Page images
[ocr errors]

Frenchman,' and we perceive that in answer to a proposal made in the chamber of deputies to send a naval armament and blockade the coasts of the rebel chiefs,' the minister replied that negociations of a very delicate nature were in train-but what confirms our suspicions of Boyer being a traitor to the cause is that, to our knowledge, there is at this moment a squadron of frigates prowling among the least frequented of the West India islands, believed to be carrying on a secret correspondence with some part of Hayti-if it related merely to the pecuniary indemnification of the ancient proprietors, which, it has been said, was offered by Henry to the amount of 20,000,000 dollars, provided England would be the guarantee, there could be no cause for concealment. Lacroix too encourages the idea of a naval blockade, and partial disembarkations, to carry destruction to the new and flourishing estates, which he thinks would create internal disturbances, and, by threatening the authority of the chiefs, make them tremble for their own existence. Both governments, however, seem to be prepared for any attempts that may be made on the part of the French; a regular system of defence has been established by fortifying the crests of the hills, and the defiles of the interior; the means of subsisting the troops have been provided for by carrying on cultivation in the vicinity of their strong holds and places of arms; and the fort and citadel of Henry at Sanssouci are said to yield to none of the fortresses of Europe in strength. In this fortress are from three to four hundred brass cannon regularly mounted; and it is seen from the sea towering like another Windsor Castle. France, it is to be hoped, will recollect the fate of General Leclerc's army before she embarks in another expedition hostile to St. Domingo. Of the 35,131

men,' says Lacroix, carried out, more than 25,000 had fallen before Le Clerc into the grave. At his death, 2,200 only were fit to bear arms; about 7,500 sick crowded the hospitals.' 'These wrecks,' he continues, and 20,000 other victims landed on St. Domingo, in the last thirteen months of our agonising dominion, as well as the unfortunate creole population, perished after the death of General Le Clerc in proportions still more deplorable than those which are presented in the following mournful table.' This table gives a total of those who were destroyed by a violent death during the command of General Le Clerc, amounting to 62,481!

Under every point of view, any fresh attempt of the French government to disturb the island would deserve the reprobation of mankind. The progress made by the inhabitants in agriculture and all the arts is quite extraordinary, but more particularly in education and general literature. Of this we have an interesting account given by the Baron de Vastey in his Political Reflexions on certain French Journals

Journals concerning Hayti,' printed at the royal printing press at Sans-Souci. Five and twenty years ago,' says this intelligent black, we were plunged in the most complete ignorance; we had no notion of human society, no idea of happiness, no powerful feeling; our faculties, both physical and moral, were so overwhelmed under the load of slavery, that I myself who am writing this, I thought that the world finished at the spot which bounded my sight; my ideas were so limited that things the most simple were to me incomprehensible, and all my countrymen were as ignorant and even more so than myself, if that were possible.' 'I have known many of us,' he continues, who have learned to read and write of themselves without the help of a master; I have known them walking with their books in their hands, inquiring of the passengers and praying them to explain to them the signification of such a character or such a word, and in this manner many, already advanced in years, became able to read and write without the benefit of education. Such men,' he adds, have become notaries, attorneys, advocates, judges, administrators, and have astonished the world by the sagacity of their judgment; others have become painters and sculptors from their own exertions and have astonished strangers by their works; others again have succeeded as architects, mechanics, weavers; in short, others have worked mines of sulphur, fabricated saltpetre and made excellent gunpowder, in mills and establishments similar to those of Europe, with no other guides than books of chemistry and mineralogy. And yet he continues, the Haytians pretend not to be a manufacturing and commercial people-like the Romans, we go from arms to the plough, and from the plough to arms.' But he contemplates the time when they shall call to their assistance the mechanical arts, the employment of machines, of animals, and of the natural agents, air, fire, and water, and put in practice those means, which,' says he,' will render our country the most beautiful, populous, and flourishing, and its inhabitants, heretofore so unfortunate, the happiest people in the world.'

Parochial schools have been established on the Madras system, in every part of Henry's dominions, and primary schools at all the principal towns, under the direction of English instructors; in these the English language is taught, and is now read and written by the children of all the functionaries of the govern,

A royal college has also been established, and annual prizes given to the most distinguished students. Henry has also endowed an academy for music and painting, and built a regular theatre. All these are erected at Sans-Souci, the royal residence, which, we understand, for elegance, and chasteness of design is not inferior to many of the palaces of Europe. Here too he has established va

rious manufactories, and among others that of carriages. Three gaudy ones purchased for him in this country gave him great offence; and he asked if the English considered him as a king of Congo?

The Catholic religion is declared to be that of the state: the hierarchy consists of an archbishop, three bishops, and a rector in each parish. At Sans-Souci there is a royal and parochial church. It was erected by Henry, and is mentioned in the Royal Almanack as a monument of his royal munificence and piety.' The archbishop, whom the pope has hitherto refused to consecrate, has a chapter, a seminary and a college attached to the metropolitan see, all well endowed. He has also three archi-episcopal palaces assigned to him; and the bishops have each a chapter and a seminary, endowed with considerable revenues.

Schools are also established in the republic, over which are placed four or five Frenchmen as professors of languages, mathematics, &c. At Port-au-Prince there is also a college of physicians, and several French medical men are employed to superintend it. The church establishment, like all the rest in the republic, wears a more humble character, being confined to an apostolical prefect with curates under him; but, as we before observed, the duties of religion and morality sit looser on the republicans than the royalists.

Such is the present state of the northern part of Hayti. It presents in truth, an imposing and an awful spectacle; and very firm must be the nerves of that politician who can contemplate it siccis oculis, whether for good or for evil. We do not wish to despond; and it is yet, we fear, too early to triumph: but we cannot conceal from ourselves how much depends upon the personal character of the future rulers of this emancipated race. A third, worthy of Toussaint L'Ouverture and Henry I., the Numa and the Ancus of Hayti, may not arise in immediate succession; and we have yet to learn whether habits of obedience, and a love of order and discipline, will succeed to the influence of individual character, and perpetuate the action of that admirable system of polity which these two wonderful men have constructed and set in motion. Spain yet retains the larger and, we believe, the more fertile part of this noble island; but she retains it as an unproductive desert. We know not with what composure she contemplates the state of things beyond the immense llanos that separate her from a free and active population; but it becomes ourselves not to forget that the blue mountains of Jamaica are visible from St. Domingo. We would not, and indeed cannot, anticipate what is yet in the womb of time; but in the lap of peace and security it may not perhaps be unwise to meditate on an event which sooner or later must surely


come to pass-we speak of the general emancipation of the negro race. With timely precautions, such a circumstance would not, in our humble opinion, be very deeply to be deprecated: and one of the most effectual of those precautions would be the extension of the present humane and judicious plan of giving the slaves some kind of education, and imbuing their minds with the principles of our holy religion. They would then be in a favourable state of preparation for the adoption of that system by the planters which has so happily succeeded in the two governments of Hayti, and might cultivate the soil as free labourers, receiving, from the proprietor, one fourth of the produce. However this may be, we cannot but rejoice in the good which has already been wrought, and express our ardent hopes that no attempts will be made to rivet afresh the chains of this meritorious people, and that the independence which they have conquered at the expense of so many sufferings will descend unimpaired to their posterity.

ART. VII. 1.-Laon and Cythna, or the Revolution of the Golden City. A Vision of the Nineteenth Century, in the Stanza of Spenser. By Percy B. Shelley. London. 1818. 2. The Revolt of Islam. A Poem, in Twelve Cantos. By Percy Bysshe Shelley. London. 1818.

THIS is one of that industrious knot of authors, the tendency of

whose works we have in our late Numbers exposed to the caution of our readers-novel, poem, romance, letters, tours, critique, lecture and essay follow one another, framed to the same measure, and in subjection to the same key-note, while the sweet undersong of the weekly journal, filling up all pauses, strengthening all weaknesses, smoothing all abruptnesses, harmonizes the whole strain. Of all his brethren Mr. Shelley carries to the greatest length the doctrines of the sect. He is, for this and other reasons, by far the least pernicious of them; indeed there is a naiveté and openness in his manner of laying down the most extravagant positions, which in some measure deprives them of their venom; and when he enlarges on what certainly are but necessary results of opinions more guardedly delivered by others, he might almost be mistaken for some artful advocate of civil order and religious institutions. This benefit indeed may be drawn from his book, for there is scarcely any more persuasive argument for truth than to carry out to all their legitimate consequences the doctrines of error. But this is not Mr. Shelley's intention; he is, we are sorry to say, in sober earnest with perfect deliberation, and the steadiest perseverance he perverts all the gifts of his nature, and does all the injury, both public and private, which his faculties enable him to perpetrate.


[ocr errors]


Laon and Cythna is the same poem with the Revolt of Islamunder the first name it exhibited some features which made the experiment on the temper of the public mind,' as the author calls it, somewhat too bold and hazardous. This knight-errant in the cause of a liberal and comprehensive morality' had already sustained some perilous handling' in his encounters with Prejudice and Error, and acquired in consequence of it a small portion of the better part of valour. Accordingly Laon and Cythna withdrew from circulation; and happy had it been for Mr. Shelley if he had been contented with his failure, and closed his experiments. But with minds of a certain class, notoriety, infamy, any thing is better than obscurity; baffled in a thousand attempts after fame, they will still make one more at whatever risk,-and they end commonly like an awkward chemist who perseveres in tampering with his ingredients, till, in an unlucky moment, they take fire, and he is blown up by the explosion.

[ocr errors]

Laon and Cythna has accordingly re-appeared with a new name, and a few slight alterations. If we could trace in these any signs of an altered spirit, we should have hailed with 'the sincerest pleasure the return of one whom nature intended for better things, to the ranks of virtue and religion. But Mr. Shelley is no penitent; he has reproduced the same poison, a little, and but a little, more cautiously disguised, and as it is thus intended only to do the more mischief at less personal risk to the author, our duty requires us to use his own evidence against himself, to interpret him where he is obscure now, by himself where he was plain before, and to exhibit the fearful consequences' to which he would bring us, as he drew them in the boldness of his first conception.

Before, however, we do this, we will discharge our duty to Mr. Shelley as poetical critics-in a case like the present, indeed, where the freight is so pernicious, it is but a secondary duty to consider the build' of the vessel which bears it; but it is a duty too peculiarly our own to be wholly neglected. Though we should be sorry to see the Revolt of Islam in our readers' hands, we are bound to say that it is not without beautiful passages, that the language is in general free from errors of taste, and the versification smooth and harmonious. In these respects it resembles the latter productions of Mr. Southey, though the tone is less subdued, and the copy altogether more luxuriant and ornate than the original. Mr. Shelley indeed is an unsparing imitator; and he draws largely on the rich stores of another mountain poet, to whose religious mind it must be matter, we think, of perpetual sorrow to see the philosophy which comes pure and holy from his pen, degraded and perverted, as it continually is, by this miserable crew of atheists or pantheists, who have just sense enough to abuse its terms, but nei


« EelmineJätka »