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or Messalina publicly practises her meretricious endearments, making a pride of prostitution. God forbid, my dear Christopher, that a similar spectacle should ever be exhibited any where in our beloved republic!
MEMOIRS OF HAYTI-FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
The Cape, Island of Hayti, April, 1806.
I HAVE mentioned to you upon former occasions that the Haytian chiefs have directed a considerable portion of their attention to the construction of fortifications in the interior of the country, in order that should the conquest of the island be again attempted by the French, strong holds might be reserved for the retreat of the native troops, in the event of their being compelled to abandon the coast. One of these forts I have lately had an opportunity of visiting, and as I was exceedingly astonished at its extent and apparent security, I shall describe it as well as my recollection will enable me. Much particularity however cannot be expected, for in a country, where a continual suspicion is entertained of the views of foreigners, prudence requires, that great caution should be exercised in an examination of its political state. /
Early in the last month, three or four Americans, of whom I was one, were invited by colonel Joysin to take a ride with him into the country to visit the fort called Le Ferrier, situated about seven leagues from the Cape, in a southwardly direction. Such invitations are extremely rare, and of course the one with which we were favoured, was eagerly embraced. This officer commands the second regiment, and is the same man I have in one of my early letters described in very unfavourable terms;
but as his conduct towards me since my present residence here, has been of a friendly character, I have thought it not unadviseable to make the best use of his civility. On Sunday, the ninth of March, the party set out at 4 o'clock in the morning, on horseback, in company with the colonel who was attended by his guard of dragoons. We crossed the ferry near the town, and putting our horses upon a gate which exhibited more the appearance of a race than a jaunt of pleasure, we continued our route through the pretty little village of Petit Ance, and in less than two hours, reached Millot, a small town about fifteen miles distant from the Cape. The road thus far, being across the Plaine du Cap, was almost as level as a bowling green, and I think I may with safety assert, that in the whole distance, there is not one spot of ground which is elevated twenty feet above the rest. The road is of solid earth in most places, but the surrounding lands are principally soft and marshy, and are well calculated for the cultivation of sugar. The fields of the plantations are separated by ditches and hedges, which supply the place of fences, and many of the roads are well shaded by rows of trees.
Millot is the place of residence of our military companion, and is also the spot which has been selected by the general in chief for his country retreat. It is a delightful little village, containing besides the general's mansion, several neat houses, and is situated at the very foot of the ridge of mountains, upon the summit of one of which the fort is erected. We stopped at the colonel's villa, which is a small house pleasantly situated with a piazza in front and a flower garden in the rear. We found the parlour ornamented with a number of engravings, amongst which were the likenesses of six or eight of the most distinguished French generals, and that of our great Washington. The colonel soon after entering the room, pointed the good old chief out to us, and emphatically remarked, "there is a man." During our stay at the colonel's, a soldier was brought before him, charged with having struck an unarmed man a severe blow on the arm with his sabre. The prisoner endeavoured to exculpate his conduct, but Joysin provoked at the fellow's cowardice, as he termed it, ordered him immediately to the dungeon at the fort, there to
await the punishment which "his excellency" the general in chief would inflict upon him for his base crime.
After having taken some liquid refreshment, we saw a regiment of infantry reviewed, and such a collection truly it was, that had they been under the marching orders of Jack Falstaff, he could not but have repeated his old honest confession-" If I be not asham'd of my soldiers, I am a souc'd gurnet." This operation being finished, the colonel provided us with a set of fresh horses and mules, and at seven o'clock we resumed our journey. In the vicinity of Millot, the mountain is indented by a cove, on one side of which the road ascends, until reaching its extremity it winds around and passes on the opposite side. Without such a circuitous direction the mountain could not be ascended on account of its steepness. Five miles of continual ascent brought us to a corps de garde, where we stopped and left our horses under the care of the soldiers. The fort was yet half a mile distant, situated upon the pinnacle of a peak of the mountain, of such steepness, as to be accessible only by means of an artificial road cut in a serpentine form. This part of the route was scarcely passable for the horses, and it was on that account we left them below. After much labour and fatigue, we at length reached the gate of this stupendous structure, and with the colonel at our head, gained ready admission.
During our progress up the mountain, we very sensibly perceived the variation of the atmosphere from heat to cold. We at first saw the clouds above us, whilst the power of the sun was exceedingly oppressive, then beheld them all around us, when assailed by their chilling influence, and lastly observed them floating beneath our feet. From heat almost insupportable, we were introduced to a state of such coolness as was calculated by the contrast to excite our astonishment. In one case we found the soldiers perspiring at their labour with scarcely any clothes upon their backs, and in the other the sentinel at the fort wrapped in a blanket and shivering as though he had a fit of the ague.
The Ferrier is the pride of Christophe, and has engrossed the principal part of his attention since its commencement upwards of two years ago. The chief architect whose talents have
been exercised in its construction is, I believe, Blanchet, a citizen of the Cape, who is considered as a man of colour, but who is of so light a complexion, that he might readily pass for a white man. The fort is built entirely of stone, the outer walls are about six feet thick, and perhaps twenty high, of an evident solidity, and enclose an area, as nearly as I can estimate it, of about three to four hundred feet square, which is all neatly paved. The terraces are well mounted with pieces of heavy artillery of such weight, as one would scarcely believe it practicable to convey over such rugged and steep roads. The magazine is well stored with ammunition and small arms, and every arrangement appears to have been adopted, to render the place, in the fullest sense of the word, a strong hold. In the centre of the area is a spacious government house for the residence of the general in chief, should he ever be compelled to retreat to the mountains, a strong prison for malefactors and disorderly soldiers, and a sufficient number of other buildings to accommodate those who are eventually to share in the security to result from this extensive asylum.
The prospects from the batteries of this fortification, are of a character truly sublime. On the north is a complete view of the town of the Cape, with the shipping in its harbour-the seacoast as far as the eye can reach, and the immense and fertile Plaine du Nord, which extends from the foot of the mountain to the coast, and parallel to the latter from west to east farther than the sight can command. On the west is a tremendous precipice, commencing with the very base of the walls, and extending down the side of the mountain, which in that place varies so little from a perpendicular that a rock projected from the walls, would descend at least a mile before its progress would be impeded. On this side of the fort also, are extensive views of plantations, some of which are so near, that the cultivators labouring in the fields, appear to be immediately beneath you. The rural scenery of the whole, when thus beheld from an elevation, affording so complete a bird's eye prospect, is truly picturesque and beautiful, and cannot fail to excite in the mind of the spectator the highest gratification. On the east are stupendous mountains accessible only by the road we travelled,
and on the south, ridges entirely impassable to an army, but which might possibly offer to the mountaineers of the country a passage to convey provisions to the fort, in case it should ever be so closely besieged as to require additional supplies.
The cold temperature of this elevated and pure atmosphere, sharpened our appetites. We sat down to a breakfast consisting of a sort of beefsteak, a salt mackarel, some sallad, yams, plantains and cassave, enlivened by a glass of good claret, and some icy cold water, of which latter, there is a copious supply obtained from the rains, and preserved in cisterns. Whilst upon this visit, we had an opportunity of seeing female industry in the greatest perfection. The women of the country who reside in the vicinity of the fort, are called upon in turns to perform a tour of duty there, which continues about a week. It consists in carrying sand, mortar, lime, and other articles requisite for building up to the fort, from the spot where I informed you we had left our horses, that being the steepest part of the road and entirely impassable for loaded animals. A daily task is set them of twelve loads, at the conclusion of which, they are at liberty to dance for the remainder of the day. We saw about fifty from the ages of fifteen to half a century, yellow intermixed, engaged in this arduous and severe employment. The poor wretches seemed to bear their hardship with perfect resignation, and by way of supporting their spirits, chanted a Creole chorus, similar to the songs they are accustomed to in their dances, when accompanied by the harmonious melody of the tambourine. One of the party preceded the troop bearing an old standard, composed of a stuff that looked as if it might once have been blue calimanco. Upon viewing these industrious labourers, I could not help remarking to the colonel, that I thought it a great reflexion upon his gallantry, to employ the fair sex in an occupation so extremely coarse, and so ill adapted to the softness of their delicate nature. He replied, that the fort was constructed as much for their safety as that of the men, and that of consequence it was no more than just they should contribute in some degree to its establishment. This is the fort, to which in the early part of the year