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demands of commerce. The officers of the government were obliged to make extensive purchases from the Americans, of provisions, clothing, and ammunition for the troops, and to provide for future exigencies, in payment for which, the latter had contracted to take coffee. The supply not being equal to the demand, and the government conceiving that the Americans did not pay sufficient for the produce of the island, foreigners were at times entirely prohibited froni'purchasing coffee, except from them, which occasioned many complaints. The natives too, who from being mere marc/iandn, aspired to the rank and character of negotiants complained to the governorof the disadvantages they were subjected to, from the privilege the American supercargoes enjoyed of hiring stores and retailing their cargoes, which entirely precluded them from the opportunity of speculation. To remedy this,a decree was issued prohibiting the further continuance of this regulation, and declaring that none should have the liberty of retailing cargoes but the resident merchants, not however confining it to the indigenes.
The animosity of the Haytiens against the Spaniards, not being confined to those alone who resided in the island, was extended to the mother country. War was declared against Spain, and whenever an opportunity offered of exercising their cruel vengeance it was not neglected. About the 28th of June, a Spanish brig called La Buclui IJicha, bound from Cadiz for Vera Cruz with a valuable cargo of wines, &c. was captured by an indigene barge, and brought into the Cape, where she was condemned. The captain, his wife, son, and crew were cast into prison, where no one was permitted to converse with them, and were afterwards barbarously murdered.
In the latter part of August or beginning of September, intelligence was received in the island that Bonaparte had been proclaimed emperor of the French in the month of May preceding, and to the astonishment of all, before many days had elapsed, a proclamation signed by the chiefs Vcrnet, Clervaux, Christophe, Pction, Gabart, Geffrard, and a number of inferior officers, declaring citizen Jean Jacques Dessalines emperor of Hayti, was published. This act of appointment sets forth that the chiefs could see no advantages the people could derive from a division of the executive power, and they were fully satisfied that the supreme authority of the nation could be best confided to the hands of the man who possessed the affections of all. It farther stated that his excellency had refused for a long time the acceptance of a title of so much dignity, and that it was with the greatest reluctance that he had consented to accede to their wishes. This was something in the style of that unambitious man of whom Mark Antony observed
"I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
In order however that it might not appear that Dessalines had been acting "like master like man" with Bonaparte, or as a servile imitator, the proclamation was very cunningly antedated the 25th of January, and the document intimating the acceptance of the title, the 15th of February. This is perhaps one of the weakest and most silly acts ever committed by the Haytien cabinet. The very proceedings of the government bear prima Jacie evidence of the trick, for in all the public documents prior to September, Dessalines is entitled governor-general. That this creation of the imperial dignity had its origin in the similar event which had taken place in France, does not admit of a doubt, and I think it more than probable, that the idea was first suggested by some of the waggish British officers who were occasionally visiting the island in their ships of war as a hoax upon the first consul, by depreciating the importance of the dignified title he had assumed. Be this as it may, Dessalines was proclaimed emperor throughout the island amid the acclamations of all his subjects and celebrations of the event were held in various parts of the empire. The festivity which commenced on the 15th of September at the Cape, was continued with entertainments and illuminations for three days.
The 8th day of October was appointed for a grand procession at Port au Prince, in honour of this glorious event, and nearly a month before, a pompous programme describing the order of it was published by general Pction. The intention of this chief was no doubt to exhibit something splendid, as from a perusal of the intended order is very evident, but the means of doing it were Vol. m. 3 H
wanting. A friend of mine, an American, who marched in the procession as one of the deputation of foreign commerce, has diverted me exceedingly by contrasting the real appearance of it, with the idea one would conceive from a view of the progrmmme. Thus what are called " the troops of the garrison" who were to assemble on the Champ de Mars to receive the procession, was composed of about two or three hundred negroes with arms, "some without coats hats and shirts, and others even destitute of culottes." The public teachers, conducting a great number of their pupils, " consistedof anold negro pedagogue, followed by about a dozen dirty children half clothed or naked." The deputation of the body of artizans, " was composed of a few ragged mechanicals." The deputation of agriculturists " was made up of eight or ten plantation negroes who had been sent for to the country to act their part, and who appeared like the Laplanders, in bear-skins. Upon the whole, except the officers, the Americans, and a few other individuals, there was never before so shabby a set of ragamuffins called & procession. On their arrival upon the public square, they found " the amphitheatre in the midst of which was a throne," to be nothing more than a stage made of the roughest boards, in the centre of which was a kind of table. One of the officers mounted this rostrum and read aloud the act announcing the nomination of the emperor, after which he delivered a kind of oration, and the procession then moved to the church where a Te Deum was sung in thanksgiving for this memorable day. At the conclusion of this the procession returned to the house of the general, where it was dismissed. It appears that after the Te Deum had been appointed as part of the duties of the day, no one could be found capable of performing the service, and it is an actual fact that a detachment of soldiers was sent into the Spanish part of the island to catch some priests. In this curious employment they succeeded, and returned to Port au Prince with two, who regulated the religious exercisesofthe day. The firing of cannon, which was answerd from the American vessels in the harbour, was repeated several times in the course of the ceremonies, and the festivities of the occasion were closed by a general illumination. The emperor was him
self at Port au Prince, and after the procession, which he beheld from his window, had been dismissed, he received the gratulations of all who went to pay their respects to him. In this tribute of regard, our countrymen were not backward. They waited upon him in a body to congratulate his majesty upon what they humorously termed, his accession to the throne of his ancestors, and were very graciously received. R.
FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
Shakspeare vindicated from the aspersions of Voltaire.
Voltaire's inveterate hostility against Shakspeare is notorious. He seized every occasion to vent his malignant spite against the first of poets. Such was his wretched vanity, that while it was willing to submit him to be the buffoon of a capricious tyrant; the "washer of his dirty linen;" the slave on whom he sometimes cracked jokes and sometimes laid stripes, it could not bear the blaze of superior genius. He sickened in its heat; he was delirious when it shone upon him. But although these degrading feelings principally induced Voltaire to become the reviler of Shakspeare, I would charitably hope that his imperfect knowledge of our language may be charged with some of the sin. He was incapable of comprehending that sublimity and beauty which consists in simplicity and nature; in plain and unadorned expressions of feeling. He was delighted with the rant of Caesar, which he says is " incredibly sublime," when he exclaims
"Danger knows full well,
and ridicules this reflection in the soliloquy of Hamlet,
"Frailty thy name is woman!
Great ideas, splendid figures and high sounding words are more easily translated to another language, than those affecting touches of true nature which are expressed without noise, and melt the heart without storming it. Indeed a Frenchman sees no sublimity but in extravagance; no beauty but in caricature. Every thing is magnified by his optics; nothing has its natural size. Look at a French description of a battle or a ball; of a palace or a horsepond; it matters not what is the subject, every thing is grand and astonishing. One of these gentlemen was, a short time since examined as a witness in one of our courts of justice. He was, among other things, asked the size of an inconsiderable town in Cuba. His reply was "It is immense—it is infinite."
In a French tragedy, the lord and the peasant, the general and the soldier; the master and the slave, all strut upon stilts, and declaim alike in heroics. Voltaire defends this violation of nature, these gross absurdities, by alledging that although such vulgar personages might, in truth, express themselves in coarse and common phrases, yet that, on the stage, in the presence of persons of distinction, who express themselves nobly, every person should express himself in like manner; as if nature regarded persons of distinction, or would in compliment to their nobility, transform a clown into a courtly gentleman, or an unlettered servant into a dealer in the sublime and beautiful.
But I am passing from my object, which is merely to expose the undignified petulance and low scurrility with which the French critic assails the English poet.
Some, who have a respect for the extraordinary talents of Voltaire, and know the contempt in which he held Shakspeare, might be disposed to give some importance to the testimony of such a witness against our bard: but when they see the manner of the attack, and how entirely destitute it is of the principles of fair and liberal criticism, as well as of the duties of decency and good breeding, they will no longer hold a prejudice founded on such a basis. I have never hesitated to give full credit to the brilliant wit and gc