Imágenes de páginas

of Brazil, but notwithstanding this, Paraiba is declining in importance: its custom-house is seldom opened; it is not in the direct road from the towns upon the coast farther north to the capital, and the people of the interior naturally go to Recife as the more extensive market. The late governor, Amaro Joaquim, brought this captaincy into good order by wholesome severity. Men used to carry on their irregular practices in the town at night muffled in large cloaks and with crape over their faces; one night he arrested all persons who were found thus disguised, and some of the principal inhabitants were found among them. A mulatto, by name Nogueira, son of one of the first men in the captaincy, had made himself much dreaded by his audacious conduct; he had carried off the daughters of respectable persons from their parent's houses, murdering those who opposed his entrance. Amaro Joaquim would have had him executed, but the law was not strong enough in Paraiba for this; he ordered him, however, to be flogged. gueira pleaded privilege, saying he was half a fidalgo, upon which the governor directed that he should be flogged only upon one side, and desired him to say which was the fidalgo side, that it might remain inviolate. A similar case in Lisbon some years ago was decided more tragically for the criminal: he had committed murder under such circumstances of atrocity, that even in Portugal it did not escape unpunished; the mode of execution was beheading for a fidalgo, hanging for a person of inferior rank: he, like Nogueira, objected to a plebeian punishment, as being a semi-noble, and the point of law was adjusted with great equity by cutting his head half off.


On returning to Goiana, Mr. Koster found that his friend had given up all thought of proceeding farther; he therefore departed without him, having hired a white man as guide, and two Indian lads of about sixteen years of age; with these and an English servant, and two sumpter beasts, he set out, the Indians going on foot. The first stage was Dous Rios, or the Two Rivers, though no stream is to be seen there; it is the place where the great weekly cattle fair is held for the Pernambuco market, a large open piece of land with cottages upon the skirts, to each of which a large pen is attached. The second day the traveller was entertained with genuine hospitality by the Capitam-Mor, or chief captain of Paraiba, at a sugar plantation upon the banks of that river. The host was a man of great family, who seldom left his estate to go to Recife or even to Paraiba, living in the usual style of the Brazilian gentry, in a kind of feudal state. The house had only a ground floor, and no ceiling, the tiles and rafters being in full view; the floors were of brick, the shutters and doors unpainted; and the furniture of two spacious rooms, which were the principal apartments, consisted


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

sisted of a few chairs in each, a long table in one, absofa and se veral hammocks in the other. The hammock, which in Brazil is generally called rede-a net, has been adopted from the native savages; it serves the labourer for a bed, and the idler for an ottoman. Oviedo perceived how useful it would be in European armies, and strongly recommended it as a means for saving the lives of the soldiers, who suffer so severely from sleeping upon the wet ground! the Brazilian net can be wrapt up into so small a compass, that it may easily be worn like a sash. Supper of dried meat, mandioc flour made into paste and called piram, hard biscuits and red wine were set before the traveller, who sat down by himself at one end of the long table, while his host sate on the other, talking to him, and some of the chief persons of the establishment stood round, looking in astonishment at an Englishman: one of them, hearing him con+ verse fluently in Portugueze, concluded either that this was ai Englishman who did not speak English, or that any Portugueze on going to England would speak English there with equal facility. The dress, or undress of the host, consisted in a shirt, drawers, slippers, and a long bed-gown called a chambre,the usual dress of those who have no work to perform. Supper was followed by a dessert of sweetmeats, in which the Brazilians, like the Portu gueze, delight. The party then adjourned to the adjoining apart ment, where each took his hammock, and swung and talked till they were half asleep. After the next day's journey, Mr. Koster stopt at a hamlet where the huts were so small and miserable, being merely constructed of palm leaves, that he preferred the open air. The horses were turned into a piece of land rather more cleared of wood than the surrounding country, for which accommodation the customary price was paid of about five farthings each for the night. The traveller slung his hammock between two trees, fires were made, and the segar followed the supper. Find ing the air very sharp in the hammock, he removed and lay down upon a hide under the lee of the fire. The men by this time were all asleep, each by his own fire, pack saddles and trunks scattered about; a rivulet murmuring by, and the wind rustling in the forest. It was the first time that he had bivouacked, and he lay contem plating the unaccustomed scene, and thinking with mingled pain and pleasure of the way before him and of England, when these thoughts were interrupted by hearing the name of Jesus uttered every half minute in a dismal voice. He awoke the guide, sup posing that it proceeded from some one in distress: a person was at the point of death in one of the huts, and some friend, according to custom, was helping the sufferer a bem morrer,—to die well, by pronouncing the name of the Redeemer, that the dying person might bear it in mind till the last breath, and that the devil by that invocation might be kept at a distance.


The next day brought the traveller to Mamanguape, a growing village which then contained about three hundred inhabitants and has since that time more than doubled its population, this is owing to its situation, a convenient station between Goiana and Rio Grande for the travelling pedlars, who are great instruments of civilization, and are described as a useful, industrious, and generally honest set of men. On the following day he reached Cunhaû, a place remarkable as the scene of a hideous massacre committed by the Indians in the Dutch interest, and for a victory obtained in its neighbourhood over the Dutch by the Indian chief Camaram, in itself of much importance, and attended by many characteristic circumstances. It is now only a hamlet, but the plantation of that name belonging to Colonel Andre d'Albuquerque do Maranham, extends more than fifty miles along the road, and the lands which this great proprietor possesses in the Sertam for breeding cattle are not less than from thirty to forty leagues in extent, such leagues as are sometimes each the journey of three or four hours. Hospita lity is one of the virtues of a semi-civilized state; the planters houses are always open to a traveller, but Mr. Koster sometimes preferred slinging his hammock in an outhouse to looking for better quarters in the owner's mansion, where he might be kept awake half the night for the purpose of giving news. Here, however, he had letters, and the account of his reception may be quoted as shewing the magnificence with which a noble Brazilian entertains his guests.

He was sitting at his door, with his chaplain and several of his stewards and other persons employed by him, to have all the benefit of the fresh air. He is a man of about thirty years of age; handsome, and rather above the middle size, with genteel manners, rather courtly, as the Brazilians of education generally are. He lives quite in feudal state; his negroes and other dependants are numerous. He commands the regiment of militia cavalry of Rio Grande, and has them in good order, considering the state of the country. He came forwards on my dismounting, and I gave him the letters, which he put by to read at leisure, and then desiring me to sit down, asked me several questions of my wishes, intentions, &c. He took me to his guests' apartments at a little distance from his own residence, where I found a good bed; hot water was brought to me in a large brass basin, and every necessary was supplied in a magnificent style-the towels were all fringed, &c. When I had dressed myself, I expected to be called to supper, but, to my amazement, I waited until near one o'clock, when a servant came to summon me. I found in the dining-room a long table laid out and covered with meat of several kinds, and in quantity sufficient for twenty persons; to this feast the colonel, his chaplain, another person, and myself sat down; when I had tasted until I was quite tired, to my utter dismay another course came on, equally profuse, of fowls, pastry, &c.&c. and when this was removed, I had yet a third to go through of at least

[blocks in formation]

ten different kinds of sweetmeats. The supper could not have been better cooked or handsomer, if it had been prepared at Recife, and even an English epicure might have found much to please his palate. I was not able to retire to rest until near three o'clock; my bed was most excellent, and I enjoyed it still more from not expecting to find one. In the morning, the colonel would not allow me to leave his house, until I had breakfasted; tea, coffee, and cakes were brought in, all of which were very good. He then took me to see his horses, and pressed me much to leave my own, and take one of his for my journey, that mine might be in good condition on my return, and he also urged me to leave my pack-horses, and take some of his; but as mine were still all in working order, I declined accepting his offer. These circumstances are mentioned to show the frankness with which strangers are treated.'-pp. 61, 62.


Leaving Cunhau, Mr. Koster meant to have past the following night al fresco, but received so pressing an invitation from the owner of a small piece of land who overtook him on the way, that he turned aside to his habitation in a beautiful valley called Papari, one of the happiest spots in this part of Brazil. It stands in a deep and narrow valley, about fifteen miles from the sea, upon the borders of a salt-water lake which brings the fish to the very doors of the inhabitants. This was one of those seasons of drought to which Pernambuco and the adjoining captaincies are subject: other parts of the country were burnt up; this was in full verdure, and the people seemed by their countenances to partake the joyful looks of the land they lived in.' His host was a native of the mother country who had married a Brazilian, and was comfortably settled in this happy valley. We dined,' says the guest,' in Brazilian style, upon a table raised about six inches from the ground, around which we sat or rather lay down upon mats; we had no forks, and the knives, of which there were two or three, were intended merely to sever the larger pieces of meat,-the fingers were to do the rest.' Here he remained two nights to rest his horses, and for the sake of Julio, one of the Indians, whose feet had begun to crack from the dryness of the sands. They expected to reach Natal, the capital of Rio Grande, on the following day, but the last three or four leagues are over an uninhabitable track of sandhills, which are perpetually shifting; the sand is white, and so fine that the wind raises it in clouds, and the horses at every step sunk up to the knee; they bivouacked there near a party who were making farinha, or flour, upon a piece of ground where mandioc was cultivated, and whose appearance Mr. Koster liked so little, that none of his convoy settled regularly for the night. Natal, where they arrived the following morning, is 220 miles from Goiana; the intermediate country is for the most part appropriated to sugar plantations, and some cotton also is raised; but the general appearance

appearance is wild and uncultivated; for land is of so little value that no husbandry is employed, and the piece which is cultivated one year, is allowed to become waste the next :-the same things may be seen in many parts of Portugal, where, when the farmer has taken one year's slovenly crop, the gum-cistus takes possession of the ground again. There are several woods upon the way, and some steep hills, but no mountains within sight. Where the road passes over wide plains, an experienced guide is necessary, for the track is only marked by the short and meagre grass being worn away, and as in such places the cattle straggle more, the path is less worn, and scarcely distinguishable in an imperfect light; no huts are ever found upon the taboleiros as these plains are called, because they are generally without water. There are no great rivers upon the way, and of the rivulets some were dry, and the others much reduced by the drought. The trees, though mostly evergreen, had a parched appearance, very different, says Mr. Koster, from the bright joyful colour of trees in full health.

Natal is upon the banks of the Rio Grande, or Potengi, a river which affords a safe harbour for a few vessels, the bar is shifting and very narrow, but deep enough to admit vessels of 150 tons. It was a point of great importance during the Dutch war; Fort Keulen, which at that time was the strongest fortification in Brazil, has probably fallen to decay, as it is not mentioned by Mr. Koster. "A foreigner,' he says, who might happen to land here, would form a poor opinion of Brazil, for if such places were called cities, what must the towns and villages be? but such an opinion would be incorrect, for mauy villages in Brazil, surpass this city.' The upper town stands upon rising ground a little way from the river, and contains from 6 to 700 inhabitants; it consists of three streets and a square; the houses have only the ground floor, and there is no pavement; a few persons have raised a foot path of bricks before their own houses, to lessen the inconvenience of the deep sand. There are three churches here, a palace, a town hall, and a prison. The lower town stands upon the right bank of the river, and is inhabited by the trading part of the people about 300 persons. The governor, Francisco de Paula Cavalcante de Albuquerque, was a man of high Pernambucan extraction, as his two family names denote: he and his brothers had been accused of conspiring against the government, the brothers suffered much both in person and property before the falsehood of the accusation was proved; he was fortunate enough to escape to England; and has from that time regarded the English with esteem. When he took possession of his government, he persuaded one family to send for English manufactured goods from Recife, and having once been in

Z 3


« AnteriorContinuar »