« PreviousContinue »
of the same race, and possessing the same general traits of character, as the negroes of the other West India Islands, they are already distinguished from them by habits of industry and activity, such as slaves are seldom known to exhibit.
• As far as I had an opportunity of ascertaining, from what fell under my own observation, and from what I gathered from other European residents, I am persuaded of one general fact, which, on account of its importance, I shall state in the most explicit terms, viz. : That the Haytians employed in cultivating the plantations, as well as the rest of the population, perform as much work in a given time as they were accustomed to do during their subjection to the French. When it is considered that, in the time of their slavery, the fear of punishment was their chief incentive to labour; that their proceedings during their struggle for liberty, so far from being calculated to subdue any previous disposition to idleness, were adverse to the cultivation of orderly and industrious habits ; that, at the era of their emancipation, they were far from a state of civilization; and that the period which has since elapsed is comparatively short; this fact, trifling as it may at first appear, becomes in no small degree surprising. And if we may judge of their future improvement by the change which has already been effected, it may be reasonably anticipated, that Hayti will ere long contain a population not inferior, in their industry, to that of any civilized nation in the world.'
Pp. 264—7. The severest treatment is found, in many instances, ineffectual to overcome the stubborn indolence of the slave, and to induce industrious habits. It is, therefore, argued that nothing but the cart-whip would furnish a sufficient stimulus to their industry ; and that free labour would be found inadequate to the toils of tropical cultivation. Mr. Harvey goes so far as to admit, that the question whether, if slaves in general were • emancipated, they would retain or shake off their indolence • of character, may be considered as of too problematical a ' nature to admit of any other solution than that which time • and experience can furnish. Experience, in the instance of the Haytians, is all in favour of the supposition, that their idleness is justly attributable to the system under which they groan. But the fair question is not, whether uneducated slaves would undergo a sudden transformation in their character and habits, if suddenly they found themselves in possession of free-agency ; but, whether free-born negroes, in a state of freedom, and not uneducated, would not be found capable of diligence; whether they would not prove more productive labourers under the operation of the inducements which regulate the supply of free labour, than under a system of debasing bondage. The usual way of treating the question makes the African, as such, responsible for all the superinduced vices of the slave.
In point of subordination, the subjects of Christophe exhibited the natural effect of the steady control of an energetic government. The nobility,' we are told, • found little * difficulty in obtaining the respect of their inferiors; the • soldiers were in complete subjection to their officers; and the • labouring classes were not wanting in that degree of subor.dination which characterizes a well-governed people.' - Such, in consequence, were the order and tranquillity which prevailed, at Cape Francois especially, at this period, that a European who had become sufficiently familiarized with the colour of the natives as to cease to notice it, would feel little to remind him that he was living among negroes. He would find it difficult to realize the idea that he was dwelling among a nation of blacks who, a few years before, were slaves, and who, because of their sufferings, might be disposed to be cruel and insolent towards whites of all nations. He would rise in the morning in safety; he would proceed in the occupation of the day without molestation; and he might retire at night with nearly the same sense of security as he would have felt in any civilized country,' p. 279.
The moral character of the emancipated Haytians is represented by this Writer as being, upon the whole, far less abandoned, less licentious, than might have been anticipated from their destitution of all religious instruction or restraint, and the impious and infidel notions imbibed by both Christophe himself and most of his leading men, in their early intercourse with French liberals. The Catholic religion was professedly the established faith, “it being thought necessary, for the sake of appearance, • to have some form of religious belief;' but few clergy were to be found in the Island. During a part of Christophe's reign, a Spanish priest whom he had invited to the Island, was the sole ecclesiastic in his dominions; and he, like his royal patron, was an avowed infidel, or rather a professed hypocrite,' as well as a notorious debauchee. The only religion of the Haytians consisted, we are told, of ' a strange mixture of the * more absurd ceremonies of the Church of Rome, with Afri
can superstitions equally absurd and degrading.' Laws, however, were enacted by Christophe, to repress dishonesty, fraud, and drunkenness, which had some effect in checking the general disposition to pilfer ; and among the labouring classes, Mr. Harvey affirms, that ' an intoxicated negro was
rarely to be seen. The bulk of the people were even remarkable for their abstemiousness ; nor were instances wanting of signal fidelity and honesty. Thus, deplorable as were the general ignorance of religion and the low standard of morals, the transition from slavery to the condition of free subjects
cannot be charged with having occasioned a deterioration of character or relaxed any of the social obligations.
For a fuller account of the condition and character of the Haytians under Christophe, our readers will of course consult the pages of the interesting volume before us. We must now briefly trace the sequel of the history. Towards the close of Christophe's reign, his arbitrary proceedings and his capricious treatment of his officers, had greatly undermined his popularity : and one act of despotic cruelty, not, indeed, unprovoked, nor altogether so unjustifiable as the present Writer seems to think, but precipitate and ruthless, is stated to have excited an indignation among all classes, which no subsequent acts of condescension could allay. His fears were alarmed, and his latter days were embittered by constant mistrust and suspicion. Many of the mulatto chiefs, who, from the beginning, had reluctantly submitted to the government of a negro, began to cabal against him; and matters seemed ripening for a revolt, when, in 1820, Christophe was seized with an alarming fit of apoplexy. From this, however, he recovered so far as to be able to give orders for the summary suppression of a mutiny which had broken out in a garrison stationed at a town on the western coast. The order, though it appears to have been by no means an unnecessary or unconstitutional act of his authority, was resisted by the army ; or rather, some of the principal nobles made a handle of it to excite the troops to revolt. Christophe, though discomposed at first by the intelligence, prepared with vigoar to defend himself against the insurgents ; but, when he found himself ungratefully deserted by all his adherents, and even by his guards, who had solemply sworn to stand by him to the last, he seized one of the pistols with which he was always provided, and shot himself through the head. .
With Christophe ended the Haytian monarchy. The Prince Royal, then in his seventeenth year, was held in high estimation by a part of the army ; but the conspirators, dreading his claims and his vengeance, about ten days after, put him to death. A sort of interregnum ensued, during which the chief authority was committed to the hands of Romaine, Prince of Limbé and Grand Marshal of Hayti, who had been one of the most active in planning the insurrection. He aspired to the vacant throne ; but the discovery of his intrigues was followed by his immediate degradation.
While these transactions were taking place in the northern division of the Island, Petion, the head of the republican government of the southern division, had closed his meritorious career, and had been succeeded, in conformity to his last wishes, and with the unanimous consent of the people, by his confidential friend and assistant, General Boyer. The character which is given of Petion, is extremely amiable, and the Republican Chief appears so far to great advantage in contrast with the Negro king. His popularity, we are told, was not exceeded by that of Toussaint. But, on the other hand, his want of courage to enact severe laws, together with his limited authority as President, his solicitude to preserve his popularity, and a degree of irresolution and pliancy indicating an essential feebleness of character, rendered him less competent to repress insubordination and vice. The character of the people, therefore, is represented as far below that of the subjects of the more vigorous government. Disheartened, at length, at the slow improvement which had taken place, and at the disorders which still prevailed, dissatisfied with his own well-meant endeavours, Petion sank into a dejection which nothing could remove. It appears, however, to have been, if not caused, greatly aggravated, by an internal disease, which ultimately proved falal; and he died in the belief of his people's ingratitude, while he was, in truth, the object of their fervent attachment.
Boyer seems to be a man of more energy. The union of the two parts of the Island had never been lost sight of, as a most desirable measure, by Petion; and now, the death of Christophe, the disgrace of Romaine, which left the revolutionary party without a leader, and their want of all union among themselves, presented a fair opportunity for effecting this favourite object." The inhabitants of Cape Francais were, in fact, already disposed to unite themselves to the republic, being, as it should seem, satiated with royalty. On receiving intimations to this effect, - accompanied with conditions against which no objec• tion could be urged,' Boyer instantly proceeded to the Cape, and entering it at the head of 20,000 men, was immediately proclaimed the sole authorized chief of Hayti. The whole island, therefore, is now united under one Republic, of which Port-au-Prince is the capital ; and what is still more important, its present Ruler has been fortunate enough to succeed in obtaining the format recognition of its independence on the part of the French Government. By the moderation of his principles, by the prudence of his measures, and by his unwearied endeavours to promote the interests of the Republic, Boyer is said amply to have justified the choice of the people. - The public are indebted to Mr. Harvey for a volume replete with information and interest.
Sketch of from the Workshire, pp. 202: L. Wilson, b.s.prefixed,
Art. IX. 1. Selections from the Works of Bishop Hall. To which is
prefixed, a brief Sketch of his Life. 24mo. pp. 210. Price 3s.
London, 1827. 2. Selections from the Works of Bishop Hopkins. To which is prefixed, - a brief Sketch of his Life. By the Rev. W. Wilson, D.D. Rector
of Church Oakley, Hampshire. pp. 202. London, 1827. 3. Selections from the Works of John Howe, A.M. With a brief
Sketch of his Life. By the Rev. W. Wilson, D.D. 2 vols. Price · 6s. London, 1827. THESE four volumes are intended to complete, under the
I designation of a' Cabinet Library of Divinity,' the series of Selections, the former volumes of which have already been commended to the notice of our readers. The selection is a very judicious one; and had it been extended to the works of one writer more, we should have been disposed to think, that the Editor or Publisher had shewn equal judgement in knowing where to stop. But we could have excused his passing by Doddridge, rather than Baxter; whose name seems wanted to complete the triumvirate of Nonconformist worthies, Howe, Owen, Baxter,—while, on the opposite side, we have Leighton, Hall, Hopkins. In the brief memoir of the last of these prelates, prefixed to the selection from his works, an extract is given from Mr. Pratt's Memoir, which will serve at once to enforce our recommendation of these volumes, and to shew that Baxter must not be left out of this cabinet library.
· Bishop Hopkins has not the elegance and point of Bishop Hall; but he is free from his antithesis and quaintness. Leighton excels him in richness of thought, in tenderness, and in an indescribable devotional sensibility ; but he is surpassed by Hopkins in sublimity and energy Reynolds is more condensed and full; but Hopkins is more persuasive and animated. Baxter is copious, eloquent, and often grand; but Hopkins surpasses him in accuracy of reasoning and in richness and harmony of style. If Hall may be called our Seneca, (which, by the way, is somewhat of a disparagement to him,) I should claim for Hopkins the appellation which Lactantius has obtained before him, of the Christian Cicero. A predominant judgement and good sense pervade his writings, which abound also with strokes of sublimity and pathos.' .
We scarcely know what names are left, that would seem appropriate to the Nonconformist divines. Howe, we have ventured to style the Christian Plato, for surely he is the noblest of Christian philosophers, as he was the most heavenlyminded of men, and there is a stamp of intellectual greatness on all his writings. But Owen and Baxter, if not equally profound thinkers, are each characterised by their peculiar excellence as divines; the one by the spirit of knowledge, the other by his practical wisdom.