Although the political unity and independence of Italy have been effected, it is not yet a country to be envied. The weight of taxation to support the government is an almost intolerable burden. No country in the world is so heavily taxed in proportion to its resources and population. Great ignorance is still the misfortune of Italy, especially in the central and southern provinces. Education is at a low ebb, and only a small part of the population can even read and write, except in Piedmont. The spiritual despotism of the Pope still enslaves the bulk of the people, who are either Roman Catholics with mediaeval superstitions, or infidels with hostility to all religion based on the Holy Scriptures. Nothing there as yet flourishes like the civilization of France, Germany, and England.
And yet it is to be hoped that a better day has dawned on a country endeared to Christendom for its glorious past and its classic associations. It is a great thing that a liberal and enlightened government now unites all sections of the country, and that a constitutional monarch, with noble impulses, reigns in the “Eternal City,” rather than a bigoted ecclesiastical pontiff averse to all changes and improvements, having nothing in common with European sovereigns but patronage of art, which may be Pagan in spirit rather than Christian. The great drawback to Italian civilization at present is the foolish race of the nation with great military monarchies in armies and navies, which occupies the energies of the country, rather than a development of national resources in commerce, agriculture, and the useful arts.
Alison’s History of Europe; Lives of Cavour, Mazzini, Garibaldi; Fyffe’s Modern Europe; Mackenzie’s History of the Nineteenth Century; Biography of Marshal Radetsky; Annual Register; Biography of Charles Albert; Ellesmere, as quoted by Alison; Memoirs of Prince Metternich; Carlo Botta’s History of Italy.
THE CRIMEAN WAR.
For centuries before the Russian empire was consolidated by the wisdom, the enterprise, and the conquests of Peter the Great, the Russians cast longing eyes on Constantinople as the prize most precious and most coveted in their sight.
From Constantinople, the capital of the Greek empire when the Turks were a wandering and unknown Tartar tribe in the northern part of Asia, had come the religion that was embraced by the ancient czars and the Slavonic races which they ruled. To this Greek form of Christianity the Russians were devotedly attached. They were semi-barbarians, and yet bigoted Christians. In the course of centuries their priests came to possess immense power,—social and political, as well as ecclesiastical. The Patriarch of Moscow was the second personage of the empire, and the third dignitary in the Greek Church. Religious forms and dogmas bound the Russians with the Greek population