12 MARCH 1904, Page 2

The Belgian people care, or seem to care, nothing about

the cruelties now officially described as occurring within the Congo Free State, but they show symptoms of strong annoy- ance at their King's conduct towards his daughters. The King has quarrelled with them, and will not make them allowances befitting their position and his own vast wealth. They therefore get into debt, and the creditors of one of them —the Princess Louise of Saxe-Coburg—have brought an action against the King which, though nominally an action for the ladies' share of their mother's modest fortune, only 220,000, is really intended to elicit a decision that the King is bound by Belgian law, that the daughters must therefore inherit half his fortune, and that his very large gifts to the Belgian State must be considered " waste " in the legal sense of property which belongs to the family and not to the individual. The King's counsel, on the other hand, argue that the settlement on the late Queen was a treaty and not a contract, and is therefore beyond the purview of any Court, and that the King cannot be held to answer in his own Courts for anything he does with his own money. It is probable that the defence is legally a valid one ; but the Princesses' counsel have been audacious in their attacks, and the general feeling of the better classes in Belgium is that King Leopold in allowing the affair to come into Court, and in admitting his quarrels with his daughters, has lowered his dignity, and displayed a contempt for public opinion which throws an unpleasant light upon his character.