« AnteriorContinuar »
calumnies which the author employs for the sake, as he conceives, of effect. Though the Inquisition, for instance, deserves no mercy, as an establishment, the inquisitors should not be put out of the pale of humanity, especially in our times, when it is well known that they never used wanton cruelty. To assert in a book solemnly introduced as a faithful narrative of facts, that the author saw the prisoners knocked down' by the members of the holy tribunal, and that his own food was mixed with drugs,' would deserve the most indignant reproof, if it were not evident that these are mere shifts of distressed invention; the grimace and distortion of a common mind, feverish and distracted, in the search of something that may petrify the reader.*
As Sandoval is evidently written with a political design, every thing that malice can devise has been vented in it against the king of Spain. We will not undertake to defend the conduct of Ferdinand's government towards the supporters of the constitution of Cadiz as a party. We are fully persuaded that it would have been greatly in favour of the crown, and much to the credit of the person who holds it, if the solemn promises which were made to the Constitutionalists at Cadiz, before the king was set at liberty to join the army of the Duke d’Angoulême, had been religiously kept. In obliging the whole party of Constitutionalists to fly to this and other countries, Ferdinand has lost to himself and to Spain some men whose presence must have been of great advantage to both. The number of such men is not great; but their being involved in the fate of the other exiles gives weight and respectability to a party that would enjoy very little of either without them. But it has been the misfortune of Spain that the contending parties, since the invasion of Napoleon, have acted in regard to each other with the most bitter rancour. The desperate state of the country induced some of the most enlightened and honest men to join the government of Joseph; that since, as they thought, they could not prevent his usurpation, they might turn it, by their efforts, to the benefit and improvement of their nation. . Some of these men were so conscious of the purity of their intentions, that they would not fly when the French armies were forced to quit Spain. The treatment which they met with was horrible; and their friends, who had taken refuge in France, soon learnt to give up all hopes of mercy from
* The book, we must say, is conceived in a thoroughly bad spirit. The night-scene at the inn of Logroño cannot be read to a modest female, and the description of the dance of prostitutes and cut-throats, at the Lavapies, (it should be Avapies,) is gross and disgusting in the extreme. We need make no comment on the statement of a Spaniard,' that the Ladies of Madrid are in the habit of intriguing with the ruffians of its St. Giles's !
the constitutional government. A similar conduct has been observed by Ferdinand in regard to the friends of the Cortes. Among the supporters of a limited monarchy are men of the brightest talents and honesty; men, whose detestation of the principles which have ruined their cause—if the madness of the Exâltados can by any liberty of language be called principle--whose conviction of the fatal results of the secret associations, defended and painted en beau in Sandoval, were and are as strong as those of the staunchest Royalists. A general amnesty in both cases would have preserved those two masses of talent, now improved by experience, to a country, which, though possessed of the most active and abundant intellect, suffers under a lamentable dearth of practical judgment in political matters. Numbers of more or less worthless individuals would, indeed, in both cases have remained in the country; but a little watchfulness, and the moral strength which the government must have gained by the liberality of such measures, would have more than overbalanced the danger consequent on their presence. But envy, jealousy, and ignorance, and the shortsightedness of passion, acted with their usual violence. A considerable proportion of the most honourable, learned and intelligent Spaniards
are wandering in poverty and bereavement from all they love. These would have supported the throne with their heart and soul, if the throne had not been identified with despotism. These would have remained quiet in the country even under a despotic government, when they saw the hopelessness of establishing a more moderate constitution. But they are persecuted with no less violence than those who openly called for the death of the king and the establishment of a federative republic. What are the consequences? one is that such works as Don Esteban and Sandoval are published as expressing the sense of the whole body of Spanish exiles ; thus adding fuel to the already violent flame of political hatred which devours the unfortunate Spanish nation, and affording the absolute government the most feasible pretexts for its continued violence against the Liberales. We do not intend to indulge in declamation when we say that these pernicious works present a very plausible apology for the past conduct of Ferdinand VII. towards the Constitutionalists; and that if they have any effect at all in Spain, it must be that of precluding for a long time the chance of any relaxation in the royal system of action in relation to that party.
The picture of the King personally, which these two works exhibit without the least disguise to the English public, is so evidently dictated by a rancorous hatred, that it cannot but become suspicious to every candid reader. That the education which Ferdinand received in the profligate court of his mother, mu
have had results unfavourable to his character and temper, is in the natural course of moral causes and effects. A slave in his boyhood and youth, a daily sufferer from intrigue and dissoluteness, the moment he dreamt himself an absolute king, like his ancestors, he found himself, by an unheard of treachery, in the hands of a man who treated him with the greatest indignity and confined him to a retired mansion, where he intended to keep him for life, increasing by every means his moral and political degradation. A most extraordinary combination of events broke his chains: but, when most elated with the returning joys of liberty and a throne, he found his way barred up and obstructed by those very subjects from whom he had been taught to expect unbounded obedience as his birth-right. Had those subjects been unanimous, or even equally divided, for the constitution, as it then existed, or for adding strength to the crown under a constitutional charter, it is probable that he would have willingly submitted to the surrender of part of his inheritance of power. But instead of unanimity, he found himself immediatelysurrounded by the nobility, the clergy, and the best part of the army, who urged him to resume his former authority and annihilate the constitution, now become odious to a great majority of the nation. The violence, the injustice, the cruelty of his partizans against the adherents of the constitutional government made him odious. As is often the case, perceiving that he was hated, he added fresh motives to that feeling. Sandoval discloses the extensive plots which were formed to depose Ferdinand and disinherit his brothers. Lodges of Freemasons were established for that purpose, not only in the Peninsula, but in London! Conspiracies were set on foot, victims fell, and blood sealed the eternal hatred of both parties. And now, when both sides were most goaded and incensed with mutual wrongs, the accidental discontent of an army placed Ferdinand in the hands of the constitutional party: not however in its original purity of intention, but mixed up
with men of a very different stamp-people accustomed to work in secret and to spare no means that could conduce to their object. At this period the state of the king's mind became, to an attentive observer, most strongly marked by a settled suspicion of all mankind. We know that there were those near him at one time that were his real friends; but he could not bring himself to trust them. Unable to show his real feelings, he let himself fall as a dead weight upon the hands of the constitutional ministers, delighting in their difficulties, and rejoicing at the obstacles which the new men--the men of eighteen hundred and twenty, i. e. the promoters of the mutiny of the troops of the Isla in that
year-opposed to the men of eighteen hundred and twelve,* or the founders of the constitution. He was aware that the constitutional government, as it was at that time, would work its own ruin: and hated equally the two parties who by their dissension were paving the way for his emancipation.
Such we conceive to be the outli of Ferdinand's mental history. Nor is it to be wondered, that in such a state of mind, and familiarized with the prevalent sensuality of his court, he should often be guilty of gallantries which are too lightly thought of among the generality of Spaniards. The authors before us, however, not content with representing him in Don Esteban as a faithless husband, introduce him boldly and broadly in the action of their second fable as a ruffian accustomed to use physical force for the gratification of his passions.
Our limits prevent the insertion of a scene of barbaric pomp in which the company of authors have lavished their united powers of wild invention, unchecked by either a regard to probability or taste. It is a déjeuné given by the Duchess of Ossuna to Ferdinand, under strong suspicions, if we attend to inuendoes, that it was expressly intended by the duchess to offer an opportunity to the king of committing a rape upon the heroine of the novel. As a description of all the ancient amusements of the Spanish nobility, of which there is still any remnant, was to be inserted in this part of the book, and the scene of Ferdinand's brutal violence could not well be laid in broad daylight, it was necessary to prolong the déjeûné. Four-and-twenty hours, beginning at four o'clock in the morning, are therefore apportioned to the uninterrupted amusements of the Duchess of Ossuna's breakfast company. During this ample time, the Freemason hero, by means of a wig, succeeds so effectually in disguising himself, that, though outlawed and in danger of his life, he makes one of the party at the same table with the king of Spain; challenges a gentleman, who being a royalist is, of course, an arrant coward; has a long tête-à-tête with his beloved Gabriela, without being known to her; gives his arm for a long time to her mother, and even ventures to contradict the old lady, all without exciting the least suspicion. Night comes on: Artimaña leads Gabriela to a retired tent; the king follows, and Sandoval dogs them all in his magic wig. Screams are heard coming from the tent; the Freemason implores the assistance of some ladies, who happen to be the king's sisterin-law and her attendants : Gabriela's honour is saved, while Sandoval flies at Artimaña's throat, who in self-defence pulls off the hero's wig-and, alas! the charm being broken, he is instantly
* Hombres del año veinte. Hombres del año doce. VOL. XXXIV. NO. LXVIII.
recognized. recognized. Yet the hue and cry which is raised proves ineffectual, and Sandoval is most fortunately preserved for his historians' literary wants, though he walks in a court dress a considerable distance on the road to Madrid—we forget the exact number of miles.
Now the question, with every sensible reader, must be, whether the king's conduct, represented in this scene, is copied from reality, or whether the representation is merely the effect of the author's venomous spite against him.
That such horrible scandal was industriously propagated by the most violent of the Constitutional party, we doubt not. We have lived at Madrid, in times when people hardly ventured a whisper against the court; and yet even then, such is the greediness with which the most improbable reports are received where there is no real liberty of mental intercourse, when Ferdinand's first wife (a daughter of his uncle the late king of Naples) died, it was rumoured that her death was the effect of poison. The suspicion was grounded upon the fact that the body had been opened, and a description of the immediate cause of her death given in the gazette! The credit which the story of the rape in Sandoval deserves, will be illustrated by the style in which an if possible more atrocious accusation is brought forward in Don Esteban.-We should premise that the passage is preceded by an account of a quarrel between Ferdinand and his wife, on account of an alleged amour with the daughter of a Spanish apothecary.
On the 27th December, having just returned from the promenade, she (the queen) was seized with one of her fits; and the physicians who attended, being of opinion that she was dead, determined to perform an operation to save the infant. This was actually done with the king's consent, only five hours after she had been seized with the fit!--The Camarera Mayor, who was present, affirmed, that, while it was performing, she saw her shudder!' Observe the wording, the pointing, and the conclusion of the paragraph, and what can be inferred? The queen was not dead when the operation was performed: this the author gives as an unquestionable fact: he implies blame to the king for giving his consent for the opening only five hours after the beginning of the apparent death. He therefore supposes that the king knew she was alive. What can we then think of the opinion given by the king's physicians?— It is true that the ignorance which appears in the passage is worthy of a clown; but can that ignorance excuse the intention with which it is written?
Were we to collect all the traits of villainy, cowardice, venality, pi y, hypocrisy, and impiety which are attributed to the