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was not published in Havana by his successor, as the law required, might illustrate the point. “Men were sometimes taken suddenly from the midst of their families, where they lived in fancied security,' (I quote the · Notes on Cuba,')' were shown the indisputable proofs of their guilt, and at once exiled from the island, as inimical to its government.' What manner of procedure is this, by which Tacon was enabled to obtain proofs of guilt, and to sentence the accused without his knowledge ? That such a panegyric, in itself revolting, should be volunteered by an American writer, is the only apology for such acts on the part of those who had not, like himself, enjoyed the advantages of a free country. So intent was he on exalting the moral reformer, as he is pleased to term him, that he mentions Tacon's macadamizing the streets of Havana, and candidly avows that the side walks were buried by the structure, so that, he adds, it is no wonder the ladies are not inclined to walk.'
It is amusing, to those acquainted with the habits and customs of Cuba, to read of wonders in the country which no one except the honest doctor has had the good fortune to discover. Young ladies visiting burying-grounds to enjoy the sight of a funeral, as a matter of amusement; Indian agents, monteros, riding with muskets, or taking their sweethearts before them on the same saddle; a sacristan, or sexton, becoming a prominent character through his knowledge of the law, in a village where no law business is transacted ; a country officer of justice chanting the church service at his wife's funeral; a marquis winning and exacting a dollar from his own slave at a cock-fight; another young lady riding sixty miles on horseback, in a day, to dance all the evening; the stare of women, whose total freedom from prudery did not prevent them from throwing a furtive glance at our Esculapius, who might be sadly and undignifiedly confounded with the barber-surgeon practitioners' of the land ; the celebrated and favorite olla podrida,' a dish so rare and exquisite, and of which Spain may well boast, freely served in the lunatic asylum of Havana ; and one of the patients of this institution handing a petition to our learned traveller, which the latter, from his knowledge of the Spanish, (of which we have abundant speci. mens in his book,) is pleased to commend for its pure Castilian. Happily though, in his wanderings through the island, (which by the way, we may observe, was made to widen for his comfort,) he was not very difficult to please : he was tossed about in rather a shabby accoutrement, as we may judge from the horses which dragged him along; and he actually began to relish the dinners in the country shops, or what he styles Spanish condiments. Rather than do violence to the customs of the land, he gaily joined in a drink of water with a porter; and probably from the same motive, accepted and did honor to the delicate morsels furnished by an unknown Creole, a fellow-passenger on the rail-road to Guines, who, an accident having detained the cars, generously provi. ded him and others with an abundant luncheon. It is therefore singular that the author hould be the first to observe, that the Creole was not only economical, but parsimonious to an uncommon degree.
The Irishman,' he says, ' will empty his purse when the Creole will hesitate to spend a medio,
When among country inn-keepers of the lower class of Catalonians, and their associates, and the captains of the partido, who according to his own account do not wash till noon, hearing himself called a Jew, (which, even as a practical joke, is no sign of goodbreeding,) and ani. mated by practical jokes, it is no wonder that our writer should have formed strange notions, and acquired a very imperfect knowledge of many important facts. He is made to understand that Guines has been increased by the construction of the rail-road, and that foreigners are looked upon with envy.
He mistakes some of the above described class for the lofty Castilian Hidalgo, a true specimen of whom he probably never met; and the unmeaning look of ignorance for an expression of contempt of the Creoles. The ward of Puebla Nuevo, in the city of Mantanzas, which has been stationary for many years, he cites as an instance of rapid advancement. He is made to believe in the existence of a young men's debating society, where subjects are discussed which in old Spain would not be named. The ludicrous kings of the negro tribes, who preside at their dances, he imagines to be engaged in directing their moral habits. He gives a glowing account of the products of a coffee and of a sugarplantation ; asserting that in common times the profits of the molasses produced on the latter would cover its current expenses. Unacquainted with the frauds committed in the reports manufactured for private purposes, and with the carelessness with which the statistics of the coun. try are taken, by reason of the indolence or incapacity of the agents, he wonders at the marvellous results in the reports of mortality on the estates, and which are almost sufficient to make one wish himself a slave.
In fact there seems to lurk about the author of the Notes' a decided partiality for slavery, an evil which, in our age, is lamented even by those whose interest and safety require them to uphold it. He describes the slave as gay and happy ; enumerates the laws in his favor, acknow. ledging at the same time that they are not enforced ; attributes this mismanagement to the planters, whom he knows exert no influence in public enactments ; and states that baptism and burial is all the negro receives in the way of moral and religious government; still maintaining that his condition is better than that of the European peasant and the manufacturing and mining class of England.
The author of the • Notes on Cuba,' whose opinion appears vacillating, tells you that the slave-trade is a source of wealth to the island as it formerly was to Liverpool and Boston ; that only two thousand blacks are imported annually, and that the whole country is in favor of its continua. tion. As the author in these particulars seems to have blindly adopted the slave-dealers' cant, it may not be amiss to show the gross delusion under which he labored. That Cuba has acquired her vast agricul. tural importance by means of imported negroes, is an undeniable fact. That by following another course she would have attained her present extensive though precarious production, remains to be proved. To insist however, at this late period, that her wealth is increased by the traffic, is more than absurd ; it is absolutely false. It is well known that her real estate is, and had been for some time before the • Notes on Cuba'
were written, fast declining in price, notwithstanding his report of its high value. It is also well known that the continuation of the slave. trade has a direct tendency to jeopardize every kind of property, and to depreciate more especially the value of slaves in the island.' It is moreover a most pernicious calumny to assert that the country is in favor of its continuation, and is as little to be relied on as his statement of the number of the imported, which he greaily underrates. Neither are the rich and enlightened planters, who see the fabric of their fortunes tottering before them, desirous of sustaining it, howsoever the voice of public opinion may be assumed to be in favor of the selfish views of the few. An estate which eight years ago might be sold for $100,000 would not at this day command $25,000. A negro who could then have been pur. chased for $500, is at the present time to be had for $300. What then can be the sentiment of an intelligent community, had they the means of expressing it, (which the author of the · Notes' grants they have not) other than in opposition to an economical and political error fraught with incessant danger ? The Cuban planter is aware that while a stream of barbarians continually rushes in and mingles with their more civilized brethren, the work of civilization must be much obstructed, and that a restless race will ever be ready to second the machinations of wily plotters. The increase of the race by marriage is not feasible, and the warfare of the abolitionists will be most perseveringly prosecuted. They will not be deluded by the pretended humanity of the trade, such as we find on page 263 and others. The conviction of this truth has driven the more enlightened class from the markets, and lessened the price of a commodity, unfortunately so abundantly profitable, that it can bear great depression in price. The pretence that the slave-trade betters the condition of the bondmen, by rescuing them from the hands of cruel African masters, who enslave their conquered enemies, is an argu. ment which our author was taught by slave-dealers, and is too barefaced to receive countenance from reflecting men, even in Cuba. If there were no purchasers and no demand, the object of making prisoners of war among a barbarous people would be removed. Nay, the wars them. selves, without their tempting and profitable pecuniary results, would cease, and the missionary be enabled to proclaim the gospel in the wilds of Africa.
Had the learned physician consulted the more respectable class of inhabitants, whom he certainly would not meet where practical jokes are allowed, and who, long before his excursion to the island, had presented petitions to government, together with statements of the perilous crisis which awaited the country, he never would have ventured the following singular prophecy : Cuba has now nothing to fear from her slaves, whatever influence her increasing free-colored population may hereafter exercise on her safety.' He would not have been forced to add an appendix, even before the publication of his work, wherein his superficial view of the most serious matters is clearly exhibited. So unlucky was he, that he presumed to foretell that the free blacks would in any movement join the whites. And it is reasonable to suppose that while he wrote, the machinations of the free-colored of all shades, which have since come to light, were actually in progress. Had he drank at
purer fountains, we should, nevertheless, have been amused at his blunders, among which, his discovery of two represented classes is not the least — a veritable enigma. As yet I have been able to find no one that can say who is represented in the land.
The town of Cardenas has been denied direct commerce with foreign or even Spanish European ports. The production of sugar and the maintenance of all classes, so dependant on imports for most articles, were made to bear the additional expenses of a forced coasting shipment, because the administration considered it both expensive and favorable to contraband. The author of the Notes on Cuba, though confessing at times the absolute nullity of the inhabitants as to all public measures, boldly asserts, in relation to removing the burdens imposed on the Cardenas trade, that the merchants of Havana and Matanzas, who now export all its produce, have as yet had influence to defeat every movement for that object.' It was in order to do away the alleged objections to this arrangement that the population of Cardenas built the custom-house, not as an evidence of their readiness to pay its dues, as our author would have it. The convenience of the bay, the distances to other towns, the vision of the drunken Irishman charging the insurgents, and in fact all the information he obtained in the neighborhood of Car. denas, may be classed among the numberless fancies of his book. He erroneously estimates the duty on sales of real estate, called Alcabala, at $4,000,000, and perhaps inconsiderately, and certainly with injustice, stigmatizes all the predecessors of General Valdez, by asserting, without an exception, that it was usual for Captain-Generals to receive a doubloon for every negro landed in Cuba. On the other hand he draws an uncouth picture of the police, as much at variance with itself as with truth. When in a flattering mood he represents it as so active and excellent, that if it had any system, or were any thing else than a per. petual miracle, and could be described, he would surely propose its adoption in the United States.
Let the work speak for itself: • A country store had been broken open, and two or three men had been eased of their purses on the public road. The whole partido was aroused like a hive of bees against which a mischievous urchin had thrown a stone. The hitherto quiet inhabitants went about armed to the teeth, and there was great danger of their killing each other through mistake. The captain of the par. tido meanwhile was not idle. Visiting every dwelling in his jurisdiction, he compelled those who could not give a good account of them. selves, and had not domiciliary passports, to quit the partido. Others on whom suspicion rested he sent as prisoners to Matanzas, there to prove their innocence; a mode of administering justice quite in vogue here, but which would depopulate many a section in other countries; and I would add, that must have perfectly satisfied those robbed in the highway.
• These petty judges,' he adds, with great truth, "are with very few exceptions from Spain, a Creole being scarcely ever intrusted with the office, and being without salaries, like so many vultures they prey upon the unprotected within their jurisdiction.'
Is it credible that it is of the same country we read elsewhere in his work:
• Intoxication is very rare; the dormant passions are not aroused by it, and the laws are enforced. With all the corruption of the bench in Cuba, the murderer very seldom escapes from punishment; and so well is justice administered, in certain cases, that that foul excrescence on civilization, and most deliberate defier of the laws of God, the duellist, receives no mercy, and the crime is now unknown on the island.'
Make a law to expel every person who cannot give a good account of himself, on the commission of a crime ; name vultures for police agents; place corrupt judges on the bench, and you are sure to be free from excrescence, i. e. murder and duelling !
Even in the appendix, written after the recent insurrection, which would never have extended so far had the island not been ruled with. out the concurrence of the land-holders, the author of the “Notes' seeing that his prophecies had wholly failed, still adheres to the dark banner under which he had enlisted, and still seeks the means of palliating what has and can have no excuse among civilized nations. In extenua. tion of the acts committed in Cuba during the judicial proceedings, he cites the punishments inflicted by the English in Dublin half a century ago, and adds, that if greater excesses were committed in the Antile, it was because they could be committed with greater impunity. Whatever horrors it has been the fate of the latter to witness, let not the abolitionist ascribe them to slavery. Our author will answer them: • Abandoned to the caprice of the sub-commissions that visited the playtations, the whole population, afraid to utter one word against their acts, in despair saw their property sacrificed, and were compelled to witness the most revolting scenes of cruelty.'
I omit a tedious examination of the judicial investigations of the insurrectionary movements, under the military law most oddly interpreted. Nor would I much blame the chief who was at the head of the administration. In the absence of all freedom of opinion, without legal access on the part of the people to their rulers, however enlightened they may be, they must exercise their unlimited power in matters utterly misapprehended by them, under the influence of a party, a party which occupies all the avenues to their authority, which covers its selfish and evil course with the plausible pretext of loyalty, and takes good care to persuade the metropolitan government that all who do not sustain that party is seeking the independence of the country. Is it to be expected that a soldier, unacquainted with the abundant resources and prosperity of the island before her public institutions had been undermined, and her free inhabitants reduced almost to a level with her slaves, should favor whatever had the appearance of nationality or loyalty ? To the violent and powerful slave-trade party must therefore be ascribed, in a great measure, the errors and excesses committed in the investigation of the negro plots. Let this fruitful source of future danger, like all the other evils which threaten Cuba, be attributed to that sordid class who, regardless of the welfare of the country, are wholly intent upon the acquisition of wealth.
As if to aid their unrestrained tyranny, the author of the · Notes on Cuba' asserts, that in 1842 a few liberal-minded Creoles in Havana were exiled, under a pretence that they had formed an abolition society