Mr. Horace Rublee to Mr. Fish.
Sir: The Federal Assembly of Switzerland concluded its regular summer session on Saturday, the 24th instant. Much of the time of the session was occupied in considering and adopting measures for the effective [Page 236]maintenance of the neutrality in the war which has broken out so unexpectedly between France and the North German Confederation.
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There is a noticeable clause in the message of the Federal Council affirming the right of Switzerland under the treaties of 1815 to take military occupation, in case of war, of North Savoy, of the district known as the Chablais, notwithstanding the fact that it has since become a part of French territory. Such right of occupation was conceded as essential to the maintenance of the neutrality of Switzerland at the date of those treaties. Intimations have appeared in the European press that Switzerland has been encouraged by some great power to put forward this pretension at the present time with a view to embarrassing France, since nothing was heard of it during the late Italian war. There is, however, every reason to believe that Switzerland, in tends to act in good faith in maintaining her neutrality, and that as far as possible she will avoid giving any reasonable pretext for complaint to either of the belligerent powers. At the same time there is little doubt but, at the present time, the sympathies of a large part of her people are strongly with the North German Confederation.
Prior to the adjournment the legislative body conferred the amplest powers upon the Federal Council in calling out troops, borrowing money, and doing whatever in its discretion may be necessary for the defense of the country. The general-in-chief of the army, General Hans Herzog, was elected by ballot by the Federal Assembly, and an army of 37,500 has already been put in the field for the protection of the frontiers.
No definite action was taken upon the report of the Federal Council respecting a revision of the federal constitution; but the whole subject was referred to a committee which will sit during the autumn months, and will submit a report to the Federal Assembly at its session in December next.
I learn that recently the government of Great Britain has given an order for the manufacture of 40,000 Martini rifles in Switzerland, finding that they can be made more cheaply here than in England. The order, however, cannot be filled at present, since the manufactories are now engaged in completing a supply for Switzerland.