« ForrigeFortsæt »
has been known to sell for sixty-four dollars, to such extent has vanity and extravagance been carried.
The Haytian ladies are haughty, proud and disdainful, artful, high-spirited, of jealous dispositions, and very apt to tear caps, scratch, and pull hair, if any dispute arises between them upon affairs of love. Pugilistic encounters are therefore not uncom.
In their social intercourse however with each other and with strangers, they are polite, ceremonious, and complimentary. They pay great attention to their health by the frequent use of the bath, and are always clean in their dress. Their teeth are of the purest white, to preserve which they continually rub them with a kind of soap-stick, and the constant use of the most fragant perfumes, completely subjugates all native odours.
Marriages are not frequent. I recollect of hearing of but one, the ceremony of which was performed in church, and it created a sensation of envy and jealousy throughout the whole town. The bride was a young mulatresse of character and respectable connexions; the women considered it as a public declaration made by inademoiselle, that she was resolved not to conform to the established custom, as 'setting a higher value upon her reputation, and that of consequence, she considered her claim to chastity as superior to theirs. But although the connubial ceremony is usually omitted, states of concubinage, preceded by regular courtships, are adopted in their stead, which oftentimes continue during the life of one of the parties. In this state fidelity is as much revered as though enjoined by the solemn contract of a priest or magistrate, and it is under this system of domestic establishment that many of the officers and their ladies live. The emperor is married, and has several daughters, as is also the general in chief, who has a family of young children growing up. It is worthy of remark, that it is extremely rare, that a woman of colour resides with a man of a darker shade than herself. The husbands are generally of a lighter cast than their wives, though instances are not wanting of women nearly white, being married to, or what is equivalent to it, residing with men perfectly black. This, however, I presume only occurs in instances where great men have been can
cerned, and where the female has sacrificed her feelings to her ambition.
The women all assume the appearance of chastity. Those who are of a respectable class, and above the temptations to which poverty might expose them; really are so, and the number of those is exceedingly small, who are so degraded as to be classed with the common women of our country. They are very much attached to the whites, insomuch, that did the subject rest with them, they would most heartily unite in the restoration of the colony to its former proprietors. This observation will hold good of nearly all the women, even those who are black, excepting indeed the ladies of officers and men in distinguished stations, whose ranks would be affected by such an event. From their having been spectators of so much revolutionary horror and carnage, the Haytian women have acquired a degree of courage and heroism which is by no means common to the female sex. But
this masculine temper of mind is in no way indicated by any harshness of manners, for the same softness which should everywhere characterize the female, is fully preserved in their deportment.
Although I have drawn lines of distinction by which the women are classed into different grades, yet I should observe, that the intercourse between those of the two highest is upon so familiar a footing, that they appear to be upon an equality. Their stations in life, alone mark the difference, and I have not observed that the ladies of great men, often assume much conscquence upon the superiority of their ranks, in their conduct to inferiors.
Having thus given you as particular an account of the fair sex of Hayti, as my present acquaintance with them, enables me to do, I shall leave you for a while that you may endeavour to reconcile my account with the ideas you had formed of them, when under the influence of prejudice.
THE FALSE PRINCE OF MODENA.
TRANSLATED FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
THE FALSE PRINCE OF MODENA.
(Continued from page 77.) It must be acknowledged too that there were some surprising things about him. In the midst of the most absurd, childish gambols, his actions preserved a sort of dignity. Never, whether with women, whom he was extravagantly fond of, or in the unpleasant situations he afterwards found himself in, did he for an instant lay aside the character of boldness and pride which he at first assumed. He always showed himself disinterested, liberal without profusion, living on the purses of others as he would have done on his own, without seeking to amass for the future, without throwing away his money like a man who has but a short time to enjoy it. His education, which was far from finished, appeared to have been commenced with attention and even with a degree of refinement. He had confused ideas on the subject of the different sciences, and spoke, though not well, French, Italian, and German; he had some acquaintance with the Latin language, but it was very slight. He wrote too very ill, but drew tolerably, and rode very well on horseback. His mind yet unformed had vivacity and correctness; and if we except the ridiculous fables and vague discourses with which he was obliged to support his pretensions, he always answered the serious things which were said to him with great sense, dignity and precision.* As to the goodness of his head and the firmness of his character, he gave daily proofs of both by the manner in which he managed his household, composed of people picked up by chance, and who detested each
* Soon after his arrival at Martinique, before he left the Cul-de-sac Marin, he was amusing himself in a court-yard with chasing a g'uinea-hen, which was shut
there for his amusement; when the curé of the parish made his appearance in order to harangue him, and at the same time to ask of him some assistance for his church, “What good can I do to it,” asked the youth. " It is tumbling down, my lord, and ought to be rebuilt.” “I am not powerful enough,” said he, “ to build on the territory of the king of France." lord, we only ask you to lay the first stone.” “ Mr. parson," replied the prince, » when I lay the first stone, I also lay the last,” and he telurned to chasing the guinea-ben.
other. Without entering into their quarrels and their jealousies, he obliged them to live with decency towards each other; he forced them to respect him, notwithstanding the familiarity in which they lived with him, and the pranks they were witnesses of, every hour in the day; and this respect which he had inspired them with, was retained by them to the last moment. There are people destined, in a manner, by nature, to play a part which fortune has not confided to them. The incredulous in the island, supposing that any such remained, might have asked themselves, if this is not a prince, what the douce is he? and indeed the question would have been one very difficult to
The most inexplicable thing perhaps in all this, was the serenity and tranquillity, he enjoyed. He never betrayed a momėnt of uneasiness. Far from dreading the arrival of the numerous strangers whom peace attracted to the island, he earnestly sought their acquaintance. The arrival of a new face was a festival for him; and among all these strangers, it was his chance that not one of them was able to give the lie to his pretensions. One gentleman had indeed seen the true prince at Venice, but it was some time before. He had met him at a shop where this prince had unmasked himself, after having broken, by way of amusement, about thirty thousand livres worth of looking-glasscs, which he had afterwards paid for. The person, who had been guilty of such a piece of extravagance, might very well have committed that of coming to Martinique; and a man's having played foolish pranks, was no proof of his not being the prince of Modena.
Des Riviéres was not yet returned, and the rainy season was approaching. The prince began to be apprehensive about his health; people began to think that he cost rather too much money. He determined to take his departure; no objection was made to his doing so. After seven months' residence in Martinique, he embarked for France, in the merchant ship the Raphael, of Bordeaux, taking with him all his servants, besides a chaplain, and Garnier, king's physician in the colony. On going on board, he hoisted the admiral's flag; the fort saluted himhe is off.
A fortnight afterwards arrives Des Riviéres. At Paris, people had laughed at him and his prince of Modena. He was come
back with orders to have his highness tried; but they were six months giving him these orders; and the people of Martinique, who could not believe that what had appeared a matter of so much importance to them, could be treated so lightly at Paris, said that the intention had been to give the prince time to leave the island, in order to avoid the necessity of confining his visit to it, which was probably a mére youthful frolic. The marquis de Caylus, who did not choose to have been frightened for nothing, pretended too that there was something under all this; in the mean time, to show that his fright was over, he arrested Nadau and the principal adherents of the prince. But the latter had ordered them, when he went away, to suffer with patience, for his sake, what
disagreeable occurrences might take place, which he had promised to recompense them for; they therefore bore their misfortune very patiently, and their calmness was not without its effect upon the rest of the colony. Besides, there were many obscure things in the account Des Riviéres brought back. He had seen the dutchess of Penthiévre, who had asked him, “Is he like me?" 6 As like as two drops of water, madam," answered Des Riviéres. “ It is a pity," resumed the dutchess, “ for he
a will be hanged.” But Des, Riviéres declared that when she said this, she did not look as if she spoke seriously.
It is true likewise that the messenger sent by Liewain was come back; that he had heard at the duke de Penthiévre's, and among his servants, Liewain called a madman, and his prince the lowest of blackguards; but he added, that when he was going away, he was called back by a footman who was sent to him by the dutchess; that this lady had asked him many questions, with an air of interest; and the same footman had told him, when showing him out, that for some days past there had been much weeping at the hotel of Penthiévre. Whether all this were true or not, it was not the less probable in the eyes of the inhabitants of the colony. At the same time, Liewain had received an answer from the duke, who pitied him for having allowed himself to be imposed upon; but who, in consideration that his conduct had proceeded from zeal for the family, and that his credulity was excusable, seeing that of the persons at the head of the colony,) consented to share the loss* with him, continued him in his
What Liewain had given amounted to about 50,000 crowns.