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self to so much of it as his necessities required, giving bonds to the consignees for its repayment. The great traders of Seville, to whom this arrangement was, of course, highly unsatisfactory, ventured, on the accession of Philip II., to transfer their bullion from the public vaults to their own counting-houses. Philip had recourse to his father for advice. The Emperor, who was generally supposed to have discarded all thoughts of mundane affairs, and to be wholly occupied with religious exercises, was thereupon moved to such an excess of wrath, that he recommended that the culprits should be immediately arrested, loaded with irons, imprisoned in the fortress of Simancas, and there put to the torture, and their property confiscated ; and such,' wrote his secretary, 'is His Majesty's indignation, and such the bloodthirsty expressions he commands me to use, that you will pardon me if my language is not so temperate as it might be.'* Such an arbitrary appropriation by the Sovereign of the property of his subjects was alone sufficient to ruin trade and to drive merchants out of the country.
The circuitous trade which Spain compelled her colonies to submit to, not only grievously injured them, but affected in the most mischievous manner all her own industrial interests. Not a single article of European produce or manufacture could reach America unless it came direct from the ports of Spain, while on the other hand the gold and silver and all the other costly and coveted productions of the New World were shipped direct to the mother-country. The wines of Italy, the corn of Sicily, the fine fabrics of the Netherlands, the woollens and hardware of England, the silks and velvets of France, and all the rare and precious productions of the tropics filled to repletion the warehouses of Seville and Cadiz. But, in point of fact, these goods were merely intended for transshipment; the Spanish merchants only lent their names to cover the trade of foreigners, who reaped all the benefit of it; while the vineyards of Spain were thrown out of cultivation, arable lands converted into sheep-walks, manu
See Appendix to Prescott's History of Charles V.' † It is instructive to observe how rapidly the ruinous policy pursued both by the Emperor and his son Philip II. told upon the finances of Spain. Weighed down by care, the latter had recourse to Garnica, a man of great political experience, and addressed to him the most singular letter that ever was written by a sovereign in distress. See,' he says, 'what I suffer, finding myself at the age of forty-eight with a prince three years old, and leaving him an exchequer so much out of condition. And besides this, what will be the wants of old age, for they appear already commencing, if I live much longer without seeing on one day how I am to live the next? Debts and exchanges consume everything, even life itself, and weigh so heavily upon me, that I do not know how I am able to breathe.'— De Castro's Spanish Protestants.' The letter is quoted in Davila,
factories closed, and mines abandoned. It seemed as if both worlds had become tributary to Spain and were pouring their riches into the lap of the most favoured people on the earth, while a gangrene was slowly consuming the life of the nation. Great numbers of the peasantry and artisans were thrown out of employment, and became either beggars, or robbers, or monks. The productive classes of the community diminished year by year, and native capitalists almost disappeared.*
The decline of Spain now proceeded with an accelerated pace. The monarchy was soon brought to the verge of ruin. All classes were steeped in a common poverty. The monarchs of the house of Hapsburg had reigned over Spain for two hundred years, and when Charles II. died the national prostration was complete. The proudest and most ambitious power on the earth had become indifferent to disgrace and sank into the apathy of despair. The whole head was sick, and the whole heart faint. The population, which in the first half of the sixteenth century was ten millions, had fallen to less than six millions, and a revenue which had amounted to 280,000,000 reals had dwindled to 30,000,000. The minister, to prevent a total dissolution of government, was obliged to address begging letters to the nobility, and even to appropriate money and plate which had been placed in the churches for safe custody. So completely changed was the spirit of the nation that even the passion for war became extinct
. The army was almost wholly composed of Germans, Walloons, and Italians; the few Spaniards that could be induced to enlist were recruited from the beggars that had multiplied like the vermin of the land. The people cursed the foreign possessions that were continually calling for reinforcements. In the Neapolitan territories there were not six companies of infantry fit for duty. Sicily was defended by 500 men. There were scarcely 200 in the island of Sardinia ; fewer still in Minorca, and none at all in America. The only sea-going ships were the traders to the Indies. Six old men-of-war lay rotting at their moorings before Carthagena. The fisheries were abandoned to interlopers, and the remains of a once magnificent commerce were helplessly yielded up a prey to pirates. In the great Transatlantic colonies serious disturbances were reported, and corsairs from all parts of the globe spread terror along their shores. The punishment of Spain for her savage bigotry and tyranny had come in a form the most damaging to her honour and self-respect. The United
* In Seville the number of rich manufacturers is said to have fallen to onetwentieth, and the population to less than one-half, at the close of the reign of Charles II.
Provinces, that country of obstinate and irreclaimable heretics, had risen rapidly in prosperity and importance until it became the commercial emporium of the world. It amassed enormous wealth, created a great navy, seized the galleons as they returned with the treasures of the New World, insulted the great colonies by maritime expeditions, and precipitated its old oppressor into bankruptcy and ruin.
The nobility had, as a body, fallen into a state of moral and physical degradation. They were equally incapable of military exertion and of the performance of the civil duties which were inseparable from their position and their rank. The professions were deserted, and even the humblest members of society refused to work. Spain contained 180,000 monks, nuns, and priests. The Jesuits had given a false direction to the education of the higher classes, and indisposed them for active service of the State.* The influence of the order was second only to that of the Inquisition, and it was mischievously active throughout every department of social life. For two hundred years it continued to sap the power and strength of the nation. The banishment of the whole Society was effected by Aranda, the minister of Charles III. Its views and interests must have clashed with those of the Church, for it appears that 6 archbishops and 26 bishops cordially approved of the decree of banishment and sequestration ; and when an attempt was made in 1815 to procure a restoration of the order, only 2 archbishops and 6 bishops were favourable to the project. †
The enormous quantity of land held in mortmain was one conspicuous cause of the national decay. In the sixteenth century there were frequent complaints of the enormous wealth of the Church. The secular clergy, a valuable class, suffered from the extension of the possessions of the Church, for as monasteries multiplied tithes fell off, and labourers decreased, and the land was left uncultivated. Six-tenths of the province of Toledo belonged to the Church, and one-fifth of all the land in Spain was held in mortmain. The evil at length attained such gigantic proportions that resolute efforts were made to check it, and in several of the provinces laymen simultaneously suggested remedies for an evil which was eating away the heart of the nation. During the reign of the Emperor Charles V. there were not wanting advisers who hinted to him the expe
* Juan de Regla, the confessor of the Emperor Charles V., commenting on the principles of this religious order, says, “All the gentlemen whom they take in hand, instead of making them lions, they make them hens.'-“The Spanish Protestants,' by De Castro. † ‘Geschichte Spaniens,' by Baumgarten, p. 89.
diency of relieving the royal wants from this tempting source. The Duke of Alva, bigot as he was, proposed a root-and-branch reform in the temporalities of the Church. He is known to have often intimated to his Sovereign that the clergy possessed revenues greatly exceeding those of the State. Let these churchmen,' he once boldly said, 'be deprived of their fiefs and baronies, and there will be in your Majesty's hands an ample fund, not merely to oppose, but to annihilate the enemies of the Church.' He complained-probably with even greater energythat such was the monopoly of the soil by churchmen, that the Emperor scarcely possessed an inch of land wherewith to reward the services of his faithful captains. All the reformers who attacked the abuses of the Church in Spain contended that a stringent law of mortmain would be only a return to the principles and practice of their ancestors; and, at a later period, Campomanes and Jovellanos, the great economical authorities of the country, proved in the clearest manner that the accumulation of property by clerical corporations was expressly forbidden by the laws of the ancient kingdoms of Spain.
The expulsion of the Moors after the conquest of Granada might perhaps be excused as an act of policy. It probably presented the only effectual security against the revival of religious wars; but the Moriscoes, or Spaniards of Moorish descent, were too inconsiderable in number to cause any serious apprehension, and their banishment was as impolitic as it was unjust. The country suffered greatly in its material interests by the removal of 100,000 of the most skilful and industrious of its inhabitants. The expulsion of the Jews was still more unjustifiable: at least 400,000 of these people were driven from the country. The clergy had succeeded in exciting the most malignant enmity towards this unfortunate race. To witness the burning of a Jew was always an exquisite gratification; but this popular entertainment was put an end to by a general proscription.
The true causes of the decline of Spain were a depressing superstition which poisoned the springs of national life, vast wars of ambition which drained the country of its population and wealth, the enormous possessions of the Church, a ruinous colonial policy, unsound principles of taxation, and a corrupt and partial administration of justice.
There are three well defined epochs in Spanish history. Ist. The constitution of its nationality and political unity under Ferdinand and Isabella, to the period of its highest grandeur, under the Emperor Charles V. and Philip II. 2nd. Its gradual decline from the reign of Philip II. to the commencement of that of Philip V. 3rd. Its progressive advancement, frequently inter
rupted, from the accession of Philip V. to the present day. Ferdinand VI. and Charles III. were great regenerators of Spain. They diminished taxation, restored order to the finances, and encouraged agriculture and manufactures. Charles III. first departed from the traditionary commercial policy of Spain, and opened the ports of the American colonies to the ships of all nations. The commercial policy has varied at different periods according to the views more or less enlightened of the minister of the day. The importation of foreign manufactures, having long been encouraged, was afterwards rendered as difficult as possible; and the exportation of the precious metals, once free, was in a subsequent age altogether prohibited. The exportation was equally forbidden of all raw materials that could be wrought up into manufactured articles in Spain. The wisest and ablest native statesman that Spain probably ever possessed, Ensenada, the finance minister of Ferdinand VI., substituted a moderate duty for the prohibition on the export of gold and silver. The deficiency of the revenue had become a chronic malady, but Ensenada for the first time obtained a surplus. The period between the years 1748 and 1754 was remarkable for the restoration of Spain to considerable power and influence. The American possessions during that period had paid the enormous sum of 3077 millions of reals, or 513 millions annually, into the public treasury. In 1751 Spain had 20 ships of the line building. In 1758 she possessed 44 ships of the line, 19 frigates, and 22 sloops of war. Ensenada was enabled' to declare with pardonable exultation that, with a fleet of 60 sail of the line, an army of 90,000 men, and a surplus of 600 millions of reals in the treasury, all of which he confidently hoped to possess,' Spain might venture to disregard the power of England and to defy the arms of France.
The influence of the French Revolution upon Spain was at first to attach her more firmly to her own absolutism, and she took up arms against France, as a holy war against infidelity and regicide. Drawn afterwards by the irresistible course of events into a close connexion with the republic, the alliance was fatal to her independence; and the destruction of her navy, which had become considerable, was the result. Her subsequent alliance with England against the oppressor of Europe drew the two nations into the closest relations; and in fighting the battle of liberation together upon Spanish soil they ought to have laid the foundation of a permanent friendship. Abortive constitutions, tyrannical misgovernment, violent changes, the loss of colonies, pernicious foreign interference, mark the melan