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At Last by Charles Kingsley

CHAPTER IX: SAN JOSEF

The road to the ancient capital of the island is pleasant enough, and characteristic of the West Indies. Not, indeed, as to its breadth, make, and material, for they, contrary to the wont of West India roads, are as good as they would be in England, but on account of the quaint travellers along it, and the quaint sights which are to be seen over every hedge. You pass all the races of the island going to and from town or field-work, or washing clothes in some clear brook, beside which a solemn Chinaman sits catching for his dinner strange fishes, known to my learned friend, Dr. Gunther, and perhaps to one or two other men in Europe; but certainly not to me. Always somebody or something new and strange is to be seen, for eight most pleasant miles.

The road runs at first along a low cliff foot, with an ugly Mangrove swamp, looking just like an alder-bed at home, between you and the sea; a swamp which it would be worth while to drain by a steam-pump, and then plant with coconuts or bamboos; for its miasma makes the southern corner of Port of Spain utterly pestilential. You cross a railroad, the only one in the island, which goes to a limestone quarry, and so out along a wide straight road, with negro cottages right and left, embowered in fruit and flowers. They grow fewer and finer as you ride on; and soon you are in open country, principally of large paddocks. These paddocks, like all West Indian ones, are apt to be ragged with weeds and scrub. But the coarse broad-leaved grasses seem to keep the mules in good condition enough, at least in the rainy season. Most of these paddocks have, I believe, been under cane cultivation at some time or other; and have been thrown into grass during the period of depression dating from 1845. It has not been worth while, as yet, to break them up again, though the profits of sugar-farming are now, or at least ought to be, very large. But the soil along this line is originally poor and sandy; and it is far more profitable to break up the rich vegas, or low alluvial lands, even at the trouble of clearing them of forest. So these paddocks are left, often with noble trees standing about in them, putting one in mind -- if it were not for the Palmistes and Bamboos and the crowd of black vultures over an occasional dead animal -- of English parks.

But few English parks have such backgrounds. To the right, the vast southern flat, with its smoking engine-house chimneys and bright green cane-pieces, and, beyond all, the black wall of the primeval forest; and to the left, some half mile off, the steep slopes of the green northern mountains blazing in the sun, and sending down, every two or three miles, out of some charming glen, a clear pebbly brook, each winding through its narrow strip of vega. The vega is usually a highly cultivated cane-piece, where great lizards sit in the mouths of their burrows, and watch the passer by with intense interest. Coolies and Negroes are at work in it: but only a few; for the strength of the hands is away at the engine-house, making sugar day and night. There is a piece of cane in act of being cut. The men are hewing down the giant grass with cutlasses; the women stripping off the leaves, and then piling the cane in carts drawn by mules, the leaders of which draw by rope traces two or three times as long as themselves. You wonder why such a seeming waste of power is allowed, till you see one of the carts stick fast in a mud-hole, and discover that even in the West Indies there is a good reason for everything, and that the Creoles know their own business best. For the wheelers, being in the slough with the cart, are powerless; but the leaders, who have scrambled through, are safe on dry land at the end of their long traces, and haul out their brethren, cart and all, amid the yells, and I am sorry to say blows, of the black gentlemen in attendance. But cane cutting is altogether a busy, happy scene. The heat is awful, and all limbs rain perspiration: yet no one seems to mind the heat; all look fat and jolly; and they have cause to do so, for all, at every spare moment, are sucking sugar-cane.

You pull up, and take off your hat to the party. The Negroes shout, 'Marnin', sa!' The Coolies salaam gracefully, hand to forehead. You return the salaam, hand to heart, which is considered the correct thing on the part of a superior in rank; whereat the Coolies look exceedingly pleased; and then the whole party, without visible reason, burst into shouts of laughter.

The manager rides up, probably under an umbrella, as you are, and a pleasant and instructive chat follows, wound up, usually, if the house be not far off, by an invitation to come in and have a light drink; an invitation which, considering the state of the thermometer, you will be tempted to accept, especially as you know that the claret and water will be excellent. And so you dawdle on, looking at this and that new and odd sight, but most of all feasting your eyes on the beauty of the northern mountains, till you reach the gentle rise on which stands, eight miles from Port of Spain, the little city of San Josef. We should call it, here in England, a village: still, it is not every village in England which has fought the Dutch, and earned its right to be called a city by beating some of the bravest sailors of the seventeenth century. True, there is not a single shop in it with plate-glass windows: but what matters that, if its citizens have all that civilised people need, and more, and will heap what they have on the stranger so hospitably that they almost pain him by the trouble which they take? True, no carriages and pairs, with powdered footmen, roll about the streets; and the most splendid vehicles you are likely to meet are American buggies -- four-wheeled gigs with heads, and aprons through which the reins can be passed in wet weather. But what matters that, as long as the buggies keep out sun and rain effectually, and as long as those who sit in them be real gentlemen, and those who wait for them at home, whether in the city, or the estates around, be real ladies? As for the rest -- peace, plenty, perpetual summer, time to think and read -- (for there are no daily papers in San Josef) -- and what can man want more on earth? So I thought more than once, as I looked at San Josef nestling at the mouth of its noble glen, and said to myself, -- If the telegraph cable were but laid down the islands, as it will be in another year or two, and one could hear a little more swiftly and loudly the beating of the Great Mother's heart at home, then would San Josef be about the most delectable spot which I have ever seen for a cultivated and civilised man to live, and work, and think, and die in.

San Josef has had, nevertheless, its troubles and excitements more than once since it defeated the Dutch. Even as late as 1837, it was, for a few hours, in utter terror and danger from a mutiny of free black recruits. No one in the island, civil or military, seems to have been to blame for the mishap. It was altogether owing to the unwisdom of military authorities at home, who seem to have fancied that they could transform, by a magical spurt of the pen, heathen savages into British soldiers.

The whole tragedy -- for tragedy it was -- is so curious, and so illustrative of the negro character, and of the effects of the slave trade, that I shall give it at length, as it stands in that clever little History of Trinidad, by M. Thomas, which I have quoted more than once: --

'Donald Stewart, or rather Daaga, {170} was the adopted son of Madershee, the old and childless king of the tribe called Paupaus, a race that inhabit a tract of country bordering on that of the Yarrabas. These races are constantly at war with each other.

'Daaga was just the man whom a savage, warlike, and depredatory tribe would select for their chieftain, as the African Negroes choose their leaders with reference to their personal prowess. Daaga stood six feet six inches without shoes. Although scarcely muscular in proportion, yet his frame indicated in a singular degree the union of irresistible strength and activity. His head was large; his features had all the peculiar traits which distinguish the Negro in a remarkable degree; his jaw was long, eyes large and protruded, high cheek-bones, and flat nose; his teeth were large and regular. He had a singular cast in his eyes, not quite amounting to that obliquity of the visual organs denominated a squint, but sufficient to give his features a peculiarly forbidding appearance;- -his forehead, however, although small in proportion to his enormous head, was remarkably compact and well formed. The whole head was disproportioned, having the greater part of the brain behind the ears; but the greatest peculiarity of this singular being was his voice. In the course of my life I never heard such sounds uttered by human organs as those formed by Daaga. In ordinary conversation he appeared to me to endeavour to soften his voice -- it was a deep tenor; but when a little excited by any passion (and this savage was the child of passion) his voice sounded like the low growl of a lion, but when much excited it could be compared to nothing so aptly as the notes of a gigantic brazen trumpet.

'I repeatedly questioned this man respecting the religion of his tribe. The result of his answers led me to infer that the Paupaus believed in the existence of a future state; that they have a confused notion of several powers, good and evil, but these are ruled by one supreme being called Holloloo. This account of the religion of Daaga was confirmed by the military chaplain who attended him in his last moments. He also informed me that he believed in predestination; -- at least he said that Holloloo, he knew, had ordained that he should come to white man's country and be shot.

'Daaga, having made a successful predatory expedition into the country of the Yarrabas, returned with a number of prisoners of that nation. These he, as usual, took, bound and guarded, towards the coast to sell to the Portuguese. The interpreter, his countryman, called these Portuguese white gentlemen. The white gentlemen proved themselves more than a match for the black gentlemen; and the whole transaction between the Portuguese and Paupaus does credit to all concerned in this gentlemanly traffic in human flesh.

'Daaga sold his prisoners; and under pretence of paying him, he and his Paupau guards were enticed on board a Portuguese vessel; -- they were treacherously overpowered by the Christians, who bound them beside their late prisoners, and the vessel sailed over |the great salt water.|

'This transaction caused in the breast of the savage a deep hatred against all white men -- a hatred so intense that he frequently, during and subsequent to the mutiny, declared he would eat the first white man he killed; yet this cannibal was made to swear allegiance to our Sovereign on the Holy Evangelists, and was then called a British soldier.

'On the voyage the vessel on board which Daaga had been entrapped was captured by the British. He could not comprehend that his new captors liberated him: he had been over reached and trepanned by one set of white men, and he naturally looked on his second captors as more successful rivals in the human, or rather inhuman, Guinea trade; therefore this event lessened not his hatred for white men in the abstract.

'I was informed by several of the Africans who came with him that when, during the voyage, they upbraided Daaga with being the cause of their capture, he pacified them by promising that when they should arrive in white man's country, he would repay their perfidy by attacking them in the night. He further promised that if the Paupaus and the Yarrabas would follow him, he would fight his way back to Guinea. This account was fully corroborated by many of the mutineers, especially those who were shot with Daaga: they all said the revolt never would have happened but for Donald Stewart, as he was called by the officers; but Africans who were not of his tribe called him Longa-longa, on account of his height.

'Such was this extraordinary man, who led the mutiny I am about to relate.

'A quantity of captured Africans having been brought hither from the islands of Grenada and Dominica, they were most imprudently induced to enlist as recruits in the 1st West India Regiment. True it is, we have been told they did this voluntarily: but, it may be asked, if they had any will in the matter, how could they understand the duties to be imposed on them by becoming soldiers, or how comprehend the nature of an oath of allegiance? without which they could not, legally speaking, be considered as soldiers. I attended the whole of the trials of these men, and well know how difficult it was to make them comprehend any idea which was at all new to them by means of the best interpreters procurable.

'It has been said that by making those captured Negroes soldiers, a service was rendered them: this I doubt. Formerly it was most true that a soldier in a black regiment was better off than a slave; but certainly a free African in the West Indies now is infinitely in a better situation than a soldier, not only in a pecuniary point of view, but in almost every other respect.

'To the African savage, while being drilled into the duties of a soldier, many things seem absolute tyranny which would appear to a civilised man a mere necessary restraint. To keep the restless body of an African Negro in a position to which he has not been accustomed -- to cramp his splay-feet, with his great toes standing out, into European shoes made for feet of a different form -- to place a collar round his neck, which is called a stock, and which to him is cruel torture -- above all, to confine him every night to his barracks -- are almost insupportable. One unacquainted with the habits of the Negro cannot conceive with what abhorrence he looks on having his disposition to nocturnal rambles checked by barrack regulations. {172}

'Formerly the |King's man,| as the black soldier loved to call himself, looked (not without reason) contemptuously on the planter's slave, although he himself was after all but a slave to the State: but these recruits were enlisted shortly after a number of their recently imported countrymen were wandering freely over the country, working either as free labourers, or settling, to use an apt American phrase, as squatters; and to assert that the recruit, while under military probation, is better off than the free Trinidad labourer, who goes where he lists and earns as much in one day as will keep him for three days, is an absurdity. Accordingly we find that Lieutenant-Colonel Bush, who commanded the 1st West India Regiment, thought that the mutiny was mainly owing to the ill advice of their civil, or, we should rather say, unmilitary countrymen. This, to a certain degree, was the fact: but, by the declaration of Daaga and many of his countrymen, it is evident the seeds of mutiny were sown on the passage from Africa.

'It has been asserted that the recruits were driven to mutiny by hard treatment of their commanding officers. There seems not the slightest truth in this assertion; they were treated with fully as much kindness as their situation would admit of, and their chief was peculiarly a favourite of Colonel Bush and the officers, notwithstanding Daaga's violent and ferocious temper often caused complaints to be brought against him.

'A correspondent of the Naval and Military Gazette was under an apprehension that the mutineers would be joined by the praedial apprentices of the circumjacent estates: not the slightest foundation existed for this apprehension. Some months previous to this Daaga had planned a mutiny, but this was interrupted by sending a part of the Paupau and Yarraba recruits to St. Lucia. The object of all those conspiracies was to get back to Guinea, which they thought they could accomplish by marching to eastward.

'On the night of the 17th of June 1837, the people of San Josef were kept awake by the recruits, about 280 in number, singing the war- song of the Paupaus. This wild song consisted of a short air and chorus. The tone was, although wild, not inharmonious, and the words rather euphonious. As near as our alphabet can convey them, they ran thus: --

|Dangkarree
Au fey,
Oluu werrei,
Au lay,|

which may be rendered almost literally by the following couplet: --

Air by the chief: |Come to plunder, come to slay;| Chorus of followers: |We are ready to obey.|

'About three o'clock in the morning their war-song (highly characteristic of a predatory tribe) became very loud, and they commenced uttering their war-cry. This is different from what we conceive the Indian war-whoop to be: it seems to be a kind of imitation of the growl of wild beasts, and has a most thrilling effect.

'Fire now was set to a quantity of huts built for the accommodation of African soldiers to the northward of the barracks, as well as to the house of a poor black woman called Dalrymple. These burnt briskly, throwing a dismal glare over the barracks and picturesque town of San Josef, and overpowering the light of the full moon, which illumined a cloudless sky. The mutineers made a rush at the barrack-room, and seized on the muskets and fusees in the racks. Their leader, Daaga, and a daring Yarraba named Ogston instantly charged their pieces; the former of these had a quantity of ball- cartridges, loose powder, and ounce and pistol-balls, in a kind of gray worsted cap. He must have provided himself with these before the mutiny. How he became possessed of them, especially the pistol- balls, I never could learn; probably he was supplied by his unmilitary countrymen: pistol-balls are never given to infantry. Previous to this Daaga and three others made a rush at the regimental store-room, in which was deposited a quantity of powder. An old African soldier, named Charles Dickson, interfered to stop them, on which Maurice Ogston, the Yarraba chief, who had armed himself with a sergeant's sword, cut down the faithful African. When down Daaga said, in English, |Ah, you old soldier, you knock down.| Dixon was not Daaga's countryman, hence he could not speak to him in his own language. The Paupau then levelled his musket and shot the fallen soldier, who groaned and died. The war-yells, or rather growls, of the Paupaus and Yarrabas now became awfully thrilling, as they helped themselves to cartridges: most of them were fortunately blank, or without ball. Never was a premeditated mutiny so wild and ill planned. Their chief, Daaga, and Ogston seemed to have had little command of the subordinates, and the whole acted more like a set of wild beasts who had broken their cages than men resolved on war.

'At this period, had a rush been made at the officers' quarters by one half (they were more than 200 in number), and the other half surrounded the building, not one could have escaped. Instead of this they continued to shout their war-song, and howl their war- notes; they loaded their pieces with ball-cartridge, or blank cartridge and small stones, and commenced firing at the long range of white buildings in which Colonel Bush and his officers slept. They wasted so much ammunition on this useless display of fury that the buildings were completely riddled. A few of the old soldiers opposed them, and were wounded; but it fortunately happened that they were, to an inconceivable degree, ignorant of the right use of firearms -- holding their muskets in their hands when they discharged them, without allowing the butt-end to rest against their shoulders or any part of their bodies. This fact accounts for the comparatively little mischief they did in proportion to the quantity of ammunition thrown away.

'The officers and sergeant-major escaped at the back of the building, while Colonel Bush and Adjutant Bentley came down a little hill. The colonel commanded the mutineers to lay down their arms, and was answered by an irregular discharge of balls, which rattled amongst the leaves of a tree under which he and the adjutant were standing. On this Colonel Bush desired Mr. Bentley to make the best of his way to St. James's Barracks for all the disposable force of the 89th Regiment. The officers made good their retreat, and the adjutant got into the stable where his horse was. He saddled and bridled the animal while the shots were coming into the stable, without either man or beast getting injured. The officer mounted, but had to make his way through the mutineers before he could get into San Josef, the barracks standing on an eminence above the little town. On seeing the adjutant mounted, the mutineers set up a thrilling howl, and commenced firing at him. He discerned the gigantic figure of Daaga (alias Donald Stewart), with his musket at the trail: he spurred his horse through the midst of them; they were grouped, but not in line. On looking back he saw Daaga aiming at him; he stooped his head beside his horse's neck, and effectually sheltered himself from about fifty shots aimed at him. In this position he rode furiously down a steep hill leading from the barracks to the church, and was out of danger. His escape appears extraordinary: but he got safe to town, and thence to St. James's, and in a short time, considering it is eleven miles distant, brought out a strong detachment of European troops; these, however, did not arrive until the affair was over.

'In the meantime a part of the officers' quarters was bravely defended by two old African soldiers, Sergeant Merry and Corporal Plague. The latter stood in the gallery, near the room in which were the colours; he was ineffectually fired at by some hundreds, yet he kept his post, shot two of the mutineers, and, it is said, wounded a third. Such is the difference between a man acquainted with the use of firearms and those who handle them as mops are held.

'In the meantime Colonel Bush got to a police-station above the barracks, and got muskets and a few cartridges from a discharged African soldier who was in the police establishment. Being joined by the policemen, Corporal Craven {175} and Ensign Pogson, they concealed themselves on an eminence above, and as the mutineers (about 100 in number) approached, the fire of muskets opened on them from the little ambush. The little party fired separately, loading as fast as they discharged their pieces; they succeeded in making the mutineers change their route.

'It is wonderful what little courage the savages in general showed against the colonel and his little party; who absolutely beat them, although but a twenty-fifth of their number, and at their own tactics, i.e. bush fighting.

'A body of the mutineers now made towards the road to Maraccas, when the colonel and his three assistants contrived to get behind a silk- cotton tree, and recommenced firing on them. The Africans hesitated and set forward, when the little party continued to fire on them; they set up a yell, and retreated down the hill.

'A part of the mutineers now concealed themselves in the bushes about San Josef barracks. These men, after the affair was over, joined Colonel Bush, and with a mixture of cunning and effrontery smiled as though nothing had happened, and as though they were glad to see him; although, in general, they each had several shirts and pairs of trousers on preparatory for a start to Guinea, by way of Band de l'Est. {176a}

'In the meantime the San Josef militia were assembled, to the number of forty. Major Giuseppi, and Captain and Adjutant Rousseau, of the second division of militia forces, took command of them. They were in want of flints, powder, and balls -- to obtain these they were obliged to break open a merchant's store; however, the adjutant so judiciously distributed his little force as to hinder the mutineers from entering the town, or obtaining access to the militia arsenal, wherein there was a quantity of arms. Major Chadds and several old African soldiers joined the militia, and were by them supplied with arms.

'A good deal of skirmishing occurred between the militia and detached parties of the mutineers, which uniformly ended in the defeat of the latter. At length Daaga appeared to the right of a party of six, at the entrance of the town; they were challenged by the militia, and the mutineers fired on them, but without effect. Only two of the militia returned the fire, when all but Daaga fled. He was deliberately reloading his piece, when a militiaman, named Edmond Luce, leaped on the gigantic chief, who would have easily beat him off, although the former was a strong young man of colour: but Daaga would not let go his gun; and, in common with all the mutineers, he seemed to have no idea of the use of the bayonet. Daaga was dragging the militiaman away, when Adjutant Rousseau came to his assistance, and placed a sword to Daaga's breast. Doctor Tardy and several others rushed on the tall Negro, who was soon, by the united efforts of several, thrown down and secured. It was at this period that he repeatedly exclaimed, while he bit his own shoulder, |The first white man I catch after this I will eat him.| {176b}

'Meanwhile about sixteen of the mutineers, led by the daring Ogston, took the road to Arima; in order, as they said, to commence their march to Guinea: but fortunately the militia of that village, composed principally of Spaniards, Indians, and Sambos, assembled. A few of these met them and stopped their march. A kind of parley (if intercourse carried on by signs could be so called) was carried on between the parties. The mutineers made signs that they wished to go forward, while the few militiamen endeavoured to detain them, expecting a reinforcement momently. After a time the militia agreed to allow them to approach the town; as they were advancing they were met by the commandant, Martin Sorzano, Esq., with sixteen more militiamen. The commandant judged it imprudent to allow the Africans to enter the town with their muskets full cocked and poised ready to fire. An interpreter was now procured, and the mutineers were told that if they would retire to their barracks the gentlemen present would intercede for their pardon. The Negroes refused to accede to these terms, and while the interpreter was addressing some, the rest tried to push forward. Some of the militia opposed them by holding their muskets in a horizontal position, on which one of the mutineers fired, and the militia returned the fire. A melee commenced, in which fourteen mutineers were killed and wounded. The fire of the Africans produced little effect: they soon took to flight amid the woods which flanked the road. Twenty-eight of them were taken, amongst whom was the Yarraba chief, Ogston. Six had been killed, and six committed suicide by strangling and hanging themselves in the woods. Only one man was wounded amongst the militia, and he but slightly, from a small stone fired from a musket of one of the Yarrabas.

'The quantity of ammunition expended by the mutineers, and the comparatively little mischief done by them, was truly astonishing. It shows how little they understood the use of firearms. Dixon was killed, and several of the old African soldiers were wounded, but not one of the officers was in the slightest degree hurt.

'I have never been able to get a correct account of the number of lives this wild mutiny cost, but believe it was not less than forty, including those slain by the militia at Arima; those shot at San Josef; those who died of their wounds (and most of the wounded men died); the six who committed suicide; the three that were shot by sentence of the court-martial, and one who was shot while endeavouring to escape (Satchell).

'A good-looking young man, named Torrens, was brought as prisoner to the presence of Colonel Bush. The colonel wished to speak to him, and desired his guards to liberate him; on which the young savage shook his sleeve, in which was concealed a razor, made a rush at the colonel, and nearly succeeded in cutting his throat. He slashed the razor in all directions until he made an opening: he rushed through this; and, notwithstanding he was fired at, and I believe wounded, he effected his escape, was subsequently retaken, and again made his escape with Satchell, who after this was shot by a policeman.

'Torrens was retaken, tried, and recommended to mercy. Of this man's fate I am unable to speak, not knowing how far the recommendation to mercy was attended to. In appearance he seemed the mildest and best-looking of the mutineers, but his conduct was the most ferocious of any. The whole of the mutineers were captured within one week of the mutiny, save this man, who was taken a month after.

'On the 19th of July, Donald Stewart, otherwise Daaga, was brought to a court-martial. On the 21st William Satchell was tried. On the 22d a court-martial was held on Edward Coffin; and on the 24th one was held on the Yarraba chief, Maurice Ogston, whose country name was, I believe, Mawee. Torrens was tried on the 29th.

'The sentences of these courts-martial were unknown until the 14th of August, having been sent to Barbadoes in order to be submitted to the Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant-General Whittingham, who approved of the decision of the courts, which was that Donald Stewart (Daaga), Maurice Ogston, and Edward Coffin should suffer death by being shot, and that William Satchell should be transported beyond seas during the term of his natural life. I am unacquainted with the sentence of Torrens.

'Donald Stewart, Maurice Ogston, and Edward Coffin were executed on the 16th of August 1837, at San Josef Barracks. Nothing seemed to have been neglected which could render the execution solemn and impressive; the scenery and the weather gave additional awe to the melancholy proceedings. Fronting the little eminence where the prisoners were shot was the scene where their ill-concerted mutiny commenced. To the right stood the long range of building on which they had expended much of their ammunition for the purpose of destroying their officers. The rest of the panorama was made up of an immense view of forest below them, and upright masses of mountains above them. Over those, heavy bodies of mist were slowly sailing, giving a sombre appearance to the primeval woods which, in general, covered both mountains and plains. The atmosphere indicated an inter-tropical morning during the rainy season, and the sun shone resplendently between dense columns of clouds.

'At half-past seven o'clock the condemned men asked to be allowed to eat a hearty meal, as they said persons about to be executed in Guinea were always indulged with a good repast. It is remarkable that these unhappy creatures ate most voraciously, even while they were being brought out of their cell for execution.

'A little before the mournful procession commenced, the condemned men were dressed from head to foot in white habiliments trimmed with black; their arms were bound with cords. This is not usual in military executions, but was deemed necessary on the present occasion. An attempt to escape, on the part of the condemned, would have been productive of much confusion, and was properly guarded against.

'The condemned men displayed no unmanly fear. On the contrary, they steadily kept step to the Dead March which the band played; yet the certainty of death threw a cadaverous and ghastly hue over their black features, while their singular and appropriate costume, and the three coffins being borne before them, altogether rendered it a frightful picture: hence it was not to be wondered at that two of the European soldiers fainted.

'The mutineers marched abreast. The tall form and horrid looks of Daaga were almost appalling. The looks of Ogston were sullen, calm, and determined; those of Coffin seemed to indicate resignation.

'At eight o'clock they arrived at the spot where three graves were dug; here their coffins were deposited. The condemned men were made to face to westward; three sides of a hollow square were formed, flanked on one side by a detachment of the 89th Regiment and a party of artillery, while the recruits, many of whom shared the guilt of the culprits, were appropriately placed in the line opposite them. The firing-party were a little in advance of the recruits.

'The sentence of the courts-martial, and other necessary documents, having been read by the fort adjutant, Mr. Meehan, the chaplain of the forces, read some prayers appropriated for these melancholy occasions. The clergyman then shook hands with the three men about to be sent into another state of existence. Daaga and Ogston coolly gave their hands: Coffin wrung the chaplain's hand affectionately, saying, in tolerable English, |I am now done with the world.|

'The arms of the condemned men, as has been before stated, were bound, but in such a manner as to allow them to bring their hands to their heads. Their night-caps were drawn over their eyes. Coffin allowed his to remain, but Ogston and Daaga pushed theirs up again. The former did this calmly; the latter showed great wrath, seeming to think himself insulted; and his deep metallic voice sounded in anger above that of the provost-marshal, {179} as the latter gave the words |Ready! present!| But at this instant his vociferous daring forsook him. As the men levelled their muskets at him, with inconceivable rapidity he sprang bodily round, still preserving his squatting posture, and received the fire from behind; while the less noisy, but more brave, Ogston looked the firing-party full in the face as they discharged their fatal volley.

'In one instant all three fell dead, almost all the balls of the firing-party having taken effect. The savage appearance and manner of Daaga excited awe. Admiration was felt for the calm bravery of Ogston, while Edward Coffin's fate excited commiseration.

'There were many spectators of this dreadful scene, and amongst others a great concourse of Negroes. Most of these expressed their hopes that after this terrible example the recruits would make good soldiers.'

Ah, stupid savages. Yes: but also -- ah, stupid civilised people.

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