« ForrigeFortsett »
aed by the adees of the lates. Meaneatest joy at the vify the Treaty of thout their consent Odrancing to meet pevince this imperious
they wderstood the real Want when lerdinand me Alished sleir own auth. Toled him to wopt,
012, to take the
was supplicated, in the most earnest terms, to annul all 1814. what had been done during his captivity, and to reign as his ancestors had done before him. The constitution was represented—and with truth—as the work of a mere revolutionary junta in Cadiz, in a great measure self-elected, and never convoked either from the whole country or according to the ancient constitution of the kingdom. There was not a municipality which did not hold this language as he passed through their walls; not a village which did not present to him a petition, signed by the most respectable inhabitants, to the same effect. The generals, the army, the garrisons, besieged him with addresses of the same description. The minority of the Cortes, consisting of sixty-nine members, presented a supplication beseeching the king to annul the whole pro-1 ceedings of their body, and to reign as his fathers had 108, 109; done. From one end of the kingdom to the other but 1814, 68; one voice was heard, that of reprobation of the Cortes Congrès de and the constitution, and prayers to the king to resume 26, 27.' the unfettered functions of royalty.1
Impelled in this manner by the unanimous voice of the nation, not less than his own secret inclination, to Decree of
Valencia, annul the constitution, and grasp anew the sceptre May 4, of bis ancestors, Ferdinand ventured on the decisive act. 814 On the 4th May 1814 appeared the famous decree of Valencia, which at once annulled the whole acts of the Cortes, and restored absolute government over the whole of Spain. In it the king, after recapitulating briefly the principal events which had occurred in the Peninsula since his treacherous seizure and captivity by Napoleon
in 1808, declared that he had, by a decree of 5th May on of government.
in that year, convoked the Cortes; but the French inva
sion prevented it from being assembled, and compelled the Delds it was one
several provinces to elect juntas, and severally provide for 18 : « Viva el Rey
their own defence. “ An extraordinary Cortes," said the
Lercise the power, of King Wined not o far as to prescribe the of Spain; is route to the capital,
t inerary be light, and the expressions be towns be Adresses he was expected was to use in ung Veat be turned aside AV receive. It
Von such taskj had the monarch set his foc ed the most unequivocal proof Wt in Spain when . the constitution was generally of the detestation stred at the subordinate agents old, and the univers intrusted the practical administer. So whom the Cortes on the frontier of Catalonia, to vo esses, the towns, the villages, the continual clamour against the con
hemin the fort
CHAP. monarch, “was subsequently convoked in the island of
Leon, when nearly the whole country was in the hands of
“ Nothing has consoled me amidst so many calamities, 31. King's de but the innumerable proofs of the loyalty of my faithful favour of subjects, who longed for my arrival, in the hope that it freedom, and promise might terminate the oppression under which they groaned,
or and restore the true happiness of the country. I promise
I swear to you, true and loyal Spaniards—that your hopes shall not be deceived. Your sovereign places his chief glory in being the chief of a heroic nation, which, by its immortal exploits, has won the admiration of the whole world, and at the same time preserved its own liberty and honour. I detest, I abhor despotism : it can never be reconciled neither with civilisation, or the lights of
* Members chosen in the Isle of Leon, to represent the provinces in the bands of the French.
chole ; most nstituovincial s estabstitution, Lover by :ation and and for
91. Fosce de constituike the Qath, at respectable
tution of the country have ever authorised despotism, 181
No words can describe the universal transport with
6 May 13.
of my the hope aithe ich they A that it stry. I pr o anes
that yo mise m places ur hopes ation, whi his
bis chief ration of th, by its ved its the whole votism: illin liberty non, or th can never
b onient transports
n at its in the this decree,
Provinces in the
CHAP, Restoration. The journey of Ferdinand from Valencia to
_ Madrid was the exact counterpart of that of Charles II.
from Dover to London, a hundred and fifty-three years before. It was a continual triumph. In vain the Cortes assumed a menacing aspect, and, in a tumultuous and stormy meeting, adopted the most violent resolutions to resist the royal authority, and to declare traitors, and punish as such, all who should aid the king in his criminal designs. Physical force was awanting to support their resistance. The troops which they sent out to withstand the royal cortège were the first to array themselves in its ranks, amidst loud cheers and cries of “ Viva el Rey Assoluto!” Everywhere the pillar of the constitution was overthrown and broken : enthusiastic crowds, wherever he passed on the journey to Madrid, saluted the returning monarch; and the Cortes, deserted by all, even their own ushers, in utter dismay fled across New Castile towards
Cadiz. Some remained, and were thrown into prison. It Martignac,
LCwas on the 13th May that the king, surrounded by a 1814, 70, Reg. loyal and enthusiastic crowd, which, as he approached the
"oyau 71; Cha-, capital, was swelled to above a hundred thousand persons, Congrès de and amidst the universal and heartfelt acclamations of his Vérone, i. 27, 28. subjects, entered Madrid, and reascended the throne of his
Thus fell the work of the Cortes — the Constitution 33. Reflections of 1812, the victim of its own violence, folly, and injuson this event, and tice. Happy if it had never been revived, and become,
lous in consequence of that very violence and injustice, the open to the daye watchword of the revolutionary party all over the world!
Hitherto the proceedings of the king had been entirely justifiable, and such as must command the assent of all the friends, not only of order, but of freedom, throughout the world. The constitution which had been overthrown was not only an object of horror to the vast majority of the nation, but had been imposed upon it by a small minority, whose ideas and designs were not less threatening to the interests than repugnant to the habits of the
the obvious : courses
people. It was the work of a self-elected knot of revo- CHAP. lutionists at Cadiz, whose object was to secure to them- selves the real government of the country, strip the Crown of all its prerogatives, and divide the whole offices and patronage of the country among themselves. The king had pledged his royal word that he would without delay assemble the Cortes, convoked according to the ancient laws and customs of the country, and with their aid commence the formation of laws and the reformation of abuses, which might secure the happiness of his subjects in both hemispheres. It was a matter of little difficulty in Spain, whatever it might be elsewhere, to effect such a reformation ; for its ancient constitutions contained all, cu
1 Chateaub. the elements of real freedom, and its inhabitants could Congrès de
Vérone, i. tread the path of improvement in the securest of all 18, 19." ways, without deviating into that of innovation.1 * But Ferdinand did not do this, and thence has arisen
34. boundless calamities to his country, lasting opprobrium to Ferdin himself. He resumed the sceptre of his ancestors and measures.
despotic reigned as an absolute monarch ; but he forgot all the pro- lishment of
Re-estabmises, so solemnly made, to reign with the aid of a Cortes the In assembled according to the ancient laws and customs of the realm. He fell immediately under the direction of a camarilla composed of priests and nobles, who incessantly represented to him that there could in Spain be no constitutional government, and that the only way to secure either the stability of the throne or the welfare of the
. It is a curious and instructive circumstance how it was that the ancient elements of freedom were lost in Spain ; Chateaubriand thus explains it: « Les premières auxquelles les députés du Tiers assistèrent, furent celles de Léon en 1188 : cette date prouve que les Espagnols marchaient à la tête des peuples libres. Peu à peu les bourgeois fatigués laissaient le souverain payer leurs mandataires, et désigner les villes aptes à la députation. Douze cités seulement en obtinrent le droite Charles V. tyran, naturellement ligué avec son collègue cet autre tyran, le peuple, éleva les villes représentées à vingt: mais en même temps, dans la réunion de Tolède, en 1535, il retrancha pour toujours des Cortès le Clergé et la Noblesse. Les rois, débarrassés du joug des Cortès, furent contraints de s'en imposer d'autres. Des conseils ou des conseillers dirigeaient la monarchie."-CHATEAUBRIAND, Congrès de Vérone, tom. 19. See also Historia d'España, viii. 471. Madrid, 1851.