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THE CARLISTS: THEIR CASE, THEIR CAUSE, THEIR CHIEFS.
ABOUT the end of last year i.e., of 1897-the writer of these words asked a priest of the very clerical town of Vich, in the hillcountry of Catalonia, whether a revival of the Carlist cause was not to be expected in the troubles of Spain. The answer was an emphatic and even derisive negative. "Carlistas, Señor," said he; "no, indeed, all that is ancient history-ha pasado á la historia-we suffered too much from the last war, and will not go out again. We are too tired of everything." The priest may have said what he really thought, or may have exercised a strict economy of truth, holding it better only to say what was safe. Yet the truth of his answer was "probal to thinking," and his judgment was largely in harmony with that of men of very different types. Lawyers and men of business also refused to believe in a Carlist rising as an immediate serious danger. It was not that they thought the thing quite impossible, but only most improbable, unless a certain antecedent condition were first supplied. The reappearance of of the Carlist bands, in their opinion, was a disaster which would follow others, but not come spontaneously of itself. Still, to some minds, the supposition that the old cry of Dios, Patria, y ReyGod, Country, and King-might be heard once more, was serious. The question asked of the priest in Vich was put to the curator
of the monastery of Poblet near Tarragona-the old burial-place of the Kings of Aragon, a vast combination of religious house, palace, and fortress, which may well have given Philip II., who once visited it, the idea of the Escorial. He was an old man, whose memory went back to the thirties, when the abbot of Poblet was still a prince, and when 700 Cistercian monks, lay - brothers, foresters, huntsmen, and workmen lived within the walls. He had seen the country - people break in and burn the title-deeds, and could remember how a "Liberal" rabble from Tarragona followed soon after, tore the embalmed body of James the Conqueror from his tomb, and propped it up at the door with a musket in its arms. They played skittles in the cloister with the bones and skulls of the princes of the house of Aragon. This, and the vengeance for this, were vivid in the old man's mind, and he answered one's light inquiry whether the Carlists might not come again by drawing himself together, with a look of suspicion and fear, and the words, "I hope not, Señor; I have seen them three times, and trust not to see them again in the days of my life." Yet even to him a recrudescence of the Carlist cause was a misfortune rather to be dreaded than expected.
Catalonia was a great headquarters of the party, and if it does not move, little can be
done for Don Carlos. Nevertheless, we have heard a great deal of late of agitations, of significant movements on the part of the Pretender, of committees at work in the towns to collect recruits, and of what, if true, is serious—namely, of attempts, more or less successful, to debauch the troops. At the lowest there is something in all this, even if it be only a Stock Exchange manoeuvre meant to frighten the public and affect the market. People would not be frightened by what they know to be a mere scarecrow of rags and patches. Therefore it is not superfluous to take a look once more at the Carlists, their chiefs, their real cause, and their technical case. A few words very few will suffice-may be given to the last named. The Carlist case is not what it professes to be, and what the rather comic poseurs of the White Rose League, who perform private theatricals in the streets round the statues of Charles I. and James II., emphatically tell us that it is namely, a legitimist case. Even comparatively sober people talk about "the undoubted right of Don Carlos." There is no such thing. The theorists of the party maintain, since there is rooted desire in human nature for a legal excuse of some kind, that the descent of the crown in Spain was to heirs-male only, and that Ferdinand VII. had no authority to set aside his brother, the first Don Carlos, in favour of his daughter, Isabel II., grandmother of the present sovereign, who in her early years was
pathetically called La Inocente -the Innocent. But their contention is in direct contradiction both to the written law and the uniform practice of all the states of the Peninsula. We will not oppress our readers with a display of what is, after all, sufficiently easy learning. It is enough to say that two things are certain in Spanish history. One is, that the right of the king's daughter to succeed when he left no son was beyond dispute. It is affirmed in the code of laws called the Siete Partidas. It was acted on when Urraca succeeded her father Alfonso VI. in Castile, and Petronilla succeeded her father Ramiro, the ex-claustrated monk, in Aragon. Isabel la Católica succeeded her brother Henry in Castile. Her right was only contested by Henry's putative daughter, Juana la Belibaneja, who was set aside by the Cortes because it was not humanly possible to believe her legitimate. Observe the contest here was between two ladies, and the right of La Belibaneja (in which name there is concealed an old scandal) was clear, if certain notorious transactions, ignominious to human nature, had allowed the Prelates, Ricoshombres-i.e., the barons-and good towns of Castile to accept her as the daughter of King Henry. The Catholic sovereigns were succeeded by their daughter, Juana la Loca-the Mad. During all the poor lady's long life of melancholy insanity her name appeared in public Acts as Queen of Castile. The second point is, that in disputed cases the Cortes decided, There is
a famous example in the choice of Ferdinand, surnamed of Antequera, of the House of Castile, to succeed to the crown of Aragon on the death of Martin the Humane. He was preferred for his known wisdom and sufficiency; but he claimed through his mother, a princess of Aragon. The Hapsburgs did indeed make a family compact by which the Spanish and Austrian branches were to be heirs of one another, on the failure of heirs-male in either. This family compact was never law, and was disregarded by Carlos II., the Bewitched, who made his will in favour of his sister, the wife of Lewis XIV., and her heirs. Philip V., the first of the Bourbon kings, did indeed establish the Salic line in Spain, for reasons of his own, by "pragmatic sanction," and against the will of his Spanish subjects. This pragmatic sanction was revoked by his grandson, Charles IV., in a Cortes assembled for the purpose. The revocation was not promulgated till his son, Ferdinand VII., found himself dying with no male heir. Ferdinand was a miserable creature, mean and cunning, cowardly and cruel. He behaved wretchedly deciding and revoking his decisions to the last moment. Yet his final word was for his daughter; and if he had never spoken, the Cortes would have been entitled to disregard the "pragmatic sanction
of Philip V. as a mere arbitrary and temporary interference with the old-established law of succession. When the heralds stood in front of the great white Palace at Madrid
and cried, "Oye, Castilla, por la reina Isabel "Hear, Castile, for Queen Isabel-they were proclaiming the "legitimate sovereign of Spain." And so much for the pedantry of the story.
If, then, the Carlists do not stand on a clear legal right, as the French Legitimists can, on what do they stand? On the ambitions of the male line of the Spanish Bourbons, to which the passions, the fears, the faults, the virtues, the local patriotisms, and the fanaticisms of certain portions of the Spanish peoples have given validity. As these qualities have really made the Carlist cause, which owes little indeed to its princes, let us look at them first.
The whole Iliad in a nutshell of modern Spanish history is the reaction of the old bottles against the invasion of the new wine. It is the Carlists who have conducted the fight on the side of the resistance, and what they opposed was everything in politics, religion, or irreligion, which first produced the French Revolution, and then by means of it recast all Europe. They may be said to have begun before the armies of Napoleon had been driven out of the country. There were already men who said that the expulsion of the French was not enough. It was also necessary to expel the Afrancesados, the Frenchified Spaniards, by which name was meant all who were known, or even suspected, to be touched by "Liberalism." The conflict fills the whole reign of Ferdinand, and it is this clash of principles which alone gives some measure of interest and in
telligibility to a long, most kings please and the saying
brainless, and always sanguinary welter. The immediate ancestors of the Carlists were the organisers of the so-called war of the
the "Agraviados," which blazed up among the mountains of Catalonia in 1827. The Agraviados, or aggrieved persons, were in fact the extreme churchmen and their lay supporters, who thought the king too lenient to "Freemasons and suchlike. They had for motto "Religion, King, and Inquisition," and for chief The Trappist, who again had for his Egeria a lady of mixed Spanish and Irish blood, by name Josefina Comerford-of whom one would like to know more. The Agraviados were partly suppressed, partly soothed down, but from them came the Carlists. It is necessary to compress, but the reader will understand that there was an extreme bigot party, for which the despotism of Ferdinand VII. was not despotic enough.
is no less true of parties. The Carlists adhered to the innovation of the first Bourbon king, though it had been formally revoked, because they thought it would enable them to resist other innovations which they regarded with active hate.
The Carlists militant and the Carlists in sympathy were certainly the majority of the population of Spain in 1833, when Ferdinand died. Why, then, did they not win? Firstly, because the king had been forced in his later years to propitiate the Liberals in order that they might support his daughter. The Liberals were strong in the towns, and numerous among the army officers. Secondly, because Ferdinand put the whole machinery of Government into the hands of his wife Cristina before he died, and the Carlists had to fight whatever organised force there was in the country. Thirdly, because their princely chiefs were but Spanish Bourbons, which means persons of very little courage and conduct. Fourthly, and mainly, because of the essentially anarchical character of the Spaniard. This it was which, in the longrun, and though it has helped the them to many successes, has proved their ruin. The same thing was working on the other side; but there, at any rate, it was found in combination with some machinery of Government.
It looked to Don Carlos, the king's next brother, as chief, and would probably have risen before Ferdinand's death if its princely figurehead (for he was really little more) had not shown an invincible reluctance to take arms against his lord and sovereign. This being situation, we can easily understand how it came to pass that men who professed above all things to be resolute in standing on the old ways were found to declare that the pragmatic sanction of Philip V. was too sacred to be revoked. "Allá van leyes do quieren Reyes," says the Spanish proverb-Laws go as
It is very necessary to distinguish between what may be called the sentimental and the effective Carlists. Under the first were and are to be put