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agents to procure what recompense they may, for their trouble and services, by accidental perquisites, leads (I understand and have reason to believe) to a great deal of evil. In the more important sea-ports, such a system may do very well, but, in the great majority of cases, it seems impossible that the character and conduct of the men who are willing to accept such appointments on such terms, should be consistent either with the interest or the dignity of a great, and especially a great commercial people. I know that these things are subjects of legislation,
and more proper for the consideration of Congress than of the Executive, but it is the duty of every one connected with this high department, to give it all the information which his opportunities enable him to gather. As a citizen of the United States, I feel the more sensitive to every thing which involves, in any, however slight degree, the honor of our country,--because her great example is now more than ever becoming the subject of inquiry and discussion, and the payment of the national debt, and the unexampled prosperity of our finances, enable the government to adopt any system which is called for by the true interests of the country.
In this connection I would remark, as you will gather from the newspapers I transmit with this communication, that the spirit of emigration is spreading in Germany to a most extraordinary degree, among the more substantial classes of country people and tradesmen, who bring out to our country considerable accessions of industry, intelligence and capital. I have the honor to be, etc., etc., [Signed]
H. S. LEGARE.
Legation of the United States,
BRUSSELS, 26th Nov., 1832. To the Hon. Edward Livingston,
Secretary of State of the United States, Sir,--At the date of my last dispatches (for I have regularly written by all the packets from Hayre since my arrival here) the French were crossing the frontier. Ten days are since elapsed and they have made no progress whatever towards the accomplishment of their chief object, except that their army is collected about Antwerp. The summons to surrender the fortress, which is to be formally made, has not yet gone forth, and there seems to be some doubt when it will. I suppose, however, in a few days something decisive may be expected. In the meantime, from the papers you will perceive that there is no disposition whatever, on the part of the King of Holland, to recede from the position he has hitherto maintained. What the actual application of force may do, it may be difficult to conjecture, but we may safely affirm that he has exhibited no alarm or weakness at its approach. Meanwhile a debate of great interest is going on in the house of representatives here. The minister of foreign affairs made a full exposé of the conduct and results of the negotiations at London, (of which a copy is herewith transmitted,) and a discussion has arisen on the general state of the nation, thus set forth, in framing the answer of the house to the discourse of the king. The question may be thus summed up. The house,--that is, the opposition in the house, who were strong enough to put in a majority of members of the committee on the address of their own party,-charge the ministry with having deviated from the spirit of those acts by which the Chambers declared their adhesion to the articles of the 15th Nov., 1831, commonly called the Twenty-Four Articles, in having agreed to the intervention of France and England, the only object of that intervention being, to put the parties to the controversy in possession of the territory to which they are respectively entitled under the Twenty-Four Articles, without having any effect (except a very contingent and undefined one) upon their execution in other respects. The consequence of this, you are aware, will be to give up to Holland one-tenth (400,000) of all the population of Belgium in Venloo and Limbourg, and part of Luxembourg, in exchange for the citadel of Antwerp and its dependencies, without any thing being decided as to the debt, the navigation of the Scheldt and the Meuse, the internal communication by land and water, etc.
The ministry reply by citing the very language of the Chambers, enjoining it on them, above and before all things, to insist upon the mutual evacuation of territory; and that language does, in fact, seem to be susceptible of the interpretation put upon it by the ministry. But the opposition reply that the évacuation préalable spoken of by the Chambers meant, and could mean, only an evacuation de gré-agré, not a compulsory one; and they urge with vehemence, that to abandon 400,000 of their brethren, who have shared in all the glory and the guilt of the rebellion, to the Dutch government, would be as base as it is impolitic to exchange that territory for the citadel alone, which is no fair equivalent for it. But then a party, somewhat between the ministry and the opposition, say, rather sceptically, however, that the ministry have not consented and will not consent to cede that territory, without taking security that Holland will pass an act of oblivion in regard to it. On this point, I am not quite sure that the answer of the ministers is explicit. For the present, they seem to hint an assent to the necessity of some such stipulation. In the meantime, they deny that the evacuation was either said or meant to be a mutual evacuation by consent. There appears to me to be much force in the view of the opposition, for there is all the difference in the world between the King of Holland's estopping himself by a voluntary cession of the fortress and abandonment of the Belgian territory, from even setting up any claim upon it, and his being forced out of it by England and France, meditating and even menacing a recapture of the posts, and, indeed, a complete restoration of dynasty. But then comes the practical question, which puzzles many who do not approve of the conduct of the ministers so much as to make the result of the discussion still uncertain, - What is to be done? The armed intervention with the concert of this government is a fait accompli ; approve or disapprove of it, what do you propose? They interfere as arbitrators to execute a treaty which they have virtually dictated. The only condition precedent to their interference (the invitation of this government) has been fulfilled. Here they are,—think or do what you may, the alternative presented is either to acquiesce in what cannot be undone and make the most of it, or to disavow it altogether, break off all negotiation, and right ourselves as against Holland by open war. If a majority of the Chambers should adopt this latter course, the consequences cannot be anticipated. For my own part, I think a general war would ensue, --for the Northern powers, whose panic about revolutions is probably somewhat diminished within the last year, would perhaps be glad to avail themselves of such an occasion to absolve themselves from the bond of the TwentyFour Articles. But will France and England consent to Belgium's adopting so perilous a course ? Any war would be unpopular and almost impracticable in England, situated as she is, -and the French cabinet, which is a very able one and inclined to peace, and which, besides, as is manifest from the results of all their recent parliamentary triumphs, have gained a complete ascendant over the popular mind in France,— would naturally do all they could to prevent any change in the existing condition of things. This is, however, all speculation, and you know how to appreciate the conjectural predictions of politicians.
· I perceive that in South-Carolina the advocates of nullification are completely triumphant. Should they proceed to any decisive measures of opposition to the law, I shall probably sue for my recall. Things will have been settled here, and, in such a crisis, I feel that my post is not in a foreign land. Accept the assurances of my high consideration, [Signed]
H. S. LEGARE.
Legation of the United States,
BRUSSELS, 27th Dec., 1832. To the Hon. EDWARD LIVINGSTON,
Secretary of State of the United States,Sir,--Since my last dispatches the citadel of Antwerp is fallen into the hands of the French, and Gen. Chassé and his whole garrison are prisoners --but whether prisoners of war, as the victorious General has called them, or prisoners of a denomination yet unknown to the public law of Europe, is a great question for the diplomatic corps. The whole expedition was a novelty in the history of nations. It was not to make, but to prevent war, that the French army entered into Belgium. They came to enforce a contract,—to execute the law which the conference had enacted. Marshal Gerard was doing what a sheriff does who has a writ of habere facias possessionem in his pocket. Like a sheriff
, he had a right to overcome, by all the force necessary for that purpose, the resistance that was opposed to him. But, the trespasser once turned out, and the rightful owner put into possession, he has no right to keep the former in custody. The English ambassador was, I understand, very uneasy at the first announcement of the capitulation, especially upon the use of the term “prisoners of war", -but it seems probable that no serious difficulty will arise out of this verbal difference. The probability is that the French will crown their really (quære tamen) brilliant expedition, by setting the Dutch troops at large in a few days. Whether they will themselves return so soon to France remains to be seen. The King of Holland has been, since the taking of the citadel, summoned to surrender two other forts, which were at first under the command of General Chassé, but were afterwards detached from the citadel. His answer is not yet officially known, but no doubt is entertained but that it will be in the negative. The same stubborn, impenetrable obstinacy, or the same confident anticipation of a general war in the spring, which made him expose so many brave men to destruction in the citadel of Antwerp, can scarcely fail to make him dispute every inch of ground to the last.
By this happy result, the Belgian controversy is really reduced to a single point-and that a very subordinate one-in which, besides, this government is not much more deeply interested than the States in the interior : I mean the quantum
of the toll to be paid for the navigation of the Scheldt, or, to express it more accurately, of the indemnity which Holland is to receive for its liberty.
Matters must be very clumsily managed indeed, or some very untoward and unexpected events arise, to prevent a final settle
ment of the question in favor of the present order of things in this country and the peace of Europe, and that in a short time. I have the honor to be, etc., [Signed]
H. S. LEGARÉ.
Legation of the United States,
BRUSSELS, 6th Jan., 1833.) To the Hon. Edward LIVINGSTON,
Secretary of State of the United States,Sir,--Since my last despatch nothing of the least importance has occurred here. The French army, of which the head-quarters are at present here, is returning to France without having taken the forts of Lillo and Liefkenshock. The Dutch prisoners have been marched into France, and, contrary to the expectation I intimated in my last letter, there has hitherto been no manisestation of any purpose on the part of the French government to release them. You will perceive, from the newspapers, that the Northern powers have recently made public their dissatisfaction in reference to the course pursued by England and France; and Russia, especially, seems disposed to carry it with a very high hand towards the latter power. As to the British cabinet, although the results of the recent elections are as favorable to it as could have been hoped, I am very certain that they do not feel quite easy in their new relations with France, and that they will be extremely indisposed to take another step in the way of coercion (by force, I mean) against Holland.
But the politics of Europe are become comparatively insignificant in my eyes, since the publication of the proceedings of the South-Carolina Convention. I am not called upon to discuss that subject, at present, but it is my duty to inform the government, that no event has recently occurred which has excited half so much interest in Europe. I am firmly persuaded that, except the few radicals and theoretical republicans scattered about the cities and universities, all parties are filled with hope and joy at the appearance of a danger so imminent, impending over the "république modèle", as it is tauntingly called. Depend upon it, sir, that if the wise and moderate counsels of the country do not prevent those discontents from breaking out into flame, the cunning of European diplomacy, and the arms, it may be, of European power, will not long be wanting to encourage and strengthen the fatal spirit of resistance. There never has been an era in modern history, the reign of terror itself not excepted, in which crowned heads of every name and description might be expected more cordially to unite in such an undertaking,-to