Mr. Munro to Mr. Seward.
Sir: The ordinary session of the Cortes was opened yesterday by the president of the council of ministers, in the name of the King, who at the last moment determined on not going in person, as had been publicly announced.
No royal address was delivered, although such a document is said to have been prepared, and the ceremony was confined to the reading of a royal decree declaring the session as duly opened.
The fact was known yesterday, and the official paper contains the announcement to-day that the whole cabinet has resigned, the Duke of Louié, formerly president of the council, having been charged with the formation of a new ministry.
The late cabinet had created great dissatisfaction among the whole population, by endeavoring to put into execution certain laws levying new taxes on articles of daily and indispensable consumption among the poorer classes, such as wine, bread, meat, rice, &c., and great opposition was made by the populations of Lisbon and Oporto especially.
In the latter town great agitation prevailed, and all the shop-keepers subject to the new tax, which commenced to be enforced on the 1st instant, shut up their stores, and obstinately and passively refused to give in any declarations for levying the tax.
In Lisbon mass meetings have taken place; the troops were called out, and in some instances, while trying to stop several deputations from going to the royal palace, charged the people, causing several casualties. It appears certain that the late ministry intended to advise the King to adjourn the Cortes till the end of February, a measure which was to have been carried into effect yesterday, after the reading of the royal address at the Cortes; but his Majesty, being well aware of the agitation in the country, refused to adopt this measure, and the cabinet resigned.
The town is still in a considerable state of ferment; the garrison is under arms in quarters, and the streets are being patroled by mounted police, and until a new cabinet be formed and of such a nature as to insure the desired change in the obnoxious laws, the present excitement will not probably subside.
I shall have the honor of communicating any new event on this subject, the probability being that the Duke of Louié will not succeed in forming a suitable cabinet, and either the Marquis de Sa’du Bandeira or Count d’Avila may eventually be called upon to reorganize the situation.
I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, sir, your most obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.[Page 92]