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Italy page 4

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It remained for Austria to put down the revolution in Venice. That city had bravely stood a siege for nearly twelve months, when, after wonderful displays of heroism, its defenders were compelled to relinquish the unequal contest. This glorious defence was mainly owing to the extraordinary energy and activity of Manin, who was at the head of the Government. After the capitulation, he escaped with General Hesse and other leaders of the Republican party. Manin settled in Paris, where he lived in retirement, supporting himself by giving lessons in Italian. He died there in 1857. The people of Venice honoured his memory by going into mourning on the anniversary of his death, though, by doing so, even ladies incurred the penalties of fine and imprisonment at the hands of the Austrians.

During the months of April and May, Florence, and all the other towns of Tuscany recovered from the revolutionary fever, and returned to their allegiance. At Bologna, the Austrians met with a determined resistance. The garrison consisted of 3,000 men, including some hundreds of the Swiss guards, who had abandoned the service of the Pope. They defied the Austrians, stating that the Madonna was all for resistance, and was actively engaged in turning aside the rockets of the enemy. But the heavy artillery did its deadly work, notwithstanding; and after a short bombardment the white flag was hung out, the city capitulated, and the garrison laid down their arms, but were permitted to march out unmolested. Ancona also capitulated on the 10th, and Ferrara was occupied without resistance by Count Thurn. In fact, the counter-revolution was successful all over Central Italy, except in the Papal States, which now became the centre of universal interest. The leaders of the revolutionary party, chased from the other cities of Italy, were warmly welcomed at Rome, and gladly entered the ranks of its defenders.

We are now about to record the most memorable struggle for freedom that Rome ever witnessed since the days of Rienzi - a revolution far surpassing the one in which that tribune was the leader, on account of the wider and more momentous interests it involved, and the foreign powers that were the principal actors on the stage. Immediately after the flight of the Pope, a Supreme Junta was established on the 19th of December, 1848, consisting of Count Carsini, Count Camata, and Signor Galetti. They announced that they assumed their functions only pro tempore, until a constituent assembly of the Roman States, which was to be convoked as soon as possible, should decide upon a form of government. The elections, which took place on the 25th of January, 1849, were by universal suffrage and secret voting. The Assembly consisted of 200 members, who were to be paid at the rate of two crowns a day, and were not required to have any property qualification. On the 8th of February, the Assembly decreed that the Papacy had fallen de facto and de jure from the temporal throne of the Roman States; that the supreme Pontiff should enjoy all the guarantees necessary for the exercise of his spiritual power; that the Government should be a pure democracy, and assume the glorious name of the Roman Republic; and that the Roman Republic should maintain, with the rest of Italy, relations of amity required by their common nationality. On the 9th of February, therefore, the Republican flag was hoisted on the tower of the Capitol, and saluted by 101 guns from the Castle of St. Angelo.

Against all these revolutionary proceedings the Pope protested vehemently and repeatedly in his retirement at Gaeta. On Christmas Day he issued a manifesto, declaring all the acts of the Junta to be null, void, and illegal. On New Year's Day, he issued a bull of excommunication against his enemies at Rome, denouncing their conduct as " monstrous acts of hypocritical felony, and genuine rebellion." "Heaping iniquity upon iniquity, the promoters of demagogical anarchy," he said, " are endeavouring to destroy the temporal authority of the Roman Pontiff over the domains of the holy Church, believing, and seeking at the same time to make it believed, that his sovereign power is subject to controversy, and depends upon the caprice of factions, although its rights are so irrefragably founded upon the most ancient and solid basis, and although acknowledged and defended by all nations. We will spare our dignity the humiliation of dwelling," he continued, "upon all the monstrosities of this abominable act, arising from the absurdity of its origin, the illegality of its forms, and the impiety of its object."

Lest, however, the Romans should be overwhelmed with terror at the severity of his denunciations, Pius IX. concluded his anathema thus: - "But though we feel ourselves compelled, by our conscientious duties, to preserve and defend the sacred deposit of the patrimony of the spouse of Jesus Christ confided to our care, and to employ the sword of just severity, "which God himself, our Judge, has given into our hands to be thus used, we cannot, however, at any time forget that we hold on earth the place of Him who, in the exercise of His justice, never failed to use mercy." When the Republic was proclaimed, the Pope again protested, solemnly declaring its nullity. This protest was addressed to the representatives of the Roman Catholic States. The Romans, however, paid no heed to his remonstrances or anathemas.

The populace shouted " Vivas" for the Roman Republic; and its new government promulgated its decrees as if the Pope and his power had ceased to exist. The Assembly voted by acclamation that the laws should be made, and justice administered, "in the name of God and the people; " that the flag of the Roman Republic should be tri-coloured, with an eagle in the centre; and that all public functionaries, civil and military, should be relieved from their oath of allegiance to the defunct Government.

It was not to be expected that the Catholic powers would allow the barque of St. Peter to go down in the flood of revolution without an effort to save it. Spain was the first to interpose for this purpose. Its Government invited France, Austria, Bavaria, Sardinia, Tuscany, and Naples to send plenipotentiaries to consult on the best means of reinstating the Pope. Austria also protested against the new state of things, complaining that the Austrian flag, and the arms of the empire on the palace of its ambassador at Rome, had been insulted and torn down. On the 8th of February, a body of Austrian troops, under General Haynau, entered Ferrara, to avenge the death of three Austrian soldiers, and an insult offered to an Austrian consul. He required that the latter should be indemnified, that the Bapal colours should be again displayed, that the murderers of the soldiers should be given up, and that the city should support 10,000 Austrian troops. On receiving this news, the Roman Assembly resolved that " the whole Republic was accountable for the losses the generous Ferrara, or any other portion of the Roman territory, may suffer from the invasion of Austrian oppressors." On the 27th of February, Mazzini, the most remarkable man who has figured in connection with the history of modern revolutions, appeared upon the Roman stage. Born at Genoa, in 1808, the son of a professor of medicine, he was educated for the law; but he early devoted himself to journalism, and laboured with indefatigable zeal to propagate ideas in favour of Italian unity and independence. Imprisoned, exiled, chased from city to city and country to country, appearing in disguise where- ever conspiracy against tyrants could be organised, eluding the vigilance of the police with marvellous success, he continued to labour with his pen at the work of republican propagandism, making London, the home of political refugees, his head-quarters. At length his labours were crowned with success, and the numerous trains laid by the secret societies exploded with tremendous effect in the revolutions of 1848. The time had now come when he could venture to take a public part in carrying on the work. He was elected deputy to the Constitutional Assembly for the city of Leghorn, which received him with enthusiasm. His arrival in Rome was hailed with acclamation. On the 30th of March, 1849, he was placed at the head of the Government, which the Assembly intrusted to a triumvirate, composed of Mazzini, Armellini, and Saffi. Mazzini, however, was the ruling spirit of the Government. On the 14th of April, in view of the efforts which the Catholic powers were making, he addressed the Assembly on the state of affairs at Rome. Treason had triumphed in Piedmont, and also in Genoa; but whatever might happen elsewhere, their duty continued the same. Two millions of free men were sufficiently strong to resist the reaction and foreign enemies. Sterbini, a leading member of the body, exclaimed, "Let us swear to bury ourselves under the ruins of our common country, sooner than desert the Republic we have proclaimed! " The deputies all rose and swore most fervently, that sooner than desert it they would die. The Assembly then adopted a proclamation prepared by Mazzini, declaring that the Roman Republic - the asylum and bulwark of Italian liberty - would neither yield nor enter into any compromise. "The representatives and triumvirs pledge their oath to that effect, in the name of God and the people. The country shall be saved!" The time was approaching when their courage and constancy were to be put to the test.

Throughout the whole history of the Papacy, France and Austria had contended, with varying and alternating success, to control the Pope, and render his spiritual power available for their political purposes. The crosier, indeed, was an immense weight to be thrown into the scale on either side. The spirit of the French nation makes itself felt in the Government, no matter what be its form; and whoever might be her rulers, they could not long retain their popularity or their position, if they allowed Austria or any other power to gain an advantage over their own " grand nation." Austria, roused by Spain, and impelled by her own interest and ambition, was taking decided steps for the restoration of Pius IX., and for the re-establishment of the old régime in the Papal States. This event following her victories over Piedmont and her own revolted provinces, would give her a decidedly preponderating influence in Italy, from which the influence of France, whom Napoleon the Great had made mistress of the Peninsula, would be excluded. This was a state of things not to be endured by the French Republic, and its Government determined to interpose and overreach Austria, for the purpose of re-establishing French ascendance at Rome, even though based upon the ruins of a sister Republic. The French republicans, it is well known, cared very little for the Pope, but they were ready to make use of him to gratify their own national ambition. Their attack on the Roman Republic would therefore be fittingly described by the language which Pius IX. applied to that Republic itself, as "hypocritical felony."

It was agreed between the Catholic powers that the Papal territory should be invaded at the same time by Neapolitan, Austrian, and French troops. France was determined to have the chief part, and, if possible, all the glory of the enterprise. Odillon Barrot, President of the Council, explained the objects of the French expedition, on the 16th of April. He was the leader of the movement that issued in the dethronement of Louis Philippe, and the establishment of a French Republic. The Roman Republic was an exact pattern of the French, and yet the Government of the French Republic resolved to put it down. The pretences for this intervention were shamefully hypocritical. It would have been consistent and noble in France to have intervened for the protection of the emancipated Romans against the attacks of the Austrians and Neapolitans; but to pretend to help the Romans by laying siege to their city, battering down their walls and palaces, and restoring their despotic sovereign, evinced a degree of audacity equalled only by the unprincipled character of the proceeding. Barrot alleged that the protection of their countrymen, the necessity of maintaining their legitimate influence in Italy, " and the desire of contributing to obtain for the Roman population a good Government founded on liberal institutions," imposed upon the Government the duty of intervention. This, he said, should be accompanied by efficacious guarantees for the cause of real liberty. The minister demanded extraordinary credit for the expenses of the expedition. It was promptly voted without any opposition, save some murmurs from the Left. An expedition was immediately organised, and an army, 6,000 strong, was embarked at Marseilles, with astounding celerity, on the 22nd of April, 1849, under the command of General Oudinot. In an order of the day he told his troops that the Government, resolved to maintain in all parts the ancient and legitimate influence of France, was unwilling to leave the destinies of the people of Italy at the mercy of a foreign power, or of a party forming only a minority. It confided to them the flag of France, in order that it might be planted on the Roman territory as a marked testimony of their sympathy. The Romans, however, failed to appreciate this mark of sympathy. As soon as the news of the expedition reached Rome, the Constituent Assembly declared itself permanent, and decreed that any deputy who abandoned his post should be regarded as a traitor to his country. On the arrival of the expedition at Civita Vecchia, on the 25th of April, the triumvirs sent a protest to the general in these words: - "The Roman Assembly protests, in the name of God and the people, against this unexpected invasion, declares its firm purpose of resisting, and holds France responsible for the consequences." To the Roman people they said, "A foreign intervention threatens the territory of the Republic: whatever its intention, the salvation of the principle which has been freely accepted by the people, the law of nations, the honour of the Roman name, command the Republic to resist, and the Republic will resist. The people must prove to France and to the world that it is a people not of children but of men, and men who have dictated laws and given civilisation to Europe. No one shall say that the Romans desired freedom, and knew not how to obtain it."

Notwithstanding these protests and remonstrances, the French commenced their march on the 27th of April, apparently expecting to be joyfully received by the population. When they landed at Civita Vecchia, they were met on the people with cries of " Vivas" for Italy and the Republic, in which they were joined by the troops. Oudinot issued a deceptive proclamation. He received a deputation from the Assembly with professions of friendship, begging that the French might be received at Rome as brothers. But the Romans had no confidence in their professed protectors. On the contrary, they set about making all possible preparations for the defence of the city. Loopholes were made in the walls, ramparts were raised in various places, barricades were erected in the streets. In each district a captain of the people was appointed to organise the fighting citizens. The women were busily engaged in preparing bandages for the wounded. The greatest enthusiasm and the most perfect union prevailed among the population. There were within the walls altogether about 10,000 soldiers, with about 500 cavalry. Garibaldi occupied a position outside with about 3,000 men. At the same time, the 5th Article of the French Constitution, printed in large letters, was placarded in every direction: - "France respects foreign nationality, as she wishes her own to be respected. She undertakes no war with a view to conquest, and never employs force against the liberty of any people." While matters were in this state at Rome, the French advanced, and were under the walls on the 29th of April. They were without a map of the city or a scaling ladder, which showed that they expected to be freely admitted through the gates, if not received with acclamation. In consequence of the hints he had got, however, Oudinot sent forward a reconnoitring party, which was saluted with a fire of artillery, certainly not meant as a feu de joie. The French general then ordered an attack upon two gates, the Portese and San Pancrazio, both, on the right bank of the Tiber. The Romans repelled them at both points with a discharge of grape shot, and they were compelled to retire with heavy loss; General Garibaldi, with his Lombard legion, having surrounded a retreating column, and made 200 prisoners. The total number of prisoners made by the Romans was eleven officers and 560 men. The number of French killed was four officers and 180 men; wounded, eleven officers and 400 men; while the total loss of the Romans was only 320 men. After this mortifying repulse, Oudinot retired to Palo, near Civita Vecchia, to await reinforcements, in order to enable him to vindicate the honour of the French arms, which could now be done only by the capture of Rome; and the French Government were probably not sorry to have this pretext for their unwarrantable course of aggression. In the meantime reinforcements were rapidly sent from Toulon. While these preparations were being made, the French Government sent a diplomatic agent, in order, if possible, to effect an adjustment at Rome. Very strong expressions of dissatisfaction broke forth in the Assembly at Paris. It was said that the troops had gone to protect Italy from Austrian fury, not to bombard Rome, and that it was understood they were to remain at Oivita Vecchia to watch events and prevent the violence of counter-revolution. The French envoy, however, was instructed to explain matters so as to satisfy the triumvirs; and while negotiations were pending, an armistice was agreed upon. During this period a Neapolitan army, 16,000 strong, commanded by the king in person, had entered the States of the Church. Garibaldi, disregarding the orders of Roselli, went forth to meet the invaders, fell upon them with the suddenness of a thunderbolt, won a splendid victory over them, and compelled them to retreat.

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Pictures for Italy page 4

Piedmontese troops
Piedmontese troops >>>>
Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi >>>>
The Royal palace Milan
The Royal palace Milan >>>>

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