The Greatest Writer of the 19th Century » Brownson's Writings » Pius the Ninth

Pius the Ninth

Brownson's Quarterly Review, January, 1848
Art. VI. - Pius the Ninth, and the Political Regenera­tion of Italy.
Freedom and improvement walking hand in hand, with re­ligion for their guide, is a spectacle, which, while it reflects immortal honor on the age wherein it is exhibited, cannot fail to excite the admiration and praise of generations to come. History will record the great names of those who endeavour to chain interest to the throne of virtue, and to imitate the divine legislation by deriving the strength of their dominion from happiness and order, reserving force for those only who are so perverse as not to value the blessings of the one or the security of the other. Meanwhile, we, as Catholics, may feel a noble pride - the pride of children in their mother's great­ness- at witnessing the High Priest of our holy religion in­augurate this reign of peaceful glory, and at hearing the peal which Summons a great nation to rise from its slumbers, loose the bonds from its neck, and resume its garment of joy, issue from the sanctuary of the Christian Church.
The ashes of the Fisherman slumber beneath the shrine of the Vatican, a fitting sepulchre ; but we behold a new and brilliant proof that the vivifying spirit with which his Divine Master endued him on the shores of Galilee was not entombed with them, but was bequeathed, like the prophetic mantle of old, to his successor.
A condensed sketch of the principal circumstances, which, duly considered, will enable them to judge of the true atti­tude of the present Holy Father, with regard to his temporal dominions, of the difficulties against which he has had to strug­gle in introducing social reforms, of his prudence, and of the probability of his success, cannot, therefore, fail to command the attention of our readers, to whom we should do no slight injustice, if we supposed for a moment that they could be in­different to the well-being of the native land of Columbus and Americo, the nursery of religion, science, and the arts, - classic, holy, beautiful Italy, - or to the hero of our age, the honor of religion, the friend of improvement, our great and glorious Pope, Pius the Ninth.
Caesar is represented by Lucan in the act of pausing, in his march to Rome, on the banks of the Rubicon, the boundary line of its immediate territory, as if then and there alone his gigantic enterprise had burst in its true light upon his mind. The same feelings of anxiety which agitated the breast of the conqueror, whose powerful arm lacerated the charter of Ro­man freedom, must have filled, from different motives, the heart of the Pontiff, on the eve of the publication of the far-famed decree of the Amnesty. This great decree was the Declaration of Roman independence, the harbinger of a new order of things, the corner-stone of a system which was to change the political condition of Italy, and to elicit a voice of surprise and exultation from all the inhabitants of the earth. The Pontiff might have assented, as had been done before, to the liberation of a few privileged individuals through a solitary act of mercy, - but a total and unreserved grant of forgive­ness he could not have signed, without willingly or unwillingly persevering in the career of which such a grant was the first step. In order to understand and admire more fully the mag­nanimity which dictated this step, let us recall briefly the cir­cumstances of the new Pope's position, and take a cursory view of the events which gave rise to the present liberal feel­ing in Italy.
The first blow struck at the system of exaggerated conserv­atism,- the conservatism of abuses, - in modern days, was the independence of this country, asserted at a time when the claim seemed almost ridiculous, and achieved, after a brief struggle, in spite of revered prescription and superior force. The principle, that rational liberty is a vested right of the people, which to withhold is tyrannical in a ruler, to regain heroic in a nation, was first practically proclaimed to the world by our gallant forefathers at Lexington and Bunker's Hill. Had every people claimed their rights with equal moderation, resorting to force only when driven to it by the unjustifiable obstinacy of governments, the past century, and the present, would not have so many fearful crimes to account for at the bur of Eternal Justice. But the just and true principles of popular freedom were appealed to as the apology for criminal excess ; and the horrors of the French Revolution were the first baneful fruit of their perversion. The spirit of liberty, how­ever, was abroad, and its power shook the thrones of the earth. In some regions it produced tumult and bloodshed, but was quelled by the overwhelming force of its opponents. In other places it merely required and obtained redress of grievances, or a modification of the existing forms of power. Let us con­sider the effects produced by the new reign of ideas in Italy.
The report that the colonies of Great Britain, on the distant shores of North America, had thrown oft' their allegiance to the mother country, produced little or no excitement in Rome, where political innovations were considered worthy of particular attention only when they could be practically repre­sented by the fig of Cato. The Romans were too indolent, or too wise, to trouble themselves about the dissensions of a people of whom they knew little more, at the time, than that they lived on the other side of the ocean. But, for the con­trary reason, the tidings of the French Revolution struck horror and dismay to every generous heart ; and the liberty which could raise its head and smile, amid such revolting scenes as were of daily occurrence in the public squares of Paris and Lyons, was regarded as a demon let loose upon earth, -• an appellation frequently given to it by the Italian poets of the time.
Still, there were men in Italy imbued with the principles of the Gallic philosophy, - men who labored under pecuniary embarrassments, or were impatient of all restraint, - and these envied the adventurers of the French anarchy, and longed for the time when, imitating their violence, they might enjoy their good fortune by fishing for office and opulence in the waters of society, made turbid under the specious pretext of social reform. The storm soon rolled on and darkened the shores of Italy. The queen of nations now became a province of Gaul, whose strong men were once brought to Rome to waste their lives, for the amusement of their conquerors, in the slav­ish occupation of gladiators ! *(footnote: * The manner in which the French generals, and the men whom they raised to office in the Roman and Alpine Republics, oppressed, exhausted, and debased them, is generally known, and could not have been more un­just, or more rude, had their administration been intended as a retaliation for ancient wrongs.)
The transition of France from a republican bedlam to an absolute monarchy, which occurred soon after, improved not the hapless condition of Italy. The healhen Directory, whose members considered the Son of God highly honored by the title of " Citizen Christ," dragged Pope Pius the Sixth to die, an aged and suffering exile, in Valence ; and the first and last of u Most Christian " emperors dared to raise his sacrilegious hand to menace Pius the Seventh, his prisoner at Fontaine-bleau. Still, at the time appointed by the Most High, the scourge of his anger passed away, the home of the Italian was disencumbered of foreign usurpers, and the Martyr-Pontiff re­turned once more to his see. The brief reign of the French had produced, however, a strong impression and lasting effects on the holy side of the Alps. The doctrines of liberty and kquality, arrayed in French fashion, had spread far and wide through the land ; secret societies had been organized in dif­ferent places ; the good and the bad of the whole nation had been roused from their lethargy by the stirring events of that memorable period. The factious and the rebellious lamented that the times of turmoil and impunity should have passed away so soon ; and many of those who would have remained faithful to their sovereigns permitted their allegiance to be shaken by the noisy declamation of their restless fellow-citizens.
Yet, down to this time, all parties seemed to view the reno­vation of Italy, not as a peaceable amelioration to be effected through legitimate means, and with the blessing of religion, but as a forbidden fruit to be snatched with the fearful joy of crime. The Church, without whose fiat no extensive change in Italy was ever obtained even in part, and without whose co­operation it would be vain to attempt to remodel the social order of the whole country in any rational form, could not sanction the cry of liberty as raised in the beginning of this century in Europe ; for the few voices that uttered it with the reverence due to that sacred word were drowned in the deliri­ous uproar of the multitude, who used it as synonymous with the wildest anarchy. If, then, the Church kept her old stand­ard, and remained conservative on the side chosen by all the elder European governments, the cause was not any predilec­tion in her for absolutism, but the fault of the pretended patri­ots, who sought for a change which would only have given to the people their lawless and grasping dictatorship in lieu of the ancient sovereignties.
The Lombardo-Venetian kingdom was the only part of Italy which claimed a definite reform, the particulars of which were laid down with precision. The demand put forward there was, to be redeemed from the yoke of Austria, and to exist once more as a nation of Italians, not as a populace of German serfs. Many of the noblest and most gifted sons of Northern Italy identified themselves with the national cause, and Italy's rights were advocated by the serried arguments of the philosopher and the lofty aspirations of the poet.
The error which they committed was that  of  the  Irish Patriots of '98. They determined 'to obtain by a plot, ma­tured in secret and to end in bloodshed, what they could hope to accomplish, or at least to prepare, only by persevering and constitutional agitation. The strong arm of Austria cut asun­der the threads of their machinations, and led those who were saved from the scaflbld, either to bedew with tears the hard bread of the prisoner, or to wander unpitied and alone in eter­nal exile from their native shores.
The attempt made by the Lombard patriots, and the failure of their plot, resounded over all Italy. Austria, alarmed by their schemes, after having destroyed the authors of them, in­sured her sway by drawing closer and tighter the bands of op­pression ; and the other Italian governments, in the apprehen­sion of similar attempts, imitated her example. Still, the spirit of discontent ceased not its silent work, and a new proof that it was not dead was exhibited, in the Pontifical States, at the accession of Gregory the Sixteenth to the chair of St. Peter.
The revolution of 1831 was, in its abettors, its motives, and its object, less honorable than the Lombard movement. Its abettors were chiefly the malcontent and disreputable por­tion of the community, leavened with the old French Revolu­tionary spirit. Many of them were officers and soldiers in retirement, and nearly all of them were Carbonari. They hated the quiet government of the Pope, under whom the exciting scenes in which they had been actors during the clays of the republic and the empire were unknown ; and their ob­ject was, generally speaking, nothing but plunder and revolt.*(footnote: * As an illustration to the purpose, it is a remarkable fact that one of those who were placed for a time in personal danger by their lawless pro­ceedings was the Archbishop of Spoleto, now Pope Pius, and one most active and effectual in repressing them his cousin, the chivalric Secretary of State, Cardinal Ferretli.)  Bologna and some other cities joined in the rebellion, with the hope of escaping from the rule of their unpopular governors. But no representation of their grievances preceded their rash and injudicious outbreak, and their aim was so undefined, that in Rome itself, when the military were led out upon the Piazza of the Column of Trajan, to quell the insurgents, they were received with discordant and ridiculous cries by the rabble, some exclaiming, " Viva la Libert^ ! " " Viva la Republica ! " others, " Death to the Pope ! " and others even, " Long life to Louis Philippe ! "
The good sense of the true Roman people - and their deportment is a redeeming feature of those turbulent times - taught them that such a disgraceful insurrection was neither calculated to do honor to their country, nor to correct what was wrong in its administration. The Trasteverini especially, who are now such enthusiastic defenders of Pius the Ninth and his wise ameliorations, sided not with the profligate and bank­rupt Liberals who opposed Pope Gregory ; and as in Italy every feeling elevated above the ordinary routine has its expres­sion in music and poetry, a tarantella or ballad in the popular dialect was composed for the occasion, and sung through the streets, which is well remembered in Rome to the present day. One stanza of it ran thus : -
" Santo Padre ! non tremate Se sentite archibugiate; Che per farvi star sicuro C e Clemente e Peppe il Duro." *(footnote: * " Holy Father ! tremble not
If thou hearest their guns fire 
For to assure thee
Thou hast Clement and Joseph surnamed the Tough.")

Clement and " Joseph the Tough," were the Ciceroacchios of '31.    The refrain of the ballad was,-
" Chi non dice Viva Gregorio Si prepari al mortorio." (footnote: " Let those who say not' Life to Gregory ' Get ready for their funeral.")
But under the melancholy auspices and amidst the extraor­dinary difficulties mentioned before, began the reign of Gregory the Sixteenth, - a prince of great benevolence of heart and extensive learning, worthy of better times, or, at least, of more prudent advisers. Those by whom alone the real liberties of the people could have been properly asserted kept aloof from the movement of the self-styled Liberals, which they consid­ered only as a puny and spurious imitation of the French Rev­olution, and those who came forward professing to be the or­gans of the people were interested and "faithless demagogues. What course could the new Pontiff adopt ? His kind and generous disposition was met uncandidly and rudely by a rabble he had never offended. No one came to his aid, who was able and wise enough to help him ; no man of powerful intellect and established popularity was found to indicate the proper course to be followed, or to conciliate the affections of his people in his favor.    The country was not ripe for renova­tion, nor had the day appointed for it arrived.
Gregory saw not at home a friendly power upon which he could rely for support in his greatest need, and in an evil hour for the country, it was supplied by the proffer of Austrian intervention. By the aid of friendly bayonets, insurrection was quelled, and the new sovereign's influence was forced to work as part of a system composed of two other and unwhole­some elements, - the mean chicanery and petty tyranny of subalterns, and the gratuitous and unjust, yet perpetual, inter­ference of foreign envoys residing at Rome. A conservative stand once taken, the correction of every abuse was sought from the vigilance or interposition of the civil authority, until this omnipresent government became a heavy burden both for the people and their virtuous and benevolent sovereign. It became, however, gradually understood all over Italy, that this order of things could not last for ever.
Endowed with at least equal genius and better natural ad­vantages, the people of Southern Italy remained stationary while the world all around was undergoing a change, believed to be for the better. In the course of time, the horror of in­novation, so characteristic of the Italians, began gradually to subside, and the more powerful minds of the nation were com­pelled to charge themselves with the task of ascertaining the applicability of the principles of social reform to the wants and deficiencies of their country. They began to look upon the regeneration of Italy now, not as a dream, but as a necessity ; and fortunately they understood that so desirable a consumma­tion was not to be brought about by a faction, but by the na­tion at large ; not by the people alone, but by their sovereigns ; not in spite of the religion of Italy, but with its approval and by its concurrence.
The powerful and elegant writer, Vincenzo Gioberti, of Turin, was the first well-known genius who seized upon the idea that the regeneration was to come from the good, by law­ful means, and to place it before the people in its true light. In his Moral and Civil Primacy of the Italians, he told his countrymen, in glowing terms, of the glory of their ancestors, who had excelled in military renown, and in every branch of science and literature, beyond all competition. He showed them what they were capable of accomplishing ; he roused the moral power of the nation, and directed it towards a definite object, by telling the people and their sovereigns what end they should strive to keep in view. The plan which, accord­ing to his advice, was to be carried out, consisted in a consti­tutional arrangement of the affairs of Italy, in pursuance of which Austria was to yield up peaceably to the Italian princes the apple of discord, her Lombardo-Venetian provinces, and to receive a compensation, by the consent of the greater powers, in some other region. The princes of Italy, without losing any of their rights, were to unite for their general good understanding and security in a confederation, similar to that of Germany, with the Pope at its head, as the least likely to inspire distrust or jealousy. The work of Gioberti was somewhat enthusi­astic, perhaps dreamy, and his summary disposal of the penin­sula seemed too arbitrary to be ever effected. In some in­stances, too, lie allowed his private disagreements to lend a tone of unjust and unprofitable severity to a book intended for the impartial instruction of the public. Still, it made the Italian Revolutionaries pause to reflect, and understand that violence is not a prudent beginning, where mutual confidence and union are the ultimate object, and that, as they had tried in vain to arrange their difficulties by getting rid of the Pope, they had better make the most of him by soliciting the aid of his powerful authority. The body of the people at large, and the clergy, who understood that some extensive re­organization must eventually take place, were delighted at the proposal of a methodical adjustment of things, which did not make it necessary for them to sacrifice their religion and plunge into the worst of all public evils, an intestine war. The work of Gioberti became the theme of every tongue, and had an immense merit in schooling the minds of the people and preparing them for the great events that Providence ordained to take place.*(footnote: * We speak here only of the first edition of Gioborti's work. We de­test as much as any body can what he says of the Jesuits in the Prole­gomena to his second edition.)

Cesare Balbo, one of the most influential members of the Sardinian cabinet, followed, explained and partially modified the views of Gioberti, in his work, The Hopes of Italy. An­other of the most popular authors of the day, the Marquis d'Azeglio, author of the celebrated romance, The Challenge of Barletta, pursued the favorite subject in his new book, The Last Events of Romagna, in the same practical and popular spirit.
Thus had an all-wise Providence gradually disposed the Italian public for a change, upon sound, and not anti-religious principles. The feasibility of a great bloodless revolution was canvassed down to the minutest details of its execution, and although it was not known from what point of the peninsula the unusual movement would receive its earliest impulse, all felt confident that something great to be performed was no longer a matter of choice, but a solution as inevitable as it was expected to prove beneficial.
This condensed historical sketch of the state of Italy pre­vious to the accession of Cardinal Mastai to the Pontifical throne was necessary in order to give our readers a correct idea of the circumstances in which the new sovereign was then placed, and the main features of his position and policy can now be easily and briefly traced. Let us, then, see how he found himself situated at the time in regard to his people, to the Church, and to foreign powers.
His people, as it appears from what we have said, were already ripe for great and durable changes. They were pre­pared to receive them thankfully from authority, and to cooper­ate for them, under its guidance, upon sober and reasonable principles. The deportment of Pius, and the rapidity of his reforms, sufficiently prove this to have been his own convic­tion. We may add, that it was the firm opinion of every body conversant with the state of affairs in Italy, that, had not the rights of a nation been conceded by some power, human or divine, a desperate effort would have been made to seize them, not by an obscure faction, but by almost every individual who did not believe patient endurance or thoughtless repose ever preferable to an open claim of indemnity, or who did not hold all popular revolutions, even when inevitable, to be evil in them­selves. What was his position in regard to the Church ? - It is singular to notice the awkward accounts given of this par­ticular by different classes of people, when the news of the changes at Rome began to be diffused abroad. Some of the Rationalistic, or, if we may so distinguish them, of the Mac-aulay school, saw nothing in Pius the Ninth but a man of powerful genius in the act of giving a new form to the beautiful system framed by men similarly gifted who had gone before him. Of Protestants in general, some wisely discovered that a new, thorough, godly reformation was on the carpet ; some saw nothing but a cunning artifice of Austria in disguise; while others hesitated, uncertain what opinion to express at what they considered as the novel event of Antichrist transformed suddenly into a George Washington !
The only persons who spoke rationally were the unpreju­diced friends of true liberty, who cheerfully applauded the extension of its blessings to the Italian people ; and the Catho­lics, who were, moreover, rejoiced at viewing the action of the Holy See, freed from all the hateful trammels of secular intru­sion, manifest itself with the vivifying spirit with which it was animated, at first, by that heavenly Founder who promised to be with it for ever.
The Church from the very beginning fearlessly proclaimed the doctrine, that there is a moral force, more powerful than the will of monarchs, derived from a sublimer source than merely human legislation. To this doctrine, under God, she owes her existence and increase, during the first three centu­ries, against the tyranny of pagan Rome, and, after Rome had bowed to her sceptre, against imperial usurpation and feudal intrusion, during the Middle Ages. If our Leos, our Inno­cents, our Gregories, and our Hildebrands are admired for their indomitable courage, it is because they opposed the un­just claims of the heads of empires and of armies. During the struggles of the commonwealths of Italy against the em­perors of Germany, the head of the Guelph or national parly was the Pope. Alexander the Third, of glorious memory, went to Lombardy in person to unite the principalities and the free cities of the North in the far-famed league against Frederic, and if he did not himself mount horse and lead them to the field of battle, as Julius would have done, he lifted up his hands to heaven and blessed their banners, as the army of patriots passed before him in military array. The city of Alex­andria in Piedmont was built by the allies, as a monument of gratitude to the Pontiff after whom it was named, and exists to this day to bear testimony to the memorable event.
Even the ambition of the Borgias, with the sixth Alexander at their head, had for its object to drive all French, Spanish, and German interlopers over the Alps, and to unite all Italy in one compact monarchy under the sway of their house,- a sway that would have been at least home-born and congenial.
If the Church in later times has lent her influence to main­tain conservatism in Europe, it has been only because the fanatical advances and the indiscriminate violence of the re­formers of Germany, England, and France, and of their philo­sophical pupils, the Terrorists of the Convention, have rendered such a course wise and necessary for public order. What superstition is to religion, anarchy is to liberty.    Now that the thinking portion of politicians, all over the world, have purified the true gold of liberty from the base alloy of anarchy, the Church claims it again as her own, and as an ornament which only became foreign to her, when its character, by the folly and madness of its pretended friends, was rendered doubtful, and its value uncertain. The Church thus proves that it is never necessary for her security to be behind the wise amelio­rations which the changes inevitable in human affairs demand from age to age, and from people to people, and, truly univer­sal, she not only follows with a firm and certain step the march of events, but even directs them powerfully to their true goal, - the social happiness of nations.
What, finally, was the position of Pius in regard to foreign powers ? He certainly owed them no debt of gratitude, where­with he may be reproached, now that he has dared to arrange the affairs of his family without seeking their advice or court­ing their approval. Many encroachments had been made by them, which were protested against in vain ; and many agree­ments concluded with them by his predecessors, of which they enjoyed all the advantages, and the Popes endured the un­pleasant restraint. Concordats had been most prudently and candidly arranged by the nuncios of Rome to the different capitals, with the existing monarcli3, or by the Pontiffs at Rome with the representatives of foreign princes ; but the result was almost invariably, that, while the Pope was com­pelled to fulfil on his part every iota of the contracts mutually signed, the monarchs, generally speaking, had scarcely sealed the stipulation with their ultimatum when they violated its most important clauses.*(footnote: * The Pope might have addressed to some of the monarchs who ad­vanced to give him greeting the interrogation of our blessed Saviour, which the Romans, with one of those withering satirical allusions for which they are so famous, addressed to the Emperor of Russia when he went to give Ins kiss of peace to Gregory the Sixteenth : ¦- " Amice, ad quid venisti ? - Friend, whereto art thou come!"  (Matt. xxv. 50.)) As a recompense for their want of faith, they graciously extended their patronage to the Pope, their protection to the Holy See, and Austria especially was ever ready to hand over to the Italian police any unfortunate youth who had used the word " freedom " in a sonnet to the Shade of Dante, but was always deaf when the Papal nuncio solicited the restoration of a parish priest, suspended, because he did his duty, by a colonel of carbiniers.
Each succeeding act of officiousness and usurpation rendered the Pope's protectors physically stronger, but increased and strengthened on his side that moral power, which, impelled by Pope Pius as a weighty engine against Austrian influence in Italy, has shattered it, let us hope, for ever. May the prayers of all good Christians hasten on the happy day when that bird of ill omen, the double-headed eagle, will cease to darken, not only Ferrara, but even Milan, with its lugubrious presence !
Our readers will perceive that our object thus far has not been so much to extol those traits of magnanimity and benevo­lence of our beloved Holy Father which have been so justly and frequently lauded by the press, as to show that the course of which the promulgation of the decree of amnesty was the first irretrievable step was a course rendered advisable by every circumstance of time and place, - a course inspired by the principles of humanity, virtue, and patriotism, - a course which was not merely the advance of one benevolent individ­ual, but of a whole nation, - a course adopted with mature and prudent deliberation.
Should the views proposed have, perchance, the effect of inclining some to think that Giovanni Maria Mastai, taken as a man and a politician, is not after all so wonderful as he is repre­sented to be, that, since he has only obeyed the mandate of the age and nation over which he is called to preside, his foresight and his ability do not appear after all so very surprising, - should they be thought to warrant such a conclusion, then must we say that Pius the Ninth is not a statesman at all, but a hero ! ! He is a prophet, an apostle sent upon earth by the God of nations. In him, then, must we see personified and individualized the spirit of moral power in this century, as in the last the soul of physical force was embodied in Napoleon Bonaparte. Then let Austria quail beneath his gaze, for Pi­us is not simply a hero, but a host, - not merely a patriot, but a nation, - not only a holy man, but religion ! As it has been said that Ireland was O'Connell, and O'Connell Ireland, so now far more truly may we say Italy is Mastai, and Mas­tai is Italy ! But while we admire the wisdom of the Supreme Ruler in preparing and arranging the materials of such a mighty task as that of rousing a grtfat nation from the slumber of ages, let us not offend that wisdom by forgetting the extraor­dinary personage whom God has appointed to perform it. In our admirable army, when a general has fallen upon the field of battle, a hitherto unknown officer is sometimes seen to assume the command, and by his coolness and valor to extricate his warriors from a position of jeopardy and exposure.    In like manner did Pius step forth from the ranks, in the moment of difficulty, and with calm and resolute dignity seat himself upon the first of earthly thrones, and by the waving of his hand com­pose to peace and tranquillity the stormy elements whose inces­sant turmoil had rendered so difficult the times of his venerable predecessor.    Who taught him to wear with ease the garments of sovereignty, who, a few days before, had only shown himself an individual adorned with  the private virtues of integrity and prudence ?    Where did he learn to walk without discomfort in the  brilliant but heavy panoply of a hero, who was but a fit shepherd for a small and remote portion of the Christian fold ? From his quiet and secluded home, he studied the condition of his native country and the wants of his fellow-citizens.   He explained to himself the secret causes of division and mistrust, and divined the charm whose virtue was adequate to remove the motives of complaint.    It is said, that he had registered the fruits  of his long and accurate investigation, in the  view of bequeathing, at his death, to the Pontiff" who should then fill the chair of St. Peter, a book to serve as a guide towards the most certain and expeditious method of raising Italy to the level of modern improvement.    And when called, himself, by the inscrutable dispensations of Providence, to fulfil the sublime duty which he had so much at heart, O, how the spirit of noble generosity and paternal benevolence pervaded the whole system of his government!      The decree of amnesty is  a beautiful example to show that these qualities are as great in the reigning Pontiff as are his consummate skill and unpar­alleled wisdom.    We must be allowed to recall to the memory of our readers the beginning of that celebrated decree, the wording of which is the first, and a faithful, specimen of Pius the Ninth's diplomacy : -
" Pius IX., Pope,
"to his most faithful subjects.
" During the days when our heart was deeply moved by the public rejoicing at our exaltation to the Pontificate, we were unable to repel an emotion of sorrow, upon thinking that not a few families of our subjects were held back from a full participation in the common joy, because, in the deprivation of domestic comfort, they suffered a great portion of the punishment merited by some relative who had done injury to social order and the sacred rights of his legitimate sovereign. In like manner we turned an eye of compassion upon many inexperienced young men, who, although drawn by fallacious inducements into political turmoil, seemed to us rather the victims than the authors of seduction. From that very time, therefore, it was our intention to extend our hand and offer peace to the children who had gone astray, should they wish to exhibit signs of repentance. The attachment which our good people has shown to us, and the evidence of constant veneration which the Holy Sec has received in our person, have assured us that we can pardon without danger to the public. Accordingly, we ordain and direct that the opening of our Pontificate be solem­nized by the following acts of sovereign grace.
" I. To all our subjects who find themselves at the present mo­ment in a place of correction, on account of political offences, we forgive the remainder of their penalty, provided they solemnly make a written declaration, upon their personal honor, that they will not at any time, or in any place, abuse this concession, but that they will rather endeavour to fulfil every duty of a faith­ful subject.
" II. Under the same condition, all those subjects who have gone to foreign parts for political motives will be received again into our States," &c, &c, &c.
These words were a signal for entoning a hymn of thanks­giving by millions of happy men. When tlie bereaved mother, the daughter, the spouse, the sister, of the captive and the exile read those words, tears of gratitude and joy gushed from their full hearts, and, fervently kissing the doc­ument which bore them, they lifted up their eyes and their hands to heaven, praying that God would bless and protect that Father who in the days of his exaltation had thought of the secret grief of their unhappy families. And when the decree of mercy was read to the emaciated prisoner himself, - " What," he exclaimed, "am I to give promise of submission and just obedience upon no bond but mine honor, ¦- I, who would not have been listened to before now as capable of uttering a truth, though accompanied by the most sacred and awful oaths ? " - and seizing the pen with which he was to sign the sentence of his own liberation, he wrote, while his hand trembled with emotion, that he would yield up his blood and his soul in defence of the great and good Pius, who rendered his benefits a bond of double" force by the winning grace and magnanimous generosity with which he conferred them.
After the promulgation of the decree of amnesty, some time was spent by the Holy Father in maturing his designs of improvement. This circumstance should not be forgotten by those who are tempted to think that he proceeds too rapidly in his measures of reform. Although day after day he was closeted with the wisest amongst the cardinals, with the Ro­man princes, and the true friends of the people, still weeks and months rolled by and no radical or general amelioration was announced. An incident was recounted in Rome at the time, which may be mentioned as characteristic of his appro­priate and graceful manner of doing even a little thing well. A sheet of gilt-edged paper was found by a prelate, one after­noon, upon the staircase that leads to the Pope's apartments in the Vatican, bearing two Italian verses, the sense of which was, -
" Mastai, you promised wonders, Pray what are they to be ? "
The Holy Father was not in the palace, but when he passed through the antechamber upon his return, the prelate present­ed the curiosity to him. Having read the verses, he quietly took a pen from a table near at hand, and in his usual happy and easy mood completed the stanza with no unsatisfactory answer,-
u Mastai, you promised wonders, Pray what are they to be ? "
" Have patience yet a little while, And I will let you see ! "
He has redeemed his promise. By resigning in favor of his people privileges heretofore absorbed by the sovereignty, he has shown that he felt himself in possession of despotic power to its widest and farthest extent, and that he acknowledged a well-educated and religious people to be its most fitting and worthy co-administrator.
The greatest concessions made, up to the present day, have been the liberty of the press, the National Guard, the grant of constitutional privileges. These three great concessions, while they elevate the people to the enjoyment of the bless­ings they so ardently desired, return back to him who granted them in the character of a certain and unfailing support. For the temperate and judicious regulations of the press have en­listed that great engine of public opinion, and the moral power of which it is the vehicle, in defence of the sovereign's wise and independent measures ; the National Guard, superseding the friendly bugbear of foreign protection by the aggregate of the country's force, is his assurance against annoyance from without and turmoil within ;  and  the  constitutional reform, including the adequate representation of the provinces, the re­organization of the civil and criminal code, and the remodel­ling of the administration throughout his dominions, will re­deem him from the incessant anxiety and unpleasant sense of responsibility which ever afflict the sovereign of an unhappy country. The people will be employed by the exercise of these powers under the auspices of their sovereign, who, while he renders them quiet and contented, has placed upon them the responsibility hitherto incumbent upon himself, mak­ing it their interest to conduct themselves with propriety, and in a certain measure identifying their safety and their happiness with their loyalty.
In the Church, of course, no reorganization is intended, no improvement is needed or expected of Pius the Ninth. But to the minor and every-day details of her intercourse with the civil power, and her well-being in particular times and places, her Chief Pastor will devote himself with a sincerity of zeal, which, while it purifies and encourages those who are within, will edify and attract those who are without. This the Holy Father has expressed to be his greatest and dearest wish. In the very beginning of his administration he is known to have said, - u I wish now to regulate well the little wheels of my state, that I may afterwards do my duty at those great wheels of the Church which the Almighty has appointed me to direct."
Were it the object of our present remarks, we might here point out the good effects already obtained by Pius the Ninth, in his character of Sovereign Pontiff, amidst his incessant oc­cupations and various cares as monarch. Madrid, London, Jerusalem, to pass over in silence other places which might be mentioned, have borne brilliant testimony to them. The infidel monarch of the East, once so much dreaded, has proffered the right hand of friendship to the old enemy who broke his arma­ments and scattered his forces at Lepanto and Vienna. May we not hope that the various Christian populations of the East - who wander apart, but not far from the precincts of the true fold-¦ will, ere long, be led by all-powerful grace to be­think themselves of the Father*1, whose name, in the days of Chrysostom, and Athanasius, of Gregory the Illuminator, and Anthony the Abbot, was emblazoned in letters of gold upon the sacred Diptychs, and breathed with reverence amidst the mysterious rites of the incruent Sacrifice ? May we not hope that Pius is the shepherd chosen by the Almighty to gather these wandering children back into the fold ? And, to con­tinue this strain of joyful anticipation, is it too much to hope that the influence of the Pope's humane polity may teach other rulers - though Italy claim them not for her children by their birthright or their faith - that there is a triumph more glorious than that of the leader of victorious armies, - a triumph which extends its conquest over the heart of a people, by permitting it to breathe legitimately the hymn of freedom ? It was from the City of the Seven Hills that the Western world learned its veneration for that false military renown which has caused rivers of tears and of blood to flow in many a hapless region. The ideal of a Christian hero now exhibited by the same city to the world cannot be given by the Almighty as an object of sterile admiration. O, may the day be not far distant when the glory of Pius will be emulated in other lands, when the same notes of content which make the cloudless sky and the sunlit plains of Italy look more beautiful will be reechoed by a thousand happy voices in other regions and in other longues, - in every land where oppression yet counts one dishonorable shrine, from the blood-stained battlements of Cracow, Prague, and Warsaw, to the plain of Clontarf and the hill of Tara !
Rome - Italy - affords ample reason to hope for so con­soling a spectacle. For the influence of the spirit which an­imates the breast of Pius seems to breathe, under his auspices, through the whole country, whispering to every heart lessons of duty, of religion, of propriety.
When the numerous prisoners of Sant' Angelo in Rome beheld the gates of the castle open before them, as by miracle, and heard their sometime guardians invite them to walk forth wherever it liked them best, what were the first noisy dem­onstrations of their joy ? No obstreperous display of re­joicing was there, but the same hand which broke the fet­ters of bondage from their limbs adorned their necks with the golden chain of religion. Of their own free will and accord, they assembled in the venerable Basilica of St. Peter ad Vincula on the Esquiline Mount, there to kneel in humble re­pentance before the altar of the Most High, and to partake of the bread of life ; not deeming themselves fully delivered while a stain remained upon their conscience, and escaping at the same time from the fetters of oppression and the bondage of crime.
Scarcely had Pius inaugurated the reign of pardon and friendship from the Vatican, when the spirit of dissension seemed to take an eternal departure from the dominions of St. Peter. No theft, no quarrel, no crime, was heard of through­out the city. If a crowd assembled, and it was breathed that its proceedings would displease the Pope, it spontaneously dispersed, each one retiring quietly to his own home.
Compare these results of paternal benignity with the conse­quences of the opposite system in the sister kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In the squares of Reggio and Messina the guillotine is erected, in lieu of the arches of peaceful triumph which adorn the thoroughfares of Rome and Bologna ; and in place of the hymn of gratitude which greets the ears of the benevolent Pontiff, the misguided monarch is assailed with the curses of a people driven to misery and guilt by hid obstinate and imprudent severity. The name of King Ferdi­nand, had he imitated the noble example proposed to him, might have been handed down to posterity with the name of Pope Pius ; yet, in all probability, Sicily is a picture of what Latium would have been, but for the wisdom and be­nignity of its godlike ruler.
To adduce another instance of what the Roman provinces are now, rival townships, which from the days of the Guelphs and Ghibellines had maintained hereditary hostility and kept alive traditional feuds, have sent their people, telling their beads, with their priests at their head, to salute each other as brothers, and to unite in the kiss of peace, from their magis­trates down to the humblest artisans.
All seem to have taken for their maxim the beautiful sen­tence which appeared in large letters upon the Ruspoli palace in the Corso, on the day of Pius's first triumph, the glorious 8th of September, 184G : -
" Not one of us will be guilty of a thought or a deed that might disturb for an instant the calm of his paternal heart."
O, how much this noble, this generous, this religious people are wronged by those who think that they would be capable of abusing the gifts bestowed upon them by the anointed hand of Pius, to the injury of social order, or that God will permit them to succumb in their efforts to reach the goal of national security and happiness ! The work commenced by the Sov­ereign Pontiff is the work of God, and must and will be crowned with that success so ardently desired by every heart to which the sacred charity of the Gospel is not a stranger.