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Modena, and Parma are yet trembling in the balance ; and the Pope claims the restoration of those fair provinces of Central Italy which-wearied out by centuries of misrule, and despairing of any constitutional and peaceful reforms—have at last withdrawn their allegiance from the incorrigible ecclesiastical tyranny which has so long oppressed them. It is to the past history and present attitude of this portion of the Papal States—commonly known as the Legations—that we propose at present to direct the attention of our readers; and one of our principal inducements to do so, is that remarkable “Declaration of the Catholic Laity of Great Britain ”-published by the Tablet, and dated December 14th, 1859—which specially refers to the relations between the Pope and his revolted subjects. We do not believe that this document expresses the sentiments of the majority of the Roman Catholic laity of Great Britain. A small but extreme minority has often no scruple in representing its voice as the true utterance of the party of which it forms, in reality, only an insignificant section; and we believe this to be the case in the present instance. The tone of the “Declaration ”is arrogant and offensive, its spirit slavish, and utterly unworthy of the subjects of a free and consti. tutional government; while its assertions, with regard to the Pope and the inhabitants of the Légations, are the very reverse of true. We are not surprised at the seditious ravings of a part of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, or their reckless misrepresentations with regard to the subjects of the Holy See ; for such exhibitions have, unfortunately, been too common in that country to excite any other feelings than contempt and regret; though, by their sympathy with the temporal rule of the Papacy—that most stationary and consistently evil of all European governments—and their denunciations of the revolted subjects of that government, they have deprived themselves of all claim to sympathy, even were their grievances, under the hated yoke of Great Britain, tenfold what they assert them to be.
The Declaration commences by an affirmation of inviolable fidelity to the Holy Father and the Apostolic See, followed by a profession of attachment to our Queen and constitution. It denounces the “unjustifiable rebellion" of the Legations; the assistance rendered it by certain European Governments; the attacks and calumnies of the Protestant press; and it goes on further to declare that the preservation of the Pope's temporal power intact, is essential to the free exercise of his supreme spiritual authority ; that nothing in the conduct of the Papal Government can be pointed out sufficient to excuse or justify the rebellion of the Legations; and that the present Pope is a “ benignant, enlightened, and paternal ruler.” Finally, the
professions the white by protestant is the Prophe supreme
declarants protest against the aid given to the inhabitants of the Legations; against the attempt to compromise the Pope's spiritual power, by limiting his temporal sovereignty; and against the assumption by any state, sovereign, or Congress, of a right to dispose of the states of the Holy Father, “or to impose upon him any conditions against his own will, being persuaded that both justice and expediency dictate, that any changes in the laws or administration of his dominion, should be left to his own unfettered judgment and unquestioned benevolence;” and the document is closed by an intimation of the determination of the declarants “to resist and resent, in the spirit of the constitution, any such course on the part of the responsible advisers of the Crown, to whatever party in the state they may b.long."
It will thus be seen that the Catholic Laity of Great Britain propose nothing less than to hand over the unfortunate inhabitants of the Legations, bound hand and foot, to the tender mercies of the Pope and his all-powerful and vindictive minister, Cardinal Antonelli, and that, too, without imposing any conditions whatever upon his Holiness. It is surely somewhat strange to hear natives of free Great Britain—who have no experience of the temporal government of the Pope, and the majority of whom are ignorant of the habits, language, and necessities of the Italian nation—thus give the lie direct to the cry of tyranny and misrule which has long gone up from the oppressed population of the Legations, who have been born and bred under the Papal yoke, and who have endured it until longer endurance would have been a cowardice and a crime. Surely, they cannot expect their mere assertions to be believed—and they offer not an iota of proof—in opposition to the concuring testimony of the best writers of France, Germany, and Italy. Never was rebellion more thoroughly the result of a unanimous and deep-seated national feeling, than that of the Legations against the Papal yoke; and we undertake to show, in the succeeding pages of this article, that, so far from that rebellion being “ unjustifiable,” it was called forth and most amply justified by the perfidy, cruelty, and oppression of the various Popes, who have successively occupied the Holy See, since the return of Pius VII. on the fall of Napoleon, by their inveterate opposition to intellectual and social improvement, and their obstinate refusal of necessary reforms...
In his famous book on the Roman Question, M. About tells us that there is the material for a magnificent nation in that division of the Papal States lying between the Apennines and the Adriatic. The middle classes, which form the strength of every well constituted state, are richer and more numerous, better educated and less superstitious, than their countrymen on the Mediterranean side
of the mountains. They work hard, they think for themselves, and have made repeated and desperate efforts to shake off the yoke of priestly despotism. “I have never," he says, “conversed with a bourgeois of the Legations, without rubbing my hands, and saying to myself, There is an Italian nation!” This people, so full of energy and courage, have at length succeeded in emancipating themselves from the thraldom under which they have writhed and groaned for forty-five years. They are now free, both from the tyranny of Papal Legates, and from the oppression of Austrian garrisons—the two great curses which have hitherto paralyzed their industry and enterprize, and exhausted the resources of their fertile and beautiful country. But there are many who blame the inhabitants of the Legations for throwing off the papal yoke, and who would gladly see them forced back under that priestly rule, which is of all governments the most absolute, the most stationary, and the most opposed to enlightenment and liberty. It may, therefore, be worth while briefly to point out how the Popes, from the time of the restoration of Pius VII. down to our own days,-a period of more than forty years,-have systematically violated the conditions under which the Legations originally submitted to their government, by destroying the municipal liberties they were bound to respect; by opposing everything like local government in the various towns; by resisting all improvements in judicial procedure ; by neglecting public works; by excessive taxation to supply priestly luxury at Rome; and by innumerable instances of cruelty and oppression.
If ever there was a favourable opportunity for a Pope to acquire popularity, it was that enjoyed by Pius VII., whenafter the overthrow of the great Napoleon-he re-entered Rome, surrounded by the double halo of sanctity and misfortune, and greeted by the acclamations of the people, as at once the head of the church and the national prince. He began well; promising and carrying out several important reforms, in which he was ably seconded by his prime minister, Cardinal Consalvi, who obliged the tribunals to state the grounds of their decisions, and substituted the Italian for the Latin language, in order that litigants might learn the position and follow the progress of their law. suits. But a reforming Pope, like a good Emperor of Russia, is an accident, and a rare one; and, on the accession of Leo XII., in 1822, the scene was quickly changed. Consalvi was removed from the ministry, ecclesiastical jurisdiction was extended over affairs purely civil, the commission for vaccination was abolished in Rome, the right of asylum was restored, and the Latin language replaced the Italian in the courts of law. An Austrian envoy at
en changible to do want all the is cons
Rome thus describes to the government at Vienna the condition of Rome, and of the pontifical states under this rule of the Pope :* “I can assure you that Rome is at present, as to spiritual matters, the focus of demoralization; as to temporal, that of disorder. The inhabitants, proud and intractable, are given to superstition rather than to true religion. In the government of the cardinals, prelates, and priests, policy is a continual exhibition of Pharisaism and Machiavelism ; the social economy is in humiliating disorder. The contracts entered into by the Government inspire no confi. dence, because, once agreed upon, if they find any advantage to be gained by annulling them, they annul them by a pontifical decree, or change their conditions, to the great loss of the contractors. It is impossible to describe how ill the finances are conducted; the faithlessness and want of skill in the ministers make considerable voids in the treasury. In all the Pontifical States justice is openly sold. In Romagna, brigandage is constant. Decidedly, Babylon is the name that suits Rome. The pope commands, the cardinals command, the prelates command; all is to be obtained for gold, and without gold you need hope for nothing. Fully two-thirds of the priestly caste at Rome consist of hypocrites and Simoniacs ; the preachers are for the most part indifferent or atheists. The people are overwhelmed with religious ceremonies, in order to reanimate their zeal; but the Romans, who go to the churches on account of the scarcity of theatres and public spectacles, are no sooner out of them than they forget that they are Christians, and have no other thought but to curse the religious regulations of the pope, the inquisition, and the monks.” The same observer-a Roman Catholic, be it remembered, and an Austrian—thus narrates the conduct of Cardinal Palotta, the governor of the Legations under Leo XII. “Nothing equals the extravagant, arbitrary, and tyrannical measures adopted by the cardinal, the programme of which, besides, manifests ideas subversive of every principle of public administration. This personage has commenced his mission by listening to the most infamous men, who have received, among other rewards for their denunciations, the promise of being made his chevaliers d'honneur. He has everywhere imprisoned peaceful and respectable citizens, on the very slightest grounds of suspicion; he has condemned the small community of Piperno to an excessive fine, because it had not resisted the brigands who had killed the
. See “L'Autriche dans la Confédération Italienne, Histoire de la diplomatie et de la police de la cour de Vienne, dans les Etats du Pape depuis 1815, d'après des documents nouveaux et les pièces diplomatiques," par Eugène Rendu : Paris, 1859.
syndic and desecrated the church ; on the other hand, he has cashiered an officer who, in his zeal, had endeavoured, contrary to the orders of the cardinal, to discover and arrest some malefactors. To give a proof of his omnipotence, he has banished from the town the daughters of his landlord, because, being fond of music, they occasionally disturbed his repose. During all this time, the brigands are sacking the country, and carrying off young children in order to compel their families to ransom them. Such is the exasperation against Cardinal Palotta, that there is great fear of a general rising against the Government."
It must be kept in mind, while reading this narration, that the Legations were in a very different position from the patrimony of St. Peter on the Mediterranean side of the Apennines. They had submitted to the Holy See, at various times, and under special treaties, which the Pope was bound to observe as the condition of their obedience; and if he broke through his part of the contract by violating the liberties secured to the Legations by the provisions of these treaties, they on their side, were fully entitled to throw off the authority so grossly abused, and reclaim the freedom they had conditionally surrendered. Bologna, for example, one of the most important towns in the Legations, was governed, down to 1798,+ in conformity with treaties entered into, in 1447, with Pope Nicholas V., which contain the following articles :-"That the magistrates should administer the government of the town according to the ancient laws; that, the Legate should treat all the affairs of government in concert with the said magistrates; that the public revenues should be poured into the municipal treasury, and employed for the benefit of the province ; that the town and the province should levy as many soldiers as they should think fit, who should take the oath to the magistrates and the Legate; and that the magistrates should send plenipotentiaries to the Supreme Pontiff, even without the consent of the Legate." The towns of Ferrara and Ravenna also possess similar conventions, guaranteeing a large measure of freedom and self-government. Leo XII., however, paid no regard to the rights thus solemnly secured by treaties; and his agents in the Legations—that Palotta whom we have already mentioned and Rivarola — ruled these unhappy countries with a rod of iron. In August, 1825, the latter, then
• See the Project for the Organization of the Legations, drawn up by Count Aldini, Secretary of State, resident in Paris, for the kingdom of Italy. It was drawn up at the request of Prince Talleyrand and Prince Metternich, and was presented to them during the sitting of the Congress of Vienna.
The Legations were conquered by Buonaparte in 1797, and were ceded to the French Republic by the treaty of Tolentino.