Page images
PDF
EPUB

terms arranged. Upon a copy of this last appeal being handed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Madrid, he threw it aside contemptuously, stating that “Spain's birthright was not to be sold for a mess of pottage." By the unmistakable attitude evinced then we obtain a glimpse of Spain's policy of heroics, which the unhappy country can neither justify nor sustain. It is now apparent that she must soon evacuate Cuba, and the question arises as to the future of the blood-sodden island. Annexation would hardly be consistent with the protestations of humanity only with which America answers those critics who charge her with land-grabbing, or with her disinterested attitude in the past, when she nobly tried to feed the recuncentrados without coming between Spain and the insurgents, and found it impossible to assist a tithe of the needy while the struggle continued. The

'ubans in arms are also opposed to annexation, and, indeed, woald bitterly fight against it. Independence under the immediate protection of the United States will assuredly be the wisest policy, while the influx of British and American capital, the opening up of rich interior districts and the removal of certain proscriptive tariffs, which the Cabans will insist upon, will speedily assure a return of prosperity to the Pearl of the Antilles when secure government is established.

That the Cubans will form an ideal government I do not say; but that the island will be better governed than other Spanish-American Republics is a foregone conclusion. The negro problem is not a difficult one.

The proportion of the coloured element is much less than in the Southern States, and the Cuban negroes for the most part are an ignorant, indolent, happy-go-lucky race, not eleven years freed from slavery, and still greatly influenced by their former owners. The white Cuban of the small farming class is entirely uneducated, but hospitable, honest, and frugal. In the scattered districts of the interior education has been beyond his reach. But it is in the planter class, the once wealthy sugar and tobacco growers, that the hope of Cuba lies. Lacking educational facilities in the island for many years past, all who could afford it sent their children to the United States schools and colleges. Here they have drank in Anglo-Saxon ideals, and though bred at home in luxury and indolence, the war has taught them lessons that will be invaluable in the future. The Cuban is no longer a Spaniard. Reared under entirely different conditions, and its blood recruited by refugees from the French Revolution, by Americans, and by sons of Jamaican planters, chiefly of Scotch descent, who have settled and intermarried with the colonials, a new race has arisen, more refined and cultured, and perhaps more effeminate than the swarthy bull-fighting sons of Spain, who swarm to Cuba fo a season and retire to the Peninsula after a few years toil. Thes Cabans have directed this struggle either actively or by secret helj

[ocr errors]

from the outside. Those in the cities formed the autonomy government under General Blanco, not because it was the realisation of their ideals, but to secure the gain of half-measures in case of failure to accomplish more, and were it politic to do so I could give abundant proof of aid furnished to the revolution by prominent autonomists both before and since the decrees were instituted. . I have mixed freely with the peaceful Cubans of all classes, and though many deplore the revolution and its effects, they are unanimously in favour of freedom from Spain's brutal yoke in any shape or form. Under the direction of the United States it will not be the insurgents who will govern the island, but representatives elected by the voice of the Cuban people, and there are men of intelligence in plenty to fill the posts.

And, in closing, I would advise certain British detractors of the United States to study the question closely, and then ask who deserves our sympathy—Spain, the mediæval Power, who has ever floated civilisation, and whose name in history is a byword for brutality and treachery ; or the Americans, who are related to us by ties of blood and language. “ Lack of patience !” urge some. “ Want of diplomacy ! ” cry others; but when we consider that for upwards of three years the war has been raging, while America's vital interests have suffered, and humanity has been daily outraged without official protest of the United States Government, the question arises whether too much patience has not been exercised. When hundreds are perishing with each week's delay, it is not the time to parley with questions of diplomacy, that were so unsuccessfully tried before the actual crisis.

G. C. MUSGRAVE,

SPAIN AND THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS.

THE

I say

a

THE existing hostilities between Spain and the United States of

America have suddenly brought into singular prominence the colony geographically known as the Philippine Islands. I “ geographically " advisedly, for, owing chiefly to its jealously exclusive administration under Spanish dominion, it has become neither a resort for globe-trotters, nor a place of call en route elsewhere for steamers of regular lines. The bulk of the export and import trade is in the hands of half a dozen British firms and a few other foreign houses, and not many years ago if one talked to a man of average general information about the Philippine Islands his knowledge of them went very little beyond the fact that the archipelago was somewhere in the vicinity of China and that its capital Manila was a place whence cigars were imported. Literature too respecting the Islands has been very scant. The last comprehensive work descriptive of the Colony was published in 1891, and prior to that no book pretending to give even a partial account of the Colony was written since 1859. The most northerly island is (excepting a few islets of no importance) Luzon, situated at about 200 miles due south of Formosa Ieland. Manila, the capital—on Luzon Island—is some 630 miles from Hong Kong, or say sixty hours steam in the vessels which regularly plg between these ports. The run from Singapore to Manila in the regular (Spanish) mail is about five days and a half. In normal times there is the monthly Spanish mail from Europe (the Compañia Transatlantica), calling at Singapore both ways; an intermediate steamer also runs between Manila and Singapore ; and one may also count on a Hong Kong steamer about every five days.

The archipelago consists of an undefined number of islands and islets, usually estimated at about 600, extending over approximately 12 degrees of latitude, including the Protectorate in the extreme south) of the Sultanate of Sulu. The islands of commercial importance, whence the supplies of produce are collected for re-shipment from the ports open to foreign trade, number about twenty-five, the chief of which are Luzon, Panay, Negros, Sámar, Leyte, Cebú, and Mindanao. Besides Manila there are three other ports open to foreign trade, all under very vexatious and restrictive regulations, namely, Yloilo in the Island of Panay, Cebú in the Island of the same name, and Zamboanga in Mindanao. This last port, however, is rarely visited by a foreign ship on account of the prohibitive dues. There are no foreign capitalists present or represented there, and the Spaniards being in virtual possession of oply the coast of this second largest island of the group, whilst the hinterland is held by unsubdued natives, there is almost no traffic with Zamboanga. The archipelago may be regarded as ethnologically divided into three parts, namely, Lazon and the northern islands constituting broadly the Tagalog sphere, the southern islands the Visaya sphere, and the extreme southern islands, or Sulu Saltanate, the semi-independent Mussalman division. Between these three groups there exists great racial antipathy. By far the most civilised and amenable are the Tagálogs, whose ancestors are supposed to have emanated from the Malay Peninsula centuries ago. They are hospitable to a degree which can hardly be realised by any one who has never left Europe. The Visayas are hospitable only for mercenary motives, callous, uncoutb, and of brutal instincts, excepting only the Cebuanos who are the most docile of all, and who, in hospitality, somewhat approach the Tagalog. Excepting Cebú people, the Visayas are supposed to be an offshoot of the northern emigrants to a great extent amalgamated with the Mussulman occupants of the extreme sonth. The lowlands of Negros (the largest sugar-producing island) are well known to have been peopled by generations of criminals who fled from civilised jurisdiction in Luzon and the adjacent islands. Indeed, up to forty years ago the Negros people were a lawless crowd. In the old capital town of Jimamaylan they defied European authority and murdered the Governor. The Sultanate of Salu is, nominally, only the Island of Sulu (called by the Spaniards Toló), but, as a matter of fact, the tribes of Mindanao and Basilan Islands and the Tagbanuas. tribes of Balábac and Paragua Islands, if they acknowledge any authority at all above their local chiefs, give allegiance to the Sultan. They absolutely reject Christianity and are known in the islands as Moros. The theory is that this Sultanate, as well as that of Brunei (Borneo), was founded by Massalman emissaries about eight centuries ago.

In the Island of Sulu (Toló) the Spaniards, after centuries of strife, hold only the

« PreviousContinue »