Слике страница
PDF
ePub

would be a load of itself. I am told that within a few years past, an English carriage, or wagon maker, has established himself in the city, and has already made (a fortune by constructing carts and wagons, on a more modern plan; that his price, at first, for a common two horse wagon, was five hundred dollars, but since they have become in more general use, it has fallen one half; but it will be a considerable time, before the present clumsy, and inconvenient machines, will be superseded. It will happen here, as in every thing else, that the progress of improvement will be slow.

On our landing, we found very few persons on the , wharf, attracted, as might have been expected, by cu

riosity. The fact is, we had taken them by surprise; and, as I afterwards learned, it was a source of sume chagrin, that they had not had an opportunity of making some display on the occasion. It was natural to expect, that personages to whom the people attached so much importance, should make their appearance with something more of parade. But. I hope this disappointment was more than compensated, by giving them a practical example of the simplicity, and humility of true republicanism, which places little or no importance in that outward shew or ceremony, which is more properly a cloak for emptiness and conceit, than any part of native worth and dignity.

Our friend was taken by the hand by a young officer, in a neat uniform, and his manner gave me a very favorable idea of the relation in this place between the citizen and the soldier. These two young men were probably educated together, and were playmates in the same town; they had only embraced dif- .. ferent occupations, one entering the counting house,

and the other the army, but without placing themselves in different ranks or orders of society. There was something of militia in the manner of the officer, which I cannot describe, which strongly associated itself with recollections of my own country, and very different from what I had witnessed in Brazil, where the military constitute an order as distinct, as if of a different race of men. There was no difficulty in making the arrangements before spoken of. While the boat returned to the vessel, I went in company with the gentlemen before mentioned, in quest of lodgings. There are several tolerable public houses, chiefly kept by foreigners. We succeeded in obtaining comfortable quarters, at about the same price as in the cities of the United States.

I had no sooner been comfortably settled in my lodg. ings, than I felt impatient to take a stroll through the town. The streets are straight, and regular, like those of Monte Video, a few of them are paved, but hollow in the middle. The houses are pretty generally two stories high, with flat roofs, and, for the most part, plaistered on the outside; which, without doubt, at first, improved their appearance, but by time and neglect, they have become somewhat shabby. There are no elegant rows of buildings as in Philadelphia, or New-York, but many are spacious, and all take up much more ground than with us. The reason of this is, that they have large open courts, or varandas, both in front and rear, which are called patios. These patios are not like our yards, enclosed by a wall or railing; their dwellings for the most part, properly compose three connected buildings, forming as many sides of a square; the wall of the adjoining house making up

VOL. I.

36

the fourth. In the centre of the front building there is a gate-way, and the rooms on either hand, as we enter, are in general occupied as places of business, or merchants' counting rooms; the rear building, is usually the dining room, while that on the left, or the right, (as it may happen,) is the sitting room or parlor. The patio is usually paved with brick, and sometimes with marble, and is a cool and delightful place. Grapevines are planted round the walls, and at this season, are loaded with their fruit. The houses have as little wood as possible about them; both the first and second floor having brick pavements; fire engines are therefore unknown, together with that uneasiness from this angry element when once master, so much felt in our cities. There are no, chimnies, but those of kitchens.' At all the windows, there is a light iron grating, which projects about one foot; probably a remnant of Spanish jealousy. The compactness of the town, the flatness of the roofs, the incombustibility of the houses, the open court yards, which resemble the area of forts, and the iron gratings, constitute a complete fortification, and I do not know a worse situation in which an enemy could be, than in one of these streets. It is not surprising, that a city so well fortified, should bave so effectually resisted the army of twelve thousand men, under general Whitelock. The only mode by which it could be assailed, would be by first obtaining a complete command of the country around it, and of the river in front. This would require a greater effort than Spain, can make, even if she were to abandon all her other colonies, and unite for the special purpose, all the forces she is able to spare out of her Spanish dominions.

en

But little attention is paid to the cleanliness of the streets; in one of the front streets, where there was no pavement, I observed several deep mud holes; into these, dead cats and dogs are sometimes thrown, from too much indolence to carry them out of the way. The side walks are very narrow, and in bad repair; this is better than at Rio Janeiro, where there are none at all. I observed, however, as I went along, a number of convicts, as I took them to be, engaged in mending the bad places already mentioned. In these particulars, I was very much reminded of New Orleans; in fact, in many other points, I observed a striking resemblance between the two cities. . I can say but little for the police, when compared to our towns; but this place manifests a still greater superiority over Rio Janeiro; and many important improvements, that have been introduced within a few years past, were pointed out to me. I sbould like to see, however, some trouble be. stowed in cleaning those streets that are paved, and in paving the rest; as well as in freeing the fronts of their houses from the quantity of dust collected, wherever it can find a resting place.

But it is time to speak of the inhabitants of the city, and of the people who frequent it. And here, whether illusion or reality, I shall not take upon me to say, but certain it is, I had not walked far, before I felt myself in a land of freedom. There was an independence, an ingenuousness in the carriage, and an expression in the countenances of those I met, which reminded me of my own country; an air of freedom breathed about them, which I shall not attempt to describe. All I can say, is, that I felt the force of that beautiful thought of Moore, in his Lalla Rookh;

me

who with heart and eyes
Could walk where liberty had been, nor see
The shining foot prints of her deity;
Nor feel those god-like breathings in the air,
Which mutely told her spirit had been there?”

I saw nothing but the plainness and simplicity of republicanism; in the streets, there were none but plain citizens, and citizen soldiers; some of the latter, perhaps, shewing a little of the coxcomb, and others exhibiting rather a militia appearance, not the less agreeable to me on that account. In fact, I could al. most have fancied myself in one of our own towns, judging by the dress and appearance of the people whom I met. Nothing can be more different than the population of this place, from that of Rio. I saw no one bearing the insignia of nobility, except an old crazy man, followed by a train of roguish boys. There were no palanquins, or rattling equipages; in these matters, there was much less luxury and splendor than with us. The females, instead of being immured by jealousy, are permitted to walk abroad and breathe the air. The supreme director has no grooms, gentlemen of the bed chamber, nor any of the train which appertains to royalty, nor has his wife any maids of honor; his household is much more plain than most of the private gentlemen of fortune in our own country; it is true, when he rides out to his country seat, thirty miles off, he is accompanied by half a dozen horsemen, perhaps a necessary precaution, considering the times, and which may be dispensed with on the return of peace; or perhaps, a remnant of anti-republican barbarity, which will be purged away by the sun of a more enlightened age; indeed, I am informed, that the

« ПретходнаНастави »