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their food, or two mas, without it. in general, one-third of the soldiers
But in order to form correct no- possession even of the government.
DESCRIPTION of the City of HAVANA. [From Howison's Foreign Scenes and Travelling Recreations.] The city of Havana lies near lord Albemarle, after a siege of the western extremity of Cuba ; twenty-nine days; but several its fine harbour, extensive trade, new batteries have been erected prodigious wealth, and great popu- since that time, and it now seems lation, render it the most important doubtful whether an enemy could and interesting town in the West get possession of it, except by Indies, and the key of the rich and treachery. noble island upon which it is si- The entrance to the harbour is tuated. Havana is fortified in defended by two forts, and is so such a manner as to be impregna- narrow, that not more than one ble, except at its back part, which, vessel can safely pass at a time. however, is accessible only by a The fort on the east side is named circuitous route through the woods. the Morro, and that on the west In 1762 the city was taken by the Punta, and both mount a large Vol. LXVII.
number of heavy guns, and com- remind the stranger that he is in pletely command the adjacent seas: a foreign land. But the vessel in On the top of the former is a which he is a passenger has scarcelight-house and watch-tower, in ly time to let down her anchor bewhicha person stands from sunset to fore the custom-house barge, desunrise, and hails every vessel that corated with the national flag and approaches, demanding of what manned by ten rowers, comes nation she is, whence she comes, alongside. Her commander steps and of what her cargo consists : on board, and requests the maniand any ship-master who does not fest and a list of the crew, talks hoist his flag, or refuses to answer broken English, asks the latest these questions, is fired upon and foreign news, and struts about severely fined. Formerly, during en cavalier, while his dark-comwar, a very strong iron chain was plexioned attendants remain in the drawn across the mouth of the boat, and direct significant glances harbour, and the stanchions to to the captain of the ship, until which its extremities were attach- he orders them their usual graed still remain.
tuity. The health-officer next On rounding the Morro castle, makes his appearance, and inquires and entering the harbour, an in- if there are any sick persons on teresting scene presents itself. In board, and examines the passports, front one sees a forest of masts, and, finally, declares that the surmounted with the flags of all whole of the ship's company are nations, and vessels of every de- at liberty to go on shore. scription, from the ship of war to The wharfs at Havana are very the coasting-sloop, lie at anchor extensive and commodious. Ves around him. On one side a high sels lay with their bows towards ridge of rocks, crowned with for them, and are so numerous and so midable batteries, extends along close together, that a small boat the water's edge ; and on the other can scarcely find room to make a are clusters of houses fancifully landing. The moment a person painted and adorned with verandas, steps on the quay, he is besieged terraces, and balconies, where with crowds of watermen, who groups of Spanish ladies sit enjoy- offer their services to all who ing the sea-breeze, and slaves stroll pass along; and with the greater idly waiting their master's call. facility, as it is impossible to A little way off, the antique towers walk fast, on account of the piles of a convent rise with sober ma- of boxes, bales, and casks, that jesty, and, in the distance, spires everywhere obstruct the way. of various architecture project into Large vessels are daily loading and the clear balmy atmosphere above, unloading; and this labour is perwhile the deep tolling of their formed chiefly by blacks, who, cobells comes upon the ear with vered with dust and perspiration, varying loudness. Small boats hurry through their work, shoutwith painted awnings glide about ing and singing all the while. in every direction, conveying peo. The heat of the sun and the reple to and from the different ves- flection from the harbour are ncarsels; and the snatches of barbar- ly insupportable, and the hubbub ous Spanish, which reach the ear that prevails, and the fr htful as they pass and repass, forcibly figures that create it, make the
scene altogether infernal in its cha- and agreeable; a curtain of blue
The confusion is increased cloth covers its front, and excludes by shipmasters hailing their re- the dust and the glare of the sun. spective vessels, and ordering their A negro man rides upon the horse, boats to be sent ashore ; while which is generally a small, meanothers, who do not understand the looking animal, almost sinking language of the country, hurry under the weight of its driver, about, making unintelligible in- whose legs, cased in wide hussarquiries, and attempting explana- boots, dangle in the mud, large tions to no purpose, their tempers patches of which may often be seen being at the same time irritated by on the embroidered coat and cocked crowds of seamen and blacks out hat that envelope the upper parts of employ, who beset and follow of his figure. The persons that them in all directions, amidst the frequent the streets are generally odours of junk beef, molasses, oil, slaves, who wander about in groups, tar, and sugar, which struggle by speaking a horrible jargon, and turns for ascendancy, and add filling the air with fumes of torankness to the suffocating breezes bacco. However, one may someof a burning noon-day. In the times see a Spanish don, in a fimore retired parts of the wharfs, gured silk coat, parading conseSpanish gentlemen and merchants quentially along, and pushing the may be seen watching the arrival negroes off the pavement with his of vessels with anxious eyes and gold-headed cane, or have the calculating brows. In other places pleasure of giving the wall to an jugglers are seated on the ground, elegant woman in a long veil, folwith small pieces of carpet spread lowed by a servant boy, carrying before them, on which are cards, a cushion and prayer-book, to be dice, or cups and balls. Those used at mass. Perhaps a stout people are usually surrounded by over-grown priest, panting with groups of seamen and low Spa- heat and fatigue, will next brush niards, whom they harangue with forwards on his way to the congreat volubility, and urge to try vent; while the person who suctheir fortunes at some little lottery ceeds him may be a Spanish offior game of chance, which always cer in a tarnished uniform, stalkproves a losing concern to those ing dejectedly along, and casting who are induced to engage in it. wistful glances under the curtains
As one advances into the town, of the fashionable volantos that the bustle gradually diminishes ; pass and repass, whirling his beaubut the streets exhibit a sufficient tiful countrywomen from one part number of objects to attract the of the city to the other. undivided attention of a stranger.
The streets of Havana are narHis
eye is first caught by the car- row, and during the rainy season, riages called volantos, which dash excessively dirty ; for some of them across his path wherever he goes. remain in a state of nature, having A volanto resembles a low Eng- no pavement of any kind, either lish gig, only the wheels are placed for carriages or foot-passengers. completely behind the centre of The houses are plain in their archgravity, by which arrangement, itecture, and never exceed two the motion of the body of the car- storys, and are usually painted riage is rendered very moderate blue, or some other bright colour.
All the good houses are built upon ladies always attend such exhibithe sanie plan, riz. that of a hol- tions, which vary in popularity aclow quadrangle, which is the form cording to the degree of slaughter best calculated for promoting a and bloodshed that characterizes free circulation of air. In general, them. a gallery, surrounded by piazzas, The Alameda, or public walk, extends around the upper flat, and which lies within half a mile of forms, along with the court below, the town, is a place of common rea place of recreation in the evené sort in the summer evenings, and ings, and a shelter from the heat forms the Hyde Park of Havana. during the day. The public apart- Here the Spanish ladies drive backments are usually spacious and wards and forwards in their rotastefully furnished ; no carpets lantos, and use every means to atare used, and in most houses the tract the attention and excite the floor consists of a composition admiration of the passing and rewhich is as hard as freestone, and passing throng. The curtains of admits of being washed several the carriages are thrown aside, as times a day; but some of the no
also veils and shawls, and every bility have their rooms paved with thing that can prevent female disblack and white tablets of marble, play. On such occasions the fair placed alternately—and this has a Cubanas are dressed with much very beautiful effect. The shops taste and elegance, and the surin Havana are small and meanly rounding scenery is well calculated furnished. Instead of the names to dispose the spectator to view of their occupants being placed them with interest and complaabove the doors
, as is common in cency; for the balmy richness of most countries, each has some figur- evening in the tropics, the gorgeative appellation to distinguish ous magnificence of sun-set, the it from others of the same descrip- breezes perfumed by orange-trees, tion, such as the shop of victory, an animating succession of carof humility, of pearls, of happi- riages and happy human faces, and ness, of good fortune, &c.
the grand martial harmony of a After a foreigner has walked Spanish military band usually throw through the streets of Havana, and their inspiring influences over the visited its principal churches, he Alameda. will find little else to interest him, Though the ladies of Havana unless he gains admission into the are exempted from those personal higher circles of Spanish society. restraints which the customs of The number of public amusements Spain formerly imposed upon the which the place affords is not at sex, the climate and fashions of all proportioned to its wealth and Cuba prevent them from being as population. Comedies and operas much in public as they desire. are performed alternately in the No woman of respectability ever theatre; and bull-fights take place walks out except when going to once a month, and attract a nume- mass, and consequently the female rous and fashionable assembly, members of those families who particularly when it is announced cannot afford to keep volantos, are that the animals are to be struck almost entirely confined to their with fire-works, and forced to the respective houses, where they spend combat till they die. Crowds of the greater part of the day in looks ing from their windows into the houses to become a place of resort street. The ladies of Cuba have for the lower classes of society. in general no taste for domestic I attended two of these balls, occupations; and the bodily lan- which were held near the church guor produced by tropical climates of St. Mercy. The scene presentsufficiently excuses their indolence ed by the neighbouring streets in this respect. They value home was not the least interesting part as little as French women do, and of the exhibition. A variety of have no pleasures excepting what booths and stalls, lighted with are derived from visiting and pub- torches, and attended by negroes, lic amusements. The married men first caught the eye. Crowds of in Havana are not the jealous and slaves and mulattoes were moving untractable persons which Spanish backwards and forwards among husbands have long had the repu- these, and talking vociferously totation of being. They neither gether; while, at intervals, a party shut up their wives nor place them of elegant white-robed Spanish under the vigilance of duennas. ladies would glide through the The excitements to romantic in- ' motley throng on their way to the trigue consequently do not exist, dancing-room. The spire and anand gallantry becomes the common- tique form of the church of St. place thing that it is in most other Mercy were at, one moment recountries. A man may walk vealed by the flashing of the torches, through the streets of Havana at and at another by the uncertain all hours of the night, without radiance of a moon curtained by meeting any person like a lover, fleecy clouds. The streets, which and he has no chance of ever hav- diverged on either side, were dark, ing his sleep agreeably disturbed gloomy, and deserted, and all that by the harmony of a serenade. was gay, active, and animated in
The most interesting and most Havana, seemed to have concenfrequented public amusement in trated itself in one spot. Havana are balls, which take On entering the house where place during religious festivals. the ball was held, I found myself On such occasions it is customary in a large saloon, the lower end of for two or more individuals, who which was occupied by card tables. have large houses in the vicinity Crowds of people stood around of the church where the feast is these ; but, on examining the councelebrated, to throw them open for tenances of the different parties, the reception of genteel company, one could easily discover who were none of whom pay any thing, ex- gamesters and who were cept when they call for refresh- spectators. Large piles of dollars ments; the profits upon the sale of and doubloons lay exposed to view which defray the expenses of lights on the table that first attracted and music. A transaction of this my attention, and the person who kind is not considered at all dis- presided made a distribution of creditable ; for it occasionally takes these twice or thrice every minute. place under the roofs of very The stakes were rapidly lost and wealthy and respectable families; won, the whole depending upon while persons of inferior rank in the turning of a card. The perthe neighbourhood usually adopt sons who played, though to all apthe same plan, and allow their pearance equally interested in the