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THE JOLLY MILLER.
A FRAGMENT. · It was a sultry day in the month of July, and there was scarcely wind enough to blow a thistle down.
Little urchins, with red faces, were chasing the butterflies, jacketin-hand; while some tried in vain to raise their paper-kites, running in every direction of the compass; but both Æolus and Boreas seemed out of breath, and they could not compass their design.
Lolling indolently at the foot of his mill-steps stcod a stout miller whistling merrily, when a stranger, who had been for some time slowly toiling up the hill, accosted him.
“Why dost thou whistle, friend ? " said he.
“For lack of wind,” replied the miller abruptly ; and the stranger smiled at the paradoxical reply.
« Thou art short-” continued he.
“ Some six feet, at any rate," answered the miller, drawing himself up.
“ Thou’rt a merry soul.”
“ Merry ?-pshaw !-flat as a cask of unbunged ale—no !--that's windy-rather like an unblown bladder, for that 's flat for the same reason, want of wind.”
“ Then thou art only in spirits when thy mill's going like a racehorse.”
“ That's a bad comparison," said the miller; “ for my mill only goes when it's blown, and that's just when a horse stops.'
“True; I should have said an ass, for that, too, goes the better for a blow.”
“Thou hast hit it,” said the miller, laughing ; “and I shall henceforth never see a donkey without thinking ”
“Of me? ” anticipated the stranger, joining in the laugh. “Surely," continued he, “thine is a happy vocation. Thy situation, too, is so much above the richest of thy neighbours, — nay, even the great lord of the manor himself must look little from the height thou beholdest him."
“Why, yes,” replied the miller ; “and, although I be not a proud man, I look down upon all ; for not only the peasant, but the squire, is beneath me. 'Tis true, like another tradesman, I depend upon my sails for a livelihood : but I draw all my money from the farmer's till: and then, all the hungry look up to me for their meal.”
«How grateful ought all to be for thy favours !”
“Ay, indeed; for, where would be either the highest or the lowest bread without my exertions ? To be sure, if they be ungrateful I can give them the sack !”
“Every mouth ought to be filled with the miller's praise," said the stranger.
“ Certainly,” added the miller ; “for every mouth would be imperfect without the grinders.”
Here they both joined in a hearty laugh; and the jolly miller, finding the stranger's opinions and sentiments so flatteringly in unison with his own, gave him an invitation to taste his malt, while they conversed upon his meal.
VISIT TO THE ORGAN MOUNTAINS, IN BRAZIL.
The first view of the town of Rio de Janeiro is far from prepossessing. The streets are exceedingly narrow and dirty, the houses low, and of the most primitive forms, and altogether destitute of symmetry or architecture. The palace is a large, ugly building, possessing as little interest as the smaller habitations. A few soldiers were on guard, or rather lounging at the palace-gate; two sentries sauntered to and fro with a listless, sleepy air ; the butt-end of their muskets over their shoulders, and a paper cigar in each of their mouths. The officer's sword was not drawn, although on duty; but, in lieu of the cold steel, he grasped a pipe of peace. At this moment a female slave passed with a large pitcher of water upon her head. “Agoa,” cried out the officer, and, taking the earthenware vase, he took a long draught, saying, “ Muyto obligado,” and again resumed his laborious duties at the gate of the palace. I soon after arrived at the fruit-market. Black girls, dressed in white, with red turbans, and long gold earrings, were sitting cross-legged on each side of the market, and before them lay the produce of the banana and the orange-tree, with figs, grapes, pines, and sweet lemons. A little further on they were selling sugar-canes cut into small portions, which looked less tempting than anything else in the market. All these women were playing upon a sort of small viola, an instrument they make themselves, and the sound of which is far less discordant than a first view would seem to promise. It is made of deal wood, with three little iron bars, not unlike a mousetrap.
There are some large, dull-looking squares in Rio ; but the only tolerable street is the Rúa d'Ouvidor, the abode of the French colony. Here you find coiffeurs, modistes, bibliothèques, orfévres, and every other trade; but the prices for French produce are exorbitant, nearly two-thirds dearer than in Paris. I then visited the custom-house and several churches, all very inferior buildings, and worthy of no sort of remark. After dinner the streets were tolerably full. The green casements of all the windows were half upen, and women's faces were peeping out slyly, or receiving visits at the windows of the Rez de Chaussée. At nearly every house the tinkling sound of some sort of guitar or viola is heard, of which there are at least twenty different kinds.
After two days' sojourn in the town of Rio, I departed on a visit to an uncle, who had an estate in the Organ Mountains, at the distance of sixty miles from the town. Here I remained some months, and was enabled to form some opinion of the society and manners of the landholders and inhabitants of the interior of the country. At six in the morning I was booted and spurred ready for my departure to the Fazenda de St. Anna, - all the estates being called “ fazendas." The first part of the journey is performed by water-a boat leaving Rio for Piedade daily. The boat was light, with a thick, substantial awning, manned by aborigines, and steered by an Italian from Genoa. My only companion was a Portuguese, who devoured bons-bons for two hours, and then resigned himself to sleep. We passed many beautiful islands, on which the cocoa-tree, and fruits, and flowers, were growing in wild luxuriance. Some of these isles have been built upon, which has by no means improved their otherwise romantic appearance. One
is covered with ill-constructed, daubed yellow houses, belonging to the citizens and rentiers of Rio. When we arrived at the little village of Piedade, we landed, and I found my uncle's guide and two mules in readiness to conduct me to the fazenda. The guide was one of the sharpest-looking boys I ever saw, perfectly black, with a very Mephistopheles expression. He wore a white turban, and Turkish white trou. sers, gold earrings, and no shoes or stockings. He went by the name of the Black Dwarf, and has made himself famous, as I afterwards learned, by a variety of exploits. Two years before he had run away to Gongo with a little black girl, and had committed several daring robberies, for which he had been branded on both sides of his face.
On arriving at Trieschal, at the foot of the Organ Mountain, we halted for the night at an inn by the roadside. There was only one room, in which were nine beds; but I was lucky in having one all to myself, together with the furniture, consisting of a block for a table, three chairs, and a washhand-stand, besides a most superb pair of plated candlesticks and wax-lights, which were ill in keeping with the more humble decorations of the dormitory. At five in the morning the mules were saddled, and we again started. From the foot of the mountain the roads became dreadful, and the scenery much wilder, with huge precipices, and gigantic trees and thickets. Sometimes we were obliged to dismount, and lead our mules. I observed several flights of parrots and other beautiful birds; but nothing pleased me more than to watch the humming-birds, and to observe them darting into the flowers. They are not easily frightened. It is extremely difficult to kill them without injuring the feathers. The wild flowers in this savage spot were lovely in the extreme. A pattern bouquet would make the fortune of a French fleuriste, or designer in embroidery. After many difficulties, about ten o'clock we gained the top of the mountain, and were now upon the estate ; and in a few minutes I arrived at the house, and received the hearty welcome of its owner. The skin of a spotted ounce was hanging up before the door, with its teeth and claws as trophies. Hunting expeditions sometimes take place here for several days together; the blacks carrying provisions, and at night knocking up little huts with a few sticks, and the leaves of the palm-tree. Opposite the house was an encampment of muleteers; a large wood fire was blazing under a shed, where the whole party were busily engaged in cooking their fieizao, or beans.
They all wore the poncho — a large piece of cloth, with a hole in the middle, for the head ; large straw hats, no shoes and stockings, but a large spur attached to the left heel only; which, with the belt containing their large knives, completed the costume. The mules composing the troop, thirty in number, were grazing about, delighted to be relieved from their heavy burthens for the rest of the day.
The dinner is a sort of table d'hôte. Every fazendeiro is obliged to keep open house; and any one passing by, whether rich or poor, noble or bourgeois, puts up at their house as if it were an inn; dining, sleeping, and breakfasting at their expense. At some tables even free blacks are received ; and people without coats, shoes, or stockings, frequently present themselves at the fazenda, and dine with us. It put me in mind of what Voltaire said to a poor curé, who had thus taken up his abode at the house of the philosopher. Being asked in what he differed from Don Quixote, the curé was puzzled. “Why, the Don, you know,” replied Voltaire, “mistook all the inns for castles, but you seem to take all the castles for inns.”
The South American hospitality proceeds, however, from the want of inns. Among the rich fazendeiros, who put up at each other's houses, presents are generally made in return, such as a sack of flour, a brace of dogs, a pig, or some Indian corn. · The cuisine is a mixture of English, Brazilian, and French ; and when the French secretary and attachés are staying at the estate, they frequently spend the day in the kitchen, initiating the black cook into the mysteries of vol-au-vents, pâtés, and fricandeaux. After soup, the black feizao, or bean, dressed with bacon, is a usual dish. Ham, lizards, chickens, parrots, armadillos, jacotingas, and a pièce de resistance à l'Anglaise, — such as beef, mutton, or pork, - compose the motley bill of fare; and, after the French fashion, the moment dinner is over, coffee is taken, and the party rise from the table. · It was Sunday, which is a fête-day at the fazenda. All the blacks came from the different parts of the estate, to the number of one hundred and thirty, with the children, who on this day take all sorts of liberties with their master. He swings them, and gives them fruit. In fact, their “ domingo" is like the famous saturnalia of the Romans, with this exception in favour of the modern helots, that their fête takes place once a week, while the saturnalia was only once a year.
The blacks live upon Indian corn, feizao, vegetables, and a little meat; the last, however, in very small quantities. Their cups and dishes are the skins of the gourd, and by no means a bad substitute for earthenware.
The next morning I visited the garden, which presented an almost European appearance. The coffee-tree, the cocoa, and the banana, were certainly to be found, but in small numbers compared with the numerous beds of artichokes, peas, turnips, carrots, and potatoes. But the enigma was solved by the appearance of the head-gardener, Monsieur Felix, a Frenchman, who had been fifteen years on the Serra or Estate, and is allowed to have done wonders in producing exotic vegetables. He has reared even moss-roses ; a feat almost unequalled in Brazil. Strawberries are very plentiful, but greatly inferior to those of England. The climate of the estate is not congenial to the growth of coffee ; indeed, there are not more than one thousand coffee-trees to be found in the whole extent. When in flower, the coffee-tree is beautiful, and is hardly less so when the berry supplies the place of the blossom ; at first of a hue nearly approaching to vermilion, and gradually darkening to a deep-burnt carmine.
The climate of the Serra, in comparison with Rio de Janeiro, is so healthy that it has obtained the name of the Montpelier of Brazil. Scattered about the estate were several pretty cottages built à la Suisse, and inhabited by the English families who were obliged to leave Rio during the intense heat that prevails in the months of January and February. There is generally a difference of ten degrees in favour of the country; and the thermometer is rarely higher that 80° in the sun, but in the city 90° to 100° is a common temperature. The mornings and nights are often deliciously cool, and give strength to face the meridian sun. In June the glass is sometimes as low as 32°.
We rode one morning out to see the plantations, which are very extensive, and situated at about a league from the fazenda. These consist chiefly of Indian corn and potatoes, and are on the height of a mountain, which not long ago was virgin wood ; and you still may see
the stumps of the trees peeping over the Indian corn. The whole estate consists of sixty-two square miles. A dozen to twenty dogs accompanied us on our ride, and killed several lizards and armadillos, which fill the Brazilian game-bag. On returning to the court-yard of the house I found it tenanted by a solitary ostrich of the country, - a beautiful but most melancholy bird.
About thirty of the blacks are employed in the domestic arrangements, the stables, and the garden of the fazenda. The greater number work in the plantations, and each slave is the possessor of a small piece of ground, on which he is permitted to work at leisure hours and on Sundays. This ground brings him a yearly revenue of nearly one pound. They are all tolerably dressed, with the exception of shoes and stockings, which no black ever wears; and even among the whites up the country you rarely see the latter. The naked foot, or sabots, are quite à la mode in the interior. A black's rations are very large ; it is true he has but little animal food; but, where is the European peasant that has ? I have seen the almost monastic fare of the peasantry of several countries, and all fall short of the plentiful and substantial diet of the blacks in Brazil. They are seldom overworked, and are remarkably strong and healthy, living to an advanced age. In India, the man of colour who brushes your coat will refuse to clean your pipe, and your servants are multiplied in proportion; but then they are lightly clad, and a little rice is enough for their maintenance. In Brazil, however, instead of a few grains of rice, your slaves must be well-dressed, and fed abundantly. If a master wishes his slave to work on the Sunday, he pays him for his labour, and never less than one shilling a day. The real drawback to their happiness arises from their subjection to the frequent brutal exhibition of passion on the part of their masters. The severest corporal punishment is immediately inflicted on the slightest suspicion, and without a hearing. The black is tied to a tree, and condemned to receive four hundred or five hundred lashes, sometimes inflicted by the hand of the master himself; and even women slaves undergo the same disgusting punishment!
The blacks have in general good ears for music, every one playing some viola of his own construction. Every Saturday night there is a ball, at which they dance till daybreak to the sound of a small drum, which I imagine must be the same as the West Indian tom-tom. The sound is most discordant; and the scene a very lively representation of the dance of the demons. In the middle of a large hut where these revels are held is a huge wood fire, and round this the blacks dance merrily, making the most fiend-like noise imaginable. The smoke is so dense that you can only catch a glimpse of these strange faces at intervals; but every now and then you see the white teeth and eyes grinning horribly, and then again all is veiled in smoke. At night they all come to the fazenda to ask our blessing, and, after the usual answer of “ sempre,” go away. When any black wants to marry, he asks permission of “ The Senhor," who marries them, and also grants divorces, besides being sometimes physician, surgeon, &c. One woman on the estate, who had not yet attained her fourteenth year, had already changed her husband five times !
Those who believe that the African race are little more than a superior sort of animal, scarcely endowed with reason, must be very ill-informed. The majority of the blacks are exceedingly intelligent ;