Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

in Naples, and blasting the growth of freedom, by es- Chap. tablishing a constitution utterly at variance with the _J habits, capacities, or interests of the great majority of the 1820people, and not understood by ten in a million of the causes' inhabitants, the progress of insurrection was still more rapid in Sicily, where, as already mentioned, a constitu- sJciiy.m tional monarchy had been established by the English juiy u. during their occupation in the latter years of the war, and the people, generally speaking, were more practically acquainted with the working of a free constitution. The English institutions had been abolished when they withdrew from the kingdom—unlike the Code Napoleon, which, founded on the matured wisdom of the Roman law, everywhere survived the fall of his dynasty. The government, however, had established municipal councils, elected by the more respectable classes, declared any additional imposts illegal without the consent of the States-General of the realm, and issued some salutary decrees for the limitation of the excessive evils of entails. But these practical reforms did not in the least answer the wishes of the Sicilian revolutionists, who, even more than the Neapolitans, sighed for the establishment of representative institutions, and ardently desired instantly to separate from Naples, and get the command of the country by adopting the Spanish Constitution. The first news of the revolution at Naples excited a great sensation; and this was fanned into a perfect tumult when the official intelligence arrived on the 14th Juiy u. of the acceptance of the constitution by the king. They had no thought, however, of remaining subject to his government. In the Sicilian mind, as in the Irish, personal freedom and revolution are inseparably connected, ColleltJlt with insular independence: and the first impulse ofij.37e.377;

ii i ii i n i Ann- Hls'

patriotism ever has been to detach themselves from the 111.436,498; dominant power which has ruled, and, as they think, lm.'ut oppressed them.1

The following day, July 15, happened to be the great

Chap. national festival of the Sicilians—that of St Rosalie—

YIL when, even in ordinary times, all business is suspended,

1820- and the whole inhabitants devote themselves to festivity 110

Revolution and joy. It was held on this occasion with more than Juiyis?"°' wonted splendour and animation at Palermo, the capital of the island. Early in the morning, the committees of the Carbonari were in activity, the bands of the revolutionists in motion; cries of " Viva la Costituzione Spagnuola!— Viva l'lndepenza!" were universal; and the inhabitants even of an opposite way of thinking were compelled to adopt cockades of the national colour (yellow) with the Sicilian eagle; and a trifling incident having excited their resentment against General Church, an Englishman, who still retained the command of the place, he was attacked, and his house pillaged. General Naselli, who commanded the Neapolitan troops in the island, in vain endeavoured, by yielding to the movement, to moderate its excesses. The populace, having once tasted of the pleasures of pillage, and become excited by the passions of revolution, became wholly ungovernable, and proceeded to the most deplorable excesses. They advanced in tumultuous bodies to the three forts of La Sancta, Castellamare, and Palermo Realo, which commanded the city; and as the i ColIetu troops, having received no orders how to act, made scarcely

ii. 378,379; any resistance, the populace made themselves masters of

Ann. Hist. » i i i ii j e

iii. 49.0; the forts and the whole arsenals they contained, from 1820, art! which they armed themselves, and immediately commenced an indiscriminate pillage.1

,n Alarmed at the consequences of the movement they Frightful had in the first instance encouraged, Naselli and the nobles ini'aierL. now endeavoured to restrain the excesses of the populace. Juiy "6- They appointed a junta of fifteen persons armed with full powers to restore order; and then having rallied the troops, succeeded, on the following day, in regaining possession of the forts which had been lost on the preceding. But the revolutionists, now infuriated by wine, and rendered desperate by the loss of the forts, proceeded to the prisons, which had been with difficulty defended on the Chap. preceding day, broke open the doors, burst through the VIL barriers, and, amidst frightful yells on both sides, liberated 1820eight hundred galley-slaves, who instantly joined their ranks. Encouraged by this great reinforcement, they proceeded, amidst revolutionary cries and shouts of triumph, to assail the troops which were concentrated on the Piazza del Castello, to the number of seventeen hundred. Assailed on all sides by a highly excited multitude twenty thousand strong, armed with the weapons they had won on the preceding day, and led on by a fanatic monk named Vagleia, the troops were soon broken, and immediately a frightful massacre ensued. Prince Catolica, who had, in the first instance, declared in favour of the cause of independence, but subsequently united with the troops to coerce the excesses of the people, was inhumanly massacred, his head put on a pike in the centre of the city, and his four quarters exposed in four of its principal streets. Prince Aci and Colonel Sanzas, who had resisted the seizure of the artillery in the forts, shared the same fate; and General Naselli, who was besieged in the governor's palace, with great difficulty made his escape by a back way with a hundred soldiers, and, reaching the harbour, set sail in the utmost consternation for Naples. Nearly the whole remainder of the troops, fifteen hundred in number, were put to death; the whole Neapolitans in Palermo, to the number of six thousand, were thrown into prison; a new junta, com-,Ann posed of the most ardent revolutionists, was appointed by m. 506,501; the populace; and during the remainder of the day and ^20,24!'; following night the town was abandoned to pillage, and 37V379."' all the horrors of a fortress taken by assault.1

The first care of the new junta, as is generally the case in such instances, after the victory has been gained, First me»was to coerce the excesses of the unruly allies by whom neTjuiti* it had been achieved. The galley-slaves were with some difficulty persuaded to give up their arms, a general

Chap. amnesty for all offences was proclaimed, and they all YI1, received a free pardon upon condition of leaving the 1820- city; the whole murders and robberies of the preceding day were hushed up, and their perpetrators declared to have deserved well of their country; the most prominent of them received golden medals; the monk Vagleia was declared a colonel in the national army, and the Piazza del Castello, where the troops had been massacred, was directed to be called "Piazza dellaVittoria." More efficient means were taken to assert the national independence, and restore the order which had been so fearfully disturbed. A national guard was established, and soon acquired in Palermo a tolerable degree of efficiency; circulars were i Ann Reg sen*i to other towns in the island, inviting them to Ann'nlit Jo'n patr^o*,s 'n it8 capital, and a deputation of eight in. Mi; ' persons was sent to Naples to arrange the terms of an ac379,e380-"' commodation, on the footing of the political independence of Sicily.1

But the republicans of Naples were by no means Failure of inclined to these sentiments; and the revolutionists of "on" with*" Sicily soon found, as those of Ireland had done in the Naples. ^avs of Cromwell, that whatever changes the elevation of the people to power may produce in the measures of government, it makes none in the ambition by which it is animated, and that a democratic rule is even more hard to shake off than a monarchical. So far from being inclined to agree to a separation of the two governments, the popular leaders at Naples were determined to uphold the union, and animated with the most intense desire to take vengeance on the Sicilians for the frightful atrocities with which the revolution had commenced. When the deputation from Sicily approached, it was only allowed to come to Procida, an island in the Bay of Naples; and the first question asked, was whether they recognised King Ferdinand, which having been answered in the affirmative, the negotiation commenced; but it soon broke off upon discovering that the sine qud non of the Sicilian deputies was a separate parliament Chap. and constitution for themselves. "Repeal of the Union"

VII.

was their watchword, which was answered in equally 1820, loud terms from the Parthenopeian shores, " Unity and Indivisibility of the Constitution." So far from acquies- j^1/1^. cing in the demand for a separation, the Neapolitan gov- ^-/jjjg.' ernment made the most vigorous preparations for assert- Ann. R<«.' ing their supremacy by force, and reducing the sanguinary 242.'' and rebellious Sicilians to entire subjection.1

In the beginning of September, General Floridan Pepe, brother to the generalissimo at Naples, landed at Malazzo Suppression in Sicily, four leagues from Palermo, at the head of four surrMtion thousand men; and though he met with some opposition octP5.erm°" he easily overcame it, and in a few days appeared before the gates of the capital. Its inhabitants were nearly reduced to their own resources, for the other boroughs in the island, horror-struck, and terrified at the frightful excesses of which Palermo had been the theatre, hung back, and had forwarded none of the required contingents for the support of the cause of separation in that city. The guerillas which infested his flanks, composed almost entirely of the liberated galley-slaves, who dreaded the reimposition of their fetters, having been cleared away, the attack on the forces of Palermo began in good earnest on the 3d and 4th of September. They at first at- Sept. 3. tempted to keep the field, but their raw levies proved no match for the regular troops of Naples. Defeated with serious loss in several encounters, their forces were soon shut up in Palermo; and the principal towns in the island having sent in their adhesion to General Pepe, and the regular troops in the garrisons, which still held out for the royal cause, having joined their forces to his, the junta of Palermo became convinced that the contest was hopeless, and were disposed to lend an ear to an accommodation. To facilitate and enforce it, Pepe moved forward on the 25th September to the very gates of the city. Sept. 25. He then renewed his propositions; but the violent party

« ForrigeFortsett »