« ZurückWeiter »
the provisional government those protocols which expressed the sacred engagements that the Conference had contracted with the King of the Netherlands on the 18th of February, that is, from the moment of the adhesion of King William to the bases of the Separation.
That Lord Ponsonby was in a position which required dexterity I do not doubt, since his Lordship considered it necessary to hurry to London, to explain in person to the Conference the extreme difficulty he experienced in the execution of his instructions. There is one point in the Belgian negotiations from which the negotiators should never have departed, and from which their principals apparently never did depart. The conditions on which the King of the Netherlands acceded to the bases of separation ought to have been fulfilled before the appointment of a Belgian Sovereign, and the recognition of any other than a provisional government. Justice and policy alike demanded the strict observance of this course.
What happened ? By the protocol of the 21st of May, it appears that the Conference, after hearing the report of its agent, Lord Ponsonby, instructed him to return immediately to Brussels, and insist upon the execution without delay of the
conditions expressed in the previous protocols, on which conditions, the equity of which was recognised by the conference, King William would alone treat *; and on the 27th of the same month, the same Lord Ponsonby, arriving post-haste at Brussels with these peremptory instructions, addresses a letter to M. Lebeau, which induces the Congress instantly to elect Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg King of the Belgians.
Under all circumstances I consider this letter the most extraordinary document that was ever penned by a diplomatist. It forms upwards of six octavo printed pages, it is a pamphlet, and it affects to be written " avec la plus grande hâte.” Lord Ponsonby must mean copied in the greatest haste, for who can doubt that this letter was written many days before in London by M. de Talleyrand, and approved by Lord Grey.
Observe that the Conference in London is working to fulfil the synallagmatic obligations which resulted from the bases of separation agreed
* The instructions are explicit :-"Les plénipotentiaires sont convenus d'inviter Lord Ponsonby à retourner à Bruxelles, et de l'autoriser à y declarer:
“ 1°. Que les cinq puissances ne sauraient tarder plus longtemps à demander au gouvernement belge son adhésion aux bases destinées, à établir la séparation de la Belgique d'avec la Hollande, bases auxquelles Sa Majesté le Roi des Pays Bas, a déjà adhéré.”. Recueil, 8c. p. 186.
upon by the Conference and the King of the Netherlands, and the agent of this Conference, who has received not only their written but their personal instructions, obtains, instead of the object of his mission, the formal dethronement of this very king; utterly reckless of his rights and interests, which the protocols of the five Powers in clear terms had declared primary in their settlement to the investiture of the new sovereign, and, in fact, the price and condition of that incident.
It may be that all this time Lord Ponsonby ,in acting in violation of the peremptory instructions of the Conference, complied with the secret orders of Lord Grey; it may be that all this time Lord Palmerston, as a member of that Conference, was a mere dupe; it may be that the Prime Minister of England, in an excess of Gallomania, in that rabid haste with which he apparently seizes every opportunity of injuring our ancient allies was, by some secret understanding with M. de Talleyrand, determined to precipitate the catastrophe of Gallic intrigue. This may be; this apparently is the secret; for Lord Ponsonby, the brother-in-law of Lord Grey, having compromised himself with the Conference, is withdrawn from the scene of his glory, but sent to Naples as a reward for services which, at least, are yet unavowed, although we
can scarcely say we are unacquainted with them. Lord Ponsonby cannot have blundered - Lord Ponsonby cannot have betrayed - he cannot be either an idiot or a traitor, because Lord Ponsonby is to be the representative of his Britannic Majesty at the court of the King of the Two Sicilies !
It is curious to remark, that after Lord Ponsonby's interview with the Conference, M. de Talleyrand affected to his fellow negotiators a hopeless conviction of his Lordship's utter imbecility. “ Tout ce qui m'en est resté,” observed his Highness, “ c'est l'impression de sa parfaite incapacité." Yet M. de Talleyrand at this time was secretly aware that this perfectly incapable negotiator, who was sent post haste to Brussels to insist upon the acceptance of the bases of sepa . ration by the provisional government, was in fact secretly instructed by himself and the English minister to procure the election of Prince Leopold, as King of the Belgians, without any regard whatever to the paramount protocols themselves.
But for this conduct of Lord Ponsonby, - but for his diplomatic letter of six octavo pages, written in the greatest haste," — Belgium, at this moment, would at least have been under the dominion of a Nassau, its unexampled prosperity and
happiness maintained, and in all probability the integrity of the kingdom of the Netherlands preserved. Nothing but the election of Prince Leopold saved the cowardly ruffians of Brussels and hired agents of France from the punishment they so richly deserved: nothing but the election of Prince Leopold could have authorised the interference of the French, when the Belgian traitors, a short time afterwards, fled like chaff before the gallant troops of their real sovereign. It is thus that M. de Talleyrand delights in mystifying his allies and serving his party.
There was a time when an Englishman in Holland scarcely felt himself in a foreign country, so strong was the sympathy between the two nations, and so great the similarity between their character;— their courage, their industry, their morality, and their religion; and now when we are hooted on the quays of Rotterdam, and can scarcely pass with safety over the bridges of the capital, let us think of Lord Ponsonby, and let us thank Lord Grey.
In this unhappy business, however, we should do well to remember, that there is one page in the chapter of accidents which it may be wise to read. Upon it we may find written, that the various parties in which that country is at present