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The Alphonsos of Leon might recognize in it the spirit of the charters which had reared the Spanish monarchy from its cradle. The charters, themselves, it is true—those documents which, gave to Europe the example of her free corporate towns, were converted, at Cadiz, into a declaration of sovereignty, of which every individual Spaniard might claim a share: Toledo and the meanest village were, by some strange oversight, placed in the same predicament under the revived laws of the Visi-Goths; the old nobles and the bishops, by a similar accident, lost their weight in the country; and the three chambers of the Castillian, and the four orders of the Aragonese Cortes, were found to mean a mixed assembly to which every seventy thousand fraction of the sovereign may send a representative of any rank, fortune, or condition, to share the address of Majesty with a monarch, whose political relation with the Spaniards the language of the country wants a word to designate, since Fasallos and Subditos, which are equivalent to subjects, have been found unconstitutional.*
The poisonous French drugs thus falsely labelled and passed upon the Spaniards as the wholesome, unadulterated produce of their own country, were instantly detected and spurned by a great part of the nation. Yet, besides the professed liberals, there were not a few who, fearing the misrule of the old system, gave their support to the new, in the hope that practice and experience would improve it. The trial, however, though not sufficiently long to be a fair one, gave strong indications of its unsoundness. The first general election which took place out of the walls of Cadiz produced a Cortes where the constitution itself was in danger of being outvoted. It was preserved, in fact, till the king's arrival from France, by a small majority, supported by the cries and threats of the people who were hired to occupy the galleries. Had Ferdinand's advisers been less eager to revenge themselves on the party who had seized the government in his absence, he might have convened a Cortes which, though returned by the method prescribed by the constitution, would have repealed all the laws of their predecessors, and received the thanks of i.heir constituents. But the impolitic severity of that period, the absurd determination to re-establish the Inquisition, with every abuse of the old system, alarmed the moderate men, who would have rallied round the throne had it not been beset by monks and bigots. The cruel treatment which the leaders of the liberal party were made to endure gained more proselytes to the constitution than all their speeches from the tribune. A rich treasury,
* A formal objection was made by the Cortes to these words; we do not know by what name they have at last agreed to express the subordination of the people to the king.
Vol, xxix. No. I.vH. s however, however, might have propped up the throne in spite of its injustice; a well paid army would not have trucked the decided superiority which they enjoy under a despotic government, for the vulgar honour of being a portion of the rabble-sovereign. But the want of regular pay, and the dreary prospect of a campaign beyond the Atlantic, infected the troops with the liberal notions which caused the revolutions of the Isla; while the inefficiency of the, king's government, and his personal fears, when assailed by a Madrid mob in his palace, gave the constitutional system that renovated power which it has exerted for three years.
The result of this second trial is still more unfavourable than before. The constitution has worked for a considerable time without any let or impediment but those which its authors ought to have reckoned upon when they framed it. During the period of its influence the number of its enemies has wonderfully increased among. the Spaniards. The moderate men of the liberal party soon found themselves, not sovereigns, but slaves of the more active and unprincipled among them. The elections were conducted under the most shameful system of intrigue and intimidation. Popular commotions, now honoured with the ancient name of Asonadas (calls to arms),. became the regular means of forcing the municipal authorities into whatever measures the secret associations of Freemasons had decreed. The schism which, in the natural progress of such a system, broke out among the Liberals, divided them into Freemasons and Comuneros, who> plotting secretly against each other, employed the mob alternately in their service. Ministers were forced upon the king, or dismissed from the cabinet as different lodges found means to hire a strong party of the ruffians who inhabit the Barrios of Madrid. The Cortes, under the cloak of a dignified gravity, tried to conceal their inability to direct the concerns of the kingdom; while by frequent appeals to a powerless,. dependent, and fettered executive—the creature of intrigue and conspiracy, they sheltered themselves from public blame: the provinces, in the mean time, groaned under all the evils of a disorganized administration, the dark plots of the secret societies, and the outrages of the armed parties, both Faithful and Constitutionalists.
The state to which the constitutional system of Spain has reduced that unhappy country is apparent' in the reception which the French armies have met with. The well-known national antipathy, so lately roused to madness by Buonaparte's invasion, has given way to a sense of distress which anarchy had made generaK The same majority of the nation which, a few years since, rushed blind with fury upon the French ranks, has now hailed them as their liberators. The leaders of the constitutional armies are not
- . proof proof against the decided turn of public opinion; and not a trace of the liberal system would be left, by this time, but for the strong places whose walls shelter its friends from their enemies without, and enable them to awe those within.
We should not perform our duty to justice and humanity if wedid not conclude this melancholy, but, to the utmost of our power, faithful picture of Spain, with an earnest entreaty to those whose influence is adequate to the object, not to allow full scope to the revulsion of feeling which, at this moment, is urging the bulk of the Spaniards towards the very reverse of every thing which, in their view, has been disgraced with the name of Liberal. Our heart bleeds when we contemplate a noble, generous, and spirited nation, so long a prey to the grossest ignorance and superstition; so weakened and lowered by the weight of chains worn for ages, now smarting from the unskilful hands of those who pretended to heal her, and ready to fly for relief to the very source of her sufferings—eager to drench herself with a slow poison because she has been convulsed by a quack medicine. Is common sense, are the feelings of the civilized world to be shocked again by the restoration of the Inquisition? Is fresh fuel thus to be cast on the still blazing embers of the civil war which has threatened that country with devastation? There was a time when the mental tyranny exerted by that odious tribunal might be defended on the expediency of preventing the feuds and divisions which often arise from a difference in religious sentiments: but even that poor plea has vanished since the diversity of opinion which it hoped to preclude, has taken place to such a degree as no force is now able .to quell. The only rational policy, at this moment, is that of dividing the interests of the quiet speculative sceptic from those of the political adventurer. If both classes have rallied under the same colours, the Inquisition has to answer for the alliance. Many an honest and moderate Spaniard is still ready to meet poverty, exile, and death itself among the remnants of the Constitutionalists, not because he has adopted all the views of that party, but for fear of the extremities to which he sees the other inclined. He would submit to live under a government who allowed no other worship but the Catholic; but cannot endure a system which places him under the espionage of the Inquisition. He will not, day by day, and year by year, through life, be under the necessity of concealing his books, his thoughts, his feelings. He will work for his bread in a foreign land rather than purchase ease at the expense of the. most abject hypocrisy. Let such as love Christianity, not from party or political motives, consider, on the other hand, that far from stopping the progress of irreligion, the Inquisition has the "- • - s 2 powej power to change that, which in another country might be partial and modest doubt, into the most absolute and positive rejection. Such is the nature of that inflexible and bloody curb which keeps the mind in a narrow path without allowing it to look to the right or left.
With regard to the political measures which might contribute to the re-establishment of peace in the Peninsula, without shutting the door to national improvement, we shall only suggest.the necessity of limiting the power of the crown within clear and definite laws, and securing to the Spaniards their unquestionable right of being taxed by their representatives. The superior nobility and the clergy should be allowed a portion, at least, of that share in the legislature to which they have claims as ancient and as legal as the king to his prerogative. If a legislative body composed of these elements should fail to please some friends of Spain, in other countries, they would do well to consider that that body is to frame laws for the Spaniards not as their wishes would make them, not as that people is often described from specimens nicely selected, but such as they appear at this moment out of the fortified places, which have been found ample enough to embrace all that is Liberal in Spai». .
Page S5, line 8. For ' of the globe,' read ' of this quarter of the globe.'
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