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DURING the nine years that have elapsed since the date of this Journal, so many changes have taken place in the moral and political state of the country in which it was written, that the portraiture here given, although perhaps rather unfavourable when it was drawn, may now be thought flattering. At the period of these Travels (1817-18), all Italy, and I might say all Europe, discontented with the existing state of things, seemed prepared for new revolutions. The parties at issue, however, miscalculated their respective strength, and what is somewhat unusual, fell both into the same error; for each thought that Liberalism had the best possible chance, and Legitimacy the worst. Consequences of this opinion were, rashness on the
one hand, prudence and union on the
other, dispositions alone sufficient to make even the worst chance become the best. rashness the only fault then committed by the
Liberals so called; they were also guilty of insincerity, for few of them honestly meant what they professed; whilst by a strange fatality, in proportion as they were honest, they showed them
selves absurd; if in an exalted sense honesty can ever be called absurd.
The hopes and expectations of the liberal party throughout the continent of Europe were at the highest in the spring of 1820. I was not then in Italy, and cannot exactly tell what the views of the natives were: nor, perhaps, should I have been better informed had I been there; for they are far less communicative than their transalpine neighbours, who play their political game with the cards on the table, and form conspiracies with ladies in the drawing-room, all for the sake of a little ready fame enjoyed on the spot.
What the liberals avowedly wished for in France, and probably in Italy, was, in the first instance, the overthrow of legitimate governments, as being radically unfit for constitutional purposes; they trusted that something better might afterwards be established. Many dreamt of a republic,-a federal one, as in the United States of North America, with state legislatures in the eighty-two departments; and a federal legislature, with a chief magistrate at Paris, for the government of the union. Others desired a sort of directory, with regal powers vested in three or five persons, in order that the administration, being entrusted to a body of men rather than to an individual, might be conducted on more permanent and better understood principles. But the far greater number, under pretence of liberalism, wished for
the return of Buonaparte, or the rise of one like him, to restore military glory, the regime des conquêtes, with its attendant circumstances,-promotion, contribution, "dotation;" this military sovereign to be as absolute as he pleased in regard to all his subjects, excepting those in the army. The mass of the nation however, although a military government was upon the whole more to their taste than any other, dreaded it a little, not having had time to recover entirely from the fatigue and the losses which the last government had occasioned: hence they did not stir in favour of either soldiers or republicans, who, under the joint name of liberals, were driven off the field. The trial had been made in Spain of a constitutional monarchy without a senate, or embodied aristocracy, and therefore with only a house of representatives. Such a monarchy could scarcely fail of becoming what it did become in France, - anarchy first, and then a military despotism. But without waiting for the result of the experiment, the liberals of Naples insisted on having this same constitution of Spain; those of Piedmont rose with a similar purpose; and, most inopportunely, at the same moment the Greeks made a bold attempt to shake off the intolerable yoke of their barbarian oppressors. A fanatic of Buonapartism just then stabbed a prince of the French blood royal,-the Duc de Berri; and this crime filled up the measure of provocation. The sove
reigns throughout Europe thought their lives no less than their crowns in imminent danger; and uniting with the energy of fear, crushed the common enemy ostensibly in their own defence, although in reality they themselves were the aggressors.
The nations of Europe had in 1813-14 risen en masse against the common enemy, the oppressor of their governments still more than of themselves; and there was at that period a fair understanding between kings and people, that the latter should assist the former, and receive liberal institutions for their reward. Nothing otherwise could account for the general enthusiasm with which those nations poured their population into the field, to fight for what? For a mere change of
masters? Assuredly not.
The contract may not
have been regularly signed and sealed, except with blood; but it was at least a debt of honour, which has never been discharged; those who had contracted it declaring on the contrary in solemn congress at Troppau (1820), that they would put down by mediation or by force the rebellion against legitimate governments, which was then declaring itself; thus arrogating the monstrous privilege of deciding what change, or whether any change, should be made by any nation within itself. The Italians, Genoa and Sicily excepted, had not indeed, like the Spaniards, the plea of unfulfilled promises to urge in their own behalf, though they