The Decadence of Spain

“In many respects the Spaniard is still living in the sixteenth century, unable to assimilate the ideas of the nineteenth, or to realize that his country is no longer the mistress of the sea and the dominating power of the land.”

When Charles V. was obliged to renounce the dream of a universal monarchy, and to abandon the Holy Roman Empire to his brother Ferdinand, he was still able to make over to his son Philip II. territories which rendered Spain the preponderating power in the civilized world. Besides his ancestral dominions in the Peninsula, to which, in 1580, he added Portugal, Philip was master of the wealthy Netherlands, of Milan and Naples, of the Mediterranean islands, and of the New World. His revenues far exceeded those of any other monarch, his armies were admitted to be the most formidable in Europe, and his command of the sea was disputed only by the Turk, whose navy he crushed at Lepanto, until the disasters of the Armada gave warning that the old methods of maritime warfare were becoming obsolete. In every way the supremacy of Spain was the dread of the nations, and its destruction was the cherished object of statesmen for a century. It was not by their efforts, however, that the result was accomplished. Olivares, it is true, was overmatched by Richelieu, but Spain had a vantage-ground enabling her to hold her own against external assault. The causes of her decadence were internal; they were numerous, but may be roughly defined as springing from pride, conservatism, and clericalism.

There is a pride which spurs nations on to great achievements, which reckons nothing done while aught remains to do, and which wisely adapts means to ends. Such was not the pride of Spain: it was proud of what it had done, and imagined that its superiority to the rest of the world left it nothing more to do; it could learn nothing and forget nothing; it had varied the centuries of the Reconquest with endless civil broils, while it left the arts of peace to subject Moors and Jews, until honest labor was regarded with disdain, and trade and commerce were treated in a barbarous fashion that choked all the springs of national prosperity. Derived from this blind and impenetrable pride was the spirit of conservatism which rejected all innovation in a world of incessant change, a world which had been sent by the Reformation spinning on a new track, a world in which modern industrialism was rapidly superseding the obsolescent militarism of Spain. The phrase current throughout Europe in the last century was not without foundation, that Africa began at the Pyrenees. Last, but by no means least, was the clericalism which developed in Spain the ferocious spirit of intolerance; which in 1492 drove out the unhappy Jews, and in 1610 the Moriscos, thus striking at the root of the commercial prosperity and industry of the land; and which surrendered the nation to the Inquisition, paralyzing all intellectual movement, crippling trade, and keeping the people so completely in leading-strings that the three generations since the Napoleonic upheaval have not sufficed for their training in the arts of self-government.

Yet the Spaniard has qualities which, if not thus counterbalanced, ought to have assured him a maintenance of the commanding position which he held in the sixteenth century. His intellect is strong and quick, his imagination is vivid, and, before the censorship of the Inquisition had curbed its expression, his literature was the most promising in Europe. When fully aroused his perseverance is indefatigable. His courage is undoubted, — not a merely evanescent valor, flaming up on occasion at the promise of success, but a persistent, obstinate, dogged quality, to be dreaded as much in defeat as in victory, and sustained by the pride of race which leads him to think all other races his inferiors. The unyielding steadfastness of the Spanish tercios on the disastrous field of Rocroy was paralleled in the defense of Saragossa. The exploits of the Conquistadores in the New World display a tenacity of daring amid unknown dangers which has rarely been equaled, and perhaps never surpassed. The practical efficiency of this determined valor is heightened, moreover, by a remarkable callous indifference as to the means to be employed in accomplishing a given purpose. Spanish legislation is full of the sternest laws, enacted in utter disregard of their contingent and ulterior consequences provided the immediate object in view can be effected. Alva's reign of blood in the Netherlands is typical of this fierce and cold-blooded determination to achieve a result at whatever cost of life and suffering, and the reconcentrado policy of Weyler is only a modern exhibition of this inherited characteristic.

Effective as this disregard of consequences may often have proved, it was one of the elements which contributed to the decadence of Spain; for when directed, as it often was, without foresight or judgment, it wrought havoc with interests of greater moment than those it served. The expulsions of the Jews and of the Moriscos are conspicuous instances of this, and, in a minor degree, the industries and commerce of the nation were perpetually wrecked by regulations, absurdly exaggerated, to serve some purpose that chanced at the moment to be uppermost in the minds of the rulers. When, to remedy the scarcity of the precious metals, repeated edicts, from 1623 to 1642, prohibited all manufactures of gold and silver, even to embroideries and gilding or plating, a flourishing branch of trade was destroyed for a time; and another was prostrated in 1683, when, to procure copper for the debased coinage of the mints, all of that metal in the hands of coppersmiths was practically sequestrated, and they were forbidden even to repair old utensils. Internal industry and external commerce were thus at the mercy of an infinity of fluctuating regulations which embarrassed transactions, and deprived manufacturers and merchants of all sense of security and all ability to forecast the future. During the period when the commerce of the world was developing into vast proportions, that commerce, with its resultant wealth and the power of offense and defense derived from wealth, fell into the hands of Spain's especial enemies, England and Holland. The Spaniard, who despised industry and commerce, thrust from him the inheritance of Venice and Florence, which the discovery of the New World and the Cape route to India had offered to him: and while his rivals waxed mightily, he grew poorer and poorer, in spite of the wealth of the Indies poured into his lap.

Labor, in fact, to Spanish pride, was the badge of inferiority, to be escaped in every possible way. It is the general complaint of the publicists of the seventeenth century that every one sought to gain a livelihood in the public service or in the Church, and no one to earn it by honest work. The immense number of useless consumers thus supported was constantly alleged as one of the leading causes of the general poverty, from which the most crushing and injudicious taxation could raise only insufficient revenues. Public offices were multiplied recklessly, and the steady increase in the ranks of the clergy, regular and secular, was a constant subject of remonstrance. In 1626, Navarrete tells us that there were thirty-two universities and more than four thousand grammar schools crowded with sons of artisans and peasants striving to fit themselves for public office or holy orders; most of them failed in this through inaptitude, and drifted into the swarms of tramps and beggars who were a standing curse to the community, while the fields lay untilled for lack of labor, and the industrial arts were slowly perishing, so that Spain was forced to import the finished products which she could so easily have made for herself. This national aversion to labor, moreover, manifested itself in an indolence which, except in Catalonia, rendered the pretense of working almost illusory. Dormer tells us of his compatriots that they did not work as in other lands; a few hours a day, and this intermittently, were expected to provide for them as much as the incessant activity of the foreigner. To these drawbacks on productive industry is to be added the multitude of feast-days, which Navarrete estimates at about one third of the working-days, rising to one half at the critical season of the harvests, — feast-days which, according to Archbishop Carranza, were spent in a debauchery rendering them especially welcome to the devil. Under such conditions it was impossible for Spain to withstand the competition of the foreigner. How rapidly its industry declined is shown by the fact that in 1644 the shipments by the fleet to the West Indies from four cities of Castile—Toledo, Segovia, Ampudia, and Pastrana—amounted to $3,864,750, while in 1684 the total value of all Spanish goods carried by the fleet was only $800,000. It is true that in 1691 Carlos II. proposed legislation to check the overgrown numbers of the clergy and the immoderate absorption of lands by the Church, but his feeble projects were abandoned.

Thus the nation possessed little recuperative power to make good the perpetual losses of its almost continuous foreign wars. Already, in the apogee of its greatness under Charles V., symptoms of exhaustion were not lacking. His election to the empire, in 1520, was an unmitigated misfortune for Spain. Involved thenceforth in the entanglements of his continental policy, the land was drained of its blood and treasure for quarrels in which it had no concern, and of which it bore the brunt without sharing the advantages. So heavy was the load of indebtedness incurred that, on his accession, Philip II. seriously counseled with his ministers as to the advisability of repudiation. Under the latter monarch downward progress was accelerated. Imagining himself to be specially called of Heaven to uphold the threatened Catholic faith, he regarded no sacrifices as too great when heresy was to be repressed. For this he provoked the Low Countries to revolt, leading to a war of forty years, with uncounted expenditure of men and money. For this he incurred the crowning disaster of the Armada, and for this he stimulated and supported the wars of the League in France. Despite the unrivaled resources of the monarchy his finances were reduced to hopeless confusion; he was a constant borrower on usurious terms, and already in 1565 the Venetian envoy reported his annual interest payments at 5,050,000 ducats, which at eight per cent represented an indebtedness of 63,000,000 ducats, — a sum, at that period, almost incredible. When the reins slipped from his grasp, in 1598, his successor was the feeble and bigoted Philip III., and the seventeenth century witnessed the fortunes of Spain in the hands of a succession of court favorites, — Lerma, Olivares, Haro, Nithard, Oropesa, and their tribe, — mostly worthless and grossly incompetent. Financial distress grew more and more acute, aggravated by senseless tampering with the currency, which drove to other lands the precious metals of the New World, until the whole active circulation of the country consisted of a token copper coinage, the value of which the government endeavored to regulate by a succession of edicts of the most contradictory character, producing inextricable perplexity and uncertainty, fatally crippling what productive industry had survived the temper of the people and the wisdom of legislation.

Clericalism contributed its full share to this downward progress. The intensity of the Spanish character, which can do nothing by halves, lent an enormous power for evil to the exaggerated religious ardor of the people. In the earlier Middle Ages no other European nation had been so tolerant as Spain in its dealings with the Jew and the infidel, but, under the careful stimulation of the Church, this tolerant spirit had passed away with the fourteenth century, and in its place there had gradually arisen a fierce and implacable hatred of all faiths outside of Catholicism. This fanaticism gave to the priesthood preponderating power, which it utilized for its own behoof, in disregard of the public welfare, and all doubtful questions were apt to be decided in favor of the faith. The royal confessor was ex officio a member of the Council of State, and under a weak monarch his influence was almost unbounded. Fray Gaspar de Toledo, the confessor of Philip III., boasted that when he ordered his royal penitent to do or to leave undone anything, under penalty of mortal sin, he was obeyed; and the fate of a kingdom thus virtually subjected to the caprices of a narrow-minded friar can readily be divined. The royal confessorship was freguently a steppingstone to the supreme office of inquisitor-general, which controlled the conscience of the nation; and as under such a régime the delimitation between spiritual and temporal affairs was most uncertain, the wrangling between the religious and secular departments of the state was incesssnt, to the serious detriment of united and sagacious action. When, in the minority of Carlos II., the regent mother, Maria Anna of Austria, made her German Jesuit confessor Nithard inquisitor-general, it required a popular uprising to get rid of him and relegate him to Rome, for he was speedily becoming the real ruler of Spain.

This unreasoning religious ardor culminated in the Inquisition, established for the purpose of securing the supreme good of unblemished purity and uniformity of belief. Nothing was allowed to stand in the way of this, and no sacrifice was deemed too great for its accomplishment. All officials, from the king downward, were sworn to its support, and the sinister influence which it exercised was proportioned to the enormous power which it wielded. The tragic spectacles of the autos-de-fé were abhorrent, but they were of little more importance than the closely related bull-fights in determining the fate of the nation, save in so far as they stimulated the ruthless characteristics of the people. The real significance of the Inquisition lay in the isolation to which it condemned the land, and its benumbing influence on the intellectual development of the people. It created a fresh source of pride, which led the Spaniard to plume himself on the unsullied purity of his faith, and to despise all other nations as given over, more or less, to the errors of heresy. It obstructed his commercial relations by imposing absurd and costly regulations at the ports to prevent the slightest chance of the introduction of heretical opinions.

It organized a strict censorship to guard against the intrusion of foreign ideas or the evolution of innovations at home. It paralyzed the national intelligence, and resolutely undertook to keep the national mind in the grooves of the sixteenth century. While the rest of the civilized world was bounding forward in a career of progress, while science and the useful arts were daily adding to the conquests of man over the forces of nature, and rival nations were growing in wealth and power, the Inquisition condemned Spain to stagnation; invention and discovery were unknown at home, and their admission from abroad was regarded with jealousy. Recuperative power was thus wholly lacking to offset the destructive effects of misgovernment, the national conservatism was intensified, and a habit of mind was engendered which has kept Spain to this day a virtual survival of the Renaissance.

All these causes of retrogression were rendered more effective by the autocratic absolutism of the form of government, which deprived the people of all initiative, and subjected everything to the will of the monarch. The old Castilian liberties were lost in the uprising of the Comunidades in 1520, and those of Valencia about the same time in the kindred tumults of the Germania, while those which survived in Aragon and Catalonia were swept away in 1707, when the War of Succession gave Philip V. the excuse for treating them as conquered provinces. Nowhere in Europe, west of Russia, had the maxim of the imperial jurisprudence, "Quod placuit principi legis habet vigorem," more absolute sway. The legislative and executive functions were combined in the sovereign; there were no national political life, no training in citizenship, no forces to counterbalance the follies or prejudices of the king and his favorites. Under a series of exceptionally able rulers, this form of government might have maintained Spanish prosperity and power, while repressing enlightenment, but it was the peculiar curse of Spain that the last three Hapsburg princes, whose reigns filled the whole of the sixteenth century, were weak, and their choice of favorites, ghostly and secular, was unwise. Especially the latest one, Carlos II., brought Spain to the nadir of decadence. At his death, in 1700, the Spanish population is estimated to have shrunk within a century from ten to five millions. The prolonged War of Succession which followed partook so much of the nature of civil strife as to be peculiarly exhausting to the scanty resources left by the misgovernment of the preceding two centuries, but with the accession of the Bourbons there was a promise of improvement. Philip V. was weak, but he was not as bigoted and obscurantist as his predecessors, and his sons, Ferdinand VI. and Carlos III., were men of more liberal ideals. Especially was Carlos an enlightened monarch, who curbed to some extent the Inquisition, relaxed somewhat the rigid censorship of the press, and earnestly strove to promote the industrial development of his kingdom. Under his rule prosperity began to revive, and there seemed a prospect that Spain might assert her place among progressive nations.

The outbreak of the French Revolution, however, was the death-blow of liberalism. Dynastic considerations outweighed all others, and the rulers of Spain were especially sensitive to the dangers apprehended from the introduction of theories as to the rights of man and universal equality. Carlos III. had died in 1788, and his son, Carlos IV., was weak, bigoted, reactionary, and wholly under the imfluence of his favorite, Godoy, the so-called Prince of Peace. His son and successor, Ferdinand VII., was trained in the same school. After the Napoleonic invasion and the Peninsular War, his restoration, in 1814, was the signal for the sternest repressive and reactionary measures; the monarch claimed absolute power, the Constitution of 1812 was set aside, censorship was revived in the most despotic fashion, the Inquisition was reestablished, and nothing was left undone to bring back the conditions of the sixteenth century. These conditions were upset by the revolution of 1820, but restored by the intervention of the Holy Alliance in 1823, when the Duc d'Angouleme, at the head of a French army, executed the mandate of the Congress of Verona. The history of Spain since then, with its succession of civil wars, revolutions, and experiments in government, holds out little promise of settled and orderly progress. The national characteristic of indomitable pride which disdains to learn from the experience of other nations, the tendency to resort to violent and exaggerated methods, the dense political ignorance of the masses, so sedulously deprived through long generations of all means of political enlightenment and all training in political action, combine to render the nation incapable of conducting wisely the liberal institutions which are foreign importations, and not the outgrowth of native aspirations and experience. In many respects the Spaniard is still living in the sixteenth century, unable to assimilate the ideas of the nineteenth, or to realize that his country is no longer the mistress of the sea and the dominating power of the land.

There is still another cause which has contributed largely to Spanish decadence. All governments are more or less corrupt, — absolute honesty would appear to be impossible in the conduct of public affairs, — but the corruption and venality of Spanish administration have been peculiarly all-pervading and continuous. From the time of the youthful Charles V. and his worthless horde of Flemish favorites, this has been a corroding cancer, sapping the vitality of Spanish resources. It was in vain that the most onerous and disabling imposts were laid on wealth and industry; the results were always insufficient, and the national finances were always in disorder, crippling all efforts at aggression or defense. Already in 1551 the cortes of Castile gave a deplorable account of the corruption in every branch of official life, the destruction of industry, and the misery of the people under their crushing burdens. In 1656, when Philip IV., under a complication of misfortunes, was struggling to avert bankruptcy, Cardinal Moscoso, the Archbishop of Toledo, bluntly told him that not more than ten per cent of the revenues collected reached the royal treasury. While income was thus fatally diminished, expenditure was similarly augmented through collusion, fraud, and bribery. It raises a curious psychological question, how pride and punctilious sensitiveness as to honor can coexist with eager rapacity for iniquitous gains, how undoubted patriotism can accommodate itself to a system which deprives the fatherland of the resources necessary to its existence; but human nature is often only consistent in inconsistency. To what extent this prevails at the present day must of course be only a matter of conjecture, but recent events would seem to indicate that supplies and munitions paid for are not on hand when urgently needed, and that troops in the field bear but a slender proportion to those on the payroll. When, the other day, Don Carlos alluded to "generously voted millions diverted from the fulfillment of their patriotic purpose to the pockets of fraudulent contractors and dishonest state employees, and disorder, peculation, and mendacity in every department of the public service," he merely described conditions which in Spain have been chronic for centuries.

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If the above is a truthful outline of the causes of Spanish decadence, it can arouse no wonder that Spanish colonial policy has been a failure. All the defects of character and administration which produced such disastrous results at home had naturally fuller scope for development in the colonies. The discoveries of Columbus did not open up a new continent to be settled by industrious immigrants coming to found states and develop their resources in peaceful industry. The marvelous exploits of the Conquistadores were performed in the craziest thirst for gold, and those who succeeded them came in the hope of speedy enrichment and return, to accomplish which they exploited to the utmost the unhappy natives, and when these were no longer available replaced them with African slaves. The mother country similarly looked upon her new possessions simply as a source of revenue, to be drained to the utmost, either for herself or for the benefit of those whom she sent out to govern them. Colonists who finally settled and cast their lot in the New World were consequently exposed to every limitation and discrimination that perverse ingenuity could suggest, and were sacrificed to the advantage, real or imaginary, of Spain. The short-sighted financial and commercial policy at home would in itself have sufficed to condemn the colonies to stagnation and misery, but in addition they were subjected to special restrictions and burdens. It was not until 1788 that trade with them was permitted through any port but Cadiz, whose merchants made use of their monopoly to exact a profit of from one hundred to two hundred per cent. Export and import duties were multiplied, till the producer was deprived of all incentive to exertion, and the populations were taxed to their utmost capacity, the taxes being exacted with merciless severity.

As if this were not enough, the all-pervading influence of clericalism rendered good government well-nigh impossible. Under its influence the colonial organizations consisted of sundry independent jurisdictions, incompatible with the preservation of order in any community, and especially unfitted for the administration of a colony, separated by a thousand leagues from the supreme authority which alone could compose their differences. There was the royal representative, the viceroy or governor, responsible for the defense of the province and the maintenance of order. There was the church establishment with its bishop or archbishop, in no way subordinate to the civil power. There were the various regular orders, — Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians, Jesuits, etc., — bitterly jealous of one another and prompt to quarrel, exempt from episcopal jurisdiction, and subject only to their respective superiors or to the Pope, except when suspicion of heresy might render individual members answerable to the Inquisition. Finally, there was the Inquisition itself, which owned obedience only to the Supreme Council of the Holy Office in Madrid, and held itself superior to all other jurisdictions; for under its delegated papal power it could at will paralyze the authority of any one, from the highest to the lowest, by its excommunication, while no priest or prelate could excommunicate its ministers. It was impossible that so irrational a scheme of social order should work smoothly. Causes of dissension, trivial or serious, between these rival and jealous jurisdictions were rarely lacking, and the internal history of the colonies consists in great part of their quarrels, which disturbed the peace of the communities and hindered prosperity and growth.

In The Atlantic Monthly for August, 1891, I described at some length a complicated quarrel between the Franciscans and the Bishop of Cartagena de las Indias, in which both the Inquisition and the royal governor intervened, keeping the community in an uproar from 1683 to 1688. This was followed, in 1693, by an outbreak between the governor, Ceballos, and the Inquisition. In the public meat-market a butcher refused to give precedence to a negro slave of the inquisitor, who thereupon had the indiscreet butcher arrested and confined in chains in the carceles secretas of the Inquisition. This in itself was a most serious punishment, for such imprisonment left an ineffaceable stigma on the sufferer and on his descendants for two generations. The governor pleaded in vain with the inquisitor, and then endeavored secretly to obtain testimony to send to Madrid, but without success, for no one dared to give evidence. The fact of his attempt leaked out, however, and the secretary of the Inquisition led a mob to the palace, and forced the governor, under threat of excommunication, to sign a declaration that he abandoned the case to the Inquisition, that all reference to it should be expunged from the records of the municipality and all papers relating to it should be delivered to the inquisitor. He submitted, and his only recourse was to write a piteous letter to the Council of the Indies. Such appeal to the home authorities was of uncertain outcome, for the inquisitors were by no means ready to submit to an adverse decision. In a complicated quarrel between the cruzada, the episcopal court, the Inquisition, and the viceroy of Peru, in 1729, the inquisitors of Lima formally and repeatedly refused obedience to a royal order sent through the viceroy, alleging that they were subject only to the Supreme Council of the Holy Office. In 1751 they took the same ground in a case in which the king decided against them, and they held out until 1760, when a more peremptory command was received, accompanied by a dispatch from the council which they could not disregard.

Thus, to a greater or less degree, all Spanish colonies were fields in which clericalism rioted at will. Paraguay, where the Jesuits succeeded in building up an independent theocracy, offers the most perfect illustration of the result, and a somewhat less conspicuous instance is found in the Philippines. There the missions of the Augustinian Recollects acquired such power that the annals of that colony seem rather to be the records of the Augustinian province of San Nicolás than those of a royal dependency. This Augustinian supremacy was unsuccessfully disputed by the Dominicans, in the early years of the eighteenth century, but the Jesuits proved to be more dangerous rivals, who did not scruple, in 1736, to induce their native subjects to make war on those of the Augustinians. The banishment in 1767 of the Society of Jesus from the Spanish dominions left the field to the Augustinians, who have since held it, apparently without making effort to secure the good will of their flocks. They had their own internal troubles, however, for in 1712 the hostility between the Aragonese and Castilians led to a schism which had to be referred to Spain for settlement, when the Castilians, who were the losing party, refused to submit until the acting governor, Torralba, employed the persuasive influence of artillery. The character of their relations with the secular authority can be estimated from an occurrence in 1643, when the governor, Sebastian Hurtado de Corcuera, in preparing to resist an expected attack by the Dutch, undertook to fortify Manila. An Augustinian convent and church occupied a site required for a demilune. Corcuera offered the friars another church and 4000 pesos; but they refused to move, and obstinately remained in the convent until the progress of the works rendered it uninhabitable, when it was torn down and the materials were used in the lines. They raised a great clamor, which probably was the cause of the removal of Corcuera in 1644, when they prosecuted their grievance in court, and obtained a decree reinstating them and casting him in damages to the amount of 25,000 pesos. They tore down the fortifications, rebuilt the church, and threw Corcuera into prison, where he languished under cruel treatment for five years. He had been an excellent administrator, and on his liberation Philip IV. appointed him governor of the Canaries.

In such a community the position of governor had few attractions for an honest man. In 1719, a new one, Bustamente Bustillo, found on his arrival that all the royal officials had been busily embezzling and pilfering, leaving the treasury nearly empty. After ascertaining the facts he set to work energetically to recover the funds and to punish the guilty, who thereupon, as seems to have been customary in such cases, sought asylum in the churches. One of them had carried with him certain official records necessary for the verification of the accounts, and these Bustillo requested the archbishop to make him surrender. The archbishop replied with a learned argument, drawn up for him by a Jesuit, proving that the governor's request was illegal. Bustillo lost his temper at this, and arrested the archbishop, who forthwith cast an interdict over the city. Then the monks and friars turned out in organized bands, marching through the streets with crucifixes, and shouting, "Viva la fé! Viva la Iglesia!" They speedily collected a mob which they led to the palace; the doors were broken in, the governor and his son murdered, and when the archbishop was released he assumed the governorship, under the advice of an assembly consisting exclusively of ecclesiastical dignitaries.

In these perpetually recurring troubles between the secular and the clerical authorities the Inquisition was not behindhand, although there was no organized tribunal in Manila. The Philippines were an appendage to the viceroyalty of New Spain or Mexico, and the Holy Office of Mexico merely delegated a commissioner at Manila to execute its orders and make reports to it. Subordinate as was this position, those who held it deemed themselves superior to the royal authorities. About 1650 the padre commissioner received an order to arrest and send to Acapulco a person who was governor of one of the islands and commandant of a fortified town. The commissioner was also an officer of the government, and knew the risk he ran of offending the governor of the colony in not advising him of what was impending; but the obligation of secrecy in inquisitorial matters was superior to all other considerations. He quietly summoned his alcaide mayor and a sufficient number of familiars, sailed for the island, surprised the governor in his bed, carried him off, and imprisoned him in a convent until there should be an opportunity of shipping him to Mexico. The governor of the colony was Don Diego Faxardo, a violent and irascible soldier, whose term of service was a perpetual embroilment with the unruly jurisdictions under his charge, and who knew the danger of leaving a fortified post without a commander when there was almost constant war, either with the Dutch or with the natives. A rude explosion of wrath was to be expected at this contemptuous disregard of the respect due to his office and of the safety of the land, yet Don Diego so thoroughly recognized the supremacy of the Inquisition that when apprised of the affair he only chided the padre gently for not having given him a chance of winning the graces and indulgences promised for so pious a work, seeing that he would have regarded as the utmost good fortune the opportunity of serving as an alguazil in making the arrest.

Twenty years later, the Augustinian Fray Joseph de Paternina Samaniego, then commissioner of the Inquisition, was even bolder. He was ordered from Mexico to take secret testimony against the governor of the colony, Don Diego de Salcedo, and forward it to Mexico for examination by the tribunal there. This was all that a commissioner was empowered to do, and he was especially instructed to go no further; but the Augustinians had had quarrels with the governor, and the whole affair was probably a plot for his removal. Fray Paternina therefore proceeded to act on the testimony, although the judge, Don Francisco de Montemayor, warned him of his lack of authority, and that such a personage as the governor could not be arrested without a special cédula from the king, passed upon by the Council of the Inquisition. He drew up a warrant of arrest, went at midnight to the palace with some friars and familiars, seized Salcedo in his bed, handcuffed him, and carried him off to the Augustinian convent, where the bells were rung in honor of the event. He then gave notice to the royal court that the governorship was vacant, and might be filled, which was done by the appointment of his ally, Don Juan Manuel de la Peña. He further issued an edict forbidding any one, under pain of excommunication, to speak about the arrest or about his other proceedings; and to inspire fear he brought charges against various persons, under pretext that they were inimical to the Holy Office. Salcedo's property was sequestrated, to the profit of those concerned in the affair, and he was shipped by the first vessel to Acapulco, but he died on the voyage. When the news of this outrage reached Madrid by way of Flanders, the Council of the Indies complained bitterly, and asked that steps be taken to prevent a repetition of acts so dangerous to the safety of the colonies. The Council of the Inquisition calmly replied that no new instructions were needed, for there were ample provisions for filling a sudden vacancy; as for Fray Paternina, if he had gone too far he would be duly corrected. The Council of the Indies insisted, and was supported by the queen regent. Meanwhile, the Council of the Inquisition had examined the testimony taken agninst Salcedo, pronounced it frivolous, declared his arrest void, and ordered his property to be restored to his heirs, while Fray Paternina was to be sent to Spain for trial. On the journey he died at Acapulco, and the matter was dropped.

Successful colonization under such a system was a manifest impossibility, and it is no wonder that the Spanish dependencies languished, in spite of their infinite potentialities of wealth and prosperity. The narrow and selfish policy of the mother country deprived the colonists of all incentives to exertion; the officials sent from Spain enriched themselves, the tax-gatherers seized all superfluous earnings; there were no accumulation of capital and no advancement. In 1736, the viceroy of the vast kingdom of Peru, Don José Armendaris, Marquis of Castel-Fuerte, in the report which, according to custom, he drew up for the instruction of his successor, described the condition of the colony as deplorable. The Spanish population was mostly concentrated in Lima; the nobles and the wealthy oppressed the poor; the corregidores and priests oppressed the Indians; the priests paid little attention to their religious duties, for they were not compelled to residence by their bishops, and were abandoned to sloth and licentiousness; the judges were venal; and the population was diminishing. The religious orders, he said, ought to be checked, and not encouraged, for in Lima there were thirty-four convents, each of them, on an average, equal to four in Spain, which was the most ecclesiastical of all lands. This monastic hypertrophy he attributed to the fact that the men had no other career open to them, and the women consequently could not find husbands. This gloomy utterance was reechoed, twenty years later, by a subsequent viceroy, Don José Antonio Manto de Velasco.

Still more desponding is a report made in 1772 by Francisco Antonio Moreno y Escandon as to the condition of the "New Kingdom of Granada," embracing the northern coast from Panama to Venezuela, a region abounding in natural wealth. The local officials everywhere, he says, were indifferent and careless as to their duty; the people were steeped in poverty; trade was almost extinct; capital was lacking, and there were no opportunities for its investment; the only source of support was the cultivation of small patches of ground. Every one sought to subsist on the government by procuring some little office. The mining of the precious metals was the sole source of trade, of procuring necessities from abroad, and of meeting the expenses of the government; but although the mines were as rich as ever, their product had greatly decreased. Commerce with Spain employed only one or two ships, with registered cargoes, a year from Cadiz to Cartagena, whence the goods were distributed through the interior, but so burdened with duties and expenses that no profit could be made on them. If freedom of export could be had for the rich productions of the country, — cocoa, tobacco, precious woods, etc., — the colony would flourish; but there were no manufactures, and no money could be kept in the land. The missions had made no progress for a hundred years in christianizing the Indians, for the missionaries undertook the duty only for the purpose of securing a life of ease and sloth.

Such was the result of three hundred years of colonization under Spanish methods; and we can scarce wonder that, after such a training, the nations which emancipated themselves have found self-government so difficult. Under the warning given by their loss, some improvement has been made in the insular possessions which were unable to throw off the yoke, but not enough to prevent chronic disaffection and constantly recurring efforts at revolt. Spain has made of her colonies the buried talent, and the fulfillment of the parable must come to pass.