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and almost overruled the kingly power. This forms another instance of the ruin that results to the liberties of a people, by the legislative power being invested in one chamber of deputies. Ferdinand, after being freed from the danger of the Moors, succeeded, by wise and politic measures, in lowering the pretensions of the nobles, and in establishing his own authority over them.
The political dissensions of ages, the decline and partial ruin of all the great interests of Spain, can be traced to the aristocratic or exclusive principle that pervades her institutions, and dictates her laws. And as long as it is allowed to exist, so sure will decay and ruin follow the steps of contending aristocratic factions, until at length the country itself shall become the prey of some foreign people, united by the hope of conquest and location on its fertile soil.
Circumstances peculiar to Spain, have increased and extended the blasting influence of the spoliatory principle. The lands of the Mesta doomed entire regions to the state of deserts—and the dead hands of the church, and the indolent pride of aristocratic power, have combined to keep the lands untouched by the plough. The fanatical prejudices of the feeble manufacturing interest still farther damp the national enterprise, and close the ports of the nation to commerce and its civilization.
The lands from which the Moors were expelled, were divided in the usual barbaric way among a few successful warriors.
The following is the account of the division of property in Spain in the fifteenth century:—
"A great part of the territory in Spain was engrossed by the nobility. According to the account of a contemporary writer, which he affirms was as accurate as the nature of the subject would admit, the sum total of the annual revenue of their lands amounted to one million four hundred and eighty-two thousand ducats. If we make allowance for the great difference in the value of money in the fifteenth century, from that which it now bears, and consider that the catalogue of Marinaeus includes only the "Tltulmlos" or nobility, whose families were distinguished by some honorary title, their wealth must appear very great The commons of Castile, in their contests with the crown, complain of the extensive property of the nobility as extremely pernicious to the kingdom. In one of their manifestoes, they assert that from Valladolid to Saint Jago, in Galicia, which was a hundred leagues, the crown did not possess more than three villages. All the rest belongetl to the nobility, and could be subject to no public burden. It appears from the testimony of authors, that these extensive possessions were bestowed upon the ricos hombres, hidalgos, and cavalleros, by the kings of Castile, in rewards for the assistance which they had received from them in expelling the Moors. They likewise obtained by the same means, a considerable influence in the cities, many of which anciently depended upon the nobility."
cultivation of saffron has supplanted that of rorii, and there is therefore less occasion for windmills."—IngUs's liamb'es in Spain, page 61.
The foregoing description is extrated from the notes and illustrations to Dr. Robertson's History of the State of Europe, and of the Reign of Charles the Fifth of Spain.*
The same author says, in another part of the history:— "It was one of the privileges of the nobles, that their lands were exempt from the burden of taxes. The charge of supporting the troops requisite for the public safety, fell wholly upon the cities; and their kings being obliged frequently to apply to them for aid, found it necessary to • Vol. I, page 419, Note 34.
gain their favour by concessions, which not only extended their immunities, but added to their wealth and power."
There are materials for reflection, afforded by the historical facts adduced, and they ought to be applied to form a parallel with the state of Great Britain at the present day. The grand characteristics in each nation, in the two periods of the history, are the enormous amount of property acquired by an exclusive order, at the expense of the community, and the almost exemption of that property from the burdens of taxation, while the rest of the citizens are charged with the expenses of the general government. There is, however, this great difference between the two nations at their respective periods. The British people are a comparatively very united one, and, with the exception of Ireland, are free from the danger of local or provincial jealousies and animosities. They are confiding, and hence the weight of their burdens. But, unless their physical and intellectual construction be changed entirely, it is against their known qualities, that they will long submit to a state of things which will sink the nation to the depths of wretchedness, and ruin all its hopes of future greatness.
We at all times perceive in society the operation of principles which shall produce changes for good or evil; and in the chronicles of the day, we read the narration of events, the origin and tendency of which are not obvious to every observer.
Spain, within these last fifty years, has presented an epitome of her history for a thousand years before—always agitated and torn by domestic factions, fomented by the foreigner.
Barcelona yet smokes with the fires which her insurrection kindled; and the sound of the bombardment which laid her in ruins, still dwells on the ear of Europe.
The diplomacy of Britain and France is occupied in the adjustment of the questions which have arisen out of events that partake of the character belonging to barbarous ages; and men endeavour to trace them to the intrigues of foreign agents, or to the rivalries of domestic political leaders. But these events have their origin from causes which lie deep in society, and the following appears to be a true account of the moving springs of these, aud all the other convulsions which disturb Spain. "Several other causes have contributed to render the military unpopular in Barcelona. In the present dilapidated state of Spanish finances, each locality is obliged in a great measure to support garrisons: and the municipality, instead of taxing the wealthy householders, is too apt to grind the money from the poor, by duties levied on provisions at the gates of the town. It was this hated Octroi which began the present insurrection'' . . "We observe that Zurbano had been visiting the posts, and enjoining the custom-house men to use the utmost rigour in levying duties, saying he would forgive past faults, but would severely punish all fresh acts of indulgence." . . "The city is becoming troubled, no one knowing why; for quarrels between collectors of the duty and country people to introduce wine, were wont to take place every holiday." We see in this description, given in the leading article of the London Morning Chronicle of the 26th November, 1842, the development of principles which lead to the revolution of nations,— namely, the encroachment on, or seizure of, the means of subsistence of a people, to an extent which destroys their comfort, and enrages their feelings to outbreaks from the bounds of order. Will men ever learn wisdom, to be true and just to themselves!
ARISTOCRACY RESTRAINS DESPOTISM FROM RAISING A BODY OF SERFS TO THE CONDITION OF FREE CITIZENS.
Russia is an empire, that, like a huge Colossus, bestrides Europe and Asia. It consists of a body, of limbs, and a head. Its head is an intellectual personal despotism, controlling a rude aristocracy, that crushes a nation of slaves.
Russia is a body of vast magnitude, but it wants a principle of motion and activity; it is inert—but it keeps Europe in dread of its receiving an impulse. Heavy bodies are not easily moved, but motion once given, the effect is tremendous.
Agrarian laws, similar to those of Moses, or of Servius Tullius, enacted in favour of the Russian population, would, in all probability, change the destiny of the world. They would, in half a generation, raise a population from the condition of miserable hordes of serfs, dull and passive like the cattle that graze around them, to the rank of freemen, possessed of property in the soil from which they raised their subsistence. The military tenure, which doubtless would be attached to their lands, would convert legions of armed animal machines into bands and armies of militia,