James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Eustis, 9 October 1815

From William Eustis


Hague 9th of Octor. 1815.

Dear Sir,

By the Ship “Exchange” I send you the last Brussells papers. The inauguration of the King at Brussells was marked with splendor but appeared to want the cordiality which a welcome chief might expect to receive. The Belgians, who appear to have no national character, complain 1st that with a superior population they have only an equal vote with the Hollanders & 2ndly that they are married to the Dutch Debt. Religion with the influence of the Catholic Clergy forms the great objection to the Union. They must however submit: at least for the present. The peace of Europe, which appears to be settled or on the point of settlement, for we do not as yet see the treaty because probably it is not definitively agreed on by the Allies, cannot I fear be of long duration. The state of France alone threatens its interruption. The King is indeed restored to his authority— and one hundred & fifty thousand foreign troops are to keep the peace and secure his government. How long this will last God only knows. Judging from (not the newspapers which are of course under influence) the informations which I receive from paris, great discontent and insubordination prevail and are not confined to the Capitol. The execution of Laboydere excited strong sensations.1 The delay in the trial of Ney, owing to a want (as it is said) of a sufficient number of Marshalls (by whom alone he can be tried) causes speculation.2 The best informed from paris (and among them Genl. W⟨al⟩ thersdorff whom I knew in the U. States, minister from ⟨Den⟩mark first to this court & at present to the court of Versailles) agree in the perturbed & unsettled state of france. The removal of the works of art, altho’ perhaps an act of justice is not calculated to appease3—and if the Allies proceed as they probably will to take possession & hold a cordon of posts—if they take Lorrain & Alsace a kingdom for the Archduke Charles—levying contributions for the support of their defenders against their own worst enemies, can it last. From the reported condition of the British finances their troops may well remain in & be paid by France. The Emperor Alexander has returned with his troops—probably with a view to recover at least the provinces of Moldavia & Wallakia, which he relinquished when pressed by Bonaparte. The province of Servia is considered by the Emperor of Austria as a barrier against the Russians as well as agt the porte. The Governor of this province offered himself to the Empr of Austria who refused him from good faith to the porte with whom he was on good terms. He is now said to have offered himself to the Emperor of Russia. Should this offer be accepted, Austria will not be pleased with a Russian ally or a Russian force exactly in that point. These with all other difficulties may be amicably arranged. But Alexander has been made to feel his own strength. His legions have tasted the wheat the grapes the wines of the south. The King of Prussia has also returned leaving his hated Legions in France. The astonishing events which have taken place in that devoted country during the present year teach us to be astonished at nothing in the future—and I am prepared accordingly. To our own country the moral is obvious. I had collected a number of pamphlets describing the present state of the french nation. One of them only can conveniently be sent by this conveyance. All will be enclosed to Mr Monroe. I add with great sincerity my continued respect & esteem

William Eustis

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1Charles Huchet de la Bédoyère served as aide-de-camp to Marshal Lannes, 1808–9, and participated in Napoleon’s Russian campaign at the rank of major. Promoted to colonel in 1813, he retained that rank after the Bourbon restoration but rallied to Napoleon with his regiment when the former emperor arrived at Grenoble. Bédoyère fought under Napoleon throughout the 1815 campaign that ended at Waterloo. Following the Bourbon return to power he was arrested, tried for treason, and found guilty on 15 Aug. 1815. Appeals to Louis XVIII were in vain, and Bédoyère was executed on the Plaine de Grenelle four days later (Dictionnaire de biographie française, 17:1408–9).

2Michel Ney (1769–1815) enlisted in the French army in 1787 and by 1796 had attained the rank of brigadier general. He was appointed marshal in 1804, fought throughout the Napoleonic wars, and gained particular renown for his performance as rearguard commander during the French army’s retreat from Russia, which inspired Napoleon to dub him “the bravest of the brave.” Following further defeats, Ney advised the emperor to abdicate in April 1814. He professed loyalty to the Bourbons when Napoleon returned to France and was given the task of capturing him but recanted and fought under his former commander during the Hundred Days. Ney’s arrest for treason on 3 Aug. 1815 sparked great controversy, and his trial was delayed because few senior officers were willing to judge one of France’s great military heroes. On 6 Dec. 1815 he was finally found guilty and was executed the following day (Stephen Pope, The Cassell Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars [London, 1999], 353–54).

3For the repatriation of various works of art captured by the French armies, see Alexander J. Dallas to JM, 5 Sept. 1815, and n. 1.

Index Entries