domingo, 3 de março de 2019

A Voyage in the 'Sunbeam'

Num post publicado em 2012 referi-me a "A Voyage in the Sunbeam, our Home on the Ocean for Eleven Months", um livro editado em Londres em 1878 da autoria de Annie Brassey.
Nest post publico alguns excertos relativos à passagem do "Sunbeam" por Macau no âmbito de uma viagem à volta do mundo ao longo de 11 meses, entre Julho de 1876 e Maio de 1877.

Baroness Brassey (1839-1887) and her husband Thomas, Baron Brassey (1836-1918), decided to undertake a circumnavigation in the Sunbeam, their 531-ton, three-masted, topsail schooner, with a 350-horsepower steam engine. The Sunbeam embarked on 1 July 1876 with a complement of forty-four comprising the Brasseys and their children, a small party of friends, a professional crew, and a complete domestic staff. Their voyage took them 'across the south Atlantic, through the Strait of Magellan into the Pacific Ocean. Their arrival at Hastings on 27 May 1877 completed the eleven-month voyage. The voyage was to make Annie Brassey a celebrity not because she had been round the world in a luxury yacht, but because she struck exactly the right note in her book about the adventure, using the entries in her journal to describe rambles ashore and daily life afloat.
A viagem rumo a Macau começa em Hong Kong onde apanham a embarcação "Flying Cloud"... Já no território que poucos anos tinha sido bastante afectado por um tufão (1874)  destaque para a visita às ruínas de S. Paulo e ao Jardim e Gruta de Camões.
Tuesday, March 6th 
The little girls and I went ashore at 7.30, to collect all our purchases with the help of a friend. We glanced at the museum too, which contains some curious specimens of Chinese and Japanese arms and armour, and the various productions of the two countries, besides many strange things from the Philippine and other islands. I was specially interested in the corals and shells. There were splendid conch shells from Manilla, and a magnificent group of Venus flower-baskets, dredged from some enormous depth near Manilla. There were also good specimens of reptiles of all sorts, and of the carved birds heads for which Canton is famous. They look very like amber, and are quite as transparent, being carved to a great depth. I believe the bird is a kind of toucan or hombill, but the people here call it a crane.
It was now time to say goodbye to Hongkong and to our kind friends, for we had to go on board the Flying Cloud which starts for Macao at two o'clock precisely, and our passages had been taken in her. Tom could not go with us, as he had fixed tonight for the dinner at which the Chinese gentlemen proposed to entertain him; but he came to see us off. (...)
The town of Macao is situated on a peninsula at the end of the island of the same name. It was the first foreign settlement in China belonging to the Portuguese, and was once a fine, handsome town, with splendid buildings. Unfortunately Macao lies in the track of the typhoons, which at times sweep over it with a resistless force, shattering and smashing everything in their career. These constantly recurring storms, and the establishment of other ports, have resulted in driving many people away from the place, and the abolition of the coolie traffic has also tended to diminish the number of traders. Now the town has a desolate, deserted appearance, and the principal revenue of the government is derived from the numerous gambling-houses. 
We landed at the pier soon after five o'clock, and were carried across the peninsula through the town to the Praya on the other side. Here we found a large unoccupied man- sion, situated in a garden overlooking the sea, and, having delivered our Chinese letters, were received with the greatest civility and attention by the comprador and the servants who had been left in charge of our friend's house. The rooms upstairs, to which we were at once shown, were lofty and spacious, opening into a big verandah. Each room had a mosquito room inside it, made of wire gauze and wood, like a gigantic meat-safe, and capable of containing, besides a large double bed, a chair and a table, so that its occupant is in a position to read and write in peace, even after dark. 
This was the first time we had seen one of these contrivances. By the direction of the comprador the house chairs were prepared, and coolies were provided to take us for an expedition round the town, while our things were being unpacked, and the necessary arrangements made for our comfort. 
Macao is a thoroughly Portuguese- looking town, the houses being painted blue, green, red, yellow, and all sorts of colours. It is well garrisoned, and one meets soldiers in every direction. We passed the fort, and went up to the lighthouse, which commands a fine view over land and sea; returning home by a different way through the town again, which we entered just as the cathedral bell and the bells of all the churches were pealing the Ave Maria. On our return we found a fire lighted and everything illuminated, and by half-past eight we had a capital impromptu dinner served. Chinese Tommy, who waited on us, had decorated the table most tastefully with flowers. Macao is a favourite resort for the European resi- dents of Hongkong who are addicted to gambling. 
The gentlemen of our party went to observe the proceedings, but tonight there were only a few natives playing at fan-tan - a game which, though a great favourite with the natives, appears very stupid to a European. The croupier takes a handful of copper cash and throws it upon the table; he then with chop-sticks counts the coins by fours, the betting being upon the possible number of the remainder. It takes a long time to count a big handful, and you have only one, two, three, or four to back - no colours or combinations (...).
At Macao the sleep-disturbing watchmen, unlike those of Canton, come round every hour and beat two sharp taps on a drum at intervals of half a minute, compelling you to listen against your will, until the sound dies away in the distance for a brief interval. (...)
- We started soon after ten o'clock on another exploring expedition, going first in chairs through the town, and across the peninsula to where we left the steamer yesterday. Here we embarked - chairs, bearers, and all, in a junk, evidently cleaned up for the occasion, for it was in beautiful order, and mats were spread under an awning upon deck. All along beneath the deck was a cabin, between two and three feet high, which contained the altar, the kitchen, and the sleeping and living apartments of the family. There was also a dear little baby, two months old, which seemed to take life very quietly, while its mother assisted its grandfather to row. We soon reached the island of Chock-Sing-Toon, and disembarked at a small pier near a village, which looked more like sampans pulled up on the shore than huts or cottages. The children and I rode in chairs, while the gentlemen walked, first over a plain covered with scrubby palms, then through miles of well-cultivated plots of vegetable ground, till we reached a temple, built at the entrance to the valley for which we were bound. Thence the path wound beside the stream flowing from the mountains above, and the vegetation became extremely luxuriant and beautiful. Presently we came to a spot where a stone bridge spanned the torrent, with a temple on one side and a joss-house on the other. It was apparently a particularly holy place, for our men had all brought quantities of joss-sticks and sacred paper with them to burn. There was a sort of eating-house close by, where they remained whilst we climbed higher up to get a view. The path was well made, and evidently much used, judging from the large number of natural temples we found adapted and decorated among the rocks. As usual, our descent was a comparatively quick affair, and we soon found ourselves on board the junk on our way back to Macao, beating across the harbour. (...)
We went all round the town, and then to see the ruins of the cathedral, and the traces of the destruction caused by the typhoon in 1874. Next we paid a visit to the garden of Camoens, where he wrote his poems in exile.* The garden now belongs to a most courteous old Portuguese, with whom I managed, by the aid of a mixture of Spanish and French, to hold a conversation. The place where Camoens' monument is erected commands, however, an extensive prospect, but we had already seen it, and as Tom was anxious to get clear of the islands before dark we were obliged to hasten away. On reaching the yacht, after some delay in embarking, we slipped our anchor as quickly as possible, and soon found ourselves in a nasty rolling sea, which sent me to bed at once. Poor Tom, though he felt so ill that he could hardly hold his head up, was, however, obliged to remain on deck watching until nearly daylight; for rocks and islands abound in these seas, and no one on board could undertake the pilotage except himself. 
* Luiz de Camoens, a celebrated Portuguese poet, bom about 1 520; fought against the Moors, and in India; but was often in trouble, and was frequently banished or imprisoned. During his exile in Macao he wrote his great poem 'The Lusiads', in which he celebrates the principal events of Portuguese history. 

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