Ambassador Francis to the Secretary of State.

No. 257.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that the new Austrian Parliament was opened by Emperor Francis Joseph in the hall of ceremonies in the imperial palace on the 19th instant. Every political party was represented in the assembled delegates of both houses of this National Legislature; even the socialist members were present—the first time they had been permitted to attend such a function in the Hofburg.

His Majesty’s address, read from the throne, to the recently elected Parliament touches upon all prominent subjects affecting the country, such as the language question, reforms in official administration, the economic condition of the state, agriculture, railways, public schools, education, state finance, legal reforms, etc., but the topics alluded to by the Emperor that commanded the most attention were His Majesty’s allusions to the preservation of the Pragmatic Sanction and the union with Hungary, to the preservation of peace with all nations, and to the love and devotion that had been shown him by his subjects during his long reign.

The speech was a strong appeal to the new Parliament to ever keep in mind the higher interests of the country and to seek in all things peace, concord, and the common good.

“It is my most lively desire,” said the Emperor, “to leave when the time shall come, as a precious inheritance to my peoples the [Page 61] assured existence of their national possessions, and thereby to guarantee to all a national peace that may become a joint treasure of all lovers of the fatherland. Upon my Government I have urged the duty of turning to this end its whole strength, and to all who hold dear their popular characteristics and the weal of the state I address the plea that they will cooperate with entire devotion in the attainment of this goal.”

In treating the subject of universal suffrage His Majesty said the reform is “based on my trust in the loyalty of my peoples to the state. It will be the especial task of the newly elected chamber to justify my confidence and to prove that a comprehensive widening of the juridical foundations of political life may go hand in hand with a concentration and increase of the state’s political power. For the right to participate in decisions creates coresponsibility for the fate of the whole body politic. I expect, therefore, that the popular representation yielded by universal suffrage will be penetrated by the consciousness of its duties toward the state, and will, together with my Government, provide for state needs and be fertile in work for the welfare of our country.”

In referring to the relations between the countries of the dual monarchy the Emperor declared their political unity must exist under all conditions, unchanged by future generations, and it would be of the greatest value if this relationship could be placed on a firm basis while adhering to, so far as possible, its traditional forms. He added: “In all circumstances the leading idea must be that the political tie between the two states, a tie hallowed by centuries of common history and firmly knit and preserved by the Pragmatic Sanction, shall be conserved unimpaired for future generations. Therefore while duly respecting the autonomous rights of both parties, all loosening of relationship, economic as well as political, must be avoided, were the loosening such as to involve peril for the future of the Pragmatic Communion.”

The Emperor declared that armed strength is the strongest protection for economic activity and the best guardian of peace, and concluded his half-hour address by saying, with much feeling: “Through the grace of Providence it has been vouchsafed to me to lead two generations of my peoples. I have seen the toils of my princely office rewarded by a love and loyalty tried in all the vicissitudes of destiny and by my peoples’ progress in well-being and civilization. To further this progress and well and truly to administer the inheritance of the glorious history of our fathers is the task to which I have dedicated my whole life. With this same goal before your eyes you will find the way to concord and internal peace, which to see assured I should esteem the highest favor of fate. May the reconciling spirit of love of the common fatherland brood over your work, and may the blessing of the Almighty accompany you therein.”

The impression produced on the public is that His Majesty felt compelled to deliver this address, generally considered to have been the most impressive appeal ever made by the Emperor to his people, and that this last “speech from the throne “marks an important event in the history of the House of Hapsburg.

I am, etc.,

Charles S. Francis.