About Manoel Caetano Pinto
(To a loyal horse)
by MARCOS GOMES CATAO
Hail to thee, fiery white steed Unexcelled the gallantry of thine unsung deed Who nobler than thee, high-spirited charger, More reliable than the stoutest armour. The unmatched fleetness of thy limbs Helped evade the foe catch a glimpse Of thy master they sought to seize Vengefully to torture by slow degrees. In the dead of night thy fluttering mane Trustworthier than a high placed vane And thine eyes with the force of a torch Steered thee safe to the homely porch Day after day thou kindled faith In the betrayed fighter in dire strait Carrying the victuals to hold his strength No matter the ordeal endured no length Thwarting their vigil with alert ears Thru' months that dragged on as years To the day they scented his lair That had driven them to despair That odious day they put him to death And gleefully buried his handsome head Not far, under a plain white Cross Where thou couldst grieve thy loss. Grim reminder too to his sore mother Watching disconsolate atop the balcony They'd relentlessly smother Any kind of dark conspiracy Sublime tha lesson of thy constancy So contrasting with the vile treachery Of who conspired but held not fast In dignity to the very last.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The horse referred to above was depicted in a huge mural in
one of the rooms at my mother's house in Candolim. When children, we were told that, when the CONJURACAO dos PINT OS(PINTO CONSPRACY) was discovered and aborted, Lt. Manoel Caetano Pinto(my maternal great grand uncle, a key conspirator and the horseman on the white horse) fled to the nearby hills and the horse would come back every day, in the dead of night, to fetch food for him. This was, of course, an apocryphal story as Manoel Caetano had no time to flee and was apprehended almost immediately. However, the part referring to the mother and the Cross may hold a grain of truth. As per tradition of the time, in the case of persons condemned for crimes of lese majeste (high treason against the king), on the appointed day of the execution, Manoel Caetano's feet were tied to a horse's tail and the horse was taken all over the city of Old Goa until arriving at the site of execution, where his hands
were cut off and then he was hanged. After death, he was decapitated and the
rest of the body quartered. The hand and parts were then mounted on swords and taken by horsemen to the district capitals and villages of origin of the culprits. There they were impaled on wooden poles for the populace to see what happens to those that try to rise up It is possible, therefore, that his head or some part was buried under the Cross. The Cross must still be there in the curve of the road from the house to the church. It was there in l982 when I last visited Candolim.
The insignia on the epaulettes indicate the rider of the white horse was, in
fact, Lt. Col. Francisco Caetano Pinto (Manoel Caetano's elder brother and my maternal great grand father) who, along with his other brother, Lt.Col. Antonio Caetano Pinto militated in the Peshwa's army in Poona, fighting against the British until the final defeat of the Peshwas at Sholapur in l8l8, when both returned to Goa.
Lt.Col.Francisco Caetano Pinto fought with great valour against the British,
who, nevertheless, awarded him an annual pension of Rs2500/(currency value of l8l8) in recognition of his having saved the life of two British soldiers, Hunter and Morrison, who had been made prisoners by the Mahrattas and were being prepared to be put to death.
Lt. Col. Antonio Caetano Pinto was left for dead on the battlefield but
recovered. The British, his foes on the battlefield, offered him a post in their administration because of his great learning(he had studied in Lisbon, Paris and Rome and was fluent in French and Italian), and his specialized knowledge of agriculture. But he turned down the post, as well as another offered by the Goa Governor as Professor at the newly opened Military Academy in Goa. He dedicated himself to agriculture and was the first to introduce mills for producing sugar from sugar-cane at Saligao.
I have not yet read the books but am told that two British authors spoke of
them :GRANT-DUFF in 'History of the Mahrattas' and WALLACE in 'Memories of India'.
Sadly, the valuable l8th century mural (valuable historically and
artistically, not monetarically) was totally destroyed when the nuns demolished the house to build their present hospital there, though they did preserve the entrance gate with the encrusted coat-of-arms. Fortunately, I have been able to salvage a moth eaten photo of the mural though, being in black and white (colour photography had not yet been invented in the 30s) , much of the majesty has disappeared, specially the fire in the horse's eyes.
I was born in the house and spent time there absorbing the lore and, more
importantly, I hope, the invaluable fighting spirit against occupying outsiders, no matter the colour of their skin.
P.S.For those not conversant with even the barest details of the CONJURACAO
dos PINTOS (PINTO CONSPIRACY), this was a conspiracy conceived by a group of Goan miltary officers and men together with several clergymen, to get rid of the Portuguese from Goa. The plan was for the action to start on l0th August 1777. But, on the morning of the 6th., a certain Antonio Eugenio Toscano, clerk at the Comunidade of Aldona, appeared before the Governor and spilled the beans, giving him full details of the plot. The Governor did not pay heed to the news thinking it a laughable absurdity, probably occasioned by personal animosity. But, in the evening of the same day, a high ranking officer of the LEGIAO de Bardez came to the Governor bringing along a junior officer to confirm the story. While the Governor was still mulling over the matter, the following morning he received from the Archbishop the summary of a sworn deposition by three clerics, attesting to the same. There was thus
little doubt that there was something afoot.
The Governor issued immediate orders for the apprehension of the culprits.
The first to be apprehended was Fr.Caetano Francisco do Couto in Piedade. The apprehension of the others followed.
After being tried, all the military personnel underwent the same execution
process decribed above for Manoel Caetano.All the fifteen clergymen were spared their lives and sent into exile.Some of those were pardoned in later years and returned home..
Though the conspiracy has been named after the PINTOs, possibly because it
was hatched in their house, the brains behind it were two clergymen: Fr.Jose Antonio Goncalves and Caetano Francisco doCouto..
Fr.Caetano Francisco do Couto was extremely intelligent and soon after
becoming a priest, was appointed Governor(sort of intermediary between a vicar- general and a bishop) in Cochin. Due to factors too long and unnecessary to detail here, he went back to Goa, and then to Lisbon. After a little while in Lisbon, he came back to Goa and was involved in the conspiracy. He was apprehended as one of the main instigators of the conspiracy and sent to Lisbon in 1789, landing ultimately in the St.Francis Convent there. It is said that he was seized with episodes of madness attributed by some to an extreme guilt complex as he had been instrumental in providing the most detailed information on the participants of the plot, which led to their detention and subsequent excruciating execution. No one knows for sure what was his ultimate fate. There is no record of his death anywhere, though there were reported contemporary sightings of him in Goa.
Fr.Jose Antonio Goncalves has been described as the most intelligent,
astute, proud and ambitious of the conspirators. .He had a Doctorate in Theology from Rome. He was dining at a friend's home when he got news that all the associates were being rounded up. He swiftly left and made his way to Guirim, and, the following morning to Chorao. From Chorao, through the help of parishioners and friends, travelling through woods, he managed to reach Azarem, with Govt. troops in hot pursuit. Azarem happened to lie in Mahratta territory and thus, out of bounds for the pursuing troops. The local Governor refused to hand him over unless he got orders from Poona.Despite strenuous demarches by the Goa Government, the handover was not forthcoming. This was partly due to the strong PINTO lobby in the Peshwa's court in Poona, who exerted strong pressure to avoid the extradition. But, after the defeat of the Peshwas by the British, the situation changed dramatically and Fr.Goncalves had to disappear from circulation. He eventually turned up in Calcutta where he eked out an existence with emoluments from Masses and proceeds from an English school he had opened there. He died in Calcutta on 1st July 1818.
Thus ended GOA's First War of Independence, nipped in the bud by treachery. Who knows the next one is more successful?
There are two comments to be made on the Conspiracy .I have seen it bandied
about that this conspiracy was somehow linked to the Indian political movement for independence, which is a patent absurdity. In 1780 the British had still not completed their ascendancy over India and were still fighting Tippu Sultan. Even the most exalted Indian historians would admit that the earliest they can optimistically trace some independence political movement would be the Sepoy Mutiny of 1854 almost eighty years later(and many other historians would be loath to admit political overtones to the Mutiny, considering it more of a local manifestation that spread beyond expectations, propelled by rumours of the use of pork fat in the new cartridges)If we are to ascribe any motivations to the conspirators it would more likely be the Principles of the French Revolution.
Secondly, though nationalism might have played a part in the conspiracy,
more mundane considerations were also a motivating factor:Fr.Goncalves harboured strong resentment against the Portuguese because, in spite of holding a Doctorate from Rome(not a common occurrence in the 1770s) he was denied a Bishopric either in Goa or Cochin or Mylapore(these two formed part of the GOA Archdiocese then).and that simmering anger went a long way in stoking the fire of revolt .The military officers too felt they were being discriminated .Manoel Caetano Pinto, for example, should by normal Army standards have been a Captain but was kept as Lieutenant, at 27 years of age..
Finally, as regards the plot itself, it does appear to have been rather
quixotic and not well thought out. The Portuguese had 2600 men in the Infantry and Artillery besides a Regiment of Sepoys which followed their orders. As against this, there were two local regiments(Legiao de Bardez and Legiao de Ponda) comprising a total of 2200 indigenous soldiers. And barely 25-30 officers and men of these regiments were involved! No wonder the Governor's initial rection was one of incredulity.
Jean & Marcos Catao Sun, 11 Jun 2006 22:38:16 -0700