PP/GC/PO/115 Letter from Lord Ponsonby to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, concerning the conditions on the election of Prince Leopold as King of the Belgians, 26 May 1831
Letter from John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, [British Joint Commissioner of the London Conference to the provisional government of Belgium], Brussels, to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: everything in Brussels is prepared for the almost unanimous election of Prince Leopold, but it is solely on condition of his acceptance of the constitution and taking the oath, which means a rejection of the bases [de separation]. Ponsonby has seen General Belliard and others well acquainted with the state of affairs, and they say that it is useless to hope for any change from the Belgians. General Belliard has written to Prince Talleyrand laying before him arguments which Ponsonby has often put to Palmerston and which he has stated to some of the plenipotentiaries, that when the Belgians consent to buy the disputed territories, they virtually acknowledge the property to be the possession of Holland, and that it might be possible for the Conference to make advantage of that virtual admission to evade the enforcement of a public submission on the part of the Congress to the dictates of the protocol of 20 [May]. The people of Luxembourg, who were previously the most "violent" about honour, are now more concerned about the interests of Belgium as dependent on Limburg. The Parisian Association has given instructions to its "affides" in Belgium to vote for Leopold. "There is treachery of some sort in this, but if it could produce the election, we need not disturb ourselves on that head. That, however, is out of the question." General Belliard proposes to have the time limit within which he and Ponsonby are ordered to act decisively extended some days beyond 1 June, even to 10 June. Ponsonby has not had time to communicate with anybody in Belgium, so can form no opinion of the possibility of bringing people to a better judgement of their own interests by anything he can say in obedience to Palmerston's instructions. Everybody he has seen believes that "the thing is impossible". Ponsonby thinks that Palmerston must prepare to use force, unless he chooses to concede. The messenger will leave the following day and Ponsonby will write more fully, perhaps with better information. He had told Palmerston what he expected to find in Belgium. 26 May 1831 The letter is marked: "Private", and it is noted on the docket that it was received on 28 May 1831.
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John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, later first Viscount Ponsonby, British Joint Commissioner of the London Conference to the provisional government of Belgium
Belgium: revolt; revolution; independence
Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, later Leopold I, King of the Belgians
General Auguste Daniel, Comte Belliard, French Joint Commissioner of the London Conference to the provisional government of Belgium
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, Prince de Benevent, French ambassador at London
London Conference on Belgian independence
Limburg, or Limbourg, or Limberg, province, Belgium
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