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up reading, in my otherwise listless state. He has been very urgent for me to travel, not merely for a change of air, but because the succession of scenes and incidents amuses without fatiguing the mind, and thus operates healthfully upon the system. I have been recovering so much of late, however, that I hope to be able to dispense with this part of his advice, and to continue at my post. I should be loth to leave it in the present critical state of the country, when insurrections are breaking out in various parts of the kingdom, and Spain is once more threatened with civil war.
My illness has prevented me from giving you a detail of the political events of the country, which have of late assumed an alarming aspect. A coalition of various factions (opposite in their views and doctrines, and no one of them of sufficient magnitude to form a majority) has united in a vehement attempt to pull down the Regent, and put an end to the exist ing government. For this purpose insurrections have been stirred up in various parts of the country, and latterly, in Barcelona, that old seat of rebellion. To-day, the Regent sallies forth from the capital, to put himself once more at the head of his troops, and endeavor to quell these insurrections. I heartily pray for his success; for, should he fail, and should he be ejected from power, a fearful state of anarchy would ensue. The very coalition now combined against him would break into warring factions, each striving for the ascendency, and we might have civil war of the worst kind.
I have just returned from attending a levee held by the Regent, at twelve o'clock, preparatory to his departure. He made a frank, manly address to the diplomatic corps, declaring his disposition to cultivate cordial relations with all countries, but particularly with those who had representatives at this Court, and who recognized the constitution of Spain, the throne of Isabella II., and his regency; his loyal devotion to the constitution and the throne, and his sole and uniform ambition to place the reins of government in the hands of the youthful Queen on the 10th of October, 1814, when she should have completed her minority, and to place under her command a peaceful, prosperous, and happy country; but he expressed, at the same time, his determination to resist every at
tempt to throw the country into a state of anarchy, and to defend the throne of Isabella and the constitution of 1837 like a good soldier.
At four o'clock a general review of the national militia takes place in the Prado, as on a former occasion, when the Regent, as before, will no doubt make them a speech, confiding the safety of the city and of the youthful Queen and her sister, to their patriotism and loyalty. At five o'clock he takes his departure. I cannot but feel that he sallies forth this time, with much more doubtful prospects than in his former expedition against Barcelona. The spirit of rebellion is more widely diffused, and is breaking forth at various points. A few days, or a ery few weeks at farthest, will decide his fate, and determine whether he is to maintain his post and keep up some form of government for the remainder of the minority of the Queen (about fifteen months and a half), or whether his power, if not himself, is to be annihilated, and everything for a time thrown into chaos.
On Sunday evening last, I attended the soirée held weekly at the Regent's. It was the only one I have been able to attend for upward of four months; but I was anxious to go to it, as it would be the last before the departure of the Regent. It was thinly attended, and I remarked a general gloom on the faces of those attached to the Regent, or whose interests were connected with his fortunes. The Regent himself did not appear, being engaged in a cabinet council. The Duchess was pale, and had a dejected air, complaining of headache. I rather fear it was heart ache, for she feels their hazardous position, and the pitfalls which surround them. She is an amiable and a lovely woman, and her dejected air rather heightened her beauty in my eyes. I had not seen her since my illness, and I had to thank her for many kind inquiries she had made after my health, sending one of the Duke's aides-de-camp for the purpose. It will be a joyful hour for her, I am convinced, when the Duke lays down his regency, and returns to the quiet and security of private life.
At the date of the following letter, Mr. Hamilton, his Secretary of Legation, was setting off on an excursion to
the Pyrenees. Brevoort had left the legation in April, to make the tour of Europe, and Ames had left in June, to return to France and embark for the United States in July. The letter gives some further insight into the critical state of Spanish affairs, the observation of which still took up much of his time and thoughts. It is addressed to Mrs. Storrow, at Paris, and bears date June 27th:
We are in the midst of plots, conspiracies, and insurrections, and know not what a day may bring forth. The Regent is on his way to one part of the kingdom which is in a state of insurrection; in the meantime, insurrections are breaking forth in other quarters. Many predict that he will never return to Madrid; but so they predicted last year, when he sallied forth to put down the insurrection at Barcelona. For my part, I never expect to see Spain enjoy tranquillity and a settled form of government during the time I may sojourn in it, and fear I may have to witness some sanguinary scenes of popular commotion. I have looked upon Espartero as the only man likely to maintain the country in a tolerable state of tranquillity during the minority of the little Queen; but I now doubt if he will be able to keep up against the combination of factions bent upon his destruction. A few days will determine his fortunes.
Ten or twelve days later he writes to the same :—
We are here in the midst of confusion and alarm. I speak of the city and the people, for, as to myself, my mind is as tranquil and almost as stagnant as a millpond. A singular kind of rebellion is going forward. Armies marching and countermarching about the country; city after city declaring itself in a state of insurrection, but as yet no fighting. An insurgent army, under General Espiroz, has been hovering about Madrid for several days; another (under General Narvaez) is marching from a
different direction to coöperate with it; and government troops, under Generals Soane and Zurbano, are pushing in from a distance, to aid in the defense of the place. In the meantime, the city is declared in a state of siege, and placed under martial law; the gates are closed and guarded, and we are thus shut up within the walls. The day before yesterday I was sitting in my room writing, when I was attracted to the window by an uncommon bustle and confusion of voices in the street. I looked out, and saw men, women, and children scampering in every direction; as far as the eye could reach there was the same hurry-scurry movement hither and thither. I summoned Lorenzo, and asked the reason. He told me there was a "revolution!" It appears the "General," or alarm, had been sounded, which is only done at moments of imminent peril, summoning every one to his post. The word was circulated that the enemy (an advanced guard of the army of General Espiroz) were at the Puerta de Hierro, or Iron Gate, which crosses the main road about half a league from the city gate. In a little while the national guards, or militia, were issuing from every side and corner, hastily equipped, and hurrying to their posts; women were gathering their children home, like hens gathering their chickens under their wings on the sight of a hawk. Before long there were eighteen thousand men under arms within the city; all the gates were strongly guarded: the main squares were full of troops, with cannon planted at the entrances of the streets opening into them. The shops were all shut up, and the streets, in general, deserted and silent, all those not on duty keeping as much as possible within doors. At night the whole city was illuminated, as is generally the case when any popular movement is apprehended, so that an enemy may not have darkness to favor his designs.
I was advised not to stir out, as one may get involved in tumults at such times. I kept at home all day, but in the evening I could not resist the desire to see something of a city in a state of siege, and under an alarm. I accordingly sallied forth in my carriage, and drove to the Prado. Instead of being crowded by the fashionable world, it was full of troops, there having been a review of the national guards. I alighted, and walked among them. They seemed all to be in high spirits. There were
but two carriages besides my own on the drive, usually so crowded. I drove from gate to gate of this end of the city, all closed and guarded. As the night advanced, I drove through most of the principal streets. The houses were illuminated from top to bottom. Few people were walking in the streets; but groups were gathered about every door. Troops were patrolling in every direction, and in the main squares, which formed military posts, both officers and men were bivouacking on the pavements. The appearance of a solitary carriage rumbling through the streets attracted universal attention, but no one offered to molest me. Madame Albuquerque's, took tea there, and returned home about eleven I drove to o'clock. I never saw Madrid under more striking and picturesque circumstances.
Yesterday was comparatively tranquil, but this morning the "General," or alarm, has been given at six o'clock. The enemy has approached a different gate of the city, and there is news that General Narvaez and his troops are at Guadalajara, a few leagues distant. The city is again under arms. I presume the shops are shut up, but I have not as yet been out of the house. The greatest evil I have as yet experienced, is the cutting off the supply of butter and cow's milk for my breakfast, both coming from the royal dairy beyond the Puerto de Hierro, or Iron Gate.
As the government has prohibited the circulation of the opposition papers by the mail, they have all ceased to publish; the government papers themselves are very scanty of intelligence, so that we are left in a state of ignorance of passing events, and are at the mercy of rumor, which fabricates all kinds of stories of plots, conspiracies to carry off the Queen, to blow up the powder magazines, etc., etc., etc.
Contradictory reports prevail also with respect to the Regent, who, by last accounts, was in La Mancha. Some say he is on his march back to Madrid, others that he is going to Cordova, others to Granada, to quell the insurrection in Andalusia. Some say his troops are in a high state of enthusiasm, others that they are deserting him. Every report has its counter report, so that one is reduced to mere conjecture.
I had looked forward to such a state of things, and I look forward to one still worse when the hostile parties come to blows. There may also