of  1787

by Alfredo de Mello


          Caetano Victorino de Faria, a Brahmin Christian, born in Colvale, in the north of Bardez district, just on the south bank of the river Chapora, devoted himself to ecclesiastical studies when young.  After taking lesser orders, he married Rosa de Sousa, daughter of Alexandre de Sousa, nicknamed Concro, a rich man, of course of Brahmin origin, in the village of Candolim in the south-west of Bardez near the sea..


          It is the custom in India for the bride to enter into the family of the groom, but in the present case, since the bride was an only daughter, it was Caetano Victorino who went to live in the house of his father-in-law. Maybe this exception to the rule gave rise to the dissensions and unsavoury quarrels that followed. Rosa, as an only daughter, and heiress of a great fortune, brought up with the indulgence characteristic of these two attributes, was haughty, with a dominating character, and could not reconcile herself to life of a married woman, submitting herself to the power of her husband, as was the hallowed custom, and this gave rise to perpetual domestic agitation. Caetano Victorino was evidently a man of strong character, clever and ambitious, because any other lesser man would have been glad to marry a rich woman, sole heiress, and his role would be only to procreate and have a good life.


          The tribulations that poor Alexandre de Sousa suffered during six years, without being able to bring about marital peace, mined his health until he died. As there was no successor, nor hope of his daughter bearing a child, he willed one third of his inheritance in favour of two nephews, sons of his brother Manoel de Souza, whose male descendants were known in the eighteenth century with the common name of Concros.


          After seven years' marriage, and exactly ten months after the death of her father, Rosa gave birth on the 30th May 1756 to a son, who was called Jose Custodio Faria. He was baptized on the 7th June, as per birth certificate appearing in Document 49, fol 123: "On the seventh June 1756, I, friar Manuel de Jesus e Maria with the permission of M.R. Father Fr. Manuel deAssumpcao, rector of this church Our Lady of Hope of Candolim, baptized, and put the holy oils to Joseph Custodio, born since eight days, son of Caetano Victorino de Faria, and Rosa de Sousa. The godfathers were father Joao Simôes,living in Sirola and Celestina Maria Luiza de Souza, who lives in this parish." signed:  Fr.- Manoel de Jesus Maria.


          The birth of the son did not bring about a truce between the parents, who, in common accord, decided to separate, and Caetano Victorino became a priest, whilst Rosa de Sousa went to the convent of Santa Monica of Goa, where she became a nun.


          In 1771, Father Caetano Victorino decided to take his son to Europe and both father and son sailed on the 21st February 1771 on the ship "S. Jose", on a long but felicitous voyage sailing around the Cape of Good Hope, and arriving in Lisbon on the 23rd November 1771.


          During this voyage, he struck up a friendship with the former Secretary of State in India, Henrique Jose de Mendanha, who, incidentally, was recalled and headed for prison in Limoeiro by order of His Majesty, for the blame of the unsuccessful attempt in the conquest of Piro, against Tippu Sultan, in the year 1768. The friendship which he made with this judge and other letters of recommendation which he carried to the Kingdom, opened the way for Caetano Victorino Faria to acquaint himself with the principal people in the Court of Lisbon; but during conversations with father Fr.Francisco, the Poet, the latter recommended him to abstain himself from these acquaintances, and that he should take a different course, which the disgraced Mendanha also approved. It must be borne in mind that although King Jose I reigned, the real ruler was the famous Marquis of Pombal, Prime Minister.


          Faria was recommended to the father master Fr. Joao Baptistade S. Caetano, a Benedictine, who listened to him, and after a chat of four hours in the Convent of Estrela, the latter decided to help this priest in his plans, in view of the fact that caution was needed in such a delicate matter in the Court. As a result, Fr.Joao Baptista talked to the Nuncio, and informed favourably regarding Father Caetano Victorino Faria and his son Jose Custodio.


          What were father Caetano Faria's plans in Lisbon, and especially in Rome, are not known in the documents available today, but it is certain that the letters he wrote to Goa by the first monsoon (1) after his arrival in Lisbon, dated 1st February 1772, and addressed to the Pintos of Candolim, he declared that he was about to travel to Genoa, on the way to Rome, taking along letters of recommendation of the Nuncio in Lisbon to the Cardinal, Secretary of State of the Vatican, and other dignitaries of the Vatican, as well as special instructions; all were made with great caution and secrecy.


          The other channel of introduction of Caetano V. Faria with the Grandees was through the Counts of S. Vicente, whose son Miguel Carlos da Cunha had arrived in Goa as a military officer in the year 1756. In fact, he had gone to India under the name Miguel Carlos de Tavora, and after this surname was made extinct by law, he adopted the name of da Cunha, which also belonged to his family. This military officer had married a lady of poor means, but as a compensation, besides a grant from the royal Treasury, the Government had given him the coconut grove of Sinquerim, which had belonged to the Jesuits - who were expelled in 1759 by Marquis of Pombal, with their property seized by the State - but Miguel Carlos was prodigal and a great squanderer.  With his salary plus the above mentioned revenues, he could not maintain his family, and he was obliged to resort to the generosity and alms of the Pintos of Candolim, who were close friends and neighbours of Father Faria. The latter did not miss the opportunity to mention to the Count that his son and family were practically guests of Antonio Joao Pinto. The Count was much obliged and willing to extend his influence and favour, upon which offer, Father Faria delivered to the Court a petition in the name of Mr. Ignacio Pinto for being appointed General Treasurer of the Bulla da Cruzada, which appointment indeed materialized. All these details are known by a letter dated first of February 1772 sent by Caetano Victorino Faria to the aforementioned friend in Candolim, Antonio Joao Pinto. (2)


          Incidentally Miguel Carlos da Cunha became eventually a Lieutenant Colonel and died in 1813, as governor of the fortress of Cabo de Rama, in south Goa. There were many sarcastic and humourous anecdotes about him; his extravagancies and ravings were the gossip of Goan society for decades.


          Both Farias, father and son went to Rome in 1772, where the older studied for his doctorate and returned to Lisbon. He left his son Jose Custodio to enter the College of Propaganda Fide, under the sponsorship of Portugal's King Jose I.  Whilst Father Caetano Victorino became the doyen of the Goan community in Lisbon, and gave help and recommendations to the influential people in Court in favour of his countrymen, the son Jose Custodio finished his course of Theology in 1780, after having become a priest. In gratitude, he intended to dedicate his Thesis to King Jose his patron, but since this King had passed away, he dedicated it to the Queen Maria I and D. Pedro III. (3)


          Upon his return to Lisbon, Jose Custodio Faria was invited to preach in the royal chapel.  After climbing the pulpit and facing the Queen, the King, and the distinguished Court, young Faria started stammering timidly, but his ever watchful father, hidden underneath the pulpit, uttered the Konkani injunction "KATOR RE BHAJI" , which nobody else understood except young Faria. His father ordered him to "snipe away with the scissor the bhaji vegetable", thereby meaning:" Go ahead, don't be afraid, you know more than the whole congregation". With this adrenalinic vocal shot from his father, Jose Custodio delivered an eloquent sermon which was much appreciated and applauded.


          Wily Father Caetano exaggerated his importance in Lisbon to his countrymen, by leaking to his friends the Pintos of Candolim in Goa, that he was the confessor of the Queen, but this seems to be a bluff, even though this title appears in the Great Portuguese-Brazilian Encyclopaedia; however, this is rebutted in the document N§ 31 of the book of J.H.da Cunha Rivara, where the author quotes a letter from Inocencio Francisco da Silva addressed to Mr. Jacinto Caetano Barreto Miranda: "I don't think it possible to say truthfully that father Caetano Victorino was ever confessor of the Queen D. Maria I; in the year 1757 in which by decree of the 19th September, the Jesuits were expelled from the Court...the following confessors were chosen for the crown princess D. Maria and the infantas her sisters, viz Father Dr. Jose Pereira de Santa Ana... until his death on 31st January 1759. In February, the confessor chosen was Dr.Fr. Ignacio de S. Caetano...who continued until his death at age 69 on 29th November 1788, directing always the conscience of theQueen. He was suceeeded by D. Jose Maria de Mello, ...bishop of Algarve, and it was during his ministry that the Queen became mad...Therefore in the interval between 1757 and 1794, it is not possible to put Caetano Victorino as confessor of the Queen." (4)


          Between the years 1780 and 1785 several Goans had gone to Lisbon, and logically all flocked to the house of Fr. Caetano Victorino Faria, who was the unofficial ambassador of his fellow countrymen, inasmuch as he had managed to have some influence in the Court.


          Father Caetano Francisco do Couto, a Goan who had been governor of the bishopric of Cochin, had been fired by the Portuguese bishop Fr. Manoel de Santa Catharina. The former sailed to Lisbon in the year 1781, complaining about the bishop and seeking promotions.


          Another father Jose Antonio Goncalves, professor of philosophy in the seminary of Chorƒo, appointed there by the aforementioned bishop of Cochin, who was also governor of the archbishopric of Goa, had also been dismissed. Embittered and discontented with the bishop, he too sailed to Portugal in the year 1781; and in order to ascend the ladder of hierarchy in priesthood, he took a degree of doctor in Rome, in the year 1782.


These disgruntled priests gathered in the house of Caetano Victorino Faria and his son Jose Custodio. Other Goans, including Jose Antonio Pinto of Candolim, who was a student, and two Vicente brothers, one student in the navy, by name of Joaquim Antonio, joined in these social gatherings.  Living together, it was natural to talk about things going on in Goa, and from these debates there arose the first idea of an uprising in Goa, which would drive the Portuguese out of the Government of the State, and thus conferring the high posts of running the State to native Goans, especially to those of the Brahmin caste, to which they all belonged. It seems that father Caetano Francisco do Couto and Jose Antonio Goncalves aspired to be promoted to bishops which were then vacant in the Padroado of India, namely in Craganore, Meliapur and Malacca.


          At this time there were in Lisbon two Catanar clergymen, of the Syrian-chaldean rites in Malabar, originally founded by the Apostle St. Thomas, the "unbeliever" who had migrated to India around A.D. 43. To this day these congregations are known as the Syrian Christians and they proliferate precisely on the southern coast of Malabar. The new Christianity brought along in the sixteenth century, by the Catholic Portuguese was trying to dominate these Catanar sects, and caused a schism. Although the lands and ports were no longer under Portuguese suzerainty, the Padroado granted by the Pope to Portugal in Asia, still continued in the sphere of religion.


          These two Catanar priests managed to get in the good graces of the Queen D. Maria I who protected them, and also the benevolence of Pope Pius VI, and in common accord among the two sovereigns, lay and religious, father Jose Cariate was elected and confirmed as Archbishop of Craganore.


          This promotion, the first of its kind, was ill received by the two Goan fathers, who being of the Latin church, reputed themselves as much more worthy than the Malabar Syriac to occupy the head of the Craganore See. They complained to the Secretary of State, Martinho de Mello e Castro, who listened to them and counselled them to return to Goa, in the certainty that the Archbishop of Goa, their superior, would grant them promotions according to their merits. The two Goan priests complained bitterly to the Secretary of State about the contempt with which the Portuguese treated them in Goa, and suggested that, instead of sending Portuguese officials from Lisbon, the administration of the government as well as military and ecclesiastical jobs be given to the native Goans, who were educated enough. In this manner, Portugal would get the best advantages from the State of India, and only thus would it be opulent and happy.


          This"paradoxical utopia" (Cunha Rivara dixit) could not be envisioned by the Government in Lisbon, and such pernicious ideas fomented by these priests deserved only indifference and contempt. During the government of Marquis of Pombal, the rights of citizenship of native Goans were reaffirmed and specifically declared equal to those of the Portuguese from the Metropolis. The Secretary of State detected that these priests were primarily interested in becoming bishops, but not in Portugal, as they were only interested in serving in India.


          The two priests Jose Antonio Gonsalves and Caetano Francisco do Couto returned to India sailing in April 1785 in the fleet of the three ships "Senhor Jesus Resuscitado", "Santa Zeferina" and "Princeza do Brazil", which arrived in Goa on the 1st of May 1786. Father Gonsalves landed in Ceylon, and only travelled to Goa by the beginning of 1787.


          A conspiracy was being schemed among a few Goans, and here there were links with Joseph Francois Dupleix, French Governor of Pondicherry and the Nawab Tippu Sultan, ruler of Mysore. Dupleix was married to a lady born in Goa, and known in history as Jan-Begum. Her real name was Joana Albert, daughter of Isabel Rosa de Castro and a French doctor J. d'Albert, and granddaughter of a Portuguese Tome Rodrigues de Castro and whose mother was Indian. Joana de Castro, married to Dupleix, was a great collaborator of her husband in the Government of Pondicherry and other French settlements in India. Her proficiency in the languages of the country were of immense help to Dupleix in his confidential negotiations with the native princes, and Tippu Sultan in particular. (5)


          Tippu Sultan had sent three envoys to France to establish links with King Louis XVI in Versailles, ostensibly to establish a commercial treaty.   Dupleix had in mind to conquer the island of Goa with the aid of Tippu Sultan, who would keep for himself all the other territory of Goa adjacent to the islands of Goa. If this project had taken shape, it is doubtful if it would serve the interests of the Goan conspirators, as no doubt Dupleix and Tippu Sultan would have the upper hand, and would leave the conspirators stranded. The conquest of Goa was dreamed by the French . The Government of Goa had no inkling of any subversive element within Goa, but feared the plans of the French and therefore sought diplomacy by means of cordial correspondence between the Governor Francisco da Cunha e Menezes with Colonel de Montigni in September/October 1787 who was the French diplomat in Poona, the seat of the Mahratta kingdom. (6)


          However, these projects did not enter seriously in the thoughts of the French government of Versailles, which had more weighty problems to deal with at home, Instead, Dupleix was recompensed by being made Marquis, and decorated with the "cordon rouge".


          Tippu Sultan, however, kept in mind the invasion and conquest of Goa, but other urgent matters, distracted him from this conquest, due to his skirmishes with the English and other Indian princes.


          During 1787 in Goa, the Portuguese Governor had plenty of grave problems to deal with: on the one hand the declared war against Bounsulo in the north of Goa, a perpetual enemy and bad neighbour. On the other hand, the fear of invasion on the part of Tippu Sultan who had conquered the lands of Canara and Sunda, up to the fortress of Piro on the southern frontier, lost in 1768. The King of Sunda, despoiled of his domains, sought refuge in Goa under the Portuguese flag. \


          It was between the 31st July and the 5th August that the Governor came to learn from different sources and places, that a conspiracy was brewing and would take place on August 10, 1787. On the 31st July, father Pedro Caetano Lobo, of Bastora, vicar of Tivim, and two other Goan clerygmen had revealed to the now Archbishop Fr. Manoel de Santa Catharina, what was going to happen. On the 5th August, the notary of Aldona in Bardez, Antonio Eugenio Toscano reported to the Governor that some clergymen were trying to excite the natives to rebel and expel the whites. This denunciation was not taken seriously by the Governor, but on the same evening, the commander of the legion of Bardez, Manoel Godinho de Mira, accompanied by lieutenant Nicolao Luiz da Costa came to inform about the impending revolt, disclosing the names of the rebels.  Consequently orders were given in secret on August 6 to apprehend the subversive heads and accomplices.


          The leaders of this revolt, nipped in the bud, were none other than the two disgruntled priests Jose Antonio Goncalves from Piedade, and Caetano Francisco do Couto, from Pangim. Father Goncalves got wind of the police action and managed to flee from Goa, disguised, and ending his life exiled in Calcutta.


          Eight other conspirators managed to get away to the Mahratta land, among whom were the three Noronha brothers, one of them Ignacio, a priest who fled to Bombay, three other priests Pedro Fernandes, Diogo Caetano do Couto, and Jose Manoel Ribeiro, and two military petty officers, Gerardo Ferreira and Pedro Sousa of the legion of Ponda.


          A total of fortyseven people were imprisoned, of which fourteen were priests, including the chief rebel Father Caetano Francisco do Couto and Joao Baptista Pinto, twelve soldiers, among which one captain, four lieutenants, and the rest corporals. Among the latter was Manoel Caetano Pinto, of Candolim, lieutenant of the Ponda legion, his cousin Manoel Pinto of Saligao, a civilian. One sole Hindu Narba Naique, the Dessai of Ponda, was made prisoner.


          It is intriguing to note that this conspiracy is commonly known in Goa as the Revolt of the Pintos, when only three Pintos were involved, and one of them was declared innocent. Later, by a letter intercepted by the authorities, addressed to his brother father Joao Baptista Pinto already jailed, it was discovered that the student in Lisbon, Jose Antonio Pinto was also involved, as he declared his intention to serve in the army of Tippu Sultan. Lt. Ignacio Caetano Toscano of the legion of Bardez was evidently the brother of the notary Antonio Eugenio Toscano who denounced the conspiracy to the Portuguese GovernorFrancisco da Cunha Menezes, 79th Governor of the "Estado da India". 


          The news about this conspiracy reached Lisbon only on July 21,1788 by the mail sent through the ship "Nossa Senhora da Arrabida", and the Secretary of State Martinho de Mello, imparted instructions to proceed with the law, and the sentences imposed by the court in Goa. According to the confessions, the conspirators aimed at subtracting the whole State from the subjection, obedience and government of Her Majesty, destroy the State and found a new republic, in which the government would be composed of Goan natives. Couto and other priests invoked that it was the will of God, and that they had dispense of the Pope. [While I am writing this chapter, taking as basis the book of Cunha Rivara, a Portuguese civil servant , I do believe that this was the first attempt at independence from Portugal, just two years before the French Revolution of 1789.]


          Of the fortyseven, fifteen were hanged on December 13, 1788, mutilated and decapitated, three served life sentences in the galleys of Angola; two were sentenced to ten years' prison in Mozambique, five sentenced for life in the galleys of Goa, and eight were absolved, found innocent, and freed, including Manoel Pinto of Saligao, the Hindu Narba Naique, Dessai of Ponda, and Dr. Manoel Francisco Gonsalves, brother of the fugitive Fr. Jose Antonio Gonsalves.


          The Governor knowing full well how embarrassing it would be to pass judgement on the priests involved in the conspiracy, had them sent to the Kingdom in Lisbon, as prisoners, who sailed from Goa on March 29, 1789 in the ship "S. Luis de Santa Magdalena."


          In 1802, the vicar of Ponda, Manoel da Expectacao was declared innocent and returned to Goa.


           After eighteen years in prison eight priests were freed and sent back to Goa, already forgotten by their countrymen. Father Caetano Francisco do Couto, the ringleader, feigned lunacy when he was interrogated and was sent to the convent of S. Francisco da Cidade, for medical surveillance, and finally interned in the Tower of S. Juliao da Barra.


          Thus petered out the conspiracy of 1787.


          However, the judiciary procedures gave circumstantial evidence that father Caetano Victorino Faria, the patron of the Goans in Lisbon, was a partner and had known all the plans of the conspiracy, and when the Secretary of State learnt about the details of the conspiracy in July 1788, he ordered some Goans residing in Lisbon to be apprehended, but it was too late. Jose Antonio Pinto, the two Vicente brothers and Jose Custodio Faria, son of Caetano Victorino had fled to France, to go back to India overland, and Jose Antonio Pinto had mentioned to some of his friends in Lisbon, that in France they would meet the ambassadors of Tippu Sultan in Versailles, as mentioned before in this narrative. Nothing came of it.(2).




 regarding the failed "Putsch" of 1787 (May 1996)


          The foregoing chapter is a resume of the only official account of the Conspiracy of 1787, written down by a Portuguese bureaucrat, serving as Secretary of the Governor in Goa, J.H. da Cunha Rivara and printed in Goa in 1875. There were no written accounts of this episode, by Goan authors, except for a servile confirmation of the original book "A CONJURACAO DE 1787 EM GOA", written by J. Ismael Gracias in his "Oriente PortuguLs" in 1908.


          When, just five years ago, I learnt for the first time about this Revolt taking place two years before the momentous French Revolution, the book of Cunha Rivara seemed to contain blatant inconsistencies. The ferment of Revolution against the ruling European monarchies was very much ingrained among educated layers of the colonial empires, ever since the American Revolution of 1776, which shed off the yoke of the British colonial rule in America, much to the annoyance of King George III. Could it not be that this was a real attempt by the Goan elite to achieve self-government and independence from the Metropolis, just as the thirteen colonies comprising New England had achieved eleven years before ? I simply could not believe that the events, causes motives and reasons were those portrayed by Cunha Rivara.


          It was therefore a pleasant surprise recently to get hold of a typewritten essay in Portuguese, penned by a Goan, Carmo de Noronha, voicing a different version of the events of 1787 which I had suspected all along. This postcriptum written almost five years after the foregoing chapter was written, merit therefore the term "palimpsest". This word means "Paper, parchment, etc prepared for writing on and wiping out again, like a slate" and " a parchment, etc which has been written upon twice; the original writing having been rubbed out". For the sake of the record, I do not wish to wipe out the contents of Cunha Rivara's book dated 1875. Simply now, in 1996, I wish to do a revision literally, a second seeing, giving an entirely new perspective of the episode of the year 1787.


          Cunha Rivara instead of being a true historian, was only an obsequious clerk, toeing the official line, and dismissing or down-playing the real motives of the revolutionary leaders, the intellectual Fr. Caetano Francisco Couto, and the erudite professor of the College of Chorao, Fr.Jose Antonio Goncalves, by claiming that these two priests staged this uprising, out of spite, just because they were not appointed bishops... The bottom line was that three fellow Goan "quislings", betrayed the rebels. The whole book of Cunha Rivara reminds me of the scribes rewriting history in George Orwell's epic novel "1984" or the well-known re-writing of "Who-is-who" in the history of Stalin's Soviet Union, thus creating umpteen "Non-persons" who officially had never existed.


          In the year 1640, after eighty years of being under the rule of the three Philips of Spain, it was only natural that the Portuguese should rebel against foreign rule.


          Granted that Albuquerque freed the Hindu Goans from the Muslim rule of Adil Shah in 1510. But in view of the lapse of History, and of the world developments - the American Revolution of 1776, and the simmering of pre-French Revolution - was it not natural that the enlightened Goans, after 277 years of ineffectual, decadent and arbitrary rule of Portugal, should rebel against the powers-that-be, and achieve self-government, which is precisely what the two leaders specifically stated to the Portuguese Secretary of State in Lisbon, and which the reader will find underlined in Cunha Rivara's meticulous account?

          Fathers Goncalves and Couto returned to Goa from Lisbon disillusioned; ensconced in the Couto household in Fontainhas, in the historical "Travessa do Rego" street, they set their minds to execute the fantastic (but not unrealistic) plan to get rid of the Portuguese, make Goa an independent and sovereign State, with its own army, its parliament, its own laws.


          Why should Cunha Rivara label these motives as a "paradoxical utopia" and "such pernicious ideas" ? There is always a latent and noble human aspiration to be free and lord of one's destiny.


          Unfortunately Cunha Rivara, ninety odd years after the fateful events, showered ridicule on the noble impulse of the Goan people. And he could pontificate on the matter, on hindsight, because there were three Goan Judases who betrayed: namely, Antonio Eugenio Toscano, a scribe from Aldona, brother of the co-conspirator Lt. Toscano, Lt. Nicolau da Costa, another sycophant of the Ponda Legion, and the priest from Bastora, Caetano Jose Lobo. These traitors to Goan freedom in 1787, tattletaled to their respective authorities five days before the Revolt was scheduled to take place.


          Carmo de Noronha (descendant of the three Noronhas who participated in the revolt ?) states that a military subversion among the native troops would have been the first in all India against foreigners and forerunner of the French Revolution. Noronha advances the notion that the leaders of this Revolt would follow with a kind of Holy War (Jihad in moorish parlance) through the priests and vicars, preaching the gospel of freedom, from the pulpits.


          History is written by the conquerors, or would-be paladins of the "status quo". Cunha Rivara bends over backwards to belittle the caliber of leaders Gonsalves and Couto. Father Caetano Francisco Couto, in view of his high intellectual and pastoral qualities, had been appointed Governor of the bishopric of Cochin, by the Archbishop D. Francisco de Assuncao e Brito, but he was demoted from the post by the Governor of the bishopric of Goa, Fr. D. Manuel de Santa Catarina, a rabid "reinol", and replaced by one Fr. Jose de Soledade, a dumb friar, intellectually and culturally inferior. Frustrated and disillusioned Fr. Couto sailed to Lisbon, to seek justice. He was accompanied by another Father, much more brilliant and cultured, father Jose Antonio Goncalves, who later, received a "summa cum laude" doctorate in Rome, and his merits were recognized in an eloquent speech delivered by the Holy Office's Fr.Thomas Mamachi.


          Likewise, Cunha Rivara glosses over the punishments meted out to the condemned rebels. All the military men among the rebels were condemned to die by hanging, but the sentence was carried out in a ferocious and unseemly manner: they were taken to the place of hanging, behind the convent of St. Caetano, in Old Goa, tied to horses, and dragged over rough streets, peppered with stones, which tore into their flesh, before they were hanged. Furthermore before the hanging, the hands of the Lieutenants Pedro Gonzaga, Manuel Pinto, the surgeon-general David Viegas, and corporal Caetano da Costa, were cut off, and after hanging, the heads were chopped off, and the bodies quartered, and the blood-dripping heads were exposed on poles, conspicuously in public places, especially in the locations were they were born. Needless to say that such sadistic sentences instilled deep fear among the Goan populace, so that people feared to talk about this aborted revolt.


          Since from all the facts gleaned, it is evident that the Pintos of Candolim, whilst participants, had little to do with this Conspiracy, as ringleaders. Out of the 47 captured, only three were Pintos, and one of them, was absolved and freed. Therefore it is highly suspicious why Cunha Rivara insists on coining the term " he Revolution of the Pintos", and further by including in his book, a detailed family tree of the Pintos.  It would seem that he wanted to gloss over or belittle the role of the real leaders, Couto and Gonsalves, and create a smokescreen in order to minimize the real import of a high-level subversive movement to implant self-rule in Goa.


          The revolt that was nipped in the bud, took place during the period when the 79th Governor of India, Francisco da Cunha Menezes was governing Goa, and soon after, the Portuguese conquered the province of Pernem which became the most northern district of Goa, and in 1791, this Governor annexed Ponda from the king of Sunda, thus beginning the period of the New Conquests (Novas Conquistas). Meanwhile, in the Old Conquests, comprising of Goa island, the district of Bardez, and Salcete the Christianized Goans nursed their hurt feelings in silence, and according to Carmo de Noronha, there prevailed the hostile reaction of "that hibrid and truculent race" of the descendants and mestizos, who displayed their "patriotism" by ill-treating the true Goans. How important this segment of the population was remains an unknown factor to me, considering that in the census of 1950 or thereabouts, there were only around 1100 descendants in Goa. It seems therefore logical that in 1787, the number of "descendants" or mestizos were fewer, unless during this period of 160 odd years, this "hibrid race" emigrated back to the Metropolis, which is unlikely.


          The Goan historian, Fr. Gabriel Saldanha in his "History of Goa" - which is rather the History of the Portuguese in Goa and not of the Goans - written in 1925, also erroneously labels this episode as "Tentativa da Conjuracao dos Pintos", thus contributing in twisting the real historic facts, although he admits that the Conspiracy was planned by Frs Goncalves and Couto, but incongruously labels the failed attempt as the "Revolt of the Pintos". It is really shameful that this Goan historian, who lived in the historic house, in Fontainhas, where this Conspiracy was hatched, should toe the line of the Portuguese chronicler, almost 140 years after, instead of presenting a cool and true appraisal of the historic facts.




          The early life of Abbe Faria is to be found in detail in the previous chapter dealing with the "Conspiracy of 1787". When the news of the aborted revolt reached Lisbon, both Farias - father and son - found it more expedient to flee from Lisbon, and seek refuge in France, early in 1788.


          Jose Custodio Faria remained in France, and he later became famous, and was the talk of the town in Paris. The French Revolution broke out on July 14, 1789.


          There he was, at age 32, witnessing the most world shaking events of the history of the world. The most simple definition of the French Revolution is the downfall of the monarchy, the King, Queen and aristocrats being guillotined, and the establishment of a Republic, with the motto "liberte‚,egalite‚ fraternite". This is an erroneous concept because between 1789 and 1795, there were many ups and downs, undercurrents of different movements, counter-revolutions, a war against republican France by the monarchies of Austria, Prussia and Great Britain.


          Abbe Faria, as Jose Custodio became known in France, is depicted as a revolutionary, heading a battalion against the National Convention.


          Abbe Faria and his father were implicated in the conspiracy of 1787 in Goa. Their aim was to make Goa a republic, which, if it had succeeded, would have been the forerunner of the French Revolution. Yet, Abbe Faria was anti-Republican in France, and on the 10th Vendimiaire ( 2nd October 1795) he sided with the royalist "White Terror" which tried to seize power against the Government of the National Convention, but were crushed by the young general Napoleon Bonaparte on October 5.


          The only explanation can be that the "Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen" decreed on August 26, 1789 by the National Constituent Assembly, had been condemned by the Pope as "impious". Later the Church in France was deprived of its resources, and the Assembly enacted the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, which was rejected by half of the French clergy, thereby causing a schism. As a priest, brought up in Rome, he cast his lot with the royalists, against the "Montagnards and sansculottes". Apparently his religious upbringing superseded his political convictions.


          Little is known about Abbe Faria in Paris until 1792 when his name appears in the Register of Denouncements, as anti-republican, gambler and frequenter of the Palais Royal, and the "salons" of the best French aristocracy.


          When order was established after the 5th October 1795, he was appointed professor of Philosophy in the Academy of Marseilles, where he held his post just for a year. However, he managed to be elected member of the Medical Society of the said city. For lack of philosophic training or for other reasons, he was transferred to the Academy of Nîmes, as an assistant professor. He bore ill this disqualification, and started working earnestly on hypnotic practices. Shortly after, he abandoned the provincial Nimes to return to Paris.


          Franz Anton Mesmer, a Vienese physician, who was impressed by the writings of the Renaissance mystic physician Paracelsus, revised his theories by postulating that a person may act to transmit universal forces to other individuals in the form of "animal magnetism". He had to flee from Austria and went to Paris where he again attracted the antagonism of the medical profession. In 1784 King Louis XVI appointed a committee of scientists and physicians to investigate Mesmer's methods. Among the committee's members were the U.S. inventor Benjamin Franklin and the French chemist Lavoisier, to examine the phenomenon later dubbed "mesmerism".


          Abbe Faria, besides his good relation with the Directory, was friendly with the Marquis Puysegur, one of the disciples of Mesmer, who initiated him in the magnetic practices. Abbe Faria started his lectures in August 1813 in the rue Clichy, Paris. The theoretical presentation of his ideas was heard with annoyance, but the scenes of hypnotism that he performed with the audience, especially with women were astounding. The curiosity increased especially because of the strange figure of Abbe Faria, with a bronze skin, and great height, accentuated by his lean physique, besides the new doctrines which he sustained and the practical demonstrations of hypnotism that he carried out with astounding precision.


          He cleared up the dominant preconcepts and unexpectedly raised the clamour of revolt against the current ideas. For him, there was nothing supernatural about hypnotism. The observation of the cases were made with astounding impartiality, and the result of his experiences were conclusive. The hypnotic sleep, concluded Faria, was obtained by suggestion; there were no special forces of hypnotizers in force; it all depended on the predisposition of the hypnotized.


          His valour manifested itself in the correct vision of the causes of hypnosis, crumbling false interpretations; but the tenacity and courage with which he resisted the religious preconcepts of his epoch were not less noteworthy. The church condemned magnetism. Everything originated from the action of fluids of infernal origins. A French theologian wrote that "somnambulism and magnetism were supernatural and diabolic, anti-Christian, anti-Catholic, and anti-moral".


          Abbe Faria studied the magnetic practices and convinced himself of the inanity of such interpretations. As a priest and believer, he had no doubts about confronting the ires of the theologians of his time, by affirming that there was nothing supernatural in such phenomena and that hypnotic sleep was in the end, a form of suggestion. He became famous as a magnetizer, so much so that he performed his hypnotism in the vaudeville show "Magnetismemanie".


          He did not manage to get a lifetime pension from the State, and thus, beaten by adversity, abandoned by those who at first applauded him, a butt of ridicule, he lived miserably and had to accept a modest job of chaplain of a nunnery, in order to survive. It is then that he wrote his book, expounding the doctrines which immortalized him. In the year 1819 when he died, the first volume of his work was printed "De la cause du sommeil lucide, ou etude de la nature de l'homme, par l'abbe Faria, Brahmine, docteur en Theologie". The second and third volumes were unpublished.

          Years later, the English physician James Braid (1795-1860) studied its phenomena and coined the terms hypnotism and hypnosis. For decades James Braid was recognized as the pioneer investigator of hypnosis, who did much to dispel the superstitious aura surrounding the phenomenon and who gave impetus to the development of the French school of neuro-psychiatry.


          However in 1925, Professor Egas Moniz, neurosurgeon and winner of the Nobel Prize, wrote "O Padre Faria na Historia do Hipnotismo" (Father Faria in the history of hypnotism) overriding the erroneous concept of James Braid being the father and pioneer of hypnotism. The French physiologist and anatomist Alberet Pitres had already dedicated a study to Faria, as also Monsignor Sebastiao Dalgado.


          Abbe Faria and his theory of hypnotism was already referred to in the French magazine MONITEUR of the lst and 5th October 1819, and again in the newspaper L'ORDRE of the 3rd December 1851; references to him were made by H. de Cuvillers "Les Archives de Magnetisme Animal" and Hoffmann's "Oeuvres ComplPtes" published in 1828. Again he was hailed by Burdin & Dubois in their "Hist. Acad. du Magnetisme" published in Paris in 1841.(7)


          The curious personality of Abbe Faria was very much discussed during his lifetime. What impact he had in Paris is substantiated by Chateaubriand presenting him in an extravagant role in his "Memoires d'outre-tombe", and Alexandre Dumas also used his name in his novel "Count of Monte-Cristo", displaying him as a prisoner in the Chateau d'If, and revealing to Edmond Dantes, the existence and secret of the treasures of the island of Monte-Cristo.Thus a just recognition of Abbe Faria (Abade Faria in Portuguese) as the founder and inventor of hypnotism is one of the glories of Goa, and his memory is perpetuated by the statue erected in Panjim in 1945 in the small plaza next to the Palace of Adil Khan.


          Again, in homage of Abbe Faria, Prof. Egas Moniz wrote another paper in 1945, titled "O Abade Faria e o Hipnotismo Científico".



(1) Correspondence between Portugal and India are known, and registered as Book of the Monsoons, through the centuries, because during the monsoon (June-September) ships could not ford the river Mandovi. Thus letters from Portugal were sent to India in September-October, in order to reach Goa before end May, and likewise correspondence from India was mailed in the period December-February, in order to reach Lisbon six months later.


(2)J.H. da Cunha Rivara "A Conjuracao de 1787", page 45


(3) Document N§ 50 J.H. da Cunha Rivara :THEOLOGICAE PROPOSITIONES DE EXISTENTIA DEI, DEO UNO ET DIVINA REVELATIONE sub Augustissimis Auspiciies Fidelissimorum,Regum, Portugalliae et Algarbiorum, MARIAE FRANCISCAE ET PETRI III a Josepho Custodio de Faria, Goano,in Collegio Urbano de Propaganda Fide Alumno , DEFENDENDAE PRAESIDE F. THOMA MARIA CERBONI, Ordinis Praedicatorum Sacrae Theologiae Magistro, & Professore in eodem Collegio., Romae CIC. ICCC. LXXX, Tipis Sac. Congregationis de Propaganda Fide, PRAESIDUM APROBATIONE, MARIAE, FRANCISCAE , ET , PETRO , III Portugalliae, Algarbiorvmque, Regibvs. Fidelissimis Piis. Avgvstis, Pacificis, Potentissimis Christianae, Rei, Ampliclicatoribvs Littteravum. Bonarvumque. Artivm Patronis. Mvnificentissimis Istas. de. Religione. Theses Svae. in Ipsos. Observantiae. Memorisq. Animi Pro. Immortalibvs. beneficiis in .se. Patremqve. Svvm. Conlatis Testimonivm. Sempiternvum, JOSEPHUS. CVSTODIVS . DE FARIA. GOANVS In Conlegio, Vrbano. de Propaganda, Fide Alvmnvs, O.C.Q. L.M:


(4) Document N§ 34 page 52-53. J.H. da Cunha Rivara (ibidem)(5) Prop‚rcia Correia-Afonso de Figueiredo "A Mulher na India Portuguesa".(6) Document N§ 55 J.H. da Cunha Rivara page 135(7) Grande Enciclopedia Portuguesa e Brasileira, p. 919-920

Source:  Memoirs of Goa, Alfredo de Mello (Chapter 18 posted on Goanet)

Artwork:  Dom Martin


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