28 JULY 1855, Page 14


CERTAIN incidents that have just occurred in Italy deserve hopeful notice, as the burst of distant sunshine through the stormy clouds. We do not refer to organized "movements," with any expectation of particular results; the events mark a larger and more genuine onward movement of that kind which is not got up by particular individuals according to a scheme, but which consists in the steady progress of knowledge and conviction, and is coordinate with a pro- gress made in other countries, particularly in our own. Not very long since a humble man of the name of Cecohetti was subjected to a fine and imprisonment, on the ground of having read the Bible in his own house. It is well known that there is a certain class of Protestants in Florence, to which body the Madiai belonged, and these students of the Bible appear in most instances to be per- sons in a humble position. But there are gentlemen amongst them, and the movement is sufficiently extensive and respectable to occasion alarm to a Government which above all things desires a stationary condition. There was a time when the Government of Florence, distinguished by peculiar liberality, enjoyed a correspond- ing security in the affection and confidence of the people ; but for some few years the Grand Duke Leopold appears to have lost his trust in the earlier principles of his own reign and in those which so successfully marked the administration of Ferdinand and of the great Leopold. As police are employed to ferret out those who study the Bible, er even those who call at the houses of such people, so the very aspect of Dante's portrait occasioned uneasi- ness to the Government, and the authorities entered into proceed- ings to obliterate and disguise the effigy. They could not endure the simple alarm at the feeling created by the pictured writer who lived centuries ago! No timid government was ever powerful; no weak government could ever guarantee its own stability or the good order of the community. But Tuscany is not alone in Italy : it lies between three states whose several conditions are too re- markable not to provoke comparison. In the North lie Piedmont and Genoa, consolidated with Savoy and Sardinia under a government which takes its name from the island. The Government of King Victor Emanuel, which has re- cently brought conventual establishments under the control of the civil power, has devoted itself successfully to the improvement of finance ; has a contingent fighting for the liberties of Europe with France and England ; and has already by the strength of its pro- gress during the last seven years established its position as a lead- ing state in Europe. This is the state which alone in Italy can trust to its own subjects. With representative institutions, the Government possesses a majority in the Representative Chamber— an overwhelming majority ; and the democratic Brofferio, free to use language that parallels the freest language in our own Parlia- ment, finds it necessary to popularity, on some occasions, if not to side with the Government, at least to give it a respectful consider- ation. One little incident has just happened which connects Turin with Florence. Cecchetti has lately received from the Government of Tuscany the favour of a commutation of sentence ; his im- prisonment is commuted to exile for the remainder of the term, and he has left Florence. It was expected that he would proceed to England ; but he has found an asylum nearer home. Of course a certain protection was extended to him by the English repre- sentative in Turin—Mr. Erskine, the Chargé d'Affaires ; and in deference for English wishes, as well as for the sake of religious freedom, the Government of Sardinia has not only given a safe asylum to Cecchetti, but has found him employment in one of the Royal tobacco-manufactories. This incident will not be lost upon the rest of Italy. In Florence, a man is liable to fine and im- prisonment for the simple act of reading the Bible to his family : the same man finds safety and employment in Piedmont.

Tuscany, however, must be favourably contrasted with certain other states. Although it is degenerating, it has not arrived at the low level of Rome. If it prohibits journals and endeavours to suppress news,—even as communicated through the official organs, timidly doled out to none but privileged readers,—it does not hang

up men in a string for political opinions; families are not leaiing Florence, as they are leaving Rome, because they apprehend a re- volution which may perhaps forget all distinctions; they are not leaving Pisa as they are leaving Bologna, because a Government which has lost the respect of its subjects is unable to keep.order and put down brigandage. But the position of Naples is the most remarkable. It has a lesson for the extremes of Absolutism and of Republicanism—for those extreme parties which refuse to take account of human na- ture or of existing circumstances. Not long since the leading de- mocrat of Italy was pointing out, in the Italia e Popolo, Liberals belonging to Naples who are supposed to be engaged in a plan for the removal of the present Government in connexion with the Muralist party, which has never died out in Naples. Naples, in fact, is honeycombed with plots ; and while Mazzini is denouncing the Constitutional Saliceti, and bringing moderate Liberals into danger of liberty and life, his awn agents are said to have been discovered undermining that Government, which may in turn be called an organization competing with other conspiracies against the state. It is an extraordinary proof of the precarious position of the Government, that its Police have lately been arresting mili- tary officers in uniform and in the discharge of their duties; while the Government thus employing its Police spies against its own army, is intriguing with the Lazzaroni, who have thus become the arbiters of the state. The Muralists, it would seem, belong to the upper classes, and include officers of the army ; while the Government is competing with Mazzinians for the favour of the idlest mob in Europe. Naples recently declared that it would follow the new course of Austria in reference to Russia. In Rome, and even in Tuscany; intelligence favourable to the Allies is kept back, their reverses are immediately proclaimed abroad ; the taking of the Mamelon, for instance, is suppressed—the failure at the Malakoff is an- nounced with hot haste. The Romish journal the Armenia, whose circulation is still tolerated in Piedmont, welcomes the young King of Portugal with a series of articles maintaining that he is not the true King of that Catholic kingdom, but that he is only a puppet in the hands of the Duke of Saldanha. But the Government of Sardinia, strong in its constitutional liberties, does not .fear the idle writing of the' rmenia when it can give era:- ployment to the reader of the Bible, and allow the public at Genoa and Nice, in public meeting assembled, to petition Parliament for a reform of taxation.