Imágenes de páginas


Relations of Holland and Belgium.


mention here, he desired to make when already for ten years Imperial, & revolution without the aid and France was vanquished in 1814, against the wishes of his people-a Belgium was again restored to people who were by no means pre Europe, to become the creature of pared to go these lengths.

treaties and congresses. The Treaty Revolutions of this or any other of Paris, of the 30th May, 1814, kind, as was profoundly said by the promised to Holland an increase of Abbé de Pradt, himself Arch territory;* and this increase was bishop of Mechlin,



made at the expense and to the premade, for they arrive of themselves judice of Belgium. The sad history and spontaneously in the full and of the fifteen years union of the two proper time. To force them on countries may be read, as M. No. an unwilling or reluctant nation is thomb (now Belgian ambassador at & proof rather of indiscreet and Berlin) says, in these words of the zealous enthusiasm than of legis.. treaty of Paris. The adjunction of lative or executive wisdom. When, Belgium to Holland created no new in addition to these mandates, people, revivified no ancient na. Joseph by another edict declared tionality. Holland represented, in the religious orders relieved from a material and mercantile sense, the ang dependance on their foreign acquirer, and Belgium the thing

acsuperiors, and when he went the quired. Bishop Burnet, in his His. further length of forbidding the tory of his Own Times, tells us that Belgian bishops to resort to the see a proposition of joining the Netherof Rome to obtain those marriage lands' to Holland was made to Wil. dispensations, which they were liam III., but that he rejected it on henceforth, with his Royal and Im account of the difference of religious perial permission, to grant from opinions; and in this the sagacious their own authority, he discontented monarch seems to have acted with not only the people, but the clergy; his usual knowledge and judgment. and his subsequent suppression of Another William of Holland, in monasteries and convents, and ab. 1814, acted however on different sorption into his own hands of public views, and the result was a forced instruction, still further exacerbated union of two nations possessing no general discontent. Nor were his natural attraction, but rather a very political innovations, though some great repulsion towards each other. of them wise and salutary, more to There can be no doubt that among the the taste of the nation; and the principal statesmen flourishing forty consequence was, a struggle be years ago, there prevailed a cordial tween the states and the monarch, and friendly regard towards both commencing with sedition, and end the King of Holland and his eldest ing in revolution.

son and heir, the Prince of Orange, The dissensions, strifes, and who had served in our armies and anarchy produced by a monarch distinguished himself under our whose intentions were the most bene banners. But irrespective of the volent and patriotic, did not perish or respect borne to the character of the die with him. It was not till his father as an equitable and honest successor, Leopold, had made sun man, and the kindly feeling evinced dry efforts, by arms, by negotiation, towards the son, it would be difficult and by concessions, that Belgium to discover any reasons of state for again submitted to Austrian do thus transferring one country to minion. The period of reunion was, another as a simple addition. It is however, short. The events which true, the treaty of London stipulated had occurred from 1781 to 1793, had that the fusion of the countries rendered Belgium an easy prey to

should be intimate and complete ; republican France. France appro and that the act of acceptance of priated and annexed the Belgian the protocol of the London conterritory in a manner as short and ference, signed at the Hague on the summary as has been since adopted 21st July, stated that the two counby our American neighbours ; and tries should only form one and the

* The words of the Treaty are these :—'La Hollande placée sous la souveraineté de la maison d'Orange recevra un accroissement de territoire.'

same state, to be governed by the constitution already established in Holland, to be modified by common accord.' But it is easier to proclaim fusion on paper than to carry it into practice in reality. Whatever may be the good intentions of indi. viduals, it is not always in the power of men to extinguish the bitter and deep-rooted hatreds, reli. gious and political, which have been handed down from father to son during a succession of generations. For centuries previous to these protocols, the Belgians had been taught to despise the Dutch as a grasping, money-getting, uufeeling, and uncivilized people; and the Dutch had in their turn been taught to regard the Belgians as a superstitious, & bigoted, and a slavish race. Was it likely, then, that any rulers, however wise and well inten. tioned, could succeed in reconciling elements so discordant. Nations and communities of men do not in an in. stant forget differences of religion, or of civil and social habitudes, or those commercial and political rivalries which come home to the business and pockets of men.

We have no wish to malign the memory of the King of Holland. He was a man of business-like habits and excellent intentions, in whom a first rate merchant was spoiled. His object was to make his country prosperous, and to render Holland and Belgium great fields of commer. cial and manufacturing speculation. To these ends he dedicated his ener, gies with a zeal worthy of Lombard or New Broad-street, and an activity comparable to that of Manchester or Rochdale. Sober in his habits, simple in his tastes, punctual in all his engagements, fond of money even to parsimony, he yet had so much of the merchant in his composition, that he would spare from his hoard large sums to advance any promising speculation presenting the probability of success. These qualities naturally endeared him to his Dutch subjects. But they found less favour at the hands of the Belgians, among whom his Majesty passed as a person of a cold, an austere, and an obstinate nature, as a king priding himself upon the fact of his being a Dutchman, and professing a different faith from the majority of his new

subjects. Differences such as these engendered some imaginary and some real grievances, which ultimately ripened into national ani. mosity and universal discontent. Trial by jury, for instance, was abolished; the Dutch language was imposed on all functionaries, civil and military ; partiality so gross as to amount almost to an exclusion of Belgians was exhibited in the distribution of all offices, civil and military ; taxation was unjustly and oppressively pressed on Belgium, and an attempt was made by the king to suppress the Roman-catholic colleges and schools, substituting in their place a philosophical college, and a species of State or Government education. These acts were as imprudent as those of Joseph the Second in 1786 ; indeed, still more imprudent, for King William had the failure of an able monarch thirty years before as a solemn warning. It was an expression of William, styled the Taciturn, that un roi ne peut pas par ordonnance altérer l'état du pays; yet in defiance of this axiom, and of a monitory example, the King of Holland persevered in his headlong course.

The result is well known. In the days of September, 1830, there occurred an émeute at Brussels, which cost him and his family the crown of Belgium, and which, in its results, contributed to place the sceptre in the hands of that wise and politic prince who now guides and governs Belgium under the name of Leopold I. Though wholly unprepared for the Belgian Revolution - though taken unawares by the want of judgment and dexterity exhibited by the Netherland statesmen, and the entire absence of energy and military skill exhibited by the Prince of Orange, and regretting the fall of William as a catastrophe, still the late Duke of Wellington, albeit fully aware of the gravity of the circumstances, refused to interfere by force of arms. That great and good man intimated to the Belgian deputation sent to England, that if they abstained from embroiling Europe, Great Britain would not interfere in their internal concerns.

For some months the position of affairs was anything but cheering. Though the prudence and talents of


Prince Leopold becomes King of the Belgians.


Prince Leopold, as well as his con a rash and adventurous but a prudent nexion with the British Royal family, part. The task for the new king of had caused his name to be frequently this small territory was not to commentioned at an early stage of the mit the country with the different Revolution as a candidate for the

powers, but to reconcile it with Crown, yet the fact that the Great Europe. He therefore resolved to Powers still clung to the hope of a decline the throne unless he could settlement, by which the sovereignty reconcile the welfare and indepenwould be secured to the Prince of dence of his future kingdom with Orange, interfered to prevent the the general interests of the European open adoption of his candidature. It states. Happily, by means of conshould, moreover, be remembered, cessions on the part of the conferthat the Duke of Nemours was also ence, and the withdrawal of incom. on the lists, and that there were not patible pretensions on the part of wanting Bonapartist candidates in the Belgians, affairs were smoothed, the person of the Duke of Leuch and on the 4th of June Leopold tenberg and Achille Murat. But was proclaimed king of the Belgians although Prince Leopold abstained by a majority of 152 out of 196 votes, from giving any sanction to the ex under the express proviso that he ertions that were being made in his should accept the constitution, and favour, yet so high did his character swear to maintain the national indeon examination stand, that early in pendence and territorial integrity. April it was apparent that a majority This result was obtained by a conwould be secured for that prince, duct strictly passive and dignified on whose name was received without a the part of his Royal Highness. No negative in November, 1830. Though solicitations were used. No appeals of the Reformed Faith, it is a noto were made to prejudices or passions. rious circumstance that Leopold, in No money or largesses were exan early stage of his candidature, pended in gaining over the journals received the assistance and support or the people, or those loud talkers of the Roman-catholic clergy and that mouth and rant in public places. laity. His principal opponents were Of artifice, of deception, or of poamong the Orangists and French pular flattery or delusion there was movement party, but these were

The selection of Leopold by but a fraction of the Nation.

the representatives of the people In his first interview with the was founded on political and moral deputation which came to offer him grounds, on the stability of his chathe crown, Leopold exhibited a sense racter, and the steadiness and saand simplicity, and frankness, indi gacity of his nature. Without effort, cative of the sagacity and elevation without intrigue, without one un. of his character. All my ambition,' worthy compliance, was a said he, “is to contribute to the wel. thus láid at the feet of a prince who fare of my fellow creatures. While made no effort, direct or indirect, to yet young, I found myself in so obtain the glittering but perilous many difficult and singular situations honour. that I have learned to consider

power Within a very few months after only with a philosophic eye. I never his election the new sovereign had coveted it but for the sake of doing an opportunity of exhibiting the good, durable good. Had not certain coolness and courage by which he is political difficulties arisen (said this distinguished, at the head of the candidate for a throne) which ap Belgian troops ; and before the end peared to me essentially opposed to of the year he ably seconded de the independence of Greece, I should Brouckere and General Evain in or. now be in that country, and yet I ganizing the Belgian army. He never attempted to conceal from my. worked daily for several hours with self the difficulties of my position. the minister and chief of the staff, I am aware how desirable it is that and made excursions to inspect camps Belgium should have a sovereign as and garrisons. Divisions and bri. soon as possible. The peace of gades were constantly passed in reEurope is in it.' Leopold at once view by him, and his zeal and ardour saw that the part to be played by had the effect of stimulating the the future King of Belgium was not officers and encouraging the men.



The youthful experience of Leopold tranquillity, during which Belgian was herein of eminent use to him. industry made immense progress. Let it be remembered that in early During

all this period the attention life, indeed so far back as 1808, he of the King was, amidst a multitude had entered the Russian service with of other objects, more particularly the rank of general, later had accom directed to the necessity of a good panied Alexander to the congress of law on public instruction, to the Erfurt; from 1813 to the peace of greater development of railway comParis he was on the staff of the munication, and to a treaty of comRussian army, exhibiting that per merce with France. Meanwhile, sonal bravery of which he

has always a commercial and manufacturing given an example; but it is not so party had sprung up, which was well known that even thus early he sometimes neither in harmony with gave the promise of military talents, the Ministry or the Chamber. The while he was initiated into civil existence of this third party did not affairs by an attendance at the Con. arrest the progress of a purely Rogress of Vienna. Thus schooled in man-catholic party in its advance military and civil life, the king had to power, for M. de Theux became an opportunity of bringing his ex the chief of what our neighbours perience and knowledge to play with would call a combination purement advartage to Belgium and with credit Catholique, in 1837, in which a place to himself.

was reserved for M. Nothomb, a In his household and domestic man of ability and moderate opin. arrangements the monarch exhi. ions. We mention these circumbited the simplicity that distin. stances to show the difficulties which guished him at Claremont, nor did the King has had to deal with in his union with a daugbter of the the management of parties swayed House of Orleans, though it im not merely by strong political, but posed on him the necessity of en also by strong religious opinions. In couraging the elaborate pageantry every Ministerial interregnum, how. of a court, alter his personal habits, ever, his Majesty has displayed the and frugal, unostentatious tastes. greatest adroitness and tact, exhi. The marriage of the king, blessed as biting neither prejudice nor passion, it was with issue, did much to con but a desire to be guided by the will solidate the new throne, but not of the country. The Ministry of M. withstanding the good sense and mo de Theux lasted till the month of deration of the sovereign, his task was March, 1840, when M. Nothomb, one of great delicacy and difficulty. who previously and during its con.

There was a war and a French tinuance had rendered essential party within and without the Cham services in regulating the differences bers, and though the dissolution of with Holland, touching Limbourg 1833 produced a majority more and Luxembourg, was rewarded by frankly devoted to the system of being sent Envoy to the Germanic peace, yet the opposition of the Ger Confederation. The discreetness of man Diet in the question of Luxem- this selection, made by the King bourg had excited much fermenta himself, was soon apparent, for the tion. Orangeist intrigues were also Envoy succeeded in establishing rife, and the situation became com friendly relations between the Gerplicated by Cabinet discords and manic Diet and his native country. dissensions. A liberal Roman-ca A Liberal succeeded the Roman. tholic replaced a Doctrinaire Minis catholic Ministry of M. de Theux, try, but the high and somewhat ul. of which M. Lebeau and Charles tra-Roman-catholic element soon Rogier were the principal members, obtained an ascendancy in the Cham and this in its turn was succeeded bers and in the Administration. The by a Moderate Ministry, into which unsettled state of Europe during the M. Nothomb entered as Minister of course of 1834 and 1835, by ren. the Interior. In 1843, this Cabinet dering a continental war possible, if gave place to another combination, not probable, obliged Belgium to of which M. Nothomb was the head continue its armaments. But from -a combination which succeeded in 1835 till the end of 1837, the coun fairly maintaining the balance betry enjoyed a period of calm and tween the Catholic and Liberal par

1853.] Difficulties attending the Government of Belgium. 121 ties in the interval between 1843 and Belgium by the chief of a State in 1845. These two parties having such proximate contact with France; subsequently coalesced, this Minis for there is no extravagant opinion try retired from office, and a Des. or doctrine prevalent in France champs d'Hoffschmidt, d'Ancthan, which may not be transplanted into and Van de Weyer, Cabinet was Belgium, or which may not have an appointed in July, 1845, which was effect on its political or financial not of long duration, M. Van de position. Thus, for example, when, Weyer, vanquished by the Parti in 1840, the position assumed by M. Pretre, was obliged to retire, and Thiers on the Eastern question De, Theux, the representative of obliged France to arm, if not to ashigh Roman-catholic opinions, at sume a threatning attitude, the Belthe close of 1846 again entered the gian Chambers, with a view to cause Cabinet, in which he remained, if the neutrality of the country to be we mistake not, till the elections respected, voted an augmentation of of 1817 had concluded.

30,000 men to the effective of the These elections were considerably army. influenced by a meeting of Liberals, We have already shown that at which had taken place at Brussels the close of 1830, and during the in the July of 1816, and at which early portion of 1831, Bonapartist three hundred and sixty persons intrigues were prevalent in Brussels were present. At this meeting the and in the considerable towns of most celebrated speaker was Frere Belgium. The consanguinity of the Orban, an advocate of Liège, who Duke of Leuchtenberg, whose presubsequently became Minister. The tensions were at one time put forth, principal points for which these revived the intrigues of the Impegentlemen contended were a reduc rialists, and filled the country with tion of the electoral qualification to the active partisans of a dynasty forty francs. 2nd, "The indepen which had not renounced its pretendence of the civil over the ecclesias sions to the French throne. Soon tical power. 3rdly, The exclusive after the election of Leopold also, power of the State over public in as we before stated, Colonel Murat struction without the official inter arrived in Brussels, it is now, and ference of the clergy. 4thly, The was then known, with sinister oh. emancipation of the inferior clergy jects, and the Belgian as well as the from the oppressive interference of Parisian police could prove that the bishops. As a set off to this Bonapartist agents abounded in political congress at Brussels the Brussels in October, 1836, and in bishops and high dignitaries of the July and August, 1840, antecedent Roman-catholic Church celebrated and subsequent to the events of at Liège the 600th anniversary of Strasbourgh and Boulogne. Nor the procession of the holy sacrament. was this the only danger of a So that there was a religious de political propagand which the Belmonstration as well as a political gian kingdom encountered. one, both of which were meant by notwithstanding that when the their authors to have a significancy French revolution of 1848 broke with the executive.

out the Rogier Ministry had sucThe elections of 1817 put an end ceeded in giving a more solid basis to a Ministry prepared only to ele to the constitution of 1848; notwithFate and favour the parti prêtre. A standing that the Chambers had for new Cabinet, composed of moderate some time before exhibited a laud. liberals, was formed, containing able economy, nevertheless a possé within its ranks MM. Rogier, of propagandists succeeded in pened'Hoffschmidt, de Haussy, Vedt, and trating from France to the Belgian General Chazal. The king on this frontiers. The chiefs of this expeoccasion no longer hesitated to give dition were two Belgians, a German his countenance to this manifestation and Swiss. They succeeded in of publis opinion.

arriving at the village of Risquons We enter into these particu Tout, but were there warmly relars to show with what unceasing ceived and soon dispersed by a body watchfulness and circumspection of Belgian troops, who made a good party changes must be regarded in number of prisoners. Neither the


« AnteriorContinuar »