صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

protection, without ever experiencing the least interruption on their journey. The usual style in which a stranger travels is on horseback, furnished with a brace of pistols, and if he pleases, a sabre' by his side, accompanied by a guide who is accoutred with similar warlike implements. These guides, who are mulattoes or negroes, are honest trusty fellows, and are at times employed as expresses, to convey letters when private opportunities are wanting. One of these men will perform the route between this and Port au Prince, a distance of about one hundred and sixty miles over a mountainous country in the course of two days and an half, which renders the want of a regular mail establishment scarcely to be felt

The confidence of security in the performance of a jourcey, is certainly one of the greatest sources of enjoyment, which the traveller can experience. But there are other causes of satisfaction which are requisite to complete his comfort, that are not to be found in this Island. The most important of these is, tiie convenience of public houses, without which it would seem almost impossible to travel with any great degree of pleasure. Taverns, or in fact any species of house, where fare and accommodations are expressly provided for travellers, are not frequently to be found in the country. The houses of private individuals are indeed a substitute, but a miserable one. There is a certain kind of liberty, that of consulting his taste, to which a man is entitled at a public house and with which mine host is expected to conform, that cannot possibly be exercised in a private olie. The food is generally of the plainest sort, the wine of an inferior quality, and the lodgings not the best. In some towns a travelJer may

be accommodated at the house of a man of quality, as at Limbé, where general Romain has frequently entertained Ameri. cans who have stopped at his mansion. In such cases no charge is regularly made by the master of the house, and his civility has the appearance of a mere exercise of the duties of hospitality, but it is always understood that his lady will by no mcans be offended, to find in the chamber of the guest after his depärture, as many dollars as he has felt disposed to leave upon the table. This mode of paying a bill is so universally unders ood

. and practised, as seldoin to be omitted, but the amount is not so

determinate, as that varies according to the liberality of the traveller froin two to eight dollars for a night. The want of bridges is also another serious inconvenience in travelling. The rivers of the Island are usually narrow, many of them being no wider than what we call creeks, and in common times of such a depth as to be easily fordable on horseback. But they are excessively rapid, and during the rainy seasons, acquire such impetuosity with the increase of their waters, as to render them impassable. The wary traveller is sometimes deluded by the apparent genticness of the stream, and iristances are not rare, wherein he has been swept away by the current, without the ability to save himself from drowning even where the depth of water has not exceeded three or four feet. In the course of the last month I had an opportunity of acquiring some little experience in travelling, in a short journey I made to Port de Paix, whither I was invited by some commercial prospects. The particulars of this expedition I recorded with attention and will now proceed to give you a description thereof.

On the 18th of February, at about mid-day, I set out with my companion wlio was to act the part of a servant as well as that of guide. Lúrent was dressed in a sort of uniform jacket, a large brass scabbard, with a sword in it for aught I know, a fierce chapear in the style of what we call shoot the moon, barefooted, and in many other particulars quite en militaire. One of his heels, after the manner of the inferiors of the country, and in perfect imitation of his worthy predecessor, Hudibras, was armed with a trusty spur of good old iron, for the honest soldier like the humorous knight well knew that

“could he stir To active trot one side of's horse," there was no danger that the other side would lag behind. His nag was a small creole pony, and like its master in every respect handsomely caparisoned for the expedition. His holsters were well supplied.--1100 with pistols, as a fighting man would be led to suppose, for Lorent had no stomach for fighting-neither with “ammunition, bread and cheese” but with the more inoffensive order of fire-arms, cigars. The long decorating tails of our cliargers which did not disdain at their full length to

)

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

sweep the ground, were carefully folded up in plaits to prevent, as is the supposition, the animals from giving out through fatigue.

In this style we sallied forth, I in the advance and Lorent at a respectful distance in the rear-sometimes indeed too respectful, for I discovered him at times perhaps half a mile behind, holding parleys with the acquaintances he encountered on the route. Having rode about two leagues, I overtook a black soldier gently pacing along on mule-back. I joined company with him, and finding him to be very civil and polite I introduced subjects of conversation. The politics of the nation were touched upon, and I found him like the great body of his fellowcountrymen excessively virulent in his sentiments respecting the French, and resolutely determined to hazard his life in defence of his country. “Should the French again attempt,” said he with fervour,“ to reduce the island to slavery, this child (pointing to a lad of about eight years of age who was mounted behind him) shall carry a musket.” Such expressions of devotion to the cause of liberty (phantom as she is to all in Hayti but the great) are every where to be heard, and it seems as if the youth, like young Hannibal, the moment they are able to lisp, are made to swear-eternal enmity to the French nation.

My fellow traveller soon left me to take a by-road, and I continued slowly on, without meeting with any occurrences worthy of remark. At eight o'clock we were saluted by the sentinel of a corps de garde, with the usual question of qui vive? It was now so dark that the horses could scarcely keep the road, and any kind of accommodations appeared to me preferable to proceeding further. I accordingly inquired of the soldiers if they would permit us to lodge there, and whether they had any thing eatable for man or horse? to all this they replied in the negative, and as there was no choice left, we were obliged to proceed. Port Margot, which was two miles off and out of our route, was the nearest place where we could expect to find a lodging or a supper, and we immediately shaped our course for it. When we arrived near the town, which we discovered by the glimmering of lights, I sent Lorent forward to procure accommodations; supposing him to be acquainted with the people.

own

He knocked at a door, from which an old woman soon issued, and in arswer to his inquiries replied, that she had nothing in her house to eat. He went on and produced from his next call an old man, who supposing him to be a pauvre diable like himself without a penny to pay for his lodging, informed him, that he had no spare bed. By this time I had reached the door, almost in despair from hunger and fatigue, when as soon as the honest gentry discovered that Lorent was not travelling upon his account, but was the quarter-master of one who had the appearance of being able to pay the club of both, they instantly changed their tune. They said they could very comfortably accommodate the capitaine Americain, that as for supper, there was no such thing in the town as a loaf of bread, but that if I would promise to pay them five quarters of a dollar, they would provide me with an omelet, some plantains and a bed. Had my kind host have asked me for as many dollars, he would have been sure to have received them, for I was in such a state of weariness, that I would have acceded to almost any proposition. Why this odd sum was named as a preliminary to our bargain, I never could divine, unless the poor landlord had owed some importunate dun exactly that amount, and had had his mind so harassed, as to be always ruminating upon it. I dismounted, and after have ing seen the horses fed, sat down to my stipulated meal and then retired to my chamber. Fancy yourself in a hut made of large twigs interwoven in the manner of a basket, plaistered with mud, and floored by simple nature. A bundle of corn stocks or sugar cane, sewed up in a large sack for your bed, a portmanteau for your pillow, and a surtout to defend you from the night air, which had plentiful circulation by means of the transparency of the house. A thin wax taper, stuck in a fracture at one end of an old table, and a bottle of bad claret wine, standing with tears in its eyes at the other. Such was my chamber, and such its furniture. Sleep however soon commenced his balmy operations, and deprived me from longer enjoying the delights which such an unrivalled 13llection of domestic comforts afforded.

On the following morning before day-light, Lorent had prepared the horses, and after having taken my cup of coffee, which answers in this country to the Virginian julep or anti-fogmatic, we proceeded. After travelling a few miles over muddy and

mountainous roads, we reached a ferry at a small river called Sal, over which we passed in a scow. At nine o'clock we reached Le Borgne, a town of about a hundred houses, a few of which are stone and log, but the rest of the same kind of wicker-work as the one at which I lodged the preceding night. Here I breakfasted upon part of a fowl, some goat cutlets, bread and wine. Mine host was a right respectable looking old black gentleman. He was a judge of the peace, kept a kind of inn for the convenience of travellers, and a billiard table for the amusement of his townsmen. Le Borgne is situated in a bay very near the open sea, and is remarkable for the frequency with which its inhabitants are attacked by the loathsome disease called scurvy. A considerable quantity of fine coffee is transported from this town to the Cape (from which it is distant about ten leagues) in boats which are constantly plying between the two places.

Soon after leaving Le Borgne, a range of high mountains extending for fifteen miles, commences. The roads over these are scarcely passable, for rocks and mire, and in no part of them would admit a carriage. In one spot the path is cut through a huge rock, and so narrow, that a single horse can just pass. As you may suppose, there are not many inhabitants in this neighbourhood. Here and there you may see a hut, surrounded by a cluster of plantain trees, and a few sorry looking peasants. But if scenes of grandeur can be imagined, of wild and terrifying prospects, they are here to be found. Frequently the path winding around a peak of the mountain above the clouds, presents to your view the raging ocean beneath, dashing his angry waves against its base, and threatening with ruin the whole pile. In other places, horrible precipices commencing immediately with the margin of the road, menace with destruction the trembling traveller.

The appearances exhibited by the clouds in this climate afford an object of pleasing speculation. Falling weather is always preceded by their visible descent, and we see on such occasions large volumes enveloping the tops of the mountains and concealing their summits from view. At other times a large body is seen stationary, perched upon a peak, and at others boldly sweeping along the sides of the mountains.

This latter appearance is exceedingly beautiful, especially when the cloud highly char

« السابقةمتابعة »