Mr. Runyon to Mr. Olney .

No. 204.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that the German Parliament was occupied yesterday in the discussion of the proposition to request the Imperial Government to send out invitations at the earliest practicable date for a monetary conference to regulate the currency question by international agreement. The proposition was brought up at the request of 164 members of the Reichstag, representing the National Liberal, Imperial, Center, and Conservative parties.

Count Mirbach, the leader of the Conservatives and a prominent bimetallist, opened the debate in a long speech in favor of the proposition, in which he referred to the currency question as one of the most important industrial and social questions of the day, and one which could be regulated only through international agreement. He was answered by Dr. Barth (Radical), who opposed the project because it would lead to bimetallistic agitation, which would cause disturbance in industrial circles all over the world. His party, he said, saw no reason for Germany to call any such conference. If the United States or England wanted one, Germany could then decide whether she would take part.

Count Herbert Bismarck was in favor of the proposition, assuming that the Government would, of course, before issuing any invitation, consult with the cabinets of other countries. He said that if the proper time for such a conference had not yet arrived, it was bound to come before long. He referred to the efforts of the bimetallists in England and advocated the use of both gold and silver as currency.

The Social Democrats, through Dr. Schonlank, opposed the proposition, as, in their opinion, its acceptance by the Government would result to the benefit of the capitalists alone. Dr. Lieber spoke in behalf of the Center party, referring to the question as more industrial than political, supporting the proposition and expressing the hope that the chancellor would not let the occasion pass without some expression of the views of the Government. He thought that after Germany’s conduct in the Brussels conference it was her duty to take the initiative in calling one now.

The debate was closed by Prince Hohenlohe, the Imperial chancellor, in a speech, a copy of which, accompanied by a free translation, I have the honor to transmit herewith.

I have, etc.,

Theodore Runyon
[Page 506]
[Inclosure in No. 204.—Translation.—From the Berliner Correspondent (official).]

Speech of the Imperial chancellor in the Reichstag on February 15, 1895.

The apprehension expressed by the member, Dr. Lieber, that the views of the Imperial chancellor on the subject under consideration would remain undisclosed in his portfolio in consequence of the speech of the member, Dr. Schonlank, is unfounded.

I will in nowise withhold from you my opinions in the matter. They have been carefully wrought out, and I trust that you will regard them as well meant. It is not my purpose to enter into a discussion of the particularities of the political aspects of the money question, which could neither bring the different views which have been expressed on this point into agreement, nor bring any really new force to bear upon the discussion of the matter. Nevertheless, I think I ought to make to you the following declaration. Without speaking to the prejudice of our Imperial currency system, it must be conceded that the increasing disparity in value between the two mint metals works an injury to our business interests. [Hear! hear! from the Right.] Therefore, in further carrying out the idea which led to the calling together of the “Enquète Commission,” I am inclined, on the part of the Government, to enter upon the consideration of the question whether it may not be well to provide for a friendly interchange of views with other Governments interested in the value of silver, as to whether some measure of relief can not be established by common consent. [Bravo! Right and Center.]