No. 60.
Mr. Partridge to Mr. Fish.

No. 176.]

Sir: On the 5th instant the session of the legislative chambers was opened by a speech from the Throne, a translation of which is hereto annexed.

It will be seen that this time the Rio Branco ministry have not followed their own example on previous occasions, and made no allusion to all the most important events or measures of the year.

They were obliged to speak of the ecclesiastical question, in which they have triumphed, but have nothing to say on the question of civil marriage, which has formed part of that discussion, nor of the attitude of the Argentine Republic, which has taken up most attention since the trial of the bishops.

Since then nothing has been done, because the ministry finds itself with a bare majority of one or two, and which threatens to disappear, so that no measure of importance or reform that was needed and promised has been brought forward or discussed.

When the ministerial party find, at a session, that their members are not all present, they depart, so as to leave the chambers without a quorum, so that an adjournment till next day takes place, which is repeated on the morrow if the steamer on which some of their adherents are to arrive has not come in.

Meantime we hear less talk of war from Buenos Ayres, where the result of the election for president is still in doubt. Here, however, they think this is only a delay on the part of the Argentines; so the [Page 93] naval armaments continue, and every vessel of the Brazilian navy is put in order for service.

The Argentine consul-general (chargé ad interim) informs me that he thinks there is no adequate cause for all this preparation here for defense, and regards it as a threat on this side which may bring about the thing they profess to wish to avoid. From what he as well as others from there tell me, and from the experience we have had of this war-cry for now three years, I am inclined to think that there is every day less probability of war, as I have already informed the Department. The message of the Argentine president to the chambers just opened in Buenos Ayres also appears to confirm this hope.

It is said that in case the present ministry should find itself without a majority, there might be some change in its composition, perhaps of leaders, so as to go on with the present house; for it is believed that the Emperor is unwilling to grant a dissolution, being anxious that the proposed electoral reforms should be adopted so as to govern any new election.

The chances, however, seem to be that the Viscount Rio Branco will remain; and, perhaps, the reduction of the export duty, (from 9 per cent, to 7 per cent.,) which he told me he intended to propose in favor of cotton and sugar, may assist it.

I am, &c.,


Speech of the Emperor of Brazil at the opening of the Legislative Chambers, May, 1874.

the general assembly.—opening of the session, 1874, (May.)

The legislative session of this year was opened May 5, by His Majesty the Emperor, with the following speech:

August and most worthy representatives of the nation:

Your meeting is always to me a matter of rejoicing and well-based trust.

Thanks to Divine Providence, the public peace has remained unshaken, and Brazil prospers under the influence of this great benefit.

The last news I had from my beloved daughter, the Princess Imperial, Countess d’Eu, brought me the grateful certainty of her pregnancy. In this case she ought to return to Brazil, in fulfillment of one of the conditions of the matrimonial contract, but perhaps she may find herself obliged to avoid so long a journey, in compliance with the opinion of medical authorities.

The sanitary state of many points of the empire has not been satisfactory, but the sufferings of the people have been attenuated by the assistance of the state and private charity.

Our international relations have not been altered, and the government is trying to draw them still closer by bonds of friendship and reciprocal interests.

The definite agreements of peace between the Argentine Republic and that of Paraguay have not yet been concluded; it is to be hoped, however, that they will be so, pacifically and amicably. With this object we have given our ally the co-operation we are bound to by the agreement of November 19, 1872.

Exchange has been made of the ratifications of a consular convention with Great Britain, of a treaty of extradition with Belgium, and of a postal convention with the Argentine Republic.

The procedure of the bishops of Olinda and Pará has subjected them to the judgment of the supreme tribunal of justice. This fact has caused me great sorrow, but it became requisite that so grave an offense to the constitution and laws should not remain unpunished.

Firm in its purpose to maintain the national sovereignty intact, and to guard the rights of citizens against the excesses of ecclesiastical authority, the government counts on your support; and, without abandoning the moderation employed till now, shall succeed in putting an end to a conflict as injurious to social order as it is to the true interest of religion.

[Page 94]

The public receipts diminished in some provinces in the beginning of the current fiscal year, but it is not anticipated that their total will fall below the previous estimate. Notwithstanding the increased expense through the recent improvements authorized and the renewal of part of the material of the army and navy, it is calculated that this fiscal year and the preceding one will show surplus revenue.

Agriculture, our principal and bountiful industry, demands from your intelligence provisions that will promptly remove the greater obstacles with which it is struggling. The deficiency of loan establishments is felt, to afford the planters, on conditions not onerous, the money they require for the perfecting and developing of their labors. The new contract with the Bank of Brazil is becoming beneficial, but all the provinces are not included in the bank’s circumscription, nor are its means sufficient for all.

Last year you adopted various important resolutions. I feel assured you will continue in that course, and will consider, in the present session, other projects which your solicitude for the public good will recommend to your preference.

Popular education and instruction continue an object of the government’s most assiduous cares, and a plan will be presented to you, the tendency of which will be to give a systematic and more vigorous impulse to that essential progress, to which private initiative, also, is rendering a most praiseworthy co-operation.

Electoral reform urges, and I trust you will carry it into effect this year, thereby attending to the high interests involved in the regular action of our political liberty.

The organization of the military force, and, likewise, the guarantees of individual liberty, appeal imperatively for a law to regulate impressment in a just and efficacious manner, and to remove thereby the insuffiency and abuses of the present system.

August and most worthy representatives of the nation: Every day strengthens our faith in the brilliant future of our country. Its realization will be the best recompense of our unceasing efforts.

The session is open.

Constitutional Emperor and Perpetual Defender of Brazil.