Politician, writer and philosopher
Basílio Teles was born in Porto, in the parish of Massarelos, on 14 February 1856.
After completing his secondary education, he enrolled in the Polytechnic Academy and in 1875 he was admitted to the Porto Medical-Surgical School, which he abandoned due to conflicts with master Antunes Lemos and master Vicente Urbino de Freitas, who was involved in the tragic episode "Tragédia da Rua das Flores" [The Tragedy in Rua das Flores], for attempting to poison the nephews of his wife, Maria das Dores, so he could inherit his father-in-law’s fortune, a wealthy linen merchant.
However, his academic problems had begun earlier. While he was in the third year at the Porto Medical-Surgical School, he was reprimanded by the Principal for having been caught in one of the school’s corridors whispering answers through a crack in a door to one of his colleagues who was sitting the Anatomy exam with Professor Lebre, who happened to be deaf.
After abandoning his university studies, he taught in high schools the subjects of Literature, Philosophy and Sciences, and wrote articles for political and literary newspapers, for e.g., the Intransigente.
He then became involved in political discussions, joined the Republican Party, collaborated with republican newspapers in Porto and Lisbon, joined the Democratic Propaganda Club of the North and the Board of the Republican Party (from 1897 to 1899 and 1909 to 1911) and got involved in the 31 January 1891 Coup. This conspiracy took place in Porto and forced him into exile, leading him to write Do Ultimatum ao 31 de Janeiro, a patriotic and glorifying work on the republican ideals.
Following the amnesty granted, he returned to Portugal and finally left the active political life. However, he never gave up the republican ideals or lost the interest in the activities of his former party fellows.
When the Republican Government was formed in 1910, he refused to accept the Finance Ministry. However, he sent a revolutionary government proposition to Teófilo Braga.
In 1911, he published Ditaduras, a booklet containing a compilation of articles published in the Porto newspaper "A Voz Pública" and received four votes in the election for the 1st Rector of the University of Porto, won by mathematician Francisco Gomes Teixeira.
In 1912, after the fall of the government led by Augusto Vasconcelos, he was invited by the President of the Republic to organize a ministry, but once again declined the invitation, for health reasons, and suggested that the ministry be given to Afonso Costa.
During World War I, he edited several booklets on the conflict, or on issues inspired by the conflict (Na Flandres, O nó dos Balcãs, A França e a guerra de 70, A situação militar europeia, A Inglaterra pacifista, O Imperialismo germânico, among others).
On 15 May 1915, he turned down another political post, the War Ministry.
He lived to write and study. As an active citizen, he always pointed out the faults he found in the unstable republican regime he had always defended.
He was a respected and admired man in intellectual and political circles, despite being a loner. In Matosinhos, where he lived, he socialized with Afonso Cordeiro, Pedro Sousa and, in particular, with Guerra Junqueiro, until he died in Porto on 23 March 1923.
Basílio Teles was a renowned man of his time due to his political intervention, his involvement as a critical publicist of the 1st Republic (1910-1926) and his economic, social, political, historical and philosophical thoughts (focused on the theory of science and the metaphysics of evil).
Some of his works include O Problema Agrícola (1899) [The Agricultural Problem], Estudos Históricos e Económicos (1901) [Economic and Historical Studies], Introdução do Problema do Trabalho Nacional (1902) [Introduction to the Problem of National Labour], Figuras Portuenses [Porto individualities]- a book discovered by his widow and published in 1961 - and Memórias Políticas [Political Memoirs](a posthumous work published in 1969 and prefaced by Costa Dias).
(Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2008)