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The geographical and historical dictionary of America and the West Indies [volume 1]

540

540

CUBA.

known by the name of Carenas. It is of a kind, warm, and dry temperature, and more mild than the island of St. Domingo, owing to the refreshing gales which it experiences from the n. and e. Its rivers, which are in number 15S, abound in rich fish ; its mountains in choice and vast timber ; namely cedars, caobas^ oaks, ('ranadillos, guayacanes^ and ebony-trees ; the fields in singing birds, and others of the chase, in flourishing trees and odoriferous plants. The territory is most fertile, so that the fields are never without flowers, and the trees are never stripped of their foliage. Some of the seeds produce two crops a year, the one of them ripening in the depth of winter. At the beginning of its conquest, much gold was taken from hence, and principally in the parts called, at the present day, lagua, and the city of Trinidad ; and the chronicler Antonio de Herera affirms that this metal was found of greater purity here than in the island of St. Domingo. Some of it is procured at the present day at Holguin. Here are sorne very abundant mines of copper and load-stone; and artillery was formerly cast here, similar to that which was in the fortified places of the Havana, Cuba, and the castle of the Morro. Here was established an asiento of the mines, under the reign of the King Don J uan de Eguiluz, when no h ss aquantity than lOOG quintals of gold were sent yearly to Spain. In the jurisdiction of the Havana, an iron mine has been discovered some little time since, of an excellent quality, and the rock crystal found here is, when wrought, more brilliant than the finest stones. In the road from Bayamo to Cuba, are found pebbles of various sizes, and so perfectly round that they might be well used for cannonballs. The baths of medical warm waters are extremely numerous in this island. It contains 1 1 large and convenient bays, very secure ports, and abundant salt ponds, also 480 sugar engines, from which upwards of a million of arrobas are embarked every year for Europe, and of such an esteemed and excellent quality, as without being refined, to equal the sugar of Holland or France ; not to mention the infinite quantity of this article employed in the manufacturing of delicious sweetmeats ; these being also sent over to Spain and various parts of America. It contains also 982 herds of large cattle, 617 inclosures for swine, 350 folds for fattening animals, 1881 manufactories, and 5933 cultivated estates ; and but for the want of hands, it might be said to abound in every necessary of life, since it produces in profusion yiicas, sweet and bitter, and of which the cazave bread is made, coffee, maize, indigo, cotton, some cacao and much tobacco of excellent quality ; this being

one of the principal sources of its commerce, anrJ that which forms the chief branch of the royal revenue. This article is exported to Europe in every fashion, in leaf, snuff, and cigars, and is held superior to the tobacco of all the other parts of America. The great peculiarity of this climate is, that we find in it, the whole year round, the most Belicate herbs and fruits, in full season, native either to Europe or these regions ; and amongst the rest, the pine is most delicious. The fields are so delightful and so salutary, that invalids go toreside in them to establish their health. Throughout the Avhole island there is neither wild beast or venomous animal to be found. Its first inhabitants were a pacific and modest people, and unacquainted with the barbarous custom of eating human flesh, and abhorring theft and impurity. These have b-3corne nearly extinct, arid the greater part of them hung themselves at the beginning of the conquest, through vexation at the hardships inflicted upon them by the first settlers. At the present day, the natives are the most active and industrious of any belonging to the Antilles islands. The women, although they have not the complexion of Europeans, are beautiful, lively, affable, of acute discernment, lovers of virtue, and extremely hospitable and generous. The first town of this island was Baracoa, built by Diego Velazquez in 1512., It is divided into two governments, which are that of Cuba and that of the Havana : these are subdiv'ided into jurisdictions and districts. The governor of the Havana is the captain-general of the whole island, and his command extends as far as the provinces of Louisiana and Movila ; and his appointment has ever been looked upon as a situation of the liighest importance and confidence. He is assisted by general officers of the greatest abilities and merits in the discharge of his office. When the appointment becomes vacant, the viceroy of the Havana, thfbugh a privilege, becomes invested with the title of Captain-General in the government. The whole of the island is one diocese; its jurisdiction comprehending the provinces of Louisiana, and having the title of those of Florida and the island of Jamaica. It is suffraganto the archbishopric of St. Domingo, erected in Baracoa in 1518, and translated to Cuba by bull of Pope Andrian VI. in 1522. It numbers 21 parishes, 90 churches, 52 curacies, 23 convents, 3 colleges, and 22 hospitals. In 1763 some swarms of bees were brouglit from San Agnstin de La Florida, which have increased to such a degree, that the wax procured from them, after reserving enough for the consumption of all the superior class, and independently of that used in the

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