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for the interposition of Bolivar to remodel the constitution, indicates the tendency of the political events in the two Perus to affect the condition of Colombia.
Indeed, long ere this, rumours were afloat, and received countenance from the movements of Bolivar himself, that his immediate aim was to unite Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia, into one confederate state, under the government of himself as perpetual dictator. While the insurrection of Paez was threatening to convulse Colombia to its very centre, Bolivar continued in Lima, or in the delightful retreat of La Magdalena, although the expulsion of the Spaniards had accomplished the whole object for which the liberating army entered Peru. But meanwhile Leocadio Guzman, the author of a pamphlet recommending the Bolivian code, appears at Guayaquil, and other places in the departments of Colombia bordering on the Pacific as far as Panamá, and professing to act as the representative of Bolivar, urges meetings of the municipalities, with a view to the adoption, by them, of the constitution of Bolivia, or of a dictatorship express or implied. The disorganization of these four departments is the consequence. Accordingly, when Bolivar, at the close of the year, arrives at Bogotá, only four of the twelve departments which compose the republic wear the attitude of being faithful to the constitution. Intimations were not wanting, that Bolivar himself had instigated the insurrection of Paez, and of course that all the public disorders originated with him alone. However this may be, all signs of actual hostilities disappeared at his approach ; and when he entered Caracas in the beginning of 1827, he received the same tokens of ready submission as if nothing had occurred to disturb the tranquil movement of the government. Bolivar having assumed the extraordinary powers which the constitution imparted in cases of rebellion or invasion, took the four northern departments under his own immediate direction, and out of the control of the regular constitutional authorities at Bogotá ; issued a decree of general amnesty ; and virtually sanctioned the insurrection, by continuing Paez in command as supreme chief of Venezuela.
Between the beginning and the close of the year 1827, a new series of events, and a new class of considerations, produced important changes in the face of public affairs. Bolivar, it is to be remembered, had been re-elected president of Colombia, and his second term of service would regularly have commenced with
But soon after he fixed his head-quarters at Caracas, he despatched a communication to the president of the senate, signifying his determination to decline the office of chief magistrate of the republic, and to withdraw from all public employ
Congress, however, refused to accept his renunciation, after a debate wherein his views were freely canvassed, and as yehemently denounced on the one side, as they were on the other
most zealously defended. But while acting thus much in favour of Bolivar, the majority of congress took measures for maintaining the integrity of the constitution. They passed successively, , decrees for a general amnesty, for re-establishing constitutional order, and for assembling a national convention at Ocaña to consider the proposed reforms in the political institutions of the country. Meantime events occurred in Peru, which operated upon Colombia in a most unexpected manner. Influenced by the friends of Bolivar, or intimidated by the presence of the auxiliary Colombian army, the electoral colleges of Peru voted to adopt a constitution precisely similar to that of Bolivia, and elected Bolivar president for life. But in one short month afterwards, the soldiers of the auxiliary division stationed at Lima, conceiving an idea that Bolivar was aiming at the liberties of Colombia their native country, arrested their generals, revolutionized the government established in Peru under his name, and, under the command of Colonel Bustamante, returned to Colombia uncalled for, breathing distrust and defiance against Bolivar. This event was accompanied by a counter revolution at Guayaquil, also in opposition to him; and it would seem that these occurrences decided him to proceed to Bogotá, and take the constitutional oaths as President.
All eyes were now turned upon the approaching convention to be assembled at Ocaña in March of 1828. During the year that was drawing to a close, the discussions which agitated the country had undergone a radical change in their complexion. Previously, the question had been: shall the republic continue to be governed according to the existing constitution and the central system, or shall the constitution be changed and the federal system substituted in lieu of it. Santander and his friends might be considered as the champions of the former, and Paez, or his advisers, of the latter; and although it was a question which ought, in Colombia, to have been regarded as settled by the constitution, yet, independently of this consideration, it was a grave subject of nice and doubtful controversy. In Mexico, Central America, the United Provinces, and Chile, respectively, it was one of the great questions upon which public men were divided; and it is not strange that it should divide them in Colombia. But after Bolivar's return from Peru, the whole ground of dispute was changed. He made no secret of his determined hostility to the plans of the federal party, who soon discovered, that from him they had nothing to hope. On the contrary, a powerful party began to make itself felt, who proposed a still greater centralization of the government; in a word, its concentration in the hands of Bolivar. The Bolivian code, it seems, contained his profession of political faith. The application of its principles to Colombia was at first cautiously intimated as matter worthy of reflection ;
and at length boldly insisted on, as necessary to tranquillize the nation and re-establish its credit. All the friends of republican institutions found it now behooved them to make common cause against opinions, fatal alike to the constitution and the federal system ; and in congress, in the newspapers, and in the political circles, this was the question that absorbed all other subjects of difference.
Our own opinion is, that the convention of Ocaña ought never to have been called. The constitution expressly provided a period of ten years for the trial of that instrument; and when the malecontents of Venezuela pressed for a convention in anticipation of the year fixed by the constitution, it would have been better for the republican party to resist the measure, and meet the crisis then, instead of lending their countenance to it, and thus aiding to interrupt the regular march of the government. If they yielded, in the expectation that the assembly would prove capable of quieting the elements of public discord, and thus retarding the downfall of the constitutional government, they were sadly mistaken in the result. A succession of political movements, wherein the friends of Bolivar, the leading officers of the army, made themselves particularly prominent; votes of the military calling on the liberator to become the head of a more efficient government:—such were the signs which lowered in the political atmosphere. The ineffectual attempt of General Padilla in opposition to the declared wish of the army, served only to ruin himself, and to demonstrate the strength of the party favourable to the views of Bolivar. Had the convention manifested a disposition to invest him with dictatorial authority by their vote, unquestionably they would have been permitted to do it; and the dissolution of that body was naturally to be regarded as decisive of the fate of the republic.
It was easy to anticipate, from all this, what crisis in the public affairs was at hand; for, every thing tended to the point of elevating Bolivar to supreme and unlimited power. The machinery devised for accomplishing it was, in Colombia, analogous to that whereby a similar object was effected in France; namely, the resolutions of separate municipalities and detached corporations acting each for itself, and not by the intervention of a general representative body elected in behalf of the whole nation. The impulse began at Bogotá, where, by a municipal act, dated June 13th 1828, the supreme command of the republic was conferred on the liberator. The celebration of acts of the same import at Quito on the 10th, and at Caracas on the 15th of July, that is, at the two extremities of the republic nearly at the same time, indicates either previous concert among the leading individuals, or if not, then a general readiness to adopt the measure, and a conviction that it was necessary, or at least unavoidable.
At any rate, the example of the capital was universally followed in the various municipalities, all uniting to invest Bolivar with plenary power, as supreme chief of the republic. They declared expressly in many cases, impliedly in all, that as integral portions of the Colombian people, they resumed the sovereignty which they had previously placed in the hands of the constitutional authorities, for the purpose of delegating the same sovereignty to Bolivar, individually, in all its original fulness, and without limitation as to extent or duration. The constitution, therefore, was to be considered as virtually abolished, and Bolivar as perpetual dictator of Colombia, although governing, like Augustus, under the forms and denominations of a republic. In obeying the call of the municipalities, and assuming the authority of supreme chief, he devolved the duties of the administration upon a council of ministers, as he had done in Peru.
It is not to be supposed, that a revolution like this should occur without some of those characteristic incidents which usually accompany the exaltation of a successful general to supreme power. These incidents were precisely what we might have expected from the disposition of the sections of Colombia wherein they respectively happened, being in Venezuela an act of extreme servility towards Bolivar, and contemporaneously with it a conspiracy to re-enact the tragedy of Cæsar's death at Bogotá. The particulars of the abortive attempt to assassinate Bolivar, on the 25th of September, are so well known, in consequence of the attention which it has generally attracted, that we merely allude to it here. Suffice it to say, that in giving Bolivar occasion to subject Padilla to the punishment of death, and affording a pretext for the trial and condemnation of Santander, it removed from his path two among the most uncompromising friends of republican institutions, and effectually intimidated the rest ; that by severe prosecution of Horment, Guerra, Zulaibar, and other active agents in the conspiracy, and the public indignation which always pursues an ineffectual attempt at assassination, even if a tyrant be the object aimed at, Bolivar secured himself against a repetition of the enterprise; and that therefore, as in other similar cases, it ended in fixing his power upon a firmer basis. On the 21st of September, only four days previous to the explosion of this conspiracy, Paez, who had been the first to evoke the spirit of discord and revolution, assembled the military, the civil authorities, the various corporations and prominent individuals of Venezuela, in the principal church of Caracas, and required of them to take a solemn oath of fidelity to Bolivar. This oath, so completely expressive of the present nature of the government of Colombia, is in the following words :“You swear, before God and the Holy Evangelists, to recognise his Excellency the Liberator Simon Bolivar, as Supreme
Chief of the Republic of Colombia, charged exclusively with the regulation of all the branches of public administration, according to the unlimited powers which the people have conferred upon him; and to preserve and execute, faithful and inviolate, all the orders, decrees, and dispositions which he shall sanction.” Paez harangued the people, and afterwards the soldiery, urging them, in the most impassioned language, to devote themselves to Bolivar; and his addresses received enthusiastic applause. The picture of Bolivar was carried in procession, and obtained the popular homage in place of its original. Amid the fire-works, discharges of cannon, and other festivities of the day, an original ode was sung, having the significant chorus
Juremos ser fieles
De constante union." If, as Selden maintains in the Table Talk, syllables govern the world, and ballads bespeak the feelings of a people, we may safely infer, that Bolivar will, in process of time, assume a title better known, if not more definite than supreme chief, in which his baptismal name will occupy a prominent place. It may be, however, that the overthrow of his plans in Peru, the dissatisfaction of the republican party who so long rallied around Santander, and the armed opposition to his government headed by Obando in Popayan, may induce him to pause before he takes the final step in the march of usurpation. If the convention which he has lately summoned, shall be suffered to consist of members freely elected, and to pursue its deliberations unawed by military intimidation, Colombia may yet be preserved from the last ignominy of republics, and Bolivar regain the esteem and confidence of America.
Art. II. - Memorials of Shakspeare; now first collected. By
NATHAN DRAKE. London: 1828. 1 vol. 4to.
The superstition of antiquity crowded the shrines of its deities with its offerings. The garland and the wreath, the libation and the sacrifice, were presented by each successive generation; and if little variety was displayed in the character or costliness of the gifts, they showed that the deity continued to merit the same devotion and love, and that the votary was still grateful for the blessings he received. All enthusiasm is the same; and if the tribute of piety may be admired or excused, that of literature needs not novelty to defend it. We claim,