Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

there themselves. 66 It is there," said he, that our common duties call us.” But the Minister of War was too loyal to dissemble the extent of our disaster : thus the junta did not decide taking a step which appeared useless, and the event proved that it judged correctly.

The junta took the resolution of consigning the reins of government to the Magistrates of the capital, and the Minister of War announced to them at the same time that the care of the citadel would be remitted to a battalion of the national guard. A numerous deputation of the decurional body assisted at this last sitting of the junta, at which all the measures proper for ensuring the maintenance of public order, in this moment of crisis, were carefully concerted between men, who, if they had not all the same political opinions, all sincerely desired the welfare of their country, and mutually rendered justice to the purity of their intentions.

There were still considerable sums in the royal treasury, notwithstanding the extraordinary expenses which the circumstances required, but these were not touched upon. The Minister of War demanded only of the junta, and obtained, the sum of 150,000 francs, to secure the subsistence and the pay of the troops which set out for Turin, on their march towards Alexandria and Genoa.'

General Guillaume de Vaudoncourt arrived at Turin the very evening of the 8th of March; he came from Lausanne ! to offer his services to a free government : spontaneous devotion ! and as noble as it was unfortunate! The junta gave him the command of the wreck of the army; we believe there were still some remain's left us !

1 This measure (adopted by the Minister of War to prevent the march of several battalions, which had to go through a great part of Piedmont, from being at the charge of the country, thereby causing disorders so much to be dreaded in such critical circumstances), has been the pretext of an insidious calumny repeated by many Journals, and by M. de Beauchamp in particular, viz.: that these 150,000 francs were the price of the surrender of the Citadel. I here affirm, with the conviction that nothing can be said in contra. diction, 1st., that the officers who had the command of the citadel and the garrison made no difficulty in obeying the order of evacuation which was given to them by the minister of war, and that they put no kind of conditions upon it; 2d, that the sum in question was paid by the Treasurer of war to Major Enrico, charged by the minister, as is expressed in the ministerial letter addressed to the Intendant-Generalcy of war, to dispose of it for the pay and subsistence of the troops who were to set out for Turin, with the obligation to render an account of it, and to vest the remainder in the Treasuries of Alexandria and Genoa.

Thus whoever shall say, or repeat, that the citadel of Turio was remitted to the national guard, either for the value of money, or any other conditions whatever, will say or repeat a falsehood.

2. The constitutional troops quitted Turin in the morning of the 9th April ; two single battalions set out. A battalion of the royal light legion, commanded by Colonel Vercelleni, refused to put itself in order of march; the artillery testified very nearly the same dispositions and remained. Turin was in a melancholy but tranquil state. The national guard entered into the citadel at noon, in presence of the Minister of War, who set out the last.

We took the route for Acqui, on account of the rumour which prevailed that the route from Asti to Alexandria might be every moment intercepted. St. Marsan, Collegno, and Lisio, arrived there shortly with a troop of cavalry: it was there they learned a last misfortune. The fear of sustaining a long siege had alarmed the

young soldiers of the battalion of Genoa, which formed the garrison of the Citadel of Alexandria. They revolted and drew their sabres on their officers, who were obliged to restrain them by turning two pieces of cannon against them. The Commander at last came to the resolution to open a passage and leave the mua tineers to escape. Ansaldi, whose courage nothing could intimidate, made dispositions to enclose himself in the Citadel with the "national guard; but discouragement every where prevailed ; but few men wished to sacrifice themselves for a desperate cause. Ansaldi was then obliged to take the route for Genoa with a remnant of soldiers who would not abandon him.

This disastrous news, and the general disbanding of troops, which had reduced to a very small number those who had not taken part in the affair of Novaro, decided the chiefs assembled at · Acqui to repair directly and promptly to Genoa.

But the scene was also changed there, and the Constitutionals would have been loaded with chains, had the Genoese fulfilled with less generosity the duties of hospitality, at the very moment in which they were obliged to abandon the cause of liberty.

General de la Tour had hastened to announce to the Genoese authorities the event of the 8th of April, and had enjoined them to surrender ; Genoa obeyed. The first movement was that of indignation ; but we must be just :The state of the fortifications, the small number of troops, the dispositions of some of their chiefs, all contributed to augment the difficulty of a defence. Besides, from whence could assistance arrive, and would there have been time to wait for it ?

The command of Genoa was remitted, with the consent of the national guard, to Count Desgeneys. His noble character en. couraged the Genoese ; they believed him to possess the greatness of soul to forget every thing, and I imagine they were not deceived.

I have said that Genoese hospitality saved us : it grieves me to

be unable to enlarge on this subject, and impose silence upon the sweetest emotions of the heart. Let me be permitted to say

that the respect due to misfortune was religiously observed by the people of Genoa. Vessels were found ready, and generous succours were given to those persons into whose wants they were enabled to penetrate : Genoese solicitude supplied every thing.'

Genoa had not the misfortune of seeing the Austrians within its walls. This grief was also spared the city of Turin, where the Count de la Tour made his entry on the 10th of April.

The people gave him a cold reception, which the principal counter-revolutionists remarked with ill-disguised disappointment. A dreadful foreboding prevailed in all hearts. The people .but too well felt that it was for them that the revolution was intended, and against their wishes that it had been defeated. Turin, it is true, wanted energy, and quietly remained under the gravity of circumstances ; but that city, where so much learning exists, where the judgment is so sound among all classes of society, will never be able to see, without repugnance, the yoke of arbitrary power weigh over its head ; and its wishes will always be favotable for the establishment of sound liberty.

The Austrian troops occupied the Citadel of Alexandria, Voghera, Tortona, Casal, Verceil and Novaro. The Count de la Tour, who had so well served absolute monarchy, was not judged worthy of avenging its injuries : this office was reserved for the Chevalier de Revel, Count Bratolongo, whom the King named his Lieutenant-General in his states belonging to the mother-country:

The sentence which has been pronounced at Turin against the greater part of the Piedmontese exiles has not astonished them.” The arbitrary government which rules Piedmont are less inclined to pardon them for the moderation with which they have exercised

"To believe the author of the Thirty Days," Victor Emmanuel distributed considerable sums to the Piedmontese who en barked : 110 one is more per. suaded than myself of the excellent heart of the Prince, but this circumstance is absolutely false.

? When this was written I was yet ignorant of the judgments of the 13th · August, which condemned to death the Prince of Cisterna, the Marquis of

Prie, and the Chevalier Hector de Penon, as guilty of being accomplices in the Piedmontese Revolution. I have declared in this work, and I again declare in the most solemn manner, that these three persons took no part in the conspiracy of the month of March; that they were not even informed

of it, for this expression cannot be applied to the vague rumours which might have reached them. The Marquis of Prié was the only one who heard of it, in any way positive, some days before his arrest, and by whom? by the Prince of Carignan.

On what proofs have they condemned the Prince of Cisterna, Prié and Pedon? Hatred alone can have dictated such judgments, but here, the word judgment is misplaced.

[ocr errors]

their power, than for what they are pleased to term their rebellion, that is to say, the reclaiming the rights of the nation. That nation well knows that the conduct of the Constitutional chiefs will long live in its remembrance, to reply to the calumnies of the enemies of liberty. This reflexion is the only one which can support the exiled chiefs in misfortune.

I have now finished my painful task; I am sure of having fulfilled it with fidelity; and I have neglected no means of performing it usefully. It was necessary to prove that the Revolution took place because the Piedmontese people were subjected to an entirely arbitrary government, under which the absence of all protecting laws. left the property and the persons of the citizens without guarantee; it was necessary to prove that the object of our enterprise was also the aggrandisement of the house of Savoy, the consolidation of its power, and at the same time, the emancipation of the Italian country, in a manner that our most sacred duties and our dearest affections were identified in our designs ; it was neces sary to prove that this enterprise, however audacious it might seem, presented, notwithstanding, great chances of success it was necessary to show in what way the inaction of the Prince of Carignan during his Regency hindered us from profiting by the sole advantages of our situation, how his unworthy flight overwhelmed the nation which in him had placed all its hopes, and in what way our courage would have restored those hopes, had not the unexpected fall of another betrayed nation lost all; it was necessary to demonstrate how men who ctuate between two parties become fatal to their country, and how much the liberal Prince whose arm does not serve his opinions, must expect the reproaches of posterity, and humiliation on the part of men against whom he has not dared to fight, and to whom he has prepared victory by his feebleness and irresolution ; it was necessary again to show that true patriots know how to sacrifice their attachment to this or that political theory, when the interest of their country requires it, and to show that had the Liberals of Piedmont, after the conduct of the Neapolitan Parliament, been attached to any other Constitution than the Spanish, they would have made themselves the artisans of discord in Italy; it was also necessary to show that the justice and moderation of the Constitutional Government, having conciliated the affection and esteem of the people, the cause of liberty, in spite of the misfortunes which befel it, could only be vanquished by the assistance of foreigners; it was necessary, in fine, to show how much the totality of circumstances which enfeebled unfortunate Piedmont, rendered the consequences of the disaster of Novaro irreparable.

All this, I believe, I have performed in the eyes of honest men,

and the enlightened and sincere friends of liberty, who compose the great majority of the people of Europe. I do not flatter myself with obtaining more equity from our enemies: it is useless to seek to convince them of the purity and generosity of our intentions, they will not be the less anxious on that account to repeat their calumnies. How can they exist without them? As they have none to relate, they must needs have recourse to their invention ; for it concerns them too much to injure us in the estimation of the Italians, and thereby deprive us of that respect due, perhaps, to our misfortunes and to our sacrifices. But let them not deceive themselves. Not one of our compatriots will judge of us from the assertion of our common enemies.

But this is not yet sufficient, and it is not the sole purpose of this work: it is necessary that the Italians should rest their attention on the situation of their country, and on the faults and consequences of the failure of their Revolution. This Revolution is the first which has been attempted in Italy for many ages, without the assistance and intervention of foreigners ; it is the first which has shown two portions of the Italian people

corresponding with each other from the two extremities of the Peninsula. Its result, I know too well, has been to subject Italy entirely to Austria ; but let the Austrians beware; Italy is conquered, but not subdued. Besides, what was Italy before the month of July, 1820 ? was it not already the slave of the Emperor of Austria, from the time that the courts of Naples and Turin had made an engagement with him, to refuse to their people the benefit of political institutions ? Our late misfortunes have, then, only rendered our position clearer, our servitude more direct, and display our chains more openly

The emancipation of Italy will be an event of the 19th century; the signal has been given. Our enemies may prepare at their leisure the lists of proscription, and the good-natured Italian Princes

may continue to serve the interests of Austria, to admiration, as they would sooner reign by her permission than by the laws. Austria may leave them to do so, and begin to reap the fruits of their blindness; but all are deceived: the passion of the Italians for their national independence increases by the sacrifices which it costs them. The power of Austria may retard the moment, but it will only serve to render the explosion more terrible. Our ancestors have given us great examples, which will not be lost; and when another European war shall arrive, and Austria shall demand of the Italians their children and their money to support its interests, the Italians will perhaps know better how to employ them.

« AnteriorContinuar »