Letters of Álvares de Azevedo: Part Two (1843-1844) | 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 XII.

Rio, 29 February 1843


I trust that you have been well, as well as Papa, Nhanhã,[1] Sinhá,[2] and Quinquim;[3] today I did not go to D. Maria Amalia’s house because D. Maria Goulart and Rosinha are poorly, however I believe that it is nothing more than a simple headache. For this reason neither I nor João Vianna, D. Maria do Lucio’s Juca, nor the Caldas’s son, went to D. Maria’s house.

Here in Botafogo I always saw the firecrackers that attacked each other on Thursday in Jurujuba. All these days we have been passing under the moonlight and on Thursday I saw a fire there and afterwards I realised that they must have been spinning tops, and I was remembering that Papa had left the party and said that he would go to Jurujuba that week.

Goodbye, my dear Mother.

I am with much respect your son,

M.A.A. Azevedo.

n.b.—my regards to all those who remember me.

Letter XIII.

Botafogo, 10 December 1843

My dear Mother,

I am now at Sr. Japiassú’s house; here I met Sra. Marquesa de Palma who tells me to tell you that I was going to spend the day today at the Praia Grande but did not go because of Sr. João Caldas, because this gentleman had promised to take her there, but she did not go, because the gentleman had to go and wait for a steam boat to go into the sea.

Sra. D. Maria Goulart tells me to tell you she has been bothered by bedsores and sends you her regards. The illustrious Sra. D. Maria says to tell you that there is nothing but sadness at her home.

Accept regards from everyone at Sra. Japiassú’s house and from your most obedient son,


Letter XIV

São Paulo, 30 August 1844

My dear Mother,

Friday I went to a ball given by Sr Sousa Queirós.[4] All the rooms were lit, the air embalmed with a thousand scents, both flowers and essences, but however São Paulo never will be like Rio. There were what they call here ‘moças bonitas’. The Presidenta[5] was there in a velvet dress and the Viscondessa de Monte-Alegre.[6] In addition to these dresses made of satin without a starch on top, there were dresses of chintz and cassa with silk stripes, of chalin, etc.

I have already arranged for a Latin, English, and French master.

Yesterday, being with a bit of a headache, I sent to come a water glass from Colonia, which increased my pain, for being a water that stank. It seemed [at first] like the spirit of lavender.

Many regards to D. Maria de Conçeição, to Oliveira and Sr. Fialho, Sousa Martins. Among other things, towards the end of the year, aunt Maria Francesca will be in Rio de Janeiro. I have been receiving visits from the great Ladies here[7] who would like to meet you when you are here.

Your dear son,


p.s. D. Maria Antonia Bulhões sends you many regards. I received from her the other day a tray of very good Persian limes. In that instant I received your letter. Her son was baptised by Arthur[8] on the 22nd. He cried a lot. Now the boys are only wearing their hats, Alfredo grabbed mine and won’t give it back. José in his uncle João’s. As for their toys, they’re broken.

Letter XV

S. Paulo, 5 September 1844.

Mother of my heart,

I take advantage of the favour that Snr. Domingos Paiva does me by the intermediary of Canon Joaquim Anselmo de Oliveira, my Latin master.[9] Yesterday the Marquesa de Santos[10] sent me an invite to dine at [her] home because it was Tobias’s birthday[11] and for marrying a goddaughter (who everyone says is a daughter) of hers with great luxury… Tobias raised a toast to her and the Marquesa joined too.

Send what I sent to ask you, is this: scented water and fur gloves.

The older girl is getting married in great luxury…

Now all the world is getting married. All are marrying.

I am your son of the heart,

Mel. Alvares Azevedo.

p.s.— the Marquesa[12] the day I went to take her letter, and yesterday she asked me to go and spend some Sunday there, and since Uncle José[13] had a problem yesterday in giving me permission to go, and said he left yesterday without an excuse, because he says you don’t want me to dine out.


[1] His little sister Maria Francisca, only 2 years and 19 days old at the time of writing.

[2] Maybe a nickname for his sister Marianna.

[3] The brother Joaquim Ignácio.

[4] Francisco Antonio de Sousa Queirós (Barão de Sousa Queirós) who was deputy and senator for S. Paulo. A great and wealthy farmer in his province.

[5] Sra Lima e Silva, wife of Manuel da Fonesca Lima e Silva, afterwards Barão de Suruhy.

[6] D. Maria Isabel de Sousa Alvim, second wife of José da Costa Carvalho (Viscount (1843) and afterwards Marquis (1854) of Monte Alegre), one of three members of the Regency, elected on 17 July 1831. Costa Carvalho was also one of the members of the Constituent Assembly of 1823, representing Bahia, his native country. After he was returned to Parliament, as deputy and senator for S. Paulo.

[7] “…que a conheceram”,—with the oblique pronoun a serving as the direct object and not as in this text. It’s useless to record examples in which “encontra a syntax lhe = reprehendeu-lhe” (João Ribeiro, Gram. Portug. 21. ed. Rio, 1930, p. 261).

[8] Arthur Silveira da Motta, cousin of Alvares de Azevedo. He was the son of the Senator José Ignacio Silveira da Motta. Naval officer, distinguished combatant in Paraguay. He was afterwards Barão de Jaceguay and member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.

[9] Secular priest and Archpriest of the See of S. Paulo, used to lecture freely in Latin and moral theology. Distinguished sacred orator who published some sermons. He once wounded Ildefonso Xavier Ferreira with a knife, in the Sacrista da Sé, at his feet. He was prosecuted, but acquitted. (Spencer Vampré, Memorias para a história da Academia de S. Paulo, I, S. Paulo, 1924, p. 183.)

[10] D. Dometilla de Castro Canto e Mello, one of Dom Pedro I’s famous lovers by whom he had several children.

[11] The Brigadier Raphael Tobias de Aguiar who, in his second marriage, married the Marquesa de Santos.

[12] The Marquesa de Santos.

[13] Dr José Ignacio Silveira da Motta, maternal uncle. Professor of the Faculty of Law in S. Paulo, a position for which he was nominated in 1834, Cathedral Professor in 1842, and retired in 1855. He first taught criminal law and afterwards administrative. He was provincial deputy in S. Paulo, general [deputy] in the same province, and senator for Goyaz in 1855. Lawyer and notable parliamentarian, with 46 years of service in the legislature. He was a political radical.