« PoprzedniaDalej »
matters were still worse in this respect than in the States of the King of Sardinia.
The French civil and criminal codes, as modified during the time of Napoleon's sway over Italy, either direct or indirect, were preserved in Parma, Lombardy and Venice, and Naples. Sicily had its own peculiar laws. Not long after, the Two Sicilies and Parma had new codes, mostly based on the French Code, itself generally speaking a digest of the Roman laws, suited to the wants of modern society. At a later period, Sardinia had a new code. Although these codes be not very dissimilar, they are, however, sufficiently so for taking from them all the practical advantage of an uniform legislation. For the French and Italian codes, the Austrians substituted, in Lombardy and Venice, an Austrian code, founded neither on Roman, canon, nor any other law with which the manners, customs and traditions of the Italians had any sympathy, but which was altogether new. Before its adoption, however, for the whole Austrian monarchy, Hungary excluded, it had been tried in Galicia; and from the success it had had at Lemberg and Tarnow, it was deemed the best possible system of laws for Milan and Venice.
When the French invaded Italy towards the end of last century, with all the faults of its governments—their anomalies, their prejudices, their weakness—despotism was not prevailing in theory all over Italy, nor did it practically rule uncontrolled. The states of the Pope, Venice, Genoa, Lucca, had a limited form of government: there was no man-not even the Pope in his dominions—who could exercise an autocratic power. Laws, very objectionable in theory and often unobserved in practice, but yet restraining the caprice of man, gave to Government a certain settled form, and prescribed to it certain limits. The old municipal institutions dating from the Italian Republics, and preserving in many cases the forms of those most democratic governments, prevailed and were tolerably well respected all over Italy. At Naples, for instance, the Seggi were as strong barriers against the capricious interference of Government with the liberties of that city as the Common Council is against the invasion of the privileges of the city of London. Bologna considered herself the ally, not the subject, of the Pope. She had an agent, dignified with the title of ambassador from her aristocratic corporation, magnified into a senate, resident at Rome purposely to remonstrate against the abuses of power by a legate, or the attempts at illegal interference with her rights on the part of the executive. The statutes under which many of the cities of the Terra Ferma were governed by executive officers from Venice, had been, as we have observed before, enacted by their respective corporations and people. The governments were in gene
ral too weak to attempt to interfere with the municipal privileges of the great cities, in whose defence were ready to start the dormant ambition and sluggish vanity of many otherwise quiet, inoffensive, slovenly members of society, possessing birth, riches and influence, but unable to appreciate the advantages of a better government than that under which they were allowed to be born, to vegetate and to die. About the year 1770-as soon as the Jesuits were got rid of-—both governors and governed were roused from the lethargy in which the education and principles of that Society had kept them. Both aimed at the improvement and happiness of mankind. Joseph II. in Lombardy, Leopold in Tuscany, the Minister Tanucci at Naples, Rangoni at Modena, Dutillot at Parma, showed their energy in correcting abuses and enforcing reforms--equally regardless of legality and of precedents in their eagerness to do good, and forgetting that the end did not justify the means. The governments of Rome and of the Republics remained stationary. Had not the French Revolution called the attention of the Austrian and Tuscan Governments to the effects of violent changes, and afterwards forced the old monarchies to take up arms in self-defence, the synod of Pistoja and the anti-monastic inclinations of Joseph II. and Leopold might have ultimately proved as fatal to the Church of Rome as the Reformation did in the sixteenth century.
The French invasion and the establishment of either a direct French
government, or of governments under French influence, did away with all the advantages and disadvantages of former governments, introduced entirely new maxims and principles, opened to the minds of the Italians other views, awoke in them other feelings, and led them to hope that modern Italy would cease to be renowned only for her fiddlers, her cicisbei, and her assassins. The municipal corporations were remodelled, the systems of taxation, of customs, of currency were altered, new administrative principles, new economical and political maxims were adopted; these changes were not always for the better : many old interests were injured, many old prejudices shocked, many national customs uprooted. But if Italy was not politically united in one body, it was less parcelled than before; there were hopes that Rome, Turin, and Florence would not always continue to form part of the French empire,* the uniformity of the new
* Louis Buonaparte, at one time King of Holland, published in 1829, an answer to Sir W. Scott's Life of Napoleon, in which the following anecdote occurs :-“I was near Napoleon one day when he received from (if I am not mistaken) an aidede camp of Marshal Soult, the report of some victories in Spain ; of one, among others, in which the stalian troops had greatly distinguished themselves. One of the persons who stood by, exclaimed, on hearing this, that the Italians showed VOL. VI. NO. XI.
maxims and principles adopted gave union to the country; the great diminution of internal custom-houses, the improvement or creation of easy means of internal communication, the uniformity of weights, measures and currency, gave a great impulse to native trade and industry. The madness of the continental system inflicted undoubted injuries ; but this was looked upon as a temporary evil, as well as the unprincipled wars of Napoleon, which were, however, of immense benefit to Italy, teaching her sons the use of arms, by which one day they might be enabled to have their country respected and free from foreigners. That old cause of the ruin of Italy—the Papal court—was destroyed ; the abolition of convents had done away with a population of sturdy beggars and of idle epicureans; the secular clergy acquired thereby more influence, and a number of industrious proprietors became possessors of lands, which it was their interest to cultivate and improve skilfully for the benefit of their children. A larger field was opened to talents and industry; what had been lost in religious feeling was more than compensated by what had been gained in getting rid of superstition and intolerance; there was no trial by jury in criminal cases, but there was publicity of debates—there was no liberty of the press, but the works of Sarpi and Giannone, as well as a Bible in Italian, could be freely printed and perused; it was no longer necessary to be a nobleman to become a general or a minister, nor to be a priest to become a schoolmaster.
On the fall of Napoleon, every thing which he had done really advantageous, and popular with the Italians, was, wantonly and only for the pleasure of breaking up Italy into morsels, destroyed. The uniformity of currency was at once done away with,* as well as that of weights and measures, and as many systems as there are states, or even provinces and towns, substituted; means of communication through certain parts of Italy purposely neglected and rendered almost useless ; every petty state hermetically sealed against some articles, even of Italian produce, and enormous
themselves worthy of their independence, aud that it was to be wished that the whole of Italy should be united in one nation.'- GOD FORBID,' exclaimed Napoleon suddenly, and unable to restrain himself, THEY WOULD SOON BE THE MASTERS OF THE Gaules.'"---Réponse à Sir W. Scott, (2me édit.) 8vo. Paris, 1829, p. 69.
* The merit of the decimal system, for which credit is given to the French Revolution, belongs in fact to Italy. The Roman scudo-adopted by the United States
- is the unit, like the dollar, franc, pound, &c. in which accounts are kept at Rome. Ten paoli form a scudo, and ten bajocchi go to one paolo, or a hundred (or cent) to a scudo or dollar. The decimal system, and the French unit, under the name of lira nuova, equivalent to a franc, have been adopted in Piedmont and Parma. In Austria the system is now decimal, but the unit, Lira Austriaca, is equivalent to only about 87 of a franc.
duties imposed on them all, though for mere transit; the intolerable fiscal system of a time of war rendered normal ; every shackle imposed on municipal corporations by the French system of centralization, preserved and increased—when the government has not taken all municipal rights away and appointed its own creatures to places formerly gratuitous, and now paid by the localities to which paying is the only privilege left. The conscription has been preserved in Lombardy and Venice, and the soldiers, thus raised, are sent to Galicia or Austria, commanded by foreigners, to support the same despotism which the sons of those countries are sent to support in Italy. Every little court has to provide from the taxes raised, without any regard either to principle or to justice, for its great officers of state and high civil and military functionaries, whilst Lombardy and Venice are plundered to pay the expenses of a hateful government in which they do not share.* Whatever was most objectionable in the old governments, as well as in the government which was overcome, was retained—nothing which was desirable either in the latter or in the former governments was adopted ; whilst all the progress of civilization and its advantages have been applied to render the Italian rulers in every respect absolute, uncontrolled and irresistible.
Is there not enough in all this to create dissatisfaction, and to justify resistance ? What could be expected but that the Italians would look upon such rulers only as scourges, their laws as instruments of oppression, and the whole machine of government as a contrivance for supporting both ? Hence the sympathy with crime and criminals, hence the facility with which persons, otherwise honest and honourable, are ready, without the least scruple, to evade, or assist in evading, the payment of taxes and customs —the latter so multiplied and so difficult to be enforced owing to the frontiers between state and state consisting often of imaginary lines through houses and fields, as in our parishes,—hence the temptation to fraud, deception, and even worse crimes-hence the prodigious number of idlers wasting their time smoking in cafés, unfit for any other occupation, and having no means of making themselves useful members of society were they ever so inclined to it—and from idleness all other vices. The wonder is, not that the Italians are dissatisfied and restless : the wonder is, that they have energy enough left to feel their political degradation the cause—the only cause—of all their misfortunes, and to attempt to ameliorate their condition. In all countries, even
* No great dignitaries, ecclesiastical, civil, or military, at Vienna, are Italian. The high offices in Italy are given to Austrians or Tyrolese. There have been judges in the high courts who did not know Italian. No foreign mission is trusted to Italians. The Archbishop of Milan is an Austrian.
those under a despotism—except Russia, perhaps—every thing is done or attempted or, at least, encouraged in a more or less degree, to elevate the mind, to render the population capable of appreciating the advantages of good government, to improve the morals, the social condition, the rational pursuits of the people. In these countries the sovereign wishes to rule over peaceful, loyal, and happy subjects, capable of appreciating the advantages of a just government, and willing to support it. The Italian governments want slaves and not subjects, they are the chiefs of a horde of conquerors preying on the conquered from whom they want obedience and nothing else. The less the people are capable of discriminating, the less will they be inclined to set up in judgment on their masters. It is the bayonet and not persuasion on which such governments depend. So long as all Europe is at peace, Austria can always keep Italy under her yoke-particularly when all the other Italian powers are with her : In case of war, ignorance and fanaticism will take the side of despotism; and the less energy and power of discrimination is left in the people, the less will they be apt to appreciate the advantages of a change. So reason the Italian governments—strangers in the country : for Naples and Piedmont are as much strangers to Italy as the Austrians. Hence, every means adopted or encouraged by tolerable governments to obtain the ends which they have in view, are discouraged and even forbidden in Italy. No principle of taxation—the advantages or disadvantages of a tax or custom-duty can never be even discussed; no attention is paid to the morals, or condition or habits of prisoners, either on trial or condemned ;* no thought of them when once released, except the surveillance of the police; no popular publications for the instruction of the lower classes, and but few books allowed to the higher; no intellectual amusements encouraged, no clubs, no societies, no reunions, even under the eyes of a suspicious police, and for rational pursuits; above all, no solid and real religious instruction, and no education.
With respect to the latter points, we shall not enter into either a theological or a metaphysical discussion ; we intend only to say a few words in order to prevent idle and captious objections. It is certainly better that Bellarmin's catechism be taught than no catechism at all, and that persons should learn to read that or any other such book than that they should not learn to read at all. But as that which is taught in that book is not solid religion, in like manner, reading only is not education. When people are taught—and we have heard the doctrine preached—that to eat
* Bail for misdemeanour is not admitted in any of the Italian States except for very trifling offences ; hence, every person accused, however innocent, is sent to the contamination of a prison.