Jacquemel, Haiti

Saturday 28 – this morning abreast of Alta Vela, after passing which we had very strong breezes and furious squalls. Coast in sight of immense height, with the tops of the mountains visible far above the clouds, which threaded their bases and middle. Just as we approached Jacquemel, the wind fell light, and prevented us from coming to anchor till 10 minutes past 3 P.M. when the Captain and passengers went on shore with the Mail, leaving self and brother officers to come off afterwards. At 4.40 P.M. we went on shore. No change has taken place for the better in the town, since I was here last, nor is there any likelihood of this being the case, until some miracle shall be worked to instil a love of improvement and a desire to labour in a country where a love of idleness & an inveterate languor pervades all classes of people.

Jacquemel Town – Soldiers

We took a long walk thro’ the Town, and down by the river side, whence the view was beautiful. The streets are not much to be commended for their excellent pavements, and the labour of ascending some of the steeps with their jagged stones and deep ruts would hardly be compensated by the beauty and magnificence of the scenery, which the eminences opened up to you. I have still the same opinion, as I previously had, of the quietness and orderliness of the people. Robbers are seldom heard of and assassinations never – but then the lesser vices, in the world’s estimation, are as generally and as eagerly pursued and among the most immoral of nations. Hence the true Religion does not flourish, much less exercise any beneficial influence, by its moral precepts. Superstition approaching in grossness to paganism, or unreligion, otherwise miscalled liberal principles divide the vulgar and the noble “hommes de couleur.”

We met two or three parties of soldiers on our return. Each was preceded by a band playing, in my opinion not amiss. All the soldiers had swords by their sides, sheer bayonets fixed, and their guns held in one position, except one or two, who when the order was given, shewed by their mistakes that they were not quite au fait to the business. It was with difficulty that I refrained from laughing, when as we stopped and looked at them passing by, those who mistook right for left, – shoulder arms for ground arms, were warned by a knudge with the elbow to correct this error. But I did restrain myself, lest my exclamation should give offence, as I could not help remarking how scowlingly we were looked upon by the black niggers miscalled soldiers – abominable libels upon the character – unsightly deformities of a perfect piece.

Uniformity was not much attended to. Blue coats with red facings all had – but there was a lamentable difference in the dye, plainly showing that some had seen much longer and much harder service than others, and producing a pleasing contrariety of light and deep blues. Their hats in general were pretty uniform, and where they either had no proper one or had mislaid it, a common one supplied its place as well. Their guns were indeed uniform, for they were uniformly dirty and a disgrace to soldiers. Some had white trousers – some blue – some brown &.c Some out of vanity wore stockings, while others out of comfort went without. The officers of these heroes were pretty well matched with their men. Their coats and Trousers were whole – at least I did not observe a single hole in any one altho’ I was wholly intent in examining them. The cocked hats were of course intended by the Maker to have had two similar corners – but unfortunately the rats, or some other mischance had rendered them minus one, & the embroidery of their dress & their epaulets were without exception tarnished to a dirty copper colour. Regulation Swords are no go here – and a highland broadsword is as equally useful with a foil or a bread-toaster. One would think that of all their lamentable deficiencies they are deeply sensible, and could hardly hold up their heads for very shame. Never were you more mistaken in your life. In them, it is as in the world – the fewest personal or intellectual advantages a man has to value himself upon, the more pride, and self satisfaction. These pigmies swelled out in their deportment into giants and heroes – Ted ohe jam satis  I was tired out and disgusted with the sight & shall move as fast as my legs will carry me from such specimens of vain glory only mentioning that I saw the commanding officer, in a splendid second-hand scarlet coat, which nothing but vanity could have made him wear as it was not the national uniform.

From walking so much in the sun, we were dreadfully fatigued, and felt glad when we recognised an old acquaintance, M.Lorie the American Doctor, whom I mentioned before. In his house we remained half an hour – had a glass of grog – learned that he was married & had two children – that he was in high odeur for skill &. and at last left him for M.Friths’s where I dined along with our passengers, the Master and Captain being on board. At 10 P.M. with very much pleasure repaired on board our own craft, and felt as if indeed I had returned to my own proper home.

Sunday 29th April – in consequence of the sea breeze of yesterday continuing till very early this morning, we did not get under weigh until 5 A.M. when we had a moderate land wind. This died away at 8 and we had a calm till half past 10, when [the] Doctor came in and continue fresh all day – variable weather.

Monday 30th – fresh and favourable breeze – pleasant weather. At 5 P.M. saw East end of Jamaica, distance 20 miles.

Read on … Port Royal, Jamaica