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charact ER OF THE BRAZILIANS-CONSTITUTION OF THE EMPIRE-RULING PARTY – ELECTIVE REGENCY-ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE—ELECTIVE FRANCHISE—ARMY — NAVY – SCHOOLS — SLAVERY — FEELING TOWARDS FOREIGNERS — POPULATION__ NATIONAL DEBT, REVENUE, AND EXPENDITURES – COMMERCE – EVENTS IN THE SQUADRON-DEPARTURE FROM RIO.
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DURING my stay at Rio, I had an opportunity of seeing several intelligent gentlemen, who had long been residents of the country; I am indebted to them for much information relative to the political state of this empire. Brazil, though quiet at the time of our visit, will long be destined to outbreaks and alarms, either from local oppression or some slight political movements. The people for the most part take very little interest in politics, or in the general welfare of the state. As yet, their habits make them averse to mental exertions, and they generally prefer their own ease, which precludes them from engaging in political excitement. They are not yet sufficiently advanced in civilization and education, so far as regards the mass of the population, to rise from the mental degradation which the policy of the mother country entailed upon them. The Brazilians, from the character I have received of them, are very ceremonious and punctilious, susceptible of flattery, suspicious yet courteous, selfish, cunning; assuming frankness and generosity, timid, unsteady in purpose, and without any large and comprehensive views. What is claimed from them as a right in a bold and confident manner, is readily yielded, while often through their ignorance they become presumptuous. The people are farther advanced in morals and intelligence than their government, but as yet they are not sufficiently enlightened to know their power. They are slow to act, and appear very patient under oppression. Long endurance of despotism has made them so. The new constitution was adopted in 1825. This secured the legislative power from further interruption, and achieved a complete victory over the bayonets and tyranny of Don Pedro, by forcing him,
through the threats of the people and his fears, to grant a more liberal constitution. Political freedom seems to have made rapid advance. ment through the freedom of the press, and the voice of liberty may be said to have been heard. At first it was listened to with apprehensions, and its meaning but imperfectly understood. Although many years have since passed, the people have scarcely more than begun to feel that they possess individual rights, and for the most part yield a blind obedience to the laws. This is true as respects the population of the seaports; but in the country, the population being sparse, communication of every kind is difficult, and social intercourse embarrassed by early habits and customs. The advantages of a free and frequent interchange of sentiments are in consequence almost entirely unknown. A long time will probably elapse before there will be any political struggle among them. They are prospering in their private concerns, and contented without any ambition to advance themselves in political knowledge, or to meddle with the concerns of the government, except in their local operation. The state of society in the interior is very much of this character, and consequently the affairs of the country have suffered little derangement from the difficulties which have occurred, and mal-administration under the different sovereigns who have held rule for the last thirty years. Through part of this time a rapid decline was experienced in the national prosperity, which led to the abdication of the late Emperor Pedro I. The whole political machine by which the government is administered is uncouth and awkward, being composed of a mixture of feudal notions with the refinements of modern times. It is moved and sustained more by the habit of obeying the laws, than by skill and judgment in administering them. There is an entire absence of all force, moral as well as physical, to sustain the government; yet to this in a great measure is it to be ascribed, that the country has not become a prey to anarchy and confusion. Combined with the above causes, is the jealousy that exists among the parties who have been called to office, and which prevents self-aggrandizement. Pretensions have been at times asserted, dangerous to public tranquillity and threatening the subversion of the established order of things. These have been promoted by the disaffected and discontented, principally composed of or countenanced by those persons who, after the departure of Don Pedro I., remained in the country, and who, having lost their importance with their offices, returned to private life, with their pride wounded, their fortunes and reputation impaired and injured, and themselves dissatisfied with their condition. These persons have sought every occasion to disturb the even current of events, and to array themselves against the power of the state, wielded as they deem it to be, by plebeian usurpation of the royal prerogative; but hitherto they have failed. Causes of dissatisfaction are not wanting to produce discontent. They are indeed numerous, and among them are a total want of justice in the administration of the laws; the neglect of all petitions for political reform and the remedy of abuses; the onerous and injurious regulations imposed by the government; and the haughty conduct and absolute power of those who hold office. Notwithstanding all these discouragements, well-informed residents perceive an improvement within the last few years, on the part of the government and of the people also. The establishment of a public press has had its effect in producing this change, by enlightening the public mind, and will gradually acquire the same control here that it exercises elsewhere; and education is better attended to than it used to be, although as yet it is far in the background. According to the best information, the present government was established by, and is under the guidance of, a few leading men, a small party in Rio, who manage all the political concerns of the empire. They seem to act without any desire of personal aggrandizement, and apparently without ambition to be distinguished beyond the circle of their party. From what has already been said of the interior and the character of its inhabitants, it will be seen that there is no great difficulty in managing the provinces by means of a few influential men, and thus the whole power seems concentrated within the city of Rio, where it is easy to direct things to the issue that they may desire. It was this party which overthrew or effected the reform in the constitution under Don Pedro I. in 1823, and established the new Congress, consisting of a senatorial body of fifty, who were chosen for life, and of one hundred deputies, for three years. The reformed constitution provided that the succession should devolve on the eldest son of Pedro I., during whose minority there should be three regents chosen for life. Things went on badly after the beginning of the new order of government, principally in consequence of the disastrous Banda Oriental war, which caused a great sacrifice of money and resources, deranged the currency, and involved the nation in debt. In 1831, Don Pedro abdicated the throne, and went to Europe; the regency came into power, and this band of leading men formed themselves into an opposition to the government. They succeeded in making some important changes, setting aside the three regents for life, substituting