Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

explain what is said by the company about President Lopez being a “merchant" and a "trader. Now, these visions of wealth in the lumber trade were not supported by any contract, agreement, or understanding, express or implied, for a supply of timber. In this respect, the company stood entirely upon the footing of any other purchaser, as to whom the government might, or might not, be vendor, at prices to be fixed by itself, from time to time, according as it should like the dealings of its customer. In point of fact, the solitary purchase of timber made by the company (testimony of Ferguson) is shown to have been of 1,000 varas of logs ready cut and lying at the government ship-yard, and which were sold by favor merely; and of this supply the judicial inventory shows that by far the greater portion remained unworked when the mill was abandoned.

This, without going into further particulars, faithfully exhibits a general view of the establishment at San Antonio. The agricultural performances there are scarcely worth mentioning The kitchen garden was the most important of them. The horses and other animals, thirteen in number, were, the best of them, worth six or eight dollars a piece in that country.

There was a store, where the merchandise imported was all sold, and which died a natural death. As there is no claim in this respect, it is not necessary further to allude to it.

The only remaining establishment was the cigar factory, set up at the city of Asuncion. Millions of dollars are conjectured as the sure profits of this concern. Let us examine it.

In the first place, during its whole existence, of some ten months' duration, its books, exhibited by the company, show that, all told, it produced only about 500,000 cigars. Putting these down as all safely stored in the United States, and there sold at the price claimed by the company for the selected best quality, (viz: $30 per mil,) we have a grand total of $15,000 gross receipts in ten months, from which must be deducted the cost of the tobacco, the support of employés, the cost of manufacture, freight and expenses. A call was made by the American commissioner for an exact account of the disposition and product of these 500,000 cigars, and an argumentative account has been produced ; and with considerable circumlocution the fact is finally disclosed that the sales of cigars in the United States amounted to $1,895.71, and in South America to $1,486.80; total, $3,382.51, gross receipts.

Here, then, we have the practical results.
And how were these results attained ?

First. The sum of twenty-five hundred dollars and seventy-five cents was paid for the building where the factory was established. This is their own evidence of the value of this "costly building."

Second. The operators, principally women, the ordinary cigar makers of the country, were, like the peones at San Antonio, conscripts, whom the mere favor of the government towards the company compelled to work for it. They would only have worked for a few days, and never have been available for the company's boasted improvements in cigar making but for this voluntary favor of the government. This is clearly proven by the company's witnesses; and it was necessary to prove this, in order to establish the charge of breaking up the cigar factory, viz: by withdrawing the favor of the government.

Without a more wearisome and unnecessary detail, this is the general condition of the cigar factory.

It is evident that the whole concern, in both branches, was absolutely dependent for any success whatever upon the active aid and favor of the government; and the whole claim —whether great or little-depends entirely upon the question, whether the withdrawal of these favors can be the foundation of a demand for damages.

Upon this question it would seem very plain, upon ordi. nary reason, that no responsibility can arise in such a case. Favor, ex vi termini, is not matter of right. He who seeks favor submits himself to the will, and does not pretend a title. He must merit the favor,

But, if it were otherwise, let us look at the circumstances under which President Lopez withdrew these favors. For it will be seen, from the whole case, that this is the extent of the injury he has inflicted.

First. The expectations which the company had created by the title which they assumed and by the flourishes of their agent, Mr. Hopkins, not only were not in any degree realized, but there was apparently no prospect of their being realized, judging by the results of eight or nine months' operations. This, however, did not produce any change in the conduct of the government, although it might well have done so, since the theory of the claim itself is that great benefits were conferred by the company upon the government and people of Paraguay, as the consideration of the privileges to which it pretends. But,

Secondly, the arrogant and presumptuous conduct, and the bad faith, of Mr. Hopkins, who claimed to be the embod

1

iment of the company, were the sufficient and only causes of the proceedings complained of.

The testimony of Lieutenant Powell and of Mr. Ferguson, both of them witnesses examined by the company, describe Mr. Hopkins as follows:

Lieutenant Powell (page 91) says: “Mr. Hopkins was well known in the navy as an egotistical and presuming man, and one who had constantly embroiled himself in all kinds of difficulty while in it.” And, at page 116, he says he did not consider the conduct of Mr. Hopkins, as agent, "judicious."

Mr. Ferguson (pages 166-7) says: “I think his conduct was scandalous, according to my ideas of morality, and shocked even the people of the country.” And, at page 176, he says, (as an example of his deportment in other respects) “One afternoon, when riding with Mr. Hopkins from San Antonio to Asuncion, not far from the Gran Plaza of the latter place, we met a man on horseback, dressed in the usual citizen's costume of the country, who passed us.

Mr. Hopkins turned round and rode back after him, and, on coming up with him, administered several severe cuts with his horsewhip. Witness had perceived no cause in the man's conduct for this assault.” And, (at page 117,) being asked whether his treatment and intercourse with the people and officials of the country were respectful and conciliatory, he answers :

Quite the reverse; it was overbearing and tyrannical. He had a swaggering, bullying way with him in all his relations of life, and his deportment was always overbearing and tyrannical.” And he then relates the incident, reported by Hopkins himself, of his having entered the President's audience chamber in an excited manner, wearing his ordinary riding dress, with whip in hand — a gross offence against the usages of that country.

From Captain Page's despatches to the Secretary of the Navy, (in evidence here, it is apparent that he viewed Mr. Hopkins in the same light. He himself (Hopkins) in his despatch to Mr. Marcy of August 25, 1854, proclaims the verdict of the naval officers upon his conduct, in the following significant sentence :

“In the midst of these affairs and publications, the five or six officers of the navy who are now here continue to cut my house and presence, thereby causing infinite moral aid and comfort to President Lopez,” &c.

But to come to particulars. Mr. Hopkins, the guest of the government at the cuartel of San Antonio, sets himself to work in the most discreditable manner, (to characterize it by no stronger language,) to attempt to acquire a title to the property which he was thus occupying by favor. The judicial proceedings in evidence show that the tract which he claimed to include the cuartel, was the property of certain infants, whose mother, the widow Bedoya, was their guardian; that he fraudulently procured their title-to be conveyed by her to him, without the prescribed " inquiry of utility,as it is called—a proceeding analogous to the laws prevailing in most of the States of the Union in respect of the sale of the property of infants; and without the special license necessary for an alien to hold lands—as the company themselves have shown was necessary, by producing such a license for the purchase of the cigar factory.) Having armed himself with this pretended title, (the general law of Paraguay prohibiting the holding of lands by an alien without special license.) the testimony of Mr. Ferguson shows that there was no offi. cial survey, (which is also required,) and no act of judicial possession ; but that he, (Hopkins,) arbitrarily assuming a certain beginning point, directed Ferguson to run, with a mariner's compass, a line by a certain course to the stream, by which line (the only one run) he located his pretentions so as to include the cuartel. From the opposite side of the cuartel he erected a fence, so as to enclose it, and at the same time to enclose an old public road, which was the only one leading from the great highway to the port of San Antonio; a measure which, as the testimony of Ferguson shows, was complained of by the people and officers of the port, as inflicting a public inconvenience; but to which they submitted, not bringing it to the notice of the government at that time. After this act, if it stood alone, how is it possible for any dispassionate mind to consider Mr. Hopkins, or the company for whom he was acting, as entitled to any favor from the government, or to any privilege or advantage to which he or they could allege no strict right? But this is not all; nor does it appear to have attracted the notice of the

government at the time. Mr. Hopkins proceeded in his career of arrogance and presumption in all his intercourse with the people of the country, until an incident occurred which brought it to a point beyond endurance, in direct offence and insult to the Supreme Government itself. This was the affair between Mr. Clement Hopkins, the hrother of Mr. Edward A. Hopkins, and the soldier Silvero. This is stated by some of the witnesses to have been the “ beginning of the troubles ; and it is certain that in Mr. Hopkins's voluminous despatches as consul. no complaint or any intimation of any unfriendly conduct by the government or people is to be found until this occurrence.

The account given of it in the affidavit of Mr. Clement Hopkins is highly improbable. It is substantially, that riding along the road with a Madame Guillemot, (in respect of whom reference is made to the testimony of Ferguson, at pp. 166, 167 of the record) they perceived ahead of them a drove of cattle, in charge of a cavalry soldier. That they rode into a side path, making way for the cattle; and that the soldier, without the slightest provocation, came up to him from behind, and struck him across the shoulders with the flat of his sabre, leaving "a mark which was visible the next day.”

This account seems incredible, but for the aid of Mr. Norales, the Cuban, who boldly declares, upon oath, (as the only explanation which has occurred to him,) that he has no doubt that President Lopez, who knows everything, and without whom nothing is done in Paraguay, foresaw that this soldier, with his drove of cattle, twelve miles from the capital, would meet Don Clemente riding with the French lady on that day; and had given him orders to whack Don Clemente with the fiat of his sabre, in order to produce the correspondence with the consul, Don Edwardo, which subsequently followed, and which, by this adroit and wonderful movement of President Lopez, afforded a pretext for him to embarrass and finally get rid of a company whose immense operations (the extent of which we have seen) had alarmed him, and aroused his envy and hatred. It may be said in passing, as the only notice which it is thought necessary to take of this witnesss's testimony, that if he really believes in such witchcraft, he might possibly be highly valued if the knight of La Mancha were sitting in judgment upon this case; and if his good sense was only temporarily obscured by passion or interest, when he avowed that extraordinary belief, he has given us a warning, not to be disregarded, that this testimony is to be received with many grains of charitable allowance.

On the other hand, the testimony of Ferguson shows that, within an hour or two after the event, Mr. Clement E. Hopkins and the French lady, in giving their account of it, said that they rode in among the cattle, and that the blow was given under these essentially different circumstances. The official investigation established the fact to be that the soldier, perceiving their approach at a gallop, made signs to them, and called to them to stop; that they rode on and into the drove, frightening and dispersing the cattle; and that, under the irritation of the moment, he struck the blow. Nev

« PředchozíPokračovat »