May 1st. — I have this day seen the Val Longo ; it is the slave market of Rio. Almost every house in this very long street is a depôt for slaves. On passing by the doors this evening, I saw in most of them long benches placed near the walls, on which rows of young creatures were sitting, their heads shaved, their bodies emaciated, and the marks of recent itch upon their skins. In some places the poor creatures were lying on mats, evidently too sick to sit up. At one house the half-doors were shut, and a group of boys and girls, apparently not above fifteen years old, and some much under, were leaning over the hatches, and gazing into the street with wondering faces. They were evidently quite new negroes. As I approached them, it appears that something about me attracted their attention ; they touched one another, to be sure that all saw me, and then chattered in their own African dialect with great eagerness. I went and stood near them, and though certainly more disposed to weep, I forced myself to smile to them, and look cheerfully, and kissed my hand to them, with all which they seemed delighted, and jumped about and danced, as if returning my civilities. Poor things ! I would not, if I could, shorten their moments of glee, by awakening them to a sense of the sad things of slavery ; but, if I could, I would appeal to their masters, to those who buy, and to those who sell, and implore them to think of the evils slavery brings, not only to the negroes but to themselves, not only to themselves but to their families and their posterity.
After all, slaves are the worst and most expensive servants; and one proof of it is this, I think. The small patch that each is allowed to cultivate for his own use on many estates generally yields at least twice as much in proportion as the land of the master, though fewer hours of labour are bestowed upon it. * I have hitherto endeavoured, without success, to procure a correct statement of the number of slaves imported into all Brazil. I fear, indeed, it will be hardly possible for me to do so, on account of the distance of some of the ports ; but I will not rest till I procure at least a statement of the number entered at the custom-house here during the last two years. The number of ships from Africa that I see constantly entering the harbour, and the multitudes that throng the slave-houses in this street, convince me that the importation must be very great. The ordinary proportion of deaths on the passage is, I am told, about one in five.
- Since I returned to England, I have seen the account of the proceedings of Joshua Steele in Barbadoes. I need not add one word on this part of the subject ; but I present the reader with the two following statements of custom-house entries at Rio for the years 1821 and 1822.
Abstract of 1821
Abstract of 1822
- Slave Market at Rio de Janeiro (Valongo) – Longmam & Cia. e J. Murray, 5 de abril de 1824 – Drawing by Augustus Earle, Engraved by Edward Finden.