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Emperor Alexander ? It was consequently in this very revolution that Naples should have sought its salvation : it was only by rousing the whole Peninsula, that Southern Italy could ensure the establishment of its own liberties. The remembrance of the unfortunate enterprise of Joachim Murat, should not have prevented another attempt ; times were altered. Although Italy did not attend to the call of a foreigner, remarkable for the imbecility of his political character, it might have risen at the summons of the Neapolitan people become free, and inviting their brethren to liberty.
There is still another fault alleged by some against the Neapolitans. I refer to their choice of the Spanish constitution. It is not our business here to discuss its advantages or defects, still less to blame the Spaniards who proclaimed it in 1820: they were bound to rally round it, as a precious model consecrated by the approval of a national assembly, whose noble courage did not suffer them to despair of their country in the hour of calamity. But the Neapolitans possessed also a model, which perhaps they were wrong in neglecting, I mean the Sicilian constitution. This constitution, but little known in Europe, is no other than the written English constitution, but the English constitution without that inequality in the right of election, and without those remains of feudality, which impair its symmetry. It was more popular than the French charter; either because the exclusive proposal or introduction of laws did not form part of the Royal prerogative, or on account of its elective regulations, and the broad basis on which the municipalities were organised. It would have been easy to divest it of certain defects of form and detail, not well adapted to its general tenor. By adopting it, Naples would in the first place have had the advantage of avoiding its sanguinary contests with Sicily, which shocked Europe, and afflicted Italy. Naples might besides have reasonably reckoned on the support of England and France by ranging herself under the same constitutional system. This last advantage appears so important, more especially in the situation of the Neapolitans, that it is surprising they should have renounced it so lightly. This is difficult to account for, unless we ascribe it to a kind of terror in the aristocracy-a terror which spread itself through Italy by means of the writings and discourses of the liberal party of France. ' But was not this a false alarm ? The French had, and they have still to dread, a menacing aristocracy, which was invested with great power under the ancient monarchy, which but ill dissembles its lofty pretensions, which has heavy misfortunes to recount, and odious reprisals (réactions) to charge themselves with ; an aristocracy, in short, which in its turn assumes the shape of a party, and is formidable from the
distinguished talents of many of the individuals composing it. Nothing of this kind existed in Italy, where the nobility possesses no influence, but such as arises from the favors it obtains from arbitrary power, or from the attachment of a portion of its body to liberal ideas and to the interests of the people. The nobles of the first-mentioned class would have fallen with the absolute monarchy, which constitutes their only force; and it is not from the latter description that Italians had any thing to fear.
If the Liberals of Piedmont did not all view with pleasure the constitutional system adopted by the Neapolitans, the greater part of them were persuaded that their revolution would become one of those great occasions offered by Providence to oppressed nations, of re-appearing with honor on the arena of politics. Others thought that Italy was not yet prepared for a war of independence. Information, said they, has as yet only reached to certain classes of society; the young, however devoted to their country, can as yet but offer the aid of their physical strength; hereafter, when filling the principal employments in the community, and possessed of property, they will find themselves naturally and effectively at the head of a revolution. That might be all very true ; but the first step was taken. The Neapolitans had claimed their rights--they were our brothers; we could not abandon them, without at once failing in our duty and injuring the national honor. There began, however, to detach itself from the great majority of Piedmontese of whom I have spoken above, and who glowed with desire for a war of Italian independence, a set of people who, placing no reliance in the Neapolitans, and judging of the future from the past, were persuaded that their armies would not be able to oppose the slightest resistance. We were more confident ; indeed it was not in our nature to foresee the events that have happened.
The differences of opinion among the Piedmontese Liberals on the constitution best suited to their country, did not prevent a sinçere union in the endeavours they used to enlighten the King's Government with respect to its situation. An address of the Piedmontese people to the King, and a short pamphlet intitled Duties of the Piedmontese,' were rapidly circulated at Turin; I regret that I cannot give them publicity. It would be seen with what affection they speak of the King and his family ; with what truth the internal disorders of the country are therein pourtrayed, and with what indignation the idea of seeing the house of Savoy promote the designs of Austria on Italy is treated. These pamphlets were printed in Naples and in Spain, and showed at once the moderation and energy that were employed amongst us in the expression of public opinion. It was observable that the wish for a free constitution was strongly marked, but that its principles
duced on him by the bold step of the chief president. Every man of sense in Piedmont, from that moment, made up his mind, that the great work in which the whole nation took so deep an interest, would either not be accomplished for a long time, or would be effected in an imperfect manner by an awkward alliance between the old and the new system : such an alliance would have occasioned great expense to the state without any advantage, and would have been but another step towards confusion.
Thus did Piedmont, subjected to an arbitrary government, lose all hope of averting painful consequences by the counterpoise of a legislature solemnly promulgated, and a magistracy of elevated character and strong in the reverence of the people. At the same time an approaching crisis in our finances seemed at hand: a crisis truly alarming for an absolute monarchy, since one or other of these results must happen: Either the government is strong--and it will grind its subjects by enormous contributions that trench on even capital, and otherwise prove destructive of property; or it is weak, and the state falls into dissolution; when the people, naturally driven to an open expression of their fears, eventually become an instrument of anarchy in the hands of the factious.
The more the situation of the country was considered by the enlightened Piedmontese, the more they were convinced of the necessity of a responsible ministry, and of a parliament that should place the government on a regular system, prevent a deficit in the finances, frame wholesome laws, and guaranty their execution. This truth, moreover, was generally admitted, so as to become the popular feeling. A minority, consisting of a portion of the nobility and of ex-magistrates, still resisted it. This minority was weak in numbers, yet more so in talent! The prejudices of the King, and still more of the Queen, constituted its chief strength : but unfortunately it was supported by some public men attached to that fatally timid and superficial policy which will be noticed hereafter. They, however, were themselves convinced that under the present system no good could be effected. What a way of showing love for their country!
If ever the measure of introducing a representative government into a country can be deemed legitimate and necessary, it was without doubt in Piedmont, and at the period of which I speak. It was legitimate because Piedmont was ruled by an absolute government under which subjects were abandoned to the arbitrary will of a master, which constitutes in the eyes of all politicians an illegal government. It was necessary because the government, arbitrary by privilege, was likewise so in act, from the instability of the laws, and the abusive facility with which they could be broken ;
it was necessary because this arbitrary government was ruining the state by the defects of its administration. Unfortunately the want of any institution, even of an imperfect one, which might have furnished the means of enlightening the government by peaceable measures, made it every day more to be feared that the Parliamentary system could only be established in Piedmont, through the aid of a revolution ; and however legitimate such a revolution might be, many persons who were impatient under their arbitrary yoke, yet shrunk from the thought of lacerating the heart of their prince, and agitated themselves between the chagrin of not being able to undeceive him, and their reluctance to constrain him by revolutionary movements. They might have remained long in this harassing and painful suspense, if the most imminent political considerations had not decided the question at once, and plainly laid down the line of conduct which they ought to pursue, in order to acquit themselves at the same time, of their duties towards the throne, and towards their country. The manner in which the allied powers had disposed of Italy at the congress of Vienna, far from augmenting the real strength of the house of Savoy, had deprived it of all preponderance in the affairs of Italy, and consequently of its place in the system of Europe. Before the French revolution, the King of Sardinia was the principal power in the Peninsula, both by the position and the population of his dominions. The house of Austria possessed in it only the duchies of Milan and Mantua, almost separated by two rich Venetian provinces, Brescia and Bergamo. Since the congress of Vienna which sanctioned the annihilation of the republic of Venice, one of the most perfidious acts of Buonaparte's policy, the empire of Austria has most alarmingly extended itself in Italy, by the possession of Lombardy, that rich and populous district, siezing its hereditary property on every point of its long northern frontier. Add to this, Parma and Placentia, placed under the authority of an Austrian general, the gaoler of an unfortunate princess, Modena and Tuscany given up to Austrian princes, and Ferrara guarded by an Austrian garrison, which leaves the states of the church at the mercy of the Emperor ; surely for any one, after considering this, to say that the king of Sardinia is enabled by the mere acquisition of Genoa to counterbalance the power of Austria in Italy, would be to add insult to our other injuries. Genoa moreover does not augment the strength of the house of Savoy so much as some may imagine. The city requires a larger Piedmontese garrison than the number of inhabitants in the duchy can furnish; the conscription is forced to spare such of the population as are destined for the sea. The Genoese nobility, depressed, discontented, and, with very few exceptions, not soothed by ribbands, and
chamberlains' keys, will for a long time be a dangerous element in the state. The middling ranks, well-informed, and liberal in their ideas, cannot accommodate their spirits to an absolute government, any more than the mountaineers can forget the times when the lands paid scarcely any thing. Genoa can only become a source of prosperity to the monarchy, by a liberal constitution, the only possible tie between two people, held in habitual disunion by the remembrance of long and unfortunate feuds.
Every thinking person in Europe saw that, after the division by the congress at Vienna, the house of Savoy could no longer be considered with reference to what she had been, but what she must become, in endeavoring by force to oppose the will of Italy. Her very being could only be a transient one. Pressed between two great powers, the King of Sardinia saw himself compelled to choose whether he would become the vassal of Austria, or contend for the crown of Italy. The remembrance of the warlike deeds of so many of the Princes of Savoy, of the fortitude of Emmanuel Philibert in misfortune, the undaunted resolution of Victor Amadeus, and the firmness of Charles Emmanuel III., excited an expectation that this house would fulfil its destiny, on the first occasion that should occur. The Lombards were discontented with their subjugation to the Emperor of Austria, the measures he observed towards them were of so dubious a nature as showed that they would be changed or thrown aside, as soon as the motives which dictated them should cease; and even whilst they lasted, the deserted state of Venice, and the thousands who were in want of bread, the remnant of a brave army humbled and neglected, the commercial welfare of the country sacrificed for the interests of Austrian industry, all made the unhappiness of a foreign sway bitterly felt.
In Piedmont a grand revolution had already taken place in the public mind. Emmanuel Philibert in removing his seat of Government to Turin, and Charles Emmanuel II. by his conduct, had long shown that their house and kingdom were no longer French; but it was not till the reign of Victor Emmanuel that the Piedmontese became fully convinced of this truth. A race of young people who had imbibed the sentiments of Victor Alfieri, and a host of brave men, from the ranks of Napoleon's armies, concurred to give this impulse to opinion, and it was strengthened by that hatred of the Austrian name, which is instinctive both in the Piedmontese and Genoese, coeval with their existence, and which will end only with it. A hatred, which the Austrians themselves have taken care to nourish, every time they have appeared among us, by the insolence of their deportment, their extortions, and the hardships they impose upon the people.