Mr. Delaplaine to Mr. Fish.
Vienna, May 8, 1874. (Received May 28.)
Sir: The Austrian Reichsrath was yesterday prorogued, and will probably not again meet before the middle of October next. The session now terminated seems to deserve a memorable place in the parliamentary history of the country, from the important acts passed during its continuance, among which are, since the adoption of the electoral reform, the passage of three of the four confessional bills. With regard to these bills, not only a powerful and determined opposition was successfully overcome, but with unexpected majorities in both houses. These laws have since received the sanction of the Emperor, and thereby any hope or illusion entertained by the ultramontane party as to his possible adverse action has been extinguished and dispelled.
During a reign of twenty-five years’ duration, in which heavy and almost crushing trials have been experienced, the Emperor has learned the wishes and the wants of his people, and knows that the measures of the present liberal ministry are imperatively demanded in order to assure the existence of constitutional freedom in his empire, and thereby to advance the general improvement and welfare of his subjects. Accordingly the latest note of the Vatican, the threats of certain ecclesiastical members of the lower house, and the lamentations of the bishops in the upper house, were powerless in influencing his decision.
The new confessional laws invade no personal right; they mingle in no dogmatical dispute, and allow to the Catholic Church full freedom of control over its domestic and actual concerns, while they simply exact from the ecclesiastics obedience and subjection to the laws of the realm.
Herein appears also a laudable distinction in favor of these bills as compared with the latest confessional laws of Prussia, since the former do not invoke or allow civil or police interference upon every slight occasion [Page 25] of complaint, but are founded upon the broad basis of universal and unexceptional toleration, with security of equal rights to all.
In another important measure, which has been under consideration by the Reichsrath, some disappointment has, however, been felt by the community, and more especially with the conduct of the lower house. I refer to the measures for relieving the financial crisis which culminated on the 9th of May last, and which has continued almost unabated during the year since elapsed. It is complained that the plans proposed by the government were well meant, but ineffective, and that even these were received with timidity and hesitation, and not treated with the energy and promptitude which the crisis demanded. It must be, however, satisfactory to acknowledge that in the midst of private detriment and discredit, the public credit has been preserved intact, and by means of a wise economy a near approach has been made to that aim of all sound financial policy, namely, an accordance between the revenues and the expenditures of the government.
It is unquestionably a meritorious result of the constitutional government, that under its rule the financial system of Austria has been consolidated. Various laws have, moreover, been passed favorable in their operation toward increase of the productive labor and resources of the country, and thus materially aiding its financial ability, wherefore a well-assured confidence may be entertained that hereby the losses and detriment sustained so generally in the community through a spirit of excessive speculation will be repaired.
As a further basis to this confidence, may be stated the firm conviction that the period of changes and experiments in the system of government is now forever passed, and that the action and voices of the monarch and of the people have definitely and irrevocably decided in favor of the maintenance of constitutional rights and of national progress as its consequence.
I have, &c.,