THE STATE OF SPAIN.
EVERY possible evil that exists in the state of Spain is described, often in exaggerated terms, in London every day. The Carlist war is not nearly so formidable to order as our own Jacobite insurrections of 1715 and 1745, but its petty movements are described every day by telegraph, and Northern Spain is believed therefore to be in utter anarchy, as Londoners would have believed Scotland to be, had they heard on one day that Cromartie was rising, and on another that the Campbells had been repulsed, and on a third that a tax had been levied upon Perth. Bands of 5,000 men, supplied mainly by subscription, and requisitions, are talked of as if they were armies, and could move at will upon Madrid ; while Don Carlos is invested with the daring and the directness of pur- pose which, amid all his faults, undoubtedly distinguished the Stuart Pretender. The Government is taunted with its weakness, just as the Hanoverian Government was taunted— and survived the taunts—and every little riot in Madrid, like every riot in Westminster, is raised into a dangerous demon- stration. The state of the finances—which is bad enough in all conscience, nearly as bad as it was in France in 1789—is exaggerated by rumours intended to discredit the Republic ; and the Government, which has not made or threatened the smallest attack on property, is daily accused in the only country where socialism is legalised—though hidden under the name of poor relief—of socialism. Finally, the Army, which is precisely in the state of the French Army when its aristocratic constitution was broken up, and all was mutiny, intrigue, and duelling, is supposed to be extinct, and a great country given up hopelessly to brigands and guerrillas.
The majority of these charges are correct, but those who
make them should remember a few of the facts upon the other side. This discredited, abject, and accidental Govern- ment has, for four months, been prudent enough to preserve peace in its capital ; to avoid a conflict with an Army accus- tomed to rule the State; to limit the Carlist insurrection to the mountains; to refrain from open conflict with the Church ; to suppress a refractory and reactionary Committee of Cortes, and to collect a representative body which is of its own opinions. That body doubtless does not represent the whole nation, the
-abstentions having been very numerous, but it represents it at
least as well as any Cortes called by any Ministry of Isabella, -or during Prim's regime. A thin representation is at least as useful as a forced one. Its existence and its accord with the Government give that body the voluntary and cheerful aid of at least a great minority of Spaniards, a dictatorship which is real, so far as it goes, a Revolutionary power which, if it has either strong men or strong ideas within it, may hold Spain in as firm a grip as the Convention ever held France. The men who succeeded the Terrorists had probably no majority, but they produced order in France, until the strong man came and took up the reins they, and not he, had manu- factured. The weak members of the Madrid Government- Figueras, who has not, as he says, " iron enough in him to govern in troublous times," and Castelar, the Spanish
Lamartine — are to retire ; but they will both support Government in the Cortes, and events may soon make it clear .what that Government must do. They must issue a forced .currency, as the swiftest though most dangerous way of raising loans ; and as the currency of Spain is far below her necessi- ties, distances being great, business slow, and the people inveterate hoarders, they may keep a large sum afloat for a
time with an increase instead of a decrease of credit. They must relegate the Guardia Civile to their old task of guarding the revenue, which is £24,000,000, all safe if non-payment is but made the highest civil offence, and if the new currency is received in payment. With the Treasury once more sup- plied, they can call up all the old soldiers who will come for money, secure breech-loaders, appoint the necessary but few officers, make discipline iron—the one good thing the French Terrorists did—and with 50,000 good men stamp out Carlism as Napoleon stamped out Chouannerie and Pitt Jacobitism in the North. Let Cuba take care of itself, but make the non-payment of taxes embezzlement. Meanwhile the Cortes, which is moderate and in secret rather Unitarian, may put the Constitution together, giving, we hope, large powers to the provinces, but arming the central authority with the right to suspend privilege when misused, the want of which Lincoln so bitterly mourned, and at last secured by his successful theory about the war-power. Pay the inter- est on the Debt in paper for two years. It may be neces- sary meanwhile either to subjugate the capital by a rain of shells, or to transfer it on the American plan to some safe village, or to conciliate it on the English one ; but once armed, the Government may go on as tran- quilly as any government ever has done in Spain. The army, at its highest figure, has never been costly, civil government is cheap enough, if only the collectors can be made honest, either by per-centages or by making concussion capital, and the mass of the people ask only cheaper and swifter justice. Of the seventeen millions of Spain there are probably not less than fourteen anxious to be let alone, to till and reap, to sell their grape crop, to see the ordinary services performed by sleepy priests, paid as in Ireland by themselves, and to get on by hoarding, industry, and careful marriages. They want a land law, but if there is any statesmanship left in Spain they can get one easily, for those who would resist are hated, dis- gusted, and but few. During two years Prim, who never had forty thousand regulars under him, disposed of Spain at will. There are masses of men eager for a short military career, as was shown by the levies for Cuba ; and the Guardia Civile, 30,000 strong and regularly paid, has never shown the least disposition either to mutiny or to flinch. If the Government and Cortes, now in full accord, can but find a President who will sit still and maintain order, forming the army diligently meanwhile, there is hope for Spain yet, as indeed there is for every country with a history. What are the disorders in Spain compared with the disorders in Chili and Chili has pulled herself together till she can borrow money more easily than Russia ; and apart from private quarrels of jealousy, life and property are as safe as in Southern France. Whether there is a man in Spain who can use the powerful instrument now formed is still to be seen, though Spaniards seem to believe in Pi y Margall, Rivero, and Martos as strong men ; but at all events, there is the instrument, formed in the strongest manner during the period of disorder, which alone has attracted Europe. There is so much revolutionary work to be done, that it may fail ; but still the Government is there, competent to act, if only it has the courage to place its members' necks at stake in the event of a reaction.