No. 26.
Mr. Tree to Mr. Bayard.

No. 282.]

Sir: An interesting debate, lasting several days, has just terminated in the Belgian Chamber on the subject of orders for cannon which have been given by the Government to the Messrs. Krupp. Some of the speakers asserted that just as good guns could be made at the royal foundry at Liege as those ordered from Krupp, and that sound policy dictated that Belgium should not go to either Germany or France to procure arms, as she may be on terms of hostility any day with either [Page 27] or both of them. That Krupp could furnish cannon to Belgium only so long as Germany permitted him to do so, and that he would probably be forbidden to do it the very moment they were most required. That if she was obliged to go abroad for weapons she had better address herself to England, who was her ancient and faithful friend. It was also alleged in the course of the debate that Krupp’s mode of manufacture was no secret, that the cannon was in commerce, and that any one had the right to copy the model.

The minister of war, in defending the course of the Government, declared that he desired to favor the national industry as far as the public interest would permit, but that one hundred and twenty field-guns were still required, which must be bought from the Messrs. Krupp, in order to preserve uniformity in that branch of the armaments.

The minister stated that for the armament of the infantry trials were progressing with small-caliber Schouloff, Nagant, and Mannlicher rifles. That the supply of the arm eventually selected for this purpose, as well as the cartridges, would be obtained in Belgium.

A resolution was finally offered demanding that, before any order was given to Messrs. Krupp, trials should be made of the cannon manufactured at the royal foundry in Liege. The ministers, however, would not consent to this, and the Government was sustained by a vote of 65 to 35.

In connection with military matters it may not be irrelevant to mention that the contingent of the Belgian army to be summoned for 1888 will number 13,200 men. It is said that, in case of mobilization, the army will embrace 100,000 men, with a reserve of 30,000 old soldiers, who may be called out in time of war.

The war budget for 1888, calculated on the basis of 48,403 men and 8,974 horses, amounts to 46,047,570 francs.

Work on the fortifications along the Meuse is progressing under the superintendence of the distinguished engineer Brialmont.

I have etc.,

Lambert Tree.