to Mr. Évarts.
Rome, November 30, 1878.
Sir: Their Majesties the King and the Queen of Italy made their solemn entry into Rome after their royal progress through the principal provinces of the kingdom, on Sunday, the 24th instant, and were received with great demonstrations of enthusiasm by a vast concourse lining all the streets through which they passed. On Monday evening there was a torch light procession of the citizens and a great open-air concert in front of the Palace of the Quirinal, both of which drew together a multitude of very man thousand people. Of course, every precaution was taken for the safety of their majesties and attendants, as well as the general public security, and there was no disturbance of the public peace. There had been for several days great apprehension of some new attempt against the life of the King, and there were numerous rumors of the detection of conspiracies for that purpose, most of which were, no doubt wholly unfounded, though some of them were based on circumstances, such as seditious placards posted on walls, and the like, which led to many arrests by the police. The assassin who attempted the King’s life at Naples has been subject to repeated interrogatories, according to the custom of the country, but his answers do not appear to have disclosed any fact tending to show that he was the instrument of a conspiracy, but it is abundantly proved that he was an habitual reader of international and socialistic publications. The explosion of bombs with fatal effect at Florence and at Pisa, without serious injury, and the attempt at breaking into the arsenal at Pesaro, seem to be of a more systematic character, and they tend to prove that anarchical associations and their teachings have produced greater effects on the populace than had been supposed, though thus far the facts made known to the public are too indefinite and uncertain to furnish the means of tracing the responsibility of these acts to their sources, unless it is to be found in the causes to which I referred in my dispatch No. 798.
There are, however, local influences in operation in many of the municipalities which tend to aggravate the social and political evils of the present crisis. I refer especially to the financial embarrassment of several important towns, among which the virtual bankruptcy of Florence is the most serious. That city has been burdened with a considerable debt for several years, and the expense of the material improvements, designed mainly to render the town more eligible as a permanent capital of the kingdom, and other public works, has augmented the liability of that city enormously. The debt of Florence is now thirty-five or forty millions of dollars. The city is almost without industry, commerce, or great private wealth, and it has scarcely any resources but the octroi tax which falls far short of what is required to cover the ordinary expenses of the municipality and interest of the debt. It is generally admitted that the the nation ought to remunerate the city for the expenses properly and judiciously incurred in improvements made with reference to its new character as the national seat of government, but it is not probable that the government will assume the half of the city’s debt, and there are no visible means of meeting the remainder. Under these circumstances the employment of a large number of laborers in the service of the city has been discontinued. The savings-bank has suspended payments, and the distress among the poorer classes is extreme. Mere [Page 599] repressive measures are ineffectual to calm the public discontent, but for the present no other steps appear to be in serious contemplation.
The wound received by Mr. Cairoli in the defense of the King against the assassin has been attended with unfavorable symptoms, and the minister is not able to attend to the duties of his office. It is rumored that Mr. Depretis will relieve him of the burden of the portfolio of foreign affairs, and a strong opposition to the ministry seems to be forming, which may lead to a modification if not a general change of the cabinet.
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I have, &c.,