Cavour : United Italy – Beacon Lights of History, Volume X : European Leaders by John Lord

Beacon Lights of History, Volume X European Leaders by john Lord

Beacon Lights of History, Volume X : European Leaders

William IV : English Reforms
Sir Robert Peel : Political Economy
Cavour : United Italy
Czar Nicholas : The Crimean War
Louis Napoleon : The Second Empire
Prince Bismarck : The German Empire
William Ewart Gladstone : The Enfranchisement of the People

Beacon Lights of History, Volume X : European Leaders
John Lord

Topics Covered
The Roman Catholic Church.
The temporal power.
General desire of Italians for liberty.
Popular leaders.
The Carbonari.
Charles Albert.
Joseph Mazzini.
Young Italy.
Varied fortunes of Mazzini.
Marquis d’Azeglio.
His aspirations and labors.
Battle of Novara.
King Victor Emmanuel II.
Count Cavour.
His early days.
Prime Minister.
His prodigious labors.
His policy and aims.
His diplomacy.
Alliance with Louis Napoleon.
His wanderings and adventures.
Daniele Manin.
Takes part in the freedom of Italy.
Garibaldi in Caprera.
Peace of Villa-Franca.
Liberation of Naples and Sicily.
Flight of Francis II. of Naples.
Battle of Volturno.
Annexation of Naples to Sardinia.
Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy.
Venetian provinces annexed to Italy.
Withdrawal of French troops from Italy.
All Italy united under Victor Emmanuel.

Cavour : United Italy


The most interesting and perhaps important event in the history of Europe in the interval between the fall of Napoleon I. and that of Napoleon III., a period of fifty-six years,–from 1815 to 1871,–was that which united the Italians under the government of Victor Emmanuel as a constitutional monarchy, free of all interference by foreign Powers.

The freedom and unity of Italy are to be considered, however, only from a political point of view. The spiritual power still remains in the hands of the Pope, who reigns as an ecclesiastical monarch over not only Italy but all Roman Catholic countries, as the popes have reigned for a thousand years. That venerable and august despotism was not assailed, or even modified, in the separation of the temporal from the spiritual powers. It was rather, probably, increased in influence. At no time since the Reformation has the spiritual authority of the Roman Pontiff been greater than it is at the present day. Nor can any one, however gifted and wise, foretell when that authority will be diminished. “The Holy Father” still reigns and is likely long to reign as the vicegerent of the Almighty in all matters of church government in Catholic countries, and as the recognized interpreter of their religious faith. So long as people remain Roman Catholics, they must remain in allegiance to the head of their church. They may cease to be Catholics, and no temporal harm will happen to them; but the awful power remains over those who continue to abide within the pale of the Church. Of his spiritual subjects the Pope exacts, as he has exacted for centuries, absolute and unconditional obedience through his ministers,–one great hierarchy of priests; the most complete and powerful mechanism our world has seen for good or evil, built up on the experience of ten centuries, and generally directed by consummate sagacity and inflexibility of purpose.

I have nothing here to say against this majestic sovereignty, which is an institution rather than a religion. Most of the purely religious dogmas which it defends and enforces are equally the dogmas of a majority of the Protestant churches, founded on the teachings of Christ and his apostles. The doctrines of Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, the great authorities of the Catholic Church, were substantially embraced by Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, and the Westminster divines. The Protestants rebelled mainly against the usurpations and corruptions of the Catholic Church as an institution, not against the creed of the Fathers and schoolmen and theological doctors in all Catholic countries. The Nicene and Apostles’ creeds bind together all orthodox Christians, whether of the Roman or Greek or Protestant churches.

Thus, in speaking of the liberation and unity of Italy as effected by an illustrious band of patriots, aided by friendly powers and fortunate circumstances, I mean freedom in a political sense. The papal yoke, so far as it was a yoke, was broken only in a temporal point of view. The Pope lost only his dominions as a temporal sovereign,–nothing of his dignity as an ecclesiastical monarch; and we are to consider his opposition to Victor Emmanuel and other liberators chiefly as that of a temporal prince, like Ferdinand of Naples. The great Italian revolution which established the sovereignty of the King of Sardinia over the whole peninsula was purely a political movement. Religious ideas had little or nothing to do with it. Communists and infidels may have fought under the standards of Mazzini and Garibaldi, but only to gain political privileges and rights. Italy remained after the revolution, as before, a Catholic country.

Camillo Benso di Cavour From a photograph

In considering this revolution, which destroyed the power of petty tyrants and the authority of foreign despots, which gave a free constitution and national unity to the whole country,–the rule of one man by the will of the people, and the checks which a freely elected legislature imposes,–it will be my aim to present chiefly the labors and sacrifices of a very remarkable band of patriots, working in different ways and channels for the common good, and assisted in their work by the aid of friendly States and potentates. But underneath and apart from the matchless patriotism and ability of a few great men like D’Azeglio, Mazzini, Garibaldi, Manin, Cavour, and, not least, the King of Sardinia himself,–who reigned at Turin as a constitutional monarch before the revolution,–should be mentioned the almost universal passion of the Italian people to throw off the yokes which oppressed them, whether imposed by the King of Naples, or by the Pope as a temporal prince, or by Austria, or by the various princes who had divided between them the territories of the peninsula,–diverse, yet banded together to establish their respective tyrannies, and to suppress liberal ideas of government and all reforms whatsoever. All who could read and write, and even many who could not, except those who were dependent on the government or hopelessly wedded to the ideas and institutions of the Middle Ages,–that conservative class to be found in every country, who cling to the past and dread the future,–had caught the contagion spread by the apostles of liberty in France, in Spain, in Greece, in England. The professors and students in the universities, professional men, and the well-to-do of the middle classes were foremost in their discontent and in their zeal for reform. They did not agree in their theories of government, nor did they unite on any definite plan for relief. Many were utterly impractical and visionary; some were at war with any settled government, and hated all wholesome restraints,–communists and infidels, who would destroy, without substituting anything better instead; some were in favor of a pure democracy, and others of representative governments; some wanted a republic, and others a constitutional monarchy: but all wanted a change.

There was one cry, one watchword common to all,–Personal liberty!–freedom to act and speak without the fear of inquisitions, spies, informers, prisons, and exile. In Naples, in Rome, in Bologna, in Venice, in Florence, in Milan, in Turin, there was this universal desire for personal liberty, and the resolution to get it at any cost. It was the soul of Italy going out in sympathy with all liberators and patriots throughout the world, intensified by the utterances of poets and martyrs, and kept burning by all the traditions of the past,–by the glories of classic Rome; and by the aspirations of the renaissance, when art, literature, and commerce revived. The common people united with their intellectual leaders in seeking something which would break their chains. They alike responded to the cries of patriotism, in some form or other. “Emancipate us from our tyrants, and we will follow you wherever you choose to lead,” was the feeling of all classes. “We don’t care who rules us, or what form government may take, provided we are personally free.”

In addition to this passion for personal liberty was also the desire for a united Italy,–a patriotic sentiment confined however to men of great intelligence, who scarcely expected such a boon, so great were the difficulties and obstacles which stared them in the face. It was impossible for the liberators of Italy to have effected so marvellous a movement if the material on which they worked had not been so impulsive and inflammable.

It required an uncommon degree of patriotic ardor on the part of the mass of the people to follow leaders like Garibaldi and Mazzini,–one of whom was rash to audacity, and the other visionary; and neither of whom had the confidence of the government at Turin, which, however, was not disposed to throw cold water on their enterprises or seriously to interfere with them. One thing is clear,–that had not the Italians, on the whole, been ripe for revolution it could not have succeeded; as in France the coup d’état of 1851, which enabled Louis Napoleon to mount the throne, could not have succeeded twenty years earlier when he made his rash attempt at Strasburg. All successful revolutions require the ready assent–nay, even the enthusiasm–of the people. The Italian revolution was based on popular discontent in all parts of the country where the people were oppressed, and on their enthusiastic aspirations for a change of rulers. What could any man of genius, however great his abilities, have done without this support of the people? What could the leaders of the American Revolution have done unless the thirteen colonies had rallied around them? Certainly no liberated people ever supported their leaders with greater enthusiasm and more self-sacrifices than the Italians. Had they been as degraded as has sometimes been represented, they would not have fought so bravely.

The Italian revolution in its origin dates back as early as 1820, when the secret societies were formed–especially that of the Carbonari–with a view to shake the existing despotisms. The Carbonari (“charcoal burners”), as they called themselves, were organized first at Naples. This uprising (at first successful) in Naples and Piedmont was put down by Austrian bayonets, and the old order of things was restored. A constitutional government had been promised to various Italian States by the first Napoleon in 1796. when he invited the Italians to rally to his standard and overthrow the Bourbon and Austrian despotisms; but his promises had not been kept. “Never,” said that great liar to Prince Metternich, “will I give the Italians a liberal system: I have granted to them only the semblance of it.” Equally false were the promises made by Austrian generals in 1813, when the Italians were urged to join in the dethronement of the great conqueror who had drafted them into his armies without compensation.

Though Italian liberty was suppressed by the strong arm of despotism, its spirit was kept alive by the secret societies, among whom were enrolled men of all classes; but these societies had no definite ends to accomplish. Among them were men of every shade of political belief. In general, they aimed at the overthrow of existing governments rather than at any plan as to what would take their place. When, through their cabals, they had dethroned Ferdinand I. at Naples, he too, like Napoleon, promised a constitution, and swore to observe it; but he also broke both his promises and oaths, and when reinstated by irresistible forces, he reigned more tyrannically than before.

When the revolution in the Sardinian province of Piedmont was suppressed (1821), King Victor Emmanuel I. refused to grant further liberty to his subjects, or to make promises which he could not fulfil. In this state of mind the honest old king abdicated in favor of his brother Charles Felix, who ruled despotically as Austria dictated, but did not belong to that class of despicable monarchs who promise everything and grant nothing.

In 1831, on the death of Charles Felix, the throne of Piedmont–or, rather, Sardinia, as it was called when in 1720 the large island of that name was combined with the principality of Piedmont and other territories to form a kingdom–was ascended by Charles Albert, of the younger branch of the House of Savoy. Charles Albert was an honest sovereign, but perpetually vacillating between the liberal and clerical parties. He hated Austria, but was averse to revolutionary measures. He ruled wisely, however, effecting many useful reforms, and adding to the prosperity of the country, which was the best governed of all the Italian States. It was to him that Mazzini appealed to put himself at the head of the national movement for liberty.

Joseph Mazzini, one of the earliest of the prominent men who aided in the deliverance of Italy, was a native of Genoa, belonging to a good but not illustrious family. He was a boy of twelve years of age when the revolution of 1821 broke out in Piedmont, which was so summarily crushed by Austria. At that early age he had indefinite ideas, but thought that Italians should boldly struggle for the liberty of their country. In 1826, while a student at the university, he published an article on Dante, whose lofty sentiments and independent spirit made a deep impression on his soul. His love for his native land became like a “fire in his bones;” it was a passion which nothing could repress. He was an enthusiast of immense physical and moral courage, pure-minded, lofty in his aspirations, imbued with the spirit of sacrifice. As his mind developed, he became an intense republican. He had no faith in monarchies, even if liberal. Heart and soul he devoted himself to the spread of republican ideas. He early joined the Carbonari, who numbered nearly a million in Italy, and edited a literary paper in Genoa, in which he dared to rebuke the historian Botta for his aristocratic tendencies. He became so bold in the advocacy of extreme liberal opinions that his journal was suppressed by government. When the French insurrection broke out in 1830, he and other young men betook themselves to the casting of bullets. He was arrested, and confined in the fortress of Savona, on the western Riviera. It was while in prison that he conceived the plan of establishing a society, which he called “Young Italy,” for the propagation of republican ideas. When liberated he proceeded to Geneva, where he made the acquaintance of Sismondi, the Swiss historian, who treated him with great kindness and urbanity, and introduced him to Pellegrino Rossi, the exiled publicist, at that time professor of law at Geneva. From Geneva Mazzini went to Lyons, and there collected a band of Italian exiles, mostly military men, who contemplated the invasion of Savoy. Hunted as a refugee, he secretly escaped to Marseilles, and thence to Corsica, where the Carbonari had great influence. Returning to Marseilles, he resumed his design of founding the Association of Young Italy, and became acquainted with the best of the exiles who had flocked to that city. It was then he wrote to Charles Albert, who had lately ascended the Sardinian throne, inviting him to place himself at the head of the liberal movement; but the king at once gave orders to arrest the visionary enthusiast if found in his dominions.

The Association of Young Italy which Mazzini founded, and which soon numbered thousands of enthusiastic young men, proclaimed as the basis of its political belief Liberty, Equality, Humanity, Independence, Unity. It was republican, as favoring the only form of government which it was supposed would insure the triumph of these principles. It was unitary, because without unity there was no true nationality or real strength. The means to reach these ends, Mazzini maintained, were not assassination, as represented by the dagger of the Carbonari, but education and insurrection,–and insurrection by guerrilla bands, as the only way for the people to emancipate themselves from a foreign yoke. It was a foreign yoke under which Italy groaned, since all the different states and governments were equally supported by foreign armies.

So far as these principles harmonized with those proclaimed by the French revolutionists, they met very little opposition from the Italian liberals; but national unity, however desirable, was pronounced chimerical. How could Naples, Rome, Venice, Florence, Sardinia, and the numerous other States, be joined together under one government? And then, under what form of government should this union be effected? To the patriots of 1831 this seemed an insoluble problem. Mazzini, from first to last, maintained that the new government should be republican. Yet what more visionary than a united Italy as a republic? The sword, or fortunate circumstances, might effect unity, but under the rule only of one man, whether he were bound by a constitution or not. Such a union Mazzini would not entertain for a moment, and persistently disseminated his principles.

In consequence, a decree of banishment from France was proclaimed against him. He hid himself in Marseilles, and the police could not find him. From his secret retreat his writings continued to be issued, and were scattered over France, Switzerland, and Italy, and found readers and advocates.

At length, in 1833, Mazzini ventured to put his principles into practice, and meditated the invasion of Savoy, to produce an insurrection at Genoa and Alessandra. With amazing perseverance under difficulties, he succeeded in collecting money and men, and, without military education or genius, made his attempt. Defeated by the royal troops, the expedition failed, as might have been expected. Such a man should have fought with the pen and not the sword. The enterprise was a failure from the start. Mazzini was sentenced to death; but again he escaped, and fled to Berne, whence he continued to issue his publications. Thus two or three years were passed, when, through the efforts of sundry Italian governments, the authorities of Berne resolved to disperse the Association of Young Italy.

Mazzini again became a fugitive, and in 1837 found his way to England, without money, without friends, without influence,–a forlorn exile fraternizing with doubt, sorrow, and privation; struggling for more than a year in silence; so poor at one time as to be compelled to pawn his coat and boots to keep himself from absolute starvation, for he was too proud to beg. Thus did he preserve his dignity, and uncomplainingly endure his trials. At last he found means to support himself modestly by literature, and gradually made friends,–among them Thomas Carlyle. He gained social position as a man of genius, of unsullied moral character and of elevated patriotism, although his political opinions found but few admirers. Around his humble quarters the Italian exiles gathered, and received kind words of encouragement and hope; some of them he was able to assist in their struggles with bitter poverty.

Finally, in 1848, Mazzini returned to Italy, no longer molested, to take part in the revolution which was to free his country. He found power in the hands of the moderate progressive party.

The leader of this party was the Marquis Massimo d’Azeglio, belonging to an ancient and aristocratic Piedmontese family. He was a man of great weight of character and intellectual expansion. In 1846 he was ordered to leave Tuscany, for having printed a book of liberal views, which gave offence to the government. He was opposed to the republican opinions of Mazzini, and was a firm advocate of a constitutional monarchy. He desired reforms to be carried on moderately and wisely. Probably he was the most enlightened man in Italy at this time, and of incorruptible integrity. He was well acquainted with the condition of the cities of Italy, having visited most of them, and had great influence with Charles Albert, who was doubtless patriotic in his intentions, but disposed to move cautiously.

It was the aim of D’Azeglio to bring to bear an enlightened public opinion on the evils which were generally admitted, without provoking revolutionary risings, in which he had no faith. Like other Italian patriots, he desired to see his country freed from foreign domination, and was as much disliked by Metternich as by Mazzini. The Austrian statesman ridiculed the idea of Italian unity, and called Italy a “geographical expression.” What he considered an impossibility is now realized as a fact. His judgment of the papacy however was wiser. A “liberal Pope,” he declared, “is not a possible being.” To all the reforms advocated by Italian statesmen the Pope, whatever his name, has remained consistently inflexible. The words ascribed to the Jesuits would apply to all the Popes,–“Let us remain as we are, or let us exist no longer.” To every proposition for reform the cry has been, Non possumus. The minutest concession has been obstinately refused,–a fact so well known that even in Rome itself no other course has been possible among its discontented people than absolute rebellion. Something was hoped from Pius IX.; but all hopes of reforms at his hand vanished soon after his elevation in 1846. He did, indeed, soon after his accession, publish an amnesty for political offences; but this was a matter of grace, to show his kindness of heart, not to indicate any essential change in the papal policy.

Benevolence and charity are two different things from sympathy with reform and liberality of mind. The first marked Metternich and Alexander I. of Russia, as well as Pius IX. The most urbane and graceful of princes may be inflexible tyrants so far as government is concerned, like Augustus and Louis XIV. You may be charmed with the manners and genial disposition and unaffected piety of a dignitary of the Church, but there can be no cordial agreement with him respecting the rights of the people any more than as to Church dogmas, even if you yield up ninety-nine points out of a hundred. The intensest bigotry and narrowness are compatible with the most charming manners and the noblest acts of personal kindness. This truth is illustrated by the characters drawn by Sir Walter Scott in his novels, and by Hume in his histories. It explains the inconsistencies of hospitable English Tories, of old-fashioned Southern planters, of the haughty nobles of Austria who gathered around the table of the most accomplished gentleman in Europe,–equally famous for his graceful urbanities and infamous for his uncompromising hostility to the leaders of liberal movements. On the other hand, those who have given the greatest boons to humanity have often been rough in manners, intolerant of infirmities, bitter in their social prejudices, hard in their dealings, and acrid in their tempers; and if they were occasionally jocular, their jokes were too practical to be in high favor with what is called good society.

Now D’Azeglio was a high-born gentleman, aristocratic in all his ideas, and, what was unusual with Italian nobles, a man of enlarged and liberal views, who favored reforms if they could be carried out in a constitutional way,–like Lord John Russell and the great English Whig noblemen who passed the Reform Bill, or like the French statesmen of the type of Thiers and Guizot.

In the general outbreak of revolutionary ideas which convulsed all Europe in 1848, when even Metternich was driven from power, Charles Albert was forced to promise a constitution to his North Italian subjects,–and kept his word, which other Italian potentates did not, when they were restored by Austrian bayonets. He had always been vacillating, but at last he saw the necessities of Italy and recognized the spirit of the times. He was thus naturally drawn into a war with Austria, whose army in Italy was commanded by the celebrated Marshal Radetzky. Though an old man of eighty, the Austrian general defeated the King of Piedmont in several engagements. At Novara, on the 23d of March, 1849, he gained a decisive victory, which led to the abdication of the king; and amidst gloom, disaster, and difficulty, the deposed monarch was succeeded by his son, the Duke of Savoy, under the name of Victor Emmanuel II.

The young king rallied around him the ablest and most patriotic men he could find, including D’Azeglio, who soon became his prime minister; and it was from this nobleman’s high character, varied abilities, unshaken loyalty to his sovereign, and ardent devotion to the Italian cause, that Victor Emmanuel was enabled to preserve order and law on the one hand and Italian liberties on the other. All Italy, as well as Piedmont, had confidence in the integrity and patriotism of the king, and in the wisdom of his prime minister, who upheld the liberties they had sworn to defend. D’Azeglio succeeded in making peace with Austria, while, at the same time, he clung to constitutional liberty. Under his administration the finances were improved and national resources were developed. Sardinia became the most flourishing of all the States of Italy, in which both freedom and religious toleration were enjoyed,–for Naples and Rome had relapsed into despotisms, and the iron hand of Austria was still felt throughout the peninsula. Among other reforms, ecclesiastics were placed on the same footing with other citizens in respect to the laws,–a great movement in a Catholic State. This measure was of course bitterly opposed by the clerical and conservative party, but was ably supported in the legislature by the member from Turin,–Count Camillo Cavour; and this great man now became one of the most prominent figures in the drama played by Italian patriots, since it was to his sagacious statesmanship and devoted labors that their efforts were crowned with final success.

Cavour was a man of business, of practical intellect, and of inexhaustible energies. His labors, when he had once entered upon public life, were prodigious. His wisdom and tact were equal to his industry and administrative abilities. Above all, his patriotism blazed with a steady light, like a beacon in a storm, as intense as that of Mazzini, but more wisely directed.

Cavour was a younger son of a noble Piedmontese family, and entered the army in 1826, serving in the engineers. His liberal sentiments made him distrusted by the government of Charles Felix as a dangerous man, and he was doomed to an inactive life in an unimportant post. He soon quitted the army, and embarked in business operations as manager of one of the estates of his family. For twelve years he confined himself to agricultural labors, making himself acquainted with all the details of business and with the science of agriculture, introducing such improvements as the use of guano, and promoting agricultural associations; but he was not indifferent at the same time to public affairs, being one of the most zealous advocates of constitutional liberty. A residence in England gave him much valuable knowledge as to the working of representative institutions. He established in 1847 a political newspaper, and went into parliament as a member of the Chamber of Deputies. In 1848 he used all his influence to induce the government to make war with Austria; and when Charles Albert abdicated, and Victor Emmanuel became king, Cavour’s great talents were rewarded. In 1850 he became minister of commerce; in 1852, prime minister. After that, his history is the history of Italy itself.

The Sardinian government took the lead of all the States of Italy for its vigor and its wisdom. To drive the Austrians out of the country now became the first principle of Cavour’s administration. For this end he raised the military and naval forces of Sardinia to the utmost practicable point of efficiency; and the people from patriotic enthusiasm, cheerfully submitted to the increase of taxation. He built railways, made commercial treaties with foreign nations, suppressed monasteries, protected fugitives from Austrian and Papal tyranny, gave liberty to the Press, and even meditated the construction of a tunnel under Mont Cenis. His most difficult task was the reform of ecclesiastical abuses, since this was bitterly opposed by the clergy and the conservatives; but he succeeded in establishing civil marriages, in suppressing the Mendicant order of friars, and in making priests amenable to the civil courts. He also repressed all premature and unwise movements on the part of patriotic leaders to secure national deliverance, and hence incurred the hostility of Mazzini.

The master-stroke in the policy of Cavour as a statesman was to make a firm alliance with France and England, to be used as a lever against Austria. He saw the improbability of securing liberty to Italy unless the Austrians were expelled by force of arms. The Sardinian kingdom, with only five millions of people, was inadequate to cope singly with one of the most powerful military monarchies of Europe. Cavour looked for deliverance only by the aid of friendly Powers, and he secured the friendship of both France and England by offering five thousand troops for the Crimean war. On the 10th of January, 1855, a treaty was signed which admitted Sardinia on equal terms as the ally of the Western Powers; and the Sardinian army, under the command of General La Marmora, rendered very substantial aid, and fought with great gallantry in the Crimea. When, in 1856, an armistice took place between the contending Powers, followed by the Congress of Paris, Cavour took his place with the envoys of the great Powers. Furthermore, he availed himself of his opportunities to have private conferences with the Emperor Napoleon III. in reference to Italian matters; and his influence with the foreign statesmen he met in Paris was equally beneficial to the great end to which his life was devoted. His diplomacy was unrivalled for tact, and the ministers of France and England saw and acknowledged it. By his diplomatic abilities he enlisted the Emperor of the French in behalf of Italian independence, and, perhaps more than any other man, induced him to make war on Austria.

Cavour’s lucid exposition of the internal affairs of Italy brought out the condemnation of the Russian and Prussian envoys as well as that of the English ministry, and led to their expostulation with the Austrian government. But all in vain. Austria would listen to no advice, and blindly pursued her oppressive policy, to the exasperation of the different leaders whatever may have been their peculiar views of government. All this prepared the way for the acknowledgment of Sardinia as the leader in the matter of Italian emancipation, whom the other Italian States were willing to follow. The hopes of the Italians were now turned to the House of Savoy, to its patriotic chief, and to its able minister, whose counsels Victor Emmanuel in most cases followed. From this time the republican societies which Mazzini had established lost ground before the ascendency which Cavour had acquired in Italian politics. Of the Western Powers, he would have preferred an alliance with Great Britain; but when he found he could expect from the English government no assistance by arms against Austria, he drew closer to the French emperor as the one power alone from whom efficient aid was to be obtained, and set his sharp wits at work to make such a course both easy and profitable to France.

There is reason to believe that Louis Napoleon was sincere in his desire to assist the Italians in shaking off the yoke of Austria, to the extent that circumstances should warrant. Whatever were his political crimes, his personal sympathies were with Italy. His youthful alliance with the Carbonari, his early political theories, the antecedents of his family, and his natural wish for the close union of the Latin races seem to confirm this view. Moreover, he was now tempted by Cavour with the cession of Savoy and Nice to France to strengthen his southern boundaries; and for the possession of these provinces he was willing to put Victor Emmanuel in the way to obtain as a compensation Venetia and Lombardy, then held by the iron hand of Austria. This would double the number of Victor Emmanuel’s subjects, and give him the supremacy over the north of Italy. Cavour easily convinced his master that the sacrifice of Savoy, the home of his ancestors, though hard to accept, would make him more powerful than all the other sovereigns of Italy combined, and would pave the way for the sovereignty of Italy itself,–the one object which Cavour had most at heart, and to which all his diplomatic talents were directed.

In the summer of 1858 Napoleon III. invited Cavour to a conference at Plombières, and thither the Italian statesman repaired; but the results of the conference were not revealed to the public, or even to the ministers of Louis Napoleon. Although there were no written engagements, it was arranged that Sardinia should make war on Austria and that France should come to her assistance, as the only practicable way for Italy to shake off the Austrian domination and secure her independence. Ultimately, not only independence but unity was the supreme aim of Cavour. For this great end the Italian statesman labored night and day, under great difficulties, and constant apprehension that something might happen which would compel the French emperor to break his promises, for his situation was also critical. But in reality Louis Napoleon desired war with Austria as much as Cavour, in order to find employment for his armies, to gain the coveted increase of territory, and to increase his military prestige.

Cavour, having completed arrangements with Napoleon III., at once sought the aid of all the Italian patriots. He secretly sent for Garibaldi, and unfolded to him his designs on Austria; and also he privately encouraged those societies which had for their end the deliverance of Italy. All this he did without the knowledge of the French emperor, who equally disliked Garibaldi and Mazzini.

At this time Garibaldi was one of the foremost figures in the field of Italian politics, and, to introduce him, we must go back to an earlier day. Giuseppe Garibaldi was born in 1807, at Nice, of humble parents, who were seafaring people. Although he was a wild youth, full of deeds of adventure and daring, he was destined by his priest-ridden father for the Church; but the boy’s desire for a sailor’s life could not be resisted. At the age of twenty-one he was second in command of a brig bound for the Black Sea, which was plundered three times during the voyage by Greek pirates. This misfortune left the young Garibaldi utterly destitute; but his wants being relieved by a generous Englishman, he was enabled to continue his voyage to Constantinople, where he was taken sick.

In 1834 he was induced to take part in the revolutionary movement which was going on under Mazzini, who had instituted his Society of Young Italy. On the failure of Mazzini in the rash affair of St. Julien,–an ill-timed insurrection in which Garibaldi took part,–the young sailor fled in disguise to Nice, and thence to Marseilles. Charles Albert was then on the throne of Sardinia, and though the most liberal sovereign in Italy, was tyrannical in his measures. Ferdinand II. ruled at Naples with a rod of iron; the Pontifical States and the Duchies of Modena and Parma were equally under despotic governments, while Venice and Lombardy were ground down by Austria.

In those days of discouragement, when all Italy was enslaved, Garibaldi left his country with a heavy heart, and sailing for South America, entered the service of the Republic of Rio Grande, which had set itself up against the authority of the Emperor of Brazil. In this struggle of a little State against a larger one, Garibaldi distinguished himself not only for his bravery but for his military talent of leadership. He took several prizes as a privateer, but was wounded in some engagement, and fled to Gualeguay, where he was thrown into prison, from which he made his escape, and soon after renewed his seafaring adventures, some of which were marvellous. After six years of faithful service to the Republic of Rio Grande, he bought a drove of nine hundred cattle, and set out for Montevideo with his Brazilian wife and child, to try a mercantile career. This was unsuccessful. He then became a schoolmaster at Montevideo, but soon tired of so monotonous a calling. Craving war and adventure, he buckled on his sword once more in the struggle between Montevideo and Buenos Ayres; and for his gallantry and successes he was made a general, but refused all compensation for his services, and remained in poverty, which he seemed to love as much as some love riches. The reputation which he gained drew a number of Italians to his standard, resolved to follow his fortunes.

In the meantime great things were doing in Piedmont towards reform by the Marquis D’Azeglio,–prime minister of Charles Albert,–who was then irretrievably devoted to the liberal cause. Every mail brought to Montevideo news which made Garibaldi’s blood boil, and he resolved to return to Italy and take part in the movements of the patriots. This was in 1848, when not only Italy but all Europe was shaken by revolutionary ideas. He landed in Nice on the 24th of June, and at once went to the camp of Charles Albert, sought an interview, and offered his services, which, however, were not accepted,–the king having not forgotten that Garibaldi was once a rebel against him, and was still an outlaw.

Nothing remained for the adventurous patriot but to continue an inactive spectator or throw in his lot with the republican party. He did not wait long to settle that question, but flew to Milan and organized a force of thirty thousand volunteers for the defence of that city from the Austrians. On the conclusion of an armistice, which filled him with detestation of Charles Albert, he and Mazzini, who had joined the corps, undertook to harass the Austrians among the mountains above Lake Maggiore. Finding it impossible to make head against the Austrians in the midst of their successes, Garibaldi retired to Switzerland, where he lay ill for some time with a dangerous fever. On his recovery he started for Venice with two hundred and fifty volunteers, to join Daniele Manin in his memorable resistance to the Austrians; but hearing at Ravenna that a rebellion had broken out in Rome, he bent his course to the “Eternal City,” to swell with fifteen hundred men the ranks of the rebellious subjects of the Pope,–for Pius IX. had repudiated the liberal principles which he had professed at the beginning of his reign.

When the rebellion broke out in Rome the Pope fled to Gaeta, and put himself under the protection of the King of Naples. A Constituent Assembly was called, in which both Mazzini and Garibaldi sat as members. Garibaldi was intrusted with the defence of the city; a triumvirate was formed–of which Mazzini was the inspiring leader–to administer affairs, and the temporal government of the Pope was decreed by the Assembly to be at an end.

Meanwhile, Louis Napoleon, then President of the French Republic, against all his antecedents, sided against the Liberals, and sent General Oudinot with a large army to restore the papal power at Rome. This general was at first defeated, but, on the arrival of reinforcements, he gradually gained possession of the city. The resistance was valiant but useless. In vain Mazzini promised assistance; in vain Garibaldi, in his red shirt and cap, defended the ramparts. On the 21st of June the French effected a breach in the city wall and planted their batteries, and on the 30th of June they made their final assault. Further resistance became hopeless; and Garibaldi, at the head of four thousand fugitives, leaving the city as the French entered it, again became a wanderer.

He first made his way to Tuscany, but at Arezzo found the gates closed against him. Hotly pursued by Austrian troops he crossed the Apennines, and sought the shelter of the little republic of San Marino, the authorities of which, in fear of the Austrians, refused him the refuge he sought, but in full sympathy with his cause connived at his escape. As Venice still held out under Manin, Garibaldi made his way to the Adriatic,–accompanied by his wife, the faithful Anita, about to become a mother,–where he and some of his followers embarked in some fishing-boats and reached the mouth of the Po, still hounded by the Austrians. He and his sick wife and a few followers were obliged to hide in cornfields, among rocks, and in caverns. On the shores of the Adriatic Anita expired in the arms of her husband, who, still hunted, contrived to reach Ravenna, where for a while he was hidden by friends.

It was now useless to proceed to Venice, at this time in the last gasp of her struggle; so Garibaldi made his way to Spezzia, on the Gulf of Genoa, with a single companion-in-arms, but learned that Florence was not prepared for rebellion. The government of Turin, fearing to allow so troublesome a guest to remain at Genoa, held him for a while in honorable captivity, but permitted him to visit his aged mother and his three children at Nice. On his return to Genoa, the government politely requested him to leave Italy. He passed over to the island of Sardinia, still hunted and half a bandit, wandering over the mountains, and, when hard pressed, retiring to the small island-rock of Caprera.

Eventually, finding no hopes of further rising in Italy, Garibaldi found his way to Liverpool, and embarked for New York. Arriving in that city he refused to be lionized, and also declined all contributions of money from admirers, but supported himself for eighteen months by making tallow candles on Staten Island. At the same time French exiles were seeking to gain a living in New York,–Ledru Rollin as a store porter, Louis Blanc as a dancing-master, and Felix Pyat as a scene-shifter. Not succeeding very well in making candles, Garibaldi went again to South America, and became captain of a trading-vessel plying between China and Peru, and then again of a vessel between New York and England. In 1854 he was once more in Genoa, and after cruising about the Mediterranean, he had amassed money enough to buy a portion of the island of Caprera, where he found a resting-place.

Sardinia was then under the guidance of Cavour, who was meditating the gaining of friendship from France by furnishing troops for the Crimean war. The moderate Liberal party had the ascendency in Italy, convinced that all hopes for the regeneration of their country rested on constitutional measures. Venice and Lombardy had settled down once more in subjection to Austria; the Pope reigned as a temporal prince with the assistance of French troops; and at Naples a Bourbon despot had re-established his tyrannical rule.

For ten years Garibaldi led a quiet life at Caprera, the whole island, fifteen miles in circumference, near the coast of Sardinia, having fallen into his possession. Here he cultivated a small garden redeemed from the rocks, and milked a few cows. He had also some fine horses given to him by friends, and his house was furnished in the most simple manner. On this island, monarch of all he surveyed, he diffused an unostentatious but generous hospitality; for many distinguished persons came to visit him, and he amused himself by writing letters and attempting some literary work.

In 1859, under the manipulation of Cavour, French and Italian politics became more and more intertwined,–the war with Austria, the formation of an Italian kingdom from the Alps to the Adriatic, the cession of Nice and Savoy and the marriage of Princess Clotilde to Prince Napoleon being the main objects which occupied the mind of Cavour. Early in the year Victor Emmanuel made public his intention of aiding Venice and Lombardy to throw off the Austrian yoke. It was then that the all-powerful Italian statesman sent for Garibaldi, who at once obeyed the summons, appearing in his red blouse and with his big stick, and was commissioned to fight against the Austrians. Volunteers from all parts of Italy flocked to his standard,–some four thousand disorderly troops, but devoted to him and to the cause of Italian independence. He held a regular commission in the allied armies of France and Sardinia, but was so hampered by jealous generals that Victor Emmanuel–dictator as well as king–gave him permission to quit the regular army, go where he liked, and fight as he pleased. With his volunteers Garibaldi performed many acts of bravery which won for him great éclat; but he made many military mistakes. Once he came near being captured with all his men; but fortune favored, and he almost miraculously escaped from the hands of the Austrians. The scene of his exploits was in the mountainous country around Lake Como.

Meanwhile the allied armies had defeated the Austrians at Magenta and Solferino, and Louis Napoleon had effected the celebrated treaty with Austria at Villa-Franca, arranging for a confederation of all the Italian States under the Papal Protectorate, and the cession of Lombardy to Sardinia. This inconclusive result greatly disgusted all the Italian patriots. Cavour resigned at once, but soon after was induced to resume his post at the head of affairs. Venice and Verona were still in Austrian hands. As the Prussians showed signs of uneasiness, it is probable that Louis Napoleon did not feel justified in continuing the war, in which he had nothing further to gain; at all events, he now withdrew. Garibaldi was exceedingly indignant at the desertion of France, and opposed bitterly the cession of Nice and Savoy,–by which he was brought in conflict with Cavour, who felt that Italy could well afford to part with a single town and a barren strip of mountain territory for the substantial advantages it had already gained by the defeat of the Austrian armies.

The people of the Italian States, however, repudiated the French emperor’s arrangements for them, and one by one Modena, Tuscany, Parma, and the Romagna,–the upper tier of the Papal States,–formally voted for annexation to the Kingdom of Sardinia; and the king, nothing loath, received them into his fold in March, 1860. This result was in great measure due to the Baron Ricasoli of Tuscany, an independent country-gentleman and wine-grower, who had taken active interest in politics, and had been made Dictator of Tuscany when her grand duke fled at the outbreak of the war. Ricasoli obstinately refused either to recall the grand duke or to submit to the Napoleonic programme, but insisted on annexation to Sardinia; and the other duchies followed.

Garibaldi now turned his attention to the liberation of Naples and Sicily from the yoke of Ferdinand, which had become intolerable. As early as 1851, Mr. Gladstone, on a visit to Naples, wrote to Lord Aberdeen that the government of Ferdinand was “an outrage on religion, civilization, humanity, and decency.” He had found the prisons full of state prisoners in the vilest condition, and other iniquities which were a disgrace to any government. The people had attempted by revolution again and again to shake off the accursed yoke, and had failed. Their only hope was from without.

It was the combined efforts of three men that freed Southern Italy from the yoke,–Mazzini, who opened the drama by recognizing in Sicily a fitting field of action; Cavour, by his diplomatic intrigues; and Garibaldi, by his bold and even rash enterprises. The patriotism of these three men is universally conceded; but they held one another in distrust and dislike, although in different ways they worked for the same end. Mazzini wanted to see a republican form of government established throughout Italy, which Cavour regarded as chimerical. Garibaldi did not care what government was established, provided Italy was free and united. Cavour, though he disapproved the rashness of Garibaldi, was willing to make use of him provided he was not intrusted with too high a command. Moreover, there were mutual jealousies, each party wishing to get the supreme direction of affairs.

The first step was taken in 1860 by Garibaldi, in his usual fashion. Having gathered about a thousand men, he set sail from Genoa to take part in the Sicilian revolution. Cavour, when he heard of the expedition, or rather raid, led by Garibaldi upon Sicily in aid of the insurrectionists, ostensibly opposed it, and sent an admiral to capture him and bring him back to Turin; but secretly he favored it. The government of Turin held aloof from the expedition out of regard to foreign Powers, who were indignant that the peace of Europe should be disturbed by a military adventurer,–in their eyes, half-bandit and half-sailor. Lord John Russell, however, in England, gave his encouragement and assistance by the directions given to Admiral Mundy, who interposed his ships between the Neapolitan cruisers and the soldiers of Garibaldi, then marching on the coast. France remained neutral; Austria had been crippled; and Prussia and Russia were too distant to care much about a matter which did not affect them.

So, with his troop of well-selected men, Garibaldi succeeded in landing on the Sicilian shores. He at once issued his manifesto to the people, and soon had the satisfaction to see his forces increased. He first came in contact with the Neapolitan troops among the mountains at Calatafimi, and defeated them, so that they retired to Palermo. The capital of Sicily could have been easily defended; but, aided by a popular uprising, Garibaldi was soon master of the city, and took up his quarters in the royal palace as Dictator of Sicily, where he lived very quietly, astonishing the viceroy’s servants by his plain dinners of soup and vegetables without wine. His wardrobe was then composed “of two pairs of gray trousers, an old felt hat, two red shirts, and a few pocket-handkerchiefs.”

On the 17th of July, 1860, Garibaldi left Palermo, and embarked for Milazzo, on the northwest coast of Sicily, where he gained another victory, which opened to him the city of Messina. The Neapolitan government deemed all further resistance on the island of Sicily useless, and recalled its troops for the defence of Naples. At Messina, Garibaldi was joined by Father Gavazzi, the finest orator of Italy, who had seceded from the Romish Church, and who threw his whole soul into the cause of Italian independence. Garibaldi now had a force of twenty-five thousand men under his orders, and prepared to invade the peninsula.

On the 17th of August he landed at Taormina with a part of his army, and marched on Reggio, a strong castle, which he took by assault. This success gave him a basis of operations on the main land. The residue of his troops were brought over from Messina, and his triumphal march to Naples immediately followed, not a hand being raised against him. The young king Francis II. fled as the conqueror approached,–or rather I should say, deliverer; for Garibaldi had no hard battles to fight when once he had landed on the shores of Italy. His popularity was so great, and the enthusiasm of the people was so unbounded, that armies melted away or retired as he approached with his Calabrian sugar-loaf hat; and, instead of fighting, he was obliged to go through the ordeal of kissing all the children and being hugged by all the women.

Naples was now without a government, and Garibaldi had no talent for organization. The consequence was that the city was torn by factions, and yet Garibaldi refused to adopt vigorous measures. “I am grieved,” he said, “at the waywardness of my children,” yet he took no means to repress disorders. He even reaped nothing but ingratitude from those he came to deliver. Not a single Garibaldian was received into a private house, while three thousand of his men were lying sick and wounded on the stones of the Jesuit College. How was it to be expected that anything else could happen among a people so degraded as the Neapolitans, one hundred years behind the people of North Italy in civilization, in intelligence, in wealth, and in morals,–in everything that qualifies a people for liberty or self-government?

In the midst of the embarrassments which perplexed and surrounded the dictator, Mazzini made his appearance at Naples. Garibaldi, however, would have nothing to do with the zealous republican, and held his lot with the royalists, as he was now the acknowledged representative of the Sardinian government. Mazzini was even requested to leave Italy, which he refused to do. Whether it was from jealousy that Garibaldi held aloof from Mazzini,–vastly his intellectual superior,–or from the conviction that his republican ideas were utterly impracticable, cannot be known. We only know that he sought to unite the north and the south of Italy under one government, as a preparation for the conquest of central Italy, which he was impatient to undertake at all hazards.

At last the King of Naples prepared to make one decisive struggle for his throne. From his retreat at Gaeta he rallied his forces, which were equal to those of Garibaldi,–about forty thousand men. On the 1st of October was fought the battle of Volturno, as to which Garibaldi, after fierce fighting, was enabled to send his exultant dispatch, “Complete victory along the whole line!” Francis II. retired to his strong fortress of Gaeta to await events.

Meanwhile, on the news of Garibaldi’s successes, King Victor Emmanuel set out from Turin with a large army to take possession of the throne of Naples, which Garibaldi was ready to surrender. But the king must needs pass through the States of the Church,–a hazardous undertaking, since Rome was under the protection of the French troops. Louis Napoleon had given an ambiguous assent to this movement, which, however, he declined to assist; and, defeating the papal troops under General Lamoricière, Victor Emmanuel pushed on to Naples. As the King of Piedmont advanced from the north, he had pretty much the same experience that Garibaldi had in his march from the south. He met with no serious resistance. On passing the Neapolitan frontier he was met by Garibaldi with his staff, who laid down his dictatorship at his sovereign’s feet,–the most heroic and magnanimous act of his life. This was also his proudest hour, since he had accomplished his purpose. He had freed Naples, and had united the South with the North. On the 10th of October the people of the Two Sicilies voted to accept the government of Victor Emmanuel; and the king entered Naples, November 7, in all the pomp of sovereignty.

Garibaldi’s task was ended on surrendering his dictatorship; but he had one request to make of Victor Emmanuel, to whom he had given a throne. He besought him to dismiss Cavour, and to be himself allowed to march on Rome,–for he hated the Pope with terrible hatred, and called him Antichrist, both because he oppressed his subjects and was hostile to the independence of Italy. But Victor Emmanuel could not grant such an absurd request,–he was even angry; and the Liberator of Naples retired to his island-home with only fifteen shillings in his pocket!

This conduct on the part of the king may seem like ingratitude; but what else could he do? He doubtless desired that Rome should be the capital of his dominions as much as Garibaldi himself, but the time had not come. Victor Emmanuel could not advance on Rome and Venice with an “army of red shirts;” he could not overcome the armed veterans of Austria and France as Garibaldi had prevailed over the discontented troops of Francis II.,–he must await his opportunity. Besides, he had his hands full to manage the affairs of Naples, where every element of anarchy had accumulated.

To add to the embarrassments of Victor Emmanuel, he was compelled to witness the failing strength and fatal illness of his prime minister. The great statesman was dying from overwork. Although no man in Europe was capable of such gigantic tasks as Cavour assumed, yet even he had to succumb to the laws of nature. He took no rest and indulged in no pleasures, but devoted himself body and soul to the details of his office and the calls of patriotism. He had to solve the most difficult problems, both political and commercial. He was busy with the finances of the kingdom, then in great disorder; and especially had he to deal with the blended ignorance, tyranny, and corruption that the Bourbon kings of Naples had bequeathed to the miserable country which for more than a century they had so disgracefully misgoverned. All this was too much for the overworked statesman, who was always at his post in the legislative chamber, in his office with his secretaries, and in the council chamber of the cabinet. He died in June, 1861, and was buried, not in a magnificent mausoleum, but among his family relations at Santena.

Cavour did not, however, pass away until he saw the union of all Italy–except Venice and Rome–under the sceptre of Victor Emmanuel. Lombardy had united with Piedmont soon after the victory at Solferino, by the suffrages of its inhabitants. At Turin, deputies from the States of Italy,–except Venice and Rome,–chosen by the people, assembled, and formally proclaimed Italy to be free. The population of four millions, which comprised the subjects of Victor Emmanuel on his accession to the throne, had in about thirteen years increased to twenty-two millions; and in February, 1861, Victor Emmanuel was by his Senate and Chamber of Deputies proclaimed King of Italy, although he wisely forbore any attempt actually to annex the Venetian and Papal States.

Victor Emmanuel, From a photograph

Rome and Venice were still outside. The Pope remained inflexible to any reforms, any changes, any improvements. Non possumus was all that he deigned to say to the ambassadors who advised concessions. On the 7th of September, 1860, Victor Emmanuel sent an envoy to Rome to demand from his Holiness the dismissal of his foreign troops; which demand was refused. Upon this, the king ordered an army to enter the papal provinces of Umbria and the Marches. In less than three weeks the campaign was over, and General Lamoricière, who commanded the papal troops, was compelled to surrender. Austria, Prussia, and Russia protested; but Victor Emmanuel paid little heed to the protest, or to the excommunications which were hurled against him. The Emperor of the French found it politic to withdraw his ambassador from Turin, but adhered to his policy of non-intervention, and remained a quiet spectator. The English government, on the other hand, justified the government of Turin in thus freeing Italian territory from foreign troops.

Garibaldi was not long contented with his retirement at Caprera. In July, 1862, he rallied around him a number of followers, determined to force the king’s hand, and to complete the work of unity by advancing on Rome as he had on Naples. His rashness was opposed by the Italian government,–wisely awaiting riper opportunity,–who sent against him the greatest general of Italy (La Marmora), and Garibaldi was taken prisoner at Aspromonte. The king determined to do nothing further without the support of the representatives of the nation, but found it necessary to maintain a large army, which involved increased taxation,–to which, however, the Italians generously submitted.

In 1866, while Austria was embroiled with Prussia, Victor Emmanuel, having formed an alliance with the Northern Powers, invaded Venetia; and in the settlement between the two German Powers the Venetian province fell to the King of Italy.

In 1867 Garibaldi made another attempt on Rome, but was arrested near Lake Thrasimene and sent back to Caprera. Again he left his island, landed on the Tuscan coast, and advanced to Rome with his body of volunteers, and was again defeated and sent back to Caprera. The government dealt mildly with this prince of filibusters, in view of his past services and his unquestioned patriotism. His errors were those of the head and not of the heart. He was too impulsive, too impatient, and too rash in his schemes for Italian liberty.

It was not until Louis Napoleon was defeated at Sedan that the French troops were withdrawn from Rome, and the way was finally opened for the occupation of the city by the troops of Victor Emmanuel in 1870. A Roman plebiscite had voted for the union of all Italy under the constitutional rule of the House of Savoy. From 1859 to 1865 the capital of the kingdom had been Turin, the principal city of Piedmont; with the enlargement of the realm the latter year saw the court removed to Florence, in Tuscany; but now that all the States were united under one rule, Rome once again, after long centuries had passed, became the capital of Italy, and the temporal power of the Pope passed away forever.

On the fall of Napoleon III. in 1870 Italian nationality was consummated, and Victor Emmanuel reigned as a constitutional monarch over united Italy. To his prudence, honesty, and good sense, the liberation of Italy was in no small degree indebted. He was the main figure in the drama of Italian independence, if we except Cavour, whose transcendent abilities were devoted to the same cause for which Mazzini and Garibaldi less discreetly labored. It is remarkable that such great political changes were made with so little bloodshed. Italian unity was effected by constitutional measures, by the voice of the people, and by fortunate circumstances more than by the sword. The revolutions which seated the King of Piedmont on the throne of United Italy were comparatively bloodless. Battles indeed were fought during the whole career of Victor Emmanuel, and in every part of Italy; but those of much importance were against the Austrians,–against foreign domination. The civil wars were slight and unimportant compared with those which ended in the expulsion of Austrian soldiers from the soil of Italy. The civil wars were mainly popular insurrections, being marked by neither cruelty nor fanaticism; indeed, they were the uprising of the people against oppression and misrule. The iron heel which had for so many years crushed the aspirations of the citizens of Venice, of Milan, and Rome, was finally removed only by the successive defeats of Austrian armies by Prussia and France.

Although the political unity and independence of Italy have been effected, it is not yet a country to be envied. The weight of taxation to support the government is an almost intolerable burden. No country in the world is so heavily taxed in proportion to its resources and population. Great ignorance is still the misfortune of Italy, especially in the central and southern provinces. Education is at a low ebb, and only a small part of the population can even read and write, except in Piedmont. The spiritual despotism of the Pope still enslaves the bulk of the people, who are either Roman Catholics with mediaeval superstitions, or infidels with hostility to all religion based on the Holy Scriptures. Nothing there as yet flourishes like the civilization of France, Germany, and England.

And yet it is to be hoped that a better day has dawned on a country endeared to Christendom for its glorious past and its classic associations. It is a great thing that a liberal and enlightened government now unites all sections of the country, and that a constitutional monarch, with noble impulses, reigns in the “Eternal City,” rather than a bigoted ecclesiastical pontiff averse to all changes and improvements, having nothing in common with European sovereigns but patronage of art, which may be Pagan in spirit rather than Christian. The great drawback to Italian civilization at present is the foolish race of the nation with great military monarchies in armies and navies, which occupies the energies of the country, rather than a development of national resources in commerce, agriculture, and the useful arts.


Alison’s History of Europe; Lives of Cavour, Mazzini, Garibaldi; Fyffe’s Modern Europe; Mackenzie’s History of the Nineteenth Century; Biography of Marshal Radetsky; Annual Register; Biography of Charles Albert; Ellesmere, as quoted by Alison; Memoirs of Prince Metternich; Carlo Botta’s History of Italy.

Czar Nicholas : The Crimean War

Beacon Lights of History, Volume X : European Leaders