Abbildungen der Seite

few months after the ratification of the unfortunate Clayton-Bulwer treaty. And Lord John Russell, in an official note addressed to Mr. Crampton, in January 1853, denounced "this so-called Mosquito government as“ a mere fiction," and "the so-called Mosquito ‘king" as “ a mythical personage whose title to power is, to say the best of it, little more than nominal."

Even if we admit, for argument's sake, that this particular tribe of Indians had never been actually subdued by Spain, that would not alter the merits of the case. We would still be unable to justify England's action, or pretended action, in giving them the title and rank of an independent state or nation; for such action would still be an open violation of the most solemn treaty obligations. It would still be contrary to the established principles and practice of every European power that had ever acquired territory on this continent. Every one of those powers — and none more conspicuously than England herself — had long before recognized the right of prior discovery and occupation, and the title of the discovering nation to vast areas of territory occupied by unsubdued Indian tribes. The Indian title, whatever it might have been, could be extinguished only by the authority of the nation in whose dominions they were found.

Nor was there anything in the character and history of this particular tribe of Indians that could constitute them an exception to this general rule. They were admitted to be savage and nomadic in character, immoral and brutal in their instincts, and wholly incapable of performing even the most ordinary duties of a sovereign state. They bore precisely the same relations to the Nicaraguan government that the Creeks and Muscogees and other wild tribes in North America sustained toward the government of the United States; and

when finally, after the Blue Fields incident of 1894, Great Britain withdrew her pretended “ Protectorate" over them, they at once resumed their normal relations to the Nicaraguan government.

It is fair to assume that the question of British“ protectorates," and of British dominion in any form, in Central America is now practically settled; and it is likely to be our own fault if that question is ever revived. The incidents of the past are not recalled here for the purpose of rekindling old prejudices, nor of exciting present distrust of the British nation; but as a warning to ourselves, to the end that such diplomatic blunders as that of 1850 be not repeated. Every AngloAmerican feels a just pride in his British ancestry, and in that exalted type of English civilization which has made the United States the dominant power of the Western World. There is every conceivable reason why the Great Republic and the Great British Empire should be close friends. There is no conceivable reason why they should ever become enemies. The two peoples had a common origin, speak the same language, profess the same religion, and have a common system of jurisprudence. Their interests and aspirations are identical. And whilst they may be generous rivals in the world's commerce, they have a common destiny. They should assiduously cultivate and carefully maintain the closest friendship. But the conditions of such a friendship must be observed; for it can be lasting only when supported by mutual respect and a strict observance of the principles of justice and humanity. There must be justice between each other and with respect to weaker powers; and there should be shown by both a humane spirit with respect to inferior races struggling in adversity to reach a higher plane of civilization.




N the northeastern end of the South American continent, bounded on the south by the river Amazon, north and east by the Atlantic

Atlantic ocean, west and northwest by the continuous water-way formed by the Orinoco river, the Casequiera channel, and the Rio Negro, is a vast expanse of rich and beautiful, though as yet but sparsely populated country known by the general name of Guayana. Being thus entirely surrounded by water, it is essentially an immense island, having an area larger than that of France and Spain combined; and, although within the line of the tropics, such is its peculiar topographical conformation that it has great diversity of climate and soil, and is capable of producing almost every species of cereal and vegetable found in the three great zones of the earth. Its natural wealth of mine and forest, though hitherto little developed or disturbed, is now known to be almost incalculable; while its favorable geographical position, fertile soil, fine marine harbors, navigable inlets, network of cross channels and great rivers, combine to make it a country of great commercial possibilities.

The Spaniards, who were the first to discover and explore this region, early in the sixteenth century, gave it the name of Guayana, though they often referred to it

1 So called from the earliest discovery by the Spaniards, but sometimes anglicized as Guiana or Guinea, and therefore sometimes con founded with the name of a country in Africa.

as Manoa or' El Dorado. Nearly a century later, Sir Walter Raleigh, who was the first of the second comers, in 1595, described it as "that mighty, rich, and beautiful empire of Guinea.” And the less enthusiastic Dutch navigators, who first visited its shores in 1598, called it “The Arabian, or Wild Coast," a name which they applied to the entire region between the Amazon and the Orinoco.

Within the limits of this region, between the upper reaches of the Orinoco and the Essequibo, was supposed to be the fabled El Dorado of those romantic times. The fable originated soon after the discovery of the continent, on the Caribbean coast of what is now the republic of Colombia. It was soon traced to the remote interior alta-plains of Pamplona and Tunja, thence to Guatavita near the present city of Bogotá, and finally eastward, beyond the Orinoco, to the great interior basin of the rivers Cuyuni and Mazaruni. Its exact locality was fixed on the borders of a mythical lake called Parima, which was then believed to be the main source of the Orinoco, and a vague rumor prevailed that the native sovereign prince periodically appeared, on great state occasions, with his body thickly coated over with gold dust, the product of adjacent mines. In the course of time, the term El Dorado (“The Golden ") came to be applied to a supposed country where gold and white diamonds and other precious stones were as plentiful as the sands and pebbles on the seashore; and on the margins of this great inland lake was the reputed site of the gorgeous capital of this mighty empire. The city, which nobody had ever seen, but which everybody believed to exist, was called Manoa, and its streets were supposed to be paved with pure gold. Near by, on the outer rim of the great interior basin, was the sacred mountain now known as Roraime, on whose dizzy heights were boulders and shafts of solid gold, which, however, were supposed to be carefully guarded by genii, or a species of headless men who inhabited the caves in its rugged sides.

Such was the story. It may have been made up from some half forgotten or imperfectly understood Indian tradition, or it may have been pure fiction; but for nearly two whole centuries, it excited the curiosity of the civilized world, inflamed the cupidity of Spanish adventurers, and led to Sir Walter Raleigh's long series of disastrous expeditions, beginning in 1595 and ending with his life in 1618. We smile at such childish credulity now, and wonder why a man of Raleigh's genius, learning, and practical common-sense should have spent his whole fortune and the best years of his life in chasing an airy phantom which seems to have originated in the brain of a romantic Spaniard ? nearly a century before. But when we recall to mind the hysterical and extravagant trend of thought in those early times, and that even this weird and improbable story turned out to have what Lord Bacon describes as “a soul of truth in the mists of fable and falsehood,” Raleigh's conduct seems less extraordinary. For, near the close of the eighteenth century, when geographers discovered that lake “Parima" had no existence, and quietly blotted it from their maps, geologists ventured the opinion, now generally accepted, that at some remote period such a lake had really existed; and it is now known that in the great interior basin of the CuyuniMazaruni, and particularly near the locality of this reputed lake, are some of the richest gold mines in the


Raleigh was beheaded in 1618, technically under an old sentence of thirteen years' standing for treason, but in reality at the instance of the King of Spain, whose American possessions he had thus invaded.

2 A shipwrecked member of the Ordaz expedition of 1531.

« ZurückWeiter »