Mr. Rhodes to Mr. Seward

No. 3.]

Sir: The difficulties growing out of the relations of the King of the Netherlands with the Duchy of Luxembourg seem to be increasing. His Majesty of the Netherlands, King William III in his quality of Duke of Luxembourg, had a vote in the German Bund, and when this body met at Frankfort in June last to pronounce for or against Prussia, he decided on remaining neutral. Victory having fallen on the side of Prussia, this power, the German confederacy having ceased to exist, declared itself the legitimate successor to the obligations under which the states rested towards the defunct organization; in short, that Luxembourg having belonged to the German confederacy must submit to the same rule imposed upon the other members of it, and become a part of Prussia.

His Majesty of the Netherlands, so far, refuses to accept this construction of the case, and the Prussian government remains firm in its demand. In the mean time the strong places of Luxembourg are garrisoned by both Prussian and Dutch troops while the negotiations are pending between the two powers. Rurners are current that Prussia is inexorable in her determination to annex Luxembourg, and that his Majesty of the Netherlands is equally decided upon not surrendering.

Strange to say, critical as this question of Luxembourg seems to be, it does not occupy the minds of the Dutch as much as that of the abolition of a partial form of slavery now existing in Java the richest of the Dutch colonies. This question is the principal issue between the two political parties, and has been under discussion in the chambers for several years past. As is well known, one of the principal sources of the revenue of the government of the Netherlands is Java, under the present system of enforced labor. The conservatives, who uphold this system, argue that it is owing to the present organization of labor that Java is of so much value, and that without it the colony would cease to be productive. Thus the conservatives present the material advantages of their case, to which the Dutch are certainly not insensible. But the Dutch loving liberty themselves, do not wish to deprive others of it, hence this apprenticeship (to give it its mildest name) of the Malays is obnoxious to them generally. This sentiment found an exponent in the leader of the liberal party, Mr. Thorbecke, and about two years ago, when he was in the ministry, a bill for the emancipation of the Malays was introduced in the second chamber under his auspices, but was lost, whereupon he retired from the ministry and was returned as a member to the lower chamber, where he has continued to agitate the subject up to the present time. When Mr. Taorbecke resigned his portfolio, one of his fellow ministers, Mr. Meyer, considered as identified with him in his political opinions, was charged with the format: on of a new ministry. It remained, however, [Page 462] substantially the same, and was still regarded as representing the liberal party, the principal article of whose faith is the abolition of the Malay slavery of Java.* * * * * *

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ALBERT RHODES. Chargé d’Affaires.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.