Mr. Bartlett to Mr. Seward.

No. 11.]

Sir: The two chambers of the Diet of this government met on the 17th ultimo; at the grand hall of the palace, to be formally opened by an address from the throne. The members of the diplomatic corps were present by invitation, and every courtesy extended to them.

The address, of which enclosure No. 1 is a copy, and No. 2 a translation, was read by the King. It presents no remarkable feature to be commented upon, unless it be perhaps the acknowledgment of an extreme solicitude on the part of the government to perfect its armament by means of the latest improved breech-loading rifles, which were obtained from the United States, and to put the country generally in a better state of defense. This, as stated by the address, was rendered necessary by the increase of the armed forces in nearly all the countries of Europe.

The destitution in the north of Sweden, spoken of in the address, is very severe, yet everything has been done for the sufferers that it is possible to do, until navigation opens. The people of several of the contiguous countries sent contributions which reached the distressed district before the close of navigation, and the south of Sweden have responded nobly to the cry for relief. The government sent ships with supplies, which were first taken to the extreme northern ports and distributed as the ice drove them southward. A full knowledge of the extent of the famine did not reach me until it was too late for any relief to come from the full granaries of our country. Next spring, however, much good could be rendered them by the sympathizing benevolence of our countrymen. Yet I doubt very much if Sweden is not as able to take care of its own poor as any of the countries of Europe. This famine being confined to a single district of the kingdom, from loss of three consecutive crops, is brought more immediately, in all its terrible details, to the notice of the world than as though the suffering were general throughout an entire country. Therefore, while we sympathize with the poverty here, we overlook an equal amount at present existing in almost every country in Europe.

Sweden, with its rich agricultural south, and vast northern mineral resources, under an enterprising development which has recently inspired capitalists and laborers to greater exertions, is able to sustain three times its present number of inhabitants.

There is a noticeable increase of liberal sentiment evinced by a large, and perhaps the controlling political party of the country, which if carried very much further in the direction of democracy, will soon leave but the shadow of past royal prerogatives for the throne, and make the line of demarcation between a monarchical and republican form of government so dim as to be inconsistent with either.

In diplomatic circles, the difference between our government and England, arising from the Alabama and other claims, is often the subject of conversation. There is but one expression, which is, that England [Page 100]would not be justified in jeopardizing the political and commercial interests of the whole world by refusing an indemnity, which, in their several opinions, our government has more or less right to demand. The payment of our claims is considered vastly disproportionate to the terrible consequences of a war between the two countries. The English minister at this court is not an exception to this general expression of opinion, but freely admits that his government had better pay at once and allay the agitation which daily widens the breach between the two countries.

I have the honor to be, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,

JOSEPH J. BARTLETT.

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

[Translation.]

Speech of His Majesty the King, at the opening of the Diet, January 17, 1868.

I highly appreciate, at this moment, the provision finally introduced into the fundamental law, by which, without the delays established thus far, I find you again reassembled about me, to participate with me in proper measures to insure the welfare of the country.

My relations with all foreign powers continue to be satisfactory, and marked with sincere friendship. The general political situation, and the zeal shown in nearly all the countries of Europe to increase their armed forces, imposes equally upon us the duty to organize our means of defense conformably with the necessities of the times.

The multiplicity and constantly increasing administrative business demands a more suitable distribution of matters to be referred to the council, especially if we would arrive at a desired simplification of preparatory work in subordinate departments. Consequently, I have resolved to propose to you a change in the constitutional statute, by means of which may be instituted, with other prescriptions relating thereto, a new ministerial department for agriculture, manufactures, and public works.

The joint committee named for the revision of the compact of union between Sweden and Norway has handed me its important work, and the project is at present the subject of important preparatory deliberations.

A very limited crop, absolutely insufficient in the northern provinces of the kingdom, has produced a considerable increase in the price of the first necessaries of life, threatening the very existence of the poor population. By employing the funds you placed at my disposal, I have endeavored to aid them; and private benevolence, not only at home but from kindred peoples, as well as from foreign countries, has promptly and generously been offered for the relief of this unfortunate population.

In spite of the difficulties which unforeseen expenditures and the diminution of revenue, resulting from the dearness of subsistence, could not fail to produce, the general situation of finances, however, permits us to renounce, commencing with next year, the special tax, which at the last Diet you voted for, arming our military forces, without any increase of other tax being necessary to satisfy the necessities of the government.

The underestimate which, on account of the circumstance I have just mentioned, could not be avoided, for the present year will be supplied, partially, by funds in hand, and might have been fully, if the excesses of preceding years had not been absorbed by their use in railway constructions—sums exceeding the total of loans made for this object.

I have been unceasing in my active solicitude for the organization of our means of defense, and I hope to be able, in the course of this session, to communicate to you a plan upon which, I think, they should be based and established. Starting upon the principle also expressed by yourselves, that it is the duty of every citizen to take part in the defense of his native soil, I have adopted, in conformity with your advice, and with a view to lighten the sacrifices which, in time of peace, spring from a general duty, a plan for the preservation of well-exercised and permanent frameworks to form the nucleus of our army. After mature deliberation, I have found that frameworks sufficient, in every respect, could, with the least felt expense, and without offensive injustice, be most suitably formed upon the base of old national institutions, characteristic of our country and adopted in our customs.

It is my intention to maintain them in their fundamental principles, proposing, at the same time, to introduce therein useful reforms.

With a view to furnish our troops with arms of an improved construction, I have [Page 101]adopted measures which, though the fulfillment of contracts made abroad experienced delays, contrary to my expectations, insure us a satisfactory certainty for an uninterrupted manufacture of these arms at home.

The projected changes in important branches of legislation, and the more equitable application of duty, which for a long time already have been under consideration, have not yet been brought to a requisite maturity to be submitted to you. I have resolved, however, to present to you a proposition for the abolition of arrest of debtors of good faith.

I shall ask allowances for public works with a view, particularly, to aid immediately those provinces where labor offers equally the advantage of assuring the existence of a great number of needy, and shall also ask your support for the voting of necessary funds for the active continuation of railway works, destined to connect the capitals of the united kingdoms.

At the universal industrial competition, opened at Paris during the past year, Sweden honorably maintained her rank by the side of countries which lead in the development of peaceful callings.

So far as statistics show, the progress of our industry, in spite of difficulties with which the most part of our manufactures have had to struggle during the last year, has acquired a progressive extension.

Resting upon this accomplished fact and upon multiplied indications denoting that Sweden establishes herself more and more upon the sound base of economical independence—that of measuring her necessities with her resources, and of renouncing expenses which are neither indispensable nor justifiable—we can face the future with the full conviction that the obstacles to which we have been exposed will have taught us salutary lessons, and will thus become the source, not of discouragement nor of the prostration of our strength, but of their new development for a substantial well-being.

Convinced of your enlightened zeal for all that can insure the public good, I invoke for your work the benediction of Divine Providence, and in declaring, in conformity with the constitution, the present session open, I renew to you, gentlemen, the assurance of my friendship and of my royal affection.