Un curioso texto de 1814 sobre Antonio Ruiz de Padrón

Una de las páginas del interesante artículo que resume el Dictamen sobre la Inquisición.

Tengo especial interés en que se difunda la importancia de la obra que llevó a cabo Antonio Ruiz de Padrón, tanto para reparar una injusticia histórica sobre su memoria como por dar a conocer su apasionante vida y el prestigio que tuvo en todo el mundo el más brillante político del archipiélago canario. Por estas razones, continúo presentándoles referencias poco conocidas sobre este Diputado doceañista canario.

El Dictamen sobre la Inquisición, de Antonio Ruiz de Padrón, se leyó en las Cortes de Cádiz en enero de 1813. La repercusión que tuvo se extendió a otros países, como Gran Bretaña, donde se hicieron traducciones y fue comentado en la prensa, durante muchos años.

El artículo que quiero presentarles fue publicado en una revista londinense, en 1814. En él se presenta un completo resumen del Dictamen de Ruiz de Padrón, acompañado de algunos comentarios. Naturalmente, el texto está en inglés, pero he traducido al español los primeros párrafos del artículo.

Discurso del Doctor D. Antonio José Ruiz de Padrón, diputado en las Cortes, de las Islas Canarias, pronunciado en la sesión del 18 de enero de 1813, en relación con la Inquisición.

Un discurso contra la Inquisición, pronunciado en sesión de las Cortes y otro de Pan y Toros [se refiere al famoso folleto del mismo título atribuido dudosamente a Jovellanos], en el degradado estado español, pronunciado en la gran plaza de toros de la capital y nacido de la producción genuina de los nativos españoles, puede considerarse incluido entre los signos inequívocos de los tiempos.

Sin embargo, cuando nos fijamos en el lugar donde se han pronunciado estas producciones singulares, en su vestimenta actual, podemos considerarlas cualquier cosa menos curiosidades literarias. Estos documentos son traducciones de los oficiales del buque Caledonia, llevadas a cabo, con toda probabilidad, para entretener las muchas horas tediosas esperando ver a un enemigo encerrado en el puerto de Toulon. Si el idioma no es siempre correcto, ni el estilo muy pulido, tenemos, al menos, razones para confiar en la fidelidad de la traducción. Aunque también se imprimieron a bordo de este buque: el tipo, la tinta, el papel y, de hecho, la totalidad de los procesos mecánicos se llevaron a cabo tan bien que no son, de ningún modo, inferiores a muchas de las mejores ediciones de la prensa de Londres.

“El Doctor Antonio José Ruiz de Padrón se compromete a probar las tres proposiciones siguientes:

En primer lugar, que el tribunal de la Inquisición es totalmente inútil a la iglesia de Dios, y contrario al espíritu del evangelio.

En segundo lugar, que es contrario a la sabia y religiosa Constitución que el Estado ha sancionado, y que el pueblo ha jurado.

En tercer lugar, que es perjudicial para el estado.

No será necesario repasar por todas las pruebas que aduce [Ruiz de Padrón] para establecer la primera proposición. Lo cierto es que ningún tribunal como el que se ha arrogado a sí mismo “el título de ‘santo ‘, entró en el plan del Salvador del Mundo. De igual manera […].

TEXTO ORIGINAL:

The Speech of Doctor D. Antonio Joseph Ruiz de Padron, Deputy to the Cortes, from the Canary Islands, spoken in the Sitting of January 18, 1813, relative to the Inquisition.

A SPEECH against the Inquisition, delivered in the sitting of the Cortes, and another on Bread and Bulls, on the degraded state of Spain, spoken in the great square of the capital, both the genuine production of native Spaniards, may be regarded among the unequivocal signs of the times. –But when we look at the spot whence these singular productions issue, in their present dress, we cannot consider them as any thing short of literary curiosities. They are translations by the officers of the Caledonia, undertaken, in all probability, to beguile the many tedious hours spent in watching an enemy shut up in the part of Toulon. If the language be not always correct, nor the style highly polished, we have, at least, every reason. to trust to the fidelity of the translation. But they were printed also on board this ship; and the type, the ink, the paper, and, indeed, the whole of the mechanical processes are so well conducted. a8 to be by no means inferior to many of the best editions of the London press.

Doctor Antonio Joseph Ruiz de Padron undertakes to prove the three following propositions:

First, That the tribunal of the Inquisition is totally useless the church of God, and contrary to the spirit of the

Secondly, That it is contrary to the wise and religious constitution which the state has sanctioned, and to which the people have sworn.

Thirdly, That it is prejudicial to the state.

It will not be necessary to go through all the proofs which he adduces to establish the first proposition. It is certain that no such tribunal as that which has arrogated to’ itself the title of ‘ holy,’ entered into the plan of the Saviour of the World. It is equally so that nothing contained in the writings of the Evangelists, can be construed to sanction it, and that, of the ministers elected by divine authority for the promulgation of the gospel, none were inquisitors. ‘Believe me, sir,’ says the orator, ‘that neither in the catalogue of the ministers of the faith, enumerated by St. Paul, nor in the council of Jerusalem, do I find one vacant place for an inquisitor.’ It was not found necessary to erect a tribunal of inquisitors to punish Arius, when he denied the eternal generation of the Word –the divines of Nice were satisfied with condemning “the impious and detestable” doctrine, and with separating the author of the heresy from the communion of the faithful. The Nestorians, the Pelagians, and all the various sects, ‘who moved bell itself to shake the faith of the Catholics,’ shared the same fate to the Church of God trampled on all its enemies, and without the assistance of the ‘holy office.’ That it is not only useless but injurious to the Church of Rome, be illustrates, from his own experience, Here, al the house of Benjamin Franklin, he used to join m the evening conversations where the ministers of the Protestant communion designated him by the appellation ‘of the Papist.’ ‘Young as I then was,’ says he, ‘I was able to convince many of the supremacy which the Bishop of Rome obtains, by divine right, over the whole. church-a supremacy of jurisdiction and not merely of honour –but I confess that when, all in a body, they beset me on the establishment of the Inquisition, I had not a word to say.’ Discussions of this nature, he tells us, also took place in the house of George Washington, but be was never able to ascertain to what sect that celebrated General belonged. The Philosopher Franklin, however, was suspected to be an Arminian. On the challenge of Franklin, to give a public proof of his sincerity, he preached in the Catholic Church of Philadelphia against the Inquisition; his sermon was translated into English; it was then preached throughout the provinces of New York and Maryland; and so satisfied were the auditors that the Inquisition was the work or human policy, and despotism, that many of the Anglo-Americans changed their faith 11nd became good Catholics. Since that time, the Doctor tells us, no less than five bishoprics have been established in places where, had the Inquisition extended its baneful authority, there would not have been one.   Secondly, To prove that the Inquisition is contrary to the constitution of the state, the Doctor says nothing more is necessary than to take in one band the political system, and in the other the dark and fanatical code of this tribunal –the one breathes nothing but justice and humanity; the other is an outrage on all human laws, and human feelings– a code dark, dismal, and intricate as its own dungeons, made up of cavils, artifices, and the meanest tricks, and more adapted for hunting out supposed criminals than for ascertaining real crimes.

The Constitution says,

 Within twenty-four hours the prisoner shall be made acquainted with the cause of his imprisonment, and the name of his accuser if he have one. They shall read to him, entire, all the documents, together with the names and depositions of the witnesses; and if from these ha shall not comprehend them, they shall give him as much information as be may require, in order to discover who they are. That the process shall henceforward be public, in the manner and form determined by law. That neither torment nor compulsion shall be used towards him, neither shall he suffer confiscation. That no punishment imposed, whatever the crime may be, shall in any manner. pass to the family of the delinquent, but shall take effect solely upon the person who committed the offence.’

But what says the code of the Holy Inquisition?

‘It admits,’ says the Doctor,’ into its bosom, slander, calumny, accusation, and vengeance. It inspires, or rather orders, a blind obedience to its commands, as though it were infallible, and not responsible to any one for its actions. It orders inquiries, encourages informers, and protects spies, against all the laws of confidence and nature, imperiously commanding the dearest friends to accuse each other. It signifies not whether, under the pretext of preserving the faith, the father accuses the son, the son the father; the husband the wife, or the wife, the husband. Brothers, parents, and friends, all, according to the spirit of this tribunal, are obliged to watch, to inform against, and accuse each other. A commissary of the holy office, accompanied by the alguazil, and his assistants, is authorised, with impunity, to enter houses with a mysterious silence, even at midnight, and snatch a father from the bosom of his family, in the midst of their terrors, without allowing him to take a last farewel of his wife or children, condemning them to endless misery, which is the only patrimony this unfortunate father can transmit to his posterity. Whole generations before they are born, are thus sentenced, not only to poverty and beggary, but to perpetual ignominy and disgrace. ‘Thus it is’ that the holy office deprives society of useful and industrious citizens, and buries them in its infectious dungeons. It does more. In the edict of faith, which this tribunal publishes every year, it invites every person to accuse himself, who expects to be accused by another; and to those who comply within a certain time, it promises pardon; but to those who neglect it, it l1a.s no mercy-they are arrested, their fortunes confiscated, and they suffer the utmost punishment of its laws. ‘The scenes of horror, which take place at the examination of supposed criminals have often been described in novels and romances, but here we have the facts truly and distinctly stated by a Spaniard well informed of all the proceedings of this dark and sanguinary tribunal. The punishment that follows confession, and even precedes conviction, is horrible to relate.

‘In the first case,’ says he, ‘sentence is passed after a thousand mysterious questions; but in the second, besides the confinement in dark dungeons, destitute of all human consolation, they employ dreadful torments to extort confession. A pully, suspended to the ceiling, through which is passed a thick rope, is the first spectacle which meets the eye of the unhappy victim. The attendants load him with fetters, and tie a hundred pounds of iron to his ancles; they then turn up his arms to his shoulders, and fasten them with a cord; they fasten the rope round his wrists, and having raised him from the ground, they let him fall suddenly, repeating this twelve times, with a force so great that it disjoints the m011t robust body. If he does not then confess what the inquisitors wish, other torture awaits him; having first bound him hands and feet, eight. times does the sad victim suffer the rack; and if he persists without confessing, they compel him to swallow a quantity of water, to restore his respiration. But where this is not 1uflicient, the torment of the brasero completes the sanguinary scene, the slow fire of which cruelly roasts the naked feet, rubbed over with grease and secured in a block.’

The authority of this infernal tribunal extends even to the regions of the dead.

‘How often have the inquisitors ordered graves to be opened for the remains of those whom they judged to have died in heresy, in order to commit them to the flames! Unhappy relics of the human race! Sad spoils of death! Respected shades of the departed, who, having died in innocence1 have become the victims of calumny, malevolence, or vengeance, pardon the prejudice and barbarity of past ages! The Gentiles themselves respected the ashes of their dead; but it was reserved for the Inquisition to disturb your repose in the caverns of the earth.

‘The speaker next adverts to the cunning and low policy which the ‘Holy Office’ has always employed to secure the court favour, by serving the government as the vile instrument of absolute power.

‘Who,’ says he. ‘does not know that it has lent itself to the caprices and vengeance of the most infamous and voluptuous favourite (Godoy) to be found in our history? This tribunal, so overbearing in its power, so terrible to the weak and defenceless, had not the courage to exert its authority upon this impious wretch –this monster– a compound of every vice, without a single counterbalancing virtue; but it permitted, in the very face of a Catholic court and a Catholic king, not only panegyrics to be passed on him, but his loathsome image to be erected on the altar, by the side or the Cross of Jesus Christ.’

Thirdly, That the Inquisition is prejudicial to the prosperity of the state, the Doctor is of opinion, requires no other proof than the state of the Peninsula since the unfortunate epoch of its establishment –where all the useful sciences, the arts, agriculture, national industry, and commerce have disappeared– where a progressive decay and depopulation have left little more than ten millions and a half of inhabitants, the greater part of whom are poor and miserable; whereas, from the salubrity of the climate, the fertility of the soil, and the extent of the country, it is able to maintain more than double that number. He enumerates those men whose eminence for literature or piety has been the cause of their being buried in the dungeons of the Inquisition, and sacrificed to its unrelenting vengeance.

‘Philosophers, theologians, historians, politicians, statesmen, orators, poets, labour-ers, artisans, merchants, even the industrious farmers, who are the support of the nation, could not escape their rod of iron –in a word, men and women, poor and rich, wise and ignorant, innocent and wicked, just and unjust– all classes of the state has this tribunal’ afflicted ‘with the terrors of its power-it comprehends all –it persecutes all– it destroys all, under the pretext of religion and the support of the Gospel.’

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