He stepped into his motor-car, set off for Cintra and Mafra, and is henceforth out of the saga.
Continuing Portugal’s 1910 Revolution,
our selection from Portugal by William Archer. The selection is presented in seven easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Portugal’s 1910 Revolution.
There is no doubt that he committed suicide. The theory of foul play is quite abandoned. As it was he who had vetoed the proposed postponement of the rising, one can understand that the sense of responsibility lay heavy upon him; but that, without inquiry into the alleged disaster, without the smallest attempt to retrieve it, he should have left his comrades in the lurch and taken the easiest way of escape, is surely a proof of almost criminal instability. The Republic lost in him an ardent patriot, but scarcely a great leader.
The dawn of Tuesday, October 4th, showed the fortunes of the revolt at rather a low ebb. The land forces were dismayed by the inaction of the ships; the sailors imagined, from the non-appearance of their leader, that some disaster must have occurred on land. It was in these hours of despondency that the true heroes of the revolution showed their mettle.
In the bivouac at the Rotunda, as the morning wore on, the Republican officers declared that the game was up, and that there was nothing for it but to disperse and await the consequences. They themselves actually made off; and it was then that Machado dos Santos came to the front, taking command of the insurgent force and reviving their drooping spirits. The position was not really a strong one. For one thing, it is commanded by the heights of the Misericordia; and there was, in fact, some long-range firing between the insurgents and the Guardia Municipal stationed on that eminence. Again, the gentle slope of the Avenida, a hundred yards wide, is clothed by no fewer than ten rows of low trees, acacias, and the like, five rows on each side of the comparatively narrow roadway, which is blocked at the lower end by a massive monument to the liberators of 1640. Thus the insurgents could not see their adversaries even when they ventured out of their sheltered position in the Rocio; and the artillery fire from the Rotunda did much more damage to the hotels that flanked the narrow neck of the Avenida than to the Royalist forces. On the other hand, it would have been comparatively easy for the Royalists, with a little resolution, to have crept up the Avenida under cover of the trees, and driven the insurgents from their position. Fortunately for the revolt, there was a total lack of leadership on the Royalist side, excusable only on the ground that the officers could not rely on their men.
While things were at a deadlock on the Avenida, critical events were happening on the Tagus. On all three ships, the officers knew that the men were only awaiting a signal to mutiny; but the signal did not come. At this juncture, and while it seemed that the Republican cause was lost, a piece of heroic bluff on the part of a single officer saved the situation. Lieutenant Tito de Moraes put off in a small boat from the naval barracks at Alcantara, rowed to the San Raphael, boarded it, and calmly took possession of it in the name of the Republic! He gave the officers a written guaranty that they had yielded to superior force, and then sent them off under arrest to the naval barracks. He now asked for orders from the Revolutionary Committee; and early in the afternoon the San Raphael weighed anchor and moved down the river in the direction of the Necessidades Palace. In doing so she had to pass the most powerful ship of the squadron, the Dom Carlos: would she get past in safety? Yes; the Dom Carlos made no sign. The officers were almost all Royalists, but they knew they could do nothing with the crew. As a matter of fact when the crew ultimately mutinied, the captain and a lieutenant were severely wounded; but I can find no evidence for the picturesque legend of a group of officers making a last heroic stand on the quarter-deck, and ruthlessly mowed down by the insurgents’ fire. It is certain, at any rate, that no lives were lost.
In the Palace, on its bluff above the river, King Manuel was practically alone. No minister, no general, was at his side. It is said, on what seems to be good authority, that when he saw the San Raphael moving down-stream under the Republican colors, he telephoned to the Prime Minister, Teixeira de Sousa, to ask whether there was not a British destroyer in the river that could be got to sink the mutinous vessel. Even if this scheme had been otherwise feasible, it would have demanded an effort of which the minister was no longer capable. At about two in the afternoon the San Raphael, cruising slowly up and down, opened fire upon the Palace, and her second shot brought down the royal standard from its roof. What could the poor boy do? To sit still and be blown to pieces would have been heroic, but useless. Had he had the stuff of a soldier in him, he might have made his way to the Rocio and tried to put some energy into the officers, some spirit into the troops. But he had no one to encourage and support him. Such counselors as he had were all for flight. He stepped into his motor-car, set off for Cintra and Mafra, and is henceforth out of the saga.
The flight of Dom Manuel meant the collapse of his cause. It is true that the Royalists were reenforced by certain detachments of troops who came in from the country, and, beaten off by the insurgents at the Rotunda, made their way to the Rocio by a circuitous route. The Guardia Municipal, too, were stanch, and showed fight at several points. It was the total lack of spirited leadership that left the insurgents masters of the field. Having done its work at the Necessidades, the San Raphael moved up stream again, and began dropping shells over the intervening parallelogram of the “Low City” into the crowded Rocio. They caused little loss of life, for they were skilfully timed to explode in air; the object being, not to massacre, but to dismay. There is nothing so trying to soldiers as to remain inactive under fire; and as there had never been much fight in the garrison of the Rocio, the little that was left speedily evaporated. At eleven in the morning of Wednesday, October 5th, the Republic was proclaimed from the balcony of the Town Hall, and before night fell all was once more quiet in Lisbon.
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