No. 453.
Mr. Stevens to Mr. Evarts.

No. 35.]

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.

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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.


Royal address at the opening of the Swedish Parliament, January 18, 1879.

Gentlemen: Welcome to share with me the cares for the good of a beloved country. Having recently been united in our common prayers, let us here make the promise to devote to it our common efforts. While our amicable relations with all foreign powers have been uninterrupted, the development of all branches of the administration has progressed tranquilly at home. As the result of new bases already in a great degree applied for the organization of the central administration, the advantage of a simpler method of labor has been acquired without abrupt transition, while offering the employés of the State a more suitable remuneration for their labor.

The procedure in matters of judicial seizure has been regulated, and the new law relative thereto has been in force from the commencement of this year.

The general synod, after having deliberated on several questions of great importance for our church, has adopted various bills, which will be submitted to your approbation.

Public instruction, generously endowed by the Diet, sheds its benefits with success, according to a plan from day to day more generally applied. The labors of legislation [Page 958] are pursued without interruption, and new bills will be submitted to you in proportion as they shall have been definitively examined.

The law on the adoption of the metrical system for weights and measures has been promulgated, and the ordinance fixing a mean time for all the kingdom has gone into operation.

In an economical point of view the past year has not presented an equally satisfactory aspect. The country, it is true, has been favored with an abundant harvest, but the products of our mines and forests have not found advantageous markets. The financial situation has suffered so much the more because capital, too considerable perhaps for our resources, has been immobilized temporarily for the construction of private railroads. Not only has embarrassment resulted to a great number of private persons, but the consequences have been as sensibly experienced by the State. The sources of the public revenue have diminished and the budget of the coming year will have to be regulated without recourse to anterior excess at the same time that the available funds are reduced.

In this state of things it has been my duty to reduce as much as possible the appropriations which will be asked of you, and defer to a more favorable time such propositions as would have involved increased expenditure.

But the appropriations which are imperiously required could not be covered at this time without an increase of taxes. I have thought it then my duty to propose, in the first place, an increase of the excise on the manufacture of brandy and of the customs duty on the importation of spirits and tobacco; thus the greatest part of the new charges would affect articles which should not be classed among those of prime necessity, and which, until this time, have been with us less taxed than in most other countries.

To obtain the rest, I have thought it would be least onerous for the tax-payers to raise, in some degree, the duties on the importation of coffee and sugar.

I declare the present session opened, and I assure you, gentlemen, most earnestly, of my good will.