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COUTO, Diogo do

Observações sobre as Principaes Causas da Decadencia dos Portuguezes na Asia, escritas . . em forma de Dialogo, com o titulo de Soldado Pratico . .   With second title p.:  Dialogo do Soldado Pratico Portuguez, . . entre hum Governador novamente eleito, e hum soldado antigo. 


Lisbon, Na Offic. da Acad. Real das Sciencias, 1790.


8vo.  Pp. III-XIV, (1) f., 161 pp.;  110 pp.   Recent quarter calf, spine richly gilt.

First edition of one of the most important Portuguese literary works, referred to by Rodrigues Lapa as "dos livros mais honrados da literatura portuguesa."   Couto lived for many years in Goa, and his work, in which he vigorously criticizes the authorities, is a rich and valuable document because of his first-hand knowledge and of his literary gifts.   The original manuscript was stolen, but the indomitable Couto rewrote it and both versions have survived.   Bell (Portuguese Literature, p. 198) writes, "this dialogue between an old soldier of India, and ex-Governor, and a judge forms a most valuable and interesting indictment of the decadence of Portuguese rule in India, where the thief and rogue escaped scot-free, while the occasional honest man was liable to suffer for their sins, and the sleek soldier in velvet with gold ribbons on his hat had taken the place of the bearded conquistadores."

“It is fortunate that such a work as the Soldado Pratico should have been written by one finely attuned to the bureaucracy . . .  Couto was able to penetrate to the core and reveal the mechanisms by which viceroys and their cohorts actually mulcted inhabitants and crown.   He was able to show that these were not merely grafters on the scale of a subtropical Tammany Hall, but scoundrels on a bolder scale.  One can only admire their ingenuity” (Winius, Black legend of Portuguese India, p. 16).

Pinto de Mattos p. 206.  Azevedo-Samodães 948, "apreciada e pouco vulgar."  Innocêncio II, 156.  Palha 4154, "ouvrage estimé."  Scholberg, Bibliography of Goa & the Portuguese in India, EC14.  De Silva, The Portuguese in Asia, 739, "a valuable contemporary source." 



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