4 APRIL 1914, Page 22


THERE is a passage in Dr. Diercks's book which will not be read by Englishmen without amusement. After quoting the saying that to a pelinliesel stranger in their midst the Portu- guese will give meat if he be an Englishman, a piece of bread if he be a German, to an American money, to an Italian a glass of water, to a Frenchman nothing, and to a Spaniard a bottle of poison, he proceeds: "Recently, and especially since Portugal has realized England's designs upon the Portuguese colonies in Africa, a strong anti-English tendency has set in, and this still continues. Of all foreigners the Germans are, perhaps, to-day best liked by the Portuguese, because they have nothing to fear from them, and because they have known them only as pleasant men of business who have not systentati- cally exploited Portugal." Apart from the guileless German business men (who have never beard of Angola) and the English wolves in sheep's clothing, the author sees many dangers for the Republic and for Portugal—the danger resulting from excessive anti-Clericalism, from personal party politics and intolerance towards political opponents, from in- discipline in the Army, and from the growth of social unrest and demagogy, or what he calls "die Ifacht der Manner der Strasse." These perils may possibly still be surmounted they are attacked with goodwill and a determination to set the welfare of Portugal above that of any party. But there remains a more deeply rooted evil, " the extraordinarily difficult financial position, despite the optimistic statements of the Minister of Finance (Dr. Affonso Costa)." The Republicans were too hopeful from the first. It required a very vague optimism to believe that the deplorable financial situation of the Monarchy could be remedied by a revolution; and of course it is equally vain to hope to cure the no less deplorable situation of to-day by yet another revolution. Quiet, with honest and economical administration, without any magnificent programmes such as the construction of a fleet (which the author considers to be imposed upon Portugal by England), will alone bring the Portuguese finances to a more satisfactory state. But many years are required for this result, and meanwhile political passions are raging with ruinous effect on the surface of the nation's apathy and indifference, so that even the beginning of peace and steady work (ardent e trabalho, the forgotten motto of the Republic three years ago) is not yet in sight. Dr. Diercks's book is by no means confined to Portuguese polities since the Revolution. He traces both the history and literature of Portugal from the earliest times; he gives four chapters to a description of the country, one chapter to the colonies, one to Portuguese art, one to education and religion. He dwells on the neglected state of the prisons, the growth of emigration, the burden of taxation, on agriculture and mines- with their great possibilities, the unfair proportion of work performed by women, the position of the clergy, the crowd of State officials. He attributes Portugal's decadence to the sixty years of her union with Spain (1580-1640). The actual decay came then, but it is jai:ter to look for its cause fifty years earlier, in the second quarter of the sixteenth century, when Portugal, exhausted by her discoveries and conquests overseas, bad nothing to show for her efforts but an artificial prosperity which did not extend beyond the walls of Lisbon and was supported by a system of ultra-Protection. This system is still in vogue, so that even to-day the Portuguese Treasury is often most prosperous when the peasants are starving.