No. 310.
Mr. Francis to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 107.]

Sir: After a brief prorogation from the 29th December, His Majesty Dom Luiz opened on the 2d instant the new session of the Cortes with all the form and ceremony invariably observed on this important occasion.

I have the honor to inclose a copy of His Majesty’s speech delivered at the opening of the Cortes, with a translation thereof, and enumerate briefly such of His Majesty’s remarks as appear to me important.

His Majesty mentions the continuance of friendly relations with foreign powers; alludes to the recent conclusion of a treaty of commerce with Spain; speaks with gratitude of the reception His Majesty and family met with on their recent visit to that Kingdom, and as well for the universal evidence of sympathy exhibited for his son during the prince’s recent journey.

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His Majesty enumerates various projects of law and conditional contracts which were under discussion during the late session; among them are prominent the measures tending to constitutional reform, and several concessions for railways, that of Lourenço Marques, which formed the subject of my No. 103, being mentioned in common with others.

His Majesty further announces the intended presentation to the Cortes by his Government of other important measures, such as the revision of the penal code, the reform of prison discipline, the work of improving the port of Lisbon, the reform of the military system, and finally the financial condition of the country.

* * * * * * *

The prime minister, Senhor Fontes, at the session of the Cortes to-day presented the annual budget for 1884–’85, which I summarize as follows:

Estimated ordinary expenditures 31,967,000
Estimated ordinary receipts 31,095,000
Showing a deficit of 772,000

To meet extraordinary expenditures Senhor Fontes asks for authority to borrow 4,500,000 millreis.

The deficit of 1882–’83, which was estimated at 917,000 millreis, is now ascertained to amount to 1,000,000 millreis.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 107.—Translation.]

king’s speech on opening session of the cortes.

Worthy Peers of the Kingdom and Deputies of the Nation:

In fulfillment of the requirements of the constitution of the monarchy, I come with pleasure before the national representatives to open the legislative session of the present year.

Our good relations with foreign powers are without change.

In the interests of our commercial relations my Government concluded a treaty with that of his Catholic Majesty, in which an effort was made to protect the interests of Portugal. My minister of foreign affairs will bring it before the Cortes, and I hope it will receive your approval.

After my visit to the adjoining Kingdom, accompanied by my beloved consort, to thank their Catholic Majesties for the visit which in the previous year they had made to Portugal, this day is the first opportunity I have had to speak of this fact before the national representatives, and I avail myself of the occasion to declare how thankful I am for the unequivocal proofs of friendly feeling which I received while there, not only from the sovereigns, but also from the Spanish people, as shown to my person, to my family, and the Portuguese nation. These proofs of reciprocal sympathy, while they attest the mutual independence of the two countries, contribute to the consolidation of the ties which unite them in the interests of their business relations.

The demonstrations of which the queen was the object during her journey call for equally sincere gratitude on my part.

Having in view the completion of my dear son’s education I directed that he should visit various countries of Europe. During this journey now terminated, the prince received in the various courts he visited such cordial reception from their respective sovereigns that it calls for my public acknowledgments. I also here record my most grateful memory of the sympathy with which he was entertained by many private individuals of different nations.

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Public tranquillity has been maintained, and the renewal of the administrative bodies throughout the Kingdom was effected with order.

There remained undiscussed at the close of the last session of the Cortes various projects of law, the most important of these being the reform of the charter and the electoral law. Above all others I call your attention to these, that measures of such importance may be sanctioned by the Parliament with that emphasis which the patriotism of all may give them.

Employing the power granted, my Government lately contracted a loan to meet the extraordinary expenses of the state. My minister of finance will give you an account of this transaction and the conditions under which it was made.

During the last recess concessions were made by public competition for the construction of the Beira Baixa, of the Foz Tua to Mirandella, and of the branch to Vizeu, railways. The concession for the termination of the railway system of the south and southwest was not granted, although it was offered for public competition; accordingly the work on these lines has been undertaken by the state. The Government will lay before the Cortes the acts to which I refer, some of which require legislative sanction. My Government has also concluded with the Royal Company of Portuguese Railways the final contract for the construction of the railroad from Torres Vedras to Alfarellos and Figueira. An agreement has been come to between that company and the Beira Alta Company—which has received the approval of the Government—by which the branch to Coimbra will be undertaken by the former company; the latter withdrawing its claim to the construction of the branch to Alfarellos.

Of various other measures made public by the different ministries employing administrative authority, an account will be given you in due time. The concession for the construction of the new port at Leixões was offered for public competition in conformity with the terms of the law.

In virtue of power granted by Article 15 of the additional act of the charter, various measures of a legislative character were adopted during the recess. The most important referred to the building of a railroad from Lourenco Marques to the frontier of the Transvaal. All of these measures were submitted to the Cortes on one of the last days of the recent session.

Some proposals with reference to subjects of public administration will be presented to you by my ministers, and I mention among them the revision of the penal code, the additional enactments indispensable to perfect the penitentiary system, the improvement of the port of Lisbon, and army reform. With these and all others pending, you are sure to occupy yourselves with your accustomed devotion.

The finances as ever demand the serious attention of the public authorities, and within the prescribed time there will be presented to you by the respective ministers the budget of receipts and expenditures, as well as various projects of law intended to improve the financial condition of the country. The maintenance of credit denotes the confidence which capital feels in the resources of the nation. With the diminution of certain taxes, which by this measure will become more productive, and by some other measures to be presented to you, with a scrupulous and well-considered economy, my Government is confident that it may establish equality, between the ordinary receipts and expenditures.

The subjects to which I have invited your attention, and which are subject to your disposal during the present session, are the most serious that can be considered by a parliament. However, they are not superior to your wisdom and to your devotion.

The confidence with which you inspire me is at least equal to the serious task you have to discharge.

With this confidence, and convinced of your patriotism, and trusting in Divine Providence, we shall co-operate in preparing the measures intended to secure the continuance of peace and the future development of the country. I declare the session opened.