TOPICS OF THE DAY.
THE PIEDMONT MEMORIAL ON ITALY.
Is human affairs, of nations as of individuals, we cannot at any moment say that we have arrived at the end—that our work is done. The sun that sets on one horizon is rising to another ; the end of one labour is the beginning of the next, the part of a life- labour. The contest which broke out in open war on Turkish ground was but an episode in that longer contest which was per- petuated by the false conditions of the settlement of 181.5; and the struggle is not closed, but is only muffled by a truce, in which the opposite sides, suspending arms, remain irreconcileable
in their active principles. One power, selfishly neutral during warfare, remains ominously separated in peace. Some accounts of the memorial laid before the Paris Conference by Count Cavour have been published in this country, but they are incomplete to the extent of inaccuracy, and are calculated very seriously to mislead. In their nature the actual propositions are more closely applicable to the present slate of Italy ; but the views laid before the French and English Governments by their immediate ally, Sardinia, go to confirm the gravest doubts as to the possibility of continuously maintaining the tranquillity of the Continent on the basis of the treaty with Russia alone. These doubts nearly concern ourselves ; for unless we providently grapple with the question mooted by the Emperor Napoleon, and examined with closeness and vigour by Count Cavellr and his colleagues, we shall see the same cen- t:eh which is suspended on Turkish ground reopened on Italian greinid, nearer to us with a stronger combination of influences against Western interests ; and if we neglect the duty of precau- tionary statesmanship now, there will be greater sacrifices to be made.
Nor is that contingency a matter of distant date. It belongs to
18.58, if not to 18.57. The present state of Italy, as Napoleon the Third had ascertained before he saw his view confirmed in this memorial, cannot continue. It is chronic rebellion, kept down, with chronic civil war, by Governments which would be impotent if it Were not for the foreign support. The King of Naples has exiled his Parliament ; has placed Poerio in prison for the crime of hav- ing accepted office when "sent for " ; continues to impoverish his subjects by is commerce from his ports and debasing his corn; and is only able to prevent universal insurrection by the consciousness that he may rely upon Austrian assistance. The Pope could not remain upon his throne a day if it were not for French troops in his capital and Austrian troops in his Eastern provinces. He cannot govern : the people of his towns rebel -against him ; those of the better classes who can. afford it reside away ; his exchequer is bankrupt, getting continually worse ; his highways swarm with brigand:. Impotence resorts to tyranny as the means of enforcing a remnant of authority ; but even that resource would fail if it were not for the extraneous support. Parma is at the present moment under the naked military rule of Austria ; the Government being unable otherwise to put down a conspiracy of Republicans, who would be powerless if the middle and better classes of Parma had any political existence. Tuscany, which once enjoyed a liberal policy and practical independence, has degenerated again into an Austrian dependent. Modena has always been a joke under its "Tiberius in duodecimo."
The remedial measures brought before the Western Powers by Count Cavour are—first, to place the Papal States under a secular prince exclusively charged with the government of their temporal affairs according to a fixed code of laws, leaving to the Pope the nominal sovereignty, with actual government in spiritual matters ; secondly, to create a counterpoise to the absolute government and inflnence of other Italian states, by an open and systematic sup- port of reforms which statesmen in the peninsula have already attempted, and in Piedmont carried ; and thirdly, to promote the material unity of Italy by means of a customs union. 'What is the practicability of this plan? Are the materials fit;
is it to encounter opposition in Italy ? We believe that there are ample materials, and no opposition worth speaking of, within the shores of the peninsula, except from the dead weight of the very power to be counteracted. The Italians have always said that if they. were left alone—if there were not a combination of several governments upon each section, or powers possessing great armies to put them down—they could settle their own questions and go- vern themselves. But their chief complaint is against the licence enjoyed by one power in particular, whom they emphatically call "the Stranger." Austria has treated Italy as a province of her own. Italians have joined in talking of the degeneracy of their own countrymen, but they are refuted by the facts. Piedmont is the great answer. They have there a community which has produced some of the most practical statesmen of the present day. If the ten best statesmen of our time were brought together, the Prime Minister of King Victor Emmanuel would be among them. But the people also have proved equal to their King and their states- men. They have elected a Parliament which has fallen into its place as deftly as if it had been existing since the time of the Stuarts or the Tudors. Piedmont has effected a reform of the Church, securing civil liberty for every subject irrespectively of priestly control, suppressing half the convents, and abolishing the absolute restraint of others. She has called forth a free press, with a fair representation of every party. And all this has been done within seven years, with every sign of stability, and without the slightest shock to frowning. The three Italian states under King Victor Emmanuel—Piedmont, Genoa, and Sardinia—taken together' are a fair representation of the states of Italy • and we have a right to infer that what has
been done by Italians in these three states could be done in the
rest of the peninsula. But we are not left to draw our inference only from Northern Italy.. The Florentines carried out and as-
sited the great Leopold in a total remodelling of the Tuscan con- stitution; Church-emancipation, reform of the tenure of land, free-trade, a rescue from corruption, impotence, and poverty, to a condition of high prosperity and continued order. Has Tuscany degenerated ? No; she has produced many men of high attain- ments and independent judgment—her Caponi and her Giusti ; and during the brief Constitutional regime of 1848, statesmen were found to meet the requirements of the day, just as Florentine statesmen assisted Leopold in his sweeping and thorough reforms. It was the same in Naples under King Joachim's mild and liberal reign • the same during the brief Constitutional regime of 1848, when blew were men to be "sent for" very much of the stamp now found in Piedmont or to be found in London at the present day. A knowledge of the English language, its literature and history, and of our institutions, exists in all the Italian capitals and influ- ences opinion ; and the ruling ideas of practical subjects very much resemble those that would be brought forth by conversation in London or Paris. Milan itself has contributed nobly to the political action and literature of the day, and many of the resi- dent statesmen of Piedmont at the present moment are Lombards by birth and right. The opposition that a general reform of Italy would encounter could be found only among the creatures of the existing Govern- ments—followers who would disappear with their leaders or sink into insignificance; in the lazzarom with whom King Feidinand's Ministers coquet; or mostly in the Church. But the Church has been displaced from civil power in Piedmont without being able
to get up any opposition, the only approach to such a thing ap- pearing in the island of Sardinia. Now Sardinia is a specimen of
the most backward portions of Italy. It is so ill-peopled that there is actually a promising project in Turin and Genoa for colonizing Sardinia and developing its agriculture. Tran- quillity, however, was never disturbed even in that island ; and the most passionate denunciations of the priests in Genoa and Piedmont, to which free scope was given in the press, failed to create even a sensation. The injunction which Cardinal Fransoni
issued to his clergy, secular and regular, not to accept stipends from the state, was a brutum fulmen : the stipends were accepted, and were then permitted. In Rome itself, the bankruptcy of the
exchequer, with the enormous waste of the revenue in its pro- gress from the collector to the treasury, has suggested to the ad- visers of the Pope a plan for secularizing the administration. There are materials for the reform ; we do not see materials for the opposition. The most formidable part of the scheme is the complete elimi- nation of the spiritual from the secular authority of Rome. But the Popes have not been considered to derive their spiritual tenure essentially even from residence in Rome ; still less have they always governed ; and the Pope does not really govern now. They have lived at Avignon under the French shelter. Even at Rome, Pius the Ninth is under the wing of the Eagle,. and must accept perforce such suggestions as his patron may recommend. The efficacy of the plan promises to be complete. There is in every part of Italy a ready-made opinion for it ; there are men ready to carry it out, classes ready to people all the departments of consti- tutional government—the Cabinets, the two sections of Parlia- ment, the constituencies, the municipalities, the press. Nothing is more striking in Italy than the weight of public opinion in checking extreme Republican movements, as soon as the middle and upper classes are endowed with a political existence. In Turin, recently, in lieu of another dropt journal, has appeared a
paper called the Risorgimento—a name formerly famous as that of a Liberal organ ; and this same Risorgimento, written
with great vigour and independence, exposes the fallacies which
the Italia e Popolo—the Republican organ, still permitted to be published at Genoa—circulates amongst its readers. One
portion of the plan alone the counteraction of Austrian inter-
ference, would be effect-inal to promote the settlement of the Italian question. The Plenipotentiaries at Paris have a perfect
right to consider such a measure. If we understand public law, the entrance of Austrian troops into an independent state can only be justified by the request of some party in that state contending against another in civil war. The presence of Aus- trian troops constitutes a state of warfare, and other independent states have a corresponding right to intervene. It is quite open to them, therefore, to recommend, that instead of their interven- tion, the intervention of another power shall be withdrawn. There is but one difficulty in the matter, and that is serious. It is expressed in the question whether there are in the Confer- ence men of views so large that they can see the wisdom of Count Cavour's design, and of will so stout that they can undertake to assist incarrying it? If there are such men, they may redeem Italy, and save Europe from a complication more formidable than even that of the Eastern question.