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membered, has most closely followed the black Emperor in the method he has taken to reach his present position) will remember that the honor came upon him most unexpectedly.
Parties were nearly balanced that neither of them was able to succeed, and after several unavailing ballots he was taken up as an available military candidate, and moreover as one that the leaders thought could easily be managed. But they soon found out their inistake. The very men who had procured his election were the first to suffer. In a very short time he dismissed them from the ministry and chose a cabinet to his own liking, and from that day onward he has sacrificed whoever has dared to oppose him, or been suspected of plotting his overthrow, with apparently as little feeling as he would have taken the life of a centipede. It is a very difficult matter to judge of the future in regard to the Haitian government and people, but to all appearances he bids fair to be their ruler for many years to come. At least if he be not it will not be because he would hesitate to sacrifice hecatombs of opposing subjects to secure this end.
It is not easy to give a truthful impression of the real state of things upon this island. A gentleman who, for many years, occupied the chair of history in one of our distinguished institutions, and whose knowledge of the past history and present state of the world is equalled by very few of any land, remarked to me that he found it more difficult to get satisfactory views of the state of things in Hayti
, than of any other part of the world. Probably everyone who has given any attention to what has been passing here for the last half century has experienced the same difficulty. I will therefore make this general remark in regard to the island, which will serve to explain the conflicting statements that are made by those who visit it. In Hayti you have cvery thing from extreme Parisian refinement und civilization down to the lowest African superstition and degradation! You may therefore believe any statement that would be true of any state of society between these wide extremes.
From all that I had known of them, of their revolutions and their almost constant sanguinary conflicts, I had not supposed that any portion of them were as far advanced in civilization as I found some of them to be. Those who transact the commercial and mercantile business of the city have an air of intelligence quite similar to the same class in our own cities.
Their style of dress is so remarkably neat and tasteful that it attracts your attention at once.
The climate being warm, their clothing is generally light, and most of it the most pure and beautiful white I have ever seen worn. This is the result of much bleaching in a tropical sun, and of great painstaking and skill in washing. The dress of the common working people, however, what little they wear, is of the very opposite extreme. These, however, dress differently on certain occasions, which I shall hereafter describe.
Another characteristic of the people that at once arrests your attention, is their remarkable politeness. A foreigner who has resided among them for some years told me that this was the great inattor in their education; that the better class of Haitian mothers flogged their children oftener for delinquencies in this matter than for any thing else. In walking with: them in the streets, or whenever they ar meeting others, they are constantly dis ciplining them to make a handsome bon and salutation. To a foreigner the people are especially polite. In passing through the streets and meeting those of the higher class, they lift their hats to you, and with a graceful bow, give you a respecful“ Box jour,” or “Bon soir, Monsieur.” I have seen an entire family who were sitting upon an outer gallery, in the cool of the evening, rise to their feet and bow most gracefully to a foreigner and his wife who were passing A gentleman from Alabama, who spent some weeks on the island, remarked as he was about leaving; that he should have to be very careful when he reached home, or he should find himself tipping his hat to every negro he met on his plantation. A waggish downeast captain broke out, one day as I met him ; Don't these people make most beautiful bows? I've been practising since I've been here; and I believe I've got so I can lift my hat up about as handsome as they do, but somehow it won't come down right.” To explain these things I need only remind the reader that there is not a little French blood coursing in the veins of these people, and that their education and habits are derived from that nation. From speaking their language, their intercourse and associa tions have been mainly with them, and those of them who have been educated abroad, have almost invariably been educated in France. These facts, and the remarkable powers of imitation inherent in the negro character, will, I think, prepare the reader for the statement (which I should not dare to make without
these preliminaries) that I have never tations, entered with a manner and bearseen in any city of the Union ladies of ing in keeping with her dress, saying, more cultivated and accomplished man “and so you do not secognize me!" He ner's, than some I have seen in Port au looked-it was his washwoman! Prince. For reasons that I need not here The fête day to which I have alluded seate, I am excused for being entirely as the first that I witnessed, was “All: ignorant in regard to balls and dancing Saints' Day.” I went in the morning parties. But a lady, whose opinion and to the Catholic church, where some two judgment would not be called in question or three thousand were assembled. All if I might name her, assured me that she here were neatly, and many were richly had never seen in New York or New Eng dressed; and I was not a little surland more elegant dancers than in Port prised at their entirely decorous, respectan Prince.
ful, and intelligent appearance.
In the I had not been long upon the island afternoon I witnessed one of those imbefore I had an opportunity of witnessing mense processions, which have such a one of their religious fête days, when the peculiar charm to the people of all Catholic custom-house and public offices were countries. Thousands upon thousands, closed; there was a general cessation from
" the whole city assembled at the business, and the entire people gave them church, and from thence, preceded by : selves up to the enjoyment of the holiday. company of soldiers, the priests with their These days are very numerous with the crosses, candles, &c., they moved on, Haitians, as in addition to the regular without any order, a promiscuous mass, Oatholic festivals, they have a large num nearly filling the streets through which ber of a national character, commemorat they passed. In company with an Ameing important events in their history. rican friend I followed on, and entered These are great occasions for dress and their cemetery. This is situated some disdisplay with all classes. I have never on a tance from the city, is inclosed by a high public occasion, that called out the great wall, and, being ornamented with rich mass of our people, seen them as a whole tropical trees and lying under the shadow so neatly dressed.
You wonder as you of the inountain range on the south of the pass among the throng: where can be the city, it presenteil, at that hour, a most iniserably clad objects that you have been beautiful appearance. In passing through accustomed to see in the markets, on the this ancient and densely crowded “ city of arves, and about the streets of the the dead,”—while as a Protestant I had city. I was told in explanation of this no sympathy with these thousands in the that these people resort to every possible religious sentiments that prompted their expedient, even to sadly wronging their services, or in their estimate of their value, poor stoinachs, in order to acquire the -I could but be moved by many of the means to make a handsome appearance on touching and truly beautiful scenes that these public days, and that the most were around me. Ilere young bereaved wretchedly clad beings I saw upon the mothers, aged smitten parents, sad and street were almost sure to have one hand solitary widows, sorrowing orphans, and some dress for these occasions.
all the variety of stricken hearts were The following incident will give an idea gathered around the graves that contained of the transformations often eflected by the objects of their cherished affections, these changes of dress for public occasions. and having strewed them with flowers, The ordinary dress for the mass of the and lighted their wax tapers over them, laboring women,-washwomen, &c.,-is a were devoutly kneeling and offering their single garment hanging loosely upon the orisons in their behalf. Even the graves body like a chemise, with perhaps an old of numbers that had been shot for politipair of shoes on, slipshod. With these cal offences, and, in consequence, were two articles they are very satisfactorily buried without the wall, were not neglectdressed. An American gentleman was ed. They had been visited at some less sitting in his door upon one of their fête public hour of the day, by stealth perhaps, days, when a lady approached dressed in and the hand and heart of affection had the highest ton of the country--a rich left upon them the burning taper and rich Madras handkerchief about her head, bouquet. I leave others to imagine with earrings and other jewelry, a dress of the what reflections I retired from the scenes purest white, white satin slippers, and of the day! other things' in corresponding keeping. The Sabbath in Hayti is not only the He rosc, an<l with his salutation, "Bon busiest day in the week, but presents jour, Madainc," bade her enter and be more scenes characteristic of the people seated. She gracefully returned his salu than any other day. You are awaked at
the earliest dawn by booming of cannon on the fort. This is the call for the rarious military companies to collect at their several stations, and prepare for a general parade and review by the Emperor. Soon the streets are all alive with bustle and confusion. The various companies are dashing by on horseback or marching to the music of a band. They assemble at first in the large yard in front and around the government house, the residence of Soulouque, where, amid the strains of martial music, various evolutions and excrcises are gone through with, the significance of which I could never understand, as the Emperor never makes his appearance. After an hour or more spent here, they march to a large beautiful plain, lying back of the government house, where they prepare for a review by the Emperor. His majesty, Faustin the First, with not more than half a million of subjects, has a standing army of not far from 20,000, about twice the number of our
I think I have seen half of this number at a Sunday morning review. They are forined into a hollow square, and after the proper officers have made the circuit of the lines, to see that all is in order, a company of officers is dispatched to inform the Emperor; whose approach is announced av greeted with an almost deafening salute of martial music, the roar and din of which is continued, while he, accompanied by his ministers of state, officers, and guards, rides rapidly around the entire line to the point of starting, where he makes a halt and the entire army passes in review before him. This done he makes the circuit of the city, as I have already described.
But while all this is passing the city is by no means forsaken or quiet. Every store and shop is open, and the goods displayed more attractively than on any other day of the week. Sunday is the greatest market day of all the week, and the streets of the city are full of people coming and going, some with mules loaded with vegetables, wood, grass, coal, &c.; some with bananas, plantains, sugar cane, &c., on their heads, some with a few chickens,' some with one thing and some with another. Thus they crowd on, bartering, disputing, shouting, singing, laughing, all in the boisterous tones peculiar to such a state of civilization, making altogether a scene of confusion such as is rarely to be found. But the great scene and centre of confusion is the market. This is a large open square in the centre of the city, where perhaps two thousand persons, some of them from great dis
tances in the country, are eager in driving their bargains and disposing of their various articles. This market-place has no building except a few open sheds or booths at the ends or sides of the square, where meat and such articles are sold as need to be protected from the sun. The entire area of the square is filled with people who, without any reference to regularity or order, have laid upon the ground, or a mat, their mule-load, or head-load of oranges, potatoes, beans, corn, plantains, yams, pinc-apples, chickens, pigs, fish, charcoal, or whatever animate or inanimate articles they may have for sale. The noise, confusion, and picturesqueness of this scene entirely baffle my powers of description. Strangely enough to an untravelled American, the Catholic church is hard by, upon a slight elevation overlooking one of these large markets, crowded with worshippers. Old women from the country coine along to the church, lay their baskets or bundles upon the steps, go in, cross themselves with holy water, kneel, count their beads, and go through with their devotions, and then come out and go on with their trading. Thus multitudes come and go, and those who are able to stay and engage in the services for a longer time, seem not to be at all disturbed by them.
Thus with noise and excitement the day passes on. By two or three o'clock business begins to subside, and sports of various kinds begin. The country people having made their sales, and got through with their “shopping,” are leaving for home in groups. The boys of the city fly their kites, spin their tops, and run, and laugh, and shout in their various sports. The young men walk, or ride, or visit, as they may prefer. The more wealthy having finished a late dinner, amuse themselves with dancing or cards, and all according to their taste seek their pleasure. As the evening approaches new and still stranger scenes begin. The more common and ignorant portion of the people assemble in large companies in the open air and engage in dancing, which is their great and almost sole amusement. These dances are unlike any thing that we are accustomed to call by that name. There are several things characteristic of them all; though there is said to be a great variety of names and kinds of dances. Large numbers of them are regularly organized societies, with their mysterious rites of initiation, and their cabalistic ceremonies, which are said to be truthful representations of the heathen dances of central Africa, which have been handed
down here from generation to generation. Others are entirely informal, the dancing of any promiscuous company that chance may bring together. These dances are uniformly in the open air, though many of them are under the cover of a tent or awning belonging to the "société.” Their music is made by pounding with the palm of the hands upon a drum, which is made by stretching a skin over the head of a small barrel, like a drum-head. To this they have various accompaniments, such as pounding with two sticks upon an old herring or soap box, the clicking of pieces of iron, singing, clapping of hands, &c. Though to the uninitiated the music thus made seems a monotonous, unintelligible jargon, there is said to be a great variety of tunes which they seem perfectly to understand. I procured from a Haitian musician some of this dancing music. These tunes are like the real plantation songs of the South, the productions of excited ignorant minds, having no knowledge of the science of music whatever. This music, executed in the manner already described, has an electrical effect, and immediately collects large groups, who will stand for hours in a charmed circle surrounding the dancers. Sometimes there will be quite a number engaged in dancing, sometimes half a dozen, and sometimes one or two will enchain the attention of the spectators with their movements. These are the most grotesque imaginnble; now a shaking movement somewhat like those of our shakers, --now a peculiar balancing of the body,-now dashing off suddenly in a whirling, sailing motion around the entire circle,now with feet fixed upon the ground, moving the body up and down-as the Aztecs uniformly did when told to dance —and continuing this motion more and more vigorously, until it would seem that they must dislocate every bone in the body,—and now leaping with great rapidity to a remarkable height in the air, like the bounding of a India-rubber ball. These are among the more common feats. As these dances form the almost sole amusement for the numerous holidays of the Haitians, I have very often witnessed them. They have a very ingenious method of making a foreigner pay for his amusement, after this manner. As soon as he is seen in the crowd some one of the dancing women begins to move toward him holding out her hands for a gift; and continues to dance back and forth, before and around him, her hands still extended, until he is "the observed of all observers." After this was understood, I generally had
some change ready so as to pay my tribute in the quickest time possible. One night as I was going through the street, I passed an open yard where a coinpany was dancing that seemed more merry and excited than usual, and without any forethought I turned in. I had hardly reached the group before one of the dancing women was before me with open palm. I thrust my hand into my pocket, found I had no change, and the first thing I could get hold of was a two-dollar Haitian bill, which I handed over as soon as possible. It was the best investment in this line that I ever made. She just glanced to see what it was, and then waving it in the air went whirling and sailing around the circle, and among other demonstrations giving me an opportunity to see some almost incredible feats that I had often heard described but had never witnessed. Placing a small crockery cup, about the size of a teacup, upon the top of her head, she danced, whirled, and sprung suddenly several feet, and back at the same bound, making apparently the most convulsive jerks possible, the cup meanwhile remaining untouched upon the top of the head. This jumping and jerking was gone through with several times, and far surpassed any feat of jugglery that I had ever witnessed. A colored woman, a member of the Baptist Mission Church in Port au Prince, told me she had often seen her mother go through the same feats with a wineglass upon her head. So universal is this custom of dancing among the IIaitians upon their fête day's and Sunday, that I have often thought, that including the various grades from the regular balls in the city down to the lowest field dances, two thirds, or even a greater proportion of the people of Hayti must be engaged in dancing. The influence of this habit is all pervading. Children catch the spirit, and will sway their bodies to and fro, keeping time to the music, when they can scarcely go alone; and as soon as they have strength to spring clear from the ground, without the hazard of a fall, they are ready on any occasion to exhibit their dexterity to a stranger. The music of a drum and fife, especially on a public day, is almost certain to set all the children in a street to hopping, and I have been greatly amused to see boys with no other dress on than a shirt who were going along the streets, step, and balance, and whirl, and sail on, keeping time to the music. By sundown upon Sabbath evening the music of these dancing companies is heard in all directions, and the noise and dance
continue until midnight, and often till the ing his vegetables and fruits from the break of day. Thus the Sabbath ends other end. This practice is so universal with confusion as it began.
that the law allows any man to shoot Were I to stop here, after what I have down a thief in the act of plundering. I said in regard to the politeness, taste in was told of a case where a young man, dress, skill in dancing, &c., &c., that I hearing some one in the act of stealing his found in Port au Prince, I am sure that a bananas, went out in tŁe dark and fired very wrong estimate of the character and
at him, and on going to the spot was condition of the people would be formed startled to find that he had killed one of from what I have written. I have already his most intimate friends. In 1812 the alluded to the fact that there is here a city of Cape Haitien was shaken down by strange blending of Parisian refinement a most terrific earthquake, and probably and civilization, with native African bar one half or two thirds of its population barism and morals. Having said what I were instantly killed. Of those who have of the first, my account would not escaped in the general ruin, multitudes be truthful were I to pass over the last. from the city and surrounding country
I witnessed one large fire in Port au rushed to the terrible scene, and engaged Prince. As soon as it began to spread, in plundering the bodies of the dead and the merchants who had foreign vessels in the dying! And yet, paradoxical as it port consigned to them, ran immediately
seems, money may be transmitted from to their stores, and tumbling their money Port au Prince to any other part of the into trunks and bags, ran with them to island with the utmost safety. Packages the wharf, in the quickest time possible, of bills containing thousands of dollars, and sent them on board these vessels.
may be intrusted to a native, who will Many of the captains were unwilling to carry it, unmolested, across the country, take the bags and trunks in that way, sleeping with it under his head at night, without knowing their contents, and and deliver every dollar with unfailing begged their consignees, if they would certainty. But after it is once delivered have it so, to send some one on board in and counted the same man would not whose care the property might be left; hesitate to appropriate a package if an but they invariably preferred to leave it opportunity were offered. in that way. A fire is the signal for uni Another central African characteristic versal theft and dishonesty. Scarcely an of the Haitians is their almost universal article that is thrown into the streets can licentiousness. I have taken no pains to be secured, and a man does not know obtain statistics, but think I cannot err in whom to trust. One man intrusted a
saying that a majority of the births upon bag of money to one of his neighbors in the island are iìlegitimate. To live tothe midst of the confusion of the fire, and gether as husband and wife without a civil when he called for it the next day, the or religious marriage ceremony is scarcely man denied having received it, and as less respectable than regular marriage. there was no proof the owner could not Many men, among the first in wealth and recover it. When I heard this and simi social position, live in this manner; and lar facts, I was not surprised at their the respectability of the connection may readiness to trust foreign captains. The be inferred from the fact that when they best stores here have a small building ad commence housekeeping they give a party, joining, which is without windows and and subsequently appear together in fire-proof; on purpose to have a place parties, at church, and other public places, where they can store their money and precisely as if they were regularly marvaluables in times of fire. Thieving seems ried. By a law of the island, marriage at the great bane of the island. Those who
any subsequent period, makes all the chilare disposed to be industrious have no dren born in this state legitimate. When certainty that they will reap the rewards the present Emperor was elected presiof their industry. While they are labor dent he was living in this state of concubining, others are sleeping, who in the dead age, but his subsequent marriage makes of the night will prowl around and seize the present princess a legitimate successor upon the fruits of their toils. Corn, vege to the throne. Such a state of things tables, fruits, &c., are stolen from the being tolerated among the more respectfields where they are growing ; pigs, able of the people, it can readily be underfowls, &c., are stolen from their inclosures. stood that among the lower classes the An American negro, who was disposed to state of morals in this respect is most be industrious, told me that often while deplorable, and such as to forbid descriphe was at work at one end of his garden, tion. thieves would be watching him and steal It is well known that in severing them