No. 363.
General Sickles to Mr. Fish.

No. 507.]

Sir: I have the honor to forward herewith a report, taken from the official gazette, of a discussion in the chamber of deputies between the first minister of the crown and Mr. Estéban Collantes, a conservative leader, touching colonial reform. A portion of the remarks of Mr. Zorilla are translated.

I am, &c.,

[Page 834]
[Inclosure B.—Translation.]

Reply of the president of the council of ministers to Mr. Esieban Collantes. Chamber of Deputies, December 13, 1872.

[From La Gaceta de Madrid.]


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The President of the Council of Ministers, (Mr. Ruiz Zorilla.) I did not think my remarks would give Mr. Estéban Collantes sufficient motive to say what he has just said. I did not say that I desired to provoke a debate in this place. There was an opportunity a few days ago for all the deputies representing distinct groups or diverse principles to take part in a debate concerning the question of public order. I have said to the chamber, and I now repeat, that I thought of giving full and complete explanations about the recent occurrences, and about the present situation of the public order question; but Mr. Estéban Collantes’s last words about “the integrity of our territory and our national honor” refer to I know not what; nor do I know what sort of a debate could be held in Congress on this point, for in this body, unless I am uninformed of it, there is not one who does not venerate the honor of Spain; nor do I know if the honorable gentleman intended to refer to certain reforms which the government is disposed to carry into effect because they are authorized by the constitution and laws, and is ready to bring before Congress in order that the co-legislative bodies may discuss them and vote them if they are of the same opinion as the government.

If the honorable gentleman referred to this class of reforms, I have only one thing to say in answer to him, namely, that those whom I believe to be mistaken, those whom I think deceive themselves on this point are they who imagine they defend the honor of Spain by obeying the spirit and the passion of party, without heeding circumstances or time or the lessons given by history to all those men who, at least in so much as refers to us, and in view of the position they occupy, are constrained to take heed of them, as I myself am bound to do. By what right has Mr. Esteban Collantes sought a pretext in my words to speak of the integrity and the honor of Spain? If I did “not know the honorable gentleman so well; if I did not know that when he determines to be a law-abiding man, a man who does not seek to quit the path of legality, a man who always makes his deeds harmonize with his words; if I could confound him with those who say one thing in official life and another in those places where it may suit them to bear themselves otherwise, I might think, although I do not, that after the nag raised by the conscripts in opposition to the government has disappeared, after the question of the loan, also converted into an attack on the government, has disappeared, the honorable gentleman, without wishing to do so, and without being aware that he is doing so, is aiding those who seek to make the question of reform in the colonies a question of patriotism, of abnegation, and of territorial integrity. No man, of whatever political party, can outdo in love of country those who occupy this bench, (the “blue bench,”) and there is no one, absolutely no one, in all the political parties (although in expressing myself thus I may appear to vaunt myself) who has ewer private relations with the Antilles, who has less in common with any of the passions or the interests which are especially agitated there, than the minister who has the honor to address you; but neither is there any one more resolved and more desirous to study calmly the question of the Antilles, and to do what as a liberal he ought to do without forgetting his duty as a Spaniard.

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