International Exposition of Paris 1867

Agriculture, Industry and Fine Arts

April 1, 1867 - November 3, 1867


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Statue of Don Pedro II

Statue of Don Pedro II at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1867

Three equestrian statues represent the features of the two emperors who succeeded each other on the Brazilian throne. At the Rapp Avenue gate, in the Portuguese section, one can recognize the same sovereign, founder of the Brazilian monarchy, as Pedro I, king of Portugal as Pedro IV. The current emperor, Pedro II, is placed in the northwest quarter of the Park.

Such a luxury of statues, however, is not shocking, for the rulers to whom they are raised deserved the bronze honours that are so easily lavished today. Don Pedro I and his son are two types of princes who are both great and good. The House of Braganza took it upon itself to right the wrongs of the other European dynasties, which for so long had revealed themselves to their subjects in the colonies only through onerous taxes, tyrannical laws and even more tyrannical viceroys. History shows us few figures as extraordinary as Pedro I, that royal revolutionary who combined a profound political spirit with the ardour and heroism of a medieval adventurer. His life is full of traits of daring and vigour which, in the century when brute force was everything, would have given him a throne like a Gama or a Pizarro, in spite of the traditions of his family and his personal interest, in spite of the dangers with which he was surrounded, in spite of the orders of an irritated father, made use of the brilliant qualities which heaven had bestowed on him only for the happiness of his adopted country. By dint of his energy, he wrung from the ministers of John VI a pact recognising the independence of Brazil, and when, after having thus saved the country condemned to ruin by the demands of the metropolis, he had only to use the authority he possessed and the affection he inspired to take absolute power, proud of his work and jealous of completing it, he gave his subjects one of the most liberal constitutions ever made. His courtiers were moved; one of them, a Polignac of Rio-Janeiro, declared to the emperor that his reforms were preparing the republic: "Do you count for nothing," replied Pedro, "the honour of being president? Such a word paints a man.

The memory of John VI's son is no less dear to the Portuguese, who remember what Don Pedro did for them. It is doubtful whether Portugal would have accomplished so many useful reforms, achieved so many happy innovations, whether the work of regeneration, in a word, would be so advanced, if liberal and progressive ideas had not triumphed over the principles that dominated the councils of Queen Charlotte-Joaquim and Don Miguel. This result would not have been achieved without the dedication of Don Pedro, who did not hesitate to abdicate the crown of Brazil in order to undertake this fabulous expedition, the result of which, after a long alternation of setbacks and successes, was the defeat of the Miguelist party and the solemn recognition of Dona Maria as Queen of Portugal. It seems that Heaven wanted to grant Don Pedro I a final favour by sending him a premature death on 22 September 1834. Happy are the men to whom it is thus given not to survive their triumphs and to disappear, as it were, in the midst of a brilliant apotheosis.

Heir to the ideas and brilliant qualities of his father, Don Pedro II took it upon himself to ensure the prosperity of Brazil and the happiness of his subjects. To make them happy, he moralized them. He provided education, knowing that education alone produces enlightened citizens and flourishing kingdoms. Let us imagine M. Duruy crowned. Every day the emperor visits schools, colleges, and faculties, listening, questioning, and examining the pupils himself, sometimes taking the place of the teacher, whoever he may be, whether he is teaching children to read or teaching men to think. Don Pedro II did not wait, like Denys, to take the ferule, the exile of Corinth, where not everyone can go, and where Denys went in spite of himself. It can be said of the emperor of Brazil that he is the master of his subjects, in the most beautiful, in the only beautiful sense of the word.

The prosperity of a country depends on the extension of commercial relations, on the development of internal liberties. Penetrated by this great principle, Don Pedro II proved by his actions that he wanted to see it become a reality and that progress in his eyes was not an unattainable utopia. In 1850, the decree was signed that abolished the slave trade in Brazil. On 7 September last, the Amazon was solemnly opened to ships from all countries. Finally, the speech from the throne, delivered at the opening of the last legislative session, by launching for the first time the word emancipation, allows us to foresee in the near future the complete disappearance of slavery, which is incompatible today with the ideas of liberty and humanity which, openly professed by the sovereign, have found an echo in the hearts of all the subjects.

The war in which the empire has been engaged for several years against Paraguay has enabled the Brazilians to appreciate all the virtues of their sovereign. One day the news spread in Rio that the Paraguayan army had invaded the province of Rio Grande do Sul. There was great agitation in the capital. Numerous volunteer corps were formed. Everyone wants to fly to the defence of the country. The emperor announces his intention to lead the troops, but the ministers take a cooler view of the situation and dissuade the emperor from carrying out his plan. The enemy," replies Don Pedro, "the enemy has invaded Brazil; as long as he treads on the soil of the fatherland, my place is in the middle of the army. So do not try to stop me. If I could not leave as emperor, I would leave as a simple volunteer. "In the three years that this deplorable struggle has been going on, the government has been obliged to demand heavier burdens from the citizens. The emperor has wanted to take his share of the new sacrifices imposed on the country, and he has renounced a quarter of his civil list; the empress and the princesses, her daughters, have followed this noble example, which must be all the more admired as the emperor of Brazil is of all the sovereigns the one whose civil list is the least considerable.

It is regrettable that Mr. Chavespinheiro, author of the statue of Don Pedro, was not better inspired by his model. The emperor is represented in the costume he wore at the siege of Uruguyana. The artist's work can be judged from the engraving that we are giving here.

©L'Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée