29 January 2009
To say the same to the English
Cartoon by Henricartoon
by Frederico Duarte Carvalho*
This issue of the English domain over the Portuguese is an ancient thing. A very ancient one, and part of our History. To help you understand what's going on, let's say that it started with the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1373, which evolved into the Treaty of Windsor (1386). There was also the dubious Methuen Treaty (1703) and the disastrous Convention of Sintra (1808) which allowed for "the retreat of the French troops, on board of English ships, carrying their weapons, luggage and the product of the plundering done in Portugal". Nevertheless, it was Eça de Queirós and Ramalho Ortigão who figured the English out, and traced several portraits of the English colonisers in the book "The Mystery of the Sintra Road", like this acid image:
"What fecund transformation did England operate on India? The transformation of poetry, of imagination, of the sun, into something dull, trivial and full of coal. I was in India, gentlemen. Do you know what the English transformers did? The translation of India, a mysterious poem, into the mercantile prose of the Morning Post. Under the shadow of traditional buildings they place bales of pepper; they threat the great Indian race, the mother of ideal, like Irish dogs; they navigate tourist boats on the divine Ganges for three shillings a head; they force the traditional dancers to drink pale ale and teach them to play cricket; they use gas to open squares in the sacred forest; and on top of all of this, gentlemen, they dethrone ancient kings, mysterious ones, almost made of marble, and they replace them with fellows with sideburns, ridden with debt, red-faced, that are either forced at Botany-Bay or become governors of India! And who does all of this? An island, half made of ide, half of roast-beef, inhabited by spring chicken in high collars, beer containers!".
In fact, if there's something that people around here really enjoy, it's a nice march against the Britons (which in our national anthem later changed into "cannons"). But the fights are reduced to the vain glories of ball games. Politically, it seems that the English still win. The last person who affronted them was Gonçalo Amaral, the former PJ coordinator in the McCann case, who was removed from the process on the very same day that Gordon Brown accepted to sign the Lisbon Treaty. The former PJ member criticised the national passivity towards the English by recalling the letter from Marquês de Pombal to Lord Chatham, in 1759, in his book "The Truth of the Lie": "(...) I'm aware that you cabinet has taken an empire over ours, but I'm also aware that it's time to end that. If my predecessors were weak enough to concede you everything that you wanted, I will never concede you anything except what I must. This is my final resolution; regulate yourself accordingly (...)".
We are now forced to realise that we don't have a prime minister who can say the same to the English...
source: 'Para Mim Tanto Faz' blog, 29.01.2009
* Journalist, author and blogger