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FROM THE MONTHLY MAGAZINE. An Account of the Colony of Cayenne, in South America ; with Anecdotes of tlie
celebrated Victor Hugues-from the French of Piton.
GUIANA, or Grand Terre, is a south is sixteen miles and a half; part of America, properly so called, and its circumference, taking in all comprehending about ten degrees of its windings, is about fifty miles. That latitude; bounded, on the east, by part of the circumference bordered the north Atlantick ocean ; on the by the ocean, and which is to the west, by the mountains of the Corde- north east, may, perhaps, be about ļiers ; on the north, by the river Oro- eleven or twelve miles. noco; and on the south, by the river The town of Cayenne, situated at of the Amazons, or the Line. the north-west extremity of the island,
French Guiana, is divided into dis- at the mouth of the river of the same tricts, which take their names from name, is fortified, and might be cathe principal rivers or capes. The pable of being advantageously defendMaroni and Oyapoe are the only ri. ed by a small mountain which is close vers which have their source in the to it. Its latitude is 4 degrees 56 migreat chain of mountains, which, in nutes, and longitude 54 degrees 35 this part of the world, separate the minutes, from the meridian of Paris, waters which flow towards the ocean, according to the observations of M. from those which fall into the Ama- de la Condamine, in 1744. zon. The rivers Mana, Synnamari, The days and nights are equal Oyac, and Appronague, spring from throughout the year, with the excepthe mountains of the second class; tion of about half an hour, which we the others, less considerable, from lose from September to March, but the mountains of the inferiour order. gain in the six other months. Day All have several branches, more or appears at half-past five ; and at six less rapid, increased by a great num- the sun darts from the bosom of the ber of smaller streams.
ocean, surrounded with clouds of bril, The chief place of the colony of liant purple. We have two summers, Cayenne, is generally known by the two equinoxes, two winters, and two name of the Island of Cayenne; but solstices. The heat is tempered by no just idea can be formed of this abundant rains, which fall during the island, if it is represented as being winter solstice, from the middle of separated at a distance from the con- December to March, and return tinent, and surrounded by a sea, na- again from May to the end of July, vigable for vessels of all descriptions. when the summer commences, and On the contrary, when the navigator continues to December. The sun is first makes this land, it appears to twice vertical here, the 20th of April, him as forming a part of Terra Fir- and the 20th of August. It is but liima. Possibly it might have been so tle felt the first time, owing to the formerly. At present it is only sepa- rains, by which the earth is so moistrated from it by a river, or strait, ened and cooled. Its return, however, which rises and falls with every tide, gives about six weeks of fine weather, and which can be only navigated by which dries up the ground a little boats, or vessels of very little bur- but the fickleness of these climates then,
ollen deceives the planters, who The greatest breadth of the island would be able to reap two abundant of Cayenne, measured on a line run- crops, if the summers and winters ning from east to west, is four were regular. Europeans will smile Jeagues, or twelve English miles ; at hearing of summer and winter in its greatest length from north to the gorrid zone.. The sumnter is a scorching sun, which, for several The new town is more regular, months, is only refreshed by a sort more lively, although built in the of breeze, which blows constantly same style, on a Savanna, or mar. from the east, or north-east, during shy meadow, drained about fifteen or the day. This wind comes from the twenty years ago ; the whole, taken sea, and gets the better of the land together, is less considerable than a breeze. This latter is only felt on the large village in France. The houses coast at certain hours, almost always appear empty, or, for the most part, morning and evening, just at sunrise occupied by people of colour, who and at sunset.
have nothing, do nothing, trouble The winter is one continued fall of themselves about nothing, and who rain, so heavy and abundant, as often live more at their ease than our re10 inundate whole plantations, and spectable tradesmen in France, whom cover them entirely with a sheet of the sun never shines upon in bed, and water. The rain sometimes falls for who labour hard all day. Here every fifteen days successively, without the one sells, exchanges, buys, and reslightest intermission. It was this sells the same thing again ; every which made the Abbe Raynal say, thing is almost at the price of its that the shore, where the colony of own weight in gold, and every one 1763, had disembarked, was a land procures it without scarcely knowing under water. The winter is some- how. This paradox is very easily times, however, dry and warm ; then understood, when we come to know the plants and the trees wither; the the colonies. Those who inhabit them, north wind, with its dry, cokl, ni- spend with profusion the money they irous breath, burns and parches up acquire without trouble; their indothe flowers, fruits, and tender buds: lence is so great, that sooner than insuch is the north wind of warm cli- commode themselves, they will pay mates, more destructive than a
a servant to pluck the fruits which scorching sun in a dry summer in are under their hands, and another Europe.
to carry them to their mouths. Those The old town of Cayenne has a who arrive from Europe pay for all; Very miserable appearance; the
and when vessels are delayed, and do houses are nothing more than not arrive at the usual time, the wretched cabins, with sashes without famine becomes general without glass; a heap of buildings, erected, alarming any person. or rather huddled together, without Population. There are as many art or taste; sloping streets, dirty different races of men here, as there and narrow; and paved, one would are distinctions under a monarchy. suppose, from the pain we felt in The whites, or planters, who differ walking through them, with the points from the Europeans by their light of bayonets. In place of carriages hair, their pale and sometimes leadand phaetons, old sorry looking jacies, like countenances; the negroes, by the more lean and wretched than the shades more or less grounded in their aniinals which drag our hackney skins, of bronze, of ebony, or a redcoaches, seven or eight fastened to a dish copper, approaching to a sort of vehicle meant for a cart, drag slow- brownish red. The mixture of all ly along some barrels of salt beef or these colours gives a race of people fish. In the old town, houses of two Rot unlike the jacket of harlequin. stories high are palaces; and stores,
An Indian and a white woman will which are let out for eight or ten have a child, whose skin is of a redthousand francs per annum (from dish white. A negro and an Indian 350 to 450 pounds British) as maga- woman, one of a copper hue, tinged zines for the different productions of with brown. A white man and a nethe colonies, or of Europe.
gress, a muịatto. A mulatto and a
white woman, a mestee. A mestee and roucou. --The sugar-cane originally a white, a quadroon. Each species came from Asia, whence it was carhas its various shades of singularity, ried to Europe, and the island of Ma. and often partakes of the influence deira. This latter place furnished a of their country. The Indian has all part of what the Europeans brought the cunning, the jealousy, and the into America. There are two sorts; ferocity, of the wandering tribes of the one yellow, the other violet. The the three Arabias.
last sort was cultivated here by the the idle, crafty, malicious, yet shall Indians, before we discovered the low and confined ideas of the savages New World. North America proof Africa. The others spring from duces a tree not unlike our maple, the mixture of the different races, from which sugar is obtained by mawith the vices of the climate, and the king incisions in it. The process of stupidity of their ancestors ; indeed, curing it is much less expensive than it is a matter of doubt, whether it that from the cane ; it is tapped twice were not to be wished, that there a year, and yields a white agreeable were more blacks than those half. sugar, but less solid than that from whites in our colonies.
the cane. That part of Cayenne which is on The cotton tree is a shrub, which the continent is hut partially cultiva- the planters are obliged to keep in a ted. The principal plantations are dwarfish state, in order to render it there ; but they are situated at a more productive. It is not certain, great distance from each other. The whether it is a natural plant of the post of Synnamari owes its name to country. It is not to be met with in a fountain about two leagues to the the woods of Guiana ; and yet before
; southeast, near the river, remark. our discovery, the Indians cultivated able for the salubrity of its waters. it to make hammocks and other arThere formerly was a hospital there; ticles. The leaf is broad, octagonal, but it does not now exist. Synnamari smooth, and soft, on the inside, and is at the northwest extremity of a a little woolly on the out. The flower large Savanna of 15 or 16 miles long, is of a beautiful yellow, shaped like and eight or ten wide. It consists of a bell, and not unlike that of our 15 or 16 huts, the melancholy re- gourd or pumpkin. When the flower mains of the colony of 1763. Kona- falls off, a large pod, something in mana, the place allotted for the ba- the shape of an egg, appears, which nished deputies and others, is six contains the cotton and the seed. leagues further on. Some merchants When this egg is fully grown, the of Rouen landed there in 1626. The heat opens it, and it shows four or shore, from which the sea has retir. five small black grains about the ed full two leagues and a half, was of our vetches; from this grain is then under water almost to the moun. made an oil. The cattle are very fond tains. The Konamana appeared to of them, and will often destroy the them a proper situation to found a fences to get at them. The cotton colony, Cayenne and its environs tree bears in a year. It gives two being then peopled only by savages. crops annually; but that of the month
. They settled upon the summit of the of March, which is but trifting, is rocks, in order to carry on a war frequently destroyed by the caterpilagainst the Indians. At the end of lars, which always spring up after three weeks, three-fourths of them the first rains. The cotton of Cayenne were carried off by pestilential fe- is more esteemed in trade than that vers, and the remainder got on board of other colonies, äs much from its, their vessels, and set sail for France. superiour quality, as from the care
The chief productions of Cayenne they bestow upon its culture. are sugar, coffee, cotton, indigo, The origin of the discovery of cof
fee, and the transportation of it from but in that which is good. As there Arabia into Europe and America, is is but little of the latter in the colony, thus related. It is said, that a flock there are but few coffee plantations of sheep having discovered a wood of any extent. The trees being plantof coffee trees, loaded with the ber- ed, and attended to, with all the care ries full ripe, began to browse upon which this sort of culture requires, them, and that very evening the thrive as well as those of the Dutch shepherd was surprised to see his at Surinam and Demera; but the flocks returning home to the fold, quality of the coffee is inferiour. frisking and leaping. He followed Towards the summit of the mounthem; tasted the berries ; found him- tains, the cocoa tree extends its scatself more lightsome and cheerful; tered branches; and, under its large and was surprised to find the same leaves, conceals its brown fruit, surflavour in the kernel as in the pulp rounded with a soft, pulpy sap, enof the fruit. He dried and roasted closed in a spherical, streaked kind of some of them; smelt the perfume, cap. There is reason to believe the and related his discovery to a Mor. cocoa is a native of Guiana ; at least, lack, or priest, who took it to prevent it is certain, that a forest of it, of conhis falling asleep during his long me- siderable extent, is known here. It is ditations. The use of coffee soon situated beyond the sources of the passed from Asia to Africa, Europe, Oyapok, on the borders of a branch of and to both the worlds. The Dutch the Yari, which runs into the river of succeeded in raising the plants in the Amazons. It is generally believ. Europe in hot houses ; and having ed, that the species of cocoa cultivashared them with France, these sorts ted in the colony originally came from of magazines furnished the first seeds this forest, because the natural in. which were sent to America. The habitants of the country, settled on Island of Martinique got hers from the banks of the Oyapok, made seve. the Botanical Garden at Paris ; but ral journeys to this part, either for if we are to believe a tradition pretty the sake of visiting other nations, or generally known, those of Cayenne when they sent expressly, to bring were brought from Surinam. It is the seeds of cocoa, when the price of said, that some soldiers of the gar. this article could easily support the rison having deserted, and gone over expenses of these journeys, which to the Dutch colony, soon repented were never much to these people. of their fault, and wishing to return Indigo thrives very well in some to their colours, they brought to the parts of the colony, more especially government of Cayenne some grains on the borders of the river Appro. of coffee, which then began to be culo - nague, where the soil is dry and rich. tivated in the colony of Surinam; These is a sort of wild indigo, which that they obtained their pardon in naturalists call Anil, which grows consequence of the service they without cultivation, at a little dis. thereby rendered to Cayenne, and tance from the sea. It is celebrated the great advantages she would de- for its medicinal qualities, and is rive from its culture. It is also said, much used in all complaints of a bilthat this happened so late as the lious nature. years 1715 or 1716, when Mons. de
The Roucou yields four harvests la Motte Aigron was commander in in the year. It fears neither caterchief.
pillars for worms, which make such The coffee of Cayenne is of an ex- havock amongst the canes and cotton. cellent quality. It thrives in all lands Nothing but the heaviest rains ever which are in an elevated situation. injures it, or makes it shed. The tree It very soon degenerates in a poor which produces the roucou is always zoil, and never arrives at persection loaded with fruit and flowers. Its leaf
resembles our winter pear tree ; its both from the Mauritius.-The clove Power, our hedge rose; its fruit, and cinnamon succeeded very well ; contained in a prickly husk, like our the other plants perished on the pashorse chesnut, is separated into two sage. For a considerable length of divisions of small seeds. A roucou time, the cultivation of these trees tree in full bearing, is a beautiful was prohibited to the colonists, which sight; but the gathering it, like the of course prevented their increase. indigo, is unhealthy. The roucou is This system having been abandoned, only cultivated in Guiana, by the In- the court sent several plants to St. dians, who stain their bodies with the Domingo and Martinique, in 1987, red colour they extract from it. The and 1788. At present, the governberries of the roucou are made into ment of Cayenne is occupied in ina paste, which is much used in co- creasing the spice gardens through louring different stuffs.--The vanilla the colony. In the latter end of 1798, likewise thrives here. It is a native it distributed a great quantity of seed, of the country. It is tall and luxuri- and several plants of cloves and cinant, like the vine. The fruit resembles namon to all the planters who asked the banana. The Indians alone culfor them; and the gardens of the tivate it, and make it an article of town offer to the view alleys of the commerce with the colonists.
mango growing beside the clove tree. All the tropical fruits and plants The strait which separates the are found in Guiana in abundance. island of Cayenne from the main, is The bread fruit and the mango, from about a mile and a half wide. There the East Indies, were introduced are but few villages on the main. Of some years ago, and have succeeded these the chief are Synnamari and well.
Konamana. The latter place was fixThe rivers abound with various ed upon for the residence of the unkinds of fish; but they are also infest. fortunate deputies, priests, and others, ed with swarms of alligators or cro- who were transported under the sancodiles, as large as those of the Nile. guinary decrees of the revolutionary They are so voracious, that they scru- tyrants. It is a wretched village, conple not to attack boats, and often drag sisting of a few húts, or Indian kar. away the fisherman and his lines. bets, in a remote desert situation, Some of them are full thirty feet in surrounded with almost impenetrable length, and, as the interiour of the forests, and distant about 90 miles country is but little known, it is pro- from Cayenne. From this place the bable there are much larger ones. celebrated senator Barthelemi, ex
The forests abound with animals director; generals Pichegru, Willot, and wild beasts of every description. Ramel, and five others, made their Tigers are very numerous, and often
escape, through the woods, to Suritake off cattle from the plantations. nam, in 1799, from whence they got Man has many enemies on this great to Barbadoes, where they were furcontinent; and amongst them 'ser- nished with a passage to Europe by pents of an enormous size. Were I
the British government. The cele. to relate what many people of the brated Collot d'Herbois, well known colony have told as facts, relative to in the bloody annals of the revolution these reptiles, few would believe me. for his cruelties and murders, died
In the year 1773, the court of here. When he was taken ill, the surFrance determined to establish a spice geon, who was appointed to attend garden at Cayenne, and caused a the exiles, asked what was his com. number of various plants to be brought plaint--6 I have a fever, and a burna there from India. Two other expe- ing ferspiration.". I believe it wellditions followed in 1784 and in 1788, You pershire with guilt and crimes,"