Full text of "The Spanish journal of Elizabeth, lady Holland"

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Full text of "The Spanish journal of Elizabeth, lady Holland"


University of







Edited by the EARL OF ILCHESTER.
With 6 Portraits. 2 vols. 8vo. 21s. net.

LONGMANS, GREEN & CO., 39 Paternoster Row,

London, New York, Bombay, and Calcutta.

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All rights reserved

The present volume of Lady Holland's journal deals

with the accounts of two journeys in Spain, the first in

1802-05, the second in 1808-09. These were omitted

when the two former volumes were published. The

first part tells the story of the travels of the Hollands

and their party at some length, and gives descriptions

of many of the objects of interest which they visited.

I have omitted or shortened the less important details

as much as possible, and have endeavoured to confine

the narrative to those incidents which seem of special

interest or which bear on the character and customs

of the Spaniards. Any mention also of institutions or

buildings which suffered in the wars or have disappeared

since that time, has been retained. The anecdotes and

gossip of the Court may be of interest to the descen-

dants of those concerned, and I have attempted very

shortly to identify the various members of the families to

whom reference is made.
The second portion of the Journal deals almost

exclusively with the incidents of the early part of the

Peninsular War. Lord Holland's name was well known

in Spain, and his sympathy with the cause was apparent

to many outside his own circle of friends. Thus he

was in a position to obtain much information which would

not have been vouchsafed to the ordinary traveller. It



was Lady Holland's daily habit to jot down the reports

which were received from the front and the information

which she collected from Spanish sources. Her narrative

is, therefore, often disjointed, and I have endeavoured,

by means of brief notes, to compare her version with

the various histories of the war now at our disposal.

Especially to Mr. Oman's invaluable work am I indebted

for much of the information which has enabled me to

link together the incidents which she records.
During the stay of the Hollands in Seville they were

in close communication with many members of the

Central Junta. Naturally, their views on the situation

carried much weight, and Lady Holland's remarks are

frequently tinged with a thoroughly Spanish flavour.

This is especially noticeable in her comments on Moore

and his campaign. Frere was at her elbow, despatches

were continually arriving from La Romana — the two

men who had considered themselves slighted by the

British general ; and it was as yet too early for the

inhabitants of the South to realise the debt of gratitude

which in reality they owed to Moore for his strategic

It is curious to note in contemporary records of

the war the complete spirit of self-satisfaction in

which the Spanish leaders were accustomed to pencil

their despatches, whatever was the nature of their

contents. Defeat was often described on paper as

victory, and the truth of a report was sometimes only

to be judged in the light of subsequent events. It

can be no matter of surprise that on the spot it

was difficult to differentiate between fact and fancy.

Even in dealing with letters from British commanders

a remarkable divergence of opinion is manifest. This

is well illustrated by those from Lord Paget and Sir

Robert Wilson, which are included in the Appendix.



Though operating only a few hundred miles apart, their

ideas of the Spanish character and disposition will be

found to be entirely different. The one mistrusted every

action, report, or emissary of the Spaniards ; the other

praised their perseverance and their ardour in the cause

of liberty. The Journal is thus valuable as a sidelight

upon the history of the war, and as evidence of the

contradictory rumours and petty jealousies which were

so common at the time. I have taken the opportunity

of inserting a number of unpublished letters in the

Appendix, which may be of some interest to students of

these early campaigns.
It should be clearly stated that Lord Holland was

travelling entirely for his own pleasure. He had no

official position of any kind in 1808-09, though it

appears from the Buckingham Memoirs that some hope

of the offer of an Ambassadorship to Spain was held out

to him in 1811, as a bait to gain his support for the

Government. Indeed, in a letter enclosing passports,

dated October 1808 {Holland House MSS.), Canning

definitely requested him to be careful to make it clear

to the Spaniards that his communications with them

were in no way authorised by the British Government.

He even warned him that he held himself at liberty,

if necessary, to take steps to prevent such misappre-

hensions. Lord Holland was not at one with his

party on the subject of Spain. He was throughout an

ardent supporter of the war and was always convinced

that, with outside assistance, the patriotic spirit of

the Spaniards would in time prevail against their

Some reference was made in the Introduction to the

previous volumes to an episode in Lady Holland's

early life, relating to the concealment of her Webster

daughter in Italy. Anxious to retain the care of the

child, she sent a false report to Sir Godfrey Webster of

its death ; and to prevent suspicion, she even arranged

a sham funeral. I have been recently fortunate enough

to find a paper in Lady Holland's own handwriting

relating the whole circumstances. The details differ

somewhat from the previously recognised version of the

story, and I therefore take this opportunity of printing

the paper as it stands : —
' I left Florence on the nth of April with my three

children, accompanied by Marie Madelaine Bonfigli, her

daughter — a child of four years old — Sally Brown nursery

maid, Jacques Arnoud cook, Andre Genovale valet-de-

chambre, Giovachino Mardei footman. Having in view

the concealment of my daughter Harriet, I had sent

the remainder of my servants by the shortest road

from Florence to Padua, at which place I intended

joining them by the route of Modena and Bologna.

Those servants were Morrity a nurse, Ann Williams

my under-maid, and Leopold Marconi, confectioner. On
ye of April, I pretended that Harriet appeared
unwell and expressed my apprehensions that she was

sickening with the measles ; on which pretext I took

her from her brothers into my own carriage for the
remainder of the journey. On the I arrived in
the evening at Paullo. Paullo is a solitary post house,

about 3 or 4 posts from Modena. I there called Sally

Brown to show her some red spots upon the child's

arms, &c, having previously made the spots with water

colours myself. I easily convinced her that there was

danger from infection, and detained the child in my own

room all night. In the morning I pretended the symp-

toms had increased, and that it would be safer to remove

my boys. I therefore sent them attended by Sally

Brown and Jacques Arnoud to Modena, there to wait

further directions from me. In the course of the day

I gave out that the child grew worse, and sent Giovachino

to Florence to fetch Dr. Targioni, the physician who

usually attended me, with directions that he should

meet me at Bologna, as I intended going thither if the

child mended, as the accommodations were better than

at Paullo : but my real reason was that Targiori might

not detect the fraud by seeing the child, who was in

perfect health. I was thus left only with Marie Bonfigli,

her child, Andre, and Harriet. To avoid suspicion

from the innkeepers I allowed them to think the child

was better, as I apprehended the fear of her death

might draw more observation. I had brought a guitar

in a case from Florence ; the case was of an oblong form,

and might pass for a rude cofhn. In it I placed some

stones for weight and dressed a pillow with cloathes and

a wax mask. I did the latter, as it was probable the

box might be opened at the difft. custom houses. I

then desired Andre to convey the box to Leghorn, and

receive the Consul's orders for the proper mode of having

it interred, and I conclude that the coffin was conveyed

and buried without inspection.
* I dressed Harriet in boy's clothes, and to avoid

being noticed by the people of the inn, I set off at night.

I arrived at a small post house 2 posts distant from

Modena, and there left Harriet, Marie Bonfigli, and

Octavia. I went on to Modena, where my arriving alone

and apparently dejected confirmed all the alarming

apprehensions Sally had entertained about Harriet's

illness. I immediately set off from Modena on the

17th of April, and found Dr. Targioni at Bologna. I

detained him with me for a few days, and took him with

me to Padua. I had procured from Mr. Wyndham a

blank passport, pretending it was for a person coming to

me out of Switzerland, whose name I had forgotten. The

blank I filled in with the name of Saludini and two

children, under which name Marie Bonfigli, who had

never lost sight of Harriet since her separation from her

brothers at Paullo, travelled as an officer's wife to Verona,

Munich, Ratisbon, through the lower part of Germany,

until they arrived at Hamburg, where I saw the child

on the 2nd of June, 1796. As my child was reported

to have suffered by the measles, it afforded strong reasons

and satisfactorily accounted for Marie Bonfigli's staying

behind to attend her own child, who had caught them.

I had furnished Marie Bonfigli with money, and

through Mr. Bruni (the banker) had procured for Madame

Saludini letters-of-credit upon several bankers on the

From another recently discovered paper I am also

now able to give further and more correct details of the

early pedigree of the Vassall family. It appears from

the account I have before me, entitled ' 1588 to 1831 '

that one Samuel Vassall died, leaving a son, John, who

married Anna Lewis. Four sons were born of this

marriage, John, William, Henry, Leonard. William, the

second son, married Miss Mills, and left Bathsheba (who

died unmarried) and Florentius, Lady Holland's grand-

My best thanks are due to Lord Iveagh for his kindness

in allowing me to reproduce, as the frontispiece to this

volume, his full-length portrait, by Romney, of Lady

Holland, in the early days of her married life with Sir

Godfrey Webster. She here appears in fancy dress

as a ' Virgin of the Sun.'
As in the previous volumes, the original spelling and

punctuation of the Journal has not been retained. In

the case of proper names especially, where confusion

might easily arise, alteration has been made, and the

more usually recognised Spanish version, taken from



Arteche and Toreno, &c, has been substituted. A map

of Spain and Portugal has been added, showing the

principal places mentioned in the text, and pointing

out the approximate routes taken by the Hollands by

coloured lines.
August 1910.

Elizabeth, Lady Holland, as a Virgin of the
Sun Frontispiece
From the picture by George Romney in possession of L ord Iveagh.

Map of Spain and Portugal, Illustrating Lady
Holland's Journeys in 1802-5 and 1808-9 at end


l802 - 1805
It was during the early months of 1802 that the Hollands

decided upon a prolonged trip abroad. The continual

illnesses of their eldest boy Charles had become a serious

cause of alarm, and the doctors advised a winter in a foreign

climate (vol. ii. 149). Leaving England in July they went

first to Paris. The party, besides themselves, consisted of

their two boys ; Frederick Howard, Lord Carlisle's sixteen-

year-old son ; his tutor and an intimate friend of the Hollands,

the Rev. Matthew Marsh ; and Mr. Allen, a doctor recom-

mended to them by Lord Lauderdale, afterwards librarian

and a permanent resident at Holland House.
Charles James Fox and his wife were also in the French

capital at this time, accompanied by his secretary Trotter,

General Fitzpatrick, Lord Robert Spencer, and others.

Both parties were much feted during their stay, and it was not

until September 20 that the Hollands and their retinue left

Paris en route for Spain. After a short tour among the castles

on the Loire they travelled south to Bordeaux. From thence

they took the road to Toulouse, and onward by Narbonne

and Perpignan to cross the north-eastern frontier of Spain

on the high road to Barcelona. They entered Spain on

November 7, 1802.
The destinies of that country were at this time again in

the hands of Manuel Godoy, Duke of Alcudia, the favourite

of Maria Luisa and her brainless husband Charles IV. The

Prince of the Peace, for by that name Godoy was best known,

had become chief minister of the state in 1792. In com-

pliance with the wishes of the King, war was declared against

France at the time of his cousin Louis XVFs death. The

neighbouring provinces of Rousillon and Catalonia were

the chief sufferers in a struggle which resulted in disaster

to the Spaniards. Peace was signed in July 1795, and a

month later Spain found herself in alliance with the regicide

government of France and at war with England. The

British fleets were too strong for the Spaniards, while times

without number the latter found their various interests

sacrificed to those of their more northern ally. The indigna-

tion of the nation against the responsible minister at last

boiled over, and his fall came about in March 1798, although

he appears never to have ^st the confidence of the King.

Saavedra and Urquijo successively took up the burden of

office, only passively to submit to further indignities at the

hands of France, and to deliver themselves securely fettered

into the power of the First Consul.
It is unnecessary here to trace the rise of Napoleon in a

few short years to the supreme power in France. His hatred

of England led him to pursue a policy intended to alienate

that country from the other powers of Europe. By February

1801 his plan was completely successful, for Portugal alone

remained in alliance with Great Britain. To punish that

recalcitrant nation the welfare, of Spain was again disregarded ;

but at last the eyes of her ministers were opened, and they

saw the gulf into which they had fallen. Urquijo received

speedy chastisement for his disobedience to Napoleon, and

was dismissed from office a few weeks after the arrival of

Lucien Bonaparte in Madrid as special envoy. Godoy, whose

actions Napoleon thought he could mould as he wished, was

restored to power, and consented to undertake a joint invasion

of Portugal. Even to Godoy, who assumed the command

of the Spanish troops, the campaign was child's play, for

the Portuguese army was practically non-existent. But for

once the self-satisfied spirit of the favourite stood his country

in good stead. He began to look on himself as a heaven-

sent genius in the field as well as in the council chamber,

and, tired of the exactions of the French, he was less inclined

to obey their ceaseless demands. Napoleon was amazed at

this new show of independence, and did not forget it when

the interests of Spain were at stake during the Congress of

Amiens. The northern confederation against England had

been broken up by the death of the Czar Paul, and such

was the exhaustion of the Continent from continual war that

even France was willing to conclude a peace. This was

secured by the Treaty of Amiens in 1802, which gave a short

interval of respite before the struggle which was soon to

commence again with renewed vigour.
Leaving France on November 7, 1803, they crossed

the boundaries of Spain near the village of Perthus.

Fine pillars supporting the arms of Spain mark the

entrance into Spain ; since the war they have not been

elevated but remain overthrown, a pretty just emblem

of the kingdom they represent.
Dined at Junqueras. Saw the ground where Dugom-

mier, 1 the French general, was killed. Also where the

Spanish Commander-in-chief, the Count de la Union, 2

was shot ; the piety of his countrymen has raised a white

marble cross to his memory. The philosophy of the French

has induced them to convey the bodies of their two generals

killed in the Spanish war, Dugommier and [Dagobert], to

the public place at Perpignan, where dead dogs, cats, and

all the filth of the streets is the only decoration on their

sods. Just above Figueras is the fort esteemed a chef

d'eeuvre in modern fortification ; the French got it at

the beginning of the campaign by the foulest treachery. 3

The governor who surrendered ran away, and is now
1 Jacques Coquille Dugommier (1738-1794), who was in command

of the French troops before Toulon when the city finally fell into their

hands. He commanded the army at the battle of Sierra Negra, where

he was killed.
2 Don Luis Carvajal y Vargas, Conde de la Union (1752-1794),

killed at the same battle as Dugommier.
3 The Castillo de San Fernando. A court-martial which was

appointed to inquire into the circumstances of this surrender named

four persons as guilty of the vilest cowardice and treachery, and con-

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