E. Belfort Bax January 1912

Reaction v. Republicanism.

Source: New Age, 11 January 1912, p. 258-259;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

Sir, – I regret that Senhor Bragansa da Cunha is offended by the phrase as to “keeping his hair on,” in my article, but I was thinking of the well-known story of the late Max O'Rell when he was French master at St. Paul’s School, and the schoolboy’s free rendering of “calmez vous.” I still maintain that a gentleman who lets himself go to the extent of calling his political opponents “raving maniacs,” including under this phrase, presumably, the whole of the Portuguese Congress, and even the bulk of the Portuguese nation, does not show that spirit of sane and sober judgment which entitles him to be treated, at least pro hac vice, to any other argument than chaff.

Senhor da Cunha evidently thinks that a man who finds himself for the nonce in possession of the forces of the State has the right to ride roughshod over the lives and liberties of the people of that State with perfect impunity; further that anyone slaying such a man, well knowing, moreover, that in doing so he is sacrificing his own life, is to be styled a “murderer,” and that any view conflicting with this one “is sufficiently confuted by stating it.” Well, this may be so as regards the Senhor’s royalist friends, relations and circle of acquaintances. But, fortunately, the world is not made up exclusively of reactionaries and royalists. It contains also a few Republicans, Democrats, and Socialists. For such it will be rather Senhor da Cunha’s view that will be “sufficiently confuted by stating it.”

I may say that I have not overlooked the quotation from Brito Camacho’s speech, but I deny that a tribute of recognition to those who have given their lives in the cause of the people can in justice be described as appealing to that people’s “worst instincts.” The exhortation quoted from Ramalho Ortigao was obviously intended merely as a counsel of expediency at a time when the republican cause was not yet ripe for energetic action on the part of its followers, and hence is purely irrelevant to the present issue. The other quotations consisting of passages torn from their context are equally ineffective for Senhor da Cunha’s purposes. We all know that “whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth,” and that the most devoted adherents of a cause are apt to be the most severe in their criticism of any small defects accompanying its realisation, and this without any weakening in their devotion to the cause itself. Certainly nothing Senhor da Cunha has brought forward in any way invalidates my information as to the substantial agreement as regards essentials of the Portuguese Republican leaders.