Page images

"Who keeps his tempered mind serene and pure,

"And every passion aptly harmoniz'd,

"Amid a jarring world with vice inflam'd."-Thomson.

Consider the high degree of merit which will result from so early a devotion of yourselves to the service of your great Creator and bountiful Benefactor. Consider also, that our degree of happiness in the world to come, will unquestionably depend upon the degree and duration of our faithful services here.

To promote this habitual regard for religion, carefully and regularly attend to those external observances which have a powerful tendency to cherish it; particularly the weekly celebration of Public Worship, and the daily sacrifice of prayer and praise.

Thus as you grow in age will you grow in grace, and consequently in favour both with God and man.


With respect to your general deportment, I earnestly recommend that mildness of address, that suavity of manners, and that uniform courtesy of conduct, which, as with magic influence, arrests the attention and wins the esteem of all. " "Hail," said a celebrated sentimentalist, "hail! ye small sweet courtesies of life; for smooth do ye make the road of it!" Be therefore gentle; be affable; be unassuming; respectful to your superiors, condescending to your inferiors; affectionate, attentive, and polite to all. Let your intercourse with society be distinguished by ease and elegance of demeanor; by the strictest observance of punctuality in every engagement even of the most trivial nature; by the minutest and most inviolable regard to truth in every assertion, every representation. Avoid idleness as the bane of virtue, the destruction of character and the palsy of the mind. Avoid also, with the most scrupulous and determined resolution, the society of those who either

think or speak irreverently of religion, or who indulge themselves in any practices inconsistent with pure morality; for man is an imitative animal, and wonderfully prone to follow those examples which coincide with the impulse of his passions, or are recommended by the habits of those whom he esteems, or with whom he familiarly associates.


Ever bear in mind the high privilege you enjoy, and the inestimable treasure you possess, in being favoured with the spiritual light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and permitted to contemplate and obtain its precious promises. On all occasions, boldly avow your attachment to, and confidence in that divine system of faith and morals contained in the Holy Scriptures; nor at any time suffer the scoffs of infidelity, the sneers or the sarcasms of the proud, to pass unnoticed, unreproved. Your open profession of Christianity, and undaunted defence of your faith, regardless of ridicule, remonstrance, or reproach, will

of the profligate,

give a degree of solidity and dignity to your characters, which will eventually command the admiration and respect of the profane, and the approbation and affection of the pious and the wise. Distinguished merit," says an eloquent modern writer, "will ever rise superior to oppression, and will draw lustre from reproach; the vapours which gather round the rising sun, and follow it in its course, seldom fail at the close of it, to form a magnificent theatre for its reception; and to invest, with variegated tints, and with a softened effulgence, the Luminary which they cannot hide."

Cultivate, as much as possible, the company of your superiors in age, in learning, and accomplishments; from an attentive observance of whom you will inevitably acquire knowledge, anticipate experience, li beralize your sentiments, and improve your manners. Stand," says Solomon, addressing himself to the young man, "stand in the multitude of the elders, and cleave unto him that is wise. Be willing to hear every godly discourse, and let not the parables of understanding escape thee. And, if thou seest a man of understanding, get thee betimes unto him, and let thy foot wear the steps of his door."-Eccl. c. 6.


Beware of indulging loquacity, or a disposition to talk much upon all subjects. The advice was good which was given by one who had experienced the impropriety of inconsiderate communication. "Before you speak, always take out your words and look at them." Were this universally observed, how seldom would the harmony of social intercourse be interrupted! how many quarrels, how much alienation of affection would be thereby avoided!

In fine, regulate your conduct by this sententious maxim of the wisest of men," Remember the end, and thou shalt never do amiss;" the correctness of which is authenticated by the assurance of divine revelation, that every thought, word and action shall be brought into judgment in the last great day of account, and direct the decision of our future state.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Inspired by your past deportment with the hope that these sentiments will be favourably received by you, and permitted to influence your conduct, I now, most affectionately, bid you farewell, and present you with the just reward of your studious and persevering industry, in that puplic attestation of merit, which this Institution annually bestows upon her diligent and approved pupils.

[ocr errors]



The Cape, Island of Hayti, February 24, 1804.

PREVIOUS to the entertainment given by Lady Dessalines, there were several others, at which I was a guest, but none of them quite equalled hers in splendor and taste, though some of them were not far short of it. One of these was a breakfast, given by Monsieur L- -, a Frenchman, in compliment to the governor's lady, another a dinner, given by general Christophe, and a third, a supper, by Felix Ferrier, the ordonnateur general. Christophe's table was set under a large saloon of canvas, erected purposely in the street, extending from one side of it to the other, and occupying about two hundred feet in length. There were about one hundred and fifty guests, among whom were the two French priests formerly mentioned. After the dinner a large balloon was let off for the amusement of the company, which ascended in a regular manner, and sailed off to such a height as to be lost to our




The breakfast was served in elegant style at the gentleman's counAll the grand dignitaries were try house, about a mile from town. there. Lady Dessalines rode out in an old-fashioned low chariot, with three horses abreast, others rode in gigs and chairs, and some on horseback. As the grandees did not find it convenient to come until three in the afternoon, we did not sit down to breakfast till that hour. As they approached the table the general's band struck up some delightful music, which in a measure allayed the passions of some of my countrymen, who having been invited at ten o'clock, and unaccustomed to style, had taken nothing to stay their appetites, and who had been for five hours swearing at the sable gentry for keeping them so long fasting. A mulatto lady, wife or mistress to Reinet, commandant of the place, a white man, appeared on this occasion, in a complete suit of man's clothes, and several other ladies rode on horseback in the position that men do, but with gowns over their pantaloons. These two odd, and to me, strange appearances, I afterwards found to be very

common customs in this country.


Since last we have experienced a woful change in our situation. The Cape, from being one of the most lively and cheerful places on earth, has become a melancholy spot, where nothing is to be seen but despondency and wretchedness. The governor's lady has left us, and with her, all the parties, balls, and theatrical amusements have vanished. Excuse me if I trouble you with another description similar

to the one in my last. I do it that you may see the refinement of taste among the Haytians, and the degraded state to which some of our species are capable of descending through a principle of adulation, and for the purpose of courting the favours of the great.

On the fifteenth of this month a dinner was given at the theatre, in honour of Lady Dessalines, who was next day to depart from town, by the merchants of the Cape. All the Americans were invited, and most of them attended. The nobility as usual, were present, as, also the general's band of music, and a guard of soldiers. The table was laid in the horse-shoe form, with one hundred and sixty-eight covers, and wo hundred and forty dishes and vessels containing eatables. Under each plate was placed a small paper containing the following words in print:

"Première Inscription.

Gaudete Cives,

Gaudet in medio virtus.

Deuxième Inscription.

Lorsque la bien aimée en ces lieux reviendra,
L'Allegresse entre nous aussitot paraitra.

Traduction de la première Inscription.

Citoyens, soyez transportès de joie, livrez vous à l'allegresse; La vertu veut bien se réjouir parmi nous, et prendre part à nos plaisirs.


The paper containing this classical bombast was signed by its author, as if he were determined that his learning and talents should not be lost, and after the cloth was removed, printed "Verses addressed to Madame Dessalines," were distributed among the company. Their author Sans de Vertmont then stationed himself behind the illustrious lady, and upon silence being commanded, read them aloud, and was highly applauded. This particular testimony of respect and praise, was highly gratifying to the refined feelings of the distinguished fair one, who perhaps had never been so handsomely extolled, and who no doubt thought every word of it dictated by sincerity, and love. Christophe however was not to be so bamboozled; he listened attentively to the recitation, and after it was concluded, put on a kind of cunning smile, which as much as said to Sans de Vertmont, that all that would'nt save his head.

After this, a balloon, a species of high-flying compliment, was raised from the place in front of the theatre, but which unfortunately took fire before it had risen any considerable height. Fire-works and rockets were also displayed, after which the dancing commenced, and

[ocr errors]

continued with gayety and cheerfulness, until an unlucky accident occurred, which broke up the harmony of the company, and for a time suspended the entertainment. This was nothing more or less than the bench upon which Lady Dessalines and Madame Christophe with several other females of distinction were seated, giving way, which tumbled their ladyships sprawling on the floor. The music and dancing immediately ceased: the whole company was in confusion and uproar; "is she hurt!" resounded from all parts of the room; every countenance was overcast with sorrow and gloom; some ran this way with smelling bottles; some that way with water, whilst others hastened for physicians. White, yellow, brown and black, were equally distressed. In fine, it was one of the most laughable scenes to which I was ever witness, and was concluded by a loud horse-laugh from the go

vernor's lady, indicating that she was not materially hurt.

Now the idea that the mere tumble of a stout, strapping negro wench should occasion so much anxiety and alarm in so large an assembly is truly ludicrous, and the contempt one would conceive towards a company who would so basely degrade themselves as to pretend uneasiness on account of it, may be easily imagined. Such will no doubt be your

who fell; the wife of a man on whose will depend the lives of thousands.

As the

On the following morning, as was expected, Lady Dessalines with her suite took her departure for Gonaives, where her husband then was, after a pleasant visit at the Cape of about two months. safety to strangers of travelling between distant parts of the Island, I had not yet been ascertained, several Americans took advantage of this opportunity of going to the west, and went in the train of the vernor's lady. As this is probably the last I shall see of this respect


able female, I will give you some account of her.

Lady Dessalines is about the middle height for a woman, but a very thick clumsy person. She is of the very darkest black, and her face is rather handsome. Her disposition is said to be mild and gentle, and she is, take her all in all, a good woman. She has a strong prepossession in favour of white French-men, and has often saved the lives of poor wretches sentenced to death, by falling on her knees before her husband, and imploring his mercy. She is a Creole of Hispaniola, and appears to be of about five-and-thirty years of age. She is fond of riding on horseback, and is generally attended on her excursions by some of her friends, and a guard of dragoons. At home she has a retinue of female attendants in the capacity of maids of honour.

A few days after the departure of Madame Dessalines, general Christophe removed from town with his family to his country residence Grand Près, about fifteen miles from the Cape. A number of gentlemen, Americans and others, waited upon him to pay

their respects

« PreviousContinue »