Introducing Portugal’s 1910 Revolution,
serialized in seven easy 5 minute installments.
Another revolution where an amiable monarch is overthrown in favor of a democracy. Later came the dictatorship.
This selection is from Portugal by William Archer.
This story is told in the first person by someone who was there.
The wave of democratic revolt which had swept over Europe during the first decade of the twentieth century was continued in 1910 by the revolution in Portugal. This, as the result of long secret planning, burst forth suddenly before dawn on the morning of October 4th. Before nightfall the revolution was accomplished and the young king, Manuel, was a fugitive from his country.
The change had been long foreseen. The selfishness and blindness of the Portuguese monarchs and their supporters had been such as to make rebellion inevitable, and its ultimate success certain. Mr. William Archer, the noted English journalist, who was sent post-haste to watch the progress of the revolution, could not reach the scene before the brief tumult was at an end; but he here gives a picture of the joyous celebration of freedom that followed, and then traces with power and historic accuracy the causes and conduct of the dramatic scene which has added Portugal to the ever-growing list of Republics.
When the poet Wordsworth and his friend Jones landed at Calais in 1790 they found
“France standing on the top of golden years And human nature seeming born again.”
Not once, but fifty times, in Portugal these lines came back to my mind. The parallel, it may be said, is an ominous one, in view of subsequent manifestations of the reborn French human nature. But there is a world of difference between Portugal and France, between the House of Braganza and the House of Bourbon.
It was nearly one in the morning when my train from Badajoz drew into the Rocio station at Lisbon; yet I had no sooner passed the barrier than I heard a band in the great hall of the station strike up an unfamiliar but not unpleasing air, the rhythm of which plainly announced it to be a national anthem — a conjecture confirmed by a wild burst of cheering at the close. The reason of this midnight demonstration I never ascertained; but, indeed, no one in Lisbon asks for a reason for striking up “A Portugueza,” the new patriotic song. Before twenty-four hours had passed I was perfectly familiar with its rather plaintive than martial strains, suited, no doubt, to the sentimental character of the people. An American friend, who arrived a day or two after me, made acquaintance with “A Portugueza” even more immediately than I did. Soon after passing the frontier he fell into conversation with a Portuguese fellow traveler, who, in the course of ten minutes or so, asked him whether he would like to hear the new national anthem, and then and there sang it to him, amid great applause from the other occupants of the compartment. In the cafés and theaters of Lisbon “A Portugueza” may break out at any moment, without any apparent provocation, and you must, of course, stand up and uncover; but there is in some quarters a movement of protest against these observances as savoring of monarchical flunkyism. When I left Lisbon at half-past seven A.M. there was no demonstration such as had greeted my arrival; but at the first halting-place a man stepped out from a little crowd on the platform and shouted “Viva Machado dos Santos! Viva a Republica Portugueza!” — and I found that the compartment adjoining my own was illumined by the presence of the bright particular star of the revolt. At the next station — Torres Vedras of historic fame — the platform was crowded and scores of red and green flags were waving. As the train steamed in, two bands struck up “A Portugueza,” and as one had about two minutes’ start of the other, the effect was more patriotic than harmonious. The hero had no sooner alighted than he was lifted shoulder-high by the crowd, and carried in triumph from the station, amid the blaring of the bands and the crackling of innumerable little detonators, which here enter freely into the ritual of rejoicing. Next morning I read in the papers a full account of the “Apoteose” of Machado dos Santos, which seems to have kept Torres Vedras busy and happy all day long.
One cannot but smile at such simple-minded ebullitions of feeling; yet I would by no means be understood to laugh at them. On the contrary, they are so manifestly spontaneous and sincere as to be really touching. Whatever may be the future of the Portuguese Republic, it has given the nation some weeks of unalloyed happiness. And amid all the shouting and waving of flags, all the manifold “homages” to this hero and to that, there was not the slightest trace of rowdyism or of “mafficking.” I could not think without some humiliation of the contrast between a Lisbon and a London crowd. It really seemed as though happiness had ennobled the man in the street. I am assured that on the day of the public funeral of Dr. Bombarda and Admiral dos Reis, though the crowd was enormous and the police had retired into private life, there was not the smallest approach to disorder. The police — formerly the sworn enemies of the populace — had been reinstated at the time of my visit, without their swords and pistols; but they seemed to have little to do. That Lisbon had become a strictly virtuous city it would be too much to affirm, but I believe that crime actually diminished after the revolution. It seemed as though the nation had awakened from a nightmare to a sunrise of health and hope.
And the nightmare took the form of a poor bewildered boy, guilty only of having been thrust, without a spark of genius, into a situation which only genius could have saved. In that surface aspect of the case there is an almost ludicrous disproportion between cause and effect. But it is not what the young King was that matters — it is what he stood for. Let us look a little below the surface — even, if we can, into the soul of the people.
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