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Title: History of Cuba; or, Notes of a Traveller in the Tropics - Being a Political, Historical, and Statistical Account of - the Island, from its First Discovery to the Present Time
Author: Ballou, Maturin Murray, 1820-1895
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    Notes of a Traveller in the Tropics.






    _L'Abbé Raynal._





    Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by
    In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of

    Stereotyped by
    New England Type and Stereotype Foundery

    His Friend,
    As a small Token of Regard for
    This Volume


The remarkable degree of interest expressed on all sides, at the present
time, relative to the island of Cuba, has led the author of the
following pages to place together in this form a series of notes from
his journal, kept during a brief residence upon the island. To these he
has prefixed a historical glance at the political story of Cuba, that
may not be unworthy of preservation. The fact that the subject-matter
was penned in the hurry of observation upon the spot, and that it is
thus a simple record of what would be most likely to engage and interest
a stranger, is his excuse for the desultory character of the work. So
critically is the island now situated, in a political point of view,
that ere this book shall have passed through an edition, it may be no
longer a dependency of Spain, or may have become the theatre of scenes
to which its former convulsions shall bear no parallel.

In preparing the volume for the press, the author has felt the want of
books of reference, bearing a late date. Indeed, there are none; and the
only very modern records are those written in the desultory manner of
hurried travellers. To the admirable work of the learned Ramon de la
Sagra,--a monument of industry and intelligence,--the author of the
following pages has been indebted for historical suggestions and data.
For the privilege of consulting this, and other Spanish books and
pamphlets, relative to the interests and history of the island, the
author is indebted to the Hon. Edward Everett, who kindly placed them at
his disposal. Where statistics were concerned, the several authorities
have been carefully collated, and the most responsible given. The writer
has preferred to offer the fresh memories of a pleasant trip to the
tropics, to attempting a labored volume abounding in figures and
statistics; and trusts that this summer book of a summer clime may float
lightly upon the sea of public favor.




    The Island of Cuba--Early colonists--Island aborigines--First
    importation of slaves--Cortez and his followers--Aztecs--The law of
    races--Mexican aborigines--Valley of Mexico--Pizarro--The end of
    heroes--Retributive justice--Decadence of Spanish power--History of
    Cuba--The rovers of the gulf--Havana fortified--The tyrant
    Velasquez--Office of Captain-general--Loyalty of the Cubans--Power of
    the captain-general--Cupidity of the government--The slave-trade--The
    British take Havana--General Don Luis de las Casas--Don Francisco de
    Arranjo--Improvement, moral and physical, of Cuba,                  9


    The constitution of 1812--Revolution of La Granja--Political aspect of
    the island--Discontent among the Cubans--The example before them--Simon
    Bolivar, the Liberator--Revolutions of 1823 and 1826--General
    Lorenzo and the constitution--The assumption of extraordinary power
    by Tacon--Civil war threatened--Tacon sustained by royal
    authority--Despair of the Cubans--Military rule--A foreign press
    established--Programme of the liberal party--General O'Donnell--The
    spoils--Influence of the climate,                                 25


    Armed intervention--Conspiracy of Cienfuegos and Trinidad--General
    Narciso Lopez--The author's views on the subject--Inducements to
    revolt--Enormous taxation--Scheme of the patriots--Lopez's first
    landing, in 1850--Taking of Cardinas--Return of the invaders--Effect
    upon the Cuban authorities--Roncali recalled--New
    captain-general--Lopez's second expedition--Condition of the
    Invaders--Vicissitudes--Col. Crittenden--Battle of Las
    Pozas--Superiority of courage--Battle of Las Frias--Death of Gen.
    Enna--The fearful finale of the expedition,                       38


    Present condition of Cuba--Secret treaty with France and
    England--British plan for the Africanization of the island--Sale
    of Cuba--Measures of General Pezuela--Registration of
    slaves--Intermarriage of blacks and whites--Contradictory
    proclamations--Spanish duplicity--A Creole's view of the crisis and
    the prospect,                                                     54


    Geographical position of the island--Its size--The climate--Advice to
    invalids--Glance at the principal cities--Matanzas--Puerto
    Principe--Santiago de Cuba--Trinidad--The writer's first view of
    Havana--Importance of the capital--Its literary
    institutions--Restriction on Cuban youths and education--Glance at the
    city streets--Style of architecture--Domestic arrangements of town
    houses--A word about Cuban ladies--Small feet--Grace of manners and
    general characteristics,                                         66


    Contrast between Protestant and Catholic communities--Catholic
    churches--Sabbath scenes in Havana--Devotion of the common people--The
    Plaza de Armas--City squares--The poor man's opera--Influence of
    music--La Dominica--The Tacon Paseo--The Tacon Theatre--The
    Cathedral--Tomb of Columbus over the altar--Story of the great Genoese
    pilot--His death--Removal of remains--The former great wealth of the
    church in Cuba--Influence of the priests,                         80


    Nudity of children and slaves--The street of the merchants--The
    currency of Cuba--The Spanish army in the island--Enrolment of
    blacks--Courage of Spanish troops--Treatment by the government--The
    garrote--A military execution--The market-men and their wares--The
    milk-man and his mode of supply--Glass windows--Curtains for
    doors--The Campo Santo, or burial-place of Havana--Treatment of the
    dead--The prison--The fish-market of the capital,                 95


    The story of Marti, the smuggler,                                108


    The lottery at Havana--Hospitality of the Spaniards--Flattery--Cuban
    ladies--Castilian, Parisian and American politeness--The bonnet in
    Cuba--Ladies' dresses--The fan--Jewelry and its wear--Culture of
    flowers--Reflections--A most peculiar narcotic--Cost of living on the
    island--Guines--The cock-pit--Training of the birds--The garden of the
    world--Birds of the tropics--Condition of agriculture--Night-time--The
    Southern Cross--Natural resources of Cuba--Her wrongs and oppressions,


    The volante and its belongings--The ancient town of Regla--The arena
    for the bull-fights at Havana--A bull-fight as witnessed by the author
    at Regla--A national passion with the Spanish people--Compared with old
    Roman sports--Famous bull-fighters--Personal description of Cuban
    ladies--Description of the men--Romance and the tropics--The nobility
    of Cuba--Sugar noblemen--The grades of society--The yeomanry of the
    island--Their social position--What they might be--Love of gambling,


    A sugar plantation--Americans employed--Slaves on the plantations--A
    coffee plantation--Culture of coffee, sugar and tobacco--Statistics of
    agriculture--The cucullos, or Cuban fire-fly--Novel ornaments worn by
    the ladies--The Cuban mode of harnessing oxen--The montero and his
    horse--Curious style of out-door painting--Petty annoyances to
    travellers--Jealousy of the authorities--Japan-like
    watchfulness--Questionable policy--Political condition of Cuba,  145


    Tacon's summary mode of justice,                                 161


    Consumption of tobacco--The universal cigar--Lady smokers--The fruits
    of Cuba--Flour a prohibited article--The royal palm--West Indian
    trees--Snakes, animals, etc.--The Cuban blood-hound--Mode of training
    him--Remarkable instinct--Importation of slaves--Their cost--Various
    African tribes--Superstitious belief--Tattooing--Health of the
    negroes--Slave laws of the island--Food of the negroes--Spanish law of
    emancipation--General treatment of the slaves,                   171


    Pecuniary value of the slave-trade to Havana--The slave clippers--First
    introduction of slaves into Cuba--Monopoly of the traffic by
    England--Spain's disregard of treaty stipulations--Spanish
    perfidy--Present condition of Spain--Her decadence--Influence upon her
    American possessions--Slaves upon the plantations--The soil of
    Cuba--Mineral wealth of the island--The present condition of the
    people--The influences of American progress--What Cuba might be, 186


    Area of Cuba--Extent of cultivated and uncultivated
    lands--Population--Proportion between the sexes--Ratio of
    legitimate to illegitimate births--Ratio between births and
    deaths--Agricultural statistics--Commerce and commercial
    regulations--Custom-house and port charges--Exports and imports--Trade
    with the United States--Universities and schools--Education--Charitable


    Retrospective thoughts--The bright side and dark side of the
    picture--Cuban institutions contrasted with our own--Political
    sentiments of the Creoles--War footing--Loyalty of the colony--Native
    men of genius--The Cubans not willing slaves--Our own
    revolution--Apostles of rebellion--Moral of the Lopez
    expedition--Jealousy of Spain--Honorable position of our
    government--Spanish aggressions on our flag--Purchase of the
    island--Distinguished conservative opinion--The end.             214



    The Island of Cuba--Early colonists--Island aborigines--First
    importation of slaves--Cortez and his followers--Aztecs--The law of
    races--Mexican aborigines--Valley of Mexico--Pizarro--The end of
    heroes--Retributive justice--Decadence of Spanish power--History of
    Cuba--The rovers of the Gulf--Havana fortified--The tyrant
    Velasquez--Office of captain-general--Loyalty of the Cubans--Power
    of the captain-general--Cupidity of the government--The
    slave-trade--The British take Havana--General Don Luis de las
    Casas--Don Francisco de Arranjo--Improvement, moral and physical, of

The island of Cuba, one of the earliest discoveries of the great
admiral, has been known to Europe since 1492, and has borne,
successively, the names of Juana,[1] Fernandina, Santiago and Ave Maria,
having found refuge at last in the aboriginal appellation. Soon after
its discovery by Columbus, it was colonized by Spaniards from St.
Domingo, but was considered mainly in the light of a military depôt, by
the home government, in its famous operations at that period in Mexico.
The fact that it was destined to prove the richest jewel in the
Castilian crown, and a mine of wealth to the Spanish treasury, was not
dreamed of at this stage of its history. Even the enthusiastic followers
of Cortez, who sought that fabulous El Dorado of the New World, had no
golden promise to hold forth for this gem of the Caribbean Sea.

The Spanish colonists from St. Domingo found the island inhabited by a
most peculiar native race, hospitable, inoffensive, timid, fond of the
dance and the rude music of their own people, yet naturally indolent and
lazy, from the character of the climate they inhabited. They had some
definite idea of God and heaven; and were governed by patriarchs, or
kings, whose word was law, and whose age gave them precedence. They had
few weapons of offence or defence, and knew not the use of the bow and
arrow. Of course, they were at once subjected by the new comers, who
reduced them to a state of slavery; and, proving hard taskmasters, the
poor, over-worked natives died in scores, until they had nearly
disappeared, when the home government granted permission to import a
cargo of negroes from the coast of Africa to labor upon the ground, and
to seek for gold, which was thought to exist in the river-courses.[2]
Thus early commenced the slave-trade of Cuba, a subject to which we
shall have occasion more fully to refer.

Cuba became the head-quarters of the Spanish power in the west, forming
the point of departure for those military expeditions which, though
inconsiderable in numbers, were so formidable in the energy of the
leaders, and in the arms, discipline, courage, ferocity, fanaticism and
avarice, of their followers, that they were amply adequate to carry out
the vast schemes of conquest for which they were designed. It was hence
that Cortez marched to the conquest of Mexico,--a gigantic
undertaking--one a slight glance at which will recall to the reader the
period of history to which we would direct his attention. Landing upon
the continent, with a little band, scarcely more than half the
complement of a modern regiment, he prepared to traverse an unknown
country, thronged by savage tribes, with whose character, habits and
means of defence, he was wholly unacquainted. This romantic adventure,
worthy of the palmiest days of chivalry, was crowned with success,
though checkered with various fortune, and stained with bloody episodes,
that prove how the threads of courage and ferocity are inseparably
blended in the woof and warp of Spanish character. It must be
remembered, however, that the spirit of the age was harsh, relentless
and intolerant; and, that if the Aztecs, idolaters and sacrificers of
human victims, found no mercy at the hands of the fierce Catholics whom
Cortez commanded, neither did the Indians of our own section of the
continent fare much better at the hands of men professing a purer faith,
and coming to these shores, not as warriors, with the avowed purpose of
conquest, but themselves persecuted fugitives.

As the first words that greeted the ears of the Plymouth colonists were
"Welcome, Englishmen!" uttered by a poor native, who had learned them
from the fishermen off the northern coast, so were the Spaniards at
first kindly welcomed by the aborigines they encountered in the New
World. Yet, in the north-east and south-west the result was the same: it
mattered little whether the stranger was Roman Catholic or Protestant;
whether he came clad in steel, or robed in the garments of peace;
whether he spoke the harsh English, the soft French, or the rich
Castilian tongue. The inexorable laws which govern races were rigidly
enforced; the same drama was everywhere enacted, the white race enjoying
a speedy triumph. There were episodical struggles, fierce and furious,
but unavailing; here Guatimozin, there Philip of Pokanoket--here a
battle, there a massacre.

The Spanish general encountered a people who had attained a far higher
point of art and civilization than their red brethren of the north-east
part of the continent. Vast pyramids, imposing sculptures, curious arms,
fanciful garments, various kinds of manufactures, the relics of which
still strangely interest the student of the past, filled the invaders
with surprise. There was much that was curious and startling in their
mythology, and the capital of the Mexican empire presented a singular
and fascinating spectacle to the eyes of Cortez. The rocky amphitheatre
in the midst of which it was built still remains unchanged, but the vast
lake which surrounded it, traversed by causeways, and covered with
floating gardens, laden with flowers and perfume, is gone. The star of
the Aztec dynasty set in blood. In vain did the inhabitants of the
conquered city, roused to madness by the cruelty and extortion of the
victors, expel them from their midst. Cortez refused to flee further
than the shore; the light of his burning galleys rekindled the desperate
valor of his followers, and Mexico fell, as a few years after did Peru
under the perfidy and sword of Pizarro, thus completing the scheme of
conquest, and giving Spain a colonial empire more splendid than that of
any other power in Christendom.

Of the agents in this vast scheme of territorial aggrandizement, we see
Cortez dying in obscurity, and Pizarro assassinated in his palace, while
retributive justice has overtaken the monarchy at whose behests the
richest portions of the western continent were violently wrested from
their native possessors. If "the wild and warlike, the indolent and the
semi-civilized, the bloody Aztec, the inoffensive Peruvian, the fierce
Araucanian, all fared alike" at the hands of Spain, it must be confessed
that their wrongs have been signally avenged. "The horrid atrocities
practised at home and abroad," says Edward Everett, "not only in the
Netherlands, but in every city of the northern country, cried to Heaven
for vengeance upon Spain; nor could she escape it. She intrenched
herself behind the eternal Cordilleras; she took to herself the wings of
the morning, and dwelt in the uttermost parts of the sea; but even there
the arm of retribution laid hold of her, and the wrongs of both
hemispheres were avenged by her degeneracy and fall."

So rapid a fall is almost without a parallel in the history of the
world. Less than three centuries from the time when she stood without a
rival in the extent and wealth of her colonial possessions, she beheld
herself stripped, one by one, of the rich exotic jewels of her crown.
Her vice-regal coronet was torn from her grasp. Mexico revolted; the
South American provinces threw off her yoke; and now, though she still
clutches with febrile grasp the brightest gem of her transatlantic
possessions, the island of Cuba, yet it is evident that she cannot long
retain its ownership. The "ever-faithful" island has exhibited
unmistakable symptoms of infidelity, its demonstrations of loyalty being
confined to the government officials and the hireling soldiery. The time
will surely come when the last act of the great drama of historical
retribution will be consummated, and when, in spite of the threatening
batteries of the Moro and the Punta, and the bayonets of Spanish
legions, _siempre fiel_ will no longer be the motto of the Queen of the

The history of Cuba is deficient in events of a stirring character, and
yet not devoid of interest. Columbus found it inhabited, as we have
already remarked, by a race whose manners and character assimilated with
the mild climate of this terrestrial paradise. Although the Spanish
conquerors have left us but few details respecting these aborigines, yet
we know with certainty, from the narratives of the great discoverer and
his followers, that they were docile and generous, but, at the same
time, inclined to ease; that they were well-formed, grave, and far from
possessing the vivacity of the natives of the south of Europe. They
expressed themselves with a certain modesty and respect, and were
hospitable to the last degree. Their labor was limited to the light work
necessary to provide for the wants of life, while the bounteous climate
of the tropics spared the necessity of clothing. They preferred hunting
and fishing to agriculture; and beans and maize, with the fruits that
nature gave them in abundance, rendered their diet at once simple and
nutritious. They possessed no quadrupeds of any description, except a
race of voiceless dogs, of whose existence we have no proof but the
assertion of the discoverers.

The island was politically divided into nine provinces, namely, Baracoa,
Bayaguitizi, Macaca, Bayamo, Camaguey, Jagua, Cueyba, Habana and
Haniguanica. At the head of each was a governor, or king, of whose laws
we have no record, or even tradition. An unbroken peace reigned among
them, nor did they turn their hands against any other people. Their
priests, called _Behiques_, were fanatics, superstitious to the last
degree, and kept the people in fear by gross extravagances. They were
not cannibals, nor did they employ human sacrifices, and are represented
as distinguished by a readiness to receive the Gospel.

The capital of the island was Baracoa,[3] erected into a city and
bishopric in 1518, but both were transferred to Santiago de Cuba in
1522. In the year 1538, the city of Havana was surprised by a French
corsair and reduced to ashes. The French and English buccaneers of the
West Indies, whose hatred the Spaniards early incurred, were for a long
time their terror and their scourge. Enamored of the wild life they led,
unshackled by any laws but the rude regulations they themselves adopted,
unrefined by intercourse with the gentler sex, consumed by a thirst for
adventure, and brave to ferocity, these fierce rovers, for many years,
were the actual masters of the gulf. They feared no enemy, and spared
none; their vessels, constantly on the watch for booty, were ever ready,
on the appearance of a galleon, to swoop down like an eagle on its prey.
The romance of the sea owes some of its most thrilling chapters to the
fearful exploits of these buccaneers. Their _coup de main_ on Havana
attracted the attention of De Soto, the governor of the island, to the
position and advantages of the port at which the Spanish vessels bound
for the peninsula with the riches of New Mexico were accustomed to
touch, and he accordingly commenced to fortify it. It increased in
population by degrees, and became the habitual gubernatorial residence,
until the home government made it the capital of the island in 1589, on
the appointment of the first Captain-general, Juan de Tejada.

The native population soon dwindled away under the severe sway of the
Spaniards, who imposed upon them tasks repugnant to their habits, and
too great for their strength.

Velasquez, one of the earliest governors of the island, appears to have
been an energetic and efficient magistrate, and to have administered
affairs with vigor and intelligence; but his harsh treatment of the
aborigines will ever remain a stain upon his memory. A native chief,
whose only crime was that of taking up arms in defence of the integrity
of his little territory, fell into the hands of Velasquez, and was
burned alive, as a punishment for his patriotism.[4] It is no wonder
that under such treatment the native population disappeared so rapidly
that the Spaniards were forced to supply their places by laborers of
hardier character.

We have seen that the office of captain-general was established in 1589,
and, with a succession of incumbents, the office has been maintained
until the present day, retaining the same functions and the same
extraordinary powers. The object of the Spanish government is, and ever
has been, to derive as much revenue as possible from the island; and the
exactions imposed upon the inhabitants have increased in proportion as
other colonies of Spain, in the western world, have revolted and
obtained their independence. The imposition of heavier burthens than
those imposed upon any other people in the world has been the reward of
the proverbial loyalty of the Cubans; while the epithet of
"ever-faithful," bestowed by the crown, has been their only recompense
for their steady devotion to the throne. But for many years this lauded
loyalty has existed only in appearance, while discontent has been
fermenting deeply beneath the surface.

The Cubans owe all the blessings they enjoy to Providence alone (so to
speak), while the evils which they suffer are directly referable to the
oppression of the home government. Nothing short of a military despotism
could maintain the connection of such an island with a mother country
more than three thousand miles distant; and accordingly we find the
captain-general of Cuba invested with unlimited power. He is, in fact, a
viceroy appointed by the crown of Spain, and accountable only to the
reigning sovereign for his administration of the colony. His rule is
absolute; he has the power of life and death and liberty in his hands.
He can, by his arbitrary will, send into exile any person whatever, be
his name or rank what it may, whose residence in the island he considers
prejudicial to the royal interest, even if he has committed no overt
act. He can suspend the operation of the laws and ordinances, if he sees
fit to do so; can destroy or confiscate property; and, in short, the
island may be said to be perpetually in a state of siege.

Such is the infirmity of human nature that few individuals can be
trusted with despotic power without abusing it; and accordingly we find
very few captain-generals whose administration will bear the test of
rigid examination. Few men who have governed Cuba have consulted the
true interests of the Creoles; in fact, they are not appointed for that
purpose, but merely to look after the crown revenue. An office of such
magnitude is, of course, a brilliant prize, for which the grandees of
Spain are constantly struggling; and the means by which an aspirant is
most likely to secure the appointment presupposes a character of an
inferior order. The captain-general knows that he cannot reckon on a
long term of office, and hence he takes no pains to study the interests
or gain the good-will of the Cubans. He has a two-fold object in
view,--to keep the revenue well up to the mark, and to enrich himself as
speedily as possible. Hence, the solemn obligations entered into by
Spain with the other powers for the suppression of the African
slave-trade are a dead letter; for, with very few exceptions, the
captains-general of Cuba have connived at the illegal importation of
slaves, receiving for their complaisance a large percentage on the
value of each one landed on the island; for, though the slavers do not
discharge their living freights at the more frequented ports, still
their arrival is a matter of public notoriety, and it is impossible
that, with the present system of espionage, the authorities can be
ignorant of such an event. Nor can we imagine that the home government
is less well-informed upon the subject, though they assume a politic
ignorance of the violation of the law. Believing that the importation of
slaves is essential to the maintenance of the present high revenue,
Spain illustrates the rule that there are none so blind as those who do
not wish to see. It is only the cheapness of labor, resulting from the
importation of slaves, that enables the planters to pour into the
government treasury from twenty to twenty-four millions of dollars
annually. Of this we may speak more fully hereafter.

In 1760, the invasion and conquest of the island by the British forms
one of the most remarkable epochs in its history. This event excited the
fears of Spain, and directed the attention of the government to its
importance in a political point of view. On its restoration, at the
treaty of peace concluded between the two governments in the following
year, Spain seriously commenced the work of fortifying the Havana, and
defending and garrisoning the island generally.

The elements of prosperity contained within the limits of this peerless
island required only a patriotic and enlightened administration for
their development; and the germ of its civilization was stimulated by
the appointment of General Don Luis de las Casas to the post of
captain-general. During the administration of this celebrated man, whose
memory is cherished with fond respect by the Cubans, The Patriotic
Society of Havana was formed, with the noble idea of diffusing education
throughout the island, and introducing a taste for classical literature,
through his instrumentality, while the press was also established in the
capital, by the publication of the _Papel Periodico_.

In the first third of the present century, the _intendente_, Don
Alejandro Ramirez, labored to regulate the revenues and economical
condition of the country, and called the attention of the government to
the improvement of the white population. But the most important
concession obtained of the metropolitan government, the freedom of
commerce, was due to the patriotic exertions of Don Francisco de
Arranjo, the most illustrious name in Cuban annals, "one," says the
Countess Merlin, "who may be quoted as a model of the humane and
peaceful virtues," and "who was," says Las Casas, "a jewel of priceless
value to the glory of the nation, a protector for Cuba, and an
accomplished statesman for the monarchy." Even the briefest historical
sketch (and this record pretends to no more) would be incomplete without
particular mention of this excellent man.

He was born at Havana, May 22d, 1765. Left an orphan at a very early
age, he managed the family estate, while a mere boy, with a discretion
and judgment which would have done honor to a man of mature age.
Turning his attention to the study of the law, he was admitted to
practice in the mother country, where for a considerable period he acted
as the agent for the municipality of Havana, and, being thoroughly
acquainted with the capabilities of the island, and the condition and
wants of his countrymen, he succeeded in procuring the amelioration of
some of the most flagrant abuses of the colonial system. By his
exertions, the staple productions of the island were so much increased
that the revenue, in place of falling short of the expenses of the
government, as his enemies had predicted, soon yielded a large surplus.
He early raised his voice against the iniquitous slave-trade, and
suggested the introduction of white laborers, though he perceived that
the abolition of slavery was impracticable. It was owing to his
exertions that the duty on coffee, spirits and cotton, was remitted for
a period of ten years, and that machinery was allowed to be imported
free of duty to the island.

The _Junta de Fomento_ (society for improvement) and the Chamber of
Commerce were the fruits of his indefatigable efforts. Of the latter
institution he was for a long time the Syndic, refusing to receive the
perquisites attached to the office, as he did the salaries of the same
and other offices that he filled during his useful life. While secretary
of the Chamber, he distinguished himself by his bold opposition to the
schemes of the infamous Godoy (the Prince of Peace), the minion of the
Queen of Spain, who, claiming to be protector of the Chamber of
Commerce, demanded the receipts of the custom-house at Havana. He not
only defeated the plans of Godoy, but procured the relinquishment of the
royal monopoly of tobacco. His patriotic services were appreciated by
the court at Madrid, although at times he was the inflexible opponent of
its schemes. The cross of the order of Charles III. showed the esteem in
which he was held by that monarch. Yet, with a modesty which did him
honor, he declined to accept a title of nobility which was afterwards
offered to him. In 1813, when, by the adoption of the constitution of
1812, Cuba became entitled to representation in the general Cortes, he
visited Madrid as a deputy, and there achieved the crowning glory of his
useful life,--the opening of the ports of Cuba to foreign trade. In 1817
he returned to his native island with the rank of Counsellor of State,
Financial Intendente of Cuba, and wearing the grand cross of the order
of Isabella. He died in 1837, at the age of seventy-two, after a long
and eminently useful life, bequeathing large sums for various public
purposes and charitable objects in the island. Such a man is an honor to
any age or nation, and the Cubans do well to cherish his memory, which,
indeed, they seem resolved, by frequent and kindly mention, to keep ever

Fostered by such men, the resources of Cuba, both physical and
intellectual, received an ample and rapid development. The youth of the
island profited by the means of instruction now liberally placed at
their disposal; the sciences and belles-lettres were assiduously
cultivated; agriculture and internal industry were materially improved,
and an ambitious spirit evoked, which subsequent periods of tyranny and
misrule have not been able, with all their baneful influences, entirely
to erase.

The visitor from abroad is sure to hear the people refer to this "golden
period," as they call it, of their history, the influence of which, so
far from passing away, appears to grow and daily increase with them. It
raised in their bosoms one spirit and trust which they sadly
needed,--that of self-reliance,--and showed them of what they were
capable, under liberal laws and judicious government.



[1] In honor of Prince John, son of Ferdinand and Isabella. Changed to
Fernandina on the death of Ferdinand; afterwards called Ave Maria, in
honor of the Holy Virgin. Cuba is the Indian name.

[2] "Thus," exclaims the pious Arrati, "began that gathering of an
infinite number of gentiles to the bosom of our holy religion, who would
otherwise have perished in the darkness of paganism." Spain _has_
liberal laws relative to the religious instruction of the slaves; but
they are no better than a dead letter.

[3] Here Leo X. erected the first cathedral in Cuba. Baracoa is situated
on the north coast, at the eastern extremity of the island, and contains
some three thousand inhabitants, mixed population.

[4] The words of this unfortunate chief (Hatucy), extorted by the
torments he suffered, were, "_Prefiero el infierno al cielo si en cielo
ha Españoles_." (I prefer hell to heaven, if there are Spaniards in


    The constitution of 1812--Revolution of La Granja--Political aspect
    of the island--Discontent among the Cubans--The example before
    them--Simon Bolivar, the Liberator--Revolutions of 1823 and
    1826--General Lorenzo and the constitution--The assumption of
    extraordinary power by Tacon--Civil war threatened--Tacon sustained
    by royal authority--Despair of the Cubans--Military rule--A foreign
    press established--Programme of the liberal party--General
    O'Donnell--The spoils--Influence of the climate.

When the French invasion of Spain in 1808 produced the constitution of
1812, Cuba was considered entitled to enjoy its benefits, and the year
1820 taught the Cubans the advantage to be derived by a people from
institutions based on the principle of popular intervention in public
affairs. The condition of the nation on the death of Ferdinand VII.
obliged Queen Christina to rely on the liberal party for a triumph over
the pretensions of the Infante Don Carlos to the crown, and to assure
the throne of Donna Isabella II., and the _Estatuto Real_ (royal
statute) was proclaimed in Spain and Cuba. The Cubans looked forward, as
in 1812 and 1820, to a representation in the national congress, and the
enjoyment of the same liberty conceded to the Peninsula. An institution
was then established in Havana, with branches in the island, called the
Royal Society for Improvement, already alluded to in our brief notice of
Don Francisco Arranjo. The object of this society was to aid and protect
the progress of agriculture and commerce; and it achieved a vast amount
of good. At the same time, the press, within the narrow limits conceded
to it, discussed with intelligence and zeal the interests of the
country, and diffused a knowledge of them.

In 1836 the revolution known as that of La Granja, provoked and
sustained by the progressionists against the moderate party, destroyed
the "Royal Statute," and proclaimed the old constitution of 1812. The
queen-mother, then Regent of Spain, convoked the constituent Cortes, and
summoned deputies from Cuba.

Up to this time, various political events, occurring within a brief
period, had disturbed but slightly and accidentally the tranquillity of
this rich province of Spain. The Cubans, although sensible of the
progress of public intelligence and wealth, under the protection of a
few enlightened governors, and through the influence of distinguished
and patriotic individuals, were aware that these advances were slow,
partial and limited, that there was no regular system, and that the
public interests, confided to officials intrusted with unlimited power,
and liable to the abuses inseparable from absolutism, frequently
languished, or were betrayed by a cupidity which impelled despotic
authorities to enrich themselves in every possible way at the expense of
popular suffering. Added to these sources of discontent was the
powerful influence exerted over the intelligent portion of the people by
the portentous spectacle of the rapidly-increasing greatness of the
United States, where a portion of the Cuban youths were wont to receive
their education, and to learn the value of a national independence based
on democratic principles, principles which they were apt freely to
discuss after returning to the island.

There also were the examples of Mexico and Spanish South America, which
had recently conquered with their blood their glorious emancipation from
monarchy. Liberal ideas were largely diffused by Cubans who had
travelled in Europe, and there imbibed the spirit of modern
civilization. But, with a fatuity and obstinacy which has always
characterized her, the mother country resolved to ignore these causes of
discontent, and, instead of yielding to the popular current, and
introducing a liberal and mild system of government, drew the reins yet
tighter, and even curtailed many of the privileges formerly accorded to
the Cubans. It is a blind persistence in the fated principle of despotic
domination which has relaxed the moral and political bonds uniting the
two countries, instilled gall into the hearts of the governed, and
substituted the dangerous obedience of terror for the secure loyalty of
love. This severity of the home government has given rise to several
attempts to throw off the Spanish yoke.

The first occurred in 1823, when the Liberator, Simon Bolivar, offered
to aid the disaffected party by throwing an invading force into the
island. The conspiracy then formed, by the aid of the proffered
expedition, for which men were regularly enlisted and enrolled, would
undoubtedly have ended in the triumph of the insurrection, had it not
been discovered and suppressed prematurely, and had not the governments
of the United States, Great Britain and France, intervened in favor of
Spain. In 1826 some Cuban emigrants, residing in Caraccas, attempted a
new expedition, which failed, and caused the imprisonment and execution
of two patriotic young men, Don Francisco de Agüero, y Velazco, and Don
Bernabé Sanchez, sent to raise the department of the interior. In 1828
there was a yet more formidable conspiracy, known as _El Aguila Negra_
(the black eagle). The efforts of the patriots proved unavailing, foiled
by the preparation and power of the government, which seems to be
apprised by spies of every intended movement for the cause of liberty in

We have alluded to the revolution of La Granja, in Spain, and we have
now briefly to consider its effects on the island of Cuba, then under
the sway of General Don Miguel Tacon. We shall have occasion to refer
more than once, in the course of our records of the island, to the
administration of Tacon; for he made his mark upon Cuba, and, though he
governed it with an iron hand and a stern will, as we shall see, yet he
did much to improve its physical condition, even as Louis Napoleon,
despot though he be, has already vastly beautified and improved the
sanitary condition of the city of Paris.

The first place on the island which received intelligence of the
revolution of La Granja, and the oath to the constitution of 1812 by the
Queen-Regent of Spain, was Santiago de Cuba, the capital of the eastern
department. It was then commanded by General Lorenzo, who immediately
assembled the authorities, corporations and functionaries, in pursuance
of the example of his predecessors,--who, without waiting for the orders
of the higher authority of the island, had, under similar circumstances,
prepared to obey the supreme government of the nation,--and proclaimed
through his department the Code of Cadiz, without any opposition, and to
the general joy of Spaniards and Cubans. His first acts were to
reëstablish the constitutional _ayuntamiento_, the national militia, the
liberty of the press, and all other institutions, on the same footing as
in 1823, when King Ferdinand recovered absolute authority, and made
arrangements for the election of deputies to the new Cortes.

Tacon, who was not a friend to liberal institutions, and who was fixed
in his idea that the new constitution would convulse the country,
notwithstanding his knowledge of the state of things when this law was
actually in force in Cuba, was quite indignant when he heard what had
transpired. Knowing that he could not compel General Lorenzo to abrogate
the constitution he had proclaimed, he forthwith cut off all
communication with the eastern department, and formed a column to
invade it, and to restore the old order of things by force. This was a
bold, impolitic and dangerous move, because this resolve was contrary to
the wishes of the supreme government and public opinion, which would not
fail to see treason in the act of Gen. Tacon, against the mother

Although the royal proclamation which announced to Tacon the
establishment of the constitution in Spain intimated forthcoming orders
for the election of deputies in Cuba to the general Cortes, still he
considered that his commission as captain-general authorized him, under
the circumstances, to carry out his own will, and suppress at once the
movement set on foot by General Lorenzo, on the ground of its danger to
the peace of the island, and the interests of Spain. The royal order,
which opened the way for his attacks upon the Cuban people, after a
confused preamble, confers on the captain-general all the authority
appertaining in time of war to a Spanish governor of a city in a state
of siege, authorizing him in any circumstances and by his proper will to
suspend any public functionary, whatever his rank, civil, military, or
ecclesiastical; to banish any resident of the island, without preferring
any accusations; to modify any law, or suspend its operations;[5]
disobey with impunity any regulation emanating from the Spanish
government; to dispose of the public revenues at his will; and, finally,
to act according to his pleasure, winding up with recommending a
moderate use of the confidence evinced by the sovereign in according
power so ample.

Although the captains-general of Cuba have always been invested with
extraordinary power, we believe that these items of unlimited authority
were first conferred upon Vivez in 1825, when the island was menaced by
an invasion of the united forces of Mexico and Columbia. In these
circumstances, and emanating from an absolute authority, like that of
Ferdinand VII., a delegation of power which placed the destinies of the
island at the mercy of its chief ruler might have had the color of
necessity; but to continue such a delegation of authority in time of
peace is a most glaring and inexcusable blunder.

Meanwhile Tacon assembled a column of picked companies of the line, the
provincial military and rural cavalry, and placed them, under the orders
of General Gascue, in the town of Guines, hoping by this great parade
and preparation to impose on General Lorenzo, and strike terror into the
inhabitants of the whole island. He also adroitly worked by secret
agents upon the forces at Santiago de Cuba, and thus by cunning and
adroitness brought about quite a reäction in the public sentiment.

Under these circumstances, if General Lorenzo, master of the eastern
department, with two regiments of regular troops, all the national
militia, all devoted to the new order of things and ready to obey his
will, had marched upon Puerto Principe, the capital of the centre, where
the garrison was not strong enough to oppose him, and had there
proclaimed the constitutional code through the authority of the royal
_Audiencia_, Gen. Tacon would unquestionably have desisted from his
opposition, and relinquished the command of the island. Cuba would then
have enjoyed the same political rights as the rest of Spain, and have
escaped the horrors of tyranny which have since weighed her down. But
Gen. Lorenzo proved weak, let slip the golden opportunity of triumphing
over Tacon, and returned to Spain in the vain hope that the supreme
government would sustain him. In the mean time, Tacon sent his body of
soldiery to Santiago, their arrival being signalized by the
establishment of a military commission to try and punish all who had
been engaged innocently in establishing the fallen constitution. The
commandant Moya presided, and the advocate Miret was held as counsel.

No sooner had this barbarous tribunal commenced its proceedings, than no
Creole belonging to families of influence could look upon himself as
safe from persecution, since nearly all of them had hastened to obey the
orders of General Lorenzo, and, like him, taken oath to the
constitution. Many men of rank, reputation and education, including
several respectable clergymen, fell under the ban of the military
commission. Some were thrown into the prisons of Santiago de Cuba, some
banished for a given period, and many emigrated to avoid the horrors of
a Spanish dungeon, and the greater part in one way or another were torn
from the bosoms of their families. Of the soldiers who faithfully obeyed
their officers, about five hundred were condemned to work in the streets
of Havana, with their feet shackled. Such are the measures meted out by
despotism to those who have the misfortune to live under its iron yoke.

Tacon triumphed, yet the Cubans did not utterly despair. They cherished
the hope that the Spanish government would recognize the legality of
their proceedings in the eastern department; but they were doomed to
disappointment. The Cuban deputies presented themselves in the Spanish
capital, and offered their credentials. But they were referred to a
committee of men profoundly ignorant of the feelings, opinions and
condition, of the Cuban people, or deriving what few notions they
possessed from those interested on the side of Tacon. The deputies were
not allowed a seat in the Cortes, and the government decided that the
provisions of the constitution should not apply to Cuba, but that it
should be governed by special laws. Since then, the island has been
ruled by the arbitrary will of the captains-general, without
intervention of the Spanish Cortes, without the intervention of the
island, and, what is almost inconceivable, at first thought, without the
direct action even of the sovereign authority.

Tacon, now that the royal authority had sustained his action, was more
despotic than ever. It is true that he introduced some legal and
municipal reforms; that he embellished the capital, and improved its
health; but under him the censorship of the press was almost
prohibitory. The local _ayuntamientos_, which, at the most despotic
epoch, had frequently produced happy effects, by representing to the
sovereign the wants of the country, were shorn of their privileges, and
their attributes confined to the collection and distribution of the
municipal funds. Tacon is also charged with promoting the jealousies
naturally existing between Spaniards and Creoles, and with completely
subjecting the civil courts to military tribunals.

"In a state of agitation in the public mind, and disorder in the
government," says the author of an able pamphlet entitled "_Cuba y su
Gobierno_," to whom we are indebted for invaluable information that
could only be imparted by a Creole, "with the political passions of
Spaniards and Cubans excited; the island reduced from an integral part
of the monarchy to the condition of a colony, and with no other
political code than the royal order, conferring unlimited power upon the
chief authority; the country bowed down under the weighty tyranny of two
military commissions established in the capitals of the eastern and
western departments; with the prisons filled with distinguished
patriots; deprived of representation in the Cortes; the _ayuntamientos_
prohibited the right of petition; the press forbidden to enunciate the
state of public opinion, closed the administration of General Don Miguel
Tacon in the island of Cuba, the most calamitous, beyond a question,
that this country has suffered since its discovery by the Spaniards."

The liberal party of Cuba, denied the expression of their views in the
local prints, and anxious to present their wants and their grievances
before the home government, conceived the ingenious idea of establishing
organs abroad. Two papers were accordingly published; one at Paris,
called "_El Correo de Ultramar_" and one at Madrid, entitled "_El
Observador_," edited by distinguished Cubans.[6] It is scarcely
necessary to say that these produced no favorable result, and the people
of the island became convinced that the mother country was resolved to
persevere in the plan of ruling Cuba with a rod of iron, indifferent
alike to her tears and her remonstrances.

The programme of the liberal party was exceedingly moderate, petitioning
only for the following concessions: 1st, That a special ministry,
devoted to Cuban affairs, should be established at Madrid; 2d, That a
legal organ of communication between Spain and Cuba should be
established in the island, to represent the well-defined interests of
the metropolis and the colony; 3d, That some latitude should be given to
the press, now controlled by a triple censorship; 4th, That efficacious
means should be adopted for the complete suppression of the barbarous
traffic in African slaves; 5th, That the government should permit the
establishment of societies for the improvement of the white inhabitants;
6th, That the island should be relieved of the enormous weight of the
contributions now levied upon her. None of these privileges, however,
have been conceded to suffering Cuba by the home government.

The first successor of General Tacon ruled Cuba with a spirit of
moderation and temperance, seeking to conciliate the liberals, and
giving hopes of great reforms, which as yet have never been
accomplished. During the administration of the Prince de Aglona, a
superior tribunal, the Royal Pretorial Audience, was established in
Havana, to take cognizance of civil suits in cases of appeal, and to
resolve the doubts which the confused system of legislation produces at
every step in the inferior tribunals. Gen. Valdes was the first and only
official who granted free papers to the emancipated negroes who had
served out their term of apprenticeship, and who opposed the African
trade. He showed, by his example, that this infamous traffic may be
destroyed in the country without a necessary resort to violent measures,
but by the will of the captain-general.

General O'Donnell, as captain-general,[7] instead of repressing,
encouraged the slave-trade, and a greater number of the unfortunate
victims of human avarice were introduced into the island, during his
administration, than during any like term since the conclusion of the
treaty of 1817. Of course he vacated his post vastly enriched by the
spoils, having doubtless received, as was declared, from one to two
doubloons per head on every slave landed upon the island during his
administration; a sum that would alone amount to a fortune.

Of events which transpired during the administration of Roncali and
Concha we may have occasion to speak hereafter, but with this more
modern chapter in the history of the island the general reader is
already conversant. It appears almost incredible that an intelligent
people, within so short a distance of our southern coast, constantly
visited by the citizens of a free republic, and having the example of
successful revolt set them, by the men of the same race, both in the
north and south, weighed down by oppressions almost without parallel,
should never have aimed an effectual blow at their oppressors. It would
seem that the softness of the unrivalled climate of those skies beneath
which it is luxury only to exist has unnerved them, and that the
effeminate spirit of the original inhabitants has descended in
retribution to the posterity of the _conquistadores_.


[5] "En su consecuencia da S.M. á V.E. la mas ámplia é ilimitada
autorizacion, no tan solo para separar de esa Isla á las personas
empleadas ó no empleadas, cualquiera que sea su destino, rango, clase ó
condicion, cuya permanencia en ella crea prejudicial, ó que le infunda
recelos su conducta pública ó privada, reemplazandolas interinamente con
servidores fieles á S.M. y que merezcan á V.E. toda su confianza, sino
tambien para suspender la ejecucion de cualesquiera órdenes ó
providencias generales espedidas sobre todos los ramos de la
administracion en aquella parte en que V.E. considere conveniente al
real servicio, debiendo ser en todo caso provisionales estas medidas, y
dar V.E. cuenta á S.M. para su soberana aprobacion."--_From the Royal
Ordinance conferring unlimited powers on the Captains-general of Cuba._

[6] "La Verdad," a paper devoted to Cuban interests, established in New
York in 1848, and conducted with signal ability, is distributed
gratuitously, the expense being defrayed by contributions of Cubans and
the friends of Cuban independence. This is the organ of the annexation
party, organized by exiles in this country.

[7] General Leopold O'Donnell was appointed governor-general in 1843,
continuing a little over four years to fill the lucrative position. His
wife was a singular and most avaricious woman, engaged in many
speculations upon the island, and shamefully abusing her husband's
official influence for the purposes of pecuniary emolument.


    Armed intervention--Conspiracy of Cienfuegos and Trinidad--General
    Narciso Lopez--The author's views on the subject--Inducements to
    revolt--Enormous taxation--Scheme of the patriots--Lopez's first
    landing in 1850--Taking of Cardinas--Return of the invaders--Effect
    upon the Cuban authorities--Roncali recalled--New
    captain-general--Lopez's second expedition--Condition of the
    Invaders--Vicissitudes--Col. Crittenden--Battle of Las
    Pozas--Superiority of courage--Battle of Las Frias--Death of Gen.
    Enna--The fearful finale of the expedition.

We have noticed in the preceding chapter, the anomaly of the political
condition of Cuba, increasing in prosperity and civilization, imbibing
liberal ideas from its geographical position, and yet denied
participation in the few shadowy rights which the peninsular subjects of
the enfeebled, distracted and despotic parent monarchy enjoyed. We have
seen that, in later years, the adoption of more liberal ideas by Spain
produced no amelioration of the condition of the colony; and that, on
the other hand, a conformity to the legal enactments of the mother
country was punished as treason. The result of the movement in the
western department, under Tacon, showed the Cubans that they had nothing
to hope from Spain, while the cruelties of General O'Donnell increased
the great discontent and despair of the people. They now became
satisfied that the hope of legal reform was but a chimera; and a portion
of the liberal party, seeing no issue from their insufferable position
but that of revolution, boldly advocated the intervention of arms.

In 1848 a conspiracy was formed, in Cienfuegos and Trinidad, with the
purpose of throwing off the Spanish yoke; but it was soon discovered,
and crushed by the imprisonment of various individuals in the central
department. The principal leader in this movement was General Narciso
Lopez, who succeeded in effecting his escape to the United States, where
he immediately placed himself in communication with several influential
and liberal Creoles, voluntary and involuntary exiles, and established a
correspondence with the remnant of the liberal party yet at liberty on
the island, at the same time being aided in his plans by American
sympathy. The result of the deliberations of himself, his correspondents
and associates, was to try by the chances of war for the liberation of
Cuba. The disastrous result of the expedition boldly undertaken for this
purpose is already well known.

Before sketching the principal features of this attempt, we may be
permitted to declare that, although we deplore the fate of those of our
countrymen who perished in the adventure, though we readily concede that
many of them were actuated by lofty motives, still we must condemn their
action, and approve of the vigorous measures adopted by the federal
government to suppress that species of reckless adventure in which the
_flibustiers_ engaged. No amount of sympathy with the sufferings of an
oppressed people, no combination of circumstances, no possible results,
can excuse the fitting out of a warlike expedition in the ports of a
nation against the possessions of a friendly power. The flag which has
waved unstained in peace and war over a free land for more than three
quarters of a century, must remain spotless to the last. The hopes of
every free heart in the world are centred on our banner, and we must see
to it that no speck dims the dazzling lustre of its stars. No degree of
pride at the daring gallantry displayed by the little handful of
invaders of Cuba,--a gallantry inherited from a brave ancestry who
displayed their valor in the holiest of causes,--must blind our eyes to
the character of the adventure which called it forth. We have tears for
the fallen, as brothers and men; but our conscience must condemn their
errors. While, individually, we should rejoice to see Cuba free, and an
integral portion of the Union, nothing will ever induce us to adopt the
atrocious doctrine that the ends justify the means. But let us pass to a
consideration of the recent events in the records of the island.

Many of the leading patriots of the island undoubtedly believed that the
government of the United States would second their efforts, if they
should decide to unite themselves to our republic, and boldly raise the
banner of annexation. A portion of the Cuban liberals adopted the motto,
"Legal Reform or Independence;" and these two factions of the patriots
did not henceforth act in perfect concert with each other--a most fatal
error to the interests of both. Time and circumstances favored the war
and annexation party; the people were more than ever discontented with a
government which so oppressed them by a military despotism, and by the
enormous weight of the unjust taxation levied upon them. We may here
remark that the increase of the public revenue, in the midst of so many
elements of destruction and ruin, can only be explained by the facility
with which the captain-general and royal stewards of the island invent
and arrange taxes, at their pleasure, and without a shadow of propriety,
or even precedent.

The _consuming_ population of Cuba amounts to about eight hundred
thousand souls, and the total amount of taxes and contributions of
various forms is more than twenty-three millions of dollars, in specie,
per annum! It is hardly conceivable that such a sum can be extorted from
a population whose wealth is precarious, and whose living is so costly.
With this revenue the government pays and supports an army of over
twenty thousand Peninsular troops in the island; a vast number of
employés, part of the clergy and half the entire navy of Spain; the
diplomatic corps in the United States and Mexico; many officials of rank
at home in Spain; and the surplus is remitted to Spain, and spent on the
Peninsula on matters entirely foreign to the interests of the island
itself. A precious state of affairs!

The colored population of the island, both slaves and free, hated the
Spaniards, for good reasons. The war party, moreover, reckoned on the
genius of a leader (Lopez) trained to arms,[8] equal in talents to any
of the Spanish generals, and beloved by the Spanish troops, as well as
by the Cuban population; and they relied, also, as we have said, on the
sympathy and ultimate aid of the United States government. It is
undoubtedly true that interested parties in this country, prompted by
mercenary motives, increased this latter delusion by false reports;
while the Cuban conspirators, in turn, buoyed up the hopes of their
friends in the United States, by glowing accounts of the patriotic
spirit of the Creoles, and the extent of the preparations they were
making for a successful revolt. General Lopez was actively arranging the
means for an invasion, when, in 1849, the United States government threw
terror into the ranks of the _flibustiers_, by announcing its
determination to enforce the sacredness of treaty stipulations. This,
for a time, frustrated the intended invasion.

In 1850 Lopez succeeded in effecting his first descent upon the island.
Having succeeded in baffling the vigilance of the United States
government, an expedition, consisting of six hundred and fifty-two men,
was embarked on board two sailing-vessels and the steamer Creole, which
conveyed the general and his staff. In the beginning of July the
sailing-vessels left New Orleans, with orders to anchor at Contoy, one
of the Mugeres Islands, on the coast of Yucatan; the general followed,
on the Creole, on the 7th. At the time when the troops were embarked on
the Creole at Contoy, fifty-two of the number, who had been deceived as
to the nature of the expedition, refused to follow the general, and were
left on the island, with the intention of returning to the United States
in the two schooners. General Lopez, after gaining some information from
a fisherman he encountered, resolved to land at Cardenas, on the
northern coast of the island, a hundred and twenty miles east of Havana.
He calculated that he could surprise and master the garrison before the
captain-general could possibly obtain intelligence of his departure from
New Orleans. His plan was, to master the town, secure the authorities,
intimidate the Spaniards, and then, sustained by the moral influence of
victory, proceed to Matanzas by railroad.

Roncali, the captain-general, having received intelligence of the
landing at Contoy, despatched several ships-of-war in that direction, to
seize upon the general and his followers. The latter, however, escaped
the snare, and effected his landing on the 19th. The garrison rushed to
arms, and, while a portion of the troops, after immaterial loss, retired
in good order to the suburbs, another, under the command of Governor
Ceruti, intrenched themselves in the government-house, and gave battle
to the invaders. After a sharp skirmish, the building being set on fire,
they surrendered; the governor and two or three officers were made
prisoners, and the soldiers consented to join the revolutionary colors!
Meanwhile, a body of one hundred invaders seized upon the railroad
station. The engines were fired up, and the trains made ready to
transport the invading column to Matanzas.

But now came a pause. General Lopez, seeing that the native population
did not respond to his appeal, knew that as soon as the news of the
taking of Cardenas should be circulated, he would be in a very critical
situation. In fact, the governor of Matanzas was soon on the march, at
the head of five hundred men. General Armero sailed from Havana in the
Pizarro, with a thousand infantry, while two thousand five hundred
picked troops, under the command of General Count de Mirasol, were sent
from Havana by the railroad. Lopez saw that it would be madness to wait
the attack of these formidable columns, unsupported save by his own
immediate followers, and accordingly issued his orders for the
reëmbarkation of his band, yet without relinquishing the idea of landing
on some more favorable point of the island.

That portion of the garrison which, in the beginning of the affair, had
retreated to the suburbs, finding itself reïnforced by a detachment of
cavalry, attempted to cut off the retreat of the invading general; but
the deadly fire of the latter's reserve decimated the horse, and the
infantry, dismayed at their destruction, took to rapid flight. The
Creole accordingly left the port without molestation, and before the
arrival of the government steam-frigate Pizarro. The Spanish prisoners
were landed at Cayo de Piedras, and then Lopez, discovering the Pizarro
in the distance, made for the American continent, where the steamer was
abandoned. General Lopez was arrested by the authorities of Savannah,
but liberated again, in deference to the public clamor. The Creole was
seized, confiscated and sold. The invaders disbanded; and thus this
enterprise terminated.

A less enterprising and determined spirit than that of General Lopez
would have been completely broken by the failure of his first attempts,
the inactivity of the Cubans, the hostility of the American government,
and the formidable forces and preparations of the Spanish officials. He
believed, however, that the Cubans were ripe for revolt; that public
opinion in the United States would nullify the action of the federal
government; and that, if he could once gain a foothold in the island,
the Spanish troops would desert in such numbers to his banners that the
preponderance of power would soon be upon his side; and, with these
views, he once more busied himself, with unremitting industry, to form
another expedition.

Meanwhile, the daring attack upon Cardenas, while it demonstrated the
determination of the invading party, caused great anxiety in the mind of
General Roncali. True, he had at his disposal an army of more than
twenty thousand regular troops; but he was by no means sure of their
loyalty, and he therefore determined to raise a local militia; but, as
he suffered only Spaniards to enlist in it, he aroused the jealousy of
the Cuban-born inhabitants, and thus swelled the force of opposition
against the government. General Lopez was informed of this fact, and
based new hopes upon the circumstance.

The Spanish government, having recalled Roncali, appointed Don José de
la Concha captain-general of the island, and the severity of his sway
reminded the inhabitants of the iron rule of Tacon. It was during his
administration that Lopez effected his second landing at Playitas, sixty
miles west of Havana. Several partial insurrections, which had preceded
this event, easily suppressed, as it appears, by the Spanish government,
but exaggerated in the accounts despatched to the friends of Cuba in the
United States, inflamed the zeal of Lopez, and made him believe that the
time for a successful invasion had at length arrived.[9] He was so
confident, at one time, of the determination and ability of the Cubans
alone to secure their independence, that he wished to embark without any
force, and throw himself among them. It was this confidence that led him
to embark with only four hundred ill-armed men on board the little
steamer Pampero, on the 2d of August, 1851. This force consisted mostly
of Americans, but embraced forty-nine Cubans in its ranks, with several
German and Hungarian officers; among the latter, General Pragay, one of
the heroes of the Hungarian revolution, who was second in command to
General Lopez on this occasion.

Many of the foreign officers spoke little, if any, English, and mutual
jealousies and insubordinations soon manifested themselves in the little
band. They were composed of fierce spirits, and had come together
without any previous drilling or knowledge of each other. It was not the
intention of the commander-in-chief to sail direct for Cuba, but to go
to the neighborhood of St. John's river, Florida, and get a supply of
artillery, ammunition, extra arms, etc. He then proposed to land
somewhere in the central department, where he thought he could get a
footing, and rally a formidable force, before the government troops
could reach him. But, when five days out, Lopez discovered that the
Pampero was short of coal; as no time could be spared to remedy this
deficiency, he resolved to effect a landing at once, and send back the
Pampero for reïnforcements and supplies. At Key West he obtained
favorable intelligence from Cuba, which confirmed his previous plans. He
learned that a large portion of the troops had been sent to the eastern
department; and he accordingly steered for Bahia Honda (deep bay). The
current of the gulf, acting while the machinery of the boat was
temporarily stopped for repairs, and the variation of the compass in the
neighborhood of so many arms, caused the steamer to run out of her
course on the night of the 10th; and when the morning broke, the
invaders found themselves heading for the narrow entrance of the harbor
of Havana!

The course of the steamer was instantly altered; but all on board
momentarily expected the apparition of a war steamer from the channel
between the Moro and the Punta. It appeared, afterwards, that the
Pampero was signalized as a strange steamer, but not reported as
suspicious until evening. The Pampero then made for the bay of Cabañas;
but, just as she was turning into the entrance, a Spanish frigate and
sloop-of-war were seen at anchor, the first of which immediately gave
chase, but, the wind failing, the frigate gave it up, and returned to
the bay to send intelligence of the expedition to Havana. The landing
was finally effected at midnight, between the 11th and 12th of August,
and the steamer was immediately sent off to the United States for
further reïnforcements. As it was necessary to obtain transportation for
the baggage, General Lopez resolved to leave Col. Crittenden with one
hundred and twenty men to guard it, and with the remainder of the
expedition to push on to Las Pozas, a village about ten miles distant,
whence he could send back carts and horses to receive it. Among the
baggage were four barrels of powder, two of cartridges, the officers'
effects, including the arms of the general, and the flag of the
expedition. From the powder and arms they should not have separated,
but have divided that, against contingency.

In the mean time, seven picked companies of Spanish troops of the line
had been landed at Bahia Honda, which force was strengthened by
contingents drawn from the neighborhood. The march of the invading band
to Las Pozas was straggling and irregular. On reaching the village, they
found it deserted by the inhabitants. A few carts were procured and sent
back to Crittenden, that he might advance with the baggage. Lopez here
learned from a countryman of the preparations making to attack him. It
was no portion of his plan to bring the men into action with regular
troops, in their present undisciplined state; he proposed rather to take
a strong position in the mountains, and there plant his standard as a
rallying-point, and await the rising of the Cubans, and the return of
the Pampero with reïnforcements for active operations.

As soon as Lopez learned the news from Bahia Honda, he despatched a
peremptory order to Crittenden to hasten up with the rear-guard,
abandoning the heavy baggage, but bringing off the cartridges and papers
of the expedition.

But the fatal delay of Crittenden separated him forever from the main
body, only a small detachment of his comrades (under Captain Kelly) ever
reaching it. The next day, while breakfast was being prepared for them,
the soldiers of the expedition were suddenly informed, by a volley from
one of the houses of the village, that the Spanish troops were upon
them. They flew to arms at once, and the Cuban company dislodged the
vanguard of the enemy, who had fired, at the point of the bayonet, their
captain, Oberto, receiving his death-wound in the spirited affair.
General Enna, a brave officer, in command of the Spanish troops, made
two charges in column on the centre of the invaders' line, but was
repulsed by that deadly fire which is the preëminent characteristic of
American troops. Four men alone escaped from the company heading the
first column, and seventeen from that forming the advance of the second
column of attack. The Spaniards were seized with a panic, and fled.

Lopez's force in this action amounted to about two hundred and eighty
men; the Spaniards had more than eight hundred. The total loss of the
former, in killed and wounded, was thirty-five; that of the latter,
about two hundred men killed, and a large number wounded! The invaders
landed with about eighty rounds of cartridges each; the Spanish dead
supplied them with about twelve thousand more; and a further supply was
subsequently obtained at Las Frias; the ammunition left with Crittenden
was never recovered. In the battle of Las Pozas, General Enna's horse
was shot under him, and his second in command killed. The invaders lost
Colonel Downman, a brave American officer; while General Pragay was
wounded, and afterwards died in consequence. Though the invaders fired
well and did terrible execution, they could not be prevailed upon to
charge the enemy, and gave great trouble to the officers by their
insubordination. The night after the battle, Captain Kelly came up with
forty men, and announced that the Spanish troops had succeeded in
dividing the rear-guard, and that the situation of Crittenden was
unknown. It was not until some days afterwards that it was ascertained
that Crittenden's party, attempting to leave the island in launches, had
been made prisoners by a Spanish man-of-war. They were taken to Havana,
and brutally shot at the castle of Atares.

About two o'clock on the 14th of August, the expedition resumed its
march for the interior, leaving behind their wounded, who were
afterwards killed and mutilated by the Spaniards. The second action with
the Spanish troops occurred at the coffee-plantation of Las Frias,
General Enna attacking with four howitzers, one hundred and twenty
cavalry, and twelve hundred infantry. The Spanish general attacked with
his cavalry, but they were met by a deadly fire, thrown into utter
confusion, and forced to retreat, carrying off the general mortally
wounded. The panic of the cavalry communicated itself to the infantry,
and the result was a complete rout. This was the work of about two
hundred muskets; for many of Lopez's men had thrown away their arms on
the long and toilsome march.

The expedition, however, was too weak to profit by their desperate
successes, and had no means of following up these victories. Plunging
into the mountains, they wandered about for days, drenched with rain,
destitute of food or proper clothing, until despair at last seized
them. They separated from each other, a few steadfast comrades remaining
by their leader. In the neighborhood of San Cristoval, Lopez finally
surrendered to a party of pursuers. He was treated with every indignity
by his captors, though he submitted to everything with courage and
serenity. He was taken in a steamer from Mariel to Havana.

Arrived here, he earnestly desired to obtain an interview with Concha,
who had been an old companion-in-arms with him in Spain; not that he
expected pardon at his hands, but hoping to obtain a change in the
manner of his death. His soul shrank from the infamous _garrotte_, and
he aspired to the indulgence of the _cuatro tiros_ (four shots). Both
the interview and the indulgence were refused, and he was executed on
the first of September, at seven o'clock in the morning, in the Punta,
by that mode of punishment which the Spaniards esteem the most infamous
of all. When he landed at Bahia Honda, he stooped and kissed the earth,
with the fond salutation, "_Querida Cuba_" (dear Cuba)! and his last
words, pronounced in a tone of deep tenderness, were, "_Muero por mi
amada Cuba_" (I die for my beloved Cuba).[10]

The remainder of the prisoners who fell into the hands of the
authorities were sent to the Moorish fortress of Ceuta; but Spain seems
to have been ashamed of the massacre of Atares, and has atoned for the
ferocity of her colonial officials by leniency towards the misguided men
of the expedition, granting them a pardon.

At present it may be said that "order reigns in Warsaw," and the island
is comparatively quiet in the presence of a vast armed force. To Concha
have succeeded Canedo and Pezuelas, but no change for the better has
taken place in the administration of the island. Rigorous to the native
population, insolent and overbearing to foreigners, respecting no flag
and regarding no law, the captains-general bear themselves as though
Spain was still a first-rate power as of yore, terrible on land, and
afloat still the mistress of the sea.


[8] His reputation as a cavalry officer was very distinguished, and he
was commonly recognized as _La primera Lanza de España_ (the first lance
of Spain).--_Louis Schlesinger's Narrative of the Expedition._

[9] "The general showed me much of his correspondence from the island.
It represented a pervading anxiety for his arrival, on the part of the
Creole population. His presence alone, to head the insurrection, which
would then become general, was all they called for; his presence and a
supply of arms, of which they were totally destitute. The risings
already made were highly colored in some of the communications addressed
to him from sources of unquestionable sincerity."--_Louis Schlesinger's
Narrative of the Expedition._

[10] General Lopez was born in Venezuela, South America, in 1798; and
hence, at the time of his execution, must have been about fifty-two
years of age. He early became an adopted citizen of Cuba, and espoused
one of its daughters.


    Present condition of Cuba--Secret treaty with France and
    England--British plan for the Africanization of the island--Sale of
    Cuba--Measures of General Pezuela--Registration of
    slaves--Intermarriage of blacks and whites--Contradictory
    proclamations--Spanish duplicity--A Creole's view of the crisis and
    the prospect.

Cuba is at present politically in a critical and alarming condition, and
the most intelligent natives and resident foreigners live in constant
dread of a convulsion more terrific and sanguinary than that which
darkened the annals of St. Domingo. Those best informed of the temper,
designs and position of Spain, believe in the existence of a secret
treaty between that country, France and England, by which the two latter
powers guarantee to Spain her perpetual possession of the island, on
condition of her carrying out the favorite abolition schemes of the
British government, and Africanizing the island. Spain, it is supposed,
unable to stand alone, and compelled to elect between the loss of her
colony and subserviency to her British ally, has chosen of the two evils
that which wounds her pride the least, and is best calculated to secure
the interests of monarchical Europe. All the recent measures of the
Captain-general Pezuela are calculated to produce the conviction that
the Africanization of Cuba has been resolved upon; and, if his alarming
proclamation of the third of May has been somewhat modified by
subsequent proclamations and official declarations, it is only because
the Spanish government lacks the boldness to unmask all its schemes,
while the Eastern war prevents France and Great Britain from sending
large armaments to Cuba to support it; and because the national vessels
and troops destined to swell the government forces in the island have
not all arrived. But for the existence of the war in the East, the
manifestoes of the captain-general would have been much more explicit.
As it is, they are sufficiently bold and menacing.

A peaceful solution to the question of Cuba, by its sale to the United
States, is not regarded as probable by the best-informed Creoles. They
say that, even if the queen were disposed to sell the island, it would
be impossible to obtain the consent of the Cortes. The integrity of the
Spanish domain, including all the islands, is protected by legal
enactment; and it would require the abrogation of a fundamental law
before it could be consummated.[11] Now, the Spanish subjects well
understand that they would not be likely to be gainers by the sale of
Cuba, however large a sum the United States might be willing to pay for
it, while the monopoly to trade, the bestowal of lucrative insular
offices on Spaniards alone, and other incidental advantages, give them a
direct interest in the maintenance of the present order of things. Those
who take this view of the question say that if Spain has not promptly
rejected the overtures supposed to have been made by our minister at
Madrid, this delay indicates only a conscious weakness, and not any
hesitation of purpose. It is simply a diplomatic trick--a temporizing
policy. Why, they ask, if Spain had any idea of parting with the island,
would she be making naval and military preparations on a grand and
costly scale, at home, while in the island she is making large levies,
and enrolling colored troops, not as militia, as the government has
falsely given out, but as regulars? We are reluctant to abandon the hope
of our purchasing the island, but candor compels us to state the
plausible arguments of those who assert that no success can possibly
attend the plan for its peaceable acquisition.

Within a brief space of time, the administration of General Pezuela has
been signalized by measures of great significance and importance: The
decree of the third of May; the order for the registration of slaves
introduced into the island in violation of the treaty of 1817; the
decree freeing more than fifteen thousand _emancipados_ in the space of
a fortnight; that of May 25th, enrolling and arming negroes and
mulattoes; the project for importing negroes and mulattoes from Africa,
under the name of free apprentices; the institution of free schools for
the instruction of the blacks, while the whites are abandoned to their
own resources; and, finally, the legalization of the intermarriages of
blacks and whites, which last measure has actually been carried into
effect, to the indignation of the Creoles,--all these measures show the
determination of the Spanish government to bring about the emancipation
of slavery, and the social equalization of the colored and white
population, that it may maintain its grasp upon the island, under
penalty of a war of races, which could only terminate in the extinction
of the whites, in case of a revolutionary movement.

The proclamation of the third of May, alluded to above, and disclosing
some of the abolition plans of the government, produced a startling
sensation. In it the captain-general said: "It is time for the planter
to substitute for the rapid but delusive advantages derived from the
sale of human flesh, safer profits, more in harmony with civilization,
religion and morals;" and that "the time had come to make the life of
the slave sweeter than that of the white man who labors under another
name in Europe." The proclamation, coupled with that conferring
exclusive educational advantages on colored persons, roused even the
Spaniards; some of the wealthiest and most influential of whom held
secret meetings to discuss the measures to be adopted in such a crisis,
in which it was resolved to withhold all active aid from the government,
some going so far as to advocate the making of common cause with the
Creoles. The mere hint of a fusion between the Spaniards and Creoles,
whom it has been the policy of the colonial government to alienate from
each other, was sufficient to excite the fears of the captain-general;
and accordingly, on the 31st of May, he published a sort of explanatory
manifesto, designed to allay the alarm of the Spaniards, and
conflicting, in several points, with that of the 3d. "Her Majesty's
government," says the document of the 31st, "is well aware that the
unhappy race (the Africans), once placed among civilized men, and
protected by the religion and the great laws of our ancestors, is, in
its so-called slavery, a thousand times happier than other European
classes, whose liberty is only nominal." If this assertion were true,
what becomes of the famous declaration, in the former proclamation, that
the time had arrived to make the life of the slave happier than of the
white European laborer? If this assertion were true, that "good time"
had not only arrived, but passed away, and his measures for the
improvement of the involuntary bondmen were actually supererogatory. The
owners of slaves are, moreover, assured that they shall not be disturbed
in the possession of their "legitimate property," and that the
government will conciliate a due regard for such property "with the
sacred fulfilment of treaties."

It is very evident that the Creoles are doomed to be the victims of
Spanish duplicity. It is notorious that many thousands of slaves have
been introduced into the island, for a series of years, with the
connivance of the government, when they had it in their power, at any
time, to stop the traffic altogether. The vigilance of the British
cruisers was baffled by the assurance that the Africans thus brought
over were apprentices, Spain never hesitating to deceive an ally; and
now, when compelled to keep faith, in a desperate emergency, she betrays
her own subjects, and throws the penalty of her own bad faith on them.

A gentleman residing in Cuba writes: "No one can be here, and watch the
progress of things, without being convinced that the ultimate object is
the emancipation of the slaves of the island transported subsequent to
the treaty of 1820, which will comprise four-fifths of the whole number;
and no one who is an attentive observer, and with his ears open, but
must be satisfied that there is some other powerful influence brought to
bear on the subject besides Spain. Take, for instance, the late order
for the registration of the slaves. The British consul openly says that
the British government have been, for a long time, urging the measure.
But it is not only in this, but in every other step taken, that the
British finger is constantly seen. A thousand corroborative
circumstances could be cited. Cuba is to-day indebted to Russia for
being free from this calamity. But for the emperor's obstinacy, there
would have been an English and French fleet that would have enabled them
to carry out all the measures they have in contemplation."

With relation to the intermarriage of blacks and whites, our informant
says, "Many marriages have been performed since the date of the
circular,"--that of the Bishop of Havana to the curates of the island,
by the authority of the captain-general.

"The captain-general," says the same authority, "is now exerting his
influence for the admission of blacks into the university, to prepare
them for clerical orders. Should this system be adopted, I fear it will
lead to bad consequences. It will, of course, be strenuously opposed.
The indignation of the Creoles has been difficult to restrain,--at which
you cannot be surprised, when their daughters, wives and sisters, are
daily insulted, particularly by those in uniform. I fear a collision may
take place. If once commenced, it will be terrific."

The decree authorizing the celebration of marriages between blacks and
whites has probably produced more indignation among the Creoles than any
other official acts of the captain-general. It was directed to the
bishop in the form of a circular, and issued on the 22d of May. On the
29th of the same month, the bishop transmitted copies of it to all the
curates within his jurisdiction; and, as we have seen, many of these
incongruous marriages have been already solemnized. Notwithstanding
these notorious and well-authenticated facts, the official organ of the
government, the _Diario de la Marina_, had the effrontery to publish a
denial of the transaction, asserting it to be mere idle gossip, without
the slightest foundation, and ridiculing the idea in a tone of levity
and _persiflage_.

This may teach us how little dependence is to be placed on the
declarations of the Spanish officials; and we shall be prepared to
receive with incredulity the denial, in the name of the queen, of the
existence of a treaty with England, having for its base the abolition of
slavery, as a reward for British aid in preserving Cuba to Spain. The
captain-general says that she relies not on foreign aid to maintain her
rights, but on her powerful "navy and disciplined army; on the loyalty
of the very immense (_inmensisima_) majority of her vigorous native
citizens (Creoles); on the strength imparted to the good by the defence
of their hearths, their laws and their God; and on the hurricanes and
yellow fever for the enemy."

"Here," writes a Cuban gentleman, commenting on the above declaration,
"we must make a pause, and remark, _en passant_, that the name of her
majesty thus invoked, far from giving force to the denial, weakens it
greatly; for we all know the value of the royal word, particularly that
of her majesty Isabella II. In her name a full pardon was offered to
Armenteros and his associates, who raised the cry of independence in
Trinidad, and this document effected the purpose for which it was
designed. Armenteros and the others, who placed reliance in the royal
word, were, some of them, shot, and the rest deported to African
dungeons. No reliance can be placed on the loyalty of the vast majority
of the vigorous citizens (unless the negroes alone are comprehended
under this phrase), when the whites are deprived of arms for the defence
of their country, and men are fined five pesos for carrying canes of a
larger size than can be readily introduced into a gun-barrel, and free
people of color are alone admitted into the ranks of the troops. The
Cubans are not relied upon, since, to prevent their joining Lopez, all
the roads were blockaded, and everybody found on them shot; and the
immense number of exiles does not prove the majority which favors the
government to be so prodigious.

"The value of the powerful navy and well-trained army of the island was
shown in the landing of Lopez, and the victories that three hundred men
constantly obtained over an army of seven thousand, dispersing only when
ammunition failed them. Hurricanes and the yellow fever are most
melancholy arms of defence; and, if they only injured the enemy, the
Spaniards, who are as much exposed as other Europeans to the fatal
influence, would be the true enemies of Cuba."

The following remarks on the present condition and prospects of the
island are translated from a letter written by an intelligent Creole,
thoroughly conversant with its affairs:

"The whites tremble for their existence and property; no one thinks
himself secure; confidence has ceased, and with it credit; capitalists
have withdrawn their money from circulation; the banks of deposit have
suspended their discounts; premiums have reached a fabulous point for
the best of paper. The government was not ignorant that this would be
the result, and prepared to get out of the momentary crisis by the
project of a bank,[12] published in the _Gaceta_ of the 4th (May); but
the most needy class, in the present embarrassed circumstances, is that
of the planters; and it is necessary, to enable them to fulfil their
engagements, that their notes should be made payable at the end of the
year,--that is, from harvest to harvest,--and not at the end of six
months, as provided for in the regulations. But it matters not; we are
pursuing the path which will precipitate us into the abyss, if
instantaneous and efficacious help does not come to save the island from
the imminent ruin which threatens it.

"The cause of the liberty of nations has always perished in its cradle,
because its defenders have never sought to deviate from legal
paths,--because they have followed the principles sanctioned by the laws
of nations; while despots, always the first to exact obedience to them
when it suited their convenience, have been the first to infringe them
when they came into collision with their interests. Their alliances to
suppress liberty are called _holy_, and the crimes they commit by
invading foreign territories, and summoning foreign troops to their aid
to oppress their own vassals, are sacred duties, compliances with secret
compacts; and, if the congresses, parliaments and Cortes of other
nations, raise the cry to Heaven, they answer, the government has
protested,--acts have been performed without their sanction,--there is
no remedy,--they are acts accomplished.

"An act accomplished will shortly be the abolition of slavery in Cuba;
and the tardy intervention of the United States will only have taken
place when its brilliant constellation lights up the vast sepulchre
which will cover the bodies of her sons, sacrificed to the black race as
a reward for their sympathies with American institutions, and the vast
carnage it will cost to punish the African victors. What can be done
to-day without great sacrifices to help the Cubans, to-morrow cannot be
achieved without the effusion of rivers of blood, and when the few
surviving Cubans will curse an intervention which, deaf to their cries,
will only be produced by the cold calculations of egotism. Then the
struggle will not be with the Spaniards alone. The latter will now
accede to all the claims of the cabinet at Washington, by the advice of
the ambassadors of France and England, to advance, meanwhile, with surer
step to the end,--to give time for the solution of the Eastern question,
and for France and England to send their squadrons into these waters.
Well may they deny the existence of secret treaties; this is very easy
for kings, as it will be when the case of the present treaty comes up,
asserting that the treaty was posterior to their negative, or refusing
explanations as inconsistent with their dignity. But we witness the
realization of our fears; we see the Spanish government imperturbably
setting on foot plans which were thought to be the delirium of excited
imaginations; doing at once what promised to be a gradual work; and hear
it declared, by distinguished persons, who possess the confidence of
General Pezuela, that the existence of the treaty is certain, and that
the United States will be told that they should have accepted the offer
made to become a party to it, in which case the other two powers could
not have adopted the abolition scheme. But, supposing this treaty to
have no existence, the fact of the abolition of slavery is no less
certain. It is only necessary to read the proclamation of the
captain-general, if the last acts of the government be not sufficiently
convincing. The result to the island of Cuba and to the United States is
the same, either way. If the latter do not hasten to avert the blow,
they will soon find it impossible to remedy the evil. In the island
there is not a reflecting man,--foreigner or native, Creole or
European,--who does not tremble for the future that awaits us, at a
period certainly not far remote."


[11] The administration of Bravo Murillo fell in an attempt of this
kind, and did not rise again.

[12] Pezuela's bank is to have a capital of two million dollars; the
government to be a shareholder for half a million. The effect of such an
institution would be to drain the island of specie.


    Geographical position of the island--Its size--The climate--Advice
    to invalids--Glance at the principal cities--Matanzas--Puerto
    Principe--Santiago de Cuba--Trinidad--The writer's first view of
    Havana--Importance of the capital--Its literary
    institutions--Restriction on Cuban youths and education--Glance at
    the city streets--Style of architecture--Domestic arrangements of
    town houses--A word about Cuban ladies--Small feet--Grace of manners
    and general characteristics.

Having thus briefly glanced at the political story of Cuba, let us now
pass to a consideration of such peculiarities of climate, soil and
population, as would naturally interest a stranger on visiting the
island. The form, geographically speaking, of Cuba, is quite irregular,
and resembles the blade of a Turkish scimeter slightly curved back, or
approaching the form of a long, narrow crescent. It stretches away in
this shape from east to west, throwing its western end into a curve, as
if to form an impregnable barrier to the outlet of the Gulf of Mexico;
and as if, at some ancient period, it had formed a part of the American
continent, and had been severed on its north side from the Florida
peninsula by the wearing of the Gulf-stream, and from Yucatan, on its
south-western point, by a current setting into the gulf. Its political
position all concede to be of the most vital importance to the United
States; and this will be apparent to any one, from the slightest
inspection of the map.

It is the most westerly of the West Indian isles, and, compared with the
rest, has nearly twice as much superficial extent of territory. Its
greatest extent, from east to west, is about six hundred miles; its
narrowest part, twenty-two miles. The circumference is about two
thousand miles, containing some thirty-two thousand square miles.[13]
The narrow form of the island, and the Cordillera chain of mountains,
which divides it throughout its whole length, leave a very limited
course for its rivers and streams; and consequently these in the rainy
season become torrents, and during the rest of the year are nearly dried
up. Those that sustain themselves throughout the year are well stocked
with delicate and finely-flavored fish.

Probably no place on the earth has a finer or more desirable climate
than has the main portion of Cuba;[14] with the clear atmosphere of the
low latitudes, no mist, the sun seldom obscured, and the appearance of
the stars and sky at night far brighter and more beautiful than at the
north.[15] The atmosphere does not seem to lose its transparency with
the departure of day. Sunset is ever remarkable for its soft, mellow
beauty here, and the long twilight that follows it. For many years the
island has been the resort of the northern invalid in search of health,
especially of those laboring under pulmonary affections; the soft,
soothing power of the climate having a singularly healing influence, as
exercised in the balmy trade-winds.[16] The climate so uniformly soft
and mild, the vegetation so thriving and beautiful, the fruits so
delicious and abundant, seem to give it a character almost akin to that
we have seen described in tales of fairy land.

The declining health of a beloved companion was the motive which induced
the author of these pages to visit the delightful climate of Cuba, with
the hope that its genial and kindly influence might revive her physical
powers; nor were these hopes disappointed; for, transplanted from the
rough climate of our own New England, immediate and permanent
improvement was visible. To persons in the early stages of pulmonary
complaints the West Indies hold forth great promise of relief; and, at
the period when invalid New Englanders most require to avoid their own
homes, namely, during the prevailing east winds of April, May and June,
the island of Cuba is in the glory of high summer, and enjoying the
healthiest period of its yearly returns. After the early part of June,
the unacclimated would do well to take passage up the gulf to New
Orleans, and come gradually north with the advancing season. From the
proximity of Cuba in the north-western parts to our own continent, the
climate is variable, and a few hundred feet above the level of the sea
ice is sometimes formed, but snow never falls upon the island, though it
is occasionally visited in this region by hail storms. In the cities and
near the swamps, the yellow fever, that scourge of all hot climates,
prevails from the middle of June to the last of October; but in the
interior of the island, where the visitor is at a wholesome distance
from humidity and stagnant water, it is no more unhealthy than our own
cities in summer. It is doubtful if Havana, even in the fever season, is
as unhealthy as New Orleans during the same period of the year.

The principal cities of the island are Havana, with a population of
about two hundred thousand; Matanzas, twenty-five thousand; Puerto
Principe, fourteen thousand; Santiago de Cuba, thirty thousand;
Trinidad, thirteen thousand; St. Salvador, eight thousand; Manzanilla,
three thousand; Cardenas, Nuevitas, Sagua la Grande, Mariel, etc. etc.
Cuba abounds in fine large harbors; those of Havana, Niepe and Nuevitas,
are among the best. The bay of Matanzas is also capacious; Cardenas and
the roadstead of Sagua la Grande have plenty of water for brigs and
schooners. Matanzas,[17] though second to Puerto Principe in point of
inhabitants, yet stands next to Havana in commercial importance, and is
said to be much healthier than the capital. It is located in a valley in
one of the most fertile portions of the island, the city extending from
the flat sea-shore up to the picturesque and verdant heights by which
the town is surrounded in the form of an amphitheatre. The
fortifications are of rather a meagre character. The custom-house is the
most prominent building which strikes the eye on approaching the city by
water, and is an elegant structure of stone, but one story high, built
at the early part of the present century. On the heights above the city,
the inhabitants have planted their country seats, and from the bay the
whole scene is most delightfully picturesque. There are two fine
churches in Matanzas, and a second-class theatre, cock-pit, etc.
Statistics show the custom-house receipts of the port to exceed the
large sum of a million and a half dollars annually. Besides the railroad
leading to Havana, there is another leading to the interior and bearing
southward, of some thirty or forty miles in length. On all the Cuban
railroads you ride in American-built cars, drawn by American-built
engines, and conducted by American engineers. The back country from
Matanzas is rich in sugar and coffee plantations.

Puerto Principe is the capital of the central department of the island,
and is situated in the interior. The trade of the place, from the want
of water-carriage, is inconsiderable, and bears no proportion to the
number of inhabitants. What ever portion of the produce of Puerto
Principe and its immediate neighborhood is exported, must find its way
first to Nuevitas, twelve and a half leagues distant, from whence it is
shipped, and from whence it receives in return its foreign supplies. It
is situated about one hundred and fifty miles from Havana. Its original
locality, when founded by Velasquez, was Nuevitas, but the inhabitants,
when the place was feeble in numbers and strength, were forced to remove
to this distance inland, to avoid the fierce incursions of the
Buccaneers, who thronged the coast.

Santiago de Cuba has a noble harbor, and is defended by a miniature Moro
Castle, being a well-planned fortress after the same style, and known as
_El Moro_. This city was founded in 1512, and is the capital of the
eastern department of the island, but has at various times suffered
severely from earthquakes, and within a couple of years was visited by
the cholera, which swept off some five or six thousand of its population
in about the same number of weeks. Santiago, though it now presents many
features of decay, and its cathedral is closed for fear of disaster
occurring if it should be occupied, is yet the third city on the island
in a commercial point of view. The immediate neighborhood of the city
being mountainous and somewhat sterile, produces little sugar, but the
many fine coffee estates, and several vast copper mines of uncomputed
extent and value, which have been worked by English companies, give it
much importance. It is two hundred and thirty leagues from Havana, on
the south coast.

Trinidad, situated about a league from Casilda, on the south coast, and
ninety miles from Havana, is probably one of the healthiest and
pleasantest locations for invalids on the island. It lies at the base of
a ridge of mountains that protect it from the north wind, and is free
from all humidity, with that great blessing, good water, at hand, an
article which unfortunately is very scarce in Cuba.

Our first view of Moro Castle was gained from the quarter-deck, after a
fifteen days' voyage; it was just as the sun was dipping into the sea,
too late for us to enter the harbor, for the rules of the port are
rigorously observed, and we were obliged to stand off and on through the
night. At early morning our jack was set at the fore as a signal for a
pilot, and at noon we had answered the rough peremptory hail from the
castle, and dropped anchor in the safe and beautiful harbor of the
capital. The scene was absorbingly interesting to a stranger. Around us
floated the flags of many nations, conspicuous among which were the
gallant stars and stripes. On the one side lay the city, on a low, level
plain, while the hills that make the opposite side of the harbor
presented a beautiful picture of the soft green sward and the luxuriant
verdure that forms the constant garb of the tropics.

As Paris is said to be France, so is Havana Cuba, and its history
embraces in no small degree that of all the island, being the centre of
its talent, wealth and population. Every visible circumstance proclaims
the great importance of the city, even to the most casual observer.
Moro Castle[18] frowning over the narrow entrance of the harbor, the
strong battery answering to it on the opposite point, and known as La
Punta, the long range of cannon and barracks on the city side, the
powerful and massive fortress of the Cabanas[19] crowning the hill
behind the Moro, all speak unitedly of the immense importance of the
place. Havana is the heart of Cuba, and will never be yielded unless the
whole island be given up; indeed, the possessors of this strong-hold
command the whole Spanish West Indies. The bay, shaped like an outspread
hand, the wrist for the entrance, is populous with the ships of all
nations,[20] and the city, with its 200,000 inhabitants, is a depot of
wealth and luxury. With an enormous extent of public buildings,
cathedrals, antique and venerable churches and convents, with the
palaces of nobles and private gentlemen of wealth, all render this
capital of Cuba probably the richest place for its number of square rods
in the world.

Beside the Royal University of Havana, a medical and law school, and
chairs on all the natural sciences, it contains many other institutions
of learning. It is true that, in spite of their liberal purpose and
capability, there is a blight, as it were, hanging over them all. Pupils
enlist cautiously, suffer undue restraint, and in spite of themselves
seem to feel that there is an unseen influence at work against the
spirit of these advantages. Among the schools are a Royal Seminary for
girls, a free school of sculpture and painting, a mercantile school,
also free, with many private institutions of learning, of course not to
be compared in ability or general advantages to like institutions with
us. There is a fine museum of Natural History, and just outside the city
walls a very extensive botanical garden. No one, even among the
islanders, who would be supposed to feel the most pride in the subject,
will for a moment deny, however, that the means for education are very
limited in Cuba. An evidence of this is perceptibly evinced by the fact
that the sons of the planters are almost universally sent abroad, mostly
to this country, for educational purposes. An order was not long since
promulgated, by direction of the home government, in which the
inhabitants are forbidden to send their children to the United States,
for the purpose of education. A bold, decided order.

Of course the reason for this is quite apparent, and is openly
acknowledged in Havana, viz:--that these youths, during their residence
here, adopt liberal ideas and views of our republican policy, which
become fixed principles with them; nor is there any doubt of this being
the case, for such students as have thus returned, unhesitatingly
(among friends) avow their sentiments, and most ardently express a hope
for Cuban independence; and this class, too, upon the island are far
more numerous than might at first be supposed. Those who have been
educated in France, Germany, and England, seem at once to imbibe the
spirit of those youths who have returned from the United States, and
long before there was any open demonstration relative to the first Lopez
expedition, these sons of the planters had formed themselves into a
secret society, which is doubtless still sustained, with the avowed
purpose of exercising its ability and means to free Cuba, sooner or
later, from the Spanish yoke.

The city of Havana is surrounded by a high wall and ditch, and its gates
are always strictly guarded by soldiery, no stranger being permitted to
pass unchallenged. The streets, which are extremely narrow, are all
Macadamized, and cross each other at right angles, like those of
Philadelphia and some other American cities. There are no sidewalks,
unless a narrow line of flag-stones which are level with the surface of
the street may be so called. Indeed, the people have little use for
sidewalks, for they drive almost universally about town in place of
walking, being thus borne about in that peculiar vehicle, a volante. A
woman of respectability is never seen on foot in the streets, and this
remark, as singular as it may sound to our Broadway and
Washington-street belles, is applicable even to the humblest classes;
unless, indeed, it be the fruit women from the country, with their
baskets richly laden upon their heads, while they cry the names of
their tempting burdens in the long drawling Spanish style.

The architecture of the city houses is exceedingly heavy, giving to them
an appearance of great age. They are constructed so as almost
universally to form squares in their centres, which constitutes the only
yard which the house can have, and upon which the lofty arches of the
corridor look down. The lower story is always occupied as storeroom,
kitchen, and stable, (think of a suite of drawing-rooms over a stable!)
while the universal volante blocks up in part the only entrance to the
house. From this inner court-yard a wide flight of steps leads to the
second story, from the corridor of which all the rooms open, giving them
an opening front and rear on two sides at least. As peculiar as this
mode of building may seem, it is nevertheless well adapted to the
climate, and one becomes exceedingly well satisfied with the

An air of rude grandeur reigns over all the structure, the architecture
being mainly Gothic and Saracenic. The rooms are all lofty, and the
floors are stuccoed or tiled, while the walls and ceilings are
frequently ornamented in fresco, the excellence of the workmanship of
course varying in accordance with the owner's or occupant's means, and
his ability to procure an artist of high or _mediocre_ talent. But the
most striking peculiarity of the town house in Cuba, is the great care
taken to render it safe against assault. Every man's house is literally
his castle here, each accessible window being barricaded with iron
bars, while large massive folding doors secure the entrance to the
house, being bullet proof and of immense strength. No carpets are seen
here, and from the neighboring Isle of Pines, which lies off the
southern shore of Cuba, a thick slate is found, also marble and jasper
of various colors, which are cut in squares, and form the general
material for floors in the dwelling-houses. The heat of the climate
renders carpets, or even wooden floors, quite insupportable, and they
are very rarely to be found.

We have said that the Creole ladies never stir abroad except in the
national volante, and whatever their domestic habits may be, they are
certainly, in this respect, good _house-keepers_. A Cuban belle could
never, we fancy, be made to understand the pleasures of that most
profitless of all employments, spinning street-yarn. While our ladies
are busily engaged in sweeping the sidewalks of Chestnut-street and
Broadway with their silk flounces, she wisely leaves that business to
the gangs of criminals who perform the office with their limbs chained,
and a ball attached to preserve their equilibrium. It is perhaps in part
owing to these habits that the feet of the Cuban señorita are such a
marvel of smallness and delicacy, seemingly made rather for ornament
than for use. She knows the charm of the _petit pied bien chaussé_ that
delights the Parisian, and accordingly, as you catch a glimpse of it, as
she steps into the volante, you perceive that it is daintily shod in a
French slipper, the sole of which is scarcely more substantial in
appearance than writing paper.[21]

The feet of the Havana ladies are made for ornament and for dancing.
Though with a roundness of figure that leaves nothing to be desired in
symmetry of form, yet they are light as a sylph, clad in muslin and
lace, so languid and light that it would seem as if a breeze might waft
them away like a summer cloud. They are passionately fond of dancing,
and tax the endurance of the gentlemen in their heroic worship of
Terpsichore. Inspired by the thrilling strains of those Cuban airs,
which are at once so sweet and brilliant, they glide or whirl through
the mazes of the dance hour after hour, until daylight breaks upon the
scene of fairy revel. Then, "exhausted but not satiated," they betake
themselves to sleep, to dream of the cadences of some Cuban Strauss, and
to beat time in imagination to the lively notes, and to dream over the
soft words and winning glances they have exchanged.

Beautiful as eastern houris, there is a striking and endearing charm
about the Cuban ladies, their very motion being replete with a native
grace; every limb elastic and supple. Their voices are sweet and low,
"an excellent thing in woman," and the subdued tone of their complexions
is relieved by the arch vivacity of night-black eyes that alternately
swim in melting lustre or sparkle in expressive glances. Their costume
is never ostentatious, though costly; the most delicate muslin, the
finest linen, the richest silk, the most exquisitely made satin
shoes,--these, of course, render their chaste attire exceedingly
expensive. There are no "strong-minded" women among them, nor is it
hardly possible to conceive of any extremity that could induce them to
get up a woman's right convention--a suspension of fans and volantes
might produce such a phenomenon, but we very much doubt it.

The Creole ladies lead a life of decided ease and pleasure. What little
work they do is very light and lady-like, a little sewing or embroidery;
the bath and the _siesta_ divide the sultry hours of the day. They wait
until nearly sunset for the drive in the dear volante, and then go to
respond by sweet smiles to the salutations of the _caballeros_ on the
Paseos, and after the long twilight to the Plaza de Armas, to listen to
the governor's military band, and then perhaps to join the mazy dance.
Yet they are capable of deep and high feeling, and when there was a
prospect of the liberation of the island, these fair patriots it will be
remembered gave their most precious jewels and ornaments as a
contribution to the glorious cause of liberty.


[13] Humboldt's calculation makes it contain forty-three thousand, three
hundred and eighty square miles; but other estimates approximate more
nearly our own statement.

[14] According to Dr. Finlay, a resident physician on the island, its
hottest months are July and August, when the mean temperature is from
80° to 83° Fahrenheit.

[15] "The nights are very dark, but the darkness is as if transparent;
the air is not felt. There could not be more beautiful nights in
Paradise."--_Miss Bremer's Letters._

[16] When consumption _originates_ in Cuba, it runs its course so
rapidly that there is, perhaps, no wonder the Creoles should deem it, as
they universally do, to be contagious.

[17] The first lines of this city were traced on Saturday, the 10th of
October, 1693, by Señor Manzaneda, under whose government it was
founded. It was named San Cárlos Alcázar de Matanzas; the last word,
that by which it is known, signifying the slaughter of a battle-field.

[18] Moro Castle was first built in 1633; the present structure was
erected on the ruins of the first, destroyed by the English in 1762.

[19] Built by Charles III., and said to have cost the sum of $7,000,000.
According to Rev. L.L. Allen's lecture on Cuba, it was more than forty
years in building.

[20] The port of Havana is one of the best harbors in the world. It has
a very narrow entrance, but spreads immediately into a vast basin,
embracing the whole city, and large enough to hold a thousand ships of
war.--_Alexander H. Everett._

[21] "Her hands and feet are as small and delicate as those of a child.
She wears the finest satin slippers, with scarcely any soles, which,
luckily, are never destined to touch the street."--_Countess Merlin's


    Contrast between Protestant and Catholic communities--Catholic
    churches--Sabbath scenes in Havana--Devotion of the common
    people--The Plaza de Armas--City squares--The poor man's
    opera--Influence of music--La Dominica--The Tacon Paseo--The Tacon
    Theatre--The Cathedral--Tomb of Columbus over the altar--Story of
    the great Genoese pilot--His death--Removal of remains--The former
    great wealth of the church in Cuba--Influence of the priests.

On no occasion is the difference between the manners of a Protestant and
Catholic community so strongly marked as on the Sabbath. In the former,
a sober seriousness stamps the deportment of the people, even when they
are not engaged in devotional exercises; in the latter, worldly
pleasures and religious exercises are pursued as it were at the same
time, or follow each other in incongruous succession. The Parisian flies
from the church to the railway station, to take a pleasure excursion
into the country, or passes with careless levity from St. Genevieve to
the Jardin Mabille; in New Orleans, the Creole, who has just bent his
knee before the altar, repairs to the French opera, and the Cuban from
the blessing of the priest to the parade in the Plaza. Even the Sunday
ceremonial of the church is a pageant; the splendid robe of the
officiating priest, changed in the course of the offices, like the
costumes of actors in a drama; the music, to Protestant ears operatic
and exciting; the clouds of incense that scatter their intoxicating
perfumes; the chants in a strange tongue, unknown to the mass of
worshippers;--all these give the services a holiday and carnival

Far be it from us to charge these congregations with any undue levity;
many a lovely Creole kneels upon the marble floor, entirely estranged
from the brilliant groups around her, and unconscious for the time of
the admiration she excites; many a _caballero_ bows in reverence,
forgetful, for the time being, of the bright eyes that are too often the
load-star of attraction to the church; and there are very many who look
beyond the glittering symbols to the great truths and the great Being
they are intended to typify. But we fear that a large portion of the
community who thus worship, attach more importance to the representation
than to the principles or things represented. The impression made by the
Sabbath ceremonies of the church strikes us as evanescent, and as of
such a character as to be at once obliterated by the excitement of the
worldly pleasures that follow. Still, if the Sabbath in Catholic
countries be not wholly devoted to religious observances, neither are
the week days wholly absorbed by business and pleasure. The churches and
chapels are always open, silently but eloquently inviting to devotion;
and it is much to be able to step aside, at any moment, from the
temptations, business and cares of life, into an atmosphere of seclusion
and religion. The solemn quiet of an old cathedral on a week-day is
impressive from its very contrast with the tumult outside.

Within its venerable walls the light seems chastened as it falls through
storied panes, and paints the images of Christian saints and martyrs on
the cold pavement of the aisles. Who can tell how many a tempest-tossed
soul has found relief and strength from the ability to withdraw itself
at once from the intoxicating whirl of the world and expand in prayer in
one of these hospitable and ever open sanctuaries? The writer is a firm
Protestant, by education, by association and feeling, but he is not so
bigoted as not to see features in the Catholic system worthy of
commendation. Whether the Catholic church has accomplished its mission,
and exhausted its means of good, is a question open to discussion, but
that in the past it has achieved much for the cause of true religion
cannot be denied. Through the darkest period in the history of the
world, it was the lamp that guided to a higher civilization, and the
bulwark of the people against the crushing force of feudalism; and with
all the objections which it discovers to a Protestant eye, it still
preserves many beautiful customs.

The Sabbath in Havana breaks upon the citizens amid the ringing of bells
from the different convents and churches, the firing of cannon from the
forts and vessels, the noise of trumpets, and the roll of the drum.
Sunday is no day of physical rest here. The stores are open as usual,
the same cries are heard in the streets, and the lottery tickets are
vended as ever at each corner. The individual who devotes himself to
this business rends the air with his cries of temptation to the passing
throng, each one of whom he earnestly assures is certain to realize
enormous pecuniary returns by the smallest investment, in tickets, or
portions of tickets, which he holds in sheets, while he brandishes a
huge pair of scissors, ready to cut in any desired proportion. The day
proves no check to the omnipresent "organ grinders," the monkey shows,
and other characteristic scenes. How unlike a New England Sabbath is all
this, how discordant to the feelings of one who has been brought up amid
our Puritanic customs of the sacred day! And yet the people of Havana
seem to be impressed with no small degree of reverence for the Catholic
faith. The rough Montero from the country, with his long line of loaded
mules, respectfully raises his panama with one hand, while he makes the
sign of the cross with the other, as he passes the church. The calisero
or postilion, who dashes by with his master in the volante, does not
forget, in his hurry, to bend to the pommel of his saddle; and even the
little negro slave children may be observed to fold their arms across
their breasts and remain reverentially silent until they have passed its

The city abounds in beautifully arranged squares, ornamented by that
king of the tropical forest, the Royal Palm, with here and there a few
orange trees, surrounded by a luxuriant hedge of limes. The largest and
most beautiful of these squares is the _Plaza de Armas_, fronting which
is the Governor's palace, and about which are the massive stone barracks
of the Spanish army. This square is surrounded by an iron railing and
divided into beautiful walks, planted on either side with gaudy flowers,
and shadowed by oranges and palms, while a grateful air of coolness is
diffused around by the playing of a copious fountain into a large stone
basin, surmounted by a marble statue of Ferdinand. Public squares, parks
and gardens, are the lungs of great cities, and their value increases as
the population becomes dense. Heap story upon story of costly marble,
multiply magazines and palaces, yet neglect to provide, in their midst,
some glimpse of nature, some opening for the light and air of heaven,
and the costliest and most sumptuous of cities would prove but a dreary
dwelling-place. The eye wearies, in time, of the glories of art, but of
the gifts of nature never, and in public squares and gardens both may be
happily combined.

Human culture brings trees, shrubs and flowers to their fullest
development, fosters and keeps green the emerald sward, and brings the
bright leaping waters into the midst of the graces of nature. Nowhere
does a beautiful statue look more beautiful than when erected in a
framework of deep foliage. These public squares are the most attractive
features of cities. Take from London Hyde Park, from Paris the Champs
Elysées and the Tuilleries gardens, the Battery and the Park from New
York, and the Common from Boston, and they would be but weary
wildernesses of brick, stone and mortar. The enlightened corporation
that bestows on a young city the gift of a great park, to be enjoyed in
common forever, does more for posterity than if it raised the most
sumptuous columns and palaces for public use or display.


The Plaza de Armas of Havana is a living evidence of this, and is the
nightly resort of all who can find time to be there, while the
governor's military band performs always from seven to nine o'clock. The
Creoles call it "the poor man's opera," it being free to all; every
class resorts hither; and even the ladies, leaving their volantes,
sometimes walk with husband or brother within the precincts of the
Plaza. We are told that "the man who has not music in his soul is fit
for treason, stratagem and spoils." It is undoubtedly from motives of
policy that the Havanese authorities provide this entertainment for the
people. How ungrateful it would be to overthrow a governor whose band
performs such delightful polkas, overtures and marches; and yet, it
requires some circumspection for the band-master to select airs for a
Creole audience. It would certainly never do to give them "Yankee
Doodle;" their sympathies with the "_Norte Americanos_" are sufficiently
lively without any such additional stimulus; and it is well for the
authorities to have a care, for the power of national airs is almost
incredible. It was found necessary, in the times of the old Bourbons, to
forbid the performance of the "_Ranz des Vaches_," because it so filled
the privates of the Swiss guards with memories of their native home that
they deserted in numbers. The Scotch air of "Lochaber no more" was found
to have the same effect upon the Highland regiments in Canada; and we
are not sure that "Yankee Doodle," performed in the presence of a
thousand Americans on the Plaza de Armas, would not secure the
annexation of the island in a fortnight.

The Creoles are passionately fond of music. Their favorite airs, besides
the Castilian ones, are native dances, which have much sweetness and
individuality of character. They are fond of the guitar and flageolet,
and are often proficients in their use, as well as possessing fine vocal
powers. The voice is cultivated among the gentlemen as often as with the
ladies. Music in the open air and in the evening has an invincible
effect everywhere, but nowhere is its influence more deeply felt than in
a starry tropical night. Nowhere can we conceive of a musical
performance listened to with more delightful relish than in the Plaza at
Havana, as discoursed by the governor's band, at the close of the long
tropical twilight.

In the immediate neighborhood of the Plaza, near the rear of the
governor's palace, is a superb confectionary,--really one of the
notabilities of the city, and only excelled by Taylor's saloon,
Broadway, New York. It is called La Dominica, and is the popular resort
of all foreigners in Havana, and particularly of Americans and
Frenchmen. It is capable of accommodating some hundreds of visitors at a
time, and is generally well filled every afternoon and evening. In the
centre is a large open court, paved with white marble and jasper, and
containing a fountain in the middle, around which the visitors are
seated. Probably no establishment in the world can supply a larger
variety of preserves, bon-bons and confectionaries generally, than this,
the fruits of the island supplying the material for nearly a hundred
varieties of preserves, which the proprietor exports largely to Europe
and America, and has thereby accumulated for himself a fortune.

Following the street on which is this famous confectionary, one is soon
brought to the city walls, and, passing outside, is at once ushered into
the Tacon Paseo, where all the beauty and fashion of the town resort in
the after part of the day. It is a mile or more in length, beautifully
laid out in wide, clean walks, with myriads of tropical flowers, trees
and shrubs, whose fragrance seems to render the atmosphere almost dense.
Here the ladies in their volantes, and the gentlemen mostly on foot,
pass and repass each other in a sort of circular drive, gayly saluting,
the ladies with a coquettish flourish of the fan, the gentlemen with a
graceful wave of the hand.

In these grounds is situated the famous Tacon Theatre. In visiting the
house, you enter the first tier and parquette from the level of the
Paseo, and find the interior about twice as large as any theatre in this
country, and about equal in capacity to Tripler Hall, New York, or the
Music Hall, Boston. It has five tiers of boxes, and a parquette with
seats, each separate, like an arm-chair, for six hundred persons. The
lattice-work in front of each box is light and graceful, of gilt
ornament, and so open that the dresses and pretty feet of the señoras
are seen to the best advantage. The decorations are costly, and the
frescoes and side ornaments of the proscenium exceedingly beautiful. A
magnificent cut-glass chandelier, lighted with gas, and numerous smaller
ones extending from the boxes, give a brilliant light to this elegant
house. At the theatre the military are always in attendance in strong
force, as at all gatherings in Cuba, however unimportant, their only
perceptible use, however, being to impede the passages, and stare the
ladies out of countenance. The only other noted place of amusement is
the Italian opera-house, within the city walls, an oven-shaped building
externally, but within appropriately and elegantly furnished with every
necessary appurtenance.

No object in Havana will strike the visitor with more of interest than
the cathedral, situated in the Calle de Ignacio. Its towers and pillared
front of defaced and moss-grown stone call back associations of
centuries gone by. This cathedral, like all of the Catholic churches, is
elaborately ornamented with many fine old paintings of large size and
immense value. The entire dome is also decorated with paintings in
fresco. The chief object of interest, however, and which will not fail
to attract the attention, is a tablet of marble inlaid in the wall at
the right of the altar, having upon its face the image of Christopher
Columbus, and forming the entrance to the tomb where rest the ashes of
this discoverer of a western world; here, too, are the iron chains with
which an ungrateful sovereign once loaded him. How great the contrast
presented to the mind between those chains and the reverence bestowed
upon this tomb![23]


The story of the great Genoese possesses a more thrilling interest than
any narrative which the imagination of poet or romancer has ever
conceived. The tales of the Arabian Nights, with all their wealth of
fancy, are insipid and insignificant compared with the authentic
narrative of the adventures of the Italian mariner and his sublime
discovery. Familiar as we are with it from childhood, from the greatness
of the empire he gave to Christendom, the tale has still a fascination,
however often repeated, while the visible memorials of his greatness and
his trials revive all our veneration for his intellect and all our
interest in the story of his career. His name flashes a bright ray over
the mental darkness of the period in which he lived, for men generally
were then but just awakening from the dark sleep of the middle ages. The
discovery of printing heralded the new birth of the republic of letters,
and maritime enterprise received a vigorous impulse. The shores of the
Mediterranean, thoroughly explored and developed, had endowed the
Italian states with extraordinary wealth, and built up a very
respectable mercantile marine, considering the period. The Portuguese
mariners were venturing farther and farther from the peninsula ports,
and traded with different stations on the coast of Africa.

But to the _west_ lay what men supposed to be an illimitable ocean, full
of mystery, peril and death. A vague conception that islands, hitherto
unknown, might be met with afar off on that strange wilderness of
waters, like oases in a desert, was entertained by some minds, but no
one thought of venturing in quest of them. Columbus alone, regarded
merely as a brave and intelligent seaman and pilot, conceived the idea
that the earth was spherical, and that the East Indies, the great El
Dorado of the century, might be reached by circumnavigating the globe.
If we picture to ourselves the mental condition of the age, and the
state of science, we shall find no difficulty in conceiving the scorn
and incredulity with which the theory of Columbus was received. We shall
not wonder that he was regarded as a madman or as a fool; we are not
surprised to remember that he encountered repulse upon repulse, as he
journeyed wearily from court to court, and pleaded in vain for aid to
the sovereigns of Europe and wise men of the cloister. But the marvel is
that when gate after gate was closed against him, when all ears were
deaf to his patient importunities, when day by day the opposition to his
views increased, when, weary and foot-sore, he was forced to beg a
morsel of bread and a cup of water for his fainting and famished boy, at
the door of a Spanish convent, his reason did not give way, and his
great heart did not break beneath its weight of disappointment.

But his soul was then as firm and steadfast as when, launched in his
frail caravel upon the ocean, he pursued day after day, and night after
night, amidst a discontented, murmuring, and mutinous crew, his westward
path over the trackless waters. We can conceive of his previous sorrows,
but what imagination can form an adequate conception of his hopefulness
and gratitude when the tokens of the neighborhood of land first greeted
his senses; of his high enthusiasm when the shore was discovered; of his
noble rapture when the keel of his bark grounded on the shore of San
Salvador, and he planted the royal standard in the soil, the Viceroy and
High Admiral of Spain in the New World! No matter what chanced
thereafter, a king's favor or a king's displeasure, royal largesses or
royal chains,--that moment of noble exultation was worth a long lifetime
of trials. Such were our thoughts before the cathedral altar, gazing on
his consecrated tomb, and thus suggestive will the visitor be sure to
find this memorial of the great captain amid its sombre

It will be remembered that Columbus died in Valladolid, in 1506. In 1513
his remains were transferred to Seville, preparatory to their being
sent, as desired in his will, to St. Domingo. When that island was ceded
to France, the remains were delivered to the Spaniards. This was in
1796, one hundred and three years after they had been placed there; they
were then brought with great pomp to Havana, in a national ship, and
were deposited in the cathedral in the presence of all the high
authorities. The church itself, aside from this prominent feature of
interest, is vastly attractive from its ancient character and
appearance, and one lingers with mysterious delight and thoughtfulness
among its marble aisles and confessionals.

The wealth of the church and of the monks in Cuba was formerly
proverbial, but of late years the major portion of the rich perquisites
which they were so long permitted to receive, have been diverted in
their course, so as to flow into the coffers of the crown. The priests
at one time possessed large tracts of the richest soil of the island,
and their revenue from these plantations was immense; but these lands
were finally confiscated by the government, and, with the loss of their
property, the power of the monks has also declined, and they themselves
diminished in numbers. Two of their large establishments, St. Augustine
and St. Domingo, have been converted into government storehouses, and
the large convent of San Juan de Dios is now used solely for a hospital.
Formerly the streets were thronged by monks, but now they are only
occasionally seen, with their sombre dress and large shovel hats.

The character of this class of men has of former years been a scandal to
the island, and the stories that are told by respectable people
concerning them are really unfit for print. They led lives of the most
unlimited profligacy, and they hesitated not to defy every law, moral or
divine. For a long period this existed, but Tacon and subsequent
governors-general, aroused to a sense of shame, made the proper
representations to the home government, and put a stop to their
excesses. Many persons traced the bad condition of public morals and the
increase of crime just previous to Tacon's governorship directly to this
ruling influence.

A fearful condition when those who assume to lead in spiritual affairs
proved the fountain-head of crime upon the island, themselves the worst
of criminals.


[22] The influence of fifteen minutes in the church, if salutary, seems
soon dissipated by the business and amusements without its walls. The
shops are open; the cock-pit fuller than on busier days of the week; and
the streets thronged with volantes; the theatres and ball rooms crowded;
and the city devoted to pleasure.--_Rev. Abiel Abbot's Letters._

[23] There is now being completed, at Genoa, an elaborate and most
classical monument to the memory of Columbus. The work hag been
entrusted to a Genoese, a pupil of Canova; and, according to Prof.
Silliman, who visited it in 1851, promises to be "one of the noblest of
historical records ever sculptured in marble."

[24] The reward of genius is rarely contemporary, and even posterity is
frequently most remiss in its justice. "Sebastian Cabot gave England a
continent," says Bancroft, "and no one knows his burial-place!"


    Nudity of children and slaves--The street of the merchants--The
    currency of Cuba--The Spanish army in the island--Enrolment of
    blacks--Courage of Spanish troops--Treatment by the government--The
    garrote--A military execution--The market-men and their wares--The
    milk-man and his mode of supply--Glass windows--Curtains for
    doors--The Campo Santo, or burial-place of Havana--Treatment of the
    dead--The prison--The fish-market of the capital.

One peculiarity which is certain to strike the stranger from the first
hour he lands upon the island, whether in public or private houses, in
the stores or in the streets, is that the young slaves, of both sexes,
under the age of eight or ten years, are permitted to go about in a
state of perfect nudity; while the men of the same class, who labor in
the streets, wear only a short pair of pantaloons, without any other
covering to the body, thus displaying their brawny muscles at every
movement. This causes rather a shock to the ideas of propriety
entertained by an American; but it is thought nothing of by the
"natives." On the plantations inland, the slaves of either sex wear but
just enough clothes to appear decently. The almost intolerable heat when
exposed to field-labor is the excuse for this, a broad palm-leaf hat
being the only article that the negroes seem to desire to wear in the

The Calle de Mercaderes, or the street of the merchants, is the Broadway
and Washington Street of Havana, and contains many fine stores for the
sale of dry goods, china, jewelry, glass-ware, etc. The merchant here
does not designate his store by placing his own name on his sign, but,
on the contrary, adopts some fancy title, such as the "America," the
"Star," the "Bomb," "Virtue," and the like; which titles are paraded in
golden letters over the doors. These tradesmen are, generally speaking,
thorough Jews in their mode of dealing, and no one thinks of paying the
first price asked by them for an article, as they usually make
allowances for being beaten down at least one half. The ladies commonly
make their purchases in the after part of the day, stopping in their
volantes at the doors of the shops, from which the articles they desire
to examine are brought to them by the shopmen. No lady enters a shop to
make a purchase, any more than she would be found walking in the

There is no paper money known on the island, so that all transactions at
these stores must be consummated in specie. The coin generally in use is
the Spanish and Mexican dollar, half and quarter dollars, pesétas, or
twenty-cent pieces, and reals de plata, equal to our twelve-and-a-half
cent pieces, or York shillings. The gold coin is the doubloon and its
fractions. Silver is always scarce, and held at a premium in Havana,
say from two to five per cent. As Cuba has no regular bank, the merchant
draws on his foreign credit altogether, each mercantile house becoming
its own sub-treasury, supplied with the largest and best of iron safes.
The want of some legitimate banking system is severely felt here, and is
a prominent subject of complaint with all foreign merchants.

The Spanish government supports a large army on the island, which is
under the most rigid discipline, and in a state of considerable
efficiency. It is the policy of the home government to fill the ranks
with natives of old Spain, in order that no undue sympathy may be felt
for the Creoles, or islanders, in case of insurrection or attempted
revolution. An order has recently been issued by Pezuela, the present
governor-general, for the enrolment of free blacks and mulattoes in the
ranks of the army, and the devotion of these people to Spain is loudly
vaunted in the captain-general's proclamation. The enlistment of people
of color in the ranks is a deadly insult offered to the white population
of a slave-holding country,--a sort of shadowing forth of the menace,
more than once thrown out by Spain, to the effect that if the colonists
should ever attempt a revolution, she would free and arm the blacks,
and Cuba, made to repeat the tragic tale of St. Domingo, should be
useless to the Creoles if lost to Spain. But we think Spain
overestimates the loyalty of the free people of color whom she would
now enroll beneath her banner. They cannot forget the days of O'Donnell
(governor-general), when he avenged the opposition of certain Cubans to
the illicit and infamous slave-trade by which he was enriching himself,
by charging them with an abolition conspiracy in conjunction with the
free blacks and mulattoes, and put many of the latter to the torture to
make them confess imaginary crimes; while others, condemned without a
trial, were mowed down by the fire of platoons. Assuredly the people of
color have no reason for attachment to the _paternal_ government of
Spain. And in this connection we may also remark that this attempt at
the enrolment of the blacks has already proved, according to the
admission of Spanish authority, a partial failure, for they cannot
readily learn the drill, and officers dislike to take command of

We have remarked that the Spanish troops are in a state of rigid
discipline, and exhibit much efficiency. They are to the eye firm and
serviceable troops,--the very best, doubtless, that Spain can produce;
but it must be remembered that Spanish valor is but a feeble shadow of
what it was in the days of the Cid and the middle ages. A square of
Spanish infantry was once as impregnable as the Macedonian phalanx; but
they have sadly degenerated. The actual value of the Spanish troops in
Cuba may be estimated by their behavior in the Lopez invasion. They were
then called upon, not to cope with a well-appointed and equal force, but
with an irregular, undisciplined band of less than one-fourth their
number, armed with wretched muskets, entirely ignorant of the simplest
tactics, thrown on a strange shore, and taken by surprise. Yet nearly a
full regiment of infantry, perfectly drilled and equipped, flank
companies, commanded by a general who was styled the Napoleon of Cuba,
were driven from the field by a few irregular volleys from their
opponents. And when again the same commanding officer brought a yet
greater force of every arm,--cavalry, rifles, infantry and
artillery,--against the same body of insurgents, fatigued and reduced in
numbers and arms, they were again disgracefully routed. What dependence
can be placed upon such troops? They are only capable of overawing an
unarmed population.

The Cubans seem to fear very little from the power or efforts of the
Spanish troops in connection with the idea of any well-organized
revolutionary attempt, and even count (as they have good reason to do)
upon their abandoning the Spanish flag the moment there is a doubt of
its success. They say that the troops are enlisted in Spain either by
glowing pictures of the luxury and ease of a military life in Cuba, or
to escape the severity of justice for the commission of some crime. They
no sooner arrive in the island than the deception of the recruiting
sergeants becomes glaringly apparent. They see themselves isolated
completely from the people, treated with the utmost cruelty in the
course of their drills, and oppressed by the weight of regulations that
reduce them to the condition of machines, without any enjoyments to
alleviate the wretchedness of their situation. Men thus treated are not
to be relied upon in time of emergency; they can _think_, if they are
not permitted to act, and will have opinions of their own.

Soldiers thus ruled naturally come to hate those in authority over them,
finding no redress for their wrongs, and no sympathy for their troubles.
Their immediate officers and those higher in station are equally
inaccessible to them, and deaf to their complaints; and when, in the
hour of danger, they are called upon to sustain the government which so
cruelly oppresses them, and proclamations, abounding in Spanish
hyperbole, speak of the honor and glory of the Spanish army and its
attachment to the crown, they know perfectly well that these
declarations and flatteries proceed from the lips of men who entertain
no such sentiments in their hearts, and who only come to Cuba to oppress
a people belonging to the same Spanish family as themselves. Thus the
despotic system of the Spanish officers, combined with the complete
isolation of the troops from the Creole population, has an effect
directly contrary to that contemplated, and only creates a readiness on
the part of the troops to sympathize with the people they are brought to
oppress. The constant presence of a large military force increases the
discontent and indignation of the Creoles. They know perfectly well its
object, and regard it as a perpetual insult, a bitter, ironical
commentary on the epithet of "ever faithful" with which the home
government always addresses its western vassal. The loyalty of Cuba is
indeed a royal fiction. As well might a highwayman praise the generosity
of a rich traveller who surrenders his purse, watch and diamonds, at the
muzzle of the pistol. Cuban loyalty is evinced in an annual tribute of
some twenty-four millions of hard money; the freedom of the gift is
proved by the perpetual presence of twenty-five to thirty thousand men,
armed to the teeth![25]

The complete military force of Cuba must embrace at the present time
very nearly thirty thousand troops,--artillery, dragoons and
infantry,--nearly twenty thousand of which force is in and about Havana.
To keep such a body of soldiers in order, when governed by the
principles we have described, the utmost rigor is necessary, and
military executions are very frequent. The _garrote_ is the principal
instrument of capital punishment used in the island,--a machine
contrived to choke the victim to death without suspending him in the
air. The criminal is placed in a chair, leaning his head back upon a
support prepared for it, when a neck-yoke or collar of iron is drawn up
close to the throat. At the appointed moment, a screw is turned behind,
producing instantaneous death, the spinal cord being crushed where it
unites with the brain. This, though a repulsive idea, is far more
merciful than hanging, it would seem, whereby life is destroyed by the
lingering process of suffocation. The most common mode of execution,
however, in the army, is the legitimate death of a soldier; and, when he
is condemned, he always falls by the hands of his comrades.

The writer witnessed one of these military executions in the rear of the
barracks that make the seaward side of the _Plaza de Armas_, one fine
summer's morning. It was a fearful sight, and one that chilled the blood
even in a tropical summer day! A Spanish soldier of the line was to be
shot for some act of insubordination against the stringent army rules
and regulations; and, in order that the punishment might have a salutary
effect upon his regiment, the whole were drawn up to witness the scene.
The immediate file of twelve men to which the prisoner had belonged when
in the ranks, were supplied with muskets by their officer, and I was
told that _one_ musket was left without _ball_, so that each one might
hope that his was not the hand to slay his former comrade, and yet a
sense of mercy would cause them all to aim at the heart. The order was
given; the bright morning sun shone like living fire along the polished
barrels of the guns, as the fatal muzzles all ranged in point at the
heart of the condemned. "_Fuego!_" (fire) said the commanding officer. A
report followed, accompanied by a cloud of smoke, which the sea breeze
soon dispersed, showing us the still upright form of the victim. Though
wounded in many places, no vital part was touched, nor did he fall until
his sergeant, advancing quickly, with a single reserved shot blew his
brains over the surrounding green-sward! His body was immediately
removed, the troops were formed into companies, the band struck up a
lively air, and thus was a human being launched into eternity.

A very common sight in the cities or large towns of Cuba early in the
morning, is to meet a Montero from the country, riding his donkey, to
the tail of which another donkey is tied, and to this second one's tail
a third, and so on, up to a dozen, or less. These animals are loaded
with large panniers, filled with various articles of produce; some
bearing cornstalks for food for city animals; some hay, or straw; others
oranges, or bananas, or cocoanuts, etc.; some with _bunches_ of live
fowls hanging by the feet over the donkey's back. The people live, to
use a common phrase, "from hand to mouth,"--that is, they lay in no
stores whatever, and trust to the coming day to supply its own
necessities. Hay, cornstalks, or grain, are purchased only in sufficient
quantity for the day's consumption. So with meats, so with fruits, so
with everything. When it is necessary to send to the market, the steward
or stewardess of the house, always a negro man or woman, is freely
entrusted with the required sum, and purchases according to his or her
judgment and taste. The cash system is universally adopted, and all
articles are regularly paid for when purchased. The Monteros, who thus
bring their produce to market, wear broad palm-leaf hats, and striped
shirts over brown pantaloons, with a sword by their side, and heavy
spurs upon their heels. Their load once disposed of, with a strong cigar
lighted in their mouths, they trot back to the country again to pile up
the panniers, and on the morrow once more to supply the wants of the
town. They are an industrious and manly race of yeomanry.

Few matters strike the observant stranger with a stronger sense of their
peculiarity than the Cuban milk-man's mode of supplying that necessary
aliment to his town or city customers. He has no cart filled with
shining cans, and they in turn filled with milk (or what purports to be
milk, but which is apt strongly to savor of Cochituate or Croton), so
there can be no deception as to the genuine character of the article
which he supplies. Driving his sober kine from door to door, he
deliberately milks just the quantity required by each customer, delivers
it, and drives on to the next. The patient animal becomes as conversant
with the residence of her master's customers as he is himself, and stops
unbidden at regular intervals before the proper houses, often followed
by a pretty little calf which amuses itself by gazing at the process,
while it wears a leather muzzle to prevent its interference with the
supply of milk intended for another quarter. There are doubtless two
good reasons for this mode of delivering milk in Havana and the large
towns of Cuba. First, there can be no diluting of the article, and
second, it is sure to be sweet and fresh, this latter a particular
desideratum in a climate where milk without ice can be kept only a brief
period without spoiling. Of course, the effect upon the animal is by no
means salutary, and a Cuban cow gives but about one third as much milk
as our own. Goats are driven about and milked in the same manner.

Glass windows are scarcely known even in the cities. The finest as well
as the humblest town houses have the broad projecting window, secured
only by heavy iron bars (most prison-like in aspect), through which, as
one passes along the narrow streets, it is nearly impossible to avoid
glancing upon domestic scenes that exhibit the female portion of the
family engaged in sewing, chatting, or some simple occupation. Sometimes
a curtain intervenes, but even this is unusual, the freest circulation
of air being always courted in every way.[26] Once inside of the
dwelling houses there are few doors, curtains alone, shutting off the
communication between chambers and private rooms, and from the corridor
upon which they invariably open. Of course, the curtain when down is
quite sufficient to keep out persons of the household or strangers, but
the little naked negro slave children (always petted at this age), male
and female, creep under this _ad libitum_, and the monkeys, parrots,
pigeons, and fowls generally make common store of every nook and corner.
Doors might keep these out of your room, but curtains do not. One
reason why the Cubans, of both sexes, possess such fine expansive
chests, is doubtless the fact that their lungs thus find full and
unrestrained action, living, as it were, ever in the open air. The
effect of this upon the stranger is at once visible in a sense of
physical exhilaration, fine spirits and good appetite. It would be
scarcely possible to inhabit a house built after our close, secure
style, if it were placed in the city of Havana, or even on an inland
plantation of the island. The town houses are always accessible upon the
roofs, where during the day the laundress takes possession, but at
evening they are frequently the family resort, where the evening cigar
is enjoyed, and the gossip of the day discussed, in the enjoyment of the
sea breeze that sweeps in from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Just outside the city walls of Havana, and on the immediate sea-coast,
lies the Campo Santo, or public cemetery, not far from the city prison.
It is approached by a long street of dilapidated and miserable
dwellings, and is not attractive to the eye, though the immediate
entrance is through cultivated shrubbery. A broad, thick wall encloses
the cemetery, in which oven-like niches are prepared for the reception
of the coffins, containing the better or more wealthy classes, while the
poor are thrown into shallow graves, sometimes several together, not
unfrequently negroes and whites, without a coffin, quicklime being
freely used to promote decomposition. In short, the whole idea, and
every association of the Campo Santo, is of a repulsive and disagreeable

This irreverent treatment of the dead, and the neglected condition of
their place of sepulture, is a sad feature in a Christian country,
contrasting strongly with the honors paid to the memory of the departed
by semi-civilized and even savage nations. We all know the sacredness
that is attached by the Turks to their burial grounds, how the mournful
cypresses are taught to rise among the turbaned tombstones, and how the
survivors are wont to sit upon the graves of the departed, musing for
hours over the loved and lost, and seeming to hold communion with their
liberated spirits. How different is it here with the Campo Santo! The
bitterest pang that an Indian endures when compelled to leave his native
hunting grounds, is that he must abandon the place where the ashes of
his ancestors repose. The enlightened spirit which removes cemeteries
from the centre of dense population is worthy of all commendation--the
taste that adorns them with trees and flowers, beautifying the spot
where the "last of earth" reposes, is a proof of high-toned feeling and
a high civilization. Nothing of this spirit is manifested at Havana. The
establishment of the cemetery without the walls of the city was a
sanitary measure, dictated by obvious necessity, but there the march of
improvement stopped. No effort has been made to follow the laudable
example of other countries; no, the Spanish character, arrogant and
self-sufficient, will not bend to be taught by others, and will not
admit a possibility of error, and they are as closely wedded to national
prejudices as the Chinese. Spain is, at this moment, the most
old-fashioned country of Christendom, and it is only when pressed upon
by absolute necessity that she reluctantly admits of innovation.

Tacon, during his rule in the island, erected outside the city walls,
and near the gate of La Punta, on the shore, a spacious prison, capable
of accommodating five thousand prisoners. It is quadrangular, each side
being some three hundred feet long and fifty high, enclosing a central
square, planted with shrubbery and watered by a cooling and graceful
fountain. The fresh breeze circulates freely through its walls, and it
is considered one of the healthiest spots in the vicinity of the
capital, while it certainly presents a strong contrast to the neglected
precincts of the Campo Santo, hard by.

The fish-market of Havana affords probably the best variety of this
article of any city in the world. The long marble counters display the
most novel and tempting array that one can well imagine; every hue of
the rainbow is represented, and a great variety of shapes. But a curse
hangs over this species of food, plenty and fine as it is, for it is
made a government monopoly, and none but its agents are permitted to
sell or to catch it in the vicinity of the city. This singular law,
established under Tacon, is of peculiar origin, and we cannot perhaps do
better than tell the story, as gathered on the spot, for the amusement
of the reader.


[25] "Can it be for the interest of Spain to cling to a possession that
can only be maintained by a garrison of twenty-five thousand or thirty
thousand troops, a powerful naval force, and an annual expenditure, for
both arms of the service, of at least twelve million dollars?
Cuba, at this moment, costs more to Spain than the entire naval and
military establishment of the United States costs the federal
government."--_Edward Everett, on the tripartite treaty proposition._

[26] "Doors and windows are all open. The eye penetrates the whole
interior of domestic life, from the flowers in the well-watered court to
the daughter's bed, with its white muslin curtains tied with
rose-colored ribbons."--_Countess Merlin's Letters._



One of the most successful villains whose story will be written in
history, is a man named Marti, as well known in Cuba as the person of
the governor-general himself. Formerly he was notorious as a smuggler
and half pirate on the coast of the island, being a daring and
accomplished leader of reckless men. At one time he bore the title of
King of the Isle of Pines, where was his principal rendezvous, and from
whence he despatched his vessels, small, fleet crafts, to operate in the
neighboring waters.

His story, well known in Cuba and to the home government, bears
intimately upon our subject.

When Tacon landed on the island, and became governor-general, he found
the revenue laws in a sad condition, as well as the internal regulations
of the island; and, with a spirit of mingled justice and oppression, he
determined to do something in the way of reform.[27] The Spanish marine
sent out to regulate the maritime matters of the island, lay idly in
port, the officers passing their time on shore, or in giving balls and
dances on the decks of their vessels. Tacon saw that one of the first
moves for him to make was to suppress the smuggling upon the coast, at
all hazards; and to this end he set himself directly to work. The
maritime force at his command was at once detailed upon this service,
and they coasted night and day, but without the least success against
the smugglers. In vain were all the vigilance and activity of Tacon and
his agents--they accomplished nothing.

At last, finding that all his expeditions against them failed, partly
from the adroitness and bravery of the smugglers, and partly from the
want of pilots among the shoals and rocks that they frequented, a large
and tempting reward was offered to any one of them who would desert from
his comrades and act in this capacity in behalf of the government. At
the same time, a double sum, most princely in amount, was offered for
the person of one Marti, dead or alive, who was known to be the leader
of the lawless rovers who thus defied the government. These rewards were
freely promulgated, and posted so as to reach the ears and eyes of those
whom they concerned; but even these seemed to produce no effect, and the
government officers were at a loss how to proceed in the matter.

It was a dark, cloudy night in Havana, some three or four months
subsequent to the issuing of these placards announcing the rewards as
referred to, when two sentinels were pacing backwards and forwards
before the main entrance to the governor's palace, just opposite the
grand plaza. A little before midnight, a man, wrapped in a cloak, was
watching them from behind the statue of Ferdinand, near the fountain,
and, after observing that the two soldiers acting as sentinels paced
their brief walk so as to meet each other, and then turn their backs as
they separated, leaving a brief moment in the interval when the eyes of
both were turned away from the entrance they were placed to guard,
seemed to calculate upon passing them unobserved. It was an exceedingly
delicate manoeuvre, and required great care and dexterity to effect
it; but, at last, it was adroitly done, and the stranger sprang lightly
through the entrance, secreting himself behind one of the pillars in the
inner court of the palace. The sentinels paced on undisturbed.

The figure which had thus stealthily effected an entrance, now sought
the broad stairs that led to the governor's suit of apartments, with a
confidence that evinced a perfect knowledge of the place. A second
guard-post was to be passed at the head of the stairs; but, assuming an
air of authority, the stranger offered a cold military salute and
pressed forward, as though there was not the most distant question of
his right so to do; and thus avoiding all suspicion in the guard's mind,
he boldly entered the governor's reception room unchallenged, and closed
the door behind him. In a large easy chair sat the commander-in-chief,
busily engaged in writing, but alone. An expression of undisguised
satisfaction passed across the weather-beaten countenance of the new
comer at this state of affairs, as he coolly cast off his cloak and
tossed it over his arm, and then proceeded to wipe the perspiration from
his face. The governor, looking up with surprise, fixed his keen eyes
upon the intruder,--

"Who enters here, unannounced, at this hour?" he asked, sternly, while
he regarded the stranger earnestly.

"One who has information of value for the governor-general. You are
Tacon, I suppose?"

"I am. What would you with me? or, rather, how did you pass my guard

"Of that anon. Excellency, you have offered a handsome reward for
information concerning the rovers of the gulf?"

"Ha! yes. What of them?" said Tacon, with undisguised interest.

"Excellency, I must speak with caution," continued the new comer;
"otherwise I may condemn and sacrifice myself."

"You have naught to fear on that head. The offer of reward for evidence
against the scapegraces also vouchsafes a pardon to the informant. You
may speak on, without fear for yourself, even though you may be one of
the very confederation itself."

"You offer a reward, also, in addition, for the discovery of
Marti,--Captain Marti, of the smugglers,--do you not?"

"We do, and will gladly make good the promise of reward for any and all
information upon the subject," replied Tacon.

"First, Excellency, do you give me your knightly word that you will
grant a free pardon to _me_, if I reveal all that you require to know,
even embracing the most secret hiding-places of the rovers?"

"I pledge you my word of honor," said the commander.

"No matter how heinous in the sight of the law my offences may have
been, still you will pardon me, under the king's seal?"

"I will, if you reveal truly and to any good purpose," answered Tacon,
weighing in his mind the purpose of all this precaution.

"Even if I were a leader among the rovers, myself?"

The governor hesitated for a moment, canvassing in a single glance the
subject before him, and then said:

"Even then, be you whom you may; if you are able and will honestly pilot
our ships and reveal the secrets of Marti and his followers, you shall
be rewarded as our proffer sets forth, and yourself receive a free

"Excellency, I think I know your character well enough to trust you,
else I should not have ventured here."

"Speak, then; my time is precious," was the impatient reply of Tacon.

"Then, Excellency, the man for whom you have offered the largest reward,
dead or alive, is now before you!"

"And you are--"


The governor-general drew back in astonishment, and cast his eyes
towards a brace of pistols that lay within reach of his right hand; but
it was only for a single moment, when he again assumed entire
self-control, and said, "I shall keep my promise, sir, provided you are
faithful, though the laws call loudly for your punishment, and even now
you are in my power. To insure your faithfulness, you must remain at
present under guard." Saying which, he rang a silver bell by his side,
and issued a verbal order to the attendant who answered it. Immediately
after, the officer of the watch entered, and Marti was placed in
confinement, with orders to render him comfortable until he was sent
for. His name remained a secret with the commander; and thus the night
scene closed.

On the following day, one of the men-of-war that lay idly beneath the
guns of Moro Castle suddenly became the scene of the utmost activity,
and, before noon, had weighed her anchor, and was standing out into the
gulf stream. Marti, the smuggler, was on board, as her pilot; and
faithfully did he guide the ship, on the discharge of his treacherous
business, among the shoals and bays of the coast for nearly a month,
revealing every secret haunt of the rovers, exposing their most valuable
depots and well-selected rendezvous; and many a smuggling craft was
taken and destroyed. The amount of money and property thus secured was
very great; and Marti returned with the ship to claim his reward from
the governor-general, who, well satisfied with the manner in which the
rascal had fulfilled his agreement, and betrayed those comrades who were
too faithful to be tempted to treachery themselves, summoned Marti
before him.

"As you have faithfully performed your part of our agreement," said the
governor-general, "I am now prepared to comply with the articles on my
part. In this package you will find a free and unconditional pardon for
all your past offences against the laws. And here is an order on the
treasury for--"

"Excellency, excuse me. The pardon I gladly receive. As to the sum of
money you propose to give to me, let me make you a proposition. Retain
the money; and, in place of it, guarantee to me the right to fish in the
neighborhood of the city, and declare the trade in fish contraband to
all except my agents. This will richly repay me, and I will erect a
public market of stone at my own expense, which shall be an ornament to
the city, and which at the expiration of a specified number of years
shall revert to the government, with all right and title to the

Tacon was pleased at the idea of a superb fish-market, which should
eventually revert to the government, and also at the idea of saving the
large sum of money covered by the promised reward. The singular
proposition of the smuggler was duly considered and acceded to, and
Marti was declared in legal form to possess for the future sole right to
fish in the neighborhood of the city, or to sell the article in any
form, and he at once assumed the rights that the order guaranteed to
him. Having in his roving life learned all the best fishing-grounds, he
furnished the city bountifully with the article, and reaped yearly an
immense profit, until, at the close of the period for which the monopoly
was granted, he was the richest man on the island. According to the
agreement, the fine market and its privilege reverted to the government
at the time specified, and the monopoly has ever since been rigorously

Marti, now possessed of immense wealth, looked about him, to see in what
way he could most profitably invest it to insure a handsome and sure
return. The idea struck him if he could obtain the monopoly of
theatricals in Havana on some such conditions as he had done that of the
right to fish off its shores, he could still further increase his
ill-gotten wealth. He obtained the monopoly, on condition that he should
erect one of the largest and finest theatres in the world, which he did,
as herein described, locating the same just outside the city walls. With
the conditions of the monopoly, the writer is not conversant.

Many romantic stories are told of Marti; but the one we have here
related is the only one that is authenticated, and which has any bearing
upon the present work.


[27] Tacon governed Cuba four years, from 1834 to 1838.


    The lottery at Havana--Hospitality of the Spaniards--Flattery--Cuban
    ladies--Castilian, Parisian and American politeness--The bonnet in
    Cuba--Ladies' dresses--The fan--Jewelry and its wear--Culture of
    flowers--Reflections--A most peculiar narcotic--Cost of living on
    the island--Guines--The cock-pit--Training of the birds--The garden
    of the world--Birds of the tropics--Condition of
    agriculture--Night-time--The Southern Cross--Natural resources of
    Cuba--Her wrongs and oppressions.

There is a monthly lottery in Havana, with prizes amounting to one
hundred and ten thousand dollars, and sometimes as high as one hundred
and eighty thousand dollars, under the immediate direction and control
of the authorities, and which is freely patronized by the first
mercantile houses, who have their names registered for a certain number
of tickets each month. The poorer classes, too, by clubbing together,
become purchasers of tickets, including slaves and free negroes; and it
is but a few years since, that some slaves, who had thus united and
purchased a ticket, drew the first prize of sixty thousand dollars;
which was honestly paid to them, and themselves liberated by the
purchase of their freedom from their masters. Honestly and strictly
conducted as these lotteries are, yet their very stability, and the
just payment of all prizes, but makes them the more baneful and
dangerous in their influence upon the populace. Though now and then a
poor man becomes rich through their means, yet thousands are
impoverished in their mad zeal to purchase tickets, though it cost them
their last medio. The government thus countenances and fosters a taste
for gambling, while any one acquainted at all with the Spanish
character, must know that the people need no prompting in a vice to
which they seem to take intuitively.

The Spaniards receive credit for being a very hospitable people, and to
a certain extent this is due to them; but the stranger soon learns to
regard the extravagant manifestations which too often characterize their
etiquette, as quite empty and heartless. Let a stranger enter the house
of a Cuban for the first time, and the host or hostess of the mansion
says at once, either in such words or their equivalent, "All that we
have is at your service; take what you will, and our right hand with
it." Yet no one thinks of understanding this literally. The family
volante is at your order, or a saddle horse; and in such small
kindnesses they are indeed polite; but when they beg of you to accept a
ring, a book, a valuable toy, because you have happened to praise it,
you are by no means to do so. Another trait of character which suggests
itself in this connection, is their Universal habit of profuse
compliment.[28] The ladies listen to them, as a matter of course, from
their countrymen, or from such Frenchmen as have become domesticated in
the island; but if an American takes occasion to compliment them, they
are at once delighted, for they believe them to be sincere, and the
matter is secretly treasured to be repeated.

The Cuban ladies, with true feminine acuteness, estimate correctly the
high-flown compliments of their countrymen; and the kindred French,
Castilian and Parisian politeness is of about equal value, and means the
same thing,--that is, nothing. To strangers it is very pleasant at
first, but the moment it is apparent that these profuse protestations of
friendship and offers of service are transparent devices, and that if
you take them at their word they are embarrassed, perhaps offended, that
you must be constantly on your guard, and be very careful to consider
every fine phrase as a flower of rhetoric, it becomes positively
disagreeable. Good manners go a great way; and if a person does you a
favor, the pleasure you experience is much enhanced by the grace with
which the obligation is conferred; but there is a vast difference
between true and false politeness. The former springs only from a good
and true heart; the latter is especially egotistical. Both the French
and Spanish are extremely gallant to women; and yet the condition of
women in both France and Spain is vastly inferior to that of our fair
countrywomen, notwithstanding the Spanish _caballero_ and the Parisian
_elegant_ can couch their heartless compliments in terms our plain
people would vainly attempt to imitate. But what cares a woman for fine
phrases, if she knows that the respect due to her sex is wanting? The
condition of the women of Cuba is eminently Spanish, and she is here too
often the slave of passion and the victim of jealousy.

The bonnet, which forms so important a part of the ladies' costume in
Europe and American cities, is entirely unknown, or, rather, never worn
by the Creole ladies; and strangers who appear with this article of
dress are regarded with as much curiosity as we should be exercised by
to meet in our own streets a Tuscarora chief in his war-paint. In place
of the bonnet the Cuban ladies wear a long black veil, gathered at the
back of the head upon the clustered braid of hair (always dark and
luxuriant), and drawn to one side of the face or the other, as
circumstances may require. More frequently, however, even this appendage
is not seen, and they ride in the Paseos and streets with their heads
entirely uncovered, save by the sheltering hood of the volante. When
necessity calls them abroad during the early or middle hours of the day,
there is a canvas screen buttoning to the dasher, and extending to the
top of the vehicle, forming a partial shelter from the sun. This
apparatus is universally arranged upon the volantes which stand at the
corners of the streets for common hire; but the private vehicles are
rarely seen much abroad before the early twilight, or just before

Full dress, on all state occasions, with the Cuban ladies, is black; but
white is worn on all ordinary ones, forming a rich and striking contrast
to the fair olive complexions of the wearers. Jewelry is worn to a great
extent, and, by those who can afford it, to the amount of most fabulous
sums, of course the diamond predominating; but there is a general
fondness for opals, garnets and pearls, worn in bracelets more
particularly, or in bands about the hair, at the top of the forehead.
There is one article without which the Cuban lady would not feel at home
for a single moment; it is the fan, which is a positive necessity to
her, and she learns its coquettish and graceful use from very childhood.
Formed of various rich materials, it glitters in her hand like a gaudy
butterfly, now half, now wholly shading her radiant face, which quickly
peeps out again from behind its shelter, like the moon from out a gilded
cloud. This little article (always rich and expensive), perfectly
indispensable in a Cuban lady's costume, in their hands seems almost to
speak; she has a witching flirt with it that expresses scorn; a graceful
wave of complaisance; an abrupt closing of it, that indicates vexation
or anger; a gradual and cautious opening of its folds, that signifies
reluctant forgiveness; in short, the language of the fan in a Cuban's
hand is an adroit and expressive pantomime, that requires no foreign

It may be owing to the prodigality of nature in respect to Flora's
kingdom, which has led to no development among the people of Cuba, in
the love and culture of flowers. Of course this remark is intended in a
general point of view, there necessarily being exceptions to establish
the rule. But it is a rare thing to see flowers under cultivation here,
other than such as spring up from the over-fertile soil, unplanted and
untended. In New Orleans one cannot pass out of the doors of the St.
Charles Hotel, at any hour of the day, without being saluted first by
the flavor of magnolias, and then by a Creole flower-girl, with "Buy a
bouquet for a dime, sir?" But nothing of the sort is seen in Cuba;
flowers are a drug. Nevertheless, I fear that people who lack an
appreciation of these "illumined scriptures of the prairie," show a want
of delicacy and refinement that even an humble Parisian grisette is not
without. Scarcely can you pass from the coast of Cuba inland for half a
league, in any direction, without your senses being regaled by the
fragrance of natural flowers,--the heliotrope, honeysuckle, sweet pea,
and orange blossoms predominating. The jessamine and cape rose, though
less fragrant, are delightful to the eye, and cluster everywhere, among
the hedges, groves and plantations.

There seems to be, at times, a strange narcotic influence in the
atmosphere of the island, more especially inland, where the visitor is
partially or wholly removed from the winds that usually blow from the
gulf in the after part of the day. So potent has the writer felt this
influence, that at first it was supposed to be the effect of some
powerful plant that might abound upon the plantations; but careful
inquiry satisfied him that this dreamy somnolence, this delightful sense
of ease and indolent luxuriance of feeling, was solely attributable to
the natural effect of the soft climate of Cuba. By gently yielding to
this influence, one seems to dream while waking; and while the sense of
hearing is diminished, that of the olfactories appears to be increased,
and pleasurable odors float upon every passing zephyr. One feels at
peace with all human nature, and a sense of voluptuous ease overspreads
the body. Others have spoken to the writer of this feeling of idle
happiness, which he has himself more than once experienced in the
delightful rural neighborhood of Alquizar. The only unpleasant realizing
sense during the enjoyment of the condition referred to, is the fear
that some human voice, or some chance noise, loud and abrupt, shall
arouse the waking dreamer from a situation probably not unlike the
pleasanter effect of opium, without its unpleasant reäction.

As it regards the cost of living in the island, it may be said to
average rather high to the stranger, though it is declared that the
expense to those who permanently reside here, either in town or country,
is cheaper, all things considered, than in the United States. At the
city hotels and best boarding-houses of Havana and Matanzas, the charge
is three dollars per day, unless a special bargain is made for a
considerable period of time. Inland, at the houses of public
entertainment, the charge per diem is, of course, considerably less;
and the native style of living is nearly the same within or out of the
city. The luscious and healthful fruits of the tropics form a large
share of the provision for the table, and always appear in great variety
at dessert. Good common claret wine is regularly placed before the guest
without charge, it being the ordinary drink of the people. As to the
mode of cooking, it seems to be very like the French, though the
universal garlic, which appears to be a positive necessity to a Spanish
palate, is very apt to form a disagreeable preponderance in the flavor
of every dish. Fish, meat and fowl are so disguised with this article
and with spices, that one is fain to resort to the bill of fare, to
ascertain of what he is partaking. The vegetable soups of the city
houses (but for the garlic) are excellent, many of the native vegetables
possessing not only admirable flavor, and other desirable properties for
the purpose, but being also glutinous, add much to the properties of a
preparation answering to the character of our Julian soup. Oysters,
though plentiful on the coast, are of inferior quality, and are seldom
used for the table; but pickled oysters from the United States are
largely used in the cities.

One of the pleasantest places of resort for enjoyment on the whole
island, is probably the town of Guines, connected with Havana by a
railroad (the first built upon the soil of Cuba), and but a few leagues
from the capital.[29] This locality is thought to be one of the most
salubrious and appropriate for invalids, and has therefore become a
general resort for this class, possessing several good public houses,
and in many respects is quite Americanized with regard to comforts and
the necessities of visitors from the United States. In Guines, and
indeed in all Cuban towns, villages, and even small hamlets, there is a
spacious cock-pit, where the inhabitants indulge in the sport of
cock-fighting,--an absorbing passion with the humble, and oftentimes
with the better classes. This indulgence is illustrative of their
nature,--that is, the Spanish nature and blood that is in them,--a fact
that is equally attested by their participation in the fearful contest
of the bull-fight. It is really astonishing how fierce these birds
become by training; and they always fight until one or the other dies,
unless they are interfered with. The amount of money lost and won by
this cruel mode of gambling is very large daily. Ladies frequently
attend these exhibitions, the upper seats being reserved for them; and
they may, not unfrequently, be seen entering fully into the excitement
of the sport.

The cock-pit is a large or small circular building, not unlike, in
external appearance, to a New England out-door hay-stack, its dimensions
being governed by the populousness of the locality where it is erected.
The seats are raised in a circle, around a common centre, where the
birds are fought, or "pitted," upon prepared ground, covered with
saw-dust or tan. The cocks, which are of a peculiar species of game
birds, are subjected from chickenhood, so to speak, to a peculiar course
of treatment. Their food is regularly weighed, and so many ounces of
grain are laid out for each day's consumption, so that the bird is never
permitted to grow fat, but is kept in "condition" at all times. The
feathers are kept closely cropped in a jaunty style, and neck and head,
to the length of three inches or more, are completely plucked of all
feathers, and daily rubbed with _aguadiente_ (island rum), until they
become so calloused that they are insensible to any ordinary wound which
its antagonist might inflict. Brief encounters are encouraged among them
while they are young, under proper restrictions, and no fear is had of
their injuring themselves, until they are old enough to have the _steel
gaffs_ affixed upon those which nature has given them. Then, like armed
men, with swords and daggers, they attack each other, and the blood will
flow at every stroke, the conflict being in no degree impeded, nor the
birds affrighted, by the noisy cries, jeers, and loud challenges of the
excited horde of gamblers who throng all sides of the cock-pit.[30]

Cuba has been justly styled the garden of the world, perpetual summer
smiling upon its favored shores, and its natural wealth almost baffling
the capacity of estimation. The waters which surround it, as we have
already intimated, abound with a variety of fishes, whose bright colors,
emulating the tints of precious stones and the prismatic hues of the
rainbow, astonish the eye of the stranger. Stately trees of various
species, the most conspicuous being the royal palm, rear their luxuriant
foliage against the azure heavens, along the sheltered bays, by the
way-side, on the swells of the haciendas, delighting the eye of the
traveller, and diversifying the ever-charming face of the tropical
landscape. Through the woods and groves flit a variety of birds, whose
dazzling colors defy the palette of the artist. Here the loquacious
parrot utters his harsh natural note; there the red flamingo stands
patiently by the shore of the lagoon, watching in the waters, dyed by
the reflection of his plumage, for his unconscious prey. It would
require a volume to describe the vegetable, animal and mineral kingdom
of Cuba. Among the most familiar birds, and those the names of which
even the casual observer is apt to learn, are the Cuba robin, the
blue-bird, the cat-bird, the Spanish woodpecker, the gaudy-plumed
parrot, the pedoreva, with its red throat and breast and its pea-green
head and body. There is also a great variety of wild pigeons, blue, gray
and white; the English ladybird, as it is called, with a blue head and
scarlet breast, and green and white back; the indigo-bird, the
golden-winged woodpecker, the ibis, the flamingo, and many smaller
species, like the humming-bird. Parrots settle on the sour orange trees
when the fruit is ripe, and fifty may be secured by a net at a time. The
Creoles stew and eat them as we do the pigeon; the flesh is rather
tough, and as there are plenty of fine water and marsh birds about the
lagoons, which are most tender and palatable, one is at a loss to
account for the taste that leads the people to eat the parrot. The brown
pelican is very plenty on the sea-coast, like the gull off our own
shores, and may be seen at all times sailing lazily over the sea, and
occasionally dipping for fish. Here, as among other tropical regions,
and even in some southern sections of this country, the lazy-looking
bald-headed vulture is protected by law, being a sort of natural
scavenger or remover of carrion.

The agriculturists of the island confine their attention almost solely
to the raising of sugar, coffee and tobacco, almost entirely neglecting
Indian corn (which the first settlers found indigenous here), and but
slightly attending to the varieties of the orange.[31] It is scarcely
creditable that, when the generous soil produces from two to three crops
annually, the vegetable wealth of this island should be so poorly
developed. It is capable of supporting a population of almost any
density, and yet the largest estimate gives only a million and a half of
inhabitants. On treading the fertile soil, and on beholding the
clustering fruits offered on all sides, the delicious oranges, the
perfumed pine-apples, the luscious bananas, the cooling cocoanuts, and
other fruits for which our language has no name, we are struck with the
thought of how much Providence, and how little man, has done for this
Eden of the Gulf. We long to see it peopled by men who can appreciate
the gifts of nature, men who are willing to do their part in reward for
her bounty, men who will meet her half way and second her spontaneous
efforts.[32] Nowhere on the face of the globe would intelligent labor
meet with a richer reward,--nowhere on the face of the globe would
repose from labor be so sweet. The hour of rest here sinks upon the face
of nature with a peculiar charm; the night breeze comes with its gentle
wing to fan the weary frame, and no danger lurks in its career. It has
free scope through the unglazed windows. Beautifully blue are the
heavens, and festally bright the stars of a tropical night. Preëminent
in brilliancy among the constellations is the Southern Cross, a galaxy
of stars that never greets us in the north. At midnight its glittering
framework stands erect; that solemn hour passed, the Cross declines.[33]
How glorious the night where such a heavenly sentinel indicates its
watches! Cuba is indeed a land of enchantment, where nature is
beautiful, and where mere existence is a luxury, but it requires the
infusion of a sterner, more self-denying and enterprising race to fully
test its capabilities, and to astonish the world with its

We have thus dilated upon the natural resources of Cuba, and depicted
the charms that rest about her; but every picture has its dark side, and
the political situation of the island is the reverse in the present
instance. Her wrongs are multifarious, and the restrictions placed upon
her by her oppressors are each and all of so heinous and tyrannical a
character, that a chapter upon each would be insufficient to place them
in their true light before the world. There is, however, no better way
of placing the grievances of the Cubans, as emanating from the home
government, clearly before the reader, than by stating such of them as
occur readily to the writer's mind in brief:--

She is permitted no voice in the Cortes; the press is under the vilest
censorship; farmers are compelled to pay ten per cent. on all their
harvest except sugar, and on that article two and a half per cent.; the
island has been under martial law since 1825; over $23,000,000 of taxes
are levied upon the inhabitants, to be squandered by Spain; ice is
monopolized by the government; flour is so taxed as to be inadmissible;
a Creole must purchase a license before he can invite a few friends to
take a cup of tea at his board; there is a stamped paper, made legally
necessary for special purposes of contract, costing eight dollars per
sheet; no goods, either in or out of doors, can be sold without a
license; the natives of the island are excluded entirely from the army,
the judiciary, the treasury, and the customs; the military government
assumes the charge of the schools; the grazing of cattle is taxed
exorbitantly; newspapers from abroad, with few exceptions, are
contraband; letters passing through the post are opened and purged of
their contents before delivery; fishing on the coast is forbidden, being
a government monopoly; planters are forbidden to send their sons to the
United States for educational purposes; the slave-trade is secretly
encouraged by government; no person can remove from one house to another
without first paying for a government permit; all cattle (the same as
goods) that are sold must pay six per cent. of their value to
government; in short, every possible subterfuge is resorted to by the
government officials to swindle the people,[34] everything being taxed,
and there is no appeal from the decision of the captain-general!



[28] The common salutation, on being introduced or meeting a lady, is,
"_A los pies de usted señora_" (at the feet of your grace, my lady).

[29] San Julian de los Guines contains from two to three thousand

[30] The English game-cock is prized in Cuba only for crossing the
breed, for he cannot equal the Spanish bird in agility or endurance.

[31] Three years after the seed of the orange tree is deposited in the
soil, the tree is twelve or fifteen feet high, and the fourth year it
produces a hundred oranges. At ten years of age it bears from three to
four thousand, thus proving vastly profitable.

[32] "This favored land wants nothing but _men_ to turn its advantages
to account, and enjoy their results, to be acknowledged as the garden of
the world."--_Alexander H. Everett._

[33] Humboldt tells us that he has often heard the herdsmen in South
America say, "Midnight is past--the Southern Cross begins to bend."

[34] "No such extent of taxation, as is now enforced in Cuba, was ever
known or heard of before in any part of the world; and no community,
relying solely on the products of its own labor, could possibly exist
under it."--_Alexander H. Everett._


    The volante and its belongings--The ancient town of Regla--The arena
    for the bull-fights at Havana--A bull-fight as witnessed by the
    author at Regla--A national passion with the Spanish
    people--Compared with old Roman sports--Famous
    bull-fighters--Personal description of Cuban ladies--Description of
    the men--Romance and the tropics--The nobility of Cuba--Sugar
    noblemen--The grades of society--The yeomanry of the island--Their
    social position--What they might be--Love of gambling.

The volante, that one vehicle of Cuba, has been several times referred
to in the foregoing pages. It is difficult without experience to form an
idea of its extraordinary ease of motion or its appropriateness to the
peculiarities of the country.[35] It makes nothing of the deep mud that
accompanies the rainy season, but, with its enormous wheels, six feet in
diameter, heavy shafts, and low-hung, chaise-like body, it dashes over
and through every impediment with the utmost facility. Strange as it may
seem, it is very light upon the horse, which is also bestridden by the
postilion, or _calisero_. When travelling any distance upon the road, a
second horse is added on the left, abreast, and attached to the volante
by an added whiffletree and traces. When there are two horses in this
style, the postilion rides the one to the left, leaving the shaft horse
free of other weight than that of the vehicle.

When the roads are particularly bad and there is more than usual weight
to carry, of baggage, etc., a third horse is often used, but he is still
placed abreast with the others, to the right of the shaft horse, and
guided by a bridle rein in the hands of the calisero. The Spaniards take
great pride in these volantes, especially those improved for city use,
and they are often to be met with elaborately mounted with silver, and
in many instances with gold, wrought with great skill and beauty. There
were volantes pointed out to the writer, of this latter character, in
Havana, that could not have cost less than two thousand dollars each,
and this for a two-wheeled vehicle. A volante equipped in this style,
with the gaily dressed calisero, his scarlet jacket elaborately trimmed
with silver braid, his high jack-boots with silver buckles at the knee,
and monstrous spurs upon his heels, with rowels an inch long, makes
quite a dashing appearance, especially if a couple of blackeyed Creole
ladies happen to constitute the freight. Thus they direct their way to
the Tacon Paseo, to meet the fashion of the town at the close of the
day--almost the only out-door recreation for the sex.

Of all the games and sports of the Cubans, that of the bull-fight is the
most cruel and fearful, and without one redeeming feature in its
indulgence. The arena for the exhibitions in the neighborhood of Havana
is just across the harbor at Regla, a small town, having a most worn and
dilapidated appearance.[36] This place was formerly the haunt of
pirates, upon whose depredations and boldness the government, for
reasons best known to itself, shut its official eyes; more latterly it
has been the hailing place for slavers, whose crafts have not yet
entirely disappeared, though the rigor of the English and French
cruisers in the Gulf has rendered it necessary for them to seek a less
exposed rendezvous. Of the Spanish marine they entertain no fear; there
is the most perfect understanding on this point, treaty stipulations
touching the slave-trade, between Spain, England and France, to the
contrary notwithstanding.[37] But we were referring to the subject of
the bull-fights. The arena at Regla, for this purpose, is a large
circular enclosure of sufficient dimensions to seat six thousand people,
and affording perhaps a little more than half an acre of ground for the

The seats are raised one above another in a circle around, at a secure
height from the dangerous struggle which is sure to characterize each
exhibition. On the occasion when the writer was present, after a
flourish of trumpets, a large bull was let loose from a stall opening
into the pit of the enclosure, where three Spaniards (_toreadors_), one
on foot and two on horseback, were ready to receive him, the former
armed with a sword, the latter with spears. They were three hardened
villains, if the human countenance can be relied upon as shadowing forth
the inner man, seemingly reckless to the last degree, but very expert,
agile, and wary. These men commenced at once to worry and torment the
bull until they should arouse him to a state of frenzy. Short spears
were thrust into his neck and sides with rockets attached, which
exploded into his very flesh, burning and affrighting the poor creature.
Thrusts from the horsemen's spears were made into his flesh, and while
he was bleeding thus at every pore, gaudy colors were shaken before his
glowing eyes; and wherever he turned to escape his tormentors, he was
sure to be met with some freshly devised expedient of torment, until at
last the creature became indeed perfectly infuriated and frantically
mad. Now the fight was in earnest!

In vain did the bull plunge gallantly and desperately at his enemies,
they were far too expert for him. They had made this game their business
perhaps for years. Each rush he made upon them was easily avoided, and
he passed them by, until, in his headlong course, he thrust his horns
deep into the boards of the enclosure. The idea, of course, was not to
give him any fatal wounds at the outset, and thus dispatch him at once,
but to worry and torment him to the last. One of the gladiators now
attacked him closely with the sword, and dexterously wounded him in the
back of the neck at each plunge the animal made towards him, at the same
time springing on one side to avoid the shock. After a long fight and at
a grand flourish of trumpets, the most skilful of the swordsmen stood
firm and received the infuriated beast on the point of his weapon, which
was aimed at a fatal spot above the frontlet, leading direct to the
brain. The effect was electrical, and like dropping the curtain upon a
play: the animal staggered, reeled a moment, and fell dead! Three bulls
were thus destroyed, the last one in his frenzy goring a fine spirited
horse, on which one of the gladiators was mounted, to death, and
trampling his rider fearfully. During the exhibition, the parties in the
arena were encouraged to feats of daring by the waving of handkerchiefs
and scarfs in the hands of the fair señoras and señoritas. Indeed there
is generally a young girl trained to the business, who takes a part in
the arena with the matadors against the bull. The one thus engaged, on
the occasion here referred to, could not have exceeded seventeen years
in age.[38]

Whatever colonial modifications the Spanish character may have undergone
in Cuba, the Creole is Castilian still in his love for the cruel sports
of the arena, and there is a great similarity between the modern
Spaniards and the ancient Romans in this respect. As the Spanish
language more closely resembles Latin than Italian, so do the Spanish
people show more of Roman blood than the natives of Italy themselves.
_Panem et circenses_ (bread and circuses!) was the cry of the old Roman
populace, and to gratify their wishes millions of sesterces were
lavished, and, hecatombs of human victims slain, in the splendid
amphitheatres erected by the masters of the world in all the cities
subjected to their sway. And so _pan y toros_ (bread and bulls!) is the
imperious demand of the Spaniards, to which the government always
promptly responds.

The parallel may be pursued still further: the loveliest ladies of Rome
gazed with rapture upon the dying agonies of the gladiators who hewed
each other in pieces, or the Christian's who perished in conflict with
the wild beasts half starved to give them battle! The beauteous señoras
and señoritas of Madrid and Havana enjoy with a keen delight the
terrible spectacle of bulls speared by the _picador_, or gallant horses
ripped up and disembowelled by the horns of their brute adversaries. It
is true that the ameliorating spirit of Christianity is evident in the
changes which the arena has undergone; human lives are not sacrificed
wholesale in the combats; and yet the bull-fight is sufficiently
barbarous and atrocious. It is a national institution, and, as an
indication of national character, is well worthy of attention, however
repulsive to the sensitive mind. The queen of England is sometimes
present on the race-track, so also the queen of Spain occupies the
royal box at the great bull-festas of Madrid. A skilful bull-fighter is
a man of mark and distinction. Montez was regarded by the Spaniards of
this generation with nearly as much respect as Don Rodriguez de Bivar in
the days of the Moorish wars, to such a point has the vaunted chivalry
of Spain degenerated! Sometimes Spanish nobles enter the arena, and
brave peril and death for the sake of the applause bestowed upon the
successful _torero_, and many lives are lost annually in this degrading

Few professional bull-fighters reach an advanced age; their career in
the arena is almost always short, and they cannot avoid receiving severe
wounds in their dangerous career. Pepe Illo, a famous Spanish picador,
was wounded no less than twenty-six times, and finally killed by a bull.
This man and another noted _torero_, named Romero, were possessed of
such undaunted courage, that, in order to excite the interest of the
spectators, they were accustomed to confront the bull with fetters upon
their feet. Another famous picador in the annals of the arena was Juan
Sevilla, who on one occasion was charged furiously by an Andalusian bull
which overthrew both horse and rider. The savage animal, finding that
the legs of his fallen antagonist were so well protected by the
iron-ribbed hide of the pantaloons the bull-fighters wear that it was
impossible to make an impression on them, lowered his horns with the
intention of striking him in the face; but the dauntless picador,
seizing one of the bull's ears in his right hand, and thrusting the
fingers of the other into his nostrils, after a horrible struggle
compelled him to retire. Then, when every one looked to see him borne
out of the ring dying, he rose to his feet, called for a fresh horse and
lance, and bounding into the saddle, attacked the bull in the centre of
the ring, and driving the iron up to the shaft in his neck, rolled him
over dead. "O," says an enthusiastic eye-witness of this prodigious
feat, "if you had heard the _vivas_, if you had witnessed the frantic
joy, the crazy ecstasy at the display of so much courage and good
fortune, like me you would have envied the lot of Sevilla." Such are
some of the dangers and excitements of the bull-ring; such is the
character of some of the scenes which the gentle ladies of Cuba have
learned, not to endure, but to welcome with delight.

To look upon these ladies, you could not possibly imagine that there was
in them sufficient hardihood to witness such exhibitions. They are
almost universally handsome, in person rather below the height of the
sex with us, but with an erect and dignified carriage, and with forms
always rounded to a delicate fullness, displaying a tendency to
_enbonpoint_ quite perfection itself in point of model.[39] The hair is
always black and profuse, the complexion a light olive, without a
particle of carmine, the eyes--a match for the hair in color--are large
and beautifully expressive, with a most irresistible dash of languor in
them.[40] It is really difficult to conceive of a homely woman with such
eyes as you are sure to find them endowed with in Cuba. They have been
justly famed also for their graceful carriage, and, indeed, it is the
very poetry of motion, singular as it may seem when it is remembered
that for them to walk abroad is such a rarity. It is not simply a
progressive move, but the harmonious play of features, the coquettish
undulation of the face, the exquisite disposition of costume, and
modulation of voice, rich, liquid and sweet as the nightingale's, that
engage the beholder, and lend a happy charm to the majestic grace of
every attitude and every step. It is a union, a harmonious consort of
all these elements, that so beautifies the carriage of the Cuban ladies.

The men are, also, generally speaking, manly and good-looking, though
much lighter, smaller and more agile, than the Americans. The lazy life
that is so universally led by them tends to make them less manly in
physical development than a life of activity would do. It seems to be an
acknowledged principle among them never to do that for themselves that a
slave can do for them,--a fact that is very plainly demonstrated by the
style of the volante, where the little horse is made not only to draw
after him the vehicle and its contents, but also to carry upon his back
a heavy negro, weighed down with jack-boots and livery, as a driver,
when a pair of reins extending from the bridle to the volante would
obviate all necessity for the negro's presence at all. But a Creole or
Spaniard would think it demeaning to drive his own volante; the thing is
never seen on the island. The climate, we know, induces to this sense of
ease. With abundance of leisure, and the ever-present influences of
their genial clime, where the heart's blood leaps more swiftly to the
promptings of the imagination--where the female form earliest attains
its wonted beauty and longest holds its sway over the heart--the West
Indies seem peculiarly adapted for romance and love. The consequent
adventures among the people are very numerous, and not, oftentimes,
without startling interest, affording such themes and plots as a French
_feuilletonist_ might revel in. An ungraceful woman is not to be found
on the island; whether bred in the humble cottage of the Montero, or in
the luxuriant mansion of the planter or citizen, she is sure to evince
all the ease and grace of polished life. Your heart is bound to them at
once, when on parting they give you kindly the Spanish benediction, "Go,
señor, in a good hour."

The nobility of Cuba, so called, is composed of rather original
material, to say the least of it, and forms rather a funny
"institution." There may be some thirty gentlemen dubbed with the title
of Marquis, and as many more with that of Count, most of both classes
having acquired their wealth by the carrying on of extensive sugar
plantations. These are sneeringly designated by the humbler classes as
"sugar noblemen," nearly all of these aristocratic gentlemen having
bought their titles outright for money, not the least consideration
being had by the Spanish throne as to the fitness of the individual even
for this nominal honor, save a due consideration for the amount of the
would-be noble's fortune. Twenty-five thousand dollars will purchase
either title. And yet, the tone of Cuban society may be said to be
eminently aristocratic, and, in certain circles, very exclusive. The
native of old Spain does not endeavor to conceal his contempt of
foreigners and the Creoles, shielding his inferiority of intelligence
under a cloak of hauteur; and thus the Castilians and Creoles form two
quite distinct classes in the island,--a distinction which the home
government endeavor to foster and promote in every way, for obvious
reasons of their own.

The sugar planter, the coffee planter, the merchant, the liberal
professions and the literati (this last a meagre class in numbers),
stand about in the order in which we have written them, as it regards
their relative degrees or social position, but wealth has the same charm
here as in every part of Christendom, and the millionaire has the entrée
to all classes. The Monteros, or yeomanry of Cuba, inhabit the
less-cultivated portions of the soil, venturing into the cities only to
sell their surplus produce, acting as "market-men" for the cities in the
immediate neighborhood of their homes. When they stir abroad they are
always armed cap-a-pie with sword and pistols,[41] and, indeed, every
one carries arms upon the inland roads of Cuba. Formerly this was a most
indispensable precaution, though weapons are now rarely brought into
use. The arming of the Monteros, however, has always been encouraged by
the authorities, as they thus form a sort of mounted militia at all
times available, and, indeed, not only the most effective, but about the
only available arm of defence against negro insurrections. The Montero
is rarely a slave-owner himself, but frequently is engaged on the
plantations during the busy season as an extra overseer. He is generally
a hard taskmaster to the slave, having an intuitive hatred for the

The Monteros[42] form an exceedingly important and interesting class of
the population of the island. They marry very young,--the girls from
thirteen to fifteen, the young men from sixteen to twenty,--and almost
universally rearing large families. Their increase during the last
twenty years has been great, and they seem to be fast approaching to a
degree of importance that will make them, like the American farmers, the
bone and sinew of the land. The great and glaring misfortune of their
present situation, is the want of intelligence and cultivation; books
they have none, nor, of course, schools. It is said that they have been
somewhat aroused, of late, from this condition of lethargy concerning
education, and that efforts are being made among them to a considerable
extent to afford their children opportunity for instruction. Physically
speaking, they are a fine yeomanry, and, if they could be rendered
intelligent, would in time become what nature seems to have designed
them for,--the real masters of the country.

There is one fact highly creditable to the Monteros, and that is their
temperate habits, as it regards indulgence in stimulating drinks. As a
beverage, they do not use ardent spirits, and seem to have no taste for
the article, though at times they join the stranger in a social glass. I
doubt if any visitor ever saw one of this class in the least
intoxicated. This being the fact, they are a very reliable people, and
can be counted upon in an emergency. As to the matter of temperance, it
needs no missionaries in the island, for probably there is not so large
a tract of territory in Europe or America, as this island, where such a
degree of temperance is observed in the use of intoxicating drinks.
Healths are drunk at table, but in sparing draughts, while delicious
fruits fill up the time devoted to dessert.

There is probably but one vice that the Monteros may be said to be
addicted to, or which they often indulge in, and that is one which is so
natural to a Spaniard, and the appliances for which are so constantly
at hand, in the shape of the cock-pit, that it is not a wonder he should
be seduced by the passion of gambling. Many of the more intelligent
avoid it altogether, but with others it appears to be a part and parcel
of their very existence. In the cities, as we have already shown, the
government encourage and patronize the spirit of gaming, as they derive
from its practice, by charging exorbitant licences, etc., a heavy sum


[35] "When I first saw the rocking motion of the volante as it drove
along the streets, I thought 'that must be an extremely disagreeable
carriage!' but when I was seated in one, I seemed to myself rocked in a
cloud. I have never felt an easier motion."--_Miss Bremer's Letters._

[36] Regla new contains some seven thousand inhabitants, and is chiefly
engaged in the exportation of molasses, which is here kept in large

[37] An intelligent letter-writer estimates the present annual
importation of slaves at not less than 10,000 souls, direct from Africa.

[38] "One of the chief features in this sport, and which attracted so
many, myself among the number, was a young and beautiful girl, as lovely
a creature as Heaven ever smiled upon, being one of the chief actresses
in the exciting and thrilling scene."--_Rev. L.L. Allen's Lecture._

[39] "The waist is slender, but never compressed by corsets, so that it
retains all its natural proportions."--_Countess Merlin's Letters._

[40] "They have plump figures, placid, unwrinkled countenances,
well-developed busts, and eyes the brilliant languor of which is not the
languor of illness."--_W.C. Bryant's Letters._

[41] "The broadsword dangles by the side of the gentleman, and holsters
are inseparable from his saddle; the simplest countryman, on his straw
saddle, belts on his rude cutlass, and every man with a skin less dark
than an African appears ready for encounter."--_Rev. Abiel Abbot's

[42] "They are men of manly bearing, of thin make, but often of a good
figure, with well-spread shoulders, which, however, have a stoop in
them, contracted, I suppose, by riding always with a short
stirrup."--_W.C. Bryant's Letters._


    A sugar plantation--Americans employed--Slaves on the plantations--A
    coffee plantation--Culture of coffee, sugar and tobacco--Statistics
    of agriculture--The cucullos, or Cuban fire-fly--Novel ornaments
    worn by the ladies--The Cuban mode of harnessing oxen--The montero
    and his horse--Curious style of out-door painting--Petty annoyances
    to travellers--Jealousy of the authorities--Japan-like
    watchfulness--Questionable policy--Political condition of Cuba.

The sugar plantations are the least attractive in external appearance,
but the most profitable, pecuniarily, of all agricultural investments in
the tropics. They spread out their extensive fields of cane without any
relief whatever to the eye, save here and there the tall, majestic and
glorious palm bending gracefully over the undergrowth. The income of
some of the largest sugar plantations in Cuba is set down as high as two
hundred thousand dollars per annum, the lowest perhaps exceeding one
hundred thousand dollars. Some of them still employ ox-power for
grinding the cane; but American steam-engines are fast taking the place
of animal power, and more or less are monthly exported for this purpose
from New York, Philadelphia and Boston. This creates a demand for
engineers and machinists, for whom the Cubans are also dependent upon
this country; and there are said to be at this time two hundred
Bostonians thus engaged, at a handsome remuneration, upon the island. A
Spaniard or Creole would as soon attempt to fly as he would endeavor to
learn how properly to run a steam-engine. As this happens to be a duty
that it is not safe to entrust to even a faithful slave, he is therefore
obliged to send abroad for foreign skill, and to pay for it in round

During the manufacturing season a large, well-managed sugar plantation
exhibits a scene of the utmost activity and unremitting labor. The
planter must "make hay while the sun shines;" and when the cane is ripe
no time must be lost in expressing the juice. Where oxen are employed,
they often die of over-work before the close of the season, and the
slaves are allowed but five hours for sleep, though during the rest of
the year the task of the negroes is comparatively light, and they may
sleep ten hours if they choose.[43] In society, the sugar planter holds
a higher rank than the coffee planter, as we have indicated in the
classification already given; probably, however, merely as in the scale
of wealth, for it requires nearly twice the amount of capital to carry
on the former that is required to perfect the business of the latter,
both in respect to the number of hands and also as it relates to
machinery. But, as the sugar plantation surpasses the coffee in wealth,
so the coffee plantation surpasses, the sugar in every natural beauty
and attractiveness.

A coffee plantation is one of the most beautiful gardens that can well
be conceived of; in its variety and beauty baffling correct description,
being one of those peculiar characteristics of the low latitudes which
must be seen to be understood. An estate devoted to this purpose usually
covers some three hundred acres of land, planted in regular squares of
eight acres, and intersected by broad alleys of palms, mangoes, oranges,
and other ornamental and beautiful tropical trees.[44] Mingled with
these are planted lemons, pomegranates, cape jessamines, and a species
of wild heliotrope, fragrant as the morning. Conceive of this beautiful
arrangement, and then of the whole when in flower; the coffee, with its
milk-white blossoms, so abundant that it seems as though a pure white
cloud of snow had fallen there and left the rest of the vegetation fresh
and green. Interspersed in these fragrant alleys is the red of the
Mexican rose, the flowering pomegranate, and the large, gaudy flower
of the penon, shrouding its parent stem in a cloak of scarlet, with wavings
here and there of the graceful yellow flag, and many bewitchingly-fragrant
wild flowers, twining their tender stems about the base of these. In short,
a coffee plantation is a perfect floral El Dorado, with every luxury
(except ice) the heart could wish. The writer's experience was mainly
gained upon the estate of Dr. Finlay, a Scotch physician long resident
in Cuba, and who is a practising physician in Havana. He has named his
plantation, in accordance with the custom of the planters, with a fancy
title, and calls it pleasantly Buena Esperanza (good hope).

The three great staples of production and exportation are sugar, coffee
and tobacco. The sugar-cane (_arundo saccharifera_) is the great source
of the wealth of the island. Its culture requires, as we have remarked
elsewhere, large capital, involving as it does a great number of hands,
and many buildings, machines, teams, etc. We are not aware that any
attempt has ever been made to refine it on the island. The average yield
of a sugar plantation affords a profit of about fifteen per cent. on the
capital invested. Improved culture and machinery have vastly increased
the productiveness of the sugar plantations. In 1775 there were four
hundred and fifty-three mills, and the crops did not yield quite one
million three hundred thousand _arrobas_ (an arroba is twenty-five
pounds). Fifty years later, a thousand mills produced eight million
arrobas; that is to say, each mill produced six times more sugar. The
Cuban sugar has the preference in all the markets of Europe. Its
manufacture yields, besides, molasses, which forms an important article
of export. A liquor, called _aguadiente_, is manufactured in large
quantities from the molasses. There are several varieties of cane
cultivated on the island. The Otaheitian cane is very much valued. A
plantation of sugar-cane requires renewal once in about seven years. The
canes are about the size of a walking-stick, are cut off near the root,
and laid in piles, separated from the tops, and then conveyed in carts
to the sugar-mill, where they are unladen. Women are employed to feed
the mills, which is done by throwing the canes into a sloping trough,
from which they pass between the mill-stones and are ground entirely
dry. The motive power is supplied either by mules and oxen, or by steam.
Steam machinery is more and more extensively employed, the best machines
being made in the vicinity of Boston. The dry canes, after the
extraction of the juice, are conveyed to a suitable place to be spread
out and exposed to the action of the sun; after which they are employed
as fuel in heating the huge boilers in which the cane-juice is received,
after passing through the tank, where it is purified, lime-water being
there employed to neutralize any free acid and separate vegetable
matters. The granulation and crystallization is effected in large flat
pans. After this, it is broken up or crushed, and packed in hogsheads or
boxes for exportation. A plantation is renewed by laying the green canes
horizontally in the ground, when new and vigorous shoots spring up from
every joint, exhibiting the almost miraculous fertility of the soil of
Cuba under all circumstances.

The coffee-plant (_caffea Arabica_) is less extensively cultivated on
the island than formerly, being found to yield only four per cent. on
the capital invested. This plant was introduced by the French into
Martinique in 1727, and made its appearance in Cuba in 1769. It requires
some shade, and hence the plantations are, as already described,
diversified by alternate rows of bananas, and other useful and
ornamental tropical shrubs and trees. The decadence of this branch of
agriculture was predicted for years before it took place, the fall of
prices being foreseen; but the calculations of intelligent men were
disregarded, simply because they interfered with their own estimate of
profits. When the crash came, many coffee raisers entirely abandoned the
culture, while the wiser among them introduced improved methods and
economy into their business, and were well rewarded for their foresight
and good judgment. The old method of culture was very careless and
defective. The plants were grown very close together, and subjected to
severe pruning, while the fruit, gathered by hand, yielded a mixture of
ripe and unripe berries. In the countries where the coffee-plant
originated, a very different method is pursued. The Arabs plant the
trees much further apart, allow them to grow to a considerable height,
and gather the crop by shaking the trees, a method which secures only
the ripe berries. A coffee plantation managed in this way, and combined
with the culture of vegetables and fruits on the same ground, would
yield, it is said, a dividend of twelve per cent. on the capital
employed; but the Cuban agriculturists have not yet learned to develop
the resources of their favored island.

_Tobacco._ This plant (_nicotiana tabacum_) is indigenous to America,
but the most valuable is that raised in Cuba. Its cultivation is costly,
for it requires a new soil of uncommon fertility, and a great amount of
heat. It is very exhausting to the land. It does not, it is true,
require much labor, nor costly machinery and implements. It is valued
according to the part of the island in which it grows. That of greatest
value and repute, used in the manufacture of the high cost cigars, is
grown in the most westerly part of the island, known popularly as the
_Vuelta de Abajo_. But the whole western portion of the island is not
capable of producing tobacco of the best quality. The region of superior
tobacco is comprised within a parallelogram of twenty-nine degrees by
seven. Beyond this, up to the meridian of Havana, the tobacco is of fine
color, but inferior aroma (the Countess Merlin calls this aroma the
vilest of smells); and the former circumstance secures it the preference
of foreigners. From Consolacion to San Christoval, the tobacco is very
hot, in the language of the growers, but harsh and strong, and from San
Christoval to Guanajay, with the exception of the district of Las
Virtudes, the tobacco is inferior, and continues so up to Holguin y
Cuba, where we find a better quality. The fertile valley of Los Guines
produces poor smoking tobacco, but an article excellent for the
manufacture of snuff. On the banks of the Rio San Sebastian are also
some lands which yield the best tobacco in the whole island. From this
it may be inferred how great an influence the soil produces on the good
quality of Cuban tobacco; and this circumstance operates more strongly
and directly than the slight differences of climate and position
produced by immediate localities. Perhaps a chemical analysis of the
soils of the Vuelta de Abajo would enable the intelligent cultivator to
supply to other lands in the island the ingredients wanting to produce
equally good tobacco. The cultivators in the Vuelta de Abajo are
extremely skilful, though not scientific. The culture of tobacco yields
about seven per cent. on the capital invested, and is not considered to
be so profitable on the island as of yore.

Cacao, rice, plantains, indigo, cotton, sago, yuca (a farinaceous plant,
eaten like potatoes), Indian corn, and many other vegetable productions,
might be cultivated to a much greater extent and with larger profit than
they yield. We are astonished to find that with the inexhaustible
fertility of the soil, with an endless summer, that gives the laborer
two and three crops of some articles a year, agriculture generally
yields a lower per centage than in our stern northern latitudes. The
yield of a _caballeria_ (thirty-two and seven-tenths acres) is as

    Sugar,                 $2,500
    Coffee,                   750
    Tobacco,                3,000
    Cacao,                  5,000
    Indigo,                 2,000
    Indian corn, 2 crops,   1,500
    Rice,                   1,000
    Sago,                   1,500
    Plantains,              2,500
    Yuca,                   1,000

It must be remembered that there are multitudes of fruits and vegetable
productions not enumerated above, which do not enter into commerce, and
which grow wild. No account is taken of them. In the hands of a thrifty
population, Cuba would blossom like a rose, as it is a garden growing
wild, cultivated here and there in patches, but capable of supporting in
ease a population of ten times its density.

About the coffee plantations, and, indeed, throughout the rural parts of
the island, there is an insect called a cucullos, answering in its
nature to our fire-fly, though quadruple its size, which floats in
phosphorescent clouds over the vegetation. One at first sight is apt to
compare them to a shower of stars. They come in multitudes, immediately
after the wet or rainy season sets in, and there is consequently great
rejoicing among the slaves and children, as well as children of a larger
growth. They are caught by the slaves and confined in tiny cages of
wicker, giving them sufficient light for convenience in their cabins at
night, and, indeed, forming all the lamps they are permitted to have.
Many are brought into the city and sold by the young Creoles, a
half-dozen for a paseta (twenty-five cents). Ladies not unfrequently
carry a small cage of silver attached to their bracelets, containing
four or five of them, and the light thus emitted is like a candle. Some
ladies wear a belt of them at night, ingeniously fastened about the
waist, and sometimes even a necklace, the effect thus produced being
highly amusing. In the ball-rooms they are sometimes worn in the
flounces of the ladies' dresses, and they seem nearly as brilliant as
diamonds. Strangely enough, there is a natural hook near the head of the
Cuban fire-fly, by which it can be attached to any part of the dress
without any apparent injury to the insect itself; this the writer has
seen apparently demonstrated, though, of course, it could not be
strictly made clear. The town ladies pet these cucullos, and feed them
regularly with sugar cane, of which the insects partake with infinite
relish; but on the plantations, when a fresh supply is wanted, they have
only to wait until the twilight deepens, and a myriad can be secured
without trouble.

The Cubans have a queer, but yet excellent mode of harnessing their
oxen, similar to that still in vogue among eastern countries. The yoke
is placed behind the horns, at the roots, and so fastened to them with
thongs that they draw, or, rather, push by them, without chafing. The
animals always have a hole perforated in their nostrils, through which a
rope is passed, serving as reins, and rendering them extremely
tractable; the wildest and most stubborn animals are completely subdued
by this mode of controlling them, and can be led unresisting anywhere.
This mode of harnessing seems to enable the animal to bring more
strength to bear upon the purpose for which he is employed, than when
the yoke is placed, as is the case with us, about the throat and
shoulders. It is laid down in natural history that the greatest strength
of horned animals lies in the head and neck, but, in placing the yoke on
the breast, we get it out of reach of both head and neck, and the animal
draws the load behind by the mere force of the weight and impetus of
body, as given by the limbs. Wouldn't it be worth while to break a yoke
of steers to this mode, and test the matter at the next Connecticut
ploughing-match? We merely suggest the thing.

The Cuban horse deserves more than a passing notice in this connection.
He is a remarkably valuable animal. Though small and delicate of limb,
he can carry a great weight; and his gait is a sort of _march_,
something like our pacing horses, and remarkably easy under the saddle.
They have great power of endurance, are small eaters, and very docile
and easy to take care of. The Montero inherits all the love of his
Moorish ancestors for the horse, and never stirs abroad without him. He
considers himself established for life when he possesses a good horse, a
sharp Toledo blade, and a pair of silver spurs, and from very childhood
is accustomed to the saddle. They tell you long stories of their horses,
and would make them descended direct from the Kochlani,[45] if you will
permit them. Their size may readily be arrived at from the fact that
they rarely weigh over six hundred pounds; but they are very finely

The visitor, as he passes inland, will frequently observe upon the
fronts of the clustering dwelling-houses attempts at representations of
birds and various animals, looking like anything but what they are
designed to depict, the most striking characteristic being the gaudy
coloring and remarkable size. Pigeons present the colossal appearance of
ostriches, and dogs are exceedingly elephantine in their proportions.
Especially in the suburbs of Havana may this queer fancy be observed to
a great extent, where attempts are made to depict domestic scenes, and
the persons of either sex engaged in appropriate occupations. If such
ludicrous objects were met with anywhere else but in Cuba, they would be
called caricatures, but here they are regarded with the utmost
complacency, and innocently considered as ornamental.[46] Somehow this
is a very general passion among the humbler classes, and is observable
in the vicinity of Matanzas and Cardenas, as well as far inland, at the
small hamlets. The exterior of the town houses is generally tinted blue,
or some brown color, to protect the eyes of the inhabitants from the
powerful reflection of the ever-shining sun.

One of the most petty and annoying experiences that the traveller upon
the island is sure to meet with, is the arbitrary tax of time, trouble
and money to which he is sure to be subjected by the petty officials of
every rank in the employment of government; for, by a regular and
legalized system of arbitrary taxation upon strangers, a large revenue
is realized. Thus, the visitor is compelled to pay some five dollars for
a landing permit, and a larger sum, say seven dollars, to get away
again. If he desires to pass out of the city where he has landed, a
fresh permit and passport are required, at a further expense, though you
bring one from home signed by the Spanish consul of the port where you
embarked, and have already been adjudged by the local authorities.
Besides all this, you are watched, and your simplest movements noted
down and reported daily to the captain of police, who takes the liberty
of stopping and examining all your newspapers, few of which are ever
permitted to be delivered to their address; and, if you are thought to
be a suspicious person, your letters, like your papers, are
unhesitatingly devoted to "government purposes."

An evidence of the jealous care which is exercised to prevent strangers
from carrying away any information in detail relative to the island,
was evinced to the writer in a tangible form on one occasion in the
Paseo de Isabella. A young French artist had opened his portfolio, and
was sketching one of the prominent statues that grace the spot, when an
officer stepped up to him, and, taking possession of his pencil and
other materials, conducted him at once before some city official within
the walls of Havana. Here he was informed that he could not be allowed
to sketch even a tree without a permit signed by the captain-general. As
this was the prominent object of the Frenchman's visit to the island,
and as he was really a professional artist sketching for
self-improvement, he succeeded, after a while, in convincing the
authorities of these facts, and he was then, as a great favor, supplied
with a permit (for which he was compelled to pay an exorbitant fee),
which guaranteed to him the privilege of sketching, with certain
restrictions as to fortifications, military posts, and harbor views; the
same, however, to expire after ninety days from the date.

The great value and wealth of the island has been kept comparatively
secret by this Japan-like watchfulness; and hence, too, the great lack
of reliable information, statistical or otherwise, relating to its
interests, commerce, products, population, modes and rates of taxation,
etc. Jealous to the very last degree relative to the possession of Cuba,
the home government has exhausted its ingenuity in devising restrictions
upon its inhabitants; while, with a spirit of avarice also goaded on by
necessity, it has yearly added to the burthen of taxation upon the
people to an unparalleled extent. The cord _may_ be severed, and the
overstrained bow will spring back to its native and upright position!
The Cubans are patient and long-suffering, that is sufficiently obvious
to all; and yet Spain may break the camel's back by one more feather!

The policy that has suppressed all statistical information, all
historical record of the island, all accounts of its current prosperity
and growth, is a most short-sighted one, and as unavailing in its
purpose as it would be to endeavor to keep secret the diurnal
revolutions of the earth. No official public chart of the harbor of
Havana has ever been issued by the Spanish government, no maps of it
given by the home government as authentic; they would draw a screen over
this tropical jewel, lest its dazzling brightness should tempt the
cupidity of some other nation. All this effort at secrecy is little
better than childishness on their part, since it is impossible, with all
their precautions, to keep these matters secret. It is well known that
our war department at Washington contains faithful sectional and
complete drawings of every important fortification in Cuba, and even the
most reliable charts and soundings of its harbors, bays and seaboard

The political condition of Cuba is precisely what might be expected of a
Castilian colony thus ruled, and governed by such a policy. Like the
home government, she presents a remarkable instance of stand-still
policy; and from one of the most powerful kingdoms, and one of the most
wealthy, is now the humblest and poorest. Other nations have labored and
succeeded in the race of progress, while her adherence to ancient
institutions, and her dignified scorn of "modern innovations," amount in
fact to a species of retrogression, which has placed her far below all
her sister governments of Europe. The true Hidalgo spirit, which wraps
itself up in an antique garb, and shrugs its shoulders at the advance of
other countries, still rules over the beautiful realm of Ferdinand and
Isabella, and its high-roads still boast their banditti and worthless
gipsies, as a token of the declining power of the Castilian crown.


[43] According to the Spanish slave code, the slave can be kept at work
in Cuba only from sunrise till sunset, with an interval for repose at
noon of two hours. But this is not regarded in the manufacturing season,
which, after all, the slaves do not seem to dread, as they are granted
more privileges at this period, and are better fed, with more variety of
meats and spices, with other agreeable indulgences.

[44] The coffee-tree requires to be protected, at least partially, from
the sun; hence the planting of bananas and other trees in their midst.

[45] "Those horses, called by the Arabians Kochlani, of whom a written
genealogy has been kept for two thousand years. They are said to derive
their origin from King Solomon's steeds."--_Niebuhr._

[46] "On the fronts of the shops and houses, and on plastered walls by
the way-side, you continually see painted birds, and beasts, and
creeping things, men and women in their various vocations and
amusements, and some things and some images not strictly forbidden by
the letter of the commandment, being like nothing in heaven above, or in
the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth!"--_Rev. Abiel
Abbot's Letters._



Probably of all the governors-general that have filled the post in Cuba
none is better known abroad, or has left more monuments of his
enterprise, than Tacon. His reputation at Havana is of a somewhat
doubtful character; for, though he followed out with energy the various
improvements suggested by Aranjo, yet his modes of procedure were so
violent, that he was an object of terror to the people generally, rather
than of gratitude. He vastly improved the appearance of the capital and
its vicinity, built the new prison, rebuilt the governor's palace,
constructed a military road to the neighboring forts, erected a spacious
theatre and market-house (as related in connection with Marti), arranged
a new public walk, and opened a vast parade ground without the city
walls, thus laying the foundation of the new city which has now sprung
up in this formerly desolate suburb. He suppressed the gaming-houses,
and rendered the streets, formerly infested with robbers, as secure as
those of Boston or New York. But all this was done with a bold military
arm. Life was counted of little value, and many of the first people fell
before his orders.

Throughout all his career, there seemed ever to be within him a romantic
love of justice, and a desire to administer it impartially; and some of
the stories, well authenticated, illustrating this fact, are still
current in Havana. One of these, as characteristic of Tacon and his
rule, is given in this connection, as nearly in the words of the
narrator as the writer can remember them, listened to in "La

During the first year of Tacon's governorship, there was a young Creole
girl, named Miralda Estalez, who kept a little cigar-store in the _Calle
de Mercaderes_, and whose shop was the resort of all the young men of
the town who loved a choicely-made and superior cigar. Miralda was only
seventeen, without mother or father living, and earned an humble though
sufficient support by her industry in the manufactory we have named, and
by the sales of her little store. She was a picture of ripened tropical
beauty, with a finely rounded form, a lovely face, of soft, olive tint,
and teeth that a Tuscarora might envy her. At times, there was a dash of
languor in her dreamy eye that would have warmed an anchorite; and then
her cheerful jests were so delicate, yet free, that she had unwittingly
turned the heads, not to say hearts, of half the young merchants in the
_Calle de Mercaderes_. But she dispensed her favors without partiality;
none of the rich and gay exquisites of Havana could say they had ever
received any particular acknowledgment from the fair young girl to
their warm and constant attention. For this one she had a pleasant
smile, for another a few words of pleasing gossip, and for a third a
snatch of a Spanish song; but to none did she give her confidence,
except to young Pedro Mantanez, a fine-looking boatman, who plied
between the Punta and Moro Castle, on the opposite side of the harbor.

Pedro was a manly and courageous young fellow, rather above his class in
intelligence, appearance and associations, and pulled his oars with a
strong arm and light heart, and loved the beautiful Miralda with an
ardor romantic in its fidelity and truth. He was a sort of leader among
the boatmen of the harbor for reason of his superior cultivation and
intelligence, and his quick-witted sagacity was often turned for the
benefit of his comrades. Many were the noble deeds he had done in and
about the harbor since a boy, for he had followed his calling of a
waterman from boyhood, as his fathers had done before him. Miralda in
turn ardently loved Pedro; and, when he came at night and sat in the
back part of her little shop, she had always a neat and fragrant cigar
for his lips. Now and then, when she could steal away from her shop on
some holiday, Pedro would hoist a tiny sail in the prow of his boat, and
securing the little stern awning over Miralda's head, would steer out
into the gulf, and coast along the romantic shore.

There was a famous roué, well known at this time in Havana, named Count
Almonte, who had frequently visited Miralda's shop, and conceived quite
a passion for the girl, and, indeed, he had grown to be one of her most
liberal customers. With a cunning shrewdness and knowledge of human
nature, the count besieged the heart of his intended victim without
appearing to do so, and carried on his plan of operations for many weeks
before the innocent girl even suspected his possessing a partiality for
her, until one day she was surprised by a present from him of so rare
and costly a nature as to lead her to suspect the donor's intentions at
once, and to promptly decline the offered gift. Undismayed by this,
still the count continued his profuse patronage in a way to which
Miralda could find no plausible pretext of complaint.

At last, seizing upon what he considered a favorable moment, Count
Almonte declared his passion to Miralda, besought her to come and be the
mistress of his broad and rich estates at Cerito, near the city, and
offered all the promises of wealth, favor and fortune; but in vain. The
pure-minded girl scorned his offer, and bade him never more to insult
her by visiting her shop. Abashed but not confounded, the count retired,
but only to weave a new snare whereby he could entangle her, for he was
not one to be so easily thwarted.

One afternoon, not long after this, as the twilight was settling over
the town, a file of soldiers halted just opposite the door of the little
cigar-shop, when a young man, wearing a lieutenant's insignia, entered,
and asked the attendant if her name was Miralda Estalez, to which she
timidly responded.

"Then you will please to come with me."

"By what authority?" asked the trembling girl.

"The order of the governor-general."

"Then I must obey you," she answered; and prepared to follow him at

Stepping to the door with her, the young officer directed his men to
march on; and, getting into a volante, told Miralda they would drive to
the guard-house. But, to the surprise of the girl, she soon after
discovered that they were rapidly passing the city gates, and
immediately after were dashing off on the road to Cerito. Then it was
that she began to fear some trick had been played upon her; and these
fears were soon confirmed by the volante's turning down the long alley
of palms that led to the estate of Count Almonte. It was in vain to
expostulate now; she felt that she was in the power of the reckless
nobleman, and the pretended officer and soldiers were his own people,
who had adopted the disguise of the Spanish army uniform.

Count Almonte met her at the door, told her to fear no violence, that
her wishes should be respected in all things save her personal
liberty,--that he trusted, in time, to persuade her to look more
favorably upon him, and that in all things he was her slave. She replied
contemptuously to his words, and charged him with the cowardly trick by
which he had gained control of her liberty. But she was left by
herself, though watched by his orders at all times to prevent her

She knew very well that the power and will of Count Almonte were too
strong for any humble friend of hers to attempt to thwart; and yet she
somehow felt a conscious strength in Pedro, and secretly cherished the
idea that he would discover her place of confinement, and adopt some
means to deliver her. The stiletto is the constant companion of the
lower classes, and Miralda had been used to wear one even in her store
against contingency; but she now regarded the tiny weapon with peculiar
satisfaction, and slept with it in her bosom!

Small was the clue by which Pedro Mantanez discovered the trick of Count
Almonte. First this was found out, then that circumstance, and these,
being put together, they led to other results, until the indefatigable
lover was at last fully satisfied that he had discovered her place of
confinement. Disguised as a friar of the order of San Felipe, he sought
Count Almonte's gates at a favorable moment, met Miralda, cheered her
with fresh hopes, and retired to arrange some certain plan for her
delivery. There was time to think _now_; heretofore he had not permitted
himself even an hour's sleep; but she was safe,--that is, not in
immediate danger,--and he could breathe more freely. He knew not with
whom to advise; he feared to speak to those above him in society, lest
they might betray his purpose to the count, and his own liberty, by some
means, be thus jeopardized. He could only consider with himself; he
must be his own counsellor in this critical case.

At last, as if in despair, he started to his feet, one day, and
exclaimed to himself, "Why not go to head-quarters at once? why not see
the governor-general, and tell him the whole truth? Ah! see him?--how is
that to be effected? And then this Count Almonte is a _nobleman_! They
say Tacon loves justice. We shall see. I _will_ go to the
governor-general; it cannot do any harm, if it does not do any good. I
can but try." And Pedro did seek the governor. True, he did not at once
get audience of him,--not the first, nor the second, nor third time: but
he persevered, and was admitted at last. Here he told his story in a
free, manly voice, undisguisedly and open in all things, so that Tacon
was pleased.

"And the girl?" asked the governor-general, over whose countenance a
dark scowl had gathered. "Is she thy sister?"

"No, Excelencia, she is dearer still; she is my betrothed."

The governor, bidding him come nearer, took a golden cross from his
table, and, handing it to the boatman, as he regarded him searchingly,

"Swear that what you have related to me is true, as you hope for

"I swear!" said Pedro, kneeling and kissing the emblem with simple

The governor turned to his table, wrote a few brief lines, and, touching
a bell, summoned a page from an adjoining room, whom he ordered to send
the captain of the guard to him. Prompt as were all who had any
connection with the governor's household, the officer appeared at once,
and received the written order, with directions to bring Count Almonte
and a young girl named Miralda immediately before him. Pedro was sent to
an anteroom, and the business of the day passed on as usual in the
reception-hall of the governor.

Less than two hours had transpired when the count and Miralda stood
before Tacon. Neither knew, the nature of the business which had
summoned them there. Almonte half suspected the truth, and the poor girl
argued to herself that her fate could not but be improved by the
interference, let its nature be what it might.

"Count Almonte, you doubtless know why I have ordered you to appear

"Excelencia, I fear that I have been indiscreet," was the reply.

"You adopted the uniform of the guards for your own private purposes
upon this young girl, did you not?"

"Excelencia, I cannot deny it."

"Declare, upon your honor, Count Almonte, whether she is unharmed whom
you have thus kept a prisoner."

"Excelencia, she is as pure as when she entered beneath my roof," was
the truthful reply.

The governor turned, and whispered something to his page, then continued
his questions to the count, while he made some minutes upon paper. Pedro
was now summoned to explain some matter, and, as he entered, the
governor-general turned his back for one moment as if to seek for some
papers upon his table, while Miralda was pressed in the boatman's arms.
It was but for a moment, and the next, Pedro was bowing humbly before
Tacon. A few moments more and the governor's page returned, accompanied
by a monk of the church of Santa Clara, with the emblems of his office.

"Holy father," said Tacon, "you will bind the hands of this Count
Almonte and Miralda Estalez together in the bonds of wedlock!"

"Excelencia!" exclaimed the count, in amazement.

"Not a word, Señor; it is your part to obey!"

"My nobility, Excelencia!"

"Is forfeited!" said Tacon.

Count Almonte had too many evidences before his mind's eye of Tacon's
mode of administering justice and of enforcing his own will to dare to
rebel, and he doggedly yielded in silence. Poor Pedro, not daring to
speak, was half-crazed to see the prize he had so long coveted thus
about to be torn from him. In a few moments the ceremony was performed,
the trembling and bewildered girl not daring to thwart the governor's
orders, and the priest declared them husband and wife. The captain of
the guard was summoned and despatched with some written order, and, in
a few subsequent moments, Count Almonte, completely subdued and
broken-spirited, was ordered to return to his plantation. Pedro and
Miralda were directed to remain in an adjoining apartment to that which
had been the scene of this singular procedure. Count Almonte mounted his
horse, and, with a single attendant, soon passed out of the city gates.
But hardly had he passed the corner of the Paseo, when a dozen
musketeers fired a volley upon him, and he fell a corpse upon the road!

His body was quietly removed, and the captain of the guard, who had
witnessed the act, made a minute upon his order as to the time and
place, and, mounting his horse, rode to the governor's palace, entering
the presence chamber just as Pedro and Miralda were once more summoned
before the governor.

"Excelencia," said the officer, returning the order, "it is executed!"

"Is the count dead?"

"Excelencia, yes."

"Proclaim, in the usual manner, the marriage of Count Almonte and
Miralda Estalez, and also that she is his legal widow, possessed of his
titles and estates. See that a proper officer attends her to the count's
estate, and enforces this decision." Then, turning to Pedro Mantanez, he
said, "No man nor woman in this island is so humble but that they may
claim justice of Tacon!"

The story furnishes its own moral.


    Consumption of tobacco--The universal cigar--Lady smokers--The
    fruits of Cuba--Flour a prohibited article--The royal palm--West
    Indian trees--Snakes, animals, etc.--The Cuba blood-hound--Mode of
    training him--Remarkable instinct--Importation of slaves--Their
    cost--Various African tribes--Superstitious
    belief--Tattooing--Health of the negroes--Slave laws of the
    island--Food of the negroes--Spanish law of emancipation--General
    treatment of the slaves.

The consumption of tobacco,[47] in the form of cigars, is absolutely
enormous in the island. Every man, woman and child, seems to smoke; and
it strikes one as rather peculiar, to say the least of it, to see a lady
smoking her cigarito in the parlor, or on the verandah; but this is very
common. The men, of all degrees, smoke, and smoke everywhere; in the
houses, in the street, in the theatre, in the cafés, in the
counting-room; eating, drinking, and, truly, it would seem, sleeping,
they smoke, smoke, smoke. The slave and his master, the maid and her
mistress, boy and man,--all, all smoke; and it is really odd that
vessels don't scent Havana far out at sea before they heave in sight of
its headlands. No true Havanese ever moves a foot without his portable
armory of cigars, as indispensable to him as is his quiver to the wild
Indian, and he would feel equally lost without it. Some one has
facetiously said that the cigar ought to be the national emblem of Cuba.

The gentlemen consume from ten to twelve cigars per day, and many of the
women half that number, saying nothing of the juvenile portion of the
community. The consequence of this large and increasing consumption,
including the heavy export of the article, is to employ a vast number of
hands in the manufacture of cigars, and the little stores and stalls
where they are made are plentifully sprinkled all over the city, at
every corner and along the principal streets. It is true that the ladies
of the best classes in Havana have abandoned the practice of smoking, or
at least they have ostensibly done so, never indulging absolutely in
public; but the writer has seen a noted beauty whose teeth were much
discolored by the oil which is engendered in the use of the paper
cigars, thus showing that, although they no longer smoke in public, yet
the walls of their boudoirs are no strangers to the fumes of tobacco.
This is the only form in which the weed is commonly used here. You
rarely meet a snuff-taker, and few, if any, chew tobacco. It is
astonishing how passionately fond of smoking the negroes become; with
heavy pipes, well filled, they inhale the rich narcotic, driving it out
at the nostrils in a slow, heavy stream, and half dozing over the dreamy
and exhilarating process. They are fully indulged in this taste by
their masters, whether in town, or inland upon the plantations. The
postilions who wait for fare in the streets pass four-fifths of their
time in this way, and dream over their pipes of pure Havana.

We can have but a poor idea, at the north, of tropical fruits, for only
a portion of them are of a nature to admit of exportation, and those
must be gathered in an unripe condition in order to survive a short sea
voyage. The orange in Boston, and the orange in Havana, are vastly
different; the former has been picked green and ripened on ship-board,
the latter was on the tree a few hours before you purchased it, and
ripened upon its native stem. So of the bananas, one of the most
delightful of all West India fruits, and which grow everywhere in Cuba
with prodigal profuseness. The principal fruits of the island are the
banana, mango, pomegranate, orange, pine-apple,[48] zapota, tamarind,
citron, fig, cocoa, lemon, rose-apple and bread-fruit. Though any of
these are eaten freely of at all hours, yet the orange seems to be the
Creole's favorite, and he seldom rises from his bed in the morning until
he has drank his cup of strong coffee, and eaten three or four oranges,
brought fresh and prepared to him by a slave. The practice is one which
the visitor falls very naturally into, and finds most agreeable. They
have a saying that "the orange is gold in the morning, silver at noon,
and lead at night." The most singular of these varieties of fruits (by
no means embracing all) is the rose-apple, which, when eaten, has the
peculiar and very agreeable flavor of otto of rose, and this is so
strong that to eat more than one at a time is almost unpleasant. It has
a very sweet taste, and flavors some soups finely. Of these fruit trees,
the lemon is decidedly the most ornamental and pretty, for, though small
and dwarfish, like the American quince, yet it hangs with flowers, small
lemons, and ripe fruit, all together, reminding one of the eastern
_Alma_,[49] and forming an uncommon and beautiful sight. This agreeable
phenomenon will surprise you at every turn upon the coffee plantations.

But the article of food most required in the island is flour, while the
importation of it is made so unreasonably expensive as to amount to a
positive prohibition upon the article. On foreign flour there is a fixed
duty of _ten dollars_, to which if we add the one and a half per cent.,
with other regular charges, the duty will amount to about ten dollars
and fifty cents per barrel. This enormous tax on flour prevents its use
altogether in the island, except by the wealthier classes. True, there
is a home-made, Spanish article, far inferior, which costs somewhat
less, being imported from far-off Spain without the prohibitory clause.
The estimate of the consumption of flour in this country gives one and
a half barrel per head, per annum; but let us suppose that the free
population consume but one. The free population--that is, the whites
exclusively, not including the large number of free negroes--numbers
over six hundred thousand; if the island belonged to this country, there
would immediately arise a demand for six hundred thousand barrels of
flour per annum, for the duty would no longer exist as a prohibition
upon this necessary article. At four dollars and fifty cents per barrel,
this would make the sum of two million seven hundred thousand dollars;
and if we allow half a barrel each to the slaves and free blacks, which
would be the natural result, being not only the best but cheapest food,
we have an annual demand of from four to five hundred thousand barrels
more of the great staple production of the United States. This is an
item worth considering by political economists. At the present time, the
imports into this country from thence exceed our exports to Cuba to the
amount of nearly one million of dollars annually.

But we were writing of the vegetable productions of the island, when
this digression occurred.

The Royal Palm is the noblest tree of Cuba, rising from thirty to fifty
feet, and sometimes even twice this height, with a straight stem, while
from the top spring the broad and beautiful leaves, in a knot, like a
plume of ostrich feathers. The bark is equally divided by ornamental
ringlets encircling it, each one marking a year of its age. A
peculiarity of this tree is, that it has no substance in the interior of
the trunk,[50] yet the outside, to the thickness of an inch and more,
makes the finest of boards, and, when seasoned, will turn a board nail
with one stroke of the hammer. The top of the palm yields a vegetable
which is much used upon the table, and, when boiled, resembles in flavor
our cauliflower. The cocoanut tree very much resembles the palm, the
branches diverging, like the ribs of an umbrella, from one common
centre, among which the fruit hangs in tempting clusters far out of
reach from the ground. The plantain, with its profuse clusters of
finger-like fruit, grows low like the banana, which it vastly resembles,
and the entire trunk of both are renewed yearly; the old stock, after
yielding its crop, decaying rapidly, and forming the most nutritious
matter for the soil that can be had. Many of the hedges through the
plantations are formed of aloes, of a large and luxuriant growth, with
dagger-like points, and stiff, long leaves, bidding defiance to ingress
or egress, yet ever ornamented with a fragrant cup-like flower. Lime
hedges are also very abundant, with their clusters of white blossoms,
and there is a vast supply of mahogany and other precious woods, in the
extensive forests.

It is somewhat remarkable that there is not a poisonous reptile or
animal of any sort in Cuba. Snakes of various species abound, but are
said to be perfectly inoffensive, though sometimes destructive to
domestic fowls. During a pleasant trip between San Antonio and Alquizar,
in a volante with a planter, this subject happened to be under
discussion, when the writer discovered a snake, six feet long, and as
large at the middle as his arm, directly before the volante. On suddenly
exclaiming, and pointing it out, the planter merely replied by giving
its species, and declaring that a child might sleep with it unharmed. In
the meantime, it was a relief to see the _innocent_ creature hasten out
of the way and secrete itself in a neighboring hedge. Lizards,
tarantulas and chameleons, abound, but are considered harmless. The
writer has awakened in the morning and found several lizards creeping on
the walls of his apartment. Only one small quadruped is found in Cuba
that is supposed to be indigenous, and that is called the hutia, much
resembling a mouse, but without the tail.

The Cuban blood-hound, of which we hear so much, is not a native of the
island, but belongs to an imported breed, resembling the English
mastiff, though with longer nose and limbs. He is naturally a fierce,
blood-thirsty animal, but the particular qualities which fit him for
tracing the runaway slaves are wholly acquired by careful and expert
training. This training of the hounds to fit them for following and
securing the runaway negroes is generally entrusted to a class of men
who go about from one plantation to another, and who are usually
Monteros or French overseers out of employment. Each plantation keeps
more or less of these dogs, more as a precautionary measure, however,
than for actual use, for so certain is the slave that he will be
instantly followed as soon as he is missed, and easily traced by the
hounds, of whose instinct he is fully aware, that he rarely attempts to
escape from his master. In one respect this acts as a positive advantage
to the negroes themselves, for the master, feeling a confidence relative
to their possession and faithfulness, and well knowing the ease with
which they can at once be secured should they run away, is thus enabled
to leave them comparatively free to roam about the plantation, and they
undergo no surveillance except during working hours, when an overseer is
of course always somewhere about, looking after them, and prompting
those that are indolent.

The blood-hounds are taken when quite young, tied up securely, and a
negro boy is placed to tease and annoy them, occasionally administering
a slight castigation upon the animals, taking care to keep out of the
reach of their teeth. This whipping is generally administered under the
direction of the trainer, who takes good care that it shall not be
sufficiently severe to really hurt the dogs or crush their spirit of
resistance. As the dogs grow older, negro men, in place of boys, are
placed to fret and irritate them, occasionally administering, as before,
slight castigations upon the dogs, but under the same restrictions; and
they also resort to the most ingenious modes of vexing the animals to
the utmost, until the very sight of a negro will make them howl.
Finally, after a slave has worried them to the last degree, he is given
a good start, and the ground is marked beforehand, a tree being
selected, when the dogs are let loose after him. Of course they pursue
him with open jaws and the speed of the wind; but the slave climbs the
tree, and is secure from the vengeance of the animals.

This is the exact position in which the master desires them to place his
runaway slave--"tree him," and then set up a howl that soon brings up
the hunters. They are never set upon the slaves to bite or injure them,
but only placed upon their track to follow and hunt them. So perfect of
scent are these animals, that the master, when he is about to pursue a
runaway, will find some clothing, however slight, which the missing
slave has left behind him, and giving it to the hounds to smell, can
then rely upon them to follow the slave through whole plantations of his
class, none of whom they will molest, but, with their noses to the
ground, will lead straight to the woods, or wherever the slave has
sought shelter. On the plantations these dogs are always kept chained
when not in actual use, the negroes not being permitted to feed or to
play with them; they are scrupulously fed by the overseer or master, and
thus constitute the animal police of the plantation. In no wise can they
be brought to attack a white man, and it would be difficult for such to
provoke them to an expression of rage or anger, while their early and
systematic training makes them feel a natural enmity to the blacks,
which is of course most heartily reciprocated.

Cuba has been called the hot-bed of slavery; and it is in a certain
sense true. The largest plantations own from three to five hundred
negroes, which establishments require immense investments of capital
successfully to manage. A slave, when first landed, is worth, if sound,
from four to five hundred dollars, and more as he becomes acclimated and
instructed, their dull natures requiring a vast deal of watchful
training before they can be brought to any positive usefulness, in doing
which the overseers have found kindness go a vast deal farther than
roughness. Trifling rewards, repaying the first efforts at breaking in
of the newly imported negro, establishes a good understanding at once,
and thus they soon grow very tractable, though they do not for a long
time understand a single word of Spanish that is addressed to them.

These negroes are from various African tribes, and their characteristics
are visibly marked, so that their nationality is at once discernible,
even to a casual observer. Thus the Congos are small in stature, but
agile and good laborers; the Fantee are a larger race, revengeful, and
apt to prove uneasy; those from the Gold Coast are still more powerful,
and command higher prices, and when well treated make excellent domestic
servants. The Ebros are less black than the others, being almost
mulatto. There is a tribe known as the Ashantees, very rare in Cuba, as
they are powerful at home, and consequently are rarely conquered in
battle, or taken prisoners by the shore tribes in Africa, who sell them
to the slave factories on the coast. They are prized, like those from
the Gold Coast, for their strength. Another tribe, known as the
Carrobalees, are highly esteemed by the planters, but yet they are
avoided when first imported, from the fact that they have a belief and
hope, very powerful among them, that after death they will return to
their native land, and therefore, actuated by a love of home, these poor
exiles are prone to suicide. This superstition is also believed in by
some other tribes; and when a death thus occurs, the planter, as an
example to the rest, and to prevent a like occurrence among them, burns
the body, and scatters the ashes to the wind!

The tattooed faces, bodies and limbs, of the larger portion of the
slaves, especially those found inland upon the plantations, indicate
their African birth; those born upon the island seldom mark themselves
thus, and being more intelligent than their parents, from mingling with
civilization, are chosen generally for city labor, becoming postilions,
house-servants, draymen, laborers upon the wharves, and the like,
presenting physical developments that a white man cannot but envy on
beholding, and showing that for some philosophical reason the race thus
transplanted improves physically, at least. They are remarkably healthy;
indeed, all classes of slaves are so, except when an epidemic breaks
out among them, and then it rages more fearfully far than with the
whites. Thus the cholera and small-pox always sweep them off by hundreds
when these diseases get fairly introduced among them. If a negro is sick
he requires just twice as much medicine as a white man to affect him,
but for what reason is a mystery in the practice of the healing art. The
prevailing illness with them is bowel complaints, to which they are
always more or less addicted, and their food is therefore regulated to
obviate this trouble as far as possible, but they always eat freely of
the fruits about them, so ripe and inviting, and so plentiful, too, that
half the crop and more, usually rots upon the ground ungathered. The
swine are frequently let loose to help clear the ground of its
overburdened and ripened fruits.

The slaves upon the plantations in all outward circumstances seem quite
thoughtless and happy; the slave code of the island, which regulates
their government, is never widely departed from. The owners are obliged
to instruct them all in the Catholic faith, and they are each baptized
as soon as they can understand the signification of the ceremony. The
law also provides that the master shall give a certain quantity and
variety of food to his slaves; but on this score slaves rarely if ever
have cause of complaint, as it is plainly for the planter's interest to
keep them in good condition. There is one redeeming feature in Spanish
slavery, as contrasted with that of our southern country, and that is,
that the laws favor emancipation. If a slave by his industry is able to
accumulate money enough to pay his _first cost_ to his master, however
unwilling the planter may be to part with him, the law guarantees him
his freedom. This the industrious slave can accomplish at farthest in
seven years, with the liberty and convenience which all are allowed.
Each one, for instance, is permitted to keep a pig, and to cultivate a
small piece of land for his own purposes, by raising corn; the land
yielding two crops to the year, they can render a pig fat enough, and
the drovers pay fifty dollars apiece to the slaves for good ones. This
is a _redeeming_ feature, but it is a bitter pill at best.

There are doubtless instances of cruelty towards the slaves, but the
writer is forced to acknowledge that he never witnessed a single
evidence of this during his stay in the island,[51] and, while he would
be the last person to defend slavery as an institution, yet he is
satisfied that the practical evils of its operation are vastly overrated
by ignorant persons. It is so obviously for the planter's interest to
treat his slaves kindly, and to have due consideration for their health
and comfort--that he must be a very short-sighted being not to realize
this. What man would under-feed, ill-treat, or poorly care for a horse
that he expected to serve him, in return, promptly and well? We have
only to consider the subject in this light for a moment, to see how
impossible it is that a system of despotism, severity and cruelty, would
be exercised by a Cuban master towards his slaves. Let no ingenious
person distort these remarks into a pro-slavery argument. God forbid!


[47] The name _tobacco_ is said to have been that of the pipe used by
the native Indians to inhale the smoke with, consisting of a small tube,
with two branches intended to enter the nostrils.

[48] This highly-flavored and excellent fruit is so abundant in Cuba
that the best sell in the market at a cent apiece.

[49] "You never can cast your eyes on this tree, but you meet there
either blossoms or fruit."--_Nieuhoff._

[50] It is remarkable that the palm tree, which grows so lofty, has not
a root as big as a finger of the human hand. Its roots are small,
thread-like, and almost innumerable.

[51] "I believe the lash is seldom applied; I have never seen it, nor
have I seen occasion for it."--_Rev. Abiel Abbot's Letters._


    Pecuniary value of the slave-trade to Havana--The slave
    clippers--First introduction of slaves into Cuba--Monopoly of the
    traffic by England--Spain's disregard of treaty
    stipulations--Spanish perfidy--Present condition of Spain--Her
    decadence--Influence upon her American possessions--Slaves upon the
    plantations--The soil of Cuba--Mineral wealth of the island--The
    present condition of the people--The influences of American
    progress--What Cuba might be.

Like Liverpool and Boston, in their early days, Havana has drawn an
immense wealth from the slave-trade; it has been the great commercial
item in the business for the capital year after year, and the fitting
out of ventures, the manning of vessels, and other branches of trade
connected therewith, have been the sources of uncounted profit to those
concerned. The vessels employed in this business were built with an eye
to the utmost speed. Even before the notion of clipper ships was
conceived, these crafts were built on the clipper model, more generally
known as Baltimore clippers. Over these sharp hulls was spread a
quantity of canvas that might have served as an outfit for a
seventy-four. The consummate art displayed in their construction was
really curious, and they were utterly unfit for any legitimate
commerce. Nor are these vessels by any means yet extinct. They hover
about the island here and there at this very hour; now lying securely in
some sheltered bay on the south side, and now seeking a rendezvous at
the neighboring Isle of Pines. The trade still employs many crafts. They
mount guns, have a magazine in accordance with their tonnage, with false
decks that can be shipped and unshipped at will.

It is well known that the Americans can produce the fastest vessels in
the world; and speed is the grand desideratum with the slaver,
consequently Americans are employed to build the fleet crafts that sail
for the coast of Africa. The American builder must of course know the
purpose for which he constructs these clippers; and, indeed, the writer
is satisfied, from personal observation, that these vessels are built on
speculation, and sent to Cuba to be sold to the highest bidder. Of
course, being in a measure contraband, they bring large prices, and the
temptation is strong to construct them, rather than to engage in the
more regular models. This reference to the subject as connected with the
commerce of the island, leads us to look back to the history of the
pernicious traffic in human beings, from its earliest commencement in
Cuba, and to trace its beginning, progress and main features.

It has been generally supposed that Las Casas first suggested the plan
of substituting African slave labor for that of the Indians in Cuba, he
having noticed that the natives, entirely unused to labor, sunk under
the hard tasks imposed upon them, while the robuster negroes thrived
under the same circumstances. But negro slavery did not originate with
Las Casas. Spain had been engaged in the slave trade for years, and long
prior to the discovery of America by Columbus; and Zuñiga tells us that
they abounded in Seville. Consequently Spanish emigrants from the old
world brought their slaves with them to Cuba, and the transportation of
negro slaves, born in slavery among Christians, was sanctioned expressly
by royal ordinances. Ferdinand sent over fifty slaves to labor in the
royal mines: Las Casas pleaded for the further employment of negroes,
and consequent extension of the slave trade. "But covetousness," says
Bancroft, "and not a mistaken benevolence, established the slave trade,
which had nearly received its development before the charity of Las
Casas was heard in defence of the Indians. Reason, policy and religion
alike condemned the traffic."

Cardinal Ximenes, the grand inquisitor of Spain, protested against the
introduction of negroes in Hispaniola, foreseeing the dangers incident
to their increase; and three centuries later the successful revolt of
the slaves of Hayti, the first place in America which received African
slaves, justified his intelligent predictions and forebodings. England
embarked largely in the slave trade, and Queen Elizabeth shared in the
guilty profits of the traffic. In the year 1713, when, after a period of
rest, the slave trade was resumed, the English purchased of Spain a
monopoly of the trade with the Spanish colonies, and she carried it on
with great vigor and pecuniary success, until she had completely stocked
these islands with blacks. In the year 1763 their number was estimated
at sixty thousand. This fact will enable us to appreciate as it deserves
the extreme modesty of the British government in fomenting abolition
schemes in the island of Cuba, after contributing so largely to the
creation of an evil which appears almost irremediable. We say a
realizing sense of the circumstances of the case will enable us rightly
to appreciate the character of the British government's philanthropy. We
applaud England for her efforts at the suppression of the slave
trade,--a traffic which all the powers of Christendom, Spain excepted,
have united to crush,--but we cannot patiently contemplate her efforts
to interfere with the internal economy of other countries, when she
herself, as in the case of the Spanish colonies and of the United
States, has so weighty a share of responsibility in the condition of
things as they now exist; to say nothing of the social condition of her
own subjects, which so imperatively demands that her charity should
begin at home.

We have said that Spain alone, of the great powers, has not done her
part in the suppression of the slave trade.[52] She is solemnly pledged
by treaty stipulations, to make unceasing war against it, and yet she
tacitly connives at its continuance, and all the world knows that slaves
are monthly, almost weekly, landed in Cuba. Notorious is it that the
captains-general have regularly pocketed a fee of one doubloon or more
for every slave landed, and that this has been a prolific source of
wealth to them. The exceptions to this have been few, and the evidences
are indisputable. Within a league of the capital are several large
barracoons, as they are called, where the newly-imported slaves are
kept, and offered for sale in numbers. The very fact that these
establishments exist so near to Havana, is a circumstance from which
each one may draw his own inference. No one can travel in Cuba without
meeting on the various plantations groups of the newly-imported
Africans. Valdez, who strenuously enforced the treaty obligations
relative to the trade, without regard to private interest, was traduced
by the Spaniards, and by their management fell into disfavor with his
government at home. O'Donnell deluged the island with slaves during his
administration, and filled his coffers with the fees accruing therefrom.
Since his time the business has gone on,--to be sure less openly, and
under necessary restrictions, but nevertheless with great pecuniary

At the same time the Spanish authorities have, while thus increasing the
numbers of savage Africans reduced to a state of slavery, constantly
endeavored to weaken the bonds of attachment between master and slave,
and to ferment the unnatural hatred of races with the fearful design of
preparing another St. Domingo for the Cubans, should they dare to strike
a strenuous blow for freedom.

We have thus seen that the Spanish crown is directly responsible for the
introduction of slavery into Cuba, and that crown officers, invested
with more than vice-regal authority, have sanctioned, up to this day,
the accumulation and the aggravation of the evil. It is now clearly
evident that the slave-trade will continue so long as the island of Cuba
remains under the Spanish flag. The British government have remonstrated
again and again with Spain, against this long-continued infraction of
treaties; but the dogged obstinacy of the Spanish character has been
proof against remonstrance and menace. She merits the loss of Cuba for
her persistent treachery and perfidy, leaving out of the account a long
list of foul wrongs practised upon the colony, the enormous burthen of
taxes placed upon it, and the unequalled rigor of its rule. The time has
come when the progress of civilization demands that the island shall
pass into the hands of some power possessed of the ability and the will
to crush out this remnant of barbarism. That power is clearly designated
by the hand of Providence. No European nation can dream of obtaining
Cuba; no administration in this country could stand up for one moment
against the overwhelming indignation of the people, should it be weak
enough to acquiesce in the transfer of Cuba to any European power. The
island must be Spanish or American. Had it been the property of a
first-rate power, of any other European sovereignty but Spain, it would
long since have been a cause of war. It is only the imbecile weakness of
Spain that has thus far protected her against the consequences of a
continuous course of perfidy, tyranny and outrage. But the impunity of
the feeble and the forbearance of the strong have their limits; and
nations, like individuals, are amenable to the laws of retributive

The present condition of Spain is a striking illustration of the
mutability of fortune, from which states, no more than individuals, are
exempted. We read of such changes in the destinies of ancient
empires,--the decadence of Egypt, the fall of Assyria, and Babylon, and
Byzantium, and Rome; but their glory and fall were both so far distant
in the recess of time, that their history seems, to all of us who have
not travelled and inspected the monuments which attest the truth of
these events, a sort of romance: whereas, in the case of Spain, we
realize its greatness, and behold its fall! One reason why we feel so
deep an interest in the fate of the Castilian power, is that the history
of Spain is so closely interwoven with that of our own country,--discovered
and colonized as it was under the auspices of the Spanish government. We
owe our very existence to Spain, and from the close of the fifteenth
century our histories have run on in parallel lines. But while America
has gone on increasing in the scale of destiny, in grandeur, power and
wealth, poor Spain has sunk in the scale of destiny, with a rapidity of
decadence no less astonishing than the speed of our own progress. The
discovery of America, as before alluded to, seemed to open to Spain a
boundless source of wealth and splendid power; triumphs awaited her arms
in both North and South America. Cortes in Mexico and Pizarro in Peru
added vast territory and millions of treasure to the national wealth.
But we have seen how sure is retribution. One by one those ill-gotten
possessions have escaped the grasp of the mother country; and now, in
her old age, poor, and enfeebled, and worn out, she clings, with the
death-gripe of a plundered and expiring miser, to her last earthly
possession in the New World.

Moved in some degree by the same spirit that actuates the home
government, the Cubans have heretofore viewed anything that looked like
an attempt at improvement with a suspicious eye; they have learned to
fear innovation; but this trait is yielding, as seen in the introduction
of railroads, telegraphs, and even the lighting of the city of Havana by
gas,--all done by Americans, who had first to contend with great
opposition, and to run imminent risks and lavish energy and money; but
when these things are once in the course of successful experiment, none
are more ready than the Cubans to approve. This same characteristic, a
clinging to the past and a fear of advancement, seems to have imparted
itself to the very scenery of the island, for everything here appears
to be of centuries in age, reminding one of the idea he has formed of
the hallowed East. The style of the buildings is not dissimilar to that
which is found throughout the Orient, and the trees and vegetable
products increase the resemblance. Particularly in approaching Havana
from the interior, the view of the city resembles almost precisely the
Scriptural picture of Jerusalem. The tall, majestic palms, with their
tufted tops, the graceful cocoanut tree, and many other peculiarities,
give to the scenery of Cuba an Eastern aspect, very impressive to the
stranger. It is impossible to describe to one who has not visited the
tropics, the bright vividness with which each object, artificial or
natural, house or tree, stands out in the clear liquid light, where
there is no haze nor smoke to interrupt the view. Indeed, it is
impossible to express fully how _everything_ differs in Cuba from our
own country, so near at hand. The language, the people, the climate, the
manners and customs, the architecture, the foliage, the flowers and
general products, all and each afford broad contrasts to what the
American has ever seen at home. But a long cannon-shot, as it were, off
our southern coast, yet once upon its soil, the visitor seems to have
been transported into another quarter of the globe, the first impression
being, as we have said, decidedly of an Oriental character. But little
effort of the imagination would be required to believe oneself in
distant Syria, or some remote part of Asia.

But let us recur for one moment to the subject of the slaves from which
we have unwittingly digressed. On the plantations the slaves have some
rude musical instruments, which they manufacture themselves, and which
emit a dull monotonous sound, to the cadence of which they sit by
moonlight and sing or chant, for hours together. One of these
instruments is a rude drum to the beating of which they perform
grotesque dances, with unwearying feet, really surprising the looker-on
by their power of endurance in sustaining themselves in vigorous
dancing. Generally, or as is often the case, a part of Saturday of each
week is granted to the slaves, when they may frequently be seen engaged
at ball, playing a curious game after their own fashion. This time of
holiday many prefer to pass in working upon their own allotted piece of
ground and in raising favorite vegetables and fruits, or corn for the
fattening of the pig hard by, and for which the drovers, who regularly
visit the plantations for the purpose, will pay them in good golden
doubloons. It is thought that the city slave has a less arduous task
than those in the country, for he is little exposed to the sun, and is
allowed many privileges, such for instance as attending church, and in
this the negroes seem to take particular delight, especially if well
dressed. A few gaudy ribbons, and nice glass beads of high color are
vastly prized by both sexes of the slaves in town and country. In the
cities some mistresses take pleasure in decking out their immediate male
and female attendants in fine style with gold ornaments in profusion.
There was one beautiful sight the writer particularly noticed in the
church of Santa Clara, viz: that before the altar all distinction was
dropped, and the negro knelt beside the Don.

The virgin soil of Cuba is so rich that a touch of the hoe prepares it
for the plant, or, as Douglass Jerrold says of Australia, "just tickle
her with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest." So fertile a soil is not
known to exist in any other portion of the globe. It sometimes produces
three crops to the year, and in ordinary seasons two may be relied
upon,--the consequence is that the Monteros have little more to do than
merely to gather the produce they daily carry to market, and which also
forms so large a portion of their own healthful and palatable food. The
profusion of its flora and the variety of its forests are unsurpassed,
while the multitude of its climbing shrubs gives a luxuriant richness to
its scenery, which contributes to make it one of the most fascinating
countries in the world. Nowhere are the necessities of life so easily
supplied, or man so delicately nurtured.

The richest soil of the island is the black, which is best adapted to
the purpose of the sugar-planter, and for this purpose it is usually
chosen. So productive is this description of land that the extensive
sugar plantations, once fairly started, will run for years, without the
soil being even turned, new cane starting up from the old roots, year
after year, with abundant crops. This is a singular fact to us who are
accustomed to see so much of artificial means expended upon the soil to
enable it to bear even an ordinary crop to the husbandman. The red soil
is less rich, and is better adapted to the planting of coffee, being
generally preferred for this purpose, while the mulatto-colored earth is
considered inferior, but still is very productive and is improved by the
Monteros for planting tobacco, being first prepared with a mixture of
the other two descriptions of soil which together form the richest
compost, next to guano, known in agriculture.

Coal is fortunately found on the island, of a bituminous nature; had
this not been the case, the numerous steam engines which are now at work
on the plantations would have soon consumed every vestige of wood on the
island, though by proper economy the planter can save much by burning
the refuse cane. The soil is also rich in mineral wealth, particularly
in copper, iron and loadstone. Gold and silver mines have been opened,
and in former times were worked extensively, but are now entirely
abandoned. The copper mines near Sagua la Grande in 1841 yielded about
four millions of dollars, but the exactions of the government were such
that they greatly reduced the yield of the ore. An export duty of five
per cent. was at first imposed upon the article: finally the exportation
was prohibited altogether, unless shipped to old Spain, with a view of
compelling the owners to smelt it in that country. These arbitrary
measures soon reduced the profit of the business, and the working of
the mines from producing in 1841 four millions, to about two by 1845,
and finally they were abandoned.

And now is it to be wondered at that the Creoles should groan under the
load of oppressions forced upon them as depicted in the foregoing pages?
No! On the contrary we feel that they are too forbearing, and look to
the enervating influence of their clime as an excuse for their
supineness under such gross wrongs. Their lovely climate and beautiful
land are made gloomy by the persecutions of their oppressors; their
exuberant soil groans with the burthens that are heaped upon it. They
are not safe from prying inquiry at bed or board, and their every action
is observed, their slightest words noted. They can sing no song not in
praise of royalty, and even to hum an air wedded to republican verse is
to provoke suspicion and perhaps arrest. The press is muzzled by the
iron hand of power, and speaks only in adulation of a distant queen and
a corrupt court. Foreign soldiers fatten upon the people, eating out
their substance, and every village near the coast of the island is a
garrison, every interior town is environed with bayonets!

A vast deal has been said about the impregnable harbor of Havana, the
"Gibraltar of America" being its common designation, but modern military
science acknowledges no place to be impregnable. A thousand chances
might happen which would give the place to an invading force; besides
which it has been already twice taken; and though it may be said that
on these occasions it was not nearly so well garrisoned as now, neither
so well armed or manned, the reply is also ready that it has never been
besieged by such a force as could now be brought against it, to say
nothing of the vast advantage afforded by the modern facilities for
destruction.[53] Were not the _inaccessible_ heights of Abraham scaled
in a night? and how easily the impregnable fortress of San Juan de Ulloa
fell! Havana could be attacked from the land side and easily taken by a
resolute enemy. With the exception of this one fortress, the Moro, and
the fort in its rear, the Cabensas, the island is very poorly defended,
and is accessible to an invading force in almost any direction, either
on the east, west, or south coast. Matanzas, but sixty miles from
Havana, could be taken by a small force from the land side, and serve as
a depot from whence to operate, should a systematic effort be organized.
Cuba's boasted strength is chimerical.

Steam and the telegraph are revolutionizing all business relations and
the course of trade. A line of steamers, one of the best in the world,
runs between New York and Havana, also New Orleans and Havana. By this
means all important intelligence reaches Cuba in advance of any other
source, and through this country. By the telegraph, Havana is brought
within three days' communication with New York and Boston. All
important advices must continue to reach the island through the United
States, and the people must still look to this country for political and
commercial information, and to the movement of our markets for the
regulation of their own trade and commerce. New Orleans has become the
great centre to which their interests will naturally tend; and thus we
see another strong tie of common interest established between the island
of Cuba and the United States.

Naturally belonging to this country by every rule that can be applied,
the writer believes that Cuba will ere long be politically ours. As the
wise and good rejoice in the extension of civilization, refinement, the
power of religion and high-toned morality, they will look forward
hopefully to such an event. Once a part of this great confederacy, Cuba
would immediately catch the national spirit and genius of our
institutions, and the old Castilian state of dormancy would give way to
Yankee enterprise, her length and breadth would be made to smile like a
New England landscape Her sons and daughters would be fully awakened to
a true sense of their own responsibility, intelligence would be sown
broadcast, and the wealth of wisdom would shine among the cottages of
the poor.

In the place of the rolling drum and piercing fife, would be heard the
clink of the hammer and the merry laugh of untrammelled spirits. The
bayonets that bristle now on every hill-side would give place to waving
corn, and bright fields of grain. The honest Montero would lay aside
his Toledo blade and pistol holsters, and the citizen who went abroad
after sunset would go unarmed. Modern churches, dedicated to pure
Christianity, would raise their lofty spires and point towards heaven
beside those ancient and time-eaten cathedrals. The barrack rooms and
guard stations, in every street, town or village, would be transformed
into school-houses, and the trade winds of the tropics would sweep over
a new Republic!



[52] English authorities,--Sir F. Buxton in the van,--declare that the
extent of the slave trade has but slightly diminished, while the
restrictions under which it is now carried on renders it more fatal than
ever to the blacks.

[53] "It is as well secured as it probably could be against an attack
from the harbor, but could still be assailed with effect in the same way
in which the French succeeded against Algiers, by landing a sufficient
force in the rear."--_Alexander H. Everett._


    Area of Cuba--Extent of cultivated and uncultivated
    lands--Population--Proportion between the sexes--Ratio of legitimate
    to illegitimate births--Ratio between births and
    deaths--Agricultural statistics--Commerce and commercial
    regulations--Custom-house and port charges--Exports and
    imports--Trade with the United States--Universities and
    schools--Education--Charitable institutions--Railroads--Temperature.

In addition to the statistical information incidentally contained in the
preceding pages, we have prepared the following tables and statements
from authentic sources, giving a general view of the resources,
population, wealth, products and commerce, etc., of the island, with
other items of interest and importance.

_Area of Cuba._--Humboldt states the area of the island to be 43,380
geographical square miles. Mr. Turnbull puts it at 31,468, and, adding
the areas of its dependencies, namely, the Isle of Pines, Turignano,
Romano, Guajaba, Coco, Cruz, Paredon Grande, Barril, De Puerto,
Eusenachos, Frances, Largo, and other smaller islands, makes the total
32,807 square miles.

      Years.                      Population.
      1775,                        170,370.
      1791,                        272,140.
      1817,                        551,998.
      1827,                        704,487, viz.:

    Whites, male,     168,653         Free colored, males,    51,962
       "    female,   142,398                "      females,  54,532
                     --------                                -------
                      311,051                                106,494

Slaves, 183,290 males, and 103,652 females, = 286,942. Total colored,
393,436. Excess of colored over white population, 82,305.

    Year 1841--
      Whites,                          418,291
      Free colored,                    152,838
      Slaves,                          436,495
        Total,                       1,007,624
      Excess of colored over white,    171,042

    Year 1851--
      Whites,                          605,560
      Free colored,                    205,570
      Slaves,                          442,000
        Total,                       1,253,130

    Year 1854--
      Total population,              1,500,000

_Proportions between the sexes._--In 1774 the white males formed 58 per
cent., and the females 42 per cent., of the population; free colored,
males, 52, females, 48; male slaves, 65, females, 35. Total, males, 58
per cent., females, 42.

    In 1792 the proportion was--
      Whites, males,                0.55
        "     females,              0.45
      Free colored, males,          0.47
          "         females,        0.53
      Slaves, males,                0.56
         "    females,              0.44
        Total, males,               0.53
          "    females,             0.47

    In 1817--
      Whites, males,                0.55
         "    females,              0.45
      Free colored, males,          0.52
          "         females,        0.48
      Slaves, males,                0.62
         "    females,              0.38
        Total, males,               0.57
          "    females,             0.43

    In 1827--
      Whites, males,                0.54
        "     females,              0.46
      Free colored, males,          0.48
          "         females,        0.52
      Slaves, males,                0.64

      Slaves, females,              0.36
        Total, males,               0.56
          "    females,             0.44

In Paris, the ratio is 54.5 per cent. males, to 45.5 females; in
England, 50.3 per cent. males, and 49.7 per cent. females, and in the
United States, 51 per cent. males, and 49 per cent. females.

The ratio of legitimate to illegitimate births, deduced from the
observations of five years, is as follows:

    2.1136 to 1 among the whites;
    0.5058 to 1 among the colored;
    1.0216 to 1 in the total.

That is to say, establishing the comparison per centum, as in the
proportion of the sexes, we have:

    Whites,   67.8 per cent. legitimate, and 32.2 per cent. illegitimate.
    Colored,  33.7    "          "        "  66.3    "          "
    Total,    50.5    "          "        "  49.5    "          "

No capital or people of Europe, Stockholm alone excepted, offers so
startling a result, nearly one half the number of births being

Taking the average from the statements of births for five years, we find
that in every 100 legitimate whites there are 51.1 males, and 48.9
females; and in an equal number of illegitimate, 49 males, and 51
females. Among people of color, in 100 legitimate births, 50.6 males,
and 49.4 females; and in the illegitimate, 47.2 males, and 52.8 females.
And finally, that, comparing the totals, we obtain in the legitimate,
51.6 males, and 48.4 females; and in the illegitimate, 47.1 males, and
52.9 females. Consequently these observations show that in Cuba, in the
illegitimate births, the number of males is much less than that of
females, and the contrary in the legitimate births.

    _Ratio between the Births and Deaths for five years._
    |            | 1825  | 1826  | 1827  | 1828  | 1829  |
    |            +-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
    | Births,    | 3,129 | 3,443 | 3,491 | 3,705 | 3,639 |
    | Deaths,    | 2,698 | 2,781 | 3,077 | 3,320 | 3,712 |
    | Difference,|   431 |   662 |   414 |   385 |    73 |

_Agriculture._--The total number of acres comprising the whole territory
is 14,993,024. Of these, in 1830, there were used:

    In sugar-cane plantations,               172,608
     " coffee trees,                         184,352
     " tobacco,                               54,448
     " lesser or garden and fruit culture,   823,424
        Total acres,                       1,234,832

Leaving over 13,000,000 of acres uncultivated. Some of these
uncultivated lands are appropriated to grazing, others to settlements
and towns; the remainder occupied by mountains, roads, coasts, rivers
and lakes,--the greater part, however, wild.

    Total value of lands in 1830,              $94,396,300
    Value of buildings, utensils, etc.,         55,603,850

The different products of cultivation were valued as follows:

    Sugar canes in the ground,                  $6,068,877
    Coffee trees,                               32,500,000
    Fruit trees, vegetables, etc.,              46,940,700
    Tobacco plants,                                340,620
      Total value of plants,                    85,850,197
    Total value of wood exported, consumed
      on the island and made into charcoal,     $3,818,493
    Minimum value of the forests,              190,624,000
    Value of 138,982 slaves, at $300 each,      41,694,600
    Total value of live stock,                  39,617,885


    Lands,                                     $94,396,300
    Plants, including timber,                  276,774,367
    Buildings, engines and utensils,            54,603,850
    Slaves,                                     41,694,600
    Animals,                                    39,617,885
    Representative value of capital invested,  317,264,832


    Sugar,              $8,132,609
    Molasses,              262,932
    Coffee,              4,325,292
    Cocoa,                  74,890
      Carried forward,  12,795,723

      Brought forward,                         $12,795,723
    Cotton,                                        125,000
    Leaf tobacco,                                  687,240
    Rice,                                          454,230
    Beans, peas, onions, etc.,                     257,260
    Indian corn,                                 4,853,418
    Vegetables and fruits,                      11,475,712
    Grapes,                                      5,586,616
    Casada,                                        146,144
    Charcoal,                                    2,107,300
    Woods or the products of woods,              1,741,195
    Total value of vegetable productions,       40,229,838
    Total value of animal productions,           9,023,116

    Total _net_ product of agricultural
      and rural industry                        22,808,622
    Capital invested, $338,917,705, produces,   48,839,928


_Import duties._--The rate of duty charged on the importation of foreign
produce and manufactures in foreign bottoms is 24-1/2 and 30-1/4 on the
tariff valuation of each article, while the same articles in Spanish
bottoms, from a foreign port, pay 17-1/2 and 21-1/4 per cent.

_Export duties._--Foreign flag for any port, 6-1/4 per cent. on tariff

Spanish flag for a foreign port, 4-1/2 per cent. on tariff valuation.

Spanish flag for Spanish port, 2-1/4 per cent. on tariff valuation;
except leaf tobacco, which pays 12-1/2, 6-1/4 and 2-1/4 per cent.,
according to the flag and destination.

An additional per centage, under various pretexts, is also levied on the
total amount of all duties.

Foreign flour is subject to a duty that is nearly prohibitory.

Gold and silver are free of import duty, but pay, the former 1-1/4 and
the latter 2-1/4 per cent., export.

Every master of a vessel, on entering port, is obliged to present two
manifests of his cargo and stores,--one to the boarding officers, and
the other at the time of making entry and taking both the oaths,
twenty-four hours after his arrival, with permission of making any
necessary corrections within the twelve working hours; and every
consignee is required to deliver a detailed invoice of each cargo to
his, her or their consignment, within forty-eight hours after the vessel
has entered port, and heavy penalties are incurred from mere omission or

The tonnage duty on foreign vessels is 12 rials, or $1.50, per register

On vessels arriving and departing in ballast or putting in in distress
no duty is levied.

Besides the tonnage duty, every foreign square-rigged vessel entering
and loading incurs about $85 expenses, besides $5.50 for each day
occupied in discharging. Foreign fore-and-aft vessels pay about $15 less
port charges.

The tonnage duties and port charges are very high. Foreign vessels pay
$8.50 per ton. In the port of Havana an additional duty of 21-7/8 cents
per ton is levied on all vessels for the support of the dredging

The wharf charges on foreign vessels are $1.50 for each 100 tons

The light-house duties, officers' fees, etc., vary at the different
ports of the island, but are exorbitantly high in all. At Baracoa, for
instance, the following is the tariff of exactions:

    Tonnage duty, per ton,                  $1.50
    Anchorage,                              12.00
    Free pass at the fort,                   3.00
    Health officer,                          8.00
    Interpreter,                             5.00
    Inspector's fee for sealing hatchway,    5.00
    Inspecting vessel's register,            8.00
    Clearance,                               8.00

The actual expenses of discharging a foreign vessel of 160-4/95 tons,
which remained a fortnight in the port of Havana, amounted to $900.


    Years.     Imports.       Exports.

     1826    $14,925,754    $13,809,838
     1827     17,352,854     14,286,192
     1828     19,534,922     13,114,362
     1829     18,695,856     13,952,405
     1830     16,171,562     15,870,968
     1831     15,548,791     12,918,711
     1832     15,198,465     13,595,017
     1834     18,511,132     13,996,100
     1835     18,563,300     14,487,955
     1836     20,722,072     14,059,246
     1837     22,551,969     15,398,245
     1838     22,940,357     20,346,407
     1839     24,729,878     20,471,102
     1840     25,217,796     21,481,848
     1841     24,700,189     25,941,783
     1842     24,637,527     26,684,701

During the last year (1842), the imports from the United States were,

    In Spanish vessels,                            $474,262
    In Foreign   do.,                            $5,725,959

Exports to the United States for the same year,

    In Spanish vessels,                            $243,683
    In Foreign   do.,                            $5,038,891

    Total imports from the United States,        $6,200,219
      "   exports to            do.,             $5,282,574

    Total number of arrivals in Spanish ports (1842),  2657
           "        clearances from do.,               2727

The following table exhibits the exports from the principal towns in

                                          _North Side of the Island._

                                   Havana.  Matanzas.  Cardenas.  Sagua la

    Sugar (boxes)                  671,440    318,931    13,900    34,628
    Coffee (arrobas, 25lbs. each)   93,797     61,251     1,094
    Molasses (hhds.)                25,886     61,793    60,508     8,327
    Rum (pipes)                     10,479                              1
    Cigars (thousands)             136,980                             62

                           Mariel.  Gibaro.  Remedios.  Neuvitas.  Baracoa.
    Sugar (boxes)                     1,648      5,595      4,293
    Coffee (arrobas)                 16,241                            114
    Molasses (hhds.)         8,336   16,201      1,880      5,030
    Rum (pipes)                                               223
    Cigars (boxes, 1000 each)           588         88      2,061      247
    Tobacco (lbs.)                1,867,736                 2,267  102,168

                                          _South Side._

                     Manzanilla.  Trinidad.  St. Jago  Cienfuegos.  Santa
                                             de Cuba.                Cruz.
    Sugar (boxes)           115    69,656      31,298     59,215      198
    Coffee (arrobas)                3,609     548,432        128
    Molasses (hhds.)      1,475    26,175         857     14,160      997
    Rum (pipes)                        60         554        379      181
    Tobacco (lbs.)      315,570             1,208,536      5,000    2,669
    Cigars (thousands)      542       399       4,575         41      155
    Copper ore (lbs.)                         571,826

_Universities, Schools, etc._--Besides the Royal University at Havana,
there are several other learned institutes, such as the Royal Seminary
of San Carlos y San Ambrosio, founded in 1773; a seminary for girls,
founded in 1691; a free school for sculpture and painting, which dates
from 1818; a free mercantile school, and some private seminaries, to
which we have before referred. The Royal Economical Society of Havana,
formerly called the Patriotic Society, was established in 1793, and is
divided into three principal sections, on education, agriculture,
commerce and popular industry; a department of history has been added.
Several eminent and talented men have given eclat to this institution.

The Medical School was organized in 1842.

The means of general education are very narrow and inadequate. No report
on the state of education in the island has been published since 1836.
At that time, there were two hundred and ten schools for white, and
thirty-one for colored children. In 1842, the public funds for
educational purposes were reduced from thirty-two thousand to eight
thousand dollars. Nueva Filipina, in a rich tobacco-growing district,
with a population of thirty thousand souls, had but one school for forty
pupils, a few years since.

_Charitable Institutions, Hospitals, etc._--There are several charitable
institutions in Havana, with ample funds and well managed. Such are the
Casa Real de Beneficencia, the Hospital of San Lazaro and the Foundling
Hospital,--Casa Real de Maternidad. In other parts of the island, there
are eighteen hospitals, located in its chief towns.

_Railroads._--The first railroad built in Cuba was that from Havana to
Guines, forty-five miles in length, completed and opened in 1839. In
1848, there were two hundred and eighty-five miles of railroads on the
island, and the capital invested in them has been computed at between
five and six millions of dollars.

_Climate._--The diversity of surface gives rise to considerable
variation in temperature. On the highest mountain ridges, at four
thousand feet above the level of the sea, ice is sometimes formed in mid
winter, but snow is unknown.

The mean temperature of the hottest months (July and August) is about
83° Fahrenheit. The coldest months are January and December.


    Retrospective thoughts--The bright side and dark side of the
    picture--Cuban institutions contrasted with our own--Political
    sentiments of the Creoles--War footing--Loyalty of the
    colony--Native men of genius--The Cubans not willing slaves--Our own
    revolution--Apostles of rebellion--Moral of the Lopez
    expedition--Jealousy of Spain--Honorable position of our
    government--Spanish aggressions on our flag--Purchase of the
    island--Distinguished conservative opinion--The end.

It is with infinite reluctance that the temporary sojourner in Cuba
leaves her delicious shores, and takes his farewell look at their
enchanting features. A brief residence in the island passes like a
midsummer night's dream, and it requires a strenuous effort of the mind
to arrive at the conviction that the memories one brings away with him
are not delusive sports of the imagination. Smiling skies and smiling
waters, groves of palm and orange, the bloom of the heliotrope, the
jessamine, and the rose, flights of strange and gaudy birds, tropic
nights at once luxurious and calm, clouds of fire-flies floating like
unsphered stars on the night breeze, graceful figures of dark-eyed
señoritas in diaphanous drapery, picturesque groups of Monteros,
relieved by the dusky faces and stalwart forms of the sons of Africa,
undulating volantes, military pageants, ecclesiastical processions,
frowning fortresses, grim batteries, white sails, fountains raining
silver,--all these images mingle together in brilliant and kaleidoscopic
combinations, changing and varying as the mind's eye seeks to fix their
features. Long after his departure from the enchanting island the
traveller beholds these visions in the still watches of the night, and
again he listens to the dash of the sea-green waves at the foot of the
Moro and the Punta, the roll of the drum and the crash of arms upon the
ramparts, and the thrilling strains of music from the military band in
the Plaza de Armas. The vexations incident to all travel, and meted out
in no stinted measure to the visitor at Cuba, are amply repaid by the
spectacles it presents.

          "----It is a goodly sight to see
    What Heaven hath done for this delicious land!
    What fruits of fragrance blush on every tree!
    What goodly prospects o'er the hills expand!"

If it were possible to contemplate only the beauties that nature has so
prodigally lavished on this Eden of the Gulf, shutting out all that man
has done and is still doing to mar the blessings of Heaven, then a visit
to or residence in Cuba would present a succession of unalloyed
pleasures equal to a poet's dream. But it is impossible, even if it
would be desirable, to exclude the dark side of the picture. The
American traveller, particularly, keenly alive to the social and
political aspects of life, appreciates in full force the evils that
challenge his observation at every step, and in every view which he may
take. If he contrast the natural scenery with the familiar pictures of
home, he cannot help also contrasting the political condition of the
people with that of his own country. The existence, almost under the
shadow of the flag of the freest institutions the earth ever knew, of a
government as purely despotic as that of the autocrat of all the
Russias, is a monstrous fact that startles the most indifferent
observer. It must be seen to be realized. To go hence to Cuba is not
merely passing over a few degrees of latitude in a few days' sail,--it
is a step from the nineteenth century back into the dark ages. In the
clime of sun and endless summer, we are in the land of starless
political darkness. Lying under the lee of a land where every man is a
sovereign, is a realm where the lives, liberties, and fortunes of all
are held at the tenure of the will of a single individual, and whence
not a single murmur of complaint can reach the ear of the nominal ruler
more than a thousand leagues away in another hemisphere. In close
proximity to a country where the taxes, self-imposed, are so light as to
be almost unfelt, is one where each free family pays nearly four hundred
dollars per annum for the support of a system of bigoted tyranny,
yielding in the aggregate an annual revenue of twenty-five millions of
dollars for which they receive no equivalent,--no representation, no
utterance, for pen and tongue are alike proscribed,--no honor, no
office, no emolument; while their industry is crippled, their
intercourse with other nations hampered in every way, their bread
literally snatched from their lips, the freedom of education denied, and
every generous, liberal aspiration of the human soul stifled in its
birth. And this in the nineteenth century, and in North America.

Such are the contrasts, broad and striking, and such the reflections
forced upon the mind of the citizen of the United States in Cuba. Do
they never occur to the minds of the Creoles? We are told that they are
willing slaves. Spain tells us so, and she extols to the world with
complacent mendacity the loyalty of her "_siempre fielissima isla de
Cuba_." But why does she have a soldier under arms for every four white
adults? We were about to say, white male citizens, but there are no
citizens in Cuba. A proportionate military force in this country would
give us a standing army of more than a million bayonets, with an annual
expenditure, reckoning each soldier to cost only two hundred dollars per
annum, of more than two hundred millions of dollars. And this is the
peace establishment of Spain in Cuba--for England and France and the
United States are all her allies, and she has no longer to fear the
roving buccaneers of the Gulf who once made her tremble in her island
fastness. For whom then is this enormous warlike preparation? Certainly
for no external enemy,--there is none. The question answers itself,--it
is for her very loyal subjects, the people of Cuba, that the queen of
Spain makes all this warlike show.

It is impossible to conceive of any degree of loyalty that would be
proof against the unparalleled burthens and atrocious system by which
the mother country has ever loaded and weighed down her western
colonists. They must be either more or less than men if they still
cherish attachment to a foreign throne under such circumstances. But the
fact simply is, the Creoles of Cuba are neither angels nor brutes; they
are, it is true, a long-suffering and somewhat indolent people, lacking
in a great degree the stern qualities of the Anglo-Saxon and the
Anglo-Norman races, but nevertheless intelligent, if wanting culture,
and not without those noble aspirations for independence and freedom,
destitute of which they would cease to be men, justly forfeiting all
claim to our sympathy and consideration. During the brief intervals in
which a liberal spirit was manifested towards the colony by the home
government, the Cubans gave proof of talent and energy, which, had they
been permitted to attain their full development, would have given them a
highly honorable name and distinguished character. When the field for
genius was comparatively clear, Cuba produced more than one statesman
and man of science, who would have done honor to a more favored land.

But these cheering rays of light were soon extinguished, and the
fluctuating policy of Spain settled down into the rayless and brutal
despotism which has become its normal condition, and a double darkness
closed upon the political and intellectual prospects of Cuba. But the
people are not, and have not been the supine and idle victims of
tyranny which Spain depicts them. The reader, who has indulgently
followed us thus far, will remember the several times they have
attempted, manacled as they are, to free their limbs from the chains
that bind them. It is insulting and idle to say that they might have
been free if they had earnestly desired and made the effort for freedom.
Who can say what would have been the result of our own struggle for
independence, if Great Britain, at the outset, had been as well prepared
for resistance as Spain has always been in Cuba? Who can say how long
and painful would have been the struggle, if one of the most powerful
military nations of Europe had not listened to our despairing appeal,
and thrown the weight of her gold and her arms into the scale against
our great enemy? When we see how--as we do clearly--in a single night
the well-contrived schemes of an adroit and unprincipled knave enslaved
a brilliant and warlike people, like the French, who had more than once
tasted the fruits of republican glory and liberty, who had borne their
free flag in triumph over more than half of Europe, we can understand
why the Cubans, overawed from the very outset, by the presence of a
force vastly greater in proportion than that which enslaved France, have
been unable to achieve their deliverance. Nay, more--when we consider
the system pursued by the government of the island, the impossibility of
forming assemblages, and of concerting action, the presence of troops
and spies everywhere, the compulsory silence of the press--the
violation of the sanctity of correspondence, the presence of a slave
population, we can only wonder that any effort has been made, any step
taken in that fatal pathway of revolution which leads infallibly to the

If Cuba lies at present under the armed heel of despotism we may be sure
that the anguish of her sons is keenly aggravated by their perfect
understanding of our own liberal institutions, and an earnest, if
fruitless desire to participate in their enjoyment. It is beyond the
power of the Spanish government to keep the people of the island in a
state of complete darkness, as it seems to desire to do. The young men
of Cuba educated at our colleges and schools, the visitors from the
United States, and American merchants established on the island, are all
so many apostles of republicanism, and propagandists of treason and
rebellion. Nor can the captains-general with all their vigilance,
exclude what they are pleased to call incendiary newspapers and
documents from pretty extensive circulation among the "ever faithful."
That liberal ideas and hatred of Spanish despotism are widely
entertained among the Cubans is a fact no one who has passed a brief
period among them can truthfully deny. The writer of these pages avers,
from his personal knowledge, that they await only the means and the
opportunity to rise in rebellion against Spain. We are too far distant
to see more than the light smoke, but those who have trodden the soil of
Cuba have sounded the depths of the volcano. The history of the
unfortunate Lopez expedition proves nothing contrary to this. The force
under Lopez afforded too weak a nucleus, was too hastily thrown upon the
island, too ill prepared, and too untimely attacked, to enable the
native patriots to rally round its standard, and thus to second the
efforts of the invaders. With no ammunition nor arms to spare, recruits
would have only added to the embarrassment of the adventurers. Yet had
Lopez been joined by the brave but unfortunate Crittenden, with what
arms and ammunition he possessed, had he gained some fastness where he
could have been disciplining his command, until further aid arrived, the
adventure might have had a very different termination from what we have
recorded in an early chapter of this book.

Disastrous as was the result of the Lopez expedition, it nevertheless
proved two important facts: first, the bravery of the Cubans, a small
company of whom drove the enemy at the point of the bayonet; and,
secondly, the inefficiency of Spanish troops when opposed by resolute
men. If a large force of picked Spanish troops were decimated and routed
in two actions, by a handful of ill-armed and undisciplined men, taken
by surprise, we are justified in believing that if an effective force of
ten thousand men, comprising the several arms, of cavalry, artillery,
and infantry, had been thrown into the island, they would have carried
all before them. With such a body of men to rally upon, the Cubans would
have risen in the departments of the island, and her best transatlantic
jewel would have been torn from the diadem of Spain.

That the Spanish government lives in constant dread of a renewal of the
efforts on the part of Americans and exiled Cubans to aid the
disaffected people of the island in throwing off its odious yoke, is a
notorious fact, and there are evidences in the conduct of its officials
towards those of this government that it regards the latter as secretly
favoring such illegal action. Yet the steps taken by our government to
crush any such attempts have been decided enough to satisfy any but a
jealous and unreasonable power. President Fillmore, in his memorable
proclamation, said, "Such expeditions can only be regarded as adventures
for plunder and robbery," and declaring Americans who engaged in them
outlaws, informed them that "they would forfeit their claim to the
protection of this government, or any interference in their behalf, no
matter to what extremity they might be reduced in consequence of their
illegal conduct." In accordance with this declaration, the brave
Crittenden and his men were allowed to be shot at Atares, though they
were not taken with arms in their hands, had abandoned the expedition,
and were seeking to escape from the island.

In a similar spirit the present chief magistrate alluded to our
relations with Spain in his inaugural address, in the following explicit

"Indeed it is not to be disguised that our attitude as a nation, and our
position on the globe, render the acquisition of certain possessions,
not within our jurisdiction, eminently important, if not, in the future,
essential for the preservation of the rights of commerce and the peace
of the world. Should they be obtained, it will be through no grasping
spirit, but with a view to obvious national interest and security, and
in a manner entirely consistent with the strictest observance of
national faith."

A recent proclamation, emanating from the same source, and warning our
citizens of the consequences of engaging in an invasion of the island,
also attests the determination to maintain the integrity of our
relations with an allied power.

No candid student of the history of our relations with Spain can fail to
be impressed by the frank and honorable attitude of our government, or
to contrast its acts with those of the Spanish officials of Cuba. A
history of the commercial intercourse of our citizens with the island
would be a history of petty and also serious annoyances and grievances
to which they have been subjected for a series of years by the Spanish
officials, increasing in magnitude as the latter have witnessed the
forbearance and magnanimity of our government. Not an American merchant
or captain, who has had dealings with Cuba, but could furnish his list
of insults and outrages, some in the shape of illegal extortions and
delays, others merely gratuitous ebullitions of spite and malice
dictated by a hatred of our country and its citizens. Of late instances
of outrage so flagrant have occurred, that the executive has felt bound
to call the attention of Congress to them in a message, in which he
points out the great evil which lies at the bottom, and also the remedy.

"The offending party," he says, "is at our doors with large power for
aggression, but none, it is alleged, for reparation. The source of
redress is in another hemisphere; and the answers to our just
complaints, made to the home government, are but the repetition of
excuses rendered by inferior officials to the superiors, in reply to the
representations of misconduct. In giving extraordinary power to them,
she owes it to justice, and to her friendly relations to this
government, to guard with great vigilance against the exorbitant
exercise of these powers, and in case of injuries to provide for prompt

It is very clear that if, in such cases as the seizure of a vessel and
her cargo by the port officers at Havana, for an alleged violation of
revenue laws, or even port usages, redress, in case of official
misconduct, can only be had by reference to the home government in
another part of the world, our trade with Cuba will be completely
paralyzed. The delay and difficulty in obtaining such redress has
already, in too many cases, prompted extortion on the one hand, and
acquiescence to injustice on the other. The experience of the last four
years alone will fully sustain the truth of this assertion.

In 1851 two American vessels were seized off Yucatan by the Spanish
authorities on suspicion of being engaged in the Lopez expedition; in
the same year the steamship Falcon was wantonly fired upon by a Spanish
government vessel; in 1852 the American mail bags were forcibly opened
and their contents examined by order of the captain-general; and less
than two years ago, as is well known, the Crescent City was not allowed
to land her passengers and mails, simply because the purser, Smith, was
obnoxious to the government of the island. The Black Warrior, fired into
on one voyage, was seized lately for a violation of a custom house
form--an affair not yet, it is believed, settled with the Spanish
government. More than once, on specious pretexts, have American sailors
been taken from American vessels and thrown into Spanish prisons. In
short, the insults offered by Spanish officials to our flag have so
multiplied of late that the popular indignation in the country has
reached an alarming height.

It is difficult for a republic and a despotism, situated like the United
States and Cuba, to live on neighborly terms; and to control the
indignation of the citizens of the former, proud and high spirited,
conscious of giving no offence, and yet subjected to repeated insults,
is a task almost too great for the most adroit and pacific
administration. When we add to this feeling among our people a
consciousness that Cuba, the source of all this trouble, is in unwilling
vassalage to Spain, and longing for annexation to the United States,
that under our flag the prosperity of her people would be secured, a
vast addition made to our commercial resources, an invaluable safeguard
given to our southern frontier, and the key to the Mississippi and the
great west made secure forever, we can no longer wonder at the spread of
the conviction that Cuba should belong to this country, and this too as
soon as can be honorably brought about. Had she possessed more foresight
and less pride, Spain would have long since sold the island to the
United States, and thereby have relieved herself of a weighty care and a
most dangerous property.

"So far from being really injured by the loss of the island," says Hon.
Edward Everett, in his able and well known letter to the British
minister rejecting the proposition for the tripartite convention, "there
is no doubt that, were it peacefully transferred to the United States, a
prosperous commerce between Cuba and Spain, resulting from ancient
associations and common language and tastes, would be far more
productive than the best contrived system of colonial taxation. Such,
notoriously, has been the result to Great Britain of the establishment
of the independence of the United States."

If it be true that the American minister at Madrid has been authorized
to offer a price nothing short of a royal ransom for the island, we
cannot conceive that the greedy queen, and even the Cortes of Spain,
would reject it, unless secretly influenced by the powers which had the
effrontery to propose for our acceptance the tripartite treaty, by which
we were expected to renounce forever all pretension to the possession
of Cuba. It is difficult to believe that France and England could for a
moment seriously suppose that such a ridiculous proposition would be for
one moment entertained by this government, and yet they must so have
deceived themselves, or otherwise they would not have made the
proposition as they did.

Of the importance, not to say necessity, of the possession of Cuba by
the United States, statesmen of all parties are agreed; and they are by
no means in advance of the popular sentiment; indeed, the class who urge
its immediate acquisition, at any cost, by any means, not as a source of
wealth, but as a political necessity, is by no means inconsiderable. It
would be foreign to our purpose to quote the opinions of any ultraists,
nor do we design, in these closing remarks, to enter the field of
politics, or political discussion. We have endeavored to state facts
only, and to state them plainly, deducing the most incontrovertible

We find the following remarks in a recent conservative speech of Mr.
Latham, a member of Congress, from California. They present, with
emphasis, some of the points we have lightly touched upon:

"I admit that our relations with Spain, growing out of that island
(Cuba), are of an extremely delicate nature; that the fate of that
island, its misgovernment, its proximity to our shores, and the
particular institutions established upon it, are of vast importance to
the peace and security of this country; and that the utmost vigilance in
regard to it is not only demanded by prudence, but an act of imperative
duty on the part of our government. The island of Cuba commands, in a
measure, the Gulf of Mexico. In case of a maritime war, in which the
United States may be engaged, its possession by the enemy might become a
source of infinite annoyance to us, crippling our shipping, threatening
the great emporium of our southern commerce, and exposing our whole
southern coast, from the capes of Florida to the mouth of the Rio
Grande, to the enemy's cruisers. The geographical position of Cuba is
such that we cannot, without a total disregard to our own safety, permit
it to pass into the hands of any first-class power; nay, that it would
be extremely imprudent to allow it to pass even into the hands of a
power of the second rank, possessed of energy and capacity for

If Cuba come into our possession peaceably, as the fruits of a fair
bargain, or as a free-will offering of her sons, after a successful
revolution, we can predict for her a future as bright as her past has
been desolate and gloomy; for the union of a territory with a foreign
population to our confederacy is no new and doubtful experiment.
Louisiana, with her French and Spanish Creoles, is one of the most
reliable states of the Union; and, not long after her admission, she
signed, with her best blood, the pledge of fealty to the common country.

More recently, we all remember how, when Taylor, in the presence of the
foe upon the Rio Grande, called for volunteers, the gallant Creoles
rushed to arms, and crowded to his banner. The Creoles of Cuba are of
the same blood and lineage,--Spaniards in chivalry of soul, without the
ferocity and fanaticism of the descendants of the Cid. We are sure, from
what they have shown in the past, that liberal institutions will develop
latent qualities which need only free air for their expansion. They will
not want companions, friends and helpers. A tide of emigration from the
States will pour into the island, the waste lands will be reclaimed, and
their hidden wealth disclosed; a new system of agricultural economy will
be introduced; the woods of the island will furnish material for
splendid ships; towns and villages will rise with magical celerity, and
the whole surface of the "garden of the world" will blossom like the

"Rich in soil, salubrious in climate, varied in productions, the home of
commerce," says the Hon. O.R. Singleton, of Mississippi, "Cuba seems to
have been formed to become 'the very button on Fortune's cap.' Washed by
the Gulf-stream on half her borders, with the Mississippi pouring out
its rich treasures on one side, and the Amazon, destined to become a
'cornucopia,' on the other,--with the ports of Havana and Matanzas on
the north, and the Isle of Pines and St. Jago de Cuba on the south,
Nature has written upon her, in legible characters, a destiny far above
that of a subjugated province of a rotten European dynasty. Her home is
in the bosom of the North American confederacy. Like a lost Pleiad, she
may wander on for a few months or years in lawless, chaotic confusion;
but, ultimately, the laws of nature and of nations will vindicate
themselves, and she will assume her true social and political condition,
despite the diplomacy of statesmen, the trickery of knaves, or the
frowns of tyrants. Cuba will be free. The spirit is abroad among her
people; and, although they dare not give utterance to their thoughts,
lest some treacherous breeze should bear them to a tyrant's ears, still
they think and feel, and will act when the proper time shall arrive. The
few who have dared 'to do or die' have fallen, and their blood still
marks the spot where they fell. Such has been the case in all great
revolutionary struggles. Those who lead the van must expect a sharp
encounter before they break through the serried hosts of tyranny, and
many a good man falls upon the threshold of the temple.

    "'But freedom's battle once begun,
    Bequeathed from bleeding sire to son,
    Though baffled oft, is always won.'"

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    designs by W. Croome. 8vo., cloth, $3.00; library style, $3.50.

    complete Library of Family Information; embracing Literature,
    Science, Art, Agriculture, Manufactures, Commerce, Natural History,
    Biography, Travels, Improvements, Inventions, Discoveries,
    Settlements, Mythology, Botany, Geology, &c. By W.R. MURRAY, F.R.S.
    Illustrated with 350 engravings. One volume, 8vo. Bound in cloth,
    $3.00; library style, $4.50; embossed morocco, $4.50.

    MERRICK. 8vo., cloth, Price $1.50.

    "Altogether the most important and trustworthy work relating to
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    of Oriental manners.' To the theologian it is invaluable, while to
    the general reader it is as interesting as an Oriental romance,
    being in the form of a narrative, with frequent flashes of
    magnificent poetry. The account of the birth of Mohammed,
    especially, is exquisitely beautiful."--_E.P. Whipple._

    _NAVAL MONUMENT._ Containing official and other Accounts of the
    Battles fought by the Navy of the United States. With 25 engravings.
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    To which are prefixed a Preliminary Discourse and Dissertation on
    the Aera and Poems of Ossian. 12mo., elegantly illustrated. Bound in
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*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of Cuba; or, Notes of a Traveller in the Tropics - Being a Political, Historical, and Statistical Account of - the Island, from its First Discovery to the Present Time" ***

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