Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 arc 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,f 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 XTL, 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 Eivarola—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 Princo Talleyrand and Prince Metternich, and was presented to them during the sitting of the Congress of Vienna.

f The Legations were conquered by Iluonaparte in 1797, and were ceded to the French Republic by the treaty of Tolentino.

Legate of Ravenna, sentenced 508 individuals,—7 to death, 13 to perpetual imprisonment and hard labour, 16 to the same punishment for twenty years, 4 for fifteen years, 16 for ten years, 3 for seven years, and so on. Two hundred were placed under surveillance, and subjected to the precetto politico of the first order. Those subjected to this preceto are bound not to quit the place of residence assigned them, to retire to their houses at nightfall, to present themselves every fortnight before the inspector of police, to prove to the satisfaction of the police that they have confessed once a month, and, for three days in every year, to go through certain spiritual exercises in a convent pointed out by the bishop. During the pontificates of Pius VIIL and Gregory XVI., the same system of injustice and tyranny was pursued in the Legations, and the discontent and misery of the inhabitants more than once broke out in partial disturbances, which were promptly and bloodily repressed, either by the papal soldiers or by Austrian troops who came to their assistance.* In 1831, the Austriaus occupied Romagna for five months; and, in 1832 and subsequently, for seven years, exhausting the resources of the country, and oppressing, torturing, and murdering the inhabitants. Military commissions superseded the courts of justice, and exceptional tribunals sat permanently, not to administer law, but as instruments of the vengeance of a foreign despotism. In 1831, the melancholy state of the Legations excited the attention and compassion of Europe; and, on the 10th May of that year, the representatives of the five great Powers addressed a memorandum to the Papal Government, strongly insisting upon the necessity of reform, and advising that concessions should be made, not only to the provinces in a state of disaffection, but to those also which had remained quiet. They further suggested the propriety of admitting laymen to administrative and judicial offices, of reforming the courts of judicature and the management of the finances, and of allowing the people to elect municipal councils, who should nominate provincial councils, by whom, in their turn, a supreme court should be elected, having its seat at Rome, and charged with the administration of the civil,' military, and financial affairs of the whole country. In spite of this remonstrance, however, the Papal Government remained—as it has ever been—incapable of improvement; resolved to stifle every manifestation of liberalism, ana blindly determined to grant no reforms. In 1832, in reply to a deputation of citizens of the Legations, who had come to Rome

* The second paragraph of the eloquent Manifesto, addressed, in 1845, by the inhabitants of the Roman States, to the Princes and Nations of Europe, contains a graphic description of their sufferings at this time.

to petition* for a reform, a body of troops, chiefly composed of banditti, were collected by Cardinal Albani and let loose upon the Legations, where they sacked Cesena, and, at Forli, massacred a number of old men, women, and children. In that year also, the sect of the san/edisti, a body of men drawn from the lowest ranks of society, and ready to lend themselves to any iniquity, was established in the Legations. They Wore a uniform, and had the title of "Papal Volunteers." Their special duty was to oppress, maltreat, and terrify the liberal party in every possible way; and the number of outrages and assassinations perpetrated by them, in the discharge of their infamous functions, must be counted by hundreds. They were assured of impunity, or at least of the slightest possible punishment, for every crime they might commit; for Cardinal Bernetti, the secretary of state, wrote a circular letter to the presidents of tribunals in the Legations, ordering that, whenever a person of known or suspected liberal opinions should be brought before them charged with any offence, the maximum penalty should be enforced against him; but that when one of the San/edisti was convicted, the minimum punishment should be awarded.

In 1845, the people of the Roman States, trodden down, impoverished, miserable, under the hopeless tyranny of their clerical rulers, addressed a manifesto to the princes and people of Europe, —a remarkable document, clear and eloquent, but, at the same time, most temperate in its tone—in which they recount their grievances and sufferings, and set forth the reforms they consider necessary. We regret that our limits prevent us from translating this manifesto, which contains, in its simple, graphic narrative, a complete answer to the case which the Comte de Montalembert strives to make out in favour of the Papal Government. We regret to see such a champion buckling on his armour in so bad a cause; and our chief object in the present article is to show that, so far from the Legations having, as he asserts, no cause for throwing off the papal yoke, the whole conduct of the Roman See, from 1815 down to 1859, has furnished them with a cause and a justification, as strong and as complete as any oppressed nationality ever possessed. We translate the concluding portion of the manifesto, as it shows the excellent spirit of those who drew it up, and the moderate reforms which would then have been sufficient to make them attached and obedient subjects of the Holy See :— "We venerate the Catholic hierarchy, and we wish the Roman clergy to consider Catholicism in its true and sublime essence, and not from the paltry and miserable point of view of an intolerant Beet. In order to prevent our wishes from being interpreted in a manner to be regretted, either now or hereafter, either in Italy or abroad, we proclaim, loudly and without restriction, the sovereignty of the Pope, chief of the universal church. But to obey him as temporal sovereign, we demand: 1st, That he shall concede a full and general amnesty to all condemned for political offences from the year 1821 down to the present day. 2nd. That he shall give civil and criminal codes upon the model of those of the other nations of Europe—codes sanctioning the publicity of debate, the institution of trial by jury, and the abolition of confiscation. 3rd. That the tribunal of the holy office and ecclesiastical tribunals shall exercise no jurisdiction over laymen. 4th. That political causes shall be henceforth tried by the ordinary tribunals, judging in the ordinary forms. 5th. That the municipal councils shall be freely elected by the citizens, and approved by the .sovereign; that the batter shall choose the provincial councils from among triple lists presented by the municipal councils, and that he shall nominate the supreme Council of State from among those who shall have been proposed by the provincial assemblies. 6th. That the supreme Council of State shall preside at Rome, and have the superintendence of the public debt. 7th. That all employments and civil dignities, military and judicial, shall be reserved for laymen. 8th. That the public instruction shall be taken away from the exclusive authority of the clergy. 9th. That the preventive censorship of the press shall be restricted within the limits necessary to prevent injuries against the Catholic religion, against the sovereign, and against the private life of citizens. 10th. That the foreign troops shall be disbanded. 11th. That a civic militia shall be instituted, to which shall be entrusted the maintenance of public order and the defence of the laws. 12th. Finally, that the Government shall enter upon the path of those social ameliorations which are called for by the spirit of the age, and for which there is the example of all civilized governments. We shall throw down our arms, and be peaceable and obedient subjects, if the Government, under the guarantee of the great Powers, does justice to our legitimate remonstrances. The blood spilt will fall not upon us, but upon those who shall have repelled our efforts at conciliation; and, if they judge us unfavourably, the infallible and eternal Judge will absolve us in his infinite wisdom and justice. To God, to the Sovereign Pontiff, and to the Princes of Europe we recommend our cause, with all the earnestness of an oppressed nation. We entreat, we implore the princes not to attempt to compel us to show, that when a people is abandoned by all and reduced to the last extremity, they know how to find their safety in their despair."

This manifesto, this outpouring of a nation's heart, bursting forth from the depth of their misery and oppression, produced but little effect: at the death of Pope Gregory XVI. the prisons of the Roman States were crowded w^th political victims, and the discontent and disaffection of the people had reached such a height, that even the College of Cardinals could not disregard it. They dreaded a revolt; and, accordingly, determined to elect as Pope, Cardinal Maria Mastei Ferretti, who was distinguished by the mildness of his character and the purity of his life. This pontiff —since so well known as Pius IX.—succeeded to the Holy See in 1846; and, forgetful of all history, attempted to temporize and steer a middle course, by granting some reforms, but yet at the same time maintaining the absolute power of the Papacy. One of his first acts was to publish an amnesty, to open the prisons, and recall the exiles. His subjects, accustomed to tyranny, were in transports; and, for a time, believed that a Pope might be a true friend to liberty. But Pius went even further in the path of reform—relaxing the restrictions on the press, extending municipal institutions, and admitting laymen to the higher offices of the magistracy. A Council of Ministers was formed, of which, with the exception of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Public Instruction, all the members were laymen; and a constitution, under the name of Statuto, was granted to the Roman people. This Statuto created two Councils of State—a High Council, and a Council of Deputies; but it forbad them to interfere, in any way, with what were called ajfari misti, or matters in which any of the rights or privileges of the Church were involved; and, though it permitted them to propose laws, it, at the same time, subjected them to the supremacy of the College of Cardinals, who had an absolute right to veto any law so proposed. The Statuto, therefore, gave the mere semblance of freedom without the reality. It still left absolute temporal power in the hands of the Church; it attempted to revive the tree by lopping off some withered branches, instead of extirpating the cankerworm that gnawed at its root. Such as it was, however, it was hailed with acclamations by the Romans, who had wanted freedom so long, that they were ready to embrace her very shadow. Soon afterwards followed the revolution of 1848-49; the refusal of Pius to allow the Roman troops to march against the Austrians; his flight from Rome; the proclamation of the Roman republic; the defeat of the patriotic Italians; the Pope's refusal to owe his restoration to Sardinian interference; his calling to his aid the foreign arms of Austria, Spain, and France; and the capture of Rome by the French, by whom Pius was at last replaced on the throne of the country he had deluded, abandoned, and betrayed.

During this eventful period, the Legations suffered both from papal misgovernment and from Austrian intervention. Bologna

« PreviousContinue »