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STORM IN A TEAPOT.
house ; no man should sit in such a house. By GM, I'll resign as soon as I see the Speaker in that chair. Sir, come and have a drink of rum and water."
In his angry wanderings his steps had brought him to the door at which I was standing, and these last words were addressed to me. • Come and have a drink of rum and water," and he seized me with a hospitable violence by the arm
I did not dare to deny so angry a legislator, and I drank the rum and water. Then I returned to my cards.
be said that nearly the same thing does sometimes occur in our own House of Commons—always omitting the threats of resignation and the drink. With us at home a small minority may impede the business of the house by adjournment, and members sometimes become loud and angry.
But in Jamaica the storm raged in so small a teapot! The railway extension was to be but for a mile or two, and I fear would hardly penefit more than the eggs and fowls for which the dark gentleman pleaded.
In heading this chapter I have spoken of the government, and it may be objected to me that in writing it I have written only of the legislature, and not at all of the mode of governing. But in truth the mode of government depends entirely on the mode of legislature.
As regards the Governor himself and his ministers, I do not doubt that they do their best; but I think that their best might be much better if their hands were not so closely tied by this teapot system of Queen, Lords, and Commons.
CUBA is the largest and the most westerly of the West Indian islands. It is in the shape of a half-moon, and with one of its horns nearly lies across the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico. It belongs to the Spanish crown, of which it is by far the most splendid appendage. So much for facts-geographical and historical.
The journey from Kingston to Cien Fuegos, of which I have said somewhat in my first chapter, was not completed under better auspices than those which witnessed its commencement. That perfidious bark, built in the eclipse, was bad to the last, and my voyage took nine days instead of three. My humble stock of provisions had long been all gone, and my patience was nearly at as low an ebb. Then, as a finale, the Cuban pilot who took us in hand as we entered the port, ran us on shore just under the Spanish fort, and there left us. From this position it was impossible to escape, though the shore lay close to us, inasmuch as it is an offence of the gravest nature to land in those ports without the ceremony of a visit from the medical officer; and no medical officer would come to us there. And then two of our small crew had been taken sick, and we had before us in our mind's eye all the pleasures of quarantine.
A man, and especially an author, is thankful for calamities if they be of a tragic dye. It would be as good as a small fortune to be left for three days without food or water, or to run for one's life before a black storm on un
known seas in a small boat. But we had no such luck as this. There was plenty of food, though it was not very palatable; and the peril of our position cannot be insisted on, as we might have thrown a baby on shore from the vessel, let alone a biscuit. We did what we could to get up a catastrophe among the sharks, by bathing off the ship's sides. But even this was in vain. One small shark we did see. But in lieu of it eating us, we ate it. In spite of the popular prejudice, I have to declare that it was delicious.
But at last I did find myself in the hotel at Cien Fuegos. And here I must say a word in praise of the civility of the Spanish authorities of that town—and, indeed, of those gentlemen generally wherever I chanced to meet them. They welcome you with easy courtesy; offer you coffee or beer; assure you at parting that their whole house is at your disposal; and then load you—at least they so loaded me-with cigars.
“My friend," said the captain of the port, holding in his hand a huge parcel of these articles, each about seven inches long—"I wish I could do you a service. It would make me happy for ever if I could truly serve you."
"Señor, the service you have done me is inestimable in allowing me to make the acquaintance of Don —"
But at least accept these few cigars;" and then he pressed the bundle into my hand, and pressed his own hand over mine. “Smoke one daily after dinner; and when you procure any that are better, do a fastidious old smoker the great kindness to inform him where they are to be found.”
This treasure to which his fancy alluded, but in the existence of which he will never believe, I have not yet discovered.
Cien Fuegos is a small new town on the southern coast
of Cuba, created by the sugar trade, and devoted, of course, to commerce. It is clean, prosperous, and quickly increasing. Its streets are lighted with gas, while those in the Havana still depend upon oil-lamps. It has its opera, its governor's house, its alaméda, its military and public hospital, its market-place, and railway station; and unless the engineers deceive themselves, it will in time have its well. It has also that institution which in the eyes of travelers ranks so much above all other, a good and clean inn.
My first object after landing was to see a slave sugar estate. I had been told in Jamaica that to effect this required some little management; that the owners of the slaves were not usually willing to allow strangers to see them at work; and that the manufacture of sugar in Cuba was as a rule kept sacred from profane eyes. But I found no such difficulty. I made my request to an English merchant at Cien Fuegos, and he gave me a letter of introduction to the proprietor of an estate some fifteen miles from the town; and by their joint courtesy I saw all that I wished.
On this property, which consisted altogether of eighteen hundred acres—the greater of which was not yet under cultivation—there were six hundred acres of cane pieces. The average year's produce was eighteen hundred hogsheads, or three hogsheads to the acre. The hogshead was intended to represent a ton of sugar when it reached the market, but judging from all that I could learn it usually fell short of it by more than a hundredweight. The value of such a hogshead at Cien Fuegos was about twenty-five pounds. There were one hundred and fifty negro men on the estate, the average cash value of each man being three hundred and fifty pounds; most of them had their wives. In stating this it must not be
TREATMENT OF THE SLAVES,
supposed that either I or my informant insist múch on the validity of their marriage ceremony; any such ceremony was probably of rare occurrence. During the crop time, at which period my visit was made, and which lasts generally from November till May, the negroes sleep during six hours out of the twenty-four, have two for their meals, and work for sixteen! No difference is made on Sunday. Their food is very plentiful, and of a good and strong description. They are sleek and fat and large, like well-preserved brewers' horses ; and with reference to them, as also with reference to the brewers' horses, it has probably been ascertained what amount of work may be exacted so as to give the greatest profit During the remainder of the year the labor of the negroes averages twelve hours a day, and one day of rest is usually allowed to them.
I was of course anxious to see what was the nature of the coercive measures used with them. But in this respect my curiosity was not indulged.
I can only say that I saw none, and saw the mark and signs of none. No doubt the whip is in use, but I did not see it. The gentleman whose estate I visited had no notice of our coming, and there was no appearance of anything being hidden from us. I could not, however, bring myself to inquire of him as to the punishment.
The slaves throughout the island are always as a rule baptized. Those who are employed in the town and as household servants appear to be educated in compliance with, at any rate the outward doctrines of, the Roman Catholic church. But with the great mass of the negroes—those who work on the sugar-canes-all attention to religion ends with their baptism. They have the advantage, whatever it may be, of that ceremony in