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troubles.'* Aberdeen told Talleyrand that it would be a great mistake to suppose that, if the dismemberment of the Netherlands was allowed, the peace of Europe would not be disturbed.t The speech from the Throne (Oct. 26) lamented that the enlightened administration of the King of Holland should not have prevented his dominions from revolt,' and referred to the concerted efforts which were being made to restore tranquillity.' It seems certain that Aberdeen and Wellington never contemplated the division of the Dutch kingdom. It is true they responded cautiously to the Dutch overtures; and Grey asserted in 1832 that they had left the partition a fait accompli. But, as Aberdeen at once declared, an 'administrative' separation (or Home Rule) was all that the Tory Cabinet had contemplated. In fact, that was all that the Belgians at first dreamt of. It is therefore misleading to assert, with M. Emile Bourgeois, that on Oct. 15 it was settled between Aberdeen and Talleyrand that there should be no European intervention between the Belgians and their king except for the purpose of peaceful mediation. All that was settled was that no immediate assistance should be given to Holland to restore its control.
From Wellington's own despatch ! to Aberdeen of Oct. 19, 1830, it is clear that no irrevocable determination had been taken to enforce a partition. Mediation was å preliminary only, and did not exclude subsequent forcible action. In fact, we shall immediately see that 'armed intervention' between the Belgians and their king was in the sequel resorted to-only it was against the king that it was directed! Ellenborough mentions no such agreement as M. Bourgeois cites, although a Cabinet
* Ellenborough's 'Political Diary,' ii, 380.
† A great effect had nevertheless been produced on the Cabinet by the failure of the Dutch attempt on Brussels. The despatch of Nesselrode, printed by Talleyrand ('Mem.' iii, 251), clearly shows the change in the British attitude. See Wellingtou’s ‘ Despatches' for the earlier language.
| Cf. Kebbel, 'Hist. of Toryism,' 231, citing Wellington's letter to Croker, Sept. 30, 1833; and Wellington, 'Despatches,' 3rd Ser. vii, 254.
$ Cambridge Modern Hist.' vol. x. See Talleyrand's account of the interview, 'Ambassade à Londres,' p. 27.
| Wellington, 'Despatches,' 3rd Ser. vol. vii, pp. 310, 311, ‘Are we to be accused of apathy, because we do not at once get under arms, in a cause in wbich we have not yet tried negotiation?'
was held on Oct. 20; more conclusive still, neither does Talleyrand. On Nov. 2, Sir R. Peel was still maintaining that we were greatly concerned in the maintenance of the connexion between Holland and Belgium,* although on Nov. 3 he was disclaiming reannexation, and talking of 'other solutions.'t Even Louis Philippe wrote on Nov. 11, 1830, that force could not be used' to bring about the consent of Holland to the separation.f Talleyrand, towards the end of November, reports with elation that the British Government has been induced to recognise that Belgium must be irrevocably separated from Holland. This, he observes, was a great success for French policy; and we entirely agree. But it is quite inconsistent with any decision having already been taken on Oct. 15 to use force in no circumstances to maintain any kind of Union. Equally inconsistent with such a decision is Ellenborough's
a note on Oct. 28 that the ambition of the Belgians will induce them to attempt to form a separate State.' The obvious parti of the Tory Government was to declare boldly in favour of Holland and the maintenance of treaties. It would thus have extricated itself from Reform embarrassments by appealing to the country to support it in maintaining the bulwark erected in 1815 against France. At any rate, it would have gained time, and obliterated the unfortunate effect of Wellington's precipitate declaration against all reform whatever.
But the Wellington Government missed the opportunity. They summoned a Conference, and so hurriedly, that Aberdeen actually affixed the seals of office to the necessary documents the day after he had resigned them, on Nov. 17.9 The Conference met under Whig auspices, and within a month it had given judgment against the Dutch, and in favour of Belgian independence (Dec. 20, 1830). It is incorrect to declare, as M. Bourgeois does, that this was 'a council of arbitration' appointed by the Conference already assembled in London to discuss the affairs of Greece. It was assembled ad hoc; great difficulty arose as to whether it should sit
* • Hansard,' Nov. 2, 1830, col. 92.
ll Camb, Mod. Hist.' vol. x, 485.
in London or Paris; it was not to arbitrate but to mediate ;* it was appointed by no other Conference. Talleyrand still speaks on Dec. 17 of attaining the end I was above all most anxious to secure-the dissolution of the Kingdom of the Netherlands't; for the adhesion of Great Britain, though a great thing, was not enough. But he was forcing an open door. On Dec. 20 was signed the famous Protocol establishing the independence of Belgium. Neutralisation was not yet mentioned.
Lord Grey had always opposed the Union,t and he now had the opportunity, grateful to a prophet, of making his gloomy vaticinations come true. Palmerston, his Foreign Minister, if he distrusted France, was quick to see how a collision with the Citizen King in support of a Dutch autocrat would damage the cause of Reform. And Talleyrand rightly judged that, “in London, the Conference would sign whatever France and England wished.' The advantage of the interior position' was
. conclusive. It enabled Talleyrand and Palmerston united to óbrusquer les choses' again and again. But why did Prussia and Russia do so little for Holland ? Russia was doubtless occupied by Polish difficulties, but they had not yet attained their full development. Prussia was neither weak nor preoccupied. MM. Lecomte and Lévi suggest the fear of France. France had certainly recovered from 1815; she was a force in Europe ; but she was not its arbiter. Her weakness was a constant source of embarrassment. It is not easy for a negotiator to adopt a high and firm attitude, when at any moment he may be asked, “Does your government still exist at the present time?”'s Ellenborough saw clearly that she could not go
-* for fear of a republic.' 'In the name of wonder,' Princess Lieven wrote, 'why should all the other Powers submit to her pleasure?'If the world stood in awe of France in 1830, Leipzig and Waterloo might as well not have been fought. It may be conjectured that the cautious attitude of the Northern Powers was partly due to
nervousness. Talleyrand hinted in private
• See Wellington, “Despatches,' vii, 487—“The mediators,
... assuming to themselves in Oct. 1831 the character and quality of arbitrators.' + Memoirs,' iii, 293.
| Hansard,' Nov. 2, 1830, col. 40. § Talleyrand (iii, 293) ; cf. ib. iv, 203. | Corr, with Earl Grey,' ii, 140.
conversations at a Partition of Belgium, by which Britain might seize Flanders, leaving the interior to France. It is not necessary to suppose him serious; had it been a serious project, he would not have gossipped about it. But it may have been enough to frighten Bülow and Matuszewic.* It was better to rob William than to aggrandise Louis Philippe.
But it is impossible to avoid the impression that there was some reason for Prussian inaction which is not disclosed. The cholera (Ellenborough's explanation), the King's lethargic disposition,t difficulties of communication, indifferent diplomacy, bad information 1—these are too many explanations. The real reason remains hidden, unless it was sheer blundering incapacity. Metternich's remark is just—that 'the Netherlands affair is an affair ruined ab ovo.'s Prussia should have taken an energetic line at first; nothing could put matters right subsequently. The inaction of Russia is equally difficult to explain. Guizot imputes it to the pacific mentality of the Emperor Nicholas; || which only shows that explanation is impossible.
Austria viewed this sudden departure from the Treaty of Vienna with nothing but horror. But the King of Holland had launched his bark in storm'; it was difficult for the allies' to support him against the
confederates.' This is an attitude reminiscent of Greek chorus; but no doubt the Three Courts resented his obvious desire that they should pull the chestnuts out of the fire for him. Metternich lays stress, moreover, on
* The idea seems to have been seriously mooted to Talleyrand by Sebastiani ('Mem.' iii, 285), and is dismissed by him as absurd. But on June 22, 1831, he refers to it as a real possibility-and even (in one version) calls it his 'favourite idea' (iv, 151). And Aberdeen, in a very interesting Note of Jan. 18, 1831, speaks of 'Talleyrand's notion of partition' (Wel. lington, Despatches,' 391).
+ • At Berlin,' says Dalberg, 'the King alone refuses to go to war' (Tall. *Mem.' iv, 217). "The K. of Prussia would have to place himself at the head of the army-and just see how completely that would upset all his habits !' said a courtier. Bresson, however, says that his whole entourage was composed of 'excellent persons who were anxious only to end their days in peace.' Talleyrand, ‘Mem.' v,
331. $ Prussia, according to Talleyrand (“Mem.' iii, 238), was at first determined to act only along with Great Britain.
$ ' Memoirs,' v, 411, Metternich to Martinitz, Nov. 13, 1832.
the 'exaggerated' care which the Three Courts have taken to prevent any alliance between France and England. He imputes it to them as a grave mistake. Once their fear became known, the Two Courts played on it. If fear is a bad counsellor, it is still worse to show oneself afraid.'* But, beyond that, the personnel of the Conference was mediocre. Its members were as wax in the hands of Talleyrand, backed for party reasons by Palmerston.
'Les plénipotentiaires des Trois Cours se sont laissé enjôler par des considérations anglaises et françaises, que je suis le premier à vouloir ménager—mais non pas aux dépens du bon droit et de le saine logique.' †
'Je plains les individus qui ont comprise cette conférence, .... les réprésentants de l'Empereur étaient placés à l'arrièreplan, et .... les réprésentants de Russie et celui de Prusse, surtout le dernier, n'ont fait que caresser le Cabinet britannique, sans avoir égard aux principes où aux convenances de leurs cours.' 1
More important than all, the Three Courts were far from the scene of action and from each other; and they had no sea-power at hand.
The neutralisation of Belgium was excogitated subsequently (by Talleyrand) as a means of dissolving frontier difficulties which arose when the precise boundaries of the new kingdom came to be determined. It was an arrière-pensée. The boundary question was provoking, and did not interest him. Neutralisation was an expedient serving to cut the Gordian knot. He expected it to prove solid; and indeed it stood the strain of one Franco-Prussian war. He feared for it only if there should again arise 'a wild and revolutionary France.' It was proposed, discussed and accepted in one day, after a
* Metternich to Schwarzenberg, Oct. 13, 1832; ‘Memoirs,' v, 405. † Ib. vi, p. 146. Metternich to Apponyi, Dec. 3, 1831.
Metternich, vi, 271. Princess Lieven also observes (“Corr. with Earl Grey,' ii, 86)— We have no superabundance of cleverness in the Diplomatic Corps in London.' Later (Oct. 4, 1830), she observes—Matuscewitz is running all over the country, and shooting-staying with the Wiltons for ten days—when, with such important events pending, he ought to be staying quietly in London.'
$ Cf. Metternich, vi, 148, 417, and passim. Vol. 222.--No. 442.