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The king of Portugal, immediately after the arrival of Gaspar de Lemos, dispatched by Calral as messenger of the discovery, fitted out three ships to explore this new country, and invited Amerigo Vespucci, from Seville, to command the expedition. Ves. pucci sailed, and made land in five degrees south latitude. He went on shore to procure provisions, but could by no means induce the natives to trade with him. The next day the Indians collected in great numbers, built fires, and made signs for the strangers to accompany them to their huts. Two sailors volunteered upon this adventure, and were seen no more. Six or seven days passed, and the Indians appeared again, bringing their women with them, whom they sent forward as negociators. They appeared, however, unwilling to advance, and for this reason the Portuguese sent but one stout fellow to treat with them. The women surrounded him, handling and examining him with great curiosity. Presently there came down another woman from a hill, having a stake in her hands, with which she got behind him, and dealt a blow that brought him to the ground. The others seized him by the feet, and dragged him away. The women then cut the body in pieces, held them up in mockery to the boats, broiled, and devoured them, with much rejoicing
Vespucci, finding no precious metals, struck out to sea, burned one vessel on the African coast, and returned home. In May 10, 1503, Vespucci sailed a second time to discover the island of Melcha or Malacca, supposed to be so famous in the commerce of the Indian world, wrecked some of his vessels off the Brazilian coast, and in eighteen degrees south latitude, and thirty-five degrees west of the meridian of Lisbon, took port, remained five months on good terms with the natives, here erected a fort, and then sailed for Lisbon. This was the first settlement in Brazil'; and although Vespucci must be denied the honor of the discovery of this country, he is certainly entitled to the second honor of endeavoring to improve it by settlement. It does not appear, however, that any further attention was paid to it. They had found no gold, and the produce of the spice trade and the riches of the African mines were overflowing their coffers, and the government thought that it produced no articles of commerce which were worthy their notice.
This country was found to produce in abundance in the forests a tree, long known in Europe as a valuable dye, whose wood resembled fire, and thence its name, Pão Brases. Vespucci brought home a cargo of this wood,* and tempted many private adventurers to engage in this commerce.
This trade became so well known, that the coast or whole country obtained the name of Brazil, the singular of Brases, mentioned above. The change of name, from “ Vera Cruz" to Brazil, was much lamented by the Jesuits. Some of them attribute it directly to the agency of the devil-and call it “ The unworthy traffic, that the cupidity of man should change the wood of the cross, red with
The Tupis, an Indian tribe, called the tree araboutan. It grows as high and branches as widely as our oaks, and equals their ordinary girth. It is a very dry wood, and einits little smoke. Clothes washed in a dye of its ashes are stained with a durable red. Its use has been superseded by logwood.
the real blood of Christ, for that of another wood, which resembled it only in color.”
It was convenient for these traders to have agents among the natives ; and there was no difficulty in finding a sufficient number who would willingly take up their abode with friendly savages in a plentiful country, where they were under no restraint. Criminals were also sent to serve here. Indeed, the first Europeans left ashore were criminals. The usual offenses thus punished were those of blood and violence. It has always been the policy of Portugal to make her criminals of some use to the state ; and hitherto they had been sent to Africa, and more recently to India also. It did not work so well in this country as in India or Africa—for in these places their countrymen were compelled to serve with them, and thus removed their disgrace. The criminals here exceeded the better class of society, and continually injured and provoked the Indians; and they, losing that awe and veneration for a superior race, were ready to repel injury, and inflict a long train of evils and serious calamities, which they did in a most summary manner.
FRENCH TRADE TO BRAZIL, 1516. The French began very early to claim a share in the wealth of these discoveries. They obtained much of it by pirating against the homeward-bound ships from India, and these acts of piracy were sometimes followed with cruelty of the worst kind. The French expeditions to Brazil were of a more honorable character. They were usually in quest of the woods, parrots, and monkeys of Brazil. Two of these traders discovered a magnificent bay, one of the finest in the world. Unfortunately for them, a Portuguese squadron, under the command of Jaques, entered it about the same time: he named it All Saints Bay, (Bahia de Todos los Santos ;) and meeting with the French, proceeded to capture them. They resisted, and he sunk them, crew and cargo. Jaques established a factory farther north, near the bay of the Itamaraca.
PROGRESS OF THE COLONISTS. The Portuguese government, wholly occupied with the affairs of India, thought little of a country where profits were to be acquired from agriculture. The Spaniards hunted for gold, and were intoxicated with the ideas of the golden kingdom, the golden palaces of the sun, and the golden streets. The Portuguese sought as eagerly for commerce as the Spaniards for gold, and both neglected that which would have secured to each the utmost of their desires.Brazil was "left open like a common,” and the amount of care bestowed upon it by the government was no more than sufficient to prevent the French from trespassing. Individuals had settled along the coast, however, in the harbors and on the islands, and little towns and villages were growing up. It was now deemed advisable to divide Brazil into captaincies, which took place in 1530. In Madeira and in the Azores the plan of dividing them into hereditary captaincies was followed. These captaincies were granted to such persons as were willing to embark equal means in the adventure, with powers of jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, so extensive as in fact to be unlimited. This was proposed as the easiest and least expensive mode of colonizing this country, after an entire neglect of almost thirty years. Each captaincy extended along fifty leagues of coast. This made the policy very unwise, where the stations must necessarily have become widely separated, and Portugal and relief at a distance. It might have done better in the islands, but would not answer so well when a savage host of injured cannibals were eager to seize and devour them.
Martin Alphonso de Sousa, who was governor of Portuguese India, and took out Xavier to the east, was the first person who accepted one of these captaincies, called S. Vincente. He discovered the harbor of Rio Janeiro on the 1st of January, 1531. It was called by the natives Nitherohy, or hidden water; but Sousa supposing, at first view, that the fine expanse of water was only the estuary of some great river, called it the Rio de Janeiro, or River of January, from the first day of the month of the new year on which he discovered it. This very improper name the bay still retains. De Sousa was fortunate in his colony, with the exception of the loss of eighty men, in an expedition south in search of mines. His settlement was at Goa, an island about two and a half degrees south of Rio Janeiro city. Here the first sugar-canes were planted, brought from Madeira; here the first cattle reared, and here the other captaincies stocked themselves with both.
Another settlement was formed at what is now called Bahia City. The first settler, however, was Diogo Alvarez, in 1510. Southey gives quite a romantic account of Diogo's adventure. He says,
Diogo Alvarez, a native of Viana, young, and of noble family, who, with that spirit of enterprise which was then common among his countrymen, embarked to seek his fortune in strange countries. He was wrecked upon the shoals on the north of the bay of Bahia. Part of the crew were lost; others escaped this death to suffer one more dreadful—the natives seized and eat them! Diogo saw that there was no other possible chance of saving his life than by making himself as useful as possible to these cannibals. He therefore exerted himself in recovering things from the wreck, and by these exertions succeeded in conciliating their favor. Among other things, he was fortunate enough to get on shore some barrels of powder and a musket, which he put in order at his first leisure, after his masters were returned to their village; and one day, when an opportunity was favorable, brought down a bird before them. The women and children shouted Caramuru! Caramuru! which signified, a man of fire! And they cried out, that he would destroy them; but he told the men, whose astonishment had less of fear mingled with it, that he would go with them to war, and kill their enemies. Caramuru was the name which from thenceforward he was known by. They marched against the Tapuyas. The fame of this dreadful engine went before them, and the Tapuyas fled. From a slave Caramaru became a sovereign. The chiefs of the savages thought themselves happy if he would accept their daughters to be his wives.
The best families in Bahia trace their origin to him.” The captaincy of Bahia was given to Coatinho, and embraced the coast, from the great river St. Francisco to the point of Bahia, including its bays and creeks. At Bahia the sea seems to have broken in upon the land, or more probably some huge lake has borne down its barrier, and made way to the ocean. The entrance is very wide, and is from the south. This bay, having deep water every where, extending northward and westward, and the receptacle of many navigable rivers, and spotted with above a hundred islands, may very properly be called the “little Mediterranean” of the new world. Coatinho's settlement continued to flourish for some time; but he, having killed the son of a chief, was with his colony embroiled in a seven years' war, which terminated in the destruction of the sugarworks, and the expulsion of Coatinho and his colony from the Reconcave or Bahia,
Pernambuco was established about the same time with these others. The Donatory, Percira, landed in the port of Pernambuco. The entrance is through a long stone reef, and this the native name implies. By misconduct upon the part of the Portuguese toward the natives, war ensued, in which not one Portuguese, and very few Indians were killed. After this easy war the colony continued to prosper during Percira's life. This was the first war between the natives and the Portuguese of which any account has been preserved; and the detail is curious as given by Slade, one of the parties.
Maranham was given to Barros, the great historian, the Herodotus of Portugal; and his means (the usual fate of literary men) being small, he divided his grant with Andrada his father, and with Cunha. They undertook a scheme of conquest as well as of colonization, and their armament was far more expensive than any former one to Portuguese America. There were nine hundred men, of whom one hundred and thirteen were horsemen, and ten ships equipped. They were wrecked upon some shoals, which they supposed to be in the mouth of the great river, but which are a hundred leagues south of it. This island is now known by the name of Maranham,* in consequence of their error.
Meantime the Spaniards were not inattentive to this country. They sent out a second expedition, under Cabot, to proceed to the south seas; but, for loss of provisions, &c., entered the river Solis, discovered by Solis, and changed the name from Solis to that of La Plata. The Spaniards were expelled by a tribe of Indians, called the Guaranies. Cabot brought home some silver and gold, which was not obtained from the Indians, as he asserts, but brought by them from Peru, whither they penetrated in the reign of the father of the last Inca.
We should like to pause a little, did our limits permit, and speak of the expedition of Diego de Ordas, who left a memorable name in Mexican history, he having ascended the burning mountain Papocatapee; nor would we pass by in silence the famous enterprise of Gonzalo Pizarro in search of El Dorado. We rejoice, however, that we have not at present to speak of his cruelty,t and treatment,
Vieyra considers the word Maranham as an augmentative of mar, (sea,) given to the river on account of its magnitude. Therefore, he says, the natives call it Para, and the Portuguese Maranham; that is to say, the Sea, and the great Sea.
† Above a hundred years afterward, when the first Jesuit missionaries entered these parts, many Indians fled as soon as they heard of their coming, so fresh was the memory of Pizarro's cruelties.
worthy of only a Pizarro, inflicted upon the poor Indians; nor of the utter destitution of himself and men in search of the golden kingdom, when they boiled their leathern girdles, and the soles of their shoes, with such herbs as seemed most eatable. Pizarro's companion, Orellana, who as a discoverer surpassed all his coun. trymen, and as a conqueror was unfortunate, died of brokenness of heart, in finding utter disappointment to every fond hope ; and his prospects, which were so bright in their rising, set in darkness and gloom. The El Dorado was not, and his heart became sorrowful even unto death. Orellana's history is touching in the extreme.
After the ill success of Don Pedro de Mendoza, it might have been thought that no adventurer would have been sanguine enough to risk his property upon the same enterprise ; the vacant post was however solicited by Vaca, who had been ten years a slave among the barbarous tribes of Florida. In November 2, 1540, he sets sail from Spain, experiences considerable loss before reaching land at St. Catalina, and from thence marches overland, advances from Assumpcion up the Paraguay, and enters into the country toward Peru, in search of gold. He returns for want of food. There is a mutiny against Vaca, and he is sent prisoner to Spain. This is a summary of this Spanish expedition, which does not properly come under our notice in this communication. Several other adventures were made by the Spaniards in search of the El Dorado, but were all unsuccessful.
Brazil, as we have intimated, may be considered as having been colonized on the principle of the feudal system. Few settlements were founded by the crown, and the lord proprietors enjoyed almost all the regal rights, save that of issuing coinage. An authority so absolute must be inevitably abused by these desperate adventurers; and so loud and frequent were the complaints that were made to Portugal, as to afford the government a fair pretext for revoking the powers conferred on the proprietors, by which, in fact, the settlements had been alienated from the crown. They were left, however, in full possession of their grants in other respects; and after an elapse of half a century from the discovery of Brazil, during which time much capital had been vested, according to some it began to be regarded as a possession of considerable importance ; so much so, that a governor-general," with full authority, civil and
Some contend that the appointment of governor-general was due to the following causes :—The Inquisition of Portugal, in 1548, had stripped great numbers of Jews of their possessions, and banished them to Brazil. The Jews, being deemed the most honest people in Portugal, were able to obtain advances of money from merchants, by which they were enabled to procure sugar-canes from Madeira, and to form plantations. Sugar, till then, had been used only in medicine ; but at this time was being introduced into families as an article of luxury, and the demand for it continually increasing, proved very favorable to the colonists. The court of Lisbon began to be sensible that a colony might be beneficial without yielding either gold or silver ; and hence the appointment of a governor-general. It is true, that great numbers of Jews were banished in 1548; that they procured money from merchants; that the sugar-cane was more in demand ; and that Portugal was becoming sensible of the value of her possessions in Brazil; but it is scarcely possible that the appointment of De Sousa in 1549 could be occasioned by consequences resulting from the banishment of the Jews in 1548.