Mr. Sanford to Mr. Seward.
Sir: The apprehensions which have been excited on account of the Luxembourg question have been greatly calmed by the acceptance by France and Prussia, for its solution, of a conference at London of the powers, signers of the treaty of 1839.
The suggestion that all the powers, signers of that treaty, should be represented at the conference, thus including Belgium, emanated, I believe, from Great Britain. Italy, also, will be represented there, and in so far as I can learn, the proposition to that end came from the Italian minister at London, and was supported by France.
There seems to be considerable difficulty at arriving at a basis for the deliberations of the conference; the following points, however, are, I believe, fixed upon: Evacuaton of Luxembourg by the Prussians, and abandonment of pretension to its occupation by France; neutralization of the territory.
With the neutralization of Luxembourg under the guarantee of the European powers, it may be doubtful whether the King of Holland will be as favorably disposed to the alienation of the duchy of which he is sovereign, as he was under the uncertainties which late events in Germany had created, and under the pressure of France for its purchase, which has been made since September last. Belgium would, naturally, like to see the neutralization effected by incorporati on within her limits, and if it makes no proposition to that effect would, doubtless, make no very serious objection to one if made; and Prussia will, in this respect, yield, probably, that concession, if urged to it by Great Britain.
The power to raise 60,000,000 francs, should events necessitate such expenditure, has been asked by this government of the chambers, and may have in view the possibility of such acquisition, as well as that of preparation for war, for which, in addition, the sum of 8,400,000 francs is also asked to perfect the arms of the infantry.
M. Van der Weyer, minister at London, represents Belgium at the conference. I do not think that entire confidence is felt here in the result of its deliberations. If there is on all sides a sincere desire to consolidate European peace, the conference will do much towards securing it. If selfish considerations are to be invoked, and excessive compensations asked for desired concessions, the result arrived at will probably amount to little more than a delay in the collision between the two powers in their struggle for preponderance.
As the question of Luxembourg is alone to be treated, the result will probably be arrived at and reach you by telegraph before this despatch.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.