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Art. I.-Portugal Illustrated ; in a Series of Letters. By the Rev.
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8vo. pp. 500. London: Treuttel, Würtz, and Richter. 1828. The extraordinary scenes of which Portugal has been the theatre during the last three years, have necessarily attracted a more than ordinary share of the public attention towards that section of the Peninsula. Nor does that attention appear at all likely to be relaxed for some time to come, as the drama still in course of exhibition at Lisbon, instead of drawing towards its denouement, seems, on the contrary, to be more complicated and more embarrassing than
ever, both to the actors who represent, and the authors who conduct it. John VI., after overturning one free constitution, promised another before he quitted the precincts of this world, but had not time given him to redeem his pledge. His crown descended rightfully to Don Pedro, his eldest son, who was already seated on the throne of Brazil. We say rightfully; because the argument against his succession, which was founded on an ancient law of Portugal, that no foreign prince should wear the crown of that country, applies only to the members of an alien dynasty, and never was intended to apply to the lineal offspring of the house of Braganza. The first act of the new sovereign was to grant a constitution to the Portuguese, and thus, as far as in him lay, to realize the hopes that had been held out to them by his predecessor. His next act was to abdicate their throne in favour of his infant daughter, Maria, and to form a treaty of marriage between her and his brother, Don Miguel, whom he nominated to the regency on his arriving at full age. In the mean while, the reins of the constitutional government were entrusted to the feeble and nervous hands of his sister. She was succeeded in due time by the affianced husband of the young queen, who had pledged himself to the principal courts of Ểurope, and, by his soleinn oath, pledged
NO. XXXIX. VOL. IX.
himself to God, that he would preserve in Portugal the constitution, which he found almost established there, and faithfully execute the functions that were delegated to him. No sooner was he installed into office, than he basely violated his pledges and his oaths, annulled, as far as he could, his marriage contract with the young queen, and assumed to himself the crown, which belonged to her alone. The constitutional charter was trampled on; the laws of the kingdom, whether old or new, were utterly despised ; the properties of opulent individuals were confiscated, and they were themselves either immured in dungeons, or compelled to fly for their safety. By a course of tyranny which is without an example in the recent history of Europe, and indeed could only be paralleled in the annals of the Russian Paul, or of the Roman Caligula, the Portuguese usurper succeeded in quelling the resistance which his violence had excited. He was already even concocting his plans for reconciling the European sovereigns to his coronation, when the arrival of a frigate at Gibraltar, bearing on its deck the lawful owner of the throne, dashed away" at one fell swoop” all the hopes on which he and his wicked partizans had been reposing. Their astonishment was turned into dismay when the course of the infant sovereign was shaped, by a master-stroke of policy, for England, instead of Austria, her original destination; and the honourable and manly reception which she has experienced from our government and our people, must, we should think, have already driven the mean and wretched tyrant into the depths of despair.
But what the end of this strange drama will be, who can predict? Will the crowned usurper be prevailed upon to sink again into the regent? Is it expected that he will acknowledge the title of the infant queen, and that at the fitting time he will fulfil his contract of marriage, and consent to reign through her permission ? After what has occurred, will Don Pedro be so reckless of his daughter's life and happiness, as to entrust them to the keeping of a man, who has already proved by his conduct, that no pledges, however sacred, can bind him? We pity the poor child most unaffectedly, whose fate is made to depend on so many cabinets, and who is likely still to be the object of numberless intrigues. As to happiness in this world, that must be out of the question for her, unless, by some of those turns of good fortune which sometimes occur to mark the vigilance of the Divine Justice, even over the paths of men, her destiny be altogether severed from that of Don Miguel. There is a young prince at Vienna, the Duke of Reichstadt, the son of Napoleon, whom, in case of the death or the dethronement of Don Miguel, her hand and crown would place in a position less dangerous perhaps for the future peace of Europe, than any other station that could be devised. But this is a matter that can, as yet, be only dimly looked at through the shadowy vista of futurity.