My Recollections by Adeline Horsey Countess Cardigan 1824 1915 Chapter VI: The Count Montemolin is in My Recollections by Adeline Horsey Countess Cardigan 1824 1915.
It is said that few people achieve greatness, but that some have it thrust upon them. I can class myself with the latter, for I could have married a Prince of the Royal Family of Spain, the Count de Montemolin (26), who was at one time regarded as the rightful King of Spain.
Carlos Luis Fernando de Bourbon, Count de Montemolin (26), born 1818, was the eldest son of the first Don Carlos (45), the legitimist claimant to the Spanish throne on the death of his brother, Fernando VII, in 1833. After the ending of the first Carlist war in the defeat of the legitimists and the establishment of Isabella (14) on the throne, the old Don Carlos (56) retired into private life and abdicated his claims in 1845 to his eldest son Montemolin (26), who thus became the second Don Carlos. He was a young man of some ability but weak and unstable. There was a strong party in Spain desirous to bring about a reconciliation of the two branches of the Royal Family by a marriage between the young Queen Isabella (14) and her first cousin, Montemolin (26), but political passion and personal animosity stood in the way, and all Europe took part in the intrigue known as the Spanish Marriages. This ended of course in the disastrous marriage of Isabella (14) with her cousin Francisco, and that of her sister Fernanda (12) with the Due de Montpensier (20), the son of Louis Philippe (71), a defeat for English diplomacy which nearly caused a war with France. The Carlists had never been favourable to the idea of a marriage of Montemolin (26) and Isabella (14), whom they regarded as a usurper, and they looked out a legitimist Royal Princess for him. His younger brother, Don Juan (22), married Princess Beatrix of Modena, and their son was the late Don Carlos. Queen Isabella married in 1846, and dissensions very soon broke out between her and her wretched husband, who really, like most of the Royal Family, was a Carlist at heart. Montemolin had issued a manifesto at Bourges in France in 1845, when he saw that he could not marry Isabella (14) on his own terms, and his father had abdicated in the same year, and he soon after came to London, mustered his party, and began to organise a fresh Carlist rising in Spain. English diplomacy had suffered a great defeat and he found plenty of people here to help him ; he was made much of in Society and became a lion for a time, being treated with full royal honours.
I made the acquaintance of the Count Montemolin (29) in 1848, when he was staying with the Due (33) and Duchesse de Nemours (25) at Orleans House, Twickenham. He was a very distinguished-looking man, but his good looks were marred by the hereditary defect of the Bourbon Eye, peculiar to the family.
The Count (29) was a beautiful dancer, and we danced together a great deal at the numerous balls where we met, and after Montemolin had made my father's acquaintance he used often to visit us at Upper Grosvenor Street.
We had many tastes in common ; the Count (29) was passionately fond of music, so we sang together in French and Spanish, and thus gradually friendship became love, at least on his part. I, myself, was dazzled by the romance of the affair, and by the rank of my would-be suitor, for I do not think any girl in my position could have been quite unmoved if a Prince of the Blood selected her for his wife instead of one of the Royalties he could have chosen.
The Count (31) proposed to me in February '49, but I quite appreciated the difficulties that beset such a marriage, and, after the Count's declaration, I hesitated to definitely consent to become his wife. He apparently was greatly distressed, and sent me the following letter :
Mademoiselle, — I am taking the liberty of writing to you to open my heart, but under the greatest secrecy, as without that I shall be completely lost. I was the most unhappy man in the world after what you said to me at the last ball. How could you believe me capable of deceiving you ! I should never have any peace of mind were I to do so. I did not dare to speak to you again, and nevertheless I sought by every means to meet you, because I could not live without at least seeing you, and also because I hoped for the chance of speaking to you and proving to you that I am a man of honour, and not such a one as people would have you believe. But your kind and gracious manner on Thursday last has dispelled all my fears.
Now, I am going to tell you what you must have felt for a long time ; it is that I love you. You alone can make my happiness ; any other marriage is impossible for me.
I hope you will grant me the happiness of marrying you one day, because I dare think you too love me. But above all things I desire your happiness, and if I thought you would ever become unhappy with me, I would rather suffer alone, although the greatest and most terrible sacrifice I could make would be to renounce your love. I should, however, wish before you decide definitely that you would grant me a secret interview in the presence of your father, in order that I can say certain things to you. I trust that you will grant me this interview, as it will decide my future happiness.
I beg you again to maintain the greatest reserve in the matter. It must be a secret from everybody, even from my own family, Nobody except your father must know anything about it ; for if they did, believe me, I should be completely lost.
I will call at your house at three o'clock in the afternoon, and if you cannot be alone then with your father, you can send me word by him to the following address when it will be convenient to you.
M. LE COMTE DE MoNTEMOLIN,.
Travellers Club, Pall Mall.
I shall be there until two o'clock exactly. I am, with the deepest respect and attachment,.
Le Comte de Montemolin.
My father and I therefore saw the Count, who successfully overcame our doubts about the wisdom of his marriage to an Englishwoman in view of the political situation in Spain. Montemolin was so much in love that he easily waived every obstacle my father placed in the way, and at last it was settled that we were to be formally engaged, subject to certain conditions which my father insisted on the Count complying with.
The following announcement which appeared in the Morning Post caused, needless to say, something of a stir in Society. Some people thought I was a very fortunate girl to secure so great a parti, and others — who were jealous — prophesied disaster "through vaulting ambition which o'erleaps itself".
We are enabled to state that a marriage of more than common interest even from a political point of riew has been agreed upon between a fair countrywoman of our own and one of the Royal personages who have had occasion to seek refuge in Great Britain. The Count de Montemolin (29) has offered his hand to Miss de Horsey (23), the accomplished daughter of Spencer de Horsey (58), Esq, and the marriage will shortly be solemnised in this country. It is understood that a negotiation has been opened by the Prince with the government of the Queen of Spain (17), which has consented to make an adequate provision for his Royal Highness and his bride, in consideration of the renunciation of the claims to the throne, of the male line of which the Count de Montemolin is the representative.
I was introduced to all my future husband's relations who were in England, and I was very charmed with the Archduchess Beatrix, and the Princess Beatrix of Modena, who had married the Count's younger brother, Don Juan (25). They lived in Bayswater at the time, and I remember going with my father to see her, and greatly admiring her lovely black-eyed baby boy, who in after-life was to be known as Don Carlos.
The Count's letter inviting me to visit his sister-in-law is interesting, as it shows how completely our engagement was sanctioned by his family.
Beloved of my soul, — I told Beatrice yesterday that you will go to-morrow at half-past two to see her. She told me that she would have much pleasure, but that probably the Duchess of Parma would be there, but that there would be no obstacle if you have no objection. In any case, answer me, because if by chance you do not wish to go to-morrow I should like to know it, so that in that case to have the pleasure of going to see you at your house, for I cannot endure to be so lone a time deprived of the pleasant sight of you, for this is my only consolation. Good-bye, beloved of my life and of my soul. Do not doubt for a single instant my constant love.
Carlos Luis Maria de Borbon.
The fresh Carlist war (managed from London) raged in the east of Spain under the famous Cabrera, and was continued through 1848, Montemolin remaining in London, much to the discontent of his party in Spain. In February 1849, Cabrera was indignantly demanding more men and resources to carry on the war, and, above all, the presence of the Prince (29) himself in the field. Montemolin (29), therefore was obhged to return to Spain, but he could not bring himself to remain there, and so he obtained a pass from Louis Napoleon which enabled him to come back to London.
He lost no time in at once seeing me, but I was shocked at his leaving Spain for my sake, as I had all a romantic girl's idea and love of one's country, and I was not even flattered that my beaux yeux had dulled the Count's sense of honour and rendered him a traitor to his cause. I did not hesitate to tell him so, and poor weak Montemolin (29) could not understand why I was so mortified. I also naturally concluded that after so lightly renouncing his obligations to those who trusted him and who gave up their lives and fortunes for him I, too, might one day be as easily forgotten, and the prospect did not please me.
In April 1849, the great Cabrera threw up the task in disgust, escaped to France and afterwards to England, where he married a rich English wife who still lives, and he determined to fight for Carlism no more.
After this mv misofivings were auorumented by the annoyance I was subjected to by innumerable Carlist spies, who seemed to regard me as the Delilah who had ruined Carlism. My footsteps were dogged by them everywhere ; if I walked or rode, I encountered desperate looking Spaniards either in Grosvenor Street or hanging about the Row ; if I went to the Opera, I saw dark faces glowering at me, and when I returned home from balls or parties I was sure to see a Spaniard waiting near our house.
My life became unendurable, and I told papa to inform the Count that I wished to break off my engagement. Papa therefore wrote him the following letter :
8 Upper Grosvenor Street,.
June 02, 1849.
Sir, — When you did me the honour of proposing marriage to my daughter, you will recollect I said that before it could be entertained it was absolutely necessary, in case my daughter should consider the proposal favourably, that three points should be fully and clearly ascertained.
First, that the marriage should be in every respect valid and legal by the laws of Spain.
Secondly, that it could only take place with the full and entire consent and approbation of your own family.
And thirdly, that there were the means of making suitable provision for my daughter and for any children she might have.
Upon the first of these points there is no doubt whatever that by the laws of Spain the marriage would not be considered as valid.
This being the case, there is hardly any occasion to enter on the other two.
With every feeling therefore of respect, sir, and every assurance how much I feel the honour done me, I have but one course to take, which is most respectfully and decidedly upon my daughter's part, and by her desire, to decline the proposal you have made.
With every wish for your future prosperity, I have the honour to be, sir,.
Your faithful and obedient servant,.
(Sgd.) Spencer de Horsey (58).
The Count had no choice but to accept my decision, and one day Lord Stradbroke, Lord Combermere, and Don Francisco Merry came to interview me about my broken engagement. They brought with them a document, in which I definitely resigned all idea of marrying the Count de Montemolin (29), which they asked me to sign in their presence. I did so, and at the same time I gave them all my Royal admirer's love-letters, except those now published for the first time to prove the truth of what might otherwise be deemed a romantic fabrication.
So ended what I may term a very interesting episode. After I had signed the important document which is now deposited in the Royal Archives of Spain, the Count Montemolin (29) passed completely out of my life ; he married a Royal Princess in the early 'fifties, and in 1854 the miserable King Consort of Isabella, Francisco, entered into negotiations with Montemolin (29) for a reconciliation, in order that the united family might overthrow the Liberal Ministry that then ruled Spain. This extraordinary intrigue of Isabella (17) and her husband to overthrow their own fjovernment was based upon their abdication, the recognition of Montemolin (29) as King, and the marriage of the son of the latter (if he had one) to the only child of the Queen, the Infanta Isabella, who still lives. The intrigue was delayed by the clever management of the old Queen Christina, Isabella's mother, and the rise of the Conservative party to power in 1856 made Isabella (17) and her husband ess anxious for it ; but still a close understanding was kept up, and Montemolin (29) was for a time as powerful in Spain as the Queen herself. The strange conduct and bad morals of Isabella greatly strengthened Montemolin's party, and he soon began to think that he could get the throne on his own account without any understanding with the Queen and her husband. After long plotting with his adherents, and gaining the support of several generals in command of troops, Montemolin (29) determined to strike his blow in 1859. (Isabella (17) had a son now which quite altered the position.) In April 1859, Montemolin (29) and his brother Fernando, with some adherents, landed near Valencia, supported by an army of 3600 men under the Governor of Majorca, General Ortega. The affair missed fire, the troops had no love for Carlism and refused to follow. Ortega fled, was captured and shot, whilst Montemolin (29) and his brother, after hiding for some days, were driven by hunger to surrender. Their lives were spared, but they were to swear to renounce for ever their claims to the throne. As soon as this was known, the other brother, Don Juan (25), who lived in London, issued a manifesto asserting his rights, and to some extent accepting Liberalism. Montemolin (29), as soon as he arrived at Trieste, where he lived, withdrew his renunciation and repudiated his brother's claims. This caused a split in the party that only ended with the death of Montemolin (29) and his brother in the following year.
I remember Lord Cardigan telling me that their deaths were attributed to poison, but as fever was given out as being the cause, the real solution of the mystery will never be known.