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establish on their lands, at least fifty white families, each composed of at least one married pair, and owning in fee lots of a cavalrie (thirtythree acres) of land, possessing huts and animals, and having part of the premises under cultivation.
2ND. A premium of $6,000 to the three first sugar-estate owners who in the years 1845, 1846 and 1847, shall present twenty-five white families, composing at least one married pair, who are to be established on a sugar estate, each family owning half a cavalrie, and having a standing contract to sell to the owner of the estate the cane which will be planted on half of the colonists' land.
3RD. A premium of $20,000, payable in yearly instalments of $2,000, to the first individual who in the years 1845, 1846 and 1847, shall establish a sugar estate where the cultivation of the cane shall be carried on by thirty white families, composed of at least one married pair, each of which shall possess in fee at least one cavalrie; and where the manufacture of sugar shall be carried on in trains by the vacuum method, and where all the labor of every kind shall be performed by white hands, no colored person to be admitted, even for domestic services. And lastly, where the whole production shall amount to 45,000 arrobes* of sugar. Whenever the aspirant to this premium fails in any one of the conditions required, he forfeits the instalments not already paid.
4th. A premium of $6,000 to any person who shall present in the year 1846 a complete train to manufacture the cane-juice into sugar by the vacuum method, every piece of which shall have been constructed on the island.
5TH. A premium of $6,000 to any person who shall in the year 1846, present a complete apparatus to purge by the vacuum method, which shall be constructed on the island, under the inspection of a committee of the board, and which shall in twenty-four hours after the syrup shall be drawn from the kettles, give a result not below one-half white and the other half brown, in a whole crop of 45,000 arrobes.
The remaining premiums are intended to encourage the use of the American plough, the cultivation of the trifolium, the cedar, pine and other trees, the bean used in the Louisiana plantations, the raising of horses, cows and hens of foreign breed, and the renewal of the cane of Otaheite.
It is obvious to all who have given some attention to the general prin. ciples of government, that nothing is more difficult, and more fraught with danger to the sources of wealth, than legislative interference with the course of industry. Where the laws made with such a view have a practical application, it is generally found that the more precise plan marked out by legal or fiscal enactments is the rnost prejudicial to the interests of the country at large. The celebrated Spanish jurisconsult JOVELLANOS, in his agrarian law, has shown the truth of this proposition more strikingly than any writer with whom I am acquainted. But where, as in the present instance, the resolves of the body will have only an indirect and partial influence, though they may not bring about greater evils than now exist in the island, they may lull the fears which
* An arrobe is twenty-five pounds.
have given rise to the present programme, by propagating the belief that all has been done which is at this time possible. No government or society should undertake to direct industry by the sole stimulus of a premium. If unsupported by other auxiliaries, and the undertaking be not profitable of itself, the intended encouragement will produce few and isolated attempts, without bearing upon the general good, or perhaps die away and disappear, as soon as the momentary impulse has passed. The same body now offering the premiums have in more than one instance examined the general causes which prevent the increase of white population, and their views are correct, although not so freely expressed as they would be if not given under the restraint to which all bodies as well as individuals are subjected here. Heavy taxation of the necessa. ries of living, the exclusive military and exceptional systems, unknown in the islands’ more propitious days, the corrupt, expensive, and disorderly administration of justice, and the difficult acquisition of land, have thus far had as much influence upon the increase of the white population, as the terror lately inspired by the insurrection itself, and the ill-judged persecution which succeeded it, will exert hereafter. I am aware, however, that even giving the individuals called to the junta credit for the most enlightened and independent views, it would not be in their power to express their opinions freely, much less to obtain the passage of resolutions not previously and specially approved of by the Captain-General himself. My only regret is, that in using the slight means they may accidentally have of influencing the measures of government they may neglect altogether more important changes required in the economical and moral condition of the country; giving their attention exclusively to the premiums, which by themselves are utterly useless. Does the government really mean to favor the introduction of white emigrants ? Will the indefinite responsibilities and expenses of landing a foreigner be done away with? Will any of the liberal views which Spain tried successfully to put in operation thirty years ago, in favor of white emigration, find favor with the present administration of Cuba? Above all, will the slave-trade cease ?
With these few preliminary remarks, I will proceed to examine briefly the general character of the premiums offered.
To the first I make but a single objection ; namely, that it is obtainable only by the owners of Haciendas, who may think twelve thousand dollars an inadequate compensation for the distribution of such large tracts of land, and the additional trouble of procuring the required number of families; and whose lands, being far removed from the centre of cultivation, would not have an influence so beneficial as if in or near that part of the country which is in a high state of improvement.
As to the second, considering the low price of colored labor, the general prejudice against a change to free labor to be contended with, and the diffiulties of introducing the whites, arising from the several causes before enumerated, I disapprove of it, as altogether inadequate to the great object in view, both as regards the number and amount of the premiums.
As to the third, I was at first almost inclined to believe the express object of its conditions was to make it utterly unobtainable by any one. At any
rate, very few will strive for it, and it will consequently be equally use. less for general purposes. In the first place, the sum of $20,000, though large in the aggregate, is payable in ten years, in equal annual instal. ments; a condition which materially reduces its value.
You are required for this to carry on the cultivation of the cane by thirty white families. This is of itself a great undertaking. Should you however accomplish the most difficult part of the undertaking, and happen not to have thirty married couples, you forfeit the sum. These families must each own a precise quantity of land, and if they transfer it among themselves, may keep you in constant anxiety about their private doings. You must of course sell the land on credit, and either subject the pur. chasers to a continued contract for planting and selling your cane, which will necessarily impair their personal rights, or run the risk of having no cane to grind. As if these obstacles were not sufficiently great, it is farther required that the very expensive vacuum method, which of itself will cost some $35,000, shall also be employed; that forty-five thousand arrobes of sugar be manufactured, and no colored person to be employed for even domestic purposes. It is moreover added, that if any of these terms be not complied with, the instalment shall be discontinued, without adverting to the cause of the failure.
The fourth and fifth premiums are equally absurd and useless. The trains of Derosne and Cail, in whatever manner modified, and however reduced in price, are very expensive. Still more so, and to an almost insurmountable degree, are the manufacturing establishments required to construct them. To erect such buildings and make such delicate machinery in a country like this, where mechanical skill is so dear, demands a very large capital, and a very extensive market for the disposal of the manufacture. Such establishments are not frequently to be found even in Europe or the United States. But upon the plainest principles of political economy, is it right to force the industry of the country from its more natural direction ? Is it not absurd to think of making a manufacturing courtry of Cuba ? Were it possible success. fully to effect such a result, it must be accomplished by effectually destroying the mutual exchange of Northern manufactures and the agricultural productions of this island. Would not a due regard to the wants of Cuba suggest some plan like the following as the most judi. cious course: to reward abundantly the first thirty planters who shall present from their several estates forty-five thousand arrobes of sugar, the produce of one year, cultivated and manufactured by white hands exclusively, without requiring further details. For instance, were each planter entitled to the reward to receive $30,000 in yearly instal. ments of 3 to $5,000, it would not drain the abundant resources of the board, and the distribution of the premiums would undoubtedly fix the date of the country's salvation from its present dubious and dangerous situation. Nothing, withal, can be more singular than the total neglect of the favorable occasion for encouraging the establishment of a white population which the cultivation of tobacco presents. It requires no exceptionable, hard, or night labor. With negro labor it is a profitable business, very extensive, and still extending, and should by all means be carried on by white hands. The junta seem to fear the in
crease of the white population by any means, and to approve of those only which are attended with obstacles.
In former and recent resolutions of the board, projects for increasing the white population have been proposed, of a character that makes one doubt whether they did really mean to encourage it or not. It was at first thought necessary that the common laborer, imported and contracted for, should come from Spain, and not be solely paid by a salary, but in whatever establishment he might be employed, should receive a share (not defined in its amount,) of the profits of the concern. It was subsequently decided, that the junta should pay the passage of such as should be imported, in conformity with a contract wherein country or city laborers were to be brought, of a given age and size, healthy, robust, of good morals, and with no literary or forensic inclinations. These men the board engaged to feed, furnishing each daily with sixteen ounces of bread; eight of fresh meat without bones; eight of Spanish beans on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays; eight of rice on Wednesdays and Thursdays; eight of small beans on Fridays and Saturdays; four pounds of lard, four pounds of coffee, and four pounds of sugar, two of salt, for every one hundred portions ; seven arrobes of wood, and a sufficient quantity of garlic and red pepper to season the food. Now as these contracts were to be fulfilled ultimately by the planters or manufacturers, who were to take them voluntarily off the hands of the board, it is easy to see that such an abundant table, so particularly described, would effectually prevent the adoption of this plan, and con. sequently the extension of its useful influence throughout the island. The craving wish to legislate, and to crowd enactments with minute and comparatively unimportant particulars ; the lack of liberal views, and the ambition to control the social and moral world ; are the legitimate weaknesses of government agents, in a country subject to a strong military rule.
Though endeavoring not to meddle with grave topics, I have been occasionally carried by the nature of my subjects upon the very grounds I wished to avoid. Do not conclude, however, from my remarks, that I consider the condition of the island entirely hopeless. I believe, as I have before observed, that the Spanish government will soon perceive the necessity of more judicious measures, and the impolicy of a despotic system, which, however honest may be its chief, can in no circumstances, in our day, produce other than baneful results.
AMONG the prisoners at Dartmoor were several Irishmen, who had been in the United States' service as soldiers. They were captured in Canada, sent to Halifax, and from thence to England, to await their trial for being taken in arms against Great Britain. They were confined with the other prisoners at the Dépôt, and had the same fare, but were given to understand that a court-martial would soon be convened, that no favor would be shown them, and that they had better prepare for the worst. This was repeated to them every few weeks, and word was frequently sent in that they must expect to be summoned the next morning by day-break. For several months this was continued, I presume for no other purpose than to harass and perplex them; for they were eventually suffered to return with the other prisoners, without being brought to trial. They were a jovial set; and notwithstanding the continued annoyance they underwent, they were true to their national character; full of joke and mirth, song and story; varied by an occasional black eye or broken nose.
In such a multitude it may easily be supposed that there was a great diversity of feeling and disposition. There were the moody and the mirthful, the silent and the boisterous, the knave and his unsuspecting