Page images
PDF
EPUB

the privacy of their holiest devotions. No social rank was so elevated as to be exempt from the ceaseless espionage of the Inquisition. No domestic hearth was so sacred as to escape its remorseless scrutiny. Its racks were constantly occupied with the victims of its torture, and its deep dungeons, more gloomy and terrific than have ever been built for other purposes, were crowded with those whom neither rank nor age nor sex could protect, and whose unrecorded sufferings were witnessed only by the dreary walls within which they were immured.

Thus perished the Reformation in Italy, and in its ruins was extinguished every spark of the Protestant religion among the people. What the tortures of the Inquisition could not effect on account of the number of victims who were to be sacrificed, was finally accomplished by the flames of the stake and by the ravages of the sword. The Waldenses from Piedmont who had planted their quiet colonies in Calabria, were driven to the forests and mountains by a relentless persecution, where, “ hunted like beasts of prey, some fell by the sword and others, less happy, perished by famine in the desolate caverns which had afforded them a temporary asylum. The greater portion being thus cut off

, the few who had fallen alive into the hands of their enemies were reserved for every species of torture, perishing by the knife, or precipitated froin the summits of lofty towers, or stifled by the foul air of damp and crowded dungeons.”

In a subsequent article on the “Hopes of Italy," written early in 1848, Mr. Greene eloquently and earnestly sets forth the indications of social progress which presented themselves to his own eye while residing in the country and in daily commerce with its people. The hopes he here expresses, he educes from the changes which have been made in the divisions of the territory, and which have increased its capacities for union and defense ; from the multiplied facilities for communication between the several States, which are awakening in all a deeper feeling of common wants and common interests; from the popular character of Italian literature and the relations which the men of letters 'sustain to the people; from the gradual rise of a middle class which is uniting the two opposite extremes of society; and especially from the progress which the Italians have made in the formation of moral and social character, and in the attainment of those civic virtues without which the hopes of freedom are always illusory and the labors and sacrifices of the patriot are inevitably futile. Each of these sources of hope he considers in detail, and throws over them all the light which he has borrowed from the earlier history of Italy, and the warm glow of enthusiasm which he has caught from daily intercourse with her scholars and men of genius.

The views which he thus develops were written and published just on the eve of the great events which have marked the past two years of Italian history: By the astonishing changes and reverses which have taken place within this period they have been subjected to the severe test of experience; and in a supplemental article upon the same subject

, now published for the first time, Mr. Greene reviews the progress of Italian affairs, and furnishes an estimate of the changes which have been made and the permanent results which have been secured. In his manner of doing this, we discern traces of a minute knowledge and a careful discrimination such as could belong only to one long resident amid the scenes which he describes and familiar with the chief agents in the transactions which he recounts. It is evident that, to his mind, the hopes of Italy have not perished with the defeat of Charles Albert, the flight of Pope Pius IX., or even with the fall of the Triumvirate. The sources from which he originally derived them still exist in the aspirations of the popular mind and in the moral and social condition of the people, and the influences are still at work which are to shape their hopes and embody them in yet another movement for Italian freedom. The period in question is divided into three distinct parts, each of which is reviewed in detail in the article before us. “The first is the period of reform by government. The second, of the war of independence. The third, of reform by the governed.”

Our author confines his review almost entirely to the political events of the period ; but for ourselves, we cannot but believe, that there are hindrances to the progress of the Italian people, existing in the very constitution of the Papacy, if not in the organization of the Catholic Church itself, which no political combinations, however propitious, can possibly remove. Our hopes for Italy therefore can never be sanguine, so long as a Pope shall continue to occupy the throne, and to rule the ancient capital of the Cæsars. The Papal power must of itself assuredly blight whatever freedom may spring up beneath its dismal shadow. That dread union of imperial and spiritual rule which the Papacy has always maintained, we believe to be wholly incompatible with the habits both of thought and of action that are essential to the character of a free and advancing people. We have lost our

[ocr errors]

faith in the liberality of Popes and the justice of Cardinals. We dread their influence alike in the counsels of cabinets and upon the minds of the people ; for wherever we see it exerted, there we are sure to witness intrigue, mischief and wrong, as the unfailing results. We speak no language of bigotry, but only utter what the voice of all history confirms, when we pronounce the Papacy to be utterly incompatible with the rights and the progress of humanity; and to whatever part of the earth its power is extended, whether it be in the classic realms of Italy, among the beautiful vales of France, on the green islands of the Pacific, or over the prairies and sierras of our own continent, we feel that a blight has descended upon the hopes and interests of mankind, that a barrier of giant dimensions and most formidable strength has been raised in the pathway of human improvement and of true Christian civilization. It will be only when the dynasty of the Pontiffs in Italy has passed away, and, with that of the Stuarts in England and the Bourbons in France, has lost its prestige and power for ever, that the Italian people can spring forward upon a progressive career of civil and religious freedom. Mr. Greene, it may be, will hardly agree with us in this estimate of the influence of the Papal government, and we feel on this account the more bound to give his views concerning the results of the recent movements in Italy in his own words:

First of all, a definite line has been drawn between progress and reaction, with the people on one side, and despotism on the other. All the hopes of civilization are to be found with the one, with the other all that it dreads. The question of the future has been simplified, reducing the claims of power to a single standard of legitimacy—the fulfilment of all the conditions of a progressive civilization. Peasants have sat in the halls of princes, and the prestige of royalty is gone. Every capital in Europe has been in the hands of the people, and during their dominion scarcely an excess was committed. Every capital has fallen again into the hands of the sovereign, and prison and exile and the gibbet have marked their return. Whenever a new convulsion comes, and come it must, there will be but one question—the will of the many,—and but one test—their good.

And next, we have seen that, at the beginning of the war of independence, there were two prominent parties in Italy, and one in the shade. The King of Piedmont was the first to test his strength and failed, whether from incompetence or from treachery posterity will decide. A failure equally signal, though from a less dubious cause, showed how little rehance could be placed in the Pope as the leader of a great national enterprise. Last came the-republicans, with no reliance but their enthusiasm and their faith. Under a republican government Rome resisted for four weeks every effort of a well-appointed army and a skilful general, and never had the administration been conducted more calmly, with greater order, or so equal a distribution of justice. If such calmness and energy

and equal justice could be displayed by unexperienced republicans in such a moment of trial, what might not be hoped from them when greater experience should have perfected their science, and better days have given them time to test and develop their designs ? Let who will tax republicanism with incompetence, history is there with her stern realities to show that of all the governments which attempted to lead the great movement of Italian regeneration, the republican was the only one that proved itself equal to the task. Despotism appealed to interest, republicanism to conscience. The one to present enjoyment, the other to future good The former addressed itself to that cold spirit of calculation, which weighs all the chances of personal hazard, the other to that expansive love of humanity, which looks hopefully to the happiness of the son as an ample compensation for the sacrifices of the father.

And finally, the question of religious freedom has become indissolubly connected with that of Italian independence.

When the war of independence broke out the Court of Rome might have taken the lead and kept it, and that purely by the force of its moral power. But from the day in which Pius IX. signed his appeal to the Catholic sovereigns of Europe, he renounced the position which he had held as the leader of Italian reform, and made himself the dependent of the absolute principles of his protectors. After a declaration so precise, it is mockery to talk of paternal love, or a conscientious abhorrence of war. Every drop of blood that was shed before the walls of Rome, has risen up in testimony against him. Foreign bayonets may force him again upon his unwilling people, and an appeal to old associations, and base flattery of the baser feelings of our nature, may keep him there for a time; but nothing can ever restore to the Vatican that force of opinion which it has wielded so fatally and so long.

Therefore, the events of the last two years have shown that every liberal movement of an Italian prince will necessarily lead to a war of independence. They have shown that the means for conducting this war are greater than they ever were before, and the spirit of the people better prepared to meet the sacrifices which it will inevitably impose.

They have shown that there is no single banner which the people can follow; that the personal ambition of princes is a serious obstacle to the success of such a contest ; that to win it with their guidance, they must pay the full price of victory, and submit to all the penalties of defeat.

They have shown that it is not in palaces that they are to look for the genius and the energy which so arduous a task requires.

They have shown that the concessions of the sovereign are no sure basis of reform; that what terror or caprice or even a sense of justice may wrest from him to-day, may be given back to him to-morrow by the bayonet.

They have shown that in the day of trial the real strength of a country is to be found in the energetic will of the people, combined and directed by the men of their own choice.

They have shown that the strength of absolute power is founded on money or on credit and on the hirelings that these can command.

They have shown that for the leaders of great movements there is no compromise between victory and defeat. (Pp. 459-462.)

[graphic]

Passing by the other articles, we pause for a moment upon that which delineates the character and relates the adventures of Charles Edward, the Young Pretender. It is the longest and most elaborate in the volume, and contains a narrative of

unequalled interest of the Scottish insurrection in 1745, by means of which this last and most heroic Prince of the Stuart race sought to regain the lost throne of his fathers. This insurrection forms an episode in English history of rare and romantic interest, and has furnished a stirring theme to many an eminent writer. It has been fully described by John Home, and by Sir Walter Scott, in his Tales of a Grandfather; and some of its incidents have been wrought into the fascinating narrative of Waverley. It has also employed the historic pen of Smollett, Chambers, and Lord Mahon; and has been minutely illustrated in several Lives of the Pretenders, and in numerous Memoirs of the Jacobites. But in none of these, we believe, however superior they may be in historic fullness, has it been so graphically and thrillingly portrayed as in the article before us.

The Stuart family had long been residing in the Papal States, when, early in the year 1744, Charles Edward, the grandson of James II., and the elder son of the Chevalier St. George, was secretly summoned to Paris by Louis XV., who was then meditating a descent upon England, and was desirous of making use of the partisan hostility of the disaffected Jacobites who were scattered over the kingdom. On his arrival at the French capital, he was hurried to Dunkirk, where a large fleet, with a military force under the command of Marshal Saxe, was in readiness for the enterprise. The young Prince, having been furnished with papers from his father commending him to bis adherents, embarked with the Marshal, and the expedition proceeded to sea. But the evil fortune which had long hung over his race was again to frustrate his plans and to delay his hopes. The fleet, closely watched by that of England, was driven from its course, and, just on the eve of an engagement, was scattered and disabled by a storm. The Prince, disappointed though not disheartened at the failure of the expedition, still lingered in France, and early in the following year, wearied with waiting, formed and matured the design of proceeding to Scotland without the aid of the French King, and by rallying the Jacobites of the North, and especially the Highland clans, of making one desperate effort to secure the throne of England. Having provided himself with two ships, he embarked in July, 1745, with eight followers, with slender equipments and still more slender finances; and after losing one of his vessels in an engagement with an English frigate, he landed at Moidart, one of the most desolate islands along the Scottish coast. Here he is visited by the chiefs of the neighboring clans, who openly

« PreviousContinue »