These measures of reform, and the enthusiasm which they created, were not without effect on surrounding nations.
Continuing Pius IX Flees Rome,
our selection from Pius the Ninth and the Revolution at Rome (in the North American Review, volume LXXIV, New Series) by Francis Bowen published in 1852. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in eleven easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Pius IX Flees Rome.
He conceived the idea of an Italian customs league, after the model of the German one, and pressed it with so much earnestness that in November, 1847, it was instituted for the Roman, Tuscan, and Sardinian dominions, and every effort was made to render it acceptable to the other powers of Italy. He established a municipal government for the city of Rome, which had hitherto remained without one; and he created a Council of State for all his dominions, to consist chiefly of the laity, one person being chosen for each Province by the sovereign, out of a list of three, nominated by the provincial authorities. This Council was to sit in Rome, and aid the Government with its advice in putting the various departments in order, in constituting municipalities, and in other public concerns. He created, also, a Council of Ministers, which Farini calls the most important act of his reign, “As being that by which the executive power acquired an organization worthy of a civilized state, and altogether novel in that of Rome.” There were to be nine departments, and, with the exception of the president of the Council and its secretary, the ministers need not be cardinals. All those first appointed, however, were cardinals or prelates.
A body of Uditori was attached to this Council, consisting of twelve ecclesiastics and twelve laymen, all appointed by the sovereign. The laws respecting the censorship of the press were much relaxed, and numerous political journals were established at Rome, which before had nothing that deserved the name of a newspaper. “Our infant journalism,” says Farini, “had its infant passions and caprices; instead of meditating, it gambolled, and every day it smashed its toys of the day before, as children do; it instituted a school of declamation, not of political knowledge; it ran and plunged about, blindfold; it made boast of an independent spirit, and was a mean slave to out-of-doors influence.”
These measures of reform, and the enthusiasm which they created, were not without effect on surrounding nations. Considering the place whence they came, and the sovereign who conducted them, they were adapted to have a vast influence. Rome, the “Eternal City,” was regenerated, and a new life bounded through her old limbs; and the August head of the Catholic Church, the greatest religious potentate of the civilized world, the infallible, the object of veneration to half Christendom, and hitherto the most despotic and conservative sovereign in Europe, was now the daring innovator, the radical, the idol of the populace. Austria looked on with distrust and dismay, and tried to pick a quarrel and thus find a pretext for invasion by ordering its troops, who had as yet only garrisoned the fortress, to occupy the city of Ferrara and patrol its streets — a measure almost sure to lead to a collision with its citizens.
The Pope protested in a firm but temperate tone, and his indignant people would fain have hurried him into a war; but he bridled their impatience and the matter ended in a compromise. Tuscany caught the generous flame of freedom; and though there was not so much to be accomplished there, as the Government had long been mild and discreet, the good Archduke [Leopold II] professed the utmost admiration for Pius, and began to imitate his measures.
The King of Sardinia was moved to enthusiasm; during the difficulty with Austria about Ferrara he offered the Pope whatever succor of ships or men he might need, and an asylum in his dominions if he should be compelled to leave Rome. He did more; he relaxed the bonds of the press, improved the administration of justice, deprived the police of their discretionary power, enlarged and amended the Council of State, emancipated the communes, and allowed their officers to be chosen by popular vote. The character and example of Pius seemed likely to effect as great and as beneficial changes out of his dominions as within them. Those of the Italian sovereigns who were not willing to follow his lead of their own accord, were obliged to yield in dismay before the spirit which he had awakened in their subjects.
The silly Duke of Lucca, a fanatic, a prodigal, and a despot, after attempting in vain to cudgel his people into submission, fled in terror from their aroused wrath, and consented to the annexation of his dominions to Tuscany, whereby they shared in the reforms instituted by Leopold.
But in Sicily and Naples were developed the most striking results of the fire which had been kindled by a reforming pope. The cruel and imbecile Bourbon who reigned there became only more harsh and obstinate, while the other princes of Italy deemed it necessary to reform their institutions and conciliate their people. His subjects petitioned him, and shouted for Pius in the streets; but the soldiery were turned against them, and the King showed himself alike inaccessible to their caresses and their prayers. “One king only,” said Thiers from the tribune, speaking of Italy, “he of Naples, presented the sword’s point to the people who were flocking around him, and that people fell on it.” The impulsive Sicilians fixed January 12, 1848, as the day beyond which their patience would not extend. The King made no concessions, the day came, and the island was revolutionized, the troops everywhere giving way before the excited populace. Within a fortnight the inhabitants of Naples followed their example; and before the fight began, the King’s heart failed him, and he granted all that they asked. The Ministry was changed, a constitution was resolved upon, and its fundamental principles were announced on January 29th, while the Administration pledged themselves to publish it complete within twelve days. The King came out to meet the crowd, who were cheering him, and intimated his purpose to surpass the other sovereigns of Italy in the magnitude of his concessions. How sincere his promises were, the lapse of a few months fully showed; but at present everything wore a cheerful aspect.
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