« السابقةمتابعة »
as the Creole white, that a woman of the latter complexion would never associate with one of the former, neither was a coloured man permitted to hold any office under the govern. ment or practise any liberal profession, although many of them were men of education, and proprietors of great estates. Had not this bitter prejudice been carried to such an unlimited extent, it is highly probable, that'the unhappy revolution which has caused so much banishment and bloodshed, would never have terminated as it has, for the mulattoes would have had no cause for revolt, and without their talents and counsel it could never have been successfully conducted. But to return from my digression.
The women of Hayti, like those of all other communities, are composed of various classes, according to their stations in life. I shall consider them under the three general heads, to which I think they may with propriety be reduced. The highest class, or first circle, comprizes the ladies, and daughters of the chief officers military and civil, the maids of honour attendant upon the empress, and her daughters the princesses, and a few women of degree, who are perhaps related to, or very intimate with, some of the families of distinction. Of this rank, there are some of all colours, from the lightest shade, to the purest black. In the second or middling class, may be included the wives and daughters of merchants, subaltern military officers, mechanics, and the great body of shopkeepers, mantuamakers, and milli
The division of labour is here so justly apportioned, that all the easy light work, such as that of retailing dry goods, belongs exclusively to the women. By this means they are enabled to support themselves respectably, and to be highly useful to their country, for in consequence of their industry, more men are left to devote their services to the various military and agricultural employments, for which they are required. Of this class, there are likewise some of all colours. The lowest class, composed of servants, plantation wenches, washers of clothes, &c. are nearly all black. You will seldom see one of a lighter shade than the mulatresse, and of that colour but very few.
That particular portion of them which is the most likely to attract the attention of strangers, is coinposed of those who beHong to the three lightest shades of colour called quinterone,
quarterone and mistive. The great body of these women are handsome, and many of them beautiful. The short curly wool of the negro is lost in their fine long flowing tresses of hair, and there is scarcely any thing in their appearance which indicates the least consanguinity to the black. The colour of many so far from appearing to be produced by the mixed nature of their blood, resembles entirely the effect of the sun and climate, and there are not a few of a much lighter complexion than some American brunettes. Their persons, particularly those of the young women, are generally slender, and well proportioned, their features delicate, and their deportment lofty. Their mental acquirements are generally limited, though many of them have excellent educations. But in some accomplishments they are by no means deficient. They sing with elegance and melody, play on the guitar with judgment, and dance with gracefulness. Of these fashionable amusements they are extravagantly fond, but of others again they are entirely negligent. I have never seen, for instance, a Haytian lady seated at a gambling table, with a pack of cards in her hand, exhibiting a countenance expressive of such interest as if her whole happiness was involved in the issue of the game. Their leisure time is employed in pursuits of industry, and as they excel in all the nice branches of needlework and embroidering, they are enabled to procure a maintenance. Their language, which is the refined Creole, (for even this simple tongue has its various dialects and styles) is extremely fascinating, and with the soft and melodious accents with which it is artfully uttered, is well adapted to the science of making love, and is often successfully displayed.
The Haytian lady is excessively fond of dress, and in her costume exhibits a great deal of taste and neatness. Jewels, trinkets and rings of considerable value and splendour form a considerable part of her wealth, but the article which is more highly esteemed than all the rest of her wardrobe together, is a fine Madrass handkerchief for her head. So great is the predilection for this article, that if a Haytian lady was in want of one, and at the same time of an under-garment, and had only money cnough to purchase one, she would buy the former. A single Madrass handkerchief, of a singular and beautiful pattern,
- 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 mademoiselle, 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 concerned, 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 womciiofour 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 yet this masculine temper of mind is in no way indicated by any harshness of manners, foș 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 fainiliar a footing, that they appear to be upon an equality. Their stations in life, alone mark the difference, and I have not obseryed that the ladies of great men, often assume much consequence upon the superiority of their ranks, in their conduct to inferiors.
Having thus given you as particular an account of the fair
of Hayti, as my present acquaintance with them, cnables mc to do, I shall leave you for a while that you may endcavour to reconcile my account with the ideas you had formed of.them, when under the influence of prejudice.
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 secking 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 witlı 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 Mar'in, he was amusing himself in a court-yard with chasing a guinea-hen, which was shut up there for his amuseinent; 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.” “My lord, we only ask you to lay the first stone.” “ Mir. parson," replied the prince, swhen I lay the first stone, I also lay the last,” anid hc rcturned to chasing the guinea-heu.