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An Historical Journal of the Transactions at Port

A very high and uncommon compliment

During our stay here, we were permitted to erect a tent on the island Enchados, (a small island about a mile and a half farther up the harbour than where we lay with the ships,) for the purpose of landing a few of the astronomical instruments which were necessary for ascertaining the rate of the time-keeper; they were put under the charge and management of Lieutenant William Dawes, of the marines, a young gentleman very well qualified for such a business, and who promises fair, if he pursue his studies, to make a respectable figure in the science of astronomy.

The weather was rather unfavourable, during the time the instruments were on shore for ascertaining the rate of the time-keeper, but as constant attention was paid, every opportunity that offered was made use of, and the watch was found to be 2"-27. which is near a second more than was its rate at Portsmouth.

The 21st of August being the anniversary of the Prince of Brazil's birth-day, at sun-rise in the morning we displayed the flag of Portugal at the fore top-mast head, and that of our own nation at the main and mizen: half an hour after ten, the Vice-King received compliments upon that occasion; all the officers of our fleet which could be spared from duty on board, landed, and in a body went to the palace to make their compliments upon this public day; the viceroy upon this, as well as upon every other occasion, showed us particular attention. We were the first company admitted into the levee-room, then the clergy and military, after which, the civilians and some of the military promiscuously.

When we entered the room a signal was made from the palace, and the fort began to fire. Orders had been left with the commanding officer on board the Sirius, to begin to salute after the fort had fired two guns, which was particularly attended to, and a salute of twenty-one guns was given. It is rather uncommon upon such occasions, for an English ship of war to salute at so early an hour, but certainly the greatest compliment which we could at such time pay them, was to observe in this case the custom practised by their own ships.

On Monday the 3d of September, the watering of the convoy, and every other part of their refitting being compleated, the signal was made from the Sirius for every person to repair immediately on board their respective ships, and at the same time the signal for unmooring was shown; and on Tuesday morning, with a light breeze from the land, we weighed with the convoy. When the Sirius had got within about half a mile of Fort Santa Cruz, that castle saluted us with 21 guns, which was answered by us with the same number; a very high and uncommon compliment, and such I believe as is seldom paid to any foreigner; but was no doubt meant as a suitable return to the attention paid by his Majesty's ship to the birth-day of the Prince of Brazil. We carried wind enough out to run us clear without the islands before night.

The harbour of Rio de Janeiro may be known when you are off it, by a remarkable hill at its entrance, called Pao d'Asucar, from its resemblance to a loaf of sugar; but there is a hill to the south-east of the harbour, which is called by some the False Sugar-loaf; but which, as you view it from the eastward, I think has more the appearance of a church, with a short spire steeple; this hill points out the harbour to ships at a distance, much better than Pao d'Asucar. The land to the westward of the harbour is high and broken, and is commonly so covered with clouds, that you cannot discover the true make of it.

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