Fascinating facts in history of Mauritius: Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint Pierre
Born in 1737 in Le Havre, Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint Pierre, French botanist, and writer, having obtained his brevet of captain-engineer arrived in Isle de France in 1768. Instead of finding a paradise and wild island, he found a place plagued by land speculation and largely deforested. Aware of the importance of conserving the island’s rich soils as well as the primary forests, he founded one of the Nature Conservation programs with Pierre Poivre while respecting the environment.
Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint Pierre, inspired by the shipwreck and sinking of the Saint Géran in 1744 near Amber Island wrote his eponymous novel Paul et Virginie in 1788, one of his most famous works which then became a reference in literature, positioning Isle of France abroad.
He tried in vain to seduce Françoise Robin, the very young wife of Pierre Poivre, first intendant of the islands of France and Bourbon. In 1972, at the age of fifty-five, he married Félicité Didot, who was only twenty-two years old. From this union were born two children whom they named Paul and Virginie.
Two statues linking this famous character and his novel’s protagonists exist: one in The Jardin des Plantes in Paris sculpted in 1907 by Louis Holweck, and the other at Jardin des Pamplemousses in Mauritius, the latter being the work of the sculptor Rémy and the bas-relief from sculptor Léon Morice.
Let’s finish with this beautiful thought of the author carved on Liénard Obelisk: ‘The gift of a useful plant seems to me more precious than the discovery of a gold mine and a monument more durable than a pyramid’.
Lza M Natur