Journal, VIII (et dernier): 1815–1822 by Marquis de Bombelles, ed. by Jeannine Charon-Bordas (review)
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Reviewed by
Marquis de Bombelles, Journal, VIII (et dernier): 1815–1822. Publié sous les auspices du comte George Clam Martinic. Texte établi, présenté et annoté par Jeannine Charon-Bordas. (Histoire des idées et critique littéraire, 467.)Genève: Droz,2013. 308pp.

This work is the final instalment of an edition whose first volume appeared in 1977. From 1780 until his death in 1822 the French courtier, sometime diplomat, and later cleric, Marc-Marie, Marquis de Bombelles (1744–1822), kept, with minor interruptions, a regular journal whose original occupies ninety-seven closely written manuscript volumes. An important and still scarcely exploited source for the history of high politics, the emigration, the Counter-Revolution, and the Restoration, among many other subjects, these volumes remain in private hands and are currently on deposit at Castle Clam in Upper Austria, a circumstance ultimately deriving from the diarist’s long years of exile in central Europe. That the castle’s owner, under whose ‘auspices’ this volume is supposedly published, has now been dead for many years is suggestive of the disconnection between this work and the original source. Following Napoleon’s return to France from Elba, Bombelles took refuge in central Europe, and the present volume covers the period from his return to Paris after the Hundred Days in 1815 to early 1822 shortly before his death. In essence constituting a series of excerpts, it, like the preceding [End Page 399] volumes, gives little idea of the original diary’s scope. The editor does not elucidate the criteria by which passages were chosen for publication, referring merely to ‘longues discussions’ (p. 28) in which the question was decided. The excerpts themselves indicate a focus on Bombelles as a representative of the ‘ultras’ (those who remained unreconciled to the post-1789 order), as a courtier (in 1816 he became aumônier to the Duchesse de Berry), and to a lesser extent as a (Gallican-minded) clergyman (as bishop of Amiens beginning in 1818). We find him in the company of Chateaubriand or criticizing the politically moderate Louis XVIII for having ‘mal placé sa confidance’ (p. 85). Material relative to the careers of Bombelles’s children, particularly with respect to his hopes of establishing his sons in France, is also included. Because Bombelles was again living in his native land, it has no doubt been easier in this volume than in previous ones to blend out the continuing importance of the central European dimension of his life. But his sons remained in Austrian military and diplomatic service because they were not offered, despite their father’s efforts, what was considered an adequate foothold in France. The editorial assertion, found in earlier volumes as well, that Austria was in principle hostile to émigrés (p. 26) is directly contradicted by a statement by Bombelles’s son Henri recorded in the entry for 1 June 1817: ‘il faut avouer qu’on fait tout en Autriche pour nous attacher à ce pays’ (p. 96). Even more than the questionable selection of passages for inclusion, the failure to provide an adequate key to the omitted material is the most regrettable aspect not only of this volume but also of its predecessors. The so-called ‘Analyses’ included here as in previous volumes as a ‘vue d’ensemble du texte intégral’ (p. 241) fail to provide an adequate guide for future users of this source. Thus, not only this volume but the entire edition must be regarded in important respects as a missed opportunity.

William D. Godsey
Austrian Academy of Sciences