Page images

visit of a great personage.

Extravagance under such a monarch and such tutelage became a fashionable virtue. Portuguese authors declare that many families of grandees were ruined by the spendthrift extravagance of the times. Cooks, coiffeurs, and modistes came in crowds from Paris to pick up their share of the good things that were going in Portugal. It is related that a shipload of Italian singers came to Lisbon to exchange their talents for Brazilian gold. The nobles vied with each other in rearing stately palaces :

'Jam pauca aratro jugera regiæ

Moles relinquent.' Agriculture became altogether neglected. The quality of the wines, the true wealth of Portugal, declined. The King, his ministers, and the nobility had no time to think of the condition of the country or of the people. Pleasure and devotion divided the moments of the day. The Government, which during the progress of the last reign had become an absolutism, John V. soon converted into a kind of monkish • theocracy, stained with all the vices and evils of fanaticism, • hidden under the cloak of religion and sanctity.'* The King's first appointment to the ministry was that of the Grand Chaplain, the Bishop Nuno da Cunha Athayde, who was also Grand Inquisitor. Cardinal da Motta long ruled the Cabinet. At his death the Friar Gaspar da Encarnaçao became minister, and soon real governor of the kingdom. Though a man of considerable talent, he was totally ignorant of politics, and considered it wicked to have his mind enlightened on such earthly matters. His appointments to embassies, vice-royalties, and other high charges of the State, were of persons who were, or who professed to be, of the same type as himself. Every form of civil authority was set at nought. The streets of the capital were the scenes of nightly brawls and assassinations. The feuds of the Montagues and Capulets were realised in Lisbon by hostile noble families. The deeds of our London Mohocks were outdone by those of bands of dissipated youths of illustrious birth. Organised detachments of these disturbers of the peace roamed about the city under the guidance of Dom Francisco, the King's brother, of the Duke of Cadaval, a connexion of the Royal Family, of the Marquises of Marialva and Cascaes, and of the Counts of Aveiras and Obidos. · A prominent member of the band was a young man of great daring, lofty stature, and handsome

* Soriano, tom. i. p. 120.


features, destined to become celebrated as the Marquis of Pombal.

Sebastian Joseph de Carvalho e Mello, afterwards Count of Oeyras and Marquis of Pombal, was born at Lisbon on the 13th of May 1699. His father belonged to the class of small landowners, or untitled noblesse, called in Portugal fidalgos de provincia. An uncle of the future Minister was in holy orders and became arch-priest of the Patriarchal Church. Under John V.'s government, the fortunes of a family which possessed a member so placed might be considered as made; and it was probably owing to this uncle's influence that Carvalho, about whose earlier years there is much obscurity, was brought to the notice of the Cardinal de Motta, and through him of the King. His endeavours to obtain public employment were unsuccessful, and having married a widow lady of good family, Dona Theresa de Noronha, he withdrew to his country residence at Soure, near the town of Pombal. He soon grew tired of the dulness of a country life and became again a candidate for office. This time he was more successful. He is supposed to have caught the eye of the Queen and to have pleased her by his appearance. Her influence and that of the Cardinal de Motta soon obtained for him an important appointment. The commerce of Portugal had so manifestly declined that the priests and favourites of the court at length became frightened. The whole trade of Lisbon seemed to have fallen into the hands of the English, who enjoyed what in those days were considered great commereial advantages. The few Portuguese who were engaged in trade in England were, on the other hand, held by their countrymen to be treated with undue rigour and want of consideration. This and the lawless behaviour of some English naval officers in Portuguese ports induced John V. to send a special envoy to London. The court and capital were astonished by the announcement that Carvalho was to be the new envoy. The keen tongues of disappointed applicants soon took their revenge. Every story that could be told to his discredit was sedulously circulated in society in Lisbon. Carvalho was not the only person whose character was aspersed. The name of the Queen was mentioned in connexion with his own in a manner which there is every reason to believe was altogether unjust. Having proceeded to London, he remained there in his capacity of envoy six years. Having in 1745 accompanied George II. on his visit to Hanover, he was whilst there directed to proceed to Vienna to represent his Sovereign as arbitrator in a question that had arisen betwen the Imperial and the Papal Governments. The extinction of the patriarchate of Aquileia, and some disputes as to the right of nomination to vacant bishoprics, had caused between the courts of Rome and Vienna one of those long series of negotiations in which the diplomatists of a bygone age loved to engage. The affair had gone on so long that it promised to degenerate into a quarrel. John Vi's Queen was an Austrian archduchess, a sister of that Arehduke Charles on whose account the Spanish war of succession had been undertaken. The King of Portugal's marriage and his well-known sympathies with the cause of the Church seemed to doubly fit him for the part of peace-maker. The Pope, who had so often applied to him with success upon other occasions, requested his cooperation in smoothing over the difficulties of the case. The Queen added her influence. Carvalho, whose mission to London had been regarded as successful, befriended both by the Austrian Queen and the clerical party, headed by the Cardinal de Motta, was pitched upon as the right person to be sent to offer the good offices of his Sovereign. He acordingly proceeded to Vienna, and whilst there conducted the affair, which certainly was a somewhat delicate one, with such dexterity as apparently to satisfy both parties. Whilst in London he had lost his wife, the Dona Theresa before mentioned, and at Vienna he was married a second time to a niece of the celebrated Field Marshal Daun. In spite of his long residence in England it is certain that Carvalho never acquired our language, and if he did study our institutions he seems to have found in them little worthy of copying in his own country. It was to France that he chiefly looked for authorities on government and economics. In after years he frequently compared himself, with decent self-depreciation, to Sully. That Minister in finance and Colbert in commercial affairs were the guides which he determined to follow. Indeed, he even outdid the latter Minister in his unfortunate violations of the simplest laws of political economy. The Empress Queen retained a lively recollection of, and gratitude for, Carvalho's services in the Aquileia matter, and afterwards when he had long returned to Portugal she addressed frequent letters couched in the most affectionate terms to his Austrian wife.

In the following year he returned to Portugal. The health of the King had, owing to his luxurious mode of life, gradually become so bad, that he had almost ceased to exercise the functions of royalty. The priestly clique by which he was surrounded was headed by the Friar Gaspar da Encarnaçao.

This ecclesiastic was then at the summit of his power; the only sharer in it was the Queen, who exercised a kind of regency. The course of Carvalho's studies in French philosophical literature had probably reached the friar's ears.

The influence of the Queen, quickened as it was by her friendship for her country woman his wife, was not sufficient to obtain for Carvalho any post in the Government; he therefore continued unemployed during the remainder of the king's reign, and it is a remarkable circumstance that a minister who fills so great a place in the annals of his country, and who held office for nearly thirty years, was more than fifty years old before he attained to it, at least in the domestic administration of the kingdom.

His eventual accession to office was due to an odd series of circumstances. The Government being virtually in the hands

. of ecclesiastics, it seems not to have been thought necessary to appoint the usual Secretaries of State. A single one of those great officers, Pedro de Motta, a brother of the cardinal, now sometime deceased, was in office. The great burden of the routine work of the Government fell upon him, and seriously affected his health. At last at the King's death in 1750 there actually was not a single Secretary of State in a condition to attest the burial of the Sovereign as the laws of Portugal required. Carvalho lost no time in seizing so favourable an opportunity of obtaining place. He sent his wife to beg the good offices of the Queen. The latter so effectually solicited her

son, the new King, Dom Joseph, on his behalf, that he was immediately made Secretary of State for War and Foreign Affairs.* The Abbé Diogo de Mendonça was at the same time nominated to the vacant portfolio of Marine and the Colonies. Once having entered the Government, Carvalho continued to hold office uninterruptedly throughout the reign of Dom Joseph, which lasted nearly twenty-seven years. No one was better aware than he of the extreme difficulties of his position. Knowing well that his comparatively sudden rise had created for him a host of enemies, he began his ministerial career in a modest and unassuming manner. Though entering the Cabinet simultaneously and on equal terms with one Minister, and finding the chief of it oppressed with age and infirmities, he was too adroit to aim at supreme power at once.

He quickly discerned the character of the new monarch. Dom Joseph was one of those irresolute vacillating men who find it impossible to stand alone. Of an amiable disposition

* Soriano, tom. i. p.


A more

and agreeable manners, he seems to have been impressed with a sincere desire to promote the good of his subjects. His education, as might have been expected from what has been said above concerning the late reign, had been much neglected. He undoubtedly had a certain amount of ambition, and a considerable desire for glory, but his passion was the chase. His amiability prompted him to agree with everyone. The last proposal was always the one which he was inclined to follow. Each minister was in favour in turn.

Carvalho saw how this disposition of the Sovereign might be turned to his advantage. During his earlier sittings at the council-board he maintained a discreet reserve. He proposed nothing, but confined himself to pointing out the difficulties in the way of carrying out the suggestions of his colleagues. His criticisms generally proved to have been just. Joseph formed a high opinion of his sagacity. This opinion was strengthened by the representations of the Queen-Mother, who never ceased to point out the good qualities of the new minister. powerful auxiliary was found in the person of the King's confessor, the Jesuit Joseph Moreira, with whom he had contrived to ingratiate himself. His detractors assert that when Carvalho was hanging about the court looking eagerly for place, he sedulously cultivated the society of the Jesuits. He is even said to have adopted, in token of his admiration for the order and the closeness of his intimacy with the members (with a pedantic affectation of the customs of antiquity), the surname of Jesuiticus.* The manner in which he repaid the fraternity is a matter of history. Moreira languished out his days in the prisons of the Junquiera. He was more grateful to another of the monkish favourites of the King, the Father Antony Joseph da Cruz, whose good offices are supposed to have assisted in his advancement. When the great Marquis became omnipotent in Portugal, he extended to the father and his brothers an unvarying protection. Though sons of a poor joiner, and almost totally uneducated, he advanced them to high posts and honours, and their descendants are at the present day holders of a title.

He worked sedulously in his department of war and foreign affairs. A sum of money was devoted to restoring the ruined fortresses of the kingdom, which before the close of the reign were in so poor a condition that the Barbary corsairs cruized with impunity within range of their guns. A national establishment for the manufacture of gunpowder was also erected.

• Mémoires de S. J. Carvalho, vol. i.

« PreviousContinue »