Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/583

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562
[HISTORY
SPAIN


and the religious foundations in every possible way. Her purse was always open to assist convents, monasteries, and religious works and societies of all kinds, as long as they were under the management of the Church. She became regent when Spain had felt the consequences of the expulsion of the Jesuits and other religious orders from France after the famous Jules Ferry laws, which aimed at placing these orders more under state control, to which they declined to submit. They selected Spain as an excellent field of enterprise; and it must be said that all the governments of the regency showed so much indulg- ence towards the Catholic revival thus started, that in less than a decade the kingdom .was studded with more convents, monas- teries, Jesuit colleges, Catholic schools, and foundations than had existed in the palmy days of the houses of Austria and Bourbon in the 17th and 18th centuries. A wave of Clericalism and ultra-Catholic influences swept over the land, affecting the middle classes, the universities and learned societies, and making itself very perceptible also among the governing classes and both dynastic parties, Liberals and Conservatives.

Next in importance to papal protection was the favour- able attitude of all the European governments towards the Europe queen-regent and, later, towards her son. The and the court and government of Germany vied with the Regency. Austrian and Italian royal families and govern- ments in showing sympathy to the widow of Alphonso XII. Republican France and the tsar made as cordial demon- strations as Queen Victoria and her government, and Switzerland, Belgium, Holland and others followed . suit. The Spanish foreign office received every assurance that friendly governments would watch the Carlists and Republicans, to pre- vent them from using their territories as a basis for conspiracies against the peace of Spain. The statesmen of both dynastic parties, from the beginning of the regency, agreed to observe strict neutrality in European affairs, in order to avoid complica- tions fraught with evil consequences for the monarchy and the dynasty in the unsettled state of the country. This neutrality was maintained until the close of the 19th century.

Sagasta conducted the first general election in 1886 much after the usual precedents. The Long Parliament of the regency was composed of considerable Liberal majorities Sagasta. m D °th houses, though Sagasta had allowed a larger share than Canovas was wont to do to the minorities, so much so that on the opposition benches the Republicans of various shades were represented by their most eminent leaders, the Carlists had a respectable group, and the Conservatives a strong muster, flanked by a group of dis- sentients. The first Cortes of the regency in five sessions did really good and substantial work. A civil code was carefully drawn up by Senor Alonzo Martinez, in order to consolidate the very heterogeneous ancient legislation of the monarchy and the local laws of many provinces, especially Catalonia; Aragon, Valencia, Navarre, and the Basque territory. Trial by jury was re-established for most crimes and offences. The laws regulating the rights of association and public meeting, the liberty of the press, and other rights of the subject were reformed on liberal and more tolerant lines. Finance and trade received attention. Some commercial treaties and agreements were made, including one with Great Britain, which proved highly beneficial to home trade, and the tariff was altered, in spite of much resistance on the part of the Protectionists. In his progressive policy Sagasta was actively and usefully supported by the chief of the moderate Republicans, Emilio Castelar, who recommended his partisans to vote with the Liberal party, because he confessed that bitter experience had taught him that liberties and rights were better attained and made stable by pacific evolution than by revolution. He laid most stress upon this axiom when, in September 1886, Ruiz Zorilja suddenly sprang upon Sagasta a military and revolutionary movement in the streets and barracks of Madrid. The military authorities acted with promptitude, the rebels being pursued, dispersed and arrested. General Marina and several other officers were condemned to death by court martial, but Queen Christina


commuted the sentence into penal servitude, and the ministers of war and marine retired from the cabinet in consequence. Very shortly afterwards, another war minister, General Castillo, attempted to strike at the root of military insubordination, and simultaneously in every garrison of the kingdom the senior sergeants, more than 1000 in all, were given their discharge and ordered to start for their homes on the spot. The lesson produced a good result, as no trace of revolutionary work revealed itself among the non-commissioned officers after 1886, As time wore on, Sagasta found it difficult to maintain discipline in the ranks of the Liberal party. He was obliged to reconstruct the cabinet several times in order to get rid of troublesome colleagues like General Cassola, who wanted to make himself a sort of military dictator, and Camacho, whose financial reforms and taxation schemes made him unpopular He had more often to reorganize the government in order to find seats in the cabinet for ambitious and impatient . worthies of the Liberal party— not always with success, as Senor Martos, president of the Congress, and the Democrats almost brought about a political crisis in 1889. Sagasta cleverly affected to resign and stand aside, so that Senor Alonzo Martinez might vainly attempt to form an intermediary cabinet. Canovas, who was consulted by the queen when Alonzo Martinez failed, faithfully carried out the pact, of El Pardo and advised Her Majesty to send for Sagasta again, as he alone could carry out what remained to be dome of the Liberal programme. Sagasta reconstructed his ministry for the last time, and announced his intention to make the re-establishment of universal suffrage the crowning act of the Liberal policy, knowing very well that he would thus rally round him all the Liberals, Democrats and Republicans in the last session of the Long Parliament. The Suffrage Bill was carried through the Senate and Congress in the spring of 1890 after protracted debates, in which the Conservatives and many military politicians who had previously been regarded as the allies of Sagasta did their best to obstruct the measure. Marshals Campos, Jovellar and Novaliches, and Generals Pavia, Primo de Rivera, Daban and others, were'angry with Sagasta and the Liberals not only because they deemed their policy too demo- cratic, but because they ventured to curb the insubordinate attitude of general officers, who shielded themselves behind the immunities of their senatorial position to write insolent letters to the war minister on purely professional questions. Spanish generals of pronunciamiento fame thought it perfectly logical and natural that sergeants and subalterns should be shot or sent to penal servitude for acts of indiscipline, but if an in- subordinate general was sent to a fortress under arrest for two months they publicly demonstrated their sympathy with the offender, made angry speeches against their hierarchical chief, the war minister, in the Senate, and dared to call upon the queen-regent to make representations, which unfortunately were listened to, according to the worst precedents of the Spanish monarchy. The increasing violence of the Conservative press and opposition, the divisions developing in the ranks of liberalism, and the restlessness of the agricultural protectionists led by Senor Gamazo, did not weigh so much in the balance at court against Sagasta as the aggressive attitude of the military politicians. Sagasta held on as long as was necessary to secure the promulgation of the universal suffrage law, but he noticed that the queen-regent, when he waited upon her for the despatch of public business, showed almost daily more impatience for a change of policy, until at last, in July 1890, she peremptorily told him that she considered the time had come for calling the Conservatives and their military patrons to her councils. Sagasta loyally furnished the queen with a constitutional pretext for carrying out her desire, and tendered the resignation of the whole cabinet, so that Her Majesty might consult, as usual, the party leaders and generals on the grave question of the expediency of entrusting to new ministers or to the Liberals the mission of testing the new electoral system. Queen Christina on this occasion acted exactly as she henceforth did in all ministerial crises. She slowly consulted the magnates of all parties with apparent impartiality, and finally adopted the course