Mr. Marsh to Mr. Seward.
Sir : The ministerial modification, of which I spoke in my last despatch as a possible contingency, has taken place much sooner than was anticipated. The composition of the cabinet as newly organized is not at this moment publicly known, but it will probably be announced, together with the political programme of the government, in the official gazette of Monday next. It is certain that Ricasoli remains at the head of the administration, at least for the present. [Page 606]This circumstance will tend to allay political agitation, for, in spite of the unpopularity of the financial and ecclesiastical policy of the late ministry, and of its action in regard to the right of assemblage for public discussion, Baron Ricasoli certainly enjoys the personal confidence of a larger proportion of his country-men than any other conspicuous Italian statesman.
The immediate occasion of the prorogation of parliament, and finally of the dissolution of the late chamber of deputies, as well as of the resignation of several ministers, events doubtless already known to you through the telegraph, was the action of the government in suppressing meetings called for the purpose of discussing the measures proposed by the ministry upon the great question of the relations between church and state in connection with the finances. A resolution equivalent to a declaration of a want of confidence in the ministry was carried in the chambers by a decided majority, and the prorogation followed immediately after. I enclose a slip from a journal containing the debate on this question, which, as you will perceive, is, in some respects, of a remarkable as well as unexpected character. The recent discourse of the Emperor Napoleon has excited a good deal of feeling in Italy, because it is the first occasion on which he has pronounced himself unequivocally in favor of maintaining the temporal power of the Papacy. I forward by this post a copy of two Italian journals of the 16th of this month, one of which, the Nazione, is generally understood to be semi-official, the other strongly in the French interest, both containing editorial articles on this subject. The construction given by the latter to the passages of the imperial discourse which refer to the relations between Rome and Italy, is not, I imagine, by any means an authorized interpretation, but is simply adopted to ward off the unfavorable impressions which these passages, taken in their most obvious sense, could not fail to produce on the Italian people.
It is worthy of remark that the political excitement in Italy has produced little effect on the price of government funds, and none at all on that of gold, which scarcely commands five per cent, premium. It is evident, therefore, that capitalists do not regard the present crisis as threatening any serious derangement of the finance or the currency.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.