CHAPTER IX: VOYAGE ROUND CAPE HORN...
[Image of page 244]
VOYAGE ROUND CAPE HORN--RIO JANEIRO--ARRIVAL IN ENGLAND.
Sept. 10th. --Early this morning the Royal Tar got under weigh from the anchorage off Bradley's Head, in the harbour of Port Jackson; and as she passed out from between the tall buttresses of rock on each side of the entrance to the harbour, we took a last look at the shores of New South Wales, and bore away southward and eastward over the waters of the Pacific.
Sept. 20th. --We have experienced boisterous weather during the last week: strong gales from the north-north-east, and then from south-west. The incidents have been few; and our only prospect has been a tumultuous wilderness of mountain-billows, rushing in their might up from the stormy south--"curling their monstrous heads," foam-crested--looking awful from their vast size and endless multitude. Over this howling desert of waters--this melancholy sea of storm--the albatross and the petrel flit, spirit-like:
[Image of page 245]
the only living things visible beyond the wooden walls of our floating prison.
About noon to-day we got a glimpse of the coast of New Zealand, near North Cape: it was dim and distant, and only occasionally visible between the mountainous waves.
On the 27th, we passed the meridian of 180 deg., out of east into west longitude. We have about six thousand miles to run for Cape Horn, across the South Pacific Ocean.
Off the Chatham Islands we encountered very bad weather, and the barometer fell lower than it had hitherto done. Whilst lying-to, we lost our lee bulwarks, and the sea ran tremendously. The albatross and the ocean-birds are very hungry after a gale of wind: quite voracious, and so bold in search of food that it is very easy to catch them.
Oct. 7th, --Lat. 43 deg. south, long. 162 deg. west. The weather becomes colder, and the passengers stump up and down the decks all day long, backwards and forwards, like caged animals in a travelling menagerie.
The chill south wind comes wandering over the waste of waters, rough and blustering; and the giant masses of foam that are driven before its fury, tell of dark and dreary abodes round the pole, and of the ice-bound regions of the Antarctic. The bright and happy sky of Australia is exchanged for a wilderness of everlasting surges; and the dull and melancholy birds that wander restlessly over their surface, only
[Image of page 246]
serve to make the scene more dreary by their shrill and dismal cry. These birds are the heralds of shipwreck, of storm, and of death: they have no fellowship with those winged creatures of light and beauty that flit to and fro in the sunshine of the forests.
The sun went down so wildly, it seemed as though he fled in anger from a scene thus waste and desolate; and the huge moaning waves caught in succession on their rising crests a lurid reflection of that departing brightness, as it glared down upon the cold grey ocean.
Oct. 17th. --Lat. 50 deg. south, long. 134 deg. west. During the last few days, we have had strong winds from the W. S. W. and N. W., with cold stormy weather. On deck, the thermometer stood at 45 deg.; yesterday we had hail-storms with wind at S. W.; and to-day the wind is W. N. W., with fog and cold drizzling rain occasionally. The days, dull and cheerless as they are, drag on until eight o'clock, and the twilight becomes really tedious.
Oct. 24th. --Lat. 55 deg. south. A strong south-east gale, accompanied by violent squalls of hail; and, towards night, we had snow-storms. All is cold and desolate. Just before sunset, it commenced snowing heavily, and the orange glare of the stormy sunset was half hidden by the drifting snow-flakes, as they were whirled along over the waves, mingling with the sea-foam driven by the violence of the wind. The barometer to-day fell to 29.10.
Oct. 25th. --Thermometer on deck, 38 deg. Hail and
[Image of page 247]
snow storms occasionally; but between the squalls, which are from S. S. W., there has been some cheering sunshine, and we got peeps of the sky, cold, clear and blue. The albatross appears to have forsaken us, and has shaped its course farther north. We are now distant 1400 miles from the Horn.
Oct. 29th. -- Some ice-birds were seen towards evening: they are perfectly white, and rather larger than a Cape pigeon.
Nov. 5th. --The latitude to-day at noon, 58 deg. 19' south. The air damp and raw, and the horizon, as usual in this high latitude, remarkably hazy: we have daylight till past 9 P. M. More ice-birds seen.
Nov. 6th. --To-day we passed Cape Horn, in latitude 58 deg. south. The Cape, which is in reality a rocky island, is in lat. 55 deg. 58' 40" south, long. 67 deg. 12' 25" west.
The clouds this evening bore so strong a resemblance to land, that a little imagination might easily have converted them into the high snowy peaks of Staten Island.
The number of Cape pigeons that follow in the wake of the vessel is astonishing. They appear very hungry, and are perpetually in danger of being sucked down by the little whirlpools that eddy in the vessel's wake, whilst diving and scuffling for the morsels of food thrown overboard. My young New Zealander, Pomara, caught a great many of them with a hook and line, and sent them away again with canvass collars round their necks. "Mother Cary's
[Image of page 248]
chickens" (procellaria) were seen for the first time during the voyage.
Nov. 14th. -- Off the Falkland Islands. Large masses of kelp are constantly floating by. The day was fine and mild, and almost calm; and about 9 P. M. there was a total eclipse of the moon.
Nov. 21st. --Our course being nearly due north, we are fast entering a milder climate. The latitude to-day is 39 deg. south. The atmosphere is still damp and misty, and a drizzling fog has for some days hung about the surface of the water. For the first time during the voyage, I observed the small "Portuguese men of war" scattered over the ruffling waves, with their little blue sails tossing buoyantly.
Nov. 22nd. -- At sunset, beneath a heavy bank of cloud, the brightness of the sun burst forth for a moment with indescribable splendour; and there was a rosy brightness all around it so dazzling and so glorious, that it looked too lovely for the dark ocean and the dull heaving ship. It was but for a moment, however, and the dark ocean and the dull heaving ship harmonized once more.
Nov. 25th. --Fell in with a "Pamperro" wind, or south-west gale: lightning and heavy weather; lat. 33 deg. 50' south.
Nov. 30th. -- Lat. 26 deg. south. So extremely clear were the heavens to-day, that, at half-past one P. M., I distinctly saw the moon overhead, and a planet which I supposed to be Venus: both visible in the blazing light of a nearly vertical sun!
[Image of page 249]
NEARING THE BRAZILIAN COAST.
Dec. 2nd. --This morning we were cheered by the sight of land: the high mountains of South America were before us, in the province of Rio Janeiro. The day broke gloriously, and it was beautiful in the extreme to see the Brazilian coast with its jagged and lofty peaks, now struggling through the mists of early day.
To the voyager, weary of the endless waters, land is a joyous spectacle; and to us it is gladdening to see the blue peaks of South America glittering in the pure sunshine, and inhale the fragrance of sweet blossoms from the shore, brought hither by the land-breeze during the night, --to watch the green and golden dolphin, flashing like a blaze of jewels through the snowy foam, --and to know that we are rapidly nearing an earthly paradise, and that the sparkling fish, radiant with beauty, and the stray birds and butterflies overhead that have wandered from the shore, are harbingers of more brightness and beauty upon the land that lies bathed in sunshine before us. Such influences as these bring with them happy and buoyant spirits. Here, too, we saw the turtle, lying like little floating islets upon the surface of the water, with their heads stretched up into the morning sunshine. Large and very singular-looking birds, with long wings and tails, soared above us; and as we neared the land, new beauties presented themselves every moment.
Passing the island of Raza--on which stands the lighthouse and Rodondo, a lofty abrupt cone--the
[Image of page 250]
HARBOUR OF RIO JANEIRO.
Paya and Maya islands are seen to the right, scattered with cocoa-nut trees; and the Morris's isles, of tragic interest, lie still further distant. Here the grandeur of the mountains becomes very imposing: giant masses of rock--hurled, as it were, into the most wild and remarkable forms, resembling spires, cubes, and pyramids--rear their lofty summits, bare and naked, against the sky.
The entrance to the harbour of Rio Janeiro now faced us, guarded by the Sugar Loaf mountain on the left, and on the right by the conical rock above Santa Cruz. We speedily discovered houses, and forts, and flags, with crowds of shipping in the distance between the opening. On the right of the entrance stands the fort of Santa Cruz: here no vessel is allowed to pass into the harbour without hailing, and reporting "her name," "where from," "number of days out," &c. The water is deep close alongside the fort, and any vessel not bringing up, or coming within hail, is immediately fired at, without the slightest ceremony, until she obeys these orders. Farther on, situated upon an island nearly in the centre of the harbour, is the fort of Vilganhon, which we had also to hail; and being permitted to pass, we were directed to our anchorage, not far from this latter fort, and about two miles from the shore. Here we lay in company with other vessels that had put in for refreshments: ships waiting to take in or discharge cargo lie higher up the harbour, close to the city. The health and customs officers visited
[Image of page 251]
LANDING AT RIO JANEIRO.
us in their galleys, rowed by slaves, who rose from their seats and bent forward, at each stroke of their massive oars. A boat from the Cyclops, the British man-of-war steamer on the station, also came alongside. Before we were "cleared" the sun was low in the western horizon, and just as the burning orb was sinking over the city, flashing up its broad golden beams from behind the dark mountain of La Gavia, I stepped into one of the numerous boats that plied alongside the vessel, screened with a canopy of white cotton, and pulled by negroes; and in less than half an hour, we were in the streets of the capital of the Brazilian empire. It was past sundown when we landed at the quay fronting Pharoux' hotel: the sea-breeze had died away, and the hot, still atmosphere of the city was oppressive, after a day of vertical sunshine--such sunshine! The pure, dazzling light had faded rapidly into twilight, and the burst of glory that shot up arrowy rays of gold from behind those western mountains, that gleamed purple as the amethysts they embosom, was soon exchanged for the clear moon, that bung like a silver lamp over the busy city.
It being the birth-night of Don Pedro, the young Emperor of Brazil, all the principal streets, with the chief public buildings, were blazing with lamps; the opera-house and the "teatro" were gaily illuminated, and the citizens were all abroad, enjoying the general festivity.
We took up our quarters at Pharoux' hotel, where
[Image of page 252]
most of the attendants speak French. The restaurant of this extensive building has a gay and lively appearance: it is furnished in the French style, the walls being hung with enormous mirrors, and countless cafe tables are arranged about the spacious apartment. Here were congregated groups of officers from the British, French, and American men-of-war lying in the harbour, dining on mullet and fricassees, and growing jovial over champagne and moselle; -- merchants of all nations were seeking one another at this general rendezvous, to transact business over iced claret; --young midshipmen might be seen devouring oysters and pine-apples, and hot strangers in vain endeavouring to cool themselves by sucking lumps of ice, and swallowing successive draughts of "Refresco Gazoso" to an alarming extent. The centre of the saloon was ornamented by a conical succession of circular shelves, surrounding a column that formed the centre of this enormous "dumb waiter." The lower shelves groaned beneath rich heaps of golden luscious fruits: oranges three times as large as those we see at home, pine-apples, bananas, guavas, bread-fruits, caiju, and (more delicious than all) luxuriant bunches of green and cooling watercress. The noisy gaiety and excitement within, beneath the sparkling lamps, was answered to from without by the din and bustle of the boatmen on the moonlit shore, and by the incessant jabbering and shouting of the negroes and water-carriers that thronged the lighted streets.
[Image of page 253]
STREETS AND SHOPS OF RIO JANEIRO.
We strolled down the Rua do Ouvidor--a long busy street, lined on both sides with handsome shops, brilliantly lighted, and filled with every variety of tasteful and fancy articles. These shops are mostly kept by French and Portuguese tradesmen--rarely by Brazilians, who are too proud, indolent, and improvident to engage much in business.
The Rua do Ouvidor is principally devoted to the milliners, mercers, artificial flower-makers, stationers, and confectioners, and is one of the most gay and attractive streets in Rio Janeiro. The principal street, however, leading up from the Palace Square to the gate of the famous convent of Sao Bento, is the Rua Direita; which is the widest, and contains several public buildings and churches, besides the Exchange and the Custom House. This street is the resort of merchants, ship-chandlers, and moneychangers. Gold Street makes a dazzling display; presenting a long line of jewellers' shops, filled with chains, crucifixes, hearts, ear-rings, and every variety of ornaments made of gold--saints, glories, remonstrances, fonts for holy water, lamps, and apostles, for the churches, in silver, and Brazilian gems and stones in abundance, especially diamonds and topazes. But the Rua do Ouvidor pleased us beyond any of the others; though, like most of the streets in Rio Janeiro, it is narrow, and badly paved with rough stones, over which an occasional chariot, containing some fair senora or Brazilian don, rushes along, drawn by stately mules, their trappings ornamented with
[Image of page 254]
silver, urged to their full speed by black postilions, to the imminent risk of any one who may happen to step an inch off the pavement. But although thus narrow and badly paved, the shops are really handsome, and the profusion of "bijouterie" arranged for sale is quite curious. We paused before the windows of the confectioner, and there saw divers conceits in sugar and paste--little Don Pedros (perfect images of the Emperor), singularly wrought out of white sugar, whole length ladies and madonnas in clear sugar-candy, and coloured busts of the same sweet material, so large and lifelike that we imagined them to be "dummies" from the peruquier opposite. But the glory of the Rua do Ouvidor are the salons of the artificial florists; which are full, not of flowers only, but of pretty girls, French and Portuguese, who sit, pale and pensive, amidst the scentless bouquets that surround them on all sides, the work of their busy and delicate fingers. In one of the principal of these salons, at a late hour at night, we observed, on looking down the long vista of nosegays formed of feathers, at least forty young girls arranged in two rows, twenty on a side, behind long counters, all busily employed To make this tableau of beauty complete, mirrors were placed at the end of the salon, so that we beheld, to our admiration and amazement, eighty young girls, many of them mere children, all zealously and determinately creating roses, lilies, and every known species of flower, out of feathers and beetles' wings. A lynx-eyed Portuguese dame, ad-
[Image of page 255]
PANORAMA OF RIO FROM THE CASTLE HILL.
vanced in years--evidently the mistress, duenna, or dragon of the poor little mam'selles--kept an incessant look out, up and down the counters, to see that all went on as it ought to do; and close to the spacious portals of the salon, opening upon the street, there were stationed, like the syrens of Scylla, two of the prettiest girls, full of naivete and wit, each at a little table, on which were arranged several of the choicest bouquets, that they might lure the passers-by into making a purchase. The girls spoke French, and were very good-looking, and the flowers were truly exquisite. Who could refrain from entering, and refuse to buy? Not we. Mma. Va. Labbe gave us a card, which ran thus: --"Fabrica de flores de todas as qualidades; limpa-se e tinge-se pennas;" and we left the Rua do Ouvidor, with its syrens and flowers.
The next morning rose like a bright dream: life, and light, and sunshine, were abroad. Before six o'clock we were upon the castle-hill--one of the steep bluff eminences that rise abruptly from amidst the city--from whence we looked down upon its myriads of red-tiled roofs, and its numerous churches and convents, as from a balcony. The dew still hung thickly on the verdant grass, and the banana had not yet waved before the refreshing sea-breeze. It was the moment of calm and silent loveliness that heralds the tropical sunrise, when Nature, refreshed by the gentle night-dews, has not yet begun to droop beneath the fervent noontide heat. And, at
[Image of page 256]
PANORAMA OF RIO FROM THE CASTLE HILL.
this early hour, the insect world was busy: thousands of butterflies hovered over the dewy and sweet-scented bushes, gemming the windless atmosphere with their loveliness. Beyond the city, and its scattered and picturesque suburbs, the noble harbour extended like a vast mirror, sprinkled with ships of all nations; and boats, with snow-white latine sails, lay asleep upon its bosom. Mountains, islands, and the distant hazy ocean; convents, whose white walls peeped from amongst palm trees and deepest foliage; scattered cottages, embowered in rich gardens; and stately villas, terraces, and aqueducts, --all glittered in the first beams of day; and this fairy panorama was completed by the distant ranges of the Montes Orgaos, the Gavia, and the Corcovado, looming dim and shadowy amongst the clouds; with the huge Sugar-Loaf peak at the entrance of the harbour, towering above the wreath of mist that encircled its almost perpendicular sides.
At ten o'clock the thermometer stood at 92 deg. in the shade; and it was not until after the sea-breeze set in, that the heat became tolerable. We rambled for several miles along the romantic pathway that leads towards Tijuca and the Corcovado, and follows the course of the aqueduct which conveys water to the city from the neighbouring mountains. The views, at every turn of the road, are exceedingly picturesque; commanding beautiful glimpses of the city and the harbour, with its islands, and the distant mountains beyond. The aqueduct is carried down
[Image of page 257]
THE AQUEDUCT OF RIO.
a gradual descent along the spurs of the hills, until it reaches the convent of Santa Teresa, overlooking part of the city; here, a series of magnificent arches conveys the water across an extensive valley, to that portion of the city near San Francisco, where it is supplied to the inhabitants from a fountain with at least twenty brazen taps: the water is, in a similar manner, conducted to various parts of the city. Although the aqueduct is covered in with stonework, and the water is thus kept delightfully cool during its passage from the mountains, there are here and there apertures, with iron railings, at which the pedestrian may slake his thirst; and it is usual to carry a small drinking-cup, made for the purpose out of a young cocoa-nut shell. Passing the convent of Santa Teresa, which is picturesquely situated on an elevated plateau overlooking the city, we at once get into the country, and become surrounded on every side with the richness of tropical vegetation; here and there a pretty cottage or country-house, half hid amidst the shade of bananas and cocoa-nuts, displays its red tileing, the pure white of the building forming a strong contrast to the deep greens of the surrounding foliage.
Perhaps, amidst all the glory of the tropics, nothing strikes the eye of a stranger more, especially in Brazil, than the resplendent profusion of insect life: butterflies of countless varieties, and many of them of enormous magnitude, displaying the most gorgeous tints of colour,
[Image of page 258]
RESPLENDENT PROFUSION OF INSECTS.
float through the sunny air, skimming along with the rapidity of thought, --now descending suddenly from the top of some stately palm, and then flitting from bush to bush, in and out among the foliage, --until the eye becomes bewildered with their fascinating beauty; again, perhaps, some superb variety, of bird-like size, will flit past, borne through the still air on silent pinions, glancing along the vista of chequered shade and sunlight, and startling one with its sudden and meteor-like appearance. It is a sight indescribably beautiful to the lover of nature, to watch these brilliant creatures flash in the sunshine, and to ramble amidst scented blossoms, where the humming-birds are busy like bees around the jessamine, the coffee blossom, and the long slender bells of the trumpet flower.
It was evening before we returned from our delightful ramble: for, when weary, we lay down to rest in the green shade, and regaled ourselves with refreshing draughts of the cool water from the aqueduct; and then, after strolling here and there in search of new beauties, we would rest again upon the shady turf, and contrast all this loveliness with the monotony of the dark and tempestuous ocean we had so long been traversing.
At sunset we entered the convent of St. Catherina, where vespers were being sung. The nuns and novices of this convent are very numerous; and it is customary with the Brazilians to immure their wives
[Image of page 259]
CONVENTS OF ST. CATHERINA AND SAO BENTO.
occasionally in this convent, that the ladies may be securely guarded during the absence of their lords on a journey into the interior. We had heard the nuns spoken of as very handsome, but could not see sufficient of them to judge of their claims to personal beauty, as a thick and very close lattice-work separated the gallery of the nuns from the outer portion of the church, through which their forms were but dimly visible; but their rich mellow voices, chanting the vesper hymn, produced a sweet harmony, seeming, like the song of the caged nightingale, sweeter and more pensive from the songsters being imprisoned.
The richest convent in Brazil is that of Sao Bento; an extensive building, crowning an eminence at the top of Rua Direita, and overlooking the harbour and the Ilha das Cobras, or Isle of Snakes. From the entrance gate of the convent, a magnificent view of at least half the city is obtained; and the numerous windows, looking out of the cells and corridors of the building on every side, command different prospects, all of great beauty. The chapel of Sao Bento is one rich piece of emblazonry in gold and marble. The pillars, sides, and roof are all gilt and ornamented with the most elaborate carving and arabesque work, and the effect of this stupendous mass of rich decoration is almost overpowering. Lamps of solid silver, at least twelve feet in height, and of enormous weight, are suspended from the gorgeous roof of this golden chapel. Most of the wealth of the monks of Sao
[Image of page 260]
Bento consists of land and diamond mines, and many of the brotherhood belong to Brazilian families of distinction.
We spent an evening with a friend at his country house, situated amongst the hills at the back of Bahia da Gloria, and enjoyed the luxury of a night ramble. The vegetation was gemmed with fire-flies, flitting like sparks over the low bushes, and shining in dark places with their pale green light, illuminating every dell as with a thousand restless stars--
"Sorrowing we beheld
The night come on, but soon did night display
More wonders than it veiled--innumerous tribes
From the wood cover swarmed, and darkness made
Their beauties visible: one while they streamed
A bright blue radiance on the flowers that closed
Their gorgeous colours from the eye of day;
Now, motionless and dark, eluded search,
Self-shrouded; and anon, starring the sky,
Rose like a shower of fire!"
With the first beams of the sun, the humming birds were darting into the bells of the campanula, and hovering over the jessamine, thrusting their slender beaks into the flowers to extract the honey they contain. I took a dewy walk amongst the coffee plantations in search of insects; amongst the most remarkable of those I obtained was a caterpillar about four inches long, of a pale green colour, armed with poisonous spines that projected from its body all over to the length of half an inch. This singular
[Image of page 261]
BAHIA DA GLORIA--BOTO FOGO.
caterpillar was feeding on the jessamine, and on handling it I experienced violent pain and irritation, as though my hand had been stung by a nettle.
Bahia da Gloria, or the Bay of Glory, is an enchanting spot, worthy of its name. Here are situated the residences of most of the Brazilian nobility; and the white villas, together with the church of Sta. Maria da Gloria, ornamenting the richly wooded sides of this deep and picturesque bay, combined with the intense blue of the water and the bright tropical atmosphere, render it almost a fairy scene.
Further on round the promontory, after passing Bahia da Gloria, is the secluded and landlocked Bay of Boto Fogo; backed by steep mountains and rocks, that, attracting the moisture from the clouds, are frequently wrapped in mist. The Sugar Loaf mountain forms a conspicuous object across this bay, shutting in the entrance to the harbour; and the scattered village of Boto Fogo lies along the margin of the shore, looking upon the water, while at the foot of the steep mountains behind, are gardens and glens of the most luxuriant foliage.
In the damp and shady recesses about Boto Fogo, are plants and parasites of uncommon beauty. I observed on the sea-shore beyond the bay no less than four species of convolvulus, all displaying their gay blossoms within the space of a few yards.
About eight miles from Rio Janeiro, beyond Boto
[Image of page 262]
VIEW FROM THE MOUNTAINS.
Fogo, there is a lovely mountain-path leading to a ruined archway on the summit of the mountain-ridge that divides the harbour from the ocean. I pursued it alone, and never shall I forget the silent rapture with which I stood by that arch and gazed around; looking down upon the gay harbour and the distant city on the one hand, while on the other lay a waste of wild and dreary sand-hills, intersected with, glens of rich foliage, bounded by the immeasurable ocean--the vast Atlantic. There was no sound save the distant roar of the sea, every wave of which I could see distinctly break along the shore for miles; and no sign of life but the busy throng of insects flitting around, and an occasional serpent gliding stealthily into the bushes.
I descended to the sea-shore and bathed in the surf. The sandy plain and the hill sides adjoining were clothed with magnificent plants. The cactus here attained a height of ten or twelve feet, and the yucca, the aloe, and the palm, grew in unchecked luxuriance, whilst at every step some new and beautiful shrub would meet the eye.
During my stay in Brazil, I was introduced to the celebrated Rugendas, the French artist, whose pictures of South American scenery are so justly esteemed. Rugendas had not long since returned from a sketching tour amongst the Andes of Chili. I accompanied him to the annual exhibition of paintings at the National Academy in Rio Janeiro on the opening day. The rooms were decorated with a
[Image of page 263]
EXHIBITION OF ART IN RIO.
profusion of flowers, and the stone floors of the various apartments were strewn with the leaves of laurel and bay. Two rooms were devoted to the chalk-drawings and other productions of the students during the past year. Several pieces of sculpture were exhibited of considerable merit. The best pictures--for there were about half a dozen very clever ones amongst an alarming quantity of trash--were a couple of exquisite landscapes; three paintings by Rugendas -- "Wild Horses on the Pampas," "Thirsty Travellers arriving at a Boiling Stream," and "Crossing a Glacier of the Andes,"--and a wonderfully painted Scripture piece, by Barraudio, -- "The Murder of the Innocents,"--in which the expression of horror is admirably portrayed. There were many indifferent portraits, and amongst them two of the Emperor. Although the fine arts have not been much patronized in the New World, it is gratifying to observe that the Brazilians are following in the march of intellect.
The palace of the Emperor is a plain building, forming two sides of a quadrangle, facing the landing place near Pharoux' Hotel. The guards wear a blue uniform, and it is amusing to see regiments composed of awkward figures of all heights, chiefly Creoles and mulattoes, going through their exercise in the streets.
The market of Rio Janeiro is well stocked with fruit, vegetables, and fish. It is situated close to the public fountains on the quay, at one side of the Palace-square.
[Image of page 264]
POPULATION OF RIO.
Numerous emigrants are annually arriving in Brazil from Lisbon and Oporto, and these constitute the most hard-working and industrious portion of the population; there are also several bodies of Swiss emigrants, who have established themselves in villages high up in the Montes Orgaos, or Organ Mountains. The coloured population are the most numerous; they present fine athletic figures, and the negresses render the streets picturesque by their gaudy costume. Some of these people I observed in the streets, belong originally to a peculiar African tribe, who have their faces curiously tattoed, or studded with a row of excrescences, like warts, extending from the forehead, down the centre of the nose, and over the lips and chin, giving to the countenance, when seen in profile, a strange and repulsive appearance. Elephantiasis and leprosy are of frequent occurrence amongst the negroes: the former disease causes the feet and legs to enlarge enormously, and grow horny and distorted; and I have seen poor creatures afflicted with this hideous and loathsome disorder, whose feet actually resembled those of an elephant more than of a human being.
The church of the Candellaria, and the monastery of San Francisco, are well worthy of a visit; as is also the chapel of the Emperor. Near the latter is a building once used as the Inquisition, which has lately been abolished.
Towards evening I entered the chapel of the
[Image of page 265]
GRAND FUNERAL OF A CHILD.
Benedictines, where some ceremony was going forward, and curiosity tempted me to linger a while. A long row of men in black and white surplices lined each side of the grand aisle, and on an elevated stand in the centre, before the altar, was a box of crimson velvet, lined with white satin, and decorated all round with bunches of artificial flowers, containing what I at first imagined to be an exquisitely wrought figure in wax, of some saint for whom they were performing mass. At the conclusion of the mass the box was shut, and carried in procession out of the church to an enclosed garden, full of sepulchres, in the high rocky sides of which were niches for sealing up the dead. I followed amidst the crowd, who halted with the priests before a small altar beneath a verandah in the garden. The velvet case was again opened to sprinkle holy water upon the figure within, and I discovered, being now close to the altar, that what I had mistaken for a wax image was in reality a lovely dead infant; there was a bloom on its cheek, and the long silken fringes that so gently shadowed its closed eyelids made one think that it was only asleep, and would wake again: the perspiration, too, stood on its forehead, but it was the clammy sweat of death. The corpse was robed in blue satin, trimmed with rich lace, and a flower was placed in its hand. After a censer of incense had been swung for some time above the body, the lid was shut down, and the case secured by a lock and key; the beautiful crimson velvet of
[Image of page 266]
GRAND FUNERAL CEREMONY.
the exterior was then cut crosswise in gashes with a knife, as though to mark that corruption and decay had now claimed it for their own; and the remains of this infant of rank were sealed up in one of the niches that occupied the wall of this sepulchral garden. It was a strange, solemn place: the day was setting in glory, and the last beams from the sun stole across the gloom of the garden, burnishing the tops of the cypress trees, and leaving the tombs and monuments below in dark and silent shade.
On the evening of the following day, which was one of incessant heavy rain, the funeral of Don Silva, the Prime Minister of Brazil, took place, at the convent of Sao Bento. He was buried by torch-light, with military honours; a large cavalcade of horse soldiery formed a part of the procession, and the cannon continued firing till nearly midnight.
Steam-boats ply from Rio Janeiro to the various places on the opposite shores of the harbour. Perhaps the most interesting of these is Praiha Grande; and the inhabitants from the city frequently resort thither to enjoy the fresh air, and the retirement of the country.
We spent a very pleasant day at Praiha Grande and Braganza, and in rambling over the hills and amongst the coffee and sugar plantations in the neighbourhood. The orange gardens here are delicious, and on the rocks beyond the Praiha Grande the cactus grows to an enormous size. Beneath a shady
[Image of page 267]
PRAIHA GRANDE AND ITS VICINITY.
avenue of trees along the water-side, the company who arrive from Rio Janeiro may be seen seated at tables in the open air, enjoying the sea-breeze, and diverting themselves with cards or dice. And from a ruined fort at the extremity of the bay, a fine view is obtained of the surrounding harbour, with the vessels going in and out, of the distant mountains behind Rio Janeiro, and of that city itself upon the opposite shore, with its churches and convents glittering in the sunshine.
There are some lovely spots around Praiha Grande: deep glens, shaded from the sun by palms and bananas; dark lanes, along which the butterflies flit with gaudy pinions, gemming the sultry air with their beauty; and quiet nooks by the sea-shore, in secluded bays where the cool green water dashes into snowy surf in the twilight of overhanging caves. But the most delightful of all are the little gurgling streams that make music beneath the dense leaves and jungle that hide them from sight: nothing can be imagined more refreshing, on one of these midsummer days in the Southern tropic, than to find a translucent and brimming well, half revealed amongst the foliage, and to drink a copious draught of the cooling-water as it descends through a piece of bamboo into the cistern beneath.
After a long detention in Rio Janeiro--owing to some disputes with the captain, which were at length arranged by the consul to the satisfaction of the passengers--we again put to sea in the middle of
[Image of page 268]
December, beating out of the harbour with a strong sea-breeze. The Gavia mountain presents a very remarkable appearance, when viewed from the sea, resembling the profile of a man when reclining on his back. It is commonly known as Lord Hood's Nose.
Dec. 28th. --For the past fortnight we have had strong winds from the N. N. E.; which is remarkable weather, as we expected the S. E. trades shortly after leaving Rio Janeiro. After making no better course, by lying close to the wind for nine hundred miles, than E. by S., the vessel was put about; and in a couple of days' time we fell in with the S. E. trades, which carried us across the line into 3 deg. north latitude.
Dec. 31st. --Off the island of Trinidad, in the South Atlantic. Being the last night of the year, the sailors beat the old year out and the new year in--a truly barbarous and senseless mode of celebration. No sooner had orders been given to strike eight-bells, the hour of midnight, than a most furious serenade commenced upon the forecastle deck: the whole of the crew and the steerage passengers began thumping and beating upon empty casks; knocking tin cans and pots together; striking the bell, till it was almost swung off its hinges; shouting, screaming, and hurrahing: the din was perfectly deafening. Despite this noisy tumult, the good old year rolled silently away, with those that are past; and when the cheers suddenly ceased, the murmuring surges sounded
[Image of page 269]
"SPEAKING" THE FLORA.
their solemn music--a more fitting requiem for the dying year.
Jan. 23rd. --Lat. 19 deg. N. The sun, for several evenings past, has set in unclouded glory: deep golden yellow, pink, violet, and, lastly, bright azure, all blended imperceptibly into each other, have adorned the western sky; telling us that we are still within the realms of the sun, and whispering of the rainless shores of desert Africa, abreast of us; where such a sky of glory meets the Arab's gaze nightly, from year to year, till he looks and worships the glorious luminary.
Jan. 29th. --Lat. 21 deg. 35' N.; long. 37 deg. 30' W. Quantities of the gulf-weed are floating amongst the waves, driven into long lines upon the surface of the water by the action of the sea and wind.
Feb. 2nd. --Passed the Azores or Western Islands, between Flores and Pico, with a strong westerly breeze and hazy weather.
Feb. 8th. --We spoke the Flora, a large West Indiaman, twenty-eight days out from Portsmouth, bound for Jamaica; in long. 18 deg. W.; lat. 44 deg. N. She had encountered very heavy weather, and her top-gallant-masts were struck. A crowd of strange faces gazed on us for the passing moment; and we gazed on them again, looking at them as if they were some strange phenomena, and regarding with wistful eyes some fine joints of fresh meat that were hanging at the stern of the vessel: they no doubt pitied us when they saw our board with "160 days out"
[Image of page 270]
LANDING AT GRAVESEND.
marked in chalk letters upon it. But the most novel sight to us was, a lady--a real, live English lady-- on the poop-deck of the Flora, looking quite gay, in a red and yellow shawl. After a hasty interchange of civilities, away steered the Flora for the islands of the sun.
Feb. 11th. --A tremendous gale of wind set in yesterday, from E. S. E., and has continued blowing without any abatement. The vessel is laid-to, under a close-reefed main-top-sail, and the wind still "dead on end."
Feb. 17th. --This morning at daybreak, the distant hills of Ireland were in sight, near Bantry Bay. Last night, although we had not sighted the coast, yet the smell of turf-burning was clearly perceptible in the air, as the easterly wind set off the land. At four P. M., we spoke the Wanderer barque, from Gibraltar, seventeen days out: from this vessel we fortunately obtained a cask of beef and some biscuit; our provisions being nearly exhausted, and ourselves having been on short allowance, both of food and water, for the past ten days. We also obtained English papers as late as January 26th, and Gibraltar papers up to the 31st ultimo.
On the 22nd, we arrived off Dover, and took a pilot on board; and on the 23rd, at noon, I landed at Gravesend.