"The people" is, in this sense, a fiction, the result of a search zealously undertaken by the middle class which, in the years of revolution and Romanticism, allied itself in literature, the newspaper world, law fraternities and in public employments.
Still, in the year 1845, the Countess of Teba, with the Duke of Alba, the Marquis of Alcañices and other nobles travel to Toledo, visit the Cathedral and then, go strolling through the streets, dressed in lowly garb.
This conscious self-abasing by the nobility will be a current of sympathy toward the lower classes which the War of Independence has thrust upon the front page of international Romantic curiosity, and which together with the self-willed middle class, see the exaltation of the people as the essence of all virtues, for in it they read probity, manliness and courage.
Not, certainly, in the common people that cry "death to the nation" and "bring on the chains!" but rather in the people authentically portrayed by that shoemaker who loses his life as he bewails aloud a liberty which is long in appearing.
The people thus is the privileged theme of political discussion among a loosely defined middle class which, when it wishes to be political, talks to the people, directs manifestos at it, assumes representation for it and speaks in its name and considers itself a part of it. Not just any part, but the upper part, its head, as if the people had reasoning faculty enough, but lacked a head, speaking ability and direction.
There proliferate, among the nobility, those societies dedicated to extending and improving the education of the people, or arouse their initiatives in caring for material and spiritual necessities, and even to foster virtues of honor and foresight among them.
And that itself, an illustration that shows a political path, is what a middle class, sufficiently risen in government administration, in the army or the professions to distance itself from the people, - but not enough to become absorbed into the nobility, - is always ready to try to do, even with ambiguity of talents on its own position.
The middle class, is more informed than the people, but cannot guide it if it were not or did not feel itself to be part of it. Hence, the flexible borderline between the people and their learned leaders of the middle class, whether these be employees of the State, professionals, or more usually, military men.
Without doubt, in that definition of what the people may be, ideas count decisively up to the point when people will recognize as their own, as though they belong to them, those persons elevated by the very fact of being seen in those ideas.
Prim, who reaches high rank in the army, is people and even speaks to it or speaks in its name, because he is a progressive who rebels against systematic robbery, against the queen and her coterie of close advisers.
And Sevillano, a banker as rich as also he was astute and prudent, - after he had already opened for himself a wide path in the financial world of Madrid, - belonged to the militia which joyfully had received Mendizábal in 1835 and almost twenty years later, summoned into his own home the front-ranking staff of the revolution, to proceed right then, to no less than the constitution of a Council of Salvation, Armament and Defense.
While this was happening, another banker, Salamanca, whose steps had led him into the nucleus of Moderate power, had to stand by helplessly and see the very people who had respected the property rights of Sevillano, turn into a violent mob and make bonfires of his own chattels.
At the beginning, when Mendizábal entered Madrid in 1835, the great welcome that broke out in the streets was shared by a select group of aristocrats, of whom more than a few were businessmen, rich bankers, professionals and artisans.
These, with the people and even enrolled in the militia, were not only Sevillano, but also Fagoaga and Dutari, Francisco de las Rivas, Llano and Chávarri, Manuel Cantero and José Safont.
Then, with the revolutions that followed and the consolidation of the moderate middle classes, the motley mixture will begin to lose some of its highest elements, which is to say, "leave or be turned out," but as long as the people exist as a political theme, its makeup will always be plural.
This people of Madrid, - day-laborers, tradesmen, shop-keepers, clerks, professionals, owners of small businesses, - neither exists as such nor is it always present as such in the city, nor does it have a permanent structure, nor is it affiliated solidly to a political party. Nor does it form thereby a class or an interclass mixture. Rather it is the contrary that happens.
Of the people present in the streets of Madrid in 1808 to rebel against the French invader, in 1820 to proclaim anew the Constitution and force the king to swear to it, and in the last months of l833 to fight in defense of the queen, classes will emerge as time goes on, but not without first having passed through various political experiences, which will wind up defining mutual interests.
In a city that achieved its modern gait under the weighty load of the nobility and clerics, the appearance and configuration of class interests will demand a long process of differentiation of social structure, of fragmentation of urban plots, and the various collective themes.
This is exactly what will happen, from the first years of the 19th century and will advance in notable ways with successive revolts or revolutions of l835, 1840, 1854 and 1868, although there still may remain many people as political agents in the Madrid of 1931, who will light up the Republic, for second time, as an effect of the last political revolution.
Through all the century that fills the history of the Liberal State, the people of Madrid is present or disappear, become restive or weaken, show energy or are passive, egoistic or generous, daring or acquiescent without luck, accustomed to fight or is timid.
All will depend on the moment, if the pace of the people lags behind or spurts forward by the prodding of those who seem to be its natural leaders such as the military chiefs, who go before to accompany or monitor its life signs.
That people cannot be treated as if they were a social class with well-defined structures, recognized leaders, programs for action, testimonial manifestos, and divisions. In a city which transforms its social structure publicly, the people also change composition even as they act collectively.
All this being so, true is it also that the people do not lack for frames of reference, innate or programmable.
Because, for very strange that it may seem in the later order of classes, there exists in the Madrid of the 19th century a truly popular institution that rises again and again like a kind of phoenix.
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