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isters in the exercise of their functions, they are the king's agents, and have no account to render but to him. The information, sometimes given by the British ministry in parliament, is regarded as a matter of courtesy; and when asked is granted or refused, at discretion. Another objectionable feature of more importance is the provision which makes the members of the existing cortes ineligible for the succeeding one. The inconveniences of this regulation are sufficiently obvious, and are felt so strongly in Spain at the present moment, that every effort. is now making to induce the king to summon an extraordinary session of the cortes, after which the members are again eligible.

The essential excellence of the Spanish constitution, the quality that makes it dear to the friends of liberty, and odious to the partisans of arbitrary power, is its honesty. It is, what it professes to be, a real representative government; and is not, like some others that bear the name, a mere mockery and pageant, more abhorrent to an independent mind, than tyranny in a plain, unsophisticated shape, because insulting as well as oppressive.

2. The most interesting aspect, under which the Spanish and Portuguese revolutions present themselves to the citizens of the United States, I may say indeed to the world at large, is that, under

which they are considered as affecting the condition of the American colonies. No doubt can be entertained, that the complete emancipation of these vast regions will be effected at no great distance of time; and the simultaneous erection of these hitherto insignificent settlements into eight or ten independent and powerful nations may well be considered as one of the most extraordinary and interesting events that ever occurred. It can hardly fail, when its consequences shall be fully developed, to give an entirely new face to the political and commercial affairs of the world.

The struggle for independence in the Spanish colonies has been precipitated by the convulsions in the mother country, and is not, like our revolution, a spontaneous effort, resulting from an internal consciousness of capacity for self-government. This is the most unfavourable circumstance attending it. It is this cause which draws out the contest into such a weary length, and which, after the formal emancipation shall be effected, may very probably entail upon these countries a long period of anarchy and discord. A spontaneous effort for freedom implies a maturity of intellectual and physical resources sufficient to secure the object with ease, and to improve it to the best advantage. A colony, thus emancipated, is like a ripe fruit, that drops from its parent

tree at the moment of full maturity, and springs up naturally into a new and vigorous plant. The freedom of South America is a premature birth. It does not proceed from the healthy action of nature, operating within at the proper time, but has been forced upon the colonies by accidents occurring abroad. Considered as a rebellion against the Spanish government, it is just, if any enterprise ever deserved that qualification; and would have been, at whatever period it might have happened. No society was probably ever subject to a more intolerable and revolting system of misgovernment; and it is impossible to deny the right of resistance under such circumstances, without denying completely the inherent and universal right of self-defence against injustice and oppression. But, considered as a measure intended to promote the happiness of the South Americans, the revolution presents itself in a less favourable point of view, and might probably have been delayed with great advantage for two or three centuries. The Americans, however, are not to bear the blame for this precipitation. They have been subjected to the action of political forces, over which they had no control. A revolution, however premature, was the necessary result of the circumstances, in which they were placed; and, although its aspect may for some time present many features

not very consonant with just notions of liberty, still the friends of humanity must wish for their success, and are bound by all suitable means to promote it.

The policy which may be adopted by the Spanish government in regard to their colonies is still uncertain; and in the period of trouble and confusion that may very probably occur at home, the possessions abroad must be left in a great measure to themselves. At present, the plans under consideration contemplate the establishment of constitutional governments, nominally subject to Spain, and administered on the spot by princes of the royal family. If the mother country had the power to enforce this arrangement, it might perhaps be as favourable to the ultimate well being of the colonies, as their immediate emancipation. But this is not the case; and after struggling, as they have done, for independence for ten or twelve years, it can hardly be expected that they will abandon the prize of their own accord, at the very moment of success. It is therefore much to be wished for the interest of humanity, of the colonies, and of Spain herself, that she may abstain from any further wanton waste of resources and life, and submit with a good grace to the decree of necessity. She will probably find, as England did, the emancipation of her colonies infinitely more profitable to her, than their possession; and in exchange for the

vain name of ruling the Indies, will find the wealth of the Indies pouring in to her territory in fertilizing streams, instead of merely rolling through it, as it now does, like a mountain torrent, and leaving no marks of its passage, but barrenness and desolation.

CHAPTER IV.

Italy and Greece.

THE late events in Italy are, like those in Spain, too recent and too notorious, to require particular mention in so general a sketch as this. The friends of liberty were disappointed by the feeble resistance which the Neapolitans opposed to the invasion of Austria. No doubt the cause was betrayed by some of the principal pretended patriots; and this is the best apology that can be offered for the easy discomfiture of the rest. Even this, however, is but a poor excuse; and the shameful defection of so many of the chiefs proves that the higher classes of society in Italy are as corrupt and unprincipled, as the mass of the people are uninformed and wretched. In such a soil, it may well be doubted whether rational liberty, and the institutions fitted to secure it, will ever be a spontaneous growth.

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