No. 38.
Mr. Tree to Mr. Bayard.

No. 387.]

Sir: I received yesterday a letter from the Belgian minister of foreign affairs, informing me.that the King would receive me at the palace of Brussels today at 11 o’clock.

At the hour named the court carriages were sent to the legation and I was called upon by Major General, the Count Van der Straten-Ponthos, an aid-de camp of the King, who accompanied me to the palace. I was immediately received by the King.

As I have heretofore explained in my dispatch reporting my audience with the King at the time of presenting my letter of credence as minister resident, the usage does not prevail here as at other courts of making a formal address on such occasions, but I thought it was a proper moment to say something to His Majesty on the delivery of the letter of the President, accrediting a representative of a higher rank to Belgium from the United States, which had maintained a mission at Brussels almost ever since the birth of the Kingdom, in fact, with one or two exceptions, the most venerable mission to the court. I therefore said to the King, that Congress having raised the rank of the diplomatic representative of the Government of the United States near His Majesty to that of envoy, the President had done me the distinguished honor to accredit me in the new quality. That it was scarcely necessary for me to assure His Majesty that while I remained in charge of the mission it would be my duty as it would also be my great pleasure hereafter, as in the past, to cultivate and strengthen to the utmost of my power the friendly relations which have always subsisted between Belgium and the United States. That I could not refrain from referring to the fact that it had been more than fifty-six years since the establishment of the mission by my Government which I now had the honor to be intrusted with near His Majesty, and that I believed that neither the archives of His Majesty’s Government nor those of the American legation here would show a single circumstance to have occurred tending to mar the flow of friendly feeling between the two countries. That, on the other hand, much had taken place upon which the mind might dwell with great satisfaction. The vastly increased commerce between the countries, [Page 44] the establishment of steam-ship lines connecting the ports of New York and Philadelphia with the port of Antwerp, and that great act the freedom of the navigation of the Scheldt, were among the prominent events which mark the period covered since 1832, when the United States first sent a diplomatic representative to reside near this court. That in delivering to His Majesty the letter accrediting me in the character of envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary near His Majesty, I dared to express the hope and belief that the commercial and friendly relations between the two countries would continue to grow in strength to the mutual benefit of both nations.

The King in reply expressed his great pleasure that Congress had raised the mission of the United States to Belgium to the higher rank of envoy; that what I had said with reference to the relations between the two countries for nearly sixty years was quite true, and he hoped the same thing could be said of them to the remotest future. He spoke in exalted terms of the United States, and said he hoped some day to make them a visit, where there was so much to be seen to expand the views of Europeans. He was also pleased to say some very kind things to me personally.

After he had finished his formal reply, he detained me for nearly a half hour in conversation, and, I thought, endeavored to show me in every way his gratification that the grade of the mission of the United States at Brussels had been raised.

At the issue of the audience I was reconducted to my residence with the same ceremony, accompanied by the aid de-camp of the King.

I should not omit to mention that the King came to Brussels only last evening, from Ostend, where he has been staying for some time.

I have, etc.,

Lambert Tree.