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Title: The Present State of Hayti (Saint Domingo) with Remarks on its Agriculture, Commerce, Laws, Religion, Finances, and Population
Author: Franklin, Jameson J.
Language: English
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                         TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES:

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                                  THE

                        PRESENT STATE OF HAYTI,

                           (SAINT DOMINGO,)

                             WITH REMARKS

                                ON ITS

                AGRICULTURE, COMMERCE, LAWS, RELIGION,

                       FINANCES, AND POPULATION,

                               ETC. ETC.

                          BY JAMES FRANKLIN.

                                LONDON:

                    JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.

                             MDCCCXXVIII.



           G. WOODFALL, ANGEL COURT, SKINNER STREET, LONDON.



                               CONTENTS.

                                                                    Page

  PREFACE                                                            vii

  Introduction                                                         1


                              CHAPTER I.

  Situation and general description of the French and Spanish
  divisions, previously to the revolution in the former country.      13


                              CHAPTER II.

  Cause of the revolution in the colony.—People of colour in
  France.—Their proceedings.—League with the  society of Amis des
  Noirs.—Ogé’s rebellion.—His defeat  and death.—Conduct of the
  proprietors and planters.—Consequences  of it.                      39


                             CHAPTER III.

  First revolt of the slaves in 1791.—Their ravages.—Decree of
  the national assembly 4th April 1792.—Santhonax and Polverel—
  their secret agency.—Encourage the slaves.—Their declaration of
  freedom to the slaves.—Consequences arising from it.—Character
  of the slaves.—Disabilities of the coloured people.                 64


                              CHAPTER IV.

  Effects of emancipating the slaves.—Arrival of the British
  forces.—Their subsequent operations.—Evacuation by General
  Maitland.—M. Charmilly negotiates with the English.—Views of the
  English cabinet.—Parties in the contest.—And insincerity of the
  French planters.                                                    97


                              CHAPTER V.

  The period between the evacuation by the British forces and the
  arrival of the French army under Le Clerc.—Cultivation.—Law to
  enforce it.—Character of Toussaint.—Reverses.—His arrangement
  with the French general.—His seizure and removal to France.        117


                              CHAPTER VI.

  The period from the seizure of Toussaint to the final expulsion
  of the French by Dessalines, in 1803.—State of cultivation.—
  Commerce declined—and observations on the population.—Its extent.  161


                             CHAPTER VII.

  Independence declared.—Dessalines attempts to take the city of
  Santo Domingo.—Raised to the imperial dignity.—New constitution.—
  His atrocious massacres.—Attempts to import negroes from Africa.—
  Encourages cultivators.—Census taken.—State of his army.—His
  death and character.                                               175


                             CHAPTER VIII.

  Christophe takes the command.—His officers of government.—Promotes
  agriculture and commerce.—Petion
  opposes him.—Cessation of arms mutually
  agreed upon.—Christophe crowned king.—Code Henry.—Baron
  de Vastey’s opinions.—Commissioners from
  France.—Conduct to them.—Christophe pursues his
  system of government.—Petion relaxes in his.—His
  offers to the British government.—State of his dominions.—Has
  recourse to a debased currency.—Consequences.—His
  death.—Christophe negotiates for the possession
  of the Spanish part.—Revolution in his dominions.—His
  death.        195


  CHAPTER IX.

  Boyer elected president.—His character.—Revolution
  in the north—annexed to the south.—Revolution
  in Spanish part.—Union of the whole.—Measures
  pursued after.—Overtures to France.—Arrival of
  French fleet.—Negotiation and independence.—Baron
  Mackau.—Dissatisfaction prevails.—British consul-general.—Further
  dissatisfaction.—Determination not to
  pay the indemnity.—Voluntary loan attempted—it fails.—Observations
  on the inefficiency of government.—State
  of the military.—Naval force, etc.         232


  CHAPTER X.

  Topographical sketch.—State of the roads.—Mode
  of repair by criminals.—How criminals are treated.—Description
  of inns.—Accommodations at them.—Mode
  of travelling.—Value of land in several districts,
  and in towns.        271


  CHAPTER XI.

  Agriculture.—Crops in Toussaint’s and Dessalines’
  time.—System of Christophe and Petion.—Decline
  under Boyer.—Crops in his time.—Attempts to revive
  it.—Coercion resorted to.—Code Rural—doubts on
  enforcing its clauses.—Disposal of lands.—Consequences
  from it.—Incompetency of planters.—State of cultivation
  of sugar, coffee, cocoa, cotton, indigo.—Free labour.—Consequences
  arising from it—its inefficacy, etc.         317


  CHAPTER XII.

  Commerce.—State of exports and imports.—Exactions
  at the customs—depredations and impositions.—Foreign
  merchants—disabilities they labour under.—Insecurity.—State
  of finances.—Revenue, etc.        368


  CHAPTER XIII.

  Haytian jurisprudence.—State of the courts.—Trial
  by jury.—The judges.—Justices of the peace—their corruption.—State
  of the church.—Account of a missionary.—Schism
  in the church.—Moral and religious state
  of the people shewn by their mode of living.—Description
  of this mode.—Habitations described.—Furniture,
  etc.—Education—its progress.—Government do not encourage
  it.—Remarks on the consequences of not doing
  so.—Qualifications of senators and communes—shew
  the state of knowledge and education.           383


  CHAPTER XIV.

  Population.—Census 1824—opinion on it.—Further
  statement.—Manner of taking the census.—Checks to
  increase—decrease is evident—nature of those checks.—Increase
  in the United States, according to Raymond.—Conclusion.        402



PREFACE.


THE Author has prepared this work for the press somewhat hastily,
and under many circumstances which heavily oppressed him; he hopes
therefore that the want of arrangement, and the dearth of matter which
may be observed in his narrative, will not subject it to a severe
condemnation. In presenting it to the public, he is not actuated by any
personal considerations, his object being to convey some information
respecting the resources of a country, and the character of a people,
which have been so variously represented. The short delineation here
attempted will, in all probability, suffice to shew that the accounts
which have been given at different times of Hayti and its inhabitants
have been much too highly coloured by the zealous advocates of negro
independence; and he is ready to confess that at one time he was
somewhat dazzled by the description, and was almost made a convert to
their opinions. It having been his lot however, at a subsequent period,
to hold considerable intercourse with the country, he has been enabled
to form what he considers a more correct estimate of its present
condition. Experience has convinced him that the representations so
generally received of the improvement which it has made are greatly
exaggerated, and he is not without the hope that the following sheets
will convey more correct information on the subject, and thus prove
useful to the merchant, if not interesting to the general reader.

He readily admits that in the historical part he has touched upon
matters which have been already handled by other and much abler
writers; this could not be very well avoided, the annals of Hayti
affording but few events, and those having been often detailed. He
conceived that such a summary of the history of the country would
be necessary to illustrate the cause of the revolution, to shew
the decline which ensued in agriculture and commerce, the decay
of knowledge, and the progress of vice and immorality among the
inhabitants.

Actuated therefore by the desire of throwing some light on the state
of Hayti, and giving a faithful representation of the condition of its
population, he ventures to solicit the attention of the public to the
facts which have fallen under his own personal observation.



THE PRESENT STATE

OF

HAYTI,

OR SAINT DOMINGO.



INTRODUCTION.


AN account of the present state of Hayti I believe has not yet been
submitted to the public; to offer one likely to meet with a favourable
reception is, I am aware, an undertaking of considerable difficulty:
it requires, no doubt, that the author should be well skilled in the
various branches of knowledge, in order to render it in every respect
satisfactory and interesting to the public. Ignorant as I acknowledge
myself to be in the higher walks of philosophy, and educated solely for
the more humble avocations of a mercantile life, I can lay no claim
to such acquirements: I must therefore rest my hope of commanding any
degree of attention, on the truth and correctness of the statements
which I shall produce, founded as they are on actual observation. I
am conscious that I am standing on delicate ground, and touching on a
subject likely to excite angry feelings in those who have long been the
eulogists of the republic, who have been its advocates when assailed,
and who have held it forth to the world as a country in which wealth
abounds, virtue flourishes, and freedom reigns triumphant, instead of
the oppression, the vice, and the poverty which once prevailed there;
but I will not shrink from the undertaking, though powerful obstacles
may present themselves, and formidable opponents be arrayed against me.
My object in the following sheets is, to endeavour to dissipate this
delusion, and to shew that there is nothing to warrant the unqualified
panegyrics poured forth by those individuals who have been the most
conspicuous for their zeal and enthusiasm, in holding up Hayti as a
“land flowing with milk and honey”. In the performance of this, I have
no other aim than that of benefiting the merchant and capitalist, the
manufacturer, and the trader, who have had no opportunity of visiting
a country to which their speculations in commerce may lead them, by
guarding them against the shoals and quicksands upon which adventurers,
destitute of information, are so frequently wrecked.

The admirers of Hayti have been very industrious in circulating the
most deceptive accounts of the state of its commerce, by garbled and
exaggerated specifications. They have led many to believe that its
imports and exports are daily on the increase, and that the resources
of the people for the purchase of the products and manufactures of
other states receive a gradual and steady augmentation. I am much
deceived if I shall not succeed in convincing the reader that this
representation is a perfect delusion, and that from the diminished
means of the people, the commerce of Hayti, instead of increasing,
annually sustains a considerable diminution; and that while the
present state of things continues to exist—while its rulers are weak
and imbecile, and the mass of the population are kept in a state of
the grossest ignorance—there does not appear a ray of hope that any
improvement may take place in the circumstances of the country, or that
any change will be effected, likely to prove advantageous to foreigners
disposed to embark in an intercourse with Hayti.

Several visits to Hayti—in two of which I had, from the nature of
my mission, occasion to remain there a considerable time—gave me
opportunities of seeing the actual state of it, in all its different
branches of agriculture, commerce, finances, and the moral and
religious condition of its people, together with the state of its
government and the views of its chief. I am therefore encouraged
to hope that my details may be productive of some benefit to the
commercial part of the community, and not be altogether unacceptable
to others, whose avocations are different, but who may be desirous of
correct information respecting those parts of the globe of which they
may know but little except the name.

An historical account of Hayti would be a superfluous undertaking; I
see nothing to add to what has already been written by Charlevoix,
Raynal, Edwards, Walton, and others, in their elaborate and voluminous
works, and who have omitted nothing interesting, or worthy of being
recorded, from its first discovery by the illustrious Columbus down to
a very recent period. Every event connected with its history seems to
have been most faithfully detailed by these writers, and their works
are entitled to the highest credit and consideration, as containing the
best and most authentic account of this very extensive island.

Impelled, no doubt, as they were with a desire to afford to the world
every possible information relative to the resources of the country,
and of the character and general habits of the people, they have
left little to be performed by their successors, except to notice
the changes and events which may have taken place since the date of
their latest productions. Besides a copious and a faithful historical
sketch, they have given a correct statistical view of its agriculture,
its commerce, and public revenue; they have also pointed out the
slow advances made by the people in industry, in morality, and in
general knowledge: but little, therefore, remains to be said on these
subjects, except to call the attention of the reader to the striking
contrast which the present situation of the republic exhibits, when
compared with that which it displayed before the revolution; to give a
brief sketch of Hayti as it is, with an occasional reference to Hayti
as it was. I must beg leave to assure my readers, that in executing
this task, I am actuated by no unfair nor unjust motives; I am only
anxious that the highly coloured statements which have been published
respecting its present wealth and prosperity should be submitted to
the test of candid and impartial scrutiny. For a series of years Hayti
has been made the theme of constant praise, and has excited no little
share of the public attention, on account of the unexampled efforts
which its slave population made to throw off the fetters by which they
had been previously bound, and on account of their having, as their
eulogists declare, made the most rapid and extraordinary strides in
civilization and social improvement. It must be admitted that the
revolution effected in Hayti, was an event almost unparalleled in
history; and that a people just emerging from a state of barbarism
should have so successfully combated and defeated the finest troops
of France, is no doubt a circumstance calculated to call forth no
trifling portion of astonishment and admiration: but when the partial
eulogists of the Haytians go to the length of asserting that they have
arrived at a high degree of moral improvement, that they have reached
a state of refinement little inferior to that which generally prevails
in Europe, the limits of truth are overstepped: such overstrained
assertions are totally destitute even of the semblance of truth, and
my personal experience enables me to declare, in the most explicit
and unqualified terms, that at this very moment, the people of Hayti
are in a worse state of ignorance than the slave population in the
British colonies. There are some cases, it is true, in which instances
of intelligence have been discovered in the Haytian citizen, but this
never occurs except where individuals have had the advantages of an
European education, or who, being the descendants of persons who
previously to the revolution were possessed of wealth, had the means
of travelling, for the purpose of acquiring the manners and customs of
more enlightened nations. But taking the people in the aggregate, they
are far from having made any advances in knowledge.

It has also been commonly asserted by the friends of Hayti, and I
believe very generally credited in Europe, that it preserves its
agricultural pre-eminence solely by free labour; now I think I shall
be able to prove to a demonstration that this is not the case, and
that it is too evident, from every document that has yet appeared on
the subject, that agriculture has been long on the wane, and has
sunk to the lowest possible ebb in every district of the republic;
that the true art and principles of the culture of the soil, are not
understood, or if in the least known, they are not practically applied.
There is nothing to be seen having the least resemblance to a colony,
flourishing in the wealth derived from a properly regulated system of
agriculture.

On the subject of free labour I shall have occasion to offer a few
remarks, and I trust that in doing so, I shall not be considered as
inimical to it, where-ever it may be found practicable to obtain it; on
the contrary, no man would be more happy to see that our own colonies
could be cultivated by free labour, provided a full compensation
should be honourably made to those whose interests might be endangered
by the experiment, if unsuccessful; but I shall, I think, be able to
shew that this is _absolutely impracticable_, and that the system of
labour so pursued in Hayti, instead of affording us a proof of what
may be accomplished by it, is illustrative of the fact, that it is by
coercion, and coercion only, that any return can be expected from the
employment of capital in the cultivation of soil in our West India
islands. I shall also be able to shew that Hayti presents no instance
in which the cultivation of the soil is successfully carried on without
the application of force to constrain the labourer: on the estates of
every individual connected with the government, all the labourers
employed work under the superintendence of a military police, and it
is on these properties alone that any thing resembling successful
agriculture exists in Hayti. I am aware that this will excite the
astonishment of persons who have been accustomed to think otherwise;
but I shall state facts which cannot be controverted, even by President
Boyer himself—nay, I shall produce circumstances which I have seen
with the utmost surprise on his own estate; circumstances that must
shew his warmest advocates, that all his boasted productions have not
been obtained without the application of that system against which they
loudly exclaim.

Instead of holding out an example of what might be accomplished by
a people released from bondage, without first having been prepared
for freedom by moral and religious instruction, I think Hayti rather
forms a beacon to warn us against the dangers and difficulties by
which that unhappy country has been overtaken. The present condition
of Hayti, arising from the events which have taken place since the
revolution, should render us exceedingly cautious how we plunge our
own colonies into the same misery and calamity; by conferring on a
rude and untaught people, without qualification, or without the least
restraint, an uncontrolled command over themselves. However acutely we
may feel for the miseries to which the West Indian slave was at one
period subjected, yet I cannot conceive it possible that any one can
be so destitute of correct information on the subject as not to know,
that at this moment the slave is in a condition far more happy, that he
possesses infinitely greater comforts and enjoyments, than any class of
labourers in Hayti, and that, from the judicious measures which have
been already adopted by the colonial legislatures, and from others
which are in contemplation, for improving the condition of the slave,
it is very rational to conclude that before long slavery will only be
considered as a name; and that were it to receive any other designation
it would furnish no peg on which the European philanthropist might hang
his declamations against slavery.

To place the slaves in the British colonies upon a footing with the
free labourers in Hayti, or with the largest proportion of the people
in that country, would be a work of easy accomplishment; but the effect
would be, to cause them to exchange a state of comparative plenty and
comfort, for one in which every species of tyranny and oppression, with
their concomitants, disease and want, are most lamentably conspicuous.
Whatever may be the views of the British Cabinet relative to their
colonies, I should warn it to steer clear of the erroneous policy
which has proved so fatal to Hayti, and should it be determined that a
change should be introduced into the policy hitherto pursued with so
much success, and with so much advantage in our colonial possessions,
I trust it will not be by emancipating the slave, before he is
prepared for freedom by a proper moral and religious education. Let
the system of slavery be gradually improved, and the slave will glide
imperceptibly into a state of freedom.

It is not my intention, in this early stage of my remarks, to enter
into any lengthened detail of the disunion or want of cordiality
subsisting between the two classes of people in Hayti: this I shall
reserve for its proper place; where it will be seen, that a very
strong dissatisfaction prevails amongst the black population, which
manifests itself upon almost every occasion of celebrating public
events, and festivities. This acrimonious feeling evidently arises
from the jealousy excited by the predominant influence of the coloured
people in the government. This influence, detrimental as it may be
to the good order and repose of the country, is courted and nurtured
by the president, to the great danger of overthrowing the whole
establishment. One or two attempts at revolt have been made by the
people of the north, who were the subjects of the late Christophe, and
from these efforts, although abortive, it may be inferred, that the
spirit for a more extensive commotion still lurks in their minds, and
that the least possible irritation would so agitate and inflame them,
that the whole would be thrown into a scene of disorder, tumult, and
irremediable confusion. The combinations are numerous and powerful,
but such was the extraordinary apathy of the government, that until a
communication was made by an individual to Boyer, neither he nor any
one of his officers had the least intimation that such proceedings were
in contemplation. The want of energy visible in the government makes it
obnoxious to the people, and no country like Hayti can be expected to
remain long in repose and tranquillity, unless its governors possess
both talent and resolution to command.

That the government of Hayti is the most inefficient and enervated of
any of the modern republics cannot be denied, and I cannot see the
least hope of an improvement, unless there be a complete revision of
its constitution, and a new one framed, better suited to the tastes
of the people, and more adapted to their present very rude state
of knowledge. From the present rulers it would be vain to expect
any effort which might prove beneficial to the country; any attempt
to cultivate or improve the habits and morals of the people, or to
promote agriculture. The members composing the present government,
seem to consider the poverty and ignorance of the people, as the best
safeguards of the security and permanence of their own property and
power.

A recognition of the independence of Hayti by Great Britain may give
some strength to the measures of its government, because the people
have called out loudly for the protection of that power, whilst they
have as loudly exclaimed against the policy pursued towards France. No
event in its history has excited in the republic greater abhorrence
or more general murmuring, than the act of purchasing from France
that which it had de facto possessed for twenty-one years unmolested
and undisturbed; thereby at once admitting the sovereignty of that
power over the island, and which sovereignty France will, at some
convenient period, unquestionably assert, and that without the least
fear of any inconvenient consequences arising from it; for what power
can give aid to the Haytians against France, when the former have
openly and formally admitted themselves to be a colony dependent upon
the French crown. Whatever intercourse Englishmen may be disposed to
maintain with Hayti, it is indispensable that they should use the most
vigilant precaution, and exact a rigid adherence to such treaties as
may have been entered into, if they would avoid certain loss; for the
Haytian character, taken generally, will be found, so far from being
entitled either to credit or confidence, not even to possess common
honesty. Compacts with them are easily made; but a faithful adherence
to agreements must not be expected;—their maxim is to break them,
whenever they find it can be accomplished with advantage.



CHAPTER I.

 Situation and general description of the French and Spanish divisions,
 previously to the Revolution in the former country.


THE island of St. Domingo, once the abode of fertility, and the scene
of extraordinary political changes and events, lies in latitude 18° 20´
north and in longitude 68° 40´ west from Greenwich, having on its west
the islands of Cuba and Jamaica, on its east Porto Rico, the Bahamas
on its north, and bounded southerly by the Carribean Sea. Its extent
has been variously stated; but Edwards, who describes it to be about
390 miles in length from east to west, seems the most correct; and it
appears from late surveys to be nearly 150 miles in breadth from north
to south. The Abbé Raynal has represented it at 200 leagues in length,
and from 60 to 80 in breadth, but it is evident that his estimation is
erroneous. Rainsford also states it to be about 450 miles in length,
but from every information which I could obtain, its length does not
appear to exceed 400 miles, nor its breadth 140. The reader, therefore,
must look into these discrepances, and judge between them. As it is
not easy to survey a country intersected by wilds and impenetrable
mountains, much is necessarily left to conjecture.

It is the most extensive, and was at one period of its history the most
productive of the Antilles, and was called by the aborigines Haiti, or
Highland, and by which ancient designation it is now generally known,
that of St. Domingo having been abolished at the revolution. To convey
an adequate idea of what this once delightful island was, is not the
object of the present work; on this head it is sufficient to observe
that in the richness and extent of its productions, and in its local
beauties, it exceeded every other island in the western hemisphere,
and that the two divisions of the east and the west, when under the
respective governments of Spain and France, were considered and indeed
known to be the most splendid and most important appendages to those
crowns. Its plains and valleys presented the most inviting scenes from
the richness of the pastures and the verdure with which they eternally
abounded. Its mountains were also said to contain ores of the most
valuable kind, and produce timber admirably adapted for every useful
or ornamental purpose. Nothing could exceed the extreme salubrity of
the whole country, nor could it be surpassed in the vast exuberance of
its luscious fruits, and in those productions of the soil which became
the general articles of export, and from which all the wealth and all
commerce of this colony flowed.

The French division, though infinitely less extensive than the Spanish
part, and not containing a third of the whole island, has been
considered the most valuable spot in the western world. The Spanish
division however has greater natural resources, and affords greater
facilities for agricultural operations: but the very extraordinary
exertions of the French planter in the culture of the soil, compensated
for the want of those advantages possessed by their Spanish neighbours,
who, more indolently disposed, relied on the produce of their mines,
which afforded, as they imagined, greater local riches than those which
could be obtained from either agriculture or commerce, forgetting that
these alone furnish the wealth which can render any country really and
permanently prosperous and great.

It appears from every authority, that the first colony established
here by the French, was settled in the sixteenth century, having been
attracted thither by the Buccaneers, who had previously obtained a
footing in the island from excursions which they often made from
Tortuga, for the purpose of hunting the bulls of the Spaniards. These
hardy and predatory warriors attracted the French, who supplied them
with such necessaries as they required, and even sent them many
settlers, with arms and implements for defence and labour. The extreme
fertility of the country invited them to make some efforts to gain
a permanent footing in it, and by means of intrigue coupled with a
little force, they succeeded in obtaining possession of the whole
of the west end, the line of which seems to have run in an oblique
direction, from about Cape François on the north to Cape Rosa on the
south. Having surmounted all the obstacles that presented themselves,
and having overcome those difficulties which generally accompany the
first attempts at colonization, or are met with in a newly discovered
land, they pursued with incredible ardour and industry the culture of
the soil, and the improvement of their valuable acquisition.

The Spanish court, jealous of and unable to contend with their rival
colonists, submitted to France, when the two cabinets at home came
to a mutual understanding and adjustment, respecting these foreign
possessions. An arrangement was entered into, under which commissioners
were appointed for settling the boundaries, and fixing the rights
which had formed the ground of disputes between the settlers of these
rival nations. The line of demarcation finally agreed upon commenced
at the bay of Mansenillo on the north, dividing in its course the
river Massacre; thence taking rather a westerly course, it reached an
acute point at Dondon, and afterwards proceeded southerly to the river
Pedernales.

This tract of country, as conceded to the French, contained about 1000
square leagues, exceedingly irregular in its character, intersected
with mountains, and having plains confined and difficult of approach,
so as to make it altogether much inferior in point of natural value to
even a single district of the Spanish division; having also two extreme
points or capes, Cape Nicolas Mole on the north, and Cape Tiburon on
the south-west extremity, in both of which the soil is less valuable,
from its being so very mountainous, and from its not possessing those
facilities of communication which can be obtained in other districts.
Notwithstanding the disadvantages against which the first settlers
had to contend, and in defiance of every local obstacle, they seemed
to have been impressed with the conviction, that if a spirit of
perseverance and labour could be diffused amongst them, they would
ultimately be richly rewarded for all their toil, and all that anxiety
and deprivation to which it appears, at their first setting out, they
were unquestionably subjected. Their conclusions were just, and time
shewed the correctness of the principles on which they reasoned and
acted, for their colony gradually rose in estimation; and at so early a
period as the year 1703, under the government of M. Auger, a native of
America, and who in early life had been in a state of slavery, it had
become of so much consideration to France, that the greatest possible
efforts were made to extend their system of cultivation to the whole
of their colonial territory. That officer was indefatigable, it is
said, in his exertions in encouraging and in stimulating the colonists
in the culture of the lands, and as he had been previously governor of
Guadaloupe, it is to be inferred that he possessed no ordinary skill in
the business of preparing the ground for the production of those exotic
and indigenous plants which became the main articles of export to the
mother-country. That he was a most efficient governor all writers
admit, for he had brought the state of his colony to a very high pitch
of prosperity, when he died, lamented by all who had lived under his
command. The plantations at this period had increased in every part,
particularly in the valleys, where the soil was more congenial, and
where the labour could be performed without being attended with those
difficulties which impeded it in the more mountainous districts. In the
western parts the cocoa-tree had begun to produce most luxuriantly,
yielding great wealth to individuals, and a large revenue to the state.
The sugar-cane had also arrived at great perfection, and the art of
manufacturing the sugar from it had been for some time carried on with
astonishing success. Coffee plantations were establishing, and the
planters in every direction were vying with each other in bringing
their properties into the highest possible state of cultivation.

In the year 1715, however, the island suffered a very severe calamity,
and in the succeeding year another followed, in both of which almost
all the cocoa-trees perished, and considerable damage was done to every
vegetable production; and the planters, who had by this time acquired
an easy, if not a competent fortune, sustained losses that only time
and continued exertion could possibly repair. It will be seen, however,
that a great improvement gradually followed, and that agriculture
had not been neglected, for in the year 1754 the colony had advanced
to a wonderful pitch of prosperity, and seems to have satisfied the
wishes of the proprietors of the soil, as well as the most sanguine
expectations of the government. It is said by an anonymous writer,
that “the various commodities exported from the island amounted to a
million and a quarter sterling, and the imports to one million seven
hundred and seventy-seven thousand five hundred and nine pounds.
There were fourteen thousand white inhabitants, nearly four thousand
free mulattoes, and one hundred and seventy-two thousand negroes;
five hundred and ninety-nine sugar plantations, three thousand three
hundred and seventy-nine of indigo, ninety-eight thousand nine hundred
and forty-six cocoa-trees, six million three hundred thousand three
hundred and sixty-seven cotton plants, and about twenty-two millions
of cassia-trees, sixty-three thousand horses and mules, ninety-three
thousand head of horned cattle, six millions of banana trees, upwards
of one million plots of potatoes, two hundred and twenty-six thousand
of yams, and nearly three million trenches of marrioc.”

From this period up to the French revolution the colony advanced still
further in prosperity, every year adding to the wealth of the planters,
and to the revenue of the crown. Nothing could exceed the condition
into which the plantations had been brought by their owners; a steady
and enlightened system of agriculture had been established, which had
been productive of the most beneficial results. Every plantation, laid
out with the greatest care and neatness, was so arranged as to bring
every part of the soil into use in its proper order of succession—not
the least particle appears to have escaped the eye of the owner, for
what could not be rendered fit for the production of the cane, served
either for cotton, coffee, indigo, or other plants. In the valleys
surrounded by mountains, the access to which for carriages was attended
with some danger, and consequently were chiefly in pasture, the verdure
was astonishing. These valleys having small rivulets or streams running
through them, and shaded by occasional groups of trees and shrubs,
which grew spontaneously on the margins of a spring, or round any body
of water that might occasionally be collected from the mountain falls,
became extremely valuable for the raising of cattle for the consumption
of the planters, and on this account extremely profitable to their
owners; for here the animals could graze undisturbed and cool under
a meridian sun, and range unmolested, indulging in the richness of
the surrounding herbage. The culture of the land for the sugar-cane
at this period seems to have engaged the greatest attention of the
planter, for at no time had such amazing crops been produced as in the
year preceding the revolution; the soil in the plains of the north,
Artibanite and the Cul de Sac, being peculiarly adapted for it, from
its extreme strength and excellent quality, and from its situation,
which enabled it to receive the aid of irrigation in seasons when
drought prevails. The estates also appropriated to the production
of sugar exhibited a degree of uniformity and order, in all the
departments of plantation labour, which can scarcely be exceeded even
at the present period, when the system is supposed to have become more
mature, and its true principles better understood.

The coffee plantations had at this time arrived at great
perfection—they were extensive, and exceedingly fruitful; for the
genius and industry of the proprietors were exerted to their utmost
limits in this branch of agriculture. Every property was divided and
subdivided into small fields, in which the trees were planted with all
that nicety and regularity which is often seen in a well regulated
nursery. The pruning-knife and the hoe were regularly applied to the
trees requiring to be dismembered of their superfluous branches, and
wanting nurture at their half expiring roots. The cotton and indigo
plantations had also arrived at the height of excellence in planting,
and it was not possible that greater abundance could have been obtained
from them, than that which was usually returned at or a few years
previously to the convulsion which took place. The cocoa tree was also
at this time exceedingly flourishing, and much care and attention were
bestowed upon its cultivation; its produce being found an article of no
inconsiderable demand, and extremely profitable in the returns which it
yielded the cultivator.

A better or clearer proof cannot be given of the highly improved state
of agriculture at this time, than by a reference to the number of
plantations which had been established, and to the quantity of produce
which had been exported to France, with the value of the whole, as
estimated by persons whose authority may be relied on, and who were
doubtless competent judges, from having in the island filled situations
which gave them opportunities of fairly estimating everything connected
with the country.

Moreau St. Mery, a writer of great credit, and a native of St. Domingo,
states, “that in the year 1791 there were, in the French division
alone, seven hundred and ninety-three sugar estates, seven hundred
and eighty-nine cotton plantations, three thousand one hundred and
seventeen of coffee, three thousand one hundred and fifty of indigo,
fifty-four cocoa manufactories, and six hundred and twenty-three
smaller settlements, on which were produced large quantities of Indian
corn, rice, pulse, and almost every description of vegetables required
for the consumption of the people. There were also forty thousand
horses, fifty thousand mules, and two hundred and fifty thousand cattle
and sheep; and that the quantity of land actually in cultivation was
about two million two hundred and eighty-nine thousand four hundred and
eighty acres.”

The quantity of produce exported from the island to France appears, by
various accounts, to have been very large indeed, furnishing a very
strong corroboration of the flourishing state of the colony, and of
the extent to which agriculture had been carried. It would appear that
not much regard was paid to other means by which the prosperity of
the country might have been enhanced, the inhabitants resting solely
on the culture of the soil to exalt the island in the eyes of the
parent state, and to make it an appendage worthy to be cherished and
protected. Mr. Edwards and others have stated the amount of exports as
follows: that is to say, about one hundred and sixty-three millions
four hundred thousand pounds of sugar, sixty-eight millions one hundred
and fifty thousand pounds of coffee, six millions two hundred and
eighty-six thousand pounds of cotton, nine hundred and thirty thousand
pounds of indigo, twenty-nine thousand hogsheads of molasses, and
three hundred puncheons of rum. Walton, in his Appendix, enumerates
many other articles of export besides those which I have named, and he
states the quantity of each much larger, and values the whole at about
six millions and ninety-four thousand two hundred and thirty pounds,
English money. The same writer observes, that the value of the imports
into the country about that time from France was four millions one
hundred and twenty-five thousand six hundred and ten pounds sterling.
At this period, also, it appears from authority, that the population
amounted to about forty thousand white people, twenty-eight thousand
free persons of colour, and about four hundred and fifty-five thousand
slaves; and that the valuation of the whole of the plantations in
culture, with the buildings, slaves, cattle, and every implement for
the use of agriculture, was estimated at fourteen hundred and ninety
millions of livres, or somewhat about seventy millions English money.

The Spanish division of Hayti is said to contain two-thirds of the
whole, and is estimated at about three thousand one hundred and fifty
square leagues, an extent of country capable of affording the means of
subsistence to a population of at least seven millions of souls. In
local advantages this part certainly exceeds the western division,
from its soil being almost in a virgin state, and a very large
proportion of its valleys and elevations never having been tilled.
The indolence and inactivity inherent in the Spanish character have
been displayed in all their colours in this part of St. Domingo; for
although their district possessed all the natural means required to
raise them to an equal pitch of splendour with their French neighbours,
yet so powerful were their propensities for pleasure, and every
species of amusement, that they devoted but little of their time to
the improvement of their properties, and they obtained from them but
little beyond a scanty supply for their own immediate wants. From
every source of information that can be consulted, it appears that
the Spaniards, from their earliest settlement down to the period when
they finally quitted the country, depended more on their mines than
on anything that possibly could be derived from either agriculture
or commerce; consequently agriculture was in a backward state, and
the culture of the soil made but a very slow progress: indeed, but a
very small proportion of the country was in a state of tillage; the
inhabitants merely paid a little attention to the natural pastures
which abounded in all the plains of the east, and whose luxuriance and
verdure continued throughout the whole year. In these they raised large
herds of cattle, for which they found a market, not only among their
neighbours the French, who required a considerable supply for their
estates, but they exported very large quantities to Jamaica and Cuba.
To the raising of cattle, therefore, and to the occasional cutting of
wood—mahogany, cedar, and a variety of other timbers for ornamental
work, as well as dye-woods,—did the Spaniards devote their time, and
hence did they contrive to satisfy their moderate and contracted wants,
without having recourse to tillage.

It has been observed, and I think very truly, that the most important
obstacle to the advancement of this part of Hayti, was the policy
pursued by Spain towards her colonies. The system of government under
which she ruled her transatlantic settlements seems to have been
one of extreme oppression, and of unexampled rigour, and, from the
earliest period of her sway, this system was most rigidly enforced
in Hispañeola. There does not appear upon record any circumstance
previously to the year 1700, which evinced a disposition on the part
of Spain to promote the welfare of the colony, by calling forth its
local resources, and by encouraging and tolerating settlers from
others of their unprofitable and barren islands, in which all their
energies and efforts had been fruitless and unavailing. The high state
of the west end, under their prudent and more assiduous neighbours
the French, whose industry and perseverance had astonished the world,
and whose judicious and highly commendable system for promoting the
cultivation of their country had become the theme of much praise and
admiration, seemed about this time to have produced among the Spaniards
some disposition to adopt measures for insuring to the parent state a
more lucrative trade from their colonies. The force of example was too
powerful to be resisted, and even the Court of Madrid began about this
time to devise measures which might improve, and which might call into
play all those resources which this highly fertile and most congenial
soil was known to possess. Governors of known prudence and patriotic
zeal for the interest of their nation were selected, and sent out,
with injunctions to promote the interests of agriculture, and to give
a spur to commerce, by opening an intercourse with their neighbours.
The wants of the French in cattle, mules, and horses, were exceedingly
extensive, and offered to the Spaniards an opportunity of improving
their properties, by providing a vent for the sale of their stock. It
gave an impulse to industry, and the once inert and unconcerned Spanish
planter became in time an active and enterprising agriculturist,
shaking off that languor by which he had been previously characterized,
and at length assuming a degree of animation and spirit, which enabled
him to take advantage of those resources which nature had placed within
his reach.

A mutual interchange and good understanding between the two powers
of France and Spain having taken place, this intercourse, become more
frequent and reciprocally beneficial, continued for a series of years.
In 1790, however, this most important branch of their commerce was cut
off by the convulsion into which the neighbouring province was thrown.
All that part of the population who dwelt on the frontiers withdrew
themselves into the interior, leaving behind them their cattle, which
fell into the hands of their rapacious neighbours, whose inroads
caused much consternation amongst the proprietors; but their slaves,
from habit or from some other powerful cause, remained unmoved and
attached to them, although they had before them such strong incentives
to revolt. Every appeal made by these people (and it is said, that
they made innumerable ones) to the cabinet of Spain for protection
against the fatal example of the French division, met with a very cold
reception, if not a positive rejection. In this state of suspense and
continued fear and alarm the people remained, until the disgraceful
treaty of Basle gave Hispañeola to the republican government of France;
and this event I cannot better describe than in the language of one
of the most correct writers on this country[1], whom I shall here
quote as an authority which has been hitherto deemed unquestionable.
Speaking of this event, which occurred in the year 1795, and of the
designs of the French rulers, he says, “though busied in the plans of
universal dominion on their own continent, their cabinet did not lose
sight or cease to entertain a hope of again possessing colonies abroad,
and they were well aware which were the most desirable. Perhaps no
system of invasion had been longer or more deeply premeditated, and
digested with more mysterious secrecy, than the entire subjugation
of Spain and her American settlements, in which, besides the common
views of aggrandizement, their constitutional enmity to the reigning
family acted as a powerful stimulus. This policy was coeval with that
ambition which marked the first career of the present ruler of France
and the specious veil under which the hidden, but continued advances
were regularly made towards the end in view, adds to the guilt of
duplicity and ingratitude, when we consider that Spain has scrupulously
maintained her treaty of alliance and has fulfilled the stipulations
entered into in 1795, notwithstanding all the three changes that have
given other names to the French government, without altering its
entity, or revolutionary or destructive system; that the cabinets of
Madrid have bended to a degree of abject condescension, rather than be
precipitated into a war; that they have sacrificed the interests and
inclinations of their people, and have been driven at length into a
state of non-reprisal, rather than risk a warfare with a nation they
respected, and though an ally, furnishing both men and money under
promises to share in the conquests made, they have been treated rather
as a faithless neutral without claim, representation, or character,
and thus their country has been impoverished and laid waste, and the
supports of national union and energy undermined.”

Further, in continuation of this disgraceful treaty, by which Spain so
abjectly submitted to surrender her colony to France, he says, “by this
instrument of diplomatic intrigue and subtlety Hispañeola was made over
unreservedly to France; the oldest subjects of the Spanish crown in the
western world were thus bartered like so many sheep, and an island, not
the capture of an enemy during war, and given up at its termination,
but one that had descended to them as a primitive right, and had
formed the glory of the preceding monarchs, who saw it discovered
and settled. When possession was given in further aggravation of the
Spanish natives, the transfer was received by Toussaint at the head of
the intrusive settlers of one division of the island, with whom the
former had previously and generously shared their territory; in short
by a horde of emancipated slaves to whom the French republic had given
equality, consistence, and power, and who now came to erect a new
standard on the spot consecrated by the labours and ashes of Columbus,
and long revered as an object of national pride.”

“In justice to the Dominican people it may be said, that none of the
Spanish settlements possess more of the amor patriæ which ought to
distinguish loyal subjects: they received the news as a thunder-bolt,
and the country presented an universal scene of lamentation. They
appealed to the humanity of their sovereign, but without effect, and
then had recourse to remonstrances.”

Receiving no answer to their prayers or to their remonstrances, the
people were left in a state bordering on despondency, with the only
alternative of leaving their native land, or of swearing allegiance
to a power in whom they could not confide, and which they had been
taught to detest. Emigration therefore was determined on, and all
orders—nuns, friars, clergy, and men of property and influence—with
their families and their slaves, embarked for Cuba, Porto Rico, and the
Spanish main, leaving behind them their possessions, to seek a shelter,
and to find homes and occupations, in a country in which they might be
protected by laws to which they had been accustomed, and submit to a
government which they had been taught to respect. The extent of this
emigration was considerable, and is said to have amounted to one third
of the population; and it is evident from a subsequent census that
this was not an exaggeration, and that so large a proportion of the
people absolutely left the country, abandoning their abodes and much
wealth rather than submit to a people whom they hated as the usurpers
of their possessions.

In the years 1789 and 1790, about which time the first disturbances
among the slaves in the French part of the island commenced, it appears
the Spanish division contained about one hundred and fifty thousand
souls or upwards; but by a subsequent census taken immediately after
the cession to the French, and after the spirit for emigration had in
some measure subsided, there remained only about one hundred thousand
of all descriptions, a very strong proof of the detestation in which
the Spaniards held this treaty, which assigned them over as subjects
of the republican government of France. It is very evident, however,
whatever impressions this arrangement might have made on the Spanish
colonists, that it was one dictated by the rulers in France, and
therefore accepted from necessity, and not from choice. The infamous
Godoy, Prince of Peace (which high sounding title was confirmed by
this treaty) was the leading personage in its negotiation, and being
secretly leagued with the French ministry, became a willing instrument
in consigning this bright and valuable appendage of the Spanish crown
to the more designing and crafty schemes of the French cabinet, which
had been from the beginning of their ambitious aim at universal
dominion, not unmindful of the advantages that were to be derived
from colonial possessions. When it is seen that the mistaken and weak
policy, as well as the pusillanimity of the Spanish cabinet, caused
so great a sacrifice as the dismemberment of their most valuable
colony, it becomes a matter of no astonishment that the people should
relax in their efforts to aid the means and resources of their parent
state, by any exertions, in the cultivation of their lands, beyond
what might be requisite for their own support. As this neglect and
heedless inattention to their prosperity had been for a series of years
observable, and as every incentive to industry was checked by the
measures of the crown, it is not to be wondered at that this division
of the island did not advance at the same rate as that which was under
the dominion of France. However manifest the declension of the colony
was to Spain, she never made any movements, nor adopted any means
indicating a desire to revive the drooping energies of the colonists,
and reinstate them in their former easy circumstances and affluence.
If the cabinet of Madrid had had recourse to those wise plans which
would have promoted the cause of agriculture and commerce, instead of
becoming a calm and unconcerned spectator of the decline of both, this
colony might still have remained the most brilliant gem in the Spanish
crown. A people who had, from the example of their neighbours, and by
an impulse the most surprising, been roused from a state of lethargy
and inactivity to great exertions in the culture of the soil, in the
breeding of cattle, and in commercial enterprise, might have exalted
their country to the highest possible state of prosperity, had their
efforts been seconded by the regulations of a wise government, and had
that protection been given to them to which they were surely entitled;
but instead of such support and protection, instead of being watched
over and guarded by their parent state, their prayers, their petitions,
and entreaties, were unattended to, and they were given up as a prey to
their rebellious and uncivilized neighbours, who used every exertion
to throw their country into a state of anarchy and confusion. The
individual and unsupported energies of the colonists, however, were
roused by the alarming predicament into which they had been thrown,
through the apathy and supineness of the cabinet of Spain, and they
effectually stopped the incursions of the pillagers for a time,
prevented the destruction of their towns and plantations, and finally,
by their firmness and perseverance, saved their properties from the
devastations which had destroyed those of the western division.

To the astonishment of the world, the slaves, as I have before
remarked, adhered with extraordinary fidelity to the cause of their
masters, and evinced no disposition to become participators in the
work of rebellion, nor to enrich themselves by the spoils obtained
by plunder, rapine, and every kind of predatory warfare. Although the
example to throw off the yoke of slavery was constantly before them,
few were the instances in which a slave joined the insurgents. Such
an attachment on the part of the slave towards his master, however,
is not to be wondered at, when it is known, that the Spaniards were
kind, indulgent, and liberal owners, always attentive to their wants,
and alive to their comforts; seldom inflicting punishment, except for
flagrant acts of insubordination and theft, but treating them with a
leniency and humanity which softened the rigours of slavery, and left
it to be known only by name.

Notwithstanding the enmity which always existed between the two
colonies, a smuggling trade was carried on, which, although not very
extensive, was exceedingly productive to the Spaniards, as it took
off part of their horned cattle, mules, horses, &c., and in return
for which they received the products and manufactures of Europe,
and slaves, which they could not obtain by the regular course of
importation, on any thing like the same moderate or favourable terms.
It is stated, that the French purchased annually upwards of twenty-five
thousand head of horned cattle and about two thousand five hundred
mules and horses; and that the Spaniards also transmitted upwards of
half a million of dollars in specie during the year, for the purchase
of goods, implements of agriculture, and negroes. Large shipments of
mahogany and dye-woods found their way to Spain and different parts
of Europe, and the United States, and indirectly to England: and a
considerable intercourse existed with the islands of Porto Rico, Cuba,
and Jamaica, to which latter two islands cattle were exported, and
mahogany and dye-woods found a market in Jamaica more advantageous than
any that could be found in Europe, owing to their being able to procure
their returns in a more direct way than through the mother-country or
any of the European states.

The commerce with Porto Rico and the Spanish main was also productive
of some profit to the people of St. Domingo. The advantages accruing
to the former arose from the facilities of smuggling, by which the
enormous duties on foreign European goods of thirty-four per cent.
in most cases were saved; and these goods could be purchased in St.
Domingo on more moderate terms, from having been illicitly obtained
from the French part of the island.

The trade to the United States was also of no little importance;
for the vessels of that country took large quantities of mahogany,
hides, some coffee, and a little dye-wood, in return for the cargoes
which they brought thither, consisting of flour, beef, pork, butter,
salted herrings, and dried cod-fish, with some East India goods, and
various descriptions of lumber of America, more useful and easy in
working for buildings than the hard wood of the country. The aggregate
value of the exports and imports of this part of the island I have
seen nowhere correctly stated: it is very evident, however, from the
various accounts which I have seen, that it was infinitely less than
the aggregate of the French part; and this may be safely confided
in from the extremely fertile state of the one, when compared with
the uncultivated condition of the other; from the industrious, the
assiduous, and enterprising spirit, so characteristic of the French
colonist, aided by the judicious measures of the cabinet of France,
which sought to protect and encourage the agriculture and commerce of
her colonies, whilst the Spaniards of the eastern division were left
to pursue both their agricultural and commercial avocations under
every species of discouragement and restraint. The energy displayed
by one government, and the very relaxed system pursued by the other,
accounts for the flourishing state of one part of this rich colony,
whilst its rival was steeped in poverty: nothing, therefore, is left
for conjecture as to the cause of so great a contrast; and both having
subsequently been shaken by the effects of those pernicious doctrines
so generally propagated at the Revolution, little is to be seen of the
antecedent state of either, and chaos, ignorance, and indolence have
superseded order, light, and industry.

Such was the state of the island at and during the two or three
succeeding years of the revolution, as related by several writers, and
confirmed by information obtained from individuals now residing in
the country, who were present during the troubles which agitated and
destroyed it, and reduced them from the height of affluence and peace
into misery, and oftentimes into want—from them, much, of course, was
to be elicited; and although I thought it a matter of prudence and a
necessary caution, not to rely too implicitly on their communications,
yet I always found them justly entitled to my confidence, on the
fullest investigation. I never had a cause to question their veracity.
Their account of the scenes which took place during the early stages
and progress of the revolution, accords with the statements of others
who have described them, and I have not been able to discover any
discrepances between them.



CHAPTER II.

 Cause of the revolution in the colony.—People of colour in
 France.—Their proceedings.—League with the society of Amis des
 Noirs.—Ogé’s rebellion.—His defeat and death.—Conduct of the
 proprietors and planters.—Consequences of it.


IT has been very erroneously thought by some persons, who feel
interested in the fate of the slave population of the West Indies,
or at all events they have, with no little industry, propagated the
impression, that the revolution in Hayti begun with the revolt of the
blacks, when it is evident, from the very best authors and from the
testimony of people now living, who were present during its opening
scenes, that such was not the fact, and that the slaves remained
perfectly tranquil for two years after the celebrated “Declaration
of Rights” was promulgated in France. Such persons give themselves
but little trouble in searching the history of the island—they are
satisfied with the report of others, who may be equally uninformed with
themselves; and thus it is that they imbibe ideas and notions of the
wonderful capacities of the negro population, who could have commenced,
and so effectually carried themselves through a struggle for freedom,
without, as they allege, the aid of any other more enlightened or more
powerful auxiliary. It requires no observation of mine to shew that the
first symptom of disorder shewed itself among that class of people in
the colony denominated, at the time, Sang-mêlées, or Gens de Couleur,
or, as termed in the British colonies, mulattoes, who from their
numbers formed a very powerful body, and not being countenanced by the
whites, became in time inveterately opposed to them: many of them,
natives of the colony and of the other French islands, were residing in
France at the time of the Revolution, and these consisted of persons
who had been sent thither in early life for their education, together
with others who possessed considerable property, as well as some talent
and intelligence. At this period also, from an extraordinary prejudice
that prevailed in France against the inhabitants of the colonies,
arising from an aversion to the principles of slavery, and which was
much encouraged by the denunciation against everything having the least
appearance of despotism, a society was established, denominated “Amis
des Noirs” (Friends of the Blacks), which aimed at the subversion
of the government, and called for an immediate abolition of the
slave-trade, as well as a general emancipation of all those who were at
the time living in a state of slavery.

“With these people” (meaning the men of colour in France), says a
writer on this subject, “the society of Amis des Noirs formed an
intimate connection. Their personal appearance excited pity, and,
cooperating with the spirit of the times and the representations of
those who deeply sympathized upon principles of humanity with their
condition, all ranks of people became clamorous against the white
colonists, and their total annihilation was threatened.” Not long
after the formation of this union of feeling and sentiment between the
friends of the blacks and the men of colour in France, the national
assembly promulgated their famous declaration of rights, an act
certainly contemplating the destruction of all order, and having an
evident tendency to excite the lower classes of the people into every
species of insubordination and general ferment; one of its leading and
most important clauses being, that “_all men are born and continue free
and equal as to their rights_.”

The society of Amis des Noirs, aided by a corresponding institution
in London, together with the united body of the coloured people in
France, lost no time in sending out this very celebrated declaration,
and in disseminating its principles throughout the whole island; their
efforts were not unavailing, for the mulattoes, conscious that the
French nation were favourable towards their designs of demanding a
restitution of their rights, and the full and unqualified enjoyment
of those privileges hitherto confined to the white colonists, had
recourse to arms, and appeared in bodies for the purpose of awing the
provincial assemblies into concession; but their number not being
great, they were in the onset easily subdued. It is said, however, that
notwithstanding this check to their progress, the assemblies were much
disposed to concede to the demands of the mulattoes; but in no instance
could they think of permitting those white inhabitants to participate
in these privileges, who had in any way cooperated with them. Several
of the civil officers of the colony and magistrates declaimed against
slavery, and openly avowed themselves supporters of the declaration
of the national assembly of the mother-country; they were arrested by
the provincial assemblies, and committed to prison, and such was the
irritation and fury of the mob, that Mons. Beaudierre, a respectable
magistrate at Petit Goane, was taken out by force, and, in spite of
the municipality and other powers, put to death. In some cases the
governor successfully interposed, and those who were most obnoxious
to the people were conveyed out of the colony by secret means. During
all these outrages, there is no account upon record of the negroes
taking any part, and the fact seems to be established, that at this
period they were quite tranquil and unmoved, although their several
proprietors were concerned either for or against the measures from
which the agitations sprung.

It appears that the governor of the colony had lost a great deal of his
popularity, and consequently of his power, by his interposition; for a
general colonial assembly, convoked in January 1790 by order from the
king, determined that his instructions were imperfect and inapplicable,
and the people therefore proceeded on a plan of their own, and changed
both the time and the place at which the assembly should be held.
Nothing could have emanated from the deliberations of the body convoked
by this determination of the people, for the discontented and confused
state of the colony being soon known in the mother-country, and an
apprehension having arisen that the island was likely soon to be
declared independent, the national assembly, in March 1790, came to the
following decision: “That it never was the intention of the assembly to
comprehend the interior government of the colonies in the constitution
which they had framed for the mother-country, or to subject them to
laws which were incompatible with their local establishments; they
therefore authorize the inhabitants of each colony to signify to the
national assembly their sentiments and wishes concerning the plan of
interior legislation and commercial arrangement which would be most
conducive to their prosperity.” Then followed a resolution, “That the
national assembly would not cause any innovation to be made, directly
or indirectly, in any system of commerce in which the colonies were
already concerned.”[2]

The people of colour and the society of Amis des Noirs were, as it
might have been anticipated, thrown into considerable alarm by the
promulgation of a decree of so ambiguous a character, and no little
surprise and consternation followed its appearance in the island. It
was construed into an acquiescence in the further continuance of the
slave-trade; it was also conceived to confer upon the colonists the
power of settling and affixing their colonial constitutions, and to
absolve them from their allegiance to the French crown.

The first general assembly of the island which was convoked after
these decrees had been received, and had excited the astonishment of
the people, was held at St. Marc on the 16th of April 1790. Their
deliberative functions commenced with a discussion upon the hardships
to which the people of colour were subjected under the military system
of the colony, and it was determined, that on no subsequent occasion
should they be required to perform more duty than was usually exacted
from the whites.

An inquiry into the abuses alleged to prevail in the colonial courts of
judicature, and the discussion of a new plan of colonial government,
were the principal subjects which occupied the attention of the
assembly until the end of May, when it was adjourned or prorogued.

M. Paynier was at this time governor-general of St. Domingo: he had
neither the capacity nor the disposition required for administering
the affairs of the colony at such a period. Instead of being actuated
with the desire of conciliating the parties opposed to each other, he
secretly gave every possible aid and encouragement to the supporters
of ancient despotism. The appearance of Colonel Mauduit, however, a
man of some talent and energy, effected a change; for he soon acquired
much influence over the governor-general, and prevented the coalition
which was about to take place between the assembly and the mulattoes;
and declaring himself the protector of the latter, he speedily gained
over to his interest the greater part of that class of people. The
planters at this time, too, were in an undecided state, wavering
in their opinions, and fixed to no measures likely to preserve the
tranquillity of the island, and there was not one of their body capable
of impressing them with a due sense of the condition into which they
were likely to be precipitated by their want of energy and decision.
Forming as they did a numerous class of the inhabitants, had they been
unanimous in their opinions, and united in their views, the repose
of the colony would in all probability have been preserved. Such not
being the case, however, and some of the provincial assemblies making
efforts to counteract the measures of the general one, a civil war
seemed likely to be the result of so much diversity of sentiment.
The decree of the general colonial assembly of the 28th of May was
indicative of an approaching convulsion, which before long might
be expected to burst forth; the preamble to this decree exhibited
sentiments which seemed to breathe a spirit hostile to the peace of
the people. The articles themselves assume it as a branch of the
prerogative of the crown to confirm or annul the acts of the colonial
legislature at pleasure. These articles are important, and I shall
detail them as they have been given by others.

“First. The legislative authority, in every thing which relates to the
internal concerns of the colony (régime interieur), is vested in the
assembly of its representatives, which shall be called ‘The General
Assembly of the French Part of St. Domingo.’

“Secondly. No act of the legislative body, in what relates to the
internal concerns of the colony, shall be considered _as a law
definitive_, unless it may be made by the representatives of the French
part of St. Domingo, freely and legally chosen, and confirmed by the
king.

“Thirdly. In cases of urgent necessity, a legislative decree of the
general assembly, in what relates to the internal concerns of the
colony, shall be considered as a law provisional. In all such cases
the decree shall be notified forthwith to the governor-general, who,
within ten days after such notification, shall cause it to be published
and enforced, or transmit to the general assembly his observations
thereon.

“Fourthly. The necessity of the case, on which the execution of such
provisional decree is to depend, shall be a separate question, and be
carried in the affirmative by a majority of two-thirds of the general
assembly; the names and numbers being taken down (prises par l’appel
nominal).

“Fifthly. If the governor-general shall send down his observations
on any such decree, the same shall be entered in the journals of the
general assembly, who shall then proceed to revise the decree, and
consider the observations thereon, in three several sittings. The votes
for confirming or annulling the decree shall be given in the words Yes
or No, and a minute of the proceedings shall be signed by the members
present, in which shall be enumerated the votes on each side of the
question, and if there appears a majority of two-thirds for confirming
the decree, it shall be immediately enforced by the governor-general.

“Sixthly. As every law ought to be founded on the consent of those who
are to be bound by it, the French part of St. Domingo shall be allowed
to propose regulations concerning commercial arrangements, and the
system of mutual connexion (rapports commerciaux, et autres rapports
communs), and the decrees which the national assembly shall make in all
such cases, _shall not be enforced in the colony, until the general
assembly shall have consented thereto_.

“Seventhly. In cases of pressing necessity, the importation of
articles for the support of the inhabitants shall not be considered
as any breach of the system of commercial regulations between St.
Domingo and France; provided that the decrees to be made in such cases
by the general assembly shall be submitted to the revision of the
governor-general, under the same conditions and modifications as are
prescribed in articles three and five.

“Eighthly. Provided also, that every legislative act of the general
assembly executed provisionally, in cases of urgent necessity, shall
be transmitted forthwith for the royal sanction. And if the king shall
refuse his consent to any such act, its execution shall be suspended
as soon as the king’s refusal shall be legally notified to the general
assembly.

“Ninthly. A new general assembly shall be chosen every two years, and
none of the members who have served in the former assembly shall be
eligible in the new one.

“Tenthly. The general assembly decree that the preceding articles, as
forming part of the constitution of the French colony in St. Domingo,
shall be immediately transmitted to France for the acceptance of the
national assembly and the king. They shall likewise be transmitted to
all the parishes and districts of the colony, and be notified to the
governor-general.”

It was not likely that a decree, the articles of which were thus
opposed to the maintenance of order, could exact the acquiescence
and submission of the people, and lead them to an approval of that
which seemed to aim at the destruction of all subordination. Serious
apprehensions arose as to the measures which would be adopted and
pursued at this juncture, to avert the impending storm which was
expected at no distant period to burst forth.

It was imagined, and was a received opinion, that the “declaring of
the colony an independent state, in imitation of the English American
provinces”, was certain, and every effort was made to avert such a
proceeding. No obedience to the general assembly could be enforced.
The inhabitants of Cape François were the first to set the example
of renouncing all respect for that body, and of calling upon the
governor-general to dissolve them. With this request he instantly
complied, charging the general assembly with a design of undermining
the peace of the colony, by forming projects of independency, contrary
to the voice of the colonists; he even charged them with having been
accessories or instigators of the mutiny of the crew of one of the
king’s ships, and pronouncing them traitors to their king and country,
he declared that he should take the most prompt and effective measures
for bringing them to that punishment for which their treachery so
loudly called.

An attempt was made to arrest the committee of the western provincial
assembly, and a force under M. Mauduit was sent for that purpose, but
he failed in effecting his object, for the members, hearing of his
approach, collected about four hundred of the national guard for their
defence, and M. Mauduit retired after a skirmish or two, without any
other advantage than the capture of the national colours.

The general assembly being apprised of this attack, immediately
summoned the people to the support and protection of their
representatives. The northern provincial assembly adhered to the
governor-general, and, to oppose the progress of his opponents, they
sent him all the troops stationed in that quarter, together with an
additional force of about two hundred mulattoes. The western province
collected a much greater force, and everything seemed to indicate a
sanguinary civil war, when an event occurred which for a time averted
all those unhappy results that would inevitably have taken place, had
the opposing parties come in contact.

Most unexpectedly, at this momentous juncture, for the purpose of
trying the effect of a personal appeal to the national assembly of
France, the general assembly of the island determined on a voyage to
Europe. About one hundred members, all that remained of their body,
from the effects of sickness and desertion, embarked on board the
Leopard (that very ship, the crew of which had declared themselves in
their interest a very short time previously) on the 8th of August,
and took their departure, hailed with the warmest acclamations of the
populace, who could not restrain their admiration at so extraordinary
an act of devotion to the good of their country. It is said, that
“tears of sensibility and affection were shed at their departure by all
classes of people, and the parties in arms appeared mutually disposed
to submit their differences to the king and the national assembly.”

Immediately after this storm had subsided, every effort was made by
the governor-general, Paynier, to restore confidence and tranquillity
amongst the people, and for some time, there was a strong indication
of the peace of the colony being once more established; but the
designs of the people of colour in France, abetted by the society of
Amis des Noirs, at the head of which were some of the most violent of
the revolutionary characters of France, destroyed all their hopes,
and every species of anarchy and confusion was anticipated from the
proceedings of these disseminators of the pernicious doctrine of
equality and the rights of man.

It was at this period that the first mulatto rebellion took place, at
the head of which was the famous Ogé, the protegé and disciple of La
Fayette and Robespierre, a young man about thirty years of age, and a
native of the northern part of St. Domingo. He had been educated in
France at the expense of his mother, a woman of property living near
Cape François; having been admitted to the meetings of the society of
Amis des Noirs, he had imbibed all their principles, and had become
enthusiastic in demanding an equality of rights and privileges for his
coloured brethren. Encouraged by the society, and the revolutionary
leaders, he left France for the purpose of instigating his fellow
colonists of colour to take up arms in the assertion of their claims.
To give him something like an appearance of military command, the
society purchased for him the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the army of
one of the German states. To conceal his designs from the king and the
national assembly, he made a circuitous voyage by North America; but
his object was known before he left France, and intimation was sent out
to the governor-general that he had embarked for St. Domingo, and that
his scheme was to excite his coloured brethren to arms. A description
of his person, and I believe a portrait also, were transmitted for
the better discovery of him on his arrival; but notwithstanding
every precaution, he landed secretly, and the circumstance remained
unknown, until some weeks afterwards he wrote to the governor, reviling
him for his proceedings, and in the name of all the mulattoes, of
which he declared himself to be the protector, demanding in the most
contumelious language the immediate execution of all the statutes
of the Code Noir, and that in all times to come there should be no
distinction, as to rights and privileges, between the whites and the
other inhabitants of the island. To give a greater force as he thought
to his demand, he vauntingly stated, that unless the governor-general
acceded to his propositions, he should assert them by the force of
arms. Ogé, however, was somewhat premature in his calculations of
support and aid in the carrying into effect the object of his voyage;
for although some considerable time had elapsed from his landing, and
he had the assistance of his brothers, who were tainted with the same
love of insubordination and tumult, he never could collect at any one
time more than from two to three hundred to join him in his cause. He
encamped his followers near the Grand Rivière, and it is said, that his
brothers and another chief, Chevane, instigated their people to commit
many excesses, and at times murdered the unoffending inhabitants in the
vicinity, with the most shocking cruelty, whenever they declined to
join in their proceedings. Instances were many, in which whole families
were murdered, from the circumstance of a father, or even a brother,
refusing to take up arms to favour their cause.

Supported by so small a body, and no simultaneous movement taking place
in any other part of the colony, the career of Ogé and his associates
was not likely to be of any long duration. Steps were immediately
taken by the governor to suppress the revolt, and to bring the leaders
to trial, if it were found practicable to apprehend them. Troops and
the Cape militia were sent to oppose them, when a skirmish ensued in
which many of the rebels fell, and some were taken prisoners. Ogé
escaped with Chevane; but as it was known that they had fled into the
Spanish territory, they were demanded by the successor of Peynier, M.
Blanchelande (the former having resigned his command, and embarked
for Europe,) who brought them to trial in March 1791, and they were
condemned: Ogé and Chevane to be broken on the wheel, and his brother
and some of his followers to be hanged. The fortitude of Chevane
never forsook him to the last, and he met his fate with extraordinary
resolution and courage; but Ogé exhibited the greatest pusillanimity,
supplicating in the most abject manner that mercy might be extended to
him. It appears that a respite was granted to him, in consideration
of his promise to make the most important discoveries were his life
spared. He made a full confession before commissioners appointed for
that purpose, and in that confession was detailed the whole plan which
the coloured people had devised to excite the negro population to open
rebellion.

It seemed a case of peculiar hardship, if not of great injustice, and
breach of all faith and honour, that after the unfortunate and deluded
man had made such important disclosures, and had informed the governor
of the whole of their designs, by which their further progress might be
defeated, his life should be sacrificed; mercy having been held out as
the price of his confession, it should have been extended to him, for
this he had unquestionably, upon every principle of justice, a right to
expect and to demand. Why it should not have been granted to him, no
reason has been assigned. He was executed immediately after, and at the
fatal spot he shewed neither the firmness, fortitude, nor the mind of a
brave man suffering in that cause of which he had been the leader.

The proceedings of the government with respect to the revolt of Ogé,
and the very unjust execution of the latter, excited great animosity
between the whites and the people of colour, the latter of whom had
collected in large bodies in various parts. In the western and southern
districts they formed encampments, and displayed a determination to
resist the oppression and the unjust decrees of the governor. At
Jeremie, and at Aux Cayes in particular, a most formidable body had
collected, well armed and accoutred, and shewed a great desire to
come in contact with the government troops. It has been generally
admitted that Mauduit, who commanded the troops of the government, was
in secret conference with their leaders, and that on several occasions
he appeared among them singly, and consulted with them, advising them
not to desist from their purpose, but to move forward with energy and
perseverance. That he did this traitorously, is evident, for having
obtained intelligence of the whole of their plans through this ruse,
he availed himself of it for the purpose of defeating them, and as it
afterwards turned out, the mulattoes were dispersed and obliged to seek
refuge in any place where it was not likely that they could be known or
discovered.

The members of the colonial assembly who had gone to France for the
purpose of laying their complaints at the foot of the throne, were not
received with much favour; on the contrary, having appeared at the
bar of the national assembly they were dismissed with considerable
disappointment and chagrin. The report of the committee appointed
to examine their claims, displays no little disapprobation of the
proceedings of the general colonial assembly. It concludes by saying,
“that all the pretended decrees and acts of the said colonial assembly
should be reversed and pronounced utterly null and of no effect; that
the said assembly should be declared dissolved, and its members
rendered ineligible and incapable of being delegated in future to the
colonial assembly of St. Domingo; that testimonies of approbation
should be transmitted to the northern provincial assembly, to Colonel
Mauduit and the regiment of Port-au-Prince, for resisting the
proceedings at St. Marc’s; that the king should be requested to give
orders for the forming a new colonial assembly on the principles of the
national decree of the 8th of March 1790, and instructions of the 28th
of the same month; finally, that the cidevant members, then in France,
should continue in a state of arrest, until the national assembly might
find time to signify its further pleasure concerning them.”

Nothing could exceed the consternation which this decree excited
throughout the colony, and the indignation of the people was manifest
from one extremity of it to the other. To have called another
general colonial assembly would have been an act of impossibility,
for the people in many districts absolutely refused to return other
representatives, declaring those that were under arrest in France to
be the only legal ones, and that they would not proceed to another
election.

The national guards, who had for some time felt, with no little
mortification, the insult offered them by Mauduit, who had previously
carried off their colours, evinced a disposition to resent the
affront, and to refuse all further adherence to the cause in which
they had enlisted; and they were soon after joined in their revolt
by the very regiment of which Mauduit was the commander, tearing the
white cockade from their hats, and indignantly refusing obedience to
him. Discovering the error into which he had fallen, he offered to
restore the national colours, and appealed to them for protection
against insult, which these faithless wretches pledged. But because he
would not _stoop to the humiliation of begging pardon of the national
guards on his knees_, he was, notwithstanding this pledge, on the day
appointed for the ceremony of restoring the colours, suddenly pierced
by the bayonets of those very soldiers whom on innumerable occasions he
had so kindly and so liberally treated. The other troops who happened
to be present at this most dastardly and inhuman act, could not witness
it without an attempt to revenge themselves on the perpetrators;
they were however restrained from effecting their intention, and
only compelled them to lay down their arms, when they were sent off
prisoners to France, there to receive that punishment which such an
enormity most justly deserved.

About this period the accounts of the fatal end of Ogé had arrived in
Paris, an event that caused an amazing sensation amongst the advocates
of the people of colour and the society of Amis des Noirs; it brought
forward the Abbe Gregoire, the staunch friend of the former, who,
with extraordinary eloquence and great warmth, claimed the benefit
which the instructions of March 1790 gave to them. After a violent
address from Robespierre, who said, “Perish the colonies rather than
sacrifice one iota of our principles”, the national assembly confirmed
the decree of the 15th of May, 1791, which enacted, “that the people of
colour resident in the French colonies should be allowed the privileges
of French citizens, and, among others, those of having votes in the
choice of representatives, and of being eligible to seats both in the
parochial and colonial assemblies.”

This decree, on being received in the colony, excited no little
sensation; the greatest indignation was manifested by the white people
in every quarter, but still they refrained from acts of hostility to
the measures of the mother-country, under the hope that when the new
colonial assembly, which was to meet at Leogane on the 9th of August,
entered upon its legislative functions, it would without doubt afford
them that redress which they so anxiously desired.

The mulattoes, no doubt, expected that a most serious opposition
would be given to this decree, as the governor, M. Blanchelande, had
assured the provincial assembly of the north, “that he would suspend
the execution of this obnoxious decree whenever it should come to him
properly authenticated”; they accordingly assembled in large bodies
throughout the whole colony, and displayed a determination to enforce
by arms the concession of those privileges to which, under the decree
of the national assembly, they asserted they were entitled.

Here, it will be perceived, the first serious symptoms of tumult and
insubordination appeared, not from any revolt of the slave population,
but from the unhappy interference of the national assembly of France,
influenced by the supporters and advocates of the people of colour,
and the society of Amis des Noirs. Had this interference been declined
by the mother-country, and had the colonial assembly been invested
with the sole legislative power of framing regulations for the
internal government of the island, all those lamentable scenes which
subsequently followed would have been averted, and the colony would
have preserved its peace and repose, and have proceeded on, in its
highly rich and cultivated condition, to the great advantage of the
proprietors, to the enhancement of the revenues of the parent state,
and without, in any way, oppressing the slave cultivators or increasing
the burthens under which they were said to labour.

At the period of this narrative to which we have now arrived,
the effects of the Revolution in France had made a very sensible
impression on the whites, as well as on the people of colour; and
it has been a matter of no little astonishment, that during the
disputes which so unhappily existed, and whilst the adherents of one
party were committing acts of hostility against the other, the slave
population should have remained passive observers of the contest
between their respective masters, and in no instance, I believe, did
they fly to their succour and support. The proprietors and planters
of all denominations had arrived at a very high state of affluence,
their plantations were extensive, in a high state of cultivation;
thus possessing a soil rich and productive in a climate particularly
favourable for cultivation, their wealth scarcely knew any limits. But
unfortunately their manners and habits became relaxed and depraved
in proportion as they advanced in affluence and prosperity. Proud,
austere, and voluptuous, they often committed acts which humanity must
condemn; and in the season of agitation and disappointment, when the
contending factions at home and abroad were endeavouring to undermine
them, they perhaps were led to the infliction of excessive punishments,
and to practise an unusual degree of severity in exacting labour from
their slaves. Sensual pleasures had also, at this time, become so
prevalent as to excite very general disgust.

The mass of society had become so depraved, that vice in every shape
was gloried in, whilst virtue was scarcely known; it cannot therefore
be a matter of much surprise, that the rude, untaught, and unlettered
slave, just emerging from his savage customs, should be led by example
to imbibe the vicious habits, and indulge the loose and ungovernable
propensities which characterized his master. Upon the creole slave
example made an instant impression, whilst the newly imported African,
slow to observe, was only led into excesses by the craft and persuasion
of his creole fellow bondsman. Example, therefore, most unquestionably
suggested the extraordinary cruelties which in the spirit of revenge
were inflicted by these infuriated people, instigated by the mulattoes
in the first instance for the more certain enforcing of their claims
to the privileges which the decree of the 15th of May, 1791, conferred
upon them. In all these disputes the females of the colony also bore
a conspicuous part; entering into all the views and feelings of their
male companions, they displayed an unparalleled degree of enthusiasm
for the cause in which their husbands, fathers and brothers had
respectively engaged: forgetting their sex, and lost to the softer
feelings of female nature, they furiously flew to the standards of
their party, and by gesture and menace shewed that they were ready to
meet the fate which seemed likely to fall on their friends.

I cannot better illustrate the characters of the planters and the
slave population at this period, than by the description given of
them by Rainsford in his History of St. Domingo, who must have been
conversant with them from having been a sojourner in the colony under
circumstances of great danger, and whose experience, arising from
general intercourse, must enable him to be a very competent judge. He
says of them: “Flushed with opulence and dissipation, the majority
of the planters in St. Domingo had arrived at a state of sentiment
the most vitiated, and manners equally depraved; while injured by an
example so contagious, the slaves had become more dissolute than those
of any British island. If the master was proud, voluptuous, and crafty,
the slave was equally vicious, and often riotous; the punishment of
one was but the consequent of his own excesses, but that of the other
was often cruel and unnatural. The proprietor would bear no rival in
his parish, and would not bend even to the ordinances of justice. The
creole slaves looked upon the newly imported Africans with scorn, and
sustained in turn that of the mulattoes, whose complexion was browner,
while all were kept at a distance from an intercourse with the whites;
nor did the boundaries of sex, it is painful to observe, keep their
wonted distinction from the stern impulses which affect men. The
European ladies too often participated in the austerity and arrogance
of their male kindred, while the jet black beauty among slaves, though
scarcely a native of the island, refused all commerce with those who
could not boast the same distinction with herself.”



CHAPTER III.

 First revolt of the slaves in 1791.—Their ravages.—Decree of the
 national assembly 4th of April 1792.—Santhonax and Polverel.—Their
 secret agency.—Encourage the slaves.—Their declaration of freedom
 to the slaves.—Consequences arising from it.—Character of the
 slaves.—Disabilities of the coloured people.


IN the preceding chapter I have sought to discover if the first cause
of the revolt of the slaves in Hayti proceeded from any hatred towards
their proprietors, or if it were excited by the intrigues of the
contending parties, who were each attempting to gain over that class in
favour of their cause; and I find that the result of my investigation
of the subject is in favour of the latter supposition. From facts that
appear to me undeniable I have come to the conclusion, that unless
the national assembly of France had made an attempt to destroy that
principle of governing the colony which had previously been adopted,
and which before the Revolution had been sanctioned by every person
connected with it, the slave population would have remained until this
day peaceable and tranquil observers of passing events, unmindful of
their being in bondage, because under that bondage they had no wants,
and in that state, whatever may be the opinion of mankind, they had no
care beyond that of their daily labour, to which they felt it was no
hardship to submit; for there does not appear an instance in which it
exceeded the ordinary work of any labourer within the tropics.

The revolt of the slaves, therefore, I take leave to say, did not
proceed from any severity or great oppression on the part of their
proprietors, but from the proceedings of the parties who at different
periods were striving for a preponderating power in the colony:—of the
whites who aimed at the preservation of their privileges, and resisted
all innovation; and of the people of colour, who made every possible
effort to be admitted into the same sphere, and to the enjoyment of
those rights which Gregoire and his revolutionary colleagues were
willing to concede to them. To these causes, and to these alone, as it
will appear to every unbiassed reader, are to be attributed all those
lamentable scenes which subsequently ensued, and to which the human
mind cannot turn its attention without experiencing those painful
sensations which are excited by the ravages of civil warfare and
rebellion.

The first act of open rebellion among the slaves appears to have
occurred in the vicinity of the Cape on or about the 23d of August
1791, on the plantation Noé, situated in the parish of Acul. The
principal ringleaders murdered the white inhabitants, whilst the other
slaves finished the work of devastation, by demolishing the works and
setting fire to the dwellings, huts, and other places contiguous to
them.

They were joined by the negroes from other estates in the
neighbourhood, upon all of which similar tragedies were performed, and
desolation seemed likely to spread through the whole plains of the
north. The barbarity which marked their progress exceeded description;
an indiscriminate slaughter of the whites ensued, except in instances
where some of the females were reserved for a more wretched doom, being
made to submit to the brutal lusts of the most sanguinary wretches
that ever disgraced humanity. Cases are upon record, where the most
amiable of the female sex were first brought forth to see their parents
inhumanly butchered, and were afterwards compelled to submit to the
embraces of the very villain who acted as their executioner. The
distinction of age had no effect on these ruthless savages, for even
girls of twelve and fourteen years were made the objects of satiating
their lust and revenge. Nothing could exceed the consternation of the
white people; and the lamentations of the unhappy women struck every
one with horror. Such a scene of massacre has scarcely been heard of,
as that which accompanied the commencement of the rebellion in the
north.

Some opposition was made to their progress by a few militia and troops
of the line, which M. De Tonzard collected for the purpose; not
indeed, with the expectation of effectually dispersing them, but of
enabling the inhabitants of the city of Cape François to put themselves
in such a state of defence as might save them from that destruction
which seemed to await them. The citizens flew to arms, and the national
guards, with the seamen from the ships, were mustered, and ready to
receive the rebels should they make an attempt upon the city.

There was in the city at the time, a large body of free mulattoes,
on whom the lower order of whites looked with a suspicious eye, as
being in some way the authors or fomenters of the revolt; these
were also enrolled in the militia, the governor and the colonial
assembly confiding in them, and relying on their fidelity. The report
of the revolt was soon known throughout the whole colony, but more
particularly in the northern districts, the white inhabitants of
which, being speedily collected together, established two strong
posts at Grand Rivière and at Dondon, for the purpose of checking
the advance of the revolters, until such time as a force could be
concentrated, sufficiently powerful to disperse them: but in this they
were disappointed, for the negroes had increased their own numbers
by the revolt of the slaves on many other estates, and they had also
been joined by a large body of mulattoes. With this united force,
they successfully attacked the two positions which were occupied by
the whites, who were completely routed. Success put the rebels in
possession of the extensive plain with all its surrounding mountains,
abounding with every production of which they stood in need for their
sustenance.

The defeat of the whites was followed by a scene of cruelties and
butcheries which exceeds imagination; almost every individual who fell
into the hands of the revolters met with a wretched end, tortures of
the most shocking description being resorted to by these blood-thirsty
savages: blacks and mulattoes seemed eager to rival each other in the
extent of their enormities.

The union of the mulattoes with the revolted slaves, was not an event
unlocked for; as I have before remarked, they were strongly suspected
of being the instigators of the rebellion. This junction caused
serious apprehensions, that those mulattoes who had joined the whites
in the city, and had marched for the purpose of cooperating with the
inhabitants of the plains, would desert their posts and go over to the
revolters; and it is probable that such an event might have ensued, had
not the governor, before he permitted them to be enrolled, and before
he could implicitly confide in them, demanded from them their wives and
children, as hostages for their adherence to the cause which they had
engaged to support.

In this northern insurrection, the destruction of the white
inhabitants, it is said, was considerable, exceeding, of all ages,
two thousand; besides the demolition of the buildings of a great many
plantations, and the total ruin of many families, who from a condition
of ease and affluence were reduced to the lowest state of misery and
despair, being driven to the melancholy necessity of supplicating
charity, to relieve the heart-rending calls of their hungry and naked
offspring. The loss of the insurgents was however infinitely greater;
being ignorant of the effects of cannon they were consequently cut
down in masses, while the sword was also effectually used. It appears
that upwards of 10,000 of these sanguinary wretches fell in the field,
besides a very large number who perished by famine, and by the hands of
the executioner; a very just retribution for their savage and inhuman
proceedings. There is every reason to believe that the loss sustained
by them in all their engagements must have been immense, as they seemed
to have imbibed a most extraordinary idea of the effect of artillery:
it is said of them by a writer of repute, that “The blacks suffered
greatly in the beginning of the revolution by their ignorance of the
dreadful effects of the guns, and by a superstitious belief, very
generally prevailing at that time, that by a few mysterious words, they
could prevent the cannon doing them any harm, which belief induced them
to face the most imminent dangers.”

Whilst these ravages were going on in the north, the western
district was menaced by a body of men of colour, who had collected
at Mirebalais, sanguinely expecting to be joined by a large party of
slaves from the surrounding parishes. Their aim was the possession of
Port au Prince and the whole plain of Cul de Sac; but being joined by
only about six or seven hundred of the slaves of the neighbourhood,
they did not succeed in their object; and after having set fire to the
coffee plantations in the mountains, and done some injury amongst the
estates in the valley, they began to deliberate on their condition, and
to devise some plan, by which they might be able to rescue themselves
from the dilemma into which they were thrown by their own rash and
improvident proceedings. Some of the most powerful of the mulattoes,
who found it impossible to gain the negroes over to their cause, deemed
it advisable to propose an adjustment of their disputes, and attempt
to bring about a reconciliation with the whites. One of the planters,
a man of some power and address, and having been always very highly
esteemed by the people of colour, as well as the negroes through the
whole of the Cul de Sac, interposed, and a treaty was concluded on the
11th of September, between the people of colour on the one part, and
the white inhabitants of Port au Prince on the other.

This treaty was called the _Concordat_: it had for its basis the
oblivion of past differences and the full recognition of the decree of
the national assembly of the 15th of May. The treaty was subsequently
ratified by the general assembly of the colony, and a proclamation
was issued, in which it was held out that further concessions were
contemplated for the purpose of cementing a good understanding between
both classes, and these concessions, it was supposed, alluded to the
admission of those persons of colour to the privileges of the whole who
were born of enslaved parents. Mulattoes also were voted to be eligible
to hold commissions in the companies formed of persons of their own
colour, and some other privileges of minor consideration conceded to
them. This, it was hoped, would restore order, and enable the people
once more to enjoy peace and repose. But a circumstance occurred
which blasted these hopes, and the flame, which appears only to have
been partially subdued, was rekindled, and burst forth again with an
astonishing rapidity, devouring all within its overwhelming reach.

Immediately after the ratification of the _Concordat_ by the colonial
assembly had been announced, and when it was admitted by all parties
that its several provisions, amongst them the decree of the 15th of
May, were judicious and highly commendable, tending to preserve order
and tranquillity through the island, intelligence was received of the
repeal of that very decree by the national assembly in France, and of
its having been voted by a very large majority. This was followed too
by an intimation that the national assembly had determined on sending
out commissioners to enforce the decree of the 24th of September
1791, which annulled the decree of the 15th of May, and to endeavour
to restore order and subordination. Such unaccountable, and, as they
may be justly characterized, deceptive proceedings on the part of the
national assembly excited the indignation of the people of colour, who
immediately accused the whites of being privy to these transactions,
and declared that all further amity and good understanding must be
broken off, and that either one party or the other must be annihilated.
All the coloured people in the western and southern parts flew eagerly
to the standard of revolt, and having collected a strong force, they
appeared in a few days before Port au Prince, on which they made an
attempt, but as that city had been strengthened by an additional force
from France, it was enabled to receive the attack of the insurgents,
and ultimately to repel them with no inconsiderable loss. The city
however sustained considerable injury, and the revolters were
successful in several attempts to set fire to it, by which a very large
part of it was burnt down, or otherwise injured.

In the plains of the Cul de Sac the negroes joined the mulattoes,
allured by the charm of plunder and the pledge of freedom, and the
expectation of satiating their lust on the defenceless and unoffending
white females who should fall into their hands. In these plains some
sanguinary battles were fought, remarkable however for nothing except
the unrelenting cruelties with which the prisoners of the respective
combatants were visited, and the barbarous and inhuman executions which
followed them.

In these engagements it is recorded that the whites had the advantage,
but they were unable to follow up their success, being destitute of a
force of cavalry for the pursuit, a circumstance which made it quite
impossible for them to improve on any decisive movement which they had
effected. It appears, that in every skirmish or engagement the whites
were in all cases most forward and bold in their attacks, and few only
were the instances in which the contest was commenced by the mulattoes;
whenever they were brought in contact with their opponents they
exhibited no individual or collective displays of courage and heroism,
but, on the contrary, there seemed a tincture of cowardice in all their
proceedings, for they arranged the negroes in front of their position,
and in all cases of advance these deluded creatures bore the first
attack of their adversaries, whilst their coloured allies, leaders,
and deluders, often remained inactive during the moment of trial and
slaughter.

In December the commissioners Mirbeck, Roosne, and St. Leger arrived.
Their reception was respectful, and there was a peculiar degree of
submission shewn to them; but when they proclaimed a general amnesty
and pardon to all who should submit and desist from further acts of
insubordination, and subscribe the articles of the new constitution,
a general murmur was excited, and marks of disapprobation were
shewn towards them, not only by the colonial assembly, but by every
individual of the contending parties. They remained in the island
but a short time; and as an opinion prevailed that they were the
mere instruments or organ of the national assembly, they obtained no
attention or respect. Without any display of talent, they aspired to
the government of a people, who were not to be commanded without being
first taught that their commission was of a pacific tendency, and
that their instructions were to appease, and not to excite. Instead
of this, they declined to give any explanation of the object of their
appointment beyond that which had been previously known, the enforcing
of the decree of the 24th of September 1791. Finding all their efforts
unavailing, and that they were unsupported by either party, finding
that their authority was disputed and their representations despised,
and, above all, left without any troops by which they might attempt to
enforce obedience to their power, and submission to the decrees of the
mother-country, they took their departure from the island by separate
conveyances, after having made many most ineffectual attempts to obtain
the confidence and the good opinion of the people over whom they were
sent to preside, and from whom they were sent to exact an accordance
with such measures as the national assembly might think it expedient to
adopt.

About this time, also, there were some changes in France which
indicated further arrangements with respect to the administration
of the colonies, which could only tend to widen the breach, and
inflame the parties to that degree of violence which would preclude
the expectation of any amicable adjustment at a future period. The
society of Amis des Noirs had now gained a considerable influence in
the national assembly, and there seemed to exist an union of feeling
in favour of the mulattoes, and also of the slave population, whom it
was designed at no distant period to emancipate, however unprepared
they might be, by moral improvement, to receive such a boon. It
was suggested that instructions should be sent out to the colonial
assemblies, conveying to them such intentions, as well as their opinion
of the means by which “slavery might be abolished in toto”, without in
the least affecting the interest of the people, or in any way putting
their property in jeopardy. This design, however, of the anti-slavery
party in France met with some momentary opposition, although the
advocates of the measure uttered loud invectives against the planters
in general; but whatever influence the former might have collected and
brought against the latter, it is very clear it failed in its desired
aim, for in less than two months this assembly passed another decree,
which abrogated that of the 24th of September. This decree is of the
4th of April 1792, and it is the first step towards an emancipation
of slavery, although it does not declare such an intention. It is
important, and I shall therefore insert it from a translation in
another work, to the writer of which I am much indebted.

“The national assembly acknowledges and declares, that the people of
colour and free negroes in the colonies ought to enjoy an equality of
political rights with the whites; in consequence of which it decrees as
follows:—

“Article 1st. Immediately after the publication of the present decree,
the inhabitants of each of the French colonies in the windward and
leeward islands shall proceed to the re-election of colonial and
parochial assemblies, after the mode prescribed by the decree of the
8th of March 1790, and the instructions of the national assembly of the
28th of the same month.

“2d. The people of colour and free negroes shall be admitted to vote
in all the primary and electoral assemblies, and shall be eligible
to the legislature and all places of trust, provided they possess
the qualifications prescribed by the fourth article of the aforesaid
instructions.

“3d. Three civil commissioners shall be named for the colony of St.
Domingo, and four for the islands of Martinique, Guadaloupe, St. Lucia,
and Tobago, to see this decree enforced.

“4th. The said commissioners shall be authorized to dissolve the
present colonial assemblies; to take every measure necessary for
accelerating the convocation of the primary and electoral assemblies,
and therein to establish union, order, and peace, as well as to
determine provisionally (reserving the power of appeal to the national
assembly) upon every question which may arise concerning the regularity
of convocations, the holding of assemblies, the form of elections, and
the eligibility of citizens.

“5th. They are authorized to procure every information possible, in
order to discover the authors of the troubles in St. Domingo, and the
continuance thereof, if they still continue; to secure the persons of
the guilty, and to send them over to France, there to be put in a state
of accusation, &c.

“6th. The said civil commissioners shall be directed, for this purpose,
to transmit to the national assembly minutes of their proceedings, and
of the evidence they may have collected concerning the persons accused
as aforesaid.

“7th. The national assembly authorizes the civil commissioners to call
forth the public force whenever they may think it necessary, either
for their own protection, or for the execution of such orders as they
may issue by virtue of the preceding articles.

“8th. The executive power is directed to send a sufficient force to the
colonies, to be composed chiefly of national guards.

“9th. The colonial assemblies immediately after their formation shall
signify, in the name of each colony respectively, their sentiments
respecting that constitution, those laws, and the administration of
them, which will best promote the prosperity and happiness of the
people, conforming themselves nevertheless to those general principles
by which the colonies and the mother-country are connected together,
and by which their respective interests are best secured, agreeably to
the decree of the 8th of March 1790 and instructions of the 28th of the
same month.

“10th. The colonial assemblies are authorized to send home delegates
for the purposes mentioned in the preceding article, in numbers
proportionate to the population of each colony, which proportion shall
be forthwith determined by the national assembly, according to the
report which its colonial committee is directed to make.

“11th. Former decrees respecting the colonies shall be in force in
every thing not contrary to the present decree.”

The carrying of this decree into effect was entrusted to Messrs.
Santhonax, Polverel, and Ailhaud, the executive in France sending
out a body comprising eight thousand men of the national guards,
for the purpose of compelling the colonists to submit to their
authority. Having arrived on the 13th of September, their first act
was to dissolve the colonial assembly, and their next, to send the
governor, Blanchelande, to France, where, after an examination into
his administration, he was sentenced to death, and suffered on the
guillotine in the April following. M. Desparbes, who was invested with
chief command in his stead, having disagreed with the commissioners,
was also suspended, and, like his predecessor, he was sent to France to
undergo a similar fate.

The greatest consternation everywhere prevailed on the announcement of
this decree, and, as I have before observed, a pretty general feeling
existed, that this was only a prelude to a general emancipation of the
slave population, and which afterwards was actually realised. The white
inhabitants, in particular, suspected the candour of the commissioners,
who were anxious to have it believed that the object of their mission
was nothing more than to carry into operation the provisions of this
decree, and to settle all those disputes between the one class and the
other, which had been fomented to the great destruction of persons and
property. These agents of the national assembly seem to have been well
skilled in the art of dissimulation, more particularly the leader, M.
Santhonax, who, whilst professing to the whites the warmest solicitude
and anxiety for the preservation of peace and the promotion of the
prosperity of the colony, was secretly intriguing with the mulattoes,
and holding clandestine meetings with their chiefs; and in the end, in
conjunction with his coadjutors, he openly declared that they, with the
free negroes, should enjoy their privileges, receive the protection of
the national guards, and that he would espouse their cause in every
possible way in which it could be effectually promoted.

The properties of the white inhabitants, as well as their lives,
seemed at this juncture in the greatest jeopardy, and they possessed
no means of averting the fate which seemed to await them. Some little
hope, however, was raised in their minds by the appointment of a new
governor, M. Galbaud, who arrived to take the command in May 1793,
and to place the island in the strongest state of defence, it being
apprehended by the French government that the British might interpose
in the existing disputes, as war had been declared between the two
powers. His arrival was hailed by the authorities and the inhabitants
of the Cape with the strongest manifestations of joy, and from his
having property in the island, they had the highest confidence in his
character for probity, and anticipated that the most decisive measures
would be adopted for the restoration of their property, and for the
security of their lives. But how vain were their anticipations, and
how fleeting their hope! The national assembly of France, the great
mover of all the evils which afflicted this unhappy country, again
interposed with new instructions, and suspended the new governor from
his command, decreeing that any one holding property in the colonies
should be ineligible to fill any office of trust in the colony in which
his estate was situate.

Galbaud did not, however, resign his appointment without a struggle;
and aided by his brother, a man of some spirit and great enterprise,
he collected a force composed of militia, seamen from the ships in the
harbour of the Cape, and a strong body of volunteers, and without delay
advanced against the commissioners, whom he found ready to receive him
at the head of the regular troops. A conflict severe and bloody ensued,
and considerable resolution was displayed by the rival parties, each
supporting their cause with unshaken firmness and determined bravery;
but the sailors, who composed the greatest body of Galbaud’s force,
having become disorderly, he was obliged to retire, which he did
without being in the least interrupted or opposed by the force of the
commissioners.

The next day various skirmishes took place, in which the success was in
some degree mutual; and whilst the brother of Galbaud fell into the
hands of the commissioners’ troops, the son of Polverel was captured
by the seamen attached to Galbaud’s force. The commissioners finding,
however, that their force diminished, and that their opponents were
resolute and fought with unexampled bravery, had recourse to a measure
which in the sequel caused much slaughter, although it succeeded in the
destruction of Galbaud’s force; they called in the aid of the revolted
slaves, offering them their freedom, and promising that the city of the
Cape should be given up for plunder. Some of the rebel chiefs rejected
a proposition which could only produce the sacrifice of lives and the
spilling of human blood, without in any way promoting their own cause,
but Macaya, a negro possessing some power over his adherents, and being
of a savage and brutal disposition, with an insatiable thirst for
the blood of the whites, accepted the proposal of the commissioners,
and with three or four thousand of his negro brethren joined their
standard, when a scene of horror and of carnage ensued, the recital of
which would shock the hardest and most unfeeling heart. Men, women, and
children were without distinction unmercifully slaughtered by these
barbarians, and those who had escaped the first rush into the city,
and had reached the water-side, for the purpose of getting on board
the ships in the harbour, were intercepted and their retreat cut off
by these merciless wretches, just at the moment when arrangements had
been accomplished for their embarkation. Here the mulattoes had an
opportunity of gratifying their revenge; here they had arrived at the
summit of their greatest ambition and glory; here it was that these
cowardly and infamous parricides, gorged with human blood, sacrificed
their own parents, and afterwards subjected their bodies to every
species of insult and indignity; here it was that these disciples of
Robespierre—this injured and oppressed race—the theme of Gregoire’s
praise, and the subject of his appeal and harangue, shewed themselves
worthy disciples of such masters! If any thing were wanted to establish
the fact of these scenes being unexampled, and without a parallel,
one thing, I am sure, will alone be sufficient, and that is, that the
commissioners, these amiable representatives of the national assembly,
the _immaculate_ Santhonax, and the equally _humane_ and _virtuous_
Polverel, these vicegerents of the society of Amis des Noirs, these
protectors of the mulattoes, were struck with horror at the scene which
was presented to them, and repaired to the ships, there to become
spectators of the effects of their own crimes, and of a splendid and
opulent city devoured by the flames which had been lighted by the torch
of anarchy and rebellion.

In this destruction of the Cape, some instances of the most
extraordinary brutality were exhibited, and others of devotedness and
heroism were displayed; one or two it will be as well to mention, as
illustrative of the generosity and humanity of the one party, and of
the ferocity and cruelty of the other. When the revolters first entered
the city, every man, woman, and child were bayoneted or cut down with
such instruments as they could muster, but the young females were in
most cases spared, for the momentary gratification of the lust of those
into whose hands they fell. One case of the most singular enormity took
place:—a leader of the revolted slaves, named Gautier, had entered
the house of a respectable merchant in the square, in which were the
proprietor, his wife, his two sons, and three daughters; the sons were
young, not exceeding the age of ten, but the daughters were elegant
young women, the eldest about eighteen, and the youngest not exceeding
fourteen. Gautier, assisted by one or two wretches equally inhuman,
promised to spare the family, on account of his having received many
acts of kindness and generosity from the father, to whom he was often
sent by his master on business, he being a domestic slave. These poor
creatures, who were at first half-expiring from the terror of the scene
around them, and from the idea of being the captives of barbarians,
recovered somewhat from the alarm into which they had been thrown,
through the promises of security thus unconditionally pledged to them;
and although not permitted to go out of the sight of their captors,
they did not apprehend that any mischief was in embryo, and that their
lives were to be sacrificed. Impressed with the idea of safety, they
proceeded to prepare a repast for their supposed guardians, and set
it before them in the same splendour as they were wont to do when
receiving their best and dearest friends. Gautier drank freely, and his
compeers did no little justice to the rich repast. Night coming on,
and apprehensive of the consequences of a surprise from the governor’s
force, they began to deliberate upon what plan they should adopt to
secure their unhappy captives from flight, when, not being able to
devise any thing likely to be effectual, they came to the savage
resolution of murdering them all. The daughters were locked up in a
room, under the watch of two of the revolters, whilst the remainder of
them commenced the bloody task by bayoneting the two sons. The mother,
on her knees, imploring mercy with pitiful cries, met with the same
fate, whilst the husband, who was bound hand and foot, was barbarously
mangled, by having first his arms and then his legs cut off, and
afterwards run through the body. During this blood-thirsty scene, the
daughters, ignorant of the tragic end of their parents, were in a state
of alarm and terror not to be described, yet hoping that their lives
were safe. But, alas! how deceitful that hope! for their destiny was
fixed, and their time but short. Gautier and his diabolical associates
went into their room, stripped them naked, and committed on their
defenceless persons the most brutal enormities, when with the dead
bodies of their parents they were thrown into the flames which were
then surrounding them, where they all perished.

I shall mention another case of an opposite character, and in which
a degree of heroism was exhibited that deserves to be recorded with
every praise. A M. Tardiffe, a planter, and a young man of considerable
property and of great courage and presence of mind, had joined the
force of the governor, and had consequently become an object of great
hatred, particularly on the part of some of the mulattoes who resided
in the vicinity of his estate. Awakened one night about twelve o’clock
by the cries of females, he jumped up, and rushed to the room in which
his sisters, two amiable young ladies, were reposing, where he found
armed men attempting to get through the window. He instantly flew for
his sabre and pistols, which were loaded, his sisters following him,
and then returned to the room to oppose the assassins. He found one
had accomplished his purpose of getting into the room, whom he in an
instant ran through the body; when, turning to the window, he shot
another fellow just entering, and afterwards one or two others who
made similar attempts. About this time his domestics had all come
up stairs, and they shewed themselves most faithful in adhering to
their master; for, not contented with merely opposing the entry of
the assassins into the house, they sallied forth to meet them at the
front of it, and although their numbers were inferior to that of their
unprincipled and lawless invaders, they successfully attacked them,
killing seven, and driving away the rest, with the exception of one,
who was captured, who happened to be the illegitimate brother of M.
Tardiffe, to whom he had shewed the warmest affection and whom he had
cherished as the dearest relation. In return for such ingratitude
and villainy, how did M. Tardiffe act? Did he give him up for public
justice? No. Did he permit his faithful and enraged domestics, who
were witnesses of his crimes, to execute momentary vengeance upon
him? No. But he took him by the hand, mildly remonstrated with him,
and afterwards furnished him with the means of leaving the colony for
America, lest the searching hand of justice might before long stay
his career. I have thought it adviseable to relate these two cases,
from the extraordinary enormity of the first, and from the singular
circumstances attending the last, having received the detail of them
from an individual who was engaged in most of the events which occurred
at that period.

After this first revolt of the slaves in the north, emigrations
commenced in almost all parts of the colony, some going to the United
States, many to the neighbouring islands; and some of the most opulent
and powerful of the planters to England, under the impression that
the British government would be disposed to turn its attention to
their cause. The war between France and England having commenced, some
regard was paid to their solicitations, and through the instance of M.
Charmilly (the M. Charmilly of Spanish notoriety) the government of
England sent out directions to the governor of Jamaica to afford to
those inhabitants of St. Domingo who were desirous to place themselves
under British protection every possible support, and to send without
delay a competent force, and to take possession of such places as the
people might be disposed to surrender to them.

The intentions of the British government being known by the means of
secret agents, the commissioners, Santhonax and Polverel, had recourse
to every possible means of strengthening the force in the colony, and
of being prepared for the reception of the British troops whenever they
should make their contemplated descent. They collected the regular
troops, militia, and such of the whites as were in their interest,
together with the free negroes and mulattoes who had hitherto followed
their cause. But this was not deemed by them a sufficient body when
united, to oppose British soldiers led on by experienced commanders.
They therefore at once “proclaimed the abolition of every species of
slavery, declaring that the negroes were thenceforth to be considered
as free citizens”; and thereby assigned over to a lawless banditti
the fee simple of every property in the French part of the island of
St. Domingo, placing every white inhabitant within almost the grasp
of a set of people insensible to every feeling of humanity, rude and
ruthless as in their native wilds.

A description of these untutored people cannot be better given
than in the language of Mr. Edwards, who says, “The Charaibs of
St. Vincent, and the Maroons of Jamaica, were originally enslaved
Africans; and what they now are, the freed negroes of St. Domingo
will be hereafter,—savages in the midst of society, without peace,
security, agriculture, or property; ignorant of the duties of life,
and unacquainted with all the soft endearing relations which rendered
it desirable; averse to labour, though frequently perishing for want;
suspicious of each other, and towards the rest of mankind revengeful
and faithless, remorseless and bloody-minded; pretending to be free
while groaning beneath the capricious despotism of their chiefs,
and feeling all the miseries of servitude without the benefits of
subordination.” The prediction of this elegant author has certainly
been realized in all its parts, and subsequent events have fully
confirmed the opinion which he had formed of the negro character,
when left to his own uncontrolled will and unrestrained in his
propensities. Sloth, lust, and every species of wantonness and cruelty
marked the progress of the enfranchised slaves in the first moment of
their freedom; and until leaders of decisive and resolute powers for
command undertook to preserve some degree of order and submission,
they wandered in parties through the different parishes, inflicting
the most unheard-of cruelties on the innocent and unoffending, without
regard to sex or colour. To the will and command of their chief they
were generally obedient, although they were subjected to duties of the
most dangerous and laborious description; but when the least relaxation
of discipline was permitted, they again resorted to plunder and
destruction, and to every other species of insubordination, gratifying
their insatiable thirst for the blood of the whites, as well as of that
of the mulattoes, who were averse to the measure of emancipation. In
these predatory excursions they committed the most shocking excesses,
and more real and afflicting accounts have been received of the
enormities practised by them when wandering in detached parties, than
have been known to follow the most sanguinary battle in which they had
been engaged.

I see nothing through the whole career of the rebellion to induce me
to alter my opinion of the cause whence all these lamentable effects
sprung; and I must again repeat, that it was not misconduct on the
part of the proprietors which excited the first revolt, and induced
the slaves to take up arms against those from whom, in innumerable
instances, they had experienced kindness and indulgence. It was natural
to expect that in a colony, the operations in which are entirely
performed by slaves, some cases of oppression would occur which would
justly deserve reprobation; but the rebellion became general, although
I am not aware that any successful attempt has been made to shew that
the conduct of the planters towards their slaves was generally harsh
and oppressive.

De Vastey, in his remarks, would wish it to be inferred that the
brute creation received infinitely more kindness and indulgence from
their master than was shewn towards the slave: but De Vastey being
a negro, it is natural that he should exhibit the worst side of the
picture, without noticing its better one. He adduces no instances of
that oppression which he wishes to prevail upon mankind to believe
to have been inflicted: we have nothing from him but allegations and
assertions, without proof to support them. It is true, that he puts
forward some statements of cruelties inflicted on his negro brethren,
but those were subsequent, even by his own account, to the revolt and
to the emancipation; but he has forgotten that the first atrocities,
the first acts of cruelty and indiscriminate murder, were committed
by his very brethren (for whom he claims the pity of mankind for their
sufferings and for their unmerited bondage) on the plantation Noé, and
others in the vicinity. De Vastey, it is plain, is no authority on
which the charge of cruelty on the part of the planter _before_ the
rebellion can be supported.

With regard to the mulattoes, or free men of colour, who were doubtless
the chief instigators of the rebellion and of the first revolt of
the slaves, although they cannot escape the condemnation justly due
to them for their perfidy, yet the extreme disabilities under which
they laboured in some measure might be adduced in mitigation of the
censure which their faithless conduct so truly deserved. If they had
not commenced the work of revolt, but had remained quiet observers of
the proceedings of the national and colonial assemblies, and delayed
their operations until the result of the deliberations and arrangements
of those bodies had been promulgated, they would have called forth
spontaneous expressions of approbation from all classes of people:
but the eagerness which they manifested for civil feuds and for a
preponderancy of power in the colony, without any conditions and
without the least possible reservation, has called down upon them, and
I think justly too, very severe reprobation. It has been observed, that
this class of people were, from their education and from their general
demeanour, as eligible members of society as the whites, and as such
ought to have been admitted into all its rights and advantages. This,
I believe, no one undertakes to deny; but it is no more than fair and
equitable towards the white population to observe, that prior to every
concession being made to them, something like a line of demarcation
should have been drawn as to the limits to which those concessions
should be carried, otherwise from their number and power the mulattoes
might have obtained an overwhelming preponderancy in the colony,
rendering the white colonists mere cyphers.

The decrees against the people of colour, as they appear on the records
of the colony, are extremely harsh and impolitic, and a relaxation,
if not a repeal of them, would have been only an act of justice. The
government held them in no repute, but considered them as it were
national property, and gave the public a right in them. They were
subjected by the governors, when they had arrived at a particular age,
to a military servitude of the most degrading kind, and for a time to
labour on the public roads, the severity of which was almost too great
to be borne. They were not permitted to hold any office of power or
trust in the state, nor could they even follow the humble calling of
a schoolmaster. The least possible taint in the blood excluded them,
and the distinction of colour had no termination. Not so in the
British colonies, where it is lost in the third generation. It is said
also, that “the courts of criminal jurisdiction adopting the popular
prejudices against them gave effect and permanency to the system. A
man of colour, being a prosecutor, must have made out a strong case
indeed, if at any time he obtained the conviction of a white person. On
the other hand, the whites never failed to procure prompt and speedy
justice against mulattoes. To mark more strongly the distinction
between the two classes, the law declared that if a free man of colour
presumed to strike a white person, of whatever condition, his right
hand should be cut off; while a white man for a similar assault on a
free mulatto was dismissed on the payment of an insignificant fine.”[3]

It is, I conceive, impossible for any one to be informed of the
existence of such a system without exclaiming, that whatever might
have been the proceedings of the people of colour in the work of
rebellion, their grievances offered considerable extenuation of their
conduct. This presents the most disgraceful and indefensible page in
the colonial records of criminal jurisprudence. True it is that its
severity, that its flagrant injustice, precluded the possibility of
putting it in force; the abhorrence which it so generally excited
among all orders of people, made it a dead letter; but it was
notwithstanding a law in force, and might have been acted upon by an
arbitrary and unmerciful judge.

The only circumstance that contributed towards affording the coloured
people some degree of security and protection under their disabilities
was the power which they indirectly derived from the possession of
property in the colony. They consequently had influence, because under
a corrupt government money bought it, and many were the venal officers
of the state who had stooped to be their pensioners. Many of these
mulattoes held large estates, and possessed besides extensive available
funds; these men in most cases evaded those exclusions from society,
to which their brethren of less influence were obliged to submit. They
were secure enough both in their persons and property, whilst the less
wealthy among their coloured brethren had to submit to every species of
insecurity and mortification.

I have now said as much as may be deemed necessary on the subject
of the situation of the coloured people at the time of the first
disturbances in St. Domingo, and I trust I have made it appear
conclusive, that the cause of those disturbances did not proceed from
the oppression and the tyranny practised over the slaves, but from the
measures of the national assembly, the colonial assemblies, aided by
that specious and intriguing body, the society of Amis des Noirs, and
the coloured people then residing in France, who had been tainted with
the pernicious doctrines then prevailing in that country.



CHAPTER IV.

 Effects of emancipating the slaves.—Arrival of the British
 forces.—Their subsequent operations.—Evacuation by General
 Maitland.—M. Charmilly negotiates with the English.—Views of the
 English cabinet.—Parties in the contest.—And insincerity of the
 French planters.


HAVING, in the last chapter, arrived at the period when Santhonax and
Polverel conferred freedom upon the slave population, and at the time
also when the planters of the colony had solicited the aid of the
British government to their cause, I shall now proceed in my detail of
the effects produced by the former, and, in as succinct a manner as
possible, notice a few of the operations of the latter, as well as the
consequences arising from them.

No sooner had the abolition of slavery been promulgated, than it spread
through the whole colony with remarkable rapidity, and the work of
insubordination and destruction commenced. In the different parishes
the slaves rose simultaneously, formed into bodies, took possession of
the mountains, and secured themselves within those fastnesses which
everywhere abound through the island. They then sallied forth into the
plains, spreading devastation around them, setting fire to the cane
fields, and demolishing every description of habitation within their
range, murdering the unoffending white inhabitants wherever they met
with them. In one part of the colony the insurgents amounted to nearly
one hundred thousand, without any leader who had the least possible
command over them. In the north their force in the first instance
only amounted from about twenty to twenty-five thousand, but they
quickly increased to forty thousand of a most desperate and sanguinary
character.

The British force under Colonel Whitelocke made its appearance before
Jeremie on the 19th of September 1793; it consisted only of about eight
hundred and seventy rank and file. As this place was to be given up to
the British force by stipulation, the town was taken possession of the
next day, and the inhabitants all took the oath of allegiance with much
eagerness. Cape St. Nicolas next followed; but here the inhabitants
displayed some hostility, and most of them joined the standard of
republicanism, although they had before strenuously adhered to the
royal cause, and kept the white flag always hoisted. Tiburon was next
tried, but here, notwithstanding the strongest pledges of cooperation
on the part of the planters, their infidelity was so manifest, and
the force of the enemy had become so formidable, that the troops were
obliged to retreat with some loss, and this object of the expedition
therefore unfortunately failed. From fatigue and from sickness,
from the exposure to which they had been subjected, both in the sun
and the noxious dews of night, the troops became much dispirited and
discouraged, and further operations were suspended until a force from
England arrived of sufficient magnitude to prosecute further offensive
measures. This did not take place until the February following, when a
British squadron arrived with troops, which were immediately landed,
with Major (now Sir Brent) Spencer at their head, who most gallantly
attacked the enemy, drove them back with considerable loss, and thereby
retrieved that which before ended in a failure. The whole bight of
Leogane was now commanded by the British squadron, and a further force
being expected from England, it was anticipated that Port au Prince
would fall an easy conquest, from the supposition that the people were
mostly in favour of their cause. A considerable time elapsed before
the reinforcements from England made their appearance; in the interim,
many skirmishes took place in the vicinity of Leogane, as well as
at Tiburon, and in the neighbourhood of Cape Nicolas Mole; in some
instances the British were successful, and in others the enemy obtained
advantages.

About this period it was that Andrew Rigaud first made his appearance
at the head of the revolted slaves: he was a man of colour, and had the
command at Aux Cayes. With about two thousand of the rebels he marched
from his station and besieged Tiburon; but the fort which was manned by
some British soldiers, who defended it with their usual intrepidity,
and who afterwards sallied forth, attacked the besiegers in the field,
and put them to the rout with great slaughter.

During the interval occasioned by the non-arrival of the reinforcement
from England, the planters who were, in the first instance,
favourable to the cause of the British, began to shew some symptoms
of displeasure; and the tardiness with which the operations were
carried on, and the absence of that decision which the urgency of
their situation required, induced many very powerful individuals
to relinquish all further adherence to the party in which they had
engaged, and to join the republican standard.

On the 19th of May the force which had been so long looked for arrived
under the command of General Whyte, who, with Commodore Ford, proceeded
at once to deliberate on the measures which it would be adviseable
to adopt for the capture of Port au Prince. On the 30th the ships of
war, consisting of four ships of the line, three or four frigates,
and several smaller vessels, anchored off the city. The land forces
amounted to only about fifteen hundred men capable of doing duty.
The next morning a flag was sent to summon the city to surrender, to
which no attention was paid, and it is even said that the letter was
returned unopened. The commissioners, Santhonax and Polverel, were
known to be in the city with a considerable force; and it was expected
that a powerful stand would be made, for the preservation of this
important place. Fort Bizotton, which is situate on an eminence to
the southward of the city, commands the Leogane road and the southern
entrance in the harbour. The land-side was attacked by a body of troops
under the gallant Major Spencer, whilst a simultaneous attack was made
on the sea-side by two of the ships of war. Captain Daniel of the
forty-first regiment, with about seventy or eighty men, took advantage
of a thunder storm which happened about eight o’clock, entered the
breach which had been rendered practicable, and carried the fort at the
point of the bayonet. The captain was severely wounded, and some of his
men and officers fell. The city soon surrendered, and the commissioners
evacuated it on the fourth of June, the birth-day of the then sovereign
of Great Britain, George the Third, when the British troops entered and
took possession of it together with the shipping in the harbour. It was
the intention of the republican commissioners to set fire to the city,
but the prompt and decisive attack of the British gave them no time for
carrying so destructive a design into effect.

This capture was of great consequence to the cause of the British
as far as their proceedings had gone on; it gave confidence to the
soldiers, and inspirited the colonial troops who had joined their
standard; but it afterwards proved to be the grave of many a British
officer and soldier: sickness began to rage amongst the troops to such
an alarming extent, as is generally the case in the autumnal months,
that it was found necessary, for the preservation of the post, to erect
additional lines of defence, fearing that in their then condition the
enemy might try to regain the position. To accomplish this, the troops
were subjected to incessant toil, first in the sun, and then during the
night exposed to all the pernicious vapours arising from heavy rains
which fall during the rainy seasons. In point of booty the capture of
Port au Prince was a very fine acquisition, although the commissioners
carried off with them every thing valuable which it contained,
consisting of upwards of two hundred mule loads. They were accompanied
also by upwards of two thousand of the inhabitants, who followed in
their career. Finding however that they had lost all their influence
in the colony, and that Rigaud and Toussaint L’Ouverture had obtained
possession of the whole, they thought it expedient to leave the island,
and return to France, where they received the congratulations of the
government, whose representatives they had been appointed to carry
into operation the most injudicious decrees that could possibly have
been framed for the internal government of any colonial appendage.

The value of the captured property has been variously estimated: a
writer of some authority says, that “In the harbour were found two and
twenty top-sail vessels, fully laden with sugar, indigo, and coffee,
of which thirteen were from three to five hundred tons burthen, and
the remaining nine from one hundred and fifty to three hundred tons,
besides seven thousand tons of shipping in ballast; the value of all
which at a moderate computation could not be far short of four hundred
thousand pounds sterling. One hundred and thirty-one pieces of cannon
regularly mounted in batteries were on the lines.”

After the reduction of Port au Prince, a further reinforcement arrived
under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Lennox, consisting of about
six hundred men, but on their passage from the windward islands to
Jamaica, to which latter place they first sailed, sickness broke
out amongst them, by which more than one hundred died on board, and
a hundred and fifty were left at Port Royal in the last stage of
disease. It is impossible to describe the mortality that prevailed
amongst the troops in St. Domingo. When active operations were likely
to be attended with a beneficial result, the commander-in-chief was
prevented from taking advantage of the positions which he held, by
the epidemic which at the time so lamentably raged. There could not be
produced eight hundred British soldiers in a condition for the field,
and many of them had only a short time previously been discharged from
the hospitals; of course they were not equal to the fatigue of active
service, nor were they in the least fit for a duty which rendered it
necessary to expose them to the pernicious humidity of the night air.
The commander-in-chief, General Whyte, was seized with this malignant
fever; and his health was so much impaired by the effects of disease,
and anxiety for the fate of his officers and men, who were daily dying
around him, that he was compelled to leave the island and return to
England, when the command devolved on Brigadier-General Horneck.

From the departure of General Whyte in September 1794, until the
arrival of General Williamson in the month of May following, nothing
of any material consequence ensued, except some skirmishes between the
posts of the British and revolters, attended with no decisive result on
either side. During this short period of inactivity on the part of the
British, Rigaud, collecting a strong force, advanced towards Leogane,
which at that time was defended by some colonial troops, and succeeding
in his attack upon the place, he inhumanly murdered the French planters
who fell into his power, and afterwards advanced upon Port au Prince;
but in his attempt upon Fort Bizotton which commanded his advance, he
failed, having been repulsed by the garrison, with great slaughter,
whence he retreated, for the purpose of making another effort for the
recovery of Tiburon. He left Aux Cayes with a force of three thousand
men with four small armed vessels, and on the 25th of December they
commenced the attack on the place. The fort, which consisted of only
about four hundred and fifty men, defended it with great bravery; and
after the loss of two-thirds of their number, the remainder sallied
forth, cut their way through the revolters, and reached Irois in safety.

In the vicinity of St. Marc, Colonel Brisbane, who commanded there, had
much to do in keeping the insurgents in check, who had at this time
become exceedingly bold in their movements, and seemed determined on
the most vigorous operations, both offensive and defensive. The colonel
with a few British and some colonial troops, obtained advantages over
them in several skirmishes in the plains of the Artibanite; but whilst
he was engaged there the mulatto inhabitants of St. Marc, who had
pledged themselves most solemnly to observe the strictest neutrality,
violated their pledge, and in the most cowardly manner put to death
all whom they found actively engaged against the French republic.
The garrison defended themselves in the fort, from whence they were
relieved in a short time by a vessel of war from Cape Nicolas Mole.
The white inhabitants also of St. Marc, many of whom were the most
forward to hail the arrival of the British and to place themselves
under British protection, engaged in a plot for the destruction of
Colonel Brisbane, but that officer, ever on the alert, discovered and
successfully defeated their designs.

At Port au Prince a similar conspiracy was brought to light, the object
of which was the destruction of the garrison and all the English
people by those very French inhabitants who joined in hailing with
acclamations the arrival of the British force before the city. Such
abominable treachery did not go without its commensurate punishment;
the conspirators were seized, and about twenty of the principal ones,
amongst whom were several French officers of rank, were condemned by
the sentence of a court-martial. Of these conspirators fifteen were
shot on the 18th of February, 1795, and the remainder were sent off the
island.

General Williamson, who had been previously appointed
commander-in-chief in the West Indies, arrived in the island in May,
and immediately proceeded to place every station in the best state
of defence that his very limited means would allow. He endeavoured
to strengthen the whole line of posts from St. Marc to Jeremie, and
not having a force sufficient to enable him to secure all points by a
strong cordon of British and colonial troops, he resorted to a measure
which, although at the moment it might have been one of expediency,
was not likely to be advantageous in the end. To augment his force
he formed several corps of negroes, whom he purchased of the French
planters, and placed them under the command of officers of the line;
but their inefficiency was soon discovered, and they became not only
a very unserviceable, but also a very ungovernable body. General
Williamson retained the command but a very short time; his successor,
General Forbes, completed the arrangements of his predecessor, and
remained entirely on the defensive.

In the autumn of this year, 1795, intelligence had been received that
the war between France and Spain had terminated, and that the Spanish
part of the island had been ceded to the French republic in perpetuity.
It was stipulated, however, that so many of the inhabitants as should
feel disposed to depart from the island to reside in the dominions of
the King of Spain, should be permitted to remove or dispose of their
property, and that the space of one year should be granted to them for
that purpose.

About the end of this year the termination of the operations in
Flanders having placed troops at the disposal of the British
government, Brigadier-General Howe arrived with about seven thousand
men at Cape Nicolas Mole. From the extent of this force a great deal
might have been accomplished had they arrived at an earlier stage of
the proceedings in the island, but the subjugation of the colony had
now become extremely difficult, if not altogether impracticable. They
attempted but little, and becoming languid and spiritless from sickness
and disease, whilst the enemy were increasing in numbers, as well as in
vigour and activity, the little that was undertaken proved unsuccessful.

It was not until the month of March, 1797, that any active operations
were recommenced; when General Simcoe landed to take the command, an
officer who had been selected by his government for the important
trust, from his known talents and tried experience. He began his
arduous undertaking by examining the whole line of defence, and lost
no time in making every judicious arrangement for resuming offensive
operations. It was also about the same time that the negro Toussaint
L’Ouverture appeared invested by the republican government of France
with the high rank of General-in-Chief of the Armies of St. Domingo.
To this very extraordinary personage the British general was destined
first to be opposed; and from the system of insurrectional warfare
which had been pursued, the general found he had to combat with an
antagonist of no ordinary capacity and courage. Wary and exceedingly
cautious, well acquainted with the strength of the British force and
the experience of their commanders, Toussaint made no effort beyond
that of menacing the position of Mirebalais, before which he appeared
with an almost overwhelming force. The British force at that point
not being sufficient to oppose his progress, retired thence through
the plains of Cul de Sac into Port au Prince, abandoning the whole of
the country through which they retreated, and from which, from its
fertility, the enemy were enabled to obtain abundance of provisions.
By this movement also all communication with the Spanish part of the
island was cut off.

To the southward, however, the operations were more favourable to
the British. The negroes were driven from every post which they had
occupied in the neighbourhood of Port au Prince, and Rigaud at the
head of his mulatto force was defeated at Irois. Nearly at the same
time Toussaint attacked St. Marc’s, but was obliged to retire with
considerable loss, leaving a great many of his followers prisoners.

Notwithstanding these partial successes the British cause in the
island seemed on the wane, and their force diminishing from a variety
of concurrent circumstances, no attempt was afterwards made to
advance against the enemy; but measures were adopted to guard against
any surprise or any attack which their opponents contemplated upon
those positions, in the line of defence, which were considered to be
vulnerable. In the interim, and during the existence of this irregular
warfare, General Simcoe, finding that in the present condition of
his forces nothing could be undertaken with the least probability of
success, and that to remain within his line of defence was imperative,
left the island about the month of August, when the command devolved on
Major-General Whyte. Finally, however, the Honourable Brigadier-General
Maitland succeeded, to whom was left the important duty of making the
most beneficial arrangements for evacuating the island, which his
situation could command. And when it is considered that that gallant
officer (who did not arrive until April, 1798,) took the command of
the British forces under circumstances of extreme difficulty and
discomfiture, at the moment of disasters and distress, the termination
of the contest, the subsequent truce and negotiations with Toussaint,
although making some concession, were called for by considerations of
overwhelming expediency. These negotiations gave up the whole of the
British possessions, and their colonial black troops (for whom a very
large sum of money was paid to the very persons who afterwards took
arms against them) to the black general, Toussaint, in the name of the
French republic, and thus ended an enterprise from which no advantage
resulted either to the ex-colonists or to the interests of Great
Britain.

It is not my province to enter into a discussion of the merits of the
enterprise into which Great Britain had been led, nor shall I venture
to censure the undertaking on the one hand, or to applaud it on the
other. It was commenced unquestionably at an unfavourable period, when
the government of England had to contend, not only against the gigantic
power of the French republic in Europe, but against the revolutionary
spirit which had manifested itself at that time in England. Involved,
therefore, as she was at the time of the emigration of the French
agents from St. Domingo in disputes abroad and in domestic feuds at
home, it is not surprising that those efforts were not made which the
planters had anticipated, and which they were led to expect from the
pledges which had been given to M. Charmilly, who had been the organ
of those planters, and who, it is to be feared, was too sanguine in
his representations of the unanimity which prevailed amongst them. I
should be disposed to think favourably of the conduct of M. Charmilly
had I not received the most unquestionable information, that his
communications were much too highly coloured, and that his zeal for
the cause of his colony somewhat exceeded that which ought to have
been evinced by a discreet and prudent negotiator. The British general
was without doubt deceived as to the strength of the revolters and as
to the disposition of the planters; and the unanimity said to have
existed amongst them, was most manifestly negatived by subsequent
events, in which intrigue and treachery superseded fidelity and
honour. M. Charmilly, however, in the opinions of many, may not
have subjected himself to censure by his conduct; he may have been
actuated by the best of motives, and have thought, at the time, that
by exhibiting a favourable side of the picture the impression would
be likely to succeed; but the best informed persons, with whom I have
had opportunities of conversing on the subject, have given it as their
unbiassed sentiment, that had not the disposition of the colony been
too favourably represented, the British cabinet would either never have
entered into the contest, or have undertaken it with their accustomed
promptitude and known vigour; they would never have left any thing to
chance, nor have depended so much upon extensive cooperation.

However much inclined Great Britain might have been to seize a
favourable moment for dismembering republican France of her colonial
possessions, yet I think she would have paused before she commenced any
offensive operations against St. Domingo in its then insurrectional
state, had she not been led by the most specious arguments to believe
that the object was attainable without any great efforts; for although
the slaves were in open rebellion, still they, as well as the
mulattoes, were divided against themselves, and that an interposing
power would inevitably turn the scale, and eventually succeed in
restoring tranquillity, and finally the conquest of the whole colony.
That the cabinet of England had been influenced by the accounts laid
before it of the state of St. Domingo, needs no further argument than
this, that the force sent was quite inadequate for the accomplishment
of the object, which certainly would not have happened, had the descent
upon that island received that deliberation which was usually given to
similar operations in the time of war.

Before I proceed any further in my remarks, it may not be irrelevant
to shew who were the parties engaged in this civil warfare and general
havoc in the colony, for I find only one or two who have written before
me who have been sufficiently clear and explicit on this point; and
it is probable that I may not be quite so explanatory as the subject
requires, but I shall, I trust, succeed in dissipating some of the
cloud in which the whole seems to have been enveloped.

At the commencement of the revolution in the colony, the party that
first appeared was composed of those white inhabitants who were tainted
with republicanism, those of the mulattoes or gens de couleur of
property who imbibed the same principles, and others of the people of
colour, who had no stake in the country, but embraced similar opinions
respecting liberty and equality. Their opponents consisted of the
white inhabitants and persons of colour who adhered to the old form of
government. To the former party, in the course of time, were added
the revolted negroes, who had doubtless been instigated by them, and
after the promulgation of the decree declaring a general emancipation,
they were joined by the greater proportion, if not by the whole of
that class. To the latter party a few only of the mulattoes, and a
very small body of negroes, remained attached; added to which were the
British forces which, from the end of the year 1793 to the evacuation
in 1798, at different periods were landed.

To strengthen the former party, and to weaken the latter, the decrees
of the national assembly of France materially contributed, whilst
the proceedings of the general colonial and provincial assemblies,
instead of giving to the latter any support, had a contrary effect, by
inducing many of the people of colour, who had espoused it, to hoist
the national cockade, and become active members of the republican
party, thereby giving the cause of the royalists a fatal blow. It will
be perceived that most of these proceedings of the two parties in the
contest occurred before the British forces had been called in; and that
the emancipation of the slaves was simultaneous with their arrival and
an act of the French commissioners to strengthen the national cause
against the royalists and the British. Now as the agents or emigrants
of the royalist party who had gone to England, and as the negotiations
of M. Charmilly took place at the very period when the hopes of his
party rested upon so insecure a foundation, it seems to me something
like deception was practised, and that the British government were not
correctly informed of the actual state of the cause which they were
engaging to support; and it is under this impression, an impression
founded upon the authority of persons who were actually engaged in
all the scenes of active operations which took place from the first
arrival of the British to the termination of their proceedings under
the Honourable Brigadier-General Maitland, that I venture to charge
the French planters and their party with that want of unanimity which
M. Charmilly, their accredited representative, assured the British
commander displayed itself through most parts of the colony.

If an impartial review be taken of the whole of the conduct of the
French planters during the contest in which they were embroiled, it
will become evident that no blame can be attached to the British
commanders who were successively employed. They had to contend against
a variety of conflicting opinions and unexampled sickness, and had
local difficulties to surmount of great magnitude. They evinced on all
occasions superior military judgment, undaunted courage, and unwearied
zeal, and exhibited the greatest prudence and discretion in moments of
no ordinary anxiety.

The calamitous disease which prevailed amongst the troops, was itself
almost enough to dispirit the most sanguine; and it is not to be
wondered at, that men who met death bravely in the field, should have
shrunk from its approaches when it thus appeared in all its hideous
forms amongst their comrades.

Such was the state of things in the colony at the close of the year
1798, and with which I shall conclude this chapter.



CHAPTER V.

 The period between the evacuation by the British forces and the
 arrival of the French army under Le Clerc.—Cultivation.—Law to
 enforce it.—Character of Toussaint.—Reverses.—His arrangement with
 the French general.—His seizure and removal to France.


THE evacuation of the colony by the British troops having taken place,
most of the planters who had been faithful to their engagements
departed at the same time, taking with them such moveable property as
they were enabled to carry away: many proceeded to Jamaica, and others
to Cuba and the United States. Toussaint L’Ouverture was thus left in
full possession of the island, and in the undisturbed enjoyment of
the chief command, with which he had been invested some time before
by the French republic. The adherents to the British, except such as
had previously left the island under the protection of the English
squadron, having joined the national standard, every thing seemed to
have the appearance of tranquillity. Peace succeeded the din of arms
and the asperities of civil war.

Having, therefore, completely subjugated the party who had been opposed
to him, Toussaint commenced his work of improvement in the whole
department of his government. Free from the toils of the complicated
warfare in which he had been engaged, his first care and attention
were turned to the culture of the soil, in which in a short period he
made the most rapid and astonishing progress: strongly impressed with
the conviction that “agriculture is the main spring, the master sinew
of every great state, the perennial fountain of wealth”, he began to
enforce a rigid attention to all its branches, and by every possible
means to place it in that highly productive condition in which it stood
previously to the revolution. Many of the planters who had joined his
standard were reinvested with their estates, but without any property
in the slaves, and they were encouraged by him to persevere in the
cultivation of their lands, assured of his protection and of the
early adoption of such regulations as should enable them to procure
cultivators. He seems to have possessed a very correct idea of the
true source from whence national wealth was obtained, and he left no
measures untried that would in the least promote its increase. He had
heard, and appeared firmly to believe “that rural or agricultural
labours are equally conducive to health and strength of body and mind.
The culture of the earth constitutes the most natural and innocent
employment of man; it fills our houses with plenty and our hearts with
gladness.” He never allowed an opportunity to escape him of shewing
how indelibly this maxim was imprinted on his mind. It may, however,
be well imagined, that after five or six years’ relaxation from the
labours of the field, those who had been accustomed to it in a state
of slavery, were not at all disposed to return of their own accord to
their original occupations; and as he well knew that his negro brethren
could not be easily induced to labour, and that some degree of coercion
would be requisite to enforce it, he began to issue strict injunctions,
that every one not employed in any military capacity should labour in
the cultivation of the lands held not only by the government, but by
such of the planters as had been restored to their estates.

The planters were compelled to receive them on their plantations
in the capacity of servants, and the cultivators were ordered by
the government to make choice of their employers under whom they
were destined to work for their sustenance, and were not on any
consideration permitted to leave the properties on which they in the
first instance agreed to labour, unless their services were required in
the army. The government had fixed a remuneration for the cultivators
equal to one-third of the crops, but there were many who made other
arrangements more suitable to the views of parties, and by which,
also, each was accommodated. Such a law as this, and enforced so
immediately after the cessation of civil war, when the minds of the
negroes were scarcely cool, was a strong illustration of the power
which Toussaint held over them, and of his conviction, that nothing
could be accomplished in the advancement of agriculture unless he at
once adopted powerful and rigid measures. He therefore enacted laws and
regulations to encourage and excite industry, while he denounced very
heavy penalties against idleness and vagrancy.

This celebrated edict for the enforcing of the culture of the soil
appeared in the year 1800, and it subsequently formed a leading part
of the Code Henry of Christophe. It embraces every object that could
possibly be conceived likely to promote his great aim; and whilst its
enactments might have the appearance of severity, unpalatable to the
people just emerged from slavery, so great was his influence that he
felt no alarm for the consequences of enforcing them; and those who had
the temerity to infringe them were visited with the whole weight of the
penalties.

This law apportions the hours of labour for the cultivator, which
by the 22d article appears in every point the same as that which is
exacted from the slave in the British islands, that is to say, it
commences at the break of day and concludes at night, allowing an
interval of an hour for breakfast, and another of two hours at noon,
or thereabouts. It provides against any innovations, and precludes
the labourer or the proprietor from the chance of imposing on each
other. I see nothing ambiguous in it, it is clear in the letter, and
the spirit of it cannot be erroneously interpreted. From the 113th
to the 120th article inclusive, it appears beyond the possibility of
contradiction, that Toussaint was conscious that nothing could be done
in the work of the soil without such forcible regulations as would
command the most strict attention to tillage.

It is quite clear that the labour which this law exacted each day from
the cultivator was not oppressive, nor have I been able to discover
that the slaves in the British colonial possessions ever complained of
the labour to which they were subjected, as having been too severe;
and it is undeniable that Toussaint, under the very law which has been
cited, compelled the same portion to be done, and that for the better
insuring its performance, military guards were placed to superintend
the labourers and to seize those who endeavoured to evade their duty.
That they could not have been injured by labour, and that they did not
murmur at its quantum is tolerably clear, for it is said by a writer of
some repute, that “the plantation negroes were in general contented,
healthful, and happy”; and that this was their condition I am assured
by the concurring testimony of men who had witnessed their state at
that period. Is it not the case also in the British colonies? Are not
the slaves on the plantations in the time of crop, when the labour is
perhaps heavier than at any other period, “contented, healthful, and
happy”? Most unquestionably they are; I never saw them otherwise than
“contented and happy”, except at the moment when some insidious and
intriguing person was attempting to estrange them, and to impress them
with the idea that they were degraded and debased.

If degradation accompanied labour, the cultivators under Toussaint
were the most abject people in existence, for they were driven to it
under the strong arm of military power, and for any offence which they
committed they were liable to be brought before a military tribunal.
There were no civil authorities by which the indolent or refractory
cultivator was to be tried for his offences; there was no distinction
between the vagrant who was detected in idleness and the soldier who
fled from his post, they were both amenable to the military power, were
sentenced by a court-martial, and awarded an equal punishment.

Possessed of no mean capacity and judgment, he knew the character
and the dispositions of his negro brethren, and so nicely did he
discern and reward industry, and discriminate between the active and
meritorious and the indolent and the worthless, that, although in
some cases his judgment was harsh, it was admitted to be just. His
plans were allowed to have been devised with great skill, and his
regulations produced the happiest results, which soon became manifest
throughout the whole colony. His agricultural improvements excited
the astonishment and surprise of his greatest enemies, for in a short
period after he commenced his system, the most beneficial results
became visible; and notwithstanding the protracted warfare in which
he had been engaged, and the devastation caused by it, he produced a
crop equal to one-third of the quantity of the best year of the French
planters.

He was extremely attentive to the state of the population, which
he was anxious to increase by every possible means. He held out to
those who had emigrated during the contest, every encouragement to
return, pledging himself to reinstate them in their properties, and
assuring them that their agricultural avocations should receive all
the support which it was possible for him to afford. This had a very
happy effect, and many returned and brought with them the slaves who
had accompanied them in their flight, but who of course became free on
their landing. He also endeavoured to impress the people with a sense
of their improper conduct when they addicted themselves to sensuality
and voluptuousness, and made great efforts to prevent its extension, by
recommending marriage throughout his country: he was aware of the evil
effects of the system of polygamy which prevailed amongst his brethren,
and knew that it was a severe check on the increase of population, for
he had discovered innumerable instances in which the offsprings were
but few, where concubinage was so unlimited; and after a short time, it
became evident that an increased population resulted from his salutary
regulations.

With regard to the general character of this extraordinary man I have
but little to say in addition to what has been already recorded of him.
I am however inclined to believe that his biographers speak of him with
too much warmth, and would have it believed that he was almost without
a fault. Whatever may be the prevailing opinion, he has left indelible
marks behind him which prove that he was revengeful and sanguinary
in the field; and the atrocities and cruelties which he exercised
over those mulattoes who fell into his hands, are demonstrative of no
little ferocity of disposition. It has been argued in exculpation,
that surrounded as he was with people of that class who adhered to his
cause, and who, he expected, might revolt and join the standard of his
enemies, it was a matter of absolute expediency, that he should resort
to the severest measures to deter them from deserting his standard,
or from engaging in any enterprise inimical to his cause. But in all
his actions he seemed to be actuated by a determination to exact the
most rigid acquiescence in his will and a complete acknowledgment of
his supreme power, and to establish which, true it is, he had at times
recourse to very harsh and cruel measures, which, although effectual
for a time, nevertheless proved injurious to the peace and security of
his government afterwards.

Rainsford, who is no mean authority, for he had personal knowledge
of Toussaint, says, that he was a man without those unrelenting
feelings which others ascribe to him; but this opinion may proceed
from gratitude on the part of that officer, who was set at liberty
by Toussaint after having been in prison for a considerable period,
and in momentary expectation of the forfeiture of his life. Speaking
of him in his general character, and of his actions in the field, he
says: “Thus proceeded this illustrious man, like the simple acorn,
first promiscuously scattered by the winds, in its slow but beauteous
progress to the gigantic oak, spreading its foliage with august
grandeur above the minor growth of the forest, defending the humble
shrub, and braving the fury of the contending elements.” And again,
as if the author would wish to find a cover for the many massacres
which Toussaint had sanctioned and indulged in, he says: “When the
cloud, charged with electric fluid, becomes too ponderous, it selects
not the brooding murderer on the barren heath, but bursts perhaps
indiscriminately in wasteful vengeance over the innocent flocks
reposing in verdant fields. He was, without doubt, a man possessed of
many virtues, and performed many very good and very generous acts,
and, what must be admitted to have redounded greatly to his reputation,
he was always grateful, and never left an obligation unrequited. To
those planters whom he induced to return to the island, and whom he
restored to their properties, he was generous, kind, and indulgent;
and of the confidence which they placed in his assurances, they had
never cause to repent. Taking him altogether, he was undoubtedly a most
extraordinary character, and whatever might have been the extent of
his vices, they were certainly counter-balanced and atoned for by many
virtues.”

It is said of him by another writer, who seems to have been conversant
with all his private and public acts, that “the excellences of his
character unfolded themselves more and more, as opportunities were
afforded for their developement. The same humanity and benevolence
which had adorned his humble life, continued to distinguish him in
his elevation. He never imitated the conduct of other leaders, in
flattering the multitude, encouraging them in crimes, or urging them
to revenge and slaughter; on the contrary, mercy, industry, and order
were always inculcated by his counsels, recommended by his example,
and enforced by his authority. The fertility of his inventions, the
correctness of his judgments, the celerity of his movements, the extent
of his labours in the combined and multifarious business of war and
government astonished both friends and foes.”[4] And in another place
it is observed of him: “If there was one trait in his character more
conspicuous than the rest, it was his unsullied integrity. That he
never broke his word, was a proverbial expression common in the mouths
of the white inhabitants of the island, and of the English officers who
were employed in hostilities against him.”

Immediately after the business of the war had been completed, Toussaint
proceeded to the restoration of public worship, according to the forms
which existed prior to the revolution, and he even extended the liberty
of religious worship beyond the Roman communion, by admitting one
or two of the Methodist persuasion, who had arrived from the United
States, to the privilege of preaching in Cape François, and to whom he
gave every protection.

His military establishment was on a scale of some extent during
the war, but was much reduced at the peace. The discipline of his
troops did him great credit, and excited considerable surprise in the
British officers; their movements were effected with great precision,
and although they were not after the manner of European evolutions,
yet they were well adapted for that species of irregular warfare in
which they were engaged. The men were under tolerable command, and
no symptoms of insubordination were known to have shewn themselves;
they seemed to be aware of the consequences that would ensue to their
cause if order and submission were not rigidly exacted, and they were
therefore taught to obey their officers as a duty indispensable for
their security.

The country generally was so intersected and varied with underwood
and mountains of difficult ascent, that more reliance was placed on
the movements of irregular bodies detached in small parties, than on
any thing that could be accomplished by the more steady operations of
heavy masses. Such being the mode of warfare best calculated to meet
the obstacles presented to military operations, Toussaint sought to
drill his troops in such evolutions as would enable him effectually
to meet the exigencies with which he might have to contend. He had
them taught expertness, promptitude and dexterity, and quick and
steady firing, without any attention to those movements in column
which are so much practised in Europe. It is said of them, that “at a
whistle a whole brigade would run three or four hundred yards, then
separating, throw themselves flat on the ground, changing to their
backs or sides, keeping up a strong fire the whole of the time till
they were recalled; then they would form again in an instant with their
wonted regularity. This single manœuvre used to be executed with such
facility and precision as totally to prevent cavalry from charging
them in bushy and hilly countries.” This system is nearly similar to
the one practised by our rifle and light infantry corps in England,
and decidedly best adapted for any operations in the colonies, where
the country presents so rugged and uneven a surface. The amount of his
force has been variously stated, and I do not conceive it possible to
give a fair estimate of the whole during the time of the war: his peace
establishment consisted of about forty thousand foot and two thousand
cavalry, all of which were well equipped, and at all times in readiness
for active service.

In the organization of his government, and in the framing of his
constitution and laws, Toussaint was assisted by some able men from
America and Europe. He never allowed any prejudices against white
persons to influence him, when their services were required, nor did
he permit any of the superior officers of his government to shew any
disrespect towards them, but he exacted the most courtly attention to
them as the most likely means to secure the aid of men of learning,
whatever may have been their country or their calling. It was by
this that he induced the able Molière and M. Marinit, as well as
several well-informed English and Americans to reside near him; to
these he was kind and liberal, obtaining from them the greatest
assistance in the organization of his municipal governments, and in
the whole arrangement of the different departments of state, as well
as in forming regulations for the better insuring to his country a
commercial intercourse with strangers, without which all his efforts
in cultivating the soil would have been unavailing; for without a vent
for the products there would have been no stimulus for the exertions
of the grower, and one of the sources of national wealth would
consequently have been dried up. His tour through the Spanish part of
the island was attended with considerable advantage to him, for it
infused a kind of confidence into the people, by whom he was received
in every part with great respect, and often with every demonstration of
joy. This is not surprising, for the fame of his deeds and his warlike
achievements and his deportment, which is said to have been mild and
courtly, were likely to excite favourable sentiments, and to elicit a
good deal of applause. This tour was certainly one of necessity, and
not undertaken from any vain parade and ostentation; for the Spanish
part of the island, although formally ceded to France by the treaty
of 1795, had not all been occupied by the republican forces. The city
of Santo Domingo, a place of considerable strength, and surrounded
with fortifications sufficiently powerful to resist any attack that
might have been made upon it, still held out, and it was not until
the arrival of Toussaint in 1801, with a large force, that a legal
surrender of the whole Spanish division was finally accomplished.
Having succeeded in this, he left his brother Paul in command, and then
pursued his journey through the other districts, establishing posts,
appointing officers to command them, with other important military
and civil arrangements, which he deemed necessary for the purpose of
governing more easily the whole of that part of the island. Having
completed this tour, which was attended with much benefit to every part
of the island which he visited, he began to hope for some repose from
the fatigues attendant on such multifarious occupations, which might
enable him to cultivate the sweets of peace and retirement, as well
as to see all those designs fully completed, and which had for their
object, the enriching of his country and the happiness of his people.

The end of the year 1801 placed the whole island once more in some
degree of tranquillity, and in submission to the authority of the negro
chief, rapidly advancing in wealth and increasing its intercourse
with those countries which sought to establish with it the friendly
relations of commerce. But the short peace of Amiens, which took place
in October of that year, leaving the then ruler in France, Bonaparte,
without any power to contend with, his first object was the recovery of
Saint Domingo. Wanting employment for his large armies, and instigated
by the fugitive colonists who had been expelled at the commencement
of the revolution, and who were anxiously longing for their lost
possessions; thirsting also for colonies and commerce, and urged by
the speculators in France, he determined on subjugating the island
by force, reestablishing slavery, and reinstating the ex-colonists in
their original properties. To accomplish these objects by force rather
than by negotiation, was more congenial to the temper and martial
spirit of the French ruler. He therefore began to make extensive
preparations for an undertaking, which he vainly thought could not fail
ultimately to gain new laurels for his troops, and exalt himself more
than ever in the estimation of the people of France, who were always
forward to reward him for any successes which accompanied his efforts,
with no ordinary demonstrations of joy.

This expedition consisted of twenty-six sail of the line, on board of
which were embarked 25,000 men, under the command of the brother-in-law
of Bonaparte, General Le Clerc, seconded by some of the ablest generals
of France, and many other officers of distinction who were conversant
with the island, and who formerly held properties in it. Not, however,
relying entirely on what such a force might be able to execute, the
First Consul had recourse to a measure which he concluded would insure
the neutrality of Toussaint, if it did not induce him to lend him an
active cooperation. Two of the sons of the negro chief had been sent
to France for their education, for the purpose of giving them the
opportunity of following a course of studies, which might prepare them
to fill, with advantage to their country, those important posts for
which they seemed destined. Taken from their preceptor by orders of
the First Consul, they were hurried on board the fleet, to be made as
it were to intercede with their father, and, if possible, to prevail
on him to accede to such proposals as the commander-in-chief of the
expedition was empowered to offer; and, in fact, they were placed as
hostages in the hands of the French commanders, and thus made amenable
for any hostile steps which their father might be disposed to take.

The expedition arrived in the bay of Sumana, in the eastern extremity
of the island, on the 25th of January, 1802, when, without the least
delay, General Le Clerc distributed his force into three divisions,
which were to make simultaneous attacks on three distinct parts of the
colony. One division was directed to disembark and take possession
of the city of Santo Domingo, and was commanded by General Kerseran;
another, under General Boudet, was sent to Port au Prince; whilst the
commander-in-chief proceeded with the remainder of the troops to the
south side, when a part was landed at Mansenillo Bay, under General
Rochambeau; and the principal body with Le Clerc, and his personal
staff intended to disembark at Cape François, for the purpose of
gaining possession of that city.

Toussaint had been apprised of the intentions of the French government
to send out a force to Saint Domingo, but of its extent, its nature,
and its ulterior designs, he had no knowledge. He merely conjectured,
that it had no hostile object, and that it was just such a force as
might have been expected would be sent by the parent state, for the
better insuring the peace and obedience of the colony. That such
was his impression I think there is great reason to believe, for he
issued his orders to all his generals at their respective posts,
commanding them to receive the French troops without suspicion; and
his proclamation called upon the people to admit them as friends.
Others again seem to infer that he not only knew that the designs of
the consular cabinet were inimical to the existing order of things in
the colony, but that he knew the extent of the means which were to be
employed in their execution. If this latter were the fact, then that
caution, vigilance, and activity which had marked his former career,
had entirely forsaken him, for it is evident he made no preparations
for the reception of a force entertaining hostile intentions.

I shall not go through the whole detail of the landing of this armament
at the different points selected for that purpose, but I shall offer a
short sketch of the general operations which followed.

Whatever might have been the instructions given by the First Consul
to Le Clerc, the latter did not appear the least disposed to try
the effect of negotiation before he displayed some intentions of
hostility, for General Rochambeau, who landed in the neighbourhood
of Fort Dauphin, formed his troops on the beach, and the negroes,
who had been led by the proclamation of their governor-general to
believe that they had landed as friends, ran in crowds to witness the
disembarkation, and with the most friendly demonstrations welcomed
their arrival. But Rochambeau, most dastardly and inhumanly, without
the slightest intimation of what was to follow, charged them at the
point of the bayonet, when a great many were slaughtered, and the
rest with difficulty fled to places of protection, leaving the fort
in possession of the French. This took place on the 2d of February,
two days before the arrival of the commander-in-chief in the harbour
of Cape François, and as the account of it soon reached the city,
General Christophe, who commanded there, was enabled to prepare for its
defence, and at once discovered, that instead of coming as friends,
this force had arrived for the purpose of subjugation.

By this premature commencement at Fort Dauphin, Le Clerc was foiled
in his design of taking the black general by surprise, or in playing
off any of those stratagems and intrigues so characteristic of a
Frenchman. From the intelligence which he had received of the movements
of Rochambeau, Christophe was instantly on the qui vive. Wary and
watchful, he disposed of his men judiciously, strengthening the most
vulnerable points, and encouraging his troops to meet every attack with
courage and fortitude, setting to them an example of confidence in
their own power, which animated them to the most surprising efforts. He
also intimated to the inhabitants of the city, that their lives would
be inevitably held as a security for the hostile proceedings of the
French armament, and that he would never surrender the place so long as
a single habitation remained standing. This threat of the negro general
produced the most appalling sensations, because they were aware of the
intentions of the French being hostile, and they were also sensible,
that there would be no abatement of the dreadful denunciation of the
black commander. To avert the dreadful alternative, a select body of
the inhabitants, headed by the municipal authorities, were deputed to
wait upon the French commander-in-chief, and to implore him to desist
from hostile operations, until such time as their safety could be
provided for, as it was the determination of Christophe to sacrifice
them, and to destroy the city, should any attack proceed from the
French force. Le Clerc gave them no assurances that he would desist
from offensive measures; he received them, however, courteously, and
advised them to return to the city, and take with them the proclamation
which he was about to issue, and give it every publicity in their
power. He also told them in the most specious way, that the object
of his force was not the restoration of slavery, but the preservation
of the colony in obedience to the consular government of France,
without in any way interfering with or infringing upon the rights
of the people, as now admitted; but rather to fix those rights on a
more permanent basis, and to secure them against innovation. To such
flattering communications the deputation listened with easy credulity,
and returned to the city buoyed up with the delusive hope that their
lives and properties would be protected, and that the lamentable
catastrophe resulting from retaliatory measures would be effectually
averted.

The proclamation of Bonaparte, couched in his usual ambiguous style,
was intended no doubt to deceive the negro population by confirming
their rights to be free and equal, whilst at the same time the
real object of the expedition was the restoration of slavery, and
the restitution of the colony to its condition previously to the
revolution. Having pledged however his faith to the negroes, that they
should enjoy that freedom which had been conferred upon them, they were
at the same time told, that in the event of their rejection of the
terms which the commander-in-chief was empowered to offer, violence
would be resorted to, and the pledge withdrawn. It may not be improper
to insert a translation of this proclamation, which will thus speak for
itself.—

 “INHABITANTS OF SAINT DOMINGO!

 “Whatever your origin or your colour, you are all French; you are all
 free, and all equal before God, and before the republic.

 “France, like St. Domingo, has been a prey to factions, torn by civil
 commotions and by foreign wars. But all has changed, all nations have
 embraced the French, and have sworn to them peace and amity; the
 French people too, have embraced each other, and have sworn to be all
 friends and brothers. Come also, embrace the French, and rejoice to
 see again your friends and brothers of Europe.

 “The government sends you Captain-General Le Clerc; he brings with him
 numerous forces for protecting you against your enemies, and against
 the enemies of the republic. If it be said to you, these forces are
 destined to ravish from you your liberty, answer, the republic will
 not suffer it to be taken from us.

 “Rally round the Captain-General; he brings you peace and plenty.
 Rally all of you around him. Whoever shall dare to separate himself
 from the Captain-General will be a traitor to his country, and the
 indignation of the republic will devour him, as the fire devours your
 dried canes.

  “Done at Paris, &c.

  “(Signed) The First Consul, BONAPARTE.

  “The Secretary of State, H. B. MARET.”

Such a document as the preceding, promulgated too at a moment when an
extraordinary panic had arisen from the extent of the French force,
about to commence its operations simultaneously from several points,
was not likely to pass without making a very deep impression on those
whose minds were vacillating and unfixed, and who had refrained from
declaring themselves until they were informed as to the views of the
French government with regard to the future administration of the
colony, in the event of their being successful. This proclamation was
received by the wavering among the negro population as one of great
sincerity, assuring them that they had nothing to apprehend about
their being again destined for slavery. Many therefore embraced the
offers which it held out, and joined the standard of the invaders, and
Le Clerc, anticipating further submissions before Toussaint arrived,
determined on the commencement of active measures so soon as he should
be informed that Rochambeau, having effected a successful landing,
was advancing upon the city. He did not however land his forces till
he had tried the effect of an epistolary communication with General
Christophe, the commander at the Cape, in which in the true Gascon
style of invective and threat, Le Clerc informs that individual, that
unless he immediately accedes to the landing of his forces, he will
“hold him (Christophe) responsible for what may happen.”

Christophe was not to be entrapped. Firm, inflexible, and determined in
his conduct, he returned an answer to the French commander couched in
language which could bear but one interpretation, that he would make
every possible resistance to the French arms, and that they should not
enter “Cape Town until it was reduced to ashes.” “Nay,” says he, “even
in the ruins I will renew the combat.” Again he says, “How can you hold
me responsible for the event? you are not my chief. I know you not;
and can therefore take no account of you, till you are acknowledged by
Governor Toussaint.”

Immediately after this correspondence had taken place, Le Clerc
made preparations for landing, which he effected promptly in the
neighbourhood of Da Limbe and the Bay of Acul, no great distance to
the westward of the city. Le Clerc’s object seems to have been to
gain the heights round the Cape, before the negroes could effectually
carry their threat of devastation by fire and sword into execution.
These movements were anticipated by the negro general, who therefore
prepared to intercept them. Knowing that the white inhabitants were
wavering and faithless, and that he could not confide in them were he
to permit their neutrality, and being fully aware that many mulattoes,
and even negroes, were secretly inclined towards the French, he without
hesitation commenced the work of conflagration, which he had previously
given them to understand would be done the moment the French set their
foot on shore in an hostile manner. The order being given, was obeyed
with alacrity, and both Le Clerc and Admiral Villaret, when they came
within sight of the city saw the devastation which was likely to ensue.
The French commanders made great efforts to save the town, and the
crews of the ships were landed for that purpose, but they were only
able to save a few buildings from the destructive element.

The part of Christophe’s threat most dreaded was the massacre of the
inhabitants of the city, but to his credit be it said, he did not put
it in execution. True no doubt it is that he carried off a great many
whom he intended to hold as hostages for the conduct of the French; but
it is not recorded that he treated them with any barbarity, or that
he executed any of them. After this the negro general retreated with
his forces, and took up a strong position until he was joined by the
Governor-General Toussaint.

Having arrived a short time after the fall of the Cape, and having
previously issued orders to all his subordinate generals to prepare for
the most active defence against the French arms, Toussaint personally
inspected every post, and minutely surveyed every position in which it
was practicable to make a successful stand against his opponents.

It was at this time, and whilst he was at his seat at Ennery, about
thirty miles from the Cape, that his two sons were presented to him
to try how far another attempt at fraud, sophistry, and hypocrisy
might succeed. I shall not attempt to go through the whole detail
of the scenes which took place between the wily tutor Coisnon, the
affectionate children, the fond father, and the tender mother; let it
suffice, however, to state that they failed of their wonted success,
for Toussaint was inflexible. I cannot resist the temptation of quoting
a passage from a writer, who describes the tender interview which took
place between them. “The two sons ran to meet their father, and he with
emotions too big for utterance, clasped them silently in his arms.
Few it is to be hoped are the partakers of our common nature, who, on
witnessing the embraces and tears of parental and filial sensibility,
could have proceeded at least without powerful relentings of heart, to
execute the commission with which Coisnon was charged.”

But this cold-blooded emissary of France beheld the scene with a
barbarous apathy, worthy of the cause in which he was employed. When
the first burst of paternal feeling was over, Toussaint stretched out
his arms to him, whom he regarded with complacency as the tutor of
his children, and their conductor to the roof and embraces of their
parents. This was the moment which Coisnon thought most favourable to
the perpetration of his treacherous design. “The father and the two
sons”, says he, “threw themselves into each other’s arms. I saw them
shed tears, and wishing to take advantage of a period which I conceived
to be favourable, I stopped him at the moment when he stretched out his
arms to me.”

The crafty and unfeeling Coisnon thought that the most favourable
moment had arrived for opening the business of his mission, and without
delay entered upon it by addressing the chief, and imploring him to
reflect upon the consequences that would inevitably result from any
hostile measures against the power of Bonaparte, as any resistance to
so powerful a force, composed of troops that had always been elated
with victory, must prove unavailing. On the other hand, he pledged the
sincerity with which his master was actuated, spoke of the admiration
which Toussaint’s conduct had excited, and of the distinguished valour
and judgment which he had displayed in the multifarious operations of
the war. He also held out to him the most attractive, yet delusive,
promises of what would ensue from his joining the French standard, and
the vengeance that would doubtless accompany any act of hostility;
and, finally, he handed to the negro chief the letter, of which he was
the bearer, written by Bonaparte in his own hand, and teeming with
expressions which might have moved the resolution of more determined
men than Toussaint. But that cautious, unbending, and inflexible
man was on his guard against the snare that was laid to entrap him,
and the cunning tutor was necessitated to try the effect of a more
powerful agency, the intercession of his children and the entreaties
of his wife. Bonaparte, in his letter to the chief, tries what effect
an allusion to the former will have. “We have made known to your
children, and to their preceptor,” he says, “the sentiments by which
we are animated. We send them back to you. Assist with your counsel,
your influence, and your talents, the captain-general. What can you
desire? The freedom of the blacks? You know that in all the countries
we have been in, we have given it to the people who had it not. Do you
desire consideration, honours, fortune? It is not after the services
you have rendered, the services you can still render, _and with the
personal estimation we have for you, that you ought to be doubtful with
respect to your consideration, your fortune, and the honours that await
you_.” Such an appeal might have had some influence and power over
a vain man, and the feelings of the father might have been softened
when the eloquence of the preceptor pleaded in behalf of the children,
whose lives would be the forfeit of the non-compliance of the parent.
But this would not do, nor would the subsequent artless appeal of the
tutored children, aided by the faithful mother, from whose tears the
savage Coisnon prematurely looked for success. All were unavailing, and
Toussaint, after having composed himself, and assumed an appearance of
ease and confidence, took the preceptor by the hand; then directing
the others to retire, he said to him, with a stern and dignified
manner, “Take back my children, since it must be so. I will be faithful
to my brethren and my God.”

Notwithstanding the failure of Coisnon’s mission, a truce was agreed
upon for a few days, for the purpose of carrying on a correspondence
between Le Clerc and Toussaint, to try if the horrors of war might not
be averted by mutual concessions. Le Clerc anticipated a favourable
result, but Toussaint’s reply contained no augury of his submission to
the will of the chief consul. The truce, therefore, being at an end,
each of the chiefs prepared for active operations, and Toussaint and
Christophe were declared to be enemies of the French republic, and all
persons were called upon to seize them.

Every art and every stratagem was now devised by Le Clerc, which might
entice over the negroes to his cause; and he therefore first held out
assurances to their officers of rank and preferment in the French army,
and to the negroes themselves he gave the most solemn promise that
their freedom should be respected and preserved inviolate. Another
circumstance also, which very materially contributed to the successes
which Le Clerc gained, was, that the cultivators throughout the colony
had had enough of war, and had determined to remain neutral in the
pending struggle, so long as their properties were insured to them,
and their remaining inactive was permitted. Consequently, Le Clerc
having nothing to apprehend from them, was at liberty to turn the whole
of his attention against the organized forces of the negro chiefs;
and, to oppose these, required no little skill and manœuvre, from the
great obstacles which the face of the country presented to European
forces, inured only to a systematic mode of fighting, whilst the negro
soldiers were thoroughly instructed in skirmishing, bush fighting, and
every other irregular mode of warfare. For such operations as these,
they were in the highest possible order, both as to discipline and
equipments. They knew well how to manage their artillery, were quick
in firing, and no bad marksmen. All their movements were effected
with amazing rapidity, and from one point of communication to another
they flew with the greatest celerity. The French seemed astonished
at the quickness with which they performed their movements, and at
times when they thought victory certain, found themselves unexpectedly
opposed to a body, who made the most desperate attack upon them, and
forced them to retire completely discomfited. They also had another
advantage over the European troops; neither the scorching heat of the
sun, nor the pernicious influence of the night air, had any injurious
effects upon them, whilst the French were suffering severely from the
evil consequences of both. Although one day they might have sustained
a defeat, still, on the next, the negro soldiers appeared in force
before their enemy, prepared to renew the combat. Not so with the
French; for the severity of the duties of the field was insupportable,
and on many occasions, when they had gained advantages, their fatigue
was so great that they were unable to follow them up, and thereby throw
their opponents into disorder and confusion.

The principal exertions of the French troops commenced in the plains
of the north, just after the truce had expired, and about the 20th of
February, by an attack on Plaisance, which place having surrendered,
the black commander and his soldiers, consisting of five hundred
infantry and cavalry, joined the French standard. Marmalade followed,
having been defended a short time by Christophe, who was at last
obliged to retreat, in consequence of the treachery of one of his
officers who had surrendered an important position on his line, and had
followed the example of the commander at Plaisance.

In the neighbourhood of Port Paix, the French troops, under Humbert,
sustained a check; and on the 20th of February the troops under General
Debelle were obliged to retire, after having sustained some loss.

The division of General Boudet having landed at Port au Prince, left
that city, and proceeded against La Croix des Bouquets, where the
celebrated Dessalines had taken up a position; but on the approach
of the French force he set fire to the place, and the next day, by a
most extraordinary and rapid movement across the mountains, appeared
before Leogane, to which place he also set fire, notwithstanding the
resistance offered by a French frigate which lay in sight, and which
had been sent thither to insure its safety. The movements of this chief
were the most surprising; one day he was found in the plains of the
Cul de Sac, acting with the most determined bravery, and committing
dreadful ravages in the face of the French army; and the next, he was
found in the plains of Leogane committing similar excesses, avoiding,
in both, coming in contact with the enemy in the open field. Bush
fighting, and setting fire to the plantations, to impede the advance of
the enemy and destroy their provisions, was his only aim, and in this
he seems to have been unusually fortunate and successful.

One of the black chiefs, La Plume, who had retreated before Generals
Desfourneaux and Hardy from the vicinity of Plaisance, surrendered,
with all his troops, to General Boudet, which compensated for the
losses which the French had sustained, and was a serious, if not a
fatal, blow to the negro cause.

On the 24th of February, General Rochambeau fell in with Toussaint,
who had under him about three thousand men, and had taken up a strong
position in the Ravine à Couleuvre. The attack was commenced by
Rochambeau, and met with great skill and courage by the negro general
and his troops, and a most sanguinary conflict ensued. The blacks
fought with the most determined bravery, and the French made the
greatest efforts to exceed them; and at last, after having lost eight
hundred of his men, who were left dead in the field, Toussaint thought
it prudent to retreat, and take up his position on the banks of La
Petite Rivière. There could not have been more military skill shewn
than was displayed by the respective commanders in this battle. The
slaughter was immense, and the loss of the French, it was conjectured,
exceeded that of the negroes; but the latter had no public journals
to announce their triumphs, whilst the former had the benefit of
gazettes and proclamations to extol their successes, and to magnify
the disasters of their opponents. It is certain that after the action
Rochambeau could not advance, and the black general was in some measure
justified in claiming the victory, as well as some merit for taking up
another position, particularly as Le Clerc was advancing to cut him off
with a large force; and which seems true enough, for he took up a line
in the vicinity of Gonaives, with his advance upon the road of St. Marc.

Whatever opinion is entertained of the result of the battle, its
consequences were certainly injurious to his cause; his retreat was
demonstrative of discomfiture, and such a feeling existed among his
troops, as well as among those of his other divisions. Under the
influence of this feeling, and the allurements of the French generals,
who held out the most engaging promises, desertions became frequent,
and in one instance the conduct of the black general Maurepas, who
commanded the district of St. Marc, and who, at the moment that Le
Clerc was engaged in making preparations to compel him to retire from
it, surrendered with his force, consisting of two thousand men, proved
quite decisive of the fate of the contest.

Declining to enter into a further detail of the operations in the
field, as they consisted chiefly of irregular warfare, and presented
nothing of importance, I shall merely make a few observations on the
conduct of the respective chiefs who commanded, and their measures to
defeat each other’s design.

I think it must be admitted to be indisputable that the greatest
success was in favour of the French, and that although some partial
advantages were gained by the blacks, yet they seemed to have no
ultimate chance of prolonging the contest. It is true that Toussaint,
Christophe, and Dessalines held strong positions, and that it would
take a considerable time to dislodge them, as well as cause a great
sacrifice of human lives. Le Clerc therefore resorted to every
device likely to gain over the black troops, and the most successful
one was, his promotion of many of those who had previously joined
him, and the practice of an unusual degree of mildness towards the
remainder, by which he so much exalted himself in the estimation of the
whole, that the negroes undertook to allure their brethren to their
standard, holding out to them advantages similar to those which they
had themselves gained. This stratagem succeeding in a very extensive
degree, he was joined by a great number of the troops of the black
chiefs, and a great many laid down their arms, so that in a short
period Toussaint was left with scarcely any adherents, except those
few planters who suspected the designs of the French, and correctly
dived into the intentions of the French general. These remained firm
to him for a time, but when one reverse was followed up by another,
and when there was not a visible chance of any further efforts being
likely to succeed, and when his retirement seemed inevitable, most of
these deserted him, and made their submission to the French commander,
leaving Toussaint to contend against a variety of difficulties, and
to surmount obstacles sufficient to have reduced the proudest and
noblest spirit to a state of the greatest despair. But even at this
trying period Toussaint’s fortitude never forsook him. He foresaw
that his enemy before long would find that they had to contend with
greater obstacles than any which his resistance could present; nor was
he mistaken; for in a short time, Le Clerc, elated by his successful
movements, began to develope the designs with which he was instructed,
and thinking that he had completely discomfited the whole of the forces
of the black generals, or, at all events, that he had so dispersed
their followers that they could not again appear before him, he set
about executing the great object of the expedition—that of restoring
the planters who had accompanied him to their hereditary estates, and
of placing the negroes once more under their control, reviving their
ancient property in them, and pledging the French government to resist
all future attempts that might be made to disturb them.

It is impossible to portray the indignation which this impolitic
and base act of Le Clerc so universally excited. The very planters
themselves, apprehensive of the consequences which so unwise and so
hasty a proceeding was likely to produce, declined to avail themselves
of an offer, the impracticability of enforcing which seemed to them to
be certain. They were convinced that no good could result from it; but
circumstances of the most painful and dangerous nature were more likely
to arise, were the general to attempt putting his plans into execution.

The poor deluded and credulous cultivators, who had been allured by the
promises of their enemy, now saw their error, and without a moment’s
delay began to consult their own safety, to devise means to evade the
orders of the French commander, and join their brethren who still
adhered to the negro general; and finally to aid in defeating such
outrageous proceedings by the most energetic and the most effectual
plan which they had the means of concerting.

Such of the negro troops, also, as had joined the French under
the perfidious pledges of the commander-in-chief, began to feel
considerable anxiety lest they should be forced to share the fate which
seemed to impend over their black brethren in general. To revolt,
however, appeared almost impossible; they were not concentrated at any
one point, but seemed to have been placed in small detached bodies,
and were so completely under the control and surveillance of the
French that desertion was difficult, and in most instances not to be
effected without detection, when they were subjected to the most cruel
punishment.

Toussaint now saw that his predictions were realized, and that the time
had arrived when the scale of success would turn in his favour, and
with that promptitude which accompanied all his resolutions and all
his plans of operations, he seized the favourable moment, and with the
most extraordinary celerity formed a junction with Christophe, when
they proceeded towards the north, calling upon the cultivators on their
way to join their cause, and to revenge the base and unprecedented
conduct of the French general. From all quarters the cultivators
flocked to their standard, and in a few days their force became
somewhat imposing; and although they were armed with such weapons
only as could have been found on the plantations, and had but a short
supply of musquetry, still they moved on by forced marches with the
most surprising rapidity, driving their enemy from one post to another,
without meeting with the least opposition, until they appeared before
Cape François, which being defended by a strong force, and covered by
the fleet in the harbour, was saved from the fate which awaited it.

Le Clerc, now shut up in the besieged city of Cape François, was
reduced to the greatest extremities, and he began to devise means
for evacuating the place, and taking up some position within the
Spanish territory; but a strong reinforcement which arrived from
France somewhat revived his hopes, although he knew further offensive
measures would not be advisable. The city too, from the number of
people within its walls, began to exhibit symptoms of a pestilential
nature, and the alarm became most distressing; inhabitants and troops
alike became martyrs to its ravages, and every thing indicated the most
wretched termination of the siege. Beginning therefore to feel the evil
consequences of his premature and precipitant as well as nefarious
conduct, he began to consult with his officers upon some plan which
might have the effect of putting a stop to the further prosecution of
the impending struggle: he saw the error he had committed, and it
was necessary that he should recover the position he held, before he
gave his ill-advised and perfidious orders for the reestablishment of
slavery. To accomplish this, the captain-general had recourse again
to cunning and delusion, and to every species of trick and artifice
which his inventive mind could suggest: but it was a work of no
ordinary difficulty to restore confidence, and impress the simple
cultivators with an idea of sincerity, after having been guilty of
the most atrocious acts of treachery and deceit. Something, however,
it was imperative to try, and the usual measure of proclamation was
immediately decided upon as likely to produce the desired effect.

This proclamation contains the old specious declaration of “Liberty
and Equality to all the inhabitants of Saint Domingo, without regard
to colour,” and the most abject apology for his conduct in the late
contest, with an assurance that his future intentions were of the most
friendly kind, and that he ardently desired to reconcile conflicting
opinions, appease internal discord, restore peace to all classes of
people, and place the colony in the most flourishing and prosperous
condition. In this proclamation a great deal was also said about a
constitution that should be acceptable to the people, the basis of
which was the old term “Liberty and Equality,” providing however, it
appears, for the acceptation of it by the French government, as a
measure of precaution.

It may easily be conjectured that such submissive expressions of
regard and solicitude for the people would be likely to accomplish
the Frenchman’s purpose, and that the negro population, in their
rude state of ignorance, would not be able to discover or penetrate
into the designs at which he aimed. That this was the case with the
proclamation of the captain-general, is most evident, for that class
of the people, on its being declared to them by the emissaries of the
French that the reestablishment of slavery was not contemplated, and
that the French government merely aimed at the sovereignty over the
island, became clamourous for arrangements, whilst the cultivators
who had encountered much fatigue and inconvenience, and who had been
deprived of those comforts which peace and repose presented, were
equally anxious for some understanding by which a further prosecution
of the war would be avoided. All classes seemed to concur in one
point, that the only object for which contention and resistance to the
French was justifiable, was the preservation of that liberty which the
representatives of the French government declared to them in 1793, and
which declaration had been confirmed by the national assembly of France.

This proclamation, issued by Le Clerc on the 25th of April, 1802,
confirming, as they conceived, their liberty, they did not consider
that there remained further cause for a continuation of the struggle,
for the question of sovereignty was not one which gave them any concern.

To the wishes of the great body of the people Toussaint reluctantly
submitted, and Dessalines gave his decided opinion that no negotiations
should be entered into, except for the purpose of receiving a proposal
for the evacuation of the colony by the French forces. Both these
chiefs doubted the sincerity of the French general, and believed that
his propositions were only intended to cover more vigorous efforts to
crush them hereafter. In the mean time Christophe found it prudent,
from some symptoms of defection among his troops, to open a negotiation
with Le Clerc, and officers were appointed for that purpose, when the
former demanded a general amnesty and preservation of his own rank
and property, as well as that of all his compatriots: the same to
extend also to Toussaint and Dessalines. To this Le Clerc, after some
deliberation, but with no good will, acceded, and the arrangements were
accordingly concluded.

Toussaint and Dessalines, after having reflected for a short time on
their respective situations, and standing almost alone against the
prevailing wish of the people, consented to the terms which had been
granted to Christophe as a matter both of experiment and expediency,
and thus for the present ended the contest, which for the extent of it
may have been justly described as the most cruel and sanguinary in the
annals of warfare. By this peace the island of St. Domingo is admitted
to be under the sovereignty of France.

The peace being concluded, the cultivators and proprietors returned
to their homes, and recommenced their labours in the soil, in the
pleasing hope of being permitted to remain in the bosom of their
families, enjoying all those comforts of which the horrors of war had
so long denied them. The three negro chiefs, Toussaint, Dessalines,
and Christophe retired to their respective plantations, after having
been assured by Le Clerc, with every mark of sincerity, that their
persons and property should be held sacred, and that instructions
should be transmitted to them, upon which they were to act in their
future military commands. In their retreat, however, it appears that
Dessalines and Christophe were far from feeling confident of their
own safety; they consequently did not slumber in their retirement;
and being greatly apprehensive of the consequences of the experiment
into which they had been led, they waited, with no little anxiety, the
result of it.

Credulous, and relying on the captain-general’s honour, from the
confidence which he had inspired, Toussaint thought of little but the
enjoyment of repose in the bosom of his family. At his estate in the
vicinity of Gonaives, he took up his abode, surrounded by his faithful
wife and endearing children (with the exception of his two sons who
had been detained as hostages, and of whose fate no intelligence was
ever received), there to indulge in the sweets of domestic life, after
the toils and the cares of a protracted civil war, in which he had
borne the most conspicuous part, and shared in all its extraordinary
vicissitudes and all its heart-rending scenes of death and destruction.
But his retirement was invaded—the snare was laid for him by the
perfidious Le Clerc, and in the moment of sleep, unconscious and
unsuspecting, he was surrounded by some troops sent for the purpose,
torn from his bed in the dead of night, torn from his faithful wife and
beloved children, and hurried on board a frigate, there to remain until
preparations were made for sending him to France. It was useless and
unavailing to make any resistance, or to exclaim against such treachery
and inhumanity: he submitted to his fate, and left it to his countrymen
to avenge his wrongs. He only asked for the protection and security of
his family, but they became also the objects of suspicion, and were
subsequently hurried on board the same vessel with their father. They
were all sent to France, and their tragical end became the subject of
general horror and indignation throughout Europe. Le Clerc, to soften
the barbarity and atrocity of this act, gave it out that Toussaint was
plotting against the French, and was aiming, in conjunction with his
other officers, to seize the first unguarded moment in which they might
be caught, to break the peace, and to renew the combat with redoubled
vigour and determination.

Thus terminated the career of Toussaint. His end will ever blacken the
pages of French history, and leave such a stain on the character of its
government that no lapse of time can efface. History cannot produce a
more base and unjustifiable act of violence; and it is to be hoped,
for the sake of humanity, its perpetrators will meet with that just
execration which so much perfidy and treachery deserves.



CHAPTER VI.

 The period from the seizure of Toussaint to the final expulsion of
 the French, by Dessalines, in 1803.—State of cultivation.—Commerce
 declined—and observations on the population.—Its extent.


THE dispute between the people of the island and the French had now
assumed a different character, for it could no longer be designated a
contest between the revolted slaves of a colony and their government,
but a civil war, originating in an attempt of oppression on the part of
that government, over those inhabitants whom it had thought proper to
declare to be, “free and equal before God, and before the republic.”
A conflict, I say, emanating from the basest act of duplicity, and
from the most unexampled breach of faith and confidence that has been
heard of in modern times; a conflict which, in the sequel, proved the
destruction of its authors, and the expulsion of the French from all
property in St. Domingo. Our minds must be totally divested of all
those impressions which the rebellion of the slaves at first created;
and we must view the future operations of the contending parties
abstractedly, and not as having any connexion with past events.

Whatever might have been the instructions given to the captain-general
Le Clerc by his master, that officer seems to have acted with a degree
of precipitancy that must be condemned. Had the French ruler been ever
so confident in the success of an enterprise as the one in which he had
engaged, as a soldier and as a general who had commanded in a series
of campaigns, he must have left something to the discretion of the
officer whom he had appointed to conduct it, and not have insisted on
an implicit obedience to instructions that could only have been given
from a vague knowledge of the scene on which such enterprise was to be
carried into effect. The success of most offensive operations depends
in a great measure on the local information which a commanding officer
acquires on his arrival at the point at which such operations are to
commence; and a great deal, therefore, must, I imagine, be left to
his judgment and discretion, without fettering him with instructions
from which he cannot deviate, however injudicious and inefficient they
may become, from the local obstacles with which he has to contend.
Bonaparte himself, I believe, never acted but as circumstances pointed
out, paying but little attention to the directions which, from time
to time, he received from the executive government of France. I think
it, therefore, not unfair to draw from this the inference that, on
sending out his brother-in-law, Le Clerc, to command the expedition to
St. Domingo, he vested in him the power to act as circumstances might
require, and as prudence and discretion might dictate.

After the outrage which he committed on the unfortunate Toussaint and
his family, the captain-general began to deliberate on the organization
of a new form of government, and about the end of June, 1802, he
issued his regulations for that purpose; but he had forgotten that
the treacherous conduct, of which he had so recently been guilty,
remained unrevenged, and that the people would not submit to it with
impunity, but resort to measures of retaliation until they had satiated
themselves for the atrocious deed. These regulations had certainly
nothing in them new; they were merely those of Toussaint, re-modelled
as it were, but they were prematurely issued, for they only tended to
inflame the more, and to hasten that crisis which began to threaten the
French cause in the colony.

No sooner was the cruel seizure of Toussaint known, than Dessalines,
Christophe, and Clerveaux flew to arms, collected their scattered
forces, called the cultivators and others to join their standard, to
revenge the outrage committed on their chief, and to defend themselves
against the designs of the French general. In a few days, they found
themselves at the head of a large body of troops, armed and well
equipped, and determined on a most desperate struggle for liberty,
and either to expel the French or perish in the attempt. The French
troops, on the other hand, were hourly diminishing by various diseases
incident to the climate. The officers were dying daily, and others
sunk into an irrecoverable despondency; and a disaffected spirit had
manifested itself amongst them, through which not only the privates
and subaltern officers deserted their standards, but even generals
followed the example. The scenes of carnage and destruction which took
place are said to have shocked humanity, and the atrocities of the
French exceeded so much the executions of their black opponents, that
the latter seem to have entitled themselves to the character of being
merciful when compared with the tortures inflicted by the former.

The circumstance of the introduction of bloodhounds I have heard spoken
of by some who were engaged in the war, and they have all declared that
many of the statements of the cruelties said to have been committed by
them were unfounded. They were brought it is true, but the blacks were
prepared for them; and although in some instances in which they were
tried they tore some persons, and absolutely devoured a child or two,
yet they were found to be ineffectual for the object for which they
were intended, as they were shot in great numbers, so that at last they
had but few to use, and those which were left were rendered useless,
from the negroes having been always prepared to meet them. I do not
mean by this that it at all lessened the enormity of such an act, on
the part of the French, because it was not successful; on the contrary,
the ferocity of it stands unmitigated, although it proved abortive.

In the plains of the Cape, and in the city, the massacres by the French
were beyond the powers of description; and the least that can be said
of the conduct of the agents of the French government is, that they
must have been bereft of all feelings of humanity, that they were of
the worst and most debased of the dregs of the French people, and
unworthy to become the associates of even the untutored savage. The
latter may plead nature for his savage propensities, but the former has
nothing to offer to lessen the magnitude of his crimes, or to efface
the recollection of his unheard-of cruelties.

Whilst these scenes of carnage and destruction were at their height,
the French were daily losing their positions, and their force was
constantly diminishing from the effects of the pestilence which raged
through the whole army. The general-in-chief, who had for some time
been in an impaired state of health, began visibly to sink under the
ravages of disease, and on the 1st of November he breathed his last,
leaving in the memory of his opponents a name blackened by the worst of
crimes, unatoned for by one single virtue.

The command of the army now devolved on General Rochambeau, who, to
say the least of him, was a worthy successor of Le Clerc, and possessed
similar _virtues_. To him, therefore, was it left to pursue that
barbarous policy which had been introduced by his predecessor, and
which only tended to inflame the ardour of the black troops, without in
any way promoting the good of the French cause. Rochambeau certainly
took the command at a time when it must have appeared that the object
of the expedition had failed, and that the prolongation of the contest
would be attended with no favourable result. Opposed to an enemy,
whose force was daily increasing, and whose ardour was unabated and
resolution unshaken, he had but little hopes of accomplishing any thing
beyond acting on the defensive, until such reinforcements should arrive
as would enable him to act on the offensive with some degree of effect;
but, even then, there seemed not the remotest possibility of his being
able to retrieve the positions which had been lost, and place his
forces in such security as might enable him to provide for a retreat,
should subsequent disasters make such an alternative absolutely
necessary.

In the early part of 1803, nothing decisive was done on either side.
Rochambeau and Dessalines came in contact, and a battle ensued, in
which the latter was successful; but the scene of carnage and massacres
which followed is much too painful to admit of being detailed. The
French general, who took about five hundred prisoners, put them all to
death, forgetting or careless of the fate of his own soldiers who were
in the power of his enemy. The latter retaliated; and the next morning
at day break, on as many gibbets, there were exhibited five hundred
French officers and men, sacrificed through the savage impetuosity of
their general.

The war having broken out between England and France in July, a British
squadron appeared off Cape François and blockaded the harbour, thereby
rendering to the blacks a most important service, which in a great
measure contributed to accelerate the expulsion of the French. This
squadron precluded the possibility of the French receiving any supplies
from the Spanish port, and the garrison and inhabitants of the city
were therefore reduced to the most lamentable extremities. Every thing
that could be found, horses, mules, asses, all had been consumed,
and they were at last obliged to feed upon dogs. It is said “that
the French were obliged for several weeks to subsist on those very
bloodhounds, which they had procured for the purpose of hunting down
the negroes.”

The city was at last reduced to the most melancholy state from the
effects of famine and disease, the besiegers making great exertions to
intercept any supplies that might be on their way for the relief of
the besieged. All hopes of eluding the vigilance of his enemies having
at length vanished, and extensive preparations having been made to
take the city by storm, the French commander-in-chief began to see
that there would be a necessity for offering to capitulate. Dessalines
having received these proposals, agreed to them, and the articles were
signed on the 19th of November. These articles were certainly highly
favourable to the French, for they provided for the security of private
property, and that all their sick and wounded should be carefully
attended by the blacks, and afterwards conveyed to France in vessels
bearing a neutral flag. For the evacuation ten days were allowed, and
Rochambeau attempted a ruse de guerre, by which he hoped to evade the
English squadron then blockading the city, but in this he totally
failed. He thought that the strong and stormy winds which prevailed
during the autumnal months, might blow off the English ships, and
enable the French squadron to steal away unperceived; but the English
commodore saw the design of the French general, and consequently
increased his vigilance, and began to provide against the attempt
meditated by the French commander.

Finding that he had been too sanguine, and that it was not possible to
elude the vigilance of the English squadron, Rochambeau was obliged
to enter into terms with the British commodore, to avoid the dreadful
alternative of destruction in the harbour by red-hot shot, with which
he was threatened, from the time agreed upon in the articles having
expired. The force which surrendered consisted of three frigates and
nearly twenty smaller vessels, and prisoners to the number of about
eight thousand men were taken first to Jamaica and afterwards to
England.

Thus ended the war between the French and the blacks in St. Domingo,
and thus an expedition, which at different periods brought out upwards
of forty thousand men, terminated in discomfiture and disgrace;
and which, from the conduct of the respective generals on whom the
command devolved, will ever remain an indelible stain on the military
character of their country. No expedition in the annals of that country
had been fitted out under more favourable and encouraging auspices,
and respecting the success of which a greater interest was excited.
Composed of the finest troops, and under the most experienced officers,
a different termination might have been anticipated; but a mistaken
policy having been pursued, after the moment of victory, the advantages
which had been previously gained were altogether lost, and upon the
victors was entailed the odium of defeat, together with the reproach of
neglect, and the want of precaution and discernment.

The end of December, 1803, therefore beheld the blacks in quiet
possession of the island, after a struggle in which they certainly
exhibited proofs of skill and perseverance in the multifarious duties
of the field, highly creditable to their chiefs who had the planning
of them, and to the inferior leaders on whom devolved the executive
part: and it would be wrong not to express in proper terms, the
admiration called forth by the resistance which they made whenever
they were hard pressed by the French troops. They at times displayed a
great deal of heroism and unshaken courage. Standing on the dead bodies
of their comrades, they were often seen fighting man to man with the
French. Such real determination to protect their liberty was never
contemplated by the French; the colonists, who had been the promoters
of the expedition, always represented the negro character as being
completely deficient in courage, and destitute of every necessary
ingredient for making soldiers. In part this may be true, but examples
of individual bravery among the negro population were not wanting to
negative the first charge; and although the last may be partially
admitted, still time and experience had made them efficient for the
field, and the sequel has sufficiently proved that, at the evacuation
of the island, the negro troops were in a state of discipline but
little inferior to the French, and in point of courage equal. Looking
at them in other respects, and taking into consideration that they were
men, who before, nay even at that time, were in the grossest state of
ignorance and moral degradation, our astonishment is excited, when
we find that in the moment of rage and revenge they often refrained
from acts of cruelty and torture, whilst their insatiable enemies were
committing the most shocking and unfeeling barbarities.

It is fairly to be presumed, that during the war but little time
could be devoted to the cultivation of the soil, and that every thing
relating to it must have been neglected and have dwindled into a very
backward state, and that this was the case I believe is generally
known, for the cultivators were obliged to fly to arms, and were
scarcely ever permitted during the struggles to return to their homes;
the only persons, therefore, who could employ themselves on their
plantations were the females, and such of their children as were too
young to carry arms. But the efforts of these were not of much use, for
such was the destruction which accompanied the movements of the parties
at war, that the estates were laid waste on each side of the line of
march for some miles. Every operation of agriculture was therefore in
a very languid state, and the apprehension under which people laboured
was so great that they thought not of any productions beyond what
they required for their own sustenance: having no inducement to look
forward, they only guarded against present wants.

It is represented by many intelligent persons amongst the people of
colour, and in particular by the late Baron D——, who was secretary
to Christophe, and a man of considerable talent and of the most
unquestionable veracity, that the successors of Toussaint had not that
influence over the cultivators which their predecessor had, and that
neither persuasion nor the expectation of gain could prevail upon them
to return to their agricultural employment: and that immediately after
the war, it would have been impolitic, if not utterly impracticable, to
have enforced it, as any thing like coercion at that moment, when the
minds of the people were in a ferment, might have been attended with
the most disastrous consequences.

Commerce too had also been suspended for the want of articles of
exchange for the manufactures of Europe and the provisions of America,
and during the existence of the struggle foreigners were deterred from
adventuring to any extent, fearing the consequences resulting from such
an unsettled state of things.

Toussaint certainly made great efforts to revive commerce as well as
agriculture, and until he was treacherously seized by the French, he
certainly promoted both to an extent which, when the state of the
country and the agitation of the people are weighed, appears somewhat
surprising, and of which I shall hereafter give a specification. The
system adopted by Toussaint was not dissimilar to that which appears
to prevail in Russia, where the peasantry are attached to the soil,
“adscripti glebæ”; and he acted wisely by doing so on account of his
people, of whose innate love of indolence he was no mean judge, and he
was anxious to remove it, to promote industry and stimulate exertion.

The population of St. Domingo at this period had greatly diminished;
the natural increase had been very small, and the ravages of war had
caused the loss of a great many, besides the emigration which had taken
place under the protection of the French. The entire population in
1802, as estimated by M. Rumboldt, was three hundred and seventy-five
thousand; of which two hundred and ninety thousand were cultivators,
forty-seven thousand seven hundred domestics, sailors, &c. and
thirty-seven thousand three hundred soldiers. By a subsequent statement
of the population of the island in the year 1803, immediately after
the expulsion of the French, and of which a note was given to me by
an individual who was about the person of Dessalines at the time of
his accession to the chief command, the number appears to have been
about three hundred and forty-eight thousand, of which two hundred and
seventy-two thousand were cultivators, thirty-five thousand soldiers,
and the remainder were composed of domestics, artisans, and a few
sailors. The difference between these two statements of twenty-seven
thousand in so short a time appears large, but the destruction of
men must have been very great indeed during that period, from the
extraordinary rancour which existed in the French, and from their
cruel determination to give no quarter, but to pursue a system of
extermination until they had completely destroyed all those who were
inimical to their interest. The emigration to the Spanish part of the
island was also considerable; many fled thither to avert the impending
blow, and to save themselves from the fate which awaited those who had
been wavering in the cause of liberty. The successors of Toussaint they
were aware would visit them with the heaviest penalties, and from the
known ferocity of Dessalines they had to expect but little mercy, his
character among his brethren for barbarity and thirst for blood and
revenge being too well established not to be greatly dreaded.

I shall now proceed to take a short review of the proceedings of the
succeeding chiefs who governed the island after this time. In doing
so, I shall abstain from any reference to military operations, except
in cases where it may be required for the clearer illustration of my
subject.



CHAPTER VII.

 Independence declared.—Dessalines attempts to take the city
 of Santo Domingo.—Raised to the imperial dignity.—New
 constitution.—His atrocious massacres.—Attempts to import negroes
 from Africa.—Encourages cultivators.—Census taken.—State of his
 army.—His death and character.


THE independence of Hayti was declared on the 1st of January, 1804,
and the first step taken by Dessalines, who had been vested with the
chief command, was to endeavour to stop the emigration which was going
on, and remove the delusion under which the blacks were labouring. For
this purpose he caused it to be made generally known, that all previous
opinions would be buried in oblivion, and those who had been allured
to take part with the enemies of the colony, and had been induced to
emigrate from apprehension of the consequences which such conduct
might entail upon them, were invited to return to their homes, being
assured of protection and security; at the same time, however, he gave
it out, that all those who were disposed to accompany the French army
were at liberty to do so, and should be allowed to depart unmolested.
This augured favourably, and many took advantage of this declaration
of clemency, who afterwards had to regret their credulity and condemn
their own want of foresight and discretion.

To give a colour of clemency and humanity to this declaration of the
black general-in-chief, and to stamp it with the mark of sincerity,
another proclamation was issued signed by Dessalines, Christophe,
and Clerveaux, a mulatto, in which the independence of the colony is
declared, and encouragement given to the emigrants to return to their
properties. It says, “towards those men who do us justice, we will act
as brothers; let them rely for ever on our esteem and friendship; let
them return amongst us. The God who protects us, the God of freemen,
bids us stretch out towards them our conquering arms.” Allured by a
proclamation which held out a promise of security and protection, many
returned from the interior of the island, whither they had fled for
safety.

As a great many freemen of colour, as well as slaves, had emigrated
to the United States at the commencement of the revolution, and as
many had manifested a desire to return, but were without the means
of accomplishing it, Dessalines devised a plan to enable them to do
so; but this plan does not appear to have succeeded, for there is no
authentic proof that any of them ever returned: it is on the contrary
known, that although the emissaries of Dessalines were industriously
employed in America, but very few of the negroes and people of
colour availed themselves of the advantages which were so glowingly
held out to them; doubting the sincerity of the general-in-chief on
the one hand, and on the other, living in some degree of comfort
and tranquillity with their new masters, they had no wish to try an
experiment by which they might lose a great deal, and gain nothing. As
it afterwards turned out, their decision was prudent and wise, for it
was no doubt the aim of the inhuman Dessalines to make them all objects
of his brutal ferocity, and this was the impression of those who were
beyond the reach of his vengeance; they could never be inspired with
the hope of safety, were they to give up the hold of which they had
obtained possession. To hazard a security, by visionary schemes of
improvement is a proof of weakness and indiscretion; and those who
had obtained that security were determined to preserve it, by not
listening to the proposals of the negro chief. Had such a proposal
been made by Toussaint, many, from an innate love of their native
soil, would no doubt have accepted it; but a proposition from a man so
base and sanguinary as Dessalines, surely, could never have found one
individual who would have had faith or confidence in it. It is evident,
that he meditated the destruction of all those who returned, and that
too in the most cruel and brutal way; such a thing as mercy formed no
constituent of the character of the most ferocious tyrant that ever
afflicted the inhabitants of any country. Those who had emigrated to
America, I think, would have returned, had the proposition for their
doing so been made by any other of the chiefs; but coming from such a
wretch as Dessalines, it deterred instead of having encouraged them.

A short time after Dessalines had been invested with the chief command,
he began to discard all the appellations which were used in the time of
the French, and Hayti, the name given to the island by the Aborigines,
was adopted instead of Saint Domingo, and he was severe in the extreme
towards any one who might by the smallest and purest accident use any
of the abrogated terms. This was followed by a general call on the
people to revenge the wrongs which they had endured, and to execute
vengeance upon those whom they conceived to have been the authors
of it. The white French people, therefore, were indiscriminately
sacrificed, not indeed by the inhabitants or cultivators, who preferred
peace, and wished clemency to be shewn towards all, but by the troops,
headed by their officers, and under the orders of the general-in-chief.
No age nor sex was spared: the brutal soldiers, led on by their
merciless officers, ran from door to door, and left not one alive whom
they could find within; the females, whose amiable softness might have
stayed the hand of the savage in his native wilds, first endured the
most dreadful violation, and then were bayoneted and most shockingly
mangled.

Military execution is at all times, and in all countries, to be
greatly dreaded. It is always attended with those appalling enormities
and barbarities, which make it the scourge of those nations which
resort to it; it shews not the least mercy to either the innocent,
the child, or the female with all her sweetness and charms, but all
are indiscriminately the objects of its ravages, and the innocent
with the guilty feel its atrocious influence, without being able to
avert its vengeance and fury. In Hayti the effects of it must have
been heavy indeed, and from the fact of its having been perpetrated
by people who were little advanced over the unlettered savage of the
desert, its consequences must have been horrible beyond the powers
of language to describe. The measures which the merciless Dessalines
adopted were enough to deter people from expressing their abhorrence
for such vindictive proceedings. He made all his officers assume the
capacity of spies, and in consequence, it became dangerous even to
speak; all therefore being silent spectators of his enormities, he took
it for granted that they approved, whilst fear alone prevented them
from loudly pronouncing their abhorrence and detestation of his most
flagitious conduct.

This crafty and execrable monster had recourse to one of the most
diabolical acts recorded in the annals of history, for the purpose of
collecting all those people together, who had escaped from the military
massacres. He gave it out by a proclamation, that as he intended
to stay his vengeance for the sufferings to which his brethren had
been exposed, all those who had escaped execution under his military
decree, should appear at an appointed spot for the purpose of receiving
tickets, which might in future protect them from the vengeance of the
people; and many who had been fortunate enough to escape, as they
thought, in the first massacre, became the victims of the second; for
no sooner did these unsuspecting and deluded creatures obtain what they
conceived an assurance that their lives would be spared, than leaving
their hiding places, they ran with eagerness to the place announced for
issuing the tickets, when they were immediately seized and led away
for instant execution. Before he perpetrated so deliberate, base, cool
blooded, and horrible an act, even Nero would have paused; but the
infamous and blood thirsty negro Dessalines secretly rejoiced at the
success of his inhuman stratagem.

Another of this monster’s acts of barbarity is recorded. A young
Frenchman, the son of a very opulent planter, had escaped during the
early part of the revolution, with his father and the rest of his
family, to Jamaica, where he had followed the occupation of a clerk in
a mercantile house in Kingston. On its being known that all persons
were invited back to their native country, he adopted the resolution to
go up to Port au Prince, and procure leave to settle there. Speaking
English fluently, he obtained a clerkship in the counting-house of
an English merchant in that city. After having been there for some
time, the monster heard of him, and it was intimated that he was a
Frenchman. When he was sent for to appear at the government-house, the
young man complied, and attended at the time appointed. Dessalines
received him in the presence of his numerous officers, and told him
that he had sent for him to ascertain if he were a Frenchman. The young
man replied in the negative, and that he was a native of Jamaica,
born of French parents, and had come to the city as a clerk to an
establishment connected with the house in which he had lived in that
island. Dessalines expressed much regret at the disappointment he felt,
said he hoped to discover in him the son of a planter of his name, from
whom he, Dessalines, had received much kindness, and who had once saved
his life; and stated that he was most anxious to learn if any of the
family were living, that he might be enabled to shew his gratitude,
by restoring them to their estates, and affording them encouragement
and protection. The young man elated with this expression of kindness
and good will, and in the moment of credulous joy, declared himself
to be the son of the man whom he had represented as having been his
benefactor. The inhuman savage with a laugh which resounded through
the whole apartment, and jumping, as he was wont to do whenever he had
succeeded in entrapping an individual, from his chair, ordered the
young man to be bayoneted in his presence, which was instantly done,
whilst he looked on with the most ferocious countenance, indicative of
the inward satisfaction he felt in having sacrificed another victim on
the altar of revenge.

It is certain that Dessalines willingly took upon himself the
responsibility of all these enormities; he even gloried in them,
boasted that he had inflicted them on the French, and alleged that
his predecessor Toussaint had been too lenient and too backward in
his measures against those who opposed his cause. In his subsequent
proclamation, he claims to himself the whole merit of these atrocious
proceedings, and declares that in future he will admit no Europeans to
hold property in the colony. That part of his proclamation is extremely
harsh, and shews the malignancy of his nature, and his hatred of the
whites; it states, as the translation from another author has it:
“Generals, officers, soldiers, somewhat unlike him who has preceded
me, the ex-general Toussaint L’Ouverture, I have been faithful to the
promise I have made to you when I took up arms against tyranny, and
whilst a spark of life remains in me I will keep my oath. Never again
shall a colonist or European set his foot upon this territory, with the
title of master or proprietor. This resolution shall henceforward form
the fundamental basis of our constitution.”[5]

When all the massacres were at an end, he began to turn his attention
towards restoring the country to some degree of tranquillity, after
the injuries which it had sustained by the war, and to endeavour, if
possible, to remove the fears under which the people seemed to labour,
from the apprehension of a future interruption of their quiet and
repose. He therefore determined to visit all parts under his command,
and to make those arrangements which had a tendency, not only to
augment the wealth of the island, but also to promote the welfare
of his people, and inspire confidence in his future government. So
commendable an act was certainly entitled to the highest praise and
consideration, but emanating from so execrable a character it seemed
paradoxical, and many questioned his sincerity, and were apprehensive
that he contemplated measures of a contrary tendency. In the present
instance, however, he was not dissembling, for he evinced more than
common anxiety for the reestablishment of agriculture, and held out
to the people the high advantages that were to be derived from their
personal exertions in the culture of their lands; and for the purpose
of stimulating them, he assured them of his intention to encourage
an intercourse with the United States and England, in order to open
a vent for their own productions, and to ensure on better terms the
purchase of those articles of foreign growth and manufacture of which
they stood in need. This seems to have been particularly offered for
his consideration by some American merchants of respectability, with
whom Dessalines frequently held conferences on subjects having a
reference to his future government: and it has been communicated to
me by one of them, that he was, notwithstanding his irascible temper,
very attentive to their representations, and shewed great deference for
their opinions, and frequently acted upon them in matters of commerce,
when he found them consistent with the policy which he meant to pursue;
otherwise he heard them deliberate upon them, and if he thought they
proposed any thing to which he could not readily concur, he would
freely state his objections, but always expressed himself thankful.

After a short period had elapsed, he also began to concert measures
for the reduction of the Spanish part of the island. The city of Santo
Domingo had rendered ineffectual all the efforts of the blacks to sow
dissensions among the people. There were but few slaves in this part
of the island, and those were living in so great a state of equality
with the people, that slavery was only known by name, and they evinced
no desire whatever to throw off their adherence to their masters, and
join their brethren of the west. Both these parties united in their
resolution to oppose the tyrant, whom they equally detested, should
he appear before Santo Domingo. At last Dessalines laid siege to the
city, vainly conceiving that the terror of his name and the extent of
his achievements would deter the people from making any resistance,
and that they would surrender on his first appearance before it, on
being assured of his protection and friendship. But in this he was
egregiously deceived, for the besieged made strong preparations for
defence, and determined on the most vigorous efforts to repel his
attacks. In the mean time a reinforcement having arrived from France,
proved a very seasonable succour to the inhabitants; this induced
Dessalines to raise the siege and return to the west, without having
been able to carry into effect this last design, which caused him no
little chagrin and disappointment.

His tour through the country, and his incursion to the Spanish part
of the island, were followed in a short time by his elevation to the
imperial dignity; on the 8th of October, 1804, with great parade
and splendour, he was crowned “Emperor of Hayti.” His elevation to
the imperial throne was recognized in the following year by the new
constitution, and being proclaimed immediately throughout the island,
the announcement was received with little or no enthusiasm.

In this new constitution there are some things which certainly indicate
a great desire for the improvement of the country, and manifest a
very strong wish to promote the happiness and improve the condition
of the people, and to introduce something like morality among them.
It says, that no Haytian is entitled to the privileges of a citizen,
who does not inherit all the qualities of a good father, a good son,
and a good husband. No child could be disinherited by his parents;
emigration subjected a person to the loss of his citizenship, and a
citizen becoming bankrupt lost all his privileges; all citizens too
were required to make themselves skilful in some mechanical trade. Such
enactments as these did credit to the people from whom they emanated,
and must in some measure soften our detestation of Dessalines, who
consented that they should form a part of the fundamental laws which
he was sworn to observe, and by which he engaged to govern. By the new
constitution also religion was tolerated, although it was declared that
there should be no predominant religion, copying in this particular
the United States, which it was the aim of the Haytians to imitate as
nearly as circumstances would permit. Marriage it declared to be merely
a civil ceremony, tending to improve society, and to inspire the people
with a disgust for the unlimited sensuality then so prevalent in the
country.

Dessalines during his imperial reign made the strongest efforts to
increase the population of the island, his ferocious disposition having
been somewhat softened by the sweets of peace and tranquillity, which
now in all parts happily reigned. People of colour and blacks began to
return to their homes, and others from the French and British colonies
found their way thither, and were received in a very cordial manner,
every pledge of protection being given them. One act of the emperor,
however, for the purpose of increasing his male population, seems to
have excited no little astonishment as well as indignation, and that
was the importation of people from Africa. For this object he wished
to enter into a commercial treaty with the British agent from Jamaica,
offering to open the ports of Hayti to the British slave ships, and to
grant to the Jamaica importers the exclusive right of selling negroes
in Hayti! True it is, the privilege was to extend to the importation
of men only, and that they were not to be sold to any other persons
but those appointed by the government, which wanted them, as it has
been generally wished should be understood, to increase their military
establishment, but which in fact required them for the cultivation
of the government lands which had fallen into a state of neglect and
unproductiveness. This arrangement however did not take place; not
by reason of any backwardness evinced by the emperor, but because no
disposition was shewn by the British agent to accept the offer of a
grant, which, to say the least of it, appeared a most extraordinary and
unaccountable measure. Some have observed, that the emperor himself was
dissuaded from it on the ground that its principle was nearly allied
to that slave trade, to which it could not fail to give encouragement;
but he contended, that it was a measure of necessity, of political
expediency, which, with him, superseded every other consideration; and
besides, he alleged that he should be performing an act of humanity
towards the African race, by permitting them to be brought into his
dominions, as otherwise they would be taken to Jamaica and made slaves.

From a note which I obtained of a census taken in 1805, the population
of Hayti appears to have amounted to about four hundred thousand, of
all denominations, so that by natural augmentation and by emigration
from other countries, there was an evident increase in three years
of at least twenty-five thousand, taking M. Humboldt’s statement of
the population in 1802 to be a correct one. But from the manner in
which the census was taken, a considerable degree of inaccuracy must
have arisen, and hence the census of 1805 may in all probability have
overstated the actual number: otherwise the increase seems to have been
prodigious, and consequently questionable. The taking of a census was
left entirely to the military officers of the respective districts in
which they commanded, and a very large proportion of these personages
could neither read nor write, and no great confidence can therefore be
placed in these returns.

Placide Justin states the amount of the census of 1805 at three hundred
and eighty thousand, and twenty thousand, which from a variety of
causes, he says, may have been omitted in the returns. This is a strong
evidence of their mode of taking a census being most imperfect.

Dessalines was particularly solicitous for the encouragement of the
cultivators of the soil, and held out to them every possible inducement
to labour. The code of Toussaint was enforced, and the people seemed
to work contentedly, but not to the same extent as they did in
Toussaint’s time. By Dessalines the cultivators were permitted to
change the estates on which they had chosen to work, on expressing to
the commanding officer of the district that they wished to do so, and
by assigning a sufficient reason for such wish: but on no other account
could they leave the property without incurring the penalty attached
to such an offence. Now whatever may be said about the freedom of the
cultivators by the advocates for free labour, I must be permitted to
say, that no instance has yet been adduced of such freedom in practice,
and I must beg leave to maintain still that the code of Toussaint,
which was acted upon by his successor, exhibits a greater proof of
the existence of coercion than any thing I have seen, and that the
conduct pursued by Dessalines towards the cultivators, though he wished
it to be understood that he was anxious for their welfare, was harsh
and severe in the extreme, and that those who worked on the government
estates felt it so. It has been communicated to me by an individual who
managed one of the properties held by the government, that Dessalines,
who well knew the work which could be performed by one man, had a
regular daily return sent in to him of the quantum of work done, and
should there have been any relaxation from the day before, he broke out
into a torrent of abuse, and often sentenced the negligent negroes, as
a punishment, to labour on the public roads.

The greater portion of the labour bestowed upon the soil was confined
to the cultivation of coffee. The sugar plantations having been
destroyed and the works demolished, but little sugar was now made in
proportion to the quantity produced in the time of the French, as will
be shewn hereafter in my general remarks upon the agricultural state of
the country, and the specifications of the returns at the respective
periods.

Dessalines, it is said, paid some attention to the clergy, although he
was but little better than an infidel. He gave strict injunctions that
all persons should be attentive to the celebration of public worship,
and particularly observe the sabbath. This was a measure dictated
by policy, for the better preserving order, and keeping the people
in a tranquil state. He went through the exterior forms of religious
worship as a matter of necessity, and as an example to his subjects,
but not from any inward feelings of devotion or regard for religion. He
encouraged marriage as much as possible among his people, and rigidly
exacted attention to it, and endeavoured to impress his people with the
impropriety of sensuality and voluptuousness; but in his own person he
appears to have been the most depraved and most licentious man in the
country.

The army of the emperor did not form a very powerful body. His standing
force after the conclusion of the war did not exceed twenty thousand
men, of infantry and cavalry. The militia, or, as they were formerly
termed, the national guards, were numerous, because every man from the
age of sixteen to fifty was obliged to assemble four times a year,
and undergo a regular service of training for several days at each
period, when they returned to their usual avocations. His troops were
active, well disciplined and armed, but their clothing was of the
coarsest kind, and at all times in the very worst condition. All the
fortifications in the different parts of the island he endeavoured to
put in a proper state of defence, lest the French should make another
descent, of which they were at times very apprehensive, and he took
care to keep all the provision grounds in the vicinity of the several
fastnesses in the mountains in a good state, that the different
garrisons might be well supplied with provisions in case it should, at
any subsequent period, become necessary to resort to them for security.
The good old maxim, that the best security for the preservation
of peace is always to be prepared for war, seems not to have been
forgotten by Dessalines, or by those on whom the executive part of his
government devolved.

Although Dessalines, impressed at last by a sense of his own
enormities, endeavoured to make some atonement for them, yet the
people, who had so often experienced the severity of his mandates, and
dreaded a recurrence of similar measures, secretly detested him as a
savage and a tyrant, under whom it was not possible to expect happiness
or repose; and any indication of mildness and humanity was only
considered the forerunner of some atrocious crime which he meditated.
Wearied out by his suspicions and jealousies, deprived of friends
and connexions who were often snatched from them, and hurried to an
immediate execution, without even the semblance of judicial proceedings
having been instituted against them, the people at last determined to
dethrone him, and aided by his troops, who could no longer submit to
his caprices and his tyranny, they conspired against him, and in the
vicinity of Port au Prince, and at no great distance from the north
gate of the city, he was killed by one of his own soldiers, on the 17th
of October, 1806.

The individual who shot him was a mulatto youth, whom I have seen, and
who at the time of the tyrant’s death did not exceed fifteen years of
age. He was attached to the militia, and was in ambush at the time
of Dessalines’ advance at the head of his staff, accompanied by some
soldiers. The moment they saw their master fall, some of them attempted
to revenge his death, but they met a similar fate: others rejoiced at
an event which appeared to them merely in the light of just retribution
for crimes of unparalleled inhumanity and atrocity.

Dessalines had been a slave; his master was a carpenter, or shingler,
somewhat like a tiler in England. He was short, but very stoutly
formed, and capable of undergoing more than the ordinary fatigue of
men. His capacity was not extensive, rising but little, if at all,
above mediocrity; he could neither read nor write, with the exception
of being capable of signing his name. His military talents had more
the appearance of daring movements, than of judicious and well planned
operations; and he more often succeeded by his own courage and
example, than by the superiority of his arrangements. His activity
was surprising, and the celerity with which he moved from one point
of his command to another, astonished even his enemies. He was vain,
capricious, and fond of flattery; and those who were most forward
to compliment him for his exterior embellishments, to which he was
exceedingly attentive, were certain of being admitted into his favour.
His last wife, for he had been twice married, is now living in Port
au Prince in retirement, and with a very small income. She is quite
neglected by the present government, to its disgrace, as she had often
been the means of staying the bloody hand of her husband, when he was
about to sign an order for the indiscriminate execution of the whites
and mulattoes. She bears the marks of a negress who at one time was
extremely handsome, and her exterior must have been commanding: she
is rather above the middle size of females, but not too tall, nor yet
too large in proportion. The white inhabitants of Port au Prince, and
particularly strangers who occasionally visit it, never fail to attempt
to obtain a sight of her, as her name and her character excite a great
deal of interest, and surely entitle her to the best support of the
existing government, which boasts—and it is only an empty boast—of
being generous to those who have rendered the country a service.



CHAPTER VIII.

 Christophe takes the command.—His officers of government.—Promotes
 agriculture and commerce.—Petion opposes him.—Cessation of arms
 mutually agreed upon.—Christophe crowned king.—Code Henry.—Baron
 de Vastey’s opinions.—Commissioners from France.—Conduct to
 them.—Christophe pursues his system of government.—Petion relaxes
 in his.—His offers to the British government.—State of his
 dominions.—Has recourse to a debased currency.—Consequences.—His
 death.—Christophe negotiates for the possession of the Spanish
 part.—Revolution in his dominions.—His death.


WHEN Dessalines fell, the people seemed to consider that they were
released from the most abject and oppressive tyranny, and the event was
celebrated with the greatest demonstrations of joy; and satisfaction
and comfort were observed in the countenances of the people, whilst the
soldiers congratulated each other on being relieved from a state of
servitude almost insupportable. It was no doubt a most fortunate event
for the liberty of the people, and their exultations therefore cannot
be in the least a matter of astonishment.

There was one evil however which they had not to contend with in the
time of Dessalines, a competition for the chief command. He had kept
all in subordination by the terror of his name, none daring to oppose
him; and consequently, so long as the people attended to the duties
of their station, and remained passive observers of the measures of
his government, they were not molested; but after his death, civil war
was rekindled, and their repose much disturbed, and consequently their
avocations for a time were again partially suspended.

Christophe, who had been next in command to Dessalines, and who, during
the period of Toussaint’s sway, displayed great skill and activity at
the head of the troops under his command, and to whom was entrusted
the defence of the city of Cape François, on the arrival of the French
army under Le Clerc, now assumed the supreme command in Hayti, and from
his spirit and talent he seemed better qualified for this important
trust than any other of the officers attached to the government. At
this period he stood very high in the estimation of the people, and
his humanity, with his moral and religious conduct, had diffused a
general satisfaction and approval of his elevation. His bravery was
indisputable, as he had upon several trying occasions manifested a
degree of courage, which inspired his troops with confidence and his
country with admiration. His assumption of the supreme command was
therefore pleasing to his countrymen, who were not backward in proving
that his elevation met with their universal concurrence, and that they
looked forward for the most flourishing and happy times from an event
so auspicious.

Christophe displayed great judgment and good sense at the very
beginning of his government by calling around him men of talent, both
black and coloured, whether they had been at all times attached to
the cause of independence, or, on the contrary, had on some occasions
been ranged in opposition to it. He made no distinction; he looked for
men of abilities wherever they could be found, and he had no aversion
for even the whites (unless they were French, of whom he was always
suspicious from their intriguing characters), having several of them
near him, with whom he would often consult on matters of state policy,
and on his future views with regard to agriculture, commerce, and
matters of finance. To these persons he always paid implicit attention,
deliberated upon every subject which they thought it prudent to
suggest, and otherwise evinced a confidence in them, which in return
inspired respect for his authority and an attachment for his person.
With one of his secretaries, Mons. Dupuy, afterwards Baron Dupuy, I
have had some conversation on subjects connected with the history of
his country. He was a man of education and of great natural talents;
had acquired considerable information on matters of government, and
seemed to possess no little degree of knowledge of the politics
and views of the European cabinets. His mind was well stored with
historical information, and he was sensible of the way by which his
country was to exalt herself in the estimation of the world. He looked
upon it to be the first duty of the executive to devise plans for the
encouragement of agriculture, and for the extension of commerce; and he
left no means untried to endeavour to open an intercourse with those
countries from which there was a probability of deriving advantages,
and with England in particular, which he highly extolled. To Mons.
Dupuy, Christophe looked up with attention; and although he was a man
of colour, which, as some have insinuated, was objectionable, not one
in his suite received more attention, for there was not one who could
be more serviceable: as the chief’s interpreter too he was invaluable,
and no man could have been more faithful towards his master.

De Vastey, another of his secretaries, was also a man of strong natural
understanding, and a work described as his “Reflections on the Blacks
and Whites”, with his notes, printed at Cape Haytian, 1814, shews, that
he possessed no little acquaintance with history, and that he was not
without some knowledge of mankind in most countries, as well as of the
opinions entertained in Europe on the affairs of his country. De Vastey
is now living at the Cape in retirement, and is exceedingly attentive
to the English residents, for whom he has a very high respect and
veneration. He is a black.

Mons. Prevost, afterwards Count Limonade, and secretary for foreign
affairs, exhibited proofs of a very strong mind, and displayed
considerable knowledge in political matters, as his state papers
particularly exemplify: in him also Christophe placed great
confidence, and to him he entrusted the entire regulation of his
foreign communications; and in doing so, he shewed that he confided
in a servant of no ordinary judgment and discretion, who seemed to be
impressed with a sense of the importance of his duties, and shewed a
great desire to acquit himself to the satisfaction of his chief, and to
ensure the respect of his countrymen.

With such men as these, and one or two others, English and Americans,
Christophe generally conferred, and to their suggestions for his future
plans of governing, he generally, if not always, acceded: and it is not
a matter therefore of any surprise if the regulations with which he
commenced his career should be marked by great judgment, discretion,
and good policy.

The first step of Christophe was to assume the plain and simple
designation of “Chief of the Government of Hayti”, under which, and not
the imperial dignity, it was his determination to govern; and he made
the most prompt arrangements for immediately endeavouring to establish
a commercial understanding with Great Britain and the United States.
To effect this object he expressed the greatest anxiety to several of
the officers of the British men-of-war who frequented the port of the
Cape, and to whom he always shewed the greatest courtesy and civility.
To the Americans who were about him, and who had taken up their
residence at the Cape for the purpose of carrying on their commercial
dealings with the people, he also expressed a similar desire; and the
latter, always on the alert to communicate any thing likely to extend
the commercial intercourse of their country, immediately undertook to
transmit his wish to their government, but the proposition made to
the British did not at that time receive an immediate acquiescence.
Had it been consistent with the British colonial interests to enter
into a commercial treaty at this time, there is no doubt, I think, of
one having been concluded, which would have insured to Great Britain
privileges of trade that would not have been conceded to any other
country. Every man connected with the government, and who had any
weight with Christophe, considered it of paramount consequence that
the countenance of England should be gained, if possible, and that it
was expedient that such advantages should be offered as would induce
that power to enter into a commercial treaty with them, without at
all adverting to the effect it might produce on other powers: but
it does not appear that such measures were ever adopted, and it is
presumed, that an intimation was given from an undoubted quarter, that
no propositions could be received by the British government at that
juncture in consequence of the effect it might produce in their own
colonies. The matter, therefore, remained in suspense, and Christophe
began to turn his attention to other important measures for the
aggrandizement of his country.

His first address teemed with sentiments which did honour to the
feelings by which he was actuated. It was dated the 24th of October,
1806, and set forth the system which he intended to pursue with
respect to commerce. It proclaimed certain free ports, and that the
flag of all nations would be respected, and property protected; that
personal security was pledged; and that the odious law, passed by his
predecessor Dessalines, which established exclusive consignments in
the citizens of the country, was abrogated, and that every individual
should be privileged to place his property in the hands of his own
factor, who should have the full protection of the government.

Such regulations were productive of the greatest benefit to the
country. Americans and Europeans began to find their advantage
in trading with Hayti; and the manufactures of England, with the
provisions of the United States, began to flow into it freely, and in
quantities quite large enough for the means of the people, in return
for which they obtained the staple products of the country, and on
terms that enabled them to carry on a very beneficial and lucrative
trade. The people were not disposed for any of the extravagantly rich
manufactures of Europe; they confined themselves entirely to such
as their means would permit them to purchase, and in no case was a
system of credit resorted to; every thing was confined to barter with
foreigners, who certainly were not yet sufficiently conscious of the
rectitude and integrity of the people, to adopt a measure which was
likely to be attended with so much danger of loss. Where, therefore,
there was no credit, there was but little if any risk, and the commerce
of Hayti was, in consequence of such a system, of great advantage to
those who engaged in it, many of those who first adventured thither
realizing handsome fortunes.

Christophe had not long been at the head of the government before
a competitor for the supreme authority started up in the person of
Alexandre Petion, a mulatto, who had succeeded to the command held
by Clerveaux, after the death of that general, and was subsequently
commander-in-chief at Port au Prince. Petion was greatly respected
by the people; he was of a mild and attractive manner, and possessed
talents of a very superior order. He had been educated in France,
and served in the French armies, in which he had acquired the rank
of a field officer. He was a skilful engineer, in which capacity, it
appears, he had rendered the most essential services to Toussaint
and Dessalines, from both of whom he received the greatest marks of
attention and advancement in his military rank. He was induced to aim
at the sovereign authority at the instigation of the population of
the southern and western districts, the largest proportion of which
were persons of colour; and the blacks in the same division were much
inclined to support his claims, his general deportment and his known
talents having inspired them with confidence and esteem.

Both chiefs now began to have recourse to arms, and Christophe, who
had succeeded in many of the rencontres which had taken place, secured
the whole of the north; but on his advancing to the south, and making
an attempt on Port au Prince, he failed, returned to his seat of
government at Cape François, and began to shew a disposition towards
peace and the prosecution of those designs which he meditated for
insuring the tranquillity of his country, and promoting the happiness
of the people.

In the February following he published his new constitution, in which
the Catholic religion is declared to be the religion of the state, and
every other religion is tolerated. For the better encouragement of
commerce and an intercourse with foreigners, it is declared “that the
government solemnly guarantees the foreign merchants the security of
their persons and properties.”

He began also to make great advancement in the instruction of youth,
and contemplated the establishment of public schools, so soon as the
state of the country should be sufficiently tranquillized to enable him
to carry his intentions into effect.

In a proclamation which he subsequently issued, he dwells strongly
on the subject of agriculture, and expresses an anxiety, beyond his
ordinary solicitude, for the encouragement of that great source of
national wealth. He makes a most forcible and powerful appeal to the
people, exhorting them to an unceasing application to the culture of
the lands, by the produce of which foreigners would be attracted to
their ports, to enter into an exchange for the products of their own
countries, as well as for money, whereby their country would advance in
wealth, and themselves in happiness and prosperity. Being uninformed
as to the line of politics which foreign countries might adopt towards
them, he declared it to be his wish to remain quiet until they had made
their decision, expressing a hope only that it might be such as would
be favourable to their commerce, and tend to cement an intercourse
founded on a basis of reciprocity.

The declaration often made by Christophe, that he never would permit
an interference with the colonies of any European state, was often
questioned and never believed to be sincere; but an event occurred
which at once proved his sincerity, and called forth the approbation
of the British government. Discovering that some individuals in the
southern parts of the island were intriguing with those persons in the
island of Jamaica who were hostile to their government, he immediately
arrested them, and brought them to punishment for infringing the
declaration which he had so often made. The British government viewed
this act of Christophe in a very favourable light; and in consequence
of his integrity, it permitted an intercourse with certain ports in
Hayti, by an order of council of February, 1807. This contributed
greatly to increase the commercial views of Christophe, and became
of considerable importance to the Haytians, as well as beneficial to
British merchants.

In the year 1811, Christophe was raised to the throne, under the title
of King Henry, an act which seems to have had the approbation of the
majority, if not of the whole of his subjects who were endowed with
talents to discriminate. They were of opinion that the conversion
of the state into a monarchy suited the exigences of the times, as
more likely to make them respected abroad, and maintain their rights
at home; putting it ever out of their consideration that it was an
act only of gratitude, that they should manifest their sentiments
of attachment for one who had, through a long career of war and
desolation, rendered such important services in the cause of liberty.

The act which raised him to the throne provided also for the
establishment of the various offices of state, and made other important
arrangements for the security of the crown, declared hereditary in the
family of Christophe, all of which met with a general concurrence, and
gave the fullest satisfaction to the people.

I shall not pursue my narrative of the operations of the respective
chiefs who were now at the heads of the governments of the north and
the south, but merely notice a few circumstances which appeared most
prominent in the proceedings of each.

About the period of the elevation of Christophe to the throne of the
northern part of Hayti, a cessation of hostilities between him and his
rival took place, through, it is generally believed, the intercession
of the British government, who interposed to stop the further effusion
of blood between the two chieftains, and if possible to reconcile them
to the government of their respective divisions, without encroaching
on each other, or without again exciting that jealousy which had so
long existed between them. The application to the British government
to take upon itself directly the adjustment of their differences, and
to suggest a reconciliation on specific terms, was entrusted to the
charge of a British merchant in the confidence of Petion, who, from his
reverses, seemed to court a peace with his rival. Lord Castlereagh, the
then secretary of state for foreign affairs in England, it is believed,
declined to interfere when applied to upon the subject, the nature of
the application being such as to preclude the British cabinet taking
any part in it. Petion solicited the aid of England to preserve his
dominions against the encroachment of his rival, in return for which
he offered to place the trade of the British upon a more favourable
footing than that of any other nation: motives however of a political
urgency in the then state of the colonies of Great Britain induced
his lordship to reject the proposition; but it is understood, and I
believe generally admitted, that there was an indirect suggestion made
to Christophe to suspend hostilities, and which succeeded; for we do
not perceive that any acts of aggression were subsequently committed
by either chief. It is also true that Petion lowered the imposts on
British goods imported into his country from 12 to 7 per cent., giving
them a preference of 5 per cent. over those of other neutral nations.

Hostilities having been suspended, both these chiefs began to turn
their attention towards the improvement of their dominions, and to
use every possible effort for the encouragement of agriculture and
commerce; but they certainly pursued quite opposite courses to attain
their end; and in a few years it was evident, that the one who adopted
a system of rigid enforcement raised his country into affluence, whilst
the other who submitted to the indolent habits of his people, and was
regardless of the consequences that would ensue from too great a
supineness and inactivity, sunk it into the lowest state of poverty,
and was necessitated to resort to measures which finally proved its
ruin. I shall offer a few remarks on the respective characters of these
two individuals, by way of shewing their different ideas of the people
whom they governed, and of the most effectual way of raising their
country to wealth and prosperity.

Christophe, there is no doubt, was the most conversant with the
real character and disposition of his countrymen. He was sensibly
impressed with the idea, that to govern them, it would be requisite
and imperative to resort to strong and powerful measures, and not to
proceed by slow and easy degrees: he knew that if he were once to relax
in his authority, and permit them to pursue their own course, indolence
would become so deeply rooted, that to obtain any exertions from them
hereafter, would prove a most Herculean task, and in all probability
lay the foundation of much irritation, if not of disturbance. He was
persuaded therefore, that, before it would be possible to raise his
country in wealth and in happiness, an implicit obedience to such
regulations as he should deem adviseable, must be enforced; that if the
people were left to their own free agency, from their innate love of
indolence, nothing could be obtained from them: they would wander about
quite unconcerned for to-morrow, satisfied with that which the day
had produced. He knew that the negro race were prone to idleness and
addicted to lust and sensuality; that they were ignorant of the duties
of civilized life, and of the ties which bound them together; and it
was a matter of the first importance for the consideration of those
who were to direct the affairs of state, to devise the means by which
they should be taught their duty to their country; that idleness and
concupiscence were vices of the worst cast; and that unless an upright
and moral course were pursued, they could neither expect improvement
in their individual condition, nor advance themselves in the opinions
of mankind. To accomplish these objects, he was fully aware, or, at
all events, his advisers had made him sensible of it, would be a work
of no ordinary difficulty, and that unless obedience could be legally
exacted, and the people compelled to the performance of all civil
obligations, it would only be a waste of time to attempt to rule, or to
endeavour to place the government on a solid and permanent foundation.

With such impressions as these, Christophe and his council and advisers
set about a work, which, whatever may be said of them as legislators,
exhibits no little share of talent and judgment. His Code Henry made
its appearance in 1812; it is a digest of the laws passed for the
government of the kingdom, and seems to have provided for every class
of offences. Some of its laws are new, and others are founded upon the
laws of his predecessors, with such judicious curtailments or additions
as circumstances seemed to require. Those of agriculture and commerce
are decidedly such as were in force in the time of Toussaint and
Dessalines; and as they were effectual, and tended highly to augment
those sources of national wealth, it displayed great discernment and
discretion in Christophe to adopt them as part of his code.

With this shield for the executive administration of the government,
Christophe began to exact a due observance of all those measures
likely to be beneficial to his country. He enforced attention to
agriculture, encouraged commerce with foreigners, whom he led to his
ports by extensive purchases of their commodities to supply the wants
of his government, and he made rapid strides towards the advancement
of education by establishing schools for the instruction of youth,
and by inviting men of learning and talents from all countries, for
the purpose of presiding at the head of the institutions which he had
formed for the promotion of science. His regulations unquestionably
display sound views of policy, which ought to have ensured the welfare
of the country, together with the security and happiness of its people.

It has been often asserted that the negroes are as capable of receiving
instruction in morality, religion, and every branch of science, as
the people of any other nation or colour. This I shall not attempt
to deny; but it may not be improper to say that very few instances
have yet been adduced to support such a theory, and that Hayti is
an illustration of the contrary being the fact; for with all the
advantages, with all the opportunities which Christophe afforded his
people to improve their minds, and to seek for knowledge in the various
branches of science, very few indeed have been found who have raised
themselves above mediocrity, whilst thousands have been found incapable
of tuition, or have rejected instruction altogether.

Mazeres, in speaking of them, says, “The negro is only a grown child,
shallow, light, fickle, thoughtless, neither keenly sensible of joy or
of sorrow, improvident, without resources in his spirits or his soul.
Careless, like other sluggards; rest, singing, his women, and his
dress form the contracted limits of his taste. I say nothing of his
affections, for affections, properly so called, are too strong for a
soul so soft, so inactive as his.”[6]

On the subject of public instruction, which, the same writer contends,
can never be introduced into Hayti, because there cannot be found
people to comprehend its true virtues, he says, “There cannot be
found throughout the dominions of Christophe ten men who can read
fluently; and there certainly cannot be found one sufficiently learned
to comprehend the meaning of the words military tactics, geography,
mathematics, fortification, &c.”

Mazeres is certainly not altogether wrong; his observations in the
first paragraph are correct, with the exception of his opinion of
the affections of the negro. It must, I think, be admitted that the
affections of the negro race are somewhat warm and unalloyed; and in
no instance are they so feelingly illustrated as in the solicitude
evinced by the negro for his offspring. To his children his attachment
is strong and unalienable; and he displays it on leaving his home with
the greatest fervour, and on his return with every mark of gratitude
and joy. Mazeres would wish to sink the affections of the negro to
a condition below the instinct of the brute creation; but that he
is wrong I can pronounce from experience, not only in Hayti, but in
other quarters in which that species of the human race exists. In
his second paragraph, he has gone too far in saying, not “ten men
can read fluently”; but if he had asserted that, at the period of
the revolution, when the first acts of rebellion commenced, a few
only could “read fluently,” I think he would not have been wrong,
for I do not find that among the blacks, at that period, any were
at all learned, or had any skill or knowledge in those branches of
science which he particularizes. This is exemplified in Toussaint,
Dessalines, and Christophe, not one of whom, at the commencement
of the struggle, had been instructed in even the common branches of
education. Dessalines in particular could neither read nor write, with
the simple exception of signing his name. All the three chiefs were
indebted to foreigners for the elegant style of language in which
their proclamations were written; and it is too great a stretch of
vanity and egotism to attribute them to the citizens of the country,
when it is so notorious that most of those papers which issued from
the bureau of Christophe, and from the bureau of Count Limonade, were
written by Europeans, whom the former had admitted into his confidence,
and who were consulted by the latter on all occasions of importance.
Baron Dupuy was doubtless a man well qualified for the office he held
as secretary to the king (Christophe), and to whom has been given
the credit of many of the state papers of his sable majesty, and I
know that such a compliment is no more than what is justly due to
his talents; but were he present, he would declare that he derived
the highest possible assistance, in his productions, from one or two
foreigners who were acquainted with the technicalities of official
correspondence, to which the Baron had not been accustomed, and who
therefore generally undertook to correct any part of it that required
such labour.

Baron de Vastey, who is a warm advocate for the genius and talents of
his countrymen, and exceedingly severe upon the opinion of Mazeres,
says, “See the grown children planning the construction of impregnable
fortresses, building palaces, calculating almanacks, possessing
black writers, poets, and ministers of state.” Now I really have not
been able to discover where these impregnable fortresses, planned by
Haytians, are to be found. I believe that when the Baron wrote there
was not one single fortification erected from the design of a Haytian;
they were the old works of the French repaired, where such repairs were
wanted. The Citadel Henry, or Fort Ferrier, is the only new fortress
of which I have heard, and that was not constructed from the design of
a Haytian, but from the plan of a British officer, from whom it takes
one of its appellations, Ferrier. The same thing is true with respect
to the palace Sans Souci. The only merit to which the Haytians can lay
claim, in the erection of these works, is the preparing the materials,
and the labour of carrying them to the spot on which they are built:
for the whole of those materials for building which could not be
obtained on the spot, were carried from other parts on the shoulders
of the people, and Christophe compelled blacks and browns, young and
old, boys and girls, of all ages and denominations of citizens, to
perform that labour which ought to have been performed by brutes.
Young and interesting girls were to be seen carrying bricks or boards
up the mountains, almost ready to sink under their loads, followed by
soldiers with fixed bayonets or the sabre; but on this subject both
De Vastey and Prince Saunders are silent. As to writers and poets, I
have only heard of those now mentioned, De Vastey and Larnders, except
Chandlatte, Count de Roziers, who, I imagine, being something of
poet-laureate to the king, governor-general of the play-house, prepared
pieces for representation, teeming with the most fulsome compliments to
the monarch’s virtues, and wrote sonnets to the peerless beauties of
the queen and the princesses. Here, I believe, ends the catalogue of
architects, poets, and writers of Hayti; and unless the Baron de Vastey
can adduce other proofs of Haytian capacities, I must be excused if
I still remain sceptical. I must wait to see what time and a further
intercourse with the world will accomplish; at present but little of
that improvement manifests itself which has been the subject of so much
praise and admiration. That the people of Hayti should improve, and
that society should become refined, I confess I wish may be realized,
but at this moment it is very distant from it.

Christophe was particularly anxious to improve the face of his country,
by making every exertion to divest it of all those appearances of
dilapidation effected during the war; and by commanding all the
nobility, and persons attached to the state, to erect magnificent
houses on their estates, and otherwise to ornament the plantations in
the vicinity of their residences, so as to give the whole an air of
grandeur equal, if not superior, to former times; but in this he did
not succeed, except in a few instances, the poverty of the people who
had been raised to their new dignities, putting it out of their power
to comply with his demand.

After the fall of Bonaparte in 1814, the ministers of Louis XVIII.
sent out commissioners to Hayti to try what could be accomplished by
a negotiation with the two chiefs on the subject of the admission
of France to the sovereignty of the island. By these emissaries an
indirect menace was held out, forgetting that by harsh measures no
good could be done. De Medina, who was the commissioner deputed to
Christophe, had served in the army of Toussaint, and afterwards
betrayed his cause and joined Le Clerc. Such an individual was
an object of considerable suspicion to Christophe, and from some
irregularity which ensued respecting the credentials of Medina, he was
arrested, and his papers seized. On the examination of the papers, it
was discovered that his aim was to excite insurrection and disorder
among the people, and endeavour to prevail upon them to recognize Louis
XVIII. as their sovereign, that monarch assuring them of his paternal
solicitude, and of his pledge that they should retain their property
and military rank.

Christophe brought Medina to trial, and he was found guilty by a
military tribunal of the charges which had been alleged against him.
He was committed to the prison of the Cape, and it was said died in
confinement; but no accounts were given afterwards respecting him, or
of the fate which befell him.

Monsieur Lavaysse, who seems to have been the chief commissioner, and
who had at the same time proceeded to Port au Prince, for the purpose
of carrying on a similar negociation with Petion, met with no better
success,—except that having been more cautious he avoided the fate of
Medina,—as that chief was well informed of the nature of his mission,
and was prepared to give a decided negative to the propositions of the
French crown; and the rejection of his proposals was conveyed to M.
Lavaysse in a way very flattering to him, nothing being evinced like
the passion or violence exhibited by Christophe during the progress of
these negociations.

I happened to be in Jamaica at the time of the arrival of the French
commissioners, who touched there on their passage for Hayti; and I was
often in company with Lavaysse after his return from his unsuccessful
mission, and I heard him speak in high terms of the conduct of
Petion for promptness and decision, whilst he was warm against the
harshness of Christophe. This however might have emanated from the
former offering to the French a pecuniary indemnity for his dominions,
although he would not recognize France as having the sovereignty;
whilst Christophe would receive no proposals from France on the one
hand, nor would he submit to any claim for pecuniary compensation on
the other.

After the failure of this mission, the French king declared officially
that Monsieur Lavaysse had exceeded the power which had been delegated
to him; but such a disavowal had no effect on the people, who were more
determined than ever to resist the admission of French influence into
the country. Other attempts were afterwards made, and commissioners
were appointed to proceed to Hayti, with powers from the king of
France; but although they proceeded round the island, and sent letters
on shore at different places, yet they received no attention, and
consequently they thought it advisable to give up the object of their
mission as impracticable; and I believe no attempt was afterwards made
during the sway of either of these chiefs.

As Hayti might then be considered perfectly secure of her independence,
and as a strong feeling pervaded the people of the north as well as
the south against the French, the two governments, although there had
not been any relations of amity established between them, proceeded in
the work of civilization and general improvement in their divisions,
without being apprehensive that their tranquillity would be interrupted
by the encroachments of either. Christophe was unquestionably, as has
been before observed, better qualified than his rival to govern a
people like the Haytians, from his being naturally of a determined
and resolute temper, and not to be alarmed by the consequences of his
measures, however tyrannical, harsh, or oppressive; and therefore,
aided as he was by men of capacity, he enforced so rigid a system of
government, and exacted from the people so complete a submission to
his will, that the north, over which he reigned, presented an aspect
of affairs quite different from that of the south. Agriculture was
smiling, the produce of the soil increasing considerably, whilst
commerce was making rapid progress, and bidding fair to become
equally advantageous to the state. Both contributed to the revenue,
making it sufficiently ample for all the exigences of government, and
consequently there were no calls upon the people of any importance in
the way of taxation.

The government of Petion, on the other hand, relapsed into a system
of relaxation which subsequently proved the bane of his country, and
ultimately brought upon him all those unhappy difficulties which
he experienced previously to his death. After he had permitted his
people to follow their own indolent inclinations, and indulge in the
propensities inherent in the negro race, he found it impossible to
prosecute measures for the advancement of the wealth and prosperity
of his country similar to those which his rival had so successfully
pursued. Agriculture had sunk to the lowest possible ebb, the
cultivators being allowed to follow their own inclinations. Instead
therefore of industry and a spirit of emulation displaying itself
through his dominions, scarcely any thing was to be seen but men and
their families indulging in idleness, and in those lusts and vices
which could only entail wretchedness on themselves, and poverty on
their country.

Although Petion had laws, doubtless, by which he might have enforced
from the people the cultivation of the soil, and prevented them leaving
their plantations, except on those days particularly enumerated,
yet he never seems to have attended to the spirit of the laws and
have insisted upon their due execution, but simply to have contented
himself with the mere letter, without in the least reflecting on the
serious consequences that would inevitably flow from his want of
that resolution and decision which formed so prominent a feature in
the character of Christophe. The mild and soft disposition of Petion
disqualified him to be the head of such a rude and untaught people as
those over whom he was appointed to preside. Far from possessing the
unrelaxing and unrelenting temper of his rival, he was kind, indulgent,
and humane. Over a country so disorganized, and over a people so prone
to every vicious propensity, and regardless of their own as well as
the public good, a man of more nerve, and not so sensible to the
finer feelings of our nature, would have been better calculated for
governing than President Petion, who, in the language of a writer
on his country, was said to be “of a sensible and humane character;
tutored in the schools of Europe, his mind has received an expansion
that fits him for the helm of government, and his exterior an address
that would distinguish him in a court. Ill suited perhaps to witness
scenes to which his station as a military commander exposes him in the
field of battle, the tear of sensibility often bedews his cheek at the
sight of slaughter, and though brave, enterprising, and bold, he values
more the responsive glow of a humane act than the crimsoned laurel he
has plucked from the brow of his adversary. He sighs at the purchase of
victory with the sacrifice of those subjects whom he loves: in short,
nothing can be more descriptive of his peculiar virtues than the motto
of an English artist at the foot of his portrait—‘Il n’a jamais fait
couler les larmes de personne.’”[7]

The character given of Petion by Mr. Walton, I have heard confirmed by
all classes of people in Hayti, and by those who are well versed in
the dispositions of their countrymen; whilst admitting it, however,
they were not backward in expressing their opinion that he was of
too easy and too lenient a temper to enforce those measures which
the exigences of the government so loudly and imperatively called
for. Through such leniency and indulgence, therefore, his country
relaxed to an alarming degree in both agriculture and commerce, and
he was driven, for the purpose of supplying the wants of government,
to means which, although they brought temporary relief, were finally
most baneful and ruinous. The revenue arising from the produce of the
soil was small, from his not enforcing the culture of it to that extent
which he might have done, considering the strength of the population;
and the imposts on foreign manufactures fell infinitely below his
estimation, from the reduction of the duties on British goods, and from
the little encouragement given to foreigners by the diminished means
of the people to purchase their commodities. Had he pursued the same
coercive system which his rival Christophe adopted; had he compelled
his people to cultivate their lands, by which his means of export would
have been much increased; and had he enforced from the proprietors of
the soil a strict attention to its cultivation, instead of allowing
them to indulge in the most sensual appetites which can disgust our
feelings, he would have aggrandized his country, and have raised it to
the summit of affluence and prosperity. Had he taught the people to
know artificial wants, and encouraged a desire for luxuries, he would
have increased the resources of his country, and the burthens of the
people would not have been heavier. The means for supporting the state
would have been indirect, and consequently would not have excited
any discontent; which his successor has experienced in no ordinary
a degree. From these sources, therefore, forming, as I believe they
do, the principal sources of revenue in all countries, he obtained
much less than the extent of his dominions led him to anticipate, and
consequently he became greatly involved, and was necessitated to devise
other means of supporting his government.

The first thing which was suggested was a fictitious or debased
currency, which in the opinions of most people is very little better
than swindling under the sanction of government; especially a
government like that of Petion, reduced to so low an ebb as to have
been without a dollar in its treasury, and without any ostensible
means of bettering its miserable condition, or adding to its pecuniary
means. Every country has probably a fictitious circulating medium, and
I shall not condemn it, or question its propriety, when the country is
capable of redeeming it at any specific period, or at its pleasure:
but when a country like Hayti has recourse to a debased currency,
it is very little better than an imposition. Petion was without the
means of raising money, even upon the demesnes of government, for the
exigences of the state, so that it was impossible for him to hold out
any security to the people, that his fictitious coin would be called
in at any distant period, unless he did so at a very large discount.
He issued in the first instance three millions of dollars in value in
pieces of metal, a composition of about nineteen parts of tin and one
part silver, and subsequently a further issue of a million of dollars
in value. This measure of temporary relief proved a serious injury to
his country, for it not only enabled him to carry on the business of
his government for a time without any calls on the people, which, in
its then impoverished condition, was exceedingly improvident, but it
was the occasion of a great consternation among the foreign merchants
whom he had induced to settle in his dominions, and who from great
apprehension of the consequences began to look around them and to
confine their commercial operations within very contracted limits.
They lost their confidence in the stability of the government, and
consequently, as their importations gradually fell off, the revenue
fell infinitely short of the anticipated returns.

He commenced also another system, which proved exceedingly injurious
to his finances, and I cannot see how he could have contemplated
any other result. For the encouragement of the agriculturists, the
government, whenever the price of the several products were low,
bought very largely of some of them, for the purpose of raising their
value, by which impolitic measure, they not only lost considerably by
their trading system, but it had a most pernicious effect in driving
foreigners out of the market, who would always cease to buy the
moment the government attempted to raise the market value beyond what
the value in the European markets warranted. Of these speculations of
the government I had some little knowledge in my mercantile capacity
in Jamaica, for it was through that island that most of Petion’s
government produce found its way to England; and on the estimated
value of it, very large sums in specie were sent to Port au Prince
from Jamaica, the moment the proper documents of its being shipped
were received. These measures of the government were exceedingly
injudicious, for it raised the price of their products so much above
the European markets, that the foreign merchants could not think
of touching them; and it finally proved the most injurious system
that could ever have been devised for upholding the exigences of any
government. Had he enforced those laws which had been passed for the
cultivation of the soil, and put all the estates of the government into
tillage, and conducted them upon a judicious principle of management,
as his rival Christophe had done in the north, all his wants would
have been supplied, the distresses under which he daily laboured would
have been averted, and his treasury, like Christophe’s, would have
been always liberally replenished, without obliging him to resort to
ways and means which proved in the end so injurious to him. It is
therefore evident that Petion was not calculated to govern a people
like the Haytians. His mildness of temper would never allow him to
adopt coercive measures to raise his country to opulence; he restrained
those who were disposed to insist on the cultivators doing their duty
as pointed out by the law for the encouragement of agriculture.

To this Christophe was the very reverse, for he not only called upon
the magistrates and other officers to see the law for the cultivation
of the soil rigidly executed, and take into custody all those who
committed the least breach, but, daily accompanied by his staff, he
absolutely rode personally to different parts to ascertain whether the
cultivators were doing their duty. He well knew those whom he had to
govern, and also that were he once to allow them to give way to their
love for indolence, it would in time become invincible, and therefore
he adhered to the old rule, that a preventive is better than a cure.
The consequences were, that from his system of coercion the calls of
his government were provided for, the people individually advanced
in wealth and security, and the cultivators, who would otherwise
have been in a state of sloth and misery, disease and wretchedness,
lived well, and were contented. The condition of cultivators under
Petion’s mild government, and under whom there was no such thing as
coercion, presented a striking and instructive contrast; indolent and
unconcerned, they passed their time like animals without the least
exertion, and without a thought beyond the supply of their immediate
wants; and those wants being provided for, they again sunk into
apathy and indifference. Lust and every vicious propensity obtained
an unlimited sway over them, and to feed their sensual appetites and
satiate their brutal passions seemed to form the only object which they
studied. Disease became prevalent, poverty accompanied it in all its
ravages, and a more wretched, miserable race of human beings could not
have been selected than might be seen in different parts of the country
over which the sensible and humane Petion ruled.

This was the state of the country over which Petion presided previously
to his death, which lamentable event took place on the 29th of
March, 1818, after an illness of no long duration, but attended with
circumstances that excited the greatest sympathy for his sufferings.
It was generally admitted that the state of his country had produced
an extraordinary depression of spirits, which no exertions of his
most intimate friends could remove. Medical aid became unavailing, he
lingered, but without, it appears, enduring any pain, and at last sunk
under the weight of accumulated distress of mind, brought on by the
deranged state of his finances and the impoverished condition of his
country. Petion was undoubtedly a good man, and greatly beloved by his
people, who valued him for his mild and inoffensive manners, and for
the courtly and unassuming conduct which he always manifested to every
one who approached him. The day on which he died the people assembled
in the square opposite to the government-house, waiting with the most
painful anxiety to learn if all hopes of his recovery had vanished, and
towards twelve o’clock at night, when the gun fired to announce that he
was no more, the cries and moans of all classes were heard through the
different streets as they were verging towards the square.

This was not the most dreadful part, nor that which excited the
greatest anxiety; those inhabitants who had experienced the changes
which had taken place during the time of Dessalines, and had seen
the massacres of that wretch, began to fear a similar catastrophe
during the interregnum, from the rude state of the negro population,
from their relaxed state of morals, and from a spirit of ungovernable
insubordination, fostered by the ill-judged mildness and leniency
of the late President. The foreign merchants were alarmed, and
apprehensive also of confusion as well as the probability of the
destruction of their property; their fears in this respect were
however fortunately unfounded, as nothing occurred which indicated
the least disposition towards hostility and molestation. Petion had
designed Boyer for his successor, who was immediately after his decease
accordingly declared President in the customary form, and took upon
himself the administration of the government.

At the death of Petion, Christophe indicated no wish to interfere with
the election of Boyer, who preserved the tranquillity of his dominions.
Christophe was still pursuing his system of aggrandizement, and had
realized a very large sum of money in his treasury, with which he
contemplated the purchase of the Spanish territory and to annex it
to his dominions; and for this purpose he had actually commenced a
negotiation through the agency of some powerful individuals in London.
This design unquestionably evinced great judgment, for it would have
given him a decided superiority over the southern government, and he
could have menaced all their points, and having a larger force would
have been able to make considerable impression on their principal posts
of defence; but his death, which took place in October 1820, put an
end to the negotiation, and established the union between the north
and south, uniting them in one government, designated “The Republic of
Hayti.”

The system pursued by Christophe had become too despotic for the
people; exceeding the bounds of prudence, his ambition had no limits,
and his tyranny and oppression became at last so insupportable that
neither the people nor his troops would any longer submit to his power
and caprice. A revolution ensued which began with the revolt of the
garrison of St. Marc, the commandant of which sent a courier to Boyer
to inform him of the event, and of the wish of the people to place
themselves under his government. Shortly after, the city of Cape
Haytian followed the example, and the troops were preparing to march
against Christophe who was confined by sickness at Sans Souci. His
guards now revolted, and finding all chance of escape impossible, he
shot himself with a pistol in his own chamber. His sons were killed
by the troops, as well as several of his officers of state who were
obnoxious to the people and the soldiers. His eldest son, it was said,
exhibited the most abject submission, and begged them to save his
life; whilst his youngest defended himself with great heroism, killing
several of the soldiers, but was at last cut down and shockingly
mangled.

His wife and daughters were spared through the interference of Boyer,
who sent them to Port au Prince by water, with instructions that they
should be particularly protected, and not disturbed by the citizens;
and after his return to the city, permission was given them to leave
the country, which they accepted, and sailed for England, where they
were received, by those persons who were admirers of Christophe, with
some respect and attention. A small estate was secured to them, and
Madame Christophe’s jewels, which were valuable, were restored to her,
and I have reason to believe that she is in possession of an income
which, although not splendid, is quite enough for the purposes of
genteel life. She was considered a good and humane woman, and often
softened the anger of her husband, who was addicted to sudden gusts
of passion, and to the infliction of punishment with unjust severity.
But notwithstanding his impetuosity of temper, he was the only man
who was competent to preside over a people in the state of ignorance
in which his subjects were. He not only possessed the discernment
necessary to discriminate between that which was advantageous to his
country and that which was injurious to his interest, but he had the
courage and resolution to enforce the one and prevent the other. Had
Christophe lived he would have raised his country in affluence and
in civilization, but his death has sunk the former, and retarded
the latter; and the people, now left to pursue with an unlimited
range their own propensities, will dwindle again into that condition
of ignorance which is characteristic of the early periods of the
revolution.



CHAPTER IX.

 Boyer elected president.—His character.—Revolution in the
 north—annexed to the south.—Revolution in Spanish part.—Union of
 the whole.—Measures pursued after.—Overtures to France.—Arrival
 of French fleet.—Negotiation and independence.—Baron
 Mackau.—Dissatisfaction prevails.—British consul-general.—Further
 dissatisfaction.—Determination not to pay the indemnity.—Voluntary
 loan attempted—it fails.—Observations on the inefficiency of
 government.—State of the military.—Naval force, etc.


JEAN PIERRE BOYER, who succeeded the late president, Petion, and who
consequently became chief of the countries of his predecessor and
of Christophe united, is a native of Port au Prince, and is about
forty-eight or fifty years of age. He is a mulatto, but somewhat darker
than the people of that class. His father, a man of good repute and
possessed of some wealth, was a store-keeper and a tailor in that city.
His mother was a negress of the Congo country in Africa, and had been
a slave in the neighbourhood. He joined the cause of the Commissioners
Santhonax and Polverel, with whom he retired, after the arrival of the
English, to Jacmel, when he joined General Rigaud, whom he accompanied
to France, after the submission of the south to the authority of
Toussaint. On his voyage thither he was captured by the Americans,
during the short dispute between France and the United States, and
after the adjustment of the differences between those two powers he
was released. Having resided in France some time, he, with many other
persons of colour, attached himself to the expedition of Le Clerc, and
accompanied that armament for the subjugation of the colony: but on the
death of that general, he joined Petion, who successively appointed him
to be his aid-de-camp, private secretary, chief of his staff, general
of the arrondissement of Port au Prince, and finally named him for his
successor in the presidential chair.

Boyer is below the middle size, and very slender; his visage is far
from being pleasing, but he has a quick eye, and makes a good use of
it, for it is incessantly in motion. His constitution is weak, and he
is afflicted with a local disease, which compels him to be exceedingly
abstemious. He is fond of parade and exterior ornaments, as is the
custom of the country, but he does not display his propensities for
them, except in compelling those of his staff and household to appear
in all their embellishments. He is but little seen among his people,
except on a Sunday, when he appears at the head of his troops, and
after reviewing them he rides through the city, attended by a cortége
of officers and guards. He is exceedingly vain of his person, and
imagines that it is attractive and captivating, and that his manners
are irresistible.

I shall now proceed to notice a few of the proceedings of Boyer after
his elevation to the supreme command in the republic.

I remarked in the last chapter, that the commander of the troops of
Christophe at St. Marc, on finding that his soldiers had determined on
a revolt, had sent to inform Boyer of the circumstance, and invited
him to proceed to that place and take possession of it. No sooner had
Boyer received this intimation than he made preparations to march
into the north. He took only a few troops, consisting of his horse
and foot guards, being aware that there would be no resistance to his
advance, and that the people were ready to submit to him without any
opposition. This was pleasing to the president, who, as it has been
observed before, never shewed any disposition for hostile measures,
and that fighting was a trade to which he was unaccustomed, and for
which he had no predilection. On his arrival at St. Marc, he received
the submission of the inhabitants, and was joined by the revolted
troops of Christophe; and he also received information of the death
of that chief, and that General Paul Romain, Prince du Limbé, had
declared for the republic. He had therefore nothing to apprehend from
any interruption likely to be given to his advance. On the 21st of
October, 1820, he entered Gonaives, which received him without any
opposition, and on the 22d he proceeded for the city of Cape Haytian,
and the capital of Christophe, the inhabitants of which had made great
preparations to receive him; he entered it the same night at the head
of 20,000 men, and on the 26th he was proclaimed president of the
north. General Romain called upon the people to receive the president
with every demonstration of joy, and to acknowledge the people of
the south as true Haytians and brothers, with the usual salutations
of “Long live the Republic of Hayti!” “Independence, Liberty, and
Equality!” and “President Boyer!”

After the first acclamations of the people had in some measure
subsided, Boyer, by the advice of his officers and the chief people of
the north, began to make such arrangements for incorporating the north
with the southern government as were requisite and imperative for the
better administration of the united districts. The troops of Christophe
were also removed from their stations to others in the south, whilst
those of the south, in some cases, succeeded them: and those general
officers who had taken prominent parts in bringing about the revolution
were confirmed in their rank; but as the government was republican, all
distinctions of title were abolished, and the designation of citizen
was adopted, as in the south. Some of those who were raised to titles
by Christophe, and had survived the revolution, were well pleased to be
disrobed of the trappings of nobility, because it entailed upon them
an expenditure beyond their scanty means. The Baron Dupuy told me that
he was pleased with the designation of citizen, whilst the appellation
of baron had always sounded disagreeably to him. Noble distinctions,
he said, suited those only whose conduct was noble, and who had by
their virtues truly earned them. For his part he was not aware that
he had accomplished any thing that ought to have raised him above his
fellow-citizens. There is reason to fear that the Baron Dupuy was the
only man in Hayti possessing such modest and unassuming ideas.

After the events of the revolution in the north, and the arrangements
for the government of that district had been completed, Boyer made
preparations for his return to Port au Prince. Elated with success,
and vain of what he termed his unexampled career of glory derived
from the downfall of his rival chief, he signified a wish that his
entrance into the city of government should be attended with some
pomp and demonstrations of joy suitable to the occasion. Accordingly,
those of his suite who knew that nothing could be more gratifying to
the president than show and parade, prepared for a triumphant entry,
and at the northern gate an arch was constructed and ornamented with
a variety of devices celebrating his victory. But it having been
communicated to Boyer anonymously, that some disaffected individuals
were conspiring to shoot him as he passed through this arch, he arrived
at the government house by a circuitous route, before the whole was
completed, and without the knowledge of the populace. He began to make
some inquiry respecting the intelligence he had received, but it was
soon suspended, as it was suggested by his chief officers that he would
be acting wisely not to prosecute it further, as it might tend to fan
the flame of disaffection rather than smother it.

The union of the north effected by this revolution, did not seem at
all gratifying to the people of the south, as they had imbibed a great
dislike to the inhabitants under Christophe’s government, from the
civil feuds that had existed, and by which their lives and property had
so often been in jeopardy.

The revolution in the north was followed by a similar event in the
eastern or Spanish part, which took place at the end of the succeeding
year. The first symptoms of the latter manifested itself in the city
of Santo Domingo, the capital of the east. A deputation formed of the
principal inhabitants waited on President Boyer at Port au Prince, and
tendered the submission of the people of the east to the republic, and
soliciting that their country might be incorporated with it.

Boyer no sooner received the communications of the deputies, than
he began to march a force towards the Spanish frontiers, which he
immediately followed with his staff; the whole as they advanced
receiving on their route the congratulations of the inhabitants and
expressions of good will and prosperity to the republic. In the Spanish
part at this time there were a great many of the Haytians who had
taken up their residence as cultivators, and had made some progress in
their little plantations; these with the people of colour formed the
largest proportion of the inhabitants; and when the measure of union
with their western islanders was first suggested by the leading men in
the city of Santo Domingo, a ready acquiescence was shewn by them, and
a wish expressed that it should be proposed to Boyer without delay. On
the arrival of the president in the city, the people displayed their
satisfaction at being united to his government, and he with the same
manifestations of pleasure assured them of his protection and good
will. Such arrangements as were adviseable for the future government of
the east were made without much delay, and General Borjellas was left
in command of the city, and to carry into effect those plans which had
been determined upon by the president and the people.

By the annexation of the eastern part therefore, the whole island
became subject to one government. From Cape Tiburon to Cape Samana, and
from Cape Nicolas Mole to Cape Engano, the power of Boyer extended,
leaving no competitor to disturb his arrangements, nor to attempt to
defeat those views which he contemplated for the preservation and
repose of his dominions.

That a work of such magnitude should have been accomplished in so short
a period, and without even the loss of blood and lives, seems more
like the effect of magic than the result of the efforts of man; and so
exceedingly vain was Boyer of the event, that he was known to declare
that he thought himself like Bonaparte, and that he was endowed with
almost supernatural power, and an agent of the Divine will to scourge
those who had previously oppressed the people. He believes nothing
to be the result of chance, or the effect of time and misrule; and
arrogates to himself the capacity of accomplishing any thing which he
may design and wish to execute.

After having reduced the whole island quite under his subjection, it
was thought that Boyer would take into his immediate consideration
its condition so far as regarded agriculture, commerce, and finance;
and that he would resort to wise and judicious means by which the
prosperity of the whole would be greatly promoted: that he would
infuse a spirit of emulation into the cultivators, because there was
nothing to interrupt their tranquillity, and they might pursue their
labour unmolested and undisturbed. But this was not done; he seemed
to be quite insensible to the good effects that would result from
the encouragement of agricultural labour; and his people became so
perfectly obstinate and indolent, that nothing could be obtained from
them. Commerce also, which in the time of Petion began to decline,
grew worse, and as the country produced but little, the people had the
means of supplying but few wants: in fact it appeared very evident
that Boyer wished to adopt a system of governing different from that
which had been pursued by any of his predecessors. His plan has been to
keep his people ignorant of artificial wants. By this means he expects
the more easily to obtain from the produce of the soil the supplies
required for the wants of government: in this he persists against
all the suggestions of those persons who are capable of pointing out
the disadvantages that must accrue from this line of policy. Finding
his wants great, and that he had no means of supplying them from the
products of the soil, or from the revenue arising from his commercial
intercourse, he was driven to a fresh issue of debased coin, and to the
project of working the mines in the different parts of his dominions,
forgetting that the finest mine which Hayti possessed was in that soil,
the very rich and productive quality of which was the theme of every
man’s praise. Nothing can shew greater ignorance than considering gold
and silver as real, instead of artificial wealth; or greater folly
than exploring mines, whilst agriculture is neglected. The issue of the
debased coin must, some time or other, be attended with all those evils
which the inability to redeem it at its full value will inevitably
bring on, and particularly in a country the inhabitants of which are
in that very backward state of knowledge, where its expediency,—if
it could be expedient to resort to an issue of it,—was beyond their
conception, or the nature of the loss caused by it beyond their
comprehension.

Another of Boyer’s inconsistent projects was his scheme for inducing
France to recognize the independence of his country. Of all the
impolitic measures devised by man, this certainly must stand preeminent
for its folly; by his countrymen it must be deprecated as a wild
scheme which will, in all probability, involve the republic in many
difficulties. It is well known that on the 1st of January, 1804, Hayti
was declared to be independent, since which period no attempts had
been made, or steps taken by the government of France to reclaim it,
except the visit of the commissioners in 1814, whose mission Louis the
XVIIIth declared was undertaken without the authority of the crown,
and consequently disavowed. So that in point of fact no attempt had
been made by France to reassert its sovereignty over the island. Having
therefore been independent de facto for twenty-one years, and having,
by repeated proclamations of the several chiefs of government, and more
particularly in the fulsome gasconades of Boyer himself, exhibited
an unshaken spirit of hostility against French influence and French
dominion, is it not the most unaccountable occurrence in the annals of
almost any country, that overtures should have been made to France, to
recognize an independence already established and tacitly admitted?
Could any man in his senses, or set of men, have been so divested of
all reason, judgment, or penetration? And is it not a circumstance
unparalleled in the political history of any country in the world? But
it is a fact, that the government of Hayti did in May, 1824, send two
agents, Rouanney and La Rose, senators, to Paris, to negotiate for the
recognition of the independence of their country, openly and avowedly
admitting by it, that France still held the sovereignty over it, and
that it was to all intents and purposes a colony, and an appendage to
that crown. These agents were empowered to offer a very large pecuniary
consideration, one hundred millions of francs, with certain privileges
of trade over other nations; but the offer was rejected, and the agents
ordered to quit the country without delay. The French cabinet had now
got the thoughtless Haytian in the toil, and was determined to secure
him; and no sooner was it known in France that Boyer had granted to
an English company the privilege of working the mines in the eastern
part of his dominions, and that other operations of a commercial nature
would be connected with it, than a fleet of fourteen sail of the line
was despatched under the command of Admirals Jarien and Grivel, for the
purpose of reducing the Haytians to submission, and compelling them to
acknowledge France as holding a sovereign right over them, or to accept
of such terms for the recognition of their independence as should be
tendered.

In this fleet sailed the Baron Mackau, an officer in the French navy,
to whom was confided the business of the negotiation on the part of
the French king; and certainly no man was better qualified for such an
important trust. It would indeed have been impossible for any one to
have displayed more adroitness and diplomatic skill, or have executed
his mission with more satisfaction to his country: in fact, to use a
nautical phrase, he got the weather-gage of the conceited Haytian.

The baron, it appears, was not altogether confined to pacific measures,
for on his arrival in the harbour of Port au Prince the fleet shewed
symptoms of active work being in embryo, unless the Haytians were
disposed to submit to such terms as might be offered. The admirals
moored their ships very judiciously abreast of the city, by which
means, if hostilities were unavoidable, they might be able to make such
an impression on it, as should alarm the people, and strike at once a
decisive blow against their capital. From the untenable state of the
several batteries and forts, any attempt at defence would have been
unavailing, for it is evident that one line-of-battle ship could have
demolished the whole. The appearance of such a formidable force before
the city excited terror and consternation; the object it had in view
was unknown, and it was unlooked for; and from the weak and defenceless
condition of the city, every thing seemed hopeless.

The president, all his officers of state, his troops, and the
inhabitants were alike in amazement; and his _excellency_, instead of
setting an example of confidence, and exhibiting that spirit which,
as the head of his country, he ought to have displayed, to rouse the
energies of his people for defence, sunk into a half stupor, and
absolutely shut himself up in his chamber, or closet, with his mistress
and her children. His officers looked at each other like men bereft
of reason through sudden fright; and the troops—those soldiers who
were to _brave every difficulty, and defy the whole world_,—stood
motionless, fearing that every moment would bring the signal of
attack from their enemy. The women and children were sent off into
the mountains in irregular droves, resembling the flight of a scared
multitude, some with such articles as they could carry, and others
without any thing. Upon the whole it is impossible to describe the
panic which the arrival of the French occasioned; and I think I may
venture to assert, that President Boyer will take great care that the
Haytian historians shall not record the event during his sway, lest
they be too minute in particularizing the conspicuous part he bore, and
the bravery which he displayed!

When the whole fleet was safely moored, two officers of the president’s
staff were despatched on board to the commander-in-chief to ascertain
the object of their arrival, and they returned to the president
with communications from Baron Mackau, explaining the nature of the
mission with which he was entrusted, assuring him that it was entirely
pacific, and that his master, the King of France, actuated by the
most philanthropic motives, and in the spirit of the overtures which
President Boyer had previously made, had been induced to appoint him
as his representative to carry into effect such arrangements with
his subjects of Saint Domingo, touching the recognition of their
independence, as should be consistent with the dignity of his crown
and the interests of his people. When this was announced to Boyer, he
recovered somewhat from the alarm into which he had been thrown, and
once more put on an appearance of confidence and resolution. When he
heard that the object of the mission was conciliatory, and that hostile
measures might be averted by submission to such propositions as might
be offered, his mind became tranquil, and he at once determined, _and
his brave officers applauded him for his decision, not to draw his
sword_, but rather to try the effects of supplication on the sensible
mind of the French diplomatist.

The next day Baron Mackau landed under a salute from the forts, and
proceeded to the government-house, where he was received by the
president, surrounded by the great officers of state and those of his
staff. The same evening he was closeted with the president and the
secretary-general Inginac for a considerable time, and entered upon
the subject of his mission. They came to no conclusion that night, but
the interview seemed to have been broken off somewhat abruptly and
unsatisfactorily to the baron, who was necessitated to demand a prompt
decision, or he should be obliged to resort to those measures for which
he was so amply provided. The same night, and immediately after the
departure of the baron to his hotel, a conference took place at the
bureau of the president between the secretary-general, some members
of the senate, and himself on the subject of the propositions, and it
was determined that another interview should take place the next day
at the secretary-general’s house, and that he should be deputed to
make such arrangements as the exigence of affairs required. The baron
acquiesced in the appointed meeting, and accordingly prepared himself
to meet the secretary-general, but without any disposition to relax in
those demands which he had made the night previous. The French cabinet,
it must be remarked, had provided the baron with ordonnances of
different degrees of propositions, already prepared for presentation,
acceptation, and signature, and with these he proceeded to the place
of interview, first presenting that which was most favourable for his
country, and lastly, the one which the secretary-general Inginac, in
the name of the republic, deemed it adviseable to accept, and by which,
should its several clauses not be complied with, Hayti is admitted to
be a colony of France. The ordonnance is dated in Paris on the 17th of
April, 1825, and signed by the king, and sets forth, that the ports in
the _French part of St. Domingo_ shall be open to the commerce of all
nations; that the French ships and merchandize shall be admitted into
the _French part_ on paying only half the duties exacted from other
nations, and the same on the exports thence; that the _inhabitants
of the French part of Saint Domingo_ agree to pay, in five annual
instalments, the sum of one hundred and fifty millions of francs as an
indemnity for the losses of the ancient colonists; and that when the
conditions of this ordonnance are fulfilled _the French part of Saint
Domingo_ is declared independent. When this ordonnance is particularly
considered, it will be seen that France has been admitted to the
sovereignty of Hayti, and that President Boyer when he accepted it,
recognized in Charles the Xth his future sovereign, at once declaring
himself to be only the nominal representative of that monarch, and
by the most extraordinary weakness and precipitancy assigns over the
independence of his country, at once annulling that constitution framed
by his predecessors, which says, “never again shall a colonist or an
European set his foot upon this territory with the title of master or
proprietor.”

The negotiations having been concluded on the 8th of July, preparations
were made for proclaiming their _independence_ on the 11th, and a
great deal of ceremony and parade attended it. The people of Port au
Prince exulted at the idea of being now placed beyond the possibility
of disturbance in their persons and property; but such exultation was
confined to the city alone in which the celebration of the event was
to take place. Throughout the whole island, and particularly the north
and south, the intelligence was received with great murmurings, and the
negro cultivators began to apprehend that they had been sold to the
French for the purpose of reestablishing slavery. At Cape Haytien in
particular the people shewed the strongest symptoms of a disposition
to revolt, and in the neighbourhood all was ripening for resisting the
measures of the government. Boyer was informed of it, and so powerful
did it appear, that he immediately ordered troops to advance for the
purpose of awing the people into an acquiescence in the arrangements
which had been made. He succeeded in doing so; but although he
discovered the principals and seized them, yet fearing the consequences
that were likely to ensue from bringing them to trial, he only directed
them to be banished to the south, confining the limits of their place
of exile to the vicinity of Jacmel.

A general officer, who commanded one of the southern arrondissements,
demanded from the secretary-general, Inginac, the cause of so
disgraceful a concession on the part of President Boyer, and
declared that it was cowardly and treacherous to the people. The
secretary-general replied, “that it was impossible to do otherwise, as
the French fleet lay off the city, and if the president had not acceded
to the ordonnance, the destruction of the city would have followed, and
then what would have become of our wives and children, our properties
and the republic?” The general, who was a negro, with a look of the
greatest indignation, immediately asked the secretary-general “if
President Boyer and himself considered the city of Port au Prince alone
the republic; and if that city had fallen into the hands of their
enemies, whether there were not other places in which they might have
taken refuge, rather than have submitted to the disgrace of such an
unprecedented treaty?” After the spirited declaration of the negro
general, it was intimated to him that his presence was particularly
required at his place of command.

There were several fêtes given in Port au Prince to Baron Mackau and
the French officers, all of which were only remarkable for the fulsome
compliments which flowed from the respective parties. The French, who
six months before were execrated by the people, were received with
every appearance of esteem by those who had taken an active part in
these transactions. The ears of strangers were continually beset by
persons engaged by the President to cry through the streets, “Vive
Charles the Xth!” “Vive le Dauphin de France!” “Vive la France!” “Vive
Haïti!” “Vive le President d’Haïti!” “Vive l’Indépendence!”

Baron Mackau seems to have had a perfect knowledge of the people to
whom he had been sent, for he dealt out his flattery with no unsparing
hand, and the avidity with which Boyer swallowed it excited no little
surprise among the French, and became the subject of general talk with
all classes of people, Haytians and foreigners. Their noble struggle
against Le Clerc, and their courage and virtues, were continually
the subjects of the baron’s praise; at other times, the progress and
improvement in the various branches of knowledge which the people had
made, and above all, the high talents of Boyer, his discernment and
discretion, and his many good and noble qualities.

The negotiation for independence having been arranged, it was
necessary, before the whole could be concluded, that commissioners
should forthwith be sent to France for the final adjustment of some
differences which could not be provided for in the preliminary treaty,
and for the raising of money by a loan for the payment of the first
instalment of the indemnity. The persons appointed for the mission
were, Mons. Rouanney, a senator, who had been employed in the previous
mission, Mons. Daumec, a lawyer, and Colonel Frémont, aid-de-camp of
the President. Daumec, the only man possessed of the least talent, was
taken ill on his passage to France, and died soon after his arrival in
that country. The duty therefore devolved on the other two, who were
incompetent for the management of the important charge with which they
were entrusted, and their execution of it confirmed such a conclusion.
Rouanney was perhaps as little calculated for diplomacy as any person
that could have been selected—he is a weak and superficial character,
a compound of vanity and presumption; and Frémont could only have been
nominated to display the splendour of the Haytian military costume, and
to shew to the good people of France the magnificence of the court of
the redoubtable President of Hayti!

They failed in their mission, for they were unable to determine on any
question that was submitted by the French for their consideration,
and consequently the cabinet of France was driven to the alternative
of tendering to them the basis of a definitive treaty comprising
twenty-one articles, with which they were ordered to return to Hayti,
and to lay it before their government for approval or rejection. Their
return excited no little astonishment; and when the document of which
they were the bearers was presented to Boyer, he was anxious to accept
it, but his council, it appears, and the secretary-general, Inginac,
decidedly opposed it, alleging that if it were received it would be
compromising the honour and independence of the republic; for it was a
strange anomaly, and bore no analogy to a definitive treaty of peace,
but in all its relative parts had a resemblance to a convention between
a king and his rebellious subjects. Boyer therefore, much against his
inclination, rejected the treaty, but intimated to the French cabinet
his sincerity in wishing that such a treaty had been concluded as
would be reciprocally advantageous, and establish a good understanding
between the two countries. He also pledged himself to conform to the
terms of the ordonnance of the French king, by the admission of the
ships of France chargeable with reduced duties, and by providing for
the payment of the indemnity at the respective periods at which the
instalments became due.

With respect to the loan for paying the first instalment that fell
due on the 31st of December following, the commissioners, Rouanney
and Frémont, seem to have been totally ignorant of the nature and
effect of such a negotiation. They appear to have been in a maze from
the attractions of Paris, and their understandings—if they ever had
any—warped by the influence of French intrigue, for they concluded
a contract, that not only exhibited the greatest absurdity, but one
that would entail a most extraordinary loss upon their country by its
redemption; a loan that has excited the risibility of the moneyed men
who had a share in its negotiation, and has displayed the incapacity
of the persons selected by the Haytian government to represent it in a
measure of so much importance.

Such was the state into which Boyer had thrown the republic by his weak
and most improvident policy, and it required some skill and ingenuity
to avert the evil likely to ensue from it, for dissatisfaction began to
be prevalent. From the press of Hayti being under the censorship of the
government, the proceedings with France relative to the recognition of
independence were not known in many parts of the country, particularly
amongst the cultivators of the interior. Although forming the largest
proportion of the people, they had no knowledge of the conditions on
which the French had acceded to the recognition, until the members of
the chamber of communes returned to the several parishes which they
represented, and explained the whole of the measures pursued by the
president. No sooner was it made known that the French were to receive
one hundred and fifty millions of francs as an indemnity to the old
colonists, and that the ships of France were to be admitted on half
duties, than a general murmur of disgust was heard, and the members
of the communes were most justly censured for having countenanced an
act which would entail upon them endless trouble and anxiety. The idea
of paying so large a sum, or even any money at all, for so insecure
a boon as that of the recognition by France, was declared to be of
all acts the most absurd and inconsistent; and to admit them besides
to a privilege of trade more favourable than that which was conceded
to England, which had always been constant in her intercourse, was
deprecated as a measure which was likely to bring down upon them the
displeasure of that government, particularly as the President had, only
but a very short time previous to his abject submission to France, most
unwisely abrogated the law of Petion which admitted the manufactures
and produce of Great Britain into the ports of the republic at lower
rates of duty than those of other countries.

Such being the impression upon the generality of the people, they
hesitated not to say, that the admission of the indemnity to France
as a national debt by the legislative bodies was not binding upon
the people; for as they had gained their independence by one of the
greatest struggles in modern times, and as they had supported it at the
expense of a great deal of blood, and as it had become indisputable
from twenty-one years’ possession, they could only consider such
conduct on the part of President Boyer as the effect of weakness and
that want of energy and decision which ought to be conspicuous in
the head of any government; and therefore that they were determined
to resist any levies that might be attempted for raising the amount
of the instalments out of their properties. In this predicament was
Boyer placed, and it was made the more awkward to him from the cry of
his people, “for arrangements with England,” and “give the English
privileges, and down with privileges to France.” They were sensible,
they said, that the British government would have protected them
against the enemies of their peace and independence; but now, from the
precipitancy of their own rulers, they were no better than a colony
of France again; and that England could not hold out to them any
expectation of support, unless she embroiled herself in a war with her
neighbouring state.

Finding such to be the feelings of the people, Boyer had recourse
to an expedient which he thought would appease their irritation,
and once more soften them to an approval of his conduct. He made
indirect overtures to the British government, and afterwards a direct
communication, to know if it were the intention of the King of England
to recognize the independence of his country, as the King of France
had been induced to do; but no assurances were received, further
than that his Majesty, for the protection of British commerce in the
republic of Hayti, contemplated to send out consuls to that country to
preside over the interests of British subjects; and that if the Haytian
government had any proposals to offer, on which a treaty of commerce
could be entered into upon a reciprocal basis, it would receive that
attention which the nature of it demanded. This disposition of the
British government was no sooner known in Hayti,—and I had been the
bearer of it to Boyer—than the people manifested the highest symptoms
of joy and satisfaction, declaring that they were now at the acme of
their wishes. Boyer found it an act of prudence to express similar
feelings of pleasure, though he secretly hated the English, and would
have submitted to any sacrifice rather than have seen them triumphant
in the opinions of the people; Inginac, the secretary-general, was not
only gratified at the intelligence, but shewed openly that this was
the nearest wish to his heart, and as he had always been much attached
to the English from having had a good deal of intercourse with them,
there was no event from which he could derive so much satisfaction and
happiness as to see the representative of the commerce of Great Britain
land upon their shores. The inhabitants of the country considered this
as a tacit admission of their independence by Great Britain, and Boyer
encouraged such an opinion.

It was, indeed, extraordinary to see the people running towards the
government-house to congratulate Boyer when the intelligence was first
made public, and the respectable citizens congratulate each other
with the most happy countenances, as they were likely to be secured
in the enjoyment of their properties. That their country would now
prosper, and advance in wealth and consequence when recognized by the
crown of England, seemed to them certain; and they hailed it as an
event of the highest importance to their interests and to their future
aggrandizement.

From the moment of its being announced that the British government had
come to the determination of sending out a consul-general to Hayti,
Boyer’s officers of state and the people in general manifested the
greatest solicitude for his appearance; a solicitude, emanating from a
great sense of the importance which they attached to it. The president
suppressed his feelings, whatever they might have been; but at times
he could not resist the temptation of condemning the delay which
intervened between the appointment of the consul and his departure
from England; and he was often heard to say, that he questioned the
sincerity of the British cabinet respecting such intentions, and
that he believed it to be only a ruse de commerce. The inhabitants,
however, were of a different opinion; they knew the integrity of the
British government, and were confident that its commerce would not be
neglected, but promoted and extended wherever it could be accomplished.
Under this conviction they began to consult each other, and take into
consideration in what manner they should best evince their joy, and
shew those marks of respect to which a consul from England was so
justly entitled.

It was determined by them to receive him on his landing with shouts
and acclamations, and to conduct him to his hotel, accompanied by the
most opulent and powerful of the citizens, and that the city should
be illuminated; but when their plans were communicated to Boyer by
the _presidential spies_, he had it made known indirectly that such
manifestations of their pleasure would not only be irregular, but that
he should feel it as an insult offered to himself, as he had not been
consulted on its propriety, nor applied to for his permission.

On the 25th of May, the consul-general and his suite arrived in his
Majesty’s ship Druid, Captain Chambers; but as she did not appear off
the harbour till nearly dark, she was not recognised by the government
officers, and consequently did not salute before the following morning,
when it was returned by the forts, which was the only demonstration
of respect offered by the Haytian authorities on his arrival. Nay,
President Boyer could not conceal his antipathy, nor restrain his
dislike to the English, even though he perceived that the presence of
the British mission had a strong tendency to reconcile all classes
of his citizens to his impolitic measures. He individually neglected
even to congratulate the consul on his arrival; he did not pay him the
common civility of sending one of his aides-de-camp to express himself
friendly to the object of his visit, as was the case on the arrival
of the French consul-general, to whom he sent two of his staff to
offer him _the assurances of his high consideration and esteem_. The
consul-general of England was only visited by a subaltern of artillery
on the staff of General Inginac, and the general was absolutely
precluded paying a higher compliment to him by the positive orders
of Boyer; by the express order of that very man who would have been
subjected to the animadversions, if not the hatred, of his citizens,
had not the British government sent out a representative to give them
something like an appearance of protection against the intrigues
of France. He would no doubt have set the whole of his citizens in
a ferment, had it not been prevented by the timely arrival of the
British consul-general, when their animosity and irritation seemed to
have been softened by the gratification of seeing the British ensign
proudly waving from a British man-of-war.

The consul-general, Mr. Charles Mackenzie, a gentleman of the most
refined and accomplished manners, and possessing talents of the highest
order, received all this contumely with the most perfect indifference,
attributing it to a very just cause. He knew that Boyer was secretly
attached to the French, that he cordially disliked the British, that
he had arranged with the French for the purpose of giving that nation
influence and privileges in Hayti, and that any intercourse with
England was forced upon him by his people. He knew also that Boyer was
not the individual he was represented to be; that he possessed neither
enlarged nor cultivated ideas, and had no correct knowledge of the
world; and consequently, from these circumstances, he very judiciously
put down all that show of neglect on the part of the government to its
proper account, ignorance.

It is necessary now to advert to the proceedings of Boyer after his
arrangements with France, and to see what steps he took to provide
for the necessities of the government, brought on in a very increased
proportion by the improvident measures which he had pursued.

In the first place, he called upon the legislative body to sanction
his treaty with France, to admit it to have been both expedient and
unavoidable, from the situation into which the republic was thrown by
the unlooked-for appearance of the French armament on their shores, and
finally, by their entrance into the harbour of Port au Prince, before
any preparations for defence could be made. No one entertained any
doubt respecting the issue of this question; every person who knew how
the legislative body was constituted was aware that it would meet with
their acquiescence, that no member would have the temerity to offer his
dissent, and that it would pass nem. con. In fact, there was no debate
upon the question; the measure was proposed, and passed three times in
one day.

Another important question also, submitted by the president, was the
indemnity promised to France. He called upon them to declare it a debt
of the nation, and to devise such means as would enable him to meet and
liquidate it at the periods when the respective instalments became due.
This met with some trifling opposition, but was however carried, and
immediately promulgated on the plea that the honour of the republic and
its credit would be compromised were it not most rigidly and strictly
complied with.

When it was known through the country that the representatives of
the people had acceded to these two propositions of the president,
the inhabitants began to express themselves in language easily to be
understood, and to declare that they would not submit to be burthened
with the indemnity to France, and that on no consideration whatever
would they contribute towards its liquidation, it never having met with
their concurrence: that they never wished the recognition of their
independence by France, and in fact that the whole of the proceedings
of the government, with regard to the negotiations with that power,
ought to be universally execrated by every citizen in the republic;
and when it was further known that an act had passed to compel each
arrondissement to pay its proportion as pointed out under the law, they
strongly expressed their determination to resist a levy which they were
neither willing nor able to raise.

I had an opportunity of knowing the sentiments of the people on this
subject, from a communication made to me by several of the most opulent
of the planters in the south-western part of the republic, and it was
made without any feeling of hostility entertained on their part towards
the government; but they declared that the small cultivators, and
others composing the great mass of the population of their district,
were so exasperated at the concession of such privileges to their
enemy, that they were confident that no force could compel them to
pay their quota of the indemnity, and that resorting to compulsory
measures would only infuriate them so much more.

The government from every quarter received the most unfavourable
intelligence respecting the impression which their measures for raising
this indemnity had made, and the irritability which it had excited; it
was therefore deemed advisable to try if it were possible to raise one
or two of the instalments by voluntary loans, to be redeemed in thirty
years, and to bear an interest of six per cent. on the stock at par.
If this could have been accomplished, the compulsory measure would not
have been enforced, and the law would have remained a dead letter; but
the attempt proved unsuccessful. The people had no confidence in the
government, and although every officer of the state contributed, and
even some British merchants, yet they could not raise three hundred
thousand dollars, and even that sum has not been paid into the treasury.

Many citizens, on being applied to, to aid the contribution, declined
to render any assistance to a measure which they declared to be
pregnant with the most pernicious consequences; for they had, they
said, no hesitation in avowing it to be their opinion that the
government never intended to repay one shilling either of principal
or interest, and that they could not, consistent with their ideas of
justice towards their fellow citizens, give their sanction to so
unjust and nefarious a proceeding. They observed also, that as to
faith in the integrity of the government they had none; that under no
consideration would they lend it a dollar, for that it was impossible
for it to redeem any loan it might obtain when it was fettered with a
debt that was too burthensome for the country; a debt contracted by
every species of weakness, and want of energy and courage in those who
were placed at the head of the state.

In the eastern part of the republic, the people were much more violent
in their opposition, for they openly remonstrated against contributing
towards the indemnity, alleging that they had not been an integral part
of the French colony at any time, and that they would not be compelled
to pay any proportion of the debt contracted by the government for a
recognition of independence by France, because they never acknowledged
the right of that power to any part of their division of the island.
They had voluntarily joined that part of the country under Boyer’s
government, but not with the supposition that they were to submit to
such an arrangement as to pay any proportion of an indemnity which it
was thought proper to give to France for a recognition of the rights of
the people of the other extremity. This was but just in the inhabitants
of the Spanish end of the island, and it would be unfair to condemn
them for thus strenuously rejecting every attempt on the part of the
government to allure them into an acquiescence.

It was pretty generally believed also, that this determination of the
people of the east was countenanced by the officers who commanded
in its several districts, who were not backward in expressing their
dissatisfaction at the measures of the president; and the latter found
it advisable not to adopt any further means for the raising of a loan
in the country, but to try what could be accomplished when the new law
for levying the contributions came into force.

Into this dilemma therefore has Boyer thrown his country, and without
any ostensible means by which he can extricate it from the difficulties
in which it is involved. Oppressed with the weight of an overwhelming
debt, contracted without an equivalent—with an empty treasury,
and destitute of ways and means for supplying it—the soil almost
neglected, or at least but very partially tilled—without commerce and
credit,—such is the present state of the republic; and it seems almost
impossible that, under the system which is now pursued, there should
be any melioration of its condition, or that it can arrive at any very
high state of improvement. Any change from the present would in all
probability be worth the experiment, but the existing inefficiency of
the government precludes the chance of any beneficial alteration being
effected. Hence there appears every reason to apprehend that it will
recede into irrecoverable insignificance, poverty, and disorder.

It must be manifest to every individual who visits Hayti, and who
devotes some little attention to the state of the country, that the
leaders in the government mistake the true principle of governing, and
that their ideas of the most effectual way to exalt their country are
erroneous, wild, visionary, and inconsistent. They are so excessively
vain too of their talents and discernment, that they think they have
framed a constitution the most pure and unobjectionable of all the
modern republics; and they arrogate to themselves the merit of having
perfected a system that must eventually excite the admiration and
receive the approbation of the world. With such arrogance on the part
of her rulers, it is not surprising that Hayti, instead of improving
in her condition, should greatly decline, and that her advancement
under such circumstances should be exceedingly slow. Whereas, on
the contrary, were the president and his advisers to study the best
interests of their country, they would look round for information,
consult the experienced from every quarter, and court advice
rather than shun it. But so long as Boyer is permitted to fill the
presidential chair, this cannot be expected; his vanity is too deeply
ingrafted to be easily rooted out, and labouring as he does under the
most extraordinary infatuation of his infallibility, no good can be
anticipated from his government, nor can the people be expected to
advance in knowledge, wealth, or prosperity.

The only department of government to which Boyer seems to devote his
attention is the military establishment, and in this he is apparently
sincere, but without displaying those requisites which constitute the
capability of regulating the internal affairs of that branch of the
state. The standing force of Hayti exhibits at once the absurdity
of his measures, and illustrates the folly of his arrangements with
France. It is stated by himself at forty-five thousand men,—I say
nothing of the national guards, one hundred and thirteen thousand,—all
well armed, well disciplined, and completely found with every article
necessary for the soldier. If, therefore, his force were as stated
by himself, so powerful and well organized, the only thing that can
be said is, that he must have been a most inefficient commander,
and in any other country would have been subjected to the strongest
animadversions, for not having opposed the French force instead of
submitting to such terms as those to which he assented. Whatever may be
the numerical strength of the Haytian standing army, its disposition
weakens its power, and evidently displays the incapacity of Boyer as
a military man, although his egotism, and the adulation of his staff,
would wish it to be understood that he is but little inferior to the
greatest captain of the age. It is a known fact that he cannot, within
any moderate period, concentrate at any given point five thousand men;
and notwithstanding their boasted discipline, I have no hesitation in
declaring that not one half of such a body would be fit for active
service on any sudden call or emergency.

Let us look at the condition of a Haytian regiment with respect to
equipment for the field. I have seen several of them in what was
represented to be marching order; and what was their state? Some of
the men are without even bayonets to their firelocks, many without
a cartouch-box, and some without either belts, cartouch-box, or
bayonet. Then their uniform, too—that can hardly be described. The
coat ought to be of blue cloth, with red facings; a cap similar to
the French infantry, with the arms of the republic, in brass, on the
front of it, white duck trowsers, and black gaiters. This I say ought
to be their uniform, according to the military regulation; but the
officers commanding regiments are not quite so nice, not such strict
disciplinarians as officers in the British army, for the former are
not in the least particular should their men appear either on parade,
or in marching order, without many of those articles which, by the
latter of their instructions would be considered indispensable. A
Haytian commanding officer looks to nothing but his own personal
appearance. If that has undergone the survey of his chère amie and
his fille de chambre, he stalks forth to the head of his corps in all
the majesty of command, with his nodding plumes waving to and fro,
not unlike one of those heroes frequently represented in some ballet
or spectacle. He has no concern for the appearance of his soldiers,
and consequently they exhibit one so extremely outré, that I fear a
description would scarcely obtain credibility. Shoes are considered
superfluities, for in a regiment of four hundred men you will not find
many dozen pairs. Shirts again are not required; as the jacket hides
them, they are therefore voted as unnecessary and extravagant. Their
caps in colour,—for they deem cleaning to be a labour unbecoming a
soldier,—which ought to be black, resemble more the colour of the
earth on which they walk, and are generally applied for carrying it
when they are ordered on working parties, putting them therefore
to a very important use. And their feathers, instead of standing
perpendicular, are mostly horizontal, because a soldier generally
applies his cap for the purposes of a seat in one instance, and as an
utensil for carrying water in the other.

I have heard a great deal about the courage of the Haytian soldiers,
and such a thing as bravery in all probability did exist in the early
periods of the revolution; but whatever may be said to the contrary,
I am inclined to think that they are as deficient in real courage as
they are in every other requisite for a soldier. High sounding and
vaunting declarations of their character for heroism, fortitude, and
resolution, on occasions of a very critical nature, I have often heard
from the citizens, but I have known, from my own personal observation,
of instances in which they have shewn the most abject cowardice. In
ambuscade, or for irregular warfare, bush fighting, or any similar
operations, they may be useful; but if they be ever brought in front
of an enemy, to contend for any position at the point of the bayonet,
or to perform any duty exposed to the menace of even an inferior
force, they will shew themselves exceedingly deficient in courage,
and quite on the alert to fall back; and it will be seen also, that
their officers are not often to be found setting their men any example
of disregard of personal danger, or of giving those proofs of innate
valour and bravery which are so characteristic of European soldiers.

The naval force of Hayti is inconsiderable. It consists only of a
brigantine of six or eight guns, and about three schooners of four
guns each, not one of which is capable of leaving their own coast,
being badly equipped, worse manned, and the officers quite ignorant of
navigation, and they have about five hundred sailors. The government
bought a vessel for the purpose of loading her with produce to send to
France, to pay a debt it owed there, and they had not a Haytian who
could navigate her, and they were obliged to get a British subject
of colour to take the command. He went to Havre, and was named “The
Haytian.” This affords a fair specimen of Haytian capacity.



CHAPTER X.

 Topographical sketch.—State of the roads.—Mode of repair
 by criminals.—How criminals are treated.—Description of
 inns.—Accommodations at them.—Mode of travelling.—Value of land in
 several districts, and in towns.


WHOEVER has read the history of St. Domingo, and has been impressed
with an idea of its richness, of its varied scenery, and of its fertile
condition previously to its feeling the ravages of the revolution, and
now contemplates the desolate appearance of Hayti, will be astonished
that such a contrast could ensue; that a period of twenty-two years
having elapsed since the declaration of independence, there should not
appear some symptoms of improvement on the face of the country; and
that the people should not have been anxious to restore the plantations
to their wonted state of productiveness. In my peregrinations through
the island, I was at times struck with the extraordinary difference
between what the country was represented to be by the people
themselves, and its actual appearance in the different districts
through which I had an occasion to pass; and a comparison of its once
fertile state with its now sterile aspect only excites a greater
astonishment, and confirms my opinion of the indolence and apathy of
the inhabitants.

The original French part of the island was always, as I have before
observed, the most productive, because a greater degree of industry
prevailed among the people. The eastern part of the island was
never much celebrated for aught but its pastures, and its mineral
productions, its mahogany and dye woods, and its cattle of all
descriptions. I shall present a slight view of the present appearance
of the country, from my own observations, and from the notes of others
who have favoured me with a description, on which every reliance may
be placed, because I have had their notes particularly scrutinized by
persons who are conversant with the whole of the country, and on whose
veracity I can safely rely. I may differ in my detail from others
who have gone before me, but I have some hope that the account which
I shall give will command the assent even of these persons. I shall
commence with the capital, noticing the country and the several places
on the coast, inland, and conclude with a few observations on different
parts of the interior.

The city of Port au Prince, which constitutes the capital of the
republic, is situate immediately at the extremity of the bay of Port
au Prince, and in the centre of the department of the west. On its
north are the plains of Cul de Sac, environed by a chain of mountains
extending from the eastward to the channel of St. Marc’s in the
vicinity of L’Arcahaye. To the east are the mountains of La Coupe, the
ascent to which commences immediately without the walls of the city.
And on the south it is bounded by the plains and the bight of Leogane.
It is about a mile from the northern to the southern gate, and from the
sea to the eastern boundary about twelve hundred yards. It was formerly
encompassed by a wall, and by several forts of great strength; but the
wall has fallen to decay, and the forts are partly demolished, and are
now so much gone to ruin that they are quite incapable of defence. At
present there are forts Petion, in which the bowels of President Petion
are deposited, Bazilles, La Croix, Le Marre, Islet, Hospital, Leogane,
Government, and one or two of minor note, but they are all in such a
state of dilapidation that a salute adds greatly to their weakness.
Fort Islet is at the entrance of the harbour, and the weakness of the
President leads him to think that its few guns, not more than six,
would stop the approach of an invading force; and with this idea he
has had it put into a proper condition of defence; but it stands so
low, that the guns of a frigate brought to bear upon it would at once
make it quite untenable. In fact I am sure that a British officer at
the head of fifty men would desire no better amusement than to storm
it, particularly when defended by such soldiers as the Haytians. With
regard to the others, I do not see that in their present condition
they can be defensible, for their batteries are demolished, and not an
embrasure is left.

The streets are straight, running from north to south, and from east
to west, and are sufficiently wide and commodious; but the roads are
in such a state as to be quite impassable for carriages; and although
the government levies a heavy tax for repairing them, and the criminals
sentenced to work on them are numerous, yet but little is accomplished
towards putting them into a state of repair at all suited for vehicles
of any description, and after a heavy rain they are totally impassable
for people on foot. The members of government are quite unconcerned
about any thing tending to improve the appearance of their city, towns,
or country; they seem, from the President to the lowest individual,
absorbed in vice, living in sloth and sensuality, careless of every
thing, so long as they may be permitted to indulge in the indolence and
excesses so predominant in the habits of the Haytian people. The houses
are merely the remains of such as stood the ravages of the revolution,
and those wooden edifices, which were built since the two destructive
fires in 1820 and 1822, which consumed one third of the city,
containing all the most valuable buildings, with property in them to a
large amount. The city therefore, to a stranger approaching it from
the sea, has an odd appearance, exhibiting nothing but dilapidation and
decay, or as if it had just suffered from the effects of some violent
convulsion; and there seems no disposition to repair or improve it. In
the time of the French the whole of the streets were paved, but the
pavement since then has been mostly destroyed and never repaired. The
houses on each side had verandas and trees in front of them, whose
foliage, impervious to the solar rays, afforded the inhabitants a
promenade, without being exposed to the influence of the sun; but the
trees have been all destroyed, and only an occasional veranda is to
be seen. The public buildings consist only of the government-house,
the arsenal, senate, and communes’ house, and it is no difficult
matter to describe them. The first was the residence of the governor
during the French régime, and at that period must have been a splendid
edifice. It is low, as are all the houses in the West Indies, built so
on account of the frequency of earthquakes, but it is commodious, and
commands a fine view of the sea. The gardens are represented to have
been splendid, and in the front was a fountain (jet d’eau), which had
a supply of water sufficient for all the purposes of the governor’s
establishment; but they are now a mere waste, the fountain destroyed,
and the house externally exhibits more the appearance of a barrack
than the seat of government. The arsenal is contiguous to the sea,
and might be destroyed by a gun-boat, for it has nothing to defend it
but a battery, mounting two or three guns. It contains all the arms,
artillery, and ammunition of the government, and shews the folly of
the president who established it immediately within the range of an
enemy’s guns. The senate-house is a low irregular building, and was
formerly used as a dwelling-house, and since that period it has never
received either repair or ornament, for it is tumbling to pieces,
and has a filthy appearance, for the want of a little attention. The
communes’ house has more the appearance of a receptacle for lunatics;
and really if one were only to visit it during the sittings of the
chamber, it would not be surprising if an impression were made that the
lunatics of the republic had congregated in it, instead of reasonable
men to deliberate upon the affairs of their country. The cathedral
has nothing in its external appearance to point it out as a place
appropriated for divine worship; it is a square building, with a single
roof, without any steeple, with an ascent to it of about three or
four steps on the western extremity. There is but little to attract
in the interior decorations and ornaments; the altar is constructed
of gew-gaws and tinsel; above it is a painting by a modern artist,
representing the union of the blacks and people of colour. The figures
are two officers embracing; one is in the uniform of a general of
hussars, and the other in that of a general of infantry, one black and
the other a mulatto. The back ground represents a field of battle in
which the Haytians have just gained a victory over the enemies of the
republic. There is an organ, but a small one, and not at all remarkable
for either its tones or its structure. There is nothing else in the
cathedral, and it is in fact a libel on the name to call it one.

Upon the whole nothing can be said in favour of the city of Port au
Prince; and if it stood unrivalled in point of elegance and splendour
in the time of the French, in the days and under the government of
President Boyer it is only remarkable for ruins and every species
of filth and uncleanliness. It contains about thirty-five thousand
inhabitants of all classes.

The plains of the Cul de Sac, in the vicinity of the city, were
celebrated in former times for their extreme productiveness, but
they are now very little cultivated; and passing through them from
one extremity to the other, from the sea on the west to the lakes on
the east, from the mountains of La Coupe on the south, to those of
Mirebalais on the north, I could only discover now and then a patch
that had the least appearance of being tilled. On ascending the
mountains, and looking into the valley below, the mind is at once
struck with the inertness and indolence of the people, and with the
devastation that must have been committed during the revolt of the
slaves. Remains of houses and plantation works are to be seen in every
direction, scattered implements for manufacturing sugar are spread
around you, and walls, which were erected for dividing properties,
as well as for the internal division of the lands in cultivation,
are thrown down and mouldering, or overrun with the creepers and
convolvulus, and various other shrubs, so as in places to become
perfectly imperceptible. There is nothing to be seen in these once
delightful plains like cultivation; all looks a barren waste, as though
the inhabitants had been driven out, or cut off by some scourge, and
the whole country had since been a place of refuge only for beasts of
prey. The mountains remain untouched for the purposes of cultivation,
except now and then a small patch for the production of vegetables, and
on which is erected a miserable hut, in no respect superior, in point
of accommodation and comfort, to the wig-wam of the North American
Indians, but in which the sluggish Haytian will dwindle away his days
in laziness, sloth, and in every species of lust and sensuality. He
seeks for nothing but what supplies his immediate wants; and so long as
he can produce enough for the calls of to-day, he is careless of what
may follow on the morrow. Sleep and his women occupy the remainder of
his time, with the exception of a brief interval, which he generally
devotes to playing drafts or cards with a neighbour, generally as
indolent and as unconcerned as himself. The plains are finely watered;
for independently of La Grande Rivière there are innumerable smaller
streams that water the different parts, and in the event of any
extraordinary drought, irrigation could be easily resorted to for the
purpose of supporting vegetation. But this is not often the case,
as the seasons appear very regular, and the country in general is
well supplied with rain from the great attraction of the surrounding
mountainous districts, which are covered with almost impenetrable
underwoods, and the showers descend into the valleys, and fertilize the
soil in an extraordinary degree.

To the northward of the plains of the Cul de Sac, in the vicinity of
L’Arcahaye, there is nothing to be seen that in the least indicates
a country in that state of productiveness which is pleasing to the
traveller; every thing exhibits a degree of negligence that is truly
astonishing, particularly when the fertility of the soil is so well
known.

The whole of the extensive and fertile plain of the Artibanite is
in a similar condition; and although it receives all the beneficial
influence derived from the overflowings of the river of the same name
which washes an extent of fifty leagues, emptying itself into the
bay of St. Marc, still the people do not evince any disposition to
cultivate the land. Scarcely a sugar plantation is to be seen until
you approach Gonaives or its vicinity, and those established in that
quarter are not worthy of the designation; they are mere patches
visible on an extended surface, and from the elevations around them
have only the appearance of detached spots cultivated as gardens.
There is nothing like an extensive scene of cultivation, nor can such
be found throughout the whole of the republic. In this plain on the
coast are situated St. Marc and Gonaives, which at one period were both
places of considerable trade, and the inhabitants wealthy, living in
great splendour and magnificence; but like other places inhabited by
the blacks and people of colour, they are neglected, the houses gone to
decay, and allowed to moulder into ruins. Nothing is left to remind the
traveller of what they were. Contrasting what they are with what they
are _represented to have been_, he at once infers, that the present
inhabitants are a race devoid of all desire of improvement, and only
raised a very small degree above the brute creation, from whom in their
natures and habits they differ but little.

The north, taking the whole of the point westward from Port de Paix
to Cape Nicolas Mole, abounds in fertile plains, and in rich and
productive lands, well watered, and capable of great improvement,
where agriculture might be carried on with great advantage, and where
even an European, in a climate almost approaching to the temperature
of his native country, might undergo manual labour without any more
inconvenience from it than what is experienced by a labourer in Europe
in the months of July and August. This is evident from the circumstance
of a colony of Germans and Dutch in the neighbourhood of Cape Nicolas
Mole having cultivated their lands unaided by the negroes, which, in
proportion to their extent, are as productive now as they were at any
period of the history of the country. They do not, it is true, produce
sugar; but in the culture of coffee and cotton they are exceedingly
successful, and are in a fine thriving condition. These Germans and
their ancestors seem to have resided in this part unmolested during
the whole of the troubles of the revolution and rebellion; and by the
leading chiefs, subsequent to those events, they have been respected
and protected.

In this district of the island there were several places of
considerable notoriety in the time of the French, but they are now sunk
into disrepute, and in fact mere villages. These are, the Platform, the
town of Cape Nicolas Mole, Jean Rabel, and Port de Paix. The Platform
was noted in the time of the revolutionary war with France for being
a place from which a great many privateers were fitted out for the
purpose of menacing our trade from Jamaica, being within sight of
ships passing to the northward from that island. It is now, however,
of no consideration, as it contains only a few houses inhabited by
fishermen, who, it is said, occasionally turn pirates, whenever they
find a vessel close enough in shore upon which they can pounce, without
running the risk of being seen by the crew until they are alongside.
The harbour of Cape Nicolas Mole was the principal place for the
safe anchorage of shipping in the western world, but it has gone to
neglect. The town consists now only of a few scattered houses of no
consideration, and the whole of the fine fortifications which secured
the harbour against an enemy are now nearly demolished and tumbling
into ruins. The harbour is capable of holding an immense fleet, and
ships of the largest size may safely ride at anchor, sheltered from the
wind from every quarter. The mountains secure them against it from the
east, north and south, and the wind from the south-west is greatly shut
out by the high land running westerly.

The water in the harbour and close to the town is said to be from
five to fifteen fathoms deep. In his negotiations with the Haytian
government, the King of France was exceedingly anxious to have this
port delivered up to him, for the purpose of a place of security for
his fleets, or rather for a footing in the island, with a view of
menacing the Haytians whenever he felt disposed to threaten them with
his displeasure. But they had sense enough to resist this demand, and
the king was wise enough not to contend for it, knowing that, in the
event of Boyer not fulfilling his engagements, it would fall an easy
prey to a very small force that might be sent against it. The British
homeward-bound ships, during the war with France, were greatly annoyed
by privateers from this port, as they passed within sight of the Mole,
and so near at times, beating to windward, that it might easily be
distinguished whether they were merchantmen or men-of-war. It was
therefore between the Platform and this port that most of the captures
took place, and lately this space has been the hiding-place for many
piratical vessels, which run in under the land at daylight, strike
their sails and top-masts, and consequently lie unperceived during the
day, whence they again sail at night to commit further depredations.
This became so glaring at last, that Boyer was obliged to send one of
his vessels to intercept them; but I do not hear that he succeeded.

Jean Rabel is an inconsiderable port, with only a few houses saved
during the revolution. The plains of the same name in its vicinity
used to be exceedingly fertile, but there is now but little done in
the culture of them, and in fact the whole of this part of the island
exhibits a picture of indolence too shameful for any government to
tolerate.

Port de Paix is opposite to the island of Tortuga at the mouth of
the Three Rivers; it is of no magnitude, not being a port of entry
for shipping as it was formerly; nor is it required, for there
is little or no traffic, there being but little produce in its
neighbourhood. It was celebrated in the time of the Buccaneers for
being the place of their frequent resort, after their plundering and
marauding voyages in the adjacent seas. It was here that the celebrated
Morgan, who was afterwards knighted by Charles the Second, and became
lieutenant-governor of Jamaica, first joined the “Brethren of the
Coast”, the term usually given to the Buccaneers, of whom he finally
became the daring and most famous leader. In the vicinity of Port de
Paix there is a medicinal spring, the waters of which are strongly
sulphuretted, and are much used and esteemed in cutaneous diseases.

The plains of the north, formerly celebrated for their sugar
plantations, and extending from the Three Rivers to the old Spanish
lines of demarcation, are in a similar state with every other part of
the country, only partially cultivated in the elevated parts, with
coffee and some cotton. It is impossible to view these celebrated
plains without regret, and to reflect on the impolitic measures of the
present ruler, which preclude the European all chance of adventuring
with his capital, and trying what might be accomplished by investing
it in the soil. The most beneficial offer was once made to him by an
American company to colonize a district, by sending from that country
five thousand blacks, to be emancipated in the event of their being
shipped off from the United States. But he refused to accede to the
proposal; and what is more, he told the parties making the application
that the American negroes were too much enlightened to be allowed
to colonize in Hayti, as they might intrigue with the Haytians to
undermine the state. There is no finer soil in the island for the
production of sugar than is to be found in these plains; it is composed
of a strong black mould, of great depth and exceedingly rich and
nutritive for the cane, and is highly valuable also for pasturage; but
even on this no care or attention is bestowed, nor are there any pains
taken in the breeding of cattle, for which the whole country presents
the greatest facilities, from the luxuriance of its grass, and from the
whole district being so well watered by rivers meandering through every
part of it, and by those springs and smaller streams with which the
whole island abounds. No country affords such retreats from the heat of
the solar rays as this. Nature seems to have dispensed its blessings
for man and beast with a liberal hand; but man here seems to be but
little sensible of the beneficence of his Creator. All those elegant
structures which once gave the face of these plains and the mountains
around them such an air of grandeur, and excited the admiration of the
traveller, are demolished, and scarcely a vestige of their original
site can be discovered. Sometimes a dilapidated stonewall, and the
remains of a windmill may point out to the passer-by that near them
once stood an extensive range of buildings, and perhaps a mansion of
some magnificence. The highly productive and very extensive estates
once to be seen in the vicinity of La Petite Ance, St. Acul, Limonde,
La Grande Rivière, Le Dondon, Marmalade, Limbé, and Plaisance, are now
neglected wastes, with little to be seen but the spreading guava, the
wild indigo, and a thousand other weeds and shrubs, raising themselves
unmolested on the very spots which once displayed all the luxuriance
of vegetation, aided and matured by the skill and industry of the
husbandman.

Christophe certainly made strong efforts to revive the cultivation of
his country, and he made some progress; but at the period when he was
about to carry into effect a more rigid system for the culture of the
soil, he was cut off, his plans were laid aside by Boyer, and now, as
in every other part of the country, nothing is seen in that district
but desolate wastes.

The city of Cape Haytien, which is the capital of the north, retains
no vestige of its primitive splendour. It is, however, a much
more pleasant and more elegant place than Port au Prince, and the
inhabitants are always kind and courteous to strangers, as they all
are in that part of the country which was under Christophe; a thing
which the stranger must not expect at the seat of government, where
the people are quite the reverse, and all spies. It is situate at the
extremity of a bay, having the sea to the north, and mountains of
considerable elevation on the south. It is strongly fortified, the old
batteries of the French having been greatly improved by Christophe,
who left nothing undone that could be accomplished in the way of
strengthening his capital. Towards the sea the ramparts are very
commanding, and an enemy’s vessel would find considerable difficulty
on entering the harbour, as she could only do so within range of the
whole forts, which are well mounted with guns of large calibre. The
only requisite in the event of war would be men possessing sufficient
skill and courage to man these works and to defend them. The city is
well supplied with pure water, which descends from the mountains, over
a gravelled surface, and receiving in its course no stream that can in
the least injure its qualities.

A military force of about five thousand men is kept up in this
district, under the command of General Magny. Part of this force
garrisons the city, in which there are barracks for their residence;
the other part is at different stations on the plains.

The trade to the cape is somewhat circumscribed, the country round it
being not so thickly inhabited as the south, but what little there is
seems to be carried on with much more regularity, and a great deal more
certainty as to the result, than at Port au Prince. I have heard it
generally remarked that the people of the north have a greater sense
of honour and rectitude in their commercial dealings with foreigners,
than the inhabitants of the south. Certain it is that Christophe in
his time exacted from his people a strict adherence to their word in
matters of commerce, and in the event of a disputed claim a foreigner
had a chance of redress. Not so in Port au Prince, where, if a
foreigner have a demand against a Haytian, it is ten to one against his
getting any redress, and fifty to one against his getting paid.

Christophe, who always shewed a very great attention and respect for
the British merchants and British subjects at the cape, or in any other
part of his dominions, erected a very neat house on an elevation near
the city, and furnished it somewhat elegantly, in which he had put up
billiard tables, expressly as a place of resort for them, and of the
whole he made them a present, with his pledge that no person of the
country should be permitted to disturb them, nor should the premises be
used by his people at any time or for any purposes.

At no great distance from the city of Cape Haytien were those two
stupendous works of Christophe, his palace of Sans Souci and the
Citadel Henry, or Fort Ferrier, the construction of which shews no
little labour and design, and the expense of their erection must have
exceeded any thing that can be imagined as the cost of modern works. I
cannot describe them better than by quoting the account given of them
by a native of Hayti, in his narrative of Christophe’s elevation to
the throne. “The Citadel Henry,” he says, “that palladium of liberty,
that majestic bulwark of independence, that monument of the greatness,
and of the vast combinations of a Henry, is built on the lofty summit
of one of the highest mountains in the island, whence you may discover
to the left the island of Tortuga, and the reflection of its beautiful
canal; in front, the gentle risings, with the city of Cape Henry,
its roadstead, and the vast expanse of the ocean; on the right, La
Grange, Monte Christi, the city of Fort Royal, Mancheneel Bay, and
the surrounding hills. The eye is gratified with the prospect of the
beautiful plain, and the magnificent carpet of verdure spread before
it. At the back, the extended chain of mountains seems as it were the
frame to this enchanting picture. The position fortified by nature,
and to which art has added all its science, with casemates and bomb
proofs, has secured it from being successfully besieged, while the
mouths of cannon overtop the elevation of the high ground, and command
the adjacent territory, affording protection to the whole north, and
indeed to Hayti itself, this being the most formidable defence it
possesses.”[8]

On the subject of this fort, I have before stated that it was built
under the directions of an individual said to have been a Scotchman,
of the name of Ferrier, from whom it takes the appellation of Fort
Ferrier.

Of the magnificence of the palace of Sans Souci, I shall give the
description of Saunders, as conveying an idea of what it was. “Sans
Souci, a town rising into preference, and likely to become the capital
of Hayti, has been established. Ravines have been filled up, mountains
levelled, and public roads laid out. This superb royal palace, the
glory of Hayti, is carried up to a great elevation. The beauty and
durability of its construction, its sumptuous apartments, all with
inlaid work, and lined with the most beautiful and rarest tapestry,
which was amassed at a great expense, and with particular care in
the selection; the furniture and elegant tapestry, selected with
good taste; the gardens arranged with a just symmetry, through which
meanders a pure stream, having a degree of freshness that particularly
characterizes it, the jets d’eau, the fruit trees, and European
productions, &c. &c., combine to embellish the retreat of a hero, and
to attract the admiration of strangers; whilst a church, whose noble
dome agreeably points out the richness of its architecture, and other
public establishments, such as arsenals, dock-yards, and barracks, have
sprung up around in spite of the ravages of war. To see the astonishing
activity diffused in all these works, one would say that the greatest
tranquillity had prevailed, and that it was the hand of peace which
brought them to perfection! Immense treasures, the fruits of economy
in the public administration of finances, fill the spacious coffers
of the Citadel Henry.” “I know it”, he says again, “to be one of the
intentions of our king to have the rotunda of his palace in the citadel
paved and lined with quadruples. He is rich enough to do this.”

The palace of Sans Souci was certainly (from the accounts given of it
by many individuals now in Hayti, and who have often been admitted to
the levées of King Christophe) upon a most magnificent scale; and in
elegance of structure, as well as the durability of its materials,
but little, if at all inferior to some of the most admired edifices
of Europe. Christophe was lavish of his money in the building of this
palace as well as the citadel, and whilst they were being erected,
he acted with great severity towards his people, whom he compelled
to carry the materials to the spot, neither age nor sex, except the
decrepit and the very young, being spared.

Christophe was once visited in this palace by an officer of the
British navy, and a relative of a right honourable gentleman high
in his Majesty’s councils, to whom he shewed great attention and
courtesy, and expressed great satisfaction at being honoured with the
calls of British subjects who occasionally touched at the cape. In a
conversation with this distinguished officer on the subject of this
stupendous palace, he said, “that his intentions were to ornament the
walls with gold, and that the floors should be laid with silver, that
the ambassadors of the world, should any be sent to him, might see how
splendidly a western monarch could live.”

Fort Ferrier can be easily seen from the sea, and ships outward-bound
for any of the western ports, sailing along the north side of the
island, have a good view of it from its amazing elevation, the stone of
which it is built being so very white as to make it a most excellent
land-mark. The palace however cannot be discerned, and since the death
of Christophe, it has been mostly destroyed, nothing but the walls
being left. All the beautiful carved-work wainscoting has been taken
from it, the mahogany floor torn up, and the whole burnt by the people;
and nothing remains except the outworks, which are converted into
apartments for the military who are stationed there.

Beyond the Massacre, in the old Spanish territory, and on the banks of
the Yague, the country is exceedingly productive, but quite neglected.
It is only a few years since that a very considerable trade was carried
on between Jamaica and Monte Christi, and Puerto de Plata; the produce
of those fine valleys on each bank of the river, as well as of the
fertile plains of La Vega Real, always found a ready market in the
different ports of that island. Tobacco, rice, Indian corn, beans and
peas, peculiar to the West Indies, and in great request as food for
the negroes, were exported in large quantities, as were also horned
cattle, mahogany, dye-wood, and often poultry. In return, the people
took rum, salted provisions, ironmongery, cotton goods of a coarse
quality, blue Yorkshire baize, Osnaburgs, and a variety of other
articles required for the labourers in wood-cutting and agriculture.
The annexation of the Spanish part to the republic stopped this
intercourse, and consequently the finest vent for the disposing of the
produce of their industry became shut, and having no other intercourse,
the demand has entirely ceased. There is no encouragement therefore
left for husbandry, and all those lands which were before appropriated
exclusively to the raising of the several articles which I have before
enumerated, are now uncultivated, with the exception of mere patches
where vegetables are raised for the immediate wants of the people.

The town of Monte Christi is a place of little resort, its trade having
been ruined by the restrictive laws in force in the West Indies. It
stands at the extremity of the promontory on the north branch of
the Yague. Occasionally American vessels call in, and barter their
provisions for mahogany and dye-woods, and sometimes take tobacco,
the quality of which is much finer and milder than that of the United
States. Contiguous to the river, and particularly on its southern bank,
the country abounds with mahogany and dye-woods, and in the mountains,
mines were said to exist, containing gold and silver and other valuable
ore. But very recently a company formed in London for the purpose of
exploring them, found that the undertaking would be attended with a
considerable waste of capital, without the possibility of obtaining
returns likely to compensate the outlay of the experiment. There is
great reason to doubt the representations that were made by the Haytian
government on the subject of these mines, when they appeared so anxious
to have them worked; their sanguine assurances of ultimate success were
only intended to delude, as they could not seriously expect that any
beneficial result would attend these operations.

To the eastward, beyond the town of Santiago, are the plains of La
Vega Real, celebrated for their extreme verdure and fertility. They
are in a great measure inclosed by the surrounding hills, which form
an appearance not unlike an amphitheatre. These plains are capable of
producing, were they properly tilled, every description of tropical
plants, and in the elevated parts there is every reason to believe
that European grain might easily be raised. The temperature of this
district makes it a most congenial spot for all sorts of agricultural
labour, and the culture of the soil would be rewarded with an ample
harvest. The whole of the plains are well watered by innumerable small
streams, which, flowing from different parts of the mountains, empty
themselves into the Yuna. This river, in its course to the bay of
Sumana, is exceedingly convenient for the wood-cutters who float their
mahogany and dye-woods down it into the bay, for the purpose of sale
and shipping.

Sumana, which appears as if it were detached from the main land, is a
peninsula, and may be said to be nearly uninhabited. A few American
free persons of colour have emigrated thither from the United States,
for the purpose of cultivation; but they have greatly diminished
since their arrival, numbers clandestinely leaving it, finding that
the assurances held out to them by the Haytian government were only
made for the purpose of deluding them to form a settlement. It is
a low and swampy situation, and not likely to be an eligible place
for colonization, as fevers and agues are exceedingly prevalent.
Notwithstanding all these unfavourable consequences, Bonaparte planned
a new city about the middle of the peninsula, to be called Napoleon;
for this purpose, I am inclined to think that a survey was taken, but
the design was finally given up. The bay of Sumana is very capacious,
and affords a most delightful anchorage for shipping; and it may be
justly denominated the key to the Mona Passage, as all ships passing
from the north through the passage must be perceived by the vessels at
anchor in the bay.

There is nothing remarkable in the south-east end of the island
from the city of Santo Domingo to Higuey, with the exception of the
extensive plains of Los Llanos, through which the traveller passes to
Scibo, and thence to Higuey. These plains have been well described by
Mr. Walton in his history of the Spanish colonies, and at the period
of his residence in the island, they were without doubt the most
delightful pastures in the western world. That writer says, “these
astonishing plains constitute almost a sixth of the island, extending
nearly to the east end, a distance of more than ninety miles, on a
width of about thirty. On them cattle of more than a hundred owners
pasture in herds, and are collected, counted, and the young branded at
the season when the calf cannot mistake its mother. The dexterity with
which the herdsman on horseback with a lance in his hand separates one
of his master’s brand from the rest, is wonderful. In the dry season
when the blade is long and rank, it is customary to burn all the grass
on the plains, which serves as an annual manure; for in that season
the cattle generally take to the forests in search of the herbage
which the sun has not had the power to parch. The operation of burning
is performed by setting fire to the most eastern part of the tract,
whence the wind regularly blows; it spreads in long and succeeding
volumes, frequently making the traveller recede, and effacing the path
through which he has been accustomed to journey.” Subsequently to the
repossession of the eastern part by the Spaniards on the expulsion of
the French by General Carmichael, a very extensive trade in cattle was
carried on with the island of Jamaica, which continued until the union
with the west, when the intercourse was restricted, and, consequently,
the breeding of cattle has not been so much attended to as formerly,
as they have only their internal consumption to take them off. Many
are now killed for the skin and tallow; when the meat is jerked, and
the Spaniards from the continent of South America purchase it and ship
it to the Havanna, where it is in great request for the slaves, and is
called Tassaja.

The town of Higuey was once of some note from the riches and
magnificence of its church, which it appears escaped the ravages of
the revolution, and was not visited by those sacrilegious wretches,
who devoted all edifices to destruction that had once been the resort
of the white inhabitants of the island. The people formerly used to
go on a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Virgin in this church from
all parts of the island; but a few only now undertake it. The Virgin
therefore has become poor, and the monks who used to officiate are
reduced to great shifts for an existence. I know not if this be a mark
of improvement in the Haytians; at all events, there seems to be less
superstition and bigotry: a little, however, is still left amongst
the females. I knew one instance of a female at Port au Prince who
undertook a pilgrimage to the shrine of the virgin. She went by water
to the city of Santo Domingo; and on her voyage thither was in great
danger of being lost; but far from being alarmed, she considered it as
part of the penance she had to perform before she invoked the saint
for a remission of her sins, and therefore exulted at her good luck in
meeting with such a disaster on her way.

The city of Santo Domingo, being, I believe, the oldest city in the
republic, has been described by Walton as having been exceedingly
strong, regularly built, and well fortified, and as containing many
public edifices of note. Having since his time gone greatly into
decay, it has declined in consequence, as well as in its commercial
character; and it is remarkable, that in every place in which Haytian
influence predominates, commercial enterprise, and every other good
quality appertaining to man, is sure to sink to the lowest ebb. This
may appear extraordinary, but it is true, and the city of Santo Domingo
is an example of what I now write; for at this moment it certainly
is in a state of inconceivable misery, and the greatest poverty and
wretchedness prevail amongst the people. No place in the republic
is better situated for commerce, were the people and the government
disposed to encourage it; but no such disposition is manifested by
either: and those merchants, who formerly had extensive dealings with
the Spanish Main, have thought it adviseable to leave it and take
up their abode in a country where they are likely to receive some
encouragement, and may be able to invest their capital, with some
chance of receiving an equivalent return for their industry.

The city is nearly a mile in circumference, and at this time does not
contain above fourteen thousand inhabitants, although in the time of
the Spaniards, including its attached district, it contained twenty-two
thousand, and yet the population is said by the government to have
increased exceedingly.

The harbour of Santo Domingo is a very indifferent one, being too much
exposed to the south winds, but the ground is good for holding. It
was in this harbour that Admiral Sir John Duckworth defeated a French
squadron in the beginning of 1806. They were at anchor nearly under
the walls of the city, from the batteries of which they received some
protection; but the British were not to be intimidated. Putting every
obstacle at defiance, they boldly entered, attacked the French line in
succession, and obtained a decisive victory, taking and destroying the
greatest part.

The river Ozama, which washes the eastern side of the city, is a
strong and wide stream, and is of great advantage to it, as it not
only carries off a great deal of the decayed animal and vegetable
matter that is at times to be found in the vicinity, but offers great
facilities for floating down timber and for carrying provisions and
produce from the interior of the country.

To the westward of the city of Santo Domingo as far as Jacmel, the
whole country is very little inhabited, although it is most beautifully
picturesque, and affords every encouragement to the cultivator from the
extreme richness of its soil. The bay of Ocoa has several convenient
anchorages for shipping, and it is here that the largest quantity of
mahogany and dye-woods is shipped for Europe and the United States;
and formerly cattle were purchased, of which the supply was extensive
and the prices exceedingly cheap. The Neyva, a river which has its
source in the mountains of Cibao, and runs through a very rich and
delightfully romantic district, emptying itself into a bay of the same
name, receives vessels of small draught of water, for the purpose of
conveying the products of the country on its banks to Jacmel for a
market. In the neighbourhood of the banks of the Neyva are many remains
of sugar settlements. This district is well watered, and occasionally
shaded from the power of the sun; and as the soil is strong, it must
have been highly productive in sugar as well as congenial for the
breeding of cattle: nothing can exceed its verdure, and its fertility
is generally admitted. The palmetto, or mountain-cabbage, grows in
this district in a most flourishing state, demonstrating the richness
of the soil, as this vegetable will not arrive at very high perfection
except in tracts of country where the soil possesses great nutritive
powers as well as a moderate degree of moisture.

From the Neyva to the west of the peninsula at Cape Tiburon the only
places now of any trade or of the least note, are Jacmel and Aux
Cayes. Jacmel was formerly a place of great trade from its situation,
being so immediately convenient for carrying on an intercourse with
the Spanish ports of the island, and likewise with the Spanish ports
in South America; it had also a communication with Jamaica, which was
valuable to it, but the restriction annihilated this branch of its
commerce; and as the intercourse with South America subsided when the
revolution in that country commenced, it lost its commerce altogether,
and it is now a poor inconsiderable place, without trade, and without
inhabitants of any respectability or means. The vicinity of Jacmel
was never much celebrated for the extent of its cultivation, though
in proportion to its means the returns to the cultivator seemed to
meet his expectations. Sugar and coffee were the principal articles
of growth; some cotton and a small proportion of indigo were also
produced. Scarcely any thing is now produced except coffee, and but
little of that commodity. The intermediate places to Aux Cayes are now
nearly neglected, Aquin being the only one now frequented; and there
are only a few inhabitants, such as fishermen, who carry on a kind of
contraband trade in coffee to avoid the export duty, which can be done
in these quarters easily enough, the officers of the customs being so
ill paid by the government, that they are necessitated to make up the
deficiency by participating in the profit of defrauding the revenue
over which they are placed as guardians.

Aux Cayes is a place of some trade and a port from which is shipped
a large portion of the produce of this part of the country. In the
neighbourhood of Aux Cayes the soil is exceedingly productive, and
to the cultivator used to return as much as any other part of the
island, requiring at the same time less labour and less means; but now,
however, like its adjoining districts, it has gone into great neglect,
and exhibits on the face of it that relaxation in the culture which is
so general throughout the republic. Indeed in the whole of this part
the sugar cane is but little planted; in fact, with the exception of
an instance or two in which English gentlemen happen to hold property
in trust, the cane plantations are but little attended to; they are
allowed to go on years in succession without cleaning, without manure,
or any other requisite to render them productive. There are several
British houses in Aux Cayes who used to carry on an extensive trade
with the interior, and with the Spanish Main and Jamaica, but they have
sustained considerable losses by the Haytians; and the restriction
precluding an intercourse with other islands, they have only the
chance of adventuring to the South American ports, and this only has
been permitted recently by an act of the legislative body; for of
late years goods exported received no drawback, but were subjected to
the full duties, unless they were exported within six months, when
they only paid half duties, or six per cent. But even this permission
cannot benefit the merchant here, the trade direct to the Spanish Main
supplying that market so abundantly, that the chance of an advantageous
speculation is but very doubtful.

The whole of this vicinity and the district southward of the mountains
of La Hotte, may be said to present the finest field for agricultural
operations. A rich and nutritive soil, a congenial climate, and fine,
refreshing, and seasonable rains, with a plentiful supply of water, all
cooperating, hold out to the cultivator the greatest encouragement to
exert his skill and industry, and to avail himself of those gifts which
the hand of Providence has so liberally dispensed. But in the Haytian
no such energy must be expected; nothing requiring the least effort
of the mind or exertion of the body will rouse the energy of that
slothful and inactive being, who idles away his time, careless of the
consequences that may spring from his negligence and his irresistible
desire for repose and quietude. In fact, I fear that nothing can be
done that can prove effectual in stimulating the Haytian; it would be
a task of no little labour to lead him; to drive him, would perhaps
endanger the state.

From Aux Cayes through the country by Cape Tiburon to Jeremie,
cultivation appears generally in a very backward state. The passing
traveller sees nothing to attract him, except now and then an object
which reminds him that the vicinity was once the scene of great havoc
and desolation, and that all that was valuable and useful had been
destroyed by some general convulsion. The remains of habitations,
remnants of walls, and scattered implements of tropical labour, are
to be seen in all directions. Here an iron boiler, half buried in the
surface; there an old iron shaft of a mill, or some other part of the
apparatus for the manufacture of sugar, and often a dismounted cannon,
arrest the attention of the traveller as the wretched memorials of a
devastating war.

In the district of Jeremie, which produced at one period large crops
of coffee, cocoa, indigo, and cotton, but few symptoms of agricultural
industry are visible. The finest plantations of the French are now
totally obscured and overspread with the creeper, the windband,
and numberless other species of indigenous weeds. In vain does the
traveller look for those settlements which wore the gay appearance
of culture, and for those plantations that enriched the proprietors,
and placed them in that ease and affluence to which their industry and
their perseverance so justly entitled them. Instead of such a scene,
the whole country, as we approach towards the capital, exhibits nothing
but neglect and waste, and their concomitants, poverty and wretchedness.

The plains Leogane, which once excited the admiration of travellers,
and formed the scene of so much contention during the heat of the
rebellion, are partially cultivated, and on the elevations that
surround them a patch is in some places selected by a settler for the
raising of vegetables for his own consumption; but I could perceive
nothing which indicated a regular scene of cultivation, or which had
the appearance of a system of agriculture likely to be beneficial to
the proprietor of the soil. This state of things appears however not
confined to a particular district; there is a similarity of negligence
throughout the whole of the republic, and it would be an invidious
distinction to select one part as worse than another.

Nothing can be more laborious, nor more inconvenient and unpleasant,
than travelling in Hayti, from the state of the roads, from the want
of inns for accommodation, and from the innumerable rivers and streams
over which the traveller has to pass, and which, at all seasons, he
is obliged to ford, often swimming his horse, and exposed to great
danger from the rapidity and force of the current (to say nothing of
being nearly up to his shoulders in water). There are no bridges in
the island; the Haytians being all good swimmers, and much addicted
to ablutions, deem them unnecessary. In the time of the French, the
roads through the whole of their division were admirable; indeed they
were admitted to be the best in the West Indies; the materials being
adjacent to them, and the expense of putting them on the required parts
so very trifling, they were always kept in the most perfect order,
and carriages of all descriptions could pass with the same facility
as in any country in Europe, from one extremity of the colony to the
other. The accommodations for strangers too were of the first order,
and no inconvenience was experienced for the want of those comforts
so requisite after a journey under a tropical sun. But the scene is
quite changed. It is almost impossible to describe the state of the
roads at this moment. It is evident that, notwithstanding the heavy
contributions levied for their repair, they have remained untouched
since the revolution, and there seems a disposition on the part of the
government to efface every vestige of the former roads, leaving the
people who travel to beat out their own way in the most easy manner
they can. On approaching the capital, they are, it is true, somewhat
better than in the interior. Here a little attention is bestowed upon
them, whilst in other districts they are unnoticed. All the criminals
sentenced to labour on the roads are employed in the vicinity of
Port au Prince; and this seems to be a measure suggested from its
being economical, as the criminals have an opportunity of supporting
themselves by begging.

It may not be amiss to explain in this part how the criminals are
treated in the republic, and to shew what nice feelings the government
has with regard to their treatment during the hours of labour, and the
way in which they are provided for. All criminals who are sentenced to
work on the public roads for a stated time, are not _chained_ together,
but _roped together by pairs_, the rope being first attached to the
neck, then descending to the body, where it is fastened; the ends of
the ropes are joined, so as to leave the space of about three yards
between the criminals thus tied together. They labour from daylight
until sun-set, being allowed an interval of about an hour and a half
for dinner at noon. The government pretends to provide for them; but
to save the expense of provisions, two of these criminals, accompanied
by two soldiers with their bayonets fixed, are permitted to go about
to beg provisions for the subsistence of the whole, and unless they
chance to be very successful, they get but a very poor allowance, and
often are left to fast until the next day. They are in gangs of about
fifteen or twenty, and over every gang nearly as many soldiers, and
an officer, all armed, are placed to force them to labour. At night
they are incarcerated in the gaol, and their bed is composed simply
of boards without any covering; they are allowed no supper. Admitting
their criminality to be great, and their punishment just, still such a
system has a degree of barbarity in it which can never prevail except
among savage nations. What! convicted felons sentenced to hard labour,
and directed to beg for their subsistence at the point of the bayonet!
It seems incredible. The thing is too revolting to be admitted, many
will say; but I declare it to be a fact, and call upon the people of
Hayti to contradict it if they can. It is the labour of these criminals
which alone renders the roads approaching the city somewhat passable.

From Jacmel to the capital, the road is in the worst state, and it is
evident that it has not undergone any repair since the revolution. It
is almost impassable in places, and never receives the least attention
from one end of the year to the other. If the roads were in a condition
to offer the least encouragement to travellers, I cannot imagine a
more romantic nor a more enchanting ride. Ascending the lofty mountain
of Tavite, the scenery is beautiful. To the southward is seen the
Carribean sea, with Jacmel and its plain immediately below; on the
other side may be viewed the island of Gonaives, the bay of Port au
Prince, with the town of Leogane and its extensive plains. In every
direction also are to be seen small cordilleras intersecting, between
which are valleys whose verdure is perennial, and having natural
pastures of the most luxuriant growth, which are seldom visited by the
husbandman, and remain untouched by beast.

From the capital to the extremity of the western peninsula and Aux
Cayes, the roads are very bad. To the latter place a chaise may
penetrate by way of Leogane, Petit Goane, Morogane, and Aquin; few
persons however who are accustomed to travel between the two places
would venture to drive, but would rather ride, as the safest mode
of travelling. Going to the north from Port au Prince, the old road
remains, but in such a state as to be in places almost impassable. When
the country was in cultivation, and these roads were in their finest
order, a tour through the northern departments of the country must have
afforded the traveller much gratification.

From Gonaives to Cape Haytien, the road is somewhat more easy for
travellers, and in fact, throughout the whole of Christophe’s country,
they are infinitely better than in the south, for he attended to
their repairs, and saw that they were kept in good condition. The
Escalier, about half way between the two places, deserves the notice of
strangers, and perhaps is the most extraordinary road in the western
world, with the exception of some that are to be met with in Columbia
and in Mexico. No name could be more appropriate, for it certainly has
the appearance of a staircase. This road ascends very high, and the
precipices on its side are enough to intimidate the boldest rider who
attempts to ascend or descend it.

Through the whole of the republic I believe there is not a decent inn
for the accommodation of travellers; at all events, I never had the
good fortune to find one, nor did I hear of one in any direction.
There are huts on the road side, into which those who are travelling
sometimes go to obtain lodging for the night; but even in these, a
bed would not be easily found, and instead of a pallet, some boards
thrown on the floor must suffice to repose on. On the summit of the
mountains of Tavite, there is a hut of this description, and on
passing that road on one occasion I was benighted, and took up my
abode there until morning. A bed I was unable to obtain, there being
only one in the house, and that was taken up by a Frenchman who had
arrived a little before me. Mine hostess of the mountain, however,
being a good-natured sable creature, was kind enough to prepare a
place on which I might recline during my stay. Whilst she was engaged
in adjusting my apartment, I thought it a measure of necessity to
prepare myself for it by a copious libation of brandy, as a somniferous
cordial; a great requisite in these Haytian inns, as one is sometimes
rather disturbed by an insect that is very common in them, and of
which it is not an easy matter for a man to disencumber himself, as
they evince an extraordinary pertinacity in adhering to the body,
and excite a sensation not at all calculated to invite sleep. Having
fortified myself against the offensive operations of my dreaded enemy,
I prepared to enter my apartment, but this was attended with some
difficulty, its dimensions being only sufficient for a dwarf, and not
calculated for a person somewhat beyond the middle size. I was obliged
therefore to resort to the plan usually adopted on board of small
vessels, by putting my head in first, and then by degrees to get in
my body and legs; and this place about four feet square, on boards
covered with my cloak, being one of those apartments of the inn usually
appropriated for strangers, became my lodging for the night. To sleep
was impossible, for the bugs, rats, and croaking lizards, haunted me
the whole night, and I rose again before daylight just as fatigued as
when I arrived the evening before, and with the additional knowledge of
having a dollar to pay for my _bed_. The houses of the negroes in the
British colonies are a palace compared with this _inn for travellers_;
and yet this is one of the most frequented places in the republic.

In most parts of the West Indies there are public places to which
people frequently resort for amusement on holidays, but there is no
such thing in Hayti, except when parties occasionally go from Port
au Prince to the lakes of the Cul de Sac, but even this is attended
with great inconvenience, there being no places for the reception of
travellers; and persons are therefore obliged to seek and beg temporary
accommodations of the people in their vicinity, from whom at times you
do not receive much civility, and they exact enormously for every thing
you purchase. Were there any place fit for the reception of people,
a tour to the lakes is worth undertaking, though the roads to them,
like all the rest, are execrable. The largest of these lakes is named
La Laguna de Henriquillo, and is about fifty miles in circumference,
situate to the eastward of the old line of demarcation, and about
thirty miles from the sea at the mouth of the Rio de Pedernales. Its
water is salt, and although at this distance from the coast, there
is the same motion in its waters as in the neighbouring ocean. The
country on its banks is exceedingly attractive and highly picturesque,
and exhibits a scene of natural fertility and beauty scarcely to be
equalled in any other part of the Antilles. The game peculiar to the
country is very abundant in this district, and the inhabitants who
reside near the lakes subsist solely upon it and the fish which they
can obtain in great abundance.

The smaller lake, called Etang du Cul de Sac, contains fresh water, and
the fish in it are very numerous. The soil in the vicinity of these
lakes is the deepest and richest mould, and not having for years been
disturbed for tillage, has become highly nutritive, from the animal and
vegetable matter which decays annually upon its surface.

The value of land throughout the republic is greatly deteriorated, from
the impossibility of making a money value from it within any moderate
time. Labour being so high, and the difficulty of finding labourers
for cultivation so very great, that the lands in the possession of the
government lie in an untilled state, without any person evincing the
slightest disposition to purchase them. Land also in the possession
of individuals is similarly circumstanced; and those who are large
proprietors cannot effect a sale of any produce which they may have
beyond the quantity which they can consume; consequently a proprietor
may have an immense extent of land, and yet be quite unable to derive
any benefit from it by cultivation, or to convert it into money, for
the want of purchasers. Thus, as I have before stated, there is no
individual wealth in the country, because, although a man may have very
large landed possessions, still those possessions are unavailable, for
they produce him nothing, as he can seldom find persons disposed either
to occupy or purchase them. There are some instances of proprietors
leasing their lands to persons who undertake to cultivate them, for
which they receive about one-third of the produce; but this is far from
being general, and I imagine can only be accomplished by military men
who have the command of troops, and who are thereby enabled to till
them by working parties daily sent out for that purpose.

The finest land in the republic would not sell for more than sixty
dollars per acre, although contiguous to a port for shipping, and of a
quality so strong and nutritive, as to be capable of growing any of the
tropical productions. The mountain-lands, and the lighter descriptions
in the plains, suitable for cocoa and cotton, can be obtained for a
price varying between twenty and thirty dollars in any quantity from
ten to five hundred acres. In the plains of the Artibanite, where the
soil is exceedingly rich and fertilized by the overflowings of that
river in the months of May and November, and which has been yearly
improving its condition, from having been upwards of thirty years out
of cultivation, I have known small plots of land, for horticultural
purposes, sold for forty dollars per acre. In those districts where
indigo and cotton were formerly most generally planted, for the growth
of which the soil is suitable, the situation peculiarly adapted, and
the climate and seasons congenial, the price of land seldom exceeds
thirty dollars per acre. I know an instance of a sale of land, once an
old cotton plantation, which only brought twenty dollars per acre for
one part, and about twelve for another.

In the northern department, about Limonde and La Grande Rivière, land
is exceedingly low, and notwithstanding its high repute for all the
purposes of cultivation, it seldom exceeds forty or forty-five dollars
per acre, and even at those prices it is difficult to find purchasers,
except for mere plots to be occupied in raising vegetables. The finest
pasture-lands, having all the advantages of shade and water, and in all
the luxuriance of vegetation, can scarcely find purchasers, and will
not bring above forty dollars per acre. With respect to lands on the
coast they are generally in waste, unless they happen to be immediately
in the vicinity of a town, when some of them are occupied as small
settlements for vegetables and for raising poultry for the markets: but
there are no extensive plantations of sugar or coffee situate very near
the sea, although formerly the whole coast was in cultivation as far as
it was practicable to extend it.

In the plains of Cul de Sac, in the neighbourhood of La Croix des
Bouquets, the land is a little occupied, but in possession of
individuals who have held it since the distribution in the time of
Toussaint and Dessalines; and although in this part of the country the
soil is exceedingly deep and strong, land hardly finds purchasers. Land
again in the mountains varies in price according to its situation. In
those valleys surrounded by the cordilleras that are so numerous in
the country, and in which the verdure is constant, which are finely
watered, and have a delightful temperature through the year, the land
sometimes brings fifty dollars per acre, whilst tracts exposed to the
north and north-easterly winds, and having rapid descents, are seldom
worth purchasing, and few people buy them; they are generally given
by the government to superannuated soldiers, who are allowed to leave
the army and turn cultivators. Land in the towns and cities is sold at
moderate prices, much lower than might be imagined. A lot, containing a
frontage of sixty feet, with a depth of forty or fifty feet, eligibly
situate for the purposes of trade, may be bought in Port au Prince
for about two hundred dollars. This may seem surprising to persons
unacquainted with the country, and who have been led to believe that
Hayti is in a most flourishing state; but it is true, and at once shews
that poverty is generally prevalent, and that there is no security for
property in whatever commodity it may be vested. Houses and land are a
very insecure tenure under such a government as that which at present
exists in Hayti, and whilst such a constitution endures, and such
inefficient persons are permitted to command, but little improvement
can be expected, and the value of property, instead of increasing, will
certainly decline.



CHAPTER XI.

 Agriculture.—Crops in Toussaint’s and Dessalines’ time.—System
 of Christophe and Petion.—Decline under Boyer.—Crops in his
 time.—Attempts to revive it.—Coercion resorted to.—Code
 Rural.—doubts on enforcing its clauses.—Disposal of
 lands.—Consequences from it.—Incompetency of planters.—State
 of cultivation of sugar, coffee, cocoa, cotton, indigo.—Free
 labour.—Consequences arising from it.—its inefficacy, etc.


I SHALL now endeavour to detail the decline of agriculture in Hayti,
and to offer a few remarks upon its present state; as well as to shew
that under the present inefficient government, very faint hopes only
can be held out of any revival, or that the republic of Hayti can ever
reach that eminence and repute which once belonged to Saint Domingo as
a French colony.

In various parts of this work I have observed that the decline of
agriculture commenced immediately after the improvident and impolitic
measures pursued by the national assembly of France, and after the
first partial revolt of the slave population: and that all the energy
of the successive chiefs who have subsequently governed the country,
and who have promulgated several edicts to enforce or encourage
cultivation, has not been sufficiently powerful to keep up that regular
system of tillage from which, in her former state, she derived such
advantages. True it is, that great efforts were made by Toussaint,
Dessalines, and Christophe, to infuse into the people a taste for
husbandry, and to impress on them that the surest way to arrive at
affluence is by an undeviating perseverance in the cultivation of
those lands which had fallen into their possession; that the only
true riches of a country are to be derived from the soil; and that
commerce, although a very powerful auxiliary, is only a secondary
means by which a nation can arrive at opulence, or its people attain
to any advancement in wealth. But their efforts were unavailing in
part, though they certainly did more to keep up cultivation than has
been attempted since their days. The proclamation of Toussaint in
the year 1800 was a powerful document, and had a great effect as an
incitement to labour; and his solicitude respecting an intercourse
with Europe and the United States shewed that he wished to adopt every
expedient by which encouragement could be given to the cultivator; to
find a vent for their productions, in order to enhance their value, and
thus stimulate the occupiers of the soil to further exertions. He was
extremely solicitous to introduce an organized system of cultivation
which would eventually aggrandize his country. Coercion he knew to be
absolutely necessary. He was well aware that without this nothing
could be accomplished. But the state of popular feeling rendered the
rigid exaction of duty in agricultural labour a dangerous experiment;
he therefore decided on adopting a mean between two extremes which,
while it excited no dissatisfaction among the people, would provide for
the exigences of his government.

Toussaint unquestionably pursued a plan which, had he not been seized
by the French general, and in defiance of the laws of honour and
nations so inhumanly transported to France, would in time have so
far restored agriculture, and placed his country in so flourishing a
condition, that in a few years it would have rivalled even the most
happy period of its agricultural and commercial greatness. His object
was clearly to advance by degrees, and to stimulate his people to the
culture of the soil, by holding it up as the most noble pursuit of
which they could possibly make choice; to infuse into them a taste
for industry; and to give them a relish for those rural occupations
which cultivation required, and for which, the extremely rich and
fertile soil of the country would so amply and so quickly reward
them. He had also made great strides towards impressing them with an
idea that they had many wants, which, although artificial, yet were
necessary towards advancing them in the opinion of the world. To teach
them this effectually, and to impress it seriously, would have been
a work of time, but he made great efforts, and he began to perceive
that they had not been unavailing. But wherever he discovered an
invincible indisposition to receive these salutary lessons and a total
disregard of his admonitions and persuasions, he tried what force would
accomplish; and consequently the law for enforcing agriculture was
enacted, and all people were directed to make choice of the plantations
on which they were disposed to labour, prohibiting all persons from
living in idleness and sloth. The estate and the employer being thus
once selected, the labourer was not permitted to recall his choice,
unless permission to do this were granted him by the officer commanding
the district or one of the municipal authorities. Hence the labourers
became once more slaves in fact, although not so in name.

When this law was promulgated, Toussaint began to exert the power which
he possessed to enforce it, and cultivation began to raise its head
in a most eminent degree. The sugar estates exhibited labour going
on with the same spirit and success as in former times; the coffee
settlements displayed a busy scene in every direction throughout the
colony; and the cotton and cocoa plantations shewed that they were not
to be neglected in the midst of this animated and interesting struggle
for the revival of a country’s greatness and a nation’s wealth. But
here coercion did the work, here was compulsory labour resorted to,
because it was sanctioned by the law, and those who held the power
were more than equal to those who felt a disposition to resist it. The
whip, that symbol of office of the principal negro, was dispensed with,
it is true, but the cultivators were placed under the apprehension of
a more effective weapon, for they were attended through the day by a
military guard, and the bayonet and the sabre superseded the cat and
the lash. To the astonishment of the leading people in the country, the
cultivators submitted to this coercion without a murmur; and it was
not until French intrigue was industriously set to work to instil into
their minds that their condition was worse than when they were slaves,
that any disposition was shewn to oppose the principle of compulsory
labour; and even this opposition was far from being general. When
we take into consideration that the population under Toussaint had
greatly diminished, and that the cultivators in his time exceeded very
little more than half of the slaves that were employed in agriculture
in the time of the French, and compare the returns of produce at the
respective periods, it must be evident that the system of coercion
resorted to by Toussaint, must have been to the full as rigid as that
which existed at any former period, or it would have been impossible
for him to have carried on cultivation to so great an extent.

In the early part of this work I have stated the quantity of produce
exported in the year 1791, which was the most flourishing period of
the French, and the number of slaves that were employed in the colony.
That the reader may more clearly see the difference at the two periods,
I shall enumerate the principal articles again. It appears by various
authorities that the exports were as follow: in 1791—

  Sugar       163,405,220  pounds.
  Coffee       68,151,180   ditto.
  Cotton        6,286,126   ditto.
  Indigo          930,016   ditto.
  Molasses         29,502 hogsheads.
  Rum                 303 puncheons.

And that there were employed for all the purposes of cultivation, four
hundred and fifty-five thousand slaves. The most productive year under
his sway, will be found to exhibit the following returns of exports:—

  Sugar        53,400,000  pounds.
  Coffee       34,370,000   ditto.
  Cotton        4,050,000   ditto.
  Cocoa           234,600   ditto.
  Indigo           37,600   ditto.
  Molasses          9,128 hogsheads.

According to Mr. Humboldt, the cultivators employed to carry on the
whole of the works of agriculture, and to produce the above exports,
did not exceed two hundred and ninety thousand. In addition to the
foregoing returns should be taken into consideration the condition into
which the soil had been brought by the exertions and the judicious
measures pursued by this chief from the year 1798, when he became the
leader of the people, to the time of his seizure. All those estates on
which culture had so successfully recommenced, were so much improved by
his system, that the greatest expectations were entertained respecting
the produce of future exertions; but the fall of this chief, and the
renewal of the contest between the people and the French, threw every
thing again into confusion, and the work of cultivation for a time
ceased, with the exception of the exertions made by the women, who
applied themselves to labour, and their efforts were not altogether
unavailing, for they proceeded with the lighter labour of the
plantations, which was exceedingly beneficial.

When Dessalines assumed the command, the country was in a state of
great irritability, and he could not therefore devote that attention to
agriculture which his predecessor had done. But when he had succeeded
in expelling the French from the island, and had restored some degree
of tranquillity, and the people became somewhat free from apprehension
of future broils, he began to devise means for reviving cultivation;
but he wanted the discretion and the temper, as well as that knowledge
of the people which Toussaint possessed. The latter pursued a system
of culture, that in the first instance was easy and acceptable to them,
and when he saw that they began to relax in their duty, he began to
enforce it more rigidly, and under the sanction of the law inflicted
punishment with no light hand, in cases of disobedience and refractory
conduct. But Dessalines acted differently and most injudiciously, for
he rushed upon the cultivators so suddenly, and with so tyrannical a
hand, that disobedience began to be general; and those people who had
in his predecessor’s time been the most industrious and most forward in
setting an example to their fellow-labourers became supine and inactive
through his oppressive proceedings. Dessalines knew well that force
alone could compel his countrymen to work, and that nothing could be
obtained from them if they were left to their own will; but he was
too precipitate and hasty in introducing his measures of coercion. He
even compelled his soldiers to labour in the field in parties, on such
of the government estates as had not been farmed out, and for which
they received a trifling addition to their regular military pay. But
all his exertions were ineffectual in producing such returns as those
which followed the efforts of Toussaint. Both knew that coercion was
the only way by which cultivation could be carried on, and they both
resorted to it. With one it succeeded in a degree which equalled his
most sanguine expectations, because he advanced progressively, and the
people did not feel it so severely; whilst the other burst upon the
cultivators with an unmerciful hand and inflicted such punishments for
disobedience as made them determine on resistance, and the consequence
was, that a revolt followed, and Dessalines fell. By a document given
me by an individual now living in Hayti, and who was attached to the
suite of the tyrant, it appears that with all his power and exertions,
his returns from the soil fell much below those of his predecessor. In
1804, which seems to have yielded about the largest return of his three
years, the exports were the following:—

  Sugar      47,600,000  pounds.
  Coffee     31,000,000   ditto.
  Cotton      3,000,000   ditto.
  Cocoa         201,800   ditto.
  Indigo         35,400   ditto.
  Molasses       10,655 hogsheads.

The number of the cultivators at this period has not been stated,
though I have been informed by respectable individuals that they were
as numerous as in the time of Toussaint, but that from the very harsh
proceedings of Dessalines a great number left their homes and fled
to the eastern part of the island, and there lived in the woods and
recesses of the mountains until they heard of his death.

In the time of Christophe and Petion the culture of the soil was
carried on by the former with some spirit, whilst the latter allowed
it to relax in a most extraordinary degree. Christophe pursued it
with strong compulsory measures, as may be seen by his adoption of
the code of Toussaint, but Petion left every thing to the will and
inclination of his people. The government of the north, by means of
its agricultural pre-eminence, had a flowing treasury, and its people
advanced in affluence from the effects of industry; but the government
of the south, from supineness and from a disregard of cultivation, was
reduced to the lowest state of poverty, and was driven to expedients
exceedingly ruinous in their consequences. By Christophe the people
were taught to love agricultural pursuits, as conducive to their
happiness and comforts; and were made to understand that cultivation
would be enforced, and that the disobedient and the indolent would be
visited with the full penalty of the law. By Petion every class of
persons were permitted to pursue those courses to which their tastes
and their will led them. Uncontrolled by any regulations of the state,
they never pursued cultivation beyond their own immediate wants; and
beyond the supply of those wants, which were inconsiderable, no surplus
was left for the use of government or for the purposes of commerce.
Whilst the north excited some degree of interest in the mind of the
traveller as he pursued his journey through its several districts, by
an appearance of industry and cultivation, the south displayed little
more than occasional spots of vegetation, and the eye wandered over
an expanse of country in a state of waste and neglect. The mistaken
policy of Petion ruined the progress of agriculture in his part, and
all his after efforts to restore its wonted vigour were ineffectual
and unavailing. Fondly confiding that his people would without
compulsion devote the whole of their time to the pursuits of industry,
he permitted them to indulge in those propensities to which they were
naturally prone. But instead of keeping pace with their northern
neighbours in the progress of agricultural industry, they evidently
receded beyond the possibility of recovery, and not a chance was left
that agriculture would revive under the weak and ineffectual measures
of Petion’s government.

Christophe most advantageously farmed out the government estates, and
at the same time he gave to the farmers of them every possible support;
but he most strictly bound them to push the culture of their lands as
far as it was practicable from the paucity of labourers; and he also
ordained the portion of labour which might be exacted from each of
them. Every individual in the least acquainted with the portion of
labour allotted for the slave in the British colonies will readily
admit, that the labour performed by them, far from being excessive,
does not exceed the ordinary labour of man in general throughout the
agricultural countries in Europe or the United States of America. From
every account which I have been able to collect, and from the testimony
of living persons, Christophe exacted from every labourer the full
performance of a day’s labour as provided for by the twenty-second
article of the law for regulating the culture of soil, and which forms
a part of the Code Henry, and every proprietor who did not enforce
it incurred his severest censure. The only thing which impeded the
great advancement of cultivation in his dominions was his contest with
Petion, and the necessity which that occasioned for his keeping up a
powerful military establishment, which took away the most able of the
cultivators for the army.

After the union of the three divisions of the island under the
republic, some hopes were entertained that Boyer would concert
measures for reviving agriculture, although from his election to the
presidential chair after the death of Petion, he had given no proofs,
nor evinced the least desire to disturb the cultivators, but allowed
them to follow such courses as seemed most congenial to their habits,
and consequently, instead of any improvement in the condition of the
country, there was evidently a greater decline; and as the population
had been greatly increased, the whole country tranquil, and without
the appearance of any interruption being given to it, a period
more favourable could not have arrived for effecting a change of a
system, which he must have seen was attended with the most baneful
consequences.

I shall now advert to the quantity of produce obtained from the soil
after the union, and it seems, from the returns which were laid before
the public in 1823, and subsequently from a note which I had presented
to me in Hayti, that the year 1822, the first year after the union,
was the most productive, and that since that period there has been an
evident decline. In 1822, the exports stood thus:—

  Coffee      35,117,834 pounds.
  Sugar          652,541  ditto.
  Cotton         891,950  ditto.
  Cocoa          322,145  ditto.
  Logwood      3,816,583  ditto.
  Mahogany        20,100  feet.

The whole value of which, in Hayti, seems to have been estimated at
about nine millions, thirty thousand, three hundred and ninety-seven
dollars, and the export duties one million, three hundred and
sixty-five thousand, four hundred and two dollars; together, ten
millions, three hundred and ninety-five thousand, seven hundred and
ninety-nine dollars, or about two millions, seventy-nine thousand, one
hundred and fifty-nine pounds sterling, taking the value of the dollar
as in Hayti at four shillings sterling. No subsequent year has been
equal in produce to 1822, and in 1825 the returns are infinitely less,
for the quantity of coffee does not exceed thirty million pounds,
sugar seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds, and the other articles
somewhat less in proportion. The valuation of the whole in 1825 is
stated at eight millions of dollars, or thereabouts. Such is the
wretched state to which the improvident measures of Boyer has brought
agriculture in Hayti, and in this condition would the republic have
remained, had he not attended to the suggestions of men wiser than
himself, who have some knowledge of governing, and who are not such
bigots as to be led by a mistaken philanthropy, when they perceive
their country sinking under its injurious effects.

An individual now high in the councils of Boyer made the strongest
remonstrances against the unwise policy which he followed; and the
late Baron Dupuy, a man who knew how the best interests of his country
might be upheld, declared to him that by pursuing such a line in
future he would bring the republic to the brink of ruin. That it was
folly to think of any expedients for raising their national wealth and
consequence, except by encouraging and enforcing the cultivation of
the soil, and extending their commercial intercourse by every possible
means, for that agriculture and commerce were the only sources of
national wealth.

When we look into the state of the products in the time of Toussaint,
and compare them with those of Boyer, it is a just conclusion to draw,
that the one knew his people, and the other feared them; that the
former by compulsory means enriched his country, and kept the people
quiet, whilst the latter, by giving unlimited latitude to indolence,
has impoverished and ruined them. This is the more extraordinary, also,
when we look at the means of each chief for cultivating the soil, and
the strength of the population at the respective periods. Toussaint’s
population, according to Humboldt, only amounted to three hundred and
seventy-five thousand, and by the census taken in 1824, when the island
was incorporated under Boyer’s government, it amounted to nine hundred
and thirty-five thousand, three hundred and thirty-five, so that in
1822 it could not have been many short of that number. And supposing
therefore the census of Boyer to be correct, was such an astonishing
decrease ever known in the means of any country in the world, and
arising too from the incapacity of its ruler and the weakness of its
government?

When poverty began to be felt, and the exigences of the state became
alarmingly pressing, Boyer became convinced that his policy had been
defective and ruinous, and that it was time to concert plans for
rousing himself from the lethargy into which he had fallen. He was
forced to seek advice from the very people whose counsels he had before
rejected with disdain. He courted them, and even begged, that they
would suggest the most beneficial plans for relieving the country from
that dilemma into which his precipitancy and obstinacy had thrown
it. They again stepped forward, and their first suggestion was a
_rigid system of agriculture_, the revival of Toussaint’s principle
of culture, and the strict enforcement of it without any evasion
or escape. It was by coercion that Toussaint, Dessalines, and even
Christophe, raised their country, and by coercion only could Hayti
recover its pristine condition. Her prosperity had received a stab, and
it required skill and experience to restore her wonted vigour.

It is evident that the sugar plantations were nearly all thrown up,
as the country scarcely produced more than was necessary for its own
consumption. There were a few only that had the appearance of being
cultivated, and those were in the possession of individuals connected
with the government either in a civil or military capacity. On these
plantations the work was generally performed by labouring parties from
the military stations in their vicinity; and if labourers from the
general class of cultivators were engaged, they never omitted to exact
from them a due proportion of work, and they were always superintended
by the gens d’armes, or country police, armed for the sole purpose of
compelling them to the performance of their duty.

A variety of expedients were tried, it is true, by the leading
proprietors in the country, but more particularly by the military ones,
for the purpose of advancing cultivation by the most effectual means.
The cane, requiring a greater proportion of labour than any other
of the staple articles of growth, was little attended to; it seemed
therefore adviseable to hold out inducements to prevail upon the people
to undertake its culture. In many instances, I have been informed,
the proprietors have not only offered them a fourth of the produce,
but they have actually promised a pecuniary remuneration in addition
to it. Even this would not induce them to work, and nothing therefore
remained but to adopt a system of compulsory labour. That compulsion
was resorted to, is a fact; but the law was not sufficiently strong to
punish offenders in the case of disobedience, and many delinquents,
many of the refractory labourers, who had engaged to perform a certain
portion of duty on a plantation, but neglected to do so, escaped that
punishment which they deserved.

The law for the better observance of the culture of the soil, until the
Code Rural, of which I shall speak hereafter, made its appearance, was
extremely deficient, and merely compelled all cultivators to remain
on their respective settlements, and to attend to the duties required
on them, except on Saturday and Sunday, and such holidays as were
particularly enumerated; but there was no penalty for disobedience
sufficient to deter a man from being guilty of it. As far however
as the proprietors dared to go in enforcing labour, many of them
certainly proceeded, and in several instances I have seen the labourers
working under the terror of the bayonet and sabre, and this too on
the plantations of Boyer himself. I have seen it also on those of
Secretary-General Inginac, Colonel Lerebour, General Jeddion, and
General Mazuy, and several others.

It was evident to every man in Hayti, at all conversant with the negro
character, that an attempt to keep up cultivation without force was
impossible, and many of the proprietors, themselves negroes, knew
that by force only could they obtain labourers amongst their people.
They knew that indolence in the negro was innate, and that it was
absolutely impracticable to carry on the work in the soil unless rigid
laws were enacted to enforce it. The laws which had been passed by
Toussaint and Dessalines had become so mutilated by relaxation and
modification, that they were little more than a dead letter; and the
government, recovering from its apathy, and feeling the consequences
of its loss of energy and want of decision, very wisely remonstrated
with the president, and condemned further submission to the will of a
people desirous to go on unrestrained in their indolent propensities.
This remonstrance was effectual, and Boyer acquiesced in the necessity
of establishing a system of extensive cultivation, and of enacting a
law to provide for its due observance throughout his dominions. He
saw the good effects which had arisen from the application of force
on his own plantation at Tor, on which the cultivators worked under
the surveillance of a military guard; and he therefore became now as
willing an advocate for a law to sanction coercive labour, as he had
been negligent in not providing for the culture of the soil from the
beginning of his power.

The Code Rural, the existence of which has been the subject of much
doubt, was passed by the Chamber of Communes on the 21st of April,
1826, admitted by the senate on the 1st of May, and received the
president’s fiat on the 6th of the same month. All this took place
during my residence in Port au Prince. This law is the work of
Secretary-General Inginac, aided by one or two of the members from
the chamber and the senate. During the discussion of this law in the
Chamber of Communes, it was remarked by one of the most intelligent
of its members, “that it was a measure of expediency, for that the
citizen cultivators had become so indolent that agriculture had in some
districts been almost forgotten, and that cultivation was completely
suspended.” This declaration was echoed through the chamber, and every
member concurred in the observation, and gave it his unqualified assent.

On the 1st of May, the day appointed for the celebration of the Fête
Agriculture, and when the cultivators were assembled in the public
square bearing specimens of their several productions of the soil, the
president, together with a member from the chamber and another from the
senate, addressed them, and said that the legislature would provide
for a more general cultivation, and that all persons not engaged, or
usually occupied as labourers, would be peremptorily called upon for
a more strict attention to their duty, as the government contemplated
a revival of agriculture, which had fallen into so much neglect from
the indolent habits of the people. These addresses _were not_ received
with acclamation, and many a cultivator heard them with a degree of
dissatisfaction which seemed to forebode resistance.

The Chamber of Communes, in its farewell address, tells the people that
laws “just and severe” were imperative for the revival of agriculture,
and that by the law which they had passed to enforce cultivation they
thought that they had materially served their country, and in such
an opinion I most readily concur. They rendered to their country an
important service by passing the Code Rural; for it will tend towards
obstructing the course of immorality pursued by the people in their
idleness, and will eventually reestablish upon a sound basis the
shattered finances of the state. The passage in that address is so
very forcible, and so extremely just, that I shall call the attention
of my readers to it, as it has been given by a gentleman to whom I am
under many obligations for his assistance upon various rious subjects
connected with this work. It says, “What is due to the conservative
principle would not have been provided, if the revival of our
agriculture had not been stimulated (provoqué) by laws at once just and
severe; your representatives in passing the Code Rural, have believed
that a benefit was conferred upon the people.” This was conclusive of
the opinion of the country that severity was imperative for enforcing
a general cultivation, and that, without laws “just and severe”, force
cannot be resorted to with any chance of a favourable result.

It may not be unimportant to give a few of the articles of the Code
Rural. This Code has now found its way to Europe, and the public, on
reading its enactments, will be enabled to judge of the feelings of the
leading persons in Hayti with regard to the state of cultivation, when
such laws are said to be required to force the people to labour.

“Art. 173. The purposes of Rural Police are,

“First. The repressing idleness.

“Second. Enforcing order and assiduity in agricultural labour.

“Third. The discipline of the labourers collectively or in gangs.

“Fourth. The making and keeping in repair of the roads, both public and
private.

“Art. 174. All persons who are not proprietors or renters of the land
on which they are residing, or who shall not have made a contract to
work with some proprietor or renter, shall be reputed vagabonds, and
shall be arrested by the rural police of the section in which they may
be found, and carried before the justice of the peace of the commune.

“Art. 175. The justice of the peace, after interrogating and hearing
the person brought before him, shall make known to him the articles of
the law which oblige him to employ himself in agricultural labour; and
after that communication he shall remand him to prison, until he shall
have bound himself by a contract according to the provisions of the law.

“Art. 176. The justice of the peace will allow the person arrested to
make his own choice of the individual with whom he is to contract to
labour.

“Art. 177. If, after eight days of detention, the prisoner shall not
have agreed to go to field work, he shall be sent to the public works
for cleaning the town or district where he may be arrested, and there
he shall be employed until he shall consent to go to field labour. The
person who removes any labourer from the public works to employ him in
private work shall be subject to a fine of fifty dollars, of which a
moiety is to be paid to the person complaining.

“Art. 178. If the prisoner be a child under age, the justice of the
peace shall inquire out his parents, and send him to them to follow
their condition of life.

“Art. 179. After the expiration of three months from the publication of
this Code, rigorous measures shall be enforced against delinquents.

“Art. 180. Every person attached to the country as a cultivator, who
shall on a working day, and during the hours of labour, be found
unemployed, or lounging on the public roads, shall be considered idle,
and be arrested and taken before the justice of the peace, who shall
commit him to prison for twenty-four hours for the first offence, and
shall send him to labour on the public works upon a repetition of the
offence.

“Art. 181. To provide against vagabondage, under the pretence of being
a soldier.

“Art. 182. Officers commanding the rural police shall take care that in
their respective sections no person shall live in idleness. For this
purpose they have authority to oblige such persons as are not actually
employed in labour, to give an account of their occupations; and such
persons as cannot prove that they cultivate the soil, or are keepers of
cattle-pens, shall be considered as without visible means of procuring
their livelihood, and shall be arrested as vagabonds.

“Art. 183. Field labour shall commence on Monday morning, and shall
never cease until Friday evening (legal holidays excepted); and in
extraordinary cases, when the interest of the cultivator as well as
of the proprietor appears to require it, work shall be continued until
Saturday evening.

“Art. 184. On working days, the ordinary field labour shall commence
at day-dawn, to continue until mid-day, with the interval of half an
hour for breakfast, which shall be taken on the spot where the work
is carrying on. After mid-day the field labour shall commence at two
o’clock, and continue until sun-set.

“Art. 185. Pregnant females shall be employed on light work only, and
after the fourth month of pregnancy they shall not be obliged to do any
work in the field.

“Art. 186. Four months after delivery they shall be obliged to resume
the labour in the field; but they shall not turn out to work until one
hour after sun-rise; they shall continue to work until eleven o’clock,
and from two o’clock until one hour before sun-set.

“Art. 187. No labourer attached to an estate in the country shall
absent himself from the labour assigned him, without the permission of
the overseer, in the absence of the proprietor or farmer; and no one
shall give that permission unless the case be urgent.

“Art. 188. Gangs of labourers upon estates shall be obedient to their
drivers, jobbers, sub-farmers, farmers, proprietors and managers, or
overseers, whenever they are called upon to execute the labour they
have bound themselves to perform.

“Art. 189. Every act of disobedience or insult on the part of a
workman commanded to do any work, to which he is subjected, shall be
punished by imprisonment, according to the exigency of the case, in the
discretion of the justice of the peace of the commune.

“Art. 190. Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays being at the entire
disposal of the labourers, they shall not be permitted on working
days to leave their work, to indulge in dancing or feasting, neither
by night nor by day. Delinquents shall be subject to imprisonment for
three days for the first offence, for six days for the repetition of
the offence.”

The remaining articles of the code relate to the making of roads and
keeping them in repair.

“These clauses are given as more particularly exhibiting the effect of
the code on the field labourer. To exhibit the whole system by which
the driver is made answerable for the labourer, the overseer for his
drivers and labourers, and the police, in its various grades, for the
whole, it would be necessary to translate the entire code. During
imprisonment, the labourer being absent from field work forfeits his
wages; the pregnant women also appear to receive no wages during their
exemption.”[9]

It is impossible for any one who is at all conversant with the negro
character not to say, that the Code Rural is just such a law as the
exigences of Hayti particularly require: and that it is absolutely and
imperatively called for in order to extend cultivation, and to bring
the people to some sense of duty towards their country and themselves.
Left any longer to pursue their uncontrolled and unlimited propensity
for indolence, they must recede into barbarism and uncivilization, and
the country fall a sacrifice to the mistaken policy of its chief and
the leaders of his government, and to those false ideas of philanthropy
with which they are so often assailed by persons who are incompetent to
advise, because they are without any knowledge of the country or its
people.

The Code Rural, therefore, now enforces labour with a rigid
hand,—nothing more excessive can be demanded of the slave in the
British colonies; and I aver, that if the whole of the clauses of
this code be complied with, it will exceed the labour performed by
persons in actual slavery. I have my doubts, however, respecting
the feasibility of carrying its clauses into successful operation,
and whether the temper of the people at the present moment will be
submissive enough to adhere to it in all its parts, I am inclined
to think that they have been too long indulged in those vices which
seem inherent in the negro, to be brought to obedience; and that too
rigid an enforcement will bring on discontent, and finally a general
resistance. I think it therefore exceedingly probable that Boyer
with all his vaunting, with all his proclamations, and aided by his
military force, will never proceed to those extremities to promote
agriculture, to which he can now go under the sanction of laws made
expressly for that purpose. The Code Rural must unquestionably astonish
those advocates for free labour who have held up Hayti as an example
of what can be accomplished by it; and I think they cannot now have
the temerity to say that cultivation in the tropics can be effectually
carried on without coercion, when even the Haytian government is
constrained to have recourse to it. For my part, I have seen nothing in
Hayti to induce me to alter the opinion which I have always entertained
of the negro, nor for a moment to expect that cultivation can be
carried on with any probability of success without coercion. But I
declare it to be my firm conviction, that unless coercion be resorted
to, the negro will not labour. The impulse for indulging in sloth and
in indolence is too irresistible, and it will not be in the power of
the government to make any progress in agricultural labour, except it
be done by actual force.

The system pursued by the Haytian government respecting the disposal of
its lands seems to be erroneous. Allotting it out in small grants of
ten to fifteen acres, is an injudicious measure: it only tends towards
extending and perpetuating the evil and pernicious habits of the
people. When a negro obtains a grant of a small tract of land, he cares
little about the cultivation of it beyond the production of enough for
his own immediate wants, and those wants are trifling. Two or three
hours’ labour in each week will suffice to answer all the purposes of
the culture required to produce food enough for himself; the rest of
his time is then allowed to dwindle away in the most puerile pleasures
and inconsistencies. No object which moderate industry could procure
would balance the insatiable desire for reposing under the shade of the
guava, and for ablutions in the neighbouring stream; with these and a
little food all his wants are supplied. Such being the case, and known
to be so by the government, it is enough to surprise one that they
should parcel out their lands in this way, because, even under the Code
Rural, the person holding it is no longer a labourer, but a proprietor,
and is not therefore amenable to it. Had the government proceeded
differently, and let the estates to farm as they were originally laid
out, so many petty proprietors would not have existed, but would have
remained amenable to the law for enforcing cultivation. From this
unwise system, labourers are scarce in Hayti, and the few that are
to be obtained are of the worst characters, negroes so abandoned as
not to have been considered worthy of inheriting a patch of land.
Hayti abounds with these small proprietors; their patches of land,
with their huts upon them, are generally situate in the mountains, in
the recesses, or on the most elevated parts, on spots, as the poet
has described, “the most inaccessible by shepherds trod.” They are
therefore lost for the purposes of agriculture: their cultivation does
not extend beyond vegetables for the markets in their vicinity, added
to which they furnish an occasional supply of pork, poultry, and wild
pigeons.

Another important question arises on this subject, and that is the
quantum of labour which a negro is capable of performing within the
day. In the British colonies an experienced planter can at once
discern how much labour a slave is capable of performing. He can also
discriminate between slaves who are willing and industrious, and those
who are careless and indolent; and apportions their labour according
to their respective deserts and capacities. The Haytian proprietor is
deficient in these requisites; he is not a planter practically, and
he is ignorant of its theory. There is nothing regular in his system;
it is an anomaly, a strange, incongruous method of proceeding, having
no tendency either to improve the soil or benefit himself. The sugar
planter in the first place is so ignorant that he knows not the virtue
which his soil possesses, nor what it is capable of producing. He
considers not whether one field is better adapted for the production
of canes than another, but plants indiscriminately in bad or good soil,
in heavy or light; in fact he knows not whether it ought to be planted
with canes or cotton, or if it would be wise to allow it to become
common pastures. He is contented, and seems to be quite satisfied, if
he can but obtain vegetation in any way; careless about the manner in
which it is accomplished. To ascertain whether it can be improved by
art or industry, is a matter about which he is unconcerned.

But the cane is not often planted. Most of the cane pieces on
plantations are old, probably they were planted by the French, or
subsequently in the time of Toussaint. They exhibit an appearance of
age, for their circumference is small, and their joints are not more
than three inches apart, nor do they ever exceed four feet in length.
These are very seldom manured or trashed, nor do they receive any
attention from the time of cutting until they are again ready for the
mill the following year. There is no such thing as stirring the soil
between the rows at particular times, nor do the cultivators ever
trouble themselves about divesting the cane of its superfluous and
decaying leaves, so as to open a free course for the air through the
whole. Nothing of this is done in Hayti. The fertility of the soil,
the congeniality of climate, and the regularity of seasons, suffice
for manure, and the rest is left to nature. Art and the industry of
man contribute little or nothing to the growth of the cane. The hoe
and other implements of tillage are rendered useless by indolence,
the planter’s unconquerable love of ease having brought them into
disrepute; and I shall be somewhat astonished if the Code Rural will
have power enough to revive their use.

The same irregularity attends the operations at the mill, the
boiling-house, the distillery, and the other departments of the
plantation. I have been through them often, and have been surprised
at the want of order which every where prevails. There is nothing
systematically arranged,—every thing seems in confusion; the works
are detached, and resemble more a heap of ruins than conveniences
for manufacturing and distilling. The interior of the boiling-house
would astonish a Jamaica planter: the several boilers are not ranged
in succession from the receiver to the teacher, as they are in the
British colonies. They are placed without rule, and in their manner
of conveying the liquor from one copper to another the waste is
considerable; and this is observable too in all their operations. There
is nothing like cleanliness in their works; filth and every species
of dirtiness are to be seen in them; and this is prevalent, although
they must be sensible that it is injurious, and often destructive
to the quality of the sugar. The distillery department is also very
injudiciously constructed. They take no pains to keep the heat at
the proper degree requisite for fermentation: every thing has the
appearance of negligence, and conveys to the observer a very bad
specimen of Haytian skill in the art of manufacturing sugar or of
distilling spirits. They do not often make rum: I only know of one or
two plantations on which rum is distilled, and these are conducted by
Englishmen; one in particular at Aux Cayes, a Mr. Towning, who has an
extensive distillery. He produces rum, which, in point of flavour,
strength, and every other quality, I do not think inferior to that of
Jamaica. To all persons who visit Aux Cayes this gentleman is well
known for the hearty and hospitable reception he always gives to a
stranger. He is the only person in Hayti who devotes his attention
to the distillation of rum. The Haytians cannot distill it; they
are ignorant of its principle, and consequently confine themselves
to the distillation of what is known in the British colonies under
the denomination of low wines. The flavour of this spirit is most
unpleasant; which arises, I conjecture, from the ingredients thrown
into the fermenting vessels, and from which it is distilled: these,
consisting of the molasses from the boiling-house, with all the
sweepings of the works, with a proportion of water from any pool
however stagnant, if pure water be not near, I apprehend give to the
spirit a very acrid quality, as well as a fetid smell. It is however
held in great estimation by the people, who drink it freely, and they
can obtain it cheap. Upon the whole there can be no difficulty in
declaring that the Haytians are ignorant both of the cultivation of the
cane, and of the process of manufacturing sugar.

It is evident that sugar is not much cultivated, as in every district
throughout the republic there are only a few plantations to be seen in
the plains of Cul de Sac and vicinity of Port au Prince where sugar
is produced. There were in the time of the French about one hundred
and forty sugar estates, very few, if any, with less than one thousand
acres of land, one-fourth of which would be in canes, and the remainder
in pastures and other crops. Now in the same space there are not more
than twenty estates, and in each of them there cannot be found more
than from forty to fifty acres of canes, the remainder of the land
being in a neglected state, overrun with different weeds. President
Boyer has an estate within a small distance of Port au Prince, called
Tor, the favourite residence of the late Petion. This plantation has
upwards of two thousand acres of land attached to it, and, from the
great strength of the soil, it is impossible to select a spot more
eligible for the production of sugar. But there are not more than
forty acres of the land in canes. This, however, is not singular; it
is general throughout the island. When the sugar cane in Hayti was
cultivated properly, and received the requisite care and attention in
the several stages of its growth, it produced very abundantly. Bryan
Edwards gives an average of two thousand seven hundred and twelve
pounds of sugar per acre through the island; and at this period I
have been informed, and in fact I have seen it calculated myself,
that in the plains of Cul de Sac and Leogane the average does not
exceed one thousand pounds of sugar per acre; and an experienced
planter on looking at the canes when they are ripe for cutting, would
conclude that they would not produce so much. Formerly a pound of
sugar was obtained from a gallon of juice in some districts, in others
sixteen pounds from twenty gallons, and in some sixteen pounds from
twenty-four gallons: but now it requires nearly treble the quantity
of juice to produce the same quantity of sugar: and this must remain
so, until a new system of cultivation be tried, and the management
of the plantations be entrusted to men of experience, men who have
been practical planters, and who are conversant with the whole of its
duties; men, I say, who have a perfect knowledge of the soil, its
capabilities and its wants for the work of tillage, and who will devote
their time and attention to all the minutiæ of plantation labour. If
such a system should ever be pursued in Hayti, and there be labourers
to cultivate, and capital can be invested securely, then sugar planting
may be carried on with some chance of a successful issue: until this
take place, I have great doubts whether the culture of the cane will
prove profitable to the occupier of the soil.

The labour required for the cultivation of coffee is exceedingly light:
I was therefore much surprised to see the very little progress the
people had made in this branch of agriculture. When an individual,
who has been accustomed to plantations in the British, French, and
Spanish islands, visits the coffee plantations in Hayti, and observes
the whole conducted without judgment or care, it impresses him with
a most unfavourable idea of the people; and when he sees the easiest
branch of agriculture so much neglected, it convinces him that their
idleness is almost invincible. In the British islands every coffee
plantation is arranged with the greatest exactitude. The lands are
divided into fields as nearly equal as possible, and in those fields,
in all probability, the coffee has been planted in successive seasons,
so that when the period arrives in which the trees begin to exhibit a
decline in their growth, the planter provides for the loss of them by
planting others, and by this expedient manages always to keep up his
crop. The fences which divide the fields are constantly kept up with
regularity and order, the whole having the appearance of a garden laid
out with neatness and precision. The plantation works for washing,
drying, and preparing the coffee, are in the best condition, and with
the barbacues, exhibit a well-arranged system for the production of
the berry. In Hayti the scene is different: what is denominated there
a coffee plantation, is neither more nor less than a large tract of
land, throughout which grows spontaneously the coffee tree; not planted
there by the people, but sprung from the seed which has fallen from
those planted by the French, and which escaped destruction during the
revolution. There is no such thing as a plantation established upon
the same principle as in other islands. There are no divisions, no
laying out of the lands, no order of planting in succession, nothing
done towards improving and fertilizing the soil, in order to aid the
growth of the tree, no lopping it of its excrescences, and pruning
it to strengthen the parent stem; but every thing is left to nature,
the pruning knife is sheathed, and the rank luxuriance of the tree is
permitted to increase, whilst the hoe is seldom called into use, to
extirpate those weeds which are so destructive to vegetation.

A person must be somewhat conversant with travelling in Hayti before he
can discover on his road that a coffee plantation is near him. For my
part, I could see nothing that resembled one, nor should I have known
the coffee tree, growing as it did in a pyramidal form, surrounded
by numberless other shrubs, had it not been for the appearance of
a few red berries on one of its lower branches. I alighted from my
mule to examine some trees just round the spot: as nearly as I could
ascertain, every tree must have exceeded twelve feet in height, and
I am convinced that each of them at the time would not have produced
two pounds of coffee in the husk. I had the curiosity to go a little
way into the interior of this settlement to see if there were any
thing like cultivation, but I could discover nothing bearing the least
resemblance to a plantation. I saw nothing but a hut, and four or five
people in it, whom I found to be the proprietors of the place. They
were inquisitive, and not much pleased that I should have intruded on
their privacy, and therefore I had a hint from my guide that it would
be prudent not to advance farther. I saw, however, enough to convince
me that there was no regular system of cultivation pursued in this
place, although there were twelve hundred acres of land in the Keen;
and that the coffee grew in a wild state, the soil never being touched
or disturbed, save, occasionally, by pigs, goats and asses, which range
through the whole, and feed on the grass which grows luxuriantly in the
intervals. Mills are not very common, and the few which exist are very
small and turned by asses. Washing and pulping are not performed by
machinery. Indeed I am inclined to suspect that they are dispensed with
altogether, as I could not find any apparatus for these operations.
My guide knew this plantation well, and he told me, that although the
proprietor had this large tract of land, yet he was so poor that he
could not afford to hire cultivators, who, when employed, never did
work enough to pay for their hire. I was anxious to ascertain the
annual quantity of coffee which this place produced, and I was told
that it did not exceed four thousand five hundred pounds weight. I have
mentioned this plantation because it is considered to be a settlement
in a productive part of the country, the mountains of Leogane; and
extraordinary as it may appear, it is a very good illustration of the
coffee settlements in general, all of which exhibit negligence and want
of that industry which characterize the Haytian planter and cultivator.

Cotton, which formerly was an article much grown in Hayti, is
now greatly neglected, although the labour attending it is very
inconsiderable, the people having no wish to extend cultivation to
those products of the soil which require planting annually. It is
both an annual and a perennial plant, but the former is esteemed as
most productive, whilst the latter is somewhat out of repute from not
affording such profitable returns. In some of the districts, when in
possession of the French, from the extreme luxuriance of the soil, a
planter could obtain, from the labour of one man, six thousand pounds
of it annually; but in these more modern times, and under the free
labour system, not more than six hundred pounds can be obtained, and
even that is only partial, and not a general thing. In the vicinity of
Gonaives it is more cultivated than in any other district, the soil
in the uplands being more congenial for its growth than it is in any
other part of the island. In the time of the French it produced about
three millions and a half of pounds weight, but in 1825 the crop only
amounted to five hundred and twenty thousand pounds. With lands so
exceedingly fertile, so peculiarly adapted for the cultivation of this
plant, it is not a very cheering prospect to see that free labour is
able to accomplish so little in the production of an article of culture
that requires such trifling exertion. What might not be accomplished by
an industrious race of people in the production of cotton, in a country
so favourable to its growth? If it were possible to waft the industry
of the peasantry of Great Britain to the shores of Hayti, what an
extraordinary effect would it have in the production of an article, the
superior quality of which would so amply repay the tillers for their
industry and care. But the Haytians care not for these things; they
are totally unconcerned about the growth of any article for foreign
consumption; they seem to have no desire beyond that of cultivating the
few vegetables required for their own immediate use, leaving all other
things to the effects of nature, even valuable articles of spontaneous
growth being sometimes permitted to rise and fall into decay without
becoming the object of the cultivator’s attention.

The culture of cocoa is not now attended to, except, I believe, in the
vicinity of Jeremie. It is a plant the nature of which is peculiarly
delicate, and requires shade as well as moisture, and it is material to
its growth, that it should be defended against the powerful rays of the
sun. The labour of cultivating it is very trifling; the most important
duty which it requires is to guard it during its approach to perfection
against the macaw and the parrot, for wherever they touch the pod,
destruction ensues. It may be considered a perennial plant, for the
fruit is found upon it throughout the greater part of the year, though
there are two principal crops, which are gathered in June and December.
After it is gathered great care must be taken of it, for before it is
prepared for market it receives a sweat by the application of salt
water, which destroys any vermin that may have got into it, and, it is
said, preserves its hue. Any vegetable production requiring so much
care in the culture and preparation of it will never become extensively
cultivated in Hayti, although it may be exceedingly profitable. The
Haytians cannot confine themselves to any settled system of planting;
and cocoa therefore requiring the greatest possible aid through the
whole progress of its growth, as well as much attention after it is
picked, will never be an article of very general culture, however
valuable it may be to the planter.

Although there are a great many fields in which the indigo grows wild,
and settlements in which it was once extensively cultivated still
exist, yet at this period but very little is produced. Its cultivation
requires the greatest care, for it has to go through a very long
process, from the picking of the leaves on which the blue is found
until it is fit to be removed into chests. This is too much for the
fickle Haytian planter to undergo. It is said to be a plant that cannot
be cultivated without shade and moisture, and that it will not bear any
other vegetable near it without sustaining great injury. It is a plant
also that exhausts the soil very considerably indeed, and at the end
of two years it has not only become degenerated, but the land which
bore it becomes weak and unfit to be again used for its production.
After the loss of Hayti to the French, they made experiments on its
growth in some parts of their dominions in Europe, and they are I think
stated to have been successful, but the quantity which they raised was
small. The indigo from Guatemala is esteemed the finest, and in that
republic is an article of very extensive cultivation, and a source of
great wealth to the people who cultivate it; but the native Spaniards
and the Indians of that country are a very industrious race of people,
and leave nothing untried which may improve their country, or enrich
themselves.

I am astonished that the cochineal insect was never extensively sought
after, and the raising of it more generally attended to in Hayti, as
the cactus, or prickly pear, on which it feeds, grows throughout the
whole of the country, and forms a common fence round gardens in many
parts of the island. So precious an insect, and requiring no labour in
the preservation of it, must be a valuable acquisition to those who
would devote their time in looking after it; but the attention which it
absolutely requires causes the Haytians to neglect it. It is said to
have been in the time of the Spaniards an indigenous insect, and that
in the districts of St. John’s and Ocoa they usually collected large
quantities for the European market.

The cultivation of tobacco has declined exceedingly, although the
districts of St. Jago and the whole of the banks of the Yague, as well
as the plains of La Vega, produced an article very little inferior in
its quality to that of Cuba. The large quantities of this commodity
which found their way to Jamaica were a source of great wealth to
the Spaniards who cultivated it; but that vent being closed, it has
now become much neglected; and as the Spanish cultivators of it
have mostly left the island, and have gone to the Spanish Main or
to Cuba, a little is still produced by the Haytian planters; but,
as with respect to every other article derived from the soil, they
are quite careless about the culture of it, and often leave it to
decay, rather than undergo the toil of preparing it for market. There
are other territorial productions which formerly were considered
important to raise, and which gave the planter very handsome returns,
such as ginger, pimento, rice, vanilla, palma christi oil (ricinus
Americanus), and sarsaparilla, as well as many indigenous plants that
contain qualities which might make a valuable addition to the number
of useful drugs now comprised in the Materia Medica. All these may now
be said to be totally disregarded, with the exception of rice, which
is occasionally grown, for I could never ascertain that any individual
devoted the least of his time to cultivating them, nor did I ever
see any of them exhibited as articles of commerce in any part of the
country.

Having now adverted to the productions of the soil in Hayti, and the
decline of agriculture through the country, it may not be improper, by
way of a conclusion to this subject, to offer a few remarks on what is
termed free labour, and the consequences which have arisen from it in
Hayti. It seems to me quite clear that this subject is by no means well
understood in Europe, and that its advocates are much too sanguine and
enthusiastic when they expect that it would be found practicable to
keep up the tillage of the colonies if their present sable cultivators
were to be set free. It is indisputable that the declaration of freedom
to the slave population in Hayti was the ruin of the country, and
that it has not been attended with those benefits which the sanguine
philanthropists of Europe anticipated. The inhabitants have neither
advanced in moral improvement, nor are their civil rights more
respected; their condition is not changed for the better. They are not
slaves, it is true, but they are suffering under greater deprivations
than can well be imagined, whilst slaves have nothing to apprehend, for
they are clothed, fed, and receive every medical aid in the time of
sickness. The free labourer in Hayti, from innate indolence and from
his state of ignorance, obtains barely enough for his subsistence. He
cares not for clothing, and as to aid under sickness he cannot obtain
it; thus he is left to pursue a course that sinks him to a level
with the brute creation, and the reasoning faculties of the one are
almost inferior to the instinct of the other, and will be so until
moral instruction effect a change. Had the Haytians been prepared for
freedom by moral and religious education, emancipation might have
done them some good; but even then, they would not have made much
progress unless agriculture had been legally imposed as a duty, and the
government enforced all the laws enacted for punishing negligence and
disobedience. I have never yet been able to discover in Hayti, that the
blacks since their emancipation have improved in the extraordinary
degree which they are sometimes represented to have done. It is
probable that those blacks who live in the towns may have improved a
little. Their intercourse with the strangers who visit the country and
their avocations afford them opportunities of improving, which are
denied to their brethren in the interior parts. But to calculate the
increase of improvement from the progress of those in the towns, is
wrong. The whole mass of the people must be taken, and then, if the
measure of moral improvement be ascertained, it will not be found to
exceed one in fifteen. The state of ignorance prevailing among the
people in the mountains and the interior parts is almost inconceivable.
It appears as if the work of civilization had not commenced, and
that the people had not taken one voluntary step towards improving
themselves in any one thing. Neither is there one step taken by the
government to force some degree of attention to those duties that may
eventually improve them, unless, since the conviction of their own
impolitic system of governing, the Code Rural should effect that change
which ought to have been accomplished before.

If any one suppose for a moment that the present race of free labourers
in Hayti resemble the free labourers of any other part of the world,
he will be most egregiously deceived. There cannot be a greater
distinction between two classes of people than there is between the
free labourers in Hayti and those of Cuba and the southern states
of North America. The first are in a state of profound ignorance,
inheriting all those vices of idolatry and heathenism so peculiar to
the African race; whilst the second, before they received the boon of
freedom, had been taught how to value it, had received the blessings of
a moral and religious education, and, although they were not admitted
into the general community of free persons, but formed a class of their
own, yet they were respected and became valuable as labourers. In the
United States the incitements to labour are great, the most important
being that of want; and until the Haytians are impelled by a stimulus
equally powerful, they will not work; and that such a stimulus will
be found is not probable, while we know that the labour of a few days
will furnish a negro with sustenance for a month. Experiments may
be tried, laws may be enacted, and encouragement given, but nothing
short of coercion and want will impel the Haytian to labour; and I
have my doubts as to the practicability of enforcing labour in Hayti
until the people have been better instructed, and their characters
become changed. As to want, the fertility of the soil is so great that
it offers every security against its occurrence, by the most simple
exertions. It is evident to me, that unless constant labour be required
for the support of the negro, he never can become like the free
labourers in other countries; and to imagine that he will work for
hire without coercion, is absolutely to imagine that to be practicable
which is physically impossible. I am well aware that it has been often
asserted that the Haytians are always found willing to contract, or
engage to perform any proportion of the work required on a plantation,
on being fairly and equitably remunerated for their labour; but I am
bold to pronounce such an assertion, come from what quarter it may,
to be unfounded. It was, I aver, out of the power of a proprietor to
obtain labourers, although the most liberal offers were made to them to
undertake a proportion of such work as he wished to be performed.

It is perhaps unfortunate that the local authorities in Hayti are
individuals without decision, and too apt to submit to the will of the
people; mere nonentities, without resolution sufficient to command
obedience in their several districts, although invested with power to
commit, or inflict summary punishment. Hence there is much reason to
presume that the enactments of the Code Rural will become inefficacious
for a more general and extensive cultivation of the soil, and that
agricultural pursuits will not be the least encouraged or promoted by
its clauses, because the task of enforcing them devolves on the very
imbecile class of persons who constitute the executive part of the
government.

Before I conclude this part of my observations, I cannot avoid
repeating, that Hayti must not be held up as an example of what can be
accomplished by free labour; but that it ought rather to be the beacon
to warn the government of England against an experiment which may prove
absolutely fatal to her colonial system. If it be not wished that a
fate similar to that which has befallen Hayti should overtake our own
colonies, that they should be rendered totally unproductive to the
revenue of the country, and that the property invested in them should
be preserved from destruction, the advisers of the crown must pause
before they listen to the ill-judged suggestions of enthusiasts; for
they must banish from their minds the idea that the work of cultivation
can be made productive by means of free labour. Such a thing appears to
me impossible. The negro, constituted as he is, has such an aversion
from labour, and so great a propensity for indulgence and vice, that no
prospect of advantage can stimulate him, and as for emulation it has
not the slightest influence over him. Without force he will sink into
lethargy, and revert to his primitive savage character, and the only
feasible and effectual plan to promote his civilization is to persist
in those measures which compel him to labour, inculcate morality, and
tend to extirpate those vices which are inherent in the descendants
of the African race. This has been often exemplified in cases of
Africans who have been taken from their native soil and educated in
England. When they have returned to the spot of their nativity, and
have beheld their kindred indulging in all the habits of savage life,
they have thrown off all traces of civilization, and embraced with all
their primeval ardour the vices of their native country. As Africa has
presented various instances of this, so has it occurred also among the
Indian tribes, not only of North but of South America.

I trust that my readers will not for a moment consider that I am
advocating the cause of slavery; that I have the most distant wish that
freedom should not be conceded to the slave population of the world;
but that, if it were possible, the whole of the British colonies should
be cultivated by free labourers. Nothing can be more opposite to my
feelings than such a supposition, for I should be one of the first to
exult were the measure practicable, and were the condition of the slave
to be changed for the better by it. But I have Hayti before me as an
example, as a forcible illustration of the evils likely to attend such
an experiment; for I am convinced that to attempt it, would inevitably
ruin all interests, be a signal for general insurrection, and the
colonies would then be lost for ever as a productive possession of the
crown, without improving the condition of the slave. I venture to make
this declaration from a knowledge of the character of the slave. From
having, during an intercourse of twenty-two years with those countries
in which slavery exists, minutely examined him in all his essential
qualities, I have been only able to arrive at the conclusion, that it
will be found an undertaking of extreme difficulty to change his nature
so as to make freedom a good to him; and even assuming that such an
attempt should be considered practicable, it is evident that it must
be the work of time, and not the result of any sudden and precipitate
act. But I would, with great deference, call upon my countrymen to
deliberate before they venture upon further experiments, unless they
wish to subvert their colonial establishments; and not to be hurried
into the adoption of any measure without the most serious consideration
of the consequences which are likely to ensue from it. I would call
upon them to examine into the state and condition of the Haytian
people, before they adopt any plan, or devise any means, for attempting
to cultivate their colonies by free labour. The state of the population
of this island is calculated to excite the most painful sensations, and
their abject sloth, indolence, and ignorance, would, I should think,
induce the warmest philanthropists of England to form the wish that
their condition were rendered equal to that of the slave population
of the British colonies. Their condition has not been improved by the
change from slaves to free labourers. In point of fact, the slave is
infinitely better off than the free labourer of Hayti; in physical
circumstances he is particularly so; and even as regards morality, the
former has the advantage. I say again that Hayti, instead of being an
example of what may be done by free labour in the tropics, or a proof
that agriculture can be successfully carried on by it, stands as a
beacon to caution us against the rock on which the prosperity of the
colonies is likely to be wrecked.



CHAPTER XII.

 Commerce.—State of exports and imports.—Exactions at
 the customs—depredations and impositions.—Foreign
 merchants—disabilities they labour under.—Insecurity.—State of
 finances.—Revenue, etc.


COMMERCE, like agriculture, in Hayti is at a very low ebb, and presents
a very discouraging view of the state of that country. Without
agriculture commerce can receive but little encouragement; and if the
cultivation of the soil decline, commerce must decline also, the one
being unquestionably dependent on the other. If there be a failure in
those territorial productions which constitute the staple commodities
of Hayti, there will be nothing to excite commercial enterprise
and speculation, and consequently the intercourse with foreigners
will decrease, to the great injury of the country. Were Hayti in a
situation to become an entrepôt for foreign property, or were it so
circumstanced as to have the means of carrying on an extensive trade
with the South American states, it might probably relieve her in some
measure from the heavy weight with which she is now borne down. But she
has no such intercourse, nor are the people in the least conversant
with the nature of it: their knowledge of commerce not extending
much beyond the limits of mere petty bartering, and all important
commercial dealings are centred in the foreign houses established
there. The British, Americans, and even the French, will not confide
in the integrity of the Haytians; all their engagements are effected,
all their arrangements are made by the agents from their respective
countries, who have patents to reside in the several parts of the
republic. An attempt was made to induce the legislative body to enact
a law for compelling foreigners to consign their cargoes or shipments
to Haytian citizen agents; and I believe Boyer was much disposed to
countenance the proposition, but it met with great disapprobation from
those individuals in the chamber of communes who were on friendly terms
with the foreigners, and who had discretion enough to foresee that
such a law would be destructive of that commerce which they were so
anxious to extend. This iniquitous law was proposed by M. Elic and M.
Ardouin, the representatives for Port au Prince, and it was supported
by other members of the chamber, who, as native agents, resided in the
several ports, but decried by those who apprehended the serious check
which foreign intercourse would receive from so unwise and impolitic a
measure. It was, however, negatived, and the proposers and supporters
of it drew upon themselves much obloquy and reproach.

The Haytian government has often promulgated very glowing abstracts of
the flourishing state of its commerce, and would seem to expect that
such accounts should be received as proofs of the _rising_ greatness of
the country. But the very documents themselves are prima facie evidence
of their being a fabrication. They are gross impositions to lead
strangers into the belief that the intercourse is of importance, and
that considerable advantages accrue from it to those nations who engage
in it with spirit, and pursue it without relaxation.

As there is no individual wealth in the country, the means of the
people depend upon their own exertions in the culture of the soil;
and therefore as cultivation has dwindled from the want of industry,
those means must have become exceedingly circumscribed. Hence it is not
probable that the annual value of the imports into the country can have
so far exceeded the exports from it, as the following statements, which
have been already before the public, particularly exhibit.

The return for the year 1821, being the year after the annexation of
Christophe’s dominions to the republic, gives the following balance of
commerce with foreign nations:—


  In 1821.                           Dollars.       Cts.

  Valuation of imports to Hayti      10,897,470       90
  Ditto of exports from Hayti         6,856,658       21
                                     ——————————
                Excess                4,040,812       79


  In 1822.

  Valuation of imports               13,017,890       19
  Ditto of exports                    9,030,397        6
                                     ——————————
                Excess                3,987,493       13


  In 1823.

  Valuation of imports               13,749,012       46
  Ditto of exports                    9,267,787       16
                                     ——————————
                Excess                4,481,225       30
                                    ———————————
                                    $12,509,531       22
                                    ———————————

Making an excess of imports into the country over the means of the
people from the value of the exports, in three years, no less a sum
than twelve million, five hundred and nine thousand, five hundred and
thirty-one dollars and twenty-two centimes, about treble the amount
of the collective wealth of the people through the whole country! In
the two succeeding years the exports and imports have kept, it would
appear, an equal pace. By the same documents also, the proportion
of the above balances with the respective countries is particularly
detailed, and the three principal ones I shall enumerate.


  In 1821.
                                  IMPORTS.                 EXPORTS.

                        Val. in Dolls.  Cts.  Val. in Dolls.  Cts.

  Great Britain           3,254,439      5      2,501,729      7
  United States           4,906,178      4      1,720,419     65
  France                  2,296,407     77      2,284,691     74
  Holland, Germany, etc.    440,446      4        349,817     75
                         —————————————————      ————————————————
                   Total 10,897,470     90      6,856,658     21
                         —————————————————      ————————————————


  In 1822.

  Great Britain           3,661,244      0      3,002,074     88
  United States           6,641,570     72      3,293,890     86
  France                  2,262,411      8      2,280,800     50
  Holland, Germany, etc.    452,664     39        453,630     82
                         —————————————————      ————————————————
                   Total 13,017,890     19      9,030,397     6
                         —————————————————      ————————————————


  In 1823.

  Great Britain           4,506,216     60      3,108,622      6
  United States           6,056,840     18      3,327,790      5
  France                  2,640,186      0      2,360,800      0
  Holland, Germany, etc.    545,769     68        470,575      5
                         —————————————————      ————————————————
                   Total 13,749,012     46      9,267,787     16
                         —————————————————      ————————————————

I think it must be admitted that documents like the foregoing carry
on the face of them evident marks of their spurious character.
Although it is a known fact that they were issued from the bureau of
government, it cannot for a moment be believed that there could be
such an extraordinary excess of imports over the exports in a country
the credit of which has been so often impeached, and the integrity of
the government and people so much questioned. It is not probable,—it
is not credible,—that the enterprising, yet wary, American should
so implicitly confide in Haytian integrity and honour as to become
a creditor of the latter to the extent of nearly nine million three
hundred thousand dollars; and that the British trader should be led
into a similar mistaken confidence, whilst France and every other
country appear to have acted with the greatest possible precaution, and
always to have obtained a quid pro quo—a consideration in return for
an equal value given.

Nothing can be more discouraging to the commercial intercourse
with Hayti, than the irregular system under which every operation
is conducted, from the highest to the lowest office of the state.
The delays and procrastinations of the officers of the customs are
exceedingly injurious both to the consignee and to the vessel: a
studied dilatoriness pervades all their proceedings. This delay is well
known to the government, and repeated representations and remonstrances
have been sent in to the proper authorities, and some remedy
particularly sought for; but they have all been unsuccessful, and the
foreign merchants were left to pursue the best course they possibly
could, to obtain some little expedition in their progress through the
customs. The only successful way to obtain this despatch is by one that
never fails in its aim, _that of a douceur_, for the principal officers
are open to bribes, and they seem determined not to do their duty
without one, so long as the government sanctions their conduct.

The inconvenience as well as the impositions under which commerce
labours in respect to the Haytian tariff furnishes another ground of
complaint among foreigners. This is a matter which ought to be taken
into the most serious consideration of the respective governments who
have representatives in that country. The delay which ensues between
the landing of the merchant’s property, and the examination of it
by the officers of the customs for the purpose of ascertaining its
qualities, agreeably to the regulations of the tariff, is not only
most injurious, but in Hayti every thing becomes so exposed that
depredations are not unfrequent, and the injured party has no remedy.
The officers of the customs afford no redress, nor will the government
make any compensation; and in a country where theft is so prevalent,
and justice so seldom overtakes the perpetrator, there is but little
security for property. I have seen many instances of goods being most
unwarrantably exposed, and all the remonstrances of the consignee have
been unavailing; there appeared on the contrary every reason to suspect
connivance on the part of those whose duty it was to protect the
property against those persons who are always on the alert to plunder,
for they were negligent, and shewed no wish to detect offenders, and
bring them to justice.

The way in which goods are valued agreeably to the tariff is a
monstrous imposition on the trader, and imperatively calls for the
most prompt and efficient remedy. Many of the articles of British
manufacture are actually subjected to a duty equal to twenty per cent.
instead of twelve, from the excess of valuation, the tariff fixing a
value nearly double the actual sale price of the goods; and although it
may be argued that the consumer pays the duty, yet it seriously affects
the sale of the article, and in most cases is felt very grievously
by the consignor. In no other country have I ever witnessed such
impositions and such depredations as are committed in Hayti, where the
injured individuals have not the least possible chance of redress. The
British government has been, however, I have no doubt, apprised of the
impositions practised by the Haytians on our commerce: hence it has
been found adviseable to obtain some change, and in future to protect
it against similar attacks. The appointment of a consul-general of
talents and decision will, I am confident, bring the Haytian government
and President Boyer to a proper sense of justice towards those British
subjects who have so long suffered from these impositions. A trade
fettered with such heavy duties, and charges of various description,
where payment is extremely uncertain and insecure, from the character
of the people and the state of the country, can never prosper if these
exactions and depredations be not effectually restrained. I have heard
of the ingenuity and dexterity evinced by the people of the South
American states in abstracting merchandize that may be exposed; but I
am confident that the Haytian may challenge competition, and on a trial
of their respective merits, I have no doubt of his being pronounced
the victor. The internal commerce of Hayti also as regards foreigners
is rendered quite unprofitable by the absurd regulations which fetter
it. The foreign merchant has no latitude given to his operations;
he is not permitted to trade with any but Haytian citizens, and to
them alone can he offer his goods. Though he might be able to effect
a more advantageous arrangement with other importers or consignees
like himself, he cannot even dispose of the produce of the country,
should he have an excess beyond the quantity which he may require
for exportation; he must ship it, however disadvantageous it may be.
Neither can the foreign merchant dispose of his goods upon the coast;
he is forced to place them under the agency of a Haytian citizen for
that purpose, and confide in people possessing but little integrity.

All the produce which the foreigner purchases for exportation must
pass through the hands of a broker, to whom he is obliged to pay a
commission. He is not allowed to make his own purchases; but this
difficulty is obviated by an understanding with the broker, that
he shall be paid the commission on what the merchant may purchase
himself. This commission is about six pence per one hundred pounds
weight of coffee, and other articles in proportion. The French, by the
arrangements of 1825, enjoy a much more extensive intercourse with
Hayti than they did previously, and from their paying only half duties
both on imports and exports, they are able to compete with the British
and Americans, who before had decidedly the advantage. I do not know
whether any arrangements are likely to be effected, by which British
commerce will be put on the same footing as that of France, although
I should hope that such a thing is not improbable, or else the little
intercourse that now exists will decline more, for the French will be
able to undersell us, having so great an advantage as half duties both
ways.

In a commercial point of view Hayti presents but little encouragement
to the speculator or adventurer. There is no extensive sphere for
mercantile operation: every thing is confined within a narrow compass.
The foreigner, with unlimited pecuniary means, has no opportunity of
employing them to advantage. The heavy exactions of the government are
too burthensome to admit of any successful application of capital, and
to invest it under the impression of security would be an error that
might bring on very fatal results. No such thing as security exists
in that country; a foreigner cannot hold property in the soil, and he
cannot, without a great deal of inconvenience and expense, obtain a
lien on the real property of a citizen. To bring it to sale for the
purpose of liquidating a debt, would be impossible, from the corrupt
administration of justice; for the judicial seat is filled by persons
who have not the least idea of either law or equity. Under all these
circumstances, Hayti cannot advance much in commerce, for she holds out
no inducements, and until the government remove the restraints which
they have put upon it, and give it greater latitude and freedom, it
will not be worth the foreigner’s seeking, for he cannot benefit by his
operations, and he is exposed to inconceivable difficulties, and often
to severe losses.

The finances of Hayti are exceedingly low; no country can labour
under greater depression in its financial state than the republic at
this moment, and there does not appear the least probability of a
revival. Without agriculture and commerce, I cannot see how they are
to be recruited, and as those are at the lowest ebb, despair seems to
me inevitable. Their application to the French government to extend
the period for the payment of the debt due for the recognition of
independence, is corroborative of their impoverished condition.
The receipts from all their sources of income are small, and their
expenditure is large, and the government is often obliged to borrow
money of the merchants in anticipation of duties they may have to pay,
for the purpose of meeting the exigences of the country; and this has
become so very frequent of late, that they have met with some refusals,
merchants entertaining much doubt as to the safety of making such
advances.

The public expenditure is estimated at about five millions of dollars
annually, which one would think cannot be true, when a reference is
made to the produce of the country. It is certain their ways and
means fall considerably short of that amount. The customs on imports
and exports produce about two million two hundred thousand dollars
annually, and the territorial duties on produce, duty on houses,
patents, tax on markets, and other taxes of minor consideration, about
the same amount; so that the total revenue of the republic does not
exceed four million four hundred thousand dollars. On this I can place
some reliance; for the best informed persons in the country, both
natives and foreigners, state that amount to be correct, and that it
is impossible that it can be greater, from the condition into which
both commerce and agriculture have sunk. The government, these last two
years, anticipated a large revenue from the produce of the mines of
Cibao, but that scheme turned out to be a fallacious ground-work of
expectation; and a great deal also was expected to be realized by sales
of the government lands, but this also has failed, from landed property
being considered at the present moment of very insecure tenure.
These two anticipated sources of revenue display the weakness of the
government, and betray their want of foresight in an amazing degree,
for nothing could be more inconsistent than to calculate upon repairing
the finances of the country by hidden treasures, or think of obtaining
any thing from mines which, had they been known to be worth working,
would never have been neglected by the Spaniards or the French. With
respect to government lands, I cannot conceive how any expectation of
deriving benefit from them could have been entertained, when it is so
notorious that the people have not a shilling to invest in the soil;
and the constitution will not permit Europeans, or white persons from
any country, to hold property in their own right, were they disposed to
do so.

No means therefore present themselves by which the finances of Hayti
can be improved, except the cultivation of its lands in good earnest,
not by partial labour, but by the most persevering industry, and by
enforcing the law for culture. Nothing short of the most strenuous
exertions in agriculture can save Hayti from the ruin which threatens
her, or can shelter her against the storm which seems to be gathering
round her. Setting aside the produce of the soil, there is no other
source from which any aid to the revenue can be derived; and if that
be not attended to, and an increase immediately obtained, the little
commercial intercourse that remains will dwindle away, and Hayti will
sink into an irrecoverable state of poverty.

Towards both the military and civil establishments they are exceedingly
illiberal. They do not adequately requite either for their services,
which causes them all to be open to bribes, by which the revenue
becomes defrauded. The soldiers of the republic are so irregularly
paid—and at times not paid at all—that they make up by plunder
wherever they have an opportunity. This is therefore a mistaken
principle of economy; but it is similar to every other proceeding of
the government, and carries with it every mark of absurdity. To reason
with them in matters of finance would have no effect, for the vanity of
Boyer and his chief advisers is such, that they think they have arrived
at perfection; they arrogate to that system of government which they
have established the praise of being the most efficient, if not the
most powerful of all the modern republics.

The same want of system and method, which is seen in every other branch
of the government, pervades the financial department. The head of that
department has no power; he is a mere nominal character, and is often
undeservedly exposed to censure from the extraordinary conduct of the
president. It is not an uncommon circumstance for the president to
issue an order on the treasurer for payment to some individual who has
had a demand upon government, and after having issued it, and before
an application can be made for payment, a subsequent order has been
given to suspend the payment of it for a time, by which injustice
the treasurer is subjected to great obloquy and abuse. This is not
an uncommon thing; many of the British and American merchants will
bear testimony to such facts, for they have often been placed in this
predicament. Many to my knowledge, who have had occasion to transmit
money to Port au Prince from some of the distant ports, have paid the
amount into the treasury, or some other government department at his
own port, and received a check on the treasurer-general for the amount,
which, when presented, has often been refused, and it has been by great
difficulty, and after great delay, that the check has been paid. So
little confidence can be placed in the integrity of the government,
that people are no longer disposed to have faith in it.

I have, I hope, said enough to deter mercantile adventurers from
falling into the trap laid for their property, by the high sounding and
vaunting reports published by the eulogists of Hayti for the purpose of
delusion.



CHAPTER XIII.

 Haytian jurisprudence.—State of the courts.—Trial by jury.—The
 judges.—Justices of the peace, their corruption.—State of the
 church.—Account of a Missionary.—Schism in the church.—Moral
 and religious state of the people—shewn by their mode of
 living.—Description of this mode.—Habitations described.—Furniture,
 &c.—Education.—Its progress.—Government do not encourage
 it.—Remarks on the consequences of not doing so.—Qualifications of
 senators and communes shew the state of knowledge and education.


IT is necessary that I should make a few remarks on the subject
of Haytian jurisprudence, and endeavour to shew my readers what
description of personages preside over the civil and criminal
departments of justice, as well as explain what sort of an individual a
Haytian justice of the peace is.

I think that every person who has had an occasion to visit Hayti,
and has been an observer of the way in which justice is generally
dispensed, will accord with me in the opinion that there may be
exhibited the symbol of justice, but that equity is never dealt out
in spirit and in substance; and that whenever it becomes unavoidable
that recourse should be had to the courts of law for a decision on
a disputed question, it is ten to one in favour of that suitor who
is the most liberal in his bribes to the judges. It is a fact which
cannot be controverted, that justice in Hayti may be bought; and those
who are appointed to administer it, cannot escape the imputation of
making the chair of justice the vehicle of corruption. Justice never
flows from a pure and unvitiated source. The civil and criminal codes
of Hayti do certainly provide for its due administration, and for the
protection of property and individuals against molestation; but there
is a laxity in the courts which deserves the severest reprobation, and
calls for a prompt remedy. There is so much procrastination, and such
inconceivable dilatoriness in the officers of the courts, that cases of
a civil nature, although of no importance and capable of being decided
at the first glance, are oftentimes heard and reheard, considered
and reconsidered, before any judgment is given; and those who may be
committed for trial for an alleged offence, are alike subjected to the
tardy proceedings of the law, and the innocent often suffers, by an
unjust imprisonment before trial, equal in duration to that which is
awarded to an offender after his conviction. The supineness and apathy
of the judges are the subjects of general condemnation, and their want
of discernment and discrimination renders it frequently necessary to
reverse or suspend the execution of their judgments.

The law establishing a trial by jury in criminal cases passed the
legislative body, I believe, in 1826, but I have not heard of any
instance in which it has been acted upon, nor do I think, from the
general incapacity of the people, that it will be acted upon. If it be,
I cannot answer for the consequences that might ensue in all cases of
crime, where a long investigation of the different allegations which
constitute it took place. Amongst the people who would be thought
eligible to be summoned on a jury by the court, few only, if any,
would be found capable of determining upon the guilt or innocence of
the party accused, and those probably would be led by their passions
to convict or acquit, without the least reference to the charge or the
evidence adduced. The trial by jury in Hayti may be a great blessing
to the people when they are taught to estimate its importance, as the
means of preserving their rights and liberties. But as they, at the
present moment, know but little of liberty but the name, and have but a
very superficial knowledge of what constitutes their rights, they are
not fit to be trusted with the performance of so important a duty as to
decide upon the innocence or guilt of their fellow men. Such being the
state of knowledge, I feel confident that the trial by jury will not
be adopted in practice until the people become more enlightened, and
knowledge be more generally diffused throughout the country.

The court of cassation, which is the court of appeal from the courts
civil and criminal, exceeds, in the tardiness of its proceedings,
all the other legal institutions of the country. There is no such
thing as an equitable decision emanating from the judges, for they are
under the surveillance of the president, and before they give their
judgment, have recourse to him to know whether their opinions meet his
approbation. If he concur, they give judgment accordingly, but should
he differ, and the question be one in which the state is a party, or
any state officer, then they are obliged to reconsider the case, and
to see _if they have not taken a wrong view of the question at issue_.
After a short period,—for it is incumbent on them to preserve their
characters as judges in equity,—they pronounce judgment with great
solemnity, and with as much appearance of that conscious rectitude of
proceeding as if their investigation of the subject had been the most
unbiassed, and their decision founded on the purest principles of law
and justice.

The proceedings in the lower courts are somewhat extraordinary in
civil cases. If a creditor institute a suit against a debtor in one
district, and obtain a verdict, the defendant is permitted to appeal
from the sentence to the court of the adjoining district, and so on
in succession throughout the whole series of district courts; and if
the last confirm the judgment of the first, the defendant can then
move it into the court of cassation, and in the event of that court
confirming the judgment of the courts below, he may appeal from it to
the president, and apply for a new trial in those courts, so that the
contest proceeds ad infinitum, however clear may be the proof adduced
of the debt being just. These unjust and inequitable acts of the judges
and president are common; and foreigners who are obliged to resort to
legal means for the recovery of their debts, find it attended with so
much procrastination and expense, in addition to the uncertainty of the
result, that they mostly wait the effect of time for the recovery of
their debts, rather than have recourse to law.

Another most extraordinary, and I call it a most unexampled power over
the courts, is vested in the hands of an officer denominated the grand
judge. He can stay execution after the judgment is confirmed as long
as he may deem it adviseable; and although at the time the party is in
possession of means to liquidate the debt, he frequently gives him one,
two, or three years to pay it. In the mean time, the debtor may dispose
of his property in a clandestine manner, the creditor being left to
lament not only the loss of his debt, but the heavy charges to which he
had been put through the whole of the delays and chicanery of the law,
and the weakness and unfairness of the judges.

The British merchants in Hayti have been subjected to the most
intolerable impositions, through the unjust proceedings of the courts
of justice; but it is probable that some check will now be put to
these iniquitous and nefarious proceedings. The consul-general is
too wary, and too sensible of the evil, not to be on the alert; and
although he may not have the power to remedy the past, I am confident
he will prevent a recurrence of it in future. His known perseverance
and determination have shaken the courts already, and his presence
there will, I think, insure to his countrymen that justice for which
they have so long sought in vain.

The judges form perhaps the most extraordinary selection of personages
that could ever have been found in any country; and their avocations
previously to their elevation to the judicial seat, have never been
professional. The grand judge, Mons. Freshnell, is an infirm man of
colour, nearly eighty years of age. Until he arrived at middle age, he
had been actively and successfully employed in the marauding career of
a pirate. His legal knowledge is just what might have been expected
from his previous avocations. He is a modest old man, it is true; for
when his present appointment was offered to him he declined it, as he
said himself, from his incompetency to fill it, and to perform the
duties which it required. Boyer however insisted on his accepting it,
and remarked “that it did not require talent or legal knowledge to
execute the duties of it, that he had only to do as he was directed
by such orders as he might receive from the bureau of government”; so
that, in fact, the first law officer of the republic is a mere tool of
the government, possessed neither of capacity nor power. He is a mere
instrument of the president, to move and act as he may be directed.

The chief judge of the court of cassation is a black, and, like that
race in general, exceedingly vain both of his talents and high station.
He is a small shopkeeper, but generally called a merchant (negociant),
and in that way he is more respectable than in his judicial capacity.
The other judges of this court are all engaged in some mercantile or
similar calling, and exhibit neither the dignity of expounders of
the law, nor the grave nor placid exterior demeanour of men on whom
devolves the important duty of distributing justice with an equal hand.

Monsieur Dieu Donney, chief judge of the lower courts, is a man of
colour, and may be considered as possessing some little knowledge in
the laws of the republic, and would, in all probability, do justice
were he permitted to do so. He is said to be a great opponent to
the practice of suspending judgments when ready for execution, and
has declared it, in the presence of the president, to be unjust and
unconstitutional, and that before long it would inevitably be the means
of driving all foreigners from the country, for it gave countenance
to the fraudulent designs of those who were in the habit of obtaining
a large amount in goods on credit, disposing of them immediately for
less than they actually cost, for the purpose of realizing the money
and investing it in lands, when they knew that in the first place
they could, by the delays of the court, prevent judgment being taken
for two years, and after judgment, might obtain three years for its
liquidation; and in fact, perhaps in the end, never pay at all, because
in the interim they might dispose of, or make over their property to
another, in trust, and laugh at their creditor with impunity.

He is, I think, an upright man, and although his talents are not of
the first order amongst his Haytian brethren, yet he makes up for this
by his integrity, and gives great satisfaction by the justice of his
decisions; but he is often controlled by the majority of his brother
judges, who are as corrupt as they are ignorant.

The idea which some of the judges have of conscience is somewhat
singular, and may not be unworthy of notice. They are all very ill paid
it is true, and consequently they are open to bribery, as I have before
mentioned; and whenever a good bribe is offered, they never consult
their consciences about the justice of the case, but give a verdict as
a quid pro quo for the douceur.

With regard to that respectable officer, a justice of the peace in
Hayti, he is almost indescribable, being a compound of bad qualities.
Speaking of them generally, they are what may be not incorrectly
denominated retailers of justice, and dispose of it to that person
who can give the most. They are persons certainly not very judiciously
selected, and in the different districts where they reside, they
exercise their power very arbitrarily, unless the parties who may
unfortunately be brought before them, for offences committed within
their jurisdiction, can afford to pay well for a little lenity. An
attempt was made by the justice of peace at Port au Prince, who is the
uncle of Boyer’s mistress, to impose on a British sailor, who had been
illegally discharged from an American vessel, in which he had sailed,
without payment of his wages, acting, it was said, under the influence
of the agents of the vessel. But the British consul-general not only
remonstrated strongly with this personage, but threatened to make it a
subject of representation to the president; the fellow however having
afterwards made some submission, and apologized for his conduct, the
matter was permitted to drop.

Having touched upon the administration of the laws of Hayti, I shall
now offer a few observations on the church establishment and the moral
and religious condition of the people.

The established religion of Hayti is the Roman Catholic, the
constitution, however, tolerates other forms according to the letter
of the law; but although it does tolerate other forms of worship, the
municipal authorities take great care that the Protestant sectarians
shall encounter every possible obstacle when they wish to meet for
the purpose of divine worship. They will not permit their meetings to
be held in a public manner, and the inhabitants are cautioned against
receiving them into their houses unless they desist from preaching.
What is therefore called toleration in Hayti it would be difficult to
define. It is not many years since, that a missionary from one of the
societies of England (I think he was a Wesleyan) was obliged to leave
the country, although that individual bore a most exemplary character,
and had very studiously avoided exciting the envy of the Catholic
priests, or giving the least umbrage to any person of that persuasion.
He set about the duties of his mission with all the ardour of his sect,
and gained many followers, but the rancour of the Catholic clergy was
roused by his success, and their malice soon became conspicuous. This
very worthy man, therefore, was subjected to great insult. His removal
was suggested to the president, and the anathemas of the church were
threatened unless he complied with their request. He was represented
by them to have aimed at subverting the doctrines of the church of
Rome, and of introducing heresy among the people, to have preached
disobedience to the established authorities, and to have ridiculed the
supremacy of the Pope. The weakness and submission of the president
forced him to expel this individual from the island. It is said,
however, that Boyer secretly enabled him to do so, by presenting him
with a sum of money, and expressing the regret he felt that any causes
of a religious character should have called upon him to exercise the
power with which the constitution had armed him, as he individually
was sensible of the unreasonableness of that jealousy which is too
predominant in the followers of the Church of Rome, and which he could
not but silently deprecate.

The Catholic church in Hayti appears to be in a very disorganized
state. The schism in the church which happened a few years ago has not
been healed, and Boyer, by expelling the bishop of Port au Prince and
Pere Jérémie, (Jeremiah O’Flinns, an Irish priest,) has incurred severe
papal censures, which, it is said, he has taken no steps to remove.
Formerly the church establishment in Hayti was numerous, there being
no less than an archbishop, three bishops, and about sixty priests and
monks. But at this time there remain only about thirty or forty of the
latter class distributed in the different parts of the country, and it
is the determination of the government not to increase their number;
the others will in future be excluded, as the poverty of the state
requires the revenue of the church in aid of its exigences.

Some of the priests who officiate, are the most abject and miserable
wretches I think I ever saw. They are poor, and in some of the interior
parts they derive their sole support from the voluntary contributions
of the inhabitants, but those in the principal towns have a tolerable
income, and seem to enjoy the good things of this world in common with
their flock. Those who attend at the shrine of Alta Gracia at Higuey
are said to be rich, but their emoluments arise principally from the
offerings of the poor deluded bigots who go there on their pilgrimage.

The people in general seem to care but little about religion, and the
conduct of the leading men of the state sets religion and morality
at defiance. The female Haytians who attend divine worship, and go
regularly to mass, are not actuated by any religious feeling. Going to
church is a mere matter of parade with them, the sabbath being a day
of festivities, and not set aside for religious devotion. The female
congregations which frequent the churches in Hayti appear better
prepared for an opera, or some other public amusement, than for the
sacred duties of offering up their prayers in adoration of the Deity.

The men seldom or never go to mass, except on the days particularly
set apart by the government as public fêtes. On these occasions the
president and all the officers of Hayti go in procession, but the idea
of devotion, I believe, never enters their contemplation. Such days
are merely set aside for celebrating some particular event, which it
is wished should be handed down to posterity. These occasions present
only the external symbol of religion, the whole people being either
ignorant or careless of its real character. Their manner and appearance
during the celebration of mass shew that they have no inward feelings
of piety or devotion.

The moral state of the people is at the lowest possible ebb. In the
towns there is perhaps the appearance of morality, and persons are apt
to conclude that they have made some progress in general, from what
they have observed in such places where opportunities are afforded of
seeing those of the inhabitants who have had the benefits of education;
but in the interior there is an infinite difference, and the people are
in the lowest state of moral degradation—every thing shews it, their
habits and manner of living. In secluded places they congregate, and
follow all the propensities of nature, and indulge in all the vices
of lust and sensuality without limits and without control. It is not
possible, I think, for any one to visit their habitations, without
returning from them with a conviction that their present state is much
below any thing that can be imagined to have existed in the worst state
of society in any part of the world. In the new republics of South
America, in which society is very backward also, the prevailing habits
present some appearance of improvement; but in the country districts of
Hayti there are no demonstrations of advancement from that deplorable
ignorance in which they seem to have existed from the period of the
revolution; no change in their loose and dissolute manners and customs,
but a fixed and determined perseverance in all the primitive vices of
the African race.

If the interior of the houses of the highest class of people even
in the towns display nothing indicative of that peculiar regard
for propriety and cleanliness which we have heard of as being so
characteristic of the people of colour, in the tropics, what will be
said of the habitations of the cultivators in the interior of Hayti,
where they resemble more the huts of the most savage tribes of the
eastern and the western world? The former are far from being in such
a condition as to make them desirable residences; for in fact they
exhibit nothing approaching to that state which is so common with
people of colour in other colonies, the sluggish occupiers caring
little about cleanliness except in the exterior ornaments of their
persons. The huts of the interior are merely mud edifices with
two rooms for the accommodation of the whole family, and in which
the slaves of the British colonies, and particularly in Jamaica,
would disdain to reside; nor would their proprietors offer them
such miserable abodes. In these houses filth and every species of
uncleanliness prevail, for the people give themselves entirely up
to their indolent and lazy habits. It is common to see the pigs and
poultry herding with the family, and whilst the latter are at their
repast, the former are in attendance, “picking the crumbs that fall
from their master’s table.” One bed often suffices for all the inmates.
The furniture consists of a very few articles, a table, a stool, two
chairs, a side board, or rather a tray on four legs, and some bowls
made from the calabash as substitutes for earthenware, with an iron
pot or two for culinary purposes. Every thing seems useful, there is
nothing ornamental, except now and then a small pier glass in a gilt
frame decorated mostly with the labours of Arachne, and a wood-cut of
the cap of liberty, considered to be an emblematical representation of
Haytian heroism.

It may not be improper to offer a few remarks on the subject of
education in the republic, and which seems to me to have been
represented in colours far too glowing. Most people, I apprehend, have
formed an opinion of the progress of education from what they have
perceived in Port au Prince, Cape Haytien, and one or two others of
the principal places, as though those places contained the largest
proportion of the population. This is an erroneous impression, as the
youth in the country parts, not having the means of education placed
within their reach, are brought up in the darkest ignorance. This
is immediately seen at any of the little villages through which the
traveller has to pass, for making an inquiry at many of them if there
were any schools, the answer was generally “there were none, except
at Port au Prince.” In the north, the public schools established by
Christophe, who really made efforts to disseminate knowledge and to
improve the morals of the people, have all been suspended and the
houses turned into barracks for the military, to the utter disgrace of
the government.

In Port au Prince there is one school supported by the republic upon
the Lancasterian principle, and a military school for young men who
are intended for the scientific departments of the army, and there is
a similar establishment at the cape; but the few schools which are to
be met with in the large towns are merely private institutions to which
youth are sent whose parents have the means of supporting them. The
ignorant cultivators give themselves no concern about procuring moral
education for their children; and on the score of religion they seldom
feel the least anxiety, for three-fourths of them are at this moment as
rank idolaters as their forefathers were in Africa.

In the towns also it should be understood the people are mostly engaged
in some mercantile avocations, or else they are handicraftsmen, or
persons holding some civil or military appointments. They therefore
have not only an opportunity of educating their children, being
contiguous to the schools, but they have the pecuniary means for doing
so. The cultivators in the country have neither; money in particular
they never have, except just as much as the sale of their vegetables on
a Sunday brings them, but which is generally disposed of in payment for
the salt provisions, and the supply of taffia required for their weekly
consumption. They have no reserve for purposes of improvement, nor are
they taught to improve; but the government seems to consider that to
keep them in ignorance is the most secure way to insure tranquillity
and repose to the country. That such is the feeling of the government I
think is quite evident from the one hundred and seventy-eighth article
of the Code Rural, which I have given before, and which orders that
children shall be sent to their fathers “to follow their condition of
life.” As long therefore as their parents continue in ignorance and
immorality, it is clear that the children have no means of profiting by
a good example. It is the prevailing sentiment of the people of colour,
that the blacks should be kept in their present state of ignorance, and
so long as the government be composed of people of the former class,
the latter will remain in their present abject condition. As the negro
is now situated, he is in a worse state of degradation than the slave;
for although he is free, he is almost excluded from the general mass
of the population; he is marked with the name of freedom, whilst he
actually groans under despotism and oppression. In this state he is
likely to remain, until some general change be effected in Hayti which
shall place him in a state of unresisted intercourse with the more
enlightened portion of the people, by which he may be taught properly
to estimate the value of liberty, and made to participate in those
blessings which it is wont to diffuse.

I do not know a circumstance that shews more clearly the backward
state of knowledge and education in Hayti than the little progress
made by the representatives of the people in the senate and in the
chamber of communes, for there are many of them who can neither read
nor write. In the senate, out of twenty-four members I could mention
four or five who, at the time I left the island, could not write their
names, nay, not even their initials. It may appear strange that the
president, who has the selection of the members who occupy seats in
the senate, should appoint men thus incapable and uneducated to become
his council and advisers. However strange this may seem to others,
it excites no surprise in my mind, because I am convinced, and it is
a matter of general notoriety, that Boyer wants only mere passive
instruments to obey, and not canvass or oppose any measures emanating
from the government. Out of about seventy-two members composing the
chamber of communes, there are twenty-six equally ignorant, and their
only qualification seems to be a sufficient degree of pliancy to yield
a ready assent to any proposition which has been submitted by the
government for their consideration.

All that government wants of the members of either house is to keep up
the appearance of legislative deliberation, to give a colour to their
own proceedings, and form a cloak to cover their plans of oppression
and rapacity. The persons selected in the different communes as
representatives, are those who have been recommended by the government,
for the people have no voice, or, what is nearly the same, they dare
not raise it against those whom the president has recommended to their
choice. These abject representatives are mere tools in the hands of
government, and as they are well paid, they care little or nothing for
the duties of the station to which they are elevated.

The senator with his one thousand two hundred dollars per annum, and
the commune with his eight hundred dollars received from the treasury,
would not hesitate to accede to any proposition, however monstrous and
unconstitutional, in order to secure his seat, and preserve the favour
of the government.



CHAPTER XIV.

 Population.—Census 1824, opinion on it.—Further statement.—Manner
 of taking the census.—Checks to increase.—Decrease is
 evident.—Nature of those checks.—Increase in United States according
 to Raymond.—Conclusion.


IT is a very difficult task to ascertain the exact number of the
population in Hayti, and I may in all probability not be correct in
the statement which was given to me, although I am convinced that the
individual from whom I received it would not knowingly have offered me
a document containing an erroneous calculation. Indeed I place great
reliance on this statement, because the official station of its author
affords him information which is not easily to be obtained from any
other source. It appears that the census said to have been taken in
the year 1824, and the particulars of which I have in my possession as
presented to me personally by Boyer, is a fabrication of government,
promulgated intentionally to astonish the nations of Europe with the
rapid increase of the population since the expulsion of the French in
the time of Dessalines. This census when taken into consideration will
appear almost incredible, and, from the irregular manner in which,
even on the confession of its advocates, it is acknowledged to have
been taken, it will be found unworthy of being received as an authentic
return. It states the number as follows:—

  In the ancient Spanish part                                     61,468
  In the part formerly under Christophe                          367,721
  In the part originally the republic established by Petion      504,146
                                                                 ———————
                         Total                                   933,335
                                                                 ———————

The incredibility attached to such a statement as the preceding will
be manifested, when it is remembered that in 1802, in the time of
Toussaint, the population

  In the ancient French part was, according to Humboldt, about   375,000
  And in the Spanish part it did not exceed                       95,000
                                                                 ———————
                         Total                                   470,000
                                                                 ———————

Now it must I think be admitted that such an increase as appears from
a comparison of these two statements cannot be probable. That the
population of any country should double in twenty-two years, cannot for
a moment be believed. Here it is represented to have more than doubled,
for there is a decrease in the Spanish part of nearly thirty-four
thousand, and the subsequent war with Le Clerc and the massacres of
Dessalines, as well as the long internal contests between Christophe
and Petion, are not taken in the scale of decrease. The census of
1824, therefore, will, I should think, appear erroneous. That it is
prima facie a fabrication, cannot be denied; and the advantage expected
to result from this falsification I cannot comprehend. By the statement
to which I have alluded as given to me, and on which I can rely as
containing a more correct return of the population of 1824, Hayti
appears to contain:—

  Blacks                                             608,400
  Coloured of all degrees                             90,700
  Strangers domiciled                                 16,400
                                                     ———————
                Total                                715,500
                                                     ———————

And about three hundred white inhabitants, consisting of foreign
merchants, tradesmen, handicraftsmen, &c.

Of the above number, the divisions are stated in this manner:—

  In the ancient Spanish part                         54,000
  The part formerly Christophe’s                     302,300
  The part originally the republic under Petion      359,200
                                                     ———————
                Total                                715,500
                                                     ———————

This account of the population carries on the face of it much more
probability than the statement of Boyer. Indeed I took no little pains
to inquire of individuals conversant with the subject, and they spoke
decidedly against the census of 1824, giving it as their opinion that
it could not have exceeded seven hundred thousand, at all events seven
hundred and twenty thousand of all degrees. It was their further
opinion that the population had not lately increased, but on the
contrary, from what they could observe in the different parts through
which they had occasion to travel on their mercantile concerns, there
appeared a great check, and that there was unquestionably an annual
decrease.

The manner in which the government proceeds in taking a census must
inevitably lead to inaccuracy and error, even where there is no design
to deceive. A census is taken in each arrondissement by the general
commanding, aided by the justices of the peace in the several parishes
composing it, and as there are no registers kept in those parishes
of births or deaths, every thing is left to estimation, occasional
visits being made to several parts of them to ascertain the number of
settlers. Now many of these proprietors have possessions in two or
three parishes within the arrondissement; and the returns of persons
composing their family are made in each of them, and thereby swell the
aggregate of the population much beyond the actual number. And further,
the census is not taken simultaneously in the several arrondissements,
but at different periods, and it is said, that the cultivators who move
from one to the other, are returned in two places.

If the people were industrious, and relaxed from those vicious courses
in which they now too much indulge; if marriage were more generally
diffused, and morality inculcated; if some system were adopted which
would tend towards a removal of the evils which now prevail through the
republic, the population would in all probability increase, but until
these are accomplished, such a result is not to be expected.

It has often been argued that labour in the colonies is a check upon
increase, and that may be possible when the labour is excessive. But
I think it will be admitted that a moderate portion of labour has a
contrary effect, and this is exemplified in those states of America
where slavery exists. In those states the increase is very great, and
excites considerable apprehension lest the slave population should
become too powerful a body to be kept in subjection. Raymond, an
American author, and a political economist, in his remarks on the
population of the United States, gives the increase of the slaves at
one and a half per cent. annually, which I think is a refutation of
the opinion of labour being a check of so serious a nature as has been
contemplated. In the British colonies I have seen instances of large
families, though the parents have undergone the regular labour of the
plantation; but in Hayti, where very little labour is performed, I was
not able to discover a solitary instance of a large family in any part
through which I had occasion to travel. In the slave states of the
North American Union, the labour of the slaves is as severe as in the
British colonies, and on travelling through them I saw as many cases
of large families among the slave population as occur among the white
people, so that even severe labour is not a check upon increase to such
a degree as many are led to imagine.

It must also be remarked, that among the Haytians there are but very
few instances of longevity, the males seldom exceeding forty or fifty
years of age, and the women probably a year or two more. At the age of
thirty, both men and women have the appearance of being prematurely
afflicted by the weight of time; the effects, no doubt, of an
unrestricted sensual intercourse and other vices, and greatly increased
by sloth and indolence. In the slave colonies, on the contrary, men and
women will be found at the age of fifty possessing all the health and
vigour of their sex, whilst those who have been emancipated, and have
imbibed the indolent habits, and pursued the licentious indulgences so
characteristic of the negro in a state of uncontrolled liberty, exhibit
the decrepitude of age even at forty.

I have offered the foregoing remarks on population with a view to shew
that it is impossible that the census taken in 1824 can be correct;
and I think it must appear conclusive, under all the circumstances
connected with the state of society, that the large increase of
population said to have taken place between the time of Dessalines and
the present period, rests upon no authority whatever. The habits of the
people manifestly oppose such a supposition. That for several years
there has been no increase, I am persuaded; and so long as the people
are permitted to indulge in all those excesses which are so prevalent
in the country, I am convinced that their number will continue to
decrease.

I have but little to advance by way of conclusion to my labours,
further than to observe that I trust it will be seen that Hayti has
been too much extolled; that the extraordinary and rapid strides
said to have been made by its inhabitants, in wealth, morality, and
knowledge, is a fiction which has not the slightest foundation; and
that, before a change can be effected, ages must roll away and a new
people be created. The present race are too hardened in vice to be
improved by example, or taught the distinction between that which
may benefit the country and that which must prove subversive of the
public good. Let loose from restraint, without having been first taught
how to enjoy freedom, they have given way to ungovernable passions,
and plunged into every species of vice. Feeling only the few wants
characteristic of the savage, and those wants easily supplied, they
are careless of all consequences, and never bestow a thought on the
future welfare either of their posterity or their country; but go on
without the least constraint, fostering and pursuing every evil and
pernicious habit. But such a state as this must bring on a crisis of
no ordinary danger and difficulty, and Hayti may yet have to endure a
repetition of those scenes of trouble and desolation which have marked
her career from the revolution; which may shake or perhaps destroy
the little fabric which she has raised, and finally bring upon her
people all those fatal consequences which spring from morals and habits
universally dissolute and relaxed.

Hayti affords us a strong instance of what may be expected from the
emancipation of slaves before they have been previously prepared to
receive this boon by moral and religious instruction, and a proof
that agriculture cannot efficiently be carried on in the colonies
if it depend on the labour of the enfranchised slave. Should it be
therefore thought expedient to declare the slaves in the British
colonies free before they have been prepared for such a measure, and
provision be made against the consequences of that sudden ebullition
which emancipation would excite, the colonies may be taken leave of
for ever as a productive appendage to the crown. Hayti bears me out in
this opinion; for that country presents a lasting monument of what may
be expected from injudicious emancipation, or what may be effected by
free labour. With the finest soil in the world for all the purposes
of tropical agriculture, with seasons the most congenial, with a
climate so varied in its temperature as to be peculiarly adapted for
the production, of not only tropical plants, but those of America and
of Europe also, with a population of labourers equal to her wants,
were they moral and industrious,—with all these important advantages
naturally adapted to raise her into eminence and wealth, yet has Hayti
sunk into the lowest state of poverty and moral degradation. Without
agriculture, for the country displays nothing but waste; without
commerce, for her harbours are empty, and present no appearance of a
revival of trade; with an exhausted treasury and a diminished revenue;
with a heavy debt and a debased currency, Hayti must finally be
overwhelmed in irretrievable ruin.

One plan however still remains to be tried, by which she may in
time perhaps recover her shattered state. Let the people be roused
to a sense of their abject condition, and if laws be enacted for
the enforcement of cultivation, let them not sleep, but be executed
with an unsparing hand, and the penalty which they impose be rigidly
inflicted on the disobedient and the indolent. Those mistaken views
of philanthropy upon which the government has hitherto proceeded have
proved destructive to the country, and the effects of ill-judged
leniency are now too heavy to be any longer borne. Coercive measures
are now, it is said, to take the place of mild ones; the people
are not to be permitted to pursue their own uncontrolled courses as
heretofore, nor the indolent to slumber with impunity. All are to
spring forward as with one impulse, to an extended culture of the soil,
for the purpose of restoring the country to its ancient condition.

I wish the promise thus held out to the world may be realized, and that
the government may still possess sufficient energy to give effect to
its declared intention; but I have my doubts of both. The president
is incompetent, and the government weak and imbecile; and whilst the
present rulers are permitted to hold the reins of the state machine, I
for one cannot hope that the country will emerge from that miserable
condition into which an unwise policy, and an overstrained and mistaken
philanthropy, have unfortunately thrown it. Time, it is said, effects
wonderful changes, but I fear no change can take place for the better
in Hayti until there be a new race of people, under the dominion of a
chief competent to rule them with efficient energy.


                               THE END.

      G. Woodfall, Printer, Angel Court, Skinner Street, London.



ERRATA.


 Page 55, for “Aux Cazes”, and throughout the volume, for “Aux Cases”,
 read “Aux Cayes”.

 65, for “parish of Acub”, read “parish of Acul”.

 199, and throughout the volume, for “Count Limonde”, read “Count
 Limonade”.

 215, for “Prince Larnders”, read “Prince Saunders”.

 238, and throughout the volume, for “Sumana”, read “Samana”.

 279, for “L’Arcahaze”, read “L’Arcahaye”.

 296, for “Llamos”, read “Llanos”.

 300, for “Cibas”, read “Cibao”.



FOOTNOTES:

[1] Walton.

[2] Anonymous.

[3] Anonymous.

[4] Anonymous.

[5] Anonymous.

[6] Letter to Sismonde.

[7] Walton, Vol. I.

[8] P. Saunders.

[9] Extract from “The Courier.”





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