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de vous faire connaitre de sa part comment les cho- 1831 ses ont eu lieu.
Une chaloupe que l'on croyait partie de la Cométe, s'approcha dans la soirée du 3 courant, sous le Fort Ste. Marie.
Dans l'obscurité les sentinelles crièrent, Qui vive? on ne répondit pas à leurs cris, et elles firent ce qu'auraient fait les vôtres, ce que font les sentinelles dans toutes les armées, elles làchèrent leur coup de fusil, et le Bâtiment s'éloigna. Il n'en fut pas tiré d'avantage.
Voilà, Monsieur le Lieutenant-Colonel, l'exacte vérité qu'a fait recueillir le Général, par un Officier str. Il n'y a eu aucune intention hostile de la part de la Troupe, mais seulement de défense qui est toute naturelle. Veuillez, je vous prie, en informer M. le Lieutenant-Général, Baron Chassé, et l'assurer, en même tems, que personne plus que M. le Général Vicomte de Beaulieu, n'est disposé à faire observer les Conventions existantes.
Le Lieutenant-Colonel Chef de l'Etat - Major
Extrait d'une Dépêche de Sir Charles Bagot au Vicomte de Palmerston, en date du 22 Avril (arrivée à Londres le 26 Avril).
The Hague, 22nd April 1831. In my Despatch of the 16th instant, I acquainted Your Lordship that M. de Verstolk proposed to send a Person to London that evening with some additional Reports, which had been received here from General Chassé, respecting the hostile proceedings of the Belgians in the Scheldt.
Last night M. de Verstolk called upon me, and informed me that, since he had despatched those Reports to M. Falck, General Chassé had again written to state, that the proceedings of the Belgians were daily assuming a more serions character, and that he began to entertain such apprehensions for the eventual safety of the communications with the Citadel of Antwerp, and indeed of the Dutch Fleet, that he desired
1831 to have specific Instructions for the guidance of his conduct in certain cases, particularly in the case of the Belgians proceeding to plant cannon upon Fort Ste. Marie, and thus to interrupt, as they would be able to do, from the narrowness of the Scheldt at that point, the necessary access to the Citadel.
M. de Verstolk then proceeded to state, that, in consequence of General Chassé's application, à Coun cil had been summoned, at which, after long deliberation, it had been resolved to direct General Chassé, to the event of the Belgians attempting to place guns upon Fort Ste. Marie, to address himself immedia tely to General Beaulieu, the Commandant of Antwerp, and to endeavour, by temperate remonstrance, to induce him to stay all further proceedings of that kind but that if General Beaulieu should decline to listen to such application, General Chassé was then instruct ed to direct the Commander of the Dutch Vessel, stationed off Ste. Marie, to send a Flag of Truce to the Commandant of the Fort, for the purpose of making to him a similar application, and of declaring, that if he should persist in refusing to comply with it, his orders were to displace, by force, the cannon which might be planted upon the Fort.
M. de Verstolk then told me, that these Instructions had been sent to General Chassé in the course of yesterday morning, or of the preceding night, but that he communicated the determination which had been taken in the Council, to M. Falck, by the Mail of last Tuesday night. Had it been earlier made known to me, I should certainly not have failed to use my utmost endeavours to dissuade this Government from such a proceeding. As it seemed, however, to have been already adopted, I confined myself, in what I answered to him last night, to some general expres sions of the necessity, which I admitted to exist of His Netherland Majesty taking every precaution for the security of the Citadel of Antwerp, and my earnest hope that the case, which General Chassé apprehended as possible, might never arrive; but the more I reflected upon the consequences which might possibly grow out of these conditional Instructions, the more serious they appeared to me; and in a second conversation which I had with him this morning
before he went to the King, I told him how much 1831 I regretted the decision which had been taken in this matter; that if, unfortunately, the case should arrive, and that the Commander of a Dutch Vessel should find himself, by his Instructions, under the necessity of menacing to displace the cannon which the Belgians might plant upon the Fort, he could hardly recede from the execution of that menace; and that if, from any circumstance, the first shot should be fired by this Country, the great advantages, which, up to this moment, the King had derived from his forbearance, would certainly be lost, and probably thrown into the opposite scale; whilst any attack which the Belgians might be ill advised enough to make, even upon the smallest Boat belonging to this Country, would, in the present posture of things, and in the determination in which the great Powers of Europe were proved to be by their "last Protocols of Conference, be visited in a manner which could not be otherwise than fatal to their interests, and most favourable to those of his Majesty; and that it moreover appeared to me to be very short-sighted policy to put to hazard the peaceable settlement of the whole Belgian Question, by reducing it to so narrow, and, comparatively, to so indifferent a point, as that of suffering or not suffering cannon to be placed upon a small Fort which it would be easy and quite time enough for the Dutch Fleet to displace, whenever they should begin to be hostilely employed against the Kings Forces; but I regret to say, that M. de Verstolk could not be brought to view the matter in the same light that I did; and it is now only to be hoped that General Chassé may not be required to act upon the contingent Instructions, of which he is in possession.
M. de Verstolk made this morning to the French Minister, the same communication which he made last night to me.
Lettre du Vicomte de Palmerston à Sir Charles Bagot à la Haye. En date du 3 Mai 1831. London, Foreign Office, 3rd May 1831,
Sir, In reply to your Excellency's Despatch of the 22nd ult., I have to inform you that His Majesty's Government approve highly of the language which you have held to the Dutch Government, upon the subject of the conditional Instructions transmitted to General Chassé, as also of the arguments by which you endeavoured to dissuade them from suffering them selves to be tempted by any proceeding on the part of the Belgians, to commit the first act of hostility against them.
I have to desire that your Excellency will take the earliest opportunity of repeating those arguments to the Dutch Government, stating, at the same time, that you do so not only with the full concurrence of His Majesty's Government, but at their express desire. I am, etc.
Lettre du Vicomte de Palmerston au Lord;
London, Foreign Office, 3rd May 1831.
I inclose herewith a Copy of a Despatch received from Sir Charles Bagot, dated the 22nd ultimo, together with a Copy of my Reply.
In transmitting these Documents to your Lordship, I have to desire that you will lose no time in pressing upon the Belgian Government the expediency of not pursuing measures of the description to which this Despatch alludes, measures which can produce no material advantage to the Belgians, in the settlement of the question at issue between them and the rest of Europe, but which, on the other hand, must have the effect of irritating the Dutch, and possibly of bring ing on a recurrence of general hostilities without
necessity and upon trifling grounds. In short, the 1831 arguments which Sir Charles Bagot has so forcibly employed with the Dutch Government upon this subject, are precisely those which ought to influence also the Government of Belgium. I have therefore to request that your Lordship will adopt those arguments your Communications with the Belgian Government, pressing them in the strongest manner upon their attention.
I am, etc.
Extrait d'une Dépêche du Lord Ponsonby transmise au Vicomte de Palmerston, en date du 6 Mai 1831 (arrivée à Londres lè 8 Mai).'
Brussels, 6th May 1831. I had the honour to receive, by the Messenger, yesterday, your Lordship's Despatch of the 3rd instant, wherein you direct me to lose no time in pressing upon the Belgian Government the expediency of not pursuing measures of the description to which the Despatch from Sir Charles Bagot, dated the 22d ultimo, alludes.
Having previously been in possession of a Copy of that Despatch, I had availed myself, as far as without Instructions I could do, of the information it Contained, to direct the attention of the Minister for Foreign Affaires to the consequences of the proceedings at Antwerp.
I saw the Minister for Foreign Affairs yesterday, and spoke to him in the strongest manner upon the subject of your Lordship's Despatch. He admitted the justice of my observation, and expressed his earnest desire to prevent every thing that could tend to produce hostilities, but added, that it was necessary for him to act with extreme caution, lest he should destroy the means of General Beaulieu's Successor to execute his orders, which are to observe as strictly as possible the terms of the suspension of arms.
I will again' speak on this subject to the Minister, and continue to urge him to caution and watchfulnes
in this affair.