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LORD MAHON’S WAR OF THE SUCCESSION.*
[EDINBURGH REVIEW, 1833.)
The days when Miscellanies in Prose and Lord Mahon is also a little too fond of utter. Verse, by a Person of Honour, and Romances ing moral reflections, in a style too sententious of M. Scuderi, done into English by a Person and oracular. We will give one instance: of Quality, were attractive to readers and pro- “Strange as it seems, experience shows that fitable to booksellers, have long gone by. The we usually feel far more animosity against literary privileges once enjoyed by lords are those whom we have injured, than against as obsolete as their right to kill the king's deer those who injure us: and this remark holds on their way to Parliament, or as their old re- good with every degree of intellect, with every medy of scandalum magnatum. Yet we must class of fortune, with a prince or a peasant, acknowledge that, though our political opi- a stripling or an elder, a hero or a prince.' nions are by no means aristocratical, we This remark might have seemed strange at always feel kindly disposed towards noble the court of Nimrod or Chedorlaomer; but it authors. Industry and a taste for intellectual has now been for many generations consider. pleasures are peculiarly respectable in those ed as a truism rather than a paradox. Every who can afford to be idle, and who have every man has written on the thesis “ Odisse quem temptation to be dissipated. It is impossible læseris.” Scarcely any lines in English poetry not to wish success to a man who, finding are better known than that vigorous couplet: himself placed, without any exertion or any “Forgiveness to the injured does belong; merit on his part, above the mass of society, But they ne'er pardon who have done the wrong." voluntarily descends from his eminence in
The historians and philosophers have quite search of distinctions which he may justly done with this maxim, and have abandoned it, call his own.
like other maxims which have lost their gloss, This is, we think, the second appearance of to bad novelists, by whom it will very soon be Lord Mahon in the character of an author.
worn to rags. His first book was creditable to him, but was
It is no more than justice to say, that the in every respect inferior to the work which faults of Lord Mahon's book are precisely now lies before us. He has undoubtedly some those faults which time seldom fails to cure; of the most valuable qualities of an historian
and that the book, in spite of its faults, is a great diligence in examining authorities, great valuable addition to our historical literature. judgment in weighing testimony, and great Whoever wishes to be well acquainted with impartiality in estimating characters. We the morbid anatomy of governments, whoever are not aware that he has in any instance wishes to know how great states may be made forgotten the duties belonging to his literary feeble and wretched, should study the history functions in the feelings of a kinsman. He of Spain. The empire of Philip the Second does no more than justice to his ancestor
was undoubtedly one of the most powerful and Stanhope: he does full justice to Stanhope's splendid that ever existed in the world. In enemies and rivals. lis na
ative is very Europe he ruled Spain, Portugal, the Netherperspicuous, and is also entitled to the praise, lands on both sides of the Rhine, Franche seldom, we grieve to say, deserved by modern Comté, Roussillon, the Milanese, and the Two writers, of being very concise. It must be Sicilies. Tuscany, Parma, and the other small admitted, however, that, with many of the best states of Italy were as completely dependent qualities of a literary veteran, he has some of on him as the Nizam and the Rajah of Berar the faults of a literary novice. He has no
now are on the East India Company. In Asia, great command of words. His style is seldom the King of Spain was master of the Philip easy, and is sometimes unpleasantly stiff
. He pines, and of all those rich settlements which is so bigoted a purist, that he transforms the the Portuguese had made on the coasts of Abbé d'Estrées into an Abbot. We do not like Malabar and Coromandel, in the Peninsula of to see French words introduced into English Malacca, and in the Spice Islands of the Eastcomposition; but, after all, the first law of ern Archipelago. In America, his dominions writing, that law to which all other laws are extended on each side of the equator into the subordinate, is this—that the words employed temperate zone. There is reason to believe shall be such as convey to the reader the that his annual revenue amounted, in the sea. pieaning of the writer. Now an Abbot is the son of his greatest power, to four millions sterhead of a religious house; an Abbé is quite a ling; a sum eight times as large as that which different sort of person. It is better undoubt- England yielded to Elizabeth. He had a standedly to use an English word than a French ing army of fifty thousand excellent troops, at word; but it is better to use a French word a lime when England had not a single battalion than to misuse an English word.
in constant pay. His ordinary naval force
consisted of a hundred and forty galleys. He • History of the War of the Succession in Spain. By has held, the dominion both of the land and of
held, what no other prince modern times LORD MAHON. London : 1832.
the sea. During the greater part of his reign claimed by the grave and haughty chiefs who he was supreme on both elements. His sol- surrounded the throne of Ferdinand the Cathodiers marched up to the capital of France; his lic, and of his immediate successors. That ships menaced the shores of England. majestic art, “premere imperio populos," was not
li is no exaggeration to say, that during se- beiter understood by the Romans in the proud. veral years, his power over Europe was greater est days of their republic, than by Gonsalvo than even that of Napoleon. The influence and Ximenes, Cories and Alva. The skill of the French conqueror never extended be- of the Spanish diplomatists was renowned yond low-water mark. The narrowest strait throughout Europe. In England the name of was to his power what it was of old believed Gondomar is still remembered. The sovereign that a running stream was to the sorceries of nation was unrivalled both in regular and ira witch. While his army entered every me regular warfare. The impetuous chivalry of tropolis, from Moscow to Lisbon, the English France, the serried phalanx of Switzerland, Meets blockaded every port, from Dantzic to were alike found wanting when brought face Trieste. Sicily, Sardinia, Majorca, Guernsey, to face with the Spanish infantry. In the wars enjoyed security through the whole course of of the New World where something different a war which endangered every throne on the from ordinary strategy was required in the continent. The victorious and imperial na- general, and something different from ordinary tion, which had filled its museums with the discipline in the soldier--where it was every spoils of Antwerp, of Florence, and of Rome, day necessary to meel by some new expedient was suffering painfully from the want of the varying tactics of a barbarous enemy, the luxuries which use had rendered necessaries. Spanish adventurers, sprung from the common While pillars and arches were rising to com- people, displayed a fertility of resource, and a memorate the French conquests, the conquer- i talent for negotiation and command, to which ors were trying to make coffee out of succory, history scarcely affords a parallel. and sugar out of beet-root. The influence of The Castilian of those times was to the Philip on the continent was as great as that Italian what the Roman, in the days of the of Napoleon. The Emperor of Germany was greatness of Rome, was to the Greek. The his kinsman. France, torn by religious dis- conqueror had less ingenuity, less taste, less sensions, was never a formidable opponent, delicacy of perception than the conquered; but and was sometimes a dependent ally. At the far more pride, firmness, and courage; a more same time, Spain had what Napoleon desired solemn demeanour, a stronger sense of honour. in vain-ships, colonies, and commerce. She The one had more subtilty in speculation, the long monopolized the trade of America and of other more energy in action. The vices of the the Indian Ocean. All the gold of the West, one were those of a coward; the vices of the and all the spices of the East, were received other were those of a tyrant. It may be added, and distributed by her. During many years that the Spaniard, like the Roman, did not disof war, her commerce was interrupted only dain to study the arts and the language of those by the predatory enterprises of a few roving whom he oppressed. A revolution took place privateers. Even after the defeat of the Ar- in the literature of Spain, not unlike to that mada, English statesmen continued to look revolution which, as Horace tells us, took with great dread on the maritime power of place in the poetry of Latium; “Capta ferum Philip. “ The King of Spain," said the Lord victorem cepit.” The slave took prisoner the Keeper to the two Houses in 1593, “ since he enslaver. The old Castilian ballads gave hath usurped upon the kingdom of Portugal, place to sonnets in the style of Petrarch, and hath thereby grown mighty by gaining the to heroic poems in the stanza of Ariosto; as East Indies; so as, how great soever he was the national songs of Rome were driven out before, he is now thereby manifestly more great by imitations of Theocritus and translations .... He keepeth a navy armed to impeach all from Menander. trade of merchandise from England to Gas- In no modern society, not even in England coigne and Guienne, which he attempted to do during the reign of Elizabeth, has there been this last vintage; so as he is now become as so great a number of men eminent at once in a frontier enemy to all the west of England, as literature and in the pursuits of active life, as well as all the south parts, as Sussex, Hamp- Spain produced during the sixteenth century. shire, and the Isle of Wight. Yea, by means Almost every distinguished writer was also of his interest in St. Maloes, a port full of ship-distinguished as a soldier and a politician. ping for the war, he is a dangerous neighbour Boscan bore arms with high reputation. Garto the queen's isles of Jersey and Guernsey, cilasso de Vega, the author of the sweetest and ancient possessions of this crown, and never most graceful pastoral poem of modern times, conquered in the greatest wars with France.” | after a short but splendid military career, fell
The ascendency which Spain then had in sword in hand at the head of a storming party. Europe, was, in one sense, well deserved. It Alonzo de Ercilla bore a conspicuous pait in was an ascendency which had been gained by that war of Arauco, which he afterwards celeunquestioned superiority in all the arts of brated in the best heroic poem 'hat Spain has policy and of war. In the sixteenth century, produced. Hurtado de Mendoza, whose poeins Italy was not more decidedly the land of the have been compared to those of Horace, ana fine arts, Germany was noi more decidedly whose charming little novel is evidently the mo. the land of bold theological speculation, thandel of Gil Blas, has been handed down to us by Spain was the land of statesmen and of sol- history as one of the sternest of those iron pro. diers. The character which Virgil has as- consuls, who were employed by the house of cribed to his countrymen might have been ustria to crush the lingering public spiri: of Vol. II.-25
Italy. Lope sailed in the Armada ; Cervantes : less bigots. The glory of the Spanish pencil was wounded at Lepanto.
had departed with Velasquez and Murillo. It is curious to consider with how much awe The splendid age of Spanish iterature had our ancestors in those times regarded a Spa- closed with Solis and Calderon. During the niard. He was, in their apprehension, a kind seventeenth century many states had formed of demon, horribly malevolent, but withal most great military establishments. But the Spasagacious and powerful. “They be verye nish army, so formidable under the command wyse and politicke,” says an honest English. of Alva and Farnese, had dwindled away to a man, in a memorial addressed to Mary," and few thousand men, ill paid and ill disciplined. can, thorowe ther wysdome, reform and bry- England, Holland, and France had great navies. dell theyr owne natures for a tyme, and applye But the Spanish navy was scarcely equal to their conditions to the maners of those men the tenth part of that mighty force which, in the with whom they meddell gladlye by friend time of Philip the Second, had been the terror shippe; whose mischievous maners a man of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The shall never knowe untyll he come under ther arsenals were deserted. The magazines were subjection: but then shall he parfectlye par- unprovided. The frontier fortresses were unceyve and sele them: which thynge I praye garrisoned. The police was utterly inefficient God England never do; for in dissimulations for the protection of the people. Murders were untyll they have ther purposes, and afterwards committed in the face of day with perfect imin oppression and tyrannye, when they can ob- punity. Bravoes and discarded serving-men, tayne them, they do exceed all other nations with swords at their sides, swaggered every upon the earthe." This is just such language day through the most public street and squares as Arminius would have used about the Ro- of the capital, disturbing the public peace, and mans, or as an Indian statesman of our times setting at defiance the ministers of justice. would use about the English. It is the lan- The finances were in frightful disorder. The guage of a man burning with hatred, but cowed people paid much. The government received by those whom he hates; and painfully sensi- little. The American viceroys and the farmers ble of their superiority, not only in power, but of the revenue became rich, while the mer. in intelligence.
chants broke, while the peasantry starved, But how art thou fallen from heaven, oh while the body-servants of the sovereign reLucifer, son of the morning! How art thou mained unpaid, while the soldiers of the royal cut down to the ground, that didst weaken the guard repaired daily to the doors of convents, nations! If we overleap a hundred years, and and battled there with the crowd of beggars look at Spain towards the close of the seven- for a porringer of broth and a morsel of bread. teenth century, what a change do we find! Every remedy which was tried aggravated the The contrast is as great as that which the disease. The currency was altered; and this Rome of Gallienus and Honorius presents to frantic measure produced its never-failing the Rome of Marius and Cæsar. Foreign con- effects. It destroyed all credit, and increased quests had begun to eat into every part of that the misery which it was intended to relieve. gigantic monarchy on which the sun never The American gold, to use the words of Ortiz,
Holland was gone, and Portugal, and was to the necessities of the state but as a Artois, and Roussillon, and Franche Comté. drop of water to the lips of a man raging with In the East, the empire founded by the Dutch thirst. Heaps of unopened despatches accufar surpassed in wealth and splendour that mulated in the offices, while the ministers were which their old tyrants still retained. In the concerting with the bedchamber-women and West, England had seized, and still held, settle- Jesuits the means of tripping up each other. tlements in the midst of the Mexican sea. The Every foreign power could plunder and insult mere loss of territory was, however, of little with impunity the heir of Charles the Fifth. moment. The reluctant obedience of distant Into such a state had the mighty kingdom of provinces generally costs more than it is Spain fallen, while one of its smallest depende worth.
encies—a country not so large as the proEmpires which branch out widely are often vince of Estremadura or Andalusia, situated more flourishing for a little timely pruning: under an inclement sky, and preserved only by Adrian acted judiciously when he abandoned artificial means from the inroads of the ccean the conquests of Trajan. England was never —had become a power of the first class, and so rich, so great, so formidable to foreign treated on terms of equality with the courts of princes, so absolutely mistress of the sea, as London and Versailles. after the loss of her American colonies. The The manner in which Lord Mahon explains Spanish empire was still, in outward appear the financial situation of Spain by no means ance, great and magnificent. The European satisfies us. “It will be found,” says he, “thal dominions subject to the last feeble prince of those individuals deriving their chief income the house of Austria were far more extensive from mines whose yearly produce is uncertain than those of Louis The Fourteenth. The and varying, and seems to spring rather from American dependencies of the Castilian crown fortune than to follow industry, are usually still extended to the north of Cancer and to the careless, unthrifty, and irregular in their er south of Capricorn. But within this immense penditure. The example of Spain might temp! body ihere was an incurable decay, an utter us to apply the same remark to states.” Lord want of tone, an utter prostration of strength. Mahon would find it difficult, we suspect, to An ingenious and diligent population, emi- make out his analogy. Nothing could be more nently skilled in arts and manufactures had uncertain and varying than the gains and losses been driven into exile by stupid and remorse-of those who were in the habit of putting into
the state lotteries. But no part of the public had been stirred to its inmost depths. The income was more certain than that which was hold of ancient prejudice had been somewhat derived from the loiteries. We believe that loosened. The Church of Rome, warned by this case is very similar to that of the Ameri- the danger which she had narrowly escaped, can mines. Somne veins of ore exceeded ex- had, in those parts of her dominion, assumed pectation, some fell below it. Some of the a milder and more liberal character. She private speculators drew blanks, and others sometimes condescended to submit her high gained prizes. But the revenue of the state pretensions to the scrutiny of reason, and depended not on any particular vein, but on availed herself more sparingly than in former the whole annual produce of two great conti- times of the aid of the secular arm. Even nents. This annual produce seems to have when persecution was employed, it was not been almost constantly on the increase during persecution in the worst and most frightful the seventeenth century. The Mexican mines shape. The severities of Louis the Fourteenth, were, through the reigns of Philip the Fourth odious as they were, connot be compared with and Charles the Second, in a steady course of those which, at the first dawn of the Reformaimprovement; and in South America, though tion, had been inflicted on the heretics in many the district of Potosi was not so productive as parts of Europe. formerly, other places more than made up for The only effect which the Reformation had the def ciency. We very much doubt whether produced in Spain had been to make the InLord Mahon can prove that the income which quisition more vigilant and the commonalty the Spanish government derived from the mines more bigoted. The times of refreshing came of America fluctuated more than the income to all neighbouring countries.
One people derived from the internal taxes of Spain itself. remained, like the fieece of the Hebrew war
All the causes of the decay of Spain resolve rior, dry in the midst of that benignant and themselves into one causebad government. fertilizing dew. While other nations were putThe valour, the intelligence, the energy, which ting away childish things, the Spaniard still at the close of the fifteenth and the beginning thought as a child and understood as a child. of the sixteenth century made thc Spaniards Among the men of the seventeenth century he the first nation in the world, were the fruits of was the man of the fifteenth century, or of a the old institutions of Castile and Arragon-- still darker period—delighted to behold an auto institutions which were eminently favourable da-fe, and ready to volunteer on a crusade. to public liberty. Those institutions the first The evils produced by a bad governmen princes of the house of Austria attacked and and a bad religion seemed to have attain. almost wholly destroyed. Their successors ex- their greatest height during the last years or piated the crime. The effects of a change from the seventeenth century. While the kingdom good government to bad government is not was in this deplorable state, the king was fully felt for some time after the change has hastening to an early grave. His days had taken place. The talents and the virtues which been few and evil. He had been unfortunate a good constitution generates may for a time in all his wars, in every part of his internal survive that constitution. Thus the reigns of administration, and in all his domestic relaprinces who have established absolute mo- tions. His first wife, whom he tenderly loved, narchy on the ruins of popular forms of go- died very young. His second wife exercised vernment often shine in history with a peculiar great influence over him, but seems to have brilliancy. But when a generation or two has been regarded by him rather with fear than passed away, then comes signally to pass that with love. He was childless; and his constiwhich was written by Montesquieu, that des tution was so completely shattered, that at little potic governments resemble those savages who more than thirty years of age he had given up cut down the tree in order to get at the fruit. all hopes of posterity. His mind was even During the first years of tyranny is reaped the more distempered than his body. He was harvest sown during the last years of liberty. sometimes sunk in listless melancholy, and Thus the Augustan age was rich in great minds sometimes harassed by the wildest and most formed in the generation of Cicero and Cæsar.extravagant fancies. He was not, however, The fruits of the policy of Augustus were re- wholly destitute of the feelings which became served for posterity. Philip the Second was his station. His suíferings were aggravated the heir of the Cortes and of the Justiza Mayor, by the thought that his own dissolution might and they left him a nation which seemed able not improbably be followed by the dissolution to conquer all the world. What Philip left to of his empire. his successors is well known.
Several princes laid claim to the succession. The shock which the great religious schism The king's eldest sister had married Louis the of the sixteenth century gave to Europe was Fourteenth. The Dauphin would, therefore, in scarcely felt in Spain. In England, Germany, the common course of inheritance, have sucHolland, France, Denmark, Switzerland, Swe- ceeded to the crown. But the Infanta had, at den, that shock had produced, with some tem- the time of her espousals, solemnly renounced, porary evil, much durable good. The princi- in her own name and in that of her posterity, ples of the Reformation had triumphed in some all claim to the succession. This renunciation of those countries. The Catholic Church had had been confirmed in due form by the Cortes, maintained its ascendency in others. But A younger sister of the king had been the firs: though the event had not been the same in all, wife of Leopold, Emperor of Germany. She, all had been agitated by the conflict. Even in too, had at her marriage renounced her claims France, in Southern Germany, and in the Ca- to the Spanish crown, wat the Cartes had not tholic cantons of Switzerland, the public mind ca pe poster the renunciation, and it was there
fore considered as invalid by the Spanish ju- parcelled and allotted; insulting to the pride rists. The fruit of this marriage was a daugh- of Spain, and tending to strip that country of ter, who had espoused the Elector of Bavaria. its hard-won conquests." The most serious The Electoral Prince of Bavaria inherited her part of this charge would apply to half the claim to the throne of Spain. The Emperor ireaties which have been concluded in Europe Leopold was son of a daughter of Philip the quite as strongly as to the Partition Treaty, Third, and was therefore first cousin to Charles. What regard was shown in the treaty of the No renunciation whatever had been exacted Pyrenees to the welfare of the people of Dunkirk from his mother at the time of her marriage. and Roussillon ; in the treaty of Nimeguen to
The question was certainly very complicated. the welfare of the people of Franche Comté ; in That claim which, according to the ordinary the treaty of Utrecht to the welfare of the peorules of inheritance, was the strongest, had ple of Flanders; in the treaty of 1735 to the been barred by a contract executed in the most welfare of the people of Tuscany? All Eubinding form. The claim of the Electoral rope remembers, and our latest posterity will, Prince of Bavaria was weaker. But so also we fear, have reason to remember, how coolly, was the contract which bound him not to pro- at the last great pacification of Christendom, secute his claim. The only party against whom the people of Poland, of Norway, of Belgium, no instrument of renunciation could be pro- and of Lombardy, were allotted to masters duced was the party who, in respect of blood, whom they abhorred. The statesmen who nehad the weakest claim of all.
gotiated the Partition Treaty were not so far As it was clear that great alarm would be beyond their age and hours in wisdom and vis. excited throughout Europe if either the Em- tue, as to trouble themselves much about the peror or the Dauphin should become King of happiness of the people whom they were apSpain, each of those princes offered to waive portioning among foreign masters. But it will his pretensions in favour of his second son; be difficult to prove that the stipulations which the Emperor in favour of the Archduke Charles, Lord Mahon condemns, were in any respect the Dauphin in favour of Philip, Duke of An- unfavourable to the happiness of those who jou.
were to be transferred to new rulers. The Soon after the peace of Ryswick, William Neapolitans would certainly have lost nothing the Third and Louis the Fourteenth determined by being given to the Dauphin, or to the Great to settle the question of the succession without Turk. Addison, who visited Naples aboui ihe consulting either Charles or the Emperor. time at which the Partition Treaty was signed, France, England, and Holland became parties has left us a frightful description of the misto a treaty by which it was stipulated that the government under which that part of the Electoral Prince of Bavaria should succeed to Spanish empire groaned. As to the people of Spain, the Indies, and the Netherlands. The Lorraine, a union with France would have imperial family were to be bought off with the been the happiest event which could have beMilanese, and the Dauphin was to have the two fallen them. Louis was already their soveSicilies.
reign for all purposes of cruelty and exaction. The great object of the King of Spain, and He had kept the province during many years of all his counsellors, was to avert the dis- in his own hands. At the peace of Ryswick, memberment of the monarchy. In the hope indeed, the duke had been allowed to return. of attaining this end, Charles determined to But the conditions which had been imposed on
A will was accordingly him made him a mere vassal of France. framed, by which the ciown was bequeathed We cannot admit that the Treaty of Partito the Bavarian prince. Unhappily, this will tion was objectionable because it "tended to had scarcely been signed when the prince strip Spain of hard-won conquests.". The indied. The question was again unsettled, and heritance was so vast, and the claimants so presented greater difficulties than before. mighty, that without some dismemberment, it
A new Treaty of Partition was concluded was scarcely possible to make a peaceable arbetween France, England, and Holland. It rangement. If any dismemberment was to was agreed that Spain, the Indies, and the Ne- take place, the best way of effecting it surely, therlands should descend to the Archduke was to separate from the monarchy those naCharles. In return for this great concession tions which were at a great distance from made by the Bourbons to a rival house, it was Spain ; which were not Spanish in manners, in agreed ihat France should have the Milanese, language, or in feelings; which were both or an equivalent in a more commodious situa- worse governed and less valuable than the old tion; if possible, the province of Lorraine. provinces of Castile and Arragon; and which,
Arbuthnot, some years later, ridiculed the having always been governed by foreigners, Partition Treaty with exquisite humour and would not be likely to feel acutely the humiliingenuity. Everybody must remember his ation of being turned over from one master to ilescription of the paroxysm of rage into another. which poor old Lord Strutt fell, on hearing that That England and Holland had a right to inhis runaway servant, Nick Frog, his clothier, terfere, is plain. The question of the Spanish John Bull, and his old enemy, Lewis Baboon, succession was not an internal question, but had come with quadrants, poles, and inkhorns, a European question. And this Lord Mahon in survey his estate, and to draw his will for would admit. He thinks, that when the evil him. Lord Mahon speaks of the arrangement had been done, and a French prince was with grave severity. He calls it“ an iniqui- reigning at the Escurial, England and Holland lous compact, concluded without the slightest would be justified in attempting, not merely to reierence to the welfare of the states so readily strip Spain of its remote dependencies, but to
name a successor.