Frei Sampaio, the pulpit politician

Son of a Portuguese father and Brazilian mother, Francisco de Sampaio (1778-1830) was one of the great defenders of the regent D. Pedro and the cause of Independence. Carioca, the future sermonist entered the college of the Convento de Santo Antonio at 15 years old and, at 1808 , received the habit of a novice, adopting the religious name of Friar Francisco de Santa Teresa de Jesus Sampaio. From an early age, the young friar stood out for his intellectual gifts, especially for his great oratorical ability.

After the landing of D. João VI, in 1808, Frei Sampaio gained prominence in public life and in the hierarchy of the church, occupying, among others, the positions of Secretary of the General Visit and of the Province, Guardian of the Bom Jesus da Ilha Convent, Preacher of the Royal Chapel and Examiner of the Table of Consciousness and Order. His entry into politics took place in 1821, with the departure of D. João VI, when he began to preach in favor of the liberal-constitutional revolution in Porto and, a little later, of the Brazilian cause. He authored the manifesto that requested the permanence of D. Pedro in Brazil.

In the middle of 1821, Frei Sampaio founded, in partnership with Antônio José da Silva Loureiro, the periodical Regulador Brasílio-Luso –– renamed Regulador Brasileiro ––, for which he wrote a series of essays in favor of the Independence of Brazil and the constitutional monarchy. The writing we publish below appeared in the first edition of the newspaper (29 of July 1822) and constitutes an important record of the position held by Frei Sampaio and his supporters in relation to two poignant themes of that turbulent period: the union with Portugal and the political regime that should be adopted in independent Brazil.


The love of the people, the spirit of patriotism, the desire to see Brazil reach the height of happiness that Augusto Defender of its rights promises it, impelled us to go public, offering to our fellow citizens the fruit of our vigils and our reflections on the writings of the best character that dealt with the elements proper to a Constitutional Monarchy. Great geniuses, whose existence makes the glory of the present age and whose talents assure them respectful homage in the centuries to come, deal with this matter today. It would be necessary for us to have very vast knowledge to enter the same career in which they are so superiorly distinguished; but as in the great ocean the little sloops sail in the shadow of the ships of the tall ship, so in this political ocean we will go, in its shadow, aspiring with them to the glory of guiding the ship of the fatherland to the port of its happiness. Our only reward will be the good reception of the people and the right to be able to say that in the best possible way we contribute to the advancement of their fortune, as well as to their civilization; and we willingly expose ourselves to their invectives, if we are convinced that for some pretense, or project of particular interests, we are making use of the company in which we enter. The country can only be well served with these sentiments and, along with the honor that results from equal ideas, we cannot discover any more glorious reward. Perhaps some do not think us very virtuous to advance this proposition which in the most famous days of Rome would only have been uttered by one Roman or another. We will show it to the public, and metempsychosis will have proselytes.

Union of Brazilians with the honorable Portuguese

The bases of the elevation of the Brazil would appear in the eyes of the nations of Europe with an infinitely shameful stain if they saw signs of this political schism that has given rise to distrust on the part of Brazilians towards the European Portuguese, it being true that among them there are many honorable and worthy of the our esteem, because they consider Brazil as their homeland and are interested in its prosperity. Is it possible that, at the time when we work to show Europe the degrees of our civilization, we want to lose the tones of fraternity that have always united us? That when all nations expect to see the fruits of this philosophy, which has matured our philanthropy, and of our political liberalism come out from among us, we present to you the names of all the Portuguese written on the Athenian shells, without excluding those who are worthy to share with us the Civic Crowns, why have you not yet given proof of being unfaithful to our cause? It will be an honor for them to raise their voices and say to Europe “we do not find shade at the foot of the great tree of freedom that grows in this country; the people look down upon us with distrust, we applaud their conduct, and they do not value our applause”? What! Will the French, the English, the Italians be more interested in the system of our prosperity than the good Portuguese, our brothers? Was it perhaps the Goths, the Hérulos or the Tamoios who laid the foundations of these great houses that exist today in the possession of Brazilians? It was perhaps the Phoenicians who taught us the first elements of commerce, those who made our navigation appear in rotation, those who taught us to extract the riches of agriculture from the bosom of the earth, those who offered us, in short, the first ideas of our moral and civil education?

We must not forget that we must honor in the good Portuguese the memory of those to whom Brazil confesses itself obliged, because in the state of colony they gave it, in the mercantile balance of Europe , a weight much greater than that of the Metropolis. Why should we remember the poverty with which they appeared among us? If we compare this primitive state with that of its opulence, then we will find an argument for its industry, for its energy; working under this sky so little analogous to the climate of his homeland; and this argument is the strongest rebuke against some Brazilians, my countrymen, who live by indolence in misery under the same roofs in which their parents flourished, like those shepherds who, in the ruins of Palmyra, live under the straw, having in front of their eyes the remains of the superb columns that his elders raised.

Cosimo de Medicis, in Tuscany, was not born with velvet breeches; the famous businessman Hubert, in Hamburg, did not have a golden cradle. It is not injurious to a man to appear in his country or abroad in a state of poverty; the poorer the closer the state of nature is. No story tells us about the tailors, nor the shoemakers of Abraham and Jacob, they all speak of their great riches through the work of their industry or the fruit of their alliances.

End, therefore, this schism shameful; let us embrace our worthy brothers in Portugal, this conciliation is necessary and even indispensable if we intend to appear in the line of polite nations as a civilized nation. The Trojans, forced to leave their homeland, spread horror against the Greeks wherever they approached in the course of their travels; we don’t want the good Portuguese, forced to leave Brazil for not being able to reconcile our trust, despite not opposing our march, make the name of Brazilians in the provinces of Europe abominable.

Tranquility and Union were the great virtues that Our Augusto Príncipe recommended to us; Those who disturb the good order of our works, who foment intrigues, who play the ridiculous roles of Democritus and Heraclitus among us, laughing or crying at the sight of all our projects, considering us as revolutionaries because we sailed without waiting for the last bulls of the Lisbon Congress; let us despise these parasitic plants, but let us try to offer the most decisive proofs of friendship to those who know the justice of our cause and are equally interested with us in its triumph.

The prospect of this Union will be one of the most beautiful spectacles that we can present to Europe. Our conduct to the contrary may have much to do with anarchy; and then we will see, among us, not only the confusion of languages, but we will have to fear that we will remain under the ruins of our political edifice and that the workers will appear in the eyes of posterity like the mummies of the pyramids of Memphis.

Republic instead of a Constitutional Monarchy

When we see in the social contract of the illustrious citizen of Geneva, what he says about the republican government, asserting that among all it would be the most beautiful, if there were a people of gods in the world, we cannot convince ourselves that there are people of sense who conceive this project and who want to offer us the Utopia of Thomas More or Plato’s metaphysics Republic, when we all hope to see a Constitutional Monarchy. It is not necessary to show with torches how far we are from these austere virtues, which form the solid foundation of democracies; nor the banks in which the same ones that boasted the most with the possession of these virtues were wrecked.

We do not see today in the universe a single people that conceives and can carry out the chimerical idea of ​​building the political system of his rule on the stones of Athens and Rome. The time and the current state of nations are more suited to having abortions than to carrying out similar projects, and it would be a good thing if abortion did not cost a lot of blood, or if only that of the designers were spilled. We do not doubt that the proposition of the famous Adams when he says that the old political system of the governments of Europe has lost all its credit in the balance of philosophy, through the influence of liberal ideas, contributes much to the idea of ​​this plan; and that, by force, America must adopt new political elements to lay the foundations of its government. We do not mourn the lack of the Pythoness of Endor, nor of the old Priestess of Delphi, to tell us what this writer’s intentions were, whether or not he intended to sow in America the bones of the Alcibiades, the Aristides, the Graccos and the Mantios, so that among them new republicans were reborn. If such was his idea, requiescat in pace Mr. Adams ; we gave him the good night that Frederick gave to philosophers who died in Potsdam. It is easier for a Monarchy to improve the system of its legislation, destroying the abuses that with the lapse of time have been introduced and ingrained with the silence of the peoples, than to change this system, entirely abandoning the elementary principles of its education; all the measures taken to implement this idea resulted in the scenes that Europe has just witnessed in horror in the beautiful country of science and the arts. Who among us would want to gird his forehead with the bloodied laurels of the Thouréts, the Cheniens, the Marats, and the Desmoullins? Who would want to see the career of his days cut short, to be applauded today by an ephemeral party, as Gaius Gracchus was in Rome, and tomorrow to be murdered, as he was at the gates of Diana’s temple? To be taken today to the Pantheon like Mirabeau and tomorrow thrown into the sewer, like this pretended republican?

France at the time of the revolution still had men well worthy for their talents to enter the hierarchy of those who illustrated the century of Louis XIV; it will not be possible to dispute with many, among those who breathed under the ruins of his chimerical project, the literary knowledge that is discovered in his writings; and if they were not able to bring their enterprise to an end, we must hope that it will come to fruition among us only because some provinces in America already claim to be republican, fostering, as is to be expected, the poison that very soon will cause these to perish in terrible convulsions. provinces. This memory undoubtedly had its origin in some dream. As the writings of Mably, Raynal and Condorcet are now in the hands of some men, it is credible that they would lie down after reading four or five pages of these philosophers, without understanding them, and only dreaming of a Republic in Brazil. We know truly educated men who have these books at their bedside, but they are the first who, in their pamphlets, cry out for a Constitutional Monarchy and eagerly await it, because they are friends of the people and interested in their prosperity.

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