Mr. Stevens to Mr. Evarts.
Stockholm , January 20, 1879. (Received Feb. 10.)
Sir: Saturday, January 18, at noon, the annual session of the Swedish Parliament was opened by the King with the usual impressive ceremonies. The Queen, who was absent on a like occasion last year, owing to temporary residence in Germany because of serious ill-health, was present with three of the princes, the crown prince being now absent on a visit of some months in Southern Europe.[Page 957]
The foreign ministers and secretaries of legation at this court were generally present in the diplomatic gallery, and the large hall was compactly full of members of the Parliament, of Swedish officials, and citizens of both sexes. As usual, the King read his address in an admirable manner. A copy of the same, printed in French, sent to this legation from the department of foreign affairs, is inclosed, as well as an English translation of the same.
It will be observed that His Majesty alludes to the business depression which, sooner or later, has affected all civilized and commercial countries. Perhaps, relatively, this country has suffered in a less degree than Great Britain and Germany. Yet Sweden is so closely connected with those two countries in her material interests that what strongly touches them affects all Scandinavia. Timber and iron being the chief articles of Swedish export, the greatly lessened foreign demand for these productions has seriously reduced, necessarily, the available exchange resources of the country during the past year. This, of course, has tended to embarrass home business and lessen the government revenues. During the last six months of 1878 there was a considerable number of heavy failures, chiefly in Gottenburg and Stockholm. But none of the banking institutions have suspended payment, and private parties have lost nothing by their misfortune or bad management. Generally these established financial associations seem to be administered with much caution and fidelity. The firmness with which they maintain their position tends to lessen essentially the evil consequences of the commercial depression.
It may be said also in justice to the Swedish people that they seem to avoid extravagance in dress and living, have a marked regard to economy, and appear strongly desirous of limiting their expenditures to their means.
It will be observed that the King advises the increase of the excise on brandy, and of the import duties on spirits, tobacco, coffee, and sugar. Change in the tariff laws seems to be the order of the day in most European countries. All that I can discover touching the facts and the discussion of this subject on this side of the Atlantic, but tends to confirm the opinion of the present financial policy of the United States, and regard for incidental protection to our industries in raising our national revenues, are wise and patriotic, because clearly proved to be promotive of the development of our vast natural resources as well as of the prosperity and happiness of the entire American people.
I have, &c.