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Title: Spain from within
Author: Shaw, Rafael
Language: English
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                           SPAIN FROM WITHIN



                           SPAIN FROM WITHIN

                              RAFAEL SHAW

                               NEW YORK
                      FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY

                       (_All rights reserved._)

     “For behold! this monstrous twenty million class,
    hitherto the dumb sheep which these others had to
    agree about the manner of shearing, is now also
    arising with hopes.”
                   --CARLYLE, “French Revolution.”

                            PREFATORY NOTE

     “Truth is an exile from our political world. Every faction and
     every group tells only that part of the truth which reflects
     discredit on its neighbour. Thus our political literature is
     interesting only as an archive of monstrosities. The other part of
     the truth--that which deals with the good qualities of the
     neighbour--is so out of fashion that nobody believes in its
     existence. To tell the truth to our politicians would be the
     greatest proof of friendship that could be offered to them. But who
     has sufficient courage to attempt it? No one in this world would
     venture upon so difficult, so disagreeable, and so dangerous a
     task. The result is that in Spain the only respect paid to the
     truth is to leave it unspoken.”--NUEVO MUNDO, Madrid, Feb. 24,

In the following pages I have endeavoured to show what the people of
Spain believe to be the truth about those who exercise authority over
them, as gathered from conversation with Spaniards of all classes, but
principally working people, in town and country, and from my own reading
and observation. Whether my informants are right or wrong in their
opinions and beliefs I do not pretend to decide; all I can declare is
that I have faithfully reported what I have heard and seen. The
importance of the opinions I have collected lies in the fact that,
whether they are justified or not, _the people believe them to be true_,
and on that belief they will assuredly act as soon as circumstances

I have to acknowledge with thanks the courteous permission of the
Editors of the _Spectator_ and the _Standard_ to incorporate in this
volume the gist of various articles, notes, &c., which first appeared in
their pages. The author and publisher have also to express their thanks
to the Editors and Proprietors of the _Nuevo Mundo_ of Madrid for
permission to use the illustrations in this book, which are taken from
that periodical.

                                                           RAFAEL SHAW.


CHAP.                                                               PAGE

      INTRODUCTION                                                    13

   I. RACIAL AND CLASS DISTINCTIONS                                   23

  II. THE RELIGION OF THE PEOPLE                                      39

 III. MORALITY AND CEREMONIAL                                         61

  IV. THE CONFESSIONAL, AND CHURCH ABUSES                             73

   V. THE POOR AND THE RELIGIOUS ORDERS                               89

  VI. THE MONARCHY AND THE PEOPLE                                    111

 VII. THE REVIVAL OF CARLISM                                         133

VIII. THE CHURCH MILITANT                                            159

  IX. BARCELONA AND THE LAY SCHOOLS                                  181

   X. THE ARMY, PAST AND PRESENT                                     199

  XI. THE POLICE                                                     215

 XII. POLITICS                                                       227

XIII. POLITICAL PARTIES                                              251

 XIV. EDUCATION                                                      263

  XV. TAXATION                                                       285

 XVI. THE PROCESS OF REGENERATION                                    303


      INDEX                                                          325


KING ALFONSO XIII. IN HIS STUDY IN MADRID                  _Frontispiece_

                                                             FACING PAGE

FACTORY GIRLS                                                         14

PEASANT WOMEN                                                         39

MUNDO_ IN MADRID                                                      61

THE QUEEN AND THE QUEEN-MOTHER OF SPAIN                              111

SEÑOR MAURA, LEADER OF THE ULTRAMONTANES                             149

DON JAIME OF BOURBON IN MOROCCO                                      153

ULTRAMONTANE MINISTRY                                                174

A CONSCRIPT                                                          199

THE WAR IN MELILLA. A FORT ON MOUNT GURUGU                           203

A RESERVIST AT THE FRONT                                             208


MELILLA                                                              244

ILLITERATE AUDIENCE                                                  263

SAFFRON PICKERS SORTING THEIR CROP                                   285

A SELLER OF PALM-LEAF BRUSHES AND FANS                               289


While a good deal has been written of late years about Spain from the
point of view put forward by the governing classes, little or nothing
has been said about the people--the mass of the nation--who, unable, the
immense majority of them, to read or write, are more inarticulate than
their fellows in any country of Europe west of Russia, but who have,
nevertheless, very definite aspirations and ideals, entirely distinct
from those of their rulers, at whose hands, disheartened as they are by
long years of misgovernment, they have almost abandoned any hope of
amelioration of their lot.

Circumstances have afforded the writer opportunities of seeing a great
deal of the inner life of the people, and of learning what are the
grievances, the aspirations, and the desires of the Spanish working
classes, gathered from conversation with them, and from years of close
personal observation.

Generalisations about an entire nation are usually of doubtful value;
still, it is safe to say that the Spaniard of the working classes is not
the turbulent rascal he is so often depicted, who in the intervals of
_pronunciamentos_ and civil wars occupies his leisure moments in
“holding up” the wayfarer with a blunderbuss. On the contrary, he is a
quiet, industrious, law-abiding citizen, whose chief desire is to be
left to go about his business and make a living for himself and his
family. If he has to fight he fights well, for he does not lack courage,
and he has often been compelled to fight for causes in which he takes no
interest, as the alternative to losing the employment which stands
between him and starvation. But he does not want to fight, because he is
convinced that all Spain’s wars, whatever their ostensible object, are
arranged by his “betters” to put money into their own pockets,
regardless of the true interests of the nation. You may talk as you will
about the wealth, health, and happiness that might be obtained, say, in
Melilla, should it become a well-administered colony of Spain. The
Spanish working man has an invariable reply to all such suggestions. He
says: “That might be so under other Governments, but not under ours.
Look at Cuba!”

Emigration goes on to an extent which causes the gravest apprehension to
those who have

[Illustration: FACTORY GIRLS.

[To face page 14.]

their country’s good at heart, and the reason is that owing to the
continual increase in taxation, the Spanish labourer cannot make a
living at home. Of all the taxes which crush him, the most oppressive is
the _consumo_, or octroi. Little is heard of this outside Spain, because
those who profit by it have every reason to keep silence, while those
who suffer have not hitherto dared to raise their voice against the
powerful interests which profit by the system. Any statesman who could
abolish this iniquitous tax would gain thereby an amount of popular
support to which ministers of the Crown in Spain have long been
strangers. But he would have to contend with an organised opposition in
the monied classes which would be hard to overcome, and hitherto,
although the reform is constantly talked of, little or nothing has been
done to bring it about.

Next to bread the chief desire of the Spaniard is education for his
children. He is thoroughly conscious of the disadvantages of his own
ignorance, which he bitterly resents, and the blame for which he lays at
the door of the Church. The Inquisition is not forgotten, and if there
is no priest or “pious” person within sight, an interested listener may
hear strange tales told in explanation of the popular detestation of the
religious Orders. Some of these tales are no doubt traditional, handed
down from the time when the Holy Office was an ever-present terror. It
is not easy for more advanced nations to realise the influence of
tradition among a people necessarily dependent on oral teaching for
everything they know, or the extent to which it colours their thoughts
and affects their actions in every direction. Although the working
classes in Spain are of course aware that the Inquisition no longer
exists, the effects of the nightmare of three hundred years continue,
and the fear and hatred with which that tribunal was regarded are now
transferred to the priests, and especially the Religious Orders. The
Church has ruled in Spain, with one short interval, ever since Isabella
and Torquemada revived the Holy Office, and, like all autocracies, it
has come to look upon the nation over which it rules as a tool to be
used for its own ends, an insentient thing, a mere machine to be driven
hither and thither as the interests of the Church dictate.

And now the inevitable is happening. The machine has become sentient,
and instead of submitting to be driven it is beginning to take its own
course and carry its quondam drivers into regions unknown.

The crucial question to-day in Spain is the religious question. Not the
belief or disbelief of the people in their religion, but the relations
of the Church--_i.e._, that of the priests and, far more, of the
Religious Orders--to the nation.

From tradition and from the circumstances of their lives, the mass of
the people have come to look upon the Religious Orders as their evil
genius, and at every turn one meets with evidences of their distrust of
and hostility to those who should be their spiritual guides. Until July,
1909, this feeling, although for long past there have been clear
indications of it, was not openly expressed by the people in public
places. They not only hated the “good fathers,” as they satirically call
them, but dreaded their vengeance upon those who offended them. Since
the rising against the Religious Orders in Cataluña, however, the
attitude of the two parties towards each other has been reversed. It is
now the priests and the Religious Orders who are afraid. So little do
they understand the people whom they are supposed to teach, that they go
in fear of their lives lest the working classes should rise _en masse_
against them; whereas the working classes _en masse_ desire nothing
better than a peaceable solution which shall ensure their daily bread to
them and their children.

On every side the people see the baneful hand of the Church, interfering
or trying to interfere in their domestic life, ordering the conditions
of employment, draining them of their hard-won livelihood by trusts and
monopolies established and maintained in the interests of the Religious
Orders, placing obstacles in the way of their children’s education,
hindering them in the exercise of their constitutional rights, and
deliberately ruining those of them who are bold enough to run counter to
priestly dictation. Riots suddenly break out in Barcelona: they are
instigated by the Jesuits. The country goes to war in Morocco: it is
dragged into it solely in defence of the mines owned, actually if not
ostensibly, by the Jesuits. The _consumos_ cannot be abolished, because
the Jesuits are financially interested in their continuance, and so
forth. Rightly or wrongly, the people attribute all the ills under which
they suffer to the influence of the Church, and sooner or later, unless
measures are taken to restrain the interference of the Church in public
and private life, an explosion will come which will sweep the whole
institution away. Moreover, the steady and continuous efforts made by
the Church to upset the existing regime and bring back a reign of
absolutism with the proscribed branch of the House of Bourbon, though
not continually present in the minds of the people, are not unknown to
or ignored by them.

But with all this intensely anti-clerical feeling, the mass of the
people are untouched by modern scepticism, and are deeply and sincerely
religious. Their religion is simple in the extreme: many would call it
gross superstition, but such as it is, it suits their stage of
intellectual development and undoubtedly has a considerable effect on
their conduct. To represent the Spanish working man--as the Church
newspapers always do--as an atheist and an anarchist, only to be
restrained by force from overthrowing the social order, merely proves
how completely ignorant the Clericalists are of his real character.




The relations between rich and poor, between rulers and ruled, between
employers and employed, in Spain are peculiar and not easy to

The immediate dependents of a well-to-do family are allowed a freedom of
manner and intercourse which is incomprehensible to English
exclusiveness, and a sense of responsibility for their dependents, and
especially for those who have rendered long domestic service, is almost
universal among employers. Thus there is hardly a family of means that
does not, as a matter of course, support for the rest of their lives one
or more of the wet-nurses who brought up the children; and during the
famine in Andalusia a few years ago, most, if not all, of the landowners
continued to pay, to the limit of their means, the wages of their
permanent labourers, although owing to the drought no field work could
be done for months. But with all this very real generosity towards
those with whom they are brought in contact, the rich have no corporate
or class sense of responsibility for the working classes, and make no
effort to understand or provide for their needs as a whole. Spaniards
are liberal in alms-giving, and every good Catholic gives doles on one
day of the week to his or her regular pensioners; but there is no public
provision for the destitute, and it is not in the least realised that an
organised system of poor relief would be less costly, and certainly far
less demoralising, than the haphazard distribution of pence to all and
sundry. It is true that in some towns benevolent societies are carrying
on good work according to their means, but these, consisting only of
voluntary gifts, are not sufficient to do more than touch the fringe of
the poverty produced by the conditions of the country.

The original causes of this combination of an almost patriarchal
relation between the master and his immediate dependents, and complete
ignorance of and indifference to the lot of those outside of the home or
estate, lie deep, and must be sought in the relations between Christians
and Moslems when the Castilians re-conquered Spain. It must be
remembered that the Arabs had brought agriculture and many industries
to a high state of perfection, and after the conquest they continued to
cultivate the land and work at their manufactures for the benefit of
their conquerors. Thus for some hundreds of years the dominant was
living with the subject race, and the conquerors would feel for the
conquered the contempt of the fighting man for the labourer, of the
Western for the Oriental, of the victor for the vanquished, and of the
Christian for the infidel. It is easy to see that when the mass of the
industrial population was of alien race, any idea of responsibility on
the part of the employers for the employed as a class would be unlikely
to arise, while on the other hand the personal relation between master
and servant would become intimate, as it did in the Southern States of
America in the slave-holding days, and as it is in the East to-day. This
accounts for the relation between rich and poor already remarked on:
liberal protection of immediate dependents, coupled with indifference to
the general welfare of the working classes. The tradition, handed down
from the time when the bulk of the proletariat were aliens, has
persisted for two hundred years after the last of the Moslem inhabitants
was expelled.[1]

A right understanding both of the past history of Spain and of its
social and political condition to-day is made still more difficult by
the claim made by Castile, with Madrid as the capital, to speak for
Spain as a whole. Most histories of Spain are written from the Castilian
point of view, and foreign writers naturally go to the capital in search
of their material. But this procedure leaves out of sight the very
important distinctions between the different parts of Spain, and
especially those between the Castilian and the Aragonese of the centre
and north, and the Andalusian, Valencian, and Murcian of the south.
Setting aside Cataluña and the Basque Provinces, with a population in
round numbers of 2,500,000, the rest of Spain north of the Sierra Morena
has a population of 9,000,000, while the three ancient southern
kingdoms, Valencia, Murcia, and Andalusia, have between them a
population of 6,000,000. The distinctive characteristics of these
provinces, which contain about a third of the total inhabitants of the
country, are left unnoticed by Castilian writers and those who follow
them, or, if the southerners are mentioned at all, it is usually with
some expression of contempt. This applies especially to the Andalusian,
who is always spoken of as lazy and incompetent, without ambition,
content to sit in the sun and smoke a cigarette, a windbag who talks
everlastingly and does nothing, and generally a negligible quantity in
Spanish politics, and a person unworthy of serious consideration in

The ingrained orientalism of the south is at the root of the hostility
with which it is regarded by Castile and the north. Andalusia and
Valencia were under Moslem rule for some 500 years--Granada for nearly
750--and this long occupation and colonisation has left an indelible
impress on the race, language, customs, and modes of thought of the
south. On the other hand, the Arab invasion of the north was soon driven
back beyond the Sierra de Guadarrama, and even in New Castile and
Estremadura, north of the Guadiana, their occupation was more in the
nature of a military tenure than a colonisation, and, such as it was,
came to an end 160 years before the Christians were able to win any
footing in the southern provinces. There is, therefore, comparatively
little Eastern blood in the veins of the Castilian, while in those of
the southerner the Arabic strain is at least as strong as the European.

How little sympathy exists between Castile and Andalusia may be judged
from the following facts: In 1904 the south-west of Spain was afflicted
by ten months of drought, causing the worst famine known for many
years. Men literally died of starvation by the roadside, and the
suffering among women and children was something terrible. No national
or combined effort was attempted for the relief of the distress, which,
indeed, the Clericalist organs of Madrid minimised and almost mocked at,
saying that “every one knew that the Andalusians were all farmers, and
farmers would grumble whatever the weather was.” On the other hand, when
comparatively small districts in Castile, Leon, and Galicia suffered
from floods in 1910, over 100,000 pesetas were collected by voluntary
subscription within a week.

It must be remembered that, while the reconquest of the whole of Spain
except the Kingdom of Granada was completed by the middle of the
thirteenth century, there was no large exodus of the Moslem inhabitants
until their expulsion in 1609,[2] and that, until Isabella’s religious
fervour made things unpleasant for them, they lived side by side with
their Spanish conquerors, and were, on the whole, not badly treated
until the persecution and expulsion ordered by Philip III. Indeed, all
the evidence goes to show that a steady amalgamation of the races went
on, with so much intermarriage, that in some parts of the country there
is hardly a family without Eastern blood in its veins. But necessarily
and naturally the conquered race gradually fell more and more into the
position of servants and slaves.

Although the great preponderance of the Arabs and Moriscos was in the
south, numbers of them were scattered over other parts of Spain, even so
late as the beginning of the sixteenth century, which accounts for the
position of the working classes elsewhere being much on a par, so far as
their employers’ view of them is concerned, with that of their fellows
in the south.

Thus Spain is now divided into two unconsciously hostile camps, with an
ingrained tradition of racial and religious hostility at the root of
their antagonism, which is a fatal obstacle to mutual understanding. The
Spanish labourer has replaced his predecessor of alien race, but the
tradition of contempt and indifference remains, and the employer--and
especially the employer who is “addicted to the priests”--still regards
him, as his predecessor regarded his Moslem servant, as a hewer of wood
and drawer of water, whose duty is to pay his taxes, and to use the
suffrage nominally bestowed on him by the Constitution in the interests
of his master. The working classes, if we are to believe the assertions
of their “superiors,” are a godless lot with anarchical leanings, whose
vandalistic tendencies have to be suppressed with a strong hand lest
they break out to the total subversion of society. But ask a peasant
about his politics, and he will say that all he wants is a sufficient
wage to provide for his family and a decent education for his children,
and he will add that he has no hope that any political party will help
him to realise this modest ambition, or do anything whatever for him,
because “all Governments, whatever they call themselves, are of one
kidney, and care for nothing but pocketing the public funds, and
pleasing the Religious Orders; the Conservatives because they love them,
and the Liberals because they fear them, and both because the Jesuits
are the richest people in Spain.”

The patient submission of the labourer to conditions which he believes
to be unalterable is partly the result of three hundred years of corrupt
government, during which he has been steadily squeezed to provide money
for the wars, luxuries, and amusements of the governing classes; partly
of the terror of the Inquisition and the tradition of silence that it
has left behind it; partly of Oriental fatalism; but is certainly not
due to the animal indifference and stupidity to which his “betters”
attribute it. The peasant refrains from open complaint, not because he
is contented and has nothing to complain of, but because long experience
has taught him the uselessness and the danger of protest. He may offend
his employer and lose his place, or, still worse, he may offend the
Church and the Jesuits, in which case he will be a marked man, and can
never hope to get permanent employment again.

Here is a paragraph which appeared in a leading Clericalist organ on
December 1, 1909:

     “Canovas and Sagasta attracted to the Monarchy the most
     aristocratic elements of the Carlist and Republican masses, through
     the mediation of Pidal and Castelar. Señor Moret (leader of the
     Liberal-Monarchist party) does not act in this way. Instead of
     considering the honourable people he considers the masses, the
     elements which bring about disturbances of the social order.”

This summarises in a few words the attitude which has always been
maintained by the Church, and the aristocracy attached to the Church,
towards the democracy. The people must be restrained from making their
voice heard in the counsels of the nation, although they have nominally
possessed the suffrage for some forty years, because, if the masses are
given the free use of the vote, they will disturb a social order
maintained exclusively in the interests of the classes. Such sentiments
were common in France before 1789, but one hardly expects to find them
so badly expressed in the twentieth century.

The upper classes in Spain are in the majority thoroughly materialised.
Their object in life is simple--wealth and power, with all that they
bring in their train, often without too nice a regard for the means
whereby those ambitions are realised. Their religion consists in a
diligent observance of the ordinances of the Church, and submission to
the dictates of the priesthood.[3] Of any higher ideals--of any
amelioration in the general lot of the poor, of any improvement in the
deplorably backward state of education, of any attempt to raise the low
moral tone which prevails in their own class, little or nothing is ever
heard. There is, however, an increasing number of educated young men who
are doing what lies in their power to promote a better state of things.
They have to contend, not only against the active hostility of the
clericals, but against the dead weight of middle-class apathy and
ignorance, and in consequence their labour is as that of Sisyphus. Yet
they patiently struggle on against all discouragements, and their circle
of influence is widening every year.

But while the upper-class Spaniard is intent on the pursuit of wealth
and indifferent to higher things, the peasant has an ideal which he has
set before him, and for which he makes every effort in his power,
against obstacles which anywhere but in Spain would be inconceivable.
And that ideal, as has been said, is some sort of education for his
children, whom he does not wish to be handicapped, as he has been, by
inability to read and write. If he can only pay for the schooling of one
child, that child has to share his knowledge with the rest of the
family, reading to them all he can get to read, and sometimes even
passing on the little instruction he has received, and teaching his
parents and brothers and sisters their letters at night, after the
day’s work is done.[4] And his chosen reading is not the republican, or
socialist, or anarchical stuff against which the Church inveighs with
theological fervour as the mental pabulum beloved of the masses, but
certain papers with moderate Liberal views, which preach education and
loyalty to existing institutions as the best hope for the country. These
papers point out that any upheaval of the social order, with its
necessarily attendant paralysis of trade and agriculture, can only
result in making the hard lot of the labourer harder still; and the
peasant, whom his masters take to be indifferent and half brutal, has
the sense to see the wisdom of this teaching and to be guided by it.
That the Ultramontane party should maintain, as they do, that every
disturbance that may occur in Spain is the fruit of the working man’s
attachment to seditious and anti-religious literature, is only another
proof of their determination to misrepresent or slander him. Had this
been the case, no measures of repression would have saved Spain, in July
1909, from an outburst of rage against the Religious Orders all over the
country. That the fires lighted in Barcelona did not spread was not due
to the suspension of the Constitution or to any terrorism exercised by
the priest-ridden Government of Señor Maura. The people were kept in
bounds by the influence of their chosen organ, the _Liberal_, which
costs less than a farthing and has the largest circulation of any paper
in Spain. And this paper, like the others of its party and all the best
of the Radical and Republican Press, throughout all the turmoil of the
three months before the Maura Ministry fell, steadily urged the people
to have patience, keep the peace, and show by their actions that they
were worthy of liberty.


[Illustration: PEASANT WOMEN.

[To face page 39.]



If you ask upper-class Spaniards, priestly or lay, about the religion of
the people of Spain, you will be told that half the nation are bigots
and the other half free-thinkers and atheists, or at best indifferent
Laodiceans: a sweeping assertion that has so often been made that it has
become a commonplace with foreign journalists and magazine writers.

To accuse the nation at large of bigotry, atheism, or indifferentism, is
nevertheless as unjust as to accuse the army of cowardice. Small though
is the attendance of the working classes at Mass, and hostile though
they are to the practice of confession, they are none the less deeply
religious--firm believers in the efficacy of prayer, and loyal to the
fundamental tenets of their faith, such as dependence on the will of
God, gratitude for small mercies vouchsafed by a good Providence, and
devotion to the Virgin and the saints.

In the middle class there is, no doubt, a good deal of rather shallow
free-thinking, although it usually goes little beyond a scoff at
superstition and contempt for miracles and images, and is confined to
the men. The women usually follow in their mothers’ footsteps, attend
Mass, run through the rosary, and thoroughly enjoy the processions which
enliven so many Church festivals. Confession, however, is perfunctory
even among middle-class women, and the poor avoid it altogether. For
strict observance of the ordinances and for material support of the
Church you must go to women of higher social position, ladies of title
and the wives of rich men, whose political relations keep them hand in
hand with the priests and the Religious Orders. They are the bulwark of
the Church in Spain. Indeed, it is often said that if all the ladies of
the aristocracy could be locked up for a few years, the Church of Spain
would go to pieces, so little real hold has it on any other element in
the national life.

These ladies attend Mass every day and confess with great regularity.
They consider it the highest privilege to be “wardrobe keepers” for the
_santos_ (saints-images) in their favourite churches; they dress and
undress the image of the Virgin with their own hands for festivals, and
they keep in their own houses the jewels and other treasures belonging
to her. In some cases they also look after the vestments of the priests
and take charge of the altar linen. And they give or bequeath large
fortunes to different monasteries and convents, and to religious houses
built to receive orphans and old people, repentant Magdalens, and girls
in training for domestic service. But no one is admitted to institutions
supported by ladies of devout life save on condition of daily attendance
at Mass and regular confession and communion. And therefore the people
say that such charity is not dictated by love for their poorer brethren,
but is merely given in order to prop up a decadent Church, and many will
starve rather than ask for it.

The people have a word of contempt for the religious principles of women
such as these. They call them _beata_, which according to the dictionary
means “devout,” but which the poor translate as “canting.” There is a
world of difference to them between the lady who is _religiosa_
(religious) and the one who is _beata_. _Religiosa_ is applied to a
woman who devotes her life to God and works for the sake of doing good;
_beata_ means one who lives, moves, and has her being under the thumb of
the priests and the Religious Orders.

The poor say that unless they are prepared to attend Mass and confess
regularly, they can expect nothing from women, however rich, who are
known to be _beatas_. For alms given unquestioningly and without
insistence on previous compliance with the rules of the Church, the sick
and needy turn by preference either to persons recognised as “religious”
or to those who “have nothing to do with those follies.” That is how the
practice of confession is characterised by the democracy in the privacy
of their own homes. They dread and distrust the confessors, and no poor
man or woman will speak freely in the presence of one of their own class
who is in the habit of confessing.

Yet notwithstanding their antagonism to this primary dogma of their
religion, the working classes, and especially the peasantry, are, as
already stated, deeply and sincerely devout, and firmly uphold the
Christian faith as they understand it.

One of the most remarkable features in the spiritual life of the nation
is the clear comprehension of even the least educated among them that
the sins of the priests and the Religious Orders stand apart from and
leave unsmirched the national religion.

“What have I to do with those people?” said a young fisherman to the
writer. “Confess to a priest? Never! I confess to God and my mother, and
I want no priest to come between me and my God.”

“I? Confess to a priest? What for? Every night when I go to bed I
confess my sins to the Virgin, and I can die as well after that as if I
had received the holy oils,” said an old woman of deep and sincere

“I do not allow my wife to go to confession,” said a master mason. “If
she insisted I should refuse to provide for her. I will have no traffic
with the gentry of the long skirts in _my_ family.”

“No, I did not call in a priest when my husband was dying. He would have
died all the sooner if I had, he hated them so. We poor people never
call the priest if we can help it. We say ‘death gave us no time.’ The
priests pretend to believe it; they are glad enough to be saved the
trouble of coming to our houses because, if we send for them, they have
to give the holy oils gratis. And we get buried all the same,” said a
young widow who had lost husband and child within three months of each

“And you are not afraid the dead will stay longer in purgatory if they
die without the holy oils?” I have frequently asked on hearing such

“Why should they? My brother, may his soul rest in peace! was a good
man. God will look after him without any priest putting in his oar. Yes,
it is true that the priests talk of purgatory, but for my part I have
never well understood what it is, and I do not care. I say a prayer for
my dead on All Souls’ Day, and there is an end of it. There may be
purgatory, God knows. But certainly I will not pay money to a priest on
that account. I want it more than he does.”

The popular idea of purgatory is very confused, and many declare that
they do not believe in it, while betraying in every word that they pray
heartily for the souls that they assume to be there.

“Do you think I could believe that my brother or my mother are in
purgatory, or that _I_ shall go there, I, who would give the clothes off
my back to the poor?”

You cannot pay a greater compliment to a sceptic of this kind than to
say: “By your good deed of this or that kind you have certainly taken a
soul (or two souls) out of purgatory to-day.” “Taking souls out of
purgatory” is a favourite occupation. It is effected by prayer or by
good works, not necessarily, so far as the popular belief can be
understood, by both practices together.

“There are always seven souls clinging to the cloak of the Virgin--not
the Virgin on any altar, but the real Virgin in heaven. They are all
climbing up, one above the other, and by prayers or good works you can
help the uppermost to get out and make room for the next.”

“And where do they go then?”

“I don’t know. To heaven, I suppose. Purgatory is not a very bad place
to be in, it is pretty fair. The wicked people go to the _Tinieblas_
[tenebræ]. I do not know what that is, but it is very bad. It is always
well to say a prayer for those in _Tinieblas_.”

“But do you suppose that any of _your_ friends are there?”

“No, indeed; but you never know who may be clinging to the robe of the
Virgin, and some one belonging to you might just be climbing up. At
least, nothing is lost by saying a prayer.”

“If the souls in the _Tinieblas_ are allowed to cling to the Virgin, I
suppose she also is there?”

“How do I know? Perhaps these are all lies--things of priests
[_mentiras, cosas de sacerdotes_]. What does it matter? What is needful
is to share your _puchero_[5] with any poor man who is hungrier than
you, and God knows I do that.”

The custom of attending a Mass for the dead on All Souls’ Day is very
general. There are thousands of men and women who never set foot in a
church during the rest of the year, yet rise an hour earlier than usual
to go to Mass before beginning their work on November 2nd. But the
proportion of communicants even on this occasion is very small. I have
counted the congregations present at churches attended by the working
and the lower middle classes on All Souls’ Day. At one early Mass, out
of forty present, four communicated; at another, two out of thirteen;
and so on. Communion involves previous confession, and the poor will not
confess. Nevertheless, their faces show that this Mass is not a mere
empty form to them. They do not, of course, understand a syllable of the
words the priest mutters at the altar, but they are absorbed in earnest
intercession for the dead whom they are commemorating. Then they go
their way to take up the round of work, and probably do not attend
another Mass until All Souls’ Day comes round again, while the rich
celebrate the “Day of the Dead” by paying for and attending frequent
Masses, and by taking or sending wreaths of flowers to adorn the graves
of relatives in the distant cemetery.

Curiously enough, infant baptism bulks far larger in the religion of the
poor than any other office of the Church, and the parents, and
especially the mother, will make heavy sacrifices to obtain the fee
demanded for the performance of this rite. The ceremony itself has some
singular features, for the mother must on no account be present, and
even the father remains in the background. But the social function which
follows the ceremony in the Church is almost as important an event in
the family life as a wedding, and the festivities are kept up far into
the night. It may seem fanciful to trace these baptismal customs back to
the time of Islam, but it is a fact that the accounts of the
birth-feasts (_buenas fadas_) among the Moslems of Spain offer certain
resemblances to those of to-day, while the term used to describe an
unbaptized child among the peasantry links us directly to the time when
to be a follower of the Prophet was to be an object of contumely. The
explanation of the efforts made by the family and friends of a child of
poor parents to scrape together the 7.50 pesetas demanded by the priest
for the performance of the baptismal office is: “I could not leave him a
Moor” (_No podia dejarle Moro_).

Burial often takes place without the offices of the Church, for there
are few among the working classes who can afford to pay for a funeral
Mass, and very many are unaware that they can insist upon the attendance
of a priest even without a fee. And since the charge for a marriage in
church amounts in many parishes to as much as 25 pesetas--the average
weekly wage of the agricultural labourer certainly not exceeding half
that sum--it is only to be expected that the civil ceremony, which costs
one peseta, or the stolen “blessing” snatched from an unwilling priest
by the pair proclaiming themselves man and wife at the close of any
Mass, should be more frequently resorted to than the orthodox function.
Many couples, moreover, live all their lives as husband and wife, as
faithfully as if married by the Church or the mayor, without any
religious or legal tie at all.

“The women don’t like it,” said a working man to the writer, “but what
is one to do? How can we pay twenty-five pesetas to get married? And the
women are only now beginning to understand that the civil marriage is
quite as good as the other, if there is any question of money to be
left to the children. I could show you plenty among my neighbours who
live as if married, and no one takes notice that they are not. The
priests only say such couples are living in sin because they have not
got the marriage fee out of them.”

“It is true that my daughter-in-law could leave my son if she liked,”
said an old woman when discussing a quarrel between her hot-tempered son
and his hotter-tempered “wife.” “There was no money for the marriage, so
I consented to their marrying without going to church. They will never
separate: it does not occur to them that it would be possible. It is not
as if they were not faithful to each other. My son does not look at
other women, and as for my daughter-in-law (_mi nuera_), he would kill
her if she set her eyes on another man, and well she knows it. There is
no sin in marriages like that, whatever the priests may say about it. Of
course I would have preferred that they should be married in church, and
so would my daughter-in-law, but what are you to do when there is no

The use of the term _nuera_ here is significant. No social stigma
attaches to these “wives” who are no wives at all, unless they leave one
man to go to another. Then they are branded as “women of bad repute” by
their neighbours, and shunned accordingly.

Thus the religion of the people seems to be entirely dissociated from
the forms imposed by the Church upon its members, save only that of
baptism, which is respected mainly owing to an unconscious traditional
antipathy to the unbaptized;--the “Moor” or Moslem, of bygone days--and
an almost complete indifference to the rites of marriage and death has
sprung up as a consequence of inability to pay the fees demanded for
their performance. In the towns perhaps few really care if their dead
are buried without a prayer, but in the villages there still remains
enough feeling about it to arouse an occasional growl of indignation
when a coffin is borne through the streets attended only by the
mourners, without the priest, the acolytes, and the censer-bearers, who
lend distinction to the last journey of those who possess a few pesetas.
As for the children, who are born and die like flies, the poor have
become so accustomed to see the little coffins carried by on the
shoulders of small elder brothers or school friends, led by the father
or uncle of the dead child, that the piteous sight no longer calls forth
a comment. It is often only one out of half a dozen of the same family
who have gone the same way, and notwithstanding the heartbroken
lamentations of the mother when the breath leaves the little body, every
one knows she will soon be consoled. The lot of the poor is too hard for
indulgence in sorrow, and it is not uncommon to hear a woman who is
approaching childbirth say with the utmost unconcern, “We shall see what
happens. Perhaps it will please God to allow the infant to be born
dead.” It is not heartlessness or want of love for her offspring, for
Spanish parents of both sexes and of every class are very affectionate,
and indulge their children to excess. It is simply that every extra
mouth to feed means so much less to fill the stomachs of the rest, while
the national custom of suckling the child for at least a year, and often
for two renders the mother meanwhile weak and unfit for the washing,
sewing, or charing which helps out the family resources. That a great
effort should be made to baptize the new baby when it comes shows the
strength of the feeling in regard to this religious duty, and would make
the general indifference to the intervention of the Church in marriage
and death doubly remarkable, were it not that the tradition connected
with the first ceremony does not extend to the other two.

Among the upper classes more attention seems to be paid to the
religious funeral ceremony than to the actual committal to the grave.
When a death takes place in a family of social position, all the friends
and relatives are invited to attend the funeral Mass, which takes place
in the parish church of the defunct, and it is expected of the guests
that they shall accompany the funeral procession on foot as far as the
outskirts of the town or village, the cemetery generally being some
little distance beyond. There, however, the party disperse; few attend
the coffin to the grave itself, and very often it is shuffled into its
last resting-place with what to English eyes seems indecent haste and

Indeed, whatever be the reason, small respect is shown for the empty
shell, once the spirit of life has fled. The rich buy a freehold grave
for themselves and their family, but the poor can seldom afford to pay
for more than a six years’ concession, if that; and if they do not renew
payment the bones of their dead are disinterred and thrown on a heap in
the _osario_ or bone-house, a building with a locked door built for the
purpose within the walls of the cemetery.

The mental attitude of the people towards images is intricate and
difficult to disentangle. Even persons who have had what ought to be a
liberal education in many cases believe in the miraculous virtues of
the images, scapulars, and medals of their particular devotion.

“If you would only wear this medal,” a devout lady said to the writer,
“I know you would be converted to the true faith, for it is very
miraculous, and has converted many. But you would not wear it, so it is
useless to give it to you.”

The speaker was a woman of culture, artistic, and fairly well read for a
Spanish lady, yet she was obviously sincere in her belief in the virtues
of the little cast-lead medal washed over with silver.

Nor is this singular simplicity confined to women. Every year men of the
upper classes (never, I think, of the lower) may be seen during Holy
Week walking barefoot before the images carried in procession through
the streets; and since their faces are covered and there is nothing to
reveal their identity to the world at large, it cannot be supposed that
the act of penance is performed for political reasons, as,
unfortunately, is too often the case with public demonstrations of
adherence to the Church. Moreover, these processions are attended by men
of Liberal as well as Conservative opinions. That the particular image
plays an important part is shown by the fact that the act of penitence
is never performed save in connection with its appearance in the
streets. The penitent walks barefoot before or after the platform on
which is carried the Virgin of his adoration, and although it may be one
among fifty representations of the Virgin in his city, it is understood
that no other would have the same efficacy in cleansing his particular
sin. It must be a genuinely penitential experience for a man used to
luxury to tramp barefoot over badly paved streets at a rate of progress
which makes the two or three miles of distance occupy twice as many
hours of time, and sometimes these aristocratic penitents reach the end
of their journey in a state of complete exhaustion. But there does not
seem to be any sentiment of shame or disgrace attached to the act, as
though there were some great sin to purge, for it is not unusual to hear
a young man of orthodox proclivities say to a girl whom he meets in
society shortly before Holy Week: “You must look out for me at such a
place in the route of the procession; I am going in penitence and I will
lift my hood there for you to know it is I.” Yet, frivolous as such
penitence may appear, the rich man shares with his poor and ignorant
brother a personal feeling for the image of his devotion, which leads
him to disregard even danger to life in connection with it, should the
need arise. This is quite dramatically shown in the case of the fires
which frequently occur in churches and chapels, where lights burn
continually before images adorned with lace and other combustible
fabrics. The _santos_ are always the first thought of the crowd on these
occasions, and even men who scoff aloud at “all those fooleries” in
daily life will be seen risking personal injury to save “the Virgin of
Hope” or “Our Lady of Miracles” from destruction.

One very puzzling question in connection with this worship of the images
is how far even the better educated Spaniards recognise the fact that
the different images, _e.g._, of the Virgin--the Virgin of Sorrows, of
Miracles, of the Pillar, of the Kings, and hundreds more--are all
representations of one and the same Virgin Mary, and how far they
consider them to be distinct individuals. Probably the worshippers
themselves are not at all clear on the point: that the prayers offered
before these images are in most cases addressed, not to the Person
represented, but to the image itself, there seems little doubt. In the
case of the populace the images certainly seem to be distinct
individuals; indeed, I have been pitied more than once by kindly
peasants for having “only one Christ.” “_We_ have many: there is the
Christ of the Descent from the Cross, and the Christ of the Waters,
besides the Christ of the Flagellation in the Parish Church, all very

An intelligent man of middle age, better educated than most of his
class, said to me in reference to the affection of the Spanish peasants
for their images of the Virgin.

“You would be shocked if you could hear what we say to the Virgin in our
houses and when we see her in the streets. But it is not irreverence or
disrespect, as you would consider it. It is that we feel towards her as
one of the family and talk to her as we should to one of ourselves.”

The return of certain confraternities after carrying their images
through the streets in Holy Week presents an extraordinary spectacle.
This is especially the case with images belonging to the poorer
quarters. In one town the procession of one of these images returns
early on the morning of Easter Eve, after moving slowly through the
streets, from its church to the distant cathedral and back, all through
the night. The bearers of the platform, which is a great weight, the
members of the confraternity, the soldiers--for the Army always has a
place in these functions--and the band in attendance, are all worn out
with fatigue, but when they reach the threshold of the church they
revive, the band strikes up an animated march, and the whole crowd
assembled to do honour to “Our Lady” seem to go crazy with joy at having
brought her safely back to her “home” (_á su casa_). The richly dressed
life-sized image is lifted down from the platform by many eager hands,
and swayed to and fro in time to the music almost as if dancing, and the
whole atmosphere of the scene is that of a rejoicing welcome to a
beloved being who has returned to her family after a long absence
fraught with danger. Nothing brings home to the observer the intense
reality of the people’s feeling for their _santos_ like such a scene as
this. It is, however, seldom witnessed by foreigners or even by the
well-to-do of their own nation. It is so much a matter of course in
Spain that no one goes out of his way to see it, and I was present on
such an occasion only by the merest chance.

A bright, clever woman of the working classes, with a strong sense of
humour, told me that she could only pray to a certain Christ. “All the
others are only sticks (_palos_) to me. I can never pass our Lord of
Pity without kneeling down, and I know by the look in his eyes if he is
going to grant my prayer, but I cannot pray to any of the others.”

“Then when you pray to that image of Our Lord, it really is the Christ
to you?”

“No; the Christ is in heaven with His Mother, but I pray to our Lord of
Pity, and he always answers me. No other is the same. When I pass Our
Lord of the Miracles, for instance, in the Church of San José, I have to
say: ‘Excuse me, Lord, but you are only a stick to me, and I cannot pray
to you. I do not know why this should be so, Lord, but that is how I
find it.’” All this was said quite gravely, and the prayer addressed to
“Our Lord of Pity” was recited with sincere piety.

A good old widow of my acquaintance finds St. Anthony of Padua
particularly sympathetic, and feels constrained to pray for the soul of
her husband at 7 a.m. on All Souls’ Day before one particular St.
Anthony in one particular chapel at a quite inconvenient distance from
her home. On any other occasion the first St. Anthony of Padua she comes
across serves her purpose, and I once saw her stop short and break into
a fervent prayer under her breath at the sight of an abominable penny
chromo of the saint which suddenly attracted her attention in a shop



(At the offices of the _Nuevo Mundo_.)

[To face page 61.]



That it is a duty to speak the truth is a proposition practically
unrecognised in Spain. This is chiefly, if not entirely, due to the
influence of the Church, for, as a great historian says in reference to
this question, “when credulity is inculcated as a virtue, falsehood will
not long be stigmatised as a vice.”[6] I have heard the peasant’s creed
on this point put into a nutshell, thus:

“Very often it is necessary to lie, either for your own or for some one
else’s benefit. There is nothing wrong in that. But to tell an
unnecessary lie is a sin.”

This sophism, which I have translated word for word, seems altogether
too subtle to be instinctive, and we trace in it some echo of the
Church’s teaching, instilled into the mind of the uneducated, who have
come to adopt it as an axiom of common morality.

The honesty of the Spaniard is, according to our views, relative. It is
very rare for a working man or woman to take cash which does not belong
to him. But the same people--_e.g._, servants--who would consider it a
disgrace to steal a peseta in coin, will have no hesitation in
falsifying their accounts and cheating their employer out of ten or
twenty times that amount.

In certain matters there is extreme sensitiveness to any suspicion of
dishonesty, but it is not clear that any conscious religious principle
underlies this feeling. It seems rather an instinct of self-protection;
for when we learn that it is a common practice for employers to examine
their servants’ boxes when they leave a situation, even although their
good conduct has not been called into question, we see that the
friendliest relations between master and man do not necessarily imply
confidence in the honour of the latter. The result of assuming evil
where there is none is to encourage its genesis. I have heard
working-class Spaniards say bitterly: “The rich people believe that we
are all thieves, so what is the use of being honest? Yet most of us are
honest, even though we go hungry for being so.” Stealing is considered
by the poor as a sin, but I am inclined to think that the degree of
sinfulness depends in the criminal’s eyes upon the nature of the theft.
Thus, while no respectable peasant will steal money or clothes, servants
have no hesitation in appropriating sweets and wine, to which, indeed,
they think they have a right, very possibly dating from the time when
domesticated aliens were fed on the leavings of their masters’ table. It
would be difficult to convince them that to drink their employer’s wine
without permission is just as immoral as to steal his cash.

The instruction given by the Church on these points is hardly ambiguous,
if one may judge by a parish leaflet in my possession. It contains the
following questions of conscience resolved under the head of

     “May a servant give to the poor the food which remains over,
     without asking permission of her master?”

     “She may do so when her master does not make use of or dispose of

     “And may she give it to her poor relations?”

     “Without any doubt; but _it is better_ to consult her master”
     (italics mine).

Such moral teaching as this would quite account for the conduct of a
pious cook once in my employ, who fed her entire family for some time at
my expense. She, it is perhaps needless to say, did not “consult her
master” on the point. She may have consulted her priest, for all I know,
and if she did was probably told that it was a meritorious act to rob a

To turn to another branch of the subject, it will probably be news to
many people that a “Bull of the Crusade” is still largely sold in Spain.
This indulgence was first instituted in the days of the Moorish wars, to
permit those who were fighting the infidel to keep up their strength by
eating meat whenever they could get it. Few or none of the poor purchase
this or any other indulgence nowadays, but it is still freely sold to
people of means, and the day of its issue is kept as a minor feast day.
It now costs the modest sum of pesetas 1.75, having been gradually
reduced from pesetas 7.50, and is a source of income to the Government,
producing, according to the Budget for 1909, 2,670,000 pesetas, or, say,
£106,800. Any one can obtain it, as no questions are asked as to the
religion of the purchaser.

An interesting survival is the penitential purple dress, with yellow
cord and tassels round the neck and waist, which is worn on occasion by
women of all classes in the rural districts, and by the poor in many
cities. It is not, generally speaking, a penance imposed by the priest,
but a free-will offering to the Virgin, made on behalf of some one dear
to the wearer. A woman will promise to wear the _hábito_ or penitential
robe for a specified number of months, or a year, or sometimes even for
life, if the Virgin will intercede for her invalid husband; or a girl
will undertake to wear nothing else until the dress is torn or worn past
repair, when the sacrifice is completed. A girl of seventeen explained
that she had volunteered to assume the _hábito_ she was wearing because
her only sister was very ill.

“But my sister got better and persuaded me to put it out of my head.
Then she suddenly became very ill again; all one night she seemed to be
dying, so I knew I must keep my promise to the Virgin, and after that I
would not let any of them put it out of my head.”

The Spaniards have two distinct ways of crossing themselves. One,
described by the verb _santiguar_, consists in making the sign of the
cross with the first and middle finger from the forehead to the breast
and from the left to the right shoulder, invoking the Trinity. The
other, called _signar_, consists in making, with the thumb and first
finger crossed, or with the thumb alone, the sign of the cross on the
forehead, mouth, and breast, praying God by the sign of our Redemption
to deliver us from our enemies. In some parts a third method is often
employed, which peasants will tell you “is from the times of the Moors.”
In this the nose is touched as well as the forehead and mouth, with the
thumb-nail, which is kissed at the end. The two forms are usually
combined (_persignarse_), and the invocation is divided as follows:

    By    the sign of the Holy    Cross    from our
    (forehead) (nose) (L. cheek) (R. cheek) (nose) (chin)

    enemies       deliver us       Lord.
    (L. cheek) (R. cheek)    (L. shoulder)    (R. shoulder)

    In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
       (breast)    (L. shoulder)    (R. shoulder)

    (thumb kissed).

A good Catholic, say the peasants, must _persignarse_ thirty-three times
in the course of the Mass, “and that would be very well if we understood
the language and knew why we were doing it.”

In the south people always take up a handful of water and cross
themselves before bathing in the sea or in a river, some even before
taking an ordinary bath at home. It will be remembered that the Moslem,
when preparing for prayer, washes his nose, mouth, and ears, as well as
his hands and feet, and possibly this elaborate mode of making the sign
of the cross may be a survival of the Moslem ceremonial of purification,
especially when combined with the water. One distinctly Islamic
tradition is seen in the custom of touching anything unclean, if it has
to be touched, with the left hand, the right being put behind the back.
A woman of Andalusia when washing the dead for burial always begins
operations with the left hand, just as the Moslem does, and will not use
the right until it becomes necessary. Thus it is not impossible that the
curious sign of the cross described, like the traditional reason for
insistence on infant baptism, even when the other offices of the Church
are viewed with indifference, may be connected more or less closely, as
the peasants say, with Mohammedan practices.

In the south and west the peasants never put on clean underlinen without
the _persignar_, and previous to the crossing they recite the following

“Blessed and washed be the most holy Sacrament of the Altar, pure and
clean, of the always Virgin Mary, Our Lady, conceived without spot of
original sin from the first instant of her most pure human nature.

No matter how great their aversion from the Confessional and
indifference to the offices of the Church, the most careless never omit
this invocation when they change their underclothes.

Another prayer, which is universal, reminds one of the--

    “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
     Bless the bed that I lie on”

of our own peasantry in bygone days. It runs thus:

    “_Con Dios me acuesto,
     Con Dios me levanto,
     Con la Virgen Maria,
     Y el Espíritu Santo_.”

(“With God I lie down, with God I arise, with the Virgin
Mary, and the Holy Ghost.”)

As will be observed, the Virgin here takes the place of Christ in the
Trinity. I have inquired of a number of people how the verse goes, and
find it does not vary. They say that evil would befall them if they
failed to recite the lines every morning and night.

The Radicals, Republicans, and Socialists, who are all branded alike as
atheists by the Ultramontanes, understand the people’s faith better than
their priests do. The cry of the Church is that the nation is
indifferent to all things holy. But men like Melquiades Alvarez, the
novelist Galdos, Sol y Ortega, and many other leaders of the Lefts,
continually explain that the national quarrel is only with the priests
and the Religious Orders, not with the Church as an institution, for
they recognise and proclaim that religion is an essential part of
Spanish national life.

There is, indeed, no room for doubt that the mass of the people love
God, Christ, the Virgin, and the saints with a warmth and sincerity rare
in these materialistic days. His God is a living God to the peasant of
Spain, his Virgin a mother always prepared to protect him, her image and
those of the saints the most beautiful things in the world to his
unsophisticated eyes. This may seem to the enfranchised intellect a
degrading superstition. But the fact remains that the religion of the
working classes of Spain in the mass does what many a more advanced
creed cannot do, for it carries conviction and comfort to its




Something must now be said about the way in which the people refer to
the confessional, and this I will endeavour to do in their own words,
premising that I offer no opinion as to the truth or falsehood of their
stories, most of which have been told me by women. The abuse of the
confessional is such a heinous sin that Catholics of other nations will
not believe what is currently said as to its prevalence in Spain; they
hold that such things are impossible, and it is to be hoped, for the
sake of the Church, that prejudice distorts the popular view, and that
what the working classes in town and country assert to be of frequent
occurrence does not in fact take place. But whatever be the actual
truth, it is impossible to doubt that the people are convinced that the
confessional is habitually abused, and this conviction--which nothing
can shake--constitutes a peril which must ultimately endanger the very
existence of the Church in this country.

When first I was told, several years ago, that the secrets of the
confessional were betrayed, as a matter of course, in the interests of
the rich as against the poor, I flatly said that I did not believe it.
The thing was unthinkable to one brought up in the belief that such
secrets were inviolate. I was given actual instances of domestic
servants sent to confession “so that the mistress might learn from the
priest what the maid had been doing wrong.” As my informant was a young
foreigner, born and bred a Catholic, in the employment of a family of
title, and with a somewhat limited knowledge of Spanish, I found it
easier to assume that he had misunderstood what was said in his presence
than to believe that he had accurately repeated his employer’s words,
although he declared that the above remark had been made in his hearing
on several occasions. It should be said that he was in a house noted for
its clerical leanings.

A similar assertion was made to a member of my family by the daughter of
a professional man, better educated than most of her class, and touched
with the superficial scepticism prevalent among clever young Spaniards,
whose hatred of the priests and the Religious Orders tends to alienate
them altogether from the religion in which they were brought up. In this
instance I attributed the accusation to prejudice, and attached no more
importance to it than to the young man’s story. And as it is not a
matter that can be discussed with practising Catholics, the two
mentioned, and one other, who confirmed their statements, are the only
educated persons whose opinions I can quote.

But among the poor this offence is spoken of freely, and they accuse the
priests, not only of betraying their trust by repeating what is told
them under the seal of the confessional, but also of using the
opportunities it offers to ruin young and foolish women who obey the
Church’s order to confess with frequency. Indeed, many working men have
gravely assured me that such is their distrust of the priests that
nothing would induce them to allow their women-folk to go to confession
on any pretence whatever.

The following are some among many stories of this kind, which I give as
they were told me, only omitting the expressions of anger with which
some of them were punctuated:

     “I was laundress in a priest’s house for several years. His sister
     lived with him, and she really was his sister, for a wonder; not
     the sort they generally call their ‘sisters.’ They also kept a
     young girl to help in the house, for the priest was well off. One
     day my fellow-servant committed a sin, for the devil tempted her to
     steal a ring belonging to the Señora. But she could not rest happy
     with it, and at last she went to a priest and confessed that she
     had stolen it, and asked what she should do. He told her to put it
     back, and gave her a penance. So she put it back. And the priest
     went and told her mistress, and she sent the girl to prison.”

     “There are several maidservants in the house of Doña Dolores, and
     one of them goes to confession frequently. The others all have to
     be very careful what they say before her, for the priest repeats it
     all to Doña Dolores, and then it is ‘into the street’ with those
     who have done anything silly or wrong in the kitchen or elsewhere.”

A friend of mine--a foreigner--was begged by her servants not to engage
an attractive-looking housemaid from one of the convent training schools
who applied for a situation. “She will repeat everything that is done in
the house to her priest, and he will make unpleasantness for you and us
too. That is done every day here. We who have not had the misfortune to
be brought up in a convent never, if we can help it, take a situation
where a convent-trained girl lives.”

     “Juan Cabrito was hung through the priest telling the authorities
     that he had confessed that he was a murderer. The priest went
     straight to the Governor and told him everything Cabrito had said.
     He well deserved hanging, and no one thought anything of the priest
     betraying his confession. We are quite used to that in Spain.”

     “I often used to be called in to help to wait in the evening in the
     house of a priest who had a _tertulia_ for priests every week. His
     niece kept house for him. I have often heard the priests laughing
     and joking about the confessions of the nuns. They would imitate
     their voices, speaking high up and whining: ‘Father, I lost my
     temper and spoke harshly to the dog or the cat to-day.’ ‘How
     tedious they are with their dogs and their cats and their tempers!’
     the priest who confessed the nuns would say, and then they all
     laughed together, very much amused. But it was wrong, for the
     priest is forbidden to repeat a confession. I am not very fond of
     the nuns myself, but I did not like to hear those coarse men
     [_nombres brutos_] making jokes about their penitence.”

     “It is many years since I have confessed. When I went to confess
     before my wedding the priest asked me a question which no man
     should put to a decent woman, so I never went again.”

     “In my last situation my mistress made me go to Mass with her every
     Sunday. I had to get up at five in the morning, so as to be back in
     time to do my work in the house. Every Sunday she asked me if I had
     confessed so that I might take the Communion, but I always told her
     I had not had time and would confess next time. I will not go to
     confession. I would rather lose my place.”

     “It is true that I am over seventy, and it is very hard to earn my
     bread and pay a penny a day for rent by picking up rags and rubbish
     for sale. I am ill too: I have never been well since my daughter
     ran away from me to live with a priest. But I do not wish to go
     into the Asylum of the ---- Sisters. They not only make the poor
     people there confess and communicate every day, but they make them
     work quite as hard as I am working now. And in my own place, though
     I may be hungry, at least I am not obliged to get up at six in the
     morning to go to Mass, and then carry firewood for the convent, as
     my poor old brother was.”

In another town in the diocese where the rag-picker lived, an old
acquaintance of mine thankfully accepted an opportunity I was able to
obtain for her, through friends, of entering an asylum for aged paupers,
managed by nuns under the supervision of the municipality. That town has
long been markedly Liberal in its politics, and possibly this may have
something to do with the more humane administration of the asylum. With
this instance in my mind I was surprised at the rag-picker’s rejection
of a similar refuge for her old age, but further inquiries convinced me
that the rule of the one convent was in truth very different from that
of the other.

     “Every one knows that Higuero was the son of the Bishop, and that
     was why they didn’t hang him. There was no doubt at all that he
     murdered his paramour: he was caught almost in the act. How upset
     the Bishop was! His son and his daughter married a brother and
     sister, and both turned out badly, very badly. The son--Higuero was
     his nickname--and the daughter’s husband--Pepita her name was--fell
     in love with the same woman, and that was the cause of the murder.
     If the Bishop had not used all his influence with the Government
     Higuero would not have escaped hanging. He was taken away to ----
     Prison, and no one ever heard of him again. Of course he was not
     really taken to prison, he was allowed to escape. How did we know
     he was the son of the Bishop? Very simply. His mother had been _ama
     de gobierno_ [housekeeper] in the Bishop’s house before he was made
     bishop. No, she was never married. She was well provided for, and
     the children had some education, but they were bad from the
     beginning. I lived for some years in the same tenement house with
     them. Many of the priests’ children turn out ill. What can be
     expected of the children of such bad men?”

These are a few out of hundreds of such stories told. _And the people
believe they are true._

Certain scandals, relating to the disappearance of valuable paintings
from one Spanish cathedral or another, are familiar to all who travel in
Spain. One such incident has always been a mystery to the outside world,
owing to the seeming impossibility of a thief getting access to the
picture in question, which was in a chapel in the cathedral, protected
by a heavy grille extending from floor to ceiling, the door of which was
always kept locked.

The following explanation was given by the widow of a former cathedral

     “I know quite well how it was done. The assistant-keeper of the
     keys was on duty that night, his superior having leave of absence
     because his daughter was ill. The priest in charge of the chapel
     made some excuse to take the keys from him that afternoon. Next day
     he and several others were sent to prison, accused of having been
     concerned in the theft. They were released in a week, for there was
     no evidence against them, and the proof is that not one of them
     lost his place. The priest soon after left the city. It was said
     that he had been promoted, but no one ever heard of him again.” The
     husband of the speaker was one of those accused.

A scandal which gave rise to a question in the Cortes was the
disappearance of two valuable pictures from the Cathedral of Toledo. It
appears that these pictures were in a chapel which had been built and
endowed in the seventeenth century by a certain family. Two or three
years ago their descendants claimed these pictures as their private
property, and entered into treaty to sell them to a “foreigner.” The
State intervened, declaring the whole contents of the cathedral to be
inviolate. Soon afterwards “it was found necessary to repair” the chapel
in question, and the pictures were taken down “for safe custody”
meanwhile. What happened after that has never been cleared up, but a
“foreigner” and a motor figure in the story, and the chapel is now
without the pictures. No steps were ever taken, so far as the public
could learn, to bring the matter home to any one.

That quantities of valuable old laces and embroideries have disappeared
from the cathedrals and parish churches of Spain there is no doubt. I
know of one case myself in which an antique chasuble was exchanged for
one of cheap jute imitating brocade. The explanation given was that the
old one was worn out, but as it now figures in a private museum it is
difficult not to believe, as the people say, that some money changed
hands with the chasuble.

In the cathedrals each canon had, until quite lately, entire control of
the chapel he served, and was responsible to no one for its contents.
The temptation to sell old lace and vestments and altar fittings, and to
replace them by new, was no doubt great, especially if there is any
truth in the popular belief that the priests in many cases maintain a
home and bring up families like men to whom marriage is not forbidden.
And no one could bring him to book for any change made in the
appointments of his chapel or (in the case of a parish priest) his
church, because, as a rule, no one in authority over him knew what it
contained when he took possession. Even after his death it would
generally be impossible to prove peculation, did the superior officers
of the Church desire to do so, for it is a rare thing for any cathedral
or church to keep an inventory of the valuables it is supposed to

It is said that the priests in many cathedrals and parish churches allow
their linen vestments and altar fittings to be taken away from the
precincts for laundry purposes. The facility with which valuable old
laces can be exchanged for modern machine-made stuff in these cases need
not be dwelt on.

Another opportunity for those who wished to profit by the sale of church
treasures was said to be afforded by the fact that fabrics, sometimes
several centuries old, stand in occasional need of repair. I have heard
the “store-room” or “workshop” laughed at by employees of the church.

“Once anything worth money goes into the store-room for repairs we never
expect to see it again.”

“And where is this store-room?”

“Don’t you know? The dealers in antiques can tell you.”

The hostility of the people towards the priests doubtless colours their
views in these as in all other matters relating to them. But it is a
fact that a distinguished Spanish archæologist a few years ago was
refused further access to the archives of a certain cathedral after he
had asked the Chapter to permit him to publish an inventory of the
treasures under their charge. Now, I am glad to say there are at any
rate some dioceses in which all this has been changed. The archbishops
have had the contents of the churches examined and catalogued, to the
annoyance of certain persons, but to the satisfaction of the
parishioners, who obtained no benefit from the sale of the Church
treasures under the old system.

The following incident was reported to the Press at the end of the year
1909. I have not seen any contradiction published, and I give the story
for what it is worth.

In one of the great cities a certain church was condemned as unsafe, and
the congregation were told that ere long they would have to attend other
churches in the neighbourhood. One of the Religious Orders entered into
treaty for the purchase of the condemned building, in order to build on
the site. But nothing was settled, and as the danger of collapse was not
immediate the services continued to be conducted as usual. When the time
came to collect money for Masses to be said on All Souls’ Day, the
parish priest found his usual request for alms refused, on the ground
that the ---- Brothers had already been round to say that the church was
given up and its congregation attached to the Brothers’ Church in such a
street, and this being so they had come to collect the payment for the
All Souls’ Masses, which was usually given to the parish priest. He
indignantly reported the affair to his superiors, and so it got into the

It was added that the priest declined to say the Masses for the dead, as
he had not been paid for them, and the ---- Brothers, although they got
the money, provided no special service for the congregation who had paid
for it. So that the souls for whom these poor folk had given their alms
will--in their belief--remain so much longer in purgatory. That the alms
were given by the poor, not by the rich of the parish, is evident from
the donors not knowing that their parish church still existed. The whole
affair throws an instructive light on the relations of the poor with
their Church or their parish priest. Had he been in the habit of
visiting them, or did they make a practice of attending Mass even
occasionally, the mistake could never have arisen. But, as the story
shows, the priest had no intercourse with his people save when he went
to beg from them. The incident, even allowing a wide margin for
journalistic exaggeration, goes a long way to support the assertion of
the woman who gave as her reason for not going to confession, that “the
priest would only ask her for money, which she wanted more than he did.”

One more case, and I have done with this unattractive subject.

Some twenty years ago a large dole to the poor, which had been given
annually for about four centuries in a certain chapel, was suddenly cut
off, and has never been renewed. It came out that the priest in charge
had sold the bonds in which the capital was invested, with the
connivance of a Government official in the Finance Department, and the
two between them spent the money. The priest was convicted and
imprisoned for a twelvemonth. Then he was released and appointed to
another church in the same diocese. My informant said he had been a
witness at the trial. “And to-day,” said he, “that bad man holds the
sacred Elements in his hands, and gives the people his blessing. Such
things ought not to be allowed.”




My readers may be inclined to think that the Religious Orders are a kind
of King Charles’ head, which I, a twentieth century Mr. Dick, am unable
to keep out of this book. The truth is that in an attempt such as this
to make intelligible the views and aspirations of the working classes of
Spain, the Religious Orders are the central and dominating fact which
overshadows everything else. Whether we discuss the material condition
of the poor, their education, their political disabilities, or whatever
it may be, and make any attempt to analyse the matter and discover the
reasons of their deplorably backward condition, we always get back to
the Religious Orders as the cause--if not in actual fact, at any rate in
the firm and unshakeable conviction of the people--of all their

It must be remembered, in connection with the Religious Orders, that the
position of nearly all of them in Spain is illegal. According to the
Concordat, made before the expulsion of Isabel II., the only Orders
allowed in Spain are those of St. Vincent of Paul, St. Philip Neri, and
one other, to be nominated by the Pope by agreement with the Government,
while all closed Orders of nuns are prohibited. The Pope has never yet
named the third Order, and apparently no steps are ever taken to oblige
him to carry out his part of the bargain.

I will now give--generally in the words of the narrators--typical
instances of the way in which the Religious Orders are said to interfere
with the livelihood of the working classes, and of the manner in which
once wealthy families have been brought to ruin through their

The porter of a Jesuit college--for the servants of these institutions
love their employers no better than do their friends and relatives
outside--told his brother, who told me, that every night during the
first two or three weeks in August, 1909, after the Barcelona riots,
refugees were admitted to the college. At least eighty, he said, came in
all. They slipped in secretly, after the lights were out, disguised in
lay dress, often of the poorest description, having travelled half dead
with fear [_muertos de miedo_] from Cataluña. That the porter’s story
was true was proved by the large purchases of provisions made by the
college during that month. A baker told me that the _frailes_ were more
insistent than ever that all the waste bread should be given to them
“for the poor.” And, he added, the “good Fathers” were already buying
twice their usual supply of him. “The _frailes_ always demand all the
bread we put by for the poor,” said my friend. “We would prefer to give
it direct to the poor ourselves, for we do not feel sure how much of it
they get from the _frailes_, whose house-keepers are great hands at
making _pasteles_ and _dulces_[7] for sale to good Catholic families.
These good Catholic families prefer to buy their _pasteles_ cheap from
the friars, who say that they are sold for the good of the Church. We do
not care to give our stale bread to be used in injuring the trade of our
companions the confectioners; for the friars, having no taxes to pay,
can naturally undersell ordinary tradesmen, and all the more when they
get the bread for their confectionery free. But if we said that we
wished to give our bread to our own acquaintances among the poor, the
Jesuits would ruin us. They would tell all their clients that we were
bad men and enemies of the Church, and we should lose all our trade. We
know this by experience. So we give our stale bread to the _frailes_
and they let us live. But the poor are getting no bread from the
_frailes_ since the Barcelona business.”

During the disturbances in Cataluña it was said that “shiploads” of
monks and nuns were being landed in the middle of the night at sundry
ports along the coast, and that they so effectually betrayed themselves
by their nervousness of manner that the country people had not the
slightest doubt as to who and what they were. But as the people had no
desire to injure them personally--notwithstanding a certain amount of
talk about cutting throats and hanging--they were permitted to pass
unmolested, though it is true that there were occasional scowls at
ill-clad individuals who wore their trousers “with a difference,” as
though they missed the flowing skirts of their cloth.

And it must be remembered that at the very time that these frightened
men and women were travelling the country in disguise, numbers of
families were sorrowfully bidding farewell to sons, brothers, and
husbands, on their departure to the war which, as the people will always
believe, was begun in the interest of Jesuit capitalists, sheltering
their ownership of the Morocco mines and the great steamer companies
behind the names of lay millionaires.

The popular suspicion of Jesuit interference in these, as in almost all
the other big commercial concerns in the Peninsula, may or may not be
justified, but its effect on the attitude of the people towards the
Religious Orders cannot be over-rated. Not the least extraordinary
feature in the situation is that the Religious Orders profess to
disregard the feeling that exists against them, although it is apparent
on every hand to any one who goes about with eyes and ears open.

For years past I have noticed that no member of the working classes
salutes a priest or friar in the streets. Day after day one summer I saw
the same priests taking their afternoon walk along the same by-way,
where the same artisans, to the number of twenty or thirty, watched the
“long skirts” from the doors of their workshops. I never saw an artisan
greet a priest or friar, or vice versa. The flowing robes of the
ecclesiastics swept against the patched garments of the workmen, but no
glance was exchanged. The priests kept their eyes bent on the ground,
one hand grasping the skirts and the other pressed on the breast, a
typical attitude, which is jeered at by the poor as “canting.” The
workmen kept their eyes fixed on the work on which they were engaged. It
is impossible to imagine anything more hostile than the silent defiance
of the men, as they turned to watch the “long skirts” out of sight. I
have seen single instances of the same thing elsewhere in many places,
but here I had special facilities for observing the daily exhibition of
armed neutrality, owing to the accident of my room at the back of the
little country hotel looking out on the by-path. “I hate to see them,”
one of the men said to me; “they are the ruin of us and our country.”
What made it the more significant was that these same workmen had a
pleasant word of greeting for every lay person, man or woman,
acquaintance or stranger, who passed by them.

The economic question bulks largely among the causes of the popular
hostility to the Religious Orders, and if only half the complaints
generally made are based on fact, the people have reason on their side.

Formerly, say the women, it was easy to obtain a day’s wage by washing
in well-to-do houses, and a laundress could make a decent living. Now in
every town of any importance there are one or more convents called
“Domestic Colleges,” where orphans or servants out of place are
received, and these girls repay the nuns for their board and lodging by
doing laundry-work for rich Catholic families. If the girls were allowed
to keep even a portion of what they earn, the women say that they would
not feel the system to be so unjust. But they declare that this is not
the case. Whatever is paid goes to the nuns, and as they, having no
taxes or wages to pay, can undersell the laundresses, who are called
upon to provide both charges, the lay laundry trade is steadily
declining, although the quality of the work is on a par with that done
in the convents.

The nuns teach their protégées every class of needlework, lace-making,
and a kind of embroidery or net-work which is largely used for priests’
vestments, altar-cloths, &c. This competition, which was one of the
reasons given for the presence of women (if, indeed, they were present)
in the attack on the convents in Barcelona, is felt in every part of
Spain, but perhaps especially in the south and south-west, where skilled
needlework, which is almost the only employment of women above the
domestic servant class, is exceedingly common and badly paid at best.
Nowadays, say such women, it is increasingly difficult to obtain
employment of this kind at any price, owing to the quantity done in the
convents and the reduced prices at which the nuns undertake it.

And finally, although this does not so directly affect women, the nuns
do a large trade in the sweetmeats and _patisserie_ already referred

The grievances against the nuns, then, are chiefly related to their
interference with the industrial market, and this, although a very real
source of hardship, has not yet, except in a few isolated instances,
given birth to anything like the active hostility that is expressed
against the male Religious Orders. The closed Orders of nuns are
regarded with aversion and contempt, as living at the expense of the
nation and leading lives which, to the working classes, seem purely idle
and self-indulgent--“doing nothing all day but pray for their own souls,
or worse,” as they describe the life of contemplation. I have never
heard working women express any desire to injure the nuns, much though
they dislike them as a class. But when we come to the Jesuits, Maristas,
Carmelites, Franciscans, Dominicans, and all the long list of Orders
lumped together in one condemnation by both men and women under the
derisive name of “long skirts” (_sayones_), we find a much worse state
of affairs.

The people declare that in many places the leading industries have been
completely ruined by the competition of persons in the employ of the
Jesuits--for they call all the friars indiscriminately Jesuits, although
they are perfectly aware of the distinctions between the various Orders.
And they will point out to you one family after another who have been
reduced to penury by the “good Fathers,” and will relate innumerable
instances of the methods they believe to have been employed to this end.
Perhaps the best way to explain these will be to give a literal
translation of one or two of the stories I have heard from the people,
which, told as they are with an absolute conviction of their truth, show
what ground the working classes have for distrusting and detesting those
who ought to set an example of virtue and self-abnegation.

“A man I know saved 5,000 _duros_ [about £1,000], and he lent it all to
the Jesuits for a building they were putting up, a building attached to
the monastery, so that he looked upon it as a work for God. Some years
went by, and my friend was growing old and wished to retire from his
little business and live on his capital. So he asked the Jesuits to
repay his loan. ‘Oh, no!’ they said, ‘do you not know, my son, that he
who lends to God must expect no return? A loan to God is a gift for the
salvation of thy soul.’ As I say, he was an old man, and he found
himself ruined, without hope of earning more money. He left the good
Fathers and went and cut his throat.”

     “Why is the old Marquesa de Fulano starving? I will tell you. When
     her father, the last Marquis, was dying, the Jesuits never left him
     for a moment, and at last they persuaded him that his soul was of
     more consequence than his daughter’s livelihood, and he made a will
     by which he left all his money to found a college for boys in ----.
     When he was dead his daughter discovered that all she had was the
     family land, and not a farthing of the capital her father had
     invested. Soon afterwards a famine came, and there was no rain for
     nine months. The Marquesa gave food to all the labourers on the
     estate, although there was no work for them, for she is a very
     charitable lady. She spent all the money she had, and then sold all
     her jewels and other valuables to buy them food. You see, she is a
     widow without family to advise and help her. Of course she was too
     proud to betray her poverty, but even if she had told her friends
     they could have done nothing, for many landowners were ruined that
     year. Now the estate is mortgaged to the last acre, and she has
     sold everything she has and is almost without food for herself. If
     you wish to hear about the Jesuits, ask the Marquesa de Fulano! And
     you will understand that all the people employed on the estate lost
     their livelihood too, for it is now long since she has been able to
     afford to have it cultivated.”

     “Yes, it is a pity to see that fine old oil-mill falling to ruin.
     It used to belong to a very rich man, but when he died the Jesuits
     got hold of his widow and induced her to build a large new chapel
     in the monastery of ----. Millions of pesetas they squeezed out of
     her for the work, and when it was finished, there was nothing left
     of the business. One of the sons meanwhile became a Jesuit, and as
     they have a big business in oil over there he naturally took the
     olive-groves for his share of the property. This happened twenty
     years ago: the younger brothers are married and have children to
     bring up. They have to earn their bread as they can. One of them
     rents ten acres and cultivates them himself, so he does not starve,
     but the other poor fellow has taken to drink, and he and his family
     mostly go hungry. It is all the work of the Jesuits.”

There are many such stories of gifts made to the Church _in articulo
mortis_. The priests are said to urge the dying penitent to save his
soul by benefiting the Religious Orders instead of providing for his
family, on the ground that if he acts as his duty and instincts dictate
he will lengthen his stay in purgatory. There seems no room for doubt
that many once wealthy families have been reduced to poverty in
consequence of such legacies to the Church. Indeed, it almost seems as
if a new class of society is gradually arising among the very people who
formerly were the strongest supporters of the Church--people of good
birth and gentle breeding, with a family tradition of injury at the
hands of the Jesuits, which has alienated them for ever from a Church to
which they owe their worldly misfortunes, and is converting them into
earnest recruits to the cause of Free Thought. From these men of gentle
breeding will eventually come the leaders of the people in their final
struggle against the Ultramontanes.

The ways which the Jesuits are reputed to employ in order to ruin those
who defy them are many. The following story shows how easily it can be
done, if it is true that the Company of Jesus condescends to such
contemptible action against the industrial and working classes.

     “Francisco Mengano used to have a very good business. He employed
     nine men to work for him. But he hated the friars, and he used to
     talk against them to a man who pretended to think as he did and
     came to sit with him every day, and encouraged him to say he would
     never let his daughters go to confession because he was afraid the
     priest would make love to them, and many other things. That vile
     man always talked in the same sort of way himself, and poor
     Francisco looked upon him as a friend. But when his eldest girl was
     old enough for her first Communion and Francisco refused to let her
     go to confession, he discovered that the man he trusted was himself
     a Jesuit, and had told the Jesuits everything Francisco had said.
     They waited to be sure his daughter was not going to confession,
     and then set to work to ruin him. It was quite simple. He was a
     cart-builder and wheelwright, and depended on the landowners in the
     neighbourhood for most of his work. The Jesuits merely sent word
     round that he was charging too much and doing bad work, and his
     trade was ruined and he became what you see--a poor old jobbing
     carpenter, who cannot even afford to employ a boy to do his heavy

When I heard this story I recollected that about a year earlier, when
passing Francisco’s workshop in company with a gentleman reputed to be
friendly with the Jesuits, he had remarked, _apropos des bottes_, “Don’t
employ Francisco if you should want any carpentering done; his work is
bad and he overcharges abominably.” It naturally did not occur to me
that this observation could have any other object than to save me, as a
foreigner, from being cheated, and, all unconscious of what I afterwards
discovered to be its injustice, I gave my work elsewhere.

Not only do the people accuse the Religious Orders of depriving them of
employment by underselling them and destroying their trade by slanders,
but they also bring grave charges of indifference, if not actual
brutality, to the poor who ask them for help of any kind.

It seems to be a fact that no assistance was volunteered by any
Religious House during the epidemic of typhus in Madrid in 1909. In
another town, where a seminary for priests was temporarily converted
into a hospital for the sick and wounded from Melilla, the cisterns ran
dry one night owing to the unusual quantity of water used for the
invalids. Not a man or a boy among the seminarists would take the
trouble to pump more water, though a quarter of an hour’s work would
have done all that was needed for the time, so workmen had to be fetched
in the middle of the night to supply what was immediately required for
the sufferers. This I heard from one of the men who did the work.

The working classes have as yet no plan of campaign against the
Religious Orders. They are waiting in the hope that at no distant day
they will have the suffrage in fact, not, as at present, in name only.
But the bitterness of their hostility may be judged from the following
incident, related to me by an eye-witness.

Three country people, dealers in charcoal, were sitting in a tramcar. My
informant was sitting immediately behind them, and at his side was a
priest. One of the charcoal-merchants, pretending to be unaware of the
priest’s presence, related how he had been overtaken by night on the
mountains, where he was buying wood in pursuit of his trade, and how he
had gone to a large Jesuit college standing alone on the hillside, to
ask permission to sleep under the portico, the season being mid-winter
and the weather bitterly cold. The “good Father” who opened the door at
his knock refused to admit him, telling him that “the college was not a
house of call for tramps, and he could go and sleep under a tree by the
roadside.” The narrator had no option but to do this, for the door was
shut in his face, and “he thought he would have died of cold before
morning.” “I wish,” he concluded, “that all the _frailes_ in Spain would
come to my house some cold night and ask for shelter. Before morning I
would leave every one of them under my trees with his throat cut.”

I have no doubt that the charcoal merchant uttered his theatrical threat
on purpose to frighten the priest, and if that was his object he
certainly succeeded, for the poor man turned white and trembled with
alarm; but it is certain that no one of his class would have dared to
express such sentiments before a priest or a monk previous to the
Barcelona affair.

I have heard a gentle-looking old woman say deliberately: “I wish all
the _frailes_ were going out to be shot this morning! How I should enjoy
seeing them killed!”

And I have heard an artisan remark as a couple of “long skirts” went by:

“How I hate those vermin! It makes me sick to see them near me.”

The people who say these things are not Socialists nor Anarchists, nor
even Republicans. They are decent, quiet, industrious working people,
who know and care little about current politics, and simply judge of the
priests and the Religious Orders by what they see. Once the confidence
of such people is won, you will hear similar remarks by the score
wherever two or three of the working class are gathered together,
whether in town or country. Nor are their wives and daughters one whit
behind the men in their expressions of hostility.

Here is an outburst which I took down word for word from a clever but
quite illiterate working woman. The reference to the “ovens,” as will be
seen, tallies with what I have quoted about the bakers, although the
speakers were in different provinces, far apart.

     “While we have that lot here we cannot live. The alms which ought
     to be given to the poor are given to them. I don’t believe they
     give to the poor the bread which they beg from the ovens. I believe
     they use it all to make _alforjillas_ and _piñonates_ for sale.[8]
     They cannot make them without bread. The Jesuits do not make them
     themselves. All the monasteries keep _amas de gobierno_[9] to cook
     and wash and mend and do everything required. They are quite
     independent, answerable to nobody. They eat us up as if they were
     ants. They let no one live, meddling with everything that doesn’t
     concern them. They tack themselves to a lady, an acquaintance, and
     she has linen to launder, and they order her to send it at once to
     be washed in one of the [religious] houses where poor unfortunates
     are taken in. Many of them are the children of the friars
     themselves and of the priests. There is a family in ---- Street whom
     they call ‘Curitas,’ five brothers and sisters, all children of one
     parish priest [_cura_]. Their ‘Uncle Cura,’ as they called him,
     brought them up and educated them and left them all he possessed.
     They were all the children of one mother; it was the same as if the
     priest had been married to her. He lived with her and maintained
     her all his life. But that is a great sin for the priest! They say
     that in your country the priests are allowed to marry. If it were
     the same here the Church would be purged of many sins, for all the
     priests live with women. If they are faithful to one woman I do not
     see what sin there is in it. It is natural. But it is more usual
     for them to have many women. I know that one old priest had at
     least ten or twelve children in ---- [a low quarter of the town], all
     by different women. He brought them all up, and gave them every
     year enough for their food. He was very rich. They called him ‘the
     Prior.’ The mothers said to the children: ‘Run along; the Prior
     will give thee money to buy food.’ I know this because my father
     used to work for him. The priest often said to him: ‘Look, what
     pretty children mine are!’ He was not in the least ashamed of
     owning that they were his.”

And here is another statement made by the father of growing lads whom he
was educating as best he could to try for appointments in the Civil

     “You should be careful not to say anything about the Jesuits in
     those letters you are always writing,” he said. “In Madrid or
     Barcelona it may be all very well, but in a little country town
     like this you can never be sure how much the ‘good Fathers’ will
     find out. It is well known that Paco, who attends to the registered
     letters here, is the son of a Jesuit. Many of the clerks in the
     post-offices are the sons of priests or _frailes_, and that is why
     honest lads like my sons have no chance of getting a place there.
     The Jesuits have a plan by which their sons slip in without the
     examination imposed on others. Do you think that fool Paco would be
     where he is if he had had to pass a competitive examination? But be
     warned! He has been clever enough to learn how to open letters and
     seal them up again. The ‘good Fathers’ have taken care of that. And
     if they suspect that you write stories about them, they will take
     care to read your letters before they leave the post-office.”

In this connection I may mention a curious incident. A book sent to me
from England went astray, and some six months later, after inquiry made
by the English post-office, reached me minus its wrapper, with a note of
apology from the local post-office, explaining that it had been
recovered from a Jesuit college at least fifty miles from the place to
which it had been addressed and registered by the publisher. Why it was
delivered at the college instead of to me was not explained. I thought
at the time it was merely a piece of characteristic Spanish
carelessness, but I was reminded of the occurrence by my friend’s
remarks about “Paco” and the post-office.



[To face page 111.]



If Spain at large had attributed the misfortunes of 1909--the war in
Melilla, the outbreak in Cataluña, the suspension of the Constitution,
the attacks on the country made by the foreign Press--to the influence
of Don Alfonso, the throne would have been in greater danger than at any
time since the expulsion of Isabel II., for the whole nation was roused
to indignation by the general conduct of the Clericalist Ministry then
in power.

But happily for Spain, and indeed for Europe, since civil war in the
Peninsula would be an European disaster, not even the most violent of
the Republicans or Socialists taxed the King, the Queen, or any member
of the Royal Family with indifference to the feelings of the people or a
disregard of the sufferings of the poor.

A fact not recognised in England is the extent to which conscription
tends to consolidate the Monarchy in a country where the King, the head
of the Army, enjoys personal popularity among his working-class

Under an unpopular ruler conscription would probably lend itself to the
speedy establishment of a Republic. But every year that King Alfonso
lives he binds the Army, which is the very flesh and blood of the
nation, more firmly to himself by ties of personal affection. And
personal affection is a stronger force than political conviction alone
ever has been or ever can be.

In the seventies the Army stood for liberty and the Republic against
Carlism and Ultramontanism, until Alfonso XII. was brought from his
English college and offered to the nation which had seen his mother
dethroned, as the mass of the nation always will believe, at the
instigation of the Church. It was his mother’s personal popularity with
the masses which made her son’s path comparatively smooth,
notwithstanding the chaos of conflicting interests among which his lot
was cast. His own honesty of purpose, his devotion to his people’s
welfare, the Spartan simplicity of his private life, and the personal
charm which he, in common with all his race, possessed, gave him a
higher place in the affections of the nation than is at all realised
outside of Spain, and the greatest hope expressed for King Alfonso XIII.
by the poor is that he may take after his father. “He was a _man_,”
they say. It was for the father’s sake that all parties agreed to call a
truce during the anxious months that followed on his premature death,
until his son was born, and it would be difficult to say how many times,
while Queen Maria Cristina held the reins of Regency, the memory of her
dead husband may have turned the tide in favour of their child, when the
Ultramontanes would have used the national unrest to the profit of the
proscribed branch.

From the day that Alfonso XII. breathed his last, the Ultramontanes have
consistently tried to represent the Queen Mother as closely attached to
their party. The accusation is manifestly absurd. No mother would
support a policy directed in the interests of a Pretender before that
which maintains the rights of her own son. It is, indeed, a matter of
history that in order to give the Opposition no excuse for agitation,
Canovas, with true patriotism, recommended the grief-stricken Regent in
the early days of her widowhood to entrust the Government to his
opponents, the Liberals under Sagasta, in order to avoid a contest, so
that to the latter fell the duty of proclaiming to the waiting nation
the birth of Alfonso XIII., on May 17, 1886.[10] Canovas would not have
acted thus had there been any real doubts of the loyalty of the Liberal

The _Imparcial_, in an article dealing with Señor Maura’s assertion,
immediately after his fall in 1909, that the Conservatives are the only
bulwark against revolution and the only support of the Throne, recalled
this fact, and added that “without the Liberals the Throne would not
exist now, because the Liberals rescued it from revolution after it had
been shaken by the bloody attacks of Carlism. Without Sagasta, without
Castelar, the Spanish monarchy would not be.”

Yet so persistently has the story of the Queen Mother’s clericalist
leanings been repeated by those interested in its acceptance during the
twenty-three years that King Alfonso XIII. has been on the throne, that
the mass of the people still believe that she defers to the Jesuits even
in matters in which their interference cannot fail to injure the King in
the eyes of his people--a preposterous misconception, which cannot be
corrected too soon. Quite lately I heard a working woman say:

     “She cannot be a Jesuit, as they say. A Jesuit mother could not
     have borne such children as hers. Look at the King! He has none too
     much love for the _curas_ (priests). Yet we have always been told
     that Queen Cristina is a Jesuit! Why should that be said? These are
     _cosas de los frailes_ (doings of the friars) ‘said to make us
     dislike her.’”

In one town where I had some acquaintances among the clergy, I was
struck by the malicious things that were said by them about the young
Queen, and especially about her relations with the Queen Mother. Not
long before I went there I happened to have heard a very pleasant
account of the private life of the Royal Family from a foreigner,
entirely outside of politics, who was for a short time employed in one
of the palaces while the Royal Family were in residence. His description
left no doubt at all as to the happiness of their home life.

With this in my mind I did not feel greatly concerned at being informed
by various Ultramontanes that “Queen Victoria was on the worst terms
with the Queen Mother, who had never forgiven her for having been
brought up a Protestant,” and that “Maura had refused to let her go to
England after the Barcelona affair, because she was so miserable in
Madrid that she had declared she would never return to Spain if once she
got back to her own country.”

No one who has seen the young King and Queen together believes this kind
of thing, although it has been repeated in clericalist circles ever
since the marriage. But, unfortunately, comparatively few of their
subjects have the opportunity of seeing them, and during the last
half-year of the Maura administration photographs and picture postcards
of the Royal Family, which formerly were on sale everywhere, became
noticeably absent. Throughout the three months that the press was
censured it was almost impossible to find an illustrated paper
containing any picture of the King, the Queen, the Queen Mother, the
Infanta Maria Teresa, or the Royal children. During that time everything
that could tend to recall the King and Queen to the minds of the people
and increase their popularity was suppressed. My attention was first
called to this state of affairs by finding that in one large town not a
single picture postcard of King Alfonso could be bought. The shops had
sold out their last year’s stock, and no new photographs of any kind had
been issued since the war broke out.

It would have been natural that portraits of the Queen should appear in
connection with the War Fund initiated by her Majesty and taken up with
enthusiasm all over the country. But no. A portrait and several pictures
of the Marquesa de Squilache, who acted as honorary secretary, were
published, showing that lady at work in her office, distributing money
to applicants, &c. But I have not been able to discover that any such
pictures appeared with the young Queen as the central figure. The
Marquesa de Squilache is a philanthropist whose fame deservedly extends
all over Spain, and the admirable organisation of the fund was certainly
due in a great measure to her clear-headed and business-like methods.
But she would be the first to acknowledge that the Queen, and not
herself, should have been represented in the picture-papers as the head
and front of this effort to alleviate the misery caused by the war. It
is difficult to believe that the marked omission of her Majesty’s
portrait in the illustrated papers during the clericalist
Press-censorship was accidental, while at the same time a series of
thirty-six postcards of Don Jaime of Bourbon in the Castle of Frohsdorf
was being freely advertised in Madrid.

The War Fund, initiated and presided over by the young Queen, was
perhaps the first charitable appeal ever issued direct from the Court to
the nation, without the intervention of the Church. At first it was
stated that applicants for relief from this Fund must bring certificates
of birth, baptism, marriage, &c., from their parish priests.[11] But
the _Heraldo_, one of the leading Liberal-Monarchist papers, pointed out
that such a condition would deprive all those who had been married by
the civil authority of participation in the Fund, and put in a further
plea for the children of soldiers not born in wedlock. The Queen and her
committee of ladies decided on the widest interpretation of the family
limitation, and at an early stage in the war relief was given to a child
whose father was at the front, although the mother did not bear his
name. This broadly charitable decision commended the Fund warmly to the
mass of the people, for, as already shown, the prohibitive cost of the
marriage licence in many, if not all, the Spanish dioceses compels
numbers of decent couples to use the civil rite or none. Thus the
decided action taken by, the Queen and her committee, notwithstanding
the recommendations of the Church, endeared Queen Victoria Eugénie to
thousands of mothers who, if the first conditions proposed had been made
obligatory, would have been without the pale.

The interminable lists of subscribers, appearing day after day and week
after week, and the innumerable small subscriptions, often not exceeding
ten centimes, and sometimes falling as low as five, proved how
whole-heartedly the poor gave of their penury, and various incidents
which occurred showed a real spirit of self-sacrifice in the
wage-earners. Such was the action of the cigarette-makers of Seville,
the two thousand women of all ages whose fame has been so often sung in
the opera of “Carmen.” They were ordered to make up several thousand
boxes of cigarettes with the legend “For the Army at Melilla.” They
immediately asked to be allowed to do the whole work gratis as a tribute
to the Army; and on being informed that this could not be permitted,
because the consignment was a gift to the troops from the Company which
rents the tobacco rights from the Crown, the _cigarreras_ volunteered to
forfeit a whole day’s pay, to be given to the Queen’s Fund for the
Wounded. Numbers of these women are mothers of families, and many of
them have only three or four days’ work weekly, at a wage ranging from
75 centimes to pesetas 1.50, so that a whole day’s pay was a serious
consideration to them. Nor were they by any means alone in their
generosity, for many industrial guilds, companies, trade unions, and
civil servants, such as, _e.g._, the minor post-office officials and
telegraph operators, also gave a day’s wage.

Judging from the results of previous appeals to the public for
charitable purposes, it is safe to say that the enthusiastic response to
the Queen’s Fund was due in a great measure to the national confidence
that the money would be well and wisely administered under her Majesty’s
auspices, for it is a melancholy fact that similar confidence is not
felt by the poor in the case of subscriptions raised under the patronage
of the Church.

I have quoted at random a few observations from among many betraying
animus against her Majesty on the part of the priests. Here is another,
which shows why they dislike the young Queen so much. I met one day in a
mountain village a Franciscan friar who had come from a neighbouring
city to deliver a course of sermons. He mistook me for a Frenchman, and
therefore had the less hesitation in enlarging upon the evils that the
King’s marriage would bring upon the country. One remark particularly
impressed me, as expressing in a few words the attitude of the Church
towards education.

“She will do untold harm by trying to introduce her English ideas about
the education of women. The women of Spain have quite as much education
as is good for them. More would only do them harm.”

In this connection it seems worth while to mention that what most
appealed to the working women (who certainly are not over-burdened with
education) in relation to the birth of the Prince of Asturias was the
announcement that the Queen intended to nurse her baby herself, instead
of following the old-fashioned custom, universal among the upper
classes, of employing a wet-nurse. This is not the place to discuss the
unhappy, results of the system on the general health and morale of the
nation. But the announcement was seized upon by the poor as bringing the
royal mother into close contact with themselves.

“Have you heard that she is suckling her child, just as we do?”

And when soon after it was stated that “owing to the Queen’s state of
health, and having regard to the duties of her position” the infant
Prince had been handed over to a wet-nurse like any other rich man’s
child, a sigh of disappointment went up.

“You see, the doctors would not let her do as she wished. Health?
Rubbish! Any one can see that she is the picture of health. But what
would become of the commissions the doctors get from the wet-nurses for
recommending them if the Queen put wet-nursing out of fashion?”

The Queen was not blamed for relinquishing her maternal duties. Every
poor mother believed that she would have nursed her baby, had the
decision rested with her. This is characteristic of the attitude of the
mass of the people towards both the King and the Queen. Whatever they do
that is worthy of respect and admiration is taken as fresh evidence of
their intrinsic virtues. But whatever happens in regard to them that
does not please the country people is attributed to the malign influence
of those who stand between them and their subjects.

I was struck by the popular comments on the announcement that Don
Alfonso was not going to Melilla, among which this was one:

“Do we not know that he is dying to go? He is young and brave, and he
loves our soldiers. It is Maura who forbids him to go to the war.”

A suggestive remark was made by a journeyman plumber with whom I had a
long conversation while the war was at its height.

“No doubt he would have liked to lead the Army. He is brave enough. But
kings are too expensive to be risked in that way. If we have a king he
may as well be taken care of.”

“You do not seem a very enthusiastic Monarchist,” I said.

“I? Monarchist! I am republican to the bones.”

“Ah! Then I suppose you would like to turn Don Alfonso out of the

“I? Why? What harm has that boy done me? Everybody likes him.”

And he seemed quite puzzled by the smile I found it impossible to
repress at this exposition of “republicanism to the bones.”

For fully a year before the fall of the Maura Ministry anecdotes of the
charity and generosity shown by the King, the Queen, and the Royal
Family were growing rarer in the papers which had formerly supplied
these little pieces of information to the many people who like thus to
be brought into contact with the home life of their rulers. The omission
was introduced so gradually that at first no one noticed it. But when
soldiers returning from the war talked of gifts sent out by the Queen,
and other evidences of active sympathy shown by the Royal Family, it was
realised that no steps had been taken to make these things known to the
public at home. The King’s gift of thirty thousand solar topees out of
his private purse was one instance. The Queen’s present of thousands of
warm vests to wear under the uniform was another. Queen Maria-Cristina,
and the Infanta Maria Teresa (who by her gentleness and unassuming
manner has won for herself an affectionate nickname among the poor of
Madrid), as well as the Infantas Doña Isabel, Doña Paz (Princess Louis
of Bavaria) and Doña Eulalia, the King’s aunts, all devoted themselves
during the war to working with their own hands for the soldiers, besides
giving generously to the Queen’s fund, but not a word of this appeared
in any of the papers. I heard something of their work from private
sources: the public heard nothing.

It may be suggested that the ladies of the Royal Family, who are
instinct with patriotism and love of their fellow-countrymen, may have
preferred that their charities should pass unpraised by the nation. But
even were that so, one would expect that the expenditure of some £11,000
out of the King’s private purse would have been reported far and wide,
especially since it had been impossible to conceal that the troops were
suffering severely from want of proper headgear in the tropical summer
of North Africa. But beyond the bare announcement that the King had
ordered this immense number of sun-helmets to be procured for the troops
in urgent haste, from abroad, because they could not be purchased at
home, no comment was made on an act of truly royal generosity. A Liberal
paper said that information on the subject was held back by ministerial
instructions “until a suitable time for publication arrived,” but
beyond the bare fact of the number given and the price said to have been
paid, no further details were ever published. The Conservative organs
confined themselves to commenting unfavourably on the size, shape, and
colour of the new headgear, and one of their correspondents turned the
whole affair into ridicule, describing the soldiers in the new helmets
as “having the appearance of walking mushrooms, which destroyed all that
had hitherto been picturesque in the campaign.” But when the illustrated
papers brought out one picture after another in which the men were seen
wearing these solar topees, and the soldiers began to write home to
their families that “the King’s helmets” not only protected them from
the sun by day, but kept their heads dry and warm while sleeping on the
damp ground by night, the people scored another black mark against Señor
Maura, crediting him with a deliberate intention to conceal evidences of
the King’s care for the soldiers from the people at home.

The vests sent out by the Queen were never mentioned at all by the
Press. Yet my informant, a returned soldier, told me they must have
numbered thousands, for, said he, “there seemed to be enough for all of
us; at any rate, all I knew had them.”

It was thanks to these, he said, that there were not many more fever
patients when the torrential rains of October fell on an Army destitute
of winter clothing and even of sufficient sleeping accommodation, so
that for nights at a stretch “men lay on soaked mattresses or blankets
only, sunk in a bed of mud.” “The Queen’s vests kept us warm in the
middle, and that helped us to bear the wet and cold,” he said.

Why was the Queen’s gift, equally with the King’s, treated with such
discourteous silence under the Press censorship of the Clericalist
Ministry? It was not for want of space in the papers, nor for want of
goodwill on the part of the editors, for full particulars were given of
innumerable generous offerings by commercial houses and private
individuals, and column after column was daily filled with names of
subscribers to the War Fund, which was designated “The Patriotic Fund
presided over by H.M. the Queen,” or “The Patriotic Fund under the
Committee of Ladies,” according to the political bias of the paper
publishing the lists.

If anything had been wanting to arouse national enthusiasm for the
Queen, her prompt action in initiating this fund would have provided it.
To English people it seems natural that the Queen should undertake the
work, for the Queen of England has been for many a long day regarded as
the head and front of charity organised on behalf of the nation. But
Spanish women, accustomed for centuries to bow to the dictates of the
Church, had come to believe that what the Church looked on coldly could
not be carried out at all, and least of all by a woman. The Church, with
certain exceptions, stood aloof from the Queen’s Fund on the pretext
that men of peace might not aid in any matter connected with war. The
nation translated this into a protest on the part of the Ultramontanes
against a national work of charity headed by a Queen who is not popular
with the priesthood. And the response to the Queen’s appeal for the sick
and wounded is not only a testimony of the love of the nation for the
Army, but also evidence of its confidence in the Monarchy as opposed to
the Ultramontanes.

A pretty incident in regard to another royal gift made on the first
visit of the young King and Queen to a certain large provincial town may
be worth relating. The usual largesse of so many thousand pesetas to the
municipality, for the poor, was announced in the newspapers when they
left. But by chance I heard how much farther their unannounced charity
had extended. They had given a considerable sum to a convent in each
district of the city to buy bread for the poor, and of this no notice
was taken by the papers. I heard of it from a journeyman painter, whose
sick wife had received two loaves.

“Her aunt is portress at the Convent of ----, so she was able to get her
share. Everybody in our parish was very pleased. The only thing we
should have liked better would be to receive the bread from the King’s
and Queen’s own hands, so that we might have thanked them as they
deserve. But such a crowd of people would have gone to the palace that
the Queen would have got very tired, which was no doubt the reason why
they did not give us the bread themselves.”

Strangely enough, the Queen’s Protestant upbringing, which prejudices
the Ultramontanes so strongly against her, has just the opposite effect
upon the people. They look upon her as being, like themselves, a victim
of clericalist injustice, and so deep-rooted is the conviction that
whatever the Jesuits object to must be good for the people, that the
knowledge of their oppositions to the marriage would have been
sufficient in itself to secure her a welcome from the proletariat.

But her hold upon the masses goes deeper than this. The peasants
appreciate, far more than many of the upper classes seem to do, the
vital importance to the nation of a settled Dynasty and Constitution.
They know that for many years the Monarchy hung on a thread, while the
frail life of a little child was all that preserved Spain from the chaos
that another conflict between Republicans, Carlists, and Monarchists
would have produced. Therefore when King Alfonso grew up, married, and
became the father of an heir to the throne, the rejoicing of the nation
was heartfelt and sincere. The discussions which arose in 1905 on the
death of the poor young Infanta Mercedes, the King’s eldest sister, as
to whether her son was or was not entitled to be Prince of Asturias in
the absence of a direct heir, had aroused all serious-minded Spaniards
to the ever-present dangers that would take shape in action should King
Alfonso die unmarried or childless. So that when the birth of the little
Prince of Asturias--the first son born to a reigning King of Spain for
over a century--was speedily followed by that of a second, the poor,
always the worst sufferers from civil discord and changes of Government,
learnt to look upon the young Queen who has given these hostages for
peace to the nation, with a feeling compounded of admiration and
affection. And each fresh child that comes to fill the royal nurseries
seem a fresh bulwark to the State in the eyes of the working classes,
who remember how their own flesh and blood were thrown to the dogs of
war time after time by opposing forces during the century when Spain had
either no King or no Crown Prince.




For a long time past it has been assumed abroad that Carlism is dead in
Spain, and probably few even among diplomatists in other countries could
say off-book what the proscribed branch of the Spanish Bourbons now
consists of, where the different members of the family live, and what
relations they maintain with each other and with the country from which
they have been exiled since 1876. Even so careful an observer as Major
Martin Hume wrote in 1899 that Carlism as a political system was dead in
Spain, and the absolutism upon which that party pin their faith, past

It is, therefore, hardly surprising that the Carlists have been left out
of account by those who observe Spanish political troubles from outside.
Indeed, the very existence of the old Pretender seemed to have been
forgotten by the generation which has grown up in England in the
thirty-four years which have elapsed since the close of the last civil
war. But the Spanish working classes have not forgotten Don Carlos, nor
have they for a moment lost sight of the continued existence of this
party in their own country.

The root of their long memory lies in their antipathy to the Religious
Orders. To the people the Carlists are indissolubly associated with the
Ultramontanes, and who says Jesuit says Carlist in their vocabulary of
distrust. And that the people have reason on their side has been proved
by the words and actions of the Ultramontanes themselves since the
events that took place in the summer of 1909.

The Catalonian question has been discussed at such length and with so
much confidence by writers living in other countries that I may be
forgiven if I add to their pronouncements on the causes and effects of
the “Red Week” certain information which is not common knowledge beyond
the Pyrenees, unless possibly at the Castle of Frohsdorf or in the
palaces of the proscribed branch in Venice or Trieste. The censorship
exercised over the press, and over telegrams and even letters addressed
to newspaper offices, was so severe while the country was under martial
law, and, indeed, right up to the fall of the Maura Cabinet in October,
1909, that representatives of foreign journals who tried to put the
facts before their leaders found it impossible to do so. Any man who had
once tried--and failed--to get off even the most cryptic telegram
relating to the part played by the Ultramontanes in the riots, was
thenceforth marked by the Intelligence Department of the Society of
Jesus, and if he continued his efforts to communicate what he knew, he
not only found his telegrams suppressed after they had been accepted and
paid for, but stood a good chance of having his personal liberty
interfered with. There was plenty of excitement about the work of a
foreign correspondent in Spain in the summer of 1909, wherever he
happened to be stationed. But it was not precisely the form of danger
suggested by the reports of revolution and anarchy which were supplied
to the foreign Press. Notices of that class could be procured and sent
through without the slightest difficulty. The newspaper correspondent
who was in danger was the man who crossed the frontier to telegraph the
facts as he saw them, and who was not unlikely to meet with an
“accident” as he made his way back to the scene of his labours.

The result of this regime of espionage was that all Europe was
hoodwinked as to the real crisis in Spain, for naturally as soon as
affairs in Cataluña ceased to be sensational, the foreign Press relapsed
into its usual indifference to what was going on in the Peninsula.

Foreign residents, living as quietly and comfortably as usual, were
considerably astonished when their home newspapers reached them, packed
with sensational tales of revolution, incendiarism, military sedition,
and wholesale executions, and asked what on earth the Spanish Government
was about that it allowed these slanders to be propagated all over the
world? Who was responsible for these perversions of the truth? What
advantage was hoped for by those who fostered so colossal a
misrepresentation of the conduct of the inarticulate proletariat of

The Censor handled the national Press even more sternly than the
foreign, for the suspension of the Constitution gave the Government a
perfectly free hand, and although the Constitutional rights were
nominally restored everywhere except in Cataluña a few weeks after the
rising, the Press was in reality gagged as long as Señor Maura remained
in office. The Opposition indeed was placed on the horns of an
impossible dilemma. So long as the party kept silence as to what they
knew, Spain would continue to be held up to foreign contumely for a
condition of affairs which did not exist. Yet if any Liberal dared to
criticise the Government, he was clapped into prison until such time as
it might suit the Government to release him.

The position was recognised by Señor Moret, the veteran
Liberal-Monarchist leader. He possesses the invaluable quality of
knowing when to speak and when to keep silence. And throughout the time
when the fair fame of his nation was being dragged in the dust, he urged
patience and submission upon his followers, pointing out that when the
time came to call the Ultramontanes to account for their conduct of the
Government, the strong men of his party must not be found in prison, for
it would be their business to speak: and the Liberal-Monarchist
statesmen, without exception, supported their leader in his patriotic

Only a very strong man could have controlled the rising tide of wrath
against the Religious Orders, whom the people hold responsible for
everything that goes wrong with the nation. Señor Maura, the leader of
the Ultramontane party, is supposed, by those who do not know the facts,
to be the only really strong man in Spain, and it appears to be honestly
believed abroad that he holds the Conservative party together by sheer
force of statesmanship. The truth is that Maura is a weak man who owes
his position as the leader of the party he is supposed to control only
to the unflagging energy and intrigue of the Ultramontanes--the richest
men and the subtlest intellects in the Peninsula; while Moret’s power,
on the other hand, is based upon unswerving political rectitude,
maintained against the onslaughts of corrupt politicians, and upon his
capacity for silence among men who spend half their lives in talking.
This is why he has obtained such a hold upon the people that the whole
forces of political immorality have laboured to bring about his
overthrow each time that he has taken office, lest he end by leading the
nation into paths where corruption will have no standing ground. Maura’s
policy of repression gave a great impetus to the revolutionary spirit
against which it professed to be directed. And yet Moret’s influence was
strong enough to keep the nation quiet, because the nation trusts him.

For once the low level of popular education, which Moret and his
followers are working hard to raise, was on the side of the Liberal
leader. Only some twenty-five per cent. or so of the nation can read,
and of that number few indeed know any language but their own. Had the
working classes realised that the Army, of which all Spain is so proud,
was being traduced by the foreigner, neither Moret nor Maura could have
controlled the storm of wrath that would have overwhelmed those held
responsible for the lie.

Happily for Spain, the syndicate of newspapers known as the _Sociedad
Editorial de España_, which is edited under the direction of the
Liberal-Monarchist party in Madrid, and read by thousands, as against
hundreds of readers of the journals which support a different policy,
never wavered for a day in upholding Moret’s recommendation of patience
and submission to the law, and refrained from increasing their sales by
pandering to popular excitement with allusions to what was going on
outside of Spain, notwithstanding the grossest insults from the
Ultramontane press. Those who control the organs of the party knew well
enough that if they had raised the cry of “Down with the Jesuits!” they
would have called up a tempest not easily or speedily to be allayed. But
they knew that their adversaries wished for nothing better, and they
kept on their own course and saved Spain from a violent revolution
against the Church. The syndicate of Liberal-Monarchist papers is
continually accused by the Ultramontane press of being responsible for
the attack on the religious houses in Cataluña, and is held up to
reprobation for “encouraging the destruction of the country by
maintaining the right of the people to have lay schools.” But the truth
is, and the Ultramontanes know it, that to the Liberal-Monarchist press
is due the present security of innumerable buildings belonging to the
Church, which, but for the influence of the Liberal party, would be in
smoke-blackened ruins to-day.

Many members of the educated middle classes of Barcelona assert that the
disturbances in Cataluña in July, 1909, were deliberately instigated by
the Jesuits. The object was, they say, by hook or by crook, to close the
lay schools, and that it had long been an open secret that the
Ultramontane party were determined to take the first excuse they could
find to destroy an educational movement which they find inimical to
their interests. And the link connecting the Jesuits of Barcelona with
Don Jaime, the son of the recently deceased Pretender, Don Carlos, was
provided by an indignant disclaimer of Carlist participation in the
affair, published by a Carlist organ edited in Paris, long before any
suggestion had been made that such participation was suspected. This was
so clearly a case of _qui s’excuse s’accuse_ that no thoughtful
observer, unbiassed by political passion, could fail to put two and two

The peasants had no doubt whatever as to the origin of the disturbances.
One of them gave me his view of the situation, as follows:

“The Carlists and the Jesuits plotted to turn out Isabel II., and now
they are trying to overthrow King Alfonso. They ruined Queen Isabel
because she loved the people and hated the priests, and now they are
trying to do the same with _los Reyes_ because they are popular in the
country. But let them try! There are still many of us who remember what
we suffered in the last Carlist war, and we do not intend to have
another. Let them try to touch _los Reyes_! We will kill every priest in
the country before they shall put a hand to that work!”

“Well,” I objected, “this is very fine talk now that Don Carlos is dead
and buried, but if you did not want him for your king, why did so many
of you fight for him?”

“If you were ordered to fight and knew that you and your children would
be put in the street if you refused, would you not fight rather than let
your family starve? The men who paid our wages said: ‘You will go with
us to fight for Don Carlos or you will never have another day’s work
from us.’ What help had we against our masters? Do you think we wished
to take arms against Queen Isabel? If the Jesuits had not been in the
affair, no one would have taken notice of her little faults. The Jesuits
intended her to commit faults when they married her to a man who was no
man. If she had not been good to us they would have let her stay.”

The popular songs expressing loyalty to Queen Isabella have not been
forgotten in the forty odd years that have elapsed since she was
dethroned, for in 1909 they were revived, with such slight alterations
as were needed to bring them up to date. Here is a specimen:

    “_Si la Reina de España moriera
     Y Don Carlos quisiera reinar,
     Los arroyos de sangre correrian
     Por el campo de la libertad._”

(“If the Queen of Spain were to die and Don Carlos wanted
to reign, the streams would run with blood on the field of

The intricacies of succession being little understood by the people,
this song was modernised by substituting “Victoria” for “de España” and
“Don Jaime” for “Don Carlos.” During the suspension of the Constitution
the song was not sung aloud: the people said that “Maura had forbidden
it.” Directly the Liberals came in it was heard again everywhere.

Here is another:

    “_No reinará Don Jaime,
     No reinará, no, no!
     Mientras España tenga
     Bayoneta y cañon._”

(“Don Jaime shall not reign while Spain has a bayonet and
a cannon.”)

And another, perhaps in some ways the most interesting of the three:

    “_Dicen de Barcelona
     De un mitin clerical,
     Que Don Jaime asistió
     Provisto de un disfraz.
     Al ver la bronca de palos y morral
     Creyó que le tiraban bomba encima de nocedal!_”

The literal translation is as follows: “They say from Barcelona, of a
clerical meeting, that Don Jaime attended it provided with a disguise.
When he saw the row with sticks and a nosebag, he thought they were
throwing a bomb on the top of a walnut-copse.” Taken in its literal
meaning it is of course nonsense, and the popularity of the song was
evidently due to the puns on “_morral_” and “_nocedal_.” By writing
these words with capitals we get the names of the man who threw the bomb
at the King’s wedding (Morral), and of a well-known Carlist leader
(Nocedal). This song was sung in Barcelona when the colonies were lost,
with another name in place of Morral’s, and was revived in 1909, brought
up to date as above, until with the suspension of the Constitution it
was severely repressed. It expresses the popular opinion as to the
authorship of the bomb of 1906 and the troubles in Cataluña.

It was curious to observe how constantly the Carlist and Cuban wars
seemed to be in the minds of the people during the regime of repression.
Frequent comparisons were drawn between the reign of Queen Isabella and
the rule of Señor Maura, all highly unfavourable to the latter. It was
always Maura and the Jesuits: never was the King blamed in Spain for the
sins of his ministers. The Carlist war seemed as fresh in the minds of
the unlettered masses as Mellila itself. Tales were raked up of shocking
cruelty to the rank and file, and of a callous disregard of their
sufferings in Cuba and the Philippines, and it seemed to be believed by
many of the speakers that similar abuses were being repeated in Morocco.

A nation which has been prevented from developing its intellectual life
is inevitably thrown back upon its recollections, and traditions of
class injury cannot fail to be more permanent among a people who have no
other occupation for their thoughts.

For nearly forty years the uneducated Spanish peasantry, and the artisan
classes, have nursed their wrath against the body whom their parents
believed to have dethroned, for their own ends and at the cost of a
bloody civil war, a Queen desirous of ameliorating the lot of her
people; and for ten years of that time their resentment has been
increased by the conviction that the same body plotted to sell the last
of the once world-wide Spanish colonies, and strewed the road to that
sale with the corpses of Spanish peasants, set to fight, without arms or
equipment, against the overwhelming forces of the enemy, while the
Jesuits appropriated to their own purposes the money wrung from the
nation for the expenses of the war.

How much of the indictment against the Jesuits is justified I do not
pretend to decide; but all the world knows that the Spanish Army again
and again went into action in Cuba and the Philippines so destitute of
munitions as to be practically unarmed, while the tragic loss of the
Spanish Navy at Santiago will never be forgotten by those whose friends
and relatives were sent to an inevitable death “by order of the
Government in Madrid.”

Had the people been allowed to educate themselves during the years that
have passed since those fatal adventures, the wound, though it will long
remain unhealed, would have been skinned over by consoling comparisons
drawn between these and the great disasters of other nations. But the
Religious Orders have always opposed the spread of popular education.
The people have been driven back upon tradition, old and new, for their
mental nourishment, while other nations have been forging ahead. Thus
the Religious Orders have sharpened a sword for their own undoing. The
longer the Spanish peasant is left to nurse the memory of his
grievances, the more bitter grows his resentment against those whom he
holds responsible for them.

To the Jesuits the people attribute the downfall of Isabel II. and the
years of internecine strife which followed; to the Jesuits they
attribute the fiasco of the Spanish-American War, with all the suffering
it entailed upon the poor; to the Jesuits they attribute the war in
Morocco, with its heavy account of bloodshed, sickness, and money-cost;
and to the Jesuits they impute the chronic unrest in Cataluña, which
they believe to be fostered in the interests of Don Jaime of Bourbon.
They are convinced that all these things were and are engineered by the
Carlist party, being well aware that, as the Pretender himself stated,
in a published document, the “Monarch” of the Ultramontanes has no hope
of entering Spain again, save on the waves of a national revolution,
which would bring misery and desolation to thousands of homes.

Let us now see what evidence may be found in incidents that have
occurred and statements that have been published since the regime of
repression was abolished, to support the popular theory of
Jesuit-Carlist intervention in the events of 1909.

The belief, industriously promulgated in Spain and abroad, that Ferrer
engineered and conducted the July outbreak, fell flat, generally
speaking, among the Spanish working people; always excepting, of course,
the more educated elements in the larger industrial cities.

“They are saying that this Ferrer, whoever he may be, paid Morral to
throw the bomb at the King and Queen. If that is true he deserved to be
shot. But others say that the Jesuits themselves paid Morral, and
others again say that Don Carlos employed him.[14] What do _I_ know
about it? The only thing certain is that the Jesuits had a hand in this
Barcelona business, for they have a hand in everything that is bad for
the country. Where the Jesuits are, there are the Carlists also. As for
this Ferrer, who is he? We never heard of him till Maura shot him.”

This commentary on “the execution of an anarchist” or “the martyrdom of
an enthusiast” is, of course, that of the peasantry alone, not that of
the Republicans and Socialists, to whom he was well known long before
the Barcelona riots took place. But let it be remembered that the
unlettered peasant forms the great majority of the working classes in

The calm with which the mass of the nation regarded the affair was,
however, shaken when a report got about that Ferrer was denounced by or
at the instigation of a Dominican monk--even a name being given--who,
having quarrelled with him some years before, had determined to contrive
his destruction. I do not say that there was any foundation for this
vague story. But its ready acceptance as exculpating

[Illustration: SEÑOR MAURA.

Leader of the Ultramontanes.

[To face page 149.]]

Ferrer, by those who had previously been indifferent or hostile to him,
shows how the people twist everything to the prejudice of the Religious
Orders, and believe all evil possible to them. Had the Liberal papers
lent themselves to agitation then, the result might have been serious.
No better incitement to riot could have been found than the story of the
Dominican. The death of Ferrer in itself left the mass of the people
unmoved, but the ease with which churches and monasteries were destroyed
in Barcelona had already set many aggrieved people thinking how easy it
would be to follow Barcelona’s example in other towns where the Jesuits
are numerous, and only a leader and a party-cry were needed to raise the
working classes against the Religious Orders.

The whole of the Opposition Press, however, in spite of great
provocation, as usual stuck to its guns and steadily, continued to
condemn violence and to point out that the duty of the nation, unjustly
deprived of its constitutional rights, was to prove by its
self-restraint and moderation how entirely it was worthy to be trusted.

“If we could only kill Maura without hurting the King,” a working man
said to me, “he would have been dead long ago, for he is the cause of
all our troubles. But the Jesuits would make out that any act of
violence on our part was directed, not against Maura himself, but
against the party which is supposed to support the King; they would
never admit that it was only their friend Maura whom we were attacking,
and it would be made to appear that we were trying to overthrow the
Monarchy. That is why Maura is still alive.” The conviction, and the
rancour expressed in these words, cannot be rendered in print.

The speaker could not read or write. He and some ten or twelve of his
friends were in the habit of meeting quietly together after nightfall,
when no priest or Jesuit was likely to see them. One of the better
instructed, generally a reservist who had “got education while serving
the King,” would read aloud to the rest, and all would discuss the
pronouncements of their chosen newspaper and form a collective opinion
on them. I have sat with many such groups, in small towns and country
villages, and have taken care to notice what newspaper they read. It was
invariably the _Libéral_. It often struck me, during the three months of
“repression,” that Señor Maura literally owed his life to the organs of
the so-called “Trust,” which he and his party accuse of working hand in
hand with the anarchists; for the sentiment recorded above was
expressed in my presence many times by members of the working classes in
connection with Barcelona, the war, the want of education, and all their
other grievances. Maura, the Jesuits, and the Carlists, are regarded as
one by the mass of the nation, and the three-fold hostility is
concentrated on each member of the trinity in turn.

When you have some twelve or thirteen million people brooding over their
grievances, and cherishing the conviction that a certain party in the
State refuses to recognise or redress those grievances because by
preserving the _status quo_ they put money in their own pockets, the
situation becomes serious for the party to which such action, or
inaction, is attributed. And it must be remembered that though the
Spanish peasant can read but little of the literature disseminated by
revolutionaries--anarchists and such-like--across the Pyrenees, an echo
of their campaign can hardly fail to reach him sooner or later.

Several little incidents occurred about this time which, though trivial
in themselves, lend support to the popular view that the Carlists were
at the bottom of the trouble.

Thus we have the disclaimer of participation in the outbreak, by the
_Correo Catalan_, the official organ of the party, synchronising with
the publication of extracts from a “forthcoming” manifesto of Don
Jaime, suggesting the possible expulsion of the King by a revolution, to
which I have already alluded; while early in August the Ultramontane
journals said that a quantity of weapons, which they allege to have been
taken from the hands of the mob, were stored in the Carlist club in
Barcelona. Don Jaime’s full manifesto was not published till November,
when the equivocal passage did not appear. But it is worth observing
that some time before the expected death of the old Pretender his
supporters in the Press had been hinting that those who believed Carlism
to be dead in Spain “would presently see things that would surprise

Then we have the inexplicable favours accorded by the Government to
Señor Llorens, a Carlist Deputy to Cortes and one of the most prominent
of the “Court” of Don Jaime. This gentleman paid more than one visit to
the Army at Melilla, and was allowed privileges at the front which were
granted to no other civilian. The favours shown to him and his own
proceedings were so marked as to call forth outspoken comment from the
_Ejército Español_, a military paper professedly without political bias,
which, after recalling the fact that he is a well-known supporter of the
anti-dynastic party, and had


[To face page 153.]

taken part in the last Carlist war, plainly warned him that any attempt
to tamper with the loyalty of the Army would be in vain, and asked what
was the meaning of the exceptional privileges he enjoyed.

On July 24th a great meeting of the Carlists was held at Trieste on the
occasion of the funeral of Don Carlos, the most noteworthy feature of
which was that on the evening of the same day Don Jaime left his
followers to be entertained by his mother and sisters, and went himself,
it was said, to Frohsdorf. Why did he, on the very day of his father’s
funeral, abandon the delegates of his party when they travelled long
distances to see him and discuss the situation? The rioting at Barcelona
was just then at its height, having begun, it was said, some days sooner
than was intended.

About this time all sorts of reports were spread, calculated to alarm
the country and prejudice it against the Monarchy. The story of the
mutiny and execution of soldiers on their arrival at the front I have
already mentioned. The details of this varied with each telling:
sometimes two men were shot, sometimes nine, often a whole battalion,
once several of them. The immediate preparation of accommodation was
called for for the thousands of sick and wounded, who could not be
received in the already overflowing hospitals. Real sacrifices were made
by the poor to help in these preparations, for every one wished to do
his share for the sufferers; and when at length it became clear that no
wounded were coming, at any rate at that time, and that the demands made
on the public sympathy--for the moment at least--were a sham, much
indignation was naturally aroused. These alarmist reports circulated
with great rapidity, even in remote villages where no one received
newspapers. The people had no hesitation in attributing them to the
parish priests, “who have their own ways of spreading what Jesuits wish
them to make known,” and tales of all sorts of horrors for which they
had been held responsible in the past began to be raked up and repeated
as happenings of the moment. One such tale was of a walled-up nun found
in a convent in Barcelona during the July riots. I took some trouble to
track this story, and finally convinced myself that it was merely an
echo from the past--a tale of the Inquisition or of some monastic crime.
But it formed another instance of the hold that tradition has on the
Spanish peasant, and of the way in which it is combined with the events
of the day to pile up the indictment against the Religious Orders.

I asked some of my middle-class acquaintances on one occasion where was
to be found the “army” of Don Jaime, which I had seen mentioned in the
report of a Carlist meeting. One of them laughed and said it existed
only in the region of comic opera, but another proceeded to explain with
conviction that the Pretender had a strong following in Cataluña and the
Basque Provinces and a good many adherents in Andalusia, and expatiated
at length on the benefits the nation would derive from the autocracy and
the abolition of popular rights, which he seemed to think would bring
about a social millennium.

And while he was speaking I mentally recalled the commentary of one of
the people, to whom I had read aloud Don Jaime’s manifesto, asking
whether he would welcome the advent of the “Legitimist Monarch” in

“Don Jaime? I? I would like to burn him and then blow his ashes to the
winds, and so would all my friends, both men and women. What dealings do
we desire with the seed of Don Carlos? There is no poor man in Spain who
liked Don Carlos or wishes ever to see his son.”

A Basque friend of mine, a highly educated man, whose position as a
large employer of labour enables him to judge fairly of the political
leanings of the people, made the following remark to me one day:

“The Carlists,” he said, “may think they have the Basque Provinces with
them, but they are completely mistaken. The working classes of my
country have no more desire for civil war than those of any other part
of Spain.”

This gentleman is not a man who would use illicit means to influence the
votes of his dependants, and his opinion may be taken as representing
the true state of public opinion in his district. On the other hand, he
said that among his wealthy clients there was no attempt to disguise the
desire for a dynastic change: the portrait of Don Jaime hangs in a place
of honour in many of the great houses which he visits in the course of
his business, and the general devotion of this class to Carlism is open
and avowed.

“But,” he said, “what can be done by a party which is all head and no
body? The army of Don Jaime may be well supplied with would-be officers
and with all the munitions of war, but they have no troops behind them,
in the Basque Provinces or anywhere else.”

His description of the Carlist “army” reminded me of the famous raid of
the Fhairshon:

    “For he did resolve to extirpate the vipers
     With four and twenty men and five and thirty pipers.”




The Church of Spain asserts that its mission is peace, and as has been
said, supported the assertion, when Queen Victoria initiated the
patriotic fund for the sick and wounded at Melilla, by declining as a
body to contribute, on the ground that men of peace would be stultifying
their office if they supported a war fund. When it was pointed out that
the healing of the sick and the binding up of wounds, however incurred,
was as much the Church’s mission as the preaching of peace, the reply
was given that the priests as a class were poor men who could not afford
to give away money. It may be remarked that what they call their poverty
is so well recognised by the working classes that they never dream of
applying to their parish priests when they are in distress; they say it
would be useless to do so, because “the priests do nothing without
securing their fee in advance.”

But for a body whose first duty, on their own showing, is the preaching
of peace, it cannot be denied that the Religious Orders, if not the
secular clergy, are distinctly militant.

While Maura was in office nothing about priests and firearms would have
been allowed to appear in the papers, but about a fortnight after his
fall the _Pais_ asserted that previous to the Barcelona outbreak the
Carlists and Jesuits had accumulated a great quantity of arms in some of
the small towns in Cataluña, which were subsequently conveyed at night
from one religious house to another in Barcelona. And, said the _Pais_,
while the local authorities were imprisoning luckless working men who
neither possessed weapons nor made any sort of revolutionary movement,
the contraband purchase of arms was still going on, “the priests and the
Religious Orders shamelessly lending their aid to it, and the people
keeping silence because they believe that every Government, whatever it
may be called, is either friendly to Carlism or is afraid of it and
cannot or will not interfere with it.”

On reading this article (which the Ultramontane organs did not
contradict) I was reminded of a story which had been told me three
months before by one of my working class friends. A pious old woman, the
wife of a small shopkeeper in a town where there are many religious
houses, went one night to a service at a church attached to a
monastery.[15] The weather was hot and the old woman tired. She fell
sound asleep in a dark corner and woke at midnight to find the church
empty and the doors locked.

Recognising at once that she had no choice but to stay where she was
until morning, she was looking about for the most comfortable bench on
which to pass the night, when she saw a light in the sacristy
communicating with the monastery and heard steps approaching. Fearing
lest the fathers should accuse her of being there with intent to rob the
church, she crawled under a bench and lay trembling. From this position
she saw a number of monks and priests file into the nave, form up in
ranks, and go through various military exercises under the command of
one of the number, who looked and spoke like an officer. The drill
continued for some time, and after it was over the unwilling witness had
to stay where she was until the doors were opened for early Mass, when
she made her escape, ran home as fast as her poor old legs would carry
her, and related what she had seen to her husband and neighbours. This
was told me by a lad who sold fruit to the husband, who declared that he
had heard it from the old woman herself.

At the time I paid no attention to the story, knowing how the dramatic
instinct of the Spaniard lends itself to exaggeration in repeating
anything that appeals to the imagination, and thinking that the whole
thing might have been a dream. But later on I found reason to think
there might be some basis of fact in what was related by my young
fruit-seller. When the _Pais_ article appeared I was told, in the course
of a conversation about it, that a priest in a neighbouring town had
said in the hearing of my interlocutor--of course unaware that he was
listening--that his party were all armed and prepared to shoot “on
sight” every one whom they knew to be inimical to them, directly the
opportunity offered. And thenceforward for some weeks constant reports
of the arming of friars and their lay allies--the “Young Catholics,”
“Luises,” and other such associations--were published by the one party
and denied by the other with equal frequency.

In this connection the following passages from an article in the _Correo
Español_ are rather significant.

“In Barcelona ten Carlists sufficed to prevent the burning of a church,
and put the mob to flight, so that they left in the hands of our friends
the weapons they were carrying in pursuit of their vandalic designs” [an
incident already referred to]. “And there are 100,000 brave men such as
these in Spain.... We are prepared for all! all!! all!!!” (in crescendo
capitals). “The fight, which inevitably had to come sooner or later, has
now begun between Catholics and sectarians, between civilisation and
barbarism, and we must not stop till we have destroyed them.”

It all reads like transpontine melodrama, and as such I at first
regarded it. But when day after day announcements appeared that new
Carlist clubs were being opened in one small town after another, when
Señor Llorens returned from his second sojourn with the troops, loaded
with plans, sketches, reports, and what not, relating to the campaign
and the general condition of the Army there, and openly announced that
he had obtained them for Don Jaime, and when, although the people were
shouting songs of defiance to the Carlists and their “King,” the
militant “Catholic Association of Social Defence” announced that it had
increased its working class membership from 31,000 to 200,000, one began
to wonder whether the Carlist “army” might be something more than comic

The stories related of secret arming and drilling in the churches at
night are obviously not capable of verification by a layman and a
foreigner,[17] but that the Jesuits in Barcelona were armed before the
revolt began, and used their arms with skill, seems certain. A near
relative of one of these warlike men of religion told me that they had
twice driven back the mob by firing from their balconies, so it seems
fair to assume that when the newspapers talked of the shooting down of
the crowd by the Jesuits they had some ground for their statement.
Civilians in Barcelona found in the possession of arms were arrested,
even though they had not used them, but it does not appear that the
Jesuits incurred any penalty for using their weapons on the mob.

One mysterious feature in the events of that week has never been cleared
up, and possibly never will be.

On the first two days of the rioting there was fighting about the
barricades which had been raised in many of the central streets, but the
scarcity of firearms among the rioters was noticeable, a large number of
them being without arms of any kind. Mainly, no doubt, in consequence of
this, the struggle was practically over by the third day, after which
there was no more street fighting, the troops occupied the city, and the
attack on the Religious Orders, which might so easily have spread all
over Spain, was at an end.

Yet, notwithstanding that the fighting was over, shooting from the roofs
of the houses went on for two days more. No one ever saw those who
fired: the shots came from invisible persons concealed behind the
parapets and other sheltered positions. And, what was the more
remarkable, whether the shooting was in working class districts, or, as
was frequently the case, from houses in those quarters of the city where
rich men live, the noise of the report and the bullets which were found
were always the same. The “man on the roof” invariably used a Browning
pistol, a weapon not easily procured by a poor artisan. Thirty, forty,
fifty such shots would be fired in succession, the troops would hurry up
to the roof from which the bullets came, find no one there, and see
nothing suspicious, yet hear the rattle of the shots again as they
returned to their duty in the street below. A civilian who ran up the
stairs from the ground floor in one of the “haunted” houses told me that
although several shots were fired as he ran, no one was to be seen
above, except a young priest professedly on the same errand as his own.

It was said that among the many people arrested there was at least one
priest. But nothing more was heard of him, and whether he was released
as innocent, or allowed to disappear, was not revealed to the public.

No one has yet explained who organised the expensively-armed
sharpshooters who displayed such remarkable skill in firing from an
elevation without being caught in the act. The people believe that they
were members of the clerical party whose object was to exasperate the
troops against the rioters who were supposed to be firing at them, and
thus to bring about a fight in which the whole town should be involved.
Meanwhile Don Jaime was to convert the mêlée into an organised
revolution against the established order of things, which should spread
from Barcelona all over Cataluña, and from Cataluña throughout Spain.
This, for what it is worth, is the popular explanation of one of the
most mysterious features in the “anarchist” rising of July, 1909.

But the people go farther still. They attribute not only the incidents
of July, but the whole of the political unrest in Cataluña to the
underground activities of the Carlists and their allies the
Ultramontanes. It is firmly believed by the unlettered peasantry, who
read or listened to the accounts of the beginnings and endings of the
“Red Week,” that the emissaries of the Pretender planned and carried out
every incident that led up to the general strike with which the rioting

The protest against the calling out of the reservists--the greatest
error of the many committed by the Government at that time--was said to
have been engineered by the Carlists. It was not spontaneous and found
no real echo in the feeling of the nation.

The next step was to proclaim a general strike, but even then there was
so little idea among the working classes that anything like violence was
intended, that women and children strolled out to the meeting-place as
for an outing, with the men who were unconsciously being led into
action which was to brand them as revolutionaries and assassins.

To this day no one has been able to say how or why the rioting began.
The only thing clear is that the great majority of the strikers expected
and intended to proceed peaceably to formulate their demands, although
no one knows exactly what these were to be, for no formal report of the
strikers’ complaints, or even of the factories they worked in, has ever
been published.

The Civil Governor, Señor Osorio, objected to the calling out of the
troops, and fell into permanent disgrace with Maura and his Cabinet for
saying that but for the undue harshness employed by the military
authorities, the rising would never have attained serious proportions.
He was dismissed from his post--perhaps inevitably, since he had not
foreseen events. It is worth noting that the week before the riots the
Government had expressed themselves as perfectly satisfied with the
tranquil condition of Barcelona under Señor Osorio, and had withdrawn
most of the troops in garrison in the province.

Meanwhile the Ultramontane Press never wearied of repeating
blood-curdling tales of the awful scenes of carnage, rapine, and
sacrilege, brought about by the teaching given in the lay schools, a
hundred of which, they said, Maura had been compelled to close in order
to put an end to a system of education which produced such horrors: and
since the Opposition newspapers were not allowed to publish a line
without the sanction of Señor La Cierva, the Minister of the Interior,
the nation, had it read the Ultramontane papers, would have supped its
fill of uncontradicted libels upon the working people of Cataluña. But
the nation does not read the Ultramontane papers. The Press of that
party, indeed, admits the exiguousness of its circulation by pathetic
appeals to the faithful to furnish money for the propaganda which in
Ultramontane opinion constitutes the only hope of arresting the crimes
born of the instruction given in the lay schools, and fostered by the
seditious labours of the _Liberal_. But although the people closed their
ears to the fulminations of the Church papers, the hand of the Church
lay heavy on all Spain in 1909, for the continual reports of bombs and
arrests, and the whispered tales of the secret drilling and arming of
“good Catholics,” kept everybody on the rack, fearing they knew not
what. The slow progress of the campaign in Melilla, the constant arrival
of shiploads of sick and wounded, and the impossibility of obtaining
trustworthy news of what was really going on, filled the cup of anxiety,
and every one was in low spirits, for every family had friends or
relatives in the war.

Meanwhile Don Jaime, in his castle of Frohsdorf, was occupied in editing
a verbose document which he published later on, addressed “to those
loyal to me.” The gist of this was that as long as Spain was engaged in
war he would make no move, but that when the flag waved victorious he
would remember that he had to fulfil unavoidable duties imposed by his
birth. “And,” said he, “social order, shaken by the revolution, is
tottering to its foundations. And this not so much from the attack of
anarchical crowds as from the cowardice of the powers who make compact
with them, delivering themselves as hostages in order to save their life
and property. In the violent struggle which is approaching between
civilisation and barbarism I yield to no one the first place in the
vanguard in the fight for society and the country.”

Curiously enough, an incident in which the nation at large took very
little interest nearly proved the last straw. This was the execution of

Everything had been done beforehand to excite the public over the
affair. Columns upon columns of matter prejudging the case had filled
the Ultramontane Press for weeks, while the _Sociedad Editorial_ and the
republican _Pais_ were accused of complicity with the prisoner because
they pointed out that the publication of incriminating documents alleged
to have been found in his house, before the Court had pronounced them
genuine, was contrary to all the principles of justice. In Republican
and Socialist circles this action on the part of the Government--for
copies of the documents in question were sent to the Press by persons in
Government employ--produced the indignation that might be
expected--indignation that probably was counted upon to bring about an
outbreak of violence. But the mass of the people, thanks to their lack
of education, knew and cared very little about Ferrer and his alleged
offences against society.

While all Europe was excited about the fate of the founder of the lay
schools, the Spanish people, believed abroad to be seething with anarchy
and sedition, were peaceably if dispiritedly pursuing their usual
avocations, only interested in Ferrer, if they took any interest in him
at all, as another victim of the tyranny of the Church, whose “tool,” as
they call Maura, had brought Spain so low.

This was because the _Sociedad Editorial_, and especially the
_Liberal_, laboured as indefatigably to keep the temper of the people
within bounds as their opponents on the Ultramontane press laboured to
produce irritation. At one period in the protracted controversy I
wondered whether the editors or staff of the _Sociedad Editorial_ could
actually be unaware of the lies spread broadcast concerning the
political party for which they stand, so temperate in quality and so
limited in quantity were their comments on the foreign campaign against
the honour of the Spanish nation. But I soon came to understand that it
was not ignorance of what was going on, although the Censorship used all
its wits to keep foreign newspapers out of the Liberal-Monarchist
newspaper offices. It was the deliberate policy of the wise and
far-sighted Liberal-Monarchist party to keep their working-class readers
in the dark about the Ferrer incident, because they knew that if the
mass of the people became aware of the attack upon their honour, a civil
war between the Ultramontanes and the people would have broken out
within a week.

It seems impossible to doubt that the desire of those who pull the
strings that work the Ultramontane party leaders was to provoke such a
war. The declaration of the _Correo Catalan_ that a hundred thousand
good Catholics were ready to follow the example of the Jesuits who
fired on the crowd in Barcelona and to “go all lengths” against the
forces of “anarchy” bears no other interpretation. The
Liberal-Monarchists, who know that in any such war the people would
stand as one man for the King and the Constitution against the
Ultramontanes with the hated Pretender at their head, might have been
excused had they dallied with the idea of sweeping out the Religious
Orders by force, and thus settling once for all the eternal quarrel
between the State and the Church of Rome. But no such course of action
would have been admitted as possible by Moret, who is, and will remain
while he lives, the spiritual if not the ostensible leader of his party.
Well aware that he was offending the more advanced and impetuous among
his followers, and that he was being accused of lukewarmness in
defending the Liberal party from attacks both at home and abroad, Moret
firmly pursued his lifelong policy of conciliation instead of
provocation, and it was thanks to his firmness alone, during the last
three months of Maura’s rule, that Spain was not once more thrust into
the horrors of internecine strife.

The week before Maura’s Government fell the Radical and Republican party
in Madrid demanded permission to hold a meeting on the following
Sunday, to protest against what they considered the illegality of a
trial in which witnesses for the defence were not summoned. The
organising committee frankly stated that whether Maura gave leave or
not, the demonstration would equally take place.

What might have happened had the Ultramontane Government still been in
office on the day of the demonstration, no one can pretend to say. But
in the meantime the climax came and the Maura Government fell, amid
general rejoicings. The demonstrations took place, not only in Madrid
but in all the large towns, and were in every case conducted with the
most perfect order. Their original object seemed to be lost sight of in
the satisfaction at the change of Government. The speakers said very
little about Ferrer, because Ferrer was of so little interest to the
people; in the majority of cases the demonstrators limited themselves to
a protest against Maura’s policy and a demand that he should never hold
office again.

The Religious Orders were, or professed to be, in a state of panic
terror when the demonstrations were announced. They declared that they
expected violence, incendiarism, and robbery; treasures of gold and
silver work, images, paintings, &c., were removed to private houses for


[To face page 174.]]

safe keeping; and the general exhibition of alarm on the part of friars,
nuns, and parish priests made them a laughing-stock to the working
classes for the month during which the demonstrations continued. The
Civil Guard were sent, at the request of the ecclesiastical authorities,
to assist the friars in their projected self-defence and to instil
courage into the trembling nuns, and the garrisons were everywhere kept
in barracks in readiness for attacks which nobody dreamed of making. A
Civil Guard told me, with a twinkle in his eye, that he and his
companion had sat up all night in the portal of a convent, knowing all
the time that they might just as well have been in their beds for all
the danger the convent was in. No doubt many nuns seriously believed
their houses to be in peril, although the Jesuits must have been
perfectly aware of the truth, and it is not easy to find words in which
to characterise the folly, to say no worse, of a policy which tries to
forward its ends by permitting women cut off and completely ignorant of
the world to spend hours of misery anticipating dangers which their
leaders must know to be imaginary.

It cannot, however, be denied that the deep-seated and chronic hostility
of the people to the Religious Orders became manifest all over Spain,
as reports of panic-stricken friars spread from mouth to mouth,
converting their traditional dread of the Church into a feeling of
contempt. The working-class Spaniards fear the underground action of the
Church because they know it may mean starvation for their wives and
children. But it was something new for them to see the “long skirts”
fleeing from Cataluña in fear of their lives, and the spectacle led to
open exhibitions of scorn, which are a new feature in the history of the
Church in Spain.

There were not wanting either journalists or private persons to hint
that the alarm shown by the Religious Orders at the demonstrations
against Señor Maura was fictitious, and a renewal of the Catalonian
riots would have suited their plans. It was said that the slightest
hostile action on the part of the working classes would have been made
the signal for a Carlist rising, and that numbers of priests and monks,
as well as civilians of that party, were armed in readiness for such a

This was why the organisers of the demonstration so urgently appealed to
their followers not to be provoked into recrimination by “persons
subsidised by the other party, who would place themselves among the
demonstrators with the intention of causing disturbances.” They thought
it necessary to warn the public that what might seem the merest act of
personal aggression on the part of an ordinary loafer might really be
the initiation of an organised plan to raise a serious revolt. And they
prayed their friends to bear in mind that persons committing such acts
of aggression might be the secret agents of the Jesuits, and therefore
on no account to be induced to retaliate. These appeals were issued in
leaflets which were distributed by the thousand in all the towns where
demonstrations were to be held, and no doubt contributed largely to the
self-restraint and good conduct of the crowd everywhere.

If the organisers were justified in believing that the Jesuits wanted to
create disturbances, the angry and exceedingly untruthful comments on
these leaflets in the Ultramontane Press might be accounted for. They
were described as deliberate incentives to the usual list of
crimes--incendiarism, sacrilege, &c.--and “good Catholics” were ordered
to destroy any that fell into their hands without reading the infamies
uttered by the “anarchist canaille.” Naturally the description given by
the Clericalists of their opponents’ circular only excited the curiosity
of the “good Catholics.” The “good” working man read the paper with the
added interest given by its prohibition, and finding nothing criminal
in it, went with the rest to the meeting to hear what it was all about.
It is quite likely that the Church’s anathema of the essentially
constitutional leaflets issued in most of the industrial cities on the
first two Sundays of November, 1909, resulted in making new converts to
Liberalism among the small minority of working men who till then were
still following the dictates of the priests.




I have already referred to the popular belief that the riots in
Barcelona in July, 1909, were deliberately instigated by the Jesuits and
the Carlists acting in concert, the object of the Churchmen being
primarily to provide an excuse for closing the lay schools established
by Ferrer, the hope of the Pretender and his party being that the
disturbances would spread and assume the proportions of a revolution,
“on the waves” of which he hoped to ride to the throne.

As the course of events in Barcelona which culminated in the “Red Week”
has not unnaturally perplexed foreign observers, it may be worth while,
in the absence of any proof as to who was at the bottom of the trouble,
to suggest a hypothesis which at any rate has the merit of giving a
plausible explanation of the incidents.

Throughout the three years that Señor Maura was at the head of affairs,
Barcelona had been in a state of continual unrest and anxiety. Bomb
outrages were reported every two or three weeks with monotonous
regularity, but strange to say, the explosions seldom or never took
place in public buildings or in places where people congregate. Now and
then some inoffensive passerby was killed or wounded, and once in a way
an insignificant house would be damaged more or less seriously. But the
total injuries inflicted by this long series of bombs were so few that
the object of their authors must have been to terrorise rather than to
kill. When the King and Queen went to Barcelona in the autumn of 1908,
the inevitable bomb was let off--or was reported to have been let
off--on the sea shore, where no one could possibly have been hurt by it.

Here, by way of parenthesis, I should like to call attention to the
courage and devotion to duty shown by both the King and the Queen on
this occasion. It was considered advisable by the Ultramontane
Government that the young wife and mother should accompany her husband
to the city which has been made to bear such an evil reputation as the
home of anarchy and sedition. The nation watched the proceedings with
admiration. “What courage the Queen had, to face the chance of another
bomb being exploded in her presence so soon after that tragedy in
Madrid!” said those who appreciated the human fear which they knew must
be concealed under the smiles demanded by the exigencies of her
position. Not a word of this was permitted to appear in the Press, of
course. It was only the common talk of the common people. But one little
paragraph slipped, through some mismanagement, into a popular paper,
which revealed the Queen’s realisation of the danger she might be
running. It was to the effect that “the alteration of their Majesties’
itinerary, by which they would spend two days in Madrid instead of
travelling direct to Cataluña from Vienna, was dictated by the Queen’s
wish to embrace her children before going to Barcelona.” The next day
the paragraph was corrected by a careful explanation that the Queen had
wished to see the royal children because they were suffering from
childish ailments. But the people were not deceived by the second
notice. They said that Doña Victoria’s conduct was worthy of a Queen of

I do not believe that the people of Barcelona would hurt a hair of Queen
Victoria’s head, nor that they would have raised a hand against King
Alfonso had he appeared there during the riots of 1909: what advantage
his secret enemies might have taken of his presence during the
disturbances is another matter. And my personal belief is that the
people of Barcelona were not responsible for any of the bomb outrages
which have made their city a byword in Europe.

Two things go to show that the industrial classes in Barcelona had
nothing to do with the bombs. The first is that they are too clever to
commit stupid crimes by which their class could not possibly benefit.
The second is that during the “Red Week,” when Barcelona was given over
to mob law, the mob, said to be responsible for the bomb outrages, did
not explode a single bomb. It is not likely that if letting off bombs
were the favourite occupation of the criminal classes of Barcelona, they
would have lost the opportunities afforded them during the first three
days of the riots. Yet when the rising was quelled and the whole
province was under martial law, the bombs began again, and twenty-three
were reported to have been exploded between August 15th and October

The stringent censorship exercised then and for three months afterwards
prevented Europe from hearing of either this remarkable feature of the
riots or their real object. But every one in Spain knew perfectly well
that the riots were directed solely against the Religious Orders,
whereas the bomb outrages never affected a building belonging to the
Church or a person attached to the Clericalist party so long as Maura
held office.

Is there any previous instance in history of a mob, said to be composed
of the lowest and most degraded of the community, firing monasteries,
convents, and churches, while they left public buildings, banks, and
rich men’s dwellings untouched? Is there any other revolt on record in
which troops of people containing the dregs of the criminal classes
protected and brought food to orphanages supported by the objects of
their attack? And can we find a parallel, in the circumstances, to the
organisation which had the markets opened for two hours every morning
and kept its forces under such complete discipline that during those two
hours persons of either sex could walk all over the town secure from

These things I have heard from people of unimpeachable veracity who were
in Barcelona at the time; not only Catalans and Spaniards, but also
foreigners unconnected with any political party. I do not attempt to
deny that some half-hundred or so of buildings belonging to the Church
and the Religious Orders were damaged or destroyed, nor that many evil
deeds were done by the criminal hangers-on of the movement; nor do I at
all desire to minimise the crime of destroying property to gratify
feelings of personal revenge. But I do say that the mob, as a mob,
behaved with extraordinary self-restraint, and proved by their conduct
that they had no complicity with the miscreants who for so long
terrorised the unoffending inhabitants of Barcelona by exploding bombs,
without apparent intent to injure.

No one disputes that every suspect in the province was imprisoned or
fled from the country when the iron hand of military law closed on the
insurgents. Nevertheless the bomb outrages began again after the “Red
Week” came to an end, and only ceased with the fall of Maura and his
Cabinet of repression.

I have related in the previous chapter the continued shooting from the
roofs of the town, after the riots were quelled, by persons who were
never seen, and the stories that were told of the secret arming of the
Religious Orders. When we remember that the hope of the Ultramontanes
lies in a Carlist restoration, which is only possible through a
revolution, and that a revolution cannot be brought about except by
fomenting unrest and discontent in the country, and when further we
recall that the bomb explosions ceased with the fall of Maura’s
Ministry, when the officials of a Government not in sympathy with the
aspirations of the Religious Orders might have instituted inconvenient
inquiries had the bombs continued, it may at any rate be conjectured, in
the absence of any evidence as to who instigated this long series of
comparatively harmless outrages, that their authors were the only party
who expected to benefit by a subversion of the social order such as
might have ensued had the patience of the people given way under this
long series of provocations. This theory of the bombs, I may add, is
that held by the working classes.

From the moment that Moret took office in October, 1909, Barcelona began
to resume her normal aspect, although the constitutional rights were not
restored until the new Civil Governor and the new Captain-General had
taken possession of their respective offices and reported that the whole
province was quiet.

From that date a strict watch was kept upon newspaper reports of
explosions, and the _Heraldo_ got into trouble for publishing a
paragraph saying that what proved to have been merely a slight explosion
of gas was a bomb. The authorities at once explained to the Press that
the explosion was purely accidental, and that no one in Barcelona had
for a moment believed it to be otherwise, yet the report that it was a
bomb had reached the _Heraldo_ office in a form circumstantial enough to
deceive an experienced editor.

It is not surprising, therefore, that doubts are now expressed whether a
good many of the alleged bombs may not have been as fictitious as this
last. The persons who let them off, or were supposed to have let them
off, in order to maintain unrest in Barcelona, could certainly have
provided means to deceive the Press, as in the attempt upon the
_Heraldo_, frustrated by the prompt action of the Civil Governor.

Two or three bombs, if they can be given so imposing a name, were
exploded in Zaragoza in December, 1909, under the conditions which had
become so familiar to Barcelona under the Maura regime. They were made
of bits of old iron, mixed with some mild form of explosive and placed
in a meat tin, the whole being wrapped in a black cotton material, said
to be of the same make as that found on remains of bombs at Barcelona.
The tin cans on these occasions were placed in or near the porch of a
convent church, and no harm was done beyond some slight damage to the
plaster on the walls. The progressive Press, freed from censorship,
expressed the conviction that this affair was the work of the monks,
desirous of raising disturbances in Zaragoza because they were now
powerless to do so in Barcelona, with the result that the public
remained entirely indifferent to the incident. One cannot but hope,
therefore, that that may have been the expiring effort of the
bomb-throwers, whatever their real purpose was and whoever their
employers may have been.

I should like, before closing this branch of my subject, to point out
once more the wide differences that exist between the methods, objects,
and results of the Barcelona and Zaragoza bomb outrages and those of
similar attempts elsewhere on the Continent. The murderous anarchist
makes a direct attack on the personage whose death he believes to be
necessary to the furtherance of his political creed, and when he lets
off a bomb he takes care that it shall do as much damage as possible,
regardless of risk to himself. Abhorrent though the creed of the
militant anarchist is, he has at least the courage of his convictions,
since he so frequently pays the penalty of his act with his life. The
wretch who tried to murder the King and Queen of Spain on their
wedding-day was the tool of some one working on the usual anarchist
lines, and his crime bore no resemblance in detail to the work of the
mysterious party interested in terrorising, without injuring, the
inhabitants of Barcelona.

A volume of school statistics published in November, 1909, to which
further reference is made in another chapter, shows that there are in
Spain 91 protestant and 107 lay schools, 43 of which are in Barcelona.
On the other hand, there are 5,000 private Catholic schools, in addition
to some 25,000 Government schools, in which the rudiments of the
Catholic religion are supposed to be taught. These few Protestant and
lay schools are the subject of furious and unceasing abuse from the
Clericalist party and Press, who make every effort to traduce and vilify
them. It would not be edifying, nor is it necessary, to cull specimens
of their flowers of invective: the language in which the _odium
theologicum_ is habitually expressed is tolerably well known. The
schools in Barcelona, many of which were established by Ferrer, who
devoted his fortune to the work of education, are the special subject of
clerical hostility, and there is no doubt that they cost him his life.
As far as can be learnt about these schools the teaching given in them
contains absolutely nothing of the socialistic or anarchistic or other
doctrines subversive of society of which their enemies so freely accuse
them. They are more or less hostile to the form of religion taught by
the Church in Spain, which is the chief reason for the venom with which
they are attacked; but setting this on one side, there is, I am credibly
informed, nothing either in the text-books used or the teaching given to
which objection need be taken.

Nevertheless the Clericalist campaign against these schools is carried
on without intermission, and at the end of February, 1910, about the
time that Moret fell, unusual efforts were made against them. Thus in
Valencia several thousands of priests and friars, ladies of the
aristocracy, and members of the militant religious associations filled
the great open-air theatre of Jai-Alai: a telegram giving the Papal
benediction to the objects of the meeting was read, and cheers for the
Pretender were raised at intervals during the afternoon. The reactionary
papers asserted that twenty thousand people were present on this
occasion, and although this was doubtless an exaggeration, no one
attempted to deny that a very large number attended.

The number of public bodies and associations said to have sent letters
and telegrams of adherence to the objects of the meeting would be
alarming to any one unacquainted with the arithmetical methods employed
on these occasions in Spain. The grand total was given at 280,000,
“composed of 100 newspapers, 83 town councils, 135 mayors, 429 clubs,
1,714 congregations, and 272 parishes.” But no names of these parishes
and congregations were given, and verification of the figures is
impossible. It was also said that “9,000” ladies who had been present at
the meeting subsequently left their cards on the Civil Governor.

Admission to the meeting was by ticket, and there were not wanting
working men who declared that whole villages had been coerced into
attending by the action of their priests and their caciques, but I give
this for what it is worth. It is, however, safe to say that the great
majority of those present were priests and friars, and members of the
upper classes. Only one speech by a working man was mentioned in the
long report published in the _Correo Español_, although the Clericalist
papers always give prominence to the smallest indication of sympathy
with their cause on the part of the people.

The really serious feature in the affair was the Papal benediction of
the speakers and the audience. There is nothing in the Constitution to
forbid the existence of the lay schools, to protest against which the
meeting was held. Thus the Pope, by his benediction, set the seal of his
approval upon an effort to subvert, in this respect, the Constitution
of the country. But, further, the introduction by the speakers of the
name of the Pretender and the reception given to references to him
turned the whole affair into a frankly seditious gathering. The Pope’s
support of the meeting was the more significant because his official
reception of Don Jaime at the Vatican had been reported by the Spanish
and foreign Press a few days before.

The Valencia meeting was followed by others in many of the large towns,
and about this time Count Romanones, in his capacity of Minister of
Education, closed a lay school[18] on the pretext that it was
insanitary, but this only irritated the Liberals without conciliating
the Church party, and Romanones hastily declared that the school would
be re-opened as soon as certain structural alterations had been made.

On February 27th a Clericalist meeting was held at Bilbao, at which,
notwithstanding the efforts of the police and Civil Guards, serious
disturbances occurred. The circulars inviting people to the meeting were
so inflammatory in tone that the Civil Governor found it necessary to
suppress some of them. The following extracts from one of these will
give an idea of the kind of language employed.

“In the name of religion outraged, and society menaced with total ruin
... and in the name of our own personal independence, closely bound up
with the faith in our souls, let us go to the Catholic meeting to
protest against the ignorance of those who desire to separate us from
all other civilised nations, tearing faith and Christian morality from
the souls of the young, together with all decency, all virtue, and every
quality necessary to human dignity.... We unite our voices with those of
all Catholics, speaking through the mouths of the most eminent men of
science, to condemn this monstrous birth engendered by error and lies.”

The Liberal element in Bilbao is strong, and naturally great indignation
was created among the working classes by these insults to their politics
and religion. Down to that date there had been no lay school in the
city, but now it was announced that one would be opened immediately.

The noteworthy feature of this meeting was a denunciation of the
Conservatives by a Carlist speaker, who included them with the Liberals
in his fulmination against the “cowardly incendiaries of Barcelona,”
urging the Catholics “to have done with patient endurance and enter
upon the period of action.” The result of this was that the
Conservatives of Bilbao refrained from sending any representative of
their party to the banquet given after the meeting to the orators who
had spoken at it, thus definitely dissociating themselves from the
policy of the Clericalists in their city.

I have made special mention of two of these demonstrations against the
lay schools, one because of its magnitude and importance, the other
because of its results. To chronicle more of them would be tedious and
unnecessary. The campaign against these schools is unceasing: the
defence is by no means equal in vigour to the attack, and is limited to
articles now and then in the _Pais_ and an occasional meeting in their
support. Whether this apparent indifference is due to weakness on the
part of those who uphold the lay schools, or to a feeling of strength
which can afford to despise the fulminations of opponents, I am unable
to say. It is a quarrel, as the satirist says,

    “_Ubi tu pulsas, ego vapulo tantum._”


[Illustration: A CONSCRIPT.

[To face page 199.]



It is allowed that great abuses were committed by those in power during
the long war in Cuba, which ended with the struggle in the United States
and the final expulsion of Spain from the last of her American colonies,
and it is common knowledge that the munitions, provisions, and all the
supplies of the Army fell lamentably short of what was required. It may
be imagined, therefore, that the survivors of these long years of
warfare brought back stories of experiences little calculated to inspire
their friends with confidence in the governing classes, who were
responsible for such shortcomings. Fully to appreciate the difference
between the sentiment of the Army to-day and what it was so late as
1901, when the defeated troops from the lost colonies came home with
their tale of suffering, it is necessary to show what convictions have
had to be changed and what prejudices overcome by Don Alfonso before he
could win the place which he now holds in the affections of his

I will only deal with the rank and file, whose loyalty is even of more
importance to the nation than that of the officers. My own impression is
that, after making all due allowance for differences in politics and
traditions, the great majority of the Spanish officers to-day are
staunch supporters of the Monarchy and the Constitution they have sworn
to uphold. But beyond putting on record my private opinion, formed on
the utterances of officers of all arms, I do not propose to deal with
this side of the question.

It was natural that reminiscences of the Cuban and American Wars should
be continually brought forward during the operations in Morocco, and
that the popular expectation of the treatment the troops would there
receive should be based on what took place in Cuba; and it was
inevitable that the unlettered mass of the community, agitated as they
were in the early days of the war by rumours of wholesale massacre and
tales of thousands of dead and wounded, should have imagined that their
friends and relatives were once more being sacrificed without mercy on
the altar of political corruption. Not long ago I heard the following
conversation among a party of working people who were entertaining a
soldier at a tavern on the eve of his departure for Melilla.

“Poor fellow!” said a stout elderly matron, with a tear in her eye. “So
young and so good-looking, to be killed by the Moors!”

“Don’t distress yourself, Señora,” said the lad, a slim, active young
fellow. “I’m going to make mincemeat of at least eight before they kill
me, and I shall be in no greater danger there than up at the mines
of ----, where I was knocked to pieces by a landslide. Three months I’ve
been in hospital, and it’s just like my luck to be called out to Melilla
the moment I get out. I’m not afraid. If they kill me it can’t hurt more
than that landslide did.”

“He’ll sing a different song when he gets out there,” remarked an
elderly man gloomily. “I know how the soldiers are treated--not enough
to eat, and that bad, no clothes, no beds, and no cartridges to put into
their rifles when they go into action. I saw it with my own eyes in

I ventured to suggest that Melilla was nearer to the resources of Spain
than Cuba, and that the general condition of military affairs had
considerably improved of late years.

“Don’t you believe it!” said the old soldier. “The Government sold Cuba
to put money into their own pockets, and they will do the same in
Morocco. Do you know what happened to us one day in the Cuban War? We
found ourselves attacked by the enemy, and we had nothing, _nothing_ to
fight with. There were no officers; the chiefs were in a safe place,
spending the money they had robbed us of (for we got no pay), and the
inferiors were hiding from the Cubanos wherever they could, behind us,
to be out of the fighting. I assure you this is true. When the Cubanos
came upon us we tried to load the guns, but many of the balls did not
fit, and we had no wadding.[19] We tore up our white drawers and our
shirts to make wadding, but what was the good? It was hopeless for us to
fight. And seeing the enemy upon us and we helpless to defend ourselves,
we went mad with rage and despair and turned on each other, not knowing
what we were doing. It was all the fault of the Jesuits at home, who
stole the money which the nation gave for the Army. And it will be the
same thing now with this Maura and his Jesuits, you will see!”

“It is all quite true,” said another old man. “My son has often told me
the same. He said they tied their officers to the gun-carriages in

[Illustration: A FORT ON MOUNT GURUGÚ.

The War in Melilla.]

his company more than once to prevent them from running away. They said:
‘If we, the common soldiers, are to be killed like flies, at least you,
the officers, shall take your share.’”

With such traditions firmly embedded in the popular belief, it would not
have been surprising had a real spirit of mutiny been shown on the
calling out the reservists in July, 1909. But this was not the case.

In an interview given to a representative of _Le Journal_ of Paris, in
November, 1909, by General Primo de Rivera, who was Minister of War
previous to the disasters of July, that officer threw some light on
Señor Maura’s conduct of military affairs, and explained why he had no
alternative but to retire from office, to be abused by the Clericalists
in power as “unpatriotic” for so doing. Here is a brief résumé of his

“From the moment I took office, foreseeing what was brewing at Melilla,
I began to fortify our positions in the Riff. Expecting that General
Marina would need reinforcements, I brought the regiments of the
Cazadores del Campo de Gibraltar up to their full strength, and put the
Orozco Division, in all three arms of the service, on a war footing. In
order to secure rapidity of transport, I contracted with the
Transatlantica Company to make the voyage in twenty-four hours, on only
four hours’ notice. When General Linares replaced me in the Ministry, he
thought fit to improvise all that was required, and this caused complete
disorganisation in the Army. He refused to call out the divisions which
I had held in readiness, and by drawing the troops from Cataluña not
only gave rise to the melancholy events of the “Red Week,” but rendered
it necessary to incorporate many reservists who had married and set up
homes in the belief that they were free from service, thus bringing
misery on thousands of previously contented families. And after all this
mismanagement it was necessary in the end to send the Orozco Division
which I had prepared so long before.”

At the time one heard on all sides the question: “Why does the
Government call out the reservists while the Orozco Division stands idle
at home?” to which there has never been any reply but that of the
people, who said: “The Government wants the war to go on because it
suits the Jesuits, who are making a fortune out of it.”

But notwithstanding the acute distress throughout the country, the
reports of an organised and widespread protest against the calling out
of the reserves, which flooded the foreign Press at the time, were
entirely unjustified and incorrect. Parents in Madrid wrote, full of
anxiety, to their children in provincial towns, saying: “What is all
this we hear about disturbances in your city? What is happening? What
have the reservists been doing?” While the children were writing with
equal urgency to ask what was amiss in the capital, that “such bad
things” were being said of the soldiers in Madrid. I know these reports
were spread, for I was asked to read aloud more than one such letter by
working people who could not read for themselves.

It was not long before the people discovered that they had been deceived
and vilified by some persons unknown, who were making it their business
to represent Spain as in the throes of a revolution, and it was then
that they became convinced that the rising in Cataluña, represented by
the Government as springing from a protest against the calling out of
the reserves, was in fact a Carlist plot, gone wrong so far as the
Carlists were concerned.

As one travelled about the country in 1909 it seemed as if every village
had sent one or more of its sons to Melilla. Yet, although their
families made sure that they were going straight to destruction, few
endeavours were made to evade the call to arms.

I heard one man, an artisan, say with a shrug of his shoulders that he
was going because he might as well be shot in action as shot for a
deserter at home, and I saw another fling himself flat on the platform
when the train came in, howling that “he was afraid of being killed and
didn’t want to go to the war.” The first was a professed republican; the
second, as the bystanders promptly informed me, was “drunk, as usual.”

Very likely there were other cases of the same kind, but they were
certainly exceptional. I made it my business to travel as much as I
could at that time, on purpose to observe the people, for, knowing the
Spanish peasant, I did not believe the tales current in the foreign
Press of his cowardly and mutinous conduct, and I wished to see for
myself how he behaved. I saw no such disgraceful exhibitions as were
described by English and French journalists.

The conversations that I overheard were very naïve: not at all the talk
of a rebellious people, notwithstanding the tales of suffering in Cuba
and in the Carlist wars which balked so large in the popular

“My son! my son!” wailed one woman. “They will kill thee! I shall never
see thee again!”

“Hush, mother!” answered the young man. “Rest assured that if they do
kill me I shall have killed plenty of them first.”

“Why will they not let us women go too!” cried another mother. “We could
kill all the _Moras_ [female Moors] and then they would bring no more
little Moors into the world to be the ruin of Spain.”

It was curious to observe how the eternal race-hatred came out at the
very name of Moor--the tradition of the long contest between Christian
and Moslem. The Moors of Morocco cannot be held to have inflicted any
serious injury on the nation for many centuries past, yet such is the
force of ancient tradition among the peasantry that the very name of
_Moro_ calls forth the cry, “They are the ruin of Spain,” and if you ask
for an explanation you will be told that “The Moors are always pressing
upon us and trying to take our country from us.”

One pathetic yet humorous incident was related by the Infanta Doña Paz
(aunt to Don Alfonso) in a letter which she wrote to the Press about
this time, exhorting her fellow-countrywomen to have patience and be of
good courage. Describing her experiences of the patriotism of the men
and the devotion of the women, she told how a poor mother, learning that
her son was ordered to report himself for service, followed him from
village to village, as he pursued his avocation of pedlar, carrying his
regimental trousers, which had been put away in the family
clothes-chest. When she found him at last, there was barely time for him
to catch the appointed train, and the two hurried together to the
station with the trousers flapping like a flag as they ran.

The sons of mothers like these do not shirk their duty when called upon
to fight for their country. I believe that if the whole truth were told,
we should find that no one was more indignant at the protest supposed to
have been initiated by the working classes of Barcelona than the
reservists whose grievances were its ostensible object.

Fresh from an exceptionally rough crossing, weak with sea-sickness,
rusty in their drill after three years of home life, the reservists who
sailed from Barcelona found themselves led straight from the ship on to
the field of battle. This I had from a naval officer on the man-of-war
that took them out.

“If they had been veterans,” he said, “such a situation would have been
trying to them, and they were only raw fellows who hardly remembered the
words of command. And yet I tell you they behaved with such courage and

[Illustration: A RESERVIST At THE FRONT.

[To face page 208.]

discipline that I felt proud to be among them. I was sorry and ashamed
to see those sea-sick boys ordered into action, but now I am glad to
remember what I saw my compatriots do that day.”

The naval officer spoke of an incident in the early days of the war,
before the foreign correspondents had reached the scene of action. But
for some time the censors, both at the front and in Madrid, had made it
impossible for the truth about the campaign to be told; and England, at
any rate, was for several weeks allowed to remain under the impression
that the Spanish rank and file were a cowardly lot, driven into action
at the point of their officers’ swords. That impression was corrected as
time went on, and it is, I believe, now generally admitted that the
Spanish troops do not lack courage.

In Spain the conscripts join at the age of eighteen, and serve three
years with the colours, when they are drafted into the first reserve.
But those who can afford it may buy exemption from service for 1,500
pesetas (say £60), and from this source the Government makes an income
estimated in the Budget for 1909 at pesetas 12,800,000 (about £512,000).
Naturally the well-to-do always buy themselves out, as do also a certain
number of the more prosperous of the working classes in the industrial
towns. Señor Maura’s Government, not long before they went out, suddenly
made an order calling on all those who had already bought their
exemption to pay another 500 pesetas or join the colours at once, a
proceeding which, differing as it does in no respect from highway
robbery, naturally caused a good deal of indignation. No one likes to be
called on to pay a second time over for what he has already bought; and
in the case of the workmen, who generally secure themselves against
service by means of one of the numerous insurance companies formed _ad
hoc_, the premiums they had already paid were of course thrown away, and
few indeed of them could produce 500 pesetas at a moment’s notice.

A scheme is on foot for doing away with the present unjust system, and
making service compulsory on all alike. It provides for six months’
instead of three years’ service with the colours, the term to be
extended, in the case of the illiterate, until they can read and write.

This scheme obtained from the first the support of the whole Liberal,
Radical, and Republican Press, but the opposition of the Clericalists
must always be counted on in Spain, and the proposals most obviously
beneficial to the nation are usually those which meet with the
strongest opposition. Another popular clause in the scheme affects the
officers, whose pay is small. At present the officers live where they
can: they have no mess, and their quarters in barracks are so much the
reverse of luxurious that a lieutenant in a smart regiment apologised
for not asking me to visit him there, as he, knowing our English
customs, would have liked to do, because, said he, “it is not fit for an
Englishman to see.”

It is now proposed, in order to reduce the cost of living in the Army,
that quarters and a mess shall be provided for the officers in barracks.
Most Spanish officers have to live on their pay, and even a captain in
the cavalry only gets about £140 a year. On the other hand, their social
expenses are very small, subscription dances, dinners, sports, and the
numerous calls on the purse of a British officer being unknown in




The visitor to Spain is frequently struck with the number of persons
whom he meets on all sides clad in various uniforms and armed, some with
cutlasses alone, others with revolvers in addition. If he asks who they
are, he is told that they are the police, and then he is perplexed to
find such a large number of distinct bodies, all apparently performing
much the same duties. A few words of explanation as to the various
police-forces of the country and their different functions may not be
out of place.

In the first place, every town has its body of municipal police, under
the orders of the Alcalde. Their chief duty is to regulate the traffic,
to maintain order in the streets, and to report to the Town Council any
infraction of the municipal by-laws, and to another body of police
anything or any person whom they may regard as suspicious or a possible
danger to the public security. They do not themselves, as a rule,
arrest malefactors, though no doubt they are empowered to do so on

These policemen are well-intentioned, but on the whole ineffective, not
from any fault of their own so much as from the conditions of their
appointment and tenure of place. In Spain anything can be done by
influence, and it is practically impossible to enforce the by-laws
against a person in high place who chooses to break them. Not long ago I
was at an exhibition, which a very great number of people had gone to
see on that particular day. The municipal police were doing their best
to make the crowd “pass along,” but at one point there was a block,
caused by one or two well-dressed men who refused to move. I asked the
policeman why he did not make them, and he replied that one of them was
So-and-so (a person of local importance) and that if he said anything to
him he would find himself dismissed the next day![20] In a certain town
not long ago a body of police inspectors was established, whose duty it
was to supervise the municipal police and report derelictions of duty,
and as far as I could learn they were doing useful work. After about
three months they all disappeared. On inquiry I was told that the
reason of their suppression was that one of them had reported the
carriage of some duke or marquis for obstructing the traffic, and that
the indignant nobleman had insisted on and obtained the abolition of the

The municipal police go off duty about 8 p.m., and are replaced by the
_serenos_ or night-watchmen, who patrol the streets all night carrying a
pike and a lantern, and in some towns still cry the hours. Hence their
name, from their not unmusical cry, “_Las doce han dado y sereno_”
(“twelve o’clock”--or whatever the hour is--“and a fine night.”)

Alongside of the municipal police is what is known as the _Vigilancia_.
It is they who have to deal with criminals of all sorts within their own
districts, arrest pickpockets and other offenders, investigate thefts,
murders, &c., and catch the guilty. To them the hotels report the
arrival and departure of guests, and it is their business to find any
persons who are wanted on extradition warrants. In short, they perform
most of the ordinary police duties except those assigned to the
municipal police.

There is also a body of rural police, whose duty it is to patrol the
country districts; they are few in number and not particularly
effective. It is not often that one runs across any of them, even in
their own districts.

The most important and by far the finest body of men in Spain is the
Civil Guard, popularly known as the _Benemerita_ (well-deserving). This
force is one which, both in physique and morale, would do credit to any
country in the world. They are under very strict discipline, and are
prevented as far as possible from associating with any one outside of
their own body--for instance, with the ordinary police-forces. Even the
officers are under stricter regulations than those of the regular Army.
I was told of one case where a junior officer, after due warning, was
broke for gambling. The force is officered from the regular Army, and so
highly is the service esteemed that an officer who obtains a commission
in the Civil Guard _ipso facto_ loses a step. Very great care is
exercised both in their selection and in recruiting the rank and file.

They are something in the nature of a military police, and may be
generally compared to the Irish Constabulary; they do not perform
ordinary police duties, but in case of anything serious, such as a riot,
they would act, and they are expected to hunt down and catch malefactors
who are escaping from justice--which, indeed, they usually succeed in
doing. They practically have power of life and death, as if, in the
execution of their duty, they think it necessary to shoot, no questions
are asked. They always go about in couples, a young man accompanying an
older one, sometimes on foot, generally on horseback. They are the
terror of evildoers, and some years ago entirely stamped out the
brigandage which was then rife in the South of Spain, by the simple
expedient of shooting down the brigands wherever they caught them. But I
have never heard it suggested that they abuse their powers, and every
one, foreigners as well as Spaniards, speaks well of them. Moreover--and
this is rare in Spain--they are said, I believe with truth, to be
incorruptible, and everybody has the utmost confidence in them.

I have already referred to this force being called on to protect the
nervous nuns and the ostensibly non-militant clergy during the
anticlericalist demonstrations in November, 1909. It may be interesting
to show how they regarded the political situation at that time,
premising that as they are in daily contact with the people, no body in
the kingdom has its finger more closely pressed on the public pulse.

“You seem to have had your work for nothing,” I remarked to a couple of
my friends at their barracks on the evening after one of the
demonstrations. “I never saw a more orderly crowd.”

“What did you expect?” they replied. “These are political matters in
which we take no part beyond going where we are ordered. It seems to be
the fashion to talk about the prevalence of anarchical ideas in our
country, so presumably it suits some persons that the public should
think our people are anarchists. But _we_ see no symptoms of it. No
doubt it is right for the authorities to take precautions if they
believe there are fellows of that sort about. It is not our place to
inquire why they believe in a condition of affairs which we know does
not exist. The Civil Governor naturally does not ask for our opinion on
matters connected with politics. If he did we could tell him that he
need not be nervous, for anarchy is a disease which does not progress in
our nation, at any rate in any part of the districts _we_ have to travel

Remarks of this tenour have been made to me by members of the force in
many times and in many places. A couple of Civil Guards accompany every
train, and detachments of them are stationed in every town and village,
in addition to mounted men charged with the care of the rural districts.
They are continually changed from place to place, to prevent any danger
of becoming too friendly with those they are intended to control, and
the result is that they have an exhaustive knowledge of the feeling of
the people. A Government genuinely desirous of gauging the popular point
of view at any crisis need only apply to the _Benemerita_ for
information. But so long as the Civil Governors who command the Civil
Guard are appointed for party purposes and changed with every change in
the Government, this means of contact between the Government and the
governed will be neglected in the interests of party.

It must not be supposed that the Civil Guard talk in public about the
duty with which they are entrusted. On the contrary, their non-committal
attitude is always honourably maintained before their fellow-countrymen.
But when I travel alone with them--for I frequently take a second-class
ticket merely for the sake of their company--they are not unwilling to
express an opinion on affairs in general, feeling secure that I, as an
Englishman, can be trusted not to turn anything they may say to their
disadvantage. Before Spaniards they are extremely reserved, but when the
compartment is empty save for myself and them conversation runs easily.

I was struck by this one day when a hot-headed individual shouted his
vehemently Radical views to a friend at the opposite end of the
carriage. The second-class carriages in many parts of the country are
only divided half-way up, so that it is not unusual to talk from one end
to the other on country lines where simple manners prevail. The Radical
knelt on his seat and his opponent stood up on his, and the passengers
sitting between them chimed in at intervals. The Constitution was
suspended at the time, and Señor Maura would certainly have had the
whole company clapped into prison had he heard what was said. But the
Civil Guards turned a deaf ear, affecting to be entirely absorbed in
their cigarettes. Later on I took an opportunity of asking what they
thought of the oratorical exhibition we had been favoured with.

“We think nothing at all, and that is just how much it is worth,” they
said. “We know that gentleman very well, and he would no more commit an
act of violence or an offence against the law than we would ourselves.
But all Spaniards love talking, and if he could not relieve himself by
that sort of gabble he might become a danger to the public peace. There
are a fair number of his kidney scattered about the country, though they
are chiefly to be found in the big northern cities. They revel in the
nonsense spouted at Republican meetings and love to read out violent
articles from the _Pais_ and the _Motin_, but they are quite satisfied
with talking. Very few indeed of them would fire a shot for what they
call their principles. That is why we never take any notice of what they
say before us in the trains or elsewhere. We know it means nothing and
is an excellent safety-valve. If Maura had done as we always do--let
them talk and take no notice--there would have been no riots in
Barcelona. But Spaniards have hot tempers, and if you make them angry,
trouble begins. What harm does their talk do to any one? You have only
to reflect that they are pretty nearly all fathers of families, who know
very well that any such revolution as they romance about would only make
it ten times harder for them to earn a living for their children, and
God knows it is hard enough already to live in our country. We have to
eat beans and bread, and often don’t get enough even of that. Do you
imagine that any working man wants civil war in the country to make his
food dearer still? _Ca!_ Let them talk! It amuses them and it makes no
difference to the Government. Whichever party is in power the poor have
the same difficulty in bringing up their families.”

The Civil Guards had to shut their ears to a good deal of conversation
which the Ultramontane Government would have found it desirable to
suppress, during the three months after the “Red Week” in Cataluña; for
the attitude of the people towards the priests and Religious Orders, not
only in the North of Spain, but all over the country, became daily more
aggressive, and I have frequently admired the tact and good temper with
which members of that force contrived to do their duty and yet avoid
fanning the embers of discontent into a blaze of passion.

It has been sometimes remarked to me that it is the Civil Guard who
really govern Spain, and that without them anarchy would shortly ensue.
So far as the maintenance of public order is concerned, there is a good
deal of truth in this remark. They go quietly about their business,
never interfering with any one unless there is need, but if there is,
their intervention is immediately and conclusively efficacious. They are
at once feared and respected, and it is only in extreme cases that
resistance to them is ever attempted.



Leader of the Liberal-Monarchists.

[To face page 227.]



The apparently purposeless and kaleidoscopic changes in Spanish politics
are very apt to puzzle foreign observers, who cannot understand what has
happened to bring about the resignation of a Minister or an entire
Cabinet, for which the cause, if any, alleged in the papers seems wholly
inadequate. Internal and external affairs appear to be pursuing a
tranquil course: no disputed question is agitating the country or the
Cortes, when suddenly comes a bolt from the blue in the shape of an
announcement of a Ministerial crisis, and the Government is changed.
Thus, early in the year 1910, Señor Moret, who after overthrowing the
Government of Maura in the previous October, seemed to be pretty firmly
seated in the saddle, suddenly resigned, in spite of the fact that at
the municipal elections a month or so before his policy had been
endorsed by overwhelming majorities all over the country. One of the
English newspapers, in commenting on this seemingly inexplicable change
of Ministry, frankly confessed that it was useless for foreigners to
attempt to understand Spanish politics.

Generally speaking, Ministerial changes in Spain are the outcome of a
tacit arrangement made some thirty years ago between Canovas and
Sagasta, the then leaders of the two main parties, the Liberals and the
Conservatives, and continued by their successors, that each side should
have its fair share of the loaves and fishes. After one party had been
in office three or four years it was agreed by common consent that the
time had come for the other side to have a turn. Thus, as Major Martin
Hume says:[21] “Dishonest Governments are faced in sham battle by
dishonest Oppositions, and parliamentary institutions, instead of being
a public check upon abuses, are simply a mask behind which a large
number of politicians may carry on their nefarious trade with impunity.”

But sometimes, though more rarely, another cause operates to upset
Governments, and that is the underground intrigues of disappointed
place-hunters. If the Premier in his distribution of appointments
happens to omit any important person or section of people who think
themselves entitled to a share in the plums of office, they will not
hesitate to join with political opponents and turn out their own nominal
leader, if circumstances happen to make this possible.

It is often said by foreign critics that the people--the mass of the
nation--are to blame for the sins of their Governments. They have the
franchise: if they are not satisfied, why do they not elect better men?

This criticism proceeds from ignorance of an important factor in Spanish
politics--one of the tentacles of the octopus of corruption which holds
the whole country in its grip.

The simple fact is that the great mass of the people have no voice at
all in the election of their representatives. Nominally voting is free:
actually it is not.[22]

The whole administrative system is centralised in Madrid, and the
various Government offices interfere in local affairs to an extent
inconceivable to an Englishman, accustomed for generations to manage his
own affairs his own way. One result of this is that the elections to the
Cortes are, in fact if not in theory, conducted from Madrid. In every
small town and rural district there is a person known as the _Cacique_,
usually a large employer of labour or a moneylender, to whom most of the
working population of the district look for employment, or in whose debt
they are. So enormous is the usury that once a loan has been raised,
many a borrower has been unable to free himself from debt for the rest
of his life. I have known cases where as much as 75 per cent. per annum
has been paid for a trifling loan. Thus the _Cacique_, whether as
employer or moneylender, or both, has the majority of the constituency
under his thumb. He receives his instructions from Madrid, and issues
his orders accordingly. If by chance the voting goes wrong, the returns
are falsified; but this does not often happen, for the voters are so
convinced that the exercise of their legal right of choice, if in
opposition to the wish of the authorities, will result in loss of
employment, that either they abstain or they vote as they are ordered.

The existence of the _Cacique_ is one of the great obstacles to any
effective decentralisation. If the villages and rural districts were
given the management of their own affairs, the _Cacique_ would be more
absolute than ever. One can hardly open a paper without finding a report
of some case of his arbitrary interference with local matters. If he is,
as he usually is, the friend or creature of the Civil Governor of the
Province, who is the nominee of the Ministry, he does what he likes and
there is no redress against his illegal and oppressive action.

The following stories illustrate the method of conducting elections in

       *       *       *       *       *

One man complained that a Conservative had given him a dollar for his
vote, and after he had voted he found that the dollar was bad. “Had I
not already voted, how gladly would I have given you gentlemen the
advantage!” he said to a group of Liberals. “But you see I am left
without my vote in exchange for a bad dollar. Never again will I sell my
vote to the Conservatives!”

       *       *       *       *       *

Another rascal went to the office of a Liberal paper to complain that “a
thief” had contracted with him to engage some twenty fellow-rogues to
vote to order. He fulfilled his part of the contract and took his twenty
to the poll, but when he went to claim his pay the contractor had

“And here I am many pesetas out of pocket,” he lamented; “for not only
have I lost the large profit the thief offered me, but I had to pay my
friends two reals apiece before they would stir out of the wine-shop.”

       *       *       *       *       *

In one district the Liberals boasted that for years they had never
bought a vote. “Partly,” as my informant ingenuously said, “because we
have always had a safe majority, but partly also because we prefer to be
honest. But,” he continued, “we learnt this time that a party of
Conservatives intended to interfere with us, so we prepared a party of
the same kind to receive them. ‘Do not begin to fight,’ said my father,
‘but if they begin, hit hard.’ They did begin, and our leader obeyed
orders. He hit the leader of the other side so hard that he knocked out
four of his front teeth, and that was the end of the fighting in our

       *       *       *       *       *

All these incidents are said to have occurred in the municipal elections
of 1909. One more is worth mentioning.

In a town of some twenty thousand inhabitants, where for many years past
an Ultramontane _Cacique_ has been supreme, that gentleman rose early on
the polling-day and personally roused the dwellers in the gipsy
quarters--mostly the biggest ruffians in the place--out of their beds.

“Get up, my sons,” he said, “and go and vote, and there will be a dollar
apiece for you when you leave the polling-booth.”

“They said they would go and vote,” said my informant, “and they got
their dollars. But the Republicans came out at the head of the poll, and
the Liberals next, and the _Cacique_ and his Conservatives were

       *       *       *       *       *

I happen to be aware that the _Cacique_ in this instance is a man of
great wealth and high social position, whose clericalist leanings are
well known. If, indeed, it be the fact that the working classes have
gained courage to defy men like him, the rising in Cataluña, the Maura
regime of repression, and the campaign led against Spain by
Ultramontanes and Socialists abroad will have borne fruit.

There is, however, one political leader in Spain who stands for purity
of election and is the lifelong foe of the “caciquism” and corruption
which paralyse any and every effort at political regeneration. Don
Segismundo Moret has thrice been Premier of Spain. Each time he could
have retained office had he consented to purchase the favour of the
place-hunters by giving posts in the Ministry, not to those best
qualified for the work, but to those who could command the largest
following among the “Liberal mercenaries” who, as long as the system of
“caciquism” continues, can make or mar electoral majorities. This he has
never consented to do. So it has happened that each time that he has
been in office he has had to sacrifice place and power rather than
pander to an evil system.

The story of his late short tenure of the Premiership, and of the
intrigues by which he was ousted is worth telling at some little length,
because it throws light on the workings of the political machine, and on
some of the difficulties with which a reformer has to contend in Spain.

Moret took office in 1909 against his own better judgment, for he would
have preferred that the Conservatives should bear the responsibility of
their own misdeeds, and solve the many difficulties resulting from
Maura’s “policy of repression.” But the country had been brought to such
a pitch of irritation and unrest by the reactionaries that the
situation was becoming dangerous. The Riff question was attracting the
unfriendly attention of foreign diplomatists; Barcelona was impatient
under a rigid application of martial law, and the Ferrer incident had
called forth a storm of condemnation from all the countries where the
assumption that a prisoner is innocent until he has been proved guilty
is an axiom of criminal law, while the advanced parties in the State
were getting out of hand and had begun to defy the Government, as,
_e.g._, in the matter of the demonstrations already referred to.

From the moment that Moret accepted office he was assailed by a stream
of the most virulent abuse, not only by the Carlist but also by the
Conservative and Ultramontane newspapers. He was “the destruction of
Spain,” “the ruin of the nation,” “the arch-priest of irreligion and
immorality,” and not only was his policy attacked in terms of unmeasured
vilification, but the editors of these papers, which are owned and
supported by some of the best born and wealthiest men in the country,
did not hesitate to descend to vulgar personal abuse. His “grey hair,”
for instance, was a favourite subject of their ridicule, and his
“vacillation,” “infirmity of purpose,” and “inability to keep his party
together” were accounted for by jeers at his “senile decay,” his
“failing intellect,” his “body bent double by the weight of years,” and
so forth, while the party led by him are usually spoken of in the
clericalist organs as _canaille_.

But on his acceptance of the Premiership the aspect of affairs underwent
a complete and immediate change. The political horizon began to clear.
Terms of peace were arrived at in Morocco. Foreign susceptibilities were
soothed. Cataluña was immediately relieved from the burden of martial
law, and the constitutional rights were restored in Barcelona. The
troops began to return from the war and were received with the greatest
enthusiasm; the trials of persons arrested in connection with the
disorders in Cataluña, who had been kept in prison on suspicion for four
or five months, were pushed forward, and numbers of them were released
for want of any evidence against them. Most of the lay schools were
reopened, on showing that nothing seditious had been taught in them. The
depleted treasury was replenished, and means were found to provide three
months’ pay for the Melilla forces, which the outgoing Ministry had left
out of account. A great project of irrigation was vigorously promoted by
Moret’s Minister of Public Works, Gasset, who has devoted practically
the whole of his political life to this subject, and has produced a
scheme which would convert vast tracts, now arid waste, into fertile
land. And the municipal elections, which took place about six weeks
after the change of Government, were conducted, so far as time had
permitted any modification of existing conditions, according to law,
with the result that the Liberal-Monarchists swept the board all over
the country. The official figures were as follows: Liberal-Monarchists,
2,961; Conservatives, 1,213; Carlists, 185; Republicans, 193;
Socialists, 4. Thus Moret’s party nearly doubled the Conservatives,
Carlists, and Republicans put together. The smallness of the Socialist
vote should be noticed.

In any other country it would have been certain that a leader who could
so well and so quickly convert popular indignation into contentment and
hope was in for a long term of office. Not so in Spain.

During his four months of office, from October, 1909, to February, 1910,
Moret tried hard to obtain the decree of dissolution of the Conservative
Cortes, in order that the nation might have an opportunity of expressing
its opinion on recent events. At first it almost seemed as if he would
obtain the King’s consent to dissolve. But the place-hunters were
afraid, and the Ultramontanes were more afraid. They played so
successfully into each other’s hands that the decree of dissolution was
postponed day after day, while all his enemies proclaimed the incapacity
of a Premier who was “afraid” to go to the country.

The first attempt to upset him was a so-called “military demonstration”
in front of the offices of the _Ejercito Español_, a military paper
which had been confiscated for publishing an article written by a
Carlist, accusing the Premier of unjust favouritism in the distribution
of rewards for good service in Melilla. The demonstration was described
by the Conservative papers as of “overwhelming importance,” and the
number of demonstrators was placed by some of them at two thousand. The
truth is that it was confined to a few officers well known for their
Carlist leanings, and the rank and file of their regiments stood
resolutely aloof. Moret and his Minister of War, General Luque, retired
the Captain-General of Madrid and the colonels of the regiments in
question for failure to maintain discipline, and ordered the actual
participants a couple of months’ arrest--a proceeding which called forth
general applause from all except the reactionaries. The small
significance of the affair was made manifest when it came out that
these arrests did not exceed half a dozen, including the editor (also an
officer) responsible for the publication of the seditious article.

The result of this fiasco was still more to strengthen Moret’s influence
with the nation, and it became evident that he would sweep the country
should he obtain the long-deferred decree of dissolution. All the
ingenuity of the Church was therefore exercised to secure his fall
before this could take place, and the cupidity of a cabal of
disappointed candidates for place was skilfully used to bring about--the
catastrophe, I was going to say, but the triumph of morality would be a
truer expression.

At the municipal elections in December, 1909, an endeavour had been made
by Moret to secure something in the direction of freedom of voting for
the working classes, and the result, as I have shown, was a triumph for
the Liberal-Monarchists. The Republicans--to their honour be it said,
for they did not do as well in these elections as they had
expected--worked harder than ever after this to secure to the electors
the free exercise of their legal privileges, and Moret accepted their
programme, so far as it was designed to help in cleansing the Augean
stable of corruption by limiting the powers of the local _Caciques_.
This gave an opportunity to those who live by political immorality, and
the intrigue which followed is typical of Spanish politics.

In the December elections Madrid returned a Republican majority to the
Town Council. The Alcalde, Señor Aguilera, an old and staunch ally of
Señor Moret’s, although himself a Monarchist, ranged himself on the side
of the Republicans by supporting their demand for the limitation of the
Alcalde’s power to appoint and thus control the votes of the very
numerous municipal employees. It was proposed that the Alcalde, instead
of being, as now, nominated by the Government, should be elected by the
Councillors, who in their turn have been elected by the popular vote,
and that the posts under the Council should be filled by open

Most of the Alcaldes, even in the small towns, enter office poor and
leave rich. But it is admitted even by his opponents that Señor
Aguilera, a man with but small private means, who has twice been Alcalde
of Madrid under Moret, has each time gone out of office as poor as when
he came in.

A crisis was deliberately provoked by the President of the so-called
“Liberal” election committees of Madrid, Count Romanones, a man who held
office under Moret in a former Cabinet, and has long been suspected of
aspiring to the Premiership of the party to which he belongs. The
election committees, represented by Count Romanones, although nominally
Liberal, objected to the proposed limitation of the power of the
Alcalde, and finding Moret firm on the point, went so far as to hand him
an ultimatum. Briefly, their terms were, “Leave to the Alcaldes” (often
the _Caciques_) “throughout Spain the appointment of the municipal
employees, or we will refuse to act, and leave you without any electoral
organisation at all when the Cortes are dissolved.” It is not denied
that this resolution was handed to the Premier by Count Romanones a day
or two before his resignation. Meanwhile other opponents took advantage
of Aguilera’s temporary alliance with the Republicans, and represented
that if a programme of electoral reform supported by that party were
carried out, the Throne would be endangered by a Republican majority in
the new Cortes. This danger was imaginary, for there is no doubt that
both the numerical strength of the Republicans and their hostility to
the reigning House have always been greatly exaggerated by all the
various factions desirous of clogging the wheels of reform.

Señor Moret of course declined to compromise with Count Romanones on
any terms, which in a man of his recognised probity was a certainty,
doubtless counted upon by the “Liberal” cabal and by the Ultramontanes.
He then once more asked the King for the decree of dissolution, that he
might place his programme of reform before those whom it most concerned.
Exactly what passed at this interview was not divulged, but at its
conclusion he placed his resignation in Don Alfonso’s hands. It was
accepted, and the veteran Liberal-Monarchist, after forty years’ service
to the Throne and the country, found himself dismissed at a moment’s
notice, through the machinations of the opponents of electoral reform.

No plausible reason was given for the dismissal of Moret. It was
reported that “the representative men of the party,” when applied to by
the King for advice, recommended the appointment of Canalejas, on the
ground that Moret had lost their confidence. But it was not stated who
these representative men were. The _Daily Mail_ gave half a dozen names,
which had been telegraphed by its correspondent in Madrid, but that list
was obviously untrustworthy because Montero Rios figured in it, and it
is well known that the leader of the Radical group sets the unity of the
party above every other consideration, and has always urged loyalty to
Moret upon Liberals of all shades.

The circumstances were calculated to embitter the most even temper;
nevertheless Moret’s first thought was for the welfare of the nation,
whose whole governmental machinery was thrown out of gear. Some of his
followers wanted to make a complete split with Canalejas, and one or two
articles were published in the heat of the moment, expressed in terms
tending to a final division in the Liberal camp. But in his own
utterances for the Press Moret showed himself true to his ideal--the
good of the country before personal ambition.

“The most serious feature in this crisis,” he said, “is that both the
event and its solution were foretold by the reactionary newspapers,
proving the intervention of the reactionary party in the intrigue. They
interfered because they wish to prevent my conducting the elections in
accordance with my programme of electoral reform.”

Moret’s assertion that the intrigue which brought about his fall was
engineered by the Ultramontanes received confirmation from the _Correo
Catalan_, a Carlist paper, which committed itself to the following

“Canalejas will govern without altering the Cabinet until the autumn.
Before the re-opening of the Cortes there will be ministerial changes.
And in order to make compensation to Señor Moret a couple of
unconditional friends of his will enter the Government. In the autumn
Maura will have become tired of acting as guardian to Canalejas, who
will fall irremediably. The Maurist restoration will be inaugurated next

Working-class opinion on the situation was quite definite. For a day or
two satisfaction was expressed, because Canalejas was reputed to be
devoted to the interests of the people. But no sooner was suspicion
aroused that his elevation to the Premiership had been engineered by the
Ultramontanes than the poor were up in arms: the mere suggestion that
the Jesuits were at work being sufficient to revive all the irritation
and anxiety that Moret had succeeded in allaying.

“Canalejas talks a great deal, and we have long looked upon him as our
friend,” a journeyman mason remarked to me. “But here we are again with
everything in a state of confusion, and work in every direction waiting
while our employers are busy with their politics. We shall get nothing
done now till things have quieted down, so I don’t see what advantage it
is to us to have Canalejas in power.”



Commander-in-Chief at Melilla.      Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

[To face page 244.]

“If it is true that Canalejas is in league with the Jesuits to bring
Maura back, there will be trouble,” said another man. “We will not have
Maura ruining the country again just when it was beginning to pick up. I
would rather shoot him myself. The poor can’t live under Maura, so I
should lose nothing by killing him, even if I paid for it with my life.”

A woman burst out crying when she heard her husband talking about Maura.

“Why does the good God let that man live?” she sobbed. “If it is true
that he is coming into power again, all our sons will be sent to Melilla
to be killed. And we have been so contented because we thought we had
got rid of him!”

The hope of the Ultramontanes was that the downfall of Moret would bring
about a final and irremediable split in the Liberal party, which would
facilitate the overthrow of Canalejas when the time came. And at first
it seemed probable that this hope would be realised, for practically the
whole of Moret’s Cabinet resigned with him, and refused to take office
under Canalejas, while Canalejas himself at first acted as though he
desired a permanent breach, by claiming that his appointment as Premier
necessarily carried with it the leadership of the party--a proposition
to which the party was by no means disposed to agree. But in time better
counsels prevailed, and an interview between the Premier and his
predecessor has lately been reported in the Press, in the course of
which Canalejas frankly admitted the obligations of the party to Moret
and the need that exists for his co-operation and advice--which Moret
for his part professed himself quite ready to give, as indeed he had
done ever since his resignation. So that it looks as though the danger
of a breach had been avoided, at any rate for the present.

It is worth noting that the Government of Spain can be carried on for an
indefinite time without the sessions of the Cortes. The Cortes adjourned
for the summer recess in June, 1909, before the troubles began in
Barcelona, and never met again. Throughout his tenure of office Moret
tried without success to obtain the Royal decree for a dissolution.
Canalejas was in office two months before he could get the decree
signed, but at length, in April, 1910, it was announced that the General
Election would definitely be held in May. The outgoing Cortes has a
Conservative majority: what the next will be no man can say, although,
having regard to the fact that a Liberal Ministry is in power, the
presumption is that a Liberal majority will be returned. There is,
however, no shadow of doubt that if the elections were conducted fairly
and freely and the people could vote in accordance with their
convictions, a Cortes would be returned with an overwhelming majority in
favour of the Constitutional Monarchy, reform of abuses, and the
destruction of the political influence and privileges of the Church.




It must not be supposed that the whole of the Conservative party shares
the Carlist and Ultramontane views of the majority. The old school of
Conservatives, led by Canovas, supported the Constitutional Monarchy as
strongly as do the Liberals, and even now a contingent of strong
constitutional Conservatives exists, although it is not easy to detect
their influence on the general policy of the party with which they act.
Their existence, however, was proved in October, 1909, when some of the
leading men of Señor Maura’s party withdrew their adhesion to his
leadership upon his declaration of “implacable hostility” towards the
whole of the Liberal party. They saw, as did every one else, that the
reactionary policy of the Ultramontane Premier was imperilling the
existence of the Constitutional Monarchy.

To appreciate the disinterestedness of men who thus cut themselves off
from the acknowledged leader of their party, whether in office or in
opposition, the unwritten law of an alternate share of the spoils must
be borne in mind. Thus a politician who deliberately deserts his party,
from whatever motive, loses all chances of a salaried appointment when
that party again has power to confer these political plums.

I make no apology for putting the facts thus plainly. They are spoken of
with cynical frankness by all Spaniards, and it is considered a matter
of course that any statesman who refuses to sell his favours to the
highest bidder will be removed from place at the earliest opportunity by
the intrigues of the many who live by political corruption.

It will be seen that once the rule of alternating office by mutual
arrangement be broken, the end of the whole system of gerrymandering the
elections would be brought within sight, for any Government which
enjoyed the confidence of the nation would remain in office year after
year, once the people were permitted to make their voice heard in the

Señor Maura, or those who inspired him, of course foresaw this after the
fall of his Cabinet in October, 1909, and his address to his party on
that occasion marks an epoch in the history of political reform in
Spain, although perhaps not precisely on the lines he intended.

His party, he said, must fight without truce against the Liberals,
“ex-Ministers and ex-Presidents of Council who reach office in
collaboration with anarchists.” Nor must his own party stand alone, he
said, for it would be necessary to seek the alliance of all, no matter
how different their political ideals, who desired to check the advance
of revolution. From that moment all relations between Liberals and
Conservatives must cease. Any other course would be treachery, for only
thus could the nation be saved from the reproach and the ruin with which
it was threatened.

In the opinion of Señor Maura, the party against which he thus
proclaimed war to the knife includes every shade of Liberalism in Spain,
from the most loyal Monarchists down to the rioters in Cataluña, while
his right-hand man, Señor La Cierva, Minister of the Interior in the
Ultramontane Cabinet, went so far as to accuse Señor Moret of being at
“one end of a chain which linked Liberals, Radicals, Democrats,
Republicans, and Socialists with the persons who fired the Religious
Houses in Barcelona and scattered anarchy broadcast by encouraging the
abominable sedition taught in the lay schools.”

When Señor Maura declared that all relations between the two parties
must cease, he no doubt expected that the party to obtain power and
keep it would be his own. But the dissatisfaction caused in his own
party by his violent speech showed that they did not all share his
views, and for a time it looked as though there might be a split in the
camp. The Clericalists foresaw days of leanness, for if Maura’s
calculations went wrong and Moret was able to carry out his project of
electoral reform, their occupation and their livelihood would be gone.
How the dissentients were brought into line we need not inquire. But the
occasion forced one of the most statesmanlike of the Conservatives to
make a public confession of his faith, and it then became manifest that
in Señor Sanchez Toca, ex-Minister and ex-Alcalde of Madrid, the spirit
of Canovas and Silvela still survives, although he with one or two more
seem to stand almost alone among their party against the tide of

After three years of loyal support, said Sanchez Toca, in an interview
with the representative of the Conservative _Correspondencia de
España_--the organ of all that is left of the old Conservative
policy--Señor Maura should have consulted his Cabinet before taking a
resolution which completely alters the normal course of national
politics. “I stood aghast,” said he, “at the thought of the incalculable
results that must spring from those furious voices convoking the whole
Christian world to a holy war against Ministers holding office under the
Crown, to whom even the name of Liberals was denied, and shouting with
anathemas that he was no true Conservative who held other relations than
those of implacable hostility with men appointed to office by the King.”
And he concluded by pointing out that the true Conservative faith
irresistibly impels those who hold it towards conciliation instead of
provocation, and that if this reason for its existence failed, the
Conservative party must disappear.

Whether Sanchez Toca could have formed a party under his own leadership
on the old Conservative lines it is not possible to guess; for after
making the protest of which the above is a brief abstract, he left
Madrid, and it was announced that he intended to make a protracted
sojourn abroad, so that no one was able to accuse him of self-seeking in
his secession from the Ultramontane party. The dignity of his position,
as compared with that taken up by the supporters of the “implacable
hostility” which has become a byword among the scoffers, needs no

I have dwelt at perhaps undue length upon his part in the affair,
because it is assumed abroad that Señor Maura represents an united
Conservative party, which, as the above declaration proves, is by no
means the case.

How completely this was misunderstood by many of the English journalists
who wrote about Spain in 1909 was shown by their comments upon the
strength displayed by Maura in holding the whole “Conservative” forces
together, and their complete misapprehension of the real causes of the
dissensions which have always prevailed in the Liberal camp.

The modern Conservatives and the modern Liberals are so nearly alike in
their policy as regards the Crown and the Constitution, that they might
almost be classed as one party, under the general name of Monarchists.
In the matter of electoral reform there seems hardly anything to choose
between them, although on the question of the Religious Orders Moret’s
views are perhaps rather more advanced than those of Sanchez Toca, Dato,
or Gonzalez Besada, the three most prominent Conservative-Monarchists of
to-day. Unfortunately, the popular distrust of the very name of
Conservative is so great that it would be difficult for any one thus
labelled to convince the people that he meant fairly by them. Even
Moret’s policy of conciliation is taken by the masses to indicate fear
of the Jesuits, rather than as a calculated avoidance of action which
might lead to disturbances.

The constant commendation given by the Conservative and even by the
Liberal Press of England to the strength and unity of the “Conservative”
party under Señor Maura, and their adverse comments on the dissensions
in the Liberal camp, have materially added to the difficulties, already
serious enough, which block the path of Moret and those of his creed,
and have strengthened the party of clerical reaction and absolutism.

The _Heraldo_, in an article on the benefits to the nation to be
expected from Moret’s support of Canalejas’ Government, spoke as follows
of the influence of England upon Spanish affairs:

“It now appears probable that the democratic Government will be
consolidated by the disappearance of the danger to which we have
referred [the split with Moret’s party]. If this proves the case, all
Europe will recognise with satisfaction how the personal convictions of
the monarch, strengthened perhaps by the healthy influence of his
illustrious connections by marriage, are leading Spain along the paths
of prosperity and gradually relieving us of the nightmare of reaction
which has weighed so heavily upon our nation during the minority of Don
Alfonso and the early years of his manhood.”

Centuries of government by the rich for the rich, and by the Church for
the Church, have contributed to make reform exceedingly difficult, but
at length the issues between political morality and the maintenance of
the old abuses have been clearly set before the nation, in the struggle
which ended with the dismissal of Señor Moret. He determined to have the
country freed from the tyranny of the _Cacique_. His opponents desired
to maintain the system. That was the whole point at issue.

At the moment it seemed as if those interested in the maintenance of a
corrupt system had won a signal victory, and the men who are working for
the moralising of political life would have been more than human had
they spoken no word of the bitterness they felt at seeing, as it seemed,
their work undone and their hopes frustrated. But there are apparent
defeats which mark a stage on the road to final victory, and such a
stage was marked, for the people of Spain, by the fall of Moret in
February, 1910.

Turning to the other main body of political opinion, the Liberal party,
with its offshoot, the Republicans, it is worth noting that many of
these, including several of their most prominent and influential
leaders, although professing republican opinions, are in reality
staunch upholders of the constitutional Monarchy, their republicanism
being more in the nature of a political counsel of perfection than a
policy that they are actively forwarding. Thus Montero Rios, the leader
of the Radical wing of the Liberals, who, if not avowedly a Republican,
is closely allied to that party, recently said, _à propos_ of the split
in the Liberal camp which seemed imminent after the resignation of
Moret, “I have always urged that our group should submit to the
leadership of Moret, because he alone can hold the party together.”
Melquiades Alvarez, one of the acknowledged leaders of the Republicans,
made in October, 1909, an important speech in which he offered “a final
truce” with the Monarchy, and Republican support to a programme of
liberty of worship, restriction of the power of the Religious Orders,
neutral schools, and social reform. “With the adoption of this programme
permanent stability would be afforded to the Throne on the model of the
English dynasty--a crowned Republic.” And Soriano, another prominent man
in that party, said about the same time “The Republican revolution
should be spiritual, not material. _We do not desire to overthrow the
Monarchy_, but to implant education and progress” (italics mine). The
term “Republican,” as used by the men of this school of thought, seems
to connote a social and political Utopia rather than a particular form
of government, and “republican” principles are quite compatible with an
undeviating support of the Constitutional Monarchy.

These “idealist” Republicans would not thus group their party with the
supporters of the Monarchy if they believed that the existence of the
Throne were prejudicial to the nation. Nor would the Liberal-Monarchists
accept without protest such an association with themselves, did they
believe that these men were working to overthrow the Monarchy.

The truth is that all Spanish politicians who have the good of their
country at heart recognise, even though they may disapprove, the
traditional respect for the kingly office which is implanted in the mind
of most peoples who have lived from childhood under the Monarchical
system. In Spain, where the King who united Castile with Leon and
expelled the Moslems from nearly the whole of the South is venerated as
a saint, the tradition exists more strongly and has greater weight in
determining the action of the masses at any given moment than in any
other country except perhaps Russia.



[To face page 263.]]



Of the many evils that afflict Spain, one of the gravest, for it lies at
the root of most of the others, is the deplorably backward state of
education. It is commonly said that 75 per cent. of the population
cannot read or write. This figure may or may not be exaggerated, but it
is certainly the exception to find a member of the working classes who
can do either. And this ignorance is not confined to the working
classes, but extends, in a relative degree, throughout all social ranks.
People of good position, presumably educated, frequently cannot write
and spell their own language correctly. I have even been told as a fact
that there are, or were until quite recently, grandees of Spain who
could not sign their names. And ignorance of the commonest facts of
geography and history is astonishingly prevalent even in the middle
classes. It would not in the least surprise any one who knows Spanish
society to be asked whether Germany lies to the south of Switzerland,
or if Berlin is the capital of London. Even in the universities things
are no better. The course of study in any subject consists in the
scholar getting up a textbook written _ad hoc_ by the professor of that
subject, in which alone he is examined for his certificate or diploma,
and outside of which he is not expected to travel. Indeed, in some of
the universities the students are actively discouraged from reading
anything except the prescribed textbook of the subject they are
studying, and the natural consequence is that a young man who has passed
through the University with credit may be, and often is in fact, quite

The administrative educational system in Spain is as follows:

At the head is the Minister of Public Instruction, assisted by a
consultative Council, which includes the Rectors of the universities.
Certain of the functions of the Minister are delegated to the
sub-secretary, who is the second authority in the department.

The local administration is complicated. The whole country is divided
into ten university districts, at the head of each of which is the
Rector of the university. He, _inter alia_, exercises a general
supervision over all the schools in his district, appoints teachers
whose salary is below 1,000 pesetas per annum, and proposes to the
Minister of Education the appointment of those of higher grade or
salary. He is assisted by a consultative Council. The teachers are
appointed after some sort of competitive examination.

The Civil Governor of each province is responsible for the fulfilment of
all the obligations imposed by the law, but has no voice in the internal
management, teaching, &c., of the schools and colleges. He, too, is
assisted by a provincial consultative Council. Lastly, in the
municipality, the Alcalde, the President of the _Ayuntamiento_, has the
same functions in his district as those of the Civil Governor in the
province.[23] The Alcalde also has his local consultative committee,
whose functions are not unlike those of school managers in England.

The inspection of all schools except the elementary is the duty of the
Rector of the university. The inspection of elementary schools is
committed to an Inspector-General, under the immediate orders of the
sub-Secretary of State, and forty-nine inspectors, one for each

Elementary education in Spain has been compulsory since 1857, and free,
since 1901, to children whose parents “are unable to pay.” The
compulsory school age is from 6 to 12. The provision of schools and the
upkeep of the buildings is the duty of the _Ayuntamiento_, and a small
sum is set aside in the annual Budget of the kingdom for grants in aid
to poor districts.

The system under which the teachers are paid is peculiar. The locality
finds the money and hands it to the Ministry of Education, which pays
the salaries. The reason for this arrangement is characteristic. It was
made because of the irregularities in the payment of the teachers which
frequently occurred when the local authority administered the funds. The
salaries of the teachers in the Elementary schools are from 500 to 3,000
pesetas--say £20 to £120 a year, with a house, and they are entitled
after twenty years’ service or upwards, to a pension of from 50 to 80
per cent. of their salary. They also have a right to the fees of
“children who can pay them.”

It is easy to see that this system of overlapping authorities and
divided responsibility must necessarily lead to waste of time and
general inefficiency, even assuming that every one concerned is
genuinely anxious to do his duty and to work for the good of education,
an assumption which it would be very rash to make.

The teachers in the Government schools have to hold a Government
certificate, which is obtained after a two years’ course in a normal
school. In the higher-grade schools a superior certificate is required,
involving an additional two years’ training. Private schools are
reckoned as part of the school supply, in a proportion to the total
which varies with the population of the school district. The school
supply is calculated, not on the basis of school places but of teachers;
roughly speaking, one master and one mistress are allowed to each
thousand of population. The total number of qualified teachers of both
sexes is eventually to be brought up to 30,000. The private schools have
to satisfy the inspector as to sanitary requirements only: no control
seems to be exercised over the instruction, nor is any certificate of
competence demanded of the teacher.

In addition to the elementary schools, the law provides for the
establishment of infant and night schools, schools for the deaf and
dumb, and all the machinery of a complete and comprehensive system of
secondary and higher education.

So much for the theory: the practice is another matter.

In the universities all the elements of university education are
lacking. The professors in many cases are ignorant and incompetent, and
those who are properly qualified for their work--and some of them are
men of scholastic and scientific attainments of no mean order, often
acquired abroad--are isolated, working in unsympathetic and even hostile
surroundings, and their knowledge is almost useless in the lecture-room,
owing to the fact that the students are absolutely destitute of the
grounding necessary in order to benefit by proper teaching. When by
chance a group of professors with real knowledge and enthusiasm happens
to be formed in an university, the results are surprising. This has
occurred at Oviedo, where, thanks to the existence of such a teaching
staff, an educational atmosphere was formed, the students were educated
and not merely crammed with a few useless facts, and extension lectures
were established with extraordinary success, especially among the
working classes.

In addition to a body of competent professors, the universities, if they
are to fulfil their function, need (_a_) a certain amount of
autonomy--at present they are merely bureaus for conducting
examinations and issuing diplomas; (_b_) reorganisation of studies, with
some liberty of choice to the student; (_c_) reform of the examination
system in the direction of substituting for the present examination by
subjects either a certificate based on attendance and general
proficiency or a final examination on leaving; (_d_) in scientific
subjects, a good deal more practical work; and in all branches of study
the abolition of the textbook, the committing of which to memory is now
the sole demand made on the candidate for examination.

A professor at one of the universities has summed up to me the present
state of these centres of learning in the following words:

“There is an absolute lack of any educational spirit, of any contact
between teachers and pupils, of any feeling of solidarity among the
students, of any organisation of games, excursions, &c., of any artistic
refinement, and of any organised effort to raise the moral standard,
to-day perhaps the most degraded in the world.”

When we turn to the administration of the elementary schools, the part
of the educational system which more directly and immediately affects
the working classes, we find the same general state of inefficiency and

A volume of school statistics was officially issued not long ago, of
which a useful summary was published in the _Heraldo de Madrid_ in
November, 1909.

From this it appears that while four provinces have the full complement
of Elementary schools required by the law, the supply in all the
remaining 45 is deficient, the shortage per province being from 772
schools downwards, and the total deficiency amounting to 9,505 schools.
The total increase of school supply between 1870 and 1908 is 2,150
schools, or an average of about 56 schools per year. At this rate it
would take over 150 years to catch up even to the school provision
required by the school law of 1857, without allowing for any increase of

But in another way, about two-thirds of the school districts of Spain,
or some thirty thousand towns and villages, have no Government school.
In Madrid about half the schools required by law are wanting. Barcelona
has a somewhat similar deficiency. And be it remembered that the school
supply is calculated in accordance with the law of 1857, the
requirements of which are far below those which obtain in any other
country in Europe, so that even in the very few districts where there is
nominally sufficient school accommodation there is actually a serious
deficiency according to modern standards of what is necessary. The
consequence, as the _Heraldo_ observes, is that some 12,000,000 of the
population do not know their letters.

But the towns where there is a school are not really much better off,
educationally, than those that have none. Save in very exceptional
cases, no attempt is made to enforce school attendance, and though some
of the parents send their children to school, the careless and
indifferent do not. The Alcalde, whose business it is to see that the
law is carried out, probably is--except in the larger towns--entirely
uneducated himself, and is not going to stir up possible ill-feeling by
enforcing a law which does not benefit him personally, and of which he
does not see the necessity. The Civil Governor, who is over the Alcalde,
and whose duty it is to see that the education laws are carried out,
probably is equally indifferent, and in any case has not the time to
supervise all the Alcaldes of the scores of towns and villages in his
province. The schoolmaster naturally does not trouble himself; his
salary does not depend on the number of his pupils, but on the
population of the school district. And, lastly, any attempt to enforce
the attendance required by law, were it made, must necessarily fail,
simply for lack of school accommodation, for already most if not all of
the elementary schools have many more children on the register than
there is room for. Thus school attendance, although nominally
compulsory, is in fact purely voluntary, with the usual results.

The supply of school material is the duty of the Central Government, as
already stated. This duty the Government delegates, not to the local
authority, but to the schoolmaster, who receives, in addition to his
salary, an allowance to scale for providing books, &c. The natural
result is that he looks on this allowance as an augmentation of salary,
and reduces the supply of books to the barest minimum, or to zero. It is
not to be expected that the schools should be liberally or even decently
supplied with these necessaries when every penny that can be saved on
them is so much clear profit to the teacher. The consequence--seeing
that books cannot be altogether dispensed with--is that the children
have to pay for them, and the intention of the law, that schooling
should be free to the poor, is frustrated.

The working classes, who, as has been said, honestly desire that their
children may receive some rudiments of education, do not as a rule like
the Government schools, because, they say, nothing is taught in them. It
is not at all uncommon for the teacher to absent himself altogether
from school during school hours. He may or may not set the children some
lesson--for instance, a passage to repeat over and over again--and he
may or may not lock the door after him when he goes away, but very often
the children are left entirely alone during the hours when the school is
open and they are supposed to be receiving instruction. Parents say, and
no doubt with truth, that the moral consequences of this lack of
supervision are exceedingly bad, and that a great deal of harm is done
to the majority by uncontrolled association with a few demoralised
children. A working man in a small provincial town complained to me that
a whole school had been corrupted by the evil influence of one boy older
than the rest.

It will naturally be asked why such a state of things is tolerated. The
answer is easy. It is the duty of the Alcalde to see that the
schoolmaster does his work and does not absent himself without leave.
But the Alcalde may be a friend or relative of the schoolmaster, or may
have other reasons for not worrying him by pedantically insisting that
he do his duty. Besides which, it is quite probable that the
schoolmaster is not being paid. His salary may not have been sent to the
_Ayuntamiento_, or if sent may not have reached him. According to the
article in the _Heraldo_ above referred to, the _Ayuntamientos_ are now
in debt to the school teachers for arrears of salary amounting to
7,000,000 pesetas--say £280,000. Therefore the negligent schoolmaster is
not unlikely to have a conclusive answer to any remonstrance that the
Alcalde might be inclined to make: “Pay me my wages and I’ll do my

The parents dare not complain. The Alcalde or the teacher, or both of
them, would make things unpleasant for the audacious parent who hinted
that either of them was not doing all he should, and there is further
the tradition of hopeless submission to misrule of all kinds, from long
experience of the uselessness and danger of protesting, which in itself
makes the working man reluctant to take any steps against those in

As far as can be gathered, the working classes seem on the whole to
prefer the private schools, in spite of the fee charged, on the ground
that in these schools the children are under some sort of supervision
and do learn something, if only, a little. But the fee, even where quite
low, is a serious obstacle to a labourer with a large family, who is
only earning some ten or twelve pesetas a week, and, as has been already
said, it often happens that only one child can be sent, who in the
evenings passes on what he has learnt to the rest of the family. But in
these schools it is the custom for the children to bring presents to the
master on certain occasions, and it is said that a child who does not
bring his present is neglected. “Only the children of those who have
money get any teaching,” the parents say.

In many towns most of the private schools are kept by nuns. These
schools, generally speaking, have not a good name. It is said that the
children who attend them are taught nothing but catechism and
needlework, and that the punishments given are often cruel and sometimes
disgusting. There was a great scandal lately in a town in the south, on
account of a punishment of a nature impossible to describe, inflicted on
a little girl in one of these schools. The father took steps to bring an
action against the convent in question, but the Civil Governor
interfered, and compensation was paid in order to have the matter hushed

There are schools, both public and private, where a better state of
things prevails, where the master is more or less of an enthusiast, and
where in consequence the children get decent elementary teaching;
indeed, in one village I was told that “the master of the Government
school taught very well, when he was sober.” Nevertheless it is a fact
that most of those few of the working classes who can read and write do
so badly; indeed, to decipher a letter, say from a domestic servant, or
a workman or small tradesman, is a labour of great difficulty, not only
owing to the bad writing, but to the extraordinary spelling, although
Spanish is the easiest of languages to spell correctly.

Still, in spite of all the obstacles created by administrative
incompetence, neglect, and corruption, some progress is being
made--enough at least to prove that the people would take immediate
advantage of a decently efficient school system. If any members of a
family can read, it is usually the children. I have often seen little
groups of older people seated round some child who reads the paper to

The desire of the working classes for education has brought about a
remarkable change in their attitude towards the conscription. This
change is the growth of recent years, and is the result of personal
efforts on the part of certain distinguished officers. Their feeling in
the matter may be summed up in the words of Colonel Ibañez Marin, who
met his death in the early days of the Melilla War: “My ambition is that
no conscript shall return to his home, after serving his first three
years, without being able at least to read and write.”

I am continually asked about the education of the working classes in

“They say that in your country every one is taught to read. Is it
possible that that is true? But you have a different kind of Government
from ours. Over there it seems that they attend to the interests of the
poor. Here you must be able to pay if you wish to learn anything.

“England must do something for us now that our King has married your
King’s daughter. If things here were conducted as they are over there,
Spain would be the happiest country in the world. But England will take
our part in everything now, so matters will improve.”

If the connection between King Edward and the Queen of Spain is
explained, and it is observed that one nation cannot interfere with the
internal affairs of another on the sole ground of relationship between
their respective rulers, the speaker will reply:

“You say that because Governments talk in that way, but we know better.
Are not kings human beings like ourselves? And if the Spanish Government
knows that Don Alfonso asks the King of England for advice, will they
not have to respect the advice he gives? It is not possible that England
should take no interest in our affairs when our Queen is your King’s

Perhaps one ought to explain that the only influence that England could
exert in their favour is that of public opinion, and that England is too
busy with her own affairs to have time to form an opinion about those of
Spain, far less to express it in a convincing manner. But it would be
cruel to deprive these people of the gleam of hope which has come to
them through the King’s marriage, so perhaps I say, “In the meantime
here are a few little reals for teaching,” and get the reply: “May God
repay you! My second boy can go to the night school for a month for
seven reals.”

A movement which has in it great promise for the future was started a
few years ago by certain able young university professors, who fully
realise how much of the backwardness of their country is due to lack of
education, with its resultant narrowness of mind and outlook, and
ignorance of the modes of life and thought of other nations.

The fundamental idea of this movement, as described to me by its
originator, is to create an organic body, independent of political
changes, which shall endeavour little by little to promote contact
between the teachers of all grades in Spain and their foreign
colleagues, and to form within the country small nuclei of workers to
diffuse in Spain the ideas brought from abroad, and to create an
atmosphere of sympathy and enthusiasm, without which scientific work
cannot flourish. On these lines two Committees were formed by Royal
Decree in January, 1907. One of these was charged with reforms in
elementary teaching, to be carried out by the establishment of classes
for teachers, by school inspection on modern lines, by sending selected
teachers abroad (the Government gives a grant for this purpose, the
administration of which was entrusted to the committee) and by grouping
and grading the schools, and encouraging and supervising holiday resorts
for teachers, school games, &c.--the whole of the reforms to be
introduced gradually, as circumstances might permit. To the other body
then created, a “Committee for the development of studies and scientific
research,” was entrusted the gradual formation of a staff of competent
teachers and professors for higher education generally and for
scientific studies.

But the work of these Committees, which, if steadily pursued, offers the
best hope for the intellectual regeneration of Spain, was paralysed in
the first year by Government interference. Between the formation of the
Committees and the issue of their first Annual Report a change of
Government took place, and the Ministry of Señor Maura, true to the
traditions of Clericalism, did their best to bring all effective work to
an end. They suppressed altogether the Committee charged with reforms in
elementary education, and set up in its place a mere official bureau,
powerless and useless. And though they did not actually abolish the
Committee for Higher Education, they succeeded in putting an end to all
effective work, by overriding its statutory constitution and curtailing
its freedom of action, by stopping supplies, and by delaying or refusing
the necessary official consent to measures proposed by the Committee.
For instance, whereas the Committee had made arrangements with the
French Ministry of Public Instruction for the disposal of the teachers
who held grants for study abroad, the Government refused to recognise
these arrangements unless they were made officially through the
ambassadors, with the result that in the year 1908 none of these
teachers were sent abroad. In the Budget for that year the sum set aside
for foreign study was reduced by 110,000 pesetas (about £4,400),
although in the previous year a quite exceptional number of applicants
for these grants had come forward. These instances are sufficient to
show the attitude of the Clericalists towards education, but the whole
Report of the Committee shows how at every turn their work was checked
and hampered after Señor Maura took office. With the return of a Liberal
Ministry to power it is hoped that the work will be once more
effectively taken up.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since the above chapter was written a Report on the present condition of
education, addressed to the Cortes, has been prepared by the Minister of
Education, and summarised in the Spanish Press. The following quotations
from this summary throw a lurid light on the actual state of affairs.

“More than 10,000 schools are on hired premises, and many of these are
absolutely destitute of hygienic conditions. There are schools mixed up
with hospitals, with cemeteries, with slaughterhouses, with stables. One
school forms the entrance to a cemetery, and the corpses are placed on
the master’s table while the last responses are being said. There is a
school into which the children cannot enter until the animals have been
taken out and sent to pasture. Some are so small that as soon as the
warm weather begins the boys faint for want of air and ventilation. One
school is a manure-heap in process of fermentation, (_sic_) and one of
the local authorities has said that in this way the children are warmer
in the winter. One school in Cataluña adjoins the prison. Another, in
Andalusia, is turned into an enclosure for the bulls when there is a
bullfight in the town.

“The school premises are bad, but most of the Town Councils do not pay
the rent, for which reason the proprietors refuse to let their houses.
Ninety per cent. of the buildings in which the schools are held are the
worst dwellings in the town.

“In Lucena the salary of a mistress is held back because she guaranteed
the school rent. The Municipality did not pay it, the school was going
to be evicted and the teaching to be interrupted, and that mistress, in
order to prevent this, pledged her miserable pay.”

Comment is needless: the facts, vouched for by the Minister of
Education, speak for themselves.



To face page 285.]



Among the sources of the national revenue of Spain there are several
which more especially affect the poorer portion of the community, or, by
hampering trade and manufactures, put obstacles in the way of the
national prosperity. Among these may be especially mentioned the Customs
duties, the tax on trades, business, and professions (_contribucion
industrial_) the _octroi_, or _consumo_, the creation and sale of
monopolies, and the national lottery. The total taxation of the country
is absolutely crushing, and makes Spain one of the dearest places of
residence in Europe.

The Customs are excessively high, especially for a country that has
comparatively few manufactures of its own to protect. To take a few
instances at random from the Tariff: Straw hats pay about 20 pesetas per
kilogramme; preserves, 3 pesetas per kilogramme; typewriters, 8 pesetas
per kilogramme; timber in boards, 6 pesetas per cubic metre; materials
of silk and velvet, from 30 pesetas per kilogramme; woollen materials,
from 13 pesetas per kilogramme; drugs at various rates from 36 pesetas
per kilogramme downwards, and so forth. The consequence is seen in the
prices charged in the shops for ordinary commodities. Thus Danish tinned
butter costs pesetas 2.75 per lb.; tapioca, 1 peseta per packet of about
¼ lb.; coffee, pesetas 2.50 to 3 per lb.; Keiller’s marmalade, 3 to 4
pesetas the 1 lb. pot; Burroughs & Welcome’s tabloids, pesetas 2.50 the
small bottle of 25; and most other things in about the same
proportion.[24] The Customs receipts form, with the exception of the tax
on real estate, the largest single item in the Budget. For the year 1909
they were estimated at pesetas 153,600,000 (£6,144,000).

The _Contribucion industrial_ is a tax upon every imaginable trade,
profession, and industry that can be exercised: on merchants,
manufacturers, shopkeepers, professional men of all sorts, on means of
transit, on public entertainments, on schools, newspapers--in short, it
is almost impossible to find any kind of business or occupation that is
not taxed.

The amount of the tax varies with the population, a scale of ten
different rates being drawn up according to the size of the town.
Bankers pay from about £300 a year downwards, according to the place of
residence; merchants from £200; shopkeepers from £70; hotels from £60;
contractors 6 per mil. on their contracts; railways £10 per kilometre
constructed, and a tax on their receipts; brokers from £80; newspapers
from £35; publishers from £25; private schools from £10; and so on. It
is tedious and unnecessary to accumulate instances.[25]

That such a burdensome tax as this necessarily hampers trade and goes to
prevent commercial and industrial development needs no demonstration:
the thing is self-evident. The compiler of the manual of this law says
in his Introduction, with perfect truth, that it has the radical defect
of making heavier demands as the trader’s profits fall, and that the
framers of the law, so far from attempting to harmonise the interests of
the Treasury with those of the taxpayer, thought only how to squeeze
him, so that the tax nips in the bud whatever might aid in the increase
of prosperity or open new fields for the productiveness of the nation.

This tax immediately affects the professional and commercial classes:
the poor, such as street hawkers, journeymen labourers, fishermen, &c.,
are exempt; but indirectly they too suffer, as naturally it helps to
increase the price of necessaries.

The greatest burden on the working classes--and it is a very grievous
one--is the _octroi_, or _consumo_, a heavy tax on nearly every kind of
food, drink, and fuel, and on timber, stone, lime, &c.; in short, on
nearly everything that is consumed in use. The fisherman has to pay
_consumo_ on his catch before he can sell it; the farmer on his dead
meat, poultry, and eggs brought to market; the charcoal-burner on his
charcoal; and so on. The tax, varying in details, is levied in every
town and village, and thus may be, and often is, paid twice over by the
same goods, if they happen to be conveyed from one town to another.

It is obvious that such a tax on the necessaries of life presses with
exceptional severity on the poor, and it is, moreover, steadily rising,
while wages remain stationary. It is usually farmed out to syndicates
which are said, and no doubt with truth, to be making enormous profits
out of it. These syndicates are believed by the people to consist in
many cases of persons who



[To face page 289.]

represent the Jesuits, and the oppressiveness of the tax and the steady
rise in its amount form another count in the heavy indictment of the
poor against the Religious Orders. The estimated receipts from this tax
in the Budget for 1909 were pesetas 58,000,000 (about £3,520,000).

“Everything in the country is dying of the _consumos_,” said a working
woman of about sixty years of age, who remembers with regret how much
easier the life of the poor was in the days of Isabel II. “Every four
years the contract for the _consumos_ in our province is put up to
auction, and every time they are sold the price is raised four or five
thousand duros,[26] and _we_ have to pay the difference. Yesterday
Manolo paid four duros _consumo_ for the fish he sold in the market, and
all he had for himself after twenty-four hours’ work was ten reals. The
man who rents the _consumos_ from the Government is rotten with money
(_podrido de dinero_): millions and millions of pesetas he has, all
wrung from the necessities of the poor. Don Alfonso does not like it;
every one knows that. If he had his own way there would be no _consumo_
for the poor. Already since he came into power we have been relieved of
the _consumo_ on wine, green vegetables, and potatoes, and they say that
two years hence, when the contract runs out, he wishes that it shall not
be renewed. But that would not suit the Government nor the Jesuits, who
are mixed up in this business. They would lose too much which they now
are able to put into their own pockets. So they would like to make
another revolution to get rid of Don Alfonso, as they got rid of his
grandmother, before their contract comes to an end. In her time bread
cost just half what it does now, twenty-five eggs cost five reals
(pesetas 1.25) instead of two pesetas a dozen, and for four cuartos we
could buy a piece of pork as big as we get now for two reals.[27] Salt
was free of _consumo_, so was oil, so was cheese, and shell-fish and
chestnuts sold in the street were not taxed, so that they could be
bought for much less than now, and the whole reason is because the
Government lets the taxes instead of taking the trouble to collect them
as was done in the time of Queen Isabella.”

Whether this good lady, whose words I have translated literally from
notes made at the time, was right or wrong in her supposition as to the
interest of the Jesuits in this tax, and as to the quadrennial increase
in the amount paid for it by the syndicate of farmers who exploit it, I
cannot say. I quote her words as an instance of what is said on all
sides by her class whenever the subject is mentioned, and as far as I
can learn she is quite correct in her comparison of the prices of food
now with those of forty years or so ago.

Tobacco and sugar are Government monopolies, farmed out to companies,
which also are popularly believed to be under the control of the
Jesuits. I have never seen any accounts of the profits of the Tobacco
Company, but their shares are quoted at about 390 to 400, which speaks
for itself. The tobacco they supply is very bad, and outrageously dear.
The estimated receipts from this source were pesetas 140,400,000

The sugar trust was created comparatively recently. A short account of
the last annual meeting of the shareholders was published by the Press
in November, 1909, from which it appears that the trust made a profit in
the year, in round figures, of pesetas 8,400,000 on a gross income of
pesetas 14,600,000 (say £336,000 on £584,000), and pays a dividend of 8
per cent. And during the past twelve months the price of sugar has been
rising, and now stands at about 7d. per lb. Figures like these,
relating to a necessary of life which is the one luxury of the poor, do
not require comment, especially in view of the fact that enough cane and
beetroot sugar for the entire needs of the population could be produced
in the country, where both soil and climate are suitable in a great part
of the southern provinces. But one company after another has been
crushed out of existence, and only ruined factories remain to remind the
traveller of what ought to be prosperous undertakings, beneficial to the
whole nation. From this source the State gets pesetas 31,600,000

Matches are another monopoly, also farmed out. They are of course bad
and very dear--½d. or 1d. for fifty matches, according to quality. The
conditions under which the operatives work are, I am told on good
authority, simply deplorable, and growing worse instead of better. The
estimated receipts are pesetas 10,000,000 (£400,000).

A tax which combines a maximum of irritation with a minimum of profit is
one which is levied on the business books of persons engaged in
commerce. Every page of the ledger, cash book, press copy book, &c., has
to be officially stamped at a charge of so much per page: the total
charge for a complete set of commercial books sometimes amounting to 500
pesetas (£20), and not only so, but the Government--presumably in order
to get more out of the tax--prescribes the method by which the merchant
must keep his books. I was told by the manager of a large foreign
industrial concern that he has to employ twice as many clerks as he
needs, solely because the authorities insist on a cumbrous and obsolete
system of book-keeping.

The law enacts that pious foundations which offer their manufactures for
public sale are liable to taxation. It is currently said that this
obligation is evaded. Whether this is the case or not I cannot say from
personal knowledge, but certainly any visitor can purchase sweets or
needlework made in the convents. Indeed, some of them are celebrated for
their confectionery, which is always sold a trifle under the cost of
similar goods made by a lay tradesman.

If the taxes were fairly and honestly collected, their amount could be
materially reduced. But as a matter of fact many are not collected at
all from the persons most able to pay. The tax-collector is usually
willing, for a consideration, to play the part of the unjust steward,
and take less than the proper amount. It is sometimes said that only
fools and foreigners pay the taxes, and cases have occurred in my own
knowledge where bribery in the proper quarter has effected a
substantial reduction in the amount accepted. Every resident in Spain
knows of such instances: the thing is notorious, is talked of quite
openly, and is done with hardly any attempt at concealment. It is
impossible to conjecture what proportion of the total taxes due is thus
informally remitted, but it must be something considerable.

Complaints about evasions of taxation frequently appear in the papers:
thus it was stated as a fact in the _Liberal_ in February, 1910, that
about 45 per cent, of those liable for _Contribution industrial_ evade
payment. In the same newspaper, in the same month, appeared a long
statement, signed by the officials of the Guild of Cab Proprietors in
one of the large towns, accusing certain owners of livery stables, who
let smart carriages for hire, of defrauding the municipality of some
50,000 pesetas (about £2,000) a year by falsifying the declarations on
which they take out their licences, and no attempt was made to show that
the accusation was unfounded. Complaints about evasion of taxation by
large landowners also are of frequent occurrence.

Quite recently the Government has seriously taken up this question of
falsified returns, especially in the case of real estate, and is making
a systematic inspection of the properties liable for taxation. An
immense amount of fraud has already been discovered in the towns, and
the case of the rural estates is probably worse. I was lately told of an
instance where, to my informant’s knowledge, an estate which adjoins his
own has been paying 60 pesetas a year, whereas it should have paid about
2,000. In some parts of the country the large landowners are doing their
utmost to oppose the carrying on of the Ordnance Survey, because the
effect of it would be to define and make public the extent of their

An ingenious mode of defrauding the exchequer of succession duties is
practised on a gigantic scale. This consists in depositing personal
property in the banks in the joint names of all concerned, actual
holders and heirs apparent, to the order of any one of them. Thus on the
death of the father, the owner of the personal estate, it passes to his
son without any legal intervention, and the Treasury is powerless to
collect the succession duties. Under the Spanish law as it now stands,
if one of the owners of such a joint deposit dies, the deposit pays a
proportion of the duties corresponding to the number of names in which
it stands: a half if there are two, a third if there are three, and so
on. In January, 1910, there were “undefined deposits” (_depósitos
indistintos_) as they are called amounting to nearly 519,700,000
pesetas (about £20,788,000) in the Bank of Spain alone, and Alvarado,
Moret’s Minister of Finance, obtained a Royal Decree dealing with these
deposits. His plan was simple: merely to make the joint deposit liable
for the whole duty on the death of any one of those interested. As this
would oblige the owner to pay if the heir died first, it is obvious that
the practice of depositing in joint names would at once come to an end.
But Cobian, Alvarado’s successor in Canalejas’ Ministry, suspended the
decree, a proceeding inexplicable in a Minister whose Chief loudly
proclaims his democratic principles. Meanwhile the depositors took
immediate advantage of the respite afforded them by the suspension of
the decree to transfer some 200,000,000 pesetas (about £8,000,000) to
banks abroad, and most probably a good deal more will go the same way.
The Religious Orders are fighting the decree tooth and nail, because
while legally formed associations, who do not desire to conceal their
capital, do not object to the decree, illegal associations, who have
reasons for secrecy as to their affairs, find in the system of joint
deposits an easy way of escaping their liabilities. It must be
remembered that most of the Religious Orders now established in Spain
are illegal, the Concordat only allowing of two, together with a third
not yet named.

It is always assumed, as a matter of course, that the whole
administration of the country is corrupt. When an unexpected deficit
appears in public accounts, governmental or municipal, when a sum of
money voted for a certain purpose has evidently not been spent as
intended, when, as frequently happens, money owing by the State or the
Municipality is not paid--in short, whenever there is anything in the
national or local administration of the public funds which calls for
explanation, it is taken for granted that some one in office has been
stealing. Whether this assumption is justified or not I do not pretend
to say. All I know is that it is universally made.

I asked a Spaniard on one occasion why a certain public building had
never been finished. “No doubt the Alcalde uses the money to keep up his
carriage,” was the reply. The man certainly did not know the facts, but
this was to him the most plausible explanation. When a few years ago
Admiral Cervera was ordered to fight the United States with ships armed
with obsolete guns and shells that did not fit them, every one said, and
still says, if the subject is spoken of, that officials in the
Government stole the money that ought to have been spent on the Navy.
The system extends, or is said to extend, from the highest ranks of
officialdom downwards, and if this is true, it must necessarily operate
in substantially reducing the total funds available for the Treasury.

A minor matter, which I only mention because, it goes to illustrate once
more the system of over-taxation with no adequate result, is the postal
service. A letter in Spain does not cost a penny, as it does everywhere
else; it costs twopence: of this three-halfpence are paid by the sender
and a halfpenny by the receiver. In exchange for this, the Government
gives a service which is indifferent in the large towns, and infamously
bad in the smaller towns and the rural districts, where there is no
security whatever that any given letter will reach sender or receiver,
and where, to my own knowledge, a very large number are lost.

Gambling in the national lottery, which is drawn about three times a
month, is almost universal, and an immense amount of money must be
wasted on it. I remember seeing a man in a second-class railway
carriage, after borrowing my newspaper to see the result of a drawing,
throw away at least a dozen tickets, representing a cost of either three
or five pesetas each. The lottery is conducted with absolute fairness,
and it might be argued that, as people will gamble, it is better that
they should do so on a straightforward lottery than, _e.g._, on
horse-racing or some other sport of doubtful honesty. On the other hand,
there is no doubt that the fact of these lottery tickets being thrust
under the noses of the public all day long, coupled with the reports
current in conversation and the particulars given in the Press of the
sudden wealth which has accrued to this and the other working man
through a lucky number, must foment the gambling spirit, which is
sufficiently rife in Spain without any such official encouragement. The
estimated net receipts from the lottery for 1909 were pesetas 35,250,000

It must be borne in mind, in connection with the universal venality of
the lower grades of the bureaucracy, that a certain amount of excuse is
to be found in the salaries they receive, which are miserably small in
amount and often in arrears. When a man has to keep himself and his
family on two pesetas a day, it is not surprising that he takes
advantage of the opportunities which his official position gives him to
increase by illicit means a wage on which it is quite impossible that he
should live decently and honestly.




The regeneration of Spain must necessarily be a slow process, for the
causes of her degradation are deep-seated, and are not to be removed by
mere legislative enactments or alteration of the machinery of
government. One of the principal difficulties with which the country has
to contend is the dishonesty of the bureaucracy, which paralyses any
reform that may be attempted. Of what use is legislation, when the laws
are not honestly administered? If what is the common talk of all classes
has any foundation whatever in fact, the whole of the bureaucracy, from
top to bottom, not excluding the inferior judiciary, is venal and
corrupt, and until a tradition of honest administration is established
amendment will be difficult, if not impossible.

The history of Spain for the last three hundred years affords an
illustration of the proposition established by Lecky[28] that “the
period of Catholic ascendancy was on the whole one of the most
deplorable in the history of the human mind.” In no country in Western
Europe has the Church of Rome been so entirely absolute and dominant,
since the Reformation, as in Spain, where the Inquisition instantly and
finally crushed out all freedom of thought and all opposition to
theological orthodoxy. The Church in Spain to-day enjoys the unique
position of holding a monopoly of the spiritual direction of the nation.
Although other creeds and forms of worship are tolerated, there is no
religious liberty. Everywhere else, even in Catholic countries, there is
a vigilant and hostile body of opinion, of more or less weight, which
necessarily contributes by its very existence to moralise the Church and
to enforce on the priesthood a certain standard of duty. In Spain this
check is absent. There is no rival Church, for the Spanish Protestants
are too few in number and too insignificant in position to make their
influence felt, and the working classes, who, as has been shown, are
bitterly hostile to the priesthood, are inarticulate, and powerless as
an influence corrective of abuses, while the middle classes, who might
do something towards enforcing a higher standard, are generally
speaking, indifferent.

To what extent the corruption of the spiritual power in Spain is
responsible for the low moral standard of the laity is an exceedingly
difficult question, on which I am not capable of pronouncing an opinion.
There is no doubt that Spain for the last three hundred years has
suffered from a succession of some of the worst, the most incompetent,
and the most corrupt rulers known to history. During all this time,
except perhaps during the thirty years when Charles III. was on the
throne, the Church was supreme. If the clergy, the directors of the
conscience of the nation, armed with the power of the confessional and
supported if necessary by the secular arm, had deliberately set their
faces against the system of public venality and corruption instituted by
Lerma and Olivares and continued by their subordinates and successors,
it is difficult to believe that the upas-tree would have grown so tall
and struck its roots so deeply as it has.

The excessive centralisation of the whole administration in Madrid,
coupled with the Spanish habit of writing long letters and reports about
every trivial question, which reports are referred for further
information from one official to another before the Minister or other
authority gives his final decision, paralyses all initiative and causes
infinite delays and annoyances over the simplest matters. On the other
hand, if effective local self-government were given under existing
conditions, the _Cacique_ would be even more powerful than he now is,
and Spain would be ruled, not by a single bureaucracy, but by a number
of irresponsible autocrats.

Thus before Spain can effectually reform herself there is needed a
change of heart, a vital conviction that only through honest and
fearless administration is redemption possible. An educated Spaniard
once observed to me, when discussing this matter: “In England you act on
the supposition that a person in office is an honest man, and if you
find that he is not, you punish him severely. In Spain we presuppose
dishonesty, and do not chastise the rogue when he is found out.” This is
perfectly true. There are swarms of official inspectors who are supposed
to inspect everything connected with the public administration. But the
inspectors themselves are venal, and for a sufficient consideration will
report that all is well when it is far from well. _Quis custodiet ipsos
custodes?_ It is the rarest thing to hear of any official being punished
for peculation or receiving bribes.

Every educated Spaniard is fully aware of this canker, which is rotting
the whole body politic: they talk to each other and to foreigners about
it with the utmost frankness, entirely recognising the greatness of the
evil and usually despairing of any amendment.

To turn to another side of the same question. In a different way the
bullfight is responsible for an amount of moral degradation that no one
but a Spaniard can adequately estimate. It is not only that the
spectacle of broken-down horses gored to death and a wild beast worried
for half an hour at a stretch is in itself debasing, but the whole
atmosphere created by the amusement is thoroughly vicious and degrading.
This is not merely my private opinion: I repeat what has been told me by
cultured and thoughtful Spaniards, who see in its popularity one of the
many obstacles to the growth of a higher standard of morality. Happily
there are indications that the taste for the sport is on the wane. I
know numerous members of the upper middle class and many working people,
both men and women, who object strongly to the institution, and never
attend a bullfight, and bullrings have been closed in many of the
smaller towns during the last ten years or so, for want of support. But
the vested interests--the cattle-breeders who make their living by
breeding the bulls, the impresarios who get up the shows, the companies
who have invested millions of pesetas in building bullring’s, the
thousands of men employed in them in various capacities, and the
bull-fighters themselves--form together a very powerful combination with
a good deal of political influence, and it will be many years yet before
this blot on civilisation disappears.[29]

One deplorable fact connected with the bullfights is the extent to which
they are patronised by foreign visitors, and of these the English are
among the worst offenders. I have been told, though I cannot vouch for
the truth of the statement, that one bullring close to Gibraltar is
practically kept going by the English spectators, and that but for their
support it would be closed. I know that Englishmen and English women, in
scores and hundreds, every year, some of them ardent supporters at home
of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, make a point,
when they come to Spain, of going to see the show. “No, I daresay I
shan’t like it,” they will say, “but when one is in Spain it is one of
the things one ought to see.” Let us hope that they do not realise that
their example goes to make the task of the Spanish social reformers
even more up-hill and heart-breaking than it need be.

I may instance an University professor who was wearing himself out in
the endeavour to raise the moral and intellectual standard of his
pupils. He himself was educated in England, and had the highest respect
for English customs and institutions and for the general code of English
honour. He told me that he had lain awake all one night trying to find a
reply to his lads when they said: “If the English, whom you hold up to
us as an example in so many ways, support the bullfight, there can be no
reason why we should condemn it.”

“And meanwhile,” said the professor bitterly, “your English ladies come
out of the bullring and tell me that what they have seen there proves us
to be a nation of barbarians.”

In this connection it should be remembered that Spaniards of all classes
have a great admiration for England and English institutions, which has
been recently increased thanks to the popularity of the Queen. One sees
this in all directions. English is beginning to replace French as the
first foreign language a young Spaniard learns; English games and
English fashions are rapidly being introduced; and one of the leaders
of the Republican party has proclaimed a democratic Monarchy on English
lines to be the best compromise possible under existing conditions in
Spain. So that the support which English visitors give to the bullring
is probably more influential for harm than that of other foreigners.

Materially, moreover, the bullring operates in a manner prejudicial to
the country. All the best land has to be given up to the bulls, which
require immense space to keep them from fighting each other. Thus great
estates, which, if cultivated, would employ numerous labourers and
produce a rich return, are lost to the nation.

In this matter, too, the Church might exercise a good influence and does
not. On the contrary, the Clericalist newspapers give at least as much
space to reports of the bullfights as do any others, and one of the
reproaches levelled against the clergy by the working classes is that
they attend these shows disguised in lay dress, and associate with
bullfighters, regardless of the prohibition of the Church. In the parish
leaflet already quoted, one of the cases of conscience put is “whether
it is a sin to attend a bullfight”: to which the answer returned is,
“No, it is not.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Setting aside the question of a moral reform, without which legislative
and administrative changes can produce little or no fruit, it may be
useful to consider what measures are urgently needed to contribute to
the intellectual and material development of the country.

First and foremost the Church should be confined to its spiritual
functions, and restrained from active interference in politics,
education, and business.

In a circular issued by the Bishop of Madrid in December, 1909, on the
duties of Catholics in the elections, it is laid down that the Catholic
voter must not vote for a Liberal as against a Catholic, and that a
Liberal is, _inter alia_, “one who refuses adhesion to the propositions
and doctrines laid down by the Apostolic See, _principally in reference
to the relations of the Church to the State_” (italics mine).

The attitude of Rome to what it calls “liberalism” is so well known that
there is no need to dilate upon it here. It is quite certain that unless
and until the Church can be excluded from intervention in the State, no
progress will be possible. The struggle will, no doubt, be severe, for
Spain is now the last stronghold of the Roman Church; but once the
democracy can make its voice effectively heard, the end will not be

In education the dominance of the Church is, if possible, more
prejudicial, more of an obstacle to progress of the best kind, than it
is in other branches of the work of the State, and the clergy in Spain,
as elsewhere, are resisting with might and main every attempt to set up
schools which are not under their control. A sufficiency of good and
well-conducted schools is one of the crying needs of the country; the
Clericalists say they are unable to finance even the Catholic schools
which already exist, yet the lay schools supported by the party of
progress, although trivial in number, are not only virulently attacked,
but are made the basis of a campaign against the Crown and the
Constitution, and every nerve is strained to rally “good Catholics” to
the fight against the spread of education among the poor.

Decentralisation of the machinery of administration is badly needed,
because under the present system vexatious and unnecessary delays must
occur, even were there every desire for progress on the part of all
concerned. But local government cannot be effective, as has already been
said, until the _Cacique_ is abolished.

Among what may be called the material elements of progress may be
briefly mentioned the need of improved means of communication,
especially good roads. Most of the roads which do exist in Spain are
very bad, and there are officially stated to be five thousand villages
to which there is no road at all--nothing but a track or path,
impassable for wheeled vehicles.

Much needs to be done to encourage agriculture, and to introduce
improved methods. Systematic irrigation would render fertile hundreds of
square miles of land, now sterile for lack of water. Phylloxera is
ravaging the vineyards, and a contagious blight is devastating the
orange plantations all over the southern provinces. Neither of these
plagues can be effectively combated by private enterprise: public aid
and public organisation are essential.

The postal service requires to be overhauled, and security taken, which
now does not exist, that postal matter shall reach its destination, and
that the contents be not stolen _en route_, as not infrequently happens.

Last, but not least, the conduct of elections must be reformed, so that
the working classes may have an effectual, instead of, as now, a merely
nominal vote. With a few notable exceptions they distrust their rulers,
of whatever party; it should be made possible for them to return to the
local councils and to the Cortes men in whom they have confidence, who
know what they want, and who will devote themselves with singleness of
mind to getting it. The hope for the future of Spain lies in the
democracy. The peasantry, from whose ranks the whole of the working
classes are more or less directly recruited, are sober, honest, and
industrious. They work long hours for low wages without complaint, and
employers--English, American, and so on--who come into contact with
large numbers of them in the numerous industries established by foreign
enterprise in the Peninsula, all speak in the highest terms of them as
labourers. In America, too, they are highly valued, and it is said that
the men who in the long run prove the most satisfactory and the best
able to bear the trying conditions of work on the Panama Canal are the
Spanish emigrants, of whom thousands cross the Atlantic every year.

As yet practically no member of this class, no matter what his natural
gifts may have been, has ever risen to a position in which he could make
his voice heard in the counsels of his nation. Many Spanish peasants
have, no doubt, succeeded in Spanish South America, and some of them
have come home again to spend their money and their declining years in
their native land. I am not aware that such men have been encouraged to
play a part in the politics of Spain, although their experience of the
outside world would be of the greatest value. But the frequent
instances of Spanish peasants rising to affluence abroad show that it is
not their own incapacity, but the crushing burdens imposed on them by
those in power, which are the cause of the miserable condition of the
peasantry at home. When a Spanish peasant gets a chance, he is well able
to profit by it.

Spain always seems to me like a great tree which for centuries has been
allowed to go unpruned. It is half smothered with branches which bear no
fruit, and the top is a mass of decay. Yet the trunk and the roots are
sound and strong, so that once the barren wood which saps the life of
the tree is cut away, a new and healthy growth will soon replace it. But
the longer the difficult and painful process of pruning away the dead
wood is delayed, the greater must grow the danger of a storm which will
tear up the tree, roots and all.

Still, in spite of all the drags on the wheels of progress, in spite of
ignorance, incapacity, and corruption, in spite of all the forces of
reaction and all their efforts to keep Spain in the Slough of Despond
from which she is struggling to emerge, one may say with Galileo, “_e
pur si muove_.” Some little advance is being made, slight and slow
though it be, and among the more thoughtful members of the younger
generation one sees signs of a new spirit--an intelligent appreciation
of the needs of the country and an honest and sincere resolve to work
for their attainment, which cannot fail to spread and to bear fruit in
due season. From the older generation nothing is to be hoped, but ere
long they will have yielded their places to the young men--university
professors, officers in the Army, journalists, and so forth, many of
whom have ideas and ideals, and only lack power and opportunity to put
them in practice. The little leaven is working, and though as yet it is
small in amount and the lump is large, those who wish Spain well need
not despair.

    “For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
       Seem here no painful inch to gain,
     Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
       Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

     And not by eastern windows only,
       When daylight comes, comes in the light,
     In front, the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
       But westward, look! the land is bright.”


While this book was in the press, the Spanish Government took a step,
the ultimate consequences of which may be of the utmost moment for the
country. In June, 1910, Señor Canalejas resolved to take definite action
in the matter of the Religious Orders.

The immediate cause of his determination appears to have been the
general discontent created by the numerous cases of clerical corruption
and intimidation alleged to have occurred in the recent elections to the
Cortes. A great meeting of protest was held at Madrid, in which both
Republicans and Socialists took part, and Señor Melquiades Alvarez, the
Republican leader, who not many months before had expressed his
willingness to compromise with the Monarchists on the lines of a
democratic Monarchy like that of England, deliberately went over to the
Socialists. This important _volte face_, coupled with the fact that at
the elections Madrid returned an overwhelming majority of Republicans,
seems to have spurred Canalejas to action.

This action consisted of a modest Royal Order requiring the fulfilment
of an edict of 1902, which compels the registration of all Religious
Orders established in the country since that date, and the payment of
the industrial tax on the trades they carry on. This was followed by a
decree permitting members of other than the State religion to display
emblems and notices outside their places of worship, and to hold funeral
processions, in accordance with the provision made by the law of the
land for liberty of conscience.

These two decrees hardly strike one as revolutionary; but they have been
enough to set the whole of the Church party in an uproar; and the
Primate, the Archbishop of Toledo, has thrown down the gauntlet, defying
the Government to put the decrees in force, on the ground that the
Church owes obedience to Rome alone, and that the State has no power to
interfere with it. At the moment of writing the Vatican is trying to
bully the Government by threatening to break off relations, the Catholic
Associations have telegraphed their grief and distress at the outrage
inflicted upon the Pope by these Royal Orders, the ladies of the
Ultramontane aristocracy have petitioned the Premier to reconsider his
determination to destroy the national Church and drag Spain’s religion
in the dust, and the whole clerical party are preparing a furious
campaign against the Government, which, needless to say, is warmly
supported by all the Liberal elements in the country. The working
classes are naturally delighted, and several of them have congratulated
themselves in my hearing on this excellent result of the King’s

“He has seen what religious liberty means in England, and that has given
him courage to defy the Jesuits. Viva Alfonsito!”




When Sagasta died three men were proposed as leaders of the Liberal
party, Moret, Montero Rios, and Canalejas, Montero Rios gave way in
favour of Moret, in order to secure the unity of the party, but
Canalejas preferred to lead a group of his own.

=Moret.=--Was a Republican until Alfonso XII. was proclaimed. He then
joined the Monarchical forces, the road being opened to him and many
others by the broadly liberal policy of Sagasta. He is English on the
mother’s side.

=Montero Rios.=--Also was a Republican until the Monarchy was
re-established. Then he also adhered to Sagasta, bringing in with him
his own group, thenceforth to be known as the Radical wing of the

=Rafael Gasset.=--A staunch supporter of Moret’s policy. He is the author
of the great irrigation scheme which is one of the most popular features
in Moret’s programme. His enthusiasm for this improvement in the
conditions of agriculture is so strong that his opponents have nicknamed
him “The Duke of the Reservoirs.” He is one of the strongest of the
younger Liberals, and his sincerity and devotion to the interest of the
working-classes have won him their confidence and respect.

The policy of the Liberal-Monarchist party is supported by the _Sociedad
Editorial de España_, which publishes three daily papers, all sold at 5
cmes. per copy, or 1 peseta per month:

=El Liberal.=--This paper has by far the largest circulation of any in
Spain. Its political news is edited in Madrid, and telegraphed thence
twice daily, for the morning and evening editions, to branch offices at
Bilbao, Murcia, Barcelona, and Seville, where the local notes and news
are added. Although conducted on Liberal-Monarchical lines, it is tinged
with democratic feeling. The Reactionists profess to consider it a
dangerous enemy to religion, and label its readers atheists and
anarchists. It is universally popular with the working classes.

=El Heraldo de Madrid.=--Edited and published in the capital on
Radical-Monarchical lines. On sale all over the country, but with a
comparatively small circulation among the working men outside of Madrid.

=El Imparcial.=--Edited on Liberal-Monarchical lines in the interest of
the working classes, with full reports and articles on public works of
every description, trades unions, schemes for social and industrial
reform, &c. It is on sale everywhere, and probably has the largest
circulation of any Madrid paper among the working classes in the
provinces, but does not come near _El Liberal_ in popularity.

The literary style of the writers employed by the _Sociedad Editorial_
is cultivated and refined, the flying of political kites is discouraged,
and personal abuse of opponents in politics finds no favour with the
directors. The Society is abusively called a “Trust” by the Opposition,
and reactionary journals daily publish headlines proclaiming that they
do not belong to the “Trust.” As a matter of fact the _Sociedad_ is an
ordinary limited liability company, well managed, and paying a good
dividend, and partaking in no respect of the evils of the Trust system.


=Canalejas.=--Was a Republican, but maintained his independence, although
adhering to Sagasta’s party, by proclaiming himself chief of a group of
progressive Liberals with Republican sympathies. The main plank in his
programme has always been a direct attack upon the Church and Religious
Orders. His policy is supported by the _Diario Universal_, but it has a
small sale and is hardly known by working men outside of Madrid.


The three most distinguished men in this party--=Melquiades Alvarez=,
=Blasco Ibañez= and =Rodrigo Soriano=,--are all celebrated for their
literary and oratorical gifts, and enjoy the respect and confidence of
the veteran Liberal leaders, Moret and Montero Rios. Their policy may be
described as Republican in idea, but democratically Monarchical in
practice, and their demands for vigorous measures of reform have
materially strengthened the hands of the Liberal-Monarchists.

The organ of this party is _El Pais_, which, although its sale is very
much smaller, has the largest circulation among the working classes
after _El Liberal_. The paper, as might be expected from the literary
renown of the leaders who direct it, is extremely well written, the
staff including some of the most highly educated Progressives in Spain.
It is possible, however, that the standard of intellectuality maintained
in its leading articles militates against its success with the people.
The numerical strength of the Republicans is small. Thus, the
circulation of _El Pais_ being comparatively limited, the Reactionists
are not nearly so much afraid of its influence on the country as of that
of _El Liberal_, and indeed seem to treat it almost with indifference.
It is sold at the same price as the papers of the _Sociedad Editorial_.


=Lerroux, Pablo Iglesias, Nakens.=--The Socialists in Spain have a very
small following, and that confined to a few of the industrial cities,
chiefly in the north. They formed a coalition with the Republicans to
secure the rout of the Clericalists at the Municipal Elections of 1909,
but the party is disunited, Iglesias and Lerroux seldom coming into line
with each other, while neither of them goes so far as Nakens, editor of
the Socialist organ _El Motin_ and a violent revolutionary. _El Motin_
has a very small circulation, and the programme of the Socialists has no
serious influence in Spanish politics.

The Separatist, Regionalist, and other groups of Catalans exist solely
for the political purposes of that province, and play no part in the
programme of either of the national parties.

The so-called Anarchist party, of which so much has been heard abroad,
is practically non-existent. Their sporadic publications have no genuine
circulation and seldom live for over a month.[30]


The leader of this party, =Maura=--for many years a Liberal and the
intimate friend of Moret--adopted Conservative principles under Silvela,
and on his death was chosen to be leader of the Conservative party. His
Liberal proclivities at first influenced him in the direction of reform,
and gave him a strong and united following among the true Conservatives.
But as time passed he developed so much religious fervour that he has
now become recognised as the protagonist of the Religious Orders and the
hope of the Church in the rapidly approaching final struggle with the
State. Down to July, 1909, Maura was able to hold the Conservative party
together, notwithstanding the marked development of reaction in his
policy. But after the events at Barcelona the Conservatives proper
withdrew their support on his programme of repression, and since his
Cabinet fell in October of that year, he has been universally regarded
more as the tool of the Ultramontanes than the leader of the
Conservative party.

The organ of Maura is _La Epoca_. It is sold in Madrid at 10 cmes., but
is never seen on the bookstalls at any distance from the capital, and
can only be obtained in provincial towns by paying three months’
subscription to the Madrid office in advance. Its circulation is
exclusively confined to the Clericalist aristocracy and plutocracy, by
whom it is subsidised.


This party, which numbers many of the richest men in Spain among its
adherents, besides all the Religious Orders, with their enormous wealth
and influence, is directed from the Castle of Frohsdorf by =Don Jaime,
Duke of Madrid=, through persons whom he appoints in every province of
Spain. The name brought most frequently before the public in connection
with the party, after the Pretender’s own, is that of =Llorens=, whose
work in the Melilla campaign is referred to in Chapter VII. The
Pretender has a complete organisation all over Spain, with _Caciques_ in
a large number of provincial towns and villages, and is supported by
numerous religious associations, clubs, colleges, &c., of a confessedly
militant character, but confined to the upper classes.

The leading organs of the Carlists are the _Correo Español_ and the
_Correo Catalan_, with offices in Madrid, Paris, and Barcelona; but
practically all the reactionary Press supports the claims of the
Pretender more or less openly. The Carlist papers have no sale among the
working classes, and can only be obtained outside of Madrid (like _La
Epoca_) by paying three months’ subscriptions in advance.

       *       *       *       *       *

Among military politicians much in the public eye may be mentioned
Generals =Luque=, =Weyler=, and =Lopez Dominguez=, all on the Liberal side,
and all strong men, in whom the people feel confidence. =Aguilera=, twice
Alcalde of Madrid under Moret, who has been referred to in Chapter
XIII., is highly popular with the poor of Madrid, owing to his
consistent kindness to the children, whom he takes under his special

Count =Romanones=, who engineered the crisis of February, 1910, is
credited by the working classes with having large interests in the mines
of Beni-bu-Ifrur, and with having schemed to bring about the war in
Morocco, in order to put money into his own pockets. This impression,
whether well or ill founded, is sufficient to make him cordially hated
by them. He is credited with aspiring to the leadership of the Liberal
party, but it is hardly probable that his following would prove strong
enough to give him that position.

=La Cierva=, Minister of the Interior in Maura’s Cabinet, obtained an
unenviable reputation in 1909, through his share in administering
Maura’s policy of repression. Since his leader went out of office La
Cierva’s name has hardly been mentioned among the working classes.


=Dato=, =Sanchez Toca=, and _Gonzalez Besada_ are the three leading
dissentients from Maura’s policy of reaction, and now stand for the old
Conservative-Monarchical programme of peace and conciliation without
sensational reforms. Their organ is the _Correspondencia de España_, an
eight-paged paper, well printed and got up, containing the fullest
military intelligence and the best foreign news to be found in the
Spanish Press. It has a far larger circulation than any other
Conservative or Clericalist paper, and is to be seen on most of the
kiosks in large towns. If it were not believed by the people to be
subsidised by the party opposed to electoral and social reforms, its
influence in the country would doubtless be considerably stronger than
it is. At present the working classes do not read it, although no other
paper gives nearly as much matter for the price, which is 5 cmes.


Aguilera, Señor, 240

_Alcalde_, the, 265 note

Alfonso XII., 112

Alfonso XIII., 122-4, 182, 318

All Souls’ Day, observation of, 46;
  scandal connected with Masses on, 84-6

_Ayuntamiento_, the, 265 note; 274

Baptism, 47

Barcelona, effect of riots, 17;
  refugees from, 90, 92;
  Carlist activities in, 134 ff.;
  stories of riots, 165-6;
  bombs in, theory of, 181 ff

_Beatas_, 21

“Bull of the Crusade,” 64

Bullfight, the, 307 ff

Burial, 48, 50-1

_Cacique_,the 230-3

Canalejas, Señor, 243-6, 317-9

Carlists, alleged plots of, 167, 176;
  army, 155-6;
  party, 321

“Catholic Associations,” 163

Church, attitude towards people, 31-2;
  illegal disposal of property, 80 ff;
  unique position of,in Spain, 304

Civil Guard, the, 175, 218 ff

Clergy, children of, 79-80, 106-7;
  arming and drilling of, 161, 164

Clerical Press, the, 28, 169, 235, 320-1

Confessional, the, 43, 73 ff

Conscription, consolidates Monarchy, 111;
  conditions of exemption, 209;
  proposals for alteration, 210

Conservatives, the, 251, 256, 322

_Consumo_, the, 15, 288

_Contribucion industrial_, 286

Convent schools, 275

_Correo Catalan_, the, 151, 172, 243, 321

_Correo Español_, the, 163, 321

_Correspondencia de España_, the, 254, 322

Crossing, modes of, 65-7

Cuban War, stories of, 200-3

Customs’ duties, 285

Demonstrations, clerical, 191-4

     “           popular, 174

Education, desire for, 15, 33

_Ejercito Español_, the, 152, 238

Electoral system, 229-33

Employers and employed, relations of, 23 ff

England, misunderstanding of Spanish politics in, 227, 257;
  hopes of people from, 277, 318;
  admiration of, in Spain, 309

Ferrer, 147-9, 170, 325

Gasset, Señor, 236, 317
Governments, distrusted by working classes, 30

_Heraldo de Madrid_, the, 187, 229 note, 257, 270, 318

Honesty, 62

Hume, Major Martin, quoted, 133, 228

Illiteracy, 263, 271

Images, belief in, 52-3, 55-8

_Imparcial_, the, 114, 318

Irrigation scheme, 237

Jaime, Don, of Bourbon, 117, 153-4, 166, 170

Lay schools, the, 169;
  clerical campaign against, 190-1, 193

_Liberal_, the, 35, 172, 294, 317

Llorens, Señor, 152-3, 163, 321

Lottery, national, 298

Luque, General, 238

Madrid, attitude of, towards the South, 26-8

Marriage among working classes, 48-9

Matches, monopoly of, 292

Maura, Señor, 35, 115, 137-8, 144, 150, 203, 234, 245, 251-3, 256, 280, 320

Melquiades Alvarez, Señor, 259, 317, 319

Monopolies, Government, 291-2

Montero Rios, Señor, 242, 317

Moret, Señor, 137, 173, 228, 234, 237, 239, 241-3, 253, 258, 317

Morocco, war in, 200 ff

Morral, 144, 148

Moslems, mixed with Spaniards, 28-9;
  traditional feeling against, 207

Municipal elections, 1909, 237

_Nuevo Mundo_, the, 7

_Pais_, the, 171, 223, 319

Paz, Infanta Doña, 207

Penitential dress, 64

Penitents, 53

Police, various bodies of, 215 ff

Politics, difficulties of understanding, 228

Popular songs, 142-3

Postal service, 298

Prayers quoted, 67-8

Primo de Rivera, General, 203

Public instruction, system of,
264 ff

Purgatory, popular view of, 44

Queen, the, animus of clergy against, 120;
  feeling of working people towards, 121-2, 128;
  courage shown by, 182

Queen-Mother, the, 113, 115

Religious Orders, the, change of people’s attitude towards, 17;
  positions in Spain illegal, 90;
  relations to working classes, 93;
  underselling of workpeople by, 94-5, 105;
  people ruined by, 97-102;
  refusal to help at time of distress, 102;
  evasion of taxation by, 295;
  measures adopted by Government, 317-8

Republicans, the, 239, 258-60, 317, 319

Reservists, supposed protest against calling out of, 204

Romanones, Count, 240, 322

Royal Family, suppression of news about, during the Maura _régime_, 116, 123-6

Sanchez Toca, Señor, 254

School supply, facts about, 270

_Serenos_, the, 217

Socialists, the, 237

_Sociedad editorial_, the, 139, 171-2, 317

Squilache, Marquesa de, 116-7

Sugar monopoly, 291

Taxation, evasions of, 294

Tobacco monopoly, 291

Tradition, influence of, 16, 145

Truth-telling, 61

Universities, the, 268

Upper classes, general character of, 32; religion of, 40

_Vigilancia_, the, 217

War Fund, initiated by the Queen, 117 ff, 127;
  contributions of workpeople to, 119

Working classes, general character of, 14, 30;
  what they read, 34;
  religion of, 39 ff

Zaragoza, explosion of bombs at, 188

                           The Gresham Press
                        UNWIN BROTHERS, LIMITED
                           WOKING AND LONDON


[1] The last edict of expulsion was issued in 1712.

[2] Isabella the Catholic made an order for the expulsion of the
unconverted “Moors” in 1501, but a very large number of them, whether
nominally Christian or not, remained until driven out by Philip III.
After the massacres commanded by Philip II. in Granada, the Moriscos
who were expelled from that kingdom did not apparently leave Spain, for
two years later an edict was issued for their registration.

[3] What Lecky says about the seventh and following centuries might be
applied to the religion of the upper classes in Spain to-day: “It is no
exaggeration to say that to give money to the priests was for several
centuries the first article of the moral code” (“History of European
Morals,” ii. 216).

[4] I know several cases of lads of fourteen or fifteen who return
after working from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the fields, to sit over their A
B C and pot-hooks until they can keep their eyes open no longer, while
the rest of the family look on and encourage the student.

[5] One of the various local terms for what the guide-books call _olla
podrida_--a universal dish in Spain.

[6] Lecky, “History of European Morals,” ii. 213.

[7] Sweet cakes and _patisserie_, the foundation of which is generally
finely grated stale bread.

[8] Two favourite sweetmeats.

[9] From the Basque _ama_, a mother; applied to the head servant in the
house of a priest or other man living alone.

[10] Hume, “Modern Spain,” p. 550.

[11] It is said--although I repeat the statement with all reserve--that
there are “parish” doctors employed by the Municipality of Madrid who
refuse to prescribe for a dying child unless the mother can show her
marriage certificate.

[12] “Modern Spain,” p. 563.

[13] It was stated as a fact that nineteen men in one regiment had
been shot for refusing to go into action, and an Ultramontane of my
acquaintance, who never reads anything but the newspapers of his own
party and never travels ten miles from his own village, solemnly
assured me that the tale was true!

[14] I was told at the time that many people in Madrid thought the bomb
was thrown on behalf of the Pretender.

[15] The names of the monastery and of all the people concerned were
given me, but I refrain for obvious reasons from publishing them.

[16] It is said that the Association of Social Defence promises its
working men members a retaining fee of 3 pesetas a day should political
exigencies compel them to leave their work at any time, the average
labourer’s wages all over the country being from 1.50 to 2 pesetas. It
has not been possible to obtain trustworthy information, either as to
terms of membership or the actual numbers who have joined the league
during the last twelve months, but there is evidence that it has no
influence among the working classes generally.

[17] I have been told by an English friend that a Spanish acquaintance
of his has, to his knowledge, lately made a substantial sum by selling
arms to the Religious Orders.

[18] Most of them had been re-opened after Moret took office in
October, 1909, as already mentioned.

[19] This story evidently relates to the early days of the Cuban war.

[20] This is not the only statement of the kind that I have heard.

[21] “Modern Spain,” p. 531.

[22] So clearly is this recognised on all sides, and so impossible does
political honesty on the part of the rich appear to Spaniards, that the
_Heraldo_, the leading moderate-Liberal paper, in the course of its
comments on the rejection by the English House of Lords of the Budget
of 1909, said that if the Lords permitted the people to vote as they
pleased, this action on their part would have been justifiable, but
that naturally they would take the usual means to secure the suffrages
of those over whom they had control, and with the immense wealth at
their command would easily influence the elections in the direction
they desired.

[23] In Spain not only every city, but every town and nearly every
village, has its _Ayuntamiento_, more or less equivalent to our town or
village Council, and its Alcalde, who has a good deal more power than
the Mayor of a Corporation.

[24] The peseta is the same as the franc.

[25] The sums set down in the schedules are less than those named. The
tax has been increased at different times, and the additions amount in
all to about 66 per cent.

[26] The Spanish dollar, value five pesetas, and counted by the poor as
twenty reals.

[27] The cuarto was a little over two centimes.

[28] “History of European Morals,” Chap. IV.

[29] In a decaying town of some 15,000 inhabitants, once wealthy and
prosperous, two large new buildings have been erected during the last
half-century, while on all sides dwelling-houses, great and small, are
falling into ruin. These are the Jesuit College and the bullring; and
the people say that the one is the parent of the other.

[30] For a full account of the political parties in Spain see “The
Backwardness of Spain,” by John Chamberlain. The author has an
exhaustive knowledge of the country, and of many phases of society in
Spain, but in my opinion he has not informed himself of the mind of
the provincial and rural population. This class, if only from their
numbers, cannot fail to exercise a strong influence over politics, when
once they obtain the right to vote which the Constitution gives them.

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