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Cuba, Old and New by Albert Gardner Robinson

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[Illustration: TOWER OF LA FUERZA
























Tower of La Fuerza, Havana
The Morro, Havana
A Planter's Home, Havana Province
Iron Grille Gateway, El Vedado, suburb of Havana
Watering Herd of Cattle, Luyano River, near Havaria
Royal Palms
Custom House, Havana
Balconies, Old Havana
Street in Havana
Street and Church of the Angels, Havana
A Residence in El Vedado
The Volante (now quite rare)
A Village Street, Calvario, Havana Province
Street and Church, Camaguey
Cobre, Oriente Province
Hoisting the Cuban Flag over the Palace, May 20,1902
A Spanish Block House
Along the Harbor Wall, Havana
Country Road, Havana Province
Street in Camaguey
Palm-Thatched Roofs
A Peasant's Home





Christopher Columbus was a man of lively imagination. Had he been an
ordinary, prosaic and plodding individual, he would have stayed at home
combing wool as did his prosaic and plodding ancestors for several
generations. At the age of fourteen he went to sea and soon developed an
active curiosity about regions then unknown but believed to exist. There
was even then some knowledge of western Asia, and even of China as
approached from the west. Two and two being properly put together, the
result was a reasonable argument that China and India could be reached from
the other direction, that is, by going westward instead of eastward.

In the early autumn of the year 1492, Columbus was busy discovering islands
in the Caribbean Sea region, and, incidentally, seeking for the richest
of the group. From dwellers on other islands, he heard of one, called
Cubanacan, larger and richer than any that he had then discovered. A
mixture of those tales with his own vivid imagination produced a belief
in a country of wide extent, vastly rich in gold and gems, and already a
centre of an extensive commerce. Cruising in search of what he believed to
be the eastern coast of Asia, he sighted the shore of Cuba on the morning
of October 28, 1492. His journal, under date of October 24, states: "At
midnight I tripped my anchors off this _Cabo del Isleo de Isabella_, where
I was pitched to go to the island of Cuba, which I learn from these people
is very large and magnificent, and there are gold and spices in it, and
large ships and merchants. And so I think it must be the island of Cipango
(Japan), of which they tell such wonders." The record, under date of
Sunday, 28th of October, states: "Continued for the nearest land of Cuba,
and entered a beautiful estuary, clear of rocks and other dangers. The
mouth of the estuary had twelve fathoms depth, and it was wide enough for a
ship to work into." Students have disagreed regarding the first Cuban port
entered by Columbus. There is general acceptance of October 28 as the
date of arrival. Some contend that on that day he entered Nipe Bay, while
others, and apparently the greater number, locate the spot somewhat to the
west of Nuevitas. Wherever he first landed on it, there is agreement that
he called the island Juana, in honor of Prince Juan, taking possession "in
the name of Christ, Our Lady, and the reigning Sovereigns of Spain."

His record of the landing place is obscure. It is known that he sailed some
leagues beyond it, to the westward. While on board his caravel, on his
homeward voyage, he wrote a letter to his friend, Don Rafael Sanchez,
"Treasurer of their most Serene Highnesses," in which the experience is
described. The original letter is lost, but it was translated into Latin
and published in Barcelona in the following year, 1493. While the Latin
form is variously translated into English, the general tenor of all is the
same. He wrote: "When I arrived at Juana (Cuba), I sailed along the coast
to the west, discovering so great an extent of land that I could not
imagine it to be an island, but the continent of Cathay. I did not,
however, discover upon the coast any large cities, all we saw being a few
villages and farms, with the inhabitants of which we could not obtain any
communication, they flying at our approach. I continued my course, still
expecting to meet with some town or city, but after having gone a great
distance and not meeting with any, and finding myself proceeding toward
the north, which I was desirous, to avoid on account of the cold, and,
moreover, meeting with a contrary wind, I determined to return to the
south, and therefore put about and sailed back to a harbor which I had
before observed." That the actual landing was at or near the present port
of Nuevitas seems to be generally accepted.

Columbus appears to have been greatly impressed by the beauty of the
island. In his _Life of Columbus_, Washington Irving says: "From his
continual remarks on the beauty of scenery, and from his evident delight in
rural sounds and objects, he appears to have been extremely open to those
happy influences, exercised over some spirits, by the graces and wonders
of nature. He gives utterance to these feelings with characteristic
enthusiasm, and at the same time with the artlessness and simplicity of
diction of a child. When speaking of some lovely scene among the groves, or
along the flowery shores of these favored islands, he says, "One could
live there forever." Cuba broke upon him like an elysium. "It is the most
beautiful island," he says, "that ever eyes beheld, full of excellent ports
and profound rivers." A little discount must be made on such a statement.
Granting all that is to be said of Cuba's scenic charms, some allowance is
to be made for two influences. One is Don Cristobal's exuberance, and the
other is the fact that when one has been knocking about, as he had been,
for nearly three months on the open sea and among low-lying and sandy
islands and keys, any land, verdure clad and hilly, is a picture of
Paradise. Many people need only two or three days at sea to reach a similar
conclusion. In his letter to Luis de Santangel, Columbus says: "All these
countries are of surpassing excellence, and in particular Juana (Cuba,),
which contains abundance of fine harbors, excelling any in Christendom, as
also many large and beautiful rivers. The land is high, and exhibits chains
of tall mountains which seem to reach to the skies and surpass beyond
comparison the isle of Cetrefrey (Sicily). These display themselves in all
manner of beautiful shapes. They are accessible in every part, and covered
with a vast variety of lofty trees which it appears to me never lose their
foliage. Some were covered with blossoms, some with fruit, and others in
different stages according to their nature. There are palm trees of six or
eight sorts. Beautiful forests of pines are likewise found, and fields of
vast extent. Here are also honey and fruits of thousand sorts, and birds of
every variety."

Having landed at this indefinitely located point, Columbus, believing that
he had reached the region he was seeking, despatched messengers to the
interior to open communication with some high official of Cathay, in which
country he supposed himself to be, the idea of Cipango apparently having
been abandoned. "Many at the present day," says Washington Irving, "will
smile at this embassy to a naked savage chieftain in the interior of Cuba,
in mistake for an Asiatic monarch; but such was the singular nature of this
voyage, a continual series of golden dreams, and all interpreted by the
deluding volume of Marco Polo." But the messengers went on their journey,
and proceeded inland some thirty or forty miles. There they came upon a
village of about fifty huts and a population of about a thousand. They were
able to communicate only by signs, and it is quite certain that the replies
of the natives were as little understood by the messengers as the questions
were by the natives. The messengers sought something about which the
natives knew little or nothing. The communications were interpreted through
the medium of imagination and desire. Nothing accomplished, the commission
returned and made its disappointing report. Washington Irving thus
describes the further proceedings: "The report of the envoys put an end to
the many splendid fancies of Columbus, about the barbaric prince and his
capital. He was cruising, however, in a region of enchantment, in which
pleasing chimeras started up at every step, exercising by turns a power
over his imagination. During the absence of the emissaries, the Indians
had informed him, by signs, of a place to the eastward, where the people
collected gold along the river banks by torchlight and afterward wrought it
into bars with hammers. In speaking of this place they again used the words
Babeque and Bohio, which he, as usual, supposed to be the proper names of
islands or countries. His great object was to arrive at some opulent and
civilized country of the East, with which he might establish commercial
relations, and whence he might carry home a quantity of oriental
merchandise as a rich trophy of his discovery. The season was advancing;
the cool nights gave hints of approaching winter; he resolved, therefore,
not to proceed farther to the north, nor to linger about uncivilized places
which, at present, he had not the means of colonizing, but to return to the
east-south-east, in quest of Babeque, which he trusted might prove some
rich and civilized island on the coast of Asia." And so he sailed away for
Hispaniola (Santo Domingo) which appears to have become, a little later,
his favorite West Indian resort.

[Illustration: THE MORRO _Havana_]

He began his eastward journey on November 12th. As he did not reach Cape
Maisi, the eastern point of the island, until December 5th, he must have
made frequent stops to examine the shore. Referring to one of the ports
that he entered he wrote to the Spanish Sovereigns thus: "The amenity of
this river, and the clearness of the water, through which the sand at the
bottom may be seen; the multitude of palm trees of various forms, the
highest and most beautiful that I have met with, and an infinity of other
great and green trees; the birds in rich plumage and the verdure of the
fields, render this country of such marvellous beauty that it surpasses all
others in charms and graces, as the day doth the night in lustre. For which
reason I often say to my people that, much as I endeavor to give a complete
account of it to your majesties, my tongue cannot express the whole truth,
nor my pen describe it; and I have been so overwhelmed at the sight of so
much beauty that I have not known how to relate it."

Columbus made no settlement in Cuba; his part extends only to the
discovery. On his second expedition, in the spring of 1494, he visited and
explored the south coast as far west as the Isle of Pines, to which he gave
the name _La Evangelista_. He touched the south coast again on his fourth
voyage, in 1503. On his way eastward from his voyage of discovery on the
coast of Central America, he missed his direct course to Hispaniola, and
came upon the Cuban shore near Cape Cruz. He was detained there for some
days by heavy weather and adverse winds, and sailed thence to his unhappy
experience in Jamaica. The work of colonizing remained for others. Columbus
died in the belief that he had discovered a part of the continent of Asia.
That Cuba was only an island was determined by Sebastian de Ocampo who
sailed around it in 1508. Baron Humboldt, who visited Cuba in 1801 and
again in 1825, and wrote learnedly about it, states that "the first
settlement of the whites occurred in 1511, when Velasquez, under orders
from Don Diego Columbus, landed at Puerto de las Palmas, near Cape Maisi,
and subjugated the Cacique Hatuey who had fled from Haiti to the eastern
end of Cuba, where he became the chief of a confederation of several
smaller native princes." This was, in fact, a military expedition composed
of three hundred soldiers, with four vessels.

Hatuey deserves attention. His name is not infrequently seen in Cuba today,
but it is probable that few visitors know whether it refers to a man, a
bird, or a vegetable. He was the first Cuban hero of whom we have record,
although the entire reliability of the record is somewhat doubtful. The
notable historian of this period is Bartolome Las Casas, Bishop of Chiapa.
He appears to have been a man of great worth, a very tender heart, and an
imagination fully as vivid as that of Columbus. His sympathies were aroused
by the tales of the exceeding brutality of many of the early Spanish
voyagers in their relations with the natives. He went out to see for
himself, and wrote voluminously of his experiences. He also wrote with
exceeding frankness, and often with great indignation. He writes about
Hatuey. The inference is that this Cacique, or chieftain, fled from Haiti
to escape Spanish brutality, and even in fear of his life. There are other
translations of Las Casas, but for this purpose choice has been made of one
published in London about the year 1699. It is given thus:

"There happened divers things in this island (Cuba) that deserve to be
remarked. A rich and potent Cacique named Hatuey was retired into the Isle
of Cuba to avoid that Slavery and Death with which the Spaniards menaced
him; and being informed that his persecutors were upon the point of landing
in this Island, he assembled all his Subjects and Domestics together, and
made a Speech unto them after this manner. "You know, (said he) the Report
is spread abroad that the Spaniards are ready to invade this Island, and
you are not ignorant of the ill usage our Friends and Countrymen have met
with at their hands, and the cruelties they have committed at Haiti (so
Hispaniola is called in their Language). They are now coming hither with
a design to exercise the same Outrages and Persecutions upon us. Are
you ignorant (says he) of the ill Intentions of the People of whom I am
speaking? We know not (say they all with one voice) upon what account they
come hither, but we know they are a very wicked and cruel People. I'll tell
you then (replied the Cacique) that these Europeans worship a very covetous
sort of God, so that it is difficult to satisfy him; to perform the Worship
they render to this Idol, they will exact immense Treasures of us, and will
use their utmost endeavors to reduce us to a miserable state of Slavery,
or else put us to death." The historian leaves to the imagination and
credulity of his readers the task of determining just where and how he got
the full details of this speech and of the subsequent proceedings. The
report of the latter may well be generally correct inasmuch as there were
Spanish witnesses present, but the account of this oration, delivered prior
to the arrival of the Spanish invaders, is clearly open to a suspicion that
it may be more or less imaginary. But the historian continues: "Upon this
he took a Box full of Gold and valuable Jewels which he had with him, and
exposing it to their view: Here is (said he) the God of the Spaniards, whom
we must honor with our Sports and Dances, to see if we can appease him and
render him propitious to us; that so he may command the Spaniards not to
offer us any injury. They all applauded this Speech, and fell a leaping and
dancing around the Box, till they had quite tired and spent themselves.
After which the Cacique Hatuey resuming his Discourse, continued to speak
to them in these terms: If we keep this God (says he) till he's taken away
from us, he'll certainly cause our lives to be taken away from us; and
therefore I am of opinion it will be the best way to cast him into the
river. They all approved of this Advice, and went all together with one
accord to throw this pretended God into the River."

But the Spaniards came and encountered the resistance of Hatuey and his
followers. The invaders were victorious, and Hatuey was captured and burned
alive. Las Casas relates that while the poor wretch was in the midst of the
flames, tied to a stake, "a certain Franciscan Friar of great Piety and
Virtue, took upon him to speak to him of God and our Religion, and to
explain to him some Articles of Catholic Faith, of which he had never
heard a word before, promising him Eternal Life if he would believe and
threatening him with Eternal Torment if he continued obstinate in his
Infidelity. Hatuey reflecting on the matter, as much as the Place and
Condition in which he was would permit, asked the Friar that instructed
him, whether the Gate of Heaven was open to Spaniards; and being answered
that such of them as were good men might hope for entrance there: the
Cacique, without any farther deliberation, told him that he had no mind to
go to heaven for fear of meeting with such cruel and wicked Company as
they were; but he would much rather choose to go to Hell where he might be
delivered from the troublesome sight of such kind of People." And so died
the Cacique Hatuey. Four hundred years later, the Cuban Government named a
gunboat _Hatuey_, in his honor.

The Velasquez expedition, in the following year, founded Baracoa, now a
small city on the northern coast near the eastern extremity of the island.
It is a spot of exceeding scenic charm. It was established as the capital
city, but it held that honor for a few years only. In 1514 and 1515,
settlements were established at what is now Santiago, at Sancti Spiritus,
Trinidad, and Batabano. The latter was originally called San Cristobal de
la Habana, the name being transferred to the present city, on the north
coast, in 1519. It displaced the name Puerto de Carenas given to the
present Havana by Ocampo, who careened his vessels there in 1508. Baracoa
was made the seat of a bishopric, and a cathedral was begun, in 1518. In
1522, both the capital and the bishopric were transferred to Santiago, a
location more readily accessible from the new settlements on the south
coast, and also from Jamaica which was then included in the diocese.
Cuba, at about this period, was the point of departure for an important
expedition. In 1517, de Cordoba, with three vessels and 110 soldiers,
was sent on an expedition to the west for further and more northerly
exploration of the land discovered by Columbus in 1503. The coast from
Panama to Honduras had been occupied. The object of this expedition was to
learn what lay to the northward. The result was the discovery of Yucatan.
Cordoba returned to die of wounds received in a battle. A second and
stronger expedition was immediately despatched. This rounded the peninsula
and followed the coast as far as the present city of Vera Cruz. In 1518,
Hernan Cortez was _alcalde_, or mayor, of Santiago de Cuba. On November 18,
of that year, he sailed from that port in command of an expedition for
the conquest of Mexico, finally effected in 1521, after one of the most
romantic campaigns in the history of warfare. All that, however, is a story
in which Cuba has no place except that of the starting point and base of
the expedition. There is another story of the same kind, a few years later.
The first discovery of Florida is somewhat uncertain. It appears on an old
Spanish map dated 1502. Following the expedition of Ponce de Leon, in 1513,
and of Murielo, in 1516, Narvaez headed an expedition from Cuba in 1528
with some three hundred freebooters. They landed in Florida, where almost
the entire band was, very properly, destroyed by the Indians. In 1539, de
Soto sailed from Havana, with five hundred and seventy men and two hundred
and twenty-three horses, for an extended exploration. They wandered for
three years throughout what is now the southern part of the United States
from Georgia and South Carolina westward to Arkansas and Missouri. After a
series of almost incredible experiences, de Soto died in 1542, on the banks
of the Mississippi River at a point probably not far from the Red River.
These and other expeditions, from Cuba and from Mexico, to what is now
territory of the United States, produced no permanent results. No gold was

Of the inhabitants of Cuba, as found by the Spaniards, comparatively little
is recorded. They seem to have been a somewhat negative people, generally
described as docile, gentle, generous, and indolent. Their garments were
quite limited, and their customs altogether primitive. They disappear
from Cuba's story in its earliest chapters. Very little is known of their
numbers. Some historians state that, in the days of Columbus, the island
had a million inhabitants, but this is obviously little if anything more
than a rough guess. Humboldt makes the following comment: "No means now
exist to arrive at a knowledge of the population of Cuba in the time of
Columbus; but how can we admit what some otherwise judicious historians
state, that when the island of Cuba was conquered in 1511, it contained a
million inhabitants of whom only 14,000 remained in 1517. The statistical
information which we find in the writings of Las Casas is filled with
contradictions." Forty years or so later the Dominican friar, Luis Bertram,
on his return to Spain, predicted that "the 200,000 Indians now in the
island of Cuba, will perish, victims to the cruelty of the Europeans." Yet
Gomara stated that there was not an Indian in Cuba after 1553. Whatever the
exact truth regarding numbers, it is evident that they disappeared rapidly,
worked to death by severe task-masters. The institution of African slavery,
to take the place of the inefficient and fast disappearing native labor,
had its beginning in 1521. Baron Humboldt states that from that time until
1790, the total number of African negroes imported as slaves was 90,875.
In the next thirty years, the business increased rapidly, and Humboldt
estimates the total arrivals, openly entered and smuggled in, from 1521 to
1820, as 372,449. Mr. J.S. Thrasher, in a translation of Humboldt's work,
issued in 1856, added a footnote showing the arrivals up to 1854 as
644,000. A British official authority, at the same period, gives the total
as a little less than 500,000. The exact number is not important. The
institution on a large scale, in its relation to the total number of
whites, was a fact.

It is, of course, quite impossible even today to argue the question of
slavery. To many, the offence lies in the mere fact; to others, it lies in
the operation of the system. At all events, the institution is no longer
tolerated in any civilized country. While some to whom the system itself
was a bitter offence have found much to criticize in its operation in Cuba,
the general opinion of observers appears to be that it was there notably
free from the brutality usually supposed to attend it. The Census Report of
1899, prepared under the auspices of the American authorities, states that
"while it was fraught with all the horrors of this nefarious business
elsewhere, the laws for the protection of slaves were unusually humane.
Almost from the beginning, slaves had a right to purchase their freedom or
change their masters, and long before slavery was abolished they could own
property and contract marriage. As a result, the proportion of free colored
to slaves has always been large." Humboldt, who studied the institution
while it was most extensive, states that "the position of the free negroes
in Cuba is much better than it is elsewhere, even among those nations which
have for ages flattered themselves as being most advanced in civilization."
The movement for the abolition of slavery had its beginning in 1815, with
the treaty of Vienna, to which Spain was a party. Various acts in the same
direction appear in the next fifty years. The Moret law, enacted in 1870 by
the Spanish Cortes, provided for gradual abolition in Spain's dominions,
and a law of 1880, one of the results of the Ten Years' War, definitely
abolished the system. Traces of it remained, however, until about 1887,
when it may be regarded as having become extinct forever in Cuba.

For the first two hundred and fifty years of Cuba's history, the city of
Havana appears as the special centre of interest. There was growth in other
sections, but it was slow, for reasons that will be explained elsewhere.
In 1538, Havana was attacked and totally destroyed by a French privateer.
Hernando de Soto, then Governor of the island, at once began the
construction of defences that are now one of the special points of interest
in the city. The first was the Castillo de la Fuerza. In 1552, Havana
became the capital city. In 1555, it was again attacked, and practically
destroyed, including the new fortress, by French buccaneers. Restoration
was effected as rapidly as possible. In 1589, La Fuerza was enlarged, and
the construction of the Morro and of La Punta, the fortress at the foot of
the Prado, was begun. The old city wall, of which portions still remain,
was of a later period. Despite these precautions, the city was repeatedly
attacked by pirates and privateers. Some reference to these experiences
will be made in a special chapter on the city. The slow progress of the
island is shown by the fact that an accepted official report gives the
total population in 1775 as 171,620, of whom less than 100,000 were white.
The absence of precious metals is doubtless the main reason for the lack of
Spanish interest in the development of the country. For a long time after
the occupation, the principal industry was cattle raising. Agriculture, the
production of sugar, tobacco, coffee, and other crops, on anything properly
to be regarded as a commercial scale, was an experience of later years. The
reason for this will be found in the mistaken colonial policy of Spain, a
policy the application of which, in a far milder manner, cost England its
richest colony in the Western Hemisphere, and which, in the first quarter
of the 19th Century, cost Spain all of its possessions in this half of the
world, with the exception of Cuba and Porto Rico.



While there is no point in Cuba's history that may be said to mark a
definite division between the Old Cuba and the New Cuba, the beginning of
the 19th Century may be taken for that purpose. Cuba's development dragged
for two hundred and fifty years. The population increased slowly and
industry lagged. For this, Spain's colonial policy was responsible. But it
was the policy of the time, carried out more or less effectively by all
nations having colonies. England wrote it particularly into her Navigation
Acts of 1651, 1660, and 1663, and supported it by later Acts. While not
rigorously enforced, and frequently evaded by the American colonists, the
system at last proved so offensive that the colonists revolted in 1775.
Most of Spain's colonies in the Western Hemisphere, for the same reason,
declared and maintained their independence in the first quarter of the
19th Century. At the bottom of Cuba's several little uprisings, and at the
bottom of its final revolt in 1895, lay the same cause of offence. In those
earlier years, it was held that colonies existed solely for the benefit
of the mother-country. In 1497, almost at the very beginning of Spain's
colonial enterprises in the New World, a royal decree was issued under
which the exclusive privilege to carry on trade with the colonies was
granted to the port of Seville. This monopoly was transferred to the port
of Cadiz in 1717, but it continued, in somewhat modified form in later
years, until Spain had no colonies left.

While Santiago was the capital of the island, from 1522 to 1552, trade
between Spain and the island could be carried on only through that port.
When Havana became the capital, in 1552, the exclusive privilege of trade
was transferred to that city. With the exception of the years 1762 and
1763, when the British occupied Havana and declared it open to all trade,
the commerce of the island could only be done through Havana with Seville,
until 1717, and afterward with Cadiz. Baracoa, or Santiago, or Trinidad,
or any other Cuban city, could not send goods to Santander, or Malaga, or
Barcelona, or any other Spanish market, or receive goods directly from
them. The law prohibited trade between Cuba and all other countries, and
limited all trade between the island and the mother-country to the port of
Havana, at one end, and to Seville or Cadiz, according to the time of the
control of those ports, at the other end. Even intercolonial commerce was
prohibited. At times, and for brief periods, the system was modified to
the extent of special trade licences, and, occasionally, by international
treaties. But the general system of trade restriction was maintained
throughout all of Spain's colonial experience. Between 1778 and 1803, most
of Cuba's ports were opened to trade with Spain. The European wars of the
early years of the 19th Century led to modification of the trade laws, but
in 1809 foreign commerce with Spanish American ports was again prohibited.
A few years later, Spain had lost nearly all its American colonies. A new
plan was adopted in 1818. Under that, Spain sought to hold the trade of
Cuba and Porto Rico by tariffs so highly favorable to merchandise from
the mother-country as to be effectively prohibitive with regard to many
products from other countries. This, in general outline, is the cause of
Cuba's slow progress until the 19th Century, and the explanation of its
failure to make more rapid progress during that century.

Naturally, under such conditions, bribery of officials and smuggling became
active and lucrative enterprises. It may be said, in strict confidence
between writer and reader, that Americans were frequently the parties of
the other part in these transactions. In search through a considerable
number of American histories, I have been unable to find definite
references to trade with Cuba, yet there seems to be abundant reason for
belief that such trade was carried on. There are many references to trade
with the West Indies as far back as 1640 and even a year or two earlier,
but allusions to trade with Cuba do not appear, doubtless for the reason
that it was contraband, a violation of both Spanish and British laws. There
was evidently some relaxation toward the close of the 18th Century.
There are no records of the commerce of the American colonies, and only
fragmentary records between 1776 and 1789. The more elaborate records of
1789 and following years show shipments of fish, whale oil, spermaceti
candles, lumber, staves and heading, and other articles to the "Spanish
West Indies," in which group Cuba was presumably included. The records of
the time are somewhat unreliable. It was a custom for the small vessels
engaged in that trade to take out clearance papers for the West Indies. The
cargo might be distributed in a number of ports, and the return cargo might
be similarly collected. For the year 1795, the records of the United States
show total imports from the Spanish West Indies as valued at $1,740,000,
and exports to that area as valued at $1,390,000. In 1800, the imports were
$10,588,000, and the exports $8,270,000. Just how much of this was trade
with Cuba, does not appear. Because of the trade increase at that time,
and because of other events that, soon afterward, brought Cuba into more
prominent notice, this period has been chosen as the line of division
between the Old and the New Cuba.

Compared with the wonderful fertility of Cuba, New England is a sterile
area. Yet in 1790, a hundred and seventy years after its settlement, the
latter had a population a little exceeding a million, while the former, in
1792, or two hundred and eighty years after its occupation, is officially
credited with a population of 272,300. Of these, 153,559 were white and
118,741 were colored. Several forces came into operation at this time, and
population increased rapidly, to 572,363 in 1817, and to 704,465 in 1827.
In 1841, it was a little more than a million. But the increase in colored
population, by the importation of African slaves, outstripped the increase
by the whites. In 1841, the population was divided into 418,291 whites and
589,333 colored. The importation of slaves having declined, the year 1861
shows a white preponderance, since continued and substantially increased.
Among the forces contributing to Cuba's rapid growth during this period
were a somewhat greater freedom of trade; the revolution in the neighboring
island of Haiti and Santo Domingo, that had its beginning in 1791 and
culminated, some ten years later, in the rule of Toussaint L'Ouverture; and
an increased demand for sugar. One result of the Haitian disorder was the
arrival, in eastern Cuba, of a large number of exiles and emigrants who
established extensive coffee plantations. During the first hundred and
fifty years of Cuba's history, the principal industry of the island was
cattle raising, aside from the domestic industry of food supply. The
proprietors lived, usually, in the cities and maintained their vast estates
in the neighborhood. To this, later on, were added the production of
honey and wax and the cultivation of tobacco. With the period now under
consideration, there came the expansion of the coffee and sugar industries.
The older activities do not appear to have been appreciably lessened; the
others were added on.

Europe and the Western Hemisphere were at that time in a state of general
upheaval and rearrangement. Following the American Revolution, there came
the French Revolution; the Napoleonic Wars; the war of 1812 between the
United States and England; and the general revolt of the Spanish colonies.
The world was learning new lessons, adopting new policies, in which the
Spanish colonial system was a blunder the folly of which Spain did not
even then fully realize. Yet from it all, by one means and another, Cuba
benefited. Spain was fortunate in its selection of Governors-General sent
out at this time. Luis de Las Casas, who arrived in 1790, is credited with
much useful work. He improved roads and built bridges; established schools
and the _Casa de Beneficencia_, still among the leading institutions in
Havana; paved the streets of Havana; improved as far as he could the
commercial conditions; and established the _Sociedad Patriotica_, sometimes
called the _Sociedad Economica_, an organization that has since contributed
immeasurably to Cuba's welfare and progress. He was followed by others
whose rule was creditable. But the principal evils, restricted commerce
and burdensome taxation, were not removed, although world conditions
practically compelled some modification of the commercial regulations. In
1801 the ports of the island were thrown open to the trade of friendly and
neutral nations. Eight years later, foreign commerce was again prohibited.
In 1818, a new system was established, that of a tariff so highly favorable
to merchandise from Spain that it was by no means unusual for goods to
be shipped to that country, even from the United States, and from there
reshipped to Cuba. Changes in the rates were made from time to time, but
the system of heavy discrimination in favor of Spanish goods in Spanish
ships continued until the equalization of conditions under the order of the
Government of Intervention, in 1899.

In his book published in 1840, Mr. Turnbull states that "the mercantile
interests of the island have been greatly promoted by the relaxation of
those restrictive regulations which under the old peninsular system bound
down all foreign commerce with the colonies of Spain, and laid it prostrate
at the feet of the mother-country. It cannot be said that the sound
principles of free trade, in any large or extended sense of the term,
have been recognized or acted upon even at the single port of Havana. The
discriminating duties imposed by the supreme government of Madrid on the
natural productions, manufactures, and shipping of foreign countries, in
contradistinction to those of Spain, are so stringent and so onerous as
altogether to exclude the idea of anything approaching to commercial
freedom. There is no longer, it is true, any absolute prohibition, but in
many cases the distinguishing duties are so heavy as to defeat their own
object, and, in place of promoting the interests of the mother-country,
have had little other effect than the establishment of an extensive and
ruinous contraband." Under such conditions as those existing in Cuba,
from its beginning practically until the establishment of its political
independence, industrial development and commercial expansion are more than

One of the natural results of such a system appeared in the activities of
smugglers. The extent to which that industry was carried on cannot, of
course, be even guessed. Some have estimated that the merchandise imported
in violation of the laws equalled in value the merchandise entered at
the custom houses. An official publication (American) states that "from
smuggling on a large scale and privateering to buccaneering and piracy is
not a long step, and under the name of privateers French, Dutch, English,
and American smugglers and buccaneers swarmed the Caribbean Sea and the
Gulf of Mexico for more than two centuries, plundering Spanish _flotas_
and attacking colonial settlements. Among the latter, Cuba was the chief
sufferer." Had Cuba's coasts been made to order for the purpose, they could
hardly have been better adapted to the uses of smugglers. Off shore, for
more than half its coast line, both north and south, are small islands
and keys with narrow and shallow passages between them, thus making an
excellent dodging area for small boats if pursued by revenue vessels.
Thoroughly familiar with these entrances and hiding places, smugglers could
land their goods almost at will with little danger of detection or capture.

Another heavy handicap on the economic progress of the island appears in
the system of taxation. Regarding this system, the Census of 1899 reports
as follows:

"Apart from imports and exports, taxes were levied on real and personal
property and on industries and commerce of all kinds. Every profession,
art, or manual occupation contributed its quota, while, as far back as
1638, seal and stamp taxes were established on all judicial business and
on all kinds of petitions and claims made to official corporations, and
subsequently on all bills and accounts. These taxes were in the form of
stamps on official paper and at the date of American occupation the paper
cost from 35 cents to $3 a sheet. On deeds, wills, and other similar
documents the paper cost from 35 cents to $37.50 per sheet, according to
the value of the property concerned. Failure to use even the lowest-priced
paper involved a fine of $50.

"There was also a municipal tax on the slaughter of cattle for the market.
This privilege was sold by the municipal council to the highest bidder,
with the result that taxes were assessed on all animals slaughtered,
whether for the market or for private consumption, with a corresponding
increase in the price of meat.

"Another tax established in 1528, called the _derecho_ _de averia_,
required the payment of 20 ducats ($16) by every person, bond or free,
arriving in the island. In 1665 this tax was increased to $22, and
continued in force to 1765, thus retarding immigration, and, to that
extent, the increase of population, especially of the laboring class.

"An examination of these taxes will show their excessive, arbitrary, and
unscientific character, and how they operated to discourage Cubans from
owning property or engaging in many industrial pursuits tending to benefit
them and to promote the material improvement of the island.

"Taxes on real estate were estimated by the tax inspector on the basis
of its rental or productive capacity, and varied from 4 to 12 per cent.
Similarly, a nominal municipal tax of 25 per cent was levied on the
estimated profits of all industries and commerce, and on the income derived
from all professions, manual occupations, or agencies, the collector
receiving 6 per cent of all taxes assessed. Much unjust discrimination was
made against Cubans in determining assessable values and in collecting the
taxes, and it is said that bribery in some form was the only effective
defense against the most flagrant impositions."

Some of the experiences of this period will be considered in special
chapters on Cuba's alleged revolutions and on the relations of the United
States to Cuba and its affairs. One point may be noted here. The wave of
republicanism that swept over a considerable part of Europe and over the
Western Hemisphere, from 1775 to 1825 had its direct influence in Spain,
and an influence only less direct in Cuba. In 1812, Spain became a
constitutional monarchy. It is true that the institution had only a
brief life, but the sentiment that lay beneath it persisted and had been
repeatedly a cause of disturbance on the Peninsula. Something of the
same sentiment pervaded Cuba and excited ambitions, not for national
independence, but for some participation in government. A royal decree, in
1810, gave Cuba representation in the Cortes, and two deputies from the
island took part in framing the Constitution of 1812. This recognition of
Cuba lasted for only two years, the Constitution being abrogated in 1814,
but it was restored in 1820, only to cease again three years later.
Representatives were again admitted to the Cortes in 1834, and again
excluded in 1837. The effect of all this was, perhaps, psychological rather
than practical, but it gave rise to a new mental attitude and to some
change in conduct. The effect appears in the numerous recurrences of open
protest and passive resistance in the place of the earlier submission.
Writing in 1855, Mr. J.S. Thrasher stated that "the essential political
elements of the island are antagonistic to those of the mother-country.
While the Cortes and the crown have frequently declared that Cuba does not
form an integral part of the Spanish monarchy, but must be governed by
special laws not applicable to Spain, and persist in ruling her under the
erroneous and unjust European colonial system, the growing wealth and
increasing intelligence of the Cubans lead them to aspire to some share in
the elimination of the political principles under which their own affairs
shall be administered. A like antagonism exists in the economic relations
of the two countries. While the people of Cuba are not averse to the
raising of such revenue as may be required for the proper wants of the
State, in the administration of which they may participate, they complain,
with a feeling of national pride, that fiscal burdens of the most onerous
kind are laid upon them for the expressed purpose of advancing interests
which are in every sense opposed to their own. Thus, Spain imposes taxes to
support a large army and navy, the principal object of which is to prevent
any expression of the public will on the part of the people of Cuba.
Another class of impositions have for their object the diversion of
the trade of Cuba to channels which shall increase the profits of the
agriculturists and mariners of Spain without regard to the interests of the
people of the island."

[Illustration: A PLANTER'S HOME _Havana Province_]

Yet in spite of these severe restrictions and heavy burdens, Cuba shows a
considerable progress during the first half of the century. It is far from
easy to reach fair conclusions from contemporaneous writings. Naturally,
Spanish officials and Spanish writers strove to make the best possible case
for Spain, its policies and its conduct. The press of the island was either
under official control or stood in fear of official reprisals. The Cuban
side, naturally partisan, appears to have been presented chiefly by
fugitive pamphlets, more or less surreptitiously printed and distributed,
usually the product of political extremists. Among these was a man of
marked ability and of rare skill in the use of language. He was Don Antonio
Saco, known in Cuba as the "Immortal Saco." In a letter written to a
friend, in 1846, he says, "The tyranny of our mother-country, today most
acute, will have this result--that within a period of time not very remote
the Cubans will be compelled to take up arms to banish her." That British
observers and most American observers should take the side of the Cubans is
altogether natural. Writing in 1854, Mr. M.M. Ballou, in his _History of
Cuba_, says: "The Cubans owe all the blessings they enjoy to Providence
alone (so to speak), while the evils which they suffer are directly
referable to the oppression of the home government. Nothing short of a
military despotism could maintain the connection of such an island with a
mother-country more than three thousand miles distant; and accordingly we
find the captain-general of Cuba invested with unlimited power. He is, in
fact, a viceroy appointed by the crown of Spain, and accountable only to
the reigning sovereign for his administration of the colony. His rule is
absolute; he has the power of life and death and liberty in his hands. He
can, by his arbitrary will, send into exile any person whatever, be his
name or rank what it may, whose residence in the island he considers
prejudicial to the royal interest, even if he has committed no overt act.
He can suspend the operation of the laws and ordinances, if he sees fit to
do so; can destroy or confiscate property; and, in short, the island may be
said to be perpetually in a state of siege."

The student or the reader may take his choice. On one side are Spanish
statements, official and semi-official, and on the other side, Cuban
statements no less partisan. The facts appear to support the Cuban
argument. In spite of the severe restrictions and the heavy burdens, Cuba
shows a notable progress during the 19th Century. Governors came and went,
some very good and others very bad. There were a hundred of them from 1512
to 1866, and thirty-six more from 1866 to 1899, the average term of service
for the entire number being a little less than three years. On the whole,
the most notable of the group of 19th Century incumbents was Don Miguel
Tacon, who ruled from June 1, 1834, until April 16, 1838. His record would
seem to place him quite decidedly in the "reactionary" class, but he was a
man of action who left behind him monuments that remain to his credit even
now. One historian, Mr. Kimball, who wrote in 1850, describes him as one
in whom short-sightedness, narrow views, and jealous and weak mind, were
joined to an uncommon stubbornness of character. Another, Mr. M.M. Ballou,
says that "probably of all the governors-general that have filled the post
in Cuba none is better known abroad, or has left more monuments to his
enterprise, than Tacon. His reputation at Havana (this was written 1854) is
of a somewhat doubtful character; for, though he followed out with energy
various improvements, yet his modes of procedure were so violent that he
was an object of terror to the people generally, rather than of gratitude.
He vastly improved the appearance of the capital and its vicinity, built
the new prison, rebuilt the governor's palace, constructed a military road
to the neighboring forts, erected a spacious theatre and market house,
arranged a new public walk, and opened a vast parade ground without the
city walls, thus laying the foundation of the new city which has now sprung
up in this formerly desolate suburb. He suppressed the gaming houses and
rendered the streets, formerly infested with robbers, as secure as those of
Boston or New York." Another writer, Mr. Samuel Hazard, in 1870, says: "Of
all the governors who have been in command of the island Governor Tacon
seems to have been the best, doing the most to improve the island, and
particularly Havana; making laws, punishing offences, and establishing some
degree of safety for its inhabitants. It is reported of him that he is
said, like the great King Alfred, to have promised the Cubans that they
should be able to leave their purses of money on the public highway without
fear of having them stolen. At all events, his name is cherished by every
Cuban for the good he has done, and _paseos_, theatres, and monuments bear
his great name in Havana." The Tacon theatre is now the Nacional, and the
Paseo Tacon is now Carlos III. The "new prison" is the _Carcel_, or jail,
at the northern end of the Prado, near the fortress of La Punta. Don Miguel
may have been disliked for his methods and his manners, but he certainly
did much to make his rule memorable.

There is no reliable information that shows the progress of the island
during the 19th Century. Even the census figures are questioned. A reported
432,000 total population in 1804 is evidently no more than an estimate, yet
it is very likely not far from the actual. Concerning their distribution
throughout the island, and the number engaged in different occupations,
there are no records. There are no acceptable figures regarding the
respective numbers of whites and blacks. Nor is there any record of the
population in 1895, the year of the war for independence. From the definite
tabulation, under American auspices, in 1899, showing 1,576,797, it has
been estimated that the number in 1895, was a little less than 1,800,000,
the difference being represented by the disasters of the war, by the result
of reconcentration, and by departures during the disturbance. The general
result seems to be that the population was practically quadrupled. A
somewhat rough approximation would show the blacks as multiplied by three,
to an 1899 total of 505,000, with the whites multiplied by four, to a total
of 1,067,000. Nor are there figures of trade that afford any proper clue
to the growth of industry and commerce. There are records of imports
and exports from about 1850 onward, but before that time the matter of
contraband trade introduces an element of uncertainty. An American official
pamphlet on Cuban trade carries the statement, "the ascertainment of full
and exact details of the commerce of Cuba prior to the close of Spanish
dominion in the island is an impossibility. The Spanish authorities, as
a rule, published no complete returns of Cuban trade, either foreign or
domestic. Except with regard to Spain and the United States, most of the
existing commercial statistics of Cuba, prior to 1899, are fragmentary
and merely approximative. Spain and the United States have always kept a
separate and distinct trade account with Cuba; but the United Kingdom,
France, Germany, and other European countries excepting Spain, formerly
merged their statistics of trade with Cuba in one general item embracing
Cuba and Porto Rico, under the heading of "Spanish West Indies." Since
1899, however, all the Powers have kept separate accounts with Cuba,
and the statistics of the Cuban Republic have been reasonably full and

[Illustration: IRON GRILLE GATEWAY _El Vedado, Suburb of Havana_]

Cuba's recorded imports in 1894 show a total value of $90,800,000, and
exports show a value of $102,000,000. Writing about the year 1825, Humboldt
says: "It is more than probable that the imports of the whole island, licit
and contraband, estimated at the actual value of the goods and the slaves,
amount, at the present time, to fifteen or sixteen millions of dollars, of
which barely three or four millions are re-exported." The same authority
gives the probable exports of that time as about $12,500,000. The trade at
the beginning of the century must have been far below this. The official
figures for 1851 show total imports amounting to $34,000,000, and exports
to $33,000,000, but the accuracy of the figures is open to question. The
more important fact is that of a very large gain in population and in
production. The coffee industry, that assumed important proportions during
a part of the first half of the century, gradually declined for the reason
that sugar became a much more profitable crop. Now, Cuba imports most of
its coffee from Porto Rico. Because of its convenience as a contraband
article, there are no reliable figures of the tobacco output. Prior to
1817, the commodity was, for much of the time, a crown monopoly and, for
the remainder of the time, a monopoly concession to private companies. In
that year, cultivation and trade became free, subject to a tax on each
planter of one-twentieth of his production.

As we shall see, in another chapter, Cuba at last wearied of Spanish
exactions and revolted as did the United States, weary of British rule and
British exactions and restrictions, more than a hundred years earlier.



Description of the physical features of a country seldom makes highly
entertaining reading, but it seems a necessary part of a book of this kind.
Some readers may find interest if not entertainment in such a review. The
total area of the island, including a thousand or more adjacent islands,
islets, and keys, is given as 44,164 square miles, a little less than the
area of Pennsylvania and a little more than that of Ohio or Tennessee.
Illustration of its shape by some familiar object is difficult, although
various comparisons have been attempted. Some old Spanish geographers gave
the island the name of _La Lengua de Pajaro_, "the bird's tongue." Mr. M.M.
Ballou likened it to "the blade of a Turkish scimitar slightly curved back,
or approaching the form of a long, narrow, crescent." Mr. Robert T. Hill
holds that it "resembles a great hammer-headed shark, the head of which
forms the straight, south coast of the east end of the island, from which
the sinuous body extends westward. This analogy is made still more striking
by two long, finlike strings of keys, or islets, which extend backward
along the opposite coasts, parallel to the main body of the island." But
all such comparisons call for a lively imagination. It might be likened to
the curving handles of a plow attached to a share, or to any one of a dozen
things that it does not at all clearly resemble. Regarding the Oriente
coast, from Cape Cruz to Cape Maisi, as a base, from that springs a long
and comparatively slender arm that runs northwesterly for five hundred
miles to the vicinity of Havana. There, the arm, somewhat narrowed, turns
downward in a generally southwestern direction for about two hundred miles.
The total length of the island, from Cape Maisi on the east to Cape San
Antonio on the west, is about seven hundred and thirty miles. Its width
varies from a maximum, in Oriente Province, of about one hundred and sixty
miles, to a minimum, in Havana Province, of about twenty-two miles. It has
a general coast line of about twenty-two hundred miles, or, following all
its sinuosities, of about seven thousand miles. Its north coast is, for
much of its length, steep and rocky. Throughout the greater part of the
middle provinces, there is a border of coral reefs and small islands. At
the western end, the north coast is low, rising gradually to the eastward.
At the eastern end, the northern coast is abrupt and rugged, rising in a
series of hills to the elevations in the interior. Westward from Cape Maisi
to Cape Cruz, on the south coast, and immediately along the shore line,
runs a mountain range. From here westward, broken by an occasional hill or
bluff, the coast is low and marshy.

Probably the best description of the topography and the orography of the
island yet presented is that given by Mr. Robert T. Hill, of the United
States Geological Survey. In his book on Cuba and other islands of the West
Indies, Mr. Hill says:

"As regards diversity of relief, Cuba's eastern end is mountainous, with
summits standing high above the adjacent sea; its middle portion is wide,
consisting of gently sloping plains, well-drained, high above the sea, and
broken here and there by low, forest-clad hills; and its western third is
a picturesque region of mountains, with fertile slopes and valleys, of
different structure and less altitude than those of the east. Over the
whole is a mantle of tender vegetation, rich in every hue that a flora of
more than three thousand species can give, and kept green by mists and
gentle rains. Indenting the rock-bound coasts are a hundred pouch-shaped
harbors such as are but rarely found in the other islands and shores of the
American Mediterranean.

"But, at the outset the reader should dispossess his mind of any
preconceived idea that the island of Cuba is in any sense a physical unit.
On the contrary, it presents a diversity of topographic, climatic, and
cultural features, which, as distributed, divide the island into at least
three distinct natural provinces, for convenience termed the eastern,
central, and western regions. The distinct types of relief include regions
of high mountains, low hills, dissected plateaus, intermontane valleys, and
coastal swamps. With the exception of a strip of the south-central coast,
the island, as a whole, stands well above the sea, is thoroughly drained,
and presents a rugged aspect when viewed from the sea. About one-fourth of
the total area is mountainous, three-fifths are rolling plain, valleys, and
gentle arable slopes, and the remainder is swampy.

"The island border on the north presents a low cliff topography, with a
horizontal sky-line from Matanzas westward, gradually decreasing from five
hundred feet at Matanzas to one hundred feet on the west. The coast of the
east end is abrupt and rugged, presenting on both the north and south sides
a series of remarkable terraces, rising in stair-like arrangement to six
hundred feet or more, representing successive pauses or stages in the
elevation of the island above the sea, and constituting most striking
scenic features. About one-half the Cuban coast is bordered by keys, which
are largely old reef rock, the creations of the same coral-builders that
may now be seen through the transparent waters still at work on the modern
shallows, decking the rocks and sands with their graceful and many colored
tufts of animal foliage."

Mr. Hill summarizes the general appearance of the island, thus: "Santiago
de Cuba (now called Oriente) is predominantly a mountainous region of high
relief, especially along the coasts, with many interior valleys. Puerto
Principe (now Camaguey) and Santa Clara are broken regions of low mountain
relief, diversified by extensive valleys. Matanzas and Havana are vast
stretches of level cultivated plain, with only a few hills of relief. Pinar
del Rio is centrally mountainous, with fertile coastward slopes." The
notable elevations of the island are the Cordilleras de los Organos, or
Organ Mountains, in Pinar del Rio, of which an eastward extension appears
in the Tetas de Managua, the Arcas de Canasi, the Escalera de Jaruco,
the Pan de Matanzas, and other minor elevations in Havana and Matanzas
Provinces. In Santa Clara and Camaguey, the range is represented by crest
lines and plateaus along the north shore, and finally runs into the hill
and mountain maze of Oriente. In the south-central section of the island, a
somewhat isolated group of elevations appears, culminating in El Potrerillo
at a height of nearly 3,000 feet. In Oriente, immediately along the south
coast line, is the precipitous Sierra Maestra, reaching its greatest
altitude in the Pico del Turquino, with an elevation of approximately
8,500 feet. Another elevation, near Santiago, known as La Gran Piedra, is
estimated at 5,200 feet. All these heights are densely wooded. From the
tops of some of them, east, west, and central, the views are marvellously
beautiful, but the summits of most are reached only with considerable
difficulty. One of the most notable of these view points, and one of the
most easily reached, is the height immediately behind the city of Matanzas,
overlooking the famous Yumuri valley. The valley is a broad, shallow bowl,
some five or six miles in diameter, enclosed by steeply sloping walls of
five to six hundred feet in height. Through it winds the Yumuri River. It
is best seen in the early forenoon, or the late afternoon, when there come
the shadows and the lights that are largely killed by the more vertical
rays of a midday sun. At those hours, it is a scene of entrancing
loveliness. There are views, elsewhere, covering wider expanses, but none,
I think, of equal beauty.

The vicinity of Matanzas affords a spectacle of almost enchantment for the
sight-seer, and of deep interest for the geologist. Somewhat more than
fifty years ago, an accident revealed the beautiful caves of Bellamar, two
or three miles from the city, and easily reached by carriage. Caves ought
to be cool. These are not, but they are well worth all the perspiration it
costs to see them. They are a show place, and guides are always available.
In size, the caverns are not comparable with the caves of Kentucky and
Virginia, but they far excel in beauty. They are about three miles in
extent, and their lower levels are said to be about five hundred feet
from the surface. The rock is white limestone, in which are chambers and
passage-ways, stalactites and stalagmites innumerable. These have their
somewhat fantastic but not unfitting names, such as the Gothic Temple, the
Altar, the Guardian Spirit, the Fountain of Snow, and Columbus' Mantle.
The place has been called "a dream of fairyland," a fairly appropriate
description. The colors are snow-white, pink, and shades of yellow, and
many of the forms are wonderfully beautiful. There are many other caves in
the island, like Cotilla, in the Guines region not far from Havana, others
in the Cubitas Mountains in Camaguey Province, and still others in Oriente,
but in comparison with Bellamar they are little else than holes in the
ground. The trip through these remarkable aisles and chambers occupies some
three or four hours.

Cuba is not big enough for rivers of size. There are innumerable streams,
for the island generally is well-watered. The only river of real importance
is the Cauto, in Oriente Province. This is the longest and the largest
river in the island. It rises in the hills north of Santiago, and winds a
devious way westward for about a hundred and fifty miles, emptying at last
into the Gulf of Buena Esperanza, north of the city of Manzanillo. It
is navigable for small boats, according to the stage of the water, from
seventy-five to a hundred miles from its mouth. Numerous smaller streams
flow to the coast on both north and south. Some, that are really estuaries,
are called rivers. Very few of them serve any commercial purposes. There
are a few water areas called lakes, but they are really little other than
ponds. On the south coast, directly opposite Matanzas, lies a vast swamp
known as the Cienega de Zapata. It occupies an area of about seventy-five
miles in length and about thirty miles in width, almost a dead flat, and
practically at sea-level. Here and there are open spaces of water or
clusters of trees, but most of it is bog and quagmire and dense mangrove
thickets. Along the coast are numerous harbors, large and small, that are
or, by dredging, could be made available for commercial purposes. Among
these, on the north coast, from west to east, are Bahia Honda, Mariel,
Havana, Matanzas, Nuevitas, Nipe Bay, and Baracoa. On the south, from east
to west, are Guantanamo, Santiago, Manzanillo, Cienfuegos, and Batabano. At
all of these, there are now cities or towns with trade either by steamers
or small sailing vessels. Among the interesting physical curiosities of
the island are the numerous "disappearing rivers." Doubtless the action
of water on limestone has left, in many places, underground chambers and
tunnels into which the streams have found an opening and in which they
disappear, perhaps to emerge again and perhaps to find their way to the sea
without reappearance. This seems to explain numerous fresh-water springs
among the keys and off-shore. The Rio San Antonio quite disappears near San
Antonio de los Banos. Near Guantanamo, a cascade drops three hundred feet
into a cavern and reappears a short distance away. Such disappearing rivers
are not unknown elsewhere but Cuba has several of them.

* * * * *

The Census Report of 1907, prepared under American auspices, states that
"the climate of Cuba is tropical and insular. There are no extremes of
heat, and there is no cold weather." This is quite true if the records of a
thermometer are the standard; quite untrue if measured by the sensations of
the human body. It is true that, in Havana, for instance, the thermometer
seldom exceeds 90 deg. in the hottest months, and rarely if ever goes below 50 deg.
in the coldest. But a day with the thermometer anywhere in the 80s may seem
to a northern body very hot, and a day with the thermometer in the 50s
is cold for anyone, whether a native or a visitor. There is doubtless a
physical reason for the fact that a hot day in the north seems hotter than
the same temperature in the south, while a day that seems, in the north,
only pleasantly cool, seems bitterly cold in the tropics. When the
thermometer drops below 60 deg. in Havana, the coachmen blanket their horses,
the people put on all the clothes they have, and all visitors who are
at all sensitive to low temperature go about shivering. Steam heat and
furnaces are unknown, and fireplaces are a rarity. Yet, in general, the
variations are not wide, either from day to day or when measured by
seasons. The extremes are the infrequent exceptions. Nor is there wide
difference between day and night. Taking the island as a whole, the average
mean temperature for July, the hottest month, is about 82 deg., and for
January, the coolest month, about 71 deg.. The mean for the year is about 77 deg.,
as compared with 52 deg. for New York, 48 deg. for Chicago, 62 deg. for Los Angeles,
and 68 deg. for New Orleans. There are places that, by reason of exposure to
prevailing winds, or distance from the coast, are hotter or cooler than
other places. Havana is one of the cool spots, that is, relatively cool.
But no one goes there in search of cold. The yearly range in Havana, from
maximum to minimum, rarely if ever exceeds fifty degrees, and is usually
somewhat below that, while the range in New York, Chicago, and St. Louis
is usually from one hundred to one hundred and twenty-five degrees. The
particular cause of discomfort for those unused to it, is the humidity that
prevails throughout the greater part of the year. The worst season for
this, however, is the mid-year months when few people visit the island. The
winter months, locally known as the "_invierno_," a term to be associated
with our word "vernal" and not with "infernal," are almost invariably
delightful, bringing to northern systems a pleasurable physical laziness
that is attended by a mental indifference to, or satisfaction with, the

[Illustration: WATERING HERD OF CATTLE _Luyano River near Havana_]

The rainfall varies so widely in different parts of the island, and from
year to year, that exact information is difficult. Taken as a whole, it is
little if at all greater than it is in most places in the United States. We
have our arid spots, like El Paso, Fresno, Boise, Phoenix, and Winnemucca,
where only a few inches fall in a year, just as Cuba has a few places where
the fall may reach sixty-five or seventy inches in a year. But the average
fall in Havana, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, and Santiago, is little if any
greater than in Boston, New York, or Washington. A difference appears in
the fact that about three-quarters of Cuba's precipitation comes between
the first of May and the first of October. But the term "wet season" does
not mean that it rains all the time, or every day, any more than the term
"dry season" means that during those months it does not rain at all. At
times during the winter, or dry season, there come storms that are due to
unusual cold in the United States. These are known in Cuba, as they are in
Texas, as "northers." High winds sweep furiously across the Gulf of Mexico,
piling up huge seas on the Cuban coast, and bringing what, in the island,
is the substitute for cold weather, usually attended by rain and sometimes
by a torrent of it. The prevailing wind in Cuba is the northeast
trade-wind. In summer when the sun is directly overhead this wind is
nearly east, while in winter it is northeast. The proper way to avoid such
discomfort as attends humidity accompanying a thermometer in the 80s, is to
avoid haste in movement, to saunter instead of hurrying, to ride instead of
walking, to eat and drink in moderation, and where-ever possible, to keep
in the shade. Many of those who eat heartily and hurry always, will,
after a few days, be quite sure that they have yellow fever or some
other tropical disorder, but will be entirely mistaken about it. Modern
sanitation in Cuba has made yellow fever a remote possibility, and the
drinking water in Havana is as pure as any in the world.

Most of the official descriptions of the flora of Cuba appear to be copied
from Robert T. Hill's book, published in 1898. As nothing better is
available, it may be used here. He says: "The surface of the island is clad
in a voluptuous floral mantle, which, from its abundance and beauty, first
caused Cuba to be designated the Pearl of the Antilles. In addition
to those introduced from abroad, over 3,350 native plants have been
catalogued. The flora includes nearly all characteristic forms of the
other West Indies, the southern part of Florida, and the Central American
seaboard. Nearly all the large trees of the Mexican _Tierra Caliente_, so
remarkable for their size, foliage, and fragrance, reappear in western
Cuba. Numerous species of palm, including the famous royal palm, occur,
while the pine trees, elsewhere characteristic of the temperate zone and
the high altitudes of the tropics, are found associated with palms and
mahoganies in the province of Pinar del Rio and the Isle of Pines, both
of which take their name from this tree. Among other woods are the
lignum-vitae, granadilla, the coco-wood, and the _Cedrela Odorata_
(fragrant cedar) which is used for cigar boxes and the lining of cabinet

In quoting the number of native plants, Mr. Hill uses a report somewhat
antiquated. Later estimates place the number as between five and six
thousand. Flowers are abundant, flowers on vines, plants, shrubs, and
trees, tall stalks with massive heads, and dainty little blossoms by the
wayside. Brilliant flowering trees are planted to line the roadsides. Among
all the tree-growths, the royal palm is notable. Scoffers have likened it
to "a feather duster stood on end," but it is the prominent feature in most
of Cuba's landscape, and it serves many purposes other than that of mere
decoration. From its stem the Cuban peasant builds his little cottage which
he roofs with its leaves. Medicinal qualities are claimed for its roots.
From different parts of the tree, a wide variety of useful articles is
made, plates, buckets, basins, and even a kettle in which water may be
boiled. The huge clusters of seeds are excellent food for animals, and I
have heard it said, though without proper confirmation, that "a royal palm
will keep a hog." Almost invariably, its presence indicates a rich soil, as
it rarely grows in areas of poor land. The forest area of the island is not
known with exactness, and is variously estimated at from about six thousand
square miles to about sixteen thousand. The difference probably represents
the opinion of individual investigators as to what is forest. About
one-third of the total is reported as in Oriente, another third in
Camaguey, and the remainder scattered through the four remaining provinces.
A part of it is "public land," that is, owned by the central government,
but a greater part is of private ownership under old Spanish grants. Much
of it is dense jungle through which a way can be made only by hacking,
almost foot by foot. A good deal of it has already been cut over for its
most valuable timber. Most of the woods bear names entirely unfamiliar to
us. Some are used as cabinet woods, and some for tanning, for oils, dyes,
gums, or fibres.

Cuba has few four-footed native wild animals. There are rabbits, but their
nativity is not quite certain. There are deer, but it is known that their
ancestors were brought from some other country. There are wild dogs, wild
cats, and wild pigs, but all are only domestic animals run wild.

Perhaps the only animal of the kind known to be native is the _jutia_,
sometimes spelled, as pronounced, _hutia_. Some observers have referred to
it as a rat, but it climbs trees and grows to the size of a woodchuck,
or groundhog. It is sometimes eaten and is said to be quite palatable.
Reptiles are fairly common, but none of them is dangerous. The best known
is the _maja_, a snake that grows to a length, sometimes, of twelve or
fifteen feet. The country people not infrequently make of it a kind of
house pet. When that is done, the reptile often makes its home in the
cottage thatch, living on birds and mice. They are dull and sluggish in
motion. While visiting a sugar plantation a few years ago one of the hands
asked if I should be interested by their _maja_. He dipped his hand into a
nearby water-barrel in the bottom of which two of them were closely coiled.
He dragged out one of perhaps ten or twelve feet in length and four or five
inches in diameter, handling it as he would the same length of hawser. He
hung it over the limb of a tree so that I could have a good chance for
a picture of it. The thing squirmed slowly to the ground and crawled
sluggishly away to the place from which it had been taken. Of bird-life
there is a large representation, both native and migratory. Among them
are some fifty species of "waders." In some parts of the island, the very
unpleasant land-crab, about the size of a soup-plate, seems to exist in
millions, although thousands is probably nearer the actual. The American
soldiers made their acquaintance in large numbers at the time of the
Santiago campaign. They are not a proper article of food. They have a
salt-water relative that is most excellent eating, as is also the lobster
_(langosta)_ of Cuban waters. In the swamp known as the Cienega de Zapata
are both alligators and crocodiles, some of them of quite imposing

[Illustration: ROYAL PALMS]

The insect life of the island is extensive. From personal experience,
particularly behind the search-light of an automobile that drew them
in swarms, I, should say that the island would be a rich field for the
entomologist. There are mosquitos, gnats, beetles, moths, butterflies,
spiders, and scorpions. The bites of some of the spiders and the stings of
the scorpions are, of course, uncomfortable, but they are neither fatal nor
dangerous. With the exception of an occasional mosquito, and a perhaps more
than occasional flea, the visitor to cities only is likely to encounter
few of the members of these branches of Cuban zoology. There is one of
the beetle family, however, that is extremely interesting. That is
the _cucullo_, which Mr. Hazard, in his book on Cuba, calls a "bright
peripatetic candle-bearer, by whose brilliant light one can not only walk,
but even read." They are really a kind of glorified firefly, much larger
than ours, and with a much more brilliant light. I do not know their
candle-power, but Mr. Hazard exaggerates little if at all in the matter of
their brilliancy.

While those referred to in the foregoing are the most notable features
in this particular part of the Cuban field, there are others, though of
perhaps less importance, to which reference might be made. Among them would
be the sponge fisheries of the coast in the neighborhood of Batabano,
and the numerous mineral springs, some of them really having, and others
supposed to have, remarkable curative qualities. A half century or so ago,
a number of places not far from Havana were resorts to which rich and
poor went to drink or to bathe in springs hot or cold or sulphurous or
otherwise, for their healing. Among these were the baths at San Diego, near
the Organ Mountains in Pinar del Rio; Santa Rita, near Guanabacoa in Havana
Province; others near Marianao, on the outskirts of the city; and San
Antonio, also in Havana Province. Most of these places now appear to have
lost their popularity if not their medicinal virtues. Some, like those
at Madruga, not far from Havana, still have a considerable patronage.
Something may also be said of earthquakes and hurricanes. The former
occur, on a small scale, more or less frequently in Oriente, and much less
frequently and of less severity in Havana. The latter come from time
to time to work disaster to Cuban industries and, sometimes but not
frequently, to cause loss of life and the destruction of buildings. They
rarely occur except in the late summer and the autumn.

Nearly a hundred years ago, Alexander Humboldt, a traveller and a
scientist, wrote thus of the island of Cuba: "Notwithstanding the absence
of deep rivers and the unequal fertility of the soil, the island of Cuba
presents on every hand a most varied and agreeable country from its
undulating character, its ever-springing verdure, and the variety of its
vegetable formations."



Among the many pictures, stored away in the album of my memory, there are
two that stand out more vividly than any others. The subjects are separated
by half the world's circumference. One is the sunsets at Jolo, in the
southern Philippines. There the sun sank into the western sea in a blaze
of cloud-glory, between the low-lying islands on either hand with the rich
green of their foliage turned to purple shadows. The other is the sunrise
at Havana, seen from the deck of a steamer in the harbor. The long, soft
shadows and the mellow light fell on the blue and gray and green of the
buildings of the city, and on the red-tiled roofs, with the hills for a
background in one-half of the picture, and the gleaming water of the gulf
in the background of the other half. I had seen the long stretch of the
southern coast of the island, from Cape Antonio to Cape Maisi, while on an
excursion with a part of the army of occupation sent to Porto Rico in the
summer of 1898, and had set foot on Cuban soil at Daiquiri, but Havana in
the morning light, on January 2, 1899, was my first real Cuban experience.
It remains an ineffaceable memory. Of my surroundings and experiences aside
from that, I have no distinct recollection. All was submerged by that one
picture, and quickly buried by the activities into which I was immediately
plunged. I do not recall the length of time we were held on board for
medical inspection, nor whether the customs inspection was on board or
ashore. I recall the trip from the ship to the wharf, in one of the little
sailboats then used for the purpose, rather because of later experiences
than because of the first one. I have no purpose here to write a history
of those busy days, filled as they were with absorbing interest, with much
that was pathetic and not a little that was amusing. I have seen that
morning picture many times since, but never less beautiful, never less
impressive. Nowadays, it is lost to most travellers because the crossing
from Key West is made in the daytime, the boat reaching Havana in the
late-afternoon. Sometimes there is a partial compensation in the sunset
picture, but I have never seen that when it really rivalled the picture at
the beginning of the day.

The visitor to Cuba, unfamiliar with the island, should take it leisurely.
It is not a place through which the tourist may rush, guide book in hand,
making snapshots with a camera, and checking off places of interest as they
are visited. Picturesqueness and quaintness are not at all lacking, but
there are no noble cathedrals, no vast museums of art and antiquity, no
snow-clad mountains. There is a charm of light and shade and color that
is to be absorbed slowly rather than swallowed at a single gulp. It is
emphatically a place in which to dawdle. Let those who are obliged to do
so, work and hurry; the visitor and the traveller should take it without
haste. It is far better to see Havana and its vicinity slowly and
enjoyably, and look at pictures of the rest of the country, than it is to
rush through the island merely for the sake of doing so. In his essay on
_The Moral of Landscape_, Mr. Ruskin said that "all travelling becomes dull
in exact proportion to its rapidity." Nowhere is that more true than it
is in Cuba. There is very little in all the island that cannot be seen in
Havana and its immediate vicinity. It is well to see the other places if
one has ample time, but they should not be seen at the expense of a proper
enjoyment of Havana and its neighborhood. In Havana are buildings as old
and buildings as beautiful as any in the island. In its vicinity are sugar
plantations, tobacco fields, pineapples, cocoanuts, mangoes, royal palms,
ceibas, peasants' homes, typical towns and villages, all the life of the
people in the city and country. The common American desire to "see it all"
in a few days, is fatal to the greatest enjoyment, and productive mainly
of physical fatigue and mental confusion. It is the misfortune of most
travellers that they carry with them only the vaguest of ideas of what they
want to see. They have heard of Cuba, of Havana, the Morro, the Prado, of a
sunny island in the midst of a sapphire sea. While it is true that almost
everything in Cuba is worth seeing, it is best to acquire, before going,
some idea of the exhibition. That saves time and many steps. The old city
wall, La Fuerza, and La Punta, are mere piles of masonry, more or less dull
and uninteresting unless one knows something of their history. The manners
and customs of any country become increasingly interesting if one knows
something about them, the reason for them.

It is only a short trip to the Castillo del Principe, the fortress that
crowns the hill to the west of the city. From that height, the city and the
harbor are seen below, to the eastward. Across the bay, on the heights at
the entrance, are the frowning walls of Morro Castle surmounted by the
towering light-house, and the no less grim walls of La Cabana. The
bay itself is a sprawling, shapeless body of water with a narrow neck
connecting it with the Florida Straits. Into the western side of the bay
the city thrusts itself in a shape that, on a large map, suggests more than
anything else the head and neck of an over-fed bulldog. Into this bay, in
1508, came Sebastian Ocampo, said to be the first white man to visit the
spot. He entered for the purpose of careening his little vessels in order
to remove the barnacles and accumulated weed-growth. It is possible that
the spot was discovered earlier, but there is no record of the discovery
if such was made. Ocampo gave it the name of Puerto de Carenas. The next
record is of its occupation, in 1519. Four years earlier, Diego Velasquez
had left a little colony near what is now called Batabano, on the south
coast. He gave the place the name of San Cristobal de la Habana, in memory
of the illustrious navigator and discoverer. Habana, or Havana, is a term
of aboriginal origin. It proved to be an uncomfortable place of residence,
and in 1519 the people moved across the island to the Puerto de Carenas,
taking with them the name given to the earlier settlement, and substituting
it for the name given by Ocampo. After a time, all was dropped except the
present title, Habana, or more commonly by English-speaking people, Havana.
It was not much of a place for a number of years, but in 1538 it was sacked
and burned by a French pirate, one of the many, of different nations, who
carried on a very lively buccaneering business in those and in later years
in West Indian waters. Hernando de Soto was then governor of the island,
with headquarters at the then capital city, Santiago de Cuba. He proceeded
at once to the scene of destruction. On his arrival, he ordered the
erection of a fortress. Some of the work then done still remains in the
old structure near the Palace, at the foot of Calle O'Reilly, known as La
Fuerza. A few years before this time, Hernan Cortes had conquered Mexico,
then called New Spain, and a business between Old Spain and New Spain soon
developed. The harbor of Havana made a convenient halting-place on the
voyages between the two, and the settlement assumed a steadily increasing
importance. A new governor, Gonzales Perez de Angulo, who arrived in 1549,
decided to make it his place of residence. The year 1552 is generally given
as the time of the creation of Havana as the capital city. It was at that
time made the residence city of the Governors, by their own choice, but
it was not officially established as the capital until 1589. The fortress
erected by order of de Soto proved somewhat ineffective. In 1554, another
French marauder attacked and destroyed the town. The principal industry of
those early days was cattle-raising, a considerable market being developed
for export to Mexico, and for the supply of vessels that entered the harbor
for food and water.

The continuance of incursions by pirates made necessary some further
provision for the defence of the city. In 1589, La Fuerza was enlarged and
strengthened, and the construction of Morro Castle was begun. To this
work was added La Punta, the little fortress on the western shore of
the entrance, at the point of the angle now formed by the Prado and the
Malecon. These ancient structures, of practically no value whatever in
modern warfare, are now among the most picturesque points of interest in
the neighborhood. Another, in the same class, of which only a little now
remains, is of a later time. This is the old city wall, the construction
of which was begun in 1671. Following the simile of the bull-dog's head,
a tract of land, formerly known as the Arsenal yard, and now the central
railway station, lies tucked away immediately under the animal's jaw. From
there to a point on the north shore, near La Punta, in a slightly curving
line, a high wall was erected for the purpose of defence on the western
or landward side. The old city lay entirely in the area defined by this
western wall and the shore of the harbor. At intervals, gates afforded exit
to the country beyond, heavy gates that could be closed to exclude any
possible attacking party. The fortifications erected from time to time were
supposed to afford a system of effective defence for the city. They are now
little else than picturesque features in the landscape, points of interest
for visitors. Taking the chain in its order, El Morro stands on the point
on the eastern side of the entrance to the harbor. Just beyond it is La
Cabana. About a half a mile to the east of this was the stone fort on the
hill of San Diego. Three miles east of the Morro, on the shore at Cojimar,
is a small and somewhat ancient fortification. This group constituted the
defence system on the east. At the head of the bay, on an elevation a
little to the south of the city, stands El Castillo de Atares, begun in
1763, immediately after the capture and occupation of the city by the
British. This is supposed to protect the city on the south, as Castillo del
Principe is supposed to defend it on the west. This stands on a hill on
the western outskirts, a somewhat extensive structure, begun in 1774 and
completed about twenty years later. A little further to the west, at the
mouth of the Almendares river, stands a little fort, or tower, called
Chorrera, serving as a western outpost as Cojimar serves as an eastern
outpost. Both were erected about the year 1650. On the shore generally
north of Principe was the Santa Clara battery, and between that and La
Punta, at the foot of the Calzada de Belascoain, stood the Queen's battery.
From any modern point of view, the system is little more than military
junk, better fitted for its present use as barracks, asylums, and prisons
than for military defence. But it is all highly picturesque.

In the beginning, most of the buildings of the city were doubtless of wood,
with palm-thatched roofs. In time, these gave place to rows of abutting
stone buildings with tiled roofs. Most of them were of one story, some were
of two stories, and a few "palaces" had three. The city within the wall
is today very much as it was a century and more ago. Its streets run,
generally but not accurately, at right angles, one set almost due east and
west, from the harbor front to the line of the old wall, and the other set
runs southward from the shore of the entrance channel to the shore of the
inner harbor. Several of these streets are practically continuous
from north to south or from east to west. But most of them are rather
passage-ways than streets. The houses come to their very edges, except
for a narrow strip hardly to be classed as a sidewalk, originally left,
presumably, only for the purpose of preventing the scraping of the front of
the building by the wheels of passing carts and carriages. It is a somewhat
inconvenient system nowadays, but one gets quite used to it after a little,
threads the narrow walk a part of his way, takes to the street the rest
of the way, and steps aside to avoid passing vehicles quite as did the
carriageless in the old days. One excellent way to avoid the trouble is to
take a carriage and let the other fellow step aside. Riding in the _coche_
is still one of the cheapest forms of convenience and entertainment in the
city, excepting the afternoon drive around the Prado and the Malecon. That
is not cheap. We used to pay a dollar an hour. My last experience cost me
three times that.

[Illustration: CUSTOM HOUSE, HAVANA _Formerly Franciscan Convent Begun_
1574, _finished_ 1591]

Much of the old city is now devoted to business purposes, wholesale,
retail, and professional. But there are also residences, old churches, and
old public buildings. On the immediate water-front, and for many years used
as the custom house, stands the old Franciscan convent, erected during the
last quarter of the 16th Century. It is a somewhat imposing pile, dominated
by a high tower. I have not visited it for a number of years and do not
know if its interior is available for visitors without some special
introduction, but there is much worth seeing inside its walls, the flying
buttresses of the super-structure, some old and interesting frescoes, and
a system of dome construction that is quite remarkable. To the latter, my
attention was first called by General Ludlow, a distinguished engineer
officer of the United States Army, then acting as governor of the city. To
him belongs, although it is very rarely given, the credit for the cleansing
of Havana during the First Intervention. He frequently visited the old
convent just to see and study that interior dome construction. Immediately
behind the Palace is the old convent of the Dominicans, less imposing but
of about the same period as the Franciscan structure. It is now used as
a high-school building. The Cathedral, a block to the northward of the
Dominican convent building, is of a much later date, having been begun as
recently as 1742. It was originally the convent of the Jesuits, but became
the Cathedral in 1789. Many have believed, on what seems to be acceptable
evidence, that here for more than a hundred years rested the bones of
Christopher Columbus. He died in Valladolid in 1506, and was buried there.
His remains were removed to the Carthusian Monastery, in Seville, in 1513.
From there they are said to have been taken, in 1536, to the city of Santo
Domingo, where they remained until 1796, when they were brought to Havana
and placed in a niche in the walls of the old Cathedral, there to remain
until they were taken back to Spain in 1898. There is still an active
dispute as to whether the bones removed from Santo Domingo to Havana were
or were not those of Columbus. At all events, the urn supposed to contain
them was in this building for a hundred years, below a marble slab showing
a carving of the voyager holding a globe, with a finger pointing to the
Caribbean. Beneath this was a legend that has been thus translated:


In this neighborhood, to the east of the Plaza de Armas, on which the
Palace fronts, is a structure known as _El Templete_. It has the appearance
of the portico of an unfinished building, but it is a finished memorial,
erected in 1828. The tradition is that on this spot there stood, in 1519,
an old ceiba tree under which the newly arrived settlers celebrated their
first mass. The yellow Palace, for many years the official headquarters and
the residence of successive Governors-General, stands opposite, and speaks
for itself. In this building, somewhat devoid of architectural merit, much
of Cuba's history, for the last three-quarters of a century, has been
written. The best time to see all this and much more that is to be seen,
is the early morning, before the wheels begin to go around. The lights and
shadows are then the best, and the streets are quieter and less crowded.
The different points of interest are easily located by the various guide
books obtainable, and the distances are not great. A cup of _cafe con
leche_ should precede the excursion. If one feels lazy, as one is quite
apt to feel in the tropics and the sub-tropics, fairly comfortable open
carriages are at all times available. With them, of course, a greater
area can be covered and more places seen, though perhaps seen less
satisfactorily. There is much to be seen in the early morning that is best
seen in those hours, and much that is not seen later in the day. In all
cities there is an early morning life and Havana is no exception. I confess
to only a limited personal knowledge of it, but I have seen enough of it,
and heard enough about it, to know that the waking-up of cities, including
Havana, is an interesting process. I have, at least, had enough personal
experience to be sure that the early morning air is delicious, the best of
the day. I am not speaking of the unholy hours preceding daybreak, but
of six to eight o'clock, which for those of us who are inclined to long
evenings is also the best time to be in bed. The early morning church bells
are a disturbance to which visitors do not readily adjust their morning
naps. Mr. Samuel Hazard, who visited Cuba about the year 1870, and wrote
quite entertainingly about it, left the following description of his
experience in Havana:

"Hardly has the day begun to break when the newly arrived traveller is
startled from his delightful morning doze by the alarming sound of bells
ringing from every part of the town. Without any particular concert of
action, and with very different sounds, they ring out on the still morning
air, as though for a general conflagration, and the unfortunate traveller
rushes frantically from his bed to inquire if there is any hope of safety
from the flames which he imagines, from the noise made, must threaten the
whole town. Imagine, O reader! in thy native town, every square with its
church, every church with its tower, or maybe two or three of them, and
in each particular tower a half-dozen large bells, no two of which sound
alike; place the bell-ropes in the hands of some frantic man who pulls
away, first with one hand and then the other, and you will get a very faint
idea of your first awakening in Havana. Without apparent rhyme or reason,
ding, dong, ding they go, every bell-ringer at each different church
striving to see how much noise he can make, under the plea of bringing the
faithful to their prayers at the early morning mass."


The only conceivable advantage of these early bells is the fact that they
turn out many a traveller at the hour when Havana is really at its best.
Yet, as I read the descriptive tales left by those who wrote forty, fifty,
and sixty years ago, I am struck by the fact, that, after all, the old
Havana has changed but little. There are trolley lines, electric lights,
and a few other so-called modern improvements, but there is still much of
the old custom, the old atmosphere. The old wall, with its soldier-guarded
gates, is gone, and there are a few modern buildings, but only a few, for
which fact I always feel thankful, but the old city is much what it was
when Mr. Ballou, and Mr. Dana, and Mr. Kimball, and numerous others wrote
about it soon after 1850, and when Mr. Hazard wrote about it in 1870. The
automobile is there now in large numbers, in place of the old volante, and
there are asphalted streets in place of cobble-stones. The band plays in
the evening in the Parque Central or at the Glorieta, instead of in the
Plaza de Armas, but the band plays. The restaurants are still a prominent
feature in Havana life, as they were then. The ladies wear hats instead
of _mantillas_, but they buy hats on Calle Obispo just as and where their
mothers and grandmothers bought _mantillas_. Bull-fighting is gone,
presumably forever, but crowds flock to the baseball grounds. The midday
suspension of business continues, generally, and the afternoon parade, on
foot and in carriages, remains one of the important functions of the day.
There are many who know Havana, and love it, who pray diligently that it
may be many years before the city is Americanized as, for instance, New
Orleans has been.

Most of the life of the city, as it is seen by most visitors, is outside
the old city, and probably few know that any distinction is made, yet the
line is drawn with fair clearness. There is a different appearance in both
streets and buildings. While there are shops on San Rafael and Galiano and
elsewhere, the principal shopping district is in the old city, with Calle
Obispo as its centre. They have tried officially, to change the name of the
street, but the old familiar name sticks and seems likely to stick for a
long time yet. Far be it from a mere man to attempt analysis or description
of such a place. He might tell another mere man where to buy a hat, a pair
of shoes, or eyeglasses, or a necktie, or where to find a lawyer, but the
finer points of shopping, there or elsewhere, are not properly for any
masculine description. The ladies may be trusted to learn for themselves,
and very quickly, all that they need or want to know about that phase of
Havana's commerce. I am leaving much to the guide books that can afford
space for all necessary information about churches, statues, and other
objects of interest for visitors. Havana's retail merchants have their own
way of trading, much as they do in many foreign countries, and in not a few
stores in our own country. Prices are usually a question of the customer's
ability to match the commercial shrewdness of the dealer. Much of the trade
of visitors is now confined to the purchase of such articles as may be
immediately needed and to a few souvenirs. One of the charms of the place
is the cheap transportation. If you are tired, or in a hurry, there is
always a coach near at hand that will take you where you wish to go, for a
peseta, or a quarter, if within certain officially prescribed bounds. If
you desire to go beyond those bounds, make a bargain with your driver or
be prepared for trouble. Down in the old city are to be found several
restaurants that are well worth visiting, for those who want good food. I
shall not advertise the particular places, but they are well known. As the
early morning is the best time to see the old city, the forenoon is the
best time for shopping. Such an expedition may well be followed by the
_almuerzo_, the midday breakfast or lunch, whichever one sees fit to call
it, at one of these restaurants. After that, it is well to enjoy a midday
_siesta_, in preparation for the afternoon function on the Prado and the



The new Havana, the city outside the old wall, is about as old as Chicago
but not nearly as tall. There is no reason why it should be. Here are wide
streets and broad avenues, and real sidewalks, some of them about as wide
as the entire street in the old city. About 1830, the region beyond the
wall was held largely by Spaniards to whom grants of land had been made
for one reason or another. These tracts were plantations, pastures, or
unimproved lands, according to the fancy of the proprietor who usually
lived in the city and enjoyed himself after the manner of his kind. Here
and there, a straggling village of palm-leaf huts sprang up. The roads were
rough tracks. To Governor-General Tacon seems due much of the credit for
the improvement beyond the walls. During his somewhat iron-handed rule
several notable buildings were erected, some of them by his authority.
The most notable feature of the district is the renowned Prado, a broad
boulevard with a park between two drive-ways, running from the water-front,
at the entrance to the harbor, southward for about a mile. A few years ago,
rows of trees shaded the central parkway, but they were almost entirely
wrecked by the hurricanes in 1906 and 1910.

A half mile or so from its northern end, the Prado runs along the west side
of the Parque Central, the most notable of the numerous little squares of
walks and trees and flowers. A block or two further on is a little park
with an excellent statue, known as La India. Opposite that is another
really beautiful park, from the western side of which runs a broad street
that leads to the Paseo de Carlos Tercero, formerly the Paseo de Tacon, one
of the monuments left to his own memory by one of Cuba's most noted Spanish
rulers. The Paseo runs westward to El Castillo del Principe, originally a
fortress but now a penitentiary. The Prado stops just beyond the companion
parks, La India and Colon. These originally formed the Campo de Marte, laid
out by General Tacon and, in his time, used as a military parade ground.
In a way, the Parque Central is the centre of the city. It is almost that,
geographically, and perhaps quite that, socially. In its immediate vicinity
are some of the leading hotels and the principal theatres. One of the
latter, facing the park on its western side, across the Prado, is now known
as the Nacional. Formerly it was the Tacon, a monument to that notable man.
There is quite a story about that structure. It is somewhat too long for
inclusion here, but it seems worth telling. The following is an abridgment
of the tale as it is told in Mr. Ballou's _History of Cuba_, published in
1854. Tacon was the Governor of the island from 1834 to 1838. At that time,
a certain man named Marti was eminent in the smuggling and piracy business,
an industry in which many others were engaged. But Marti seems to have
stood at the top of his profession, a man of skill and daring and evidently
well supplied with brains. Tacon's efforts to capture him, or to break up
his business, were entirely unsuccessful, and a large reward was offered
for his body, alive or dead. Mr. Ballou tells the story in somewhat
dramatic manner:

"It was a dark, cloudy night in Havana, a few months after the announcement
of the reward, when two sentinels were pacing backward and forward before
the main entrance to the Governor's palace. A little before midnight, a man
was watching them from behind a statue in the park, and after observing
that the sentinels paced their brief walk so as to meet each other, and
then turned their backs as they separated, leaving a brief moment in the
interval when the eyes of both were turned away from the entrance, seemed
to calculate upon passing them unobserved. It was an exceedingly delicate
manoeuvre, and required great care and dexterity to effect it; but, at
last, it was adroitly done, and the stranger sprang lightly through the
entrance, secreting himself behind one of the pillars of the inner court.
The sentinels paced on undisturbed. The figure which had thus stealthily
effected an entrance, now sought the broad stairs that led to the
Governor's suite, with a confidence that evinced a perfect knowledge of the
place. A second guard-post was to be passed at the head of the stairs; but,
assuming an air of authority, the stranger offered a cold military salute
and passed forward, as though there was not the most distant question of
his right to do so; and thus avoiding all suspicion in the guard's mind, he
boldly entered the Governor's reception room unchallenged, and closed the
door behind him."

In his office, alone, the stranger found Tacon, who was naturally surprised
at the appearance of an unannounced caller. He demanded to know who the
visitor was, but a direct answer was evaded. After referring to the matter
of the reward offered for the discovery of Marti, and the pledge of
immunity to the discoverer, the caller demanded and obtained a verbal
endorsement of the promise of immunity, under the Governor's word of honor,
whatever might be the circumstances of his revelation. He then announced
himself as the much-sought pirate and smuggler, Marti. Tacon was somewhat
astounded, but he kept his word. Marti was held overnight, but "on the
following day," the Ballou account proceeds, "one of the men-of-war that
lay idly beneath the guns of Morro Castle suddenly became the scene of the
utmost activity, and, before noon, had weighed her anchor, and was standing
out into the gulf stream. Marti the smuggler was on board as her pilot;
and faithfully did he guide the ship on the discharge of his treacherous
business, revealing every haunt of the rovers, exposing their most valuable
depots; and many a smuggling craft was taken and destroyed. The amount of
money and property thus secured was very great." The contemptible job
of betraying his former companions and followers being successfully
accomplished, Marti returned with the ships, and claimed his reward from
Tacon. The General, according to his word of honor, gave Marti a full
and unconditional pardon for all his past offences, and an order on the
treasury for the amount of the reward offered. The latter was declined but,
in lieu of the sum, Marti asked for and obtained a monopoly of the right
to sell fish in Havana. He offered to build, at his own expense, a public
market of stone, that should, after a specified term of years, revert to
the government, "with all right and the title to the fishery." This
struck Tacon as a good business proposition; he saved to his treasury
the important sum of the reward and, after a time, the city would own a
valuable fish-market. He agreed to the plan. Marti thereupon went into
the fish business, made huge profits, and became, so the story goes, the
richest man in the island. After a time, being burdened with wealth, he
looked about for means of increasing his income. So he asked for and
obtained a monopoly of the theatre business in Havana, promising to build
one of the largest and finest theatres in the world. The result of the
enterprise was the present Nacional theatre, for many years regarded as
second only to the Grand theatre in Milan. But it was named the Tacon. Its
special attraction was internal; its exterior was far from imposing. It has
recently been considerably glorified. Having thus halted for the story of
the theatre, we may return to the Prado on which it fronts. Here, Havana
society used to gather every afternoon to drive, walk, and talk. The
afternoon _paseo_ was and still is the great event of the day, the great
social function of the city. At the time of my first visit, in 1899, there
was no Malecon drive along the shore to the westward. That enterprise
was begun during the First Intervention, and continued by succeeding
administrations. In the earlier days, the route for driving was down the
east side of the Prado, between the Parque Central and the _Carcel_, and
up the west side, around and around, up and down, with bows and smiles to
acquaintances met or passed, and, probably, gossip about the strangers.
Many horsemen appeared in the procession, and the central promenade was
thronged with those who walked, either because they preferred to or because
they could not afford to ride around and around. In the Parque Central were
other walkers, chatting groups, and lookers-on. Some days the band played.
Then the Prado was extended to the water-front; the _glorieta_ was erected;
and that became another centre for chatterers and watchers. The building of
the Malecon extended the range of the driveway. This afternoon function is
an old established institution and a good one. It may not compare favorably
with the drive in some of our parks in this country, but it is the best
substitute possible in Havana. Indulgence in ices, cooling drinks,
chocolate, or other refections, during this daily ceremony, is fairly
common but by no means a general practice. The afternoon tea habit has not
yet seized upon Havana. The ices are almost invariably excellent. Some of
them are prepared from native fruit flavors that are quite unknown here.
The _guanabana_ ice is particularly to be recommended. All such matters are
quite individual, but a decoction called _chocolate Espanol_ is also to be
recommended. It is served hot, too thick to drink, and is to be taken with
a spoon, to the accompaniment of cake. It is highly nourishing as well as
palatable. There is a wide variety of "soft drinks," made with oranges,
limes, or other fruits, and the _orchata_, made from almonds, and the
products of American soda fountains, but there is little use of the
high-ball or the cocktail except by Americans.

[Illustration: STREET AND CHURCH OF THE ANGELS _Havana_]

The Cubans are an exceedingly temperate people. Wine is used by all
classes, and _aguadiente_, the native rum, is consumed in considerable
quantity, but the Cuban rarely drinks to excess. I recall an experience
during the earlier years. I was asked to write a series of articles on the
use of intoxicants in the island, for a temperance publication in this
country. My first article so offended the publishers that they declined
to print it, and cancelled the order for the rest of the series. It was
perhaps somewhat improper, but in that article I summed up the situation
by stating that "the temperance question in Cuba is only a question of how
soon we succeed in converting them into a nation of drunkards." Beer is
used, both imported and of local manufacture. Gin, brandy, and anisette,
cordials and liqueurs are all used to some but moderate extent, but
intoxication is quite rare. One fluid extract I particularly recommend,
that is the milk of the cocoanut, the green nut. Much, however, depends
upon the cocoanut. Properly ripened, the "milk" is delicious, cooling and
wholesome, more so perhaps on a country journey than in the city. The nut
not fully ripened gives the milk, or what is locally called the "water," an
unpleasant, woody taste. I have experimented with it in different parts of
the world, in the Philippines, Ceylon, and elsewhere, and have found it
wholesome and refreshing in all places.

The houses in the new Havana are, on the whole, vastly more cheerful
than are the dwellings in the old city. They are of the same general
architectural type, but because of the wider streets, more air and sunshine
gets into them. Some of the best and most costly are along the Prado.
A Cuban house interior generally impresses an American as lacking in
home-like quality. Some of the best are richly adorned, but there is a
certain bareness and an absence of color. As is usual with customs unlike
our own, and which we are therefore prone to regard as inferior to ours,
there are excellent reasons for Cuban interior decoration, or rather the
lack of it. A little experience, or even a little reflection, shows clearly
the impossibility of anything resembling American house decoration in
such a climate as that of Cuba. Our warm colors, hangings, upholstered
furniture, rugs, and much else that we regard as essential in northern
latitudes, would be utterly unendurable in Cuba. There, the marble or tiled
floors, the cool tones of wall and ceiling, and the furniture of wood and
cane, are not only altogether fitting but as well altogether necessary. Our
glass windows would only serve to increase heat and shut out air. As some
barrier is necessary to keep passers, even Americans, from intrusive
entrance by the windows whose bottoms are at floor level, the system of
iron bars or elaborate grille work is adopted. Few Americans see much, if
anything, of Cuban home life except as they see it through these barriers
as they pass. It is not the custom of the country to invite promiscuous or
casual acquaintances to call. It is even less the custom there than it is
with us. A book about Cuba, published a few years ago, gives a somewhat
extended account of what is called "home life," but it is the home life of
workmen and people who do laundry work to eke out a meagre living. It is
not even the life of fairly paid artisans, or of people of modest but
comfortable income. It is no more a proper description of the domestic life
of the island than would be a presentation of the life in the palaces of
the wealthy. Such attempts at description are almost invariably a mistake,
conveying, whether from purpose or from indifference to truth, a false
impression. Domestic economy and household management vary in Cuba as
they vary in the United States, in France, England, Japan, or Mexico. The
selection of an individual home, or of several, as a basis for description,
in Cuba or anywhere else, can only result in a picture badly out of drawing
and quite misleading.

There are Cuban homes, as there are American homes, that are slatternly and
badly managed, and there are Cuban homes that are as spick and span and as
orderly in their administration as any home in this country. Their customs,
as are ours, are the result of environment and tradition. To some of us, a
rectangle of six or eight rocking-chairs, placed in the centre of a room,
in which family and visitors sit and rock while they talk, may seem
curious, but it is a custom that we may not criticize either with fairness
or common decency. The same may be said of the not uncommon custom of using
a part of the street floor of the house as a stable. It is an old custom,
brought from Spain. But I have wandered from description to incident. I
have no intention to attempt a description of Cuban home life, beyond
saying that I have been a guest in costly homes in the city and in the
little palm-leaf "shacks" of peasants, and have invariably found in both,
and in the homes of intermediate classes, only cordial hospitality and
gracious courtesy. Those who have found anything different have carried it
with them in their own attitude toward their hosts. Many of us, probably
most of us, in the United States, make a sort of fetich of the privacy of
what we call our home life. We are encased in walls of wood or masonry,
with blinds, curtains, or shades at our windows. It might be supposed that
we wanted to hide, that there was something of which to be ashamed. It
might at least be so interpreted by one unfamiliar with our ways. It is
only, like the open domestic life in Cuba, a custom, a habit of long
standing. Certainly, much of the domestic life of Cuba is open. The
mistress of the house chides a servant, rebukes or comforts a child, sits
with her embroidery, chaffers with an itinerant merchant or with the
clerk from a store, all in plain sight and hearing of the passer-by. What
everyone does, no one notices. The customs of any country are curious only
to those from other countries where customs are different. Our ways of life
are quite as curious to others as are their ways to us. We are quite
blind to that fact chiefly because of an absurd conviction of the
immense superiority of our ways. We do not stop to consider reasons for
differences. A cup of coffee on an American breakfast table usually
consists of about four parts coffee and one part milk or cream. Most Cubans
usually reverse these percentages. There is a good reason for it. In
our climate, we do not need the large open doors and windows, the high
ceilings, and the full and free ventilation that make life endurable
in tropical and sub-tropical countries. Their system here would be as
impossible as would be our system there. Houses in Cuba like those of an
American city or town would make life a miserable burden. The publicity, or
semi-publicity, of Cuban home life is a necessary result of conditions.
It is, naturally, more in evidence in the city proper, where the houses,
abutting immediately on the street, as do most of our city houses, are
built, as ours are, in solid rows. We avoid a good deal of publicity by
piling our homes on top of each other, and by elevators and stair-climbing.

The location of a residence in Havana gives no special idea of the wealth
or the social standing of those who occupy it. Not a few well-to-do people
still live in the old city, where the streets are narrow and where business
is trying to crowd out everything except itself. The home in that quarter
may be in a block in which a number of buildings are residences, or it
may stand with a warehouse on one side and a workshop on the other. A few
people, of unquestionable social position still live in buildings in which
the street floor is a store or an office. There is nothing curious about
this. In many American cities, old families have clung to old homes, and
not a few new families have, from one reason or another, occupied similar
quarters. Such a residence may not conform to modern social ideas and
standards, but there are Americans in this country, as well as Cubans and
Spaniards in Havana, who can afford to ignore those standards. The same is
true of many who live in the newer city, outside the old walls. There as
here, business encroaches on many streets formerly strictly residential.
This holds in the newer part of the city as well as in the old part. A
number of streets there are, for a part of their length, quite given over
to business. Even the Prado itself is the victim of commercial invasion.
What was once one of the finest residences in the city, the old Aldama
place fronting on the Campo de Marte, is now a cigar factory. A little
beyond it is the Tacon market, occupying an entire block. Stores and shops
surround it. The old avenue leading to the once fashionable Cerro, and
to the only less fashionable Jesus del Monte, is now a business street.
Another business street leads out of the Parque Central, alongside the
former Tacon theatre. The broad Calzada de Galiano, once a fashionable
residence street, is now largely commercial. While less picturesque than
some parts of the old city within the walls, the most attractive part of
Havana is undoubtedly the section of El Vedado, the westward extension
along the shore. Here are broad streets, trees, gardens, and many beautiful
and costly dwellings. This is really the modern Havana. A part of it is
only a little above sea-level, and behind that strip is a hill. A few years
ago, only a small number of houses were on the hillside or the hilltop.
Now, it is well built over with modern houses. The architectural type is
generally retained, and it is rather a pity that there should be even
what variation there is. El Vedado is the region of the wealthy and the
well-to-do, with a large percentage of foreigners. It has its social ways,
very much as other places have, in this country, in France, Hong Kong, or
Honolulu. They are not quite our ways, but they are a result of conditions,
just as ours are.

On the hill, a little back of El Vedado, are two "points of interest" for
visitors; the old fortress, el Castillo del Principe, and the cemetery.
In the latter are some notable monuments. One is known as the Firemen's
Monument. For many years, Havana has had, supplementary to its municipal
organization, a volunteer firemen's corps. In various ways the latter
resembles a number of military organizations in the United States. It is at
once a somewhat exclusive social club and a practical force. Membership
is a social distinction. If you are in Havana and see men in admirably
tailored, uniforms and fire helmets, rushing in a particular direction in
cabs, carriages or automobiles, you may know that they are members of the
_Bomberos del Comercio_ on their way to a conflagration. Most excellent
real work they have done again and again in time of fire and flood. On
parade, they look exceedingly dapper with their helmets, uniforms, boots
and equipment, somewhat too dandified even to suggest any smoke other than
that of cigars or cigarettes. But they are the "real thing in smoke-eaters"
when they get to work. They have a long list of heroic deeds on their
records. The monument in Colon Cemetery commemorates one of those deeds.
In an extensive and dangerous fire, in May, 1890, thirty of these men
lost their lives. A few years later, this beautiful and costly shaft was
erected, by private subscription, as a tribute to their valor and devotion.
Another shaft, perhaps no less notable, commemorates a deplorable and
unpardonable event. A number of medical students, mere boys, in the
University of Havana, were charged with defacing the tomb of a Spanish
officer who had been killed by a Cuban in a political quarrel. At
its worst, it was a boyish prank, demanding rebuke or even some mild
punishment. Later evidence indicates that while there was a demonstration
there was no defacement of the vault. Forty-two students were arrested as
participants, tried by court-martial, and sentenced to be shot. Eight of
them were shot at La Punta, at the foot of the Prado near the sea-front,
and the remainder sentenced to imprisonment for life. All of these, I
believe, were afterward released. The Students' Monument expresses the
feeling of the Cubans in the matter, a noble memorial. There are numerous
other shafts and memorials that are notable and interesting. A number of
Cuba's leaders, Maximo Gomez, Calixto Garcia, and others, are buried in
this cemetery.


Further on, to the southeast, are other sections of the new Havana, the
districts of Cerro and Jesus del Monte. El Vedado has largely supplanted
these neighborhoods as the "court end" of the city. Many of the fine old
residences of forty or fifty years ago still remain, but most of them are
now closely surrounded by the more modest homes of a less aristocratic
group. A few gardens remain to suggest what they were in the earlier days.
Still further out, in the west-and-south quarter-circle, are little towns,
villages, and hamlets, typically Cuban, with here and there the more
imposing estate of planter or proprietor. But, far the greater number of
visitors, perhaps with greater reason, find more of charm and interest
in the city itself than in the suburbs or the surrounding country. The
enjoyment of unfamiliar places is altogether personal. There are many who
really see nothing; they come away from a brief visit with only a confusion
of vague recollections of sights and sounds, of brief inspection of
buildings about which they knew nothing, of the big, yellow Palace, of this
church and that, of the Morro and the harbor, of sunny days, and of late
afternoons along the Prado and the Malecon. To me, Havana is losing its
greatest charm through an excess of Americanization, slowly but steadily
taking from the place much of the individuality that made it most
attractive. It will be a long time before that is entirely lost, but
five-story office buildings, automobiles in the afternoon parade, steaks
or ham and eggs at an eight or nine o'clock breakfast, and all kinds of
indescribable hats in place of dainty and graceful _mantillas_, seem to
me a detraction, like bay-windows and porticos added to an old colonial



A hundred years ago, the Cubans travelled from place to place about the
island, just as our ancestors did in this country, by water and over rough
trails few of which could, with any approach to correctness, be described
as roads. It was not until about a hundred years ago that we, in this
country, began to build anything even remotely resembling a modern highway.
Our towns and cities were on the seaboard or on the banks of rivers
navigable for vessels of size sufficient for their purposes. Commodities
carried to or brought from places not so located were dragged in stoutly
built wagons over routes the best of which was worse than the worst to be
found anywhere today. Because real road-making in Cuba is quite a modern
institution, an enterprise to which, in their phrase, the Spanish
Government did not "dedicate" itself, the Cuban wagons and carts of today
are chiefly those of the older time. They are heavy, cumbrous affairs with
large wheels, a diameter necessitated by the deep ruts through which a
passage was made. A smaller wheel would soon have been "hub-deep" and
hopelessly stuck. So, too, with the carriages of the nabobs. The poorer
people, when they travelled at all, went on foot or on horseback, as our
ancestors did. The nabobs had their _volantes_, still occasionally, but
with increasing rarity, seen in some parts of the island. Forty years ago,
such vehicles, only a little changed from the original type, were common
enough in Havana itself. About that time, or a few years earlier, the
four-wheeler began to supplant them for city use.

There is a technical difference between the original type of _volante_ and
its successor which, though still called a _volante_ was properly called a
_quitrin_. The only real difference was that the top of the _quitrin_ was
collapsible, and could be lowered when desirable, while the top of
the _volante_ was not. I have ridden in these affairs, I cannot say
comfortably, over roads that would have been quite impossible for any other
wheeled vehicle. At the back, and somewhat behind the body were two wheels,
six feet in diameter. From, the axle, two shafts projected for a distance,
if memory serves me, of some twelve or fifteen feet. A little forward of
the axle, the body, not unlike the old-fashioned American chaise, was
suspended on stout leather straps serving as springs. Away off in front, at
the end of the shafts, was a horse on which the driver rode in a heavy and
clumsy saddle. For long-distance travel, or for particularly rough roads,
a second horse was added, alongside the shaft horse, and sometimes a third
animal. The motion was pleasant enough over the occasional smooth places,
but the usual motion was much like that of a cork in a whirlpool, or of a
small boat in a choppy sea. Little attention was paid to rocks or ruts; it
was almost impossible to capsize the thing. One wheel might be two feet or
more higher than the other, whereupon the rider on the upper side would be
piled on top of the rider or riders on the lower side, but there was always
a fair distribution of this favor. The rocks and ruts were not always on
the same side of the road. The safety from overturn was in the long shafts
which allowed free play. In the older days, say sixty or seventy years
ago, the _volante_ or the _quitrin_ was an outward and visible sign of a
well-lined pocket-book. It indicated the possessor as a man of wealth,
probably a rich planter who needed such a vehicle to carry him and his
family from their mansion in the city to their perhaps quite as costly home
on the plantation. The _calisero_, or driver, was dressed in a costume
truly gorgeous, the horses were of the best, and the vehicle itself

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