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Even Pinto, when consulted on this important. head, did not venture to give a decisive answer, without a reference to his master. He introduced, therefore, a deputy from the associated nobles, that the duke might satisfy their doubts.
Just at this period, however, Bragança was invited to Madrid under such a shallow pretence of his presence being required at court, that he could not entertain a doubt of a design to detain him as a captive or a hostage. In this dilemma, he consulted the dutchess his spouse, a woman of superior understanding, who made him this reply: “Death awaits you at Madrid, and will, perhaps, reach you at Lisbon; but there you can only expect to die like a miserable prisoner; here you will fall covered with glory, and a king. This is the alternative at the very worst; but let us hope for the best, from the affection of the people, the justice of your cause, and the divine protection.
A deep plot having been formed and matured, and all its ramifications now arranged, the ncbility only waited for the duke's consent, to commence their operations. Several of the principal citizens of the capital had also been gained over, or voluntarily came into a measure, in which all indeed who had a spark of patriotism in their breasts would have been eager to engage, had they been trusted with the secret.
To effectuate their designs, some principal manufacturers, who had joined in the scheme, discharged their workmen, under pretence of the stagnation of commerce, in order that misery and famine might render them more ready to assist in bringing about a revolution. The conspirators then assembled at the house of one of
their party: the points of attack were marked out; the different posts assigned; and the whole party proceeded to the execution of their project by different roads, some on foot, some on horseback, and others in litters, that they might escape suspicion of their design. In this manner they assembled round the palace, which was inhabited by the vice-queen and the secretary of state Vasconellos, who possessed unlimited authority, and who used it without the least moderation.
Pinto, seeing his friends around him, about eight in the morning gave the signal agreed on by firing a pistol, upon which they all rushed in by different gates; mowed down the guards on duty'; ascended to the apartment of Vasconellos, and having dispatched him, threw his lifeless body from the window. They A. D. next proceeded to oblige the vice-queen
1640. to sign an order to the governor to sur
Dec. 1. render the citadel, which of course was complied with.
During this revolution, which was effected in two or three hours, the duke of Bragança re. mained on the other side of the Tagus, waiting for intelligence of the event, which was to make him a king or a fugitive. On being informed that success had crowned the daring attempts of his friends, he stepped into a small boat, and crossing the river, was received at the landingplace with the most joyful acclamations by an immense concourse of people, who had repaired to the spot from all quarters. By noon of the same day, tranquillity was so well restored that the shops were open, and business resumed its regular course, as if no revolution had taken place; so few real partisans had the Spaniards,
or so sensible were they that the voice of the people was against them. In consequence of this unanimity of sentiment, very little blood was spilt, nor could all the future efforts of the king of Spain shake the power which had thusbeen established.
From the Clezation of the House of Bragança to the
HN duke of Bragança being thus called to
the throne by the unanimous voice of the people, was crowned in fifteen days after, with all possible magnificence, and the states being soon assembled, recognized his title, and de clared his eldest son Bon Theodosius prince of Portugal. This young man possessed the most shining talents, and was equally beloved by his father and the people, but he was cut off by a lingering disease in the twentieth year of his age.
The manners of John underwent no change by his elevation. It only called forth those virtues which in a private station would have remained in obscurity. He has been styled the Fortunate, but he might have been with more propriety surnamed the Good and the Beneficent. No king was ever more tender of the lives or property of his subjects. He supported his royal establishment chiefly out his private fortune, and was more unwilling to receive the grants of the nation than it was to offer them.
The Spaniards, however, as might naturally be expected, did not relinquish their pretensions to the kingdom of Portugal, as long as there was the smallest prospect of success. John, though his kingdom was almost defenceless by the perfidious precautions which the council of Spain had before employed, resisted the first attacks on his independence. The peasants were alternately soldiers and labourers: one day they fought; the next, perhaps, followed their several vocations. The king with the assistance of some foreign officers exercised and trained them; and, by habituating them to slight skirmishes, taught them to feel confidence in themselves, and at last to win decisive battles. After this, his ambassadors were treated with respect by foreign courts, notwithstanding all the intrigues of the Spanish government; and in a few years he was universally acknowledged king of Portugal, except by the rival court.
The Spaniards, finding that arms were ineffectual, had recourse to the most insidious arts. John frequently found himself surrounded by conspiracies; but fortune and prudence always brought him off safe. Several of these plots, however, were so well laid, that some of John's most confidential ministers were suspected of treason, and paid with their lives the suspicions which had been raised. Their innocence was afterwards clearly established; but the motives of diffidence so constantly and artfully renewed by the emissaries of Spain, kept the king for a long time in the most tormenting state of doubt and anxiety.
The last year of his reign, however, he enjoyed some share of repose, and suffered more H 2
from the afflictive dispersations of Providence than from external enemies. His health had been declining for a long time, but the energy of his mind was unabated, and he continued to hunt as often as the weather would permit. Indecd, at one period he was so fond of this diver. sion as to become suspected of neglecting more important concerns for its indulgence. As he was one day proceeding to enjoy this amuse. ment, the civil magistrate came up to him, and having made a respectful bow, laid hold of his horse's bridle, and conducted him back to the palace, without opening his lips. John felt the silent remonstrance; and from that hour, he never suffered the pastime of the chase to interfere with the duties of a king.
At last his disorder bambing all the skill of his physicians, they were obliged to confess their want of power to relieve him. He heard their opinion with the same steady calmness which had characterized him through life, and applied himself with much fervency to the service of his Creator. He embraced his children with great tenderness, appointed the queen regent during the minority of his son Alonzo, then
of A. D. only thirteen years
and breathed his last with the fortitude of a Christian 1656.
hero, in his fifty-third year, having reigned nearly sixteen years.
No sooner was the death of John made known in Spain than the court testified an indecent kind of joy, expecting that it would be followed by a dissolution of the existing government. It must be confessed, indeed, that Portugal was in a most perilous situation. The king, Don Alonzo Enriquez, was not only a minor, but reputed of