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ART. IV.-1. Négociations relatives à la Succession d'Espagne
sous Louis XIV.; ou Correspondances, Mémoires, et Actes Diplomatiques, concernant les Pretentions et l'Avenement de la Maison de Bourbon au Trône d'Espagne, accompagnés d'un Texte Historique et précédés ďune Introduction. Par M. MIGNET.
Tomes I.-IV. 1835-42. 2. Letters of William III. and Louis XIV., and of their Mi
nisters. Extracted from the Archives of France and England, and from Family Papers. Edited by P. GRIMBLOT.
2 vols. 1848. WE
E trust that among the consequences of the Revolution of
1848, we shall not have to include the abandonment of the great historical undertaking of M. Mignet, which we have named at the head of this article. It forms one of the series known as the · Archives de France;' the publication of which was set on foot by M. Guizot when he held the Ministry of Public Instruction. Its conception was, doubtless, recommended to the Royalty of July, as an engine for familiarising to the public mind that revival of Family policy in Spain, which the late dynasty contemplated so long ago, which was so perseveringly followed up, and which, at the opening of the last year, seemed nearer than ever to a prosperous consummation. But the purely historical interest of the Spanish Succession in the last century, does not require the adventitious support of cotemporary politics. The age of Louis XIV., after every allow- . ance for its corrupting accessories, is one of which European civilisation is fairly proud; and among its best literary memorials we may place this elaborate exposition of its diplomacy. M. Mignet had proposed to give a full history of the negotiations that either directly or indirectly bore on the claims of Louis XIV. to the throne of Spain. At present he has not advanced beyond the Peace of Nimeguen, in 1679.
M. Grimblot, again, has given us selections from the correspondence between the French and English Governments during the attempted arrangement of this question by the Partition Treaties of 1698 and 1700. The literary value of this work, also, is very great. Though its contents may not substantially vary the judgments which an attentive reader might have formed from the materials already published in the Hardwicke and other collections, yet it abounds in new and interesting particulars. While it has the immense advantage of presenting for the first time, in an accessible and popular form, a mass of documents which will enable every one to appreciate the national importance of the interests involved in that great question, the gallantry with which William III. confronted the vast resources and the disciplined intelligence at the command of Louis XIV., and also (we grieve to add) the indifference and ingratitude with which the English people requited their Great Deliverer.
We should not forget to remind our readers that M. Grimblot is a foreigner, publishing in what is to him a foreign language. But he has introduced the collection by a preface, written in a style singularly correct and easy. It retains something of that picturesque antithesis and aptitude for generalisation which form so attractive a peculiarity in contemporary French literature; but its idiomatic accuracy would not discredit any English writer, nor need we expect to find in any a juster appreciation of the most important points in English history.
The greater part of the materials now first published by him, are drawn from three different sources. We have, first, the correspondence between Louis XIV. and Marshal Boufflers, which preceded the Peace of Ryswick, and in which it was long supposed that the first idea of the Partition Treaty had been broached. The Bentinck family have placed in M. Grimblot's hands the confidential correspondence that passed between William III. and their ancestor, the Earl of Portland ; and no one can peruse these letters without heartily sharing the editor's regret that such a thorough justification of an eminent public servant should have been suffered to remain so long unknown. We have, finally, the letters, (originally translated from the Dutch by Sir James Mackintosh, which passed between William III. and the Pensionary Heinsius.
Before we proceed to a separate examination of the period to which these documents refer, we must quote the following admirable estimate of Louis XIV's diplomatic compositions, with the addition of M. Grimblot's feeling and dignified allusion to the very different fate, which in our own day has waited on an attempt to imitate his policy.
* They (William III.'s correspondence) lose throughout by the side of the grand, brilliant, and glowing style of the despatches of Louis XIV. It is the imposing grandeur of Versailles in contrast with the meaner edifices of Kensington or Loo. In reading these lengthened despatches with their flowing periods, elaborate expositions, and inexhaustible meaning, we are involuntarily reminded of Bossuet. It must not be thought that these State Papers were the composition of a secretary. Written by Torcy from notes taken in council, and carefully corrected by Louis XIV. as they were read to him, they bear the mark of his singular genius for grandeur and éclat. To be convinced that to him alone is the merit of their pro
duction to be attributed, it will be sufficient to compare them with the despatches written by Torcy in his own name, or even with his Memoirs ; although it must be admitted that all secretaries would not have succeeded so well in conveying the thoughts of their masters. But it was in some degree the language of the period. The despatches of Tallard, Harcourt, and Villars are hardly inferior in style to those of Louis XIV., yet they were all military men, but scantily educated. May we not say, with M. Cousin, “ Tout est grand dans un grand siécle ?”
* But if we pass from the style to the kernel of the thought, the superiority ceases to be on the side of Louis XIV. In all their ruggedness the letters of William III. have a stamp of honesty which we might seek in vain in the grander despatches of his rival. It is the same with the proceedings of both. Frenchman though I be, I look upon William III. as one of the greatest characters in history ; and I willingly say with Mr. Hallam, that a high regard for the memory of William III. may justly be “ reckoned one of the tests by which genuine Whiggism, as opposed “ both to Tory and Republican principles, has always been recog“ nised.” Was it not he, in fact, that accomplished the Revolution of 1688 ? And this Revolution, what was it but the triumph of those principles, which, in the language of our day, are styled Liberal, over those of absolute monarchy – the great cause, whose brilliancy is at times eclipsed, but cannot be extinguished — which under different names, is debated in every land - which, if it must be said, has been triumphed over but yesterday in France, and on which I had fixed all my hopes and thoughts for the welfare of my country. Time was when we were wont to say, that since France had had the misfortune to have her Stuarts, Providence had provided for her a William of Orange, in a prince whose calamities I deplore too deeply to feel at liberty to condemn him. I only regret that he had too much before his eyes the memory of his ancestor — rather than that of the great man whose career presents to the gaze of posterity a far different grandeur from the miserable satisfaction of placing a duke of Anjou on the throne of Spain.' (Grimblot, 1. xi.)
We are surprised that no English writer should have thought of analysing, in its full development, the controversy that was interrupted, rather than closed, by the Peace of Utrecht. Of course no Englishman would have had the same command as M. Mignet of the French State Paper Office; but the materials that already existed in the published correspondence and authentic memoirs of such statesmen as D’Estrades, Torcy, Temple, Villars, might have been compressed and generalised into what the Germans call a monographie on this subject ; and might thus
t have given form and method to the fragments of negotiations which are scattered up and down the pages of Hume and Lingard; and might have ended with that systematic examination of the
Treaties of 1713, in which Lord Mahon's work on the Spanish Succession is so provokingly deficient. For the question has as essentially an English as a French or European interest. Through the whole period that elapsed from the Restoration to the accession of the House of Hanover while the fortunes of England were still trembling between absolutism and constitutional government--our foreign relations, and especially those which regarded the Spanish Succession, constituted our point of contact with Catholic and Monarchical France on the one hand, and on the other with the invigorating sympathies of a free and Protestant Commonwealth in Holland. They associated us to the old traditional policy ----a policy to which even Charles I. was true — which absolutely prohibited the establishment of a French viceroy at Antwerp or Ostend ; which revived for a moment, when Sir William Temple achieved, in the Triple Alliance of 1668, the one creditable act of Stuart diplomacy ; and which was illustrated by the genius and heroism called forth in the great war of 1702. All the later princes and statesmen whom English history has emphatically and deliberately convicted of treason to the fundamental principles of our free monarchy - Charles II., the Cabal
. ministry, James II., Queen Anne, Bolingbroke, —all were false to us especially in the matter of France and Spain. All the names which should be graven on English hearts, and for ever frequent in our mouths,' the republican opposition to Charles II., the Whig leaders of the Revolution, William III., Marlborough, and Somers, are now chiefly remembered in connexion with their brave struggle to prevent a disturbance of the European balance, and to arrest the territorial extension and diplomatic preponderance of France. With Louis XIV., again, the Spanish Succession was the great business of his reign. It coincides almost exactly with the limits of his European supremacy. The Peace of the Pyrenees was the first public act in which he personally intervened: and the last great event of his life was the Treaty of Utrecht, by which the Maritime Powers recognised his grandson as King of Spain. We propose taking advantage of the two works before us to sketch some of the main negotiations which, from 1660 — the year of the English Restoration, and of Louis XIV.'s marriage with Maria Theresa of Spain -- attended the development of this question till its settlement at Utrecht in 1713; one year before the accession of the House of Hanover, and about two years and a half before the death of Louis XIV.
It may be as well to state clearly the nature of his claims to Spain. Louis XIV. was, by the Spanish law of succession, in
right of his wife, the direct heir to Charles II. M. Mignet has shown, with, we think, needless pains, that the Salic law never existed in Spain. We are not aware, indeed, that any such ground of exclusion was ever pleaded against the Bourbon line: nor was it probable that such would be the case: For the competing houses of Austria, Bavaria, and Savoy, all, equally with France, derived their claim through females -- the two former from a younger sister of Maria Theresa, the French Queen ; the latter from Catherine, the great aunt of that princess. But Maria Theresa's claim was barred by a Renunciation, executed on her marriage in 1660, of all her rights to the succession ; and the whole question turns on the validity of this act.
In the original draft of the treaty, Maria Theresa absolutely and unconditionally renounced all her right to any part of the Spanish inheritance. In the treaty, as actually signed, Cardinal Mazarin contrived that she should renounce it moyennant' (in consideration of the dowry which Don Louis de Haro had stipulated should be paid by the Spanish Government. It was agreed, by France, that Maria Theresa should renew her renunciation immediately after her marriage. That renunciation, however, originally made on the 2d of June, 1660, was never renewed. On the other hand, it had been stipulated that the dowry should be paid in three instalments — the first immediately after the celebration of the marriage. But not one of these instalments was ever paid. Louis was careful to insist on this failure on the part of Spain ; and to contrast it with his own exact observance of similar pecuniary engagements. Each party ultimately tried to throw on the other the odium of being the first to break the treaty; but, on a strict interpretation, Louis seems to have had the best of this dispute. Subsequently to the Peace of the Pyrenees, he certainly procured the ratification of the renunciation in several of the French Parliaments : while it does not appear that Spain took a single step to perform her part; content to rely on the general accidents of the public temper, and, in the nervous language of Bolingbroke, to sue for empire, in formâ pauperis, at the gates of every • court in Europe. The real answer to Louis's claims, however, was that other Powers beside Spain, were interested that her provinces should not become the appanage of a French prince; and that all the great states of Europe had openly accepted the renunciation as a bona fide guarantee. Louis, indeed, is proved to have felt this, by the very pains he took, first, to familiarise the English and Dutch statesmen with the idea that the renunciation was originally invalid; and next, to forbid Colbert de