to Mr. Fish.
Lisbon, July 27, 1875. (Received August 23.)
Sir: On Saturday, the 24th instant, there was a grand national celebration in Lisbon, to commemorate the landing in this place, on the 23d and 24th of July, 1833, of the troops of the Duke Terceira, and the retirement from the city of the forces of Don Miguel. The display was very tine, and the ceremonies were participated in by thousands of the inhabitants of Lisbon and the adjoining country, on both banks of the Tagus. The royal family attended a te Deum in the church of San Domingos, one of the most impressive places of worship in this metropolis, and witnessed the “march past” of about 7,000 troops in front of the theater of Donna Maria Segunda, in the praca de Don Pedro, where they were attended by the diplomatic corps, the ministers of state, and a large staff of military officers. The troops made a truly fine show and bad a very soldierly bearing.
Subsequently they marched to the praca dos Romulares, or as it is popularly called, the caes do Sodré, near the river, the scene of the landing in 1833, where the King laid the corner stone of a monument to be erected to the Duke of Terceira, to whose exertions the reigning family of Portugal owes so much for their accession to power.
I mention this celebration, as it is alleged to have some political significance, and is said to be designed to keep alive the patriotic sentiments of the people in opposition to the supposed efforts that are being made in favor of an “Iberian union,” or the restoration of the Miguelite party. Although the events which called forth this demonstration occurred more than forty years ago, these national celebrations are of quite recent date, the first having taken place not more than four years since. They have been skillfully managed by the authorities, the design being to make the 24th of July a permanent national holiday, and have excited an amount of popular and patriotic enthusiasm, judging from the feeling manifested in Lisbon, that gives the stranger every reason to believe that the present royal family has a strong hold upon the affections of a majority of the Portuguese people. These are not demonstrative [Page 1013] in an American or English sense, and there is no shouting for the King, who is allowed to pass without any other recognition than a respectful raising of the hat; but their patriotism and respect for their sovereign are not the less real, or their desire for the preservation of their national independence wanting in sincerity and earnestness. The display on the 24th instant was very largely, if not universally acquiesced in by the people here, reminding me forcibly of the Fourth of July at home, and was kept up with spirit all over Lisbon, by illuminations, fire-works, and other popular methods of public rejoicing, until long after midnight.
That these celebrations have a purpose cannot be doubted. The interest taken in them by the government, the tact displayed in their management, and the evident desire of those in authority to impress upon the people the propriety of making them annual, all point to that end. The prime minister, Senhor A. M. de Fontes Pareina de Mello, is an able statesman, a soldier, and a patriot; and has put the little army of the nation on a respectable footing and in good fighting condition; its actual strength is now about 34,000 men, and its average strength on a peace footing about 25,000, or 8,000 less than the present number. But of these about 4,000 are in the colonies, and mostly in Africa. Of those in Portugal, many are stationed on the Spanish frontiers to prevent violations of Portuguese territory by the bands of either side engaged in the deplorable civil war which has so long convulsed Spain. Senhor Fontes knows his countrymen well, and his policy is generally approved by them. By the celebrations which 1 have attempted to describe, he keeps before the people a show of the power of the government, and excites popular pride in national independence. The Portuguese, as a people, appear to be decidedly hostile to a union of any kind with Spain, but I am not sure that there are not many Miguelites among them. Their great wish is to be preserved from complications with Spanish affairs, and hence any quiet action to that end on the part of their government gives them faith in it, increases the power of the reigning family, helps to strengthen commercial confidence, to develop agriculture and manufactures, and to increase the prosperity of the country.
That there is anything like a deep-rooted or general feeling of uneasiness here to call forth the utmost military power of the government, I cannot aver; but it is wise in critical times to be prepared, as far as possible, to meet emergencies. That there is a feeling of feverishness as to Spain is natural in the present state of things there, and the course of the government in adopting measures to allay that feeling and give confidence here shows that Portugal is under the guidance of those who deserve well of their country, and are entitled to its support.
I may add that it is quite evident to the resident here that the Miguelite party are not without some power in the country, not that they would use it to effect a union with Spain, but that they would not hesitate, under favorable circumstances, to avail themselves of every means at their command to depose the reigning family, and effect their restoration, is clear. Their influence is not particularly felt in Lisbon, but it exists in certain rural districts, and especially at the city of Braga in the north. But the display on Saturday of the strength of the government, and of its hold upon the confidence of the people, is calculated to keep the Miguelites in check, and prevent them, for some time to come, from giving any serious trouble to the Crown.
I have, &c.,