Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

in London and Paris is more interesting and intelligible to an American when reported by an American, than by the man of any other country. America practically goes to Europe with every American. We do not mean, of course, with every man whose birth chanced to fall in America, and to whom Europe is Paris, and Paris a Jardin Mabille, or a Magasin des Modes, but with every man who sees through “ American spectacles," as a late anonymous author expresses it. We all understand his impressions and estimates, because they are made by a standard common to ourselves. And if we add to this, the essential freshness of feeling and true poetic sense of the American, we find some reason for the opinion that not only does an American know how to travel, but he knows how to tell his travels well. Hence, in a popular Magazine, which is a running commentary upon the countless phenomena of the times as they rise—not, as in a newspaper, in the form of direct criticism, but in the more permanently interesting shapes of story, essay, poem and sketch—this local reality is a point of the utmost importance. If there are as sharp-eyed and cunning-handed men in New-York or Cincinnati, or New Orleans, for instance, who can walk into the markets, and search all the mysteries of characteristic life in those cities, and then with emphasis and skill, make all of us see as they saw, why is it not as interesting as the same thing done in London ?

This is true in other spheres—of thought, as well as life. We trust to show not only the various aspects of life, but to hint at their significance. In what paper or periodical do you now look to find the criticism of American thought upon the times ? We hope to answer that question, too, by heaping upon our pages the results of the acutest observations, and the most trenchant thought, illustrated by whatever wealth of erudition, of imagination and of experience, they may chance to possess.

A Magazine, like a poet, we know must be born and not made. That is, it must be founded upon fact. No theory of what a good Magazine should be, will make a Magazine good, if it be not genuine in itself and genuinely related to the time. And it has been already announced in our prospectus, that we have no desire to try an experiment.

Are we then so sure ? Has not the long and dreary history of Magazines opened our eyes ? Is there some siren seduction in theatres and periodicals that for ever woos managers and publishers to a certain destruction ? Why do we propose another twelve-month voyage in pea-green covers, toward obscurity and the chaos of failures ?

These are fair and friendly questions, while we stand chatting at the portal. With the obstinacy of Columbus,-if you please—we incredulously hear you, and still believe in the West. No alchemist, after long centuries of labor, ever discovered the philosopher's stone, nor found that any thing but genius and thrift would turn plaster and paper into gold. But, if even he had withstood his consuming desire, he would have perished at first of despair, as he did, at last, of disappointment.

So our Magazine is a foregone conclusion. Columbus believed in his Cathay of the West-and discovered it.

We pray the reader to enter, and pardon this delay at the door. Within he will find poets, wits, philosophers, critics, artists, travellers, men of erudition and science, all strictly masked, as becomes worshippers of that invisible Truth which all our efforts and aims will seek to serve. And as he turns from us to accost those masks we remind the reader of the young worshipper of Isis. For in her temple at Säis, upon the Nile, stood her image, for over veiled. And when an ardent neophyte passionate ly besought that he might see her, and would take no refusal, his prayer was granted. The veil was lífted, and the exceeding splendor of that beauty dazzled him to death. Let it content you, ardent reader, to know that behind these masks are those whom you much delight to honor those whose names, like the fame of Isis, have gone into other lands.

Finally, our Magazine shall say for itself what was said in the person of a young enthusiast born into the world and determined to reform it: “Now, though I am very peaceable, and on my private account could well enough die, since it appears

there was some mistake in my creation, and that I have been missent to this earth, where all the seats were already taken,-yet I feel called upon in behalf of rational nature, which I represent, to declare to you my opinion, that, if the earth is yours, so also is it mine. My genius leads me to build a different manner of life from any of yours.”

This, says Putnam's Monthly, to its contemporaries who have already taken front seats in this prosperous world.

CUBA.

We are

us.

FR
FREEDOM of discussion on every sub-

ject, whether foreign or domestic, is a right claimed by the citizens of this republic. And it is exercised. at peace with France : she was our ally in our struggle for independence. We hare with her existing reciprocating treaties. But this does not prevent the freest and most forcible expressions of opinion on the subject of her late revolutions. Some of our most respectable journals can scarcely find language sufficiently strong to express their disgust of the apathy of the French nation, and their indignation against Louis Napoleon, who is denounced as a perjured traitor, murderer, and assassin. To be sure, this is a business with which the French have rather more to do than we, but we claim the right to express our opinions for all that. Indeed, notwithstanding our national policy not to mix or embroil ourselves with the affairs of the Old World, we do daily discuss them with the greatest freedom. And this is right. The field of man's action and contemplation is the World. We cannot, if we would, remain indifferent to what is passing in any of the civilized states. Öne great effect of freedom is to fill the heart with an earnest desire that every living being should participate in its privileges. It is this which makes us feel a lively sympathy for the oppressed everywhere. But oppressions are various. There are different aspects of the picture. One individual cannot be expected to regard them all. Some among us are engrossed with attempts to benefit the heathen in distant lands; others feel a profound interest in the enslaved negro, at home; oth

ers think only of the oppressed Hungarians, while others, still, are pitying the unconscious French, or lamenting over the condition of the injured Irish, or the wretched operatives of Great Britain. The serf of Russia, the poor Indian of America, the unfortunate Pole, have also friends and honest “sympathizers” among

We do more than sympathize. We express our sympathy freely, boldly, without the slightest regard to those whom we consider tyrants and despots.

In the case of Hungary, the appeals of a down-trodden nation found an ample response in the hearts of Americans, and the great Magyar was received by us with the most enthusiastic appreciation. Throughout the length and breadth of the land there was one grand ovation to Kossuth, with express reference to the position he had assumed toward Austria. More than that, our Government received him on our shores with discharges of ordnance, and gave him an official welcome to the Capitol. The reanimated leader announced that he was ready to receive lawful contributions in money and arms, and both were freely contributed. Yet Austria and the United States were at peace, and treaties and diplomatic relations existed between them. A short time before, when Ireland seemed about to arouse from her state of degradation and oppression, subscriptions were most generously raised here to aid her chiefs in their efforts, and highly respectable parties—from among our own citizens-acted as a committee to take charge of the fund thus created. Yet Great Britain and the United States were at peace; the most friendly relations subsisted between them;

and no one dreamed of their being dis and gentle race—the island was only turbed by these manifestations of indi held by Spain as a convenient military vidual sympathy or outbursts of individ and naval station on the way to the mines ual opinion. Farther back, how strongly of Mexico. Nothwithstanding this, we did we manifest our sympathy for the notice in the laws and municipal rights of Greeks, in their struggle for liberty; Cuba the same independent and liberal how generously was our individual aid ex spirit which prevailed in all the settlements tended to them; and who does not remem of that nation, among the Moors or elseber the stirring eloquence of Henry Clay where, so far as the Spanish settlers or in their behalf, when, in his zeal for the their descendants were concerned. Even generous cause, he forgot for the time even in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the constitutional objection against grant public assemblies of citizens were held to ing to Greece national aid.

elect the members of the corporations ; Such instances are not confined to our free and bold charges were made and own experience. England enjoys constitu sustained against governors; and no taxational freedom, and she exercises to the tion was permitted which was not suslargest extent the rights of free discussion. tained by these bodies. She too has something to say about Louis In 1812 the constitution was proclaimed Napoleon. She too made a hero of Kossuth, in Spain; the whole people of the colo and not content with that, some of her stur nies were assimilated to the inhabitants dy brewers taking the affair into their own of the mother country with respect to hands, took certainly undue liberties with representation ; and Cuba sent her repthe person of Haynau. Doubtless they resentatives to the Spanish Chamber of did wrong; they broke the laws of the Deputies. In 1818 Señor Arango, the realm; they committed a breach of the deputy from Havana, obtained a royal orpeace; but there was a sound and whole dinance for the abolition of restrictions some indignation at the bottom, which, if it on Cuban commerce. From this period does not excuse, goes far to palliate the out we may date the prosperity of the island. rage. Further than this, Great Britain Before she had been a burthen to the has expressed her sympathy loudly and home treasury. Now she began to reenergetical on the side of the African; mit large sums annually to the governshe compelled Spain to enter into a treaty ment; an army of 25,000 men, sent by which the slave-trade should be sup from Spain in a miserable plight, was pressed; and she now endeavors to en maintained by her, and in a few years force that treaty by her armed vessels of was entirely equipped, clothed and disci

plined in the best manner, without exSo for nearly all the oppressed on the pense to the mother country. Indeed, earth, there are ready sympathizers, here since 1830, in every embarrassment of and elsewhere : for the Frenchman, the her government, Spain has been supHungarian, the Pole, the Sclavic serf, the plied with means from the treasury of English operative, the Irishman, the Afri Cuba, and it has been a reserved fund can, the Indian ; and, now that Russia is foi her every pressing emergency. When casting her malign shadow eastward, for the civil list failed Queen Christina, Cuba the Turk also.

furnished resources for defraying the proBut there is almost within sight of our fuse expenditure of the palace. The conown shores a province of one of the tributions wrung from the island formed monarchies of the old world whose inha no small portion of the riches bequeathed bitants are suffering under greater and by Ferdinand Seventh to his rapacious more oppressive burthens, and are gov widow and to his reputed daughters. erned by a sway more absolute and tyran From Cuba also were derived the means nical, than has ever been exercised against of setting on foot the luckless expedition Sclave, Magyar, Pole or Indian. It is of Barrados for the reconquest of Mexico ; the Island of Cuba. We propose to and from 1832 to 1841 it had exchanged present its history briefly, so as to show thirty-six millions of dollars against an its actual condition, before taking up the equal amount of government paper. At subject of our relations with Spain, or length, so much importance was attached canvassing the various collateral questions to the revenues of this island, that they which are now daily presented.

served as ample guarantees for loans, forPrevious to the eighteenth century, the eign and domestic. The wealth, the beauhistory of Cuba is principally occupied ty, the fertility of Cuba proved her ruin. with accounts of the settlements com By degrees, she came to be regarded only menced by the first governor, Diego as a machine for raising money; and to Velasquez. Its advance was extremely carry out the purposes of the home adslow, and, having exhausted the native ministration to the fullest, extent, it was Indian population—who were a docile necessary to destroy the privileges and

war.

the liberties which the Cubans had heretofore enjoyed.

Although the standard of Independence was raised across the Gulf of Mexico, and Cuba was invited to join in its defence, and although Mexico and Colombia prepared an expedition which should give liberty to the island, the inhabitants shut their eyes to the alluring prospects, and maintained an unwavering loyalty. They were repaid for their fidelity as tyrants are apt to reward such conduct. On the plea that disturbances in South America might require the exercise of arbitrary power by the governor of Cuba, in 1825, a royal order was issued, and it is still in full force, addressed to the Captain General, which after the usual preamble, proceeds as follows: “The king, our master, in order to keep in quietude his faithful inhabitants, confine within the proper limits such as would deviate from the path of honor, and punish such as, forgetting their duties, would dare commit excesses in opposition to our wise laws; and being desirous of preventing the embarrassments which, under extraordinary circumstances, might arise from a division in the command, and from the complicated authority and powers of the different officers of government, for the important end of maintaining in that island his sovereign authority and the public quiet: it has pleased his majesty, in cor..ormity with the advice of his council of ministers, to authorize your excellency, fully investing you with the whole extent of powers WHICH BY THE ROYAL ORDINANCES GRANTED TO THE GOVERNORS OF BESIEGED TOWNs. In consequence thereof, his majesty most amply and unrestrictedly authorizes your excellency not only to remove from that Island such persons, holding offices from Government or not, whatever their occupation, rank, class, or situation in life may be, whose residence there you may believe prejudicial, or whose public or prirate conduct may appear suspicious to you, but also to suspend the execution of whatever royal orders or general decrees in all the different branches of the administration, or in any part of them, as your excellency may think conducive to the royal service."

The sad effects of this royal order were not immediately felt. The island was at that time governed by General Vives, whose policy, during the whole of a long administration, was mild and conciliating; and he was so far from putting into execution the terrible authority with which he was endowed, as to act on his wise conviction, that it would be equally disadvantageous to Cuba and to Spain. This was,

however, merely the good fortune of the inhabitants; the fearful decree stood, in all its terrors, only waiting the presence of a despot to carry it out in its fullest force. Such an one was found in the person of Don Miguel Tacon, who, two years after the retirement of Vives, was appointed Captain General. This was in 1834. It should meanwhile be borne in mind, that during the several crises in Spain, from 1808 to 1837, -and they were seven in number,—we find the “always faithful island of Cuba” receiving and promptly obeying the decrees of the crown. Throughout all the disturbances, in every revolution or change of ministry, Cuba remained the same, always loyal, obedient, uncomplaining.

From the accession of Tacon may be dated a series of injuries, cruelties and oppressions, against the unfortunate island, unparalleled

in the history of civilized communities. This man's administration has been frequently lauded by strangers, who regarded him in the light of a reformer of the social disorders which prevailed, at that time, to a frightful extent. Indeed, his coming was hailed with joy by the mass of proprietors, while every well-disposed person beheld with gratification his energies directed to prevent and punish robbery and assassination; to the destruction of dogs in the streets; the cleansing and macadamizing of the principal thoroughfares; the erection of markets, a prison, a theatre, &c., &c. But if Tacon exercised a strong and arbitrary will in carry, ing out these projects, he soon displayed the same qualities in oppressing persons of every class. The fact is, he was a tyrant. He possessed a jealous nature, was short-sighted and narrow-minded, and had an uncommon stubbornness of character. Never satiated with power, he found in the royal order of 1825 ample authority for every species of despotisin. He knew that all they required of him at home was to extort as much money as possible from the inhabitants of the island: for the rest, no questions would be asked. It was through his influence that the wealthy portion of the community was divested of the privileges conferred

hem by the estatuto. He even deprived the old municipalities of Havana of the power of naming the under-commissaries of police. To sustain his absolute government by trampling on every institution, was a necessary consequncee of his first violent and unjustifiable act. In order to obtain credit in the management of the police, he displayed a despotic and even brutal activity in the mode of exacting, from the inferior officers, distributed in the several wards of the city,

ARE

on

[ocr errors]

under personal responsibility, the appre in February, 1837, and the act, it should hension and summary prosecution of cri be borne in mind, was in direct violation minals. They soon found that there of the new constitution, which had just would be no complaint, provided they been adopted, the 28th article of which acted vigorously in bringing up prison stated that the basis was the same for na

So far from presuming their inno tional representation in both hemispheres, cence, or requiring proof of their crimes, while by the 29th article, the basis in those who were once arrested were put Cuba was the population of the island, to the negative and difficult task of pro composed of persons who, in both lines, ving their innocence. The more unwar were of Spanish origin. The rejection of rantable the acts of his subalterns, the the Cuban deputies at Madrid completed more acceptable to him, since they, in his this rapid enslavement. The Cubans opinion, but displayed the energy of his au were henceforth cut off from even the thority. They trembled in his presence, possibility of relief. From the same peand left it to persecute, to invent accusa riod also may be dated a new series of tions, to imprison, and to spread terror wrongs, injuries and oppressions against and desolation among the families of the her unfortunate inhabitants. The Spanish island. It is but just to add, that banditti Cortes, jealous of the extensive trade of and thieves and professed gamblers were

Cuba with the United States, had already terrified by his sweeping scythe, and be imposed a duty of nearly ten dollars a barcame much more modest than they had rel on flour imported from them into Cuba. been during the brief administration of This was now raised to about ten dollars the weak and infirm General Ricafort, his and three-quarters, thus placing the enorpredecessor. The timid and short-sight mous tax of 150 per cent. on the first ed merchant or planter who perceived this necessary of life. When it is considered reform, did not comprehend or appreciate that all articles of primary necessity come the illegality of the system, nor its per from abroad, and that they are all enornicious effects on the future destinies of mously taxed, this one item of her tariff the country, and was the first to justify will be readily appreciated, both in itself the man who interposed himself between and in its relations. At the same time the the subject and the crown, not permitting tonnage dues of Cuban vessels were placed any petitions contrary to his pleasure. nearly on the same footing with those of

The consequence of all this was, a reg foreign vessels. This was of course ruinular system of espionage. The prisoners ous to her merchant marine, and was eswere distributed in the castles, because pecially aggravating, since the island ofthe jails were insufficient to contain them. fered vast advantages in her fine forests In the dungeons were lodged nearly six for shipping, and up to 1798 had furnished hundred persons, the causes of whose de timber for the construction, in the Arsenal tention nobody knew-a fact authentically at Havana, of one hundred and twentyproved by a casual circumstance. In five vessels-fifty-three of which were about eighteen months of his administra- frigates, and six three-deckers. This line tion Tacon caused one hundred and ninety of policy once adopted, it was carried out persons to be deported. Besides these, with relentless vigor. The home governBeven hundred and twenty were sent ment now considered, not how large a away under sentence of banishment for

revenue the island yielded, but how it was life, while in the Gallera, vast multitudes possible to get more from it. Ingenuity of prisoners, of all grades, the innocent was racked to devise new objects and and the guilty, were huddled together in measures of taxation. The list of the difone long narrow hall. The misery of this ferent Cuban taxes is a curiosity of itself. awful place cannot be exaggerated. Señor The prime ministers of other monarchies Tanco styles it “un infierno de immorali might learn a lesson from it, were it not ad.” Tacon's only object in building it that there is no government which would

as to rid the government house of the dare avail itself of such an enormous sysfumes of pestilence which were engen tem of oppression. dered in the dungeons of that palace in The pursuit of robbery and plunderwhich he lived. Not content with these it can be called by no milder name—has acts of horrible cruelty, he destroyed been reduced to a complete system. at a single blow all freedom of discussion Each official reserves to himself a large in the municipal body, usurped its powers, sum from the amount wrung from the and frightened away such members as he inhabitants, so that while the revenue thought would not bow to his will. Du of the island, from the various sources of ring the government of Tacon the act of taxation, must be at least twenty-fire exclusion was passed at Madrid, which millions of dollars (it is ordinarily incorshut out the unfortunate island from all rectly stated at about twelve millions), representation in the Cortes.

This was

only about three millions find their way to

« PoprzedniaDalej »