HAVE already jotted down a few characteristics that struck me in the people of Brazil, and these will form a sort of prelude to what I am now about to say. For a traveller who claims to convey only first-hand information, the difficulty, of course, is to make any definite statements when aware that his observations were all too hasty and brief to warrant generalities.
Brazilian society is very different from that of the Argentine, its elements being more distinct and more complex, while equally European in trend, and with the same immutably American base; the strain of French culture is more attenuated, the impulsive temperament more apparent, but for steady perseverance and capacity for hard work the Brazilians cannot be surpassed. In criticising the social conditions in Brazil, it must be borne in mind that the abolition of slavery dates only twenty years back. I do not think the slave-owner was systematically cruel, but slavery does not precisely rest on any inducement to kindliness. Certain buildings that I came across and the explanation of their use that was given to me showed plainly enough, what we already knew, that the blacks were treated like cattle, with just as much consideration as was dictated by self-interest. Since man is almost as humane as he is cruel, no doubt the masters had their benevolent moments, but the institution was, nevertheless, fully as demoralising for owners as owned. The blacks multiplied, however,’ and if the abolition of slavery was not accompanied here as in the United States by acts of violence, the reason is that, to the everlasting honour of the white man, the institution had been universally condemned before emancipation was proclaimed.
It has been said that in Brazil slavery was buried beneath flowers. The fact is it had become practically impossible when its disappearance was publicly and officially acknowledged. And as, happily, there was no race hatred between whites and blacks, these two elements of the population were able to continue to live peaceably side by side in a necessary collaboration. They went farther than this, as a matter of fact, and the races mixed with a freedom that I noticed everywhere. From the point of view of social concord, this is cause for rejoicing, while it must be left to time to correct any lowering of the intellectual standard. Every one knows that the principal feature of a slave-owning community is the absence of a middle class whose mission it must be to hold the balance in an oligarchy and prepare the way for the emancipation of the oppressed.
When the principle of democracy was pro-claimed by the “big whites” of Brazil, they could rely for support only on the leading intellectuals of sound general education, and on the inorganic masses of the population formed or deformed morally by slavery, and its attendant evils, with an incoherent admixture supplied by immigration. This, necessarily, was the situation that had to be faced on the morrow of the decree of emancipation. By degrees this state of affairs has been and is still being improved. The substratum of the community re-mains, however, such as I have shown it. I am aware, of course, that in this immense territory there are vast districts of varying soil and climate where Indians and blacks are very unequally divided. For the purposes of this brief summary, I am naturally only taking into account representative centres of population. In some parts the negroes have deserted the plantations for the towns to which they were attracted by the opportunities for employment, and their place has been taken by Italian colonies who have established themselves as small farmers. Elsewhere the ex-slaves remained in their cabins and continued their accustomed tasks with more or less zeal, content if thus enabled to live as they liked. They appear to work and live in perfect harmony with their former owners.
As regards the social élite, it is less easy to pick out its general features here than it is in the Argentine, where on every hand there are visible points of comparison with Europe. We are constantly obliged to revert to our starting-point, which is a feudal oligarchy, the centre of culture and refinement, which by a voluntary act is in process of formation into a single heterogeneous mass without any jarring of racial relations. For a long time the Empire preserved a nucleus of aristocracy of which only a vestige remains to-day. There might now be a danger of submersion beneath an inferior intellectual element which lacks the powerful bias towards higher education peculiar to the Brazilian mind. It is necessarily this element which will prove the salvation of the country. It is on his plantation (fazenda), in the centre of his influence, that we must seek the planter (fazendero) . Of a highly refined theoretical feudalism, deeply imbued with European ways of thinking, and with the generous social standards that distinguished, at one time, our own eighteenth-century aristocracy, sublimely unconsciousand destined probably to remain soof the first spasmodic movements of forces whose evolution towards a new order implies confusion at the outset, he is infinitely superior to the generality of his kind in Europe, who are either the product of tradition or the outcome of democratic circumstance. He leads the broad and simple life of the large landowner in a land whose soil offers every inducement to try fresh experiments. Everywhere within you will notice evidences of his search for the Beautiful and his thirst for knowledge. And everywhere without you will see the convincing proofs of his endless activity. In Paris one of these influential men may pass unnoticed, so little does he resemble his prototype as invented by satirists, with his modesty of speech and simplicity of bearing. He would, however, repay a closer study, and when he comes among us to obtain fresh force for his strenuous task, I should like to see some of our young men seize the opportunity to improve themselves by paying him a visit.
All these social forces have a natural tendency to form themselves into groups. But the Brazilian planter, like other feudal survivals in Europe, is exposed to the attack of every modern commercial and industrial force that is tempted to wield some sort of social authority. This is now the base of all communitiesin Rio, in Saint Paul, or in any other city of the world. A reception on extremely Parisian lines given by Senator Azeredo, assisted by Senora Azeredo, proved once again how strong is the likeness between circles that believe themselves to be utterly different. A single telegram suffices to give uniformity to the toilettes of all the women in the world, and if those to be seen in Senora Azeredo’s salons were less extravagant than some Parisian examples, Rio struck me as being quite as eager as Paris in its pursuit of beauty’s adornments. Shall I mention that Brazilian women have large black eyes, which seem to ask a thousand questions, usually pale complexions, sometimes of a golden bronze tint, that they are vivacious in speech and take a delight in conversational tourneys?
Senores Pinhero Machada and Guanabara were kind enough to give me an invitation that enabled me to see a little more of some of their politicians. Senor Pinhero Machada has a house that is built among the palm-trees on a height that commands the whole of the bay. I confess that in this enchanting place I was more tempted to open my eyes than my ears; still, in spite of the counter-attractions of the lovely landscape, I managed to study the mysteries of Brazilian politics a little more closely, and, as I had begun to do at Senor Guanabara’s, to realise that reasons for union are and will re-main predominant providing that the question of personalities does not obtrude.
How shall I fail to speak of the ball given in commemoration of the Independence of Chile, where I had the pleasure of meeting the flower of Rio society together with the representatives of all the foreign Powers? I should only give it a passing mention were it not that the President of the Republic, who opened the ball in person, had conceived the idea of inviting me to form one of the official quadrille, with the thought, of course, of paying a compliment to my country. When the excellent Prefect of Rio announced this decree of public authority, I believed a catastrophe was imminent, and did not hesitate to impart my fears to his charming wife, who declared herself ready to go under fire by my side. The worst of it was that I had before me the mocking eyes of the papal nuncio with whom I had just shaken hands, and I could see that he was far from wishing me success in the perilous career on which I was about to embark. Timidly, I broke it to my partner that it was over fifty years since I had danced a quadrille, and she returned my confidence by acknowledging that her education as regards the art of dancing had been totally neglected. The great fat man in scarlet, whose ring was large enough to boil an egg in, found our predicament vastly amusing. I saw myself about to become the scandal of Christianity. Uniting our ignorance, my partner and I took up our positions and arranged to imitate to the best of our ability the movement that might be suggested by the music to the youthful couple that formed our vis-a-vis. Thereupon, the orchestra, a piano and some other instrument, began to play, and we saw that the charming young couple on whom we relied were obviously waiting for us to set the example. What was to be done? I looked at my neighbours. They could not agree. One advanced, the other retired. The President of the Republic tried to encourage the rest of us by getting himself into hopeless muddles. I soon saw that all we needed to do was to tread on the toes of our neighbours and then bow our apologies, to begin again immediately the same manoeuvre. This I accomplished, to the great disappointment of the scarlet man, who was obliged to give a wry smile at the spectacle of the grace I managed to display in the service of my country.
I should have liked to see the theatres. Time was lacking. I saw only a performance of The Daughter of the Regiment, given in Italian at the Lyric Theatre, formerly the principal play-house of Rio under the Empire. The Imperial box was placed at my disposal and proved to be a veritable apartment, furnished in the style of Louis Philippe. I was told it had been kept unchanged.
The Municipal Theatre, practically a copy of our own opera-house, is one of the finest buildings in the Brazilian capital, its only fault being that it swallowed up too many of the public millions. On the ground floor there is a very luxurious restaurant containing a faithful copy in glazed bricks of the frieze The Immortals, brought by M. and Mme. Dieulafoy from Suez and now in the Louvre. Here the French colony gave a dinner in my honour. A certain number of statesmen accepted the invitation of my compatriots, and thus I had the great pleasure of assuring myself by my own ears of the friendly relations that exist between French and Brazilians. At one time we had a very important colony in Rio. For reasons that are not too clear to me, it has dwindled away of late. I found, however, at the reception held by the French Chamber of Commerce that if lacking in quantity, the quality of these French representatives left nothing to be desired. The natural affinity between the two peoples is so obvious that the multiple attractions of this great and beautiful country are for French people enhanced by the joy of a genuine communion of thought and feeling which links their hopes and aims. To my intense satisfaction, I had a proof of this at my first contact with the public of Rio, and the same experience was pleasantly renewed later at Saint Paul; I found that I could speak with the utmost freedom as a Frenchman to Frenchmen, for there was not the smallest suggestion of a foreign element in the mind of my audience to remind me to adapt myself to new susceptibilities. I know not how adequately to thank my audiences for what in French eyes appeared the supreme gift of a spontaneous manifestation of French mentality. The Academy of Medicine were good enough to invite me to pay them a visit, and I will freely confess that a consciousness of my unworthiness made me hesitate to face this learned assembly. On this point they reassured me by declaring that the meeting would be merely in honour of French culture. I went accordingly, and scarcely had we exchanged our first greetings when I already felt myself at home in a French atmosphere. Medical science being out of the question, the delicate fare offered to me was some reflections on the general philosophy of science, as developed by the magnificent intellectual labour of France, and on the powerful lead given to the activities of civilisation by our country. Could anything be more encouraging than this disinterested acceptance of the testimony of history, considering how many there be who would exalt themselves at the expense of France?
A very different atmosphere awaited me at the Bangu factories, where are admirable spinning and weaving mills; here the raw Brazilian cot-ton is transformed into those printed stuffs of vivid colourings in which the working classes love to drape themselves and thus supply a feast for our eyes. Here there were fewer abstract terms employed to declare the esteem so freely accorded to France. But here, as in other parts of the great Republic, I found the few brief words uttered in private encounters still more convincing than the noisier demonstrations. Wherever the work of social evolution ‘is being carried on, wherever there is seen a fine promise for the future, their it is a joy for the French to find the name of their country associated with the forward movement. The splendid industrial development of Bangu among many other similar centres shows what is being done in Brazil in this direction. I have seen nothing more striking in Europe. The Brazilians possess in an equal degree with the Argentinos the capacity of bringing to the highest possible perfection any work to which they set their hand.
I have already said that in Brazil our laws for the protection of industrial and agricultural labourers are unknown. Not but what politicians have studied the matter. But in the imperfectly centralised organisation of all these floating authorities, it is difficult to see how such laws, if voted, could be effectually applied. All the more credit is therefore due to the large employers of Brazilian labour who have done their best to improve the material condition of their hands without waiting to be compelled to do so. The working population of Bangu is scattered about the country in chalets that appear to be admirably hygienic, and all wear the aspect of the finest of physical and moral well-being. A large building has been provided for meetings of all kinds and a theatre in which the hands may amuse themselves with theatricals and concerts. It is unnecessary to state that we were received to the strains of the Marseillaise and that the French Republic was vigorously cheered. I do not go so far as to say that there were no dark sides here or elsewhere to the picture. I have not concealed the fact that immigrants complain loudly of the want of supervision from which they suffer in some regions. It seems fair to infer from what has already been accomplished that more is being attempted. It is naturally the farmer on the fazendas who receives the most attention because he is the deep and almost inexhaustible source of the national wealth.
It would appear that there are no limits to the productiveness of this soil, whose fertility has been developed and renewed during so many centuries by the combined action of sun and rain. Side by side with the barbarism of slavery there has been a barbarous system applied to the land, which has resulted in its impoverishment. Now the relation between production and fertilisation has come prominently forward. There is still, however, much virgin land that awaits the farmer. The real problem of a rational system of agriculture to be applied in Brazil will be left for a future generation. Meantime, their finest forests are burning and filling the horizon with smoke. This represents what the Brazilians call ” clearing ” the land. But the Brazilian forests deserve a volume, not a paragraph, or chapterand its writer should be both learned and a poet. I did not visit the fairylike regions of the Amazon, but however amazing they may be, I think they could scarcely surpass the powerful impression made on me by the forests of Saint Paul. There is a limit to our nervous receptivity, beyond which point we become insensible to sensation. We in Europe have dwelt amid a beautiful harmony of the forces of Nature which have moulded all our impressions in a certain form of beauty; to find fault with them would be sacrilege, since the highest inspirations of art have been drawn from this source. Thus, consciously or not, we have lived in an equilibrium of pleasing emotions, that imposes on us certain limitations of sensation to be derived from the spectacle that Nature provides. Therefore, when we are suddenly confronted with an unknown Nature, whose power and vigour shatter all our preconceived notions, and alter the whole focus of our organs, the only possible effect at first is one of complete bewilderment. We must take time to get used to this new order of sensations before we expose ourselves to another and get back again to the standpoint of a corresponding sense of aesthetics. I had to endure several headaches before I could rise to the level of the genius of Berlioz or Wagner. What if we compared our own landscape with the music of Gluck or Mozart? Then you may grasp the Wagnerian fury of the virgin forests which produce a stupefaction that leaves you incapable of analysis and a prey to a tumult of superlatives. And all this happens simply because we have been exposed to the shock of a higher manifestation of the terrestrial forces of the world.
The Botanical Gardens of Rio are famous the world over. The astounding forms of foliage, the bold growth of ancient tree and young shoot, the illimitably dense profusion of every form of vegetable life, recalling what must have been the earliest stage of the life of our planet, reduced me to a state of speechless surprise. I promised myself a second visit to its marvels, but never accomplished this, for spectacles of even greater magic detained me elsewhere.
” Bon Vista,” the Emperor’s country house in a suburb of Rio, is surrounded by a fine park which is going to be turned into a public garden. The Flumineuses make frequent pilgrimages thither, with their families, to spend a day in the shade of its trees during the hot season.
But, to tell the truth, while they in this way enjoy Europeanising themselves in artificially made gardens, I took a delight in drinking in the Americanisation that awaits you in the outposts of the young Corcovado forest, which seems to be advancing to the attack of urban civilisation and pursues man even in the very streets of Rio.
This urban forest is one of the charms of the Brazilian capital. It clasps the city in its powerful embrace and seems determined to drive back the population into the sea, whence it sprang, creeping insidiously into every open space, blending with the avenues, spreading over squares and parks, and everywhere declaring the triumph and victory of the first force of Nature over the belated but redoubtable energy of humanity. Trees, creepers, ferns, shrubsall these forms seem to be mounting to the heights that crown the bay in order to draw from the sun-shine a renewal of their vigour. The high peak of the Corcovado (over 2000 feet) that broods over the city, looms large on the horizon, and one can readily believe that the first thought of the invader was to climb that height and survey the marvellous panorama before him. Unlike the Galilean, he needed no tempter to sow in his mind the desire of possession. But, alas ! the task of appropriation is not accomplished with-out encountering some obstacles, and the would-be mountain climber is forced to concentrate his attention on one spot of the planet that holds him in the grip of an irresistible attraction. A funicular railway performs this office for him; and with no more trouble than that of letting yourself be drawn up under the branches, you suddenly emerge on a height whence you get a magic vision of Rio, with her bay, her islets, and a mass of mountains heaped one upon the other, until they are finally swallowed up in the sea. A new world is here revealed to your gazea world in which the whole miracle of the earth’s multiple aspects is epitomised, where the eternal play of light and shade constitutes an ever-changing picture that creates a world-drama in inanimate Nature. Are you surprised to meet some Parisians up here? No, not much. The first result of our industrial equipment is to diminish the proportions of the globe. It is easier today to go from one continent to another than it used to be to go from one village to the next. I am personally glad of this, for nothing could be better for us French people than to travel in foreign countries, since in this way we get a standard of comparison that we badly need.
Coming down from the Corcovado, you must stop at ” Silvestre,” whence a shady path cut in the mountainside will bring you back to the city, through a wilderness of wood where a pro-fusion of parasitic growth covers the boughs, tying them up in a mad confusion of tendrils.
Next after the Corcovado the Tijuca will attract you, and, like the former, it ends in wondrous points of view. In this case the pleasure is in getting there. You pass now through lines of tall bamboos, whose light foliage meets overhead; now you follow the course of a noisy waterfall that seethes amid the verdure of the forest; anon you descend into a valley that is shaded by the fresh and delicate foliage of the banana-trees, or rise to the top of a hill from which all the indentations of the great bay are plainly visible, and a small gulf hidden in an avalanche of rocks and boulders lies revealed, where the mysterious waters sob and vanish on a bed of flowers. Ever onward, the motor-car pursues its headlong way at a speed one longs to check. Often we stop to prolong the pleasure of a moment, but if one did not take care one might stop for ever. The pen is powerless to convey what, perhaps, the brush might reveal –the joy of life that swells to bursting the sap of every twig and leaf, every flower and fruit, from the humblest blade of grass to the loftiest extremity of the tallest trees, and renders so impressively active every organ of the vegetable world. I remember pausing before a simple creeper which had produced some billions of blossoms, and had imprisoned a whole tree in a kind of tent of blue flames. This example alone will serve to give the measure of the tropical fecundity. The object of our drive was the ” Emperor’s Table ” and ” China Street.” After the view from the Corcovado this seemed less grandiose, but in any other country of the world it would arouse a rapture of admiration. We returned to the city by another route, traversing a part of the mountain where rows of villas embowered in flowers seemed hung up half-way between sky and sea. You are back in Rio before you realise that you have left the forest.
It is impossible to speak of Rio without mentioning Petropolis, which owes its success to the yellow-fever mosquito. The Flumineuses formed the habit of migrating to this mountain station in order to escape from the attacks of the plague-carrying mosquito, which is so active after sunset. A well-founded fear of the scourge drove all those who could afford it out of Rio, and at their head were the Emperorlater the President of the Republic, the Ministers, and diplomatists, with their families. Thus Petropolis, an hour’s journey from Rio, became in some sort a fashionable watering-place, whose charming villas stand in a forest of tropical gardens. It is a delightful spot for all who can turn their back on the business of the outside world, which seems, indeed, far enough away. For this reason the European diplomatists spend long days here, filled with visiting, excursions (there are many charming ones to be made from this centre), or the idle gossip that constitutes this centre), or the idle gossip that constitutes that work is lacking; but we know that everywhere custom is stronger than utility, and custom is very exacting. Now that the mosquito has deserted Rio the Government has settled in the capital, leaving the mountain station to the diplomats and their papers. How can diplomacy exist without a Government round which to ” circumlocutionise “? For the smallest formality one must take the train. Coming back in the evening is fatiguing.’ One goes to the hotel for the night. Your friends take possession of you, and while you are dawdling in Rio all your correspondence is lying unanswered at Petropolis. There is, in consequence, a strong feeling now that ” the diplomats ought to settle at Rio,” near to the Baron de Rio Branco, who somehow invariably manages to be at Rio when they are at Petropolis and vice versa, just to upset our worthy ” plenipotentiaries.” All this is not done without a certain expenditure of money. Budget commissioners, beware!
Theresopolis is another mountain station, three hours from Rio. On the opposite shore of the bay a railway climbs or winds round the lower slopes, cutting its way through the forest as far as a vast plateau, whence radiates a number of paths that invite you to wander amongst the astonishing phenomena of this fiercely abundant vegetation. A ” circus ” of bare rocks bristles with pointed peaks, one of which, bearing some resemblance to the forefinger of a human hand, is known as ” the Finger of God.” Whichever way you bend your steps this formidable and imperious finger lifts itself against the horizon, as if tracing the path of the planets through the heavens. The beauty of Theresopolis lies in its madly bounding torrents, which leap the giant boulders heaped up in its course, ruthlessly destroying the green growths that make a daily struggle for life. For me this giant strife provides an incomparable spectacle. I confess that the series of forest panoramas that open out on either side of the railway, from Rio Bay to Theresopolis, give a magic charm to the day’s excursion. Tall ferns raised against the sky the transparent lacework of a light parasol, monstrous bamboos threw into the mêlée their long shoots, shaped like green javelins; shrubs, both slender and stout, and of every kind of leafy growth, encroach upon the heavy branches, worn out with the weight of parasites; the creepers twined like boas round their sup-ports, flinging back from the crest of the highest trees a wealth of fine tendrils that, on reaching once again their native earth, will there take fresh root and draw renewed force for the future fight with fresh resistances, a single one of the family, with leaves like a young bamboo, so fine that the stalk is well-nigh invisible, entirely shrouding a whole tree in its frail yet stubborn network, transforming it into a green arbour that would put to shame any to be found in our ancient and classic gardensall these and many other aspects of the marvellous forest arouse an unwearying and never-ending admiration, mingled with wonder at the blows dealt on a battlefield of opposing forces where the weapons are none the less deadly for being immovable.
There is no forest to be seen on the road from Rio to Saint Paul. Here man has passed. On all sides are visible the signs of destruction wrought by systematic fires. Thanks to Senor Paul de Frontin, the Company’s manager, and two friends of whom I shall have occasion to speak again laterSenores Teixera Soarès and Augusto RamosI made the journey under the best possible conditions. The great point was to see the country as we passed. Could any better way be imagined than that of placing the locomotive behind the coach, which was arranged like a salon, its front wall being taken away and replaced by a simple balcony? With rugs to guard against the freshness of the breeze, you find yourself comfortably installed in the very centre of a landscape whence you may see mountains, rivers, valleys, fleeing before you in the course of a run of five hundred kilometres. For the whole of the day I was able to drink in the fresh air and strong lights, as I looked out eagerly to discover new beauties. As a matter of fact, I saw nothing but mountains and hillsides that had been wantonly despoiled of their native vegetation. Here and there a small banana-wood growing in a crevice showed the proximity of the cabins of negro colonists and their offspring, who displayed in the sunlight the unashamed bronze nakedness for which none could blush. They were leading the nonchalant life of the farmer who expects to draw from the earth the maximum of harvest for the minimum of trouble. Whether under cultivation or lying waste, at this time of the year the land presented the same appearance of bare wildness. Sometimes on the top of a hill there would be seen one of the old plantations surrounded by walls built to imprison the slaves, or coffee-gardens, now abandoned because the soil was worn out for want of dressing, or long stretches of pale green denoting young rice crops, water-courses dashing over rocks and gliding through brushwoodthe last resort of the birds,vestiges of calcined forests where the new growth of vegetation eager to reach the sun was ever cut back and repressed; and everywhere flashes of red light that resolve themselves into birds, shuddering palpitations of blue flames that be-come butterflies, or the bronzed reflections of phosphorescent light that reveals a dancing cloud of hummingbirds. On the horizon spots of black smoke, betokening forests that are blazing in all parts to make way for future harvestsa melancholy spectacle of a wanton destruction of natural beauties that has not even the excuse of necessity, since the splendid forests are only attacked to save the trouble of fertilising the land exhausted by cultivation. I was told that at the first outbreak of fire the great birds of carrion come up in flocks to cut off the retreat of the monkeys and serpents that flee in terror. I did not witness this part of the tragedy, but I was near enough to see all the horror of the fearful flare. In the crackling of the burning palms, in the whirling clouds of blinding smoke furrowed with a sinister glow, boughs and branches lay heaped up on the ground in immense flaming piles, through which the charred stumps of boles, brought low by fire, crashed noisily to earth, where their corpses lay and slowly smouldered to ashes on the morrow’s coffee plantation in accordance with the law of Nature, which builds fresh forms of life out of the decomposed elements of death.
At nightfall, we entered the station of Saint Paul, where the cheers of the students, loudly acclaiming the French Republic, made us a joyous welcome. A few minutes later we found ourselves at a banquet attended apparently by representatives of every country of the world, and Brazilians and Frenchmen here united to express their brotherly aspirations in words of lofty idealism.
The city of Saint Paul (350,000 inhabitants) is so curiously French in some of its aspects and customs that for a whole week I had not once the feeling of being abroad. The feature of Saint Paul is that French is the universal language. Saint Paul’s society is supposed to be more markedly individual than any other community in the Republic, and it offers this double phenomenon of being strongly imbued with the French spirit, and, at the same time, of having developed those personal traits that go to make up its determining characteristics. You may take it for granted that the Paulist is Paulist to the very marrow of his bonesPaulist in Brazil as well as in France or any other land; and then tell me if there was ever a man more French in courtesy, more nimble in conversation in his aristocratic guise, or more amiable in common intercourse, than this Paulist business man, at once so prudent and so daring, who has given to coffee a new valuation. Talk a little while with Senor Antonio Prado, Prefect of Saint Paul, and one of the leading citizens, whose mansion, set in the frame of a marvellous park of tropical vegetation, would be a thing of beauty in any country, and tell me whether such elegant simplicity of speech could imaginably ex-press any but a French soul. The same might be said of his nephew, Senor Arinos de Mello, of whom I have already spoken, a clever man of letters who divides his life between the virgin forest and the boulevard, and who might easily be taken for a Parisian but for a soft Creole accent. Frenchmen basking in Brazilian suns, or Brazilians drinking deep of Latin springswhat matter by which name we know them, so that their pulses beat with the same fraternal blood !
The fact that the Paulist character has been strongly developed along lines of its own and that the autonomy of Brazilian States permits of the fullest independence of productive energy within the limits of federal freedom has led some to draw the hasty conclusion that there is a keen rivalry between the different provinces, and to see separatist tendencies where there exists nothing but a very legitimate ambition to for-ward a free evolution under the protection of confederated interests.
The States of Saint Paul and Rio stand at the head of the confederation, both by reason of their intellectual superiority and by their economic expansion, and the steady increase of their personal weight in the federation is naturally in proportion to the influence they have succeeded in acquiring in the exercise of their right to self-government. As no one seeks to infringe any of their prerogatives, and as the only criticism one might make would be that certain States are at present unfit to fulfil all the duties of government, while any attempt at separatism must tend to weaken each and all, no serious party, either at Saint Paul or Rio, or, indeed, in any other province, would even consent to discuss the eventuality of a slackening of the federal tie. The Paulists are and will ever remain Paulists, but Brazilian Paulists.
My first visit was paid to the head of the government of Saint Paul, who extended to me the most generous of hospitality. Senor Albuquerque Lins, President of the State, received me in the presence of his MinistersSenor Olavo Egydio de Souza, Minister of Finance; Senor Carlos Guimaraès, Minister of the Interior; Senor Washington Luis, Minister of War; and Senor Jorge Tibiriga, who had just vacated the Presidential Chair, and was one of the most distinguished statesmen of Saint Paul. Senor Augusto Ramos and our Vice-Consul, M. Delage, whose tact, intelligence, and wide understanding of his duties are above all praise, were also present on the occasion. The President, who had an exaggerated opinion of the defects of his French, managed to convey to me in excellently worded phrases his warm sympathy for France, which, indeed, he proved by his cordial reception of us. I, in my turn, assured him of the fraternal sentiments of France for Brazil and Brazilian interests in general, as also for Saint Paul and Paulist society in particular. And then, as though to prove that our compliments were not merely those demanded by etiquette, the conversation turned upon matters in which Saint Paul and France were so mixed that the Paulist seemed to take as much pleasure in ac-claiming France as did the Frenchman in ex-pressing his admiration for the stupendous work carried out by the Paulists with such giddy rapidity, in developing a modern State that founds its hopes for the future on the miracles accomplished in the past.
It was a joy to me to run about the city at haphazard. You do not ask from Saint Paul the stage-setting furnished by Rio; yet there is no lack of the picturesque. The suburbs of Saint Paul, where costly villas make bright spots of colour in the gorgeously beflowered gardens, can offer some fine points of view. At the end of an esplanade bordered with trees the plateau suddenly falls away into a gentle valley which would seem admirably designed for the site of a park, worthy the ambitions of Saint Paul if the authorities would but set about it while the price of land is still moderate. The only public garden at present owned by the town is a pretty promenade that can scarcely be considered as more than a pleasant witness to a modest past.
In the course of our walk we came upon the museum, which stands on the hill, from which the independence of Brazil was proclaimed. It contains fine zoölogical, botanical, and paleontological collections. I was shown moths of more than thirty centimetres in breadth of wing, and hummingbirds considerably smaller than cock-chafers. I paused for an instant before the cases containing relics of prehistoric America, with utensils, ornaments, and barbaric dresses of the aboriginal Indians who today are sadly travestied in abbreviated breeches and remnants of hard felt hats.
There was no time to visit the schools, to whose improvement the Paulist Government attaches high importance. I promised, however, to call at the Training College, and, indeed, could scarcely have done less, since this marvellous institution would be a model in any country of Europe. I can but regret that I am unable to lead the reader through the building to see it in all its detailsits rooms for study, its gardens, its workshops. The young Headmaster, Senor Ruy de Paula Souza, who was a pupil at our Auteuil College, does his professors the greatest credit and does not conceal his ambition to surpass them. A much too flattering reception was given me, in the course of which I had the surprise of hearing quotations from some of my own writings introduced into a speech made by one of the professors. France and French culture received a hearty ovation.
The warmth of the welcome given me at Saint Paul could only be outdone by Rio. The charm of a hearty expansion of fraternal feeling was added to the cordiality of the demonstrations in honour of our country. The pleasure felt when members of the same family meet after separation, and find their mutual affection has been generously developed in the course of life’s experiencethis was the impression made on me by the greeting of the students both at the Training College and at the Law Schools, where one of the young men delivered a speech in excellent French that formed the best of introductions to the lecture that followed. In the evening the same young men organised a torchlight procession. I stood at a window with a French officer on either side of me. A moving speech was made to me by a student who stood on the balcony of the house opposite. The procession passed by to the strains of the Marseillaise, amid a tumult of hurrahs, in honour of France.
I mentioned two French officers. There is here now a French Military Mission, to whom has been entrusted the training of the police force, whose duty it will be to ensure order in the State of Saint Paul. Colonel Balagny, who is in command, was away on furlough. Lieutenant-Colonel Gattelet, who takes his place, is a highly deserving soldier, who appears to combine strict discipline with the national urbanity.
I observed with satisfaction that the Mission was very popular at Saint Paul. When the march of the Sambre-et-Meuse rang out a crowd assembled to watch the passing of the troops with their French officers at their head. In-tensely proud of this force, the public takes a delight in cheering them. I was present at a fine review held on the field of manoeuvres at Varzea de Corma. The soldier of Saint Paul would figure creditably at Longchamp, for in precision and regularity of movement he can bear comparison with any. I must add that the Brazilian officers who second the efforts of the Mission are actuated by a zeal that merits a large share of the credit of the results.
When I congratulated Colonel Gattelet I felt I ought to inquire whether he had been obliged to have frequent recourse to punishment in order to bring the men to the point at which I saw them.
” Punishment ! ” he said. ” I have never had to administer any. I have no right, for one thing; and if I wanted to punish I should have to ask the permission of the Minister of War. But I have never had occasion even to think of such a thing, for all my men are as docile as they are alert and good-tempered.”
I could only admire. It is true we were discussing a select troop, who enjoy not only special pecuniary advantages but also quarters called by the vulgar name of barracks, but which, for conveniences, hygiene, and comfort, far surpass anything that our wretched budgets ever allow us to offer to the French recruits.