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Historical Notes St Vincent and the Grenadines

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Adventures in the Wars of the Republic and the Consulate by Alexandre Moreau De Jonnes.

StVincent

“I saw the last days of the last race of indigenous inhabitants of the American Archipelago, a race which dared above all others to stand up against the Spanish conquerors without fear of their men-of-war and the invincible superiority of their arms, the same that struggled through three centuries to defend its country and independence…{{more}}

As we drew near the bank we saw emerging from an entrance closed in with rocks and shaded by trees a large war canoe, manned by sixty rowers. It was the chief of the Red Caribs who came officially to receive me…He addressed me, and himself directed the schooner to the port which is where we were to stay and rest under his protection… In the middle of the village was a communal house containing an assembly-hall at least 80 feet long; there I found gathered together the chiefs and warriors of the two tribes, the Red and the Black Caribs… at the end of my conference with the Red and Black Caribs I found I had for company a little girl of ten and a spaniel…Her name was Zami and she had spent a year at the convent of St.Pierre with Eliama (daughter of the Red Carib Chief)… Eliama (daughter of the Red Carib Chief) …had left Martinique with her old attendant in a canoe, which had been stopped by the English frigate; she had been summoned on board and detained there on deck, the storm had sprung up, and taking advantage of it, she had seized a boarding-axe and cut the tiller lines. This resulted in throwing the vessel up into the wind and in the confusion she and her attendant had sprung into the rigging and jumped overboard.

When at length the chief of the Reds was free to visit the scene of the shipwreck, we hurried to it. The sea, breaking furiously over the frigate hedged on the rocks, had demolished and flooded half of it; part of the crew, including the captain, had been washed overboard and drowned; the others clung to the after-part, washed by each mountainous wave. As if the cup of these wretches was not full enough, the Black Caribs had scaled the rocky peak at the foot of which the vessel lay, and with their bows were shooting the sailors. I at once pointed out to their chief that they would have to pay dearly for their pleasure in killing these men, and guaranteed that if they were made prisoners Victor Hugues would pay for each head in gunpowder and best brandy. My efforts were successful. The Caribs, having now changed their ideas and come to regard the existence of each enemy as of value to them, made every effort to save them from the wreck. Their humanity was carried so far that in the case of sick or wounded, unable to trust themselves alone to the traveller between the ship and the shore, the black warriors went at their own peril on board the wreck and brought them off unhurt…”

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