Writer Maria Graham says that Rio is more European than Bahia and Pernambuco

The following text is part of the special edition of VEJA around 200 years of independence. The idea is to treat the news as it would have been published in that week of September 7, 1822 – everything that would happen afterwards, therefore, has not yet happened. It is a historical tour of the daily life of two centuries ago.

How do you feel after your first visit to downtown Rio de Janeiro? The city of Rio is a more European city than Bahia or Pernambuco. The houses are three or four storeys high, with high roofs, tolerably beautiful. The streets are narrow, a little wider than the Corso in Rome.

And beyond architecture and urbanism, what is everyday life like? There is an air of haste and activity in the city that is very pleasing to our European eyes. However, all Portuguese take a siesta after dinner. Blacks, both free and slave, seem cheerful and happy at work. There is so much demand for them that they are fully employed and naturally well paid.

Women, in particular, seem to have caught his attention. Because? In the well-dressed women I saw at night I had great difficulty in recognizing the slovenly ones of the morning of the other day. The ladies were all dressed in French fashion: bodice, fichu, ornaments, everything was fine, even elegant, and there was a great display of jewelry. The English, however, although they were almost second-rate, or even of colonial nobility, snatched the prize for beauty and grace, because after all, clothes, even if elegant, when not used habitually, do nothing but embarrass and hinder movements. spontaneous and, as Mademoiselle Clairon (French actress and writer) notes, “to be able to act as a noblewoman in public, a woman must be so in private”.

You closely followed Dom Pedro’s announcement on January 9, Dia do Fico. Now that independence is on the way, what to say to the people? Now we just have to recommend Union and Tranquility to you! Really sublime expressions that contain all political philosophy. Without the Union we cannot be strong, without strength we cannot determine tranquility. Portuguese. citizens. You have a prince who speaks kindly to you of his own functions; which invites you to unite with him on the Constitution. Fulfill your duties. Heed the kind exhortation of your August Prince, but in compensation say to him: Lord, energy and vigilance. Energy to promote good. Vigilance to avoid evil.

What effects did you notice after “Fico” that still seem to echo through the streets of Rio de Janeiro today? The inhabitants in general, but especially the foreign merchants, are well pleased to see the troops of Lisbon dismissed, because for a long time they were tyrannically brutal with foreigners, with blacks and, not infrequently, with Brazilians themselves, and in the many weeks past their arrogance was revolting to both prince and people. There are happy faces and no less happy hearts.

Published in VEJA of September 13, 2022, special edition nº 2805

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The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Writer Maria Graham Rio European Bahia Pernambuco

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