Today’s installment concludes Portugal’s 1910 Revolution,
our selection from Portugal by William Archer.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed a selection from the great works of seven thousand words. Congratulations!
Previously in Portugal’s 1910 Revolution.
The first accounts of the fighting which appeared in the European Press were, as was only natural, greatly exaggerated. A careful enumeration places the number of the killed at sixty-one and of the wounded at 417. Some of the latter, indeed, died of their wounds, but the whole death-roll certainly did not exceed a hundred.
The Portuguese Monarchy was dead; and the causes of death, as disclosed by the autopsy, were moral bankruptcy and intellectual inanition. It could not point to a single service that it rendered to the country in return for the burdens it imposed. Some of its defenders professed to see in it a safeguard for the colonies, which would somehow fly off into space in the event of a revolution. As yet there are no signs of this prophecy coming true; but the prophets may cling, if they please, to the hope of its fulfilment. For the rest, it was perfectly clear that the monarchy had done nothing for the material or spiritual advancement of the country, which remained as poverty-stricken and as illiterate as it well could be. Dom Carlos had not even the common prudence to affect, if he did not feel, a sympathy with the nation’s pride in its “heroes.” The Monarchy could boast neither of good deeds nor of good intentions. Its cynicism was not tempered by intelligence. It drifted toward the abyss without making any reasonable effort to save itself; for the dictatorship was scarcely an effort of reason. “The dictatorship,” said Bernardino Machado, the present Foreign Minister, “left us only one liberty — that of hatred.” And again, “The monarchy had not even a party — it had only a clientèle.” That one word explains the disappearance of Royalism.
For it has simply disappeared. Even the Royalist Press is almost extinct. Some papers have ceased to appear, some have become Republican, the few who stick to their colors do so rather from clerical than from specifically Royalist conviction. All the leading papers of the country had long been Republican; and excellent papers they are. Both in appearance and in matter, O Mundo and A Lucta (“The Struggle”) would do credit to the journalism of any country. In size, in excellence of production, and in the well-considered weight of their articles, they contrast strangely with the flimsy, ill-printed sheets that content the Spanish public.
The Provisional Government has been sneered at as a clique of “intellectuals”; but it is scarcely a reproach to the Republic that it should command the adhesion of the whole intelligence of the country. Nor is there any sign of lack of practical sense in the admirable organization which not only insured the success of the revolution (in spite of certain cross accidents) but secured its absolutely peaceful acceptance throughout the country. There are no doubt visionary and fantastic spirits in the Republican ranks, and ridiculous proposals have already been mooted. For instance, it has been gravely suggested that all streets bearing the names of saints — and there are hundreds of them — should be renamed in commemoration of Republican heroes, dates, exploits, etc. But the common sense of the people and Press is already on the alert, and such whimsies are being laughed out of court.
Of the Provisional Government I saw only the President and the Foreign Secretary. The President, an illustrious scholar, historian, and poet, is a delightful old man of the simplest, most unassuming manners, and eagerly communicative on the subjects which have been the study of his life. When I asked him to explain to me the difference of national character which made the Portuguese attitude toward the Church so different from the Spanish, he took me right back to the Ligurians — far out of my ethnological depth — and gave me a most interesting sketch of the development of the two nations. But when we came to topics of more immediate importance, he showed, if I may venture to say so, a clear practical sense, quite remote from visionary idealism. The Foreign Minister, Dr. Machado, is of more immediately impressive personality. Younger than the President by at least ten years, yet little short, I should guess, of sixty, he is extremely neat and dapper in person, while his very handsome face has a birdlike keenness and alertness of expression betokening not only great intelligence but high-strung vitality. He is a copious, eloquent, and witty talker, and his remarkable charm of manner accounts, in part at any rate, for his immense popularity. Assuredly no monarchy could have more distinguished representatives than this Republic.
The desire of the Republic to “play fair” was manifested in another little trait that interested me a good deal. In the window of every book-shop in Spain a translation from the Portuguese, entitled Los Escandalos de la Corte de Portugal, is prominently displayed. It is a ferocious lampoon upon the royal family and upon Franco; but in Lisbon I looked for it in vain. On inquiry I learned that it had been prohibited under the Monarchy, as it could not fail to be; but, had there been any demand for it, no doubt it might have been reprinted since the revolution. There was apparently no demand. The people to whom I spoke of it evidently regarded it as “hitting below the belt.” “We do not fight with such weapons,” said a leading journalist. In no one, in fact, did I discover the slightest desire or willingness to retail personal gossip with respect to the hated Braganzas.
This ends our series of passages on Portugal’s 1910 Revolution by William Archer from his book Portugal published in . This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.
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