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The triumvirs, in their reply to Lesseps, the French envoy, tore away every shred of the mask worn by the French Government. They had professed to come as friends to enable the Romans to act freely in the choice of a form of government, and to keep off the Austrians; but their presence was neither solicited nor desired, they said they wished for time to appeal to France well informed, from France badly informed, in order that the Republic might be saved from the stain and remorse which it must suffer if carried along by bad foreign advice. It became, almost at the moment of its own creation, the accomplice of a crime for which no parallel could be found but the partition of Poland in 1772. Since the French invasion, the Roman territory had been violated by the King of Naples, 4,000 Spaniards had been embarked to invade the coast, and the Austrians, after overcoming the heroic resistance of Bologna, were marching on Ancona. The Romans had beaten the Neapolitans, and would beat the Austrians also, if not hindered by the French. If France was friendly, why not recognise the Republic, and fight in its defence against the Austrians? If she were hostile, she would war against the public liberty and national life of a friendly people, fighting on the side of the Austrians. What the Romans implored the French to do then, was to remain neutral at Civita Vecchia.

All negotiations having failed, the French general commenced a regular siege. He first advanced to the Ponte Molle, which was occupied without resistance on the 2nd of June. Troops were then moved to the Monte Mario, from which regular approaches were commenced. The Villa Pamfili Doria, the scene of a terrible conflict, was taken and re-taken several times, and at length destroyed by fire. On the 12th of June, when everything was ready for an assault, Oudinot addressed the President of the Roman Assembly, inclosing a proclamation which he required him to publish: - "Inhabitants of Rome! - We come, not to bring you war; we come to consolidate order and liberty among you. The intentions of our Government have been misunderstood. The siege works have brought us before your ramparts. Until the present moment, we have replied but at rare intervals to the fire of your batteries. We are arming at the last moment. When the necessities of war produce dreadful calamities, spare them to a city filled with so many glorious monuments. If you persist in repelling us, to you alone will belong the responsibility of irreparable disasters." The answer of the Assembly was a sharp retort. " General, tue never betray our engagements. In the execution of the orders of the Assembly, and of the Roman people, we have undertaken the engagement of defending the standard of the Republic, the honour of the country, and the sanctity of the capital of the Christian world. We will do it." The filing had commenced the day before. In the night the Romans repaired the breaches that had been effected by the cannon of the enemy. They kept up a continual fire of musketry, which could not be stopped by several discharges of grape. General Oudinot, in his despatch to his Government, bore testimony to the ability and resolution with which the city was defended. "The enemy," he wrote, "took advantage of the slightest shelter to fire through the embrasures, with perseverance and resolution." There were 77 shots of 24lbs, weight, and 70 of 16lbs., fired from the battery. The mortar battery fired, on an average, four bombs per hour; during the night, in the bastions, six and seven; but this fire was not sufficient to prevent the works from being repaired. The numerous other batteries worked on the same scale. The bombardment continued till the 21st of June. The assault was led on from the hill called in classical days the Janiculum, a large space of ground covered with vineyards and gardens. Proceeding in this direction, the French had made their way to an important position commanding the San Pancrazio gate. The way in which this was accomplished was described by the Triumvirate in a proclamation which they issued next day: - "After a vigorous cannonade of thirty hours, silence was restored. No one imagined that France would, like a thief in the night, steal into our city; but it did so, and succeeded to a certain point. From the Porta Portese to the Porta San Pancrazio, the soldiers stole up in twos and threes, all protected by the darkness and silence of night, and entering by holes made in the walls, got possession of a bastion badly guarded by our troops. The first break of day showed them to us endeavouring to fortify themselves where they were, and to turn our own defences against us. At the first alarm, in rushed the people. Without consideration for the number of the enemy, without any regard for themselves, they rushed to the point of danger. The bell of the Capitol tolled loud and heavily. The city rose up in one mass, and every one flew to his appointed post. Romans! in the darkness of the night, by means of treason, the enemy has set foot on the breach. Arise, Rome! arise, ye people, in your might! Destroy him; fill the breach with his carcass.

Blast the enemy, accursed of God, who dares to touch the sacred walls of Rome. While Oudinot resorts to this infamous act, France rises up and recalls its troops from this work of invasion. One more effort, Romans, and the country is secured for ever. Rome, by its constancy, regenerates all Europe. In the name of your fathers, in the name of your future hopes, arise and give battle. Arise, and conquer! One prayer to the God of the strong; one thought to your faithful brethren; one hand to your gun. Every man becomes a hero. This day decides the fate of the Republic."

This document was signed by the Triumvirs. The citizens responded to the appeal, and did all that was possible. At length, after a protracted and terrible cannonade, a practicable breach was made, and two columns of attack rushed forward at the same moment. The Romans fought with such desperation that 400 of them were bayoneted on the spot, and 230 prisoners were taken. Then the enemy were able to turn the Roman batteries against themselves. Next day the city would have been stormed, and dreadful slaughter would have been the consequence. A council of war was held. Garibaldi was sent for. He entered, covered with blood and perspiration, declaring that defence was no longer possible. They could at best hold out but a few days, and it was vain to defend the streets when the French were masters of the heights. It was therefore determined to surrender. Mazzini concurred in the necessity, but he would not sign the capitulation. General Roselli, however, sent a despatch to Oudinot, enclosing the following decree, which had been published in the city: - "The Assembly ceases a defence which has become impossible, and remains at its post. It charges the Triumvirate with the execution of the present decree." This was quickly followed by a request to the French general for the suspension of hostilities. The troops ceased firing. The Triumvirs resigned. At midnight, before the white flag was hoisted on the Castle of St. Angelo, they left the city with the other members of the Government, and Garibaldi at the head of 5,000 men, chiefly the Lombard legion. At noon that day, Oudinot entered the city at the head of his troops, and heard mass in the Church of St. Louis, the patron saint of France. The French colours were hoisted on the Castle of St. Angelo, where they remained a week, and were then replaced by those of the Pope. The keys of the city were sent to His Holiness at Gata, the National Assembly was dissolved, and everything republican was swept away as cleanly as if the Austrians, and not the French, had been the conquerors. Oudinot issued a proclamation in which he denounced the late Government for its "impious appeal to arms against a nation friendly to the Roman population."

The Pope rewarded the Government that had taken the place of the French monarchy, by assuring them that their army had overcome the enemies of human society. The French at Rome, who had established martial law, saw restored under their eyes all the worst abuses of the old system. Three cardinals, called " The Red Triumvirs," were sent by the Pope to conduct the civil affairs of his states, which he would not venture yet to enter himself. The new Government robbed the people to the amount of thirty-five per cent, of all the money they possessed which happened to bear the stamp of the Republic. Shortly after the Pope issued a decree, motu proprio, containing a programme of " liberal institutions," so far as they were compatible with an absolute authority, enjoyed in virtue of Divine right. The people were up for a brief period; they were now down, and would be kept down, if possible. They had presumed to think that they were the source of political power; that they could give their representatives the right of making laws and dethroning kings; but they must now learn that their business is to obey, and submit to anything which their superiors might think proper, of their own will and pleasure, to ordain. This is the lesson which the French Republic assisted the Pope to teach the Roman people. It would have been much better for their credit if they had left that task to Austria. The subject was referred to in the French Chamber, in August, when one of the most enlightened statesmen that ever France produced, M. de Tocqueville, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, made the best excuse he could for the false position France had taken in Italy, remarking that the object was " to maintain for France her just influence, to restore the Pope to his former place, to prevent the effects of a violent reaction, and to ensure the just reforms requisite for the Roman people." The first object had certainly been attained. "The French army," he said, " are now masters of Rome, and beyond any doubt occupy a most lofty position in the eyes of the world." So the French fondly imagined. M. de Tocqueville proceeded to revile the Roman Government which France had just destroyed, and pretended to believe that the " French Government, in rescuing the people of Rome from the bondage to which they had been subjected, had done a good work for humanity." The bondage to which he referred was that imposed by the Constituent Assembly, which had been freely chosen by universal suffrage, and for which every Roman was ready to lay down his life. On the other hand, he said he had "the greatest possible admiration for that most excellent institution of morality, the Catholic Church," whose abuses, however, he was not willing to restore. A committee had been appointed to inquire into the expediency of granting the demand for credits made by the Government to defray the expenses of the Roman expedition; and in that report, another great statesman, M. Thiers, defended the same policy, with more rhetorical ingenuity than political consistency. The following passage is worth transcribing, as a condensed statement of the long unsettled Roman question: - " Amid the wreck was there nothing to save or recover? Could not the balance of power in Italy be still sustained? Austria was about to pursue the consequences of her victory at Novara, and march upon Modena, Bologna, and Rome: the Catholic sovereigns had assembled at Gaeta, in order to re-establish an authority which is necessary to the Christian world; for there is nothing but sovereignty itself which can make the Pontificate Independent: and without that independence, Catholic unity, which demands a certain religious submission on the part of Christian nations, would prove unacceptable, and would be dissolved; Catholicism would perish in the midst of its different sects; and the moral world, already so strongly shaken, would inevitably be destroyed. Could France consent to Austria's pushing her invasion into Rome itself, and obtaining dominion, both morally and materially, over the whole of Italy? If not, war, or the occupation of Rome, were the only alternatives."

Louis Napoleon, then President of the Republic, complained of the reactionary spirit in which this report was framed, and was supported in his view by Odillon Barrot and Dufaure. This led to the resignation of Thiers, which was soon after followed by the breaking up of the Barrot Ministry. The President seemed very glad to get rid of it. In an address to the Assembly he complained of the contrariety of opinion, leading to the neutralisation of forces that prevailed in the late Cabinet, and causing vacillation in the national policy. He said, " A whole system triumphed on the 10th of December; for the name of Napoleon is a complete programme in itself. It means at home, order, authority, religion, and the welfare of the people; abroad, national dignity. It is this policy, inaugurated by my election, that I wish to make triumph, with the support of the Assembly and that of the people." The views of the President with regard to the Roman question were expressed in a non- official letter to M. Edgar Ney, which furnished the key-note to the several subsequent performances of his on the Roman question. An interrogatory was addressed to the French Government by a member of the Assembly at that time, which might have been repeated as forcibly years afterwards, and receive just the same answer: - " How much longer must the expedition remain at Rome? " The report answered the question in these words: "It is impossible to state the moment when the Pope will be able to dispense with our army in a country which has been the scene of such recent commotions."

A few words on the fate of Garibaldi and his legion will complete this memorable chapter of Italian history. The General departed from Rome on the night of the 1st of July, taking the road to Naples; but that way was stopped by Marshal Nunzianti, with a force too large to be encountered, while he was threatened with another which was moving against him through the Abruzzi. He then took a cross road through the country towards Terni. A fortnight was thus spent in traversing the country, and as they were destitute of provisions and money, they were obliged to help themselves as well as they could; and the feeding of so large a body of men was no light matter. It is easy, therefore, to imagine that their approach was a terror to the country people wherever they went. It is stated that they fled before them, and concealed their effects. Several Austrian columns were now in hot pursuit of the republican General, and as the escape of his little army seemed impossible, and its privations were terrible, it was rapidly thinned by desertions. Entering Tuscany, and keeping to the mountains of the east coast, they arrived at St. Leo, near San Marino, where they encountered the brigade of the Archduke Ernest, and 900 out of the remaining 1,000 surrendered on the 31st of July. Garibaldi, with a hundred faithful adherents, escaped, and put to sea in some fishing- boats, most of which were captured by Austrian cruisers, Garibaldi alone escaping. Most of the legion returned to their homes; some, forming themselves into small bands, under desperate leaders, took to the mountains, and supported themselves by brigandage on the Papal and Neapolitan frontiers. Garibaldi was hunted from place to place, accompanied by his faithful wife, who at last sank from sheer exhaustion, arising from fatigue and want of food. There are few more touching pictures in history than that of Garibaldi digging a grave for his heroic wife, and burying her with his own hands in a wood, under a large tree. Ultimately the Italian General settled on Statten Island; he went from there to Valparaiso, and returned again to the United States, where the command of a division of the army was offered to him, and declined.

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Pictures for Italy page 5

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

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