Hoping this era, I remain at present here. Should my hopes be dashed to the ground, it will not change my faith, but the struggle for its manifestation is to me of vital interest. My friends write to urge my return; they talk of our country as the land of the future. It is so, but that spirit which made it all it is of value in my eyes, which gave all of hope with which I can sympathize for that future, is more alive here at present than in America. My country is at present spoiled by prosperity, stupid with the lust of gain, soiled by crime in its willing perpetuation of slavery, shamed by an unjust war, noble sentiment much forgotten even by individuals, the aims of politicians selfish or petty, the literature frivolous and venal. In Europe, amid the teachings of adversity, a nobler spirit is struggling,—a spirit which cheers and animates mine. I hear earnest words of pure faith and love. I see deeds of brotherhood. This is what makes my America. I do not deeply distrust my country. She is not dead, but in my time she sleepeth, and the spirit of our fathers flames no more, but lies hid beneath the ashes. It will not be so long; bodies cannot live when the soul gets too overgrown with gluttony and falsehood. But it is not the making a President out of the Mexican war that would make me wish to come back. Here things are before my eyes worth recording, and, if I cannot help this work, I would gladly be its historian.
Returning from a little tour in the Alban Mount, where everything looks so glorious this glorious spring, I find a temporary quiet. The Pope’s brothers have come to sympathize with him; the crowd sighs over what he has done, presents him with great bouquets of flowers, and reads anxiously the news from the north and the proclamations of the new ministry. Meanwhile the nightingales sing; every tree and plant is in flower, and the sun and moon shine as if paradise were already re-established on earth. I go to one of the villas to dream it is so, beneath the pale light of the stars.
REVIEW OF THE COURSE OF PIUS IX.—MAMIANI.—THE
HOPES.—THE MONUMENTS IN MILAN, NAPLES, ETC.—THE KING OF NAPLES AND
HIS TROOPS.—CALAMITIES OF THE WAR.—THE ITALIAN PEOPLE.—CHARLES
ALBERT.—DEDUCTIONS.—SUMMER AMONG THE MOUNTAINS OF ITALY.
Rome, December 2, 1848.
I have not written for six months, and within that time what changes have taken place on this side “the great water,”—changes of how great dramatic interest historically,—of bearing infinitely important ideally! Easy is the descent in ill.
I wrote last when Pius IX. had taken the first stride on the downward road. He had proclaimed himself the foe of further reform measures, when he implied that Italian independence was not important in his eyes, when he abandoned the crowd of heroic youth who had gone to the field with his benediction, to some of whom his own hand had given crosses. All the Popes, his predecessors, had meddled with, most frequently instigated, war; now came one who must carry out, literally, the doctrines of the Prince of Peace, when the war was not for wrong, or the aggrandizement of individuals, but to redeem national, to redeem human, rights from the grasp of foreign oppression.