صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

“ And be hanged at sunrise in the morning,” said Dessalines. The generals rose and retired, except Dessalines and Toussaint L'Ouverture.

“ If you are my friend,” said Toussaint L'Ouverture, “ you will not condemn these men. Save them from death ; they are innocent. Grant me the pardon of, at least, one of them ; he was my master, and kind and good to me.

“He must perish, to satisfy the army,” said Dessalines, fiercely. They must not say that favour is shown to any white man. He must perish, because he is white. His colour is his guilt.” “Oh ! Dessalines, what can I say to this?”

Nothing solid, I will own. The dawn approached ; and, meanwhile, during the night there had been erected on a declivitous plain, between a small wood and the Black camp, several gibbets. At daybreak, a number of people were assembled under them, for the purpose of executing the unfortunate Frenchman. Toussaint L'Ouverture was sitting on the fortifications of the camp. He cast his eyes towards the plain on a particular gibbet ; he saw the men adjusting the rope, and the victims standing under it ; he could gaze no longer; he turned his eyes aside for a few moments, and, when he looked again, he saw the body of M. Bayon de Libertas swinging in the air.

A wild commotion of thoughts swept over his mind, and he yielded to its full influence.

“I have leagued with vice," he thought, “vice which destroys, but never spares life. Dessalines has no humanity, no charity. He has no generous feelings ; none, none.

He bent his steps to the camp of Dessalines, and as soon as he was in his presence, cast his sword at his feet.

“ General,” said he, “ that sword I drew in the cause of honour, but now I resign it ; for I am the enemy of oppression, and will not be the assassin of innocent men. I am no longer

your soldier.

At this period a social circle of friends, consisting of generals, colonels, captains, and other officers in the Blacks' army, were assembled at the house of Toussaint's old aide-de-camp, the black general, Chavney, at Port-au-Prince.

“ It is very certain,” observed one of them, “ that we all agree in one point-to defend General Toussaint with our lives and fortunes. Just now some men are rising up at Arcahay and

Boucassin, and on the prairies between the mountains Selle and Mardigras, to restore General Toussaint to the confidence of the army. Let us place ourselves at the head of these worthy people, who have assembled in the general's cause.

This was universally assented to by the company ; and in a week after a rumour was afloat in Haiti, that there was an insurrection in the interior and on the west coast.

While this rumour was in circulation, one morning, shortly after the breakfast hour, the governor and commander-in-chief of the republic, Dessalines, holding in his hand a gold-headed cane as a symbol of his office, came out of a room in the Palace of Sans Souci, followed by a fat black officer of rank, clad in a blue coat richly embroidered with gold, and having a long sword dangling at his side, and spurs attached to the heels of his Hessian boots.

“Go, aide-de-camp, to the Cape," said Dessalines, " and tell General La Plume to inform General Le Clerc that I will come over to the French with all the Haitians, unless General Toussaint regains his influence, which seems very likely, as the negroes are rising in his cause. And tell General La Plume to inform General Le Clerc--you hear me, aide-de-camp?

Yes, your Excellency."

“—to take prisoner General Toussaint, who is just now staying at L'Ouverture, his house at Gonaives, not far from St. Marc.

The aide-de-camp made his bow and exit from the presence of the governor, and, mounting his horse, rode away at full gallop toward the capital.

A few days after, in the dead of night, a French man-of-war, L'Héro, a 74 gun-ship, attended by a small Creole frigate, was standing in toward Calm Beach, near Gonaives. Troops immediately landed in several boats, and surrounded the house of Toussaint, while General Brunet and Le Clerc's aide-de-camp, Ferrari, entered, with a file of grenadiers, the chamber of the black general, where he lay wrapt in slumber. The French general demanded his instant surrender.

“I submit,” said Toussaint, seeing his room crowded with armed soldiers, " but take not with me my feeble wife and my harmless child."

“They must come with you," said the generals, sternly.

Toussaint, with his family, was hurried that night on board L Héro, and the ship immediately sailed for France. On its arrival at Brest, Toussaint was conveyed in a close carriage, under a strong escort of cavalry, to the Castle of Joux, in FrancheComté, and thence to Besançon. There he was immured in a cold and damp dungeon, and there, accustomed for sixty years to a West Indian climate, he perished for want of warmth and air, on the 27th of April, 1803.

This act did not gain Bonaparte St. Domingo. Dessalines, behaving with treachery, instead of joining the French, placed himself at the head of large bodies of troops, and, renewing the struggle for liberty, succeeded in the attempt ; and, Toussaint L'Ouverture being removed out of the way of his ambition, he was proclaimed, on the 8th of October, 1804, on the plains near Portau-Prince, the Emperor of Haiti. But he did not long enjoy this exalted dignity. Charles Bellair, a Congo negro, the nephew of Toussaint, rose up against him, and vowing that he would lay “the rash black villain,” (as he styled Dessalines), “ dead at his feet," addressed numerous assemblies of negroes on the subject, and expatiated, at the same time, on the virtues of his uncle. The negroes had feeling minds: they surrounded him and wept as they listened to him.

" When Massa General Toussaint was alive and in fortune, he gib-a we arl, and ebery one, ebery ting,” they said.

“ A hundred hands,” exclaimed an enthusiastic old negro, named Cuffy, holding out both his hands to Charles Bellair ; a hundred hands you shall hab ebery day, Massa Charles, to kill de Emperor."

“ We need but one hand,” said Charles Bellair, “and that is Gattie's.”

The negroes cowered on hearing that name ; Gattie was the public executioner. He was a Chamba negro, who had come from Africa, where he had learnt the art of taking off a man's head with one stroke of his sabre, and without staining the shirt-collar with blood. On account of his dreadful office he was feared by all his tribe, and shunned by them. So he lived by himself in a cave, in thick

grove of forest trees in the highest part of the mountains of Cibao, which are the loftiest chain of mountains in Haiti. He was seated at the entrance of his cave, one afternoon, on a mound, boiling a kettle of pepper-pot, (the favourite soup of the negroes), when Charles Bellair came to him. Gattie had on, as usual, only trousers, and the upper part of his body, from his shoulders to his waist being quite bare, exhibited a skin as black as a coal and as sleek as a water rat's. A sabre slung by his side told his fatal duties.


“Good morning, Gattie !" “ How day, Massa ?

66 I have business for you, Gattie.” Me glad to hear um, Massa. P’raps he to bink off some one's head, eh?” The other nodded. “How much you gib-a me, Massa ?” “ The victim's clothes-very fine clothes, Gattie-and ten Joes." • By Gole!

“ And it is the Emperor's head that you must strike off.” “ By Gum! · dat wort' twenty Joes.” * And twenty Joes I'll give you, Gattie. Come along. I will lead you the way, and when I show you

that dog of a fellow, let me see your sword flash and his head roll to the ground."

Gattie rose to his feet with a low chuckle, perhaps at the other's emotions, or, more probably, at the mention of his own exploits. However, he followed Charles Bellair down the mountain's side.

It was late in the afternoon of the 17th of October, 1807. The last gleam of twilight had just sunk into the obscurity of night. A deep silence reigned in the neighbourhood of Pont Rouge, broken only by the roll of drums and the peal of martial music. Dessalines, the Emperor, was advancing, in military pomp, to meet his advanced guard at Port-au-Prince.

As he was passing the bridge over the river Cul-de-Sac, the moon was a good way up the horizon. Peaceful and light clouds, blanched with her beams, rolled over her disk ; and, darting snatches of uncertain light, she chased away, at intervals, the partial darkness which hung over the mountain tops. Before Dessalines, the forest, moved by the night wind, waved up and down in dark and crowded undulations. Many objects, diminished by distance, suddenly issued from the gloomy forest, and immediately lost themselves beneath the shadows of accumulated clouds which intercepted the moon-light.

“ You see those people yonder ? said Dessalines, in his usual quick and hasty manner, to a general of his staff. “Who are they?

They are not the advanced guard, your Majesty," said the general.

Assisted by the moon-light, which struggled through some spongy clouds, Dessalines saw the body of men bearing onward toward him. In their speedy motions and indignant countenances he might have read his death-warrant. His vandered over their closely serried body, in anxiety, as he watched them form themselves in platoons, and slowly load their guns. The platoon then advanced, and halted within gun-shot of him. He heard the word, “Make ready.' In anticipation of the next order, he shouted aloud to them, and rode forward with amazing courage to chastise them with his cane. He had nearly reached them, when a voice cried out, “ Now Gattie, take your victim !

A little black man, panting for breath, ran forward, his unsheathed sabre flashing bright in the moon-beam.

Dessalines retreated, speaking with desperate anger:- “Rebels! traitors, all !”-he said—“ do with me as you like; but, bear witness, I die, as I have lived, a brave soldier !”

Scarcely had these words left his lips, when his head (taken off by one stroke of Gattie's sabre) rolled from his shoulders to the ground. He fell without a groan.

“ The tyrant is no more. Rejoice !” said the Congo negro. “ Now, on to St. Marc. We will make the good Christophe our Emperor.”

The morning of the morrow dawned sunless on the scene of slaughter. The mutilated carcass of the Emperor was, meanwhile, consigned to the silent tomb. His fate created no sympathy among the people, the justice of his doom being universally acknowledged ; and his murderers made no expiation for their crimes at a human tribunal. But Nemesis, who punishes, unrelentingly, all criminals—if not with her right, with her left handcaused Charles Bellair to make atonement for his murderous deed, a few years after, by being shot to death, as a prisoner of war, in the Champ-de-Mars, at the back of the Grandes Casernes, or Barracks, in the City of Cape Français.


The recent visit of the now ecumenical American Transcendentalist, with his four lectures in the Philosophical Institution here, (Edinburgh,) has delighted his numerous readers—has no doubt somewhat mystified, but greatly interested, the not inconsiderable female portion of them-has grieved or horrified the very orthodox—and has, at the same time, like the approach of a friendly voice once distant, stirred the hearts of a few independent thinkers. In this firmest stronghold of religious formalism, and arena of the odium theologicum, it is difficult for such to lift their voices. At present not an organ exists for them in Scotland; but that such there are, and that they will strive to fulfil their duty as it arises,

« السابقةمتابعة »