Belgium and the February Revolution

By Brison D. Gooch | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE REVOLUTION'S INITIAL IMPACT

The news of revolutionary outbursts in Paris filtered into Brussels in bits and pieces, beginning on the evening of February 24. On the 25th, a variety of reports arrived before both rail and telegraph contact was broken off.1 The evening of the 25th, the Comte de Hompesch arrived in Brussels with the first news of the proclamation of the Republic. It was common knowledge in the city the next day.2

News of the revolution reached London between 4 and 5 P.M. on the 25th. The Belgian ambassador, Van de Weyer, chanced to be in the office of the "Times" when the telegraphic dispatch arrived. He personally carried the word to Prince Albert who in turn broke the news to Queen Victoria. Van de Weyer described her deeply emotional reaction as both touching and noble.3 A somewhat similar emotional response occurred on the part of Leopold's wife, Louise, Queen of the Belgians and a daughter of Louis Philippe. She wrote to Victoria of her apprehension for the safety of her parents and rhetorically asked how it could be possible that "such events. . . should be the end of nearly eighteen years of courageous and successful efforts to maintain order, peace, and make France happy. . ." While questioning how it could be, however, she went on to note philosophically that "It was the Almighty's will: we must submit ."4 The King of Prussia also wrote to Victoria professing to see in events "the avenging hand of the King of Kings." He felt that Louis Philippe had given Europe "eighteen years of peace" but that now for some reason "God has permitted events which decisively threaten the peace of Europe." He warned that the fates of all kings were involved and that, in the face of a danger

____________________
1
Woyna to Metternich, Feb. 25, 1848, AEV.
2
J. Dhondt, "La Belgique en 1848", Acres du Congrès Historique du centenaire de la révolution de 1848 ( Paris, 1948), p. 115. See also Hymans, Frère-Orban, I, 198; and Discailles, Rogier, III, 229-230.
4
Louise to Victoria, Feb. 28, 1848, LV, II, 179-182.

-26-

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