Page images

New Coinage after an Old Model.


consolidation of their country will give them a treasury bench worth quarrelling about. At present, the great want of the country is work. And the only contention ought to be who will find it in the largest quantities; who will set in motion the most of those agencies which will diffuse an equal stream of wealth through the peninsula, and find employment for the idle masses of its population.

In no country in the world are there so many channels in which capital might be advantageously invested, in which private enterprise remains so inert, as Italy. With the finest bays and estuaries in the world, she leaves her packet service to be performed mostly by French steamers. Her few foundries-and the number might advantageously be tripled-are in the hands of Englishmen. Her wines and her olives rarely appear in a foreign market; and while capable of supplying one-half of the granaries of Europe, she actually imports grain from her poorer neighbours. Her mineral wealth is said to be inexhaustible. Yet nobody sees anything of it, beyond the marbles, which occasionally, by the most violent efforts, are shipped at Massa. What have become of the old Etrurian potteries? Why does Tuscany import her earthenware from France, who in ancient times was the great Staffordshire of foreign nations? The silks and the velvets of Italy, in the tenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, had a world-wide renown, but now they are not heard of except in old histories. The fact is, Italy no longer lives, as formerly, upon her cities, but upon her soil. She imports her artificial goods from foreign nations, and keeps the produce of her agriculture to herself. Hence the idleness and impoverishment of her population. What is wanted is an administration which will teach her to reverse each process, and so intertwine commerce with agriculture as will enable them to lend each other mutual support, and from their prolific union help the State to a revenue large enough not only to provide for its necessary wants, but to keep the aesthetic tastes of the people on a level with their material creations.

But a flourishing commerce requires, as a medium, one common system of currency. Hence, one of the first things to which the Italian Government should direct its attention, is a national coinage. In supplying the exigencies of trade, it will make a large stride in the direction of consolidation. The arms of the central government, and the effigy of one common sovereign, cannot erase the impressions of the old governments from their coins without contributing to efface them from their hearts. They would also constantly remind the population that, as conjoint brothers of one commonwealth, they have only one



national interest in common. Now this step can be attended with little difficulty. Our own government accomplished it, with three-fourths of the metallic currency clipped down by knaves, with civil war staring them in the face, with a new dynasty by no means firmly seated on an unstable throne. Let the Italian Government turn to the reign of William III., and they will there find the model of a recoinage, the successive steps of which they cannot too soon imitate, if they would give a new impetus to trade, place a fresh barrier in the way of recurrence to an obsolete past, and make a new stride in the direction of a progressive future.

It must be admitted that the difficulties which complicate the external relations of Italy are of a far more serious character than any which manacle the action of the government within, and, indeed, to a great extent prevent those internal obstacles from being swept out of the way, and thus assist them to bar up the road to further progress. Even were France out of Rome, still, as long as she holds the keys of the Alps and overawes the maritime coast of Liguria, both by sea and land, the King of Italy must exist upon the sufferance of whatever power happens to be enthroned at the Tuileries. But this affords by no means an agreeable prospect, either to the present King of Italy or his successors, whether we consider the temper of the Napoleonic brood, or the two shadows ever stalking round the couch of the imperial infant, either of which, to our mind, has a much better chance of succeeding to the throne. For if the present dynasty continues, the Sovereign of Italy must be little more than a French satrap. And if it be knocked over for an Orleanist or Legitimist successor, neither are likely to endorse, much less complete, the Italian policy of their predecessor, to which they have already sworn an unconquerable aversion. The King of Italy, therefore, having allied his throne by ties of blood and kinship to one whom they deem a tyrant and usurper, can expect little mercy at their hands. The danger on the side of Austria is of far less magnitude. For, get the German out of the quadrilateral, either by force or persuasion, pin his name to a piece of parchment, and he is not likely, except as a connoisseur, to trouble Italy again. He would not only lack the vantage ground, but the disposition to avail himself of it. For his nature is sluggish and unaggressive. He is a great stickler for treaties, and does not, like his Gallic neighbours, cross the Alps to put his sword through them whenever they interfere with his ambition. But, title-deeds in hand, he has rushed thither, either to prop up the Tuscan throne, guaranteed to his imperial House by express parchment, or to sustain those of Modena and Piacenza,

Reasons rather Feminine than otherwise.


which he held in reversion by the same sort of title. Even with this show of right, the Germans have not invaded Italy one quarter as often as the French, who, without any legal pretext whatever, have periodically come tumbling over the Alps, ostensively as the knight-errants of nations, the propagators of liberal ideas, the redressers of infinitesimal wrongs, but somehow or other never retiring before they have rifled her galleries of their best pictures, and her territory of its greenest domains. But if these chivalric visits have been paid so frequently when there were bristling fortresses to conquer and skiey Alps to surmount, what must be the danger of their recurrence when France can as easily walk into the signoria of Genoa or Turin, as her monarch can step from the gardens of St. Cloud to his drawing-room at the Tuileries.

But the prospective dangers on the side of France are nothing to the actual embarrassments created by her present position. Were she out of Rome the Italian provinces would be consolidated almost as quickly as any other compound when the one foreign element which held it in solution is removed. Victor Emmanuel would speak from the capitol of his new kingdom to the nations with the same authority as Victoria from London, or as Frederic William from Berlin. But while he is kept out of the seat of his empire by foreign bayonets, we can no more expect its present disturbed members to cohere in one organized body, than the separate parts of the human frame to form one conjoint and compact whole, while cut off from the very radix of their harmonizing principle, the heart. No national works can be inaugurated, because capitalists will not intrust their money to a government whose authority is disputed by two powerful forces upon its own territory. A nation cannot be equalized or an ample revenue raised as long as trade is paralyzed by political excitement, and public credit shaken by the national insecurity. Austria also is doubly fortified at Venice as long as France occupies Rome, who would otherwise, in the absence of so fatal an example, hold Venetia by a single thread. Europe, therefore, has a right to demand from France why she thus blocks the way on every side to the only solution of the Italian difficulty which can be contemplated by rational men; why she, who first set this ball of sulphur rolling, holds it suspended in its middle course over our heads; why she keeps a storm brooding in the political atmosphere which necessitates the exaction of colossal revenues, the retention of huge armaments, and hangs upon a pin's hook the peace of the world. The only reason which France can offer for her equivocal position at Rome is her interests as a Catholic power. Paris, of

course, does not allow religious scruples to interfere with its digestion. But then, in the country districts the curés have immense power, and they were never more inclined than they are at present to use that power in favour of the Pope. Under the old pre-revolutionary régime, when the Church was enfeoffed by the State, the French clergy were essentially Gallican. But since their estates have been swept away they have become as ultramontane as the clergy whom we rear, feed, and clothe at Maynooth for the express purpose of maintaining an authority which we make our representatives swear does not, and ought 'not to exist in these kingdoms.' The Emperor declares his inability to proceed to extremities with this powerful party, by whose aid he mounted up to the throne. France, from the days of Charles Martel downwards, has been designated the eldest son of the Church. Shall her organ commit an act for which at least more than one-third of his best subjects would denounce him as a parricide? Much better wait until the Papacy becomes reconciled to the new order of things. If reason fail, her pinching necessities may at last lead her to accept of the liberal conditions the Italian Government are disposed to concede her, and the French troops will then have the advantage of retiring with all the merit of having brought about a union between religion and liberty! These reasons, which must have weight with the French executive at any time, derive at present imperious potency from a weakened exchequer, a declining trade, and confused finances. To take that step now the American war has blotted out some sixty millions from the trade of France, would be to add spiritual rebellion to material discontent. When a man's purse is getting low, it would be the height of imprudence to alienate his friends and swell the ranks of his enemies.

We do not know that these reasons have much influence over the thoughts of the French executive, but assuredly they could have little influence over the mind of anybody else; for the French Emperor completely split with the clerical party when he launched against the Pope his satirical pamphlet* some two years and a-half ago. He has, in the interim, still more embittered their minds against him by carrying out that policy in earnest which many then thought could only have been announced as a jest. He has confiscated their journals, imprisoned their chiefs, misled their generals,† coalesced with their open and avowed enemies. He has assisted in stripping the Pope of three-fourths of his dominions in order to increase his own. He has placed a minister at the head of affairs at

Le Pape et le Congrès.

Lamoriciere at Castel Fidardo, and Francis II., General at Capua.

Considerate Treatment.


Turin who has long been the recognised exponent of the Society for the Confiscation of Church Property in the peninsula. If, therefore, the Emperor be not hated by all the Ultramontane clergy as cordially as his uncle was hated when he trundled Pious VII. in a French caravan from the Vatican to Fontainebleau, it has not been for lack of kicks and blows administered to their tenderest interests. But we believe the animosity to be far greater in his case; for the opprobrium has been accompanied with insult, and the feeling of bitterness such treatment has left, enhanced by the fact that they have been duped by the very agent who by flattering their prejudices induced them to help him to the throne. There is not one of them who would not conspire to bring back the Orleanist or Legitimist dynasty to-morrow, if they could do so with any chance of impunity or success. We cannot then for a moment believe that the French Emperor is induced to keep 20,000 French bayonets in Rome out of any sense of religious obligation to a Church which he has already aided to despoil, or from fear of turning against him the weapons of a priesthood whose feelings he has already wantonly outraged, and whose temporal interests he has trodden under foot. We should have thought, had there been any personal fear in the matter, it would have urged the Emperor to leave his clerical enemies to their fate, rather than to have allowed them to fortify the very citadel of their empire by the recruits of French legitimacy, and under the covert of his own arms, to countervail his policy and plot against his throne.

What is there which the French Emperor has refrained from doing that he should fear to allow the last act of the temporal Papacy to be played out? He has reduced it to the last extremity. He has allowed his relatives to rifle its exchequer of three-fourths of its annual revenue, and ordered his soldiers to stand guard during the operation. He has left the Pope, with the contracted resources of a mediatised German prince, to keep up the regalia of a court, to support the double incumbrances of a spiritual and temporal sovereign, to supply the funds of huge collegiate foundations, to maintain expensive legations in almost every capitol of the world. He has left him in the tattered rags of mendicancy to play the part a pompous sovereign, and forced him to send his begging-cap throughout Europe. He has obliged the cardinals to knock up their princely chateaux, to sell their carriages, to discharge their domestics, to exchange their town palaces for chaumieres, or, lodged in an attic, to lay the flattering unction to their souls, that they are prices still. We can imagine a man having some scruples during the infliction of the first stages


« PreviousContinue »