The Roman Question eBook

Edmond François Valentin About
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 233 pages of information about The Roman Question.

Their army was looked upon with no very favourable eye; neither indeed was ours:  the radical party was opposed both to their presence and ours.  Some stray soldiers of both armies were killed.  The French army defended itself courteously, the Austrian army revenged itself.  In three years, from the first of January, 1850, to the 1st of January, 1853, we shot three murderers.  Austria has a heavier hand:  she has executed not only criminals, but thoughtless, and even innocent people.  I have already given some terrible figures, and will spare you their repetition.

From the day when the Pope condescended to return home, the French army withdrew into the background; it hastened to restore to the pontifical government all its powers.  Austria has only restored what it could not keep.  She even still undertakes to repress political crimes.  She feels personally wronged if a cracker is let off, if a musket is concealed:  in short, she fancies herself in Lombardy.

At Rome, the French place themselves at the disposal of the Pope for the maintenance of order and public security.  Our soldiers have too much honesty to let a murderer or a thief who is within their reach escape.  The Austrians pretend that they are not gendarmes, to arrest malefactors; each individual soldier considers himself the agent of the old diplomatists, charged with none but political functions:  police matters are not within his province.  What is the consequence?  The Austrian army, after carefully disarming the citizens, delivers them over to malefactors, without the means of protection.

At Bologna, a merchant of the name of Vincenzio Bedini was pointed out to me, who had been robbed in his warehouse at six o’clock in the evening.  An Austrian sentinel was on guard at his door.

Austria has good reasons for encouraging disorders in the provinces she occupies:  the greater the frequency of crime, and the difficulty of governing the people, the greater is the necessity for the presence of an Austrian army.  Every murder, every theft, every burglary, every assault, tends to strike the roots of these old diplomatists more deep into the kingdom of the Pope.

France would rejoice to be able to recall her troops.  She feels that their presence at Rome is not a normal state of things:  she is herself more shocked than anybody else at this irregularity.  She has reduced, as much as possible, the effective force of her occupying army; she would embark her remaining regiments, were she not aware that to do so would be to deliver the Pope over to the executioner.  Mark the extent to which she carries her disinterestedness in the affairs of Italy.  In order to place the Holy Father in a condition to defend himself alone, she is trying to create for him a national army.  The Pope possesses at the present time four regiments of French manufacture; if they are not very good, or rather, not to be relied upon, it is not the fault of the French.  The priestly government has itself alone to blame.  Our generals have done all in their power, not only to drill the Pope’s soldiers, but to inspire them with that military spirit which the Cardinals carefully endeavour to stifle.  Is it likely that we shall find the Austrian army seeking to render its presence needless, and spontaneously returning home?

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The Roman Question from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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