FERDINAND THE SIXTH
 FERDINAND THE SIXTH, the second son of Philip the Fifth, was the next king. He was thirty-eight when he was
crowned, and was the husband of a Portuguese princess named Barbara, who was so plain
that, when he first saw her, be was for sending her back to her father, but so bright and
good that after he knew her he came to adore her. Like his father, Ferdinand was subject
to fits of low spirits and melancholy, and these were the means of procuring him the
service of a most useful minister. For on one occasion, when the king had been many days
in bed crying, and refused to get up, or to wash himself, the queen secretly introduced
into the next room the famous singer Farinelli, who sang so melodiously that Ferdinand
started up, ordered the sweet singer to be brought before him, and asked him what reward
he wanted for giving him such exquisite delight.
Farinelli, who knew why he had been sent for, answered: "Nothing, except that your majesty
will get up, wash yourself and dress, and go out for a walk."
Ferdinand could not part with him, and the singer became one of his chief advisers till he
died. He was an honest, worthy fellow, gave good advice, and never took a bribe, which was
considered extraordinary at Madrid.
Other good advisers whom the king drew round him were an old Spanish grandee named
Carvajal, who was such a miracle of honesty that he considered a compliment a crime; and a
peasant who is known by the name of Ensenada, and who, I suspect, bright as he was, was
not so stiff-necked on
 the subject of bribes. His real name I do not know. When he was called into the king's
counsels he was made Marquis of Ensenada, which in Spanish means "In himself, nothing."
This was very humble, no doubt; but I do not find that after he was well seated in power
he was remarkable for humility.
These three men now undertook to cure the evils under which Spain had been suffering ever
since the middle of the reign of Philip the Second. And I confess it fills me with
astonishment to see how much they accomplished, considering the ignorance of the people,
the helplessness of the king, and the power of the Church.
They reduced the taxes on food and other things so that the people could pay them without
starving. They put a stop to the stealing of public money by those who undertook to
collect the taxes. They built roads and improved the harbors; they encouraged the
establishment of factories; they stimulated ship-building; they repealed the laws which
had driven foreign trade from Spanish ports; they saw to it that the king paid his debts;
they regulated the expenses of government in proportion to its income, so that there was
something over every year, and when Ferdinand died there was a large sum in the treasury.
They punished corrupt judges with severity, and rewarded pupils at the colleges who showed
proficiency in learning; finally, they destroyed the power of the pope in Spain. Under
Philip the Second he appointed twelve thousand priests to serve in Spain; at the close of
Ferdinand's reign he had only the right of appointing fifty-two. There were still one
hundred and eighty thousand priests in Spain, and they still owned half the kingdom. But a
reckoning was at hand.
In 1754 Carvajal died, worn out with faithful work. Two years afterwards Ensenada was
detected in assuming power which did not belong to him, and was dismissed. France and
England were at war. It was in 1756 that the
 English General Braddock, under whom Washington was serving, was defeated by the French at
Fort Duquesne. Each nation tried to get Spain into the war on its side, and if it had not
been for the firmness of Queen Barbara, one of them would probably have succeeded. She
said Spain had had enough of war; what money the people earned they wanted for themselves.
The heart of this noble woman was broken by the terrible disaster which befell her native
city of Lisbon, in Portugal, on November 1st, 1755. On that dreadful day the people had
hardly got out of their beds when they heard a rushing sound, as of underground thunder;
then, in an instant, the earth began to shake from side to side, and the strongest houses
to totter and fall; then the waters of the river flowed out to sea, leaving the bottom
bare, and sweeping out into the ocean every craft that floated; then, after the lapse of
perhaps a minute or two, the waters returned in a wave fifty feet high, and drowned every
living creature in its path. It is said that in the space of six minutes, fifty thousand
people lost their lives, including many friends and relations of the Queen of Spain.
She roused herself from the shock to furnish food and clothing to those who had lost
everything by the earthquake. But, this done, her despair returned. Her health gradually
declined, and on August 27th, 1758, she died.
Her husband, who was passionately attached to her, could not get over his grief. At times
his paroxysms frightened his friends; he seemed to be going mad, like Charles the Second.
He would not eat; he could not sleep; he would not speak when spoken to. Just a year after
his wife's death he breathed his last.
He left a country which, in comparison with what it had been, was prosperous and happy;
which shows you that the condition of a kingdom does not always depend on the quality of