Imatges de pàgina

days when our political pedants prescribed representative institutions as heal-alls to the nations of the world, we have lived and learned. The Portuguese, a wise, long-suffering people, have lived, have suffered, and have learned too. Taking them as a whole, the Portuguese are perhaps the most unanimously patriotic people in the world. This great quality in them, existent from the remote past, is still strong, and will be sure to guide them to high issues in the future, as it has in the past. The welfare, the greatness, and the independence of their country is the end set vaguely in the mind of every selfrespecting inhabitant of the country. The present form of parliamentary government, administered by party methods, finds little favour in such men's eyes. The Portuguese is a law-abiding citizen, abhorring tyranny, but he has come at last, by bitter experience, to lose all faith in law and legislation as administered by Cabinets and Parliaments. He has been deceived too often. Three hundred years ago a great national poet, almost a prophet, coined a phrase which hit then, and in my opinion still hits the aspirations of the Portuguese people : Polla lei e polla grei (By law and by the people's will). It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that when the present Prime Minister, Senhor Franco, with the King's consent, elected to abate the evils of parliamentary government by allowing representative institutions a time of rest and abeyance, and by proposing to rule during that interregnum of repose from intrigue by royal decree alone, though the self-seeking politicians of all parties raged, the people in every class of the community seemed to approve and were content.

As to whether the present calm acceptance of the situation will continue it would be rash to prophesy. It is hardly for us of the compromise-loving north to guess by analogy of our way of thought what will happen among a Latin race which is anything but compromise-loving. Since representative government was established in Portugal, the country has been ruled by two parties, both of whom call themselves by very liberal titles. One party calls itself the Progressives (Progressistas), the other the Regenerators (Regeneradores). Both are liberal in opposition, and both the reverse of liberal, not to say reactionary, in office. The two parties are, perhaps libellously, but certainly popularly, accused of caring more for the sweets of office and of power than for the opportunity of carrying out reforms useful for the country. They are also accused, rightly or wrongly, of leaving office and politely making way for the opposition as soon as ever the orange is sucked dry. This regular ministerial rotation has led to the popular nickname of Rotativos, as applied to both parties. There are indeed other parties or sections of parties in the State, but the Rotativos take very good care that others than themselves never get a hold of office.

Party government is not, perhaps, an ideal form of government, but, as it works out in Portugal, it is bereft of most of the advantages of party government. What makes the present crisis in Portugal so interesting to foreign observers, and so fraught with anxiety to all lovers of the country, is that it is a break in the long-established order of ministerial rotation and that it may turn out to be a break in the long-continued political tranquillity of the country. We, on the outside, can hardly guess on which side victory will finally declare itself, for we cannot be sure that the two great political parties, in conjunction, may not be able to stir the masses to move with them. On the other hand, we do not know whether the country is reconciled, or only apparently reconciled to the temporary abrogation of representative institutions, as a charter of their liberties, which same institutions they have certainly long held very cheap. All we do know is that in Portugal, as in other Latin countries, there is an explosive force that may change the whole situation in a week, in a day, or in an hour.

I have always considered that what Portugal has best to show in the way of a political object-lesson is the existence of the great body of thriving yeoman farmers, already spoken of, in the well-watered but not particularly fertile provinces of northern Portugal. How did this body of sturdy tillers of the soil come to be on the land ? To what cause do they owe their present independence and prosperity ? Does Protection help or hinder them ? Does a heavy duty on corn help them towards holding their own ? Does an equally heavy duty on every article the yeoman wears and uses not more than cortespondingly hinder them? These are, surely, points to inquire into, to weigh and to consider at a moment when the re-establishment of the yeoman farmer in our own country seems to many of us to hold out the best hopes of the nation's well-doing.

There are other matters, besides politics, to interest the visitor to Portugal. The modern Portuguese has somehow lost his former eminence in the line of decorative art, and that he should have done 80 is one of the puzzles that modern Portugal presents. I will not attempt to solve it ; I will only note that evidence of high artistic traditions meet the traveller everywhere. It is to be found abundantly in articles of domestic use made in Portugal two or three hundred years ago, in the fine repoussé silver plate, in the faience from Portuguese kilns that have not been lighted for three hundred years, in the inlaid cabinets known as Goa work, but mostly made in Portugal, and in the still more artistic cabinets, chests, tables, chairs, bedsteads, and domestic shrines of carved wood in good rococo style, worked in native chestnut, or in rosewood imported from Brazil.

The now disestablished monasteries must have been rich in such work, for it is still to be found scattered in many a farmhouse. There is a still more persistent tradition of good art work in the peasant gold jewelry to be seen on the necks and in the ears of every peasant woman on market and fair days, and on the counters of whole streets of jewellers’ shops in Lisbon and Oporto. These fine-art forms derive from farther back than the plate, pottery, and cabinet work before mentioned. They are unchanged traditions from the days of the Moorish occupancy. There are, however, extant art traditions that go further back than to Moorish times. In northern Portugal every ox-yoke is carved with a quaint and elaborate design, the home-work of the peasants themselves on long winter nights. The designs belong to a very early period, and are distinctly Gothic in character.

In Portugal we are in a country where three distinct races have, in turn, taken the place of the autochthonous inhabitants, perhaps mingling their blood with, perhaps after extermination or expulsion of, the race on the soil. Three separate civilisations have, in historic times, lived, prospered, and left their abiding marks in the habits and customs of the people; probably also in the blood of the actual dwellers on the land, and very patently in the Portuguese language and its literature. The Portuguese themselves like to boast that their language is nearer to Latin than any other derived from the mother tongue of the Romans. In proof of this they have composed poems and prose passages which are fair Portuguese and fair dogLatin. That, however, goes for little. Every foreign student of Portuguese knows that if it is easy to read, it is harder to learn, harder to pronounce, and harder to understand when spoken than any other of the Latin languages. The reason is that Portuguese has borrowed very much from the Arabic in word, phrase, and idiom. It has perhaps also got from the Moors some sort of Oriental uncouthness, and certainly some use of strange diphthongs which the unpractised tongue finds it hard to pronounce. Yet it is a rich and flexible language standing by itself, as a literary vehicle, just as French and German stand by themselves.

The Portuguese language has unfortunately been very hardly treated by its own writers. It was sought by certain purist-pedants in the seventeenth century to omit all words that were not of Latin origin, just as it was once a fashion, equally vain and stupid, among ourselves, to make our English speech purely Teutonic. A century or more before that, when their mother tongue was already rich and strong, the learned in Portugal set a fashion of abandoning their native tongue and writing in Spanish. This was in the sixteenth century, when two great Portuguese writers, Sá da Miranda and Montemayor, wrote their best poems in Spanish. Sá da Miranda, the Chaucer of Portugal, made amends by also writing great poems in his native tongue ; but Montemayor, the father and head of bucolic poetry in the Peninsula, composed nothing of value in Portuguese. It was not till fifteen or twenty years later that the poet and playwright Ferreira accomplished for Portuguese literature what Dryden and Pope did for ours. Never since have the Portuguese writers committed the crime of undervaluing their fine language. And soon after Ferreira came the Lusiads of Camoens, that great epic of the ocean, of the unknown tropic lands, and of the deeds of Portuguese explorers, to demonstrate to foreign nations the power, the sonorous fulness, and the beauty of the Portuguese language.

A language, however, is not made great only by great writers, as some critics would have us believe. The daily users of it are they who are its real makers. The great writers only make it enduring. The peasant on his farm, the sailor on his ship, the merchant on 'change, the trafficker in the marketplace, the scholar in his study, had made Portuguese a fine and full language long before Sí da Miranda wrote his wise and witty quatrains, or Camoens his stately stanzas. In the same way Englishmen of previous ages had given to Shakespeare the language of his plays and sonnets. There is curious evidence of this fact in Portugal, apart from the splendid ballad literature of the Portuguese people. The Portuguese peasant has always been an improvisatore. The shepherd on the hillside chants extempore songs to his companion, or his mistress across the narrow valley. When extempore versifiers meet, at fair or feast, they challenge rival singers-a desafioto impromptu song. The verse is mostly poor stuff made up of old song-tags and used clichés, but it runs on smoothly, and now and again the thought is ingenious, even witty, and the verse happy. Some such verse has come down traditionally among the people in rural parts.

The lyric song mostly takes the shape of a perfect quatrain, and I could quote dozens. I will give but two.

Here is the epigrammatic complaint of a peasant lover. For wit and ingenuity it might figure among a collection of Greek epigrams. As with most epigrams, to translate it would be to blunt its point.

Os teus olhos, O menina,
Sao gentios da Guiné,
Da Guiné por serem pretos

Gentios por não terem fé ! Another deserted lover has a more bitter complaint still to make of his mistress. For love of thee, he says, I have lost Heaven, for love of thee I have lost myself. Now I find myself alone, without God, without love, without thee.

Por teu amor perdi à Deus,
Por teu amor me perdi ;
Agora vejo me só
Sem Deus, sem amor, sem tí!

There is one subject in Portugal that has been too much neglected : its architecture-domestic, ecclesiastic, semi-ecclesiastic, and military. The triple origin of the people is reflected in the vestiges of its architecture as clearly as it is in its languages and in the customs and folklore of its peasantry. There is a district in southern Portugal, surround ing the town of Evora, where Roman remains are found more abundantly than they are to be met with anywhere, perhaps, but in Italy itself. Here is a temple believed to have been sacred to Diana. It is as perfect as the famous Maison carrée of Nîmes, and quite as beautiful. Moorish remains are not so common in Portugal as one might expect; but the traces of Moorish architectural ideas and motives are seen everywhere in the beautiful azimel windows of ancient houses, and markedly in those buildings where the Gothic and Moorish ideals meet. It is notably conspicuous in that wonderful dream structure, the church of St. Jeronymo at Belem, near Lisbon, and the still more surprising and more beautiful abbey church of Batalha, where architecture runs riot, is lawless, bound by no convention of the builder, borrowing of all sister arts, and where the architect has achieved, not a church, but a grand romantic poem in marble stone.

There was great ecclesiastic wealth and architectural activity in Portugal in the best periods of Gothic architecture, and relics of this wealth and activity are to be found all over the kingdom.

I remember that in the course of a single winter's day ride across the mountains of Beira, from Lamego to Viseu, I passed the ruins of no fewer than three cathedral churches.

In a country so torn by racial struggles for independence the Gothic castles of Portugal are naturally important and frequent. They are as thick on the land as they are with us on the Marches of Wales and the Border of Scotland. There was a period, later on, when colonial wealth, from East and West, poured into Portugal. It was during the seventeenth century, and there is abundant evidence of the fact in the fine houses still standing in the country towns of Portugal. These houses are often dismantled now, turned to base uses, or even falling into ruin. They were built by returning colonists and adventurers, enriched from India, Africa, and Brazil.

It is to this period of prosperity that much of the fine Portuguese silver repoussé work, the cabinets, and the characteristic faience belong. The Portuguese colonist to this day differs from all other colonists in this, that, for all his adventure and enterprise, he never ceases to cast longing glances at the country of his birth. No other great colonising nation, either Greek, Roman, or British, have possessed this home-seeking desire to the same extent as the Portuguese. It is due, in the case of the Portuguese emigrant, partly to the fact that he has gone forth mainly to the more unhealthy tropical regions of the earth, to countries of burning suns, drenching rains, and fever-haunted jungle, and that he has had to live among tribes of uncongenial savages, but it is due also to this, that, go where he will, he can hope to find no pleasanter climate, no sweeter air, no country more kindly to man, than the land of his birth.

In the jungles of Brazil, or in the marshes of Africa, he longs for the hamlet where he was born, for the tinkling of the mandolin in the cool evening air, for the songs and dances of the village lads and lasses on the threshing-floor.

Dulces reminiscitur Argos.

There is always one point of view from which Portugal is sure to charm the casual tourist and the slower-moving and deeper-thinking traveller alike, and that is its scenery. I mean not alone the wild

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