No. 503.
Mr. Maynard to Mr. Evarts.

No. 207.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose the imperial address delivered before the two houses of the Ottoman General Assembly at the opening on the 13th instant. The English and the French versions will both be found.

Like most state papers of the Sublime Porte, it is prepared with consummate skill, and can hardly fail to create a favorable impression abroad. At home repeated disappointment of high-raised hopes will repress popular enthusiasm.

The new House of Deputies has organized temporarily by the choice of Mikhalaki Effendi, a Bulgarian from Philippopolis, to preside. The president and first and second vice-presidents are to be appointed by His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, from a list of three candidates for each office elected by the house. The president of the former house, the learned Ahmed Vefik Pasha, is not a member of the present house.

I am, & c.,

[Inclosure in No. 207.—Translation.]

The Sultan’s speech.

I rejoice to open the Parliament and to meet the deputies of the nation. You are aware that Russia having declared war upon us last year, our government has been obliged to defend itself and resist aggression. The war continues to this moment. Four years ago an insurrection had broken out in Herzegovina and in other localities. [Page 853] Notwithstanding the equality which we had decreed should exist between all classes of our subjects, and the immunities which tended to keep up their different languages and races, one portion of our subjects had strayed from their duty into unlawful courses. These misguided men have not only done harm to their fellow-subjects, but have done themselves grievous injury. The inhabitants of Moldo-Wallachia possessed local autonomy which insured their welfare, and they had no legitimate cause for declaring war to our government. These facts, unprecedented in history, have intensified the difficulties of the war, but the country has nevertheless put forth all the resistance of which it was capable. By the proofs of self-denial which all classes of Ottomans have given, they have shown their patriotic spirit. The courage and bravery of our soldiers have excited universal admiration. I appeal to the patriotism and support of all my people to defend our sacred rights. One of the most satisfactory measures taken by our government is the promotion of a civic guard, which will soon be completed. Our non-Mussulman subjects have displayed a conscientious desire to share in the defense of the country. The constitution has completely confirmed the rights granted to our non-Mussulman subjects; by their perfect equality in the eyes of the law, they have also acquired the equality of rights and duties. It was therefore natural that they should share in the military service, which is the first of duties and the origin of equality; consequently we cannot sufficiently appreciate their readiness to accomplish this duty. The government has decided to enlist the non-Mussulman population in the ranks of the army.

The only safeguard for the empire is to carry out the constitution in a complete manner. Our dearest wishes are to see all classes of our empire enjoy the blessings of complete equality, our country profit by the progress of modern civilization, the reform of our financial administration, the execution of all our engagements, the division of taxes and charges according to the rules of good political economy, and the collection of the revenues without damaging the interests of the people, the revision of the judicial system according to the exigencies of the times, so as to insure the exact distribution of justice in our tribunals, the reforms of the vakoofs to facilitate the tenure of landed property, the formation of communes, which is to be the basis of our administrative system, and the settlement of their special attributes; finally, the reorganization of the gendarmerie (police force). Unfortunately the calamities of war, which have surpassed all limits, have retarded the accomplishment of our sincerest wishes. An inoffensive numerous population, women and children, whose life and honor should be sacred according to the rules of warfare, have been exposed to barbarous and cruel atrocities, which, however, conscience reproves. I still hope that nothing will prevent the progress of justice in the future. The municipal law proposed last year for the capital and the provinces, submitted to the Parliament and embodied in a code of laws, and the internal regulation of the senate and the chambers, both approved, have been carried out. Other regulations prepared by the council of state will be this year also submitted to your attention. There are some amongst them of great importance, such as those concerning the civil procedure, the general election, the duties of members and council of ministers, the high court of justice, the cour des comptes. You will also have especially to discuss these proposals, to resolve on certain questions relating to the laws of the provinces, the public press, the taxes, and to the state of siege, which have been discussed in the last session. I call your special attention to the budget regulations for the next year. We have not omitted to make internal reforms, although the government was engaged in a great war. I may give this as an evident proof of our desire to stimulate the progress of the country. Gentlemen, deputies, it is by perfect liberty of discussion that the truth can be elicited in questions of political and civil rights, and the public interests secured. This liberty has been ordained by the constitution. I think it is useless to give you further injunctions on this subject. Our relations with friendly powers are of the most cordial kind. May the Most High bless our common efforts.