Debate in the Chamber of Deputies
[From the original as it stands on the official journal of the congress.]
The deputy Señor Lasala (opposition) said: Public attention has been occupied in these days by the events which have given rise to inevitable discussion in the Senate and in this house, and by another, also a bloody event, occurring in a foreign land, to which I beg now to call the attention of the congress.[Page 534]
When other governments and parliaments are making manifestations on account of this horrible event, it seems natural that in the Spanish Parliament, in the Parliament of the nation which, by Cuba and Porto Rico, is neighbor to the United States, something should be said, and that the initiative should be taken by the liberal opposition of the government of her Majesty. That country, which had been great in peace, has not been less great in war. In that war, perhaps the most gigantic which history records, it seems indeed that, in order so immense a pyramid of corpses should be grandly crowned, it was necessary that the body of the President of the United States should fall by the ball of an assassin.
The government of her Majesty—I wish to do it justice—I suppose, will have manifested its sentiments, but I desire to know in what form; because, if it should not have been in some solemn form expressing adequately these sentiments of the whole country, I shall feel obliged to make use of my right as a deputy, and put this manifestation into some other form.
The president of the cabinet of ministers (Duke of Valencia) said: Her Majesty’s government, some days since, by extraordinary and unofficial channels, learned the crime which had been committed in the United States, but did not wish to take any official steps while the information it had received should not be confirmed; but as soon as it was known officially, the government made haste to lay this intelligence before her Majesty.
On taking the orders of the Queen, I received the charge from her Majesty to go and visit the chargé d’affaires of the United States in Madrid, and to express to him the profound sorrow, the immense affliction, which the Queen and the government had experienced by the horrible crimes committed on the person of the President of that republic, on that of the minister for foreign affairs, and on that of the son of the latter.
At the same time an official communication was sent to him by the department of state in similar terms, and a copy of the same was also sent to her Majesty’s minister in Washington, so that he should communicate the same sentiments to the new President of the republic.
We have not laid these papers before the House, because it was not customary to do so. We wished that the initiative should be taken by the deputies themselves, and it is immaterial whether this comes from the benches of the opposition or from this side, because in this case there can be but one general and unanimous sentiment in the whole House, as there is in the whole nation; for the whole nation cannot do otherwise than lament a horrible crime—an assassination perpetrated in this way on the person of the chief of a friendly nation united to Spain in the best relations, and which, throughout the whole time of the war, has been giving and is now giving us the most positive proofs of the good sentiments which animate it in respect to all questions and all the interests of Spain.
The government, therefore, associates itself to the motion made by the deputy, and would wish that the whole House and all Spain should manifest these same sentiments, not only because this is just, but also on account of the reciprocity of sentiments which ought to exist between that nation and Spain.
The deputy Señor Claros (ministerial) said: The president of the cabinet of of ministers has very properly undertaken to express, not only in the name of the government of the Queen, but in that of the majority of this house, the perfect identity of sentiment which animates all of us with respect to the proposition made by the honorable deputy who has just spoken. In this point, as the president of the cabinet has well said, there can be no diversity of opinion whatsoever among any of the deputies-who sit in this Chamber. The abominable crime of which the illustrious personage who presided over the American Union has been the victim, is a thing which must wound painfully the fibres of all who have any sentiments of morality, and profoundly all those who have any political instinct.[Page 535]
It is evident that this poison which corrodes the entrails of European societies has infiltered itself beyond the Atlantic, and that it reaches all peoples. Consequently, if in the past we are afflicted by the crimes committed in Europe against crowned heads, on this occasion the future ought to afflict US still more, seeing that we discover the disease to have extended to all humanity. We who glory in being partisans of the principle of authority, we ought to feel this more than any. In fact, we believe that the principle of authority is a species of reflex of the Divine power—understanding this phrase in its right sense—in the sense in which it seems to me it cannot be denied by anybody, considering the public power in its august social manifestation, not precisely in kings, as is vulgarly believed, but in whomsoever represents it socially and legitimately, is sacred.
This principle, then, is for us incarnate in the person of the President of a republic, as it is in that of our own august sovereign, or in that of any crowned head of Europe. We, therefore, join ourselves to this worthy, opportune and most fitting manifestation, and I think in so saying I interpret faithfully the sentiments of the majority—(by many deputies: Yes, yes,)—and I may say we are perfectly agreed to what has been said by the Deputy Lasala, and by the president of the cabinet. To us it is most grateful, seeing that we are divided on other questions in which our opinions differ, to be perfectly united on this point, which is of great interest, for the question is the condemnation, present and future, of those sacriligeous attacks against a principle alike sacred to every member of this House.
The president of the cabinet of ministers said: I omitted to state to the Congress that the latest information of the government is that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who has been wounded most seriously, as well as his son, it is hoped may both recover from the sad condition to which they were reduced, and that the assassin is arrested.
The deputy Señor Lasala: Both times the president of the cabinet has risen he has satisfied me completely. This is what I hoped for from the government of her Majesty on this occasion, and without entering now into any considerations upon the origin of power, it seems to me that in point of fact the House is now ready to make the manifestation which the president of the cabinet has indicated. I, personally, ought not to propose it. And, although there are here many persons more competent, better authorized and more conspicuous than I am on these benches and on the other side of the house, they would not have authority sufficient to make this manifestation. But there is in this chamber one person who can make it, (the orator is interrupted by the president of the Congress,) and at this moment he is interrupting me to say that he will make it.
The president of the Congress of Deputies, from his chair, said: Gentlemen Deputies—I consider it my privilege as well as duty to interpret on this occasion the sentiments of you all, of the whole Congress and of the nation, declaring that this House associates itself to the profound affliction which has fallen upon the United States in the horrible crime committed upon the person of the President of that republic, and which has just occupied the attention of this house.
The question being then put whether the house adheres to the declaration made by its president, it was agreed to without a dissenting voice; and, on motion of Deputies Jove and Hevia, it was ordered to be entered on the records, with the adhesion of the house by an unanimous vote.