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Two Years in the French West Indies By Lafcadio Hearn Characters: 30088

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

A dim morning and chill;-blank sky and sunless waters: the sombre heaven of the North with colorless horizon rounding in a blind grey sea.... What a sudden weight comes to the heart with the touch of the cold mist, with the spectral melancholy of the dawn;-and then what foolish though irrepressible yearning for the vanished azure left behind!

... The little monkeys twitter plaintively, trembling in the chilly air. The parrots have nothing to say: they look benumbed, and sit on their perches with eyes closed.

... A vagueness begins to shape itself along the verge of the sea, far to port: that long heavy clouding which indicates the approach of land. And from it now floats to us something ghostly and frigid which makes the light filmy and the sea shadowy as a flood of dreams,-the fog of the Jersey coast.

At once the engines slacken their respiration. The Guadeloupe begins to utter her steam-cry of warning,-regularly at intervals of two minutes,-for she is now in the track of all the ocean vessels. And from far away we can hear a heavy knelling,-the booming of some great fog-bell.

... All in a white twilight. The place of the horizon has vanished;-we seem ringed in by a wall of smoke.... Out of this vapory emptiness-very suddenly-an enormous steamer rushes, towering like a hill-passes so close that we can see faces, and disappears again, leaving the sea heaving and frothing behind her.

... As I lean over the rail to watch the swirling of the wake, I feel something pulling at my sleeve: a hand,-a tiny black hand,-the hand of a sakiwinki. One of the little monkeys, straining to the full length of his string, is making this dumb appeal for human sympathy;-the bird-black eyes of both are fixed upon me with the oddest look of pleading. Poor little tropical exiles! I stoop to caress them; but regret the impulse a moment later: they utter such beseeching cries when I find myself obliged to leave them again alone!...

... Hour after hour the Guadeloupe glides on through the white gloom,-cautiously, as if feeling her way; always sounding her whistle, ringing her bells, until at last some brown-winged bark comes flitting to us out of the mist, bearing a pilot.... How strange it must all seem to Mademoiselle who stands so silent there at the rail!-how weird this veiled world must appear to her, after the sapphire light of her own West Indian sky, and the great lazulite splendor of her own tropic sea!

But a wind comes;-it strengthens,-begins to blow very cold. The mists thin before its blowing; and the wan blank sky is all revealed again with livid horizon around the heaving of the iron-grey sea.

... Thou dim and lofty heaven of the North,-grey sky of Odin,-bitter thy winds and spectral all thy colors!-they that dwell beneath thee know not the glory of Eternal Summer's green,-the azure splendor of southern day!-but thine are the lightnings of Thought illuminating for human eyes the interspaces between sun and sun. Thine the generations of might,-the strivers, the battlers,-the men who make Nature tame!-thine the domain of inspiration and achievement,-the larger heroisms, the vaster labors that endure, the higher knowledge, and all the witchcrafts of science!...

But in each one of us there lives a mysterious Something which is Self, yet also infinitely more than Self,-incomprehensibly multiple,-the complex total of sensations, impulses, timidities belonging to the unknown past. And the lips of the little stranger from the tropics have become all white, because that Something within her,-ghostly bequest from generations who loved the light and rest and wondrous color of a more radiant world,-now shrinks all back about her girl's heart with fear of this pale grim North.... And lo!-opening mile-wide in dream-grey majesty before us,-reaching away, through measureless mazes of masting, into remotenesses all vapor-veiled,-the mighty perspective of New York harbor!...

Thou knowest it not, this gloom about us, little maiden;-'tis only a magical dusk we are entering,-only that mystic dimness in which miracles must be wrought!... See the marvellous shapes uprising,-the immensities, the astonishments! And other greater wonders thou wilt behold in a little while, when we shall have become lost to each other forever in the surging of the City's million-hearted life!... 'Tis all shadow here, thou sayest?-Ay, 'tis twilight, verily, by contrast with that glory out of which thou camest, Lys-twilight only,-but the Twilight of the Gods!... Adié, chè!-Bon-Dié ké bént ou!...

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[ Since this was written the market has been removed to the Savane,-to allow of the erection of a large new market-building on the old site; and the beautiful trees have been cut down.]

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[ I subsequently learned the mystery of this very strange and beautiful mixed race,-many fine specimens of which may also be seen in Trinidad. Three widely diverse elements have combined to form it: European, negro, and Indian,-but, strange to say, it is the most savage of these three bloods which creates the peculiar charm.... I cannot speak of this comely and extraordinary type without translating a passage from Dr. J. J. J. Cornilliac, an eminent Martinique physician, who recently published a most valuable series of studies upon the ethnology, climatology, and history of the Antilles. In these he writes:...]

"When, among the populations of the Antilles, we first notice those remarkable métis whose olive skins, elegant and slender figures, fine straight profiles, and regular features remind us of the inhabitants of Madras or Pondicherry,-we ask ourselves in wonder, while looking at their long eyes, full of a strange and gentle melancholy (especially among the women), and at the black, rich, silky-gleaming hair curling in abundance over the temples and falling in profusion over the neck,-to what human race can belong this singular variety,-in which there is a dominant characteristic that seems indelible, and always shows more and more strongly in proportion as the type is further removed from the African element. It is the Carib blood-blended with blood of Europeans and of blacks,-which in spite of all subsequent crossings, and in spite of the fact that it has not been renewed for more than two hundred years, still conserves as markedly as at the time of the first interblending, the race-characteristic that invariably reveals its presence in the blood of every being through whose veins it flows."-"Recherches chronologiques et historiques sur l'Origine et la Propagation de la Fièvre Jaune aux Antilles." Par J. J. J. Cornilliac. Fort-de-France: Imprimerie du Gouvernement. 1886.

But I do not think the term "olive" always indicates the color of these skins, which seemed to me exactly the tint of gold; and the hair flashes with bluish lights, Like the plumage of certain black birds.]

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[ Extract from the "Story of Marie," as written from dictation:

... Manman-à té ni yon gou?s jà à ca?e-li. Jà-la té tou?p lou'de pou Marie. Cé té li menm manman là qui té kallé pouend dileau. Yon jou y pouend jà-la pou y té allé pouend dileau. Lhè manman-à rivé bò la fontaine, y pa trouvé pésonne pou chagé y. Y rété; y ka crié, "Toutt bon Chritien, vini chagé moin!"

... Lhè manman rété y ouè pa té ni piess bon Chritien pou chage y. Y rété; y crié: "Pouloss, si pa ni bon Chritien, ni mauvais Chritien! toutt mauvais Chritien vini chagé moin!"

... Lhè y fini di ?a, y ouè yon diabe qui ka vini, ka di conm ?aa, "Pou moin chagé ou, ?a ou ké baill moin?" Manman-là di,-y réponne, "Moin pa ni arien!" Diabe-la réponne y, "Y fau ba moin Marie pou moin pé chagé ou."

This mamma had a great jar in her house. The jar was too heavy for Marie. It was this mamma herself who used to go for water. One day she took that jar to go for water. When this mamma had got to the fountain, she could not find anyone to load her. She stood there, crying out, "Any good Christian, come load me!"

As the mamma stood there she saw there was not a single good Christian to help her load. She stood there, and cried out: "Well, then, if there are no good Christians, there are bad Christians. Any bad Christian, come and load me!"

The moment she said that, she saw a devil coming, who said to her, "If I load you, what will you give me?" This mamma answered, and said, "I have nothing!" The devil answered her, "Must give me Marie if you want me to load you."]

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[ Y batt li conm lambi-"he beat him like a lambi"-is an expression that may often be heard in a creole court from witnesses testifying in a case of assault and battery. One must have seen a lambi pounded to appreciate the terrible picturesqueness of the phase.]

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[ Moreau de Saint-Méry writes, describing the drums of the negroes of Saint Domingue: "Le plus court de ces tambours est nommé Bamboula, attendu qu'il est formé quelquefois d'un très-gros bambou."-"Description de la partie fran?aise de Saint Domingue", vol. i., p. 44.]

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[ What is known in the West Indies as a hurricane is happily rare; it blows with the force of a cyclone, but not always circularly; it may come from one direction, and strengthen gradually for days until its highest velocity and destructive force are reached. One in the time of Père Labat blew away the walls of a fort;-that of 1780 destroyed the lives of twenty-two thousand people in four islands: Martinique, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent, and Barbadoes.

Before the approach of such a visitation animals manifest the same signs of terror they display prior to an earthquake. Cattle assemble together, stamp, and roar; sea-birds fly to the interior; fowl seek the nearest crevice they can hide in. Then, while the sky is yet clear, begins the breaking of the sea; then darkness comes, and after it the wind.]

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[ "Histoire Générale des Antilles... habités par les Fran?ais." Par le R. P. Du Tertre, de l'Ordre des Frères Prescheurs. Paris: 1661-71. 4 vols. (with illustrations) in 4to.]

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[ One of the lights seen on the Caravelle was certainly carried by a cattle-thief,-a colossal negro who had the reputation of being a sorcerer,-a quimboiseur. The greater part of the mountainous land forming La Caravelle promontory was at that time the property of a Monsieur Eustache, who used it merely for cattle-raising purposes. He allowed his animals to run wild in the hills; they multiplied exceedingly, and became very savage. Notwithstanding their ferocity, however, large numbers of them were driven away at night, and secretly slaughtered or sold, by somebody who used to practise the art of cattle-stealing with a lantern, and evidently without aid. A watch was set, and the thief arrested. Before the magistrate he displayed extraordinary assurance, asserting that he had never stolen from a poor man-he had stolen only from M. Eustache who could not count his own cattle-yon richard, man chè! "How many cows did you steal from him?" asked the magistrate. "Ess moin pè save?-moin té pouend yon savane toutt pleine," replied the prisoner. (How can I tell?-I took a whole savanna-full.)... Condemned on the strength of his own confession, he was taken to jail. "Moin pa ké rété geole," he observed. (I shall not remain in prison.) They put him in irons, but on the following morning the irons were found lying on the floor of the cell, and the prisoner was gone. He was never seen in Martinique again.]

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[ Y sucoué souyé assous quai-là;-y ka di: "Moin ka maudi ou, Lanmatinique!-moin ka maudi ou!...Ké ni mangé pou engnien: ou pa ké pè menm acheté y! Ké ni touèle pou engnien: ou pa ké pè menm acheté yon robe! Epi yche ké batt manman.... Ou banni moin!-moin ké vini encò"]

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[ Vol. iii., p. 382-3. Edition of 1722.]

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[ The parrots of Martinique he describes as having been green, with slate-colored plumage on the top of the head, mixed with a little red, and as having a few red feathers in the wings, throat, and tail.]

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[ The creole word moudongue is said to be a corruption of Mondongue, the name of an African coast tribe who had the reputation of being cannibals. A Mondongue slave on the plantations was generally feared by his fellow-blacks of other tribes; and the name of the cannibal race became transformed into an adjective to denote anything formidable or terrible. A blow with a stick made of the wood described being greatly dreaded, the term was applied first to the stick, and afterward to the wood itself.]

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[ Accounting for the origin of the trade-winds, he writes: "I say that the Trade-Winds do not exist in the Torrid Zone merely by chance; forasmuch as the cause which produces them is very necessary, very sure, and very continuous, since they result either from the movement of the Earth around the Sun, or from the movement of the Sun around the Earth. Whether it be the one or the other, of these two great bodies which moves..." etc.]

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[ In creole, cabritt-bois,-("the Wood-Kid")-a colossal cricket. Precisely at half-past four in the morning it becomes silent; and for thousands of early risers too poor to own a clock, the cessation of its song is the signal to get up.]

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[ -"Where dost stay, dear?"-"Affairs of the goat are not affairs of the rabbit."-"But why art thou dressed all in black thus?"-"I wear mourning for my dead soul."-"A?e ya ya?e!...No, true!...where art thou going now?"-"Love is gone: I go after love."-"Ho! thou hast a Wasp [lover]-eh?"-"The zanoli gives a ball; the maboya enters unasked."-"Tell me where thou art going, sweetheart?"-"As far as the River of the Lizard."-"Fouinq!-there are more than thirty kilometres!"-"What of that?-dost thou want to come with me?"]

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[ "Kiss me now!"]

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[ Petits amoureux aux plumes, Enfants d'un brillant séjour, Vous ignorez l'amertume, Vous parlez souvent d'amour;... Vous méprisez la dorure, Les salons, et les bijoux; Vous chérissez la Nature, Petits oiseaux, becquetez-vous!

"Voyez làbas, dans cette église, Auprès d'un confessional, Le prêtre, qui veut faire croire à Lise, Qu'un baiser est un grand mal;-Pour prouver à la mignonne Qu'un baiser bien fait, bien doux, N'a jamais damné personne Petits oiseaux, becquetez-vous!"


Little feathered lovers, cooing, Children of the radiant air, Sweet your speech,-the speech of wooing; Ye have ne'er a grief to bear! Gilded ease and jewelled fashion Never own a charm for you; Ye love Nature's truth with passion, Pretty birdlings, bill and coo!

See that priest who, Lise confessing, Wants to make the girl believe That a kiss without a blessing Is a fault for which to grieve! Now to prove, to his vexation, That no tender kiss and true Ever caused a soul's damnation, Pretty birdlings, bill and coo!]

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[ "Cette danse est opposée à la pudeur. Avec tout cela, el

le ne lesse pas d'être tellement du go?t des Espagnols Créolles de l'Amérique, & si fort en usage parmi eux, qu'elle fait la meilleure partie de leurs divertissements, & qu'elle entre même dans leurs devotions. Ils la dansent même dans leurs églises & à leurs processions; et les Religieuses ne manquent guère de la danser la Nuit de No?l, sur un théatre élévé dans leur Choeur, vis-à-vis de leur grille, qui est ouverte, afin que le Peuple a?t sa part dans la joye que ces bonnes ames témoignent pour la naissance du Sauveur."]

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[ During a hurricane, several years ago, a West Indian steamer was disabled at a dangerously brief distance from the coast of the island by having her propeller fouled. Sorely broken and drifting rigging had become wrapped around it. One of the crew, a Martinique mulatto, tied a rope about his waist, took his knife between his teeth, dived overboard, and in that tremendous sea performed the difficult feat of disengaging the propeller, and thus saving the steamer from otherwise certain destruction.... This brave fellow received the Cross of the Legion of Honor.]

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[ "Bel laline, moin ka montré ti pièce moin!-ba moin làgent toutt temps ou ka clairé!"... This little invocation is supposed to have most power when uttered on the first appearance of the new moon.]

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[ "Guardian-angel, watch over me;-have pity upon my weakness; lie down on my little bed with me: follow me whithersoever I go."...The prayers are always said in French. Metaphysical and theological terms cannot be rendered in the patois; and the authors of creole catechisms have always been obliged to borrow and explain French religious phrases in order to make their texts comprehensible.]

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[ -"Moin té ouè yon bal;-moin rêvé: moin té ka ouè toutt moune ka dansé masqué; moin té ka gàdé. Et toutt-à-coup moin ka ouè c'est bonhomme-càton ka danse. Et main ka ouè yon Commandè: y ka mandé moin ?a moin ka fai là. Moin reponne y conm ?a:-'Moin ouè yon bal, moin gàdé-coument!' 'Y ka réponne moin:-'Pisse ou si quirièse pou vini gàdé bagga?e moune, faut rété là pou dansé 'tou.' Moin réponne y:-'Non! main pa dansé épi bonhomme-càton!-moin pè!'... Et moin ka couri, moin ka couri, main ka couri à fòce moin te ni pè. Et moin rentré adans grand jàdin; et moin ouè gou?s pié-cirise qui té chàgé anni feuill; et moin ka ouè yon nhomme assise enba cirise-à. Y mandé moin:-'?a ou ka fai là?' Moin di y:-'Moin ka chaché chimin pou moin allé.' Y di moin:-'Faut rété i?itt.' Et moin di y:-'Non!'-et pou chappé cò moin, moin di y:-'Allé enhaut-là: ou ké ouè yon bel bal,-toutt bonhomme-càton ka dansé, épi yon Commande-en-càton ka coumandé yo.'... Epi moin levé, à fòce moin té pè."...]

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[ Lit.,-"brought-up-in-a-hat." To wear the madras is to acknowledge oneself of color;-to follow the European style of dressing the hair, and adopt the costume of the white creoles indicates a desire to affiliate with the white class.]

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[ Red earthen-ware jars for keeping drinking-water cool. The origin of the word is probably to be sought in the name of the town, near Marseilles, where they are made,-Aubagne.]

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[ I may cite in this relation one stanza of a creole song-very popular in St. Pierre-celebrating the charms of a little capresse:-

"...Moin toutt jeine,

Gou?s, gouas, vaillant,

Peau,di chapoti

Ka fai plaisi;-Lapeau moin

Li bien poli;

Et moin ka plai

Mênm toutt nhomme grave!"

-Which might be freely rendered thus:-

"...I am dimpled, young, Round-limbed, and strong, With sapota-skin That is good to see: All glossy-smooth Is this skin of mine; And the gravest men Like to look at me!"]

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[ It was I who washed and ironed and mended;-at nine o'clock at night thou didst put me out-of-doors, with my child in my arms,-the rain was falling,-with my poor straw mattress upon my head!... Doudoux! thou dost abandon me!... I have none to care for me.]

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[ Also called La Barre de 'Isle,-a long high mountain-wall interlinking the northern and southern system of ranges,-and only two metres broad at the summit. The "Roches-Carrées", display a geological formation unlike anything discovered in the rest of the Antillesian system, excepting in Grenada,-columnar or prismatic basalts.... In the plains of Marin curious petrifactions exist;-I saw a honey-comb so perfect that the eye alone could scarcely divine the transformation.]

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[ Thibault de Chanvallon, writing of Martinique in 1751, declared:-"All possible hinderances to study are encountered here (tout s'oppose à l'etude): if the Americans [creoles] do not devote themselves to research, the fact must not be attributed solely to indifference or indolence. On the one hand, the overpowering and continual heat,-the perpetual succession of mornes and acclivities,-the difficulty of entering forests rendered almost inaccessible by the lianas interwoven across all openings, and the prickly plants which oppose a barrier to the naturalist,-the continual anxiety and fear inspired by serpents also;-on the othelr hand, the disheartening necessity of having to work alone, and the discouragement of being unable to communicate one's ideas or discoveries to persons having similar tastes. And finally, it must be remembered that these discouragements and dangers are never mitigated by the least hope of personal consideration, or by the pleasure of emulation,-since such study is necessarily unaccompanied either by the one or the other in a country where nobody undertakes it."-(Voyage à la Martinique.)...The conditions have scarcely changed since De Chanvallon's day, despite the creation of Government roads, and the thinning of the high woods.]

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[ Humboldt believed the height to be not less than 800 toises (1 toise=6 ft. 4.73 inches), or about 5115 feet.]

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[ There used to be a strange popular belief that however heavily veiled by clouds the mountain might be prior to an earthquake, these would always vanish with the first shock. But Thibault de Chanvallon took pains to examine into the truth of this alleged phenomenon; and found that during a number of earthquake shocks the clouds remained over the crater precisely as usual.... There was more foundation, however, for another popular belief, which still exists,-that the absolute purity of the atmosphere about Pelée, and the perfect exposure of its summit for any considerable time, might be regarded as an omen of hurricane.]

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[ "De la piqure du serpent de la Martinique," par Auguste Charriez, Medecin de la Marine. Paris: Moquet, 1875]

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[ M. Francard Bayardelle, overseer of the Prèsbourg plantation at Grande Anse, tells me that the most successful treatment of snake bite consists in severe local cupping and bleeding; the immediate application of twenty to thirty leeches (when these can be obtained), and the administration of alkali as an internal medicine. He has saved several lives by these methods.

The negro panseur method is much more elaborate and, to some extent, mysterious. He cups and bleeds, using a small cou?, or half-calabash, in lieu of a grass; and then applies cataplasms of herbs,-orange-leaves, cinnamon-leaves, clove-leaves, chardon-béni, charpentier, perhaps twenty other things, all mingled together;-this poulticing being continued every day for a month. Meantime the patient is given all sorts of absurd things to drink, in tafia and sour-orange juice-such as old clay pipes ground to powder, or the head of the fer-de-lance itself, roasted dry and pounded.... The plantation negro has no faith in any other system of cure but that of the panseur;-he refuses to let the physician try to save him, and will scarcely submit to be treated even by an experienced white over-seer.]

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[ The sheet-lightnings which play during the nights of July and August are termed in creole Zéclai-titiri, or "titiri-lightnings";-it is believed these give notice that the titiri have begun to swarn in the rivers. Among the colored population there exists an idea of some queer relation between the lightning and the birth of the little fish,-it is commonly said, "Zéclai-a ka fai yo écloré" (the lightning hatches them).]

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[ Dr. E. Rufz: "études historiques," vol. i., p. 189.]

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[ The brightly colored douillettes are classified by the people according to the designs of the printed calico:-robe-à-bambou,-robe-à-bouquet,-robe-arc-en-ciel, -robe-à-carreau,-etc., according as the pattern is in stripes, flower-designs, "rainbow" bands of different tints, or plaidings. Ronde-en-ronde means a stuff printed with disk-patterns, or link-patterns of different colors,-each joined with the other. A robe of one color only is called a robe-uni.

The general laws of contrasts observed in the costume require the silk foulard, or shoulder-kerchief, to make a sharp relief with the color of the robe, thus:- Robe. Foulard. Yellow Blue. Dark blue Yellow. Pink Green. Violet Bright red. Red Violet. Chocolate (cacoa) Pale blue. Sky blue Pale rose.

These refer, of course, to dominant or ground colors, as there are usually several tints in the foulard as well as the robe. The painted Madras should always be bright yellow. According to popular ideas of good dressing, the different tints of skin should be relieved by special choice of color in the robe, as follows:-

Capresse (a clear red skin) should wear.... Pale yellow. Mulatresse (according to shade).... Rose. Blue. Green. Negresse.... White. Scarlet, or any violet color.]

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[ "Vouèla Cendrillon evec yon bel ròbe velou grande lakhè.... ?a té ka bail ou mal ziè. Li té tini bel zanneau dans zòreill li, quate-tou-chou, bouoche, bracelet, tremblant,-toutt sòte bel bagga?e conm ?a."...-(Conte Cendrillon,-d'après Turiault.)

-"There was Cendrillon with a beautiful long trailing robe of velvet on her!... It was enough to hurt one's eyes to look at her! She had beautiful rings in her ears, and a collier-choux of four rows, brooches, tremblants, bracelets,-everything fine of that sort."-(Story of Cinderella in Turinault's Creole Grammar).]

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[ It is quite possible, however, that the slaves of Dutertre's time belonged for the most part to the uglier African tribes; and that later supplies may have been procured from other parts of the slave coast. Writing half a century later, Père Labat declares having seen freshly disembarked blacks handsome enough to inspire an artist:-"J'en ai vu des deux sexes faits à peindre, et beaux par merveille" (vol. iv. chap, vii,). He adds that their skin was extremely fine, and of velvety softness;-"le velours n'est pas plus doux."... Among the 30,000 blacks yearly shipped to the French colonies, there were doubtless many representatives of the finer African races.]

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[ "Leur sueur n'est pas fétide comme celle des nègres de la Guinée," writes the traveller Dauxion-Lavaysse, in 1813.]

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[ Dr. E. Rufz: "études historiques et statistiques sur la population de la Martinique." St. Pierre: 1850. Vol. i., pp. 148-50.

It has been generally imagined that the physical constitution of the black race was proof against the deadly climate of the West Indies. The truth is that the freshly imported Africans died of fever by thousands and tens-of-thousands;-the creole-negro race, now so prolific, represents only the fittest survivors in the long and terrible struggle of the slave element to adapt itself to the new environment. Thirty thousand negroes a year were long needed to supply the French colonies. Between 1700 and 1789 no less than 900,000 slaves were imported by San Domingo alone;-yet there were less than half that number left in 1789. (See Placide Justin's history of Santo Domingo, p. 147.) The entire slave population of Barbadoes had to be renewed every sixteen years, according to estimates: the loss to planters by deaths of slaves (reckoning the value of a slave at only £20 sterling) during the same period was £1,600,000 ($8,000,000). (Burck's "History of European Colonies," vol. ii., p. 141; French edition of 1767.)]

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[ Rufz: "études," vol. i., p. 236.]

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[ I am assured it has now fallen to a figure not exceeding 5000.]

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[ Rufz: "études," vol. ii., pp. 311, 312.]

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[ Rufz: "études," vol. i., p. 237.]

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[ La race de sang-mêlé, issue des blancs et des noirs, est éminement civilizable. Comme types physiques, elle fournit dans beaucoup d'individus, dans ses femmes en général, les plus beaux specimens de la race humaine.-"Le Préjugé de Race aux Antilles Fran?aises." Par G. Souquet-Basiège. St. Pierre, Martinique: 1883. pp. 661-62.]

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[ Turiault: "étude sur le langage Créole de la Martinique." Brest: 1874.... On page 136 he cites the following pretty verses in speaking of the fille-de-couleur:-

L'Amour prit soin de la former Tendre, na?ve, et caressante, Faite pour plaire, encore plus pour aimer. Portant tous les traits précieux Du caractère d'une amante, Le plaisir sur sa bouche et l'amour dans ses yeux.]

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[ A sort of land-crab;-the female is selected for food, and, properly cooked, makes a delicious dish;-the male is almost worthless.]

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[ "Voyage à la Martinique," Par J. R., Général de Brigade. Paris: An, XII., 1804. Page 106.]

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[ According to the Martinique "Annuaire" for 1887, there were even then, out of a total population of 173,182, no less than 12,366 able to read and write.]

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[ There is record of an attempt to manufacture bread with one part manioc flour to three of wheat flour. The result was excellent; but no serious effort was ever made to put the manioc bread on the market.]

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[ I must mention a surreptitious dish, chatt;-needless to say the cats are not sold, but stolen. It is true that only a small class of poor people eat cats; but they eat so many cats that cats have become quite rare in St. Pierre. The custom is purely superstitious: it is alleged that if you eat cat seven times, or if you eat seven cats, no witch, wizard, or quimboiseur can ever do you any harm; and the cat ought to be eaten on Christmas Eve in order that the meal be perfectly efficacious.... The mystic number "seven", enters into another and a better creole superstition;-if you kill a serpent, seven great sins are forgiven to you: ou ké ni sept grands péchés effacé.]

51 (return)

[ Rufz remarks that the first effect of this climate of the Antilles is a sort of general physical excitement, an exaltation, a sense of unaccustomed strength,-which begets the desire of immediate action to discharge the surplus of nervous force. "Then all distances seem brief;-the greatest fatigues are braved without hesitation."- études.]

52 (return)

[ In the patois, "yon rafale yche,"-a "whirlwind of children."]

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