So far all had gone smoothly with the course of the revolutionary movement, so much so that its leaders seem almost to have forgotten that the land was in the occupation of a foreign conqueror. The unqualified recognition of Batavian independence, however, in the proclamation by Daendels had caused dissatisfaction in Paris. The Committee of Public Safety had no intention of throwing away the fruits of victory; and two members of the Convention, Cochon and Ramel, were despatched to Holland to report upon the condition of affairs. They arrived at the Hague on February 7. Both reports recommended that a war-indemnity should be levied on the Republic, but counselled moderation, for, though the private wealth of the Dutch was potentially large, the State was practically insolvent. These proposals were too mild to please the Committee of Public Safety. The new States-General had sent (March 3) two envoys, Van Blauw and Meyer, to Paris with instructions to propose a treaty of alliance and of commerce with France, to ask for the withdrawal of the French troops and that the land should not be flooded with assignats. The independence of the Batavian Republic was taken for granted. Very different were the conditions laid before them by Merlin de Douat, Rewbell and Sieyes. A war contribution of 100,000,000 florins was demanded, to be paid in ready money within three months, a loan of like amount at 3 per cent, and the surrender of all territory south of the Waal together with Dutch Flanders, Walcheren and South Beveland. Moreover there was to be no recognition of Batavian independence until a satisfactory treaty on the above lines was drawn up.
These hard conditions were on March 23 rejected by the States-General. Wiser counsels however prevented this point-blank refusal being sent to Paris, and it was hoped that a policy of delay might secure better terms. The negotiations went on slowly through March and April; and, as Blauw and Meyer had no powers as accredited plenipotentiaries, the Committee determined to send Rewbell and Sieyes to the Hague, armed with full authority to push matters through.
The envoys reached the Hague on May 8, and found the States-General in a more yielding mood than might have been expected from their previous attitude. Rewbell and Sieyes knew how to play upon the fears of the Provisional Government by representing to them that, if the terms they offered were rejected, their choice lay between French annexation or an Orange restoration. Four members were appointed by the States-General with full powers to negotiate. The conferences began on May 11; and in five days an agreement was reached. The Batavian Republic, recognised as a free and independent State, entered into an offensive and defensive alliance with the French Republic. But the Dutch had to cede Maestricht, Venloo and Dutch Flanders and to pay an indemnity of 100,000,000 florins. Flushing was to receive a French garrison, and its harbour was to be used in common by the two powers; 25,000 French troops were to be quartered in the Republic and were to be fed, clothed and paid. The Dutch were compelled to permit the free circulation of the worthless assignats in their country.
One of the first results of this treaty was a breach with Great Britain. The Dutch coast was blockaded; British fleets stopped all sea-borne commerce; and the Dutch colonies in the East and West Indies were one after the other captured. The action of the Prince of Orange made this an easy task. William placed in the hands of the British commanders letters addressed to the governors of the Dutch colonies ordering them "to admit the troops sent out on behalf of his Britannic Majesty and to offer no resistance to the British warships, but to regard them as vessels of a friendly Power." The Cape of Good Hope surrendered to Admiral Rodney; and in quick succession followed Malacca, Ceylon and the Moluccas. A squadron of nine ships under Rear-Admiral Lucas, sent out to recover the Cape and the other East Indian possessions, was compelled to surrender to the English in Saldanha Bay on August 17, 1796, almost without resistance, owing to the Orange sympathies of the crews. The West Indian Colonies fared no better. Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice capitulated in the spring of 1796; Surinam remained in Dutch hands until 1799; Java until 1801. The occupation by the English of this island, the most important of all the Dutch overseas possessions, made the tale of their colonial losses complete. The offensive and defensive alliance with France had thus brought upon the Republic, as a trading and colonial power, a ruin which the efforts of the provisional government under French pressure to re-organise and strengthen their naval and military forces had been unable to prevent. The erstwhile exiles, Daendels and Dumonceau, who had attained the rank of generals in the French service, were on their return entrusted with the task of raising an army of 36,000 men, disciplined and equipped on the French system. The navy was dealt with by a special Committee, of which Pieter Paulus was the energetic president. Unfortunately for the Committee, a large proportion of the officers and crews were strongly Orangist. Most of the officers resigned, and it was necessary to purge the crews. Their places had to be supplied by less experienced and trustworthy material; but Vice-Admiral Jan de Winter did his utmost to create a fleet in fit condition to join the French and Spanish fleets in convoying an expeditionary force to make a descent upon the coast of Ireland. In July, 1797, eighty ships were concentrated at the Texel with troops on board, ready to join the Franco-Spanish squadrons, which were to sail from Brest. But the junction was never effected. Week after week the Dutch admiral was prevented from leaving the Texel by contrary winds. The idea of an invasion of Ireland was given up, but so great was the disappointment in Holland and such the pressure exerted on De Winter by the Commission of Foreign Affairs, that he was obliged against his will to put to sea on October 7, and attack the English fleet under the command of Admiral Duncan, who was blockading the Dutch coast. The number of vessels on the two sides was not unequal, but neither officers nor crews under De Winter could compare in seamanship and experience with their opponents. The fleets met off Camperdown and the Dutch fought with their traditional bravery, but the defeat was complete. Out of sixteen ships of the line nine were taken, including the flag-ship of De Winter himself.
Meanwhile there had arisen strong differences of opinion in the Republic as to the form of government which was to replace the old confederacy of seven sovereign provinces. No one probably wished to continue a system which had long proved itself obsolete and unworkable. But particularism was still strong, especially in the smaller provinces. The country found itself divided into two sharply opposed parties of Unitarians and federalists. The Unitarians were the most active, and meetings were held all over the country by the local Jacobin clubs. Finally it was determined to hold a central meeting of delegates from all the clubs at the Hague. The meeting took place on Jan. 26, 1796, and resolutions were passed in favour of summoning a National Convention to draw up a new constitution on Unitarian lines. Holland and Utrecht pressed the matter forward in the States-General, and they had the support of Gelderland and Overyssel, but Zeeland, Friesland and Groningen refused their assent. Their action was very largely financial, as provinces whose indebtedness was small dreaded lest unification should increase their burden. But even in the recalcitrant provinces there were a large number of moderate men; and through the intervention of the French ambassador, Noeel, who gave strong support to the Unitarians, the proposal of Holland for a National Assembly to meet on March 1 was carried (February 18) by a unanimous vote. The following Provisional Regulation was then rapidly drawn up by a special committee. The land was divided into districts each containing 15,000 inhabitants; these again into fundamental assemblies (grondvergaderingen) of 500 persons; each of these assemblies chose an "elector" (kiezer); and then the group of thirty electors chose a deputy to represent the district. The National Assembly was in this way to consist of one hundred and twenty-six members; its deliberations were to be public, the voting individualistic and the majority to prevail. A Commission of twenty-one deputies was to be appointed, who were to frame a draft-Constitution, which after approval by the Assembly was to be submitted to the whole body of the people for acceptance or rejection.
The Assembly, having duly met on March 1, 1796, in the Binnenhof at the Hague, elected Pieter Paulus as their president, but had the misfortune to lose his experienced direction very speedily. He had for some time been in bad health, and on March 17 he died. It fell to his lot to assist at the ceremonial closing of the last meeting of the States-General, which had governed the Republic of the United Netherlands for more than two centuries.
The National Assembly reflected the pronounced differences of opinion in the land. Orangist opinion had no representatives, although possibly more than half the population had Orange sympathies. All the deputies had accepted in principle French revolutionary ideas, but there were three distinct parties, the unitarians, the moderates and the federalists. The moderates, who were in a majority, occupied, as their name implied, an intermediate position between the unitarians or revolutionary party, who wished for a centralised republic after the French model, and the federalists or conservatives, who aimed at retaining so far as possible the rights of the several provinces and towns to manage their own affairs. The leaders of the unitarians were Vreede, Midderigh, Valckenier and Gogel; of the moderates Schimmelpenninck, Hahn and Kantelaur; of the federalists, Vitringa, Van Marle and De Mist. After the death of Pieter Paulus the most influential man in an Assembly composed of politicians mostly without any parliamentary experience was the eloquent and astute Schimmelpenninck, whose opportunist moderation sprang from a natural dislike of extreme courses.
One of the first cares of the Assembly was the appointment of the Commission of twenty-one members to draw up a draft Constitution. The (so-styled) Regulation, representing the views of the moderate majority, was presented to the Assembly on November 10. The Republic was henceforth to be a unified state governed by the Sovereign People; but the old provinces, though now named departments, were to retain large administrative rights and their separate financial quotas. The draft met fierce opposition from the unitarians, but after much discussion and many amendments it was at length accepted by the majority. It had, however, before becoming law, to be submitted to the people; and the network of Jacobin clubs throughout the country, under the leadership of the central club at Amsterdam, carried on a widespread and secret revolutionary propaganda against the Regulation. They tried to enlist the open co-operation of the French ambassador, Noel, but he, acting under the instruction of the cautious Talleyrand, was not disposed to commit himself.
The unitarian campaign was so successful that the Regulation, on being submitted to the Fundamental Assemblies, was rejected by 136,716 votes to 27,955. In these circumstances, as had been previously arranged by the Provisional Government, it was necessary to summon another National Assembly to draw up another draft Constitution. It met on September 1, 1797. The moderates, though they lost some seats, were still in a majority; and the new Commission of Twenty-One had, as before, federalistic leanings. The Unitarians, therefore, without awaiting their proposals, under the leadership of the stalwart revolutionary, Vreede, determined to take strong action. The coup d'etat they planned was helped forward by two events. The first was the revolution in Paris of September 4, 1797, which led to the replacing of ambassador Noel by the pronounced Jacobin, Charles Delacroix. The other event was the disaster which befell the Dutch fleet at Camperdown, the blame for which was laid upon the Provisional Government.
Vreede and his confederates being assured by Delacroix of the supportof the new French Directory, and of the co-operation of the French General Joubert and of Daendels, the commander of the Batavian army, chose for the execution of their plan the week in which Midderigh, one of the confederates, took his turn as president of the Assembly. Midderigh, by virtue of his office, being in command of the Hague civic force, on January 22, 1798, seized and imprisoned the members of the Committee for Foreign Affairs and twenty-two members of the Assembly. The "Rump" then met, protected by a strong body of troops, and declared itself a Constituent Assembly representing the Batavian people. After the French model, an Executive Council was nominated, consisting of five members, Vreede, Fijnje, Fokker, Wildrik and Van Langen, and a new Commission of Seven to frame a Constitution. The "Regulation" was rejected; and the Assembly solemnly proclaimed its "unalterable aversion" to the stadholderate, federalism, aristocracy and governmental decentralisation.
French influence was henceforth paramount; and the draft of the new Constitution, in the framing of which Delacroix took a leading part, was ready on March 6. Eleven days later it was approved by the Assembly. The Fundamental Assemblies in their turn assented to it by 165,520 votes to 11,597, considerable official pressure being exerted to secure this result; and the Constitution came thus into legal existence. Its principal provisions were directed to the complete obliteration of the old provincial particularism. The land was divided into eight departments, whose boundaries in no case coincided with those of the provinces. Holland was split up among five departments; that of the Amstel, with Amsterdam as its capital, being the only one that did not contain portions of two or more provinces. Each department was divided into seven circles; each of these returned one member; and the body of seven formed the departmental government. The circles in their turn were divided into communes, each department containing sixty or seventy. All these local administrations were, however, quite subordinate to the authority exercised by the central Representative Body. For the purpose of electing this body the land was divided into ninety-four districts; each district into forty "Fundamental Assemblies," each of 500 persons. The forty "electors" chosen by these units in their turn elected the deputy for the department. The ninety-four deputies formed the Representative Body, which was divided into two Chambers. The Second Chamber of thirty members was annually chosen by lot from the ninety-four, the other sixty-four forming the First Chamber. The framing and proposing of all laws was the prerogative of the First Chamber. The Second Chamber accepted or rejected these proposed laws, but for a second rejection a two-thirds majority was required. The Executive Power was vested in a Directorate of five persons, one of whom was to retire every year. To supply his place the Second Chamber chose one out of three persons selected by the First Chamber. The Directorate had the assistance of eight agents or ministers: Foreign Affairs, War, Marine, Finance, Justice, Police, Education, and Economy. Finance was nationalised, all charges and debts being borne in common. Church and State were separated, payments to the Reformed ministers from the State ceasing in three years.
Such was the project, but it was not to be carried into effect without another coup d'etat. It was now the duty of the Constituent Assembly to proceed to the election of a Representative Body. Instead of this, on May 4, 1798, the Assembly declared itself to be Representative, so that power remained in the hands of the Executive Council, who were afraid of an election returning a majority of "moderates." But this autocratic act aroused considerable discontent amongst all except the extreme Jacobin faction. The opponents of the Executive Council found a leader in Daendels, who, strong "unionist" though he was, was dissatisfied with the arbitrary conduct of this self-constituted government, and more especially in matters connected with the army. Daendels betook himself to Paris, where he was favourably received by the Foreign Secretary, Talleyrand, and with his help was able to persuade the French Directory that it was not in their interest to support the Jacobin Council in their illegal retention of office. Daendels accordingly returned to Holland, where he found the French commander, Joubert, friendly to his project, and three of the "agents," including Pijman, the Minister of War, ready to help him. Placed in command of the troops at the Hague, Daendels (June 12, 1798) arrested the directors and the presidents of the two Chambers. The Constituent Assembly was dissolved and a new Representative Body was (July 31) elected. The moderates, as was expected, were in a considerable majority; and five members of that party, Van Hasselt, Hoeth, Van Haersolte, Van Hoeft and Ermerius were appointed Directors.
The country was now at length in the enjoyment of a settled constitution based upon liberal principles and popular representation. Daendels, though his influence was great, never attempted to play the part of a military dictator; and, though party passions were strong, no political persecutions followed. Nevertheless troubled times awaited the Batavian Republic, and the Constitution of 1798 was not to have a long life.
The Emperor Paul of Russia had taken up arms with Great Britain and Austria against revolutionary France, and the hopes of the Orange party began to rise. The hereditary prince was very active and, though he was unable to move his brother-in-law, the King of Prussia, to take active steps in his favour, he succeeded in securing the intervention of an Anglo-Russian force on his behalf. In August, 1798, a strong English fleet under Admiral Duncan appeared off Texel and in the name of the Prince of Orange demanded the surrender of the Batavian fleet which lay there under Rear-Admiral Story. Story refused. A storm prevented the English from taking immediate action; but on the 26th a landing of troops was effected near Callantroog and the Batavian forces abandoned the Helder. Story had withdrawn his fleet to Vlieter, but Orangist sympathies were strong among his officers and crews, and he was compelled to surrender. The ships, hoisting the Orange flag, became henceforth a squadron attached to the English fleet. Such was the humiliating end of the Batavian navy. The efforts of the hereditary prince to stir up an insurrection in Overyssel and Gelderland failed; and he thereupon joined the Anglo-Russian army, which, about 50,000 strong, was advancing under the command of the Duke of York to invade Holland. But York was an incompetent commander; there was little harmony between the British and Russian contingents; and the French and Batavians under Generals Brune and Daendels inflicted defeats upon them at Bergen (September 19), and at Castricum (October 6). York thereupon entered upon negotiations with Brune and was allowed to re-embark his troops for England, after restoration of the captured guns and prisoners. The expedition was a miserable fiasco.
At the very time when the evacuation of North Holland by invading armies was taking place, the Directory in Paris had been overthrown by Bonaparte (18 Brumaire, or Nov. 20), who now, with the title of First Consul, ruled France with dictatorial powers. The conduct of the Batavian government during these transactions had not been above suspicion; and Bonaparte at once replaced Brune by Augereau, and sent Semonville as ambassador in place of Deforgues. He was determined to compel the Batavian Republic to comply strictly with the terms imposed by the treaty of 1795, and demanded more troops and more money. In vain the Executive Council, by the mouth of its ambassador, Schimmelpenninck, protested its inability to satisfy those demands. Augereau was inexorable, and there was no alternative but to obey. But the very feebleness of the central government made Bonaparte resolve on a revision of the constitution in an anti-democratic direction. Augereau acted as an intermediary between him and the Executive Council. Three of the directors favoured his views, the other two opposed them. The Representative Body, however, rejected all proposals for a revision. On this the three called in the aid of Augereau, who suspended the Representative Body and closed the doors of its hall of meeting. The question was now referred to the Fundamental Assemblies. On October 1, 1801, the voting resulted in 52,279 noes against 16,771 yeas. About 350,000 voters abstained, but these were declared to be "yeas"; and the new constitution became on October 16 the law of the land.
The Constitution of 1801 placed the executive power in the hands of a State-Government of twelve persons. The three directors chose seven others, who in their turn chose five more, amongst these the above-named three, to whom they owed their existence. With this State-Government was associated a Legislative Body of 35 members, who met twice in the year and whose only function was to accept without amendment, or to reject, the proposals of the Executive Body. The "agents" were abolished and replaced by small councils, who administered the various departments of State. Considerable administrative powers were given to the local governments, and the boundaries of the eight departments, Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Overyssel (in which Drente was included), Gelderland, Groningen, Friesland, and Brabant, were made to coincide largely with those of the old provinces. The aim of the new Constitution was efficiency, the reconciliation of the moderate elements both of the federalist and unitarian parties, and the restraint alike of revolutionary and Orangist intrigues.
It began its course in fortunate circumstances. The long-wished-for peace was concluded at Amiens on March 27, 1802. It was signed by Schimmelpenninck, as the representative of the Batavian Republic, but he had not been allowed to have any influence upon the decisions. Great Britain restored all the captured colonies, except Ceylon; and the house of Orange was indemnified by the grant of the secularised Bishopric of Fulda, the abbeys of Korvey and Weingarten, together with the towns of Dortmund, Isny and Buchhorn. The hereditary prince, as his father refused to reside in this new domain, undertook the duties of government. William V preferred to live on his Nassau Estates. He died at Brunswick in 1806.
The peace was joyfully welcomed in Holland, for it removed the British blockade and gave a promise of the revival of trade. But all the hopes of better times were blighted with the fresh outbreak of war in 1803. All the colonial possessions were again lost; and a new treaty of alliance, which the State-Government was compelled to conclude with France, led to heavy demands. The Republic was required to provide for the quartering and support of 18,000 French troops and 16,000 Batavians under a French general. Further, a fleet of ten ships of war was to be maintained, and 350 flat-bottomed transports built for the conveyance of an invading army to England. These demands were perforce complied with. Nevertheless Napoleon was far from satisfied with the State-Government, which he regarded as inefficient and secretly hostile.
In Holland itself it was hated, because of the heavy charges it was obliged to impose. Bonaparte accordingly determined to replace it and to concentrate the executive power in a single person. The Legislative Body was to remain, but the head of the State was to bear the title of council-pensionary, and was to be elected for a period of five years. Schimmelpenninck was designated for this post. Referred to a popular vote, the new Constitution was approved by 14,230 against 136; about 340,000 abstained from voting. On April 29, 1805, Schimmelpenninck entered into office as council-pensionary. He was invested with monarchical authority. The executive power, finance, the army and navy, the naming of ambassadors, the proposing of legislation, were placed in his hands. He was assisted by a Council of State, nominated by himself, of five members, and by six Secretaries of State. The Legislative Body was reduced to nineteen members, appointed by the Departmental Governments. They met twice in the year and could accept or reject the proposals of the council-pensionary, but not amend them.
Schimmelpenninck was honest and able, and during the brief period of his administration did admirable work. With the aid of the accomplished financier Gogel, who had already done much good service to his country in difficult circumstances, he, by spreading the burdens of taxation equally over all parts of the land and by removing restrictive customs and duties, succeeded in reducing largely the deficits in the annual balance-sheet. He also was the first to undertake seriously the improvement of primary education. But it was not Napoleon's intention to allow the council-pensionary to go on with the good work he had begun. The weakening of Schimmelpenninck's eyesight, through cataract, gave the emperor the excuse for putting an end to what he regarded as a provisional system of government, and for converting Holland into a dependent kingdom under the rule of his brother Louis. Admiral Verhuell, sent to Paris at Napoleon's request on a special mission, was bluntly informed that Holland must choose between the acceptance of Louis as their king, or annexation. On Verhuell's return with the report of the emperor's ultimatum, the council-pensionary (April 10, 1806) summoned the Council of State, the Secretaries and the Legislative Body to meet together as an Extraordinary Committee and deliberate on what were best to be done. It was resolved to send a deputation to Paris to try to obtain from Napoleon the relinquishment, or at least a modification, of his demand. Their efforts were in vain; Napoleon's attitude was peremptory. The Hague Committee must within a week petition that Louis Bonaparte might be their king, or he would take the matter into his own hands. The Committee, despite the opposition of Schimmelpenninck, finding resistance hopeless, determined to yield. The deputation at Paris was instructed accordingly to co-operate with the emperor in the framing of a new monarchical constitution. It was drawn up and signed on May 23; and a few days later it was accepted by the Hague Committee. Schimmelpenninck, however, refused to sign it and resigned his office on June 4, explaining in a dignified letter his reasons for doing so. Verhuell, at the head of a deputation (June 5), now went through the farce of begging the emperor in the name of the Dutch people to allow his brother, Louis, to be their king. Louis accepted the proffered sovereignty "since the people desires and Your Majesty commands it." On June 15 the new king left Paris and a week later arrived at the Hague, accompanied by his wife, Hortense de Beauharnais, Napoleon's step-daughter.
* * * * *
THE KINGDOM OF HOLLAND AND THE FRENCH ANNEXATION, 1806-1814
Louis Bonaparte was but 28 years old, and of a kindly, gentle character very unlike his self-willed, domineering brother. He was weakly, and his ill-health made him at times restless and moody. He had given great satisfaction by his declaration that "as soon as he set foot on the soil of his kingdom he became a Hollander," and he was well received. The constitution of the new kingdom differed little from that it superseded. The Secretaries of State became Ministers, and the number of members of the Legislative Body was raised to thirty-nine. The king had power to conclude treaties with foreign States without consulting the Legislative Body. The partition of the country was somewhat changed, Holland being divided into two departments, Amstelland and Maasland. Drente became a separate department; and in 1807 East Friesland with Jever was made into an eleventh department, as compensation for Flushing, which was annexed to France.
Louis came to the Hague with the best intentions of doing his utmost to promote the welfare of his kingdom, but from the first he was thwarted by the deplorable condition of the national finances. Out of a total income of fifty million florins the interest on the national debt absorbed thirty-five millions. The balance was not nearly sufficient to defray the costs of administration, much less to meet the heavy demands of Napoleon for contributions to war expenditure. All the efforts of the finance minister Gogel to reduce the charges and increase the income were of small avail. The king was naturally lavish, and he spent considerable sums in the maintenance of a brilliant court, and in adding to the number of royal residences. Dissatisfied with the Hague, he moved first to Utrecht, then to Amsterdam, where the Stadhuis was converted into a palace; and he bought the Pavilion at Haarlem as a summer abode. All this meant great expenditure. 'Louis was vain, and was only prevented from creating marshals of his army and orders of chivalry by Napoleon's stern refusal to permit it. He had to be reminded that by the Bonaparte family-law he was but a vassal king, owning allegiance to the emperor.
Despite these weaknesses Louis did much for the land of his adoption. The old Rhine at Leyden, which lost itself in the dunes, was connected by a canal with Katwijk on the sea, where a harbour was created. The dykes and waterways were repaired and improved, and high-roads constructed from the Hague to Leyden, and from Utrecht to Het Loo. Dutch literature found in Louis a generous patron. He took pains to learn the language from the instruction of Bilderdijk, the foremost writer of his day. The foundation in 1808 of the "Royal Netherland Institute for Science, Letters and the Fine Arts" was a signal mark of his desire to raise the standard of culture in Holland on a national basis. The introduction of the Code Napoleon, with some necessary modifications, replaced a confused medley of local laws and customs, varying from province to province, by a general unified legal system. As a statesman and administrator Louis had no marked ability, but the ministers to whom he entrusted the conduct of affairs, Verhuell, minister of marine, Roell, of foreign affairs, Kragenhoff, of war, Van Maanen, of justice, and more especially the experienced Gogel, in control of the embarrassed finances, were capable men.
The state of the finances indeed was the despair of the Dutch government. The imperious demands of Napoleon for the maintenance of an army of 40,000 men, to be employed by him on foreign campaigns, and also of a considerable navy, made all attempts at economy and re-organisation of the finances almost hopeless. By the war with England the Dutch had lost their colonies and most of their great sea-borne trade; and the situation was rendered more difficult by the Decree of Berlin in 1806 and the establishment of the "Continental System" by the emperor, as a reply to the British blockade. All trade and even correspondence with England were forbidden. He hoped thus to bring England to her knees; but, though the decree did not achieve this object, it did succeed in bringing utter ruin upon the Dutch commercial classes. In vain Louis protested; he was not heard and only met with angry rebukes from his brother for not taking more vigorous steps to stop smuggling, which the character of the Dutch coast rendered a comparatively easy and, at the same time, lucrative pursuit.
The overthrow of Austria and Prussia by Napoleon in 1805 and 1806, followed in 1807 by the Peace of Tilsit with Russia, made the emperor once more turn his attention to the project of an invasion of his hated enemy, England. A great French fleet was to be concentrated on the Scheldt, with Antwerp and Flushing for its bases. For this purpose large sums of money were expended in converting Antwerp into a formidable naval arsenal. But the British government were well aware of "the pistol that was being aimed at England's breast"; and in 1809 a powerful expedition under the command of Lord Chatham was despatched, consisting of more than 100 warships and transports, with the object of destroying these growing dockyards and arsenals, and with them the threat of invasion. The attack was planned at a favourable moment, for the defensive force was very small, the bulk of the Dutch army having been sent to fight in the Austrian and Spanish campaigns, and the French garrisons greatly reduced. Chatham landed on the island of Walcheren, captured Middelburg and Veere and on August 15 compelled Flushing to surrender after such a furious bombardment that scarcely any houses remained standing. The islands of Schouwen, Duiveland and Zuid-Beveland were overrun; and, had the British general pushed on without delay, Antwerp might have fallen. But this he failed to do; and meanwhile Louis had collected, for the defence of the town, a force of 20,000 men, which, to his deep chagrin, Napoleon did not allow him to command. No attack however was made on Antwerp by the British, who had suffered severely from the fevers of Walcheren; and on the news of Wagram and the Treaty of Schoenbrunn they slowly evacuated their conquests. Before the end of the year the whole force had returned to England.
This invasion, though successfully repelled, only accentuated the dissensions between the two brothers. French troops remained in occupation of Zeeland; and the French army of the north at Antwerp, now placed under the command of Marshal Oudinot, lay ready to enforce the demands of the emperor should the Dutch government prove recalcitrant. Those demands included the absolute suppression of smuggling, the strictest enforcement of the decrees against trading with England, conscription, and a repudiation of a portion of the State debt. Napoleon overwhelmed his brother with bitter gibes and angry threats, declaring that he wished to make Holland an English colony, and that the whole land, even his own palace, was full of smuggled goods. At last, though unwillingly, Louis consented to go in person to Paris and try to bring about an amicable settlement of the questions at issue. He arrived on December 26, intending to return at the New Year, meanwhile leaving the Council of Ministers in charge of the affairs of the kingdom. He soon found not only that his mission was in vain, but that he was regarded virtually as a prisoner. For three months he remained in Paris under police surveillance; and his interviews with his brother were of the most stormy description. The Dutch Council, alarmed by the constant threat of French invasion, at first thought of putting Amsterdam into a state of defence, but finally abandoned the idea as hopeless. The king did his utmost to appease Napoleon by the offer of concessions, but his efforts were scornfully rejected, and at last he was compelled (March 16, 1810) to sign a treaty embodying the terms dictated by the emperor. "I must," he said, "at any price get out of this den of murderers." By this treaty Brabant and Zeeland and the land between the Maas and the Waal, with Nijmwegen, were ceded to France. All commerce with England was forbidden. French custom-house officers were placed at the mouths of the rivers and at every port. Further, the Dutch were required to deliver up fifteen men-of-war and one hundred gunboats.
Louis was compelled to remain at Paris for the marriage of Napoleon with Marie Louise, but was then allowed to depart. Discouraged and humiliated, he found himself, with the title of king, practically reduced to the position of administrative governor of some French departments. Oudinot's troops were in occupation of the Hague, Utrecht and Leyden; and, when the emperor and his bride paid a state visit to Antwerp, Louis had to do him homage. The relations between the two brothers had for some time been strained, Napoleon having taken the part of his step-daughter Hortense, who preferred the gaiety of Paris to the dull court of her husband, reproached the injured man for not treating better the best of wives. Matters were now to reach their climax. The coachman of the French ambassador, Rochefoucault, having met with maltreatment in the streets of Amsterdam, the emperor angrily ordered Rochefoucault to quit the Dutch capital (May 29), leaving only a charge d'affaires, and at the same time dismissed Verhuell, the Dutch envoy, from Paris. This was practically a declaration of war. The Council of Ministers, on being consulted, determined that it was useless to attempt the defence of Amsterdam; and, when the king learned towards the end of June that Oudinot had orders to occupy the city, he resolved to forestall this final humiliation by abdication. On July 1, 1810, he signed the deed by which he laid down his crown in favour of his elder son, Napoleon Louis, under the guardianship of Queen Hortense. He then left the country, and retired into Bohemia.
To this disposition of the kingdom Napoleon, who had already made up his mind, paid not the slightest heed. On July 9 an Imperial Decree incorporated Holland in the French empire. "Holland," said the emperor, "being formed by the deposits of three French rivers, the Rhine, the Meuse and the Scheldt, was by nature a part of France." Not till January 1, 1811, was the complete incorporation to take place; meanwhile Le Brun, Duke of Piacenza, a man of 72 years of age, was sent to Amsterdam to be governor-general during the period of transition. It was a wise appointment, as Le Brun was a man of kindly disposition, ready to listen to grievances and with an earnest desire to carry out the transformation of the government in a conciliatory spirit. With him was associated, as Intendant of Home Affairs, Baron D'Alphonse, like himself of moderate views, and a Council of Ministers. A deputation of twenty-two persons from the Legislative Assembly was summoned to Paris for consultation with the Imperial Government. To Amsterdam was given the position of the third city in the empire, Paris being the first and Rome the second. The country was divided into nine departments—Bouches de l'Escaut, Bouches de la Meuse, Bouches du Rhin, Zuiderzee, Issel superieur, Bouches de Issel, Frise, Ems Occidental and Ems Oriental. Over the departments, as in France, were placed prefets and under them sous-prefets and maires. All the prefets now appointed were native Dutchmen with the exception of two, De Celles at Amsterdam and De Standaart at the Hague; both were Belgians and both rendered themselves unpopular by their efforts to gain Napoleon's favour by a stringent enforcement of his orders. The Dutch representation in the Legislative Assembly at Paris was fixed at twenty-five members; in the Senate at six members. When these took their seats, the Council of Affairs at Amsterdam was dissolved and at the same time the Code Napoleon unmodified became the law of the land.
Napoleon's demands upon Holland had always been met with the reply that the land's finances were unequal to the strain. The debt amounted to 40,000,000 fl.; and, despite heavy taxation, there was a large annual deficit in the budget. The emperor at once took action to remedy this state of things by a decree reducing the interest on the debt to one-third. This was a heavy blow to those persons whose limited incomes were mainly or entirely derived from investments in the State Funds—including many widows, and also hospitals, orphanages and other charitable institutions. At the same time this step should not be regarded as a mere arbitrary and dishonest repudiation of debt. The State was practically bankrupt. For some years only a portion of the interest or nothing at all had been paid; and the reduction in 1810 was intended to be but a temporary measure. The capital amount was left untouched, and the arrears of 1808 and 1809 were paid up at the new rate. That financial opinion was favourably impressed by this drastic action was shown by a considerable rise in the quotation of the Stock on the Bourse.
A far more unpopular measure was the introduction of military and naval conscription in 1811. There never had been any but voluntary service in Holland. Indeed during the whole period of the Republic, though the fleet was wholly manned by Dutch seamen, the army always included a large proportion of foreign mercenaries. By the law of 1811 all youths of twenty were liable to serve for five years either on land or sea; and the contingent required was filled by the drawing of lots. Deep and strong resentment was felt throughout the country, the more so that the law was made retrospective to all who had reached the age of twenty in the three preceding years. The battalions thus raised were treated as French troops, and were sent to take part in distant campaigns—in Spain and in Russia. Of the 15,000 men who marched with Napoleon into Russia in 1812 only a few hundreds returned.
The strict enforcement of the Continental System entailed great hardships upon the population. To such an extent was the embargo carried that all English manufactured goods found in Holland were condemned to be burnt; and the value of what was actually consumed amounted to millions of florins. A whole army of custom-house officers watched the coast, and every fishing smack that put to sea had one on board. At the same time not till 1812 was the customs barrier with France removed. In consequence of this prices rose enormously, industries were ruined, houses were given up and remained unoccupied, and thousands upon thousands were reduced to abject poverty. Such was the state of the treasury that in 1812 the reformed preachers received no stipends, and officials of all kinds had to be content with reduced salaries.
Nor were these the only causes of discontent. The police regulations and the censorship of the press were of the severest description, and the land swarmed with spies. No newspaper was permitted to publish any article upon matters of State or any political news except such as was sanctioned by the government, and with a French translation of the Dutch original. This applied even to advertisements. All books had to be submitted for the censor's imprimatur. Every household was subject to the regular visitation of the police, who made the most minute inquisition into the character, the opinions, the occupations and means of subsistence of every member of the household.
Nevertheless the French domination, however oppressive, had good results in that for the first time in their history the Dutch provinces acquired a real unity. All the old particularism disappeared with the burgher-aristocracies, and the party feuds of Orangists and patriots. A true sense of nationality was developed. All classes of the population enjoyed the same political rights and equality before the law. Napoleon himself was not unpopular. In the autumn of 1811 he, accompanied by Marie Louise, made a state-progress through this latest addition to his empire. Almost every important place was visited, and in all parts of the country he was received with outward demonstrations of enthusiasm and almost servile obsequiency. It is perhaps not surprising, as the great emperor was now at the very topmost height of his dazzling fortunes.
But for Holland Napoleon's triumphs had their dark side, for his chief and most determined enemy, England, was mistress of the seas; and the last and the richest of the Dutch colonies, Java, surrendered to the English almost on the very day that the Imperial progress began. Hearing of the activity of the British squadron in the Eastern seas, King Louis had, shortly after his acceptance of the crown, taken steps for the defence of Java by appointing Daendels, a man of proved vigour and initiative, governor-general. The difficulties of reaching Java in face of British vigilance were however well-nigh insurmountable, and it was not until a year after his nomination to the governorship that Daendels reached Batavia, on January 1, 1808. His measures for the defence of the island, including the construction of important highways, were most energetic, but so oppressive and high-handed as to arouse hostility and alienate the native chiefs. Napoleon, informed of Daendels' harsh rule, sent out Janssens with a body of troops to replace him. The new governor-general landed on April 27, 1811, but he could make no effective resistance to a powerful British expedition under General Auchmuty, which took possession of Batavia on August 4, and after some severe fighting compelled (September 17) the whole of the Dutch forces to capitulate.
The year of Napoleon's invasion of Russia, 1812, was a year of passive endurance. The safety of the remnant of the Grand Army was secured (November 28) by the courage and staunchness of the Dutch pontoon-engineers, who, standing in the ice-cold water of the Beresina, completed the bridge over which, after a desperate battle, the French troops effected their escape. The Moscow catastrophe was followed in 1813 by a general uprising of the oppressed peoples of Europe against the Napoleonic tyranny. In this uprising the Dutch people, although hopes of freedom were beginning to dawn upon them, did not for some time venture to take any part. The Prince of Orange however had been in London since April, trying to secure a promise of assistance from the British government in case of a rising; and he was working in collaboration with a number of patriotic men in Holland, who saw in an Orange restoration the best hopes for their country's independence. The news of Leipzig (October 14-16) roused them to action.
Foremost among these leaders was Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp. He had been one of the Orangist leaders at the time of the restoration of 1787 and had filled the post of pensionary of Rotterdam. After the French conquest he had withdrawn from public life. With him were associated Count Van Limburg-Stirum and Baron Van der Duyn van Maasdam, like himself residents at the Hague. Van Hogendorp could also count on a number of active helpers outside the Hague, prominent among whom were Falck, Captain of the National Guard at Amsterdam, and Kemper, a professor at Leyden. Plans were made for restoring the independence of the country under the rule of the Prince of Orange; but, in order to escape the vigilance of the French police, great care was taken to maintain secrecy, and nothing was committed to writing. The rapid march of allied troops, Russians and Prussians, towards the Dutch frontiers after Leipzig necessitated rapid action.
Van Hogendorp and his friends wished that Holland should free herself by her own exertions, for they were aware that reconquest by the allied forces might imperil their claims to independence. Their opportunity came when General Melliton, by order of the governor-general Le Brun, withdrew on November 14 from Amsterdam to Utrecht. One of the Orangist confederates, a sea-captain, named Job May, on the following day stirred up a popular rising in the city; and some custom-houses were burnt. Le Brun himself on this retreated to Utrecht and, on the 16th, after transferring the government of the country to Melliton, returned to France. Falck at the head of the National Guard had meanwhile re-established order at Amsterdam, and placed the town in charge of a provisional government. No sooner did this news reach the Hague than Van Hogendorp and Van Limburg-Stirum determined upon instant action (November 17). With a proclamation drawn up by Van Hogendorp, and at the head of a body of the National Guard wearing Orange colours, Van Limburg-Stirum marched through the streets to the Town Hall, where he read the proclamation declaring the Prince of Orange "eminent head of the State." No opposition being offered, after discussion with their chief supporters, the triumvirate, Van Hogendorp, Van Limburg-Stirum and Van der Duyn van Maasdam, took upon themselves provisionally the government of the country, until the arrival of the Prince. Emissaries were at once sent to Amsterdam to announce what had taken place at the Hague. At first the Amsterdammers showed some hesitation; and it was not until the arrival of a body of Cossacks at their gates (November 24), that the city openly threw in its lot with the Orangist movement, which now rapidly spread throughout the country. Without delay the provisional government despatched two envoys, Fagel and De Perponcher, to London, to inform the Prince of Orange of what had occurred and to invite him to Holland.
William had been in England since April and had met with a favourable reception. In an interview with the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Castlereagh, support had been promised him (April 27, 1813) on the following conditions: (1) the frontiers of Holland should be extended "either by a sort of new Barrier, more effective than the old one, or by the union of some portions of territory adjacent to the ancient Republic; (2) Holland must wait until such time as Great Britain should deem convenient in her own interests for the restoration of the Dutch colonies, which she had conquered during the war; (3) a system of government must be set up which would reconcile the wishes of Holland with those of the Powers called to exercise so powerful an influence upon her future." William had gone to London knowing that he could rely on the active assistance of his brother-in-law, Frederick William of Prussia, and of the Emperor Alexander I, and that the goodwill of England was assured by the projected marriage of his son (now serving under Wellington in Spain) with the Princess Charlotte, heiress-presumptive to the British throne. He now therefore without hesitation accepted the invitation, and landed at Scheveningen, November 30. He was received with unspeakable enthusiasm. At first there was some doubt as to what title William should bear and as to what should be the form of the new government. Van Hogendorp had drawn up a draft of a constitution on the old lines with an hereditary stadholder, a council-pensionary and a privileged aristocracy, but with large and necessary amendments, and the prince was himself inclined to a restoration of the stadholdership with enlarged powers. To the arguments of Kemper is the credit due of having persuaded him that a return to the old system, however amended, had now become impossible. The prince visited Amsterdam, December 2, and was there proclaimed by the title and quality of William I, Sovereign-Prince of the Netherlands. He refused the title of king, but the position he thus accepted with general approval was that of a constitutional monarch, and the promise was given that as soon as possible a Commission should be appointed to draw up a Fundamental Law (Grondwet) for the Dutch State.
* * * * *
THE FORMATION OF THE KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS, 1814-1815
When the Prince of Orange assumed the title of William I, Sovereign-Prince of the Netherlands, at Amsterdam, on December 2, 1813, the principal towns were still occupied by French garrisons; but with the help of the allied forces, Russians and Prussians, these were, in the opening months of 1814, one by one conquered. The Helder garrison, under the command of Admiral Verhuell, did not surrender till May. By the end of that month the whole land was freed.
The first step taken by the Sovereign-Prince (December 21) was to appoint a Commission to draw up a Fundamental Law according to his promise. The Commission consisted of fifteen members, with Van Hogendorp as president. Their labours were concluded early in March. The concept was on March 29 submitted to an Assembly of six hundred notables, summoned for the purpose, the voting to be 'for' or 'against' without discussion. The gathering took place in the Nieuwe Kerk at Amsterdam, Of the 474 who were present, 448 voted in favour of the new Constitution. On the following day the Prince of Orange took the oath in the Nieuwe Kerk and was solemnly inaugurated as Sovereign-Prince of the Netherlands.
The principal provisions of the Fundamental Law of March, 1814, were as follows:
The Sovereign shares the Legislative Power with the States-General, but alone exercises the Executive Power. All the sovereign prerogatives formerly possessed by provinces, districts or towns are now transferred to the Sovereign. He is assisted by a Council of State of twelve members, appoints and dismisses ministers, declares war and makes peace, has the control of finance and governs the overseas-possessions. The States-General consist of fifty-five members, elected by the nine provinces, Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Overyssel, Gelderland, Groningen, Friesland, Brabant and Drente on the basis of population. The members are elected for three years, but one-third vacate their seats every year. They have the right of legislative initiative, and of veto. The finances are divided into ordinary and extraordinary expenditure, over the former the States-General exercise no control, but a general Chamber of Accounts (Algemeene Rekenkamer) has the supervision over ways and means. The Sovereign must be a member of the Reformed Church, but equal protection is given by the State to all religious beliefs.
It was essentially an aristocratic constitution. At least one quarter of the States-General must belong to the nobility. The Provincial Estates had the control of local affairs only, but had the privilege of electing the members of the States-General. They were themselves far from being representative. For the country districts the members were chosen from the nobility and the land-owners; in the towns by colleges of electors (kiezers), consisting of those who paid the highest contributions in taxes. Except for the strengthening of the central executive power and the abolition of all provincial sovereign rights, the new Constitution differed little from the old in its oligarchic character.
It was, however, to be but a temporary arrangement. It has already been pointed out that, months before his actual return to Holland, the prince had received assurances from the British government that a strong Netherland State should be created, capable of being a barrier to French aggression. The time had now arrived for the practical carrying-out of this assurance. Accordingly Lord Castlereagh in January, 1814, when on his way, as British plenipotentiary, to confer with the Allied Sovereigns at Basel, visited the Sovereign-Prince at the Hague. The conversations issued in a proposal to unite (with the assent of Austria) the Belgic provinces as far as the Meuse to Holland together with the territory between the Meuse and the Rhine as far as the line Maestricht-Dueren-Cologne. Castlereagh submitted this project to the allies at Basel; and it was discussed and adopted in principle at the Conference of Chatillon (February 3 to March 15), the Austrian Emperor having renounced all claim to his Belgian dominions in favour of an equivalent in Venetia. This was done without any attempt to ascertain the wishes of the Belgian people on the proposed transference of their allegiance, and a protest was made. An assembly of notables, which had been summoned to Brussels by the military governor, the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, sent a deputation to the allied headquarters at Chaumont to express their continued loyalty to their Habsburg sovereign and to ask that, if the Emperor Francis relinquished his claim, they might be erected into an independent State under the rule of an Austrian archduke. A written reply (March 14) informed them that the question of union with Holland was settled, but assurances were given that in matters of religion, representation, commerce and the public debt their interests would be carefully guarded. Meanwhile General Baron Vincent, a Belgian in the Austrian service, was made governor-general.
The idea, however, of giving to Holland a slice of cis-Rhenan territory had perforce to be abandoned in the face of Prussian objections. The preliminary Treaty of Peace signed at Paris on May 30, 1814, was purposely vague, Art. VI merely declaring that "Holland placed under the sovereignty of the House of Orange shall receive an increase of territory—un accroissement de territoire"; but a secret article defined this increase as "the countries comprised between the sea, the frontiers of France, as defined by the present treaty; and the Meuse shall be united in perpetuity to Holland. The frontiers on the right bank of the Meuse shall be regulated in accordance with the military requirements of Holland and her neighbours." In other words the whole of Belgium as far as the Meuse was to be annexed to Holland; beyond the Meuse the military requirements of Prussia were to be consulted.
Previously to this, Castlereagh had written to the British Minister at the Hague, Lord Clancarty, suggesting that the Sovereign-Prince should summon a meeting of an equal number of Dutch and Belgian notables to draw up a project of union to be presented to the Allied Sovereigns at Paris for their approbation. But William had already himself, with the assistance of his minister Van Nagell, drawn up in eight articles the fundamental conditions for the constitution of the new State; and, after revision by Falck and Lord Clancarty, he in person took them to Paris. They were laid by Clancarty before the plenipotentiaries, and were adopted by the Allied Sovereigns assembled in London on June 21, 1814. The principles which animated them were set forth in a protocol which breathes throughout a spirit of fairness and conciliation—but all was marred by the final clause—Elles mettent ces principes en execution en vertu de leur droit de conquete de la Belgique. To unite Belgium to Holland, as a conquered dependency, could not fail to arouse bad feelings; and thus to proclaim it openly was a very grave mistake. It was not thus that that "perfect amalgamation" of the two countries, at which, according to the protocol, the Great Powers aimed, was likely to be effected.
At the same time, as a standing proof of William's own excellent intentions, the text of the Eight Articles is given in full:
(1) The union shall be intimate and complete, so that the two countries shall form but one State, to be governed by the Fundamental Law already established in Holland, which by mutual consent shall be modified according to the circumstances.
(2) There shall be no change in those Articles of the Fundamental Law which secure to all religious cults equal protection and privileges, and guarantee the admissibility of all citizens, whatever be their religious creed, to public offices and dignities.
(3) The Belgian provinces shall be in a fitting manner represented in the States-General, whose sittings in time of peace shall be held by turns in a Dutch and a Belgian town.
(4) All the inhabitants of the Netherlands thus having equal constitutional rights, they shall have equal claim to all commercial and other rights, of which their circumstances allow, without any hindrance or obstruction being imposed on any to the profit of others.
(5) Immediately after the union the provinces and towns of Belgium shall be admitted to the commerce and navigation of the colonies of Holland upon the same footing as the Dutch provinces and towns.
(6) The debts contracted on the one side by the Dutch, and on the other side by the Belgian provinces, shall be charged to the public chest of the Netherlands.
(7) The expenses required for the building and maintenance of the frontier fortresses of the new State shall be borne by the public chest as serving the security and independence of the whole nation.
(8) The cost of the making and upkeep of the dykes shall be at the charge of the districts more directly interested, except in the case of an extraordinary disaster.
It is not too much to say that, if the provisions of these Articles had been carried out fully and generously, there might have been at the present moment a strong and united Netherland State.
On July 21 the Articles, as approved by the Powers, were returned to the Sovereign-Prince, who officially accepted them, and on August 1 took over at Brussels the government of the Belgic provinces, while awaiting the decisions of the Congress, which was shortly to meet at Vienna, as to the boundaries and political status of the territories over which he ruled. The work of the Congress, however, which met in October, was much delayed by differences between the Powers. Prussia wished to annex the entire kingdom of Saxony; and, when it was found that such a claim, if persisted in, would be opposed by Great Britain, Austria and France, compensation was sought in the Rhenish provinces. Thus the idea of strengthening the new Netherland buffer-state by an addition of territory in the direction of the Rhine had to be abandoned. It must be remembered that the Sovereign-Prince on his part was not likely to raise any objection to having an enlarged and strengthened Prussia as his immediate neighbour on the east. William was both brother-in-law and first cousin of the King of Prussia, and had spent much of his exile at Berlin; and he no doubt regarded the presence of this strong military power on his frontier as the surest guarantee against French aggression. His relations with Prussia were indeed of the friendliest character, as is shown by the fact that secret negotiations were at this very time taking place for the cession to Prussia of his hereditary Nassau principalities of Dillenburg, Siegen, Dietz and Hadamar in exchange for the Duchy of Luxemburg.
The proceedings of the inharmonious Congress of Vienna were, however, rudely interrupted by the sudden return of Napoleon from Elba. Weary of waiting for a formal recognition of his position, William now (March 15, 1815) issued a proclamation in which he assumed the title of King of the Netherlands and Duke of Luxemburg. No protest was made; and the fait accompli was duly accepted by the Powers (May 23). The first act of the king was to call upon all his subjects, Dutch and Belgians alike, to unite in opposing the common foe. This call to arms led to a considerable force under the command of the hereditary prince being able to join the small British army, which Wellington had hurriedly collected for the defence of Brussels. The sudden invasion of Belgium by Napoleon (June 14) took his adversaries by surprise, for the Anglo-Netherland forces were distributed in different cantonments and were separated from the Prussian army under Bluecher, which had entered Belgium from the east. Napoleon in person attacked and defeated Bluecher at Ligny on June 16; and on the same day a French force under Ney was, after a desperate encounter, held in check by the British and Dutch regiments, which had been pushed forward to Quatre Bras. Bluecher retreated to Wavre and Wellington to Waterloo on the following day. The issue of the battle of Waterloo, which took place on June 18, is well known. The Belgian contingent did not play a distinguished part at Waterloo, but it would be unfair to place to their discredit any lack of steadiness that was shown. These Belgian troops were all old soldiers of Napoleon, to whom they were attached, and in whose invincibility they believed. The Prince of Orange distinguished himself by great courage both at Quatre Bras and Waterloo.
William, after his assumption of the regal title, at once proceeded to regularise his position by carrying out that necessary modification of the Dutch Fundamental Law to which he was pledged by the Eight Articles. He accordingly summoned a Commission of twenty-four members, half Dutch and half Belgian, Catholics and Protestants being equally represented, which on April 22 met under the presidency of Van Hogendorp. Their activity was sharpened by the threat of French invasion, and in three months (July 18) their difficult task was accomplished. The new Fundamental Law made no change in the autocratic powers conferred on the king. The executive authority remained wholly in his hands. The States-General were now to consist of two Chambers, but the First Chamber was a nominated Chamber. It contained forty to sixty members appointed by the king for life. The Second Chamber of 110 members, equally divided between north and south, i.e. fifty-five Dutch and fifty-five Belgian representatives, was elected under a very restricted franchise by the seventeen provinces into which the whole kingdom was divided. The ordinary budget was voted for ten years, and it was only extraordinary expenses which had to be considered annually. The other provisions strictly followed the principles and the liberties guaranteed in advance by the Eight Articles.
The new Fundamental Law was presented to the Dutch States-General on August 8, and was approved by a unanimous vote. Very different was its reception in Belgium. The king had summoned a meeting of 1603 notables to Brussels, of these 1323 were present. The majority were hostile. It had been strongly urged by the Belgian delegates on the Commission that the Belgic provinces, with three and a half millions of inhabitants, ought to return to the Second Chamber of the States-General a number of members proportionately greater than the Dutch provinces, which had barely two millions. The Dutch on their part argued that their country had been an independent State for two centuries and possessed a large colonial empire, while Belgium had always been under foreign rule, and had now been added to Holland "as an increase of territory." It was finally arranged, however, that the representation of the northern and southern portions of the new kingdom should be equal, 55 each. Belgian public opinion loudly protested, especially as the 55 Belgian deputies included four representatives of Luxemburg, which had been created a separate State under the personal rule of King William. Still more bitter and determined was the opposition of the powerful clerical party to the principle of religious equality. About 99 per cent, of the Belgian population was Catholic; and the bishops were very suspicious of what might be the effect of this principle in the hands of an autocratic Calvinist king, supported by the predominant Protestant majority in Holland. A further grievance was that the heavy public debt incurred by Holland should be made a common burden.
Considerable pressure was brought to bear upon the notables, but without avail. The Fundamental Law was rejected by 796 votes to 527. Confronted with this large hostile majority, the king took upon himself to reverse the decision by an arbitrary and dishonest manipulation of the return. He chose to assume that the 280 notables who had not voted were in favour of the Law, and added their votes to the minority. He then declared that 126 votes had been wrongly given in opposition to the principle of religious equality, which, by the Second of the Eight Articles approved by the Powers was binding and fundamental to the Union, and he then not only deducted them from the majority, but added them also to the minority. He then announced that the Fundamental Law had been accepted by a majority of 263 votes. Such an act of chicanery was not calculated to make the relations between north and south work smoothly. Having thus for reasons of state summarily dealt with the decision of the Belgian notables, William (September 26), made his state entry into Brussels and took his oath to the Constitution.
Already the Congress of Vienna had given the official sanction of the Powers to the creation of the kingdom of the Netherlands by a treaty signed at Paris on May 31, 1815. By this treaty the whole of the former Austrian Netherlands (except the province of Luxemburg) together with the territory which before 1795 had been ruled by the prince-bishops of Liege, the Duchy of Bouillon and several small pieces of territory were added to Holland; and the new State thus created was placed under the sovereignty of the head of the House of Orange-Nassau. As stated above, however, it had been necessary in making these arrangements to conciliate Prussian claims for aggrandisement in the cis-Rhenan provinces. This led to a number of complicated transactions. William ceded to Prussia his ancient hereditary Nassau principalities—Dillenburg, Dietz, Siegen and Hadamar. The equivalent which William received was the sovereignty of Luxemburg, which for this purpose was severed from the Belgian Netherlands, of which it had been one of the provinces since the time of the Burgundian dukes, and was erected into a Grand-Duchy. Further than this, the Grand-Duchy was made one of the states of the Germanic Confederation; and the town of Luxemburg was declared to be a federal fortress, the garrison to consist of Prussian and Dutch detachments under a Prussian commandant. There was a double object in this transaction: (1) to preserve to the Grand-Duke his rights and privileges as a German prince, (2) to secure the defence of this important borderland against French attack. Another complication arose from the fact that in the 14th century the House of Nassau had been divided into two branches, Walram and Otto, the younger branch being that of which the Prince of Orange was the head. But by a family-pact, agreed upon in 1735 and renewed in 1783, the territorial possessions of either line in default of male-heirs had to pass to the next male-agnate of the other branch. This pact therefore, by virtue of the exchange that had taken place, applied to the new Grand-Duchy. It is necessary here to explain what took place in some detail, for this arbitrary wrenching of Luxemburg from its historical position as an integral part of the Netherlands was to have serious and disconcerting consequences in the near future.
The new kingdom of the Netherlands naturally included Luxemburg, so that William was a loser rather than a gainer by the cession of his Nassau possessions; but his close relation by descent and marriage with the Prussian Royal House made him anxious to meet the wishes of a power on whose friendship he relied. All evidence also points to the conclusion that in accepting the personal sovereignty of the Grand-Duchy he had no intention of treating Luxemburg otherwise than as part of his kingdom. The Fundamental Law was made to apply to Luxemburg, in the same way as to Brabant or Flanders; and of the 55 members allotted to the Belgic provinces, four were representatives of the Grand-Duchy, which was subject to the same legislation and taxes as the kingdom. At first the king had thought of nominating his second son Frederick as his successor in Luxemburg, but he changed his mind and gave him an indemnity elsewhere; and he himself states the reason, "since we have judged it advisable (convenable) in the general interest of the kingdom to unite the Grand-Duchy to it and to place it under the same constitutional laws."
The boundaries of the new kingdom and of the Grand-Duchy were fixed by the treaty of May 31, 1815, and confirmed by the General Act of the Congress of Vienna. By this treaty Prussia received a considerable part of the old province of Luxemburg as well as slices of territory taken from the bishopric of Liege. A separate boundary treaty a year later (June 26, 1816) between the Netherlands and Prussia filled in the details of that of 1815; and that Prussia herself acquiesced in the fusion of the kingdom and the Grand-Duchy is shown by the fact that the boundary between Prussia and Luxemburg is three times referred to in the later treaty as the boundary between Prussia and the kingdom of the Netherlands.
* * * * *
THE KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS—UNION OF HOLLAND AND BELGIUM, 1815-1830
The autocratic powers that were conferred upon King William by the Fundamental Law rendered his personality a factor of the utmost importance in the difficult task which lay before him. William's character was strong and self-confident, and he did not shrink from responsibility. His intentions were of the best; he was capable, industrious, a good financier, sparing himself no trouble in mastering the details of State business. But he had the defects of his qualities, being self-opinionated, stubborn and inclined, as in the matter of the vote of the Belgian notables, to override opposition with a high hand. He had at the beginning of his reign the good fortune of being on the best of terms with Castlereagh, the British Foreign Minister. To Castlereagh more than to any other statesman the kingdom of the Netherlands owed its existence. The Peace of Paris saw Great Britain in possession by conquest of all the Dutch colonies. By the Convention of London (August 13, 1814), which was Castlereagh's work, it was arranged that all the captured colonies, including Java, the richest and most valuable of all, should be restored, with the exception of the Cape of Good Hope and the Guiana colonies—Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo. In the latter the plantations had almost all passed into British hands during the eighteen years since their conquest; and Cape Colony was retained as essential for the security of the sea-route to India. But these surrenders were not made without ample compensation. Great Britain contributed L2,000,000 towards erecting fortresses along the French frontier; L1,000,000 to satisfy a claim of Sweden with regard to the island of Guadeloupe; and L3,000,000 or one-half of a debt from Holland to Russia, i.e. a sum of L6,000,000 in all.
One of the most urgent problems with which the Sovereign-Prince had to deal on his accession to power was the state of the finances. Napoleon by a stroke of the pen had reduced the public debt to one-third of its amount. William, however, was too honest a man to avail himself of the opportunity for partial repudiation that was offered him. He recalled into existence the two-thirds on which no interest had been paid and called it "deferred debt" (uitgestelde schuld); the other third received the name of "working debt" (werkelijke schuld). The figures stood at 1200 million florins and 600 million florins respectively. Every year four millions of the "working debt" were to be paid off, and a similar amount from the "deferred" added to it. Other measures taken in 1814 for effecting economies were of little avail, as the campaign of Waterloo in the following year added 40 million florins to the debt. Heavier taxation had to be imposed, but even then the charges for the debt made it almost impossible to avoid an annual deficit in the budget. It was one of the chief grievances of the Belgians that they were called upon to share the burden of a crushing debt which they had not incurred. The voting of ways and means for ten years gave the king the control over all ordinary finance; it was only extraordinary expenditure that had to be submitted annually to the representatives of the people.
The dislike of the Catholic hierarchy in Belgium to Dutch rule had been intensified by the manner in which the king had dealt with the vote of the notables. Their leader was Maurice de Broglie, Bishop of Ghent, a Frenchman by birth. His efforts by speech and by pen to stir up active enmity in Belgium to the union aroused William's anger, and he resolved to prosecute him. It was an act of courage rather than of statesmanship, but the king could not brook opposition. Broglie refused to appear before the court and fled to France. In his absence he was condemned to banishment and the payment of costs. The powerful clerical party regarded him as a martyr and continued to criticise the policy of the Protestant king with watchful and hostile suspicion. Nor were the Belgian liberal party more friendly. They did not indeed support the clerical claim to practical predominance in the State, but they were patriotic Belgians who had no love for Holland and resented the thought that they were being treated as a dependency of their northern neighbours. They were at one with the clericals in claiming that the Belgian representation in the Second Chamber of the States-General should be proportional to their population. But this grievance might have been tolerated had the king shown any inclination to treat his Belgian subjects on a footing of equality with the Dutch. He was, as will be seen, keenly interested in the welfare and progress of the south, but in spirit and in his conduct of affairs he proved himself to be an out-and-out Hollander. The provision of the Fundamental Law that the seat of government and the meetings of the States-General should be alternately from year to year at the Hague and at Brussels was never carried out. All the ministries were permanently located at the Hague; and of the seven ministers who held office in 1816 only one, the Duke d'Ursel, was a Belgian, and he held the post of Minister of Public Works and Waterways. Fourteen years later (at the time of the revolt) six out of seven were still northerners. The military establishments were all in Holland, and nearly all the diplomatic and civil posts were given to Dutchmen. Nor was this merely due to the fact that, when the union took place, Holland already possessed an organised government and a supply of experienced officials, while Belgium lacked both. On the contrary, the policy of the king remained fixed and unwavering. In 1830 out of 39 diplomatists 30 were Dutch. All the chief military posts were filled by Dutchmen. Nor was it different in the civil service. In the home department there were 117 Dutch, 11 Belgians; in the war department 102 Dutch, 3 Belgians; in finance 59 Dutch, 5 Belgians. Such a state of things was bound to cause resentment. Parties in the Belgic provinces were in the early days of the Union divided very much as they have been in recent years. The Catholic or Clerical party had its stronghold in the two Flanders and Antwerp, i.e. in the Flemish-speaking districts. In Walloon Belgium the Liberals had a considerable majority. The opposition to the Fundamental Law came overwhelmingly from Flemish Belgium; the support from Liege, Namur, Luxemburg and other Walloon districts. But the sense of injustice brought both parties together, so that in the representative Chamber the Belgian members were soon found voting solidly together, as a permanent opposition, while the Dutch voted en bloc for the government. As the representation of north and south was equal, 55 members each, the result would have been a deadlock, but there were always two or three Belgians who held government offices; and these were compelled, on pain of instant dismissal, to vote for a government measure or at least to abstain. Thus the king could always rely on a small but constant majority, and by its aid he did not hesitate to force through financial and legislative proposals in the teeth of Belgian opposition. It is only fair, however, to the arbitrary king to point out how earnestly he endeavoured to promote the material and industrial welfare of the whole land, and to encourage to the best of his power literary, scientific and educational progress. In Holland the carrying-trade, which had so long been the chief source of the country's wealth, had been utterly ruined by Napoleon's Continental System. On the other hand, Belgian industries, which had been flourishing through the strict embargo placed upon the import of British goods, were now threatened with British competition. The steps taken by the energy and initiative of the king were, considering the state of the national finances, remarkable in the variety of their aims and the results that they achieved. The old Amsterdam Bank was transformed into a Bank of the Netherlands. A number of canals were planned and constructed. Chief among these was the North Holland Canal, connecting Amsterdam with the Helder. The approaches to Rotterdam were improved, so that this port became the meeting-point of sea-traffic from England and river-traffic by the Rhine from Germany. But both these ports were quickly overshadowed by the rapid recovery of Antwerp, now that the Scheldt was free and open to commerce. Other important canals, begun and wholly or in part constructed, during this period were the Zuid-Willemsvaart, the Zederik, the Appeldoorn and the Voorne canals. Water communication was not so necessary in the south as in the north, but care was there also bestowed upon the canals, especially upon the canal of Terneuzen connecting Ghent with the western Scheldt, and many highways were constructed. To restore the prosperity of the Dutch carrying-trade, especially that with their East Indies, in 1824 a Company—de Nederlandsche Handekmaatschappij—was founded; and at the same time a commercial treaty was concluded with Great Britain, by which both nations were to enjoy free trade with each other's East Indian possessions. The Handekmaatschappij had a capital of 37 million florins; to this the king contributed four millions and guaranteed to the shareholders for 20 years a dividend of 4 1/2 per cent. The Company at first worked at a loss, and in 1831 William had to pay four million florins out of his privy purse to meet his guarantee. This was partly due to the set-back of a revolt in Java which lasted some years.
Agriculture received equal attention. Marshy districts were impoldered or turned into pasture-land. More especially did the Maatschappij van Weldadigheid, a society founded in 1818 by General van den Bosch with the king's strong support, undertake the task of reclaiming land with the special aim of relieving poverty. No less zealous was the king for the prosperity of Belgian industries; Ghent with its cotton factories and sugar refineries, Tournai with its porcelain industry, and Liege with its hardware, all were the objects of royal interest. The great machine factory at Seraing near Liege under the management of an Englishman, Cockerill, owed its existence to the king. Nor was William's care only directed to the material interests of his people. In 1815 the University at Utrecht was restored; and in Belgium, besides Louvain, two new foundations for higher education were in 1816 created at Ghent and Liege. Royal Academies of the Arts were placed at Amsterdam and Antwerp, which were to bear good fruit. His attention was also given to the much-needed improvement of primary education, which in the south was almost non-existent in large parts of the country. Here the presence of a number of illiterate dialects was a great obstacle and was the cause of the unfortunate effort to make literary Dutch into a national language for his whole realm.
Nevertheless the king's political mistakes (of which the attempted compulsory use of Dutch was one) rendered all his thoughtful watchfulness over his people's welfare unavailing. Great as were the autocratic powers conferred upon the sovereign, he overstepped them. Plans, in which he was interested, he carried out without consulting the States-General. His ministers he regarded as bound to execute his orders. If their views differed from his, they were dismissed. This was the fate even of Van Hogendorp, to whom he owed so much; Roell and Falck also had to make way for less competent but more obsequious ministers.
The chief difficulty with which the king had to contend throughout this period was the ceaseless and irreconcilable opposition of the Catholic hierarchy and clergy to the principle of absolute religious equality established by the Fundamental Law (Articles CXC-CXCIII). Their leader, Maurice de Broglie, Bishop of Ghent, actually published a jugement doctrinal in which he declared that the taking of the oath to the Constitution was an act of treason to the Catholic Church. In this defiance to the government he had the support of the Pope, who only permitted the Count de Mean to take the oath on his appointment to the Archbishopric of Malines on the understanding that he held Articles CXC-CXCIII to refer only to civil matters. From this time to take the oath "dans le sens de M. Mean" became with the ultra-clerical party a common practice.
Other measures of the government aroused Catholic hostility. In this year, 1819, a decree forbade the holding of more than two religious processions in a year. In such a country as Belgium this restriction was strongly resented. But the establishment in 1825 by the king of a Collegium Philosophicum at Louvain, at which all candidates for the priesthood were by royal decree required (after 1826) to have a two-years' course before proceeding to an episcopal seminary, met with strenuous resistance. The instruction was in ancient languages, history, ethics and canon-law; and the teachers were nominated by the king. The first effect of this decree was that young men began to seek education in foreign seminaries. Another royal decree at once forbade this, and all youths were ordered to proceed either to the Collegium or to one of the High Schools of the land; unless they did so, access to the priesthood or to any public office was barred to them. This was perhaps the most serious of all the king's mistakes. He miscalculated both the strength and the sincerity of the opposition he thus deliberately courted. His decrees were doomed to failure. The bishops on their part refused to admit to their seminaries or to ordination anyone who attended the Collegium Philosophicum. The king, in the face of the irrevocable decision of the Belgian hierarchy, found himself in an untenable position. He could not compel the bishops to ordain candidates for Holy Orders, and his decrees were therefore a dead letter; nor on the other hand could he trample upon the convictions of the vast majority of his Belgian subjects by making admission to the priesthood impossible. He had to give way and to send a special envoy—De Celles—to the Pope in 1827 to endeavour to negotiate a Concordat. It was accomplished. By Article III of the Concordat, there were to be eight bishops in the Netherlands instead of five. They were to be chosen by the Pope, but the king was to have the right of objection, and they were required to take the oath of allegiance. The course at the Collegium Philosophicum was made optional. William thus yielded on practically all the points at issue, but prided himself on having obtained the right of rejecting a papal nominee. The Pope, however, in an allocution made no mention of this right, and declared that the decree about the Collegium was annulled, and that in matters of education the bishops would act in accordance with instructions from Rome. The government immediately issued a confidential notice to the governors of provinces, that the carrying-out of the Concordat was indefinitely postponed. Thus the effort at conciliation ended in the humiliation of the king, and the triumph of the astute diplomacy of the Vatican.
The financial situation, as we have seen, was from the outset full of difficulty. The king was personally parsimonious, but his many projects for the general welfare of the land involved large outlay, and the consequence was an annual average deficit of seven million florins. At first the revenue was raised by the increase of customs and excise, including colonial imports. This caused much dissatisfaction in Holland, especially when duties were placed on coffee and sugar. The complaint was that thus an undue share of taxation fell on the maritime north. In order to lighten these duties on colonial wares, other taxes had to be imposed. In 1821 accordingly it was proposed to meet the deficit by two most unwise and obnoxious taxes, known as mouture and abbatage. The first was on ground corn, the second on the carcases of beasts, exacted at the mill or the slaughter-house—in other words on bread and on butcher's meat. Both were intensely unpopular, and the mouture in particular fell with especial severity on the Belgian working classes and peasantry, who consumed much more bread per head than the Dutch. Nevertheless by ministerial pressure the bill was passed (July 21, 1821) by a narrow majority of four—55 to 51. All the minority were Belgians, only two Belgians voted with the majority. It is inconceivable how the government could have been so impolitic as to impose these taxes in face of such a display of national animosity. The mouture only produced a revenue of 5,500,000 fl.; the abbatage 2,500,000 fl.
This amount, though its exaction pressed heavily on the very poor, afforded little relief; and to meet recurring deficits the only resource was borrowing. To extricate the national finances from ever-increasing difficulties the Amortisatie-Syndikaat was created in December, 1822. Considerable sources of income from various public domains and from tolls passed into the hands of the seven members of the Syndicate, all of whom were bound to secrecy, both as to its public and private transactions. Its effect was to diminish still further the control of the Representative Chamber over the national finances. The Syndicate did indeed assist the State, for between 1823 and 1829 it advanced no less than 58,885,443 fl. to meet the deficits in the budget, but the means by which it achieved this result were not revealed.
Yet another device to help the government in its undertakings was the million de l'industrie, which was voted every year, as an extraordinary charge, but of which no account was ever given. That this sum was beneficially used for the assistance of manufacturing and industrial enterprise, as at Seraing and elsewhere, and that it contributed to the growing prosperity of the southern provinces, is certain. But the needless mystery which surrounded its expenditure led to the suspicion that it was used as a fund for secret service and political jobbery.
The autocratic temper of the king showed itself not merely in keeping the control of finance largely in his own hands, but also in carrying out a series of measures arousing popular discontent by simple arretes or decrees of the Council of State without consultation with the representative Chamber. Such were the decree of November 6,1814, abolishing trial by jury and making certain other changes in judicial proceedings; that of April 15, 1815, imposing great restrictions on the liberty of the press; that of September 15, 1819, making Dutch the official language of the country; that of June 25,1825, establishing the Collegium Philosophicum; and finally that of June 21, 1830, making the Hague the seat of the supreme court of justice. All these produced profound discontent and had a cumulative effect.
The language decree of 1819 was tentative, declaring a knowledge of Dutch obligatory for admission to all public offices, but it was followed by a much more stringent decree in 1822 by which, in the two Flanders, South Brabant and Limburg, Dutch was to be used in the law-courts and in all public acts and notices. Although the operation of this decree was confined to the Flemish-speaking districts, it must be remembered that, from the time of the Burgundian dukes right through the Spanish and Austrian periods, French had always been the official language of the country, the upper classes only spoke French, and with few exceptions the advocates could only plead in that language. This was a great hardship upon the Belgian bar, which would have been greatly increased had the royal decree (June 21,1830), placing the court of appeal for the whole kingdom at the Hague, been carried into effect.
More serious in its results was the infringement of Art. CCXXVII of the Fundamental Law guaranteeing liberty of the press. The return of Napoleon from Elba, and the imminent danger to which the, as yet, unorganised kingdom of the Netherlands was exposed, led to the issue of an arrete of the severest character. By it all persons publishing news of any kind, or giving information injurious to the State, or writing or distributing political pamphlets, were to be brought before a special tribunal of nine judges holding office at the king's pleasure; and, if condemned, were liable to be sentenced to exposure in the pillory, deprivation of civic rights, branding, imprisonment, and fines varying from 100 to 10,000 francs. This harsh measure was possibly justifiable in an extreme emergency upon the plea that it was necessary for the safety of the State. When the danger was over, and the Fundamental Law was passed, there was no excuse for its further maintenance on the Statute-book. Yet before this court Abbe de Foere was summoned for having defended in the Spectateur Beige the jugement doctrinal of Bishop de Broglie, and he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment. In the following year, 1818, the government obtained the approval of the States-General (with slight modification) for the continuance of this war-time censorship of the press. The penalties remained, but the court consisted of a judge and four assessors, all government nominees. Under this law a Brussels advocate, Van der Straeten, was fined 3000 fl. for a brochure attacking the ministers; and several other advocates were disbarred for protesting that this sentence was in conflict with the Fundamental Law. Prosecutions henceforth followed prosecutions, and the press was gagged.
As a result of these press persecutions, the two Belgian political parties, the clericals and the liberals, poles apart as they were in their principles, drew closer together. All differences of religious and political creed were fused in a common sense of national grievances under what was regarded as a foreign tyranny. This brought about in 1828 the formation of the Union, an association for the co-operation of Belgians of all parties in defence of liberty of worship, liberty of instruction and liberty of the press. The ultra-clericals, who looked to the Vatican for their guidance, and the advanced liberals who professed the principles of the French Revolution were thus by the force of events led on step by step to convert an informal into a formal alliance. The Abbe de Foere in the Spectateur and MM. D'Ellougue and Donker in the Observateur had been for some years advocating united action; and it was their success in winning over to their side the support and powerful pen of Louis de Potter, a young advocate and journalist of Franco-radical sympathies, that the Union, as a party, was actually effected. From this time the onslaughts in the press became more and more violent and embittered, and stirred up a spirit of unrest throughout the country. Petitions began to pour in against the mouture and abbatage taxes and other unpopular measures, especially from the Walloon provinces. These were followed by a National Petition, signed by representatives of every class of the community asking for redress of grievances, but it met with no response from the unyielding king. He had in the early summer of this year, 1828, made a tour in Belgium and had in several towns, especially in Antwerp and Ghent, met with a warm reception, which led him to underestimate the extent and seriousness of the existing discontent. At Liege, a centre of Walloon liberalism, he was annoyed by a number of petitions being presented to him; and, in a moment of irritation, he described the conduct of those who there protested against "pretended grievances" as infamous, "une conduite in-fame." The words gave deep offence; and the incident called forth a parody of the League of the Beggars in 1566, an Order of Infamy being started with a medal bearing the motto fideles jusqu' a l'infamie. The movement spread rapidly, but it remains a curious fact that the animosity of the Belgians, as yet, was directed against the Dutch ministers (especially Van Maanen the Minister of Justice) and the Dutch people, whose overbearing attitude was bitterly resented, rather than against the king or the House of Orange. William's good deeds for the benefit of the country were appreciated; his arbitrary measures in contravention to the Fundamental Law were attributed chiefly to his bad advisers.