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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8

King Pope

King Pope.

When Mr. Brougham, in 1830, was canvassing the West Riding of Yorkshire, with a view to its representation in parliament, we heard him say, in reference to the coup d'etat. that filled up the measure of Charles the Tenth's abominable rule in France, news of which had just then reached England,—"Had the unhappy man made the experiment in England instead of France, his head would have rolled in the dust before sundown." But the miserable records of Bourbon misrule present nothing to compare with the execrable despotism that oppresses the territory over which the Pope exercises sovereign power. Hitherto, we have spoken of the Pope as a priest,—the head of a Church: we now claim attention to the same magnate as a temporal prince,—the head of a kingdom. In an eminent degree—par excellence— page 173 the representative of "the Prince of Peace" he is in a chronic state of war with his own subjects; and only wears the crown that sits totteringly on his head in virtue of the acute points of foreign bayonets.

A few years ago, some two or three hundred Irish Catholics, having determined to aid the Pope against his temporal and political enemies, quitted the Emerald Isle for a campaign in Romagna. The consideration for this martial assistance was understood to be two shillings a day, and "the hoight of tratement." But when it was found that the Pope's coin was lodged in the innermost recesses of a non est inventus, unavailable and invisible, and that "the hoight of tratement" implied far less consideration than is usually bestowed on Hibernian pigs, the Irishman determined that his campaign should be a short one, and he soon returned, if not a wiser, certainly not a more foolish man than when he started on his bootless expedition.

The Irish Catholics, according to their own account, have many grievances to complain of; and as Mr. Gladstone appears to be indisposed to traverse the allegation, we do not see why we should do so. Admitting, therefore, that the complainants have genuine grievances to complain of, it must also be admitted that they possess the privilege of enunciating their hardships as often as they think proper, and when and where they list—a privilege, it is superfluous to add, that is not likely to rust for want of use. Of course, no reasonable man who has the advantage of acquaintance with Hibernian Catholics, will ever think of making them amenable to reason; but the ineffable stupidity of their invasion of the Papal territories in the interest of despotism fairly defies comprehension. They consented to leave their own country, to shoot at their fellow creatures, and to be shot at, in support of a power that is ten thousand times more oppressive than the British Government ever knew how to be, and that denies to the oppressed the poor privilege of giving utterance to their wrongs, either orally or scriptorily, at the peril of their lives. In Great Britain and Ireland a man's house is his castle; but in the Papal States neither house nor escritoire is sacred against the priestly emissary. The unwelcome domiciliary visit is of common occurrence; the writing desk is forced if need be; and woe to the unfortunate recipient whose correspondent shall have employed language susceptible of an interpretation unfavorable to Papal government. He is hauled off to the dungeons of a fetid prison as the initiatory step of what, ten to one, will have a tragical consummation.

In illustration, we shall have to lead out some very respectable men to execution; and, for the information of our Catholic friends, we may inform them, that the sufferers were good Catholics as themselves, good Christians, and beloved and honoured by their neighbours and friends, as we shall undeniably page 174 show; and we cannot help thinking that the account which we have to submit clearly proves, that if, in Rome, O'Connell, mutato nomine, had dared to utter against the Papal Government one hundredth part of the invectives levelled by him against the British Government, he would have been spared the trouble of dying a natural death.

Our extract has reference to times antecedent to Pius the Ninth, but still within the last half century, being in the year 1828. Let Irish Catholics read it carefully, and felicitate themselves, if they can, on the chivalrous spirit that prompted them to fight for a government that slaughtered their co-religionists because they were only suspected (for it was never proved) of entertaining sentiments hostile to the Papal authorities. In the memoirs of Angelo Frignani we read:—

"Various and alarming rumours reached the Judges. They were puzzled how to act. The populace, so it was said, were swarming angrily into the streets and public ways, whispering and clasping hands, as if in the act of taking an oath; the soldiers looking on sadly and silently.

The inhabitants of Ravenna were not however meditating rebellion, but they were saying one to another: 'If indeed we must endure the death of these five fellow-citizens, let us at least hasten away from hence; let us get beyond the walls, that, the world may know, that if impotent to prevent the shedding of the blood of our brothers, at least we fled from the horrible sight.' This being the universal feeling, multitudes issued forth on the morning of the 13th May. Whole families and groups of friends passed simultaneously through the six gates of the city. Some took the road to the valleys; some to the sea coasts, spreading themselves through the country: a pitiable sight indeed. Ever since the time of the last invasion of the French, the guillotine had been substituted for the gallows. Now, to strike new terror into the hearts of his subjects, the Pope had ordered that the five condemned prisoners should be hanged, and the corpses left exposed for a whole day. One of those incidents occurred at this execution which send terror into the hearts of the most unbelieving. A certain Spadini, a miller by trade, who had been a notorious brigand in the time of the Cisalpine Republic, either to curry favour with the Government, or from natural ferocity of disposition, mounted on the wall, close to which the gibbet was erected, and there sitting astride, he went on unchecked the whole day, reviling and jeering the wretched victims. Four were hanged at eight in the morning, but the fifth did not appear. . . . . The sun was setting when Spadini, still astride on the wall, where he had remained for ten hours, in the hope of seeing Rambelli executed also, shouted, 'Here he is, here he is, a little late perhaps, but time enough;' then to Rambelli, 'Good fellow, why have you made us yawn so much? You will be one of the finest fruits this tree ever bore—(Rambelli was a tall, well-made, handsome man,)—but that is no reason why you should be so coy, and keep us on tenter-hooks from morning till evening!' Some days after these executions I was transferred from my own cell to the neighbouring one. I found there a strangely-fashioned wooden machine, with long pieces of leather nailed to the various parts of it. It looked like an instrument of torture, but I never ascertained its use. Over the door was traced in large letters, 'Luigi Zanoli was executed 13th May, 1828.'"

The author of the work from which the above extracts are taken, escaped the gallows by feigning madness. It appears he was called upon to answer for some ambiguous expressions in some letters of Farina's addressed to himself. Farina was the page 175 author of the Life of Rousignore, the Bishop of Faenza; he had likewise printed a translation of some sermons of St. Augustine, in which the vices of ecclesiastics were severely handled. Hinc illæ lachrymæ!

But a scrap (found in the handwriting of the unlucky author) of some former essay, or harangue, appears to have been greatly assistant to his conviction. "Some years previously," he says, "while I was going through my course of rhetoric, our professor gave the students, as a theme for composition, the appeal which Cola di Rienzi might have been supposed to make to the Romans in behalf of freedom, when urging them to throw off their allegiance to the Pope—who, as every one knows, in Rienzi's time, had his residence at Avignon." A portion of this old theme, it appears, got into the hands of his judges, and operated to his condemnation. But what a precious government to live under! What a government to fight for! A school-boy's theme (none of his own choosing either) is made the apology for taking away the life of the man!

Recent mail news leads us to suppose that the Ultramontanes or Jesuits will be able to carry the infallibility of the Pope; but it is still doubtful whether the Pope, taking into consideration the vigorous opposition of the minority, will venture to submit the question to the test of numbers. We sincerely hope that he will do so, and quite as sincerely trust that it may be carried. Quem deus vult perdere, prius dementat; and surely no better evidence of the demented state of both Pope and Council could be offered than the proposed blasphemously-intimate association of the Deity with such a piece of old mortality as Pius the Ninth.

We have only to add a chronological bulletin from that portion of the Church militant over which the Pope presides, with the view of showing the nature of the connection between that potentate and his unhappy subjects. We will, however, first quote a text of Scripture; and we trust that our readers will find in the sequent to it, a commentary of more than ordinary significance." Jesus answered, My Kingdom is not of this world: if my Kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight."

Bulletin:—The Regnant Pope, Pius IX. The Imperial city garrisoned by foreign troops. The Pope witnessed a revolution when Count Rossi, his prime minister, was assassinated.—Nov. 15th, 1848.

The people demanded a democratic ministry; the Pope delayed to reply; the Romans surrounded the palace, when a conflict ensued between the papal and civic guard. The troops surrounded the Quirinal, and placed cannon against the entrance; and the Pope was forced to accept a popular ministry, Nov. 16th, 1848. Cardinal Palma, the Pope's secretary, shot in the conflict.

The Pope escaped in disguise from Rome to Gaeta, Nov. 24th, 1848.

M. de Corcelles left Paris for Rome, a French armed expedi- page 176 tion having preceded him to afford protection to the Pope, Nov. 27th, 1848.

A constituent assembly met at Rome, Feb. 5th, 1849.

The Roman National Assembly declared the Pope divested of all temporal power, and adopted the republican form of government, Feb. 8th, 1849.

The republican flag hoisted on the tower of the Capitol, Feb. 14th, 1849.

The Pope protested against the decree for his dethronement, Feb. 14th, 1849.

His Holiness appealed to the great Roman Catholic powers for an armed interference in his behalf, Feb. 18th, 1849.

A small French force repulsed from Rome, April 30th, 1849. In this action the French were driven back from the city with the loss of about 700 men.

Engagement between the Romans and Neapolitans; the former capture 6O prisoners and 400 muskets, May 5th, 1849.

The French under Marshal Oudinot commenced an attack on Rome, June 3rd, 1849. They made a breach in the walls, June 21st, 1849. The French sent storming parties through the breaches in the walls, June 21st, 1849. A deputation sent to Marshal Oudinot, to treat for a surrender, and they eventually capitulated to the French army, June 30th, 1849. The Roman Assembly dissolved, July 4th, 1849. The re-establishment of the Pope's authority proclaimed, July 15th, 1849. The Pope left Portici for Rome, where he arrived, April 12th, 1850.

So that the French after deposing the Pope's very best friends and most zealous supporters, their own Bourbon princes in both branches, denied to their weaker neighbours the privilege of a voice in their own government. But a sovereign who can maintain his throne only through foreign intervention is less of a king than King Stork or King Log, and, whatever effect it may have on his Holiness, we beg to say, at the risk of an anathema, that we cannot conscientiously rank him amongst the legitimate and constitutional sovereigns of Europe.