Mr. Judd to Mr. Seward

No. 81.]

Sir: The legislative body of this kingdom assembled in pursuance of the royal proclamation on the 14th instant. The ceremonies were held in the large hall of the palace, called “der weisse saal,” and were unusually imposing. A large assembly had gathered, and by the great display of uniforms afforded a fine spectacle. The galleries for the court, the diplomatic corps, and the public were largely filled. Besides the members of the two chambers, there were assembled the generals of the monarchy, with field-marshal Count Wrangel at their head, the minister of the royal household, Herr von Schlemitz, and all the high court officials, and very many of the privy councillors and chief functionaries of the civil service. At the appointed time the state ministers took their places at the left of the throne, and after her Majesty the Queen and her royal highness the Crown Princess had made their appearance in the royal gallery, his Majesty entered the hall, followed by the Crown Prince and all the other princes of the royal house. His Majesty was received with the cheers of the assembly, and after having bowed his thanks and placed the helmet on his head—he wore a general’s uniform—he received from the hands of the president of the state ministry, Herr von Bismarck, the manuscript of the crown speech, which he proceeded to read in a loud, and at times an elevated tone of voice. The close of the reading was followed by renewed cheers, and when the King had retired, [Page 44] Herr von Bismarck, in the King’s name, declared the Chambers of the monarchy opened.

I annex hereto a copy of the opening address. It corresponds in the main with the expectations which persons familiar with the condition of internal affairs in Prussia had conceived. The government inflexibly maintains its stand-point on the question of the reorganization of the army. This is expressed in the speech in terms not to be mistaken. The tone is rather conciliatory, and the King at the close expresses the hope that the differences now existing between his government and the House of Deputies may be removed. But it is difficult to see how this is to be brought about, when the very question upon which that difference arose is maintained with even more emphasis than ever before. It requires no prophetic gift to foretell that the present session bids fair to lead to no other result than the three preceding ones. No understanding is likely to be reached on the army question, and as this is the condition precedent of a settlement of the constitutional and budget controversy, matters so far as regards that issue, too, will remain in statu quo.

The part of the speech relating to Schleswig-Holstein is so worded that no definite prognostic can be given regarding the policy of Prussia in that matter. The language is intentionally non-committal, and so framed as to leave to the government freedom of action. It is no secret that Herr von Bismarck really means to annex them if Austria can be induced to consent thereto.

The finances and commercial relations as well as the industrial and agricultural interests of the monarchy are reported to be in a most gratifying and flourishing condition. The war has been carried on without the necessity of resorting to a loan, and notwithstanding the extraordinary expenses, the budget for the current year will show a balance of receipts over expenditures.

The enlargement of the navy is warmly advocated, and in connexion therewith, the building of the ship canal between the Baltic and the North sea is insisted on in a manner as if that great enterprise was but an internal affair of Prussia.

Foreign relations are represented to be in a particularly satisfactory condition.

Of course the army comes in for its due share of the royal eulogium and approbation for its prowess and success in the war with Denmark. This is the topic upon which his Majesty ever loves to dwell and enlarge.

The foregoing constitute the leading points in the King’s address. As it yields nothing in principle, the House of Deputies, while grateful for the conciliatory tone of the speech, will maintain its position as unflinchingly as before. An impression has prevailed that the military excitement consequent upon the successes in Schleswig-Holstein, the satisfaction of the nation at the separation of the duchies from Denmark, and the prospective gain territorially on the part of Prussia, as well as the increase of external influence and position already by the Prussians as a nation, would be strong enough to compel submission on the part of the house to the demands of the ministry, and that indemnity for the ministry for the past, governing without a budget voted by the house, and a grant for the future, to meet the King’s military views, would be the result of the present session. From all that I can as yet hear as to the temper of the house, the ministry will be disappointed in these expectations as before stated, No official action has yet taken place in the house beyond its organization. Herr Grabon has been re-elected president almost unanimously, and if that fact and his opening speech are indications of the temper of the house, no agreement between it and the ministry is probable. The following extract from his opening Speech expresses in fewer words than I can find, the interior administrative policy of the present ministry:

“When we were last dismissed, the hope of an agreement with this house was renounced. Since, prosecutions of the liberal press and of liberal officials, non-confirmations of the elections of liberal muncipal officers, aspersions, accusations, [Page 45] and slandering of all liberal citizens, have prevailed in a greater degree than before. Liberal views and opinions are under the ban. Fidelity to their convictions, the fairest ornament of the Prussian official of old, is prescribed by the Prussian regime of to-day. But the King’s motto, “He who plants himself on the rock of justice stands on the rock of honor and victory,” is ours too. Under this banner we can find the agreement with the government which we too desire and have hitherto endeavored in vain to bring about in a way alone which does not involve the sacrifice of the rights the people have confided to us, and we have sworn to uphold.”

I abstain from speaking of the House of Lords. That body is in full accord with the government, and will sanction all the measures which may be brought before it by the ministry.

Herr von Bismarck’s policy of postponement and “masterly inactivity” in settling the question of succession in the duchies of Schleswig-Holstein yet prevails, and no arrangement between Austria and Prussia has been reached. In the mean time they are governed by Prussia and Austria jointly, the real power and influence being on the side of Prussia.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington.

Speech from the throne.

Illustrious, noble, and dear lords and gentlemen of the two chambers: A year fertile in events has passed away. In concert with his Majesty the Emperor of Austria we have succeeded in acquitting ourselves of a debt of honor which had been frequently recalled to our recollection, and with regard to which sentiments traditional in the memory of the entire country had been called forth. An honorable peace has been won by the brilliant valor of our united armies.

Encouraged by the satisfaction with which our people cast a retrospective glance upon this success worthy of Prussia, we turn our hearts with humility towards God, whose blessing has enabled me to give thanks, in the name of the country, to my army, for its exploits, which equal those of its most glorious military annals. After fifty years of peace, broken only by honorable but short campaigns, the education and discipline of my army, the utility of its organization and of its armament, have been brilliantly tested by the war of last year, which the inclemency of the season and the valiant resistance of the enemy will render forever memorable. Owing to the existing organization of the army, the war was enabled to be carried on without our being compelled, by calling out the Landwehr, to inflict injury upon the relations of labor and of family among the people. After such experience it is more than ever my duty as a sovereign to maintain the present arrangements and to develop them upon the existing basis, so as to impart to them greater perfection. I may expect that both houses of parliament will afford me their constitutional assistance in accomplishing this duty.

The development of the navy also creates special obligations. By the part it has taken in the war the navy has acquired just rights to my gratitude, and has proved its high importance to the country. If Prussia desires to fulfil the high mission imposed upon her by her geographical situation and her political position, it is requisite for her to give her navy the fitting development, and not to refrain from making considerable sacrifices for this purpose. Acting upon this conviction, my government will lay before you a bill for the augmentation of the fleet.

The duty of providing for those soldiers whose health has been impaired in the field, and for the families of those who have fallen, will find legitimate expression in the presentation of a bill for the pensions of invalids, which I hope will meet with a favorable reception at your hands.

I have been enabled to put an end to the concentration of troops upon the Polish frontier after the suppression of the insurrection in the adjoining country. The moderate but firm attitude of my government has sheltered Prussia from the encroachments of the insurrection, while the competent tribunals have sentenced persons guilty of isolated participation in tendencies aiming at the separation of a portion of the monarchy.

The prosperous state of our finances has enabled us to carry on the war against Denmark without being compelled to have recourse to a loan. This result must arouse great satisfaction. [Page 46] It has been obtained by economical and far-sighted administration, and above all by the considerable surplus of the public revenue during the last two years.

After striking the balance of last year, my government will lay before you a complete report upon the subject of the costs occasioned by the war and the sums from which they have been met.

The budget of the current year will be laid before you immediately. It includes the increase of revenue expected to arise from the new land and industrial tax. While confining itself to the tried limits of a prudent estimate, my government has also been able to place the other branches of revenue at an augmented amount. It has thus been enabled, not only to re-establish equilibrium between the revenue and the expenditure in this budget, but also to allot considerable sums to meet the new requirements in all branches of the administration. Besides the general accounts respecting the budgets of 1859, 1860, and 1861, which will be again laid before you, you will also receive the accounts for 1862, in order that the government may be released from the same.

The labors for the ulterior regulation of the land tax have been completed within the prescribed period and in a satisfactory manner. I am happy to acknowledge that this result is solely due to the zeal and efforts which have been made in all quarters to arrive at a solution of this difficult and laborious question. The preparatory labors of the tax upon buildings are also very greatly advanced, and only now require definitive approval.

My government does not cease its efforts that the same progress should be realized in the different branches of production, and that care should be taken to extend and improve the method of communication. The bill for a general regulation of roads will again form an important item of your deliberations. Several bills will also be laid before you for the extension and completion of the railway system.

My government has had the preparatory technical works executed for the construction of a canal between the North sea and the Baltic, across Holstein and Schleswig, which should be constantly navigable for merchantmen and vessels of war of all dimensions. In view of the importance of this great undertaking to the interests of commerce and of Prussian shipping, my government will endeavor to guarantee its execution by a participation of the state in the expenses it will occasion. More detailed communications will be made to you upon this subject at the close of the preliminary deliberations.

The working of mines, being freed from harassing restrictions, relieved from taxation, and developed by increase of the markets, acquires a more and more satisfactory position. You will have to examine the bill of a new general mining code, intended to regulate the legal position of this branch of industry.

The ordinance dictated by the interests of our commerce and our maritime ports, pending the duration of the war, relative to extraordinary duties upon the flag, will be laid before you in virtue of an ulterior authorization. My government has succeeded in removing the obstacles which threatened to compromise the existence of the German Zollverein at the expiration of the period fixed by treaty. The treaties concluded with the government of his Majesty the Emperor of the French have obtained the adhesion of all the governments constituting the Zollverein, and the customs treaties have been renewed with some modifications justified by experience. These treaties, together with the arrangements upon the subject of the wishes expressed by one of our allies in the Zollverein, will be laid before you for the purpose of obtaining your assent. The negotiations which, in consequence of these treaties and in accord with the governments of Bavaria and Saxony, have been entered into with Austria with the view of facilitating and reciprocally developing business, permit the hope of a speedy result, The work commenced by these treaties with France in August, 1862, and the execution of which has been pursued since that time with equal perseverance by my government and that of his Majesty the Emperor of the French, is thus approaching a conclusion which will open a vast field to commerce, and, by the common development of prosperity, will afford a fresh guarantee for the amicable relations of neighboring nations.

I cannot allude to the exploits of my army without expressing my satisfaction with, and cordial acknowledgment of, the deeds of the Austrian troops. As the soldiers of the two armies have shared their laurels together in the fraternity of arms, so the two courts have continued united in the complications that have ensued by a close alliance, which has found a solid and durable basis in my German sentiments and in those of my august ally. In these sentiments and in fidelity to treaties is to be found the guarantee for the preservation of the tie which connects the German states and secures them the protection of the confederation.

The peace with Denmark has given back to Germany her disputed northern frontier, and has restored to the inhabitants of those countries the possibility of taking an active part in our national life. The task of my policy will be to secure this conquest by institutions which shall facilitate the honorable duty of protecting this frontier, and allow the duchies to employ and turn to account their resources in the interest of developing the land and sea forces of the common country.

In the maintenance of these legitimate claims, I shall seek in their fulfilment to combine both the well-founded demands of the country and of the sovereigns. In order, therefore, to gain a secure basis to judge of the legal questions in dispute, I have requested the law officers of the Crown, conformably with their duties, to give a legal opinion upon the subject. [Page 47] My convictions on the legal side of the question, and my duty towards my country, will assist me in my endeavors to come to an understanding with my illustrious ally, with whom I at present share the occupation and the care of a regular administration of the duchies.

It affords me lively satisfaction that the complications of the war have been confined within a narrow compass, and that the dangers which might have threatened European peace have been averted. The re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Denmark has commenced, and I entertain firm confidence in the formation of those more friendly and more profitable relations which so thoroughly conduce to the natural interests of the two countries.

Our relations with all the other powers have not been in any way troubled, and continue to present the most agreeable and most satisfactory character.

Gentlemen: It is my earnest wish that the difference which has arisen within the last few years between my government and the Chamber of Deputies should be brought to reconciliation. The memorable events of 1864 will have assisted to enlighten the public mind upon the necessity of improving a military organization which has passed through the test of a successful war.

I am resolved still to respect and uphold the rights the constitution has granted to the representatives of the country, but if Prussia is to maintain her independence and the rank to which she is entitled among European states, her government must be firm and strong, and a good understanding with the representatives can only be secured by the maintenance of the organization of the army, which guarantees its military efficiency, and, consequently, the security of the country.

All my efforts and all my life are devoted to the happiness and the honor of Prussia. By pursuing the same object, I have no doubt you will find the way leading to a complete agreement with my government, and your labors will thus conduce to the welfare of the country.