Abbildungen der Seite

leagues, which is a shrewd conjecture; and the whole length from its source, he calculates to be at least 800 leagues. The river, he informs us, divides at its mouth into three principal passes, and empties into the sea, in about lat. 280. All this is sufficiently near the truth, to have proved, if the account had preceded the narrative of Tonti, that Hennepin actually descended to the Gulf. But the particulars of his ascent are too improbable to be true. By his own dates, he was but ten days in going from the mouth of the Mississippi to the mouth of the Illinois, a distance of upwards of 1350 miles against a powerful current, a voyage which our trading row-boats can scarcely accomplish in seven times the same interval of time. His dates, too, are inconsistent. He leaves the mouth of the Mississippi on the first of April, reaches the Akansa villages on the ninth, (p. 128) stays there a day, and leaves there on the twentyfourth, (pp. 129, 137,) and then suddenly re-appears above the falls of Owamena or St. Anthony on the twelfth of the same month. Thus, Father Hennepin would make us believe that he descended from the Illinois to the sea, and returned to the falls of St. Anthony, in 43 days, time barely sufficient to enable him to proceed directly from the first to the last of these places, which, there is not the smallest doubt, is precisely what he did.

From the falls of St. Anthony, Hennepin ascended to the mouth of the St. Francis, where, on the 12th of April, 1680, he was taken prisoner, with the rest of his party, by the Issati or Nadowessi Indians, carried by them some distance to the north and east of the Mississippi, there. detained until the beginning of July, and finally brought back, by the way of the St. Francis, to the falls of St. Anthony, Thence he was conducted by the savages to the mouth of the Wisconsin, where he finds the Sieur du Luth, and his party, who had been sent out some time before from Canada. The Indians carry them again to the Nadowessi country, and then permit them to return to Michilimakina, which they do by the way of the Wisconsin, and the Fox rivers. Hennepin's story of his adventures, during his captivity, is neither probable nor entertaining, giving no distinct idea of the topography of the country, and consisting of little else than a tedious alternation of fanciful descriptions, and evan. gelical apostrophes. Although it is palpable at every page that he well deserved the ungentle epithet of ‘Father Hennepin the great liar," by which he was generally known as well in Europe as in Canada, yet it cannot be denied that the discovery of the Falls of Owamena or St. Anthony, and the credit of having first explored the Mississippi, from the Wisconsin to the St. Francis, belongs of right to him.* La Salle's descent to the mouth of the Mississippi, which constitutes the next era in the history of these discoveries, excited at the time a great and general interest throughout Canada and France; but the details of this, we must defer to the next number of our Review.

Art. XXXII.--1. Narrative of a Visit to Brazil, Chile, Peru, and

the Sandwich Islands, during the years 1821 and 1812. With Miscellaneous Remarks on the past and present state and political prospects of those Countries. By Gilbert FARQUAAR Mathison. London, 1825. 2. Narrative of a Journey across the Cordillera of the Andes, and

of a Residence in Lima, and other parts of Peru, in the years 1823 and 1824. By Robert PROCTOR. London, 1825.

It was naturally to be expected, that the South American republics should find among the foreigners, whom business or curiosity may have attracted to their shores, the same variety of calumniators and encomiasts, that it has been the good or ill fortune of our own country to have endured, since she assumed the responsibility of acting for herself. Already have Columbia, Buenos Ayres, and Peru, had their Welds, and their Fauxes, their Halls and their Harrises, who have encountered all the perils of the sea, and the divers perils of the land, solely for the philanthropic purpose of deciding the great question, which still so sorely perplexes the wise men of the East, whether the Western hemisphere be a heaven or a hell. It is exceedingly desirable, although scarcely to be hoped for, that among the Melchiors and the Caspars, who come to worship us as gods, or the scantier of faith, who doubt even our humanity, there might be found a few to whom the lucky thought might suggest itself, that perhaps after all, our social and political condition may belong to some part of the wide interval, which separates these two extremes. With regard to our southern brethren, we have little hopes of finding out the truth about them in any other way, than by making such large deductions from the accounts of them which reach us, as will bring the pros and cons into some kind of rough congruity. Perhaps among the books which depreciate the South Americans, the two narratives before us are not immeasurably removed from the medium we have spoken of. The first is an account of travels through Brazil, Chile, and Peru; and aims, as is usual in these cases, at great profundity of political speculation. Having had abundance of specimens of this sort of lucubration from the Manchester and Birmingham philosophers who have of late so luminously interpreted the mystery of our own institutions, we shall pay little or no attention to Mr. Mathison's disquisitions on the evils of a revolutionary spirit, and the advantages of a system of aristocracy,” but confine ourselves principally to such matters as appear to have come within his more immediate observation, and to have been easier to appreciate and understand.

* St. Anthony and St. Francis were names given by Father Hennepin, and are now in common use.

Mr. Mathison left Lisbon in May, 1821, and reached the harbour of Rio Janeiro on the fourth day of August. He is enchanted with the scenery of the harbour, and vents his admiration in four lines of bad poetry, quoted from his commonplace book. The view of the city itself is not imposing. Very few towers, domes or steeples attract the eye by their superior height, and no handsome public buildings adorn the banks. The streets are narrow and filthy; the houses of stone, and generally two stories high, with green blinds; those of the wealthiest inhabitants have sometimes, however, a large portal, and court-yards enclosed within. The Government-house, Chapel Royal, Bank, Exchange, Custom-house, Arsenal, Museum, Library, and Theatre, are the principal buildings, but none of them remarkable for architectural elegance. The Theatre, in the language of Mr. Mathison, owes its erection to “ Royal-munificence,” that is, in plain English, is supported by a compulsory tax upon the people. The house is large and handsomely fitted up; the performance tolerable only, and the music second-rate. Italian operas and Portuguese dramas are alternately represented. The latter “appear” to be dull, and Mr. Mathison's ears were disagreeably affected by the monotony of the recitation. The tragedy of Ignez de Castro is the favourite piece, as well from its real merits as from the additional recommendation of its nationality. The theatre is now the only public place of amusement, the bull fights having been recently discontinued. Indeed, says Mr. Mathison, with some appearance of regret, “ they do not seem ever to have been conducted with the spirit and enthusiasm which formerly marked such exhibitions in Portugal and Spain.” Not long after Mr. Mathison's arrival, he had an opportunity of being present at a splendid ball and supper, given by the officers of the Portuguese army at the Theatre, in honour of the Constitution. The description is amusing.--" The Prince and Princess graced the festivities of that evening with their presence; but, according to etiquette, only as spectators. The dress and appearance of the ladies at this ball deserved admiration. Many wore a vast profusion of jewels; but beauty, with some few striking exceptions, was infinitely less observable. The gentlemen all wore uniforms, or Court dresses; and the stars and orders with which the majority were decorated, seemed so numerous and inappropriately bestowed, as to border on the ridiculous. Not so, however, thought they'; and not so thought the ladies, who bestowed their smiles and hands with such partiality on this bespangled gentry, that the poor Englishmen present might have envied the possession of similar decorations, if it were only to avert the fate which awaited them of being left completely in the back-ground. Many boys, apparently not more than twelve or fourteen years old, wore tawdry silk Court dresses and stars, which had been obtained in the usual way. Young girls, also, of nine or ten years of age, or still less, were there, magnificently arrayed; and seemed to be as perfect adepts in the arts of flirtation and coquetry, as older and more experienced belles. Among the officers present, were several who belonged to a negro regiment; and the contrast between their black countenances and fine white uniforms, of which they seemed not a little proud, made a striking addition to the novelty and ludicrous features of the entertainment."

Between Rio and Praya Grande, an agreeable village four miles distant on the eastern side of the bay, there runs twice a day a Steam-Boat, set up by an American. Here many of the inhabitants retire during the warm months of the year, for the purpose of sea-bathing, and the prospect from the heights above the village is described as peculiarly fine. “ The eye glances with rapture over the fertile fields below, and the noble expanse of water chequered by boats and shipping in all directions. The town of Rio itself, flanked by the lofty Corcovado or Hump-backed Mountain on one side, and Sugar-Loaf Rock on the other, next enters into the perspective, which is terminated by the huge forms and clouded summits of the Serra dos Orgoas."

After residing a month at Rio, Mr. Mathison felt naturally desirous of seeing a little of the interior of the country, and accordingly determined to visit a Swiss colony established at Moro Quemado, to go from that place to the mines at Cantu Gallo, and thence to the Ilha da Pera, a settlement of Indians on the banks of the Paraiba. After going through a long series of disastrous adventures, such as being bitten by mosquitoes, being asked many impertinent questions, and being obliged to sleep in a hut, show a passport, and descend a precipice; our

adventurous traveller approaches the settlement of the Swiss, and is welcorned by a troop of fine children, with ruddy complexions and light taxen hair. Novo Friburgo, for such was the name of the village, was by no means a flourishing settlement, and half of the emigrants had deserted to seek their fortunes in Rio, or in distant parts of the country. He converses, of course, with the wife of one of them, who still remained be. hind, and she of course is a bustling talkative woman, who bitterly repents of having left her own country to starve in the wilds of Brazil. In short, the old story is told, of the absurdity of leaving a land of plenty, like Switzerland or England, with the hope of doing better in a semi-barbarous country, where there is nothing to be found but frogs and mosquitoes.

The mines or rather gold-washings of Canta Gallo, the place next visited by Mr. Mathison, lie about 100 miles N. E. of Rio Janeiro.

It has not been long in the possession of the legitimate proprietors. These mines were first discovered by some contraband adventurers, who, in defiance of the laws, clandestinely worked, and realized large profits from them. Their retreat is said to have been detected by the accidental crowing of a cock, and hence the name of Canta Gallo. The account given of the habits of these adventurers is interesting and instructive, as it shows conclusively how much the country would gain if the mining districts, instead of being sub ect to the arbitrary and vexatious superintendence of the government, were thrown open to the influence of unimpeded enterprise and general competition.

" These adventurers were, for the most part, bold and determined men, induced by the commission of crimes, or by unsettled habits of life, to retire from civilized society: men of such desperate fortunes that they were glad to run any hazards for the sake of acquiring wealth. Thus united by the bond of mutual inte: est, they wandered in gangs about the country, ihrough districts yet unexplored by Europeans, in search of the precious metal. The Indians were by turns avoided, conciliated, or subdued, according as it best suited their purposes, until they had none to fear but their own countrymen.

In this manner they traced the courses of rivers, traversed inountains, passed through woods almost impenetrable, and overcame dangers and hardships which men more happily circumstanced would never have thought of encountering. When their toils were rewarded by the discovery of a mine, or of a river-course abounding with gold. all possible precautions were inmediately taken to keep it secret until the treasure became exhausted. In that case, or if the secret happened to be discovered by government, and measures were employed to dispossess these adventurers, such as were fortunate enough to escape apprehension again pursued the same course of life in another place. Thus individual enterprise and crime became eventually advantageous to the country at larg

« ZurückWeiter »