Графични страници
PDF файл

"Admit them; I expected their attendance."

"So the hour has come at last," muttered Carlo Alberto, as the gentleman-in-waiting withdrew. "The dream of my youth-nourished in boyhood, and cherished in manhood, concealed carefully in the recesses of my heart is near its realisation. Yet strange uncertainty of purpose - the hour is come, and instead of my mind boldly leaping forward to hail its arrival, it shrinks at its approach, as if some terrible mystery hung over its fate. Can it be the presentiment of evil, the inscrutable hand which at times warns us of danger? No, I cannot, I will not believe it; rather let me think this unknown vagueness of purpose is but a feeling of terror at the daring step I am about to take the leap before which expands at every instant the vision I contemplate, in rarer and more glorious colours. here comes the deputation-to-day received in secret-a few months hence, its object loudly proclaimed."



"Gentlemen," continued the King, as he rose from his seat, while the Marquis Pasalacqua, the Baron Pinaldi, and Alberico Porro entered the room, "it is with pleasure I greet your appearance. I have read over carefully the various documents you handed me at the last interview, and have thought deeply over the proposals of the Lombard nobility. my heart sympathises fully with your sufferings and wrongs, my actions must have proved to you before now, and especially of late. I have used my influence with every crowned head in Italy, to induce them to respond to the cry heard on all sides, by granting those reforms so essential to the wellbeing of every people. From each government I have received more or less encouragement to proceed in the course I have thought proper to adopt, with the exception of Austria, who

has sternly refused to listen to any measures which might tend to alleviate your evils. It is easy, therefore, to perceive, from the impulse given to the cause of reform by the holy Pontiff, by the agitation which prevails through all classes of society by the continued acts of petty cruelty enacted by the servants of the Imperial House of Hapsburg, that at no distant period a revolution will become inevitable. Be therefore assured, gentlemen, that if I perceive, at any period hereafter, the slightest opening where the arms of Sardinia may be of use in furthering your efforts to ameliorate your condition - so deeply do I sympathise with you I will not hesitate to give my countenance openly to your movement. Further I cannot promise."

"Deeply will your Majesty deserve the gratitude of every true Italian,” said the Baron Pinaldi, "by the course your Majesty has so generously promised to pursue. The organisation of the Lombard nobility is fast proceeding; the union of the middle classes and the people will soon be accomplished; and joined with the powerful aid of your kingdom, sire, the liberty of Lombardy, and perhaps that of the whole of Italy, will be achieved. May God grant the Italian race sufficient wisdom and spirit to show, on a future day, how deeply they feel the noble and kingly pledge of your Majesty, which, when known, will raise around your throne, sire, the hearts of all Italy."

"Gentlemen, my earnest hope is, L'Italia farà da sè. The future glitters with golden promises; on the energy and union of the Lombards depends their realisation."

After conversing a short time longer with the King, whose destiny from that hour was marked out, rich with the ancient spirit of heroic chivalry, the deputation took their leave, with hopes elated, and trembling with a joy long a stranger to their hearts.



The boldness with which the national party reared its head in Milan itself, the head-quarters of a numerous Austrian army, would seem to have rested on a deeper foundation. It would appear to indi

[ocr errors]

cate an anticipation, founded on a secret concert and intelligence, of that explosion which some two months later occurred in every important quarter of the Austrian empire, and on an assurance that the aid of Charles Albert would be extended to the Milanese nobility, upon the contingency so expected."-Military Events in Italy.

BRIGHTLY Over the face of nature arose the sun on the capital of north

ern Italy, on the morning of the 18th of March, 1848. For several days

previous the general excitement reigning throughout society, from the highest to the lowest circle, had been extreme; and in every public assembly, garden, and coffee-house, the politi cal course of events were openly canvassed, and the conduct of the Austrian Government denounced in the strongest terms. Not even the infamous enactment of the guidiccio statario, which authorised the authorities to arrest, try, and shoot any suspected party in the short space of two hours, was sufficient to prevent hundreds from freely giving loose to their opinions, and to the detestation in which they held their rulers. These decided manifestations of popular will, so unheard of, and carefully reported to Government by their secret agents and spies, were sufficient to create alarm in the minds of the different members which constituted it, and following out the cowardly example set them in France, by the flight of the Citizen King, Louis Philippe, who dared not confront the brave people whose generous confidence and trust he had basely betrayed, several of them openly took fear for their guide, and fled in terror from the scenes of their crimes. The governor Spucer was the first to set the example, and his was soon followed by the minister Figuelmont, who had so courageously boasted but a short time previously, "He held in his hands an infallible means of making the good Milanese forget their idol, Pius IX., and their wishes for national independence;" but which, like all coward boasts, turned out to be but the vaunt of a feeble and imbecile mind, incapable of standing by what it asserted. On the day previous the news had reached Milan of an insurrection having broken out at Vienna, and the intelligence spread with lightning rapidity through every part of the city. But a few hours after, the Viceroy of Lombardy, terrified at the ominous aspect of affairs, fled in haste towards Vienna, carrying with him every article of value, even to his moveables; and this but tended to add fuel to the fire of popular excitement and discontent which already reigned around on every side. Such is gene

rally the dictate of the conscience of those who learn to govern a people, not by their love but by their fears, a coward's flight, with the deserved execration of every pure, honest, generous, and noble mind. Conscience! what a true judge art thou, and how virtuous would not mankind be if they hearkened but to thy silent yet unerring voice, one of the most precious gifts ever bestowed by a beneficent Providence to guide the soul to the Fountain of Life!

It was a Saturday* morning which dawned over the northern city of the German Cæsars, the Cisalpine of modern republican hope. In deathlike silence broke the hour on scenes which soon were to be filled with the forms of thousands of human beings, not animated with the common feelings which stir the human mind to encounter the daily business of life, but with those exhibiting the darker and fiercer passions of nature-ferocity, cruelty, and hatred-revenge, despair, and patriotism! Over the calmness of the scene shone joyously forth the rays of the sun, dying with hues of purple and gold the thick clouds floating over the blue firmament of heaven, as if indicative of the approach of the storm, which was to reign not merely in its own sphere, but also in the hearts of the people, over whose head they floated through immensity. Slowly passed along the hand of time, and then a few stragglers were seen quietly calling at various houses, and breaking by the echo of their footsteps the silence of the streets. Gradually the number of passengers increased, but seemingly, as if by some preconcerted plan, the principal part of the wayfarers directed their steps towards the Piazza de' Mercanti, the Duomo, and other places, where conspicuously were posted large placards, by order of Government. The excited looks and manners of the people, after perusing the contents of the poster, told how much their welfare and interest was concerned in the proclamation, and of what importance they deemed it. The announcement was signed by the Conte O'Donnell, and proclaimed by order of the Emperor

I have noticed with some surprise the mistake made by two or three authors, in attributing the outbreak of the Revolution at Milan to have occurred on a Sunday, and not on a Saturday. It took place, most certainly, on Saturday, the 18th day of March.

of Austria, the abolition of the censorship of the press, and the proImise of the convocation of the States of the kingdom, both German and Slavonic, on the 3rd of July next, at farthest.* Beneath the placard appeared another, on which was painted the national emblem of Italy, the tricoloured flag, and under the words were written" Italians! let your answer be to YOUR Emperor, No compromise. A Nationality of our own!' To arrive at this there is but one course, to arms! to arms!"

The promises contained in the proclamation, which time has shown was but an invention to allay the popular excitement, and thus gain time for new specious pretences,† had, even if they contained truth, arrived too late. It was not merely a more open acknowledgment of law which was required, with its more equitable administration the Lombards desired an Italian dynasty of their own. Thirty-two years of suffering and oppression had taught them the bitter lesson of experiencethe little reliance there could be placed in the faith of an Austro-German absolutism. The hour for slight and gradual improvements to keep pace with the steady march of human progression and thought, had long passed away, never to be recalled; for the hopes held out, yet never realised; the promises given, yet always broken; the wearying, yet sickening sensation of long years of prayer and abject entreaties, unheeded, unnoticed-all had conspired to render useless any concessions whatsoever; promises were disbelieved, atonements accepted as a sure sign of weakness; threats but awoke a louder expression of dissatisfaction; in short, the hour of retribution had come! Terrible, yet how beautiful is that hour, when a people,

weighed down by the sense of a thousand acts of injustice, rise up spontaneously, prince and peasant mingling indiscriminately together as brothers, to claim the unalienable rights of man, sanctified by the voice of prophecy and the Spirit of God-pale and mute in their stern features, offering their breasts a walled phalanx to the foes' bayonet, their lives a willing sacrifice at the eternal altar of judgment !

[ocr errors]

At a house in the Corsie dé Servi, at an early hour in the morning, in a spacious room, was seen Porro, and around him collected a number of the members of some of the most influential and most ancient nobility of Italy the Count Martina, the agent of the King of Sardinia; the Count Hasati; the two chiefs of the Borroméo family; Vrambilla, Visconte, Velgiojoso, Trivuszi, Litta, Pasalacqua, and a number of others, whose ardent love of country and contempt of danger, which they soon after exhibited, has endeared them to their countrymen, and enriched the page of history with the example of a patriotism as lofty and as pure as was ever beheld. On the countenance of each person present was seen depicted the strong marks of mental excitement, the nervous twitching of the hands, the face pale and stern in its expression, the body, moving and restless in its motions, all proclaiming that the hour had come! The hour long dreamt of, long thought of, long wished for had come come at length to crush the galling serfdom of years of agony, of torture, of slavery!the hour had come to triumph or to die! On their unity and courage, ay, even on their very despair, depended the liberty of their country; the victory of mind over ignorance, of virtue over vice, of justice and honesty over infamy and cruelty!

* The proclamation was as follows:-"The President of H. I. M. Government thinks it his duty to publish the following news, contained in a telegraphic despatch, dated Vienna, 13th instant, which arrived the same day at Chilli, and at Milan yesterday evening:

"H. M. the Emperor has determined to abolish the censureship, and to publish, without delay, a law on the press, as well as to convoke the States of the Kingdom, both German and Slavonic, and also the Central Congregations of the Lombarda Venetian Kingdom. The meeting will be held on the 3rd of next July at latest.

"Milan, 18th March, 1848."

"CONTE O'DONNELL, Vice-President.

† That the promises made in the proclamation issued by the Conte O'Donnell were never intended to be realised, the author is positive of, for he has seen a letter, in the possession of a friend of his, and written by a Minister of the Austrian Crown, avowing, at the time the proclamation was published, that it was only a barefaced cheat to deceive the Milanese people, for the purpose of keeping them quiet.


2 c

The hour had come-come like a glorious beam of sunshine to bid them to cast aside their sloth, luxury, and pleasures; to nerve their arms, to rouse their every energy to the coming struggle, and never to cease their activity until Europe, the world at large, beheld the tri-coloured flag, the emblem of their nationality, floating in peace, protected by their arms, from the walls of every city in Italy! Yes, the hour of retribution had come ! the hour of action had arrived!

The Count Pompeo Litta, one amongst the number of those assembled there, rose from his seat, and, unfolding a paper he held in his hands, exclaimed

"Nobles and friends!—According to the agreement we made on the last occasion we met together, we are once more assembled, I trust in spirit and in unity, to carry out the noble object of creating a nationality of our own. That the difficulties to arrive at this end are great, the obstacles many, I need not conceal from you; but circumstances of a most favourable aspect seem to favour our bold and hazardous undertaking. The secret committee formed by your consent, and of which I have the honour of being secretary, has entrusted me with the document I hold in my hand, to communicate to you its contents. They are as follows:

[ocr errors]

"The Directions of the Committee of the Lombardo Consulta to the Members of the Society:

"The mission entrusted to our hands has been satisfactorily completed. From every part hope smiles upon the efforts we have all jointly made. The majesty of Piedmont has formed the alliance on the terms understood, and has entered into a solemn engagement. The Pontiff has accorded to us his blessing on our enterprise. These facts are entrusted to the honour of the members of the Lombarda Consulta to hold as sacred trusts, divulged only to inspire them with confidence in the success of their mission. The committee has also been assured of immediate assistance from various quarters, directly the manifestations have become openly demonstrated, and have fixed the eighteenth day March of this year as the signal agreed on. The different duties in directing the signals

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

"Gentlemen, from the document I have read to you, you will perceive the hopes of our members in attaining their most holy end is far from being so difficult of realisation, when we have the positive assurance, if we rise this day to vindicate our rights, to claim what we have been robbed of, within four or five days hence the brave army of Sardinia will enter Milan, to assist our cause of justice and of patriotism, and to witness our triumph. May God in his mercy will it to be so. This moment, whilst I am speaking, the work of independence has already commenced; for not until last night was I informed by a friend present, a member of our Consulta, but whose name I cannot divulge, of the existence of a society, whose ramifications have spread with an extraordinary rapidity throughout the whole of Italy, and whose objects are similar to our own-the independence of country-and whose members are at the present hour hurrying from every part to join the work of justice, which they have determined shall commence this day. On the certainty of this fact, the committee of the Lombarda Consulta, not without due caution, determined to aid in the holy effort, conjointly with the members of the society I have named. But another most important fact I must not omit to communicate to you, which is amongst the members of the society, of which my friend is president, there are no less than some four hundred who are at the present time in the Austrian service, and who, the instant we rise, will immediately desert the ranks of slavery and of shame to join those of freedom and virtue. That you will receive them as brothers I cannot doubt, who, for a time, have forgotten the duty they owe their country only to awaken from

The document I have translated nearly literally from the original MS.

"That the Italian regiments were, in many instances, falling away from Austria, could be no secret to Charles Albert. The particular agency by which these extensive defections were prepared and accomplished has never been made known."-Military Events in Italy.

their dream, dictated by an honourable sense of feeling, to fly to combat with their brothers in the battle of national independence. The importance of this fact, joined with others communicated to you by your committee, must tend to inspire you not merely with hope, but with the certainty of success. At noon, therefore, this day, I call upon you, each and all, by the solemn pledges you have entered intoby your hopes of in future enjoying the real liberties appertaining to manby the sacred duties you owe to country, to home, to family, and religion, to meet at the Broletto,* there to enter upon the commencement and end of the glorious consummation of liberty to Italy. The Viceroy, the Governor, and other members of the Austrian

Government, have already fled-fled without a shot being fired. Their flight is the signal for your rise-the token of the certainty of your triumph. Let your motto be the same as used in the days of Peter the Hermit, when it spread from mouth to mouth, and reechoed through every part of Europe, calling forth an enthusiasm bordering on frenzy-It is the will of God!it is the will of God!'"

Loud applause followed the speech of the Count Pompeo Litta, and the soul-inspiring cry of "It is the will of God!" resounded in the room. The hour had come, the die was cast: in that startling cry echoed the feelings long controlled, but now impossible to be subdued. Retribution!Justice! -Freedom!



"They never fail who die

In a great cause; the block may soak their gore,
Their heads may sodden in the sun, their limbs
Be strung to city gates and castle walls-

But still their spirit walks abroad. Though years
Elapse, and others share as dark a doom,
They but augment the deep and sweeping thoughts
Which overpower all others, and conduct
The world at last to freedom."-BYRON.

THROUGH the streets of Milan pour a countless multitude of people, the greatest part of whom directed their steps towards the Town Hall of Milan. Gloriously grand and noble was the spectacle they offered-one sole feeling, one sole hope, one sole thought animating their hearts-the love of country. In them was awoke once more the ancient spirit of nationality, starting again from the grave of centuries, the bound of years forgotten in the spell animating each arm, each heart— heaven-born Liberty. Lovely is that feeling when sincerely felt, for there neither ambition places its gory hand, nor passion, with any of its sinful sensations, but all is pure, bright, and true in its golden rays of love. Brother unites with brother, class with class, animosities, prejudices, all forgotten alike the spirit of true Christianity claiming them as her children, worthy of the intellectuality of mind. Unarmed as they were, still their thoughts were freely given loose to,

and from voice to voice was echoed the cries of " Long live the independence of Italy!" "Down with the police!" "Away with the Tedeschi !" In a mass of confusion along the streets pour that wild multitude, till they arrive before the municipal palace. Here they were met by the Podesta of Milan, the Count Hasati, and the various municipal authorities, who placing themselves at their head, inoved onward towards the palace of the Governor, the Count Spucer. As they approached their destination, the two Austrian soldiers who stood guarding the large entrance - door of the palace took alarm, and long accustomed to act upon their own authority to insult the people with impunity, at once fired upon the crowd advancing towards them. For a moment the people paused, and then rushed upon their minds the bitter memories of a thousand injuries, and loud broke from their lips the cry of "Death to the Tedeschi!" And on

* The Broletto, a building appropriated to the Municipal Council.

« ПредишнаНапред »