« ForrigeFortsett »
Chap. fearful of defection, Quiroga and General Freyre had VI1' long ceased to combat each other, but by proclamations 1820* and invitations to the soldiers on either side to abandon their colours and range themselves under the banners of their opponents. But in this wordy warfare the royalists had the advantage; the words of honour and loyalty did not resound in vain in Spanish ears, and although defection was experienced on both sides, it was soon apparent that the balance was decidedly against the liberal host. Their numbers were at last reduced to four thousand men; Jifjgi^fe while their opponents, under Freyre, independent of the Biog. Unw! garrison of Cadiz, were three times that number; and this 120; Mar-' little band was so discouraged as to be incapable of ilffim. attempting any of those bold steps which alone, in a protracted war of rebellion, can reinstate a falling cause.1 But while the cause of the revolution seemed to be insure- thus sinking, and to have become well-nigh hopeless in ronlia'an^ tne south, the flame burst forth simultaneously in several in Navarre. other quarters, and at length involved the whole Peninsula in conflagration. The blow struck at Cadiz resounded through the whole of Spain. Everywhere the movement was confined to the officers of the army and a few citizens in the seaport towns; but in them it took place so simultaneously as to reveal the existence of a vast conspiracy, directed by a central authority which embraced the whole Feb. 21. Peninsula. On the 21st February, the day after Vanegaz, the new Captain-general of Galicia, had arrived at Corunna, an insurrection broke out among the officers of that fortress, who surprised Vanegaz, when disarmed and incapable of making any resistance; and on his refusal to place himself at the head of the movement, made him a prisoner, and conducted him with all his staff to the Fort of St Antonio, where they were placed in confinement. The Constitution of 1812 was immediately proclaimed, the gates closed, the drawbridges raised, and the revolution effected in an hour, without any resistance. A provisional junta was established; the prisons were broken open,
and their inmates liberated; a sergeant named Chacon, Chap. "who had denounced Porlier, massacred, and his widow, v"' sobbing with grief, carried in triumph amidst revolutionary 1820shouts through the streets. The insurrection spread to Fcrrol, where the military revolted, and proclaimed the constitution on the 23d; Vigo declared on the 24th ; Feb. 23. Pontevedra on the 26th; and at the end of a week, with I'eb-24" the exception of St Iago, where the troops remained steady, the whole of Galicia had hoisted the standard of the constitution. Saragossa shortly after followed the Feb. 24. example, and there the insurrection assumed a more serious aspect by being under the direction of Don Martin de Garay, the former Finance Minister, who had'been dis- Feb. 25. graced. Mina, at the same time, reappeared on the Huto^o?j frontiers of Navarre, which he entered with a few fol- S'^.YaoT" lowers. He immediately proclaimed the constitution, JS^jj^j and being joined by some soldiers, made himself master ffP^t of the important cannon foundry at Aizzabal, and lent to 255,25s*; the cause of insurrection the aid of a name which still i. mfm. spoke to the hearts of the patriotic throughout Spain.1
The intelligence of these repeated and general defections excited the utmost consternation in the Court of Revolution Madrid; and the conduct of the King and CabinetSL^g'1' evinced that vacillation which, as it is the invariable "n**?*t8u.t,ie mark of weakness in presence of danger, so it is the usual jjjJJJ^. precursor of the greatest public calamities. At first the most vigorous measures were resolved on. General Elio was recalled from Valencia to organise the means of defence in the capital, and a corps hastily assembled to move against the insurgents in Galicia, of which the Conde d'Abisbal was appointed commander. But vain are all attempts of government to make head against treason when their own officers and soldiers are the traitors. Unknown to them, the Conde d'Abisbal had already concerted with the chiefs of the conspiracy at Madrid, and with his brother Alexander O'Donnell, who commanded a regiment stationed at Ocana, the plan of a general
VOL. 11. E
Chap. insurrection, which was to embrace all the troops in Old _ and New Castile, and compel the king to accept the 1820- constitution. In pursuance of this plan, the Conde left March 3. Madrid on the 3d March, to take the command of the troops destined to act against Galicia; but, like Ney in 1815, instead of doing so, he no sooner arrived at Ocafia, nine leagues from Madrid, where his brother's regiment was stationed, which had been prepared for the outbreak, than he harangued the troops, proclaimed the constitution, threw the magistrates into prison, and formed a Provisional Junta, subordinate to that of Galicia. The news of this defection at once brought matters to a crisis in Madrid. A general disquietude, which the police were no longer able to restrain, appeared among the lower orders in the capital. Many attempts were made to raise again the pillar of the constitution; the regular troops deserted by companies to the side of the populace, and the barracks became the scene of mutinous "transport and revolutionary enthusiasm. The Puerto del Sol, since so famous in revolution, was filled with tumultuous mobs loudly demanding the constitution. Symptoms of disaffection even appeared among the Guards, and the officers of that chosen corps were among the first to attempt the raising the pillar of the constitution. In this extremity the cabinet sat permanently; and at length, seeing that no means of resistance remained, they resolved, on the advice of General Ballasteros, who was inclined to liberal opinions, to yield. On the 7th March, the Madrid Gazette contained a decree convoking the Cortes, and declaring the king's resolution to do every1 Ann.Hist, thing which the good and wishes of his people demanded, tio; riiSf.' " who have given me so many proofs of their loyalty."1 Ym-'w^" This was followed the next day by a decree declaring iffibi. that, "to avoid the delays which might arise in the Mei. dei execution of the decree pronounced yesterday for the
Gen. Mina, . .' « « <■
ii. 273,279. immediate convocation of the Cortes, and the general will of the people (la voluntad general del pueblo) being pronounced, I have resolved to swear to the constitution Chap.
promulgated by the general and extraordinary Cortes in L_
Thus fell the despotic government of Ferdinand VII. in Spain, the work of the nobles and the priests over- r ''
thrown by the army and the populace. If little was to volution? be expected of a government framed by the first, still less was to be augured of its overthrow by the last. Stained in its origin with treachery in the army, and treason by the officers even in the highest commands, the movement was brought about, and rendered for the time inevitable, by the revolt of the soldiery, and their abandonment of the oaths they had taken, and the sovereign under whose banners they were enrolled. History can find no apology for such conduct. The first duty of all persons in authority, whether civil or military, is to discharge the functions intrusted to them, and defend their sovereign with the powers which he has committed to their administration. If that sovereign has become despotic, and violated the rights of his subjects, that may be a good reason for throwing up their offices, and in extreme cases, where no other remedy is practicable, joining the ranks of the insurgents, but it is never for deserting a trust while still holding it. Even the splendid abilities of Marlborough, and the glorious career of Ney, have not been able to wipe out the stain affixed by such treachery on their memory. Many honourable and noble men have suffered death for high treason, and their descendants have gloried, and shall glory, in their fate; but none ever pointed with exultation to success gained by breach of trust. We might well despair of the fortunes of the human race if the fair fabric of freedom was to be reared on such a foundation.
Such as it was, however, the overthrow of the Spanish monarchy was too important an event not to rouse to the very highest degree the spirit of revolutionary ambition, not only in Spain, but over all Europe. Its effects are
Chap. still felt in both hemispheres. Being the first instance v u' in which democracy had gained a decided victory since
1820- its terrible overthrow in 1814 and 1815, it made a
Rapid ad- prodigious sensation, and everywhere excited the hopes thTrevoiu- and revived the expectations which had ushered in the ti<m. French Revolution. The march of events at Madrid was as rapid as the most ardent partisans of innovation could desire. A Supreme Junta was immediately formed, to whom the king, two days after his proclamation of the March 9. 7th, took the oath to observe the constitution. The nobles and magistrates, obedient to the royal will, followed his example. In the midst of the ringing of bells, the discharge of artillery, and the cheers of the multitude, the guards, the soldiers, and all the civic authorities, took the oath, in the square of the Pardo, to the constitution. The whole prisoners confined for state offences were libel\t"u?"'' ratcd, and paraded through the streets amidst the shouts 1820 22T of popu^ace , many of them soon passed from their 226j'Mar- cells to the cabinet. In the evening a general illumina202,20a. tion terminated the first day of the revolution, which hitherto had been one of unmingled joy.1
But the march of revolution is not always on flowers; Reception the thorns soon began to show themselves. Some days i°u«onat° before the constitution was accepted at Madrid by the vXnck,*' king, it had been proclaimed at Saragossa and at Pamand Cadiz. peluna; wnere Mina had already of his own authority supplanted Espelata, the royal governor. At Barcelona the garrison compelled Castanos to do the same, and March i0- soon removed that sturdy veteran to make way for General Villa-Campa, then in exile at Arons. He returned, ere long, liberated all the political prisoners, and burnt the office of the Inquisition amidst general transports. At Valencia, General Elio, who had taken so decided a part against the former attempts at revolution, was only saved from death at the hands of the populace by being humanely thrown into prison ; at Granada, General Eguia was displaced by the students, and Campo-Verde in