Protestantism and modern philosophy, might seem to
have been inaccessible to the ameliorating influence of a more enlightened public reason.
The territory was compact and almost insulated; and since the Cortes had ceased to be assembled, the government was that of absolute monarchy, controlled by no national representation, or independent judiciary, or political institution.
‘The royal power,’ says its apologist and admirer,1
‘moved majestically in the orbit of its unlimited faculties.’
The individual to whom these prerogatives were confided, was the bigoted, ignorant, kindly Charles III.
A fond husband, a gentle master, really wishing well to his subjects, he had never read a book, not even in his boyhood with his teachers.
He indulged systematically his passion for the chase, crossing half his kingdom to hunt a wolf; and chronicling his achievements as a sportsman.
He kept near his person the prayer-book and playthings of his childhood as amulets; and yielding his mind to his confessors, he never strayed beyond the established paths in politics and religion.
Yet the light that shone in his time penetrated even his palace: externally, he followed the direction of France
; at home, the mildness of his nature, and some good sense, and even his timidity, made him listen to the counsels of the most liberal of his ministers; so that in Spain
also criminal law was softened, the use of torture discountenanced, and the papal power and patronage more and more restrained.
The fires of the Inquisition were extinguished, though its ferocity was not subdued;