Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

DORSEY'S GOTHIC MANSION-FOR-THE PORT FOLIO.

[ocr errors]

The annexed engraving is a faithful representation of the Gothic Building erected in this city, in Chesnut street, between Eleventh and Twelfth streets. It has a front of sixty feet, and is twenty-six feet in depth, with a recess portico on the South, supported by Ox-eye consoles—is four stories high, including the attic or garret story: Above the ballustrade, which extends the whole length of the centre or recessed front, is a large antique, principal window, which rises into the timpan of the triangular gable. The buttresses of the Eastern and Western corridors are ornamented with niches and Saracenic tablets. A gallery connects these in front, and passes by the great window, The walls of the porch, and the jams, and soffits of the entrances are enriched with antique quatre foil guiloches, shields, escutcheons and tablets, with appropriate bass-relief sculptures, in artificial stone, by the celebrated Mr. Coade. The building recedes one hundred feet from the line of the street, and vated on a terrace of 60 by 10 feet surface, ornamented with grass and borders of shrubbery. The steps, plinths and basement are of fine white granite,

This edifice, the whole exterior of which is a correct and chaste specimen of the Gothic order; was designed and erected by John Dorsey, Esquire, whose architectural taste has greatly ornamented his native city. The élévation of the central building of the Pennsylvania Hospital, the anatomical Theatre there (which in beauty and convenience is perhaps unrivalled), much of the ornamental part of the Schuylkill permanent Bridge, the Academy of the fine arts, &c. and many private buildings owe their beauty to the taste of this gentle inan, which has been liberally exercised without reward on all these occasions. We understand that he is appointed one of the commissioners for erecting the intended public buildings at Harrisburg, and, if he is left un fettered by the unskilfulness of others, we may predict that they will not be surpassed by the public buildings of any of our sister states.

[ocr errors]

The property of the Gothic Mansion has been lately transferred to Godfrey Haga, Esquire, who, we understand, has leased it : to Mrs. Rivardi, for the use of her Boarding School and Academy. For this purpose it is admirably adapted in point of situation; and, with the proposed additions to the North front, will afford accommodations which in elegance and commodiousness, will not be equalled by any similar establishment in the United States. It is to be hoped that the principal building will be preserved in its present state, as a model of beautiful and correct architecture, and an object of gratification and delight to the curious and liberal stranger.

MEMOIRS OF HAYTI-FOR THE PORT FOLIO.

LETTER XVII.

T'he Cape, Island of Hayti, January, 1806.

a

a

As stated in a former letter, I arrived, on the fourteenth of November last from Philadelphia after a short passage of eight days, at Port de Paix a commercial town situate on the northern side of the island, about fifteen leagues westward of the Cape. Our destination was for this port, but in consequence of espying a vessel which we supposed to be a French privateer, when within a few hours' sail of it, we bore away for Port de Paix to avoid her. A pilot met and conducted us into the harbour, where we anchored in safety under the guns of a fort. It being late in the afternoon, we were informed that the

proper

officer, would not visit us that evening, and that in consequence we were not at liberty to go on shore.

On the following morning we rose early and prepared for the visit of the commandant of the place, who arrived at eight o'clock, attended by the interpreter and the captain of the port.

a

[graphic]

We saluted them as they came on board, with a respectful bow, , and received in return from the commandant a fraternal embrace. Catabaux, for that was his name, is a negro black and hugely ugly, and like most of his countrymen furnished with a pair of delicate lips. His manners were rough and awkward, though he attempted the gentleman, and his conversation coarse. He wore a sort of military dress with a cocked hat, and strutted about with a degree of consequence. After he had concluded his business, which was to obtain the name, destination, and cargo of our vessel, we invited him to take breakfast. Such an invitation in this island is seldom declined by officers of middling or inferior rank, for their pay and income is so extremely moderate, that they are enabled to live but upon a very small scale. None but the chiefs who have command of the revenue and property of the government, or who have been so fortunate as to have secured a title to some of the confiscated lands, can afford the expences of luxurious and splendid living, or to enjoy the otium cum dignitate which their ancient masters possessed in so eminent a degree. Our hungry guests were by no means particular as to the quality or variety of the viands placed before them. The biscuit, cheese and ham stood no chance in their presence, and a bottle of strong eau-de-vie, which gave an exhilarating zest to the meal, was considerably reduced by the time they rose from table. This worthy commandant can neither read nor write, and the business of his office is transacted by a white clerk, who signs even his name.

As soon as permitted the captain and myself went on shore, and as is requisite, paid a visit to the commanding general. We found Guillaume at his door in dishabille, giving orders to a subaltern officer, who stood cap in hand, bowing at the conclusion of every sentence the general uttered. He received us politely, and after we were seated on his piazza, refreshed us with a glass of claret and water, a mode of displaying hospitality which is established by universal custom throughout the island. This officer is black, of about thirty years of age, and has acquired some renown as a military character. His manners were reserved, and his air rather intended to inspire a stranger with

[graphic]

ideas of his importance, a method of enforcing respect, practised by most of the distinguished personages of the country.

We spent the remainder of the day in viewing the town, and visiting our countrymen, of whom we found two or three established in trade. Port de Paix has once been a neat pretty town of apparently three or four hundred houses, but conflagrations have reduced it to a pile of ruins, and it now exhibits much the same appearance, as so forcibly attracted my attention when I first visited the Cape. It has a small and tolerably good road for shipping, and is well defended by fortifications, but its local situation in the vicinity of extensive marshes, renders it exceedingly unhealthy. Vessels here have in frequent instances lost the whole of their crews, and there is scarcely an example of one making any considerable delay in the port, without having experienced sickness on board. The water of the town is not potable, but a stream called Les Trois Rivieres, which discharges itself into the sea within the distance of a mile or two of it, furnishes an abundant and wholesome supply to the inhabitants, to whom it is conveyed by beasts of burden. In addition to these disadvantages, the town from its particular site, is favoured with but a very small portion of that delightful seabreeze, which adds so much to the salubrity of the places under its influence. You may perhaps be surprized that a spot so

a miserably circumstanced, should ever have been selected for a town, and that that town should have arisen to so much commercial importance as Port de Paix once held. This shall be accounted for. The situation is in the immediate neighbourhood of the fertile parishes of St. Louis, Moustique and Jean Rabel, which produced in former times an abundance of the finest coffee raised in the island, and still continues so to do, though in a reduced quantity. The coffee of this quarter, particularly that of Moustique, is distinguishable by the smallness and rotundity of its grains, from the generality produced in other parts, and bears' a great resemblance to the Mocha. The harbour of Port de Paix, being protected from the violence of the easterly winds by a point of land, and from that of the nothern by the island of Tortugas which is directly in front of it, at the distance of about three lcagucs, (advantages enjoyecl

by no other anchorage in that vicinity) afforded the most eligible seat for the establishment of a mart, to which the produce of that part of the island could be transported for sale, and from which it might be exported.

At the present day its population is reduced to a very diminutive number, and its demand for foreign commodities proportionably small. Its inhabitants are miserably poor, and perhaps the facility of getting houses to live in for the mere pains and expense of repairing them, may be the only inducement for many to reside there. These circumstances together with its proximity to the Cape render it impracticable to dispose of an entire cargo, without much delay and hazard from sickness, and it is therefore seldom frequented by foreign vessels. The principal part of the coffee produced in its vicinity is transported to the Cape in boats, but the government sometimes issues orders upon that quarter for large parcels, in payment of its national debts, in which cases vessels sail there to receive it.

On the morning of the sixteenth we set sail and pursued our course for the Cape. As there was considerable danger even in this short distance of being captured by the French, we thought it prudent to take a native pilot, who being acquainted with all the small harbours on the coast, might be able to assist us in escaping should we be pursued by an enemy. A head wind and an adverse current prevented us from performing our passage with expedition, for it was not until the night of the seventeenth that we arrived off Picolct. That fort has so complete. a command of the entrance of the harbour, that we did not think it prudent to venture too near it in the dark, but preferred to lie off and on, until the morning. This we did, and at eleven o'clock of the eighteenth anchored before the town. immediately visited by the interpreter and the lieutenant of the port, who conveyed us to the shore in thcir boat which carried a flag and six gens d'armes.

Without a moment's delay, not even sufficient to exchange salutations with our countrymen who were assembled on the wharf in expectation of letters and news from home, we were hurried by the interpreter to the offices of the captain of the port and commandant of the place, whicre the repori of our ressel

We were

VOL, V.

« PreviousContinue »