Mademoiselle Desgots de Saint Domingue et son nègre Laurent

A prodigal luxury was, indeed, the most striking feature of life. “Everything at San Domingo,” writes Moreau de Saint-Méry, “takes on a character of opulence which astonishes the European.” People dined “‘á la creole’ — that is to say, with profusion,” and their tables were served by such numbers of waiting-men as cut off the very air. A numerous troop of domestics was the surest way to show one’s wealth and self-importance. “That crowd of slaves which hangs upon the master’s lightest word or sign,” says Moreau de Saint-Méry, “lends him an air of grandeur. It is beneath the dignity of a rich man to have less than four times as many servants as he needs. The women have an especial gift for surrounding themselves with a useless retinue.”

Lothrop Stoddard, The French Revolution in San Domingo (1914)

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