In the streets and open places of the city, for two days, the brigands had been slaughtering every man his enemy among the Government officers, some of them indeed disreputable and sorry fellows, others respectable.
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.
One Ministry after another tried in vain to steer the ship of state on an even course, between the opposite perils of the domination of a mob and the rigorous enforcement of the laws. The Pope tried for some months the experiment of a popular administration, under Mamiani, of whom our author says, “He seemed to play the part of a tribune of the people more than of the Pope’s minister.” Still he was an honest man, opposed to violence, to tumult, and to all excesses, though he paid too much deference to the clubs, which were now as turbulent and mischievous as their Parisian prototypes. The acts of his Ministry were not numerous, Farini says, for the character of the times would not admit of dispassionate inquiries and solid reforms. In truth, the energies of Government were exhausted in a vain attempt to keep the peace in the city, which was now a constant scene of turbulence and disorder. Bologna also, having successfully repelled an unauthorized attack made upon it by the Austrians under Welden, had become a prey to the wildest confusion, owing to the continuance there of the irregular bands of armed men who had contributed to its defense. At the urgent request of the Bolognese Deputies, the Ministry determined to send thither one of their own number to aid in restoring order; and Farini was deputed for this purpose. The following is a portion of his account of what he saw there and what he accomplished:
In the streets and open places of the city, for two days, the brigands had been slaughtering every man his enemy among the Government officers, some of them indeed disreputable and sorry fellows, others respectable. They killed with musket-shot, and if the fallen gave signs of life they reloaded their arms in the sight of the people and the soldiers and fired them afresh, or else put an end to their victims with their knives. They hunted men down like wild beasts, entered their houses, and dragged them forth to slaughter. One Bianchi, an inspector of police, was lying in bed, reduced to agony by consumption; they came in, set upon him and cut his throat in the presence of his wife and children; the corpse, a frightful spectacle, remained in the public streets. I saw it, saw death dealt about, and the abominable chase. Cardinal Amat, who had given notice of his arrival, came the day after; and the armed commons escorted him to the palace at the very time when the villains were perpetrating their murders.
There were no longer any judges, or any officers of the police; those who had escaped death either had fled or had hidden themselves; the Civic Guard was disarmed, the citizens killed, the few soldiers of the line either mixed with the insurgents or were wholly without spirit; the carbineers and dragoons in hesitation, the volunteer legions and free corps a support to the rioters, not to the authority of Government. We sent to Rome for leave to declare Bologna in a state of siege; but the answer was that the Ministry having taken the opinion of the Council of State considered that order might be restored without recourse to this extreme measure.
All our best exertions were made to draw to the side of Government the carbineers and dragoons, as also Bellezzi and the honest leaders of the people, but with little success. It was reported that Bellezzi himself had given leave to kill those whom they called the spies; one Masina came before us, proposing by way of compromise to banish those whose lives were threatened; armed men were in the very palace of government, and we ourselves at their mercy. Accident, however, effected at a stroke what we could have done only slowly and with difficulty. An assassin attempted the life of a carbineer; his companions, inflamed with anger, pursued him and caught him in a church. They then volunteered their most resolute efforts at repression. They were ordered to sally forth, arrest and disarm the ruffians. The dragoons seconded them; young Pepoli, commandant of the Civic Guard, mustered a few companies; Bianchetti and the respected citizens of the Committee of Public Safety drew close around us, and we hurried in the Swiss from Forli. The population began to regain its courage and to applaud the carbineers as they arrested the assassins; the Swiss entered amid cheers.”
The disturbances at Bologna were quelled; but the bonds of law and order throughout the Papal States were now loosened, and it became evident that a more determined minister must be placed at the helm, or the experiment of the existing form of government must be abandoned in despair. A republic or a return to the old principles of despotism would then be inevitable. In this emergency the eyes of the Pope and of all prudent persons at Rome were turned to Rossi, who, since the fall of Louis Philippe’s Government, from which he had been ambassador to the Roman States, had resided there as a private citizen, taking no active share in politics, but often consulted by both parties, owing to his high reputation for sagacity and firmness. Exiled on account of his liberal opinions by Gregory, he had laid the foundation of his fame at Paris, where he successively became professor, peer, and ambassador, and was highly esteemed by all parties as a writer and a statesman. Once before, Pius had solicited him to form a ministry; but he had declined, because conscious that the affections of the populace were not with him, and he judged that the minds even of the better portion of the citizens were not yet prepared for a resolute attempt to carry on a constitutional government by firm measures.
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