Imágenes de páginas

sake of cozening the Dutch out of the conquests which they had made at her expense. But the doctrine being held that Portugal must eventually return under the yoke of Spain, it became a matter of prudence with the West India Company to prevent the colonies from following the fortune of the mother-country. To this end no means appeared so certain as getting possession themselves of as many as they could conquer; and for this conduct, so utterly at variance with the spirit of the truce just made, its terms afforded them something like a pretext. In consideration of the distance of the Indies, a year was allowed to them for notifying the treaty to their commanders there, with a proviso that, if the intelligence arrived sooner, the cessation of arms should take place immediately. While, therefore, the Portugueze, on the first news of the arrangement, honourably withdrew from Pernambuco some of their irregular troops, who were carrying on a predatory and most harassing warfare in the very heart of the Dutch territory, the governors of Holland wilfully delayed the official notification, while they sent private directions to Nassau to make the best of his time in seizing all the strong places which he had the means of attacking. These infamous orders were executed, with the additional infamy of sending out the expeditions under flags of truce. An unprepared aud unsuspicious antagonist could offer no effectual resistance; and, within the year, the troops of Nassau were in possession of Seregipe, Maranham, and the African settlements of St. Thomas and Loanda. From this villainy, (for it deserves no softer name,) the consequences followed which it merited, and which might have been expected. The forces of the Dutch, already barely sufficient for the great extent of territory in which they had to maintain themselves, became still weaker by being dispersed. Their soldiers and seamen-, as if sensible of the bad cause in which they were engaged, seem to have conducted themselves with less zeal and spirit than they did before. The Portugueze governor of Bahia, conceiving himself at full liberty to follow the treacherous example which they had given him, watched eagerly for any opportunity which might occur to injure them; and the truce at length began, one party having done a great wrong, and the other being determined to avenge it, by fomenting discord, and by whatever else of private mischief might be practised without open hostility.

In the meantime the Dutch were guilty of no less grievous errors in the administration of the provinces under their power. It is a singular fact in the history of most free governments, that their citizens are, of all others, least disposed to amalgamate with the inhabitants of those countries which they subdue, or to pay any proper respect to their institutions and prejudices. The iron does not mingle with the clay: he who values himself Oh the freedom

o 3 which which he enjoys is apt to become tyrannical in his conduct to other men; and as subjection to a free state is, therefore, of all foreign subjections likely to be the most odious, snch states should never aim at conquests which they are so ill qualified to maintain. And, in this particular instance, it is probable that the difference of manners tended greatly to make the Brazilian Portugueze and their new masters mutually odious to each other. The lovers of butter, cheese, salt beef, and strong beer despised, as feeble and effeminate, men who dined on a salted olive, or a little mandioe fried in oil and washed down with water: and these last would be equally cordial in their contempt and dislike of the gluttonous meals of the Hollander, whom tbey stigmatized as a mere vulgar seaman, low-born, and occupied in the sordid.occupations of commerce or piracy. Religion was a still more »erious ground of difference, and this was made worse by the wretched folly of the governing nation, whose clergy were scandalized at the too open indit/gence afforded by Maurice to the Roman Catholic superstition, and were always endeavouring to reslrkt the toleration which had been promised, within as narrow bounds as possible. Even where this was not the case, it was difficult to make the soldiers and seamen treat those rites with decency which they hud been so carefully taught to abhor and ridicule. A saint was now and then thrown from his pedestal, a procession treated with disrespect, a company quartered in a church; and all these things were treasured up in the recollection of those concerned, till the day of vengeance should arrive. Even the institutions which were designed to have a healing tendency had by no means the effect expected. In the courts of justice there was a mixture of Dutch and Portugueze judges; but the Dutch conferred in their own language, and treated the Portugueze with so much neglect, that the latter (who were the minority) seldom or never assembled. There is, indeed, good reason to believe that the Hollanders not only conceived themselves to be, but were very superior to their associates in knowledge and cultivated talent: and if that superiority had not sometimes broken out, it would have been strange indeed. In fact, the magistrates were too numerous; and as the Dutch were the majority, the concurrence of the Portugueze being unnecessary to a decision, would, naturally, be seldom called for. Two judges, one from each nation, must have respected, and would have soon improved each other; and, as the appointment of both would have been with the Dutch, they need not have feared any undue neglect of their interests.

But besides these grounds of dissension, which were likely to subsist between two races so different in habits and opinions as were now brought together, there were many positive obstacle*


offered to the prosperity and happiness of Brazil by that spirit of monopoly and lust of immediate profit, which is the besetting sin 'of all such bodies as their West India Company. They had conquered Brazil as a commercial speculation; and; though, evidently, by no means insensible to feelings of ambition and national pride, it was still mainly necessary that the directors and their officers should satisfy their constituents by an immediate profit on the capital advanced; and here their interest as merchants and debtors was often in direct hostility to their duty and interest as sovereigns. They had made the Pernambucans their subjects, but they were, in trade, their rivals. Lest, therefore, they should compete with the Company in the European market, heavy imposts were laid' on the exportation of their produce; and every kind of vexatious impediment interposed to cramp and confine their industry. So far did this extend, that they were not permitted to slaughter beasts for sale, or even for home-consumption. They were compelled to sell t4ie animal to the Dutch butchers, and purchase their meat at a price fixed by the council!

The like necessity of attending to present profit only had induced the council two years before, instead of filling the confiscated lands with European and Protestant colonists, to sell then* to any one who offered, and at prices so extravagant, that the wisest of their own countrymen would not purchase. In consequence, they were chiefly bought by Portugueze with neither character nor capital, on the dishonest and desperate speculation to which a great armament then meditated by Spain encouraged them, that the province would change sovereigns before the time of payment arrived. The expedition failed. The Company, being themselves almost mined, were merciless towards their debtors; and the colony was filled, at the time of which we are speaking, with men insolvent, desperate from want and passion, and, urged by every motive, bad as well as good, to get rid of their foreign masters.

It was not, however, in Pernambuco that the flames of revolt were first kindled. Maranham, as it ha\i been disgracefully won during a truce, was more disgracefully governed than any other of the Dutch possessions. The governor had even advanced so far in cruelty as to expose, without so much as a pretext, four-and-twenty of the Pontugueze inhabitants to be devoured by the savages. The people, though deserted by their mother-country, determined to right themselves. A small band of fifty conspirators under Antonio Monis Barreiros, formerly governor of the colony, gained some successes by surprize, and soon so far swelled their numbers as to drive the Dutch from their province as well as the neighbouring districts of Seara. This ill news made the Company and

« 4 its its agents more distrustful as to the allegiance of the Pernarabucans, and that distrust produced fresh severity. The priests and monks were subjected to many oppressions, and the latter, afe length, collected and sent out of the country; and, while everything menaced an approaching storm, Nassau, for whom alone, of all the Dutch, the Portugueze had some respect, and in whom alone they had any confidence, was recalled to Holland, and the government committed to Henrik Hans and the other members of the council, whose plebeian names and mercantile habits excited the contempt of the Pernambucans as much as their interested and oppressive conduct did their abhorrence. This was not likely to continue. A wealthy Portugueze, of high reputation for courage, liberality, and sanctity, by name Joam Fernandes, organized an insurrection, in correspondence with the governor of Bahia, and with Dirk or Theodorick van Hoogstraten, a treacherous Dutch officer of high rank. Camaram with his Indians, and Henrique Diaz with his terrible band of negroes, were not slow in joining him. The necessary quantity of miracles was performed for the encouragement and edification of the faithful. The Dutch, though not surprized, were unprepared for the greatness of the danger. One detachment after another was cut off in the woods, while with every victory the insurgents became more numerous and better armed; and though great military talent was shewn by many of the Company's officers, they were soon shut up in the town of Recife, and exposed to all the miseries of a siege with very little hope of succour. This was in l(i45. From thence to 1Go4 a tedious and miserable contest was maintained, in its circumstances so nearly resembling that which had previously taken place in Bahia, that we may be well excused repeating what, though full of illustrious instances of individual talent and bravery, are to an European of the present day what Milton calls the squabbles of our English Heptarchy, 'the battles of kites and crows!'

But, though we ourselves have shrunk from the task of detailing this long war of posts and skirmishes, we are by no means disposed to regret that Mr. Southey has detailed it even at the length to which his love for the Portugueze and his respect for valour have carried him. It is well that details, which relate to the early fortunes of an empire so considerable as Brazil must one day become, should be rescued from the obscure annalists and obscurer manuscripts in which they were previously buried. It is well that South America should have had its Dionysius of Halicarnassus, before the lapse of years had destroyed its ancient monuments, and the learned had been reduced to fill up its earlier periods with conjectures or inventions. When time shall have conveyed to the shores »f the Plata and the Orellana a purer faith and a more efficient


system of education; when liberty and learning shall flourish in Brazil; these pages of Mr. Southey may furnish their warriors and statesmen with national precedents of valour and patriotism, with reasons (or an ingenuous pride, and with landmarks against those errors which enslaved their illustrious ancestors. In these details Mr. Southey may not have written for present popularity or present interest, but he has not written in vain. He has ' cast his seed on the waters,' and after many days are come and gone, his harvest of renown will spring up, and grow green, and ripen.

Nor, though an abstract of such events must inevitably have become tiresome, do we dissuade the general reader from those chapters which we pass even in silence. Those who have read Bruce's Abyssinian Annals, or Sir John Malcolm's History of Persia, are well aware that the interest of a narrative depends far more on the power of the relator than on the political importance of the facts related, or their relevancy to our immediate interests. And they who wish for living and moving portraits of illustrious men, who are delighted with patriotism of the highest class united to the wildest superstition and the most singular traits of simplicity, will find such pictures here afforded in the instances of Fernandes, Henrique Diaz and Camaram.

While the Brazilian Portugueze were thus nobly contending with almost the whole force of Holland, they received but little countenance and still less effectual support from their European brethren, and the sovereign to whose cause they were devoted. Such was, indeed, the lamentable situation of Portugal, contending for her very existance with a formidable neighbour, with no other aid than the very inefficient alliance of France, and a few occasional supplies of arms, in exchange for her money, from Holland; that her rulers would have been utterly unjustifiable in courting a war with the latter power, whose friendship was indeed not very serviceable, but whose enmity in Europe would have been truly terrible. All that could be done was to dissemble; to disclaim all correspondence with or controul over the Pernambucans, and by every art of diplomacy to gain time, and invent excuses for deferring the execution of the treaty which the Dutch required, by which the insurgents of Brazil would be formally abandoned, and the territory confirmed to the West India Company. In the devices necessary for such a warfare, their minister at the Hague, Francisco de Sousa, was unrivalled. From simple falsehood to direct forgery, nothing was too mean or too daring for him; all things, as he pleaded, were justified by the previous treachery of the Dutch; and though these last were fully aware of the person with whom they had to contend, his turns and sleights were too quick for their tardier craftiness. Nothing could irritate, nothing escape, nothing disconcert him; and he fairly or


« AnteriorContinuar »