30 MAY 1863, Page 16


THE " VILLARS" MEMOIRS OF THE COURT OF SPAIN.* THE question as to the authorship and sources of the " Memoirs of the Court of Spain," published by Mr. Stirling last year, to which we drew attention in our notice of that gentleman's volume (Spectator, March 8 and March 15, 1862), promises (judging from the contents of Mr. MacCarthy's pamphlet) to become one of the most curious literary enigmas of the day. We drew Mr. Stirling's attention to the fact that nearly the whole of the contents of his volume were to be found incorporated in two works of the well- known Madame d'Aulnoy. In April, 1862, Mr. MacCarthy, the accomplished translator of Calderon, apprised Mr. Stirling of the existence of a volume in his possession, " Memoires de la Cour d'Espagne,''published at Paris in 1733, which, with a few compara- tively unimportant variations, was identical with Mr. Stirling's volume. The editor of the edition of 1733, however, professes to be unacquainted with the name of the author, while the writer of the preface to Mr. Stirling's MS. unhesi- tatingly assigns the authorship to the Marquis de Villars. Strangely enough, Mr. MacCarthy's copy was bought at the sale of the library of the late Mr. Ford (author of the "Handbook of Spain "), an intimate friend of Mr. Stirling's, and whom Ile had consulted as to the possibility of the previous publication of the Villars MS. Still more strangely, Mr. Stirling himself, in his "Annals of the Artists of Spain" (1848), refers to the " Memoires de la Cour d'Espagne," 12mo., Paris, 1733, as a probable "compilation from Madame d'Aulnoy and others." Was there ever such a case of loss of memory since the original confusion of tongues ? Not content, however, with thus bringing to light the volume of 1733, Mr. MacCarthy, guided by a happy discovery of an extract in a work in the library of the King's Inns at Dublin, has introduced into the field another competitor for the honour of being the common source of the D'Aulnoy memoirs, the volume of 1733, and Mr. Stirling's Villars MS., in a MS. in the library of the Arsenal at Paris, which contains most, at any rate, of the Villars MS., with the addition of certain passages of some historical value, and of considerable importance in their bearing on the pestion of the original authorship of the memoirs. Grounding his arguments on the character of these additional passages, and on the im- probability of the statements in the preface to the Villa's MS., Mr. MacCarthy thinks that he has demonstrated that the author could not have been the Marquis de Villars. This, then, and the opinion that in the Arsenal MS. we have a transcript, at any rate, of the memoirs as they originally stood, are the two results at which Mr. MacCarthy arrives in the interesting and able pamphlet now before us, and having prefaced thus much, we proceed to examine his statements more in detail. We must remark at the outset that it is extremely unfortu- nate that the brevity of the time during which Mr. MacCarthy was able to examine the Arsenal MS., did not enable him to

* Mbnoires de la Cour d'Espagne, sous le Regne de Charles IL (1878-1882). Par le Marquis de Villars. Being a collation of the various editions and manuscripts of these memoirs now known to exist, with some inquiry as to their alleged author. A Paper read before the Royal Irish. Academy, Monday, December 8th, 1862. By Denis Florence

MacCarthy, Barrister-at-law. Dublin : University Press, 1863.

give detailed comparative analysis of it, similar to that which he as given of the D'Aulnoy's volumes and Mr. Stirling's v51 ume. We are therefore unable to do more at present than argue provisionally on conjectural deductions from his account.

With respect, then, to the Arsenal MS., in the first place, the passage in M. de Flassan's Histoire Genii-ale et Raisonnie de is Diplomucie Francaise (Paris, 1811), in the library of the King's Inns, at Dublin, which is to be found nearly verbatim in D'Aulnoy, the volume of 1733 and the Stirling MS., is quoted as taken from "Etat de l'Espagne, manuscr. in fol. bibl. de l'Arsenal." In the catalogue of the Arsenal Library, however, the MS. in question is given under the title Me'moires de la Cour d'Espagne, "which appears at the top of tho first page, as in Mr. Stir- ling's MS." "Why," Mr. MacCarthy continues, "M. de Flassan preferred to call it by a name which does not belong to that por- tion of the volume from which he has quoted, and which only appears in the MS. (a blank page intervening) at folio 100—if, indeed, in strictness it appears even there—I cannot say, except that he did so, perhaps, from a salutary fear of having his trust- worthy authority confounded with the suspicious narrative of Madame d'Aulnoy." "The MS. is a folio volume, containing 130 leaves, somewhat closely written on both sides. The older forms of spelling, which had become modernized before the time Mr. Stirling's transcript was made, are preserved throughout. There are no erasures or interlineations by the original writer from beginning to end. The MS. does not appear to have been prepared for the press; but seems to be a fair copy of the original draught made by the author himself, whoever he was, for his own accommodation or the information of some other party. There is no introduction or preface of any kind, the author com- mencing his narrative abruptly with the sentence,--' La guerre qui commence in 1672 entre la France et la Hollande,' &c., as at page 9 of the Villars memoirs. The differences which exist between the Arsenal MS. and all the other known copies of these memoirs begin at the very beginning. They are sometimes trifling and verbal, like those between the Stirling MS. and the volume of 1783; but generally they are far more important. The Arsenal MS. seems to be the first out- pouring of the author's mind ; the whole truth, as be believed it, is spoken frankly and fully, too frankly it would appear, for the anonymous editor of the edition of 1733, or his censor, either of whom, doubtless from the fear of giving offence to the royal family of France, has omitted some of the most interesting of its passages. The most curious of these refer to the conduct of the young Queen of Spain, the first wife of Charles II., who, it will be recollected, was the niece of Louis XIV. These sup- pressed passages betray an amount of hostility and almost hatred to this princess, who, if she exhibited little strength of character, appears to us so amiable and interesting in the charm- ing letters of the Marchioness de Villars, as to create a strong disbelief that these memoirs could have been written by the Ambassador of France, and the husband of the writer of these 1 etters ."

Mr. MacCarthy then proceeds to quote these passages seriatim, and they certainly fully bear out his assertion as to their tone. It must be recollected that they all occur before the place in the MS. volume where the blank leaf occurs, followed by the new title "Estat de la Cour d'Espage en l'annee 1680." There is, however, "no difference in the handwriting or the colour of the ink" in these two divisions of the MS. narrative. There are omissions as well as additions in the Arsenal MS. The commencement of the Stirling MS. (seven pages in the printed volume) is wanting, and this contains the passage (as printed in Stirling), " J'avais vu cette Cour et la plus grande partie do l'Espag,ne. R y a quinze ans, on y trouvait encore des Ministres de reputation, &c. Mais dans un second voyage, nu durant deux ans j'ai en l'occasion de voir continuellement la Cour et lea Ministres, j'ai trouve pen des restes de rancience Espagne dens le Public et le particulier ; c'est ce qui m'a porte d'ecrire ces memoires pour faire voir en detail le changement ,de cette monarchie,qu'il serait difficile de se persuader 1 moms, que d'en etre convaincu par une suite de faits que je rapporterai comme je les ai vm sans prevention et sans interest." He then goes on to describe the arrangements of the palace and the principal offices an State, ending by promising more particulars when he had described "ce qui s'est passé en cette Cour depuis le mois de Juin, 1679, jusqu'au mois de May de Panne° 1681." It is with the paragraph following this that the Arsenal MS. com- mences. Now, Vinare went as ambassador to Spain for the first time in 1671, and again in 1679, and the period 1679-81, which the writer speaks of, is exactly tbet covered by this second embassy ; and there seems to be something very like a positive identification of the professed author with the am- bassador in the words which describe his Cabinet intercourse with the Spanish Ministers of State during these years. If SO —" il y a quinze ans" should be surely joined with the sentence which precedes—the year 1686 would be the date at which these memoirs profess to have been written. If, then, the Arsenal MS. is the original source and Villars not the writer, the passages containing these personal details concerning the author must be entire inventions of a bookmaker. Has Mr. MacCarthy considered this point ? There is another passage, noted by him as omitted, at least at that place, by the Arsenal MS., which gives an account of a bull-fight, and speaks severely of that sport as a barbarous pastime introduced by the Moors. Whence was this passage derived, if not part of the original memoirs? The addi- tional passages respecting the young Queen of Spain might, in- deed, have been omitted for the cause assigned by Mr. Mac- Carthy; and they are so inconsistent with Madame de Villars' account of the same Princess, that they could hardly have been written by her husband. But is not the view taken of the con- duct of the young Queen in several passages of the Stirling MS. (supported by the volume of 1733 and the D'A ultioy volumes) equally or still more at variance with the tone of these additional passages in the Arsenal MS.? Looking at them together, we think it scarcely possible that they could have originally pro- ceeded from one and the same author. But our readers shall judge for themselves.

The principal passage as given by Mr. MacCarthy from his Arsenal MS., in which the conduct of the Queen is criticized, is a sort of summary of the state of things at Court in May, 1681. After a description of the King of Spain, in unreserved terms of bitter scorn, the writer goes on to say that

"Vera le commencement de l'ann4e 1681, il prist in coutumo de se coucher a sept heures du soir, et de souper soul dans son list, faisant

fermer son appartement de maniere que in Reyno memo n'y entroit qu'

apres avoir long temps frappe a la porta, aymoit copendant ot auroit este dans une entiere dependence d' Elle, Si Elle avoit ou quelque appli- cation a luy plaire et a le gouverner.

"Mats elle paroissoit pour luy sans amitie comme sans estime et le plus souvent avec pen de complaisance at de menagement, hors dens lea momens qu' elle en vouloit obtenir quelquo grace. Son indifference estoit generalle pour tout le reste de la Cour, n'ayaut ni bonte effective, ni meme d'honneste apparento pour lea personnes qui r approchoient, esloignee de faire du bien autant par faut de volonte quo de credit, pen liberalle, insensible au service comma a rinjurie. capable do brouiller tout le monde par son indiscretion, entesteo do deux ou trois femmes de chambre confidentes de sea souhaits et de sea vues, comme Elle l'estoit a leur amours, sacrifiant tout le reste pour dies, on en vit une marque lorsque dens an jour de ceremonie elle voulut, centre toutes lea regles

du palais at do la bienseance, quo ses femmes do chambres portassent certains voiles comme lea flues d'honneur, ce caprice luy attira le chagrin ot lea plaintes des plus grandes Maisons de is Cour offensees du mepris qu' elle faisoit de leurs filles. "On Lny voyoit d'ailleurs pen de piete, peu de modestio et de retenue, at tout le jour attachee aux fenestres du Palais si estroittement deffen- &les aux Reynes at aux princesses d'Espagne, elle estoit a parlor des doigts et quelques fois mesme tout haut avec des miserables Frangois que paroissent autant BOB amants que ceux do ses femmes do chambro ;

il eat certain que scion to genie et les manieres d'Espagne sa conduite auroit dfi luy faire craindre des suittes facheuses, silo Roy, ot le gou-

vernement n'eussent este egallement foibles. Elle no menageoit point le premier Ministre, mais comma elle estoit sans pouvoir, il so contontoit de la mepriser sans tirer avantage do son peu do conduite ny Lay faire plus de mal qu'elle s'en faisoit Elle memo. "La Reyne mere la connoisoit bien et apres avoir fait toutes lea de- marches pour entrer avec Elle en une veritable confiance, dont les

liaisons auroient pa tour dormer touto pouvoir Bur l'esprit du Roy et sur lea ministres, elle n'y trouva quo do rindifference ot de la legerete, de sorte que voyant ses soins jnutiles elle fut obligee d'abandonner toutes les viies qu'elle avoit formees pour le bien de la Matson Royalle et de l'estat, et no songea plus qu' a donner le rests de as vie an repos at alit piete."

And, speaking of the Camerera-Mayor, — •

"La Camerera Mayor toujours unie avec le premier Ministre, lay rendoit compte de in Reyne aupres do laquello elle so maintenoit par uno grand° complaisance a lily laisser faire tout ce qu'elle vouloit, cotta liberte excessive fat an malheur pour la Rayne qui s'abandonna sans contrainte a une conduite dangerous° at ron en lieu de douter pour lea suittes Si in severite dure de la Duchesse de Terra Nova no luy eust point est plus utile que la foible tolerance de la Duchesse d'Albuquerque."

Compare the spirit of the foregoing passages, as well as the version of facts conveyed in them, with the tone and statements of the following passages from the Stirling MS. After attribut- ing to the pretended good offices of the first Camerera-Mayor (the Duchess of Terranova) between the King and Queen all the unpleasantnesses that arose in the palace, this writer goes on to say :— "Elle avoit imprime dans l'esprit du Roy tine extreme haine pour co qui avoit le nom at is moindre apparence de Frangois, at elle revolt etendilie an dellt de ce peon pent se l'imaginer ; elle avoit ebonite it le rendre jaleux des moindres Francois qui parolssoient sons lea fel:Ares de Reine, et jusqu'a un miserable son qui se presents une fois l in por- titre du camas° de la Reins qui lui faisoit donzer quelque quo aim:nine. Le Roy on parat tellement emu qu'it en juger par ce dit, ii sembloit quo si ce n'ent ete dams le Palais, ii ranroit pent-etre fait assommer. La Camerera Mayor en fit me si grande affairs aupres de in ReMe qu'elle robligea a faire commander de la part du Roy ce miserable par l'Am- bassadeur de France de sortir de Madrid sous peine de In vie. Rile memo at paroitre cet entetement d'une maniere plus publique a regard de deux gentilehommes de l'Ambassadeur d'Hollande, qui so rencon- txerent dans line rile on In Reine passoit avec Le Roy. Es sirent arreter lour carrosse par respect, et saluerent profondement leurs Majestes quand Elles passerent. 11 se tronva par hazard gulls s'etoient arretes du cote de M ReMe, gulls etoient habilles it la Frangoise. La Camerera Mayor lour envoya demander qui us etoient, et scut par enx memos qu'iLs etoient Hollandois ; cependant elle envoys encore chez l'Ambas- sadeur d'Hollande pour s'en assurer et pour Mars faire dire de In part du Roy gulls ne Mars arrivat plus 1s ravenir quand ils rencontreroient leurs Majestes de se ranger du cote de in Reim, fly do In saluer."

Speaking of the King going alone to the Escurial Palace, the writer says :—

"lie second jour y fut, La Reine lui ecrivit et lay envoys un asses

bean diamant, il repondit Is cette galauterie par un petit coffre d'or, avec an chapelet de calembourg garni de petits diamants acconapagne d'une lettre, par lequel il luj raandoit faisoit un grand vent, et gull avoit Me six loups."

The conduct of the Duchess of Albuquerque and of the King on the change of Camerera-Mayor is thus described :—

"On in vit prendre dams le Palish) nne conduite touts oppose() Is celle de In Duchess° de Terranova, et ron jngea qu'etant entierement depen- dents de is Reine Mere, elle suivoit les intentions de douceur et de menagement quo cette Princess° avoit toujoure fait parottre pour in Heine an belle fille. Co changement en attira un mitre pen de jours apres, quand le Roy qui jusqu'alors avoit par s'opposer I beancoup de choses innocentes qui anroient pm donner du plaisir et de ramusement Isla Reine lny dit tout d'un coup gull falloit se divertir, qu'Elle se promenat, et qu'Elle montat is cheval, 11 luy permit meme de se coucher aussy tard qu'Elle voudroit, ponra qu'Elle lnj Miss& la liberte de se coucher is hint henres snivant la contame, gull changes encore quelques jours apres pour no se coucher qu'a dix, et on luj vit presque en un moment prendre des manieres avec La Reim tontes opposees a cellos avoit eu pour Elle depuis qu'Elle etoit It Madrid. Comma on n'avoit point donte quo les premieres ne luy eussent ete inspires par In Duchesse de Terranova, on fit Is la nouvelle Camerera Mayor tout ihonneur de cette itouvelle donceur. Dana tout ce mouvement on °rat reconnoitre le ponvoir de In Reim Mere, qui acute s'attachaut Is vonloir mettas la Duchess° de Albuquerque anpres de in Reine, en fit coaveuir le premier ministas."

Surely these passages can scarcely have been written by the same person who wrote those which are peculiar to the Arsenal MS. The way of looking at the restraints on the Queen—the matter of the windows and the Frenchmen, for instance; the esti- mate of the Duchess of Albuquerque's changed system, and the statement as to the King's hour of going to bed—seem to us quite irreconcileable in the two writers. And, indeed, through- out the Stirling volume the position of the Queen is entirely sympathized with, and her mistakes and failings are extenuated and explained as arising from the misrepresentations of others, or the feelings natural to her age. The current tone of this Stirling MS. is so marked in this respect that it becomes less a matter of inconsistency between particular passages than of the whole narrative, with the additional passages in the Arsenal MS. Still, it would be desir- able to know if the passages we have quoted from the Stirling volume are also in the Arsenal MS. If so, it would seem to us very probable that the latter is a mere collection on Spanish affairs, from various sources, in which the original of the Stirling MS. has been embodied, with few exceptions, just as Madame d'Aulnoy seems to have made a similar use of it in her works.

It would be very desirable that the variations between the Stirling MS. and the edition of 1733 should be compared with the Arsenal MS. and Madame d'Aulnoy, so as to give us some basis for conjecture as to the probable relations of them all to a common original—whether this were written by Villars or not.

Mr. MacCarthy has urged some objections to the statements in the editorial preface to the Stirling MS. which seem to prove that the MS. editor had rather vague and inaccurate information as to the circumstances under which Villars placed his MS. in the hands of some French diplomatist. Still, though the facts and dates may have really differed somewhat from the editor's ver- sion of them, we do not see much force in our author's argument as to the memoirs being of 'no use to an ambassador to Spain at a period so much later. The spirit in which the former embassy was conducted could scarcely be conveyed except by some such narrative, and surely an accurate knowledge of the policy and particular acts of his predecessor might have been of the greatest value to a French Ambassador, although the persons at the head 9i Spanish affairs may have been wholly changed.

Acknowledging, then, the cogency of much of Mr. MacCarthy's reasoning, and feeling grateful to him for the advance which he

has made -towards -the solution of this curious literary pr i lern, we are unable, with our present knowledge of the Arsenal to agree with him in his opinion that it represents the original the "Memoirs of the Court of-Spain ;" nor are we disposed, as yet, to abandon the opinion -that the original of the Stirling MS. pro- ceeded-from the pen of -the Marquis de Villars.