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wheu the ignorant conceived themselves in possession of political knowledge, the moment their shallow minds had seized upon the notion of the natural equality of mankind, and the sovereignty of the nation;—then it was that the men in power, who had hitherto encouraged the growth of a liberal party, saw the magnitude of the danger to which they had exposed the country.
Their measures to counteract the evil evinced, as it might be expected, the character of the government to which they were accustomed. The inquisitors were let loose upon all suspected of republican principles; and the doctrines of the Constituent Assembly were declared heretical, in the hope of sinking them under the national detestation which that word used to call forth. A persecution of the most atrocious kind was raised against every Frenchman, high or low, literate or unlettered, whom a long residence had rooted to their adopted soil. Informations were encouraged against them by the civil judges, and hardly one escaped imprisonment for alleged republicanism. The tradesmen were spoiled of the savings of many years industry; the men of learning were made to linger in dungeons without friends, without books, without any thing that could minister consolation. We knew one of these victims at Seville—a M. Pierre Henry, a man of the most amiable and primitive simplicity, whose enthusiastic zeal for the propagation of the mathematical sciences had led him to that town, where he engaged to teach them publicly for a salary of less than twenty pounds a year. Two years confinement in a damp and scarcely lighted dungeon doomed him to die, a fortnight after his release, of a dropsy. The unhappy man had but one consolation in his misfortune: he had, though with difficulty, obtained pen, ink and paper, which enabled him to write a treatise on mechanics. Thus perished the man who first revived mathematical knowledge in the south of Spain; the founder of a school which, we believe, still exists, directed and supported by his pupils.
A sudden change in the unsettled policy of the court converted the bigoted, superstitious, persecuting Spain into the faithful ally of the French republic, the supporter of' atheism by establishment.' The principles which the Spanish government had tried to quell by most barbarous measures, were now officially recognized as upheld by a neighbouring nation. Yet, the Inquisition was to oppose their propagation among the Spaniards! Prohibitory edicts were annually issued against French books, which, being every day more greedily read, were too profitable an article of commercial speculation to be shut out of the kingdom. In this state of things, and during the interval between the peace of Basle, and the aggression of Napoleon, Spanish liberalism gained the strength which enabled it to turn the cousequences of that invasion to its own advantage, organize its leading principles into a fundamental law of the kingdom, and raise itself above a king in fetters, which they artfully concealed under the trappings of the constitutional throne. zine, contrive a train from the nearest fire-place, trusting that it will soon remove the nuisance.
From the preceding sketch, our readers will, we hope, be able to form a pretty accurate notion of the character and dispositions of the two parties into which Spain is divided. The bulk of the people are still the same Spaniards who howled ' Long live the Faith!' around the flaming scaffolds of Philip II. Those who began to rally them against the constitution under the name of soldiers of the faith well know their own country. Nor is it from ignorance of the real state of opinion that the opposite party ventured to establish a system in perfect contradiction with whatever is truly national in Spain. The legislators of Cadiz were fully aware that even the tempting offer of sovereignty would be rejected with horror by the people, were it not closely followed by a law which binds the faith, in perpetuity, on the neck of the sovereign nation. It is not, let it be observed, Christianity, not the Bible, but the Catholic, Apostolic, Roman faith, 'which the nation protects by wise and just laws, forbidding the exercise of any other whatever.'* The simple fact of attempting to foist an almost republican constitution upon a nation that will not go one step with reformers, whom, in perfect ignorance of their views, chance and distress placed at ber head, unless they engage to leave her undisturbed in the exercise and enjoyment of its proud religious bigotry, stamps the liberal party with rashness, and shows their utter want of sound practical knowledge on moral and political subjects. An answer has been suggested by the leading Spanish liberals, which betrays the thorough want of judgment which prevailed among them, when they undertook to erect the Spanish monarchy upon a new foundation. 'The constitution,' they say, ' would not have been received without the declaration that there is no true religion but that of Spain, and that, therefore, the exercise of any other worship must be forbidden by law; but have we not contrived the rest of the code so" as to destroy the source of intolerance V In what manner? By making that very intolerance a fundamental law of the state; yet so as to be brought in contact with principles which, from their opposite tendency, must cause an internal struggle, where, by your own admission, the party who awed you then, must naturally obtain the victory! Wise master-builders indeed! who being determined to raise a palace in the vicinity of a gun-powder maga
We would not, however, offend a whole description of men, comprising some for whose talents we feel respect, and some whose mistaken efforts in a cause which bears that most engaging of names—'liberty—we sincerely both admire, and regret. Our sympathy for all who, in a country so long oppressed by an unlimited despotism, lose sight of every object but that of opposing its restoration, provided their zeal be pure, is as real as an intimate and painfully acquired acquaintance with its evils can make it. Yet truth must not be disguised; nor shall we, from a mistaken tenderness suppress our perfect conviction that, as there are not two sorts of beings so differing in their ideas and sentiments as those who, in Spain, bear the names of liberals and serviles, no men are worse fitted to produce a moral and political improvement in the mass of the country than the former. Their knowledge is narrow, superficial, exotic. It has been acquired by stealth, in nooks and corners, under the constant apprehension of danger; a poor crop almost choked with the weeds of spite and anger. The liberals themselves hardjy know what they are agreed upon, except the destruction of whatever opposes certain general view's of the party, whose tendency is to upset the whole structure of the monarchy. The Spanish nation is decidedly against them.
The only measure which for a time swelled their ranks, the only lure which could gain them proselytes, is one so utterly inimical to the peace and existence of all government, that is has shaken the very foundations of the Cortes themselves. We mean the political maxim which, in letters of gold, has been graven to face the throne in the Hall of the National Congress: the pretended axiom from which, as from a geometrical definition, the liberals have, with childish pedantry, deduced the details of the constitution; in a word, the sovereignty of the people; one of those contemptible sophisms, which by the apparent simplicity of their enunciation, and the delusive vista into an unlimited field of knowledge which they present to the mind, are apt to dazzle and delude the ignorant, while, by the prospect of shaking off subordination, they entice and spirit up the vain and the proud.
'The sovereignty resides essentially in the nation:' such are the words of the third article of the Spanish constitution. But what is the meaning of sovereignty in this proposition? The idea of sovereignty is inseparable from that of government: the person or persons, who have the supreme command in a political body, are called the sovereign. The proposition asserts, therefore, that supreme command resides essentially in the nation. Supreme command, over whom? Is the nation its own subject, like
Selkirk Selkirk in his little island? It might be so if this ideal sovereign had but one will: such as he really is, he must reduce some part of himself to obedience. When, by some means or other, subordination is established, a government exists, in whose hands the sovereignty must reside. Hence it is, that a people considered numerically and without a definite political system, cannot possess that essentially which is the very essence of that government which it wants.
Were we not able to detect the verbal fallacy which the proposition involves, the habits and notions of the Spanish reformers would have put us in the way of discovering it. The uncontrolled despotism of the crown, wherever it exists, leads to the habitual association of force with supreme authority. As the autocrat is sovereign because he commands the whole force of the state, sovereignty and that force which resides distributively in every individual and collectively in the nation, have, naturally enough, been confounded. It might certainly be said that the leant of a sovereign power, and the force that supports it, are essentially in the nation. But thus to give the peculiar denomination of a definite object to the occasion and the means of its existence is a strange perversion of language. By the logic of the Spanish legislators we might be authorized to assert that medicine, or the art of healing, resides essentially in the collective body of patients; for physicians exist because the patients want them, and the whole faculty would disappear if their bed-ridden subjects agreed to suspend their fees.
The verbal error once detected, we need only substitute the true expression of the thing designated in the Spanish article by the word sovereignty, and the absurdity of such a declaration, at the head of a political constitution, will stand confessed. It would run thus: Force ' resides essentially in the nation; and the right of enacting its fundamental laws belongs exclusively to it from the same principle.' The Spanish legislators fell, indeed, infinitely short of the true inference. Force, however, cannot originate rights; it gives power only. They should, therefore, have declared, what is unfortunately too true, that as farce resides essentially in the multitude, they have consequently the power of enforcing or destroying laws, supporting or subverting governments, without any conceivable limitation, unless it should arise from an external force more powerful than their own. But we strongly suspect that the qualification of the broad principle contained in the article was not so much a logical inference as a precautionary measure against any inclination of the sovereign to interfere with the Cortes in future; and it is really to be wondered why the exercise of the essential sovereignty did not suffer another
wise curtailment by being declared to exhaust itself in the production of thefirst code of fundamental laws. Such a declaration would give a certain degree of consistency to the opprobrious epithets of factions and traitors which have been lavished on that part of the Spanish sovereign, who are striving to have a fundamental code in conformity with their wishes*
We should, indeed, be trifling with our readers' patience, if, considering the proposition in question as an unmeaning flourish of political pedantry, we stopped to weigh its terms with dialectical precision, in order to expose the strange confusion of ideas which it betrays in its authors. But we have long watched the operation of this assumed principle of government, especially since it was picked up from the bloody dunghill of the French Revolution, as a pearl which could not be allowed to be swept away from the eyes of mankind with the hideous mass into which it was cast at that fearful period. We have observed its workings in Spain and Portugal; we have seen it break out in Italy, marring and blasting, as is its nature, every tender bud of social improvement which might in time have raised the condition of those interesting portions of the European family; and we cannot close our eyes against the proofs which daily crowd before us, of the baneful activity which it exerts over the civilized world, cankering the peace and contentment of millions, perverting their best feelings, and giving a fatal direction to their courage; while, by a natural reaction, it renders imperfect governments suspicious and intractable, urges even the best to harsh and unpopular, measures of security, and makes bleeding and deluded nations turn back their eyes in despondency to the deadly repose of despotism.
A mere spark of practical wisdom would have been sufficient to warn the authors of the constitution from the use of these intoxicating, these maddening doctrines. The proper topics for rousing Spain out of the indolent slumbers of a prolonged degradation were the inherent right of every free people to be governed according to fixed laws; the necessity of re-establishing such institutions as had been devised by their forefathers to balance the powers of the state. Nor were the authors of the Spanish code so blinded by the love of the French theories as to have any excuse in the fulness and vehemence of an erroneous conviction. The report which they made to the Cortes, when the new code was presented to their sanction, is exclusively intended to recommend it as a transcript of the old constitution of Spain! The authors, it appears from that document, were anxious to obviate the charge of innovation. They had, if we believe them, only restored the constitutional laws to their primitive puritv.