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INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW EDITION.
Since the publication of the following letters, many things have occurred to give a prominence to Italian politics which they did not before possess, as well as tend to change one's views respecting the Italian people. On reflection, however, I have concluded to let my opinions stand uncorrected in the body of the work, so that my original design may be carried out—viz., to give my impressions at the time, or, in other words, to talk as I travelled, leaving the reader to draw his own conclusions. I was then some years younger than now, and hence uttered many sentiments I should now suppress. The rainbow hues and romance of life depart as we grow older, and common places take the place of sentiment; still the frankness and freedom with which these letters were written have their merits as well as defects : at all events, first impressions are fresher, if not more correct than afterthoughts, and therefore I shall let them remain.
With regard to the political state of Italy, however, I would say something additional.
Those acquainted with history are aware of the iniquitous partition made of Italy, after the downfall of Napoleon. The allied sovereigns, assembled in Vienna, regarded it as so much common plunder. Venice and Milan were given to Austria ; Modena sliced off for an Austrian prince, who had usurped the name of Este ; while the wife of Napoleon, as the daughter of Aus-, tria, had Parma. A Bourbon had a life interest in Modena ; Genoa was treacherously given over by England into the hands of Piedmont, and Tuscany put under an Austrian Duke. The Pope was allowed to retain possession of about 18,117 Ro
man square miles, containing a population of 2,500,000, over which he rulcd as absolute king. So heavy have been his oppressions, that his kingdom at length became reduced to bankruptcy. The revenue amounted to only $10,000,000, one quarter of which was expended in mere collection.
The public debt increased so fast, that constant loans were necessary, until at length the government securities were all used up, and the Pontiff was compelled to mortgage his palaces at Rome. The legates and delegates ruling the several provinces became notoriously dishonest and corrupt; even magistrates could be bought, while men were imprisoned, ad infinitum, on mere suspicion. Six thousand were computed to be incarcerated every year, or one out of every four hundred of the population.
Now, when we add to all these the rigorous censorship of the press, the espionage of the police, and the relentless persecution of men for their political opinions, to say nothing of the oppressive taxes and discouragement of all industry, we cannot be surprised at the bitter feelings manifested by the people towards the Pope. The stream of all their troubles was traced directly to the pontifical throne. At the feet of the holy father sank all their hopes and happiness. A corrupt sovereign, corrupt priesthood, corrupt courts, corrupt officials-half of them pardoned banditti—everywhere made a mockery of justice, religion, and human suffering. The strong hand of power crushed the life out of Italy, and hence arose the endless conspiracies which have resulted only in filling Austrian prisons with victims, and ships with exiles.
Now it is evident, from this meagre outline, that such a state of things could not long exist. There is a limit to all
oppression, a point where desperation begins and revolutions follow. Pope Gregory was a tool of Austria ; and too stupid to perceive, or too timid to prevent, the bankruptcy and fast approaching ruin of his kingdom, let oppression take its course. But the
INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW EDITION.
present Pontiff, on coming into power, had the sense to discover his true position, and took the only course by which to allay the smothered fires of rebellion, that were burning portentously under his throne. He knew the state of the public feeling—that verything was rife for an outbreak; and had Cardinal Lambruschini, the old Pope's chief minister, been elected in his place, there doubtless would have been a convulsion that would have overturned the Papal throne, or ended in a general massacre of the people. But Pope Pius took his seat, and a calm—the calm of expectation and of anxiety-followed. He was surrounded with difficulties—a bankrupt and impoverished kingdom, a suffering and maddened people on the one side, and the power of Austria on the other. To act for the people would bring down on him the armies of Austria—to act for Austria, the wrath of the people. A few days after his election, he abolished the secret tribunal for political offenders ; he next composed a council of cardinals, to hear, on a certain day, the grievances of any one who chose to come ; and finally ordered a private letter-box'to be affixed to the Vatican, in which all could drop their complaints and petitions. Still the people scarcely knew what to believe : these might all be simply strokes of policy, to allay popular indignation. He next dismissed Cardinal Lambruschini, but this only awakened deeper anxiety; until at length his course seemed to be clearly pronounced, when he granted a general amnesty to all political offenders. Rome stood thunderstruck at this bold movement. The prisons, with their six thousand annually incarcerated victims, threw open their doors, and exiles came joyfully back to their native land.
Now in all this it would be unfair to say that the Pope was actuated alone by motives of policy. He is, doubtless, a more liberal and a better man than his predecessor. He himself had a brother in exile ; and as a missionary, formerly to Chili, and afterwards to Buenos Ayres, he has learned, like Louis Philippe,
to regard the rights of the people, and respect their feelings and their wants.
Still policy has bad much to do with the course he has taken. His travels in the new world opened his eyes to truths that it became him to recognise ; and he saw plainly that the Pontiff of 1847 could not be the despot that a former age tolerated.
But he had no intention of weakening, in any way, the power of the papal government, or of enlarging the civil liberty of the people. What he has done, in this respect, towards giving a constitutional government, has been compelled from him by the movement in Europe. The grand excitement occasioned by his reform, and the extravagant hopes expressed, were altogether too premature. So long as Austria and the other continental powers stood firm, there was no hope of constitutional liberty in Italy—and even now it is to be very much feared that the endless rivalries and jealousies that exist between the several provinces will defeat any movement towards a grand confederacy of the states.
The most powerful prince of the peninsula, is Carlo Alberto (Charles Albert), King of Sardinia. He has a large and welldisciplined army under his control, and has already entered the field against Austria.
But perhaps I could not give my views better, and at the same time claim for them some weight, by showing that time has proved their correctness, than by quoting an extract from a published address of mine on the subject delivered the early part of last winter.
“But who is this Carlo Alberto-King Charles Albert—who has threatened to meet Austria in the field, if she attempts to occupy Ferrara, and has offered his services to Pope Pius IX. ? The veriest despot and traitor that ever escaped the punishment due his crimes. He himself was once at the head of one
INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW EDITION.
of the most formidable conspiracies ever set on foot for the redemption of Italy. Chief of the Carbonari, he promised constitutional freedom to the country. That conspiracy counted some of the noblest spirits of the age. But just on the eve of its development, death removed the obstructions between Charles Albert and the throne of Piedmont; aed vaulting into it, he immediately seized the conspirators he himself had seduced into his ambitious plans; and, by imprisonment, banishment, and death, rid himself of his old friends, and became the most hated tyrant in Europe. Added to all this, he is a Jesuit of the Jesuits, and as weak as he is villanous. He upholds the Pope, offers his aid, and talks loudly of the independence and nationality of Italy ! Ah! " Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.' I fear such a man, when he brings, and though he brings, gifts in his hands. But, it
may be asked, what motive has he for the course he adopts ? Three very powerful ones. In the first place, he was hated intensely by his own subjects; and he knew it, and feared their anger. This dislike he could remove in no way so effectually as by upholding the Pope; and already has he found his reward. In the second place, Austria is the only power he has to fear ; she trenches on his borders, and holds him in perpetual alarm; and he will willingly seize any event that would injure his enemy, and compel him to evacuate Italy. In the third place, in case of any successful hostilities, he could not but enlarge his territory. If, through his instrumentality, Austria should be spoiled of her possessions in Italy, he knows he could dictate his own terms to the Pope; and rest assured he would be content with nothing less than half of the peninsula. He is the most powerful sovereign in it, and he looks with a covetous eye on those fair portions of Lombardy which the Austrians hold.
But as for wishing the liberty of Italy, or caring anything about its independence and nationality, except so far as that nationality consists in being under one despotic sovereign, and