to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Rome, January 30, 1882. (Received February 16.)
Sir: At the reopening of the Italian Parliament after the New Year’s holidays, the expected inquiries into the state of the foreign relations of Italy were made by General Ricotti and replied to by Mr. Mancini. In the mean time the public excitement had partially subsided, or rather been calmed,* * * and the parliamentary debate on the subject was neither general nor animated. So far as the actual condition of the international relations of the parties were concerned no new disclosures were elicited. The attention of the Italian public is easily diverted* * * and a recent transaction in the journalistic world, avowedly a mere banker’s speculation, but which is suspected to have, and perhaps actually has, a real political significance, engrosses public attention to the exclusion of topics certainly important. An Austrian subject by birth, but naturalized in Italy, has lately purchased a controlling interest [Page 366] in five or six of the principal journals of Rome, including the Diritto, the most important semi-official organ of the administration, Many believe that the purchase was made in behalf of the French Government with the view of influencing public sentiment in Italy towards France; but as the principal writers in the columns of these papers have withdrawn from their editorial corps and established new journals, the movement is likely to prove a financial if not a political failure. At the same time a good deal of alarm is excited by the general monetary crisis throughout the continent, though the public funds of Italy have suffered less depression than those of most other countries. Still it will probably interfere with the resumption of specie payment in Italy, which was making good progress, though not yet legally accomplished.
To these causes of anxiety must be added, besides those alluded to in my dispatch No. 1015, the overthrow of the Gambetta cabinet in France, the revolt in the Christian provinces of Turkey occupied by Austria under the treaty of Berlin, the threatened collision between Great Britain and Spain in the Island of Borneo, and disquieting circumstances in other parts of the Old World. Some of these difficulties at hand, it is greatly to be feared, will not be settled without resort to hostilities, the extent of which cannot be foreseen; and I must repeat what I said in my dispatch 1015, that in my long experience of public affairs I have never seen the political horizon of Europe in so disturbed and so menacing a state.
I have, &c.,