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Cthnmt di 





&c. &c. &c. 






R, R. MADDEN, M. D. 







BY R. R. M. 






Slave-Trade Merchant 7 

The Sugar Estate . . 19 

The life of the Negro Poet 45 

The Poems of the negro Poet 70 

Ode to Death 79 

Ode to Calumny 80 

Ode to Religion 81 

Thirty Years . ... ... 84 

The Cucuya ; or Fire-Fly 85 

The Clock that gains 87 

The Dream . 88 

A Specimen of In-edited Cuban Poetry .... 92 


Questions addressed to Senor of Havana, by 

R. R. Madden 117 

Questions respecting the State of Religion in Cuba, 

addressed to Senor of the Havana, by 

R. R. Madden ... 125 

Necessity of Separating the Irish in America from 

the sin" of Slavery 135 

Bartholomew Las Casas ...... 150 

Evils of the Cuban Slave-Trade ..... 156 

Condition of Slaves in Cuba ..... 161 

Laws for the Protection of Slaves in Cuba . . . 170 

Emancipation of Slaves in Cuba .... 181 

Glossary ... .... 184 


28, line 12, for "ralambrossa's," read valambrosa's. 

40, „ 9, for " brings" read bring. 

48, 13, for " drains," read drain. 
115, „ 1, for " take of," read take off. 
129, „ 27, for " 300 dollars," read from 300 fo 3000 dollars. 
132, „ 19, for u does it allow," read does it follow after. 

146, „ 14 of note, for "for its divines and the decrees of ts councils, read (tictnn 

and decrees of councils. 
150, „ 1, for " conquestadors" read conquistadors. 
150, „ 3, for " Quintano," read Quintuna. 
153, „ 10, for " a atros," read a otrvs. 


A Collection of Poems written by a slave recently liberated in 
the Island of Cuba, was presented to me in the year 1838, by 
a gentleman at Havana, a Creole, highly distinguished, not 
only in Cuba, but in Spain, for his literary attainments. Some 
of these pieces had fortunately found their way to the Havana, 
and attracted the attention of the literary people there, while 
the poor author was in slavery in the neighbourhood of 
Matanzas. The gentleman to whom I have alluded, with the 
assistance of a few friends, of pursuits similar to his own — (for 
literature, even at the Havana, has its humanizing influence,) 
redeemed this poor fellow from slavery, and enabled him to 
publish such of his Poems, as were of a publishable kind in a 
country like Cuba, where slavery is under the especial pro- 
tection, and knowledge under the ban of the censors of the 

A few of those pieces which were unpublished or unpublish- 
able in Cuba, I have endeavoured to put into English verse ; 
and to the best of my ability, have tried to render, so as to give 

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tho sense of tlio writer (sometimes purposely obscured in the 
original) as plainly as the spirit of the latter, and the circum- 
stances under which these pieces were written, would admit of. 
I am sensible I have not done justice to these Poems, but I trust 
1 have done enough to vindicate in some degree the character of 
negro intellect, at least the attempt affords me an opportunity 
of recording my conviction, that the blessings of education and 
good government are only wanting to make the natives of 
Africa, intellectually and morally, equal to the people of any 
nation on the .surface of the globe. 

To form any just opinion of the merit of these pieces, it is 
necessary to consider tho circumstances under which they were 
written, and how are these circumstances to be estimated by 
one ignorant of the nature of Cuban slavery ? I had at first 
thought it would have been necessary to have prefixed some 
notice both of the trade in slaves, and the system of slavery in 
that island, but I found it impossible in any reasonable limits 
to effect this object, and the very abundance of my materials 
was an obstacle to the undertaking, or rather induced me 
to reserve these materials without abridgment for other pur- 
poses of higher interest, more likely to benefit the cause I am 
desirous to promote. I determined, therefore, to give a short 
but faithful sketch of the Cuban slave-trade merchant and 
planter in verse, and the presumption of the attempt is suffi- 



ciently obvious to myself to render any apology available in a 
literary point of view. As portraits, however rudely sketched, 
of the characters I have attempted to describe, the vivid 
impression which the originals have made on my mind, were 
too strong to leave these pictures without a resemblance, which 
an abler artist might have better, though not perhaps more 
faithfully delineated. Montgomery, and Hanna Moore have 
given us the character of the slave-trade captains of former 
times, and Cowper has admirably described the general horrors 
of slavery itself. But though the brigands of this trade, and 
the evils of this system in other colonies have been frequently 
depicted, I am not aware that the wealthy merchants in such 
high repute in the Havana who carry on this trade ; and the 
polished cavaliers, and hospitable Creoles, who are the planters 
of this island, have been pourtrayed except by travellers, who 
have judged of their humanity by the courteousness of their 
manners, and the amenities of slavery, by their deportment at 
the social board. 

The author of the Poems I have attempted to translate, is 
now living at the Havana, and gains his livelihood by hiring 
himself out as an occasional servant. His name, for obvious 
reasons, I think it advisable not to publish, but to leave no 
doubt of the authenticity of these Poems, I have deposited the 

b 2 


originals in the Spanish language in the hands of the secretary 
of the " British and Foreign Anti-slavery Society." 

He is now in his forty-second year. He was born in Cuba. 
His lather and mother lived and died in slavery in Cuba. The 
former was a " pardo" negro ; the latter, the offspring of an 
African and a mulatto union. He was about thirty-eight 
years of age when he obtained his liberty. The price paid for 
it was 800 dollars. He obtained employment as a tailor for 
some time after he got his freedom, subsequently, he went out 
to service — then tried the business of a house-painter, and was 
not successful — was advised to set up as a confectioner, and lost 
all his money in that line, and eventually, has settled down as 
a " chef de cuisine' 1 in occasional service. The gentleman 
who was mainly instrumental in obtaining his liberation from 
slavery, induced him to write his history. This task he accom- 
plished in a manner alike creditable to his talents and his 
integrity. It was written in two parts — the second part fell 
into the hands of persons connected with his former master, 
and I fear it is not likely to be restored to the person to whom 
I am indebted for the first portion of this manuscript. As far, 
however, as this portion goes, I have no hesitation in saying, it 
is the most perfect picture of Cuban slavery that ever has been 
given to the world, and so full and faithful in its details, that it 


is difficult to imagine, that the portion which has been sup- 
pressed, can throw any greater light on the evils of this system, 
than the first part has done. I have given a literal translation 
of it, and that translation, revised by a Spaniard, will be found 
at the end of these poems. To prevent the inconvenience of 
frequent references to nctes for the meaning of Spanish terms, 
in common use in relation to slavery and slave-trade topics, I 
have given a glossary of such words as most frequently 
occur in conversation, or in books on these subjects. 

As to the merit of the Poems, the opinion I have expressed 
is shared by a very distinguished Spanish scholar, and the 
author of them was introduced to me by him in the following 
terms : — " Mi querido Amigo esta carta se la entregara a v, 
el poeta J. F. M. de quien liable a v, y cuyos versos y exelente 
ingenio han llamada la atencion, aun en esta pais de todas las 
personas despreocupadas y buenas. 11 




" Come let us lie in wait for blood, let us lay snares for the innocent without cause. Let us 
swallow him up alive like hell, as one that goeth down to the pit. We shall fill our 
houses with spoils. Cast in thy lot with us, and let us all have one purse." — Prov. i. 




Behold, yon placid, plodding, staid old man, 
His still and solemn features closely scan ! 
In his calm look how wisdom's light is shed, 
How the grey hairs, become his honoured head ! 
Mark how the merchants bow, as he goes by, 
How men on 'Change, at his approach draw nigh, 
44 Highly respected," and esteemed ; 'tis said, 
His fame to Afric's farthest shore is spread ! 
Behold, his house ! — if marble speak elsewhere, 
44 Sermons in stones" are with a vengeance here, 
Whate'er the potent will of wealth can do 
Or pride can wish, is offered to your view. 
Those gay saloons, this banquet hall's array, 
This glaring pile in all its pomp survey, 
The grandeur strikes — one must not look for taste — 
What's gorgeous, cannot always be quite chaste. 


Behold, his heart ! it is not all that's fair 

And smooth without, that's staunch and sound elsewhere. 

E'en in the calmest breast, the lust of gold 

May have its firmest seat and fastest hold, 

May fix its fatal canker in the core, 

Reach every feeling, taint it more and more ; 

Nor leave one spot of soundness where it falls, 

Nor spark of pity where its lust enthralls. 

Behold, his conscience ! oh, what deep repose, 

It slumbers on in one long deadly doze : 

Why do you wonder that it thus does sleep ; 

That crime should prosper, or that guilt so deep, 

So long unfelt should seem unscathed, in fine, 

Should know no shame, and fear no law divine. 

Is there a curse like that which shrines offence, 
Which hardens crime and sears the moral sense, 
And leaves the culprit in his guilt unshamed, 
And takes him hence unchanged and unreclaimed. 
Behold, the peace that's owned by him who feels 
He does no wrong, or outrage when he deals 
In human flesh ; or yet supplies the gold 
To stir the strife, whose victims you behold. 

The Cuban merchant prosecutes his trade 
Without a qualm, or a reproach being made ; 


Sits at his desk, and with composure sends 

A formal order to his Gold-coast friends 

For some five hundred " bultos" of effects. 

And bids them ship " the goods" as he direct-. 

That human cargo, to its full amount, 

Is duly bought and shipped on his account ; 

Stowed to the best advantage in the hold, 

And limb to limb in chains, as you behold ; 

On every breast, the well-known brand, J. G. 

In letters bold, engraved on flesh you see. 

The slaves by times are in their fetters used 

To dance and sing, and forcibly amused, 

To make the negroes merry when they pine, 

Or seem to brood o'er some concealed design. 

And when the voyage to its close draws near, 

No pains are spared to make the slaves appear 

In fit condition for the market stall ; 

Their limbs are greased, their heads are shaved,. and all 

These naked wretches, wasted as they are, 

And marked with many a recent wound and scar, 

Are landed boldly on the coast, and soon 

Are penned, like cattle, in the barricone. 

Tricked out for sale and huddled in a mass, 

Exposed to ev'ry broker who may pass, 

Rudely examined, roused with the " courbash," 

And walked, and run, and startled with the lash, 

Or ranged in line are sold by parcel there ; 

Spectres of men ! the pictures of despair. 


Their owner comes, " the royal merchant" deigns 
To view his chattels, and to count his gains. 
To him, what boots it, how these slaves were made, 
What wrongs the poor have suffered by his trade. 
To him, what boots it, if the sale is good, 
How many perished in the fray of blood ! 
How many peaceful hamlets were attacked, 
And poor defenceless villages were sacked ! 
How many wretched beings in each town 
Maimed at the onslaught, or in flight cut down ! 
How many infants from the breast were torn, 
And frenzied mothers dragged away forlorn ! 
To him, what boots it, how the ship is crammed ; 
How many hundreds in the hold are jammed ! 
How small the space ! what piteous cries below ! 
What frightful tumult in that den of woe ! 
Or how the hatches when the gale comes on, 
Are battened down, and evVy hope seems gone ; 
What struggling hands in vain arc lifted there, 
Or how the lips are parched that move in prayer, 
Or mutter imprecations wild and dread, 
On all around, the dying and the dead : 
What cares the merchant for that crowded hold, 
The voyage pays, if half the slaves are sold ! 

What does it matter to that proud senor, 
How many sick have sunk to rise no more ; 


How many children in the waving throng, 

Crushed in the crowd, or trampled by the strong ! 

What boots it, in that dungeon of despair, 

How many beings gasp and pant for air ! 

How many creatures draw infected breath, 

And drag out life, aye, in the midst of death ! 

Yet to look down, my God, one instant there, 

The shrieks and groans of that live mass to hear ; 

To breathe that horrid atmosphere, and dwell 

But for one moment in that human hell ! 

It matters little, if he sell the sound, 

I low many sick, that might not sell, were drowned ; 

How many wretched creatures pined away, 

Or wasted bodies made their " plash" per day I 

TheyVe only negroes : — true, they count not here, 
Perhaps, their cries and groans may count elsewhere. 
And one on high may say for these and all, 
A price was paid, and it redeemed from thrall. 
If the proud " merchants who are princes' 1 here, 
Believe his word, or his commandments fear, 
How can they dare to advocate this trade, 
Or call the sacred scriptures to its aid. 
How can they have the boldness to lay claim, 
And boast their title to the christian name ; 
Or yet pretend to walk in reason's light, 
And wage eternal war with human right. 



The pen does all the business of the sword, 

On Congo's shore, the Cuban merchant's word 

Serves to send forth a thousand brigands bold, 

" To make a prey," and fill another hold ; 

To ravage distant nations at his ease, 

By written order, just as he may please : 

" Set snares and traps to catch 11 his fellow-men, 

And " lie in wait" to link their fetters, then, 

Send forth his agents to foment the strife 

Of hostile tribes — and when their feuds are rife, 

To waste a province to provide a prey, 

Yet dare to make humanity his plea. 

Is there no sacred minister of peace 

To raise his voice, and bid these horrors cease I 

No holy priest in all this ruthless clime, 

To warn these men, or to denounce their crime ? 

No new Las Casas to be found once more, 

To leave his country for this blood-stained shore ; 

And tell the titled felon of his deeds, 

With all the freedom the occasion needs ? 

Alas ! no voice is raised in Cuba — save 

To plead for bondage, and revile the slave, 

Basely to pander to oppression's aim, 

And desecrate religion's sacred name. 

Yet in this moral Golgotha, where round 

The grave of mercy none but foes are found, 


Some lone and weary pilgrim may have come, 

And caused a voice to echo from this tomb. 

From him, perhaps, the proud oppressors e'en 

May hear the crimes, they still would strive to screen, 

And find a corner of the veil they cast 

O'er Cuban bondage has been raised — at last, 

And some, perhaps, at length aroused may think, 

With all their gold they stand on ruin's brink, 

And learn, at last, to ask of their own breasts, 

Why have they used their fellow-men like beasts ; 

Why should it be that each should thus " despise 

His brother' 1 man, and scoff " the stranger's cries V 

" Have they not all one Father who's above I 

Hath not one God created them in love \ 

Are they not all in God's own image made, 

Or were the words of life to be obeyed V 

Or held unworthy of the Lord on high, 

" He that shall steal and sell a man shall die f 

Perhaps, fanatics only in their zeal, 
May think that others, thus should speak or feel, 
And none but zealots dream, that negroes' rights 
Were God's own gifts, as well, as those of whites. 
Perhaps, the Cuban merchant too, may think 
In guilt's great chain, he's but the farthest link. 
Forsooth, he sees not all the ills take place, 
Nor goes in person to the human chase ; 


He does not hunt the negro down himself, 
Of course, he only furnishes the pelf. 
He does not watch the blazing huts beset, 
Nor slips the horde at rapine's yell, nor yet 
Selects the captives from the wretched band, 
Nor spears the aged with his own right hand. 
The orphan's cries, the wretched mother s groans, 
He does not hear ; nor sees the human bones 
Strewed o'er the desert bleaching in the sun, 
Memorials sad, of former murders done. 
He does not brand the captives for the mart, 
Nor stow the cargo — 'tis the captain's part ; 
To him the middle passage only seems 
A trip of pleasure that with profit teems ; 
Some sixty deaths or so, on board his ship, 
Are bagatelles in such a gainful trip ; 
Nay, fifty thousand dollars he can boast, 
The smallest cargo yields him from the coast. 

He need not leave his counting-house, 'tis true, 
Nor bid Havana and its joys adieu, 
To start the hunt on Afric's burning shore, 
And drench its soil with streams of human gore ; 
He need not part with friends and comrades here 
To sever nature's dearest ties elsewhere ; 
Nor risk the loss of friendship with the host 
Of foreign traders, when he sweeps the coast. 


But this most grave and " excellent Senor,'* 

Is cap in hand with the official corps, 

Receives the homage due to wealth that's gained, 

No matter how, or where it be obtained. 

His friends are too indulgent to proclaim 

What deeds are coupled with his wide-spread fame. 

7 Tis true, he merely purchases the prey, 

And kills by proxy only in the fray ; 

His agents simply snare the victims first, 

They make the war, and he defrays the cost. 

Such is the merchant in his trade of blood ; 
The Indian savage in his fiercest mood 
Is not more cruel, merciless in strife, 
Ruthless in war, and reckless of man's life ! 
To human suffering, sympathy, and shame, 
His heart is closed, and wealth is all his aim. 
Behold, him now in social circles shine, 
Polite and courteous, bland — almost benign, 
Calm as the grave, yet affable to all, 
His well-taught smile has nothing to appal ; 
It plays like sunbeams on a marble tomb, 
Or coldly glancing o'er the death-like gloom, 
Creeps o'er his features, as the crisping air, 
On Lake Asphaltes steals, and stagnates there. 


Serene as summer how the Enxine looks 
Before the gale its slumb'ring rage provokes. 
Who would imagine, while the calm is there, 
What deadly work its depths might still declare 
Or think, beneath such gently swelling waves 
Thousands of human beings find their graves, 
But who can ponder here, and reconcile 
The scowl of murder, with its merchant's smile I 

Behold, his friends ! observe the kindred traits, 
They must resemble, for one draught pourtrays 
The tribe of Cuban traders, linked in crime 
Of ev'ry grade in guilt, of every clime. 
Stealers of men, and shedders of man's gore ; 
The more they grasp, the rage for gain the more, 
Contagious guilt within their circle reigns, 
And all in contact with it shows its stains. 
Behold, the land ! regard its fertile fields, 
Look on the victims of the wealth it yields ;' 
Ask of these creatures how they came to be 
Dragged from their homes, and sold in slavery ? 
And when you hear " the cry" of men " go up." 
" Robbed of their hire," and made to drink the c 
Of grief, whose bitter anguish is above 
All human woe, the wretched can approve, 
Think on their wrongs, and venture to reply, 
" Shall not the land yet tremble" for this cry ! 


God of all light and truth, in mercy cause 
The men who rule these lands to fear thy laws. 
O'erthrow oppression, stalled in guilty state ; 
Raise the poor stranger, spoiled and desolate. 
Reprove the despot, and redeem the slave ; 
For help there^s none, but thine that here can save. 
Thou who can'st 44 loose the fettered in due time, 11 
Break down this bondage, yet forgive its crime ; 
Let truth and justice, fraught with mercy still, 
Prevail at last o'er every tyrant's will. 

R. R. M. 




" Happy the bonds that hold you, 
Sure they be sweeter far than liberty; 
There is no blessedness but In such bondage ; 
Happy ! thrice happy chains ! such links are heavenly." 





No more of rapine and its wasted plains, 

Its stolen victims and nnhallowed gains, 

Its Christian merchants, and the brigands bold 

Who wage their wars and do their work for gold. 

No more of horrors sick'ning to the heart, 

Commercial murders and the crowded mart ; 

The living cargoes and the constant trace 

Of pain and anguish in each shrunken face ! 

Far from the city and its tainted breath, 

Its moral plague and atmosphere of death ; 

The grave of freedom, honesty, and truth, 

The haunt of folly and its shoals for youth. 

Its empty churches and its crowded jails. 

Its grasping dealers and its human sales, 

Its gambling nobles and its spendthrift crowd, 

Profuse, rapacious, indolent, and proud. 


Far from the shade of its impending fate, 

The cry of vengeance or the curse of hate, 

From all the futile pleasures of the town, 

The proud Havana's infamous renown : 

Its fell pursuits, its routes and revels gay, 

Its ruthless deeds and never-failing play ; 

Its walks and gardens, and its " barracones," 

Its Tacon's glories and its " bozals M groans, 

Its invoiced negroes and its pleasures' lures, 

Its bills of lading and its light amours, 

Its daily press, its amatory strains, 

Its puling sonnets and its clanking chains. 

Far from the deadly influence whose sway 

Degrades the tyrant and the victim, — nay, 

Curdles the milk of human kindness, e'en 

In woman's breast, and crisps the smoothest mien. 

Far from those ladies, foreigners, and all 

Whose wretched negroes tremble at their call, 

Their morning strife, the evening calm of theirs, 

Their angry gestures and their gala airs, 

Their home-spent passions and their smiling lips, 

Their out-door meekness and their in-door whips, 

Their tender glances and their love-sick sighs, 

Their female scourgings and their household cries. 

Far from the foreign merchants who compete 
In style and gaudy splendour witli the great ; 


Who feast the ladies of the slave-trade clique, 
And give such charming soirees once a week ; 
Where shares and ventures in the odious trade, 
A common subject of discourse is made : 
Where dealers talk jocosely of their plans, 
And playful fair ones, tap them with their fans. 
And say they're naughty when they speak in sport. 
Of swearing certain captors out of court, 
Or when their mirth is in the highest mood. 
They jest of murder, and the joke seems good. 

Far from a spot where men of ev'ry clime, 

By easy stages led from crime to crime, 

Descend at last to guilt's extreme degree, 

And steep their hands in that of slavery. 

Where men are found to advocate its cause, 

And laugh to scorn their country's outraged laws : 

Where the unmasked Republican contends 

For slave-trade interests and their guilt defends ; 

Brawls about freedom, grasps its glaive and brand, 

And sides with bondage in a foreign land. 

Far from the agents who protect this trade, 
Who sell their s*als and signatures to aid 
Their Spanish friends, their slavers to ensure, 
Deceive the cruisers and their shares secure. 


Far from official dabblers in the mart. 
By small degrees grown ossified at heart, 
Who chop and change their slave or two at first, 
And soon would deal in hundreds if they durst ; 
And seem to think their pound of flesh is quite 
Their own, to keep or sell by legal right. 
Far from these planters, strangers, or Creoles, 
Friends of the traffic of congenial souls ; 
Nobles with titles at the market rates, 
Brokers in bills and bankrupts with estates ; 
Settlers from old Virginia and its farms ; 
Sharpers in exile, safe from bus's alarms. 

Far from the seat of government where he 
Who rules the land, but reigns where none are fre 
Goes thro 1 the solemn mockery of state, 
Prohibits crime and gravely tells Its fate, 
While the offender pays his half doubloon. 
For each " bozal," and calls the bribe a boon 
For public works, a voluntary gift, 
The worthy ruler can't refuse to lift. 
Tho' when the guilt is dragged before his eyes, 
His injured honour tk lifts its head and lies." 

Now for the country and the peaceful plains, 
Where rural pleasure and contentment reigns, 


Those happy plains where man's productive toil 

Finds sweet requital in a fertile soil ; 

Where healthful labour's cheerful aspect glows. 

And evening brings to nature sweet repose 

Where grateful peasants love their masters kind. 

And peace and plenty bless the simple mind. 

Oh f thou most lovely of the fair Antilles. 

How oft I've wished, to see thy verdant hills. 

Thy beauteous meads, thy woods with fragrance rife. 

Teeming at once with loveliness and life. 

Thy blooming gardens, those delightful glades. 

And far-famed vales, whose verdure never fades. 

Thy justly prized San Marco's smiling plain. 

And G nines* waving fields of ripening cane. 

How oft Tve said in weariness of mind. 
When shall I leave this heartless town behind t 
When shall my trammelled spirit walk abroad. 
And range those fields unknown to strife and fraud f 
When shall I look on nature's face serene. 
And feast my eyes, on one vast view of green. 
When shall I roam by Alniendares stream. 
Of Cuba's nyuipha and Naiades haply dream. 
By sweet Cohima's lovely banks, or those 
Of Grande* s river, stray at evening's close ! 
When shall I hear the songs of birds once more. 
And hail the time when harvest yields its store ? 


Behold the country ! all my hopes are crowned ! 

Here peace and joy are surely to be found ; 

Here nature riots in luxuriance wild, 

And smiles on earth, as on her wayward child, 

And loves to sport in ev'ry shape that's strange, 

And e'en uncouth, and here exults in change. 

The giant ceiba rears its bulk on high, 

The rustling cocoa here confronts the sky, 

The lofty cedar and caoba spread . 

Their noble branches o'er the torrents bed ; 

The light bamboo's umbrageous beauty vies 

With Valambros^a's shades in Cuban eyes, 

Citron and lime, and orange ever near, 

Cluster together, interweaving here 

Their leaves, and blending their congenial hues 

And fragrant odours, fresh with morning dews ! 

The straggling date, the waving palm behold, 

The shady mango and its fruit of gold. 

The broad-leafed plantain and the sheltered walk, 

The sweet banana and its crowded stalk, 

The choice anona and sapota rare, 

The gorgeous shaddock and the guava fair. 

But high o'er all the brave palmetto reigns. 

The royal palm — the pride of Cuban plains. 

Its swelling column with Ionian grace 

Soaring aloft and tap' ring from its base ; 


Where is the park, forsooth, can boast of trees 

To form a noble avenue like these ? 

The Theban temple and the solemn line 

Of granite sphynxes leading to its shrine, 

Like ghosts of former sights and scenes now rise, 

And seem as if, to flit before my eyes ; 

But here the noble avenue doth lead 

To no such sacred edifice indeed, 

The vista strikes — no sculptured walls surprise — 

A planter's house is all that meets one's eyes. 

The owner comes, a cavalier 'tis plain, 

In mien and manner, grave, austere, and vain ; 

A youthful noble — proud and passion swayed, 

And poor, perhaps — if all he owed was paid : 

His slender frame and haggard looks display, 

The graven signs of premature decay. 

Time, less than pleasure, may, perhaps, have done 

The work of havoc which these lines make known. 

And left this gay and thoughtless cavalier 

A wreck of man, ere age had yet drawn near. 

The solemn farce of Spanish etiquette. 
In town or country no one must forget ; 
The Conde comes, he halts at distance due. 
Draws himself up and takes his guest in view, 
Bow number one — advancing to the door, 
Bow number two — as formal as before, 



Bow number three — an effort at a smile, 

And greeting then in true Castillan style ; 

" Sir, you are welcome to my house and lands, 

Whate'er I own, is quite at your command, 

My whole estate at your disposal — lies" 

(And echo dwells upon that word and dies) 

" Regard these slaves, I pray, sir, as your own, 

No hesitation — compliment, there's none ; 

Fm highly flattered that you like this hall, 

You must accept it, furniture, and all. 

You find me here quite in a rustic way — 

I love the country — and can truly say 

I envy none — my time is wholly spent 

In making those poor negroes here, content. 

You see them yonder in that field of cane, 

They have no cause, believe me, to complain ; 

They want for nothing, have no wish on earth, 

Except for work — of which there's no great dearth, 

I only wish the poor, but, fared elsewhere, 

One-half so well, as all our slaves do here. 

Observe — the field is not so very far — 

How full of mirth and glee our negroes are ! 

How well they look ! how pleased to work ! you see 

What happy creatures even slaves can be ! 

We spare no pains indeed to make them so, 

It is, no doubt, our interest so to do, 

Besides, you know, humanity itself 

Has claims upon us, quite apart from pelf." 


The bell for dinner gave the Conde's tongue 

A respite here — but one that was not long ; 

His house, his style of living, and address 

Were all in keeping — showy to excess. 

His conversation answered to his board, 

Garnish of words and dishes in accord, 

Abundant sweetmeats, olios, and ragouts, 

Fricandeaus, fritters, harricots, and stews, 

Hock, soda-water, claret, and for guests, 

Who need instruction, and have grateful breasts, 

The standing topic strangers still must hear 

At every planter's table, and must bear 

With patience too, though one which smells of graves, 

The old proverbial happiness of slaves. 

'Tis not polite to contradict one's host, 
On most occasions, 'tis but labour lost, 
At times moreover, men's opinions here 
Are fashioned by their entertainer's cheer. 
The stomach has its influence we find, 
And sometimes its dominion o'er the mind. 
And, hence, we traveling gentlemen who dine 
With Cuban planters, judge them by their wine ; 
And if they're civil, courteous, and give feasts, 
We think their slaves are treated like their guests. 

One might have thought so in the present case, 
And after dinner, though not after grace — 



I failed not duly to assure my host, 

It gave me joy to hear a planter boast 

Of negroes so contented with their state, 

And so resigned to their unhappy fate. 

"'Tis highly pleasing, Senor Count, I said, 

To find that slaves are so well clothed and fed ; 

So lightly worked — so fond of labour too, 

So very grateful, Sir, for all you do, 

To make them happy, and improve their lot : 

And though, I must acknowledge, I am not 

A friend to bondage — here I must confess, 

By your account, it does not seem to press. 

But still, with great respect, it seems to me, 

A man might almost set his negroes free, 

Without extreme injustice to the slaves, 

Or very serious mischief to the knaves ; 

Though here, of course, they must be far too wise 

To wish to break so good a master's ties. 

No one, perhaps, replied the Count, can more 

The sad, but strong necessity deplore, 

Of buying men to cultivate our plains, 

And holding these, our fellow-men in chains. 

The very name of slavery, to me 

Is vile and odious to the last decree : 

I know it has some evils, few indeed, 

But still enough, perhaps for slander's need. 


Think not, I pray, I advocate this cause, 
Or speak of such a system with applause ; 
Sir ! in the abstract it must be condemned, 
It is the practice only I defend ; 
For " quo ad" morals, nothing can be worse, 
But " quo ad" sugar, 'tis the sole resource. 

I always thought on principle 'twas wrong 

To purchase negroes, when the gang was strong ; 

And prices are so ruinous of late, 

A man who buys must mortgage his estate. 

But while I own the system's not the best — 

I feel for Cuba and her sons opprest ; 

Her vital interests and the vested rights, 

In " bozal" negroes, — of the injured whites. 

I freely grant that treaties should be kept 

In certain cases, some I must except, 

Where there's " a sacred privilege" at stake, 

Or staple trade, — we cannot well forsake. 

But treaties are like protocols at par, 

Truces in love, or stratagems in war ; 

Compacts to drive thro', — in a coach and four, 

Suspended state hostilities on shore. 

But still, however, freely I object 

On such like scores, I mean no disrespect 


To your great nation? — nay, you need not smile, 

I only think your government is vile, 

And all its treaties pre-concerted feats, 

To please a set of hypocrites and cheats ! 

A pack of wretches envious of our gains, 

Who make such noise about our whips and chains : 

Fools and fanatics ! exaltados ! knaves ! 

Rogues who would rob poor planters of their slaves ! 

Fiends in disguise ! philanthropists who'd swear 

That black is white, to bring their ends to bear ; 

Villains who talk of savages possest 

Of human rights, by men like me opprest ! 

Of slaves entitled to redress for wrongs 

At hands like mine : — and dare to wag their tongues 

Against the sacred privilege and right 

Which ev'ry law accords the skin that's white ! 

Are they not preachers of sedition, nay, 

Do they not tamper with our slaves and say, 

The blacks should rise and cut their masters' throats 

Would they not put the question to their votes, 

In case they spared their owners' lives, how they 

Should work the whites, while they reposed all day I 

Scoundrels ! to think, that men like me were born 

To grind the cane, or meant to plant the corn. 

Yes, cried the Conde, as he wiped his brow, 
I always speak as I have spoken now, 



Coolly and calmly on a subject, so 

Extremely grave, and so important too. 

Fm sure you see the only wish I have, 

Is for the real welfare of the slave ; 

And must perceive the only dread I feel 

Is for the negro from fanatic zeal. 

You see how happy and content he seems, 

His bondage here — a paradise he deems, 

Compared with that from which he first was torn, 

And doubtless too, in which the wretch was born ; 

Having no claim to freedom from his birth, 

And none of course, in after life on earth, 

His rights are vested in his master's hands, 

And he devotes them to his fertile lands. 

You see his title to a master's care, 

To compensation for the wear and tear 

Of thews and sinews, while his strength remains 

He wants for nothing, and he sings in chains. 

Where wants are few, — no wages are required, 

Nor is that sort of stimulus desired, 

Crack but the whip, it stirs the dullest drones, 

It makes them lively and it breaks no bones. 

In short, take all things here into account, 

Youll find, believe me, sir, no small amount 

Of peace, of rural happiness, and bliss, 

On all estates administered like this. 



There may be some plantations, to be sure, 

Where slaves have some slight hardships to endure 

Where masters happen to abuse their power, 

Or agents' tempers, are perhaps, too sour, 

But this, of course, is very rare, you'll find, 

In fact, we're far too lenient and too kind. 

The humblest slave's protected by the laws, 

A syndick's chosen to defend his cause. 

But how the slave's to get from the estate 

To seek that syndick, and to pass the gate 

From which he knows full well he dare not budge. 

However near the house of the said judge. 

These, sir, are things the law has left in doubt, 

And has not very clearly pointed out ; 

'Tis quite sufficient that these laws are good, 

The framers of them, never understood 

The laws were made to be fulfilled, of course, 

But only meant to be supposed in force. 

Oh, Senor Conde," I exclaimed, " 'tis clear 
The master's will is law and justice here, 
His word is legal evidence,' his skin 
Presumptive proof of right that's sure to win. 
His wealth has all the influence direct 
Of truth itself and pleads with full effect. 
His code is one that supersedes all laws, 
Convicts the royal cedulas of flaws, 


And makes the mill-house bench the judgment seat, 

Where drivers lay their culprits at his feet. 

In all the scene there's nothing to recall 

Customs remembered only to appal ; 

Nought to remind one now of lictor's rods ; 

Of captives trembling at their master s nods. 

Of savage tortures or of legal crimes ; 

Of heathen habits or of pagan times. 

'Tis sweet to think we live in christian lands 

Where slaves are merely held by silken bands : 

And none make victims of their prisoners more 

For mere amusement, as they did of yore. 

We only take their lives, for lucre's sake ; 

We have no Roman holidays to make ; 

No circus toils and terrors to abash ; 

We but enliven labour with the lash. 

'Tis good to know your system works so well ; 
That slaves and planters in such friendship dwell, 
That negroes hug their chains devoid of fear, 
And owners use their power like angels here. 
'Tis well, I say, that things are thus with you, 
When all without, looks black and threatening too. 

I think, sir, said the Conde, you must be 
Wearied with so much riding, and I see 


You're not accustomed to these roads of ours ; 

Our icays, indeed, are not so smooth as yours, 

But still they serve for us, we make them do, 

We are not fond of anything that's new. 

You seem fatigued — you'll find your room prepared, 

I quite regret you have so badly fared ; 

But since I can't prevail on you to stay, 

And spend with us another lonely day. 

You may depend you shall be called at four, 

And find your horses saddled at the door ! 




Whoever spent a night on an estate 

In time of crop, and had endured of late 

Fatigue and toil, that amply might dispose 

A weary fra viler to enjoy repose, 

And roused at midnight, heard the frightful bell, 

The dismal conch's loud blast at change of spell, 

The crack of whips, the hurried tramp of men, 

The creaking mill, the drivers' threats, and then 

The sudden scream, the savage bloodhounds giowL 

The shout prolonged, the " stokers" ceaseless howl ; 

All the dread noise that's requisite to keep 

The jaded cattle and the slaves from sleep ; 

To rouse the weak, to drown the women's cries, 

And cause one deaf ning uproar to uprise. 

Whoever found this tumult at its height. 

This Cuban Babel's strife at dead of night ; 

Whoever listened to these horrid sounds. 

And might not deem, hell had enlarged her bounds, 

Made this plantation part of her domain, 

And giv'n its owner, slaves, and lust of gain. 

Loathing the couch itself, whereon I lay. 
With thankful breast 1 hailed the break of day. 


And breathed more freely when I reached the door ; 
'Twas joy to feel, I ne'er should enter more. 
The waning stars were yet in the grey sky, 
The morning dawn just peering forth on high, 
Yet all is bustle round the mill-house walls, 
The slave still trembles, and the lash still falls. 
The drowsy negroes haggard, spent, and worn, 
Like drunken men reel past ; and night and morn 
Brings no repose, but one unbroken chain 
Of fruitless toil, of weariness and pain. 

The mayoral who oversees the band, 
Before me now is standing, whip in hand. 
The straw-hat slouching o'er his olive face, 
Sturdy in figure, active in his pace ; 
Nor coat nor waistcoat incommode his breast. 
He walks erect, expands his ample chest. 
Displays a tawdry brooch of ample size, 
Large silver buckles in eaeh brace likewise ; 
A long strait sword with hilt of plated brass. 
And rings and trinkets too like all his class. 
What means this sword that dangles at his side t 
Those blood-hounds too; what evils can betide! 
A man of peace, a simple overseer, 
A " mayoral," who has no cause to fear. 
All in his mien and manner bears the brand 
Of might unquestioned, uncontrolled command. 


The bold regard, the fixed and searching glance 
Of one who dealt but little in romance. 

With all due awe and reverence possest, 

This worthy person gravely I addrest, 

Named what I wished to see, how far I came. 

And all except my unimportant aim. 

The man for one who held a despot's sway. 

Was frank and almost civil in his way. 

Freely complied with every wish exprest, 

Unveiled the secrets of this shrine unblest. 

And spoke of horrors here, as things well-known. 

And deeds, of course, that ev'ry day were done. 

Here were two hundred negroes, great and small. 

The full-grown gang two hundred strong — they call 

The female slaves, of evYy age — they own 

Are short of fifty, or a fourth alone, 

Of these, not one was married by a priest, 

Or saw one either Sabbath-day or feast ; 

No sacred rite, no sacrament was known, 

The pagans christened and the burial done, 

The law, to its strict letter was obeyed ; 

The farce was over and the fees w r ere paid. 

Here, with two hundred working men, last year, 

They boast they made two thousand boxes clear 

Of first-class sugar — and the boast is one 

That tells a tale of murder largely clone. 


The deaths they tell you of the slaves, are here 
Some ten per cent, and sometimes twelve a year. 
A fair consumption too of human life, 
Where wholesale slaughter shows no martial strife. 
But then, perhaps, the births were in excess ; 
Alas ! the births each year are less and less. 
Three in the last twelve months, and two of these 
Had died, because the mothers did not please 
To rear up slaves ; and they preferred to see 
Their children dead before their face, eVe they 
Would give their young " negritos" to the kind 
Indulgent masters which they are said to find. 

Jamaica bondsmen in M the good old times," 
Of our West Indian cruelties and crimes, 
Were pretty hardly worked, both old and young, 
Yet here is an amount of labour, wrung 
From Cuban .slaves, just double that of ours, 
And nearly twice the sum p£ working hours; 
For here the grasping master still must have 
.J list thrice the produce from each working slave. 
All to the charge of British planters laid, 
Compared with this — is thrown into the shade, 
And yields the bad pre-eminence in crime 
To Spanish guilt in cvVy tropic clime. 



What does it matter here, how many lives 
Are lost in labour, while the planter thrives, 
The Bozal market happily is nigh, 
And there the planter finds a fresh supply : 
'Tis cheaper far to buy new strength, we're told. 
Than spare the spent, or husband out the old ; 
'Tis not a plan by which a planter saves, 
To purchase females, or to rear up slaves. 
But times there are, when one has listened long 
And heard atrocious things, as if no wrong 
Was done the car. or offered to the heart, 
That silence seems at last, a felon's part. 

Tell me, Senor ! I somewhat calmly said. 

Where shall I find the a«ed neoro's shed, 

And see the poor old slaves of the estate, 

The weak, decrepid, worn-out slaves, whose fate 

It is, to feel a master's care at length, 

For whom they toiled through life, and spent their strength ; 

How does it happen, none are to be seen 

Unfit for labour, who from aire, have been 

Exempt from toil and hardship, at the close 

Of life, and now entitled to repose \ 

How does it happen, that the stranger sees 

No ransomed nursling on the mother's knees. 

No pregnant woman, whom the law doth yield 

A month's brief rest, and respite from the field. 


No tender children, on the Sabbath-day 

Trained to be good, poor things, or taught to pray, 

No place of refuge for declining age, 

In nature's course, to quit this mortal stage I 

Fd always thought that 44 mayorals" were folks 

Who never laughed or deigned to deal in jokes, 

But this man laughed, as if he'd reason, then 

Till his great sides with laughter shook again. 

At length, somewhat composed, he coolly said, 

Who could have put such nonsense in your head ? 

Who ever heard of negroes getting old, 

Or planters suffering female slaves to fold 

Their arms, and sit like Creole ladies still, 

Or taking pregnant women from the mill I 

You've not been long in Cuba, I suppose, 

From what you say of Sabbaths and repose, 

And paid not much attention, I opine, 

To many matters in the planting line' 

You have to learn what slaves are worth the score, 

What blacks are for, and whose they are, moreover 

We purchase slaves to cultivate our plains, 

We don't want saints or scholars to cut canes ; 

We buy a negro for his flesh and bone, 

He must have muscle, brains, he need have none. 

But where, you ask me, are the poor old slaves 

Where should thev he. of course, but in their grave: 


We do not send them there before their time, 
But let them die, when they are past their prime. 
Men who are worked by night as well as day, 
Some how or other, live not to be grey 
Sink from exhaustion — sicken — droop and die, 
And leave the Count another batch to buy ; 
There's stock abundant in the slave bazaars, 
Thanks to the banner of the stripes and stars ! 
You cannot think, how soon the want of sleep 
Breaks down their strength, 'tis well they are so cheap 
Four hours for rest — in time of crop — for five 
Or six long months, and few indeed will thrive. 

With twenty hours of unremitting toil, 
Twelve in the field, and eight in doors, to boil 
Or grind the cane — believe me few grow old, 
But life is cheap, and sugar, sir, — is gold. 
You think our interest is to use our blacks 
As careful owners use their costly hacks ; 
Our interest is to make the most we can 
Of every negro in the shortest span. 
As for the women, they embroil estates, 
There's never peace with them, within your gates : 
They're always shamming, skulking from the field, 
And most abusive when their backs are wealed. 


Sure to be sick when strangers pass this way. 
They take advantage of us every way ; 
For well they know, the Conde cannot bear 
The thoughts of flogging while his friends are here. 
As for the talk of marriage, you must jest. 
What ! marry wretched negroes by a priest ! 
Why, sir, there's not a priest within some ten 
Or twelve good leagues of the estate — and, then, 
Were one to come, the Count would have to pay ; 
I marry all the best and cheapest way. 
We have not many marriages, 'tis true, 
The men are many and the females few. 

We stall our negroes as we pen our sheep, 

And hold them fast as good stone walls can keep 

A negro gang, and ev'rv night you'll find 

The wk spell" released, in yonder square confined, 

We have, no doubt, our runaways at times, 

And flight, you know, we count the worst of crimes. 

Slaves who are flogged and worked in chains by day, 

Left in the stocks all night — you think would stay 

On the estate as soon as they're set free, 

And yet the fools again will dare to flee. 

We are not always scourging — by the way, 

Tuesday in common is our flogging day ; 

At other times we only use the whip, 

To stir the drones and make the young ones skip ; 



Then as to food, you may be sure we give 
Enough, to let the wretched creatures live : 
The diet's somewhat slender, there's no doubt, 
It would not do, to let them grow too stout ; 
Nor is it here, nor on estates around, 
That fat and saucy negroes may be found. 

Nay, said the speaker, in a graver tone, 
You seem to hear of things but little known ; 
Gaze on these wretched negroes as you may, 
You've heard but little of their wrongs to-day. 
If I must speak still plainer, and must call 
Things by their proper names, that must appal : 
'Tis not the scourge, or shackle, plague or pest, 
That wears the negro out — but want of rest. 
Night after night in constant labour past, 
Will break down nature, and its strength at last. 
Day after day in toil and terror spent, 
The slave will sink — and die with our consent ; 
The four hours' rest another victim gains, 
It frees another negro from his chains ; 
And still we hear from planters o'er and o'er 
The solemn lie, that negroes need no more. 
Yoa think, no doubt, the mayoraTs to blame. 
He works the negroes thus, and his the shame ; 
He plies the whip, and therefore he's the man 
That's marked for vengeance, and deserves its ban. 


I think I read what passes in your mind 
You deem our tribe the dregs of human kind ; 
Men who are formed by nature for this post, 
To ev'ry feeling of their species lost. 
How little know you of the men who fill 
This wretched office, and who loathe it still ; 
Men who have felt oppression's iron hand. 
Or w r ant has driven from their native land. 
And forced to take this execrable place 
To get their bread ; in spite of its disgrace. 
Think you we have no feelings for these slaves, 
And are the willing instruments of knaves. 
Who drains the life's blood of the negroes core, 
And leaves the guilt and odium at our door I 
Think you, for us there's profit in the gain, 
Wrung from the mortal agony and pain, 
Of sinking strength, of sickness, and despair 
W e daily witness, and we must not spare I 
Think you, for us there's pleasure in the groans 
Of mothers, listening to the piteous moans 
Of wailing infants, stretched before their eyes. 
They dare not leave the hoe, to hush those cries, 
Nor ask the driver for a moment's rest, 
To sooth the child, that's screaming for the breast 
These sights and scenes become, no doubt, in time, 
Familiar to us, and with some the crime 
Finds favour even — but not much with me ; 
I would not care if ev'ry slave was free, 


And ev'ry planter too to toil compelled, 

We are their dogs, and worse than do^s are held. 

Our despot does not live on his estate, 
He loves the town, and there he goes the gait 
Of other fools, and thinks that all grandees, 
Should lead a life of luxury and ease. 
He finds Havana stored with ev'ry vice, 
Can feed his pampered senses or entice ; 
There in his squalid splendour he can move, 
Exhaust the passions and imagine love ; 
Plume up his haughty indigence in smiles, 
And waste a harvest on a harlot's wiles. 

There he can find among his gay compeers, 
Gamblers enough and spendthrifts of his years, 
To get a " monte" up, at noon or night, 
And keep the game forbidden out of sight : 
There he can stake a crop upon a card, 
God help the negroes, if his luck is hard, 
For then the Count we're sure to see next day, 
The gambler comes, to find fresh funds for play. 

The " mayoral" is summoned to his lord, 
The menial comes, uncovered to afford 


A strict account of all the sugar made, 

That's fit for sale and ready for the trade ; 

The last year s crop, he's told, will never do, 

It must be doubled ; or an agent new 

Must take his place — and then the debts of old, 

The heavy charges on the produce sold, 

The merchant's twelve per cent, on each advance 

Have swallowed up the funds he got by chance, 

Or had received in driblets from the hands 

Of knaves, who made their fortunes on his lands ; 

He must look out, and find a man who'll make 

The negroes work and keep the slaves awake ; 

Hell not be told they can't be worked much more, 

They sleep too much, and have no need of four 

Or five hours' rest, his neighbours all agree 

That slaves in crop can do right well with three. 

Sugar he'll have, he cares not how, or by 

What cruel means, he gets a new supply ; 

'Tis idle to remonstrate or resist, 

Obey one must, or bo at once dismissed. 

Think you, indeed, a gamester's heart is mado 

Of human stuff that's moved by prayers, or swayed 

By any earthly influence but one, 

The lust of gold, to play for stakes unwon. 

The Conde's orders are obeyed, of course, 

And these, augmented rigour must enforce : 

" Boca abajos," morning, noon, and night, 

Unceasing torture, and unsparing might, 



Murmurs arise, and driftless schemes are rife, 
Of wild revenge, 'mongst men made sick of life. 
And when the outburst comes, what signifies 
Who is the victim — so a white man dies. 

I know full well the perils of my post, 
How many lives its odious tasks have cost ! 
You see this sword, these blood-hounds at my beck, 
I count on these, to keep the slaves in check, 
These are the dogs we train to hunt the blacks, 
To scent their trail and come upon their tracks, 
To run them down and chase the " cimarone," 
And mangle those who prowl at night alone. 
These are our friends and allies, it is fit 
That brutes like these should be so, I admit. 

Ah, Senor Mio ! briefly I replied, 

The words you speak are not to be denied ; 

You know too well your duties, it appears, 

For me to question or dispute your fears, 

Too well you know the torments you inflict, 

For me to doubt the sufferings you depict. 

Too well you've done the biddings of your lord, 

To fail to be detested and abhorred ; 

Too much have harassed and opprest the poor, 

For me to think your system can endure. 

e 2 


Your fields are fair and fertile, I allow, 
But no good man can say — " God speed the plough.'" 
There's wealth unfailing in your people's toil ; 
'Twould wrong the poor, to cry — " God bless the soil," 
'Twere asking blood to beg that God would deign 
" To give the early and the latter rain," 
One prayer indeed can hardly be supprest, 
God help the slave ! and pity the opprest. 

R. R. M. 





The Senora Donna Beatrice, the wife of Don Juan M 

took a pleasure every time she went to her beautiful estate, the 
Molino, to make choice of the finest Creole children about the 
age of ten or eleven years, and carry them to town, where she 
gave them instruction conformable to their new condition. 
Her house was always filled with these young slaves instructed 
in everything necessary to her service. One of the favourite 

young slaves was Maria M , my mother, who was 

greatly esteemed for her intelligence, and her occupation was 
to wait on the Senora Marquesa of J. in her advanced age. 
This lady was accustomed when she was pleased with her 
attendants, to give them their liberty when they were about to 
marry, if it were with some mechanic likewise free ; providing 
them with all things necessary, as if they had been her own 
children, without depriving them after their marriage of the 
favour and protection of her house, which extended even to 
their children and husbands ; of which conduct there are many 
notable examples, amongst those who were not even born in 
the house. Various changes, however, taking place in the 
service, Maria became the chief waiting-woman of the Mar- 
quesa. In this situation she married Toribio de Castro, and 
in due time, I was ushered into the world. 


My master took a fancy to me, and it is said I was more in 
his arms than in those of my mother. She had all the 
privileges of a slave who had acted as a dry-nurse, and also 
partly as a wet-nurse, media cridndera ;* and having married 
one of the head slaves of the house, and given a little Creole 
to her mistress, 1 was called 'by this lady, "the child of her 
old age " I was brought upVy the side of my mistress with- 
out separating from her, except at bed-time, and she never 
went out without taking me in her volante. With the differ- 
ence of hours in respect to some, and days in regard to others, 
I was the contemporary of Don Miguel de C, and also of Don 
Manuel O'R. now Count of B. ; which two families lived in a 
splendid house, close to the Machina, separated only by doors 
which divided the apartments ; for, in fact, it was two houses 
made into one. 

It would be tedious to detail t lie particulars of my child- 
hood, treated by my mistress with greater kindness than I 
deserved, and whom I was accustomed to call " my mother.'" 
At six years of age, on account, perhaps, of too much vivacity, 
more than anything else, I was sent to school to my god- 
mother every day at noon ; and every evening I was brought to 
the house, that my mistress might sec me, who seldom went 
out without seeing me, for if she did, I roared and cried, and 
so disturbed the house, that sometimes it was necessary to send 
for the whip, which nobody dared to lay on me, for not even 

• This term is applied to a ncgiest who at the same time suckles her own 
infant, and that of her mbtrew. 


my parents were authorised to flog me, and I knowing this, 
often took advantage of -it.T'0'n one occasion, being very bold, 
my father beat me, Hkmistress hearing of it, did not 
allow him for many days to come into her presence, until he 
procured the intercession of- her Confessor, the father Maya, a 
Franciscan, and then he wa's^fiteiven ; after the latter had 
explained to him that my Senoraj^rls mistress, and my father, 
as a parent, had each their respective direction of me. 

At ten years of age, I learned by heart some of the longest 
sermons of Father Louis, of Grenada, and the visitors who 
came to the house on Sundays, used to hear me repeat them 
when I came from the chapel, where I was sent with my god- 
mother, to learn how to behave in church ; because, although 
the service was performed every Sunday in the house, I was 
not permitted to be present, on account of the tricks I might 
have played with the other children. 

I also knew my catechism well, and as much of religion as 
a woman could teach me. I knew how to sew tolerably, and 
to place the furniture in order. On one occasion. I was taken 
to the Opera, and received some presents for reciting what I 
heard, but many more for the sermons, and my parents got 
what I received in the drawing-room. 

But passing over much of my early history, in which there 
was nothing but happiness, I must not omit the circumstances 
which happened at my baptism ; on that occasion, I was 
dressed in the same robe in which the Senora Donna Beatrice 
was baptized, which was celebrated with great rejoicings, my 



father being skilled in music, and playing on the flute and 
clarionet ; and my mistress desiring to solemnize that day with 
one of her noble traits of generosity, in part liberated my 
parents by " coartacion,"" giving them the power at any time 
of purchasing their liberty at the sum of three hundred dollars 
each ; what greater happiness could be looked for at her hands. 

At the age of ten, I was placed under the care of my god- 
father; having learned something of my fathers trade, 
which was that of a tailor, previously, to being sent to the 
estate. My mother gave birth to two other children. One of 
them, for what reason I know not, was made free — and this 
one died. My father lamenting his death, saying, " if things 
had been otherwise, I might have been content, my two living 
children are slaves, and the one that was free is dead where- 
upon my generous mistress had a document prepared, in which 
it was declared that the next child they should have should be 
free ; and it happened that twins were subsequently born, who 
are still living, and both were freed. My parents now were 
removed to the estate of the Molino, where they were placed 
in charge of the house, and about this period the Marquesa 
died there. I was sent for in her last illness. I remember little 
of what happened on my arrival, except being at the bed-side 
of my mistress with my mother, Donna J oaquina, and the priest, 
and that her hand rested on my shoulder, while my mother 
and Donna Joaquina wept a great deal, and spoke about some- 
thing which I did not understand, and then that I was taken 
away. Soon after I went to play, and the following morning 


I saw her stretched on a large bed, and cried, and was carried 
down stairs where the other servants were mourning for their 
mistress ; and all night long all the negroes of the estate mafic 
great lamentation, repeated the rosary, and I wept with them. 

I was taken to the Havana, to my godfather, with whom I 
soon learned my mistress had left me ; for some years I saw 
nothing of my father. My godfather had taken up his resi- 
dence in the court-yard of the Count, in the street Inquisidor, 
where I was accustomed to go about the house, and to leave it 
when I thought proper, without knowing whether I had a 
master or not. 

But one day, being permitted to go to the house of the 
Marquesa, to see my old acquaintances there, I know not 
what passed there, but when I was about returning to my god- 
father, and my dear godmother, I was not allowed to go : here 
I was clothed in a rich livery, with a great deal of gold lace, 
and what with my fine clothes, going to the theatres, to 
tertulias, balls, and places of amusement, I soon forgot my 
old quiet mode of life, and the kindness even of my godmother 
herself. After some time I was taken to the house of Donna 
Joaquina, who treated me like a white child, saw that I was 
properly clothed, and even combed my hair herself; and as 
in the time of the Marquesa de J., she allowed me not to 
pray with the other negro children at church — and at meal- 
time my plate was given to me to eat at the feet of the Senora 
Marquesa de P.. and all this time I was far away from my 
father and mother. 



I had already at the age of twelve years composed some 
verses in memory, because my godfather did not wish me to 
learn to write, but I dictated my verses by stealth to a young 
mulatto girl, of the name of Serafina, which verses were of an 
amatory character. From this age, I passed on without many 
changes in my lot to my fourteenth year ; but the import- 
ant part of my history began when I was about eighteen, 
when fortuned bitterest enmity was turned on me, as we shall 
see hereafter. 

For the slightest crime of boyhood, it was the custom to 
shut me up in a place for charcoal, for four-and-twenty hours at 
a time. I was timid in the extreme, and my prison, which 
still may be seen, was so obscure, that at mid-day no object 
could be distinguished in it without a candle. Here after being 
flogged I was placed, with orders to the slaves, under threats of 
the greatest punishment, to abstain from giving me a drop of 
water. What I suffered from hunger and thirst, tormented 
with fear, in a place so dismal and distant from the house, and 
almost suffocated with the vapours arising from the common 
sink, that was close to my dungeon, and constantly terrified by 
the rats that passed over me and about me, may be easily 
imagined. My head was filled with frightful fancies, with all 
the monstrous tales I had ever heard of ghosts and apparitions, 
and sorcery ; and often when a troop of rats would arouse me 
with their noise, I would imagine I was surrounded by evil 
spirits, and I would roar aloud and pray for mercy ; and then I 
would be taken out and almost flayed alive, again shut up, and 


the key taken away, and kept in the room of my mistress, the 
Senora herself. On two occasions, the Senor Don Nicholas 
and his brother showed me compassion, introducing through an 
aperture in the door, a morsel of bread and some water, with 
the aid of a coffee-pot with a long spout . This kind of punish- 
ment was so frequeut that there was not a week that I did not 
suffer it twice or thrice, and in the country on the estate I 
suffered a like martyrdom. I attribute the smallness of my 
stature and the debility of my constitution to the life of suffer- 
ing I led, from my thirteenth or fourteenth year. 

My ordinary crimes were — not to hear the first time I was 
called ; or if at the time of getting a buffet, I uttered a word 
of complaint ; and I led a life of so much misery, daily receiv- 
ing blows on the face, that often made the blood spout from 
both my nostrils ; no sooner would I hear myself called than 
I would begin to shiver, so that I could hardly keep on my legs, 
but supposing this to be only shamming on my part, frequently 
would I receive from a stout negro lashes in abundance. 

About the age of fifteen or sixteen, I was taken to Matanzas 
once more, and embraced my parents and brothers. 

The character, grave, and honourable of my father, and 
being always in his sight, caused my time to pass a little 
lighter than before. I did not suffer the horrible and continual 
scourgings, nor the blows of the hand, that an unfortunate boy 
is wont to suffer far away from his miserable parents ; notwith- 
standing, my unfortunate cheeks were slapped often enough. 
We passed five years in Matanzas. where my employment 



was to sweep and clean the house as well as I could at sunrise, 
before any one in the house was up ; this done I had to seat 
myself at the door of my mistress, that she might find 
me there when she awoke, then I had to follow her about 
wherever she went, like an automaton with my arms crossed. 
When breakfast, or the other meals were over, I had to gather 
up what was left, and having to put my hand to clear away the 
dishes, and when they rose from table I had to walk behind 
them. Then came the hour of sewing, I had to seat myself in 
sight of my mistress to sew women's dresses, to make gowns, 
shifts, robes, njllow-cases, to mark and to hem fine things in 
cambric, and mend all kinds of clothing. 

At the hour of drawing, which a master taught, I was also 
present, stationed behind a chair, and what I saw done and 
heard, corrected and explained, put me in the condition of 
counting myself as one of the pupils of the drawing-class. One 
of the children, I forget which, gave me an old tablet, and a 
crayon ; and with my face turned to the wall, the next day I 
sat down in a corner, and began making mouths, eyes, ears, 
and going on in this way, I came to perfect myself, so that I 
was able to cop}' a head so faithfully, that having finished one, 
my mistress observing me, showed it to the master, who said 
that I would turn out a great artist, and that it would be for 
her one day a great satisfaction that I should take the portraits 
of all my masters. 

At night I had to go to sleep at twelve or one o'clock, some 
ten or twelve squares of buildings distant, where my mother 


lived (in the negro barracones.) Being extremely timid, it 
was a serious matter to me to pass to this place in the wettest 
nights. With these troubles, and other treatment something 
worse, my character became every day more grave and melan- 
choly, and my only comfort was to fly to the arms of my 
mother, for my father was of a sterner nature. He used to be 
sleeping when my poor mother and my brother Florence waited 
up for me, till the hour of my arrival. 

Some attacks of ague, which nearly ended my days, pre- 
vented me from accompanying my mistress to Havana. When 
I recovered, no one could enjoy himself in two years as I did 
in four months ; I bathed four times a-day, and even in the 
night, I fished, rode on horseback, made excursions into the 
mountains, ascended the highest hills, eat all kinds of fruits ; 
in short, I enjoyed all the innocent pleasures of youth. In 
this little epoch I grew stout and lively, but when I returned 
to my old mode of life, my health broke down again, and I 
became as I was before. 

When I recovered sufficiently, my first destiny was to be a 
page, as well in Havana as in Matanzes ; already I was used 
to sit up from my earliest years the greatest part of the night, 
in the city, either at the theatre, or at parties, or in the house 

of the Marquis M H and the Senoras C, from which 

we went out at ten o'clock, and after supper play began, and 
continued till eleven or twelve ; and at Matanzas, on the days 
appointed, and sometimes not, when they dined at the house of 
the Count J., or in that of Don Juan M., and generally to 



pass the evening in the house of the Senoras G., in which the 
most distinguished persons of the town met and played at 
trecillo, malilla, or burro. While my lady played, I could not 
quit the side of her chair till midnight, when we usually 
returned to the Molino. If during the tertullia I fell asleep, 
or when behind the volante, if the lanthorn went out by acci- 
dent, even as soon as we arrived, the mayoral, or administrador 
was called up, and I was put for the night in the stocks, and 
at day -break I was called to an account, not as a boy ; and so 
much power has sleep over a man, four or five nights seldom 
passed that I did not fall into the same faults. My poor 
mother and brothers more than twice sat up waiting for me 
while I was in confinement, waiting a sorrowful morning. 

She, all anxiety when I did not come, used sometimes to 
leave her hut, and approaching the door of the infirmary, 
which was in front of the place allotted to the men where the 
stocks were, on the left hand side, at times would find me there ; 
and would call to me, " Juan, 11 and I sighing, would answer 
her, and then she would say outside, " Ah, my child !" and 
then it was she would call on her husband in his grave — for at 
this time my father was dead. 

Three times I remember the repetition of this scene, at other 
times I used to meet my mother seeking me — once above all, 
a memorable time to me — when the event which follows 
happened : — 

We were returning from the town late one night, when the 
volante was going very fast, and I was seated as usual, with 


one hand holding the bar, and having the lanthorn in the other, 
I fell asleep, and it fell out of my hand ; on awaking, I missed 
the lanthorn, and jumped down to get it, but such was my 
terror, I was unable to come up with the volante. I followed, 
well knowing what was to come, but when I came close to the 
house, I was seized by Don Sylvester, the young mayoral. 
Leading me to the stocks, we met my mother, who giving way 
to the impulses of her heart, came up to complete my mis- 
fortunes. On seeing me, she attempted to inquire what I had 
done, but the mayoral ordered her to be silent, and treated her 
as one raising a disturbance. Without regard to her entrea- 
ties, and being irritated at being called up at that hour, he 
raised his hand, and struck my mother with the whip. I felt 
the blow in my own heart ! To utter a loud cry, and from 
a downcast boy, with the timidity of one as meek as a lamb, 
to become all at once like a raging lion, was a thing of a mo- 
ment — with all my strength I fell on him with teeth and 
hands, and it may be imagined how many cuffs, kicks, and 
blows were given in the struggle that ensued. 

My mother and myself were carried off and shut up in the 
same place ; the two twin children were brought to her, while 
Florence and Fernando were left weeping alone in the hut. 
Scarcely it dawned, when the mayoral, with two negroes acting 
under him, took hold of me and my mother, and led us as 
victims to the place of sacrifice. I suffered more punishment 
than was ordered, in consequence of my attack on the 
mayoral. But who can describe the powers of the laws of 




nature on mothers ? the fault of my mother was, that seeing 
they were going to kill me, as she thought, she inquired what 
I had done, and this was sufficient to receive a blow and to be 
further chastised. At beholding my mother in this situation, 
for the first time in her life, (she being exempted from work) 
stripped by the negroes and thrown down to be scourged, over- 
whelmed with grief and trembling, I asked them to have pity 
on her for Grod's sake ; but at the sound of the first lash, 
infuriated like a tiger, I flew at the mayoral, and was near 
losing my life in his hands ; but let us throw a veil over the 
rest of this doleful scene. 

I said before, that I was like my mistress's lap-dog, since it 
was my duty to follow her wherever she went, except to her 
own private rooms, for then I remained outside to prevent any 
body from going in, receiving any messages, and keeping 
silence when she was there. One afternoon, I followed her into 
the garden, where I was set to gather up flowers and trans- 
plant some little roots, when the gardener was employed in his 
occupation there. At the time of leaving the garden, I took 
unconsciously, a small leaf, one alone of geranium, thinking 
only of making verses ; I was following, with this little leaf in 
my hand, two or three yards behind my mistress, so absent in 
my mind that I was squeezing the leaf with my fingers to give 
it greater fragrancy. At the entrance of the anti-chamber she 
turned back, I made room for her, but the smell attracted her 
attention ; full of anger, on a sudden and in a quick tone she 
asked me " What have you got in your hands ?" Motionless 


and trembling, I dropt the remains of the leaf, and, as if it 
was a whole plant, for this crime I was struck on the face, and 
delivered to the care of the overseer, Don Lucas Rodriguez. 
It was about six o'clock in the afternoon, and in the middle of 
winter. The volante was ready to go to town, and I was to 
ride behind ; but alas ! I was little aware what was to come 
in the next hour ! Instead of riding in the volante, I was 
taken to the stocks, which were in a building, formerly an 
infirmary, and now used for a prison, and for depositing 
the bodies of the dead till the hour of interment. My feet 
were put in the stocks, where shivering with cold, without any 
covering, they shut me in. What a frightful night I passed 
there ! My fancy saw the dead rising and walking about the 
room, and scrambling up to a window above the river and near 
a cataract, I listened to its roar, which seemed to me like the 
howling of a legion of ghosts. Scarcely day-light appeared, 
when I heard the unbolting of the door ; a negro came in 
followed by the overseer wrapt in his cloak ; they took me out 
and put me on a board fixed on a kind of fork, where I saw a 
bundle of rods. The overseer, from under a handkerchief over 
his mouth, roared out, " tie him fast when my hands were 
tied behind like a criminal, and my feet secured in an aperture 
of the board. Oh, my God ! Let me not speak of this fright- 
ful scene ! When I recovered I found myself in the arms of 
my mother, bathed in tears, and disconsolate, who, at the 
request of Don Jaime Florido, left me and retired. When 
my mistress rose next morning, her first care was to inquire 

f 2 


whether I was treated as I deserved ; and the servant who was 
waiting on her called me ; and she asked, if I would dare to 
take any more leaves of her geranium(? As I could not 
answer, I was near undergoing the same punishment, but 
thought to say, no. About eleven o'clock, I became danger- 
ously ill : three days I was in this state. My mother used to 
come to see me in the night-time, when she thought my mis- 
tress out. At the sixth day I was out of danger, and could 
walk about. I met my mother one day, who said to me, 
" J uan, I have got the money to purchase your liberty ; as 
your father is dead, you must act as a father to your brothers ; 
they shall not chastise you any more. " My only answer was 
a flood of tears ; she went away, and I to my business ; but 
the result of my mother's visit was disappointment ; the 
money was not paid, and I daily expected the time of my 
liberty, but that time was not destined for many a long year 
to come. 

Some time after, it happened that a carrier brought to the 
house some chickens, some capons, and a letter, and as I was 
always on guard like a sentinel, it was my misfortune to 
receive them ; leaving the fowls outside, I took in the letter to 
my mistress, who after reading it, ordered me to take them to 
Don Juan Mato their steward, to whom I delivered what I 
received. Two weeks after this, I was called to an account for 
one capon missing, I said without hesitating, that I received 
three capons, and two chickens, which I delivered. Nothing 
more was said of the matter, but the following day I saw the 


mayoral coming along towards the house, who after talking 
with my mistress for some time, went away again. I served 
the breakfast, and when I was going to take the first morsel, 
taking advantage of the moment to eat something, my mistress 
ordered me to go to the mayoraFs house, and tell him — I do 
not remember what. With sad forebodings, and an oppressed 
heart, being accustomed to deliver myself up on such occasions, 
away I went trembling. When I arrived at the door, I saw 
the mayoral of the Molino, and the mayoral of the 
Ingenio, together. I delivered my message to the first, 
who said, " Come in man," I obeyed, and was going to repeat 
it again, when Senor Dominguez, the mayoral of the Ingenio, 
took hold of my arm, saying, " it is to me, to whom you are 
sent;" took out of his pocket a thin rope, tied my hands 
behind me as a criminal, mounted his horse, and commanded 
me to run quick before him, to avoid either my mother or my 
brothers seeing me. Scarcely had I run a mile before the 
horse, stumbling at every step, when two dogs that were 
following us, fell upon me ; one taking hold of the left side 
of my face pierced it through, and the other lacerated my left 
thigh and leg in a shocking manner, which wounds are open 
yet, notwithstanding it happened twenty-four years ago. The 
mayoral alighted on the moment, and separated me from their 
grasp, but my blood flowed profusely, particularly from my leg 
— he then pulled me by the rope, making use at the same 
time, of the most disgusting language ; this pull partly dis- 
located my right arm, which at times pains me yet. Getting 

70 LIFE Of THE POE1 . 

up, I walked as well as I could, till we arrived at the Ingenio. 
They put a rope round my neck, bound up my wounds, and put 
me in the stocks. At night, all the people of the estate were 
assembled together and arranged in a line, I was put in the 
middle of them, the mayoral and six negroes surrounded me, 
and at the word " upon him," they threw me down ; two of 
them held my hands, two my legs, and the other sat upon my 
back. They then asked me about the missing capon, and I 
did not know what to say. Twenty-five lashes were laid on 
me, they then asked me again to tell the truth. I was per- 
plexed ; at last, thinking to escape further punishment, I said, 
" I stole it." " What have you done with the money V was 
the next question, and this was another trying point. " I 
bought a hat." "Where is it V "I bought a pair of shoes." 
" No such thing," and I said so many things to escape 
punishment, but all to no purpose. Nine successive nights the 
same scene was repeated, and every night I told a thousand 
lies. After the whipping, I was sent to look after the cattle 
and work in the fields. Every morning my mistress was 
informed of what I said the previous night. 

At the end of ten days, the cause of my punishment being 
known, Dionisio Copandonga, who was the carrier who brought 
the fowls, went to the mayoral, and said that the missed capon 
was eaten by the steward Don Manuel Pipa, and which capon 
was left behind in a mistake ; the cook Simona was examined 
and confirmed the account. I do not know whether my 
mistress was made acquainted with this transaction ; but 


certain it is, that since that moment, my punishment ceased, 
my fetters were taken off, and my work eased, and a coarse linen 
dress was put on me. But the same day an accident happened, 
which contributed much towards my mistress forgiving me. 

After helping to load sugar, I was sent to pile blocks of 
wood in one of the buildings, while so employed, all of a sud- 
den the roof with a loud crash gave way, burying under its 
ruins the negro Andres Criollo ; I escaped unhurt through a 
back door. The alarm given, all the people came to the rescue 
of poor Andres, who with great difficulty and labour was taken 
from under the ruins, with his skull broken, and he died in the 
Molino a few hours after. Early next morning, as I was 
piling the refuse of sugar canes, there arrived the then Master 
Pancho, and now Don F., followed by my second brother, who 
was in his service, and who intimated to me that his master 
was coming to take me back to the house. This was owing to 
my brother, who hearing of the accident and my narrow escape, 
begged earnestly of his young master to intercede with his 
mother on my behalf, which he easily obtained. I was pre- 
sented to my mistress, who for the first time received me with 
kindness. But my heart was so oppressed, that neither her 
kindness nor eating, nor drinking could comfort me ; I had no 
comfort except in weeping : my mistress observing it, and to 
prevent my crying so much, and the same time being so very 
drowsy, ordered me to move about, and clean all the furniture, 
tables, chairs, drawers, &c. All my liveliness disappeared, and 
as my brother was greatly attached to me, he became melan- 


choly himself ; he tried, however, to cheer me up, but always 
finished our conversations in tears : for this reason, also, my 
mistress would not let me wait upon her, nor ride in the 
volante to town ; and at last appointed me to the service of 
young Master Pancho ; they bought me a hat and a pair of 
shoes, a new thing for me, and my master allowed me to bathe, 
to take a walk in the afternoon, and to go fishing, and hunting 
with Senor. 

Besides the events just related, there happened two other 
circumstances resembling each other; one while at Havana, 
and the other at Matanzas, and which I think .worth relat- 
ing, before I begin to speak of my passing to the service 
of Don Nicolas de C. on my return to Havana. The first 
of these events happened when the new coin of our C. 
M. King Ferdinand the Seventh, began to circulate. Don 
Nicolas gave me a peseta of the old coin one night ; next 
morning there came at the door a beggar, my mistress gave me 
a peseta of the new coin for him, which calling my attention, 
and having the other in my pocket, one is as much worth as 
the other, muttered I to myself, and changing the pesetas, I 
gave to the beggar the old one ; after I went to my usual place 
in the antichamber, I sat down in the corner, and taking the 
new coin out of my pocket, began like a monkey turning it 
over and over again, when escaping through my fingers it fell 
down on the floor, making a rattling noise ; at its sound my 
mistress came out of her chamber, made me pick it up ; she 
looked at it. and her face reddened, she bid me go into her 


chamber, sit in a corner, and wait there ; of course, my peseta 
remained in her possession, she recognised it as the same she 
gave me for the beggar two minutes before ; with such proofs 
my fate was decided. My mistress was busy going in and out, 
till at last she sat down to write ; soon after the carrier 
of the Ingenio, who happened to be there at the time with his 
drove of mules, came into the chamber with a bundle con- 
taining a coarse hemp dress, and while he was unfolding it, he 
dropt a new rope, drawing near me at the same time ; trem- 
bling, and suspecting his intentions, I sprang up on a sudden, 
and escaping, through another door, ran for protection to Don 
Nicolas ; in the way, I met the young lady Concha, who 
kindly said to me, " go to my papa." The Marquis was always 
very kind to me, I used to sleep in his room, and whenever he 
was afflicted with headache, I gave him warm water, held his 
head and attended on him till he recovered. When I arrived 
at his room, which was in an instant, and he saw me at his 
feet, " What have you done now V said he ; in my con- 
fusion I related my case so confusedly, that he under- 
standing that I stole the peseta, said in an angry tone, 
u You knave, why did you steal the peseta 2" " No, sir," I 
replied, u your son Nicolasito gave it to me." "When f' 
" Last night," said I : we then went to the Senorito's room, 
who looking at the peseta, said that he did not give it to me. 
In truth, I was so frightened and confused, that I could not 
state the particulars sufficiently clear, on account of the pre- 
sence of the carrier ; and the name of the Ingenio, with its new 


mayoral, Don Simon Diaz, so inspired me with horror, that 
all conspired to confuse a boy of sixteen years only as I was. 
The Marquis interceded for me, and for all that, I was shut up 
in a dungeon four whole days, without any food, except what 
my brother could introduce through a little opening at the 
bottom of the door, and that was little. At the fifth day I 
was taken out, dressed with a coarse linen dress and tied with 
a rope. They were going to send me with the baggage of the 
family, and the other servants, my brother among them, to 
Matanzas : when the hour arrived, and they were leading me 
away, I met at the door Donna Beatriz, at present a nun in 
the Convent of the Ursulinas who interceded for me, that the 
rope might be taken off, which was done ; we embarked in a 
schooner for Matanzas, where we arrived at the end of two 

While on board, and before coming on shore, I changed the 
coarse dress for the one my brother, unseen, had provided for 
me ; as soon as we landed, my brother and I instead of going 
with the rest of the servants to present ourselves to Don Juan 
Gomez, who had instructions about us from the family, but 
being ignorant of it, and desirous to see our mother, we left 
the rest of the servants, and went to the Molino, where after 
presenting ourselves to the mayoral, and telling him that the 
rest of the servants were coming, we ran at full speed towards 
my mother's house ; but we scarcely arrived and had time to 
embrace her, when the Creole, Santiago, greatly agitated and 
full of anger, called me out, saying, " come with me," not 


suspecting the secret instructions he had, I refused to go with 
him, and my mother asking me what have I done, but without 
giving me time to explain myself, very abruptly took hold of 
my arm, tied me with a rope, and led me towards the Ingenio 
Saint Miguel, where we arrived about eleven o'clock, fasting all 
this time. The mayoral read the letter sent to him from 
Havana, and then put me in fetters ; twenty-five lashes in the 
morning and as many more in the evening for the term of nine 
(la vs, was the order of the letter. The mayoral questioned me 
about the peseta, I told him plainly and truly the fact, and for 
the first time, this savage man showed pity ; he did not put in 
execution his orders, but sent me to work with the rest of the 
negroes ; here I remained two weeks, when my mistress again 
sent for me. 

The second event happened at Matanzas. My mistress 
sent me to get change of a gold doubloon at Don Juan de 

o o o 

Torres, when I returned, she told me to put the change on a 
card-table, some time after she took it and put it into her 
pocket. As it was my business to dust all the furniture every 
half-hour, whether it was dusty or not, when I came to this 
card-table, and put down one-half of it, down fell a peseta, 
which it seems got between the joints; at the sound of it she 
came from the next room, and asked me about it, I told her how 
it came there, she then counted her change, and missed the 
peseta, which she took without saying a word the rest of the 
day ; but next day about ten o'clock, the mayoral of the 
Ingenio came, who fastened my arms behind me, and ordered 



me to go before his horse ; telling me, at the same time, that 
my mistress suspected that I put the peseta myself between 
the joints of the table on purpose to keep it. This mayoral, 
whose name I do not remember, stopped before a tavern, dis- 
mounted, went in, and ordered breakfast for both ; untied my 
arms, and kindly told me to make myself easy and not be 
afraid. While I was eating, he was conversing with a man, 
and I heard him say, " his father besought of him to pity me, 
he had some children of his own. 11 After breakfast he mounted 
his horse, and made me ride behind him on the horse. When 
we arrived at the Ingenio, he invited me to dine with him, and 
at night put me under the care of an old negro woman ; I 
remained in this way nine days, when I was sent for by my 
mistress. At the period I speak of my father was then living, 
and used to question me about these things, and advising me to 
tell always the truth, and to be honest and faithful. As this 
was the first time that I had been at the Ingenio, and consider- 
ing the good treatment I experienced, I think it was owing to 
my mistress^ secret instructions. 

The second time that I was at Matanzas, there never passed 
a day without bringing some trouble to me ; no, I cannot relate 
the incredible hardships of my life, a life full of sorrows ! My 
heart sickened through sufferings, once after having received 
many blows on the face, and that happened almost daily ; my 
mistress said, " I will make an end of you before you are of 
age these words left such an impression on my mind, that I 
asked my mother the meaning of them, who quite astonished, 


and after making me repeat them twice over, said, " my son, 
God is more powerful than the devil." She said no more about 
it ; but this and some hints I received from the old servants of 
the house, began to unfold the true meaning of her expressions. 
On another occasion, going to be chastised, for I do not remem- 
ber what trifle, a gentleman, always kind to me, interceded for 
me; but my mistress said to him, " mind, Senor, this boy will 
be one day worse than Rousseau and Voltaire, remember my 
words." These strange names, and the way that my mistress 
expressed herself made me very anxious to know what sort of 
bad people they were ; but when I found out, that they were 
enemies of God, I became more uneasy, for since my infancy I 
was taught to love and fear God, and my trust in him was 
such, that I employed always part of the night praying God 
to lighten my sufferings, and to preserve me from mischief on 
the following day, and if I did anything wrong I attributed it to 
my lukewarmness in prayers, or that I might have forgotten to 
pray ; and I firmly believe that my prayers were heard, and to 
this I attribute the preservation of my life once, on occasion 
of my running away from Matanzas to Havana, as I will relate 

Although oppressed with so many sufferings, sometimes T 
gave way to the impulses of my naturally cheerful character. 
Whenever I went to Senor Estorino's house, I used to draw 
decorations on paper, figures on cards or pasteboard, and scenes 
from Chinese shades, then making frames of wild canes, for 
puppet shows, with a pen-knife, the puppets seemed to dance by 



themselves. I painted also portraits of the sons of Don Felix 
Llano, Don Manuel and Don Felixe Puebla, Don Francisco 
Madruga, and many others ; to see all this, there used to come 
several boys of the town, and on these occasions, I used to do 
my best to enliven these entertainments. 

Some time after this, we went to Havana, where I was 
appointed to the service of young Don Nicolas, who esteemed 
me not as a slave, but as a son, notwithstanding his youth. 
In his company the sadness of my soul began to disappear, 
but soon after I contracted a disease in my chest with a 
spasmodic cough, of which with the assistance of Doctor 
Francisco Lubian, and with time and youth, I was perfectly 
cured. As I said before, I was now kindly treated, and never 
was without money in my pocket. My business was to take 
care of his wardrobe, to clean his shoes, and wait upon him : 
he only forbad me going out by myself, to go to the kitchen, 
and to have any intercourse with loose characters ; and as he 
himself though young, was very circumspect, so he wished 
every body about him to be ; I never received any reprimand 
from him, and I loved him very much. As soon as day dawned, 
I used to get up, prepare his table, arm-chair and books, and 
I adapted myself so well to his customs, and manners that I 
began to give myself up to study. From his book of rhe- 
toric I learnt by heart a lesson every day, which I used 
to recite like a parrot, without knowing the meaning; but 
being tired of it, I determined to do something more useful, 
and that was to learn to write : but here was a difficulty, I 


did not know how to begin, nor did I know how to mend a 
pen, and I would not touch any of my masters ; however, I 
bought ink, pens, and penknife, and some very fine paper ; then 
taking some of the bits of written paper thrown away by my 
master, I put a piece of them between one of my fine sheets, 
and traced the characters underneath, in order to accustom my 
hand to make letters ; with this stratagem, at the end of a 
month I could write almost the same hand as my master's. 
Extremely pleased with myself. I employed the hours from five 
to ten every evening, exercising my hand to write, and in day- 
time I used to copy the inscriptions at the bottom of pictures 
hung in the walls ; by these means, I could imitate the best 
hand-writing. My master was told how 1 employed the even- 
ings, and once he surprised me with all my writing apparatus, 
but he only advised me to drop that pastime, as not adapted 
to my situation in life, and that it would be more useful to mo 
to employ my time in needle-work, a business that indeed at 
the same time I did not neglect. In vain was I forbidden to 
write, for when everybody went to bed, I used to light a piece 
of candle, and then at my leisure I copied the best verses, 
thinking that if I could imitate these, I would become a poet. 
Once, some of my sonnets fell into one of my friends hands, and 
Doctor Coronado was the first to foretel, that I would be a 
great poet, notwithstanding all opposition ; he was told how I 
had taught myself to write, and he encouraged me, saying, that 
many of the great poets began in the same way. 

At this time my master was near contracting an alliance 



with Senorita Donna Teresa de H., and I was the messenger 
between them, an office very productive, since I had plenty of 
money given to me, so much that I did not know what to do 
with it ; I bought a handsome inkstand, a rule, and a good 
provision of pens, ink, and paper ; the rest of my money I sent 
to my mother. We went to Gruanajay on a visit to Count de 
G., where my future young mistress resided. As the first 
needle-work my mistress made was dress-making, under the 
care of Senora Domingo, her dressmaker ; I learned to make 
fine dresses, and I had the honour to make some dresses for 
my future mistress, in recompense for which I experienced all 
sorts of kindness ; and when they were married I was their 
page, and as I was so punctual in my attendance on them, I 
was treated more kindly from day to day. But this happiness 
lasted only about three years, when my former mistress of 
Matanzas, hearing reports so favourable of me, resolved to 
take me into her own service a^ain. At this time I was so 
punctual in attending sick people, though only eighteen years 
old, that whenever there was a person ill in the family, they 
asked permission of my mistress to let me attend upon them. 
One of them was Don Jose Maria P. who was very ill ; I 
prepared for him his bath, administered the doctor s prescrip- 
tions in due time, helped him to rise from his bed, watched the 
whole of the night, with paper and ink before . me, and put 
down, for the guidance of the doctor, the time that he slept, 
whether composedly or not, how many times he awoke, how 
many he coughed, if he snored &c. ; I was much praised for this 


by the doctors, Don Andres Terriltes, Don Nicolas Gutierres, 
and others. While I was attending this gentleman, my 
former mistress arrived, and intimated very kindly to me her 
intention to take me back. I listened to her sorrowfully, for 
my heart became oppressed at the thoughts of returning to 
those places so memorable and so sad to me. I was obliged to 
follow her to her sister's, the Countess of B. where she was on 
a visit for a few days ; she forbade me to bid farewell to my 
young masters, but I stole away unperceived, and went to take 
leave of them. Don Nicolas, who since his childhood was 
very partial to me, took leave of me weeping, as also his lady, 
both loading me with presents ; the Senora gave me some 
Holland handkerchiefs and two gold doubloons ; Don Nicolas 
all my clothes, including two new coats, and a gold doubloon 
besides. I left them so downcast and with such sad forebod- 
ings, that early next morning I ventured to ask paper and ink, 
in order to advertise for a new master. This quite astonished 
my mistress, and saying that she took me back for my own 
sake, and that I had better stop with her till she made some 
other arrangements, and when she turned her back I was sorry 
for having given her this uneasiness. At dinner-time, she 
mentioned my boldness to her sister the Countess, and, with 
an angry tone, said to me before all the company, " this is the 
return you intend to make for all the care I took in your 
education ; did I ever put my hands on you V I was very 
near saying, yes, many a time, but thought better to say, no. 
She then asked me if I remembered her man mi a I and at m y 



answering, yes ; she said, " I occupy her place, mind that, 1 ' 
here the conversation dropt. After prayers in the afternoon, 
I was sent for by the Countess and Donna Maria Pizarro, 
who both tried to persuade me to desist from my intention. 
I plainly told them, that I was afraid of my mistress's fiery 
temper ; this conversation ended by the Countess advising 
me to stop with my mistress till she thought proper to give 
me my liberty. 

Some time after this%we left for Matanzas, stopping at the 
Molino. Here they pointed out to me my new duties, and I 
acquitted myself so much to their satisfaction, that in a short 
time I was the head servant of the house. During all this 
time, after superintending the business of the house, and after 
breakfast, I used to employ myself at needle- work. At the 
end of about two weeks after we were in town, it happened that 
one morning oversleeping myself, a cock found his way into my 
room, which was close to that of my mistress ; the cock crew, 
I do not know how many times, I only heard him once, I 
started from my bed, and went about my business, and were it 
not for the interference of Don Tomas Gener, who, at my 
request, kindly interceded for me, I should not have escaped 
being sent to the Molino. 

When I was about nineteen years of age, I had some pride 
in acquitting myself of my duties, so much to the satisfaction 
of my mistress, and never waited to be ordered twice ; at this 
time I could not bear to be scolded for trifles ; but the pro- 
pensity to humble the self-love of those who are in the good 


graces of their masters, is a contagious disease in all rich fami- 
lies. Such was the case with a person, who without any 
cause or provocation on my part, began to treat me badly, 
calling me bad names, all of which I suffered, till he called my 
mother out of her name : then I retorted on him a similar 
expression, he gave me a blow, which I could not avoid, and I 
returned it. My mistress was out, and I was to go after her 
at the house of the Senora. When we returned, she was told 
of what happened ; I excused myself, paying, that I could not 
suffer my mother to be called so bad a name ; " So," said she, 
" if he repeats it again, you will not respect my house V At 
the third day we went to breakfast to the Molino : meanwhile 
I was uneasy, I had before me all the vicissitudes of my life, 
and was apprehensive of what was to come. Soon after our 
arrival, I saw the mayoral coming towards the house ; I escaped 
through the garden, and hid myself: in the afternoon I went 
to town, to the Count of G., who gave me shelter and protec- 
tion ; I was still uneasy, I wept bitterly when I remembered 
the kindness I was treated with by the other masters in Havana. 
Scarcely was I there five days, when for a trifling fault they 
sent for a commissary of police, who secured me with a rope, and 
took me to the public prison in the middle of the day ; at four 
o'clock, there came a white man from the country, who demanded 
me, and I was delivered to him ; he put on me the coarse linen 
dress, he tied my arms with a rope, and led me towards the 
Molino, which t desired never to see again, after having been so 
well treated by my former masters, being now also somewhat 

g 2 


elated with the praises bestowed on my abilities, and a little 
proud of my acquaintance in the city with persons that knew 
how to reward services. At the Molino, Don Saturnino Carrias, 
the mayoral at this time, examined me, I told the truth, and 
he sent me to work at the fields without any chastisement or 
fetters. I was there about nine days, when my mistress coming 
to the Molino to breakfast, sent for me, gave me a fine suit of 
clothes, and took me to town again in the volante. I was 
known at this time under the name of the Chinito, or the little 
Mulatto of the Marquesa. 

About this time I went to the house of the lady of Senor 
Apodaca, a grandee of Havana, where they were making some 
preparations for his reception. Senor Aparicio, a painter and 
decorator, was employed in painting some emblems allusive to 
a rose, as the name of the lady was Rosa ; I helped the painter, 
and he gave me ten dollars for my work, and having by way of 
amusement painted some garlands, he saw that I might be 
useful to him, and asked my mistress to lend me to him, but 
she would not consent ; at the conclusion of his work ho gave 
me two dollars more, which money I kept with the intention to 
spend it at Havana. My mistress found out that the servants 
mot together in a barn after midnight, to play at cards till the 
morning. The first thing she did on the following morning 
was to search my pockets, and finding that I had more money 
than she gave me, took me for an accomplice in their game ; 
and notwithstanding my telling her how I came in possession 
of the money, she kept it, and sent me to the Molino, where I 


was received by the mayoral, and treated kindly, the same as 
before ; at the end of three or four days my mistress sent for 
me, and I returned to town. 

Some time past on without any novelty, when my mother 
died suddenly. I was made acquainted with this accident soon 
afterwards, when my mistress gave me three dollars to have 
prayers said for her. A few days after she gave me leave to go 
to the Molino, to see what my mother had left. The mayoral 
gave me the key of the house, where I only found a very large 
old box empty : as there was a secret in it, which I knew, I 
pulled the spring, and found there some trinkets of pure gold, 
but the most worthy were three ancient bracelets, near two 
inches broad and very thick, two strings of beads, one of gold, 
the other coral and gold : I found also a bundle of papers, in 
which were some accounts of debts due to us, one of 200 and 
odd dollars, another of 400, payable by my mistress, and some 
others for small sums. When I was born, my grandfather 
gave me a young mare, of a fine breed : she gave five colts, 
which my father purposed should be given to my brothers ; 
after that she gave three more, making altogether eight colts. 
I returned to my mistress, and gave an account of what I 
found. At the end of five or six days, I asked her if she had 
examined the bills ; she answered calmly, " not yet and I 
went to inform the Creole, Rosa Brindiz, who had the care of 
my sister, Maria del Rosario. Rosa was continually urging 
me not to lose any opportunity of asking my mistress about it, 

-lie wanted my sister's share, to repay herself the expenses 


of nursing and keeping her, and as I was the eldest, it was my 
duty, she said, to look after the money. Teased by her, I 
ventured to mention it again to my mistress ; but what was my 
astonishment, when instead of money, she said, " You are in a 
great hurry for your inheritance, do you not know that I am 
the lawful heir of my slaves \ if you speak to me again about it, 
I will send you where you will never see the sun nor the moon 
again ; go and clean the furniture." The following day I 
made Rosa acquainted with this answer, and some days after 
she came herself to speak to my mistress, with whom she was 
a long time ; when she came out I gave her two of the three 
bracelets, and all the beads. My mistress, who was always 
watching me, came near us, and intimated to Rosa, that she 
disliked her to have any communication with me, or any of 
the servants, and Rosa went away, and never came there any 

As for me, from the moment that I lost my hopes, I ceased to 
be a faithful slave ; from an humble, submissive being, I turned 
the most discontented of mankind : I wished to have wings to 
fly from that place, and to go to Havana ; and from that day 
my only thoughts were in planning how to escape and run 
away. Some days after I sold to a silver-smith the other 
bracelet, and for which he gave me seven dollars, and some 
reals ; I gave the dollars to a priest, for prayers to be said for 
my poor mother. It was not long before my mistress knew of 
it, through the priest ; she asked me where I had the money 
from, I told her ; she wanted to know the name of the silver- 


smith, I said I did not know ; she flew into a passion, " You 
will know then for what you are born, you cannot dispose of 
any thing without my consent. 11 She then sent me to the 
Molino for the third time. Don Saturnino, the mayoral, 
inquired what had I done, I told him, very peevishly, and 
weeping, for I did not care for the consequences at that mo- 
ment, but he pitied me, untied my arms, and sent me to his 
kitchen, with orders not to stir from there. At the end of 
ten days, he said to me, " As your mistress is coming to- 
morrow to breakfast here, to save appearances, I will put on 
you the fetters, and send you to work ; but if she inquires 
whether you have been whipped, you must say, yes. 11 Next 
morning, about nine, she sent for me, gave me a new suit of 
clothes ; and when I went to him to deliver the coarse ones, 
with an angry tone, he said to me, " Now, mind what you are 
about ; in less than two months vou have been sent to me 
three times, and I have treated you kindly, endeavour to do 
your best not to come here again, if you do, you shall be treated 
severely ; go to your mistress, go, and beware. 11 I went to 
my mistress, and threw myself at her feet, she bade me get 
up, and ordered a good breakfast for me ; but I could not eat 
anything, my heart was uneasy ; Havana, with all the happy 
days I enjoyed there, was continually in my mind, and my 
only wish was to go there. My mistress observed with wonder 
my not eating breakfast, particularly of some nice stew she 
ordered for me : the truth is, that she could not do without 
me for a length of time, and this was the reason that my 



journeys to the Molino never exceeded nine or ten days ; and 
although she struck me so often, and degraded me, calling me 
always the worst of all the Creoles born in the Molino. I was 
still attached to her, and shall never forget the care she had 
taken on my education. 

After this she treated me with more kindness ; she allowed 
me to go a fishing, which was my most pleasant amusement. 
Next morning my mistress went to the house of the Senora 
Gomez, where they played 4 at cards, and it was my duty to 
stand behind her chair all the time ; if she was a winner I 
carried home the money bag, and when I delivered it to her 
she put her hand into it and gave me some. She was much 
pleased, when she saw me making myself a pair of trousers, 
which I learned myself ; for since the idea of freedom took 
possession of my mind, I endeavoured to learn every thing 
useful to me ; I invented many fancy things in my leisure 
hours, though these were few, I took sheets of paper, and 
doubling them m different shapes and forms, I turned them in 
various shapes as flowers, pine-apples, shells, fans, epaulettes, 
and many more things, for which I was praised by everybody. 
As my mistress treated me with a little more kindness, I 
insensibly began to be more calm, my heart more composed, 
and to forget her late harsh behaviour towards me. I began to 
be as comfortable as ever ; in a word, I thought myself already 
free, and waited only to be of age ; this hope encouraged me to 
learn many useful things, so that if I should not be a slave I 
should earn a honest livelihood. At this time I wrote a great 


many sonnets. Poetry requires an object, but I had none to 
enflame my breast, this was the cause of my verses being 
nothing else than poor imitations. I was very anxious to read 
every book or paper that fell in my way, either at home or in the 
streets, and if I met with any poetry I learnt it by heart, in 
consequence of this, I could recite many things in poetry. 
Besides, when my mistress had company at dinner, and that 
was almost every day, she had always some poet invited who 
recited verses and composed sonnets extempore ; I had in a 
corner of the room some ink in an egg-shell and a pen, and 
while the company applauded and filled their glasses with 
wine away I went to my corner, and wrote as many verses as 
I could remember. 

Three or four months after this, as my mistress was 
unwell, she was advised to go to the bathing town of 
Madruga to bathe ; with her complaint she turned cross and 
peevish ; she reproached my having disposed of my mother's 
trinkets, having five brothers, and that that was a robbery, and 
that if I was put in possession of the inheritance, I soon would 
lose it in gambling, and she was continually threatening me with 
the Molino and with Don Saturnino, whose last words were 
imprinted on my heart, and I had no wish to pay him another 
visit. With the belief that if I could go to Havana I would 
have my liberty, I inquired the distance, and was told twelve 
leagues, which I could not reach on foot in one night ; I then 
dropt for the present that idea, waiting for a better opportunity. 
It was my custom to clean myself and change twice a week, 


and one day before dressing I went to bathe in a bath, thirty 
yards distant ; while in the bath my mistress called me, in an 
instant I dressed myself and was before her, " What were you 
doing in the bath I Who gave you liberty to go \ Why did you 
go V were her angry inquiries, and with her fist she made my 
nostrils bleed profusely ; all this happened at the street-door, 
and before all the people, but what confused me more was, that 
there lived opposite a young mulatto girl, of my own age, the 
first who inspired me with love, a thing I did not feel before ; 
or rather I loved her as a sister, and our intercourse was kept up 
by some little presents from one to another, and I told her that 
I was free. About ten o'clock, my mistress ordered my shoes to 
be taken off and my head shaved, after which I was commanded 
to carry water for the use of the house, with a large barrel upon 
my head ; the brook was distant thirty yards with a declivity 
towards it from the side of the house ; I went, filled the barrel, 
and with some help I put it upon my head, I was returning up 
the little hill, when my foot missed, and down I went upon my 
knee, the barrel falling a little forward came rolling down, 
struck against my chest, and down both tumbled in the brook. 
My mistress said, " that is a trick of yours to evade work, 11 she 
threatened me with the Molino and Don Saturnino, which name 
had a magic effect on me, and I began to think seriously 
about escaping to Havana. The following morning when all the 
people were at church, a free servant called me aside, and in a 
whisper, said to me, "my friend, if you suffer it is your fault; 
you are treated worse than the meanest slave ; make your 


escape, and present yourself before the Captain- General at 
Havana, state your ill treatment to him, and he will do you 
justice at the same time showing me the road to Havana. 

At eleven o'clock, I saw Don Saturnino arrive at the house ; 
from this moment my heart beat violently, my blood was 
agitated, and I could not rest, I trembled like a leaf, my only 
comfort at that moment was the solitude of my room, there I 
went ; and there I heard the servants talking together, one 
was inquiring of the other the reason of the coming of Don 
Saturnino. " Why," said the other, " to take away Juan 
This was more than I could endure, a general trembling took 
possession of my limbs, and my head ached very much. I 
fancied myself already in the hands of Don Saturnino, leading 
me away tied like the greatest criminal — from this moment I 
determined on my escape. I left my room with this deter- 
mination, when I met again the same servant, who said to me, 
" Man take out that horse from the stable, and leave him 
outside, for fear that when Don Saturnino may want him in 
the night, you will make too much noise, and will disturb your 
mistress — here are the spurs, take them, and there is the 
saddle, and so you will know where to find every thing." 
And then he gave me such a look as quite convinced me that, 
he advised me to take the opportunity, and not lose it. I was 
hesitating, yet I did not like to leave behind me my brothers, 
and then I was afraid to travel a whole night through roads 
unknown to me, and alone, and in danger of falling in with 
any commissary of police ; but what was my surprise, when 


after supper, as I was sitting on a bench by myself, meditating 
about what to do, Don Saturnino came to me, and asked, 
" Where do you sleep V I pointed to him the place and 
he went away ; this entirely determined me to make my escape 
— he might have made the inquiry with a good intention, 
but I could not consider it but with great suspicion. I remem- 
bered at that moment the fate of one of my uncles, who in a 
case like mine, took the same determination of escaping to 
Havana, to Don Nicolas, Don Manuel, and the Senor Marques 
and was brought back again like a wild beast — but for all that 
I resolved to venture on my escape, and in case of detection, to 
suffer for something. I waited till twelve o'clock. That night 
everybody retired early, it being very cold and rainy. I 
saddled the horse for the first time in my life, put on the bridle, 
but with such trembling that I hardly knew what I was about, 
after that I knelt down, said a prayer, and mounted the horse. 
When I was going away, I heard the sound of a voice saying, 
" God bless you, make haste." I thought that nobody saw me, 
but as I knew afterwards, I was seen by several of the negroes, 
but nobody offered any impediment to my flight. 

Juan . 




BY R. R. M. 


Oh, thou dread scourge and terror of our race, 
While thy strong hand bows down the proudest head, 
Filling the earth with cries in every place, 
And grief and wailing o'er the silent dead. 

Hear one poor Christian's humble prayer to thee, 
And speak in words that one may hear and live ; 
I only beg thou wilt not ask of me, 
This gift of life, that God was pleased to give. 

While passion's spell is on my heart — nor yel 
AYhile angry feelings rankle in my breast — 
Nor while remembrance ever is beset 
With wrongs that men despair to see redressed. 

Oh, yet not while I feel this bosom rise. 
With tender transports when the partner dear 
Of all my cares, with bright and beaming eyes 
Smiles in my face — and Eden's joys seem here. 


But let it be, when thou dost see me yield, 
Give my whole heart and soul to God above. 
To him who gave me life, nay more, revealed 
The truths of life eternal and of love. 



Silence, audacious wickedness which aims 
At honour's breast, or strikes with driftless breath, 
The lightest word that's spoken thus defames, 
And where it falls, inflicts a moral death. 

If with malign, deliberate intent, 
The shaft is sped, the bow that vibrates yet, 
One day will hurt the hand by which 'tis bent, 
And leave a wound its malice justly met. 

For once the winged arrow is sent forth, 
Who then may tell where, when, or how 'twill fall ? 
Or, who may pluck its barb from wounded worth, 
And send it back, and swiftly too withal. 





Yes, tho* in gloom and sadness I may rise, 
One blessed strain can soothe my troubled soul, 
No sooner wakened than with streaming eyes, 
Upward I look, and there I seek my goal. 
Soaring in spirit o'er the things of earth, 
The spark imprisoned bursts its bonds of clay ; 
I feel delight above all human mirth, 
And wrapt in love, I live but then to pray ; 

To thee, dear Father ! — mighty and supreme ! 
Immense ! eternal ! infinite ! and blest ! 
Oh, how the grandeur of the theme doth seem 
T' enlarge my thoughts, and to inflame my breast. 
Hail, blessed faith ! thou only hope and trust, 
Solace most sweet, and stay of hope most sure ; 
Thou sole support and shield of the opprest, 
The weak, the wronged, the wretched, and the poor. 


In thee, all trouble is absorbed and lost ; 
In ev'ry breath of thine there's vital air ; 
Whose mild and genial influence, the just 
Rejoice to find, the wretched e'en may share. 
For thee, when darkness brooded o'er the land, 
A remnant, faithful to the law they feared, 
Still wept and sighed — 'till mercy's hour at hand, 
The mighty standard of the cross was reared. 

Then in the depths of fear, as by a spell, 
The voice of hope was heard, the tidings glad, 
Of truth eternal, far and wide were spread, 
And demons trembled as their idols fell ; 
But soon the foe of truth and justice came, 
Far worse there's none than tyranny can prove, 
That fitting agent of a spirit's aim, 
Indocile ever to the God of love. 

But vain was all that monster's rage renewed, 
Thousands of martyrs fell beneath its sway ; 
Still in that cradle purpled with their blood, 
The infant faith waxed stronger every day. 
Now the triumphant gospel is our guide, 
Our sure conductor to eternal light : 
The future vast ; the heavenly portals hide 
Their joys no longer from our spirit's sight. 
h 2 



Tis thou, O God, by faith who dost reveal 
Mysterious wonders to our senses weak : 
When thou dost speak to hearts that deeply feel, 
And humbly hear when thou dost deign to speak. 
Oh, when the mantle of thy peace descends, 
How the soul then exults in her attire ! 
The garb of grace to ev'ry thought extends, 
And wraps reflection in seraphic fire. 

In thee, I find all purity and peace, 

All truth and goodness, wisdom far above 

All worldly wisdom, might beyond increase, 

And yet surpassing these, unbounded love. 

Oh, that its light were shed on those whose deeds 

Belie the doctrines of the church they claim ; 

Whose impious tongues profane their father's creeds, 

And sanction wrong, e'en in religion's name. 

Oh, God of mercy, throned in glory high, 
O'er earth and all its miseries, look down ! 
Behold the wretched, hear the captives' cry, 
And call thy exiled children round thy throne I 
There would I fain in contemplation gaze, 
On thy eternal beauty, and would make 
Of love one lasting canticle of praise, 
And ev'ry theme but that, henceforth forsake. 



When I think on the course I have run, 
From my childhood itself to this day. 
I tremble, and fain would I shun, 
The remembrance its terrors array. 

I marvel at struggles endured, 

With a destiny frightful as mine, 

At the strength for such efforts : — assured 

Tho 1 I am, 'tis in vain to repine. 

I have known this sad life thirty years, 
And to me, thirty years it has been 
Of sufFring, of sorrow and tears, 
EvYy day of its bondage Tve seen. 

But 'tis nothing the past — or the pains, 
Hitherto I have struggled to bear, 
When I think, oh, my God ! on the chains, 
That I know Fin yet destined to wear. 



The fire-fly is heedlessly wandering about, 

Through field and through forest is winging his route, 

As free as the butterfly sporting in air, 

From flower to flower, it flits here and there : 

Now glowing with beautiful phosphoric light, 

Then paling its lustre and waning in night : 

It bears no effulgence in rivalry near, 

But shrouds ev'ry gleam as the dawn doth appear. 

It sparkles alone in the soft summers eve, 
Itself, though unseen, by the track it doth leave. 
The youth of the village at night-fall pursue 
O'er hill and o'er dale, as it comes into view ; 
Now shining before them, now lost to their eyes, 
The sparkle they catch at, just twinkles and dies ; 
And the mead is one moment all spangled with fire, 
And the next, every sparklet is sure to expire. 

On the leaf of the orange awhile it disports, 
When the blossom is there, to its cup it resorts, 


And still the more brightly and dazzling it shines, 
It baffles its tiny pursuers'* designs. 
But see the sweet maiden, the innocent child, 
The pride of the village — as fair as the wild 
And beautiful flowers she twines in her hair — 
How light is her step, and how joyous her air ! 

And oft as one looks on such brightness and bloom, 
On such beauty as her's, one might envy the doom 
Of a captive " Cucuya," that's destined like this, 
To be touched by her hand, and revived by her kiss ; 
Imprisoned itself, by a mistress so kind, 
It hardly can seem, to be closely confined, 
And a prisoner thus tenderly treated in fine, 
By a keeper so gentle, might cease to repine. 

In the cage which her delicate hands have prepared, 
The captive " Cucuya 11 is shining unscared, 
Suspended before her, with others as bright, 
In beauty's own bondage revealing their light. 
But this amongst all is her favourite one, 
And she bears it at dusk to her alcove alone, 
'Tis fed by her hand on the cane that's most choice, 
And in secret it gleams, at the sound of her voice. 


Thus cherished, the honey of Hybla would now 
Scarce tempt the " Cucuya" her care to forego ; 
And daily it seems to grow brighter and gain 
Increasing effulgence, forgetting its pain. 
Oh ! beautiful maiden, may heaven accord, 
Thy care of the captive, its fitting reward ; 
And never may fortune the fetters remove, 
Of a heart that is thine in the bondage of love. 



The Clock's too fast they say ; 
But what matter, how it gains ! 

Time will not pass away 
Any faster for its pains. 

The tiny hands may race 
Round the circle, they may range. 

The Sun has but one pace, 
And his course he cannot change. 

The beams that daily shine 
On the dial, err not so, 

For they're ruled by laws divine, 
And they vary not, we know. 

But tho' the Clock is fast, 
Yet the moments I must say, 

More slowly never passed, 
Than they seemed to pass to-day. 




Thou knowest, dear Florence, my sufferings of old, 
The struggles maintained with oppression for years, 

W e shared them together, and each was consoled 

With the whispers of love that were mingled with tears. 

But now, far apart, this sad pleasure is gone, 
We mingle our sighs and our sorrows no more ; 
The course is a new one that each has to run, 
And dreary the prospect for either in store. 

Cut in slumber, our spirits, at least, shall commune, 
Behold, how they meet in the visions of sleep ; 
In dreams that recal early days, like the one 
[n my brother's remembrance, I fondly would keep. 

For solitude pining, in anguish of late 
The heights of Quintana I sought, for repose, 
And there of seclusion enamoured, the weight 
Of my cares was forgotten, I felt not my woes. 


Exhausted and weary, the spell of the place 

Soon weighed down my eyelids, and slumber then stole 

So softly o^er nature, it left not a trace 

Of trouble or sorrow, o'ercasting my soul. 

I seemed to ascend like a bird in the air, 

And the pinions that bore me, amazed me the more ; 

I gazed on the plumage of beauty so rare, 

As they waved in the sun, at each effort to soar. 

My spirit aspired to a happier sphere, 
The buoyancy even of youth was surpassed ; 
One effort at flight not divested of fear, 
And the flutter ensued, was successful at last. 

And leaving the earth and its toils, I look down, 
Or upwards I glance, and behold with surprise, 
The wonders of God, and the firmament strewn 
With myriads of brilliants, that spangle the skies. 

The ocean of ether around me, each star 

Of the zodiac shining, above either pole, 

Of the earth as a point in the distance afar, 

And one flap of the wing, serves to traverse the whole. 


The bounds which confine the wide sea, and the height 
Which separates earth from the heavenly spheres ; 
The moon as a shield I behold in my flight, 
And each spot on its surface distinctly appears. 

The valley well known of Matanzas is nigh, 
And trembling, my brother, I gaze on that place, 
Where, cold and forgotten, the ashes now lie 
Of the parents we clung to in boyhood's embrace. 

How the sight of that place sent the blood to my heart, 
I shudder e'en now to recal it, and yet 
Fd remind you of wrongs we were wont to impart, 
And to weep o'er in secret at night when we met. 

I gazed on that spot, where together we played, 
Our innocent pastimes came fresh to my mind ; 
Our mother's caresses, the fondness displayed, 
In each word and each look of a parent so kind. 

The ridge of that mountain, whose fastnesses wild 
The fugitives seek, I beheld, and around 
Plantations were scattered of late where they toiled, 
And the graves of their comrades are now to be found. 


The mill-house was there and its turmoil of old. 
But sick of these scenes, for too well they were known ; 
I looked for the stream, where in childhood I strolled 
By its banks when a moment of peace was my own. 

But no recollections of pleasure or pain 
Could drive the remembrance of thee from my core ; 
I sought my dear brother, embraced him again. 
But found him a slave, as I left him before. 

" Oh, Florence,"" I cried, " let us fly from this place. 
The (doom of a dungeon is here to anrio-ht ! 
"Tis dreadful as death or its terrors to face. 
And hateful itself as the scaffold to sight. 

" Let us fly on the wings of the wind, let us fly, 
And for ever abandon so hostile a soil 
As this place of our birth, where our doom is to sigh 
In hapless despair, and in bondage to toil." 

To my bosom I clasped him, and winging once more 
My flight in the air. I ascend with my charge, 
The sultan I seem of the winds, as 1 soar, 
A monarch whose will, sets the prisoner at large. 

1 10 THE DREAM. 

Like Icarus boldly ascending on high, 

I laugh at the anger of Minos, and see 

A haven of freedom aloft, where I fly, 

And the place where the slave from his master is free. 

The rapture which Dsedalus inly approved 
To Athens from Crete, when pursuing his flight, 
On impetuous pinions, I felt when I moved 
Through an ocean of ether, so boundless and bright. 

But the moment I triumphed o'er earth and its fears, 
And dreamt of aspiring to heavenly joys : 
Of hearing the music divine of the spheres, 
And tasting of pleasure that care never cloys. 

I saw in an instant, the face of the skies 
So bright and serene but a moment before ; 
Enveloped in gloom, and there seemed to arise 
The murmur preceding the tempest's wild roar. 

Beneath me, the sea into fury was lashed, 

Above me, the thunder rolled loudly, and now 

The hurricane round me in turbulence dashed, 

And the glare of the lightning e'en flashed on my brow. 


The elements all seemed in warfare to be, 

And succour or help there was none to be sought ; 

The fate of poor Icarus seemed now for me, 

And my daring attempt its own punishment brought. 

Twas then, oh, my God ! that a thunder-clap came, 
And the noise of its crash broke the slumbers so light, 
That stole o'er my senses and fettered my frame, 
And the dream was soon over, of freedom's first flight. 

And waking, I saw thee, my brother, once more, 
The sky was serene and my terrors were past ; 
But doubt there was none of the tempests of yore 
And the clouds that of old, our young hopes overcast. 






And translated by him from the Spanish. 


Cuba, of what avail that thou art fair ! 
Pearl of the seas, the pride of the Antilles ! 
If thy poor sons, have still to see thee share 
The pangs of bondage, and its thousand ills ; 
Of what avail the verdure of thy hills ? 
The purple bloom the coffee plain displays 
Thy canes luxuriant growth ; whose culture fills 
More graves than famine, or the swords find ways 
To glut with victims calmly as it slays. 

Of what avail that thy sweet streams abound 
With precious ore : if wealth there's none to buy, 
Thy children's rights, and not one grain is found 
For learning's shrine, or for the altar nigh, 



Of poor, forsaken, downcast liberty ! 
Of what avail the riches of thy port, 
Forests of masts, and ships from every sea, 
If trade alone is free, and man the sport, 
The spoil of trade, bears wrongs of ev'ry sort ? 

Oh, if the name of Cuban ! makes my breast { 
Thrill with a moment's pride, that soon is o'er, 
Or throb with joy to dream that thou art blest ! 
Thy sons were free — thy soil unstained with gore.' 
Reproach awakes me, to assail once more, 
And taint that name, as if the loathsome pest 
That spreads from slavery had seized the core, 
Polluting both th' oppressor and the oppressed : — 
Yet God be thanked, it has not reached my breast. 

'Tis not alone the wretched negro's fate 
That calls for pity, sad as it may be ; 
There's more to weep for in that hapless state 
Of men who proudly boast that they are free, 
Whose moral sense is warped to that degree, 
That self- debasement seems to them unknown, 
And life's sole object, is for means to play, 
To roll a carriage, or to seek renown 
In all the futile follies of the town. 



Cuba ! canst thou, my own beloved land, 
Counsel thy children to withhold a curse, 
And call to mind the deeds of that fell band 
Whose boasted conquests, mark one frightful course 
Of spoil and plunder, wrung by fraud or force; 
Of human carnage in religious gear, 
Of peace destroyed — defenceless people worse 
Than rudely outraged, nay, reserved to wear 
Their lives away in bondage and despair \ 

To think unmoved of millions of our race, 

Swept from thy soil by cruelties prolonged, 

Another clime then ravaged to replace 

The wretched Indians ; Africa then wronged 

To fill the void where myriads lately thronged, 

And add new guilt to that long list of crimes, 

That cries aloud, in accents trumpet-tongued, 

And shakes the cloud that gathers o'er these climes, 

Portending evil and disastrous times. 

Cuba, oh, Cuba, when they call thee fair ! 
And rich and beautiful, the Queen of isles ! 
Star of the West, and oceans gem most rare ! 
Oh, say to them who mock thee with such wiles 



Take of these flowers, and view these lifeless spoils 
That wait the worm ; behold the hues beneath 
The pale cold cheek, and seek for living smiles, 
Where beauty lies not in the arms of death, 
And bondage taints not with its poisoned breath. 






Q. When was Las Casas's suggestion in favour of the importation of 
African slaves, first acted on in Cuba 1 

A. In 1523-4 three hundred negroes were introduced into Cuba from 
Spain ; and it is probable, that previously some had been brought in 
from Hayti. 

Q. From that period, during the first century of slavery here, how 
many introduced I 

A. From 1523 to 1763 sixty thousand were brought in. 

Q. From that period, during the second century of slavery, how many 
introduced \ 

A. From 1764 to 1789, thirty thousand eight hundred and seventy-five. 
Q. From that period, during the third century of slavery, how many 
introduced I 

A. Through the Port of Havana from 1790 to 1821, 240,721 ; to 
which may be added, for smuggled cargoes 60,180, including omissions 
of entries and importations in other parts of the island. 

Q. How many in all from A. D. 1523 to 1840 } 

A. Up to the year 1821, there were introduced 391,770, } 
and from 1821 to 1840, calculating the imports, ^751,776. 
20,000 negroes per annum, 360,000,) 

Q. How many now in life, in Cuba, of the whole negro race ? 

.4. By the census of 1827, 393,436, but it may amount to 500,000. 



Q. How many then in slavery have perished in the island of Cuba ? 

A, 450,000, because the slaves in existence amount to 370,000, and 
taking from this number 80,000 which may be calculated as the number 
of Creoles, there remain 290,000, which sum deducted from the total 
importations 751,776, according to Senor Arrango's authority, the 
mortality amounts to 460,776 negroes. 

Q. How many slaves in Cuba, and by what census determined !* 

A. By the census in 1827, 286,942 ; by the estimate of Saco, 850,000. 

Q. How many free-coloured people in Cuba, by the same census l 

A. 106,494, but according to Saco, 140,000. 

Q. If the slave-trade were stopped, in how many years would the 
slave-population be extinct, provided the system of management 
remained unaltered I 

A. In twenty years, or thereabouts; but the ordinary mortality is 
calculated at 5 per cent., although it is certain that on the sugar plan- 
tations the mortality is much greater ; while in the towns, on coffee 
properties, and other farms, the deaths are much less.t 

Q. In what proportion on sugar estates are males to females \ 

A. Three to one, that is to say, three men to one female. 

Q. Ditto on coffee estates \ 

A . One and a-half, or three males to two females. 

Q. What is the average mortality of slaves on a sugar estate ? 

A. Eight per cent. 

Q. What is the average mortality on a coffee estate I 
A . Two per cent. 

Q. Do the births exceed the deaths on sugar estates } 
A. Oh, no ! 

Q. Do the births exceed the deaths on coffee estates ? 
A . On many coffee plantations they do. 

(/. What is the current market price of an adult bozal male negro ! 
A . From 850 to 400 dollars. 

Q. What is the current market price of an adult bozal female negro I 
A. Rather less, from seventeen doubloons to twenty-one. 

* Saco's estimate was made, about four years previously ; there is reason to 
believe in that period the actual number of slaves in Cuba has increased to 
430,000. — R. R. M. 

f The mortality is, I think, under-rated that on sugar estates being about 10 
per cent., and on coffee estates 5 per cent. — R. R. M. 



Q. What is the current market price of an adult Creole male negro ] 
A. If he has no trade the same as a bozal, but less if he is a native of 
a town, and is destined for field labour ; but if he is a Creole praedial 
slave, and is destined for agriculture, then he is worth more than a 

Q. What is the current market price of an adult Creole female negro \ 
A. Rather less than that of the male. 

Q. What is the current market price of a child of ten years of age ! 
A. From 150 to 200 dollars. 

Q. What is the current market price of a Creole child before birth I 
A. Twenty-five dollars, or fifty dollars eight days after birth. 
Q. At what price can the slave-mother purchase the unborn child's 
freedom \ 
A, Twenty -five dollars. 

Q. How are negroes paid for in general, in cash or by bills I 

A. In both ways ; generally by the latter, together with interest at 
five per cent, a month. 

Q. What is a negro now worth on the Gold Coast ? 

A . He would cost from 60 to 68 dollars. 

Q. How do the slave-factors and captains pay for the negroes ? 

A. One negro with another, the slaves stand them in from 50 to 60 
dollars a head, buying by the lot in Africa, but the price varies accord- 
ing to the place where they are bought and the state of the market I 

Q. What kind of goods are sent from Cuba to Africa in exchange 
for negroes I 

A. Both goods and money are sent. Doubloons, dollars, aguadcnte 
powder, guns, copper vessels, all classes of cotton goods. 
Q. Are these chiefly of British manufacture \ 
A. Almost all. 

Q. How are these British goods called \ 
A. As specified in answer 27. 

Q. Where do the shackles come from, used in this trade I 
A. The chains, manacles, and other fetters must be of English manu- 
facture, of which class all descriptions of iron ware brought here, are 
known to be. 

Q. To what amount are goods sent from Cuba to Africa in exchange 
for slaves a-year I 

A . To answer this question it is essential to know the number of 
slave-ships, and of that we are ignorant. 



Q. To what amount is money sent for the same purpose ? 
A. See the preceding answer. 

Q. What number of ships may be employed in this trade between 
Cuba and Africa 2 

A. We yet are not in possession of sufficient data to answer this 
question with respect to the Havana, but as to Matanzas we can declare 
with certainty, that from fifteen to twenty ships are annually dispatched 
for Africa by various Catalans. 

Q. Under what flags do they chiefly sail 2 

A. Almost all under the Portuguese flag ; and those which proceed 
from Havana with the Spanish flag or American, change again in the 
Portuguese islands of Cape de Verds. 

Q. Where are they built 2 

A . The greater part in the United States, chiefly in Baltimore ; even 
some are constructed in the Havana ; some likewise in Matanzas ; we 
know of a schooner built in Matanzas, by a company of Catalans, which 
the curate baptized, as if its mission was for the redemption of captives, 
and its people a band of brothers of the order of mercy. 

Q. Where are they insured, what is the insurance now on slave cargoes 2 
A . They were insured formerly by the Insurance company of Havana 
from 25 to 38 per cent. This company has now ceased to insure vessels 
from Africa. Certain individuals here now insure them at prices 
extremely high. 

Q. What number of slaves, one vessel with another, do they carry 2 
A. The greater part of the vessels sent from here are schooners and 

pilot-boats from 70 to 100 tons ; these carry from 200 to 400 negroes. 

Ships and brigs also are employed in this trade, which go very far to the 

south ; the first-named ships carrying 800 negroes, and the others 500 

and 550. 

Q. Do the slaves suffer more or less on the Middle Passage than before 2 
A. Perhaps less, but not on account of any decrease in the trade, but 

on account of the imperceptible progress of civilization.* 

Q. Have you heard of any instances of half the cargo perishing on 

the voyage 2 

A . Yes ; and even more than half. 

Q. What is the average loss on the passage 2 

A. A loss of one-fifth part of the cargo may be calculated on. 

* I doubt the correctness of this answer.— R. R. M. 



Q. What ought to be the clear gain on a cargo of 500 slaves landed at 
Havana ! 

A. From 120,000 to 130,000 dollars. 

Q. If a slave-trade merchant has five vessels in the trade, and four are 
captured, if one arrives safe does he lose or gain I 

A . He loses the expense of an expedition to the coast amounting to 
40,000 dollars for 500 slaves, these cost 175,000 or 200,000 dollars, and 
the gain on one cargo is what we have stated above. 

Q. Does the wealth acquired in this trade remain in Cuba, or benefit 
the legal trade of the island ? 

A . Yes ; it does. 

Q. What punishment is inflicted on those found on board captured 
slave ships I 

A. The Spanish government reserved to itself the right of framing a 
penal law, at the time of concluding the last treaty, to punish persons 
employed in the trade in slaves, but it never has been promulgated. 

Q. Would the punishment of death for this crime tend to suppress it I 

A. No ; the penalty of death inflicted in this case (similia similibus) 
would be only one atrocity opposed to another. 

Q. Has the government of Cuba instructions to suppress it ? 

A. Yes; and it would be well if the Captain-general had only the 
inclination to suppress it. 

Q. Has it the desire to suppress it I 

A, None whatever; because the authorities believe that on it depends 
e material prosperity of the island, from which the mother-country 
raws three or four millions of dollars a-year in contributions. 
Q. Have the Spanish governors of Cuba instructions to suppress it ? 
A. Yes; they have public instructions, wrung from the government 
when the English cabinet is importunate with that of Madrid. 
Q. Did the late Governor-general Tacon endeavour to suppress it I 
A. No ; it was he who protected it. 

Q. Do the Captain-generals receive a sum of ten dollars a-head for 
ermission to land the slaves \ 

A. Before Tacon's time, the subordinate authorities received this 
oney, but it is not known if the Captain-generals were privy to it ; but 
aeon organized the plan of this contribution so, that the whole of it 
ent into his hands, that is to say, eight and a-half dollars, not ten. 
Q. What other authorities receive money for the same purpose \ 
A. In the capital, no others ; but in the other chief ports of the island, 
the authorities, especially of the marine, participate in it I 



Q. What amount of money did General Tacon receive during the four 
years he was in Cuba, in' this way \ 

A . 450,000 dollars, and this fact is known and given from documents 
with the precise data on this point. 

Q. How was that money applied ? 

A . It was invested in bills of exchange, on Paris and London. 
Q. For what service did the eminent slave-dealer, Joaquin Gomez, get 
the title of Excellentissimo ! 
A. We cannot tell. 

Q. Was this Excellentissimo Senor a confidential adviser of Tacon \ 
A. We have reason to believe so. 

Q. Was this person appointed by Tacon to the office of protector of 
the emancipated slaves \ 

A . We are ignorant who the protector of slaves is, but certain it is, 
that he was charged by Tacon with the distribution of the emancipated 
negroes, and the realization of the funds which their sale produced. 

Q. Was Senor Gomez a fit person for that office ? 

A . See the former reply. 

Q. Has he duly performed the duties of his office I 
A. The duties of distributor and disposer of the emancipadoes, per- 

Q. Is there any other person associated with Gomez in the office of 
protector of emancipated slaves ? 

A . For that of protector — No ; but for that of distributor and disposer, 
there were associated with him, the Most Excellent the Count of the 
Reunion, and a member of the Municipal Council, Senor Cabrera. 

Q. Has that person been engaged in the slave-trade ? 

A. Yes ; he has been, and is, like the greater part of the capitalists of 
the Havana. 

Q. What was the price of an emancipated negro, in Tacon's time ? 
A. From six to nine doubloons each. 

Q. What may be the number living of emancipated slaves, (eman- 
cipadoes ?) 

A. We do not know. 

Q. Has a single one of these emancipadoes ever acquired his liberty I 
A. We believe not; but it has been said, that one did get his liberty 

lately, through the interference of one of the officers employed in the 


Q. Is it likely that the emancipadoes ever will be liberated \ 



A. Most certainly not, the government refuses to liberate them. On 
one occasion, some of these emancipadoes having sought their liberty, 
offering for it, the price that any person would have given to retain them 
in their service ; the government refused, stating that if they did, they 
might escape from the island — this was in the time of Tacon. 

Q. Was it the custom in Tacon's time to sell them for terms of seven 
and ten years ? 

A . Yes ; for seven years. 

Q. To what class of persons was it customary to sell them, and under 
what names was the price paid \ 

A. To all who sought for them — whose money was received as a com- 
pensation for the labour of the emancipado, who was already destined to 
be employed on the public works, as in the mending of roads, reparation 
of bridges, construction of prisons, laying out of gardens. 

Q. Have these emancipadoes, to your knowledge, been sold twice 
over I 

A. Yes. 

Q. Are these emancipadoes better or worse off than the slaves ? 
A. They are in a worse condition. 
Q. How may they be worse off \ 

A. Because even offering the price of their liberty, the government 
refuses to receive it, they are considered as slaves for life. 

Q. Do they receive any moral or religious instruction \ 

A. No ; except the few who find themselves in the hands of some 
woman of piety or individual in some obscure station. 

Q. Do they receive any wages for themselves 1 

A. None. 

Q. Are the intentions of the British government fulfilled with respect 
to them ? 

A. From what has been said it may be judged. 

Q. Is it desirable that the British government should apply for their 
removal from slavery here 2 

A . Yes ; and very expedient too. 

Q. If the British government offered to remove them free of all cost 
to the authorities, would they be given up ? 
A. We believe they would. 

Q. Was it one of the original stipulations that they should not be 
removed out of the district of Havana I 
A. It was. 



Q. Have they been distributed over the island i 
A. They have. 

Q. Have many of them been sold by Tacon to the Agent of attf 
British Mining Company at St. J ago de Cuba I 
A . We do not know. 

Q. Have you heard wherever one of them was on an estate, it was 
customary when the death of a slave occurred to represent the death as 
being that of an emancipado ? 

A. We have heard a great many cases of the kind. 

Q. And did the emancipadoes thus pass into slavery \ 

A. They did. 

Q. Have you any idea of the number of them that died of the cholera I 
A. It is difficult to krjow. 

Q. May I ask your opinion of the conduct of General Tacon with 
respect to the emancipadoes ? 

A. With respect to the emancipadoes, his conduct was infamous, be- 
cause he reduced them to a state of misery, worse than the condition of 
the slaves. 

Q. Are the emancipadoes in reality slaves or freemen 1 
A . Slaves ! ! ! 

Q. Should not General Tacon be impeached in Spain for selling and 
re-selling these freemen, under the pretext of his voluntary contribu- 
tions I 

A. General Tacon has not been badly thought of in Spain, and none 
of his measures have been disapproved of by the Spanish government. 

Q. What agent of General Tacon's received for him the ten dollars 
a-hcad importation fee on the negroes \ 

A. An adventurer who was his " major domo," Senor Luanco. 

Qt Did General Tacon, on his arrival here, make any avowal of his 
sentiments with respect to the slave-trade ! 

A, None. 

Q. Within what distance of General Tacon's country-house were the 
principal bozal negro barricones situated 2 

A. About 100 or 150 yards from his gardens, they exist still in the 
sight of all the world, the railway passes in front of them. 

(Signed) * * * * * 

R. R. Madden. 

Jlavuna, July 1st, 1030. 





BY R. R. M. 

Q. How many bishoprics in the Island of Cuba I 

A. Two; one in the Havana, and an archbishopric in St. Jago 
de Cuba. 

Q. Is that of St. Jago de Cuba superior in rank to that of the 
Havana ? 

A . It is, being the metropolitan, but its revenue is smaller ; in matters 
of dispute the appeals are reciprocal from one bishopric to another. 
Q. How is that of the Havana administered ? 

A . By the archbishop of Guatemala residing at the Havana, who was 
exiled from the former place by the government ; and shortly after his 
arrival here, he received from Rome, faculties to administer the affairs of 
this diocese as its bishop. 

Q. How is that of Cuba administered \ 

A. Its archbishop being absent, in spiritual matters, it is governed by a 
parish priest ; in secular matters by a curate, both supposed to have been 
appointed by the Spanish government. 

Q. With whom does the nomination rest I 

A . The Court of Spain have the privilege of nominating bishops, 
which nomination is subject to the sanction of the Pope. 
Q. What is the revenue of the archbishop of Cuba \ 



A. Not known. 

Q. What is the revenue of the archbishop of Havana ? 
A . It formerly amounted to 80,000 dollars, now it amounts to 50,000 ; 
the revenues have diminished, with the falling off in the tithes. 
Q. When the See of either is vacant, who receives the revenue ? 
A. The Crown. 

Q. What portion of that of Havana does the State receive \ 
A . The revenues of the bishopric are composed, first, of a part of the 
tithes ; and, secondly, of the church revenues, furnished by the parish 
dues, for births, deaths, marriages, &c. ; of which the State takes no 

(Note, it is the general opinion, however, that the present bishop 
receives only a small portion of the revenues of the See, the State 
receiving a considerable portion of them. — R. R. M.) 

Q. What is the number of parishes in the Island \ 
A. In St. Jago de Cuba, 38 ; in the Havana district, 117. 
Q. What is the number of friars or monks in the island ? 
A. In July, 1837, there were 150 monks (priests), 15 choristers and 
(35 lay -brothers. 

Q. Does the State give any stipend to the monks and friars ! 
.4. None ; they support themselves out of their own means. 
Q. Are tithes still a legal impost I 
A . They are. 

q. Have they been abolished by the Cortes, and when ? 

A, Their abolition had been warmly contended for in the Cortes in 
1838 ; however it has been determined they should be collected the 
present year. 

(}. Does the abolition extend to this island \ 

A. We imagine if they were even definitively abolished in Spain, the 
abolition would not extend to this island. 

(}. What is the gross value of the tithes of Cuba? 

A. The tithes of Cuba amount to 41(5,000 dollars ; the ninth part goes 
for the support of the public hospitals, to the Royal Treasury (Real 
Hacienda), which is also entitled to the tithes of the best property 
finoa) of the parish, which is called " Casa cscusada," the remainder into 
equal portions ; one goes to the treasury, and the other to the bishop, 
canons, and parish priests. 

(/. Do they extend to all kinds of agricultural products! 

A, They do not. 



Q. How many cathedrals in the Island I 

A. Two ; one at St. Jago de Cuba, and another at Havana. 

Q. Do the clergy receive dues for christenings, burials, and marriages ? 

A. They do. 

Q. What is the amount for a christening I 

A. Six reals (de plata) or three-quarters of a dollar. 

Q. What is the amount for a burial ? 

A. Seven dollars and a-half. 

Q. What is the amount for a marriage ? 

A . From five to forty, or fifty dollars, according to the means of the 

Q. What portion of these go the Parish priest I 

A. The fourth part. 

Q. How is the rest disposed of? 

A. Divided between the Bishop, the Curate or " Sacristian Mayor," 
and a church fund. 

Q. Can one priest hold two parishes I 
A. Yes, " ad interim." 

Q. With whom does the appointment to a parish rest 2 
A. The bishop — who nominates after the candidate has sustained a 
public theological discussion. 

Q. How are the religious houses maintained ? 

A . In the convents all who wish to enter are received, if the appli- 
cants are favourably known : — Bastardy is no hinderance, neither is 
obscurity of birth. The nuns require applicants for admission into their 
communities — to be persons of good origin — they require " liempieza de 
sangre." The stipend of a monk varies from 250 to 600 dollars a year, 
according to the revenues of his convent. 

Q. What is the average income of a secular priest of Cuba I 
A. According to the capital of his " capellania," from the income 
of which he is bound to maintain himself ; as no priest can be ordained 
who does not possess a certain capital, and this is called his " capellania,"' 
unless he is sent as a curate to some other parish, his stipend then would 
average 25 or 30 dollars a month. The parish priest receives from 800 to 

* This evidently applies to towns. In the country, where the priest has to 
come from a distant pax-t of his parish, I have known as much as six doubloons 
or 102 dollars, demanded for the marriage ceremony by the clergyman. — 
R. R. M. 


1000 dollars a year, the canons 4000 dollars, the inferior prebends 2000, 
and the superior prebends 3000 dollars — the dignitaries (los dignidades) 
4500, and deans 6000 dollars. 

Q. What sort of influence recommends a priest for a curacy I 

A. Their favour or influence with the bishop. 

Q. Are the clergy amenable to the common civil tribunals ? 

A. They are not, they are subject to the ecclesiastical tribunals during 
their lives. 

Q. Have any recent laws in Spain affected their privileges ? 

A. In Spain they have been deprived of the privilege of being elected 
deputies of the Cortes. 

Q. Are any ecclesiastical offences punishable by civil law 1 

A. Ecclesiastical offences are taken cognizance of by ecclesiastical 
courts, but crimes committed by priests, as citizens, are taken cognizance 
of by the civil tribunals. 

Q. Is it lawful for ecclesiastics to follow the profession of the law ? 

A. It is ; but they cannot plead in criminal causes in the civil courts : 
but they can plead in these causes in the ecclesiastical courts. 

Q. To what extent are the monasteries endowed with lands I 

A. The territorial property in the towns and in the country of the 
convents, of the monks, and of the nunneries, amounts to 3,052,085 
dollars by their own estimate, of the 11th of July, 1837; besides the 
other property of the convents which may safely be estimated at 
5,500,000 dollars more— in all, 7,152,085 dollars * 

Q. Do they possess much property in slaves ? 

A. The convent of Bethlehem is the only one which possesses a 
considerable number of slaves. The richest order in Cuba is that of 

Q. Are the libraries of the convents valuable ! 

A . Yes ; in books of scholastic theology. 

Q. Has any order been received for their suppression ! 

A . Yes, on their suppression in Spain ; but General Tacon opposed 
the suppression, considering them to have great influence in the country, 
which is false. t 

Q. Has it been acted on I 

♦ In English money, say £1,430,537 sterling.— R. R. M. 
f If General Tacon opposed their suppression without desiring or contributing 
to their reformation, then indeed his view of their influence was false. — R. R. M. 



A . The property of the convents has been put np to sale to the amount 
of 2,000,000 of dollars to meet the war subsidy for Spain. 

(But no sale was effected up to October 1839, R. R. M.) 
Q. Has their property been sequestered 2 

A . All their property has been sequestered by a royal order of Dec. 2nd, 
183G, promulgated in February 1837. 

Q. Has the state made any provision for them ? 

A . Notwithstanding the order, as they yet receive their revenues, the 
state has had no necessity of assigning any stipends for them. 
Q. Does the Franciscan order hold property in land I 
A. It does not. Its means consist of capital invested for its use, 
as pious bequests for funeral masses, and the service of religion on 
certain festivals, besides they seek eleemosynary assistance all over the 

(Note — This order especially at Guanabucoa is deservedly the most 
respected of all in the island. R. R. M.) 

Q. To what authority or tribunal are the friars amenable I 
A . To their respective conventual superiors, 
Q. How many nunneries in the island \ 
A. Four in Havana, and one in Puerto Principe. 
Q. What is the number of religious women in them I 
A. One hundred and twenty-six nuns professed, and nine novices, in 
July 1837. 

Q. Are the nuns allowed to leave their convents ! 

A . Once received they are not allowed to leave their convents. 

(Note — Except in cases of extreme illness. R. R. M.) 

Q. Is there any fixed sum for entrance into them I 

A . The sum of 300 dollars for each, some are admitted gratis. 

Q. Are the women who take the veil of the higher classes I 

A . Generally they are — but now not so much so, as at former periods. 

Q. Are there female schools attached to the nunneries ! 

A. By the royal orders of 1824 and 1820, schools were directed to be 

established, but now these exist only in the Ursuline Convent by its 


Q. Is there any convent of the sisters of charity here ? 
A. No. 

Q. Are these convents possessed of much property 1 




A. Yes ; for the dowers received, go on increasing. The convent of 
Santa Clara is the richest. 

Q. Are they possessed of property in slaves 1 

A . Some nuns, such as are rich chiefly, hold domestic slaves. 

Q. Which of the convents possess most property ? 

A. Santa Clara. 

Q. Have any of the nunneries been suppressed I 
A. None. 

Q. Is any portion of the tithes applicable to educational purposes ! 
A. Not any. 

Q. Have the poor, the sick, and the aged, any claim on them I 

A . The revenues of the bishop are supposed to be held in stewardship 
for these persons, and according as the ideas of such a responsibility are, 
on the part of a prelate, so are his duties well or ill performed. 

Q. Are there any poor schools supported by the clergy ? 

A . Not one. 

Q. What is the number of churches in this island I 

A. One hundred and seventy-one in all — of which 155 arc parochial, 
five monasterial, and eleven conventual. 

Q. What is the number of priests of all denominations in this island ! 

A . Four hundred and twenty -five in all, of which in the diocese of 
Havana there are 150 exclusive of parish priests, and in St. Jago do 
Cuba 50. In that of Havana 117 parish priests, and 38 in that of Cuba ; 
55 curates in the former and 15 in Cuba. 

Q. What is the total population of Cuba of blacks and whites ? 

A. Total population of the island, according to the official statistics of 
1830 was 775,105 souls ; and now J 830, it may be estimated at one million. 

Q. What is the proportion of the clergy to the population 1 

A. About one priest for every 2000 souls. 

Q. Is it incumbent on country pastors to visit slave plantations ! 
A . They go there only when they arc sent for to baptize or to marry 

(Note — For the latter purpose they arc hardly ever sent for to the 
estates. R. It. M.) 

Q. Are such plantations usually far distant from a church ! 

A. Yes ; there are parishes whose jurisdiction extends as far as eigbt 

Q. Is it usual for the slaves to attend divine worship ! 

A. On the sugar estates it is not, on the coflcc estates in a very few, 



on the smaller farms which are situated near a church, the slaves are per- 
mitted to go to church on Sundays. 

Q. Is there any instruction in the doctrines of Christianity on estates ? 

A. When the time of making sugar is over during crop time, it is cus- 
tomary to repeat the rosary on the estates, this is the only religious prac- 
tice ; as to instruction in the morals or in the dogma of religion, the mas- 
ters themselves are not conversant with them, " esta es la unica prac- 
tica religiosa que tienen, en cuanto a instruction de la moral y de los 
dogmas — ni los amos la tienen." 

Q. Is free access afforded to the clergy on the estates \ 

A . The parish priests are privileged to reprove the masters for ne- 
glecting the due instruction of their slaves in the doctrine and precepts of 
the church ; but none of them avail themselves of their privilege. 

Q. Are the country clergy usually slave-holders themselves I 

A. Yes; the most of them hold landed property, "fincas rurales," 
with the slaves which correspond to their farms, which they treat in the 
same way as the other inhabitants of the Island. 

Q. Had Las Casas any ecclesiastical sanction for the first slave im- 
portations I 

A. For the answer to this question, see the life of Las Casas, by Q,uin- 
tana, in his 3rd vol. of Espanoles celebres — here you will find that far 
from considering he had any sanction of the kind for the error he had 
fallen into, he had soon become convinced of it, and heartily repented 
of it. 

Q. Has the slave-trade ever had any sanction from Rome \ 

A . My opinion is, that no council ever sanctioned the slavery of the 
negroes, and most assuredly the Council of Trent does not. On this point, 
the opinions of the learned divines in Spain, in the 1 6th century, may be 
collected from the writings of Dom. de Sota, professor of Jurisprudence 
in Salamanca, and confessor of Charles the Fifth, who sent him as theo- 
logian to the Council of Trent ; he expresses himself thus, in his work 
de " Justitia et Jure," printed at Salamanca, 1540. — " If what is told of 
the Portuguese traders, be true, that they entrap unfortunate negroes on 
the coasts, then embark them as slaves ; it is my opinion that neither those 
who take them — nor those who buy them — nor those who possess them, can be 
said to have clear consciences, while they do not manumit them ; when these 
slaves are not able to redeem themselves" 

Q. Are the clergy generally advocates of slavery in Cuba ? 

A . The clergy here follow blindly the impulse of those moral causes 




which warp the public mind, and debase it to the point of defending the 
injustice of slavery. 

Q. Can the state of religious opinion be much lower, short of general 
indifference or disbelief? 

A. To me it seems it can not. 

Q. Is indifference or unbelief the prevailing evil. 

A. Indifference is much more common than incredulity among the 
lower orders and the uneducated higher classes, which are the most 
numerous here. On the contrary, the lawyers, physicians, official 
persons, and in fine the gentry, who have any pretence to intelligence, it 
is amongst these that incredulity prevails. 

Q. In what class has religion most votaries. 

A . Amongst the free negroes and coloured people, and also in many of 
the old famihes in the principal towns, and amongst those in the suburbs 
of the Havana. 

Q. Does infidelity arise here, from ill-directed studies or philosophical 

research ? 

A. Nothing of the kind ; in part it arises from the profoundest igno- 
rance of everything relative to metaphysics ; and in part from the reading 
of those books of the infidel French philosophers of the last age. 

Q. Does it allow any serious inquiries into the nature of revealed 
religion I 

A. Much less — here no other inquiries are made, except about the 
price of sugar and coffee. 

Q. Does it arise from the intolerance here of any other form of wor- 
ship than that of the Roman Catholic \ 

A. Neither is that the case, notwithstanding in these latter times, 
there have not been wanting men of intelligence, who seeing the corrup- 
tion of the clergy, as they imagined the chief cause of the deplorable 
state in which religion is found here, have desired to see tolerated the 
free exercise of all forms of christian worship. 

Q. Do you consider the abuses of religion arise from the influence of 
its connexion with the state 

A. The demoralization that prevails here is a complex fact, whose 
causes are various — viz., political despotism, domestic slavery, and 

Q. What influence has slavery on the religious sentiments of the 

people ? 

A. The influence which it ever has produced in every community 



where slavery exists : see the profound treatise on " Legislation," by 
Mons. Charles Comte, liv. 5, on the subject of slavery. 

Q. Is the laxity of discipline in the church of Cuba so great as to 
need reformation, and is that reformation to be expected for the revival 
of religion in the land. ♦ 

A. The church of Spain has produced learned theologians, who re- 
specting the evangelical doctrines have criticised with sufficient freedom, 
the abuses in the discipline of our church, which have frequently des- 
troyed the spirit of the dogma, and discredited the doctrines of our 

Q. How is the laxity of discipline to be remedied ! 

A . In the state of prostration in which we find the heads of the church 
here, I see no other remedy than to preach the faith in the periodical 
publications of the day.* 

Q. By what means are the removal of these evils, and the rescue of the 
people from infidelity, to be expected I 

A. It is to be observed, our clergy are, generally speaking, neither 
enlightened nor moral men, they are devoid of zeal for their holy mission, 
and unworthy of it — exceptions there are, but they are very few. 

Q. If the clergy do not call for the removal of these scandals, and the 
people do not think of the necessity, ought not the literary men of Cuba 
to originate the demand for the convocation of a council for this 
purpose ? 

A. It is to public opinion, and not to our rulers or authorities, we 
must look for these reforms. 

Q. Is it not incumbent on the intelligence of your community, on 
your men of letters, to come forward and help to remove these evils ? 

A . In this community, there are not above three or four men of let- 
ters, by profession, and of this number, one or two who are believers in 

Q. Is the gospel at present preached in the churches — or practised in 
the cloisters ? 

A. No ; it is neither preached in the churches — nor read nor meditated 
on in families, which are denominated christian. In the pulpit, they preach 
panegyrics, in the houses they repeat devotional words, but they do not 
pray, they mechanically move their lips — and this is all their homage 

* This opinion I cannot coincide in — the remedy would never reach the evil 
that preys upon the morals of the land.— R. R. M. 



to the Almighty, while in the cloisters, which already begin to be deserts, 
the precepts of the gospel have been brought into contempt.* 


Havana, Sept., 1839. R. R. M. 

* From this censure, I grieve to say but too well founded, there are two con- 
vents that are entirely exempt, one of Franciscans at Guanabueoa, and another of 
the order of St. Philip of Neri at Havana ; and from my own knowledge of both, 
I can say with truth, that the service of the church, and the rites of religion, arc 
most piously performed and observed, and the minsters of both establishments 
are most highly respected by those who attend their churches. — R. R. M. 






There is one subject which peculiarly demands the attention of the 
people and clergy of Ireland. The evils connected with it, no effort of the 
government can reach, but the subject is one, to which attention may be 
directed with great advantage. I allude to the use that is made in America 
of the extraordinary political influence of the poor people of Ireland 
who emigrate to that country, and to the efforts that ought to be made 
to give them right and wholesome feelings on the subject of slavery, and 
a just understanding of the value of those efforts that are made to right 
the wronged ; although the persons that are injured, and whose rights are 
outraged, are men of a different complexion to their own. It is impossible 
for any one who has not visited America, to conceive what an extraordi- 
nary influence on the government of that country the votes of the 
Irish people have, or how little beneficial use they make of the power 
they possess and exercise at the hustings with such extraordinary 

With regard to the opinions of the Irish settlers in America on the 
question of slavery, I speak from my own experience of this matter ; and, 
I may truly add, I speak of it with regret, and have witnessed it with 
feelings of surprise and sorrow. Surely they have been " as strangers" 
themselves in their own land, " and should know the hearts of strangers." 
The truth ought to be known, and the evil that exists of the ignorance of 
our countrymen abroad — of the national rights of men of all classes, 
creeds, and colours, should be remedied by all speedy and seasonable 
means. They should not be left to depart from our own shores, ignorant 
that there docs not exist in nature, in religion, or in civil polity, a reason 



for robbing any man of his liberty, be he black or white — that there is 
neither truth, justice, nor humanity in the declarations they hear, that 
slavery is consonant to the condition of negro men, has a sanction in 
nature, or is sanctified by the permission of any christian church. The 
fact must be forced on their attention — that slavery has no sanction from 
their church — that to devote one-fourth part of the habitable globe to 
perpetual bloodshed and warfare — to give up the vast continent of Africa 
to the ravages of the man-robbers who deal in flesh and blood — the ma- 
rauders who sack the towns and villages — the merchant-murderers who 
ply the odious trade, who separate the child from the mother, the hus- 
band from the wife, father from the son, is a monstrous system of cruelty 
that, in any of its forms, is intolerable and unjust. The state of things 
of which I speak I have myself seen ; and the experience I have alluded 
to, is the result of what I have observed on three occasions that I have 
visited the United States during the last six years. Of the necessity that 
exists for diffusing sounder opinions on the subject of slavery, I am sure 
I need bring forward no other argument than this — that if the political 
influence of the Irish settlers and emigrants of America were exerted in 
favour of the cause of the abolition of slavery in the United States, that 
system could not possibly endure ! That the Irish in America exert an 
extraordinary political influence — that they have it in their power to 
decide the great political interests of the republic, and to give the pre- 
ponderance to the party which actually returns the President of the 
United States, cannot be denied by any one conversant with the political 
struggles of America ; and with regard to the great question of slavery, I 
grieve to be obliged to state, that they are not only apathetic and indiffe- 
rent on the subject of the emancipation of the slaves, but that they are even 
strenuously opposed to the efforts of those who labour in behalf of this 
cause of justice and humanity in the United States. They have mistaken 
views of the men who are interested in it, and of the object, for which 
their exertions are made. But from my own knowledge of such men as 
Garrison, Tappan, Birney, Levitt, Jay, and Smyth, I am so fully con- 
vinced of their singleness of purpose, genuine philanthropy, and the 
heroic fortitude and truly Christian forbearance of those men, I can safely 
state, that never were the efforts of good men more needlessly suspected 
or more entirely misunderstood. 

I therefore consider it of the utmost moment that the persons interested 
in this cause in Ireland, and the clergy of the Roman Catholic church 
especially, should labour to inculcate sounder opinions on the subject of 



slavery amongst the lower classes of our countrymen ; and particularly 
that their opinions in reprobation of this accursed system of slavery 
should be made known as extensively as possible, through the Catholic 
priesthood in America, to the Irish emigrants in that country. There 
can be no doubt on the mind of any person who has recently visited Ame- 
rica that great ignorance prevails on this subject ; and that the grossest 
prejudices are entertained against the slaves by our countrymen; and 
in fact, that they look upon all those who differ from them in complexion 
as inferior to them in every moral attribute. It is a melancholy fact 
that, such is the evil influence of slavery in every country where it exists, 
that the notions of the best men become perverted, and that men are let 
down by such easy stages from crime to crime, that even the ministers 
of the gospel, of all persuasions, fall insensibly from the contemplation 
and intoleration of slavery into the practice of it. When I have argued 
with gentlemen of this class, holding slave property in Cuba, against the 
system, as incompatible with that of Christianity, I have been told that 
slavery was not only compatible with it, but had the positive sanction 
of the church for its support. I was not satisfied that such was the fact, 
and on anxiously inquiring, myself, into the truth of those statements, no 
doubt whatever was left on my mind that the religion they profes-ed 
had been maligned. The result of these inquiries I now lay before } ou, 
and the authorities adduced will enable you to judge, whether religion is 
responsible for the atrocities which are committed in Cuba and else- 
where, and even tolerated by some otherwise good men, who, not 
knowing the tenets of their religion, and being left in ignorance of its 
express ordinances and obligations, believe that slavery and the slave- 
trade are actually sanctioned by their creed, and not opposed to it cither 
in letter or in spirit : — 


" St. Anselm, in 1102, held a national council in St. Peter's church at 
Westminster, in which, among other things, it was forbid to sell men 
like cattle, which had till then been practised in England." — Butler's 

" In the great provincial council of all the bishops subject to the see 
of Canterbury, presided over by Archbishop Walfred, in presence of 
Kenulf, King of Mcrcia, it was enacted, on the death of a bishop, 



that, three slaves should be set at liberty, and three shillings be given to 
each."— Life of St. Willibrord. 

" The great synod of Armagh, at a period of general consternation 
declared 6 that the public calamities were to be held as an infliction of 
divine justice on account of the sins of the Irish people, and more espe- 
cially because that in former times they used to make bond-slaves of the 
English, whom they had purchased as well from merchants as from rob- 
bers and pirates — a crime for which God now took vengeance upon them 
by delivering them into like bondage themselves. For the English peo- 
ple,' it was added, ( while yet their kingdom was in a state of security, 
were accustomed, through a common vice of the nation, to expose their 
children for sale. And,' adds the historian, * acting upon the spirit of 
these humane and Christian views, the synod unanimously decreed and 
ordered ' that all the English throughout the island who were in a state of 
slavery should be restored to their former freedom." — Moore's History of 
Ireland, vol. ii. p. 232. 

(This general act of emancipation of slaves, it is worthy of notice, is 
the first on record in any European country.) 

The Northumbrians, according to Malmesbuiy, sold their own chil- 
dren for slaves, and the pious author of the life of St. Augustine, the 
apostle of England, reprobating slavery, says these slave-traders of Nor- 
thumbria " surpassed in barbarism and ferocity the negroes of this day." 
Life of St. Augustine. 

" St. Raymond, of Pennafort, concerted with St. Peter Nolasco the 
foundation of the order of mercy, for the redemption of captives. — Life 
of St. Raymond of Pennafort. 

" St. John the Almoner ( Patriarch) sent two bishops and an abbot to 
ransom captives." — St. John's Life. 

" St. Sulpicius Severus set at liberty several of his slaves, and admitted 
them and some of his old stewards to familiar intercourse and conversa- 
tion." — St. Scpulcius Severus. 

" St. Elcgius, Bishop of Noyan, was particularly zealous to ransom 
captives. When a slave was to be sold in any neighbouring place he 
hastened thither, and sometimes ransomed fifty or a hundred at a time, 
especially Saxons, who were sold in great numbers." — Life of St. 

" St. Francis Xavier walked through the streets of Goa with a bell in 
his hand, summoning all masters, for the love of God, to send their chil- 
dren and slaves to catechism ; and such was the effect of his preaching, 



restitution was made of unjust gains, slaves who had heen unjustly 
acquired were set at liberty." — Life of St. Francis Xavier. 

" St. Bathildes, Queen of France, forbade christians to be made slaves, 
gave great numbers their liberty, and declared all capable of property. 
The Franks still retained slaves, with this condition, attached to certain 
manors or farms, and bound to certain particular kinds of servitude. 
The kings of the second race often set great numbers free, and were 
imitated by other lords. Queen Blanche and St. Lewis contributed 
more than any others to ease the condition of the vassals ; and Lewis 
Huttin abolished slavery in France, declaring all men free who live in 
that kingdom, according to the spirit of Christianity, which teaches us 
to treat all men as our brethren." — Butler's Lives. 

" In 1610, the pious Father Claver was sent to preach the faith to the 
infidels at Carthage and the neighbouring country in Africa. At the 
first sight of the poor negro slaves he was moved with the strongest senti- 
ments of compassion, tenderness, and zeal, which never forsook him, and 
"t was his constant study to afford them all the temporal comfort in his 
swer. The title in which he gloried was that of the slave of slaves." — 
Hist. deEccles. de Berrault. 

" St. Gregory the Great (Pope) happened one day to be walking- 
through the market, and here taking notice that certain youths of fine 
features and complexions were exposed for sale, he inquired what coun- 
trymen they were ! and was answered they came from Britain." — Life of 
St. Gregory. To this circumstance is due the mission of St. Augustine 

St. Euphrasia on renouncing the world, writes to "her friends : — " For 
he sake of my parents be pleased to distribute their estates among the 
oor, the orphans, and the church. Set all my slaves at liberty, and 
'"charge my vassals and servants, giving them whatever is their due." — 
ife of St, Euphras. 

"Genseric, the Arian king of the Vandals, plundered Rome and 
brought innumerable captives from Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica, 
into Africa, whom the Moors and Vandals shared among them on the 
shore, separating, without any regard or compassion, weeping wives 
P, om their husbands, and children from their parents; St. Deogra- 
ias sold everything, even the gold and silver vessels of the church to 
edeem as many as possible ; he provided lodgings and beds, and fur- 
"shed them with all succours, and though in a decripit old age, visited 
hem that were sick every day and often in the night." — Life of St. JJco- 



" After the departure of the Vandals with their captives and an im- 
mense booty, St. Leo sent zealous Catholic priests and alms for the relief 
of the captives in Africa." — Life of St. Leo the Great (Pope.) 

" St. Thomas of Jesus, a most holy man, in 1.532, caused the money 
that was sent him for his own use by his sister, the Countess of Linares, 
and by kings Henry and Philip II., to be employed in ransoming slaves, 
and chose to stay, though no longer a prisoner, at the Sagena, or prison, 
where were detained above two thousand christian slaves, of different 
nations, whom he never ceased to comfort and assist with heavenly exhor- 
tations, and the functions of his sacred ministry." —Life of St. Augustin. 

" St. Augustin sometimes melted down part of the sacred vessels to 
redeem captives, in which he was authorized by the example of St. 
Ambrose. He reproved one Romulus for the oppression of his poor 
vassals." — I bid* 

" St. Raymond Nonatus took the new Order of Mercy for redemption 
of captives. In the discharge of his office of ransomer, he purchased at 
Algiers the liberty of a great number of slaves. When all his means 
were laid out in that charitable way, he voluntarily gave himself up as a 
ransom for the hostage of certain others whose situation was hardest, 
and whose faith seemed exposed to imminent danger. It was a saying 
of his, ' that a man is more precious than the whole world.' St. Ray- 
mond was loaded with chains and iron bolts, and cast into a dungeon 
where he lay full eight months, till his ransom was brought by some 
religious men of his order." — Butler's Lives. 

As to the character of slavery in every age, and the similarity of the 
outrages inflicted, whether on christians or pagans, we have but to read 
the brief account of its horrors, given in the history of the martyrdom 
of St. Xeiusianus and others : — 

" When the President of Numidia proceeded, with renewed severity, 
against the christians, tortured many, and afterwards put several to 
barbarous deaths, and sent others to work in the mines or quarries, 
whilst others continued their lingering martyrdom in hunger, nakedness, 
and filth, exhausted with hard labour, and tormented with daily stripes 
and perpetual reproaches and insults — in the words of Ncmsianus, 
4 though they had manacled their feet with fetters, marked their bodies 
with infamy, they could not reach their souls.' " — St, Nemsiunus. 

" A number of christians being taken into captivity, of both sexes, 
eight bishops wrote to St. Cyprian, imploring his assistance for the 
redemption of the prisoners. St. Cyprian shed many tears upon reading 



these letters, and at his recommendation the clergy and people of Car- 
thage raised a sum amounting to one hundred thousand sestertii — that is 
about seven hundred and eighty-one pounds, English — for the redemp- 
tion of the slaves. , ' — St. Cyprian. 

In 506, St. Remigius wrote to Clovis, — " Let the gate of your palace 
be open to all, that every one may have recourse to you for justice. 
Employ your great revenues in redeeming slaves." 

" Clovis sent a circular letter to all the bishops in his dominions, in 
which he allowed them to give liberty to any of the captives he had 
taken, but desired them to make use of that privilege in favour of persons 
of whom they had some knowledge." — St. Remigius. 

" St. Hilary, to redeem captives, caused the church plate to be sold, not 
excepting the sacred vessels, making use of paters and chalices of glass 
in the celebration of the divine mysteries." — Butler's Lives. 

" In the reign of Pope Pius V., fifteen thousand slaves that were 
found chained on board the galleys of the Turkish fleet were set at 
liberty."— Pius V. (Pope.) 

" St. John de Prado being sent by the authority of the Congregation de 
Propaganda Fide, to preach the faith in the kingdom of Fez and Morocco, 
he discharged himself with so great zeal, that the Mahomedans cast him 
into a dungeon, loaded with chains." — Ibid. 

u St. Margaret devoted her extensive alms to restore to foreign nations, 
especially the English, their captives, and was solicitous to ransom those 
especially, who fell into the hands of harsh masters." — Ibid. 

" St. Vincent, of Paul, when taken prisoner by the Mahomedans, 
with some others, states that they gave to every slave a pair of loose 
trowsers, a linen jerkin, and a bonnet. In this garb they were led five 
or six times through the city of Tunis to be shown, after which they 
were brought back to their vessel, where the merchants came to see 
them, as men do at the sale of a horse or an ox. They examined who 
could eat well, felt their sides, looked at their teeth to see who were likely 
for very long life, they probed their wounds, and made them walk and 
run in all paces, lift up burdens and wrestle, to judge of their strength." 
— Life of St. Vincent of Paul. 

St. Vincent, like St. Patrick, was a runaw r ay slave. The fact of their 
flight is a sufficient condemnation of slavery. 

" The French and Burgundians laid siege to Aries in 508, and a great 
number of captives were brought into the city. St. Cesarius furnished 
them with clothes and victuals, and employed in relieving them the 



whole treasury of the church. He stripped the pillars and rails of the 
silver with which they were adorned, and melted down, and gave away 
the very censers, chalices, and paters, saying, 6 Our Lord celebrated his 
last supper in mean earthen dishes, not in plate, and we need not scruple 
to part with his vessels to ransom those whom He has redeemed with 
His life. I would fain know if those who censure what we do, would 
not be glad to be ransomed themselves in like manner, were the same 
misfortune to befal them.' " — Life of St. Cesarius. 

Lactantius says, " that the redeeming of captives enters not less into the 
obligations of justice and tender charity, which I rank even above the 
gifts of munificence. The exercise of the latter requires riches, it does 
not always pretend to the pure sentiment of justice. It is only the just, 
properly so called, who make it a duty to feed the poor, to redeem 

" Beneficence is exercised towards a relation, towards a friend ; is there 
so much merit in that I It is only acquitting a rigorous debt imposed 
by nature, by decorum, by interest in one's reputation, and fear of 
blame ; but to be generous to a stranger, to an unknown one, that is 
true merit, because humanity alone has been the mover of it ; but to 
deliver captives, to assist the widow and the orphan, to succour the sick, 
to bury the dead to whom their family have not been able to render that 
office, it is not only following a natural sentiment — it is obeying the law 
of God — it is offering one's-self as a victim to the Lord, and preparing 
for one's-self a magnificent reward." — Lactantius Divine Institutions, 
p. 587, &c. 

" Give for the redeeming of captives this gold that you destine for the 
buying of animals." — Ibid. p. 587, &c. 

" You expect from your slave that he be devoted to you, man of a 
day ! Is this slave less a man than you \ He came into the world on 
the same conditions, your equal by his birth, by his death, provided 
with the same organs, endowed as well as you with a reasoning soul, 
called to the same hopes, subject to the same laws, as well for the present 
life as for the time to come ; you oblige him to obey you and to be 
subject to you, and if he happen to forget for one moment the right you 
have to command him, if he neglects to execute your orders with a 
rigorous precision — misfortune to him ! Imperious master, unpitiable 
executor of the rights of your domination, you spare neither blows, nor 
whips, nor privations ; you chastise him by the punishment of hunger 
and thirst, you strip him, often you load him with chains and shut him 



up in a dungeon. Miserable man ! While you know so well how to 
maintain your quality of master over a man, you are not willing to 
recognise the Master and Lord of all men!" — St. Cyprian. Treatise 
against Demetrius. 

" Justice teaches men to know God and to love men, to love and 
support one another, being all equally the children of God." — Lactantius 
on Justice. 

" Both religion and humanity make it a duty for us to work for the 
deliverance of the captive. They are sanctuaries of Jesus Christ, who 
have fallen into the hands of the infidel. It is Jesus Christ himself 
whom we ought to consider in our captive brothers ; it is him whom we 
should deliver from captivity — him who has delivered us from death. 
We must redeem with a little money him, who has redeemed us with all 
his blood. Can we, no matter how little humanity we possess, believe 
that these captives are strangers to any one of us, who altogether form 
but one family 2" — St. Cyprian to the Bishops of Numidia. 

" Of evils similar to slavery Tertullian says — One cannot argue from 
scripture that it condemns such practices, but will it be argued from its 
silence that it does not condemn them V — Tertull. Lib. Cor., p. 121. 

St. Ambrose orders that, for the redeeming of captives, the priests sell 
if necessary, even the sacred vases. " The God who had not a piece of 
gold to give to his apostles, when he sent them to preach the gospel, had 
not more to give to his churches when he founded them. The church 
has gold, not to keep it, but to distribute it to the indigent in their neces- 
sities. To what good is it to keep that of which we do not make use ? 
Do we not know of all the gold and silver, that the Assyrians found in the 
Temple of Jerusalem I Is it not better for the priest to make sure of the 
riches of the sanctuary, by placing them in the hands of the poor, than to 
expose them to become the prey of our insolent enemy I The Lord will 
say to us, * Why, under your eye, do the poor die with hunger ? With the 
gold that you have, you could give alms. Why are so many unfortunate 
beings subject to slavery, even to death, for want of being redeemed with 
gold I Men are better worth preserving than metals. What have you 
to reply ! c Must we deprive the temple of its ornaments V But the 
Lord will reply, ' It is not necessary that the sacred things be clothed in 
gold.' "—St. Ambrose. Treatise de Officiis, p. 103. 

As to the express doctrines of the Catholic church on the subject of 
slavery, I find them laid down in terms that cannot be misunderstood in 
" The Catechism of the Council of Trent," written under the direction, 



and with the sanction, of Pope Pius V., under the head, " Seventh Com- 
mandment," it is laid down : — 

The unjust possession and use of what belongs to another are expressed 
by different names. To take anything from a private individual is called 
theft ; from the public, peculation ; to enslave and appropriate the free- 
man or servant of another, is called e man-stealing.' — Catechism of the 
Council of Trent. Ed. Aug., p. 47. 

And then, at p. 420, the doctrine is further explained — " That those 
who pay not the labourer his hire are guilty of rapine, and are exhorted 
to repentance." In the words of Scripture : " Behold the hire of the 
labourers who have reaped down your fields, which by fraud has been 
kept back by you, crieth aloud, and the cry of them hath entered into 
the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth." 

In Bancroft's recent History of the United States, a work written in 
no very favourable spirit to the Roman Catholic religion, the writer 
acknowledges that " the slave-trade between Africa and America was 
never sanctioned by the See of Rome ; the spirit of the Roman church 
was against it." 

" The Cardinal Ximenes, the gifted coadjutor of Ferdinand and Isabella, 
the stern grand inquisitor, the austere but ambitious Franciscan, saw in 
advance the danger which it required centuries to reveal, and refused to 
sanction the introduction of negroes into Hispaniola, believing that the 
favourable climate would increase their numbers, and infallibly lead them 
to revolt." — Bancroft, vol. i. 

With respect to the part which the benevolent Las Casas had in the 
introduction of negroes into the West Indies and America, Bancroft 
states, ( what is, indeed, to be collected from the best of the old Spanish 
historians), that " it was not Las Casas who first suggested the plan of 
transporting African slaves to Hisbaniola." — Bancroft, vol. i. p. 109. 

But what Bancroft did not know, and what the earlier historians have 
not noticed, has been brought to light by the researches of the recent his- 
torians of the apostle of the Indians. In the last document existing in 
the handwriting of Las Casas, Quintana informs us that Las Casas ex- 
presses himself in the most contrite terms for having been instrumental 
to the int roduction of African negroes, with a view of preventing the utter 
extinction of the Indian race ; because in Las Casas' own words, " la 
misma razon es de ellos que de los Indios." The one had the same privi- 
leges and rights as the other ; and, therefore, " he repented, judging 
himself (in his own words) guilty by inadvertence, and trusting that 



this plea would hold him excused before the Divine J udge of all." And 
well may his historian say, " Esta confession de su error, tan severa como 
candoroso, debe desarmar el rigor de la philosophia, y absolverte adelante 
de la posteridad." 


Pope Leo the Tenth declared that " not the Christian religion only 
but nature herself, cries out against the state of slavery." — Vide Ban- 
croft's History of the United States, vol. i. p. 172. 

Pope Paul the Third, in two separate briefs, imprecated a curse on the 
Europeans who should enslave Indians or any other class of men. 1537. 
( See the brief in Remusal, Hist, de Chiappa, book 3, chap. 16.) 

Pope Urban the Eighth issued another bull, still more expressly con- 
demnatory of the slave-trade, east or west, dated 1639, and addressed to 
the Apostolic Chamber in Portugal. 

Pope Benedict the Fourteenth confirmed these decrees by a new bull, 
addressed to the government authorities of the Brazils, in 1741. 

Pope Zachaiy, on certain Venetian merchants having bought at Rome 
many slaves, to sell to the Moors in Africa, promptly forbade such an 
iniquitous traffic, and, paying the merchants their price, gave these slaves 
their liberty. — Vide Butler's Life of Zachary. 

Pope Pius the Second, even earlier, in 1402, when Portuguese dominion 
was extended into Guinea, wrote letters to the Portuguese bishop pro- 
ceeding thither, gravely animadverting on those Christians who carried 
away people into slavery. 

Pius the Seventh, moved by the same spirit, concerted with the Euro- 
pean government the means of suppressing this odious trade. 

And finally, I refer to the recent bull of Gregory the Sixteenth for the 
abolition of slavery and the negro slave-trade — a document which {must 
be considered calculated to effect much good in Cuba and other slave 
countries ; and also to a memorial addressed to the Roman Catholic prelates 
on the subject of the communication of this express denunciation of the 
traffic in slaves, and the holding of those in bondage wrongfully and 
illegally enslaved.* 

* The following is a copy of the memorial addressed to the Catholic Arch- 
bishops and Bishops in Ireland, in Synod assembled: 

My Lords, — The subject on which I presume to address your lordships, is one 
of great interest to religion and to humanity ; and the expression of your lord- 
ships' opinion on it of vast importance at the present juncture. The advantage 






Placed as we are on the supreme seat of the apostles, and acting, 
though by no merits of our own, as the vicegerent of Jesus Christ, the 
Son of God, who, through his great mercy condescended to make himself 
man and to die for the redemption of the world, we regard as a duty 
devolving on our pastoral functions that we endeavour to turn aside our 
faithful flocks entirely from the inhuman traffic in negroes, or any other 
human beings whatsoever. Beyond a doubt, when the light of the 
Gospel first began to diffuse itself, those unhappy persons who were 

can hardly be overrated of giving the effect of a general publicity to the late 
rescript of his holiness the Pope for the suppression of the odious traffic inhuman 
beings, and the unhallowed system of slavery that has grown out of it. 

I humbly trust, that your lordships will consider less the insignificance of the 
person who addresses you, than the great necessity of adopting the course he has 
ventured to suggest. In the opinion of some of the best and ablest supporters of 
this cause, your lordships' publication and interpretation of this rescript, would 
be most eminently serviceable to the interests of humanity, which its object is to 
promote and to protect. The necessity of taking some step for the purpose of 
making our countrymen in America acquainted with the obligation which this 
bull so forcibly points out, is universally felt by the advocates of this cause. 

My Lords, in venturing to lay before your lordships a document containing a 
report of an address lately delivered in this city, on this subject, and making use 
of arguments founded on the opinions of its divines, and the decrees of its coun- 
cils — the apparent presumption of one like me referring to such authorities, I 
trust, will be overlooked, and the object I had in view alone considered, that of 
taking away a plea, or a pretence, for the continuance of an evil that only wants 
the more recent condemnation of our ecclesiastical authorities for its universal re- 
probation. And thus a scandal to our people, and a pretext for censure, would be 
removed. In those distant lands to which I have referred, my oflicial station 
affords me the means of knowing the ignorance that remains to be dispelled, 
and the calumnies to be refuted on this subject, as connected with the 
sanction which slavery has the audacity to derive from religion. 

My Lords, it may seem an astounding paradox, that the very poverty of our 
country should raise up a power in a foreign land, potent enough to influence any 
question of political moment that arises in it, and to turn the scale, whatever 



plunged into the severest condition of slavery, in consequence of the 
numerous wars at that time, found their condition alleviated among the 
christians. For the apostles, inspired by the Divine Spirit, taught even 
their slaves to obey their carnal masters as Christ, and to do the will of 
God heartily. They also taught their masters that they should act 
well to their slaves, and do unto them what was just and equitable, 
and to abstain from threats, knowing that the God, both of them and 
of their slaves, dwells in heaven, and that with Him there is no accep- 
tance of persons. But while a sincere and universal spirit of charity is 
especially enjoined by the law of the Gospel, and our Lord himself said 
that he would consider any act of benevolence and mercy done to the 
least or poorest, or denied, as done or denied to himself, it readily 
followed, that the christians not only considered their slaves, especially 

way its feelings tend. Such is the political influence of the Irish emigrants 
settled in America, and such over them is the authority of the prelates of 
their native land, that were your lordships' public response to the recent 
decree of his Holiness communicated generally to our countrymen, the know- 
ledge of its existence would probably not only be due to that publication, but, I 
might add, the question even of its very authenticity would be determined by 
your lordships' publication of it. 

My Lords, deeply interested in a subject which I am practically acquainted with, 
in a Catholic country, where slavery unfortunately exists, in all the magnitude of 
its frightful evils, I address myself to your lordships under a less painful sense, if it 
be possible, of the terrible outrages offered to humanity by the trade in stolen 
men, and the system that grows out of it, the injustice of which transcends all the 
other oppressions that are done under the sun, than I feel for the desecration 
of our religion and the scandals to it which slavery and its demoralising 
effects are the fruitful source of, in those Spanish colonies, where that religion 
is in name the religion of the land, and where this contaminating influence is 
extended even over sacred things, and comes within the precincts of sacred places. 

My Lords, even in those countries it is in the power of your lordships' opinion 
on this subject of slavery, to deal a heavy blow and great discouragement to it by 
the bare expression of your lordships' concurrence with the enlightened views 
that are taken of slavery in all its cruel forms, in the late -[decree. 

I therefore, most humbly and respectfully beg to direct your lordships' atten- 
tion to the advantages that would arise from giving publicity to the recent 
rescript condemnatory of the crime of slavery. 

I have the honour to be, my Lords, with the most profound respect, your 
lordships' most obedient humble servant, 

R, R. Madden. 

l 2 



such as were christians, in the light of brothers, but were even very 
prone to endow with liberty such as deserved it. Indeed Gregoriua 
Nissenas informs us, that such liberation of slaves was customary on the 
occasion of the paschal solemnities. Nor were there christians wanting 
who, stirred up by a more burning zeal, subjected themselves to slavery 
to redeem others, many of whom, that apostolic personage, our prede- 
cessor, Clement I., testifies that he knew. Hence, in progress of time, 
as the clouds of heathen superstition became gradually dispersed, cir- 
cumstances reached that point that during several centuries there were 
no slaves allowed amongst the great majority of the christian nations ; 
but with grief we are compelled to add, that there afterwards arose, even 
among the faithful, a race of men who, basely blinded by the appetite 
and desire of sordid lucre, did not hesitate to reduce in remote regions of 
the earth, Indian negroes, and other wretched beings, to the misery of 
slavery ; or finding the trade established and augmented, to assist the 
shameful crime of the others. Nor did many of the most glorious of the 
Roman Pontiffs omit severely to reprove their conduct as injurious to 
their soul's health, and disgraceful to the christian name. Among these 
may be especially quoted the bull of Paul III., which bears the date of 
the 29th of May, 1537, addressed to the cardinal archbishop of Toledo ; 
and another, still more comprehensive, by Urban VIII., dated the 22nd 
of April, 1639, to the Collector Jurium of the Apostolic Chamber in 
Portugal, most severely castigating by name those who presumed to 
subject cither East or West Indians to slavery. Pope Benedict XIV. 
subsequently confirmed these decrees of those distinguished Pontiffs by 
a new bull, addressed to the heads of the governing authorities of Brazil, 
and other regions, on the 17th of December, 1741. Even before another 
predecessor of ours, more ancient than these, Pius II., in whose age 
the dominion of Portugal was extended to Guinea, wrote on the 7th 
of October, 1G42, to the Portuguese bishop who was about to repair 
thither, a letter, in which he not only gives to that high functionary, 
powers to exercise with greater success his sacred ministry in those 
parts, but gravely animadverted on the same occasion upon those 
christians who carried away youths into slavery. And in our own 
time, Pius VII., moved by the same spirit of religion and charity as 
those who had gone before him, scduously interposed his good offices with 
the men in power, that the trade in blacks should at length be put an 
end to entirely amongst the christians. These injunctions, and these 
good offices of our predecessors, served not a little, with the help of God, 



towards protecting the Indians, and the other aforesaid races, both from 
the cruelty of their invaders, and from the cupidity of the christian 
merchants ; not to such an extent, however, that the Holy See can have 
to rejoice at their flocks having totally abandoned such practices, since 
on the contrary, the trade in blacks, though diminished to some extent, 
is still carried on by many christians ; wherefore, we, desiring to avert 
this disgrace from the whole confines of Christianity, having summoned 
several of our reverend brothers, their eminences the cardinals, to our 
counsel, and, having maturely deliberated on the whole matter, pursuing 
the footsteps of our predecessors, admonish by our apostolical autho- 
rity, and urgently invoke, in the name of God, all christians, of what- 
ever condition, that none henceforth dare to subject to slavery, unjustly 
persecute, or despoil of their goods, Indian negroes or other classes of 
men, or be accessories to others, or furnish their aid or assistance in so 
doing ; and on no account henceforth to exercise that inhuman traffic by 
which negroes are reduced to slavery, as if they were not men, but 
automata or chattels, and are sold in defiance of all the laws of justice 
and humanity, and devoted to severe and intolerable labours. We 
further reprobate by our apostolical authority, all the above described 
offences as utterly unworthy of the christian name ; and by the same 
authority we rigidly prohibit and interdict all and every individual, 
whether ecclesiastical or laical, from presuming to defend that commerce 
in negro slaves under any pretence or borrowed colour, or to teach or 
publish in any manner, publicly or privately, things contrary to the 
admonitions which we have given in those letters. 

And finally, that this our bull may be rendered more apparent to all, 
and that no person may allege any ignorance thereof, we decree and 
order that it shall be published according to custom, and copies thereof 
be properly affixed to the gates of St. Peter, and of the apostolic chancel, 
every and in like manner to the General Court on Mount Pitatonio, and 
in the field of the Campus Florae, and also through the city, by one of 
our heralds, according to aforesaid custom. 

Given at Rome, at the palace of Santa Maria Major, under the seal of 
the fishermen, (sub annulo piscatoris) on the 3rd day of December, 18S9, 
and in the ninth year of our pontificate. 

(Counter-signed by) 

Cardinal A. Lambrosciiini. 


Several documents of the time of the " Conquestadors" recently 
brought to light by the researches of the excellent historian of Las 
Casas, Quintano, present the character and proceedings of that benevo- 
lent man, in their true colours, and without concealing his errors, do 
ample justice to his noble virtues. He was born in the year 1474. 
Having accompanied his father to Cuba, and joined Narvaes in his ex- 
ploring expedition in 1514, he remained at a place where it was 
determined to found the city, now called Trinidad ; and on the customary 
distribution of the Indians and the lands " Repartimientos de los Indios 
y las tierras," Las Casas was rewarded with a large allotment, both 
of slaves and land in this neighbourhood, and he commenced life thus 
as a planter and slave-master, in company with a good man, of the name 
of Pedro dc Renteria, who, subsequently, from conscientious motives, 
abandoned his slave property. Las Casas in his own history says, he 
proseeuted his new pursuit with extreme energy, (for he could enter 
into no pursuit without energy) and it must be inferred that his slaves 
were severely worked " both in the mines and in the fields," for he says 
himself, he was perfectly unconscious of any criminality in holding these 
unfortunate people in slavery, in his own words, " en aquella materia 
tan cicgo cstaba por aquel tiempo el buen Padre como los secularcs todos 
que tenia por hijos." 

But at the feast of Pentecost, having to preach at Baracoa, and refer- 
ring to the Scriptures for a text, he happened to read the 34th chapter of 
Ecclesiasticus, and on coming to the words, " The most High approvcth 
not the gifts of the wicked, neither hath he respect to the oblations of 
the unjust, nor will he be pacified by the multiplicity of their sacri- 
fices." " He that offereth sacrifice of the goods of the poor is as one 
that sacrificcth the son in the presence of his father." " The bread of the 
needy is the life of the poor, he that defraudcth them thereof is a man 



of blood." " He that sheddeth blood, and he that defraudeth the 
labourer of his hire are brothers." 

An immediate reformation was effected in his sentiments, he deter- 
mined from that moment to abandon his pursuits, to renounce his share 
of the " Rcpartimientos," and to dedicate his life to the advocacy of the 
rights of the poor and oppressed. From this time, he inveighed against 
the slavery of the Indians from the pulpit ; but the Spaniards heard 
him as they would now hear a man who would dare to preach against 
the evils of negro slavery. In the words of Las Casas, to say, that they 
could not hold the Indians in servitude, was the same as to say, that they 
could not make use of the beasts of the field. " El decir que no podian 
tenir los Indios en su servicio, era la misma que decir que los bestios del 
campo no podian servirse." 

The word " Encomiendas" given to the Rcpartimientos, originated in 
a slight variation of the form used by Columbus, made by Ovando, 
which ran thus. To you, so and so, so man}'' Indians are allotted in such 
a district, to be instructed in our holy religion. " A vos Fulano se os 
encomiendan tantos Indios en tal cacique, y ensenales las cosas de nuestra 
Sante Fe Catolica." The abominable pretext of making the Indians 
slaves in order that they might be instructed in the faith, " que pudiesen 
ser doctrinada in la fe," from the beginning of the conquest to the period 
of the extermination of the whole race was never forgotten ; and now 
for negro slavery the same impious and hypocritical apology continues 
to scandalise Christianity in this Spanish colony. 

In 1517, Las Casas, having visited San Domingo returned to Spain, 
and was ordered by the King to send in a memorial of the remedy he 
proposed for the disorders in the West Indies, and for the protection of 
the Indians. The memorial was sent in, and a minute of it is still 
extant ; amongst the various remedies he proposed was one which he 
had before less distinctly intimated, M to send to the West India islands 
labourers from Spain, and also to accord the privilege for the 
inhabitants of the West Indies, to carry away negroes, (" la libre saca de 
ncgros,") and to bring them to the islands to be employed on the sugar 
estates, and in the mines, (" que llevados alia se empleason en los inge- 
nios del azucar y en el laboreo de las minas," ) vide Quintanas Vidas 
Espanoles celcbres, 3 tome, page 304, and the reason given for their 
importation is, that the labour was insupportable to the weak Indians. 
It is in vain to deny that Las Casas committed this most lamentable 
error, as many have asserted, and amongst others, the Abbe Gregoire, 



Quintana has produced the original documents in which this suggestion 
is made by Las Casas. But they who claim Las Casas for an advocate 
of the slave-trade, are little aware that he himself heartily repenting of 
his proposal, condemns it in his own history, lib. iii, chap. 101, and in his 
own words, "Because they (the negroes) had the same rights as the 
Indians" — "porque la misma razon es de ellos que de los Indios." 

The government immediately put the proposal in execution. The 
privilege of stealing away the negroes from Africa, for the short-sighted 
benevolent project of alleviating the hardships of the Indians in Cuba and 
San Domingo, was sold to a courtier, the Baron de Bressa. This worthy 
Baron sold it to the Geneose, and eventually it proved abortive, so that 
Las Casas was obliged to go through the provinces of Spain, soliciting 
the labouring people to accompany him to the colonies, and after col- 
lecting a vast number, and obtaining the sanction of the court, and 
making a great outlay for the voyage, the people abandoned him, and 
returned to their homes. It seemed as if thus by not prospering his 
undertaking in either instance, it was designed to show that God had a 
controversy with him. When the episcopal dignity was conferred on 
him, on reaching his see, the first use he made of his pastoral power was 
to deny the sacraments to all those who held slaves and refused to give 
them up, and those who bought and sold them, " y que se compran y 
vcnden publicamente en este cuidad." 

At Gracias adios, on his way from Guatemala, the corporation received 
him in their assembly with the most outrageous injuries ; the president, 
Maldonato, reviled him in the grossest terms, calling him the most 
opprobrious names, " Bellaco, mal hombre, mal fraile, mal obispo," to 
all which the venerable prelate, with his hand extended on his breast, 
his head bowed down, replied with humility, "I merit truly all that you 
pay of ine," yo lo merezco muy bien todo eso que U. S. dice Senor 
Licenciado Alonso Maldonado ; while the other magistrates cried out, 
" Echad de ahi a esc loco," " Away with this madman from this place." 
On reaching Chiapa, however, in the midst of his enemies, at his 
entrance into the city when the streets were filled with people who had 
been lately clamorous for his destruction, the majesty of virtue and 
religion regained their empire, and as he passed on, the cry was general, 
" this is the holy prelate, the venerable protector and the father of the 
Indians;" i: este es el Santo obispo, el venerable protector y padre de los 
Indios I" But in Spain, his character and principles were attacked 
with the greatest rancour, Dr. Juan Gincs de Sepulveda, a great thcolo- 



gian, a distinguished historian, and chaplain of Charles V., took up the 
advocacy of slavery and the slave-trade in opposition to Las Casas, in a 
work called Democritus the Second, he propounded the monstrous 
doctrine, that the Indians, and all barbarous people like them, were 
naturally slaves, and might lawfully be held in slavery, that it was 
lawful to make war on savages and to reduce them into servitude ; — 
" que se subjugan a aquellos que por su suerte y condicion necessaria- 
niente han, de obdecer a otros no tenia nada de injusta, (y por conse- 

quencia) que siendo las Indios naturalemente siervos, barbaros, 

incultos e inhumanas de se negaban solea suceden, a obdecer a atros 
hombres mas perfectas era justo sujetarlas por la fuerza y por la guerraa 
la manera que la Materia se sujeta a la forma, el cuerpo al alma, el 
apetito a la razon, lo peor a lo mejor." 

This work, which is still held in the highest estimation by Spanish 
slave-traders and slave-holders, was most ably and warmly refuted by 
Las Casas. At his departure from the West Indies the sinfulness, of 
slavery was boldly denounced from the pulpit, by the father Montesino, 
a Dominican ; but this good man was driven from the island, and had to 
plead his cause before the Emperor for preaching against the slavery of 
the Indians. 

There are incontestible proofs given in Quintana, vol. hi. p. 4G7, that 
the introduction and commerce of negroes in America existed previously 
to the suggestions and recommendations made by Las Casas to the Span- 
ish government. Besides Herrera's authority on this point, there are 
several others, and especially the in-edited papers called " Extractos de 
Munos en la collection de Senor Iguina." By them we learn that a 
caravel was sent to Ovanda, by the government, with various classes of 
merchandise, stores, and seventeen nej,ro slaves, " esclavos negros por 
sacar cobre de las minas y de este metal en la Espanola," long before 
Las Casas' recommendation. 

In 1510, Diego de Nicuesa, in his ship Trinidad, by order and on 
account of the government, carried to San Domingo, thirty-six negro 

1513. The treasury began to issue licenses for the slave-trade at two 
ducats each. 

1514. Certain Portuguese were captured off San Domingo, and 
deprived of their bozal negroes. They memorialised their government 
complaining of this outrage, and ended by saying, that they had been 
deprived of " ciertos negros que llenaban hurlados de la costa de Guinea." 



As to the Abbe Gregoire's denial of Herrera's statement of Las Casas* 
proposal for Negro slavery, the documents brought to light by Quin- 
tan a, leave no doubt whatever on the subject. Las Casas himself, in 
various of his works refers to it, and in his memorial in 1516, presented 
to Cardinal Cisneros, he suggests, que cada communidad mantenga 
algunos negros, " that every district should maintain a certain number of 
negroes." Vide Extractos de Munos. Previous to this memorial, when 
the government ordered him to propose some remedies for the state of 
things in " Tierra firma," he presented a memorial, and the third remedy 
proposed in it was, " que llevan francamente los negros y las negras." 
Idem. In his contract with Government for his Cumana expedition, where 
he stipulates for the privilege, for himself and his companions, of three 
negro slaves each, half the number males, half females. Even ten years 
after this period, in 1531, he maintained the same opinion and acted on 
it ; and in the representation which he made to the council of the Indies, 
bearing date 20th January, 1531. He says: "The remedy for the 
christians is certainly this, that your Majesty should be pleased to grant 
to each of the Islands 500 or 600 negroes, to be placed in the hands of 
fit persons for distribution among the planters, who now have only 
Indians." El remedio de los christianos es este muy cierto, que S. M. 
tenga por bien aprestar a cada una de estas Islas 500 6 600 negros, a los 
que pareciere que el presente bastaren para que se distribuyen por los 
vecinos que hoy no tienen otra cosa sino Indios." And in the same 
document he complains of the grandees throwing difficulties in the way 
of the Negro slave-traders, " no conceden libremente a todos cuantos 
quieran traer las licencias de los negros, lo cual yo pedire alcance 
de S. M." — Collection del Senor Iguina. 

But fortunately this good man at length discovered the signal error he 
had fallen into, and his consciousness of this error, and his repentance 
are fully detailed in his general history of the Indies. Wherein speak- 
ing of himself and his former opinion, he condemns the error he had 
fallen into, and thus speaks of it : — 

" And because certain Spaniards of this island, (San Domingo,) said to 
the priest Las Casas, after their manner of viewing things, that the 
Dominican friars refused absolving those who held Indians, if they did 
not relinquish them, and therefore if a license was obtained from the 
king, if they might not carry hither from Spain a dozen of negro slaves, 
who would assist the Indians. The priest according with this propo- 
sition, stated in his memorials, that it would be an act of grace to the 



Spaniards in these islands, to permit them to bring from Spain a dozen 
of negro slaves, more or less. This advice that license should be granted 
to bring negro slaves into these lands, the priest Las Casas first gave, not 
considering the injustice with which the Portuguese had taken and 
made them slaves." Speaking of the representations made to him by 
the Spaniards of San Domingo, he says, " they informed the priest Las 
Casas — suiting their statements to their views, that the clergy refused 
them the sacraments if they would not abandon their Indians, therefore 
they sought a license from the king to introduce about a dozen more or 
less of negro slaves, to enable them to relax the severity of the labour of 
the Indians. And the priest Las Casas consenting to this proposal in his 
memorials, asked this favour for these Spaniards, to bring from Spain 
the dozen or so of negroes, to relieve the Indians." Este aviso de que sc 
dicse licencia para traer esclavos negros en estas tierras dio primero el 
clcrigo Casas no advirtiendo la injusticia con que los Portugueses, los 
toman y haren esclavos. Las Casas evidently speaks here of the first 
recommendation for the introduction of negroes into which he had been 

In the latest production from the pen of Las Casas, he confesses the 
grievous fault he had fallen into, and begs for the forgiveness of God in 
the most contrite terms, for the misfortunes he had brought on the poor 
people of Africa, by the inadvertence of his counsel, " and this con- 
fession," say s his historian, " of his error, so full of candour and contrition 
— should disarm the rigour of philosophy, and hold his benevolent dis- 
position absolved before posterity." 

Let him, whose philanthropy is without fault, and whose nature is 
superior to error, cast the first stone at the memory of the venerable Las 


1 am well persuaded that, difficult as it may be to exaggerate the evils 
of slavery, it is possible to damage the best cause by a foolish effort to 
promote its interest at the expense of truth. And surely, a cause like 
this whose efforts are directed to the removal of ills, terrible beyond all 
other evils, that involves the question of life and death — that treats, not 
of the doom of one man, or ten thousand, but of the destiny of the whole 
people of a quarter of the globe — whose business is with the wrongs and 
sufferings of stolen men, and whose denunciations are for the atrocious 
deeds of christian brokers in the trade of blood, who roll in riches and 
move in the goodly circles of Cuban society- — surely it requires no 
exaggeration of the evils of Cuban slavery. ' They are great, indeed, 
beyond the power of imagination to picture to itself. All that I have 
ever seen of slavery — and I have seen some of its horrors in various 
countries — in Africa itself, in Asia likewise, and in America, even in as 
bad a form as in either of these regions — all that Clarkson ever penned of 
the magnitude of its evils, when this trade was at its height, or that 
Sturge or Scoble recently witnessed of its mitigated atrocities, in the 
transition from slavery to freedom, in the British colonies — and mitigated 
as they were, God knows they were bad enough to be witnessed even by 
those already acquainted with all the evils of this system, but still worse 
to be seen by persons whose eyes were not accustomed to the practical 
horrors of slavery ; yet all that these gentlemen witnessed or described 
in our colonies, or that I have myself seen there of cruelties inflicted or 
endured, falls infinitely short of the terrible evils of the slave-trade, that 
is now carried on in Cuba. 

It is little to say, that 25,000 human beings are annually carried into 
Cuban slavery ; that at the expiration of thirty years from the date of 
the abolition of the slave-trade on the part of Great Britain, the odious 
traffic continues in full force ; that no small amount of foreign capital 
is invested in this trade ; that British subjects, now that slavery 
is put down in our colonies, are embarking their means with impunity 
in slave properties in Cuba, are buying their slaves of necessity in 
the slave market, for there is no natural increase of the slave population 



of Cuba, but a terrible decrease by deaths ; which, at the ordinary mor- 
tality on the sugar plantations, would sweep away the race in slavery, 
in ten years, and, according to Humboldt's calculation, in much less, for 
he states this mortality to vary from ten to eighteen per cent, per annum. 

It is little to say that the mortality on the middle passage from Africa 
to Cuba is very great, that it averages at the very lowest computation, 
twenty-five per cent. : that I have known a single slaver to lose one 
hundred out of three hundred, nay, two hundred and fifty, out of seven 
hundred ; that between the wars that are made to spoil a village and 
steal its people, the slaughter in the strife, the spearing of the old and 
infirm, the mortality of the slave coffle on the frightful journey to the 
coast, often a distance of thirty clays from the interior, through a wilder- 
ness, where the land-marks are the heaps of human bones bleaching in the 
sun, the remains of the victims of former slave-trading adventures, the rest- 
ing place of former coffles, the final place here of rest indeed for thousands 
upon thousands of human beings, who sank under fatigue, and whom 
God mercifully saved from the slow death of Spanish slavery ; the further 
mortality on board the slaver from the sweeping pestilence of small-pox 
and dysentery, from the baneful effects of the contaminated atmosphere 
of a crowded slave-ship. From all the sufferings, terrible beyond any 
idea I ever formed of misery, till I saw that human hell, a slave-ship, 
crammed with chained men, cramped, crowded together, worn with 
suffering — spectres of men, breathing an atmosphere that came steaming 
up from the hot hold, with such horrible effluvia, that to me, somewhat 
acquainted as a medical man with the effects of the contaminated air of 
crowded places in gaols and hospitals, in countries too where the pesti- 
lence that walks by noon day, lives, moves, and probably has its being — it 
seemed to me astonishing that life could be maintained in so foul an 
atmosphere, or under so frightful an amount of pain and suffering as I 
had witnessed in those slave-ships that had fallen under my observation. 
The further mortality from the loss of the mutilated negroes on board 
the slavers, when from ophthalmia they become blind, or from scrofu- 
lous ulcers they become so maimed in their members as to be unfit for 
sale, at the sale marts of Cuba ; and to save the provisions, these worth- 
less and exhausted slaves are slipped over the side ; the further mortality 
from the waste of life after the landing of the slaves during the first six 
months of acclimitation, as it is called, consequent upon the hardships 
they have endured — when all these sources of misery are traced and the 
several amounts of mortality summed up, it will be found that for every 



stolen man, carried away from Africa, and who is alive in Cuban slavery 
at the end of six months, two human beings must have necessarily 

It is nothing to say this traffic is nefarious and appalling : why even 
the miscreants in Cuba, who are steeped to the very lips in slave-trade 
interests, foreigners and Spaniards, admit that the traffic is wholly 
unjustifiable — they condemn it freely, but they pray you to acquit their 
honour because the interests of the country require it to be carried on, 
and they have a very favourable opinion of the profitableness of it. It 
is useless even, perhaps, to enter into general details of the sufferings of 
these victims of the fell spirit of avarice that reigns in Cuba ; you hear 
occasionally, perhaps, of 400 or 500 naked savages having been captured 
in a small slave-schooner ; that every man, woman and child on board 
the captured vessel was brought into port, bare and naked ; that the 
men were chained, and the children were sickly and exhausted, that 
the women were haggard, emaciated, miserably attenuated creatures. 
The mind either recoils from the painful impression of so much misery 
or the picture is one of such general suffering, that no adequate idea of 
the particular wrongs of the wretched negroes is conveyed to the mind. 
The portraiture of a battle affects us less than that of a single captive 
such as Sterne depicted ; we see " the iron entering into his soul," and, 
yet wc know we are but gazing on an imaginary sufferer. 

Let me present to the imagination a real captive — one that has 
recently fallen under my own observation, and, I may add, under my 
own charge — one into whose soul the iron of affliction had verily and 
indeed entered — a single sufferer, a ncgress, taken out of a captured 
slaver, a wan, emaciated, listless, silent woman, a sullen savage, in the 
phraseology of Cuba, in cases of anguish and despair — a person who 
neither spoke nor moved from the place where she sat rocking her naked 
body to and fro all day long. There was a calm settled look of deep, 
unspeakable wretchedness in her regard, which made me dissatisfied with 
the explanation I received of the strangeness of her conduct, that she 
was a sulky ncgress, and showed no thankfulness for anything that was 
done for her, like the other women. The others were dressed in the 
new apparel which had been just given them, enjoying the good fare 
now provided for them, and celebrating with songs and dances the happy 
change in their lot. I thought she must have great reason for such 
dejection ; the poor thing left the food untouched that was brought to 
her at each meal ; her new clothing lay folded up beside her ; when 



she was asked through the interpreter to tell what ailed her, she gave no 
reply ; day after day she was questioned, and deep sighs were the only 
answers that could be got from her. 

Negroes are said by planters to be insensible to kindness ; they, no 
doubt, have so many benefits to be grateful for, that any thanklessness, 
on their parts, is too glaring a defect to pass unnoticed. The kindness 
that was shown to this poor creature was apparently thrown away, 
but apparently only, for by little and little it subdued the stern- 
ness of her grief ; and what grief could surpass her affliction — for her's 
was that of a mother robbed of her infant child \ One day I stooped 
down to speak to her, and endeavoured to ascertain the cause of her 
trouble, while I was offering her some beads, such as I had given to 
some of her companions, she burst out crying. It seemed at last as if 
she had found ease, in giving vent to one loud outbreak of sobs and 
sighs. She wept bitterly, put her hands to her breast, then stretched 
out her arms, started up on her feet, and, looking wildly over the 
side of the vessel, cried out for her child — and over and over again she 
repeated the words — in fact this was her cry the live-long day. Ask her 
what you would, " the cry of the heart," continually was — " for her 
child." It was long before this tempest of sorrow was assuaged suffi- 
ciently to obtain from her any collected account of the loss of her 
infant. It appeared that when the slaver was chased by our cruiser, 
fifty of the negroes were thrown overboard (twenty-four of whom were 
picked up by the cruiser's boats,) with the view of detaining the latter 
vessel, and of thus eluding the pursuit ; and this part of the story was 
confirmed by the account of the humane and resolute captor himself, by 
the account given to me by Captain Hollond, of the whole affair, off 
the Isle of Pines. And during this commotion on board the slaver, 
and the mortal terror at seeing their comrades flung overboard, this 
unfortunate woman lost her infant, but how, or at what period it was 
taken from her, she could not tell. No creature could seem more 
sensible of the sympathy that was felt for her than this poor woman. 
But how often have I been told these people are savages — they have no 
natural affections — the separation of families is nothing to them — the 
sundering of the ties that bind mothers to children, and children to 
parents, is nothing to negroes ? They do admit that even the she bear 
will pine after her lost cubs ; but the grief of a negro mother for her 
child is only a gust of passion that proceeds, not from any emotions 
of the heart, but from the violence of the irascible temper of negro 



women. Oh ! how often have I heard this language, and how often 

have I known these sentiments adopted by men — aye, even by 
ministers of religion, who tell you, in Cuba, as well as in America, they 
see no hardships in slavery — that the slaves are kindly treated, are well 
fed, and decently clad, and have nothing to complain of ! What do these 
gentlemen know of slavery I They eat and drink, no doubt, in the 
houses of the opulent planters in the towns, and they reason on the 
strength of the goodness of their entertainments, that the slaves of their 
hosts are treated like their guests. 

If I ask one of those reverend gentlemen at Havana or Charleston, 
how are the poor slaves treated in those places — They see nothing 
in the houses they visit to shock humanity. There is no scourging 
of men or women inflicted in their presence — the child is not torn 
from the mother's breast in the presence of the reverend gentlemen — 
they hear no howlings of grief or pain in these well-regulated families. 
No doubt of it ; these planters of the towns whom they visit are men 
of honour and respectability, and therefore it follows, that " they are all 
honourable men ;" all the tribe are necessarily humane, and every master 
is, by parity of reasoning, a kind owner, a merciful proprietor, and a con- 
siderate employer. I am sick of this language. I have heard it from 
intelligent, nay, even from " religious" men, and sometimes confounded, 
sometimes grieved, sometimes angered at such folly, falsehood I must not 
call it, I have asked these gentlemen, how often had they judged of the 
condition of the negroes, not in the houses, but on the sugar properties ? 
Had they seen these properties in the absence of their friends, the 
planters \ — Did they know how many hours the slaves worked ? — How 
great is the mortality on their estates ! — What is the proportion of the 
sexes \ What modes of punishment are in use \ — but I have never received 
any satisfactory reply, and generally speaking, these are matters of 
which our tourists are left in total ignorance. 


If it be true that negro slaves have always been treated with peculiar 
mildness in the Spanish colonies, it follows, that the slaves of the island 
of Cuba, for example, are a contented race, that they are not over- 
worked, nor underfed, nor ill-clad ; that the sexes are equalized, that 
the mortality is small, and the increase by births considerable ; that the 
amount of produce obtained by the labour of a given number of slaves 
is less than it has been in former years in the British colonies — that there 
is a considerable number of aged slaves on the estates — that the pregnant 
women are allowed exemption from hard field-labour in the last six or 
eight weeks of their pregnancy — that the females are not usually flogged 
— that the children are instructed in the elements of the christian faith 
— that the negroes on the estates are married by the ministers of religion 
— that they are suffered to attend a place of worship on the Sabbath-da}' 
— that it is not lawful to hunt them down by dogs when they are 
fugitives from the estates — that when they are scourged to death or 
killed by violence, the white man, who is their murderer, may be 
brought to justice, and punished with the utmost rigour of the law — 
but not one of these measures of justice, or means of protection for the 
praedial slaves are known to exist in Cuba — not a single one of these I 
have pointed out is to be looked for, to the law, and yet the law allows 
these things, and solemnly condemns every withdrawal of them. But 
the law was never framed with any reasonable prospect of being enforced, 
it never has been enforced, and, what is more, it never can be enforced 
against the planters, who are the transgressors of it, because in fact, 
these are the men who are entrusted with the execution of it. In the 
towns and cities, the case, is indeed, different with the domestic slaves ; 
but what a small portion do these form of the number of slaves in 
Cuba ! These domestic slaves, especially those of the opulent proprietors, 
comparing their condition with that of the praedial slaves, may be said 
to be fortunately circumstanced. They have the power, in the large 
towns and cities, of availing themselves of the privileges the law accords 
them. If they have a harsh owner, they may demand permission to 
seek another master, and it is compulsory on that master to sell them, 




either for the sum he paid for them, or at such a rate as the 
Sindico, or the special protector of the slaves, and the judges may 
determine, in consideration of any reasonable increase in their value, 
or in consequence of their having been taught a trade or calling. 
But how is the praedial slave to avail himself of these legal privileges ? 
The officers of justice in the country-towns are usually slave-holders 
themselves ; the estate may be ten, nay, twenty miles distant from a 
town ; the Sindicos, the Alcaldis, the Capitanos de partidos, all are 
planters. The idea of a praedial slave going to the mayoral or overseer, 
and telling him he wants a " paper," — a permission for two or three days 
to seek another master, (buscar amo) would be laughed at in Cuba ; the 
unfortunate negro who would make so daring an attempt to obtain his 
rights, would, in all probability, be flogged on the spot ; he dare not 
leave the estate to seek the Sindico in any adjoining town ; and, no 
matter what injustice may be done him, were he to pass his master's 
gate, he would be subjected to punishment, " bocco abajo,'' without 
appeal as a fugitive, and if he still presumed to talk of the law, and to 
insist on being taken before a magistrate to claim the privileges which 
that law gave him, he would then be treated with a degree of rigour 
beyond the law, as an insolent and rebellious slave. But granting that 
he succeeded in getting to the Sindico, the Alcaldi, or the Capitano de 
partidos, what chance of justice has an unfortunate slave in Cuba against 
the powerful influence of a rich, and perhaps a titled, owner? The planter 
is the friend of the authorities of his district, they dare not disoblige him, 
and if they dared, they arc at last to be gained over by a bribe, or got 
rid of, by a remonstrance to the governor, and a suitable present to the 
assessor of the governor, who is one of the great law-officers of the crown. 
How in the name of common sense is the law to be looked to, in a 
Spanish colony for the mitigation of the evils of slavery, or the protec- 
tion of the slave ? The excellence of the Spanish civil law is admitted 
by every one, yet the iniquity of Spanish tribunals, the corruption 
of Spanish judges, and the incomparable villany of Spanish lawyers, is 
proverbial in all the colonies of Spain. Justice is bought and sold in 
Cuba with as scandalous publicity as the bozal slaves are bought and 
sold in the barracones. Is there a man in Cuba who had suffered wrong 
in property or in person who would be mad enough to go for redress into 
a court of law, and expect to obtain it by trusting solely to the merits of 
his case \ How then are we to expect from any code, for the regulation 
of negro slavery, justice for the slave who has not the means to buy the 



judge ? How are we to expect to restrain the cruelty, or to control the 
cupidity of men, who have the means to bribe the bench of every 
tribunal in the land, to make " impegnos," as these solicitations are 
called, with the sons, and servants, the cousins, and the familiars of the 
judges in their cause ? Is it then to cedulas and laws, to parchment 
justice, or to statute book benevolence, we are to look for that peculiar 
character of mildness, which we are told, is the characteristic of slavery 
in Spanish colonies I Surely what we know of slavery in every country 
where it has existed, should be sufficient to satisfy every enlightened 
person, that bondage is an evil that cannot be mitigated by any partial 
measures of reform, so as essentially to serve the slave, to improve the 
system, to humanise the master, and thus to benefit society at large. But 
in Cuba it is not that I have heard or read of the atrocities of Spanish 
slavery, but I saw them with my own eyes. I lived for a whole year at 
the Havana, before I could so far disembarrass myself of the merchant- 
planter influence of that place (that deadening influence of slavery which 
steals so imperceptibly over the feelings of strangers in the West Indies), 
as to form an opinion for myself, and to trust to my own senses alone for 
a knowledge of the condition of the praedial slaves. It was only when I 
visited estates, not as a guest of the proprietors, seeing through the eyes 
of my hospitable hosts, thinking as they thought, and believing as they 
saw fit to administer to my credulity, the customary after-dinner dose of 
the felicity of slaves — it was only when I went alone, and unknown and 
unexpected, on their estates, that the terrible atrocities of Spanish slavery 
became known to me. I have already said, and I repeat the words, so 
terrible were these atrocities, so murderous the system of slavery, so 
transcendent the evils I witnessed, over all I had ever heard or seen of 
the rigour of slavery elsewhere, that at first I could hardly believe 
the evidence of my senses. Nay, I have known men of great intel- 
ligence, whom I myself accompanied over estates in various parts of 
the country ; and here in Cuba, so terrible were the admissions made by 
the mayorals or overseers on the estates we visited, that they could 
not believe they heard correctly the accounts that were given to us, 
even by the managers themselves, of the frightful rigour of the treat- 
ment they described. Till we made partially known at the Havana 
the evils that had come to our knowledge, on the sugar estates 
especially, there were persons who had resided there for years, 
who said they were utterly ignorant of these evils, but, who 
having read certain laws for the protection of slaves, and seen 

m 2 



certain cedulas for the nominal mitigation of the cruelties of slavery, 
had actually imagined that the laws were enforced, and the negroes 
happy and humanely treated. With respect to my own experience, it is 
not by particular instances of cruelty or oppression the fact is to be 
established that slavery in Cuba is more destructive to human life, more 
pernicious to society, degrading to the slave, and debasing to the master, 
more fatal to health and happiness, than in any other slave-holding 
country on the face of the habitable globe. Instances of cruelty enough no 
doubt have come to my knowledge, of the murder of negroes, perpetrated 
with impunity, of men literally scourged to death, of women torn from 
their children, and separated for ever from them ; of estates where an 
aged negro is not to be seen — where the females do not form a third part 
of the slave population, nay, of estates where there is not a single female ; 
of labour in the time of crop on the sugar properties being twenty con- 
secutive hours, frequently, for upwards of six months in the year, seldom 
or never under five, and of the general impression prevailing on this 
subject, and generally acted on by the proprietors, that four hours sleep 
is sufficient for a slave. These cases, were I to describe without a shade of 
colouring to heighten the effect of the naked outline of so frightful a detail, 
I am persuaded it would seem marvellous that such things could take place 
in a christian land — could occur in the present age — could be done by men 
who move in society, who are tolerated in it, and bear the name and 
wear the garb of gentlemen. There is an argument stated and re- 
stated hundreds of times in answer to the ordinary charges of ill-treat- 
ment brought against slave-owners, namely, that it is the interest of a 
man to give good treatment to the beast and " pari passu," to the slave 
he keeps for use, or sale, or hire. No doubt it is his duty, but is 
it his interest, according to his ideas, to do this \ Is it the supposed 
interest of the owners of our miserable hacks to treat the animals 
thus which they let on hire, or use daily, or rather, can you per- 
suade these people it is their interest to do this 2 Unquestionably you 
cannot. They act on the principle that a quick return of the money outlaid 
on horse-flesh, no matter how great the wear and tear of the animal, that 
is worked or hired, is better than moderate work with small gain, and a 
longer use of the means from which that return is derived. These 
persons deny it is their interest to spare their horses, and admit it is 
their interest to get the greatest possible quantity of work in the 
shortest space of time, from their hacks, and when they are worked 
off their legs to purchase new ones. In fact, it is on this very 



principle the fast mail coaches are horsed and run. But I have heard it 
said, however they may work them, it surely is their interest to 
feed them well. To this I answer, the universal feeling of the tribe is this, 
their true interest is to keep them cheaply. True it is, if they gave them 
treble the quantity of good hard provender, they would last much 
longer ; but you cannot persuade these men you understand their interests 
better than they do, you may indeed easily persuade the owner of a stud 
of race-horses of the soundness of your opinion, but the high-blood racers 
that belong in England to gentlemen on the turf, in proportion to the 
hacks and stage-horses, are about in the same ratio, as the slaves in Cuba, 
belonging to intelligent, considerate, humane proprietors, are to the 
wretched negroes in the hands of unreflecting, grasping owners. 

The murder of a slave by a white man, in no case whatever, is punished 
with death. During my residence in Cuba, some of the most atrocious 
murders that I ever heard of, came to my own immediate knowledge, 
the murders of slaves by their masters or mayorals, and not in any one 
instance was the murderer punished, except by imprisonment or the 
payment of the costs of suit. During General Tacon's administration of the 
government in the latter part of the year 1837, in the village of Guana- 
bacoa, a league from the Havana, where I was then residing, the murder 
of a slave was perpetrated by his master, a well known lawyer of the 
Havana. The name of the murderer is well known, and he moves with- 
out reproach in the goodly circles of genteel society at Havana, in that 
society where the capitalist who has acquired his riches in the abomi- 
nable slave-trade, by the especial favour of his sovereign, bears the title of 
" Excellentissimo," where the prosperous dealer in human flesh now 
retired from the trade, is a noble of the land, where the foreign merchant 
who still pursues the profitable traffic on the coast is the boon companion 
of the commercial magistrates of the place, and where the agents of 
foreign governments themselves are hailed as the private protectors and 
avowed well-wishers of the interests of the trade. The murdered slave 
of the Cuban lawyer was suspected of stealing some fc plated ornaments 
belonging to the harness of his master ; the man denied the charge ; 
the customary process in such matters to extort a confession from a sus- 
pected slave was had recourse to. He was put down and flogged in the 
presence of his master. The flogging it appeared by the sworn testimony 
of the witnesses who were present, given before the commandant of Gua- 
nabacoa, a colonel in the army, a gentleman of the highest character, 
commenced at three o'clock, it ceased at six, the man having literally 



died under the lash ; a little time before the man expired, he had strength 
enough left to cry out, he would confess if they flogged him no more. 
The master immediately sent for the commissary of police to receive his 
confession ; this officer came, and stooping down to speak to the man, 
he found him motionless ; he said the man had fainted. The brutal 
master kicked the lifeless body, saying, '* the dog was in no faint, he 
was shamming." The commissary stooped down again, examined the 
body, and replied " the man is dead." The master hereupon called in 
two physicians of Guanabacoa, and rightly counting on the sympathies 
of his professional attendants, he obtained a certificate, solemnly de- 
claring that the negro had laboured under hernia, and had died of that 
disease. In the meantime, the atrocity had reached the ears of the Cap- 
tain-General Tacon, the Alcaldis of Guanabacoa were ordered to inquire 
into the matter ; they did so, and the result of the inquiry was, of course, 
the exculpation of the murderer. General Tacon, dissatisfied with the 
decision, immediately ordered the military officer commanding at Gua- 
nabacoa to proceed to a strict investigation, de novo, without reference 
to the decision of the civil authorities, and this gentleman, with whom 
I was well acquainted, proceeded with all the energy and integrity be- 
longing to him, to the inquiry. The result of this inquiry was an 
able report, wherein the commandant declared that the testimony 
adduced, plainly proved that the negro had died under the lash in pre- 
sence of his master, in consequence of the severity of the punishment he 
received during three hours. I have entered at large into this case, 
because I speak from actual knowledge of the judicial proceedings, and 
on the authority of the judge in the cause. Now what was the result 
in this case, why, in due time, the Captain-general communicated to 
the commandant the law opinion of the assessor or legal adviser of his 
administration, to the effect that the report was evidently erroneous ; 
inasmuch as the commandant had examined negro witnesses in the 
investigation, when their masters were not present, which was illegal, and 
consequently all the proceedings were vitiated. In plain English, the 
murderer was acquitted, and the upright officer who declared him 
guilty was rebuked, nay, more, he was ultimately removed from his 
post at Guanabacoa. The folly of talking about illegality in the pro- 
ceedings is evident, when it is considered that the setting aside the civil 
authorities, and putting the cause in the hands of the military tribunal 
was a course obviously illegal, but rendered necessary in the mind 
of the governor by the base corruption of the civil tribunal, and 



the iniquity of its decision. On inquiry into the amount of money paid 
by the murderer in the way of bribes to obtain the decision in his favour, 
and the costs of suit, I found that the expenses amounted to 4000 dollars. 

The next case I have to direct attention to, has been given to 
the world in the recent admirable work of Mr. Turnbull on Cuba, 
a work which it required more honesty, closer observation, and 
a higher spirit of humanity to produce, than any work on the West 
Indies that has been given to the public. I happened to be with Mr. 
Turnbull, on the journey of which he speaks in reference to this case, 
when a person who accompanied us on our return from a sugar estate 
hi the vicinity of Guines, informed us that the estate in question was 
the terror of all the negroes in the vicinity. Of this fact, what we had 
ourselves witnessed of the management of the property, and what we 
had heard from the mayoral himself, left but little cause to doubt, but it 
was not without surprise we learnt that this very overseer, who was still 
left in charge of the estate, had recently been brought before the authorities 
of Guines on the charge of flogging one of the slaves of the estate to death, 
and that the result of this investigation, was similar to that of the case at 
Guanabacoa ; the body of the murdered slave was examined by medical 
men, and the usual certificate was given in all due form, satisfactorily 
accounting for the death of the negro, and in the eye of the law of Cuba, 
the slave that was murdered by a white man and expired under the 
lash of legitimate authority, died a natural death. The wretch who 
committed this act left the court, of course, without a blemish on Ins 
character, and the employer of this man, who had taken him back 
into his service, to the terror of every negro on his estate, this re- 
spectable planter was living at ease, fifty miles from the scene where the 
blood of his murdered negro was shed with impunity, enjoying the plea- 
sures of the Havana, and perhaps, by the urbanity of Ins manners, and 
the hospitality of his house, and the indulgent treatment of his domestic 
slaves, convincing the passing tourist, who was fortunate enough to be 
his guest, of " the peculiar mildness of slavery in the Spanish colonies." 

The next case of negro murder committed by a mayoral, of which I 
have to speak, came to my knowledge in the autumn of 1839. I was 
travelling in the vicinity of Matanzas, accompanied by a gentleman 
who resided in that district. I was informed by my companion that he 
had just received very unpleasant intelligence of an acquaintance of Ins, 
a mayoral of an estate on the Pan of Matanzas, who had unfortunately 
flogged a worthless negro, and the worthless negro had unfortunately 



died, and the soldiers had just been sent down to arrest the mayoral, 
and they did not find him. The misfortune of the mayoral touched rac 
indeed less than the murder of the slave ; but if my sympathies had been 
ever so strongly directed to the inconvenience the mayoral had been put 
to, by his flight, I might have been comforted by the assurance that he 
had only to keep out of the way for some time, and the thing would 
pass over ; or, if he were taken, at the worst, he had only to suffer in 
purse, and perhaps in person, by imprisonment for some time, if he was 
a poor and friendless mayoral. This was only another vacancy in 
the negro gang to be filled up by the purchase of a new bozal — another 
life taken away under the lash to be added to the list of Cuban crimes — 
another item in the long account that slavery has to settle with a just 

The last case of murder perpetrated on a slave by a white person, to 
which I will refer, took place at the Havana in the year 1839. This crime 
was committed by an American woman on a poor negro girl, under such 
horrible circumstances of cold-blooded cruelty, that I doubt if there is 
any parallel to be found to it in the records of crime in Cuba. The girl 
that was murdered belonged to a Spaniard of the Havana, who w r as the 
paramour of the American. This woman was possessed of property to a 
considerable amount. She had been long resident in Havana, and was 
somewhat remarkable for her personal attractions. Her friend, the 
Spaniard, had sent to her house one of his slaves to assist her, and 
this girl became the victim of her jealousy, it is supposed — for no other 
adequate reason, has been assigned for the cruelties practised on her. 
The cries of the unfortunate girl had been heard in the adjoining houses : 
at length the usual screams were heard no longer, but night after night 
the sounds of continued moaning were noticed by the neighbours, and at 
length they gave information of the matter to the police. The com- 
missary of police proceeded to the house of the American woman. On 
searching the outhouses in the yard, in one of these offices, converted 
into a dungeon, they found a dying negro girl, chained by the middle to 
the wall, in a state that shocked the senses of all who were present, so 
loathsome a sight, so pitiful an object, the persons who discovered this 
unfortunate girl never beheld. On releasing her from this dreadful 
dungeon, where she had been, she could not tell how long, it was found 
that the chain round her body had eaten into the flesh, and the ulcers 
in it, were in a state of gangrene. She was taken to the hospital, and 
she died there in two or three days' time. 



The monster who committed this murder, when I left the Havana, in 
October last year, was alive and well ; in prison, indeed, but in one of the 
halls of distinction, (salas de distinction,) where the prisoner who has 
money, no matter what his crime, may always obtain superior accommo- 
dation. She was visited there by persons of my acquaintance. She 
did not admit, that she had committed any crime, and she had no fear 
for the result of the process that was going on, except on the score of its 
expense. She looked on her imprisonment as a conspiracy only of the 
Spanish lawyers to get money from her, because they knew she was 
rich ; and in this she probably was not much mistaken. The teniente 
Gobernador, one of the principal officers of state, was in the habit of 
visiting her in prison, and encouraging her with the assurance that her 
suit would speedily be terminated, and that she had nothing worse than 
banishment to fear. A lawyer of the name of Garcia had defended her 
some short time before her committal on the present charge, in another 
case of cruelty practised by her on a slave, and he publicly boasted that 
if she had come forward in the present case, with a sufficient sum, he 
wmilcb have brought her through her present difficulty, without any 
more inconvenience than in the former instance. Such is the admini- 
stration of justice in the island of Cuba, and the execution of those laws 
which are thought, so mild in their character, and benevolent in their 
principles, that the slave who lives under them, is protected from injustice, 
and in consequence of their excellence, that the slaves in Spanish colonics 
are comparatively happy. It was said by the late Mr. Canning, that all 
laws for the partial amelioration of the condition of slaves, were neces- 
sarily defective, because such laws had no executive principle, inasmuch 
as the persons who were expected to carry them into operation, were 
interested in defeating them. My experience entirely bears out the 
assertion of Mr. Canning ; and both, I am sorry to say, arc at variance 
with the common opinion entertained even by well-informed persons 
in this country, on the subject of Spanish slavery. 

R. R. M. 


In the report presented by Mons. A. de Tocqueville to the Chamber of 
Deputies on the 23rd of July, 1839, in the name of the commission 
charged with the examination of the proposition, relative to the slaves of 
the French colonies, I find very important errors, on the subject of the 
laws for the protection of negroes held in bondage in the Spanish colonies. 
At p. 17 of the published report, I find it stated, that " it is of public 
notoriety in the New World, that slavery has always had with the Spa- 
niards a peculiar character of mildness ; one can convince himself of this 
in reading over the ordinances made by the kings of Spain, at an epoch 
when, amongst the other nations of Europe, the laws for the government 
of slaves were so strongly tinctured with barbarity. The Spaniards who 
showed themselves so cruel towards the Indians, have always ruled their 
slaves with a singular humanity. In their colonies, the distinction 
between blacks and whites was less than in all the others, and the autho- 
rity of the owner resembled more that of a father of a family, than of a 
master. The slave, better treated in these colonics, sighed less after 
liberty, which ought to be preceded by arduous exertion ; hence the 
legislator accorded him a right, which he very seldom wished to avail 
himself of." Now in the above statement, there are six distinct propo- 
sitions, and five of them are entirely erroneous ; namely these : — 1st. 
That negro slavery has always had in the Spanish dominions " a peculiar 
character of mildness." 2nd. That any sufficient proof of such a cha- 
racter could be fairly drawn, from the ordinances of the kings of Spain for 
the government of their distinct colonies. 3rd. That the Spaniards who 
had been such cruel masters to the Indians, had always " treated their 
slaves with singular humanity." 4th. That the authority of the master 
resembles that of a father of a family. 5th. That in consequence of good 
and humane treatment, the slaves seldom desired to avail themselves of the 
privilege of claiming their freedom by purchase ; and the only statement 
that is really correct in the whole passage, is contained in these words ; 



" In these colonies the distinction between blacks and whites was less 
than in all the others," — presuming the meaning of the observation to 
be, that among the Spaniards, the prejudice against the stolen people of 
Africa, on account of their complexion, is less than amongst the 
colonists of other European States. Such unquestionably is the fact, and 
there is too much Moorish blood in the veins of the descendants of the 
old " Conquestadors," for the feeling to be otherwise. Tolerably 
well acquainted with some of the British West India islands, with one of 
them, both previously and subsequently to the act of emancipation, and 
having seen something of slaver}*- in many eastern countries, I brought 
perhaps some little knowledge of the condition of men held in slavery 
to the subject, which has been the object of anxious inquiry with me, 
during a residence of upwards of three years in a Spanish colony, where 
slavery flourishes, and where upwards of four hundred thousand human 
beings, exist in that condition. Perhaps this extensive acquaintance 
with slavery in various countries during the last ten years, may have 
qualified me to form some opinion of the relative evils or advantages of 
slavery in a Spanish colon}^. 

The first proposition — " That slavery has always had with the Spa- 
niards a peculiar character of mildness," is one that I have seen stated 
in books so often, and heard laid down so frequently by merchants 
who have resided in Cuba — by naval officers who have visited the 
shores and harbours of that island ; and by transient visitors who 
have made tours of pleasure, or winter journeys, in pursuit of health, 
from one large town on the coast to another ; and seen the interior 
economy of one or two estates of opulent proprietors, what in our colo- 
nies would be called " crack plantations,'' that I really feel astonished 
at the amount of error that prevails on this subject — error so great, and 
held by men entitled to credit, that I have sometimes felt absolutely 
doubtful of the evidence of my own senses, and when the irresistible 
conviction of the excessive rigour of slavery in Cuba has been forced on 
my mind, and when I have dwelt on the appalling scenes I have wit- 
nessed, it often seemed hopeless to me, and even imprudent for me, to 
attempt to disabuse the public mind, and to set my experience against 
the opinions of many people, whose sentiments on any other subject I 
considered entitled to respect. But on a question of such vast importance 
and where erroneous sentiments are calculated to do so much injury 
to the objects of the solicitude of anti-slavery exertion, it would be an 
act of cowardice to suppress the truth, or at least one's strong persuasion 



of it, in deference to error, however generally diffused, or honestly 
adhered to, it may be. These erroneous conclusions, that Spanish slavery 
is of a peculiarly mild character, are arrived at by four ways of viewing 
this question ; they may be briefly stated as follows : — 1st. It is con- 
cluded, that because the laws for the government of slaves in the Spanish 
colonies are mild, that these laws are executed, and the slaves are happy. 
2nd. It is considered by some who visit the large sea-port towns, that 
the condition of the praedial slaves is similar to that of the domestic 
servants, and that because the latter are lazy, well-fed, and decently 
clad, and lightly worked negroes, the poor field slaves are likewise idle 
and indulged, kindly treated and contented slaves. 3rd. The condition 
of the slaves is judged of, by men who have no immediate interest in 
slavery, but who have long resided in slave-countries, or been in places 
where opportunities of visiting these colonies, have made them acquainted 
with the proprietors of estates, and in course of time, familiar with their 
views, then favourable to their interests, and at length accustomed to 
the evils of slavery, and insensible to the sufferings of its victims. 4th. 
The treatment of slaves in general, in Cuba and elsewhere is inquired 
into, by transient visitors and tourists at the tables of the planters, over 
the wine of the slave-holders — and where truth is drowned in hospitality, 
and the legitimate inquisitivcness of a stranger's curiosity is merged in a 
courteous acquiescence in the sentiments, or at least the statements of 
a liberal entertainer, and a gentlemanlike host. Now, of these diffe- 
rent ways of coming towards conclusions, it is evident that it is to the 
first the signal error of this Report is to be attributed. In fact, it is 
admitted that the opinion of the mildness of Spanish slavery is derived 
from the royal ordinances and laws made for the regulation of it. 

I freely grant that the spirit of these laws and ordinances is humane, 
but the great question is, arc such laws compatible with the interests of 
the slave-owners \ Arc they put in execution ? Negro slavery, as it 
ever has existed in the West India colonies, has been a condition in 
which the profitableness to the master of unpaid labour, for the time 
being, has always rendered the happiness of the labourer, a question of 
comparative unimportance. What, one might call humanity to the 
negro, there is not a proprietor in Cuba who would not deem injus- 
tice to the planter. You cannot legislate partially, humanely, and yet 
efficiently, for any slave colony in a prosperous condition — you may pass 
measures of general effect for the total abolition of slavery, but you can 
carry none into execution for effectually modifying its nature, and 



leaving unpaid labour to be wrung out of its victims, while a show is 
made of surrounding its compulsion, with humane arrangements, 
duly detailed in royal cedulas, and set forth in legal books with all the 
solemn mockery of Spanish law. This report states as a curious 
anomaly in the history of Spanish slaves, that while the Indians were 
treated by the Spaniards with such terrible cruelty, the negroes, on the 
contrary, have always been treated with peculiar mildness. I need 
hardly observe, that while the poor Indians were writhing under the 
lash of the most unmitigated cruelty the world up to that period ever 
saw ; while the Spanish colonies were exterminating the whole race of 
their victims, by the astounding rigour of their slavery ; the kings of 
Spain were dictating benevolent cedulas, and humane ordinances for the 
treatment of the unfortunate slaves ; while the council of the Indies 
was continually framing laws for the better regulation of the repar- 
timientos, or distributions of the natives; while the heads of the 
Spanish church, the mitred politicians of the day ; half statesmen, 
half churchmen — were constantly sending out missions and commissions 
to co-operate with the illustrious apostle of the Indies, the protector of 
the slaves — in fact, while all the machinery of the government that was 
four thousand miles off, was brought to bear on this question of the 
amelioration of slavery in the Spanish colonies, yet the Indians perished 
in the mines, they died under the lash, sunk under famine in caves, or 
sought in voluntary death, a final refuge from Spanish cruelty. Yes, the 
whole race perished, while the kings of Spain and its ministers were 
framing laws, impracticable, because they were partial, measures of 
relief for the preservation of their Indian subjects. The same terrible 
system of cruelty is going on this day in the Spanish colonies — the 
same terrible evils are silently in operation. Change the term Indians 
for negroes, the word mines for plantations, and in every other respect 
the same bloody tragedy is acting over again — the same frightful work of 
extermination, the same cruel mockery of staying the evil by laws with- 
out enforcement, cedulas, without a hope being entertained of their being- 
carried into effect, is now practising in Cuba, and the awful waste 
of human life, that in the time of the Indians was, for a limited 
period made up by the ravages of the man-robbers on the coasts of 
the New "World, has for three centuries been filled up in Cuba 
alone, by an annual importation that has now reached to the amount 
of twenty-five thousand stolen men from the shores of Africa. To 
understand thoroughly the subject of the laws in the Spanish colonies 



for the protection of slaves, it is necessary to refer to a work not easily 
to be met with, being only to be found in the hands of the Syndics, 
which is entitled, " Espocion sobre el origen, utilidad prerogativas, 
derechos y deberes de los sindicos, procuradores generalcs de los pueblas 
por D.Jose Serapio Majorrietta, abogada de la real audiencia." This 
book, it is to be noted, is printed at Puerto Principe, in Cuba, by royal 
authority, by command and at the expense of the real Audiencia, the 
highest law tribunal in the island ; and it is the legal guide of the 
Syndics, or protectors of slaves, in the administration of justice between 
master and slave over the whole island, and by which they are bound 
to act. The work begins by stating that the Supreme Court, in the 
year 17GG created the office of Syndic ; every town was placed under 
the legal protection of one of these officers ; its rights were to be 
defended by them ; and, in the words of the cedulas, " When there was 
any grave or important matter, it should be treated by them, joining 
themselves with some of the neighbours (juntandose con los vecinos) 
for the consideration of it. Now here is a most important regulation for 
the due administration of justice ; in fact one giving to the accused the 
advantages, to a certain extent, of a jury. And now let us see how the 
law authorities of Cuba, as represented in this work, interpret these 
words. The treatise in question says — " These words are not to be 
understood in their literal sense ; this method is contrary to the nature 
of our government, and for this reason, so responsible is the post of a 
Syndic, that he is appointed, not by an open meeting (cabildo abierto) 
of the corporation, (aguntamiento) but by the votes of the judicial body, 
or the regidores. Their duties in the rural districts are to watch over 
the order and maintenance of the public markets, the prevention of 
monopolies in com, meat, &c, inspecting the accounts of overseers, 
agents, &c, protecting the interests of proprietors of estates before the 
tribunals of the district, by all the legal privileges accorded them, even 
to the point of demanding the suspension of the royal laws or ordinances 
in which they may hurt or harm some private person (hasta el punto 
de podcr pedir la suspencion, de las cedulas y reales rcscriptos, en qui so 
donan a algun particular.) Behold the value of all the royal laws for 
the protection of slaves. The Syndic, their protector, is likewise the 
legal defender of his master ; and the suspension of every law that is 
distasteful to the latter, it is in the power of this officer to demand of 
the higher tribunals of the law. In fact, the whole secret of the conduct 
of the Cuban government, with respect to the fulfilment of the treaties 



with England for the suppression of the slave-trade, and the laws which 
enforce them, is here let out, and the shameful duplicity of the govern- 
ment of Spain, with respect to these royal orders, is disclosed, for at 
page 10 of the treatise in question, the opinion of the legal authorities of 
the island, is laid down as to the proper mode of interpretation, of the 
royal ccdulas, when these are opposed to Creole interests, or supposed to 
be so, in these words — " It has been laid down by his Majesty, that his 
sovereign will is, with respect to these laws, that they be obeyed and not 
fulfilled ;" and reference is made to lib. 16, Nov. Recap, (que se tienne 
manifestado que su soberano voluntad es, que se obedezcan y no se cum- 
plan.) This seems to me to be the very acme, indeed, of public immo- 
rality ; and there is no reason to doubt, the duplicity of the conduct here 
ascribed to the framer of these laws, and the weakness of his sovereign 
will, and that these things are done for the purposes of delusion, to throw 
dust in the eyes of foreign powers, by the enactment of laws which are 
to be received and not executed. Now with respect to the jurisdiction of 
the Syndics in the case of slaves, and the mode of interpreting the law 
for their defence, this treatise lays down very minute rules, and points out 
a course of proceeding which is universally acted on in Cuba, for it is to 
be remembered this treatise is published with the express sanction and 
approbation of the judges of the highest tribunal of the land, of the Real 
Audiencia. " It is to be observed," says the author, " either the rights 
which slaves complain of being infringed, are violated by their masters or 
a third person." 

" In the last case, their complaint is to be preferred by their 
masters — by the general rules of right, which subjects them entirely 
to those who exercise dominion over them ; but if the slaves attempt 
to complain (intentan presentarse) against their masters, then comes 
the authority of the Syndics, because by no other mode, can there 
be made a true decision, there being no legitimate litigation of parties, 
winch consists in this, that the plaintiff and the criminal should be 
different persons. But supposing this distinction to be made in such a 
case (as perhaps some one might say it ought to be), it appears the slave 
ought to have the right of naming an attorney or agent (personero), and 
the law, that so much protects the natural defence of the slave, should 
leave in his power the exercise of this precious right. But how many 
inconveniences would not this measure cause I In the first place, slaves 
have no proper person (los esclavos no tienen persona), they have no 
representation in society, they are considered as things subject to the 



dominion of man, and ill could such beings name agents or attorneys, who 
cannot appear in their own character in our courts. And yet, if abating 
the rigour of fixed principles, we chose to leave to slaves, the free election 
of which we treat — how many and how expensive would be the causes 
which would inundate our tribunals — and what would be the insubordina- 
tion alone of this class of domestics, when unfortunately interested men 
are not wanted to derive the advantage of lucre from such miserable dis- 
cord. The Syndics, however, as chosen by the corporation, should 
be adorned with all the fine qualities we have already stated, and in the 
degree that they may undertake to protect the rights- of these unfortu- 
nates, they will take care to beware of encouraging unjust complaints, 
by maintaining the slaves under due submission and respect, which 
system is certainly the most happy that can be adopted to conciliate the 
private interests of the slaves with those of the owners of them." 

Now the next interpretation of the royal law, or cedula of 1789, which at 
p. 3, ordains the regulation of the daily labour of slaves " so that it should 
begin and conclude from sunrise till sunset," and moreover should leave 
them two hours of the intermediate time for their own use and benefit, is 
given in these terms — terms, indeed, most worthy of profound atten- 
tion : — " But this is not observed, and neither the magistrates regulate 
the time of labour, nor do the slaves cease to serve their masters at all 
hours of the day ;" (Esto no se observa y ni lasjustitias, regolan cl tiempo 
de labor ni los esclavos dejan de servir asus duenos en todas las horas del 
dia.) Well may the expounder of the sentiments of the Royal Tribunal 
of the Audiencia of Cuba say, the laws are not observed, " the slaves 
cease not at all hours of the day to work for their masters." But this 
secord Daniel, this Cuban commentator on Spanish law, rigidly, indeed, 
as he sticks to the sense of the colonial judges, tells but half the truth, 
when he says, that " the slaves cease not to work for their masters at 
all hours of the day ;" he should have said on the sugar estates during 
the time of the crop, for upwards of six months in the year, at all 
hours of the night, with the exception of four for sleep. It did not 
suit the purpose of the Royal Audiencia to startle the ears or astonish 
the weak minds of the people in the towns with the frightful announce- 
ment of the appalling fact that the wretched negroes, in spite of the 
express terms of the royal law for the regulation of slave labour, were 
worked to death on these estates for twenty continuous hours, twelve in 
the field and eight in the boiling-house or at the mill, and that even on 
the coffee estates, where the necessity for hard labour is so much less, that 



at certain times of the year, it is a common practice during the bright 
inoonlight nights to work the slaves at field-work, for four or five hours 
by the "Clara de la luna," as it is called. But what are the sentiments 
of the Royal Audiencia on the subject of that great privilege on paper, 
conferred by the laws on the slave, in the power nominally given him 
of purchasing his freedom, or portions of it, by the payment at once, or 
at different periods, of the price his master paid for him. It is to be 
observed that the payment of a part of this sum to the master, gives the 
negro the legal right of having that sum deducted from his price, when- 
ever he happens to be sold, and entitles him, as it is most erroneously but 
generally believed, to an immediate reduction of labour, in proportion 
to the sum paid. 

The paying a sum of money to a master on the part of slaves 
towards the purchase of his liberty renders the payer what is called 
" coartado," the meaning of which is, in part manumitted. The word 
is derived from coartar, to cut or separate, and not from quartear, to 
divide into four parts, as is commonly supposed. " Some Syndics," says 
the law treatise in question, " have attempted to alleviate slavery, so as 
to pretend to concede a half of their time to slaves who are bound in ser- 
vice to their masters'' (when they have paid half of their value to their 
owners) ; " but this opinion is not in conformity with the law, and the 
Syndics should respect the rights of the proprietary power without 
allowing themselves to be led astray by a notion of equity badly under- 
stood. The coartacion (or part payment made to a master by a slave 
towards the attainment of freedom) was not established to reduce slavery 
into halves, but only to prevent any alteration in the price to the slaves. 
A slave who, being worth 500 dollars, gives to his master 400 by way of 
coartacion, remains as subject to servitude as any slave who is so entirely. 
The master cannot be deprived of the proper rights of his authority, and 
the slave is under the obligation of devoting all his service to him ; for 
such reasons the Syndics ought to avoid the wish to establish such 
demands." Then comes the interpretation of the law in Cuba as laid 
down in this treatise on that most important privilege of all to the 
negroes in Spanish colonies, the power nominally given by the law to the 
slave who is ill-treated or discontented with good cause with his master, 
to seek another owner on payment of the price at which he might be 
valued by the judicial authorities. 

Now hear the mouth-piece of the Real Audiencia of Cuba on this sub- 
ject. "The question may also be asked if slaves (coartados) have the 




right to go out of the power of their masters whenever they desire, and the 
answer is not difficult, if we consider that the slaves (enteros) entirely so 
are obliged to allege some great reason to compel their masters to sell them. 
And w r hat difference can there be between one and the other, when we 
see that the yoke of slavery on all is the same 1 If the slaves (coartados) 
do not enjoy the rights of freemen, on what principle can they claim the 
right of changing masters at their pleasure I Is it for some light correc- 
tion I This is not sufficient to enable them to use this privilege. And 
then, could the masters exercise their authority with the due severity 
which is necessary 2 By no means, and hence we have seen that the 
Ileal Audiencia has always repelled similar demands in all the suits that 
have been promoted on this point and brought for their superior decision. 
But some persons desire, notwithstanding, founding their opinion on the 
Royal Cedula of the 8th April, 1779, that slaves (coartados) should be 
left in possession of the privilege in question. In answer to this, let us 
refer to the terms of the cedula. We declare, it says, that the masters of 
slaves (not coartados) have the liberty to sell them for whatsoever price 
they agree on with the buyers, according to their actual worth, that 
when masters for just reasons are obliged by the judicial authority to sell 
their slaves (those so entirely) it shall be for the price at which they 
shall be valued by those authorities ; but if the buyer wishes to take the 
slave without valuation, agreeing thereon with the master, they can 
arrange between them the price, and the authorities have no power 
to prevent it, although the master is compelled to sell, except that in 
order to diminish the amount of the alcabala duty (or tax on the sale of 
property) some collusion between the parties be suspected ; further, that 
for slaves who are ' coartado,' or have paid that portionremai ning of it, 
the same obligation is binding on the buyer ; that in all cases the seller 
shall pay the alcabala tax according to the price paid ; further, that if 
the slave ' coartado' by bad conduct gives a reasonable motive for selling 
him, however slight his crime, the addition to the price be made of the 
alcabala tax on his sale ; and finally, that no slaves of any kind, entire or 
coartados, who redeem themselves by their lawful earnings, ought to pay 
this tax. The masters shall be obliged, conformable to the custom, to 
give them their liberty the moment they bring the due price for it." 

Now to any ordinary capacity, the plain meaning of the terms of this 
beneficent law of 1778, is that slaves have the power of demanding to be 
sold to another master, if another master can be procured to pay the price 
fixed on by the judges to the actual owner. In fact, the slave by this 


means puts himself in the position of a coartado, one who has the right to 
demand his freedom whenever a price has been agreed on, or fixed by- 
judicial valuation ; and having procured a person to advance the money, 
he is content to have his liberty sold again in consideration of the change 
of masters. But mark the chicanery by which every practical utility of 
this benevolent law is frittered away by the interpretation of the judicial 
authorities of Cuba. The slave who would change owners is first called 
on to produce a reasonable cause for his application. He alleges severe 
punishment or harsh treatment, who is to decide whether the slave has 
been maltreated or not. The Syndic. Who is the Syndic ? A planter 
himself. And who is the master I The neighbour of the Syndic. But 
what says the Real Audiencia exposition of the law for the regulation of 
the practice of these Syndics ? Why, that the due severity of the 
discipline of the proprietory power towards the slaves is not a sufficient 
cause for a slave's application to be sold, and that the only sufficient 
causes are insufficient nourishment, scarcity of clothing, and dearth of 
instruction in the christian religion. Now what does the last obligation 
on the planters amount to in Cuba ? — to the christening of the slave, and 
to the burial of him, with the ordinary rights of the church. This is the 
whole amount in Cuba of religious assistance, save and except the 
teaching of the newly-imported pagans to repeat, like parrots on certain 
feasts, the Lord's Prayer, the confiteor, and the decades of the rosary ; 
but as for having the slightest conception of the meaning of the words 
they repeat by rote, it would be a folly to expect it, for they are never 
instructed in religion by priest or layman, except on the estate of (a 
rare phenomenon in Cuba) a pious planter, a scrupulous master, and a 
christian man. As to the complaint of insufficiency of food, the Syndic 
of course acts on the general opinion, that it is the interest of an owner to 
feed his slaves well, and to clothe them also for the sake of the preser- 
vation of their health and strength. 

And now for their moral condition and the administration of the laws 
affecting it, on the high authority of the work published with the sanction 
and at the expense of the Real Audiencia of Cuba. " As amongst the 
Romans (says the author) there could be no marriage solemnized except 
among citizens, the union of the slaves was accomplished by concubinage, 
and the children followed the condition of the mother ; our district law 
has adopted the same system (nuestra ley de partida ha adoptado la 
misma disposicion), and when recently coartacion was established, the 
question was discussed if the infant of a slave coartado should enjoy the 



same privileges as the mother, but the doubt has ceased since the publica- 
tion of the Royal Cedula of the 10th February, 1789, in which we find 
the point in question definitely settled." There can be no doubt of the 
express meaning of the Royal law on this subject being what it is de- 
scribed, and there is unfortunately no doubt that the slaves of Cuba have 
none of the rights of citizens, that they are not suffered to marry, and 
that a general system of concubinage is that which the christian law of 
the Partida sanctions in Cuba, and to which it condemns nearly half a 
million of human beings. Here I take leave of the Cuban exposition of 
the Spanish laws for the amelioration of slavery. No one can dispute the 
authority of the treatise I have referred to, for the express sanction of 
the Real Audiencia is prefixed to it. It was with no little difficulty I 
procured a copy of that work, for I have already stated it is not allowed 
to fall into the hands of strangers. Such is the specious benevolence of 
the Spanish laws, that have never been carried into execution, and are 
incapable of enforcement in any country where slavery exists, and 
where the interests arising from it are prosperous and powerful. 

R. R. M. 


In the year 1824, Mr. Secretary Canning addressed a despatch 
to the Chief Commissioner at the Havana, desiring to be furnished 
with information on the subject of the manumission of slaves in 
the Spanish colonies, and enclosing a memorandum which! had been 
presented to our government at that period, when the question of 
gradual emancipation in our colonies was attracting attention. The 
document enclosed is to the following effect : — " That slaves, (namely 
those in the Spanish colonies,) are generally appraised at A four hundred 
dollars ; that a slave paying down the fourth part of his value, or one 
hundred dollars, immediately acquires a right to be coartado — that is, 
that he can work out, paying his master three reals de vellon or bits 
a-day, until he can make a further deposit ; or, if the master requires 
his service, he can oblige the man to work for him, paying the slave 
one real ; thus a deposit of two hundred dollars gives the slave a right 
to two reals daily ; of three hundred, three reals, and thus till the 
completion of the payment of the whole sum [in which he had been 
appraised. A dollar is worth eight reals or bits." — ( Vide Slave-trade 
Reports-, 1824-25, Class A., page G3.) In the first place, the common 
error with respect to the meaning of the term of coartacion, which I 
have already referred to, is pointed out in the reference, made to the 
question of paying down one-fourth part of the value of the slave. 
The next error is in the statement that a slave coartado has the right 
to work out or to leave his master's service, paying him wages in 
a certain proportion to the sum still clue for his liberty, the law 
treatise I have so largely quoted explicitly denying that the slave has 
any such right against the consent of his master. The Chief 
Commissioner replied to Mr. Canning's inquiry, October 9th, 1824, 
stating that he had consulted the most able lawyers and government 
authorities on the subject of manumission, and encloses a memorandum 
— a most valuable paper — though by no means to be considered 
as practically applicable to the attainable privileges of prandial 



slaves, and that distinction is not sufficiently drawn in the document, 
but only slightly alluded to at the end of the memorandum. 

The commissioner, informs Mr. Canning that he has been wrongly 
informed that slaves are valued at any fixed price for " coartacion 
that he has known one sell for 1000 dollars, but that the tribunals 
discountenance excessive valuation ; that the average valuation of 
full-grown negroes on estates is 500 dollars ; that house-slaves are 
valued at six, and mechanics at still higher prices ; that the statement 
is incorrect in asserting, " if the master require the service of his 
coartado slave, he can oblige the man to work, paying the slave a 
certain sum," the fact being, that in all cases the master is entitled 
to the service of his slave, whether coartado or not, without any 
remuneration whatever. That the wages of a common field labourer is 
about four reals a day, (there being eight reals " de plata," and twenty 
reals " de vellon " to the dollar, .the writer of the memorandum pre- 
viously referred to having confounded these) and, moreover, that the 
negro is fed and clothed, and that as mechanics earn from a dollar-and- 
a-quarter to three dollars a-day, consequently, a coartado slave, who 
works out is able to pay his master the daily quota proportioned to his 
price, and to lay by something towards the further attainment of his 
liberty. That the regulations for ameliorating the condition of slaves 
are founded principally on custom which has acquired the force of law, 
many of which are confirmed by royal decrees. That when a slave 
applies to purchase his liberty, the master is not allowed to fix an arbi- 
trary price, but if he and the slave cannot agree upon it, two appraisers 
are named, one by the master and another by the Syndic on the part of 
the slave, and if they differ the judge names an umpire, and in these 
cases the slave is exempt from the payment of the Alcabala duty, which 
is six per cent, on the sale of slaves sold in venta real or by public 
auction. That a master will be compelled to sell a slave if a purchaser is 
found to engage to emancipate the slave at the end of any reasonable time. 
That ill usage justifies an application for change of masters. That a slave 
once emancipated cannot again be reduced to slavery. That the master 
having once given an " escritura de coartacion," binds himself never to 
demand more than a stipulated sum, though less than the actual value, 
and has no relation to the actual price originally paid for him. That the 
coartado slave, when his master allows him to work out on hire, is only 
bound to pay his master one real a day for every hundred dollars in 
which he is coartado (thus if his appraised price was four hundred dollars, 



and he had paid one hundred towards his liberty, he would only have to 
pay three reals a day to his master). That a pregnant negress may eman- 
cipate her child even when in the womb at the fixed price of twenty -five 
dollars, and from the time of its birth, till it be baptizedj for fifty dol- 
lars. That the system respecting the manumission of slaves, although 
in the country parts where there are few magistrates, there may be, 
and undoubtedly there are, many abuses, yet in the Havana, and other 
large towns, and in other populous districts, it is efficiently observed. 

I have already stated how far these nominal advantages are admitted by 
the expounders of the law, and shown that the system of manumission, 
and the regulations in force for ameliorating the condition of the 
slave in the Spanish colonies, honourable as these are to the 
apparent intentions of the Spanish government, are of little real 
benefit to the prsedial slaves, that is, to the great body of the 
slave population in these colonies. There are exceptions, there are 
instances where slavery has not rendered masters heedless of all 
laws human and divine, even where their pecuniary interests are 
concerned. But these are few on the estates. There are instances where 
the owners and persons of high rank, and wealth, and standing in society 
— noblemen like the Count Fernandina, and a few others of his order, 
where the rights and privileges of the slaves are in some degree respected. 
These men, however, live not on their properties, and it is only to 
their occasional visits the slaves on their properties have to look for jus- 
tice. It is, as I have said before, in the large towns alone, and for the 
non-praedial slaves, that the privileges in question can be said to be 
available, and where manumission can be hoped for, the means acquired 
of obtaining it, and the opportunity given of applying for it, and for the 
redress of any wrong suffered by a slave. 

R. R. M. 






Agiaco — A mess corresponding to the pepper-pot of Jamaica. It is 
composed of pork, sliced plantains, calabash, seasoned with 
red pepper and lemon-juice, in common use at planters' and 
overseers' tables. 

Aguacero — The small fire-fly, smaller and less brilliant than the Cucuyo 
or common fire-fly. 

Aguardiente — The spirits distilled from the sugar-cane. 

Alma en Boca y Huesos en Costal — Term of the limited warranty, 
given with newly imported negroes. It signifies that the 
vendor will not answer for blemishes or diseases that may 
appear after the sale. 

Arrenquin — In a team of oxen, the first or favourite leader. 

Aventador — A kind of winnowing machine for cleaning coffee. 

Ay — A common ballad, each line of which begins with this word, and is 
sung, or rather roared out, bv the " monteros," or country 
people on their journeys, and at their labours in the field. 
The dance to this tune is called the " Zapateo." 

Administrador — Attorney on an estate. 

Alambique — The still-house on a sugar estate. 

Aura Tenosa — Equivalent to the John Crows of Jamaica. 

Banca Fallusta — A common gambling game. 

Barracon — A species of barracks where the newly imported slaves are 
kept till they are sold. The yard surrounded with sheds or 
huts on estates in which the slaves are shut up every night, 
are called barracones. 

Bembo— A negro with thick heavy lips. 



Bibi — Negroes of the Carabali race. 
Bob a — A game of cards. 

Bocoy — A puncheon, when used for Molasses contains 110 gallons, when 
used for sugar from 50 to 54 arrobas, the arroba is about 
twenty-five pounds weight. 

Bolas — A game played by the negroes with small round stones. 

Bolanchera — A dance in a circle, performed by men and women in 
alternate rounds. 

Bomba — The ladle used in the boiling houses. A term also for the toasts 
or " brindas," at convivial parties. 

Bozal — The African negro recently brought from his country into Cuba 
or Porto Rico and newly stolen, and recently sold or exposed 
for sale there. 

Bricamos — African negroes from a district of that name. 
Briche — Negroes from the Carabali country. 
Brocha — A game of chance. 
Butaca — A large lounging elbow-chair. 

Cabildo — The re-unions of Bozal negroes on festival days, in common 
use at the Havana, in which dancing, singing, and playing 
on rude instruments (ataboles) great clamour and confusion 
are the chief amusements. Each nation has its own Cabildo, 
and these orgies are called Cabildo Arara, Cabildo Congo, 
&c. &c. 

Cachaza — The scum of the boiled cane juice, or guarasso, of which all 
cattle are fond, and it is said to fatten them. 

Cafetal — Coffee estate. 

Casa de calderas — Boiling house. 

Cogollos, (de la cana,) — Cane tops. 

Casa de purga — Curing house. 

Contra-mayoral — Driver who superintends, whip in hand, the field 

labour of the slaves. 
Cuadrilla — That part of the negro gang that is worked by spells, and 

relieved at stated times. 

Capitan de papellas — Generally the mates of American vessels, with 
ship's papers fraudulently obtained at the American consulate's, 
to enable the Spanish and Portuguese slavers to pass for 
American vessels. 

Capitan de partido — A district magistrate. 

Caraboli — Negroes from that part of Africa ; they are accounted wild 
and rebellious ; their front teeth are generally sharpened to a 

Conuco — The negro grounds or garden. 
Ceiba — The giant cotton tree. 

Cimarron — A runaway negro in the country, in contra-distinction to 
huido the runaway slaves in towns. 




Coartado — A slave the price of whose freedom is fixed, either in con- 
sideration of past service, or on account of his having paid a 
sum of money to his master towards the purchase of his 
freedom, and which sum is deducted from the price fixed 
on his manumission whenever he is sold, or buys his freedom. 

Cucuyo — The fire-fly, or El-ater Noctilucus, the fields of Cuba are 
peopled with these flying insects. In the darkest room it is 
possible to read by holding one of these insects along the 
line ; there are two lights in the head and one in the belly. 
In the spring, the fields at night are illuminated with them ; 
children delight to chase them, and the Creole girls adorn 
their hair with them, or keep them in cages and feed them 
on cane and sugar. 

Congo — African slaves from the country of this name, the most esteemed 
in Cuba for their fidelity and vigour. 

Corral — An estate which consists of a league of land in circuit, used 
for the breeding of cattle. 

Criollo — All persons, whether white or black, born in the island, are 
called Creoles. 

Cuadro de Cafe — A piece of land, the fourth of a " caballeria" in 
extent, and generally with 10,000 coffee plants on it, are 
thus called. 

Cuero — The whip used by the overseer on estates to flog the slaves, the 
handle short, of hard word, the lash generally of a single 
thong, made of cow hide, the toughest that can be obtained, 
from a yard and a-half to two yards long ; the knots on it 
are humorously called " Pajeulos." Da Cuero signifies to 
flog. Tocar el cuero, to crack the whip to call the slaves to 
work, or to their meals. 

Cuna — An assemblage of people of colour for diversion. 

Charango — A game of chance in use in the country among the lower 

Chata — Negroes with very flat noses. 

Chino or China — The child of a mulatto and negro. 

Chucho — The common house-whip, which every lady has at hand, for 
household use. It resembles our riding whip, the thong is 
made of twisted leather, and is generally painted green or red. 

Enyase or Caja — The box in which the sugar is exported. It contains 
from 15 to 20 arrobas of sugar, or from 375 to 500 lbs. 

Estancia — A small farm where fruit trees, vegetables, grain, &c. are 

Faena — Extra hours of labour on feast days, on sugar estates, &c. 
Fuete — A whip of any kind. 

Fufu — A dish composed of plantains, yams, or calabash, beaten into a 

Finca — A country place, a house with lands. 



Gente de Color — Negroes, mulattoes, &c. 

Guardo Raya — The walks in coffee grounds between the plots called in 
Jamaica intervals. 

Guarappo — The juice of the cane extracted by the compression of the 
rollers of the mill. 

Hacendado — A country gentleman. 

Hato — Breeding farm consisting of two leagues of land in circuit. 
Infierno — A game at cards. 
Ingenio — Sugar estate. 

Ladino — In contra-distinction to Bozal, a negro born in Africa, but 
acclimated in Cuba, able to speak in Spanish, and supposed 
to be introduced before the slave-trade was prohibited. 

Loango— A negro of the Congo country. 

Lucumi — A negro of the Lucumese country. 

Macua — A negro of the country of this nation . 

Macheto — A sword which the country people and overseers on estates 

.Maestro assucar — A white man on the sugar estate, who superintends 
the making of sugar. 

Mandingo— A negro from the country of this name, the most civilised 
of the African nations. 

Maremba — A musical instruinent of the Bozals. 

Mayoral — The overseer of an estate. All the mayorals of Cuba are 
natives of Spain. 

Major domo — The book and account keeper on an estate. 

Mina — A negro from the country of this name. 

Monte — A game of chance in general use amongst the gentry, and is 
forbidden by the laws. The word Monte also signifies the 
country generally, and Montero a countryman or small 

Negrero — A slave ship. 

Nino or Nina — The way of addressing young masters or mistresses on 
the part of slaves, and free coloured people. 

Palenque — A place of resort in the woods and mountains for the fugitive 

Pancho — The pet name of children called Francisco. 

Pica pleitos — Pettyfogging attorneys, who foment law-suits. 

Pardo, or Parda — Mulatto man or woman, the term Moreno is more 
compliment ary to them. 

Potrero — A farm laid out in pasturage, and for the breeding of stock. 

Quitrin — A two-wheeled carriage in common use, differing from the 
volante, the head being made of flexible leather, which may 
be lowered at pleasure, while the top of the volante is im- 



Romper Molienda — To commence grinding sugar-cane. 

Safra — Crop time, from the cutting of the cane to the packing of the 
sugar. On coffee estates, the crop time is called cosecha. 

Sambombia — A negro drink, made of treacle and water. 

Smo — A farm being part of a hato or corral, having a house and offices 
for stalling cattle. A hato consists of several sitios. A sitio 
de labor is the same as estancia. 

Tertullia — An evening party. 

Tacho — Tache, or boiler. 

Trecillo — A fashionable game at cards. 

Tango — A festive re-union of Bozal negroes. 

Tasago — Coarse dried beef, brought from Tampico, of a very offensive 
smell ; it is given to the slaves on estates in small quantities, 
and with yams and plantains, constitutes their diet. 

Trapiche — The mill that grinds the cane. 

Volante — The chaise in common use in Cuba. An equipage in the 
keeping of which, the luxuriousness of the owner's taste in 
the large towns is chiefly shown. 

Zapatee — See Ay, a vulgar dance. 

Zumzum — The humming bird. The smallest and most beautiful of the 
feathered tribe. It cannot live except in liberty. If caught 
and put into a cage, it droops and dies in two or three days. 

Johnston & Barrett, Printers, 13, Mark Lane, London. 

p^ l='F='F=^FjF= l F='Fjj| 


Preservation treatment 
for this book was 
made possible through the 
Mary Eddy Klein '42 and 
Margaret Kennedy Klein '72 
Library Preservation Fund 
for Special Collections