16 NOVEMBER 1907, Page 5

THE COURT OF PHILIP IV.• THE reign of Philip IV.

has received little attention from English writers, though the genius of Velazquez has made the King and many of his Court strangely familiar to us. When Philip came to the throne in 1621 Spain was still a great country, but it already contained the germs of decay. Its • The Court of PhUip IV.: Spain in Decadence. By Martin Hume. London : Sveleigh Nash. [18a. net.] prosperity was artificial ; its possessions were so many splendid but unset jewels. There was no public spirit to unite them; the only bond was the Monarcby itself. In the service of God and the King Spaniards were ready enough, and in deeds of personal courage and adventure, but for systematic military training they were unfitted. Already in 1594 a book had appeared on The Unsoundness of the Spanish Army. The nobles were exempt from military service, and fought only under the personal command of the King. It was therefore urgent for the King to show martial energy, and this wan foreign to Philip IV.'s character, so that it was said :-

" El de Francia ester en campaiia

Y en el Retire of de Espalia."

(" The King of France is at the wars, and in his palace the King of Spain.") But an even worse evil was the economic; state of the country. Taxes were extraordinarily heavy, and the mode of collection very clumsy and expensive. Money was sorely needed, yet commerce and agriculture were not encouraged. It was significant that the Commission appointed to discuss the canalisation of the Tagus and Manzanares decided that if God had wished these rivers to be navigable, He would have made them so. The silver fleet from the Indies was the mainstay of the State finance, and if the Dutch captured those ships, starvation and bankruptcy followed. Yet a large part of this money went abroad, for Spain had no exports to balance her numerous imports. The expulsion of the frugal Moriscos in the preceding reign had dealt the last blow to industry and agriculture. It was an age given to idle- ness and hollow shows. Nothing was more common than the type of poor gentleman described in the Lazarillo, starving•on. a crust of bread, but quarrelling as to the exact form of saluta- tion to be used by those he meets, "for a gentleman owes nothing to any but God and the King." Philip was but sixteen at his accession. Never did King begin his reign with better inten- tions. Weak and fond of pleasure as he was, he conscientiously performed the arduous duty of reading through the innumer- able letters and memoranda laid before him, and the full reports of Ministers, not merely the summaries that accom- panied them. " With my well-known inclination," he wrote later, " to learn the exercises of horsemanship, I had as great inclination to learn my business of King." The long corre- spondence between Philip and Sor Maria, and the introduction to his translation of Guicciardini's History of Italy, throw a new light on the character of the King. The letters show how much sensitiveness and suffering were hidden beneath his impassive, heavy face. The introduction, a manuscript in the Biblioteca Nacional at Madrid, of which apparently Major Martin Hume has not availed himself, serves to correct the rooted opinion of Philip's idleness. It is impossible after reading it to think of the King as given up to shows and pleasures. Even of this translation he writes pathetically that he " has not wasted on it a single instant of his business hours." As Canovas del Castillo remarks, " it was folly to think that the kingdom was governed at any time without his knowledge and supervision," and we may add that be was never careless or indifferent. Unlike his predecessors, he was a true Spaniard, and felt deeply for the sufferings of his countrymen. Later, an intense melancholy and a certain religious mysticism fell upon him, caused partly by domestic sorrows—the death of his son Baltri,sar Carlos especially affecting him—and partly by his country's disasters. He died worn out and disillusioned at the age of sixty. His reign, fraught with so many public misfortunes, was a golden age for literature and painting. The King, cultured and intelligent, delighted in the drama and in books and pictures. Velazquez, for whom the King showed a real and lasting friendship ; Murillo, Zurbaran, Alonso Cano, and Ribera ; the dramatists Calderon, Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, and Moreto; the great satirist Quevedo ; the historian Solis— to give a few outstanding namessufficiently testify to the greatness of his reign in this respect.

Philip's able Minister, the Count-Duke Olivares, shared his love of books and of art. But in him the love of power was supreme. Rising before the day, and wearing himself out with work, he was devoted rather to the Monarchy and the dynasty of Austria than to the country of Spain. He could not under- stand the love of autonomy in various provinces, and would blurt out in his haughty, impetuous way that the Catalonians or the Portuguese were traitors. One of his first counsels'to Philip was to make himself King of Spain, not merely Xing of Portugal, King of Aragon, Count of Barcelona, Lord of the Basque Provinces, though he admitted the difficulty of

such a course. To secure a closer union peace was necessary; but Spanish dignity could not allow peace, and the war with the Netherlands was continued. The revolt of Catalonia and the loss of Roussillon, the revolt and loss of Portugal, brought discredit and universal hatred on Olivares. Yet the blame cannot be cast on Philip or his Minister, for their task was difficult and well-nigh impossible. The interests of Spain and France clashed too frequently for any durable peace to be made between them. The loss of Portugal was even more inevitable. Philip IL had conquered the country only in name. He had left the house of Braganza far too powerful to be content with the position of subjects, and the bitter hatred and incompatibility of character that existed between the two countries continually tended to separation. In a moment of despondency the favourite exclaimed : " There are

no men of capacity to help me" (no hay hombres). But the

whole position was false, and it would have needed a farseeing sacrifice of pride from the first, a prudence always uncon- genial to Spaniards, to Olivares of all men intolerable, in order to save Spain from disaster. Olivares' Spanish pride must have won the admiration of all his countrymen, had he not failed. It was the misfortune of his foreign policy that he was never able fully to conciliate either France or England. His views, indeed, were lofty, but unpracticaL The common- sense of the simple nun Sor Maria was far more valuable. She constantly advised the King to make peace, even with heretics.

Towards Cromwell, indeed, she felt a strong hatred, and on hie death wrote to Philip that he was "the only man for whose death she had prayed God, and she praised Him for having heard her prayer." To which the King replied that she would do well to pray too for the death of Cromwell's son, who, though "not so active as his father, was still dangerous." Yet Philip's policy towards Cromwell was, in Ofinovas' words, "the most prudent and patriotic possible, if not the most Quixotic," and Spain was the first foreign Power to recognise the English Republic. This course was dictated solely by necessity, and was contrary, as Philip said, to " reason and all his wishes." The murder of the Republican Envoy, Ascham, by English Royalists in Madrid did not interrupt the peaceful relations between Spain and the Commonwealth ; but a few years afterwards, in 1655, Crom- well allied himself with France to make a joint attack on Dunkirk, then belonging to Spain, and without a declaration of war fell upon the Spanish silver fleet, and later captured Jamaica. With France, too, Philip ended by making peace. Cervantes in 1617 had written that "in France no man or woman omitted to learn Spanish." Now in 1660, with the Treaty of the Pyrenees, foreign ideas began to filter slowly into Spain.

Major Martin Hume has had exceptional opportunities of consulting unpublished manuscripts, and it might have been hoped that the result of his labours would be an important eontribution to the history of the time. In his preface, how- ever, he rejects the idea of writing a history, in deference to the public that " wanted to draw aside the impersonal veil to see the great ones in their habits as they lived, to witness their sports, to listen to their words, to read their private letters." He has compiled a picturesque and superficial book of the Court, full of gossip and glittering pageants, but containing little of importance that is new. It is based largely on five or six contemporary sources, from Rowel's Familiar Letters to the Memoirs of Lady Fanshawe. Un- fortunately, the sources are not always literally translated nor cited with accuracy. Thus (p. 306) when the Archers had allowed the escape of some prisoners, the angry King is made by Major Martin Hume (quoting Rodriguez Villa) to exclaim : " Why were they Archers, and what were they paid for ? " but the Spanish reads : "and they would be made to pay for this " (que eel° habian de pagar). On p. 61, by a confusion of the Spanish words actor and autor three plays are attributed to an actor, Pedro Valdes, one of which at any rate—La despreciada guerida—is assigned to Lope de Vega by Shack himself, to the Spanish translation of whose work Major Martin Hume refers for his information. And other instances might be given. A small point may be noted in passing. To say of the meeting of the Kings (p. 483) : " At a given signal both monarchs stepped into their boats at the same time, Philip in Fuenterrabia and Louis in St. Jean de Luz," places the latter town on the Bidasoa (cf. p. 335). Major Martin Hume lays stress on the fact that his book, " a poor thing but mine own," owes nothing to the labour of previous English historians. To Spanish writers his debt is sufficiently heavy, and we can find little to justify a claim of originality, except in a few unessential details. The volume no doubt contains much that will entertain "ordinary readers who seek intellectual amusement" (p. viii.), but it affords no real insight into the characters of those who composed Philip's Court, and cannot be accepted as a wholly trustworthy or scholarly account of his reign.