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1856. Spain. .
provincialism, to the exigencies of a national The government of Espartero fell, it
must be remembered, not simply under the
would have formed a splendid epoch in the Art. VIII.-L'Espagne et ses Derniers domestic history of Spain,-been attained,
Evènements. Par M, GABRIEL Hugel- in 1856, in any considerable degree, that
Government would certainly not now have
been overthrown. Two years constitute WHATEVER be the duration of the Duke an ample period as a test, not indeed of inof Valencia's Ministry — and it is even stitutions themselves, but of the problem possible that the Government will be bro- whether these institutions can be effectually ken up while these pages are in the press— reformed by the individuals who undertake it is clear that the immediate future of the policy of their reconstruction. The Spain will continue to involve a policy of Duke of Victory's administration, it will reaction from the liberalism of Espartero, be remembered, addressed itself, from first so far as concerns the Constitution of the to last, to three cardinal points. These Stare; but it is at present impossible to were- -1. The establishment of a new poli· predict whether or not that reaction will tical and municipal constitution; 2. A set
permanently extend to the social reforms tlement of the relations of the army to the and material improvements of the nation. National Guard on such terms as should The resumption by the late government, afford a guarantee of political liberty; 3. under certain modifications, of the Constitu- The prosecution of extensive material retional policy of 1815, both in its political forms by the aid of a confiscation and sale and municipal relations, and the final sup- of the property then vesting in the Church. presssion of a National Guard, previously During the whole period of the Espartero depressed by the influence of O'Donnell in Government, the prosecution of this triple the Cabinet of Espartero, which have re-policy was exposed to perpetual misadvenstored the centralizing policy of the Mode- ture. The Provisional Constitution of rado Chiefs, are definitive facts, and such as 1854 wholly failed to establish a permawill scarcely be affected by any immediate nent organization for the State; and its change in the administration at Madrid. discussions daily declined from public conBut the question of a prosecution of the troversies into private quarrels. The Nasocial and material reforms originally indi- tional Guard was never constituted as an cated by the Duke of Victory's Govern- effective popular force, and so far were the ment-directly involved as it is in the sales material reforms in contemplation of the of ecclesiastical property at this moment Progresista Government from being earsuspended by the Crown-is one on which nestly commenced after two years of adthe late administration was notoriously at ministration, that the sales of ecclesiastical issue, and on which it is probable that nei- property, which formed the first condition ther the existing Ministers, nor the proxi- of their accomplishment, were, in 1856, mate candidates for power, are united in not less contested in theory than unaccomopinion.
plished in fact. These circumstances supThe cause of this altered phasis in the ply, of course, no sort of justification for immediate politics of Spain, is to be found the stroke of policy which supplanted Esin the fact that while neither the dissolved partero by O'Donnell. But they serve to Constitution of 1854, nor the dissolved explain the decline of enthusiasm into apaNational Guard, were so far satisfactory thy towards the Government of 1854, and institutions as to command the ardent sym- that withdrawal of national support which pathies of the people, the question of the sapped the foundations of the Progresista ecclesiastical sales is sustained in its origi- power.
The immediate consequence of nal vitality by the conflict of the increasing these events is the total disorganization of poverty of the Government, with the reas- the liberal party in the State ; and the reserted claims of the Romish Alliance. lapse of Spain into a comparatively despo
It is probable, therefore, that the division tic régime forms, in such a country, the inof opinion upon this subject among those evitable recoil from a reforming policy that who are agreed on Constitutional questions, has failed. will maintain a wide theatre of political The probable postponement of the eleccontest, without disturbing at present the tions under the new constitution until the existing organization of the State. spring of 1857, and the presumptive ac
quiescence in other measures of the late and forms at this day the archetype of the self-
The Spanish priesthood was then comIt may be well, perhaps, in order to ar- monly represented as altogether vitiated rive at a just conception of the conditions and demoralized. That this demoralization on which alone material reforms are likely may have been increased by the comparato be based in Spain, to glance at the histo- tive destitution to which that body were ry of this alienation of ecclesiastical pro- subjected by political sequestrations, it is, perty, which, if applied to our own country no doubt, fair to presume; but it can hardly -perhaps the only really Conservative be questioned that if they had not already empire of Europe-would be viewed as the lost the sanctity of their religious character, last triumph of infidelity and social disor- they would have been originally supported ganization. So completely alien are the by public opinion against a policy of sporelations of parties in Spain from those liation which did not take effect against the recognised in England, that this very se- secular clergy, at least until the cessation of questration and sale of the property of the the commotions incident upon
the civil wars. Church, which it is now the fashion of the This policy, moreover, it must be rememModerados to decry as a revolutionary bered, was pursued by successive Adminisscheme, is a measure which they first sanc-trations, chiefly with the view of maintaintioned in theory, and which they initiated ing the direct expenses of government, after in fact.
the pecuniary and commercial exhaustion It happens, moreover, that a signal pre which domestie conflict had produced. The cedent to this policy is to be found in the prosecution of the sequestrations was arrestsequestrations of Hungarian Church propered by the first Ministry of Narvaez. With ty in 1809, by one of the first acts of the return, therefore, of Espartero to office Prince Metternich's administration, which in 1854, there yet remained a considerable
share of ecclesiastical property not yet alient- alone could render justice to all classes of ated by the State. It then became the the nation. Duke of Victory's aim to resume, with a In the issue, then, of this question, much view to a prosecution of material reforms, of the future of Spain is involved. If the the sequestrations which preceding Ministries remainder of the ecclesiastical property be had pursued, with a view to a discharge of the alienated, we do not believe, when we conordinary expenses of public administration. sider the application of that remainder at
In here analyzing the principles of a ques- the present day—and even if we suppose tion which still appears to arrogate the the Church in Spain to be a less corrupt inforeground in the immediate politics of stitution than it really is--that religious inSpain, these two considerations must be terests will sensibly suffer. If, on the conheld in view : first, that whatever may be trary, the sequestrations be permanently the moral authority of the State over pro- suspended, it is wholly impossible that perty held by institutions which it professes those reforms, the want of which render the to maintain, the State had, in 1854, already condition of Spain an anomaly, without a acted upon a recognition of this authority parallel among the States of Europe, can in a degree which then at least rendered its be effectually carried out. The question, in policy irreversible in fact; and, secondly, fact, may almost be represented as a questhat the advance in this respect in the policy tion of civilisation. of Espartero upon that of his predecessors, It will here, then, be our double object to consisted simply in reducing the anomaly demonstrate the real necessities of Spain, presented by the antagonism of a rising in regard to the elements and constitution principle of State-payment, and a declining of the Government, and to the reforms and principle of territorial possession, into a improvements of the nation, independently uniform system consonant to the genius of of its political system. It will then be seen, recent legislation. It must be borne in that even the Ministry of Espartero never mind, that the principle at issue had been vir- attempted to cope with these evils in their tually conceded by all parties in the State. full extent. Many of them, no doubt, lie For although it may be true that the prin too deeply in the social system of Spain for ciple of sequestration applied by the Pro- any single administration to check. But we gresistas towards the secular revenues, was shall attempt to show, that there still exist initiated by the Moderados in 1835, as elements of political reconstruction in that against the property of the regular orders country which have never yet been called alone, it is impossible, in a country exclu- into action, and form the only means at sively Catholic, to dissociate the rights of once of durable government and permanent regular from those of secular ccclesiastics. reform. In England, on the contrary, at the period In reference, then, in the first place, to of the Reformation, the two questions were the elements of government in Spain, the altogether distinct, because the antecedent evils incident to the existing system may be Protestantism of the State had already resolved into two principal classes—the one ignored the regular orders as an essential as arising from a total absence of the ordipart of an ecclesiastical establishment. But nary restraints of political morality, and the the Roman Catholic Church, which the State, other as resulting from the glaring disharin Spain, alone professes to recognise, ac- mony between the principles of the constituknowledges, of course, no such distinction. tion, and the social and national predilecThe questions, therefore, as they related to tions of the people. So far as concerns the the two bodies, were identical in point of first of these classes, Spain exhibits the anosanctity and right.
maly of a State more or less constitutional There can be no doubt that an establish- in fact, in which the principle of moral aued Church, still recognised by the State, thority is nevertheless subordinated to the deserved a far securer provision for the principle of political revolution. The forms payment of the revenues which were assign- of popular government, on the one hand, ed to it, in place of its former territorial even when extended to their utmost length, rights, than it actually obtained. But we have rarely conciliated the hostility of the are confident, whatever may have been the people to the State: and on the other, corruptions of the preceding ministry of they have almost always proved unable Sartorius, that the Government of Espar- either to extinguish intrigue, to check tero sincerely addressed itself to those ma- tyranny, or to avenge corruption. In the terial improvements of the nation, which course of the following observations, we shall while their adoption involved no new advert to the principal springs of action principle of spoliation were necessary which maintain this political demoralization conditions of an ultimate prosawit
The antagonism to which we here allude, most apparent contradiction between the between the constitution of the Government Progresista and Moderado constitutions, inand the character of the people, has a far somuch as the former maintained, and the wider application than as regards the mere latter depressed the system of local governdifference in the successive systems of polity ment, But this difference, however great in that have been introduced during the reign its results on the actual polity of the State, of Isabella. Each of these systems, with was in effect of a scarcely more than formal a great difference undoubtedly in degree, character. Under either system, Madrid has been based upon a scheme of centraliza. became the spring of government-the Protion, from which the national idiosyncrasy of gresistas governed the empire through the each province involuntarily recoils. The local institutions, and the Moderados governProgresistas, indeed, appear more nearly ed without them. By the action of these of the two to have rendered the political local institutions—which, as we shall see, system the reflex of the nation itself. But, they almost entirely coerced—the Progreswhile the Moderados excluded all freedom, ista government of the day made head against they, on the other hand, excluded all order, the Moderados throughout the country. and all fairness in representation. Both By suppressing those institutions—and by were purely partisan systems, conceived replacing their moral influence in favour of respectively in the interest of the two poli. liberalism by an increased military forcetical parties which centred at Madrid. Of the Moderado government made head the four systems which have subsisted dur- against the popular power. ing the last nineteen years—and which alone It is obvious, therefore, that under the have any practical relation to the present rule of either party nothing could be more time—the Liberal constitution of 1837 was alien from the true acceptation of the term supplanted by the Moderado constitution of " Conservatism” than the political institu1845; and that system was ultimately re- tions of the Spanish provinces. If it had placed by the Provisionary constitution of been customary for the larger landholders 1854, which, in turn, has given way to the of Spain to live upon their
property, instead scheme of polity recently proclaimed by the of squandering their revenues either in O'Donnell administration. Thus, it was the Madrid or in foreign capitals, these conflicts, aim of the policy of 1854 to restore, in great in reference to the principles of municipal degree, the system of 1837, and it is the aim and provincial government, would have asof the policy of 1856 to restore the system sumed a very different shape. Whatever of 1815. During the struggle of the last change had taken place in the former, the two years between liberty and repression, contest in reference to the latter would have the constitutions of 1837 and 1845 were the rested between the democratic and the arisonly practicable antecedents. The Carlists tocratic, or territorial element. The local and Semi-Carlists who were ranged upon counterpoise of the two parties would in that one extreme, in advance of the Moderados, case have been perpetually maintained, and the Republicans, and Exaltado-Progres- while the Moderado administrations would istas, who were ranged upon the other, in have been at once less corrupt, more temadvance of the Progresistas, are now collect- perate, and more secure. But through the ively exerting less influence in Spain than contrast between the progress of the towns either the Progresistas or the Moderad us and the indigence of the country, the aristoalone. A revival, therefore, of the constitu- cratic element remained dormant. The tion of 1812—which consisted of a rabble Moderados accordingly pursued a policy of organization-is equally impracticable with despotism in the provinces, and a policy of a pure despotism.
conciliation at Madrid. Of the two domiBoth the system of 1837 and that of 1845 nant parties in the state, the one rendered --between an assimilation to one or other of the Crown a corrupt dictatorship—the other which government in Spain appears likely to a mob monarchy. oscillate—were chargeable with this capital Under such constitutions, it is clear that deficiency, that they ignored the great fact their distinction, in regard to the benefit or that Spain was still an aggregation of nations, the injury that they may entail, lies chiefly in as completely distinct in their social and the character of the individuals invested with political prepossessions as in the period in the charge of public administration. So which they constituted separate states. Un- long as the difference between good and bad der neither constitution was there any at- ministers more than countervails the differtempt to recognise in Government the idio-ence between the terms of a Moderado and syncrasies of single provinces, and still less a Progresista constitution, and until a more to effect any kind of harmony in the general beneficial polity can be established, the acelements of power. There was, indeed, altual form of government can be of little
consequence. The popularity enjoyed by on the payment of taxes. In virtue of these Espartero in 1854 was by much more the precautions, the Provincial Deputations conresult of his personal character than of his sisted of respectable persons and not of political opinions.
mere adventurers. But they were still The principles, however, at issue between political partisans. The Progresista Govthe constitutions of 1837 and of 1845, so fully ernment at Madrid aimed at little more involve the vital questions in dispute at this than to make them the instruments of their day between the popular and monarchical own power. To aim at governing despotiparties in the State, that their history may cally in the name of liberty is a charge be viewed as an illustration of the evils which political rancour has sometimes adwhich a prosecution of either policy must duced—but most falsely adduced—against embrace. It may be well, then, to glance the Whig administrations that have lately at the character and the actual working of the existed in this country. No governments, constitution of 1837, to which the Liberal perhaps, ever carried out, both in theory party, since their discomfiture in July last, and in practice, measures more really lineappear to be growing desirous to recur. It ral than the Whig ministries. But that may be fairly doubted whether the temper charge, which was false as applied to Great of the Spanish people, in 1837, admitted of Britain under the Whigs, was essentially the formation of a better scheme of polity true as applied to Spain under the Prothan that which was then actually carried out. gresistas. Over each province, and in But it will be seen that those circumstances immediate subordination to the Minister of do not apply to the present state of the na- the Interior, an executive officer, termed the tion.
Gefe Politico, was placed in authority. His This Constitution established three distinct relations to the Provincial Deputation bore organizations of popular authority. These the nearest resemblance, among our own inconsisted, first of the Ayuntamientos, or stitutions, to those of a Colonial Governor Municipal Chambers, whose jurisdiction ex- towards the legislative assembly of a nomitended over each town or district, --second- nally self governing colony. Whether or ly, the Provincial deputations, whose autho- not these relations were clearly defined by rity was usually co-extensive with the law, we do not at this moment recollect. provinces severally,--and thirdly, the House But it was always the policy of the Gefe Poliof Deputies in the Córtes, or Central Legis- tico, under the direct instrumentality of the lature. In regard to the first of these insti. Government at Madrid, to trench upon the tutions, the Ayuntamientos, the elections functions of the Provincial Deputations until were regulated by household, and therefore all independent action was eliminated from almost by universal suffrage. The result of their constitution. The influence of the this system was often similar to what has Gefe—who was always the nominee of the been lately witnessed in Kansas. When-Government was paramount; and the ever an election was contested, law gave rights thus conceded to the people in theory way to force, and force accordingly carried became rights absorbed by the Government the day. The most clamorous agitators in practice. were thus generally chosen as the Alcaldes, The jurisdiction of these assemblies, thus or executive officers, of the towns and dis- virtually exercised by the Gefe, was just of tricts. The freshness of these events in the that character that favoured the absolutism mind of the Spanish people probably forms of the Central Power. They were charged the reason of their acquiescence without a with the superintendence,-first of local admurmur in the recent decree which, in res ministration, and, secondly, of the elections toring the chief provisions of the Constitu- to the Córtes. They exercised, in fact, the tion of 1815, provides that in all towns functions of irresponsible revising barristers possessing a population of 40,000, the nomi- before the elections took place, and of comnation of Alcaldes shall vest in the Crown. mittees of our House of Commons on preSo far as this measure is concerned, the sentation of petitions against the Candidates acquiescence of the respectable classes arises returned. Not content with erasing the rather from a pacific than from a servile name of a hostile voter from the lists, they character.
disfranchised without scruple, and on the The composition of the Provincial Depu- most frivolous pretexts, such districts as retations was free in many respects from the turned members to the Córtes opposed to the errors of the municipal polity. The suffrage, policy of the Government. Moreover, the which was a comparatively restricted one, Spanish system of representation embraced was analogous to that which regulated elec- that method of double, or indirect election, tions to the Córtes. Unlike the municipal that is now the bane of several of the German suffrage, its exercise was made dependent Constitutions. Whatever, then, may be our