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Qui rate velivola occiduos penetrauit ad indos.
Primus et Americam Nobilitavit humum.
Christophorus tali frente columbus crat.
ANY contribution to Cuban literature cannot, if so I may call it, but possess considerable interest at this absorbing moment. The following pages embody the experience gathered during a visit to Cuba some years ago, and to this I have added many facts and memoranda bestowed by friends whose knowledge of the country is more recent than my own, and information collected from various works upon Cuba and West Indian subjects. I do not pretend that the book is an authoritative text-book on Cuban matters--I give it as the result of personal observation, so far as it goes, supplemented in the manner already indicated; and as such I believe it will not be found lacking in elements of interest and entertainment. Certain chapters on Columbus and on the West Indian Manuscripts in the Colonial Exhibition have been included as an Appendix.
The description of the youth of Columbus, the "Great Discoverer," has never, so far as I am aware, been attempted before in the English tongue. It appeared to me to be appropriate to a work on the island he was the first to discover, and I have
therefore included it in this book. It is founded on original and authentic documents, discovered in the Genoese Archives by the late Marchese Staglieno. These I have carefully examined and verified, and to the facts therein contained I have added others, which I have myself unearthed in the course of my own researches in the Città Superba.
The chapter on the Colonial Exhibition Manuscripts speaks for itself, and my readers will be struck by the fact that the condition of the British West Indian Colonies, at the close of the last century, resembled in many respects not a little that of Cuba at the end of
The chapter on the Bahamas, which closes the volume, has been inserted to mark an evident contrast, and point a moral, which will hardly escape the thoughtful reader's eye.
I cannot forbear paying here a tribute to the memory of the very remarkable American gentleman, the late Mr George Wilkes, in whose company I first saw the beautiful "Pearl of the Antilles." On the important paper which he founded, the New York Spirit of the Times, I worked for several very happy years, and I take this opportunity of expressing to its present editor and to Mr Stephen Fiske, my gratitude for much and constant courtesy, shown me ever since I left its staff.