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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Sidenote Benjamin West Benjamin West


King Ferdinand's duplicity]

As soon as King Ferdinand received the summons he prepared to leave Naples. The populace became aroused, and angry crowds surrounded the palace. Ferdinand was not allowed to leave Naples until he had once more sworn on his honor to maintain the constitution borrowed from Spain. The King took this oath as readily as he did the other. Then he journeyed northward. Half way, at Leghorn, he sent letters to each of the five principal sovereigns of Europe declaring his last declaration just as null and void as his previous perjuries. His double-dealing was rather too much even for the Holy Alliance. As Gentz, the secretary of the Congress, expressed himself in private: "The conduct of this wretched sovereign, since the beginning of his troubles, has been nothing but a tissue of weaknesses and lies. Happily they will remain secret. No Cabinet will care to draw them from the graveyard of its archives. Till then there is not much harm done."

[Sidenote: Benjamin West]

Benjamin West, the celebrated American-English artist, died at London in his eighty-second year. At the opening of the Eighteenth Century, West was in the forefront of the agitation that grew out of his contested succession to Sir Joshua Reynolds as president of the Royal Academy. Wearied with these quarrels he visited Paris, where he studied the newly pillaged masterpieces at the Louvre. He resigned

from the Royal Academy, but was almost unanimously re-elected. It was then that he painted his famous "Christ Healing the Sick." His later works failed to attain the success of his earlier historical paintings. When West died, his reputation had declined appreciably, still a public funeral at St. Paul's Cathedral was accorded to him, a unique honor for an American.


[Sidenote: Congress of Leibach]

[Sidenote: Naples under duress]

The Congress of Leibach met in January. It was attended by the representatives of Russia, Austria, Prussia, England, France, Sardinia and Modena. When King Ferdinand of Naples arrived he was received by the Emperors of Russia and Austria in person. It was predetermined that absolute government in Naples should be restored by Austrian arms. The only problem remaining to diplomacy was to put a respectable face on King Ferdinand's dishonor. Capodistrias offered to make up some fictitious correspondence in which Ferdinand was proudly to uphold the constitution which he had sworn to support, and to yield protestingly to the powers only after actual threats of war. The device was rejected as too transparent. Moreover, the old king scarcely cared how his conduct appeared to his subjects. A letter was sent in his name to his son, the acting-viceroy, stating that the Powers were determined not to tolerate the order of things sprung from revolution, and that certain securities for peace would have to be given. The reference to securities meant the occupation of the country by an Austrian army. The letter reached Naples on February 9. Three days before the Austrian troops had received their orders to cross the Po.

[Sidenote: Battle of Rieti]

[Sidenote: Revolt of Piedmont]

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