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and the shuffling figure of the Great Power. Under the Moorish banner,' remarked a Spanish politician the other day, are gathered most of the discontented nationalities and groups of the Peninsula—Catalans, Basques, Republicans, Socialists, Anarchists. In the Protean figure of Abdul Krim we recognise them all. And, worst of all, among them you might find men who were lately in high places, trusted servants of the nation, who have gone unpunished. ...'
From the Moroccan ordeal there is now no escape. Spain can neither advance nor retreat. She must stand and make good her claims or else be driven in ignominy across the narrow Straits, leaving her place to Italy.
The disaster of Melilla brought on the crisis. Seemingly it was one of those unforeseen strokes of misfortune encountered in most wars by gallant armies. Seemingly. But its specific character lay in certain terrible suspicions that mayhap black treason was at the bottom of it all-treason within and treason without, demonstrable, but not punishable. A nation's worst enemies are those of its own household, and when these are armed and aided by a foreign foe, the situation may easily become desperate. And it was currently believed that it was so in Spain. Anyhow, the tribesmen, dazzled by the overwhelming strength of the French, now beheld the all-round weakness of the Spaniards, the flimsiness of their resources, their lack of military leadership, and the odds in favour of resistance. Spain's prestige fell throughout the globe, the moral shock to the nation was stunning, and it was bereft of an organ to enable it to rise and retrieve the disaster.
It was at this conjuncture that the army bestirred itself, no longer in its corporate capacity or in the form of remonstrance as it had done a few years before; but through a spokesman who acted on his own responsibility, with no mission from military juntas, no authority from the nation, no protection to shield him from the consequences of failure, nothing but a patriotic impulse, a stimulus from within. Ever since the year 1917 this fateful step was a peremptory necessity. It became the duty of any one who could to save the country from the fate that was overtaking it. But no one ventured. Primo de Rivera was at that time Captain General of Catalonia, the hotbed of political and social non-conformity in the kingdom. The General is a plain military man with no claims to anything but common sense, courage, love of his country, and loyalty to the King. He has never affected the theatrical pose of certain dictators in other lands. His shortcomings are those of the Spanish officer, and they endear him to his fellowcountrymen whose sympathies are bespoken by men's faults as well as by their good points. Among the professional politicians whom he has since relegated to the background there were some whose conception of human progress, knowledge of politics, and intellectual qualifications generally were distinctly superior to his own. Indeed, he laid claim to no exceptional attain
. ments, no rare moral depth, no special vocation. But what differentiated him from them all was his keener sense of the peril that encompassed his country, his more sentimental faith in the moral buoyancy of the nation, his indignation against the constitutional triflers, and his belief that what the occasion called for was not so much a spiritual guide as an honest stimulating agent.
Whatever else one may think of the State-stroke of Sept. 13, it will hardly be gainsaid that Primo did what patriotic Spaniards were hoping that some one would do. Often before had people longed for a dictator, for any kind of real government, but, beyond sighs and plaints and vain hopes, nobody ventured. Would-be reformers complained that the collapse of their country was so grave that it could bear neither the ravages of its disorders nor their remedies, and that a revolution was at once indispensable and impossible. Primo denied this, and said : Once wake up the people, and it will soon find its own level, which is in a fairly high place.' And in order to provide the needed stimulus he accepted responsibilities and ran risks. By these means he raised hopes and awakened self-confidence in the nation, and that was all that any one man could do. The feat which he actually achieved was taking the initiative and breaking the evil spell.
Face to face with his Herculean task the Dictator pursued his course unflaggingly although he had no rounded plan, no organisation, no adequate instruments
among civilians, and so little did he realise the nature of the task that he hoped to accomplish it in three calendar months! He undertook, however, to do certain things which, although not sufficient to solve the problem of substantial reconstruction, would go far towards alleviating conditions in the country. He promised to see that the army served the nation, and, as a corollary, that the Moroccan deadlock should speedily terminate. He also volunteered to fix responsibility for the disasters abroad and abuses at home, and in particular to call upon ex-Minister Alba to clear himself of grave charges. Meanwhile, Señor Alba motored comfortably across the frontier, and the accusations levelled against him have never been sifted judicially. Gradually it was seen that the promises which had brought the General his first enthusiastic supporters could not be redeemed in full. Their value lay in the evidence they afforded of his good will and the light they shed on the ruling conditions. The Directory began as a new broom, but it soon became apparent that a large portion of the intended sweepings was out of its reach. This delinquent was beyond the jurisdiction of the Spanish courts. That other individual possessed a series of compromising letters which would open up broader issues than any then under consideration and do greater harm than the escape of a few culpable public servants.
The one comprehensive and redoubtable problem which called the Directorate out of nothingness and may thrust it back whence it came, turns upon Morocco. How to deal with its many facets is still exercising the ingenuity of the rulers. It connotes a military problem, a financial problem, an economic problem, a national and an international problem, with the usual figure of a Great Power looming in the offing. It touches the interests of the nation at a thousand points and seems inextricably bound up with Spain's immediate and distant future. The Directory, which is nowise answerable for this muddle, decided to withdraw from a number of advanced and isolated posts, and to occupy a shorter line with positions of greater capacity for defence. Still, a large and costly army is needed to hold it.
The Moroccan problem might have been solved with ease during the World War when the tribesmen, bereft
of arms and ammunition, were at the mercy of Spain. But the phrase-mongers of the Cortes let the oppor. tunity slip. Later on, a civil Protectorate might have been proclaimed successfully, but the rulers were too engrossed with their squabbles to think of it. In a word, the entire constitutional system as a guardian of the nation's interest was seen by all to be a dangerous delusion, a national snare. It was at that conjuncture, in 1917, and during a crisis brought about by the antiMonarchist wing of the 'Liberal Monarchists'-save the mark!--that the army crossed the Rubicon and resolved to have its say in forging the nation's destinies. Patriotic sentiment, however, was not its only motive. It had an axe of its own to grind as well. Preferment in the army had long been the work of rank favouritism, and its results were demoralising to the officers and ruinous to the nation. The King's name, too, was used freely, at times openly, by Liberal War-ministers to shield themselves from odium, and his prestige was accordingly impaired. Incidentally, it may be said that the Liberal Cabinets encouraged the Monarch to take the initiative, and then allowed his enemies to saddle him with the responsibility which it was their duty to accept for themselves. The Conservatives were less obsequious. Maura took his rôle seriously and never yielded an inch to the King. The relations of the two to each other were always formal. It is interesting to note that his Majesty is accustomed to address Count Romanones, and indeed most Liberals, with the familiar .thou,' whereas to the Conservative chief he invariably speaks as 'Don Antonio,' and employs the pronoun of the second person plural.
The intervention of the army in complex matters alien to its functions was necessarily a clumsy failure. It was also a powerful irritant and begot intrigues which extended from Madrid to Paris and the Rif. The agitation was directed against the King, and the International Propaganda College' set to work to 'atmosphere' the humanitarian world. The press of Paris and Rome, of London and Frankfurt, announced, just as it is announcing to-day, the advent of the final crisis and the impending triumph of Republicanism in Spain, whereupon a revolutionary wave flooded in which alarmed the best elements of the nation.
Now the King, like his father, had played the game,' and was perfectly loyal to the sham constitution. No doubt he occasionally used his influence to the fullest extent and perhaps not always wisely, as is the wont and the right of all constitutional monarchs, but he eschewed acts that were not duly covered by a responsible Minister. And that is all that a rigorous parliamentarian can reasonably demand. Under the Republican and semi-Republican Liberals he had much more scope for action than when the Conservatives were in office. For whenever Maura and his colleagues decided upon a policy it was settled for good, and the Premier was deaf to suggestions from irresponsible sources however exalted. On the other hand, Alfonso XIII never overstepped the limits legally assigned to him. Of this moderation many striking examples might be adduced.
One day many years ago, Count Romanones, in conversation with the King about civil marriage produced a royal order on the subject, which was calculated to cause heart-burnings among large sections of the population. • What is that?' asked the Monarch.
• The royal order. I thought your Majesty might like to see it before it is promulgated. With your permission, therefore, I will read it. Most certainly not,' replied the King. I have no wish to know it. If I allowed you to acquaint me with the gist of it before you send it to the “ Gaceta," I should be encroaching upon the functions of the Government. Send it to the "Gaceta," and I will
. read it there.'*
Alfonso XIII has often taken the initiative, never the responsibility, and when his Ministers felt unable to go with him he unhesitatingly gave up his proposals. A case of this kind happened in the year 1910. What seemed a brilliant idea occurred to the royal mind and he laid it before his Ministers. They dissented. He argued the point closely and warmly as, considering its bearings on the welfare of the country, he was entitled to do. As neither side convinced the other, they called in the leader of the Opposition, who entirely agreed with
In Spain there are laws made by the Legislature, royal decrees signed by the King, and royal orders signed only by a Minister who enjoys the King's confidence, but acts without consulting the Monarch. The document in question belonged to the last category.