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sions appointed, and project on project formed, without advancing a step. The King, by a sort of instinct, hereditary in his family, knew best the situation of his country: he wished for a strong army, in which he was perfectly right: but he might have had it without oppressing his people. Undoubtedly some serious reformation should have been adopted in regard to the Etats-Majors, as well as several of the more expensive corps : but these could not be touched without rousing a powerful band of courtiers, and affecting the most favored families; and Victor Emmanuel was not sufficiently enlightened to see through the veil, under which certain interested servants of the throne took care to conceal their personal views, nor firm enough to repel the solicitations of those whom he believed to be attached to him.
The King had done either too little or too much for his army. The Marquis de St. Marsan, Minister at War, had organised the infantry on a good system. This system was attacked, defended, deranged, modified, and yet continued to exist, but unsupported by institutions calculated to obviate its inconveniences, such as were eminently in the spirit of the Government of the House of Savoy, but diametrically opposed to our maxims of policy: for in this respect our policy resembles that of the rest of the world, who are apt to exclaim furiously against every popular idea. The system of conscription had been fully acted on by Bonaparte. It was severe, but just, and presented extensive resources. Much had been expended on the artillery, but without discretion. The supply of the most indispensable kind of stores was defective; whilst the accoutrements were. ill adapted to the wants of the individual and the situation of the country.
The hopes of the better informed among the army were besides nearly destroyed when the Marquis de St. Marsan was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whence the Count de Vallesa had retired amidst the applauses of the public, whose esteem for him was heightened by the noble intrepidity with which he retired from office. The new. War Minister, a man of good and upright intentions, either neglected or changed most of the useful arrangements of his predecessor, and followed directly opposite principles. The improvements and retrenchments which the Marquis de St. Marsan had begun or projected, not having been carried into effect, the consequence was, that Piedmont, though overloaded with military expenses, was without an army; for no real army exists but in that country where the troops can be instantly put on a war footing
An event occurred, which appeared to revive the hopes of the nation, the appointment of Count de Balbe to be Home Minister."
' in August or September, 1819.
A worthy man, well versed in political economy, acquainted with the spirit of the age, but not duly estimating the force of public opinion ; a man who, in fact, from his turn of mind, appeared to belong to the period which produced a Turgot, a Malesherbes, and a Grand Duke Leopold. His name might have been placed beside theirs, had he been born in a country more suited to his genius, or had he not been wanting in energy of character. Piedmont stood in need of a civil and criminal code of laws, of a system of public education, provincial administrations, charitable establishments, &c.; and the Count de Balbe could not accomplish any essential or solid amelioration, unless he had effected considerable changes in other departments of Government, for he could not obtain the necessary funds without re-modelling the whole administration of the State, and fixing it on a more simple basis. Stopped in the outset, he perceived not the necessity of either removing the obstacles to his measures, or retiring : he imagined that the reformation of some matters of routine might satisfy public opinion and lead to more important benefits; he thought to elude the greatest difficulties by managing with address the interests or prejudices which stood in his way. Strange infatuation, in a man of his sense! but which shows that faults must necessarily be committed, in the present state of society, even by those entrusted with the administration, unless they acquaint themselves with public opinion. And how were we to arrive at a knowledge of public opinion in Piedmont, where no institutions existed that could convey the sentiments of the people ? They spoke with much freedom, it is true ; but the public, ill informed in political affairs, in its censure confounded good with evil, launched forth the bitterest reproaches on the acts of Government, with so little discrimination, that such an opposition could carry no weight with the Ministers, or indeed acquire the smallest degree of consistency.
The Government considered that they had taken an important step for the public good by instituting a permanent council of conference, at which the King presided, and which consisted of his Ministers in actual employment. The Count de Roburent, master of the horse, and a friend of the King, generally attended. The Chevalier César de Saluces, one of the most distinguished men in the country, was secretary to the council. How they could expect by such means to impart unity to the movements of Government, I know not. To effect this, we should have had a Prince endowed with a knowlege of business, and of an energetic character, like Louis XIV., for instance, or Victor Amadeus II. Victor Emmanuel, in the council of his ministers, only found reasons for hesitating and fearing to do wrong. There was no Minister of
influence ; though each might to a certain degree be competent to the duties of his own department. Generally speaking, every measure of importance depended on the concurrent voices of three; that of the King, that of Count de Roburent, and that of the Minister with whom it originated : and it is easy to perceive that such concurrence must often be the result of fortuitous circumstances. It sometimes happened that the King, struck with the truth of a principle in Government which zeal or chance had brought to his knowlege, would firmly resist the Minister's proposition, if it militated against such principle: then, should the Minister have taken care to have the favorite on his side, a war would be waged for some days against what would be termed the obstinacy of the King; but it seldom happened that this good Prince was not finally obliged to yield-believing it to be for the good of the state, and that he was making a noble sacrifice of his own opinion to the knowlege of others.
There were yet other two main springs which actuated the machine of Government. Much has been said as to the influence of the Queen, which has indeed been exaggerated : but it is too true that this princess, (whose gracefulness of person, amiable disposition, and mental accomplishments, made her the delight of our court previous to the revolution) on her return to Piedmont, where she was enthusiastically received, suddenly took a prejudice against the nation. Ste fancied it had undergone a change. She had also adopted prejudices against our social improvements, which were ascribed to her long residence in Sardinia ; and these prejudices placed her in an awkward predicament. Though the Queen's influence was exerted rather in the selection of persons than with regard to the acts of Government, yet it is not to be dissembled that she prevented much good, and was a main cause why Victor Emmanuel did not earnestly embrace a system of reform. It has been asserted that the Queen squandered the public revenue : this I do not believe; although I have reason to think she participated but little in the desire of the King to regulate his financés with strict economy, but on the contrary often successfully opposed it.
It remains to me to speak of the King's confessor ; an Abbé, named Botta, a man of little consideration, and possessing rather the taste than the talent for intrigue. I know not what degree of influence he might have in regulating the ecclesiastical affairs of the kingdom; but I cannot help remarking, that in no branch of the administration were more inexcusable or fatal errors committed. This topic would lead me too far; I shall therefore merely observe, that though the state possessed ecclesiastical property which would have afforded a suitable endowment to the various VOL. XIX. Pam, NO. XXXVII.
bishoprics and parishes, yet the distribution of that property was made with so little discernment that some bishops were living in Opulence, whilst others scarcely got bread; and the royal treasury was burthened with a considerable sum to make good the allowance to the clergy of Savoy, of Genoa, and Nice. A number of convents were also re-established, but chiefly at the expense of a foundation for public education or school of industry. Assuredly the expulsion of the rightful inmates, to make room for a few monks fostered by the court, must have been a sight revolting to the whole nation; and even the enlightened classes of society participated in the general feeling, however disposed to favor the restoration of establishments designed to promote the interests of religion and society, when undertaken with due deliberation.
I think I have said enough to convey an idea of the internal situation of the kingdom ; but the 1st of January, 1821, threw a clearer light on what was yet to befal Piedmont. Count Balba was now employed in giving directions as to the legislative and judicial codes commenced under the ministry of Count Borgarelli his predecessor, but with very different views—in fact rather to elude the wishes of the nation, than to satisfy them. Count Borgarelli had been placed at the head of the Senate of Turin; on the first day of the year, according to established custom, he addressed the King. « Sire,” he exclaimed, “deign to remember that the ancient laws of the state are the guardians of its security and splendor. Suffer them not to be touched by an unskilful hand. Innovations may lead to great calamities. : ." The public indignation was at its height: never was courage more misapplied, or so ill rewarded. “What!" said they on all hands, “the King is desirous of giving laws to his people, and is seconded by a wise Minister, who commences the work by destroying abuses that undermine at once the fortunes of suitors, and the reputation of magistrates; and it is the person at the head of the magistracy that raises his voice to overthrow the hopes of the nation !" There were many who thought that the proceeding of the chief president had been concerted with some of the elder senators, on which they exclaimed: “Is it then only for the sake of preserving their hateful gains, that our magistrates can find courage? How many beneficial institutions have been changed since the year 1814! The senate that had been passing edicts in silence, awakens but to commit an offensive act !" It was hoped that the King would put an end to the public anxiety by disgracing Count Borgarelli; but not clearly discerning the real situation of affairs, and having but little confidence in Count Balba, there remained in the public mind an unpleasant doubt as to the impression pro
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 ;