April 24, 1849. — At sea — We spoke to-day the brig Palos, of Boston, homeward bound from Buenos Ayres. Her captain, a broad-hatted, lean-faced Yankee, cast an indifferent glance over our swarming deck, as he asked what port we were bound for. He seemed to understand the nature of our cargo right well. Britain’s convict-ships are well known in all seas.
20th. — We have a fine breeze from the east to-day, and are running southward at a rapid rate.
The Doctor has sent into my cabin a Daily News, which came by the mail on Sunday. Now, why could not Mr. Duffy have made ballads in some quiet place all his days? As if purposely to relieve the enemy from all embarrassment in their “vindication of the law,” he has allowed a petition to Government to be got up, very extensively signed, praying, that as he is totally ruined; as he has already been long confined; as he is an admirable private character; as his health is delicate; as the violent and revolutionary articles in his newspaper appeared during a period of great excitement, and extended over but a few weeks, the enemy would, of their mercy, forbear to prosecute him farther — the very thing they wished to have any decent excuse for. I say, he has allowed this petition — because no petitioners could make such implied promises of amendment without his sanction; and especially because he has not disowned the mean proceeding. It is quite in keeping with his miserable defence upon his last trial, his production of evidence to character, and his attempt to evade the responsibility of articles published by himself. Sir Lucius O’Brien, too, who presents this memorial to Lord Clarendon, takes occasion to admit the “guilt” of the culprit. With what joy the enemy must gloat upon this transaction, and exult over us and our abandoned cause! The Daily News seems very glad, as any British newspaper may well be, at the appearance of this decent excuse; says, that for its part, it rather thinks a gentleman, of so very good a private character, may be now set at liberty with perfect safety to the public. Shabby and paltry, indeed! A curse upon his private character! Yet one cannot be angry with Duffy, who need not have been expected to get himself hulked for any principle, object, or cause, whatsoever. Duffy never could sustain life without puffery; the breath of his nostrils was puff; and these teak timbers are no flatterers. When a man comes to this, he touches ground — all rose-coloured puff-clouds vanish from beneath him, and drift down the wind. Let no man live exclusively on that deleterious, flatulent pabulum — filling his belly with too much east wind. Do we not know that Widenostrils the swallower of windmills — whom Pantagruel saw in the dominions of Queen Entéléchie — when he could no longer get his customary diet, but had to chew hard kettles and frying-pans, fell away in his flesh, and at last died in the very hands of his physicians. How would Widenostrils have thriven, think you, upon a dietary of iron bars and leg-bolts? Verily, in this Bermuda, nobody seems to be sensible of the merits and fame of those fine young literary men, who, from their little coterie, breathed a new soul into Ireland.
You cannot get out of any man what is not in him; but yet this miserable grovelling of Duffy’s is a bitter disappointment to me. He had a grander opportunity than any one amongst us; and now he will let the “Government” march off the field with some semblance of having still a rag of law and constitution to cover them, when he might have torn off every shred, and shown them as they are — an armed garrison, ruling a hostile country at the bayonet’s point.
Even if “Government” should refuse compliance with this memorial, and bring him to trial again, what juror will have the heart to stand up for a prisoner who has retreated from his position? Or of what value will be his standing up? The thing is bad every way; but the end is not yet.
I suppose Mr. Duffy and his advisers, by this promise of abstinence from politics, mean to intimate that Ireland’s cause is desperate, or is not worth struggling for; mean, so far as they are concerned, to give up the country, and let the English “make a kirk or a mill of it.” And this at a time when all colour of law is taken away or perverted to the ruin of honest men; when four-fifths of the inhabitants are avowedly debarred from exercising the common functions of citizens, one-fifth of them perishing miserably of hunger, and the island occupied by troops as a hostile territory. And so the proprietor of the Nation, for his part, begs pardon — meant no harm by all those loud words of his, but was as constitutional as a Quaker all the time, and will never do the like again. So precisely the matter stands, unless this Daily News grossly mis-describes the “memorial.”
A plague of all cowards! The cause is not desperate; and it is both base and impudent to say, to mean, to think, or to hint that it is.
The Ballingarry failure is hardly, I suppose, to be treated as a criterion. A gentleman — a very estimable and worthy gentleman, certainly — goes with three or four attendants (who are wholly unknown to the people they go amongst) into the counties of Kilkenny and Tipperary, and there tells several persons they are to rise in insurrection under his guidance and free the country. He has no money, this gentleman, to pay troops: no clothing nor arms to give them, no food to keep them alive. He just exhibits a pike, and bids them follow him and free the country. Well, the people are desirous enough to free the country; let them be but half-armed, half-clothed, and one-quarter fed, and they will show what mind they are of. But this abrupt proposal of the worthy gentleman takes them by surprise. Very few of them have any arms at all. For fifty years it has been the constant policy of the hostile Government to disarm them, and twenty Arms Bills have been enacted since the Union, with that special purpose. Very politic policy it was; for the enemy knew that if once these people became familiar with arms, they would be sure to put them to the only righteous and Christian use. All kinds of weapons, therefore, for half a century back, have been associated, in the minds of Catholic Irishmen, with crime, gaols, informers, petty sessions, hand-cuffs, and policemen. And, as if that were not enough, all the influence of the constitutional agitators, and, in a great measure, of the priests also, has been exerted to make the use of arms appear a sin against God. They have not been taught that it is the prerogative of man to bear arms — that beasts alone go without them; that Arms Bills are passed by the British Parliament on the same principle on which other other robbers disarm those whom they mean to plunder. No; they have been taught such drivelling maxims as, “Let others die for their country, we prefer to live for her”; “One living patriot is worth a churchyard full of dead ones.” Now, this is not the sort of people, so debased, so benighted, and reduced, to a beastly helplessness, that you can expect to rise en masse on a call to arms, be their slavery as intolerable, their wrath as deadly, as you will. Before there can be any general arming, or aptitude to insurrection, there must first be sound manly doctrine preached and embraced. And next, there must be many desultory collisions with British troops, both in town and country, and the sight of clear steel, and of blood smoking hot, must become familiar to the eyes of men, of boys, and of women.
The American Revolution was begun by riots — “paltry riots,” on the streets of Boston. The last grand Lombard insurrection was prepared and ripened by months and years of exasperating collisions in theatres and at the comers of streets, until society became one angry ulcer; and such will for ever be the history of resistance where the oppressed people are individually high-spirited, and not emasculated by vicious teaching.
It is nothing but a pitiful excuse for desertion of the cause to cry out now, “These people do not wish for freedom, are not worthy of freedom; they would not rise at Ballingarry.” I affirm that my countrymen are not cowards, and do not love their chains; and I do hope, captive and exile as I am, to see some day an opportunity given them to prove the same.
It is too clear, however, that for the present, one excuse or another — the Ballingarry failure, the “vigour” of Government, ill-health, etc., will serve the weak and irresolute as good reasons for falling back on peaceful O’Connellism, or else! — “withdrawing from politics” — what a beggarly phrase and idea! — and so staying peacably in Ireland, becoming respectable members of society, and peeping about to find themselves dishonourable graves.
But the history of Ireland is not over yet.
I see, further, by these latest papers, that the French Republican army is actually battering the walls of Republican Rome, to compel the Romans to drive away their own chosen Triumviri (of whom that good and noble Italian, Mazzini, is the chief), and to reinstate the “monstrous regiment” of priests. There is some vile mistake here; or rather this Bonaparte, with his Odillon Barrots, and other politic monarchists about him, is a traitor to Republicanism and to France. There is a strong party opposed to him and his Government, who are all, without distinction, branded as “Socialists,” by the English Press. But I begin to imagine that the sincere and thorough-going Republicans are classed with this very party; for it is impossible that literal Fourier-Owenism should be the creed of any large body of men. Heaven knows the social problem in Modern Europe has come to be a hard one; but Fourier-Owenism is not the solution.
Would I could see some French papers: I am in the dark.
One thing is easy to see — that a stupid cant has arisen about “Order,” — as if order were the chief end of man and of society. Of course the moneyed people do their best to spread this cant. Yet what a senseless cant. Order, quotha! — there is more order in the hulks at Bermuda than in the Champs Elysees.
Hungary keeps Austria gallantly at bay. The Kaiser has called upon the Czar for aid; which he will be too ready to give. Kossuth is a great genius and hero.
But in India, the enemy have obtained a signal victory over the Seiks, and have taken and robbed Moultan, one of the cities that Bumes set for them. Moultan was very gallantly defended.
28th. — We are running near Barbadoes, and, as I hear, must tack northward again. The weather is lovely, and not oppressively hot. I am in high health, and walk and lounge on the poop lazily, and with right vacant mind, by night and day. Not being a “Member of Society,” and not having the entrée of the cuddy, I keep my own hours, dress as I like, and hold no communication save with the Doctor, and with a species of parson or “Instructor,” such as they always send in convict-ships. The skipper is an old, red-whiskered Scotchman, and the cuddy-circle is composed of the said skipper, the doctor, two tarry individuals called mates, the first and the second mate, two officers of the 91st regiment, and the parson or instructor. The skipper and the two mates, tarry but worthy persons, occasionally enter into conversation with me when I am in the humour to allow them; but the caution of the two gallant officers in that respect amuses me: these gentlemen seem resolved that they shall not be tried by court-martial for undue attention to me — and so they give me a wide berth on the poop, walking always on the side opposite to me. At first they seemed to labour under the apprehension that I would try to force myself on their society, and looked sidelong at me as a modest maid might look at some horrid man that she thinks is meditating her ravishment. They need not be at all afraid — I will not violate their British honour.
The instructor, whose name is Stewart, a Glaswegian, has very obligingly placed his books at my disposal during my voyage. He reads service to a small number of Protestants who are amongst the convicts — sets them to learn reading, and tries to make some impression on them in the way of reformation. When he speaks to me, however, he never mentions religion, which shows his discrimination. Thus I take reconnaissance of those who are to be my shipmates for two months.
July 12th — Twelfth of July. — I trust the maniacs in the North of Ireland are not cutting one another’s throats to-day.1 Yet, if they are, there is one comfort in it — those whose throats are cut will not be starved to death.
We are nearly three months at sea: never once in sight of land; and have not yet gone half way to the Cape. Such stupid navigation, I believe, has not been heard of, at least since the invention of the mariner’s compass. Three times we have crossed the line — passed three times slowly and tediously through that belt of the ocean called the “region of calms.” The captain has long since given up all hopes of reaching the Cape without touching somewhere in Brazil for provisions and water; and we are now shaping our course for Pernambuco. The crew and prisoners are on half-rations and half-allowance of water: the water has grown very bad, black, hot, and populous with living creatures. Sickness has begun to prevail both among prisoners and soldiers: and we have already pitched overboard seven corpses to the sharks. Many were frightfully ill in scurvy: fever is strongly apprehended; and as this delay has occurred in the hottest region of the globe (we are eight weeks on the very line, or within three degrees of it), the only matter of surprise is that so few have died yet. A few days ago, the Doctor issued orders to give each person only quarter-allowance of water — namely, a pint and a half in the day, to serve for cooking, for tea, and for drinking; but that very evening down came a tremendous tropical torrent of rain — and by properly arranging the awning, and fitting it with a canvas tube, ten tons of cool clear water were caught, and conducted into barrels in the hold, all within six hours. The thermometer has been for weeks at about 84 of Fahrenheit, and this glorious shower was high luxury to every one on board. When it grew dark I went out to the gangway, stark-naked, and stood there awhile, luxuriating in the plenteous shower-bath.
This gracious shower gives us a prospect of reaching Pernambuco on half instead of quarter-allowance of water.
For me, I positively enjoy everything — heat and coolness, wet and dry, whole rations, half-rations, and quarter-rations: and after basking in the sun like a tortoise all day, I smoke and drink considerably at night. Not that the sun — if one is to speak by the card — really shines much in these equinoctial regions, but the warm air is quite luxurious enough to bask in.
July 13th. — Your shark is but a puny fish: eight or nine of them have been dragged on board here since we came within the tropics, and scores have been swimming around us that would not take the bait — not one of them above five feet long, with an opening to serve for mouth hardly wide enough to admit a good cocoa-nut, and innumerable small, flat, cartilaginous, triangular teeth, so thin and weak that a good kick from a strong boot would be sure to drive sixty or seventy of them down their throats. Their flesh looks rank and coarse, and has an evil smell, even fresh killed, but a few of the sailors and prisoners eat it.
This weary “region of calms” has a strange and mysterious aspect, with a Stygian twilight hanging over it, and an infinite silence, as of the realms of Dis. The air is damp, warm, dark, almost palpable. Save one black squall, or at most two, in the day, there is not a breath of wind; but the sky is an uniform gray, and there is a heavy swell in the dark, glutinous-looking Waters. We ate altogether out of the track of ships, too, and have been many weeks rolling upon this sunless sea in ghostly solitude. I repeat often to myself:
“The very deep did rot — O Christ!
That ever this should be —
And slimy things did crawl, with legs,
Upon the slimy sea.”
If a squall comes upon us at night, and sends us for a quarter of an hour flying through the water under reefed topsails, we leave a wake of pale fire shooting far astern into outer darkness, and the foam from the ship’s bow rushes blazing past like Pyriphlegethon in sparte.
A heavy shower is always a blessing to us, and I never knew so well before the exquisite luxury of a draught of cool, fresh water — not even after half a day’s ranging over dry mountain-tops, when I came upon a green hollow, with its clear stream, or a well under the shade of some rock, hiding its diamond treasure from the thirsty sun. Sometimes I sit here for hours, watching the course of a black rain-cloud on the leaden-coloured horizon, as it sails heavily on with freight of gracious waters, and makes the “wine-dark sea” pitch-black beneath — hoping that the lazy veering tropic breezes may bear it hitherward. I keep my fierce thirst to be quenched out of its dusky bosom, patiently eschewing the black ship-liquid and lime-juice, and lustfully eyeing the wealth of sweet water that, “kerchiefed in a comely cloud,” comes this way sailing like a stately ship of Tarshish, bound for the isles of Javan or Gadire, with all her bravery on. I have visions of crystal brooks, and my ear and brain are filled with the murmuring of the Roe and Bann. I cherish and enjoy my raging thirst (hoping speedily to drown the fiery fiend in such a rushing flood), and ingeniously torment it by thinking all thirsty thoughts — of gorged wolves lapping, with dry tongues, the fountain of black water — of caravans faring through calcined Syrian deserts — of the mariner who had to bite his arm and suck the blood before he could sing out, “A sail! a sail!” But lo! now, three leagues off, or more, before my envious eyes, the disdainful rain-cloud stoops at last to the ocean, and lavishes her priceless treasure, to the last bright drop, on the ungrateful, unfruitful brine — “the wilderness wherein there is no man.” And what art thou, O Man that the bottles of heaven should decant themselves to thee? Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee? Hath the rain a father? Or who hath begotten the drops of the dew? Not I. So I must quench my enemy with the ship-liquid, qualified with a little lime-juice and sugar, and, for that matter, a glass of brandy.
July 14th. — We begin this day to feel the first breath of the south-east trade-wind; and being now as far east as 25° W. L., the captain hopes to be able on this wind to make Pernambuco in a few days, without being swept by the current to leeward of Cape St, Roque once more, in which latter case we should certainly fare very ill. I can perceive that the strong probability of making the port this time is a great relief to the surgeon-superintendent, who has been extremely. anxious for some days past. And well he may; if provisions and water should altogether run out, and the ship still far at sea, or becalmed off an unknown coast, with four hundred men on board, and three hundred of them desperate reprobates — discipline would soon vanish, and the question would be, which of the well-fed cabin-people should be first, which last devoured. The parson is rather fat, and some days ago he imparted his anxieties to me with white lips — “We shall have mutiny here,” said he. “We shall have murder, and cannibalism, and everything horrible.” I told him cannibalism was beginning to be rather common — that in Ireland people had been eating each other for some time, though lean — and I eyed his well-filled waistcoat. He shuddered visibly: said he trusted it would all end well.
July 15th. — We are, beyond all doubt, fairly in the trade-wind, and Hearing the coast of South America at the rate of 150 miles a day. Poor Dr. Dees, who has been suffering both from ill-health and anxiety, begins to look more cheerful: the chaplain eats his dinner with a better appetite — feels he is fattening for his own behoof: the gallant officers even though always exhibiting a gentlemanly sang froid, smoke, methinks, somewhat more placidly. The “belt of calms” is now behind us, and a brisk, dry, south-easterly breeze ripples the blue water: the sun once more goes blazing over the zenith in his daily course, and plunges into the sea at evening in glory unimaginable. We have passed clear out of the Acherontean pools, and revisit the blessed sunshine.
July 18th — Land! — A far-stretching, low-lying coast, within two miles a head, thickly mantled with majestic woods down to the water’s edge — tall cocoa-nut palms, standing ranked on very sea-sands — a stately, white-walled, high-towered city, extending full two miles along the shore, built down to high-water mark, and seeming hardly able to make good its footing on the edge of that unconquerable forest. On both sides of it, the vigorous vegetable life seems to mingle with houses and convents, and push itself into the streets; and as the land gently rises beyond, I can see it deeply covered for leagues, even to the tops of distant lulls, with the umbrage of untamed woods. But an hundred and twenty thousand human beings lead their lives in this city between forest and ocean; there are many great churches and monasteries of imposing Lusitanian architecture — great stores and quays, and in the harbour ships of all nations. It seems these forests are tracked by certain mule-paths, leading to pasture-prairies, and plantations of sugar, coffee, and tobacco, far inland, of which Pernambuco is the port of export. On the ships riding at anchor, besides the Brazilian green and yellow ensign, I see the North American, the French, the English, the Dutch, the Peruvian, and, on one vessel anchored about a mile from us, the yellow banner of fever.
Here we expect to secure a supply of fresh beef (of wild oxen captured by the lasso), and some water, and yams, limes, and oranges, to rout the scurvy. We are in deadly need of them.
20th. — Boats have come off to-day bringing store of oranges, limes, vegetables, and fresh-baked bread. The oranges are very large and delicious, some with a brown rind like russet-apples, and others emerald-green. I became proprietor of thirty for six-pence, and shall never, never wish to forget the brutal rapture with which I devoured six of them on the spot. Several of those who had charge of these boats and merchandise were slaves, perhaps African born (for these Brazilian ports, together with Havana, are great marts of African men). I surveyed them long and earnestly, for before this day I never saw a slave in his slavery — I mean a merchantable slave, a slave of real money-value, whom a prudent man will, in the way of business, pay for and feed afterwards. The poor slaves I have been accustomed to see are not only of no value, but their owners will go to heavy expense to get rid of them — not imported slaves, but surplus slaves for export — slaves with a Glorious Constitution, slaves with a Palladium — a Habeas Corpus to be suspended, and a trial by jury whereby they may have the comfort of being routed out of house and home, transported, and hanged at the pleasure of the “upper classes.” These slaves in Brazil are fat and merry, obviously not overworked nor underfed, and it is a pleasure to see the lazy rogues lolling in their boats, sucking a piece of green sugar-cane, and grinning and jabbering together, not knowing that there is such an atrocity as a Palladium in the whole world. Besides, the condition of slaves in any Spanish, Portuguese, or French colony, is not by any means so abject as it was under the English and is under the Americans. To the exercise of power this Anglo-Saxon race always adds insolence. Slaves in Brazil are expected to work moderately, but are not treated with contumely. They are often admitted to the society of the families they serve, and lead in some measure the life of human beings. Is it better, then, to be the slave of a merciful master and a just man, or to be serf to an Irish land-appropriator? God knoweth.
I do not pretend that I altogether like the sight of these slaves. If I were a rich man I would prefer to have my wealth in any other kind of commodity or investment — except, of course, the credit funds.
July 25th. — We have been a week lying off Pernambuco, revelling on yams and fruit. The yam is a most admirable vegetable, hardly distinguishable in taste, colour or texture, from a good potato — far better than the average of potatoes, especially in these latter years. But, though native to this fat South American soil, yams are exorbitantly dear, £20 per ton, which, indeed, seems incredible. And, while oranges are five for a penny, new milk in this land of cattle is sixpence per pint. I cannot examine or explain these “facts” in political economy, inasmuch as I am not permitted to go ashore; and, even if I were permitted, perhaps I would not ask a single question about them. Indeed, on looking over all my memorandum-book, purporting to be a journal, I find there are shamefully few “facts” in it. I have made no “additions to science.” Useful knowledge will be no whit the better for me. I remember that the indefatigable Humboldt, while he wandered in these same South American woods, observed amongst many other things, certain monkeys which always howled in the trees at sunrise; it was in the llanos of Caraccas. And that great man, by multiplied observations, ascertained that the distance at which their howling could be heard was, as near as possible, “1,705 yards.” The preciseness and importance of this “fact” has made it dwell distinctly on my memory, though I have forgotten many minor things. Now to arrive at so satisfactory a result the philosopher must have made repeated observations and careful measurement — some mornings to windward of the monkeys, and again to leeward, and then calculated the mean. Cannot I also try to observe some phenomenon or other, marine or meteorological, and enrich science? Was it not the same Baron von Humboldt who had his “cyanometer,” a delicate instrument for measuring the intensity of blue in the sky? It was an invention of that great man’s own, and he set much store by it. I do fear it is but unphilosophical to keep gazing up into this blue empyrean by day and night, like a beast, without having its intensity marked for me on a graduated scale.
July 26th. — Dr. Dees has just brought off to the ship English papers, up to 12th June; and, after a useless appeal to the English House of Lords, and judgment against them. Smith O’Brien, Meagher, O’Donoghue, and MacManus are to be sent off instantly to Van Diemen’s Land; Martin and O’Doherty are to go, too. They are all six on the high Atlantic this day. They protest against being transported, pleading that the Queen’s commutation of their sentence of death is illegal — as it is. But Ministers ask Parliament for an “Act” to make it legal. Of course they will get it, and without delay. Parliament has confidence in Ministers; and if they asked for an Act, reciting, “Whereas it is expedient that the bodies of William Smith O’Brien, etc., should be put on board the transport ship, and conveyed to —,” and thereupon enacting the same by and with the consent of the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, etc., etc., why, it would be passed for them amidst loud applause; for Parliament has confidence in her majesty’s advisers.
If at any time for one moment I hesitated about holding my transportation a high honour, I repent of that hesitation now; for John Martin, Smith O’Brien, and Thomas Meagher are transported convicts. If any Irishmen wish to be accounted an honest man, let him straightway get transported; let him aspire to be enrolled amongst those whose presence in Ireland is incompatible with the existence of the thing called “Government” there —
Aude aliquid brevibus Gyaris et carcere dignum
Si vis esse aliquis —
As matter of curious speculation, now, I shall be desirous of watching the upshot of this business, to see how a government will get on after hulking several of the very best men in the country it “governs”; and doing it not by law, but by open and avowed perversion of law. It is an experiment whose result maybe worth noting. How coolly I can write of this preternatural atrocity! But my friends are all men, not old women.
July 27th. — I have written nothing for a week. Have had a low fever, and am to-day barely able, for the first time, to crawl upon deck. We are still rocking in the roads of Pernambuco; by British tars called Penny-booker.
I do affirm before God that there are no three men now living in Ireland more reverentially obedient to law, more thoi9Ughly and devoutly loyal, than those three now on their way to the Antipodes as felons and outlaws. It is because they reverence law, and scorn and loathe the false simulacrum of law — because their souls have yearned for peace, older, justice, under the sacred majesty of law — that they sail in a convict ship to-day. Analysing, here at a distance, the character of all my acquaintances, I know not three other men so expressly formed as O’Brien, Martin, and Meagher, for a life of tranquil enjoyment, and the discharge of all peaceful duties in proud obedience to the laws of the land. But they could not stand by and see diabolical injustice wrought without end, under this foul pretence of law — they would not be parties to the slaughter of their countrymen by millions that this foul pretence of law might flourish for ages to come — “And of its fruit their babes might eat and die.” — Therefore they sail this day in a convict-ship with the concentrated quintessence of all the offal of mankind.
For my own part, if I had indeed been convicted of a crime against the laws of my country I could not support my life — the load of my shame would be too heavy for me to bear.
Will a day ever come to set these things right? Possibly never on earth. “That which is crooked cannot be made straight, and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.”
I have just had a visit from two American ship-captains, whose vessels lie here. They approached me most reverentially, gave me some fine language, and very probably took notes of me.2
August 4th. — A merchant on shore, of the name of Dowsley, has sent me a hamper of fruit. He says he is an Irishman, and claims a right to show me civility on that account.
Have not of course asked leave to go ashore, though probably I might have leave for the asking — but I ask for nothing. I remember, if that be any comfort — that Prince Louis Bonaparte, when he was transported in Louis Philippe’s time, and his ship lay in the harbour of Rio on this same coast, was kept in close custody on board, and not permitted to set a foot on shore notwithstanding urgent entreaty. One would not neglect any topic of consolation that turns up. The mates and the doctor, however, who have visited the city, tell me it is a very bustling place of business, with dirty and narrow streets, barely wide enough for two loaded mules to pass — no carriages, a great many pretty women, Portuguese and Quadronas, white and brown — tell me, in short, what anybody may find in books.
The enemy thinks I am dead. In a parliamentary report in one of the papers, I read that the Home Secretary, replying to some inquiries about me on the 3rd April, spoke as follows:
“On his arrival at Bermuda, he was found to be in such a state of health that his prolonged sojourn in that island was out of the question. It was accordingly arranged [after a solitary ‘sojourn’ of ten months] that he should be transported to the Cape of Good Hope, where he would be allowed a ‘ticket-of-leave,’ in the event of his surviving till he reached that colony — a contingency which, judging by the most recent accounts of his health, appeared to be very doubtful.”
Let the Secretary be comforted. He will rejoice when he learns that a sea-voyage has been so beneficial to his interesting patient’s health. It may be, after all, that the rogues want to kill me.
August 9th. — Pernambuco still: we are now nearly three weeks at anchor here, and not yet supplied with stores for our onward voyage. The reason is, we are lying in an open roadstead two miles from land, exposed to the unbroken roll of the Atlantic; and usually the swell is so high that the merchant who has contracted to supply us cannot induce the people to come out in their lighters. Then, perhaps, a fine day comes, but it is a holiday, so the bells are all ringing, the people in their gala dresses, and nothing to be done. Our people, skipper and mates —— the lazy foreign lubbers. “Think of the excuse the rascals make,” said the mate to me — “They don’t choose to risk the loss of their slaves coming off in this weather — —— their eyes! Why, English or American boatmen would have finished the job long ago.” Indeed, the Brazilian people who come off to the ship take the impatience of these English coolly, and as a matter of course — they expect it always, and seem to regard headlong hurry as a national disease, pitying the sufferers, but taking good care not to be affected themselves. I do respect an indolent nation, a nation that will take its time, will take its holidays, and will not risk the loss of its slaves. Your English and Yankees go too much ahead — hardly give themselves time to sleep and eat, let alone praying — keep the social machinery working at too high a pressure (endangering the bursting of their boilers), and for ever out of breath. Do they call this living?
Long life, then, to the subjects of the Emperor — seeing they insist upon living all their lives: long and easy life to them: long may they reap without need of sowing — may the forest yield them store of plaintain and spontaneous cassava-bread — may their sugarcanes drop abundant sweetness, and boundless prairies rear them countless herds! — So shall holidays abound, and the Virgin and all saints be duly honoured.
1 For the elucidation of this passage to American readers, I should mention that the 12th of July is the principal anniversary consecrated by the Northern Orangemen, to celebrate the Victories of the Dutch King of England over their own countrymen.
2 So they did. I have just read in the Dublin Freeman’s Journal, the account which these worthy skippers gave of their interview. Bothwell, V.D.L.,12th August, 1850.