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Art. 12.—THE NEUTRALITY OF BELGIUM.

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1. La Neutralite Belge et l'Invasion Allemande. Par

Maxime Lecomte et Col. Camille Lévi. Bruxelles et

Paris : Lavauzelle, 1914. 2. Sylvain van de Weyer. Par Théodore Juste. Bruxelles :

Maquardt, 1871. 3. The Memoirs of Prince Talleyrand. By the Duke de

Broglie. Vols. IV and v. Translated by Mrs Angus

Hall. London: Griffith & Farran, 1892. 4. Le dernier Bienfait de la Monarchie. Par le Duc

J. V. A. de Broglie. Paris : C. Lévy, 1900. THE work of MM. Lecomte and Lévi is remarkable for the prophecy contained in its preface.

'Si un rapprochement franco-allemand était possible, on ne pourrait qu'encourager et féliciter les hommes de cœur, épris d'idées de paix et de sentiments d'humanité, qui croient à la possibilité de ce rapprochement et s'efforcent de travailler à sa réalisation. Mais on est obligé de penser que ces esprits distingués se laissent décevoir par une illusion et ne voient pas les indices multiples qui montrent que, loin de se rapprocher, les deux grands peuples entreront à nouveau en conflit armé dans un temps plus ou moins prochain.

*Si ce conflit se produit, il parait certain qu'il ne sera pas provoqué par la république française, qui est pacifique, qui ne nourrit aucune pensée d'agression. La terrible crise éclatera le jour où le gouvernement allemand se verra dans la nécessité d'obeir à la pression du parti de la guerre, et de donner satisfaction aux besoins d'expansion de la nation, qui trouvent leur formule exacerbée dans les revendications des pangermanistes. ...

* La France, en dehors de ses sentiments et de la foi due aux traités, a un intérêt évident au maintien de l'inviolabilité du territoire belge. L'Allemagne, au contraire, semble avoir la conviction, comme bien des faits tendent à le prouver, que son intérêt supérieure en cas de guerre avec la France lui commande l'invasion de la Belgique.'

So convinced of this were MM. Lecomte and Lévi that they published this important volume, examining the history and resources of Belgium, and the methods by which Germany might carry out her imputed purpose. * Rem acu tetigerunt.' They point out the enormous railway development in Germany on the frontiers of Belgian Luxemburg, and they demonstrate that the violation of Belgian neutrality was thus a certainty of the near future. The consequences of such action they examine with detailed care, and they accurately predict the course of events. In fact, the book might have been written last September, with scarcely the alteration of a comma.

In 1911, according to our authors, there was some intimation conveyed to the Belgian Government that, if the defences of the country were not increased, it would certainly be invaded by one, if not both combatants, in the event of war.

This warning should have made it certain that Germany would invade Belgium. It was her interest to do so; and, now that the moral barrier had broken down, by everyone's apparent admission, what was there to prevent her? Wecannot help confessing that the complaisance of Europe before Austria in Bosnia and Italy in Tripoli had given some colour to the contention that there was no real force in ‘scraps of paper.' Such a scrap of paper it was which proclaimed the neutrality of Belgium. What was its history?

It was an antiquarianism to style the troops drawn from the country between France and Holland, who fought at Waterloo, Belgians.' Throughout modern history the name Belgica' had disappeared from the map. Its place was, roughly speaking, taken by Flanders, Brabant, Hainault and other counties, and North-western France. Cæsar had placed his Belgæ between the Seine and the Rhine, but the word reappeared in the days of the Renaissance with a restricted meaning. Les provinces Belgiques' of Charles V were those parts of his northern dominions which, bordering on France, were comprised in the ancient hunting grounds of the Belgæ. It is almost an accident that Belgium is not called Gallia or Francia ; for Charles might as well have termed these lands his Gallic or his French provinces. Yet the name has always persisted. Boileau speaks of 'le lion belgique.' Grotius terms the country Belgica Hispanica,' and the people 'Belgæ.' Heylin in the early 17th century treats 'Belgium' as a synonym for Low Germany: Cockeram, about the same time, defines Belgeans' as People of the low countries, Somersetshire, Wiltshire and Hampshire.' In 1790 were proclaimed the United States of Belgium '; but rather, one concludes, because it was a

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vague designation, appropriate to a federal union. In the same sense, Dumouriez was appointed to command

l'armée de la Belgique’; and the Convention addressed the population as le peuple belge.' On the expulsion of

'. the French in 1814 it was therefore natural that Baron de Vincent, who administered the Government for the Allies, should be termed Governor-General of Belgium.' And the classical tradition secured its spontaneous acceptance as the name of the new Kingdom * in 1830.

In 1814, Holland, like Sweden, had required compensation for her twenty-five years of suffering on behalf of Europe. A strong Holland was desired by Britain as a security against France. Sweden obtained Norway; and to Holland were allotted the Belgian provinces of Austria.f Parliament was to meet alternately in a Dutch and a Belgian town; religion was to be free, and the Netherlands constitution was to be maintained unless modified by common consent. There do not appear to have been any subsequent acts of special oppression alleged on the part of Holland, except that French was not recognised as an official language, and that the electoral system was unfavourable to the populous southern districts. But the explosion of the three days of July in Paris produced a sympathetic disturbance in Brussels, Namur and Liège--renowned, this last, for its turbulence in the time of its prince-bishops. The revolution hung fire, nevertheless. General Chassé held Antwerp in a firm grip. Brussels was half-hearted. The extreme south alone remained implacable. And there was a fundamental weakness in the motives of the revolt.

There is an almost Irish atmosphere of irony about the Belgian insurrections. Like the Brabantine revolt of 1790 against the Emperor Joseph II, the movement of 1830 had for its core the obstinate resistance of Catholicism to a secularist policy of toleration. Joseph II had established a secular college at Louvain; William of

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* Why we English term the country Belgium, and not Belgia, is as mysterious as the reason why we suddenly adopted the suggestion to style platina 'platinum.' It is ‘la Belgique' in French, ‘Belgica' in Spanish, ‘Belgien'in German, but ‘Belgio' in Italian. In Davis' Dutch Nation' (1851) the name of Belgium is apparently never mentioned.

+ Pitt's original plan was to give Belgium to Prussia. Castlereagh preferred to strengthen Holland. ! ‘Hansard,' Nov. 2, 1830, col. 40.

Holland deprived Catholicism of its privilege. Both deeply wounded the sentiment of their subjects. Each movement derived its élan from the opposing force of secularist republicanism. Each coincided with a revolutionary movement in France. Each drew strength from the anti-monarchical elements which fermented on the French frontier. They resembled, shall we say, a coalition between Mr John Redmond and Mr Frederic Harrison. There was thus in the very nature of the insurrection more than a seed of weakness. But, at the cost of some thousand lives, its volunteers thrust the Dutch out of Brussels,

These events found Britain in the crisis of the Reform agitation. Canning was dead. The British Ministry was

. bemused with boroughs.* Van de Weyer, the Belgian delegate in London, collected an audience of Whig members of parliament, and, emboldened by their sympathy, informed Lord Aberdeen that to respect the treaty of Vienna was to declare war on all revolutionary movements. Less than a month later, his Whig audience was in power; five or six of them were in the Cabinet. The independence of Belgium had become a Whig tenet. Van de Weyer's biographer gives the chief credit for its achievement to one who is seldom blessed by small nationalities–Viscount Palmerston; but it rightly belongs to another. Louis Philippe could not be indifferent to the necessity of supporting the Belgian movement. Apart from his personal wishes, his insecure position made it necessary to satisfy French sentiment. Greater Holland, formed to checkmate France, must be weakened by the secession of Belgium. It was more than his throne was worth to fail to accomplish this severance. The king gave his whole mind to the task; all the more energetically, as Belgium was precisely the field in which France could assert herself with the maximum effect. At first Count Molé appeared anxious to prevent the severance of the kingdoms, and not unwilling to favour a Federal Union, with the Prince of Orange as ruler

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* Greville reports (“ Diary,' ii, 169, 240) that “The country cares not a straw for Belgium or for anything but Reform' ..not one of the papers has made a remark on [the demolition of the Belgian fortresses]-nothing will do for them but Reform.'

† Ellenborough's ‘Political Diary,' Sept. 5, 1830 (ii, 333).

of Belgium.* But with the progress of events, bolder counsels prevailed. And the king sent to London one more truly his Prime Minister than the Laffittes, Soults and Casimir-Périers, who succeeded one another in Paris, namely Charles, Prince of Talleyrand-Périgord.

The wonderful skill with which Talleyrand (then seventy-eight) secured his ends is of itself an education in diplomacy. He was expected to intrigue; accordingly, intrigue was what he carefully avoided. But he knew to a hair's breadth the character of each minister with whom he had to deal; and his success was the result of accurately adjusting known means to known ends. Austria, Prussia and Russia were in favour of Holland i; Palmerston was anti-French. Yet the only result achieved by their joint action was to effect the desires of Louis Philippe.t

Two factors of which the Prince availed himself to the utmost were the Reform agitation, which rendered English opinion favourable to Belgian Liberty, and ready to see a sympathetic neighbour in the monarchy of July: and the advantage of the interior position, which rendered the Eastern courts incapable of effective or concerted action. Before the fall of the Wellington ministry (in November 1830), Holland appealed to the Powers to maintain the Union of 1814. This was a fatal, though a natural error. The revolt had no munitions and few resources, and its leaders were in constant recrimination. Van de Weyer, considerably later, wrote (December 1833)—l'on ne sait ici ce qu'on doit le plus admirer, ou de notre jactance ou de notre incapacité.' And, when a revolutionary shouted to him,

We have had enough talk; we want du sang !'-he could answer, Qui-du sens commun!' To delay was, for Holland, to resign. Nevertheless the Dutch moderation was well received. Wellington was ready on Oct. 2 to propose to France “the suppression of anarchy' in Belgium, though Peel's sagacity induced the Cabinet to adopt the less aggressive wording, the composing of

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* Ellenborough’s ‘Political Diary' (ii, 360, 387).

+ Guizot attributes to him even zeal' in the congenial work of undoing what had been accomplished against France at Vienna ('Mem.' ii, 266). One popular historian writes of the dotage' of Talleyrand at this juncture !

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