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and insubordinate of the Spanish provinces, and frequently the seat of political disturbances. It borders on France, and is infested by halfrobber, half-rebel bands, the remnants of the factions of the civil wars which lurk about the French frontiers. There is a small but busy party of republicans, also, at Barcelona, who would gladly pull down the present form of government, and establish a republic. Catalonia also has a strong manufacturing interest, having many cotton manufactories. This has taken the alarm at the rumor of a proposed commercial treaty with England for the introduction of her cotton goods at a lower rate of duties, so that there is a mixture of various motives in the present convulsion; and the whole has been thrown in a ferment by the intrigues of foreign agents, who seek the confusion of Spain and the downfall of its constitutional government. The present insurrection seems to have broken out suddenly and accidentally, some trifling affray with custom-house officers having been the spark which has set the combustible community in a flame. There has been fighting in the streets, as in the famous "three days of Paris," and the troops have been obliged to evacuate the city, but hold it closely invested. The Regent set off from Madrid some days since for the scene of action, and troops are concentrating upon Catalonia from every direction : in the meantime, Madrid is full of rumors and reports that insurrections are breaking out in other provinces, but I believe, as yet, the insurrection is confined to Barcelona, and I think it probable it will be suppressed without much difficulty.
The departure of the Regent was a striking scene. All the uniform companies, or national guard of Madrid, consisting of several thousand men, well armed, equipped, and disciplined, paraded in the grand esplanade of the Prado in the neighborhood of the Regent's palace of Buena Vista. They really made a splendid appearance, and the air resounded with military music, several of the regiments having complete bands. It was a bright, sunshiny day. About two o'clock, the Regent sallied forth from Buena Vista, at the head of his staff. He is a fine martial figure, and was arrayed in full uniform, with towering feathers and mounted on a noble gray charger with a flowing mane, and a long silken tail that almost swept the ground. He rode along the heads of the col
umns, saluting them with his gauntleted hand, and receiving cheers wherever he went. He stopped to speak particularly with some of the troops of horsemen ; then, returning to the centre of the esplanade, he drew his sword, made a signal as if about to speak, and in an instant a profound silence prevailed over that vast body of troops, and the thousands of surrounding spectators. I do not know that ever I was more struck by anything than by this sudden quiet of an immense multitude. The Regent then moved slowly backward and forward with his horse, about a space of thirty yards, waving his sword, and addressing the troops in a voice so loud and clear, that every word could be distinctly heard to a great distance. The purport of his speech was to proclaim his determination to protect the present constitution and the liberties of Spain against despotism on the one hand and anarchy on the other; and that, as on a former occasion, when summoned away by distant insurrection, he confided to the loyalty of the national guards the protection of the peace of the capital, and the safeguard of their young and innocent Queen. His speech was responded to by enthusiastic acclamations from the troops and the multitude, and he sallied forth in martial style from the great gate of Alcala.
I must note, to complete the scene, that just as Espartero issued forth from Buena Vista, and rode slowly down the Prado between the columns of the troops, a solitary raven came sailing down the course of the public promenade, passed immediately above him, and over the whole line of troops, and so flitted heavily out of sight. This has been cited, even in the public papers, as a bad omen; and some of the superstitious say Espartero will never return to Madrid. I should not be surprised, however, if the omen had been prepared by some of the petty politicians with which this capital abounds, and that the raven had been let loose just at this opportune moment. However, with this portentous circumstance I will close my letter, especially as I have just received despatches from government, which, with the stirring events of the day, will cut out plenty of occupation for me.
With love to all, your affectionate brother,
A fortnight later, he writes to the same correspondent:
My last letter ended, I think, with the departure of the Regent to quell the insurrection in Barcelona. He travelled in his own fearless style, pushing on in a post-chaise ahead of his troops, and without escort, accompanied merely by an officer or two of his staff, and threw himself frankly among the people in the towns and villages, who showed the sense of this confidence in their loyalty, receiving him everywhere with acclamations. After his departure Madrid was full of rumors; insurrections were said to be breaking out everywhere. The downfall of Espartero and of the existing government was confidently predicted, and there were not wanting factious people and factious prints to endeavor to blow this hidden flame into a general conflagration. Thus far, however, they have been disappointed. Madrid has remained quiet under the guardianship of the national guards, and the insurrection did not extend beyond Barcelona. That factious city has once more been brought into submission to the government, but not until it had suffered a bombardment of several hours. As yet, we have no particulars of the damage done, but it must have been considerable, and I fear we shall hear of some punishments inflicted upon those who have been most active in exciting this rebellion. Barcelona has sinned so often in this way, that it is deemed necessary to treat it, in the present instance, with rigor. The bombardment, though repeatedly threatened, and the day and hour assigned, was put off from day to day and hour to hour, in the hope that the insurgent city would surrender; but a band of desperadoes had got the upper hand, who refused to submit excepting on such terms as it would have been degrading to the government to grant.
The year of Mr. Irving's departure on his interesting mission was memorable for two attacks on him, to which it is necessary to allude, to clear the way for the letters from him which I am about to quote. A writer in the
"Southern Literary Messenger," in March, 1841, had been at great pains to show that Mr. Irving's expressions. of obligations to Navarrete, in the preface to his "Life of Columbus," were not sufficiently explicit, while conceding that he had performed his historical task with accuracy, judgment, and infinite beauty." In the writer's estimation, his statements implied, though perhaps unintentionally, he admits, a more extensive search into original documents than he could have made, while the history was mainly digested from documents already collected by Navarrete.
The article was sent to Mr. Irving, and, without a perusal, handed over by him to a candid and discriminating friend, with a request that he would read it, and tell him if there was anything in it which required an answer at his hands. If so, he would notice it; otherwise he did not care to be discomposed by reading it. He claimed no immunity from critical animadversions, but it was his practice to shun the perusal of all strictures that did not involve a point of character, and demand reply.
His friend read it, and, satisfied of the unsoundness of the strictures, and that his acknowledgments to Navarrete were ample, advised him to give himself no concern about it. He dismissed it, accordingly, from his thoughts.
In the May number of 1842 of the same magazine, after Mr. Irving had left the country, the writer returns to the attack; and, as more than a year had elapsed
without any notice or refutation by the author, or his friends, of his "grave charges," he comes to the conclusion that he had preferred "the quiet disparagement of a judgment by default to the notoriety of a verdict after a fruitless contest." To this article there was a reply in the "Knickerbocker," to which Mr. Irving was in no ways privy, and a rejoinder in the "Messenger," in which the writer, with compliments to the purity and richness of his general style, still adhered to his original position that Mr. Irving had not sufficiently acknowledged his indebtedness to Navarrete.
The other attack was in Graham's "Lady's and Gentleman's Magazine," then under the editorial management of the Rev. Rufus W. Griswold, a Baptist clergyman of some six-and-twenty years, who had recently given to the world a valuable compilation, styled "The Poets and Poetry of America." The "Magazine' was published in Philadelphia; had a circulation, it was said, of fifty thousand subscribers, and numbered, among its regular contributors, Cooper, Bryant, Dana, and other distinguished names. In a notice of the "Critical and Miscellaneous Writings of Sir Walter Scott," contained in the October number of that periodical, was a statement which, after charging Scott with numerous "puffs of himself from his own pen," proceeded in this language: "Washington Irving has done the same thing, in writing laudatory notices of his own works for the Reviews, and, like Scott, received pay for whitewashing himself."