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two years ago. And though the associations connected with a convict establishment are somewhat repugnant, there is in this little-known one so much interest and beauty, that my experience and impressions may not be unworthy of record. The island is said to have been infested once with Dutch pirates, from whom it was captured by the Brazilians, thus meeting with a singular and somewhat appropriate reverse of fortune. Reminiscences of the pirates, however, are still to be found in various local legends of piratical adventure, and in the suggestive names of bays, headlands, etc. The island belongs geographically to the Brazils, inasmuch as it lies in S. lat. 3°50', and W. long. 32°35', i. e., about 194 miles N. E. of Cape San Roque, the most eastern point of the triangular South American continent. Although we speak of it as an island, it is really a group, of which five or six are small islets, chiefly rocky and unused. The main island alone is of importance. This is about four miles long, and, on an average, one broad, and consists chiefly of a somewhat lofty undulating plateau, from 100 to 300
bald, inaccessible elevation, which casts a long shadow over the adjacent slope, so as to form an admirable sun-dial, from which the time can readily be guessed. This peak is visible a long distance at sea, and is a sure landmark for the navigator.
Sighting this at daybreak, we expected to anchor in a few hours; but so deceptive are distances at sea, that we did not arrive till dusk. The anchorage, off the eastern third of the N. E. side of the island, is open and easy of access, and ships of any tonnage may safely ride close to the Fort rock, a bold, inaccessible eminence, on the summit of which are the fort and garrison, commanding the anchorage in front, and behind the convict village, built on a steep slope looking seaward. The only other vessel present was a Government hired steamer. Soon after dropping anchor, we were boarded by a Brazilian military officer, to ascertain our object in visiting the island. As he could speak only a little broken English and no French, he was accompanied by an Englishman and an American half-caste, both convicts, who acted as interpreters.
and Government stores, all stone-built, whitewashed buildings. From this, several streets run up the hill, and others to the right, facing the sea. In one of the latter are a few badly stocked, stone-built general stores. The dwellings of the majority of the convicts are merely fragile, wattle-built huts, thinly and roughly plastered with mud, through which daylight and rain find as ready entrance as by the badly fitting doors and windows. These huts, as a rule, are imperfectly partitioned by the same material, one side being the family dwelling, and the other a store for beans, maize, and other provisions. Behind all is a small, and often neglected, garden. A few better built, white-washed huts, show signs of comfort, and enable us to estimate the taste, habits, occupation, and social standing of the inhabitant. There are not above two hundred huts in all for a population of about one thousand.
The seaward aspect of the village and beach is bounded on the left by the singular peak (to be spoken of presently), and on the right, jutting well into the sea, by the Fort rock, on the summit of which is the Fort, which commands the village behind, and the anchorage in front, a miserable affair, but good enough perhaps for the purpose, and sufficient to awe and keep in subjection a lot of wretched, unarmed convicts. There were once eight forts in different parts of the island, but now there are only four, with thirtytwo guns in all, mostly old, rusty, and useless. The chief fort is held, and the island occupied, by one hundred and fifty soldiers, under six officers and a Governor, who appear to have an easy time of it, their chief duty being to guard the stores and fort, but not specially the convicts, except to prevent escape seaward.
Convicts (including sixty women).
There are one thousand five hundred convicts on the island, chiefly Brazilians, negroes, and half-castes, with a few Italians, etc. Sixty of them are women. The children number about two hundred. The total island population, including convicts, soldiers and their wives and children, is about two thousand, thus:
MAP SHOWING POSITION OF FERNANDO NORONHA.
women, husband - murder or poisoning, another common felony. Of the one thousand five hundred, only one-third, or five hundred, including the women, live and work in the village. The women are mainly employed in sewing, tailoring, etc., and the men at their special trades. Those who have none have different tasks allotted, e. g., fishing, cooking for the Governor, landing cargo, working in the stores, etc. Fishing is carried on single-handed in small rafts, or catamarans, like those used along the coast of Hindostan. With these the convict has little chance of escape to the distant coast. This is seldom attempted, and even if successfully accomplished, the prisoner is almost sure to be recognized and recaptured in Brazil. All the able-bodied artificers work in the general workshops under surveillance, and only the aged, infirm, and crippled are allowed the privilege of working at home. Of the village convicts, four hundred occupy the prison, the remaining one hundred being women and married men, who have huts of their own. The women are seldom compelled to live in the prison so called, which is merely a stone-built structure, consisting of an open yard, and on either side a long, rough, and bare-looking, comfortless stone-floored room,
along each side of which the closely packed | convicts sleep, feed, and keep their scanty and generally worthless stock of clothing, on long wooden tables. At the farther end is a primitive, dirty kitchen, where they grind and cook their principal article of food, maize. The only fettered man on the island was here-a large-boned, flabby, ungainly, scowling individual, evidently despised by his fellow-prisoners for having murdered a man in his sleep, and being thus "good for nothing"-according to my informant, the half caste who first boarded us on arrival, and who, with the Englishman who accompanied him, had murdered eight Brazilians in a drunken brawl on shipboard at Rio. This, however, was a fair stand-up fight, and he evidently considered himself a hero of a very different stamp from the coward he was now pointing out.
As a rule, the convicts spend half of their exile in the prison. If well-behaved, they may afterward live outside, build their own hut and cultivate their own garden, Government giving all, whether in prison or out of it, a certain allowance of food. If specially well-behaved, particularly if married, they may sooner live outside, a boon granted by the Governor on application. A married convict can insist on having his wife and children beside him; and, though free, they often come from the Brazils to share a husband's or father's exile. Marriages occur between convicts' children. As might be expected, the standard of morality is low.
The workshop, which I next visited, is close to the prison, and of like structure. Here the skilled artificers work, sheltered from sun and rain. Coopering, shoemaking, tailoring, were all being busily carried on, the men having an evident pride in their handiwork. Each has an allotted portion of work to perform daily. But as the Brazilian standard is not high, and convicts are not desirous of increasing it, or likely to do more than they are compelled, they are not overworked. If lazy or refractory, various punishments are inflicted, e. g., solitary confinement in the prison "cell." The lash is quite often and freely used in the square, and every convict must be present to see it administered. For laziness they get from fifty to one hundred strokes, but sometimes from one hundred and fifty to three hundred. Very recently one thousand five hundred were administered at one whipping to a Brazilian convict for stabbing his wife. The man was in hospital recovering from this at the time of our visit. There are no
capital punishments in the Brazils. What is most dreaded is banishment for six months or a year to Rats Island, where they live a Robinson Crusoe life, and may starve unless they fish and cultivate the soil, no provisions being sent from head-quarters.
The convicts generally are not fed by Government, but are allowed about $5 per month to purchase food, and, when they can, tobacco and other luxuries. The entire farm produce and manufactures are claimed by Government, the farm laborer getting nothing beyond a few heads of maize after a day's work. Their clothing is coarse but strong, and they appeared to have no distinctive dress. Their usual food, purchased either at the Government or private stores, consists of maize, manioc, white and black beans, all island produce, and jerked beef from the Brazils. Food and other necessaries are, on the whole, dear; and the scanty pay makes luxuries like tea, coffee, etc., for which they are charged enormously, for the most part beyond their reach.
The private stores are small dirty dens, the stock of which might be purchased in any American city for $25 or $50. They usually belong to privileged convicts, some of whom are wealthy, and do not scruple to enrich themselves by preying on their poorer fellow-prisoners. One said to be worth $300,000 was formerly a bank cashier and had been sentenced to twenty years' banishment for embezzlement. Some of the women, transported for husband-poisoning, are also well to do. Neither wealth nor possessions are forfeited to the Crown, nor is Brazilian society less lenient, inasmuch as, his time having expired, the convict may soon, especially if rich, regain his old social position.
Here, as elsewhere, however, banishment does not always prove an effectual cure for crime. A detective was then on the island to ascertain whence certain counterfeit coins occasionally circulated were emanating. He must be an adept who contrives to carry on secret coining under such adverse circumstances, and to pass base money in a community of this kind.
Some of the life prisoners who have been long on the island, and have grown old in the place, like it, and are contented, if not happy. On the whole, there does not appear to be much discontent. Many of the prisoners would not be taken for other than well-conducted laborers, farm-servants, or artisans. But the majority have a demoralized, self-conscious, hang-dog look, an
unprepossessing countenance, a low-typed | cranial development, and the lazy, dirty, slovenly habits usually begotten by long familiarity with crime. I conversed with some and looked into their huts. It was curious to observe the different effects which exile had produced in individuals. While all were poorly clad, some had enough selfrespect and pride left to keep themselves, children and house, clean and tidy,-parading every bit of clothing, finery, or ornament; while others were in every case careless of appearances, mentally, morally, and socially degraded. One busy shoemaker, an admirable workman, would not look up; the iron had evidently entered his soul; he felt he was a branded, ruined man for life, with little interest in its concerns, and had now no object save to drown thought and care by keeping his hands and brain busy. Few of the houses had books. Education is not regarded in Brazil as in America, an object of primary importance, and still less in this establishment for the outcasts of society. But the Government is not wholly inattentive to the rising convict progeny. With praiseworthy forethought, they are carefully looked after, and efforts made to keep them from following the old paths of their parents, and lead them to choose a more honest, less dangerous, and happier career. There are two schools, one for the children of officers and soldiers, the other for those of convicts, the teachers being male prisoners. The offspring must remain on the island with their parents till twelve years old; after which, girls may either leave or remain. If they prefer to go, they are sent at Government expense to a sewing society or hospital at Pernambuco. Boys must go at twelve, and are sent to the high school there, to train for soldiers. As the impressions of infancy and childhood are strongest and most ineradicable, it would seem wiser to remove them from the pernicious influences and surroundings of a penal settlement.
convicts, who have no special object in working hard, particularly in that warm, enervating atmosphere. Both soldiers and convicts study only how to pass their captivity most quietly, and with the greatest amount of ease and comfort.
The village amusements are few. A theater, in which prisoners perform, was lately burned down. They have an instrumental band, which also forms the church choir. Except in the evenings, when they assemble for gossip in the public square, the village has a dull, deserted appearance. The Brazilians, like the Portuguese, from whom they sprang, are an apathetic race; and the few soldiers occasionally met with, walk or loll about in a listless way, little likely to stir into anything like activity the still lazier
But we have only accounted for one-third of the prisoners. The remaining one thousand are divided into ten companies of one hundred each, who cultivate the ten different plantations into which the island is purposely divided. Over the whole, village and plantation included, there are sixteen sergeants, of whom the sergeant-major alone is a free man, the rest being "specials," i. e., well-behaved men, or those whose time is nearly expired. One superintends the women, four the village men, and ten the plantation companies, the sergeant-major being a general overseer.
Leaving the village on the left, to have a look over the island, my path led along the ridge overlooking the landing and past the base of the peak towering high above me, like a huge finger pointing skyward. This and the other high points of the group consist of light gray granite, overlaid by basalt, occasionally columnar, and that again, by a coarse conglomerate of basaltic bowlders, inclosed in a dark-red clayey matrix, which, disintegrated, forms the abundant and highly fertile soil, dry and fissured during the sultry season, but soft, tenacious and muddy during the heavy rains of the rest of the year. The geology of this group is evidently correlated to that of the Brazils. And here, as there (according to Darwin), there are evidences of gradual elevation. Geologically, as geographically, it belongs to South America, and a glance at a physical atlas will show that it lies just where the Brazilian diverges southward from the main equatorial ocean current, which here begins to take a north-west course along the shores of Maranham; and at the apex of the pointed bank (which it has doubtless contributed to form), jutting out from Cape San Roque and the adjacent coasts to the northwest and southward, by which the great equatorial current is split.
Leaving the peak on the right the road led me toward the north-east end of the island, over a plateau about two hundred feet above the sea. Here I met several convicts, with one of whom, an overseer, who could speak a little English, I entered into conversation, accompanying him in his walk. The road was merely a broad pathway through cultivated fields on either side, both