22 FEBRUARY 1873, Page 4


THE Republic in Spain, besides suffering from a multitude of smaller obstacles, has to overcome two most serious and immediate dangers. One is the possible disobedience of the Army, and the other is the deep fissure between the Federalists and Unitarians in the ranks of the party itself. The temper of the Army, though uncertain, is believed to be hostile, some of its leaders being convinced that the regal form of government is essential to Spain, others being bound to the Pretenders by ancient pledges, and others being unwilling to surrender the supremacy their caste has so long enjoyed. The Army has governed Spain for a generation, and so complete is its conviction that it can still govern it, that it may make the attempt at any moment and with any degree of audacity,—a chance which drives the Ministry to consider very revolutionary steps. They must either conciliate the Army, or destroy the Army, or supersede the Army, and either alternative is beset with almost insuperable difficulties. Conciliation as under- stood in Spain—that is, the raining-down of promotions—is contrary to the Republican theory of government, a mere extension of the old vicious circle. Destruction—that is, the abolition of conscription and grant of unlimited furlough to all soldiers now in the ranks—would leave all power in the hands of the populace, would surrender Cuba to the Volun- teers, and would make of every officer a deadly foe. Super- session is the only course, and supersession implies the arming of the populace in the great cities, who are very turbulent, very much distressed, and full of exasperation at the " oppres- sions " of the great employers of labour. Arming them is most dangerous work—as was shown in 1869—yet it appears to be unavoidable, and has, according to some of the latest accounts, already begun. If it can be avoided—if, that is, the Army makes up its mind to accept the Republic—all will thus far be well ; but if it cannot, civil war may rage in every town of Spain, and more especially in the towns not control- lable by the fleet. That civil war would discredit the Republic both in France and Spain.

Even this danger, however, is not so great as the one arising from the split within the Republican ranks. The great majority of that party—twenty to one, it is said—are Federalists, that is, men who wish to import either the American or the Swiss Constitution almost as it stands, leave the provinces to govern themselves even in matters of criminal legislation, and grant large municipal privileges to the cities and com- munes of the interior. The desire for local liberty is very strong even among the peasantry, it is stronger still among the artisans, and it is strongest of all among the clergy, who would in the rural districts rapidly regain their ascendancy, and perhaps their revenues. Some 'Carlists make as great a point of localism as the Federalists, while the cities have re- peatedly declared it to be their sine quct non. All the strong Republicans, in fact, who sent up sixty members where their opponents sent three, and all who would tolerate the Republic if successful, sway heavily towards this side. To Englishmen, looking at the scene from the outside and penetrated with experiences of America and Switzerland, there seems no sound reason why such a system should not be attempted. The provinces have always had histories of their own, they are extraordinarily separate in geographical, political, and social circumstances, and they are alive, so alive that the moment order is suspended local Committees or Juntas at once assume all power, and are obeyed as if they were legalised officials. These are the very conditions of Federalism, and these reasons would, we believe, prevail to establish that system, but for some less noticed counterbalancing arguments. The statesmen of Spain, including, we believe, many resolute Republicans, her proprietors, and her Generals dread Federalism as dangerous to the very existence of the country. They say that the provincial life of Spain is too strong for Federalism, that the provinces once divided would become separate organisms, hostile rather than friendly to each other, that central power would cease to exist, and that every city would be a separate Republic. For instance, they doubt whether Navarre and Biscay would not call in Carlos, whether Catalonia would not become a dependency of France, whether Andalusia would not become an agrarian Commune based on an equal division of land, whether religious war would not break out in the Cas- tilles, and whether the South would not set up for itself as a Mediterranean Republic. Cuba would be lost at once, for Cuba must be a State. The cities would be in insurrection, for muni-

cipal power would be in the hands of Socialists. The Debt would be dishonoured, for there would be no general revenue.. The Fleet would disappear, for there would be no one to pay it ; and the Army would be abolished, for all the Federalists are hostile to a conscription, which under a system of State. Rights could hardly be carried out. Spain, in fact, as modern history has known it, would cease to be, and would be replaced by a knot of Republics, possibly as happy as the Cantons, but possibly also as quarrelsome as the Republics into which the Spanish Viceroyalties have been subdivided. That these apprehensions are exaggerated may be allowed at once, but• they are not unnatural ; they weigh heavily with Spanish statesmen ; they have induced the Republican Ministry to declare for unity ; and they persuade men like Olozaga, the Minister in Paris, who generally reconciles himself to any government, to declare publicly and formally, and as it were with an oath, that there is one limit in politics which their con- sciences will not allow them to pass. They will resist the loss of the unity secured by seven centuries of battle. Olozaga's is the only Minister's letter yet published, but it is evident that his tone must be that of the diplomatic service at large,. for it is incredible that all Europe should have protested against a Federalism which can hurt nobody North of the Pyrenees. The Courts may dread a victory of the Inter- national, say in Catalonia ; but Spain has little influ- ence on opinion, and their ideas have, we imagine-, been reported to Madrid by very willing pens. With the foreign Powers, the statesmen, and the Generals so adverse, it would be difficult for a new Ministry with no particular title to declare itself Federalist ; and there is, as we believe, another reason, of which no one talks, and that is the agrarian question. Spain is in the unhappy position of being the one Continental State in which the agrarian question is as urgent as it once was in France, Naples, and Prussia, and has never reached a settlement. The difficulty varies in different provinces, from Andalusia, where everybody is a. tenant-at-will, to Biscay, where the cultivators own the. soil ; but everywhere there is need for a land law which will define rights, secure tenures, and affect the whole future of Spain. Proprietors fear that if this law is local it will be merely confiscatory, and are ready to sacrifice anything to avoid a danger which they feel as the great absentee landlords would have felt a native Parliament in Ireland. This throws them on the side of unity, as it throws also all those moderate men, some of whom exist in Spain, who wish that if the Federal experiment is inevitable, some of its social dangers should be removed first. We confess that, not believing in theft as a regenerating agent, we think their arguments strong, and Figueras in the right. in pronouncing, on the whole and with reserves, for the unity of the legislative power.

Nevertheless this unity, if once definitively adopted, is a cause of weakness to the Republican party in Spain. It will take the heart out of their rank and file. Spanish Republicans as a body are not men of hot ideas, intent on getting rid of an illogical, or unreasonable, or degrading system of government ; but are men inspired with a hope, not quite so unreasonable, perhaps, as it looks, that local freedom would materially benefit their condition, would relieve them of military service, would prevent the military punishment of every trivial riot- s great oppression in Spain, and indeed throughout the Con- tinent outside Switzerland—and would place them on a vantage-ground in the great contest between capital and labour. That contest, bitter even in England, where it is ameliorated by the general instinct of moderation, by the Unions, and by the national horror of blood, rages silently all over the Continent, and is nowhere so envenomed as it is in Spain, where in 1869 employers were in many places in danger of violent and painful death. Barcelona was only saved by force, and there were rural districts where the right of property was restored only by the bayonet, employed, we fear, as it always is in such cases, with violence beyond the occasion. It is almost indispensable that the struggle should be moderated by the central power, but when it is moderated reaction sets in, and Republicans declare, often truly, that the end for which they fought, equality between employers and employed, is practically abolished, that their Welsh colliers on strike work under compulsion of the bayonet. They hope to avoid that compulsion, and we fear, when they see they are not to be left absolutely alone face to face with capi- tal, they will not be zealous for any form of government. If Figueras can get over this difficulty, he will do more to make the Republic possible in Spain than by any number of decrees

that in Spain, as in France, the stars in their courses are for the first time fighting for the Republic. That it should have risen to the top unstained by bloodshed, without in- surrection, without enemies to punish, without an escort of armed men thirsting for revenge, is a piece of good fortune almost without a precedent in the history of Liberalism. That it should have at hand such leaders as it has, men without violence, unless it be on ecclesiastical questions, and incor- ruptible men, and men not afraid of government by debate, is a point in its favour wholly unexpected, even by those few who do not believe that a Spanish politician is necessarily base. And finally, that it should have been accepted over all Spain, that the great official class should have become accustomed even for a moment to regard it as supreme, this is of itself a victory not to be overrated. Every day of its existence must strengthen it. Every day brings to its side that influence of habit which, with all races of men, is found to be the strongest of all ; and the weight of that motive-power of conservatism, the preference of the known to the unknown in government. If the Republic can last a year it may last for ever, and an interregnum much more irregular and anarchical than a Republic lasted in Spain for two.