Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

CHAPTER XIII.

NETHERLANDs.-Law respecting trade with Sweden.—Speech of the Minister to the States General on closing the Session at Brussels

Royal Speech on opening the Session at the Hague.

[ocr errors]

Negotiations respecting ihe Payments due to Denmark–Final arrangement Á this Affair.—Parga, and the Ionian Isles.—Cession of li

Parga to

Pasha by the British.--Tar opposed by the Legislative

Assembly of the Seven Islands-Insurrection in Santa Maura.

THE kingdom of the Netherlands furnishes few subjects of historical notice, on account of the state of tranquil happiness which it appears to enjoy. Early in the month of March, the project of a law relative to the commercial relations of the country with Sweden, and the reciprocity to be exercised towards that power, occupied the attention of the States-general assembled at Brussels. All the sections agreeing in the principles which dictated this law, declared that the discussion was open. Count Hogendorp, in an excellent speech, supported the project. He quoted the opinion of the celebrated Chaptal, formerly minister of the interior in France, who rejects every system of prohibition as injurious to nations; he would have an unlimited freedom of commerce, which, said he, cannot but be to our advantage. No other member desiring to speak, M. Fulck, minister of colonies and trade, explained the grounds of the project, which,

[ocr errors]

being put to the vote, was passed unanimously. On May 22nd the session was closed by the minister of the interior with the following speech, which he delivered in both languages. “High and Mighty Lords,The King, in ordering me to close in his name the session of the States-general, has at the same time commissioned me to testify his satisfaction at the constant and assiduous care which you have shown in the thorough investigation of the various projects of laws which have been laid before you, and of which several were of high importance. I shall not enumerate them; but it is agreeable to the king to be able to inform you, even before your session is closed, that a very interesting law, that on the national militia, has been put into full execution, and that the result answers the hopes which his majesty entertained. “His majesty thinks that equally satisfactory information may soon be given you respecting ing the other laws which you have since had before you. He will rejoice at it, because his ambition is the prosperity of the state, and in his heart, the pros#. of the nation is inseparable om his own happiness.” His excellency concluded by recommending to the members worthily to employ the interval till the next session in maintaining that spirit of concord which is the basis of the general welfare and happiness. The next session of the states was held, according to the appointed rotation at the Hague, when an opening speech was read in the name of the king, of which this was the substance. “This sitting will be of the highest importance, as the Statesgeneral will have to discuss measures which will complete the edifice of the constitution. His

[graphic]

majesty has the satisfaction to

announce, that the most cordial friendship continues to exist with all foreign powers, and that all of them are animated with the most ardent desire of peace; so that there is every reason to presume, that all the nations of Europe will continue to enjoy entire tranquillity. In this sitting the project of the codes for the Netherlands will belaid before the States. According to the fundamentallaw, this great work will be laid before the Assembly in distinct parts. Every free and independent nation requires anational legislation. The moment will be most important when the whole can be proclaimed as the law of the State.

“His majesty then proceeds to the finances, in which he says, the Assembly will be convinced,

that economy has been studied as much as possible. He laments, however, that the army is so expensive, and wishes that this branch could be diminished, but the position and relations of the kingdom make it necessary to follow the example of other powers. The state of the sinking fund will be laid before the Assembly: though but a few years have elapsed since it was established, its good effects have been already felt. Some measures will be proposed to remove the few differences which still exist in the duties and privileges of the inhabitants of the Netherlands in all parts of the kingdom, including the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg. The harvest has been, in general, uncommonly abundant. Important manufactories show an increasing activity, and though industry and trade in general still suffer from the unnatural excitement previously given them, and the sur: prising revolutions in political circumstances, those who compare our situation with that of other countries find no reason to envy them or to lament our own. The good effects of the new administration of our colonies gradually develope themselves. The intercourse with them becomes daily more extensive. “ Deeply penetrated with the sense of my obligation in all the acts of my government, always to have in view the interests of the Netherlands in general, and never to prefer that of a part to that of the whole, I shall continue with calmness and firmness to pursue the path which I have proposed to myself, convinced o 2 that that it will lead to the real happiness of our beloved country, and and the co-operation of your high mightinesses, I hope I shall always continue to find the proof that you do justice to my sentiments and intentions. Sweden.—The completion of the stipulated payments from the king of Sweden to the king of Denmark, as a compensation for the possession of Norway, was a source of some embarrassment to the former country. The king of Denmark, early in the year, complained to the sovereigns of Russia and Prussia, then met at Aix la Chapelle, of the delay which had occurred in the liquidation of this debt, and representations were in consequence addressed by these potentates to the king of Sweden. Very acrimonious discussions between the respective courts are said to have ensued, and at one period formidable difficulties were opposed to the amicable adjustment of the business. Subsequently, the mediation of Great Britain was called in, and lord Strangford, the

[ocr errors]

British minister at Stockholm,

carried on negotiations there for some time in the names of his own sovereign and of the king of Denmark: these were at length successful, and an arrangement was acceded to, satisfactory alike to the contracting and to the mediating powers, by which Denmark was to receive a smaller sum than had at first been stipulated, but by instalments at shorter intervals and securely guaranteed. [See Public papers.] Immediately after the termination of this affair, the king set out for Scania. *.

Parga and the Ionian Isles.

The cession of a small Christian republic on the western coast of Greece, by his Britannic majesty to Ali Pasha the Musulman. despot of Albania, a transaction much canvassed in the English: parliament, appears not unworthy of mention in the general history of this year. The circumstances which led to this transaction were the following: Parga, the sole relic of the Venetian dominions on the continent of Greece which was able to baffle down to the year 1800 the conquering arms of Ali, gave admittance some time afterwards to a French garrison, the French having at this time succeeded in establishing themselves as successors to all the possessions of the republic of Venice. In the year 1814, being again attacked by their implacable enemy Ali, and finding this garrison an insufficient defence, the Pargiotes, after repelling the assault by their own valour, found it expedient to seek the protection of Great Britain. This was accorded them by general Campbell the commanding officer on that station; and a body of English troops were received into the town, on the express condition that it should share the fate of the Seven Islands. Some time after, this treaty received the approbation of the Prince Regent. In the congress of 1815; in utter oblivion as it should appear, of the engagement entered into with this devoted republic, it was stipulated on the part of Great Britain that the whole continent of of Greece should be ceded to the Porte, in other words to Ali Pasha. When it was first rumoured at Parga that the town was to be delivered up to their ancient enemy, the most dreadful apprehensions were entertained by the inhabitants, and an earnest supplication on the subject was addressed to the British officer commanding the garrison ; who answered in March 1817, by orders of sir Thomas Maitland, lord-commissioner for the Ionian islands, that as he had not yet received the regular instructions of his government, he could give them no definitive answer; but that they might depend on his doing all in his power for their advantage, provided they did not forfeit their claim to his protection by any acts of violence or bloodshed. From this reply, the substance of the arrangement thus became apparent, and as no one could doubt the cruelty with which Ali was disposed to treat the place on its coming into his power, sir Thomas Maitland authorised the British commander to exhibit a letter in which he “ pledged himself that the place should not be yielded up till the property of those who might choose to emigrate should be paid for, and they themselves be transported to the Ionian islands.” - An estimate of the whole property of the people was then made by the commander, who calculated that it would amount to between 400,000l. and 500,000l. A more particular valuation raised the sum total considerably higher, yet by some chicane, less than , a third part was finally awarded. After a variety of pro

[graphic]

ceedings, tending to show the ferocious and faithless character of Ali, who continually threatened to enter the town by force, without paying a single farthing, two commissioners were at length named, one by this barbarian and one by the British, before whom every individual citizen of Parga was brought up for the purpose of declaring whether he preferred to remain in his native town, or to emigrate. They unanimously answered, that “they were resolved to abandon their country rather than stav in it with dishomour; and that they should disinter and carry along with them the bones of their forefathers.” The commissioners soon disagreed, as might be expected, in their valuations; both were superseded and all proceedings were suspended till May 1818, when new commissioners were named, before whom the Pargiotes repeated their former resolution, and between whom the former differences arose. The Pargiotes, reduced to the utmost distress, sent a statement of their case with proper documents to be laid before the British parliament; but unfortunately the foreigner whom they employed did not hold himself entitled to make any formal application. The cause was indeed taken up by some voluntary advocates in both houses of parliament, but their generous efforts came too late; and the sacrifice was consummated before any specific proposal for their relief could be submitted to the legislature. “In June 1819, general Maitland, in consequence of the depreciation of property by the neglect neglect and despair of its owners, finally declared the compensation to be paid by Ali for the Turkish government to be 142,425l. sterling; and, shortly after, intimated to the citizens, that he was ready to provide for their transportation to the islands. * As soon as this notice was given, every family marched solemnly out of its dwelling, without tears or lamentation; and the men, preceded by their priests and followed by their sons, proceeded to the sepulchres of their fathers, and silently unearthed and collected their remains,—which they placed upon a huge pile of wood which they had previously erected before one of their churches. They then took their arms in their hands, and setting fire to the pile, stood motionless and silent around it, till the whole was consumed. During this melancholy ceremony, some of Ali's troops, impatient for possession, approached the gates of the town; upon which a deputation of the citizens was sent to inform our governor, that if a single infidel was admitted before the remains of their ancestors were secured from profanation, and they themselves, with their families, fairly embarked, they would all instantly put to death their wives and children, and die with arms in their hands,-and not without a bloody revenge on those who had bought and sold their country. Such a remonstrance, at such a moment, was felt and respected as it ought b those to whom it was addressed. General Adam succeeded in stopping the march of the Musulmans. The pile burnt out,-and

the people embarked in silence; and free and Christian Parga is now a strong hold of ruffians, renegadoes and slaves.” The consummation of this delorable sacrifice took place early in the month of June; and immediately afterwards sir Thomas Maitland set sail for Ancona, whence he was to proceed to Rome, for the purpose of negotiating with the pope a kind of concordat for the Catholic clergy of the Ionian isles. The close of the session of the Ionian parliament, prorogued by the lordcommissioner immediately previous to his departure, had been marked by the hitherto unprecedented circumstance of an oppos sition, and that too a successful one, on the part of the representatives, to a measure of the government. An additional duty of 5 per cent on the export of currants, which had been unanimously voted by the senate, composed of six members, was rejected in the legislative assembly by a great majority; as a measure manifestly ruinous to that important branch of the produce of the islands, which, so burdened, could not sustain a competition with the currants of Patrass, permitted by the Porte to be exported under a very trifling impost. Before the stand thus made by the representative body. in behalf of the purses of their constituents, it appears that several new taxes had received the sanction of the legislature, some of which being regarded by the peasantry as an intolerable oppression, * Edinburgh Review, No. lxiv, Article 1.

[graphic]
« ZurückWeiter »