Imágenes de páginas

tained correct views as to the practicability of forming a canal to connect the waters of Lake Erie with the Hudson river; and the importance of this great work so engaged his feelings, that besides the papers already mentioned, on canal navigation, he published a series on the same subject, under the title of Atticus. These papers were so well received, that many thousand copies have been circulated through the medium of newspapers, and the pamphlet itself has been several times reprinted.

In the year 1810, Dr. Williamson was appointed by the New York Historical Society, to deliver the anniversary discourse, illustrative of the objects of that institution: he readily complied with their request, and upon that occasion selected for his subject," the benefits of Civil History.” That discourse is evidently the result of much reading and reflection.

In 1814, associated with the present governor of this state, and some other gentlemen friendly to the interests of science, and desirous to promote the literary reputation of the state of New York, Dr. Williamson took an active part in the formation and establishment of the Literary and Philosophical Society of this city; and contributed to its advancement by the publication of a valuable paper

in the first volume of its transactions. The life of this excellent man was now drawing to its close. Hitherto, by means of the uniform temperance and regularity of his habits, he had, with very few exceptions, been protected from any return of those pulmonary complaints with which he had been affected in his youth. His intellectual faculties remained to the last period of his life unbroken, and in their full vigor.

He died on the 22d day of May, 1819, in the 85th year of his age.

It remains for me to detain you, while I offer a few observations illustrative of such parts of Dr. Williamson's character as are not embraced in the details that have already occupied our attention.

In his conversation, Dr. Williamson was pleasant facetious, and animated; occasionally indulging in wit and satire; alway remarkable for the strength of his expressions, and an emphatic manner of utterance, accompanied with a peculiarity of gesticulation,

* His excellency De Witt Clinton.

originally in part ascribable to the impulse of an active mind, but which early in life had become an established habit.

As was to be expected from the education of Dr. Williamson, and from his long and extensive intercourse with the world, his manners, though in some respects eccentric, were generally those of a polite, well bred gentleman. Occasionally, however, when he met with persons who either displayed great ignorance, want of moral character, or a disregard for religious truth, he expressed his feelings and opinions in such manner, as distinctly to show them they possessed no claim to his respect. To such, both his language

and manner might be considered as abrupt, if not possessing a degree of what might be denominated Johnsonian rudeness.

His style, both in conversation and in writing, was simple, concise, perspicuous, and remarkable for its strength; always displaying correctness of thought, and logical precision. In the order too and disposal of his discourse, whether real or written, such was the close connexion of its parts, and the dependence of one proposition upon that which preceded it, that it became easy to discern the influence of his early predilection for mathematical investigation. The same habit of analysis, arising from “ the purifying influence of geometrical demonstration,” led him to avoid that profusion of language, with which it has become customary with some writers to dilute their thoughts: in like manner, he carefully abstained from that embroidery of words which a modern and vitiated taste has rendered too prevalent.

Under the impressions and precepts he had very early received, no circumstances could ever induce him to depart from that line of conduct which his understanding had informed him was correct. His constancy of character, the obstinacy I may say of his integrity, whether in the minor concerns of private life, or in the performance of his public duties, became proverbial with all who knew him. Nothing could ever induce him

" To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind.”

[ocr errors]

ART. XII.--Notes on Rio De Janeiro, and the Southern parts of

Brazil, taken during a Residence of Ten Years in that Country, from 1808 to 1818. By John LUOCOCK. London: Leigh, 1820. 4to. Pp. 639. From an English Journal.

We fell in with this volume somewhat accidentally, as it does not seem to have had the advantage of that publicity, now so generally obtained through the medium of newspapers and literary journals; but we were induced, by the attractive nature of its title, to look into it; and, we can freely say, we think it replete with matter so curious and important, and to be so ably written, as to give it a well-founded claim to our best offices. Its author visited the country, which he describes, in the capacity of a merchant. Though he is a man of no pretensions, he shows himself to be possessed of very various knowledge, remarkable candour, much good sense, and genuine British feelings; and to these qualifications he seems to have added a talent for observation, with an industry disposing him to record whatever came under his notice. As his business led him to make several journies into the interior of the country, and to have intercourse with men of very different characters and conditions, he was enabled to collect a mass of materials, descriptive of the geography, the agriculture, the commerce, the social and the political state of Brazil—of all which, the volume before us is the result and is arranged according to the order of the time when its miscellaneous information was collected. It is far from being of equal value-many of the details are rather too minute and the style, though in general perspicuous and pure, is not unfrequently marked by a tinge of affectation. But, most assuredly, the work is highly creditable to its author, and much of what it communicates, especially respecting the improvements made in St. Sebastian, the capital, since the court became resident there, is peculiarly interesting.

Our author describes the streets of that city as straight and narrow, paved in the middle with granite, but without raised or separate foot-paths. The houses are constructed of stone, with some attention to uniformity, and are generally two or three stories in height, the ground floor being commonly used as a shop or a warehouse, and the upper stories accommodating families. In 1808, when Mr. Luccock's Notes commenced, the projections called jealousies, constructed so as to allow persons to look down. wards into the street, without being seen themselves, jutted out from the upper windows, and gave a heavy suspicious appearance to the houses, besides rendering the streets dull, and indicating that the inhabitants had little sociability. A few months after the arrival of our author, an order was issued by the regent to cut them down to modern balconies; and the ostensible reason for the change was a wish to make an improvement in the appearance of the city, corresponding with its advancement in the scale of privileges and importance; but the real cause, it was reported,"

says Mr. Luccock, "was an apprehension that, sooner or later these jealousies might become ambuscades for assassins, who, unseen and unsuspected, might from thence discharge a fatal bullet.”—“Be this as it may,” he continues, the regent, by a stroke of his

pen, has done more to promote the health and comfort of Rio, than could have been effected by the suggestions of foreigners, backed with all the force of reason, in a whole century."

In the outskirts of the town, the streets were unpaved, the houses of one floor, low, small, and dirty; and the doors and windows were of lattice-work, opening outward to the annoyance


passengers. The retail shops were chiefly on the Rua Da-Qui-Tandi, the wholesale warehouses nearer the water; and this distinction, of such consequence to foreign traders, together with the crowd of people in the streets, inspired Mr. Luccock with hopes of finding at St. Sebastian a good market for British commodities. He estimated the number of the inhabitants, at this time, at sixty thousand, of whom one-third were white people or mulattoes; and he arranges the whole into the following classes; 1000 connected with the court; 1000 in public offices; 1000 resident in the city, but drawing their revenue from lands or ships; 700 priests; 500 lawyers; 200 medical men; 40 regular merchants; 2000 retailers; 4000 clerks, apprentices, and commercial servants; 1250 mechanics; 100 vintners, commonly called venda-keepers; 300 fishermen; 1000 soldiers of the line; 1000 sailors belonging to the port; 1000 free negroes; 12,000 slaves; 4000 females at the head of families, and about 29,000 children. This last number, he notices, is small, but it seems that few children comparatively are born in Rio; many are carried off in infancy by improper treatment; the children of slaves are placed in the same list with their parents, as belonging to the same class; and, “it is painful to add, that means of the vilest nature are often employed to prevent the birth of children, and that infanticide is by no means uncommon.”.

Beef is one of the most important articles of food in this city; but the sale of it being a monopoly, there is only one slaughterhouse, which, with the carts used to convey the meat to the licensed shops, is disgustingly filthy. Carne-secca, beef, cut into flitches and dried in the sun, is in common use in the city. Mutton is in small request, the people alleging, perhaps jestingly, though quoting Scripture, that it is not proper food for Christians, and for the same reason, a fortiori, we presume, lamb is never eaten by them. The vealused is obtained from animals of a year old. Pork is eaten with avidity; but as the swine devour many of the reptiles with which the country abounds, their flesh is not palatable, and perhaps not very wholesome. Fish is equally various and abundant, and most kinds of European poultry are exposed to sale. Wheat-flour bread is used; but the powder called Farinha, the produce of the Mandioca or Cassava root, is, in Brazil, the staff of life. It is eaten with orange juice, or gravy; and the negroes give it a slight boiling. Our culinary vegetables thrive


well, and are much valued; and those called Feijam, different sorts of kidney beans, are as common in Brazil as potatoes with us. Fruits, both those which thrive in Europe, and many peculiar to the country, are abundant, and are either eaten raw or made into sweetmeats. The cultivation of the grape was prohibited, to prevent interference with the staple produce of Portugal; and the wines in common use are the poorest sorts yielded by the vineyards. of Portugal and Spain. Milk, butter, and cheese are scarce, and of inferior quality. “ The butter in use was generally Irish, and its state may be conjectured, without much danger of material error.”

The reflection of the sun's rays from the surrounding rocks makes the heat of Rio extremely intense. Mr. Luccock has seen Fahrenheit's thermometer in the sun at 1300, and 960 in the shade. The sea breeze, which is a great comfort in these parched regions, begins about eleven o'clock, and continues to blow till sun-set; then a sultry state of air, with a heavy dew, ensues; after which the land breeze rises and blows till morning. The dry season breaks up towards the end of September with thunder and lightning, and the heaviest rains fall in November. An eruption, called the prickly heat, bilious complaints, fevers, elephantiasis, and small-pox, are the most common diseases, but perhaps filthiness and vice contribute more to their formation than the climate.

“Our countrymen who carry good looks to Brazil, seldom fail soon to lose them; but there is more change in appearance than in reality. Where they have been indisposed, their ailments were not, in general, to be ascribed to the climate, or to the sickliness of the country. If they arrived in health, they were at first little af. fected by the heat, used more exertion, and required less indulgence, than the natives. They partook more of the common lassitude in the second or third year, and then appeared to need the repose of the afternoon, as much as those who had been accustomed to it from their birth. The more important effects of change of climate appeared to depend greatly on constitution, previous habits, and on the modes of living, which were adopted. With their utmost care, however, many of them

ell into bilious complaints, which they might probably have escaped at home, and suffered from them more than the old inhabitants."

The author has a long chapter on the public buildings, institutions, &c. of the city, from which we shall content ourselves by. taking three extracts, one of them descriptive of the funerals in Rio, and the others strongly expressive of the degrading influence of superstition, all of them, therefore, unpleasant to be sure, but quite characteristic.

“The body was conveyed through the streets in a sort of open litter, or rather tray, covered with black velvet, ornamented with gold lace, and furnished, like European coffins, with eight handles.

« AnteriorContinuar »