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MARCHENA Jose - Autograph Letter Signed 1812

  • £450.00

Jose MARCHENA (1768-1821). Spanish writer.

Autograph Letter Signed (“J. Marchena”) to M. Dennie(?), giving news of matters in Spain, and announcing his appointment at the Ministry of the Interior.

3¼ pages 8vo in French, Madrid, 16 May 1812.

Trans: “I hear every day that the Emperor gives you further marks of his esteem, and I am angry because these well-deserved rewards rob me daily of the hope of seeing you again. . . When I dream . . . I do not fail to call you into my kingdom with General Dessolle . . . If you are curious to know news of this country, I will tell you that there is none; everything is as it was. Theologians say that the greatest miracle . . . is the sacrament of the Eucharist, which is no less [a miracle] than the presence of a few Spaniards in the cities. It is true that people there die of hunger by their tens and by their thousands, but we are not yet reduced to savages . . . In these circumstances, they have named me head of the section of agriculture, manufacturing and commerce at the ministry of the interior, and all I can relate is about these three things, a tale which can be impartial, as none of these is a living person. . . Know, sir, that there is no one in Spain who . . . loves you as well as I. . .

Marchena, a firm supporter of the French Revolution, had fled to France in 1792. He did not return to Spain until 1808, as secretary to Murat, and remained to serve in Joseph Bonaparte’s administration. As well as working at the Ministry of the Interior, Marchena was also chief archivist. Earlier in his career, he had been exposed as the forger of some erotic verses allegedly by Catullus, but the episode appears to have taught him a lesson and by the time of this appointment he was a thoroughly reformed character.

As an afrancesado, who saw French rule as a liberating influence, dragging Spain from the suffocating influence of the conservative monarchy and church, he was forced into exile in France once again at the end of the Peninsular War. He is noted as the translator of two of the great figures of the Enlightenment, Voltaire and Rousseau, into Spanish.

General Dessolle, mentioned here, had served in Spain from 1809, where he presumably met Marchena. He returned to Paris in 1811, and later served on the Russian campaign.

Remains of guard to the verso of the final leaf. From the Crawford collection.

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