Raul Pompeia

Image: Ruth Dewhurst


Comments on the political militancy of the writer, on the occasion of the celebrations of 160 years of his birth

Writers and the Republic

who read the novel Sad end of Policarpo Quaresma he must have realized how much the figure of marechal Floriano Peixoto and the events of the Revolta da Armada marked the memory of the population of Rio de Janeiro. Lima Barreto, author of the book, was not the only one of the great Rio de Janeiro writers to become emotionally and literarily involved with this critical period of our history.

Machado de Assis, for example, published, in 1904, the novel Esau and Jacob, and in 1908, his last work, Aires memorial, set in the period immediately after the Abolition of slavery and the Proclamation of the Republic. In addition to the novels, some short stories gathered in old house relics (1906) bring the bellicose context of the early 1890s, especially “Maria Cora”, whose story takes place during the year 1893 and entangles the characters in the events of the Federalist Revolution.[I]

Much has been written about the alleged absenteeism of Machado de Assis and his works, of alienation and even indifference on the part of the writer in the face of the social issues that surrounded him during almost half a century of intellectual activity. The historical and political dimensions of Machado's work, as observed by the critic José Brito Broca, when they appeared in debates, until at least the 1950s, were guided by such absenteeism: “and even today [1952] there are those who come to accuse the writer of indifferent and alien to our socio-political reality.”[ii]

Some rare exceptions, such as the essay by Astrojildo Pereira, from 1939 – the year in which the centenary of the birth of the author of Dom Casmurro.[iii] This is the first strong theoretical and interpretative movement to rise up against this mistaken version involving both the man Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis and his work. Throughout the pages of “Machado de Assis, novelist of the Second Empire” we find much of that historical material underlying the fictional formulation of Machado's short stories and novels, material that would later be developed and expanded by several researchers: patriarchy and family relationships, slavery, relationships economics and, above all, politics. From Machado’s pages, Astrojildo comments, “with equal intensity and in an inseparable way, the human and the Brazilian, the natural and the social, the permanent and the contingent, emerge with equal intensity and in an inseparable way, in a harmonious conjunction of contrasts.”[iv]

Although centered on the period of the Second Reign, Astrojildo's essay points to the time that interests us most closely: the first republican decade. In addition to two short stories, “Maria Cora” and “Mariana”, Astrojildo interprets a little of the meaning that Machado’s fiction gave to slavery, Abolition and the advent of the Republic and that appears in the two novels mentioned above, highlighting that the Esau and Jacob was the “only novel by Machado de Assis whose course of action crosses the first years of the Republic, alluding to the events of 1893.”[v] Interpretive path that was matured by Brito Broca when analyzing this novel, mainly the couple Batista and Dona Cláudia and the famous Chapter LXIII (new tablets): “One of the most perfect expressions of Machado’s satire”, from which “Machado shows us the great event of the proclamation of the Republic through an insignificant detail.”[vi]

No Esau and Jacob the story of the twin brothers, the monarchist Pedro and the republican Paulo, madly in love with the girl Flora, goes back to 1871 (the year of enactment of the Lei do Ventre Livre), but the bulk of the narrative is concentrated in the 1890s, with the twins' fight "finally culminates - a coincidence the author doesn't bother to disguise - in the Civil War of 1893."[vii] Endorsing the observations made by Astrojildo Pereira, the scholar John Gledson also recalls that in the “Esau and Jacob, the only novel [by Machado] that goes beyond November 1889, the whole vision he brings of politics and history is conditioned by this fact [the unfolding of the Proclamation].”[viii]

Machado was an eyewitness to the events of the second half of 1893 and recorded in the chronicles he wrote at the time, in his characteristic way – ironic and sinuous – the 'daily war' that dragged on for several months in the then Federal Capital.[ix] It is interesting to note that the first phase of the chronicles of The Week began in April 1892, shortly after the state of siege, and ran until November 1893: “It is almost exactly one-third of the series, and ends at a significant moment, when the Gazeta was suspended for a month, in defiance of strict government censorship during the Armada Revolt.”[X]

Studying the history of the first Republic through the chronicles of Machado de Assis is a very interesting methodological resource: “The most incisive traits of the national and international political panorama, in the last lustrous of the 19th century, we find in the serials of Machado de Assis, at News Gazette, now gathered under the title The Week".[xi] With regard to the events of 1893, “All of Machado's actions during the naval uprising belie any idea of ​​a mere escapist dissatisfaction with politics. On the contrary, it almost surprised me to find expressions of disgust and despair so sincere and intense: between the lines, perhaps, but not far from the surface. A careful reading of the ten chronicles written during the revolt reveals in almost all of them an awareness of the situation, shared with the reader.”[xii]

John Gledson, following the insights by Brito Broca, perceptively perceived some important affinities between history and fiction, which occur in the Esau and Jacob – some events had already been the subject of analysis for the chronicles of The Week: “In the Romance [Esau and Jacob], Batista, the fickle politician, who is rapidly losing footing in the new world of the Republic, supports Deodoro's coup, and loses his job weeks later when Floriano takes power. In this new world, the old system, whatever its flaws or virtues, is over: Flora's death [Chapters CVI and CVII] coincides with the state of siege imposed by Floriano in April [1892]”.[xiii]

Obviously, Machado's novel, as well as some short stories and many chronicles from that period, do not constitute a mere fictional tracing of reality, a procedure, by the way, not very well liked by the writer. On the other hand, the influence of political events and the influx of history is undeniable – apprehended both in the heat of the moment, in the case of chronicles, or remembered in the writing of novels. This question was very well answered by Astrogildo Pereira, a Marxist who obstinately sought the social meaning of Machado's work, finding in Politics "a permanent and multifaceted concern, which the fiction writer Machado appropriately transferred to novelistic intrigue and the chronicler addressed directly in the commentary of newspaper. It was his way of practicing politics, as legitimate as any other – and it was even the way that best suited his way of being and his capacity as a writer. It is not too much to conclude that it was in the specific capacity of a writer, making political criticism of Brazilian society, that Machado de Assis participated effectively, and excellently, in the political life of the country. Nor should we forget that criticism, whatever it may be, has a character completely contrary to any kind of 'absenteeism' or 'indifference'. And anyone who does not see, nor perceive, nor feel, in Machado's work, this critical feature, patent and constant throughout, does not understand what seems to me to be one of its best characteristics, what links it indissolubly to the things lived and observed in your time."[xiv]

Lima Barreto was a teenager when the Revolta da Armada exploded and he felt the hardships of the civil war firsthand.[xv] Machado, the most renowned writer of the time, saw the newspaper he wrote for, one of the most respected and important in Rio, closed down by Floriano's censorship. He was even accused of participating in a monarchist conspiracy that was trying a restorative coup. The accuser was Diocletian Martyr, the main leader of the Jacobins, who personally delivered a list, “in a denunciation brought in 1894 to the head of the Government, with the names of public officials who conspired against the institutions.”[xvi]

Machado de Assis would also witness the persecution, imprisonment and banishment of many of his colleagues, such as Olavo Bilac, for example, locked up for four months in Fortaleza de Lage, in Rio, for being a fierce critic of the government of Floriano Peixoto, mainly through the section “ Vida Fluminense", which he wrote in the newspaper The Combat. It is the poet himself who reports: “On April 10, 1892, at 11 pm, as a revolt, a riot, or something similar had broken out in Rio, I found myself arrested, interrogated for four hours on end in the secretariat of police, sent first to the Barbonos barracks, then to the War Arsenal, then on board the Aquidaba, and finally to the fortress of Lage, from between whose walls I watched ships for four months. At the end of those four months in prison, I was released. Why did they release me? why did they arrest me? These two questions still today curl over my soul, unanswered.”[xvii] After his arrest, Bilac still endured a long exile in the city of Ouro Preto: “In two consecutive years, 1892 and 1893, Bilac realized that a new regime was not implemented painlessly, even if his sympathy for the republican cause was manifest.”[xviii]

Raul Pompeia

Nothing compares to the experience lived at that time by the writer Raul Pompéia (1863–1895); one of the most emblematic and tragic cases of writers' involvement in that tumultuous first republican decade. The famous author of The Athenaeum, at the age of eighteen, was already a prominent abolitionist militant. Biographer Eloy Pontes tells us that since the writer's entry into the Faculty of Law of Largo de São Francisco and closer contact with the intellectuals of News Gazette, his life took a turn: “As was natural, Raul Pompéia joined the band [of Gazeta]. A Republican, atheist, and passionate abolitionist, he had found his way. Even the influences of home would no longer twist his destiny. During the holidays [1881-1882] São Paulo life appeared to him, with its perspectives of struggles, opening paths and tearing veils. From there, the energetic image of Luís Gama, hero and intrepid leader, beckoned. Hence the appearance of the newspaper Çà Wrath!, in August 1882, with an audacious program, organ of the Abolitionist Center of São Paulo. Editors: Alcides Lima, Raul Pompéia, Ernesto Correia, Macedo Soares and Brasil Silvado.” [xx]

In São Paulo, at a propaganda event for Caixa Emancipadora Luís Gama, along the lines of abolitionist conference-concerts, “when there was a freedom party at Teatro São José, the speaker was Raul Pompéia.”[xx] That was a few weeks before Luís Gama passed away. Pompéia had already been decisively dominated by militancy: “By now it was facing two scarecrows: the slave quarters and the throne. He was exposed to two advertisements: the republican and the abolitionist. Fernandes Figueira, a colleague from the high school benches, wrote that Pompéia 'militated in Çà Ira!; and as a conspirator: I remember the very excited face with which, at times, he conveyed the password'.”[xxx]

With the death of Luís Gama [August 24, 1882], Raul Pompéia followed in the footsteps of Antônio Bento and the caifazes: “He belonged to the group, with other colleagues, mocking the risks, appearing at the targeted points, putting great grace in occupying the evidence positions.[xxiii] The caifazes led by Antonio Bento used a ciphered language, full of codes and passwords: “the slaves were 'fardo', 'turkey' or 'piglet', and the abolitionists recognized themselves by using the CA [Confederation Abolitionist] on the left lapel. Raul Pompéia, for example, stole a slave in São Paulo and sent him to Rio de Janeiro, where a member of the CA was waiting for him at the Central. The communication was made by telegram 'Follow baggage train'. The fugitive was then taken to the house of an abolitionist, where he waited for the moment to be transported again to Ceará.”[xxiii]

After May 13, 1888, the year he wrote The Athenaeum, Pompéia channeled all his militant energy towards radical republicanism: “By act of the provisional government, since January 1890, Pompéia had taken on the functions of secretary of the School of Fine Arts and professor of Mythology. Always divided between literature and the plastic arts, from then on his activities in the field of letters would be less and less relevant. Between 1889 and 1890, he put the last coat on his songs without meter, which ten years later would be published in an edition sponsored by the mother and prepared by the journalist and friend João Andréa.”[xxv]

The development of events after November 15, 1889 pushed the writer even further towards radicalism. The coup of November 03, 1891 – the dissolution of Congress by Deodoro – once and for all creased a fracture that had been forming since the Constituent Assembly. From then on, things went downhill for good. What we can call 'organized society', after Deodoro's resignation and Floriano's rise to the presidency – November 23, 1891 – was divided into two practically irreconcilable halves: Florianists and anti-Florianists; with repercussions in virtually all spheres of society.

Raul Pompéia sided with Floriano Peixoto. A passage from The restless life of Raul Pompéia gives a good measure of the writer's committed character: “The filter of politics didn't get into his blood just because of abolition. Raul Pompeia was emotional. He didn't know the middle ground, the compromises, the dubious attitudes. In his unpublished papers we glean these warnings: 'The middle ground is the status quo of cowardice. In logic it is the dread of the consequence, unraveled in deductions by the slope of the argument. In ordinary life it is timid duplicity, faced with the energetic consequences of character'. In everything he took sides. He was never a calm, serene, indifferent spectator. He preferred to enlist in the fighting forces. He wouldn't let himself be recruited. He defined himself. Once he had defined himself, he was going to the last consequences, no matter what. Rather break than twist”.[xxiv]

He closed ranks with the Florianistas and wrote furiously against the opposition, against the harassers of Floriano's presidency, many of them his own friends, thus breaking up old friendships, undoing circles of friends that came from a long time: “The press was extreme in parties without prudence. Eve's friends split up. Colleagues of long years ripped each other to shreds. The men of letters, coming from the academies, always united, forming groups of the greatest cordiality, now saw the old bonds broken. […] Politics, in those cruel times, had erased the old esteems. The former literary colleagues were divided into resentful camps. Personal sympathies were forgotten. The commitments that years of good camaraderie impose on men of sensitivity have been trampled underfoot. The gale of political hatreds had come, destroying everything. […] The scattered groups lost their liveliness. O club ralellais, which Raul Pompéia had invented, with the aim of bringing friends together, had dissolved. […] The civil strife devoured everything. It's just that the civil war acquired regrettable aspects, extreme writers. […] The opponents did not reconcile. The old camaraderie had little influence. The friendships of all times, broken by the political differences of the civil war, would not be reconstituted, extreme in unfair judgments. Raul Pompéia had been the victim of intoxication. The propitious atmosphere worsened, day by day, the state of moral health”.[xxv]

To have an idea of ​​the degree to which things have reached, two great friends even got into a fight in a pastry shop in the middle of Rua do Ouvidor; were none other than Raul Pompéia and Olavo Bilac. The skirmishes passed from the newspapers to the facts. At the beginning of 1892, more precisely on the 19th of January, it began to circulate The Combat, a newspaper founded by republicans Pardal Mallet and Lopes Trovão and whose main purpose was to oppose Floriano Peixoto. Deodorists were not willing to give up the points. Attempts at military sedition, mainly in the Navy – such as the revolt at the Fortaleza de Santa Cruz, which had been taken over by Sergeant Silvino Honório de Macedo with the intention of starting a coup against Floriano –; attempts in Congress to file a lawsuit impeachment or to challenge the legality of the government; press campaign for new elections, given that Deodoro had resigned before completing two years in office – the Constitution did not make this issue clear; civil mobilization in the streets, conspiracy in the barracks, etc. The atmosphere was tense and the generalissimo was very ill.

Pompéia had been writing the section “Lembranças da Semana” since July 1890, in the Commerce Newspaper. It dealt with an enormity of subjects and among them, politics. In the edition of March 7, 1892, he wrote his usual chronicle and decided to deal with the events that were destabilizing Floriano's presidency. The text surprised many people, as it brought great praise to the figure of Deodoro and even more because he had not accepted to take the lead in the attempts of recent months: “Deodoro – writes Raul Pompéia – would be exalted in the name of crime. If he committed the weakness of acceding to the desire of the conspirators of public disgrace, where would the laurels of the great day of November go? How was the voice of history to be pronounced regarding the legendary soldier of the 15th? The great man lucidly understood the dark moral disaster he was being invited to, and he rejected the invitation. Nobody was unaware, moreover, that this invitation would not be accepted.”[xxviii]

In the newspaper The Combat there was the section “Vida Fluminense”, written by Olavo Bilac, under the pseudonym Pierrot; “section where satires, verrines and pasquinades were linked together.”[xxviii] According to Antonio Dimas: “Using the pseudonym Pierrot, Bilac was in charge of the 'Vida Fluminense' section and through it he tormented Floriano between January and April 1892.”[xxix] The day after the publication of Raul Pompéia's chronicle in the Commerce Newspaper the following comment appeared in “Vida Fluminense”: “The memories of the week, feuilleton Commerce Newspaper, well deserve a special mention in our chronicle. The author is a government employee, professor of Mythology at the School of Fine Arts. This young man could well earn and eat his salary completely, without debasement of character and without undignified allusions. He, however, prefers to eat this bread that the devil has kneaded, passing it through the butter of servility and flattery. He is very pretentious when he thinks that by incensing Marshal Deodoro he is dragging him to Florianista bands, where dishonor reigns. Maybe it's not pretension, maybe it's moral softening, because Raul Pompéia masturbates and likes to, late at night, in a cool bed, lovingly and sensually remember all the beauties he's seen during the day, then counting the boards from the ceiling where they steamily waltz.”[xxx]

The aggression was so low that, at the time, they even attributed the text to journalist Oscar Rosas. No one believed that Bilac was capable of being so mean to that longtime friend.[xxxii] And it hurt even more that The Combat be the responsibility of Pardal Mallet, a childhood friend of Raul Pompéia and who traveled with him on a long journey of study, camaraderie and republican militancy. In April 1889 they had even founded a newspaper: Bilac, Raul Pompéia, Luís Murat and Pardal Mallet. It was called To Rua, a pamphlet journal and one of the first to mention “frankly socialist” propaganda; the war of extermination against bourgeois institutions so faithfully represented by Mr. D. Pedro II…”[xxxi]

The blow landed on target. According to Eloy Pontes, “Raul Pompéia repressed the affront for a week. Family members report that he spent the week without food and under the control of insomnia.”[xxxii] The reply came on March 15, however, leaving no room for the dispute to extend: “There was no response to such aggression. Mud splash can there be change? He did not even despise himself: that would be to sully contempt.”[xxxv] The hurt hadn't been healed. The personal encounter between the two writers, at the Cailteau confectionery, ended in a violent scene: “There were jerks, hairy chests exchanged and raised arms.” […] Raul Pompéia decided that only compensation through weapons could correct the affronts.”[xxxiv] He proposed a duel, which was readily accepted by Bilac. The two writers – lifted to literary glory in 1888, Bilac with Poems and Pompeii with The Athenaeum – they just didn't face each other with swords in hand at the last moment, because the referee of the duel, Francisco Mattos, proposed an appeal – they had already gone there; proved that they were men of honor: “Why go any further? He asked them to end the feud, to the satisfaction of all. To these words, and obeying the nominal conduct, Olavo Bilac replied: “I was the offender. I am satisfied”. He held out his hand, which Raul Pompéia shook with embarrassment, giving his witnesses the floor. So was the meeting.”[xxxiv]

The Floriano government's garrote continued to tighten. The year 1893 would be decisive. In February, the federalist revolution broke out in the southern states. In the Federal capital, the atmosphere was one of intense conspiracy. In defense of the government, the Jacobins, extreme nationalists and ready for anything: “Rua do Ouvidor was the point of daily meetings. There, Raul Pompéia joined everyone else, promoting riots, exposing himself to raids and propagating, with nerves, the principles of a nationalism to the outrage. [at all costs, in excess]”[xxxviii] An extremely fruitful writer, Pompéia wrote copiously in the press, in the midst of all that turmoil. And he drew. He was an excellent caricaturist, a little-known feature of his life: “Raul Pompéia, every day, drew charges, which were exhibited at Café Londres and Confeitaria Cailteau, on Rua do Ouvidor”.[xxxviii] His style acquired “great qualities of clarity and penetration. In the midst of material and moral disorder, exposed to the influx of contradictory feelings, dominated by the diathesis of political fanaticism, Raul Pompéia still wrote. But, he was lost to art.”[xxxix]

Dates from February 1893 his famous Letter to the author of the National Festivities, a preface he wrote for Rodrigo Otávio's book, National Festivities, and which can be read as a testament to Raul Pompéia's political thinking.[xl] As the writer from Alagoas, Lêdo Ivo, observed, “In the preface letter to the first edition of the book National Festivities by Rodrigo Otávio, published in 1893, his ideas [of Pompéia] are summarized, which ensure him an exceptional place among the pioneers of our political and economic nationalism and place him among those who thought about Brazil and reflected on the challenge of its emancipation.”[xi] But the preface had been considered too radical: “Criticized even by nationalists like Araripe Júnior, for the excessively xenophobic tone in a book aimed mainly at school readers, Rodrigo Otávio decided to soften the tone of the second edition, removing the preface from Pompéia, which he didn't even let his guard down. In an attitude very much his own, he had the preface edited on a plaque [a little book] that he had distributed through the streets and among his republican fighting companions.”[xliii]

When the Armada Revolt finally broke out, on September 6, 1893, there was Raul Pompéia involved up to his neck in the defense of the government: “Events exalted writers and journalists more, exposed to the toxins of hatred. On the 7th of September there was a civic rally, next to the statue of José Bonifácio, in Largo de São Francisco. Speaker: Raul Pompeia. He was in the middle of his speech when an aside in the crowd said that they should ask the government for arms. The fuse was fulminating. To Itamaraty! With the orator at their head, the crowd ran along Rua Larga de São Joaquim. Marshal [Floriano] heard and accepted the solidarity, which had Raul Pompéia as interpreter. From the palace they proceeded to the army headquarters, receiving weapons, enlisting for the fight. This fight was one of those that would trigger the greatest shocks in the public spirit. For a year and a half, the Brazilians fought each other more cruelly, tearing each other to pieces.”[xiii] Pompeii was one of those enthusiasts of patriotic battalions, of which the Tiradentes was the most famous. Let us remember that Major Quaresma, from Lima Barreto's novel, had enlisted in one of these battalions...

In March 1894, the Revolt of the Navy was quelled: “Floriano had won the fight against Custódio de Melo and had come out of it greatly strengthened. Everyone recognized him as a determined ruler: the press, Parliament, public opinion acclaimed him as the hero who had prevented the collapse of institutions.”[xiv] That same month, on the first day, there were elections for the presidency, senate and chamber. On June 22, Congress recognized the victory of Prudente de Moraes from São Paulo, who was due to take office on November 15 of that same year. “From August onwards, rumors circulated that Floriano would not inaugurate Prudente: sought after by Lauro Sodré, who had supported the São Paulo candidacy, Floriano says that he does not like the victorious candidate and 'despite several of his friends wanting the dictatorship, he was willing to leave the government on November 15'. After all, on November 15, 1894, without the presence of Floriano Peixoto, the first civilian president is sworn in as president.”[xlv]

Prudente de Morais' four-year period was as tumultuous as that of his predecessor: “With the departure of Floriano, the Jacobins also feel disenfranchised from power and begin to view the new ruler with hostility”.[xlv] It was they, the Jacobins, who were at the forefront of Florianism: “Influenced by Jacobinism from the French Revolution, these groups supported theses that brought them closer to the positivist military; generally enlightened, thus sharing the same demands as the military. Influential with public opinion, since, in addition to civil servants, they gathered journalists, intellectuals and retailers, they understood the change of regime as a solution to their achievements as citizens. This approximation of the civil Jacobinism of the Florianistas of the barracks created the bases for the appearance of the first political movement, more or less organized, that was constituted in the Republic. They committed themselves to defending the government of Marshal Floriano and did not hesitate to choose him as a symbol of national greatness. After Floriano left the government, and even after his premature death, Florianismo continued to agitate the republic, even participating in coup attempts.”[xlv]

It was in parliament, through the actions of some deputies; in the press, with the newspapers The Jacobin, The National, The Bomb, The Republic, between others; in the clubs and, finally, in the meetings, the group that stood out the most in the Brazilian political scene between 1893 and 1897. In her study of the subject, historian Suely Robles de Queiroz examines the trajectory of this political group and the symbiosis that was created between it and the president Floriano Peixoto, especially after the outbreak of the Revolta da Armada: “the incendiary tone of the speeches was the distinctive feature of the meetings Jacobins, as well as the marches that ended them and in which the participants were incited to radical actions, which resulted in physical aggression, destruction of private individuals, jamming of newspapers.”[xlviii]

By this time, Raul Pompéia had become one of the main figures of Florianist Jacobinism. He had received the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, in addition to having been appointed by Floriano Peixoto himself to the position of director of the National Library. He devoted himself with fervor to the post of “agitator” in the Clube dos Jacobinos in Rio de Janeiro: “He established something like a link between intellectuals and activist Jacobins, convincingly asserting his nationalism through the press and in the meetings of incendiary speeches.”[xlix] There were hopes on the part of many Jacobins in a possible return of the marshal to power, so the agitation remained and inflamed with each measure that the new president took.

In an edition of the newspaper The time, the writer-tribune is quoted in these terms: “The day before yesterday, at the 'Centro Republicano Radical da Lagoa', in front of a chosen and very distinguished auditorium, his second conference was held by the illustrious and notable public writer, Dr. Raul Pompéia, one of the most beautiful and honest political organizations in the Republic.”[l] The conference revolved around the subjects dear to Pompeii; nationalization of commerce, youth education, public opinion and industrialization of the country.

The death of Floriano Peixoto, on June 29, 1895, transformed the former president and a true cult object. At first, the blow was immense in the Florianista hosts. The marshal's funeral processes turned into a kind of apotheotic civic ceremony: “The corpse was transferred to the Argentine square, in São Cristóvão, where Doctor Costa Ferraz embalmed it. As soon as this was done, with great pomp, the remains went to the Cruz dos Militares Church. There, for the space of four days, they were disposed to the pity of the multitudes, in parade. Formidable emotion dominated the spirits. The transfer, on foot, to the São João Batista cemetery was an apotheosis. The transfer was followed by hundreds of cars, carrying the flowers that were obtained everywhere and wreaths of all sizes. Florianism took on mystical expressions.”[li] Until that moment, no one could have imagined the size of the marshal's popularity: “Just the passage of the coffin through Rua do Ouvidor attracted around 30 thousand people, a considerable number for the time. The city watched in mourning as the procession arrived at the cemetery. Never had such a crowded funeral been attended. It was, without a doubt, the most emotional and participatory funeral procession attended in Rio, rivaling only that of Getúlio Vargas, in a different Rio than that of the end of the XNUMXth century.”[liiii]

Floriano's body was provisionally deposited in the chapel of the necropolis of São João Batista. The government had committed to building a mausoleum in the form of a monument, for the final burial, which took place in September of that year. Meanwhile, Raul Pompéia “continued his nervous campaign against the Portuguese and against Prudente de Moraes in cafes, pastry shops and theaters. Finally, in September, when the marble tomb was ready, the government decided to proceed with a solemn burial.”[iii] In addition to the President of the Republic, several authorities were present at the ceremony. As was to be expected, after the definitive burial, speeches exploded, one more inflamed than the other and, not infrequently, hostile to the government entourage and to the president himself. Among the speakers, Raul Pompéia. The ceremony devolved into a brawl; the Jacobins and the police cavalry clashed in the streets beside the cemetery. The newspapers, already on the following day, closed the agenda in condemning the behavior of the ex-president's supporters. Raul Pompéia had been dismissed as Director of the National Library and “has admitted the act of his resignation with strong spirit.”[book]

Pompéia had his name quoted in some newspapers as one of the verbal aggressors who spoke at Floriano Peixoto's burial ceremony. She came to the press to report what had actually happened. In an article published in the “Free Section”, of the newspaper the country, with the title 'Evil Cry', the writer countered “the false comments with which they [the newspapers] have slandered the words that, on the occasion, I uttered”. He maintained that it was “absolutely false that he had uttered the slightest word of personal offense to any authority of the Republic” and that his speech “completely excluded personalities and dealt with theoretical policy propositions, loyally and frankly displayed, as is my custom and attentive listening by the main characters present, in the immense assembly – until the last sentence.”[lv]

Jacobinism did not retreat, even after the death of its main idol. Raul Pompéia remained firm in the trenches, although, as Camil Capaz demonstrated, “he absolutely did not want an eternal dictator in power. He was betting on the policy of consolidating the Republic, he wanted the education and politicization of the people, united around a Nationalist Party, with a program to encourage industry and with the transfer of commercial activities to the hands of Brazilians. These were the coordinates that he continued to preach even after the president was replaced, through the press, rallies and indoor conferences, as he considered them essential for the good of the country.”[lv]

Around that time, the writer participated in the undertaking that resulted in the founding of a newspaper, The National, along with historian Aníbal Mascarenhas and other Jacobin militants. It was thought, based on this newspaper, to agitate a program for the founding of the Nationalist Party, with a “red, xenophobic and oppositionist program.” On the pages ofThe National, Pompéia would remain firm in the propaganda of the doctrines: “With Marshal Floriano dead, he had courage and tenacity left to maintain an attitude of resistance to the snares that surrounded him.”[lviii] The press insisted on the subject of the riots that occurred during Floriano's burial. And it was in this storm that a wound in Raul Pompéia's soul, never healed, was once again stirred up with a red-hot iron. Three days after the publication of 'Clamor Malignant', Olavo Bilac, under the pseudonym Fantasio, publishes a sarcastic chronicle portraying the Jacobins, whom he compares to the Hydra, a mythological entity that, “abandoned on Ouvidor Street, where it was difficult for him to move his seven heads at will in the midst of a compact crowd – now decided to change his field of action for cemeteries.”[lviii]

But it was on the pages of the monarchist newspaper Commerce in Sao Paulo, that the also former companion of Raul Pompéia, Luiz Murat, at the end of a series of three texts against the Jacobins, would end up triggering the great crisis.[lix] In the article 'A Crazy in the Cemetery', the name of Raul Pompéia appears vilified because of that speech given at Floriano's funeral ceremony. The memory of the almost duel with Olavo Bilac, revived in a dishonest way, deeply hurt the writer: “In which country did Mr. Does Raul Pompéia think we are? What the hell republic do you want? Does he perhaps want the blood regimen to be prolonged? But only those who have the strong will and courage to take a shotgun and go to the streets to defend the interests of the Fatherland can aspire to such a regime. But S. Sa., who even lacked the courage to repel a most serious insult, in the middle of Rua do Ouvidor, who lacked the courage, after ordering his godparents to come to an understanding with the offender, to measure up with him , at the moment when those were about to give the signal for combat, and who, instead of fighting in retaliation for his honor, seriously compromised, throws himself into the opponent's arms, in tears, forgetting the affront..."[lx]

Eloy Pontes and Camil Capaz, in their biographies dedicated to Raul Pompéia, show, with support from several sources, that Luiz Murat's article had devastating consequences on the already quite tormented psyche of the author ofThe Athenaeum: “Only in early December [1895] would the novelist become aware of the article. The news had a devastating effect, throwing him violently into the deep end. What would his acquaintances think of his silence, for a month, without a response worthy of the aggression?”[lxi]

Pompéia, extremely shaken from the nerves, had started a collaboration for the newspaper The news, where he would write solely about literature. In a note, the newspaper announced “the collaboration of one of our most distinguished men of letters, who wishes to hide his name, the articles not even being signed with a pseudonym or initials. The Plan for this collaboration is very interesting: each article will be a literary foreshortening of a remarkable book; the first literary foreshortening is about a work by Tolstoy.”[lxii]

The article about Tolstoy appeared in the issue of December 12, 1895, which unfortunately does not appear in the archives of the National Library's digital newspaper library; Nor did I find it among the press texts that make up the volumes organized by Afrânio Coutinho da Complete Works of Raul Pompéia. A few days later, the writer sends a new article about the book Galilee, by Pierre Loti: “For whatever reason, the newspaper delayed its publication. The most banal fact had an unforeseen influence on the mood of Pompeii. Ever since he'd seen Luiz Murat's article, he hadn't been calmer. He felt dishonored everywhere. At home, sometimes, he left the silence and the overwhelming sadness, to the appeals of the sisters, to exclaim, hands in space – I am dishonored! I am disgraced!” […] Raul Pompéia's confidants claimed that he repeated for days that 'either he killed' the author of the aggressive article, 'or he killed himself'. As the second article was not published immediately, soon after the revised proofs were returned, he saw in fact the triumphant general conspiracy. Why? Just because he was dishonored, with Luiz Murat's article.”[lxiii]

Seeing enemies on all sides, sick with nerves, too jealous of his own honor, feeling abandoned and mocked after an outrageous article written in a monarchist newspaper in São Paulo, “the delay in publishing the text would be the last straw to triggering a deep depressive crisis in Pompeii, further increasing the inner confusion in which he was plunged.”[lxiv] On the Christmas morning of December 25, 1895, the writer wrote a note addressed to the newspaper that had delayed the publication of his article:The news. I fulfill the duty to inform you that, since the second article of my collaboration has not been published, which is accepted on benevolent terms, I consider this acceptance to be without effect and thank you for the insertion of the first one – December 25, 1895 – Raul Pompéia.”[lxv] Around 13 pm he went back to his office to draft another note: “At News and to Brazil I declare that I am a man of honor.” He stretched out on the chaise longue and shot himself through the heart.

The news of the writer's death at the age of 32, even more so under these circumstances, caused an enormous commotion in the “Republic of Letters”. The newspapers, in addition to reporting the fact, brought attempts to explain it. Some columnists attempted analyzes based on psychiatric theories at the time, based on books such as crime and madness (1874), for example, by the English psychiatrist Henry Maudsley, a very popular author at the time. A very expressive case of these lucubrations was the article written by the literary journalist Alves de Faria: “There is a destiny for men that their ancestors have made for them, says Maudsley, proving the hereditary alienation through the transmission of blood. Did Raul Pompéia have disorganized men, passionate madmen, accident criminals, monomaniacs or alcoholics in his family? I don't know, but I foresee this downward gradation of organic vices stopping at Pompeii who commits suicide.”[lxvi]

Eloy Pontes himself tried some explanations for the tragedy, through a kind of genealogy of Raul Pompéia's temperament: “Aggressive and delicate, full of unconditional enthusiasm and inflexible aversions, brusque and extremely gentle, at the same time, with crises of mysticism, mixing If he had a kind of repressed sensuality, he would have, for the acts of life, a conduct capable of justifying the ignoble hypotheses raised about him by coarse observers.”[lxv]

What is certain is that the political intoxication of that period had contaminated the writer, especially after the Revolta da Armada, ending up catalyzing all his psychic complexity. When he tried to return to literature, it was too late. His last text, which for trivial reasons ended up not being published on the set date, would come out the day after his death, following a desolate article by his friend from the Faculty of Law, Oliveira Rocha, “Rochinha”, director of the newspaper The news.[lxviii]

*Alexandre Juliete Rosa holds a master's degree in Brazilian literature from the Institute of Brazilian Studies at the University of São Paulo (IEB-USP).


[I] This tale was originally published in early 1898 – January 15th and 31st; February 28th; March 15th and 30th – in the literary supplement of the newspaper The station, and had the title “Relógio Parado”. Comparing the original publication with the final composition prepared for the collection, some changes can be observed, such as the character's name, which was Maria Rita, in 1898, and became Maria Cora in 1906. The changes, however, do not alter substantively the story, as far as I could see, because the digital copy of March 30th is not in the newspaper library. I leave here the link to the January 15 edition, for those who are interested:


[ii] José Brito Broca. “Political Journalism”. In: Machado de Assis and politics plus other studies. São Paulo: Editora Polis, 1983, p. 27. The text was originally published on August 24, 1952 in the literary supplement 'Letras e Artes', of the newspaper Tomorrow, from Rio de Janeiro.

[iii] Much of the information I bring here comes from the text “Astrojildo Pereira, reader of Machado de Assis”, written by professor Sílvia Maria Azevedo and published in the magazine New directions, in the second half of 2021. Link to access the file:


[iv] Astrojildo Pereira. “Machado de Assis, novelist of the Second Empire”. In: Machado de Assis. São Paulo: Astrojildo Pereira Foundation / Boitempo, 2022, p. 38-9. The first version of the essay was published in Brazil Magazine, in June 1939, volume dedicated to the centenary of the birth of Machado de Assis.

[v] Astrojildo Pereira. Op cit., p. 57.

[vi] José Brito Broca. “Batista and Dona Claudia”. Op cit., p. 76.

[vii] John Gledson. Machado de Assis: Fiction and History. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1986, p. 203.

[viii] Ditto, p. 205.

[ix] Machado published chronicles in the section The Week, from the newspaper News Gazette, between 1892 and 1897. He usually made comments about the past week, hence the name of the column: “For about five years I have been telling you here on Sundays what goes through my mind, regarding the week just ended and even without any purpose. ” – wrote Machado in his farewell chronicle – “It seems time to rest my so much. Whether the rest is short or long, I cannot say; I will stretch these tired limbs and nap my nap.” the chronicles of The Week are available from the link:


I leave here a direct link to the last chronicle of the series in News Gazette, for those who are curious: http://memoria.bn.br/DocReader/docreader.aspx?bib=103730_03&pasta=ano%20189&pesq=&pagfis=15839

[X] John Gledson. "Introduction". In: Machado de Assis. The Week – chronicles (1892 – 1893). São Paulo: Hucitec, 1996, p. 11. The episode that determined the newspaper's censorship occurred after the publication of a chronicle by Ferreira de Araújo [director of the Gazeta], on November 27, 1893. Here is the link to the text:


[xi] José Brito Broca. “A Machado’s Political Week”. Op cit., p. 183.

[xii] John Gledson. "Introduction". In: Machado de Assis. The Week – chronicles (1892 – 1893). São Paulo: Hucitec, 1996, p. 33-4.

[xiii] John Gledson. "Introduction". In: Machado de Assis. The Week – chronicles (1892 – 1893). São Paulo: Hucitec, 1996, p. 15. The state of siege was instituted under Decree No. 791, of April 10, 1892. According to Edgard Carone: “Under the pretext of homage to Deodoro, the opposition seeks to unleash a revolutionary movement, but an incident disturbs the initial intentions: it is the sudden illness of the Generalissimo [as Deodoro was called], causing him not to attend the rally held in his honor. Not knowing what was going on, the crowd began to flock to Largo da Lapa after 18 pm; soon after, Lieutenant-Colonel Mena Barreto asks that the homage be postponed because of Deodoro's worsening health. Shouts and applause are addressed to him, and 'die to tyranny', to Floriano. JJ Seabra, Pardal Mallet, Clímaco Barbosa and others make speeches in favor of the Generalissimo. The crowd then heads to Morro de Santo Antônio, Rua do Ouvidor, Campo de Aclamação and, finally, to the Itamarati Palace [seat of the presidency]. Insults and threats are uttered against the government, the 7th BI [Infantry Battalion] is acclaimed (in vain) and the exalted are arrested by Army troops. Upon learning of the fact, Floriano Peixoto goes, in plain clothes, to Itamarati; as he approaches the palace, he sees the crowd and Lieutenant Colonel Mena Barreto giving a speech. He sneaks up and orders his arrest: he, without blinking, goes to the Ministry of War, where he surrenders. Civilians and soldiers disperse. That same night, Floriano wrote a decree, dated the 10th, in which he declared a state of siege for the Federal District and suspended individual guarantees for 72 hours, 'because the crime of sedition had been committed, citizens leaving to depose the head of the Federal government…" (The Old Republic II – political evolution. Rio de Janeiro / São Paulo: DIFEL, 1977, p. 93-4.)

[xiv] Astrojildo Pereira. “Criticism and Social Policy”. Op cit., p. 96-7.

[xv] I wrote a little about the impacts of the Revolta da Armada on the life of teenager Lima Barreto. The text is available from the link: https://aterraeredonda.com.br/triste-fim-de-policarpo-quaresma/

[xvi] Lucia Miguel Pereira. Machado de Assis: critical and biographical study. Belo Horizonte: Itatiaia, 1988, p. 208. The first edition of this book is from 1936.

[xvii] Olavo Bilac. "Threshold". In: Chronicles and Novels (1893 – 1894). Rio de Janeiro. Cunha & Irmão Editores, 1894, p. 10. The book can be read from the link:


[xviii] Antonio Dimas. BILAC, the Journalist - Essay. São Paulo: Official Press / Edusp / Editora Unicamp, 2002, p. 45.

[xx] Eloy Bridges. The restless life of Raul Pompéia. Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio Editora, 1935, p. 89. Some anthological texts published by Pompéia in the Çà Ira!, like “Mrs. slaveholders”, “Çà Wrath!” (Newspaper Program Article) and “About Slavery” were collected in the book Raul Pompéia – Political writings. Complete Works of Raul Pompéia, Vol. 5, organized by Afrânio Coutinho. Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian Civilization, pp. 59 to 85.

[xx] Angela Alonso. Flowers, votes and bullets – the Brazilian abolitionist movement (1868–88). São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2015, p. 138.

[xxx] Eloy Bridges. Op cit., p. 104.

[xxiii] Ditto, p. 105.

[xxiii] Angela Alonso. Op cit., p. 313.

[xxv] Camil Capable. Raul Pompéia – Biography. Rio de Janeiro: Gryphus, 2001, p. 168-9.

[xxiv] Eloy Bridges. Op cit., p. 49.

[xxv] Idem. The cited excerpts can be found on pages 238, 242, 252, 253, 255, 277 and 288.

[xxviii] Raul Pompéia (who signed under the pseudonym “Y”). “Memories of the Week – Newsletter from Jornal do Comércio”. Commerce Newspaper, Rio de Janeiro, March 7, 1892, p. 1. Link to access the text:


[xxviii] Eloy Bridges. Op cit., p. 241.

[xxix] Antonio Dimas. BILAC, the Journalist - Essay. São Paulo: Official Press / Edusp / Editora Unicamp, 2002, p. 43.

[xxx] Olavo Bilac (Pierrot). “Fluminense Life”. The Combat, Rio de Janeiro, March 8, 1892, p. 1. Link to access the text:


[xxxii] According to Antonio Dimas, the chronicle really belongs to Olavo Bilac. It is the only one selected by the scholar, from those published inThe Combat, under the pseudonym Pierrot, which appears in the anthology BILAC, the journalist – Chronicles, Volume 2. São Paulo: Official Press / Edusp / Editora Unicamp, 2002, pp. 71-3.

[xxxi] Excerpt from the inaugural editorial of The street, Rio de Janeiro, April 13, 1889. Quoted by Antonio Dimas in the book BILAC, the Journalist - Essay, p. 38.

[xxxii] Eloy Bridges. Op cit., p. 242.

[xxxv] Raul Pompéia (“Y”). “Memories of the Week – Newsletter from Jornal do Comércio”. Commerce Newspaper, Rio de Janeiro, March 15, 1892, p. 1. Link to access the text:


[xxxiv] Eloy Bridges. Op cit., p. 243-4.

[xxxiv] Ditto, p. 249.

[xxxviii] Ditto, p. 256.

[xxxviii] Ditto, p. 258.

[xxxix] Ditto, p. 259.

[xl] Both Menu by Raul Pompeia, as well as the book by Rodrigo Otávio, can be read from the link:


[xi] Ledo Ivo. The poetic universe of Raul Pompéia. Campinas: Editora da Unicamp, 2013, p. 23.

[xliii] Camil Capable. Op cit., p. 211.

[xiii] Eloy Bridges. Op cit., p. 257.

[xiv] Suely Robles Reis de Queiroz. The Radicals of the Republic. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1986, p. 27.

[xlv] Edgard Carone. The Old Republic II – political evolution. Rio de Janeiro / São Paulo: DIFEL, 1977, p. 148.

[xlv] Suely Robles Reis de Queiroz. Op cit., p. 31.

[xlv] Lincoln by Abreu Penna. Why are we Florianistas? Rio de Janeiro: E-papers Editora, 2002, p. 24-5.

[xlviii] Suely Robles Reis de Queiroz. Op cit., p. 81.

[xlix] Ditto, p. 115.

[l] “Republican Conferences”. The time, Rio de Janeiro, May 22, 1894, p. 1. Link to access the article:


[li] Eloy Bridges. Op cit., p. 269.

[liiii] Lincoln by Abreu Penna. Op cit., p. 85.

[iii] Eloy Bridges. Op cit., p. 270.

[book] Ditto, p. 272.

[lv] Raul Pompeia. 'Evil outcry'. the country, Rio de Janeiro, October 03, 1895, p. 4. Link to access the article:


[lv] Camil Capable. Op cit., p. 228.

[lviii] Eloy Bridges. Op cit., p. 274.

[lviii] Olavo Bilac (Fantasio). 'The Hydra Change”. News Gazette, Rio de Janeiro, October 06, 1895, p. 1. Link to access the text:


[lix] The first of these articles is entitled 'The Jacobin Hate', dated October 10, 1895, and can be accessed from the link:


The second, 'The Despair of Terror', is from October 13th, and can be read from the link:


[lx] Louis Murat. 'A madman in the cemetery'. Commerce in Sao Paulo, São Paulo, October 16, 1895. Link to access the text:


[lxi] Camil Capable. Op cit., p. 239.

[lxii] The news, Rio de Janeiro, December 4-5, 1895, p. 1. Link to access the note:


[lxiii] Eloy Bridges. Op cit., P. 283 and 285.

[lxiv] Camil Capable. Op cit., p. 240.

[lxv] Eloy Bridges. Op cit., p. 285.

[lxvi] Faria Alves. "From the Capital". Commerce of Sao Paulo, December 31, 1895, p. 01. Link to access the article:


[lxv] Eloy Bridges. "History of a Temperament". In: The restless life of Raul Pompéia, P. 336.

[lxviii] Link to edit The news, dated December 26, 1895:


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