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one cause or pretext of war was a difference of religion. The preachers inspired the soldiers, and the sword that acknowledged no other sway was lowered before the crozier.

This influence has hardly ever relaxed in Spanish history. It has controlled the literature of Spain, and has never allowed the spirit of free inquiry to arise in that country. It has tempered even the style of the fine arts, and allied itself with premature despotism, by that unholy alliance so common in history between absolute despotism over the mind and absolute despotism over the body. In Spain, however, more than in other countries, is this alliance appropriate ; for when despotism comes on as the last stage of accomplished development, the nation is generally free-thinking and irreverent, and religion is reintroduced with difficulty ; but the Spanish people have never emerged from the early stage of primitive superstition. They are at this moment deeply imbued with the most ardent and unreflecting faith ; and thus premature despotism, in the reign of Philip II., allied itself easily with unshaken theocracy. The Spanish acme was, among other reasons, deficient, because there never was the anarchy of systems of thought and faith which always accompanies a full development. Theocratic intolerance has ever pervaded Spanish life, and the alliance between despotism and the form of religion which most harmonises with despotism, finally completed by Philip II., has ever since been faithfully preserved : the despotism growing firmer and more consolidated by the corruption of the aristocracy, which in the 16th century began to exchange its primitive character of military chieftainship with local dominion for the luxurious effeminacy of a court life.

It was in fact the very same policy whereby these separate kingdoms had been formerly united into one — the policy which in Charles V. and Philip II.'s reigns made the king absolute — that, carried on to a further

extreme, destroyed the authority of the aristocracy; a matter the more easy because the aristocracy consisted of chieftains not belonging to a race different from the rest of the nation, and therefore not bound to each other by any very strong tie.* The Austrian dynasty which

. succeeded to the throne of Spain in 1516, and the subsequent Bourbons, well instructed in the example of France, have completed the centralisation and the emasculation of the nobles, who now or recently were not permitted to marry without the king's consent, nor to leave the court without asking his permission ; an application they were the less likely to make, inasmuch as they considered it a punishment to be sent to their country residences, where they might have been great lords among their tenantry, and have exercised over the population some of the good influences of an aristocracy. As in the later Roman empire so in Spain, the land is entirely in the possession of comparatively few families, who absorb the small proprietors. These families have long formed the habit, which they now retain, of concentrating in Madrid in huge retainer-crowded mansions, enjoying the expensive idleness, the lazy debauchery, and above all, the gamblingtables of that dreary capital, and they possess now no single quality of aristocracy except a great pride of pedigree; for exclusiveness, which they largely indulge in, is a characteristic more of a plutocracy than of an aristocracy. If the descriptions of them are true, they are now stunted both in intellectual and physical growth by a long ancestral profligacy duly inherited.

They resemble not a little the descendants of the old Roman aristocracy, who frequented the courts of the emperors, and lived the life of a mere plutocracy; and they

, show us what the old aristocracy of France would now have been if its destruction by the revolution had not, by

This was the character of the Castilian nobility, but the Aragonese were more united. Prescott, Ferdinand and Isabella, p. 24.

outrooting it altogether, stopped its proceeding in the course of degeneracy upon which it had entered. While the old nobility of Spain is thus living in a rapid decline at Madrid, wasted with idleness and luxury, and fed on titles, the real business of government is carried on by functionaries. The grandees are systematically excluded from ministerial office. Originally the centralising monarchs, Charles V. and Philip II., appointed men born in the lower classes, because they could better rely on their dependence and servility. The system which had been so completely established in the reign of Philip II., that the nobles were never appointed to important positions in the state or in the army *, but were absorbed by the honourable offices connected with the royal household, las been continued even after the nobility has ceased to be formidable. An authority whom I have much consulted on Spain, writes, “ The most powerful of the ministers of Spain have for many years been either foreigners or adventurers. Alberoni rose by match-making and intrigue ; Farinelli by singing ; Ripperda was a Dutchman; Squillaci an Italian ; Wall an Irish gambler and debauchee ; Godoz an uneducated minion of a wedded strumpet; Calomarde the son of a maker of hempen sandals ; Zea a clerk in a counting-house at St. Petersburg. The history of their low origin, extraordinary elevation, absolute power, sudden and utter fall, could only find a parallel in the harems and divans of Bagdad and Constantinople.”

This sudden upraising is the more easy in Spain, because of the natural equality and nobility of the people. Every man believing himself, however

poor, nobleman, and really being so in breeding and bearing, does not feel uncomfortable and out of his place, or unduly elated when promoted to high office. afraid, however, that graceful and dignified as may be

a

I am

* Prescott's Philip II. vol. iii. p. 352.

the bearing of Spanish functionaries, their morale is as low as that of the trading underpaid officials under any other despotism. Mr. Ford says, “A man who does not

. feather his nest is not thought honest, but a fool. It is necessary, nay a duty as in the east, that all should live by their office, and as office is short and insecure, no time or means is neglected in making up a purse. From 1800 to 1844 there have been seventy-four ministers of finance, and all with no effects.' Nine ministries have been formed from May 1843 to May 1844, and each rather worse than the preceding one.”

Such is the governing class in Spain. The real Spanish people remain to this day simple and very independent peasants, not at all mechanical, thrifty, or capital-ridden, as are the peasant proprietors of France, who have had spread over them the spirit of town life, and commerce, and the love of fashionable luxuries, but rather resembling the free and sturdy Norwegians, fond of the chase and the war, save only that the corruption of the government for upwards of three centuries, and their gloomy superstition, have told with sad effect upon their character, and made them all in public life what most of them do not seem to be in private, faithless, cruel, and rapacious. It is not in the character of stationary despotisms to preserve virtues unimpaired, however successful may be its care of the vices which it finds established; though, from the concentration of the vileness of the nation to Madrid, and the great local independence of many parts of Spain, unmolested by functionaries from the capital, the Spanish character seems to have been as little contaminated by its government as in the nature of things is possible.

The individual Spaniard, when untainted by office, is a fine and noble character, but the misfortune is that he has no respect for those who are placed above him. Partly this is owing to the absence of any original distinction between a conquering and a conquered race; which, when it exists, instils a kind of traditionary respect into the mass of a nation, that often lasts long after the governing class has ceased to be alien by blood from the governed ; but much more is this want of respect caused by the want of respectability. The Spaniard distrusts those who administer affairs, they distrust him in return, and when distrusted a man is somewhat prone to do acts deserving distrust, for he has then no fears upon him that he is abusing confidence. So there is no trust and no respect between the governing and the governed, and fear is the only principle of government. This condition of the Spanish people, a noble and

a fine race, topped by a corrupt nobility and a worthless functionary despotism, so that, regarded in its public actions, Spain is degraded beyond all precedent of infamy, leads me to note here the too-hasty manner in which mations, are often, judged by those who contemplate only their public and political character. A part, and that the most liable to corruption and the most corrupt, is taken for the whole. It is so with Spain, and so to a great extent with Northern Italy. The chief towns of Lom.bardy contain a population of the mass of which little good can be said. Those who are rich spend their wealth in useless and lazy profligacy, preferring an unhealthy and emasculating town life to life on a country estate. Those who are poor have as much profligacy and sensuality as they can buy, and lay in a good store of selfishness, for that is cheap, and as it deadens conscience, opens new ways of gambling into wealth. The traveller, transported from terminus to terminus, would derive his idea of the Northern Italians solely from Milan, Venice, and Padua, and arrive at a conclusion very much like that of the historical student who should read only the histories of those parts during the last 200 years. But in the smaller towns and out-of-the-way districts the population is healthy, robust, and honest ; both physically and morally untainted by the corruption of the great towns. In Brescia, for instance, the landowners are for the most

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