Ten Months in Brazil; With Incidents of Voyages and Travels, Descriptions of Scenery and Character, Notices of Commerce and Productions, Etc
By Lee and Shepard.. Boston :
THE title of this book leaves its reviewer little to say in explanation of its purposes. It is a lively enough book, and a book well enough written, with a good deal of dash and piquancy in the style ; and yet, like the blameless dinner to which Doctor Johnson objected that it was not a dinner to ask a man to, it is not a book to advise one to read. It does not appear to us, after reading it, that we are wiser concerning Brazil than before ; even the facts in it we greeted, in many cases, with the warmth due to old statistical acquaintances. The philosophy of the author seems to be that the Brazilians are a bad set, and that they have become so mainly by mingling their blood with that of their negroes,—a race never so useful and happy as when in the discipline of slavery. Mr. Codman contrasts their hopeless state on the lands of a good-heartecl Scotchman in Brazil, who intends to let them earn their freedom by working for him, with their condition on the neighboring estate of a sharp, slave-driving Yankee, who acquiesces unmurmuringly in the purposes of Providence; “his theory being, that, as labor is their condition, the greatest amount of work compatible with their health and fair endurance is to be got from them. With this end in view, there is a judicious distribution of rewards and punishments.”Mr. Codman finds the charm of novelty in these just and simple ideas, but we think we have in past years met with the same ingenious reasoning in Southern speeches and newspapers ; and we suspect the system was one commonly adopted in our slave States, where the occasional omission of punishments was economically made to represent the judicious distribution of rewards.
In fact, Mr. Codman seems to have travelled and written too late to benefit his generation. Six or seven happy years ago, an enlightened public sentiment would have received his views of slavery with acclaim ; but we doubt if they would now sell a copy of his book even in Charleston.