Palm Sunday. Could not coal. Went ashore. Weather extremely hot, the streets shadeless & burning. Apparently the Church is not on top, these days, as in the old times. No big religious functions, no Palm Sunday processions—just an ordinary, unimportant & unimposing Sabbath, & hardly worth breaking. Only 3 priests visible in the streets.
Visited a church where Columbus’s itinerant bones reposed for the first time on their travels.
Went ashore again at 3 or 4 & drove around & around in the Prado, with half the population doing the same & the other half sitting on the side-walks & in balconies looking on & showing their clothes. This was the only interesting feature of this cheap-built, ill-paved, & ratty old town. The American flag was waving its sarcasms to the breeze everywhere.
Plenty of cats; & all tame, satisfied, & in good condition. This is astonishing; also, unaccountable. A man’s treatment of a dog is no indication of the man’s nature, but his treatment of a cat is. It is the crucial test. None but the humane treat a cat well. In the Holy Office, in the bull-fight, & in the black history of Spain’s work in the Antilles, in Mexico & in the Philippines the Spaniard has made his record. What is the explanation of this cat-puzzle? [MTP].
Sam’s Mar. 24 to Livy relates this day’s activities in Havana, Cuba:
Yesterday was Palm Sunday, & I supposed that there would be grand doings, but it was not so. There were no processions, no bell-janglings, no pow-wowings of any kind; & in the whole day I saw but 3 priests.
In the forenoon we were ashore an hour—then hastened aboard to get cool; we went again at 5.30 & drove and hour & a half. At first we drove round & round the Prado, & that was interesting, for every man woman & child that had good clothes was there, either walking, riding, driving, or sitting on sidewalk or on balconies—blacks, whites, browns, yellows—in tastefully & bloomy summer costumes; & I could have enjoyed it an hour or two I am sure. The rest of the drive bored me (ditto Mr. Rogers) & I was glad to get back to the ship. We have made no official calls; the governor is gone to America, & the President of the new-born Republic is in America, also [MTP].
Livy’s diary: “Dr. James Ramsey Hunt came for tea” [MTP: DV161].
March 24 Monday – On board the Kanawha in Havana harbor, Sam wrote to Livy [MTP].
Dearheart, we are anchored fifty yards from the wrenched & tangled
battered bunch of rusty iron which stands for the “Maine” & looks like a brobdignagian tarantula in his death-squirm.
Sam then wrote of the activities of the prior day, Mar. 23 (see entry), and finished with:
An officer (U.S.A.) at the fort (the Morrow) has a wife who was born in Florida, Mo. That woman will be a curiosity of a sort which I suppose I have not seen for 60 years. We return the visit to-day— we were not on board when the officers called.
Toward evening, to-day, we sail. I hope we shall get letters before we start, but it is doubtful—this is far away, & the mails are very slow. We think, though, that the letters may overtake us at Santiago. We’ll hope so, anyway [MTP].
Insert: Moro Castle (Spanish: Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro) is a picturesque fortress built in 1589 guarding the entrance to Havana bay.
Sam’s notebook: “Cuban police in gray. Quite plenty. Town fairly clean & orderly. Garbage boats. Col.
Waring. Ought to have monument. To cigar factory…tongue the cigar-ends. Hands smoke $200 worth a day.
The Morro. Death Ditch. Florida girl. Capt. Post. Sailed 6 p.m.” [NB 45 TS 7].
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.