THE years 1843 and 1844, as has been mentioned in
the last letter, were the presidential years of the Canton of Lucerne. This exercise of the Federal executive authority, not by any special magistrate or council, but by the Council of one or other of the three directing Cantons, has of course the inconvenience, among many others, of causing the employment of Federal authority to be more or less guided by the politics actually prevalent in each of the three. In the project of reform drawn up by M. Rossi and the Commission of1833, this inconvenience was pointed out, and a special Federal Executive, apart from all the Cantonal Governments but under the control of the Diet, was proposed to be created. More or leas, par- tiality in the management of the directing Canton is certain, and has been witnessed in Berne and Zurich as well as in Lucerne. But in the con- duct of the latter during 1844, such partiality exceeded all pardonable limits and all former parallel : it degenerated into grave and manifest trea- son, and contributed chiefly to rouse against that Canton the strong ani- mosity which we shall find breaking out in December 1844 and April 1845. Though Lucerne in these last months of 1844 was thrown upon the defensive, and suffered from the wrongful assaults of others, the case was otherwise during the time which preceded : that Canton was then the for- ward and aggressive mover. I have already noticed the politico- religious agitation throughout the Catholic unions in Lucerne, So- term, Argau, and Catholic Berne, down to 1841 : the defeat of the insur- rections in Soleure and Argau disappointed without extinguishing the Ultramontane spirit. Shortly after Lucerne came to the presidency, the Government of Argau found itself exposed to farther agitation, and to fresh attempts at insurrection; which, however, it was strong enough to put down. Lucerne became associated with the League of Sarnen, to which it had stood decidedly opposed previous to 1840. That league was formed about 1832, for the purpose of resisting the Liberal or Ra- dical tendencies then current throughout Switzerland : it consisted ori- ginally of Uri, Schwytz, and Unterwalden, to which subsequently Friburg, Zug, and Lucerne, and lastly (after the counter-revolution of 1844) the Valais, became added : it is in fact, an earlier stage of the present Bonder- band, only that the Sonderbund has been drawn tighter and provided with a formal military organization. In the year 1843, the plan enter- tained, and much talked of by the State Gazette of Catholic Switzerland, (a journal then published at Lucerne,) was to form a great separate league comprehending all the Catholic Cantons, for the protection of the Catholic religion against the oppression and peril under which it was alleged to labour : Soleure was to be either gained over or counter-revolutionized. M. Munzinger, the Deputy of Soleure, read in the Diet during the dis- cussions of the present year 1847, the plan of this great Catholic Sonder- bund, which Lucerne had circulated in his Canton during the year 1843, but which found little favour in the latter : moreover, the same scheme of a separate league was so distinctly announced in the resolution of the Great Council of Lucerne of 20th October 1843, that both Berne and Zurich protested against it as tending to the breaking up of the Con- federacy, and forwarded their protest in circular to all the Cantons. In point of fact, the Catholic religion neither had then nor has now any op- pression to complain of in Switzerland : if there were ground for complaint on the side of either of the two confessions, it would be with the Protest- ants, who are excluded from all political rights in Lucerne and its con. federate Cantons, while there is no analogous exclusion in the Canton mostly Prates t. It was during the year 1843 that the political state of the Canton of Valais became disordered, and that the foundation was laid for Federal interference in its affairs. That Canton is altogether Catholic : but the two portions of which it consists—the Upper and Lower Valaisans—are of different race and language ; and down to 1798, the latter, although more numerous, having been originally conquered by the former, remained their subjects. Suspended or abated between 1798 and 1815, the pn• vileges of the Upper Valaisans were partially revived in 1815, when obtained an imperfect representative constitution, but with unjust pre- ponderance to the Upper Valais, and with a large fraction of the repre• sentation vested in the Bishop of Sion. For several years after 1830, the Lower Valaisans attempted to obtain a political reform, which was at length finally accomplished in April 1840, after opposition both of fraud and force on the part-of the Upper Yalaisans aided by their clergy, and after much indirect discouragement thrown in their way by the Con- servative Government of Zurich, then directing Canton or Yorort.
The fate of the Liberal Government in the Valais, at the head of which were the two brothers Maurice and Joseph Barman, during its short- lived career from April 1840 to May 1844, forms one of the most melancholy pages of recent history. Its leaders were among the most patriotic and most instructed men in the Canton: they went straight to practical, genuine, and serious reforms, but with strict respect for legal meant, and with as little offence as possible towards the prejudices opposed to them : they stand chargeable with various faults of weakness and misjudgment, but the greatest of all their errors was that they could not shake off their expectation of honourable dealing from unscrupulous antagonists. They had to deal with a system, fiscal, judicial, and ad- ministrative, which.included ancient-abuses in all their luxuriance ; and with a -people, ignorant and bigoted, whom minds are much more obe- dient to their religious than to their political superior. The state of these religious superiors, the Catholic hierarchy and clergy, is indeed enviable : their large properties are exempt from taxation, by a continuance of the old privilege of the middle ages, while their persons are subject only to thejarisdiction of their own order. If a priest stands charged with grave crime, such as infanticide or highway robbery, he is taken before the episcopal authority, and detained for examination : by some unaccount- able negligence, he presently escapes, nor has any example been known of a priest being actually punished. Their education, and indeed the whole education of the Valais, such as it is, is and has long been under the superintendence of the Jesuits.
The wonder seems rather to have been, how a good and liberal Go- vernment ever became established in the Valais at all: perhaps this might never have wane to pass, if the excitement of the Lower Valais prior to the revolution of 1840 had not been permitted at least, if not favoured, by the clergy in that region. And while the disadvantages of the position were thus serious, even the men who had stood most ardent and forward-in that excitement did not afterwards act in such a manner as to lend effective support to the Government which they had them- selves contributed ito set up. The most pronounced•among them formed the society called Young Switzerland; who while they found themselves naavoidably in collision with the privileges of the clergy, and amidst a oonthweray carried on with great.exasperation on both sides, took no account, of the difficulties of the Government, but were harsh in their re- proaches because more was not done, and thus weakened-a weak Govern- ment still farther. The clergy defended the maintenance of their privi- leges by the mostemphatic enforeements and denunciations of the pulpit: and their modeof warring withahe political society called Young Switzer- land deserves particular mention. The Bishop of Sion issued a mandate forbidding the clergy to :administer the sacraments to any member of Young Switzerland, or to.any of-their relatives, or to any reader of their journal called 4' The Echo of the.Alps " : it should be added, that the clergy had at the same time a journal of their own, called " The Simplon Gazette," whioh employed in their cause the most vehement partisanship. The scandals which arose out of this excommunication were monstrous, and furnish a further example of the abuse of reli- gious agencies for political purposes by the clergy of various Cantons of Switzerland. Furthermore, in . order to defeat constitutionally those measures -which were, especially odious to them, the clergy made efficient use of their intittence ever the popular referendum : thus, among other laws, /one for ameliorating the wretched system of public education, and another for distributing-military charges with an equality which did not respect clerical immunities, were rejected -by the people after having passed the legislature.
Under these circumstances, the Lower Valais became more lad more the scene of lawlessness and conflict between individuals of different political parties. On the other hand, the Upper Valais partook less in this discord : its inhabitants were more unanimous among themselves, unfriendly to the Liberal Government from the beginning, and still more unfriendly to it in consequence of the continued opposition of the clergy. In 1843, the election in the Canton returned a majority hostile to the Liberals ; and an Executive Council was constituted with a majority of the same sentiments, yet not strong enough to take any decisive part. It was under these circumstances that the leaders of the Upper Valais, with the connivance of the Executive or at least of some of its members, carried on for months together a secret and illegal military organization of the inhabitants ; marched to Sion in May 1844; were enabled by the treachery of the Executive to forestall and •break the preparations of the disunited Bas Valaisans; became masters of the Government, proclaimed the latter to be rebels, and then, being joined by their own partisans in the Lower Valais, vanquished them in various encounters, especially on the river Trient. In this defeat, with its consequences, the complete extinc- tion of the Liberal party in Valais, there was more bloodshed, more cruelty, and more brutality, than had ever before been seen in the civil dissensions of Switzerland. And to crown the whole, the Bishop of Sion issued an order to his clergy forbidding them to administer the sacra- ments of the church to the dying combatants of the Liberal party. When we consider that these combatants were Catholics, as well as fellow citizens, on the point of death, and when we reflect besides on the consequences which the Catholic Church connects with the absence of the sacraments at such a moment, it -is difficult even to imagine the feel- ings under which eo monstrous a mandate was issued. The Government of the Valais—if we are to call it by that name—at least the majority of the Executive Council, appears throughout this transaction in the character of a conspirator :.privy to the illegal organi- zation of the Upper Valais—secretly conniving at it until it was com-
pleted—issuing proclamations against these Upper Valaisans, when 'known to be on their actual march to Sion—directing theta to disband as an unauthorized and illegal armament—keeping at a distance, by treacherous assurances, the Lower Valaisan volunteers under M. Barman, who had armed, though unprepared, after and on the news of the actual march of the Upper Valaisans, and who might have got into Sion first, if they had not relied upon the false assurances of the Government—ia- viting the Upper Valaisans into Sion, then immediately converting them from an illegal body of Corps Francs into authorized troops of the- state, and making use of them to crash the Lower Valaisans under M. Barman, these latter being then proclaimed as the only rebels and delivered into the hands of men more properly rebels than themselves. To play such 'a part, was bad enough in the Government of the Valais; but it was the climax of disgrace that the presiding Canton Lucerne consented to play the part along with them. It appears that the illegal organization of theUpper Valais, known from the beginning to a portion of the Executive Connell of the Valais, was still better known to the leaders in Lucerne, and concerted with them beforehand; M. Bernard Meyer, the Lucerne Secretary, ma- king private visits to the Canton during the previous months as an un- derhand auxiliary. On the 13th May 1844, when the Upper Valaisan volunteers were actually on their march to Sion, M. Meyer appeared in the latter town, carrying a commission of Federal envoy in his pocket, to be produced or not according as it might suit his views : if the Lower Valaisans under M. Barman had been victorious, he would have shown himself as commissioner, and would have employed the Federal authority to arrest their progress; but so long as the Upper Valaisans were in full ad- vance, he was a partisan, attending the private meetings destined to facilitate their entry into Sion. As soon as they had entered that town and received the recognition of the Government, M. Meyer lent his best aid not only to the maintenance of the new Government, but also to the denunciation of the opposite party as rebels. .His conduct was from the beginning that of an unscrupulous party-man, infringing the most sacred obligations incum- bent on a Federal superior, and unredeemed even by any sentiment either of candour or of mercy towards the vanquished : for his language, even at the subsequent Diet, towards the Barmans and their fellow exiles, who were in this case less of rebels than the victors, was harsh and fierce in the extreme. Lucerne received its reward by the passing of the Canton of Valais into the hands of the Ultramontane or clerical party, and by its adj auction to the League of Sarnen.
It may be proper to mention—though nothing of importance turns upon it in reference to the preceding narrative—that the :Exeeutive of the Valais had, on the 4th May, on the ground of the lawless state of the country, sent a secret message to Lucerne invoking Federal intervention. This proceeding first became known in the Valais itself through the news- papers of Lucerne;. and strong reproaches were addressed to the Govern- ment for •having done so; upon which the Government disavowed having made such an application. They produced what they affirmed to be the copy of their letter sent, which differed from the letter received at Lu- cerne : there was some fraud or mystery about this letter, which was not fully explained. However the fact-may stand-as-to the letter of request, the presiding Canton, on receiving it, issued a requisition for a Federal army : which, partly from unavoidable delays, partly from mistrust in some of the Cantons which had to furnish it, was not in a situation to en- ter the Valais until after the complete victory of the Upper Valaisans.
The excitement which these events caused throughout Switzerland was prodigious. The combats at the river Trient and other places in Valais, which had been disputed with great bravery on both sides, and severe loss to the vanquished—the harshness and cruelties exercised by the victoria— more than all, the numerous body of exiles, many of them the most re- spectable men in the Canton, who fled with their wives and families into the neighbouring Cantons ofYaud and Geneva, to the sacrifice of,their property and their prospects,—all this was more than sufficient to rouse through- out a large proportion of the country both profound sympathy and ve- hement indignation. Upon whom did the public mind fasten as the au- thors of the mischief? Upon the Jesuits, and upon the Canton of Lu- cerne. Upon the second with perfect truth, whatever may be thought about the first. It was at this time, and in this way, that the Anti. Jesuit movement first began in Switzerland : for we shall not properly understand that movement unless we take it (to use an expression of the late Lord Eldon) " clothed in circumstances "—in connexion with its antecedents and accompaniments. It has been already mentioned that the Jesuits had for a long time been established in the Valais, with control over the education both of clergy and people. But during the years 1842 and 1843, this order ap- peared in unusual activity. They perambulated the Catholic Cantons publicly and ostentatiously, as missionaries and special preachers—espe- cially Lucerne and the Valais : never before had so many Jesuits been seen in motion. In the latter Canton, they denounced the Liberal Go- vernment as impious and hostile to religion ; and such was the effect of their exhortations, that on various occasions the assembled people who heard them swore to rise in insurrection on the first summons. Such language, indeed, was nothing different from that which had been used by the Catholic clergy generally, as well in the Valais recently, as in So- leure, Argau, and Lucerne in 1840, and by the Zurich Protestant clergy in September 1839. But these Jesuit missions were of all religious agen- cies the most conspicuous to the public eye : they came immediately pre- vious to the misfortunes of 1844; they were blazoned by the Catholic journals as having produced almost miraculous effects; and opponents were on this occasion quite ready to credit the Catholic statement lite- rally—to believe that the Jesuits had really done all the good ascribed to them, or all the harm, as it would appear from the opposite point of view. It is therefore indisputable that the Jesuits had actually been employed as instruments in preaching down the Government of the Valais by the native clergy and the politicians of Lucerne; and what they had really done was enough to cause persons who already pee-
fondly hated the order to arraign them as the master architects of the whole.
The 22d May 1844, saw the closing scene of the melancholy tragedy in the Valais : during the days immediately ensuing, the agitation arising from it pervaded most of Switzerland, and meetings were held in many of the Cantons to demand the convocation of an extraordinary Diet. Among the rest, the Great Council of the Canton of Argau was convoked for that purpose on the 28th of May : the purpose was, to urge the pre- Rifling Canton to summon an extraordinary Diet in reference to the re- cent events, and to instruct the Argovian Deputies as to their votes and proceeding. It was in this assembly that the name of the Jesuits was first publicly denounced. Augustin Keller—a distinguished Catholic, and the Director of the Catholic Seminary in Argau, the same person who three years before had proposed the suppression of the Argovian Convents—moved that the Deputy of the Canton should be instructed to demand from the Diet measures for the expulsion of the Jesuits from Switzerland ; that order being (he urged) the great cause of the deplor- able dissensions reigning throughout the country, and especially of the recent calamities in the Valais. In enforcing this point, he dwelt par- ticularly on the Jesuit missions which a few months before had made so much noise in the Valais; whilst he enlarged on the corrupt morals, slavish politics, and intrigues against civil authority as well as against religious liberty, which marked the history of the order. The motion of M. Keller was carried in the Council of Argau by a large majority : the Argovian Deputy was instructed to make the proposition in the Diet for expelling the Jesuits; and a circular was sent (according to custom) to the other Cantons, to request that each would instruct its Deputy in re- ference to the proposition.
Though the circular thus sent round for discussion among the Cantons met with no favour at that time in the various Great Councils, it was en- thusiastically welcomed among the Liberal Swiss public without, and had of course presented itself to many of them as well as to M. Keller. It precisely harmonized with the existing state of their minds, overflowing with sympathy for the suffering Valaisans, and with indignation for the treacherous means whereby the late counter-revolution had been consum- mated : it presented to them an old enemy as the author of a new mis- chief—an enemy who certainly had sown some tares among the wheat, and was not wanting in will to have sown the whole field—an enemy, moreover, against whom some definite resolution admitted of being taken. It was in this temper that the proposition was received at various meetings, es- pecially at the periodical meeting of Swiss rifle-shooters from all parts of the confederation, which took place on the 30th June 1844 at Basle. These shooting-meetings are in many respects the parallel of the ancient Greek festival games : they serve the same purposes of keep- ing alive the national sympathies and supplying the defects of a very loose political union. Abundance of speeches on the political topics of the day are usually delivered by various orators at these meetings, which are largely frequented by the more ardent Liberal politicians from all the Cantons. The calamities of the Valaisan Liberals—expulsion to the Jesuits —indignation against Lucerne as an accomplice in these calamities—were among the prominent matters which agitated the feel- ings of this numerous and excitable assembly. The successful Upper Valaisans hardly appeared, and their flag could not be kept up among those of the other Cantons ; while the defeated exiles Messrs. Barman were greeted with the warmest sympathy, and subscriptions were raised for the general body of Valaisan sufferers. If the indignation against Lucerne and M. Meyer was vehe- ment at the time of this shooting-meeting, it became greatly height- ened when the Diet was assembled, and when the question of the Valais was discussed, on the 13th July 1844. M. Bernard Meyer on that occasion occupied the chair of the Diet ; and, replying to various criminations from the Deputies of other Cantons, he not only avowed but actually boasted of the share ascribed to him in the counter-revolution of Valais. He admitted the deliberate conspiracy and long-concerted military organization in the Upper Valais to effect a counter-revolution, together with his own previous knowledge as well as concern in it ; he justified all the previous measures by what he called the happy termination of everything ; and his fierce language against the Liberals of the Bas-Valais, at that time prostrate and in exile, would have been hardly tolerable even had their antecedent conduct been that of the most guilty rebels. His speech excited indignant comments from the Deputies of Vaud, Thurgau, and Soleure, and contributed much to swell the previous animosity against Lucerne. On the voting of the Diet, no majority was obtained, either to approve or to disapprove the conduct of Lucerne : the approvers were only the seven states con- stituting the League of Sarnen, together with Appenzell Inner-Rhoden; while the majority declared against all further interference of the Diet in the affairs of Valais.
The proposition of Argau for expelling the Jesuits from Switzerland was brought before the Diet; but it obtained no votes except those of Argau and Basle-Campagne--one vote and a half. None of the Great Councils in the other Cantons instructed their Deputies to support it, though it had become more and more popular among the Liberal public without. And in this state probably the question would have rested, if the Jesuits themselves had remained as they then stood—established merely in Valais, Friburg, and Schwytz. But in the months immediately following, the important step was taken of introducing them also into the presiding Canton Lucerne, and that too under circumstances in them- selves eminently aggravating. The two streams of feeling, each arising out of the catastrophe in the Valais, but both at first separate—the feeling against the Jesuits, and that against Lucerne—became in this manner confluent, each tending to exaggerate the other. Their united force broke down all the obligations of intercantonal morality, and led to the flagrant political wrong committed by the Corps Francs in invading 'Lu- cerne ; at which point we shall arrive in the next letter. A. B.