Mr. Ewing to Mr. Seward.

No. 23.]

Sir: ****

I have the honor to inclose the speech delivered in person by the King of Holland at the last opening of the Dutch Chambers, and to announce the recent death of the highly esteemed minister of justice of the Netherlands, Mr. Boret.

The feeling aroused in Belgium by the barrage of the Scheldt has in, great measure subsided, owing to the opinion having gained ground that no damage to navigation is likely to result. The coolness between the governments of Holland and Belgium, caused by the barrage, has yielded to this opinion, and to the desire to place their countries in position to present a united front against the absorption of either. In union they seek strength.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,


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

Speech from the Netherlands.


Gentlemen: It is always “with real pleasure that I open the legislative session. The fulfillment of this task is doubly agreeable to me to-day, as I have to make satisfactory communications as to the situation of the country.

The dissolution of the ties which united one of our provinces to Germany, effected last year, has since obtained its international sanction by the treaty of London of the 11th May last.

I fully trust that when experience shall have demonstrated the innocuousness of the works at present being executed in the eastern Scheldt, our relations with Belgium will receive more and more a character of reciprocal friendship.

I rejoice to be able to announce to you that we continue to entertain the best relations with all the other foreign powers.

It is most grateful to me to mention the laudable manner in which the army and navy have acquitted themselves of their duties; however, I see myself obliged to ask your assistance with a view to give a certain extension to our national guard. In the mean time care will be taken to train that body as much as the existing law permits.

Measures are being taken to combat, with the aid of Providence, the cholera, which has again appeared in some localities of our country.

The efforts made to remove the cattle disease have been crowned with success, and for some time past only sporadic cases have been observed.

During the past year public and private instruction have continued to be the object of my lively solicitude. You will be immediately called on to discuss a bill relative to the course of education practiced in the universities.

You will receive, also, another, to alleviate the charges imposed on the periodical press by the stamp act.

Commerce, navigation, and industry are in a favorable situation.

You will have to examine new provisions concerning the verification of weights and measures, and a bill on the present system of pawnbroking.

[Page 490]

The harvest in general has been good; but the produce of the sea fisheries has not been so abundant.

The works undertaken on the state railways are being actively continued; the completion of some of the lines will soon be accomplished. Two new ones, executed by private enterprise, will soon be opened to public circulation. If the existing estimates should be realized, they will suffice during the current year for the public services and to continue the works on the state railways without having necessity to recur to extraordinary measures.

A bill concerning the financial responsibility of ministers, that regulating the accounts of the state finances, as well as certain measures to simplify the collection of succession dues, will be laid before you at a later period.

Your deliberations on the proposal of a new code of criminal procedure will facilitate the putting in vigor of the new judicial organization. With the same view I shall cause to be presented to you immediately a measure for the revision of the judicial districts. You will probably also have occasion to discuss, during the present session, a new code of civil procedure.

You will also soon receive a communication of an act on consular jurisdiction, as well as various bills as to a partial revision of the military criminal codes. The labors of drawing up a new penalcode are being actively continued. On the same occasion you will have to occupy yourselves with the organization of the state police.

The numerous exigencies and the divergence of opinions which exist as to colonial affairs have not failed to exercise their influence on the situation of our possessions in the East Indies. My first care will therefore be devoted to the interests of the state in those countries, whilst avoiding everything that could compromise public tranquillity or excite the discontent of the indigenous populations. I will willingly lend my assistance to the development of agriculture and private industries, provided that other interests are not compromised thereby.

I have learned with pain that an earthquake has made many victims in a part of the island of Java.

The situation of the Dutch possessions in the West Indies continues to be in general satisfactory; however, the necessity of the importation of laborers to Surinam continues to be severely felt.

Other labors likewise await you. They will open to you a vast field for your zeal for the interests confided to you. May they, under the blessing of God, contribute to the well-being of the country.

I now declare the ordinary session of the States General to be opened.