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44. José Cadalso y Vázquez de Andrade (1741-1782), Defence of the Spanish Nation against Persian Letter 78 by Montesquieu, 177573

José Cadalso y Vázquez de Andrade, Spanish soldier and man of letters, was a prolific author across a range of genres – poetry, drama, and philosophy.74 In this extract, from what is probably one of his first texts, he defends Spain against accusations levelled at it by Montesquieu in one of his famous Persian Letters. listing instead a series of French crimes committed in the name of religion. It was published secretly and anonymously, and this is how it ends:

It was the Spanish who…? What? No. These monsters and those like them are not French and they are not Spanish. They come from a country of savages called fanatics, and it is an insult unworthy of a noble pen to blame a whole nation for the abuses of a few. Such men have existed in all places and in all times, in some centuries more than in others, according to whether ignorance or enlightenment has the upper hand.

73 Defensa de la nación española contra la carta persiana LXXVIII de Montesquieu en agravio de la religión, valor, ciencia y nobleza de los españoles, ed. Guy Mercadier, Toulouse: Iberie Recherche, Université de Toulouse, 1970, p. 27, n. 20.

74 Portrait of José Cadalso by unknown artist (1855):