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of common sense, and even policy: that concession, says the writer of the Journal des Debats, very gravely, " will not appear extraordinary to persons who are aware that the state of St. Domingo is not to be ascertained by the jokes which are passed on the Imperial Almanac of that part of the island governed by Christophe."—We know not whether the Royal Almanac of Hayti really excites in the French so much of merriment as they pretend to tell us; but we can affirm with great truth, that the trifling and insignificant contents of their papers, provoke in us not merely risibility, but a sentiment of which we decline the expression here, that we may not be exceeded by them in politeness.
The principal view of the French writers, is to draw the attention of Europe upon America, and particularly on Hayti, the eternal source of their regret; and betray its people into false and dangerous measures which would plunge them into the deepest calamity.
Our object is to enlighten Europe in regard to the moral and political situation of Hayti; to prove the justice of our accusations against the French; to show the excellence and righteousness of the cause, and just ground of our pretensions to liberty and independence; to unmask the perfidious policy of France; and render it ineffectual; and disappoint her criminal hopes for ever.
The French, to accomplish their design on Hayti, have resorted to calumny with a view to injure her interests abroad; and to corruption, to attain a similar object at home.
On the one hand, they mean to resist as strenuously as they can, the acknowledgment of our independence; and decline the question, that they may temporise, introduce themselves by trade, corrupt, paralyse our efforts, disunite, and divert us from the true path we should follow.
They intend, by atrocious falsehoods and calumnies, to detach from the cause our friends abroad, abate the warmth of their zeal, to draw upon our heads storms and tempests; and make, if it be possible, a people, whose long misfortunes had rendered interesting, loathsome and obnoxious to the whole world. And indeed, should their assertions be founded, what European government would contract an alliance with a race of barbarians, regardless alike of the rights of man, and faith of treaties?
If we were the beings they describe, what bosom would ever feel interested in our fate, or pity our cruel and protracted misfortunes?
How glorious a theme of exultation to the French, could they lead us into false steps, and make us victims of their duplicity; could they succeed in effecting a change of our present relations with the allied or neutral powers; and oblige them to become enemies, instead of friends, as they now are!
Such are however the intentions of the French. They traduce the generous character of England, in order to excite the people of Hayti against the English; they traduce the grateful temper of Hayti, to excite the English against the Haytians. M. de Boigne ascribes to England the infamous expedition directed against us by the French government; and solicits at the same time, the assistance of that power to prepare a similar expedition.
On the other hand, they have neglected nothing that could contribute to undermine our strength at home; they have studied our manners, habits and inclinations, have made inquiries into the state of our rural and political economy, government, strength, and resources : in fine, have endeavoured in every place, to ascertain the strong and weak points of our position, in order to consolidate the system of perfidy which they intend to employ against us.
We cannot, certainly, be accused of aggression by any state.
The French had a right, if they pleased, to write and publish some thousands of volumes; and their newspapers to circulate a thousand falsehoods. We also have a right to compose some pages in defence of our privileges ; nor can it give umbrage to any.
Our adversaries have dragged us, very reluctantly, to the arena: we did not provoke them to battle : we never were the aggressors: we have been compelled to oppose to them the very arguments, and depend on the authority of the very same examples, which they have brought forward to invade our rights. If they should be vanquished by force of argument, as they have been by the force of our arms, to them alone the fault must be imputed.
Happy, and contented to live in the bosom of our island, and reconciled to the destiny imposed upon us by the Master of the universe, we ask nothing that belongs to other nations. All our endeavours are directed merely to secure our safety, and the amelioration of our social condition. We offer up prayers only for the happiness of mankind, without distinction of color, country or nation; and feel satisfied with enjoying at home that peace and felicity which we desire to be universally granted to the world.
But when we are attacked in our dearest affections, and most rooted interests; when our enemies study by every artifice to distort facts, to propagate calumnies, to give birth to objections, the most puerile, even such as the prejudices of color, the doctrine of legitimacy, in order to impugn the justice of our cause, and dispute our title to liberty and independence : when they call in aid the vengeance of an European confederacy; are we, like indifferent spectators, to be allowed to take no interest in the discussion? Can we act in such a manner?
Shall we abandon to our enemies an undisputed field, permit them to indulge flights of fancy; and dispose, in imagination, of our persons and rights, natural, civil, and political? Shall we go as lambs to the slaughter, without even opening our mouth?
Shall we suffer them to appeal to justice, morals, and the laws of nations, while we can invoke them in truth and righteousness against our oppressors?
Shall we permit the opinion of those well-disposed and benevolent persons, who do not comprehend the nature of the events which have taken place at Hayti, to be deceived and led astray? How can they be competent to judge of our differences, if they hear only the clamor and declarations of one party, without the reply and just complaints of the other? Would they not eventually withdraw, and pass over to the enemy? Ought we to neglect the means of informing them in regard to the state of things and facts? Should not then calumny, that dreadful weapon, when handled by wicked, artful and insidious men, prevail at length on righteousness and the justest of all causes? Who will defend our rights, if we do not defend them ourselves? Shall we commit our greatest and best interests to strangers? Could the person willing to incur the responsibility of so equitable a charge, be equal to the execution of the office, if it were destitute of the necessary materials and local information, to assist and direct him? If, on the other hand, we were to acquiesce in silence, our friends, who know the justice of our claims, would attribute it to the want of ability, and real knowledge; while the enemy would interpret it in his favor, and give weight to unjust pretensions and calumny. How powerful and numerous then are the motives to enlighten public opinion!
To opinion, the queen of the civilised world, who summons to her tribunal kings and nations, and dictates to them her impartial and irrevocable decrees; a power which sustains on earth the office of the Deity himself; is independent of all human power; overleaps time and space; comprehends the past and future; extends over all its invisible empire; bends to its decree the oppressor and oppressed; it is to opinion, who sounds the trumpet, to proclaim good or bad actions; exalts or depresses; confers glory or disgrace; acknowledges nosuperior but truth,impartiality, and justice; and judges but from right and wrong; it is to the power of opinion that we appeal upon earth; as in Heaven we are heard and judged by the Almighty!
Every man who encourages a sense of honor and reputation, is anxious to deserve the suffrage of public opinion; sovereigns and nations are subject to its power; they who provoke and insult it are madmen, and resemble in their conduct, women of loose character, who have thrown away the mask, and never blush.
It is impossible, therefore, to commence an attack with more determined violence, than by an attempt to lower us in the public opinion; and stain what men hold so dear, their reputation and glory. What people on earth is more in need of the general suffrage and esteem, than the people of Hayti? A nation on whom so many injustices and prejudices are still weighing; a nation, whose political and moral existence is yet a phenomenon in the eyes of thousands who are blinded by passion. Black as we are, and yellow in complexion, bowed as we have been for centuries under the yoke of slavery and ignorance, assimilated to the condition of the brute; how resolutely ought we to exert ourselves ; how much of perseverance, wisdom and virtue, is necessary for reanimating our race, to this moment enchained, and in darkness! Where shall we turn our eyes?
After having established our rights by the sword, we acquire a new lustre in the eyes of the world, when we defend them by the pen. Our reputation becomes greater and more glorious, and we include ourselves, in reality, in the number of civilised states.
Our enemies, vanquished in the field, do not refuse us the credit of possessing physical strength. We have given proof of strength, intrepidity, and courage. But they believe notwithstanding, that our capacities are too narrow to admit of the exertion of the energy and intellectual skill capable of directing us in our political career. We shall endeavour to establish the contrary by a description of the different advances we have made in the scale of social order. For our guide in the statement of facts, we take impartiality and truth. In the revolution of our country, as in all those which have violently shaken other countries, there has been much good, counterbalanced by much evil. No people has been exempted from error; infallibity is the province not of man, but of God alone. White men have shed our blood in torrents; we have not been less prodigal of theirs; and in our civil wars, have shed our own in abundance. A minute detail of the facts, events, and causes, which produced them, belongs naturally to our history. In the course of this work, we have felt a regret that we were not able to expatiate, without exceeding the limits of simple reflections; which, in order to their being well-timed, require to be hastily written. It was impossible, however, to avoid making occasionally, digressions such as we considered indispensable. The reader should recollect that we write for foreigners, as well as natives; and that with regard to any peculiarity of expression, every nation has a language adapted to its climate, manners, and institutions. Always in haste about that in which we are engaged, we know that traces will be visible in our compositions, of the precipitation with which they have been written. This will continue to be so, till the nation stands upon a firmer basis.
The history of so interesting a people as that of Hayti \ of their protracted sufferings, and the extraordinary events that have rescued them from slavery; a history, the plan of which should embrace, in addition to the narrative, a portrait of our manners and customs; and gradual improvement in civilisation, arts and sciences, from 1790 to the present period : such an historical record would be unique in its kind, in the annals of the world, and would require time,profound study and reflection, minute research, extensive learning, experience, and a degree of talent infinitely greater than we possess. A history of this description would be a splendid trophy to him who should attempt it; a triumphant answer, and the most complete vindication which the people of Hayti could present to friends or enemies.
These reflections (and we regret it much) have been prompted but by actual necessity. We have shown truth in as clear a light as we could. The duty of a political writer is not to point out, day by day, the line of conduct to be pursued; but to the different situations in which the government may be placed, leaving the inferences to be drawn by itself. State policy is full of unexpected difficulties: it is variable and inconstant as the passions of men.
Having surveyed the calamities of all kinds, which have afflicted our unhappy country, we have endeavoured, as far as lay in our power, to investigate their causes in order to prevent their recurrence. We have not forgotten, that General Toussaint was reproached with having left the people ignorant of the designs of the French government. To this may be attributed the greatest calamities of his country, and his own ruin. The king, wiser and more enlightened by experience, has not concealed from his subjects or the world, the perfidious schemes and unjust pretensions of France upon Hayti.
Nor have we forgotten the charge preferred against the courtiers of the Emperor Dessalines, who, occupied by cabal, corruption, and their own interest, left their prince ignorant of all that was important for him to know, not less for his own preservation than the good of his country; and became in consequence of it, the authors of his ruin. Thev who deserve such reproaches must feel them acutely; but to a faithful and honest servant, conscious of having exerted himself to the utmost, in the service of his king and country, they must be cruelly severe.
Every citizen, every minister, owes to his government and country the tribute of his information. If a faithful and devoted subject owe to his sovereign truth, and to a sovereign even unwilling to hear it; how much more to the great and generous prince, who requires it to be freely told !" My children," (said the king of Hayti, not unfrequently to those who stood around him,) " my intentions are pure ; but I am a man, and therefore as liable to error