Page images
PDF
EPUB

nature.

the borders of the river Appronague,where ber of various plants to be brought there the soil is dry and rich. There is a sort from India. Two other expeditions folof wild indigo, which naturalists call Anil, lowed in 1784 and in 1788, both from which grows without cultivation, at a the Mauritius.-The clove and cinnamon little distance from the sea it is cele- succeeded very well, the other plants brated for its medicinal qualities, and is perished on the passage; for a consider much used in all complaints of a bilious able length of time, the cultivation of these trees was prohibited to the colomists, which of course prevented their increase. This system having been abandoned, the Court sent several plants to St. Domingo and Martinique, in 1787, and 1788: at present, the government of Cayenne is occupied in increasing the spice gardens through the colony. In the latter end of 1798, it distributed a great quantity of seed, and several plants of cloves and cinnamon to all the planters who asked for them; and the gardens of the town offer to the view allies of the mango growing beside the clove tree.

The Roucou yields four harvests in the year; it fears neither caterpillars nor worms, which make such havoc amongst the canes and cotton. Nothing but the heaviest rains ever injures it, or makes it shed. The tree which produces the roucou is always loaded with fruit and flowers; its leaf resembles our winter pear-tree; its flower, our hedge-rose; its fruit, contained in a prickly busk, like our horse-chesnut, is seperated into two divisions of small seeds. A roucou tree in full bearing, is a beautiful sight; but the gathering it, like the indigo, is unhealthy. The roucou is only cultivated in Guiana, by the Indians, who stain their bodies with the red colour they extract from it. The berries of the roucou are made into a paste, which is much used in colouring different stuffs.-The Vanilla likewise thrives here; it is a native of the country; it is tall and luxuriant, like the vine; the fruit resembles the Banana; the Indians alone cultivate it, and make it an article of commerce with the colonists.

All the tropical fruits and plants are found in Guiana in abundance. The Bread Fruit and the Mango, from the East-Indies, were introduced some years ago, and have succeeded well.

The rivers abound with various kinds of fish, but they are also infested with swarms of alligators or crocodiles, as large as those of the Nile; they are so voracious, that they scruple not to attack boats, and often drag away the fisherman and his lines; some of them are full thirty feet in length, and, as the interior of the country is but little known, it is probable there are much larger ones.

The forests abounds with animals and wild beasts of every description. Tigers are very numerous, and often take off cattle from the plantations. Man has many enemies on this great continent; and amongst them serpents of an enor mous size. Were I to relate what many people of the colony have told as facts, relative to these reptiles, few would be lieve me.

In the year 1773, the Court of France détermined to establish a spice garden at Cayenne, and caused a num

The strait which separates the Island of Cayenne from the main, is about a mile and a half wide. There are but few villages on the main. Of these the chief are Synnamari and Konamana. The latter place was fixed upon for the resi dence of the unfortunate deputies, priests, and others, who were transported under the sanguinary decrees of the revolutionary tyrants. It is a wretched village, consisting of a few huts, or Indian kurbets, in a remote desert situation, surrounded with almost impenetrable forests, and distant about 90 miles from Cayenne. From this place the celebrated Senator Barthelemi, Ex-Director; Generals Pichegru, Willot, Ramel, and five others, made their escape, through the woods, to Surinam, in 1799, from whence they got to Barbadoes, where they were furnished with a passage to Europe by the British Government. The celebrated Collot d'Herbois, well known in the bloody annals of the revolution for his cruelties and murders, died here; when he was taken ill, the surgeon, who was appointed to attend the exiles, asked what was his complaint-" I have a fever, and a burning perspiration." —‹ I be lieve it well-You perspire with guilt and crimes.' Collot turned from him, and burst into tears: he called on God and the Holy Virgin to come to his assistance. A soldier, to whom, at his first arrival, he had preached his doctrine of atheism and infidelity, approached and asked him, Why he invoked that God and that Virgin, whom, but a few months be fore he had turned into ridicule ? "Ah! my friend, my tongue belied my heart." And then added, "My God, my God, dare I still hope for pardon? Oh! send

[ocr errors]

me

me some consolation; send me some one who will turn aside my eyes from the fire which consumes me. Oh God! my God! grant me some peace and comfort."

The approach of his last moments was dreadful and horrible in the extreme. While a priest was sent for, he expired in dreadful agony, vomiting blood, and every limb distorted. "Discite Justitiam moniti, et non temnere Divos."The day of his interment was a holiday. The negroes, who were to bury him, anxious to get to their dances, scarcely put him in the earth: his body became food for hogs, and birds of prey.

Such was the end of a man who possessed many excellent qualities-weak, but irascible to excess; generous with out bounds; little regarding fortune; a staunch friend, but a most implacable enemy. The revolution was his ruin; be meant to expiate his crimes in some sort, in the History of his Life, which he began; but his notes could not be found after his death.

The garrison of Cayenne consists generally of about five hundred regular troops, which, with the militia, who form a force of about fifteen hundred men, are under the command of the governor or commissioner, who has the chief military, as well as civil command. The present commissioner is the celebrated General Victor Hugues, who commanded at Guadaloupe during the revolution, and who is well known in the New World. A sketch of his life may not be unentertaining.

Victor Hugues, born at Marseilles, in France, is about the middle age and size, rather inclining to be lusty; his whole appearance is so expressive, that his most intimate and best friends dare not accost him without fear; his heavy ordinary countenance expresses the feelings of his soul; his round head is covered with short thick black hair, which stands in all directions, like the serpents of Eumenides; in passion, which is his habitual fever, his large thick lips, the seat of ill-humour, make you not wish that he should open them to speak; his forehead, covered with wrinkles, raises or lowers his heavy eye-brows upon his large, hollow black eyes. His character is an incomprehensible mixture of good and evil. He is brave, but a liar to excess; cruel, yet feeling; politic, inconsistent, and indiscreet; rash, but pusilJanimous; despotic and cringing; ambisious and crafty, sometimes loyal: his

heart brings no one affection to maturity; he carries every thing to an excess; al though objects strike upon his soul like lightning, yet they leave a strong marked, terrible impression: he recognises merit, even at the very moment when he op presses it; he destroys a feeble enemy; he respects, nay, fears, a courageous adversary, even though he triumphs over him: vengeance has made him many enemies; he easily foresees, and provides for, emergencies; ambition, avarice, the thirst of power, tarnish his virtues, influence all his thoughts, and identify themselves with his very existence: he loves nothing, wishes for nothing, toils for nothing, but gold; he sets so high a value on this metal, though he already has abundance, that he would wish the very air he breathes, the nourishment he takes, and the friends who visit him, were all composed of gold: the small portions he has scattered at Cayenne, are like the acts of generosity of the Parnai, or of Mithridates, scatterring gold upon the plains of Cisica, to dazzle and retard the conqueror. These great and varying passions are sustained by an inde fatigable ardour; a never-ceasing activity; by enlightened views; and means always certain, whatsoever they may be. Neither guilt nor virtue hinder him from employing both one and the other to serve his purpose, though he well knows the difference between them. Ever fearfui of delay, he always lays hold of the first favourable means which offers: he appears to honour atheism, which, however, he only professes outwardly.

He has a strong, sound, judgment; most retentive memory; he is a good practical seaman; a severe administra tor; an equitable and enlightened judge, when he only listens to his conscience and his understanding; an excellent man in any crisis of danger and of difficulty, when no great management is required. Although the inhabitants of Guadaloupe and Rochefontain reproach him with abuses of power, and revolutionary excesses, which decency and humanity shudder at, yet the English (and I bave been a witness to it) give the highest credit to his tactics and his bravery.

From a cabin-boy Hugues became a pilot, and afterwards a baker at St. Domingo. At the first insurrection of that colony he went over to France, and was elected a member of the Popular Society, and of the Revolutionary Tribunal, at Rochefort; got himself to be appointed agent to Guadaloupe; re-took that Island

from

from the English, and, in all the Antilles, acquired the esteem of the English, and the execration of the colonists. The stormy and unsettled times, in the midst of which he lived, has completely revolutionized his spirit, and a life of peace and tranquillity is to him a sort of anticipated death.

His very name was dreaded through the colony; his arrival was looked upon as the coming of a wild beast; ths sounds of joy gave place to those of terror and dismay. He was so well convinced of the odium which attended him, that when he was appointed to the command of Cayenne, he got a letter of recommendation from Jeannett, who succeeded him at Guadaloupe, which, on his arrival, he caused copies to be circulated in every district. The following is a copy of it:

Worthy Inhabitants of Cayenne, lay aside your fears. I know that Citizen Hugues appears terrible in your eyes; he will restore happiness to your colony; he asks no more of Fortune: he will cause you, by his clemency, to forget the miseries which Guadaloupe experienced under his government. It will be his chief ambition to deserve your confidence and esteem."

Most people took this letter for a piece of sarcastic irony, and very few, indeed, gave faith to it.

His policy began to manifest itself on his arrival. He permitted the banished Deputies to visit the Island of Cayenne, with proper passports-which was never done by former agents. He even visited their hospital. The Government, he said, had ordered him to treat them with attention. He praised those inhabitants who had done acts of kindness to them, He wished, he said, to restore peace and order. He made no change in the system of police, as left by Burnel; because the Consular Government had only appointed him provisionally. He paid off the debts of the colony, and corrected the errors of his predecessor. He gave balls and splendid entertainments. The troops which had disembarked along with him were a mixture of deserters from all nationsmen ready to undertake any thing, if the thermometer of politics should again descend to anarchy. Whenever prizes were brought in, he had their produce shared most equitably. He put the black soldiers on the same footing as the white; new-modelled their discipline, and brought them to perfection: yet, notwithstanding all this,

for the first six months he could gain no friends: he had even the precaution to get himself praised in some of the Paris journals, that the colonists might see how he was respected in France.

4

It would appear difficult to reconcile such rigorous measures as he adopted, with the good he has done the colony; and still less, with the praises which cer tain journals bestow upon him. He revived trade and commerce, by making himself a merchant. He opened, in his own name, a mercantile concern, in which he sometimes figured as a merchant, and sometimes as an agent, to set what value he thought proper on the different articles.

In the course of his long residence at Guadaloupe, he has amassed a considerable fortune. Some say he is not worth less than eighty, or a hundred thousand pounds sterling, most part of which, it is said, he has well secured in America; dreading, perhaps, were he to place it in France, some pretext would soon be found to make him disgorge some of his ill-gotten wealth.

Yet, in spite of his activity, he has experienced several losses. Famine has visited the colony no less than three times during his agency. He was never disconcerted: he caused the police to be observed with the utmost severity, and kept the negroes in subjection, more by the terror of his name, than by his proclamations.

To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.

SIR,

YOU

OUR Magazine has such just celebrity, that no prudent person chooses to have any thing left uncontradicted in that work, which is injurious to him, or the public.-In the obituary con❤ taining the Life of Miss Seward, in your Magazine for June, 1809, it is stated, p. 516, that

"The circle which the Doctor drew round him from that period (when Miss Seward was thirteen, which was in 1756) was composed of young men of acknow ledged talents, and of ardent speculative minds, whose spirits too buoyant for the beaten track of knowledge, soared to explore the yet untrodden paths of science, and give new systems to an astonished world.

"To turn aside the smooth current of nature, and to despise established usages, were the principles on which they con ducted their researches; these visionary pursuits were dignified with the appella

tion

tion of philosophy, but were evidently more calculated to gratify their own passions, and propensities, than to promote the improvement of mankind.

"Variety, and originality, were the objects of their adoration, to which they sacrificed, without remorse, reason, and common sense. Among these persons were Mr. Day, (who, from Miss Seward's own account of him, was a capricious wild enthusiast), Mr. Edgeworth, and Sir Brooke Boothby. Dr. Darwin promoted their idle schemes, and gave con sequence to their speculations, by the reputation of his genius, and the variety of his talents. In this coterie, Miss Seward's early impressions were formed in the daily habit of hearing new and ingenious hypotheses; she became enamoured of novelty, and sighed for the meed of fame, in which she was encouraged, and flattered, by the gallantry of her admirers."

Now, Sir, I directly contradict this statement; and if your anonymous correspondent will put his name to his assertions, I will prove, that they cannot be true, and will put my name to the proof. Your's, &c. 2.

[ocr errors]

To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.

SIR,

WH

HEN a few benevolent English men met together in London, twenty years ago, to commiserate the hard case of Somerset, the negro, and to endeavour to do something towards alleviating the miseries of the African slaves, it was far beyond their most sanguine expectations, that their small efforts should have led to the noble issue it has done:-That the soft voice of humanity should, contrary to the maxims of the world, and the interests of mankind, prevail against all opposition; that the influence of the rich and powerful, the ambitious views of the statesman and warrior, the strong efforts of party against party, all should stop their career, and join together to put an end to the horrors of the slave-trade. Wealth, Power, and Commerce, sacrificing, as it were, at the shrine of Pity and Compassion! Behold a wonder in heaven! the angel of benevolence coming down, having great power, and the earth is lightened with his glory!

As the world grows more enlightened, and the peaceful and benevolent principle of christianity becomes better understood; how is it that men, who call

themselves by that name, should have done so little towards ridding the world of this other great monster, Beilum, horridum Beilum! The system of wars, amongst christian princes, wars of extermination, wars ad internecionem, lose their horrid appearance, from having glory mixed with them. Certainly, wars of defence are to be justified; but we see the business of war and destruction carried on, year after year, without any specific object, or for objects which are unattainable. The prosecution of all wars, however, produces these fatal effects;-misery and destruction, in transitú to the peaceful inhabitants of every country; it drains industry of its wealth, domestic life of its peace and happiness, and every country of its hardy peasantry, and industrious labourers; while the advantage it yields, is confined to a very small number:

Quicquid delirant reges plectuntur Achivi.

It may be urged, perhaps, that this evil is a necessary one; that it always existed; and that, from the earliest ages of the world, mankind were prone to violence and war. This may be admitted; but if these things are acknowledged as existing evils, are we always to suffer under then? Was not the christian dispensation intended to correct this tendency? That governinents inay exist without war, is evident; the experiment was tried in Pennsylvania, and it succeeded better than any of its neighbours, who went on the old systein.

In the time of the Romans, pity was considered as a weakness. They steeled their minds from infancy against it. They erected no statue, no altar to pity. Their wars were cruel and bloody; particularly with the Samnites. In the second Punic war, when the Romans took the city of Agrigentum, in Sicily, they deliberately put to the sword every individual inhabitant, man, woman, and child, to the number of 80,000; and yet none of their historians make the least reflection on the barbarity of it. And, amongst the Greeks, their heroes were celebrated for their unrelenting rage; and to drag a prostrate enemy at his chariot-wheels, was the glory of Achilles. But is this the glory of an Englishman? Does not the frequent and splendid subscriptions for the wives and children of our dying soldiers and sailors, and even for our enemies, shew a more noble spirit, resident in the breasts of Englishmen ?

Let

from the English, and, in all the Antilles, for the first six months he could gain no acquired the esteem of the English, and friends: he had even the precaution to the execration of the colonists. The get himself praised in some of the Paris stormy and unsettled times, in the midst journals, that the colonists might see of which he lived, has completely revo- how he was respected in France. lutionized his spirit, and a life of peace and tranquillity is to him a sort of anticipated death.

His very name was dreaded through the colony; his arrival was looked upon as the coming of a wild beast; ths sounds of joy gave place to those of terror and dismay. He was so well convinced of the odium which attended him, that when he was appointed to the command of Cayenne, he got a letter of recommendation from Jeannett, who succeeded him at Guadaloupe, which, on his ar rival, he caused copies to be circulated in every district. The following is a copy of it :

Worthy Inhabitants of Cayenne, lay aside your fears. I know that Citizen Hugues appears terrible in your eyes; he will restore happiness to your colony; he asks no more of Fortune: he will cause you, by his clemency, to forget the miseries which Guadaloupe experienced under his government. It will be his chief ambition to deserve your confidence and esteem."

Most people took this letter for a piece of sarcastic irony, and very few, indeed, gave faith to it.

His policy began to manifest itself on his arrival. He permitted the banished Deputies to visit the Island of Cayenne, with proper passports-which was never done by former agents. He even visited their hospital. The Government, he said, had ordered him to treat them with attention. He praised those inhabitants who had done acts of kindness to them, He wished, he said, to restore peace and order. He made no change in the system of police, as left by Burnel; because the Consular Government had only appointed him provisionally. He paid off the debts of the colony, and corrected the errors of his predecessor. He gave balls and splendid entertainments. The troops which had disembarked along with him were a mixture of deserters from all nations-men ready to undertake any thing, if the thermometer of politics should again descend to anarchy. Whenever prizes were brought in, he had their produce shared most equitably. He put the black soldiers on the same footing as the white; new-modelled their discipline, and brought them to perfection: yet, notwithstanding all this,

It would appear difficult to reconcile such rigorous measures as he adopted, with the good he has done the colony; and still less, with the praises which cer tain journals bestow upon him. He revived trade and commerce, by making himself a merchant. He opened, in his own name, a mercantile concern, in which he sometimes figured as a merchant, and sometimes as an agent, to set what value he thought proper on the different articles.

In the course of his long residence at Guadaloupe, he has amassed a considerable fortune. Some say he is not worth less than eighty, or a hundred thousand pounds sterling, most part of which, it is said, he has well secured in America; dreading, perhaps, were he to place it in France, some pretext would soon be found to make him disgorge some of his ill-gotten wealth.

Yet, in spite of his activity, he has experienced several losses. Famine has visited the colony no less than three times during his agency. He was never disconcerted: he caused the police to be observed with the utmost severity, and kept the negroes in subjection, more by the terror of his name, than by his proclamations.

To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.

SIR,

Y

OUR Magazine has such just celebrity, that no prudent person chooses to have any thing left uncontradicted in that work, which is injurious to him, or the public. In the obituary containing the Life of Miss Seward, in your Magazine for June, 1809, it is stated, p. 516, that

"The circle which the Doctor drew round him from that period (when Miss Seward was thirteen, which was in 1756) was composed of young men of acknow ledged talents, and of ardent speculative minds, whose spirits too buoyant for the beaten track of knowledge, soared to explore the yet untrodden paths of science, and give new systemns to an astonished world.

"To turn aside the smooth current of nature, and to despise established usages, were the principles on which they conducted their researches; these visionary pursuits were dignified with the appella

« PreviousContinue »