A Letter from Brazil
[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] &a—To the mind of many an Englishman the name of Brazil conveys an impression only a little less vague than that of Arcadia or Cathay, Ethiopia or Malay, while the recent operations on the London money market in connexion with Brazil stocks may seem to the imagination of the same stolid onlooker to savour of that wild speculation of former times which terminated in the bursting of the South Sea Bubble.
To this Englishman, with his outlook limited by the daily routine on the one hand and by sport in its varied forms on the other, surrounded by a hundred familiar situations which lull him to a lethargic state of unenterprising and grumbling contentment, Brazil appears but a shadowy far-off place, a Limbo. He thinks it is no concern of his to bother about what has never entered his life, and it is far too much trouble to acquire information on such an unimportant topic. He supposes dimly that Brazil is situated in Asia or America, or perhaps the Brazils are an archipelago like the Hesperides, in an Eastern or Southern sea. At the back of his brain he retains indistinct memories of the Spanish Main, so that if pressed he would indicate Spanish (if anything so civilized) to be the language of the country, but in all probability some local dialect such as Chowee, Oovoo or Telegu.
So that it would be a pleasant surprise to him if he could be torn away from his office and pet clubs and cronies and be placed on board one of the luxurious steamers of the R.M.S.P.Co., which would take him in a very short time from the mists and clouds and drizzle and pallid sun of his own dear country in a southern direction and slightly westward, to turquoise skies, balmy breezes, golden sunshine and silver moons, where the skies are painted with unnumbered fires, over seas calm and green or blue ; till at last on the seven- teenth day the ship would reach the port of Santos, with its miles of docks and up-to-date appliances for lading and dis- charging cargo.
Here our traveller on disembarking will find himself in a busy centre with very little of the romantic attached to it. As he passes through the Customs he will not fail to appreciate the considerate attitude of the officials. He, if perchance accompanied by his wife or daughters, will not find himself, embarrassed by the possession of silk articles of apparel, not one but several dresses, &c., of that delightful but, to the English fiscal mind, provocative material ; his own wardrobe will arouse no excitement, for the Brazilian authorities do not expect a first-class passenger to dress like a tramp, any more than they would permit a steerage immigrant to introduce into the country the- clothes that make the gentleman. In a word one is allowed to take in as personal luggage whatever clearly belongs to the more or less immediate personal use of one's station in life. It may at first sight seem like one law for the rich and another for the poor, but is it not so all through life ? And at any rate the system is based on reason. May it not be that the notorious rigour of the English- Custonis in this matter of articles clearly not imported for the purposes of trade and commerce, is one of the factors that pre-dispose Brazilians againstiiricluding England in their visit to Europe ? - Having safely and. pleasantly passed the Custom's, the visitor, when he has enjoyed a- run out to the beaches of Conzaga and the inimitable Guam* will enter the train for . Sao Paulo. His journey over the Serra will take him up -a steep rise of 2,000 ft.. through. impressive scenery of untrodden
forests. He will in a couple of hours arrive at the city of Sio Paulo, an industrial centre, of nearly a million inhabitants; differing-in no essential from European cities of the same size.
There are tall chimney stacks marking factories where hundreds Of operatives, male and female, earn their livings in the mann.
facture of textiles, jute sackings, boots and whatever else factories produce, including silk stockings, chocolates and Studs ; there are breweries, paper mills and foundries ; Armour's frozen meat, Ford's motor-cars, and Coats's cottons are all produced on the spot ; fireworks to rival Brock's; perfumes to rival Coty's, and Scotch whiskies that would make Scotland blush. There are busy streets full of handsome shops;
Windows replete with glittering diamonds, Paris fashions to suit the most capricious taste ; palatial hotels offer the
maximum of comfort and the most inviting collation flavoured with the most delicate wines and rounded of with real coffee. Thither one may be transported in taxis, Hudson, Studebaker, Buick, Cadillac, Fiat Or Ford ; Thornyeroft 'buses or electric trams.
If the traveller prefers to motor from Santos to Sao Paulo he will no doubt be pleased to meet again the familiar white
line, while in the city he will renew acquaintance with police
direction and one-way traffic. The transaction of business in the streets will remind him of Loinbard Street or Hatton
Garden, and the open-air cafés wilt make him think of Paris, ur, in Rio, of the Riviera. The palm tree of his desire will be there, but he must disconnect it in his 'mind from any
idea of inactivity and languor. Business is very much business and when he has completed his negotiations with the Brazilians, Portuguese, Italians and Turks, if the result is at all favourable to himself, he may feel fairly justified in visiting Scotland, though a trip to Yorkshire, en route. may serve as a post-graduate course. On the other hand if he did not find his business acumen to be equal to the
struggle in his earlier efforts, he would at least acquire valuable experience : he would always, moreover, have the consolation of a very handsome difference in the Income Tax, and his business plans would not be interfered with by strikes or rumours of strikes.
What paltry attempts have been made in this direction have in the main been made abortive by the swift and sure
action of the authorities. Your Mr. Cook would have enjoyed a very short season of prosperity in this land where public agitators soon disappear for the public good.
The air remains clear, in many senses, through the small necessity for coal and Brazil is fortunate in enjoying unlimited and cheap electric force with its untold applications, and, as you know, this is the key to industrial prosperity, as witness the U.S.A. -- For Brazil is well supplied with rivers which; rising near the coast, flow inland towards the great river. Parana, thus providing endless power throughout the, southern half of the country, which ' oily awaits further development. At the present moment thousands of men are 'at work on a new dam sonic twenty miles from Siio Paulo, which will supply that town with all the force it requires or is likely to require for many years to come, in spite of its astounding rate of growth.
, And yet in all this England takes only a minor part. to a certain extent through lack of interest, but also undeniably
tbrough the uncertainty of its trade. English goods no doubt
are best, but often the question arises whether they are the most suitable. Their weights and measures differ and came confusion ; their catalogues are printed in English or_Spanish, the latter language by no means commending itself to_a people that speaks Portuguese. Although the rest of South America is Spanish-speaking, Brazil is by far the biggest and greatest- of the countries that compose it, and naturally resents being asked to adopt the language of smaller, less -important neighbours.
Still the greatest. handicap of all is the problematic date on which delivery of goods may be expected, and the possibk vagaries af.the -exchange in the meantime. - - It is scarcely necessary to enter into a description of the, Capital of the Country, Rio -de Janeiro; as its ineffable charm has already been widely advertised, though not sufficiently appreciated. The journey from Sao Paulo occupies a day or a night and can be made under very pleasant conditions—
I am, Sir, &c., YouR CORRESPONDENT IN BRAZIL