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man, however, would have seen that the days of despotism were past--would have consented to the establishment of a representative government, and found a useful occupation in moderating the various parties in his dominions, and trimming the vessel of the state. Such conduct was not adopted by the feeble Ferdinand. He claimed and nominally enjoyed the absolute authority of his fathers, and left it to his subjects to recover the ground which they had lost by submitting to the Constitution of Cadiz.
That ground might have been recovered with speed and safety. The King had only succeeded to the shadow of despotism. His decrees were issued but not obeyed. His subservient nobles had forfeited their influence. Royal authority would no longer suffice. It required to be backed by an armed force, and was hardly felt beyond the precincts of the Court. The country was falling into a state of disorganization, which, in other circumstances, we should have regarded as the worst of evils ; but on the present occasion it ought to have been and might have been the forerunner of amendment. The feudal, municipal, and provincial authorities lost much of their influence during the French Invasion. Ferdinand was too weak to restore them. And whoever might be vested with nominal power, the substance of it was enjoyed in most places by some useful and active individual to whom his fellow citizens deferred, because they had experienced his ability and virtue. Whether he had protected them against the French, or supplied them with food in their necessities, or taken charge of them during some of the interregnums and junta-governments which they had witnessed, the attachment was strong and honourable, and promised to re-produce the most indispensable requisite to good government, an efficient, a virtuous, and a popular Aristocracy. Such a body might have restored Spain to happiness and rank. The King could not have persevered in overlooking its claims. The Country must havo gradually rallied round its standard. A few foolish rioters at Cadiz and Madrid, as weak, as violent, and as obstinate as the Prince on bis Throne or the Inquisitor on his tribunal, put a sudden end to those_goodly prospects, and once more surrendered Spain to the French.
The author of the Crisis is quite wrong in supposing that the King's refusal to acknowledge the Constitution in 1820, would have led to civil war. On the contrary, it would have completely stifled the Revolution. We have been assured, by a most intelligent eye-witness, that the revolt of the Troops at Cadiz had been completely quelled, and that the people had submitted quietly to the re-establishment of the Royal authority, when Ferdinand acknowledged the Constitution. There is every reason to believe, that he was frightened into acquiescence : and that among the other negative qualities which enter into his composition, the want of personal courage holds a conspicuous place. The Revolation owed every thing to his wretched pusillanimity; and the only consolation for the well-wishers of Spain, was that the Cortes proved as feeble and inefficient as their Captive; failed like him to be the real governors of their country, and left room for the silent growth of that mild Aristocratical power which had taken root under an absolute monarch, and survived amidst a pure Democracy. Before the Duc d'Angouleme had crossed the frontier, the authority of the Cortes did not extend to a distance of fifty miles from Madrid. The Madrid Militia were the only troops upon which they could rely. Alava, and other leading Constitutionalists, acknowledged that the Revolution was disliked by seveneighths of the people; and the Merchants and Madrid-men were its only supporters. Such a system so maintained would have fallen by its own weight. Having felt and disliked both extremes, the nation would have speedily entered upon the middle path. The elements of political improvement were increasing from day to day. The masterbuilder alone was wanting, and the crimes of Spain conferred the office upon a hundred thousand Frenchmen.
The grounds upon which the French Government has rested its claim to the appointment, have been so fully discussed, and are so justly appreciated, that we shall not enter into a consideration of them. The refusal of the Cortes to make those alterations wbich might have averted an invasion, is another fruitful topic which we have no time to discuss. We shall merely remind our readers, in the words of Mr. Canning, that the point of honour was in truth rather individual than national, but the safety put to hazard was assuredly that of the whole nation." Whether the honour of the Constitutionalists has been preserved by the recent contest, is at least a problematical point. Whether the nation sball escape from the ruin to which they bave exposed her, is quite as uncertain, and much more important. Better prophets than our humble selves are at a stand. The very newspapers hardly venture to suppose or to understand, and we shall not presume to “ rush in where” such “ angels fear to tread.” Having pointed out the various opportunities of improve
ment which Spain bas enjoyed and thrown away, we have only to hope that she may make a better use of any future chance. Deep indeed must have been the degradation of a country which has listened for fifteen years to such thrilling invocations, and has answered so feebly to the call. Not one first rate man has appeared in Spain during a period wbich bas been chequered by revolutions, invasions, and civil
So searching have been the efforts of superstition and tyranny, so terrible the success of the Monarch, the Pope, and the Inquisition, that the fairest portion of Europe is inhabited by slaves and drivellers. The Constitutionalists bow the knee to English sages and heroes : but the objects of their idolatry are the objects of our contempt. The Loyalists love their King; but they had not the spirit to deliver bim from a handful of militia. The peasantry are bold, independent, and obstinate: but they have suffered an invader to march from Bayonne to Cadiz without attempting to impede his progress. We sincerely pity this insulted nation, and trust there is no design to take advantage of her weakness.
The necessity of resistance, should such a design be enter. tained, is a point upon wbich the most ardent lover of neutrality and peace could not hesitate to make up his mind, In the war between France and the Cortes, Mr. Canning has conclusively proved that England was not required to take a part. At the same time he explicitly stated, that there was much which our Government would not witness in silence.
“Some gentlemen have blamed me for a want of enthusiasm upon this occasion,--some too, who formerly blamed me for an excess of that quality ; but, though I am charged with not being now sufficiently enthusiastic, I assure them that I do not contemplate the present contest with indifference. Far otherwise. I contemplate, I confess, with fearful anxiety, the peculiar character of the war in which France and Spain are engaged; and the peculiar direction which that character may possibly give to it. "I was, I still am, an enthusiast for national independence; but I am not, I hope I never shall be, an enthusiast in favour of revolution. how fearfully are those two considerations intermingled, in the present contest between France and Spain! This is no war for territory, or for commercial advantages. It is unhappily a war of principle. France has invaded Spain from enmity to her new in. stitutions. Supposing the enterprise of France not to succeed, what is there to prevent Spain from invading France, in return, from hatred of the principle upon which her invasion has been justified ? Looking upon both sides with an impartial eye, I may
avow that I know no equity which should bar the Spaniards from taking such a revenge. But it becomes quite another question whether I should choose to place myself under the necessity of actively contributing to successes, which might inflict on France so terrible a retribution. If I admit that such a retribution by the party first attacked could scarcely be censured as unjust; still the punishment retorted upon the aggressor would be so dreadful, that nothing short of having received direct injury could justify any third power in taking part in it.
“ War between France and Spain (as the Duke of Wellington has said), must always, to a certain degree, partake of the character of a civil war ; a character which palliates, if it does not justify many acts that do not belong to a regular contest between two nations. But why should England voluntarily enter into a cooperation in which she must either take part in such acts, or be constantly rebuking and coercing her allies? If we were at war with France upon any question such as I must again take the liberty of describing by the term “ external” question, we should not think ourselves (I trust no Government of this country would think itself ) justified in employing against France the arms of internal revolution. But what, I again ask, is there to restrain Spain from'such means of defensive retaliation, in a struggle begun by France avowedly from enmity to the internal institutions of Spain? And is it in such a quarrel that we would mix ourselves ? If one of two contending parties poisons the well-springs of national liberty, and the other employs against its adversary the venomed weapons of political fanaticism,-shall we voluntarily and unnecessarily associate ourselves with either, and become responsible for the infliction upon either of such unusual calamities? While I reject, therefore, with disdain, a suggestion which I have somewhere heard of the possibility of our engaging against the Spanish cause; still I do not feel myself called upon to join with Spain in hostilities of such peculiar character as those which she may possibiy retaliate upon France. Not being bound to do so by any obligation expressed or implied, I cannot consent to be a party to a war, in which, if Spain should chance to be successful, the result to France, and through France to all Europe, might in the case supposed, be such as no thinking man can contemplate without dismay; and such as I (for my own part) would not assist in producing, for all the advantages which England could reap from the most successful warfare.” Canning's Speech, P.66.
“ It is perfectly true, as has been argued by more than one honourable Member in this debate, that there is a contest going on in the world, between the spirit of unlimited monarchy, and the spirit of unlimited democracy. Between these two spirits, it may be said, that strife is either openly in action, or covertly at work, throughout the greater portion of Europe. It is true, as has also been argued, that in no former period in history, is there
so close a resemblance to the present, as in that of the Refore mation. So far my honourable and learned friend * and the honourable Baronet † were justified in holding up Queen Elizabeth's reign as an example for our study. The honourable member for Westminster too, has observed that in imitation of Queen Elizabeth's policy, the proper place for this Country, in the present state of the World, is at the head of free nations struggling against arbitrary Power. Sir, undoubtedly there is, as I have admitted, a general resemblance between the two pe.
forasmuch as in both we see a conflict of opinions; and in both, a bond of union growing out of those opinions, which establishes between parts and classes of different nations, a stricter communion than belongs to community of country. It is true, it is, I own I think, a formidable truth,--that in this respect the two periods do resemble each other. But though there is this general similarity, there is one circumstance which mainly distinguishes the present time, from the reign of Elizabeth; and which, though by no means unimportant in itself, has been overlooked by all those to whose arguments I am now referring. Elizabeth was herself amongst the revolters against the authority of the Church of Rome; but we are not amongst those who are engaged in a struggle against the spirit of unlimited Monarchy. We have fought that fight. We have taken our station. We have long ago assumed a character differing altogether from that of those around us. It may have been the duty and the interest of Queen Elizabeth to make common cause with,-to put herself at the head of-those who supported the Reformation : but can it be either our interest or our duty to ally ourselves with Revolution ? Let us be ready to afford refuge to the sufferers of either extreme party ; but it is not surely our policy to become the associate of either. Our situation now is rather what that of Elizabeth would have been, if the Church of England had been, in her time, already completely established, in uncontested supremacy; acknowledged as a legitimate settlement, unassailed and unassailable by Papal Power. Does my honourable and learned friend believe that the policy of Elizabeth would in that case have been the same?
“ Now, our complex constitution is established with so happy a mixture of its elements,-its tempered monarchy and its regulated freedom,--that we have nothing to fear from foreign despotism nothing at home but from capricious change. We have nothing to fear, - unless, distasteful of the blessings which we have earned and of the calm which we enjoy, we let loose again, with rash hand, the elements of our Constitution, and set them once more to fight against each other. In this enviable situation, what have we in common with the struggles which are going on in other
* Sir J. Mackintosh.
+ Sir F. Burdett.