Revolutionary Spain: Karl Marx

A series of articles written about the revolutionary upheaval in Spain during the 19th century, written by Karl Marx for the New York Daily Tribune.

Written: August-November 1854;
First Published: in New-York Daily Tribune, September 9 to December 2, 1854.

The series of articles Revolutionary Spain was written by Marx for the New-York Daily Tribune between August and November 1854. Marx observed all the symptoms of the revolutionary movement in Europe and paid much attention to the revolutionary events in the summer of 1854 in Spain. He held that the revolutionary struggle there could provide a stimulus for the development of the revolutionary movement in other European countries. In 1854, Marx made a thorough study of the events of the Spanish revolutions of the first half of the nineteenth century so as to improve his understanding of the specific character and features of the new Spanish revolution; Marx sent nine articles to the New-York Daily Tribune relating to the first (1808-14), second (1820-23) and partly third (1834-43) Spanish bourgeois revolutions, of which only the first six were published (the articles of September 29 and October 20 were printed in four issues of the newspaper) — thus eight articles in all. The remaining three were not published and the manuscripts have not been found. Only a small fragment from the draft manuscript has survived dealing with the causes that led to the defeat of the second revolution. It is probably part of the eighth article and is reproduced here as Chapter IX.

The articles “Revolutionary Spain” were reproduced in English in 1939 by Lawrence & Wishart Ltd. and International Publishers as Revolution in Spain.

I. Survey of the Revolutionary History of Spain prior to the 19th Century


The revolution in Spain has now so far taken on the appearance of a permanent condition that, as our correspondent at London [A. Pulszky] has informed us, the wealthy and conservative classes have begun to emigrate and to seek security in France. This is not surprising; Spain has never adopted the modern French fashion, so generally in vogue in 1848, of beginning and accomplishing a revolution in three days. Her efforts in that line are complex and more prolonged. Three years seems to be the shortest limit to which she restricts herself, while her revolutionary cycle sometimes expands to nine. Thus her first revolution in the present century extended from 1808 to 1814; the second from 1820 to 1823; and the third from 1834 to 1843. How long the present one will continue, or in what it will result, it is impossible for the keenest politician to foretell; but it is not much to say that there is no other part of Europe, not even Turkey and the Russian war, which offers so profound an interest to the thoughtful observer, as does Spain at this instant.

Insurrectionary risings are as old in Spain as that sway of court favorites against which they are usually directed. Thus in the middle of the fifteenth century the aristocracy revolted against King Juan II and his favorite, Don Alvaro de Luna. In the fifteenth century still more serious commotions took place against King Henry IV and the head of his camatilla, Don Juan de Pacheco, Marquis de Villena. In the seventeenth century the people at Lisbon tore to pieces Vasconcellos, the Sartorius of the Spanish Viceroy in Portugal, as they did at Catalonia with Santa Coloma, the favorite of Philip IV. At the end of the same century, under the reign of Carlos II, the people of Madrid rose against the Queen’s camarilla, composed of the Countess de Berlepsch and the Counts Oropesa and Melgar, who had imposed on all provisions entering the capital an oppressive duty, which they shared among themselves. The people marched to the royal palace, forced the King to appear on the balcony, and himself to denounce the Queen’s camarilla. They then marched to the palaces of the Counts Oropesa and Melgar, plundered them, destroyed them by fire, and tried to lay hold of their owners, who, however, had the good luck to escape, at the cost of perpetual exile. The event which occasioned the insurrectionary rising in the fifteenth century was the treacherous treaty which the favorite of Henry IV, the Marquis de Villena, had concluded with the King of France, according to which Catalonia was to be surrendered to Louis XI. Three centuries later, the treaty of Fontainebleau, concluded on October 27, 1807, by which the favorite of Carlos IV and the minion of his Queen, Don Manuel Godoy, the Prince of Peace, contracted with Bonaparte for the partition of Portugal and the entrance of the French armies into Spain, caused a popular insurrection at Madrid against Godoy, the abdication of Carlos IV, the assumption of the throne by Ferdinand VII, his son, the entrance of the French army into Spain, and the following war of independence. Thus the Spanish war of independence commenced with a popular insurrection against the camarilla, then personified in Don Manuel Godoy, just as the civil war of the fifteenth century commenced with the rising against the camarilla, then personified in the Marquis de Villena. So, too, the revolution of 1854 commenced with the rising against the camarilla, personified in the Count San Luis.

Notwithstanding these ever-recurring insurrections, there has been in Spain, up to the present century, no serious revolution, except the war of the Holy League in the times of Carlos I, or Charles V, as the Germans call him. The immediate pretext, as usual, was then furnished by the clique who, under the auspices of Cardinal Adrian, the Viceroy, himself a Fleming, exasperated the Castilians by their rapacious insolence, by selling the public offices to the highest bidder, and by open traffic in law-suits. The opposition against the Flemish camarilla was only at the surface of the movement. At its bottom was the defense of the liberties of medieval Spain against the encroachments of modern absolutism.

The material basis of the Spanish monarchy having been laid by the, union of Aragon, Castile and Granada, under Ferdinand the Catholic, and Isabella I, Charles I attempted to transform that still feudal monarchy into an absolute one. Simultaneously he attacked the two pillars of Spanish liberty, the Cortes and the Ayuntamientos — the former a modification of the ancient Gothic concilia, and the latter transmitted almost without interruption from the Roman times, the Ayuntamientos exhibiting the mixture of the hereditary and elective character proper to the Roman municipalities. As to municipal self-government, the towns of Italy, of Provence, Northern Gaul, Great Britain, and part of Germany, offer a fair similitude to the then state of the Spanish towns; but neither the French States General, nor the British Parliaments of the Middle Ages, are to be compared with the Spanish Cortes. There were circumstances in the formation of the Spanish kingdom peculiarly favorable to the limitation of royal power. On the one side, small parts of the Peninsula were recovered at a time, and formed into separate kingdoms, during the long struggles with the Arabs. Popular laws and customs were engendered in these struggles. The successive conquests, being principally effected by the nobles, rendered their power excessive, while they diminished the royal power. On the other hand, the inland towns and cities rose to great consequence, from the necessity people found themselves under of residing together in places of strength, as a security against the continual irruptions of the Moors; while the peninsular formation of the country, and constant intercourse with Provence and Italy, created first-rate commercial and maritime cities on the coast. As early as the fourteenth century, the cities formed the most powerful part in the Cortes, which were composed of their representatives, with those of the clergy and the nobility. It is also worthy of remark, that the slow recovery from Moorish dominion through an obstinate struggle of almost eight hundred years, gave the Peninsula, when wholly emancipated, a character altogether different from that of cotemporaneous Europe, Spain finding itself, at the epoch of European resurrection, with the manners of the Goths and the Vandals in the North, and with those of the Arabs in the South.

Charles I having returned from Germany, where the imperial dignity had been bestowed upon him, the Cortes assembled at Valladolid, in order to receive his oath to the ancient laws and to invest him with the crown. Charles, declining to appear, sent commissioners who, he pretended, were to receive the oath of allegiance on the part of the Cortes. The Cortes refused to admit these commissioners to their presence, notifying the monarch that, if he did not appear and swear to the laws of the country, he should never be acknowledged as King of Spain. Charles thereupon yielded; he appeared before the Cortes and took the oath — as historians say, with a very bad grace. The Cortes on this occasion told him: “You must know, Señor, that the King is but the paid servant of the nation.” Such was the beginning of the hostilities between Charles I and the towns. In consequence of his intrigues, numerous insurrections broke out in Castile, the Holy League of Avila was formed, and the united towns convoked the assembly of the Cortes at Tordesillas, whence, on October 20, 1520, a “protest against the abuses” was addressed to the King, in return for which he deprived all the deputies assembled at Tordesillas of their personal rights. Thus civil war had become inevitable; the commoners appealed to arms; their soldiers under the command of Padilla seized the fortress of Torre Lobaton, but were ultimately defeated by superior forces at the battle of Villalar on April 23, 1521. The heads of the principal “conspirators” rolled on the scaffold, and the ancient liberties of Spain disappeared.

Several circumstances conspired in favor of the rising power of absolutism. The want of union between the different provinces deprived their efforts of the necessary strength; but it was, above all, the bitter antagonism between the classes of the nobles and the citizens of the towns which Charles employed for the degradation of both. We have already mentioned that since the fourteenth century the influence of the towns was prominent in the Cortes, and since Ferdinand the Catholic, the Holy Brotherhood (Santa Hermandad) had proved a powerful instrument in the hands of the towns against the Castilian nobles, who accused them of encroachments on their ancient privileges and jurisdiction. The nobility, therefore, were eager to assist Carlos I in his project of suppressing the Holy League. Having crushed their armed resistance, Carlos occupied himself with the reduction of the municipal privileges of the towns, which, rapidly declining in population, wealth and importance, soon lost their influence in the Cortes. Carlos now turned round upon the nobles, who had assisted him in putting down the liberties of the towns, but who themselves retained a considerable political importance. Mutiny in his army for want of pay obliged him, in 1539, to assemble the Cortes, in order to obtain a grant of money. Indignant at the misapplication of former subsidies to operations foreign to the interests of Spain, the Cortes refused all supplies. Carlos dismissed them in a rage; and, the nobles having insisted on a privilege of exemption from taxes, he declared that those who claimed such a right could have no claim to appear in the Cortes, and consequently excluded them from that assembly. This was the death-blow of the Cortes, and their meetings were henceforth reduced to the performance of a mere court ceremony. The third element in the ancient constitution of the Cortes, viz: the clergy, enlisted since Ferdinand the Catholic under the banner of the Inquisition, had long ceased to identify its interests with those of feudal Spain. On the contrary, by the Inquisition, the Church was transformed into the most formidable tool of absolutism.

If after the reign of Carlos I the decline of Spain, both in a political and social aspect, exhibited all those symptoms of inglorious and protracted putrefaction so repulsive in the worst times of the Turkish Empire, under the Emperor at least the ancient liberties were buried in a magnificent tomb. This was the time when Vasco Núñes de Balboa planted the banner of Castile upon the shores of Darien, Cortés in Mexico, and Pizarro in Peru; when Spanish influence reigned supreme in Europe, and the Southern imagination of the Iberians was bewildered with visions of Eldorados, chivalrous adventures, and universal monarchy. Then Spanish liberty disappeared under the clash of arms, showers of gold, and the terrible illuminations of the auto-da-fe.

But how are we to account for the singular phenomenon that, after almost three centuries of a Habsburg dynasty, followed by a Bourbon dynasty — either of them quite sufficient to crush a people — the municipal liberties of Spain more or less survive? that in the very country where of all the feudal states absolute monarchy first arose in its most unmitigated form, centralization has never succeeded in taking root? The answer is not difficult. It was in the sixteenth century that were formed the great monarchies which established themselves everywhere on the downfall of the conflicting feudal classes — the aristocracy and the towns. But in the other great States of Europe absolute monarchy presents itself as a civilizing center, as the initiator of social unity. There it was the laboratory in which the various elements of society were so mixed and worked, as to allow the towns to change the local independence and sovereignty of the Middle Ages for the general rule of the middle classes, and the common sway of civil society. In Spain, on the contrary, while the aristocracy sunk into degradation without losing their worst privilege, the towns lost their medieval power without gaining modern importance.

Since the establishment of absolute monarchy they have vegetated in a state of continuous decay. We have not here to state the circumstances, political or economical, which destroyed Spanish commerce, industry, navigation and agriculture. For the present purpose it is sufficient to simply recall the fact. As the commercial and industrial life of the towns declined, internal exchanges became rare, the mingling of the inhabitants of different provinces less frequent, the means of communication neglected, and the great roads gradually deserted. Thus the local life of Spain, the independence of its provinces and communes, the diversified state of society originally based on the physical configuration of the country, and historically developed by the detached manner in which the several provinces emancipated themselves from the Moorish rule, and formed little independent commonwealths — was now finally strengthened and confirmed by the economical revolution which dried up the sources of national activity. And while the absolute monarchy found in Spain material in its very nature repulsive to centralization, it did all in its power to prevent the growth of common interests arising out of a national division of labor and the multiplicity of internal exchanges — the very basis on which alone a uniform system of administration and the rule of general laws can he created. Thus the absolute monarchy in Spain, bearing but a superficial resemblance to the absolute monarchies of Europe in general, is rather to he ranged in a class with Asiatic forms of government. Spain, like Turkey, remained an agglomeration of mismanaged republics with a nominal sovereign at their head.. Despotism changed character in the different provinces with the arbitrary interpretation of the general laws by viceroys and governors; but despotic as was the government it did not prevent the provinces from subsisting with different laws and customs, different coins, military banners of different colors, and with their respective systems of taxation. The oriental despotism attacks municipal self-government only when opposed to its direct interests, but is very glad to allow those institutions to continue so long as they take off its shoulders the duty of doing something and spare it the trouble of regular administration.

Thus it happened that Napoleon, who, like all his cotemporaries, considered Spain as an inanimate corpse, was fatally surprised at the discovery that when the Spanish State was dead, Spanish society was full of life, and every part of it overflowing with powers of resistance. By the treaty of Fontainebleau he had got his troops to Madrid; by alluring the royal family into an interview at Bayonne he had forced Carlos IV to retract his abdication, and then to make over to him his dominions; and he had intimidated Ferdinand VII into a similar declaration. Carlos IV, his Queen and the Prince of Peace conveyed to Compiègne, Ferdinand VII and his brothers imprisoned in the castle of Valençay, Bonaparte conferred the throne of Spain on his brother Joseph, assembled a Spanish junta at Bayonne, and provided them with one of his ready-made constitutions. Seeing nothing alive in the Spanish monarchy except the miserable dynasty which he had safely locked up, he felt quite sure of this confiscation of Spain. But, only a few days after his coup de main he received the news of an insurrection at Madrid. Murat, it is true, quelled that tumult by killing about 1,000 people; but when this massacre became known, an insurrection broke out in Asturias, and soon afterward embraced the whole monarchy. It is to be remarked that this first spontaneous rising originated with the people, while the “better” classes had quietly submitted to the foreign yoke.

Thus it is that Spain was prepared for her more recent revolutionary career, and launched into the struggles which have marked her development in the present century. The facts and influences we have thus succinctly detailed still act in forming her destinies and directing the impulses of her people. We have presented them as necessary not only to an appreciation of the present crisis, but of all she has done and suffered since the Napoleonic usurpation — a period now of nearly fifty years — not without tragic episodes and heroic efforts, — indeed, one of the most touching and instructive chapters in all modern history.

II. Expulsion of the Bonapartes and Restoration of the Spanish Crown


We have already laid before our readers a survey of the earlier revolutionary history of Spain, as a means of understanding and appreciating the developments which that nation is now offering to the observation of the world. Still more interesting, and perhaps equally valuable as a source of present instruction, is the great national movement that attended the expulsion of the Bonapartes, and restored the Spanish Crown to the family in whose possession it yet remains. But to rightly estimate that movement, with its heroic episodes and memorable exhibition of vitality in a people supposed to be moribund, we must go back to the beginning of the Napoleonic assault on the nation. The efficient cause of the whole was perhaps first stated in the treaty of Tilsit. which was concluded on July 7, 1807, and is said to have received its complement through a secret convention, signed by Prince Kurakin and Talleyrand. It was published in the Madrid Gaceta on August 25, 1812, containing, among other things, the following stipulations:

“Art. I. Russia is to take possession of European Turkey, and to extend her possessions in Asia as far as she may think it convenient.

“Art. II. The Bourbon dynasty in Spain and the house of Braganza in Portugal will cease to reign. Princes of the Bonaparte family will succeed to both of these crowns.”

Supposing this treaty to be authentic, and its authenticity is scarcely disputed, even in the recently published memoirs of King Joseph Bonaparte, it formed the true reason for the French invasion of Spain in 1808, while the Spanish commotions of that time would seem to be linked by secret threads with the destinies of Turkey.

When, consequent upon the Madrid massacre and the transactions at Bayonne, simultaneous insurrections broke out in Asturias, Galicia, Andalusia and Valencia, and a French army occupied Madrid, the four northern fortresses of Pamplona, San Sebastian, Figueras and Barcelona had been seized by Bonaparte under false pretenses; part of the Spanish army had been removed to the island of Fünen, destined for an attack upon Sweden; lastly, all the constituted authorities, military, ecclesiastic, judicial and administrative, as well as the aristocracy, exhorted the people to submit to the foreign intruder. But there was one circumstance to compensate for all the difficulties of the situation. Thanks to Napoleon, the country was rid of its King, its royal family, and its government. Thus the shackles were broken which might else have prevented the Spanish people from displaying their native energies. How little they were able to resist the French under the command of their Kings and under ordinary circumstances, had been proved by the disgraceful campaigns of 1794 and 1795.

Napoleon had summoned the most distinguished persons in Spain to meet him at Bayonne, and to receive from his hands a King and a Constitution. With very few exceptions, they appeared there. On June 7, 1808, King Joseph received at Bayonne a deputation of the grandees of Spain, in whose name the Duke of Infantado, Ferdinand VII’s most intimate friend, addressed him as follows:

“Sire, the grandees of Spain have at all times been celebrated for their loyalty to their Sovereign, and in them your Majesty will now find the same fidelity and adhesion.”

The royal Council of Castile assured poor Joseph that “he was the principal branch of a family destined by Heaven to reign.” Not less abject was the congratulation of the Duke del Parque, at the head of a deputation representing the army. On the following day the same persons published a proclamation, enjoining general submission to the Bonaparte dynasty. On July 7, 1808, the new Constitution was signed by 91 Spaniards of the highest distinction; among them Dukes, Counts and Marquises, as well as several heads of the religious orders. During the discussions on that Constitution, all they found cause to remonstrate against was the repeal of their old privileges and exemptions. The first Ministry and the first royal household of Joseph were the same persons who had formed the ministry and the royal household of Ferdinand VII. Some of the upper classes considered Napoleon as the providential regenerator of Spain; others as the only bulwark against revolution; none believing in the chances of national resistance.

Thus from the very beginning of the Spanish War of Independence the high nobility and the old Administration lost all hold upon the middle classes and upon the people, because of their having deserted them at the commencement of the struggle. On the one side stood the Afrancesados (the Frenchified), and on the other the nation. At Valladolid, Cartagena, Granada, Jaen, San Lucar, Carolina, Ciudad Rodrigo, Cadiz and Valencia, the most prominent members of the old Administration — governors, generals, and other marked personages presumed to be French agents and obstacles to the national movement — fell victims to the infuriated people. Everywhere the existing authorities were displaced. Some months previous to the rising, on March 19, 1808, the popular commotions that had taken place at Madrid, intended to remove from their posts El Choricero (the sausage-maker, a nickname of Godoy) and his obnoxious satellites. This object was now gained on a national scale, and with it the internal revolution was accomplished so far as contemplated by the masses, and as not connected with resistance to the foreign intruder. On the whole, the movement appeared to be directed rather against revolution than for it. National by proclaiming the independence of Spain from France, it was at the same time dynastic by opposing the “beloved” Ferdinand VII to Joseph Bonaparte; reactionary by opposing the old institutions, customs, and laws to the rational innovations of Napoleon; superstitious and fanatical by opposing “holy religion,” against what was called French Atheism, or the destruction of the special privileges of the Roman Church. The priests, terrified by the fate that had fallen upon their brethren in France, fostered the popular passions in the interest of self-preservation.

“The patriotic fire,” says Southey, “flamed higher for this holy oil of superstition.”

All the wars of independence waged against France bear in common the stamp of regeneration, mixed up with reaction; but nowhere to such a degree as in Spain. The King appeared in the imagination of the people in the light of a romantic prince, forcibly abused and locked up by a giant robber. The most fascinating and popular epochs of their past were encircled with the holy and miraculous traditions of the war of the cross against the crescent; and a great portion of the lower classes were accustomed to wear the livery of mendicants and live upon the sanctified patrimony of the Church. A Spanish author, Don José Clemente Carnicero, published in the years 1814 and ’16, the following series of works: Napoleon, the True Don Quixote of Europe; Principal Events of the Glorious Revolution of Spain; The Inquisition Rightly Re-established; it is sufficient to note the titles of these books to understand this one aspect of the Spanish revolution which we meet with in the several manifestoes of the provincial juntas, all of them proclaiming the King, their holy religion, and the country, and some even telling the people that

“their hopes of a better world were at stake, and in very imminent danger.”

However, if the peasantry, the inhabitants of small inland cities, and the numerous army of the mendicants, frocked and unfrocked, all of them deeply imbued with religious and political prejudices, formed the great majority of the national party, it contained on the other hand an active and influential minority which considered the popular rising against the French invasion as the signal given for the political and social regeneration of Spain. This minority was composed of the inhabitants of the seaports, commercial towns, and part of the provincial capitals, where, under the reign of Charles V the material conditions of modern society had developed themselves to a certain degree. They were strengthened by the more cultivated portion of the upper and middle classes, authors, physicians, lawyers, and even priests, for whom the Pyrenees had formed no sufficient barrier against the invasion of the philosophy of the XVIIIth century. As a true manifesto of this faction may be considered the famous memorandum of Jovellanos on the improvements of agriculture and the agrarian law, published in 1795, and drawn up by order of the royal Council of Castile. There was, finally, the youth of the middle classes, such as the students of the University, who had eagerly adopted the aspirations and principles of the French Revolution, and who, for a moment, even expected to see their country regenerated by the assistance of France.

So long as the common defense of the country alone was concerned, the two great elements composing the national party remained in perfect union. Their antagonism did not appear till they met together in the Cortes, on the battleground of a new Constitution there to be drawn up. The revolutionary minority, in order to foment the patriotic spirit of the people, had not hesitated themselves to appeal to the national prejudices of the old popular faith. Favorable to the immediate objects of national resistance, as these tactics might have appeared, they could not fail to prove fatal to this minority when the time had arrived for the conservative interests of the old society to intrench themselves behind these very prejudices and popular passions, with a view of defending themselves against the proper and ulterior plans of the revolutionists.

When Ferdinand left Madrid upon the summons of Bonaparte, he had established a Supreme Junta of government under the Presidency of the Infante Don Antonio. But in May this junta had already disappeared. There existed then no central government, and the insurgent towns formed juntas of their own, presided over by those of the provincial capitals. These provincial juntas constituted, as it were, so many independent governments, each of which set on foot an army of its own. The Junta of Representatives at Oviedo declared that the entire sovereignty had devolved into their hands, proclaimed war against Bonaparte, and sent deputies to England to conclude an armistice. The same was done afterward by the Junta of Seville. It is a curious fact that by the mere force of circumstances these exalted Catholics were driven to an alliance with England, a power which the Spaniards were accustomed to look upon as the incarnation of the most damnable heresy, and little better than the Grand Turk himself. Attacked by French Atheism, they were thrown into the arms of British Protestantism. No wonder that Ferdinand VII, on his return to Spain, declared, in a decree re-establishing the Holy Inquisition, that one of the causes

“that had altered the purity of religion in Spain was the sojourn of foreign troops of different sects, all of them equally infected with hatred against the holy Roman Church.”

The provincial juntas which had so suddenly sprung into life, altogether independent of each other, conceded a certain, but very slight and undefined degree of ascendancy to the Supreme Junta of Seville, that city being regarded as the capital of Spain while Madrid was in the hands of the foreigner. Thus a very anarchical kind of federal government was established, which the shock of opposite interests, local jealousies, and rival influences made a rather bad instrument for bringing unity into the military command, and to combine the operations of a campaign.

The addresses to the people issued by these several juntas, while displaying all the heroic vigor of a people suddenly awakened from a long lethargy and roused by an electric shock into a feverish state of activity, are not free from that pompous exaggeration, that style of mingled buffoonery and bombast, and that redundant grandiloquence which caused Sismondi to put upon Spanish literature the epithet of Oriental. They exhibit no less the childish vanity of the Spanish character, the members of the juntas for instance assuming the title of Highness and loading themselves with gaudy uniforms.

There are two circumstances connected with these juntas — the one showing the low standard of the people at the time of their rising, while the other was detrimental to the progress of the revolution. The juntas were named by general suffrage; but “the very zeal of the lower classes displayed itself in obedience.” They generally elected only their natural superiors, the provincial nobility and gentry backed by clergymen and very few notabilities of the middle class. So conscious were the people of their own weakness that they limited their initiative to forcing the higher classes into resistance against the invader, without pretending to share in the direction of that resistance. At Seville, for instance, “the first thought of the people was that the parochial clergy and the heads of the Convents should assemble to choose the members of the junta.” Thus the juntas were filled with persons chosen on account of their previous station, and very far from being revolutionary leaders. On the other hand, the people when appointing these authorities did not think either of limiting their power or of fixing a term to their duration. The juntas, of course, thought only of extending the one and of perpetuating the other. Thus these first creations of the popular impulse at the commencement of the revolution remained during its whole course as so many dykes against the revolutionary current when threatening to overflow.

On July 20, 1808, when Joseph Bonaparte entered Madrid, 14,000 French, under Generals Dupont and Vedel, were forced by Castaños to lay down their arms at Bailén, and Joseph a few days afterward had to retire from Madrid to Burgos. There were two events besides which greatly encouraged the Spaniards; the one being the expulsion of Lefebvre from Saragossa by General Palafox, and the other the arrival of the army of the Marquis de la Romana, at Coruña, with 7,000 men, who had embarked from the island of Fünen in spite of the French, in order to come to the assistance of their country.

It was after the battle of Bailén that the revolution came to a head, and that part of the high nobility who had accepted the Bonaparte dynasty or wisely kept back, came forward to join the popular cause — an advantage to that cause of a very doubtful character.

III. The Dissensions between the Provincial Juntas


The division of power among the provincial juntas had saved Spain from the first shock of the French invasion under Napoleon, not only by multiplying the resources of the country, but also by putting the invader at a loss for a mark whereat to strike; the French being quite amazed at the discovery that the center of Spanish resistance was nowhere and everywhere. Nevertheless, shortly after the capitulation of Bailén and the evacuation of Madrid by Joseph, the necessity of establishing some kind of central government became generally felt. After the first successes, the dissensions between the provincial juntas had grown so violent that Seville, for instance, was barely prevented by General Castaños from marching against Granada. The French army which, with the exception of the forces under Marshal Bessières, had withdrawn to the line of the Ebro in the greatest confusion, so that, if vigorously harassed, it would then have easily been dispersed, or at least compelled to repass the frontier, was thus allowed to recover and to take up a strong position. But it was, above all, the bloody suppression of the Bilbao insurrection by General Merlin, which evoked a national cry against the jealousies of the juntas and the easy laissez-faire of the commanders. The urgency of combining military movements; the certainty that Napoleon would soon reappear at the head of a victorious army, collected from the banks of the Niemen, the Oder, and the shores of the Baltic; the want of a general authority for concluding treaties of alliance with Great Britain or other foreign powers, and for keeping up the connection with, and receiving tribute from Spanish America; the existence at Burgos of a French central power, and the necessity of setting up altar against altar — all these circumstances conspired to force the Seville junta to resign, however reluctantly, its ill-defined and rather nominal supremacy, and to propose to the several provincial juntas to select each from its own body two deputies, the assembling of whom was to constitute a Central Junta, while the provincial juntas were to remain invested with the internal management of their respective districts, “but under due subordination to the General Government.” Thus the Central Junta, composed of 35 deputies from provincial juntas (34 for the Spanish juntas, and one for the Canary Islands), met at Aranjuez on September 26, 1808, just one day before the potentates of Russia and Germany prostrated themselves before Napoleon at Erfurt.

Under revolutionary, still more than under ordinary circumstances, the destinies of armies reflect the true nature of the civil government. The Central Junta, charged with the expulsion of the invaders from the Spanish soil, was driven by the success of the hostile arms from Madrid to Seville, and from Seville to Cadiz, there to expire ignominiously. Its reign was marked by a disgraceful succession of defeats, by the annihilation of the Spanish armies, and lastly by the dissolution of regular warfare into guerrilla exploits. As said Urquijo, a Spanish nobleman, to Cuesta, the Captain-General of Castile, on April 3, 1808:

“Our Spain is a Gothic edifice, composed of heterogeneous morsels, with as many forces, privileges, legislations, and customs, as there are provinces. There exists in her nothing of what they call public spirit in Europe. These reasons will prevent the establishment of any central power of so solid a structure as to be able to unite our national forces.”

If then, the actual state of Spain at the epoch of the French invasion threw the greatest possible difficulties in the way of creating a revolutionary center, the very composition of the Central Junta incapacitated it from proving a match for the terrible crisis in which the country found itself placed. Being too numerous and too fortuitously mixed for an executive government, they were too few to pretend to the authority of National Convention. The mere fact of their power having been delegated from the provincial juntas rendered them unfit for overcoming the ambitious propensities, the ill will, and the capricious egotism of those bodies. These juntas — the members of which, as we have shown in a former article, were elected on the whole in consideration of the situation they occupied in the old society, rather than of their capacity to inaugurate a new one — sent in their turn to the “Central” Spanish grandees, prelates, titularies of Castile, ancient ministers, high civil and military officials, instead of revolutionary upstarts. At the outset the Spanish revolution failed by its endeavor to remain legitimate and respectable.

The two most marked members of the Central Junta, under whose banners its two great parties ranged themselves, were Floridablanca and Jovellanos, both of them martyrs of Godoy’s persecution, former ministers, valetudinarians, and grown old in the regular and pedantic habits of the procrastinating Spanish regime, the solemn and circumstantial slowness of which had become proverbial even at the time of Bacon, who once exclaimed, “May death reach me from Spain: it will then arrive at a late hour!”

Floridablanca and Jovellanos represented an antagonism, but an antagonism belonging to that part of the eighteenth century which preceded the era of the French Revolution; the former a plebeian bureaucrat, the latter an aristocratic philanthropist; Floridablanca, a partisan and a practicer of the enlightened despotism represented by Pombal, Frederick II and Joseph II; Jovellanos, a “friend of the people”, hoping to raise them to liberty by an anxiously wise succession of economic laws, and by the literary propaganda of generous doctrines; both opposed to the traditions of feudalism, the one by trying to disentangle the monarchical power, the other by seeking to rid civil society of its shackles. The part acted by either in the history of their country corresponded with the diversity of their opinions. Floridablanca ruled supreme as the Prime Minister of Charles III, and his rule grew despotic according to the measure in which he met with resistance. Jovellanos, whose ministerial career under Charles IV was but short-lived, gained his influence over the Spanish people, not as a minister, but as a scholar; not by decrees, but by essays. Floridablanca, when the storm of the times carried him to the head of a revolutionary Government, was an octogenarian, unshaken only in his belief in despotism, and his distrust of popular spontaneity. When delegated to Madrid he left with the Municipality of Murcia a secret protest, declaring that he had only ceded to force and to the fear of popular assassinations, and that he signed this protocol with the express view to prevent King Joseph from ever finding fault with his acceptance of the people’s mandate. Not satisfied with returning to the traditions of his manhood, he retraced such steps of his ministerial past as he now judged to have been too rash. Thus, he who had expelled the Jesuits from Spain was hardly installed in the Central Junta, when he caused it to grant leave for their return “in a private capacity.” If he acknowledged any change to have occurred since his time, it was simply this: that Godoy, who had banished him, and had dispossessed the great Count of Floridablanca of his governmental omnipotence, was now again replaced by that same Count of Floridablanca, and driven out in his turn. This was the man whom the Central Junta chose as its President, and whom its majority recognized as an infallible leader.

Jovellanos, who commanded the influential minority of the Central Junta, had also grown old, and lost much of his energy in a long and painful imprisonment inflicted upon him by Godoy. But even in his best times he was not a man of revolutionary action, but rather a well-intentioned reformer, who, from over-niceness as to the means, would never have dared to accomplish an end. In France, he would perhaps have gone the length of Mounier or Lally-Tollendal, but not a step further. In England, he would have figured as a popular member of the House of Lords. In insurrectionized Spain, he was fit to supply the aspiring youth with ideas, but practically no match even for the servile tenacity of a Floridablanca. Not altogether free from aristocratic prejudices, and therefore with a strong leaning toward the Anglomania of Montesquieu, this fair character seemed to prove that if Spain had exceptionally begot a generalizing mind, she was unable to do it except at the cost of individual energy, which she could only possess for local affairs.

It is true that the Central Junta included a few men — headed by Don Lorenzo Calvo de Rosas, the delegate of Saragossa — who, while adopting the reform views of Jovellanos, spurred on at the same time to revolutionary action. But their numbers were too few and their names too unknown to allow them to push the slow State-coach of the Junta out of the beaten track of Spanish ceremonial.

This power, so clumsily composed, so nervelessly constituted, with such outlived reminiscences at its head, was called upon to accomplish a revolution and to beat Napoleon. If its proclamations were as vigorous as its deeds were weak, it was due to Don Manuel Quintana, a Spanish poet, whom the Junta had the taste to appoint as their secretary and to intrust with the writing of their manifestoes.

Like Calderón’s pompous heroes who, confounding conventional distinction with genuine greatness, used to announce themselves by a tedious enumeration of all their titles, the Junta occupied itself in the first place with decreeing the honors and decorations due to its exalted position. Their President received the predicate of “Highness,” the other members that of “Excellency,” while to the Junta in corpore was reserved the title of “Majesty.” They adopted a species of fancy uniform resembling that of a general, adorned their breasts with badges representing the two worlds, and voted themselves a yearly salary of 120,000 reals. It was a true idea of the old Spanish school, that, in order to make a great and dignified entrance upon the historical stage of Europe, the chiefs of insurgent Spain ought to wrap themselves in theatrical costumes.

We should transgress the limits of these sketches by entering into the internal history of the Junta and the details of its administration. For our end it will suffice to answer two questions. What was its influence on the development of the Spanish revolutionary movement? What on the defense of the country? These two questions answered, much that until now has appeared mysterious and unaccountable in the Spanish revolutions of the nineteenth century will have found its explanation.

At the outset, the majority of the Central Junta thought it their main duty to suppress the first revolutionary transports. Accordingly they tightened anew the old trammels of the press and appointed a new Grand Inquisitor, who was happily prevented by the French from resuming his functions. Although the greater part of the real property of Spain was then locked up in mortmain — in the entailed estates of the nobility, and the unalienable estates of the Church — the Junta ordered the selling of the mortmains, which had already begun, to be suspended, threatening even to amend the private contracts affecting the ecclesiastical estates that had already been sold. They acknowledged the national debt, but took no financial measure to free the civil list from a world of burdens, with which a secular succession of corrupt governments had encumbered it, to reform their proverbially unjust, absurd and vexatious fiscal system, or to open to the nation new productive resources, by breaking through the shackles of feudalism.

IV. The Royal Council (Consejo Real) and the Inquisition (Santo Oficio)


Already at the time of Philip V, Francisco Benito la Soledad had said: “All the evils of Spain are derived from the abogados” (lawyers). At the head of the mischievous magisterial hierarchy of Spain was placed the Consejo Real of Castile. Sprung up in the turbulent times of the Don Juans and the Enriques, strengthened by Philip II, who discovered in it a worthy complement of the Santo Oficio [the Holy Office of the Inquisition], it had improved by the calamities of the times and the weakness of the later kings to usurp and accumulate in its hands the most heterogeneous attributes, and to add to its functions of Highest Tribunal those of a legislator and of an administrative superintendent of all the kingdoms of Spain. Thus it surpassed in power even the French Parliament which it resembled in many points, except that it was never to be found on the side of the people. Having been the most powerful authority in ancient Spain, the Consejo Real was, of course, the most implacable foe to a new Spain, and to all the recent popular authorities threatening to cripple its supreme influence. Being the great dignitary of the order of the lawyers and the incarnate guaranty of all its abuses and privileges, the Consejo naturally disposed of all the numerous and influential interests vested in Spanish jurisprudence. It was therefore a power with which the revolution could enter into no compromise, but which had to be swept away unless it should be allowed to sweep away the revolution in its turn. As we have seen in a former article, the Consejo had prostituted itself before Napoleon, and by that act of treason had lost all hold upon the people. But on the day of their assumption of office the Central Junta were foolish enough to communicate to the Consejo their constitution, and to ask for its oath of fidelity, after having received which they declared they would dispatch the formula of the same oath to all the other authorities of the kingdom. By this inconsiderate step, loudly disapproved by all the revolutionary party, the Consejo became convinced that the Central Junta wanted its support; it thus recovered from its despondency, and, after an affected hesitation of some days, tendered a malevolent submission to the Junta, backing its oath by an expression of its own reactionary scruples exhibited in its advice to the Junta to dissolve, by reducing its number to three or five members, according to Ley 3, Partida 2, Titulo 15; and to order the forcible extinction of the provincial juntas. After the French had returned to Madrid and dispersed the Consejo Real, the Central Junta, not contented with their first blunder, had the fatuity to resuscitate the Consejo by creating the Consejo Reunido — a reunion of the Consejo Real with all the other wrecks of the ancient royal councils. Thus the Junta spontaneously created for the counter-revolution a central power, which, rivalling their own power, never ceased to harass and counteract them with its intrigues and conspiracies, seeking to drive them to the most unpopular steps, and then, with a show of virtuous indignation to denounce them to the impassioned contempt of the people. It hardly need be mentioned that, having first acknowledged and then re-established the Consejo Real, the Central Junta was unable to reform anything, either in the organization of Spanish tribunals, or in their most vicious civil and criminal legislation.

That, notwithstanding the predominance in the Spanish rising of the national and religious elements, there existed, in the two first years, a most decided tendency to social and political reforms, is proved by all the manifestations of the provincial juntas of that time, which, though composed as they mostly were of the privileged classes, never neglected to denounce the ancient régime and to hold out promises of radical reform. The fact is further proved by the manifestoes of the Central Junta. In their first address to the nation, dated 26th October, 1808, they say:

“A tyranny of twenty years, exercised by the most incapable hands, had brought them to the very brink of perdition; the nation was alienated from its Government by hatred and contest. A little time only has passed since, oppressed and degraded, ignorant of their own strength, and finding no protection against the governmental evils, either in the institutions or in the laws, they had even regarded foreign dominion [as] less hateful than the wasting tyranny which consumed them. The dominion of a will always capricious, and most often unjust, had lasted too long; their patience, their love of order, their generous loyalty had too long been abused; it was time that law founded on general utility should commence its reign. Reform, therefore, was necessary throughout all branches. The Junta would form different committees, each entrusted with a particular department to whom all writings on matters of Government and Administration might he addressed.”

In their address dated Seville, 28th October, 1809, they say:

“An imbecile and decrepit despotism prepared the way for French tyranny. To leave the state sunk in old abuses would be a crime as enormous as to deliver you into the hands of Bonaparte.”

There seems to have existed in the Central Junta a most original division of labor — the Jovellanos party being allowed to proclaim and to protocol the revolutionary aspirations of the nation, and the Floridablanca party reserving to themselves the pleasure of giving them the lie direct, and of opposing to revolutionary fiction counter-revolutionary fact. For us, however, the important point is to prove from the very confessions of the provincial juntas deposited with the Central, the often-denied fact of the existence of revolutionary aspirations at the epoch of the first Spanish rising.

The manner in which the Central Junta made use of the opportunities for reforms afforded by the good will of the nation, the pressure of events, and the presence of immediate danger, may be inferred from the influence exercised by their Commissioners in the several provinces they were sent to. One Spanish author candidly tells us that the Central Junta, not overflowing with capacities, took good care to retain the eminent members at the center, and to dispatch those who were good for nothing to the circumference. These Commissioners were invested with the power of presiding over the provincial juntas, and of representing the Central in the plenitude of its attributes. To quote only some instances of their doings: General Romana, whom the Spanish soldiers used to call Marquis de las Romerias, from his perpetual marches and counter-marches — fighting never taking place except when he happened to be out of the way — this Romana, when beaten by Soult out of Galicia, entered Asturias, and as a Commissioner of the Central. His first business was to pick a quarrel with the provincial Junta of Oviedo, whose energetic and revolutionary measures had drawn down upon them the hatred of the privileged classes. He went the length of dissolving and replacing it by persons of his own invention. General Ney, informed of these dissensions, in a province where the resistance against the French had been general and unanimous, instantly marched his forces into Asturias, expelled the Marquis de las Romerias, entered Oviedo and sacked it during three days. The French having evacuated Galicia at the end of 1809, our Marquis and Commissioner of the Central Junta entered Coruña, united in his person all public authority, suppressed the district juntas, which had multiplied with the insurrection, and in their places appointed military governors, threatening the members of those juntas with persecution, actually persecuting the patriots, affecting a supreme benignity toward all who had embraced the cause of the invader, and proving in all other respects a mischievous, impotent, capricious blockhead. And what had been the shortcomings of the district and provincial juntas of Galicia? They had ordered a general recruitment without exemption of classes or persons; they had levied taxes upon the capitalists and proprietors; they had lowered the salaries of public functionaries; they had commanded the ecclesiastical corporations to keep at their disposition the revenues existing in their chests. In one word, they had taken revolutionary measures. From the time of the glorious Marquis de las Romerias, Asturias and Galicia, the two provinces most distinguished by their general resistance to the French, withheld from partaking in the war of independence, whenever released from immediate danger of invasion.

In Valencia, where new prospects appeared to open as long as the people were left to themselves and to chiefs of their own choosing, the revolutionary spirit was broken down by the influence of the Central Government. Not contented to place that province under the generalship of one Don José Caro, the Central Junta dispatched as “their own” Commissioner, the Baron Labazora. This Baron found fault with the provincial junta because it had resisted certain superior orders, and cancelled their decree by which the appointments to vacant canonship, ecclesiastical benefices, and commandries had been judiciously suspended and the revenues destined for the benefit of the military hospitals.

Hence bitter contests between the Central Junta and that of Valencia; hence, at a later epoch, the sleep of Valencia under the liberal administration of Marshal Suchet; hence its eagerness to proclaim Ferdinand VII on his return against the then revolutionary Government.

At Cadiz, the most revolutionary place in Spain at the epoch, the presence of a commissioner of the Central Junta, the stupid and conceited Marquis de Viliel, caused an insurrection to break out on the 22nd and 23rd of February, 1809, which, if not timely shifted to the war of independence, would have had the most disastrous consequences.

There exists no better sample of the discretion exhibited by the Central Junta in the appointment of their own Commissioners, than that of the delegate to Wellington, Senor Lozano de Torres, who, while humbling himself in servile adulation before the English General, secretly informed the Junta that the General’s complaints on his want of provisions were altogether groundless. Wellington, having found out the double-tongued wretch, chased him ignominiously from his camp.

The Central Junta were placed in the most fortunate circumstances for realizing what they had proclaimed in one of their addresses to the Spanish nation.

“It has seemed good to Providence that in this terrible crisis you should not be able to advance one step toward independence without advancing one likewise toward liberty.”

At the commencement of their reign the French had not yet obtained possession of one-third of Spain. The ancient authorities they found either absent or prostrated by their connivance with the intruder, or dispersed at his bidding. There was no measure of social reform, transferring property and influence from the Church and the aristocracy to the middle class and the peasants, which the cause of defending the common country could not have enabled them to carry. They had the same good luck as the French Comité du salut public — that the convulsion within was backed by the necessities of defense against aggressions from without; moreover they had before them the example of the bold initiative which certain provinces had already been forced into by the pressure of circumstances. But not satisfied with hanging as a dead-weight on the Spanish revolution they actually worked in the sense of the counter-revolution, by re-establishing the ancient authorities, by forging anew the chains which had been broken, by stifling the revolutionary fire wherever it broke out, by themselves doing nothing and by preventing others from doing anything. During their stay at Seville, on July 20, 1809, even the English Tory Government thought necessary to address them a note strongly protesting against their counter-revolutionary course apprehending that they were likely to suffocate the public enthusiasm. It has been remarked somewhere that Spain endured all the evils of revolution without acquiring revolutionary strength. If there be any truth in this remark, it is a sweeping condemnation passed upon the Central Junta.

We have thought it the more necessary to dwell upon this point, as its decisive importance has never been understood by any European historian. Exclusively under the reign of the Central Junta, it was possible to blend with the actualities and exigencies of national defense the transformation of Spanish society, and the emancipation of the native spirit, without which any political constitution must dissolve like a phantom at the slightest combat with real life. The Cortes were placed in quite opposite circumstances — they themselves driven back to an insulated spot of the Peninsula, cut off from the main body of the monarchy during two years by a besieging French army, and representing ideal Spain while real Spain was conquered or fighting. At the time of the Cortes Spain was divided into two parts. At the Isla de Leon, ideas without action — in the rest of Spain, action without ideas. At the time of the Central Junta, on the contrary, particular weakness, incapacity and ill will were required on the part of the Supreme Government to draw a line of distinction between the Spanish war and the Spanish revolution. The Cortes, therefore, failed, not, as French and English writers assert, because they were revolutionaries, but because their predecessors had been reactionists and had missed the proper season of revolutionary action. Modern Spanish writers, offended by the Anglo-French critics, have nevertheless proved unable to refute them, and still wince under the bon mot of the Abbé de Pradt: “The Spanish people resemble the wife of Sganarelle who wanted to be beaten.”

V. Guerilla Warfare


The Central Junta failed in the defense of their country, because they failed in their revolutionary mission. Conscious of their own weakness, of the unstable tenor of their power, and of their extreme unpopularity, how could they have attempted to answer the rivalries, jealousies, and overbearing pretensions of their generals common to all revolutionary epochs, but by unworthy tricks and petty intrigues? Kept, as they were, in constant fear and suspicion of their own military chiefs, we may give full credit to Wellington when writing to his brother, the Marquis of Wellesley, on September 1, 1809:

“I am much afraid, from what I have seen of the proceedings of the Central Junta, that in the distribution of their forces, they did not consider military defense and military operations so much as they do political intrigue and the attainment of trifling political objects.”

In revolutionary times, when all ties of subordination are loosened, military discipline can only be restored by civil discipline sternly weighing upon the generals. As the Central Junta, from its incongruous complexion, never succeeded in controlling the generals, the generals always failed in controlling the soldiers, and to the end of the war the Spanish army never reached an average degree of discipline and subordination. This insubordination was kept up by the want of food, clothing, and all the other material requisites of an army — for the morale of an army, as Napoleon called it, depends altogether on its material condition. The Central Junta was unable regularly to provide for the army, because the poor poet Quintana’s manifestoes would not do in this instance, and to add coercion to their decrees they must have recurred to the same revolutionary measures which they had condemned in the provinces. Even the general enlistment without respect to privilege and exemptions, and the facility granted to all Spaniards to obtain every grade in the army, was the work of the provincial juntas, and not of the Central Junta. If the defeats of the Spanish armies were thus produced by the counter-revolutionary incapacities of the Central Junta, these disasters in their turn still more depressed that Government, and by making it the object of popular contempt and suspicion, increased its dependence upon presumptuous but incapable military chiefs.

The Spanish standing army, if everywhere defeated, nevertheless presented itself at all points. More than twenty times dispersed, it was always ready again to show front to the enemy, and frequently reappeared with increased strength after a defeat. It was of no use to beat them, because, quick to flee, their loss in men was generally small, and as to the loss of the field, they did not care about it. Retiring disorderly to the sierras, they were sure to reassemble and reappear when least expected, strengthened by new reinforcements, and able, if not to resist the French armies, at least to keep them in continual movement, and to oblige them to scatter their forces. More fortunate than the Russians, they did not even need to die in order to rise from the dead.

The disastrous battle at Ocaña, November 19, 1809, was the last great pitched battle which the Spaniards fought; from that time they confined themselves to guerrilla warfare. The mere fact of the abandonment of regular warfare proves the disappearance of the national before the local centers of Government. When the disasters of the standing army became regular, the rising of the guerrillas became general, and the body of the people, hardly thinking of the national defeats, exulted in the local successes of their heroes. In this point at least the Central Junta shared the popular delusion. Fuller accounts were given in the Gaceta of an affair of guerrillas than of the battle of Ocaña.

As Don Quixote had protested with his lance against gunpowder, so the guerrillas protested against Napoleon, only with different success.

“These guerrillas,” says the Austrian Military journal (Vol. I, 1821), “carried their basis in themselves, as it were, and every operation against them terminated in the disappearance of its object.”

There are three periods to be distinguished in the history of the guerrilla warfare. In the first period the population of whole provinces took up arms and made a partisan warfare, as in Galicia and Asturias. In the second period, guerrilla bands formed of the wrecks of the Spanish armies, of Spanish deserters from the French armies, of smugglers, etc., carried on the war as their own cause, independently of all foreign influence and agreeably to their immediate interest. Fortunate events and circumstances frequently brought whole districts under their colors. As long as the guerrillas were thus constituted, they made no formidable appearance as a body, but were nevertheless extremely dangerous to the French. They formed the basis of an actual armament of the people. As soon as an opportunity for a capture offered itself, or a combined enterprise was meditated, the most active and daring among the people came out and joined the guerrillas. They rushed with the utmost rapidity upon their booty, or placed themselves in order of battle, according to the object of their undertaking. It was not uncommon to see them standing out a whole day in sight of a vigilant enemy, in order to intercept a carrier or to capture supplies. It was in this way that the younger Mina captured the Viceroy of Navarra, appointed by Joseph Bonaparte, and that Julian made a prisoner of the Commandant of Ciudad Rodrigo. As soon as the enterprise was completed, everybody went his own way, and armed men were seen scattering in all directions; but the associated peasants quietly returned to their common occupation without “as much as their absence having been noticed.” Thus the communication on all the roads was closed. Thousands of enemies were on the spot, though not one could be discovered. No courier could be dispatched without being taken; no supplies could set out without being intercepted; in short, no movement could be effected without being observed by a hundred eyes. At the same time, there existed no means of striking at the root of a combination of this kind. The French were obliged to be constantly armed against an enemy who, continually flying, always reappeared, and was everywhere without being actually seen, the mountains serving as so many curtains.

“It was,” says the Abbé de Pradt, “neither battles nor engagements which exhausted the French forces, but the incessant molestations of an invisible enemy, who, if pursued, became lost among the people, out of which he reappeared immediately afterward with renewed strength. The lion in the fable tormented to death by a gnat gives a true picture of the French army.”

In their third period, the guerrillas aped the regularity of the standing army, swelled their corps to the number of from 3,000 to 6,000 men, ceased to be the concern of whole districts, and fell into the hands of a few leaders, who made such use of them as best suited their own purposes. This change in the system of the guerrillas gave the French, in their contests with them, considerable advantage. Rendered incapable by their great numbers to conceal themselves, and to suddenly disappear without being forced into battle, as they had formerly done, the guerrilleros were now frequently overtaken, defeated, dispersed, and disabled for a length of time from offering any further molestation.

By comparing the three periods of guerrilla warfare with the political history of Spain, it is found that they represent the respective degrees into which the counter-revolutionary spirit of the Government had succeeded in cooling the spirit of the people. Beginning with the rise of whole populations, the partisan war was next carried on by guerrilla bands, of which whole districts formed the reserve and terminated in corps francs continually on the point of dwindling into banditti, or sinking down to the level of standing regiments.

Estrangement from the Supreme Government, relaxed discipline, continual disasters, constant formation, decomposition, and recomposition during six years of the cadrez must have necessarily stamped upon the body of the Spanish army the character of praetorianism, making them equally ready to become the tools or the scourges of their chiefs. The generals themselves had necessarily participated in, quarrelled with, or conspired against the Central Government, and always thrown the weight of their sword into the political balance. Thus Cuesta, who afterwards seemed to win the confidence of the Central Junta at the same rate that he lost the battles of the country, had begun by conspiring with the Consejo Real and by arresting the Leonese deputies to the Central Junta. General Morla himself, a member of the Central Junta, went over into the Bonapartist camp, after he had surrendered Madrid to the French. The coxcombical Marquis de las Romerias, also a member of the Junta, conspired with the vainglorious Francisco Palafox, the wretched Montijo, and the turbulent Junta of Seville against it. The Generals Castaños, Blake, La Bisbal (an O'Donnell) figured and intrigued successively at the times of the Cortes as regents, and the Captain-General of Valencia, Don Javier Elío, surrendered Spain finally to the mercies of Ferdinand VII. The praetorian element was certainly more developed with the generals than with their troops.

On the other hand, the army and guerrilleros — which received during the war part of their chiefs, like Porlier, Lacy, Eroles and Villacampa, from the ranks of distinguished officers of the line, while the line in its turn afterward received guerrilla chiefs, like Mina, Empecinado, etc. — were the most revolutionized portion of Spanish society, recruited as they were from all ranks, including the whole of the fiery, aspiring and patriotic youth, inaccessible to the soporific influence of the Central Government; emancipated from the shackles of the ancient regime; part of them, like Riego, returning after some years’ captivity in France. We are, then, not to be surprised at the influence exercised by the Spanish army in subsequent commotions; neither when taking the revolutionary initiative, nor when spoiling the revolution by praetorianism.

As to the guerrillas, it is evident that, having for some years figured upon the theater of sanguinary contests, taken to roving habits, freely indulged all their passions of hatred, revenge, and love of plunder, they must, in times of peace, form a most dangerous mob, always ready at a nod, in the name of any party or principle, to step forward for him who is able to give them good pay or to afford them a pretext for plundering excursions.

VI. Extraordinary Cortes adopts the Jacobin Constitution


On September 24, 1810, the Extraordinary Cortes assembled on the Island of Leon; on February 20, 1811, they removed their sittings thence to Cadiz; on March 19, 1812, they promulgated the new Constitution; and on September 20, 1813, they closed their sittings, three years from the period of their opening.

The circumstances under which this Congress met are without parallel in history. While no legislative body had ever before gathered its members from such various parts of the globe, or pretended to control such immense territories in Europe, America and Asia, such a diversity of races and such a complexity of interests — nearly the whole of Spain was occupied by the French, and the Congress itself, actually cut off from Spain by hostile armies, and relegated to a small neck of land, had to legislate in the sight of a surrounding and besieging army. From the remote angle of the Isla Gaditana they undertook to lay the foundation of a new Spain, as their forefathers had done from the mountains of Covadonga and Sobrarbe. How are we to account for the curious phenomenon of the Constitution of 1812, afterward branded by the crowned heads of Europe, assembled at Verona, as the most incendiary invention of Jacobinism, having sprung up from the head of old monastic and absolutionist Spain at the very epoch when she seemed totally absorbed in waging a holy war against the Revolution? How, on the other hand, are we to account for the sudden disappearance of this same Constitution, vanishing like a shadow — like “la sombra de un sueño,"’ say the Spanish historians — when brought into contact with a living Bourbon? If the birth of that Constitution is a riddle, its death is no less so. To solve the enigma, we propose to commence with a short review of this same Constitution of 1812, which the Spaniards tried again to realize at two subsequent epochs, first during the period from 1820-23, and then in 1836.

The Constitution of 1812 consists of 384 articles and comprehends the following 10 divisions: 1. On the Spanish nation and the Spaniards. 2. On the territory of Spain; its religion, government, and on Spanish citizens. 3. On the Cortes. 4. On the King. 5. On the tribunals and administration of justice in civil and criminal ‘matters. 6. On the interior government of the provinces and communes. 7. On the taxes. 8. On the national military forces. 9. On public education. 10. On the observance of the Constitution, and mode of proceeding to make alterations therein.

Proceeding from the principle that

“the sovereignty resides essentially in the nation, to which, therefore, alone belongs exclusively the right of establishing fundamental laws,”

the Constitution, nevertheless, proclaims a division of powers, according to which:

“the legislative power is placed in the Cortes jointly with the King;” “the execution of the laws is confided to the King,” “the application of the laws in civil and criminal affairs belongs exclusively to the tribunals, neither the Cortes nor the King being in any case empowered to exercise judicial authority, advocate pending cases, or command the revisal of concluded judgment.”

The basis of the national representation is mere population, one deputy for every 70,000 souls. The Cortes consists of one house, viz: the commons, the election of the deputies being by universal suffrage. The elective franchise is enjoyed by all Spaniards, with the exception of menial servants, bankrupts and criminals. After the year 1830, no citizen can enjoy this right who cannot read and write. The election is, however, indirect, having to pass through the three degrees of parochial, district and provincial elections. There is no defined property qualification for a deputy. It is true that according to Art. 92, “it is necessary, in order to be eligible as a deputy to the Cortes, to possess a proportionate annual income, proceeding from real personal property,” but Art. 93 suspends the preceding article, until the Cortes in their future meetings declare the period to have arrived in which it shall take effect. The King has neither the right to dissolve nor prorogue the Cortes, who annually meet at the capital on the first of March, without being convoked, and sit at least three months consecutively.

A new Cortes is elected every second year, and no deputy can sit in two Cortes consecutively; i.e., one can only be re-elected after an intervening Cortes of two years. No deputy can ask or accept rewards, pensions, or honors from the King. The secretaries of state, the councillors of state, and those fulfilling offices of the royal household, are ineligible as deputies to the Cortes. No public officer employed by Government shall be elected deputy to the Cortes from the province in which he discharges his trust. To indemnify the deputies for their expenses, the respective provinces shall contribute such daily allowances as the Cortes, in the second year of every general deputation, shall point out for the deputation that is to succeed it. The Cortes cannot deliberate in the presence of the King. In those cases where the ministers have any communication to make to the Cortes in the name of the King, they may attend the debates when, and in such manner as, the Cortes may think fit, and may speak therein, but they cannot be present at a vote. The King, the Prince of Asturias, and the Regents have to swear to the Constitution before the Cortes, who determine any question of fact or right that may occur in the order of the succession to the Crown, and elect a Regency if necessary. The Cortes are to approve, previous to ratification, all treaties of offensive alliances, or of subsidies and commerce, to permit or refuse the admission of foreign troops into the kingdom, to decree the creation and suppression of offices in the tribunals established by the Constitution, and also the creation or abolition of public offices; to determine every year, at the recommendation of the King, the land and sea forces in peace and in war, to issue ordinances to the army, the fleet, and the national militia, in all their branches; to fix the expenses of the public administration; to establish annually the taxes, to take property on loan, in cases of necessity, upon the credit of the public funds, to decide on all matters respecting money, weights and measures; to establish a general plan of public education, to protect the political liberty of the press, to render real and effective the responsibility of the ministers, etc. The King enjoys only a suspensive veto, which he may exercise during two consecutive sessions, but if the same project of new law should be proposed a third time, and approved by the Cortes of the following year, the King is understood to have given his assent, and has actually to give it. Before the Cortes terminate a session, they appoint a permanent committee, consisting of seven of their members, sitting in the capital until the meeting of the next Cortes, endowed with powers to watch over the strict observance of the Constitution and administration of the laws; reporting to the next Cortes any infraction it may have observed, and empowered to convoke an extraordinary Cortes in critical times. The King cannot quit the kingdom without the consent of the Cortes. He requires the consent of the Cortes for contracting a marriage. The Cortes fix the annual revenue of the King’s household.

The only Privy Council of the King is the Council of State, in which the ministers have no seat, and which consists of forty persons, four ecclesiastics, four grandees of Spain, and the rest formed by distinguished administrators, all of them chosen by the King from a list of one hundred and twenty persons’ nominated by the Cortes; but no actual deputy can be a councilor, and no councilor can accept offices, honors, or employment from the King. The councilors of state cannot be removed without sufficient reasons, proved before the Supreme Court of justice. The Cortes fix the salary of these councilors whose opinion the King will hear upon all important matters, and who nominate the candidates for ecclesiastical and judicial places. In the sections respecting the judicature, all the old consejos are abolished, a new organization of tribunals is introduced, a Supreme Court of Justice is established to try the ministers when impeached, to take cognizance of all cases of dismissal and suspension from office of councilors of state, and the officers of courts of justice, etc. Without proof that reconciliation has been attempted, no law-suit can be commenced. Torture, compulsion, confiscation of property are suppressed. All exceptional tribunals are abolished but the military and ecclesiastic, against the decisions of which appeals to the Supreme Court are however permitted.

For the interior government of towns and communes (communes, where they do not exist, to be formed from districts with a population of 1,000 souls), Ayuntamientos shall be formed of one or more magistrates, aldermen and public councilors, to be presided over by the political chief (corregidor) and to be chosen by general election. No public officer actually employed and appointed by the King can be eligible as a magistrate, alderman or public councilor. The municipal employments shall be public duty, from which no person can be exempt without lawful reason. The municipal corporations shall discharge all their duties under the inspection of the provincial deputation.

The political government of the provinces shall be placed in the governor (jefe politico) appointed by the King. This governor is connected with a deputation, over which he presides, and which is elected by the districts when assembled for the general election of the members for a new Cortes. These provincial deputations consist of seven members, assisted by a secretary paid by the Cortes. These deputations shall hold sessions for ninety days at most in every year. From the powers and duties assigned to them, they may be considered as permanent committees of the Cortes. All members of the Ayuntamientos and provincial deputations, in entering office, swear fidelity to the Constitution. With regard to the taxes, all Spaniards are bound, without any distinction whatever, to contribute, in proportion to their means, to the expenses of the State. All custom-houses shall be suppressed, except in the seaports and on the frontier. All Spaniards are likewise bound to military service, and, beside the standing army, there shall be formed corps of national militia in each province, consisting of the inhabitants of the same, in proportion to its population and circumstances. Lastly, the Constitution of 1812 cannot be altered, augmented, or corrected in any of its details, until eight years have elapsed after its having been carried into practice.

When the Cortes drew up this new plan of the Spanish State, they were of course aware that such a modern political Constitution would be altogether incompatible with the old social system, and consequently, they promulgated a series of decrees, with a view to organic changes in civil society. Thus they abolished the Inquisition. They suppressed the seignorial jurisdictions; with their exclusive, prohibitive, and privative feudal privileges, i.e., those of the chase, fishery, forests, mills, etc., excepting such as had been acquired on an onerous title, and which were to be reimbursed. They abolished the tithes throughout the monarchy, suspended the nominations to all ecclesiastic prebends not necessary for the performance of divine service, and took steps for the suppression of the monasteries and the sequestration of their property.

They intended to transform the immense wastelands, royal domains and commons of Spain into private property, by selling one half of them for the extinction of the public debt, distributing another part by lot as a patriotic remuneration for the disbanded soldiers of the war of independence and granting a third part, gratuitously, and also by lot, to the poor peasantry who should desire to possess but not be able to buy them. They allowed the inclosure of pastures and other real property, formerly forbidden. They repealed the absurd laws which prevented pastures from being converted into arable land or arable land converted into pasture, and generally freed agriculture from the old arbitrary and ridiculous rules. They revoked all feudal laws with respect to farming contracts, and the law according to which the successor of an entailed estate was not obliged to confirm the leases granted by his predecessor, the leases expiring with him who had granted them. They abolished the voto de Santiago, under which name was understood an ancient tribute of a certain measure of the best bread and the best wine to be paid by the laborers of certain provinces principally for the maintenance of the Archbishop and Chapter of Santiago. They decreed the introduction of a large progressive tax, etc.

It being one of their principal aims to hold possession of the American colonies, which had already begun to revolt, they acknowledged the full political equality of the American and European Spaniards, proclaimed a general amnesty without any exception, issued decrees against the oppression weighing upon the original natives of America and Asia, cancelled the mitas, the repartimientos, etc., abolished the monopoly of quicksilver, and took the lead of Europe in suppressing the slave-trade.

The Constitution of 1812 has been accused on the one hand — for instance, by Ferdinand VII himself (see his decree of May 4, 1814) — of being a mere imitation of the French Constitution of 1791 transplanted on the Spanish soil by visionaries, regardless of the historical traditions of Spain. On the other hand, it has been contended — for instance, by the Abbé de Pradt (De la Révolution actuelle de 1'Espagne) — that the Cortes unreasonably clung to antiquated formulas, borrowed from the ancient fueros, and belonging to feudal times, when the royal authority was checked by the exorbitant privileges of the grandees.

The truth is that the Constitution of 1812 is a reproduction of the ancient fueros, but read in the light of the French Revolution, and adapted to the wants of modern society. The right of insurrection, for instance, is generally regarded as one of the boldest innovations of the Jacobin Constitution of 1793, but you meet this same right in the ancient Fueros of Sobrarbe, where it is called the Privilegio de la Union. You find it also in the ancient Constitution of Castile. According to the Fueros of Sobrarbe, the King cannot make peace nor declare war, nor conclude treaties, without the previous consent of the Cortes. The Permanent Committee, consisting of seven members of the Cortes, who are to watch over the strict observance of the Constitution during the prorogation of the legislative body, was of old established in Aragon, and was introduced into Castile at the time when the principal Cortes of the monarchy were united in one single body. To the period of the French invasion a similar institution still existed in the kingdom of Navarre. Touching the formation of a State Council from a list of 120 persons presented to the King by the Cortes and paid by them — this singular creation of the Constitution of 1812 was suggested by the remembrance of the fatal influence exercised by the camarillas at all epochs of the Spanish monarchy. The State Council was intended to supersede the camarilla. Besides, there existed analogous institutions in the past. At the time of Ferdinand IV, for instance, the King was always surrounded by twelve commoners, designated by the cities of Castile, to serve as his privy councilors; and, in 1419, the delegates of the cities complained that their commissioners were no longer admitted into the King’s Council. The exclusion of the highest functionaries and the members of the King’s household from the Cortes, as well as the prohibition to the deputies to accept honors or offices on the part of the King, seems, at first view, to be borrowed from the Constitution of 1791, and naturally to flow from the modern division of powers, sanctioned by the Constitution of 1812. But, in fact, we meet not only in the ancient Constitution of Castile with precedents, but we know that the people, at different times, rose and assassinated the deputies who had accepted honors or offices from the Crown. As to the right of the Cortes to appoint regencies in case of minority, it had continually been exercised by the ancient Cortes of Castile during the long minorities of the fourteenth century.

It is true that the Cadiz Cortes deprived the King of the power he had always exercised of convoking, dissolving, or proroguing the Cortes; but as the Cortes had fallen into disuse by the very manner in which the Kings improved their privileges, there was nothing more evident than the necessity of cancelling it. The alleged facts may suffice to show that the anxious limitation of the royal power — the most striking feature of the Constitution of 1812 — otherwise fully explained by the recent and revolting souvenirs of Godoy’s contemptible despotism, derived its origin from the ancient Fueros of Spain. The Cadiz Cortes but transferred the control from the privileged estates to the national representation. How much the Spanish kings stood in awe of the ancient Fueros may be seen from the fact that when a new collection of the Spanish laws had become necessary, in 1805, a royal ordinance ordered the removal from it of all the remains of feudalism contained in the last collection of laws, and belonging to a time when the weakness of the monarchy forced the kings to enter with their vassals into compromises derogatory to the sovereign power.

If the election of the deputies by general suffrage was an innovation, it must not be forgotten that the Cortes of 1812 were themselves elected by general suffrage, that all the juntas had been elected by it; that a limitation of it would, therefore, have been an infraction of a right already conquered by the people; and, lastly, that a property qualification, at a time when almost all the real property of Spain was locked up in mortmain, would have excluded the greater part of the population.

The meeting of the representatives in one single house was by no means copied from the French Constitution of 1791, as the morose English Tories will have it. Our readers know already that since Charles I (the Emperor Charles V) the aristocracy and the clergy had lost their seats in the Cortes of Castile. But even at the time when the Cortes were divided into brazos (arms, branches), representing the different estates, they assembled in one single hall, separated only by their seats, and voting in common. From the provinces, in which alone the Cortes still possessed real power at the epoch of the French invasion, Navarre continued the old custom of convoking the Cortes by estates; but in the Vascongadas the altogether democratic assemblies admitted not even the clergy. Besides, if the clergy and aristocracy had saved their obnoxious privileges, they had long since ceased to form independent political bodies, the existence of which constituted the basis of the composition of the ancient Cortes.

The separation of the judiciary from the executive power, decreed by the Cadiz Cortes, was demanded as early as the eighteenth century, by the most enlightened statesmen of Spain; and the general odium which the Consejo Real, from the beginning of the revolution, had concentrated upon itself, made the necessity of reducing the tribunals to their proper sphere of action universally felt.

The section of the Constitution which refers to the municipal government of the communes, is a genuine Spanish offspring, as we have shown in a former article. The Cortes only re-established the old municipal system, while they stripped off its medieval character. As to the provincial deputations, invested with the same powers for the internal government of the provinces as the ayuntamientos for the administration of the communes, the Cortes modelled them in imitation of similar institutions still existing at the time of the invasion in Navarre, Biscay and Asturias. In abolishing the exemptions from the military service, the Cortes sanctioned only what had become the general practice during the war of independence. The abolition of the Inquisition was also but the sanction of a fact, as the Holy Office, although re-established by the Central junta, had not dared to resume its functions, its holy members being content with pocketing their salaries, and prudently waiting for better times. As to the suppression of feudal abuses, the Cortes went not even the length of the reforms insisted upon in the famous memorial of Jovellanos, presented in 1795 to the Consejo Real in the name of the economical society of Madrid. The ministers of the enlightened despotism of the latter part of the eighteenth century, Floridablanca and Campomanes, had already begun to take steps in this direction. Besides, it must not be forgotten that simultaneously with the Cortes, there sat a French Government at Madrid, which, in all the provinces overrun by the armies of Napoleon, had swept away from the soil all monastic and feudal institutions, and introduced the modern system of administration. The Bonapartist papers denounced the insurrection as entirely produced by the artifices and bribes of England, assisted by the monks and the Inquisition. How far the rivalry with the intruding government must have exercised a salutary influence upon the decisions of the Cortes, may be inferred from the fact that the Central Junta itself, in its decree dated September, 1809, wherein the convocation of the Cortes is announced, addressed the Spaniards in the following terms:

“Our detractors say that we are fighting to defend old abuses and the inveterate vices of our corrupted government. Let them know that your struggle is for the happiness as well as the independence of your country; that you will not depend henceforward on the uncertain will or the various temper of a single man,” etc.

On the other hand, we may trace in the Constitution of 1812 symptoms not to be mistaken of a compromise entered into between the liberal ideas of the eighteenth century and the dark traditions of priestcraft. It suffices to quote Art. 12, according to which

“the religion of the Spanish nation is and shall be perpetually Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman, the only true religion. The nation protects it by wise and just laws, and prohibits the exercise of any other whatever”;

or Art. 173, ordering the King to take, on his accession to the throne, the following oath before the Cortes:

“by the grace of God and the Constitution of the Spanish Monarchy, King of Spain, I swear by the Almighty and the Holy Evangelists, that I will defend and preserve the Catholic, Roman, and Apostolic religion, without tolerating any other in the kingdom.”

On a closer analysis, then, of the Constitution of 1812, we arrive at the conclusion that, so far from being a servile copy of the French Constitution of 1791, it was a genuine and original offspring of Spanish intellectual life, regenerating the ancient and national institutions, introducing the measures of reform loudly demanded by the most celebrated authors and statesmen of the eighteenth century, making inevitable concessions to popular prejudice.

VII. The Disappointment of the Masses


There were some circumstances favorable to the assembling at Cadiz of the most progressive men of Spain. When the elections took place, the movement had not yet subsided, and the very disfavor which the Central Junta had incurred recommended its antagonists, who, to a great extent, belonged to the revolutionary minority of the nation. At the first meeting of the Cortes, the most democratic provinces, Catalonia and Galicia, were almost exclusively represented; the deputies from Leon, Valencia, Murcia and the Islas Baleares, not arriving till three months later. The most reactionary provinces, those of the interior, were not allowed, except in some few localities, to proceed with the elections for the Cortes. For the different kingdoms, cities and towns of old Spain, which the French armies prevented from choosing deputies, as well as for the ultramarine provinces of New Spain, whose deputies could not arrive in due time, supplementary representatives were elected from the many individuals whom the troubles of the war had driven from the provinces to Cadiz, and the numerous South Americans, merchants, natives and others, whose curiosity or the state of affairs had likewise assembled at that place. Thus it happened that those provinces were represented by men more fond of innovation, and more impregnated with the ideas of the eighteenth century, than would have been the case if they had been enabled to choose for themselves. Lastly, the circumstance of the Cortes meeting at Cadiz was of decisive influence, that city being then known as the most radical of the kingdom, more resembling an American than a Spanish town. Its population filled the galleries in the Hall of the Cortes and domineered the reactionists, when their opposition grew too obnoxious, by a system of intimidation and pressure from without.

It would, however, be a great mistake to suppose that the majority of the Cortes consisted of reformers. The Cortes were divided into three parties — the Serviles, the Liberales (these party denominations spread from Spain through the whole of Europe), and the Americanos, the latter voting alternately with the one or the other party, according to their particular interests. The Serviles, far superior in numbers, were carried away by the activity, zeal and enthusiasm of the Liberal minority. The ecclesiastic deputies, who formed the majority of the Servile party, were always ready to sacrifice the royal prerogative, partly from the remembrance of the antagonism of the Church to the State, partly with a view to courting popularity, in order thus to save the privileges and abuses of their caste. During the debates on the general suffrage, the one-chamber system, the no-property qualification and the suspensive veto the ecclesiastic party always combined with the more democratic part of the Liberals against the partisans of the English Constitution. One of them, the Canon Cañedo, afterward Archbishop of Burgos, and an implacable persecutor of the Liberals, addressed Señor Mufioz Torrero, also a Canon, but belonging to the Liberal party, in these terms:

“You suffer the King to remain excessively powerful, but as a priest you ought to plead the cause of the Church, rather than that of the King.

Into these compromises with the Church party the Liberals were forced to enter, as we have already seen from some articles of the Constitution of 1812. When the liberty of the press was discussed, the parsons denounced it as “contrary to religion.” After the most stormy debates, and after having declared that all persons were at liberty to publish their sentiments without special license, the Cortes unanimously admitted an amendment, which, by inserting the word political, curtailed this liberty of half its extent, and left all writings upon religious matters subject to the censure of the ecclesiastic authorities, according to the decrees of the Council of Trent. On August 18, 1813, after a decree passed against all who should conspire against the Constitution, another decree was passed, declaring that whoever should conspire to make the Spanish nation cease to profess the Catholic Roman religion should be prosecuted as a traitor, and suffer death. When the Voto de Santiago was abolished, a compensatory resolution was carried, declaring Saint Teresa de Jesus the patroness of Spain. The Liberals also took care not to propose and carry the decrees about the abolition of the Inquisition, the tithes, the monasteries, etc., till after the Constitution had been proclaimed. But from that very moment the opposition of the Serviles within the Cortes, and the clergy without, became inexorable.

Having now explained the circumstances which account for the origin and the characteristic features of the Constitution of 1812, there still remains the problem to be solved of its sudden and resistless disappearance at the return of Ferdinand VII. A more humiliating spectacle has seldom been witnessed by the world. When Ferdinand entered Valencia, on April 16, 1814,

“the joyous people yoked themselves to his carriage, and testified by every possible expression of word and deed their desire of taking the old yoke upon themselves, shouting, ‘Long live the absolute King!’ ‘Down with the Constitution!”

In all the large towns, the Plaza Mayor, or Great Square, had been named Plaza de la Constitución, and a stone with these words engraved on it, erected there. In Valencia this stone was removed, and a “provisional” stone of wood set up in its place with the inscription: Real Plaza de Fernando VII. The populace of Seville deposed all the existing authorities, elected others in their stead to all the offices which had existed under the old regime, and then required those authorities to re-establish the Inquisition. From Aranjuez to Madrid Ferdinand’s carriage was drawn by the people. When the King alighted, the mob took him up in their arms, triumphantly showed him to the immense concourse assembled in front of the palace, and in their arms conveyed him to his apartments. The word Liberty appeared in large bronze letters over the entrance of the Hall of the Cortes in Madrid; the rabble hurried thither to remove it; they set up ladders, forced out letter by letter from the stone, and as each was thrown into the street, the spectators renewed their shouts of exultation. They collected as many of the journals of the Cortes and of the papers and pamphlets of the Liberals as could be got together, formed a procession in which the religious fraternities and the clergy, regular and secular, took the lead, piled up these papers in one of the public squares, and sacrificed them there as a political auto-da-fe, after which high mass was performed and the Te Deum sung as a thanksgiving for their triumph. More important perhaps — since these shameless demonstrations of the town mob, partly paid for their performances, and like the Lazzaroni of Naples, preferring the wanton rule of kings and monks to the sober regime of the middle classes — is the fact that the second general elections resulted in a decisive victory of the Serviles; the Constituent Cortes being replaced by the ordinary Cortes on September 20, 1813, who transferred their sittings from Cadiz to Madrid on January 15, 1814.

We have shown in former articles how the revolutionary party itself had participated in rousing and strengthening the old popular prejudices, with a view to turn them into so many weapons against Napoleon. We have then seen how the Central Junta, at the only period when social changes were to be blended with measures of national defense, did all in their power to prevent them, and to suppress the revolutionary aspirations of the provinces. The Cadiz Cortes, on the contrary, cut off, during the greater part of their existence, from all connection with Spain, were not even enabled to make their Constitution and their organic decrees known, except as the French armies retired. The Cortes arrived, as it were, post factum. They found society fatigued, exhausted, suffering; the necessary product of so protracted a war, entirely carried on upon the Spanish soil; a war in which the armies, being always on the move, the Government of today was seldom that of tomorrow, while bloodshed did not cease one single day during almost six years throughout the whole surface of Spain, from Cadiz to Pamplona, and from Granada to Salamanca. It was not to be expected that such a society should be very sensible of the abstract beauties of any political constitution whatever. Nevertheless, when the Constitution was first proclaimed at Madrid, and the other provinces evacuated by the French, it was received with “exultant delight,” the masses being generally expecting a sudden disappearance of their social sufferings from mere change of Government. When they discovered that the Constitution was not possessed of such miraculous powers, the very overstrained expectations which had welcomed it turned into disappointment, and with these passionate Southern peoples there is but one step from disappointment to hatred.

There were some particular circumstances which principally contributed to estrange the popular sympathies from the constitutional regime. The Cortes had published the severest decrees against the Afrancesados or the Josephites. The Cortes were partly driven to these decrees by the vindictive clamor of the populace and the reactionists, who at once turned against the Cortes as soon as the decrees they had wrung from them were put to execution. Upwards of 10,000 families became thus exiled. A lot of petty tyrants let loose on the provinces evacuated by the French, established their proconsular authority, and began by inquiries, prosecution, prison, inquisitorial proceedings against those compromised through adherence to the French, by having accepted offices from them, bought national property from them, etc. The Regency, instead of trying to effect the transition from the French to the national regime in a conciliatory and discreet way, did all in their power to aggravate the evils and exasperate the passions, inseparable from such changes of dominion. But why did they do so? In order to be able to ask from the Cortes a suspension of the Constitution of 1812, which, they told them, worked so very offensively. Be it remarked, en passant, that all the Regencies, these supreme executive authorities appointed by the Cortes, were regularly composed of the most decided enemies of the Cortes and their Constitution. This curious fact is simply explained by the Americans always combining with the Serviles in the appointment of the executive power, the weakening of which they considered necessary for the attainment of American independence from the mother country, since they were sure that an executive simply at variance with the sovereign Cortes would prove insufficient. The introduction by the Cortes of a single direct tax upon the rental of land, as well as upon industrial and commercial produce, excited also great discontent among the people, and still more so the absurd decrees forbidding the circulation of all Spanish specie coined by Joseph Bonaparte, and ordering its possessors to exchange it for national coin, simultaneously interdicting the circulation of French money, and proclaiming a tariff at which it was to be exchanged at the national mint. As this tariff greatly differed from that proclaimed by the French in 1808, for the relative value of French and Spanish coins, many private individuals were involved in great losses. This absurd measure also contributed to raise the price of the first necessaries, already highly above the average rates.

The classes most interested in the overthrow of the Constitution of 1812 and the restoration of the old regime — the grandees, the clergy, the friars and the lawyers — did not fail to excite to the highest pitch the popular discontent created by the unfortunate circumstances which had marked the introduction on the Spanish soil of the constitutional regime. Hence the victory of the Serviles in the general elections of 1813.

Only on the part of the army could the King apprehend any serious resistance, but General Elio and his officers, breaking the oath they had sworn to the Constitution, proclaimed Ferdinand VII at Valencia, without mentioning the Constitution. Elío was soon followed by the other military chiefs.

In his decree, dated May 4, 1814, in which Ferdinand VII dissolved the Madrid Cortes and cancelled the Constitution of 1812, he simultaneously proclaimed his hatred of despotism, promised to convene the Cortes under the old legal forms, to establish a rational liberty of the press, etc. He redeemed his pledge in the only manner which the reception he had met on the part of the Spanish people deserved — by rescinding all the acts emanating from the Cortes, by restoring everything to its ancient footing, by re-establishing the Holy Inquisition by recalling the Jesuits banished by his grandsire, by consigning the most prominent members of the juntas, the Cortes and their adherents to the galleys, African prisons, or to exile; and, finally, by ordering the most illustrious guerrilla chiefs, Porlier and de Lacy, to be shot.

VIII. The Revolution of 1820


During the year 1819 an expeditionary army was assembled in the environs of Cadiz for the purpose of reconquering the revolted American colonies. Enrique O'Donnell, Count La Bisbal, the uncle of Leopoldo O'Donnell, the present Spanish Minister, was intrusted with the command. The former expeditions against Spanish America having swallowed up 14,000 men since 1814, and being carried out in the most disgusting and reckless manner, had grown most odious to the army, and were generally considered a malicious means of getting rid of the dissatisfied regiments. Several officers, among them Quiroga, López Baños, San Miguel (the present Spanish La Fayette), O'Daly, and Arco Agüero, determined to improve the discontent of the soldiers, to shake off the yoke, and to proclaim the Constitution of 1812. La Bisbal, when initiated into the plot, promised to put himself at the head of the movement. The chiefs of the conspiracy, in conjunction with him, fixed on July 9, 1819, as the day on which a general review of the expeditionary troops was to take place, in the midst of which act the grand blow was to be struck. At the hour of the review La Bisbal appeared, indeed, but instead of keeping his word, ordered the conspiring regiments to be disarmed, sent Quiroga and the other chiefs to prison, and dispatched a courier to Madrid, boasting that he had prevented the most alarming of catastrophes. He was rewarded with promotion and decorations, but the Court having obtained more accurate information, afterward deprived him of his command, and ordered him to withdraw to the capital. This is the same La Bisbal who, in 1814, at the time of the King’s return to Spain, sent an officer of his staff with two letters to Ferdinand. Too great a distance from the spot rendering it impossible for him to observe the King’s movements, and to regulate his conduct according to that of the Monarch — in one letter La Bisbal made a pompous eulogy of the Constitution of 1812, on the supposition that the King would take the oath to support it. In the other, on the contrary, he represented the constitutional system as a scheme of anarchy and confusion, congratulated Ferdinand on his exterminating it, and offered himself and his army to oppose the rebels, demagogues, and enemies of the throne and altar. The officer delivered this second dispatch, which was cordially received by the Bourbon.

Notwithstanding the symptoms of rebellion which had shown themselves among the expeditionary army, the Madrid Government, at the head of which was placed the Duke of San Fernando, then Foreign Minister and President of the Cabinet, persisted in a state of inexplicable apathy and inactivity, and did nothing to accelerate the expedition, or to scatter the army in different seaport towns. Meanwhile a simultaneous movement was agreed upon between Don Rafael de Riego, commanding the second battalion of Asturias, then stationed at Las Cabezas de San Juan, and Quiroga, San Miguel, and other military chiefs of the Isla de Leon, who had contrived to get out of prison. Riego’s position was far the most difficult. The commune of Las Cabezas was in the center of three of the headquarters of the expeditionary army — that of the cavalry at Utrera, the second division of infantry at Lebrija, and a battalion of guides at Arcos, where the commander-in-chief and the staff were established. He nevertheless succeeded, on January 1, 1820, in surprising and capturing the commander and the staff, although the battalion cantoned at Arcos was double the strength of that of Asturias. On the same day he proclaimed in that very commune the Constitution of 1812, elected a provisional alcalde, and, not content with having executed the task devolved upon him, seduced the guides to his cause, surprised the battalion of Aragon lying at Bornos, marched from Bornos on Jerez, and from Jerez on Port St. Marie, everywhere proclaiming the Constitution, till he reached the Isla de Leon, on the 7th January, where he deposited the military prisoners he had made in the fort of St. Petri. Contrary to their previous agreement Quiroga and his followers had not possessed themselves by a coup de main of the bridge of Suazo, and then of the Isla de Leon, but remained tranquil to the 2d of January, after Oltra, Riego’s messenger, had conveyed to them official intelligence of the surprise of Arcos and the capture of the staff.

The whole forces of the revolutionary army, the supreme command of which was given to Quiroga, did not exceed 5,000 men, and their attacks upon the gates of Cadiz having been repulsed, they were themselves shut up in the Isla de Leon.

“Our situation,” says San Miguel, “was extraordinary; the revolution, stationary twenty-five days without losing or gaining an inch of ground, presented one of the most singular phenomena in politics.”

The provinces seemed rocked into lethargic slumber. During the whole month of January, at the end of which Riego, apprehending the flame of revolution might be extinguished in the Isla de Leon, formed, against the counsels of Quiroga and the other chiefs, a movable column of 1,500 men, and marched over a part of Andalusia, in presence of and pursued by a ten times stronger force than his own, proclaiming the Constitution at Algeciras, Ronda, Malaga, Cordova, etc., everywhere received by the inhabitants in a friendly way, but nowhere provoking a serious pronunciamento. Meanwhile his pursuers, consuming a whole month in fruitless marches and countermarches, seemed to desire nothing but to avoid, as much as possible, coming to close quarters with his little army. The conduct of the Government troops was altogether inexplicable. Riego’s expedition, which began on January 27, 1820, terminated on March 11, he being then forced to disband the few men that still followed him. His small corps was not dispersed through a decisive battle, but disappeared from — fatigue, from continual petty encounters with the enemy, from sickness and desertion. Meanwhile the situation of the insurrectionists in the Isla was by no means promising. They continued to be blocked up by sea and land, and within the town of Cadiz every declaration for their cause was suppressed by the garrison. How, then, did it happen that, Riego having disbanded in the Sierra Morena the constitutional troops on the 11th of March, Ferdinand VII was forced to swear to the Constitution, at Madrid, on the 9th of March, so that Riego really gained his end just two days before he finally despaired of his cause?

The march of Riego’s column had riveted anew the general attention; the provinces were all expectation, and eagerly watched every movement. Men’s minds, struck by the boldness of Riego’s sally, the rapidity of his march, his vigorous repulses of the enemy, imagined triumphs never gained, and aggregations and re-enforcements never obtained. When the tidings of Riego’s enterprise reached the more distant provinces, they were magnified in no small degree, and those most remote from the spot were the first to declare themselves for the Constitution of 1812. So far was Spain matured for a revolution, that even false news sufficed to produce it. So, too, it was false news that produced the hurricane of 1848.

In Galicia, Valencia, Saragossa, Barcelona and Pamplona, successive insurrections broke out. Enrique O'Donnell, alias the Count La Bisbal, being summoned by the King to oppose the expedition of Riego, not only offered to take arms against him, but to annihilate his little army and seize on his person. He only demanded the command of the troops cantoned in the Province of La Mancha, and money for his personal necessities. The King himself gave him a purse of gold and the requisite orders for the troops of La Mancha. But on his arrival at Ocaña, La Bisbal put himself at the head of the troops and proclaimed the Constitution of 1812. The news of this defection roused the public spirit of Madrid where the revolution burst forth immediately on the intelligence of this event. The Government began then to negotiate with the revolution. In a decree, dated March 6, the King offered to convoke the ancient Cortes, assembled in Estamentos (Estates), a decree suiting no party, neither that of the old monarchy nor that of the revolution. On his return from France, he had held out the same promise and failed to redeem his pledge. During the night of the 7th, revolutionary demonstrations having taken place in Madrid, the Gaceta of the 8th published a decree by which Ferdinand VII promised to swear to the Constitution of 1812.

“Let all of us,” he said, in that decree, “and myself first, fairly enter upon the path of the Constitution.”

The people having got possession of the palace on the 9th, he saved himself only by re-establishing the Madrid Ayuntamiento of 1814, before which he swore to the Constitution. He, for his part, did not care for false oaths, having always at hand a confessor ready to grant him full remission of all possible sins. Simultaneously a consultative junta was established, the first decree of which set free the political prisoners and recalled the political refugees. The prisons, now opened, sent the first constitutional Ministry to the royal palace. Castro, Herreros, and A. Argüelles — who formed the first Ministry — were martyrs of 1814, and deputies of 1812.

The true source of the enthusiasm which had appeared on the accession of Ferdinand to the throne, was joy at the removal of Charles IV, his father. And thus the source of the general exultation at the proclamation of the Constitution of 1812, was joy at the removal of Ferdinand VII. As to the Constitution itself, we know that, when finished, there were no territories in which to proclaim it. For the majority of the Spanish people, it was like the unknown god worshipped by the ancient Athenians.

In our days it has been affirmed by English writers, with an express allusion to the present Spanish revolution, on the one hand that the movement of 1820 was but a military conspiracy, and on the other that it was but a Russian intrigue. Both assertions are equally ridiculous. As to the military insurrection, we have seen that, notwithstanding its failure, the revolution proved victorious; and, besides, the riddle to be solved would not be conspiracy of 5,000 soldiers, but the sanction of that conspiracy by an army of 35,000 men, and by a most loyal nation of twelve millions. That the revolution first acted through the ranks of the army is easily explained by the fact that, of all the bodies of the Spanish monarchy, the army was the only one thoroughly transformed and revolutionized during the war of independence. As to Russian intrigue, it is not to be denied that Russia had her hands in the business of the Spanish revolution; that, of all the European powers, Russia first acknowledged the Constitution of 1812, by the treaty concluded in Veliki Luki, on July 20, 1812; that she first kindled the revolution of 1820, first denounced it to Ferdinand VII, first lighted the torch of counter-revolution on several points of the Peninsula, first solemnly protested against it before Europe, and finally forced France into an armed intervention against it. Monsieur de Tatischeff, the Russian Embassador, was certainly the most prominent character at the Court of Madrid — the invisible head of the camarilla. He had succeeded in introducing Antonio Ugarte, a wretch of low station, at Court, and making him the head of the friars and footmen who, in their back-staircase council, swayed the scepter in the name of Ferdinand VII. By Tatischeff, Ugarte was made Director-General of the expeditions against South America, and by Ugarte the Duke of San Fernando was appointed Foreign Minister and President of the Cabinet. Ugarte effected from Russia the purchase of rotten ships, destined for the South American Expedition, for which the order of St. Arm was bestowed upon him. Ugarte prevented Ferdinand and his brother Don Carlos from presenting themselves to the army at the first moment of the crisis. He was the mysterious author of the Duke of San Fernando’s unaccountable apathy, and of the measures which led a Spanish Liberal to say at Paris in 1836:

“One can hardly resist the conviction that the Government was rendering itself the means for the overthrow of the existing order of things.”

If we add the curious fact that the President of the United States praised Russia in his message for her having promised him not to suffer Spain to meddle with the South American colonies, there can remain but little doubt as to the part acted by Russia in the Spanish revolution. But what does all this prove? That Russia produced the revolution of 1820? By no means, but only that she prevented the Spanish Government from resisting it. That the revolution would have earlier or later overturned the absolute and monastic monarchy of Ferdinand VII is proved: 1. By the series of conspiracies which since 1814 had followed each other; 2. By the testimony of M. de Martignac, the French Commissary who accompanied the Duke of Angoulême at the time of the. Legitimist invasion of Spain; 3. By testimony not to be rejected — that of Ferdinand himself.

In 1814 Mina intended a rising in Navarre, gave the first signal for. resistance by an appeal to arms, entered the fortress of Pamplona, but distrusting his own followers, fled to France. In 1815 General Porlier, one of the most renowned guerrilleros of the War of Independence, proclaimed the Constitution at Coruña. He was beheaded. In 1816, Richard intended capturing the King at Madrid. He was hanged. In 1817, Navarro, a lawyer, with four of his accomplices, expired on the scaffold at Valencia for having proclaimed the Constitution of 1812. In the same year the intrepid General Lacy was shot at Majorca for having committed the same crime. In 1818, Colonel Vidal, Captain Sola, and others, who had proclaimed the Constitution at Valencia, were defeated and put to the sword. The Isla de Leon conspiracy then was but the last link in a chain formed by the bloody heads of so many valiant men from 1808 to 1814.

M. de Martignac who, in 1832, shortly before his death, published his work: L'Espagne et ses Révolutions, makes the following statement:

“Two years had passed away since Ferdinand VII had resumed his absolute power, and there continued still the prescriptions, proceeding from a camarilla recruited from the dregs of mankind. The whole State machinery was turned upside down; there reigned nothing but disorder, languor and confusion — taxes most unequally distributed — the state of the finances was abominable — there were loans without credit, impossibility of meeting the most urgent wants of the State, an army not paid, magistrates indemnifying themselves by bribery, a corrupt and do-nothing Administration, unable to ameliorate anything, or even to preserve anything. Hence the general discontent of the people. The new constitutional system was received with enthusiasm by the great towns, the commercial and industrial classes, liberal professions, army and proletariat. It was resisted by the monks, and it stupefied the country people.”

Such are the confessions of a dying man who was mainly instrumental in subverting that new system. Ferdinand VII, in his decrees of June 1, 1817, March 1, 1817, April 11, 1817, November 24, 1819, etc., literally confirms the assertions of M. de Martignac, and resumes his lamentations in these words:

“The miseries that resound in the ears of our Majesty, on the part of the complaining people, overset one another.”

This shows that no Tatischeff was needed to bring about a Spanish revolution.

IX. The Approaching Storm


M. de Chateaubriand, in his Congrès de Vérone, accuses the Spanish Revolution of 1820-23 of having been nothing but a servile parody of the first French Revolution, performed on the Madrid stage, and in Castilian costumes. He forgets that the struggles of different peoples emerging from the feudal state of society, and moving toward middle class civilization, cannot be supposed to differ in anything but the peculiar coloring derived from race, nationality, language, stage customs and costumes. His censure reminds us of the foolish old woman who strongly suspected all enamored girls of mimicking her own better days.

A whole library has been written pro and con upon the Constitution of 1812, the proclamation of which, in 1820, gave rise to a three years’ struggle between the prejudices and interests of the old society and the wants and aspirations of the new one. The Constitution of 1812 had strongly impressed upon it that same stamp of impracticability which characterizes all charters originally drawn up by modern nations at the epoch of their regeneration. At the revolutionary epoch, to which they owe their origin, they are impracticable, not in consequence of this or that paragraph, but simply because of their constitutional nature. At the Constitutional epoch they are out of place, because of their being impregnated with the generous delusions, inseparable from the dawn of social regeneration. The French Constitution of 1791, for instance, at its own time justly considered to be reactionary, would have been found guilty of Jacobinism in 1830. Why so? In 1791 the royal power and the ruling forces of the ancient society it represented, had not yet undergone those transformations which were to enable them to enter into combination with, and to take place within the elements of the new society. What was then wanted was revolutionary action to break down the resistance of the old society, and not a Constitution sanctioning an impossible compromise with it. In 1830, on the contrary, when limited monarchy had become possible, it was generally understood that it meant the rule of the bourgeoisie instead of the emancipation of the people. The Constitution of 1791 must then have appeared an incendiary anachronism. The same argument holds good for the Spanish Constitution of 1812, but there is still that distinction to be drawn between France in 1791, and Spain in 1820, that the Constitution of 1791 only pretended to make a halt, in a two years’ revolutionary march, while the Constitution of 1812 was to supersede revolution altogether. Spain, the day before an Oriental despotism, was to be a day later — a democracy with a monarch at its head. Such sudden changes belong exclusively to Spanish history. Ferdinand VII, when restored to absolute power, in 1823, as well as in 1814, expunged, by one stroke of the pen, all that had been done in the revolutionary interregnum. The Revolutionists, on their part, acted in the same manner. In 1854, the Spanish people began with Espartero, with whom they ended in 1843. In 1814 the revolution was terminated by Ferdinand’s refusing to swear to the Cadiz Constitution. In 1820, it began with forcing upon him the oath to that same Constitution. He reassembled the same Cortes he had dissolved two years before, and made the very men Ministers he had banished or imprisoned in 1814. All parties in Spain, with equal obstinacy, tear out all those leaves from the book of their national history which they have not written themselves. Hence these sudden changes, these monstrous exactions, this endless, uninterrupted series of contests. Hence, also, that indelible perseverance which may be defeated, but can never be disheartened or discouraged.

The first Constitutional Ministry, as the chief of which Don Augustin Arguelles may he considered, was, as we have seen, formed of the martyrs of 1814. Martyrs are, on the whole, very dangerous political characters, deflowered, as it were, by the consciousness of their past failures; inflated by exaggerated notions of their past merits; inclined to attribute to themselves the greater capacities because of their damped courage; prone to declare the era of revolution closed with their arrival in the government; from the very fact of their restoration likely to assume the character of revolutionary legitimists or of legitimate revolutionaries; overjealous of the new men whom they are astonished to find their rivals; constantly vacillating between the fear of counter-revolution and the apprehension of anarchy; by the very force of circumstances induced to compromise with the former, in order not to be swept away by the latter, or to see overthrown what they used to call the true boundaries of progress. Such was the Ministry of Arguelles. During the four months which elapsed from its formation till the meeting of the Cortes, all public authority was, in fact, suspended. juntas in the provinces and in the capital, public clubs backed by secret societies, for the first time a popular and unbridled press, stormy petitions, patriotic songs, the erection of constitutional monuments, demonstrations of effervescence natural with a nation on the recovery of its liberty, but yet no acts of vengeance, no crimes committed, and a magnanimity displayed which was not to be expected from southern natures wont to abandon themselves to the impetuosity of their passions.

The Cortes at last opened their first session on July 9, 1820. They made Don José Espiga, Archbishop of Seville, their president. Ferdinand VII swore before them, as he had done before the Ayuntamientos, on the Gospel, to observe the Cadiz Constitution.

“So soon”, he said, “as the excess of undeserved suffering brought the long-suppressed wishes of the people to a distinct expression, I hastened to pursue the course they indicated, and professed the oath of fidelity to the Constitution of the Cortes of 1812. From this moment the king and the people entered on their legitimate rights. My resolution was free and voluntary.”

Ferdinand VII, a despotic coward, a tiger with the heart of a hare, a man as greedy of authority as unfit to exercise it, a prince pretending to absolute power in order to be enabled to renounce it into the hands of his footmen, proud, however, of one thing, namely, his perfect mastery in hypocrisy. He enjoyed a sort of satisfaction in exaggerating his own self-humiliation before a victorious enemy, resolved, as he was, to avenge, at the opportune moment, his objection by still more astounding perfidy. When a prisoner of Napoleon, he humbly thanked him for the refuge he had afforded him, and begged for the hand of a princess of the Bonaparte family. When Bonaparte negotiated with him for his restoration to the Spanish throne, he protested, in an adulatory letter, that he should be the meanest of mortals, and become a byword in Europe, if he ever proved ungrateful to his imperial benefactor, simultaneously writing a secret letter to the Regency at Madrid, informing them that, once set at liberty, his first act would be to betray the French Emperor. When, on July 9, 1820, he swore anew to the Constitution, declaring that his “resolution was free and voluntary,” the Count of Espagne and Mr. Pons were already negotiating in his name, at Paris, with the Pavillon Marsan — viz., the Count of Artois (afterward Charles X) and his coterie — on the means of subverting that same Constitution.

There were some moments in his political life, as for instance the decree of September 30, 1823, when he made false promises in the most solemn manner, for no other possible purpose than the mere pleasure of breaking them. The serious work of counter-revolution, he committed entirely to the partisans of the ancient régime, reserving to himself to encourage their efforts in every possible way, but with the mental reservation of disowning them if unfortunate, and quietly delivering them to the resentment of their enemies if beaten. No mortal ever bore others’ sufferings with more stoical apathy. For his own official part he limited himself to showing his disgust at the Constitution by playing the fool with it. One night, for instance, he writes to the head of the Cabinet, a letter to the effect that he had appointed Gen. Contador as War Minister. The Ministers, at a loss to find a Contador in the army list, are astonished at discovering at length that Contador was the ex-chief of a squadron, 84 years old, long since disabled for any kind of service. The Ministers so insolently mocked, tendered their resignation. Ferdinand, having succeeded in composing the difference, proposes to replace Contador by Gen. Martinez Rodriguez, as unknown as his predecessor. New troublesome researches having taken place, it appears that Martinez had been dangerously hurt in the head at Badajoz, by the explosion of a powder barrel, and had never recovered his senses since that accident. A sort of virtuoso in the art of passive audacity and active cowardice, Ferdinand VII never shrunk from provoking a catastrophe, resolved, as he was, to be beforehand with the danger.

The majority of the Cortes was composed of deputies to the Cadiz Cortes, the authors of the Constitution and their adherents, while the minority consisted of men who had conspired to re-establish the Constitution. The majority considering the proclamation of the Constitution as the final term of the revolution, while the minority considered it as its beginning; the former having laid hold of the Government, while the latter were still striving to seize it; a schism between the Liberals of 1812 and the Liberals of 1820, between the Moderados and the Exaltados, became inevitable. If the influence of the Liberals of 1812 was preponderant in the Cortes, the Liberals of 1820 were the stronger in the clubs the press, and the streets. If the former disposed of the Administration, the latter relied upon the army of the Isla, which, strengthened by some regiments that had not participated in the military revolt, was still concentrated in Andalusia, and placed under the supreme command of Riego, Quiroga having been sent as a deputy to the Cortes. In order to break the stronghold of the Exaltados, the Marquis de Las Amarillas, Minister-of-War, disbanded the army of the Isla, Riego having before been removed from his troops on the pretext of being installed as Captain-General of Galicia. Hardly was the army of the Isla disbanded — the only military corps in Spain that deserved the name of an army — when the first Bands of the Faith were seen to appear in Castile and in the North of Spain.

Riego, secretly summoned by his partisans, on the 31st August suddenly appeared at Madrid, where he became the idol of the people, who received him with turbulent ovations and with an overflow of enthusiasm, which the Ministry viewed as a general calamity. They resolved upon exiling him to Oviedo — several other Isla officers being also banished to different places. Although Riego did not resist this arbitrary act of proscription, the Ministers, apprehending an insurrection as likely to break out upon his nocturnal departure from Madrid, called the garrison to arms, occupied the principal places, filled the streets of Madrid with artillery, while on the following day, Arguelles proposed in the Cortes that measures should be taken against popular assemblies, which was warmly supported by Toreno and Martinez de la Rosa. From this day, (Sept. 7, 1820), is to be dated the open rupture between the two Liberal fractions and the retrogression of the revolutionary movement. The same fanaticism of order, the same complaints of incessant agitation, and the same angry impatience at every symptom of popular effervescence, which Europe witnessed during the first weeks after the Revolution of 1848, now possessed at once the Liberal aristocracy and the higher ranks of the middle classes in the Peninsula.

The first session of the Cortes being closed on November 9, 1820, Ferdinand VII, who had retired to the Escorial, with Victor Sáez, his confessor, thought the moment opportune for putting out his feelers. In spite of the Constitution, he nominated, by a royal decree, without the counter-signature of a responsible minister, Gen. Carvajal as Captain-General of New-Castile and Commandant of Madrid, in the place of Gen. Vigodet, who, however, refused to resign his place into the hands of Carvajal. The Ministry, believing themselves lost, now appealed to the very party they had commenced by persecuting. They applied to the directors of the Clubs, and received, in the most gracious manner, the violent address of the Madrid Ayuntamiento, which insisted upon the King’s return to Madrid. A similar address was drawn up by the permanent Commission, who represented the Cortes during their absence. The garrison and the militia were put under arms; the sittings of the Clubs became permanent; the populace burst forth into insulting menaces against the King; insurrection was openly preached by the daily papers, and a mass expedition to the Escorial, to fetch the King, seemed imminent. Bending before the storm, Ferdinand revoked his offensive decree, dismissed his anti-liberal confessor, and returned, with his whole family, to Madrid, where he arrived on Nov. 21, 1820. His entry resembled that of Louis XVI, and his family, on their forced return from Versailles to Paris on October 6, 1789.

The Ministry had not obtained the support of the Liberals of 1820 without giving them due reparation, by removing the Marqués de las Amarillas, who afterward openly professed himself a zealous partisan of absolute monarchy, from the War Ministry, and by raising the Isia officers to separate commands. Riego was appointed Captain-General of Aragon, Mina, Captain-General of Galicia, and Velasco, Captain-General of Estremadura. The Ministry of the Martyrs, irresolutely floating between fear of reaction and alarm at anarchy, contrived to become equally discredited with all parties. As to the royal family, its position-to quote the words of a thorough Legitimist — “continued precarious, owing to the indiscreet zeal of the Royalists, which it became impossible to control.”

At the opening of the second session, (March 1, 1821), the King acted his part quite in the tone and with the gestures of a stump-orator. Not content with simply reciting the speech drawn up by his Cabinet, he puzzled the ministers, by altering their text in a revolutionary sense, and laying higher colors upon the most decisive passages, such as that relating to the invasion of Naples by Austria. For a moment they fancied they had made a convert of him, but were soon disabused. Ferdinand terminated his speech’ with a fulminant accusation of his own ministers, who had suffered him to be exposed to menace and insults, which would not have taken place, if the Government had displayed that energy and vigor required by the Constitution and desired by the Cortes.

The King’s constitutional speech was only the forerunner of the dismissal of the Ministry, and the nomination of a Cabinet which, to the great astonishment of the nation, contained not a single individual attached to the new institutions, or who had not figured as an agent of despotism in the former Government.

The chief of the new Cabinet, M. Felix, formerly a sublieutenant in a militia regiment of Lima, and Deputy to the Cortes of 1812 for Peru, was, even at the epoch of the Cadiz Cortes, known as a venal and subtle intriguer. Bardaji, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, was a former diplomatist connected with the heads of the absolutist Cabinets, and Pelegrin, formerly a member of the Council of Castile, boasted that he was entirely devoted to the Holy Alliance. The avowed aim of this Ministry, which could not even pretend to any influence in the Cortes, was “to restore order and suppress anarchy.” Accordingly, the Exaltados were again removed from their commands, and full sway was given to the servile party; the most important places were intrusted to men known for their hatred of the prevailing system, a vail being cast upon all the royalist conspiracies that had burst forth in the Peninsula, and their authors, nearly all imprisoned by the people, being set at liberty by the Government. Gen. Morillo, Count of Carthagena, had just arrived from Terra Firma, where he had rendered himself notorious for his ferocity, dictatorial manners, want of probity, and a six years fratricidal war, which he carried on with fanatical enthusiasm. On his return, he staid a few days at Paris, where he connected himself with the intrigues of the Pavilion Marsan, the ultra journals at Paris signalizing. him as the man who was to restore the King to his ancient rights, and destroy the influence of the Cortes. When he arrived at Madrid, the Ministry lavished on him the strongest expressions of deference and respect, and appointed him Commander of the City and Province of Madrid. It was apparently this nomination which the servile party waited for to execute a coup d'état. The Brigadier Don José Martinez San Martin, a man of inflexible energy and strong Legitimist opinions, was joined to Morillo in the quality of Jefe Politico of the capital. While Madrid seemed overawed by the terror of Morillo’s name, Catalonia and Galicia became the scenes of passionate contests. Cadiz, Seville and Badajoz broke out in open revolt, refused to admit the Government officers, and disclaimed acknowledging any royal orders unless the Ministry were dismissed. In a message dated Nov. 25, 1821, the King summoned the Cortes to check these disorders. The Cortes, in their answer, drawn up by Don José Maria Calatrava, blamed the conduct of Cadiz and Seville, but insisted upon the dismissal of the Ministry, who had lost the confidence of the country, and “the moral force to carry on Government.” Notwithstanding this vote of distrust, Ferdinand did not think fit to appoint another Ministry till forty-eight hours before the opening of the new Cortes on March 1, 1822.

The elections to the new Cortes having taken place at the moment when the popular passions were exaggerated by the counter revolutionary course of the Government, by the news of Austria’s armed interference to suppress the Spanish Constitution proclaimed at Naples, and by the plundering expeditions of the Bands of the Faith at different points of the Peninsula, the Liberals of 1820, then called Exaltados, had, of course, a large majority. “The large majority of the new Legislature,” says a Moderado “being possessed of nothing, had nothing to lose. They belonged almost exclusively to the plebeian ranks of the middle-class and the army. The difference between them and their predecessors may be understood from the single fact that, while the latter had appointed the Archbishop of Seville’ as their President, they, on their part, called to the presidential chair the hero of Las Cabezas — Don Rafael del Riego.

The new Ministry, consisting of Ex-Deputies to the Cortes of 1820, was formed by Martinez de la Rosa, who accepted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Martinez de la Rosa — who has since acted an important part under the reign of the innocent Isabella; formerly a Deputy to the short-lived Madrid Cortes of 1814; persecuted during the period of reaction; a Moderado par excellence., one of the most elegant Spanish poets and prosewriters — has proved at all epochs a true partisan of the doctrinaire school of the Guizots, the moderation of which gentlemen consists in their fixed notion that concessions to the mass of mankind can never be of too moderate a character. They exult in the erection of a liberal Aristocracy and the supreme rule of the Bourgeoisie, blended with the greatest possible amount of the abuses and traditions of the ancient régime. Martinez de la Rosa — overwhelmed with politeness, courted and flattered by the successive French Embassadors at Madrid-the Prince Laval de Montmorency and the Count Lagarde — aimed to modify the Constitution of 1812, by establishing a House of Peers — giving the King an absolute veto, introducing a property qualification for the Lower House, and laying restrictions upon the press. From 1834 to 1836 this incorrigible doctrinaire had the pleasure of witnessing the introduction and the downfall of the abortive Constitution he had hatched in 1822, The French diplomatists made him understand that the Court of the Tuileries would approve of institutions similar to those which then existed in France, while he flattered himself that the King would not be averse to a charter which had enabled Louis XVIII to do what he liked.> The King, on his part, cajoled the self-conceited Moderado, whom he intended, as was afterward proved, to send directly from the palace to the scaffold.

According to the plan concocted between the Camarilla and the Ministry, all conspiracies were to be winked at, and confusion was to be suffered to reign, so as, afterward, by the assistance of France, to introduce order, and give the nation a moderate Charter, capable of perpetuating power and influence in its original promoters, and winning over the privileged classes to the new system. Consequently, in opposition to the secret societies of the Liberals, a secret society was founded on moderate principles — the Society of the Anillo, the members of which were to act conjointly with the Ministry. Money was plentifully scattered among the Royal Life Guards, but these distributions being denounced to the Ministry by members of the municipal police, they ridiculed them, treating the information as a symptom of radicalism and republicanism. The regiment of the Royal Cuirassiers, cantoned in Andalusia, was completely seduced; alarming reports were spread in the different provinces whither were sent, as Political Chiefs, members of the Society of the Anillo. At the same time the tribunals received secret instructions to treat with great indulgence all conspiracies that might fall under their judicial powers. The object of these proceedings was to excite an explosion at Madrid, which was to coincide with another at Valencia. Gen. Elio, the traitor of 1814, then a prisoner in that town, was to put himself at the head of the counter-revolution in the eastern part of Spain, the garrison of Valencia being composed of only one regiment, greatly attached to Elio, and hostile, therefore, to the Constitutional system. The Deputy Bertrán de Lys, in the Assembly of the Cortes, entreated the Ministers to withdraw this body of soldiers from Valencia, and when they remained inflexible, brought in a motion of impeachment. The day appointed for the explosion was the last day of May (1822), the feast of St. Ferdinand. The Court was then at Aranjuez. On a given signal the guards rushed into the streets and, backed by the Aranjuez mob, assembled in the front of the palace, shouting cries of “Long live our absolute monarch! Down with the Constitution.” This riot was, however, instantly suppressed by Gen. Zayas, and the simultaneous revolt of the regiment of Valencia proved, after a bloody combat between the militia and the soldiers, no more successful. The failures of Aranjuez and Valencia served only to exasperate the Liberals. On all sides parties prepared for self-defense. The agitation becoming universal, the Ministers alone remained passive spectators in the midst of the confusion that announced an approaching storm.