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It was but a short dream as it turned out. Louis Philippe shook hands: with Metternich. The non-intervention bubble burst-the Austrians marched forward. There were two hours' fight at Fiorenzola. The revolutionary government had sent about 120 fowling-pieces, mostly young students, to secure the territory, maintain order, and stir up the spirits of the ignorant peasantry. A body of 1200 Hungarians with horse and cannon sallied out of Piacenza, caught the youngsters asleep, scattered in every dwelling and inn of the town. The young
volunteers rubbed their eyes, and threw open their windows; from every house, from every tavern, the fowling-pieces were heard rattling merrily: a body of twelve horsementhey were ex-body guards of the duchess-cut their way through the enemy's ranks with their own good swords. Two of the Italians fell : the Hungarians lost about a score of their number. The lack of ammunition brought about a close of hostilities. The Italians surrendered at discretion with ropes round their necks, for a climax of ignominy, carrying their unloaded fowling-pieces on their backs; they were marched to Piacenza, and thrown into the dungeons of that very citadel in which the fugitive duchess had taken up her quarters.
The report of the ill-treatment of their prisoners, prompted the Parmesans to dire deeds of reprisals. Eight young men set out in disguise with post-chaises, travelled across a portion of the Modenese territory, and by a daring camisado laid hands on the person of the Bishop of Guastalla --that same dainty chaplain and spiritual director the
duchess was once so fond of, now a portly prelate, but still fair and ruddy—from the heart of his diocese, from the comforts of his sofa, in the prime of his afternoon siesta, they hurried him to their coach, drove him away to Parma, where he was to remain as a hostage; but where all his hardships consisted in heavy dinners, with which they kept stuffing him into fits of apoplexy. And yet when his release came at length, so terribly was the good German scared out of his wits, that nothing could induce him to stay: he took flight beyond the Alps, like a flurried owl, never stopping till he found himself among his German friends at home, whence it took his royal mistress no little trouble to induce him to return.
The rejoicings at Parma continued yet a few days. National airs rang merrily, newspapers sold admirably, and a wag brought out a precious pamphlet, entitled “ The Life and Miracles of Maria Louisa.”
On the 13th of March, at the break of day, a thick close column of 800 Pandours thronged before the eastern gate; at noon 16,000 Croats, Hungarians, and Bohemians, with a train of heavy artillery, came up from the west. The weather, which had been clouldless during four blessed weeks, broke up in cold wintry showers. The Austrians were in their element.
Eight hundred of the most daring spirits in town had been sent on some fool's errand in the mountains. The few remaining were dragged away by main force from the town-gates, where they wished to exchange one more shot. The partisans of the non-resistance society had it all their own way.
Three months after this easy restoration of her power, the runaway duchess graced her capital with her presence. Shops and windows were
At the theatre the officers of the Austrian garrison raised the
“ Es lebe Maria Louisa!" It was the signal for the saucy citizens to leave the theatre.
shut up loyal cry,
Maria Louisa confined herself to her palace. She surrounded herself with Austrian courtiers. Her tribunals proceeded against the rebels. But her sbirri did their work clumsily, because reluctantly. Her judges could bring no well-stated charge against her prisoners.
None was arrested except an old count, too old, and a few youngsters too proud, to fly. Gendarmes, witnesses, judges, all were Italians, all had been as guilty in their hearts as the rebels they had to deal with. The members of the revolutionary government were discharged; and seeing how all the rest of the prisoners would equally escape her, Maria Louisa was advised to play a magnanimous part, by publishing a universal amnesty, from which, however, without rhyme or reason, twenty-one individuals, who had been convicted of no crime, who had not even been indicted, were excepted. Some of them were the fellows, whose huge whiskers and trailing sabres haunted the duchess in her dreams, and against whom she could never overcome her artipathy. Such, even in the mildest states, was justice in Italy, such clemency !
Meanwhile, schooled by adversity, Maria Louisa sought better advisers than amongst her Austrian minions. There lived then at Parma a cobbler's son, by name Vincenzo Mistrali, who had exchanged his father's awl into a portable book shop, and who picked out knowledge from the greasy volumes he hawked about the streets. He had developed considerable talents as a poet and a statesman under the French empire, and had for several years filled the office of governor of the city of Parma, during the first years of Maria Louisa's dominion.
This able and conscientious man was now trusted with the shattered. finances of the state, and by a wise and firm rule he got his sovereign out of debt. The duchess herself was the first victim of the minister's economical schemes. He reduced her household; bullied her singers and fiddlers from court ; carried havoc and devastation amongst her parrots and monkeys ; finally, he laid hold of a golden cradle of the King of Rome, a gilt and jewelled toilet-table, a chair, and other trumpery articles that constituted the pride of Maria Louisa's establishment, the greatest lions exhibited for the wonder of foreign visitors; he sold the diamonds, he melted the gold; he filled the exchequer. The budget soon presented favourable results. Maria Louisa would have grumbled. But Metternich recommended prudence, and the salutary reforms were completed.
Private and public chagrins now preyed upon the duchess's mind. One of her Austrian agents, Sartorio, the chief director of the police, was stabbed in broad daylight in the midst of a crowd. Her Austrian auxiliaries had daily squabbles with her people. Earthquake, famine, and pestilence successively ravaged her states. She was summoned to Vienna to receive the last breath of her eldest born, a few years afterwards she stood by the death-bed of the emperor her father. Her health, undermined by disorders, now gave way before repeated strokes of calamity. Her court had lost its lustre, her capital its wonted gaiety. In this state of distress she bethought herself of the priests. Like
many a wanton she was destined to die a bigot. Chance brought to Parma that Count Bombelles, an emigré of the narrow-minded school of Charles X.; a snuffy, bewigged old dotard, but who enjoyed golden opinions with the beguines and begueules of the elder branch of the Bourbons. He was the man after her own heart, at any rate. He effected her
conversion, confessed, absolved, and, at last, privately married her, in 1834. Priests and monks were soon in the ascendancy. The last years of her life were spent in the achievement of that great work, to which her councillor incessantly urged her, the restoration of the Jesuits. The people of Parma opposed the measure with frantic, unabating rage. It was not only the students at the university, the boys at the elementary schools, who rose in frequent riots, hung up Loyola in effigy ; deserted the school-rooin en masse ; it was not only men of letters, such as the celebrated Pietro Giordani, who published pamphlets, stuck up pasquinades at the corners of the streets. Her very Italian ministers, with the prudent Mistrali at their head, protested against the re-introduction of the detested order.
All in vain! Mistrali was luckily removed by death ; his colleagues wanted his energy and consistency. Maria Louisa was wilful for once in her life. Bombelles reigned without control. A posse of Austrian troops once more made its appearance. Numerous arrests thinned the ranks of the most violent opponents, and daunted the remainder. So, at last, the ravens of Loyola came; how many years' indulgence Maria Louisa bar. gained for with them I know not, but her subjects never forgave her.
The accession of Pius IX., the universal ferment throughout Italy renewed the qualms of her terror of 1831. Parma was once more too hot for her, and two-thirds of the year were regularly spent at Schönbrunn.
Reports of her approaching abdication were rife. She was weary of a power she had, in fact, never wielded ; of a grandeur that had too long since faded. Her Italian sovereignty, so tempting in anticipation, had burned ashes in its fruition. It was a mercy that death released her. Alas for the hero's relict ! Now can men see the wisdom of the wholesome old Hindoo practice, that burnt widows on the ashes of the departed. Hero's consorts, in that blessed country, never lost caste. Lofty empresses dwindled not into fie-fie duchesses, nor closed a sublime tragedy into a scandalous farce. Had Maria Louisa been immolated on her husband's funeral pile ; had she been dealt with at Paris as she would at Seringapatam, why, then the Duke of Lucca would have reigned at Parma two and thirty years sooner.
The Duke of Lucca! that it should be written that even Maria Louisa, with all her foibles, could ever be regretted! The Duke of Lucca! Three months are barely elapsed since he magnanimously • made away with the spoons.” After loud blustering and menacing, marching and counter-marching of troops in his puny kingdom of terror, he found out that system did not answer. The Lucchese were too strong for him. He turned his back upon them. By a miserable shuffle, however, he pretended to be disposed to yield. He declared he would “only rule by love." He gained four and twenty hours' breathing time, and secured his plate! With his pictures and marbles he had made ducks and drakes ages ago ; when he came over to England, affected liberal notions, aped Protestantism, sought for the friendship of Italian exiles at the British Museum ; set about a vernacular version of the Bible. He studied political economy and ran himself into debt at Mivart's; he left England with an enviable reputation.
And now the duchess is dead; long live the duke! The duke-why, where is the duke! Snug at Milan, under Austrian shelter. The duke tarries behind, but forward the Hungarians march. The duchy of Parma is no match for the might of the Austrian empire. The Quarterly Review and Blackwood have said it, the Italians are a pack of cowards, and Parma offers no resistance.
Come on, your royal highness ! Austria has conquered; your subjects are at your feet. The duke is not reassured yet. He plays hide and seek with his beloved people. He sends forth turgid, haughty proclamations, but keeps at a respectful distance. He will tread on the footsteps of his predecessor. He shifts his quarters from Milan to Modena ; anywhere but to Parma; or if ever to Parma, in the dark only, by stealth, like a skulking malefactor. There are desperate fellows yet in Italy, thinks he. Did not five youths at Lucca stand up like so many targets to be shot at by the soldiery ? and are there no fowling-pieces at Parma? The conquering hero, with 12,000 Germans to back him, with legions of spies, thief-takers, scribes, and pharisees to smoke out plots and treasons, dares not come forward yet. His reasoning is akin to that of Don Abbondio in Manzoni's story ; “ If ever I get a good leaden bullet in my back, will all the might of Austria ever remove it?"
The gallant Duke of Lucca! He comes down upon his subjects like an enemy; and he will force them to pay the expenses of that wanton, unprovoked invasion. He will bring his English minister of the finances along with him ; with a whole cabinet of Germans, French-Hottentots, if need be-to fatten on his people like leeches, to drain them to the last drops of blood.
Such are now thy rulers, O, Italy! and, as a climax of ignominy, they are designated as Italian princes. Italian princes! God forgive you! This little Carlo Ludovico, this scion of the Bourbons of Spain, issued from the Bourbons of France, what has he in common with Italy? He is the grandson of Ferdinand the bell-ringer, and of Maria Amelia of Austria. He was born, Heaven knows where, in times when Napoleon sent his royal rabble strolling and begging all over the world. He is wedded to Austria ; has married his son and heir to France. There is not a drop of Italian blood in all their veins. I tell
call them courtbred if you like, call them heaven-born, only not Italian. Italy has had tyrants of her own breeding, and they were ruthless, faithless men ; but not such cravens, such despicable things as he of Parma. As warriors, as statesmen, as lovers of the arts, they had yet some redeeming points about them. Octavio Farnese mounted the throne in sheer despite of Charles V., and grappled single-handed with all the might of the Austrian. His Bourbon successor stands in awe of his subjects ere they raise even a single cry against him, and all the power of Austria is insufficient to restore him to his senses. An Italian, indeed! The meanest drummer in a regiment of Pandours is more entitled to that oncehonoured appellation. So long as Austria forces you upon us ; so long as civilised Europe suffers a defenceless people to be trodden like dust, Charles Louis of Bourbon, come on, grind us, plunder us, torture us. Be our slave-driver, our gaoler, our headsman. Only be noue of us !
A GRAYBEARD'S GOSSIP ABOUT HIS LITERARY
Forsan et hæc olim meminisse juvabit. The Writer is introduced to Sir Walter Scott, and breakfasts with him-His
cordial Pleasantry -- Departure from Edinburgh and Visit to AbbotsfordVindication of its Architecture, The Owner's exclusive Love of the Mediæval Times and Style— The Armoury and the Library-Admirable Letter from Sir Walter--His Illness - Extracts from “An Invocation”—Ungenerous Reflections, occasioned by his Reverses, exposed and rebuked – The Defence of his Memory a Public Duty.
If the exact date of the most trivial circumstance will sometimes fix itself in the memory, well may I recollect that so memorable an occurrence as my first interview with the illustrious Sir Walter Scott took place on the 7th of July, 1827.
Having left Speir's Hotel, in Edinburgh, at an early hour, I proceeded to the Court-house, in which a few persons were already assembled, awaiting the arrival of the judges. At one extremity of a railed enclosure, below the elevated platform appropriated to their lordships, sat Sir Walter, in readiness for his official duties as clerk of the court, but snatching the leisure moments, as was his wont, and busily engaged in writing, apparently undisturbed by the buzzing in the court, and the trampling feet of constant new comers. The thoughts which another man would have wasted, by gazing vacantly around him, or by “bald, disjointed chat,” he was probably at that moment embalming, by committing to
per some portion of his immortal works. Let me frankly confess that his first appearance disappointed me. His heavy figure, his stooping attitude, the lowering gray brow, and unanimated features, gave him, as I thought, a nearer resemblance to a plodding farmer, than to the weird magician and poet whose every
look should convey the impression that he was “ of imagination all compact.” Quickly, however, were his lineaments revivified and altered when, upon glancing at a letter of introduction, which my companion had placed before him, he hastened up to the rail to welcome me.
gray eyes twinkled beneath his uplifted brows, his mouth became wreathed with smiles, and his countenance assumed a benignant radiance as he held out his hand to me, exclaiming,—“ Ha ! my brother scribbler ! I am right glad to see you." Not easily, " while memory holds her seat,” will that condescending phrase and most cordial reception be blotted from my mind. On learning that I should be compelled to quit Edinburgh in two days, my fellow-traveller, Mr. Barron Field, having business at the Lancaster assizes, he kindly invited us to dine with him, either on that day or the next, for both of which, however, we were unfortunately pre-engaged. Though the parties who had thus bespoken us were barrister friends, from whose society I anticipated no small pleasure, most willingly would I have forfeited it, had I foreseen the greater delight and honour in which I might have participated. “Positively, I must see something of you before you leave · Auld Reekie,'" kindly resumed Sir Walter.“ Suppose you come and breakfast with me to-morrow, suffering me to escape when I must make my appearance in court.” To this proposition we gave an eager assent, and I need scarcely add that on the following morning we presented ourselves at his door, within a minute of the time specified.