Imágenes de páginas


es to obte stip of the vay. mbly ata not of

rations by burning the coffee-plantations adjacent to the plain of the Cul-de-Sac. They repulsed some troops sent from Port-auPrince, and laid waste the country for thirty miles. At length they approached Port-au-Prince; but the slaves on the sugar-plantations in this part of the country not joining the Mulatto chiefs, as they expected, some of the latter declared that they were not averse to a reconciliation, and did not wish to desolate the country, but to support the national decree of the 15th of May.

These sentiments coming to the knowledge of M. de Jumecourt, an eminent planter, he undertook the office of mediator; and, through his well-timed and powerful interposition, a convention, called the “ concordat,” was agreed, upon the 11th of September, between the free people of colour and the white inhabitants of Portau-Prince. It declared the sentence of Ogé infamous and void. It granted to the Mulattoes a voice, “ consultative et deliberative,” in all the assemblies; a perfect equality between them and the Whites; and bound the Whites to observe, without restriction, all laws passed by the national assembly. It stipulated for an oblivion of the past, and an engagement, on the part of the Whites, to admit in full force the national decree of the 15th of May.

On the 20th of September, the general assembly at Cape François issued a proclamation, declaring that they would not oppose the operation of that decree, and announced an intention to grant considerable indulgencies towards such free people of colour as were not comprehended in it, meaning those who were born of enslaved parents. They also voted the formation of certain free companies of Mulattoes, wherein men of colour, of all descriptions, should be allowed to serve as commissioned officers.

These concessions produced only a temporary truce; disappointed pride, anger, malice, hatred, and revenge, were burning in the gloomy minds of all parties.

While the justice and necessity of the decree were acknowledged, and its faithful observance promised by the colonial assembly, the national assembly in the mother country voted in a large majority, on the 24th of September, for its repeal.

Doubts had already risen in the minds of the Mulattoes concerning the good faith of the Whites with respect to the concordat, and they had insisted on a renewal and confirmation of its provisions, which was granted on the 11th of October; but no sooner was authentic information received of the proceedings in France, in the repeal of the decree, than all trust and confidence, and every hope of reconciliation vanished for ever. The Mulattoes were not to be persuaded that the planters were innocent and ignorant of the transaction: they publicly declared, that either themselves or the Whites must be utterly exterminated — there was no alternative. In the western and southern provinces they flew to arms, and a body of them became masters of Port St. Louis. Port-auPrince had been reinforced by some troops from Europe, who drove the revolters from the city with great slaughter: they, however, before their retreat, set fire to it - more than one-third of the buildings were destroyed in the conflagration.

In this war of extermination, there was a diabolical emulation which party could inflict the most abominable cruelties on the other.' In the district of the Cul de Sac, an engagement took place, in which the Negroes, being ranged in front, and acting without discipline, left 2000 dead on the field. Fifty Mulattoes were killed, and several taken prisoners. Every refinement in cruelty that the most depraved imagination could suggest was practised on these wretched men. One of the Mulatto leaders was among the number. The victors placed him on an elevated seat in a cart, and secured him in it by driving large spiked nails through his feet into the boards : his bones were afterwards broken, and he was thrown alive into the flames.

Just before Christmas, Mirbeck, Roome, and St. Leger, three commissioners nominated by the national assembly for St. Domingo, arrived at Cape François. Military honors were shewn them, and they were led in public procession to the cathedral.

Their first proceeding, after announcing the new constitution for the mother country, was to publish the decree of the 24th of September, by which the decree of the 15th of May was annulled. În a few days they proclaimed a general amnesty and pardon to such

Edwards, vol, iii. pp. 99. 110.

I “ Amidst these scenes of horror, one instance, however, occurs of such fidelity and attachment in a Negro as is equally unexpected and affecting. Monsieur and Madame Baillon, their daughter and sonin-law, and two white servants, residing on a mountain-plantation about thirty miles from Cape François, were apprised of the revolt by one of their own slaves, who was himself in the conspiracy, but promised, if possible, to save the lives of his master and his family. Having no immediate means of providing for their escape, he conducted them into an adjacent wood; after which he went and joined the revolters. The following night he found an opportunity of bringing them provisions from the rebel camp. The second night he returned again with a further supply of provisions, but declared that it would be out of his power to give them any further assistance. After this they saw nothing of the Negro for three days; but at the end of that time he came again, and directed the family how to make their way to a river

they would find a canoe on a part of the river he described, they followed his directions, found the canoe, and got safely into it, but were overset by the rapidity of the current, and, after a narrow escape, thought it best to return to their retreat in the mountains. The Negro, anxious for their safety, again found them out, and directed them to a broader part of the river, where he assured them he had provided a boat, but said it was the last effort he could make to save them. They went accordingly, but not finding the boat, gave themselves up for lost; when the faithful Negro again appeared, like their guardian angel. He brought with him pigeons, poultry, and bread, and conducted the family by slow marches in the night along the banks of the river, until they were within sight of the wharf at Port Margot, when, telling them they were entirely out of danger, he took his leave for ever, and went to join the rebels. The family were in the woods nineteen nights."

Edwards, vol. ïü. p. 80.

people, of all descriptions, as should lay down their arms, and within a certain time take the oaths required. A general amnesty to revolted slaves was considered by the Whites as a justification of their enormities, and a dangerous example to such Negroes as had been faithful. They published also the decrees for an equality of rights and of ranks, and the planters did not conceal their dissatisfaction.

The deputies of the colonial corps, instead of wearing the national colours when they waited upon the commissioners, wore black scarfs, as a sign of the general grief of the inhabitants; and those of the provincial assembly wore red scarfs, emblematic of the blood which had been shed. They insinuated, in their address, that a great part of their miseries was owing to the intrigues of what they termed a pernicious society, who neither understood the true interests of France or of her colonies. They declared openly against the measures, and begged that they might not be forced to consent to them.

The commissioners had not a sufficient force to compel obedience, and the disagreement between them and the colonial assembly palsied the efforts of both parties. Nevertheless, a negociation was opened with the Negroes, and an exchange of prisoners effected. Jean François consented to attend a conference with the commissioners, to arrange the conditions of a general agreement. The interview took place in the evening at St. Michael, near Petite Anse. The Negro general professed the most pacific sentiments, and knelt before the commissioners, who raised him up, embraced him, invited him to remain for at least that night in the house, and offered to deliver hostages for his safety. He refused to remain, but promised to return the next day for a second interview. He never returnedhis troops had their liberty, and the power of keeping it appeared every day easier : they obliged him to break off the conference. The royalists were also suspected of advising it. The “ aide-major” of the cape regiment was seen, the night after the interview, by some white prisoners, in the Negro general's camp at Tannerie, and was known to have remained there great part of the night.

Four hundred and fifty-five thousand Negroes belonged to the French part of St. Domingo this year.

The number of baptized Negroes, under the care of the Moravian missionaries in Barbadoes, consisted of forty-four adults and three children.

Mr. Montgomery, the Moravian missionary at Tobago, having lost his wife, seeing no fruit of his labours, and being ill of a dysentery, returned to Barbadoes in March : and thus ended the Moravian mission in Tobago.

Soirées Bermudiennes, pp. 142. 144. 146. Edwards, vol. iii. p. 213.

There were 250,000 Negro slaves in Jamaica, 1400 Maroons, 10,000 people of colour and free Negroes, and 30,000 Whites.

On the 2d of February, a turtler belonging to Montego Bay, Jamaica, was upset in a gale of wind. Captain Samuel Hood, of his Majesty's ship Juno, went in his barge, and saved the lives of three of the crew. One man had been drowned before Captain Hood came up with her. The danger of the attempt was such, that some of the boat's crew hesitated when ordered into the boat. Captain Hood set them the example, saying, “ I never gave an order to a sailor in my life, which I was not ready to undertake and execute myself.”

The house of assembly at Jamaica, the next day, “ Resolved, nem. con., that the receiver-general do forthwith remit to the agent of this island the sum of 100 guineas, for the purchase of a sword, to be presented to Captain Samuel Hood of his Majesty's ship Juno, ás a testimony of the high sense which this house entertains of his merit in saving (at the manifest peril of his own life, in a violent gale of wind off the port of St. Ann, on the 2d instant) the lives of three men discovered on a wreck at sea, and who must inevitably have perished, but for his gallant and humane exertions."

Captain M. Russell, in his Majesty's ship Diana, was off Montego Bay, Jamaica, the 1st of November, when the inhabitants apprehended a rising among the Negroes. The committee of safety at St. James sent off to say, they intended to salute the frigate with twenty-one guns, and requested Captain Russell to return the salute with as many as the rules of the service would admit, for the purpose of giving satisfaction to the Whites, and to deter the Blacks from attempts to disturb the public peace.

At day-break, the 21st of June, it began to rain near the Havaña, which continued till half-past two in the afternoon of the following day, with such force as to cause the greatest flood ever remembered in that country. The royal tobacco mills, and the village in which they stood, were washed away, and 257 of the inhabitants killed. In the spot where the mills stood, the water, or a partial earthquake, opened the ground to the depth of forty-five feet, and in one of the openings a river appeared of the purest water. Where the Count Baretto's house stood, was a cavity more than sixty feet deep, from which a thick smoke rose.

Four leagues from thence, the torrent was so great, that none of the inhabitants within its reach escaped. All the crops of corn and growing fruits were carried away.

Three thousand persons, and 11,700 head of cattle, are said to have perished in the flood.

August the 13th, William Woodley, Esq. was appointed governor of the Leeward Caribee islands.

which cay-breaktempts atisfactions of thoptain Rolute thee of sa

Edwards, vol. i. p. 284.

Naval Chronicle, vol. xvii. pp. 6. 453.

Chief Justice Ottley of St. Vincent, in his examination by the House of Commons, stated, that the slaves in St. Vincent were never married, and that he knew of no law to prevent a woman being taken from the man with whom she lived, and debauched by a white person. He did not recollect any cases of the kind happening, but they might have done so without his knowledge. It is clear, for the reason he himself assigns, that the domestic happiness of the slaves may have been violated to any extent, without his judicial knowledge.

By an act of Jamaica, passed this year, the testimony of slaves was admitted, without reserve, against the free Maroons of that island. 6 The enslaved Negroes, who had often, pursuant to legal requisition and encouragement, been seized and brought home, when fugitives, by these active mountaineers, had certainly here a fair invitation to revenge.”

The congregation of Moravians at Basse Terre, St. Christopher's, consisted of “ 624 souls, besides many new people, who came to beg for baptism.”

In the three Danish islands, the want of rain, which had prevailed there for about four years, killed great numbers of the Negroes. From Easter 1790 to Easter 1791, above 240 Negroes were baptised by the Methodists, and upwards of 200 were added to the communicants in that island. The whole number under the care of the missionaries in the three islands was about 8000.

At the close of this year, the two Moravian congregations in Antigua, at Gracehill and St. John's, consisted of upwards of 7400 persons, besides a great number of new people, who constantly attended public worship. The number of missionaries on the island was only five. .

Henry Botham, Esq. stated, when examined, that “ the slaves in the French islands appeared to be better clothed, better fed, and better behaved, than in the British ; and their being well fed is chiefly owing to the French planter putting a great proportion of his estate in provisions."

The British West India islands (Mr. Irving stated) produce annually a greater quantity of sugar and rum than is requisite for the consumption of Great Britain and her immediate dependencies. The extension of the culture of those islands beyond what is necessary for that supply, is not likely to promote the interests of the British empire, because the French sugars are sold by the planters 20 or 30 per cent. cheaper than the British sugars could be purchased in our islands. And it is unwise to push forward by means of bounties, &c. any branch of commerce, which cannot be carried

Stephen on West Indian Slavery, pp. 161. 182.
Coke's West Indies, vol. ii. p. 425.; vol. iii. pp. 53. 167.
Parliamentary Papers, 1791, Examination of Henry Botham, Esq.
Minutes reported to the House, April 7, 1791, Mr. Irving's Examination.

« AnteriorContinuar »