to Mr. Evarts.
Paris, February 7, 1879. (Received February 24.)
Sir: The administration of President Grévy is now fairly organized and in operation. The cabinet has been reconstituted, with M. Waddington as premier, most of the members of the last ministry being retained.
Mr. Dufaure, the veteran statesman, who had borne himself in the recent crisis with a masterly ability and a firmness worthy of his austere and authoritative name, when he saw the new president inaugurated, and all the parts of the government at last thoroughly republican and bidding fair to work together harmoniously, determined to retire to the tranquility which his great age required, saying that the new era which had opened required new men. He takes with him into his retirement the respect of all France.
Mr. Waddington, who was charged by the President with the formation of the new cabinet, and who is therefore prime minister, retains his portfolio of minister of foreign affairs, to the general satisfaction of the diplomatic corps, and becomes president of the council.
Mr. Le Royer, life senator, is minister of justice, and keeper of the seals, the portfolio held by M. Dufaure. He is a distinguished advocate, was a prominent member of the national assembly, where he took an active part in framing the constitution. He is an effective orator, a clear thinker, a moderate but very decided republican.
Mr. Marcère remains minister of the interior, to which the department of public worship has been temporarily added, being detached from public instruction.
Mr. Lèon Say and General Gresley continue at their respective posts, finances and war.
Vice-Admiral Jauréguibery takes the place of Vice-Admiral Pothnan, as minister of the marine and the colonies.
* * * * * * *
Mr. Jules Ferry, one of the most brilliant members of the chamber of deputies, orator, author, and advocate, is minister of public instruction and fine arts, replacing his friend M. Bardoux, whose retirement is viewed with regret by all friends of education and culture, notwithstanding the acceptability of the new incumbent.
Mr. Freycinet remains minister of public works, and will thus continue Ms policy of amalgamating the minor railroads under the control of the state.
Mr. Lepère, deputy, is minister of agriculture and commerce in place of Mr. Teisserenc de Bort. He belongs to the extreme left, was a determined opponent of the empire, and has been an able member of the national assembly and of the chamber of deputies.
A new portfolio has been created, and Mr. Cochery, member of the chamber of deputies, has been appointed minister of post-offices and telegraphs, this department having been detached from the ministry of finances. He is a veteran in politics, was a distinguished functionary in the republican government of February, 1848, defended the liberal journals in trials which drew universal attention. He was a stern enemy of the empire, voted against the war with Prussia, and on the memorable 4th of September, 1870, aided Mr. Grévy to prevent the chamber from being invaded, whence they went in the name of the corps [Page 335] legislatif to the Hotel de Ville to the support of the provisional government.
It maybe said generally that the cabinet, as reorganized, makes a step of progress towards the left. It represents the political position of the new president pretty fairly, and may be considered as in advance of Mr. Dufaure, and a little behind Mr. Gambetta, and the majority of the republicans in the chamber; as Mr. Gambetta remarked, it approaches more nearly than the former ministry the political center of gravity.
The president’s message was read to the chamber yesterday by Mr. Waddington, and its brief, dignified, and simple character receives general commendation. It is rather a declaration of principles than a programme of measures, and leaves to the ministers, where it belongs under this parliamentary system, the duty of proposing the laws necessary to carry out the policy and perfect the harmony of the government and the republican institutions of France. The French have so long been accustomed to personal government, avowed or indirect, that the tendency of the people is to look up for direction 5 and this respectful reserve on the part of the President is a hopeful and healthful sign that the self-government is becoming a reality.
Gambetta, on yesterday, also took the chair as president of the chamber, succeeding Mr. Grévy, and assumed his new functions with a short speech, of which, as well as of the message, I send you here with translations.
I have, &c.,