Letters of Álvares de Azevedo: Part Three (1845) | Stephen Basdeo (Trans.)

The following letters were translated by Stephen Basdeo using the following critical edition of Álvares de Azevedo’s works:

Homero Pires, ed. Obras Completas de Álvares de Azevedo, 2 vols (São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro: Companhia Editora Nacional, 1942), II, pp. 435–32

Álvares de Azevedo (Public Domain)

Letter XVI

S. Paulo, 3 January 1845

My dear mother,

I send to you much joy and wish you a very good new year. On the good day of the year I made a health to my aunt Marianna.[1] D. Maria Antonia Bulhões baptized a son and sent me an invite to have tea; I was there until half eleven at night. After the morning I shall commence studying with all strength to see if I can do the Latin exam. I only have one month!… I sent to you to ask for ‘one or two buckle clasps’ and you did not send me a response.

Give my many regards to Nhanhã and all brothers and sisters. How are Maria Francisco and little Ignacio?[2] Bestow a blessing over your heart’s son,

Manuel Antonio.

More for Nhanhã: I hope that you have been well, I wish you much good cheer. Here I received the 2$000 reis that you sent to me and that I am much thankful to you for, for it is a token of your friendship. I heard it said that there were some braces coming for my birthday: are they for this year?

Goodbye, my heart’s sister. Accept the regards of all here. I am your most comradely brother,


Letter XVII

S. Paulo, 5 February 1845

My heart’s dear mother,

I hope that you have been well, just like all at home, to whom you will convey my regards. Yesterday I saw a procession of ashes that left the church with eleven walkers, among which there were four or five statues showing S. Francis teaching, S. Francis receiving the wounds from Our Lord, Our Lord receiving the rays of Our Lady with friars kneeling underneath, etc. etc. I was amazed to see only one or two families in the Cathedral on Ash Wednesday.

Ô temps, ô mœurs![3] If it was for a bonfire or illumination display, these so-called faithful ones would go![4]

My regards to all who ask after me. Bestow your blessing on your heart’s son,

Manuel Antonio.


[1] The paternal aunt Marianna Jacinta de Azevedo.

[2] It is the brother Ignacio Manuel, born in 1844, and died in his fourth year of law school, in 1863.

[3] ‘The Times! The Manners!’—SB.

[4] About the processions in S. Paulo of another time, Dr. Francisco de Assis Vieira Bueno testifies, according to what Alvares de Azevedo tells us: “In the absence of other entertainment, the religious festivities were the ‘great attraction’, and most of the participants did not attend them for worship, but for entertainment, even because in them there were often improper scenes of the gravity that should cover them” (A cidade de S. Paulo, recordações. Revisto de Sciencias, Letras e Artes de Campinas, n. 31, de 30 Abril de 1903, p. 83). Next, the author describes the Corpus Christi and the Stations of the Cross processions. Regarding the licentious customs of old S. Paulo in religious matters, the information from the same Dr. Vieira Bueno is noteworthy (Revista citada, n. 4 de 31 Julho de 1903, ps. 154–56).