Considerably to windward of Cayenne, and about twelve leagues from land, stands a stately and towering rock called the Constable. As nothing grows on it to tempt greedy and aspiring man to claim it as his own, the sea-fowl rest and raise their offspring there. The bird called the frigate is ever soaring round its rugged summit. Hither the phaeton bends his rapid flight, and flocks of rosy flamingos here defy the fowler's cunning. All along the coast, opposite the Constable, and indeed on every uncultivated part of it to windward and leeward, are seen innumerable quantities of snow-white egrets, scarlet curlews, spoonbills and flamingos.
Cayenne is capable of being a noble and productive colony. At present it is thought to be the poorest on the coast of Guiana. Its estates are too much separated one from the other by immense tracts of forest; and the revolutionary war, like a cold eastern wind, has chilled their zeal and blasted their best expectations.
The clove-tree, the cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg, and many other choice spices and fruits of the Eastern and Asiatic regions, produce abundantly in Cayenne.
The town itself is prettily laid out, and was once well fortified. They tell you it might easily have been defended against the invading force of the two united nations; but Victor Hugues, its governor, ordered the tri- coloured flag to be struck; and ever since that day the standard of Braganza has waved on the ramparts of Cayenne.
He who has received humiliations from the hand of this haughty, iron- hearted governor may see him now, in Cayenne, stripped of all his revolutionary honours, broken down and ruined, and under arrest in his own house. He has four accomplished daughters, respected by the whole town. Towards the close of day, when the sun's rays are no longer oppressive, these much-pitied ladies are seen walking up and down the balcony with their aged parent, trying, by their kind and filial attention, to remove the settled gloom from his too guilty brow.
This was not the time for a traveller to enjoy Cayenne. The hospitality of the inhabitants was the same as ever, but they had lost their wonted gaiety in public, and the stranger might read in their countenances, as the recollection of recent humiliations and misfortunes every now and then kept breaking in upon them, that they were still in sorrow for their fallen country: the victorious hostile cannon of Waterloo still sounded in their ears: their emperor was a prisoner amongst the hideous rocks of St. Helena; and many a Frenchman who had fought and bled for France was now amongst them begging for a little support to prolong a life which would be forfeited on the parent soil. To add another handful to the cypress and wormwood already scattered amongst these polite colonists, they had just received orders from the Court of Janeiro to put on deep mourning for six months, and half-mourning for as many more, on account of the death of the queen of Portugal.
About a day's journey in the interior is the celebrated national plantation. This spot was judiciously chosen, for it is out of the reach of enemies' cruisers. It is called La Gabrielle. No plantation in the Western world can vie with La Gabrielle. Its spices are of the choicest kind, its soil particularly favourable to them, its arrangements beautiful, and its directeur, Monsieur Martin, a botanist of first-rate abilities. This indefatigable naturalist ranged through the East, under a royal commission, in quest of botanical knowledge; and during his stay in the Western regions has sent over to Europe from twenty to twenty-five thousand specimens in botany and zoology. La Gabrielle is on a far-extending range of woody hills. Figure to yourself a hill in the shape of a bowl reversed, with the buildings on the top of it, and you will have an idea of the appearance of La Gabrielle. You approach the house through a noble avenue, five hundred toises long, of the choicest tropical fruit-trees, planted with the greatest care and judgment; and should you chance to stray through it, after sunset, when the clove-trees are in blossom, you would fancy yourself in the Idalian groves or near the banks of the Nile, where they were burning the finest incense as the queen of Egypt passed.
On La Gabrielle there are twenty-two thousand clove-trees in full bearing. They are planted thirty feet asunder. Their lower branches touch the ground. In general the trees are topped at five and twenty feet high, though you will see some here towering up above sixty. The black pepper, the cinnamon and nutmeg are also in great abundance here, and very productive.
While the stranger views the spicy groves of La Gabrielle, and tastes the most delicious fruits which have been originally imported hither from all parts of the tropical world, he will thank the Government which has supported, and admire the talents of the gentleman who has raised to its present grandeur, this noble collection of useful fruits. There is a large nursery attached to La Gabrielle where plants of all the different species are raised and distributed gratis to those colonists who wish to cultivate them.