to Mr. Evarts.
Madrid , December 13, 1877. (Received January 15, 1878.)
Sir: Yesterday the diplomatic body received official communication of the intended marriage of the King with his cousin, the Princess Mercedes, daughter of the Duke of Montpensier. Thus the famous Spanish marriages of thirty years ago, which helped to dethrone Louis Philippe, have borne fruit at last, and one of his grandchildren will share, though she cannot occupy, the throne of Spain. The result is not precisely what was intended, but comes nearer to being so than mortal plans or prophecies commonly do.
The King is very intelligent and performs all his ceremonial functions with grace. The Princess is good-looking, of suitable age, and has been well and sensibly brought up. The match is said by those best entitled to know, to be one of affection on both sides, and so seldom does love contrive to win his way into a palace under any disguise that I am quite ready to believe that he has managed it at last. Malice, no doubt, would continue to find ground in this case also for some suspicion of dynastic arrangement, based on the hope of an Orleanist restoration in France by the management of the Duke of Broglie. It is so hard, however, to make out the truth of history, even after it has been written with seeming clearness in events, that it is hardly worth while attempting to divine [Page 774] the precise bearing and significance of such parts of it as do not contrive to get written at all. If any such hope conduced to the present matrimonial arrangement, it has been apparently baffled by the admirable self-restraint of the French people. It would certainly have been a very natural and even praiseworthy hope, if ever entertained, from a Spanish point of view, but that it had any influence at all in the affair is nothing more than a surmise that has sometimes suggested itself to my mind during the last few months. At any rate, it is a truce, not a peace, that has been arrived at in France, and that as the result rather of a drawn battle than of a victory.
The royal wedding is to take place on the 23d of next month with as much as possible of traditional Spanish ceremony and modes of public rejoicing. Meanwhile, as a natural preliminary, the price of everything has doubled in Madrid, and the city is reckoning, in what is generally called by Europeans a very American spirit, on the profit to be made out of the strangers who will be tempted into its net.
Before this reaches you, you will doubtless have received an official communication through the Spanish minister at Washington.
I have, &c.,