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An American who was at Gonaives when the riot commenced, fearful of the consequences which were likely to result from so violent a proceeding, fled out of town, and concealed himself among the mangroves in the vicinity, until his servant brought him a horse. He mounted and rode post haste, until he reached the Cape, where he arrived on the following day, under the full impression that some of our countrymen had been killed in the affray, and that probably some of the Indigenes had been destroyed by the fire of the departing vessels. As was usual upon occasions of apparent danger, a number of us assembled in council to hear the particulars of the story, that we might be enabled to form some opinion of the effects which might possibly be produced from this unpleasant occurrence. One of the gentlemen immediately waited upon the general in chief, Christophe, and communicated the statement to him. The impressions made upon the mind of his excellency on hearing a recital of the conduct of the American captains in firing upon the fort, were by no means of an agreeable nature, but his reply in a great degree removed our apprehensions. He said that "he could not pretend to say what measures the emperor might adopt in relation to the Americans on the spot where the affair happened, but as it would be unjust to punish the innocent for the guilty, those at the Cape might rest assured of perfect security." After a few days anxiety as to the fate of our friends at Gonaives, we were relieved from our uneasiness, by learning that the cause which had occasioned it had been removed by an amicable termination of the dispute.
A few days after this, an entertainment was given by the collector of the port, at which the general in chief and many distinguished officers were present, as were also several Americans. Before dinner, whilst two of us were standing on the balcony conversing with Christophe, and viewing a vessel which had just entered the harbour, Sangos, the captain of the port, presented himself before his excellency with his hat in his hand, and bowing submissively, thus addressed him: "General, when I was about boarding that vessel which has just now ar rived, two American captains went along side of her in a boat and called aloud to those on board don't give your letters and papers to these black rascals."" It seems that the captain of
the port understood English well enough to catch the expression. He was excessively enraged, and no doubt expected to create a corresponding feeling on the part of Christophe. Such an effect too, it was natural to expect; and when I watched the general's countenance to observe the expression of his anger, I was surprized at the cool and stern manner in which he replied to Sangos. "Sir," said he harshly, "this is to be attributed solely to your negligence-Had you performed your duty by visiting that vessel as soon as she entered the port, you would have had no cause for this complaint. I myself saw her at anchor before you were alongside of her-allez-allez." The severe and peremptory style of his excellency, frightened the poor captain to such a degree, as to make him tremble, and he immediately decamped, as he had been ordered. You will understand that in this country, a quarrel between a native and a stranger, is not, as in other places, regarded as a mere matter which concerns only the parties themselves, but is considered as a national affair, in which all are interested. If a white man were to strike a negro, he would be in danger of the resentment of the whole populace, who would at once consider the blow as an insult upon the nation. Thus in the case just related, the expression of black rascals was considered as of so outrageous a character, as to be the subject of a complaint to the highest authority in the place, and it was evident to us, who were present that the thing would not be suffered to pass unnoticed. The general however was not disposed to disturb the harmony of the company by any display of passion, and when some of us suggested to him the probability that the persons who had thus misbehaved themselves were not captains, he calmly replied "do not be uneasy about it, it is an affair of little consequence which can be easily arranged." This I believe was the light in which Christophe himself regarded it, but there were others whose pride was so excessively injured, that nothing but the punishment of the offenders would satisfy them. Amongst these was Richard, commandant of the place, who with others prevailed upon Christophe on the following day to summon the captains before him. Their names were ascertained and they were accordingly sent for and examined, and as the charge was substantiated to the satisfaction
of the court, they were ordered to prison; at that moment, two American merchants who had attended the trial, interceded with the general, and pledged themselves for the correctness of the future deportment of the captains. A reversal of the sentence was hereupon obtained, and before the guard had taken the prisoners into custody, they were discharged, to the no great gratification of the commandant and the rest. However trivial such occurrences as these would be esteemed in most countries, here they are of considerable importance, and what renders them more unpleasant, is, that they leave behind them impressions which are by no means favourable to that harmony between us and the natives which is requisite to make our residence here comfortable.
Besides the murder of Decoudrés which has been mentioned above, several others have taken place in various parts of the island, accompanied by circumstances equally flagitious. A Frenchman named Thomas Thuat and two Italians, who were established as merchants in the south, I believe at Aux-Cayes, were of the number. In the case of Thuat a correspondence was said to have been detected between him and the French general Ferrand, and in that of the Italians some other pretext perhaps equally false, was raised up against them. If a man here has enemies it is no difficult matter for them to put him out of the way. Let him be charged as a spy, and very slender testimony will convict him-A young Dutchman, who lately came to the Island as a supercargo of an American vessel, had a very narrow escape. He paid a visit to the forts in the neighbourhood of the city of Dessalines, and being very particular in his observations and minute in his inquiries, he was suspected, arrested, and imprisoned for a few days, when his innocence was manifested by his youth and inexperience.
In addition to the circumstances related above, our apprehensions were once seriously excited by a report which was in general circulation among the females, by whom it was communicated to us, that on a certain day all the Americans were to be put to death. This terrifying prediction has not yet been veri-, fied, and the day appointed has passed over. Still however we cannot but suspect that the report originated from some foun
dation, but what that was we are unable to say. In fact I once heard a hint of the kind from an officer of high rank, in a conversation with an American. His language was this" The time is perhaps not far distant, when you may have occasion for my friendship and assistance."
NOTE IN 1811.
That the report alluded to was not entirely groundless, may be seen by a perusal of the following extract from a proclamation issued by Christophe in January 1807. It will be recollected that after the assassination of the emperor Dessalines in 1806, a civil war broke out between the chiefs Christophe and Petion, at the commencement of which, the latter with all his adherents was proscribed by the former. The proclamation in question was principally intended as an exposee of the conduct of the mulattoes. After a recapitulation of a long list of crimes and enormities with which the people of colour were charged, is the following paragraph.
"Have they (the mulattoes) not for a long time sought the destruction of the foreign merchants? No one is ignorant that Domaicq had a memorial published at Saint Mare, against the Americans with this intent."
REVIEW-FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
SKETCHES IN VERSE, &C. PHILADELPHIA, PRINTED BY
AMERICAN critics seem in almost all cases to have entered into a confederacy to exterminate American Poetry. If an individual has the temerity to jingle a couplet, and to avow himself descended from Americans, the offence is absolutely unpardonable, and no scourging on the part of the critic, nor submission on the part of the unfortunate author is deemed penance too severe. After the opinions, style and dialect of the author have been properly reviewed, or in more perspicuous phraseology, censured, then every misbegotten dot and comma comes in for its separate dividend of abuse. Next in the rank of dignity succeeds the type, and last of all the paper, all to suffer reproach for the mortal sin of being in any manner auxiliary to the promulgation of American Poetry. To such an exterminating extremity has
this principle been carried, that we wonder much that the unfortunate goose has escaped, whose plumage has certainly been instrumental in the perpetration of the offence, for which, the poet, the paper-maker, the printer and his types have all been severally convicted. European critics have been prudish enough in all conscience in their approbation of American literature. They have endeavoured to prove that nature degenerates on this forlorn side of the Atlantic, that every living animal, from man downwards have been degraded, that the very earth worm has lost part of its reptile dignity because it was not born in Europe. Those honest and impartial gentlemen, while they laugh at the simplicity of the Hibernian for having denominated the sun and moon of his own country to be twice the magnitude of ours, would act a far more consistent part by admitting the fact, as it would furnish a solution of their hypothesis. American critics have, with a laudable spirit of emulation, followed, and even gone bend a precedent so impartial. They have so far exceeded our European neighbours in abuse, that the task seems now fairly taken from their hands, and those critics, who before would have held it high treason against the republic of letters to have applauded any thing that savours of America, and stand ready on all occasions to denounce, have now been completely forestalled in their object. Proceeding on this axiom that it is morally impossible for an American to be right in his opinions, whether he follows their own or not, and resolving not to concur with us at all events, they have now undertaken to defend our literature against the reproaches of our own countrymen. It is a fact therefore, that our writers have found more leniency and hospitality even amongst this prejudiced class of men, on the other side of the Atlantic, than they have done on this. If a stranger should read some of our reviews, and not be forewarned of the offence, he would conclude, that the unhappy culprit had at least committed forgery, or some other crime equally heineous; no, it is an action by far more criminal, he has horresco referens! perpetrated poetry in open day. The punishment, which our judges have denounced, resembles in its nature the pillory, and if the culprit could be allowed what the clemency of the English common law sometimes admits, a commutation of punishment, a man of any