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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.
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 lunez 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 appear. ance 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 be stowed 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 coouetry, 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 wbite uniforms, of which they seemed not a little proud, made a striking addition to the noelty 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 ac. cordingly determined to visit a Swiss colony established at Moro Quemado, to go from that place to the mines at Canta 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 welcomed by a troop of fine children, with ruddy complexions and light flaxen hair. Novo Friburgo, for such was the name of the villaye, 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 subject 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 cominission 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 interest, they wandered in gangs about the country, through 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 immediately 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 large;
paths were cut, villages built, mining stations and a thriving population established, in places where nothing but the all-powerful love of gold would, in these days at least, have drawn together any human beings.”—p. 62.
At Aldea da Pedra, Mr. Mathison finds a Capuchin friar, of whose virtues he speaks, in raptures with which his readers can scarcely be expected to sympathise. We are told first of the incalculable benefits be has conferred on the Indian population of Parayba, but upon descending to particulars, it appears that these wonderful blessings consist in having substituted one set of superstitions for another; and of having, in his endeavours to teach them thrift, made them cheats as well as Catholics, and drunkards as well as devotees. The great respect which Mr. Mathison professes, for what he acknowledges is nothing but outward form, leads him into ridiculous inconsistencies. All the ignorance, the brutality, the mean vices and profligate habits of the lower classes of the Brazilian Portuguese, (and he seldom stints the language of his disgust) are more than counterbalanced by the fact, that they rarely miss a mass, and implicitly believe all the nonsense of the priests. We have profane suspicions, however, that the practice of these exalted virtues has only confirmed their degradation, and multiplied their miseries.
On his way back to Rio, Mr. Mathison stopped at the plantation of Senhor Joachim das Lavrinhus, at whose house he had before been denied admittance, in consequence of the absence of the master. On the road he met a calvalcade of ladies, and gentlemen, on their return from a marriage-feast at the house of the Capitão Mor. “The men, dressed in long cloth cloaks, and well mounted on horses and mules richly caparisoned in the Portuguese fashion, made a fine appearance. The ladies rode in the midst of them. Their horse furniture was in every way similar, with the exception only of pistols and holsters. They all rode astraddle, according to the prevailing custom in the country parts of Brazil. They wore white linen trowsers; and the delicate foot and ancle, in silk stockings and thin satin shoes, did honour to the small silver stirrup in which the point rested. The upper parts of their dress were, a muslin gown, falling of course over the mule's back, as far round their legs as the position would admit of, and a large cotton shawl closely wrapped about the person.
A round black cotton hat of Brazilian manufacture, and thick white veil which completely hid their faces, completed their equipment.”
Senhor Joachim was an intelligent young gentleman of liberal principles, after Mr. Mathison's fashion, that is to say, " with nothing of the democrat or republican about him.” After being hospitably entertained at this Senhor's, Mr. M. proceeded on
his journey and reached Praya Grande on the 23d of September. After a short excursion to Santa Cruz, about 50 miles S. W. of Rio, during which Mr. Mathison sees nothing but brutality and ignorance in the neighbouring inhabitants, he returns again to Rio, and shortly after embarks for Valparaiso, where he arrives on the 22d of February. During his voyage round Cape Horn, our traveller beguiles the reader's weariness with strictures upon the nature of the Brazilian colonial government, and the prospects of the people since the opening of the ports. The whole dissertation is written in the usual style of solemn speculation provided for such subjects, proclaiming the tritest truth with the most circumspect and commendable generality. We have neither room nor inclination to make more than a single extract, which is to be read, like all the rest, with a liberal allowance.
“ The propagation of useful knowledge, through the inedium of the press, is another of the benefits actually derived, though not necessarily, from foreign intercourse. Previous to the year 1808, not one bookseller's shop was to be found in Rio: there are now several ; yet the sale for books continues to be limited, and disproportionate to the degree of instruction required, by the excessive ignorance of the mass of the people. The habit of reading books (not to dignify it by the higher name of love of literature) has not yet penetrated into the interior, and prevails but very partially even among the higher classes of society in Rio Janeiro. French books are the most popular, and most read, the French language being more universally known than any other. The use of English books is almost solely confined to the English residents: it should be observed, however, that no obstacles are placed in the way of their circulation, by the Government. With regard to foreigners, a tone of liberality has been uniformly adopted by the King and his Ministers, which reflects the highest credit upon their administration."-pp. 130, 131.
Valparaiso (vale of Paradise) is, according to Mr. Mathison's conception of it, a dirty sea-port, composed of small mud-houses, seldom more than one story high, with a barren surrounding country, equally uninviting near and at a distance. The place may contain about five thousand souls, many of them English and American. Mr. M. set out immediately for the capital, , St. Jago, distant ninety miles, under the protection of a peon, who, it seems, is a sort of robber, hired to protect you against robbers who are not hired. On reaching the summit of the Questa de Prado, a magnificent and truly sublime view burst suddenly upon Mr. Mathison,—the Cordilleras of the Andes, who are saluted with an apostrophe of five verses, being one more than were bestowed on the harbour of Rio Janeiro. St. Jago is situated in an extensive plain, greatly elevated above the Sea, and at the base of the Cordilleras, so that the view along Vol. I.