TO CUBA AND B iCK.
A VACATION VOYa
RICHARD HENRY DANA, Jr.,
AXJTHOR OF "two YEARS BEFORE THE MAST," ETC., ETC.
TICKNOR AND FIELDS
M DCCC LIX.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1859, by
Richard Hexry Dana, Jr.,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
STEREOTTPED AND PRINTED BY
H. 0. HOUGHTON AND COMPANY.
To the Gentlemen of the Saturday Club,
this narrative of a short absence from home and
from their society, is dedicated.
Departure from New York. Steamship Cahawba. First
Hatteras. Gulf Stream. Coast of Florida. Routine of
The passengers. Warm weather. Coast of Cuba. Pan
of Matanzas. First view of Havana, from the sea.
Night off Havana 24
Enter Havana, at sunrise. Harbor. Shipping. Land-
ing. Drive through streets of Havana. Hotel 29
Cuban hotel, and its landlord, rooms, servants, and guests.
Breakfast. Fresh fruits. Houses and counting-rooms
of merchants and bankers. Dr. Howe and Mr. Parker.
Dinner. Opera troupe. Speech of the Cubans. After-
noon on the Paseo. Retreta at the Plaza de Armas.
Havana by night 39
Early morning in the city. The Chain-Gang. Soldiers.
Banos de Mar. The Cathedral. Mass. Tomb of Co-
Gold and silver. Coinage. Family breakfasts. Coolies.
Jesus del Monte. View of city and harbor from Je-
sus del Monte. Taste for proper names of towns,
shops, &c. Opera at the Villanueva, the boxes, ladies,
Captain-General, soldiers 60
A mascara. Spanish troops. Sunday in Havana. Din-
ner at the Bishop's. Interest in the Thirty Millions
Bill. Visits at evejiing 74
The Belen. The Jesuit college, brethren, and pupils.
The Order of Jesuits 82
Steamer for Matanzas. Harbor and water by night. Ma-
tanzais. Coolies. Gabriel de la Concepcion Valdez. 94
Railroad from Matanzas. Views of interior of Cuba.
Trees, flowers, fruits, and cane-fields. Sugar estates.
Slaves laboring. Ingenio, La Ariadne. . . 102
First day on a sugar estate. The coffee estates. Change
from coffee estates to sugar estates. Causes and effects
of this change. Cultivation of sugar-cane. Making of
sugar. Profits of sugar-making. Process of sugar-mak-
ing, in the fields and mill. Division of labor. Engi-
neer from the United States. Tr^xtment and labor of
negroes. Officers of a plantation, and their duties :
mayoral, mayordomo, contra-mayorales, boyero. Duties
and cares of the master. Visit to negro quarters 112
Trees and flowers. Chameleon. Fruits. Red ant.
Meals and routine of life on plantation. Penitentiary,
lying-in room, &c. Sefior Bourgoise. Third day at
La Ariadne. Effects of foreign education on plant-
Life of a planter and his family. Coffee estate of St. Ca-
talina. Afternoon ride. Departure from La Ariadne.
Keturn to Matanzas 153
Matanzas. The Cumbre. The Yurnuri. The family of
Mr. C . Ensor's 161
Railroad from Matanzas to Havana. Stations, views of
interior, from railroad train. Short sketch of the posi-
tion of Cuba ; its productions, resources, civil and politi-
cal rights, religion, professions, sciences, and literature.
Return to Havana 166
At Havana. Dr. Howe. Trial of Senor Maestri. Mu-
sic of the contradanza . . . . .174
Mass at the Belen. Worship in Cuban churches. Casa
de Beneficencia. Hospital Militar. Sisters of Charity.
Worship of the Sisters in their chapel. Sick soldiers 1 78
Drive over the Paseo de Tacon. Count de la Fernandina.
Cuban nobility. Hospital of San Juan de Dios. The
Presidio and grand prison ; its inmates, discipline, &c. 190
A bull-fight 197
Habits of the Cubans, beckoning, smoking, &c. Visit to
the Bishop, at Jesus del Monte. Coolie mart, in the
Cerro. The condition and prospects of the Coolies ;
their importation, contracts, and treatment . . 208
A sale of slaves. Cuban preserves. Breakfast with Mr.
. The census, and the probable number of
slaves, free blacks, Creoles, and whites. Lotteries.
Cock-light. The Lopez expedition . . .216
Condition of Cuba. Different classes of whites, Span-
iards, other foreigners, and Cubans. Political condition,
before 1825, and since 1825. Powers of the Captain-
General. Diminution of freedom, and growth of cen-
tral power. Army and navy. Taxes and revenue.
Religion, past and present. Past and present position of
the Roman Catholic Church.
Free Blacks ; their numbers, condition, rights, and pros-
pects. Laws favoring emancipation.
Slaves. Their condition. Laws for their protection. Ex-
ecution of these laws. Compulsory sale. Purchase of
freedom. Bright side. Dark side. Marriage, increase,
and importation of negroes. Different views of the
problem of negro-labor.
Material resources. Soils, productions, trees, mineral
wealth, coal. Chmate. The sugar crop, and other sta-
Education. Schools and colleges.
Reflections and suggestions as to the future of Cuba. In-
dependence. Annexation. Protectorate. Effects of
her geographical position 225
The Cahawba. Her arrival. Last night in Havana.
Leave-takings. On board the Cahawba. Getting un-
der way. Last views of Cuba. Night at sea . 271
A day at sea. Beautiful night at sea. Coast of United
States. Death of Mr. G . Off the outer har-
bor of New York. Pilot, news, fishing-boats. Sights
on entering the harbor. The wharf New York hack-
men. Leave-takings, and separation of passengers.
End of the voyage 280
TO CUBA AND BACK.
Saturday, the twelfth day of February, 1859,
is a dull, dark day in New York, with visita-
tions of snow-squalls, as the United States
Mail Steamer Cahawba swings at her pier, at
the foot of Robinson-street — a pier crowded
with drays and drivers, and a street of mud,
snow and ice, and poor habitations. The
steamer is to sail at one p. m. ; and, by half-past
twelve, her decks are full, and the mud and
snow of the pier are well trodden by men and
horses. Coaches drive down furiously, and
nervous passengers put their heads out to see
if the steamer is off before her time ; and on
the decks, and in the gangways, inexperienced
passengers run against everybody, and mistake
10 TO CUBA AND BACK.
the engineer for the steward, and come up the
same stairs they go down, without knowing
it. In the dreary snow, the newspaper vend-
ers cry the papers, and the book venders thrust
yellow covers into your face — " Reading for
the voyage, sir — five hundred pages, close
print ! " And that being rejected, they reverse
the process of the Sibyl, — with " Here's anoth-
er, sir, one thousand pages, double columns."
The great beam of the engine moves slowly
up and down, and the black hull sways at its
fasts. A motley group are the passengers.
Shivering Cubans, exotics that have taken
slight root in the hot-houses of the Fifth Ave-
nue, are to brave a few days of sleet and
cold at sea, for the palm-trees and mangoes,
the cocoas and orange-trees, they will be sit-
ting under in six days, at farthest. There are
Yankee shipmasters going out to join their
"cotton wagons" at New Orleans and Mobile
merchants pursuing a commerce that knows
no rest and no locality ; confirmed invalids
advised to go to Cuba to die under mosquito-
nets and be buried in a Potter's Field; and
other invalids wisely enough avoiding our
A VACATION VOYAGE. 11
March winds ; and here and there a mere
vacation-maker, like myself.
Captain Bullock is sure to sail at the hour;
and at the hour he is on the paddle-box, the
fasts are loosed, the warp run out, the crew
pull in on the warp on the port quarter, and the
head swings off. No word is spoken, but all
is done by signs; or, if a word is necessary, a
low clear tone carries it to the listener. There
is no tearing and rending escape of steam,
deafening and distracting all, and giving a
kind of terror to a peaceful scene ; but our
ship swings off, gathers way, and enters upon
ner voyage, in a quiet like that of a bank or
counting-room, almost under a spell of si-
The house-tops and piers and hill-tops are
lined with snow, the masts and decks are
white with it, a dreary cold haze lies over
the water, and we work down the bay, where
few sails venture out, and but few are com-
ing in ; and only a strong monster of a Cu-
nard screw-steamer, the Kangaroo, comes
down by our side.
We leave city and suburbs, Brooklyn
12 TO CUBA AND BACK.
Heights, and the foggy outline of Staten Is-
land, far behind us, and hurry through the
Narrows, for the open sea. The Kangaroo
crossed our hawse in a strange way. Is she
steering wild, or what is it ? Seeing two old
unmistakable Yankee shipmasters, sitting con-
fidentially together on two chairs, in affection-
ate proximity to the binnacle, I address my-
self to them, and my question, being put in
proper nautical phrase, secures a respectful at-
tention. I find they agree with me that the
Kangaroo is a little wilful, and crosses our
hawse on purpose, in some manoeuvre to dis-
charge her pilot before we do ours ; and so
thinks the quartermaster, who comes aft to right
the colors. This manoeuvering of the steamer
and pilot vessel makes an incident for a few
minutes' talk, and an opening for several ac-
quaintances which will be voyage-long. The
pilots are dropped into their little cock-boats,
and their boats drop astern, and go bobbing
over the seas, to the pilot schooner that lies
to for them. The Kangaroo, with her mys-
terious submarine art of swimming without
fins, stands due east for Liverpool, and we
A VACATION VOYAGE. 13
stand down the coast, southerly, for the re-
gions of the Sun.
The Heights of Neversink are passed. The
night closes in upon the sea, dreary, cold, and
snowing ; our signal lanterns, the red, the
white, and the green, gleam out into the mist ;
the furnace fires throw a lurid light from the
doors below, cheerful or fearful as may be the
temper of mind of the looker-on ; the long
swell lifts and drops the bow and stern, and
rolls the ship from side to side ; the sea-bells
begin to strike their strange reckoning of the
half-hours ; the wet and the darkness drive all
below but the experts and the desperate, and
our first night at sea has begun.
At six bells, tea is announced; and the
bright lights of the long cabin table, shining
on plates and cups and gleaming knives and
hurrying waiters, make a cheerful and lively
contrast with the dark, cold, deserted deck.
By night, I walk deck for a couple of hours
with the young captain. After due inquiries
about his family in Georgia, and due remem-
brance of those of his mother's line whom
we loved, and the public honored, before the
14 TO CUBA AND BACK.
grave or the sea closed over them, the fas-
cinating topic of the navy, the frigates and the
line-of-battle ships and little sloops, the storms,
the wrecks, and the sea-fights, fill up the time.
He loves the navy still, and has left it with
regret; but the navy does not love her sons
as they love her. On the quarter-deck at fif-
teen, the first in rank of his year, favored by
his commanders, with service in the best ves-
sels, making the great fleet cruise under Mor-
ris, taking part in the actions of the Naval
Brigade on shore in California, serving on the
Coast Survey, a man of science as well as a
sailor, — yet what is there before him, or those
like him, in our navy? The best must con-
tinue a subaltern, a lieutenant, until he is gray.
At fifty, he may be entitled to his first com-
mand, and that of a class below a frigate ; and
if he survives the African fevers and the Isth-
mus fevers, and the perils of the sea, he may
totter on the quarter-deck of a line-of-battle
ship when his skill is out of date and his ca-
pacity for further command problematical. And
whatever may be the gallantry or the merit of
his service, though he may cut off his right
A VACATION VOYAGE. 15
hand or pluck out his eye for the country's
honor, the navy can give him no promotion,
not even a barren title of brevet, nor a badge
of recognition of merit, though it be but a
star, or a half yard of blue ribbon. The most
meritorious officers receive large offers from
civil life ; and then, it is home, family, soci-
ety, education of children, and pecuniary
competency on the one side, and on the
other, only the navy, less and less attractive
as middle life draws on.
The state-rooms of the Cahawba, like those
of most American sea-going steamers, are
built so high above the water that the windows
may be open in all but the worst of weather,
and good ventilation be ensured. I have a very
nice fellow for my room-mate, in the berth un-
der me ; but, in a state-room, no room-mate is
better than the best ; so I change my quarters
to a state-room further forward, nearer " the
eyes of her," which the passengers generally
shun, and get one to myself, free from the rattle
of the steering gear, while the delightful rise
and fall of the bows, and leisurely weather roll
and lee roll, cradle and nurse one to sleep.
16 TO CUBA AND BACK.
Sunday^ February 13. — It is cold and rough,
though not at all stormy, and those who are
on deck wear thick coats and caps. There is
no clergyman on board, and we have no relig-
ious service. Capt. Bullock used to read the
Liturgy himself, but in these West India and
New Orleans voyages there are many Roman
Catholics, and those who are not Romanists
are of so many denominations, that he received
little encouragement in maintaining an official
worship ; and it is no longer held, unless there
is a clergyman on board and a request is made
by the passengers.
All day there has been no sail in sight, ex-
cept the steamer Columbia, for Charleston,
S. C. ; and she soon disappeared below the
We are near Cape Hatteras. It is night,
A VACATION VOYAGE. 17
and soon the Light of Hatteras throws its
bright, cheerful beam for thirty miles over a
huge burial-ground of sailors. How many
struggles with death, how many last efforts of
the last resources of skill and courage, what
floating wrecks of ships, what waste of life,
has that light shone over! Under that reef,
perished Bache, flying for harbor before the
gale, in his little surveying brig. Every league
has been and will be a field where lives and
treasures are sown thick from the hand of
Destruction, — one of those points on the earth's
surface where, in the universal and endless
struggle between life and death, preservation
and destruction, the destroyers have the ad-
Soon after 9 p. m. we stand out direct, to
cross the Gulf Stream. A bucket is thrown
over the side, and water drawn. Its tem-
perature is at 42°. In fifteen minutes more,
it is thrown again, and the water is at 72° 30'.
We are in the Gulf Stream.
Monday^ February 14. — Sea rather rough,
and a good deal of sea-sickness. Several
passengers have not been seen since we left
18 TO CUBA AND BACK.
the dock, and only about half appear at table.
We are to the eastward of the Gulf Stream.
The weather is clear, and no longer cold. At
noon, we are in about the latitude of Charles-
ton, S. C. No vessels in sight, all day. It
is strange, and always excites the surprise
and comment of sea-faring men, that in the
great highway of nations, with the immense
commerce that is perpetually running East
and West, North and South, a steamer may
make her three hundred miles a day, for day
after day, and see no sails.
This is a truly glorious moonlight night.
The seas and floods "in wavering morrice
move ; " the air is pure and not cold, the
sky a deep blue, the sea a deep blue, the
stars glisten, and the moon bathes all in a
serene glory. It is hard to leave the deck
and such a scene, for the small state-room
and its sleeping-shelf. But there must be
sleep for infirm human nature, — a nature that
has even less self-sustaining power than a
locomotive engine, and must not only be
supplied with fuel and water at every stop-
ping place, but must lie by, in a dark cor-
A VACATION VOYAGE. 19
ner, in absolute repose and mere oblivion,
for one quarter of its time, or it will wear
out in a few days.
Tuesday, February 15. — A bright, sunny,
cheerful day. Passengers have laid aside
their thick coats and fur caps, the snow and
ice are gone from the rigging and spars, the
decks are dry, the sea is calm, and the steady-
going engine alone, v/ith easy exercise of
power, drives the great hull, with its freight of
cargo and provisions and human beings, over
the placid sea, as fast as a furious gale could
drive it, and leaves her long wake of foam
on the sea, and her long wake of dark smoke
in the sky.
The passengers are recovering from sea-sick-
ness. The women sit on deck and sew and
read, and the children play. That family of
Creole children, — how sallow, how frail, what
delicate limbs, yet not without life, and with
no little grace ! But they are petted, and the
girls complain, and the boys are disposed to
tyrannize over the other boys and the dogs
It is interesting to see, or to fancy we see
the effect not only of climate, but of slavery,
20 TO CUBA AND BACK.
and of despotic institutions, on the characters
of children. "What career is therefor Cuban
youth of ambition or merit? and what must
be their life without one ?
I am feeling very much at home in the
Cahawba. She is an excellent sea boat, and
under the best of discipline. I hardly believed
that her commander could, — that any com-
mander could, — fully come up to all the praise
that had been bestowed on him ; but I think
he weathers it all. The rule of quietness pre-
vails, almost to the point of an English dinner-
party. No order is given unless it be neces-
sary, and none louder than is necessary for it
to be heard. The reports are made in low
voices, and the passengers are to see and hear
as little as possible of the discipline of the
ship. They do not know the quiet but certain
means for ensuring the performance of every
duty. They do not know that reports are
made of the state of every part of the ship,
and that, through the night, the cabins and
passage ways and every place where fire can
take, are watched, and that the watch reports
every half hour. They have not learned the
A VACATION VOYAGE. 21
merits of sturdy, faithful Miller, the chief mate,
or quick, plucky Porter, the second mate, who
can hardly keep down his " Liner " training to
the tone of the Mail Steamer, nor the thorough
excellence of the Engineer. But they do know
the capital qualities of Mr. Rodgers, the Purser,
a grandson of the old Commodore, a nephew
of Perry, and connected by blood or marriage
with half the navy, — for his station and duties
are among the passengers, and all become his
The routine of the ship, as regards passen-
gers, is this : a cup of coffee, if you desire it,
when you turn out; breakfast at eight, lunch
at twelve, dinner at three, tea at seven, and
lights put out at ten.
Wednesday^ February 16. — Beautiful, serene,
summer sea ! The thermometer is at 70°,
awnings are spread, the ladies have their books
and sewing on deck, the men read and play
chess and smoke, and the children play. We
have crossed the Gulf Stream again, and are
skirting along the Coast of Florida, as near to
shore as safety permits ; and here the deep sea
runs close to the land. All objects on shore are
22 TO CUBA AND BACK.
plainly discernible by the naked eye, from the
deck. We are below St. Augustine, about
half-way between that and Key West. The
coast is an interminable reach of sand beach,
with coral reefs before it and the Everglades
behind it. There are three small white tents,
on the green sward, close upon the beach,
backed by a grove of trees, with signals flying.
That is the station of the United States Coast
Survey. Towards evening, we pass a rough
camp which was one of the camps of " Billy
Bowlegs," the famous Seminole warrior. There
is the wreck of a bark, her lower-masts still
standing, while the beach is strewn with casks
and boxes. It is an old wreck, and they make
no signal for aid.
After dark, a light is made on our starboard
bow. It is Cape Florida Light. At 11 p. m.
we make the light on Carysfort Reef, the outer-
most and southernmost of the Florida lights ;
and, having given a good berth to the reef,
stand out to sea again, to cross the Gulf
Stream the third time.
What can exceed the beauty of these nights
at sea — these moonlight nights, the stiU sea.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 23
those bright stars, the light, soft trade-wind
clouds floating under them, the gentle air, and
a feeling of tropical romance stealing over the
exile from the snow and ice of New England !
There is something in the clear blue warm sea
of the tropics, which gives to the stranger a
feeling of unreality. Where do those vessels
come from, that rise out of the sea, in the
horizon ? Where do they go to, as they sink
in the sea again ? Are those blue spots really
fast anchored islands, with men and children,
and horses, and machinery, and schools, pol-
itics and newspapers on them, or are they
afloat, and visited by beings of the air ?
24 TO CUBA AND BACK.
^ CHAPTER UI.
Thursday, February 17. — Again a beauti-
ful, warm day. I wake, and the first glance
out of my state-room window shows the sea
and sky flushed with the red of a bright sun-
rise. Awnings are spread; straw-hats and
linen coats are worn ; sewing, reading, and
chess-playing is going on among the elders,
and the children are romping about the decks,
beginning to feel entirely at home. There are
boys from the Northern States, with fair skins
and light hair, strong, loud-voiced, plainly
dressed, in stout shoes, honest and awkward ;
and there are Cuban boys, with a mixed air
of the passionate and the timorous, sallow,
slender, small- voiced, graceful, but with the
grace rather of girls than of boys, wearing
slippers, ornamented waistcoats and jackets,
and hats with broad bands of cord. What
A VACATION VOYAGE. 25
preternaturally black eyes those little Creole
girls have! Are they really eyes, so out of
proportion in size and effect to their small
thin faces ? Their mother is hale and full-
fleshed, and probably they will come to the
same favour at last.
Throughout the day, sailing down the outer
edge of the Gulf Stream, we see vessels of all
forms and sizes, coming in sight and passing
away, as in a dioramic show. There is a
heavy cotton droger from the Gulf, of 1200
tons burden, under a cloud of sail, pressing on
to the northern seas of New England or Old
England. Here comes a saucy little Baltimore
brig, close-hauled and leaning over to it ; and
there, half down in the horizon, is a pile of
white canvas, which the experienced eyes
of my two friends, the passenger shipmasters,
pronounce to be a bark, outward bound.
Every passenger says to every other, how
beautiful ! how exquisite I That pale thin
girl who is going to Cuba for her health,
her brother travelling with her, sits on the
settee, propped by a pillow, and tries to
smile and to think she feels stronger in this
26 TO CUBA AND BACK.
air. She says she shall stay in Cuba until
she gets well !
After dinner, Capt. Bullock tells us that
we shall soon see the high lands of Cuba,
off Matanzas ; the first and highest being the
Pan of Matanzas. It is clear over head, but
a mist lies along the southern horizon, in the
latter part of the day. The sharpest eyes
detect the land, about 4 p. m., and soon it is
visible to all. It is an undulating country
on the coast, with high hills and mountains
in the interior, and has a rich and fertile look.
That height is the Pan, though we see no
special resemblance, in its outline, to a loaf
of bread. We are still sixty miles from Ha-
vana. We cannot reach it before dark, and
no vessels are allowed to pass the Morro
after the signals are dropped at sunset.
We coast the northern shore of Cuba, from
Matanzas westward. There is no waste of
sand and low flats, as in most of our southern
states ; but the fertile, undulating land comes
to the sea, and rises into high hills as it
recedes. " There is the Morro ! and right
ahead ! " " Why, there is the city too ! Is
A VACATION VOYAGE. 27
the city on the sea ? We thought it was
on a harbor or bay." There, indeed, is the
Morro, a stately hill of tawny rock, rising
perpendicularly from the sea, and jutting into
it, with walls and parapets and towers on
its top, and flags and signals flying, and the
tall lighthouse just in front of its outer wall.
It is not very high, yet commands the sea
about it. And there is the city, on the sea-
coast, indeed — the houses running down to
the coral edge of the ocean. Where is the
harbor, and where the shipping? Ah, there
they are ! We open an entrance, narrow and
deep, between the beetling Morro and the
Punta ; and through the entrance, we see the
spreading harbor and the innumerable masts.
But the darkness is gathering, the sunset
gun has been fired, we can just catch the
dying notes of trumpets from the fortifications,
and the Morro Lighthouse throws its gleam
over the still sea. The little lights emerge
and twinkle from the city. We are too late
to enter the port, and slowly and reluctantly
the ship turns her head off" to seaward. The
engine breathes heavily, and throws its one
28 TO CUBA AND BACK.
arm leisurely up and down ; we rise and fall
on the moonlit sea; the stars are near to us,
or we are raised nearer to them ; the South-
ern Cross is just above the horizon ; and all
night long, two streams of light lie upon the
water, one of gold from the Morro, and one
of silver from the moon. It is enchantment.
Who can regret our delay, or wish to ex-
change this scene for the common, close an-
chorage of a harbor?
A VACATION VOYAGE. 29
Friday^ February 18. — We are to go in at
sunrise, and few, if any, are the passengers
that are not on deck at the first glow of
dawn. Before us lie the novel and exciting
objects of the night before. The steep Morro,
with its tall sentinel lighthouse, and its tow-
ers and signal staffs and teeth of guns, is
coming out into clear daylight; the red and
yellow striped flag of Spain — blood and gold
— floats over it. Point after point in the
city becomes visible ; the blue and white
and yCilow houses, with their roofs of dull
red tiles, the quaint old Cathedral towers,
and the almost endless lines of fortifica-
tions. The masts of the immense shipping
rise over the headland, the signal for leave
to enter is run up, and we steer in under
full head, the morning gun thundering from
30 TO CUBA AND BACK.
the Morro, the trumpets braying and drums
beating from all the fortifications, the Morro,
the Punta, the long Cabana, the Casa Blanca
and the city walls, while the broad sun is
fast rising over this magnificent spectacle.
What a world of shipping ! The masts
make a belt of dense forest along the edge of
the city, all the ships lying head in to the street,
like horses at their mangers ; while the vessels
at anchor nearly choke up the passage ways to
the deeper bays beyond. There are the red
and yellow stripes of decayed Spain ; the
blue, white and red — blood to the fingers' end
— of La Grande Nation; the Union crosses
of the Royal Commonwealth; the stars and
stripes of the Great Republic, and a few flags
of Holland and Portugal, of the states of
Northern Italy, of Brazil, and of the republics
of the Spanish Main. We thread our slow
and careful way among these, pass under the
broadside of a ship-of-the-line, and under the
stern of a screw frigate, both bearing the Span-
ish flag, and cast our anchor in the Regla Bay,
by the side of the steamer Karnac, which sailed
from New York a few days before us.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 31
Instantly we are besieged by boats, some
loaded with oranges and bananas, and others
coming for passengers and their luggage, all
with awnings spread over their sterns, rowed
by swarthy, attenuated men, in blue and white
checks and straw hats, with here and there
the familiar lips and teeth, and vacant, easily-
pleased face of the negro. Among these boats
comes oiie, from the stern of which floats the
red and yellow flag with the crown in its field,
and under whose awning reclines a man in
a full suit of white linen, with straw hat and
red cockade and a cigar. This is the Health
Officer. Until he is satisfied, no one can come
on board, or leave the vessel. Capt. Bullock
salutes, steps down the ladder to the boat,
hands his papers, reports all well, — and we are
pronounced safe. Then comes another boat of
similar style, another man reclining under the
awning with a cigar, who comes on board, is
closeted with the purser, compares the passen-
ger list with the passports, and we are declared
fully passed, and general leave is given to land
with our luggage at the custom-house wharf.
Now comes the war of cries and gestures
32 TO CUBA AND BACK.
and grimaces among the boatmen, in their
struggle for passengers, increased manifold by
the fact that there is but little language in
common between the parties to the bargains,
and by the boatmen being required to remain
in their boats. How thin these boatmen look!
You cannot get it out of your mind that they
must all have had the yellow fever last sum-
mer, and are not yet fully recovered. Not only
their faces, but their hands and arms and legs
are thin, and their low-quartered slippers only
half cover their thin yellow feet.
In the hurry, I have to hunt after the pas-
sengers I am to take leave of w^ho go on
to New Orleans : — Mr. and Mrs. Benchley, on
their way to their intended new home in West-
ern Texas, my two sea-captains, and the little
son of my friend, who is the guest, on this
voyage, of our common friend the captain ,
and after all, I miss the hearty hand-shake of
Bullock and Rodgers. Seated under an awn-
ing, in the stern of a boat, with my trunk and
carpet-bag and an unseasonable bundle of
Arctic overcoat and fur cap in the bow, I
am pulled by a man with an oar in each hand
A VACATION VOYAGE. 33
and a cigar in mouth, to the custom-house
pier. Here is a busy scene of trunks, carpet-
bags, and bundles ; and up and down the
pier, marches a military grandee of about the
rank of a sergeant or sub-lieutenant, with a
preposterous strut, so out of keeping with the
depressed military character of his country,
and not possible to be appreciated without
seeing it. If he would give that strut on the
boards, in New York, he would draw full
Our passports are kept, and we receive a
license to remain and travel in the island, good
for three months only, for which a large fee is
paid. These officers of the customs are civil
and reasonably rapid ; and in a short time my
luggage is on a dray driven by a negro, and I
am in a volante, managed by a negro postilion,
and am driving through the narrow streets of
this surprising city.
The streets are so narrow and the houses
built so close upon them, that they seem to
be rather spaces between the walls of houses
than highways for travel. It appears impossible
that two vehicles should pass abreast ; yet they
34 TO CUBA AND BACK.
do SO. There are constant blockings of the
way. In some places awnings are stretched
over the entire street, from house to house, and
we are riding under a long tent. What strange
vehicles these volantes are! — A pair of very
long, limber shafts, at one end of which is a
pair of huge wheels, and at the other end a horse
with his tail braided and brought forward and
tied to the saddle, an open chaise body rest-
ing on the shafts, about one third of the way
from the axle to the horse ; and on the horse is
a negro, in large postilion boots, long spurs,
and a bright jacket. It is an easy vehicle to
ride in ; but it must be a sore burden to the
beast. Here and there we pass a private vo-
lante, distinguished by rich silver mountings
and postilions in livery. Some have two
horses, and with the silver and the livery and
the long dangling traces and a look of super-
fluity, have rather an air of high life. In most,
a gentleman is reclining, cigar in mouth; while
in others, is a great puff of blue or pink muslin
or calico, extending over the sides to the shafts,
topped off by a fan, with signs of a face behind
it. « Calle de los Officios," " Calle del Obispo,"
A VACATION VOYAGE. 35
" Calle de San Ignacio," " Calle de Merca-
deres," are on the little corner boards. Every
little shop and every big shop has its title ; but
nowhere does the name of a keeper appear.
Almost every shop advertises " por mayor y
menor," wholesale and retail. What a Gil
Bias, Don Quixote feeling the names of " po-
sada," " tienda," and " cantina " give you !
There are no women walking in the streets,
except negresses. Those suits of seersucker,
with straw hats and red cockades, are soldiers.
It is a sensible dress for the climate. Every
third man, perhaps more, and not a few
women, are smoking cigars or cigarritos. Here
are things moving along, looking like cocks of
new mown grass, under way. But presently
you see the head of a horse or mule peering
out from under the mass, and a tail is visible
at the other end, and feet are picking their
slow way over the stones. These are the car-
riers of green fodder, the fresh cut stalks and
blades of corn ; and my chance companion in
the carriage, a fellow passenger by the Ca-
hawba, a Frenchman, who has been here be-
fore, tells me that they supply all the horses
36 TO CUBA AND BACK.
and mules in the city with their daily feed, as
no hay is used. There are also mules, asses,
and horses with bananas, plantains, oranges
and other fruits in panniers reaching almost
to the ground.
Here is the Plaza de Armas, with its garden
of rich, fragrant flowers in full bloom, in front
of the Governor's Palace. At the corner, is
the chapel erected over the spot where, under
the auspices of Columbus, mass was first
celebrated on the island. We are driven by
a gloomy convent, by innumerable shops, by
drinking places, billiard rooms, and the thick,
dead walls of houses, with large windows,
grated like dungeons, and large gates, showing
glimpses of interior court-yards, sometimes
with trees and flowers. But horses and car-
riages and gentlemen and ladies and slaves,
all seem to use the same entrance. The win-
dows come to the ground, and, being flush with
the street, and mostly without glass, nothing
but the grating prevents a passenger from
walking into the rooms. And there the ladies
and children sit sewing, or lounging, or play-
ing. This is all ver}^ strange. There is evi-
A VACATION VOYAGE. 37
dently enough for me to see in the ten or
twelve days of my stay.
But there are no costumes among the men,
no Spanish hats, or Spanish cloaks, or bright
jackets, or waistcoats, or open, slashed trow-
sers, that are so picturesque in other Spanish
countries. The men wear black dress coats,
long pantaloons, black cravats, and many of
them even submit, in this hot sun, to black
French hats. The tyranny of systematic, sci-
entific, capable, unpicturesque, unimaginative
France, evidently rules over the realm of man's
dress. The houses, the vehicles, the vegeta-
tion, the animals, are picturesque ; to the eye
" Every prospect pleases, and only man is vile."
We drove through the Puerta de Mon ser-
rate, a heavy gateway of the prevailing yellow
or tawny color, where soldiers are on guard,
across the moat, out upon the " Paseo de Ysa-
bel Segunda," and are now " estramuros,"
without the walls. The Paseo is a grand ave-
nue running across the city from sea to bay,
with two carriage-drives abreast, and two
malls for foot passengers, and all lined with
38' TO CUBA AND BACK.
trees in full foliage. Here you catch a glimpse
of the Mono, and there of the Presidio. This
is the Teatro de Tacon ; and, in front of this
line of tall houses, in contrast with the almost
uniform one-story buildings of the city, the
volante stops. This is Le Grand's hotel.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 39
To a person unaccustomed to the tropics or
the south of Europe, I know of nothing more
discouraging than the arrival at the inn or
hotel. It is nobody's business to attend to
you. The landlord is strangely indifferent,
and if there is a way to get a thing done, you
have not learned it, and there is no one to
teach you. Le Grand is a Frenchman. His
house is a restaurant, with rooms for lodgers.
The restaurant is paramount. . The lodging is
secondary, and is left to servants. Monsieur
does not condescend to show a room, even to
families ; and the servants, who are whites, but
mere lads, have all the interior in their charge,
and there are no women employed about the
chambers. Antonio, a swarthy Spanish lad,
in shirt sleeves, looking very much as if he
never washed, has my part of the house in
40 TO CUBA AND BACK.
charge, and shows me my room. It has but
one window, a door opening upon the veran-
da, and a brick floor, and is very bare of
furniture, and the furniture has long ceased to
be strong. A small stand barely holds up a
basin and ewer which have not been washed
since Antonio was washed, and the bedstead,
covered by a canvas sacking, without mat-
tress or bed, looks as if it would hardly bear
the weight of a man. It is plain there is a
good deal to be learned here. Antonio is com-
municative, on a suggestion of several days'
stay and good pay. Things which we cannot
do without, we must go out of the house to
find, and those which we caji do without, we
must dispense with. This is odd, and strange,
but not uninteresting, and affords scope for
contrivance and the exercise of influence and
other administrative powers. The Grand
Seigneur does not mean to be troubled with
anything; so there are no bells, and no office,
and no clerks. He is the only source, and if
he is approached, he shrugs his shoulders and
gives you to understand that you have your
chambers for your money and must look to
A VACATION VOYAGE. 41
the servants. Antonio starts off on an expedi-
tion for a pitcher of water and a towel, with a
faint hope of two towels ; for each demand
involves an expedition to remote parts of the
house. Then Antonio has so many rooms de-
pendent on him, that every door is a Scylla,
and every window a Charybdis, as he passes.
A shrill, female voice, from the next room but
one, calls " Antonio I Antonio ! " and that
starts the parrot in the court yard, who cries
" Antonio I Antonio ! " for several minutes. A
deep, bass voice mutters "Antonio!" in a more
confidential tone ; and last of all, an unmis-
takably Northern voice attempts it, but ends
in something between Antonio and Anthony.
He is gone a good while, and has evidently
had several episodes to his journey. But he is
a good-natured fellow, speaks a little French,
very little English, and seems anxious to do
I see the faces of my New York fellow-pas-
sengers from the west gallery, and we come
together and throw our acquisitions of informa-
tion into a common stock, and help one an-
other. Mr. Miller's servant, who has been here
42 TO CUBA AND BACK.
before, says there are baths and other conven-
iences round the corner of the street; and,
sending our bundles of thin clothes there, we
take advantage of the baths, with comfort. To
be sure, we must go through a billiard-room,
where the Creoles are playing at the tables,
and the cockroaches playing under them, and
through a drinking-room, and a bowling-alley ;
but the baths are built in the open yard, pro-
tected by blinds, well ventilated, and well sup-
plied with water and toilet apparatus.
With the comfort of a bath, and clothed in
linen, with straw hats, we walk back to Le
Grand's, and enter the restaurant, for break-
fast, — the breakfast of the country, at 10
o'clock. Here is a scene so pretty as quite to
make up for the defects of the chambers. The
restaurant with cool marble floor, walls twenty-
four feet high, open rafters painted blue, great
windows open to the floor and looking into the
Paseo, and the floor nearly on a level with the
street, a light breeze fanning the thin curtains,
the little tables, for two or four, with clean,
white cloths, each with its pyramid of great red
oranges and its fragrant bouquet, — the gentle-
A VACATION VOYAGE. 43
men in white pantaloons and jackets and white
stockings, and the ladies in fly-away muslins,
and hair in the sweet neglect of the morning
toilet, taking their leisurely breakfasts of fruit
and claret, and omelette and Spanish mixed
dishes, (ollas,) and cafe noir. How airy and
ethereal it seems ! They are birds, not substan-
tial men and women. They eat ambrosia and
drink nectar. It must be that they fly, and
live in nests, in the tamarind trees. Who can
eat a hot, greasy breakfast of cakes and gravied
meats, and in a close room, after this ?
I can truly say that I ate, this morning, my
first orange ; for. I had never before eaten one
newly gathered, which had ripened in the sun,
hanging on the tree. We call for the usual
breakfast, leaving the selection to the waiter ;
and he brings us fruits, claret, omelette, fish
fresh from the sea, rice excellently cooked,
fried plantains, a mixed dish of meat and veg-
etables (oUa), and coffee. The fish, I do not
remember its name, is boiled, and has the colors
of the rainbow, as it lies on the plate. Havana
is a good fish-market ; for it is as open to the
ocean as Nahant, or the beach at Newport ; its
44 TO CUBA AND BACK.
streets running to the blue sea, outside the har-
bor, so that a man may almost throw his line
from the curb-stone into the Gulf Stream.
After breakfast, I take a volante and ride
into the town, to deliver my letters. Three
merchants whom I call upon, have palaces for
their business. The entrances are wide, the
staircases almost as stately as that of Staf-
ford House, the floors of marble, the panels of
porcelain tiles, the rails of iron, and the rooms
over twenty feet high, with open rafters, the
doors and windows colossal, the furniture rich
and heavy ; and there sits the merchant or
banker, in white pantaloons and thin shoes and
loose white coat and narrow neck-tie, smoking
a succession of cigars, surrounded by tropical
luxuries and tropical defences. In the lower
story of one of these buildings is an exposition
of silks, cotton and linens, in a room so large
that it looked like a part of the Great Exhibi-
tion in Hyde Park. At one of these counting-
palaces, I met Mr. Theodore Parker and Dr.
S. G. Howe, of Boston, who preceded me, in
the Karnac. Mr. Parker is here for his health,
which has caused anxiety to his friends lest his
A VACATION VOYAGE. 45
weakened frame should no longer support the
strong intellectual machinery, as before. He
finds Havana too hot, and will leave for Santa
Cruz by the first opportunity. Dr. Howe likes
the warm weather. It is a comfort to see
him, — a benefactor of his race, and one of the
few heroes we have left to us, since Kane
The Bishop of Havana has been in delicate
health, and is out of town, at Jesus del Monte ;
and Miss M is not at home, and the
Senoras F I failed to see this morning ;
but I find a Boston young lady, whose friends
were desirous I should see her, and who was
glad enough to meet one so lately firom her
home. A clergyman to whom, also, I had
letters, is gone into the country, without much
hope of improving his health. Stepping into a
little shop to buy a plan of Havana, my name
is called, and there is my hero's wife, the dis-
tinguished author and conversationist, whom
it is an exhilaration to meet anywhere, much
more in a land of strangers. Dr. and Mrs.
Howe and Mr. Parker are at the Cerro, a
pretty and cool place in the suburbs, but are
46 TO CUBA AND BACK.
coming in to Mrs. Almy's boarding-house, for
the convenience of being in the city, and for
nearness to friends, and the comforts of some-
thing like American or English housekeeping.
In the latter part of the afternoon, from
three o'clock, our parties are taking dinner at
Le Grand's. The little tables are again full,
with a fair complement of ladies. The after-
noon breeze is so strong that the draught of
air, though it is hot air, is to be avoided. The
passers-by almost put their faces into the
room, and the women and children of the
poorer order look wistfully in upon the luxuri-
ous guests, the colored glasses, the red wines,
and the golden fruits. The Opera troupe is
here, both the singers and the ballet ; and we
have Gazzaniga, Lamoureux, Max Maret-
zek and his sister, and others, in this house,
and Miss Ada Phillips at the next door, and
the benefit of a rehearsal, at nearly all hours
of the day, of operas that the Habaneros are
to rave over at night.
I yield to no one in my admiration of the
Spanish as a spoken language, whether in its
rich, sonorous, musical, and lofty style, in the
A VACATION VOYAGE. 47
mouth of a man who knows its uses, or in the
soft, indolent, languid tones of a woman,
broken by an occasional birdlike trill —
" With wanton heed, and giddy cunning,
The melting voice through mazes running" —
but I do not like it as spoken by the common
people of Cuba, in the streets. Their voices
and intonations are thin and eager, very rapid,
too much in the lips, and, withal, giving an
impression of the passionate and the childish
combined ; and it strikes me that the ten-
dency here is to enfeeble the language, and
take from it the openness of the vowels and
the strength of the harder consonants. This is
the criticism of a few hours' observation, and
may not be just ; but I have heard the same
from persons who have been longer acquainted
with it. Among the well educated Cubans,
the standard of Castilian is said to be kept
high, and there is a good deal of ambition to
After dinner, walked along the Paseo de
Ysabel Segunda, to see the pleasure-driving,
which begins at about five o'clock, and lasts
until dark. The most common carriage is the
48 TO CUBA AND BACK.
volante, but there are some carriages in the
English style, with servants in livery on the
box. I have taken a fancy for the strange-
looking two-horse volante. The postilion, the
long, dangling traces, the superfluousness of a
horse to be ridden by the man that guides the
other, and the prodigality of silver, give the
whole a look of style that eclipses the neat,
appropriate English equipage. The ladies
ride in full dress, decollete es, without hats.
The servants on the carriages are not all ne-
groes. Many of the drivers are whites. The
drives are along the Paseo de Ysabel, across
the Campo del Marte, and then along the
Paseo de Tacon, a beautiful double avenue,
lined with trees, which leads two or three miles,
in a straight line, into the country.
At 8 o'clock, drove to the Plaza de Armas,
a square in front of the governor's house, to
hear the Retreta, at which a military band
plays for an hour, every evening. There is a
clear moon above, and a blue field of glitter-
ing stars ; the air is pure and balmy ; the band
of fifty or sixty instruments discourses most
eloquent music under the shade of palm-trees
A VACATION VOYAGE. 49
and mangoes ; the walks are filled with pronme-
naders, and the streets around the square lined
with carriages, in which the ladies recline, and
receive the salutations and visits of the gentle-
men. Very few ladies walk in the square, and
those probably are strangers. It is against the
etiquette for ladies to walk in public in Ha-
I walk leisurely home, in order to see Ha-
vana by night. The evening is the busiest
season for the shops. Much of the business
of shopping is done after gas lighting. Vo-
lantes and coaches are driving to and fro,
and stopping at the shop doors, and attend-
ants take their goods to the doors of the car-
riages. The watchmen stand at the corners
of the streets, each carrying a long pike and a
lantern. Billiard -rooms and cafds are filled,
and all who can walk for pleasure will walk
now. This is also the principal time for pay-
There is one strange custom observed here
in all the houses. In the chief room, rows
of chairs are placed, facing each other, three
or four or five in each line, and always run-
50 TO CUBA AND BACK.
ning at right angles with the street wall of
the house. As you pass along the street,
you look up this row of chairs. In these,
the family and the visitors take their seats,
in formal order. As the windows are open,
deep, and large, with wide gratings and
no glass, one has the inspection of the inte-
rior arrangement of all the front parlors of
Havana, and can see what every lady wears,
and who is visiting her.
To-bed early, after so exciting a day as
one's first day in the tropics.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 51
If mosquito nets were invented for the pur-
pose of shutting mosquitoes in with you, they
answer their purpose very well. The beds
have no mattresses, and you lie on the hard
sacking. This favors coolness and neatness.
I should fear a mattress, in the economy of
our hotel, at least. Where there is nothing
but an iron frame, canvas stretched over it,
and sheets and a blanket, you may know
what you are dealing with.
The clocks of the churches and castles strike
the quarter hours, and at each stroke the
watchmen blow a kind of boatswain's whis-
tle, and cry the time and the state of the
weather, which, from their name (serenos),
should be always pleasant.
I have been advised to close the shutters
at night, whatever the heat, as the change of
52 TO CUBA AND BACK.
air that often takes place before dawn is in-
jurious ; and I notice that many of the bed-
rooms in the hotel are closed, both doors and
shutters, at night. This is too much for my
endurance, and I venture to leave the air to its
course, not being in the draught. One is also
cautioned not to step with bare feet on the
floor, for fear of the nigua (or chigua), a very
small insect, that is said to enter the skin and
build tiny nests, and lay little eggs that can
only be seen by the microscope, but are tor-
menting and sometimes dangerous. This may
be excessive caution, but it is so easy to ob-
serve, that it is not worth while to test the
Saturday^ February 19. — There are streaks
of a clear dawn ; it is nearly six o'clock, the
cocks are crowing, and the drums and trum-
pets sounding. We have been told of sea-
baths, cut in the rock, near the Punta, at the
foot of our Paseo. I walk down, under the
trees, towards the Presidio. What is this
clanking sound? Can it be cavalry, march-
ing on foot, their sabres rattling on the pave-
ment ? No, it comes from that crowd of poor
A VACATION VOYAGE. 53
looking creatures that are forming in files in
front of the Presidio. It is the chain-gang!
Poor wretches ! I come nearer to them, and
wait until they are formed and numbered and
marched off. Each man has an iron band
riveted round his ankle, and another round
his waist, and the chain is fastened, one end
into each of these bands, and dangles between
them, clanking with every movement. This
leaves the wearers free to use their arms, and,
indeed, their whole body, it being only a
weight and a badge and a note for discovery,
from which they cannot rid themselves. It is
kept on them day and night, working, eating,
or sleeping. In some cases, two are chained
together. They have passed their night in the
Presidio (the great prison and garrison), and
are marshalled for their day's toil in the public
streets and on the public works, in the heat
of the sun. They look thoroughly wretched.
Can any of these be political offenders? It
is said that Carlists, from Old Spain, worked
in this gang. Sentence to the chain-gang in
summer, in the case of a foreigner, must be
nearly certain death.
54 TO CUBA AND BACK.
Farther on, between the Presidio and the
Punta, the soldiers are drilling; and the drum-
mers and trumpeters are practising on the
rampart of the city w^lls.
A little to the left, in the Calzado de San
Lazaro, are the Banos de Mar. These are
boxes, each about twelve feet square and six
or eight feet deep, cut directly into the rock
which here forms the sea-line, with steps of
rock, and each box having a couple of port-
holes through which the waves of this tide-
less shore wash in and out. This arrangement
is necessary, as sharks are so abundant that
bathing in the open sea is dangerous. The
pure rock, and the flow and reflow, make
these bathing-boxes very agreeable, and the
water, which is that of the Gulf Stream, is
at a temperature of 72^. The baths are
roofed over, and partially screened on the in-
side, but open for a view out, on the side to-
wards the sea ; and as you bathe, you see the
big ships floating up the Gulf Stream, that
great highway of the Equinoctial world. The
water stands at depths of from three to five
feet in the baths ; and they are large enough
A VACATION VOYAGE. 56
for short swimming. The bottom is white
with sand and shells. These baths are
made at the public expense, and are free.
Some are marked for women, some for
men, and some " por la gente de color."
A little further down the Calzado, is an-
other set of baths, and further out in the
suburbs, opposite the Beneficencia, are still
After bath, took two or three fresh oranges,
and a cup of coffee, without milk; for the
little milk one uses with coffee, must not be
taken with fruit here, even in winter.
To the Cathedral, at 8 o'clock, to hear mass.
The Cathedral, in its exterior, is a plain and
quaint old structure, with a tower at each angle
of the front ; but within, it is sumptuous.
There is a floor of variegated marble, obstructed
by no seats or screens, tall pillars and rich
frescoed walls, and delicate masonry of various
colored stone, the prevailing tint being yellow,
and a high altar of porphyry. There is a look
of the great days of Old Spain about it;
and you think that knights and nobles wor-
shipped here and enriched it from their spoils
56 TO CUBA AND BACK.
and conquests. Every new eye turns first to
the place within the choir, under that alto-
relief, behind that short inscription, where, in
the wall of the chancel, rest the remains of
Christopher Columbus. Borne from Valla-
dolid to Seville, from Seville to San Domingo,
and from San Domingo to Havana, they at last
rest here, by the altar side, in the emporium
of the Spanish Islands. " What is man that
thou art mindful of him ! " truly and hum-
bly says the Psalmist ; but what is man, in-
deed, if his fellow men are not mindful of
such a man as this ! The creator of a hem-
isphere! It is not often we feel that mon-
uments are surely deserved, in their degree
and to the extent of their utterance. But
when, in the New World, on an island of
that group which he gave to civilized man, you
stand before this simple monumental slab, and
know that all of him that man can gather up,
lies behind it, so overpowering is the sense
of the greatness of his deeds, that you feel re-
lieved that no attempt has been made to
measure it by any work of man's hands. The
little there is, is so inadequate, that you make
A VACATION VOYAGE. 57
no comparison. It is a mere finger-point, the
hie jacetj the sic itur.
The priests in the chancel are numerous,
perhaps twenty or more. The service is
chanted with no aid of instruments, except
once the accompaniment of a small and rather
disordered organ, and chanted in very loud and
often harsh and blatant tones, which rever-
berate from the marble walls, with a tiresome
monotony of cadence. There is a degree of
ceremony in the placing, replacing, and carry-
ing to and fro of candles and crucifixes, and
swinging of censers, which the Roman service
as practised in the United States does not
give. The priests seem duly attentive and
reverent in their manner, but I cannot say
as much for the boys, of whom there were
three or four, gentlemen-fike looking lads, from
the college, doing service as altar boys. One
of these, who seemed to have the lead, was
strikingly careless and irreverent in his man-
ner; and when he went about the chancel,
fo incense all who were there, and to give
to each the small golden vessel to kiss, (con-
taining, I suppose, a relic,) he seemed as if he
58 TO CUBA AND BACK.
were counting his playmates out for a game,
and flinging the censer at them and snubbing
their noses with the golden vessel.
There were only about half a dozen persons
at mass, beside those in the chancel; and all
but one of these were women, and of the
women two were negroes. The women walk
in, veiled, drop down on the bare pavement,
kneeling or sitting, as the service requires or
permits. A negro woman, with devout and
even distressed countenance, knelt at the altar
rail, and one pale-eyed priest, in cassock, who
looked like an American or Englishman, knelt
close by a pillar. A file of visitors, American
or English women, with an escort of gentle-
men, came in and sat on the only benches, next
the columns ; and when the Host was ele-
vated, and a priest said to them, very civilly,
in English, " Please to kneel down," they
neither knelt nor stood, nor went away, but
kept their seats.
After service, the old sacristan, in blue
woollen dress, showed all the visitors the little
chapel and the cloisters, and took us beyond
the altar to the mural tomb of Columbus, and
A VACATION VOYAGE. 59
though he was liberally paid, haggled for two
In the rear of the Cathedral is the Seminario,
or college for boys, where also men are trained
for the priesthood. There are cloisters and a
pleasant garden within them.
60 TO CUBA AND BACK.
Breakfast, and again the cool marble floor,
white-robed tables, the fruits and flowers, and
curtains gently swaying, and women in morn-
ing toilets. Besides the openness to view,
these rooms are strangely open to ingress.
Lottery-ticket venders go the rounds of the
tables at every meal, and so do the girls
with tambourines for alms for the music in the
street. As there is no coin in Cuba less than
the medio, 6| cents, the musicians get a good
deal or nothing. The absence of any smaller
coin must be an inconvenience to the poor, as
they must often buy more than they want, or
go without. I find silver very scarce here.
It is difficult to get change for gold, and at
public places notices are put up that gold will
not be received for small payments. I find
the only course is to go to one of the Cambios
A VACATION VOYAGE. 61
de Moneda, whose signs are frequent in the
streets, and get a half doubloon changed into
reals and pesetas, at four per cent, discount,
and fill my pockets with small silver.
Spent the morning, from eleven o'clock to
dinner-time, in my room, writing and reading.
It is too hot to be out with comfort. It is not
such a morning as one would spend at the St.
Nicholas, or the Tremont, or at Morley's or
Meurice's. The rooms all open into the court-
yard, and the doors and windows, if open at
all, are open to the view of all passers-by. As
there are no bells, every call is made from the
veranda rail, down into the court-yard, and
repeated until the servant answers, or the caller
gives up in despair. Antonio has a compeer
and rival in Domingo, and the sharp voice of
the woman in the next room but one, who
proves to be a subordinate of the opera troupe,
is calling out, " Do-meen-go ! Do-meen-go ! "
and the rogue is in full sight from our side,
making significant faces, until she changes her
tune to "Antonio ! Antonio ! adonde esta Do-
mingo ? " But as she speaks very little Span-
ish, and Antonio very little French, it is not
62 TO CUBA AND BACK.
difficult for him to get up a misapprehension,
especially at the distance of two stories ; and
she is obliged to subside for a while, and her
place is supplied by the parrot. She is usually
unsuccessful, being either unreasonable, or bad
pay. The opera troupe are rehearsing in the
second flight, with doors and windows open.*
And throughout the hot middle day, we hear
the singing, the piano, the parrot, and the calls
and parleys with the servants below. But we
can see the illimitable sea from the end of the
piazza, blue as indigo ; and the strange city is
lying under our eye, with its strange blue and
white and yellow houses, with their roofs of
dull red tiles, its strange tropical shade-trees,
and its strange vehicles and motley popula-
tion, and the clangor of its bells, and the high
pitched cries of the venders in its streets.
Going down stairs at about eleven o'clock,
I find a table set in the front hall, at the foot
of the great staircase, and there, in full view
of all who come or go, the landlord and his
entire establishment, except the slaves and
coolies, are at breakfast. This is done every
day. At the caf<^ round the corner, the family,
A VACATION VOYAGE. 63
with their white, hired servants, breakfast and
dine in the hall, through which all the custom-
ers of the place must go to the baths, the bil-
liard rooms, and the bowling-alleys. Fancy
the manager of the Astor or Revere, spreading
a table for breakfast and dinner in the great
entry, between the office and the front door,
for himself and family and servants !
Yesterday and to-day I noticed in the streets
and at work in houses, men of an Indian com-
plexion, with coarse black hair. I asked if
they were native Indians, or of mixed blood.
No, they are the Coolies! Their hair, full
grown, and the usual dress of the country
which they wore, had not suggested to me the
Chinese ; but the shape and expression of the
eye make it plain. These are the victims of
the trade, of which we hear so much. I am
told there are 200,000 of them in Cuba, or, that
so many have been imported, and all within
seven years. I have met them everywhere,
the newly arrived, in Chinese costume, with
shaved heads, but the greater number in panta-
loons and jackets and straw hats, with hair full
grown. Two of the cooks at our hotel are
64 TO CUBA AND BACK.
Coolies. I must inform myself on the subject
of this strange development of the domination
of capital over labor. I am told there is a mart
of Coolies in the Cerro. This I must see, if it
is to be seen.
After dinner drove out to the Jesus del
Monte, to deliver my letter of introduction to
the Bishop. The drive, by way of the Cal-
zada de Jesus del Monte, takes one through
a wretched portion, I hope the most wretched
portion, of Havana, by long lines of one story
wood and mud hovels, hardly habitable even
for negroes, and interspersed with an abun-
dance of drinking shops. The horses, mules,
asses, chickens, children, and grown people use
the same door; and the back yards disclose
heaps of rubbish. The looks of the men, the
horses tied to the door-posts, the mules with
their panniers of fruits and leaves reaching
to the ground, all speak of Gil Bias, and of
what we have read of humble life in Spain.
The little negro children go stark naked, as in-
nocent of clothing as the puppies. But this is
so all over the city. In the front hall of Le
Grand's, this morning, a lady, standing in a full
A VACATION VOYAGE. 65
dress of spotless white, held by the hand a
naked little negro boy, of two or three years
old, nestling in black relief against the folds
of her dress.
Now we rise to the higher grounds of Jesus
del Monte. The houses improve in character.
They are still of one story, but high and of
stone, with marble floors and tiled roofs, with
court-yards of grass and trees, and through the
gratings of the wide, long, open windows, I see
the decent furniture, the double, formal row of
chairs, prints on the walls, and well-dressed
women manoeuvering their fans.
As a carriage with a pair of cream-colored
horses passed, having two men within, in the
dress of ecclesiastics, my driver pulled up and
said that was the Bishop's carriage, and that he
was going out for an evening drive. Still, I
must go on ; and we drive to his house. As
you go up the hill, a glorious view lies upon
the left. Havana, both city and suburbs, the
Morro with its batteries and lighthouse, the
ridge of fortifications called the Cabana and
Casa Blanca, the Castle of Atares, near at
hand, a perfect truncated cone, fortified at the
6Q TO CUBA AND BACK.
top, — ^the higher and most distant Castle of
" And, poured round all,
Old Ocean's gray and melancholy waste " —
No I Not so ! Young Ocean, the Ocean of
to-day ! The blue, bright, healthful, glittering,
gladdening, inspiring Ocean ! Have I ever seen
a city viev^ so grand ? The view of Quebec from
the foot of the Montmorenci Falls, may rival,
but does not excel it. My preference is for
this ; for nothing, not even the St. Lawrence,
broad and affluent as it is, will make up for the
living sea, the boundless horizon, the dioramic
vision of gliding, distant sails, and the open
arms and motherly bosom of the harbor, " with
handmaid lamp attending " : — our Mother
Earth, forgetting never the perils of that gay
and treacherous world of waters, its change of
moods, its "strumpet winds," — ready is she
at all times, by day or by night, to fold back
to her bosom her returning sons, knowing
that the sea can give them no drink, no food,
no path, no light, nor bear up their foot for an
instant, if they are sinking in its depths.
The regular episcopal residence is in town.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 67
This is only a house which the Bishop occu-
pies temporarily, for the sake of his health. It
is a modest house of one story, standing
very high, with a commanding view of city,
harbor, sea, and suburbs. The floors are mar-
ble, and the roof is of open rafters, painted
blue, and above twenty feet in height; the
windows are as large as doors, and the doors
as large as gates. The mayor-domo shows me
the parlor, in which are portraits in oil of dis-
tinguished scholars and missionaries and mar-
On my way back to the city, I direct the
driver to avoid the disagreeable road by which
we came out, and we drive by a cross road,
and strike the Paseo de Tacon at its outer
end, where is a fountain and statue, and a
public garden of the most exquisite flowers,
shrubs, and trees ; and around them are
standing, though it is nearly dark, files of car-
riages waiting for the promenaders, who are
enjoying a walk in the garden. I am able
to take the entire drive of the Paseo. It is
straight, very wide, with two carriage ways
and two foot ways, with rows of trees between.
68 TO CUBA AND BACK.
and at three points has a statue and a foun-
tain. One of these statues, if I recollect
aright, is of Tacon ; one of a Queen of Spain;
and one is an allegorical figure. The Paseo
is two or three miles in length ; reaching from
the Campo de Marte, just outside the walls, to
the last statue and public garden, on gradu-
ally ascending ground, and lined with beautiful
villas, and rich gardens full of tropical trees
and plants. No city in America has such an
avenue as the Paseo de Tacon. This, like
most of the glories of Havana, they tell you
they owe to the energy and genius of the man
whose name it bears. — I must guard myself,
by the way, while here, against using the words
America and American, when I mean the
United States and the people of our Republic ;
for this is America also ; and they here use the
word America as including the entire continent
and islands, and distinguish between Spanish
and English America, the islands and the
The Cubans have a taste for prodigality in
grandiloquent or pretty names. Every shop,
the most humble, has its name. They name
A VACATION VOYAGE. 69
the shops after the sun and moon and stars;
after gods and goddesses, demi-gods and he-
roes; after fruits and flowers, gems and pre-
cious stones ; after favorite names of women,
with pretty, fanciful additions ; and after all
alluring qualities, all delights of the senses,
and all pleasing affections of the mind. The
wards of jails and hospitals are each known
by some religious or patriotic designation ;
and twelve guns in the Morro are named for
the Apostles. Every town has the name of
an apostle or saint, or of some sacred subject.
The full name of Havana, in honor of Colum-
bus, is San Cristobal de la Habana ; and that of
Matanzas is San Carlos Alcazar de Matanzas.
It is strange that the island itself has defied
all the Spanish attempts to name it. It has
been solemnly named Juana, after the daugh-
ter of Ferdinand and Isabella ; then Ferdi-
nandina. after Ferdinand himself; then Santi-
ago, and, lastly, Ave Maria ; but it has always
fallen back upon the original Indian name of
Cuba. And the only compensation to the
hyperbolical taste of the race is that they dec-
orate it, on state and ceremonious occasions,
70 TO CUBA AND BACK.
with the musical prefix of " La siempre fide-
lisima Isla de Cuba."
At 7.30 p. M. went with my New York fel-
low-passengers to hear an opera, or, more cor-
rectly, to see the people of Havana at an
opera. The Teatro de Tacon is closed for
repairs. This is unfortunate, as it is said by
some to be the finest theatre, and by all to be
one of the three finest theatres in the world.
This, too, is attributed to Tacon ; although it
is said to have been a speculation of a clever
pirate, turned fish-dealer, who made a fortune
by it. But I like well enough the Teatro de
Villanueva. The stage is deep and wide, the
pit high and comfortable, and the boxes light
and airy and open in front, with only a light
tracery of iron to support the rails, leaving
you a full view of the costumes of the ladies,
even to their slippers. The boxes are also
separated from the passage ways in the rear,
only by wide lattice work ; so that the prom-
enaders between the acts can see the en-
tire contents of the boxes at one view; and
the ladies dress and sit and talk and use the
fan with a full sense that they are under
A VACATION VOYAGE. 71
the inspection of a "committee of the whole
house." They are all in full dress, d^collet^es,
without hats. It seemed, to my fancy, that
the mature women were divisible into two
classes, distinctly marked and with few inter-
mediates, — ^the obese and the shrivelled. I
suspect that the effect of time in this climate is
to produce a decided result in the one direction
or the other. But a single night's view at an
opera is very imperfect material for an induc-
tion, I know. The young ladies had, gen-
erally, full figures, with tapering fingers and
well rounded arms ; yet there were some in
the extreme contrast of sallow, bilious, sharp
countenances, with glassy eyes. There is evi-
dently great attention to manner, to the mode
of sitting and moving, to the music of the
voice in speaking, the use of the hands and
arms, and, perhaps it may be ungallant to
add, of the eyes.
The Governor-General, Concha, (whose title
is, strictly, Capitan- General,) with his wife
and two daughters, and two aides-de-camp, is
in the Vice-regal box, hung with red curtains,
and surmounted by the royal arms. I can
72 TO CUBA AND BACK.
form no opinion of him from his physiognomy,
as that is rather heavy, and gives not much
Between the acts, I make, as all the gentle-
men do, the promenade of the house. AU parts
of it are respectable, and the regulations are
good. I notice one curious custom, which I
am told prevails in all Spanish theatres. As
no women sit in the pit, and the boxes are
often hired for the season, and are high-priced,
a portion of an upper tier is set apart for those
women and children who cannot or do not
choose to get seats in the boxes. Their quar-
ter is separated from the rest of the house by
gates, and is attended by two or three old
women, with a man to guard the entrance.
No men are admitted among them, and their
parents, brothers, cousins and beaux are al-
lowed only to come to the door, and must
send in refreshments, and even a cup of
water, by the hands of the duenas.
Military, on duty, abound at the doors and
in the passage ways. The men to-night are
of the regiment of Guards, dressed in white.
There are enough of them to put down a
A VACATION VOYAGE. 73
small insurrection, on the spot. The singers
screamed well enough, and the play was a
poor one, Maria de Rohan, but the prima
donna, Gazzaniga, is a favorite, and the ex-
citable Cubans shout and scream, and throw
bouquets, and jump on the benches, and, at
last, present her with a crown, wreathed with
flowers, and with jewels of value attached to
it. Miss Adelaide Phillips is here, too, and
a favorite, and has been crowned, they say;
but she does not sing to-night.
74 TO CUBA AND BACK
To-morrow, I am to go, at eight o'clock,
either to the church of San Domingo, to hear
the military mass, or to the Jesuit church of
Belen ; for the service of my own church is not
publicly celebrated, even at the British Con-
sulate ; no service but the Roman Catholic
being tolerated on the island.
To-night there is a public mascara (mask
ball) at the great hall, next door to Le Grand's.
My only window is by the side of the numer-
ous windows of the great hall, and all these
are wide open ; and I should be stifled if I
were to close mine. The music is loud and
violent, from a very large band, with kettle
drums and bass drums and trumpets ; and be-
cause these do not make noise and uproar
enough, pistols are discharged, at the turns in
the tunes. For sleeping, I might as well have
A VACATION VOYAGE. 75
been stretched on the bass drum. This tumult
of noises, and the heat are wearing and oppres-
sive beyond endurance, as it draws on past
midnight, to the small hours ; and the servants
in the court of the hall seem to be tending at
tables of quarrelling men, and to be intermin-
ably washing and breaking dishes. After sev-
eral feverish hours, I light a match and look
at my watch. It is nearly five o'clock in the
morning. There is an hour to daylight, — and
will this noise stop before then ? The city
clocks struck five; the music ceased; and the
bells of the convents and monasteries tolled
their matins, to call the nuns and monks to
their prayers and to the bedsides of the sick
and dying in the hospitals, as the maskers go
home from their revels at this hideous hour
of Sunday morning. The servants ceased their
noises, the cocks began to crow and the bells
to chime, the trumpets began to bray, and the
cries of the streets broke in before dawn, and
I dropped asleep just as I was thinking sleep
past hoping for ; when I am awaked by a
knocking at the door, and Antonio calling,
" Usted ! Usted ! Un caballero quiere ver
76 TO CUBA AND BACK.
listed ! " to find it half-past nine, the middle
of the forenoon, and an ecclesiastic in black
dress and shovel hat, waiting in the passage
way, with a message from the bishop.
His Excellency regrets not having seen me
the day before, and invites me to dinner at
three o'clock, to meet three or four gentlemen ;
an invitation which I accept with pleasure.
I am too late for the mass, or any other
religious service, as all the churches close at ten
o'clock. A tepid, soothing bath, at " Los banos
publicos," round the corner, and I spend the
morning in my chamber. As we are at break-
fast, the troops pass by the Paseo, from the
mass service. Their gait is quick and easy,
with swinging arms, after the French fashion.
Their dress is seersucker, with straw hats and
red cockades : the regiments being distinguished
by the color of the cloth on the cuffs of the
coat, some being yellow, some green, and some
Soon after two o'clock, I take a carriage for
the bishop's. On my way out I see that the
streets are full of Spanish sailors from the men-
of-war, ashore for a holiday, dressed in the
A VACATION VOYAGE. 77
style of English sailors, with wide duck trow-
sers, blue jackets, and straw hats, with the
nanne of their ship on the front of the hat.
All business is going on as usual, and labor-
ers are at work in the streets and on the
The company consists of the bishop him-
self, the Bishop of Puebla de los Angelos in
Mexico, Father Luch, the rector of the Jesuit
College, who has a high reputation as a man
of intellect, and two young ecclesiastics. Our
dinner is well cooked, and in the Spanish style,
consisting of fish, vegetables, fruits, and of
stewed light dishes, made up of vegetables,
fowls and other meats, a style of cooking well
adapted to a climate in which one is very will-
ing to dispense with the solid, heavy cuts of
an English dinner.
The Bishop of Puebla wore the purple, the
Bishop of Havana a black robe with a broad
cape, lined with red, and each wore the Epis-
copal cross and ring. The others were in
simple black cassocks. The conversation was
in French ; for, to my surprise, none of the
company could speak English ; and being
78 TO CUBA AND BACK.
allowed my election between French and
Spanish, I chose the former, as the lighter in-
fliction on my associates.
I am surprised to see what an impression is
made on all classes in this country by the
pending « Thirty Millions Bill" of Mr. Slidell.
It is known to be an Administration measure,
and is thought to be the first step in a series
which is to end in an attempt to seize the is-
land. Our steamer brought verbal intelligence
that it had passed the Senate, and it was so
announced in the Diario of the day after our
arrival, although no newspaper that we brought
so stated it. Not only with these clergymen, but
with the merchants and others whom I have
met since our arrival, foreigners as well as
Cubans, this is the absorbing topic. Their
future seems to be hanging in doubt, de-
pending on the action of our government,
which is thought to have a settled purpose to
acquire the island. I suggested that it had not
passed the Senate, and would not pass the
House ; and, at most, was only an authority to
the President to make an offer that would cer-
tainly be refused. But they looked beyond the
A VACATION VOYAGE. 79
form of the act, and regarded it as the first
move in a plan, of which, although they could
not entirely know the details, they thought
they understood the motive.
These clergymen were well informed as to
the state of religion in the United States, the
relative numbers and force of the various de-
nominations, and their doctrinal differences ;
the reputations of Brownson, Parker, Beecher,
and others; and most minutely acquainted with
the condition of their own church in the Uni-
ted States, and with the chief of its clergy.
This acquaintance is not attributable solely to
their unity of organization, and to the con-
sequent interchange of communication, but
largely also to the tie of a common education
at the Propaganda or St. Sulpice, the cata-
logues of whose alumni are familiar to the
educated Catholic clergy throughout the world.
The subject of slavery, and the condition
and prospects of the negro race in Cuba, the
probable results of the Coolie system, and the
relations between Church and State in Cuba,
and the manner in which Sunday is treated
in Havana, the public school system in Amer-
80 TO CUBA AND BACK.
ica, the fate of Mormonism, and how our gov-
ernment will treat it, were freely discussed.
It is not because I have any reason to suppose
that these gentlemen would object to all they
said being printed in these pages, and read
by all who may choose to read it in Cuba,
or the United States, that I do not report
their interesting and instructive conversation ;
but because it would be, in my opinion, a vio-
lation of the universal understanding among
After dinner, we walked on the piazza, with
the noble sunset view of the unsurpassed
panorama lying before us ; and I took my
leave of my host, a kind and courteous
gentleman of Old Spain, as well as a prel-
ate, just as a few lights w^ere beginning to
sprinkle over the fading city, and the Morro
Xiight to gleam on the untroubled air.
Made two visits in the city this evening.
In each house, I found the double row of
chairs, facing each other, always with about
four or five feet of space between the rows.
The etiquette is that the gentlemen sit on the
row opposite to the ladies, if there be but
A VACATION VOYAGE. 81
two or three present. If a lady, on entering,
go to the side of a gentleman, when the other
row is open to her, it indicates either familiar
acquaintance or boldness. There is no peo-
ple so observant of outguards, as the Spanish
I notice, and my observation is supported by
what I am told by the residents here, that there
is no street-walking, in the technical sense, in
Havana, Whether this is from the fact that
no ladies walk in the streets, — which are too
narrow for comfortable or even safe walking,
— or by reason of police regulations, I do not
know. From what one meets with in the
streets, if he does not look farther, one would
not know that there was a vice in Havana,
not even drunkenness.
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Monday^ February 2. — Rose before six, and
walked as usual, down the Paseo, to the sea
baths. How refreshing is this bath, after the
hot night and close rooms ! At your side,
the wide blue sea with its distant sails, the
bath cut into the clean rock, the gentle wash-
ing in and out of the tideless sea, at the Gulf
Stream temperature, in the cool of the morn-
ing! As I pass down, I meet a file of Coolies,
in Chinese costume, marching, under over-
seers, to their work or their jail. And there
is the chain-gang! clank, clank, as they go,
headed by officers with pistols and swords,
and flanked by drivers with whips. This is
While at breakfast, a gentleman in the
dress of the regular clergy, speaking English,
called upon me, bringing me, from the bishop,
A VACATION VOYAGE. b3
an open letter of introduction and admission
to all the religious, charitable, and educational
institutions of the city, and offering to con-
duct me to the Belen (Bethlehem). He is
Father B. of Charleston, S. C, temporarily in
Havana, with whom I find I have some ac-
quaintances in common, both in America and
abroad. We drive together to the Belen. I
say drive ; for few persons walk far in Havana,
after ten o'clock in the morning. The volantes
are the public carriages of Havana ; and are
as abundant as cabs in London. You never
need stand long at a street door without
finding one. The postilions are always ne-
groes ; and I am told that they pay the owner
a certain sum per day for the horse and vo-
lante, and make what they can above that.
The Belen is a group of buildings, of the
usual yellow or tawny color, covering a good
deal of ground, and of a thoroughly monastic
character. It was first a Franciscan monas-
tery, then a barrack, and now has been given
by the Government to the Jesuits. The com-
pany of Jesuits here is composed of a rector
and about forty clerical and twenty lay brethren.
84 TO CUBA AND BACK.
These perform every office, from the highest
scientific investigations and instruction, down
to the lowest menial offices, in the care of the
children ; some serving in costly vestments at
the high altar, and others in coarse black
garb at the gates. It is only three years
since they established themselves in Havana,
but in that time they have formed a school
of two hundred boarders and one hundred
day scholars, built dormitories for the boarders,
and a common hall, restored the church and
made it the most fully attended in the city;
established a missionary work in all parts of
the town, recalled a great number to the dis-
cipline of the Church, and not only created
something like an enthusiasm of devotion
among the women, who are said to have
monopolized the religion of Cuba in times
past, but have introduced among the men,
and among many influential men, the prac-
tices of confession and communion, to which
they had been almost entirely strangers. I do
not take this account from the Jesuits them-
selves, but from the regular clergy of other
orders, and from Protestants who are opposed
A VACATION VOYAGE. 85
to them and their influence. All agree that
they are at work with zeal and success.
1 met my distinguished acquaintance of yes-
terday, the rector, who took me to the hoys*
chapel, and introduced me to Father Antonio
Cabre, a very young man of a spare frame
and intellectual countenance, with hands so
white and so thin, and eyes so bright, and
cheek so pale ! He is at the head of the de-
partment of mathematics and astronomy, and
looks indeed as if he had outwatched the
stars, in vigils of science or of devotion. He
took me to his laboratory, his observatory,
and his apparatus of philosophic instruments.
These I am told are according to the latest
inventions, and in the best style of French and
German workmanship. I was also shown a
collection of coins and medals, a cabinet of
shells, the commencement of a museum of
natural history, already enriched with most of
the birds of Cuba, and an interesting cabinet
of the woods of the island, in small blocks, each
piece being polished on one side, and rough on
the other. Among the woods were the ma-
hoganies, the iron-wood, the ebony, the lignum
86 TO CUBA AND BACK.
vitae, the cedar, and many others, of names
unfamiliar to me, which admit of the most ex-
quisite polish. Some of the most curious were
from the Isla de Pinos, an island belonging to
Cuba, and on its southern shore.
The sleeping arrangement for the boys here
seemed to me to be new, and to be well
adapted to the climate. There is a large hall,
with a roof about thirty feet from the floor,
and windows near the top, to give light and
ventilation above, and small port-holes, near
the ground, to let air into the passages. In
this hall are double rows of compartments,
like high pews, or, more profanely, like the
large boxes in restaurants and chop-houses,
open at the top, with curtains instead of doors,
and each large enough to contain a single bed,
a chair, and a toilet table. This ensures both
privacy and the light and air of the great hall.
The bedsteads are of iron ; and nothing can
exceed the neatness and order of the apart-
ments. The boys' clothes are kept in another
part of the house, and they take to their dormi-
tories only the clothes that they are using.
Each boy sleeps alone. Several of the Fath-
A VACATION VOYAGE. 87
ers sleep in the hall, in curtained rooms at the
ends of the passage-ways, and a watchman
walks the rounds all night, to guard against
fire, and to give notice of sickness.
The boys have a playground, a gymna-
sium, and a riding-school. But although they
like riding and fencing, they do not take to the
robust exercises and sports of English school-
boys. An American whom I met here, who
had spent several months at the school, told
me that in their recreations they were more
like girls, and liked to sit a good deal, play-
ing or working with their hands. He pointed
out to me a boy, the son of an American
mother, a lady to whom I brought letters and
kind wishes from her many friends at the
North, and told me that he had more pluck
than any boy in the school.
The roof of the Belen is flat, and gives a
pleasant promenade, in the open air, after the
sun is gone down, which is much needed, as
the buildings are in the dense part of the city.
The brethren of this order wear short hair,
with the tonsure, and dress in coarse cassocks
of plain black, coming to the feet, and but-
88 TO CUBA AND BACK.
toned close to the neck, with a cape, but with
. no white of collar above ; and in these, they
sweep like black spectres, about the passage-
ways, and across the halls and court-yards.
There are so many of them that they are able
to give thorough and minute attention to the
boys, not only in instruction, both secular and
religious, but in their entire training and de-
From the scholastic part of the institution,
I passed to the church. It is not very large,
has an open marble floor, a gallery newly
erected for the use of the brethren and other
men, a sumptuous high altar, a sacristy
and vestry behind, and a small altar, by which
burned the undying lamp, indicating the pres-
ence of the Sacrament. In the vestry, I was
shown the vestments for the service of the high
altar, some of which are costly and gorgeous in
the extreme, not probably exceeded by those
of the Temple at Jerusalem in the palmiest
days of the Jewish hierarchy. All are presents
from wealthy devotees. One, an alb, had a
circle of precious stones ; and the lace alone on
another, a present from a lady of rank, is said
A VACATION VOYAGE. 89
to have cost three thousand dollars. Whatever
may be thought of the rightfulness of this ex-
penditure, turning upon the old question as to
which the alabaster box of ointment and the
ordained costliness of the Jewish ritual " must
give us pause," it cannot be said of the Jesuits
that they live in cedar, while the ark of God
rests in curtains ; for the actual life of the
streets hardly presents any greater contrast,
than that between the sumptuousness of their
apparel at the altar, and the coarseness and
cheapness of their ordinary dress, the bareness,
of their rooms, and the apparent severity of
The Cubans have a childish taste for exces-
sive decoration. Their altars look like toy-
shops. A priest, not a Cuban, told me that
he went to the high altar of the cathedral
once, on a Christmas day, to officiate, and
when his eye fell on the childish and almost
profane attempts at symbolism, — a kind of doll
millinery, — if he had not got so far that he
could not retire without scandal, he would
have left the duties of the day to others. At
the Belen there is less of this ; but the Jesuits
90 TO CUBA AND BACK.
find or think it necessary to conform a good
deal to the popular taste.
In the sacristy, near the side altar, is a dis-
tressing image of the Virgin, not in youth, but
the mother of the mature man, with a sword
pierced through her heart, — referring to the
figurative prediction, " a sword shall pierce
through thine own soul also." The handle and
a part of the blade remain without, while the
marks of the deep wound are seen, and the
countenance expresses the sorest agony of
mind and body. It is painful, and beyond
all legitimate scope of art, and haunts one,
like a vision of actual misery. It is almost
the only thing in the church of' which I have
brought away a distinct image in my memory.
A strange, eventful history, is that of the
Society of Jesus ! Ignatius Loyola, a soldier
and noble of Spain, renouncing arms and
knighthood, hangs his trophies of war upon
the altar of Monserrate. After intense studies
and barefoot pilgrimages, persecuted by relig-
ious orders whose excesses he sought to re-
strain, and frowned upon by the Inquisition,
he organizes, with Xavier and Faber, at Mont-
A VACATION VOYAGE. 91
martre, a society of three. From this small
beginning, spreading upwards and outwards,
it overshadows the earth. Now, at the top of
success, it is supposed to control half Christen-
dom. Now, his order proscribed by State and
Church alike and suppressed by the Pope him-
self, there is not a spot of earth in Catholic
Christendom where the Jesuit can place the
sole of his foot. In this hour of distress, he
finds refuge in Russia, and in Protestant Prus-
sia. Then, restored and tolerated, the order
revives here and there in Europe, with a fitful
life ; and, at length, blazes out into a glory of
missionary triumphs and martyrdoms in China,
in India, in Africa, and in North America;
and now, in these later days, we see it ad-
vancing everywhere to a new epoch of labor
and influence. Thorough in education, per-
fect in discipline, absolute in obedience, — as
yielding, as indestructible, as all-pervading as
water or as air !
The Jesuits make strong friends and strong
enemies. Many, who are neither the one nor
the other, say of them that their ethics are ar-
tificial, and their system unnatural ; that they
92 TO CUBA AND BACK.
do not reform nature, but destroy it; that, aim-
ing to use the world without abusing it, they
reduce it to subjection and tutelage; that they
are always either in dangerous power, or in
disgrace ; and although they may labor with
more enthusiasm and self-consecration than
any other order, and meet with astonishing
successes for a time, yet such is the char-
acter of their system that these successes are
never permanent, but result in opposition, not
only from Protestants, and moderate Catholics,
and from the civil power, but from other relig-
ious orders and from the regular clergy in their
own Church, — an opposition to which they
are invariably compelled to yield, at last. In
fine, they declare, that, allowing them all zeal,
and all ability, and all devotedness, their sys-
tem is too severe and too unnatural for per-
manent usefulness anywhere, — medicine and
not food, lightning and not light, flame and not
Not satisfied with this moderated judgment,
their opponents have met them, always and
everywhere, with uniform and vehement repro-
bation. They say to them — the opinion of
A VACATION VOYAGE. 93
mankind has condemned you ! The just and
irreversible sentence of time has made you a
by-word and a hissing, and reduced your very
name, the most sacred in its origin, to a syno-
nyme for ambition and deceit !
Others, again, esteem them the nearest ap-
proach in modern times to that type of men
portrayed by one of the chiefest, in his epis-
tle : " In much patience, in afflictions, in ne-
cessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprison-
ments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in
fastings ; by pureness, by knowledge, by long-
suffering ; ... by honor and dishonor ; by evil
report and good report; as deceivers and yet
true ; as unknown, and yet well known ; as
dying, and behold we live ; as chastened, and
not killed; as sorrowful, and yet always re-
joicing ; as poor, yet making many rich ; as
having nothing, and yet possessing all things."
94 TO CUBA AND BACK.
As there are no plantations to be seen near
Havana, I determine to go down to Matanzas,
near which the sugar plantations are in full
tide of operation at this season. A steamer
leaves here every night at ten o'clock, reaching
Matanzas before daylight, the distance by sea
being between fifty and sixty miles.
Took this steamer to-night. She got under
way punctually at ten o'clock, and steamed
down the harbor. The dark waters are alive
with phosphorescent light. From each ship
that lies moored, the cable from the bows,
tautened to its anchor, makes a run of silver
light. Each boat, gliding silently from ship to
ship, and shore to shore, turns up a silver rip-
ple at its stem, and trails a wake of silver be-
hind ; while the dip of the oar-blades brings
up liquid silver, dripping, from the opaque
A VACATION VOYAGE. 95
deep. We pass along the side of the two-
decker, and see through her ports the lanterns
and men ; under the stern of one frigate, and
across the bows of another (for Havana is w^ell
supplied w^ith men-of-war) ; and drop leisurely
down by the Cabana, where we are hailed from
the rocks ; and bend round the Morro, and are
out on the salt, rolling sea. Having a day
of work before me, I went early to my berth,
and was waked up by the letting off of steam,
in the lower harbor of Matanzas, at three
o'clock in the morning. My fellow-passengers,
who sat up, said the little steamer tore and
plunged, and jumped through the water like
a thing that had lost its wits. They seemed to
think that the Cuban engineer had got a ma-
chine that would some day run away with
him. It was, certainly, a very short passage.
We passed a good many vessels lying at
anchor in the lower harbor of Matanzas, and
came to anchor about a mile from the pier. It
was clear, bright moonlight. The small boats
came off to us, and took us and our luggage
ashore. I was landed alone on a quay, carpet-
bag in hand, and had to guess my way to the
96 TO CUBA AND BACK,
inn, which was near the water-side. I beat on
the big, close-barred door ; and a sleepy negro,
in time, opened it. Mine host was up, expect-
ing passengers, and after waiting on the very-
tardy movements of the negro, who made a
separate journey to the yard for each thing the
room needed, I got to bed by four o'clock, on
the usual piece of canvas stretched over an
iron frame, in a room having a brick floor, and
windows without glass closed with big-bolted
Tuesday^ February 22. — After coffee, walked
out to deliver my letters to' Mr. , an Amer-
ican merchant, who has married the daughter
of a planter, a gentleman of wealth and char-
acter. He is much more agreeable and pains-
taking than we have any right to expect of one
who is served so frequently with notice that
his attentions are desired for the entertainment
of a stranger. Knowing that it is my wish
to visit a plantation, he gives me a letter to
Don Juan C , who has an ingenio (sugar
plantation), called La Ariadne, near Limo-
nar, and about twenty-five miles back in the
country from Matanzas. The train leaves at
A -VACATION VOYAGE. 97
2.30 p. M., which gives me several hours for
Although it is not yet nine o'clock, it is very
hot, and one is glad to keep on the shady side
of the broad streets of Matanzas. This city
was built later and more under foreign direc-
tion than Havana, and I have been told, not by
persons here however, that for many years the
controlling influences of society were French,
English, and American ; but that lately the pol-
icy of the government has been to discourage
foreign influence, and now Spanish customs
prevail — bull-fights have been introduced, and
other usages and entertainments which had
had no place here before. Whatever may be
the reason, this city differs from Havana in
buildings, vehicles, and dress, and in the width
of its streets, and has less of the peculiar air
of a tropical city. It has about 25,000 inhabi-
tants, and stands where two small rivers, the
Yumuri and the San Juan, crossed by hand-
some stone bridges, run into the sea, dividing
the city into three parts. The vessels lie at
anchor from one to three miles below the
city, and lighters, with masts and sails, line
98 TO CUBA AND BACK.
the stone quays of the little rivers. The city
is flat and hot, but the country around is pic-
turesque, hilly, and fertile. To the westward
of the town, rises a ridge, bordering on the sea,
called the Cumbre, which is a place of resort
for the beauty of its views ; and in front of the
Cumbre, on the inland side, is the deep rich
valley of the Yumuri, with its celebrated
cavern. These I must see, if I can, on my
return from the plantation.
In my morning walk, I see a company of
Coolies, in the hot sun, carrying stones to
build a house, under the eye of a taskmaster
who sits in the shade. The stones have been
dropped in a pile, from carts, and the Coolies,
carry them, in files, to the cellar of the house.
They are naked to the waist, with short-legged
cotton trowsers coming to the knees. Some
of these men were strongly, one or two of them
powerfully built, but many seemed very thin
and frail. While looking on, I saw an Ameri-
can face standing near me, and getting into
conversation with the man, found him an in-
telligent shipmaster from New York, who had
lived in Matanzas, for a year or two engaged
A VACATION VOYAGE. 99
in business. He told me, as I had heard in
Havana, that the importer of the Coolies gets
$400 a head for them from the purchaser, and
that the Coolies are entitled from the purchaser
to four dollars a month, which they may de-
mand monthly if they choose, and are bound to
eight years' service, during which time they
may be held to all the service that a slave is
subject to. They are more intelligent, and are
put to higher labor than the negro. He said,
too, it would not do to flog a Coolie. Idolaters
as they are, they have a notion of the dignity
of the human body, at least as against stran-
gers, which does not allow them to submit to
the indignity of corporal chastisement. If a
Coolie is flogged, somebody must die ; either
the Coolie himself, for they are fearfully giv^n
to suicide, or the perpetrator of the indignity,
or some one else, according to their strange
principles of vicarious punishment. Yet such
is the value of labor in Cuba, that a citizen
will give $400, in cash, for the chance of
enforcing eight years' labor, at $4 per month,
from a man speaking a strange language, wor-
shipping strange gods or none, thinking sui-
100 TO CUBA AND BACK.
cide a virtue, and governed by no moral laws
in common with his master, — his value being
yet further diminished by the chances of nat-
ural death, of sickness, accident, escape, and
of forfeiting his services to the government,
for any crime he may commit against laws he
does not understand.
The Plaza is in the usual style, — an enclosed
garden, with walks ; and in front is the Gov-
ernment House. In this spot, so fair and so
still in the noon-day sun, some fourteen years
ago, under the fire of the platoons of Spanish
soldiers, fell the patriot and poet, one of the
few popular poets of Cuba, Gabriel de la Con-
cepcion Valdez. Charged with being the head
of that concerted movement of the slaves for
their freedom which struck such terror into
Cuba, in 1844, he was convicted and ordered
to be shot. At the first volley, as the story
is told, he was only wounded. " Aim here ! "
said he, pointing to his head. Another volley,
and it was all over.
The name and story of Gabriel de la Con-^
ception Valdez are preserved by the historians
and tourists of Cuba. He is best known,
A VACATION VOYAGE. 101
however, by the name of Placido, that under
which he wrote and published, than by his
proper name. He was a man of genius and
a man of valor, but — he was a mulatto !
102 TO CUBA AND BACK.
Took the train for Limonar, at 2.30 p. m.
There are three classes of cars, all after the
American model, the first of about the con-
dition of our first-class cars when on the point
of being condemned as worn out ; the second,
a little plainer; and the third, only covered
wagons with benches. The car I entered had
" Davenport & Co., makers, Cambridgeport,
Mass.," familiarly on its front, and the next
had " Eaton, Gilbert & Co., Troy, N. York."
The brakemen on the train are Coolies, one of
them a handsome lad, with coarse, black hair,
that lay gracefully about his head, and eyes
handsome, though of the Chinese pattern.
They were all dressed in the common shirt,
trowsers and hat, and, but for their eyes, might
be taken for men of any of the Oriental races.
As we leave Matanzas, we rise on an as-
A VACATION VOYAGE. 103
cending grade, and the bay and city lie open
before us. The bay is deep on the western
shore, under the ridge of the Cumbre, and there
the vessels lie at anchor ; while the rest of the
bay is shallow, and its water, in this state of
the sky and light, is of a pale green color.
The lighters, with sail and oar, are plying be-
tween the quays and the vessels below. All is
pretty and quiet and warm, but the scene has
none of those regal points, that so impress
themselves on the imagination and memory
in the surroundings of Havana.
I am now to get my first view of the interior
of Cuba. I could not have a more favorable
day. The air is clear, and not excessively
hot. The soft clouds float midway in the
serene sky, the sun shines fair and bright,
and the luxuriance of a perpetual summer
covers the face of nature. These strange
palm-trees everywhere ! I cannot yet feel at
home among them. Many of the other trees
are like our own, and though, tropical in
fact, look to the eye as if they might grow as
well in New England as here. But the royal
palm looks so intensely and exclusively trop-
104 TO CUBA AND BACK.
ical ! It cannot grow beyond this narrow belt
of the earth's surface. Its long, thin body, so
straight and so smooth, swathed from the foot
— in a tight bandage of gray canvas, leaving
only its deep-green neck, and over that its crest
and plumage of deep-green leaves! It gives
no shade, and bears no fruit that is valued by
men. And it has no beauty to atone for those
wants. Yet it has more than beauty, — a
strange fascination over the eye and the fancy,
that will never allow it to be overlooked or
forgotten. The palm-tree seems a kind of
lusus naturce to the northern eye — an exotic
wherever you meet it. It seems to be con-
scious of its want of usefulness for food or
shade, yet has a dignity of its own, a pride
of unmixed blood and royal descent, — the
hidalgo of the soil.
What are those groves and clusters of
small growth, looking like Indian corn in a
state of transmigration into trees, the stalk
turning into a trunk, a thin soft coating half
changed to bark, and the ears of corn turning
into melons? Those are the bananas and
plantains, as their bunches of green and
A VACATION VOYAGE. 105
yellow fruits plainly enough indicate, when
you come nearer. But, that sad, weeping
tree, its long yellow-green leaves drooping
to the ground! What can that be? It has
a green fruit like a melon. There it is
again, in groves ! I interrupt my neigh-
bor's tenth cigarrito, to ask him the name
of the tree. It is the cocoa! And that soft
green melon becomes the hard shell we break
with a hammer. Other trees there are, in
abundance, of various forms and foliage, but
they might have grown in New England or
New York, so far as the eye can teach us;
but the palm, the cocoa, the banana and plan-
tain are the characteristic trees you could not
possibly meet with in any other zone.
Thickets, — jungles I might call them —
abound. It seems as if a bird could hardly
get through them ; yet they are rich with wild
flowers of all forms and colors, the white, the
purple, the pink, and the blue. The trees are
full of birds of all plumage. There is one
like our brilliant oriole. I cannot hear their
notes, for the clatter of the train. Stone
fences, neatly laid up, run across the lands ;
106 TO CUBA AND BACK.
— not of our cold bluish -gray granite, the
color, as a friend once said, of a miser's eye,
but of soft, warm brown and russet, and
well overgrown with creepers, and fringed with
flowers. There are avenues, and here are
clumps of the prim orange-tree, with its
dense and deep-green polished foliage gleam-
ing with golden fruit. Now we come to
acres upon acres of the sugar-cane, looking
at a distance like fields of overgrown broom-
corn. It grows to the height of eight or ten
feet, and very thick. An army could be hid-
den in it. This soil must be deeply and
There, at the end of an avenue of palms,
in a nest of shade-trees, is a group of white
buildings, with a sea of cane-fields about
it, with one high furnace-chimney, pouring
out its volume of black smoke. This is a
sugar plantation, — my first sight of an in-
genio; and the chimney is for the steam
works of the sugar-house. It is the height
of the sugar season, and the untiring engine
toils and smokes day and night. Ox carts,
loaded with cane, are moving slowly to the
A VACATION VOYAGE. 107
sugar-house from the fields ; and about the
house, and in the fields, in various atti-
tudes and motions of labor, are the negroes,
men and women and children, some cutting
the cane, some loading the carts, and some
tending the mill and the furnace. It is a
busy scene of distant industry, in the after-
noon sun of a languid Cuban day.
Now these groups of white one -story build-
ings become more frequent, sometimes very
near each other, all having the same character,
— the group of white buildings, the mill, with
its tall furnace-chimney, and the look of a dis-
tillery, and all differing from each other only
in the number and extent of the buildings, or
in the ornament and comfort of shade-trees and
avenues about them. Some are approached
by broad alleys of the palm, or mango, or
orange, and have gardens around them, and
stand under clusters of shade-trees ; while
others glitter in the hot sun, on the flat sea of
cane-fields, with only a little oasis of shade-
trees and fruit-trees immediately about the
I now begin to feel that I am in Cuba ;
108 TO CUBA AND BACK.
in the tropical, rich, sugar-growing, slave-
tilled Cuba. Heretofore, I have seen only
the cities and their environs, in which there
are more things that are common to the
rest of the world. The country life tells the
story of any people that have a country life.
The New England farm-house shows the heart
of New England. The mansion-house and
cottage show the heart of Old England. The
plantation life that I am seeing and about to
see, tells the story of Cuba, the Cuba that
has been and that is.
As we stop at one station, which seems
to be in the middle of a cane-field, the ne-
groes and Coolies go to the cane, slash off
a piece with their knives, cut off the rind,
and chew the stick of soft, saccharine pulp,
the juice running out of their mouths as they
eat. They seem to enjoy it so highly, that I
am tempted to try the taste of it, myself. But
I shall have time for all this at La Ariadne.
These stations consist merely of one or two
buildings, where the produce of the neighbor-
hood is collected for transportation, and at
which there are very few passengers. The
A VACATION VOYAGE. 109
railroad is intended for the carriage of sugar
and other produce, and gets its support almost
entirely in that way ; for it runs through a
sparse, rural population, where there are no
towns ; yet so large and valuable is the sugar
crop that I believe the road is well supported.
At each station, are its hangers-on of free ne-
groes, a few slaves on duty as carriers, a few
low whites, and now and then some one who
looks as if he might be an overseer or mayoral
of a plantation.
Limonar, appears in large letters on the
small building where we next stop, and I get
out and inquire of a squad of idlers for the
plantation of Senor C . They point
to a group of white buildings, about a quarter
of a mile distant, standing prettily under
high shade-trees, and approached by an ave-
nue of orange-trees. Getting a tall negro to
shoulder my bag, for a real, I walk to the
house. It is an afternoon of exquisite beauty.
How can any one have a weather sensation,
in such an air as this? There is no current
of the slightest chill anywhere, neither is it
oppressively hot. The air is serene and pure
110 TO CUBA AND BACK.
and light. The sky gives its mild assur-
ance of settled fair weather. All about me
is rich verdure, over a gently undulating sur-
face of deeply fertile country, with here and
there a high hill in the horizon, and, on one
side, a ridge that may be called mountains.
There is no sound but that of the birds, and in
the next tree they may be counted by hun-
dreds. Wild flowers, of all colors and scents,
cover the ground and the thickets. This is
the famous red earth, too. The avenue looks
as if it had been laid down with pulverized
brick, and all the dust on any object you see is
red. Now we turn into the straight avenue of
orange-trees, — prim, deep-green trees, glitter-
ing with golden fruit. Here is the one-story,
high-roofed house, with long, high piazzas.
There is a high wall, carefully whitewashed,
enclosing a square with one gate, looking like
a garrisoned spot. That must be the negroes'
quarters ; for there is a group of little negroes
at the gate, looking earnestly at the approach-
ing stranger. Beyond is the sugar-house, and
the smoking chimney, and the ox carts, and the
field hands. * Through the wide, open door of
A VACATION VOYAGE. Ill
the mansion, I see two gentlemen at dinner, an
older and a younger, — ^the head of gray, and
the head of black, and two negro women, one
serving, and the other swinging her brush to
disperse the flies. Two big, deep-mouthed
hounds come out and bark ; and the younger
gentleman looks at us, comes out, and calls
off the dogs. My negro stops at the path and
touches his hat, waiting permission to go to
the piazza with the luggage; for negroes do
not go to the house door without previous
leave, in strictly ordered plantations. I deliver
my letter, and in a moment am received with
such cordial welcome that I am made to feel
as if I had conferred a favor by coming out
to see them.*
* I have no right to introduce the pubHc to the house
of Mr. C . But that has already been done. Many
tourists, and last and most unreservedly of all, Miss Bremer,
in her Homes of the New World, have already given it
such publicity, that I have thought my lighter step would
not be felt on the beaten way.
112 TO CUBA AND BACK.
At some seasons, a visit may be a favor, on
remote plantations; but I know this is the
height of the sugar season, when every hour is
precious to the master. After a brief toilet, I
sit down with them ; for they have just be-
gun dinner. In five minutes, I am led to
feel as if I were a friend of many years.
Both gentlemen speak English like a native
tongue. To the younger it is so, for he was
born in South Carolina, and his mother is a
lady of that State. The family are not here.
They do not live on the plantation, but in
Matanzas. The plantation is managed by the
son, who resides upon it; the father coming
out occasionally for a few days, as now, in
the busy season.
The dinner is in the Spanish style, which I
am getting attached to. I should flee from a
A VACATION" VOYAGE. 113
joint, or a sirloin. We have rice, excellently
cooked, as always in Cuba, eggs with it, if we
choose, and fried plantains, sweet potatoes,
mixed dishes of fowl and vegetables, with a
good deal of oil and seasoning, in which a hot
red pepper, about the size of the barberry, pre-
vails. Catalonia wine, which is pretty sure to
be pure, is their table claret, while sherry, which
also comes direct from the mother-country, is
for dessert. I have taken them by surprise, in
the midst of the busiest season, in a house
where there are no ladies ; yet the table, the
service, the dress and the etiquette, are none
the less in the style of good society. There
seems to be no letting down, where letting
down would be so natural and excusable.
I suppose the fact that the land and the.
agricultural capital of the interior are in the
hands of an upper class, which does no manual
labor, and which has enough of wealth and
leisure to secure the advantages of continued
intercourse with city and foreign society, and
of occasional foreign travel, tends to preserve
throughout the remote agricultural districts,
habits and tone and etiquette, which other-
114 TO CUBA AND BACK.
wise would die out, in the entire absence of
large towns and of high local influences.
Whoever has met with a book called
" Evenings in Boston," and read the story of
the old negro, Saturday, and seen the frontis-
piece of the negro fleeing through the woods
of St. Domingo, with two little white boys,
one in each hand, will know as much of Mr.
C , the elder, as I did the day before
seeing him. He is the living hero, or rather
subject, for Saturday was the hero, of that
tale. His father was a wealthy planter of St.
Domingo, a Frenchman, of large estates, with
wife, children, friends and neighbors. These
were gathered about him in a social circle in
his house, when the dreadful insurrection over-
took them, and father, mother, sons and daugh-
ters were murdered in one night, and only two
of the children, boys of eight and ten, were saved
by the fidelity of Saturday, an old and devoted
house servant. Saturday concealed the boys,
got them off the island, took them to Charles-
ton, South Carolina, where they found friends
among the Huguenot families, and the refu-
gees from St. Domingo. There Mr. C
A VACATION VOYAGE. 115
grew up; and after a checkered and adven-
turous early life, a large part of it on the sea,
he married a lady of worth and culture, in
South Carolina, and settled himself as a plan-
ter, on this spot, nearly forty years ago. His
plantation he named El Labarinto, (The
Labyrinth,) after a favorite vessel he had
commanded, and for thirty years it was a
prosperous cafetal, the home of a happy
family, and much visited by strangers from
America and Europe. The causes which
broke up the coffee estates of Cuba, carried
this with the others; and it was converted
into a sugar plantation, under the new name
of La Ariadne, from the fancy of Ariadne
having shown the way out of the Labyrinth.
Like most of the sugar estates, it is no longer
the regular home of its proprietors.
The change from coffee plantations to sugar
plantations, — from the cafetal to the ingenio,
has seriously affected the social, as it has the
economic condition of Cuba.
Coffee must grow under shade. Conse-
quently the coffee estate was, in the first place,
a plantation of trees, and by the hundred acres.
116 TO CUBA AND BACK.
Economy and taste led the planters, who were
chiefly the French refugees from St. Domingo,
to select fruit-trees, and trees valuable for their
wood, as well as pleasing for their beauty and
shade. Under these plantations of trees, grew
the coffee plant, an evergreen, and almost an
ever-flowering plant, with berries of changing
hues, and, twice a year, brought its fruit to
maturity. That the coffee might be tended
and gathered, avenues wide enough for wagons
must be carried through the plantations, at fre-
quent intervals. The plantation was, therefore,
laid out like a garden, with avenues and foot-
paths, all under the shade of the finest trees,
and the spaces between the avenues were
groves of fruit-trees and shade-trees, under
which grew, trimmed down to the height of
five or six feet, the coffee plant. The labor of
the plantation was in tending, picking, drying,
and shelling the coffee, and gathering the fresh
fruits of trees for use and for the market, and
for preserves and sweetmeats, and in raising
vegetables and poultry, and rearing sheep and
horned cattle and horses. It was a beautiful
and simple horticulture, on a very large scale.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 117
Time was required to perfect this garden, — the
Cubans call it paradise — of a cafetal ; but
when matured, it was a cherished home. It
required and admitted of no extraordinary me-
chanical power, or of the application of steam,
or of science, beyond the knowledge of soils,
of simple culture, and of plants and trees.
For twenty years and more it has been
forced upon the knowledge of the reluctant
Cubans, that Brazil, the West India Islands
to the southward of Cuba, and the Spanish
Main, can excel them in cofFee-raising. The
successive disastrous hurricanes of 1843 and
1845, which destroyed many and damaged most
of the coffee estates, added to the colonial sys-
tem of the mother-country, which did not give
extraordinary protection to this product, are
commonly said to have put an end to the cof-
fee plantations. Probably, they only hastened
a change which must at some time have come.
But the same causes of soil and climate which
made Cuba inferior in coffee-growing, gave her
a marked superiority in the cultivation of
sugar. The damaged plantations were not re-
stored as coffee estates, but were laid down to
118 TO CUBA AND BACK.
the sugar-cane ; and gradually, first in the
western and northern parts, and daily extend-
ing easterly and southerly over the entire isl-
and, the exquisite cafetals have been prostrated
and dismantled, the groves of shade and fruit
trees cut down, the avenues and footpaths
ploughed up, and the denuded land laid down
to wastes of sugar-cane.
The sugar-cane allows of no shade. There-
fore the groves and avenues must fall. To
make its culture profitable, it must be raised
in the largest possible quantities that the ex-
tent of land will permit. To attempt the
raising of fruit, or of the ornamental woods, is
bad economy for the sugar planter. Most of
the fruits, especially the orange, which is the
chief export, ripen in the midst of the sugar
season, and no hands can be spared to attend
to them. The sugar planter often buys the
fruits he needs for daily use and for making
preserves, from the neighboring cafetals. The
cane ripens but once a year. Between the
time when enough of it is ripe to justify be-
ginning to work the mill, and the time when
the heat and rains spoil its qualities, all the
A VA.CATION VOYAGE. 119
sugar making of the year must be done.
In Louisiana, this period does not exceed eight
weeks. In Cuba it is full four months. This
gives Cuba a great advantage. Yet these four
months are short enough ; and during that
time, the steam-engine plies and the furnace
fires burn night and day.
Sugar making brings with it steam, fire,
smoke, and a drive of labor, and admits of and
requires the application of science. Managed
with skill and energy, it is extremely produc-
tive. Indifferently managed, it may be a loss.
The sugar estate is not valuable, like the coffee
estate, for what the land will produce, aided
by ordinary and quiet manual labor only. Its
value is in the skill, and the character of the
labor. The land is there, and the negroes are
there ; but the result is loss or gain, according
to the amount of labor that can be obtained,
and the skill with which the manual labor and
the mechanical powers are applied. It is said
that at the present time, in the present state
of the market, a well-managed sugar estate
yields from fifteen to twenty-five per cent, on
the investment. This is true, I am inclined to
120 TO CUBA AND BACK.
think, if by the investment be meant only the
land, the machinery, and the slaves. But the
land is not a large element in the investment.
The machinery is costly, yet its value depends
on the science applied to its construction and
operation. The chief item in the investment
is the slave labor. Taking all the slaves to-
gether, men, women, and children, the young
and the old, the sick and the well, the good
and the bad, their market value averages
above $1000 a head. Yet of these, allowing
for those too young or too old, for the sick, and
for those who must tend the young, the old
and the sick, and for those whose labor, like
that of the cooks, only sustains the others, not
more than one half are able-bodied, productive
laborers. The value of this chief item in the
investment depends largely on moral and in-
tellectual considerations. How unsatisfactory
is it, then, to calculate the profits of the in-
vestment, when you leave out of the calcula-
tion the value of the controlling power, the
power that extorts the contributions of labor
from the steam and the engine and the fire,
and from the more difficult human will. This
A VACATION VOYAGE. 121
is the " plus X " of the formula, which, unas-
certained, gives us little light as to the result.
But, to return to the changes wrought by
this substitution of sugar for coffee. The sugar
plantation is no grove, or garden, or orchard.
It is not the home of the pride and affections
of the planter's family. It is not a coveted,
indeed, hardly a desirable residence. Such
families as would like to remain on these
plantations, are driven off for want of neigh-
boring society. Thus the estates, largely
abandoned by the families of the planters
suffer the evils of absenteeism, while the
owners live in the suburbs of Havana and
Matanzas, and in the Fifth Avenue of New
York. The slave system loses its patriarchal
character. The master is not the head of a
great family, its judge, its governor, its physi-
cian, its priest and its father, as the fond dream
of the advocates of slavery, and sometimes,
doubtless, the reality, made him. Middlemen,
in the shape of administradores, stand between
the owner and the slaves. The slave is lit-
tle else than an item of labor raised or bought.
The sympathies of common home, common
122 TO CUBA AND BACK.
childhood, long and intimate relations and
many kind offices, common attachments to
house, to land, to dogs, to cattle, to trees, to
birds, — ^the knowledge of births, sicknesses, and
deaths, and the duties and sympathies of a
common religion, — all those things that may
ameliorate the legal relations of the master
and slave, and often give to the face of ser-
vitude itself precarious but interesting features
of beauty and strength, — these they must not
look to have.
This change has had some effect already,
and will produce much more, on the social
system of Cuba.
There are still plantations on which the
families of the wealthy and educated planters
reside. And in some cases the administrador
is a younger member or a relative of the
family, holding the same social position ; and
the permanent administrador will have his
family with him. Yet, it is enough to say
that the same causes which render the ingenio
no longer a desirable residence for the owner,
make it probable that the administrador will
be either a dependent or an adventurer ; a
A VACATION VOYAGE. 123
person from whom the owner will expect a
great deal, and the slaves but little, and from
whom none will get all they expect, and per-
haps none all they are entitled to.
In the afternoon we went to the sugar-house,
and I was initiated into the mysteries of the
work. There are four agents : steam, fire, cane-
juice, and negroes. The results are sugar and
molasses. At this ingenio, they make only the
Muscovado, or brown sugar. The processes
are easily described, but it is difficult to give
an idea of the scene. It is one of condensed
and determined labor.
To begin at the beginning. — The cane is
cut from the fields, by companies of men and
women, working together, who use an instru-
ment called a machete, which is something
between a sword and a cleaver. Two blows
with this slash off* the long leaves, and a third
blow cuts off" the stalk, near to the ground.
At this work, the laborers move like reapers,
in even lines, at stated distances. Before
them is a field of dense, high-waving cane;
and behind them, strewn wrecks of stalks and
leaves. Near, and in charge of the party,
124 TO CUBA AND BACK.
stands a driver, or more grandiloquently, a con-
tra-mayoral, with the short, limber plantation
whip, the badge of his office, under his arm.
Ox-carts pass over the field, and are loaded
with the cane, which they carry to the mill.
The oxen are worked in the Spanish fashion,
the yoke being strapped upon the head, close
to the horns, instead of being hung round the
neck, as with us, and are guided by goads,
and by a rope attached to a ring through the
nostrils. At the mill, the cane is tipped from
the carts into large pUes, by the side of the
platform. From these piles, it is placed care-
fully, by hand, lengthwise, in a long trough.
This trough is made of slats, and moved by
the power of the endless chain, connected with
the engine. In this trough, it is carried be-
tween heavy, horizontal, cylindrical rollers,
where it is crushed, its juice falling into re-
ceivers below, and the crushed cane passing
off and falling into a pile on the other side.
This crushed cane, (bagazo) falling from be-
tween the rollers, is gathered into baskets, by
men and women, who carry it on their heads
into the fields and spread it for drying. There
A VACATION VOYAGE. 125
it is watched and tended as carefully as new-
mown grass in haymaking, and raked into
cocks or winrows, on an alarm of rain. When
dry, it is placed under sheds for protection
against wet. From the sheds and from the
fields, it is loaded into carts and drawn to
the furnace doors, into which it is thrown by
negroes, who crowd it in by the armful, and
rake it about with long poles. Here it feeds
the perpetual fires by which the steam is made,
the machinery moved, and the cane-juice
boiled. The care of the bagazo is an impor-
tant part of the system ; for if that becomes
wet and fails, the fires must stop, or resort be
had to wood, which is scarce and expensive.
Thus, on one side of the rollers is the cease-
less current of fresh, full, juicy cane-stalks, just
cut from the open field ; and on the other side,
is the crushed, mangled, juiceless mass, drifting
out at the draught, and fit only to be cast into
the oven and burned. This is the way of the
world, as it is the course of art. The cane is
made to destroy itself. The ruined and cor-
rupted furnish the fuel and fan the flame that
lures on and draws in and crushes the fresh
126 TO CUBA AND BACK.
and wholesome; and the operation seems about
as mechanical and unceasing in the one case
as in the other.
From the rollers, the juice falls below into
a large receiver, from which it flows into great,
open vats, called defecators. These defecators
are heated by the exhaust steam of the engine,
led through them in pipes. All the steam con-
densed forms water, which is returned warm
into the boiler of the engine. In the defecators,
as their name denotes, the scum of the juice
is purged off", so far as heat alone will do it.
From the last defecator, the juice is passed
through a trough into the first caldron. Of
the caldrons, there is a series, or, as they call
it, a train, through all which the juice must
go. Each caldron is a large, deep, copper vat,
heated very hot, in which the juice seethes
and boils. At each, stands a strong negro,
with long, heavy skimmer in hand, stirring the
juice and skimming off the surface. This
scum is collected and given to the hogs, or
thrown upon the muck heap, and is said
to be very fructifying. The juice is ladled
from one caldron to the next, as fast as the
A VACATION VOYAGE. 127
office of each is finished. From the last cal-
dron, where its complete crystallization is ef-
fected, it is transferred to coolers, which are
large, shallow pans. When fully cooled, it
looks like brown sugar and molasses mixed.
It is then shovelled from the coolers into hogs-
heads. These hogsheads have holes bored in
their bottoms ; and, to facilitate the drainage,
strips of cane are placed in the hogshead, with
their ends in these holes, and the hogshead is
filled. The hogsheads are set on open frames,
under which are copper receivers, on an in-
clined plane, to catch and carry off the drip-
pings from the hogsheads. These drippings
are the molasses, which is collected and put
into tight casks.
I believe I have given the entire process.
When it is remembered that all this, in every,
stage, is going on at once, within the limits of
the mill, it may well be supposed to present a
busy scene. The smell of juice and of sugar-
vapor, in all its stages, is intense. The negroes
fatten on it. The clank of the engine, the
steady grind of the machines, and the high,
wild cry of the negroes at the caldrons to the
128 TO CUBA AND BACK.
stokers at the furnace doors, as they chant out
their directions or wants — now for more fire,
and now to scatter the fire — which must be
heard above the din, "A-a-b'la! A-a-b'la!''
" E-e-cha candela ! " " Pu-er-ta ! " and the bar-
baric African chant and chorus of the gang at
work filling the cane-troughs ; — all these make
the first visit at the sugar-house a strange ex-
perience. But after one or two visits, the mo-
notony is as tiresome as the first view is excit-
ing. There is, literally, no change in the work.
There are the same noises of the machines, the
same cries fi-om negroes at the same spots, the
same intensely sweet smell, the same state of
the work in all its stages, at whatever hour you
visit it, whether in the morning, or evening, at
midnight, or at the dawn of the day. If you
wake up at night, you hear the "A-a-b'la !
A-a-b'la ! " " E-e-cha ! E-e-cha ! " of the cal-
dron-men crying to the stokers, and the high,
monotonous chant of the gangs filling the
wagons or the trough, a short, improvisated
stave, and then the chorus ; — not a tune, like
the song of sailors at the tackles and falls, but
a barbaric, tuneless intonation.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 129
When I went into the sugar-house, 1 saw
a man with an unmistakably New England
face in charge of the engine, with that look
of intelligence and independence so different
from the intelligence and independence of all
" Is not that a New England man ? "
"Yes," said Mr. C , "he is from
Lowell ; and the engine was built in Lowell."
When I found him at leisure, I made my-
self known to him, and he sat down on the
brick work of the furnace, and had a good un-
burdening of talk ; for he had not seen any-
one from the United States for three months.
He talked, like a true Yankee, of law and
politics, — the Lowell Bar and Mr. Butler, Mr.
Abbott and Mr. Wentworth ; of the Boston
Bar and Mr. Choate ; of Massachusetts poli-
tics and Governor Banks ; and of national
politics and the Thirty Millions Bill, and
whether it would pass, and what if it did.
This engineer is one of a numerous class,
whom the sugar culture brings annually to
(yuba. They leave home in the autumn, en-
gage themselves for the sugar season, put the
130 TO CUBA AND BACK.
machinery in order, work it for the four or five
months of its operation, clean and put it in
order for lying by, and return to the United
States in the spring. They must be machin-
ists, as well as engineers ; for all the repairs
and contrivances, so necessary in a remote
place, fall upon them. Their skill is of great
value, and while on the plantation their work
is incessant, and they have no society or re-
creations whatever. The occupation, however,
is healthful, their position independent, and
their pay large. This engineer had been sev-
eral years in Cuba, and I found him well in-
formed, and, I think, impartial and indepen-
dent. He tells me, which I had also heard in
Havana, that this plantation is a favorable
specimen, both for skill and humanity, and is
managed on principles of science and justice,
and yields a large return. On many planta-
tions, — on most, I suspect, from all I can
learn — the negroes, during the sugar season,
are allowed but four hours for sleep in the
twenty-four, with one for dinner, and a half
hour for breakfast, the night being divided into
three watches, of four hours each, the laborers
A VACATION VOYAGE. 131
taking their turns. On this plantation, the
laborers are in two watches, and divide the
night equally between them, which gives them
six hours for sleep. In the day, they have
half an hour for breakfast and one hour for
dinner. Here, too, the very young and the
very old are excused from the sugar-house,
and the nursing mothers have lighter duties
and frequent intervals of rest. The women
worked at cutting the cane, feeding the mill,
carrying the bagazo in baskets, spreading and
drying it, and filling the wagons; but not in
the sugar-house itself, or at the furnace doors.
I saw that no boys or girls were in the mill — .
none but full grown persons. The very small
children do absolutely nothing all day, and the
older children tend the cattle and run of errands.
And the engineer tells me that in the long run
this liberal system of treatment, as to hours
and duties, yields a better return than a more
He thinks the crop this year, which has been
a favorable one, will yield, in well-managed
plantations a net interest of from fifteen to
twenty-five per cent, on the investment ; mak-
132 TO CUBA AND BACK.
ing no allowance, of course, for the time and
skill of the master. This will be a clear re-
turn to planters like Mr. C , who do not
eat up their profits by interest on advances,
and have no mortgages, and require no ad-
vances from the merchants.
But the risks of the investment are great.
The cane-fields are liable to fires, and these
spread with great rapidity, and are difficult to
extinguish.* Last year Mr. C lost
$7,000 in a few hours by fire. In the cholera
season he lost $12,000 in a few days by
deaths among the negroes.
According to the usual mode of calcula-
tion, I suppose the value of the investment of
Mr. C to be between $125,000 and
$150,000. On well-managed estates of this
size, the expenses should not exceed $10,000.
* While these sheets are in press, the newspapers report
that a fire has spread over a section of country between
Matanzas and Cardenas, not only destroying the standing
cane, but burning up houses, sugar-mills, and the sugar
and molasses stored for the market. Several lives were
lost by the conflagration, which affected, more or less,
above twenty plantations.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 133
The gross receipts, in sugar and molasses, at a
fair rate of the markets, cannot average less
than between $35,000 and $40,000. This
should leave a profit of between eighteen and
twenty-two per cent. Still, the worth of an
estimate depends on the principle on which
the capital is appraised. The number of acres
laid down to cane, on this plantation, is about
three hundred. The whole number of negroes
is one hundred, and of these not more than
half, at any time, are capable of efficient labor ;
and there are twenty-two children below the
age of five years, out of a total of one hun-
Beside the engineer, some large plantations
have one or more white assistants ; but here
an intelligent negro has been taught enough to
take charge of the engine when the engineer is
off duty. This is the highest post a negro can
reach in the mill, and this negro was mightily
pleased when I addressed him as maquinista.
There are, also, two or three white men
employed, during the season, as sugar mas-
ters. Their post is beside the caldrons and
defecators, where they are to watch the work
134 TO CUBA AND BACK.
in all its stages, regulate the heat and the
time for each removal, and oversee the men.
These, with the engineer, make the force
of white men who are employed for the
The regular and permanent officers of a
plantation are the mayoral and mayordomo.
The mayoral is, under the master or his ad-
ministrador, the chief mate or first lieutenant
of the ship'. He has the general oversight of
the negroes, at their work or in their houses,
and has the duty of exacting labor and en-
forcing discipline. Much depends on his
character, as to the comfort of master and
slaves. If he is faithful and just, there may
be ease and comfort ; but if he is not, the
slaves are never sure of justice, and the mas-
ter is sure of nothing. The mayoral comes,
of necessity, from the middle class of whites,
and is usually a native Cuban, and it is not
often that a satisfactory one can be found or
kept. The day before I arrived, in the height
of the season, Mr. C had been obliged
to dismiss his mayoral, on account of his con-
duct to the women, which was producing the
A VACATION VOYAGE. 136
worst results with them and with the men :
and not long before, one was dismissed for
conniving with the negroes in a wholesale sys-
tem of theft, of which he got the lion's share.
The mayordomo is the purser, and has the
immediate charge of the stores, produce, mate-
rials for labor, and provisions for consump-
tion, and keeps the accounts. On well regu-
lated plantations, he is charged with all the
articles of use or consumption, and with the
products as soon as they are in condition to
be numbered, weighed, or counted, and renders
his accounts of what is consumed or destroyed,
and of the produce sent away.
There is also a boyero, who is the herdsman,
and has charge of all the cattle. He is some-
times a negro.
Under the mayoral, are a number of contra-'
mayorales, who are the boatswain's mates of
the ship, and correspond to the " drivers " of
our southern plantations. One of them goes
with every gang when set to work, whether in
the field or elsewhere, and whether men or
women, and watches and directs them, and
enforces labor from them. The drivers carry
136 TO CUBA AND BACK.
under the arm, at all times, the short, limber
plantation whip, the badge of their office and
their means of compulsion. They are almost
always negroes ; and it is generally thought
that negroes are not more humane in this
office than the low whites. On this planta-
tion, it is three years since any slave has been
whipped; and that punishment is never in-
flicted here on a woman. Near the negro
quarters, is a penitentiary, which is of stone,
with three cells for solitary confinement, each
dark, but well ventilated. Confinement in
these, on bread and water, is the extreme
punishment that has been found necessary
for the last three years. The negro fears
solitude and darkness, and covets his food,
fire, and companionship.
With all the corps of hired white labor, the
master must still be the real power, and on his
character the comfort and success of the plan-
tation depend. If he has skill as a chem-
ist, a geologist, or a machinist, it is not lost ;
but, except as to the engineer, who may
usually be relied upon, the master must be
capable of overseeing the whole economy
A VACATION VOYAGE. 137
of the plantation, or all will go wrong. His
chief duty is to oversee the overseers ; to
watch his officers, the mayoral, the mayor-
domo, the boyero, and the sugar masters.
These are mere hirelings, and of a low sort,
such as a slave system reduces them to ; and
if they are lazy, the work slackens ; and if
they are ill-natured, somebody suffers. The
mere personal presence of the master operates
as a stimulus to the work. This afternoon
young Mr. C and I took horses and
rode out to the cane-field, where the people
were cutting. They had been at work a half
hour. He stopped his horse where they were
when we came to them, and the next half
hour, without a word from him, they had made
double the distance of the first. It seems to
me that the work of a plantation is what a
clock would be that always required a man's
hand pressing on the main spring. With the
slave, the ultimate sanction is force. The mo-
tives of pride, shame, interest, ambition, and
affection may be appealed to, and the minor
punishments of degradation in duty, depriva-
tion of food and sleep, and solitary confine-
138 TO CUBA AND BACK.
ment, may be resorted to ; but the whip which
the driver always carries, reminds the slave
that if all else fails, the infliction of painful
bodily punishment lies behind, and will be
brought to bear, rather than that the question
be left unsettled. Whether this extreme be
reached, and how often it be reached, depends
on the personal qualities of the master. If he
is lacking in self-control, he will fall into vio-
lence. If he has not the faculty of ruling by
moral and intellectual power, — be he ever so
humane, if he is not firm and intelligent, the
bad among the slaves will get the upper hand,
and he will be in danger of trying to recover
his position by force. Such is the reasoning
At six o'clock, the large bell tolls the knell of
parting day and the call to the Oracion, which
any who are religious enough can say, wherever
they may be, at work or at rest. In the times
of more religious strictness, the bell for the Ora-
cion, just at dusk, was the signal for prayer in
every house and field, and even in the street,
and for the benediction from parent to child,
and master to servant. Now, in the cities, it
A VACATION VOYAGE. 139
tolls unnoticed, and on the plantations, it is
treated only as the signal for leaving off work.
The distribution of provisions is made at the
storehouse, by the mayordomo, my host super-
intending it in person. The people take ac-
cording to the number in their families ; and
so well acquainted are all with the apportion-
ment, that in only one or two instances were
inquiries necessary. The kitchen fires are
lighted in the quarters, and the evening meal
is prepared. I went into the quarters before
they were closed. A high wall surrounds an
open square, in which are the houses of the
negroes. This has one gate, which is locked at
dark ; and to leave the quarters after that time,
is a serious offence. The huts were plain, but
reasonably neat, and comfortable in their con-
struction and arrangement. In some were fires,
round which, even in this hot weather, the ne-
groes like to gather. A group of little negroes
came round the strange gentleman, and the
smallest knelt down with uncovered heads, in a
reverent manner, saying, " Buenos dias Senor."
I did not understand the purpose of this action,
and as there was no one to explain the usage
140 TO CUBA AND BACK.
to me, I did them the injustice to suppose that
they expected money, and distributed some
small coins among them. But I learned after-
wards that they were expecting the benedic-
tion, — the hand on the head, and the " Dios
te haga bueno." It was touching to see their
simple, trusting faces turned up to the stran-
ger, — countenances not yet wrought by mis-
fortune, or injury, or crime, into the strong
expressions of mature life. None of these
children, even the smallest, was naked, as
one usually sees them in Havana. In one
of the huts, a proud mother showed me her
Herculean twin boys, sprawling in sleep on the
bed. Before dark, the gate of the quarters is
bolted, and the night is begun. But the fires
of the sugar-house are burning, and half of the
working people are on duty there for their six
I sat for several hours with my host and his
son, in the veranda, engaged in conversation,
agreeable and instructive to me, on those topics
likely to present themselves to a person placed
as I was; — ^the state of Cuba, its probable
future, its past, its relations to Europe and the
A VACATION VOYAGE. 141
United States, slavery, the Coolie problem, the
free-negro-labor problem, and the agriculture,
horticulture, trees and fruits of the island.
The elder gentleman retired early, as he was
to take the early train for Matanzas.
My sleeping-room is large and comfortable,
with brick floor and glass windows, pure white
bed linen and mosquito net, and ewer and basin
scrupulously clean, bringing back, by contrast,
visions of Le Grand's, and Antonio, and Do-
mingo, and the sounds and smells of those
upper chambers. The only moral I am en-
titled to draw from this is, that a well-ordered
private house with slave labor, may be more
neat and creditable than an ill-ordered public
house with free labor. As the stillness of the
room comes over me, I realize that I am far
away in the hill country of Cuba, the guest of
a planter, under this strange system, by which
one man is enthroned in the labor of another
race, brought from across the sea. The song
of the negroes breaks out afresh from the fields,
where they are loading up the wagons, — that
barbaric undulation of sound : —
" Na-nu, A-ya, — Na-ne, A-ya:"
142 TO CUBA AND BACK.
and the recurrence of here and there a few
words of Spanish, among which " Manana "
seemed to be a favorite. Once, in the middle
of the night, I waked, to hear the strains again,
as they worked in the open field, under the
A VACATION VOYAGE. 143
When I came out from my chamber this
morning, the elder Mr. C had gone.
The watchful negress brought me coffee, and
I could choose between oranges and bananas,
for my fruit. The young master had been in
the saddle an hour or so. I sauntered to
the sugar-house. It was past six, and all
hands were at work again ; amid the per-
petual boiling of the caldrons, the skimming
and dipping and stirring, the cries of . the
caldron-men to the firemen, the slow gait of
the wagons, and the perpetual to-and-fro of
the carriers of the cane. The engine is doing
well enough, and the engineer has the great
sheet of the New York Weekly Herald,
which he is studying, in the intervals of
labor, as he sits on the corner of the brick-
144 TO CUBA AND BACK.
But a turn in the garden is more agreeable,
among birds, and flowers, and aromatic trees.
Here is a mignonette-tree, forty feet high, and
every part is full and fragrant with flowers,
as is the little mignonette in our flower-pots.
There is the allspice, a large tree, each leaf
strong enough to flavor a dish. Here is the
tamarind-tree : I must sit under it, for the sake
of the old song. My young friend joins me,
and points out, on the allspice-tree, a chame-
leon. It is about six inches long, and of a
pea-green color. He thinks its changes of
color, which are no fable, depend on the will
or on the sensations, and not on the color of
the object the animal rests upon. This one,
though on a black trunk, remained pale green.
When they take the color of the tree they
rest on, it may be to elude their enemies, to
whom their slow motions make them an easy
prey. At the corner of the house stands a
pomegranate-tree, full of fruit, which is not
yet entirely ripe ; but we find enough to give
a fair taste of its rich flavor. Then there are
sweet oranges, and sour oranges, and limes,
and cocoa-nuts, and pine-apples, the latter not
A VACATION VOYAGE. 145
entirely ripe, but in the condition in which they
are usually plucked for our market, and abun-
dance of fuschias, and Cape jasmines, and the
highly prized night-blooming cereus.
The most frequent shade-tree here is the
mango. It is a large, dense tree, with a gen-
eral resemblance, in form and size, to our lime
or linden. Three noble trees stand before the
door, in front of the house. One is a Ta-
hiti almond, another a mango, and the third a
cedar. And in the distance is a majestic tree,
of incredible size, which is, I believe, a ceyba.
When this estate was a cafetal, the house
stood at the junction of four avenues, from the
four points of the compass : one of the sweet
orange, one of the sour orange, one of palms,
and. one of mangoes. Many of these trees fell
in the huiricanes of 1843 and '45. The ave-
nue which leads from the road, and part of
that leading towards the sugar-house, are pre-
served. The rest have fallen a sacrifice to the
sugar-cane ; but the garden, the trees about the
house, and what remains of the avenuos, give
still a delightful appearance of sheltei and
146 TO CUBA AND BACK.
I have amused myself by tracing the pro-
gress, and learning the habits of the red ants, a
pretty formidable enemy to all structures of
wood. They eat into the heart of the hard-
est woods ; not even the lignum vitae, or iron-
wood, or cedar, being proof against them.
Their operations are secret. They never ap-
pear upon the wood, or touch its outer shell. A
beam or rafter stands as ever with a goodly
outside; but you tap it, and find it a shell.
Their approaches, too, are by covered ways.
When going from one piece of wood to an-
other, they construct a covered way, very small
and low, as a protection against their numer-
ous enemies, and through this they advance
to their new labors. I think that they may
sap the strength of a whole roof of rafters,
without the observer being able to see one of
them, unless he breaks their covered ways, or
lays open the wood.
The course of life at the plantation is after
this manner. At six o'clock, the great bell be-
gins the day, and the negroes go to their work.
The house servants bring coffee to the family
and guests, as they appear or send for it. The
A VACATION VOYAGE. 147
master's horse is at the door, under the tree,
as soon as it is light, and he is off on his tour,
before the sun rises. The family breakfasts
at ten o'clock, and the people, — ^la gente, as
the technical phrase is for the laborers, break-
fast at nine. The breakfast is like that of the
cities, with the exception of fish and the vari-
ety of meats, and consists of rice, eggs, fried
plantains, mixed dishes of vegetables and
fowls, other meats rarely, and fruits, with
claret or Catalonia and coffee. The time for
the siesta or rest, is between breakfast and
dinner. Dinner hour is three for the family,
and two for the people. The dinner does not
differ much from the breakfast, except that
there is less of fruit and more of meat, and
that some preserve is usually eaten, as a des-
sert. Like the breakfast, it ends with coffee.
In all manner of preserves, the island is rich.
The almond, the guava, the cocoa, the sour-
sop, the orange, the lime, and the mamey ap-
ple, afford a great variety. After dinner, and
before dark, is the time for long drives ; and,
when the families are on the estates, for visits
to neighbors. There is no third meal ; but cof-
148 TO CUBA AND BACK.
fee, and sometimes tea, is offered at night.
The usual time for bed is as early as ten
o'clock, for the day begins early, and the chief
out-door works and active recreations must be
had before breakfast.
In addition to the family house, the negro
quarters, and the sugar-house, there is a range
of stone buildings, ending with a kitchen, occu-
pied by the engineer, the mayoral, the boyero,
and the mayordomo, who have an old negro
woman to cook for them, and another to
wait on them. There is also another row of
stone buildings, comprising the store-house,
the penitentiary, the hospital, and the lying-
in room. The penitentiary, I have described.
The hospital and lying-in room are airy, well-
ventilated, and suitable for their purposes.
Neither of them had any tenants to-day.
In the centre of the group of buildings, is a
high frame, on which hangs the great bell
of the plantation. This rings the negroes up
in the morning, and in at night, and sounds
the hours for meals. It calls all in, on any
special occasion, and is used for an alarm to
the neighboring plantations, rung long and
A VACATION VOYAGE. 149
loud, in case of j&re in the cane-fields, or other
occasions for calling in aid.
After dinner, to-day, a volante, with two
horses, and a postilion in bright jacket and
buckled boots and large silver spurs, the har-
ness well-besprinkled with silver, drove to the
door, and an elderly gentleman alighted and
came to the house, attired with scrupulous
nicety of white cravat and dress coat, and with
the manners of the ancien regime. This is M.
Bourgeoise, the owner of the neighboring, large
plantation, Santa Catalina, one of the few cafe-
tals remaining in this part of the island. He is
too old, and too much attached to his planta-
tion, to change it to a sugar estate ; and he is
too rich to need the change. He, too, was a
refugee from the insurrection of St. Domingo,
but older than M. C . Not being able
to escape, he was compelled to serve as aid-
de-camp to Jacques Dessalines. He has a good
deal to say about the insurrection and its re-
sults, of a great part of which he was an eye-
witness. The sight of him brought vividly to
mind the high career and sad fate of the just
and brave Toussaint L'Ouverture, and the bril-
150 TO CUBA AND BACK.
liant successes, and fickle, cruel rule, of Des-
salines, — when French marshals were out-ma-
noeuvred by negro generals, and pitched battles
were won by negroes and mulattoes against
This gentleman had driven over in the
hope of seeing his friend and neighbor, Mr.
C , the elder. He remained with us
for some time, sitting under the veranda,
the silvered volante and its black horses and
black postilion standing under the trees. He
invited us to visit his plantation, which I
was desirous to do, as a cafetal is a rarity
My third day at La Ariadne, is much like
the preceding days : the early rising, the coffee
and fruit, the walk, visits to the mill, the
fields, the garden, and the quarters, break-
fast, rest in-doors with reading and writing,
dinner, out of doors again, and the evening
under the veranda, with conversations on sub-
jects now so interesting to me. These conver-
sations, and what I had learned from other
persons, open to me new causes for interest
and sympathy with my younger host. Born
A VACATION VOYAGE. 151
in South Carolina, he has secured his rights
of birth, and is a citizen of the United
'States, though all his pecuniary interests and
family affections are in Cuba. He went
to Paris at the age of nine, and remained
there until he was nineteen, devoting the ten
years to thorough courses of study in the
best schools. He has spent much time in
Boston, and has been at sea, to China, India,
and the Pacific and California, — was wrecked
in the Boston ship Mary Ellen, on a coral
reef in the India seas, taken captive, restored,
and brought back to Boston in another ship,
whence he sailed for California. There he
had a long and checkered experience, was
wounded in the battle with the Indians who
killed Lieut. Dale and defeated his party,
was engaged in scientific surveys, topograph-
ical and geological, took the fever of the
South Coast at a remote place, was reported
dead, and came to his mother's door, at the
spot where we are talking this evening, so
weak and sunken that his brothers did not
know him, thinking it happiness enough if
he could reach his home, to die in his
152 TO CUBA AND BACK.
mother's arms. But home and its cherish-
ings, and revived moral force, restored him ;
and now, active and strong again, when, in
consequence of the marriage of his brothers
and sisters, and the departure of neighbors,
the family leave their home of thirty-five
years for the city, he becomes the acting
master, the administrador of the estate, and
makes the old house his bachelor's hall.
An education in Europe or the United States
must tend to free the youth of Cuba from
the besetting fault of un travelled plantation-
masters. They are in no danger of thinking
their plantations and Cuba the world, or any
great part of it. In such cases, I should think
the danger might be rather the other way, —
rather that of disgust and discouragement at
the narrowness of the field, the entire want
of a career set before them, — a career of
any kind, literary, scientific, political, or mil-
itary. The choice is between expatriation,
and contentment in the position of a secluded
cultivator of sugar by slave labor, with oc-
casional opportunities of intercourse with the
world and of foreign travel, with no other field
A VACATION VOYAGE. 153
than the limits of the plantation afford, for
the exercise of the scientific knowledge, so
laboriously acquired, and with no more excit-
ing motive for the continuance of intellec-
tual culture than the general sense of its
worth and fitness.
154: TO CUBA AND BACK.
If the master of a plantation is faithful
and thorough, will tolerate no misconduct or
imposition, and yet is humane and watchful
over the interests and rights, as well as over
the duties of the negroes, he has a hard and
anxious life. Sickness to be ministered to,
the feigning of sickness to be counteracted,
rights of the slaves to be secured against
other negroes, as well as against whites, with
a poor chance of getting at the truth from
either ; the obligations of the negro quasi
marriage to be enforced against all the sen-
sual and childish tendencies of the race;
theft and violence and wanderings from home
to be detected and prevented ; the work to
be done, and yet no one to be overworked ;
and all this often with no effectual aid, often
with only obstructions, from the intermediate
A VACATION VOYAGE. 156
whites! Nor is it his own people only that
are to be looked to. The thieving and vio-
lence of negroes from other plantations, their
visits by night against law, and the encroach-
ments of the neighboring free blacks and low
whites, are all to be watched and prevented or
punished. The master is a policeman, as well
as an economist and a judge. His revolver
and rifle are always loaded. He has his dogs,
his trackers and seizers, that lie at his gate,
trained to give the alarm when a strange
step comes near the house or the quarters,
and ready to pursue. His hedges may be
broken down, his cane trampled or cut, or,
still worse, set fire to, goats let into his pas-
tures, his poultry stolen, and sometimes his
dogs poisoned. It is a country of little law.
and order, and what with slavery and free
negroes and low whites, violence or fraud are
imminent and always formidable. No man
rides far unarmed. The negroes are held un-
der the subjection of force. A quarter-deck
organization is established. The master owns
vessel and cargo, and is captain of the ship,
and he and his family live in the cabin and
156 TO CUBA AND BACK.
hold the quarter-deck. There are no other
commissioned officers on board, and no guard
of marines. There are a few petty officers,
and under all, a great crew of negroes, for
every kind of work, held by compulsion, — the
results of a press-gang. All are at sea to-
gether. There are some laws, and civil author-
ities for the protection of each, but not very
near, nor always accessible.
After dinner to-day, we take saddle-horses
for a ride to Santa Catalina. Necessary duties
in the field and mill delay us, and we are in
danger of not being able to visit the house, as
ray friend must be back in season for the close
of work and the distribution of provisions, in
the absence of his mayoral. The horses have
the famous "march," as it is called, of the
island, an easy rapid step, something like
pacing, and delightful for a quiet ride under a
soft afternoon sky, among flowers and sweet
odors. I have seen but few trotting horses in
The afternoon is serene. Near, the birds are
flying, or chattering with extreme sociability in
close trees, and the thickets are fragrant with
A VACATION VOYAGE. 157
flowers ; while far off, the high hills loom in
the horizon ; and all about us is this tropical
growth, with which I cannot yet become
familiar, of palms and cocoas and bananas.
We amble over the red earth of the winding
lanes, and turn into the broad avenue of
Santa Catalina, with its double row of royal
palms. We are in — not a forest, for the trees
are not thick and wild and large enough for
that — ^but in a huge, dense, tropical orchard.
The avenue is as clear and straight and
wide as a city mall ; while all the ground on
either side, for hundreds of acres, is a plan-
tation of oranges and limes, bananas and
plantains, cocoas and pine-apples, and of cedar
and mango, mignonette and allspice, under
whose shade is growing the green-leaved, the
evergreen-leaved coffee plant, with its little
dark red berry, the tonic of half the world.
Here we have a glimpse of the lost charm of
Cuba. No wonder that the aged proprietor
cannot find the heart to lay it waste for the
monotonous cane-field, and make the quiet,
peaceful horticulture, the natural growth of
fruit and berry, and the simple processes of
158 TO CUBA AND BACK.
gathering, drying, and storing, give place
to the steam and smoke and drive and life-
consuming toil of the ingenio !
At a turn in the avenue, we come upon the
proprietor, who is taking his evening walk,
still in the exact dress and with the exact
manners of urban life. With truly French
politeness, he is distressed, and all but of-
fended, that we cannot go to his house. It
is my duty to insist on declining his invita-
tion, for I know that C is anxious to
return. At another turn, we come upon a
group of little black children, under the
charge of a decent, matronly mulatto, com-
ing up a shaded footpath, which leads among
the coffee. C stops to give a kind word
But it is sunset, and we must turn about.
We ride rather rapidly down the avenue, and
along the highway, where we meet several
travellers, nearly all with pistols in their hol-
sters, and one of the mounted police, with car-
bine and sword ; and then cross the brook,
pass through the little, mean hamlet of Li-
monar, whose inmates are about half blacks
A VACATION VOYAaE. 159
and half whites, but once a famed resort for
invalids, and enter our own avenue, and
thence to the house. On our way, we pass
a burying-ground, which my companion says
he is ashamed to have me see. Its condi-
tion is bad enough. The planter^ are taxed
for it, but the charge of it is with the padre,
who takes big fees for burials, and lets it go
to ruin. The bell has rung long ago, but the
people are waiting our return, and the evening
duties of distributing food, turning on the
night gang for night work, and closing the
gates, are performed.
To-night the hounds have an alarm, and
C is off in the darkness. In a few
minutes he returns. There has been some
one about, but nothing is discovered. A
negro may have attempted to steal out, or
some strange negro may be trying to steal
in, or some prowling white, or free black,
has been reconnoitering. These are the terms
on which this system is carried on ; and I
think, too, that when the tramp of horses is
heard after dark, and strange men ride to-
wards the piazza, it causes some uneasiness.
160 TO CUBA AND BACK.
The morning of the fourth day, I take my
leave, by the early train for Matanzas. The
hour is half-past six ; but the habits of rising
are so early that it requires no special prepara-
tion. I have time for coffee, for a last visit to
the sugar-house, a good-by to the engineer,
who will be back on the banks of the Merri-
mack in May, and for a last look into the
quarters, to gather the little group of kneelers
for " la bendicion," with their " Buenos dias,
Senor." My horse is ready, the negro has gone
with my luggage, and I must take my leave
of my newly-made friend. Alone together, we
have been more intimate in three days than
w^e should have been in as many weeks in
a full household. Adios ! — may the opening
of a new home on the old spot, which I hear
is awaiting you, be the harbinger of a more
cheerful life, and the creation of such fresh
ties and interests, that the delightful air of
the hill country of Cuba, the dreamy mono-
tony of the day, the serenity of nights which
seem to bring the stars down to your roof or
to raise you half-way to them, and the lux-
uriance and variety of vegetable and animal
A VACATION VOYAGE. 161
life, may not be the only satisfactions of exist-
A quiet amble over the red earth, to the sta-
tion, in a thick morning mist, almost cold
enough to make an overcoat comfortable ; and,
after two hours on the rail, I am again in
Matanzas, among close-packed houses, and
with views of blue ocean and of ships.
162 TO CUBA AND BACK.
Instead of the posada by the water-side, I
take up my quarters at a hotel kept by Ensor,
an American, and his sister. Here the hours,
cooking, and chief arrangements are in the
fashion of the country, as they should be, but
there is more of that attention to guests
which we are accustomed to at home, than
the Cuban hotels usually give.
The objects to be visited here are the Cum-
bre and the valley of the Yumuri. It is too
late for a morning ride, and I put off my visit
until afternoon. Gazzaniga and some of the
opera troupe are here ; and several Americans
at the hotel, who were at the opera last night,
tell me that the people of Matanzas made a
handsome show, and are of opinion that there
was more beauty in the boxes than we saw at
the Villanueva. It appears, too, that at the
A VACATION VOYAGE. 163
Retreta, in the Plaza de Armas, when the band
plays, and at evening promenades, the ladies
walk about, and do not keep to their carriages
as in Havana.
As soon as the sun began to decline, I set
off for the Cumbre, mounted on a pacer, with
a negro for a guide, who rode, as I soon dis-
covered, a better nag than mine. We cross
the stone bridges, and pass the great hospital,
which dominates over the town. A regiment,
dressed in seersucker and straw hats, is drill-
ing, by trumpet call, and drilling well, too,
on the green in front of the barracks ; while
we take our winding way up the ascent of
The bay, town, and shipping lie beneath us ;
the Pan rises in the distance to the height of
some 3,000 feet ; the ocean is before us, rolling
against the outside base of the hills ; and, on
the inside, lies the deep, rich, peaceful valley
of the Yumuri. On the top of the Cumbre,
commanding the noblest view of ocean and
valley, bay and town, is the ingenio of a
Mr. Jenkes, a merchant, bearing a name that
would put Spanish tongues to their trumps to
164 TO CUBA AND BACK.
sound, were it not that they probably take ref-
uge in the Don Guillermo, or Don Enrique,
of his Christian name. The estate bears the
name of La Victoria, and is kindly thrown
open to visitors from the city. It is said to
be a model establishment. The house is large,
in a classic style, and costly, and the negro
quarters, the storehouses, mechanic shops, and
sugar-house are of dimensions indicating an
estate of the first class.
On the way up from the city, several fine
points of sight were occupied by villas, all of
one story, usually in the Roman or Grecian
style, surrounded by gardens and shade-trees,
and with every appearance of taste and wealth.
It is late, but I must not miss the Yumuri ;
so we dive down the short, steep descent, and
cross dry brooks and wet brooks, and over
stones, and along bridle-paths, and over fields
without paths, and by wretched hovels, and
a few decent cottages, with yelping dogs and
cackling hens and staring children, and be-
tween high, overhanging cliffs, and along the
side of a still lake, and after it is so dark that
we can hardly see stones or paths, we strike a
A VACATION VOYAGE. 165
bridle-path, and then come out upon the road,
and, in a few minutes more, are among the
gas-lights and noises of the city.
At the hotel, there is a New York company
who have spent the day at the Yumuri, and
describe a cave not yet fully explored, which
is visited by all who have time, — abounding
in stalactites, and, though much smaller, re-
minding one of the Mammoth Cave of Ken-
I cannot leave Matanzas without paying my
respects to the family to whose kindness I owe
so much. Mr. C lives in a part of the
suburbs called Versailles, near the barracks,
in a large and handsome house, built after
the style of the country. There I spend an
agreeable evening, at a gathering of nearly
all the family, sons and daughters, and the
sons-in-law and daughters-in-law. There is
something strangely cosmopolitan in many of
the Cuban families, — as in this, where are
found French origin, Spanish and American
intermarriage, education in Europe or the
United States, home and property in Cuba,
friendships and sympathies and half a resi-
166 TO CUBA AND BACK.
dence in Boston or New York or Charleston,
and three languages at command.
Here I learn that the Thirty Millions Bill
has not passed, and, by the latest dates, is not
likely to pass.
My room at Ensor's is on a level with the
court-yard, and a horse puts his face into the
grating as I am dressing, and I know of noth-
ing to prevent his walking in at the door, if he
chooses, so that the negro may finish rubbing
him down by my looking-glass. Yet the house
is neatly furnished and cared for, and its keep-
ers are attentive and deserving people.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 167
Saturday^ February 28. — At eight o'clock
this morning, I take my leave of Matanzas,
by the railroad for Havana.
Although the distance to Havana, as the bird
flies, is only sixty miles, the railroad, winding
into the interior, to draw out the sugar freights,
makes a line of nearly one hundred miles.
This adds to the length of our journey, but
also greatly to its interest.
In the cars are two Americans, who have
also been visiting plantations. They give me
the following statistics of a sugar plantation,
which they think may be relied upon.
Lands, machinery, 320 slaves, and 20 Coo-
lies, worth $500,000. Produce this year, 4,000
boxes of sugar and 800 casks of molasses, worth
$104,000. Expenses, $35,000. Net, $69,000,
or about 14 per cent. This is not a large in-
168 TO CUBA AND BACK.
terest on an investment so much of which is
perishable and subject to deterioration.
The day, as has been every day of mine
in Cuba, is fair and beautiful. The heat is
great, perhaps even dangerous to a Northerner,
should he be exposed to it in active exercise,
at noon, — but, with the shade and motion of
the cars, not disagreeable, for the air is pure
and elastic, and it is only the direct heat of the
sun that is oppressive. I think one notices the
results of this pure air, in the throats and nasal
organs of the people. One seldom meets a
person that seems to have a cold in the head
or the throat ; and pocket handkerchiefs are
used chiefly for ornament.
I cannot weary of gazing upon these new
and strange scenes ; the stations, with the
groups of peasants and negroes and fruit-
sellers that gather about them, and the stores
of sugar and molasses collected there ; the
ingenios, glimmering in the heat of the sun,
with their tall, furnace chimneys ; the cane-
fields, acres upon acres ; the slow ox-carts car-
rying the cane to the mill ; then the intervals
of unused country, the jungles, adorned with
A VACATION VOYAGE. 169
little wild flowers, the groves of the weeping,
drooping, sad, homesick cocoa ; the royal palm,
which is to trees what the camel or dromedary-
is among animals, — seeming to have strayed
from Nubia or Mesopotamia ; the stiff, close
orange-tree, with its golden balls of fruit ; and
then the remains of a cafetal, the coffee plant
growing untrimmed and wild under the re-
prieved groves of plantain and banana. How
can this tire an eye that two weeks ago to-day
rested on the midwinter snow and mud of the
close streets of lower New York ?
It is certainly true that there is such a thing
as industry in the tropics. The labor of the
tropics goes on. Notwithstanding all we hear
and know of the enervating influence of the
climate, the white man, if not laborious him-
self, is the cause that labor is in others. With
all its social and political discouragements,
with the disadvantages of a duty of about
twenty-five per cent, on its sugars laid in the
United States, and a duty of full one hundred
per cent, on all flour imported from the United
States, and after paying heavier taxes than
any people on earth pay at this moment, and
170 TO CUBA AND BACK.
yielding a revenue, which nets, after every de-
duction and discount, not less than sixteen
millions a year ;— -against all these disadvan-
tages, this island is still very productive and
very rich. There is, to be sure, little variety
in its industry. In the country, it is nothing
but the raising and making of sugar ; and in
the towns, it is the selling and exporting of
sugar. With the addition of a little coffee and
copper, more tobacco, and some fresh fruit and
preserves, and the commerce which they stimu-
late, and the mechanic and trading necessities
of the towns, we have the sum of its industry
and resources. Science, arts, letters, arms,
manufactures, and the learning and discussions
of politics, of theology, and of the great prob-
lems and opinions that move the minds of
the thinking world, — in these the people of
Cuba have no part. These move by them, as
the great Gulf Stream drifts by their shores.
Nor is there, nor has there been in Cuba, in
the memory of the young and middle-aged,
debate, or vote, or juries, or one of the least
and most rudimental processes of self-govern-
ment. The African and Chinese do the man-
A VACATION VOYAGE. 171
ual labor; the Cubans hold the land and the
capital, and direct the agricultural industry ;
the commerce is shared between the Cubans,
and foreigners of all nations ; and the govern-
ment, civil and military, is exercised by the
citizens of Old Spain. No Cuban votes, or
attends a lawful political meeting, or sits on
a jury, or sees a law-making assembly, except
as a curiosity abroad, even in a municipality ;
nor has he ever helped to make, or interpret,
or administer laws, or borne arms, except by
special license of government granted to such
as are friends of government. In religion, he
has no choice, except between the Roman
Catholic and none. The laws that govern
him are made abroad, and administered by
a central power, a foreign Captain- General,
through the agency of foreign civil and mili-
tary officers. The Cuban has no public career.
If he removes to Old Spain, and is known as
a supporter of Spanish royal power, his Creole
birth is probably no impediment to him. But
at home, as a Cuban, he may be a planter, a
merchant, a physician, but he cannot expect to
be a civil magistrate, or to hold a commission
172 TO CUBA AND BACK.
in the army, or an office in the police ; and
though he may be a lawyer, and read, sitting,
a written argument to a Court of Judges, he
cannot expect to be himself a Judge. He may
publish a book, but the government must be
the responsible author. He may edit a jour-
nal, but the government must be the editor-
At the chief stations on the road, there are
fruit-sellers in abundance, with fruit fresh from
the trees : oranges, bananas, sapotes, and co-
coas. The cocoa is eaten at an earlier stage
than that in which we see it at the North,
for it is gathered for exportation after it has
become hard. It is eaten here when no harder
than a melon, and is cut through with a knife,
and the soft white pulp, mixed with the milk,
is eaten with a spoon. It is luscious and
wholesome, much more so than when the rind
has hardened into the sheU, and the soft pulp
into a hard meat.
A little later in the afternoon, the character
of the views begins to change. The ingenios
and cane-fields become less frequent, then
cease altogether, and the houses have more the
A VACATION VOYAGE. 173
appearance of pleasure retreats than of work-
ing estates. The roads show lines of mules
and horses, loaded with panniers of fruits, or
sweeping the ground with the long stalks of
fresh fodder laid across their backs, all moving
towards a common centre. Pleasure carriages
appear. Next comes the distant view of the
Castle of Atares, and the Principe, and then the
harbor and the sea, the belt of masts, the high
ridge of fortifications, the blue and white and
yellow houses, with brown tops ; and now we
are in the streets of Havana.
It seems like coming home; and I feel as
if I had been an age away, when it is only
eight days since I first saw Cuba. Here are
the familiar signs — Por mayor y menor, Po-
sada y Cantina, Tienda, Panaderia, Relojeria,
and the fanciful names of the shops, the high
pitched falsetto cries of the streets, the long
files of mules and horses, with panniers of
fruit, or hidden, all but their noses and tails,
under stacks of fresh fodder, the volantes,
and the motley multitude of whites, blacks,
and Chinese, soldiers and civilians, and occa-
sionally priests, — negro women, lottery-ticket
174 TO CUBA AND BACK.
venders, and the girl musicians with their
The same idlers are at the door of Le
Grand's ; a rehearsal, as usual, is going on at
the head of the first flight; and the parrot is
blinking at the hot, white walls of the court-
yard, and screaming bits of Spanish. My
New York friends have got back from the
country a day before me. I am installed in
a better room than before, on the house-top,
where the sun is hot, but where there is air,
and a view of the ocean.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 175
The warm bath round the corner, is a re-
freshment after a day's railroad ride in such
heat ; and there, in the front room, the man
in his shirt sleeves is serving out liquor, as
before, and the usual company of Creoles is
gathered about the billiard tables. After a
dinner in the handsome, airy restaurant of
Le Grand's, I drive into the city in the
evening, to the close streets of the Entra-
muros, and pay a visit to the lady whom I
failed to see on my arrival. I am so for-
tunate as to meet her, and beside the pleas-
ure to be found in her society, I am glad to
be able to give her personal information from
her attached and sympathizing friends, at the
While I am there, a tinkling sound of bells
is heard in the streets, and lights flash by. It
176 TO CUBA AND BACK.
is a procession, going to carry the viaticum,
the last sacrament, to a dying person.
From this house, I drove towards the water-
side, past the Plaza de Armas, the old Plaza
de San Francisco, with its monastery turned
into an almazen (a storehouse of merchan-
dise,) through the Calle de los Officios, to
the boarding-house of Madame Almy, to call
upon Dr. and Mrs. Howe. Mr. Parker left
Havana, as he intended, last Tuesday, for
Santa Cruz. He found Havana rather too hot
for his comfort, and Santa Cruz, the most
healthful and temperate of the islands, had
always been his destination. He had visited
a few places in the city, and among others,
the College of Belen, where he had been cour-
teously received by the Jesuits. I found that
they knew his reputation as a scholar and
writer, and a leading champion of modern
Theism in America. Dr. Howe had called at
Le Grand's, yesterday, to invite me to go
with him to attend a trial, at the Audiencia,
which attracted a good deal of interest among
the Creoles. The story, as told by the friends
of Senor Maestri, the defendant, is, that in
A VACATION VOYAGE. 177
the performance of a judicial duty, he dis-
charged a person against whom the govern-
ment was proceeding illegally, and that this
led to a correspondence between him and the
authorities, which resulted in his being deposed
and brought to trial, before the Audiencia, on
a charge of disrespect to the Captain- General.
I have no means of learning the correctness
of this statement, at present —
" I say the tale as 't was said to me."
The cause has, at all events, excited a deep
interest among the Creoles, who see in it
another proof of the unlimited character of
the centralized power that governs them. I
regret that I missed a scene of so much
interest and instruction. Dr. Howe told
me that Maestri' s counsel, Seiior Azcarate, a
young lawyer, defended his friend courage-
ously; but the evidence being all in writing,
without the exciting conflicts and vicissitudes
of oral testimony, and the written arguments
being delivered sitting, there was not much
in the proceedings to stimulate the Creole
excitability. No decision was given, the
178 TO CUBA AND BACK.
Court taking time to deliberate. It seems to
have been a Montalembert trial, on a small
To-night there is again a mascara at the
next door, but my room is now more remote,
and I am able to sleep through it. Once I
awoke. It was nearly five o'clock. The music
was still going on, but in softer and more sub-
dued tones. The drums and trumpets were
hushed, and all had fallen, as if by the magic
touch of the approaching dawn, into a trance
of sound, a rondo of constantly returning de-
licious melody, as nearly irresistible to the
charmed sense as sound can be conceived to
be, — ^just bordering on the fusing state be-
tween sense and spirit. It is a contradanza
of Cuba. The great bells beat five, over the
city ; and instantly the music ceases, and is
heard no more. The watchmen cry the hour,
and the bells of the hospitals and convents
sound their matins, though it is yet dark.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 179
At break of day, I am in the delightful sea-
baths again, not ill-named Recreo and Eliseo.
But the forlorn chain-gang are mustered be-
fore the Presidio. It is Sunday, but there is
no day of rest for them.
At eight o'clock I present myself at the Be-
len. A lady, who was passing through the
cloister, with head and face covered by the
usual black veil, turned and came to me. It
was Mrs. , whom I had seen last even-
ing. She kindly took me to the sacristy, and
asked some one to tell Father that I
was there, and then went to her place in
church. While waiting in the sacristy, I saw
the robing and unrobing of the officiating
priests, the preparation of altar ceremonials by
boys and men, and could hear the voices and
music in the church, on the other side of the
180 TO CUBA AND BACK.
great altar. The manner of the Jesuits is in
striking contrast with that at the Cathedral.
All is slow, orderly and reverential, whether
on the part of men or boys. Instead of the
hurried walk, the nod and duck, there is a
slow march, a kneeling, or a reverential bow.
At a small side altar, in the sacristy, com-
munion is administered by a single priest.
Among the recipients are several men of
mature years and respectable position ; and
side by side with them, the poor and the
negroes. In the Church, there is no distinc-
tion of race or color.
Father appears, is unrobed, and
takes me to the gallery of the church, near
the organ. From this, I looked down upon a
sea of rich costumes of women, veiled heads,
and kneeling figures, literally covering the floor
of the church. On the marble pavement, the
little carpets are spread, and on these, as close
as they can sit or kneel, are the ladies of rank
and wealth of Havana. A new comer glides
in among them, seeking room for her carpet,
or room of charity or friendship on a carpet al-
ready spread ; and the kneelers or sitters move
A VACATION VOYAGE. 181
and gather in their wide skirts to let her pass.
Here and there a servant in livery winds his
way behind his mistress, bearing her carpet,
and returns to the porch when it has been
spread. The whole floor is left to women.
The men gather about the walls and door-
ways, or sit in the gallery, which is reserved
for them. But among the women, though
chiefly of rank and wealth, are some who are
negroes, usually distinguished by the plain
shawl, instead of the veil over the head. The
Countess Villanueva, immensely rich, of high
rank, and of a name great in the annals of
Cuba, but childless, and blind, and a widow, is
led in by the hand by her negro servant. The
service of the altar is performed with dignity
and reverence, and the singing, which is by the
Jesuit Brothers themselves, is admirable. In
the choir I recognized my new friends, the
Rector and young Father Cabre, the professor
of physics. The " Tantum ergo Sacramen-
tum," which was sung kneeling, brought tears
into my eyes, and kept them there.
After service, Mr. came to me, and
made an engagement to show me the benevo-
182 TO CUBA AND BACK.
lent institutions on the Bishop's list, accepting
my invitation to breakfast at Le Grand's, at
eleven o'clock. At eleven he came, and af-
ter a quiet breakfast in a side room, we went
to the house of Senor — , whom he well
knows, in the hope that he would go with
as. The Senor was engaged to meet one of
the Fathers at noon, and could not go, but
introduced to me a relative of his, a young
student of medicine in the University, who
offered to take me to the Presidio and other
places, the next day.
It occurred to us to call upon a young
American lady, who was residing at the house
of a Spanish lady of wealth and rank, and in-
vite her to go with us to see the Beneficencia,
which we thought she might do, as it is an
institution under the charge of nuns, and she
was to go with a Padre in full dress. But the
customs of the country are rigid. Miss
was very desirous to go, but had doubts. She
consulted the lady of the house, who would
know, if any one could, the etiquette of Ha-
vana. The Seiiora's reply was, "You are an
American, and may do anything." This set-
A VACATION VOYAGE. 183
tied the matter in the negative, and we went
alone. Now we drive to Don Juan 's.
The gate is closed. The driver, who is a
white, gets off and makes a feeble and timid
rap at the door. " Knock louder ! " says my
friend, in Spanish. " What cowards they
are ! " he adds to me. The man makes a
knock, a little louder. " There, see that !
Peeking into the keyhole ! Mean ! An Eng-
lishman would beat the door down before he
would do that." Don Juan is in the country ,
— so we fail of all our expected companions.
The Casa de Beneficencia is a large in-
stitution, for orphan and destitute children,
for infirm old persons, and for the insane. It
is admirably situated, bordering on the open
sea, with fresh air and very good attention to
ventilation in the rooms. It is a government
institution, but is placed under charge of the
Sisters of Charity, one of whom accompanied
us about the building. Though called a gov-
ernment institution, it must not be supposed
that it is a charity from the crown. On the
contrary, it is supported by a specific appro-
priation of certain of the taxes and revenues
184 TO CUBA AND BACK.
of the island. In the building, is a church
not yet finished, large enough for all the in-
mates, and a quiet little private chapel for the
Sisters' devotions, where a burning lamp indi-
cated the presence of the Sacrament on the
small altar. I am sorry to have forgotten the
number of children. It was large, and in-
cluded both sexes, with a separate depart-
ment for each. In a third department, are
the insane. They are kindly treated and not
confined, except when violent ; but the Sister
told us they had no medical treatment un-
less in case of sickness. (Dr. Howe told me
that he was also so informed.) The last de-
partment is for aged and indigent women.
One of the little orphans clung to the Sister
who accompanied us, holding her hand, and
nestling in her coarse but clean blue gown ;
and when we took our leave, and I put a
small coin into her little soft hand, her eyes
brightened up into a pretty smile.
The number of the Sisters is not full. As
none have joined the order from Cuba, (I am
told literally none,) they are all from abroad,
chiefly from France and Spain; and having
A VACATION VOYAGE. 185
acclimation to go through, with exposure to
yellow fever and cl^plera, many of those that
come here die in the first or second summer.
And yet they still come, in simple, religious
fidelity, under the shadow of death.
The Casa de Beneficencia must be pro-
nounced by all, even by those accustomed to
the system and order of the best charitable in-
stitutions in the world, a credit to the island of
Cuba. The charity is large and liberal, and
the order and neatness of its administration
are beyond praise.
From the Beneficencia we drove to the Mili-
tary Hospital. This is a huge establishment,
designed to accommodate all the sick of the
army. The walls are high, the floors are of
brick and scrupulously clean, as are all things
under the charge of the Sisters of Charity;
and the ventilation is tolerable. The building
suffered from the explosion of the magazine
last year, and some quarters have not yet been
restored for occupation. The number of sick
soldiers now in hospital actually exceeds one
thousand! Most of them are young, some
mere lads, victims of the conscription of Old
186 TO CUBA AND BACK.
Spain, which takes them from their rustic
homes in Andalusia and Catalonia and the
Pyrenees, to expose them to the tropical heats
of Cuba, and to the other dangers of its cli-
mate. Most had fevers. We saw a few
cases of vomito. Notwithstanding all that is
said about the healthfalness of a winter in
Cuba, the experienced Sister Servant (which,
I believe, is the title of the Superior of a
body of Sisters of Charity) told us that a
few sporadic cases of yellow fever occur in
Havana, in all seasons of the year; but that
we need not fear to go through the wards.
One patient was covered with the blotches of
recent smallpox. It was affecting to see the
wistful eyes of these poor, fevered soldier-
boys, gazing on the serene, kind countenances
of the nuns, and thinking of their mothers
and sisters in the dear home in Old Spain,
and feeling, no doubt, that this womanly,
religious care was the nearest and best sub-
The present number of Sisters, charged with
the entire care of this great hospital, except
the duty of cooks and the mere manual and
A VACATION VOYAGE. 187
mechanic labor necessarily done by men, is
not above twenty-five. The Sister Servant
told us that the proper complement was forty.
The last summer, eleven of these devoted
women died of yellow fever. Every summer,
when yellow fever or cholera prevails, some
of them die. They know it. Yet the vacan-
cies are filled up ; and their serene and ever
happy countenances give the stranger no in-
dication that they have bound themselves to
the bedside of contagious and loathsome dis-
eases every year, and to scenes of sickness
and death every day.
As we walked through the passage-ways,
we came upon the little private chapel of the
Sisters. Here was a scene I can never forget.
It was an hour assigned for prayer. All who
could leave the sick wards — not more than
twelve or fourteen — were kneeling in that per-
fectly still, secluded, darkened room, in a
double row, all facing to the altar, on which
burned one taper, showing the presence of the
Sacrament, and all in silent prayer. — That
double row of silent, kneeling women, uncon-
scious of the presence of any one, in their
188 TO CUBA AND BACK.
snow-white, close caps and long capes, and
coarse, clean, blue gowns, — heroines, if the
world ever had heroines, their angels beholding
the face of their Father in heaven, as they
knelt on earth !
It was affecting and yet almost amusing, —
it would have been amusing anywhere else, —
that these simple creatures, not knowing the
ways of the world, and desirous to have soft
music fill their room, as they knelt at silent
prayer, and not having (for their duties pre-
clude it) any skill in the practice of music, had
a large music-box wound and placed on a
stand, in the rear, giving out its liquid tones,
just loud enough to pervade the air, without
forcing attention. The effect was beautiful;
and yet the tunes were not all, nor chiefly,
religious. They were such as any music-box
would give. But what do these poor crea-
tures know of what the world marches to, or
dances to, or makes love to ? To them it
was all music, and pure and holy!
Minute after minute we stood, waiting for,
but not desiring, an end of these delightful
sounds, and a dissolving of this spell of silent
A VACATION VOYAGE. 189
adoration. One of the Sisters began prayers
aloud, a series of short prayers and adorations
and thanksgivings, to each of which, at its
close, the others made response in full, sweet
voices. The tone of prayer of this Sister was
just what it should be. No skill of art could
reach it. How much truer than the cathedral,
or the great ceremonial ! It was low, yet
audible, composed, reverent: neither the fami-
liar, which offends so often, nor the rhetorical,
which always offends, but that unconscious
sustained intonation, not of speech, but of
music, which frequent devotions in company
with others naturally call out; showing us
that poetry and music, and not prose and
speech, are the natural expressions of the
deepest and highest emotions.
They rose, with the prayer of benediction,
and we withdrew. They separated, to station
themselves, one in each ward of the hospital,
there, aloud and standing, to repeat their
prayers, — the sick men raising themselves on
their elbows, or sitting in bed, or, if more
feeble, raising their eyes and clasping then-
hands, and all who can or choose, joining in
190 TO CUBA AND BACK.
Drove out over the Paseo de Tacon to the
Cerro, a height, formerly a village, now a part
of the suburbs of Havana. It is high ground,
and commands a noble view of Havana and
the sea. Coming in, I met the Bishop, who
introduced me to the Count de La Fernandina,
a dignified Spanish nobleman, who owns a
beautiful villa on this Paseo, where we walked
a while in the grounds. This house is very
elegant and costly, with marble floors, high
ceilings, piazzas, and a garden of the richest
trees and flowers coming into the court-yard,
and advancing even into the windows of the
house. It is one of the most beautiful villas
in the vicinity of Havana.
There are several noblemen who have their
estates and titles in Cuba, but are recognized
as nobles of Spain ; — in all, I should say, about
A VACATION VOYAGE. 191
fifty or sixty. Some of these have received
their titles for civil or military services; but
most of them have bee^ raised to their rank
on account of their wealth, or have pur-
chased their titles outright. I believe there
are but two grades, the marquis and the
count. Among the titles best known to
strangers are Villanueva, Fernandina, and
O'Reilly. The number of Irish families who
have taken rank in the Spanish service and
become connected with Cuba, is rather re-
markable. Beside O'Reilly, there are O'Don-
nel, O'Farrel, and O'Lawlor, descendants of
Irishmen who entered the Spanish service after
the battle of the Boyne.
Dr. Howe had seen the Presidio, the great
prison of Havana, once ; but was desirous to
visit it again ; so he joined me, under the con-
duct of our young friend, Senor , to
visit that and the hospital of San Juan de
Dios. The hospital we saw first. It is sup-
ported by the government, — that is to say, by
Cuban revenues, — for charity patients chiefly,
but some, who can afford it, pay more or less.
There are about two hundred and fifty pa-
192 TO CUBA AND BACK.
tients. This, again, is in the charge of the
Sisters of Charity. As we came upon one
of the Sisters, in a passage way, in her
white cap and cape, and black and blue
dress, Dr. Howe said, " I always take oif my
hat to a Sister of Charity," and we paid them
all that attention, whenever we passed them.
Dr. Howe examined the book of prescriptions,
and said that there was less drugging than
he supposed there would be. The attending
physician told us that nearly all the physi-
cians had studied in Paris, or in Philadelphia.
There were a great many medical students in
attendance, and there had just been an opera-
tion in the theatre. In an open yard we saw
two men washing a dead body, and carelessly
laying it on a table, for dissection. I am told
that the medical and surgical professions are
in a very satisfactory state of advancement in
the island, and that a degree in medicine, and
a license to practise, carry with them proofs of
considerable proficiency. It is always observ-
able that the physical and the exact sciences
are the last to suffer under despotisms.
The Presidio and Grand Carcel of Havana
A VACATION VOYAGE. 193
is a large building, of yellow stone, standing
near the fort of the Punta, and is one of the
striking objects as you enter the harbor. It
has no appearance of a jail without, but
rather of a palace or court; but within, it is
full of live men's bones and of all uncleanness.
No man, whose notions are derived from an
American or English penitentiary of the last
twenty years, or fifty years, can form an idea
of the great Cuban prison. It is simply hor-
rible. There are no cells, except for solitary
confinement of "incommunicados," — who are
usually political offenders. The prisoners are
placed in large rooms, with stone floors and
grated windows, where they are left, from
twenty to fifty in each, without work, without
books, without interference or intervention of
any one, day and night, day and night, for the
weeks, months or years of their sentences.
The sights are dreadful. In this hot climate,
so many beings, with no provision for ventila-
tion but the grated windows, — so unclean, and
most of them naked above the waist, — all
spend their time in walking, talking, playing,
and smoking; and, at night, without bed or
194 TO CUBA AND BACK.
blanket, they lie down on the stone floor, on
what clothes they may have, to sleep if they
can. The whole prison, with the exception
of the few cells for the " incommunicados,"
was a series of these great cages, in which
human beings were shut up. Incarceration is
the beginning, middle and end of the whole
system. Reformation, improvement, benefit
to soul or body, are not thought of. We in-
quired carefully, both of the officer who was
sent to attend us, and of a capitan de par-
tido, who was there, and were positively
assured that the only distinction among the
prisoners was determined by the money they
paid. Those who can pay nothing, are left
to the worst. Those who can pay two reals
(twenty-five cents) a day, are placed in wards
a little higher and better. Those who can
pay six reals (seventy-five cents) a day, have
better places still, called the " Salas de dis-
tincion," and some privileges of walking in
the galleries. The amount of money, and
not the degree of criminality, determines the
character of the punishment. There seems
to be no limit to the right of the prisoners
A VACATION VOYAGE. 195
to talk with any whom they can get to hear
them, at whatever distance, and to converse
with visitors, and to receive money from
them. In fact, the whole scene was a Babel.
All that was insured was that they should
not escape. When J say that no work was
done, I should make the qualification that a
few prisoners were employed in rolling tobacco
into cigars, for a contractor * but they were
very few. Among the prisoners was a capitan
de partido (a local magistrate), who was com-
mitted on a charge of conniving at the slave-
trade. He could pay his six reals, of course ;
and had the privileges of a " Sala de distin-
cion " and of the galleries. He walked about
with us, cigar in mouth, and talked freely,
and gave us much information respecting the
prison. My last request was to see the gar-
rotte ; but it was refused me.
It was beginning to grow dark before we
got to the gate, which was duly opened to us,
and we passed out, with a good will, into the
open air. Dr. Howe said he was nowise re-
luctant to be outside. It seemed to bring back
to his mind his Prussian prison, a little too for-
196 TO CUBA AND BACK.
cibly to be agreeable. He felt as if he were
in keeping again, and was thinking how he
should feel if, just as we got to the gate, an
officer were to bow and say, " Dr. Howe ? "
" Yes, sir." *' You may remain here. There
is a charge against you of seditious language,
since you have been in the island." No man
would meet such a danger more calmly, and
V say less about it, than he, if he thought duty
to his fellow-beings called him to it.
The open air, the chainless ocean, and the
ships freely coming and going, were a pleasant
change to the eye, even of one who had never
suffered bonds for conscience' sake. It seemed
strange to see that all persons outside were
doing as they pleased.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 197
A bull-fight has been advertised all over
the town, at the Plaza de Toros. Shall we
go ? I would not, if it were only -pleasure
that I was seeking. As I am sure I expect
only the contrary, and wish merely to learn the
character of this national recreation, I will go.
The Plaza de Toros is a wooden amphithea-
tre, in the suburbs, open at the top, — a circle
of rising seats, with the arena in the centre. I
am late. The cries of the people inside are
loud, sharp, and constant; a full band is
blowing its trumpets and beating its drums;
and the late stragglers are justling for their
tickets. I go through at a low door, — find
myself under benches filled with an eager,
stamping, shouting multitude, make my way
through a passage, and come out on the
shady side, for it is a late afternoon sun, and
198 TO CUBA AND BACK.
take my place at a good point of view. A
bull, with some blood about his fore-quarters,
and two or three darts (bandarillas) sticking
in his neck, is trotting harmlessly about the
arena, " more sinned against than sinning,"
and seeming to have no other desire than
to get out. Two men, each carrying a long,
stout, wooden pole, pointed with a short piece
of iron, not long enough to kill, but only to
drive off and to goad, are mounted on two of
the sorriest nags eyes ever beheld, — reprieved
jades, whom it would not pay to feed and
scarcely pay to kill, and who have been left
to take their chances of death here. They
could hardly be pricked into a trot, and were
too weak to escape. I have seen horses in
every stage of life and in every degree of
neglect, but no New York negro hack-driver
would have taken these for a gift, if he were
obliged to keep them. The bull could not
be said to run away from the horses, for they
did not pursue ; but when, distracted by sights
and sounds, he came against a horse, the horse
stood still to be gored, and the bull only
pushed against him with his head, until driven
A VACATION VOYAGE. 199
off by the punching of the iron-pointed pole
of the horseman.
Around the arena are sentry-boxes, each
large enough to hold two men, behind which
they can easily jump, but which the bull can-
not enter ; and from these, the cowardly
wretches run out, flourish a red cloth at the
bull, and jump back. Three or four men, with
darts in hand, run before the bull, entice him
by flapping their red cloths, and, as he trots
up to them, stick bandarillas into his neck.
These torment the bull, and he tries to shake
them off, and paws the ground ; but still he
shows no fight. He trots to the gate, and
snuffs to get out. Some of the multitude cry
" Fuera el toro ! Fuera el toro I " which
means that he is a failure, and must be let
out at the gate. Others are excited, and cry
for the killer, the (matador) ; and a demo-
niacal scene follows, of yells and shouts, half
drowned by twenty or thirty drums and trum-
pets. The cries to go on prevail ; and the
matador appears, dressed in a tight-fitting
suit of green small-clothes, with a broad sil-
ver stripe, jerkin, and stockings, — a tall, light-
200 TO CUBA AND BACK.
complexioned, elegantly made, glittering man,
bearing in one hand a long, heavy, dull black
sword, and in the other a broad, red cloth.
Now comes the harrying and distracting of
the bull by flags, and red cloths, and darts ; the
matador runs before, flings his cloth up and
down ; the bull trots towards it — no furious
rush, or maddened dash, but a moderate trot, —
the cloth is flashed over his face, and one skil-
fully directed lunge of the sword into his back
neck, and he drops instantly dead at the feet
of the matador, at the very spot where he re-
ceived the stab. Frantic shouts of applause
follow ; and the matador bows around, like an
applauded circus-rider, and retires. The great
gate opens, and three horses abreast are driven
in, decked with ribbons, to drag the bull round
the arena. But they are such feeble animals
that, with all the flourish of music and the
whipping of drivers, they are barely able to
tug the bull along over the tan, in a straight
line for the gate, through which the sorry pa-
geant and harmless bull disappear.
Now, some meagre, hungry, swarthy, sweaty,
mean-looking degenerates of Spain jump in
A VACATION VOYAGE. 201
and rake over the arena, and cover up the
blood, and put things to rights again ; and I
find time to take a view of the company.
Thankful I am, and creditable it is, that there
are no women. Yes, — there are two mulatto
women, in a seat on the sunny side, which
is the cheap side. And there are two shriv-
elled, dark, Creole women, in a box ; and there
is one girl of eight or ten years, in full dress,
with an elderly man. These are all the
women. In the State Box, under the faded
royal arms, are a few officials, not of high de-
gree. The rest of the large company is a
motley collection, chiefly of the middle or
lower classes, mostly standing on the benches,
and nearly all smoking.
The music beats and brays again, the great
gates open, and another bull rushes in, dis-
tracted by sights and sounds so novel, and for
a few minutes shows signs of power and
vigor; but, as he becomes accustomed to the
scene, he tames down ; and after several min-
utes of flaunting of cloths and flags, and pierc-
ing with darts, and punching with the poles of
the horsemen, he runs under the poor white
202 TO CUBA AND BACK.
horse, and upsets him, but leaves him unhurt
by his horns ; has a leisurely trial of endurance'
with the red horse, goring him a little with one
horn, and receiving the pike of the driver, — the
horse helpless and patient, and the bull very
reasonable and temperate in the use of his
power, — and then is enticed off by flags, and
worried with darts ; and, at last, a new mata-
dor appears, — a fierce-looking fellow, dressed
in dark green, with a large head of curling,
snaky, black hair, and a skin almost black.
He makes a great strut and flourish, and
after two or three unsuccessful attempts to
get the bull head on, at length, getting a fair
chance, plunges his black sword to the hilt
in the bull's neck, — ^but there is no fall of
the bull. He has missed the spinal cord, and
the bull trots off, bleeding in a small stream,
with a sword-handle protruding a few inches
above the hide of his back-neck. The spec-
tators hoot their contempt for the failure; but
with no sign of pity for the beast. The
bull is weakened, but trots about and makes
a few runs at cloths, and the sword is drawn
from his hide by an agile dart-sticker, (banda-
A VACATION VOYAGE. 203
rillero,) and given to the black bully in dark
green, who makes one more lunge, with no
better success. The bull runs round, and reels,
and staggers, and falls half down, gets partly
up, lows and breathes heavily, is pushed over
and held down, until a butcher dispatches
him with a sharp knife, at the spinal cord.
Then come the opened gates, the three horses
abreast, decked with ribbons, the hard tug
at the bull's body over the ground, — his limbs
still swaying with remaining life, the clash and
clang of the band, and the yells of the people.
Shall I stay another? Perhaps it may be
more successful, and — if the new bull will
only bruise somebody ! But the new bull is
a failure. After all their attempts to excite
him, he only trots round, and snufFs at the
gates ; and the cry of " Fuera el toro ! " be-
comes so general, with the significant triple
beat of the feet, in time with the words, all
over the house, that the gates are opened,
and the bull trots through, to his quarters.
But the meanness, and cruelty, and impo-
tency of this crowd! They cry out to the
spear-men and the dart-men, and to the tor-
204 TO CUBA AND BACK.
mentors, and to the bull, and to the horses, and
to each other, in a Babel of sounds, where no
man's voice can possibly be distinguished ten
feet from him, all manner of advice and en-
couragement or derision, like children at a
play. One full grown, well-dressed young
man, near me, kept up a constant cry to the
men in the ring, when I am sure no one could
distinguish his words, and no one cared to, —
until I became so irritated that I could have
But, such you are! You can cry and howl
at bull-fights and cock-fights and in the pits
of operas and theatres, and drive bulls and
horses distracted, and urge gallant game-cocks
to the death, and applaud opera singers into
patriotic songs, and leave them to imprison-
ment and fines, — and you yourselves, cannot
lift a finger, or join hand to hand, or bring
to the hazard life, fortune, or honor, for your
liberty and your dignity as men. Work your
slaves, torture your bulls, fight your game-
cocks, crown your dancers and singers, — and
leave the weightier matters of judgment and
justice, of fame by sea and land, of letters and
A VACATION VOYAGE. 205
arts and sciences, of private right and public
honor, the present and future of your race and
of your native land, to the care of others, —
of a people of no better blood than your own,
strangers and sojourners among you!
The next bull is treated to a refinement of
torture, in the form of darts filled with heavy
China crackers, which explode on the neck of
the poor beast. I could not see that even this
made him really dangerous. The light coin-
plexioned, green-and-silver matador dispatches
him, as he did the first bull, with a single lunge,
and — a fall and a quiver, and all is over !
The fifth bull is a failure and is allowed to
go out of the ring. The sixth is nearly the
same with the others, harmless if let alone,
and goaded into short-lived activity, but not
into anything like fury or even a dangerous
animosity. He is treated to fire-crackers, and
gores one horse a little, — the horse standing,
side on, and taking it, until the bull is driven
off by the punching of the spear ; and runs at
the other horse, and, to my delight, upsets the
rider, but unfortunately without hurting him,
and the black-haired matador in green tries his
206 TO CUBA AND BACK.
hand on him and fails again, and is hooted,
and takes to throwing darts, and gets a fall,
and looks disconcerted, and gets his sword
again, and makes another false thrust; and
the crippled and bleeding animal is thrown
down and dispatched by the butcher with his
short knife, and drawn off by the three poor
horses. The gates close, and I hurry out of
the theatre, in a din of shouts and drums
and trumpets, the great crowd waiting for the
last bull ; — but I have seen enough.
There is no volante in waiting, and I have
to take my seat in an omnibus, and wait for
the end of the scene. The confusion of cries
and shouts and the interludes of music still
goes on, for a quarter of an hour, and then th*^.
crowd begins to pour out, and to scatter over
the ground. Four faces in a line are heading
for my omnibus. There is no mistaking that
head man, the file leader. " Down East "
is written legibly all over his face. Tall, thin,
sallow, grave, circumspect! The others are
not counterparts. They vary. But " New
England " is graven on all.
" Wa-a-al ! " says the leader, as he gets into
A VACATION VOYAGE. 207
the omnibus. No reply. They take their seats,
and wipe their foreheads. One expectorates.
Another looks too wise for utterance. '^ By,"
.... a long pause — How will he end it ? —
*' Jingoes!" That is a failure. It is plain he
fell short, and did not end as he intended.
The sentiment of the four has not yet got ut-
tered. The fat, flaxen -haired man makes his
attempt. " If there is a new-milch cow in Ver-
mont that wouldn't show more fight, under
such usage, than them bulls, I'd buy her and
make a present of her to Governor Cunchy^ —
or whatever they call him." — This is practical
and direct, and opens the way to a more free
interchange. The northern ice is thawed.
The meanness and cruelty of the exhibition
is commented upon. The moral view is not
overlooked, nor underrated. — None but cow-
ards would be so cruel. And last of all, it is
an imposition. Their money has been ob-
tained under false pretences. A suit would
lie to recover it back ; but the poor devils are
welcome to the money. The coach fills up
with Cubans ; and the noise of the pavements
drowns the further reflections of the four
philanthropists, patriots and economists.
208 TO CUBA AND BACK.
The people of Cuba have a mode of calling
attention by a sound of the tongue and lips, a
sort of " P — s — ^t ! " after the fashion of some
parts of the continent of Europe. It is uni-
versal here ; and is used not only to servants
and children, but between themselves, and to
strangers. It has a mean sound, to us. They
make it clear and penetrating ; yet it seems a
poor, effeminate sibilation, and no generous,
open-mouthed call. It is the mode of stop-
ping a volante, calling a waiter, attracting the
attention of a friend, or calling the notice of a
stranger. I have no doubt, if a fire were to
break out at the next door, a Cuban would
call " P— s—t ! "
They beckon a person to come to them by
the reverse of our motion. They raise the
open hand, with the palm outwards, bending
A VACATION VOYAGE. 209
the fingers toward the person they are calling.
We should interpret it to be a sign to go
Smoking is universal, and all but constant.
I have amused myself, in the street, by seeing
what proportion of those I meet have cigars or
cigarettos in their mouths. Sometimes it has
been one half, sometimes one in three. The
cigar is a great leveller. Any man may stop
another for a light. I have seen the poor por-
ters, on the wharf, bow to gentlemen, stran-
gers to them, and hold out a cigar, and the
gentlemen stop, give a light, and go on, — all
as of course.
In the evening, called on the Sefioritas
F , at the house of Mr. B , and on the
American young lady at Senor M 's, and
on Mrs. Howe, at Mde. Almy's, to offer to take
letters or packets.
At Mrs. Almy's, there is a gentleman from
New York, Mr. G , who is dying of con-
sumption. His only wish is to live until the
Cahawba comes in, that he may at least die at
sea, if he cannot survive until she reaches New
York. He has a horror of dying here, and be-
210 TO CUBA AND BACK.
ing buried in the Potter's Field. — Dr. Howe
has just come from his chamber.
I drove out to the bishop's, to pay my part-
ing respects. It is about half-past eight in the
evening. He has just returned from his even-
. ing drive, is dressed in a cool, cambric dressing-
gov^n, after a bath, and is taking a quiet cigar,
in his high-roofed parlor. He is very cordial
and polite, and talks again about the Thirty
Millions Bill, and asks what I think of the
result, and what I have seen of the island,
and my opinion of the religious and charitable
institutions. I praise the Belen and the Sis-
ters of Charity, and condemn the prison, and
he appears to agree with me. He appreciates
the learning and zeal of the Brothers of Belen ;
speaks in the highest terms of the devotedness
of the Sisters of Charity; and admits the
great faults of the prison, but says it was
built recently, at an enormous outlay, and he
supposes the government is reluctant to be at
the expense of abandoning it and building
another. He charges me with messages of
remembrance and respect to acquaintances we
have in common. As I take my leave, he
A VACATION VOYAGE. 211
goes with me to the outer gate, which is kept
locked, and again takes leave, for two leave-
takings are the custom of the country, and
returns to the solitude of his house.
Yesterday I drove out to the Cerro, to see
the Coolie jail, or market, where the imported
Coolies are kept for sale. It is a well-known
place, and open to all visitors. The building
has a fair-looking front; and through this I
enter, by two porters, into an open yard in
the rear, where, on the gravel ground, are
squatting a double line of Coolies, with heads
shaved, except a tuft on the crown, dressed in
loose Chinese garments of blue and yellow.
The dealer, who is a calm, shrewd, heartless
looking man, speaking English as well as if
it were his native tongue, comes out with me,
calls to the Coolies, and they all stand up in
a double line, facing inward, and we pass
through them, preceded by a driver armed
with the usual badge of the plantation driver,
the short, limber whip. The dealer does not
hesitate to tell me the terms on which the
contracts are made, as the trade is not illegal.
His account is this — The importer receives
212 TO CUBA AND BACK.
$340 for each Coolie, and the purchaser
agrees to pay the Coolie four dollars per
month, and to give him food, and two suits
of clothes a year. For this, he has his ser-
vices for eight years. The contract is reduced
to writing before a magistrate, and two orig-
inals are made, one kept by the Coolie and
one by the purchaser, and each in Chinese
This was a strange and striking exhibition
of power. Two or three white men, bringing
hundreds of Chinese thousands of miles, to a
new climate and people, holding them prison-
ers, selling their services to masters having an
unknown tongue and an unknown religion, to
work at unknown trades, for inscrutable pur-
The Coolies did not look unhealthy, though
some had complaints of the eyes; yet they
looked, or I fancied they looked, — some of
them, unhappy, and some of them stolid.
One I am sure had the leprosy ; although the
dealer would not admit it. The dealer did
not deny their tendency to suicide, and the
danger of attempting to chastise them, but
A VACATION VOYAGE. 218
alleged their great superiority to the negro in
intelligence, and contended that their condi-
tion was good, and better than in China, hav-
ing four dollars a month, and being free at the
end of eight years. He said, which I found
to be true, that after being separated and
employed in work, they let their hair grow,
and adopt the habits and dress of the coun-
try. The newly arrived Coolies wear tufts,
and blue-and-yellow, loose, Chinese clothes.
Those who have been here long are distin-
guishable from the whites only by the pecu-
liar tinge of the cheek, and the form of the
The only respect in which his account dif-
fered from what I heard elsewhere, was in the
amount the importer receives, which has al-
ways been stated to me at $400.
While I am talking with him, a gentle-
man comes and passes down the line. He is
probably a purchaser, I judge; and I leave my
informant to follow what is more for his inter-
est than talking with me.
The importation has not yet existed eight
years. So the question, what will become of
214 TO CUBA AND BACK.
these men, exotics, without women or children,
taking no root in the land, has not come to a
solution. The constant question is — ^will they
remain and mix with the other races? Will
they be permitted to remain? Will they be
able to go back ?
So far as I can learn, there is no law in
China regulating the contracts and shipment
of Chinese Coolies, and none in Cuba regulat-
ing their transportation, landing, or treatment
while here. The trade has grown up and been
permitted and recognized, but not regulated.
It is yet to be determined how far the contract
is enforceable against either party. Those
Coolies that are taken from the British East
Indies to British islands, are taken under
contracts, with regulations, as to their expor-
tation and return, understood and enforced.
Not so the Chinese Coolies. Their importers
are lege soluti. Some say the government will
insist on their being returned. But the pre-
vailing impression is that they will be brought
in debt, and bound over again for their debts,
or in some other way secured to a life-long
A VACATION VOYAGE. 215
Mr. , a very wealthy and intelligent
planter, tells me he is to go over to Regla, to-
morrow morning, to see a lot of slaves offered
for sale to him, and asks me if I have ever
seen a sale of slaves. I never have seen that
sight, and accept his invitation. We are to
leave here at half-past six, or seven, at the
latest. All work is early here ; I believe I
have mentioned that the hour of 'Change for
merchants is 7.30 a. m.
216 TO CUBA AND BACK.
Tuesday, March 1. — Rise early, and walk
to the sea-baths, and take a delightful float
and swim. And refreshing it is, after a fever-
ish night in my hot room, where I did not
sleep an hour all night, but heard every quar-
ter-hour struck, and the boatswain's whistle
of the watchmen and their full cry of the hour
and the weather, at every clock-strike. From
the bath, I look out over the wall, far to the
northeast, in the hope of catching a glimpse of
the Cahawba's smoke. This is the day of her
expected arrival. My New York friends and
myself feel that we have seen Havana to our
satisfaction, and the heat is becoming intense.
We are beginning to receive advice against
eating fruit after cafe au lait, or bananas with
wine, and in favor of high crowned hats at
noon to prevent congestion from heat, and to
A VACATION VOYAGE. 217
avoid fogs in the morning. But there is no
Cahawba in sight, and I hear only the bray of
trumpets and roll of drums from the Morro and
Cabana and Panta, and the clanking march
of the chain-gang down the Paseo, and the
march of the guard to trumpet and drum.
Mr. is punctual at seven, his son with
him, and a man in a suit of white linen, who
is the broker employed by Mr. . We
take a ferry-boat and cross to the Regla ; and
a few minutes' walk brings us to a small nail
factory, where all the workmen are Coolies.
In the back yard of this factory is a line
of low buildings, from which the slaves are
brought out, to be shown. "We had taken up,
at the ferry-boat, a small, thin, sharp-faced
man, who was the dealer. The slaves are
formed in a semicircle, by the dealer and
broker. The broker pushed and pulled them
about in a coarse, careless manner, worse than
the manner of the dealer. I am glad he is not
to be their master. Mr. spoke kindly to
them. They were fully dressed ; and no exa-
mination was made except by the eye ; and no
exhibitions of strength or agility were required,
218 TO CUBA AND BACK.
and none of those offensive examinations of
which we read so much. What examination
had been made or was to be made by the
broker, out of my presence, I do not know.
The "lot" consisted of about fifty, of both
sexes and of all ages; some being old, and
some very young. They were not a valuable
lot, and Mr. refused to purchase them all.
The dealer offered to separate them. Mr.
selected about half of them, and they were set
apart. I watched the countenances of all, — the
taken and the left. It was hard to decipher
the character of their emotions. A kind of
fixed hopelessness marked the faces of some,
listlessness that of others, and others seemed
anxious or disappointed, but whether because
taken or rejected, it was hard to say. When
the separation was made, and they knew its
purpose, still no complaint was made and no
suggestion ventured by the slaves that a tie
of nature or affection was broken. I asked
Mr. if some of them might not be re-
lated. He said he should attend to that, as
he never separated families. He spoke to
each of those he had chosen, separately, and
A VACATION VOYAGE. 219
asked if they had parent or child, husband or
wife, or brother or sister among those who were
rejected. A few pointed out their relations,
and Mr. took them into his lot. One was
an aged mother, one a wife, and another a
little daughter. I am satisfied that no separa-
tions were made in this case, and equally sat-
isfied that neither the dealer nor the broker
would have asked the question.
I asked Mr. on what principle he made
his selection, as he did not seem to me always
to take the strongest. " On the principle of
race," said he. He told me that these negroes
were probably natives of Africa, (bozales,) ex-
cept the youngest, and that the signs of the
races were known to all planters. A certain
race he named as having always more intelli-
gence and ambition than any other; as more
difficult to manage, but far superior when well
managed. AU of this race in the company, he
took at once, whatever their age or strength.
I think the preferred tribe was the Lucumi,
but am not certain.
From this place, I made a short visit to the
Almacen de azucar, in the Regla, the great
220 TO CUBA AND BACK.
storehouses of sugar. These are a range of
one-story, stone warehouses, so large that a
great part of the sugar crop of the island, as I
am told, could be stored in them. Here the
vessels go to load, and the merchants store
their sugar here, as wine is stored in the Lon-
The Cubans are careful of the diet of for-
eigners, even in winter. I bought a couple of
oranges, and young Mr. bought a sapote,
a kind of sweet-sour apple, when the broker
said " Take care ! Did you not have milk
with your coffee ? " I inquired, and they told
me it was not well to eat fresh fruit soon after
taking milk, or to take bananas with Avine,
or to drink spirits. "But is this in winter,
also ? " " Yes ; and it is already very hot, and
there is danger of fever among strangers."
Went to La Dominica, the great restaur-
ant and depot of preserves and sweetmeats for
Havana, and made out my order for preserves
to take home with me. After consultation,
I am advised to make up my list as follows :
guava of Peru, limes, mammey apples, sour-
sop, cocoa-nut, oranges, guava jelly, guava
marmalade, and almonds.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 221
The ladies tell me there is a kind of fine
linen sold here, called bolan, which it is diffi-
cult to obtain in the United States, and which
would be very proper to take home for a pres-
ent. On this advice, I bought a quantity of it,
of blue and white, at La Diana, a shop on the
corner of Calle de Obispo and San Ignacio.
Breakfasted with a wealthy and intelligent
gentleman, a large planter, who is a native of
Cuba, but of European descent. A very nice
breakfast, of Spanish mixed dishes, rice cooked
to perfection, fruits, claret, and the only cup
of good black tea I have tasted in Cuba. At
Le Grand's, we have no tea but the green.
At breakfast, we talked freely on the subject
of the condition and prospects of Cuba; and
I obtained from my host his views of the eco-
nomical and industrial situation of the island.
He was confident that the number of slaves
does not exceed 500,000, to 200,000 free
blacks, and 600,000 or 700,000 whites. His
argument led him to put the number of slaves
as low as he could, yet he estimated it far
above that of the census of 1857, which makes
it 375,000. But no one regards the census
222 TO CUBA AND BACK.
of slaves as correct. There is a tax on slaves,
and the government has little chance of get-
ting them stated at the full number. One
planter said to a friend of mine a year or
two ago, that his two hundred slaves were
returned as one hundred. I find the best
opinions put the slaves at 650,000, the free
blacks at 200,000, and the whites at 700,000.
Havana is flooded with lottery-ticket vend-
ers. They infest every eating-house and pub-
lic way, and vex you at dinner, in your walks
and rides. They sell for one grand lottery,
established and guarantied by the government,
always in operation, and yielding to the State
a net revenue of nearly two millions a year.
The Cubans are infatuated with this lottery.
All classes seem to embark in it. Its effect
is especially bad on the slaves, who invest in
it all they can earn, beg, or steal, allured by
the glorious vision of possibly purchasing their
freedom, and elevating themselves into the
class of proprietors.
Some gentlemen at Le Grand's have been
to a cock-fight. I shall be obliged to leave
the island without seeing this national sport,
A VACATION VOYAGE. 223
for which every town, and every village has
a pit, a Valle de Gallos. They tell me it was
a very exciting scene among the spectators.
Negroes, free and slave, low whites, Coolies,
and men of high condition, were all fran-
tically betting. Most of the bets were made
by holding up the fingers and by other signs,
between boxes and galleries. They say I
should hardly credit the large sums which the
most ordinary looking men staked and paid.
I am surprised to find what an impression
the Lopez expedition made in Cuba, — a far
greater impression than is commonly supposed
in the United States. The fears of the govern-
ment and hopes of sympathizers exaggerated
the force, and the whole military power of the
government was stirred against them. Their
little force of a few hundred broken-down men
and lads, deceived and deserted, fought a
body of eight times their number, and kept
them at bay, causing great slaughter. The
railroad trains brought the wounded into Ha-
vana, car after car ; rumors of defeat filled the
city ; artillery was sent out ; and the actual loss
of the Spaniards, in killed and wounded, was
224 TO CUBA AND BACKu
surprisingly large. On the front wall of the
Cabana, plainly seen from the deck of every
vessel that leaves or enters the port, is a monu-
ment to the honor of those who fell in the
battle with the Filibusteros. The spot where
Lopez was garroted, in front of the Punta, is
pointed out, as well as the slope of the hill
from the castle of Atares, where his surviving
followers were shot.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 225
To an American, from the free States, Cuba
presents an object of singular interest. His
mind is occupied and almost oppressed by the
thought of the strange problems that are in
process of solution around him. He is con-
stantly a critic, and a philosophizer, if not
a philosopher. A despotic civil government,
compulsory religious uniformity, and slavery,
are in full possession of the field. He is al-
ways seeking information as to causes, pro-
cesses and effects, and almost as constantly
baffled. There are three classes of persons in
Cuba, from whom he receives contradictory
and irreconcilable statements : the Cubans, the
Spaniards, and foreigners of other nations. By
Cubans, I mean the CrioUos (Creoles), or na-
tives of Cuba. By Spaniards, I mean the
Peninsulares, or natives of Old Spain. In the
226 TO CUBA AND BACK.
third class, are comprised the Americans, Eng-
lish, French, Germans, and all other foreigners,
except Spaniards, who are residents on the
island, but not natives. This last class is
large, possesses a great deal of wealth, and
includes a great number of merchants, bank-
ers and other traders.
The Spaniards, or Peninsulares, constitute
the army and navy, the officers of the govern-
ment in all departments, judicial, educational,
fiscal and postal, the revenue and the police,
the upper clergy, and a large and wealthy class
of merchants, bankers, shopkeepers, and me-
chanics. The higher military and civil oflScers
are from all parts of Spain ; but the Catalans
furnish the great body of the mechanics and
small traders. The Spaniards may be counted
on as opponents of the independence of Cuba,
and especially of her annexation to the United
States. In their political opinions, they vary.
Some belong to the fiberal, or Progresista
party, and others are advocates of, or at least
apologists for, the present order of things.
Their force and influence is increased by the
fact that the government encourages its mili-
A VACATION VOYAGE. 227
tary and civil officers, at the expiration of their
terms of service, to remain in the island, still
holding some nominal office, or on the pay of
a retired list.
The foreign residents, not Spaniards, are
chiefly engaged in commerce, banking, or
trade, or are in scientific or mechanic em-
ployments. These do not intend to become
citizens of Cuba. They strike no root into
the soil, but feel that they are only sojourners,
for purposes of their own. Of all classes of
persons, I know of none whose situation is
more unfavorable to the growth and develop-
ment of sentiments of patriotism and philan-
thropy, and of interest in the future of a race,
than foreigners, temporarily resident, for pur-
poses of money-making only, in a country with
which they have nothing in common, in the fu-
ture or the past. This class is often called im-
partial. I do not agree to that use of the term.
They are, indeed, free from the bias of feefing
or sentiment ; and from the bias generated by
the combined action of men thinking and feel-
ing alike, which we call political party. But
they are subject to the attractions of interest ;
228 TO CUBA AND BACK.
and interest will magnetize the mind as ef-
fectually as feeling. Planted in a soil where
the more tender and delicate fibres can take
no hold, they stand by the strong tap-root of
interest. It is for their immediate advantage
to preserve peace and the existing order of
things ; and even if it may be fairly argued
that their ultimate interests would be bene-
fited by a change, yet the process is hazard-
ous, and the result not sure ; and, at most,
they would do no more than take advantage
of the change, if it occurred. I should say, as
a general thing, that this class is content with
the present order of things. The island is
rich, production is large, commerce flourishes,
life and property are well protected, and if a
man does not concern himself with political or
religious questions, he has nothing to fear. Of
the Americans in this class, many, doubtless,
may be favorably inclined toward annexation,
but they are careful talkers, if they are so ; and
the foreigners, not Americans, are of course
earnestly opposed to it, and the pendency of
the question tends to draw them towards the
A VACATION VOYAGl-]. 229
It remains only to speak of the Cubans.
They are commonly styled Creoles. But as
that word includes natives of all Spanish
America, it is not quite definite. Of the Cu-
bans ; a few are advocates of the present
government, — but very few. The far greater
part are disaffected. They desire something
approximating to self-government. If that can
be had firom Spain, they would prefer it. If
not, there is nothing for them but indepen-
dence, or annexation to some other power.
Not one of them thinks of independence ; and
if it be annexation, I believe their present im-
pulse is toward the United States. Yet on
this point, among even the most disaffected
of the Cubans, there is a difference of opinion.
Many of them are sincere emancipationists,
and fear that if they come in at the southern
end of our Union, that question is closed for-
ever. Others fear that the Anglo-Saxon race
would swallow up the power and property of
the island, as they have in done California
and Texas, and that the Creoles would go to
It has been my fortune to see persons of
230 TO CUBA AND BACK.
influence and intelligence from each of these
chief divisions, and from the subdivisions, and
to talk with them freely. From the sum of
their conflicting opinions and conflicting state-
ments, I have endeavored to settle upon some
things as certain ; and, as to other things, to
ascertain how far the debatable ground ex-
tends, and the principles which govern the
debate. From all these sources, and from my
own observations, I will endeavor to set down
what I think to be the present state of Cuba,
in its various interesting features, trusting to
do it as becomes one whose acquaintance with
the island has been so recent and so short.
When the liberal constitutions were in force
in Spain, in the early part of this century, the
benefits of them extended to Cuba. Some-
thing like a provincial legislature was estab-
lished ; juntas, or advisory boards and com-
mittees, discussed public questions, and made
recommendations; a militia was organized.;
the right to bear arms was recognized; tribu-
nals, with something of the nature of juries.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 231
passed upon certain questions ; the press was
free, and Cuba sent delegates to the Spanish
Cortes. This state of things continued, with
but few interruptions or variations, to 1825.
Then was issued the celebrated Royal Order
of May 29, 1825, under which Cuba has been
governed to the present hour. This Royal Or-
der is the only constitution of Cuba. It was
probably intended merely as a temporary order
to the then Captain- General ; but it has been
found convenient to adhere to it. It clothes
the Captain- General with the fullest powers,
the tests and limit of which are as follows:
" fully investing you with the whole
extent of power which, by the royal ordinances,
is granted to the governors of besieged towns.
In consequence thereof. His Majesty most am-
ply and unrestrictedly authorizes your Excel-
lency not only to remove from the island such
persons, holding offices from government or
not, whatever their occupation, rank, class, or
situation in life may be, whose residence there
you may believe prejudicial, or whose public
or private conduct may appear suspicious to
232 TO CUBA AND BACK.
So that, since 1825, Cuba has been not only
under martial law, but in a state of siege.
As to the more or less of justice or injustice,
of honesty or peculation, of fidelity or corrup-
tion, of liberality or severity, with which these
powers may have been exercised, a residence
of a few days, the reading of a few books,
and conversations with a few men, though on
both sides, give me no right to pronounce.
Of the probabilities, all can judge ; especially
when we remember that these powers are
wielded by natives of one country over natives
of another country.
Into the details and anecdotes, and the con-
troversies respecting motives, I do not enter.
Certain things we know. Since 1825, there
has been no legislative assembly in Cuba,
either provincial or municipal. The municipal
corporations ( ayuntamientos ) were formerly
hereditary, the dignity was purchasable, and
no doubt the bodies were corrupt. But they
exercised some control, at least in the levying
and expending of taxes ; and, being hereditary,
were somewhat independent, and might have
served, like those of Europe in the middle ages,
A VACATION VOYAGE. 233
as nuclei of popular liberties These have lost
the few powers they possessed, and the mem-
bers are now mere appointees of the Captain-
General. Since 1836, Cuba has been deprived
of its right to a delegation in the Cortes.
Since 1825, vestiges of anything approaching
to popular assemblies, juntas, a jury, inde-
pendent tribunals, a right of voting, or a right
to bear arms, have vanished from the island.
The press is under censorship ; and so are the
theatres and operas. When " I Puritani " is
played, the singers are required to substitute
Lealta for Liberta, and one singer was fined
and imprisoned for recusancy ; and Facciolo,
the printer of a secretly circulated newspaper,
advocating the cause of Cuban independence,
was garroted. The power of banishing, with-
out a charge made, or a trial, or even a record,
but on the mere will of the Captain- General,
persons whose presence he thinks, or professes
to think, prejudicial to the government, what-
ever their condition, rank, or office, has been
frequently exercised, and hangs at all hours
over the head of every Cuban. Besides, that
terrible power which is restrained only by the
234 TO CUBA AND BACK.
analogy of a state of siege, may be at any
time called into action. Cubans may be,
and I suppose usually are, regularly charged
and tried before judges, on political accusa-
tions ; but this is not their right ; and the
judges themselves, even of the highest court,
the Real Audiencia, may be deposed and ban-
ished, at the will of the military chief.
According to the strictness of the written
law, no native Cuban can hold any office of
honor, trust, or emolument in Cuba. The
army and navy are composed of Spaniards,
even to the soldiers in the ranks, and to the
sailors at the guns. It is said by the support-
ers of the government that this order is not ad-
hered to ; and they point to a capitan-general,
an intendente, and a chief of the customs, who
were Cubans. Still, such is the written law ;
and if a few Cubans are put into office against
the law, those who are so favored are likely to
be the most servile of officers, and the situation
of the rest is only the more degraded. Not-
withstanding the exceptions, it may be said
with substantial truth, that an independent
Cuban has open to him no career, civil or mili-
A VACATION VOYAGE. 235
tary. There is a force of volunteers, to which
some Cubans are admitted, but they hold their
places at the will of the government ; and none
are allowed to join or remain with them unless
they are acceptable to the government.
There are vexatious and mortifying regula-
tions, too numerous and minute to be complied
with or even remembered, and which put the
people in danger of fines or extortion at every
turn. Take, for instance, the regulation that
no man shall entertain a stranger over night at
his house, without previous notice to the mag-
istrate. As to the absolute prohibition of con-
cealed weapons, and of all weapons but the
regulation sword and pistols, — ^it was no doubt
introduced and enforced by Tacon as a means
of suppressing assassinations, broils and open
violence ; and it has made life safer in Havana
than it is in New York ; yet it cannot be de-
nied that it created a serious disability. In
fine, what is the Spanish government in Cuba,
but an armed monarchy, encamped in the
midst of a disarmed and disfranchised people ?
The taxes paid by the Cubans on their prop-
erty, and the duties levied on their commerce,
236 TO CUBA AND BACK.
are enormous, making a net income of not less
than $16,000,000 a year. Cuba pays all the
expenses of its own government, the salaries
of all officers, the entire cost of the army and
navy quartered upon it, the maintenance of
the Roman Catholic religion, and of all the
charitable and benevolent institutions, and
sends an annual remittance to Spain.*
The number of Spanish men-of-war sta-
tioned on the coast, varies from twenty-five
to thirty. Of the number of soldiers of the
regular army in Cuba, it is difficult to form an
opinion. The official journal puts them at
30,000. The lowest estimate I heard, was
25,000 ; and the highest was 40,000. Judging
from the number of sick I saw at the Hospital
Militar, I should not be surprised if the larger
estimate was nearer the truth.
Education is substantially in the hands of
the government. As an instance of their strict-
ness, no man can take a degree at the Univer-
sity, unless he makes oath that he does not
* Since my return, it has been officially announced that
a commission is to be appointed to revise and reduce the
tariffs of duties.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 237
belong to, has never belonged to, and will not
belong to, any society not known to and per-
mitted by the government.
But details are of little importance. The
actual administration may be a little more or
less rigid or lax. In its legal character, the
government is an unmixed despotism of one
nation over another.
No religion is tolerated but the Roman
Catholic. Formerly the church was wealthy,
authoritative and independent, and checked
the civil and military power by an ecclesias-
tical power wielded also by the dominant na-
tion. But the property of the church has been
sequestrated and confiscated, and the govern-
ment now owns all the property once ecclesi-
astical, including the church edifices, and ap-
points all the clergy, from the bishop to the
humblest country curate. All are salaried offi-
cers. And so powerless is the church, that,
however scandalous may be the life of a parish
priest, the bishop cannot remove him. He can
only institute proceedings against him before
238 TO CUBA AND BACK.
a tribunal over which the government has
large control, with a certainty of long delays,
and entire uncertainty as to the result. The
bishopric of Havana was formerly one of the
wealthiest sees in Christendom. Now the sal-
ary is hardly sufficient to meet the demands
which custom makes in respect of charity, hos-
pitality and style of living. It may be said,
I think with truth, that the Roman Catholic
Church has now .neither civil nor political
power in Cuba.
That there was a long period of time during
which the morals of the clergy were excessively
corrupt, I think there can be no doubt. Make
every allowance for theological bias, or for
irreligious bias, in the writers and tourists in
Cuba, still, the testimony from Roman Cath-
olics themselves is irresistible. The details, it
is not worth while to contend about. It is
said that a family of children, with a recog-
nized relation to its female head, which the
rule of celibacy prevented ever becoming a
marriage, was general with the country priest-
hood. A priest who was faithful to that rela-
tion, and kept from cock-fighting and gam-
A VACATION VOYAGE. 239
bling, was esteemed a respectable man by
the common people. Cuba became a kind
of Botany Bay for the Romish clergy. There
they seem to have been concealed from the eye
of discipline. With this state of things, there
existed, naturally enough, a vast amount of
practical infidelity among the people, and
especially among the men, who, it is said,
scarcely recognized religious obligations at
No one can observe the state of Europe
now, without seeing that the rapidity of com-
munication by steam and electricity has
tended to add to the efficiency of the central
power of the Roman Catholic Church, and to
the efficacy and extent of its discipline. Cuba
has begun to feel these effects. Whether they
have yet reached the interior, or the towns
generally, I do not know ; but the concurrent
testimony of all classes satisfied me that a
considerable change has been effected in Ha-
vana. The instrumentalities which that church
brings to bear in such cases, are in opera-
tion : frequent preaching, and stricter discipline
of confession and communion. The most
240 TO CUBA AND BACK.
marked result is in the number of men, and
men of character and weight, who have be-
come earnest in the use of these means. Much
of this must be attributed, no doubt, to the
Jesuits ; but how long they will be permitted
to remain here, and what will be the permanent
effects of the movement, I cannot, of course,
I do not enter into the old field of contest.
" We care not," says one side, " which be
cause and which effect ; — whether the people
are Papists, because they are what they are, or
are as they are because they are Papists. It
is enough that the two things coexist." The
other side replies that no Protestant institu-
tions have ever yet been tried for any length
of time, and to any large extent, with southern
races, in a tropical climate ; and the question,
— what would be their influence, and what the
effect of surrounding causes upon them, lies
altogether in the region of conjecture, or, at
best, of faith.
Of the moral habits of the clergy, as of the
people, at the present time, I am entirely un-
able to judge. I saw very little that indicated
A VACATION VOYAGE. 241
the existence of any vices whatever among the
people. Five minutes of a street view of Lon-
don by night, exhibits more vice, to the casual
observer, than all Havana for a year. I do not
mean to say that the social morals of the Cu-
bans are good, or are bad ; I only mean to say
that I am not a judge of the question.
The most striking indication of the want
of religious control, is the disregard of the
Lord's Day. All business seems to go on as
usual, unless it be in the public offices. The
chain-gang works in the streets, under public
officers. House-building and mechanic trades
go on uninterrupted ; and the shops are more
active than ever. The churches, to be sure,
are open and well filled in the morning ; and
I do not refer to amusements and recreations ;
I speak of public, secular labor. The Church
must be held to some responsibility for this.
Granted that Sunday is not the Sabbath.
Yet, it is a day which, by the rule of the Ro-
man Church, the English Church in England
and America, the Greek Church and other Ori-
ental Churches, — all claiming to rest the rule
on Apostolic authority, as well as by the usage
242 TO CUBA AND BACK.
of Protestants on the continent of Europe, —
whether Lutherans or Calvinists, — is a day of
rest from secular labor, and especially from en-
forced labor. Pressing this upon an intelli-
gent ecclesiastic, his reply to me was that the
Church could not enforce the observance ;—
that it must be enforced by the civil author-
ities ; and the civil authorities fall in with the
selfishness and gratifications of the ruling
classes. And he appealed to the change lately
wrought in Paris, in these respects, as evidence
of the consistency of his Church. This is an
answer, so far as concerns the Church's direct
authority ; but it is an admission either of
feeble moral power, or of neglect of duty in
times past. An embarrassment in the way of
more strictness as to secular labor, arises from
the fact that slaves are entitled to their time
on Sundays, beyond the necessary labor of
providing for the day ; and this time they may
use in working out their freedom.
Another of the difficulties the church has to
contend with, arises out of negro slavery. The
Church recognizes the unity of all races, and
allows marriage between them. The civil law
A VACATION VOYAGE. 243
of Cuba, under the interpretations in force here,
prohibits marriage between whites and persons
who have any tinge of the black blood. In
consequence of this rule, concubinage prevails,
to a great extent, between whites and mulat-
toes or quadroons, often with recognition of
the children. If either party to this arrange-
ment comes under the influence of the Church's
discipline, the relation must terminate. The
Church would allow and advise marriage ; but
the law prohibits it — and if there should be a
separation, there may be no provision for the
children. This state of things creates no small
obstacle to the influence of the Church over the
It is difficult to come to a satisfactory con-
clusion as to the number of slaves in Cuba.
The census of 1857 puts it at 375,000 ; but
neither this census nor that of 1853 is to be
relied upon, on this point. The Cubans are
taxed for their slaves, and the government find
it difficult, as I have said, to get correct re-
turns. No person of intelligence in Cuba,
244 TO CUBA AND BACK.
however desirous to put the number at the
lowest, has stated it to me at less than 500,000.
Many set it at 700,000. I am inclined to think
that 600,000 is the nearest to the truth.
The census makes the free blacks, in 1857,
125,000. It is thought to be 200,000, by
the best authorities. The whites are about
700,000. The only point in which the census
seems to agree with public opinion, is in the
proportion. Both make the proportion of
blacks to be about one free black to three
slaves; and make the whites not quite equal
to the entire number of blacks, free and slave
together. As to the Coolies, it is impossible
to do more than conjecture. In 1853, they
were not noticed in the census; and in 1857,
hardly noticed. The number imported may,
to some extent, be obtained from the records
and files of the Aduana, but not so as to be
relied upon. I heard the number estimated at
200,000 by intelligent and well-informed Cu-
bans. Others put it as low as 60,000. Cer-
tain it is that Coolies are to be met with
everywhere, in town and country.
To ascertain the condition of slaves in
A VACATION VOYAGE. 245
Cuba, two things are to be considered: first,
the laws, and secondly, the execution of the
laws. The written laws, there is no great diffi-
culty in ascertaining. As to their execution,
there is room for opinion.
At this point, one general remark should be
made, which I deem to be of considerable im-
portance. The laws relating to slavery do
not emanate from the slave-holding mind ; nor
are they interpreted or executed by the slave-
holding class. The slave benefits by the divis-
ion of power and property between the two
rival and even hostile races of whites, the Cre-
oles and the Spaniards. Spain is not slave-
holding, at home; and so long as the laws
are made in Spain, and the civil offices are
held by Spaniards only, the slave has at least
the advantage of a conflict of interests and
principles, between the two classes that are
concerned in his bondage.
The fact that one negro in every four is free,
indicates that the laws favor emancipation.
They do both favor emancipation, and favor
the free blacks after emancipation. The stran-
ger visiting Havana will see a regiment of one
246 TO CUBA AND BACK.
thousand free black volunteers, parading with
the troops of the line and the white volunteers,
and keeping guard in the Obra Pia. When it
is remembered that the bearing arms and per-
forming military duty as volunteers, is esteemed
an honor and privilege, and is not allowed to
the whites of Creole birth, except to a few who
are favored by the government, the significance
of this fact may be appreciated. The Cuban
slave-holders are more impatient under this
favoring of the free blacks, than under almost
any other act of the government. They see in
it an attempt, on the part of the authorities, to
secure the sympathy and cooperation of the
free blacks, in case of a revolutionary move-
ment, — to set race against race, and to make
the free blacks familiar with military duty,
while the whites are growing up in ignorance
of it. In point of civil privileges, the free
blacks are the equals of the whites. In courts
of law, as witnesses or parties, no difference
is known ; and they have the same rights as to
the holding of lands and other property. As
to their social position, I have not the means
of speaking. I should think it quite as good
as it is in New England, if not better.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 247
So far as to the position of the blacks, when
free. The laws also directly favor emancipa-
tion. Every slave has a right to go to a mag-
istrate and have himself valued, and on paying
the valuation, to receive his free papers. The
valuation is made by three assessors, of whom
the master nominates one and the magistrate
the other two. The slave is not obliged to pay
the entire valuation at once ; but may pay it in
instalments, of not less than fifty dollars each.
These payments are not made as mere ad-
vances of money, on the security of the mas-
ter's receipt, but are part purchases. Each
payment makes the slave an owner of such a
portion of himself, pro parte indivisd, or as
the Common Law would say, in tenancy-in-
common, with his master. If the valuation
be one thousand dollars, and he pays one hun-
dred dollars, he is owned, one tenth by himself
and nine tenths by his master. It has been
said, in nearly all the American books on Cuba,
that, on paying a share, he becomes entitled
to a corresponding share of his time and labor ;
but, from the best information I can get, I think
this is a mistake. The payment affects the
248 TO CUBA AND BACK.
proprietary title, but not the usufruct. Until
all is paid, the master's dominion over the
slave is not reduced, as respects either disci-
pline, or labor, or right of transfer; but if the
slave is sold, or goes by operation of law to
heirs or legatees or creditors, they take only
the interest not paid for, subject to the right of
future payment under the valuation.
There is another provision, which, at first
sight, may not appear very important, but
which is, I am inclined to think, the best prac-
tical protection the slave has against ill treat-
ment by his master: that is, the right to a
compulsory sale. A slave may, on the same
process of valuation, compel his master to
transfer him to any person who will pay the
money. For this purpose, he need establish
no cause of complaint. It is enough if he
desires to be transferred, and some one is will-
ing to buy him. This operates as a check
upon the master, and an inducement to him
to remove special causes of dissatisfaction ;
and it enables the better class of slave-holders
in a neighborhood, if cases of ill-usage are
known, to relieve the slave, without conten-
tion or pecuniary loss.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 249
In making the valuation, whether for eman-
cipation or compulsory transfer, the slave is
to be estimated at his value as a common
laborer, according to his strength, age, and
health. If he knows an art or trade, however
much that may add to his value, only one
hundred doUars can be added to the estimate
for this trade or art. Thus the skill, industry
and character of the slave, do not furnish an
obstacle to his emancipation or transfer. On
the contrary, all that his trade or art adds
to his value, above one hundred dollars, is, in
fact, a capital for his benefit.
There are other provisions for the relief of
the slave, which, although they may make even
a better show on paper, are of less practical
value. On complaint and proof of cruel
treatment, the law will dissolve the relation
between master and slave. No slave can be
flogged with more than twenty-five lashes,
b^ the master's authority. If his offence is
thought greater than that punishment will suf-
fice for, the public authorities must be called
in.' A slave mother may buy the freedom
of her infant, for twenty-five dollars. If slaves
250 TO CUBA AND BACK.
have been married by the Church, they can-
not be separated against their will ; and the
mother has the right to keep her nursing
child. Each slave is entitled to his time on
Sundays and all other holidays, beyond two
hours allowed for necessary labor, except on
sugar estates during the grinding season.
Every slave born on the island is to be bap-
tized and instructed in the Catholic faith, and
to receive Christian burial. Formerly, there
were provisions requiring religious services and
instruction on each plantation, according to
its size ; but I believe these are either repealed,
or become a dead letter. There are also pro-
visions respecting the food, clothing and treat-
ment of slaves in other respects, and the pro-
viding of a sick room and medicines, &c. ;
and the government has appointed magis-
trates, styled Sindicos, numerous enough, and
living in all localities, whose duty it is to at-
tend to the petitions and complaints of slaves,
and to the measures relating to their sale,
transfer or emancipation.
As to the enforcement of these laws, I have
little or no personal knowledge to offer ; but
A VACATION VOYAGE. 251
some things, I think, I may treat as reason-
ably sure, from my own observation, and from
the concurrent testimony of books, and of per-
sons of all classes with whom I have con-
The rule respecting religion is so far ob-
served as this, that infants are baptized, and
all receive Christian burial. But there is no
enforcement of the obligation to give the slaves
religious instruction, or to allow them to at-
tend public religious service. Most of those
in the rural districts see no church and no
priest, from baptism to burial. If they do re-
ceive religious instruction, or have religious
services provided for them, it is the free gift
of the master.
Marriage by the Church is seldom cele-
brated. As in the Roman Church marriage is
a sacrament and indissoluble, it entails great
inconvenience upon the master, as regards sales
or mortgages, and is a restraint on the negroes
themselves, to which it is not always easy to
reconcile them. Consequently, marriages are
usually performed by the master only, and of
course, carry with them no legal rights or
252 TO CUBA AND BACK.
duties. Even this imperfect and dissoluble
connection has been bat little attended to.
While the slave-trade was allowed, the plant-
ers supplied their stock with bozales (native
Africans) and paid little attention, even on
economic principles, to the improvement, or,
speaking after the fashion of cattle-farms, to
the increase of the stock on the plantation.
Now that importation is more difficult, and
labor is in demand, their attention is more
turned to their own stock, and they are begin-
ning to learn, in the physiology of increase,
that canon which the Everlasting has fixed
against promiscuous intercourse.
The laws respecting valuation, the purchase
of freedom at once or by instalments, and the
compulsory transfer, I know to be in active
operation in the towns, and on plantations
affording easy access to towns or magistrates.
I heard frequent complaints from slave-holders
and those who sympathized with them, as to
the operation of these provisions. A lady in
Havana had a slave who was an excellent
cook ; and she had been offered $1700 for him,
and refused it. He applied for valuation for
A VACATION VOYAGE. 253
the purpose of transfer, and was valued at
$1000 as a laborer, which, with the $100 for
his trade, made a loss to the owner of $600 ;
and, as no slave can be subsequently sold for
a larger sum than his valuation, this provision
gave the slave a capital of $600. Another
instance was of a planter near Matanzas, who
had a slave taught as a carpenter ; but after
learning his trade, the slave got himself trans-
ferred to a master in the city, for the oppor-
tunity of working out his freedom, on holidays
and in extra hours. So general is the enforce-
ment of these provisions, that it is said to
have resulted in a refusal of many masters to
teach their slaves any art or trade, and in the
hiring of the labor of artizans of all sorts, and
the confining of the slaves to mere manual
labor. I heard of complaints of the conduct
of individuals who were charged with attempt-
ing to influence the credulous and too ready
slaves to agree to be transferred to them, either
to gratify some ill-will against the owner, or
for some supposed selfish interest. From the
frequency of this tone of complaint and anec-
dote, as well as from positive assertions on
254 TO CUBA AND BACK.
good authority, I believe these provisions to
have considerable efficacy.
As to the practical advantage the slaves can
get from these provisions in remote places ; and
as to the amount of protection they get any-
where from the special provisions respecting
punishment, food, clothing, and treatment gen-
erally, almost everything lies in the region of
opinion. There is no end to statement and
anecdote on each side. If one cannot get a
full and lengthened personal experience, not
only as the guest of the slave-holder, but as
the companion of the local magistrates, of the
lower officers on the plantation, of slave-deal-
ers and slave-hunters, and of the emancipated
slaves, I advise him to shut his ears to mere
anecdotes and general statements, and to trust
to reasonable deductions from established facts.
The established facts are, that one race, hav-
ing all power in its hands, holds an inferior
race in slavery; that this bondage exists in
cities, in populous neighborhoods, and in re-
mote districts ; that the owners are human
beings, of tropical races, and the slaves are
human beings just emerging from barbarism ;
A VACATION VOYAGE. 255
and that no small part of this power is exer-
cised by a low-lived and low-minded class of
intermediate agents. "What is likely to be the
effect on all the parties to this system, judging
from all we know of human nature ?
If persons coming from the North are cred-
ulous enough to suppose that they will see
chains and stripes and tracks of blood ; and
if, taking letters to the best class of slave-
holders, seeing their way of life, and hearing
their dinner-table anecdotes, and the breakfast-
table talk of the ladies, they find no outward
signs of violence or corruption, they will prob-
ably, also, be credulous enough to suppose
they have seen the whole of slavery. They
do not know that that large plantation, with
its smoking chimneys, about which they hear
nothing, and which their host does not visit,
has passed to the creditors of the late owner,
who is a bankrupt, and is in charge of a man-
ager, who is to get all he can from it in the
shortest time, and to sell off the slaves as he
can, having no interest, moral or pecuniary, in
their future. They do not know that that
other plantation, belonging to the young man
256 TO CUBA AND BACK.
who spends half his time in Havana, is an
abode of licentiousness and cruelty. Neither
do they know that the tall hounds chained at
the kennel of the house they are visiting, are
Cuban bloodhounds, trained to track and to
seize. They do not know that the barking
last night was a pursuit and capture, in which
all the white men on the place took part ; and
that, for the week past, the men of the planta-
tion have been a committee of detective and
protective police. They do not know that the
ill-looking man who was there yesterday, and
whom the ladies did not like, and all treated
with ill-disguised aversion, is a professed hun-
ter of slaves. They have never seen or heard
of the Sierra del Cristal, the mountain-range
at the eastern end of Cuba, inhabited by run-
aways, where white men hardly dare to go.
Nor do they know that those young ladies,
when little children, were taken to the city in
the time of the insurrection in the Vuelta de
Arriba. They have not heard the story of that
downcast-looking girl, the now incorrigibly
riialignant negro, and the lying mayoral. In
the cities, they are amused by the flashy dress-
A VACATION VOYAGE. 257
es, indolence and good-humor of the slaves,
and pleased with the respectfulness of their
manners, and hear anecdotes of their attach-
ment to their masters, and how they so dote
upon slavery that nothing but bad advice
can entice them into freedom; and are told,
too, of the worse condition of the free blacks.
They have not visited the slave-jails, or the
whipping-posts in the house outside the walls,
where low whites do the flogging of the city
house-servants, men and women, at so many
reals a head.
But the reflecting mind soon tires of the
anecdotes of injustice, cruelty and licentious-
ness on the one hand, and of justice, kindness
and mutual attachment, on the other. You
know that all coexist ; but in what propor-
tion you can only conjecture. You know what
slavery must be, in its effect on both the parties
to it. You seek to grapple with the problem
itself. And, stating it fairly, it is this, — Shall
the industry of Cuba go on, or shall the island
be abandoned to a state of nature ? If the
former, and if the whites cannot do the hard
labor in that climate, and the blacks can, will
258 TO CUBA AND BACK.
the seven hundred thousand whites, who own
all the land and improvements, surrender them
to the blacks and leave the island, or will they
remain ? If they must be expected to remain,
what is to be the relation of the two races ?
The blacks must do the hard work, or it will
not be done. Shall it be the enforced labor of
slavery, or shall the experiment of free labor be
tried ? Will the government try the experi-
ment, and if so, on what terms and in what
manner? If something is not done by the gov-
ernment, slavery will continue ; for a successful
insurrection of slaves in Cuba is impossible,
and manumissions do not gain upon the births
As to the Coolie labor, I do not know that I
have anything to add to what I have already
incidentally stated. The Coolies are from
China ; and there is no law of China regulating
or supervising their contracts there, or their
shipment, or making any provisions for their
security. Neither are there any specific laws
of Cuba regulating their delivery here, or the
relations between them and their masters.
The Cuban authorities assume them to be
A VACATION VOYAGE. 259
free men, making voluntary contracts, and do
no more. That they are kept in strict con-
finement until sold, and then kept to labor by
force, there is no doubt. I suppose there is
as little doubt that the form of a contract is
gone through with, which binds them to all
labor for eight years, at four dollars per month
and their board and two suits of clothes an-
nually. It is not yet eight years since their
introduction ; and it remains to be decided
what this contract amounts to. That they
can be forced into a servitude for life, if it is
for the interest of their purchasers to force
them to it, and thie government does not inter-
fere energetically, there can be as little doubt.
It is known by all, I suppose, that no women
or children are imported ; and it is said that
they do not amalgamate with the people of
color. The tenure is so uncertain that their
master has little motive to do more than keep
them up to the labor point, so long as their
labor is valuable, and to neglect them utterly,
when it ceases to be so. They are deprived
of all the sympathetic and humanizing in-
fluences and protections of home, family, com-
260 TO CUBA AND BACK.
mon language, and common religion. They
are idolaters ; but no one seems enough inter-
ested in them to undertake their conversion.
They are taught to labor, and taught nothing
else. Their presence in Cuba adds another
distressing element to the difficulties of the
labor question, which hangs, like a black cloud,
over all the islands of the West Indies.
MATERIAL RESOURCES. EDUCATION.
Cuba contains more good harbors than does
any part of the United States south of Norfolk.
Its soil is very rich, and there are no large
wastes of sand, either by the sea or in the in-
terior. The coral rocks bound the sea, and the
grass and trees come down to the coral rocks.
The surface of the country is diversified by
mountains, hills and undulating lands, and is
very well wooded, and tolerably well watered.
It is interesting and picturesque to the eye,
and abounds in flowers, trees of all varieties,
and birds of rich plumage, though not of rich
notes. It has mines of copper, and probably of
iron, and is not cursed with gold or silver ore.
There is no anthracite, but probably a large
A VACATION VOYAGE. 261
amount of a ver}' soft, bituminous coal, which
can be used for manufactures. It has also
marble, and other kinds of stone ; and the hard
woods, as mahogany, cedar, ebony, iron-wood,
lignum-vitae, &c., are in abundance. Mineral
salt is to be found, and probably in sufficient
quantities for the use of the island. It is the
boast of the Cubans, that the island has no
wild beasts or venomous reptiles. This has
been so often repeated by tourists and his-
torians, that I suppose it must be admitted to
be true, with the qualification that they have
the scorpion, and tarantula, and nigua; but
they say that the bite of the scorpion and
tarantula, though painful, is not dangerous to
life. The nigua, (sometimes called chigua,
and by the English corrupted into jigger,) is
troublesome ; and if it be permitted to lie long
under the flesh, is ineradicable, and makes am-
putation necessary. With these exceptions,
the claim to freedom from wild or venomous
animals may be admitted. Their snakes are
harmless, and the mosquitoes no worse than
those of New England.
As to the climate, I have no doubt that in
262 TO CUBA AND BACK.
the interior, especially on the red earth, it is
healthy and delightful, in summer as well
as in winter ; but on the river borders, in the
low lands of black earth, and on the savannas,
intermittent fever and fever-and-ague prevail.
The cities have the scourge of yellow fever;
and, of late years, also the cholera. In the
cities, I suppose, the year may be divided, as
to sickness, into three equal portions : four
months of winter, when they are safe ; four
of summer, when they are unsafe; and four
of spring and autumn, when they are pass-
ing from one state to the other. There are,
indeed, a few cases of vomito in the course
of the winter, but they are little regarded,
and must be the result of extreme impru-
dence. It is estimated that twenty-five per
cent, of the soldiers die of yellow fever the first
years of their acclimation; and during the
year of the cholera, sixty per cent, of the
newly-arrived soldiers died. The mean tem-
perature in winter is 70°, and in summer 83°,
Fahrenheit. The island has suffered severely
from hurricanes, although they are not so fre-
quent as in others of the West India islands.
A VACATION VOYAGE. 263
They have violent thunderstorms in summer,
and have suffered from droughts in winter,
though usually the heavy dews keep vegeta-
tion green through the dry season.
That which has been to me, personally, most
unexpected, is the industry of the island. It
seems to me that, allowing for the heat of
noon and the debilitating effect of the climate,
the industry in agriculture and trade is rather
striking. The sugar crop is enormous. The
annual exportation is about 400,000 tons, or
about 2,000,000 boxes, and the amount con-
sumed on the island is very great, not only in
coffee and in daily cooking, but in the making
of preserves and sweetmeats, which are a con-
siderable part of the food of the people. There
is also about half a million hogsheads of mo-
lasses exported annually. Add to this, the
coffee, tobacco and copper, and a general no-
tion may be got of the industry and produc-
tions of the island. Its weak point is the want
of variety. There are no manufactures of
any consequence ; the mineral exports are not
great; and, in fact, sugar is the one staple.
All Cuba has but one neck, — the worst wish
of the tyrant.
264 TO CUBA AND BACK.
As to education, I have no doubt that a
good education in medicine, and a respectable
course of instruction in the Roman and Span-
ish law, and in the natural sciences, can be ob-
tained at the University of Havana ; and that
a fair collegiate education, after the manner of
the Latin races, can be obtained at the Jesuit
College, the Seminario, and other institutions
at Havana, and in the other large cities ; and
the Sisters of the Sacred Heart have a flour-
ishing school for girls at Havana. But the
general elementary education of the people is
in a very low state. The scattered life of
planters is unfavorable to public day-schools,
nay, almost inconsistent with their existence.
The richer inhabitants send their children
abroad, or to Havana: but the middle and
lower classes of whites cannot do this. The
tables show that of the free white children,
not more than one in sixty-three attend any
school, while in the British West India islands,
the proportion is from one in ten to one in
twenty. As to the state of education, cul-
ture and literary habits among the upper
classes, my limited experience gives me no
A VACATION VOYAGE. 265
opportunity to judge. The concurrent testi-
mony of tourists and other writers on Cuba is,
that the habits of the Cuban women of the
upper and middle classes are unintellectual.
To return to the political state and prospects
of Cuba. As for those persons whose political
opinions and plans are not regulated by moral
principle, it may be safely said, that whatever
their plans, their object will not be the good of
Cuba, but their own advantage. Of those
who are governed by principle, each man's
expectation or plan will depend upon the gen-
eral opinion he entertains respecting the na-
ture of men and of society. This is going
back a good way for a test ; but I am con-
vinced it is only going to the source of opinion
and action. If a man believes that human na-
ture in an unrestrained course, is good, and
self-governing, and that when it is not so, there
is a temporary and local cause to be assigned
for the deviation ; if he believes that men, at
least in civilized society, are independent be-
ings, by right entitled to, and by nature ca-
pable of, the exercise of popular self-govern-
266 TO CUBA AND BACK.
ment, and that if they have not this power in
exercise, it is because they have been deprived
of it by somebody's fraud or violence, which
ought to be detected and remedied, as we
abate a public nuisance in the highway ; if a
man thinks that overturning a throne and
erecting a constitution will answer the pur-
pose ; — if these are his opinions as to men and
society, his plan for Cuba, and for every other
part of the world, may be simple. No wonder
such an one is impatient of the inactivity of
the governed masses, and is in a constant state
of surprise that the fraud and violence of a few
should always prevail over the rights and mer-
its of the many — when they themselves might
ehd their thraldom by a blow, and put their
oppressors to rest — by a bare bodkin !
But if the history of the world and the obser-
vation of his own times have led a man to the
opinion that, of divine right and human neces-
sity, government of some sort there must be,
in which power must be vested somewhere,
and exercised somehow ; that popular self-
government is rather of the nature of a faculty
than of a right ; that human nature is so con-
A VACATION VOYAGE. 267
stituted that the actual condition of civil society
in any place and nation, is, on the whole, the
fair result of conflicting forces of good and
evil — the power being in proportion to the need
of power, and the franchises to the capacity for
using franchises ; that autocrats and oligarchs
are the growth of the soil ; and that every
people has, in the main, and in the long run,
a government as good as it deserves — If such
is the substance of the belief to which he has
been led or forced, he will look gravely upon
the future of such a people as the Cubans,
and hesitate as to the invention and applica-
tion of remedies. If he reflects that of all the
nations of the southern races in North and
South America, from Texas to Cape Horn,
the Brazilians alone, who have a constitutional
monarchy, are in a state of order and progress ;
and if he further reflects that Cuba, as a royal
province, with all its evils, is in a better condi-
tion than nearly all the Spanish republican
states, — he may well be slow to believe that,
with their complication of difliculties, and
causes of disorder and weakness, — with their
half million or more of slaves and quarter mil-
268 TO CUBA AND BACK.
lion or less of free blacks, with their Coolies,
and their divided and hostile races of whites, —
their Spanish blood, and their utter want of
experience in the discharge of any public du-
ties, the Cubans will work out successfully
the problem of self-government. You cannot
reason from Massachusetts to Cuba. When
Massachusetts entered into the Revolution,
she had had one hundred and fifty years of
experience in popular self-government ; under
a system in which the exercise of this power
was more generally diffused among the people,
and extended over a larger class of subjects,
and more decentralized, than had ever been
known before in any part of the world, or at
any period of the world's story. She had been,
all along, for most purposes, an independent
republic, with an obligation to the British Em-
pire undefined and seldom attempted to be en-
forced. The thirteen colonies were ships fully
armed and equipped, officered and manned,
with long sea experience, sailing as a wing of
a great fleet, under the Admiral's fleet signals.
They had only to pass secret signals, fall out
of line, haul their wind, and sail off as a
A VACATION VOYAGE. 269
squadron by themselves ; and if the Admiral
with the rest of the fleet made chase and
gave battle, it was sailor to sailor and ship to
ship. But Cuba has neither officers trained
to the quarter-deck, nor sailors trained to the
helm, the yard, or the gun. Nay, the ship is
not built, nor the keel laid, nor is the timber
grown, from which the keel is to be cut.
The natural process for Cuba is an ame-
lioration of her institutions under Spanish
auspices. If this is not to be had, or if the
connection with Spain is dissolved in any
way, she will probably be substantially under
the protection of some other power, or a part
of another empire. Whatever nation may
enter upon such an undertaking as this,
should take a bond of fate. Beside her in-
ternal danger and difficulties, Cuba is impli-
cated externally with every cause of jealousy
and conflict. She has been called the key to
the Gulf of Mexico. But the Gulf of Mexico
cannot be locked. Whoever takes her is more
likely to find in her a key to Pandora's box.
Close upon her is the great island of Ja-
maica, where the experiment of free negro
270 TO CUBA AND BACK.
labor, in the same products, is on trial. Near
to her is Hayti, where the experiment of ne-
gro self-government is on trial. And further
off, separated, it is true, by the great Gulf
Stream, and with the neighborhood of the al-
most uninhabited and uninhabitable sea-coast
of Southern Florida, yet near enough to fur-
nish some cause for uneasiness, are the slave-
states of the Great Republic. She is an
island, too ; and as an island, whatever power
holds or protects her, must maintain on the
spot a sufficient army and navy, as it would
not do to rely upon being able to throw in
troops and munitions of war, after notice
As to the wishes of the Cubans themselves,
the degree of reliance they place, or are en-
titled to place, on each other, and their op-
portunities and capacity for organized action
of any kind, I have already set down all I
can be truly said to know ; and there is no
end to assertion and conjecture, or to the
conflicting character of what is called infor-
mation, whether received through men or
A VACATION VOYAGE. 271
All day there have been earnest looks to
the northwest, for the smoke of the Cahaw-
ba. We are willing and desirous to depart.
Our sights are seen, our business done, and
our trunks packed. While we are sitting
round our table after dinner, George, Mr.
Miller's servant, comes in, with a bright coun-
tenance, and says "There is a steamer off."
We go to the roof, and there, far in the N. W.,
is a small but unmistakable cloud of steamer's
smoke, just in the course the Cahawba would
take. " Let us walk down to the Punta, and
see her come in." It is between four and five
o'clock, and a pleasant afternoon, (there has
been no rain or sign of rain in Cuba since
we first saw it — twelve days ago,) and we
saunter along, keeping in the shade, and sit
down on the boards at the wharf, in front of
272 TO CUBA AND BACK.
the Presidio, near to where politicians are gar-
roted, and watch the progress of the steamer,
amusing ourselves at the same time, with see-
ing the negroes swimming and washing horses
in the shallow water off the bank. A Yankee
flag flies from the signal-post of the Morro,
but the Punta keeps the steamer from our
sight. It draws towards six o'clock, and no
vessel can enter after dark. We begin to fear
she will not reach the point in season. Her
cloud of smoke rises over the Punta, the city
clocks strike six, the Morro strikes six, the
trumpets bray out, the sun is down, the sig-
nals on the Morro are lowering — " She'll miss
it ! " — " No — ^there she is ! " — and, round the
Punta comes her sharp black head, and then
her full body, her toiling engine and smoking
chimney and peopled decks, and flying stars
and stripes — Good luck to her! and, though
the signal is down, she pushes on and passes
the forts without objection, and is lost among
My companions are so enthusiastic that they
go on board; but I return to my hotel and
take a volante, and make my last calls, and
A VACATION VOYAGE. 273
take my last looks, and am ready to leave in
In half an hour, the arrival of the Cahawba
is known over all Havana, and the news of
the loss of her consort, the Black Warrior,
in a fog off New York — passengers and crew,
and specie safe. My companions come back.
They met Capt. Bullock on the pier, and
took tea v^ith him in La Dominica. He
sails at two o'clock to-morrow.
Wednesday^ March 2, 1859. — I shall not see
them again, but there they will be, day after
day. day after day, — how long ? — aye, how
long? — the squalid, degraded chain-gang! The
horrible prison ! — profaning one of the grandest
of sites, where city, sea and shore unite as
almost nowhere else on earth ! These were
my thoughts as, in the pink and gray dawn,
I walked down the Paseo, to enjoy my last
refreshing in the rock-hewn sea-baths.
This leave-taking is a strange process, and
has strange effects. How suddenly a little of
unnoticed good in what you leave behind
comes out, and touches you, in a moment of
274 TO CUBA AND BACK.
tenderness ! And how much of the evil and
disagreeable seems to have disappeared ! Le
Grand, after all, is no more inattentive and in-
tractable than many others would become in
his place ; and he does keep a good table, and
those breakfasts are very pretty. Antonio is
no hydropathist, to be sure, and his ear dis-
tinguishes the voices that pay best ; yet one
pities him in his routine, and in the fear he
is under, being a native of Old Spain, that his
name will turn up in the conscription, when he
will have to shoulder his musket for five years
in the Cabaiia and Punta. Nor can he get off
the island, for the permit will be refused him,
poor fellow !
One or two of our friends are to remain
here, for they have pulmonary difficulties, and
prefer to avoid the North in March. They
look a little sad at being left alone, and
talk of going into the country to escape the
increasing heat. A New York gentleman has
taken a great fancy to the volantes, and thinks
that a costly one, with two horses, and silvered
postilion in boots and spurs and bright jacket,
would eclipse any equipage in the Fifth Ave-
A VACATION VOYAGE. 275
When you come to leave, you find that
the strange and picturesque character of the
city has interested you more than you think;
and you stare out of your carriage to read
the familiar signs, the names of streets, the
Obra Pia, Lamparilla, Mercaderes, San Igna-
cio, Obispo, O'Reilly, and Officios, and the
pretty and fantastic names of the shops. You
think even the narrow streets have their ad-
vantages, as they are better shaded, and the
awnings can stretch across them, though, to be
sure, they keep out the air. No city has finer
avenues than the Ysabel and the Tacon ; and
the palm-trees, at least, we shall not see at the
North. Here is La Dominica. It is a pleas-
ant place, in the evening, after the Retreta, to
take your tea or coffee under the trees by the
fountain in the court-yard, and meet the Amer-
icans and English ; — the only public place,
except the theatre, where ladies are to be
seen out of their volantes. Still, we are
quite ready to go ; for we have seen all we
have been told to see in Havana, and it is
excessively hot, and growing hotter.
But no one can leave Cuba without a per-
276 TO CUBA AND BACK,
mit. When you arrive, the vis^ of your pass-
port is not enough, but you must pay a fee for
a permit to land, and remain in the island ; and
when you wish to return, you must pay four
dollars to get back your passport, with a per-
mit to leave. The custom-house officials were
not troublesome in respect to our luggage,
hardly examining it at all, and, I must admit,
showed no signs of expecting private fees.
Along the range of piers, where the bows of
the vessels run in, and on which the labor of
this great commerce is performed, there runs a
high, wide roof, covering all from the intense
rays of the sun. Before this was put up, they
say that workmen used to fall dead with sun-
strokes, on the wharves.
On board the Cahawba, I find my barrel
of oranges from Yglesia, and box of sweet-
meats from La Dominica, and boxes of cigars
from Cabana's, punctually delivered. There,
once more, is Bullock, cheerful, and efficient ;
Rodgers, full of kindness and good-humor;
and sturdy, trustworthy Miller, and Porter,
the kindly and spirited; and the pleased face
of Henry, the captain's steward; and the
A VACATION VOYAGE. 277
lamiliar faces of the other stewards ; and my
friend's son, who is well and very glad to see
me, and full of New Orleans, and of last night,
which he spent on shore in Havana. All are
in good spirits, for a short sea voyage with old
friends is before us ; and then — home !
The decks are loaded and piled up with
oranges : — oranges in barrels and oranges in
crates, j&lling all the wings and gangways, the
barrels cut to let in air, and the crates with
bars just close enough to keep in the oranges.
The delays from want of lighters, and the great
amount of freight, keep us through the day;
and it is nearly sundown before we get under
way. All day the fruit boats are alongside,
and passengers and crew lay in stocks of or-
anges and bananas and sapotes, and little
boxes of sweetmeats. At length, the last bar-
rel is on board, the permits and passenger-
lists are examined, the revenue officers leave
us, and we begin to heave up our anchor.
The harbor is very full of vessels, and the
room for swinging is small. A British mail-
steamer, and a Spanish man-of-war, and sev-
eral merchantmen, are close upon us. Captain
278 TO CUBA AND BACK.
Bullock takes his second mate aft, and they
have a conference, as quietly as if they were
arranging a funeral. He is explaining to him
his plan for running the warps and swinging
the ship, and telling him beforehand what he
is to do in this case, and what in that, and
how to understand his signs, so that no orders,
or as few as possible, need be given at the time
of action. The engine moves, the warp is
hauled upon, the anchor tripped, and dropped
again, and tripped again, the ship takes the
right sheer, clear of everything, and goes hand-
somely out of the harbor, the star and stripes at
her peak, with a waving of hats from friends
on the Punta wharf. The western sky is gor-
geous with the setting sun, and the evening
drums and trumpets sound from the encircling
fortifications, as we pass the Casa Blanca, the
Cabana, the Punta, and the Morro. The sky
fades, the ship rises and falls in the heave of
the sea, the lantern of the Morro gleams over
the water, and the dim shores of Cuba are
hidden from our sight.
After tea, all are on deck. It is a clear
night, and no night or day has been else than
A VACATION VOYAGE. 279
clear at sea or on shore, since we first crossed
the Gulf Stream, on our passage out. The
Southern Cross is visible in the south, and
the North Star is above the horizon in the
north. No winter climate of Cuba, in moun-
tain or on plain, — the climate of no land, can
be compared with the ocean, — the clear, brac-
ing, saline air of ocean ! How one drinks it
in ! And, then, again, the rocking cradle that
nurses one in sleep ! Nothing but the neces-
sity of sleep, — the ultimate necessity of self-
preservation, can close one's eyes upon such a
night as this, in the equinoctial seas.
280 TO CUBA AND BACK.
Thursday^ March 3. — The open sea, fine
weather, moderate breeze, and awnings spread,
as it is still hot in the sun. The young gentle-
man who was at Mrs. Almy's, Mr. G ,
survived to be brought on board. His friends
say, that after one day's waiting, if the Ca-
hawba had not arrived Tuesday night, he
would not have lived till morning. He was
brought on board in an arm-chair. The
Purser, though a stranger to him, has given
up his room to him ; and the second mate,
who knows his family, treats him like a
brother. His first wish being accomplished,
he now says that if he can live to see his
home and to receive the sacrament, he will
be content to meet his end, which he knows
is soon to come.
Friday^ March 4. — To-day, the sea is high
and the vessel rolls and pitches, but the sky
A VACATION VOYAGE. 281
is clear and the air delightful. Awnings still
up. Most of the passengers are seasick, and
only one woman comes to dinner.
The body of the late Chief Justice Eustis,
of Louisiana, is on board, about to be taken
to his family tomb in Massachusetts. I wish
we could, at least those of us who are from
New England, in some proper way, testify
our respect for the memory of a man of
such learning and weight of character. But
everything connected with the removal seems
to be strictly private. The jumble of life has
put on board Sheppard, the man who trained
Morrissey for the famous fight with Heenan.
He is a quiet, well-behaved man, among the
Glorious night. "Walk deck with Captain
Bullock until eleven o'clock. There is not
an abuse in the navy, that we have not cor-
rected, or a deficiency that we have not sup-
plied. We have meted to each ship and
hero in the war of 1812, with strictest justice,
the due share of praise. We have given
much better names to the new steam sloops-
of-war, taking them from Indian rivers and
282 TO CUBA AND BACK.
lakes, and the battle-fields of the revolu-
tionary war, than the names of towns where
the leading politicians of the government
party reside, which the sycophancy or vanity
of those in office has selected.
Saturday^ March 5. — Fine breeze, clear cool
weather, fresh blue sea, off the coast of North
Carolina ; but, as we keep in the Gulf Stream,
we make no land. We are in the highway
of the commerce of all the central part of
America, yet, as before, how few vessels we
see ! Only one in three days !
A few ladies join a company gathered in
the captain's state-room this evening, where
all, who can, contribute their anecdotes of sea
life, of storms and wrecks, and of the tradi-
tions, notions, and superstitions of sailors, and
snatches of sea-songs — Tom Bowline, Captain
Kid, Bay of Biscay, and specimens of the less
classical, but more genuine songs of the cap-
stan and falls.
^nday^ March 6. — Cooler. Out of the
Gulf Stream. Awnings taken down, clear
sky, clear sea, — ^the finest, cheerfullest, whole-
somest weather in the world ! Poor G
A VACATION VOYAGE. 283
is still alive, and has hopes of getting in.
We expect to be in by to-morrow noon.
The sea is very smooth, and nearly all are
relieved from sea-sickness. We pass a few
vessels floating up the Gulf Stream, with
wind and current, — a bark, an hermaphrodite
brig, and a schooner ; but no vessel of size
or mark. As I pass G 's room, at ten
o'clock to-night, I see the faithful purser and
second mate sitting, like brothers, by his
bedside, relieving the young man who has
come out to Havana from his father's count-
ing-room, to bring him home. The sea is still,
and all is favorable to the prolonging of life ;
yet he is very low, and wandering in his
mind, and is talking of getting up a Sunday
Monday^ March 7. — It is daybreak, the
lights of Barnegat were made at four o'clock
this morning, and now the heights of Never-
sink are visible ; the long shore of New Jersey
is open on our lee ; the harbor of New York
is but four or five hours off, where the ship
may still her pulse, and rest, and friends meet
friends. But death has visited us by night.
284 TO CUBA AND BACK.
G has passed away. He breathed his
last before midnight, just as we were on the
point of sighting the long wished for shore, —
the haven where he would be.
So mixed and heterogeneous is the com-
pany of such a passenger ship, that few seem
even to know that there has been a death,
and fewer to remember it. The succession
of events, the shore, the sails, the pilot, the
news, the excitement and expectation, and
the sights of home, are too engrossing.
On the low sand-beach of Long Island,
are the bones of the Black Warrior, our con-
sort. Far in the eastern horizon, just discern-
ible, is the smoke of the Europa, due from
Liverpool. The water far out to sea, twenty
or thirty miles from the harbor, is dotted with
little boats, fishing for the all-consuming mar-
ket of New York ; and steam-tugs, short and
low, just breathing out a little steam, are
^vatching, far out at sea, their chances for in-
ward-bound vessels. On the larboard hand,
are the twin lights of Neversink. We leave
them astern, and are abreast of the low, white
spit of Sandy Hook, when a pilot boat comes
A VACATION VOYAGE. 285
bobbing over the waves. We heave to, lower
the steps, and the pilot jumps on board. In a
few minutes, the news is over the ship — the
Thirty Millions BUI withdrawn by Mr. Slidell,
Congress adjourned, the five cent postage bill
defeated, and the Sickles and Key tragedy.
A few copies of New York papers are in the
hands of the more eager passengers.
No harbor has a more beautiful and noble
entrance than New York. The Narrows, Staten
Island, the Heights of Brooklyn, the distant
view of the Hudson River Highlands, the
densely populous outskirts in all directions,
the broad bay and its rich tributaries, on the
north and the east, — and then, the tall spires
and lofty warehouses of the city, and the long
stretches, north and east and south and west,
of the close-packed huUs and entangled spars
of the shipping.
There is no snow to be seen over the land-
scape or on the house-tops, yet the leafless
trees, the dry grass, the thick overcoats and
furs, are in strange contrast with the palm-leaf
hats, white linen coats, fluttering awnings, cov-
eted shades, and the sun-baked harvests of five
286 TO CUBA AND BACK.
We drew in to our dock as silently and
surely as everything is done in the Cahawba.
A crowd of New York hack men is gathered
on the pier, looking as if they had stolen their
coaches and horses, and meant to steal our
luggage. There are no policemen in sight.
Everybody predicts a fight. The officers of
the boat say that the police are of no use if
present, for their indifference and non-interven-
tion rather encourage the fighters.
For a few minutes, there is no other incon-
venience than noise and crowding for passen-
gers and luggage ; but soon they press on the
decks, — are ordered off, — hang back, — the crew
try to force them ashore, — ^then comes a gath-
ering about the gangway — " I can fight if you
can," says a quarter-master, — and they are at
it, blow for blow ! As soon as the hackmen on
the wharf see the fight, they make a breach
into the boat, and the quarter-master is driven,
with blows and curses, into the engine-room, —
the crew rally, and Rodgers jumps down into
the midst, spreads out his arms, — " Away with
you all, out of the ship ! " Capt. Bullock
steps down from the wheel-house, passengers
A VACATION VOYAGE. 287
gather round, and the hackmen fall back. Still,
a few resist, and one of them is knocked over
the head by a marlinespike, falls fainting, on
the guards, and is lifted ashore by his compan-
ions. The hackmen are slowly but firmly
forced ashore. But on the wharf, and leaning
on the vessePs rail, they openly threaten the
lives of the crew, and especially of the man
who used the marlinespike, if they catch him
on shore — "We'll wait for you ! " — " You must
come, sooner or later ! It will be the last step
you'll take ! Your time is up ! " etc., etc. The
officers of the boat are used to this, and expect
to protect ship and passengers by their own
force, and at their own peril.
We had been talking high patriotism to
some Cuban passengers ; and all the compari-
sons, hitherto, had been favorable to our coun-
try, — the style of the vessels, and the manner
in which the three boats, the health-boat, the
revenue-boat, and the news-boat, discharged
their duties. But here was rather a counterset.
The strangers saw it in a worse light than
we did. We knew it was only a lawless fight
for fares, and would end in a few blows, and
288 TO CUBA AND BACK.
perhaps the loss of a bag or trunk or two.
But in their eyes, it looked like an insurrection
of the lower orders. They did not know
where it would end. One elderly lady, in
particular, with great varieties of luggage, and
speaking no English, was in special trepida-
tion, and could not be persuaded to trust her-
self or her luggage to the chances of the conflict,
which she was sure would take place over it.
But it is the genius of our people to get out
of difficulties, as well as to get into them. The
affair soon calms down ; the crowd thins off",
as passengers select their coachmen, and leave
the boat ; and in an hour or so after we touch
the wharf, the decks are still, the engine is
breathing out its last, the ship has done its
stint in the commerce of the world, Bullock
and Rodgers are shaken by the hand, compli-
mented and bade adieu to by all, and our
chance-gathered household of the last five
days, not to meet again on earth or sea, — is
scattered among the streets of the great city,
to the snow-lined hills of New England, and
over the wide world of the great West.
13:^= Any books in this list •will be sent free of postage, on receipt
Boston, 135 Washington Street,
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TICKNOR AND FIELDS
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