Imágenes de página

majesty over the Caucasus a few weeks afterwards—the autocrat to resume the reins of government at St. Petersburg, and the professor to re-ascend his chair of natural history at Jena, and in due time to publish the work of which we have here endeavoured to place an abstract before our readers. The book is one that cannot fail to command a large circle of readers, for the country described in it has been but seldom visited by travellers capable of conveying to the reading part of the world any fair idea of scenes of such high and varied interest. The botanical part of the work, consisting, however, merely of lists of the plants found at each place, will also, no doubt, be valuable in the eyes of those who devote a large share of their time and attention to such studies. Still, on the whole, the feeling which the book will leave behind, upon nearly every reader, will be one of disappointment. A traveller who chooses the personal narrative as a vehicle for conveying the result of his observations, ought to be a very pleasant fellow, or the constant reiteration of the first personal pronoun soon becomes intolerably wearisome. Now our professor is not a lively writer, and his adventures in the Caucasian Isthmus either were in themselves extremely monotonous, or he seems carefully to have suppressed whatever might have been amusing if related, and to have confined himself to an enumeration of his sufferings from the attacks of fleas, &c., in the wretched tenements in which he was often compelled to pass the night. Another disagreeable effect produced by the work, is the sentiment, the very reverse to respect, with which one is gradually inspired towards the author. We have given one or two instances of the selfishness with which he seems at all times to have been ready to sacrifice the comfort of others to his personal convenience, and we seek in vain for any generous action or sentiment that might have claimed our sympathy or esteem.

Had M. Dubois de Montpéreux, who visited the Caucasus nearly at the same time as Professor Koch, published his book in a less voluminous and a less expensive form, the professor's would have had comparatively few readers. Following the Frenchman, however, in the order of publication, M. Koch has been able to introduce into his own work much of what was most valuable in his predecessor's, and thus to present a more marketable commodity to the public, which, till a traveller better qualified for the task follow in the track, will probably be looked to as an authority in matters relating to this interesting portion of the globe.


Art. V.-). Essai sur les causes de la Révolution et des

Guerres Civiles de Hayti. Par le Baron de Vastey. 2. Réflexions Politiques. Idem. 3. Mémoires pour servir à l'Histoire de la Révolution de Saint

Domingue. Par le Baron Pamphile de Lacroix. 4. Notes on Hayti. By Charles Mackenzie, Esq. 5. Brief Notices of Hayti. By John Candler. 6. Sketches of Hayti. By W. W. Harvey. The recent extraordinary and bloodless revolution in Hayti has once more made that island an object of great and wondering interest to all who seek to trace one governing principle of national philosophy in the struggles and progression-state of different countries and people.

It is not, to-day, a question of colour with the Haytians; for although the march of civilization has not yet sufficiently overcome ancient prepossessions, to have altogether removed the social distinctions which, during the former insurrections at St. Domingo, so deeply embittered the position of two-thirds of the population, the late movement was one of national expediency, wholly independent of personal prejudice ; and in treating of the remarkable manner in which the whole fabric of a government, existing for the last forty years, was overthrown in the brief period of three or four months, by the resolute courage and moral energy of a handful of daring spirits, the business of their historian is not to record the gradations of their colour, but the motives, principles, and hopes by which they were actuated. Nor can it willingly be doubted that the influence of increased and still increasing civilization, and the beneficial effects of a more general and more judicious system of education, assisted as they must henceforward be by the proud feeling of national and moral independence, will ere long eradicate every remnant of such puerile and unworthy jealousy.

Fragmentary accounts of the overthrow of Boyer's government, together with translations of certain official documents, have appeared from time to time in the daily journals; but these were necessarily so crude and disjointed as to convey a very imperfect idea of the unprecedented manner in which it was accomplished: while the little that is known of the island itself by the generality of those who have perused the statements in question, has caused

them to be passed over in most cases with utter indifference. It is true that Victor Hugo, in his “Bug Jargal,” has given a glowing description of Saint Domingo, as regards its natural productions and its exquisite scenery-deifying the chiefs of one party, and investing the whole chapter of Haytian history which he has taken for his text with a halo that might well have won for it a longer memory ;--that Victor Jacquemont, the naturalist and traveller, declared it to be unrivalled in picturesque landscape by any country that he had visited within the tropics; and that very recently the pen of Miss Martineau has enshrined the prowess of Toussaint, and the beauty of the land for which he bled. Notwithstanding the romance that these writers have flung over the island, there has been little or no sympathy excited in the public mind in England for Hayti, even although she might well feel and acknowledge an interest for a country in whose struggles she had assisted, and whose independence she had been mainly instrumental in achieving.

Even as America liberated herself from the authority of Great Britain, did Saint Domingo free itself from the thrall of France; but there the parallel ceases. The United States, assisted in their revolt against the mother country by French bayonets and French gold, were sufficiently strong to maintain the advantage they had gained, and boldly to defy the power to which they had hitherto been subservient : while the Haytians, after having, with the help of England, driven the French from their island, and caused the sacrifice of many thousands of their finest troops, were compelled, after the departure of their British allies, and the general peace of Europe, to the payment of a heavy and exhausting indemnity by the French Government, which, from the depreciated value of their produce, they are ill able to meet.

In order, however, that the position of Saint Domingo at the present moment may be thoroughly understood, it will be necessary to take a rapid glance at the past; and to point out as succinctly as possible the vicissitudes to which the Haytians have been subjected from time to time, and the efforts that they have made in their own behalf; as, without a brief résumé of their political history, the merits of the present outbreak could never be appreciated by the casual reader.

Accidentally discovered by Columbus in December, 1492, on his return from the Bahamas, he gave to the island now known as Saint Domingo, or Hayti, the name of Hispaniola ; and Mr. Mackenzie, Consul-General for England in that colony in 1826, in the 2nd volume of his “ Notes,” thus describes its general appearance :

“ Its greatest length, from east to west, is about 160 leagues; and its greatest breadth, from north to south, nearly 40 leagues : while its circumference, including the sinuosities of the coast, is estimated at 350, but the actual line of sea-coast does not fall far short of 600. The surface is calculated to extend over 2450 square leagues.

Three principal chains of mountains (from which emanate smaller mountain arms) run from the central group of Cibao.* The whole of these are described as fertile and susceptible of cultivation, even to their summits, affording great variety of climate, which, contrary to what is the fact in the plains, is remarkably healthy. The soil of the plains is, in general, a very rich vegetable mould, exceedingly fertile and well watered. There are several large rivers, and an immense number of smaller streams, some tributary, and others independent. The ports are numerous and good. Timber of the finest description is most abundant; and mines of gold, silver, copper, tin, iron, and rocksalt, besides other mineral productions, are said not to be wanting. The French are, therefore, fully borne out in designating this magnificent island, · La Reine des Antilles.' There are also three considerable inland lakes.

“ Several islands immediately adjacent to Hayti, such as Gonave, Tortuga, Isle des Vaches, Saona, and others, which are either wholly or nearly uninhabited, form the dependencies of the republic.”+

Another modern writer bears equal testimony to the fertility and beauty of Saint Domingo before the ravages of war had defaced nature, and the evil passions of men had spread partial ruin about them :

“ The interior of the island presented, before the original commotions, scenes of the greatest interest and prosperity. Its natural scenery is that of surpassing beauty and grandeur: its valleys, rich and fertile, are diversified by gentle ascents and declivities, spread over with the most luxuriant vegetation ; the plains are magnificent in their

*“ The peak of Cibao is 7200 feet above the level of the sea. The mountains bearing the names 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 40 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 the 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 despoblada, 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 configuration,' says Moreau de St. Méry, ' 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, and that its aspect is so forbidding. But the observer,' he continues, 'who contemplates these vast chains, and all the branches that diverge from them, and pursues their 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.'"-CANDLER's Brief Notices of Hayti, pp. 3, 4.

† Notes on Hayti, by Chas. Mackenzie, Esq., vol. II. pp. 2, 3.


extent, and productive in their soil; and both are bounded by mountains of prodigious altitude, which have their sides covered with perpetual verdure,-adorned with the fig-tree, the palm-tree, the cocoanut, and the anana. In these delightful spots,' says the Abbé Raynal,' all the sweets of spring are enjoyed without either winter or

There are but two seasons in the year, and they are equally fine; and the ground, always laden with fruit, and covered with flowers, realizes the delights and riches of poetical descriptions. In addition to the beauties presented by nature, the improvements of art gave to the scene an interest and a loveliness beheld only in tropical climes. The valleys, plains, and sides of mountains were in a state of the bighest cultivation; the plantations of sugar, coffee, and cotton, were as flourishing and productive, as they were numerous and extensive; and the magnificent mansions of the proprietors, contrasting with the huts of the slaves which were scattered over the estates, gave additional variety to the prospect, and rendered these spots the most enchanting that the West India Islands can exhibit.'

It will be readily believed that the Spaniards were not suffered to remain in undisturbed possession of the fair island in which they had located themselves; and accordingly, “even from the period of its first discovery,” they were harassed by the buccaniers, and by the attempts of Drake and others to dislodge them: but they defied all the attacks of their enemies until 1625, when the former drove the Spanish colonists from Tortuga, which lies about two leagues to the north of Port de Paix; and from this advantageous position the intruders pursued their depredations until 1665, when they effected a formal settlement, under the sanction of the French Government, and the immediate command of a French gentleman named Dogeron.

From that period until the end of the 17th century, the warfare between the two rival colonies was incessant; and the buccaniers having, in process of time, extended their aggressions to the principal island, it was found necessary, in order to put an end to the constant collisions of the conflicting parties, that the courts of Madrid and Versailles should determine the boundaries of their several possessions. This was accordingly done in 1776– the Spaniards retaining nearly two-thirds of the territory, while their opponents equalized their local advantages by a population nearly six times as numerous as that of the original conquerors of the soil. Nor did French policy end even here ; for, while Spain abandoned this,

“ Its first American colony, to its own resources, the French government and nation, on the other hand, regarded their portion as their most valuable colony; and while depression and languor pervaded the one, activity and riches distinguished the other; yet both were slave

* Sketches of Hayti, by W. W. Harvey, Esq., pp. 243, 4.

« AnteriorContinuar »