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EDINBURGH LITERARY MISCELLANY,
FOR JANUARY 1808.
Description of the MAP of BRASIL, and PLAN of RIO JANEIRO.
OUR readers, and particularly the
commercial part of them, must naturally feel curiosity with regard to this great country which has become the refuge of the house of Braganza, and is now laid open to British commerce. We have therefore given in this number the largest and most particular map of Brasil which we were able to procure. It contains the substance of three maps in vol. XIV. of the Histoire Generale des Voyages. The coast from San Salvador to Isle St Catherine, including by far the most important part of Brasil, is given of the same size with the original.The northern provinces, which are of inferior importance, are given in another part of the map on a reduced scale. There is still some extent of coast, from the Isle of St Catherine to the Rio de la Plata, which our limits have not permitted us to include; but it is almost uncultivated, and contains no place of any importance.
The plan of Rio Janeiro, (or St Sebastian, as the town is often called,) is from Mr Barrow's travels to Cochinchina. It is on a reduced scale, but will still, it is hoped, include every object of real importance.
Account of the Discovery, Conquest, and present State of BRASIL *.
TH HE country of Brasil is computed to extend two thousand four hundred miles in length, from north to south, and about two thousand in breadth from east to west; though the European settlements have not penetrated nearly so far in this latter direction. The soil is of the most exuberant fertility, though, from a want of activity in the nation, and imprudent restraints imposed by the government, it has hitherto received little improvement from cultivation. The climate seems to be the most salubrious and delightful of any in the tropical regions; the Portuguese, when worn out with age, are said to have been in the habit of transporting themselves. thither,, and thereby prolonging their lives for a considerable period
The honour of discovering Brasil does not seem to have belonged to any of the original navigators to America. Columbus, indeed, sailed along the coast of South America as far as the river Oronooko; but finding only an extent of solid land stretching westward; he saw no prospect of accomplishing his original object of finding a new route to the East Indies, and returned to seek it, with greater probability of success, in the deeply indented shores of the Gulph of Mexico. If we may believe, indeed, the narratives published under the name of Americus Vesputius, that navigator had, in 1499, penetrated to the Southward of the great river of the Amazons. But these narratives abound with so many contradictions, that little credit is generally attached to them.
The first ascertained discoverer
* Harris's Voyages, vol. II. Hist. Gen. des Voyages, vol. XIV. Burke's European Settlements, Vol. I.
of Brasil is Don Pedro Alvarez Ca bral, who set sail in March 1500, with a fleet of thirteen vessels, for the coast of Malabar, in the East Indies. After passing the Cape de Verd Islands, he stood far out to sea, in order to avoid the calms which reign on the coast of Africa, and on the 24thof April, found himself on the coast of an unknown country. Its aspect was inviting; the natives, in any intercourse he had with them, were friendly, and upon the whole, the discovery appeared of such importance that Don Pedro sent back a vessel to Portugal with an account of this new country, and of his having, in the usual form, taken possession of it in the name of his sovereign. The intelligence was welcome; and persons were sent for the purpose of making. farther discoveries upon these coasts. Yet no due estimate of its importance was as yet formed. Gold and silver, the grand allurements to European adventure, did not appear in the possession of the natives, and the whole coast was covered by ferocious tribes, against whom continual war must be waged. The difficulty, therefore, was to find persons of opulence and distinction, who would go out as settlers; and when any such presented themselves, liberal grants were made of large tracts of land at a very small quit-rent. Thus the whole of that extensive coast was alienated for a very moderate revenue. The new settlers consisted chiefly, as may be supposed, of men of desperate fortune, or pardoned malefactors. These persons, exposed to continual attacks from the rude natives, found it necessary to combine the character of soldier with that of planter; and so completely did they do so, that after an entire change of system, the different provinces of Brasil still retain the name. of Captaincies. However, this hardy population soon multiplied to such a
degree, that Brasil became a flourish ing colony, and drew the attention of the mother country. The Portuguese government now began to repent of the profuse grants which they had made; and in the year 1549, John III., with more policy it would appear than justice, entirely revoked them. In the same year he sent out Thomas de Sousa, with the title of Governor General of Brasil, accompanied by a strong body of forces, and six sail of the line. This new governor landed in the Bay of All Saints, where, by orders of his sovereign, he founded the city of San Salvador, which continued long the metropolis of Brasil. Under him, and the succeeding governors, new towns were erected, the old fortifications of earth were demolished, and made way for walls of brick and stone, mounted with cannon. These precautions were the more necessary, as Brasil had now become an object of ambition to the other nations of Europe.
During the civil contests which raged in France, between the votaries of opposite religions, Nicholas Durant, Lord of Villegagnon, conceiving, or at least professing a zealous attachment to the reformed doctrines, and having experienced some disgusts in his native country, communicated to Admiral Coligni his design of forming a settlement in the New World. The Admiral encouraged and assisted him; and Villegagnon was soon able to equip a squadron of three vessels, with which he set sail from Havre de Grace in May 1555. After a troublesome voyage, he arrived in Noveinber, at the mouth of the Rio Janeiro; but finding no good landing place there, sailed up the river, and founded the fort of Coligny, not far from the place where the present town is situated. He does not appear to have met with any considerable resistance, and with the assistance of some of his countrymen who had been shipwrecked there some time before, soon
succeeded in establishing a more friendly correspondence with the natives, than the Portuguese had been able to bring about in the course of fifty years. Allured by the accounts which he sent home, new adventurers collected themselves; and a second colony, as numerous as the first, set out from Honfleur, in November 1556. They returned, however, in a very short time, declaring that Villegagnon, from being a protestant, had unexpectedly become a most furious catholic; that they had received such treatment from him, as had placed them under the necessity of embarking for Europe; and that not having been able to lay in sufficient provision for their voyage home, they were reduced to dreadful extremities of famine, insomuch that after having consumed even their own shoes, they had almost been tempted to fall upon, and devour each other. Villegagnon, after their departure was unable to maintain himself against the Portuguese, and returned also to France, where he loudly denied all these allegations. It is certain, however, that he continued, during his whole life, to be a most furious enemy to the protes
The Portuguese now remained in quiet possession of Brasil till the end of the century, and the beginning of the next, when some French adventurers made repeated attempts to form settlements on the river Maragnan.—— All these, however, either in consequence of disastrous accidents, or of exertions made by the governor of Brasil, were quickly rendered abortive.
In 1581, in consequence of the rash expedition and fate of King Sebastian, Portugal fell into the hands of Philip II. It thus became involved in the war which that monarch was. carrying on against the Dutch, whom his ferocious bigotry had compelled to throw off the yoke, and erect themselves into an independent state. That peo
people, then active and enterprising, understanding that Brasil was extremely ill provided with the means of defence, conceived the design of attacking it; and this they accomplished in 1624, by a squadron under the command of Admiral Willekens. As soon as this squadron appeared in the Bay of All Saints, the inhabitants of San Salvador thought only of removing their persons and property as expeditiously as possible: the governor, who wanted presence of mind either to fight or fly, was taken prisoner; and the capital of Brasil surrendered, almost without striking a blow. A remarkable proof, however, was here given of what courage can do, even in the most desperate circumstances.— The Archbishop, Michael Texeira, assembling his clergy and monks, prevailed upon them to take up arms, and placing himself at their head, made a gallant resistance, and effected his retreat to a strong position, in the neighbourhood, which he fortified in such a manner as enabled him to keep the enemy in continual aların.
These news being carried to Europe, struck the Portuguese with the deepest consternation, as they dreaded that, in consequence of the system which Spain had formed of depressing their country, she would make but feeble efforts to repair this disaster. She was mistaken however; a fleet of twentysix sail of the line was equipped, and sent, with fifteen thousand men on board, under the command of Osorio, Marquis of Valduesa. This armament arrived in the bay just as the gallant archbishop had succeeded in collecting an army, and driving the Dutch into San Salvador, which he kept closely blockaded. The place soon surrendered d; and Osorio sailed back to Spain, imagining the Dutch to be now completely rooted out of the colony.
He was deceived, however; for in 1629, the Dutch, who had acquired great wealth by the plunder of San Salvador, determined to make a simi
lar attempt upon some other city. Accordingly in 1629, a squadron of fortysix sail was dispatched under Admiral Lonk, with a considerable body of land troops under Gen. Wardenberg. Wardenberg landed on the 15th of March 1630, and after a vigorous resistance took Olinda, capital of Fernambuca. The Dutch, possessing a great naval superiority, were then able to make themselves masters of all the coast of Brasil to the south of that city. The Spaniards were not negligent in sending out succours; and a war ensued which lasted upwards of ten years, and was distinguished by many obstinate battles, both by sea and land. The Dutch, however, partly through the valour and activity of their General Count Maurice de Nassau, and partly through the characteristic sluggishness of the Spanish government, found means to possess themselves of all the southern provinces of Brasil. Seven out of fourteen had fallen into their hands, when changes happened in Europe which gave a new turn to the face of affairs.
In the month of December 1640, took place that famous revolution which rescued Portugal from a foreign yoke, and placed the house of Braganza on the throne. The Dutch and Portuguese, from their common enmity to Spain, became then natural allies. A truce for ten years in their East and West India possessions was accordingly agreed upon on the 13th of June 1641. The Dutch, however, were considered by the Portuguese as having taken advantage of their necessities to impose very severe terms, and to arrange all the stipulations of the treaty, so as to turn to their own advantage. They found it prudent however to dissemble for the present; but secretly cherished the design of vindicating their rights on a future occasion. In Brasil they were particularly on the watch for an opportunity of regaining the complete possession of so important a settlement.Mean