Thursday, August 18, 2005

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.