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- History of Modern Europe 1792-1878 - 90/202 -


summoning of a Congress to deal with Neapolitan affairs, and it was believed for a while that England would be isolated in its resistance to a joint intervention. But before the Congress assembled, the firm language of the English Ministry had drawn Richelieu over to its side; [322] and although one of the two French envoys made himself the agent of the Ultra-Royalist faction, it was not possible for him to unite his country with the three Eastern Courts. France, through the weakness of its Government and the dissension between its representatives, counted for nothing at the Congress. England sent its ambassador from Vienna, but with instructions to act as an observer and little more; and in consequence the meeting at Troppau resolved itself into a gathering of the three Eastern autocrats and their Ministers. As Prussia had ceased to have any independent foreign policy whatever, Metternich needed only to make certain of the support of the Czar in order to range on his side the entire force of eastern and central Europe in the restoration of Neapolitan despotism.

[Contest between Metternich and Capodistrias.]

[Circular of Troppau, Dec. 8, 1820.]

[The principle of intervention laid down by three Courts.]

The plan of the Austrian statesman was not, however, to be realised without some effort. Alexander had watched with jealousy Metternich's recent assumption of a dictatorship over the minor German Courts; he had never admitted Austria's right to dominate in Italy; and even now some vestiges of his old attachment to liberal theories made him look for a better solution of the Neapolitan problem than in that restoration of despotism pure and simple which Austria desired. While condemning every attempt of a people to establish its own liberties, Alexander still believed that in some countries sovereigns would do well to make their subjects a grant of what he called sage and liberal institutions. It would have pleased him best if the Neapolitans could have been induced by peaceful means to abandon their Constitution, and to accept in return certain chartered rights as a gift from their King; and the concurrence of the two Western Powers might in this case possibly have been regained. This project of a compromise, by which Ferdinand would have been freed from his secret engagement with Austria, was exactly what Metternich desired to frustrate. He found himself matched, and not for the first time, against a statesman who was even more subtle than himself. This was Count Capodistrias, a Greek who from a private position had risen to be Foreign Minister of Russia, and was destined to become the first sovereign, in reality if not in title, of his native land. Capodistrias, the sympathetic partner of the Czar's earlier hopes, had not travelled so fast as his master along the reactionary road. He still represented what had been the Italian policy of Alexander some years before, and sought to prevent the re-establishment of absolute rule at Naples, at least by the armed intervention of Austria. Metternich's first object was to discredit the Minister in the eyes of his sovereign. It is said that he touched the Czar's keenest fears in a conversation relating to a mutiny that had just taken place among the troops at St. Petersburg, and so in one private interview cut the ground from under Capodistrias' feet; he also humoured the Czar by reviving that monarch's own favourite scheme for a mutual guarantee of all the Powers against revolution in any part of Europe. Alexander had proposed in 1818 that the Courts should declare resistance to authority in any country to be a violation of European peace, entitling the Allied Powers, if they should think fit, to suppress it by force of arms. This doctrine, which would have empowered the Czar to throw the armies of a coalition upon London if the Reform Bill had been carried by force, had hitherto failed to gain international acceptance owing to the opposition of Great Britain. It was now formally accepted by Austria and Prussia. Alexander saw the federative system of European monarchy, with its principle of collective intervention, recognised as an established fact by at least three of the great Powers; [323] and in return he permitted Metternich to lay down the lines which, in the case of Naples, this intervention should follow. It was determined to invite King Ferdinand to meet his brother-sovereigns at Laibach, in the Austrian province of Carniola, and through him to address a summons to the Neapolitan people, requiring them, in the name of the three Powers, and under threat of invasion, to abandon their Constitution. This determination was announced, as a settled matter, to the envoys of England and France; and a circular was issued from Troppau by the three Powers to all the Courts of Europe (Dec. 8), embodying the doctrine of federative intervention, and expressing a hope that England and France would approve its immediate application in the case of Naples. [324]

[Protest of England.]

There was no ground whatever for this hope with regard to England. On the contrary, in proportion as the three Courts strengthened their union and insisted on their claim to joint jurisdiction over Europe, they drove England away from them. Lord Castlereagh had at first promised the moral support of this country to Austria in its enterprise against Naples; but when this enterprise ceased to be the affair of Austria alone, and became part of the police-system of the three despotisms, it was no longer possible for the English Government to view it with approval or even with silence. The promise of a moral support was withdrawn: England declared that it stood strictly neutral with regard to Naples, and protested against the doctrine contained in the Troppau circular, that a change of government in any State gave the Allied Powers the right to intervene. [325]

France made no such protest; but it was still hoped at Paris that an Austrian invasion of Southern Italy, so irritating to French pride, might be averted. King Louis XVIII. endeavoured, but in vain, to act the part of mediator, and to reconcile the Neapolitan House of Bourbon at once with its own subjects and with the Northern Powers.

[Conference at Laibach, Jan., 1821.]

The summons went out from the Congress to King Ferdinand to appear at Laibach. It found him enjoying all the popularity of a constitutional King, surrounded by Ministers who had governed under Murat, exchanging compliments with a democratic Parliament, lavishing distinctions upon the men who had overthrown his authority, and swearing to everything that was set before him. As the Constitution prohibited the King from leaving the country without the consent of the Legislature, it was necessary for Ferdinand to communicate to Parliament the invitation which he had received from the Powers, and to take a vote of the Assembly on the subject of his journey. Ferdinand's Ministers possessed some political experience; they recognised that it would be impossible to maintain the existing Constitution against the hostility of three great States, and hoped that the Parliament would consent to Ferdinand's departure on condition that he pledged himself to uphold certain specified principles of free government. A message to the Assembly was accordingly made public, in which the King expressed his desire to mediate with the Powers on this basis. But the Ministers had not reckoned with the passions of the people. As soon as it became known that Ferdinand was about to set out, the leaders of the Carbonari mustered their bands. A host of violent men streamed into Naples from the surrounding country. The Parliament was intimidated, and Ferdinand was prohibited from leaving Naples until he had sworn to maintain the Constitution actually in force, that, namely, which Naples had borrowed from Spain. Ferdinand, whose only object was to escape from the country as quickly as possible, took the oath with his usual effusions of patriotism. He then set out for Leghorn, intending to cross from thence into Northern Italy. No sooner had he reached the Tuscan port than he addressed a letter to each of the five principal sovereigns of Europe, declaring that his last acts were just as much null and void as all his earlier ones. He made no attempt to justify, or to excuse, or even to explain his conduct; nor is there the least reason to suppose that he considered the perjuries of a prince to require a justification. "These sorry protests," wrote the secretary of the Congress of Troppau, "will happily remain secret. No Cabinet will be anxious to draw them from the sepulchre of its archives. Till then there is not much harm done."

[Ferdinand at Laibach.]

[Demands of the Allies on Naples.]

Ferdinand reached Laibach, where the Czar rewarded him for the fatigues of his journey by a present of some Russian bears. His arrival was peculiarly agreeable to Metternich, whose intentions corresponded exactly with his own; and the fact that he had been compelled to swear to maintain the Spanish Constitution at Naples acted favourably for the Austrian Minister, inasmuch as it enabled him to say to all the world that negotiation was now out of the question. [326] Capodistrias, brought face to face with failure, twisted about, according to his rival's expression, like a devil in holy water, but all in vain. It was decided that Ferdinand should be restored as absolute monarch by an Austrian army, and that, whether the Neapolitans resisted or submitted, their country should be occupied by Austrian troops for some years to come. The only difficulty remaining was to vest King Ferdinand's conduct in some respectable disguise. Capodistrias, when nothing else was to be gained, offered to invent an entire correspondence, in which Ferdinand should proudly uphold the Constitution to which he had sworn, and protest against the determination of the Powers to force the sceptre of absolutism back into his hand. [327] This device, however, was thought too transparent. A letter was sent in the King's name to his son, the Duke of Calabria, stating that he had found the three Powers determined not to tolerate an order of things sprung from revolution; that submission alone would avert war; but that even in case of submission certain securities for order, meaning the occupation of the country by an Austrian army, would be exacted. The letter concluded with the usual promises of reform and good government. It reached Naples on the 9th of February, 1821. No answer was either expected or desired. On the 6th the order had been given to the Austrian army to cross the Po.

[State of Naples and Sicily.]

[The Austrians enter Naples, March 24, 1821.]

[Third Neapolitan restoration.]

There was little reason to fear any serious resistance on the part of the Neapolitans. The administration of the State was thoroughly disorganised; the agitation of the secret societies had destroyed all spirit of obedience among the soldiers; a great part of the army was absent in Sicily, keeping guard over a people who, under wiser management, might have doubled the force which Naples now opposed to the invader. When the despotic government of Ferdinand was overthrown, the island of Sicily, or that part of it which was represented by Palermo, had claimed the separate political existence which it had possessed between 1806 and 1815, offering to remain united to Naples in the person of the sovereign, but demanding a National Parliament and a National Constitution of its own. The revolutionary Ministers of Naples had, however, no more sympathy with the wishes of the Sicilians than the Spanish Liberals of 1812 had with those of the American Colonists. They required the islanders to accept the same rights and duties as any other province of the Neapolitan kingdom, and, on their refusal, sent over a considerable force and laid siege to Palermo. [328] The contest soon ended in the submission of the Sicilians, but it was found necessary to keep twelve thousand troops on the island in order to prevent a new revolt. The whole regular army of Naples numbered little more than forty thousand; and although bodies of Carbonari and of the so-called Militia set out to join the colours of General Pepe and to fight for liberty, they remained for the most part a disorderly mob, without either arms or discipline. The invading army of Austria, fifty thousand strong, not only possessed an immense superiority in organisation and military spirit, but actually outnumbered the forces of the defence. At the first encounter, which took place at Rieti, in the Papal States, the Neapolitans were put to the rout. Their army melted away, as it had in Murat's campaign in 1815. Nothing was heard among officers and men but accusations of treachery; not a single strong point was defended; and on the 24th of March the Austrians made their entry into Naples. Ferdinand, halting at Florence, sent on before him the worst


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