The Life and Times of Cavour - Vol. 1

By William Roscoe Thayer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
REACTION AT ROME AND NAPLES

I N endeavoring to dominate the Restoration in the Papal States, Austria met a formidable rival -- France. As soon as Louis Napoleon captured the Presidency of the French Republic he began to scheme to make his power permanent. He was embarrassed by no scruples. The Republicans still controlled the government, but the conservative classes were reasserting their influence and Louis Napoleon led each party to believe that he was its special friend. In the early spring of 1849 he and his foreign minister, Odilon Barrot, proposed to despatch an expedition to Rome ostensibly to reconcile the Romans and the Pope. The French Republic, in other words, offered her services to her dear sister republic towards restoring Pius to his throne, but on the express condition that this restoration should in nowise injure the great principles of constitutionalism and liberty by which both republics existed. If the Romans rejected this magnanimous offer, they would see the Austrians and Neapolitans carry through a restoration based on vengeance and reaction. Since the Romans could not expect, therefore, to save both their liberty and their republic, common sense ought to warn them to save their liberty. Louis Napoleon hoped to earn the gratitude of the Pope, and to cut out Austria as best friend of the Holy See.1 This was the benevolent purpose, as publicly avowed; the secret instructions to General Oudinot who commanded the expedition differed somewhat from it: "You must not stop at any resistance that may be offered in the name of a government which nobody in Europe has recognized, and which maintains itself in Rome only against the wish of the immense majority of the inhabitants."2

____________________
1
Falloux, Mémoires, II, 129, told Veuillot that Napoleon organized the scheme rather to circumvent Austria than to help the Papacy.
2
Drouyn de Lhuys to Oudinot: quoted in Rome et Napoléon, III, by E. Bourgeois and E. Clermont ( Paris: Armand Colin, 1907), 23. For Drouyn's policy throughout see Harcourt: Quatre Ministères de M. Drouyn de Lhuys ( Paris: Plon, 1882), chap. I.

-168-

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