Last day in Rio

Events of Saturday 9th April at Rio

Saturday 9th April – this day, which was the last which we spent in Rio was a most important one. The astonishment created by the events of the two preceding days had not yet subsided – men did not know what to think, and public confidence was far from being restored. Throughout the night serious fears had been entertained for the safety of persons and property, but with the exception of a few houses broken into, and some more assassination, no worse consequences had ensued. Of course those who had reason to fear the vengeance of the Brazilian mob kept out of the way, and foreigners of every country pursued the same prudential plan. Business was still at a stand, and the shops closed. While passing thro’ the streets I met a small cavalcade headed by an officer, and accompanied by a mob of black boys, who ever and anon shouted our viva viva in gratitude for some coppers thrown to them. This officer halted several times and announced that the public tranquillity was secured inviting the inhabitants at the same time to open their stores and resume business. In the after part of the day some did so but with great caution. It was difficult to give instant credence to all that was promised – and those who declined doing so, if they erred, perhaps erred on the safe side. For three days back, soldiers in a state of intoxication, when they perceived a shop open, had been in the habit of entering them – and having obtained several articles, had refused payment, declaring “that the nation would be their paymaster.” Hence the shopkeepers having no redress for the loss they had sustained, wished to wait a little longer in order to be sure that they would be free from such arbitrary exactions for the future.

I have said that this the last day of our stay was a most important one – and I shall now inform you why it was so. I went on shore early in the forenoon and perceived some symptoms of Preparation and bustle in and near the Palace Square, as if something of consequence was about to take place. All the balconies and windows were hung with tapestry curtains &.cc throughout several streets. In the Palace Square fireworks were ready to be fired – the Imperial Chapel, and, as I found, superbly lighted and fitted up for some grand ceremony. About noon the long street of the Ouvidor began to be lined with troops, which also occupied the sides of the Rua Dereita, as far as the Chapel leaving the centre clear. Great crowds of people – dressed in their best were seen to congregate – blacks freely mingling with whites, and slaves jostling freemen on this happy occasion. Under protection of my English cockade I joined the throng, and attended with interest, tho’ without understanding much, to the animated gesticulations and language of some revolutionary spouter, who as a friend conversant with the Portuguese told me, was setting forth to his delighted auditors the advantage which they had gained – and I heard him use a most expressive term respecting the revolution that it was ‘Gloria das glorias,’ glory of glories.

Illustration of Macbeth at Rio

I had now before my eye an admirable illustration of the witches prophesy in Macbeth respecting Birnam ? wood, as I may say, without exaggeration, that the leaves and branches of many trees have been used to have supplied the vast quantity which I saw. For those, who were too poor to purchase a ribbon cockade, displayed equally well their devotion to the cause – which they had espoused by leaves of green in every button hole, a handsome bunch in their caps or hats, & a branch in their hands. Those again, who had very handsome cockades were not contented therewith but also bore about them the leafy honours of the favourite tree. In fact all Brazilians without exception carried these cheap emblems of their sentiments, and wherever a dense mass of them were collected together, it would not be a very extravagant  hyperbole to say that they bore a wood in the hands. I observed also that altho’ the green leaf was sufficient, and indicated the nation, there was a more appropriate national badge, which was likewise very beautiful, viz the beautiful leaves of a species of bay, of a green colour, with stripes of bright yellow. These however were rather scarce, and not freely obtainable.

Proclamation of the Emperor

Every minute after noon was adding to the crowd of spectators – the balconies of the houses were filled with well dressed and beautiful women accompanied by their male friends – the interior of the Chapel was thronged with a large assemblage of respectable people, Officers &.c and the passages in the centre leading to the grand altar was lined with the Emperors body servants, who by their dress (of green) with broad worsted braiding in great profusion and their long halberds reminded me strongly of out old “Toun rats.”

All these preparations indicated something important, and indeed it was generally said that the new Emperor would be proclaimed. About half-past twelve we heard the sound of distant shouting, which approached nearer & nearer until we ourselves came in turn to join in the chorus. First came some cavalry, who were received with loud vivas, and waving of handkerchiefs, probably because they had performed their part well in the drama – then an awkward squad of respectably dressed persons on horseback, with white handkerchiefs in their hands, looking as proud and as vulgar as from their present success and their former pursuits might have been expected. Not far behind these was seen a very pretty State carriage covered with red velvet, and drawn by small horses, which contained the young Emperor, and a lady of whose name I an ignorant, but whom I took to be his nurse. On the appearance of the Imperial Child, loud and repeated vivas rent the air – handkerchiefs were in constant motion, and hats were put into requisition to the great inconvenience of numbers, upon whose uncovered heads the Sun darted down his melting rays. As soon as the State Carriage had reached the entrance to the Chapel, it stopped, and the lady in attendance lifted out Don Pedro II, and having placed him on the ground, led him in by the one hand, whilst the other was held by a Gentleman in uniform. What took place in the Chapel I cannot say, as my own inclination and my curiosity induced me to prefer observing what was going on without to being sweated down in the dense congregated mass within. Hitherto the Palace Square had been tolerably free from the crowd, who had all assembled along the main street and in front of the Church – but now when there was nothing to attract their immediate attention, they spread themselves over the square and awaited what was farther to take place. Little time was permitted to them to lounge about without an object. Bodies of infantry and cavalry were marched into the square and occupied all the sides. Then followed some artillery corps with small brass pieces on carriages which were emulously r-dragged by the mob by means of a very long rope, in order I suppose to allow to as many as possible the honour of assisting. These pieces ready loaded were disposed around the square, and fronting the sea, and at a certain signal, at the time I suppose when the Emperor was proclaimed, off they went like so many pop-guns, amidst the cumulative sounds of the fireworks and the shouts of the people.

Young Emperor of Brazil

After the religious services in the Chapel had been concluded, the young Emperor was conveyed to the palace, and there presented to his subjects. I formed one of those spectators who were there met, and certainly not one of the least interested and amused, since the scene was so novel and striking.

The Emperor was brought forward to the balcony of one of the windows by the same persons, who had led him into the Chapel. He was dressed in a green coat, light tight breeches, and exactly like a little man. He appeared about 5 or 6 years of age, with full cheeks, and hair carefully arranged. When he first came forward his figure was nearly concealed by the balustrade, which overtopped his diminutive person – but in a short time a large armed chair was introduced, and placed with its back towards the people, and into this Pedro was lifted to the great amusement of a set of black rascals who were there. He was next directed to bow, whenever the people shouted “Viva Don Pedro Sequndo,” and a handkerchief was put into his hand, which he was instructed to wave occasionally. He poor boy looked astonished and timid – his countenance was expressive of wonderment but he invariably preserved the utmost gravity. It was impossible however to prevent his attention from being diverted from the part he had to play, and he frequently forgot to bow and to wave his handkerchief, until reminded by the lady, when he would mechanically resume his task – for task it evidently was – whilst it was plain that something else was in his mind. The window, where he was fronted the Bay, and from it he could see the Warspite. He was constantly turning his eye in that direction, and I hears, that he had been told, that his papa, to whom he was much attached, was there, and that he wished to see him. In the next balcony to where Don Pedro was, were places the Ex-Emperor’s three young daughters born in Brazil with their attendants, who taught them to curtsy to the people when they shouted aloud. I sincerely pitied these young and __ly victims of court ceremony and can easily conceive that they would have been glad to have escaped from their present constraint, and engaged in their childish amusements.

Ludicrous review at Rio

The public show was yet over. All the troops in the City were made to pass before the Emperor, and it was not the least amusing part of the exhibition to witness this review. The infantry and cavalry in general were not amiss in their equipments but were miserably defective in soldierly arrangements and manoeuvres. Between each regiment of the regular troops marched large bodies of the Irregulars. These consisted of volunteers – regenerators or patriots, who had thus neglected the exercise of their proper calling to seek the bubble reputation even at the cannon’s mouth. Tho’ professedly uniform and concordant in their sentiments, their dresses were as remote as possible from uniformity, and their faces in all the shades of colour were as dissimilar as their dress. What a hard employment it would have been for the drill Serjeant to have chastised into order all those who violated the military precision of the veteran? They marched before their Sovereign slowly enough, and in tolerable order – but no sooner had they passed than their ranks began to fall into confusion – one extremity of the line was far ahead of the other – and rigid distinction of right and left were confounded. No regard had been paid to size for the great and the little – the thin and the stout walked side by side. Some had ordinary hats, others something a la militaire. Many had soldiers musquets with which they had been supplied from the Arsenal, while others, who could not obtain these, rather than not shew their zeal in this way, had furnished themselves with fowling pieces, blunderbusses and nondescript instruments. Not a few also in addition to these respectable weapons had bayonets or swords with two pistols stuck ostentatiously in their belts. I could not help thinking, after viewing the whole, what ad despicable appearance they made and that a very inferior English or French force would make [soul?] of them scamper off like timid hares.

When the review was over the Emperor was led away into the palace – the crowd dispersed with a few vivas, and matters returned to their usual channel. I was on shore all day and also at night and neither received nor observed any violence or insult, so that we shall have left Rio in the enjoyment of apparent tranquillity and order – with an established government – and the party, which has gained the ascendancy disposed not to exercise with cruelty their victory over their former opponents, to whom on the contrary they have declared, that they have nothing to fear. How sincere or treacherous they are in these professions time alone will shew – but in my opinion, their tumultuary proceedings previous to the revolution may be said to resemble the fresh breeze which would be expected to usher a gale, and give time to the mariner to take measures of precautions, altho’ they may not be eventually required – and the present tranquillity may be like the fatal calm, which is only the harbinger of the sweeping hurricane. The naturalized Luzo-Brazilians are the possessors of the greatest wealth, and if such could give it to them, of the greatest influence. They are the most industrious part of the population, and if common report speak true, they alone are fit to uphold the national commerce & to fill the public offices. It is therefore not unnatural to suppose that the native Brazilians are jealous of their wealth, and view it with a longing eye – and would gladly throw off the yoke of superiority which galls them. If such is the case, is it not probable that the Brazilians having now proved their strength, but not as yet willing or prepared to go all lengths will watch impatiently till a more fitting time shall arrive, when they may pounce upon the wealth of the Portuguese and treat them as the South American States have treated the old Spaniards. I think we may go still further without improbability and be led to expect that from the vast super excess in numbers of the blacks over the whites and the lesson they are now taught, there will be another transfer of property into their hands and a black Government established. This is indeed a consummation not devoutly to be wished for but it is one, which some would consider as an instance of retributive justice upon the white man for all the cruelties and enormities which that race have committed upon the Negroes – But a time to speculation.

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