« PreviousContinue »
Sir Charles Stuart to Lord Castlereagh.
Paris, July 21, 1817. My dear Lord-An extraordinary circumstance occurred when the Infant of Spain, Don Francisco, visited the Court of the Tuileries last week. His Royal Highness, accompanied by the Spanish Ambassador, was introduced into the King's cabinet in the usual form, and, after some general conversation, took a letter out of his pocket, which he delivered to his Majesty, who expressed the intention to take into consideration the subject of its contents. On the way home, Count Fernan Nuñez observed to the Infant that it was not customary to present letters to any Sovereign in the presence of the Ambassador accredited to his person, without previously showing the communication to that functionary.
Under the conviction that the omission of this formality could only be attributed to inadvertence, Count Fernan Nuñez expressed a hope that his Royal Highness would give him a proof that he had not been the channel of any communication from Charles IV., by stating the subject of the letter which had been delivered to the King. The Infant, with many apologies, answered M. de Fernan Nuñez that, in compliance with the request of a canon of the cathedral of Lyons, to whom he was indebted for civilities during his residence in that city, he had presented a petition to his Most Christian Majesty, demanding a benefice in the Church.
A subsequent reference to the gentlemen in the Infant's household did not confirm this statement, but proved, beyond the possibility of doubt, that the letter contained a recommendation in behalf of two officers attached to the suite of his Royal Highness, who desire to obtain the decoration of the Legion of Honour. Some coolness has taken place between the Infant and the Spanish Ambassador since this discovery, and I understand the latter has declined to accompany his Royal Highness in his visits to the royal family. I do not, however, understand that the day of the Infant's departure for Vienna has yet been fixed.
Believe me, &c., CHARLES STUART.
Lord Clancarty to Lord Castlereagh.
Bruxelles, July 25, 1817. My dear Lord, I send you herewith enclosed copies of the Duke of Wellington's letter to me of the 18th, and of my answer to it of the 20th instant. I also send you a copy of my most secret and confidential letter to his Grace, of yesterday's date, upon the subject of a most wretched job, which the demon of bad taste, in the shape, as I should suspect, of M. de Falck, has induced his Majesty to undertake. I shall only add to what you will there find, that I have taken no part in pressing the exception of M. de Lobau on the King, because M. de Nagell thought it better that, charged with it by the Duke, he alone should endeavour to carry the matter through
Mehée de la Touche was taken here, several days ago : he has, however, had the good fortune to escape, through the ingenuity of a woman, whom he gave out to be his daughter, but who is in fact his mistress. This lady is in custody, and Mehée's papers in the hands of the police. This Mehée is one of those proscribed in the King of France's list of July, 1815. His object in coming here was to replace Le Maire and Guyet, the editors of the Vrai Liberal, lately banished from this kingdom: and accordingly, the date of his arrival and the date of his arrest can, without other assistance, be determined by the multitude and acrimony of the libels which filled the columns of that periodical during the intermediate space. The Minister of Police is still sanguine in his hopes of re-seizing this fellow.
Another of those marked on the list of July, 1815, and a most diabolical miscreant, Felix Le Pelletier, was arrested here on the 22nd. He has not been quite so fortunate as Mehée; but, notwithstanding some canting whinings on humanity by M. de Falck, has been sent off under good escort to Aix-la-Chapelle, to be delivered over to Prussian authority. In the arrest of these persons, and in ordering inquiry, with a view to the exemplary punishment of those through whose carelessness Mehée was suffered to escape, the King has acted as he ought. Is it not strange, then, that, while thus acting with regard to one part of the proscribed French, he should at the same time endeavour to push inadmissible exceptions in favour of others? Nay, is it not more than strange that, while apparently endeavouring to render himself popular with the soi-disant liberal party, of which the French refugees are composed, by seeking favour for such men as Hullin, (the murderer of the Duc d'Enghien) La Marque, Du Fermont, and Merlin, he should, from himself, act in the manner I am going to state? The matter has been most secretly and confidentially confided to me by a person who was present, and I have no doubt of its truth. It seems that the refugees here have thought proper to engage a set of actors at Paris, to whom they have engaged to pay a certain sum ; and subscriptions have been opened and filled among them for this purpose. The little theatre opposite to my house in the Park has been opened within these few days, and pieces are there acted calculated to keep the public mind afloat, which seems to be the principal object of the establishment. Allusions are made to revolutionary times, the gloire des Français, the hope of the party, which sufficiently prove the views of the undertakers. The surplus receipts beyond the sum engaged to the actors are not, as I understand, to be given to the prisoners, but will probably form a fund for further treasons. These plays are not to be confined to Bruxelles, but, having accomplished their object here, the company is then to become a strolling one, and to go through the principal towns of the southern provinces, with the same view and for
the same purpose. Having thus premised, now to the fact communicated. At the Council the day before yesterday, (the 23rd) the King, having gone round the table, demanding of each whether he had anything to propose, and all being silent, stated that he had two propositions to make ; and having opened pretty nearly to the effect above detailed, the object of opening the theatre, and the views of the subscribers, alleged that he would not permit such a perversion of the public mind. He therefore suggested the propriety of immediately inquiring into the patent rights of the theatre in question, with a view to stop the representations projected—a suggestion which was adopted by all, and orders given for the investigation and early report thereon. The King then took up the affair of the Caisses de Sustentation, communicating that information had reached him that these, particularly that at Antwerp, amounted to considerable sums, and were employed for improper purposes; that, therefore, it would be well to direct the Ministers of the Interior and of Police thoroughly to investigate the subject forthwith, and to report the result of their information as early as possible to the Council. In addition to the question on the Duchy of Bouillon, stated in my despatch of the 18th, it appears that the parties cannot agree either on the quantum or the mode of payment of the indemnity, so that this subject will probably be referred to the decision of the Allies. The principal point of difficulty seems to be as to the mode of payment; the King contending that this should arise as a rent out of the Duchy, so that hereafter, if he should be deprived of the Duchy, the onus of indemnity should follow the premises, and not remain a weight upon his shoulders. This appears to me to be fair. The Prince Charles de Rohan, however, contends that he has a right to be indemnified from the general resources of the Netherlands, to which the King answers that his States-General will never consent to
this, and that he does not conceive that it would be either just or equitable to make the demand. I have kept myself quite clear from entering into this subject, and only hear of these differences from Baron Binder and Prince Hatzfeld; both of whom, but principally the first, act much more with the zeal of advocates than as Ministers in favour of Prince Charles. The King sets out on Sunday for Zealand; thence he proceeds to the Hague, and to Haarlem on the 7th, for the Princess Dowager's birthday. He will return here on the 9th of August, before which date I should hope you will be enabled to return me the Memoire upon the Press, with your corrections and additions. Adieu-yours most affectionately, CLANCARTY.
My dear Clancarty—I have perused your Memoire on the Netherlands press, and I have but little to observe upon it. It is most important to obtain some better definition of what is calumny and libel than is given in the Code Penale. I recollect an instance in Paris of a fellow having in a letter accused a British officer of unnatural practices. The officer had marched from Paris, and I made him return, that I might have the charge inquired into, and, upon the inquiry, it was made clear that not only there was no foundation whatever for the charge, but that the man who accused the officer to me, his commanding officer, knew that the charge was false when he made it. I wanted to prosecute him for calumny, but it appeared that, according to the law, what he had done was not calumny, and there the matter dropped.
I have not got by me the Code Penale, but it is necessary that you should examine it very closely, and take care to have a good definition of what calumny is. I concur entirely with you that the amendment of the law ought not to be directed