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chapter eleven m politics (1848–1849) T he journey from Paris to Marseilles took over two weeks, “more on foot than by carriage,” as Mickiewicz would later recall. From Marseilles it was another two days by boat to Civitavecchia , where as Poles he and Geritz had their passports stamped for free by “sympathetic” Italians—a good thing, no doubt, since upon his arrival in Rome on 7 February the poet had only nine paoli (about five francs) to his name; as always, he was certain “that God would provide.”1 After a few days in the Hotel di Minerva—and a futile search on Geritz’s part in the cold February rain for a place to stay in the vicinity of the Scala Santa—Mickiewicz took a room for the duration of his stay in Rome on the Via del Pozzetto, around the corner from his old haunt on the Via della Mercede and only a few steps away from the Church of San Claudio, headquarters of the Congregation of the Resurrection of the Lord. Waiting for him was a letter from Celina (unfortunately not extant), followed shortly by one from Ła ˛cki, who informed Mickiewicz that his wife was still intent on following him to Rome. He was glad his plenipotentiary in Paris managed to restrain her. “Visit her often,” Mickiewicz advised, “don’t summon her to any service or consultation that might cause her to exert herself, struggle, or resist.” Her state must have been precarious indeed when they had parted.2 1 Physically, the Eternal City had barely changed after fifteen years of stasis under Gregory XVI. Politically, though, it was a different world. Like the rest of the Italian peninsula , Rome was once again caught up in nationalist fervor, only this time the prospects of risorgimento seemed more hopeful than they had been in years, thanks in large part politics (1848–1849) 377 to the election of Pius IX. During his first year in office, the new pope had embarked on a program of modernization in the Papal States, eased censorship laws, introduced a semblance of representative government, and instituted a civic guard. One of his first acts was to grant amnesty to all political prisoners as well as exiles, many of whom were convinced—misguidedly, as it would turn out—that the Vatican might now also be ready to advance their dream of an independent, united Italy. The goodwill the pope’s reforms generated among the inhabitants of the Papal States was as genuine as it was widespread; nor did his actions go unappreciated among liberals throughout Italy, where chants of Viva Pio Nono! alternated with Viva l’Italia! Calls for reform were soon roiling the entire peninsula, with anti-Austrian sentiment growing proportionally. Metternich’s hamhanded attempts at intimidation, which Pius himself resisted, enflamed the situation further . By the time Mickiewicz settled in on the Via del Pozzetta, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies as well as Tuscany had been granted constitutions; Pius IX had agreed to a secular government for Rome, promising even further liberalization; and Lombardy and Venetia were on the verge of insurrection, with Sardinia threatening to go to war with Austria on their behalf. The Polish emigration was keenly aware of the possibilities that such a war augured for their own cause. Mickiewicz himself had predicted the previous December that “if Austria Italy, the emigration will go there en masse...and will constitute a legion just as it did in 1793 [sic].” The Democrats, however, proved hostile to any Polish formations in Italy, focused as they continued to be on mobilizing resistance in Poland itself. For his part, Prince Czartoryski recognized that tensions on the peninsula might indeed open up a promising arena. Acting, as always, through diplomatic channels , he sent his nephew, General Władysław Zamoyski, to Rome to direct negotiations with the Vatican for the presence of Polish officers in the papal army and at the same time incline the Holy Father toward a more forceful stand on Poland’s behalf, something that in their own way the Resurrectionists had been trying to impress on the pope since his election. Once in place, it was hoped that such a corpus, with a Polish general at its head, would at the appropriate moment be ready to constitute a Polish legion, which would come to the aid of Italians struggling for liberation against a common oppressor. What no one counted on was Mickiewicz...


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