29 DECEMBER 1866, Page 8


WHO does not remember the marvellous organization of that Secret National Government which, during the last Polish insurrection, defied the hundred-handed police of Russia, issuing writs, and orders, and passports, that ran through the length and breadth of the country, under the very eyes of the Czar's agents, who yet never could lay their hands upon the mysterious body which was giving such continued signs of active life ? It would seem almost as if the atmospheric condition fitted to foster such forma- tion was precisely the one which might have been thought the most directly calculated to stifle its existence, as if the unrelaxed harshness of an iron-heeled police re'ginze, instead of withering up, only stimulated the perfect growth of so strange a creation. For the only other spot where a specimen of the same occult species has contrived to flourish is one which offers a remarkable analogy, in the all-pervading jealousy and harsh nature of its police system, to the poli- tical condition that hung over Poland. The political atmo- sphere of Rome has been for generations pervaded with the miasmas of espial, and inquisition, and denunciation. Secular Rome, the Rome of the Pope's temporal power, is emphatically the Land of Sbirridom, of eavesdropping pushed to the extreme of stealthy perfection, of a police not merely Argus- eyed, but which should be all over eye, for it is a police identified with a priesthood that operate through the Con- fessional. Yet in Rome there has been for years a National Committee which not only has never been itself detected, but which has contrived to effect so perfect an organization th•at not only is it in possession of every Government secret, is informed of every Government resolution as soon as adopted, but has for years carried on a clandestine press in Rome itself without its ever having been possible for the police to discover its site, or even to impede the distribution of its nublications. The only difference between the Polish and the Roman clandestine governments which may be thought to have facilitated the existence of the latter is t]is- that in Rome conspiracy has been more latent, and, therefore, has involved a less continuous, and also a less difficult task than that which fell to the lot of those who in Warsaw directed an actual movement. No doubt there is much in this difference of degree. What has hitherto been called for in Rome is comparatively fair-weather sailing to what will be required ; but still no one acquainted with the operations of the national party during the last few years, as, for instance, on the occasion of the petition to the Emperor for the with- drawal of his troops, which was notoriously circulated for sig- nature, and was hunted for by all the power of the police without even one of the slips with subscribed names falling into their clutches, can fail to be astonished at the organiza- tion exhibited. In no one instance have the Papal authori- ties succeeded in making what may be fairly considered a good haul. All recently effected in spite of perpetual perquisitions has been the occasional seizure of a few subaltern agents, the discovery of some copies of an already distri- buted publication, and never, that we can call to mind, has any- thing been really prevented, or any discovery made which seriously disconcerted the national party. By some mysteri- ous machinery which baffles all the arts of detection, the National Committee, like a Vehmgericht, knows how to cause proclamations and manifestoes, and more than that, a newspaper,—which comes out, however, at no fixed period,— to be delivered as surely as the Pope's official gazette. How they are brought no one can tell, bit at your door they arrive much more certainly than the post.

It is but natural that the present pregnant conjuncture should have led to sympathetic manifestations on tha part of this occult body. Within the last month Rome has been succes- sively inundated with three publications circulated by that mys- terious agency, which no one can describe, but every one en- counters. Of these one is an avowed official act, bearing the name of the National Committee, while of the other, one has indeed been suspected to proceed from a source foreign in some sense to this body. Take these, however, together, and we believe we shall have a pretty accurate summary of the more or less converging streams of feeling that permeate the Liberal party in Rome at this most critical moment. The recognized document is an address to the Romans, signed by the Com- mittee and dated the 14th of December, in which, while con- gratulating the population and Italy on the final emancipa- tion of the country from foreign occupation, the clandestine government urges the people not to give way to impatience, but to await in trust the hour when it will be called to re- alize the fulfilment of its long pent-up aspirations. There is nothing very remarkable beyond its general tone of mode- ration in this appeal, which, indeed, recalls to mind the colourless language so often apparent in the addresses of our parliamentary candidates, in their anxiety to avoid giving offence. Great is the contrast with the other document, which, though professing to be but the individual address of a Friar Giusto to the Romans, has been endorsed by the Com- mittee, with an appended recommendation of its tenor. This latter is an address couched in language so magnificent in colouring, so forcible in expression, and embodying ideas so subtle, that it must perplex the hard British mind to believe it a broad sheet destined for popular effect. We have here the grand utterance of one who declares himself an Italian in fibre and a man of the altar by conviction, and who, inwardly persuaded that the two are perfectly compatible, speaks to his countrymen with the eloquence of an apostle, and the peculiar accent of a mind saturated with, the blended intellectual fluid of a Dante and a St. Thomas Aquinas. But who, then, is this Friar Ginsto ? That is a question which we cannot answer ; all we feel sure of is• that he is a man of a burning eloquence, and that the whole cast of his writings is stamped with the mark of a genuine ecclesiastical origin. After carefully perusing the composi- tions bearing his name, it is impossible to consider them counterfeit productions. They are pervaded with those touches which are beyond imitation and fabrication. It is now rather more than a year since this mysterious monk's voice was first heard in Rome. Then a pamphlet of a few sheets issued from the National Press, at the head of which it was stated that the writer was." a member of the high clergy residing in Rome." This was also an address to the Romans on the part reserved to them in the ultimate working-out that great revolution which was to prove the ,"mnthesis between religion,and nationality," The fervour, the eloquence, the deep earn'estness, and striking force of its language made the publication produCe a more than ordinary effect. It penetrated into the convents, and friars in reading those pages where the doctrine of national right was expounded in forms of argument congenial to the scholastic forms of thought, felt a pinch at their hears. From that time Friar Giusto relapsed into silence—until this crown- ing hour, when again he has addressed the Romans, although this time only in a broadsheet, which, like the former pamphlet, has appended to it an official endorsement in significant italics, wherein he is called "a high dignitary of the Roman clergy." In magnificent diction the Friar calls on his immediate countrymen to be mindful of the necessity not to allow themselves to be misled by wolves in sheep's clothing into premature and inevitably injurious action, because necessarily destructive of that harmonious settlement side by side in Italy of the supreme Pontiff and the supreme Head of the Italian State, which he contemplates as the great result of the present process of transformation. From the height of a grand historical survey this monk with a tongue tipped with an eloquence that at moments bursts into quite Demosthenic flight—as when, in alluding to the Pope's an- nounced intention to leave Rome, he exclaims that this will not happen, because "Christ has declared solemnly that flight was of the hireling, not of the shepherd, to whom the fold was really entrusted,"—appeals to the intelligence and conscious dignity of a population that has never lost a sense of pride in its attribute as Roman. As we have said, the Englishman may be at a loss to seize the practical point of a manifesto which dwells on the terms of synthesis and analysis, but in Rome, and espe- cially among those sections of the Italian clergy most likely to co- operate in conciliation, such language will be understood. There is, however, a certain lay element in Rome Which it cannot be supposed will be content with such general and rather abstract views at this moment, an element more disposed to look about for concrete measures and active operations, than subtle specu- lations This element, however conservative in other sympathies, would yet concur at first with the party of action in so far that it would be indisposed to remain perfectly quiet, but rather seek to extort from the Government some positive concessions. This view has been propounded in a pamphlet entitled, The Senate of Rome and the Pope, distributed clan- destinely to a large extent in• Rome. Upon the title-page stands, "In dEdibas Maximis Roma," but we believe this superscription to be as counterfeit as the signature at the end

Stefano Porcari." The pamphlet was printed out of Rome, and without the connivance of the Roman Committee. The intention of the brochure is to draw attention to the historical antecedents of the municipality identified with the Capitol, and to engage the Romans to revive it in its ancient pre- rogatives, as an instrument towards bridging over the gulf be- tween the state of things that exists and that state of things which Italian unitarians look to. So far there is nothing to object to this publication. But at the end it contains a direct invitation to the Romans to proceed to the Capitol the day after the last French soldier has left, and there, in the face of Europe, reconstitute of their own authority the old historical commune which so often had waged war on, defied, and driven away Popes. Now, in this proposition there lies most undoubtedly, however overlaid with historical precedents, a direct revolutionary suggestion, the execution whereof would almost unavoidably precipitate a clash. In spite therefore of the many excellent points in this pamphlet, we believe that the Roman Committee declined to authorize its diffusion, on the ground that its concluding recom- mendations constituted an objectionable appeal. Nevertheless, the pamphlet was diffused all over Rome by some clandestine machinery, which on this occasion worked with as much rapidity and effectiveness as the one ordinarily set in motion by the recognized Committee, a circumstance which gives much to think of. If what we have been told is true, then it is im- possible to doubt that a second secret organization exists in Rome outside the acknowledged Committee, which represents the more advanced and impatient section, and which, to judge from this specimen, might at a given moment be in a position to attempt a coup de main on its own impulse. At all events, we think ourselves not mistaken when we affirm that the dis- tribution of this pamphlet was the work of hands not acting for the Committee, which was averse to its publication, so that here there would be something that might at a late moment lead to a practical disruption of the Liberal party in Rome into two organized sections, working on different plans, and towards distinct ends.

These three publications may, therefore, be taken to re- present very adequately the elements at this moment pervading Rome, and certain to have to be taken into account in any calculations of what is going to happen there. In the first, we have the guarded and even officially frigid language of a body which, although of illegitimate authority, is already plainly anxious to discountenance a revolutionary style. This clandestine organization issues vapid generalizations couched in language of official decorum to a population palpi- tating with excitement. In the second, we have the deep- felt ntterings of one who speaks at once as patriot and as ecclesiastical reformer, dropping words of fire, such as are precisely calculated to touch men to the quick in a situa- tion where the two elements, the spiritual and the secular, the ecclesiastic and the layman, lie inextricably locked together. It is Rome in its anomalous and two-headed nature that is here addressed, and which will feel the voice that so cries to it, while the purely lay Rome, which is both large in numbers and of a spirit fed with rather turbulent thoughts, and keen for making war on priests, will be little disposed to hearken kindly to any subtle speculation of this nature, but, on the cOntrary, will be quick to embrace those practical suggestions of a Stefano Porcari, which seem to open the way for active operations against a hated re:gime. Which will gain the ascendant of the two elements,—the more comprehensive and subtle one, which would effect a world-revolution ; or that rougher but readier one, which would deal with the Pope and Rome as they have so often been dealt with in the turbulent period of the Middle Ages ? That is the question of the hour, a question pregnant with consequences, but which no one can answer as yet.