PP/GC/PO/79 Letter from Lord Ponsonby to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, concerning the election of Belgian regent and the new Belgian ministry, 1 March 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: the day after the regent's election, Ponsonby sent a message to him by Baron Joseph d'Hooghvorst, "saying that I did not go to pay my respects to him on his election, not knowing how he would like me to do so in my individual character, before I had made my government acquainted with his nomination and received their instructions on that point". He has had no answer to his message, and has not received any notification from Van der Weyer of his appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs. Ponsonby thought it best, under these circumstances, to say nothing and do nothing in relation to etiquette, but simply to send a note returning that of the President and Minister of the Committee, in which they refused protocols twelve and thirteen, directing the note to Van der Weyer as Minister for Foreign Affairs, and leaving it to him and his government to take the steps they thought proper. Ponsonby can then act afterwards in whatever way is fitting. Ponsonby has received no communication about Maastricht from the government. He suspects it is their intention to disregard as much as possible everything that comes out from the Conference. Surlet de Chokier is just a tool in the hands of the old provisional government, that is to say, of France, but he is still a man of some principle and Ponsonby hopes he may be approachable in time. His ministers dread Ponsonby being on good terms with him, but Ponsonby hopes, with patience, to defeat them. The change in the government will give no relief to Belgium. Poverty and misery are increasing with undiminished rapidity. Discontent is universal and only kept down by fear. The loan which Ponsonby mentioned, which he was originally told had been obtained, was not concluded. There is no money in the Treasury. They hope to raise about 2,000,000 pounds in the year, although many people think they will not succeed, as there is ruin everywhere. Louis Philippe had private agents at Brussels during the election of Nemours, who corresponded directly with him by the post: Lallemand, a son of the General, and Le Grand communicated with Surlet de Chokier and Bresson. Ponsonby encloses a letter he received from Chabot in answer to his letter of 19 [February]. Ponsonby asks Palmerston to send the copy of his own letter back and also let him have the letter he is now sending back again when he has read it. He hopes what he has done has been of some use. He has enough to say about the Prince of Orange to tire Palmerston to death, but everything is currently at a standstill. There will probably be a minor movement at Liege. Palmerston's suspicions about the Prince's intentions concerning the constitution are not without foundation. Ponsonby doubts if anybody will be found in six months time willing to speak for the constitution. "People are sick to death of Liberty." Ponsonby is pleased that Palmerston has written to France. He has believed for a long time that the main points must all be settled at Paris, since the government in Belgium is purely French, unless the Congress is dissolved and the government changed, which may happen sooner than some expect. Van der Weyer has been frightened nearly to death and was almost assassinated that morning. A Frenchman, one of General Mellinet's corps, snapped a pistol at his head, which luckily missed fire. It is said that since his arrest the man has thrown money to people around him and cried "Vive le Prince d'Orange", although Ponsonby suspects this latter part is a lie made up to benefit Van der Weyer and his party. The first aide de camp of the regent, Colonel Charles de Rogier, the patriot and member of the provisional government, "had his ears box'd this morning for refusing to meet a man he had insulted" and he "bore the gentle chastisement with the greatest good humour and as much humility as if he were a Christian". All the newspapers report that a messenger has passed through Brussels from the French government to General Dain who commands the Belgian troops before Maastricht. Ponsonby does not know whether this is true. 1 Mar 1831 The letter is marked: "Private" and it is noted on the docket that it was received on 4 March 1831. Ponsonby's correspondence with Chabot, to which he alludes, is numbered PP/GC/PO/77 and PP/GC/PO/78.
Two papers
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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
Erasme Louis, Baron Surlet de Chokier, President of the Belgian Congress, Regent of Belgium
Joseph Marie Jean van der Linden, Baron van Hooghvorst, or Hoogvorst, member of the Belgian Congress
Sylvain van der Weyer, Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs
Maastricht, Netherlands
London Conference on Belgian independence
Louis Philippe, King of the French
Louis, Duc de Nemours, second son of Louis Philippe, King of the French
M. Lallemand
General Charles Francois Antoine, Comte Lallemand, member of the French Chamber of Peers
M. le Grand
Charles Joseph Bresson, later Comte Bresson, French Joint Commissioner of the London Conference of the provisional government of Belgium
Louis William Rohan-Chabot, Vicomte de Chabot
Liege, Belgium
General Francois Aime Mellinet, French commander of the troops blockading Maastricht
Colonel Charles Latour Rogier, member of the Belgian provisional government
General Nicolas Joseph Daine, alias Dain, of the Belgian army, commander of Limberg province
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