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IN forming an Administration in the summer of 1846, Lord John did not encounter the difficulty, which frustrated his efforts in the previous December, arising from the hostility to Lord Palmerston both at home and abroad. Lord Palmerston, however, had hardly resumed his seat in his old office when the storm was renewed in its former fury. A long negotiation had taken place during the preceding years between the Courts and Governments of France and England in reference to the marriage of the young Queen of Spain and her sister the Infanta. It was virtually arranged that a husband for the Queen should be selected from among the descendants of Philip V., and that, when the Queen was married and had issue, her sister's hand should be given to a younger son of Louis Philippe, the Duc de Montpensier. This arrangement did not satisfy the ambition of the Queen's mother ; she was on bad terms with the sons of Don Francis, the only available descendants of Philip V., and she decided on boldly offering her daughter's hand to Leopold of Saxe Coburg, who, as brother of the King of Portugal, nephew to the King of Belgium, and cousin to Prince Albert, was allied with reigning families of influence. Mr. Bulwer, the British Minister at the Court of Madrid, incurred Lord Aberdeen's censure by conniving at and approving this offer. Disavowed by England and opposed by France, the proposal came to nothing; VOL. II. B
and, when the change of Government took place in England in June 1846, the negotiation for the disposal of the hand of the Queen of Spain was not concluded. On July 19, a few days after his return to the Foreign Office, Lord Palmerston wrote a despatch to Mr. Bulwer enumerating the available candidates for the Queen of Spain's hand—among whom he included Prince Leopold—and adding that her Majesty's Government only wished the choice to fall on the one most likely to secure the happiness of the Queen and the welfare of the Spanish people. He went on to denounce arbitrary government in Spain, and to intimate a hope that no time would be lost in returning to the ways of the constitution and to obedience to the law. It has perhaps never been noticed that this famous despatch was dated on a Sunday. Lord John received it just as he was going to church. I read it over in a hurry ; it did not strike me at the moment that there was anything objectionable in it, and I sent it back. If I had not gone to church, and paid more attention to it, it would not have gone." On the following morning Lord Palmerston handed a copy of the despatch to M. Jarnac, the French chargé d'affaires in London, who at once transmitted it to Paris. Louis Philippe, angry beyond control at finding the Prince of Coburg's name among the recognised candidates for the Queen's hand, considered, with some reason, that the English were departing from their engagement, and that he was consequently liberated from his own. Instead, therefore, of postponing the Montpensier marriage till the Queen of Spain had children, he decided to press forward the marriages of Queen and Infanta simultaneously. And it so happened that Lord Palmerston's despatch, while rousing his anger, furnished him with the means of procuring his revenge. For, while the first part of it was unpalatable to France, the second part was likely to be equally intolerable to Spain. Knowing this, Louis Philippe forwarded a copy of the document to the Queen-mother, and urged her to save herself from British interference by leaning on France. The event showed that he rightly understood Queen Christina's character. A return to the ways of the constitution seemed to her to indicate the threat of a new revolution. She at once decided to withdraw her objection to her elder daughter's marriage with the Duke of Cadiz, and to celebrate the two marriages together and as soon as possible. The usual excuse urged in Lord Palmerston's behalf is that, in naming Prince Leopold as one of the candidates for the Queen's hand, he stated a fact without enunciating a policy. The excuse is impossible to any one who has compared Lord Palmerston's private correspondence with his public despatches; because, while publicly he was only mentioning the Prince as a possible candidate, in private he was expressing his preference for him, and a desire to stop the Montpensier marriage altogether. And Lord John's private papers confirm this view. For on the II th of August, before the effects of the despatch of the 19th of July were known, Lord Palmerston forwarded to Lord John a public despatch and a private letter from Mr. Bulwer, and added—
* This is said by Mr. Greville on Lord John's own authority (.js.emoirs, 2nd series, iii. 298).
The whole of the despatch, with the exception of one single passage, goes strongly to show that Prince Leopold ought to accept the Queen's hand, upon the condition that the Infanta shall not marry afterwards a French Prince ; and it would seem from Bulwer's despatch that such a condition would be agreed to by Christina, Rianzares, and Isturitz, who at present have the whole of such questions under their control.
Thus Mr. Bulwer and Lord Palmerston were playing for the marriage which Louis Philippe disliked, and plotting against the marriage which Louis Philippe desired. Thus, too, Lord John's presence at church on the 19th of July enabled Lord Palmerston to play a trump card, which influenced the whole game.
At the beginning of September the Cabinet learned the full consequences of this fatal policy; and, on the 14th of that month, it authorised Lord Palmerston to express its deep regret and extreme surprise at the alleged decision of the Spanish Government to celebrate simultaneously the two marriages. The Cabinet at which this note was agreed upon