|Revolution In Spain
Author: Knapp, William I.
Revolution In Spain
From the time of the Carlist uprising (1833-1840), the history of Spain
has been full of vicissitudes, with frequent political and military crises.
Among the changes that have taken place in the Kingdom since 1840 none is more
important than that brought about by the Revolution of 1868, which resulted in
the deposition and banishment of Queen Isabella II. Under the regency of her
mother, Maria Christina, Isabella succeeded her father, Ferdinand VII, in
1833, the child-Queen being then but three years old. Ten years afterward she
assumed personal control of the Government, but by marrying her cousin,
Francisco de Assisi (1846), and especially by permitting her sister to marry
the Duke of Montpensier, son of Louis Philippe, King of France, she weakened
her position in Spain, where it was the object of the French monarch to secure
a lasting influence for his house. The reign of Isabella was troubled by the
frequent rise and fall of ministries, by rebellion in Cuba, complicated with
filibustering movements from the United States, by war with Peru, and by many
other disturbances at home and abroad. From 1864 to 1868 the annals of Spain
record an uninterrupted series of popular conspiracies and military
insurrections. But more than anything else the personal vices and
misgovernment of Isabella operated against her and at last precipitated the
revolution that drove her from her throne and her country. The events of this
upheaval are recounted here with dramatic and picturesque effect by Knapp, an
enthusiastic yet judicial historian.
In 1864 the well-known orator Don Emilio Castelar published a strong
article in a Madrid journal satirizing a recent gift. Queen Isabella had
presented to the Premier, Narvaez, three-fourths of her income for one year
for his eminent services to the dynasty. There was no doubt as to the
service, but the cause was not popular. So Castelar headed his article El
Rasgo ("the stroke of generosity"), and Narvaez expelled him from his chair of
history in the university. The students, joined by the masses, made a
demonstration in the Central Plaza - the Puerta del Sol. The troops were
ordered to fire on the defenceless people. Hundreds were killed, and the
Queen was compelled by public indignation to dismiss Narvaez. The alternate,
Leopoldo O'Donnell, was called, and the incident ended.
In January, 1866, Don Juan Prim made his unlucky coup at Aranjuez.
O'Donnell was on the alert, for both men were veterans in conspiracy.
Suspecting that Prim might be meditating another station in the long via
crucis of retribution, he had sent the suburban garrisons travelling about by
rail, as they do in Spain when it is convenient to occupy idle elements of
danger. So Prim rose with his troops at Aranjuez, but his confederates at
Alcala made no sign. As usual, he called it a betrayal and fled over the
neighboring border. A few shots early in the dawn against a dead wall in
Madrid, a thousand exiles for France, and the dupes of Prim had paid the debt
of their temerity.
But Prim was no common conspirator. From the frontier of Portugal he
addressed a word to the nation: "Because I tread foreign soil, is the work
thus to end? No, a thousand times, no! The external obstacles that keep me
at bay for a moment will soon be removed. The forces of revolution are the
same as before, the necessity the same. Even though I should not share its
glories, the revolution will come. But I shall be at my post. Courage,
Spaniards, the day of retribution draws nigh. We have opened the campaign for
the people, and the people never die. Our foes, of themselves, can do
nothing; their hope lies in our despair. They cannot afford to risk an
encounter; a single blow will achieve our triumph."
This attempt of Prim in January was but one of a series that fill up the
remaining months. Isabella II was encircled by the ever-narrowing bond of
fate; by a hedge of bristling steel. The notes of that swan-song of 1856
echoed in the corridors of the palace; the "Dance of Death" clattered on the
marble floor of her alcove. On June 22d it sounded again; this time close by
her mansion, in the barracks she had reared to protect her.
San Gil, or St. Giles, is a large caserne, or military depot, like those
buildings that Napoleon III set up over Paris. The garrison rose in San Gil
on that day and slaughtered their chiefs in cold blood. The populace,
forewarned and forearmed, poured into the streets and there were a rush and
roar and barricade. An insurrection in Madrid is a sight to see, but not to
be forgotten. At the first note of alarm, there are shrieks and running, the
ponderous siege-doors of shop, hotel, and cafe are shut with an ominous crash,
and the street exits of private houses are secured by mediaeval bolts and
bars. An affair like this is put down - if put down at all - by occupying the
plazas and corners with artillery. Then the cavalry parade the streets, and
the warfare of small arms begins.
More than eight hundred bodies lay dead in the streets on that day; but
the Government triumphed. Both Narvaez and Serrano fought well, and for the
nonce aided the Premier. But it was that kind of support which is soon coined
to profit. When order was restored, the country was placed in a state of
siege and the work of vengeance began. More than threescore and ten were led
to the wall beyond the perimeter of the town and there shot. The most eminent
statesmen and writers fell under the ban, and thousands followed their
comrades to exile. But it was the final blow; at the next, the nation and the
world will assist.
O'Donnell had again saved the Bourbon monarchy, and as a consequence
Isabella, always short-sighted, always acting under the impulse of a personal
bias for the Moderados, dismissed him on July 10th. "She has sent me off,"
said he, "like the meanest of her servants; but I will never again be a
minister under that woman." The same day Narvaez, the champion of despotism,
was installed in the presidency, and O'Donnell took the way to Biarritz - to
One bright afternoon in the autumn of 1867 I first saw Isabella in the
presence of her people. I was standing on the edge of the grand square of the
town. A picturesque throng of strangely dressed humanity was slowly moving
along in the direction of the gossiping Prado. Of the women, some had black
veils on their heads, some silk kerchiefs; none wore the bonnet of Europe.
The men walked mincingly beside their women, their arms hidden beneath the
folds of the graceful capa. I thought how little Romanic they seemed who had
suffered six centuries of Rome. Their gait, the wary eye, the solemn, eager
manner, savored more of Judea than of Latium. The political captivity in
which they then groaned added a still deeper shade to their traditional gloom.
Since those terrible days in June of the previous year there was nothing more
to be done but to watch and wait. The walls of the public buildings were
riddled and scarred by the missiles of recent combat. The point of most
desperate resistance, the course of attack and defence, could be read on the
walls and traced from St. Giles to Atocha, the opposite extremes of the city.
O'Donnell had but just died in France as we crossed the frontier. When
Isabella heard of this she coldly remarked, "Well, he said in July he would
never serve 'that woman' again; he has kept his word."
While we stood gazing and thinking on the Puerta del Sol a company of
cavalry rode in from the farther end of the square, by the street that leads
to the palace. Then an open landau drawn by six sleek and well-sheared mules
advanced toward the spot where we stood. Mounted officers in showy uniform
rode after on either side of the carriage. In it were Isabella and the Prince
Consort on their way to the suburban church of Atocha. The royal pair sat
with faces partly averted, and that of the Queen was the picture of hate and
revenge. Not a soul of all the large company gathered on the great forum
uncovered or uncloaked as she passed. Each one gazed steadily upon her in the
provoking attitude of contempt. Ours were the only friendly manifestations,
and they were justly interpreted as the neutrality of strangers.
We were again in Madrid at the opening of the historic year 1868. The
month of January began with a public renewal of reaction. Her Majesty had
resolved to support the temporal power of Rome against the encroachments of
Italy and the contingencies of the hour. As an illustration of the mediaeval
sort of eloquence indulged in by Congress, we will give an extract from the
session of January 3d. The question was on the reply to the usual Crown
message. A man with a foxlike countenance arose and said:
"I wish to say that we shall transmit to the throne of our august
sovereign the expression of our profoundest satisfaction at the magnificent
words by which she has exalted the sublime position she occupies; by which she
reminds Europe that she is proud to wear the glorious epithet of Catholic
Queen; by which she reminds Spain and the universe entire that she is seated
on the throne of St. Ferdinand, of Isabella I, and of the great Philip, that
right arm of Christianity." This effort of the respectable academician, Don
Candido Nocedal, drew from the members present fervent cries of "Hear! Hear!"
Poor Spain! she will never get over those one hundred years of prosperity she
had from 1492 to 1598, the period when her chains were forged.
We have said that O'Donnell died at Biarritz the previous November. In
April an event occurred that gave a new impulse to Spanish politics and
startled the palace more than the nation. Narvaez, the Boanerges of the
retrograde party, was no more! The arm on which mother and daughter had
leaned for a quarter of a century, was withdrawn from the living.
The Cortes met and delivered their jeremiad over the remains of their
fallen chieftain. In amount it was a sarcasm and a challenge; in fact, it was
a confession of defeat. "We shall retire from his coffin," said one,
"impressed with this single patriotic idea, that if the school of anarchy and
tumult is eager to show its hand once more, in the conviction that, because
there is no longer an O'Donnell or a Narvaez, the breach lies open and triumph
secure, we shall be found standing shoulder to shoulder under the banner of
order, liberty, and the throne."
All through the speeches of that day the veteran Premier was represented
as the type of moderation and the stanch protagonist of progress. He had even
been heard to say a few days before that order had become so deeply
inracinated, and its enemies been taught such severe lessons, he was intending
ere long "to abandon the repressive policy, and allow some slack to the tight
"Yes," cried Castelar from his exile at Brussels, "for ye cannot long
pull on a rotten cord." The climax was reached by another speaker, who
remarked that everybody knew Narvaez was a liberal man, and no one could deny
it. No one was present to deny it, for the truly liberal parties had long
since abstained from the national councils.
The supports on which Isabella II had rested for so many years had
vanished from her grasp in five short months, and sunk into the mould of the
tomb. The political situation demanded generals, not the routine parasites of
a court. As her friends had been growing into age, her foes had been ripening
into manhood. The surviving military men were not on the side of the Crown.
Prim was now in London; Topete at Cadiz; Serrano in Madrid, abiding his time.
All was calm on the surface, but it was the sinister calm of foreboding.
Gonzalez Bravo was fixed on to succeed the Duke of Valencia - a
politician, after all, of the school of the stalwart Moderado. It was a
fitting choice, for it was both natural and convenient that the first
conservative Prime Minister of the Queen's majority in 1843 should now come
forward to witness the work of his party and attend the victim to exile.
Isabella, bred in despotism and intrigue, knew not how to enter on a period of
righteous government, or she knew it was too late. She had pledged her Crown
to sustain the Holy Father against the cry of her people, and she resolved to
stand by her traditional policy. Having chosen this ground before Narvaez's
death, she refused to yield a tittle to the new situation.
In the mean time a spirit of conciliation pervaded all parties outside
the immediate entourage of the palace. Suddenly, on July 7th, a detonation
fell on the summer air, and a strong arm intervened. All the leading generals
of the confederated parties, all over Spain, were arrested at break of day and
thrown into prison. At the same time the Duke and Duchess of Montpensier were
invited to proceed at once to Lisbon. The prisoners, among whom were Serrano,
Caballero de Rodas, Cordova, and Dulce, were soon hurried off to Cadiz, and
thence to the Canary Islands, or to other remote fortresses of the realm.
The Montpensiers were slow to leave their pleasant palace of St. Elmo and
the cool shades of their gardens by the Guadalquivir, within sight of the
Alcazar, the Cathedral, and the graceful Giralda. But the order was
peremptory, and on the 16th they were transported to Lisbon on a ship-of-war.
This vigorous action was not inopportune. The conspiracy, brought to
naught by the Cabinet, five days after the departure of the court for the
country, involved a serious programme. It was no less an affair than the
abduction of the royal family by night, and the proclamation of Montpensier as
King. This scheme had only the Union Liberal with it - men like Serrano and
Topete; and it is probable that the authorities obtained the clue to the
project from disaffected "Progressists." Thus the new Government was
inaugurated. At the moment the preparations were complete and the tocsin
about to sound, the hand that was to be smitten smote, and all was changed.
July 3d the court had left Madrid as usual for the season. First they
repaired to La Granja, officially called San Ildefonso. This is a Crown
domain with palace and park and fountains, about forty miles northwest of the
capital. It was established by Philip V, the first Bourbon King (1700-1746),
to replace his accustomed Versailles. Frenchmen still call it Le petit
Versailles. In August, Isabella left La Granja, with her ministers and suite,
and passed over the mountain to the Escorial. Flitting messengers of evil
seemed brooding over this retreat, and the manes of her fathers lurking in the
From this point the royal company moved quickly forward to the Cantabrian
coast. In this same month of August a similar scene was taking place in the
Imperial Court of France. As Isabella travelled northward to her frontiers,
so Napoleon III travelled southward to his. From Biarritz and from San
Sebastian the two sovereigns could sit in their doors and survey each other's
There was to be an alliance and a banquet. Intent on her policy, renewed
at the opening of the year, Isabella was to agree to send to Rome thirty
thousand Spanish troops, so that Napoleon might recall his army of occupation
at the "opportune moment." The opportune moment was to attack Germany. For
this purpose the Emperor, Empress, and Prince Imperial were to accept a
banquet at San Sebastian, in the Province of Guipuzcoa, on September 18th.
The energetic action of the Government in July was received in Spain with
smiles of decision. For the first time the country perceived that O'Donnell
and Narvaez were dead, and the Queen bereft indeed. By the moderation of
Gonzalez Bravo the plans of the confederates had only been disturbed, not
foiled. New ones had been concerted on the way to exile, under the very eyes
and in the very ears of their captors.
The principals in the movement were now widely scattered. Serrano and
other leading generals were on the islands of Teneriffe and the Grand Canary,
four days' sail from the Peninsula. Prim was in London, Topete in Cadiz,
Malcampo on the Bay of Biscay, attending the Queen with the fleet. The first
step of all was to gather in the Bay of Cadiz.
On September 6th and 8th, respectively, two swift steamers sailed, the
one from Gravesend, England, and the other from Cadiz, bound for the group of
islands lying off the west coast of Africa. Both had regular clearance as
trading-vessels. On board the one was the brisk old General Milans del Bosch;
and on the other, Lopez de Ayala, the speaker of the Spanish Assembly. Again,
on the evening of the 10th a travelling carriage, emblazoned with a ducal
coronet, might have been seen to dash down the Strand, in London, and, turning
at the Somerset House, cross the Waterloo Bridge, whence it plunged into the
South-Western Railway station. A valet descended from the box, opened the
door of the carriage, and guided his master and mistress to the waiting train.
He was a short, wiry man of medium build, about fifty-three or fifty-four
years of age. He was dressed in the full livery of an English servant, and
though there was a foreign savor about his manner, he seemed at home in his
role. He accommodated himself in a second-class coach, as became his caste,
and the door was closed and locked by the guard. It was the last Indian mail,
and the train flew over the fields and bridges of pleasant England, to the
town of Southampton. It was the same at which Philip II had landed in 1554
when he came to marry Mary Tudor ["Bloody Mary"]. But now our travellers,
arrived at the wharf, soon disappeared from the deck of a large Peninsular and
Oriental steamer about to cast off for Bombay. The names of the noble master
and mistress need not be told; the valet was Don Juan Prim, Count of Reus and
Marquis of Los Castillejos. The party was booked for Gibraltar.
The next morning an official-looking gentleman called at the residence of
Prim in London. "Can I see the General?" said he to the servant. "You can,
sir; be so good as to step into the library." Presently the servant returned
with the message that his master had gone out to the club to read the foreign
journals. Satisfied, the emissary took his leave. That same day a cipher
telegram was despatched to the Spanish Government couched in these words:
"Prim is here."
The three swift-winged messengers were on their way. Two, with their
singular freight, were battling with the billows of the ocean, and one was
skirting the sunny Andalusian shore between the white Chiclana and the
foreland of Trafalgar.
The Delta arrived at Gibraltar on the evening of the 16th. Three men
rowed to the shore and concealed themselves in a coal-barge. They were Prim,
Sagasta, and Ruiz Zorrilla. In twenty-two days they were to be the Government
of Spain. A fourth man (Angulo) appeared on the barge and received his
instructions. The next morning he entered the office of a well-known shipper
and desired to charter a small steamer.
"What is the service?" demanded Mr. B.
"I cannot accommodate you without further explanations."
"Well, then, I am authorized to say that General Prim is here, and
to-morrow the squadron will rise at Cadiz."
"Not a steamer only, but my person and my fortune are at your disposal,"
responded the delighted son of the Rock.
The evening of September 17, 1868, was dark and threatening on the
southern coast of Spain. The sun had slipped beneath the troubled clouds into
the bosom of the Atlantic, casting back fitful glories against the towers and
belvederes of the ancient city. The castle had fired the signal gun, and the
echo of answering shots had slowly died away. Flag after flag had settled
from the bastions, the forts, and the shipping in the harbor. The public
promenades run along the broad sea-wall, and at eventide the traditional
beauty and chivalry of Cadiz are there in picturesque type and costume. Here
and there in the gloaming rise the shapeless hulks of monster war-ships. They
have just arrived from the Biscay shore. From the side of one of them a
bronze-hued light still throws a dim glow over the rising vapor of the funnel.
The squadron is here. The Admiral is at his post, and seems to be anxiously
waiting. The expected guests are nearing. There is a strange admixture of
heroism and treason abroad in the night air - heroism and honor and popular
acclaim, if all succeed; treason and obloquy and death, if all fail.
Suddenly four colored rockets shot across the sky in the offing and burst
into a thousand stars. It was the preconcerted signal; Topete and Malcampo
saw it from the pilot-house of the Zaragoza. Then there was a light at the
ladder, and the measured music of the oarsmen blended with the moaning of the
waves. A solitary steam-whistle was heard, and the rattle of a chain.
Presently a steam-launch glided along like a shadow out into the unseen
beyond. An inbound vessel rounded to and hailed the launch: "Which is the
Zaragoza?" cried a voice.
"Who are you?"
The commander of the Zaragoza; who are you?"
"We are all friends."
Arrived on board the flagship, Prim and Admiral Topete held a long
conference. The latter was pledged to the Duke of Montpensier, as the Liberal
Union candidate to the throne. The motto of Prim was that of the Progressists
- "The nation shall decide." Topete, anxious to gain over the General, had
sent a steamer for him to England, together with a large sum of money from
Montpensier. Prim had returned both unused. Hence the long struggle between
the Unionist and Progressist, which only ceased two years after, when Topete,
standing at the couch of his dying opponent, "saw the revolution and the honor
of his country wounded and bleeding." Now, however, the first step was to
achieve what all were united in desiring - the ejection of the Queen of Spain.
In this there was no division.
Early the next morning, September 18th, a dozen ships-of-war were drawn
up in line of battle in the inner bay. At a signal from the Zaragoza the air
seemed filled with gay bunting of every hue, which suddenly shrouded the
frigates, alow and aloft, as with butterfly clouds. The yards and rigging
were peopled with marines as by magic. The decks sparkled with the
instruments of music and flashed with gorgeous uniforms. From the flanks
protruded grim messengers of death in long dark parallels. At last a
half-dozen signal-flags fluttered at the spanker peak of the Admiral's ship.
The screws revolved; the procession moved. Past Puntales and the historic
Trocadero the squadron curved in front of the astonished city. Then arose the
thunder of revolt; eight thousand voices, blended with the crash of ordnance,
pealed forth the cry of freedom and the chorus of the national anthem.
The population, wild with enthusiasm, poured forth from the narrow
streets and thronged the sea-wall. The flat roofs of the white houses were
swarming with agitated life. The proclamations of Topete and Prim were being
read aloud to excited groups, and the placards of the Governor denouncing the
treason were repeated with the sarcasms of savage triumph. Bands of young men
paraded the thoroughfares singing the "Hymn of Riego" and the forbidden
ballads of Fernande's time.
Meanwhile the stirring words of Prim were producing their effect on the
garrison. "To arms, citizens, to arms! Enough of patient waiting. The
crisis of humiliation has been reached, the hour for revolution has come! Let
the war-cry be the only cry of all good Spaniards to-day. Let every Liberal
forget his discords and lay the strife of parties on his country's altar!
Throughout the wide family of freedom let there be but one ambition, war; one
aim, victory; one banner, the regeneration of our country. Spaniards,
soldiers, countrymen, the patria needs your help! Forget not the cries of
your fathers, your sons, your brothers. To arms with the weapons you have;
wait not to look for better, for all are good when they are borne for our
"And so let us regain our trampled liberties. Let us recover the
traditional pride of our ancient character. Let us once more excite the
admiration of the world, and prove ourselves to be worthy sons of noble Spain!
Spaniards, liberty forever! The sovereignty of the nation forever!" These and
such words, added to other arguments that appealed to the public
consciousness, produced the desired effect. The shouts of the army in revolt
burst on the air amid the enthusiasm of the populace.
The news of the uprising of Cadiz and the return of Serrano and Prim flew
over the land. The entire Province of Andalusia adhered to the movement on
the 19th and 20th. General Serrano, who in the mean time had arrived, took
immediate steps to organize an army and march toward Madrid. Juntas or local
committees were formed in the revolted districts, and men and money were not
wanting. Prim sailed away with the fleet to support the uprising along the
Mediterranean coast, while confederates were moving in Galicia and the North.
By September 26th the new army of liberation had advanced beyond Cordova,
at a place called the Bridge of Alcolea. There the forces of the Government
awaited them for the decisive combat. Queen Isabella in August was on the
Cantabrian coast, preparing for the imperial visit, but that visit was never
paid. Napoleon III heard of the uprising and returned silently to his home.
The union of the two great Liberal parties as represented in Serrano and
Prim was too significant not to augur triumph from the start. Besides it was
patent to all that the monarchy was in a deplorable state of abandonment. The
most distinguished statesmen, ambassadors, and generals had thrown up their
commissions and retired to voluntary exile. The leading provincial governors
were absent on leave from their respective charges. Most of the Cabinet
officers, foreseeing the end, had accompanied the court. The Minister of
Public Works had gone to Aragon to inaugurate an industrial exhibition. The
Department bureaus in Madrid were in the hands of subordinates. Gonzalez
Bravo had resigned twice since they had left the capital; once in July at La
Granja, and again at the Escorial in August. Worried with the rumors of
seditious measures in preparation, and incapable of averting them, he wrote in
despair to a friend: "This petty police warfare is killing me. I am tired of
squibs; let big shot come, and I shall know where to strike." He wanted "big
shot." Topete furnished it.
On the first vibration of the fatal wires, Isabella knew her doom was
sealed. The cloud that had hung over the throne vanished and disclosed
vacuity. Smarting under the wounds of ingrates; writhing under the silent
contempt of the "Parvenu of Biarritz"; anticipating the sentence of a
merciless world, and dreading its cruel decrees more than those of a merciful
God, she summoned her expiring Cabinet. The session was stormy; it lasted all
that night, until the dawn of the 19th. No one can report in our day all the
ravings and recriminations that passed in that council.
Isabella II raved and wept before her astonished Cabinet. She had
forgotten the divorce from the Crown pronounced by her people in 1856, and
renewed in the last three years. So, blinded by ambition, she cast away the
lessons of her father, confounding partial duty with treason.
The rest is soon told. The ministers resigned and Manuel Concha became
Dictator of the realm. He divided the land, as the augurs of old divided the
sky, into four zones, over each of which loyal men were set. He put the
country under the law of the sword and hastened to the swaying capital.
On the 29th it was all over. The field of Alcolea, on the banks of the
Guadalquivir, had been the valley of decision to the sovereign. Her best
friends had done for her all that duty and honor could demand. Their mission
was discharged with her reign; fifteen thousand had poured out their precious
lives in either cause. Her General had been loyal to his trust and sealed his
valor with his blood.
September 29, 1868, the date of the Spanish Revolution, was a bitter day
to Isabella. It was a twofold anniversary. Thirty-five years before, on that
same day, her father, Ferdinand VII, had breathed out his troubled spirit.
Thirty-five years before, on that same day, she became the Queen of the
Spains. And now in eleven short days she had been despoiled of her ancestral
throne by that same Spanish people whose attachment to the native monarchy had
ever been proverbial. The hitherto secret committees now became provisional
governments. To them the dependents of the late situation handed over their
powers. No telegrams, no reports, no bulletins came to Isabel now. Her very
name reverted to the simplicity of private life. Henceforth she was known as
"Dona Isabel de Borbon." The sceptre slipped from her grasp, her crown was an
The Central Junta of Madrid telegraphed to "know why San Sebastian
hesitates to join the nation." The Governor informed the wretched Queen, as
the executioner reminds the condemned. "Oh, yes! she would go to-morrow:" she
could not go that day. The people of San Sebastian were too gallant, the
Spanish people too chivalrous, not to comprehend. The nation could afford to
wait a little over a history, an agony, like this.
The next morning, the 30th, the ex-Queen emerged from her lodgings at
about ten o'clock. Her attire was neglected, her hands ungloved. She wore a
gray impermeable cloak and a French straw bonnet garnished with a crimson
plume. Her face was ruddy and swollen; a forced smile lingered on her lips.
Her consort followed, pale and haggard. He was plainly dressed in black
without insignia. As they passed to a carriage a group of Frenchmen cried
feebly, but politely, "Hommage a la Reine!" She turned and said, "To the
Frenchmen, thanks for their courtesy."
At the door of the station there was still the faded trumpery of a floral
arch crowned by two Spanish flags. Within were a guard of soldiers and a
waiting crowd. No bustling inspectors flourished as usual their lace and
gold. The engine slowly backed to the train, which pointed toward France. At
five minutes past ten came the roll of a drum. The soldiers presented arms.
The eager crowd looked up; many whispered, "Jes ella!" ("It is she!").
Father Claret led her in. Nervously he held out his fingers. Nobody
wanted the proffered blessing; not one advanced to receive it. The Archbishop
of Cuba forgot that it was a judgment day. The Prince Consort followed next,
never so insignificant as now; then Don Sebastian and the Princess. Alfonso,
though a child of only eleven years, bustled about to hide his emotion, as if
he fully comprehended the sad situation. The three little infantas ran up to
the train enchanted at the prospect of a ride in the cars. Their innocent
jubilee forced the tear from the eyes of many who saw it. The mother appeared
resigned now, but it was the resignation of a dream. Her eyes wandered or
glistened with a filmy stare. At one time she turned to the crowd on the
platform, as if they could save her now. They were the same that in 1840 took
her in their arms, while they drove her mother to exile. But to-day Isabella
stands before them as Maria Christina did then. Those October days in
Valencia call to these September days in Guipuzcoa. "With fate," says the
Arab poet, "it is idle to reason." So the convoy moved away from the station,
and the people cried, "Long live Spain!"
The fall of Isabella in 1868 was an imperious necessity. Her reign had
come to be incompatible with the honor and aspirations of her country. By a
series of arbitrary measures she had divorced herself from her people; she had
chilled the national heart. Her expulsion was not the catastrophe of a plot;
she was not the victim of a conspiracy. It was not the work of Topete,
Serrano, or Prim, of army or navy, of party or banner. Public opinion, the
latent instinct of Spain, arose after the long probation, and thrust out the
unworthy sovereign. Questionable means were of course employed, but
underneath lay the pressure of an inexorable law.
In Madrid the first days passed in a prolonged outburst of joy. The
elasticity of freedom expanded to its utmost tension. The populace filled the
fora - those breathing-places in the dense purlieus of ancient cities - but
there was no panic, no apprehension of disorder. Fraternization and
conciliation were the order of the day. The throng moved along the streets
demolishing the emblems of Bourbon rule. On the Ministry of Finance, or the
Exchequer building, they set up this apocalyptic inscription: "The spurious
race of the Bourbons is fallen, is fallen forever!"
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