We give to-day the speech delivered yesterday by his Majesty the King Don Louis, at the royal sitting of the opening of the Parliament:
Worthy Peers of the Kingdom, and Representatives of the Portuguese nation: I come to inaugurate the new period of your parliamentary labors.
I always feel a great pleasure when, after having accomplished the mandates of the political laws which happily direct the action of the country, I find myself among you. To those institutions the nation owes the prosperity that natural alliance of the principles of progress, of liberty, and order, brings to peoples who know how to accept them with firmness and extend them widely.
You are called upon, in your character of representatives of the country, to watch over the maintenance and the execution of the constitution, and to take the part which is due to you, in the legislative organization, as one of the great powers of the state.
That mission, which is as difficult as it is important, you will accomplish it in appreciating the acts of my government, and in discussing projects of reforms and improvements which the public welfare claims so urgently.
War, which towards the close of the last legislative session appeared so imminent, has finally taken place between Italy and Prussia on one side, and Austria and several German states on the other.
Portugal has maintained herself in the strictest neutrality which was advised by her national interests, and has during the war preserved good and unalterable friendship with all the powers. These amicable relations have continued since the peace until at present.
I have had the satisfaction of receiving in this capital, a few days ago, the visit of her Majesty the Queen of Spain, accompanied by his majesty the King her august consort, his royal highness the Prince of the Asturias, and by her highness the Infanta Dona Isabelle. The presence of these illustrious guests has been very agreeable to my heart. It delighted me to see in the reciprocal manifestations exchanged on that happy occasion the proof of a cordial esteem which exists between the two sovereigns, and of the tendencies which, while drawing closer two peoples, brothers by their historical origins and the glory of their traditions, respect nationalities consolidated by ages, and favors the development of the vast. resources lavished by Providence upon the peninsula.
My minister of foreign affairs will place before you the settlement of two interesting questions, which were the subjects of a negotiation between Portugal and the Holy See: the prorogation of the extraordinary jurisdiction conferred upon the Archbishop of God, according to the concordat (agreement) upon the rights of the Portuguese crown relative to the dioceses in the east, and on the affair of the missionaries recently sent to Congo.
The satisfactory result of these negotiations leads us to hope that, with the same conciliatory spirit, means will be found to avoid other difficulties, so as to obtain a definite and complete restoration of the royal patronage in the dioceses depending from it in Asia and Africa. An important treaty of commerce and navigation has been concluded between my government and that of his majesty the Emperor of the French. That treaty inaugurates the commercial policy which we must adopt, in the sense of a wisely progressive liberty, seeking to open more extended markets for our products, and at the same time facilitating to foreign commerce the advantages of importation in the country.
I hope, that, besides these treaties, others of the same nature will yet be submitted to you during the present session. There will also be presented to the Cortes, for their examination, conventions with France relating to the powers and prerogatives of consuls; and between France and Belgium for the reciprocal guarantee of artistic and literary property.
The boundary and transit treaties between Portugal and Spain, as well the additions to the boundary treaty to fix the means of execution, have been ratified, as well as other treaties approved during the previous legislative session.[Page 689]
At a proper opportunity, projects for improving” our foreign service, and the report of the most important acts concerning international relations, will also be presented to you.
Security and public peace have been maintained without alteration in the interior—a happy consequence, not only of the general faith in the advantages resulting from the tranquility of the kingdom, but also of the influence which the public mind exercises more powerfully every day, on the progress and existence of the nation.
Civil administration and public instruction among free nations are different in their various branches, but they meet and unite in the general system which must rule them, that is to say, in the spirit of liberty, in the immediate co-operation of the nation, and in the develop-. ment of all intelligence and aptitude.
The general reform upon that subject will be laid before you by my government.
Led by the ideas already suggested, it will comprise every branch of the administration and instruction.
The obstacles which prevented the immediate enforcement of the law of June 6, 1864, have been overcome. The result has realized the expectations which were anticipated by the government, and met those of the interests which the law sought to protect.
A visit to every province has been ordered to the prefects.
An inspection and a commission of inquiry for the primary schools.
The immediate co-operation of the nation for everything that can generalize education among the people, and develop charity, are important matters which you will appreciate from the documents which will be presented to you.
The final introduction of the mortgage registry has been postponed owing to the difficulty of execution, which always precede every new organization in the public service, principally when it requires a great number of employés. However, my government hopes that the country will soon enjoy the benefits of the law of July 1, 1863.
The minister of justice will submit for your examination the project of a code penal, containing reforms upon the prison system, the organization of public administration, the subsidy for the church and clergy, and upon other subjects of an equal and important interest.
From the authorizations granted in the laws of July 27, 1855, and June 19, 1866, the government has called into effective service the army reserve, and opened in the treasury department two extraordinary credits for six hundred cantos (millions) reis for the purchase of armaments, equipments and war materials. The reserve was again disbanded by the decree of November 21, of last year. My government will give you an account of the use made of these authorizations, and you will have the opportunity to appreciate the motives which have determined the measures taken by the cabinet.
However, I call your attention to the organization of the army, where a reform is necessary. Some special proposals have been offered by the war department tending to the better formation of the army, the facility to develop its strength, and the conciliation of these reforms with the strictest economy and the general interest of the population. The military and disciplinary penal codes and the laws of trials of competence will be presented to you in the shape of projects of laws, which you will take into the consideration exacted by subjects of such high importance. The state of the finances calls upon the most serious attention, and is recommended to your solicitude. My minister of finances will present you with the budget of the receipts and general expenditures of the state.
Several projects of laws having for object the maintenance of the public credit, the continuance of the moral and material progress of the country, and the provisions for the expenses of the treasury, will be submitted to your deliberations.
I hope that you will examine these grave maters at the light of your patriotism, and I rely entirely upon the enlightened co-operation of the legislative body to bring to a successful issue the reforms required by that important branch of the State administration.
Relating to the colonies, measures of great importance have been decreed in accordance with the powers granted in the additional act. You will have the occasion to exercise your enlightened judgment. The government has taken up the question of free labor in the Portuguese possessions in Africa, to which the moral, commercial and economical are closely connected in these countries, which I hope will become one of the most considerable sources of public wealth. My government will present before you some proposals to improve the condition of the navy and the colonies;
To spread rapidly the network of roads in making them dependent from a general system which would facilitate everywhere the ordinary highway;
To continue the development of the communications so as to complete the general network of Portuguese railways;
To give legal sanction to the general principles of the constitution for banking and anonymous companies;
To develop credit in the localities, to seek to create the easy representation of all banking values, which completes the economical purpose of the law of June 22, 1866;
To organize the system of saving banks, (Caisses d’Epargues,) and that of other, establishments of popular credit;
To give to rural industry all the impulsion and encouragement in the power of the administration;[Page 690]
To create resources for the drainage of marshes, and utilize the excellent, but now useless lands, by cultivation.
These form the general system of the projects which will be laid before you by the minister of public works. In the political state of a nation whose internal tranquillity is not disturbed, and whose liberty is the basis of the government, administrative improvements and judicious use of the vast resources of the country are the problems the solution of which is interesting and important to the community. I trust them to your devotion to the country.
The enlightened initiative of the government, the energy and great importance of its acts, and the strong support of the representatives of the country, are the indispensable conditions to fulfil happily the high mission of governments in this age of movement and progress. The legislative session is opened.