Señor Ulloa to Admiral Polo de
Madrid , May 22, 1874.
Sir; I send to your excellency, inclosed, the manifest which the new ministry has just addressed to the country, wherein it explains its present designs and its aspirations for the future.
In order to leave no doubt as to the views of the government, I think it my duty to give your excellency an idea of the spirit which actuates it in its international relations, as well as of the opinion which it has [Page 918] formed of the peculiar position in which recent events have placed it toward foreign powers, hoping in both cases that its silence may not be improperly interpreted, and that malice may not distort its honest purposes.
After a long period of struggles and convulsions, Spain finds herself to-day in a position of such difficulty that she needs to concentrate within herself all her strength, and to attract towards her internal situation all the thoughts and all the energy of the national power, in order to return, free from fears, violence, and wars, to the solemn exercise of her sovereignty, and to reach a decision, from which there shall be no appeal, in relation to her future destinies. That time was thought to be remote, when, the army being broken up or without discipline, the principle of authority lying prostrate, important provinces and towns being a prey to Carlism and anarchy, all bonds being broken, all guarantees trampled under foot, the nation being devoured by frictions and the government by impotency, the time-honored and firm union of our country seemed on the eve of dissolution. Since, however, thanks to the energy of the ministries who have preceded us, and in presence of the danger which threatened society at large, an act of manliness, forged in the indignation and the shame which possessed the country, rather than imposed upon the country, dislodged the Cantonals at Cartagena, their last stronghold, and put an end to the mad hopes of the absolutists in the mountains of Somorrostro, the cause of order and liberty made sure of its final triumph at no distant day, demagogism was forced to lower its black flag, and the fanatics of the past no longer influenced even the weakest minds by means of those fears and discouragements which were never shared by those who, knowing the vicissitudes of our history, well knew that the vitality and perseverance of the Spanish people increase and are strengthened with their misfortunes.
Not because we have sensibly improved our internal regimen, can we or ought we to refuse to give our constant attention and efficient action to the international affairs which occupy the attention of foreign cabinets at the present time, nor will be induced to abandon our modest attitude by those who, with arrogant pretensions, place before us the glorious recollections of our ancient power. Only on the improbable, inadmissible hypothesis of our legitimate interests being disregarded, of an insult being offered to the national honor, or of the integrity of our territory being threatened, would we abandon this attitude, and would then take counsel only of our patriotism, in order to defend our rights with the aid of God and the efforts of this generous nation.
The present cabinet, which lives in communion with the great ideas of modern times, the expansive spirit of which has frequently burst the narrow mode of ordinary customs, hopes to secure the official confirmation of the friendly understanding which it maintains with other cabinets, not by sacrifices of its dignity, which it could not honorably make, but by intrusting the realization of this desire to the importance and significance of our own acts, and perhaps it would not say too much should it add, to the justice and sense of propriety of foreign powers.
We are united to them by the strongest political bonds, which neither intrigue nor ambition can loosen, and which bid defiance to traditional suspicions and antipathies; they are bonds, in a word, which are formed by mutual interest and by common danger.
With statements apparently diverse, identical problems present themselves to the civilized world for solution, problems which involve, for the march of statesmanship, the same obstacles and the same complications. The annihilation of distances, the prodigious increase of commerce, [Page 919] the constant communication of nations, the cosmopolitanism of thought, the similarity of representative institutions, everything, in a word, combine to universalize impulses and resistances, and to establish the solidarity of governments.
Some measure the importance of conflicts by the importance of the locality in which they occur, and view them with a certain indifference, and consider them as altogether extraneous on account of their not closely and immediately affecting the interests which they represent and defend, as if isolation were not possible, and contagion were not inevitable.
There, where the combat is waged in behalf of social order against anarchy, in behalf of the conquests of modern law against the exhumation of decrepit systems, there are, there must be, at least the sympathies of prudent and judicious powers, which are guided by the principles of a sound policy and of a well-regulated selfishness.
But a few months since, Spain was sustaining three civil wars, not provoked by any injustice, but engendered by the heat of bad instincts, and lamentable excesses: one in Cuba, where it is sought to wrest from us, the discoverers and civilizers of America, that last bit of soil, in which we are battling, not for our prestige, not for our influence in the New World, but for our honor, which we must leave to history untarnished; another in the Basque provinces, which are trying to resuscitate a cause that was lost forty years ago; and finally, the federal insurrection, now’ crushed, which dared to lift its parricidal hand against the immutable nationality of Spain, which has been cemented by the blood of a hundred generations. Two of these wars are still raging upon our soil, cutting off the flower of our youth, and calling for great and painful sacrifices on our part, while the elements which produced the third, still agitate themselves in the bosom of our disturbed society, scandalizing both natives and foreigners.
Not only is Spain interested in the issue of these contests; Europe, tranquil and prosperous, while we are exhausting our best energies to sustain them, cannot consider herself to be totally uninterested in their results. It is true that filibusterism now presents itself with armed hand only in order to snatch our prized Antille away from its obedience to the mother country. But if the right of Spain was mortally wounded, would that of other nations which have territories beyond the seas remain uninjured’? Have the frightful colonial insurrections of past days been forgotten It is true that only in Spain has fanaticism placed arms in the hands of ignorance, availing itself of circumstances favorable to its designs; but it is also true that if we lend an attentive ear we hear a distant but increasing noise, which gives evidence of deep religious agitations, in spite of the toleration on which the nineteenth century prides itself. Of propagandist demagogism which, under a variety of forms and titles, is undermining, sometimes in broad daylight, sometimes in secret conclave, the broad foundations on which society rests, and which, in order to form a new state of society—such as has existed in the imaginations of the apostles of every chimera—begins by attacking whatever is venerable and sacred in the human conscience, from the idea of a country to the constitution of the family; of that demagogism our country would not have been the only victim if, unfortunately for all, it had succeeded in planting its bloody flag upon the ruins of our cities.
This is the broad view taken by the present cabinet of the task which the public good and the present condition of the country have imposed upon it. If this on the one hand involves most grave responsibilities, it may offer on the other, if fortune is not adverse to it, immense and fruitful results.[Page 920]
It does not fear, therefore, that in so critical a situation, when it presents itself as a modest but decided champion of the cause of order, liberty, and progress—which is also the cause of the civilized world—the latter will withdraw, either wholly or in part, the efficient support of its sympathies, or that it will in any way curtail the integrity or the regular form of diplomatic relations. Public opinion, which directs the governing of states, no longer tolerates the narrowness of mind or the suspicions which guided foreign policy, when that policy was elaborated in the obscurity of cabinets, for the purpose of gratifying national rivalries and ambitions which were purely dynastic.
Public opinion, which is now based upon lofty sentiments of justice, and a high regard for the best interests of society, finds an echo in all languages, and is naturalized in all countries; and that public opinion which has marked out the path of our duty, in Spain, for us so imperiously and eloquently, is not destined to divorce us from the community of aspirations which is formed, be secondary misunderstandings what they may; by the intimate and sublime harmony of modern Europe.
Your excellency, adopting these sentiments for your guide, and amplifying the foregoing considerations in your intercourse with the statesmen with whom you may be brought into contact, will interpret, with scrupulous fidelity, the views of the government, whose honest purposes do not seek mystery for their realization, but must, on the other hand, find in the widest publicity the applause of all who become acquainted with them. To sum up: the government, whose chief task it is to restore internal order, and to put an end to the disturbances which still agitate the country, does not desire to appear with pretenses of any kind before foreign powers; it thinks it evident, however, that the work best calculated to consolidate public peace in a nation so disturbed by powerful opposing elements, to elevate the principle of authority, lying prostrate through inconceivable weaknesses, and to repress, in like manner, the excesses of anarchy, and the blind zeal of absolutism, is a work of transcendent importance, which cannot be confined within our frontiers, and which must be appreciated beyond them at its full value and significance, as well by reason of the mutual affinity of interests and the noble sympathies which it must awaken, as by the indubitable influence of its consequences.
The ministry does not doubt that its patriotic desires will be realized, and that the high social and political interests intrusted to it will be duly protected; it does not doubt, moreover, that the Spanish nation, when the present exceptional situation, temporarily created by the gravity of the circumstances, shall have come to an end, will find most firm guarantees of moral and material order, which will permit it, in the regular enjoyment of representative institutions, to manifest, without foreign pressure and with all purity its true sentiments, and its sovereign will.
This letter, which I have the honor to address to your excellency by order of his excellency the President of the republic, and with the approval of the council of ministers, as also the manifest which accompanies it, you may read to the minister of foreign affairs of the government to which you are accredited, leaving a copy of both documents with him if he shall desire it.
A correct copy of the original: