Friday, August 19, 2005

Moreau De Jonnes in the West Indies

You can find another version that may be easier to read and certainly is easier to print out if you go to

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Alexandre Moreau De Jonnes

A frenchman, later well known for his pioneering work in social statistics, who in his younger years participated in some aspects of the French Revolution. Of particulat interest (one hopes) to the readers of this blog he served as the channel through which Victor Hughes helped the Caribs of St. Vincent in their fights with the British. The parts of his memoires dealing withy his experiences in the Caribbean during the Carib-English War of 1795 (that the English call the "Brigand's War") were translated by General Arby in 1920 and are long since out of print. Later translations do not include the Caribbean part of his adventures (as I found out by purchasing copies). I finally, after several years, found a (rather expensive) copy of General Arby's translation and have now scanned it for the internet. I think it should be of interest to anyone interested in the history of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Garifuna.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines recognises Chatoyer as a national hero, but there isn't much about Chatoyer that gives an insight into his personality. The Caribs that Moreau De Jonnes describe have personality to spare.

Moreau De Jonnes in the West Indies (1795)(Part 5)

CHAPTER 10 1796:

When I returned to Guadeloupe after our expedition
against the town of Kingstown in St. Vincent, I ought to
have reported myself to Victor Hugues, but was told that
he was in such a savage mood that no one could go near
him. I quickly made up my mind, and set to work with
all the keenness of a youth who knows the value of time
and freedom. M. Mel befriended me and smoothed the
path of my labors by allowing me the use of a pleasant,
quiet room in his house, whence I got a fine view of the
port of La Pointe-�-pitre and the high volcanic mountains
of Guadeloupe.

During my stay in St. Vincent I had made a sketch-map
of the mountains of that island, showing the forests and
heights rising from its coasts. All communications by tracks
through the woods were carefully drawn on it, and you
could see the best military positions to be occupied. l
made a fair copy of this map, and, though badly enough
drawn, it was a masterpiece compared to the rough sketch
engraved in London, which was all that existed of the
island. At least, that was the opinion of M. Mel, who in
his admiration went so far as to show it to the proconsul.
The latter kept it, and sent for me next day. l found
him looking at my sketch most carefully. He made me
sit down, and questioned me for an hour. Though quite
ignorant of the art of map-reading, he picked up very
quickly the signs by which the features of a territory are
expressed, and deduced accurately from them the military
operations proper to these features. l have seen later
many a general who read a map much worse.

Two hours after this interview, an aide-de-camp brought
me a brevet as lieutenant of marine artillery attached to
the Staff, and informed me that the Commissary of the
Republic intended to send me on a special secret mission.
I vainly tried to discover how l was to be employed ; but
my old friend the captain of the privateer Le Vengeur was
uneasy for me, owing to the favor for which I had just
been picked out, and, fully persuaded from the character
of him who accorded it that l should pay dearly for it, he
offered me an escape from the obligation by returning to
France on board of his vessel without first obtaining leave.
This expedient appeared to me dishonorable, and l could
not make up my mind to be guilty of it. Events, however,
proved that the counsel was good.

When summoned to headquarters, Victor Hugues' secretary,
who, they said, was merely his tool, explained in his
name what was required of me. Notwithstanding the
superiority of the English, who were assuming the offensive
everywhere, the proconsul hoped to wrest Martinique from
them by surprise, as he had already done in the case of
Guadeloupe. To carry out this bold scheme he depended
on a reinforcement which had been promised him, and
should by now be leaving French ports ; and, above all,
on the feelings of the negroes and of the inhabitants of
the town of St. Pierre, who were as zealous on behalf of
the Republic as were the rural colonists on behalf of the
Monarchy. Of course, the material for a siege of the two
fortresses on the island was wanting ; but by seizing the
open country and the port it would be possible to blockade
the citadels, invest them closely, and cause them to
capitulate. Moreover, he had hopes of buying over the
commanders charged with their defense. He fully realized
that, in order to take St. Pierre by means of a surprise
attack from the heights dominating the town, there must
be complicated military operations, necessitating a good
map of the locality. No such map being available, he
looked to me to make one immediately on the same lines
as that of St. Vincent, with which he was satisfied. The
difficulty of the task was that I must execute it in the .
midst of enemies, braving the dangers of their soldiers and
partisans and the traps of their police. If I was discovered
the venture failed, and I should be handed over to a military
court, tried summarily, and executed forthwith. The worst
of the adventure was that Martinique had preserved
religiously the uses and customs of O1d France, and
continued, as in the fifteenth century, to hang and burn alive.
Every town possessed a high gallows in its most frequented
spot, as well as space enough to build a wood-stack as big
as the square of Notre Dame. The English rule established
by the conquest of 1794 increased the predilection for the
favorite punishment of the Middle Ages. At this time
the Book of Statutes, which served as a criminal code in
England, enumerated a list of no less than 300 acts
of which a man was capable, each of which entailed his
being hanged.

It is easy to imagine that in this list the case in which
I should find myself had not been overlooked, so that I
could not doubt what would be my fate. I was too deeply
pledged to withdraw, and, moreover, I was led by the
hope of personally contributing towards the expulsion of
the enemy from the most beautiful of our West Indian
colonies, and avenging the affront our arms had received
in the attack on Kingstown. 1 was allowed a free hand in
the preparations for my dangerous mission ; in fact, I was
treated in all respects like one of those to whom nothing
is refused when nearing their end. I cut off my budding
mustaches, wore a pair of spectacles, and provided myself
with the passport of a traveling doctor with a taste for
botany, already stamped visa by l do not know
how many authorities, whose signatures and forged seals
the secretary, Viel, did not hesitate to attach. I was
introduced to an honest seaman, Captain All�gre, who
commanded a brig, but who used for his dangerous trips a
schooner of the country, called a balaon. This was a kind
of coasting vessel whose appearance excited no distrust,
and it carried me to Martinique and put me ashore at
daybreak at La Grande Rivi�re, the northern end of the
island; we agreed on a rendezvous and signals, and he went
off, leaving me on this enemy territory.

l completely forgot my critical situation from the moment
that 1 took a look round me. l had already, at Guadeloupe.
seen lovely scenery, but nothing either there or elsewhere
equalled the grandeur and luxuriance of the sight that
met my eyes. Between two parallel declivities some 200
or 300 feet high poured from fall to fall a torrent whose
waters were either covered with foam or rolled clear and
limpid, reflecting the blue of the sky. Enormous blocks of
lava studding its bed showed what its strength was when
swollen by winter deluges, or even by the burst of a
storm-cloud in the vast basin whence it took its rise in the
highest regions of the mountain. Brilliant tropical vegetation
covered every spur of this vast volcano. Flowering creepers
wreathed the rocks with garlands, sheets, or waving festoons.
The tufa was bright with the scarlet flowers of cactus, and
of aloes like gigantic narcissus. On the ridge of these
slopes stood some sturdy trees, whose roots were bedded
in the rocks; their tops afforded a hold for ropes of
climbing plants which hung down to the valley and served
as shrouds to fugitive negroes in scaling the bed of the
stream. Above the cavernous bed of the torrent the higher
regions of the volcano rose high, covered with blue forests.
When the clouds permitted, the top of the cone, battlemented
by the ridges of its craters, showed at the extremity
of this vast perspective, combining the majesty of the
Alps with the graceful beauty of the Pyrenees. I found on
the face which rose on the left of the torrent a path with
twenty zigzags. and yet so steep it could only be descended
on a sledge without the possibility of standing upright.
The broad terrace on to which it led was only the first of
three stages which 1 had to climb. I reached the last by
a winding track, which seemed designed for goats rather
than men. My journey was now to begin in real earnest.
In the midst of a garden full of various plants rose a hut
leaning against the mountain and framed in a wood of
macaw-trees. Prickly hedges of logwood made access to
it difficult, and watchful dogs guarded it. Their barking
brought out the owner, who advanced to meet me. He
was an old negro, wrinkled and scarred, but still hearty
and active. In looking at his face, which, like that of all
his kind, seemed inert, resolution and roguish trickery
might be found beneath a pretense of stupidity. In greeting
him, 1 asked if he were not Citizen Lubin, formerly corporal
in the French army at Guadeloupe. His pleased look
rather than his long-winded answer having shown me that
1 was not mistaken, 1 made an agreed upon sign, and said
the password, "�a bon." He replied, "�a ben bon" and
made a sign of recognition; then, convinced that at last
he had found one of the same political tenets as himself, he
cried, "Long live the Republic! Long live the general!
To hell with the English!" The noise of this brought forth
from every corner of the building a crowd of naked little
negroes, who joined in the chorus with joyful bounds and
grimaces so strange that I burst into a roar of laughter,
which they took as a mark of approbation. A plentiful
breakfast followed this joyous reception. There was no
bread or wine, but I was given ortolans, guinea-fowls' eggs,
and frogs' legs as big as those of capons. For dinner '1
was promised dishes even more delicate - palm-worms and
white ants called poux �flvs - but I asked instead to be
given an Indian chicken cooked in the ashes with slices
of yam. 1 must own that the dessert was superb, com-
posed as it was of twenty kinds of fruit, of which
the orange and pineapple were the only kinds known in

At table I learnt the story of my host. He was free by
birth, a position of which he was as proud as if he had
been a Montmorency. He had taken up arms in the first
troubles in Martinique, and his military recollections went
back td M. de B�hagne. General Rochnmbeau had chosen
him as guide; and at the time of Victor Hugues' arrival at
Guadeloupe he had taken service in the French troops,
and had been wounded in the assault of Fort Fleur d'Ep�e.
On his return to Martinique, residence in St. Pierre had
become dangerous for him, as the king's proctor did not
look favorably on his devotion to France. He withdrew
to the heights of the Grande Rivi�re, far from the inhabited
parts, and had made there for himself a very charming
home, where he lived out of reach of persecution with a
large family, brought up in love for the Republic and
hatred for the English. He had. kept in touch with
Guadeloupe, whither he went every three months to draw a small
pension, and Victor Hugues, who had the good sense not
to despise anyone, always added something to this little
sum, with some friendly words to the poor negro soldier. '
Here was the safe guide, able and devoted, chosen for me
by the proconsul.

The next day l began work on my difficult and dangerous
exploration, and worked at it night and day for three weeks.
In this long time I took the bearings of heights of water-
courses and communications of every sort existing in the area
of the extinct volcano of Mont Pel�e, which goes to form
the southern part of Martinique, and contains the most
beautiful districts of the colony. I had not much trouble
in drawing a plan of those districts lying to windward or
the east, and the high parts of the mountain were still easier;
but nearer the town of St. Pierre I met with many obstacles
in the multitude of roads, the fencing of fields, the thickness
of the population, and especially in the neighborhood of
troops and officials, whose observation might prove fatal
to me. Nevertheless, I accomplished my task, and I was
able to point out clearly spots suitable for a landing either
by force or by surprise ; roads leading to ground on which
columns of attack could debouch, and paths to take the
coast batteries in reverse; the parts of the town where '
resistance would be encountered, and those which must be
occupied and fortified after capture; finally, the means of
cutting of reinforcing bodies of the enemy. The military
map containing these details on a large scale was made up
of forty-five sheets enclosed in a leather case like a book.
These sheets served as a herbal during the survey in order
to disguise their object.

It would be endless to relate the trials l underwent
during this task. First, l had to overcome my repugnance
to sleeping in a Negro's hut. Lubin would not allow me
on any account to sleep in the open air, as I should without
fail have caught fever. l lived all the time on dry bread
and coffee without milk. Morning and evening were the
favorable times ; throughout the day we were surrounded
by troublesome people, watching or entering into conversation.
One took me for a surveyor, and believed that I was charged
with an examination of his property with a view to an
increase of his taxes. Another, believing, and rightly too,
that l was an artillery officer, attributed to me a plan
to erect near him a battery with which that cursed
Victor Hugues would destroy his house. A11 departed
saying they were going to lodge complaints which would
bring the authorities down on me.

Many followed me out of sheer curiosity, or to show me
healing Plants which I seemed to seek. We often met
English soldiers, but they were so strange to the country
that they regarded me without suspicion. I escaped with
equal good-fortune from other very formidable foes-the
fer-de-lance snakes which swarmed in the fields, whose
bite kills, with atrocious suffering, in a few hours.
I saw perhaps a dozen, chiefly at the edge of sugar-cane
patches, near the town. Their looks were frightful, whether
owing to their size and activity or to the strange phenomenon
that, though without limbs, they have the power to move
rapidly, to climb the tallest trees, and to project
themselves a long way in order to seize their victim.
Shortly after completing my task I thought I had tempted
fortune sufficiently, and made my way over the heights of
"Le Pr�cheur" to the anchorage of C�ron, where I was
to find Captain All�gre's balaon. We found anchored near
the coast this welcome vessel, which should be our place of
safety, and hastened down the hills in order to embark.
Going down the hollow lane which led to the beach, Lubin,
who carried my precious packet of maps, ran on ahead to
call the dinghy of the balaon. At the moment when, by
this opportune act, he placed my precious work out of
danger, a man, throwing himself headlong on my from the
bank of the narrow cut before I was clear of it, felled me
to' the ground. Half a score of his comrades, ambushed
in the same place, jumped to help him, and in a twinkling
1 was disarmed, stripped, bound, and led off prisoner.
Neither Captain All�gre nor Lubin could help me, but they
determined not to leave me in my distress, and to return
and deliver me by all means in their power. Some hours
later I entered St. Pierre, escorted by the wretched
militiamen who had surprised me when defenseless, and soon
the door of the gaol opened for me. A crowd, as l thought,
hostile to me, blocked the approach to the prison; I learnt,
however, by their threats that it consisted of my friends,
and 1 had no doubt when I saw Lubin active in its midst.
Nevertheless, the barriers closed behind me, and I found
myself in a place horrible beyond expression. Night had
fallen, and it was hard to distinguish objects in the dim
light ; but l was suffocated by the abominable smell. The
turnkey freed my arms and led me to a long bar to put
me in irons beside the negroes, who were already shackled
by both feet. The indignity of such treatment, the
possibility of which had never entered my mind, roused all
the strength of my soul. Raising myself to full height, I
ordered this fellow, with the voice of one accustomed to
be obeyed, to go and fetch the head-warder. He made no
reply, but fetched him. "Prepare your best room at once"
said I in the same tone; "take care that nothing is wanting,
and you shall be paid on its merits ; the bandits on the
mountain have stolen my purse, but 1 will give you an
order on my banker." "Might I ask his name, sir?"
"He is well enough known to you. It is General Victor
Hugues." At this well-known name the gaoler took off
his hat, made a bow, and said in a wheedling tone: "Sir,
your most humble servant." In a minute he set his servants
to work, and prepared for me a room, none too good, but
alter the horrible court in which I had nearly been lodged
it was a veritable palace. They brought me as well, always
charging them to the account, linen and clothing to replace
my dirty and torn garments.

l indemnified myself for my long fast with a good dinner,
and slept as profoundly as if no threat of capital punishment
hung over me. I had to be imprisoned in order to sleep
in a bed. I was awoke very late by someone whispering
in my ear; I opened my eyes and saw a young mulatto
woman of attractive appearance. I had noticed her over-
night in the crowd around me. "Sir," said she, "Lubin,
my uncle Lubin, tells me to let you know that last night,
by accident, the house of the man who arrested you on
Le Pr�cheur was burnt down, and he is dead." This
accident seemed very suspicious to me, and when, seven
years later, I reproached Lubin for it, he acknowledged that
he had something to do with it, but excused himself in
assuring me that this had been the custom since the days
of M. de B�hagne. The old negro soldier, who had learned
nothing from the sad lessons of history, believed firmly
that the good cause could not fail. So he had told his
niece, who was a slave of the gaolers, that I would cause
her to be freed when we became masters. The girl had '
taken this hope as likely to be soon realized, and in
anticipation of the gratitude she would owe me one day would
not have hesitated a moment to imitate her uncle by setting
light to the prison. Thus, by a chain of strange events,
in this town which l had entered as a criminal, I was able
after a few hours to make use both of the gaoler's purse
and goodwill to correspond with the outer world through
the intermediary of a brave and faithful girl; to threaten
the enemy with reprisals in response to the legal
assassination by dagger and fire ; and finally, to
seize the opportunity of a street brawl, and possibly regain
my liberty with the help of slaves. A1l be same, my situation
had a dark side. There was the fear that in these times of
violence, in this oppressed country the king's proctor, who
was as all-powerful as a Pacha, might have me hanged in prison
by negro warders. It was the little mulatto Zelie who
warned me of this possibility, having doubtless in her mind
the memory of a similar case. To obviate such a proceeding
she brought me a large kitchen knife, which she put
under my pillow, and prepared, from a receipt of her uncle's,
a bottle of wine so strongly poisoned that one mouthful
would be death. I don't know how it was, but whenever
my honorable allies wished to defend me there was always
in be means employed by them to resist oppression some
method of a slave's or savage's vengeance, and the first
thing to enter their mind was recourse to fire, dagger or
poison. I expect it was the effect of tradition or some
mental twist of their race.

This proctor, famous as a most cruel tyrant, came to the
prison with his deputy to interrogate me. He was a little
man, whose face resembled a nocturnal bird of prey of the
worst kind. I maintained that he had not received either
from the King of France, the Republic, or the King of

England, any authority to represent the state or society
as public prosecutor. I submitted that he was in no way
qualified to discharge these important functions, and that
he knew this in that he had not in my case carried out the
ordinance of Louis XIV. on criminal procedure, the new '
laws of procedure devised by the National Assembly, or
even the rigorous forms prescribed by the English
Legislature in the Book of Statutes. I declared it was my
intention to resist his attempt to interrogate me, and I
demanded that my protest should be recorded, reserving
to myself the right of appeal against illegal acts,
unauthorized arrest, abuse of power, and wrongful
imprisonment, for every day of which I might obtain
damages and redress, besides the punishment of the
instigators and Accomplices.

The scoundrel whom I attacked with coolness and energy had
hanged more than twenty victims, none of whom had a word
to say to him. You can judge his rage when he
found himself stood up to, and met with accusation. He
lost his bearings, and allowed me to find out that he did
not know who I was, evidently thinking me to be an emissary
sent by the revolutionary party in France to rouse the
colony to revolt. So far was he from guessing that l was
a soldier that when 'his deputy came to take him home
he was reported by Zelie to have said, "He is a lawyer or
the devil." A very unexpected event delivered me from
his evil designs. A young officer who had served in the
French army under General Rochambeau had stayed on in
Martinique after the capture of the island, kept there by
his love for a lady in a high position in St. Pierre. He had
to return to Guadeloupe to resume service, but died soon
after he arrived there. A parcel addressed to him having
reached M. Viel, the secretary of Government, he, acting
as political agent, opened it, but found himself mistaken,
as it contained only a love-letter. However, when he heard
that I had been arrested on Le Pr�cheur, he determined
to use it as an indication of the reason for my trip to
Martinique. This letter was sent by him to me, and in
my innocence I gathered nothing except that a pretty lady,
whose name Zelie told me, being unable to live any longer
without her lover, besought him to return as soon as possible,
assuring him that he ran no risk, seeing that the king's
proctor had fallen in love with her, and that this tyrant
was bound to her feet by chains of roses. I was so dull
I could not see how this confidence affected me, and the
sharp slave-girl had to explain how I must take the place
of the dead man, and pose as having been drawn to Martinique
by a love affair, a pardonable offense, instead of
having come to draw a map of the country, which was a
hanging matter. In preparing this substitution, M. Viel
had no great opinion of my wits in a case of intrigue, for,
in addition, he sent word to the lady that despite wise
advice her friend, yielding to her invitation, had returned
to Martinique, and that, out of jealousy, the king's proctor
had caused him to be ignominiously arrested and thrown
into the most pestilential gaol in order to get rid of him.
On hearing this, the lady rushed off in the middle of the
night, accompanied by a crowd of followers, to the house
of the magistrate, who was burning with fever, and made
such a scene that he nearly died.

The prison was quickly filled with her messengers, who,
but for Zelie's good offices, would soon have reached me,
and by their report have put an end to their mistress's
illusion ; for it was improbable that I at all resembled the
man they expected to find. However, the English officer in
command at St. Pierre, feeling uneasy at the
crowds gathering round the gaol each evening, reported
to the governor, who lived at Fort Royal, that he attributed
the agitation to my presence. He received an order to
send me out immediately, and two hours before daybreak
a picket of grenadiers came to my prison. I was given
ten minutes to prepare, and was put on board of a large
canoe, which, keeping well in shore out of the wind, entered
the superb bay of Fort Royal some hours later. Accompanied
by my escort, I passed into the citadel, over drawbridges,
past posterns and works of the fort, until I entered
a sort of covered way of great length, closed on one side
by the exterior rampart, washed by the waters of the
Careenage Harbor, while the other was bounded by a
wall of rock, 100 feet high, crowned by the batteries of the
fortress, and hollowed out deeply at the base to afford the
garrison a place of shelter from bombs. A door of thick
planks closed the entry to these casemates, and shut behind
me. The place was a palace in extent. I was alone in .
half a dozen halls 50 feet long and 3o broad, opening through
arches from one to another, and dimly lit by a few barred
windows. It took some time for my eyes to become
accustomed to this twilight and make out my surroundings
These great underground chambers are hewn out of the
solidified mass of muddy volcanic discharge from the
Carbet. The broad platform above them is formed by
successive layers from the volcano.

I examined every corner of this cave without finding
any sign of its ever being inhabited. Only in one of the
inmost retrenchments I deciphered on its wall the date
1722, with an illegible name. I stamped on the ground
and it sounded hollow, leading me to think it must be
some hidden grave. I did not think, however, that I was
for summary execution, as a bed had been prepared for
me. I found in a convenient position an Indian hammock,
stretched and quite comfortable, with table, chair, and
the complete furniture of an officer's quarter; to these
comforts were added two others. The temperature was not
too hot or tainted, as in my former gaol, and in these large
chambers there was plenty of room for exercise.

At midday an English lunch of roast beef and potatoes
was served with care and cleanliness that made me think
there was no feeling against me. I had another surprise
when the door was opened and I saw several persons come
in, who tried to recall themselves to me in the half-light. .
The first was Lubin, dressed as a colonial jockey with a
blue vest and red lace collar. To show that he was a free
negro he wore shoes ornamented with silver buckles and
to make himself more conspicuous he had succeeded in
finding in his short and woolly hair enough for a pigtail
some half inch long, of which he was immensely proud. Behind
him came Zelie, rigged out like the beauties of St. Pierre
in an white bodice with a bluish-green, flower-patterned
petticoat. A fine expensive Indian handkerchief covered
her head, and another of different color served as a fichu.
Rolls of hair, plastered down as best they could be, beneath
her head-dress, acted as a frame to her saucy face, and went
to show her pride in being connected with white folk.
Following uncle and niece came porters carrying trunks
and boxes, as if from the landing of a party of travelers.
Lubin informed me that he had come with Zelie to wait
on me in my prison, with permission from the commandant.
As to the luggage, though I had arrived in Martinique with
two shirts and a change pair of trousers, he assured me that
it was my wardrobe and that of my followers. The origin
of several cases of Bordeaux, liqueurs, and other delicacies,
was explained by the generosity of the great lady, who,
persuaded that I was suffering harsh and unjust persecution
for her sake, had commissioned Lubin to bring me fresh
testimony of her affection. This same pretense led to other
wonders. An adjutant came on behalf of Major Campbell
to ask me to go up to the fort and there receive from him
a satisfactory communication. I was taken up a vaulted
staircase of more than a hundred steps, and past I don't
know how many tiers of batteries, to the parade on the
top of the citadel, on which stood the commandant's house.
This officer, whose duty it would have been to carry out
my execution, was a handsome young man of very pleasant
and distinguished looks. He told me in very good French
that the governor had just received a letter from St. Pierre,
which he hastened to communicate to me. The king's
proctor had sent him word to say that, ever zealous in his
duty to the King of England, he had taken rigorous action
against a foreigner who seemed to be an agent of trouble
and revolution sent from France, but a thorough consideration
of the facts had not justified his suspicions, and he
was assured by people worthy of credence that the foreigner
was only a young officer from Guadeloupe, attracted to
St. Pierre by a love affair. Further, he believed that this
officer might be freely admitted to enjoy such liberty as
his excellency the governor might in his wisdom think fit.
The major said the governor had not yet given orders
concerning me, but would, he felt sure, do what he could
to meet my wishes. indeed, General Drummond having
been announced, and the major having presented me to
his excellency with all the forms of English society, he
received me most cordially and talked to me most pleasantly.
I recall one small thing that struck me. The governor,
whether influenced by a justifiable pride of birth or by
courtesy towards an officer of the Republican army, told
me that on his mother's side he was descended from General
Fairfax, who commanded the troops of the Long Parliament.
At this name, which from my childhood I had
venerated as one of the first of those to attack the ancient
despotism under which the people of Europe groaned,
I rose and saluted respectfully, saying gravely: "My lord,
l hope our age and our country may produce heroes as
illustrious as your glorious ancestor." The general was
much touched by my act of homage, and, advancing, shook
me warmly by the hand. The major also greeted me, .
and I found in my enemies most well-affected friends. A
very unexpected incident interrupted the conversation.
A report was made to the governor that a French brig of
war carrying a flag of truce was lying off the entrance to
the anchorage, and was already beating up between Wood
Pigeon island and Negro Point. She could be seen from
the windows of the house in which we were, and I told the
governor that she was Captain All�gre's vessel, that officer,
in the absence of the naval division, being in command of
the Guadeloupe station.

This officer landed from his gig at the Savana stage,
where the captain of the port received him. He bound his
handkerchief over his eyes, and was led by the windings
of the covered way to the plateau of the fortress. After
saluting the governor, he sprang to welcome me, saying he
would show me I had not been forgotten by my friends.
He announced to the governor that he was commissioned
by the Commissary of the Republic to propose the immediate
exchange between me and an English officer, a prisoner of
war, whom he had on board, and from whom he brought h
a letter. This officer, a nephew of the governor, growing
tired of Dominica, where he was stationed, had gone in a
small boat to take soundings in the anchorage of the Saintes.
Surprised in this work by one of our cutters, he had been
taken to Guadeloupe, very uncertain as to the fate awaiting
him; but to his astonishment he had been well treated,
and his exchange proposed by Victor Hughes to General
Drummond. The latter, as can be imagined, agreed at
once. 1 made him my adieux with every mark of gratitude,
and Major Campbell conducted All�gre and me to the
landing-stage, where the young English officer had just
arrived. A quarter of an hour later I was once more, under
the tricolor on board a French man-of-war. Everyone
wished to hear my story. We sat down to a feast in honor
of my deliverance ; a bowl nearly as big as that of Heidelberg
was filled with punch and emptied in drinking to the glory
of the Republic, the confusion of her enemies, and to the
beauty of the French Creole ladies. We celebrated as
heartily the generosity of the great ladies of St. Pierre
by toasting them in their own excellent wine ; for Lubin,
who had followed me on board, had not left it behind in
the casements, and greatly enjoyed uncorking it.
It was soon time to return to the sterner side of life.
Captain All�gre took me to his cabin to talk to me. He
began by telling me that my military map of the
neighborhood of St. Pierre had fully satisfied General
Hugues, who had counted on putting it to good use ; but
unfortunately, while political factions were fighting in
France, the English had sent troops to the West Indies,
and now their troops were three times the strength of ours.
This superiority enabled them to put down the rising of the
blacks in St. Lucia and Grenada, and to exterminate the
Caribs in St. Vincent. On the last they had landed at least
6,000 men, and Guadeloupe could not send more than a
thousand to help the natives, who, in spite of their
determination, must infallibly be wiped out. I had several
times been called for as necessary to save them, and the
general told All�gre that if I wished to join them I was
to be given the choice of doing so. The captain tried to '
turn me from it, saying it was probably too late for me
to be of any use. Nevertheless, believing as l did that
my honor was involved, 1 insisted on being landed on the
coast of St. Vincent, and the balaon which was following
the brig received orders to take me there with all speed,
that I might land at night. I said good-bye to All�gre,
who was sorry to see me go, and I steered to the south. '

The sea-breeze, which had risen with the moon, carried me
so quickly that two hours before dawn 1 had landed on
the solitary rock on the east coast of St. Vincent. I was
fully armed, and knew thoroughly the road l had to follow,
and had made up my mind quite spontaneously ; still, when
the balaon sailed away I felt sad and uneasy and oppressed
by dark forebodings. True, the total silence round me
contrasted strangely with my joyous and lively reception
some months before at the same place. Now, thought 1,
the whole population is gathered in the mountains to
keep out of reach of the enemy. Thus musing, l followed
along the rocks of the shore a narrow path which led me
to the mouth of the pool where at the time of my first voyage
1 had put in with my schooner. I pushed under the
branches, and stepped slowly and quietly along a track
which led over a flowery meadow up to the huts of the
hamlet close by. I expected every moment that the Carib
hounds would awaken their masters by their barks
announcing the approach of a stranger, but all was quiet,
and I thought they had recognized me as a friend. '

On going forward I discovered a red glow close to the
ground from which sparks rose when fanned by the night
breeze. Alarmed at such a sight, I hurried towards it, and
stumbled over something on the path. l bent down to
look, and found with horror the corpse of a slaughtered
Indian. Pushing on, I found thirty more. sometimes a
warrior, then a woman and child and more often an old
man. The village had been surprised by a body of pitiless
enemies, who had cut down the inhabitants and burnt their
homes. I carefully inspected all the corpses, but could
not recognize any one of them. There being no one left
to enlighten or guide me, I went on towards my mountain
residence under the light of the moon.

I took every precaution to avoid surprise on my way
up the winding path. Not a voice came from the desolated
fields, and the English tired with slaughter, and the natives
terrified by defeat, slept by their arms, waiting for sunrise
to resume the fight. The only sound was the morning song
of the birds welcoming the new day.

As I drew near my former happy home my anxiety nearly
overcame me, and I was obliged to sit down. As far as l
could judge, the enemy had not got so far as this. Every-
thing was as I had left it in my hut ; even the hammock
was stretched, and seemed prepared for me. I sat down
on it to recover my wind, when Eliama's spaniel dashed
up and fawned at my feet in rapturous welcome. He had
escaped from Z�mi's hands, who, hearing his barks of joy, '
followed him. The moment she saw who I was she flung
herself at my knees, embracing them, and sobbing as if her
heart would break. I took her in my arms and tried to
calm her. l hardly dared to question her, fearful of the
horrors she might have to tell. "With whom are you
here?" "No one." "What! You are alone?" "Alone."
"And your master ?" "Killed." "And your mistress?"
"Dead." She had seen the chief fall at the head of his
warriors, struck in the side by a bullet which had killed
him instantaneously. His daughter, wounded several times
in the retreat through the forest, feeling her strength failing,
had sought refuge on the top of the Soufri�re ; she had been
pursued by the negro enemy trackers, and, finding herself
about to fall into their hands, had flung herself into the
great fissure of the volcano. The barbarians, eager not to
lose her, had rushed into the fumes to seize her. and the
child, who was on the rim of the mountain, had never seen
them return. The causes of the defeat of the Caribs were
the knowledge of their defenses as reported to the general
by Captain D-- , the superiority in numbers of the enemy,
the tardy arrival of help from Guadeloupe, and, above all,
the employment by General Abercromby of a battalion
of negroes raised in Martinique and commanded by two
Creoles accustomed to hunting slaves in woods. These
negroes crept at full length through passages believed to
be inaccessible, and, getting in rear of the last military
position, they reached the redoubt, which served as a refuge
for the women and children and a storehouse for munitions
and food. They sacked everything, pitilessly killing the
harmless occupants, pillaging and burning the foodstuffs.
The combatants, hearing of this disaster, lost courage.
The death of their chief left them without a leader. Several
bodies entered into negotiations, and were persuaded to lay
down their arms and were taken to Kingstown.

Others resolved to fight to the last gasp. Major-General
Stuart, who later served with distinction in Egypt, made
them repeated offers ; in exchange for their territory in
St. Vincent he promised them land in a more fertile island.
The natives replied that if the land were so good the
English had better develop it, and leave the Caribs their
ancestral acres. They told the general they would rather
die than exhume the bones of their fathers and carry them
in exile to a foreign land. Having thus resolved, they
concentrated all the surviving warriors and joined the
French, who occupied tactical positions before the Morne
La Vigie. At night, skillfully led by little Zami, I reached
this fortified post, having skirted the enemy's outposts all
day. A glance sufficed to show that we should have to
surrender very soon. Food and discipline were equally
deficient. I should have been on short commons if the
child had not unearthed some potatoes and yams from a
silo and cooked them for me.

The next day I asked permission of the commandant,
Mariner, to dislodge a line of English skirmishers who were
within range of our post. After a vigorous attack the
enemy was obliged to evacuate the positions which he had
taken. The same happened next day, and we thus obtained
several partial successes. But during this time the English
general had driven the Carib population from the mountains,
and taken them to a port, where they were embarked on
the transports that had carried the invading force. These
vessels, employed in movements to and from the Barbados,
were infected with yellow fever, and this terrible disease
carried off a large portion of the Caribs shut in the holds
of vessels before they reached the Island of Roattan, a
desert, uncultivated and half barren, on which the survivors
were abandoned. As to the natives who had rejoined us,
they fought intrepidly beside us up to the last moment.
When they learned that capitulation could be no longer
postponed and that our efforts were unsuccessful, they
resolved to avoid captivity by escaping at night in their war
canoes, which they had hidden in the Siren's Grotto. l
found it hard not to accompany them, as they begged me,
but I was then engaged in the defense of a post which was
regarded as the key of the position, and my furtive departure
would have amounted to desertion. Notwithstanding the
lookout of the English men-of-war, the canoes, with paddles
wrapped in cotton to deaden their sound, set out from
St. Vincent and landed on the coast of the mainland
near Trinidad those unhappy people who had just lost for
ever their dear fatherland.

After striving bravely to prolong a useless resistance,
we were obliged to consider the enemy's terms. They
were honorable, but very hard. Abercromby allowed
us to march out of our badly fortified position with
arms, baggage flags flying, and even with our field-pieces,
which we could not drag as they no longer had any
carriages; but he insisted that we should be prisoners
of war, except in the case of the wounded, who were to be
sent direct to France and counted in the exchange of
prisoners between the two countries. He supported our
acceptance of these proposals by the deployment of six
columns of attack, ready there under our eyes to advance
to the assault. Although it was a foregone conclusion, we
continued to discuss the question, as if we still could choose
between submission or continuing the defense, and the
enemy was most complaisant in answering argument by
argument, when an unforeseen event, and one very
unfortunate for me, suddenly hastened the end. A chief of
the Black Caribs, furious at the prospect of surrender, and
unwilling to fall alive into the hands of the English,
penetrated into the powder magazine and, to ensure his death
in a goodly company, blew it up. I was 50 paces from it,
standing on the rampart, which was raised some 30 feet
above the glacis. The explosion flung me to some distance.
The hail of stones killed most of those who, like me, had
been hurled through the air; l was lucky enough to be
spared by them, but l fell so hard on the rugged rocks
that I coughed up clots of blood and fainted. Dr.
Gilchrist, the chief surgeon of the English force, who had
rushed up to attend to an English officer wounded by the
explosion, found near me little Zami in tears, who begged
him to help me, saying she was sure I was not dead. The
doctor, having found she was right, bled me at once, had
me picked up and sent by sea to Kingstown, describing me
as artillery officer of the French forces. Touched by the
devotion to me shown by little Zami, he gave permission
for her to accompany me. Some hours earlier case of
my death, I had written a few words in French and English
describing the sad lot of the child, and begged any humane
people who could protect her not to refuse their generous
help. This paper, which Zami showed to the doctor,
enabled him to identify me and benefit her.

When l regained consciousness l found myself in a large
room with several English officers, lately wounded. Zami
was beside me. The doctor, who feared ill effects to my
brain, had ordered constant bathing of head and face with
cold water and vinegar. Zami had carried this into effect
with such devotion as to refuse to stop for food or drink,
and the English officers were touched at her devotion.
One of them told me when I was convalescent that he had
never imagined such devotion could be found in human
beings, but had fancied that it was confined to animals,
especially the dogs of his country, who sometimes allowed
themselves to die on the grave in which their master was

As l gradually recovered, the unhappy child grew worse
and worse. She was a prey to consumption, and grew
weaker every day. A ship having been chartered to convey
wounded prisoners to France, Dr. Gilchrist secured a passage
for me in it, and l took leave of this kind man, who promised
that if the young Carib escaped the death which her disease
threatened he would look after her with fatherly care.
The same day, 11th of June, 1796, that we were obliged
to capitulate and hand over to the English the island of
St. Vincent, that last home of the indigenous race of the
West lndies, General Nicholson took Grenada. The
detachment of French troops which held the Maboura Forts
and Goyave Mountain were compelled to surrender, and the
negro Ph�don, at the head of his insurgents, abandoned the
Morne Guano, a post in the Black Forest believed to be
impregnable. The entire colony soon submitted, and that
of St. Lucia having already surrendered to General Ralph
Abercromby, only the islands of Guadeloupe remained to
France as possessions in America.

After a long and monotonous voyage l was landed at
the mouth of the Morlaix River, whence I joined my
demibrigade at Brest. l was welcomed there, but my
commission as lieutenant of artillery was declared to be
invalid, because it had been given me by a commissary of
the Convention, an authority whose acts were violently attacked
by the victorious reactionaries. I was promised the first
vacancy, and was offered the grade of sergeant-major in
command of a company without officers. I obstinately
refused any terms, and asked to resume the humble grade
I was in when last ashore, this grade being at that time the
refuge of young men distinguished by their education and

l should not omit to say that on the day 1 embarked for
France the house of Mel had credited me, by Victor Hugues'
orders, with a year's pay, and in addition a sum as my
share of the captures of Le Vengeur privateer. I made
good use of this fortune. I hired in the Rue de Siam a small
room, and having procured some good books from the
library of the port of Brest, 1 set to work at my studies
with as much ardor as if l had not recently learnt by
experience that in this world to have deserved a place
counts for nothing towards obtaining it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Moreau De Jonnes in the West Indies (1795)(Part 4)


I stayed for three months in my mountain residence, my
friendship with Pakiri becoming mutually stronger every
day. I associated myself in his cares and projects for
victory over the enemy and the safety of his daughter.
As far as my youthful military experience and our in-
different means allowed, l drew up plans for the campaign
which we were impatient to open against our neighbors,
the English colonists of St. Vincent.

Already for a long time had the Caribs adopted the use
of firearms, though from necessity and custom they
continued to use bows, tomahawks, and a cutlass which they
handled very cleverly. I had obtained from Guadeloupe
powder, balls, and some muskets, and l extracted from
the wrecked frigate ten times as much by means of the
Carib swimmers. At the same time, my artillerymen
became instructors, teaching the Caribs to handle their
muskets and to maneuver like our light troops. Success
was prompt and effective. These were no dull peasants,
but active hunters, with a straight eye and sure foot, who
had only to learn how to work together.

They became so good in shooting at the target that l felt
obliged to attribute the cause to the mother of the chief
of the Black Caribs, whose powers of sorcery must have
speeded their rapid progress. Her two granddaughters,
Morning Star and Flower of the Forest, never missed the
target once. Looking on this general training of girls,
armed to defend their homes instead of groaning and calling
on Providence as they do in Europe, 1 could not believe
that the fortune of war would fail so fair and holy a cause.
I had already learnt how, in the West Indian Islands, the
great variations in localities render the study of the theater
of war very difficult, and complicate the operations which
might take place over a very small area. 1 determined to
gain an extensive knowledge of the country, as much for
the purpose of learning the means by which it might most
effectively be defended as for finding bases for the most
advantageous lines of attack on the enemy's territories.

Every day 1 traversed some portion of the island right up
to the frontier of the English colony, taking care to be
accompanied by the most intelligent of the guides. Pakiri
himself came with me to inspect the crest of the mountains
which divided the Carib portion of the island from that
invaded by the English.

A succession of slopes only left openings through a few
passes, which had nearly all been closed by enormous
barricades. The defiles left open were guarded by look-
outs, ready to give the alarm, and by the huge dogs
mentioned in a previous chapter. They had a bad reputation;
when a negro from the huts near their kennels happened
to die of apoplexy it was always said that he had been
strangled by the Carib hounds, and a11 believed it, because
the dogs were quite capable of doing lt. For my own part,
I kept a sharp lookout on them. When l visited the
frontier forests in Eliama's company they ran to couch at
her feet, but in bounding towards her they kept their
pale eyes fixed on me and growled and showed their teeth.
They mistook me for an Englishman, but l do not wish
to forget a service they rendered me.

Eliama took me one morning to the Soufrière mountain.
It was the first volcano I had visited, and 1 was much
interested in its phenomena. This day it was free from
clouds, and St. Lucia, Grenada, and Martinique were clearly
visible from its heights. The large trees which encircled
its base gave place as we ascended to shrubs covered with
lovely flowers, belonging for the most part to the Melastomaceae.
The circular top of the volcano was deeply pitted;
it was a huge basin contained in a border 60 or 7o feet high,
covered with green and flourishing plants. The bottom of
the basin was a rough soil, devoid of vegetation, resounding
underfoot, and cracked by the underground heat like the
earth of a sunburnt marsh.

From a dozen or fifteen fissures rose thick whitish columns
of smoke, tinted like the rainbow. Near the middle of this
great hearth stood up a hill about 100 feet high, the sides
of which were nearly vertical, and unclimbable but for
bushes which had grown on it close up to the top. We
had begun to climb when Eliama stopped and listened.
She had a wonderfully keen sense of hearing, of which her
countrymen said that she could hear a mouse nibbling in
the moon. She leant out from the bushes and showed me
a hunter on the lip of the volcano opposite to us, with
servants and dogs. He was an English officer intent on
sport or a visit to the Soufrière. He did not see us, as we
were behind the hill, and we could forestall his attack by
the carefully aimed lire of our carbines. I aimed at the
officer, and was going to fire, when my companion stopped
me, drew from her belt a long ivory whistle, and blew two
long and piercing calls. The hunters stopped, suspecting
that they had to do with a troop of savages. They were
not far wrong. As they were deliberating, two hounds
from a neighboring post appeared suddenly on the crest
of the crater in answer to the whistle. Directly they saw
the officer's party they recognized them as enemies, and
made for them. In the course of their attack they killed
two or three of the hounds, and rushed on towards their
masters, avoiding the effects of their gunshots by the rapidity
of their dash. The hunters, having no time to reload,
were obliged to fly, and throw themselves pell-mell down
the steep sides of the mountain. On our return home
Eliama sent our useful allies a testimony of the help they
had so promptly and fearlessly rendered to us.

Our preparations for invasion were complete, and we
only awaited the assistance of troops from Guadeloupe,
which had long been promised us, in order to attack the
English colony; but Victor Hugues had several enterprises
in course of action, and ours, in his eyes, was not the most

His delays gave the enemy time to rally and organize
his means of defense, and prepare a strong opposition to
us. The town of Kingstown, the English capital, was
covered by an entrenched camp and defended' by fortified
lines based on the citadel, which was an old castle over-
looked by the surrounding hills, but safe from surprise
through its height and the thickness of its walls. At last
a battalion of infantry reached us, and a dozen privateers
disembarked a portion of their crews to help in the attack.
1 wish 1 could say that the men of this force resembled my
good comrades of Quiberon, who were guided in all their
deeds by love of their country, and whose heroism was
impervious to evil passions. Historical accuracy compels
me to paint in very different colors this gathering of
refractories from the colonial regimental depots, of naval
deserters enlisted by the privateers, of embodied runaway
slaves, and of a general rising of natives, whose ranks were
swollen, like those of ancient Gaul, by wives and daughters
acting as warriors.

It cannot be denied that these natives were the most
civilized part of the army, with the smallest taste for loot,
incendiarism, and destruction. They were better disciplined
than the soldiers, not so fierce as the negroes, and, besides,
not so fond of drink as the sailors. 1 was too much of an
artillery officer not to be disgusted with the disorder and '
license surrounding me, and 1 was glad to receive orders
to proceed on a detached mission.

While the infantry column with the seamen followed the .
coast road, I took the tracks over the mountains,
accompanied by the Red Caribs, in order to take the enemy in
flank and find a good position for my two field-guns.
Everything went as well as 1 could wish. I passed over
the cracks opened in the hills by various earthquakes; I
crossed the Black Forest and the ridges which divided the
native territory from that of the English, and I debouched
on the colonial ground covered by a cloud of skirmishers, '
who swept over my front. Only some dwellings, having
offered resistance, were taken by storm and burnt, either
by accident or in reprisal.

In all the volcanic islands of the great American archipelago
the hills are high lava streams which flowed from
a common center; they branch out and diminish in thickness
as they approach the sea. So, then, in becoming
master of the highest point, one possesses the key to a11 the
positions on and near the coast, dominating them from an
advantageous height, with power to attack from diverging
routes. This explains how l was able to post my artillery
on the fortified flank of the enemy, and open a point-blank
fire which dismounted his guns or made his gunners quit
them. At the same time the column which had moved by
the coast attacked the trenches and scaled them easily,
as the natives had filled in the ditches with fascines. Al1
the works were carried and the defenders, for the most part,
cut to pieces, in consequence of the want of a line of retreat
and their having closed the redoubt at the neck of the
retrenchment. If our troops, following up this great success,
had dashed in pursuit, they would have entered the town
and the citadel itself simultaneously with the pursued; but
the camp offered a good prey to pillagers, and a neighboring
rum distillery attracted the drunkards--that is,
the larger portion of the force. A thousand butts of grog
were tapped be the conquerors, who lay by hundreds on the
ground. Pakiri, seeing not only the impossibility of
continuing the attack, but that we should be wiped out if the
enemy took advantage of our disorder, set a light to the
factory, which blazed up like a bowl of punch. Next
morning our troops turned out very late, marching half
asleep against the enemy. The suburb was easily taken,
and the town would have followed but for an unforeseen
accident. Overnight, on the approach of the privateers, a
corvette in harbor had slipped her moorings, set sail, and
disappeared. During the night she got to windward, and
in the course of the fight returned towards Kingstown,
steering for the twelve Guadeloupe privateers, which were
lying at anchor undefended, as their crews were in the
ranks of the force. Their captains, alarmed by the
threatened danger, recalled them without consideration for
the success of the attack on the town, and, assembling them
on the beach, hurried them into boats and got them quickly
on board. This movement, which was not promptly
noticed, threw the operations into partial disorder and
discouraged the troops. It was mistaken for a retreat,
and gradually produced one which became general. If the
enemy had seen it at once, he might have made a sortie,
which could not have failed to succeed. To hide the
evacuation of the suburb Pakiri set light to the
foremost houses.

The fire spread rapidly, and the curtain of flames and smoke
flung between the combatants allowed our troops to withdraw
before the town recognized what we were doing.
Throughout this day, so different from yesterday, l held
in check the artillery of the citadel, which could have
seriously affected our attack on the town. I had brought
forward my guns along the last spur of a long hill, the
narrow crest of which ran back to the central mountains of
the island. Thence l took in reverse part of the defenses
of the castle, and I had only to fear a battlemented cavalier
with an elevation superior to that of my battery.
1 succeeded in stopping its fire, and l prevented the other
works, which I dominated, from firing on our troops when
they occupied the suburb and were attacking the town.
I had with me a detachment, in order to support me and
oppose any attempt of the enemy to cut me off in my
advanced position. But when the suburb was taken every
man of it, wishing to have his share of the spoil, rushed
down the hill to be first at the quarry, and I was left there
alone. From the height on which 1 was posted 1 saw
develop below me, one after another, all the misfortunes
which destroyed my hopes and led my friends to ruin.
When retreat became a rout, and the enemy poured out of
all the posterns in columns formed to pursue our troops,
I thought it was time to be off. 1 could hardly hope to
save my guns, my worn-out gunners alone being left to
drag them to the mountains, which were steeply scarped
in many places. Nevertheless, we started, and climbed,
perhaps, half a league along the crest of a ridge which
descended in cliffs on which grew rope-like creepers, hiding
the cliffs. While halted, several Caribs passed close by
us; I wanted to stop them, but 'they declined, and told me
things which showed me the extent of our disaster and
made me decide to throw one of my guns into the ravine.
Just as I had made this sacrifice a young Black Carib
came towards me, evidently, from the long red feather on
his head, a chief of the tribe. This warrior, who carried a
tomahawk in a bandolier and a carbine, was none other
than Flower of the Forest, daughter of the chief of the
Black tribe. Directly she was near enough to make herself
heard she warned us that we were cut off, and must get
away at once; my gunners did not wait to be told twice.
Not believing the danger to be so pressing, 1 waited for her
to join me. "I thought," said she, "that in the turmoil
no one would warn you of the retreat, and set out at once
to do so. It was well 1 did so, as on the way I have seen
a strong body of negroes move by a crest behind you to
surprise you. Look out ! there they are!" There suddenly
appeared above the thickets daubed faces and muskets
being lowered in aim at me. But at the same instant the
girl seized me firmly by the arm and flung herself from the
top of the cliff, dragging me with her into the ravine, which
lay below us to a depth of 600 feet. The balls from the
muskets of the enemy whistled over our heads, and when
they were able to fire another round our precipitous descent
had carried us at one drop to such a distance that, with
the shelter of the hanging creepers, we were out of danger.
However, in order to put the negroes of a11 idea of pursuit,
my companion, after a short breathing-space, threw herself
once more downwards, and we repeated this terrible effort
ten times. We should without doubt have been dashed to
pieces on the rocks had they not been covered with a carpet
of bushes, and we should have fallen in one drop, as from
a high tower, but for a network of hanging plants and
branches which broke our fall. By marvelous good luck
we arrived at the foot of the cliff on a pretty lawn of flowery
plants, with no more hurt than a few scratches; but this
method of quick travel had so tired my lungs that for some
time I hardly felt sure that l was still in this world. As
for Flower of the Forest, she found the game so amusing
that she roared with laughter, and said I was her prisoner.
More seriously, she made herself neat again, and set about
finding a way out of the ravine in which we were enclosed
by two mountainous walls. If we descended we should
approach the enemy's post and fall into their power. If,
on the other hand, we ascended, it became harder each
step to get out, as the sides grew steeper and closer together
the farther it penetrated into the volcanic mass of the
center of the island. The bed of the ravine at that time
was nearly dry and we could move along it in spite of the
huge basaltic blocks lying in it. But the torrent which
had rolled them down might at any moment overwhelm us
like an avalanche; were a storm cloud to burst in the
mountains, its flood-waters would drown us. '

The immediate danger came from another cause. The negro soldiers
from whom we had escaped, being unable to follow us,
hailed a troop of comrades marching along the opposite
top of the ravine, and denounced us to them as chiefs
whom it was important to capture. Having found a path,
they climbed down, and we were obliged to seek shelter
in the part farthest from the bed of the torrent. The
enclosure in which we took refuge was shut in on a11 sides
by cliffs on which the skies seemed to rest, and as vertical
as immense walls. We had only escaped from the bullets
to fall into a trap where, before being killed, we were to
undergo ignominious and barbaric treatment. 1 was roused
from thoughts of these horrors by Flower of the Forest,
who had gone on a little in front, and returned to say that
there was a cave near which might serve as a refuge in
a last extremity. It was the bottom of an immense fissure
which pierced the mountain. Overnight, in marching with
my guns, I had seen this fissure, which was as broad as the
ditches of our fields, and had been told that a 200 fathom
line could not sound its depth, and that it divided the whole
mass of the mountain; we had crossed it by a flying bridge.
There were mysterious traditions concerning it, and Flower
of the Forest was afraid to enter the cave. I persuaded
her to follow me, and we took up a position ready to fire
with certainty should occasion require. We had not long
to wait. The negroes ran up to the cave's mouth, were
afraid to enter, and tried to reach us with promiscuous fire;
our shots, on the contrary, picked off their leaders, who
fell dead or wounded. On this the troop withdrew under
cover and awaited nightfall, which was approaching. This
would be more advantageous to them, and so it proved ;
for as the girl in a low voice was telling me the story of the
evil spirits said to haunt the cave, she stopped, and struck
a vigorous blow with her tomahawk; luckily she had seen
in the darkness below us the glitter of an eye. A piercing
cry and a heavy fall told us that a negro had been bold
enough to crawl after us and had met his fate.

This episode showed me the imprudence of remaining
any longer in the outer cave; we withdrew into the narrow
entry, the soil of which was 2 or 3 feet higher and less
accessible. From this asylum we could hear the movements
of the enemy, who now seemed more numerous and strangely
busy. We waited a long time, anxious to discover the
plan of which we were to be the victims. At length it
showed itself ; a reddish light, which increased rapidly, lit
up the opening of the cave. It came from a large tub,
whence flaming firebrands rolled to our feet. Unless there
was an explosion l could not see how we were to be hurt
by this. My uncertainty was soon dispelled. A large
bundle of faggots of the green Sterculia fetida were thrown
on the fire and half extinguished it; from it rose a blue
smoke, thick and irritating beyond expression. We were
suffocated and seized with violent coughing. To escape
from this scourge we hurried down the passage of the cave,
compelled to go farther as the smoke followed us. I
besought Flower of the Forest to conquer her superstitions
and show the same boldness as in the battles of the morning
and evening; I assured her that no evil spirits lived here,
and that none could have any power over me nor over her,
as she was under my care. l do not know whether she
believed me, but, trembling with fright, she said she would
follow me, as our lives were bound together. We started; '
the difficulties of the road were many; for the greater part
the passage was so narrow that we could only go singly
and at times squeeze through sideways. When the sides
opened out and formed chambers there was the danger of
losing the direction of the fissure. The ground underfoot
was strewn with blocks of lava, which had to be felt out
with the bayonets of our muskets. After going for some
time without seeing any supernatural apparition my comrade
was reassured, and offered to go in front. I must
confess she was much the better guide, and much quicker in
feeling with her bayonet the obstacles in the path ; but she
often stopped, frightened by some imagined noise or

At length, hungry and tired out, we sat down on a mound
of sand and fell fast asleep. When we awoke our spirits
were calmer and bodies less wearied. We resumed our
walk with more hope, and were encouraged by the difficulties
becoming less. Presently Flower of the Forest said she
heard waves breaking, and a moment later declared she
saw the light of day ahead. l had to take her word for it,
as I neither heard nor saw anything. She was right, how-
ever, as on rounding a corner we saw through an arched
opening a distant view of green country the noise was that
of a stream about 4o feet wide falling into a basin which
filled the mouth of the fissure. The water in it was boiling
and gave of a cloud of steam, which seemed unable to
rise. It was too broad to leap across, and we were in
despair at thus being cut of from safety after escaping so
many dangers. In my misery l stooped and put my hand
in the huge caldron. To my surprise, the water was only
pleasantly warm ; its trouble was in the vapor. I breathed
it in stooping, and was seized with violent sneezing and
a racking cough. l saw there was nothing for it but to
warn my companion to hold her breath, and dragged her
into the basin. We were not obliged to swim. No doubt
the girl must have forgotten my advice and taken a breath.
1 felt her weaken and, seizing her in my arms, 1 managed
to carry her across, crawl over the. edge of the basin, and
lay her senseless on the grass outside the mouth of the cave.
Feeling myself in danger of fainting, I had just time to
load and fire of my musket before I fainted beside her.
When l came to l was being rolled on a mat from side to
side by half a dozen Carib women, under the direction of
a sailor who douched me alternately with warm and cold
water. This treatment had proved successful with my
companion, who had been carried to her father's lodge as
soon as she was sufficiently revived. It took me longer,
and I was still only partially recovered when Pakiri and
his daughter came to take me back to my mountain home,
where I slowly regained strength. I only saw Flower of the
Forest once again, for on the evening of the day that
I did so I was recalled by order of Victor Hugues to
Guadeloupe. He was furious at the check before Kingstown, and
counted on my help in punishing all those he found
responsible for 1t.

Moreau De Jonnes in the West Indies (1795)(Part 3)


The next morning, on my descent from the mountain, 1
found all trace of cultivation swept away, hamlets beaten
down, and whole families of Caribs, who the day before had
been surrounded by prosperity and abundance, now seated
on the flooded earth without food or hope of obtaining any.
The chiefs were assembled in council, and Pakiri called me
to him and asked how the white man's superior intelligence
could be used to avert famine.

l at once wrote a note to General Hugues, begging him
to send help to the starving Caribs; without it,
notwithstanding their hate of the English, there was no
course open other than to throw themselves on their mercy. l
felt so sure of the effect that this suggestion would have
on the proconsul that I did not hesitate to promise the
council very prompt help, provided my letter were sent
immediately to Guadeloupe.

It was of no use to appeal to St. Lucia for help, as it
was as badly devastated as St. Vincent, and required all
that could be provided for its own inhabitants.
In the midst of this disaster a little was gained from the
peculiarities of two food plants. A1l the harvest exposed
to the violence of the storm had perished, and no trace
remained of fields of maize or banana plantations. But the
edible roots manioc and yam, being underground, had
escaped, though their stems had all been cut of level with
the soil. They were found buried under the débris washed
down from the mountains, and would assure a meagre
subsistence to the population until help came.

It was decided to take silver recovered from a wrecked
Spanish galleon, and long kept hidden in a mountain cave,
to pay for provisions from Trinidad, a Spanish island near
the American continent abundantly furnished with the foods .
of all sorts, and at a low price, now required by St. Vincent.
A war canoe manned by sixty rowers was quickly fitted
out, and Pakiri himself took charge of this important
mission. He and the other chiefs begged me also to go,
both to help in overcoming any difficulties that might
arise and, if necessary, to employ the powerful name of the
general by whom I was commissioned as representative to
an ally of France.

The uncertain life of a soldier or sailor makes him a
ready believer in presentiments. I have known many
clever and hearty people who were obsessed by this belief :
Admiral Villaret, General Hoche, and Marshal Gouvion
St. Cyr. My early education set me against them. Still, l
was surprised when all was settled eventually to find how
coldly l looked forward to this expedition. There must
have been some warning of i11 which was not clear to me.
I Welded to the arguments raised, and sacrificed my
instinctive repugnance to motives whose power over me
would be just as strong to-day.

My love of travel awoke as our voyage displayed the
chain of islands extended to the south as far as the continent
of the New World. But when in order to sail the canoe
heeled over to the wind, and l could only see land in the
distance, l wrapped myself in my cloak and went to sleep
on a mat.

l as awoke by the cries of the Caribs, who hailed with
joy their ancient fatherland, the continent of America.
Our canoe had covered more than forty leagues in ten ,
Land stretched in front of us from east to west, the coast
of the lovely province of Venezuela. The northern shores
of the Island of Trinidad prolonged to the east to line
of continental territory. It As separated from the mainland
by the narrow channel of the Dragon's Mouth, through
which pours a swift and troubled current strewn with '
rocks. My fellow-travelers had need of all their skill.
strength, and experience to enable them to clear this
dangerous passage.

Ai length we entered the Gulf of Paria, which lies between
Trinidad and the continental coasts of Cumana. The
waters of the sea mingle with those of the Orinoco. It is
this river current which pours through the Dragon's Mouth,
and in meeting the sea raises a constant eddy or raging

As soon as we had doubled the promontory of Trinidad,
which closes the Gulf of Paria to the north, we found the
island stretched before us. It is most lovely; a girdle of
low ground fringes the shore, above rises an amphitheater
of hard-wood forest trees, acacia, mahogany, and a thousand
other valuable kinds. The tops of the mountains are
crowned with peaks formed by ancient volcanoes, to which
the island owes its origin. The highest and doubtless the
most recently active is named Tamana. It was then free
from clouds, and I could clearly see rising from its summit
a high column of smoke, a sure sign that the extinction of
its fires was not as complete as the inhabitants averred.
This phenomenon aroused my interest greatly, and I wished
that Pakiri could have satisfied my questions; but I only
obtained from him tales as senseless as those of the ancient
Greeks concerning Mount Etna and the island of Lemnos.
It is strange that men separated through all ages have been
lulled with the same tales. While yet my eyes were fixed
on the columns of smoke from Tamana, I remarked with
astonishment that its height, at first prodigious, was lessen-
ing by degrees. A few minutes later this magnificent
spectacle had vanished. "That is a bad sign" said Pakiri
gravely to me. This did not influence me as it should have
done, since, owing to his solicitude for his people, Pakiri had
regarded as an omen everything we had seen on the voyage.

At this time the Island of Trinidad was still in the same
wild state as on the day of its discovery, though Spanish
colonization dated back four centuries. The alluvial soil
on the western shores had no inhabitants but herds of wild
cattle. The herdsmen who rode among them with couched
lances lived in barn-like huts which afforded but little
shelter, and civilization was As far from them as it was
4,000 years ago from Abraham's shepherds. It was only
when we had passed the Coloras Isles that we found
cultivation and houses. We were near the end of our voyage.

Before us lay Port of Spain, whose buildings looked all like
churches, to judge by the number of bells hung on them.
A large tower and some badly armed batteries formed its
defenses. On the left, behind a group of islands which
served as a breakwater, could be seen the famous harbor
of the Careening Bay, where formerly lay the galleys of the
Conquistadors of America. As our canoe was able to
go anywhere, we went on to the upper end of the harbor
near the mouth of the river and found ourselves at the
landing-stage, in daily use by the canoes of the natives
of Guiana and Venezuela. Pakiri, who knew the place,
was soon in touch with agents ; he easily arranged to freight
several schooners, and bought cargoes of foodstuffs with .
which to load them at once. But he was worried with one
gmat anxiety. The fear of incurring the displeasure of the
English and of getting into trouble with their cruisers
might stop the Spanish authorities from granting permission
to export from the colony foodstuffs destined for
allies of France.

In his anxiety Pakiri determined to call as intermediary,
an old French doctor, long established in Trinidad, where
by his practice he had acquired wealth and consideration.
Some services rendered to him by the Caribs gave cause to
hope that he would assist them now. I offered to go and
help in this important negotiation.

To find his house we had to traverse most of the town,
Its aspect was very different from those in French and
English colonies. Beyond the port, where the mercantile
and marine bustle recalled the more important St. Pierre
of Martinique, all was deserted and silent. The houses,
turned their backs on to the street, as in cities of the East,
and their rare openings consisted of long barred windows,
which lit the rooms so badly that nothing could be
distinguished inside them. Badly built walls stood on each
side of many streets, only broken by the porch of a church,
the grille of a monastery, or the entry to a cemetery. There
was no one from whom to ask the way. At last we reached
the doctor's house, one of the brightest in the town. A
crowd of servants ran to watch us with impertinent
curiosity. 1 was put out by this reception and exasperated
by the answer of a fat mulatto woman, bursting with
arrogance, who said her master could receive no one, as
he was taking his siesta. "Go and tell him," said I, "that
the doctor of General Hugues has come from Guadeloupe
to see him, and remember that 1 am not one who likes
to be kept waiting." The mulatto, hearing the name of
the proconsul, thought she saw the advanced guard of those
terrible privateers whose deeds recalled those of the pirates;
she ran to find her master, who in his turn appeared in
such a hurry that he had no time to put on his wig
or his dressing-gown. He was a small, ruddy old man,
stout, active, and full of vigor. He greeted me
affectionately, and congratulated me on being charged with
the precious care of a personage so famous in the West
Indies by the boldness and success of his undertakings.

l was beginning to say that I was not his doctor, but
one of his Staff officers, when my companion, in fear for
the grave interests involved in our mission that the doctor
would be put off by my declaration, interrupted me,
explaining the object of our visit. I joined in his prayer
to the doctor to use his influence on behalf of the Caribs.
Directly we had explained their sad state, the doctor
dressed himself in his official uniform and went to find the
governor. On his return he gave Pakiri three permits
allowing the schooners to sail ; following the custom of the
country, he had helped on their issue by pressing some
doubloons into the hand of his excellency's secretary,
and he had got the governor himself to sign them while
giving him advice on an attack of gout from which he was
suffering. If by bad luck we had been dealt with by the
second commandant, all would have been lost, as, said he,
that official was more English than the Governor of

Pakiri filled with joy, ran off to dispatch his convoy,
refusing to wait for the splendid dinner just being served,
leaving me as a pledge of the recognition that he and his
country owed to the good doctor. He arranged a meeting-
place for our departure next morning, and entrusted me
to the care of a young Carib whose intelligence and bravery
were well known to him. The meal, improvised as it was,
was worthy of a doctor receiving 100,000 francs from his
clients and as much more from his property. "The
Seigneur des Isles," as he called Victor Hugues, "is far"
said I, "from living so magnificently even in the best of
times." A greenhouse, next door to the doctor's study,
protected a collection of the most beautiful plants of the
tropics, not against cold, but against excessive heat. I
recognized and named each by their Linnaean titles,
specifying for most of them their medical properties. "Ah!"
cried the old doctor, "how happy are you young people
to have lived in an age when science has so extended her
limits!" Then he told me that some months previously
an Irish adventurer had appeared at Port of Spain
professing to be a doctor of the new school, and curing
without fail all diseases by chemistry, electricity, magnetism,
cupping, and many other means, the equipment for
which had plunged the old doctor in stupefaction. This
was not all; the new-comer had accused my old host of
want of skill, and tackled his patients with such boldness
that he gained successes. In this sad state of things my
poor friend thought of a plan the success of which seemed
sure to him. "Renounce," said he, "your service, which is
honorable enough, but will never bring you a fortune.
Come here and share my practice and house with me ; we
shall have the monopoly of treating the whole colony, and
they will come from Caracas and Cumana to consult us,
like the oracle of Cos of old. With the advantages of your
modern science and activity, joined to my old experience
and established reputation, we need fear no rival, and will
drive away this Irish intruder."

Reflecting that this Eldorado promised me at Trinidad
was near to that discovered by Sir Walter Raleigh of
romantic memory, I was unable to check a smile of in-
credulity. "I can see," said the doctor, "that you credit
this country with European habits of meanness. Believe
me, that here no gentleman would disturb a doctor such
as you or me without tendering quadruple or at least double
fees for the shortest visit. Every evening in the good season
I put a thousand francs in my desk, whilst at home l had
difficulty in making half a crown. Money without estimation
would be little ; but in this respect I will let you see
with your own eyes how high a position we can reach by
means of our kindly offices among the most noble and
powerful people. The welcome you will receive under my
auspices will make you wish to return and help me." Then,
with the avowed intention of seducing me, the old doctor
proposed that 1 should accompany him in his visits to some
of the best society in Port of Spain. 1 agreed, and was
furnished with a rich costume, with my black hair curled
and powdered in true doctor's fashion.

With a small hat under my arm and a gold-headed cane
in my hand, 1 set forth with the old doctor, now delighted
at the prospect of our future partnership, and rubbing his
hands over the discomfiture of the charlatan who had dared
to set up in rivalry of him. We visited many people of
title, who received the doctor with marked distinction, and
invited us to parties, family gatherings, or religious
ceremonies. We excused ourselves in general terms, and at
last reached the convent of the Benedictine Ladies of the
Annunciation, where we were to finish our busy evening.

Outside, the day had become most oppressively hot, but
on entering the convent vaults we found it deliciously fresh.
The doctor having announced his arrival in Oriental fashion,
we were introduced with grand ceremony. A1l the convent
was assembled in a large hall. The abbess was seated under
a canopy, and the ladies of honor occupied lower places
on the stages of the platform on which she was enthroned.
To right and left were the nuns, dressed in white with black
veils reaching to the ground; then the novices all in white,
and the pupils in ordinary dress. We were brought up to
offer our respects to the abbess, and, whilst the doctor
talked to her, a lady who spoke French fluently asked me
about Guadeloupe, where she had friends. Our conversation
was interrupted by a message from the abbess asking
us to tea that and the following evenings. The message
was brought by a pretty novice. l replied that 1 was sorry
so charming an invitation could not be accepted, owing to
my departure the next morning. A minute later we passed
into a saloon worthy of a palace, at one end of which played
a fountain of cool water, fed from a spring in the mountains
some way from the town. A meal of a thousand dainties,
the secret of which was known only in the convent, was
served by young novices. After it I was allowed to witness
the novices and pupils at their evening work, and was
shown specimens of their skill in lace, embroidery, or needle-
work pictures. Finally, I was asked to advise on their
illnesses, and agreed very unwillingly. In this way many
real and imaginary sick came to consult me; l found the
latter the more difficult. Presently, however, a strange
noise set all the party in a flutter. There was a large
aviary in the cloister ; the birds in it had suddenly woke
up, and were making deafening calls. At almost the same
moment arose a concert of sharp, piercing cries, and a
long column of parrots, parakeets, cockatoos, and other
birds unknown to me, entered the saloon. A11 of them
had quitted their perches and come to seek their mistresses,
calling out their deafening cries, flapping their wings, and
threatening with their beaks the servants who tried to stop
them. This invasion could only be repelled by their
mistresses tempting them with cakes and taking them back
to their perches. I doubted very much the explanation
that they had been scared by vultures that had come down
from the mountains, especially when I heard it had not
previously happened. My doubts were increased by
another outbreak of tumult in the cloisters, and a crowd
of mulatto women and half-castes, who acted as lady's-
maids, rushed into the saloon shrieking with fear. Behind
them entered slowly a hideous monster, an alligator more
than 10 feet long. He lashed his long tail, knocking over
the marble ornaments, but neither attacked nor followed
anyone, and seemed dazzled by the light. There was
hardly time to take much notice of him, as the gardener,
a sturdy negro, ran up and lassoed him round the body.
He was given a chicken and leg of mutton, and allowed
himself to be led away. I then learnt that, through the
old doctor's kindness, the beast had been placed in the
garden when quite young and small to kill the bull frogs,
which had filled the air with their raucous cries, rendering
sleep impossible. He had successfully accomplished this,
and ever after had received in his pond a daily pittance
from the kitchen. Only once before, when his meal had
been forgotten, had he come out of his pond.

The party was nearly at an end, and I was about to take
leave of these kindly Spanish ladies, when suddenly the
spouting waters of the fountain ceased to flow. The mouths
from which they issued began to snort like the tubes of an
organ. Very soon a pestiferous sulphur vapor spread
through the saloon and dimmed the lights. In the midst
of cries, tears, and prayers I gained the door with the rest,
and found in the parlor the young Carib whom the chief
had ordered to accompany me. We reached my lodgings
at the doctor's house without further adventure. l
quickly threw off my borrowed plumes and washed the
powder out of my hair. I resumed my sea-going kit,
prepared my arms, and flung myself on my bed, whilst
my companion stretched himself on a mat. We had only
four hours to sleep, but slept five, and day was breaking
as we left the house ; at the moment we should have been
with Pakiri in order to start. As 1 passed the convent
square 1 heard religious chants rising under the roofs of
its church, and wishing to see these poor recluses for the
last time, 1 turned into the nave. As they passed beyond
the grating in procession in order to leave, I recognized
several sisters and novice acquaintances of overnight, and
saw by an occasional sign that, though l had changed my
dress, recognition was mutual.

Suddenly the bells of the main tower of the convent
began to clash, and rang as if for a funeral or an alarm.
A bronze lamp hung by a chain from the roof of the church
began to swing of its own accord, like a pendulum. A
distant noise, rapidly approaching, sounded like the roar
of a rising tide; but when these strange sound: arose from
beneath our feet the noise was more like that of the artillery
of an army rolling over the cobbles of a city. "All is
lost!" cried Baribarou, my young Carib, and his sinister
prophecy, though half unintelligible, was fulfilled almost
as soon as made.

The earth shook so violently that we were nearly thrown
down; we lost our foothold as in the pitching of a ship, '
and everything round us quivered, even the massive grating
of the choir, to which we clung to save ourselves from
falling. From behind this funeral screen we saw the
hideous destruction of every one of the young sisters and
pupils. They were crushed by the fall of the roof . The
arch of the transept over our heads lasted only a few seconds
longer, and we were knocked over by a hail of carved
stones. Baribarou picked himself up, and dragged me
beneath the arches of a side chapel which withstood the
frequent earth-shocks. l do not know how we reached the
door. I only know that on getting out on to the square we
sat there bewildered, shaken, bruised, and nearly deprived of '
our senses. Here, owing to the distance of the falling houses,
there was some safety, and hither crowded all the unhappy
people who had escaped from the ruins. Their troubles
were increased by the escape of prisoners and slaves from
gaol, who robbed them of the money and jewels they had
tried to save. Not only men, but beasts, added to the
disaster ; a successful toreador had recently arrived from
Caracas with a herd of bulls ; these, escaping owing to the
fall of the walls of their pens, rushed through the town,
trampling on many who thought they had escaped from
danger; we heard the roar of the bulls as they rushed across
the end of the square.

We reached the port with difficulty. Pakiri received us
with open arms, took us on board the canoe, and we started
at once. I did not feel myself safe from the fatal influences
of the island until the canoe rocked on the waves of the
Gulf of Paria. As soon as 1 was sufficiently recovered,
Pakiri told me that, thanks to the doctor's permits,
the three schooners had passed the customs and set
sail at night. On the first shock being felt on the quay,
he had made every man take his place on board; this
measure had saved the canoe from the ill-effects of the
earthquake on the waters of the port. Twice had the sea
ebbed out of sight, leaving vessels high and dry, but it
had returned with a rush, and had filled and turned over
every vessel which was not properly prepared. The canoe,
manned by its oarsmen, had suffered no harm.

When on landing at St. Vincent I found the island re-
victualed by our successful expedition and its population
happy and conscious of delivery from famine, 1 experienced
a feeling of satisfaction at having taken part in effecting
this happy change. The schooners had arrived safely ; the
islanders could quietly wait for the harvest, which the
quickly ripening maize promised them in forty days, and
they need dread no other scourge than war, nor other enemy
than the English.

Moreau De Jonnes in the West Indies (1795)(Part 2)

A. Moreau De Jonnes--Adventures in Wars

All was lost in the West lndies. The ascendancy of
England had prevailed over that of France. Our colonies
of Martinique, St. Lucia, and Guadeloupe had been captured,
and there remained to us not a single rock from which to
display the tricolor. In the midst of this sad state of
affairs Victor Hugues, Commissary of the Convention, '
arrived. He was a man of indifferent appearance, of a
vulgar manner, and badly educated, but with a mind full
of resource and character full of energy and audacity. He
struggled against the enemy with a skill, courage, and good
luck possessed by none before or after him.

Having set out from France to relieve Guadeloupe, he
learnt on making landfall that the island capitulated a
fortnight earlier. instead of turning back, as others had
done in similar cases, he led his expedition to the port of
Moule, situated to windward of Grande Terre, which had
never been regarded as a landing-place, and therefore was
weakly defended. He quickly led his troops across the
island, and carried by assault the fort Fleur-d'Epée, which
covers the town of Pointe-à-pitre. Fort St. Louis was
evacuated by the English commander, as it was overlooked
by the other citadel and unable to offer resistance. This
officer concentrated his troops on La Basse Terre, a mountainous
volcanic island separated from La Grande Terre
by a narrow channel. By this bold action Victor Hugues
found himself master of the greater part of the colony and
of its chief town and principal commercial harbor. The
enemy, learning that he had effected this smart military
operation with a handful of stalwarts, brought in two
frigates and some transports, resolved to retake the place.
On the dark night of the end if July Admiral Jervis steered
to Pointe-à-pitre ships carrying troops, which he succeeded
in quietly landing on a deserted part of the inner harbor.

The English soldiers formed m mass of closed platoons
and entered the town which was undefended on the land
side. Two small posts en route were seized and silenced.
The column penetrated to the heart of the city, and feeling .
sure of victory, with arms at the support and at a walk,
entered the main street in order to seize the fort at its .
extremity opposite the church. This post consisted only
of a circular battery of heavy guns placed on a small hill
scarped round half its circumference, badly designed and
poorly defended by a garrison sound asleep among the
guns. It was two o'clock in the morning when a young
Carib girl with flying hair and a musket on her shoulder
rushed into the battery shouting, "Stand to arms! The
enemy is in the town!" At the same time she dashed at
the gun which enfiladed the main street, threw back the
plate covering the priming, and lit it by firing her piece
into it. The 24-pound shot struck the head of the English
column, and tore down its whole length with terrible effect
The gunners, aroused be the report, Dashed to their own
pieces, and carried on a lively fire from the battery, jealous
of the example set by the young heroine. The enemy.
staggered at his losses, fell back in disorder, leaving behind
him dead and wounded to the number of 1000 ; meanwhile
the reserves and most of the inhabitants of the town had
time to occupy the side streets and to pour a deadly fire
into the flanks of the column. The English troops which
escaped the artillery and musketry fire had great difficulty
in regaining their ships, after loss of their best troops and
of the military reputation acquired by their easy successes.
Victor Hugues, becoming thus possessed of the Isle of
Grande Terre, sought out the enemy in Guadeloupe proper,
where he was concentrated. In the early days of October
the camp of Barville, where General Graham was entrenched,
was briskly attacked- by our troops and forced to capitulate.
Its commander and thirty-two officers and six
ensigns were taken and sent to France by the Andromache
frigate. The whole island was soon restored to France
through capture of the other English posts, and the
Commissary of the Convention had the glory of reconquering
an important colony with a force inferior by half to that '
over which it triumphed.

Directly his authority was established, he turned his
thoughts towards the English West lndies, seeking to
prevent them from attacking by a vigorous offensive. With
this object, in the first place he made use of privateers,
who increased in numbers under his encouragement, and
became a scourge to the commerce and provisioning of
enemy establishments. Further, he took advantage of the
national hatred that the Caribs bore to the English, and the
aggressive schemes that they cherished against the colonists
of St. Vincent, their neighbors and despoilers. In the
midst of these occurrences I arrived at Pointe-à-pitre. A
rich shipowner, M. Mei, the consignee of the privateer
Le Vengeur, awaited the arrival of the schooner and received
me as a friend. The same evening he presented me to
the proconsul, who asked me a thousand questions about
St. Vincent. No doubt my answers satisfied him, for the
next day, under powers held by him from the Convention, he
appointed me lieutenant of marine artillery. Twenty-four
hours later 1 had received my instructions. My schooner
was laden with munitions of war; two 4-pounder guns were
embarked on the Carib dug-outs, and I set sail with ten
marine gunners, to be followed by a whole company. I
was given as pilot a savage, who brought with him another
for passage to Martinique. 1 did not want to take the
latter, as it seemed a risk to let him go on an island which
was headquarters of both land and sea forces of the English ;
but the pilot assured me, as seriously as if he had been a
sailor from the Gironde, that with a craft such as mine ;
and such a guide as himself we could pass with impunity
within gunshot of an English three-decker. 1 was not
entirely convinced as to the truth of this assertion. A11
the same, I agreed to receive the passenger. He was an
old man, still active and strong. He spoke French with
intelligence, and throughout the voyage he never stopped
telling me about men and things he had seen. He loved .
above everything his own Island of St. Vincent, the pearl
of the Antilles. as he said, and told me of its five wonders:
The Black Forest at the foot of the highest volcano, which
one cannot traverse without being terrified by weird apparitions
; the Lake, in which dwell the Spirits of the waters;
the Dragon with a huge emerald in his head; the siren or
mermaid Balane, as beautiful to look on as she is dangerous
to know; finally, the Cavern of Death. These same fables
circulate round the world, or more probably have an
independent origin everywhere in the spontaneous imaginations
of diverse races of man. When I tried to find out what the
old man was going to do in an enemy island he displayed
a nebulous vagueness. I was led to believe that he was
charged with a difficult political mission when he explained
to me how custom forbade servants to talk about their
masters, and particularly about the ladies of their family;
but as affection and devotion delight in praise of the objects
of their worship, as he knew of the friendship which the
chief of the Red tribe felt for me, he could not desist from
singing the praises of the chief's daughter. Her fame was
already known to me as the heroine of Victory Hill, the
savior of the town of Pointe-à-pitre. She had rendered
many such services to the inhabitants of Guadeloupe and
Martinique. She often visited the latter isle, where she
had been brought up in the nunnery at St. Pierre. Her
only brother had died in a fight with the English, and, her
mother being dead, she was the only object of love and
consolation left to her father. Compelled to recognize the
superiority of white men the Red chief wished his daughter
to grasp their ideas in order to use them for the good and
safety of his race. This plan had succeeded completely.
Education had grafted its powerful advantages on to the
strong qualities of a savage nature, and the Caribs recognized
that she had as much wisdom in the councils of the
Grand Lodge as she had bravery and skill in war.

Her name was Eliama, which signifies rainbow. Strange
that the natural phenomenon denoted by this word signifies,
alike to Carib and ancient Jew, the hope of a better time.
The old man had been her servant, and I landed him at the
Foot of the Maconba steps. They are cut out of the solid
volcanic rock which lines the coast, and form a convenient
and ingeniously constructed landing-stage. The schooner
put to sea again, and instead of holding her course, passing
to windward of the islands, at daybreak she entered under
full sail into the channel leading between Dominica and
Martinique to the Equatorial Ocean. At first she kept along
the steep coasts of the latter, but passed well outside the
harbors of St. Pierre and Fort Royal, where I could
distinguish the tall masts of English men-of-war. We were
not disturbed, the lookouts having signaled us, thanks to
our flag, as a St. Vincent sloop. l steered without any
mishap for the Cabesterre, and soon found myself in the
haven, surrounded by my friendly Caribs, who were delighted
to See me.

At night 1 landed the munitions and had them carried to
a cave easy of access. In the morning the two field-guns
arrived, and 1 was ready for the signal to march against
the enemy. My departure was delayed by causes which
postponed the opening of the campaign for many months.
It was then mid-winter, the season of storms. The harbor
where the schooner lay was infested by mosquitoes, and
the air was very stagnant. The grand chief Pakiri, attentive
to our comfort, gave me for my gunners a fresh and breezy
cave, and for myself a hut near his dwelling in the low hills.
It was a lovely spot, surrounded by bright flowers, watered
by a stream, and had been the residence of his daughter.

I was not alone ; at the end of my conference with the
Red and Black Caribs I found I had for company a little
girl of ten and a spaniel. When 1 wished to know who she
was she answered in good French that she was lady's-maid
to Mademoiselle. Her name was Zami, and she had spent
a year at the convent of St. Pierre with Eliama. Early
in the morning of the 4th of September I saw the faithful
dog run in. It was very much frightened, and tried to
hide in my clothes. Zami, who followed him, said that as
usual he had been waiting for his mistress on the beach;
but after sniffing as if to find out if she were coming, he
had suddenly taken fright and run away. 1 asked if he
could have seen anything in the sea to produce this effect.
The child had seen nothing, except that the water of the
port seemed higher and rougher than usual, although the
weather was perfectly calm. Without attaching much
importance to this event, I followed my habit of neglecting
nothing, and went off to the chief . I found him on an
isolated hillock some way from his abode. He was trying
a weather experiment which for a savage seemed very
ingenious. He wanted to learn the way the wind blew,
but as it was dead calm his search seemed rather guesswork.
He lit a bundle of green wood, which gave a thick smoke;
this rose vertically, until it reached the higher atmosphere,
when it bent towards the north and was flattened down by
a current from the south. Pakiri was much alarmed at
this, and took steps to mitigate the effects of a hurricane
which was about to burst over us.

If this wind sign had not sufficed to foretell a hurricane,
a crowd of other phenomena would soon have stilled any
doubt. Besides the spaniel, many other animals showed
that they felt its influence, which terrified them. High-
flying birds came down and lit on the Caribs huts ; enormous
bats, screech-owls as big as geese, iguanas as long as
crocodiles, came forth from the rocks and tried to seek
shelter in the hamlet. A monster dog-headed snake took refuge
in my house and refused to budge. Yellow-fleeced goats,
like antelopes or hinds, galloped down from the mountain
pastures, and came bleating under cover of the council-hall.
For a moment I thought that a pack of wolves had run for
lodging in our midst. They were huge greyhounds, of a
grey-black color, with long muzzle and blood-shot eye,
of the same strain as the Spaniards formerly employed in
St. Domingo to follow the natives in the woods. The
Caribs had imported them and put them to watch the
mountain passes which led to the English territory. These
hardy sentries had been seized with fear, and had deserted
their posts.

Still, as yet there was not a breath of wind, but gradually
a fear-inspiring gloom spread abroad. The sea rose and
bubbled like water boiling in a caldron. It had changed
its temperature and its level; in place of being cooler than
the air, it was much warmer, like the water of a hot spring.
its surface rose under an unknown pressure, and its waters,
bursting their bounds, flooded the harbor and flowed up
the bed of the rivers, driving back the streams. Porpoises,
dories, bonitos, and shoals of other fish, could be seen
rushing from the open sea and gaining shelter between the
rocks of the coast, to escape from a danger which they
could foresee, but which man, with his dim powers of
perception, could not recognize.

A surf, rising from the bottom of the sea, tore up huge
ocean seaweeds, wrenched shell-fish and molluscs from their
rocks, drove from their submarine lairs huge crustaceans, and ,
forced along in a tangled mass all these creatures that had
never before been on the shore. Above all, the atmosphere
displayed phenomena prophetic of the coming storm. In
rising, the sun had shone brightly in a clear sky, but at
midday it was veiled by mists which entirely changed its
look. It was devoid of rays like the moon; its disc had the
dull red look of a dying furnace. The light of day gradually
dwindled, becoming pale, shadowy, and flickering as in a
total eclipse; then a curtain of dark clouds covered the
sky, at the same time as a mist, from the Gulf of Mexico,
rose in mid-air and blotted out the horizon. Up to then
an extraordinary dead calm, almost unknown in these
islands, had prevailed. Leaves of trees hung down the
branches without movement. You would have thought
that life was ebbing away from the plants, and that they,
like men, were seized with a mortal asphyxia due to the
stifling heat.

We were roused from torpor by a long rumble from under
the sea ; it announced the approach of danger, and raised
an outcry of fear from the crowd. It was a raging tidal
wave coming from the west, moving on a broad front
through the narrow channels between the islands; launched
by an unknown force, it overwhelmed their waters, filled
them with a boiling sea, and formed on their surface a
current opposite to their normal currents. Behind this
great oceanic eddy roared the wind of the tempest. As
soon as it reached the cloud which hid the sea from our '
eyes, it tore it from top to bottom, and, through a peep-hole
suddenly opened in the mass of vapor, we were astonished
to see a man-of-war, a frigate, which was hugging
the coast of the island, trying under cover of its rocks to
reach the promontory of the Soufrière, double it, and
enter the port of Kingstown. It was a dangerous under-
taking, but might succeed, and the people, anxiously
following every maneuver of the vessel, began to think that
it would escape the double dangers of the storm and the
basalt rocks, when unexpectedly the frigate, which was
sailing almost on her beam ends, for some reason of which
we had no idea, ran up into the wind, broached to, and
was taken aback. She was then only two cable lengths
from the shore, but in the short time which elapsed between
the backward drag of her sails and the fall of her masts
We received such a powerful impulse that she covered this
space and dashed on to the pointed rocks of the shore.
Directly after this the towering waters of the tidal wave
hurled themselves on her; sometimes they broke on the
deck and tore off the sailors, dragging them with their
ebb into the abyss; sometimes they passed under the keel,
raising the vessel, only to let her drop on to the rocky
points ; they demolished the planking and allowed so much
water to enter the hold through great breaches that she
would have foundered without the support of the rock
on which she rested.

The Carib population gathered along the coast and
followed with keen eye all the acts of this terrible wreck.
Immediately after realizing at daybreak the portents of
the coming hurricane, the chief had given the signal of
alarm, which, repeated from village to village, from
mountain to mountain, had informed every family of the
approaching danger. The great advantage possessed by
the savages over the colonists is that, warned in advance
by their observations of a coming storm, they can mitigate
its effects, whilst in the islands occupied by Europeans the
population is constantly caught unprepared.

When all proper precautions had been taken the crowd
returned to the sea-coast to judge the extent of the danger.
The Black Caribs stayed in their huts, but sent to know if
their services were required.

Pakiri and I established ourselves on a promontory
formed by an ancient stream of lava, on the north of the
island, projecting into the Straits of St. Lucia. We were
obliged to crawl in order to reach the shelter of the blocks
of lava, and without them it would have been impossible
for us to stay there.

The violence of the storm continued to increase ; it had . '
already blown down huts, scattered the maize harvest,
torn up the manioc, beaten the bananas to the earth, and
laid flat numbers of trees on the hills. It was then that
the cloud had opened, and we could see the ship driving
towards us. The chief at once recognized her as an English
frigate trying to enter the port of Kingstown, doubtless
with the mission of landing troops and munitions for the
invasion of the Carib territory.

A moment previous to the catastrophe of her foundering
on the rocks l discovered in her after-rigging first one and
then another person who seemed to me to be Caribs. Neither
Pakiri nor I could be sure about them, or if they had not
been washed into the sea. An artilleryman who had
followed us and had a better point of view a little below
us called to me, and pointed out two black heads which
showed sometimes above the waves, but more often were
overwhelmed. One glance was enough for Pakiri. "it is
my daughter", he cried, and in a transport of despair added,
"Be true and devoted to us; if l perish, do not abandon
my brethren in their misfortune." He waited not for my
answer, but flung himself into the foam of a retreating
wave and reached open water, either to. save his beloved
daughter or perish with her. Ten times when they paused
to gain breath I thought they were exhausted, and the
first ray of hope was due to the success with which they
rounded the rocky point of the promontory and kept
beyond its terrible breakers.

At this moment the scene was suddenly closed. The
storm clouds which had lowered to the middle region of the
hills burst over our heads, and let loose a veritable flood,
blotting out everything. Each drop was at least 2 inches
in diameter, and made in falling as much noise as the
heaviest hail. Lightning blazed from ten points of the
compass, and lighted up the angular furrows of the clouds,
which now reached down to earth. Electric sparks moved
all around us, and the volcano of the Soufrière, answering
the peals of thunder, muttered its subterranean grumblings.

Thrice the earth shook. l thought the whole island was
about to be engulfed in the ocean. This crisis was the end
of Nature's convulsions; the rain had the happy effect of
calming the waves, of weakening and dissipating the clouds, ,
and clearing the air of the vapors with which it had been
charged. Daylight reappeared. The violent swell which
rendered landing impossible diminished quickly and enabled
the number of Caribs who had plunged into the sea to save
their chief and his daughter to approach the shore with
them. They sheltered them with their bodies, gave them
means of support, and succeeded in bringing them safely
on to the sand of the shore.

Eliama was carefully attended to by Carib women,
wrapped in cotton bands covered in with rugs of woven
palm-thread, and was soon able to tell her adventure.
She had left Martinique with her old attendant in a
canoe, which had been stopped by the English frigate ;
she had been summoned on board and detained there on
deck, the storm had. sprung up, and, taking advantage of
it, she had seized a boarding-axe and cut the tiller lines.
This resulted in throwing the vessel up into the wind, and
in the confusion she and her attendant had sprung into the
rigging and jumped overboard.

When at length the chief of the Reds was free to visit .
the scene of the shipwreck, we hurried to it. The sea,
breaking furiously over the frigate hedged on the rocks,
had demolished and flooded half of it ; part of the crew,
including the captain, had been washed overboard and
drowned; the others clung to the after-part, washed by
each mountainous wave. As if the cup of these wretches
was not full enough, the Black Caribs had scaled the rocky
peak at the foot of which the vessel lay, and with their
bows were shooting the sailors. 1 at once pointed out to
their chief that they would have to pay dearly for their
pleasure in killing these men, and guaranteed That if they
were made prisoners Victor Hugues would pay for each .
head in gunpowder and the best brandy. My efforts were
successful. The Caribs, having now changed their ideas
and come to regard the existence of each enemy as of
value to them, made every effort to save them from the
wreck. Their humanity was carried so far that in the case
of sick or wounded, unable to trust themselves alone to the
traveller between the ship and the shore, the black warriors
went at their own peril on board the wreck and brought
them off unhurt.

So large a number of prisoners was a matter of embarrassment.
Pakiri solved it by distributing these new guests
in caves where nothing was wanting except power to escape.
Three days later privateers from Guadeloupe came and
took them to Fort St. Charles in Basse Terre. Even now
one can hear from old negresses in the colony the account
of the sufferings of the sailors of the Laurel frigate due to
the act of a young Carib girl who had been detained on
board, and took the best revenge in her power.

At the close of this terrible day not a sign of the hurricane
showed in the sky; its effects, too, were confined to the
lower strata of the atmosphere, those in direct contact with
the sea, and I was delighted when the little Zami assured
me that my mountain residence was untouched.