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bly been led to regard wealth as the measure of civilization; and our estimate of wealth is based not upon the amount of comfort enjoyed by the masses, but by the imposing display of capital engaged in enlarging itself, and infusing life and animation into every thing which comes within its reach. Unceasing, bustling industry, stands at the head of the virtues, and any indulgence or relaxation from labour is denounced as laziness. Under the influence of this principle, we are taught to regard the southern countries of Europe as recreant to the cause of civilization ; and so far has this notion extended, that school books are actually published and extensively circulated, in which, by certain symbols, the learner is taught that while Northern Europe and the English portion of North America are enlightened countries, Spain and Portugal, and all their possessions, can lay claim only to the possession of bare civilization. These manufacturers of books to train the infant mind would perhaps be at a loss to distinguish the difference indicated on their maps, by any other trait than the difference in the degree of avarice which may exist in these countries. In other words, they would have to acknowledge that the active pursuit of wealth is the standard and test of the highest civilization. That Spain does not occupy the same conspicuous position in the affairs of Europe, as in the sixteenth century, is undeniable. It is not unlikely, however, that even then her influence was more imaginary than real. During the reigns of Charles V., and his son Philip the Second, Spain occupied the first place in European politics. But it is seldom, as kings of Spain, that these princes were conspicuously distinguished. The first was Emperor of Germany, and both hereditary lords of the low countries. The European history of Philip is not the history of Spain. The interest of the Netherlands absorbs all others.
Men are fond of contrasting the present condition of Spain with that of the age of Ferdinand and Isabella, and the change is generally ascribed to the ruinous policy introduced by Charles and his successor Philip. That certain States, now composed in the Spanish kingdom, stood far ahead of all other parts of Europe in the enjoyment of political rights, is true. How far these constitutional righis tended to licentiousness, may be inferred from the well known fact, that Ferdinand was compelled to decoy
a powerful malefactor to his own palace, and then in rather a treacherous manner to deliver him to the hands of the executioner. Spain consisted of several independent kingdoms, differing from each other in the enjoyment of civil and political liberty; and it was the arduous and difficult task of the monarchs who succeeded after their union, to mould the parts into a compact whole. The consolidation of two or more States into one, is ever a source of discontent, and always the occasion of a greater or less exercise of arbitrary power. For more than a century and a half the island of Great Britain was a prey to internal dissensions and harsh exercise of power, in con. sequence of the union of the crowns, and subsequently of the kingdoms, of England and Scotland. In Spain this consolidation was accompanied with difficulties of a peculiar character. The inhabitants had been engaged for eight hundred years in recovering their territory from the Moors. In all parts of the kingdom, but particularly in the South, there were known to be persons, great, popular, and powerful, who, though professing external attachment to Christianity and to Spanish nationality, harboured a secret attachment and devotion to the traditions and reminiscences of the palmy days of Saracenic rule. To discover and suppress these persons, was the primary object of the establishment of the Inquisition.
This celebrated institution, which has secured to Spain and to its founders an immortality of infamy, has recently found an ingenious, an honest, and an able defender in the person of the Reverend Jayme Balmes, a Spanish priest, whose work on the comparative influence of Protestantism and Catholicity on the civilization of Europe, has been recently published in this country. This work is a reply to Guizot's history of civilization, and several circumstances connected with it give it a more than ordinary interest. The author is a priest, a native of Spain, a curate of an obscure parish in Catalonia, and a conscientious Romanist. He is a man of extensive learning, considerable political sagacity, and a close and logical reasoner. His work is not only an honour to the church which he adorned, but a splendid monument, to which the modern Spaniard may proudly point to confute the charge of mental degeneracy. He has not feared to meet the French philosopher on his own ground, and no impartial
reader will pronounce him to have made an unsuccessful defence of the cause which he advocates.
The crowning glory of Ferdinand and Isabella's reign was the recovery of Spain from the dominion of the Moors. The conquest of Granada completed the reintegration of the Spanish Christian monarchy. But Spain had been for centuries the home of the Moors, and throughout the kingdom numbers of powerful families, both Moorish and Jewish, were to be found, who were secretly hostile to the Christian powers. It was feared that these would unite in a common cause against Christianity. The danger was great, because many of these persons had outwardly embraced Christianity, and it was uncertain where the secret enemy might lie concealed. The sense of the Spanish people, therefore, no less than that of the monarch, demanded the establishment of an institution which should prevent the danger. It was not an engine of persecution, but an instrument of self-preservation. And if the acts of the Inquisition added new blots to the already tarnished page of inhumanity, when, it may be asked, in such emergencies, after ages of fighting, when the victory was still doubtful, have combatants ever been known to conduct themselves with moderation and mildness?
The general respect which the world has entertained for the memory of Isabella, has induced it to palliate her offence on the ground of a stringent policy ; but the character of her descendant, Philip the Second, has been the subject of the most unmeasured denunciation. The Inquisition established by the former was continued by the latter, but with this important difference, that its victims were now, not Jews and Moors, men of an alien race and a different religion, but Spaniards and Christians, whose crime consisted in apostacy from the Church of Rome.
The historian can conceive no task more difficult than that of recommending the character of Philip the Second to the favourable consideration of the French or English mind. Cold, selfish, and bigoted, he appears to them the impersonation of pure and disinterested cruelty. An unamiable man, without friends, he sits alone in solitary grandeur, a warning to the great men of earth, and seems well calculated to point a moral and adorn a tale. It has been his misfortune that he was the representative of the Catholic faith. Against his government the provinces of
Holland revolted, and under the banner of Protestantism won for themselves an independent existence among the States of Europe. The Frenchman never forgets that he was the support of the League, and the determined enemy to the successor of Henry the Fourth ; and to the English mind his name is inseparably connected with that of Mary, and associated with all the vindictive and violent proceedings which marked the eforts made in her reign to counteract the Reformation.
The weight of infamy which Philip is made to bear, is an unquestionable proof of his mental and moral power. No one has ever supposed him to be an instrument or tool in the hands of ambitious or designing ministers. On the contrary, he is held responsible for their sins, and all the crimes and atrocities of an Alva are made to bear upon the character of his master.
We must, therefore, give Philip the credit of being the master of his own conduct. We must suppose, also, that his conduct was not without design. We must
, in common justice, presume that he desired to leave to his successors a kingdom as great as he had received it. He has never been charged with insanity; we must, therefore, presume that his was not the senseless and aimless cruelty of a Caligula or a Commodus, but a cold and systematic proportioning of the means to the end which he kept continually in view. A wantonly cruel man would surely have taken advantage of the possession of the eldest son of his greatest enemy, to work upon his feelings, and bend him to submission. But no such conduct appears. He carefully educated the son of the Prince of Orange in the Catholic faith, and the young prisoner never reflected upon any injurious treatment which he had ever received from the supposed assassin of his father.
Now, in judging of Philip's conduct, two things are necessary. Allowance should be made for the spirit and temper of the age in which he lived ; we should also consider the peculiar condition in which the religious and political state of Europe placed him.
When Philip is described as surrounded by his courtiers witnessing the horrible execution of the unhappy victims of the Inquisition, he is made to bear a double odium. He is not only charged with a taste for the sight of human suffering, but he is made responsible for the presence of
his whole court. Now this last charge is entirely supererogatory. The exertions of the Inquisition were, as they were styled, acts of faith. The good Catholic made it a point of duty to witness the punishment of heresy. The king attended, because public opinion called him there; the court went for the same reason. They acted in strict conformity with the spirit of the age. In our day the refined avoid public executions, as an outrage against humanity. The prince who should exhibit the ill taste to witness one, would suffer in the estimation of the public; and neither the Autocrat of Russia, nor Napoleon in the palmiest days of his power, could have prevailed on his courtiers to any similar violation of their moral feelings.
But whatever Philip's private character might have been, and we have no disposition to be his apologist, the historian is concerned chiefly with his public acts. And here it is necessary to notice the second point, viz., the peculiar position in which he was placed by the religious and political state of Europe. He was the head of the Catholic party. Wherever the doctrines of the Reformation had made their appearance, civil war had followed in their train. They had appeared in his Flemish and Dutch provinces, and involved him in a war which continued during his life, and resulted in the dismemberment of his empire. They had originated in Germany, and had kept his father so constantly engaged in civil wars, that at last, worn out with vexation, and oppressed by a premature old age, he had voluntarily abdicated his royal power. They had made their appearance in France, and that kingdom had not enjoyed internal peace since the death of Henry the Second. Scotland, too, and England, also, had come in for a full share of the civil and religious dissensions. As a ruler, therefore, it seemed to be a prudent policy to stay the progress of opinions which seemed to carry with them the seeds of civil commotions. Besides this apparent inconsistency with the peace of a country, the political principles of the Protestants on the Continent at least ran directly counter to the prevailing notions of the age. The fundamental policy of Ferdinand of Spain, and of Louis XI. of France, aimed at the complete overthrow of feudalism, by reducing the power of the nobles and increasing that of the throne. The Protestants of the Continent, those especially of France, were