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114

SOULOUQUE.

CHAPTER VIII.

JAMAICA-EMPEROR SOULOUQUE.

We all remember the day when Mr. Smith landed at Newhaven and took up his abode quietly at the inn there Poor Mr. Smith! In the ripeness of time he has betaken himself a stage further on his long journey, traveling now probably without disguise, either that of a citizen King or of a citizen Smith.

And now, following his illustrious example, the exEmperor Soulouque has sought the safety always to be found on English territories by sovereigns out of place. In January, 1859, his Highness landed at Kingston, Jamaica, having made his town of Port au Prince and his kingdom of Hayti somewhat too hot to hold him.

All the world probably knows that King Soulouque is a black man.

One blacker never endured the meridian heat of a tropical sun.

The Island, which was christened Hispaniola by Columbus, has resumed its ancient name of Hayti. It is, however, divided into two kingdoms—two republics one may now say. That to the east is generally called St. Domingo, having borrowed the name given by Columbus to a town. This is by far the larger, but at the same time the poorer division of the island. That to the west is now called Hayti, and over this territory Soulouque reigned as emperor. He reigned as emperor, and was so styled, having been elected as President; in which little change in his state he has been imitated by a neighbor of ours with a success almost equal to his own.

SUCCESS OF SOULOUQUE.

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For some dozen years the success of Soulouque was very considerable. He has had a dominion which has been almost despotic; and has, so rumor says, invested some three or four hundred thousand pounds in European funds. In this latter point his imitator has, I fear, hardly equalled him.

But a higher ambition fired the bosom of Soulouque, and he sighed after the territories of his neighbors—not generously to bestow them on other kings, but that he might keep them on his own behoof. Soulouque desired to be emperor of the whole island, and he sounded his trumpet and prepared his arms. He called together his army, and put on the boots of Bombastes. He put on the boots of Bombastes and bade his men meet him—at the Barleymow or elsewhere.

But it seems that his men were slow in coming to the rendezvous. Nothing that Soulouque could say, nothing that he could do, no admonitions through his sternest government ministers, no reading of the mutiny act by his commanders and generals, would induce them actually to make an assault at arms. Then Soulouque was angry, and in his anger he maltreated his army. He put his men into pits, and kept them there without food; left them to be eaten by vermin—to be fed upon while they could not feed; and played, upon the whole, such a melodrama of autocratic tricks and fantasies as might have done honor to a white Nero. Then at last black human nature could endure no more, and Soulouque, dreading a pit for his own majesty, was forced to run.

In one respect he was more fortunate than Mr. Smith. In his dire necessity an English troop-ship was found to be at hand. The · Melbourne' was steaming home from Jamaica, and the officer in command having been appealed to for assistance, consented to return to Kingston with

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SOULOUQUE IN TROUBLE.

the royal suite. This she did, and on the 22nd of January, Soulouque, with his wife and daughter, his prime minister, and certain coal-black maids of honor, was landed at the quays.

When under the ægis of British protection, the exemperor was of course safe. But he had not exactly chosen a bed of roses for himself in coming to Jamaica. It might be probable that a bed of roses was not easily to be found at the moment. At Kingston there were col. lected many Haytians, who had either been banished by Soulouque in the plenitude of power, or had run from him as he was now running from his subjects.

There were many whose brothers and fathers had been destroyed in Hayti, whose friends had perished under the hands of the tyrant's executioner, for whom pits would have been prepared had they not vanished speedily. These refugees had sought safety also in Jamaica, and for them a day of triumph had now arrived. They were not the men to allow an opportunity for triumph to pass without enjoy

ing it.

These were mostly brown men—men of a mixed race; men, and indeed women also. · With Soulouque and his government such had found no favor. He had been glad to welcome white residents in his kingdom, and of course had rejoiced in having black men as his subjects. But of the colored people he had endeavored in every way to rid himself. He had done so to a great extent, and many

of them were now ready to welcome him at Kingston.

Kingston does not rejoice in public equipages of much pretensions; nor are there to be hired many carriages fit for the conveyance of royalty, even in its decadence Two small, wretched vehicles were however procured, such as ply in the streets there, and carry passengers to the Spanish Town railway at sixpence a head. In one of

SOULOUQUE IN TROUBLE.

117

these sat Soulouque and his wife, with a British officer on the box beside the driver, and with two black policemen hanging behind. In another, similarly guarded, were packed the Countess Olive—that being the name of the ex-emperor's daughter-and her attendants. And thus traveling by different streets they made their way to their hotel.

One would certainly have wished, in despite of those wretched pits, that they had been allowed to do so without annoyance; but such was not the case. The banished Haytians, had it not in their philosophy to abstain from triumphing on a fallen enemy. They surrounded the carriages with a dusky cloud, and received the fugitives with howls of self-congratulation at their abasement. Nor was this all. When the royal party was duly lodged at the Date-Tree tavern, the ex-Haytians lodged themselves opposite. There they held a dignity ball in token of their joy; and for three days maintained their position in order that poor Soulouque might witness their rejoicings.

“They have said a mass over him, the wretched being !” said the landlady of my hotel to me, triumphantly.

· Said a mass over him ?"

Yes, the black nigger_king, indeed ! said a mass over him 'cause he's down. Thank God for that! And pray God keep him so. Him king indeed, the black nig

All which could not have been comfortable for poor Soulouque.

The royal party had endeavored in the first instance to take up their quarters at this lady's hotel, or lodginghouse, as they are usually called. But the patriotic sister of Mrs. Seacole would listen to no such proposition. I won't keep a house for black men,” she said to me. “ As for kings, I would despise myself to have a black

ger!”

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king. As for that black beast and his black womenBah!Now this was certainly magnanimous, for Soulouque would have been prepared to pay well for his accommodation. But the ordinary contempt which the colored people have for negroes was heightened in this case by the presumption of black royalty-perhaps also by loyalty. “Queen Victoria is my king,” said Mrs. Seacole's sister.

I must confess that I endeavored to excite her loyalty rather than her compassion. A few friends were to dine with me that day; and where would have been my turtle soup had Soulouque and his suite taken possession of the house ?

The deposed tyrant when he left Hayti, published a short manifesto, in which he set forth that he, Faustin the First, having been elected by the free suffrages of his fellow-countrymen, had endeavored to govern them well, actuated by a pure love of his country; that he had remained at his post as long as his doing so had been pleasing to his countrymen; but that now, having discovered by sure symptoms that his countrymen desired to see him no longer on the throne, he voluntarily and immediately abdicated his seat. From henceforth he could only wish well to the prosperity of Hayti. Free suffrages of his people! Ah,

me !

Such farces strike us but as farces when Hayti and such like lands are concerned.

But when they come nearer to us they are very sad.

Soulouque is a stout, hale man, apparently of sixtyfive or sixty-eight years of age. It is difficult to judge of the expression of a black man's face unless it be very plainly seen ; but it appeared to me to be by no means repulsive. He has been, I believe, some twelve years Emperor of Hayti, and as he has escaped with wealth he cannot be said to have been unfortunate.

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