« ZurückWeiter »
to us to have been forgotten that in the very increase of population there is necessarily a proportionate increase of capital, a multiplication of the very power wanted to produce subsistence for the increasing multitudes. As long as there is land unoccupied, or unskilfully or wastefully employed, a small portion of the new progeny may produce food for the rest. When the earth shall be covered with harvests, and no room be left for industry and skill, it will be time then seriously to inquire into the measures which ought to be pursued, with the surplus of the still increasing consumers.
One passage, relative to the United States, we will extract from M. Sismondi. It is unpleasant to notice in the pages of such a writer, opinions we consider as so unfounded, or, at least, so very much exaggerated. Even if derived from the Fearons and other names of equal notoriety, from men who come here purposely to “spy out the weakness of the land," and exaggerate its defects, we regret to find them obtaining currency through the instrumentality of one who holds so high a rank in literature, and evidently bears to our country no ill will. He attributes the character he ascribes to us, to the natural effect of our rapid increase in wealth and population.
“ But the most remarkable consequence of this rapid increase of population and wealth in America, is the influence that this universal and foolish contest for riches has had on the moral character of its inhabitants. There is no American who does not expect for himself a progress, and a rapid progress to fortune. The pursuit of gain has become the first consideration of life, and among the most free people on earth, liberty itself has lost its price, compared to profit-a spirit of calculation descends even to children-it subjects to constant barter all territorial property-it extinguishes the progress of the mind, all taste for the arts, for letters, and for sciences. It corrupts even the agents of a free government, who manifest a dishonourable avidity for offices, and it impresses on the American character a stain which it will not be easy to efface." Vol. i. p. 458.
If M. Sismondi will select such writers as Mr. Fearon, who on this occasion appears to have been his oracle, as guides, he must expect on all and every occasion to be led astray. In all commercial countries, perhaps, in countries not commercial, there exists an ardent desire for wealth. The love of office also is said to pervade more people than one. It is not impossible that in our commercial cities, as in others, the spirit of adventurous speculation is occasionally so much excited, as to lead strangers, who, ignorant of the general tenor of our occupations, should take the exception for the rule, to form sometimes very erroneous conclusions. But from this stain, to any
unusual or dangerous extent, we have no hesitation in saying our country is free. Yet the great mass of our population is sound and uncorrupt, and if any crisis should arise, requiring the manifestation of pure and disinterested patriotism, we have no doubt the feelings of those days when our countrymen perilled all that they possessed in defence and vindication of abstract rights, on a question of principle, not for mercenary claims, would instantly be revived, and that the bright days of our Revolution would not be sullied by any unworthy contrast.
M. Sismondi has much merit as a writer. His style is lucid and nervous, his illustrations clear and candid, and his works constantly discover fine moral traits in the man. As a political economist, however, we think him inferior to M. Say; yet we are glad occasionally to see the science considered not merely as a mathematical question, but one into which moral considerations must and ought to enter.
Art. II.-1. Essai Politique sur l'Ile de Cuba. Par ALEX
ANDRE DE HUMBOLDT. 2 vols. 8vo. Paris. 1826.
2. Aperçu Statistique de l'Ile de Cuba, precedè de quelques
Lettres sur la Havane. Par B. HUBER. 1 vol. 8vo.
3. Anales de Ciencias, Agricultura, Comercio y Artes. Por
D. RAMON DE LA SAGRA. Habana. 1827-28_'29.
CUBA is one of the most extensive, beautiful and fertile islands on the surface of the globe. She is fortunate in her location, in her climate, in the distribution of her hills and mountains; even her great and disproportionate length, while it diminishes her compactness and internal strength, is compensated in a great degree by the almost unexampled number of superb harbours which open to commerce each part of her productive territory, and by the salubrity which the breezes of a contiguous ocean impart to every portion of her waving and diversified surface. Her soil seems adapted to almost all changes of culture-the rich products of the tropics and the VOL. IV.NO. 8.
cerealia of the temperate zone meet together—the palm, the mahogany and the pine commingle their foliage; wheat and rice, maize and the sugar cane, coffee and tobacco, and cotton and cacao are found in the same vicinage, and the spices of either India, and the golden fruits of a thousand hills and isles may be made to flourish in her luxuriant bowers. More than fifty years ago, when neglected and almost uncultivated, Raynal remarked, with almost prophetic anticipation, that to Spain Cuba alone might be worth a kingdom.*
Her commercial and political position is as fortunate as her physical advantages are great. The Gulf of Mexico, on the shores of which the commerce of the great Republic of that name'must chiefly be transacted, which receives the waters and the wealth of the Mississippi, has its entrance nearly closed by the Island of Cuba. Two passages, one between Cape St. Antonio and Cape Catoche in Yucatan, the other between the Havana and the Cayos or Keys along the southern point of Florida, both easily watched and commanded from the forts of that island, are the outlets through which the productions of the districts of North-America most abounding in metallic riches, and most fertile in soil, must pass. In war, whether as a party or a neutral, as a friend or an enemy, her position is commanding, and her influence must be great ; and in peace, she is placed amidst the great thoroughfares of commerce, and if prudently governed, must share in the production and distribution of unbounded wealth. Her southern coast opens upon the Bay of Honduras and the Caribbean Sea, and makes an intercourse easy with the Republics of Colombia and Central America; to the north-west she borders, as we have already stated, the Gulf of Mexico; while to the north-east, the Gulf Stream and the old and new Channel of Bahama; and to the east, the Windward Passage sweep along her coasts. A most rich and diversified commerce must thus constantly pass her shores; it will depend on the wisdom of her rulers how far she shall be made to partake of and profit by these blessings.
We propose to examine somewhat in detail those peculiarities, if so they may be termed, which secure to this favoured island so many advantages; then glance, for a moment, at its past, present and future destiny.
Cuba is a long and comparatively narrow island, extending in its general direction from W. N. W. to E. S. E. It lies just within the tropics, between 23° 9° 24" and 19° 47' 16" of North latitude, and 76° 30' 25" and 87° 17' 22" of longitude West of
* Hist. Phil. vol. vi. p. 303.-Edit. 1795.
Paris. Its length from Cape St. Antonio to Cape Maysi along a line slightly curved, is 227 marine leagues, equal to 783 English miles. Its greatest width from Point Maternillo to the Pico de Tarquino is 37 leagues or 127 miles; its mean breadth is 15 leagues or nearly 52 miles, while opposite the Havana it is narrowed to a space not exceeding 81 leagues or 271 miles, and from the Havana to Cape Antonio, with some 'occasional dilatation, it gradually contracts to a point. The circumference is 520 leagues or 1794 miles, indented with a great number of fine bays or harbours. Nearly fifty are enumerated, some of which possess every advantage that a naval port can require. As the coast for nearly two-thirds of its extent is surrounded by reefs and banks, so as to be approached with difficulty, it was but imperfectly known, and until the surveys made under the direction of the government of Spain by Don Jose del Rio and Don Ventura de Barcaiztequi, near the close of the last century and the beginning of the present, the real magnitude of this island was imperfectly ascertained, and was usually overrated. It has been found by very careful admeasurements made by M. Bauza, under the direction of M. Humboldt, to contain, including the Isle of Pines on its southern coast, 3,615 square marine leagues, equal to 43,092* square English miles, and bears in size the following relation to other well-known territories. England, exclusive of Wales,
5,483 The surface of Cuba is beautifully undulated, and while the hills seldom rise too high for profitable culture or pasture, the level lands sink only in one district along the southern coast between Batabano and Xagua, or perhaps Trinidad, so low as to become swampy or miry. The greater portion of the island, however, may be considered as level, though elevated about two or three hundred feet above the level of the ocean, and sufficiently broken for all the purposes of health and convenience. A range of hills traverses the island longitudinally, and the land, in general, gradually slopes on each side from their summits to
* It was formerly estimated by Geographers at 52 and 53,000 square miles.
the ocean. From Cape Antonio to a small distance east of Matanzas, these hills approach the northern coast, rarely exceeding 7 or 800 feet in height, and in some places, scarcely perceptible as a distinct range; opposite the Havana, when it was proposed a few years ago to unite the harbour of that city with the port of Batabano on the southern coast, it was found that the intervening land did not exceed, on two different lines in which it was proposed to locate the canal, the height of 200 feet. To the east of Matanzas, around which the country is broken and rocky, the land appears to become lower and more level, but the hills soon appear on the southern side of the island, and are of moderate height until they reach the meridian of Cabo del Cruz, when they begin to attain a lofty altitude, and under the general name of Sierra de Cobre, or Copper Mountains, though with other local denominations to particular portions, continue for nearly two hundred miles to Cape Maysi. The summits of some of these mountains are seven thousand feet high, and give to the eastern part of Cuba a scenery more picturesque and magnificent, than belongs to the other portions of this island.
The geological structure of Cuba we shall briefly notice, because on this subject the gleanings of such an observer as Humboldt, whom we shall follow in this article when not other. wise expressed, merit notice. We shall condense as much as possible his observations, which he often carries too niuch into detail, without those generalizations which, perhaps, the state of the science will not yet permit to be accurately and absolutely made. General views; however, are gratifying to the inquirer, and useful when offered in their legitimate form, not as established axioms of science, but as approximations such as our present knowledge will permit us to propose, and intended to serve rather as propositions to provoke and direct our researches and speculations, than as dogmas to control our faith. Few, we believe, would ever have patience to wade through a volume of mere geological statements, viewed as an unconnected series of detached and isolated facts, if neither writer nor reader had adopted any principle to guide his investigations, or to arrange the materials which he may casually acquire.
“ The Island of Cuba in more than four-fifths of its extent, offers only a low and level surface. It is a soil covered with secondary and tertiary formations through which appear some rocks of gneiss, of syenite, and of euphotide. We do not yet possess any exact notions of the geognostic configuration of the country, or of the relative age and the nature of its strata. We only know that the most elevated group of