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1804, the women of the Cape were conipelled to carry bullets, in the manner I once described.
About the time of our leaving Millot in the morning, the regiment which had been reviewed, set out on foot with heavy loads of brick and sand, upon their heads, for the fort, or rather for the foot of the steep hill, at which the women receive their, burdens. "In these piping times of peace," as there is no military employment for the troops, they are constantly occupied in this species of amusement, and it is by such a laborious mode of conveyance, that the materials for the construction of the fort, have been thither transported. I was truly astonished at the indefatigableness in ascending steep roads, exhibited by these soldiers, and in one instance rode in sight of a boy apparently not more than fifteen years of age, who proceeded near three miles, with a heavy load upon his head, without stopping to rest. So accustomed indeed, are both men and women in this country to carry weight upon their heads, that it is attended with little inconvenience, and a basket of sand or bricks is carried as firmly, as though it were nailed to the fellow's crown who bears it.
Having satisfied our curiosity, at 10 o'clock we left the fort on our return, and in about one hour reached Millot. We were there invited to breakfast at the house of a major Pool, a mulatto officer, by whom we were treated with much civility. Pere Corneille, the jolly French priest resident at the Cape, who occasionally preaches at this town, was of the party, and after having given us a specimen of his claim to the title of bon vivant, he favoured the company with a song. The general in chief's band of music attended us at the luxurious repast, and it was not until 3 o'clock that we arose from the breakfast table. We soon mounted our horses, and in a couple of hours reached home, well pleased with our jaunt.
I have heard it remarked, that a French marquis and a French barber make use of precisely the same kind of complimentary language. Whether this be true or not, certain it is, that the lower class of people among the French are possessed of a degree of polish in their manners, entirely unknown to
those of the same class in England or America. The Haytians, from their former domestic intercourse with the Frenchmen, have acquired a considerable similarity in their customs, and have been so successful in their imitations, that many of them fall little short of their ancient masters in politc address. An instance wherein the truth of this position was evinced, occurred at the fort, to our great diversion. It was a complete specimen of a French congé. A mulatto' man who had been some days confined, was ordered to be liberated. The prison door was opened, and the poor de vil rejoicing at his good fortune, issued forth. As soon as he had tied up a small bundle of clothes in a handkerchief, he turned round to his fellow prisoners, who were gazing at him through the iron-grated windows with a wistful look, and with all the air of politesse, which a man of quality vould use, on suddenly leaving a party of his fashionable friends at dinner, says
excusez.mcs freres." Various opinions have been entertained relative to the future state of the island, and the probability of its being again subjected to the dominion of France. I have devoted some reflection to the subject, and as the result thereof, am inclined to the opinion, that the colony will never be reduced to a peaceable submission, by any invasion of an European army. This belief is founded upon considerations which I shall proceed to state.
The animosity against the French, which now exists deeprooted in the breasts of the whole people, will always be superior to any domestic dissentions which may in time arise. Should therefore, the ambitious views of aspiring chiefs ever plunge the nation into the horrors of civil war, the first intelligence of a French expedition against the island, would be the means of restoring internal tranquillity. The contending parties would bury for the moment, their factious enmity, and co-operate with their united forces to crush the common foe. The chiefs have sworn to be cruel to every one who should “dare to talk to them of slavery," and they have also pledged themselves by a solemn oath, never to suffer a Frenchman to exist in the island, under the title of “proprietor." Liberté ou la mort is the motto of the government, and although the great body of the people have never yet tasted much of the sweets of liberty, they have con.
tracted certain notions and habits which are entirely incompatible with the system of colonial slavery. This national prejudice against the French is cherished and encouraged by various means, and in order that the rising generation, who were too young to witness the sanguinary events produced by the revo lution, may partake of the spirit of their sires, the children are taught to consider a Frenchman as the deadly foe of their liberty.
In case of the invasion by a French army (an event which is considered here as certain, whenever a peace shall take place in Europe) every advantage which appertains to a complete knowledge of the face of the country, but particularly of its mountainous parts, would be in favour of the Haytians, and such an advantage would by no means be an unimportant one. Their avowed determination, as soon as a French fieet is seen approaching their shores is, to set fire to their sea-port towns and consume them to ashes, to devastate the gardens and plantations in the plains, and to retreat to the heights. They make little calculation upon meeting so formidable an enemy as the French, in a pitched battle, as that mode of warfare is not adapted to their military genius. From the number and security of their strong holds, which are constructed principally on mountains, they will have the command of all the plantations. The coffee, which is an inhabitant of the hills, they can destroy at pleasure, and the immense fields of sugar-cane in the low grounds can be conflagrated with less labour. Of what use then to the invaders would be the possession of the port towns, where even houses would not be found with roofs to shelter them from the nocturnal air and vapours? Without the produce of the soil, their conquests would avail them nothing, and therefore to obtain this, the enemy must be pursued and destroyed. Here then commences the triumph of the blacks. They are concealed in ambush every where throughout the country. The invincible troops of Bonaparte fall in heaps by invisible hands, as they pass along the roads. They reach the foot of a mountain; they ascend with the pleasing hope of storming the fort which they behold upon its summit, and of putting to the sword its rebellious garrison. But they are deceived. They are met near the top where the ascent is steepest by rude batter
ries of cannon
“vomiting death” in their faces. Huge rocks and musquetry accompany the unwelcome salutations of the grape shot and langrage, and regiments of heroes are crushed into atoms or swept down by the torrent of balls. The sides of the mountain are crimsoned with the gore of dying armies, and the retreat of those who have not yet been sacrificed, is cut off by the treacherous system of ambuscade.
On these mountains, the plantain grows in great profusion. It is the food of negroes, morning, noon and night, and affords them an inexhaustible store of provisions. The European troops on the contrary, after the consumption of the provisions brought with them, would have to depend for a supply of food upon importations. They would find none in the island, for even the plantain which would at best afford them but a miserable sustenance, would be cut off from their reach.
But a more powerful and dangerous foe, than the desperation of men shut up in their strong holds, or the system of surprisal could present, would oppose an invading French army. I mean the climate. The paralizing arm of fell disease can with a single blow destroy more veteran soldiers than a whole legion of conquerors, and it is sufficiently well known that her ravages are extremely favoured by the torrid temperature of the WestIndies. By taking a retrospective view of the effects produced by this destructive warrior, you may be enabled to form a pretty correct estimate of what would probably be the result of another campaign. I have been assured that during the expedition under the command of Le Clerc and his successor, Rochambeau, at least thirty French generals lost their lives, most of them by sickness. If you then consider the proportion between the number of general officers and their men, and take into view the advantages which the former enjoy from their rank, in point of attention, over the miserable wretches who are crowded by platoons into the confined rooms of an hospital, you may draw very fair conclusions as to the total loss of the invaders upon this occasion. For my own part, I should presume that thirty or forty thousand lives would not be too low a calculation.
It is true that that expedition was basely and miserably conducted. The commander in chief and his principal officers had
nothing in view but their own aggrandizement. They went to St. Domingo, not so much for the purpose of reducing it to the state of a colony, as to gain wealth--not so much for the purpose of military renown, as to indulge in the luxurious ease and dissipation so congenial to the climate. They had heard that · Hispaniola was a sort of paradise, and they were desirous of attesting the truth of the assertion. But they met with disappointment. Splendour and luxury could not be attained without means, and they found that wealth could not be so easily grasped, as they had anticipated. They were led too to believe, that, the native rebels as soon as they should perceive à powerful French army
their shores, would instantly surrender up their arms, and retire peaceably to their accustomed labours; but in this expectation they were also deceived. The visionary prospects which dazzled their eyes before their departure from home, were transformed into melancholy realities. But they must be rewarded in some way fo
for their toils; and for the promotion of the grand object which had governed all their actions, they oppressed and despoiled the very people for whose relief they had been sent. The merchants were called upon for heavy sums of money, which they were compelled to pay, and in one case, Mr. Fidon, of the Cape, was shot, by the orders of Rochambeau, for not instantly complying with his villainous demand. The inhabitants generally were plundered of their goods under the lawless pretext of requisition, and the property of
мама, American merchants (without which the French army would have perished with hunger,) was forcibly purchased of its owners, for bills upon the French government, which have never been paid to this day, and probably never will be. Such a disgraceful system could not long be pursued. The remaining French chiefs, from their vile conduct, had deservedly excited the detestation of the citizens, and at the expiration of two years, with the miserable remnant of their troops, had the
embark for Jamaica, as prisoners of war to the British;
But I contend, that however ably commanded, and however well disciplined in the science of war, no European army of an hundred thousand men, or more, for the greater the number the