides mountains rise above mountains, some bleak and bare,
some thickly covered with forest, while cascades tumble down,
adding to the beauty and grandeur. On the fourth side we
gazed across some of the richest land in Haiti to where, far in
the distance, we beheld the sea, a glorious panorama.
In Christophe's billiard-room, which has two sentry-boxes
at the entrance, we found a few intimate relics of the hours
he spent there. There is a fire-place in this room-an unusual
thing in a country where hard winters are unknown-but
descending clouds and a north wind call for additional warmth
in these mountains as in our own. We could not forget
Christophe; it is said he wandered around at night when the
building was under construction and frequently worked at
bricklaying after the workers had departed, returning to
Sans Souci in the small hours. Poor Christophe, haunted by
the need for speed, so much to do and so little time."
I mentioned the air of mystery pervading Haiti. It seemed
so strong in this lonely mountain fortress that one had an
uncanny impression of psychical force in the building. Perhaps
only those who have visited Haiti will understand, for every
white visitor to the Citadelle remarks upon the phenomenon.
We, in such intimate contact with the various phases of
Christophe's work, realized that he well deserved the title given
to him by his subjects, L'HOMME-THE MAN."
One cannot help feeling sorry and somewhat ashamed that
certain writers have attempted to belittle his greatness. Their
only reason must be that he was a Negro. For instance, I have
read articles in which he was made a laughing-stock for having
created the titles Count of Limonade and the Duke of Mar-
malade. It is implied deliberately that he named his nobility
after his favourite foods and drinks. Actually these titles
were taken from two rather important towns in Northern

Haiti-Limonade and Marmalade, so named by the facetious
French more than a century before Christophe was born.
A man with an intellect as brilliant as that of Christophe,
who successfully carried out such a large number of projects
for the glory of his race and the prosperity of his country,
does not consciously act ridiculously. In all his conduct he
proclaimed the dignity of man.
In its day the Citadelle was impregnable. Experienced
builders to-day find in this edifice only the finest possible
workmanship. We admire Christophe and his staff for the
administrative part of the work, but we extend our praise to
the engineers and master craftsmen for their skill. The
original plans are missing, but are thought to be in Haiti.
Vergniaud Leconte, the greatest living authority on Christophe
and his times, names the mulatto engineer, Henri Barr6, as
having been commissioned to prepare plans according to
Christophe's instructions. The Citadelle is worthy of a world-
wide tribute not merely as a remarkable edifice but as a work
of art. I think, however, that more important than the
vastness of the undertaking and the remarkable workmanship
displayed in it, is the fact that it represents the soul of a
nation and that it stands as a symbol of the potentialities of
the Negro Race.


THERE IS no hotel at which one would care to stay in the
town of Cap Haitien, so I was fortunate in having an intro-
duction to the Baptist missionary, who is an Englishman.
He and his wife and family gave me the warmest of welcomes
and invited me to stay with them as long as I wished. Their
house was elevated on wooden supports near the seashore,
so close, indeed, as to create the impression of being on ship-
board. A broad, wooden veranda around the house gave
access to most of the rooms. The two sons slept on this
veranda, and by day it was the chosen centre for almost all
the family activities, including the tuition of the little girl
and the youngest boy.
I spent happy days in this unusual dwelling, feeling thankful
for the cool breezes after the stifling heat of Port-au-Prince.
I never tired of the view. On one side were huge mountains
in broken mass, with the Citadelle looming majestically on
the summit of one of the peaks. On the other side of the
shallow bay the coast-line straggled along to ruined Fort
Picolet, one of six forts which had formed the defences of the
town and which the Negroes had successfully stormed when
they finally drove out the French. On the way to the fort
the two boys and I examined the ruins of the palace that had
been built for Napoleon's sister, Pauline, when she arrived
in Haiti with her husband, General Leclerc, Captain-General
of the expeditionary force of 21,ooo veteran troops sent by
her brother to overthrow Toussaint L'Ouverture. Built on
terraces on rising ground overlooking the bay, it was originally
a place of great beauty and magnificence, but now only
fragments of the walls remain.
To reach the fort we had often to remove our shoes as we
had to wade round projecting rocks. The sand, hot enough,to
discomfort our feet through our shoes, was strewn with shells
and broken coral of such alluring colouring as to make a

collection irresistible. On arriving at the ruined fort we were
able to get some idea of its structure and to appreciate the
part it had played in history.
The town of Cap Haitien could not possibly be described as
beautiful. There are many straggling narrow streets which
exhibit no kind of symmetry and are usually swarming with
children. The town has been destroyed so often that its
structural irregularities are not surprising. As far back as
1694 the English and Spanish forces destroyed it. Rebuilt
by the French under du Cussy, it became the headquarters
of the French Government and was then called Cap Frangois.
For about a century, it was said to be the most beautiful town
outside France and was often referred to as little Paris. In
1802, rather than surrender to the invading French army,
Christophe, who was then Commander of the North, put the
town to flames. With his own hands he set fire to his imposing
palace and distributed torches among his soldiers. Of 2oo0
houses only fifty-nine escaped the fire. Christophe, his army,
and the whole population retreated into the mountains, leaving
the French to clear up the debris. Later, when Christophe
became king, he had the town rebuilt and erected good schools,
theatres, churches, and dwelling-houses. Once again Cap
Francois was a proud town and changed its name to Cap
Haiti is, however, imperilled by an earthquake belt, and in
1842 a quake reduced the town again to ruins. It was
rebuilt with less care. Although military force, fire, and
earthquake had in turn laid the town to waste, its troubles
were not yet over, for in 1928 a hurricane played such havoc
with the buildings that it has not yet recovered from the
disaster. Gradually it is improving, but although the second
town in importance, it cannot compare with Port-au-Prince
or other towns in point of residential attraction. It remains,
however, the most interesting town in Haiti from the historical
point of view. There are a few open spaces laid out as gardens,
which are surrounded by buildings of architectural beauty and
grace. The Gendarmerie is built round such a space, and the
Place d'Armes, scene of so many historical events, is over-
looked by the Cathedral. In view of the fact that all events

of national importance seem to have originated in the north,
the Place d'Armes has repeatedly been the stage for the
enactment of thrilling dramas and occasionally tragedies.
What a story this Place could unfold of scenes of horror, such
as the torturing of Og6 and Chavannes! Mulattoes were
broken on the wheel on a public holiday, March 12, 1791, an
act which, following unspeakable cruelties on many plantations,
made the more spirited Negroes realize that they had a cause
for which to fight and, if necessary, die.
Not all the notable scenes have been sad ones, however,
for the coronation of Christophe was a gay and animated
festival. The ceremony took place in the Cathedral as
Christophe had proclaimed Roman Catholicism the official
religion. When, as King, he left the building, the crowds in
the Place d'Armes cheered him to the echo and Cap Haitien
made merry for the rest of the day.
The most noteworthy buildings in Cap Haitien are the
College Notre Dame, a school for several hundred boys, and
the Justinien Hospital, accommodating 350 patients, which is
well equipped and picturesque. It also provides a vast field for
the study of tropical diseases, such as elephantiasis, which is
common in Northern Haiti.
Thrilling landings and embarkings of historical import have
been witnessed on the water front. The arrival of Leclerc's
optimistic troops was destined to be followed two years later
by the hurried and disorganized departure of the few survivors.
Picture the distraught crowds during the evacuation of the
French civil population, who in 1804 were given ten days in
which to leave the country with all their possessions !
I learned much about devil worship in Cap Haitien, my
attention first being drawn to the subject by asking questions
about a woman with matted red hair whom I saw every time
I passed along the main street. She sat on a chair in the middle
of the pavement, a forlorn, bedraggled creature, who kept her
eyes on the ground, never showing the slightest interest in
anything. She had in her youth been the belle of the town,
then she became a devil worshipper, and as a direct result
became as she is to-day.
Good shops are numerous, but there is no window-gazing,



10000 -V--- 00-


(From an old wood-cut.)

The tree in foreground is a star-apple tree known to the Haitians as the
Tree of Justice.

climatic conditions making this fascinating pastime impossible.
This detracts from the interest of the shopping centres in all
towns, but that there are well-stocked shops of all descriptions
where first-class work-people are employed is proved by the
better-class Haitians clothing themselves so tastefully and
It is remarkable how soon you cease to notice the difference
in pigmentation. When you are living among coloured people
they become your good friends or your enemies, just normal
human beings, and it is surprising how anyone can possibly
take account of a minor characteristic such as colour when
judging a thing of major importance such as character or
ability. Perhaps we need to adopt a different, if not more
generous, scale of values. In most Haitian towns Mulattoes
are numerous, but they are seldom seen in Cap Haitien, the
population being overwhelmingly pure Negro. In all parts of
Haiti one is struck by the natural and animated sweetness of
expression among all classes, but particularly among the
There is more citrus fruit grown in Cap Haitien than in any
other part of the island. Never have I tasted such luscious
grape fruit, so sweet that no sugar is needed. This exceptionally
fine fruit can be seen growing as many as nine in a bunch.
Pineapples are abundant, delicate in flavour, and, in their
first year, average seven pounds in weight. The Plaine du
Nord is ideal for fruit-growing and when the industry is further
developed should provide increasing wealth for Haiti.
At Fort Libert6 we visited a io,ooo-acre sisal plantation,
owned by the Haitian Sisal Corporation. Mr. Pettigrew, an
American, acts as manager and controls the 2000 to 2500
workers who live in two model villages. The sisal grown on
this plantation is known by the trade name of Dorphin Brand.
The plantation is a huge concern and has its own factory and
railway. It was fascinating to watch the machines strip the
leaves so that the precious inside could be dried on hot plates,
then hung in the sun before it is baled. This sisal is magnificent
stuff, pure white, and has taken many prizes in the U.S.A., to
which country it is nearly all exported. Its production is of
increasing importance as a Haitian industry. Mr. and Mrs.

Pettigrew and their family are the only white people there.
Mrs. Pettigrew discovered Arawak pottery on the estate and
collected some remarkable specimens, many of which were
sent to museums in the U.S.A. Happily, however, she retained
some pieces, and I became the proud owner of a perfect grinding-
stone and a piece of pottery made by the Indians who inhabited
Haiti when Columbus discovered the island. Of these primi-
tive people the Spanish adventurers destroyed 940,0o00 in
fifteen years. This was done by submitting a people who were
used to a simple and carefree existence to arduous and sus-
tained labour. There is not one living descendant of these
Indians in the world to-day.
On the way back to Cap Haitien we stopped at the little
town of Limonade. It was while attending Mass at the Church
of St. Ann here in 1820 that King Christophe had a paralytic
stroke. In order that he should have perfect quiet as he lay
in the priest's house his secretary ordered that every goat,
donkey, and dog should be taken outside the district, the
peasants killing every fowl, so that no sound should disturb
the sick king.
In Cap Haitien I spent one very pleasant afternoon at the
home of a Senator who owns many of the illustrious king's trea-
sures. There I saw some Spode dishes used at Sans Souci which
bore the coat of arms in fine coloured mosaic in the centre
with the motto Je renais de mes cendres." Three of
Christophe's swords were there, his favourite sword having a
blade of Damascus steel decorated with an elaborate design
and the words Dieu est ma cause et mon epee."-" God is
my cause and my sword."
There were several books, bound in embossed leather and
printed at Sans Souci, as well as coins and medals of Christophe's
time, woodcuts and paintings of Sans Souci, and other interest-
ing objects. Personal letters composed and signed by the King
helped one to estimate his character. One was to his wife,
whom he loved dearly, and every line carried affection. Letters
written and signed by Toussaint L'Ouverture were in the
In my wanderings around Cap Haitien I noticed that Voudou
temples near the sea had a rough drawing of a boat on the

wall. This is the boat of Papa Agoua in whom the Voudou
fishermen and their families put their trust. Papa Agoue is
the Guardian of the Sea. Goue means waters or seas,
and as a verb it means to go down into the water."
An initiate of this cult is supposed to be able to remain
under water for long periods. From the house where I stayed
in Cap Haitien we could sometimes see the peasants pushing
off little rafts laden with offerings of food and drink for Papa
Agoue. These rafts apparently floated out to sea. Not only
the fishermen, but anyone who is interested in the sea as a
means of livelihood will pray to Papa Agoue for help.
To show the extraordinary conditions that exist in Haiti
I shall quote this incident. A party of Christian natives were
coming by boat from a nearby port to Cap Haitien, to attend
a service. The weather was bad and the boat was late. The
Missionary was anxiously awaiting their arrival, when looking
seawards he heard them chanting with great fervour to Papa
Agoua to lend them his aid so that they might not be late for
the service !
Doctor Holly tells me that the Voudouists believe that
there are actually three genii of the ocean.
i. A-Gouoe-To-Ro-Ou who roves over the surface of the
oceanic waters with authority to produce calm.
2. A-Gouce-Te-Se who remains within the sea waters and
has authority to cause billows, surges, swells, and high
3. A-Gouce Ou-Li-Min who remains at the bottom of the
These are clearly superstitious ideas which, as in other
religions, have become inextricably mixed up with the
original cult.


I RELUCTANTLY TOOK LEAVE of my friends early one morn-
ing and set off on my return journey to Port-au-Prince, through
the centre of the island by way of Hinche. This time I
knew difficulties might lie ahead, such as bad roads or lack
of them, and wide rivers to ford. The officials of the
Travaux Publics arranged that prisoners should be sent in
charge of an armed warder from the prison at Hinche, to
await our arrival at the Canot River ; so far as was known,
the bridge over the Artibonite was in order and the roads
were passable.
As soon as we left Cap Haitien behind the scenery became
incredibly lovely. The road was shaded by trees, which
provided wonderful play of light and shadow; there were
many grass huts surrounded by palms, coffee bushes, banana
and mango trees, while lizard cuckoos peeped out from the
shrubbery, or sat quietly fluffing their feathers out in the sun,
eyeing us with much curiosity as they peered fearlessly through
red-lidded eyes.
These strange birds eat insects and lizards and crawl along
low branches like rats, often with the limp body of a lizard
in their bills. They certainly would not lack food on that
particular morning, for we saw countless green lizards and
others of a larger species striped in orange and black. These
are really gorgeous creatures, sometimes twelve inches
Even more interesting were the chameleons. Who can
resist the chance to play with a chameleon, putting it on a
green leaf to watch it turn green, and then on the soil to watch
it turn brown ? Lizards, chameleons, and iguanas always
fascinated me in Haiti. Iguanas are not so common, but a
fair number of the rhinoceros variety are seen. This type
has three projections on its head.
Lizards and iguanas are friendly creatures, but the scorpions


and large centipedes of Haiti are enemies to be carefully
We came to Grande Riviere, a town of some commercial
importance. It was here Dessalines was born, the hero who
succeeded in gaining the independence of Haiti. I had an
amusing experience while passing through. I had been asked
to call on a native clergyman who lived in the centre of the
town, but first went to view the church. As Moretta wished
to see some friends I told him to go and I would call on the
minister. The gentleman was away from home, and neither
of his daughters could speak a word of French or English.
At that time I knew only sufficient Creole to greet them, and
they talked together so fast that I could not understand a
word. They invited me into the house and gave me coffee,
but conversation being impossible the situation was really
awkward. Our efforts to carry on by sign language would
have made a robot laugh, and I had to remain in this extra-
ordinary predicament until Moretta returned.
When we left Grande Riviere we had a river on one side
and high mountains on the other. The river bank was tree-
lined with masses of creepers tangled over the trees, and we
were so close to the mountains that we were unable to see
their summits. Then we came to a spot where we got a mar-
vellously clear and uninterrupted view of the Citadelle. Truly,
it would be difficult for an enemy to defeat the Haitians
when they took refuge in the fastnesses of these mountains.
One wonders if there is much mineral wealth in the country
as the indications of its presence are numerous, but it is
impossible to tell whether it would be on a paying basis
or not.
In a lonely valley we found Dondon, a quaint, primitive
town of thatched huts and a few modern buildings. Here
Og6 was born, the martyr to the cause of liberty and equality.
It is said that in the days of the Indians the chiefs visited
this valley to pay homage to the gods of the country. In
little towns of this description you see amateur barbers shaving
their victims with a piece of broken glass from a bottle.
It is also the custom for the women and girls to help dress
each other's hair by forming it into numerous cone-shaped


tufts with which the frizzy-haired types delight to cover
their heads. One girl told me it took about fifteen minutes
to dress her hair.
The scenery varied little until we left St. Raphael and
came to the Canot River. We were thankful to see several
prisoners in charge of a warder on the far bank. The prisoners
waded into the water and when the car had struggled past
the middle, by much hauling and pushing they landed us
safely. I gave each of them a coin, with which they were
highly delighted.
We now came to a savannah which stretched as far as eye
could see, and there was no road across it. How Moretta
found his way I cannot guess. For many miles we bumped
along over the grass, but at last sighted and made for a clump
of trees and palm grove where we rested. Many birds, some
black and white, even smaller than our wrens, attracted me,
but I never discovered their name.
Many of the Haitian birds do not sing or sing so softly that
to hear them you must be quite close to them. It was very
silent, and we were rather surprised when a small naked boy
about twelve years of age suddenly appeared. He was struck
dumb at the sight of the car and simply stared blankly, with
his finger in his mouth. When I gave him a biscuit he ate it
in silence, then put his hand out for more. An old man came
along with a gourd full of water and offered us a drink. I was
glad Moretta was there to accept the invitation because I
dared not risk infection. If we had refused he would certainly
have been offended. He had a hut not far away and the
small boy was his son.
This Plaine Centrale begins near St. Michel, extends to the
south-east as a level floored valley between the Massif du Nord
and the Montagnes Noires, eventually crossing the Dominican
border to be known as the San Juan Valley. This great,
grassy plain provides rich pasturage for cattle, and is the centre
of cattle rearing for the whole of Haiti. Many of the
Haitian cattle are descendants of the wild cattle that
roamed the plains in great herds from the beginning
of the seventeenth century. These wild oxen attracted the
attention of the French and English pirates or buccaneers

who had settled on the small island of Tortuga, off the northern
coast of Haiti. From the year 1629 to about 1640 these
boucaniers spent the greater part of their time hunting wild
bulls, the meat from which they cooked and ate with pimento
and orange juice seasoning. This meat was their most common
food. The name buccaneer or boucanier was taken from the
arrangement they used for cooking, a boucan being an Indian
oven or a kind of spit on which the meat was heated over a fire.
There is a cattle station at Hinche of 15oo00 acres for the
breeding of first-class beasts. A system has been introduced
for improving the cattle which I think is extremely
interesting and unusual. Really good cows or heifers from
this station are given to the peasant proprietors on condition
that alternate calves are given back to the Department
of Agriculture, two calves are given in return for a cow
and three calves for each heifer. St. Michel was a very
dusty, poor little town, the market being the only centre
of interest, and seemed to monopolize the greater part of
the space.
About 3.30 p.m. we arrived at Hinche, a town of some
administrative importance in the very heart of Haiti. Here
I called upon the Captain who commanded the Military
Department for Central Haiti, and who was commonly referred
to as King of the Centre." He was at home and informed
me that the bridge over the Artibonite River could not be
used. This was really bad news, as it meant that we must
either return to Cap Haitien, a nine hours' journey, or make
for Ennery and thence for Port-au-Prince. Either alternative
filled me with dismay, but the Captain and his wife said that
I must certainly stay with them for the present. I was very
thankful to accept their hospitality. With the greatest kind-
ness they put their charming house at my disposal, gave me a
personal maid, and did everything in their power to make
me comfortable. They lived in a large mosquito-proof resi-
dence and employed eight servants. It was surprising in
an out-of-the-world place like Hinche to find a house equipped
with electric light, modern plumbing, and every convenience.
Apart from their own living-quarters was a guest house con-
taining good bedrooms and a bathroom. I should like to

mention that in Haiti every place large enough to be called
a town is lighted by electricity.
After cocktails the Captain motored us in his car to the
Artibonite River, a distance of probably thirty miles. It
was almost like driving through a park in contrast to the dull
grassy plains we had left behind and trees were plentiful.
Many goats were to be seen, some of them larger than any I
had seen previously. To the south was a range of high moun-
tains magnificently streaked with broad bands of light and
shade in bluish tints. These mountains seemed to me to be
even bluer than the Blue Mountains in Jamaica. I was glad
we went to the river, for it is the most imposing in Haiti,
not only being the longest but also the widest. Here a bridge
is essential. The original bridge was a very fine one built
sixty years ago by the Haitians, but heavy rains had caused
such floods that it had broken down six months before. The
repairs were almost completed, but no vehicle could cross.
The old supports had been of wood, but they had now been
replaced by stone buttresses. The bridge is now a really
strong, handsome structure with spans of iron. We watched
supplies from Port-au-Prince being brought across the river
in a huge dug-out boat, then taken away in motor trucks. It
was a scene of great activity and very interesting to watch.
On the way back to Hinche the Captain shot a pigeon; blue
wild pigeons and doves are common. The doves like open
glades; they walk about on the ground with rapidly nod-
ding heads and call with a soft cooing note that is rather sad,
so they are known as Mourning Doves." At Hinche owls
are numerous, and I was told that in caves nearby bones had
been found of extinct giant barn owls.
I was taken to inspect the prison, which was spotlessly
clean. Its cells were built around a rectangular court, the
front of the cells having iron bars in place of walls. Each
cell was made to accommodate twenty prisoners. There
were a few women prisoners in special quarters. In the prison
hospital there were several patients who slept on bedsteads,
but in the cells sisal mattresses are used on the floor. In the
kitchens were to be seen quantities of food cooking in huge

The Hinche hospital with its eighty beds is a pretty, airy
building. A doctor showed me over it, including the operating
theatre, where he lingered to explain its mysteries. A major
operation had evidently been completed only a short time
before our entry, and I was glad to get out of it. It is un-
questionably a fine hospital. The private chapel was delightful
with beautiful flowers inside and out.
We had a delicious supper, perfectly cooked and served.
I found the cooking in all good-class homes excellent, although
charcoal braziers are generally used. The Captain is a mag-
nificent specimen of a man, tall and very well built. He is
jet black and very handsome, with keen black eyes which
sparkle with fun. He has a very strong personality and it is
easy to understand how he became known as the king of the
centre and to appreciate the important part he plays in the
life of Haiti. He has the courtesy and the manners of a
It was a treat to be able to sleep without a mosquito net.
My maid Bebe slept in a small bed in my room in case I should
want anything. I was glad of her company as drums and
chanting sounded unpleasantly near. Before breakfast the
Captain took me over the grounds where vegetables, bananas,
and cotton grew in abundance. There is also a luxuriant
flower garden and a busy yard of chickens, turkeys, and
pigeons. The Captain's wife was so anxious that I should
have a real English meal that we had roast beef and potatoes
with wine for breakfast, followed by bananas, oranges, and
coffee! I greatly appreciated the kindly consideration,
though it was rather early in the day for a meal of that descrip-
tion. Before leaving they gave me fruit and roses, and I was
invited to return with a friend and ride on horseback through
the mountains with the Captain. So ended another delightful
We had not gone far when the car broke down near a small
cluster of huts in a narrow lane. It is remarkable how in
what may be the middle of a wilderness a crowd arrives when
a car breaks down. Moretta had to get under the car to
perform the necessary repairs, and I was surrounded by the
oddest group of people climbing on the running-boards and

clustering near. One big boy of about eighteen years of age
seemed to be crazy. He flourished his machete in a most
terrifying manner close to me and pulled awful faces. I was
really frightened but dared not move, and Moretta, who was
hammering, did not hear me call. Three or four women arrived,
and one of them managed to get the boy away, for which I
was very grateful. One woman was making a grey demin
dress and seemed very capable. I noticed that she tacked it
before hemming it. It seemed surprising to me that women
living in the wilds who have never been near a school should
know by instinct how to sew.
After an hour's delay we jogged back to St. Michel over the
grasslands and eventually found our way to Ennery and thence
on to the main road to Port-au-Prince. We noticed in some of
the village shops advertisements of Scott's Emulsion, Eno's
Fruit Salt, and Lux. These firms must have had enterprising
As we had many hours of motoring in front of us we had to
drive through the terrible midday heat. Oh! the stifling
inferno of those hours in the middle of the day. To move a
hand was too much exertion and the heat seemed to suspend
all Nature's activity and a shimmering haze vibrated above the
earth. After the severe jolting over the savanna the heat
made me feel so ill that I was ultimately obliged to halt and
rest. Started again, we saw what looked like a small bough in
the road and found, too late to avoid running over it, a snake
about seven or eight feet long, mahogany coloured, and as
thick as a man's arm. This was the species known as the
" Big Boa." The Haitians do not kill snakes, and as there
might have been serious trouble if we were known to have
killed one, we hurried away from the scene of tragedy. There
are seventeen species of snakes in Haiti, a fact which the
pedestrian will do well to remember, though none of them is
very dangerous. Slender, green snakes about five feet long are
numerous; dog snakes are vicious; but the whipping snake
is on better terms with the world and rolls himself round a stick
and flaps his tail at you. This incident with the snake reminds
me of a later occasion when I unwillingly slaughtered a number
of land crabs.


It was when motoring to Santo Domingo I saw a movement
on the road ahead and, on drawing nearer and slowing down,
found a continuous stream of land crabs scurrying across the
road. We waited a long time, but still the crabs came on in a
line many yards wide. They never turned aside, and as I
could not see an end to the procession in either direction, had
no alternative but to run over some of them. This was without
doubt the annual migration of the land crabs. These crabs
live inland, but when the females are ready to lay their eggs
they must make their way to the sea and lay them in the
sand. All the crabs gather together into an army, the males
leading the way. There are often enough to form a line a mile
long, and they march on regardless of all obstacles. Though
hundreds may be killed, they never turn aside, climbing walls,
cliffs, or even houses that are in their path. They are largish
and prettier than the crabs we know, vivid red with black
markings, and they move with surprising speed. I was glad
to have this chance of seeing the migration of the crab
Soon after leaving St. Marc darkness set in and I was
conscious of a sense of weirdness as we drove through the
silent country, the only sign of human habitation being an
occasional lonely hut with its flickering candlelight. Once we
stopped, but as mosquitoes immediately began to make their
presence felt we were obliged to proceed. These insects are a
great pest in Haiti. A bite may result in malaria, black fever,
or dengue. Knowing this, it is essential to treat a mosquito
bite immediately to render it innocuous. The Haitians are
making a tremendous effort to exterminate the mosquito, but
it is an enormous undertaking in a country where it is favoured
by so many swamps and other breeding-places. Yellow fever,
which once was one of the greatest dangers, is almost unknown
to-day, but the prevalence of malaria still remains an unsolved
problem. For the sake of any readers who are interested in
the subject I may say there are only two kinds of malarial
mosquito in Haiti, the Anopheles albimanus and the Anopheles
grabhamii. There are, however, twenty-seven species of
mosquito in the country. It was found very expensive to use
oil as extensively as was necessary for mosquito control.

Paris green was tried as an experiment and found to be not
only much cheaper but actually more efficacious. Mixed with
moist sand, it will destroy the larv.e of all mosquitoes and saves
money in the process.
Nothing more of interest happened on this journey. I do not
think I have ever felt so fatigued as when, full of aches and
pains, I gratefully tumbled out of the car at the Splendid Hotel.


THE TOWNSPEOPLE and the peasants are as far apart
socially as though they were two different races. There is
simply no communication between them except in the markets
where townspeople buy the country produce. The large
towns are found without exception around the coast. Inland,
villages are scarce and small towns few and far between.
Haiti is a land of small cultivators; peasant huts are dotted
throughout the country. The island is densely populated,
some parts containing three hundred people to the square mile.
Even in places that are accessible only with great difficulty
in the mountains or in the heart of the forest you cannot
escape the ubiquitous peasant.
There are two distinct classes of peasant. When the land
was divided after the Revolution, the private soldiers were
given small estates in the mountains. The more enterprising
of them worked hard, became ambitious, and were able by
their industry to increase their wealth and, if they so wished,
to acquire some land on the plains. Thus they became
peasant proprietors, and the peasant proprietors of to-day
are the descendants of these soldiers. It is estimated that
10,000ooo acres of land have passed to peasants in the west
The great mass of the slaves received no land and it was
thought by Henri Christophe they might be discontented in
consequence. He solved the problem, however, of how to
keep them happy by arranging that landowners should give
to the peasants on their estates two, three, or five acres of
land according to the ability of the peasants to cultivate it.
In return for this small holding the peasant should give 50 per
cent of the produce to the landowner. If the peasant grew
sugar-cane or anything requiring special treatment, he was
allowed the use of the owner's mill free of charge and, in the
case of sugar, gave 50 per cent of the syrup to the proprietor.

An industrious peasant who had saved enough money could
buy his holding acre by acre. The same system exists to-day.
Many of the peasants, particularly in the remote districts,
hold their land on terms from the landlord, though some
of them have been fortunate enough to buy their land
Peasant huts are of three types. The poorest live in huts
they build for themselves of rough wattle. They are thatched
but the wattle is left unplastered inside and outside; the
beams and thatch are uncovered in the interior and the floor
is of beaten earth. Peasants who are a little better off live
in huts of a similar type but the wattle is plastered outside
and inside. The best huts are plastered and have the out-
side washed in yellow, orange or pink and sometimes have a
design drawn on the walls. Inside, the hut has a proper ceil-
ing and wooden floors, good wooden doors and often there is
a veranda. These huts contain two or more rooms.
All huts look picturesque because they are generally sur-
rounded by luxuriant vegetation. In some districts coffee
bushes form a background of rich green. Everywhere palm-
istes, mangoes and other trees abound. Locally a hut is called
a caille, and it is possible to build one at a cost of from 2 to
5 English money. The housing problem therefore presents
few difficulties. The kitchen is always separate from the
caille. All cooking is done over charcoal braziers, often not in
the kitchen itself but in the open air. Where a family is large
and some of the members are married you find a cluster of
huts built round a square of beaten earth. In the compound
you also see granaries of thatch and wattle built up on stilts
to protect the grain from rats, these rodents and grain weevils
being a plague to the peasants. Corn is frequently hung up
on trees out of reach of the rats. Often the family has its
own Voudou temple.
The poorer huts contain a minimum of furniture. Two or
three rush-bottomed chairs, a table, and water jars of earthen-
ware are found in the living-room. In the kitchen great use
is made of gourds of various sizes. The green gourds grow on
a pretty tree with light green leaves growing close together
all along the delicate branches. The white inside of the


gourd is poisonous, so it is scooped out through a hole in the
top. The gourd is then heated over a fire until it turns brown.
A large gourd will hold three gallons of water.
When Henri Christophe became ruler of Northern Haiti in
1807 he found an empty treasury. On making inquiries as to
what natural product was most useful to the people, he found
it was the gourd, so he declared green gourds the property of
the State and thus created a corner in gourds, so to speak.
He put a value of 20 sous on each gourd, and when the peasants
came to sell coffee he had them paid in gourds instead of in
money. He then exported the coffee and obtained payments in
cash and so replenished his treasury. To-day the standard
coin of Haiti is called the gourd.
The bedrooms of the huts sometimes contain a bedstead, but
the poorer peasants use sleeping-mats of banana fibre or palm
leaves. Malarial mosquitoes are found in most districts and
in those areas everybody sleeps under a net, the peasants who
sleep on mats rolling themselves in the netting.
I must stress the cleanliness of the peasants. I have never
seen a bed with dirty linen nor have I seen dirty tablecloths.
I read a book written by an American who had passed through
Port-au-Prince on his way to Santo Domingo. He made the
statement that Haitians were so dirty they never washed
from their birth to their death. Such a generalization is grossly
unfair to the Haitians. In every large town in any country
some dirty people are to be found, but we do not condemn the
whole population for the shortcomings of the few. I have seen
peasants so poor that their clothes were rags stitched together,
but they were clean rags, and the streams are busy with people
bathing at every hour of the day.
The women usually wear a full cotton dress with short sleeves,
tied round the waist over a single garment. Large gilt ear-
rings are worn. The poorest peasants go barefooted, others
wear sandals of leather or coloured sisal. The great ambition
of a Haitian peasant is to possess a pair of shoes, but having
gone shoeless from childhood they find the shoes so uncomfort-
able they generally carry them on their heads. A bandanna
handkerchief is worn round the head with the ends hanging
down the back, and a large hat is often perched at a jaunty

angle on the top of this. The men wear suits of blue or grey
Some peasants are deplorably poor. Certainly, they have
their caille and usually enough land to provide them with food,
but of money they often have so little they cannot clothe
themselves adequately. When, however, you meet a man or
a woman dressed in a sack in which a hole has been made for
the head and the arms, you must not think that it is because
they have no other clothing; it is a Voudou penance. Simi-
larly, if dresses or suits have patches on them of violently
contrasting colour, such as scarlet on blue, it is not that the
wearer could not obtain stuff of the correct colour. It is again
a Voudou penance. I have seen men and women with so many
of these patches they looked grotesque.
The language of the peasant is Creole. Originally Creole
was evolved as a means of communication between master
and slave. It is a hotch-potch compromise between African,
French, Spanish, and even contains a few English words.
To-day it is the only means by which the peasants and the
ilite can converse. It is essentially a language, differing from
French in grammar and pronunciation as well as in vocabulary
even though it includes much abbreviated and garbled French.
The inflexion of the voice and the expression of the face play
a great part in Creole. It is really a musical language, but
when a crowd of peasants are all chattering at once, as in the
markets, they sound as though they are quarerlling. Perhaps
some day Creole will be recognized as the Haitian language.
The Negroes have an extraordinary habit of suddenly changing
from their ordinary voice to a sing-song falsetto. If you did
not see them laughing you would conclude they were crying
when they do this.
Practically all peasants grow beans, maize, potatoes, yams,
bananas, and plantains. In addition they usually grow some
special crop suitable to the soil in their particular region, thus
some grow sugar-cane, others coffee or cocoa, cotton, and so on.
The poorer peasants have few tools, a machete, a rough hoe,
and a spade are all that the majority possess. Ploughs, carts,
and barrows are almost unknown to those who cultivate small-
holdings. I watched a girl planting beans on a hill-side one

Gun Corridor.

Till, CIT.\I)IlI.LI
Ssmal small section of trail up which all material for
This picture gives some idea of the massiveness of the the building of the C'itladelle was traiisported by
construction. man-power.


The walls are built directly on the rock.

day. She scraped a small hole in the soil with her big toe,
dropped a bean into it, and then covered the bean by scraping
with her toe again. The Government have recently introduced
a scheme whereby peasants are able to borrow more up-to-date
implements for land cultivation.
These peasants sell any surplus produce in the markets, the
women carrying what they have to sell in baskets or on trays
on their heads. They will carry weights up to 60 pounds in
this way and walk miles to the nearest market. The carrying
of things on their heads gives them their dignified, queenly
carriage. So well do they walk that it makes one feel it might
be worth while imitating them in this practice until like them
one could carry jars of water or trays of eggs, safely. Some
-peasants are able to load their goods on donkeys which have
panniers at each side, and walk alongside the donkey, but those
still more fortunate have their goods on one donkey and ride
on another one.
Until recent years Haiti was greatly troubled by bandits or
Cacos as they were called. The Cacos travelled about in bands,
and if they met a man bound for the market they would compel
him to join them. So dangerous did it become for men to
leave their homes that eventually they remained at home and
the women went to market. To-day the women refuse to change
this system. I have often stopped these market-bound women
when I wished to buy something on the road, but frequently
their shake of the head meant Not for sale." They delight
to meet their friends, smoke their pipes, and to gossip the day
away in the market. At the side of the main roads you see
peristyles, palm-thatched shelters open on all sides where
these market-bound people eat and, if they wish, spend the
night. After dark you see them crowded around low tables on
which a primitive lamp, consisting of a wick burning in oil,
gives a flickering light, talking or telling tales.
In the more remote regions the market is not always near a
town, a suitable centre being chosen and peasants from a
wide area congregate there. I enjoyed seeking out these
isolated markets. Rows of stalls are erected with awnings
of guinea-grass or palm-leaf thatch, but curiously enough,
most of the things for sale are spread on the ground in front


of the stalls. As a result there is a most extraordinary jumble
of coffee-beans, manioc roots, bananas, yams, and other
vegetable produce mingled with trays of cottons, pins, and
buttons, live chickens, tethered goats and fighting-cocks.
For the most part hygiene is neglected, the markets being
terribly dusty and swarming with flies. It is no uncommon
sight to see a saleswoman fast asleep on the ground in the
midst of her goods until a would-be customer wakens her.
The market is invariably crowded and the chatter and noise
has to be heard to be believed. There is always a stall devoted
to the sale of medicinal herbs, for the Haitians make many
kinds of herb tea and understand the use of plants for medicinal
purposes. China tableware, hats, dress materials, and the
usual things found in our markets are sold. In many places
in the market charcoal braziers are in use for cooking purposes.
Here is somebody boiling plantains, there cooking manioc on
a large griddle. No liquid is added to the sifted manioc and
the round cake is turned with a flat piece of wood. These
cassava cakes, in appearance rather like the soft oatcakes
made in this country, are hung on the roof to dry. As I stated
before, they make no butter, but small pats of lard are placed
on walnut leaves and sold at one-fifth of a penny per leaf.
One market that interested me very much was at Marfranc.
A river flows by Marfranc and the scene on the banks was
rather unusual. Crude rafts were in use for conveying mer-
chandise across the river and when they were unloaded
everything was piled in heaps on the shore. Natives sat in
the middle of these heaps, many of them cooking their dinners.
A mahogany-coloured boy, quite nude, was punting a raft
across. Three women with their clothes held high were wading
across up to their waists in water. Many were bathing, others
washing clothes. Everywhere there was great activity and
bustle. The most objectionable section in any market is that
where beasts are killed. The carcasses are immediately cut
up by men and women who proceed to cook the meat and sell
it ready for eating. This is a nauseating scene, with blood
all around, the bawling of animals, a horrible stench, and
swarms of flies.
A little removed from the stalls is a dispensary where a

white-coated Negro doctor and his assistant are working at
top pressure to treat the many patients. Skin diseases seem
to be the most common. Some of them are terrible. Each
receives a cheerful word, is told what to do and is given medicine
or lotion as required. Sores are dressed; quinine may be
had for those subject to malaria. Behind the dispensary
numerous horses and donkeys are tethered. On climbing a
small hill and looking down the scene is certainly lively and
picturesque. In one of these markets I bought a large, shady
hat for the equivalent of one penny.
A new road was opened from Port-au-Prince to Saltrou
while I was in Haiti, and my car was the first to go over this
road after it had been opened by the President. En route we
came to a market at a little place called Fonds Verrette.
The majority of the peasants in the market had never seen
a motor car and hundreds of them came around, all terribly
excited, shouting, chattering, and staring, the boldest putting
their hands inside to touch this and that, especially the horn.
So great was the crowd that it was some time before we could
drive on and we were so pleased to get away that we did not
stop to look at the market.
In the country towns there is generally a separate market for
beasts. At a town like Croix-des-Bouquets, for instance,
every Friday there is an active market for the sale of beasts
for killing, oxen for work, goats, fighting-cocks, mules, horses,
donkeys, etc. Apart from that all markets are much alike.
Coffee speculators often attend. They have a huge pair of
scales of a primitive type and buy coffee-beans in quantities
as small as one, two or three pounds. At the end of the day
the speculator has amassed a large quantity which he will
sell again to a merchant in the town.
I have heard people say that they would know what country
they were in by the smell, but I have never been conscious of
that until I arrived in Haiti. There is a definite odour that
persists everywhere, even in the mountains and the forests.
It is quite pleasant, but I never succeeded in finding out what
caused it. I wondered if it could be a combination of the
various smells in the numerous markets, but that is hardly
likely when you are still conscious of it in the mountains.

No particular flower is found growing in all districts, so the
cause remains a mystery, but I should certainly know Haiti
by its smell.
The processes used for the treatment of sugar and coffee
by the poorest peasants who produce too little to need a mill,
are simple in the extreme.
For extracting the syrup from sugar-cane they wedge a piece
of wood, in which a groove has been cut, into the trunk of a
tree, cutting a hole of a suitable size just above it to hold
one end of a movable arm of wood, a kind of lever. The cane
is then crushed between the two, the movable arm being used
to crush the cane, the juice flowing down the groove into a
receptacle. Some peasants own moulin-des-bites or animal-
mills for the extraction of syrup from the sugar-cane, or a
primitive type of coffee-mill.
I shall not readily forget the first time I saw a moulin-des-
bites. I was motoring from Port-au-Prince to Leogane and
had been admiring the fine sugar-cane in some plantations,
when suddenly we came to the mill. Six horses in groups of
three were running in a circle, in the centre of which was the
crushing-machine. The horses were galloping under the
blazing sun and were constantly lashed and prodded until
their flanks were covered with blood and a lather of sweat.
I just wanted to weep, but I was quite powerless to help the
poor beasts. Unfortunately there are many of these mills,
but all the men are not so cruel as those I first saw.
Incongruity characterizes Haiti. On the one hand you are
struck by the kindness and generosity of the peasants and
on the other by unexpected cruelties. A Haitian told me that
horses which have spent their lives working a crushing-mill
may, when they become old and blind, be put into a field far
from the mill to spend the rest of their days in peace, but they
still run round and round. Haiti is a hell for animals. I do
not think the peasants are deliberately cruel. It simply does
not occur to them that animals feel. I have seen donkeys drop
down dead through being overloaded. Often you can see
nothing of the donkey but its head. Hundreds of mongrel
dogs run about absolutely starving, so thin that their ribs
almost stick through the flesh. When I had any spare food


with me I fed some of the poor creatures, but at most only one
or two dogs got a square meal. A cultured Haitian who was
educated in England, said that what surprised him most on
his arrival in England was that people were kind to dogs and
made friends of them. All dogs suffer terribly from the various
ticks that abound in the grass. At the Splendid we had
four dogs, two French poodles oddly named Bonzo and Nyaba,
a beautiful spaniel known as Raffles, and Too-Toos, a little
crossed bull-terrier. These dogs had to be washed in disin-
fectant every day and even then by the time they had been
through the grass they had to be de-ticked. Dogs not so well
cared for lead a terrible life and suffer from sores, for the ticks
are large and black. Haiti is not a happy land for any dog,
even if it be the pet of a dog-lover. The horses that work the
coffee-mills are not so badly off. They walk around at a slower
gait so that a large wooden wheel forces the beans from the
cherries, these being in a groove in which the wheel turns.
The tendency nowadays is for these animal mills to be abolished.
There always have been hydraulic mills, and the mills of the
big proprietors are the most modem procurable.
The peasants often work on the counbite system, which is
to say, a group of male neighbours form a party and go to
work for a day on the fields of one man, sowing or reaping,
according to the season. Working all together, they quickly
finish the task, then transfer their work to another man for
a day and so on. This system has many advantages. It is
much pleasanter for many men to work together with a will
than for one or two men to work in a field, as in Haiti all
the men chant to the work drum, a large drum which one
man beats with sticks. If the drum stops work stops, but so
long as the irregular cadence of the drum is heard they toil
and sing, taking occasional drinks of taffia to make things
more lively.
The peasant proprietors employ labour. In some parts the
men are called to work by the lambi-a large shell similar to
the conch used in the Pacific Islands. In the days of the
Cacos the lambi was used for sending messages. To come
unexpectedly upon a man blowing the lambi is to realize that
one more pleasing incident has been added to your Haitian


experiences. You hear a peculiar kind of prolonged note and
wonder whence it comes, until you see a peasant with the large
shell at his mouth blowing a call to the men to resume work
after the midday meal. In some districts, when work is
over, you meet the workers dancing homeward, for a Haitian
is never too tired to dance. Simple melody and rhythm are
the ordinary modes of expression of the Negro, music and
dancing supplying zest to their workaday lives. Whenever
Haitians work in groups they chant and the drum beats out a
rhythm-no rhythm no work.


To ATTEND a cock-fight is one of the favourite amusements
in Haiti. Every male peasant seems to own at least one
fighting-cock of which he is inordinately proud. He carries
his favourite in his arms, sometimes hooded, and fondles it
in the same way that we fondle dogs. If a child has a pet it
is usually a chicken, and little girls and boys sit outside the
huts lovingly stroking and talking to these pets. During
the daytime a fighting-cock is kept tethered to a small stake
by a cord sufficiently long to permit it to move in a fairly
large circle. These birds are highly bred, nervous, and
courageous, and are endowed with wonderful powers of en-
durance. Great attention is paid to their diet, and they are
fed on measured quantities of special food. The peasants
have no idea of how to treat horses, donkeys, or dogs, but
they are experts on their fighting-birds. They understand all
the points of a good fighter, and those who are able will pay
as much as 30 for a good bird. Sunday is the great day for
this sport in Haiti. In all parts of the country you come
upon rings of beaten earth surrounded by palings where the
fights take place. I have witnessed the beginning of a fight
many times, but I never waited until the battle became
too serious.
One admirable characteristic in the Haitians of all classes
is the great respect they pay to the aged. The old people
are truly reverenced and they receive the greatest possible
consideration. When a cock-fight takes place the old men
are always provided with chairs in the best ring-side positions,
whereas all other spectators stand.
In Puerto Rico they put spurs on the cocks but I am glad
to say they do not do that in Haiti. This sport is certainly
not to be encouraged, or admired, but is, I think, less cruel
than bull-fighting. In the latter instance the animal is goaded

to fight, whereas a cock longs to fight, and as soon as it sees its
opponent it goes at it with apparent joy. The birds are
sprayed before the fight begins. Circling around each other
like boxers seeking an opening they get to work in earnest.
There is great excitement around the ring; men compare
the points and betting is heavy. I never could comprehend
how the peasants made the money for such bets, but probably
they had obtained it at previous fights. Outside the ring
women sell refreshments, but I never saw a Haitian woman
watching a cock-fight. A licence is paid for these arenas,
but I am sure there are many in the interior of Haiti that the
Government knows nothing about.
I mentioned the processions of dancers you meet when
motoring at night. They are all on the way to some Congo
dance which will not be in full swing until about midnight.
Every Saturday night these dances are held throughout Haiti.
A Congo dance is the most popular form of entertainment,
beloved by peasants of both sexes, and is held under a palm-
leaf or straw-thatched shelter erected on poles and called
a tonnelle. It is unfortunate that all the most interesting
events in Haiti take place under cover of night when to take
a photograph is impossible. You would not dare to take
a flash-light picture for the flash would frighten the peasants
and fear of the unknown would almost certainly cause them to
attack you. A dance under the tonnelle would make a wonderful
picture. Two or three small oil-lamps provide a flickering
light, which adds to the mysterious effect. In one comer are
the three drummers who beat their drums faster and faster
as the hours pass and more and yet more taffia is drunk.
There is no connection between a Congo dance and a
Voudou dance, though the three Voudou drums are used in
each case. A Congo dance is merely for amusement and takes
some little time to work up. The drummers beat out rhythms
with indefatigable energy. At first people stand about chatting,
many of the women smoking pipes, some patronizing the sellers
of refreshments. Soon the drums begin to have some effect
and a man or a woman will start to dance alone, generally
with arms raised above the head. They never hold each other
as in our dances; even if a man and woman dance facing

each other, as they often do, they never touch each other, all
becoming so absorbed in their own individual movements as
to become quite oblivious to their surroundings. The men
often carry a stick in the right hand and sometimes hold it
above the head with both hands. As time passes more and
more dancers join in, all chanting as they dance, using the
same short chant over and over again. Gradually the crowd
of dancers becomes so congested that the heat and the crush
add to the excitement. Perspiration literally drips from the
drummers as faster and faster their hands move until the eye
cannot follow them. The scene becomes more frenzied, dancers
whirl and shiver and chant, chant and tremble and whirl,
every muscle of the body being brought into play, and some-
times a dancer will fall to the ground exhausted and be
carried off, but as soon as he recovers he returns and again
joins the dance. Often many hundreds attend a Congo dance,
especially at holiday times and when the moon is full. As
the hours pass there comes a time when you know it will be
wise to leave. If the reader has seen dancing and heard
chanting in the various African films, he knows what it is
like in Haiti in the small hours of the morning. At dawn
I have shivered in my bed on hearing the frenzied chanting
and drumming though the dance may be a few miles away in
the mountains. Sound carries far in the still Haitian air,
but the chanting of frenzied Negroes strikes terror to the heart
of a white person even though he knows they are only amusing
themselves. I am told that often they throw off their clothes
and dance naked before dawn breaks. Haitian peasants are
kind, lovable, peaceable, and candid people, but when they are
full of the drum music and taffia I do not like to be too near.
They might be all right, but I would rather not risk experiment-
ing. I have watched innumerable Congo dances, but always
departed before dawn.
Perhaps only those who have lived in close contact with the
throbbing drums of Haiti realize the powerful effect they have
on the nervous system. Hour after hour the savage, relentless
rhythm pulsates through the eerie stillness of the night, with
not one second's intermission, mercilessly pounding until the
sound seems to be inside your head, your nerves become affected

and in spite of your own volition the savage in you becomes
cognizable. Hidden depths of primitive emotion of which
you were unaware, are roused; momentarily you become a
savage with the psychology of a savage. After centuries of
civilization, if you did not exercise powerful control, you would
dance with the peasants, dance and dance, compelled by
that remorseless, irresistible call of the drums. It is no use
exclaiming Shocking " Repugnant! the primitive lies
dormant in all of us, and I believe that every white person
who has listened to Voudou drums for long hours at a stretch
will confirm my statement. If white people with their care-
fully cultivated control are affected by the drums, how much
greater must be their domination over the primitive people,
especially when the brain is excited by alcohol. The Haitian
Government, realizing that the drums are detrimental in their
influence, has forbidden the use of Voudou drums except at
week-ends or on holidays. How can their representatives
enforce the order in the mountains and the forests ? To trace
the source of the sound of drums is extremely difficult. They
are most elusive, the sound, as you follow it, seeming to change
its direction so that it becomes a matter of amusement to
locate the Congo dance where the drums are throbbing. In
the mountains the echoes make the tracing of the drums even
more difficult so that it is next to impossible to enforce the
law and in remote districts the drums are still heard nightly.
I well remember one early morning when I could not sleep
for the noise. At about 4 a.m. I went out on to my balcony.
There was a full moon and myriads of stars. Away in the
mountains the multitude, maddened by the throbbing of drums
and chanting, maddened by drink and rhythmic movement,
made pandemonium. They sounded demented. Booming
drums, shrill chants, crowing of cocks, barking of packs of dogs,
croaking of countless frogs and over all, the bells of the
Roman Catholic churches tolling loudly and solemnly for
early Mass-where can you experience dawns so weird as in
Haiti ?
I have mentioned taffia as being the favourite drink for
various occasions. Taffia is raw rum matured for one week
only, whereas rum is usually matured for at least three years.


Taffia or clairin is the residue after the first distillation. It
is very fiery and contains a high percentage of alcohol. The
distillery of Hasco alone sells 450,ooo gallons of clairin per year,
and before a tax was levied 5,000,000 gallons per year were
It is interesting to trace the evolution of the peasants by
comparing the customs of those who live in the remote moun-
tain areas and in the forests with those who have come into
contact with town life and had some education. In nothing
is the difference so striking as in the marriage and more
particularly in the funeral customs.
Some of the peasants are still polygamists and in the out-
lying districts a man will have as many wives as he can main-
tain. Each wife has her own hut and garden. In the forest
on the way to Bainet, we met an old peasant who told us that
he had thirty-three children by four wives. He was on his way
to visit a wife and her children who lived a few miles away.
I always imagined that where there was more than one wife
the wives would not be on very friendly terms, but I was
wrong. When polygamy is the accepted custom the wives
seem to be very good friends.
A wedding in Haiti is apt to be very expensive, so often a
couple live as man and wife for years, then when they feel
they can afford the luxury, they have a wedding ceremony.
On the Isle of La Gonave, in 1933, there were no Church
marriages and no Church burials, yet 500 children were
I was invited to a peasant wedding in La Vall6e. I had
called upon these people when I wanted to buy some fruit
one day. Three little girls came and put their arms around
me, begging me to go to the caille where they lived, so to
please them I went. The family had a fairly large holding
and some good huts. These people were very good to me,
served black coffee in dainty china cups on a tray covered
with an embroidered cloth. They invited me to the wedding
of one of the daughters who was the sister of one of the little
girls. This was to be a really big event-a Church wedding.
The ceremony was at 7 a.m. and I had to drive from Port-au-
Prince nearly to Jacmel, about fifty-three miles, and had to

ford the river several times. I arranged to start at 4.30 a.m.,
but as Moretta did not put in an appearance till nearly an
hour later it ran us very late. I was told they would wear
evening dress for the wedding, so I wore a pretty white dress,
but went wrong in failing to take my riding kit as well. The
weather was glorious when we left Port-au-Prince, but on
nearing La Valle rain fell in torrents. The soil in La Valle
is dark red and when it rains the red clay is terribly greasy,
and we went skidding along in dangerous fashion. Arriving
at the compound we found the wedding-party had already
left on horseback for the church on the mountain, an uphill
ride taking more than an hour. They had waited for me
until they dare not wait any longer. This did not worry me
a great deal, because the church ceremony was unlikely to be
unusual in any way. How it rained! Before I could get
out of the car they had to put huge palm leaves for me to
walk over to the hut. Warm tropical rain is very depressing
and it damped my spirits as well as my clothing. The three
women who had been left at the hut were very pleased to
see me and gave me a breakfast of fried eggs and boiled
plantains, but nothing to drink. At eleven a.m. the wedding-
party returned. Two or three from the hut had run out and
I could hear them shouting: La blanc est arrive, la blanc
est arrive." (In Creole any white person is a blanc"
irrespective of sex.) My arrival caused much excitement.
There were about one hundred people on horseback and they
were thoroughly drenched and splashed. I was sorry for them
as the rain had obliged the bride and bridegroom to remove
their wedding garments and wear something more serviceable.
They were a good-looking couple. All the guests who could
find room crowded into the house, where they drank coco-cola
that I had brought for them. I wished the pair much happi-
ness, and the bridegroom made a speech thanking me for the
presents I had brought and inviting me to stay with them
for a few days before I left Haiti. The bride and groom as is
usual at these weddings ate from one plate and drank from
the same glass. All the men had knives in embossed leather
cases on their hips. Oh how annoyed I was about the rain.
A great feast was to be held at the bride's new home, some

distance away over trails, and there was I in a thin white
dress. How could I ride a wet horse in tropical rain ? I could
have wept at having to miss such an opportunity. Well,
there it was, I could not go but I watched them start off
and it was quite an impressive sight. I understand that on
arrival at the house the bridegroom enters first and closes the
door. The bride then knocks three times upon the door, crying :
" Mon maria, mon mari, ouvrez moi la porte." He opens the
door and hands her the keys, a blue handkerchief, and a piece
of bread. This is no doubt symbolic of the fact that he will
provide her with a home, food, and clothes. The feast then
proceeds with much merrymaking.
Peasants who have a church wedding such as this do not
have more than one wife. I fear that some of them have
concubines nevertheless. That wedding was one of the
greatest disappointments I had in Haiti because I saw so
little of it and had looked forward to it with such eager
anticipation. I was unfortunate in not having another
opportunity of seeing a peasant wedding.
It is in the funeral customs that great differences are found
according to the district. From the time that you come into
contact with the peasants you realize that their beliefs about
death and the after-life affect their lives to a great extent.
You learn, for instance, before taking a drink of wine in the
open air to spill a small quantity on the ground for the lois,
or the spirits of the dead. You see bowls of food placed at
the crossroads and on graves for the dead. In some parts
as soon as physical maturity is reached it is time to make a
coffin, and a person may have his coffin in readiness for thirty
years or more.
The reader would be rather surprised to sit down to a meal
and find a corpse present, but that can easily happen in the
remote parts of Haiti. As soon as a person dies he is dressed
in his best clothes and seated in a chair, which is drawn up
to the table at meal-times, and food is placed in front of the
corpse, sometimes a pipe or a cigarette being placed in the
mouth. By law, owing to the climate, a corpse is supposed to
be buried within twenty-four hours. In the mountains,
however, the law is constantly disobeyed.

A funeral provides the excuse for much feasting and junket-
ing. The idea behind the wake is that the dead should be
surrounded by relatives and friends and have a really jolly
party before leaving. Peasants think nothing of going a ten
or twelve hours' journey on foot or on horseback to a funeral.
It may be they never knew the person in life, but on arrival
they will wail and cry until sometimes they fall exhausted.
They will then get up and eat a hearty meal, for food and
drink is always provided in liberal quantities. The wake "
is held throughout the night before the funeral. It must be
understood that the peasants believe the spirits of the dead
return to dwell amongst the living. They remain around
the district in which they lived, they see everything that takes
place and watch the behaviour of those left behind. In this
supernatural world, though they are invisible, they have needs
similar to those in the flesh; they need the devotion of their
children and other relatives; and they need food to maintain
their spirit life. At the veillie, which as stated lasts all night,
a Mistress of Chants is chosen. She sings the verses then all
join in the choruses. First they sing chants of a religious
character, then they choose subjects more akin to our popular
songs, and when tired of singing, tell stories. Great merriment
is caused by the escapades of Ti Malice and Uncle Bouqui.
At the veillies in the Cul-de-Sac a ventriloquist performs.
On the whole then a veillie is a very cheerful event and is
supposed to entertain the departed who remains seated in
the midst of the company. When everything is prepared for
the funeral all the chairs in the house are overturned and
some Voudou chant is sung by the people standing. In some
places a child is passed under the coffin three times.
A Roman Catholic priest told me of an incident that
happened shortly before my talk with him. He had been to
bury a peasant in the mountains. When he arrived at the
caille the people were not ready and made little effort to get
ready. At last he said: "Come, come, you must be quick;
I cannot wait all day. Hurry up, hurry." Seeing one man,
who was wearing green horn-rimmed spectacles, making no
effort, he shook him by the sleeve, at which all shouted at
him O-o don't shake him, he's the corpse."

A young woman died and left a child three months old.
The dead woman was propped in a chair for three days holding
a doll, the idea being that she should be content and not
fetch the child. A man who died held a large white cross
three feet high. In this case the justice of the peace arrested
the people concerned, not because of the cross, but they had
delayed the burial for five days.
When the funeral procession is actually ready the most
primitive of the peasants carry the coffin on their heads and
dance to the grave in a zigzag course, chanting to the beating
of drums. Although they believe that the spirits of the departed
remain among them it would seem that they do not wish to
have them actually in the house. The chairs are overturned
so that they shall not find it comfortable if they return and the
zigzag path is taken so that the spirit will not easily find its
way back. Some peasants sprinkle iron spikes on the road
taken by the funeral procession to prevent evil spirits from
following the procession or returning to the house. The coffin
is not carried on the heads of the bearers in all parts of the
country. I met a procession composed of peasants who were
evidently so poor they could not even afford a plain wood
coffin, in place of which a few boards partly covered the body
which was wrapped in banana leaves. This they carried by
Missionaries have told me that their first peasant funeral
made them physically sick, so terribly gruesome were the
details a few years ago. In Northern Haiti a family often
keeps one hut for the use of the lois or spirits. The hut is
furnished and food and drink is constantly on the table, but no
living person eats or sleeps there. I have often seen wine-
glasses on graves in addition to bowls of food, and sometimes
where a wooden cross marks a grave, a cob of corn is suspended
and a whip is wrapped round the top. I was unable to learn the
signification of the whip, but I am inclined to think it is to
represent a snake. (See serpent-worship.)
Among the Voudouists it is forbidden to bury a corpse
without washing it with a special preparation made by the
Papoloi (Voudou priest), who alone knows the secret of the
composition. Certain talismans are placed in the grave and

this I understand is done because there is a possibility that the
spirit may be reincarnated or may survive as a wandering
shadow, in which case these talismans will be needed. A few
of the Voudou priests know how to embalm a body, and
occasionally this is done.
Often burials take place near the compound of the family,
but there are many roadside cemeteries. It is most important
that graves should be where many people pass or where the
relatives can watch the grave, because certain Black Magic
cults tamper with them, as I shall explain in the chapter
on Black Magic. For the same reason heavy concrete slabs
are placed over the grave as soon as possible. The name
of the dead must not be mentioned before the tomb is
The above deals with the rites of the recently dead, but there
are also special rites commemorating their ancestors. Manger
Lois," or Feasts for the Dead, keep many peasants in perpetual
poverty. They save money over a period of time for a Manger
Lois," before the date of which they buy enormous quantities
of food and numerous bottles of the best wines and spirits
procurable. Long tables are laid for the feast of which no
human being will partake.
A ceremony takes place, after which the food is buried or in
odd cases scattered on the ground, and the bottles buried with
the seals unbroken.
The peasants who live nearer the coast, and who come in
contact with life in the towns and with Christian missionaries,
no longer wail and make such a noise at funerals, but they still
hold Veillees," and provide Manger Lois."
Roman Catholicism is the accepted national religion of
Haiti, but a large percentage of the population are out-and-out
Voudouists or worship in both the Roman Catholic churches
and the Voudou temples. There is religious freedom in the
country, and most of the Protestant bodies have churches.
The Baptists have an English missionary at Cap Haitien;
the Wesleyans have one English and one Irish missionary;
and, in connection with these two bodies, there are many
native ministers of ability. The Episcopalians have a few
American clergy, and the Roman Catholics have numerous

Reprod ured lv% ki nd Jperm i i son oA ( 'aptauIin BI h n S. hi gmin)
annd 7 heL I/Inn tv nh d I-,monnnn f\trnnnn thne porinn~ ntrait
by\ Ridu anid IA ann, (I 7, I 71.-

A\ '(-ntnInvnn- ;Ill hen ',vel atte y

TEMPLEii~i SIIO'.\IN(; ]1()AI ()F -r\0(N.I:


French priests and one English priest. The peasants are deeply
religious, their religion being to them a very personal matter,
and their faith is simple but sincere. I have seen peasants
standing before statues of saints addressing them in this
manner : Saint -, I have not sold my fish this morning ;
what are you going to do about it ? I must sell my fish this
afternoon or I shall not like you any more." I called at a little
church in an out-of-the-way place not many miles from Port-
au-Prince, named Delmas. Here personal messages had been
written on the walls in pencil by Haitians-not necessarily
Vendez des deux maisons pour moi.-F. Camille."
Line, translated, reads: Remove all injustice from me and
give me the key to make me live properly like other women, as
I have work to do. After a recompense will be given you."
Another : Notre Dame AltagrAce, have pity on me. I want
work." These signed messages were scrawled all over the walls.
Periodically they are all washed out, after which slate-cleaning,
so to speak, the writing is resumed. In the country districts
there are numerous churches that were built by the French and
are in an excellent state of preservation. They are still in
regular use. A peculiar characteristic of these churches is that
the bell is always outside the church and apart from it. Not
all the beautiful churches were built in Colonial days, however,
the Haitians have erected many that are fine specimens of
ecclesiastical architecture.
There are two sections of Haiti where the peasants have been
receiving regular education for many years. When you meet
the peasants of La Vall6e (in the Jacmel area) and of the district
around Moron in the south, you realize how intelligent they are.
All that the peasant lacks is opportunity for education ; their
ignorance is merely lack of school teaching. I visited the school
at Moron, which has been controlled by priests (Roman
Catholic) since it was built. It is on the mountain-side in a
glorious situation commanding magnificent views, and provides
an excellent training for 300o boys and 250 girls. Unfortunately
the heat was so great at the time of my visit and I felt so
wretchedly ill that I did not get as many details as I would
otherwise have done. The French priest in charge was a highly

cultured, interesting man, with whom, in different circum-
stances, I would have enjoyed a long talk. The Roman Catholic
school in La Vallee is also on a mountain-side, 6ooo feet above
sea-level, and caters for 350 girls and 475 boys, many of whom
walk or ride many miles to and from the school.
There are actually 132 schools organized and supported by
religious bodies in rural Haiti, but they have not the same
standing of the two just mentioned. It is only during the last
few years that much has been done by the Haitian Government
to provide education for the peasants, but they have done a
great deal in a short time. It is difficult for anyone who does
not know Haiti to appreciate the difficulties encountered in
organizing anything for a population so scattered. A suitable
centre has to be found, a building erected and furnished, and
then the parents have to be interested before the children will
attend. A school attendance officer cannot very well penetrate
into even nook and cranny of wild mountain ranges to find the
huts hidden therein. Then again the weather is a problem.
During the rainy season it is quite impossible for many children
to get to school, however anxious they may be to do so.
Haiti being a country in which agriculture is the mainstay of
the people, the Government has set up many Farm Schools.
Two-fifths of the class hours in these institutions are devoted
to the study of agricultural work, and the rest of the time to
ordinary primary instruction. I have visited a considerable
number of these schools and have been delighted at the progress
made. The fine buildings are of a type suitable to the tropics
and, although the work for the most part is necessarily of a
simple character, it is well done. The rural education problem
in Haiti does not consist only in educating the children. For
many years to come the prevailing living conditions will oppose
the retention of the training received in the schools. I do not
wish to bore my readers with a treatise on education, but I
will supplement these remarks in an appendix. Suffice it to
say here that in 1934 there were 322 rural schools staffed by
427 teachers, and attended by approximately 24,000 pupils.
These were supplemented by the 132 schools organized by
religious bodies. It will be readily seen that a considerable
time must elapse before education is available for every

child, but a good beginning has been made. Of world affairs,
or even of events in his own country, the Haitian peasant
shows a pathetic ignorance, but he is neither lazy nor stupid.
Many do not know the name of their President; I doubt if
they realize how small a part of the world their island is;
their lives are extremely simple, their interests focused on their
immediate surroundings and affairs. Yet I maintain their
potentialities are great and, given the opportunity, they will
take their place as capable, useful members of the community.
If the peasants are ignorant of the usual school subjects,
of economics and politics, they are rich in traditional knowledge
and folk-lore. How do they spend the long evenings when they
crowd around a table on which burns a light so feeble that it
is difficult to see the faces of those present ? How do they
spend the evening hours in the peristyle ? When the gossip of
the day has been discussed from every angle they tell stories.
In a party of peasants you always find at least one person
who is an adept at story-telling. Many of these stories have
been told by generation after generation and originally came
from Africa; others have a local origin, and the fund is
continually increasing. Many of these stories are extremely
amusing, especially the interminable escapades of Ti Malice
and Uncle Bouqui.
There is a tradition that if a story is told in daylight the teller
will lose his father, mother, or some other dear one. The
stories must be told at night. Dr. Price Mars says : We begin
our stories by a Cric,' to which the audience replies:
' Crac. This comes from Colonial days from the Bretons. In
the case of the slaves the narrator announced his recitation by
'Alo,' to which the audience replied 'Alo.' 'Cric, crac,' is
succeeded by another question : Time, time ?' Then accord-
ing to whether the narrator is more or less disposed to gratify
the party with one or more stories he replies Bois,' or
' Bois s6che.' The dialogue continues: How many will
you give ? ' None, one, two or more.' It seems that this
method of proving the good disposition of a narrator is purely
Haitian. In spite of careful research we cannot find anything
similar in the folk-lore of other peoples. The tale always ends :
'Ce ca m'tale oue moin tombe jusqu'icite,' which translated

means : So I have given an account of myself and I leave
your company.' "
The dominant note of the stories is comedy and satire. They
are simple in plot but sparkle with fun. The story is told with
dramatic effect; people are depicted with much realism and
action, the inflexion of the voice, the movements of the hands,
and the ever-changing expression of the face all combining
to hold the attention of the audience.
The stories of Ti Malice and Uncle Bouqui are somewhat akin
to the stories of the Fox and the Hare. Ti Malice is small and
somewhat sly and cunning. He always makes fun of his big
Uncle Bouqui and tries to get the better of him. Uncle Bouqui,
however, though big and slow, is very good-natured and by no
means stupid. He reminds one of the mass of the Haitian
peasants, patient and resigned, but very intelligent. A few
years ago the Haitian Government appointed an American
doctor as specialist in mental disorders at the lunatic asylum
at Pont Beudet. This doctor takes a very great interest in the
peasants and their ways. For some time past he has arranged
for a group of peasants to visit his house one evening each
week. In the large, airy lounge they sit around telling stories
and enjoying themselves to the full. The stories have been
written down, and I expect the best ones will shortly be pub-
lished. The heroes of Haiti, such as Henri Christophe, provide
the material for more stories. In addition to stories and legends
the peasants have a fund of proverbs.
The semi-darkness of the hut, the star-spangled sky seen
through the open doors, the sighing of the wind in the trees,
the innumerable murmurings, rustlings, and almost inaudible
movements that always lend an air of mystery to a tropic
night, provide an atmosphere for the full play of the
superstitious imagination of the peasants.
With their innate love of the mysterious they frighten them-
selves and each other by telling of weird experiences with
werwolves, or loups garous, fire-hags and vampires. They are
certain these things exist, and I have listened to dozens of stories
told in all seriousness as though a werwolf were as common
as an ordinary dog. This is the type of story I mean: A dog
ran into a market and sniffed at some fish, which immediately

became bad. A stone was thrown at the dog and hit it.
That night an old woman was found with bruises in the same
portion of her body as where the stone had hit the dog. This
old woman was a werwolf, that is to say, a man or a woman
who takes the form of an animal such as a dog and kills lambs,
goats, or even babies. An animal is shot and utters a peculiar
cry. A man is afterwards found with a gunshot wound in a
similar part of his anatomy and, strange to say, the bullet
taken from the man's wound fitted the gun of the man who shot
the animal. The wounded man was a werwolf.
A child is losing weight, gradually fading away. A spot the
size of a pin-head is found on its throat. Ah! this is the work
of a vampire, and any woman in the neighbourhood who
happens to have ugly red hair may be suspected of being the
vampire that is sucking the child's blood.
Fire-hags cause fires in the cane-fields.
In a bulletin on the subject of Tuberculosis, issued by the
Government Department for Public Health, it is stated that the
fear of loups garous causes the peasants to sleep with their
doors closed.
Nobody will touch an animal after midnight if it is seen on
the road lest it be some human being who has taken animal
Donner un gros pie." To bring evil upon anybody say,
by means of the evil eye, is according to the peasants of the
mountains and the forests a common occurrence. In mixing
with the peasants in remote areas one has to bear in mind all
kinds of strange dangers. If after your visit a child is taken ill,
an animal dies, a crop fails, or some other disaster occurs, they
may attribute the whole thing to the last visitor. Peasants,
normally gentle and patient, are apt to become filled with
hatred towards anyone who is supposed to have put the evil
eye on them.
Hundreds of peasants wear small bags around their necks.
These are ouangas, or charms. The peasant uses a ouanga
because he believes that some hidden force will guide and help
him, that something or someone will operate silently and
secretly through the ouanga. The Ouangateur, or magician,
who makes the charm, is supposed to utilize objects or

substances that carry cosmic forces potentially hidden in their
constituent ingredients. The object is to obtain the co-opera-
tion of these forces for a definite purpose. A ouanga contains
different substances according to the purpose for which it is
required. Twisted nails with string bound round them, bones
or pieces of bone, powder, herbs, and leaves are used. A very
simple love charm consists of two needles point to eye tightly
bound with wool and wrapped in leaves. Do you wish to have
a ouanga to bring you good luck ? A Ouangateur told me how
to make one, and this is what he said :
Take corn and petit mils. Partly cook the corn, and when
you are out of doors throw a few grains at the crossroads, a
few into the forest, a few into running water, and leave some
on a dish under the sun and the moon and the sky. Have a
red cloth bag made previously. Place the petit mils on plates,
several seeds on each plate, while reciting an African prayer.
Pick up some seeds from each plate and place in the bag, then
fasten it up. Nobody knows how many seeds are in the bag,
so long as the number remains unknown you will have good
luck, but if anyone discovers the number your good luck will
This is a very simple ouanga : most ouangas require cere-
monies much more complex and contain a greater variety of
constituents that I cannot very well mention here. Some are
love ouangas to attract the love of a desired sweetheart; some
to give protection to the wearer, and so on. A woman near
Cap Haitien was wearing a ouanga bag with a gold ring sewn
to it. When questioned as to the meaning of the ring, she said
she had married herself to the devil with it. There are many
devil worshippers in Northern Haiti, and evidently she was one
of them.
Unfortunately all ouangas are not used to bring good fortune
to the owners. Many come under the heading of Black Magic
and are intended to bring evil upon the individual for whom they
are made. Such ouangas are often placed on the step or thres-
hold of the door of the dwelling where the victim resides, some-
times on a table or anywhere in a room where the victim is
certain to find it.
Whether you consider a ouanga as potent or not, it would be

extremely unwise to ignore the fact if you find one around
your dwelling in Haiti. It behoves you to be on guard, particu-
larly if it seems to be a death ouanga. It is, of course, quite
impossible to say whether a talisman can be effectual in such
a case. Talismans have been used by all races in every country
in the world. In our own country even to-day advertisements
are to be found in newspapers offering good-luck charms.
When a custom is universal it is surely worth while to consider
it and to search for any scientific explanation.
As already stated, a ouanga is a sort of storage battery, in
which a live force is bound into inanimate or dead matter.
Actually it is not the talisman that does the work ; its potency
depends entirely upon the secret rites and ceremonies employed
when it is made. So far as Haiti is concerned, the correct
method of making a ouanga for a definite purpose is a secret
transmitted to the first-born only. The secret ceremony is
indispensable if the latent occult virtues of the substances
used are to be awakened.
A simple ouanga is made by one individual; it may even
be made by the person concerned, but a really powerful ouanga,
whether for good or evil purposes, requires an elaborate cere-
mony, and the specialized knowledge of a Papaloi or Houngan
if for good, or a Bocor if for evil. These men (or women) are
trained members of a cult, not necessarily religious, who have
perfect faith in the potential powers of the substances used,
which they treat in such a way that they become dynamic,
for good or ill.
Plants and special herbs play a great part in the making
of ouangas. These herbs are dedicated to definite cosmic
forces and are called ouanga-plants. They are dried, ground
to powder, and kept in separate jars, bottles, or boxes. I have
seen many of these powders, and have been told they are
extremely powerful ; some are poisonous. The plants or
leaves are collected according to the season and thile phase of
the moon. If to be used for good purposes tlhe leaves art,
gatliered gently and are pulled upwards, after which they" are
Messed under the guidance of a departed spirit, or loi. If for
evil, thlie leaves are pulled roughly from the tree in a downward
direction and afterwards cursed.


"Good luck" ouangas, love ouangas, and others desired to
bring happiness, contain pleasant substances, and are made
under cheerful conditions. The contents of a ouanga to be used
for destruction are often of a horrible and disgusting nature.
Colour, shape, and number invariably play an important part
in making a ouanga, as does the material of the container.
Every cosmic force is associated with a special colour, number,
shape, and so on.
Does the personal magnetism of the person consecrating
the ouanga, aided by ceremonial, charge it with energy ?
Certainly he or she must build up a thought form according to
the force dealt with.
Many of my readers will think it absurd to consider in detail
the scientific side of what at first sight appears merely super-
stitition. But, after all, superstition is the surviving remnant
of a true tradition or religion. Negroes, without exception,
believe in hidden forces, supernatural forces if you will, though
superphysical is a better word.
There always seem to have been people who believed that
the visible world is built out of and controlled by invisible
forces, and that if we understood these forces, their connection
with each other, and their periodicity, we should be able to
understand, forecast, explain, and probably direct all the
manifestations of the physical world.
Whatever our personal opinion may be we are bound to
recognize the fact that among the Negroes, ouangas have the
desired effect. How do they act ? The simplest kind made by
an individual depends entirely upon faith or fright, that is to
say, upon auto-suggestion. The second type, those placed in
charge of the spirit of a person recently dead, seem to act by
means of neuro-psychosis. The more complex types dedicated
to some spirit under the influence of a certain planet seem to
bring about obsession. With the last kind we observe the
phenomenon of a changed personality leading to folly.
One of the leading doctors in Haiti has made a special study
of Voudouism and magic in the island, and declares that the
spirit in charge of a powerful ouanga may be either a spirit of
a dead person or a spirit that has never been incarnated. He
states that the Ouangateurs say that to test the presence of

the spirit and cosmic force at the rite of consecration several
strands of twine are tied together and thrown to the ground.
If the spirit be present these pieces of twine will move serpent-
like whenever the name of the spirit is invoked and when
libation is offered. The ouanga is then considered perfect as
the force has penetrated it to produce the desired effect at the
critical moment.
If a person suffers evil effects as a result of a ouanga prepared
by a Black Magician, his only hope is to go to a Houngan, who
according to definite symptoms recognizes the case and uses
appropriate counter measures.
Ouanga-making is a magical art that has no connection with
religion. It is a common error to confuse Haitian sorcery with
Haitian religion. Sorcery is Black Magic pure and simple,
whereas religion is white magic in its essence. This is a most
important distinction. A Bocor is a Black Magician, a Papaloi
or Houngan is a Voudou priest.
Haiti is the world's chief centre of Black Magic. I neither
believe nor disbelieve in it. I know that queer things happen
in Haiti, as the reader will realize before this book is finished.


JACMEL IS frequently visited by people from Port-au-
Prince as a good road connects the two towns, which are only
about fifty miles apart. The first time I visited Jacmel I
stayed for a week round about Easter. The road from Port-
au-Prince is a fine, broad highway as far as Leogane, and, I
surmise, carries more traffic than any other in Haiti, for, in
addition to the inevitable stream of donkeys, ox wagons, and
private motor cars, we see motor trucks, and passenger buses,
known as camions, are numerous. Into these latter vehicles
passengers are packed like sardines. Live fowls, pigs, and goats
claim space with their owners, so that, although the camion
has open sides, the atmosphere cannot be said to be too salu-
brious ; the top and back are usually loaded with goods of all
descriptions. Imagine public conveyances in England loaded
in this fashion bearing such unusual names as Merci Dieu,"
" Ah la vie dr6le," etc.!
The President, who owns some banana plantations between
Port-au-Prince and L6ogane, is very interested in increasing
the national output of this fruit, and carries out experiments
for improving the industry. Fruit boats from the U.S.A. now
call regularly. In addition to the ordinary kind, a dwarf
banana of delicious flavour and only about the size of a man's
thumb is in great demand, but so far is limited in production.
The banana grower is in one respect at least more fortunate than
the coffee planter, having fewer pests to contend with, the
banana being immune from pest attacks inside the skin,
although thrips occasionally damage the skin itself, and
borers, which dig tunnels at the base of the plant, have to be
guarded against.
Around L6ogane, an area which by the way is a hot-bed of
Voudouism, are mangrove swamps in which is found a curious
freak of nature-oysters growing on trees, clinging to the
branches of the mangroves, which form dense groves along the

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs