Abbildungen der Seite

essential to connect, preserve, and hold them all together--a great body, serving as the common centre of gravity of the political system.

The want of such a state occasioned the downfall of ancient Greece. Its principal commonwealths, by their contentions for ascendancy, gave to the Macedonian power an advantage which proved fatal to them all.

The canton of Berne, by its influence in the Swiss confedederacy, contributed to prolong its existence.

The German empire seemed annihilated by the treaty of Westphalia, which allowed to its princes the right of making war and treaties separately: but it still possessed a species of metropolis in the Austrian monarchy, whose influence preserved it, in spite of that inauspicious compact, until the power of France became irresistible.

If Spain falls, you must either form a new metropolis, or an union of the colonies, considering them all on an equality. By the latter arrangement, you would incur the dangers to which the United States have been exposed. Mexico, Guatimala, and the interior provinces, might form a party for the northern states; Peru, La Plata and Chili, might set up a southern, and New Gra. nada and Caraccas an eastern interest in the kingdom. These parties might espouse the cause of different foreign powers, the ruinous tendency of which is manifest.

In the formation of a metropolis, you will have no difficulty: there is one at hand, suited in all respects to be the seat of the government of the kingdom. New Spain, extended to the Isthmus, includes more than half the population and the wealth of all his majesty's dominions in the Indias. Its local position, its healthful climates in general, its populous and magnificent cities, its splendid public institutions, and more than all, its military force and resources, entitle it beyond all rivalship to the metropolitan distinction.

The metropolis of an empire, not having a powerful navy, some strong moral ties, or the influence of long established and revered authority, to preserve or enforce the allegiance of its dependencies, ought not only to be of great force, but to be so situated as to touch each of them; or at least that no more than YOL. VII.


one state should intervene between the metropolis and any other

New Spain, comprising Panama and Porto Bello, might command New Granada, Quito and Peru directly, and by its power over these states, might influence Chili and La Plata on the one side, and on the other the state of Caraccas.

The new metropolis ought not to claim any other than political pre-eminence. The colonies have submitted with reluctance to the agricultural and commercial restrictions imposed by the European mother country, and they will neither love, fear or respect the new metropolis as they did Spain. It cannot, therefore, be expected that they would submit to pretensions which they would consider as equally novel, insulting and unjust. To compel submission, if it were practicable, would be impolitic. New Spain may soon require all its forces for its own defence. Its connexion with the less powerful states should be secured by the bonds of mutual interest and national affection. It is, therefore, suggested, that the equality of agricultural and commercial privileges should be declared and enforced by a constitutional provision.

1 In the event of the restoration of Spain, the American metropolis might be subdivided, if requisite: although it merits consideration whether a colonial metropolis, subordinate to, and more immediately within the reach of the metropolis of the empire, might not serve to unite more firmly all its dependencies.

Is it right to impart so much of the royal authority to the cortes, the viceroys, and the councils of the states?

The proposed constitution is such as it is presumed his majesty himself, if he were at liberty, would now sanction. To place near his royal person, and regulate the exercise of his power, by the advice of the good and the great, the pious, the learned, and the wise of his subjects, will not endanger or enfeeble, but give strength, solidity and splendour to his throne.

Does the proposition require proof? View it obvious and irrefragable in the misfortunes of the illustrious Castilian monarchy.

The viceroyalties and captain-generalships are called states: The name is dignified, and may gratify their inhabitants; and it is besides associated with those ideas of civil rights, which are promised to all, and which it is so important that all should enjoy. Let it be constantly kept in remembrance, that promises of rights, privileges, honours and dignities will be lavished upon them by the enemy. Boons of this kind have already seduced but too many who stood high in rank, authority and character. We know the falsehood and perfidy of the enemy: nevertheless, experience shows that no one, however extravagant in promising, or however notoriously perfidious, but will find dupes to believe him, when he makes fine promises in their own favour. Sancho Panza never thought Don Quixote in his senses except when he promised him the government of Barataria; and then he always believed his master to be sane, judicious and sincere. Sancho is a fair specimen of human nature.

To obviate or counteract hostile seduction, provide for your distinguished persons, and as far as possible for all his majesty's remaining subjects, such honourable, advantageous and permament establishments in the new world, that they may rest thoroughly satisfied with their situation. Be beforehand with the enemy-Anticipate his policy-Leave him nothing to offer which your subjects desire and ought to possess. Remove their just grounds of complaint; and while you require from them all the duties which a loyal people ought to perform, give them all the rights which a free people ought to enjoy. Their prosperity will be the pride, their privileges the ornament, and their security the strongest rampart of the throne.

The privileges specified in the last six articles of the constitution ought to be granted, if nothing else is done, and whatever may be the state of the peninsula. Concede to your colonies what is just, before they demand it in arms. A contest with them, however it might terminate, would not only divert your resources from the defence of the mother country, but might permanently alienate their affections, and materially diminish their value.

Disinterested zeal has sometimes great force; but it works only by starts, and is seldom of long continuance. Self-interest, on the contrary, is a principle of incessant operation; and its activity is as vigorous as uniform. Every government, calling upon its subjects to defend it, should anticipate and provide a satisfactory answer to this obvious question of theirs: What are we to fight for?

In the authority given to the viceroys and the councils of states to enact municipal laws and ordinances, there seems nothing dangerous to the royal prerogative; because his majesty's sanction is requisite to render these ordinances valid, and because they must be proposed, or assented to, by those who are responsible to his majesty for all the measures of their administration.

Local and municipal legislation serves for various useful purposes, as the police of roads, rivers, bridges, canals, harbours, markets, charitable and collegiate institutions, and the like; which can seldom be well regulated by a remote authority. The pow. er of limited and subordinate legislation is possessed pot only by the colonies, but even by many of the cities of Great Britain; and much benefit has resulted from its exercise.

The limited power of pardon conferred on all the viceroys • will be honourable and gratifying to them, and can rarely be inju

rious to his majesty or the kingdom. The royal power of pardon is of little benefit to the subjects in a distant territory, unless it be imparted to some authority residing there.

The viceregal patronage is extended during the interregnum; for it may be necessary to proclaim the constitution, before the assent of the distant viceroys and captains-general can be obtained; and every thing reasonable should be conceded to conci. liate those who may so much advance or retard its establishment.

If the members of the central junta arrive in America, they will no doubt be recognised as the representatives of the sovereign. In this event, they should immediately constitute a liberal general government, having all due consideration for the claims of the viceroys and governors of provinces. Their own authority would then stand upon a broad and firm basis. God forbid that any inauspicious jealousies should prevent that cordial union and co-operation of all good Spaniards in America, upon which depends not only their own welfare, but perhaps the preservation from slavery of half the world.

In the formation of the cortes, the chief objects are to promote the public interest and satisfy all parties, without endangering the tranquillity of the kingdom, or the just prerogatives of the crown. Two councils are established, because a single legislative body might become too powerful for both the king and the people; and because a distinct and controlling senate is productive of due deliberation; or may serve at least to prevent that precipitation, which in the exercise of legislative authority is often highly detrimental.

The members of the congress are apportioned among the states in the manner which it is believed is best calculated to prevent jealousies between them. The first appointment of deputies by the viceroys, with the consent of the councils of the states, is allowed for the sake of a prompt and effectual establishment of the constitution. The best government that ever man formed would be of little utility unless there were suitable persons to carry it into effect. It is presumed that such persons could not be immediately so well selected by the electors of the districts, as by the governors and counsellors of the states.

The senate, from its composition, can hardly become dangerous: its number, though not unlimited, is left indeterminate, in order to give the king a reasonable influence in that body, and to provide an honourable retreat for those who may have rendered distinguished services to his majesty and the kingdom, and for those also whose ambition might render them formidable in other situations.

The cortes is constituted, both in respect to persons and numbers, with a view to the possibility of re-union with Spain. All its members might be assembled at Madrid without injury or inconvenience to any branch of the colonial administration.

The appellations of councils and magistrates which have been chosen, are considered as being the best known and the best liked: if any mistake, in this respect, has been committed, other names should be selected. On these occasions, suitable and well-sounding words are of great importance.

By the general dispositions of the last title, several essential changes are introduced in the structure of society itself, as it now exists in the Spanish colonies. To innovate is always a delicate, and often a dangerous task; but no reform can be made without innovation, and great reforms will be necessary in the event we anticipate.

The policy of governments, with respect to the nation forming the metropolis or body of the empire, has been generally dif

« ZurückWeiter »