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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that would certainly have produced another rejection, had not such an event been averted by the motion being timely withdrawn.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 naturallydisposed 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 witte the best dispositions) cannot be assisted by discontent ancr opposition; and, on the other hand, a spirit of opposition£to" Ministers that are not responsible, proceeding from membew 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
the Constitution remains on one side, and the neglect and discontent of the Belgians exist on the other, little harmony can be looked for in the administration of these amalgamated countries.
If it were possible to impress the King with the idea that many of his most enlightened subjects entertain of the imperfection of this Constitution, which unfortunately he regards as a chef cToeuvre, (probably because it is the production of his own imagination) an advantage might be taken of the present composition of the Chambers to effect a salutary change, when' it would not be less important, perhaps, that he should be also impressed with the idea that he holds his countries from and for the interest of Europe, and not from and for the interest of the Hogendorps, Maasdams, Maanens, and half a dozen others, who compose the party I have above alluded to.
I should not omit to mention that the Due d'Ursel and De Thiennes have been led to remonstrate with his Majesty upon many points concerning the management of Belgium. The latter showed me the letter he addressed to the King upon the Bubject, and which, allowing for the natural partiality of his feelings, appeared tolerably just; and the immediate journey to Brussels has, it seems, been the consequence of these proceedings.
Of all the Ministers, Falck is the only one who may be said to have credit with all parties, or who is supposed to possess fair and conciliatory views for the government of the country. As a man of low birth, however, he is too much taken up with the attention that the preservation of his own situation demands to allow him the weight that it is perhaps desirable he should have in the affairs of this kingdom.
Trusting you will receive this long letter with indulgence, I remain, my dear lord, ever most gratefully and truly yours,
Count de Fernan-Nunez to Lord Castlereagh.
Portland Place, ce 15 Fevrier, 1816. Mon cher Castlereagh—Je vous envoie ci-joint la traduction des deux derniers Décrets portés par le Roy mon maître. Il me semble que vous pourrez y trouver quelque fondement pour annoncer un changement plus doux dans les dispositions du Cabinet de Madrid. J'ai tout lieu de croire d'autant plus que mes dépêches doivent avoir arrivé trois jours après cela. Je ne crains point de vous faire remarquer que ce n'est pas commun que les Souverains reconnoissent publiquement et sans y être forcés par aucune commotion qu'on les a trompés. Le Roy mon maître l'a dit très clairement comme vous voyez; et cela à mon avis est la marque la plus certaine de ses sentimens de faire le bonheur, de son peuple, ainsi que de son cœur porté pour des dispositions très contraires à ce que l'on prétend faire croire ici.
C'est en vous assurant de ma parfaite tranquillité sur vos sentiments, vos talents, et dispositions naturellement oratoires, que je vois arriver la soirée d'ajourd'hui, et votre triomphe sera d'autant plus brillant pour celui qui comme moi connoit que vous avez à lutter contre une opinion trompée, mais par malheur trop générale dans ce pays.
Agréez, je vous prie, mon cher Castlereagh, les sentimens de la plus haute considération, estime, et particulière amitié de votre dévoué.
Le Comte Duc de Fernan-nustez.
The first duty of Sovereigns is to restore repose and tranquillity to their subjects: when they are judged by tribunals legally established, they repose under the cover of their protection; but when sentences are pronounced by commissions, my conscience cannot feel free from all responsibility; my subjects cannot have confidence in the administration of justice, without which men cannot enjoy tranquillity in society. To avoid evils which may be attended with such important consequences, I order that all the commissions employed on criminal proceedings be instantly suppressed; that the said proceedings be immediately handed over to the competent tribunals; and that the informers be held to appear, in order that there may be no doubt as to the motives of public good which they allege, they being made rigorously responsible for the consequences of their denunciations.
During my absence from Spain, two parties have formed themselves, under the appellations of the Liberal and the Servile. The division which, from the first, existed between them, has extended itself through the most part of the provinces of my kingdom. One of my most sacred duties, in my character of Father of my people, is to put an end to these dissensions. I order, therefore, that the denunciators be held to appear before the tribunals, and to give there legal security; that the appellations of the Liberal and the Servile disappear from common discourse; and that within six months all affairs of this nature be terminated, the ordinary modes of justice being, however, always observed with respect to them.
Signed by the hand of the King.
To Don Pedro Ceballos.
The Palace, January 27th, 1816.
Further Decree for the re-establishment ofM.de Ceballos in the Office of Minister for Foreign Affairs. Being satisfied of the fallacy of the motives which had determined me to dismiss you from the office of my Prime Minister, and being well convinced of the zeal, the exactitude, and the attachment, with which, in the most trying times you have served my person and the State, I re-establish you in the exercise of the functions of the said employment of my first