Page images

tiva supply excellent timber for the royal docks-one kind resembling the teak of India; while Brazilwood, log-wood, mahogany, rosewood, and others also abound.

The principal commercial city at present is Rio Janeiro. The harbour is capacious and excellent; the surrounding country is fertile, and abounds in cattle and sheep. The shops are full of Manchester goods and English prints, and there are manufactures of sugar, rum, and cochineal. It may be of some importance to state, that though the province of Rio Grande is the richest of the Brazils, the river is little navi gable on account of the shoals. The adjoining province of San Catarina, therefore, serves as a mart for the productions of Rio Grande, by its excellent harbour, which is the best in the country after that of Rio Janeiro.

With respect to the European settiers, they are described as gay and fond of pleasure. They eat without knives or forks, and roll the meat and vegetables into balls; the ladies without ceremony search for vermin in each other's hair, and their usual dress is a single petticoat over a chemise. It is acknowledged by the Portuguese themselves, "that Brazil, considering the number of years it has been colonized, the space which it occupies, and the inhabitants it contains, exhibits the greatest deficiency of genius and curiosity of any quarter of the globe." There is a remarkable want of subordination, especially among the white servants, so as not to be exceeded by the jacobin epoch of France. They admired the French generals and conquests, and, according to Mr. Lindley's account, entertained an antipathy against the maritime power of England, which

they considered as administered with too much insolence and contempt of other nations. The youth, in particular, were imbued with republican notions, and ridiculed their own subjection to Portugal-a report confirmed by Staunton. Mr. Lindley also states, that they wish much to get rid of their dependence on Great Britain, to which they bear considerable enmity.

The most curious circumstances relating to the state of manners in Brazil, is the conduct of a set of miscreants, called Paulists-a society of freebooters in the Southern part of the country. United by equal want of religion and morals, the first inhabitants of the town of St. Paul formed a' republic, like that of robbers in a cavern. Malefactors of all nations and colours formed about a hundred families, which gradually rose to a thousand. The Paulists declared themselves a free people. All strangers who did not bring certificates of having been regular thieves were refused admittance into the colony. The first trial of a citizen was to make an excursion and bring in two Indians as prisoners. Virtuous actions were carefully punished with death. Supplied with fire-arms from unknown quarters, they carried devastation into the Spanish possessions. Where they suspected that force would not avail, they assumed the gowns of the jesuits, and preached with the most holy fervour to the Indians, on the advantages of religion, and the heinous offences of murder and robbery, particularly warning them against those devils the Paulists. Having gained the confidence of the Indians, they inveigled them into places where they could easily seize them as prisoners. At last, however, the state 3 N 4


was corrupted by the introduction of a few virtues, and the city was yielded to the Portuguese monarchy.

Da Cunha contradicts the theory of Montesquieu, on the effects of climate, and asserts, that the Indigenes of the Brazils are capable of great mental and corporeal exertion, of which he gives some instances. This writer states a circumstance which sets in a strong light the narrow policy of the Portuguese government in the vicinity of the mines, salt is necessary, not only for man but for the cattle; and yet this article is farmed to an individual, and a vast commerce of fish, which swarm on the coast of Brazil, is thus interdicted. The country, upon the whole, seems to have improved very slowly, notwithstanding its natural advantages. But when the government shall have adopted a more liberal policy, and industry is left unfettered, it may soon become a rich and powerful empire.

who had been destined by his uncle for his successor, was, on the 13th of April, 1789, solemnly begirt with the hattechan, or sword of Mahomet, in the Mosque of Eyoub, as the 27th monarch of the race of O-


Never did any sultan manifest greater ardour and impetuosity, or a.more warlike spirit, than Selim III. on his accession to the throne. He was then only in his 28th year, being born on the 24th of December, 1761; so that age cannot even be supposed to have diminished his energy. His vivacity was probably nothing more than illusion, a mere disguise assumed from motives of prudence, because at that time the people, as well as the highest personages at Constantinople, clamoured for the most vigorous prosecution of the war; and it was not unknown, that the pacific disposition of Abdul Hamid had contributed to his sudden death.

The grandecs of the empire concealed their sentiments, in silent ad

Anecdotes of the Grand Signior, miration; while the people loudly

Selim III.

Sultan Selim III. Gihandari, the present ruler of the once-formidable Ottoman empire, is the son of the emperor Mustapha III. distinguished by the surname of the Glorious, and nephew to the last Turkish monarch Abdul Hamid, who died very suddenly on the 7th of April, 1789, in the 64th year of his age, after taking a cup of indigestible coffee, leaving two male heirs, sultan Mustapha and sultan Mahmud. Conformably with the Turkish system of policy, (which, to obviate the inconveniences liable to result from the government of a minor, calls to the throne the oldest prince of the reigning family,) Selim,

congratulated themselves on the accession of such a spirited sovereign, who manifested, in all his actions, so decided an inclination for the continuance of the war. When some one represented to him the state of the empire, and the dangers with which it was menaced, especially as France and Spain might possibly be induced to side with the two imperial courts, he listened with attention to what he had to say, and at length replied: "It is, nevertheless, my pleasure to prosecute the war;" and issued the most positive orders to this effect.

In the very first night of his reign, Selim fixed himself firmly on the throne, and in the affections of the


people. A fire broke out in the arsenal.-Selim resolved to repair to the spot, according to the custom of the sultans, that he might the more speedily check, by his orders, the progress of the flames. He was told, that it was unusual for the sultans to appear in public previous to their solemn inauguration, which consists in being girt with the sword of Mahomet. Selim's answer was accompanied with a look of asperity; and he gave orders to prepare immediately for his departure from the seraglio. The people, among whom he ordered money to be distributed, to encourage them to exert themseives in extinguishing the conflagration, accompanied him on his return to the seraglio, with the loudest acclamations; so that no person durst hazard any attempt against Selim, which otherwise might probably have been the case. The ceremony of girding on the sword had usually been accompanied with great musical entertainments and dancing. Selim would not celebrate it with any festivities of that kind; but gave a tournament, which he thought better suited to the circumstances of the times.

Though fortune was far from smiling on Selim's arms, yet he resolved not to lay them down. In 1791, when the empress-mother, or sultana Valide, for whom he entertained the highest veneration, would not desist (in spite of his admonitions not to intermeddle with state affairs) from importuning him to make peace with Russia, he at length lost all patience, and removed his so-peaceably-disposed mother for a time from his palace, to the old Seraglio, where the women of the deceased monarch are usually kept. Nevertheless, a peace

took place the same year with the empress Catherine II. after the treaty concluded at Szistowe, on the 4th of August, had reconciled Austria and the Porte. In August, 1791, preliminaries of peace were signed at St. Petersburgh, and were succeeded by the definitive treaty, ratified on the 29th of December, at the congress of Jassy.

Since that period, Selim III. has lived in relations of amity with his formidable north-eastern neighbour; and seven years afterwards, when France attempted to ravish Egypt from his sceptre, these were still more closely cemented, by means of a defensive alliance between Russia and the Porte. The political storms which shook the Turkish empire at the conclusion of the 18th, and the beginning of the 19th century, demanded a skilful hand to guide the helm of the state. Internal energy was wanting to preserve the shattered vessel. With all the resources which the Porte has at its disposal, it has not even been able to quell the insurrections of rebellious Pachas, and to secure the internal tranquillity of the empire against the numerous hordes of banditti which overrun its provinces. During the late war with France, Selim was involved in continual solicitude, which crippled the execution of every decisive measure. Hence Egypt, though cleared of foreign enemies, remained in a state of insurrection; the audacious Paswan Oglou defied him at Widdin; and the bold Czerni George successfully asserted the claims of the Servian insurgents against the troops of the grand signior.

At such a crisis as the present, irresolution is the most dangerous quality of a sovereign, especially at Constantinople.

Constantinople. The grandees about the person of Selim III. soon perceived that the energy he at first manifested, and of which even ordinary men are susceptible when circumstances inspire them with enthusiasm, was foreign to the character of the sultan, and they turned the discovery to their advantage. Affairs soon went at Selim's court, as they had done at that of the weak and good-natured Abdul Hamid. New intrigues, new changes of ministry, new movements of parties under foreign influence, new systems, and an everlasting fluctuation of principles in the divan!

Selim Gihandari is more entitled to respect as a private man than a sovereign; his ideas are more enlightened and more free from prejudice than those of his predecessors; and his sentiments are tolerant, and accommodated to the present times. He is even reported to possess a happy talent at poetical composition in the Arabic language. The Turks, however, have greater need of a man of strong mind, than of a belesprit, to conduct their affairs. Selim is indeed charged with being very fond of money, and with hoarding it more than any of his predecessors; but, on the other hand, he displays great generosity in the distribution of rewards.

His present conduct forms a striking contrast with the character which he at first assumed. He then appeared as the professed enemy of the Franks (or christians). This antipathy impelled him to issue, among others, the severe edict, prohibiting all Franks and Jews from wearing the Turkish costume, and commanding them to dress in clothes after the French fashion. This ordinance was extremely mortifying to them, as it

exposed them to the contempt and derision of the Turks throughout all Constantinople.

On the contrary, Selim now treats the Franks, and particularly those resident at Constantinople, with great indulgence and humanity. On this subject, anecdotes are related concerning him, for which a parallel would be sought in vain, in the history of his ancestors. The sultans have, for example, considered it as beneath them to look at a Frank as they rode past him. They either looked down, or turned their faces another way, with contempt. Sultan Selim, however, is said, when riding in procession and in solemn pomp to the Dschamie, to have of ten looked with an air of benignity at the Franks standing by the wayside, and even to have sometimes bowed to them, when they respectfully uncovered their heads; which, being against the custom of the East, might, on the contrary, have drawn upon them a reprimand.

It is well known, that he has had many interviews with Franks at Dolma Backdscheh, and that he has verbally communicated his pleasure and his orders to those whom he has taken into his service. On certain days in the week, he has even caused the ladies and gentlemen belonging to the French families settled at Pera and Galata, to assemble and dance in a saloon in his seraglio; and he generally watched them, while engaged in this amusement, through a lattice.-On such occasions, one of the company, by his desire, plays on a small organ his favourite tune, the well-known Marlbrook s'en vat-en guerre, and the others accompany the music with their voices.The celebrated Lullaby-song of the late dauphin, formerly sung all over



Europe, from the Seine to the Oby, and now almost forgotten, has at length completed its tour of the world, having penetrated to Constantinople. It has there maintained its ground longer than any where else; for, as it pleased the sultan, it became almost a national air, and you may still hear it sung by many a Tschaikschu; but somewhat mutilated, it is true, and only to be recognised from the beginning of the tune.

The following true anecdote evinces the politeness of the emperor towards the Franks. One fine summer's day, many of the Frankish families resident at Constantinople had assembled at Buyukdere on some festive occasion. The fineness of the weather, or perhaps curiosity to see so many Franks together, likewise enticed the grand signior from his water-party to the same place. The sky was suddenly overcast, and a heavy shower of rain fell, just when all the company were walking in an extensive meadow. The ladies, who were provided with umbrellas, put them up; but as the grand signior alone has the privilege of employing this kind of defence either against sun or rain, and no person is allowed to use it in his presence, they immediately let down their umbrellas while the sultan passed by them on his return to his gondola. No sooner did he perceive this mark of attention, than he sent a message, granting them permission to make use of their umbrellas even in his presence.

The emperor frequently goes about in the capital, incognito, and in various disguises. Sometimes he wears a green turban and an Albanian dress, or an Arnaut cap, and wide red cloak, with gold clasps,

after the manner of the Bosniaks. On these occasions, he is generally attended by no more than four persons, all dressed in the same manner as himself, so as not to be distinguished. One of these attendants is the executioner, who always follows the grand signior, in all his excursions, both on horseback and on foot. It is well known, that for any instance of speedy justice, there is none to call him to account, nor need he even assign a cause. This privilege the sultans have always made use of, and so did Selim in the first years of his reign.-Now, however, he forms an honourable exception in the exercise of this barbarous prerogative; conformably to custom, he still retains the terrific attendant, but without calling for his professional services. In these excursions, he often visits the schools, the barracks, the coffee-houses, the academical institutions, and the guard-houses; and he not unfrequently distributes, with his own hand, gratuities among those who have either obtained his approbation, or whom he wishes to encourage.

According to the laws of the Turkish empire, every male must learn some business; and from this, the sultans themselves are not exempted. Selim learned the art of painting on muslin; and during his reign, it has come so much into vogue in the seraglio, that a great number of sofas and divans, in the interior of the palace, are now covered with this kind of muslin.

The superior understanding of his mother, the sultana Valide, gave her a great influence over the emperor. She had formerly been the slave of a Mussulman, named Velizade, and was brought up with Murat Bey,


« EelmineJätka »