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such of his poems as were of a publishable kind in a country like Cuba, where slavery is under the especial protection, and knowledge under the ban of the censors of the press.
• A few of those pieces which were unpublished or unpublishable in Cuba, I have endeavored to put into English verse; and to the best of my ability, have tried to render, so as to gi the sense of the writer (sometimes purposely obscured in the original) as plainly as the spirit of the latter, and the circumstances under which these pieces were written, would admit of. I am sensible I have not done justice to these poems, but I trust I have done enough to vindicate in some degree the character of negro intellect, at least the attempt affords me an opportunity of recording my conviction, that the blessings of education and good government are only wanting to make the natives of Africa, intellectually and morally, equal to the people of any nation on the surface of the globe.'—Pref., pp. i., ii.
The volume contains an interesting account of the early life of the poet written by himself. It was drawn up in two parts, but the second part having fallen into the hands of persons connected with his former master, is not likely, Dr. Madden says, to be recovered. A literal translation is given of the first part, which contains in the judgment of the editor the most perfect picture of Cuban slavery that ever has been given to the world. It is a fearful and revolting spectacle which this touching piece of autobiography discloses to our view. It exhibits the evils usually attendant on irresponsible power even when the subjects of that power are placed in the most favorable circumstances of which their fortune admits, and may well serve to awaken our gratitude to the supreme Disposer of events for the triumphant issue of our own abolition struggle. A few brief extracts from the narrative will do more to inform our readers of the true nature of Spanish slavery than anything we can say. It is merely necessary to remark that the writer was a domestic slave employed in attendance on persons of respectability and rank.
• I had already at the age of twelve years composed some verses in memory, because my godfather did not wish me to learn to write ; but I dictated my verses by stealth to a young mulatto girl, of the name of Serafina, which verses were of an amatory character. From this age, I passed on without many changes in my lot to my fourteenth year ; but the important part of my history began when I was about eighteen, when fortune's bitterest enmity was turned on me.
For the slightest crime of boyhood it was the custom to shut me up in a place for charcoal, for four and twenty hours at a time. I was timid in the extreme; and my prison, which still may be seen, was so obscure, that at mid-day no object could be distinguished in it without a candle. Here, after being tlogged, I was placed, with orders to the slaves, under threats of the greatest punishment, to abstain from giving
me a drop of water. What I suffered from hunger and thirst, tormented with fear, in a place so dismal and distant from the house, and almost suffocated with the vapors arising from the common sink, that was close to my dungeon, and constantly terrified by the rats that passed over me and about me, may be easily imagined. My head was filled with frightful fancies, with all the monstrous tales I had ever heard of ghosts, and apparitions, and sorcery ; and often when a troop of rats would arouse me with their noise, I would imagine I was surrounded by evil spirits, and I would roar aloud, and pray for mercy ; and then I would be taken out and almost flayed alive, again shut up, and the key taken away, and kept in the room of my mistress, the Senora herself. On two occasions, the Senor Don Nicholas and his brother showed me compassion, introducing through an aperture in the door a morsel of bread and some water, with the aid of a coffee-pot with a long spout. This kind of punishment was so frequent that there was not a week that I did not suffer it twice or thrice, and in the country on the estate I suffered a like martyrdom. I attribute the smallness of my stature and the debility of my constitution to the life of suffering I led, from my thirteenth or fourteenth year.
“My ordinary crimes were—not to hear the first time I was called ; or if at the time of getting a buffet, I uttered a word of complaint ; and I led a life of so much misery, daily receiving blows on my face, that often made the blood spout from both my nostrils ; no sooner would I hear myself called than I would begin to shiver, so that I could hardly keep on my legs, but supposing this to be only shamming on my part, frequently would I receive from a stout negro lashes in abundance...
• Some attacks of the ague, which nearly ended my days, prevented me from accompanying my mistress to Havana. When I recovered, no one could enjoy himself in two years as I did in four months.
• When I recovered sufficiently, my first destiny was to be a page, as well in Havana as in Matanzes ; already I was used to sit up from
years the greatest part of the night, in the city, either at the theatre, or at parties, or in the house of the Marquis MH- and the senoras C. If during the tertullia I fell asleep, or when behind the volante (chariot), if the lanthorn went out by accident, even as soon as we arrived, the mayoral, or administrator, was called up, and I was put for the night in the stocks, and at day-break I was called to an account, not as a boy : and so much power over a man, four or five nights seldon, passed that I did not fall into the same faults. My poor mother and brothers more than twice sat up waiting for me while I was in confinement, waiting a sorrowful morning.
• Three times I remember the repetition of this scene ; at other times I used to meet my mother seeking me-once above all, a memorable time to me—when the event which follows happened :—We were returning from the town late one night, when the volante was going very fast, and I was seated, as usual, with one hand holding the bar, and having the lanthorn in the other, I fell asleep, and it fell out of my hand; on awaking, I missed the lanthorn, and jumped down
has sleep to get it ; but such was my terror, that I was unable to come up with the volante, I followed, well knowing what was to come, but when I came close to the house, I was seized by Don Sylvester, the young mayoral. Leading me to the stocks, we met my mother, who giving way to the impulses of her heart, came up to complete my misfortunes. On seeing me, she attempted to inquire what I had done, but the mayoral ordered her to be silent, and treated her as one raising a disturbance. Without regard to her entreaties, and being irritated at being called up at that hour, he raised his hand, and struck my mother with the whip. I felt the blow in my own heart! To utter a loud cry, and from a downcast boy, with the timidity of one as meek as a lamb, to become all at once like a raging lion, was a thing of a moment —with all my strength I fell on him with teeth and hands, and it may be imagined how many cuffs, kicks, and blows were given in the struggle that ensued.
‘My mother and myself were carried off and shut up in the same place; the two twin children were brought to her, while Floreuce and Fernando were left weeping alone in the hut. Scarcely it dawned, when the mayoral, with two negroes acting under him, took hold of me and my mother, and led us as victims to the place of sacrifice. I suffered more punishment than was ordered, in consequence of my attack on the mayoral. But who can describe the powers of the laws of nature on mothers ? the fault of my mother was, that seeing they were going to kill me, as she thought, she inquired what I had done, and this was sufficient to receive a blow and to be further chastised. At beholding my mother in this situation, for the first time in her life (she being exempted from work), stripped by the negroes and thrown down to be scourged, overwhelmed with grief and trembling, I asked them to have pity on her for God's sake; but at the sound of the first lash, infuriated like a tiger, I few at the mayoral, and was near losing my life in his hands ; but let us throw a veil over the rest of this doleful scene.....
• I served the breakfast, and when I was going to take the first morsel (taking advantage of the moment to eat something), my mistress ordered me to go to the mayoral's house, and tell him—I do not remember what. With sad forebodings, and an oppressed heart, being accustomed to deliver myself up on such occasions, away I went trembling. When I arrived at the door, I saw the mayoral of the Molino, and the mayoral of the Ingenio, together. I delivered my message to the first, who said, “Come in, man ;' I obeyed, and was going to repeat it again, when Senor Dominguez, the mayoral of the Ingenio, took hold of my arm, saying, “ It is to me to whom you are sent;' took out of his pocket a thin rope, tied my hands behind me as a criminal, mounted his horse, and commanded me to run quick before him, to avoid either my mother or my brothers seeing me. Scarcely had I run a mile before the horse, stumbling at every step, when two dogs that were following us, fell upon me; one taking hold of the left side of my face pierced it through, and the other lacerated my left thigh and leg in a shocking manner, which wounds are open yet, notwithstanding it happened twenty-four years ago. The mayoral alighted on the moment, and separated me from their grasp, but my blood flowed profusely, particularly from my leg—he then pulled me by the rope, making use, at the same time, of the most disgusting language; this pull partly dislocated my right arm, which at times pains me yet. Getting up, I walked as well as I could, till we arrived at the Ingenio. They put a rope round my neck, bound up my wounds, and put me in the stocks. At night, all the people of the estate were assembled together, and arranged in a line. I was put in the middle of them, the mayoral and six negroes surrounded me, and at the word • Upon him,' they threw me down; two of them held my hands, two my legs, and the other sat upon my back. They then asked me about the missing capon, and I did not know what to say. Twenty-five lashes were laid on me. They then asked me again to tell the truth, I was perplexed ; at last, thinking to escape further punishment, I said I stole it. What have you done with the money?' was the next question, and this was another trying point. I bought a hat.' • Where is it?' • I bought a pair of shoes. No such thing,' and I said so many things to escape punishment, but all to no purpose. Nine successive nights the same scene was repeated, and every night I told a thousand lies. After the whipping, I was sent to look after the cattle and work in the fields. Every morning my mistress was informed of what I said the previous night. At the end of ten days, the cause of my punishment being known, Dionisio Copandonga, who was the carrier who brought the fowls, went to the mayoral, and said that the missed capon was eaten by the steward Don Manuel Pipa, and which capon was left behind in a mistake; the cook Simona was examined, and confirmed the account. I do not know whether my mistress was made acquainted with this transaction; but certain it is, that since that moment my punishment ceased, my fetters were taken off, and my work eased, and a coarse linen dress was put on me...... I was presented to my mistress, who for the first time received me with kindness. But my heart was so oppressed, that neither her kindness, nor eating, nor drinking could comfort me; I had no comfort except in weeping ; my mistress observing it, and to prevent me crying so much, and the same time being so very drowsy, ordered me to move about, and clean all the furniture, tables, chairs, drawers, &c. All my liveliness disappeared, and as my brother was greatly attached to me, he became melancholy himself; he tried, however, to cheer me up, but always finished our conversations in tears : for this reason, also, my mistress would not let me wait upon her, nor ride in the volante to town; and at last appointed me to the service of young Master Pancho; they bought me a hat and a pair of shoes—a new thing for me—and my master allowed me to bathe, to take a walk in the afternoon, and to go fishing and hunting with Senor.'
The two longest poems, entitled The Slave Trade Merchant and The Sugar Estate, are Dr. Madden's own productions, and would afford matter for interesting extract if the claims of his protegé were not paramount. We have selected the following, not as the best specimens, but as most suited to our limits.
Silence, audacious wickedness which aims
If with malign, deliberate intent,
. For once the winged arrow is sent forth,
· When I think on the course I have run,
I marvel at struggles endured,
THE CLOCK THAT GAINS.
· The clock's too fast they say ;
Time will not pass away
• The tiny hands may race
The sun has but one pace,