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utterly indifferent to the effects of misgovernment from which they are free and which they hardly comprehend, look upon the suffering Italians with anything but sympathy, being unable to form an opinion of what these sufferings are, and thinking that, as they are happy and content, so the Italians ought to be. Like those who don't suffer from a sea voyage, they look upon those who do as a nuisance ;—they ought not to suffer. And inasmuch as, were the Italians to be successful in bettering their condition, this might endanger the peace of the world, which we have every reason to cherish and maintain, many among us are positively indignant at the wish on the part of the subjects of the Pope and of other Italian tyrants for a change. To this class belong the Tories, or the renegade Whigs, like Sir J. Graham, who, to assist in maintaining such abominations, as we shall presently detail, condescended to turn spy to the Austrians, and opened the letters of foreigners. Those who are incessantly talking of liberty and of liberalism and of progress and of toleration and of the blessings of education and of freedom of opinions on the hustings or at clubs,—and who, with all their affection for abstract principles, never risked losing the vote of a trimmer, or a dinner at a heartless epicure's, by supporting the practical application of their philanthropic theories, gravely shrug their shoulders and shake their head, wishing they might hope for success. “ If the Italians,” say these generous philanthropists, “ were to rise like one man from Reggio to the Mont Cenis, then, indeed,
but don't you see? they are not unanimous ! they are easily put down! and what use is there in attempting impossibilities ? Very sorry for them !” As if, in any revolution ever known, a whole nation was ever up in arms at once, as if the Italians were not put down by the direct interference of a power like Austria with the hearty consent of many, and the useless and hardly whispered regret of others. And what nation, situated as Italy is, did ever succeed in freeing herself from a native as well as foreign, temporal as well as spiritual despotism? Would America, with all her advantages of geographical position and immense territory, have succeeded, if all Europe had assisted, instead of attacking, England ? Had all the world been against Belgium, would Leopold be now at Brussels, and Antwerp in his possession ? And what do our philanthropists think would have happened in 1688, if 12,000 Dutchmen had come to support James II. instead of William III. ?
It is but too true, that, as the world is constituted at present, the efforts of the Italians, to become what they ought to be as a nation, are likely to be unsuccessful; but who can doubt that the Italians have an indefeasible right to endeavour to ameliorate their condition ? And who is more bound to make exertions in favour of Italy, consisting with her own good and the scrupulous
observance of the treaties by which she is bound to other nations, than England, to whom so much of the sufferings of Italy are owing? It was England that replaced the Pope on the throne from which Napoleon had made him descend, and on which the Italians themselves would never have replaced him. By England was thus reinstated the very worst government not only of the Peninsula, but of the world. We Protestants, ---without having so much as a political agent at Rome to know what is going on in that “ Fucina d'inganni,”—set up a government religiously our most bitter foe, over which we cannot exercise any political influence, of whose crooked and subdolous intrigues we have not the common means of having any intelligence, and which may prove a most powerful engine either against ourselves directly, or against our best allies, as well as in favour of the enemies which either our religion or our temporal interest may bring against us! Was there ever any act of political folly equal to this?
As parties to the Congress of Vienna, we had, moreover, a share in all the arrangements for what was called the settlement of Europe. In these delicate days, when a murderer is called an “unhappy being,” we are afraid to call the conduct of the Allies at that Congress by its real name; but no other will do, and we must say that that assembly behaved more like a reunion of robbers, who met to share their ill-gotten spoil
, than like a council of Christian Princes, answerable to their Creator for the abuse of their trust and for the injury which they might inflict on mankind by their lust of power and ambition, regardless of the well-being of millions and of generations whose fate Providence had thrown into their hands. The only rule by which they were guided, careless of the everlasting happiness or unhappiness of their fellow-creatures, was the aggrandisement of families. Austria was to have so many millions of souls in Italy, because William of Orange was to be made a king and have Belgium, because Alexander was to become King of Poland, and because the King of Sardinia was to have Genoa, to which England, by her generals, had promised her ancient freedom and independence. Whether the Venetians liked or disliked to be Austrian subjects any more than the Lombards, no one cared. Nor did any one care or inquire whether the Lucquese any more than the Tuscans liked to be under the government of an Austrian archduke, or what was the opinion of the Parmesans or Modenese on being delivered the former to an Austrian archduchess, because her father had contributed to drive the husband, to whom he had sold her, herself, and her son from the French throne,—the latter to an Austrian archduke, because his mother, who was still alive, was the only child of the last Este Duke of Modena.
Italy was thus divided into eight unequal parts,–1. Lombardy
and Venice. 2. Parma. 3. Modena. 4. Tuscany. 5. Lucca. 6. Piedmont. 7. Two Sicilies. 8. Papal States. The first four, and eventually the fifth instead of the second, were made either directly or indirectly Austrian. In all these arrangements two points only had engaged the attention of the Congress
, which were connected with the welfare of the nations whose fate was then decided. It was agreed, 1st, That the great navigable rivers should be free from tolls and custom-house visits and interruptions for the whole of their navigable length, on such terms as should be agreed upon by the powers whose states they traversed or touched. This arrangement has received effect upon the Rhine, for instance, but the Po is at this moment worse than it was in the middle ages. Austria, the Pope, Piedmont, Parma and Modena exercise a right of interrupting here and there its navigation, exacting tolls, searching boats, imposing duties, forbidding the passage of some, &c., as all or each of them like. It was also agreed that enclosures (enclaves)—that is, territories belonging to one state but surrounded entirely by the territories of one or more other states,-should, on a fair compensation of land and cattle—that is inhabitants-he exchanged, so as to do away with these enclosures. In every country, we believe, this has been carried into effect, except in Italy, where Benevento, belonging to the Pope, is inaccessible except through the Neapolitan territory, and Guastalla, belonging to Parma, is completely surrounded by the states of Austria and of Modena. Persons suspected by either of these two powers of political offences belonging to the territory of Guastalla-altogether not 20,000 inhabitantsentirely unable to stir from it, even to go to the capital of the state to which they belong." And in all cases, no one can go from Guastalla to Parma, its capital, or vice versa, without a passport, liable to be examined seven times, as well as the luggage, by as many police and custom-house officers. The distance is about eighteen miles.
The moment the Peninsula was in the hands of the rulers to which the strongest had delivered it, all and each of them set to work, in the best manner they could, to make its inhabitants miserable. Those who travel over the country without being able to converse with its inhabitants, who never read one of its laws (and even if they did, such other knowledge of ancient customs, technical expressions, law phrases, is presupposed, that few, if any foreigners, will understand their full meaning), who consider the natural richness of vegetation, and their innate tastefulness in the works of art, as proofs of the happiness of the inhabitants and of the excellency of the rulers, cannot understand what motives there can be for discontent. And, as is often the case with ignorant people, they deny the generality of the discontent
or its good reasons, being unable to perceive the one or appreciate the others. The faults, the weaknesses, the vices of the Italians do not escape even such observers, who account for them each according to a fanciful theory which he has invented, and for which he wants practical confirmation. The faults, the weaknesses, and the vices of the Italians are all and every one of them to be traced to their religious and political institutions. Of the former only—and the evil is increased by the latter-Macchiavelli used to say, that if the Court of Rome were to be transferred among the Swiss people, who in his days—eheu quantum mutatus ab illo—were the most virtuous people on earth, it would be enough to make them the most wicked. When we see the trouble taken by the Italian Governments to make the people bad, we wonder how the Italians are so good as they are, and applying Macchiavelli's saying, we are sure that almost no nation, among whom such a government should be introduced, could preserve itself so comparatively sound as the Italian.
On coming to his throne, the King of Sardinia published an edict, by which, at one swoop and without any other provision, it was ordered that, “no regard being paid to any law which might have been enforced by the French Government, (during the occupation of the kingdom for about sixteen years,) no other law should be applied in any case, except the ancient laws of Piedmont.” In consequence of this, feudal rights, from which the people had been most solemnly released, (such as that, for instance, of forcing a district to have all their corn ground at a certain mill belonging to a feudatory, to whom a tax was paid in proportion to the corn turned into flour,) were declared to be at once revived ; monks and friars, who, having been secularized, had by law obtained civil rights, were declared unable to hold what
property they had acquired, and if they had married lawfully, according to the laws of the time, their sons were at once bastardized; persons who, on attaining their twenty-first year, were of age,
and had acted and been acknowledged accordingly, were again made minors, the ancient laws of Piedmont, fixing the coming of age at the completion of the twenty-fifth year, and all the transactions in which they were concerned adjudicated accordingly, &c., &c.; the pleadings and proofs in civil and criminal causes, from public, as they were, reduced to secret, and from verbal to written ; the most atrocious punishments (such as the wheel) and proceedings (such as torture) reinstated in criminal cases ;* and, as if these general measures had not been enough, recourse was often had to the most odious of all invasions of the
* Both the wheel and torture fell soon after the latter almost immediatelybefore public opinion, and were abolished.
right of property, that of royal orders, (biglietti regj,) by which creditors were prevented from suing their debtors, parties were sent before special commissioners, appointed at the request of one of them, to have their disputes decided without appeal; and, even after definitive judgments had been carried into execution, after wills which had been disputed had been declared, as the case inight be, valid or otherwise, special commissioners were appointed on the petition of the losing party, and before such monstrous mock tribunals a decision was come to, upsetting the long considered judgment of the highest courts, and leaving no security for the property or rights of any individual, coveted by any one powerful enough to obtain the assistance of some official royal commissioner to rob his neighbour.
About the same measures, the same system, and the same abuses, prevailed at once in the Roman states, in Tuscany, and in the Duchy of Modena. We say about,” because the principal aim of the several Italian governments being to disconnect the Italian states, and estrange the inhabitants from one another, even the evils which they inflicted were diversified. The Roman laws, modified by opinions of the various courts and of the civilians, were the basis of all legislation in these states. In Piedmont and at Modena, they were farther modified by two several collections of laws, dignified by the name of code, published between 1770 and 1772. In Tuscany there was no code; but a number of separate laws were recalled to life with the ancient system, and the successions regulated by a recent edict, which was enacted on the restoration of these old laws. Some 6 transitory” laws were passed in Tuscany and Modena; the hypothecary system, or public registry of mortgages, of the French Code, was preserved at Modena, in Tuscany and for that part of the dominions of the King of Sardinia which formerly belonged to the Republic of Genoa. In the Papal States, the civil laws, besides other modifications, were themselves superseded by the Canon Law, by the numberless municipal statutes which almost each municipal corporation had enacted in the Middle Ages, within the territory of each district, by all the edicts, proclamations, decrees, &c. of all the bishops who had temporal jurisdiction within their dioceses, or who extended the spiritual jurisdiction, according to the canon laws, to temporal matters, and chiefly, as to the legations, by all the decrees, edicts and proclamations of the various legates whose power was, and is, in fact, unrestrained. Among these governments, that of Tuscany was honourably distinguished for interfering seldom, if ever, with the administration of justice, and with the trial of private right in individual cases. As to the Roman States and Modena,