« ZurückWeiter »
the more immediate interests of an arduous struggle for political existence had not left them leisure to attend seriously to ecclesiastical government; while the freedom with which they applied the property of the church to national purposes, and dispersed congregations of wealthy idlers, seemed to throw weighty obstacles in the way of their reconciliation with the head of their religion. But pope Leo XII was less obstinate than the first born of the church, Ferdinand of Spain, although the latter had been thoroughly stripped even of that influence of opinion, which, among an ignorant and superstitious people, still adhered to the office of the latter. In the preceding year, the pope had addressed a very friendly letter to his "beloved son," the president of the United Mexican States, congratulating him on the peace and concord which prevailed under his government, applauding his constancy in the faith, and his veneration for the papal chair, and finally bestowing on him the apostolic benediction, " as one of the best-beloved sons" of the church. Mexico, in return, sent plenipotentiaries to Rome to regulate by a concordat, the relations between the pontiffand the national church. At Rome, they met with a very favourable reception; but the principles laid down by the Mexican senate as the base of the proposed arrangement went to curtail, in its most important points, the power of the Holy See, and to leave merely a mode of communication between it and the national church, under very strict and efficient limitations. The republic, submitting its opinions, in so far as doctrine might bv concerned,, to
the ecclesiasticalcouncils, reserved a perfect freedom from control on questions of discipline, patronage, church revenues, organization of dioceses, and the election of bishops. All ecclesiastical affairs were to be determined within the republic, according to its laws and the canons; no stranger was to exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction by virtue of any commission; monks and nuns, formerly amenable to authorities out of there-,public, were to be subject to their proper metropolitan; and an annual gift of 100,000 pesos was offered to his holiness. These incipient negotiations, with the peaceful tenor of the pope's apostolic benediction, had a beneficial effect on the Mexican clergy, who, seeing their communication with their spiritual head renewed, were under less temptation to contrive its re-establishment through the restoration of Spanish authority, and became more disposed to concur in the existing order of things. The religious feelings of Mexican legislators sometimes appeared in forms which rendered ludicrous what they held most sacred. In the constituent congress of the state of Mexico itself, on the preamble of the constitution being read, bearing that what followed was decreed, " under the auspices of the Supreme Being," Senor Olaez proposed that, in place of these words, the words "in the name of the Almighty God," should be inserted. There was no objection to the first,buthe thought the, terms,- most commonly used should be preferred, and justified them by the example of the Spanish constitution, the federation, and many other states. Sea^r Jaiiregui opposed the jchau^e, on the shewing of the last speaker himself, who admitted that it made no difference which of the terms was made use of. According to that principle, there could be no objection to the insertion of the whole creed, the invocation of saints, or whatever the piety of any deputy might suggest.
Senor Villaverde said, that his wish on this subject proceeded neither from prejudice nor fanaticism; but, at the same time, he thought it would be necessary to say ' God, three in one,' because he knew all the members of that assembly to be Catholics; and by invoking God, the Trinity in Unity, then no Catholic could form a conception of him apart from his divine essence, attributes, and perfections.
Senor Najara thought the invocation of the Supreme Being sufficient, because he was God; but if it was necessary, in framing a political constitution, to shew that they were Catholics, then indeed all that had been proposed was required, and the creed too mi^ht be inserted.
Senor Mora said, the congress would make itself ridiculous by mixing up with a political discussion what was the province of a council. He asked, who did not know that he invoked God when he called on the Supreme Being, without the formality of expressing distinctly the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. To say "in the name of God," was to prostitute it; in the same name, the Inquisition had burned. Atlcngth the original preamble was carried.
Guatemala, or the confederation of Central America, presented nearly as unpromising a
spectacle of civil obedience, and political tranquillity, as did its neigh-1 hour Colombia. The provincial governments disregarded the commands of the general government, and there scarcely existed any efficient executive authority. Barrundia, the military chief of the province of Guatemala, displeased with certain orders which had been issued by the supreme government, or thinking them encroachments upon the limits of his own command, employed the troops to oppose their execution. The President of the republic had the firmness immediately to put him under arrest; but so violent was the prevalent spirit of disunion, that the disobedient soldier found as warm partisans as the insulted government. The picture of this small confederation, drawn by the president himself in a manifesto which he addressed to the people in the beginning of October, strongly displayed the impotence and anarchy which are the natural attributes of these federal constitutions. The state of Honduras, according to his description, was entirely disorganized, having neither a legislative body, a representative assembly, nor a court of justice. In the state of Nicaragua, the executive and the legislative were at variance, and the citizens, inflamed by an old spirit of discord, were arming against each other. The executive government of Guatemala had conspired against the federal government, had seized the federal revenue, had organized civil war, levied forces, attacked the troops of the republic, and committed other flagrant acts of usurpation and revolt. The federal congress at the close of their session, in the present year, had been
fluence than was consistent with the privileges of an independent state. Some of his first proceedings, though founded in strict ind stern justice, manifested no disposition to show much deference, in the exercise of the powers with which he had been intrusted, to the wishes of the Peruvian authorities. General Bernidoaga, (who had been commandant of Callao at the time when the black troops delivered it up to the Spaniards, and, if not the instigator of the treason, had been certainly cognizant of the plot without taking any steps to prevent its execution), had been made prisoner during the siege, and, during his captivity, had denounced a respectable inhabitant of Lima, named Tiron, as privy to a traitorous correspondence carried on with the royalist army. After a confinement of some months both of the prisoners were now tried, convicted and condemned. The municipal authorities of Lima interceded earnestly with Bolivar for a remission, or commutation, of the sentence of death which had been pronounced. "The times," said they, "of terror and peril are gone; you have dispelled dangers, and difficulties, and apprehensions; and, having covered yourself with laurels, and Peru with peace and happiness, you may without impropriety, listen to our intercessions for the guilty." But Bolivar was inflexible; he bade them remember that to pardon traitors would impair the moral sentiments of the republic; that the laws, yet in their infancy, would be enfeebled by the exercise of clemency; and that a few drops of parricidal blood would not make amends "for the
torrents from their own bosoms with which the defenders of Peru had watered its plainfr,"^,,.),,,,.. The Peruvian congress was convoked in the beginning of April; but, only a small number of deputies assembled in the capital, and even of these the greater number, instead of proceeding to the business for which they had been elected, questioned their own powers, refused to act as legislators, and, at a time when an energetic and efficient controlling power was the greatest want of Peru, gravely insisted on the necessity of an appeal to the nation. They had been legally elected; the regulations for swearing the members, and conducting the business of the assembly, had been sanctioned by congress more than two years before, and their execution had been ordered by a decree of Bolivar in 1825. Yet they resolved that they should not proceed to act till the following spring— the country in the mean time, having no other government than the dictatorship of a foreigner. The reasons assigned for this delay were singular. It was necessary, they said, to give time for exciting in the people an affection towards their representatives which would induce them to provide funds to re-imburse the members for the inconvenience they might sustain in the discharge of their duty—as if this affection could be excited by the said representatives doing nothing. It was necessary, they said, to consult the nation, whether the present constitution should be maintained, or reformed; and, if the latter, whether the reform should be radical or partial; whether the representatives were to act upon their own
convictions, and be guided by their own opinions, or were to follow special instructions which might be given by their constituents; and, finally, to consult the public voice as to the most proper person to beelected president. A deputation of fifty two-members presented these resolutions to Bolivar, expressing their opinion that, until these points were arranged, any meeting of the legislature would be premature. Bolivar concurred entirely in their views, which left him no apprehensions of a rival power, especially during his approaching absence in Colombia; or, if he had no ambitious project in his head, it gave no favourable opinion of his political sagacity to find him, in his answer to these reluctant legislators, giving vent to such absurdities as the following: "1 approve of your desire to recur, in the midst of your difficulties, to the source whence your power is derived. Nothing is so conformable with popular doctrines as a reference to the mass of the nation, on those capital points which form the bases of states, namely, fundamental laws, and the supreme magistracy. All individuals are liable to error and seduction, not so the nation, which possesses, in an eminent degree, the knowledge of its welfare and the measure of its independence. From this cause its judgment is pure, its will is strong, and consequently, no one can corrupt, far less, intimidate it. I hold irrefragable proofs of the constancy of the nation in great resolutions, and therefore it is, that I have always preferred its opinions to those of the wise. Let, then, the Electoral colleges be consulted/' It was left to the president of Colombia to discover that "in the midst of national difficulties," the purity, the constancy, the incorruptibility, and the intelligence, of a rude and unlettered mob were the best resources of a state, and that the opinions ofthe wise were of comparatively little value. To say nothing of history, the existing condition of every new-born state between Cape Hom and the Northern confines of Mexico, gave the lie to this mischievous nonsense. Thus the authority of Bolivar was the only government that Peru was as yet to enjoy; but he was far from being so popular among the people, as among the hair-brained deputies who had acted so unintelligibly, and obsequiously. Grave doubts were entertained of the purity of his views in regard to Peru, and reports were spread of his intention to render her dependent upon Colombia. People could not believe that a disinterested regard for the welfare of a foreign state should detain him at Lima, when rebellion was tearing Colombia in pieces; they could discover nothing but sinister motives for keeping his army in Peru, where it was no longer needed, and was only a source of intolerable expense; least of all were they disposed to be satisfied with his mode of employing that army, marching the Peruvian troops to the Isthmus, and occupying every village in the country with his Colombians. The discontent was general; some slight insurrectionary movements among the Peruvian military in the provinces were easily repressed1 $ but a more extended and dangerous conspiracy was discovered and prevented. Bolivar, unexpectedly, isstred. a