Translation of the protocol, published
in the Collection of Laws and Decrees
in the Grand Duchy of Finland, nr. 4, 1864.

Emperor Alexander's speech from the throne to the Estates at the opening of the second Diet of Finland, Sept. 18, 1863.

Following the ceremonial procedure, graciously decided by the Grand Duke for the opening of the Diet, His Majesty expressed his will, after attending the service and having listened to the solemn Diet sermon at the Nicolay Church of the city, to proceed from his quarters to the State Hall, which took place a quarter to 2 p.m. First in the procession went: 1) The Nobility headed by the Land Marshal,
2) Vice Chairman and the members of the Imperial Finnish Senate, and the Procurator General, and
3) the Governor-General of Finland,

and the Emperor was followed by

a) their Imperial Highnesses Grand Dukes Alexander, Vladimir and Alexey Alexandrovich and Nicolay Konstantinovich.
b) The Minister of His Imperial Majesty's Court, General Adjutant Count Adlerberg and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Vice Chancellor Prince Gortchakoff .
c) The Ministerial Secretary of State for the Grand Duchy of Finland Count Armfelt and the Ministerial Vice Secretary of State Baron Stjernwall-Walléen.
d) Head of the 3rd Department of the Imperial Chancellery, General Adjutant Prince Dolgorukov, War Minister, General Adjutant Miliutin and the Vice Lord of the Admiralty, General Adjutant Krabbe,
and a large entourage consisting of both honorary soldiers in the Imperial Majesty's service and soldiers and civilian public officers invited to attend the ceremonies.

Clergy, Estate of Burgesses and that of Peasants with their Speakers were assembled in the State Hall ahead of his Majesty's entry.
His Majesty took his stand before the throne and next by him there were their Imperial Highnesses Grand Dukes Alexander, Vladimir and Alexey Alexandrovich and Nicolay Konstantinovich.
Sidewards to the right of the throne took the Minister of His Imperial Majesty's Court, General Adjutant Count Adlerberg his stand and to the left Minister for Foreign Affairs, Vice Chancellor Prince Gortchakoff.
The Governor-General of Finland, Baron Rokassovsky and the Ministerial Secretary of State Count Armfelt remained on the lower side of the throne, the Governor-General on the right side and the Ministerial Secretary of State on the left.
After the Nobility with the Land Marshal, Vice Chairman of the Senate and its members and the Procurator, Ministerial Vice Secretary of State Baron Stjernwall-Walléen, as well as general adjutants Prince Dolgorukov, Miliutin and Krabbe and the persons in His Majesty's entourage and those invited had taken their stands, His Majesty the Emperor and Grand Duke wanted to greet the Estates with the following gracious address (in French):

"Representatives of the Grand Duchy of Finland!

In seeing you assembled around me, I am glad to have been able to fulfil my desire and your hopes.

My attention has long been directed to a certain number of questions successively raised which concern the most serious interests of your country. These questions have remained in suspense because their solution required the co-operation of the Estates. Certain important considerations, the appreciation of which is reserved for me, prevented me from convening the representatives of the four Orders of the Grand Duchy during the first years of my reign. Nevertheless, I took in good time preparatory steps to attain this object, and now that circumstances are no longer of a nature to cause a further postponement, I have convoked you in order to lay before you, after having previously heard the report of my Senate of Finland, the proposed laws and the administrative business which will require your attention in the course of the present session.

Considering their importance, I have had them examined first by a Committee composed of men enjoying the confidence of the nation. The publicity given to the debates of this Committee has acquainted you beforehand with the object of your deliberations, and you have been enabled to thoroughly examine these projected measures by consulting the opinions and the wants of the country. Consequently, in spite of their number and importance, it will be possible for you to dispose of them finally within the period fixed by law.

The financial statement which will be communicated to you will show that the revenues of the State have always sufficed to cover the current expenditure, and that the substantial increase of the indirect taxes a proof of the national prosperity has made it possible to apply these additional resources to the material and intellectual development of the country.

I have authorized the Government of the Grand Duchy to contract loans solely in order to meet the requirements of the last war, and to cover the expense of constructing the railway between Helsingfors [Helsinki] and Tavastehus [Hämeenlinna].

An account of the use made of these loans will likewise be communicated to you, and will show that the present revenue of the State is sufficient to gradually pay off this debt with its interest. It is my wish, however, that for the future no new loan be raised without the concurrence of the Estates of the Grand Duchy, unless an unexpected invasion by the enemy, or some other unforeseen national calamity, should make it a necessity for us.

The new taxes that I propose to the Diet are designed to carry out different measures destined to augment the welfare of the country, and to advance the cause of popular education. You have to decide as to the urgency and extent of these measures.

Many provisions of the Fundamental Laws of the Grand Duchy are no longer applicable to the state of affairs existing since its union with the empire ; others lack clearness and precision. Desirous of remedying these imperfections, it is my intention to have a measure carefully prepared which shall contain explanatory and supplemental provisions. These will be submitted to the consideration of the Estates at the next Diet, which I purpose convoking three years hence.

Whilst maintaining the principle of constitutional monarchy essentially involved in the character of the Finnish people, and of which all their laws and institutions bear the impress, I wish to include in this projected measure a more extended right than that which the Estates now possess as to the adjustment of taxation, as also the right of motion which they formerly possessed, reserving to myself, however, the initiative in all questions which affect the alteration of the Fundamental Laws.

You know my sentiments and my wishes for the happiness and prosperity of the peoples entrusted to my charge. None of my acts have been such as to disturb the good understanding that ought to exist between the Sovereign and the nation. I desire that this understanding may continue, as in the past, to be a guarantee of the good relations which unite me to the brave and loyal Finnish people. It will contribute powerfully to the prosperity of a country very dear to my heart, and will supply me with a new motive for assembling you periodically.

It is for you, the representatives of the Grand Duchy, to prove, by the dignity, the moderation, and the calmness of your discussions, that in the hands of a wise and well-conducted people, determined to work hand in hand with the Sovereign in a practical manner for the development of its well-being, liberal institutions, far from being a danger, become a guarantee of order and prosperity.
I declare the present Diet open."

This gracious address brought about a threefold "Long live Emperor and grand Duke!", after which Ministerial Secretary of State Count Armfelt read it in Swedish and Vice Chairman of the Judiciary Department of the Imperial Senate Baron Sackleén in Finnish, both after having taken a stand at the lowest step of the throne. [Translations omitted here].

Then the Ministerial Secretary of State Count Armfelt read out a list of proposals and bills that the Imperial Majesty has graciously wanted to give into the consideration of the Estates during this Diet.

[List of 48 entries omitted here.]

After the list above was read out and the Estates with most devoted hurrahs had displayed their humble love and gratitude towards His Majesty, he decided to retreat to his quarters at 2 o'clock p.m., in a procession headed by the Nobility with the Land Marshal and the whole entourage in the very same order as in entering the State Hall, after which the other Estates also dispersed.

In accordance with the most gracious order,
C. E. Cedercreutz.


Pauli Kruhse 2008.

Source for the translation of the speech: Joseph R. Fisher, "Finland and the Tsars, 1809-1899". Edward Arnold, London, 1901.

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