As I am mentioning the army, I cannot help observing, that I saw nothing here to confirm the remark of Mr. Cook, that the inhabitants of the place, whenever they meet an officer of the garrison, bow to him with the greatest obsequiousness; and by omitting such a ceremony, would subject themselves to be knocked down, though the other seldom deigns to return the compliment. The interchange of civilities is general between them, and seems by no means extorted. The people who could submit to such insolent superiority, would, indeed, deserve to be treated as slaves.
The police of the city is very good. Soldiers patrole the streets frequently, and riots are seldom heard of. The dreadful custom of stabbing, from motives of private resentment, is nearly at an end, since the church has ceased to afford an asylum to murderers. In other respects, the progress of improvement appears slow, and fettered by obstacles almost insurmountable, whose baneful influence will continue, until a more enlightened system of policy shall be adopted. From morning to night the ears of a stranger are greeted by the tinkling of the convent bells, and his eyes saluted by processions of devotees, whose adoration and levity seem to keep equal pace, and succeed each other in turns. “Do you want to make your son sick of soldiering? Shew him the Trainbands of London on a field-day.” Let him who would wish to give his son a distaste to Popery, point out to him the sloth, the ignorance, and the bigotry of this place.
Being nearly ready to depart by the 1st of September, as many officers as possible went on that day to the palace to take leave of his Excellency, the Viceroy of the Brazils, to whom we had been previously introduced; who on this, and every other occasion, was pleased to honour us with the most distinguished marks of regard and attention. Some part, indeed, of the numerous indulgencies we experienced during our stay here, must doubtless be attributed to the high respect in which the Portuguese held Governor Phillip, who was for many years a captain in their navy, and commanded a ship of war on this station: in consequence of which, many privileges were extended to us, very unusual to be granted to strangers. We were allowed the liberty of making short excursions into the country, and on these occasions, as well as when walking in the city, the mortifying custom of having an officer of the garrison attending us was dispensed with on our leaving our names and ranks, at the time of landing, with the adjutant of orders at the palace. It happened, however, sometimes, that the presence of a military man was necessary to prevent imposition in the shopkeepers, who frequently made a practice of asking more for their goods than the worth of them. In which case an officer, when applied to, always told us the usual price of the commodity with the greatest readiness, and adjusted the terms of the purchase.