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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 thanthe island of St. Domingo, owing to the refreshinggales which it experiences from the n. and e. Itsrivers, which are in number 15S, abound in richfish ; its mountains in choice and vast timber ;namely cedars, caobas^ oaks, ('ranadillos, guaya-canes^ and ebony-trees ; the fields in singing birds,and others of the chase, in flourishing trees andodoriferous plants. The territory is most fertile,so that the fields are never without flowers, and thetrees are never stripped of their foliage. Some ofthe seeds produce two crops a year, the one ofthem ripening in the depth of winter. At the be-ginning of its conquest, much gold was taken fromhence, and principally in the parts called, at thepresent day, lagua, and the city of Trinidad ; andthe chronicler Antonio de Herera affirms that thismetal was found of greater purity here than in theisland of St. Domingo. Some of it is procured atthe present day at Holguin. Here are sorne veryabundant mines of copper and load-stone; andartillery was formerly cast here, similar to thatwhich was in the fortified places of the Havana,Cuba, and the castle of the Morro. Here was es-tablished an asiento of the mines, under the reign ofthe King Don J uan de Eguiluz, when no h ss aquan-tity than lOOG quintals of gold were sent yearly toSpain. In the jurisdiction of the Havana, an ironmine has been discovered some little time since, ofan excellent quality, and the rock crystal foundhere is, when wrought, more brilliant than thefinest stones. In the road from Bayamo to Cuba,are found pebbles of various sizes, and so perfectlyround that they might be well used for cannon-balls. The baths of medical warm waters are ex-tremely numerous in this island. It contains 1 1large and convenient bays, very secure ports, andabundant salt ponds, also 480 sugar engines, fromwhich upwards of a million of arrobas are em-barked every year for Europe, and of such anesteemed and excellent quality, as without beingrefined, to equal the sugar of Holland or France ;not to mention the infinite quantity of this articleemployed in the manufacturing of delicious sweet-meats ; these being also sent over to Spain andvarious parts of America. It contains also 982herds of large cattle, 617 inclosures for swine, 350folds for fattening animals, 1881 manufactories, and5933 cultivated estates ; and but for the want ofhands, it might be said to abound in every neces-sary of life, since it produces in profusion yiicas,sweet and bitter, and of which the cazave bread ismade, coffee, maize, indigo, cotton, some cacaoand much tobacco of excellent quality ; this being

one of the principal sources of its commerce, anrJthat which forms the chief branch of the royalrevenue. This article is exported to Europe inevery fashion, in leaf, snuff, and cigars, and is heldsuperior to the tobacco of all the other parts ofAmerica. The great peculiarity of this climateis, that we find in it, the whole year round, themost Belicate herbs and fruits, in full season, nativeeither to Europe or these regions ; and amongstthe rest, the pine is most delicious. The fields areso delightful and so salutary, that invalids go to-reside in them to establish their health. Throughoutthe Avhole island there is neither wild beast or ve-nomous animal to be found. Its first inhabitantswere a pacific and modest people, and unacquaintedwith the barbarous custom of eating human flesh,and abhorring theft and impurity. These haveb-3corne nearly extinct, arid the greater part ofthem hung themselves at the beginning of the con-quest, through vexation at the hardships inflictedupon them by the first settlers. At the presentday, the natives are the most active and industriousof any belonging to the Antilles islands. Thewomen, although they have not the complexion ofEuropeans, are beautiful, lively, affable, of acutediscernment, lovers of virtue, and extremely hos-pitable and generous. The first town of this islandwas Baracoa, built by Diego Velazquez in 1512.,It is divided into two governments, which are thatof Cuba and that of the Havana : these are sub-div'ided into jurisdictions and districts. The go-vernor of the Havana is the captain-general ofthe whole island, and his command extends as faras the provinces of Louisiana and Movila ; and hisappointment has ever been looked upon as a si-tuation of the liighest importance and confidence.He is assisted by general officers of the greatestabilities and merits in the discharge of his office.When the appointment becomes vacant, the vice-roy of the Havana, thfbugh a privilege, becomesinvested with the title of Captain-General in thegovernment. The whole of the island is onediocese; its jurisdiction comprehending the pro-vinces of Louisiana, and having the title of thoseof Florida and the island of Jamaica. It is suf-fraganto the archbishopric of St. Domingo, erectedin Baracoa in 1518, and translated to Cuba bybull of Pope Andrian VI. in 1522. It numbers21 parishes, 90 churches, 52 curacies, 23 convents,3 colleges, and 22 hospitals. In 1763 some swarmsof bees were brouglit from San Agnstin de LaFlorida, which have increased to such a degree,that the wax procured from them, after reservingenough for the consumption of all the superiorclass, and independently of that used in the

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