British volunteer in the Spanish army during the Peninsular War who under the pseudonym Philos Hispaniae commissioned and probably also authored the first full English translation of the famous Cadiz Constitution of 1812 published in London a year later. Karl Marx (1818-1883) relied on a copy of this translation located in the reading room of the British Museum to elaborate a wide ranging interpretation of revolutions in the Hispanic world published in The New York Daily Tribune from August to December 1854.
Born on 24 September 1791 in Hampshire, England, as the scion of a family associated with the Royal Navy for generations; his grandfather, Rear-Admiral Mark Robinson is reputed to have been the commander who gave Nelson the first chance to prove his mettle during the early days of the American War of Independence. His father, Captain Charles Robinson, commanded several ships in North America, the West Indies and the Mediterranean and his elder brother, Lieutenant Charles Cowling Robinson, was at Trafalgar. His youngest sibling, James Robinson was one of the most eminent surgeon-dentists and anaesthetists in London, so a career in the Royal Navy was not an inevitable fate. Of his activities prior to 1810 little is known, with the exception of a fleeting reference to a visit to Spanish-speaking Puerto Rico, although it is not clear in what capacity he made that sojourn. He was recruited into Spanish service by General Enrique José O’Donnell in 1810, following Robinson´s daring decision to engage the small unit of British royal marines he commanded into a series of hostile actions against the French all along the Spanish Mediterranean coast, particularly in the vicinity of Sagunto and Palamós. Under the pseudonym Philos Hispaniae, he commissioned and probably authored the first full English translation of the Cadiz Constitution which he dedicated to Sir John Downie (1777-1826), a fellow volunteer in the Spanish Army. Robinson´s personal file in the Spanish military archives (Archivo General Militar de Segovia) lists him still as in active service under O´Donnell in 1815, that is to say when the war was already over and after the Constitution of Cadiz had been repealed by the restored Ferdinand VII. His attachment to liberal ideals, however, should not be doubted. In 1823, with the shadow of a French invasion looming again large over Spain, now to bring to an end the liberal triennium (Trienio Liberal), Robinson’s name appeared in the London press pleading for international support for the constitutional regime, and also in Spain participating in skirmishes against absolutist forces. He also seems to be the ‘Daniel Robinson’ who was granted Spanish citizenship by the Cortes according to records of a parliamentary session held on 16 May 1823. In the aftermath of the liberal downfall, he emigrated to Mexico to pursue a short-lived career in the mining business (1824-1827) with former fellow volunteer in the Spanish Army, Arthur Goodall Wavell (1785-1860). On 6 December 1824, in Asunción, Distrito Federal of Mexico, he had a daughter with Mary Ann Greathead who was named Maria de Guadalupe Ana Antonia Robinson (1824-1901). Over a decade later, when another Spanish liberal regime found itself under threat – that of Isabel II during the First Carlist war – Robinson was among the officers of the Royal Navy and Marines who were allowed to serve in the Army of the Queen while receiving half pay at home. It appears that he managed to keep this double attachment until he died, back in London, in 1849. In his will, he left to his son Charles Robinson a print of Lieutenant General Sir Charles Doyle (1770 or 1782? -1842), a former fellow volunteer in the Spanish Army during the Peninsular War, and a Spanish military cross with diamonds and turquoise to his daughter Maria de Guadalupe Ana, among other mementos.
Sources: G. Iglesias-Rogers, ‘From Philos Hispaniae to Karl Marx: The First English Translation of a Liberal Codex’, in D. Hook and G. Iglesias-Rogers (eds.), Translations in times of Disruption – A interdisciplinary study in transnational contexts (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2017), 45-73; G. Iglesias-Rogers, British Liberators in the Age of Napoleon: Volunteering under the Spanish Flag in the Peninsular War (London: Bloomsbury, 2014), 40, 91, 157, 162, 175, 186; Philos Hispaniae, The Political Constitution of the Spanish Monarchy proclaimed in Cadiz, 19th March, 1812 (London: J. Souter, 1813); A Return of the Officers of the Royal Navy and Marines who are serving in the Army of the Queen of Spain, and in Receipt of their Half Pay’, The Morning Post, 12 March 1836, p. 6; The National Archives of the United Kingdom, Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (Prob): 11/2090, ‘Will and Testament of Daniel Robinson (1849)’; ‘Daniel Robinson, 24 Sep 1791, England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 citing Bishops Waltham, Hampshire, England’, FHL microfilm 1,042,025 in online database FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NY4Q-3QH, accessed 24 January 2010; (1853) ‘Obituary Captain Charles Robinson’ in Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. XXXIX, p. 439; Hillam, C. (2008) ‘Robinson, James (1813–1862)’ in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edition, L. Goldman (ed.) http://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2167/view/article/56842, accessed 24 March 2016; M. Rubel (1960) ‘Les Cahiers d’Etude de Karl Marx II. 1853–1856,’ International Review of Social History, 5, (01), (1960), 51-2; K.F. Grube, ‘Zu Problemen der Textanordnung bei der kritischen Konstituierung des edierten Textes von Marx’ Exzerpten zur spanischen Revolutionsgeschichte,’ Beiträge zur Marx-Engels-Forschung, Jg. 22, (1987), 225-233; “Exzerpte zur Geschichte Spaniens –  London, August. 1854 ‘The Political Constitution of the Spanish Monarchy. Proclaimed in Cadiz. 19 March, 1812. London 1813” in M. Neuhaus, C. Reichel et al (eds.) Karl Marx Friedrich Engels Exzerpte und Notizen September 1853 bis Januar 1855 – Text (Heft 2) (Amsterdam: Akademie Verlag, 2007), 581-92; P. Ribas, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels – Escritos sobre España: extractos de 1854 (Madrid: Trotta: Fundación de Investigaciones Marxistas, 1997), 266.
Author: Graciela Iglesias-Rogers
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