And His Time
The Rev. AEneas MacDonell Dawson.
Printed by Thos. Coffey, Catholic Record Printing House.
Preface. Pius IX. And His Time. Footnotes
The history of Pius IX. will always be read with interest. His Pontificate was, indeed, eventful. In no preceding age were the annals of the Church so grandly illustrated.
The spiritual sovereignty, "with which," to use the words of a British statesman, "there is nothing on this earth that can at all compare," was crowned with surpassing glory. Doctrines which, hitherto, had been open to theological discussion, were ascertained and pronounced to be in accordance with the belief of all preceding Christian ages. The Church was enabled, through the labors of her Chief and the zeal of her Priesthood, to extend vastly the place of her tent. The life of Pius IX. himself was a marvel and a glory. None of his predecessors, not even Peter, attained to his length of days.
On the other hand, the venerable Pontiff, and, together with him, the Catholic people, were doomed to behold and lament the loss of the time-honored patrimony of St. Peter. The Papacy, however, unlike all temporal sovereignties, was able to sustain so great a loss. More ancient than its temporal power, it still survives; "not a mere antique, but in undiminished vigor."
PIUS IX. AND HIS TIME.
John Mary Count Mastai Ferreti was born at Sinigaglia, on the 13th of May, 1792. At the age of twenty-two he came to Rome. Anxious to serve the Holy Father, and yet not aspiring to the priesthood, he resolved to become a member of the Noble Guard. This the delicate state of his health forbade. Repelled by the Prince Commandant, he sought counsel of the Pope. Pius VII. pronounced that his destiny was the Cross, and advised him to devote himself to the ecclesiastical state. The words of the Holy Father were, to the youthful Mastai, as a voice from on high. He decided for the Church, and, as if in testimony that his decision was ratified in heaven, the falling-sickness left him. His studies were more than ordinarily successful, and he already gave proof of those high qualities which were afterwards so greatly developed. The distinguished Canon Graniare, his professor, little dreaming of the exalted destiny which awaited him, held him up as a pattern of excellence to his fellow-students, saying that he possessed the heart of a Pope.
Whilst yet a student, Mastai interested himself in an orphanage, which was founded by John Bonghi, a charitable mason of Rome. He spent in this institution the first seven years of his priesthood, devoting himself to the care of the orphans, who were, as yet, his only parishioners. The income which he derived from family resources was liberally applied in supplying the wants of these destitute children, and even in ministering to their recreation.
It now became his duty to accompany, as a missionary priest, Monsignore Mazi, who was appointed Vicar-Apostolic for Chili, Peru and Mexico. These countries had thrown off the yoke of Spain and adopted Republican forms of government. The Vicar-Apostolic and his companions suffered much in the course of their voyage to America. They were cast into prison, at the Island of Majorca, by Spanish officials, who took it amiss that Rome should hold direct relations with the rebellious subjects of their government. Their ship was attacked by corsairs, and was afterwards in danger from a storm. A single circumstance only need be mentioned in order to show what the faithful ministers of the Church had to endure when traversing the inhospitable steppes of the Pampas. Once, at night, they had no other shelter than a wretched cabin built with the bones of animals, which still emitted a cadaverous odour.
In those arid deserts, they suffered from thirst as well as from dearth of provisions. Great results can only be attained by equally great labors. If, after a period of privation, the travellers enjoyed no more luxurious refreshment than the waters of the crystal brook, it might well be said, "de torrente in viabibet propterea exaltabit caput." (They shall be reduced to quench their thirst in the mountain stream, and therefore shall be exalted.) The delegates of the Holy Father were received with enthusiasm by the South American populations. Meanwhile, the narrow governments that were set over those countries raised so many difficulties that the mission was only partially successful.
This mission, however, was not without benefit to the Reverend Count Mastai. It had been the means of developing the admirable qualities which he possessed. It had afforded him the opportunity of seeing many cities, as well as the manners and customs of many people. These lessons of travel were not addressed to an ordinary mind. His views were enlarged, elevated and refined by contact with so many rising or fallen civilizations, so many different nationalities, and by the spectacle of Nature, that admirable handmaid of the Divinity, with her varied splendors and her manifold wonders, astonishing no less in the immensity of the ocean than in the vast forests of the New World.
The mind appears to grow as the sphere of material life extends. Vast horizons are adapted to great souls, and prepare them for great things. The Abbe Mastai had thus received in his youth two most salutary lessons, which are often wanting to the best-tried virtues of the sacerdotal state—the lesson of the world, which Mastai had received before the time of his vocation to Holy Orders, and the lessons of travel, which disengages the mind from the bondage of local prejudices. Both of these teachers he admirably understood. He had, indeed, drank of the torrent which exalts.
Leo XII. now filled the Apostolic Chair. This Pontiff, highly appreciating the good sense and penetration of which Mastai had given proof in the difficult mission to Chili, appointed him Canon of Sancta Maria, Rome, in via lata, and, at the same time, conferred on him the dignity of Prelate. Never was the Roman purple more adorned by the learning and genuine virtue of him on whom it was bestowed.
There is at Rome an institution of charity, the greatest which that city or even the world possesses, the immense hospital of St. Michael a Ripa Grande. A whole people dwells within its vast precincts. It is at once a place of retreat for aged and infirm men, a most extensive professional school for poor girls, and a sort of workshop, on a great scale, for children that have been forsaken. The greater number learn trades. Some, who give proof of higher talents, apply, at the expense of the hospital, to the study of the fine arts. This hospital is, in itself, a world, and its government requires almost the qualities of a statesman. Pope Leo XII., anxious to render available the rare abilities of Canon Mastai, named him President of the commission which governs this great establishment. There was need, at the time, so low was the state of the hospital budget, of the nicest management, unremitting care, and the highest financial capacity. These qualities were all speedily at work, and in the course of two years all the resources of the institution were in admirable order. The fear of bankruptcy was removed, deficits of income made up, and receipts abundant.
It had not been the custom to allow to apprentice-workmen any share in the fruits of their labors. Herein Mastai effected a great and certainly not uncalled-for reform. Far from impoverishing the hospital, this liberal measure only showed, by its happy results, that justice is in perfect harmony with economy, and that the best houses are not those which make the most of the labor of their inmates, but those which encourage industry by allowing it what is just. The orphans were thus, in two years, enabled to have a small sum, which secured to them, so far, a mitigation of their lot. Meanwhile, the proceeds of the hospital were doubled. This was remarkable success. Count Mastai's reputation for administrative ability was now of the highest order.
In the Consistory of May 21st, 1827, Canon Count Mastai was named Archbishop of Spoleto. Thus did Pope Leo XII. signalize his solicitude and affection for the city of his birth. The appointment came not too soon. It required all the influence of a great mind to maintain peace at Spoleto. Party spirit ran high. One side clamored against abuses: the other, dreading all change, clung pertinaciously to the past. Wrath was treasured in every bosom. If civil war had not yet broken out, it raged already in the breasts of the people. Spoleto resembled two hostile camps, and vividly recalled the state of these cities of the Middle-Age, where stood in presence, and armed from head to heel, the undying enmities of the Ghibellins and the Guelphs. The slightest occasion would have sufficed to cause the hardly-suppressed embers of deadly strife to burst into a flame. Through the zeal and diplomacy of the Archbishop, such occasion was averted. Spoleto may yet remember, and not without emotion, how earnestly he studied to appease wild passions, with what delicacy and perseverance he labored to reconcile the terrible feuds that prevailed, to calm the dire spirit of revenge, to bury the sense of wrong in the oblivion of forgiveness. At length, in 1831 and 1832, a hopeless rebellion unfurled its blood-red banner. It was speedily and pitilessly repressed. Such an occasion only was wanting in order to show what one man can do when sustained by the power of virtue and the esteem of mankind. The foreign and Teutonic arm which conquered the insurrection had been always hateful to the Italian people; nor did its display and exercise of military force, in restoring tranquillity to the troubled State, conciliate their friendship.
Only when vanquished did the rebels appear before the walls of Spoleto. In their extremity, they came to beg for shelter and for bread. In the estimation of the benevolent Archbishop, they were as lost sheep whom it was his duty, if possible, to save. He hastened, accordingly, to meet the wolf. The Austrian General, although a stern warrior, was, at the same time, the servant of a Christian Power. He listened to the Archbishop's remonstrances, and resolved to refrain from further military proceedings, the Prelate undertaking to disarm the rebels, and thus satisfy the sad requirements of war without any recourse to useless and hateful cruelties. Returning to the city, he addressed the insurgents, and, to his unspeakable satisfaction, they at once came to lay at his feet those arms which the Austrian soldiers could only have torn from their lifeless bodies. Thus did the good pastor, by disarming, save the rebellious flock.
Mastai was now transferred to Imola. This city is less considerable than Spoleto. The diocese, however, is richer and more populous. Its Episcopal chair leads directly to the Cardinalate. It has also thrice given to the Catholic Church its Chief Pastor. The people of Spoleto sent a deputation, but in vain, to beseech the Holy Father to leave the good pastor to his affectionate flock.
He was destined also to reign in the hearts of the good people of Imola. The numerous institutions there, which owe their existence to his Episcopal zeal and Christian charity, are monuments of his pastoral care. The virtue of which Archbishop Mastai was so bright a pattern had no sourness in it, no outward show of austerity; nor was it forbidding and intolerant, but sweet and gentle. Words of forgiveness were always on his lips, and his hand was ever open to distress. He labored assiduously to reform, wherever reform was needed, but, what rarely happens, without alienating affection from the reformer. It was his constant study to elevate the character of the clergy, and he ceased not to encourage among them learning as well as piety. Into the Diocesan Seminary, which was always the object of his most anxious care, he introduced some new branches of study, such as agriculture, practical as well as theoretical, and a general knowledge of the medical art. There was yet wanting to the clergy of his diocese a common centre where they could meet for mutual edification and instruction. To this purpose he devoted his own palace, and founded there a Biblical Academy. The members of this Academy met once a month in order to discuss together some subjects connected with the Sacred Writings. None can be ignorant how powerfully such meetings contribute to promote the study of the Scriptures, pulpit eloquence, and the great science of theology. In order, moreover, to obviate the dangers to which students were exposed, who, whilst they studied at the Seminary, were not inmates, and enjoyed not the safeguards of its discipline, he founded an institution called the "Convitto," where the poorer alumni were boarded without charge.
Anxious also to provide for the comfort of the lowly poor, and to guard against all wasting of their humble means, the good Prelate reformed the hospital of Imola, and set over it the Sisters of Charity—that incomparable Order which owes its existence to the most benevolent of men, St. Vincent de Paul. Nor, in his higher state, did he forget his first care—the orphan. An orphanage at Imola is due to his munificence. There were no bounds to his liberality. At his own expense alone he repaired the tomb of St. Cassien, and decorated the Chapel of Our Lady of Dolours in the Church of the Servites.
When raised to the dignity of Cardinal, by Pope Gregory XVI., in December, 1840, Archbishop Mastai was already universally popular. The ovations of a later period may have originated in political motives—may even have been promoted by a political party; but the honors now spontaneously heaped upon him were awarded to the man and the Christian pastor. Congratulations in prose and in verse, illuminations, fireworks, demonstrations of every kind, announced the joy with which the new Cardinal was welcomed everywhere.
Gregory XVI. had the reputation of being highly conservative. In the true sense of the term, he really was so. Nevertheless, he was not averse to reform, and he showed that he was not when he elevated Archbishop Mastai, whose tendencies were well known, to the rank and office of Cardinal. More than this, in concurrence with the Great Powers of Europe, with whom he took counsel, he labored to introduce certain salutary reforms in his States. Such reforms, indeed, were needed; and the aged Pontiff resolved on them, not only in order to render unnecessary the intervention of foreign arms in the affairs of his government, but also with a view to bring his rule into harmony with the spirit and civilization of the age. If in this most laudable undertaking he did not succeed, he owed his failure to the Socialist party, those enemies of law and order, of property, and life even, whose fatal action at a later period marred the political career of Pius IX. The Roman people, generally, were capable of appreciating, and surely did appreciate, the enlightened efforts of their Pontiff Sovereign. They were not, as some writers would have us believe, in a semi-barbarous condition. Sylvio Pellico, whose testimony cannot be questioned, speaks of them in the following terms: "The eight months I have spent at Rome in 1845 and 1846 (time of Gregory XVI.) have abounded in delightful impressions. It can never be sufficiently told how well this venerable city deserves to be visited, and not in passing only. How the good and beautiful abound in it!" A little later, Pellico writes: "I continue to be quite delighted with Rome, both as regards men and things. In the small book, Dei Doceri, I have shown my inclination to avoid being absolute in my judgments, a too common error, especially with minds that dogmatize passionately. By such Rome is often unjustly judged.
"Several types of social customs must be considered as moderately good; and we cannot condemn, as decidedly bad, anything but barbarism, irreligion and a superabundance of knaves and fools. These odious elements are by no means over-abundant in this country. And in the midst of evils that are unavoidable everywhere, I observe great intellectual power, much goodness, cultivated minds, gracious and sincere generosity. Whoever comes to Rome will be morally well off as regards intelligence. He will be so, likewise, on account of the sociability of the inhabitants. The Romans are a jovial people. But even their joviality is as admirably subject to good order as it is graceful, and does not impair the natural goodness of their disposition. But perhaps I am wrong; and it were better I should assume a frowning aspect, and behold only attempts on life, importunate beggary, useless priests and monks, and reserve my praises for those happy nations where there are no crimes, no inequality of fortune, no misery. Impassioned men declaim, exaggerate, lie. For my part, I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist. It is impossible to speak with certainty of the moral of a country if we speak of it too soon. I know that here at Rome I find amiability, science and good sense. It seems to me that everything is much the same as in other civilized countries."
Such was the people over whom, on the 16th day of June, 1846, Cardinal Mastai was called to exercise authority in the twofold capacity of Pontiff and Prince. On the first day of the Conclave several votes were cast for the liberal-minded Cardinal Gizzi, and some in favor of the highly-conservative Lambruschini. The second day all joined for Mastai. And thus was elected to the Papal Chair, by the unanimous voice of the Sacred College, one of their body, who, in all the positions which he had held, as Priest, as Archbishop, as Cardinal, had shown his determination to promote reform and improvement. No better proof could be required that the Cardinals perfectly understood the state of the country, its urgent wants, its relations with the Church and the rest of the world.
There was much rejoicing in the Papal City. It seemed as if, with the elevation of a great character to high authority, the days of the Millennium had at length dawned on the distracted world. There was now question only of forgiveness for the past. Order and peace only were possible in time to come. The new Pontiff was resolved that there should be no element of sorrow to mar the general joy; and so he amnestied the political offenders who had borne arms against the government of his predecessor. Only one condition was required, viz.: that, in the future, they should fulfil the duties of good and order-loving subjects. Thus were fifteen hundred exiles restored to their families, who had lost all hope of ever seeing them again. The cases only of a small number of the ring-leaders of the rebellion were reserved for consideration, and they, too, were cheered with the hope of pardon. The preamble of the decree of amnesty, all in the Pope's own handwriting, bore the following words:
"At the time when the public joy occasioned by our accession to the office of Sovereign Pontiff caused us to experience in our inmost soul the most lively emotion, we could not avoid entertaining a feeling of sorrow when we remembered that a great number of families amongst our people could not take part in the general rejoicing, deprived, as they were, of domestic happiness.... On the other hand, we cast a look of compassion on the numerous and inexperienced youth, which, although carried away by deceitful flatterers, in the midst of political troubles, appeared to us guilty rather of allowing itself to be led astray, than of deceiving others. On this account it was that, from that moment, we cherished the thought of extending a friendly hand, and offering peace to such of these dear but misguided children as should come to us, and give proof of their sincere repentance."
Night was drawing on when the decree was posted on the walls of Rome. It was observed, however, amidst the growing darkness; and no sooner was the word amnesty read than a cry of enthusiasm was heard. People hastened from their houses in all directions, the passers-by stopped in crowds to read, by torchlight, the cabalistic words. Among the fast-assembling masses there was but one feeling. They embraced and even wept for joy. In the depth of their emotion, and whilst yet, as may be said, intoxicated with delight, they sought how to express their gratitude. The cry was raised, "To the Quirinal!" Arrived there, they hailed, with loud and united voice, the beneficent Pontiff—"Vivat Pius Nonus!" "Long live our Holy Father!" Crowd after crowd thus approached the person of the Pope. It was now late, and Pius IX., much fatigued, overwhelmed by his emotions, had withdrawn to the silence of his Oratory. Meanwhile, fresh crowds of overjoyed citizens were pressing forward. Ten thousand men, at least, were now waiting, with respectful anxiety, under the walls of the Quirinal Palace. The French Ambassador to Rome, Count Rossi, was a witness of these events. He became also their historian. He wrote thus to M. Guizot:
"Suddenly the acclamations are redoubled. I had not yet understood on what account, when some one called my attention to the light which was shining through the window-blinds at the farthest end of the Pontifical Palace. The people had observed that the Holy Father was traversing the apartment in order to reach the balcony. It was speedily thrown open, and the Sovereign Pontiff, in a white robe and scarlet mantle, made his appearance, surrounded by torches. If your Excellency (M. Guizot, at that time Minister of the French King, Louis Philippe) will only figure to yourself a magnificent place, a summer night, the sky of Rome, an immense people moved with gratitude, weeping for joy and receiving with love and reverence the benediction of their Pastor and their Prince, you will not be astonished, if I add that we have shared the general emotion, and have placed this spectacle above every thing that Rome had as yet offered to our contemplation. Just as I had foreseen, as soon as the window was closed the crowd withdrew peacefully and in perfect silence. You would have called them a people of mutes; they were satisfied."
It is not so difficult to grant an amnesty. It is delightful, even, to men of the character of Pius IX. to dispense forgiveness. This is particularly the office and the privilege of the Church. Sterner duties devolve upon the statesman. And, however reconcileable the two courses of conduct in public affairs may really be, it is difficult often to reconcile them.
The amnesty, although far from being everything, was, nevertheless, a beginning, and one of favorable omen. The furrow was opened, to use the language of M. Rossi, and no doubt the ploughing would proceed. Many formidable difficulties must, however, be surmounted. On the one hand, stood the influence of the old feudal Conservative party, which frowned on the slightest change. On the other, were the Socialists, who aimed at the destruction of every existing institution—in whose estimation property even was not sacred, nor life itself. It was necessary, meanwhile, to improve the condition of the people, and, in doing so, to guard against anarchy. By wise and well-considered reforms only could the growth and advance of revolution be discouraged and stayed, whilst a political system, almost entirely new, came to be firmly established. For this purpose, it was necessary that there should prevail in the Pontifical States a sounder state of opinion. This was not the work of a single day. It was necessary, nevertheless, as the people could not be safely led by their ever-changing emotions. Based on such quicksands, the government of the Holy Father could have no stability, and it was his aim so to form it that it should be able to keep its ground without the aid of foreign arms. The state of Italy, the peculiar position of the Pontifical States, the character of modern civilization, the spirit of the age—all conspired to produce new wants, and, at the same time, made it a matter of the greatest difficulty to meet them. "This difficulty," writes the Spanish Sage, Balmes, "it was impossible to surmount by chanting patriotic hymns any more than by having recourse to Austrian bayonets."
By none was this better understood than by Pius IX. The study of State affairs was not new to him. He had considered and lamented the condition of things which so often brought upon his country foreign invasion, the horrors of war, and punishments without end, inflicted on his fellow-citizens. It is related even that he prepared and presented to Gregory XVI. a programme of reforms, which he believed would bring the necessary remedy. Now that he was at the head of the State, he believed that the responsibility devolved on him of introducing such reforms as were called for by the exigency of the time, and by which alone he was persuaded the evils which oppressed the country could be brought to an end. It was not possible, as yet, to inaugurate any general measure of reform. In the meantime, however, the rule of the Pontiff was characterized by wise, just, humane and liberal acts, which could not fail to pave the way for the greater improvements which he meditated. Among these lesser, but by no means unimportant, reforms may be mentioned the abolition of an odious law which had long disgraced the legislation of so many Christian nations. The punishment by imprisonment for petty debts was, in the estimation of Pius IX., as unjust as it was cruel and hateful. It answered no better purpose, for the most part, than the gratification of private spite. By a generous contribution from his own funds, the Pope threw open the prisons of the Capitol. He set a great example, which could not fail to promote the cause of virtue whilst it relieved the indigent, by distributing twelve thousand Roman ecus, in the form of dowries, among the young women of poor families, whose poverty rendered an honorable settlement extremely difficult. He also encouraged collections in favor of such of the amnestied parties as were in need. His financial reforms were more important. And by these he won a title to the gratitude of the State. The public revenue was alarmingly deficient. Only by some great change could ruin be averted. First of all, he proposed that his faithful clergy should make a sacrifice; and every convent engaged to pay ten scudi yearly, and every parish priest a scudo during three consecutive years. He himself set the example of the most rigid economy by reducing the scale of his establishment. He at the same time retrenched those rich sinecures which were, so to say, engrafted on the temporalities of the Papacy. What was well worthy of a great statesman, he showed the most enlightened sympathy for all the sciences which contribute to the material and intellectual well-being of the populations, such as physiology, natural history, political economy and mathematics. Nor was he unwilling that his people should avail themselves of the knowledge of foreigners. He went so far as to intimate his intention to re-establish the celebrated Scientific Academy, Di Lincei.
He could not, as yet, by any other than such isolated acts as these, evince the elevated and liberal tendencies of his mind, in which were blended boldness with moderation, and views of reform with all that became his position, and was adapted to the wants of the country and the age.
Pius IX., although not a constitutional sovereign, and unable so to constitute himself, was anxious, nevertheless, to give to his people all the benefits of constitutional government. A first step was to choose a popular Minister, and Cardinal Gizzi was called to the counsels of the State. This Cardinal was beloved at Rome, and not undeservedly. When Legate at Forli, he had opposed the establishment of an arbitrary court, and thus won for himself the sympathies of all national reformers. His loyalty, sincerity and patriotism were well known; nor was he wanting in any other quality of the statesman. Of a patient and enquiring mind, he was incapable of coming hastily to a decision; but, when once resolved, he could not be easily diverted from his purpose. The ministry of such a man was full of promise; but in this lay its weakness. It held out hopes which, in the state of parties which at that time prevailed, it was unable to realize. There were two great parties at Rome, with neither of which the Gizzi ministry was in sympathy. There existed no party with which it could act harmoniously. There were no reformers. It would have been most fortunate for Pius IX. if such a party could have been formed, but the elements were wanting. The true idea of constitutional government was as little understood in Italy as in the rest of continental Europe. The only party at Rome who desired change were the Socialists, who identified reform with subversion, who denied every right, and sought the destruction of all existing institutions. No wonder if, in presence of such a faction, the aristocracy, so highly conservative, dreaded and opposed all change. The Socialists, whilst by the fear which they inspired strengthened the hands of the conservative party, opposed and prevented the formation of a body of reformers who, like Gizzi and Pius IX., would have labored intelligently to forward the cause of reform, never losing sight of the great principles of humanity and justice, never sacrificing to Utopian theories inalienable rights, above all the rights of property—the very groundwork of the social fabric. Without the aid and countenance of a body of reformers, the able ministry that now surrounded the Pope found it difficult to proceed. They could not determine for any important constitutional change. They could not even undertake any considerable improvement.
They were, however, not inactive. They studied to educate the people by improving and extending the public schools, and by what was, indeed, an advance in continental Europe—establishing a periodical press.
There were few cities so highly favored as Rome as regards the facilities for educating youth. Nevertheless, there was room for improvement, and Pius IX. accordingly established in the city a central school for the instruction of the youth of the operative classes. This was a school of arts and manufactures, and, at the same time, a military institution, in which the pupils were qualified to become either tradesmen or subordinate officers in the army. Whilst Cardinal Gizzi was Minister many other useful schemes met the approbation of the Pontiff, and were sanctioned by his signature.
Not a few commissions also were appointed—some for the study of railway communication in the Roman States, others for the improvement of both criminal and civil procedure, and others for the amelioration of the municipal system and the repression of vagrancy.
Rome, so richly endowed in many respects, could scarcely be said, as yet, to possess a periodical press. To establish such a press was, for the reforming ministry, a labor of love. Whilst they were preparing a law by which it should be called into existence and its liberty secured and regulated, Pius IX., in anticipation of their labors, authorized the publication of several journals. First, came the "Contemporaneo," which was followed in due time by the "Bilancia," the "Italico," the "Alba." These publications were in sympathy, at first, with the Pontiff and his reforming ministry. They advocated only rational reform, real improvement, such changes as were both practicable and useful. They had not yet discovered the excellence of the Socialist utopia. Their enthusiasm and their vivats were all for the reformer Pope.
It is far from being matter of surprise to Catholic people, at least, that the See of Rome should be the first to practice the virtues—the high morality which it teaches. In regard to their treatment of the Jewish people, the Christian nations generally stood in need of such an example as Papal Rome has always shown in her consideration for the race of Israel. The nations, although professing Christianity, have been anything but Christian in their conduct towards these people. It was their idea, one would say, that they were called of heaven to execute justice on an offending race. The Popes never believed that they or any other Christians were entrusted with such a mission. Accordingly, the Jews, when cruelly persecuted in other countries, always found protection and safety at Rome under the wing of the Pope. Even such restrictions as they were subject to, contributed to maintain them in security and peace. The Holy Father, although it was his sublime mission to preach the Gospel, could not always cause its precepts to be obeyed. If prejudice was against living on terms of charity with the Jews, was it not kind, as well as wise and politic, to assign to them a quarter of the city where only they should dwell, free from all interference on the part of the rest of the inhabitants? Pius IX. believed that the time had come when a more liberal arrangement might be advantageously adopted. In pursuance of this conviction, he regulated that the Jews should enjoy the privilege of establishing their habitations wherever they should deem it most suitable, that they should be governed by the same laws as the other citizens, and in no way be treated as a foreign people. Such of them as stood in need of assistance Pius IX. admitted to a share in his benefactions, and without occasioning the slightest murmur on the part of his Christian subjects.
The Jews, whilst considered as foreigners in Rome, were subject to the custom of coming yearly to the Capitol to pay tribute. With this custom the Holy Father generously dispensed. All this liberality and kindness were highly appreciated. The Jewish people generally beheld in the wise and Holy Pontiff the looked-for Messiah. The aged Rabbins, more considerate, affirmed only that the Pope was a great prophet. The chief of the Synagogue, Moses Kassan, composed in his honor a canticle marked by poetic inspiration. It extols and blesses the Holy Father for having gathered together in the same barque all the children whom God had confided to his care ... for having snatched from the contempt of nations, and sheltered under his wing, a persecuted people.
There being many Christians of the United Greek rite throughout the dominions of the Sultan, it was necessary that the Holy Father should negotiate, occasionally, with the successor of Mahomet. Pius IX. yielded not to any of his predecessors in zeal for the welfare of all Catholic people. Those who lived and often suffered under the Moslem yoke were, especially, objects of his fatherly solicitude. Policy had not yet brought the Cross into the same field of strife in union with the Crescent, when, on the 20th of February, 1847, the portals of the Quirinal were thrown open to the Ambassador of the Sublime Porte. To the Jews the Rome of Pius IX. was as a new Jerusalem. Islamism, from its tottering throne at Constantinople, looked towards it with hope and rapture.
The armed protection of Christians in the Turkish dominions, by the great European Powers, was, no doubt, galling to the Sultan's court. It was, therefore, ardently desired, we can readily believe, to place the Christians of the Levant under the peaceful guardianship of the Roman Pontiff. The Embassy may also have had other objects in view. Be this as it may, it was new and quite extraordinary to behold the representative of the prophet at the palace of the Sovereign Pontiff. No wonder if all Europe was moved to admiration. The presentation was very solemn—in the high ceremonial of Eastern lands. Chekif Effendi, the Turkish Ambassador, saluted the Holy Father in Oriental style, and addressed to him a magnificent oration, which was richly interspersed with metaphors—the pearls and diamonds of his country's eloquence. The Sublime Porte was compared to the Queen of Sheba, and Pius IX. to King Solomon. Whatever may be thought of the figures, the sentiments expressed in the speech were appropriate and affecting. The Pope replied by assuring the Ambassador that he was anxious to cultivate friendly relations with the Sultan, his master. Three days later Chekif Effendi took his departure from Rome, bearing with him on his breast, as a nishun (decoration), the portrait of the Holy Father.
This Embassy was more than mere show—more than an interchange of friendly sentiments. It enabled the Pope to adopt a measure which was calculated to be highly beneficial to the Christians of the East. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem was restored. And thus was accomplished a wonderful revolution in European diplomacy as regarded the Eastern world. At the request of the Porte, the Latin Patriarch became bound to reside in the city of Jerusalem. In the confidential position which he held there, he was the natural protector of the Catholic subjects of the Sultan. In addition to the duties of his sacred office, he was, as a consul, appointed by the Holy See to watch over the interests of religion—interests as important, surely, as those of trade and worldly policy. The first whom the Pope named to the dignity of Latin Patriarch was Monsignore Valergo, who had formerly been a missionary at Paris.
There appears to have been something irresistibly attractive in the character of Pius IX. That illustrious champion of Ireland and of liberty, Daniel O'Connell, resolved, towards the close of his days, to visit Rome and pay the homage of a kindred spirit to the Holy Father. Not only was he anxious to be enriched with the choicest heavenly benedictions, whilst kneeling reverently at the shrine of the Apostles, but he desired also, with a fervor which finds place only in the most nobly-moulded souls, whose love of liberty and whose patriotism are unfeigned and pure, to hold communion with one who was, no less than himself, a friend of liberty, and whose exalted station, and whose high duties towards mankind at large, hindered him not from laboring, as did Ireland's patriot, to liberate his country, not, indeed, from such cruel bondage as that under which the land of O'Connell had for so many ages groaned, but from the no less dangerous tyranny of abuses which, like weeds that grow most luxuriantly in the richest soil, it becomes necessary, in due season, to extirpate.
It was not, however, appointed that Ireland's liberator should ever see Rome. His illness continued to increase. No sooner had he reached the shores of Italy than the strength of his once powerful frame declined rapidly, and he was unable to proceed. Arrived at Genoa, O'Connell understood that his last hour on earth was near at hand. He now expressed the wish that his heart should rest in the Holy City. Thither, accordingly, it was borne by friendly hands to commingle with the consecrated dust of heroes, saints and martyrs. To Rome it was a relic of incomparable price. Although cold and inanimate, it was still eloquent in death, and grandly emblematic of all that he had been to whom it was the centre of life, and to whose generous impulses it had so long and so faithfully beat responsive.
That son of O'Connell who bore his name, together with the Rev. Dr. Miley, of Dublin, who had accompanied him to Genoa and ministered to him in his last hours, now proceeded to Rome and sought the presence of the Holy Father. On their arrival at the Quirinal, the halls and ante-chambers were already filled with groups of personages in every style of costume, from the glittering uniform to the cowl. The travellers, therefore, must wait till all these have had an audience. But no. The name of O'Connell, as if possessed of talismanic power, caused them to be at once admitted to the presence of the Holy Father. The reception was most cordial. "Since the happiness I had so much longed for," said the Pontiff, "was not reserved for me, to behold and embrace the hero of Christianity, let me, at least, have the consolation to embrace his son." "As he spoke," writes Dr. Miley, "he drew the son of O'Connell to his bosom and embraced him, not unmoved, with the tenderness of a father and a friend. Then, with an emotion which stirred our hearts within us, this great Father of the faithful poured out his benign and loving soul in words of comfort, which proved that it was not new to him to pour the balm of heaven into broken and wounded hearts." "His death," said the Pontiff, "was blessed. I have read the letter in which his last moments were described with the greatest consolation." The Pope then proceeded to eulogize the liberator, as the great champion of religion and the Church, as the father of his people and the glory of the whole Christian world. "How else," observed Monsignore Cullen, late Cardinal Archbishop of Dublin, who was present, "could the Pope have spoken of him than he has done, even if he had been the bosom friend of the liberator, as well as the ardent admirer of his career." Nor must we fail to record the terms in which the venerable Pontiff, on this memorable occasion, referred to Ireland. The thought of O'Connell was one with that of his native Erin. Death, even, could not sever them. Whilst the living image of grief and bereavement stood in his presence, the Holy Father could not refrain from giving expression to his paternal sympathy. But, at the same time, the country of O'Connell was not forgotten. Writes Dr. Miley: "While he spoke of the sufferings of the Irish, of their fidelity, of his solicitude and his hopes regarding them, it was beautiful and impressive beyond my power to describe, to observe that countenance, which, like a mirror, reflects the charity, the compassionate care, the fortitude, with a hundred other sentiments divine, which are never dormant within his breast."
Pius IX., anxious that due honor should be done to the memory of O'Connell, gave orders for the celebration of a solemn funeral service, and intimated his will and command that it should be celebrated in his name. "The achievements also of his wonderful existence I desire to be commemorated and made known to the world"—not that this is necessary, "because," said the Pontiff with a sublime look and gesture, "his grand career was ever in the face of heaven—he always stood up for legality—he had nothing to hide; and it was this, with his unshaken fidelity and reverence for religion, that secured his triumph." It is only justice to the people of Rome to state that they vied with the Sovereign Pontiff, the magnates of their country and the representatives of European nations at the Holy City, in doing honor to the memory of O'Connell. "From the Campus Martius," writes Dr. Miley, "and the Roman Forum, from both sides of the Tiber, and from all the seven hills and their interjacent valleys, this people, who grow up from infancy with the trophies of thirty centuries of greatness around them on every hand, assembled with enthusiasm to supplicate heaven for the eternal happiness of Ireland's liberator, and to exult in the wonders he had achieved, as if he had been their own." The greatest homage paid by Rome on this melancholy occasion, was undoubtedly, the funeral oration, which was spoken by the Bossuet of Italy, the celebrated preacher, Father Ventura, the friend and fellow-student of Pius IX. This most eloquent discourse was listened to with attention and delight by the vast congregation that had gathered round the cenotaph of the immortal patriot. Let a passage or two here suffice to give an idea of the magnificent panegyric:
"It is, then, because these two loves—the love of religion and the love of liberty, common to all good Princes, to all great minds, to all truly learned men, to all elevated souls, to all generous hearts might be said to be personified in Daniel O'Connell—because in him they manifested themselves in all the perfection of their nature—in all the energy of their deeply-felt conviction—in all the potency of their strength—in all the splendor of their magnificence, and in all the glory of their triumph; it is because of all this that this singular man—who was born and has lived at such a distance from Rome—is now admired, is now wept for by you, as if he had been born in the midst of you. Hence it is that this great character, this sublime nature, has awakened all your sympathies."
O'Connell had studied for some time at the College of St. Omer, in France. What he saw and learned in that country is ably described by the Italian orator:
"He saw with his own eyes monarchy compelled to degrade itself, and to inflict its death-wound with its own hand; he saw the throne that base courtiers had dragged through the mire defiled by the grip of parricidal hands, and buried, fathoms deep, beneath a sea of blood; he saw the best of kings expire upon a scaffold, the victim not less of other men's crimes than of his own weakness; he saw that vice was hailed, as if it were virtue, wickedness uplifted, as if it were morality atheism, proclaimed aloud, as if it were religion; that the 'Goddess of Reason' (or rather a vile strumpet) was recognized as the only Deity, and honored with hecatombs of human victims; the people decimated and oppressed by cruel tyrants, in the name of the people; whilst beneath the shade of the tree of liberty was instituted universal slavery; and that the most Christian, as well as the most civilized of all nations, had fallen down to the lowest limits of impiety and barbarism.
"Now, God having so disposed that the young O'Connell should be witness of these events—the most celebrated and the most instructive to be found in the annals of history—they served to inspire him with the greatest horror for tumults and rebellion; they persuaded him that there is nothing more insane, and, at the same time, more pernicious than to proclaim the rights of man, in trampling upon those of heaven—in establishing liberty on the ruins of religion—in making laws, under the dictation of passion, or through the inspiration of sacrilege—and, finally, they convinced him, that to regenerate a people, religion is omnipotent—philosophy of little or no avail."
In alluding to the well-known piety of O'Connell, the preacher said: "What more moving spectacle than to see the greatest man in the United Kingdom—to see him, who was the object of Ireland's devotion, of England's fear, and of the world's admiration, kneeling with the people before the altar, practicing the piety of the people, with that humble simplicity, that recollection, that devoutness, and that modesty, which supercilious science and stolid pride abandon as things fit only to be followed by those whom they disdain as the people?"
It is matter of notoriety that the Tory party, whose death-knell was soon to be tolled, constantly poured on the great Irish Tribune the most scurrilous abuse. One of the mock titles with which they honored him was that of "King of the Beggars." Such pitiful ribaldry awakened the highest powers of the Roman orator. "Poor, miserable, and most pitiful fatuity which, while intending to mock, actually did him honor. For, what sovereignty is more beautiful than that whose tribute is not wrung from unwilling fear, but that is a voluntary, love-inspired offering? What sovereignty is more glorious than that whose sword is the pen, and whose only artillery the tongue; whose only couriers are the poor, and its sole bodyguard the affections of the people? What sovereignty more beneficent than that which, far from causing tears to flow, dries them; which, far from shedding blood, stanches it; which, far from immolating life, preserves it; which, far from pressing down upon the people, elevates them; which, far from forging chains, breaks them; and which always maintains order, harmony and peace, without ever inflicting the slightest aggression on liberty? Where is the monarch who would not esteem himself happy in reigning thus? Of such a sovereignty, we may with truth say what was said of Solomon's, that none can equal its grandeur, its glory and its magnificence."
So favorable an opportunity for instructing the Italians was not thrown away. False liberty was already strewing their path with its meretricious allurements. "As true liberty diffuses around it peace and grace and calm, so does false liberty disseminate, wherever it is implanted, terror, dismay and horror. The brows of one are illuminated with the splendid halo of order, and those of the other are covered with the red cap of anarchy. One holds in her hand the olive-branch of peace; the other waves the torch of discord. One is arrayed in robes white as those of innocence, and the other is enveloped in the dark, blood-stained mantle of guilt. One is the prop of thrones; the other a yawning abyss beneath them. One is the glory and the happiness of nations; the other their disgrace and their punishment. The latter bursts out of hell as if it were a poisonous blast issuing from the jaws of the devil himself; whilst true liberty descends sweetly and gently upon the earth, as if the spirit of God had sent it down to us a holy and blessed thing from heaven. Ubi spiritus Domini ibi Libertas."
None will be surprised to learn that on hearing these singularly eloquent words, the immense auditory could no longer control their emotions. A general murmur of approbation was heard throughout the vast temple and was breaking out into loud applause, when the preacher, mindful of the reverence due to the holy place, made haste to repress it.
This great demonstration may well be considered as the best testimony that could be given as to the real sentiments of the Italian people. They were not ignorant of the nature of that liberty for which O'Connell had so long and successfully contended. Nor were they under any erroneous impression as to what the gifted preacher meant when he extolled in such glowing terms that true liberty which is the glory, at once, and the best security of nations. If, a little later, they pursued the phantom instead of the reality, it must be considered that, as yet, they had no political education or experience, and that no high-principled Tribune, like O'Connell, stood forward to lead them. All who aspired to guide them, and who won their confidence, were tainted with the doctrines of the Socialist party, whose ideas of government and liberty were utterly utopian.
If it could be said that public rejoicings afforded any assistance to the Pope, in his labors as the head of the Roman State, he was not left without aid in his great undertakings. Such things, however, rather hindered than promoted his endeavors. His people had, so to say, commenced, under his auspices, a long and laborious journey. There was no time for mere pleasure and amusement. Nevertheless, whenever a new scene or landscape opened to their view, they stopped to rejoice, and gave themselves up, without control, to the intoxication of delight. In so doing they laid themselves open to the snares and attacks of many secret enemies, who availed themselves of their frequent gatherings to sow the seeds of discord and corrupt their minds with false political doctrines. Far better would it have been if they had left to the Sovereign in whom, at first, they placed unbounded confidence, and the wise Ministers whom he called to his counsels, the care of forwarding the cause of reform. It had been most benevolently and successfully begun, and was proceeding, in the estimation of all but an impatient people, with rapidity which had no parallel in the history of nations. The people, by assembling tumultuously on occasion of every popular measure, no doubt meant no more at first than to show gratitude and affection to their pastor and prince. Such meetings, however, were not without danger to the cause of reform. The political enemies of the Pope easily foresaw that, by his wise and popular improvements in the State, he would certainly secure to himself a peaceful, strong and glorious reign. So, laying hold of the general enthusiasm, they trained and disciplined to their will a people who were naturally good and unsuspecting. These men came at length to give the watchword, and, according to their wishes and the views which it suited them to insinuate into the popular mind, the uneducated and fickle multitude expressed satisfaction or discontent, as they defiled in imposing masses before the mansion of the Pontiff. Thus was formed a sort of government out of doors, which, if it did not yet oppose or appear to oppose at least, powerfully swayed the official authority. Cardinal Gizzi, whose ministry was so popular, deemed it necessary to require by proclamation that these noisy demonstrations should cease. It was too late. The people, defying the Cardinal's mandate, hastened in crowds to the Quirinal, saluted, as usual, the Pope with enthusiastic vivats, expressing, at the same time, their detestation of his ministry, which they were wont to applaud so loudly, and which, if it had not by any great activity done much to acquire, had certainly done nothing to forfeit their favor. "Viva Pio Nono! Pio Nono Solo!" was now their cry. The Pope himself next came to be considered as intolerably dilatory in preparing measures of reform. Nor did he escape the accusation, at the same time, of sacrificing to his zeal, as a temporal ruler, the higher duties which he owed to religion and the Church. According to one set of revilers, he was breaking with inviolable tradition. Others insisted that so enthusiastic a reformer of the State must be a revolutionist in the Church. Such attacks were met by anticipation in the Encyclical of 9th November, 1846. This well-known document was received with applause by the civilized world. It leaves no ground for the charges in question. It would only destroy the Church to pretend to reform its dogma and revolutionize its discipline and government. Such an idea could proceed from no other source than the stratagems of unbelief, or from the snares of the wolf, who, in sheep's clothing, seeks to insinuate himself into the fold. It is nothing short of sacrilege to hold that religion is susceptible of progress or improvement, as if it were a philosophical discovery, which could advance with the march of science. The Holy Father enumerates also in this Encyclical the principal grounds of faith, and exhorts all bishops to oppose with all their zeal and learning those who, alleging progress as their motive, perversely endeavor to destroy religion by subjecting it to every man's individual judgment. He condemns indifference as regards religion, eloquently defends ecclesiastical celibacy, and, mindful that the Church is the teacher of the great as well as of the humble, he enforces the obligations of sovereigns towards their subjects, not forgetting the fulfilment of all the duties which the people owe to their rulers. In a former Encyclical, Pius IX. had expressed his predilection for the religious orders. This expression was now renewed. Time may have interfered, more or less, with their discipline. Anxious to preserve them and promote their prosperity, he was ever willing to correct such abuses as may have existed. To some communities he offered the most admirable suggestions. Others he honored with personal visits, evincing always a truly pastoral zeal for the well-being of institutions so precious to religion.
Pius IX., although deeply occupied with affairs of State that would have commanded all the attention and energy of any ordinary mind, found time, nevertheless, for the discharge of duties of a still higher order. He never forgot that he was the Bishop as well as the Sovereign of Rome. The Romans, although inhabiting the Holy City, like all other people, stood in need of the instructions and warnings of religion. The Pope was aware, besides, that bad habits prevailed, such as profane swearing, luxurious living, the neglect of parents in the training of their children. The knowledge of such things grieved him exceedingly. He now resolved to have recourse to a measure which was as striking as it was unexpected. In the trying days of the Crusaders, and moved by their zeal for the safety of Christendom, the Popes of an earlier time had addressed, as the ministers of God, immense public assemblages. No Pope, however, had appeared in the pulpit since Gregory VII. The Church of St. Andrew, where the eloquent Father Ventura was accustomed to preach, was selected, but, lest there should be too great a crowd, no notice of the Pope's intention was published. At half-past three o'clock on a Sunday afternoon, just as the congregation were expecting to see Abbate Ventura enter the church, the Pope himself made his appearance. The sermon was not a long one; but it was memorable, and to be long remembered. "In this city," said the Holy Father, "which is the centre of Catholicity, there are men who insult the holy name of God by profane and blasphemous language. On all those who now hear me I lay this charge: publish everywhere that I have no hope for such men. They cast in the face of Heaven the stone which will, one day, recoil upon them and crush them. I would also most earnestly exhort you as regards the duty of fasting. Many fathers and mothers come to me in order to impart to me the sorrow which they experience in considering the melancholy fact which cannot escape their observation, that the demon of uncleanness exercises a destructive empire over the youth of Rome. Our Lord Himself in the Holy Gospel assures us that, by no other means than prayer and fasting, is it possible to overcome this demon who poisons the sources of life and works the ruin of immortal souls." The sermon, although comparatively short, spoke of the chief obligations of a Christian life. It was delivered with great unction, and the Holy Father concluded with a fervent prayer for Rome and the Roman State. "Look down upon this vine, O Lord, which Thy right hand hath planted! Look upon it in mercy, and remove from it the hand of iron which weighs so heavily upon it. Pour into the bosoms of the rising generations those two most precious attributes of youth,—modesty and a teachable mind. Listen to my prayer, O Lord, and bestow upon this congregation, on this city and all people, Thy most precious blessings."
Appropriate gesticulations added to the power of words. Another influence, also, came in aid,—an influence peculiar to Pius IX.,—that indescribable expression of goodness which lighted up his countenance as he spoke. The people, whose feelings are naturally fine, were moved even to tears and sighs. The occasion itself was well calculated to move the minds of a Catholic audience. It was an element, no doubt, which, together with the eloquence of the preacher, and the power of apostolic preaching, could not fail to produce a profound impression. And, indeed, the whole congregation were filled with enthusiasm.
Whilst thus finding consolation in the exercise of his sublime ministry, the benevolent Pontiff was destined to encounter formidable attacks on the part of political opponents. On the one hand, the ultra-Conservatives, who held in abomination the mere idea of reform, endeavored by every means to confound in the popular mind the beneficial measures which the Pope was introducing into the economy of the State, with radical changes in the most essential points of religion itself. The Socialists, on the other hand, studied to excite the people and increase their impatience by misrepresenting all the acts of the ministry, and causing it to be believed that, by the delay which was unavoidable in labors of such magnitude and importance, they were only abusing the confidence of the sovereign and betraying the cause of reform. Some remains of chivalry might have been expected in the ranks of the high Conservative party. But, alas! too truly the age of chivalry was gone, and these sticklers for the usages of a bygone age, only showed by their modes of proceeding that they clung to an empty and inanimate form of things from which life and substance had departed. As was related at the time, they stepped down to the depths of calumny and published a cruel libel, in which the Holy Father was held up to the scorn of all right-thinking men as an "intruder," "an enemy of Religion," "the chief of Young Italy." In the estimation of such men discretion is the better part of valor. But whilst they fought with the coward's weapon—slander—they could not wholly escape detection. Their libel was seized in the hands of a colporteur. This wretched man offered to disclose the names of the libellers. Pius IX. declined his offer, generously forgave him the offence, and even bestowed upon him a sum of money in order to induce him and enable him to give up his nefarious trade.
Meanwhile, there was at Rome a still more numerous body who sustained the policy of the Holy Father. These friends of order, it is most pleasing to record, made every effort to aid him in carrying out the measures of reform which he contemplated. This influential body of faithful and patriotic citizens, who can never be sufficiently praised, organized a considerable force which kept the populace in check. This party consisted, chiefly, of the burghers of Rome. They were encouraged and headed by the higher nobles, such as the Borghese, the Rospigliosi, the Riguano, the Piombino, and the Aldobrandini. Acting as a noble guard, they were able to preserve order in the city, when, on occasion of celebrating the memorable amnesty, it was seriously threatened by the factions. They were, indeed, a party of reform, order-loving and law-abiding. It can never be sufficiently regretted that, unaccustomed as they were to political turmoil, they knew not how to keep their ground in the face of new dangers which arose so soon.
The health of Cardinal Gizzi had begun to decline. The toils of office were not calculated to improve it, and so he relinquished a post which was, every day, becoming more onerous and difficult. There was another Cardinal whose high character had endeared him to the Romans. Ability and learning were not his only qualities. He was energetic and resolute, faithful, straightforward and self-sacrificing. When the dread scourge of cholera swept over his episcopal city and impoverished his people, Cardinal Ferretti gave up for the relief of the sufferers all that he possessed—money, clothing, plate, furniture, and remained in his empty Palace, as destitute as a pauper. To this eminent Cardinal Pius IX. appealed, offering him the high office which Gizzi could no longer hold. On 26th July, 1847, the new Chief Minister arrived at Rome. He was warmly received. The citizens gave him an ovation.
Shortly before his arrival, news had come to Rome that Austrian troops were marching on Ferrara, a city of the Papal States. They were, indeed, entitled, by the treaty of 1815, to occupy this fortress, as well as that of Camachio. They could urge no better excuse for a display of military power in the Pope's States on occasion of the threatened disturbance of 16th July. This parade was only the prelude to further military operations. On 13th August, General Count Auesperg occupied all the posts of Ferrara. Whatever may be said as to treaty rights, this was, undoubtedly, an insult to the Papal flag. The most energetic remonstrances were immediately addressed to the Cabinet of Vienna. Austria endeavored to justify her proceeding by a wide interpretation of the right of occupation, by alleging the disturbed state of the public mind at Rome, and by insisting on certain precedents. But to no purpose. The diplomacy of Ferretti contended successfully with that of Metternich. And Austria, yielding with the best grace possible to the representations of the Holy Father, evacuated Ferrara.
The Pope, far from allowing himself to be disquieted by the presence in his States of Croat troops, proceeded with the work of reform which he had undertaken, slowly, indeed, but with energy and perseverance. In these labors of the statesman, he was ably aided by the Cardinal Minister Ferretti. A promise was given that before the end of the year two great political and administrative institutions would be called into existence. Accordingly, so early as the month of October, two State papers appeared, the one instituting the municipality of Rome, which was to be called the Senate, the other decreeing an assembly that should be, to a certain extent, representative, under the name of Council of State (consulta). The City of Rome had not, for a long time, possessed, like the other cities of the Pontifical States, municipal institutions. It was now ordained that there should be a City Council, consisting of the mayor (in the language of the country, Senator), with eight colleagues and a hundred other members. This is not unlike our own municipal magistracy, wherein are the mayor, aldermen and common councilmen or councillors. With us, however, aldermen could hardly be called the colleagues of the mayor. This functionary stands alone in his worshipful dignity. The first nomination of the members of this municipal body was reserved to the Pope. But it was appointed that, ever after, it should be chosen by free popular election. None will question the wisdom and liberality of the language in which the Pope expressed himself in the preamble to the new law. "When we were called by Divine Providence to govern the Church and the State, our paternal solicitude was at once directed to every portion of the Dominion subjected to our Government, but especially towards the capital, the chief of all our cities, to which it is consoling for us to devote our watchings and our labors. What was, above all, important, and what we think will be a subject of joy to all, is the restoration to this beloved city of its ancient glory of communal representation, by granting to it a deliberative council. The study of this project has been particularly pleasing to us, and we have not allowed ourselves to be discouraged by any difficulty." This important decree was published on the 2nd day of October, 1847. On the following day there was a national festival. The people were in raptures, and loudly demonstrated their gratitude to the Holy Father for an institution which recalled the glorious associations of ancient Rome, and restored it to its place and rank among modern cities. The Cardinal-prince Altieri was named president. He opened the first session of the municipal council by a speech which was marked by the homage paid therein to Pius IX. "He considered not," said the orator, "whether the work be difficult. He sees its utility and hesitates not." The council almost unanimously elected to the post of Senator (Mayor) Prince Corsini, who was, at that time, devoted to the policy of the reforming Pontiff.
A measure of more general importance now occupied the attention of the Sovereign Pontiff and his Ministers. The Council of State (consulta) was established. It was a deliberative assembly. It was not sovereign, but possessed the right to advise the Sovereign. There were twenty-four councillors. The President was a Cardinal Legate. Each councillor was chosen by the Pope from a list of three candidates presented by each Province of the Pontifical States. The Council was divided into four sections, whose office it was to prepare laws relating to the Departments of Finance, Home Affairs, Public Works and Justice. It was the duty also of these four Committees to hold a general meeting on certain days, in order to take counsel together on the draughts of proposed laws which they had separately prepared. On the 25th November, 1847, the National Representatives met for the first time. Their place of meeting was the throne-room of the Quirinal Palace. Cardinal Antonelli was the first President. The proceedings were commenced, and most appropriately, by a respectful address to the Holy Father. It was well known to Pius IX. that the creation of this institution had awakened exaggerated and premature hopes in the minds of a portion of the people, and that some of the Deputies were not disinclined to encourage them. So he considered it necessary, in his reply, to define, in a very decided manner, the true character and functions of the National Representative Body. "It is chiefly," said he, "in order that I may become better acquainted with the wants of my people, and that I may better provide for the exigencies of the State, that I have called you together. I am prepared, in time, to do everything, without, however, diminishing the Sovereignty of the Pontificate. That man would be grievously mistaken who should behold in the functions which devolve on you, or in your institution itself, his own Utopias, or the commencement of anything incompatible with the Pontifical Sovereignty." In concluding, he spoke in a still more determined tone, and reproached his people with the ingratitude which they had already begun to manifest. "There are some persons who, having nothing to lose, wish for disorder and insurrection, and go so far as to make a bad use even of our concessions."
There was in this Council a commencement of representative government. Deputies from the Provinces assembled—deliberated. They heard a Speech from the Throne. They presented an address in reply. In due time this germ of constitutional monarchy would be developed. But the Sovereign would not proceed rashly. The full measure of reform, he was well aware, must, like all great works, be the fruit of time, of much labor and patient consideration.
Count Rossi, the French Ambassador, considered that it was already time to introduce a lay element into the political administration of the Papal States. The Holy Father, accordingly, after due consideration, appointed some distinguished laymen to the Ministry. In so doing, no doubt, he sacrificed time-honored usage; but not so much to the wishes of his friends and allies, as to the spirit of the age, which, whether right or wrong, will have men of the world to deal with the world.
Italy, although divided into several States, looked to Rome as its centre and its capital. Whatever occurred in the city of the Popes was at once known throughout the whole peninsula. Such important and unlooked-for measures of reform as were now carried into effect could not fail, as they were communicated, to affect deeply the Italian mind. Public opinion was aroused. The most profound sympathy was everywhere felt and expressed. Liberty had revived under the auspices of Religion. It had emanated as a new blessing from the Cross. The Chief of Religion, the Father of the Faithful, had become its High Priest. His name was held in benediction. His praises were proclaimed not only by the Italian people, but also by every civilized nation. It was no longer violence—no longer insurrection—that contended for liberty. The greatest of all sovereigns had announced its reign. It was not indebted to any secret society. It relied upon society at large. It rested secure, so men believed, on the firm foundation of enlightened public opinion. Philosophy, as represented by M. Cousin, hailed its advent. The statesmanship of France, headed by M. Thiers, extolled its champion. Protestantism, forgetting its illiberal prejudices, re-echoed with enthusiasm the warm vivats of reformed Italy. Pius IX., meanwhile, enjoyed his reward,—not in the flattering echo of the thousand voices which sounded his praise, but in the one still voice of approving conscience. He was consoled, moreover, by a profound conviction that the cause which he had taken in hand would, one day, prove triumphant.
With every new concession came the desire for further change. The people generally were satisfied, even grateful, and they frequently expressed their gratitude in the most sincere and enthusiastic manner. They were not, however, all sincere. There were not wanting those who studied only to make available for their own ends the tumultuous gatherings and warm expressions of satisfaction in which the people so often indulged. This was the Socialist faction. It aimed at nothing less than to establish a Republic—a Republic, one and undivided, or, as it has been called, because of its cruel and blood-thirsty character, the Red Republic.
With a view to the establishment of such a Republic, the men of this party took advantage of the numerous assemblages, which could not now either be regulated or diminished in number, to gain new friends, to increase popular excitement, and so to discipline it as to bring it, through some favorite demagogues, under their control. It will shortly be seen with what a dangerous weapon they were arming themselves. It can scarcely be doubted that but for the machinations of these factionists and their influence with the masses, which was every day increasing, Pius IX. would have succeeded in establishing a system of government as constitutional and as free as was at all compatible with his own rights as sovereign. These rights he was not at liberty to abandon. No greater measure of political freedom could be reasonably desired by any people. From all history it is manifest that liberty is as fully enjoyed, and established on a more secure and permanent basis, under the fostering auspices of a constitutional monarchy, than in the best regulated republics. Such a form of government may indeed be said to be more republican than monarchical. But although possessing many properties, and all the popular advantages of a Republic, it does not cease to be a monarchy. The kingly dignity still remains with all that appertains to it, and is an essential element of its constitution. Such was the monarchy that Pius IX. desired to retain, and which he was bound in conscience, he believed, never to relinquish. That in this he was sincere his high character bears witness. Never was there a less selfish sovereign, or a man of more upright mind and sounder judgment. No prince ever held less to prerogative. Essential rights he was firmly resolved to maintain, whilst he never would have shrunk from any legitimate concession. Whatever was adapted to the time and the circumstances of his country, useful to his people, and conformable to a well-informed and sound public opinion, he was prepared to introduce into the economy of the State. But, the complete secularization of public power in the Pontifical States, in other words, the establishment of a Republic based on anti-Christian principles,—the Red Republic,—could never for a moment be contemplated. What may be called the consultative Government had just entered upon the discharge of its duties, when Pius IX. resolved to render it completely representative. This important resolution was the subject of frequent conversations with M. Rossi, at the time ambassador at Rome of the French constitutional monarchy. M. Rossi wrote as follows, to his government, in January, 1848:
"It is a problem which, after much reflection, I consider may be solved. The divisions of sovereignty in the world have been numerous and diverse. And as they lasted for ages, we might even try one more, beginning by separating entirely the temporal from the spiritual—the Pope from the King. Only it would be necessary to leave wholly to the spiritual, and the clergy, matters which with us are mixed."
Not many days later, the ambassador imparted to his government this more decided intelligence: "The Pope will shortly grant the constitution. It is his serious and constant study." M. Rossi earnestly recommended that there should be no delay in adopting this important measure. It would, he conceived, put an end to agitation,—a most desirable result, surely, when it is considered how fatal to the cause of liberty and reform might any day become the too frequent tumultuous assemblages which, once constitutional government was established, would necessarily cease.
The Pope held the same idea as the eminent diplomatist. The great idea was as yet, however, far from being realized. A new and most serious difficulty unexpectedly arose. On the 5th of March, 1848, a courier arrived, bearing the startling intelligence that the constitutional monarchy of France had fallen, and that a Republic was established at Paris. No greater misfortune could have befallen Rome. The public excitement was increased beyond measure, and exaggerated hopes were enkindled that could never be fulfilled. The people, at first enthusiastic only, were now turbulent. The events in France exercised a still more fatal influence. They caused anarchy to prevail. The extreme or Socialist Republicans, whom the proclamation of the constitution would have paralyzed, were now in the ascendant. What had been done at Paris, they conceived, might be done at Rome. And they induced the inexperienced multitude to share their conviction. Such belief was only an idle and a culpable dream. For surely it could not be guiltless to resolve on sacrificing thousands on thousands of precious lives for an Utopia,—a system that could never be realized. Events have shown that in France itself, which was entirely free to make whatever political arrangement it pleased, a Republic was not possible, even such a Republic as was established at the downfall of the citizen monarchy, in preference to the Red Republic. How, then, should it be possible to build up at Rome an extreme system in opposition to the views and wishes of the whole Christian world,—in opposition even to the people of Rome themselves, who, when free from undue excitement, were the loyal supporters of the sovereign who had already introduced into the economy of the State so many liberal institutions—institutions that were in perfect harmony with their ideas, and admirably adapted to the exigencies of the times? There was no need, as yet, that the Catholic nations should come to the aid of their Chief. It was necessary only to appeal, in defence of his sovereignty, from Rome drunk to Rome sober,—from Rome intoxicated with unwonted draughts of liberty to Rome in its normal state—to Rome, cool, and calm, and intellectual, even as in the days of her ancient glory, when her sages and grave senators sat by her gates sorrowing but dignified in their defeat. With the like countenance ought modern Rome to have met the tide of Socialist invasion, which every successive endeavor to establish the Red or Communist Republic proves to be more destructive than the war of mighty legions, which can only cast down material walls.
A Socialist Republic was impossible at Rome, the city of the Popes. It never could have held its ground against the sound principle which universally prevailed throughout the Pontifical States. Nor would it ever have been able to obtain the countenance, or even the recognition, of the European governments. Not France and Austria only; every other Catholic nation as well would have exerted all their influence against it. Nor in doing so would they have acted unwisely or unjustly. Had not Rome been the residence of their Chief Pastor, that great historic city would have ceased long ago to exist, or would be known only as an insignificant village, scarcely perceptible on the map of Europe. How often has not the celebrated city been rescued from destruction by the direct agency of the Popes? How long have they not governed it with wisdom and blessed it with prosperity? If there be any such thing as prescriptive right, undoubtedly it is theirs. If there be any right better founded and stronger than that of conquest, such right belongs unquestionably to the saviors of Rome. They have saved it for the Christian world, for mankind, for the Church. It is no man's property. It cannot be let, like a paltry farm, to those who shall bid the highest, in vain compromises and delusive hopes of liberty. Should the Roman people, of their own free will, pretend to give themselves away,—to sell themselves to a faction whose subversive principles they abhor, their forefathers of all preceding ages would protest against their base degeneracy; the children of the generations to come would curse their memory; all reflecting men of the present time would accuse them of black ingratitude,—ingratitude to the mighty dead among their Pontiffs, to whom they are indebted for their very name, their city's fame, its honored State, its very existence in modern times; ingratitude, above all, to that ruler who offered them, who bestowed upon them, liberty, and who would have gladly rescued them in his day from tyranny,—the tyranny of faction,—even as his predecessors, in bygone times, snatched them from the cruel grasp of barbarism.
Pius IX. had made up his mind to institute thoroughly representative and constitutional government. And this was all that the Roman people, as yet, desired. They were only anxious that the views of the Pontiff should be speedily carried into effect. Accordingly, Prince Corsini, the Senator (Mayor), and the eight principal members of the Municipal Council, were commissioned to make known their wishes to the Pope. His reply was dignified and candid. In declaring his intention to grant the constitution which they asked for, he took care to intimate in the most decided manner that he was not making a concession to the urgency of the moment, but accomplishing his premeditated purpose. "Events," said he, "abundantly justify the request which you address to me in the name of the Council and Magistracy of Rome. All are aware that it is my constant study to give to the Government the form which appears to me to be most in harmony with the times. But, none are ignorant, at the same time, of the difficulties to which he is exposed, who unites in his own person two great dignities, when endeavouring to trace the line of demarcation between these two powers. What, in a secular Government, may be done in one day, in the Pontifical can only be accomplished after mature deliberation. I flatter myself, nevertheless, that the preliminary labours having been completed, I shall be able, in a few days, to impart to you the result of my reflections, and that this result will meet the wishes of all reasonable people."
On the 14th of March, accordingly, was published the fundamental statute for the temporal government of the Holy See, and so was inaugurated constitutional rule in the most complete and straightforward manner which it is possible to conceive.
The constitution was framed according to the model of the French Liberal Monarchy of 1830, so modified as to render it capable of being adapted to the Pontifical Government. Under its provisions there were a Ministry which was responsible, and two Houses of Parliament, one of which was elective, and the other composed of members who should hold their appointment during their lifetime. To the Council of State belonged the framing of laws to be afterwards submitted to the votes of the two Chambers.
In all constitutional monarchies, the assent of the sovereign is necessary, in order to give the force of law to measures voted by Parliament. So, under the constitution promulgated at Rome by Pius IX., the College of Cardinals were constituted a permanent council, whose office it was to sanction finally the decisions of the Legislative Chambers. Such, in substance, was the statute by which the Pontifical States became undeniably constitutional. A few days later the Ministry was named. Three-fourths of their number were laymen. Cardinal Antonelli was appointed President or First Minister. And thus the constitution was no sooner framed than it came into operation, so anxious was Pius IX. to advance the interests and meet the wants and wishes of his people.
Now, one would say, gratitude only could await the Pontiff. But no! at the moment when, of all others, he was entitled to rely on the devotedness of his people, a new and great difficulty arose.
By the diplomacy of 1815, at the close of the great European War, certain portions of Italy had been left subject to German rule. By war only, some Italians imagined, could this evil be removed. This was an extravagant idea. War could only raise up new enemies to the cause of Italy and that regeneration which appeared to be so near at hand. Diplomacy would have served them better. What it had done at one time, under pressure of the most trying circumstances, it would have been ready to achieve when circumstances were changed, and imperatively demanded a new order of things.
In the new emergencies that had arisen, the learning and ability of statesmen ought, at least, in the first instance, to have been appealed to. As between individuals, it is reasonable that all peaceful means of adjusting a quarrel should be employed, so, in the greater affairs of nations, all the arts of statesmanship ought to be had recourse to before resort is had to bayonets and blood. How successful such a course would have proved, and how beneficial to the cause of Italian liberty, is more than sufficiently shown by the great result which diplomacy obtained, when Austria, insisting on treaty rights, displayed the flag of war at Ferrara. In that case, no doubt, the Pope was the chief diplomatist. But would he not have been so, likewise, when there was question, not of one city only, but of many of the greatest cities and best provinces of Italy? It is not to be supposed, that in these more momentous circumstances he would have found "the Barbarians" more hard to deal with. Austria, indeed, was so barbarous as to ignore that exquisite refinement of modern times, which despises religion and its ministers; and so she would have shown, as of old, her reverence for the Pontiff, by withdrawing, at his request, her soldiers from Italian soil.
The Italians, however, did not think so. They would have war, cost what it would. The people even of the Papal States, whose august Chief could have conquered without war, were bent on the same fatal purpose. They were wholly under the influence of the Socialist agitation, and no wiser counsel could be made to prevail.
It was decided among the popular leaders that the question of war should be agitated in the greatest assembly which it was possible to gather together. The Coliseum was appointed as the place of meeting, and it was destined to present an unwanted spectacle, a grand but ill-omened scene. All Rome, it may be said, was congregated in the ancient arena, the favorite tribunes at their head. These demagogues were determined that the question of war should be settled by acclamation, hoping thus to influence the Sovereign Pontiff to induce him to abandon his policy of neutrality by this imposing display of opinion and excitement, by so much popular enthusiasm, by such intoxication, so to say, of patriotism. At an early hour the vast arena was already crowded. All orders of the State were there—Nobles, Burghers, Soldiers, Princes—everybody. Priests even came in tolerable numbers to swell the crowd, and monks of every order, ecclesiastics of every college, members of every congregation. Such was the immense open air assemblage in which the question of the new crusade was to be solemnly discussed. It would have been a grand and noteworthy spectacle, had it not been arranged beforehand by skilful leaders who were adepts in the art of getting up revolutionary displays. In the great assembly there may have been sincerity. In the chief actors there was none. Such a spontaneous expression of public sentiment, if really such, would, indeed, have been imposing—grand. Viewed only as a theatrical performance of parts learned to order—and it was nothing more—it was deserving of nothing but contempt. There was in this display, besides, a sinister and melancholy feature—a set of actors practising on the popular mind to-day, in order to discover what they might safely attempt to-morrow.
Near the tribune which overlooks the arena were ranged all those agitators who were destined to become, at a later period, so notorious in the commotions of the time. Among them was observed Padre Gavazzi, a Barnabite monk, whose puerile vanity made him aspire to distinction, and whose career was already marked by pretentious eloquence, a bombastic style, confused ideas, and a mind still undecided as to the limits of orthodoxy, which, a little later, he stepped beyond. He was the preacher of the crusade. Next came the shepherd poet, Rosi; Prince Canino's Secretary, Masi; a young French monk of the order of Conventualists, Dumaine; Generals Durando and Ferrari; the journalist, Sterbini, afterwards so fatally popular; and, of course, the demagogue, Cicerruacho, who had been, at first, enthusiastic in the cause of the Pope, but who now burned for war, and, ere long, imparted to the revolution a character of fitful fanaticism and absurd sympathies. The day was spent in magniloquent addresses, which affected the style of ancient types, urgent exhortations to war, poetical orations, rounds of applause, rapturous demonstrations. The result was, lists for the enrolment of volunteers; the establishment in the different quarters of the city of tables for receiving patriotic offerings, and a threatening demonstration against the Quirinal Palace, where it was intended to force the Pope to bless the colours for the expedition against Austria.