No. 524.
Mr. Cushing to Mr. Fish.

No. 256.]

Sir: I annex hereto copy and translation of a circular of the new-government, authorizing precautionary measures in reference to persons engaged in acts of agitation against the domestic peace of the country, the peculiarity of which is that it proposes to deal with the leaders, not the rank and file.

This circular contains nothing new otherwise, either in theory or practice, all previous governments in Spain, liberal or illiberal, having done the same thing; for, although the last constitution in date prohibited administrative acts of banishment, yet the prohibition was nullified by the customary device of suspending the constitutional guarantees, which, of course, had the effect of leaving unlimited power in the hands of the executive.

This measure has been applied thus far to one person only, D. Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla.

* * * * * * *

After living in retirement at his home in one of the provinces for more than one year, that is, through the whole period of the republic, he came to Madrid a few months ago and proceeded in the first place to initiate a political movement with republican professions from one of the apartments of the Escorial.

* * * * * * *

He has ended with drawing on himself the animadversion of King Alfonso’s government, which has invited, him to leave Spain.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 256.—Translation.]

Precautionary measures against opposition party-leaders.

[From the Gaceta de Madrid,” February 4, 1875.]


The preservation of material and moral order and their speedy re-establishment wherever they may come to be disturbed is the first duty of the government and of its representatives in the provinces, and in order that you may second the purposes of the regency-ministry, it is important that you should have perfect knowledge of the principles and rules to which to adjust your conduct in so important a question.

God has visibly protected the nation” in this fortunate crisis in her history, allowing political events of such deep transcendency to be consummated without having to lament a victim or wipe away a tear because of them; on the contrary, rather, the country finds itself so refreshed on entering anew into conditions of normal existence, that it has been possible to mitigate many penalties imposed by other governments, raising decrees of banishment, revoking enforced changes of domicile, and even restoring liberty to no small number of unfortunates who rather were the victims and instruments of the crimes of others than culpable through their own willful acts.

The rebellions which afflict the country being extinguished, this work of reparation and oblivion may be completed.

But a people which has suffered such violent transitions in a few years, may readily preserve for some time afterward the smoldering germs of indiscipline, and it may be [Page 1101] that when the government most needs tranquility and confidence, moral or material conflicts may be provoked by a few unquiet spirits, dissatisfied because order and the public welfare do not give them the same advantages as the anarchy and misfortune of their country.

Disorder is readily caused by no more than setting a few sophisms on foot and leaving them to wend on their way of destruction and anarchy; order laboriously creates itself, rooting assured principles and restraining with uninterrupted energy and prudence all evil passions, and to such end it is needful to repress discreetly, with as much underlying energy as prudence in procedure, every attempt at agitation which might disturb the general aspiration for peace and concord.

In this repression, and in whatever steps it may be necessary to adopt to realize it, and even to foresee it, you must earnestly bear in mind that the true responsibility for public disorder may always be traced to a small number of persons who are rarely convinced of the very ideas they diffuse; neither are they participants in the passions they excite.

It is imperative to prevent the repetition of the disheartening spectacle so frequently shown in Spain, of the hard expiation imposed on the misled sons of the people, the poor, the ignorant, the weak, seduced sometimes by the most iniquitous machinations, by whom the prisons have been filled or who have been sent to perish in remote islands, while the real culprits who dragged, them on knowingly, and with interested ambition enjoy impudent impunity.

Inspired by this pre-eminent idea of the government, you should give your attention principally to those who may be leaders of any agitation which may threaten public order.

It will, in the majority of cases, sufficiently effect its repression, that one person only suffer the consequences of his conduct j it is certain that the measure will never have to be extended to many if study be devoted to the origins and beginnings of the evils it is sought to cut off, and the country will assuredly find as much justice as expediency in the inflexibly energetic chastisement of the true culprits and the granting of the largest indulgence to the mere tools of their ambition.

For like motives the Government regards as inexpedient certain general measures which have sometimes been adopted respecting those who only held affinity of ideas with the men who deserved the repressive action of the public power, basing such measures not on the direct guilt of the parties, but on the purpose to tranquilize peaceable citizens at any cost or to satisfy opinion. This is not affected by such steps, which rather irritate the undecided than deter the real disturbers. Popular sentiment is surer. Nothing so fully satisfies it as the realization of equity and justice by those in power, and this only requires that attention be given to, and the extraordinary faculties of the Government be exerted upon, the few who are the true and knowing cause of the disturbance, in defense and shelter of the many whom they seek to lead into misfortune.

Animated by these principles, you will for your part be sure of all the sound opinion of the country and will set moral and material order upon solid bases, counting in the application of such rules on the energetic support of the Government, which deems them as the most essential to which its conduct should be conformed in the present state of affairs.


The governor of the province of———.