John Candler.

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THE LIBRARY OF
BROWN UNIVERSITY




THE CHURCH
COLLECTION



The Bequest of

Colonel George Earl Church

1835-1910



BRIEF NOTICES



H A Y T I



WITH ITS



CONDITION, RESOURCES, AND PROSPECTS.



JOHN CANDLER.



LONDON :

THOMAS WARD & CO., 27, PATERNOSTER ROW ;

AND

CHARLES GILPIN, 6, BISHOPSGATE STREET WITHOUT.



1842.



LONDON :

JOHNSTON AND BARRETT, PBINTEUS,
13, MA UK LAKE.



\^^-t)



INTRODUCTION.



In bringing before the public a view of the present
state of Hayti, it seemed desirable to prefix to the
narrative, a brief sketch of the history of the island.
The Author had intended to prepare such a sketch ;
but upon examining those works, both French and
English, which are considered as authorities, he
found so many discrepancies and counter state-
ments, involving the character of several of the
leaders in the late revolution, that he abandoned
the attempt in despair. The history of Hayti has
yet to be written, nor can it be written impartially,
so as to establish the truth, and the whole truth,
till the present generation shall have passed away.
The literary public of France and England may
yet look for an accession of historical materials,
that will throw great light on the late contests
between the free and the servile classes, and between
the whites and the men of colour. The present
Secretary of State for Hayti, General Inginac, who
is now advanced in age, and who was engaged in
the wars of the revolution, almost from his boy-
hood, has prepared a narrative of the passing events
of the period, both civil and military, which is
intended for publication at his decease. This nar-

a 2



IV IXTRODUCTIOX.

rative, when published, will, no doubt, illustrate
many circumstances that are now obscure, and
serve to unfold more clearly the character and
motives of some remarkable men, his contempora-
ries. It is the delight of the lovers of liberty to
dwell with enthusiasm on the talents and exploits
of Toiissalnt V Ouverture^ undoubtedly the greatest
man that took part in the revolution of St.
Domingo, and one of the ablest Generals of his
age ; but it is very doubtful whether his character,
as a leader in the great struggle, will come out
of the crucible of impartial history,^ with all that
brightness and purity that some modern narratives,
half history, half romance, seem to assign to it.
The opinion of many persons in Hayti, whether
well or ill-founded, we stop not to inquire, is cer-
tainly adverse to such high pretensions : these
individuals represent Toussaint as one of the best
men of his day ; but not as free from many of
the blemishes which generally attach to warriors.
The lines of Pope are become an axiom, and are
often quoted as decisive with regard to men who
are engasfed in the dismal work of slaughterino:
their fellows :

*' All heroes are alike : the points agreed ;
From Macedonia's madman to the Swede.''

and it is remarkable to observe, as a confirmation
of the poet's doctrine, which is true to a certain
extent, that the character of Hannibal, as penned



INTRODUCTION,



by the severe and vigorous hand of Juvenal,
has been accommodated by Dr. Johnson in his
" Vanity of Human Wishes," to represent the
Hfe and exploits of Charles the Twelfth ; and that
the portrait drawn of the latter, might, with the
omission of a line or two, and the change of half a
dozen words, be made literally to apply to Napoleon
Buonaparte. If there be any exception to the truth
of Pope's apothegm in modern days, that exception
may undoubtedly be made in favour of Washington
and Tomsaint. But those great men who act in
a public contest, where the passions of a whole
people are stirred up and roused into revengeful
activity, however mild they may be by nature, and
however disposed to act with mercy, often contract
the stains that attach to the party they embrace,
or the cause in which they embark, and exhibit in
their conduct more than a common frailty. The
civil wars of Hayti are now ended ; and happy
would it be for humanity's sake, if we could draw
the curtain of night on the many dark transactions
that disgraced the period of their progress ! The
people of that country, however, have learned from
them an awful lesson ; and this one good con-
sequence has resulted, that the Eepublic, weary of
contending with the sword, is now desirous of
keeping it sheathed in the scabbard, and of main-
taining an honourable and lasting peace.

The author of the following " brief notices"
declines the task of an historian ; but if his pages,



VI INTRODUCTION.

which are intended to exhibit tlie present state of
Hayti., with its resources and prospects, should
afford amusement or instruction, in any degree, to
those who read them, his end will be fully answered,
and he will receive all the reward he desires or
looks for.

York, Third Month, 1842.



CONTENTS.



CM AFTER I.



HAYTI, ITS GEOGRAPHY



CHAPTER II.

OUTWARD BOUND — -SHORES OF HAYTI — JAMAICA — ABOLITION

OF SLAVERY IN THE WEST INDIES (J



CHAPTER III.

RETURN TO HAYTI SANTIAGO DE CUBA — TOWN OF CAPE

HAYTIEN — PLANTATIONS IN THE PLAINS DU NORD — EXCUR-
SION TO SANS SOUCI CHRISTOPHE — GENERAL OBSERVA-
TIONS J 2



CHAPTER IV.

DEPARTURE PROM CAPE HAYTIEN — JOURNEY TO GONAIVES —
TOWN AND COMMERCE OF GONAIVES — COASTING VOYAGE TO
PORT-AU-PRINCE ,. . . . 47



CHAPTER V.

CITY OF PORT-AU-PRINCE — THE ABBE d'eCHEVERRIA

SCHOOLS — PRISON JURISPRUDENCE — INTERVIEW WITH

THE PRESIDENT G9



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER VI.



CONSTITUTION OF HAYTt CHURCH ESTABLISHMENT ARMY —

COMMERCE — FINANCE — EMPLOYMENTS AND CONDITION OP
THE PEOPLE — ESTIMATE OF THE POPULATION 86



CHAPTER Vn.

CARNIVAL AT PORT-AU-PRINCE — VISIT TO THE CUL DE SAC

SUGAR PLANTATIONS — DISTILLERIES — CONSUMPTION OF

ARDENT SPIRITS JOURNEY TO LE GRAND FOND — JOURNEY

BY LEOGANE OVER THE MOUNTAIN TO JACMEL RETURN TO

THE CAPITAL 134

CHAPTER VIII.

THE FINE ARTS — PHYSIOGNOMY OF THE NATIVES — INEFFI-
CIENCY OF THE CITY POLICE DEPARTURE FROM HAVTI

CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS 1 G2



HAYTL



CHAPTER I.

HAYTI, ITS GEOGRAPHY.

The island of Hayti, formerly Hispaniola or St.
Domingo, placed between the 18th and 20th degrees of
north latitude, and from 68 to 75 degrees west, has a
length of 360 miles from east to west, and a breadth,
varying from 60 to 120 miles. Its circumference mea-
sured by an even line, excluding the bays, is nearly
a thousand miles. This island so important for its
situation and great natural advantages, is four times
as large as Jamaica, and nearly equal in extent to
Ireland. It is situated at the entrance of the Gulf
of Mexico : is one of the four larger Antilles, and holds
the second rank after Cuba, from which it is distant
only twenty leagues. Jamaica lies westward of it
about forty leagues; and Porto Rico, a large and now
populous island belonging to Spain, twenty-two leagues
eastward. On the north are the Bahama islands, at a
distance of two or three days' sail; and southward,
separated by 700 miles of ocean, is the great continent
of South America.



2 GEOGRAPHY OF HAYTI.

The principal islands adjacent to Hayti and belonging
to it, are Gonave, La Saone, Isle de Yaclies, and Tortue,
all of considerable extent ; but all through the policy of
the government uncultivated. Hayti presents the aspect
of a large territory composed of mountains and plains,
watered by a few extensive unnavigable rivers and in-
numerable streams : it abounds in forests of mahogany
wood and other fine timber — affords a great variety of
climate ; and, displays a grandeur and beauty of natural
scenery, not surpassed in the tropical regions of the New
"World, or perhaps of the globe itself.

Like all the other islands of this region, it is subject
to awful tempests, known by their Indian name of
hurricanes, and is liable to frequent shocks of earth-
quake. The latter fonnidable phenomenon in 1564,
destroyed the newly founded city of Concepcion de la
Vega, and has occasioned at several different and dis-
tant periods, the overthrow or disturbance of Port-au-
Prince, its present capital. A line of demarcation, in
some places artificially drawn, formerly separated the
Spanish part of the island from the French ; but there
is now no political distinction of territory, the whole
country being united under one political head subject to
the same laws. The ancient part of the island where
the Spanish language is still spoken, embraces more than
two-thirds of the soil, and contains only one-sixth of
the inhabitants. The population of the Spanish part is
estimated at a hundred and thirty thousand; of the
French part, nearly seven hundred thousand. The
French or western territory, is the only part of the
island that has numerous towns and villages, and it is
here principally, that commerce carries on its exchanges
with other nations. A large quantity of mahogany



GEOGRAPHY OF HAYTI. 3

wood is exported from Santa Domingo, and a good deal
of tobacco from Santiago and Port au Platte, all towns
once belonging to the Spaniards, and still Spanish as to
language and the customs of the people ; but the great
staples of coffee, cotton, mahogany, and dye-wood, are
collected on the French side and shipped from Cape
Haytien, Port-au-Prince, Cayes, Gonaives and Jacmel.
The mountains of Hayti are many of them of great
height. The principal range, is that of Cibao, near the
centre of the island, from which other chains of hills
direrge in different directions. The peak of Cibao is
7200 feet above the level of the sea. The mountains
bearing the name of La Selle, Le Mexique, and Le
Maniel, are parts of the same range terminating on the
southern coast. La Selle has an elevation of 7000 feet,
and bears south-west of Port-au-Prince, at a distance of
forty miles. The La Hotte mountains rise in the
neighbourhood of Cayes, some of which are said to be
as high as those of La Selle and Cibao. Besides these,
there are the mountains of Monte Christo running from
the north of the island eastward to ^he Peninsula of
Samana, from the summits of which, Columbus gazed
with astonishment at the extent and fertility of the
plains below, since that period deprived by death and
massacre of its original inhabitants, and now known by
the expressive name of la despohlada or the unpeopled.
The other ranges are those of Cahos and Los Muertos,
which are rather hills than high mountains, having a
mean elevation of about 2500 feet. " This configura-
tion," says Moreau de St. Mery, " and the height of
the mountains is the cause why, notwithstanding the
great extent of many of its plains, the island when
viewed from seaboard appears mountainous altogether,
b2



4 GEOGRAPHY OF HAYTI.

and that its aspect is so forbiddino-. But the observer,"
he continues, " who contemplates these vast chains and
all the branches that diverge from them, and pursues
their various ramifications over the surface of the island,
will see at once the cause of its fertility : they form an
immense reservoir for the waters which are distributed to
the soil by rivers without number : they temper the
heat of a burning sun, arrest the fury of the winds,
and multiply the resources of human industry to an
astonishing extent."

The most spacious of the plains, *is that of Vega
eal, which traverses several of the northern depart-
ments : its length is 220 miles : it is exceedingly fertile
and well watered. Its chief produce, is tobacco of an
xcellent quality : it grows also sugar and cocoa, and
affords pasturage to large herds of cattle ; but owing to
its present sparse population, yields comparatively little
of food or agreeable luxuries to the wants of man. The
noble rivers Yague and Youna which traverse its whole
extent, will serve greatly to facilitate the transit of its
produce, whenever a large and active body of settlers
may devote themselves to the cultivation of its soil.
This plain alone might well support its million of inha-
bitants. That of Santa Domingo is the next in import-
ance, and has very few people upon it, although from its
fertility and extent of surface — 700 square leagues —
it would yield, if cultivated, an immensity of produce.
The plain of Azua has a surface of 150 square
leagues, and that of Neybe eighty square leagues. Of
the remaining plains, it is only needful to mention.
La plaine du Nord^ near Cape Haytien, and Le cul
de sac, near Port an Prince, in both of which,
sugar was formerly cultivated to a great extent, and



GEOGRAPHY OF HAYTI. 5

where a large number of sugar works and distilleries
are still in operation to furnish syrup and rum for the
home market.

The principal rivers are the Yague and Youna before
mentioned and the Artibonite, whose entire course is
160 miles long in almost a direct line, and which, dur-
ing the time of its floods, floats on its bosom to the sea,
those vast logs of mahogany that find so ready a sale in
the markets of Europe, under the name of Spanish
mahogany.

Hayti has some lakes of considerable size, where
alligators abound : it is rich also in mineral springs, and
is believed to possess vast treasures of iron and copper
ores, together with gold and silver. The mines that
contain the precious metals have long since been aban-
doned for want of capital.

Such in its physical structure, is one of the islands
we proposed to visit on our leaving home in 1839, for
a voyage to the West Indies.



OUTWARD BOUND.



CHAPTER II.

OUTWARD BOUND — SHORES OF HAYTI JAMAICA — ABO -

LITION OF SLAVERY IN THE WEST INDIES.

In the latter part of the year 1839, I left homcj
accompanied by my wife, on a missionary tour to
Jamaica. After stopping by the way at Barbados,
Martinique, Tortola, St. Thomas, and Porto Rico, our
vessel the Hecla steamer made for the windward
passage, and coasted the northern shores of Hayti.
The bold outlines of the mountains, which in many
places approached to within twenty miles of the shore,
and the numerous stupendous cliffs which beetled over
it, casting their shadows to a great distance on the
deep — the dark retreating bays, particularly that of
Samana, and extensive plains opening inland between
the lofty cloud covered hills, or running for uncounted
leagues by the sea side, covered with trees and bushes,
but affording no glimpse of a human habitation — pre-^
sented a picture of gloom and grandeur, calculated
deeply to depress the mind ; such a picture as dense
solitude unenlivened by a single trace of civilization,
is ever apt to produce. Where, we inquired of our-
selves, are the people of the country ? Where its culti-
vation ? Are the ancient Indian possessors of the soil
all extinct, and their ciiiel conquerors and successors
entombed with them in a common grave ? For hun-
dreds of miles as we swept along its shores, we saw



OUTWARD BOUND. 7

no living thing, but now and then a mariner in a
solitary skiflP, or birds of the land and ocean sailing in the
air, as if to shew us that nature had not wholly lost its
animation, and sunk into the sleep of death. Towards
the north-west extremity of the island our course
became a little enlivened : we entered the bay of Cape
Haytien, formerly Cape Fran9ois, since Cape Henry,
and now, for brevity's sake, The Cape. The terrible
fortress of La Ferriere, which commemorates the rule
of Christophe, and which serves as a mausoleum for
his remains, looked down upon us from a distant moun-
tain; two forts commanded the entrance to the harbour,
in which were numerous merchant vessels lying at
anchor, taking in or discharging their cargoes ; and on
our right hand, flanked by forest-crowned hills, rose the
city itself, once denominated the little Paris — the hand-
some city of the queen of the Antilles. Our stay was
short: we landed for two hours, left the mail from
Europe, spoke to the British Vice-Consul, visited the
markets, conversed with a few of the black citizens,
and again set saih Before we had passed through
the narrow strait that separates Tortue (the Turtle
island) from the main-land, we were gratified with
a distant view of the town of Port de Paix, rising
in amphitheatre on the hills, illumined by the rays
of the setting sun. Soon after we headed the Cape
St. Nicholas Mole; and the following day landed
at Santiago, the eastern capital of Cuba. Here as at
Cape Haytien our stay was limited to the time allowed
for post-office business ; the next day we reached King-
ston in Jamaica. It is not the object of this little
volume to detail the incidents of our travels in Jamaica,
an island so often visited and so well known ; but we



8 JAMAICA.

cannot, in connexion with it, avoid a brief notice of
that memorable event which has done so much to
change the condition of its people, and seems fraught
with such inestimable blessings to posterity. Here we
trace the interesting spectacle of a colony, once deeply
distressed and clamouring for fiscal aid to the mother-
country ; now smiling in prosperity and brightened by
mercantile hope; not long since distracted by civil dis-
turbances, the fruits of oppression inseparable from its
institutions; now enjoying peace and tranquillity, with a
docile, loyal, industrious population, whom the Queen
of England, or the ruler of any nation, might well be
gratified to own as subjects. The grand experiment of
giving unqualified freedom to the slaves of Jamaica and
our other West Indian islands, has been attended w^ith
the happiest success. All classes of the population rejoice
in the result. The prognostications of the planters and
the mortgagees of colonial property, that the slaves
when emancipated would become an idle vagabond race,
a nuisance to the soil — that the fields would go out of
cultivation — the lives of the white inhabitants be en-
dangered — and the properties ruined — these and other
prophecies of the same sackcloth cast, are all falsified by
the most gratifying facts. Just the reverse of all this
has taken place; and Jamaica and the other islands
have begun a new race of prosperity. '"'' Magnus ab
integro soeclorum 7iascitur ordo^ The labourers work
well fcr wages, and squatting and vagabondage are
unknovni. The cane and coffee fields partially ne-
glected at the coming in of freedom, owing to the
injudicious attempts of overseers and attorneys to coerce
labour, by means of rent, are recovering their former
fruitfulness. Two years have passed away in which we



WORKING OF FREEDOM. 9

have seen diminished produce, the consequence of unwise
conduct on the part of the planters ; and a third, in
which the deficiency has sprung from a visitation of
Divine providence in a long- continued drought.
Sounder views of political economy, and a wiser con-
duct than was once pursued have succeeded; the seasons
are again propitious, and there is now every reason, with
regard to the future, to look for extended commerce and
increased prosperity. In passing through Jamaica (and
we went into almost every district) we scarcely met
with a single individual who seemed to regret the
change that had taken place — not one who professed a
wish, even for gain's sake, to return to the former
system of slavery. We conversed with men of every
rank and condition, from the Governor and Judges of
tlie island to the Clerk who serves in the counting-
house, and all bore their unqualified testimony to the
important fact, that freedom works well. That it
works well for the labourer is obvious at every step of
the stranger's progress : the proofs are on every hand ;
that it works well for the proprietor is demonstrable by
a few simple and striking facts. The estates of pro-
prietors, in numerous instances, are worked at a less cost
now than under slavery. Penn or pasture land, we were
told as a matter of common observation, may be worked
cheaper than before : some of the large coffee planta-
tions we know are so worked, from the testimony of
the managers themselves ; and we have in our posses-
sion a letter from the attorney of some of the largest
sugar estates in the island, in which he distinctly tells
us, that he sees no reason why sugar properties in the
district where he lives should not be cultivated as cheap
as ever they were. To all the proprietors of such lands,

B.3



10 WORKING OP FREEDOM.

it is quite evident, that the share of the twenty millions
which fell to their lot, was given them for nothing.
The compensation money paid by Great Britain to the
planters, however it might be intended to operate, serves,
not as an indemnity to meet losses accruing from the
great and happy change from slavery to freedom, but to
clear off the accumulated and fast increasing incum-

a

brances which the oppressive and wasteful system of
slavery had induced. A large proportion of the estates
in the West Indies had been brought dreadfully into
debt, and made subject to heavy mortgages. The com-
pensation money has served to unlock the iron chests
and set the securities and title deeds free. Instead of
being subject, as formerly, to all the heavy charges of an
imperious consignee, imperious and unbending, because
the estates were under his power, the planter is now
at liberty to send his produce to the best market, to
choose for a correspondent the ablest merchant he can
find, and to bring the expenses of transport within the
utmost economical limits. One step in economy leads
to another : he looks about him on every hand :
pleased with the success of one experiment, he tries
another, and going on as a cautious, prudent man
ever will do, gets delivered from the consequences of
former poverty, neglect, and waste. The consequence
of the present state of things : of physical freedom to
the slave, and commercial freedom to the master, is this,
that landed estates are rising in value. The former
money-value of the slaves has already, in perhaps the
majority of instances, been transferred to the soil, many
properties in land now selling for a much larger sum,
than during the agitation of the slavery question the
land and the slaves would have sold for too-ether.



WORKING OP FREEDOM. 11

What a practical comment on the adage, that justice is
in all cases the truest policy ; and wliat an example to
those nations who, in spite of warning, and in defiance
of Christian principle persist in continuing slavery !

But if, instead of a pecuniary gain to the proprietor,
the planter should be able to prove a loss— if less sugar
and rum were likely to be exported, and the profits of
cane and coffee fields should sink to a minimum : what
would be the trifling inconvenience compared with the
immense advantages gained by the labouring com-
munity ? The proprietary body has rather a smaller
income than before, but the people are well clothed,
housed, and fed ; chapels and school-houses are erected,
education is sought after, public worship is frequented,
the prisons are getting gradually emptied, and a fine,
free, moral and religious peasantry tread the soil till lately
disgraced by fetters and the whip. Never was a great
moral experiment more successfully carried out than the
abolition of slavery in the British colonies ; never, in
proportion to the number who were objects of it, was a
political change attended by such speedily happy results.
May England persevere in her righteous legislation till
every vestige of slavery has ceased from her soil in the
East as well as the "West, and may her noble conduct
stimulate her daughter on the other side the Atlantic
and all other nations to follow her example.



12 RETURN TO HAYTI.



CHAPTER III.

RETURN TO HAYTI SANTIAGO DE CUBA TOWN OF CAPE

HAYTIEN — PLANTATIONS IN THE PLAINE DU NORD

EXCURSION TO SANS SOUCI — CHRISTOPHE — GENERAL
OBSERVATIONS.

The year 1840 had now nearly passed away, and the
employments which had so long detained us in Jamaica
being brought to a close, we took leave of our many
kind friends at Kingston, and went on board the
Government steamer bound for Barbados, with the
outward mail. The cabin passengers were seventeen
in number : — some bound for Cuba ; two, like ourselves,
for Hayti ; and the remainder for the windward isles,
or for Europe. The night was stormy, the wind
blowing hard a-head, but early the next morning we
lost sight of land, and at four o'clock, p.m., cast anchor
in the spacious and beautiful harbour of St. Jago.
The commander of the packet, knowing the remorse-
lessness of the Spanish character in these regions,
advised me not to go on shore, as since we landed
there twelve months before, a notification had been


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Online LibraryJohn CandlerBrief notices of Hayti: with its condition, resources, and prospects → online text (page 1 of 13)