to Mr. Evarts
Berlin , June 10, 1878. (Received June 26.)
Sir: Referring to my dispatch No. 14, I am glad to report that the condition of the Emperor has so materially improved that his final recovery is no longer doubtful. The chief remaining difficulty is occasioned by a buckshot which has lodged between the bones of the right forearm in such proximity to an artery that it cannot be extracted. This circumstance, which prevents the use of the hand, and the necessity of a long period of repose, led to the appointment of the Crown Prince as Regent of the Empire on the evening of the 4th instant. The proclamation of this act was delayed, because the constitution of the empire contains no provision for the government of a regency. Nevertheless, such provision being contained in the constitution of Prussia, and the hereditary imperial dignity being conferred on the Prussian royal house, the right of the Emperor to order and the imperial council to accept and proclaim the regency of the Crown Prince has been directly inferred, and will probably not be disputed in any quarter.
On the 6th instant the official announcement, signed by all the members of the imperial ministry, was given to the public.
Dr. Falk, minister of worship and education, retains his place, having withdrawn his resignation. The universal sentiment is one of concurrence in the expediency of the act. On the 8th instant, however, another and much more important measure was announced, and public opinion is sure to be divided in regard to it. The Prussian Government has formally proposed the dissolution of the present Parliament (Reichstag) to the imperial council, on the ground that a repressive law is-now more than ever necessary, and that the passage of such a law could not be expected from the Parliament, in view of its recent action. The proposition, signed by Prince Bismarck, is very carefully worded, and the closing passage is evidently designed to allay apprehensions of any general reactionary tendency on the part of the imperial government. It runs thus:
The Prussian Government * * * is not of the opinion that the amount of liberty given by existing laws needs, in a general sense, any restriction; with the measures [Page 216] of security which it desires, it holds that it is neither just nor serviceable to strike at any other movements than those which endanger the existing civil order; it believes that it is precisely the movement of the social democracy which calls for defensive measures, and against which alone such measures should be directed.
The imperial council will meet to-morrow to discuss this proposition, but it is already understood that it will be accepted.
According to the constitution of the empire the elections must be held within sixty days from the promulgation of the decree of dissolution, and the new Parliament must meet within thirty days thereafter.
The fact that all parties are already taking measures looking toward a new election shows that, whatever view may be taken of the government’s policy, its enforcement is considered inevitable.
The national liberal central committee is summoned to meet here on the 16th. Since the last attempt upon the Emperor’s life more than a hundred arrests for lèse-majesté have been made throughout Germany, followed, in some instances, by exceptionally severe punishment. The current of public opinion apparently continues to set steadily against the social-democratic party, since the evidences of a conspiracy, extending to the affiliations of the latter in other countries, are gradually increasing. This will undoubtedly affect the popular vote, but to what extent cannot be estimated in advance.
Inasmuch as the same socialistic movement has already become a disturbing element in the United States, I consider it important to report the progress of events in Germany, and shall endeavor to keep the Department fully informed, making use of private as well as public sources of knowledge.
I have, &c.