Page images

This article would also appear to be superfluous, did we not know that the contrary has been the custom both in Francs and Spain. The noblesse, grandees, and clergy, who could best allord to contribute towards the expences of the state, have been excused by privilege, and all the burthen has fallen on the mercantile and labouring classes. It has been a refinement on Slavery, more painful to its victims than the common character of a purchased slave. Man has fallen indeed, but he is beginning to recollect his proper situation in life; and liberty shall prove luis best and most precious redeemer.

ART. 9.--Every Spaniard is also bound to defend liis country in arms, wlienever the law may demand his services.

This is a necessary mjunction, but to render it effectual, every man should possess arms for the defence of his country, and be in a continual state of discipline and organization. In the present state of society in this country, we are divided into two parties: the one wishes to reform the corruptions of the government, and the consequence of this wish has been, that this government, sensible of its own weakness and corruptions, has enacted laws for the purpose of disarming this party and keeping it as ignorant as possible: ihe other is fostered in the corruptions of the government, and is contented to prey on the health of the state; the government has accordingly put weapons into the hands of this party that they might the better destroy and devour their opponents. We have often reflected how much it would aid to the general health of those who are daily shut in heated manufactories, if a small portion of their time was daily occupied in military exercise, even the seventh day might be well employed as a change and refreshment in this pursuit. Instead of this, our mechanics and labouring classes, generally, are sauntering about at the corner of a street or in some alehouse, if they have money to spend, to the great injury of their health and happiness. Every community to be free and safe should be armed, and every man a soldier when occasion requires. If we look at man in his abstract character, we shall find him a mere beast of prey, whose appetite is sufficiently vile to lead him to prey on his fellow-man, and nothing but the fear of retaliaiion can keep him within proper bounds, and prevent his becoming mischievous. Should ever this proposition come into practice, we shall then have no need of a standing army, kept in a state of idleness, for the support of tyranny and as a prey on the labouring classes.

DIVISION II. On the Territory of Spain, its Religion and Caernment;

and on Spanish Citizens.

C&AP. I --On the Spanish Territory. ART. 10. - The Spanish territory contains in the Peninsula, with: its possessions and adjacent islands, Arragon, Asturias, Old and New Castile, Catalonia, Cordova, Estramadora, Galicia, Grenada, Jaen, Leon, Molina, Murcia, Navarre, the Biscavan Provinces, Se. ville and Valencia, the Balearic Isles, the Canaries, besides the possessions in Africa. In North America, it comprises New Spain, New Galicia, and the Peninsula of Yucatan, Guatimala, the internal east. ern and western provinces; the island of Cuba, the two Floridas, the Spanish part of St. Domingo, the Island of Porto Rico, and the islands adjacent thereto, and to the continent in both the Allanric and Pacific Oceans. In South America it com: prises New Grenada, Venezuela, Peru, Chili, the provinces oui, the river Plate, and the islands adjacent thereto, in the Pacific auil Atlantic oceans. In Asia it comprises the Philippine islands, and their dependencies,

The tenth article contains an enumeration of the Spanish territory, as it existed previous to the intasion of Spain by Buonaparte; but on the first meeting of the Cortes they will find it much abridged, and much to the advantage of the mother country.

ART. 11. A more convenient division of the Spanish territory slial! be made as soon as the political circumstances of the nation will perioit.

This is another of the superfluities, and quite unnecessary to form an article of a constitution since the divisions and extent of the territory of any one government will be continually changing

CHÁP. H.Ơn Religiot. Art. 12. The Religion of the Spanish Nation is, and shall be perpetually, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman, the only true religion. The tration protects ii by wise and just laws, and prohibits the exercise of any other whatever,

However necessary this provision might have been for the general feeling of Spain in 1812, on matters of religion, history affords sufficient experience to assure us, that it cannot sland as a permanent provision, without destroying the other parts of the constitution that are salutary, and consequently perman

nent. We have strong hopes, that the Spanish pation will soon hail religious liberty as an essential concornitant to civil · liberty. The provisions of the above article are utterly irreconcileable with the character of man. The monarchs of Spain have spilt an ocean of blood already to produce this uniformity of opinion, but, alas! how vain the attempt ! Charles the Fifth became convinced of this when it was too late to remedy the mischief be had done. The example of the father was lost upon the son, and it appears that absolute monarchy is only calculated to produce absolute misery, which is renewed with every change of the individual who fills the throne. Those laws will be found in Spain not to be wise and just, which enforce uniformity of opinion and prohibit the exercise of a variety.

CHAP: 111,-- On the Government. ÅRT. 13. The object of the Government is the happiness of the nation : since the end of all political society is nothing but the welfare of all individuals of which it is composed.

This article is a theory in political economy which very improperly forms an article in this constitution, because it can only be rendered practicable by the adoption of such principles as are essential to it. The former article is calculated to iar it, many others to produce it; but if the present constitution of Spain was to be like the laws of the Medes and Persians, the end of this article would be defeated by the means proposed for it.

Art. 14. The Goverument of the Spanish nation is a limited heredilary monarchy.

This article is scarcely worth objecting to, as it will entirely depend an the other parts of the constitution whether it be practicable or not. It will be some time before the new constitution of Spain be thoroughly established.

Art. 15. The power of making laws is fixed in the Cortes, jointly with the King.

We cannot give our assent to the propriety of this article, because to us it appears an anomaly in jurisprudence that an individual should possess the power to prevent the passing of a law which the majority of the representatives of the people have agreed to. It is a superstitious veneration for the oflice of king which cannot fail to be injurious to the people, should the person filling the kingły office be hardy enough to oppasso

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

their will. There is not much to be feared from this article
whilst the controul of the army rests with the representatives
of the people.

ART. 16. The executioa of the laws is fixed in the King.

This article has nothing objectionable, because the only utility of a king is to enforce the execution of the laws, sanctioned by the will of the people.

ART17.---Tle application of the laws, in civil and criminal causes. is placed in the tribunals established by law.

This article intimates the abolition of all absolute power and provides for the due administration of the laws.

[ocr errors]

CHAP. IV... On Spanish Citizens.
ART. 18. Those are Spanish Citizens who descend from parente,
both of the Spanish dominions of cither liemispheres, and are settled
io any town or district of the same.

Art. 19. That foreigner is also a citizen, who already enjoying thic
rights of a Spaniard, inay bare obtained froin the Cortes special letters
of citizenship

Art. 20. To enable a foreigner to obtain from the Cortes sucha special letier, he mu:t either have married a Spanish womail

, or have brought into, and established in Spain, some invention, or valuable branch of industry, or acquired property, froin whence he pays a direct contribution or tax; or as established bimself in trade with, in the judgment of the same Cortes, an adequate and considerable capital, or has performed marked services for ibe welfare and defence of the nation.

ART. 21. Those also are citizens who are the legitimate offspring of foreigners settled in Spain, whu, born in the Spanish dominions, have, never quilted them'without the leave of government, and who having completed their twenty-first year, have settled in any town of the same dominions, exercising therein any profession, odlice, or useful branch of industry.

ART. 22. The Cortes leave open the channels of virtue and merit to Spaniards reputed of African origin on either side, to become citizens : accordingly, the Cortes will grant letters of citizenship to those who may perform reasonable services to the country, or to those who distinguish themselves by their talents, diligence, and good conduct, ou condition that they are the children, in lawful marriage, of fathers naturally free, that they are married to a woman also waturally free, and settled in the Spanish dominions, exercising any profession, office, or useful branch of industry, with an adequate spital.

Vol. III. No:1.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ART. 23. Citizens alone are eligible to municipal offices, and per mitted to vote for them in those cases pointed ont by the law.

ART. 24. The condition or quality of a Spanish citizen is lost ; in the first place, by obtaining letters of naturalization in a foreign country.

Secondly, accepting employment under any other government.

"Thirdly, by any sentence imposing severe or infamous penalties, as long as it remains unrevoked.

Fourthly, by residing five years following out of the Spanish territory, without a commission or leave of government.

ART. 25. The exercise of the same rights is suspended, in the first place, in virtue of any judicial proliibition from physical or moral incapacity.

Secondly, in cases of bankruptcy, or of debtor to the public.
Thirdly, in the state of domestic servitude.

Fourthly, from not holding any employment, office, or kyown means of living.

Fifthly, from having undergone a criminal prosecution.

In the sixth place, from the year one thousand eight hundred and thirteen, all those who claim the rights of citizenship must know how to read and write.

ART. 26. The rights of citizenship can be lost or suspended by tle reasons pointed out in the two preceding articles alone; and by no oiliers.

We cannot but admire the whole of this chapter, it is the very essence of liberty and liberality. The fifth head of the 25th Article is not sufficieutly explicit where the right of citizenship is lost from having undergone a criminal prosecution. Having undergone and being convieted on a criminal prosecution appears to us to be two distinct things. An innocent man might be exposed to a criminal prosecution, but it is not sufficient ground for depriving him of the right of citizenship. The prosecutor, in such an instance, ought rather to lose it.

The sixth head of the same Article is an all-important one. It is the foundation of all that is good and valuable in society. Here is the ground work of equality. Every citizen must know how to read and write. How few of the peasantry of Spain are equal to this in the present day. Such a lawas this is sufficient in itself to work the annihilation of despotism. In another generation Spain will exhibit a grand spectacle to the literary world. Slow great the change. Spain, the prse of superstition and ignorance, is about to iake the lead in the literary world. Well might it be said that the present time is the prinier's harvest in that now fortunate country. May no ill-fated cloud darken its horizon nor obecure its rays.

« PreviousContinue »