No. 34.
Mr. Tree to Mr. Bayard .

No. 232.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your unnumbered instruction of February 8 last, addressed to the diplomatic and consular officers of the United States, on the subject of issuing certificates, at the request of American citizens proposing to marry abroad, as to the freedom of such parties from matrimonial disabilities, and as to the law of the United States regulating the mode of solemnizing marriage. I have carefully read the instruction and will strictly guide my official conduct by it.

It is, perhaps, not irrelevant in this connection to also refer to marriages which sometimes take place in the United States between Belgians and Americans, without observing the provisions of the Belgian law, the restrictions of which, as in the case of the French law, attach to the Belgian citizen even in a foreign country. This is especially so with regard to obtaining the consent of the parents, where the Belgian is under twenty-five years of age.

Several cases have already come under my observation since my residence here, where the marriage has been repudiated by one of the parties, it is always the man, because of non-compliance with the Belgian law in obtaining consent of parents. In one of these cases the [Page 37] marriage has been already declared void, and other cases are now pending in the courts.

I do not know that there is any way to prevent it, but it seems rather surprising that parents who propose wedding their children to foreigners do not exercise more precautions in ascertaining whether all the requirements of the law of the country of the foreigner have been complied with by him.

Their children would be saved a good deal of future unhappiness if they did. But the thirst for titles sometimes leads to precipitate marriages, which are afterwards found to be not particularly binding.

I have, etc.,

Lambert Tree.