The War of Paraguay: Chapter XVI, Necessity of Adjournment. — Silveira Lobo, Minister. — Saldanha Marino.

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Lithograph of the Palácio do Conde dos Arcos, published in Robert Walsh’s Notices of Brazil in 1828 and 1829.

Furtado, resentful of Saraiva, reluctantly supports the ministry and gets his friends to contain themselves. “I will give the government,” he says in the Senate, of which he was then a member, in July, “the means of sustaining the foreign war in which the empire finds itself endeavored, and my support, until events come to disavow the words of your excellencies … While events are forthcoming, I will keep a look out to see if the political swallows migrate (1). I have nowhere to which to migrate.”

The rift, the separation between Liberals and Conservatives that they’d sealed in 1862, was evident. The Liberals were getting along better with the pure Conservatives (2), with which they united against the Olinda government, than they did with their allies of yesterday. The more this breakdown of the party affected Nabuco, the further he found himself from wanting to contribute to it; nor did it suit him to aid the opposition in eliminating the Conservative element from the party, of which element he himself was a part.

Considering both halves separately, he still preferred that which represented the doctrine of Paraná, Conciliation, which represented the earliest Liberal tradition; recognizing, however, the insufficiency of that element as a third party, he preferred the government of the Conservatives, who formed an essential party. With the fusion of Liberals and moderates to form the other party not being possible, the Conservative party should have governed, the Conservative party which, since Itaboraí surrendered power to Paraná in 1853, had not returned to power except with the reconstructed Abaeté ministry in 1859, and with the Caxias-Paranhos ministry, also reconstructed, and which even in these two cases of purification had lacked Conservative leaders.

The truth is that the Nabuco’s spirit was objective and practical enough to let itself be dominated, especially during grand crises, by traditions without tangibility, by divisions without distinction, by sides with names that had only personal scope, and by relationships that were purely negative. He considered administration to be a practical thing, that required skill, preparation, the height of vision, and a sense of responsibility; for him there was not but one mode of administration, as in the navigation of waters there is not but one course to follow. Ferraz being at the head of the war chest seemed well to Nabuco, as Ferraz was an energetic, expeditious man, with his own resources and audacious initiatives; Nabuco did not have to enter into inquiries about if in 1860 he had fought with all his might in favor of the Conservative party; he accepted Ferraz’s word of honor of not being already joined with that group, without putting forth clear motives or intentions, nor entering into the examination of the past.

The Chamber’s adjournment freed the government from political minutiae; the recess would be long and would provide time for work. Nabuco would make an effort, would work tirelessly all through this period (almost a year) and then when the Chamber reconvened, if political passions showed themselves to be unyielding, rather than ingratiating himself with one of the sides, he would abandon power. Instead of volunteering to destroy the edifice he had raised, he would leave the work of demolishing it to the architects of ruins, precisely because he was sure that the common enemy would not delay in making a sudden invasion into the house divided, interrupting the work of the internal collapse.

The legislative session of 1865 was bound to be short. Paraguay had brought war to the territories of the allied nations, and the government had to make a great effort to repel the invader and punish him, at the same time that it prepared the reforms for whose planning the ministry had been created. Both matters required the Chambers’ adjournment. Indeed, Nabuco immediately wrote this letter to the president of the Council: “Friend and senhor Marquis of Olinda: I venture to send to Y.E., to amend as you see fit, a resolution of reasons for the Chambers’ closure, which should be formally presented after the Senate approves the bills of law conceding legitimacy to the ministers’ positions.

“With the greatest respect and consideration, Y.E.’s friend and colleague, J.T. Nabuco de Araújo.

“P.S. What more is left for us?”

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Lithograph of the Chamber of Deputies, also from Notices of Brazil in 1828 and 1829.

And the following day: “All our friends believe that it is urgent for the ministry to be completed before the recess, and as a guarantee of the same. So think Saraiva and I … Indeed, an incomplete ministry seems weak, or lends itself to interpretations and suspicions. The man indicated by all to complete the government is Silveira Lobo, who is prepared to accept and have enough influence to oppose Ottoni’s sway in the Liberal camp. Silveira Lobo will take on the charge of Minister of the Navy, and Saraiva will remain in as Minister of Foreign Affairs (3). I beg that Y.E., in accordance with the urgency of the circumstances, go tomorrow to São Cristóvão to propose said appointments.” Olinda finding himself in agreement with these appointments, and the Emperor having consented, they were made public on the 27th, and thus was ministry the completed.

Silveira Lobo was an old Liberal of Republican tendency, but one to which the Progressive Conservatives had been attracted, in need of traditional names with which to neutralize the political influence of Teófilo Ottoni and stop the stampede of old Liberals. Silveira Lobo, and in second place Saldanha Marinho (Silveira Lobo had at his disposal a large province, Minas; Saldanha did not have his own fief), were the democratic barriers that saved the League from being reduced to its Conservative faction, just one of the two factions that composed it. Silveira Lobo and Saldanha Marinho represented almost the same role, at a time in which they were allies of the group considered by the Liberals to be, if not reactionary, then backward, cut from the cloth of imperialism. Both came to be governors of important provinces and presidents of the Chamber.

The two were essentially different men. Silveira Lobo was Catholic, even in politics, and Saldanha Marinho came to be the Ganganelli (4) of Masonry in his fight against the Church. They are similar, however, in that in that period both seem lost amongst the moderates, and just as seduced by them. Saldanha Marinho would not stop winding up amongst the Republicans, even if the Senate made useless the goodwill with which the Emperor chose him. Neither could Silveira Lobo avoid the same route, who equally could be certain of the Emperor’s personal sympathy and appreciation, which he deserved. In a caricature, relatively old, one can see Saldanha Marinho, representing the Diario do Rio, with a Phrygian cap (5). That caricature shows him in his true aspect. His interests, distractions, or condescensions can disguise him or hide him; but, there in the foundation of his character, he appeared visible to the eye of the observer. That feature was, in both men, the great personal weakness, which revealed the yarn of which each was made. Nature propelled the two, once they surrendered to it, to fall on the side of the republic, since there was no place to avoid it however many efforts they made to maintain a neutral disposition, and even a disposition favoring the opposition. Perhaps that’s why they both showed the most absolute impartiality toward the procedures used by both parties when they had the opportunity to employ them; both found themselves prepared, for example, to maximize the electoral practices of which they accused their adversary, if well there had been in Saldanha Marinho greater reserve and composure, as well as authority, than in Silveira Lobo.

Saldanha Marinho came from the press, and preserved from that profession an informality, and a communicative character. Silveira Lobo affected the austerity of the intransigent, of the distrustful, of the man of radical ideas. But behind this appearance there was hidden the private man, the man who was affectionate, loyal, and full of self-sacrifice. Only, in this aspect, few knew him—the actor eclipsed the man.

One of the fatalities of our politicians, who have been condemned to futility and failure, has been Catonism (6). Silveira Lobo died without making the least concession of his harshness to interests and advantages; in respect to this, he never denied his Catonism, neither in his first stage nor in his last. But politically, that’s to say, as a minister, as president, and as a leader of the party, he was like the rest and he had, like every ruthless critic, the failing of supposing himself superior to all criticism—of believing that the same acts that he criticized in others acquired, when practiced by him, the virtue of good intentions. Saldanha Marinho, on the contrary, obeyed the healthy impulse of those that come to power with the reputation of being well-liked, of being accessible to all and with the popularity of the streets—he felt the need to correct this reputation, to prove himself as an administrator, and he did so. Silveira Lobo was one of the most pleasant colleagues that Nabuco knew in the various ministries of which he formed a part.

Translator’s Notes

1. I’ve translated golondrina as “swallows,” though it’s worth noting that in Spanish “golondrina” is a term used for migrant workers (similar to the English term “snowbird,” used for Canadians and northern US residents vacationing in Florida over the winter.) I don’t believe this is the case for the Portuguese word used in the original, andorinha—regardless, the point is migration, whether Furtado is drawing a comparison to migratory birds or to migratory birds and migrant workers.
2. That is, the “traditionalists,” the Conservatives who had not formed part of the Progressive League.
3. Despite Nabuco’s entreaties, Otaviano did not accept his position as Minister of Foreign Affairs, so Saraiva (who had bee designated for Minister of the Navy) filled in for Otaviano, leaving Minister of the Navy open.
4. 18th century pope, known for expelling Jesuits from Portugal and Brazil, among other places.
5. A conical, limp, brimless hat, also called the “liberty cap.” During the French and American revolutions, it came to symbolize freedom and republicanism. The Argentine coat of arms contains a Phrygian cap, as does the seal of the US army.
6. This refers to Cato the Elder, and essentially means an emphasis on austerity, a distrust of intellectuals, and a distaste for decadence and luxury.

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