Mr. Francis to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Lisbon, May 12, 1883. (Received May 31.)
Sir: A recent event of little importance as a mere financial transaction, is still worthy of attention, as indicating in a practical manner the great confidence felt by the banks and capitalists of Lisbon in the stability of the monarchical institutions of Portugal, and in the permanency of the reigning dynasty of the house of Braganza. This transaction, although of a strictly private character, is considered by thoughtful Portuguese as gratifying evidence of the commencement of a more sensible and modern system of management of the great estates of the reigning family, carrying with it, too, a moral example that is certainly in a public sense most wholesome. These vast possessions have within a few years been rescued by Senhǒr de Nazareth, the present administrador, from the chaotic condition in which they had existed for a century or more. He has transformed their administration into an orderly and modern system of economy, overcoming abuses which were traditional and hereditary, and which it was feared were incurable. They had, in fact, existed from the date of the accession of the first monarch of the present dynasty, King Joao IY, in 1640.
Habits of great extravagance and profusion of expenditure for centuries marked the public and private lives of Portuguese sovereigns, arising mainly from the achievements of their navigators and discoverers, which led to the acquisition of such vast wealth that at the time of the colonization of Brazil, in 1549, Portugal was considered the richest kingdom in Europe. Indeed, so great had been the flow of the precious metals into this little kingdom that the coinage of the country was said to be carried on without much reference to the weight of the gold and silver coins that were minted. The barbaric munificence thus inculcated, and almost justified by many decades of unparalleled prosperity, [Page 739]was visible in the management of the royal households down to a very recent day and successive adrninistradors have been obliged to resort to financial measures to sustain them, sometimes ruinous, if not undignified. But Senhōr de Nazareth’s administration of the royal estates has inspired such confidence that he has found no difficulty in making a loan from Lisbon capitalists on very favorable terms of nearly a million dollars, based on royal securities, with the object in view of paying off a portion of the debts of the house.
The royal possessions of real estate in Lisbon are great, embracing a large proportion of blocks in some of the principal streets, with many valuable business houses and residences. So, also, its ownership of lands and improved town properties in other districts of, Portugal is very large. With reformed administration and great retrenchment in expenditures, the harassing embarrassments resulting front former prodigalities and alarming augmentation of indebtedness are alleviated, and increasing confidence in the credit of the house is now clearly manifest.
Capital is sensitive, capitalists are sagacious. The alacrity with which the royal loan referred to was taken evidences restored confidence in the house, once at a low ebb, and a confidence, also, in the perpetuity of the dynasty, quite as strong and demonstrative as any testimony in that regard which has recently appeared.
I have, &c.,