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not very consonant with just notions of liberty, still the friends of humanity must wish for their success, and are bound by all suitable means to promote it.
The policy which may be adopted by the Spanish government in regard to their colonies is still uncertain ; and in the period of trouble and confusion that may very probably occur at home, the possessions abroad must be left in a great measure to themselves. At present, the plans under consideration contemplate the establishment of constitutional governments, nominally subject to Spain, and administered on the spot by princes of the royal family. If the mother country had the power to enforce this arrangement, it might perhaps be as favourable to the ultimate well being of the colonies, as their immediate emancipation. But this is not the case; and after strug
; gling, as they have done, for independence for ten
years, it can hardly be expected that they will abandon the prize of their own accord, at the very moment of success. It is therefore much to be wished for the interest of humanity, of the colonies, and of Spain herself, that she may abstain from any further wanton waste of resources and life, and submit with a good grace to the decree of necessity. She will probably find, as England did, the emancipation of her colonies infinitely more profitable to her, than their possession ; and in exchange for the
vain name of ruling the Indies, will find the wealth of the Indies pouring in to her territory in fertilizing streams, instead of merely rolling through it, as it now does, like a mountain torrent, and leaving no marks of its passage, but barrenness and desolation.
Italy and Greece.
The late events in Italy are, like those in Spain, too recent and too notorious, to require particular mention in so general a sketch as this. The friends of liberty were disappointed by the feeble resistance which the Neapolitans opposed to the invasion of Austria. No doubt the cause was betrayed by some of the principal pretended patriots; and this is the best apology that can be offered for the easy
discomfiture of the rest. Even this, however, is but a poor excuse; and the shameful defection of so many of the chiefs proves that the higher classes of society in Italy are as corrupt and unprincipled, as the mass of the people are uninformed and wretched. In such a soil, it may well be doubted whether rational liberty, and the institutions fitted to secure it, will ever be a spontaneous growth.
Que peut-on au milieu de ce peuple abattu ?
Nevertheless, as the spirit of political improvement gains ground in Europe, it will probably exercise a beneficial influence upon the character of the Italians, as well as upon the policy and disposition of the cabinets which have recently succeeded in foiling their attempts; and the ability to organise a better system at home may grow up in the gradual progress of events, under the operation of causes, which may be expected at the same time to remove the hostility of foreign powers to its establishment.
The unjust interference of these powers has however after all, on this, as on former occasions, been the real cause, which has checked the efforts of the Italians, and entailed upon them a continuance of all the evils under which they labour. It is true, that a long course of misgovernment and oppression has depraved in a great measure the whole frame of society ; but, as was observed in regard to Spain, the stability and vigour of the established institutions has been sapped to an equal degree. We see this plainly enough in their utter incapacity through the whole extent of Italy to execute the first and most indispensable function that devolves upon governments, that of protecting the property
persons of the citizens from violence. Hence, although the
movement in a better direction might at first be feeble, the resistance of the governments would be feebler still ; and the slightest force could hardly fail to overcome it; as happened in fact at Naples. Thus if the country were left to itself, it would find, in the state of degradation and decay to which it had sunk, the antidote as well as the poison ; and the people would have had the opportunity of acquiring information respecting the principles of good government in the practical school of experience, the only one in which they can be studied with effect. They might have fallen into errors, or committed excesses at the beginning, but would finally have worked out their own salvation, had they not been stopped short in their progress, and condemned to another period of hopeless oppression, by the interference of the christian allies.
It is difficult to speak of the conduct of these allies in regard to Italy with the moderation, which usage has appropriated to the discussion of public measures and characters. Precisely similar in their essential features to the aggressions of Bonaparte, and to the partition of Poland by the same powers, they are yet more odious than either, because they are masked by hypocritical pretences of religion and justice. The Austrian government, incapable of alleging even the possibility of actual danger from the revolution
at Naples, was compelled to seek a pretext for invasion in the supposed irregularity of the manner, in which it was effected. It was the work of secret societies and a revolted army. What then? Is it for Austria to regulate the manner in which the people of the Sicilies should reform their institutions ? But mark the impudence of these pretences. Secret societies and revolted troops were the great machines employed by the German powers, and Austria among the rest, in shaking off the yoke of Napoleon. Not only so, but this very society of Colliers, which is denounced as seditious and impious, was founded under the patronage and encouragement of the allied powers; and for objects precisely similar to those, for which it has now been employed. Is it admissible for
either the public or themselves, to insult in this way common sense and consistency, by denouncing their own proceedings as criminal, when imitated by others, and condemning, as treasonable, institutions of their own foundation ? If we even wave all these considerations, and state the language of the allies in the form most favourable to them, it amounts to this: you are pursuing an object which we think injurious ; you have adopted one political system and we another; we will force ours upon you at the point of the bayonet. Shame itself ought to have