245. A memorandum by Metternich to the Emperor Francis.
246. Metternich to the Emperor Francis (Report), Gratz, November 3, 1817.
245. Your Majesty will vouchsafe to remember that in October of last year I took occasion to lay before your Majesty the necessity of becoming acquainted with the action of the Government and the particular causes of the gencral dissatisfaction of the Italian States.
My principal object was, first, if necessary, to be able to act beneficially on the Government; secondly, from the data collected, to gain a firmer footing for administrative principles in our own Italian provinces.
At the same time I took the liberty of getting wellinformed men to go to Florence, Modena, Parma, and Rome, and bring reports to your Majesty for this purpose. Your Majesty vouchsafed to look favourably on my views, and allowed me to accept from Counts Diego Guicciardi and Tito Manzi the offer I had invited them to make.
These gentlemen have now returned from their travels. Tito Manzi cannot but confess that everything which he saw and heard during his mission in Italy convinced him of the great alld general dissatisfaction there prevailing. He divides the evils weighing upon Italy into two classes, namely :-
General trouble, from which no State in the peninsula is free; and Particular grievances of each of these States.
Manzi ascribes the first of these to two principal causes: one resting, accordirlg to him, on nature itself, which has for three years been very severe on this country; the second he ascribes to the results of the conquest, which, by overthrowing political order, has shattered the foundations of the public welfare.
On closer enquiry into the particular grievances, Manzi described the attitude of the separate States given back to Italy-rulers being set against the people, as well as the latter against their Governments. He began with Naples and Sicily, then came to Rome, and from thence to Tuscany, Lucca, Modena, and Parma, concluding with Piedmont.
Your Majesty will permit me to follow the same course.
Naples and Sicily.
Manzi regrets that Austria did not support the party which strove to raise prince Leopold to the throne of Naples, and had not made the division of the two crowns conditional on the union of that prince with the Archduchess Clementine. The prejudice of the ex-minister of an illegal Government for these revolutionary ideas ought not to cause surprise, and it is quite natural that he should look at Austria's advantage in this matter after the fashion of Napoleon, Murat, &c. But what would have been useful and serviceable for them would be prejudicial to a legitimate Government, whose policy must rest on the indestructible foundations of justice and integrity.
Your Majesty will vouchsafe to remember that in the course of the winter of 1815, the attempt was made by the ambassador, Prince Jablonowski to find out the point of view from which his Court regarded these ideas; being ordered, however, to reject immediately any such communication, as so contrary to the principles of your Majesty that our ambassador dare not venture to bring it to your Majesty's knowledge.
It is not surprising that Tito Manzi, who knows nothing of the negotiations which accompanied the Act of Union of the two kingdoms, dwells on the unpleasant impression which this measure has produced on the Sicilian nobles, who had wished to be released from the constitution of Lord Bentinck, on condition of a complete reinstatement in their rights and privileges. The Neapolitan Government, on the other hand, intended the overthrow of Bentinck's constitution, because it was not it itself adequate to the end proposed, and because it tied their hands. For the same reasons also they could not wish to restore the old, and this the less because Sicily, instead of contributing in just proportion to the burdens of the State, was financially, under both constitutions, itself a considerable burden. By the union of the two kingdoms, however, the Govermnent secured the great financial advantage of a gradual introduction of the Neapolitan administration into Sicily.
Your Majesty will remember that the happy conclusion of these negotiations was a great cause of satisfaction to King Ferdinand IV. He owes it also unquestionably to the interposition of your Majesty with the English Government. It was no easy task to induce the British ministry to surrender a constitution drawn up by Lord Bentinck, and introduced into Sicily under English influence-a question which, as it was a Parliamentary question, was exposed to two- fold difficulties. But it suited our interest to enter into the designs of the Neapolitan Court, and thus prevent Sicily from serving as an example to the kingdom of Naples subsequently, and also to prevent the numerous constitutionalists of this kingdom (supported by this example) from seeking to induce the ministry to give them also a representative form of government. The union of the two kingdoms was, moreover, the surest means of rendering impotent the awkward reports which were current with regard to Austria's design of placing Prince Leopold on the throne of Naples, and made the separation of the two crowns impossible for the future.
These were the grounds which moved your Majesty to support the present negotiation. To your Majesty King Ferdinand owes its happy termination, but he and his ministry attributed the greatest importance to the carrying out of this change, and to the declaration of Austria and England that it would not be opposed by these two Powers. It would , then, be false and ungrateful of the King to wish it to be believed that he was constrained or forced to these measures by your Majesty. Such an assertion could be believed by no one, and if it were really made would redound only to the disadvantage of the King himself.
It is certainly remarkable that a former minister of Murat's should do such full justice to Cardinal Consalvi and his views as is done by this Tito Manzi. Whether he speaks of him well or ill, both are with foundation; and although one may regret that the Cardinal-Secretary supported his own work so feebly and was himself the cause of the motu proprio failing so entirely, nevertheless the great service cannot be denied him of having had the courage to inaugurate in the States of the Church a form of government and principles well suited to prevent (at least during the course of his ministry) a violent reaction which would have been dangerous to all the Italian States.
f the course of the business of the administration was often interrupted by the disorder existing in the bureaux, yet it cannot be denied that the action of Cardinal Consalvi and the strength of his policy were successful in securing the peace of the capital, getting rid of the brigands or holding them in check, and by means of a very small armed power (a body of from 15,000 to 17,000 well-clothed and well-disciplined men) making the Government respected.
The Cardinal's political principles are known to your Majesty, and Manzi does him injustice, I think, when he doubts the sincerity of his feeling for Austria. Cardinal Consalvi is certainly as much devoted to us as the head of the Papal Ministry from his office can be, and certainly no less sincerely desirous to remove the hindrances which arose in consequence of Prince Kaunitz's negotiations (No. 249) with the Papal See, for he shared our feeling of the necessity (for the maintenance of peace in Italy, and the support even of the Papal Governrnent) of a thorough agreement between the Roman and Austrian Courts.
Monsignor Pacca, Governor of Rome, and head of the Police, is, according to Cardinal Consalvi, of all the Government officials, the most important. He seems to be a man of great resources, strong character, and much activity, but perhaps somewhat too severe. He would, if he were not restrained, be inclined to take energetic measures against the dissidents (Sectirer), and especially against the adherents of the last Government. Happily we succeeded in bringing him into confidential relations with us, and we made use of them to persuade him to a similar course with ours in police business.
As Manzi remarked, there can be no doubt that in the Legations, and especially in Bologna, there existed a so-called Austrian party, which cherished the hope that your Majesty would on the death of the Holy Father take this province under your protection. During my residence in Tuscany an attempt was even made to gain me over to this. I, however, rejected this idea as contrary to your Majesty's principles and opposed to the late transactions. And, in fact, in spite of all the advantages that a union of the Legations with the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom seemed to offer, I was far from being convinced that this union would be a real gain for the monarchy. I believe rather that Bologna, from the day when it belonged to Austria, would have become the centre of the opposition party against the Government in Italy, and that the same unquiet spirit which now led to the desire to join us would be turned against us as soon as Bologna came into our possession.
Unpleasant as is the picture drawn by Manzi of the present state of Tuscany, of the weakness of the ministry, of the individuals composing the Archducal ministry, and of the sadly altered feeling in this country, I cannot but feel that it is quite a true one. The data which I was able to collect during my stay in Florence, the results of my own observations, my conversations with the Grand Duke and his ministers, convinced me that no State in the world is more easy to govern and make happy than Tuscany. It would likewise depend on your Imperial Highness, even while materially lightening the burdens of the people, to become the richest monarch in Europe. Manzi calculates the revenues of these States alone at twenty million livres. I reserve to myself to show your Majesty in a separate Report that the revenue amounts to nearly double that sum. With such comparatively important resources, one cannot but be astonished that the Archduke's treasury is always empty, that the loans to the fiscal board make twelve per cent., that many useful public institutions lie idle, that all classes of the population are more or less discontented; and, lastly, that a land so highly favoured by nature should have lost even the hope of a happier existence.
I will report verbally to your Majesty on this matter, and on the little I was able to effect during my residence in this interesting country, as well as give an account of my efforts to prepare the way for more confidential relations between the two courts.
Some months ago (May l817), I was able to lay before your Majesty, through Lieutenant Werklein, Manzi's views on the causes of the discontent in this country, as well as on its government. The provisional Governor may have allowed himself to be urged by his subordinates to many false measures; but yet he is a worthy man, who by his zeal, activity, and integrity, has a claim on your Majesty's favour.
At my departure I had the opportunity of observing that all classes of the population, although they desired the termination of the provisional (Austrian) Government, did full justice to our principles-indeed, that they even reckoned on our support if their future ruler tried to govern them at all in imitation of the Madrid court.
The short time (twenty-four hours) that I stayed in Modena did not suffice to show me whether and how far Manzi's assertion of the dissatisfaction reigning there among all classes was well founded, and whether it was true that the Archduke does not enjoy the affection of his subjects. I should be more inclined, however, to suppose that there is some exaggeration in Manzi's opinion of the administration and the ruler of this country. If the country is really badly governed, which I am far from positively asserting, certainly the fault must be with the Archduke, for he alone administers the government. To judge from some conversations with him, I should, however, suppose that he carries on this administration more like a wealthy and prudent landowner than as a sovereign.
What Manzi observes of the general discontent may arise from some cause easy of explanation. This little country furnished the greater number of the distinguished servants of the State in the late Kingdom of Italy, and many of them had reached the highest places in that Government. Deprived of their offices, without prospect for the future, they regret their former influence, their emoluments-in fact, they have lost all that nourishes and flatters human ambition. The latter circumstance made it necessary to return to their fatherland, where they were but coldly received by their sovereign, and apparently subjected to a strict observation; hence they naturally formed in Modena a centre of opposition to the present Government. Now, however, the Duke begins, in spite of his prejudice against the whole class, to give some of them civil and military appointments.
It is certain that between the Duke of Modena and the Roman Court, or, more properly, between that Prince and the Cardinals, close relations exist, and that this powerful party in Rome exercises in Modena a real influence detrimental to our interests in Italy. There is also no doubt that the Courts of Modena and Turin are in daily confidential agreement, which, far from being favourable to us, is intended to undermine our influence in Italy. Lastly, it is not to be denied that the Duke of Modena takes a part in complete opposition to our interests, which are, indeed, difficult to be comprehended by any Prince not of the House of Austria. But your Majesty knows him, and that he holds obstinately to his opinions; hence I believe that to attack these too sharply would risk the danger of alienating him from us permanently. These considerations led me, during my very short stay in Modena, not to touch on so delicate a question, but to confine myself to laying the foundations of the happiest relations.
If my residence of two days in Parma was too short to learn the course of the Government there, its defects and its advantages, as well as those of the persons entrusted with its direction, and to gain a right idea of the grounds of the dissatisfaction and its influence on public feeling, yet this short stay was sufficient to convince me that Manzi's deplorable picture is in many respects too strongly drawn. Since the removal of Count Magaroli, her Excellency the Archduchess devotes herself eagerly and anxiously to business. She presides over the ministerial councils, and the final decision rests with her. Parma is not a fertile district; its commercial resources are unimportant. It has suffered much of late years from the passage of troops, from the want so prevalent in Italy, and, lastly, from an epidemic resulting from this distress. It is therefore possible that the public burdens are not connected with the present position of affairs; moreover, the finances do not seem to be so badly managed as Manzi describes, since I have found a balance in your Majesty's coffers, in spite of the expenses of a too costly army, an expensive Court, and large assistance to the public institutions.
Of all the Italian Governments the Piedmontese is indisputably the one which calls for the most anxious attention. This country unites in itself all the different elements of discontent, and from this point of view I find Manzi's representation correct.
His remarks on the anxiety which the arming of this Power must create arc not so just. The King of Sardinia, indeed, constantly occupies himself since his restoration with the formation of his army, and chiefly with the preparation of the means of bringing it quickly to a strength out of all proportion to the population and finances of his States. however, the results have not so far corresponded with his efforts or his expectations.
I observe, too, that notwithstanding the widespread and well-founded grounds for dissatisfaction in the Sardinian States, and even in Genoa, which bears the yoke of this Power with great impatience, and does not conceal its annoyance, a revolutionary movement is not to be feared in this country.
Consequently, it is the intriguing policy of the Turin Cabinet alone which requires our careful observation. Your Majesty will have seen on many occasions that my attention has been directed to it, and that I have given this Cabinet itself distinctly to understand that none of its intrigues are unknown to us, and that we shall find means to prevent their success.
There is no doubt that the Turin Cabinet entertains ambitious views which can only be gratified at the expense of Austria. I had lately the opportunity of giving the Cabinet of St. James's a convincing proof of this, and urged them to join us in keeping watch on the proceedings of the Turin Cabinet. To this our efforts must, in my opinion, for the moment be limited. The Sardinian Court is, especially since its union with Genoa, too much bound to maintain its relations with England to venture on a political course contrary to that Power. This powerful motive must therefore weaken the ambitious designs entertained against US by the Sardinian 'Court long enough for us to ally ourselves closely with Great Britain, and we shall always have this counterpoise also to oppose to its intrigues at the Russian Court. In addition to which the king's present Ministry neither appreciates nor enjoys the confidence of the other branches of the Government; it is divided in its views and intentions.
Under such circumstances, the present position of things in Sardinia affords us the means by constant observation of its movements, and a continuance in our own straightforward and proper course, of rendering innocuous the feeling entertained against us by that Government.
The Affairs of the Dissidents in Italy.
I have for some time been certain of the existence in Italy of several secret fraternities, which, under different names, foster a spirit of excitement, discontent, and opposition. The designs and resources of these, their leaders and relations to each other and to foreign nations, are all points needful for us to discover in order to form an estimate of the dangers which may grow out of them for the peace of Italy. Two years of active and unbroken observation convinced me that the actual existence of these different sects cannot be denied, and if their tendency is mischievous and in opposition to the principles of the Government, on the other hand they fail to enlist leaders of name and character, and lack central guidance and all other necessary means of or ganising revolutionary action. In design and principle divided among themselves, these sects change every day and on the morrow may be ready to fight against one another. Manzi is here, I believe, quite right when he observes that the surest method of preventing any one of them from becoming too powerful is to leave these sects to themselves.
If these explanations are for the moment less disquieting, yet we must not look with indifference on such amass of individuals, who, more or less adversaries of the existing order of things, may easily be led to disturb the public peace, especially if it is ever united by the alluring pretext of Italian independence.
England has for the moment relinquished these chimeras, and since she gave her consent to the union of Genoa with Piedmont and the withdrawal of the Bentinck constitution in Sicily, she has almost entirely lost the confidence of the Independents.
If we can accept Manzi's idea, the Roman Court secretly protects the sect of Guelphs, and makes use of the assistance of Modena to counterbalance the influence of Austria in Italy and extend its own. He thinks, too, that this Court constantly trembles lest disturbances should break out in these States caused by the Independents and numerous adherents of the late Kingdom of Italy. The present Papal Ministry is too enlightened not to see that no Italian State has more reason to guard against a revival of the agitation than the States of the Church, and that their greatest strength lies in close relations with Austria, and I cannot believe they will attempt to use against neighbours so dangerous a weapon, which may be turned against themselves.
France, whose policy has always consisted in upholding a party in Italy to paralyse the influence of Austria, has under her present Government too great an interest in holding in check the revolutionary elements which are obstructive to her own government, to encourage and support similar elements in foreign countries.
Spain, not hitherto of much political importance, will at first confine herself to gaining some adherents in Lucca and Parma who certainly do not belong to the class of Liberals.
Our anxiety regarding foreign influence can, therefore, only reasonably fall on either Prussia or Russia.
Prussia is too seriously engaged with the moral position of her own provinces to turn her attention outwards. The influence of Austria in Germany is necessary to her, and our relations with the Prussian Court exempt us from any anxiety lest, under present circumstances, she should encourage complications in Italy.
As to Russia, though I do not permit myself to entertain any suspicion against the feelings and views of the Emperor Alexander, which I believe to be sincere and pure, I am yet very far from being easy as to the spirit and the principles revealed by his ministers and innumerable agents in Italy. It is unknown to me whether the latter are or are not provided with instructions from their Court in this respect. In either supposition it is clear that they are actively employed in a way quite contrary to the interests of Austria, and furnish their Court, if ever a war breaks out between Russia and Austria, with the means of preparing very perplexing complications for us on the side of Italy. It has long been my endeavour to obtain such undeniable proofs of this as will enable me to appeal to the rectitude of the Emperor Alexander, and call upon him to stop a scandal so opposed to the feelings which he expresses to your Majesty.
If the Russian Cabinet is carrying on this game without the knowledge of its sovereign, he will know how to put a stop to it. If this is being done by his command, the Emperor Alexandcr will never be able to stand by a proceeding so different from the just principles he has proclaimed; and since it must be a matter of interest to him not to place himself in a false light before the eyes of Europe, or to compromise himself prematurely, the certainty that none of the intrigues of his agents are unknown to us will induce him to restrain their dangerous activity, at any rate for a time.
If these views be correct, I may flatter myself with the hope that, even if we admit the supposition of foreign influence, the sects in Italy will, for the present, occasion no real danger, if without active interference we continue to watch them.
The consideration and review of these data on the moral condition of all the Italian Governments (with the exception of the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom) furnish the following results:-
That the discontent is universal; that if this discontent was a natural consequence of the sufferings engendered by the last unfavourable years, and of the political changes which have taken place since 1814 and 1815, it must also be ascribed to the bad administration of the Governments; that in Italy, especially in its southern regions, and in Bologna and Genoa, there is undoubtedly a great ferment in the minds of the populations supported by the different sects, the tendency of which is without doubt dangerous, while the sects themselves, from the want of known leaders and of concerted action among themselves, are not nearly so dangerous as we might fear; that, notwithstanding the existence of this explosive matter, a revolutionary movement in Italy is not to be feared so long as it is not set on fire and maintained by some foreign Power; lastly, that at the present moment no Power can in this respect occasion real alarm.
If this picture is very far from being satisfactory, it yet gives us some ground to moderate our fears, and at the same time some advantages by which we may profit to make the Austrian Government popular in Italy, and to gain reputation and win the alliance of neighbouring nations, none of whom are content with their present lot or with their Governments.
Even the most zealous adherents of the last Government admit that the administration of the Lombardo- Venetian kingdom had many essential advantages in comparison with the other States of Italy. They allow that all classes of the population were equally subject to the laws in Lombardy and the Venetian provinces; that the nobles and the rich did not maintain the upper hand; that the clergy were kept in subjection; that the changes made in property and sanctioned by law were respected, and that a veil of oblivion had been drawn over the past--that is to say, that no one was exposed either to public or private persecution. Apart from the justice done in this respect to the principles of the Austrian administration, it would, however, be a mistake to infer from this that general dissatisfaction was not prevalent in the provinces subject to your Majesty. Your Majesty has been informed of this state of things by the governors of the provinces and by the presidents of the police courts, and it cannot be unknown to your Majesty that the tedious progress of business; the design attributed to your Majesty of wishing to give an entirely German character to the Italian provinces; the composition of the courts, where the Italians daily see with sorrow German magistrates appointed to offices; and the prolongation of the controversies between the Vienna Court and the Papal See, are the main causes to which this discontent is ascribed. Since these causes appear to me to be all more or less of a kind capable of removal, and since the paternal views of your Majesty have in this respect long been known to me, I think it my duty to repeat again, with the greatest respect, how important it would be, from a political point of view, to remove as soon as possible these defects and shortcomings of the administration in this most interesting part of the monarchy, to quicken and advance the progress of business, to conciliate the national spirit and self-love of the nation by giving to these provinces a form of constitution which might prove to the Italians that we have no desire to deal with them exactly as with the German provinces of the monarchy, or, so to speak, to weld them with those provinces; that we should there appoint, and especially in the magisterial offices, able natives of the country, and that, above all, an endeavour should be made to unite more closely with ourselves the clergy and the class of writers who have most influence on public opinion. I can not doubt that it is possible to attain this most desirable and beneficial end without encountering great difficulties, and even without being exposed to the necessity of departing from those general principles upon which the administration of the other parts of the monarchy are based-principles which unquestionably must be preserved in the interests of the common weal, though their application may admit of many modifications. I cherish, lastly, the hope that whenever your Majesty is induced to set in motion the salutary designs long contemplated, and to establish the well-being of these provinces on an enduring basis, public opinion will declare itself for Austria, discontent will disappear with its causes, and the Italians will at last regard Austria as the only Government which can afford a sure support to public tranquillity. If ever this day should come, then the influence of foreigners will cease to be feared, and we shall gain one far more essential with our neighbours- the influence given by opinion.