Minister Bryan to the Secretary of State.

No. 235.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy and translation of the King’s speech delivered at the opening of the Cortes. The address is interesting in its advocacy of radical reforms proposed by the incoming government, which changes are all the concessions demanded by the Liberal and Republican elements.

It is reported that the Portuguese sovereigns were fearful that the Republicans would take advantage of that occasion to hiss, or even attack them, but the Democratic leaders advised their followers to avoid all unfriendly manifestations toward the royal family. The King expressed gratification at their conciliatory attitude and was pleased with the peaceful temper of the people.

I have, etc.,

Charles Page Bryan.

The King’s speech.

Worthy Peers of the Realm and Deputies of the Portuguese Nation:

It gives me pleasure, on opening the general Cortes of the nation in the course of my duties as constitutional King, to note the cordiality of Portugal’s relations with all the other powers.

His Highness the Prince Royal is in Madrid as my representative at the wedding of His Catholic Majesty, and has been received there affectionately and festively, affirming yet again by this visit the close relations which unite the two reigning families and the two peninsular nations.

Conventions or agreements of reciprocal interest have been made with several powers, while negotiations for commercial and arbitration treaties are pending with others, all of which will be made clear to you in due season.

As the ministry presided over by the councilor of state, José Luciano de Castro, asked for its removal from office, the councilor of state, Ernest Ro-dolpho Hintze Ribeiro, was intrusted with forming a new government. During his term of office the general elections of deputies took place, without disturbing the public tranquillity, the decision in several electoral suits being still pending before the tribunal of verification of powers. As this ministry also asked for removal from office, I deemed it wise to grant it, intrusting the councilor of state, João Franco Castello Branco, with the formation of a new cabinet, whose gubernatorial programme seemed to me to correspond with the trend of public opinion.

My Government and the various ministries will submit drafts of laws to you reforming electoral legislation, by a return to the system of smaller districts, in which votes may be cast for one candidate instead of for the whole ticket, [Page 1242] by the extension of the franchise to members of the working classes, and confining the work of registering the voters and electoral acts to the judicial authorities, that the genuineness and honesty of the ballot may be guarded, which is the basis of the entire representative system; regulating and making ministerial responsibility more effective; guaranteeing more surely the independence of the judicial authorities by introducing within the magistracy the promotion of the members thereof, following rules alike precise and unchangeable.

Other measures will be submitted to you tending to stimulate local life, establishing a differential and graduated decentralization in proportion to the importance and growth of the municipalities, and to create and strengthen social organizations which may exercise functions which the State only discharges with difficulty in the ever-increasing complexity of modern life.

Following its liberal policy, my Government will present drafts of laws to you modifying the law in regard to punishments for anarchism, dispensing with the Government’s authorization for carrying on criminal lawsuits against government employees, altering the organization of the office of criminal instruction, and efficaciously regulating the responsibility of the respective functionaries; reforming the law of the freedom of the press, making previous censure impossible, and rapidly submitting the arrest, in cases where it is permitted, to the judicial authorities, the responsibility being shared by the press and by the arresting authority. In accordance with these indeas I have already willingly granted the amnesty proposed by my Government for crimes of printing, tried without the intervention of the accused.

My Government gives very great attention to the important and capital subject of education, as well as regards general instruction in its different grades as to special, technical and professional instruction. Thus the proposal will be made to you that students who have shown marked capacity and application in various branches of study shall be sent to continue and complete their studies in some of the best foreign schools.

Agricultural questions and the entire subject of national economy in all its different aspects and manifestations deserve none the less care from my Government. Many different interests are under discussion, rendering the close cooperation of Government and parliament all the more necessary in the elaboration and approval of commercial treaties, tariffs and other provisions, measures by which the Government can intervene in matters which chiefly depend on the initiative and activity of the productive and commercial classes.

To improve the military institutions, assuring their stability and guaranteeing them against prejudicial disturbances, which come to them from repeated forms in their fundamental regulations, to the detriment of their regular duty; to develop the instruction of the army, with the idea of preparing squads of officers to exercise commanding functions in all military grades, and to proportion better the remuneration which the officers are receiving in their high and patriotic mission. These are the aims of various drafts of laws that will be presented to you by the ministry of war.

The Government’s program on the important subject of the navy includes an improvement of naval material as far as the treasury will allow, and the concentration of the command, instruction, and discipline of all the fleet services into one directing body, subordinating the fleet services, as those of the army, to a general plan of national defense.

My Government will bestow the greatest attention on our foreign possessions, both as regards the maintenance of internal order there and as to the development of their various sources of wealth. Following the plan adopted by all truly colonizing nations, measures tending to a differentiated decentralization of the administration of the various possessions, in accordance with their peculiar problems and their state of development, and to the settlement of the economic and financial relations between the colonies and the realm will be submitted to you.

The various ministries will also lay before you measures for protecting and aiding the working classes, for improving the situation of certain classes of functionaries, especially of the lower classes, and for regulating the financial condition of the clergy, establishing their compensation on a new footing.

My Government found the tobacco situation established by the decree of the 6th of April, by which the bidding was opened for the award of the monopoly, and it is resolved to maintain precisely the attitude of the previous [Page 1243] government. The contract resulting from this decree will be submitted to you for approval.

My Government also finds the budget drawn up for 1906–1907, and the short space of time between the formation of the cabinet and the opening of the Cortes has not allowed it to be revised or modified, as had been intended. The cabinet submits it to your consideration as it found it. The public accounts need a profound and radical change in all branches which shall make them clear and definite, and which, with some other measures already referred to, will render easy and secure the parliamentary fiscalization of public receipts and expenses, and the responsibility of ministers, as well as of the various employees, fully effective. My Government intends to complete this reform by proposing the establishment of a parliamentary commission of public finances, a majority of whom shall be from the opposition and with power to correspond directly with all the departments of the Government.

The ministry of the treasury of my Government will also present to you proposals to remodel the monetary system on the decimal basis and the gold standard; to reform the contract with the Bank of Portugal; to reorganize the system of government depositories (caixas economicas) and their extension to a greater number of places; to organize an assessment with rigorously defined bases, which, leveling the inequalities existing at present, will be the exact source of predial and registral taxes.

Worthy peers of the realm and deputies of the Portuguese nation:

The work of reform which the country needs is great and its accomplishment is difficult and perplexing. The strength of all is not sufficient for it, and thus I appeal confidently to your good will and patriotism, certain that, with the aid of God, you will accomplish a useful and lasting work that will honor your names and glorify our fatherland.

The session is opened.