Mr. Harvey to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I transmit herewith a French translation of the royal speech made to the Cortes, which opened their regular session yesterday. It is mainly and wisely devoted to matters of internal interest.
The occasion was taken to emphasize with particular distinctness the liberal tendencies of the government, because of the bad condition of the things in Spain, and the recent visit of its sovereign and royal family, had produced impressions not altogether favorable to the Portuguese ministry for the time being. His Majesty only responded to the popular sentiment in declaring that “liberty is the basis of the government;” for although the country at large may not be educated up to the full appreciation of all the blessings that free institution confer, there is not a nation in Europe where the principles upon which they rest are more generally cherished, where their progress is more generously welcomed, or one where it would be more difficult to revive the arbitrary idea & which were crushed out forever by costly sacrifices and repeated civil wars. The whole direction of the public mind is toward enlarged and enlightened liberty.
The press is as free as in our own country, and no year passes without some essential and significant reform. Popular education is spreading rapidly, old traditions are disappearing, and the. King’s name is no longer a tower of strength except so far as it may be associated with public and private virtue as the chief of the state, and identified with liberal ideas. The contrast which [Page 688] Portugal presents in these respects to Spain, from which it is only separated by an imaginary geographical line, and to which it would seem to be bound by the natural ties of mountains and rivers common to both, is striking, and, in some points of view, quite extraordinary. The two peoples are as widely different in their natural characteristics as they are radically separated in political tendencies, thus presenting side by side a curious study to the philosophical mind.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.