Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Venice, they had performed deeds of valor and patriotism, not unworthy the brightest days of ancient Rome. The Roman and the Tuscan, the Venetian, the Piedmontese, and the Lombard, had fought side by side against the common enemy, and mingled their blood in the common cause. Thenceforth that cause was no longer the creed of a cliqne or a club—no longer the idol of a few patriotic enthusiasts. It had found for itself a sanctuary in every Italian heart. It had become the center, towards which the Italian mind, with all its convictions and aspirations, still continues to gravitate, with unerring certainty.

And now—to resume the thread of our narration—when the shock of Novara was past, the mourning for Charles Albert over, and the treaty with Austria, after long debate, had been ratified by Parliament, the government of Victor Emanuel set earnestly about the work of reform commenced by his father. Though little was known about the young king, except that his mother and wife were Austrian princesses, that he had been the pupil of Jesuits, and that as a soldier he was brave and intrepid in battle, yet he gave to his subjects a very acceptable pledge of his devotion to the constitution, in the choice that he made of his counselors. First in his confidence was Massimo D'Azeglio, the head of the ministry. Next to him in prominence, was Count Cavour, a man of great talents, wealth and ambition, the rival of D'Azeglio, and now his successor. These two men, by thus uniting their influence, were enabled to secure the support of what, in French phraseology, is called the right center and the left center of the houses of legislation, and thus command a majority over the opposite extremes of radicalism and conservatism. Though they were destined to meet with determined opposition, still they found most able supporters both in the cabinet and in the Parliament. There was La Marmora, who commanded the Sardinians in the Crimea. There was Cibrario, the able historian of Piedinont. There was Brofferio, whose eloquence in the Chamber of Deputies often swept all before it. There was Lorenzo Valerio, who had devoted his life to the elevation of the masses—whom Charles Albert, when a despot, could not corrupt, and whom Fransoni, when an archbishop, could not eilence. There were Rattazzi, Cadorna, Torelli, and others, whom we cannot now name.

Among the measures of reform, introduced by this ministry and carried through Parliament, was the memorable Siccardi bill—so called from the name of the minister of justice, upon whom it devolved to present it in the Chamber of Deputies. It was the first of a series of blows, aimed at the power of the clergy, who, for a long time, had lorded it with so high a hand in the kingdom, as to give it the title even among Roman Catholic communities, of “ Paradise of Priests.This law suppressed the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts, in cases in which priests were involved, and made the clergy amenable, equally with the laity, to the secular tribunals, in all matters civil and criminal. Furthermore, it abolished the privilege of asylum in churches given to fugitives from justice. Next came a statute of mortmain, passed in June, 1850, the object of which was to prevent the further acquisition of property by religious corporations, except by special license from the government. Its importance was apparent from the fact that the revenue of the church already exceeded one-tenth of that of the whole landed property of the kingdom. Indeed it was but little less than half the sum allowed by France, although the population of the kingdom was only one-eighth that of France. These bills, of course, on their passage through Parliament, met with the fiercest opposition from the ultra-conservative and clerical party. And no sooner had the Siccardi bill become a law, than the archbishop of Turin bade his clergy resist it. He was prosecuted for a seditious libel and imprisoned, and both he and the archbishop of Cagliari were afterwards deposed and banished. Again, the last sacraments of the church were refused to the Deputy, Santa-Rosa, on the ground that he had voted for the Siccardi bill. But it was easy to see from the demonstration that took place on the occasion of his burial, that the priest-ridden people of Sardinia were on the side of their government, in its controversy with the clergy. A penny subscription was circulated, from which a granite obelisk, called the Siccardi monument, was erected in Turin, to commemorate the reforms of 1850.

[ocr errors]

During the next three or four years the measures of reform adopted by Parliament related principally to commerce and finance, and to the army and navy. A civil marriage bill, recominended by the King himself in his opening address, passed the lower house, but failed in the Senate. Meanwhile the religious contest was carried on with unabated animosity, through the press, the church, and the universities. Professor Nuytz, occupant of the chair of canon law in the university of Turin, entertained crowded audiences with arguments in support of the supremacy of the civil power in its controversy with the hierarchy, and in opposition to the infallibility of the pope and the celibacy of the clergy. And there was a long and tedious negotiation with the Papal See, in which his Holiness protested and remonstrated against the Sardinian innovations, with all the unction of his "sore affliction and unspeakable sor

But it was all of no avail. In November, 1854, the Cavour-Ratazzi ministry brought before Parliament another bill for ecclesiastical reform, the object of which was, first, to shift the burden of supporting the poorer clergy from the state to the wealthier clergy, and, secondly, to suppress and confiscate the convents, in cases where the monks did not

devote theinselves to instruction, preaching, or the care of the | sick. There were at that time in the kingdom, acccording to

Gallenga,t seventy-one monastic orders, six bundred and four religious houses, and eight thousand five hundred and sixty-three monks and nups. The ecclesiastics numbered in all twentythree thousand—that is, one for every two hundred and four

row."*

* Perhaps the feature in these negotiations, most interesting to a Protestant, is the following complaint of the Papal See, in reference to the toleration of the Waldenses: “Moreover there has been offered to the Catholic Church the memorable outrage of seeing erected, within its own bosom, and in the two most distinguished cities of the realm, temples of protestantism, in despite of the unanimous outery of the bishops, who remonstrated, and of the indignation of the faithful.”—See London Quarterly Review, July, 1855.

We are indebted for most of the statistics which we have gathered in reference to Sardinia, to the last chapter in the work of Gallenga, the title of which we have placed at the head of this Article. We believe Gallenga is the same person who, a few years ago, under the pseudonym of Mariotti, wrote an interesting work in two volumes, entitled, ItalyPast and Present.

[ocr errors]

teen inhabitants. In Belgium there was only one for every six hundred, and in Austria, which still bore the marks of the weeding-hook of Joseph II, only one for every six hundred and ten. And here we add, without comment, the fact, that though primary education was principally in the hands of the clergy, there were two-thirds of the population of the kingdom who could neither read nor write. Again, while on the one hand there were bishops whose revenue exceeded 100,000 francs, and parish priests with a revenue of above 12,000 francs, there were no less than two thousand five hundred and forty parish priests whose revenue was less than 500 francs. To relieve these latter, and provide them with the means of subsistence, the state had to bear an annual burden of 928,412 francs. This burden, by the proposed law, was to be imposed on the opulent clergy, and from the tax thus levied, and the moneys arising from the confiscation of the property of the convents, a separate church fund was to be raised, from which the poor parish priests were to be further relieved, and the members of the suppressed convents to receive a small pension for life. While this bill was pending, a series of domestic calamities befell the King, which only added fuel to the prevailing excitement. Within the space of a single month he lost his wife, mother, and brother. And then the priests, or rather those whose revenues were endangered by the new bill, were quick to perceive in these sudden bereavements the “finger of God”—the “ voice of warning from Heaven.” But the King signed the bill. Then it was that the Court of Rome fulminated the sentence which it had so often threatened,—the Greater Excommunication against the King, and all who had supported the new law, or who should aid in its execution. But the Pope could not better have strengthened the bond that united the King to his people, than by thus attempting to sever it-s0 wide had become the breach-90 irreconcilable the enmity-between them and the hierarchy.

The same spirit of reform has prevailed in all branches of the administration. The genius of La Marmora has restored energy and discipline to the army, and strengthened the defenses of the kingdom. The statesmanship of Cavour has

[ocr errors]

imparted order and system to the finances.

Several commercial treaties, on a liberal basis, have been concluded with other governments. Postage has been reduced, tithes abolished, and various relics of feudalism swept away. Schools of elementary instruction have increased in number from six thousand to nine thousand. Railways and telegraphs, commenced since 1848, stretch out in every direction from the Alps to the Ticino and the sea. To be sure, the skeptic may say that the reforms thus far effected amount to nothing, after all, but the eradication of a few old abuses. But the freedom of the press is a good guaranty for further and more thorough reforms. Eight or ten daily papers, besides several monthly and quarterly periodicals, are published in Turin, now the intellectual center of Italy, and they represent all shades of opinion, from the absolutism of Austria to the radicalism of Young Italy. Books of all kinds may be purchased in the shops, where the manifestoes of Mazzini and the allocutions of the Pope are laid out for sale, side by side.

Of course the friends of Italy regard the establishment of free institutions Sardinia as an earnest of the success of the national cause throughout the Peninsula. With hopeful pride they saw Cavour, to the great annoyance of Austria, plead manfully the cause of Italy, before the great powers, at the Congress of Paris. Turin has become the gathering place for the refugees from the other Italian states. They find themselves welcomed in Sardinia, where they are soon admitted to the privileges of citizenship. Many of them have filled honorable positions in the service of the Sardinian government. Paleocapa, for several years minister of public works, is a Venetian exile. Farini, the historian of the Papal states, and a Roman exile, has been minister of public instruction. On the death of Balbo, in 1853, Pallavicini, the companion of Silvio Pellico, in the Spielberg, was elected to fill his place in the Chamber of Deputies. Indeed, there were at one time no less than twenty exiles in the lower house of Parliament. The Moderate party have also received many valuable accessions from the ranks of Young Italy, while, on the other hand, Mazzini, by his connection with the Milan insurrection of Febru

« ПредишнаНапред »