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DURING the three or four years my brother lived at Neath he contributed a considerable number of verses and enigmas to the local newspapers, while some of his old notebooks contain many others in an unfinished state. While on the Amazon he wrote several more, and I will here give a few samples of these, which may perhaps be thought worth preserving, and as a memento of a young life prematurely closed in a distant land. He was a great admirer of Hood and of Longfellow, and several of his little poems are reflections of their writings, while the enigmas were inspired by those of William Mackworth Praed.
The only two likenesses of my brother we possess are copied here. The first is from a pencil sketch by an old friend of the family (Miss Townsend), taken at Hoddesdon when he was about eight years old, which was always considered a striking likeness. The other is a copy of a black silhouette taken before he came out to the Amazon in 1849, when he was just twenty years old.
My lamented friend Dr. Spruce kindly sent me two letters he received from my brother in the interval between our parting at Santarem and his return to Para, and as they are VOL. I. 289
probably the last he ever wrote I give them here (omitting one or two personal matters) in order to show his usual good spirits and random style of writing.
' Barra, March 15, 1850. "DEAR SIR,
“A lodge is gained at last. Here we are in a Barra!
* Here we work with Net and Trigger
By the famous river Nigger,' on whose midnight waters never is heard the hum of the sanguinary carapaná, where sleep, which knits up the ravelled sleeve of care,' hath no intruder. By-the-by, talking of sleep reminds me of redés. All the redés in Barra possess a title. Why? Because they are Barra-nets. This you may think far-fetched. Well! I will own 'tis rather distant; perhaps you would like one a little nearer ? Good. As we left Obydos, remarking the woody declivity on our right, the following sublime comparative similitude burst forth spontaneously. Why is this hill like a dead body running? Because, says I-but no! you must really try to guess it; however, I will enclose the answer to refer to in case of failure. [See p. 291.]
“ With best wishes for your health and success, and kind remembrances to Mr. King and Santarem friends.
“I remain, yours respectfully
“Serpa, December 29, 1850. “DEAR SIR,
"I have just returned from a month's excursion among the lakes and byways of the mighty Amazon, and whilst reposing my weary limbs amid the luxurious folds of a redé, drinking a fragrant cup of the sober beverage, and meditating (but cheerfully) upon the miseries of human nature, I received notice of your arrival in the Barra.
i Carapaná is the native name of the mosquito. ? Redé or net, the local name for “hammock."
“So you have at last gained that 'lodge' so long pictured in the vista of imagination. You are at last in that Promised Land-a land flowing with caxáca and farinha; ? a land where a man may literally, and safely, sleep without breeches-a luxury which must be enjoyed to be appreciated.
“I am now waiting for a passage to Para, from thence to return to England. There is a vessel caulking here I expect will go in two or three weeks. I have a small collection of birds and butterflies, but new species of the latter are very scarce.
“The Christmas festa is now over, and this little village has resumed its wonted tranquillity. I suppose you intend soon to proceed up the Rio Negro; no doubt my brother is now glorying in ornithological rarities, and revelling amid the sweets of lepidopterous loveliness. But enough! A little while and the wintry sea is roaring around my pillow; then shall I envy you in your snug redés far from the restless billow; then, whilst vainly endeavouring to swallow preserved salmon or other ship luxury, I shall long for my Amazonian appetite and roasted pirarucú; then— But I will not anticipate hours which are inevitable. I hope yourself and Mr. King are in good health. In this respect I have no cause to complain. Wishing you both a prosperous and a pleasant time, I must now remain,
It is evident from this letter that the usual dilatoriness and difficulties of Amazonian travel delayed his arrival at Para about four months beyond the time he calculated on. The answer to the enigma in the first letter, which he says he has enclosed, I did not receive; but I have no doubt it is as follows: "Because it is a corpse (copse) sloping away from
I Native rum and mandioca meal.
the town.” “Slope," "sloping,” were at that time slang words for escaping or running away, “understanded by the people,” which perhaps they may not be now. I may add here that he did not like the name Herbert (his first name), and so took to his second-Edward.
The friends of temperance often complain of the want of a good song. I think the following, written by my brother about 1848, may perhaps be considered suitable till a better one is written :
“ THE CUP OF TEA.
“Some love to sip their Burgundy,
And some prefer Champagne ;
And some the grape of Spain.
While others mix with water ;
And others London porter.
No Alcohol for me!
The social cup of Tea.
And drinking customs preach ;
More honoured in the breach ;
Without the aid of wine,
To spur the lagging rhyme.
And join our melody,
The social cup of Tea.'
When Bacchus shall be slain,
And ne'er rise up again ;