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issue of the game, were as dis- different and even more imposing similar in their characters as in description. This was the drawing their deportment.
of the national lottery, which takes The ball-room presented a more place monthly, and is the means pleasing and not less interesting of producing a large revenue to scene than the gamesters and card- government. The ceremony is tables had done. On entering I therefore conducted with a degree found a lady and gentleman danc- of pomp and splendor that is well ing a minuet. They performed calculated to please and attract the their parts with grace and dignity, common people, and to induce and the music was rich, grand, and them to risk their money at what beautiful. An apartment, bril- may be called the national gamingliantly lighted up, rows of benches table. The number of tickets isfilled with elegant and pretty wo- sued is usually about ten thousand, men, and
groups of Spaniards one hundred of which are prizes standing together, were the objects of from twenty thousand to fifty that first engaged my attention. dollars. The smallest share costs On surveying things more mi- one shilling and two-pence sterling. nutely, I was struck with the For several days previous to the studied simplicity of dress which drawing, the lottery-office is crowdthe females exhibited, and with ed with boatmen, common soldiers, the indescribable charm which slaves, and mulattoes, and all the sparkling eyes and glossy hair dif- refuse population of Havana, who fused over features that individually come to purchase tickets with mowere neither very handsome nor ney which they have probably obvery expressive. But the men tained for that purpose in the most formed a complete contrast with infamous and criminal ways. their fair countrywomen, being The drawing of the lottery took clumsy in their persons, harsh in place in a large square, surrounded their manners, and slovenly in their with piazzas. Towards one side dress. Many of them wore blue there was a platform about ten surtouts and boots, and some carried feet high, with an awning above, umbrellas and smoked segars, and and on this the governor and seall had an air of dishabille and veral of his officers seated themawkwardness about them, that ill selves in chairs of state, and prebefitted a ball-room.
sided over the ceremonies of the The minuet being concluded, a day. In front were placed two set for a country-dance was soon large, elegant, hollow spheres, conformed. The figure, which com- taining the prizes, one of which bined the quadrille and waltz, had was drawn from each globe at the much variety and elegance, and same moment by a little boy, fanfull justice was done it by the cifully attired and blindfolded. beautiful dancing of the ladies, and The two deities of fortune held by the richness of the accompany- the tickets over their heads for a ing music. About midnight the few seconds, to shew the spectators people began to desert the scene that no deception was practised, of festivity, and to walk homewards and then presented them to the in parties.
governor, whose clerk immediately I soon afterwards had an oppor- registered them, and proclaimed tunity of witnessing a scene of a the number and amount of the His quick eye,
prize with a loud voice. These ber was proclaimed, turned them particulars were next chalked con- over as rapidly as a banker's clerk spicuously on a large black board, could count notes. that hung within view of every impatient demeanour, and unsuitone; and, after a short pause, new able occupation, told plainly that sets of tickets were drawn in the his heart had not yet renounced same way, till the wooden spheres the vanities and pleasures of this were emptied of their contents. world, though he might feel unWhen the prize happened to be willing to be detected in seeking one of four hundred dollars, or up- after the means of indulging in wards, a fine military band, sta- them. tioned near the platform, suddenly I placed myself on a small eleunited in a brilliant flourish, and vation near the platform, and there then played some triumphant and enjoyed a full view of the upturned joyful piece of music. The governor faces of the anxious crowd, many then waved his hand, the harmony of whom had doubtless staked their ceased, and the usual course of all on the fortunes of the day. proceedings was resumed.
The moment the boys held up the The first ticket had just been tickets, a dead silence ensued, and drawn when I entered the square,
a thousand speaking eyes were at and found myself surrounded by once fixed upon the person whose an immense concourse of people, business it was to proclaim the and in front of the platform already numbers. Never before did I see described. Negro and mulatto men so many countenances animated by and women composed the chief part, one predominant expression. The of the crowd ; but many Spaniards clumsy uncouth features of the of the lower class were intermixed negro, the dim spare visage peculiar with them, and a few gentlemen to the mulatto, the whiskered stern strolled about like uninterested looks of the boatmen, the morose spectators. In one corner I ob- high brows of the Spaniard, and served a knot of English shipmas- the hard unbending lineaments of ters shrugging their shoulders, and the seamen, were moulded with viewing the scene as if they thought magical quickness into an aspect every one present was in the way of intense interest and anxiety. of being imposed upon but them. The prizes are announced а selves. At a little distance were bustle pervades the crowd-hun. three emaciated, anxious-looking dreds of pieces of paper are drawn men, whose tarnished uniforms forth and unfolded, and hundreds, and rusty-handled swords made me who have not heard distinctly, ask take them for half-pay officers. One their unheeding companions to reheld in his hand a piece of paper, peat the words of the crier-the which I suppose contained the crash of trumpets, drums, and numbers of their tickets; for they cymbals, bursts upon the ear--and all looked at it and at the black the impatience of those who are boards by turns, and then exchang- still in suspense about the number ed wistful and desponding glances. increases tenfold. However, the I next discovered a priest conceal- owner of the prize perhaps betrays ing himself behind a piazza. He himself by intemperate expressions grasped a bunch of lottery-tickets, of joy-the people throw surly and, every time a new-drawn num- and invidious glances at the happy
man, and then relapse into their Havana police—the love of gaming former composure:
and dissipation that prevails among The drawing lasted nearly an the lower orders—and the facility hour, during the whole of which with which absolution of the greatthe multitude was agitated by al- est crimes can be obtained from ternations of suspense and disap- those to whom the people are pointment. The ceremony being taught to intrust their consciences concluded, the governor and his and spiritual concerns. In fact, suite left the platform. The people the Catholic religion, as it now collected into small parties, and exists in Cuba, tends to encourage talked sullenly together, and then rather than to check vice. We slowly dispersed with discontented shall suppose, for example, that a and repining looks ; for, though I man makes himself master of one stood at the gateway of the square, hundred dollars by robbing or by and remarked almost every one murdering another, and that the that passed out, I could not dis- church grants him absolution for cover the slightest trace of satis- half of the sum thus lawlessly obfaction or good humour in any tained, it is evident that he will countenance. The few hundreds gain fifty dollars by the whole who had divided the prizes were transaction, and think himself as probably lamenting that larger ones innocent as he was before he comhad not fallen to their share ; while mitted the crime. the disappointed thousands were, Several assassinations take place on the other hand, regretting that in the streets of Havana every they had risked their money at all. week; but one will not learn this
The people who compose the from its newspapers, from lower classes in Havana are of three the Spaniards themselves, both the different descriptions : viz. free government and private individuals blacks, slaves, and Spaniards. All being anxious to conceal from foof them are very dissolute and reigners the reproachful state of unprincipled ; and, I believe, the their town. When the dead body city is the scene of more outrages of a stranger, or person of low and daring crimes than any other rank is found, it is laid on the of its size in the civilized world. pavement in front of the prison, Assassinations are so frequent that and is allowed to remain there till they excite little attention ; and claimed or recognized by relations assault and robbery are matters of or acquaintances; and, therefore, course when a man passes alone and those alone who have occasion to at night through a solitary quarter pass the place of exposure early in of the town. People, who have the morning, know how often a occasion to go out in the evening, murder is committed. usually carry swords or pistols, or Notwithstanding all this, public walk together in parties for mutual executions seldom occur in Havana. security ; and two individuals The negligence of the police enameeting in the dark will look sus- bles four-fifths of the offenders to piciously at each other, and choose escape detection ; while many of different sides of the street.
those who are apprehended and This depraved and lawless state condemned to death contrive to of things may be ascribed to three evade the penalty of the law. The causes the inefficiency of the priesthood are equally powerful
and corrupt, and no man needs a criminal correspondence with her mount the Havana scaffold, what- confessor. In his jealous rage he ever be his crime, if he has the hired a negro to murder the priest. means of ministering to the rapa- When the assassin had accomplishcity of the church, and of bribing ed his purpose, he went to the house the civil authorities. A poor friend of his employer at a late hour one less criminal is executed a few days night, and told what he had done, after sentence has been pronounced and demanded the promised comupon him; but a person of wealth pensation, but the Spaniard either and influence generally manages to
would not or could not give this, put off capital punishment for a and some high words which ensued series of years, and at last to get between the parties having been it commuted to fine or imprison- overheard by the neighbours, the ment.
whole affair was soon brought to Three instances of this kind light. The Spaniard was apprecame to my knowledge while in hended, tried, found guilty, and Cuba. In one case, two girls, who condemned to death. However, were found guilty of having mur- by means of bribery, he succeeded dered their mother, under circum- in delaying his execution for more stances of the deepest atrocity, were than two years. His funds being condemned to death. Their crime at last exhausted, the black cross excited the public indignation in a and lanterns, the appearance of high degree, and no one thought which announces, in Havana, that them entitled to the least mercy or the criminal has only two days to indulgence. The populace looked live, were exhibited before the forward anxiously to the day ap- prison windows. Nevertheless, on pointed for the execution, but when the succeeding morning, to the it arrived the criminals were not astonishment of all, they were brought forth. Another day was suddenly withdrawn; for the scon announced, which, however, wretched murderer had, by a desalso passed over without bringing perate effort, raised a small sum of punishment along with it. After money, and purchased with it a this, the two matricides, and the few weeks' respite. On the exinexplicable lenity shown them, piry of these he was hurried to the gradually ceased to interest the scaffold and executed. public mind, and it was at last While in Havana, I saw a mustated, that they had unfortunately latto suffer death for a murder escaped from prison, and left the which he had been found guilty of island. However, in the course of seven years before. He had obtime, it came out, that a rich tained a series of respites by occauncle had, by paying sums of money sionally paying money to the to the church, succeeded in twice church; but his resources having deferring the execution of his at last failed, he could not delay nieces, and, finally, in making the the evil day any longer. When civil authorities privately afford brought to the scaffold he was more them the means of escaping to like a spectre than a man. Long Florida.
confinement, fear, and anxiety, had Some years ago, a Spaniard, who produced frightful emaciation, and lived in the suburbs of Havana, a faint expression of dismay, which discovered that his wife carried on at intervals glimmered over his ghastly countenance, alone shewed wrenched it violently round-the that the flame of life was not yet mulatto gave a convulsive start, entirely extinct. He walked from and was dead in a moment. A the gaol to the scaffold, a distance recoiling sensation, like an electric of a mile and a half. Three shock, agitated the spectators; but priests, one of whom carried the it soon subsided, and most of them black cross and lanterns, accom- rushed tumultuously forwards, and panied and supported him, and got close to the scaffold, notwithfrequently whispered something in standing the efforts of the dragoons his ear; but he seemed too fatigued to prevent them. and miserable to pay much atten- I'he executioner, priests, and tion to what they said.
military, departed without removThe scaffold was situated in an ing the dead body, it being an open plain, and an immense crowd established custom in Havana to had assembled to witness the exe- execute the criminal before sunrise, cution. A morose, ferocious-look- and to leave the corpse exposed to ing negro sat in the chair destined public view till sunset. Aware of for the criminal, resting his elbows this, I returned to the ground in upon his knees, and carelessly the middle of the day. On getting twisting in his fingers the cord beyond the walls of Havana, I at with which he was soon to bind the once exchanged the tumult of a limbs of his victim. A detachment city for the loneliness of a large of dragoons surrounded the scaffold, uncultivated plain, bounded on one and kept back the people, who were side by the sea, which beat fiercely very noisy and impatient. At last on the rocks that stretched along the solemn ruffle of a drum was the shore. In a distant corner heard, the number of voices in- there was a cluster of people talkstantly ceased, and the unhappy ing together, and pointing to the object of public curiosity, habited scaffold where the mulatto sat in in a long white gown, and attended all the stillness and solemnity of as I have described, soon became death, without a living or a moving visible. On reaching the scaffold, object near him. This spectacle he was immediately conducted up was more terribly impressive, and the steps, and placed in the fatal better calculated to affect the feelseat. The executioner, having then ings and imaginations of the muladjusted round his neck an appa- titude, than the execution itself, ratus intended to produce sudden which had a tendency to excite dislocation of the vertebræ, retired exclusively those sensations of to one side, while the priests ad- horror and disgust which the dedressed the criminal for a few liberate sacrifice of human life, moments. The negro now advanc- however lawful and necessary it ed to the back of the chair, and may be, generates in every uncorseized one end of a lever, and rupted mind.