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call of any form of unrest in the Peninsula. 'cosmopolitan College of Propaganda of the Democratic Faith,' as it has been nicknamed, sounded the tocsin and called upon the civilised world to brand with infamy the authors and abettors of a State-stroke which savoured of the sacristy.' Airships laden with anti-Monarchist diatribes then crossed the Pyrenees, entered Spain, and duly dropped leaflets and proclamations which never reached those for whom they were meant. And abroad political quidnuncs, in the intervals of their own struggles and worries, watched fitfully for the crash of doom.
Eighteen months have gone by since then, and events having belied the prophets of evil, the interest aroused by the Spanish transformation scene has slackened considerably. The Monarchy is still in its place, if anything a trifle more firmly established than before. It is the old political parties who have given up the ghost and are awaiting decent burial. Their chiefs, now among the unemployed, are become reasonable, resigned, and apologetic, while a section of their followers are revolutionists in waiting. Spain is more hopeful than before, and somewhat more energetic, but neither definitively settled down, nor sufficiently self-confident, nor yet within sight of any desirable goal. The masses are still unleavened with the faith that moves mountains, but they are to a marked degree less inert than they were.
The origin of the crisis which led to the rise of the Directory may be summed up as the utter collapse of the artificial system of government framed in the year 1875. At that time the horrors of civil war and the ruinous misrule of the Republic inspired universal loathing and a vehement desire for a return to normal life. The
arrangement then hurrriedly thought out for the purpose was provisional, primitive, and mechanical, based on the assumption that a monarchy is the strongest cement for keeping together the various ethnic elements of the population whose general tendency is centrifugal. It was agreed upon that two parties, as in England, should administer the affairs of State in rotation, the 'ins' giving the 'outs' their turn at the national loaves and fishes. The parties, to be known as Liberals and Conservatives, were not weighted with any special political doctrine, this being deemed unimportant. All
that they were bound to do-and this was a sacrosanct obligation-was to uphold the Monarchy in return for their periodic enjoyment of the fruits of office. This pledge was scrupulously redeemed by the Conservatives and the right wing of the Liberals.
In some advanced nations the choice between a Republic and a constitutional monarchy is a matter of indifference. In Spain it chances to be otherwise, the balance of advantages obviously lying on the side of the Monarchy. But there as everywhere the State form is but a means to an end, not a solution of the national and international problems that have to be faced, studied, and settled on their merits. And in their halfhearted attempts to solve those questions the governing parties never had the courage to allow geography to help to mould history or national aims to dominate the sordid interests of individuals and groups.
The Restoration of the Monarchy was welcomed as the opening of a new and prosperous epoch. It was brought about by a few patriotic individuals imbued with a taste for politics and a hankering after power. The masses had no say in the matter nor did they wish for any. The government forged by those King-makers purported to be moulded on that of England, of which, h however, it was merely a parody. The legislature was really a parliament of convention, not of opinion, the axis of the system being the monarch, who was allowed to wield much of the absolute power of his predecessors. Now as a stop-gap, and the lesser of two evils, this rough-cast constitution might pass muster for awhile, but as a permanent political frame-work it was a mockery and a menace. English institutions require English hands and brains to work them, most other peoples merely wresting them to their own undoing. Italy was well-nigh ruined by those importations. To Germany they brought ill luck and a worse perspective. France has lost much and gained nothing by their adoption. They undoubtedly contributed to cause the first revolution in Russia. And to Spain they have proved an unmitigated curse.
The King is the head of the army, and to-day the ordinances of the army are those which were framed under Carlos III, when the Monarchy was frankly absolutist.
The writer of this article had the privilege of personal acquaintanceship with the eminent politicians who first presided over those hybrid institutions, and from the rule of Sagasta, before the war with the United States, down to the present day has known every Premier and discussed current politics with each of them in turn. At first home cares claimed all their attention: the liquidation of the debts of civil war, the struggle with the Die-hards of Carlism and Republicanism and the maintenance of the ordinary functions of law and order. For systematic foreign policy they had neither taste, leisure, nor aptitude. The Conservatives in particular fought shy of it. To stand on good terms with all peoples but on very good terms with none was their guiding principle, and its application deprived the country of staunch friends in its hours of need. The first bitter lesson it received was the loss of its last American possessions which came to pass not because Spain was less of a colonising Power than her neighbours the opposite is demonstrably the fact-but because of shocking mismanagement on the part of her rulers combined with the greed and gold and aggressiveness of the United States.
The Liberals were more venturesome than their sham opponents and if anything more unfortunate, and between the two the conduct of international relations fell into the lines of party conflict. A sinister impression of hesitancy and drift produced by the meaningless strife of political mummers stamped itself upon the foreign mind, discredited the State, and led to untoward consequences. Thus in those early days Spain failed to arrange a commercial treaty with England; almost broke with France over the visit of Alfonso XII to the Central Empires; and let loose a torrent of indignation against Germany on the subject of the Carolines. And when the United States began the series of provocations that culminated in the war, no European Power made a move to ward off the disaster or alleviate its consequences. Having blithely jettisoned the colonies Spain's trustees shifted their attention to Morocco and the army. But here as elsewhere whatever they touched they blighted. It was as though the old Greek Fate had survived into our days and chosen Spain for its victim.
The most sinister of the influences that have hitherto paralysed the moral nerve of Spain is the aloofness of the bulk of the nation from the conduct of its own affairs. For the evil it works goes to the roots of its being. It leaves the political bodies without a wholesome check or a powerful stimulus. The number of individuals alive to the reality and force of social obligations is amazingly small. Spanish culture, hardly ever understood abroad, centres round the family which is the holy of holies. It is intensive and self-developing, not an expanding, proselytising force like that of the Anglo-Saxons. It modestly shrinks from superfluous contact with the outer world and its springs mostly remain hidden from the rude gaze of foreigners. A Spaniard's birthplace is to him at once the hub of the universe and a family shrine. Although he respects the views and customs of his neighbours he abides by his own. Loth to compromise he is slow to co-operate. Politically and socially since the advent of Charles I and Philip II he is as wanting in cohesiveness as a grain of sand. Whether you analyse the Basque, the Andalusian, the Catalan, or the Castilian, you find each one engrossed in his local affairs and indifferent to those of the great community. It is worth noting that in the political domain socialism and syndicalism have no lure for him, as he is impatient of discipline and averse to team work. In fact, he finds anarchism more attractive. Even on religion, which is nothing if not universal and cooperative, the spirit of regionalism has set its profane mark.
Those traits, welcome to most governments, domestic and foreign, were in abeyance in the halcyon days when Spain was still herself; her princes were strong men, leaders, realm-builders, and her municipalities were successfully fighting for liberties, eager for responsibility, and burning with creative enterprise. It may be fairly contended that if left to work out her salvation in her own way at that period of her history, the country would to-day be in the van of European progress. Possibly. But as it fell out Charles I appeared, and together with his Flemish gang began to crush out of existence the germs of advance created by the municipalities. By that time the Spanish peoples had made considerable head
way and were already culture-bearers in the world. Their ims and aspirations were undoubtedly as progressive as the Europe of that day could assimilate. But after The passing of the Flemish Juggernaut absolutism by livine right usurped the place of those Iberian organs of advance which were a natural growth of the soil and "fraught with promise for the nation. With the advent of Charles and the Philips the unifying doctrine of absolutism with a streak of theocracy, forced publicspirited citizens to abandon active participation in the affairs of the nation. And never since then have the Spanish people governed themselves nor have their trustees furthered Spanish interests. History records no national policy in the interval. There have been anti-Protestant, absolutist, Austrian, Bourbon, English, and French policies, but none specifically Spanish.
From that time forward the moral pulse of the nation slackened and the nobler traits of the race deserted the political sphere and confined themselves within the precincts of barracks, camps, and hovels, where they still continue to flourish like violets in the shade. The progressive ideas, disembodied but floating in the atmosphere ready for the auspicious occasion that should endow them with shape, likewise faded into thin air. And beyond the bootless exertions of a few men of broad outlook and civic virtue, nothing has since been done towards moulding a new social order. The sap of progressive life seemed to have dried up.
Spain, therefore, can right herself only by dint of her own collective exertions. The masses must bestir themselves, start anew from where they left off in the days before the Flemings, and be ready to discharge their civic duties. During the century that has elapsed since the Restoration only one politician saw this truth, proclaimed it, and sought to act upon it. Antonio Maura, who would have given his country real reform and honest government, produced a series of admirable schemes for enlisting the active collaboration of the bulk of the people.* He would have linked the present and future
* One of those was a scheme for giving autonomy and a wide scope to the corporations of cities and towns as in the most progressive period of Spanish history. That scheme has since been adopted by the Directory and is known as the Municipal Statute.