Images de page

wretchedly dull and spiritless. The same idea is produced over and over again in a new shape, till its flimsy covering has been worn so transparent that the dullest eye cannot miss seeing through the disguise. Mr. Briggs, with his domestic failures and eccentricities, was ridden to death upon his successive steeds. The rising generation was exhibited in every possible phase of forward assurance, until even the boundless stock of impudence usually ascribed to it became exhausted; the colossal "swells," "bearded like the pard," and evidently in their real existence objects of devoted reverence to the Punch writers and artists, having figured away in every position of absurdity and inanity, were at length silent from absolute lack of anything to say. Poverty, not vice, is the object of the keen lash of these aspiring wits. They hate with hearty loathing narrow means, poor old age, and simple frugality; how durst the city clerk, on £80 a-year, presume to exhibit himself in park or road upon a borrowed or a hired steed? the middle aged spinster to adorn her antiquated form with modern bonnet or amplitude of crinoline? the way worn broken-down teacher to indulge in a sixpenny cab drive? how durst, in fine, aught that is lowly, or simple, or unfashionable, presume to breathe the vital air and share existence with those devout worshippers of wealth, those cringing adorers of rank, those humble flunkeys of fashionable circles?

The freedom of the Press, to the honest and the able writer a glorious boon, is, in the hands of these rash and foolish writers, a sharp weapon, wherewith they injure themselves, a biting lash which they unwittingly apply to their own backs.

The faith that has withstood the storms and assaults of ages, whose tenets and whose teachings have been the battle-ground of the greatest minds of all times in controversy and polemics, is forsooth to be the plaything and the butt of these pert and flippant scribblers! They are to accomplish with their petty darts of spite and ribaldry, the overthrow of that structure, which not all the powers of earth, physical and mental, have hitherto succeeded in shaking.

With the characteristic hardihood of the "scorner," in whose chair these misguided men delight to sit, they ridicule and mock at things which sensible men of all shades of belief regard with respect, and prate familiarly of things

which are as far above their comprehension as they are above their poor assaults.

Learned critics of the theatres and the casinos, smart reviewers of the last new novel, prompt retailers of small literary gossip, let them keep within their self-selected sphere, and if their united classic lore will enable them to translate into their mother tongue the advice given by a painter of antiquity to a presumptuous critic, we trust that they will take the lesson to heart, and remember "ne sutor ultra crepidam." If they hold any creed save hatred of Catholicity, if even that hatred be real, and not the purchased hostility of a hireling, let them turn their powerful pens to the reformation of that creed; its genius they may know, its practice and its spirit they may appreciate, but of Catholicity they know absolutely nothing, and will, probably, blinded as they are by prejudice, never know more. For us we care not, save in pity and common charity, whether or no their eyes shall be ever opened; we are content that they should be ignorant if they will, and are content that with them every priest should be still a Jesuit, and every zealous Catholic an Ultra-Montanist. We have done our duty by administering this rebuke, and henceforth we dismiss Punch to repentance and reformation-once and for ever.

But first descend from your self-erected eminence, ye vain and empty boasters, who plume yourselves as the representatives of British humour, ye who mistake ribaldry for humour, vulgar abuse for satire, and rank intolerance for love of truth; who trade upon the bad passions of the bigot, and seek your highest laurels at the hands of simpering belles and empty coxcombs. The shade of the immortal Hood, who once graced your pages with his illustrious pen, reproaches you for your cowardly treason to the cause of true humour-humour which is ever generous, ever inoffensive, ever genial, ever true and good. Humour-not one touch, not one inkling of whose true spirit has ever shone in all that you have written, in that publication which was once the Glory of periodical literature, and which is now its Shame.

ART. VI.-1. A History of the Italian Republics, being a View of the Origin, Progress, and Fall of Italian Freedom. By J. C. L. Sismondi.

2. Rome: ils Ruler and its Institutions. By John Francis Maguire, M.P. London: Longman and Co.

3. A Pastoral Charge, enjoining Public Prayers within the Eastern District of Scotland, to implore the Protection of Heaven on the Sacred Person of Pope Pius IX., and on the Temporal Dominions of the Holy See; as well as on the Rights and Interests of the Catholic Church throughout the World. By James Bishop of Limyra, Vicar-Apostolic of the Eastern District in Scotland. 1859.

4. The Vicissitudes of Italy since the Congress of Vienna, By A. L. G. Gretton. London: Routledge and Co., 1859.

5. Report from the Count de Rayneval, the French Envoy at Rome, to the French Minister for Foreign Affairs. London: Routledge and Co., 1859.


HE nearer to Rome the farther from the Pope, is the impious utterance of unbelief to-day. Beyond the mountains, in the plains of Gaul and in the city of Voltaire, in the Peninsula beyond the Pyrenees, or still more along the borders of the distant Danube, on the banks of the Rhine, and in the island of Saints, on the confines of Europe, in the vast continents lying beyond the Atlantic and in the Isles of the Pacific, the authority of the Pope is obeyed and reverenced; but in ungenerous and insurgent Italy his dominion is defied and his rule set at nought. Among strangers no reverence is too great for his sacred person, no obedience too unqualified before his infallible authority; but at home his own receive him not. No city of all his ancient inheritance shall henceforth recognize his rule, and even in eternal Rome itself the Vatican shall alone remain as a resting-place for his wearied feet. Such, at least, is the will of Victor Emanuel, and so speaks the irreverent voice of the excommunicated king. Give unto me, it says, Umbria and the Marshes, it is the will of the universal people, it is the immutable decree of the Revolution. The tiara is too heavy with the weight of ages, it must be broken up by the arm of the nineteenth century.

The progress of the human mind abhors the antiquated fetters of faith. The spirit of the age lusts after novelty, and the Papacy, as old as the hills, offers no change to the spirit of unrest. The revolution seeks for excitement, the Papacy loves tranquillity. The revolution encourages self-will, Rome demands obedience. The revolution flatters the pride of the individual, and fosters the national vanity. It promises dominion, and power, and wealth, it excites the day-dream of a united Italy-a new kingdom destined to march in the van of civilization, the glory of the earth. St. Peter holds only the keys of heaven, and offers the self-denial of the cross. Hence arises the deadly feud between Rome and the revolution, between pride and obedience. It is the ancient temptation and the old struggle. The crushed head of the serpent is raised again, and his tongue frames a new lie-that the Papacy rules with a leaden sceptre and deadens the quick intellect―tyrannises over the body as well as over the mind-checks material development even more than liberty of thought -dries up the sources of wealth, and crushes all life out of the land over which it rules, until a cry of anguish against Papal misrule goes up to the sympathetic ear of crowned ambition.

The great redressor of Italian wrongs is moved to pity in the very depths of his kingly and chivalric heart, he calls upon his magnanimous ally, his yokefellow of justice, to aid him in his noble enterprise. The legions of the new Napoleon cross the Alps to wage war for an "Idea." Words have lost their significance, and men go about the world with masks on their faces. The lust of dominion is now called rectification of frontiers, the work of conquest goes under the name of annexation by universal election, and territorial aggrandisement is a geographical necessity. But we in England are a plainspoken people, we call a spade a spade, and a thief a thief. We thrust back with indignation the robber-hand that has seized the mountain tops of Savoy, although it has dangled before our dazzled eyes a commercial treaty by way of bribe, and opened up to our trading propensities a prospect of commercial advantages. The wretched mountain tops of Savoy are not worth a thought, and ought not to disturb for a moment the even current of events. The guarantee of Swiss independence belongs to a bygone order of things, and is insisted upon only by those who

wish to place themselves in a position of "antiquated antagonism

to France.

The revolution is wise in its generation, and has kept pace with the progress of the day. Emperors are its agents and kings its tools. It hides the naked dagger in its breeches pocket, and hires the rifled cannon and the regular army of its crowned allies to overthrow states or to banish princes. It has a way of its own to square accounts and strike a balance with its friends and promoters. Its hopes and schemes find a larger circulation than the secret societies were ever able to give; for it speaks in Imperial notes, and in official despatches, and in parliamentary blue books. With such unusual aids and appliances what may the revolution not hope to effect in Europe? It lays down new principles for the guidance of the common weal of natious. It adopts the imperial language, and talks, in the cant phraseology of the day, of geographical truths that may not be gainsaid, of natural boundaries, of the rectification of frontiers, of community of language. The violators of order, of peace, and of right, proclaim to the world that treaties are but rags, that the balance of power is an invention of despots, and international law an oppression of the peoples. But the revolutionary principle is not now confined merely to agents who have graduated in a foreign school, or to the secret societies, or to the dregs of the population to be found in every city, but it has taken a wider range over the hearts of the people, and struck a deeper root into the national soil of Italy. What most interests us, however, is the question, How comes it that in the very States of the Church, under the pontifical eye, as well as in Catholic Tuscany, and among the pious Piedmontese, the revolutionary principle has not only cast its roots, but has already sprung up into maturity, and, like the baneful upas tree, has thrown a shade over the fair face of Italy, and spread its blight on the ripening fruit of Italian regeneration? The answer is ready on the flippant lip of European liberalism. Papal misrule is the

*The overbearing and dictatorial despatches addressed by Lord John Russell to the government of Naples, on the management of its internal concerns, were instantly translated into Italian, and circulated throughout the country by the agents of the revolution.

« PrécédentContinuer »