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POLITICS AT HOME AND ABROAD.
[From Brownson's Quarterly Review for April, 1859.)
The present political state of continental Europe is very far from indicating that the era of revolutions is closed, and the era of peace and orderly social progress is opened. At the moment we are writing, though our European news is less warlike than it was a few weeks ago, we have no wellgrounded assurance that peace will be maintained. Peace on the continent is decidedly the interest and the wish of Great Britain, and she will do all she can to preserve it. The emperor of the French would no doubt prefer peace, if he could with it consolidate his domestic policy, and confirm his dynasty. Russia is engaged in vast works of internal improvement, and is just entering upon a social revolution, the end of which it is difficult to foresee, and neither wants nor is prepared for a foreign war. Austria is engaged in securing her frontiers, and in fusing the heterogeneous elements of her empire into a uniform people with a purely Austrian nationality, and has nothing to gain by war. Germany, including Prussia, has enough to do in the interior, in settling the questions still unsettled between the old Germanic order of society and resuscitated pagan Rome, questions which war would be more likely to solve in the Roman than in the German sense. The only state in Europe that really wants war is the little constitutional state of Sardinia, and she wants it in order to secularize the government of the papal states, and thus get a justification, after the fact, of her anti-papal policy and anti-Catholic laws, and to extend her dominion over upper and perhaps central Italy. Alone she cannot carry on successfully a war against Austria, who must oppose every part of her policy, and the question of peace or war really hangs on the fact whether the emperor of the French will actively sustain her or not in her warlike disposition and ambitious projects.
The great question on which just now European politics turn, is the Italian question, raised by Count Walewski at the close of the congress held at Paris in 1856, and this question involves two serious difficulties, one in upper Italy with Austria, and one in central Italy with the pope. The emperor of the French is very desirous of settling this question, both because he has a natural affection for Italy, and because at present Italy is the focus of machinations against his throne and even his life. If he can prevent disaffection from becoming dangerous at home, and without war appease the Italian patriots, whom the attempt on his life by Orsini has made him fear, and feel that he must in soine way conciliate, and if possible interest in sustaining his throne, there will be no war. But we see not how he can settle the Italian question peaceably, or how, without settling it, he can conciliate the Italian patriots.
The natural difficulties of the Italian question are much enhanced by the disagreement of the Italian patriots among themselves. They all agree that Austria must be dispossessed of the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom, and driven beyond the Alps, and that Italian nationality and autonomy must be restored, or more properly, created. But here their agreement ends, and discord begins. They dispute as to what shall be done with their basket of eggs when laid and hatched. Some insist that Italy, when emancipated, shall be a single inonarchical state with its capital at Turin, and Victor Emmanuel for king; others that it shall be a confederacy of constitutional states, under the presidency ofwho it may be ; others insist that it shall be a democratic republic, one and indivisible, with its capital at Rome. Gioberti's plan was a confederated Italy under the presidency or moderatorship of the pope ; Mazzini's plan is an emancipated and united Italy, under a democratic republic, with himself, we presume, as president. The division between the respective partisans of these schemes defeated in 1848 the noble movement favored by Pius IX. for the independence of Italy, and complicates the question in 1859. Napoleon III. may amuse, but he cannot support the Mazzinians in Italy any more than he can the red-republicans in France, and neither whey nor Austria will consent to the Giobertian plan of confederation, if he were himself, as he is not, disposed to favor it. The Mazzinians are as hostile to the order instituted in Sardinia, as they are to the Austrian domination, and would oppose Victor Emmanuel as king of Italy as strenuously as Francis Joseph or the pope. In their view, a monarchical Italy, under even an Italian prince, whether the pope, as Gioberti contended, or the king of Sardinia, as Count Cavour probably wishes, with or without a parliament, would settle nothing, and would at best only adjourn a struggle that sooner or later must come throughout all Europe. All European society—all humanity, they say-tends to democracy, and it is only the democratic republic, the inauguration everywhere of the absolute sovereignty of the people, of the people-king or the peopleGod, that can satisfy the imperious demands of the modern world, settle its present disputes, and secure its orderly and peaceful future progress. They resolutely oppose all compromise, all third parties, and wish to make up a direct issue between monarchical absolutism and democratic absolutism. This issue Austria, as the heir of the kaisers, who sought to revive in Christian Europe the cæsarism the German conquerors had overthrown with Augustulus, accepts, and is prepared to stand by, both in and out of her own dominions. Louis Napoleon accepts it for France, but does not openly accept it elsewhere; while he is virtually absolute at home, he seeks to present himself as the defender of oppressed nationalities and of constitutional or even democratic liberty abroad.
But in carrying out his Italian policy, which is to use Sardinia and appear to wish to reëstablish an independent Italy under a constitutional régime with Sardinia at its head, he has not only Austria and the Mazzinians, but also the papal government in his way. His troops occupy
Rome against the will and even the protest of the papal governinent, and to the great discontent of the other powers of Europe. He dares not withdraw them, for that would leave the field to Austria, whose policy they are there to watch and to counteract, and as long as he keeps them there he has to bear the responsibility of sustaining the papal government, bitterly opposed alike by Sardinians and Mazzini
So long as he appears to uphold the papal tempora government he can neither defeat the policy of Austria nor conciliate either Italian party. The pope is his difficulty. The pope's government very properly will make no important reforms in the administration under foreign dictation, and therefore none so long as his troops occupy Rome. If he tells the government it must reform its administration, or he will withdraw his troops, his threat is taken as a promise, for the withdrawal of his troops is precisely what it wishes, and what it is trying to bring about, since so long as Austrian troops occupy the legations, it is safe against insurrection. To dispossess the pope of his temporal states and convert thein into a principality governed by a French prince, or by an Italian prince under a French protectorate, is not only to offend Italian nationality, not only a war with Austria, but is to offend the Catholic sentiment throughout the world, and to endanger his position in France herself. Here is his embarrassment, an embarrassment from which either the pope or Austria could no doubt relieve him, but from which neither seems disposed to relieve him. We see, then, nothing for him to do, but to suffer Sardinia to provoke a war with Austria, which she is panting to do, and back her up with all the forces of his empire. War, then, as much averse as he may be to it, seems to us not improbable, although it may not, and probably will not, break out so soon as appearances a short time since indicated.
Napoleon III. seems to us to have so involved himself in Italian affairs that he cannot advance without war, or recede with honor or safety. He was a member of the carbonari, whom he has betrayed. They have condemned him to death, and sooner or later, unless he can make peace with them, they will in all probability be able to execute the sentence they have pronounced. He seems to us also to be losing his prestige in France, where his strict alliance with England is not popular, save with the business classes. He was successful in terminating the Crimean war just at the moment proper to prevent its advantages from inuring to Great Britain alone. But he has been successful in no great diplomatic measure since. The advantages of the war inured principally to Austria, and Austria renewing her alliance with Èngland has been able to defeat his oriental policy even when backed by Russia, Prussia, and Sardinia. Austria and England have defeated his policy of a union of the Danubian principalities under a prince of one of the reigning houses in Enrope, and reduced to nothing his interference in behalf of Montenegro. Great Britain, if she has not, which we think she has, defeated the project of canalizing the Isthmus of Suez, by seizing and fortifying the island of Perim, has rendered the canal useless in a military or strategetic point of view, and it was an English, not a French man-of-war that bombarded Jeddah and avenged the massacre of the Christians, among whom was the French consul. Everywhere since the peace Great Britain and Austria have singly or unitedly thwarted his foreign policy, or reduced him to play a secondary part, unless we except the attack on Cochin China, made in conjunction with Spain. He has nearly completed the works at Cherbourg, which were begun under Louis XIV., and which had been pressed on to completion by the monarchy of July and the republic of 1848 ; but in almost every measure of domestic policy he has attempted since 1856, he has shown a vacillation, an indecision, a weakness that has surprised those who observed him in the coup d'état and the earlier years of the empire. He proposed a financial measure, which would have emancipated the business of France from the money power of England. The English press remonstrated and he abandoned it. He proposed to convert all the charitable funds of the empire into government stocks, but was obliged to abandon it; at least the plan has not been carried into effect. He suffered the illustrious Count Montalembert to be prosecuted by the police for what was really no legal offence, and outraged the whole higher literature of France, and the public opinion of the civilized world. The position at present assigned to Prince Napoleon, the favorite of the Mountain, and, if report may be credited, the most dissolute and debauched prince of his family, and as ready to head a red-republican intrigue against his cousin as to sustain his throne, is not likely to secure the good will of the friends of religion, society, and public decency. He is placed in his position, either because he is regarded as too dangerous, if left unemployed, or, which is more probable, to amuse and conciliate the Voltairians and red-republicans, whose organ is La Presse. Even if so, it will turn out a bad policy for the emperor, for it will damp the ardor of Catholic France, his firmest support hitherto, and will strengthen without conciliating his enemies. Prince Napoleon may prove to him a Duke of Orleans.
In a pamphlet, Napoléon III. et l'Italie, recently published, and which may be taken as the official statement of the views of the emperor, we find revived for the papal states, the policy set forth in his famous letter to Colonel Edgar Ney, and which he had to disavow or explain away before the pope would consent to return from Portici to Rome, a policy which we have always maintained he had never really abandoned, and which at the time created in the minds of most Catholics a distrust of his loyal intentions towards the pontifical government, against which it was known he had been a conspirator. Indeed, it called forth the general condemnation of the Catholic world. The pamphlet proposes what would in effect strip the pope of