No. 7.
Mr. Jay to Mr. Fish.

No. 655.]

Sir: The opening of the Austrian Reichsrath by the Emperor in person occurred yesterday with the usual formalities; and the ceremonial has attracted the greater interest from the fact that the present Reichsrath is the first where the members of the House of Deputies have been elected, not as formerly by the Diets, but directly by the people under the new electoral law, of whose provisions I had the honor of advising you by my No. 545, of the 18th of February. The speech of the Emperor, of which I will append a translation, was cordially received, and the closing passages were warmly cheered. His Majesty remarked that they were entering upon a new period of their constitutional life, on the basis of an independent representation, which would enable all parties to give full expression to their needs and their wishes; and he invoked their intelligent co-operation in aiding his government to develop the constitutional institutions of the empire, and to protect its unity and its strength without forgetting the interests of the various nationalities. Allusion was made to the financial crisis now prevailing from exaggerated values and an abuse of credit—for the redress of which measures would be proposed—and to bills which would be submitted for their consideration on the relation between the church and the state by reason of the dissolution of the concordat with the Holy See.

Stress was laid upon the necessity of establishing a constitutional judiciary, and of further provision respecting the service of the army.

A paragraph was devoted to the Universal Exhibition, which, despite of difficulties, had achieved a brilliant success; and which, exercising a beneficent influence upon the spiritual and economic life of peoples, tending to the development of civilization and of the spirit of invention, and to a just appreciation of honest labor, would be appreciated throughout the world, while it aroused pride and hope in all patriotic breasts. The visits of sovereigns far and near had strengthened the ties of friendship [Page 13] and augmented the guarantees of peace, while they had made more important the position of the monarchy in the concert of states.

The speech closed with an assurance that, amid vicissitudes and painful trials, Austria to-day found herself rejuvenated at home and commanding respect abroad; that in every domain of public life the barriers that restrained free movements had fallen, and they were on a path that would conduct them to a solution of their great task—the union of the people of Austria in a powerful state, guided by the ideas of right and of freedom.

To the accomplishment of that task, faithful to his motto, “Viribus unitis,” he invoked their united efforts for the honor and safety of their dear Austria.

The applause at the conclusion of the address and as the Emperor retired, passing between the members of the two houses, who occupied the floor of the hall, was hearty and prolonged.

The newspapers this morning exhibit an unusual unanimity in the favorable view taken of the address.

The Fremdenblatt says:

Never did a speech from the throne bear testimony in a manner more clear and precise to the perfect accord of the sovereign with the principle and policy of his ministers.* * The Emperor has really pronounced in it noble and patriotic words, and in recognizing that his task as well as ours is to make Austria a powerful state based upon the ideas of right and of liberty, he has created so intimate an alliance with his peoples that it will survive all vicissitudes of time.

The New Free Press remarks that—

The discourse from the throne has produced an impression of profound satisfaction. The spirit that animates it is that of the modern ideas. * * * * If the discourse proclaims as the task for all the living forces of the empire to make Austria a powerful state, based upon the ideas of right and of liberty, it is the erection, as it were, of two columns of Hercules, whose signal-lights will illuminate our whole public life * The discourse from the throne is a programme which the Reichsrath and the population may greet with acclamation. There is in it nothing obscure or unequivocal. It takes into serious consideration the real needs of the empire and the most pressing exigencies of liberty, and, above all, it is eminently fitted to awaken the hope of an understanding and of action simultaneous, harmonious, salutary, and beneficent between the government and the representation of the country.

The Morgen Post says that the words of the Emperor are like a ray of light which penetrates the dark clouds. The Tagblatt says:

The words quoted from the discourse from the throne authorize us to assume that yesterday in the throne-hall the modern constitutional state has received a solemn consecration. The extraordinary character of the enunciations of yesterday do not admit of their acceptation as if they reflected in general only the opinions of the present ministry.

The Gazette Allemande says:

Over the new reforms which are in preparation, and which, for the most part, correspond with our exigencies, the sky expands without a cloud to disturb the peace—reflecting the wishes of all civilized people, and promising to preserve its serenity for some time at least—thanks to the real political necessities of the powers that control the situation.

The New Fremdenblatt, after remarking that it had often deplored and blamed the Auersperg ministry for not taking sufficient account of the passions of the masses, and forgetting that cold reasoning was not sufficient to move the large majority of a great people, says:

That the discourse from the throne of yesterday breathes for almost all of its parties warm and patriotic sentiments.

The Tages Presse expresses similar views.

[Page 14]

The (old) Presse says:

Never, in truth, has a discourse from the throne recognized and indicated in a manner so beautiful and so noble the mission of this old empire.

The Vaterland, the organ of the federalists, who are opposed to the constitution, observes:

As to the discourse from the throne, elaborated by the Auersperg ministry, one may say that it is interesting from what it says and from what it omits to say. The partisans of the constitution have every reason to be enchanted with it.

The Volksfreund, the organ of the clericals, who have acted with the federalists constituting the party of the right, says that “the last days have showed a decomposition of the party of the right” from the refusal to appear in the Reichsrath of the Czeks and the Moravian catholic nationals. Among the absentees are to be counted also the Poles, who denounced the electoral law in advance as violating the guarantees given to the diet of Gallicia.

The Volksfreund, under these circumstances, invites the deputies opposed to the ministry to unite in forming a “catholic conservative party of the empire.”

I have, &c.,


speech from the throne, appearing in the “mémorial diplomatique.”


Speech of the Emperor at the opening of the Reichsrath, on the 3d November, 1873.

Honorable Gentlemen of both Houses of the Reichsrath:

With joy I see you assembled around my throne for the faithful performance of your duties as citizens, and I bid you welcome while I present my imperial greeting. A new epoch of our constitutional existence has been opened for the formation of the lower house. Through direct elections the representation of the empire has acquired its independence, and fee ground has been erected upon which all parties may be enabled to express their claims and their desires.

It will now be your task, honorable gentlemen, to finish the edifice with refined wisdom upon the foundation obtained, and to provide, in union with my government, for the maintenance and development of our constitutional institutions.

Without trespassing upon the guaranteed rights of the various countries of the monarchy, you will develop the unity and the might of the empire without neglecting the interests of the different races; you will satisfy the requirements of the state; and you will consecrate all your endeavors to the great and difficult problems for the successful solution of which I appeal to your intelligent aid.

In this manner, thanks to a gradual advance and to diligent labor, you will reach the desired point, where, by unanimous care for the interest, both of the united, as well as individual portions of the empire, and by affection for a common country, differences of opinion will disappear and interior tranquillity will be founded upon a durable foundation.

To a period of national economic elevation has succeeded one of those reverses which occur from time to time in the existence of nations as a consequence of the hasty and exaggerated employment of financial means and credit. My government has endeavored, within the limits traced by the laws, and by its own responsibility, to preserve as far as possible commerce and industry from the pernicious consequences of this disturbance of confidence. The measures which have been taken for this purpose will be immediately submitted to your constitutional deliberations.

My government will propose to you at the same time measures adapted to sustain confidence, to secure the national activity from serious disturbances, and to replace the domestic relations upon a firm basis.

In the draught of the budget which will be submitted to you you will find those principles of economy realized which should be rigorously followed in order to maintain the finances of the government in a satisfactory condition. In order to realize the [Page 15] urgent reform of the system of direct taxes there will be presently submitted to you a series of draughts of laws; also, in the matter of indirect taxes, your aid will be required in the matter of different laws, of which the draughts have been prepared.

The approaching expiration of the charter of the National Bank renders it necessary to regulate for the future the condition of this institution, and to take such measures as may be necessary to attain the important regulation of the valuta.

In order to adapt economical legislation to the requirements of the period, my government is engaged in preparing draughts of laws relative to shares and to the stock-exchange; also to the exercise of industry and to railways, as well as to the advancements of natural progress.

The draughts of laws necessary for filling the gaps which the abolition of the convention made with the Papal state has produced in the legislation relative to the relations between the Catholic Church and my government will be presently submitted to you.

My government considers one of its most important tasks to be the reform of criminal law, of civil procedure, and of judicial re-organization which is connected with it. The present condition of these labors of my government induces me to hope that you will succeed in shortly terminating the work so important, for the purpose of assuring, simplifying, and accelerating the administration of justice.

The draught of a law for the creation of an administrative court of justice, which could not be discussed during the preceding session, will now be submitted to your constitutional examination. My government will present a series of draughts of laws relative to the pensions of invalids, to the quartering of troops, to the organization and use of the armed civil force.

Notwithstanding the difficulties with which the exposition had to struggle, this great enterprise has had a brilliant career, and it has been universally appreciated; its salutary influence on the intellectual and economic existence of nations, on the progress of civilization, on the encouragement of the spirit of invention, and of industrial activity, as well as on the respect due to honest labor, will be gratefully regarded in all parts of the world. With fullest satisfaction I may therefore say, that in this pacific tournament we have contended with honor, and have obtained a success which must fill every patriotic heart with pride and with hope.

The visits paid to me during the Universal Exposition by the sovereigns of states, remote and near, have secured more closely the bonds of friendship with these empires; they have augmented the guarantees of peace, and the influence of monarchy in the government of nations.

Honorable Gentlemen of both Houses of the Reichsrath:

After various vicissitudes and disastrous struggles, Austria is to-day renovated at home, while she commands respect abroad. In all branches of public life, the causes which interfered with free movement have been suppressed, and we have entered upon those ways which conduct to the solution of the grand problem, the union of the various populations of Austria; the establishment of a powerful state conducted by sentiments of right and of liberty. Let us labor, gentlemen, in this task, faithful to my motto, (Viribus unitis,) and let us join our efforts in a spirit of concord for the honor and prosperity of our beloved Austria.