« PreviousContinue »
who has done more toward illustruting the theory of universal gravitation, and explaining the grand operations of nature, than even Newton,--this greatest of living philosophers, is also classed among the most obstinate of atheists would rob of his glory “ Him who upholdeth the heavens by the word of his power," and with infinitely more than pagan absurdity deify chance! How extraordinary is it, that while the profoundest investigations of men of science, serve to corroborate the reasonings of the moral philosopher, and to confirm the declarations of Scripture, some of those who devote their lives to these investigations, should shut their eyes as well against the light struck out by their own researches as against the light of divine truth, and continue to
dwell in the region of the shadow of death ?” But we have touched upon this subject on a former occasion*; and must break the thread of our present remarks.
Art. III. History of Brazil; by Robert Southey. Part the First. 4to. · pp. 675. Price 21. 28. Longman and Co. 1810. MR. Southey begins his work by observing, that the history
of Brazil is less beautiful than that of the mother country, and less splendid than that of the Portuguese in Asia; but it is not less important than either. If we cannot agree with Mr. Southey as to the importance of the subject on which he has chosen to bestow his labours, it certainly springs from no wish to depreciate any thing which comes from his pen. It is always with a very different sentiment, that we open the presents be has made to the literary world.
We do not consider any one of the three histories, or branches of history, that of the Portuguese at home, in India, or in Brazil, as possessing any very eminent degree of importance; but of all the three, we regard the bistory of Brazil as by far the least calculated either to amuse or instruct. The history of Portugal itself is of very little use in illustrating the history of society in Europe, in presenting any curious displays of human nature in individuals, in affording lessons to others by. the wisdom which has directed her government, or in giving an exercise to the imagination and passions by the magnitude of the events it exhibits. The history of the Portuguese in India, as they were the first to render the inhabitants of modern Europe acquainted with a people whose social economy was very singular and remarkable, pos. sesses the largest share of novelty; but the light which on
* Account of Laplace's Exposition, E. R. Vol. V. pp. 892, 3.
those subjects they imparted was comparatively so dim, and the actions they performed so inconsiderable, that in the history of the Europeans in India, the history of the Portuguese forms a very subordinate chapter. As for the trags. actions of the Portuguese in Brazil, they appear to us, in every point of view, of slender importance. The adventures of those who first explored and settled in the country, the difficulty of their marches, and their contests with the savage inhabitants, not only present almost always the same unvaried aspect, but agree so exactly with what occurred in the much more splendid adventures of the Spaniards in the new world, that a very short outline of the principal facts, is all the history from which any utility can arise. Even the account of the savage tribes, whom these adventures first brought to view, might all be advantageously confined within exceedingly narrow limits. The general features of the savage life in America were every where nearly the same: and of these it is certainly best to receive our general notions from the first as well as the most extensive discoveries. A very
short indication, therefore, of the remarkable peculiarities by which any tribe may have been distinguished, is all that can remain to increase our stock of useful information.
Unless this view of Mr. Southey's subject be very erroneous, it may be justly said of his work, though not in the most complimentary sense, materiem superabat opus. The exploits of the adventurers, which are here recorded, and the incidents connected with them, by no means merited so accurate and minute a delineation, as Mr. S. has thought proper to furnish. We do not mean to say that he has written a dull or an useless book; 'but his success would unquestionably have been far more splendid, had the subject been equal to his talents. It is no slight proof, indeed, of his genius, that he has been able so completely to carry his reader's attention through such a train of unimportant and monotonous details, and compel them to afford him so much delight.
As far as the knowledge subservient to research on this subject can be considered of importance, it may be safely affirmed, perhaps, that no one among his countrymen was nearly so well qualified as Mr. Southey, by an acquaintance with the Portuguese language and literature, for writing a history of Brazil. The work before us affords abundant evidence that he has not been sparing of bis labour in the accumulation of facts. The most authentic sources, at least as far as printed books, and not these alone, extend, were open to his inspection, and have been carefully explored. No fact, we are satisfied, which could greatly interest the inquirer in the history of the formation of the
settlements in Brazil, has escaped his research. To say this, is to pronounce no ordinary panegyric; and yet we see no indication, in the present work, that Mr. Southey was endowed with the most important qualities of a great historian. The comprehensive views of the great philosopher do not appear to predominate in his mind. We are far from presuming to say that he is not intitled to rank, and rank highly, among enlightened men. But with his good intentions, with his industry, and his talent for composition, we could wish that his depth and originality of thinking were still more conspi
The subject Mr. Southey has undertaken, did not call, perhaps, for many very important exertions of thought; and for that very reason it might not have been selected by a man of greater powers. But of those occasions which it did present, we do not think that Mr. Southey has made the most advantage. Amidst all the details, for example, respecting tribes of savages with which the work abounds, no assistance is offered to the reader in generalizing the phænomena of savage life; scarcely any in tracing the causes of the peculiarities among different tribes, of which his narrative makes mention; no attempt is made to illustrate the springs of human nature, as exhibited in thosc unfavourable circumstances; to trace the points of agreement and diversity between this the most unhappy state of society, and that which is presented at all the different stages of civilization. Had Mr. Southey avoided those lengthened statements and explanations, which a full treatment of the subject would have required (though they would have been more instructive and more interesting, too, than so much repetition of the details respecting the particular tribes), comprehensive reflections drawn from a profound insight into the subject, however shortly expressed, would have thrown a light upon his pages, for which the work at present contains nothing to compensate.
Mr. Southey, in his preface, very justly observes that something more than the title promises, is comprised in the present
work—that it relates the foundation and progress of the adjacent Spanish provinces, the affairs of which are in latter times inseparably connected with those of Brazil that the subject may therefore be considered as including the whole track of country between the rivers Plata, Paraguay, and Orellana or the Amazons, and extending eastward toward Peru, as far as the Portuguese have extended their settlements or their discoveries.' What Mr. Southey farther advances,' on the subject of the authorities from which the materials of his history aré dráwn, is fit to be known, and worthy of implicit credit.
• The only general History of Brazil is the America Portugueza of Sebastiam da Rocha Pitta, a meagre and inaccurate work, which ha's been accounted valuable, merely because there was no other. There are many copious and good accounts of the Dutch war. Earlier information is to be gleaned from books where it occurs rather incidentally, than by design. Authorities are still scarcer for the subsequent period, and for the greater part of the last century, printed documents almost entirely fail. A collection of manuscripts not less extensive than curious, and which is not to be equalled in England, enables me to supply this chasm in history. The collection was formed during a residence of more than thirty years in Portugal, by the friend and relation (the Rev. Herbert Hill) to whom this work is inscribed. Without the assistance which I have received from him, it would have been hopeless to undertake, and impossible to compleat it.
• A critical account of all the materials which have been consulted, will be appended to the concluding volume. The map also is delayed, for the purpose of rendering it as full, and as little incorrect as possible, though a far better than any which has yet appeared might have been given at present'
From this passage, the reader perceives that the present volume forms only a part of the work; but whether the design will be completed by one additional volume, or more, is not distinctly specified. The history is here carried down froin the first discovery of the coast of Brazil by Vicente Yañes Pinzon, on the 26th of January, 1500, to the survey of the course of the river cominonly called Amazons, (but to which Mr. Southey judiciously proposes to appropriate the name Orellana,) by Acuña in 1620. The space included, therefore, is nearly a century and a half, in which the principal parts of the atchievements of discovery and settlement are contained.
Among all the various adventurers, the only individual, in whose history any incidents of remarkable singularity occur, is Hans Stade, the son of a good man,' says Mr. Southey, ‘at Hamburgh in the Hessian territory. He was minded to seek his fortune in lodia, and with that intent sailed from Holland in à fleet of merchantmen going to Letubal for salt; but when he reached Portugai, the Indian ships were gone, so he ac. cepted the post of gunner on board a vessel bound for Brazil. This was in the latter end of 1547. He arrived just as the natives were rising against the Portuguese, and about to besiege the settlement of Garassu. Hans was sent to the relief of this place in a boat with forty men. The enterprize was extremely perilous; and he succeeded in it at last, only by means of some well concerted and daring expedients. In 1549, he sailed with Senabria in his expedition for Paraguay,
and was shipwrecked on St. Vicente. Here his services as a gunner were demanded; the few Portuguese in the country finding it necessary to defend themselves against the savages, by such fortifications as they could raise. The following pas, sage gives an account of the commencement of his mis. fortunes:
Hans had a German friend settled at St. Vicente as overseer of some sugar-works, which belonged to Giuseppe Adorno, a Genoese. His name was Heliodorus, and he was son of Eoban, a German Poet of great celebrity in his day; he was from the same country as Hans, and had received him into his house after the shipwreck, with that brotherly kindness which every man feels for a countryman when they meet in so remote a land. This Heliodorus came with another friend to visit Hans in his castle. There was no other market, where he could send for food to regale them, except the woods; but this was well stocked. The wild boars were the finest in the whole country, and they were so numerous that the inhabitants killed them for their skins, of which they niade a leather that was preferred to cow-hides for boots and chair bottoms. He had a Cairo slave who used to hunt for him, and whom he never feared to accompany to the chase ; him he sent into the woods to kill and went out to meet him the next day, and see what success he had had, The war whoop was set up, and in an instant he was surrounded by the Tupinambas. He gave himself
up for lost, and exclaimed, Into thy hands O Lord do I commit my spirit. The prayer was hardly ended be. fore he was knocked down; blows and arrows fell upon him from all sides; but he received only one wound in the thigh.
• Their first business was to strip him ; hat, cloak, jerkin, shirt, were presently torn away, every one seizing what he could get. To this part of the prize possession was sufficient title; but Hans’s body, or carcase, as they considered it, was a thing of more consequence. A dispute arose who had first laid hands on him, and they who bore no part in it amused themselves by beating the prisoner with their bows. It was settled that he belonged to two brethren ; then they lifted him up and carried him off as fast as possible towards their canoes, which were drawn ashore, and concealed in the thicket. A large party who had been left in guard advanced to meet their triumphant fellows, showing Hans their teeth, and biting their arms to let him see what he was to expect: The Chief of the party went before him, wielding the Iwara Pemme, the club with which they slaughter their prisoners, and crying out to him, Now Pero (as they called the Portuguese) thou art a most vile slave ! now thou art in our hands! now thou shalt pay for our countrymen whom thou hast slain! They then tied his hands ; but another dispute arose, wbat should be done with him. The captors were not all from the same dwell. ing place'; no other prisoner had been taken, and they who were to return home without one, exclaimed against giving him to the two brethren, and were for killing him at once. Poor Hans had lived long enough in Brazil to understand all that was said, and all that was to be done ; he fervently said his prayers, and kept his eye upon the slaughter-club. The Chief of the party settled the dispute by saying, We will carry him home alive, that our wives may rejoice over him, and he shall be made a