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