Imágenes de páginas

this exposure and fatigue to one who had hardly yet regained the use of his legs, was a relapse.

We have seen, in a former letter that when preparations were made for a last stand at the palace, in case the city should be carried by assault, he had joined with the rest of the diplomatic corps in an offer to repair thither, and be near the Queen in the hour of danger. In the following letter, written after the event of the siege and the catastrophe of Espartero's regency, who had been driven from the country by a successful insurrection, he enters into some particulars of his agency in proposing the diplomatic intervention, and the motives which prompted the offer. The letter is to Mrs. Paris, is dated August 10th, and, besides the theme to which I have referred, contains other interesting and striking details of the royal drama of which he was a spectator.

I see the French and English papers have published incorrect accounts of an interposition of the corps diplomatique in relation to the safety of the little Queen and her sister, in case of the city being carried by storm. I am represented by some as having prepared a note under the direction of the French chargé d'affaires, by others as having prepared it in concert with the British Minister. The fact is, I prepared one according to my own conception of what would be likely to meet with the concurrence of both parties, whose disagreement was likely to defeat the whole measure. The intervention was in consequence of preparations being made to convert the royal palace into a citadel, where, in case the city were carried by assault, the last desperate stand was to be made, and in consequence of a declaration of that fanfaron Mendizabal, who had the control of affairs, that, if pushed to the utmost, he would sally forth with the Queen and her sister in each hand, put himself in the midst of the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

troops, and fight his way out of the city. I looked upon this as empty swaggering, but I knew not how far the defense might be pushed, or to what dangers the poor little Queen and her sister might be exposed by those who might seek to screen themselves behind the fancied sanctity of their persons.

I entered, therefore, into the remonstrance of the diplomatic corps solely on account of the royal children. I was for protesting against any EXTREME, either of attack or defense, which might put their persons in imminent jeopardy, knowing that the protest of the diplomatic corps would be promulgated, and would reach the besieging army, with the leaders of which the objections of a part of the diplomatic corps would have influence; while that of another part would have an effect upon the leaders of the defense. I had however, as I before observed, to modify the whole note, as the British Minister would only protest against the attack, while the rest of the diplomatic corps objected to omitting the word defense. I suggested the idea of offering to repair to the palace, and be near the Queen in any moment of danger; which was adopted, and incorporated in the note. Our offer was declined. Fortunately, events obviated the necessity of the measure. My only view in joining in the measure, as I before observed, was as far as our interference could have effect, to prevent the poor little Queen and her sister from being personally exposed to the dangers of any ruffian contest between warring and desperate factions. I am happy to say the storm has passed away, and they are at present safe.

The day before yesterday we had one of those transitions of scene and circumstance to which the melodramatic politics of this country are subject. Poor Espartero, as you will learn from the public papers, has been completely cast down, and driven out of the country. Notwithstanding all the obloquy heaped upon his name by those who have effected his downfall, I still believe him to have been loyal in his intentions towards the crown and the constitution; but of this no more for the present. Those who were lately insurgents, now possess the power; have formed themselves into a provisional government, occupy the capital, and carry on the af fairs of the country in the accustomed manner, at the public offices.

Their great object now is to declare the Queen of age as soon as possible, so that there will be no need of a regency, and that they will be able to act immediately in her name and by her authority. Some were of opinion that the government (or cabinet of Ministers) ought to declare her so instantly, as authorized by the wish of the nation, expressed in the various juntas and pronunciamentos; but others objected that this would be unconstitutional; the Cortes only could, by its vote, abbreviate the minority of the Queen, and declare her of age to govern, and before the Cortes only could she take the necessary oaths on assuming the reins of government. It was determined, therefore, to defer the measure until the meeting of the Cortes in October next, but, in the meantime, to have a grand ceremonial in presence of all the dignitaries of the kingdom and the diplomatic corps, whenever the measure should be recommended in an address to the Queen, and concurred in by her, and thus a solemn pledge given to the nation, that, the Cortes concurring, the minority would cease, and the Queen begin to reign in her own person in October. Accordingly, the day before yesterday, at five o'clock in the afternoon, I was present at another imposing scene at that theatre of political events, the royal palace. I have given you two or three rather gloomy scenes there already, connected with the story of the little Queen. I will now give you one of a different character. As the recent change of affairs has been one in which the moderados, or aristocracy, have taken great part, a complete change has taken place in the affairs of the palace. Arguelles, Madame Mina, and all the official characters elevated into place about the royal person by former revolutions are now superseded, and the old nobility, who stood aloof and refused to mingle at court with people who had risen from the ranks, now surround the throne, and throng the saloons of the palace. As my carriage drew up at the foot of the vast and magnificent staircase, I observed hosts of old aristocratic courtiers, in their court dresses, thronging the marble steps, like the angels on Jacob's ladder-excepting that they were all ascending, none descending. I followed them up to this higher heaven of royalty. I paused for a moment at the great portal opening into the royal apartments. The marble casings still bear marks of the shattering musket-balls, and the

[merged small][ocr errors]

folding-doors are still riddled like a sieve-mementoes of that fearful night when this sacred abode of royalty and innocence was made the scene of desperate violence. Now all was changed; the doors, thrown open, gave access to an immense and lofty antisala, where we passed through lines of halberdiers and court servants, all in new and bright array. All the anterooms were swarming with courtiers, military and civic officers and clergy, in their different costumes. The magnificent hall of the ambassadors, which, at our last audience of the little Queen, was almost empty and silent, was now absolutely crowded. I have already mentioned this hall to you. It is of great size, very lofty, the ceilings painted with representations of the various climes and realms of Spain in her palmy days, when the sun never set on her dominions. The walls are hung with crimson velvet, relieved with rich gilding. The chandeliers are of crystal. All the furniture is sumptuous. On one side of the saloon, just opposite the centre windows, is the throne, on a raised dais, and under a superb canopy of velvet. In this saloon, as I observed, were congregated an immense throng: old and new courtiers, many of the ancient nobility, who had kept out of sight during the domination of Espartero, but who now crept forth to hail the dawn of what they consider better days. Here, too, were many of the generals and officers who had figured in the recent insurrection, or who had hastened back from exile to come in for a share of power. Here was Narvaez, who lately held Madrid in siege; here was Espiroz, his confederate in arms; here was O'Donnell, the hero of the insurrection of 1840, connected with the night attack on the palace. In short, it was a complete resurrection and reunion of courtiers and military partisans, suddenly brought together by a political coup de theatre. For a while all was buzz and hum, like a bee-hive in swarming time, when suddenly a voice from the lower end of the saloon proclaimed, La Reina! la Reina! (the Queen! the Queen !) In an instant all was hushed. A lane was opened through the crowd, and the little Queen advanced, led by the venerable General Castaños, Duke de Bailen, who had succeeded Arguelles as tutor and guardian. Her train was borne by the Marchioness of Valverde, a splendid-looking woman, one of the highest nobility; next followed her little sister, her

train borne by the Duchess of Medina Celi, likewise one of the grandees; several other ladies of the highest rank were in attendance. The Queen was handed up to the throne by the Duke of Bailen, who took his stand beside her; the Duchess of Valverde arranged the royal train over the back of the chair of state which forms the throne, so that it spread behind the little Queen something like the tail of a peacock. The little Princess took her seat in a chair of state on the floor, a little to the left of the throne; the Duchess of Medina Celi behind her, and the other noble ladies-in-waiting ranged along to her left, all glittering in jewels and diamonds. A little further off, likewise in a chair of state, was Don Francisco, the Queen's uncle, and beside him stood his son, the Duke of Cadiz, who is one of the candidates for the hand of her little Majesty. I had now a good opportunity of seeing this youth. He was in a bussar's uniform, and a much better-looking stripling than I had been led to suppose him. As I know I am now on a diplomatic theme that will be peculiarly interesting to you-good republican as you are--I wish I could detail to you, learnedly, the dresses of the little Queen and her sister, which, as usual, were alike. I know the body and skirt were of beautiful brocade, richly fringed with gold; there was abundance of superb lace; the trains were of deep-green velvet; the Queen wore a kind of light crown of diamonds, in which alone she differed from the princess. They both had diamond pendants and necklaces, and diamond ornaments in their side locks.

The little Queen looked well. She is quite plump, and has grown much. She acquitted herself with wonderful self-possession, considering that she was thus elevated individually in the midst of such an immense and gorgeous assemblage, and the object of every eye. Her manner was dignified and graceful. Her little sister, however, is far her superior, both in looks and carriage. She has beautiful eyes, an intelligent countenance, a sweet smile, and promises to be absolutely fascinating. Her looks and her winning manners she is said to inherit from her mother. She seemed to be in fine spirits; indeed, both of the sisters appeared to enjoy the It was the first time that the little Queen had been surrounded by the aristocratical splendors of a court.


[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »