Mr. Hay to Mr. Seward.
Sir: The official Gazette of yesterday contained the text of the laws in regard to schools and civil marriage, commonly called the confessional laws. On the 24th of October last I announced to you the passage of the first of these measures through the lower house of the Reichsrath. On the night of the 21st of March the city of Vienna was illuminated, the ministers serenaded, and the national hymn sung by a vast concourse of people around the statue of Joseph II, in honor of a favorable vote in the same matter in the House of Lords. But it was only on Monday last that these measures received the imperial sanction and became laws of the empire. By a singular and touching coincidence, the promulgation of these laws took place on the same day with the funeral of Dr. Mühlfeld, who was their principal framer and most strenuous advocate in the House of Representatives. He died on Sunday, unconscious that his great work was at last completed.
No intelligent persons, whom I have seen, have at any time seriously doubted that the Emperor would sanction these measures. Since he has entered upon the new constitutional path which he is now treading, he has acted with the utmost propriety and good faith, in submitting his personal sentiments and desires to the regularly expressed wish of the people of the empire. But the very long delay in the matter; the mysterious silence of Count Crivelli in Rome, from his arrival there until his sudden death; the presence at Pesth-Ofen of members of the imperial family of notorious reactionary sympathies; and the ceaseless activity of the higher clergy in Austria, all combined to excite a vague feeling of distrust among the people, which is now finally relieved. There is, however, no enthusiastic demonstration over the result. The effervescence ended in March, when the Herrenhaus voted.
Baron Heysenbug started yesterday for Rome, to resume the negotiations with the Pope, which were broken off by the death of Count Crivelli. It is not thought that the Papal government will push matters to an open breach with this court. They will more probably prefer to accept the inevitable state of things—saving all their rights or claims by a strong protest, and trusting by their still great influence, in every class from palace to hovel, to prevent the recent legislation from inflicting any practical damage upon the ecclesiastical power.
I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.