No. 378.
Mr. Birney to Mr. Evarts.

No. 122.]

Sir: The regular session of the Staats General of the Netherlands was opened on the 15th instant, in the customary form, by His Majesty the King. I have the honor to inclose herewith copies of the address which he read on that occasion, with a translation. There are in it three references, which may have significance enough to interest you. When he speaks of “the free principles which have governed their commerce and industries” it is inferred that the new ministry adhere to “free trade” as against an inclination slightly manifested in this and neighboring countries to experiment with partial protection.

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By his allusion to “primary education” it is to be understood that the new government promises to carry out the provisions of the law relating to that subject promoted by the late ministry and adopted by the last Parliament. This topic has been the occasion of no inconsiderable controversy in this country. Sectarians who rally under the name of “Orthodox” have insisted upon retention of denominational control, while the liberal party advocated more of State management. Under the act referred to, the government pays 30 per centum of the cost of schools, localities providing the remainder. At the same time, the government chiefly regulates.

The other reference is to Curaçoa. It is not often that such a specific allusion is made from the throne in an address so brief and general. The government no doubt intends by it to show that its regard for the island as a possession has not weakened.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in Mr. Birney’s No. 122.—Translation.]

opening of the staats general, 1879—1880.—address from the throne.

Gentlemen: It is very pleasant to me to again meet the representatives of the Netherlands people.

On the occasion of my marriage I received proof of a general participation, which I highly appreciate.

The love of my people was again so strongly manifested when I and my house were plunged into mourning.

My relations with foreign powers are most friendly.

The armies on land and sea continue to perform with devotion their important duties.

The languishing situation of the industries, of commerce, and of navigation has been equally felt in this country. The efforts made to combat disease among cattle have been crowned with success. On the other hand, I fear that in different parts of the country the harvests have suffered by unfavorable weather and high water. Under such circumstances it is to be expected that there will be diminution of the amount of our State taxes. An increase of the State revenues becomes more and more necessary. At the same time it will be well, as far as possible, to aim at a better distribution of the taxes.

The firm maintenance of free principles, which have regulated our commerce and industries (and thanks to which the country has always prospered), continued conjointly with the improvement of our canals, will sustain the energy of the people and increase the public prosperity.

I consider the introduction of a natural penal code as a work that much concerns the interests and honor of the country. In the mean time my government will occupy itself on the revision of different parts of legislation.

A project of law for the repression of the abuse of strong drink will be presented, to you at this session.

I propose to make practical the amended law as to primary instruction as promptly as the preparations it requires will permit.

Important results have been obtained at Atcheen, thanks to the courage and perseverance of our army.

I have the hope that a more regular state of affairs will succeed to the war.

The other parts of the Netherland Indies furnish general reasons for satisfaction. The energetic prosecution of useful public works which have been commenced there will certainly promote the national prosperity. The administration of the finances of those vast possessions demands, nevertheless, a great deal of care and circumspection.

The migration to Surinam of free laborers should receive continued favor. A better future is promised to the colony of Curaçoa, through the working of the large mines her soil produces.

May our united efforts, gentlemen, under the blessing of God, promote the happiness of our dear country.

I declare the session of the Staats General to be opened.