Napoleon could not give any such promises, and for good reasons: he rightly distrusted his brother’s military ability, and knew that—whatever was the title given to Joseph—men like Soult or Masséna would disregard his orders. Apparently he considered that a conflict of authorities in Spain, such as had been existing for the last six months, was at least better than the concentration of power in the hands of one indifferent commander-in-chief. It is doubtful whether he did not err in his conclusion. Almost anything was better than the existing anarchy, tempered by orders, six weeks late, from Paris. But a second, and a more fatal, objection to granting Joseph’s conditions was that the ‘rumours current concerning the dismemberment of the Spanish monarchy’ were absolutely true. Napoleon was at this moment at the very height of his wild craze for adding alien and heterogeneous provinces to the French Empire, in the supposed interest of the Continental System. It was in 1810 that he declared Holland and the Valais, Hamburg and Bremen, Oldenburg and Dalmatia, integral parts of his dominions. And Northern Spain was destined to suffer the same fate. Mina and Rovira, Eroles and Manso, were to wake some morning to find themselves French subjects! On October 12 the Emperor wrote to Berthier: ‘You will inform General Caffarelli, in strict confidence, that[p. 508] my intention is that Biscay shall be united to France. He must not speak of this intention, but he must act with full knowledge of it. Make the same private communication to General Reille about Navarre.’ Aragon, or at least the portion of it north of the Ebro, and Catalonia were to suffer the same fate. Already justice was administered there in the name of the Emperor, not in that of the King of Spain, and a coinage was being struck at Barcelona which no longer bore the name of ‘Joseph Napoleon King of Spain and the Indies.’
The line of argument which Napoleon adopted with regard to this proposed annexation is very curious. His directions to his Foreign Minister, Champagny, run as follows: ‘Herewith I send you back the Spanish documents with six observations, which are to serve as the base for negotiation. But it is important that you should broach the matter gently. You must first state clearly what are my opinions on the Convention of Bayonne [viz. that the Emperor regards his guarantee of the integrity of Spain as out of date and cancelled]. Then speak of Portugal, and next of the expense that this country [Spain] costs me. Then let the Spanish envoys have time to reflect, and only after an interval of some days tell them that I must have the left bank of the Ebro, as an indemnity for the money and all else that Spain has cost me down to this hour. I think that, as in all negotiations, we must not show ourselves too much in a hurry.’ The mention of Portugal means that the Emperor contemplated making his brother a present of the Lusitanian realm, where Spain was hated only one degree less than France, as a compensation for Catalonia and the rest. On the same morning that Mina found himself a Frenchman, all[p. 509] the Ordenan?a of the Beira hills were to discover that they were Castilians! Mad disregard of national feeling could go no further.
A letter to the French ambassador at Madrid explained at much greater length the Emperor’s reasons for breaking the oath that he had sworn to his brother at Bayonne, when he named him King of Spain. ‘When the promise was made, His Majesty had supposed that he had rallied to his cause the majority of the Spanish nation. This has proved not to be the case: the whole people took arms, the new king had to fly from Madrid, and was only restored by French bayonets. Since then he has hardly rallied a recruit to his cause; it is not the King’s own levies that have fought the rebels: it is the 400,000 French sent across the Pyrenees who have conquered every province. Therefore all these regions belong not to the King, but to the Emperor, by plain right of conquest. He intends, for this reason, to regard the Treaty of Bayonne as null; it has never been ratified by the Spanish nation. One only chance remains to the King: let him prevail upon the newly-assembled Cortes at Cadiz to acknowledge him as their sovereign, and to break with England. If that can be done, the Emperor may revert to his first intentions, and ratify the Treaty of Bayonne, except that he must insist on a “rectification of frontiers sufficient to give him certain indispensable positions”’—presumably San Sebastian, Pampeluna, Figueras, Rosas, &c.
The mere first rumour of his brother’s intentions, transmitted by Almenara and the Duke of Santa-Fé, his ambassadors ordinary and extraordinary at Paris, drove Joseph to despair. ‘The Spanish nation,’ he wrote, ‘is more compact in its opinions, its prejudices, its national egotism, than any other people of Europe. There are no Catholics and Protestants here, no new and old Spaniards; and they will all suffer themselves to be hewn in pieces rather than allow the realm to be dismembered. What would the inhabitants of the counties round London say if they were menaced with being declared no longer English? What would Proven?als or Languedocians say if they were told[p. 510] that they were to cease to be Frenchmen? My only chance here is to be authorized to announce that the promise that Spain should not be dismembered will be kept. If that is granted, and the generals who have misbehaved are recalled to France, all may be repaired. If not, the only honourable course for me is to retire into private life, as my conscience bids me, and honour demands.’ On November 18, after having received more formal news of the Emperor’s intentions from his envoys, Joseph declared that the die was cast: he would return to his castle of Mortefontaine, or to any other provincial abode in France that he could afford to purchase, as soon as his brother’s resolve was made public.
Yet the crisis never came to a head. The annexation of the Ebro provinces was never published, though private assurances of their impending fate were laid before the Spanish ministers and the King. What 长沙桑拿论坛 caused the Emperor to hesitate, when all was prepared? The answer may be found in his dispatch to Laforest on November 7: ‘I need hardly warn you,’ he writes, ‘that these insinuations (the ultimatum to the King) are to be made only on condition that the French army has entered Lisbon, and that the English have taken to their ships.’ And again, ‘The Emperor is acting in sincerity: if in reality the capture of Lisbon, and an offer from the cabinet of Madrid, might possibly decide the rebels to treat, His Majesty might consent, &c., &c.’ It was the Lines of Torres Vedras which saved King Joseph from abdication and Spain from dismemberment. The evacuation of Portugal by Wellington was the indispensable preliminary to the carrying out of the great annexation scheme: its completion was deferred till the ominous silence of Masséna 长沙桑拿论坛社区 should be ended by a triumphant dispatch proclaiming the capture of Lisbon. Since that dispatch never came, Napoleon kept postponing his ultimatum. Then followed the news, delivered at Paris by Foy on November 21, showing that Masséna had been brought to a standstill. Even then the Emperor’s plan was kept back, not abandoned. It was not till the Army of Portugal had recoiled in despair and disarray to the banks of the Coa that Napoleon abandoned his cherished scheme, and consented to treat with his brother on reasonable terms. But Joseph’s visit to Paris in the spring of 1811 and[p. 511] its consequences belong to another chapter of this history. It must suffice here to point out that he
spent all the winter of 1810-11 in a state of mental anguish, expecting every day to be forced to publish his abdication, and, 长沙桑拿休闲场所 meanwhile, living a life of shifts and worries—selling his last silver plate to feed his courtiers, and exchanging an endless correspondence of remonstrances and insinuations with Soult and the commanders of the ‘military governments’ of the North. Even from the military point of view he did not consider himself safe; the Empecinado and other guerrillero chiefs carried their incursions up to the very gates of Madrid; and La Mancha, from which, by the Emperor’s orders, much cavalry had been withdrawn for the benefit of Soult, was frequently raided by detachments from Blake’s Army of Murcia. ‘à chaque instant du jour et de la nuit,’ wrote the unhappy sovereign, ‘je suis exposé à monter
à cheval pour défendre ma vie contre les bandes exaspérées des insurgés, qui entourent Madrid: cette ville est aux avant-postes[6长沙桑拿洗浴中心排名25].’
Meanwhile, the other government which claimed to be the legal representative of Spanish nationality was even more truly ‘aux avant-postes.’ The Cortes had assembled at Cadiz, where the booming of the French cannon was perpetually heard, and where an occasional shell from Villantroys’ celebrated mortars would plump harmlessly into the sand of the Peninsula or the outskirts of the town itself. The Cortes had opened its sessions on September 24, though less than half its members had assembled. The difficulty of collecting them had been very great, since all had to arrive by sea, and many had to come from regions very remote, such as Asturias, Galicia, or Catalonia. The assembly could not be
called satisfactory or repre[p. 512]sentative. The scheme drawn up for its election by the commission that had sat in the preceding winter was complicated. There was to be a deputy for every 50,000 souls throughout Spain; but the form of selection was indirect: the villages chose each one primary elector; the primary electors met at the chief town of the district to choose a second body of secondary electors; the secondary electors chose a final committee for the whole province (Junta provincial electoral) and these last, aided by the Governor, Archbishop, and Intendant of the province, nominated the deputies. But this complicated system could only work in the regions which were in the hands of the patriots. Only Valencia, Murcia, Estremadura, the Balearic Isles, and Galicia were wholly free at the moment. In Catalonia the capital, Barcelona, and large tracts of the country were occupied by the French. In the Asturias three-quarters of the province were held down by Bonnet. The two Castiles, Andalusia (excepting Cadiz), Biscay, Navarre, Leon, and Aragon were entirely or almost entirely in the hands of the enemy. The delegates supposed to represent them were either chosen in hole-and-corner meetings of insurgent juntas lurking in some remote fastness, or—where even this semblance of local election was not possible—by nomination by the Regency, or in wholly casual assemblies of the natives of those districts who chanced to be in Cadiz at the time. The representatives of Madrid, for example, were chosen in this fashion by the body of exiles from that city meeting in the spacious courtyard of a large public building. The result of this informal and irregular method of choice was that many provinces purported to be represented by deputies who had no real local influence therein, but had chanced to commend themselves to the insurgent juntas, or to the persons—in some cases a mere handful—who happened to have fled from that particular region to Cadiz. It is said that the very names, and much more the persons, of a good many of the deputies were absolutely unknown to their supposed constituents. Most of all was this the case with the members of the Cortes who were supposed to represent Spanish America. It had been decreed by the late Central Junta that the colonies formed[p. 513] an integral part of the Spanish monarchy, and were therefore entitled to representation. But the modest number of twenty-six members allotted to them were elected at Cadiz, by a committee of Americans nominated by the Regency from those who happened to be resident in that town. Most of the deputies were out of touch with the people beyond the seas, of whom they were theoretically the delegates.
This fact was specially unfortunate when the first symptoms of discontent and sedition in Buenos Ayres, Mexico, and the Caraccas had begun to show themselves. Though few realized it as yet, the insurrection of Spanish America was just about to break forth. The least foreseen of all the results of Napoleon’s aggressions in Old Spain was that the colonies, which had been called upon to take their part in the national war against the French, and had been promised a share in the administration of the empire, should accept the show of freedom and equality that was offered in a serious spirit. The Americans demanded that they should no longer be treated as subjects and tributaries of the mother country, but recognized as possessing rights and interests of their own, which must be taken into consideration when the general governance of the dominions of Ferdinand VII was in question. And these rights and interests included not only a claim to such self-government as other Spanish provinces possessed, but a demand that their commercial and economic needs should no longer be subordinated to the convenience of the mother country. The colonies could not see why the monopoly of all their trade should be left in the hands of the merchants of Old Spain. They wished to traffic on their own account with Great Britain and the United States. This claim was one which no inhabitant of Old Spain could view with equanimity. The monopoly of South American commerce had always been believed to be the most essential item in the greatness of the realm. It had been preserved almost as strictly in the eighteenth century as in the seventeenth or sixteenth. The old Asiento, which gave Great Britain a minute share in that commerce, had been conceived to be a humiliation and a disgrace to the king who granted it. Spain had fought more than once to preserve the American monopoly—it is only necessary to allude to the war of[p. 514] ‘Jenkins’s Ear’ to show what she was prepared to face in its defence.
And now, when the mother country was in such desperate straits, the questions of American self-government and American trade were raised in the crudest form. Great Britain had provoked the distrust of her Spanish allies by many of her acts, even when they were done in good faith and with no ulterior motive. But the most irritating of all was the request, which had been already made more than once in a tentative fashion, for a measure of free trade with South America. Wellington had recommended that the point should not be pressed, when Spain was in her extremity; but it was inevitable that since nearly all British subjects, and nearly all Americans, were desirous to see the old barriers removed, the question should crop up again and again. The opening of the American trade was the only return that Spain could make for the aid that Great Britain had now been giving her for more than two years of war. When Canning in 1809 wrote that ‘in questions of commerce any proper occasion must be used to recommend a more enlarged and liberal policy than has hitherto been acted upon in Spain,’ it is easy to see what was in his mind. The ministers in power in 1810 were mostly of the same opinion. But to ask for free trade with America in the year when Hidalgo was making his first rising in Mexico, and the cabildos on the Rio de la Plata were quietly substituting municipal self-government for the ancient autocratic rule of their viceroys, was to provoke acute suspicion. In 1806-7 Great Britain had backed Miranda and other colonial separatists, either with the hope of getting a footing for herself in South America, or at least with that of establishing republics which would grant her all the commercial privileges that she asked. The successive Spanish governments of 1808-10 could never convince themselves that the scheme had been completely dropped, and mistook British demands for open trade with America for a desire to sever the discontented colonies from their mother country. The most unpopular act of the Regency of 1810 was their decree of May 7, issued, as all Spaniards held, in base subservience to their allies, which had granted England and Portugal a certain limited right of exchanging their products[p. 515] with the colonies, on paying the heavy customs-due of ten and a half or fifteen and a half per cent. So great was the cry raised against it in Cadiz that the Regency was cowardly enough to cancel it on June 22, under the pretext that it had not been ratified in a session at which all its members were present!
But it was not the American question alone which lay as a source of danger before the newly-assembled Cortes, nor was it the American deputies alone who misrepresented their constituents. Speaking in general, it may be said that the whole assembly showed a disproportionate number of liberals, when the relative numbers of the democratic and the conservative parties throughout Spain were taken into consideration. The events of the next ten years were to show that the Serviles, as their opponents called them, were really in a majority in the whole country-side and in many towns. If that had not been so, Ferdinand VII could not have restored autocratic government with such ease when the Peninsular War was over. Reactionaries of the blackest dye, who would have liked to restore the Inquisition, and would have put back the press into the shackles which it had endured before 1807, were probably in a clear majority in the nation. The clerical interest was in many ways the mainstay of the War of Independence, and the clergy, with very few exceptions, would gladly have gone back to the system of the eighteenth century. The majority of the old official class sympathized with them, and the peasantry were almost everywhere under their control. On the other hand, the liberals, if all shades of them were reckoned together, had a clear majority in the Cortes, both because the regions which were properly represented in that assembly chanced to be those in which they were most numerous, and because they had secured a disproportionate number of the seats belonging to the lost provinces, which had been filled up by more or less fictitious elections within the walls of Cadiz. That town itself was the least conservative place in Spain, and the refugees who had served as electors because they happened to be on the[p. 516] spot, were not drawn from the bulk of the population—were neither priests nor peasants,—but mainly came from those sections of the upper and middle classes where liberal opinions had made more progress.
The Cortes on the whole was a democratic body: Spain, on the whole, was reactionary. The number of those who hated Napoleon because they regarded him as the enemy of the Church, the jailer of the Pope, and the breaker-up of old laws, was much greater than that of those who hated him because he was the embodiment of autocracy, and the foe of all free self-government. Intense national pride was common to both parties, and all could unite against a foe whose aim was the dismemberment of Spain. But the union was made difficult by the fact that men who had imbibed, more or less consciously, some of the ‘Principles of 1789’ had to co-operate with men who looked back on the régime of Philip II as a Golden Age. ‘I can see no prospect of Liberty behind the crowd of priests who everywhere stand foremost to take the lead of our patriots. I cannot look for any direct advantage from the feeling which prompts the present resistance to Napoleon, as it arises chiefly from an inveterate attachment to the religious system whence our present degradation takes source. If the course of events enables us to attempt a political reform, it will be by grafting the feeble shoots of Liberty upon the stock of Catholicism, an experiment which has hitherto, and must ever, prove abortive’ wrote a desponding Liberal. How could the writer of such words and his friends work cordially in company with such fanatics as the Estremaduran deputy who, in one of the earlier sessions of the Cortes, proposed the astonishing motion that, in spite of all that had happened since 1807, ‘the Inquisition remains in full possession of its ancient authority, and can make free use of all the powers which it has ever enjoyed in the past.’ There were others who objected to the use of the dangerous word ‘constitution,’ and even to the phrase las leyes de Espa?a, as implying an authority independent of the crown.
When it is remembered that the form in which the Cortes had been summoned was new and experimental, that the elections had been—even according to that form—irregular, that no single member was accustomed to parliamentary usages, that the parties represented in it held views of the most divergent kinds, the wonder is not that the assembly displayed many weaknesses, but that it did no worse. Observers of a pessimistic frame of mind had feared that it would break up altogether after a few stormy sittings. ‘It was too full,’ wrote the regent Lardizabal, ‘of youths, and of men who yesterday were mere adventurers, without any practice in command, knowledge of business, or experience of the world. Whole provinces were represented by deputies whom they had not chosen, and were expected to conform to a constitution, and to accept sweeping reforms, made by men to whom they had given no mandate, faculty, or authority to take such changes into consideration. For neither the Regency, nor even the King, had the legal right to nominate deputies: no one could choose them save the provinces or cities which were integral parts of the nation, and no one could claim to represent a province save the men to whom that same province had given powers, and instructions to act in conformity with its wishes.’
This motley assembly, so many of whose members were of doubtful legitimacy, held its opening session on September 24, 1810. The meeting-place was not within the walls of Cadiz itself, but in the large suburban town of La Isla, in the centre of the great island of Leon, which forms the outwork of the city. It was hoped that the six miles which separated its sitting-place from Cadiz would prevent interruption by popular demonstrations, such as had been so pernicious to the French chamber during the Revolution. The Cortes had as their home the large but bare theatre of San Fernando, which had been roughly fitted up with benches and tribunes. After high mass had been celebrated by the old Cardinal Bourbon, the only male member of the royal family who was not in captivity, the Regency declared the session opened, and then withdrew, after[p. 518] a brief speech by the Senior Regent, the Bishop of Orense, who bade the assembly constitute itself in due form and elect its president and secretaries.
This was done with no delay; the president chosen was a Catalan, Ramón Lazaro de Dou, while the two secretaries were Evaristo Perez de Castro and Manuel Lujan. Both of them were well known to entertain Liberal opinions, and their choice marked the predominance of their party in the Cortes. Sitting till midnight was long past, the assembly passed six decrees drawn up by Mu?oz Torrero, one of the few clerical deputies who held Liberal views, and Manuel Lujan. By these the Cortes declared itself in possession of supreme power in the State, but resolved that, of the three branches of authority—the legislative, the executive, and the judicial—it intended to take only the first-named under its own charge, handing over the executive to the late Regency, and the judicial to the ordinary courts of law. The Regency should be responsible to the Cortes for all its acts of administration, and liable to be called to account. It was ordered to make an instant oath of obedience to the assembly, ‘recognizing the sovereignty of the nation represented by the deputies of this general and extraordinary Cortes.’ This Casta?os and the other regents did with an ill grace, all save the Bishop of Orense, who misliked the oath, contending that its terms spoke of the nation as being sovereign in its own right, without consideration of the King’s indefeasible majesty. He would not swear, and so vacated his place. He did not lose much by his early dismissal, for on October 28 the Cortes abruptly deposed his four colleagues—Casta?os, Lardizabal, Saavedra, and Esca?o—and replaced them by a new Regency of three members. These were Joaquim Blake, that most unlucky of generals; Admiral Cisgar, then commanding the Cartagena squadron, who passed as an able administrator; and an obscure naval captain, Pedro Agar, of whom little was known save that he was American born, and might, therefore, theoretically represent the colonies. The[p. 519] change in regents was decidedly for the worse as far as character and ability went. Apparently the Cortes were jealous of an administration whose power was older than their own, and had not originally been created by them. They wished to have an executive more entirely dependent on themselves. Some of the Liberals pretended that the old regents were plotting to hold a sort of ‘Pride’s Purge’ of the Cortes, and to restore themselves to power. But of this no proof was ever given. Considering the difficult times which they had passed through, and their well-intentioned if rather feeble attempt to serve the state, Casta?os and his colleagues deserved a better fate than arbitrary dismissal, without thanks, and with a tacit accusation of treason laid to their charge.
Between the time of the first assembly of the Cortes and the change in the Regency an infinite number of subjects had been dealt with. The Liberal majority, led by Agustin Argüelles, had decreed liberty of the Press in all political discussions, but very illogically refused it for discussions on matters of religion. They had abolished all feudal rights and privileges of nobility. They passed a decree of amnesty for all rebels in America who should lay down their arms, and proposed many projects for improving the position of the Colonies, few of which, unfortunately, happened to bear any relation to the chief grievances under which the South Americans conceived themselves to be labouring. The insurrection still went on, and, though the mother country was placed in such a desperate condition, troops were actually withdrawn from the Murcian army to sail with General Elio, who was directed to restore order at Buenos Ayres and in the provinces of the Rio de la Plata. Discussions continued, with much heat and a considerable amount of eloquence, on many other points, during the early days of the Junta. The subjects of debate were generally constitutional, occasionally financial. It was worthy to be observed that the two topics on which all the deputies rallied together were the question of opposition to the French, and the question of the defence of their own sovereign rights. Even the majority of[p. 520] the Serviles would join with the Liberals whenever any doubt was raised with regard to the right of the Cortes to arrogate to itself the title of Majesty or the attributes of supreme power. When, for example, the Bishop of Orense refused to take the oath of obedience, several clericals of most reactionary views took part against him; and when a few weeks later the Marqués del Palacio, named as a deputy-regent during the absence of Blake, also displayed reluctance to swear to the same form on similar grounds, he did not receive the report that he had expected from the reactionaries. Indeed, he was put under arrest for some time, without, as it seems, any attempt to protect him being made by the Serviles. Like the Bishop of Orense, he ended by swallowing his scruples and accepting the prescribed formula.
A similar desire to assert its own absolute supremacy impelled the Cortes to refuse to countenance two dynastic intrigues which came from different quarters. The eldest daughter of Charles IV, Carlotta, Princess of the Brazils and wife of the Regent Jo?o of Portugal, was the nearest of kin to Ferdinand VII who had escaped Napoleon’s claws in 1808. She was of opinion that she had a good right to expect the Regency during her brother’s captivity at Valen?ay, and her agents repeatedly urged her claims, both during the days of the first Regency and after the Cortes had assembled. Sousa-Holstein, the Portuguese ambassador, naturally lent them his aid, and she had Spanish partisans, though few of them were persons of good reputation. Yet, by constant persuasion and promises, Carlotta’s representatives actually succeeded in inducing great numbers of the deputies to pledge themselves to push her interests. It is said that, at one time or another, a full half of the members had given the intriguers encouragement. But to do this, and to make a formal attempt to pass a decree conferring the Regency on her, were very different things. When overt action was urged by her agents, or their partisans in the Cortes, nothing came of the attempt. The assembly was naturally unwilling to surrender its own sovereignty, and to introduce a court and its intrigues into Cadiz. It must be added that Jo?o of Portugal had no liking for his wife[p. 521]’s scheme, that Wellington saw its disadvantages, and that the great bulk of the Spaniards would have resented the whole affair, as a Portuguese intrigue, if it had ever been laid before the nation as a definite proposal.
The second dynastic scheme which was running its course at this time was engineered by another branch of the Spanish royal house. The restless and unscrupulous Queen Caroline of Sicily could not forget that if Carlotta of Portugal was the nearest relative of the captive King, yet her husband Ferdinand was his nearest male kinsman, save the princes in Napoleon’s hands. She availed herself of this fact to urge that one of her children would be a very suitable person to be entrusted with power in Spain, and thought of her younger son Prince Leopold as a possible candidate for the Regency. But since he had not the necessary reputation or age, the Queen soon fell back upon her son-in-law Louis Philippe, Duke of Orleans, the exiled son of the infamous Philippe égalité. He had not only a good military record for his services at Jemappes and elsewhere in the early Belgian campaigns, but was universally known as a man of ability. Unfortunately, he had fought on the Republican side in 1792—a thing hard to forget, and certain to cause suspicion: and his ability was always displayed for purposes of self-interest, and savoured of unscrupulousness.
Nevertheless, Orleans had already made overtures to the old Regency in the spring of 1810, and had been promised by them a command on the borders of Catalonia. They had failed to keep the pledge, and he now appeared at Cadiz, and wished to present himself before the Cortes and plead his cause. He took small profit thereby, for the assembly regarded him and his relatives as suspicious persons, refused to give him an audience when he presented himself before its doors, and politely but firmly insisted that he should return to Sicily in a few days—an order which he was forced to obey. ‘Whether it was that he was a Frenchman, though a Bourbon, or whether it was that he had once been a Republican, though he had ceased to be one, or whether it was that he was a prince of[p. 522] the royal house, and therefore distasteful to the newly-assembled Cortes, who were secretly inclined to democratic views, the majority viewed him with disfavour.’ On October 3 he set sail for Palermo.
At the end of 1810 we leave the Cortes still indulging in fiery constitutional debates, still busy in asserting its own supreme power, and curbing many attempts at self-assertion in the new Regency which it had created. With the English government it was not on the best of terms: though it decreed the erection of a statue to George III as the friend and deliverer of Spain—a monument which (it need hardly be said) was never erected—it was very slow to seek or follow the advice of the allied power. It clamoured for subsidies, but refused the opening of the South American trade—the only return that could be given for them. Money in hard gold or silver Great Britain could no longer supply—for the years 1810-11 were those when the paper-issues of the Bank were our sole currency; cash had almost disappeared, and could only be procured by offering six pounds or more in notes for five guineas. But the Spaniards did not want paper, but gifts or loans in gold or silver. They got no more of the precious metals—Great Britain had none to spare, and found it almost impossible even to procure dollars to pay Wellington’s army in Portugal. All that was given after 1809 was arms and munitions of war.
English observers in the Peninsula were not well pleased with the first months of the rule of the Cortes. ‘The natural course of all popular assemblies,’ wrote Wellington to his brother, Henry Wellesley, now minister at Cadiz, ‘and of the Spanish Cortes among others, is to adopt democratic principles, and to vest all the powers of the State in their own body. This assembly must take care that they do not run in that tempting course, as the wishes of the nation are decidedly for monarchy. Inclination to any other form of government would immediately deprive them of the confidence of the people, and they would become a worse government, and more impotent, because more numerous, than the old Central Junta.’ A few weeks later he doubted whether even a Regency under Carlotta of[p. 523] Portugal, with all its disadvantages, would not be better than mere democracy.
Vaughan, on the spot at Cadiz, gave quite a different view of the situation, but one equally unfavourable to the Cortes as a governing power. ‘It is full of priests, who (united with the Catalans) are for preserving the old routine, and adverse to everything that can give energy and vigour to the operation of government. Fanaticism and personal interest direct their opinions…. Be assured that the Cortes is, as at present constituted, anything but revolutionary or Jacobinical…. If there is not soon some new spirit infused into it, it will become an overgrown Junta, meddling with every paltry detail of police, and neglecting the safety of the country—and the Regency will be content to reign (very badly) over Cadiz and the Isla.’
There was much truth in both these verdicts, though Vaughan underrated the force of self-interest in driving a popular assembly to claim all power for itself, while Wellington underrated the dead-weight of clerical conservatism, which was the restraint upon that tendency. Both were right in asserting that, whatever the Cortes might be, the mass of the nation had no wish to set out on the path of Jacobinism. They both perceived the danger that the Cortes might turn itself into a constitutional debating society, and at the same time prevent any really efficient executive from being established. Such was its actual fate. Except that Spain now possessed a governing authority which, with all its faults, had infinitely more pretension to claim a legal mandate from the people than any of its predecessors, the situation was not greatly changed. From the military point of view, as we shall see in the next volume, the aspect of the Peninsula was in no degree improved. The same blunders that had marked the administration of the old Provincial Juntas, of the Supreme Central Junta, and of the first Regency, continued to exhibit themselves under the rule of the Cortes.
Vol. IV. Dec. 1810-Dec. 1811.PREFACE
In this volume are contained the annals of all the many campaigns of 1811, with the exception of those of Suchet’s Valencian expedition in the later months of the year, which for reasons of space have to be relegated to Volume V. It was impossible to exceed the bulk of 660 pages, and the operations on the Mediterranean coast of Spain can be dealt with separately without any grave breach of continuity in the narrative, though this particular Valencian campaign affected the general course of the war far more closely than any other series of operations on the Eastern side of the Peninsula, as I have been careful to point out in the concluding chapters of Section XXIX.