Page images

the designs of Russia ; a line of policy the importance of which has been fully laid down in the instructions already transmitted, but which your own discernment had led you to anticipate.

After fully conversing with the Austrian Ambassador on the affairs of Turkey, I have addressed an instruction to Mr. Frere, the British Minister at Constantinople. I send it under flying seal, in order that you may confer with Prince Metternich upon it.

I shall again instruct Mr. Lamb to support the Austrian negociation at Munich, by every means short of the measure of war: to such a proceeding the British Government cannot be a party, because in their judgment Bavaria was left by the Treaty of Ried a free agent to accept or refuse the proposed exchange.

It is my opinion that the Bavarian negociation has been discreditably conducted; and that, were she even to succeed in defeating the exchange, contrary to the wishes of the great Powers of Europe, she would have acted upon the whole unwisely, in keeping alive a point of controversy with her natural ally. There is one facility which exists at present, which might be considered as having lapsed if delayed ; namely, the right of requiring Baden to submit to some modification of territory, with a view to the settlement of this part of Germany.

I certainly should regret that it had been found necessary to complicate this question by imposing sacrifices upon a third Power, and should be extremely desirous that the arrangement could be managed upon the principle of exchange between Austria and Bavaria ; but I consider that, according to the state of the treaties existing with the respective Powers, it is more competent, in good faith, for the Allies to impose some sacrifice of territory upon Baden, with a view to secure the free consent of Bavaria, than it is to force the latter to submit to what the mediating Powers may deem a fair equivalent.

I think, however, after the part Baden has taken with the Allies, that the demand on her for cessions ought to be framed upon a very moderate scale, and, as far as possible, linnited to some district, from its position calculated to approximate, if not to connect, the Bavarian territories on opposite sides of the Rhine.

Lord Castlereagh to Lord Clancarty.

Foreign Office, January 31, 1816. My dear Clancarty—To you a private letter will be more acceptable than an instruction, because I can state in it without reserve the colour of my opinion, without embarrassing the progress of the negociations. This will be more conveniently done by sending you a copy of my last despatches to Lord Stewart, together with the short despatch I now address to Mr. Lamb.

With respect to Prince Eugene's claims, I send you my correspondence with Mr. à Court. I agree with you that the stipulation to Prince Eugene is un établissement concenable, and not a sovereignty. I object to any territorial concession in Italy; but I think the character of the Alliance is interested in something being done for him. Perhaps it is too much to throw the whole on Naples. My motive is that he should have a round sum, suppose £200,000, to provide a suitable residence for him near Munich, which, together with his estates in Italy restored to him by the Emperor, and valued at £35,000 or £40,000 a-year, would make him “un très grand Seigneur.” Half of this sum might be charged on Naples, as having spent little on the war; the other half on the other Powers, in the ratio of the French contributions, or, in other words, should be defrayed out of the Caisse Française. The charge would scarcely be felt; and as the Treaty of Fontainebleau, whether wise or unwise, was made with a view to a supposed general interest, it seems not unreasonable out of a general fund to rid Naples of this incumbrance which the negociations at Vienna threw upon her, but against which the Austrian treaty of guarantee has furnished her with a tolerable defence.

I have, &c., CASTLEREAGH.

Mr. J. James to Lord Castlereagh.

The Hague, February 10, 1816. My dear Lord—I think it right to place before you in a private letter, and in a stronger light than it may be proper to do in a public despatch, the manner in which this Government conducts its interior affairs, which, I am sorry to say, are not in the state of harmony that those who wish to see these countries united on the basis of a good understanding could desire.

The King, with very liberal ideas, has given his kingdom a Constitution that does not invest him or his Government with the requisite degree of strength. By allowing his Ministers no share of responsibility, he has placed his own popularity on a tottering foundation, without rendering them less liable to censure; and by the manner in which the Provincial States are to be organized, he will remain without power of controlling the Second Chamber, which he has reserved to himself no right of dissolving. In the First Chamber, where the members are appointed for life, and whose numbers are limited to sixty, a faction of thirty-one individuals are able to counteract the measures of Government; and the disposition which the members actually composing it have on some occasions evinced, gives reason to suppose that such a crisis may not unfrequently occur.

Without discussing the wisdom of such a Constitution for countries, the contrast of whose interests and feelings affords the prospect of a troublesome reign, we are already enabled to judge of its consequences. The King finds himself in the necessity of imposing nine millions sterling of taxes upon five millions of subjects, and his Ministers have neither force nor influence sufficient to make their measures palatable, or to procure that unity in the component parts of the Government which can alone ensure the consideration of the nation. You will have seen by my despatches that several laws have been rejected. It is true that they were not of importance in themselves; but the very circumstance, and the irritation attending it, prove that a vice is latent somewhere in the political machine.

The conduct of the Government respecting the Loi somptuaire has afforded a proof of the justice of this observation. It was conceived important to establish the generality of contributions. The Belgians did not object to the principle, but they were unanimous, both in the Council and in the Chamber, as to the inexpediency of the law in question for the southern provinces ; and yet the appearance of a resolution to maintain its execution created irritation and divisions during six weeks, when it was abandoned with petulance.

Another instance of this nature has occurred this very day. The Government thought proper to interpret the part of the Constitution that consecrates the right of petition as not implying a direct appeal to the Chambers, and the President was consequently charged with a proposition that all petitions should be addressed in the first instance to the Provincial States. The unpopularity of the President alone sufficed, it appears, to create an opposition that would certainly have produced another rejection, had not such an event been averted by the motion being timely withdrawn. It is not surprising that the consideration of the Government should suffer from such a system ; and, indeed, whilst the southern provinces express their contempt and discontent, the devotion of the northern ones is by no means so unbounded as it is thought to be.

The democratic spirit of the Republic still exists to a certain extent in Holland, and may show itself in the occasions that future elections may present; in addition to which, the agricultural provinces of Gueldres and Overyssel are naturally disposed to unite their interests to those of the Belgians, who, during the present system, will remain in opposition to the Government.

When the causes of these embarrassments are inquired into, they are not only ascribed to the defects of the Constitution, but also to a Dutch oligarchical party that surrounds the King. To this party the selection of Dutch for all public employments, and his Majesty's want of affection for his subjects of the Southern Provinces, are equally attributed. The absence of persons in Belgium capable of taking a lead in public affairs was an argument by which the former evil complained of was long defended ; and the idea entertained of the superiority of those to whom the administration of this country had been confided commanded, for some time, a respect that their subsequent conduct has apparently deprived them of. Accustomed, indeed, to the clock - work administration of Holland, they seem lost in the government of the various interests of the Netherlands; and the King, with abilities that command but little respect, has the mania de tout faire, and is consequently absorbed in a routine of detail, to the prejudice of more essential points.

Presuming on your indulgence, I have thus ventured to describe the light in which I cannot avoid seeing the embarrassments of this new Government. They are to be regretted, because, on one hand, the wide difference between the countries and their inhabitants rendering the arrangement and command of their resources a matter of difficulty, (even with the best dispositions) cannot be assisted by discontent and opposition; and, on the other hand, a spirit of opposition to Ministers that are not responsible, proceeding from members chosen and nominated by the King, augurs little in favour of the devotion that may hereafter be expected from the choice of the Provincial States. As long, therefore, as the weakness of

« PreviousContinue »