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Cavour by Countess Evelyn Martinengo-Cesaresco

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when his voice would be that of Piedmont, if not of Italy. He attached
importance to personal relations, which helped him to keep in touch
with European politics and politicians, and he was anxious to find
out how the _Connubio_ was regarded by foreigners, among whom, till
lately, Rattazzi had been looked upon as a revolutionary firebrand.
But thinking men abroad understood the reasons which had dictated the
coalition. In London Cavour met with a friendly reception from Lord
Malmesbury, who was then Foreign Minister, and who assured him that
the English Government would be glad to see him back in office. With
characteristic presence of mind he framed his answer to provoke a more
definite pronouncement. He could not, he said, return to office
alone or abandon the party he had been at so much pains to create.
"Naturally," answered Lord Malmesbury, "you cannot return to power
without your friends." Reassured as to the sentiments of one great
political party, Cavour approached the other in the person of Lord
Palmerston, than whom he never had a firmer political friend or
more sincere admirer. Lord Palmerston saw the larger meaning of the
experiment of freedom in Piedmont, and he was one of the first to see
it. If that experiment succeeded, the Italian tyrannies were doomed;
how, he did not discern, but the fact was apparent to him. He heard,
therefore, with much interest what Cavour had to tell him of the
gradual taking root of constitutional government in the Sardinian
kingdom, and he promised him the moral support, not of one party or
another, but of England, "in pledge of which," he added, "we have sent
you our best diplomatist." This allusion was to Mr. (afterwards Sir
James) Hudson, whom Lord Palmerston had called back from the Brazils
in the spring of the year, because by a singular intuition he guessed
him to be the very man to help the Italian cause. It was intended to
send him to Florence, but when he reached the Foreign Office, which
Lord Palmerston had just vacated, he received instructions to go to
Turin, a fortunate change of plan. No two men were ever better fitted
to work together than Cavour and Sir James Hudson. Without ceasing to
be particularly English and strictly loyal to the interests of his own
country, the British Minister at Turin served Italy as few of her sons
have been able to do. Beneath a rather cold exterior he concealed the
warmest of hearts, and he had the power of attaching people to him, so
that they never forgot him. It is greatly to be regretted that he left
no record of the stirring years of his mission, which coincided with
the rise and ascendency of Cavour.

Enchanted with the country, and "more _Anglomane_ than ever," Cavour
left England for Paris, where he laid himself out to conciliate
political men of all shades, from Morny to Thiers, who advised him to
be patient and not to lose heart: "If, after giving you vipers
for breakfast, you have another dish served up for dinner, never
mind"--such was the diet of politicians. What Cavour once called "his
powerful intellectual organisation" made an immediate impression
on the Prince President, as he was still styled. Louis Napoleon
cultivated an impassible exterior, but at bottom his character was
emotional, and, like all emotional persons, he was susceptible to the
magnetism of a stronger brain and will. Cavour summoned Rattazzi to
Paris to present him to the future Caesar. "Whether we like it or
not," he wrote at this time, "our destinies depend on France; we must
be her partner in the great game which will be played sooner or later
in Europe." A few weeks later Napoleon declared at Bordeaux that "the
empire was peace," but like all intelligent onlookers Cavour received
the statement with incredulity. Possibly the only person who believed
in it was the speaker--for the moment; he may have thought that "bread
and games" was a formula by which he could rule France, or rather
Paris, but he was soon to find it insufficient.

Cavour sought out several of the Italian exiles who were leading a
life of privation and obscurity in Paris, one of whom was Manin, the
Dictator of Venice. With him Cavour expressed himself "very much
satisfied, though his sentiments were rather too Venetian": sentiments
which Manin sacrificed--a last act of abnegation--when he finally gave
his support to Italian unity under Victor Emmanuel, carrying with him
two-thirds of the republican party, who could brave the charge of
changed allegiance if so incorruptible a patriot led the way. Cavour
also saw Gioberti, "always the same child of genius, who would have
been a great man had he had common sense." Gioberti, however, had
made a great stride towards common sense, for instead of dreaming of
liberating popes, he was now imagining a renovating statesman, and
he had inscribed Cavour's name under his new portrait. In a book
published in Paris, Gioberti drew the Cavour of the future with a
penetration and a sureness of touch which would make a reader, who
did not know the date, suppose that the words were written ten years
later. Men of great talent, he said, rarely threw aside the chance of
becoming famous; rather did they snatch it with avidity; and what
fame more splendid could now be won than that of the minister of the
Italian prince who should re-make the country? He fixed his hopes on
Cavour, because he alone understood that in human society civilisation
is everything, all the rest, without it, nothing. "He knows that
statutes, parliaments, newspapers, all the appurtenances of free
governments, even if they are of use to individuals, are miserable
shams to the commonalty if they fail to help forward social progress."
He was willing to forgive him the generous error of treating a
province as if it were a nation, when he compared it with the
pettiness of those who treated the nation as if it were a province. He
invoked some great and solemn act of _Italianita_ on his part, which
should pledge him irrevocably to the national cause. Cavour was too
little influenced by others for it to be safe to say that this was
one of the prophecies which tend to their own fulfilment; still it is
worth noticing that he read the passage and was struck by it.

Cavour had scarcely returned to Piedmont when a ministerial crisis
occurred through the rejection by the Senate of a far from stringent
Bill for permitting civil marriage, which had passed in the Chamber of
Deputies. The situation was further complicated by the state of mind
into which the king had been driven by the remonstrances of his wife
and mother, both near their end, and by the answer which he received
from Rome in reply to a direct appeal to settle matters amicably, the
Pope having said, in effect, that he was not going to help him to
legalise concubinage in his dominions. D'Azeglio, harassed on all
sides and ill through the reopening of his wound, resigned office, and
advised the king to send for Cavour. "The other one, whom you know, is
diabolically active, and fit in body and soul, and then, he enjoys
it so much!" he wrote to a friend, with the pathetic wonder of the
artist, romancist, and _grand seigneur_, who had never been able to
make out what there was to enjoy in politics. Victor Emmanuel followed
his advice, but he allowed Cavour to see that he hoped that the new
ministry would make up the quarrel with Rome. Cavour knew that only
one path could lead to peace--surrender. Though anxious for office he
declined to take it on these terms, and he recommended the king to
call Count Balbo to his counsels; but Balbo, persuaded that a ministry
only supported by the Extreme Right could not stand even for a few
weeks, in his turn suggested the recall of D'Azeglio. Here the saving
good sense of the king interposed; little as he liked Cavour he
recognised that he was the only man possible, and he charged him,
without conditions, with the formation of a ministry. D'Azeglio had
fallen on a point on which Cavour was for and not against him; his
successor desired to show that there would be no violent change of
policy, and he therefore reconstructed the Cabinet as it was before,
except for the change of head. He reserved for himself the Presidency
of the Council and the Ministry of Finance. Rattazzi, who still
occupied the Speaker's chair, was willing to wait for the present for
a seat in the Cabinet, especially when he heard that the king, who was
at first very hostile to the _Connubio_, had quite expected him to
take office.

So the _gran ministero_, as it was called, entered upon its functions:
great by reason of its chief, who infused his own life and vigour
into what was before a weak administration. Cavour was a born man of
business; he hated disorder in everything--except, indeed, dress, in
which his carelessness was proverbial. He had not the common belief
that, muddle them how you may, there will always be a providence which
looks after the affairs of the State and prevents the collapse that
would attend a private commercial enterprise conducted on the same
system. He took in hand the financial renewal of Piedmont in the
same spirit in which, when he had only just reached maturity, he
volunteered to restore his father's dilapidated fortune. It was for
this that he chose the Ministry of Finance: Piedmont, as he saw, could
never sustain a national and Italian policy abroad without having
first set its own house in order. He started with two principles:
taxation must be increased and the resources of the country must be so
developed as to enable it to pay its way without sinking into hopeless
stagnation. It was a disappointment to some to see Cavour devoting
himself with more ardour to putting on new taxes than to producing any
of those decorative schemes for hastening the millennium which are
expected from a new and ambitious minister. But, though ambitious, he
cared for the substance, power--not for the shadow, popularity.

If there had been no other reason for the compact with the moderate
liberals, the necessity for fresh taxation would have been a sufficing
one. The Extreme Right and Left proposed to meet the existing
difficulties by cutting down expenditure, but, if sound in theory,
in practice this policy would have reduced Piedmont to complete
impotence. While a part of the Left Centre voted with the extremists,
it was only by the greatest efforts that a grant of L100,000 was
obtained for the fortifications of Casale, which had been declared
by the war minister, La Marmora, to be absolutely necessary for the
defence of the State. The radical deputy Brofferio said that States
wanted no other defence than the breasts of their citizens. From the
Chamber, as then constituted, there was little hope of obtaining
the imposition of new burdens, in part designed to meet Sardinian
liabilities, but in part also to render possible the reorganisation of
the army, which was urgently required if the future was not to witness
disasters worse than those already experienced. Prince Metternich had
said that, even if Piedmont were so troublesome as to persist in her
liberal infatuation, she would have to keep quiet, at a moderate
computation, for twenty years--just the time which it took her king to
unite Italy. The two campaigns of 1848-1849 and the war indemnity had
cost about 300,000,000 frs. The annual expenditure was doubled. Added
to this, the one source of wealth, agriculture, was almost ruined by
the oidium disease which destroyed the vines, and by harvests so bad
that the like had not been seen since the celebrated scarcity which
followed the wars of Napoleon. As Cavour saved his father's property
not by burying the last talent in a safe place but by laying it out in
bold improvements, so now he did not fear to spend largely and even
lavishly, not only on the army, but also on public works. He completed
the railway system and employed what Brofferio called "a portentous
activity" in extending the roads, canals, and all the means of
communication which could stimulate industry. It must be remembered
that Piedmont was then lamentably backward; a long obscurantist
_regime_, succeeded by war and havoc, had left her destitute of all
the accessories of modern life. This was changed as if by the wand
of the magician. In his first budget, Cavour put on new taxes to the
amount of 14,000,000 frs., one being the so-called tax on patents, or
on the exercise of trades and professions, which excited much adverse
criticism. At the same time he reduced the salt tax and initiated
several free-trade measures, to be ultimately crowned by the abolition
of the corn laws. On the whole, however, his line of policy was not
such as would recommend itself to the crowd, and in October 1853 a
furious mob attacked the Palazzo Cavour, repeating the old cry that
the minister was a monopolist who robbed the poor of their bread.
Luckily the doors were barred, but next day Cavour was threatened as
he walked along the streets. Just then the Ministry of Justice fell
vacant, and it was offered to Rattazzi, who, to his credit be it
said, did not hesitate to take office at a time when the head of the
Government was the target of unscrupulous abuse, and it was even
thought that his life was in danger. Rattazzi was afterwards
transferred to the Home Ministry, which he held till the _Connubio_
broke up, more on personal than on political grounds, in 1858.

Though Cavour's alliance with Rattazzi was not eternal, it lasted till
it had served its purpose. By help of it he imposed his will on king
and country until he was strong enough to impose it by force of his
own commanding influence. He always considered the _Connubio_ one of
the wisest acts of his political life. It is not uncommon to hear
it still denounced in Italy as the origin of the political
demoralisation, the mixing up of private and public interests, the
lack of fixed principles; which later times have witnessed. If the
fact were admitted, it would not show that Cavour could have governed
in any other way. Had the country trusted him from the first it would
have been different, but the country did not trust him. Even after the
combination of the two Centres, whenever there was a general election
it was doubtful if the Government would obtain a working majority. The
accusation of corruption was frequently made against the Ministry in
general and Rattazzi in particular, since it was he who presided over
the electoral campaigns. Of corruption in the literal sense there was
probably little, but constituencies were led to believe that it would
be to their advantage to return the ministerial candidate. On one
occasion Rattazzi tried to prove that such hints did not constitute
"interference." Cavour got up in the course of the same debate and
not only acknowledged the "interference," but said that without it
constitutional government in Piedmont would collapse. His biographers
have preferred to be silent on this subject, but he would have
despised a reserve which conceals historical facts. The apathy of
one section of the electors, the fads and jealousies of another, the
feverish longing to pull down whomsoever was in power, inherited from
a great revolutionary crisis, the indefatigable propaganda of clerical
wire-pullers, all tended to the formation of parliaments so composed
as to bring government to a standstill. The result of a protracted
interruption might be the fall of the constitution itself, or it might
be civil war. Cavour took the means open to him to prevent it, and,
whether he was right or wrong, his career cannot be judged if the
difficulties with which he had to cope are kept out of sight.

Piedmont needed some years, not of rest, but of active and consecutive
labour before it could enter the lists again as armed champion of
Italian independence. The disastrous issue of the last conflicts had
been attributed to every cause except that which was most accountable
for it: a badly led and badly organised army. The "We are betrayed"
theory was caught up alike by republicans and conservatives, who
accused each other of ruining the country rather than give the victory
to the rival faction. Whatever grain of truth there was in these
taunts, the military inefficiency of the forces which Charles Albert
led across the Ticino in March 1848 remained the main reason why
Radetsky was able to get back Lombardy and Venetia for his master.
This Cavour knew, and he was anxious not to precipitate matters till
La Marmora, to whom he privately gave _carte blanche_, could say that
his work was done. He began treating Austria with more consideration
than she had received from Massimo d'Azeglio, who was a bad hand at
dissembling. Count Buol was gratified, almost grateful. But these
relatively harmonious relations did not last long. In February 1853
there was an abortive attempt at revolution in Milan, of which not one
person in a thousand knew anything till it was suppressed. It was the
premature and ill-advised explosion of a conspiracy by which Mazzini
hoped to repeat the miracle of 1848: the ejection of a strong military
power by a blast of popular fury. But miracles are not made to order,
though Mazzini never came to believe it. As a reprisal for this
disturbance, the Austrian Government, not content with executions and
bastinadoes, decreed the sequestration of the lands of those Lombard
emigrants who had become naturalised in Piedmont. Cavour charged
Austria with a breach of international law and recalled the Sardinian
minister from Vienna. It was risking war, but he knew that even
for the weakest state there are some things worse than war. It was
reversing the policy of prudence with which he had set out, but when
prudence meant cowardice, Cavour always cast it to the winds. The
outcry in all Europe against the sequestration decree deterred the
Austrian Government from treating the Sardinian protest as a _casus
belli_. Liberal public opinion everywhere approved of Cavour's course,
and in France and England increased confidence was felt in him by
those in authority. Governments like to deal with a strong man who
knows when not to fear.

Only such a man would have conceived the idea which was now taking
concrete form in Cavour's mind. This was the plan of an armed alliance
with the Western Powers on the outbreak of the war, which as early
as November 1853 well-informed persons looked upon as henceforth
inevitable. Cavour would never have been a Chauvinist, but he was not
by nature a believer in neutrality. He was constitutionally inclined
to think that in all serious contingencies to act is safer than not
to act. The world is divided between men of this mould and their
opposites. La Marmora told him that the army, which had made
incredible progress considering the state in which it was a short time
before, could place in the field a force for which no country would
have reason to blush. If not a great general, the Piedmontese Minister
of War might fairly be called a first-class organiser. For the rest,
Cavour believed that the ultimate school of any army is war. Above
all, he believed that this was the hour for a great resolve or a _gran
rifiuto_. If the House of Savoy stood still with folded arms it might
retire into the ranks of small ruling families, which leave the
rearrangement of maps to their betters. It was secretly reported to
Cavour that Napoleon III. was beginning to drop enigmatical remarks
about Italian affairs, and it was these reports that finally decided
him to strain every nerve to make his audacious design a reality.

Russia had broken off diplomatic relations with Sardinia in 1848,
and when Victor Emmanuel communicated the death of his father to the
Powers, the only one which returned no response was the empire of the
Czar. It would be absurd to adduce this lack of courtesy as an excuse
for war; still it gave a slightly better complexion to an attack which
the Russian Government was justified in calling "extraordinarily
gratuitous." Cavour had one person of great importance on his side,
the king. In January 1854 he broached the subject with the tentative
inquiry, "Does it not seem to your Majesty that we might find some way
of taking part in the war of the Western Powers with Russia?" To which
Victor Emmanuel answered simply, "If I cannot go myself I will send
my brother." But it is not too much to say that the whole country was
against him. The old Savoyard party opposed the war tooth and nail,
and from the "Little Piedmont" point of view it was perfectly right.
The radicals, headed by Brofferio, denounced it as "economically
reckless, militarily a folly, politically a crime." Most of the
Lombard emigration thought ill of it, and the heads of the army were
lukewarm or contrary; this was not the war they wanted. The Tuscan
romancist Guerrazzi wrote, with unpardonable levity, that republicans
ought to rejoice because this was the final disillusion given to
Italians by monarchy, limited or not. One republican, however, Manin,
saw in the Italian tricolor displayed with the French and English
flags in Paris the first ray of hope that had gladdened his eyes since
he left Venice, and Poerio; when he heard of the alliance in his
dungeon, "felt his chain grow lighter." It seemed as if those who had
suffered most for Italy had a clearness of vision denied to the rest.

What, if persisted in, would have been the most serious obstacle was
the opposition of Rattazzi, but he was won over to assent, if not to
approval, by Giuseppe Lanza, a new figure on the parliamentary scene,
who had lately been elected Vice-President of the Chamber. Lanza (who
was destined to be Prime Minister when the Italians went to Rome) was
then only slightly acquainted with Cavour; from being independent, his
favourable opinion carried more weight. With Rattazzi's adhesion
the majority of the Centres was secured. It was not an enthusiastic
majority, but it quieted its forebodings by the argument which was
beginning to take hold of people's minds: that Cavour must be let do
as he chose. Hardly any one liked him, but to see him stand there,
absolutely unhesitating and sure, among the politicians of Buts and
Ifs, began to generate the belief that he was a man of fate who must
be allowed to go his way.

It is easy to be wise after the event, and it may seem strange now
that the alliance with the Western Powers found so few, so very few
cordial supporters. But Cavour himself called the risks which attended
it "enormous." The great question for Sardinia was what Austria
would do. If she did nothing, the pros and cons were perhaps evenly
balanced; if she joined Russia, the pros would be strengthened; if she
joined the allies, the situation for Sardinia would be grave indeed.
The republicans were already calling the war an alliance with Austria.
Were the description verified, it was hard to see how the utmost
genius or skill could draw aught but evil from so unnatural a union.

The first invitation to Sardinia to co-operate came separately from
England, which had vetoed a monstrous proposal on the part of Austria
to occupy Alessandria, in order, in any case, to prevent Piedmont from
attacking her during the war. Lord Clarendon instructed Sir James
Hudson to represent to Cavour that Austria's fears would be set at
rest if a portion of the Sardinian army were sent to the East. The
chief English motive was really the conviction that numbers were
urgently required if the war was to succeed, and also the desire to
lessen the large numerical superiority of the French. In the first
instance Cavour replied that although he had been all along in favour
of participating in the war, his Cabinet was too much against the idea
for him to take any immediate action. But the subject was revived. An
alliance with Piedmont was popular in England, where the Government
was in an Italian mood, having been made terribly angry by the King of
Naples' prohibition of the sale of mules for transport purposes in the
East. In December 1854 Cavour was formally invited to send a corps
which would enter the English service and receive its pay from the
British Exchequer. He would rather have sent it on these terms than
not at all, but the scheme met with such unqualified condemnation from
La Marmora and General Dadormida, the Foreign Minister, that it was
set aside as not becoming to the dignity of an independent nation.
Meanwhile something had occurred which reinforced the arguments of
those who were against sending troops at all. After hedging for a
year, Austria signed a treaty couched in vague terms, but which
appeared to debar her, at any rate, from taking sides with
Russia--Italy's most flattering prospect. Napoleon III. expected
much more from it than this; he thought that Austria was too much
compromised to avoid throwing in her cause with the allies. It must be
said of Napoleon that among the men responsible for the Crimean War
he alone aimed at an object which, from a political, let alone moral
view, could justify it. He did not think that it would be enough to
obtain a few restrictions, not worth the paper on which they were
written, and the prospect of a new lease of life to Turkish despotism.
He certainly had one paltry object of his own; he wished to gratify
his subjects by military glory. He began to suspect the hollowness of
the testimony of the plebiscite; the French people did not like him,
and never would like him. A war would please the populace and the
army; it would also make him look much more like a real Napoleon.
But when he had decided to go to war, he hoped to do something worth
doing. He thought (to use his own words) "that no peace would be
satisfactory which did not resuscitate Poland." There, and nowhere
else, were the wings of the Russian eagle to be clipped. Moreover,
the entire French nation, which cared so little for Italy, would
have applauded the deliverance of Poland. On the Polish question the
ultramontane would have embraced the socialist. France was never so
united as in the sympathy which she then felt for Poland, except in
that which she now feels for Russia. But Napoleon did not think that
he could resuscitate Poland without Austrian assistance. At the close
of 1854 he made sure of getting it.

Cavour clung to his project. Probably his penetrating mind guessed
that Austria could not fight Russia, which had saved her from
destruction in 1849. There now arose a demand for some guarantee
which should give Piedmont, if she took part in the war, at least
the certainty of a moral advantage. The king remarked to the French
Ambassador that all this wrangling about conditions was folly "If we
ally ourselves promptly and frankly, we shall gain a great deal more"
Doubtless Cavour thought the same, but to satisfy the country it was
necessary to demand, if nothing else, a promise from the Western
Powers that they would put pressure on Austria to raise the
sequestrations on the property of the Lombard exiles. But the Powers,
which were courting Austria, refused to make any such promise,
on which the Foreign Minister, General Dadormida, resigned,
notwithstanding that the Lombard emigrants generously begged the
Government not to think of them. Cavour offered the Foreign Office and
the Presidency of the Council to D'Azeglio; under whom he would have
consented to serve, but D'Azeglio declined to enter the Ministry,
whilst engaging not to oppose its policy Cavour then took the Foreign
Office himself, and at eight o'clock on the evening of the same day,
January 10, 1855, the protocol of the offensive and defensive alliance
of Sardinia with France and England was, at last, signed.

Wilting of the Crimean War in after days, Louis Kossuth observed that
never did a statesman throw down a more hazardous and daring stake
than Cavour when he insisted on clenching the alliance after he had
found out that it must be done without any conditions or guarantees.
Cicero's _Partem fortuna sibi vindicat_ applies to diplomacy as well
as to war, "but the stroke was very bold and very dangerous."



The speeches made by Cavour in defence of the alliance before the two
Houses of Parliament contain the clearest exposition of his political
faith that he had yet given. They form a striking refutation of the
theory, still held by many, especially in Italy, that he was lifted
into the sphere of high political aims by a whirlwind none of his
sowing. In these speeches he is less occupied with Piedmont, the
kingdom of which he was Prime Minister, than an English statesman who
required war supplies would be with Lancashire. "I shall be asked," he
said, "how can this treaty be of use to Italy?" The treaty would help
Italy in the only way in which, in the actual conditions of Europe,
she could be helped. The experience of the last years and of the past
centuries had shown that plots and revolutions could not make Italy;
"at least," he added, "in my opinion it has shown it." What, then,
could make her? The raising of her credit. To raise Italy's credit two
things were needed: the proof that an Italian Government could combine
order with liberty, and the proof that Italians could fight. He was
certain that the laurels won by Sardinian soldiers in the East would
do more for Italy than all that had been done by those who thought to
effect her regeneration by rhetoric.

When Cavour spoke of himself in public, it was generally in a light
tone, and half in jest. Thus in the debate on the treaty, he said that
Brofferio and his friends could not be surprised at his welcoming the
English alliance when they had once done nothing but tax him with
Anglomania, and had given him the nickname of Milord Risorgimento. He
could easily have aroused enthusiasm if, instead of this banter, he
had spoken the words of passionate earnestness in which he alluded to
his part in the transaction in a letter to Mme. de Circourt. He felt,
he said, the tremendous responsibility which weighed on him, and the
dangers which might arise from the course adopted, but duty and honour
dictated it. Since it had pleased Providence that Piedmont, alone in
Italy, should be free and independent, Piedmont was bound to make use
of its freedom and independence to plead before Europe the cause of
the unhappy peninsula. This perilous task the king and the country
were resolved to persevere in to the end. Those French liberals and
doctrinaires who were now weeping over the loss of liberty in France,
after helping to stifle it in Italy, might consider his policy absurd
and romantic; he exposed himself to their censures, sure that all
generous hearts would sympathise with the attempt to call back to life
a nation which for centuries had been shut up in a horrible tomb. If
he failed, he reckoned on his friend reserving him a place among the
"eminent vanquished" who gathered round her; in any case she would
take the vent he had given to his feelings as the avowal _that all
his life was consecrated to one sole work, the emancipation of his
country_. This was not a boast uttered to bring down the plaudits of
the Senate; it was a confession which escaped from Cavour in one of
the rare moments when, even in private, he allowed himself to say
what he felt. But it speaks to posterity with a voice which silences

After the point had been gained and the war embarked upon, the
anxieties of the minister who was solely responsible for it did not
decrease. The House of Savoy had survived Novara; one royal sacrifice
served the purpose of an ancient immolation; it propitiated fate.
But a Novara in the East would have been serious indeed. What Cavour
feared, however, was not defeat--it was inaction, of which the moral
effect would have been nearly as bad. What if the laurels he had
spoken of were never won at all? The position of the Sardinian
contingent on the first line was not secured without endless
diplomacy; Napoleon wished to keep it out of sight as a reserve corps
at Constantinople. When, with the aid of England, it was shipped for
Balaclava, there still seemed a disposition to hold it back. Cavour
wrote bitterly of the prospect of the Sardinian troops being sent by
the allies to perish of disease in the trenches while they advanced at
the pace of a yard a month. He described himself and his colleagues
as waiting with cruel impatience for tidings of the first engagement:
"Still no news from the army; it is distracting!" Meanwhile the "Reds"
and the "Blacks" were happy. Cavour did not fear the first, except,
perhaps, at Genoa; but he did fear the deeply-rooted forces of
reaction, which were only too likely to regain the ascendant if things
went wrong with the war.

At last the long-desired, almost despaired-of news arrived. On August
16 the Piedmontese fought an engagement on the Tchernaia; it was not
a great battle, but it was a success, and the men showed courage and
steadiness. It was hailed at Turin as a veritable godsend. The king,
jaded and worn out by the trials which this year had brought him,
rejoiced as sovereign and soldier at the prowess of his young troops.
The public underwent a general conversion to the war policy; every one
thought in secret he had always approved of it. The little flash of
glory called attention to the other merits of the Piedmontese soldier
besides those he displayed in the field. These merits were truly
great. The troops bore with the utmost patience the terrible scourge
of the cholera, which cost them 1200 lives. Their English allies were
never tired of admiring the good organisation and neatness of their
camp, which was laid out in huts that kept off the burning sun better
than tents, intersected with paths and gardens. The little army was
fortified by the feeling that after all it was serving no alien cause
but its own. "Never mind," said a soldier, as they were struggling in
the slough of the trenches, "of this mud Italy will be made." They all
shared the hope which the king expressed in a letter to La Marmora,
"Next year we shall have war where we had it before."

Victor Emmanuel's visit to the courts of Paris and London was not
without political significance. Cavour first intended that only
D'Azeglio should accompany him; he always put the Marquis forward
when he wished the country to appear highly respectable and
anti-revolutionary; at the last moment he decided to go himself as
well. In Paris the king was dismayed at observing that Napoleon, in
presence of Austria's inaction, was bent on making peace. Cavour had
also counted on the continuance of the war, but he found encouragement
in the fact that when he left, the Emperor told him to write
confidentially to Walewski what, in his opinion, he could do for
Piedmont and Italy. In England the king was most cordially received,
and, if he was rather embarrassed when a portion of the English
religious world hailed him as a kind of new Luther, he could not help
being struck by the real friendliness shown to him by all classes.
Cavour made a strongly favourable impression on Prince Albert, and the
Queen expressed so much sympathy with his aims that he called her
"the best friend of Piedmont in England." He carried away a curious
souvenir of his visit to Windsor. When Victor Emmanuel was made Knight
of the Garter, the Queen wished that he should know the meaning of
the oath he took; whereupon Lord Palmerston at once wrote down a
translation of the words into Italian, and handed it to the king.
When Cavour heard of this, he asked the king to give him the paper to
preserve in the Sardinian archives.

The preliminaries of the peace were signed in February 1856. It was a
great blow to Victor Emmanuel, who had felt confident that if the war
lasted long enough for Russia to be placed in real danger, Austria
would he obliged to go to her assistance. The heavy bill for war
expenditure, largely exceeding the estimate, damped people's spirits,
buoyed up for an instant by victory, and they asked once more, what
was the good of it all? Time was to answer the question; but before
showing how an issue, which even Cavour viewed with disappointment,
proved, nevertheless, fruitful of more good than the most sanguine
advocate of the war had ventured to hope for, a short account must be
given of the home politics of Piedmont in the year 1855.

"Battles long ago" never wholly lose their interest. The mere words,
"There was once a battle fought here" make the traveller stop and
think, even if he does not know by what men of what race it was
fought. But the parliamentary struggles of one generation seem passing
stale and unprofitable to the next. Yet the history of nations depends
as much on their civil as on their warlike contests. In Piedmont the
strife always turned on the same point: whether the State or the
Church should predominate. Free institutions do not settle the
question; it is most manifestly rife to-day in a free country, Canada.
In Italy itself a great clerical party is working silently but
ceaselessly, under the mask of abstention from the elections, to
recover its political power. The Sardinian Government could not
withdraw from the duel at will; the Church in Piedmont was a political
force constantly on the lookout for an opening to retake the position
it had lost. Besides the moral power derived from the support of the
peasants and of the old aristocracy, it wielded the material power of
an organised body, which was numerous and wealthy in proportion to the
numbers and wealth of the population. The annual income of the Church,
including the religious houses, was nearly L700,000 a year. There were
23,000 ecclesiastics, or 1 monk to every 670 inhabitants, 1 nun to
every 1695, 1 priest to every 214. In spite of the vast resources of
the Church, the parish priest in 2540 villages received a stipend
of less than L20 per year. Not only radicals but many moderate
politicians were of opinion that the great number of convents of the
contemplative orders formed an actual evil from the fact of
their encouraging able-bodied idleness, and the withdrawal of so
considerable a fraction of the population from the work and duties of
citizenship. In the autumn of 1854, before the Crimean War was thought
of, Rattazzi framed a bill by which the corporations that took no part
in public instruction, preaching, or nursing the sick, were abolished.
Since the last crisis on the civil marriage bill, which wrecked
D'Azeglio's ministry, Cavour, who all his life was not theoretically
opposed to coming to an understanding with Rome, had made several
advances to the Vatican, but with no effect: Rome refused any
modification of the Concordat or any reduction of the privileges
possessed by the clergy in the kingdom of Sardinia. On the failure
of these negotiations, Victor Emmanuel despatched three high
ecclesiastics on a private mission to the Pope to see if the quarrel
could be made up. This mission, which might have seriously compromised
the king, was not counselled by Cavour, who put a violent end to it
when he authorised Rattazzi to bring in the bill for the suppression
of religious houses. Victor Emmanuel was deeply mortified, and the
Pope protested against this new "horrible and incredible assault of
the subalpine Government." Just at the time that the measure was
discussed in Parliament, the king lost his mother, his wife, his
infant child, and his brother, a series of misfortunes in which the
Church saw "the finger of God." As the two queens and the Duke of
Genoa were devoted Catholics, their last hours were rendered miserable
by the impending sacrilegious act. It is not to be wondered if the
king was almost driven out of his mind.

After the lugubrious interruption of the royal funerals, the debate on
the religious corporations was resumed with new vigour. Much the
most effective speeches on either side were those delivered by the
combatants of the two extremes, Brofferio and Count Solaro de la
Margherita. Brofferio, who regarded all convents as a specific evil,
had proposed their indiscriminate abolition in 1848, directly after
the promulgation of the Statute. Cavour, he said, had then defended
them. Was he therefore, mindful of their old warfare, to vote against
this Bill in order to place difficulties in the way of the Ministry?
Far from it. If the Government were willing to abolish all the
convents, so much the better; if 490, he would vote for that; if 245,
he was ready to approve; if 100, yes; if 10, he would vote for 10; if
one convent, he agreed; if one monk, his vote would be given for the
abolition of one monk. He would not imitate those speakers who had
attempted to conjure up a canonical or theological defence of the
Bill. The Pope was probably a better theologian than he; but he denied
that the Church had any prescriptive rights at all: all her privileges
and property being held on sufferance of the State, which could
withdraw its toleration when it chose. Illustrious Italians, from
Dante downwards, denounced the love of power and money of the Church
as the bane of Italy. Had not Machiavelli said, "If Italy has fallen
a prey not only to powerful barbarians but to whatsoever attack, we
Italians are indebted for it to the Church and to nothing else"?
Respect for the intentions of the pious founder was a good thing in
its way (Brofferio had the sense to see that this was the strongest
argument of the opposite party), yet, logically pursued, it would have
obliged us to this day to preserve the temple of Delphi with a full
chapter of priests. Some one might have got up and said, "A very
interesting result"; but Neo-Hellenism did not grow in the Sardinian
Chamber of Deputies. Brofferio censured the exemption of the teaching
and preaching orders--according to him, the most mischievous of all.
He blamed the Ministry for excusing the measure on financial grounds.
Either it was just or it was unjust. If just, it needed no excuse;
if unjust, no excuse could justify it. There was, he said, no use in
trying to make the Bill appear moderate in the hopes that it would be
borne more patiently by the body against which it was aimed. The Court
of Rome knew no more or less. War to the knife or refusal to kiss the
Pope's toe: it was all one.

As the stoutest champion of the Bill was the Beranger of Piedmont,
with his rough and ready eloquence, so its most formidable critic was
the old apostle of thrones and altars, who would have taken Philip II.
as a model king, and Torquemada as an ideal statesman. His
onslaught was far stronger than the strictures of less out-and-out
reactionaries. It was easy, for instance, to accuse of weakness the
amiable sentimentality of the Marquis Gustavo Cavour, who evoked Padre
Cristoforo from Manzoni's _Promessi Sposi_ to plead for his fellow
friars; but there was no destroying the force, so far as it went, of
Count Solaro's question, Were they Catholics, or were they not? To
endorse a policy not approved by the Church was to cease, _ipso
facto_, to be a Catholic. The reasoning might not be true, but it was
clear. Charles Albert's old minister drew a beautiful picture of the
country in the good old times before the Statute. Then the people did
not lack bread. Life and property and the good name of citizens were
safeguarded. The finances were not exhausted; the taxes were not
excessive; the revenue was not diminishing; treaties were observed;
Piedmont possessed that consideration of foreign courts which a wise
government can always command, even without the prestige of force:--a
picture drawn in a fine artistic free-hand, not slavishly subservient
to fact; but as to the taxes, at least, its correctness was not to be
gainsaid. Seen from this point of view, the progress of all modern
States means retrogression, a paradox which has passed now from the
friends of the old order, few of whom have still the courage to
sustain it, to the socialists, the sum of whose contentions it exactly
formulates. Count Solaro enlarged on the dreadful evils that would
result from the Bill were it to become law, not to the religious
corporations, which a wiser generation and renewed endowments would
restore to more than their pristine prosperity, but to the country
which suffered the perpetration of a sin so enormous that words were
powerless to describe it.

After the war dances of Brofferio and Solaro de la Margherita,
Cavour made a temperate speech, in which he said that he agreed with
Brofferio in placing moral expediency above a question of finance, but
that if this were granted, the Government could not be indifferent,
in the present state of the finances, to a saving of nearly a million
francs a year (it being proposed to defray out of the confiscated
ecclesiastical property a grant to that amount which the State paid to
the poorer clergy). He defended the expropriation of a convent called
Santa Croce to meet the need of a hospital for the military cholera
patients. Passing on to larger considerations, he recognised the great
services rendered by religious orders in past times, when Europe was
emerging from barbarism, and was still a prey to the violence and
ignorance of feudal society. Had the religious communities not met
a want, they would not have taken root. Civilisation, literature,
agriculture, and above all the poor, neglected and oppressed by the
secular power, owed them an immense debt. But coming down to the
present day, Cavour argued that the original part played by monks and
friars was now filled, and of necessity more efficaciously filled, by
laymen. Their presence in superabundant numbers in the modern State
was an anachronism. It was only needful to compare the countries where
they abounded in number and in influence, as in Spain and the kingdom
of Naples, with England, Prussia, or France, to see whether it was
possible to allege that they tended to enlightenment and prosperity.

The Bill was passed in the Chamber of Deputies on March 2, 1855,
by 170 ayes against 36 noes; the majority, so much larger than the
Government could usually command, showed that it rested on undoubted
popular support. It was then sent up to the Senate, but while it was
being discussed there, an incident occurred which nearly caused a
political convulsion. The Archbishop of Novara and the Bishop of
Mondovi wrote to the king promising that if the Bill were withdrawn,
the Church in Piedmont would make up the sum of 92,841,230 frs., which
the Government expected to gain by the suppressions. The king was
delighted with the proposal, not perceiving the hopelessness of
getting it approved by the Chamber of Deputies, which had already
passed the measure, and the impossibility of settling the matter "out
of court" without parliamentary sanction. He invited Cavour to accede,
and on his refusal, he accepted the resignation of the Ministry.
Personally the king had always a certain sense of relief in parting
with Cavour. He thought now that he could get on without him, but he
was to be undeceived. While he was endeavouring to find some one to
undertake the formation of a new cabinet, the country became agitated
as it had not been since the stormy year of revolution. Angry crowds
gathered in Piazza Castello, within a few yards of the royal palace.
"One of these days," Victor Emmanuel said impatiently to his trusted
valet, Cinzano, "I'll make an end of these demonstrations," to which
the descendant of Gil Blas is reported to have replied as he looked
out of window: "And if they made an end of Us?" The whole population
woke up to the fact that surrender on this point involved surrender
along all the line. The king, however, to whom the compromise appeared
in the light of peace with the dead and with the living, with the
Superga and with the Vatican, was very unwilling to yield. At the
same time no one could be found to form a ministry. In this dangerous
crisis, Massimo d'Azeglio wrote a letter to his sovereign which is
believed to have been what convinced him. Recalling the Spanish royal
personage whom courtiers let burn to death sooner than deviate from
the motto, _ne touchez pas la Reine_, D'Azeglio protested that if he
was to risk his head, or totally to lose the king's favour, he would
think himself the vilest of mankind if he did not write the words
which he had not been permitted to speak. As an old and faithful
servant, who had never thought but of his king's welfare and the good
of the country, he conjured him with tears in his eyes, and kneeling
at his feet, to go no further on the path he was entering. A monkish
intrigue had succeeded in breaking up the work of his reign, agitating
the country, shaking the constitution and obscuring the royal name for
good faith. There was not a moment to lose; similar intrigues had led
the House of Bourbon and the House of Stuart to their destruction. Let
the king take heed while there was time! It was long before Victor
Emmanuel quite forgave his old friend, but the warning voice was not
raised in vain.

Cavour was recalled. The Bill was presented again to the Senate with
some slight modifications. One religious order was spared by Rattazzi,
rather against the will of Cavour, who described it as "absolutely
useless," because the king particularly wished to save it, the nuns
having been favourites of his mother. To Cavour, Victor Emmanuel's
resistance had seemed simply a fit of superstitious folly; he did not
sufficiently realise how distasteful the whole affair must be to a man
like the king, who said to General Durando when he was starting
for the Crimea, "You are fortunate, General, in going to fight the
Russians, while I stay here to fight monks and nuns." In its amended
form the Bill passed on May 29. Cavour had triumphed completely, but
he came out of the struggle physically and mentally exhausted; "a
struggle," he wrote to his Geneva friends, "carried on in Parliament,
in the drawing-rooms, at the court as in the street, and rendered
more painful by a crowd of distressing events." As usual he sought
refreshment in the fields of Leri, and when, after a brief rest, he
returned to Turin, the furious passions which had surged round this
domestic duel were beginning to cool as the eyes of the nation became
more and more fixed on the conflict in the East and its significance
to Italy.

We can proceed now with the story of Cavour's work in the memorable
year which opened so gloomily with a truce that appeared to leave
_felix Austria_ mistress of the situation. Without firing a shot, that
Power could consider herself the chief gainer by the war. Napoleon
III., anxious for peace, welcomed her mediation, and in England,
though peace was unpopular, and Austrian selfishness during the war
had not been admired, Lord Palmerston was handicapped by the idea
which just then occupied his mind, that Austria chiefly stood in the
way of what, as an Englishman, he most feared in European politics,
a Franco-Russian alliance. He divined the probability, almost the
inevitability, of such an alliance at a date when most persons would
have thought it an absurd fiction. Thus, in January 1856, both the
French and English Governments were in a phase of opinion which
promised nothing to Italian aspirations. The question was, Would it be
possible for one capable brain to bend them to its purposes'? In the
first instance, Cavour believed that it would not. He did not mean to
represent his country at the Congress of Paris, nor did he hope that
any good would come out of it for Italy. He wished, however, that
Sardinia should figure, if not to her advantage, at any rate with
dignity and decorum, and he turned, as he was wont to do when he
wanted a "perfect knight," to the _rivale_, Massimo d'Azeglio. Both
men had the little private joke of calling one another by this name in
their familiar letters, which shows how free they were from any real
jealousy. D'Azeglio was ready to accept what had the prospect of being
a most thankless office, but on one condition--that the Sardinian
plenipotentiary should be received on an equality with the
representatives of the great Powers. Cavour knew that this condition
had been explicitly refused; to please Austria, France and England
declared that Sardinia would only be invited to share in those
sittings of the Congress which affected her interests. Cavour did not
let D'Azeglio know of the refusal; it was a case of the "tortuous ways
of Count Cavour," of which the Prince Consort complained some years
later. Cavour was scrupulous about the principles which he considered
vital, but in dealing with men, and especially in dealing with his old
colleague, he made more mental reservations than a severe moralist
would allow. In the present instance the deception failed, for
D'Azeglio, seized at the last moments with suspicions, insisted on
seeing the diplomatic notes which had been exchanged relative to the
Congress. In reading these, he discovered the true state of affairs,
and in a violent fit of anger he refused to go. This incident was the
sole cause of the departure of Cavour himself in the place of his
indignant nominee. So are rough-hewn ends shaped.

In January, just before the armistice, Cavour had sent the memorandum
on what could be done by the Emperor for Italy, which Napoleon
authorized him to write when he was in Paris. The first draft of the
document was written by D'Azeglio, in whose literary style Cavour
felt more faith than in his own; but this was not used. It was
"magnificent," Cavour said, but "too diffuse and long." With the
Emperor it was needful to put everything in the most concrete form,
and to take a general view of all the hypotheses, except war with
Austria, which, "for the present," did not enter into his ideas.
D'Azeglio was offended at the rejection of his work. He wrote
complainingly, "I may be called a fool about everything else, Amen;
but about Italy, no!" The memorandum actually sent was short and
moderate in tone, the chief point recommended being the evacuation of
Bologna by the Austrians. It has been sometimes quoted in order to
convict Cavour, at this period, of having held poor and narrow views
of the future of Italy. But a man who is mounting a stair does not put
his foot on the highest step first. At this stage in his political
life most of Cavour's biographers pause to discuss the often-put
question, Was he already aiming at Italian unity? Perhaps the best
answer is, that really it does not matter. To be very anxious to prove
the affirmative is to misunderstand the grounds on which we may call
Cavour one of the greatest of statesmen. Those grounds are not what
he hoped to do, but what he did. He was not a Prometheus chained to
a rock, who hopes till hope creates the thing it contemplates.
Constitutionally he was easily discouraged. In the abstract he rather
exaggerated difficulties than minimised them; but in the face of any
present obstacle an invincible confidence came over him in his power
to surmount it. As he once wrote of himself--moderate in opinion,
he was favourable, rather than not, to extreme and audacious means.
However long it may have been before the union of all parts of Italy
seemed to Cavour a goal within the range of practical politics (that
he always thought it a desirable goal there is not the smallest
doubt), there was one, the Tiresias of the old order, who said boldly
to the Prime Minister of Piedmont at this very juncture: You are
steering straight to Italian unity. Solaro de la Margherita, who
once declared that "in speaking of kings all who had not sold their
consciences were seized with religious terror," saw what he would not
see, more clearly than it was seen by those who would have died to
make it true. Standing on the brink of the past, the old statesman
warned back the future. In the debate on the loan for thirty million
francs required to meet the excess in war expenditure (January 14),
Count Solaro said: "The object, Italian unity, is not hidden in the
mysteries of the Cabinet; it glimmers out, clear as the light of day,
from the concatenation of so many circumstances that I lift the veil
of no arcanum in speaking of it; and even if I did, it would be my
duty to lift it and warn all concerned of the unwisdom and impropriety
of those aspirations." Deny it who would, he continued, unity was
what was aimed at--what was laboured for with indefatigable activity.
Italian unity! How could it sound to the other Italian princes? What
was its real meaning for the Pope? The unity of Italy could only be
achieved either by submitting the whole peninsula to the Roman Pontiff
or by depriving him of the temporal power. And the speaker ended by
prophesying, his only prophecy which failed, that this shocking event
would not happen in the present century, whatever God might permit in
the next.

An unwary minister would have taken up the ball and thrown it back.
Cavour's presence of mind prompted him to leave it where it lay. He
did not say, "No, we are not working for Italian unity; no, we do
not wish to overthrow the Pope." He answered that in speaking of
the future of Italy it was impossible for a Piedmontese minister to
entirely separate his desires, his sympathies, from what he considered
his political duty: hence there was no more slippery ground than that
on which, with consummate art, the Deputy Solaro de la Margherita
had tried to draw him. But, he said, he would avail himself of the
privilege generally conceded to the ministers of a constitutional
government when questions were still pending--to defer his reply till
the case was closed (_a guerra finita_).



With the foreboding that this would be the last act of his political
life, Cavour started on the mission which he had almost no choice
but to assume, in spite of his extreme repugnance for the _role_ of
diplomatist. A few days after his arrival in Paris he was informed
that the Emperor, in concert with England, conceded the point as to
placing the representative of Sardinia on the same footing as the
others. Though it does not seem to have struck Cavour, the sudden
change of intention was evidently an involuntary tribute to himself:
how could such a man be treated as an inferior? Only the form was
won; the substance remained in doubt. Lord Clarendon hinted to the
Piedmontese plenipotentiary that he had "too much tact" to mix in
discussions which did not concern him. But Cavour was not discouraged.
With his usual quick rebound he was soon thoroughly braced up to the
work before him. As he began to see his way, he was rather spurred
on than disconcerted by the chorus of dismal predictions which the
Congress and his own part in it evoked at home. Almost every notable
man in Piedmont contributed his quota of melancholy vaticination, in
which the note, "I told you so!" was already audible. Who could plead
Italy's cause in a congress in which Austria had a voice? Was there
ever such midsummer madness? "But we knew how it would be from the

Cavour had said that he hated playing at diplomacy; but some of his
smaller, as well as larger gifts, marked him out as a successful
diplomatist. He was watchful for little advantages. All who could help
the cause were enlisted in its service. Thus he made a convert of a
fair Countess, to whose charms Napoleon III was supposed not to be
insensible. Paris was full of notabilities whom he sought to turn
into useful allies. In a letter to the Marquis Emanuel d'Azeglio (the
Sardinian Minister in London) he tells how he even "made up" to Lady
Holland's dog with such success that he got it to put its large paws
on his new coat! When the Marchioness of Ely arrived to be present on
the part of the Queen at the birth of the Prince Imperial, Cavour,
knowing her to be the Queen's intimate correspondent, lost no time in
paying his court to her; but in this instance an acquaintance begun
from political motives ripened into real friendship on both sides. A
point which is worth observing is that, as minister, no one ever made
less use of what may he called the influence of society than Cavour.
He never tried to make himself agreeable at Turin, least of all to the
king. For a long time he was considered haughty by those who did not
know him, and arbitrary by those who did. But abroad he underwent a
change which probably came about from his revealing not less but more
of his natural self. "He has that petulance," Massimo d'Azeglio said,
"which is exactly what they like in Paris." Abroad he could give this
quality freer play than in Italy, where vivacity offends in a serious
man. He charmed even those who did not share his opinions. At a dinner
given by the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris to all the members of the
Congress, he sat next to the Abbe Darboy, one day to succeed to the
see and meet a martyr's death in the Commune. The Abbe never forgot
his neighbour of that evening, and in 1870, at Rome during the
Oecumenical Council, when some one mentioned Cavour's name, he
exclaimed, throwing up his hands, "Ah, that was a man in a thousand!
He had not the slightest sentiment of hate in his heart."

In the two months which Cavour spent in Paris he perceived very
clearly that Walewski and the other French ministers would have to be
reckoned more as opponents than friends in the future development of
affairs. He found, however, two men who could be trusted to continue
his work by incessantly pushing Napoleon III. in an Italian direction;
one was Prince Napoleon, the other, Dr. Conneau, a person entirely in
the Imperial confidence. Henceforth Dr. Conneau was the secret, and
for a long time quite unsuspected, intermediary between Cavour and the
Emperor. The idea of establishing this channel of communication first
occurred to Count Arese, whose own influence at the Tuileries, though
exercised with prudent reserve, was of no slight importance. This
Milanese nobleman personified, as it were all the proud hatred of
the Lombard aristocracy for an alien yoke. The truest and most
disinterested friend of Queen Hortense, Arese remained faithfully
attached to her son in good and evil fortune. He would never turn the
friendship to account for himself. When Napoleon offered to ask as a
personal favour for the removal of the sequestration on his family
property, he answered that he preferred to take his chance with the
rest. He won the lasting regard of the Empress, though she knew that
he influenced Napoleon in a sense contrary to her own political
sympathies. The visits of this high-minded gentleman and devoted
friend were as welcome at a court crowded with self-seekers and
charlatans as they were to be later in the solitude of Chislehurst.
Arese was in Paris during the Congress, having been chosen by the
king, at Cavour's urgent request, to carry his congratulations to the
Emperor on the birth of the Prince Imperial.

At the earlier sittings of the Congress, Cavour kept in the
background; his instinct as a man of the world, and that mixture of
astuteness and simplicity which he shared with many of his countrymen
(even those of no education), guided him in filling a difficult and,
in some respects, an embarrassing position. He spoke, when he did
speak, in as brief terms as could serve to express his opinion.
But this modest attitude only threw into relief his inalienable
superiority. He cast about the shadow of future greatness. The
representative of the second-rate Power, who sat there only by favour,
was to make so much more history than any of his colleagues! Curiously
enough the only one of the plenipotentiaries who had a prior
acquaintance with Cavour was the Austrian, Count Buol, who was
formerly ambassador at Turin. In old days, before 1848, he had played
whist with him. "I know M. de Cavour," he said; "I am afraid he will
give us _de fil a retordre_." Cavour carefully avoided, however,
unnecessary friction. Loyal to both the allies, he managed to steer
between their not always consonant aims while preserving his own
independence, by taking what seemed, on the whole, the most liberal
side in debated questions. With Count Buol he maintained courteous
if formal relations, and he soon made a thorough conquest of Count
Orloff, who did not begin by being prepossessed in favour of the
minister who alone had caused the Sardinian attack on Russia, but who
ended on far better terms with him than with his Austrian colleague,
of whom he said to Cavour in a voice meant to be heard, "Count Buol
talks exactly as if Austria had taken Sebastopol!"

With regard to Cavour's real business, the fate of Italy, he was
obliged to proceed with a restraint which few men would have had the
self-control to observe. This was what had been predicted; how, in
fact, putting aside Austria, could an Italian patriot speak freely
of nationality, of alien dominion, of the rights of peoples, in an
assembly of old diplomatists, conservative by the nature of their
profession and religiously in awe of treaties by the responsibility
of their office? It was only just before the signature of peace that
Cavour cautiously launched his bolt in the shape of a note on the
situation of affairs in Italy, addressed to the English and French
plenipotentiaries. It was conceived on the same lines as the letter
to Walewski: the Austrian occupation of the Roman Legations was again
made a sort of test question, to which particular weight was attached.
One reason why Cavour dwelt so much on this point was that the
occupation could be assailed on legal grounds, leaving nationality
alone. As, moreover, it was admitted that the Papal Government would
fall in Romagna were the Austrians withdrawn, the principle of the
destruction of the temporal power of the Pope would be granted
from the moment that their departure was declared expedient. While
D'Azeglio thought that the separation of Romagna from the States of
the Church would be "positively mischievous," Cavour looked upon it in
the light of the first step to far greater changes. Many other schemes
were floating in his brain for which he worked feverishly in private,
though he did not venture to support them officially. The object
nearest his heart was the union or rather reunion of Parma and
Modena with Piedmont, to which those duchies had annexed themselves
spontaneously in 1848. In order to get rid of the Duke of Modena and
Duchess of Parma with the consent of Europe, Cavour was desperately
anxious to find them--other situations. Every throne that was or could
be made vacant was reviewed in turn; Greece, Wallachia, and Moldavia,
anywhere out of Italy would do; the Duchess, not a very youthful
widow, was to marry this or that prince to obligingly facilitate
matters:--abortive projects, which seem absurd now, but Cavour was
willing to try everything to gain anything. In weaving these plans
Cavour employed the energy of which Prince Napoleon complained that he
did not show enough in the Congress, though to have shown more would
have led to a rebuff, or, perhaps, to enforced retirement. Still there
was one point which, in the Congress, as out of it, he never treated
with moderation: this was the sequestration of Lombard estates. When
Count Buol spoke of an amnesty including _nearly_ all cases, he
replied that he would not renew diplomatic relations with Vienna
while one exception remained. In an audience with the Emperor, after
Walewski had ingeniously tried to excuse Austria for exercising her
"rights" over her ex-subjects, Cavour burst out with the declaration
that if he had 150,000 men at his disposal he would make it a _casus
belli_ with Austria that very day.

Peace was signed on March 30. A supplementary sitting was held on
April 8, when the President, Count Walewski, by express order of
the Emperor, and to the astonishment of all present, proposed for
discussion the French and Austrian occupations of the Roman States
and the conduct of the king of Naples (his own favourite monarch) as
likely to provoke grave complications and to compromise the peace of
Europe. This was a victory for Cavour, as it was the direct result
of his "note," but he was afraid that the discussion of the Roman
question would be kept within the narrowest limits in consequence of
its affecting France as well as Austria. Walewski wished so to limit
it; he was embarrassed by the analogy of the French in Rome, and by
the fear of saying something unflattering of the Pope. But Napoleon
would not have risked the discussion at all had he shared his
minister's sensitiveness. The truth was, that he was always looking
out for an excuse which would serve with the clerical party in
France for recalling his troops from Rome. He was thinking then of
withdrawing them so as to oblige Austria to withdraw her forces from
the Legations. It does not appear that Cavour guessed this. In his own
speech he glided over the presence of the French, in Rome as lightly
as he could, merely saying that his Government "desired" the complete
evacuation of the Roman States; but his reserve was not imitated by
Lord Clarendon, nor could Napoleon have expected that it would
be. When some one asked Lord Palmerston for a definition of the
difference between "occupation" and "business," he answered on the
spur of the moment--"There is a French occupation of Rome, but they
have no business there;" and this witticism correctly represented
English opinion on the subject. It was natural, therefore, that the
British plenipotentiary should make no distinction between the French
in Rome and the Austrians at Bologna: he denounced both occupations as
equally to be condemned and equally calculated to disturb the
balance of power, but at the root of the matter was the abominable
misgovernment, which made it impossible to leave the Pope to his
subjects without fear of revolution. The papal administration was the
opprobrium of Europe. As to the king of Naples, if he did not soon
mend his ways and listen to the advice of the Powers, it would become
their duty to enforce it by arguments of a kind which he could not
refuse to obey. An extraordinary sensation was created by the speech
of which this is a bald summary; it might have been spoken, Cavour
said, "by an Italian radical," and the vehemence with which it was
delivered doubled its effect. Lord Clarendon, who, at the beginning of
the Congress, was nervous as to what Cavour might do, had been worked
up to such a pitch of indignation by the private conversations of his
outwardly discreet colleague that he himself threw diplomatic reserve
to the winds. Walewski, dreadfully uncomfortable about the Pope, tried
to bring the discussion back within politer bounds; Buol was stiffly
indignant; Orloff, indifferent about the Pope, was on tenter-hooks as
to Russia's friend, the king of Naples; the Prussian plenipotentiary
said that he had no instructions; the Grand Vizier was the only person
who remained quite calm. Cavour's concluding speech was dignified and
prudent; his real comment on the proceedings was the remark which he
made to every one after the sitting was over: "You see there is only
one solution--the cannon!"

On April 11 he called on Lord Clarendon with the intention of driving
home this inference. Two things, he said, resulted from what had
passed: firstly, that Austria was resolved to make no concession;
secondly, that Italy had nothing to expect from diplomacy. This being
so, the position of Sardinia became extremely difficult: either she
must make it up with the Pope and with Austria, or she must prepare,
with prudence, for war with Austria. In the first alternative he
should retire, to make place for the retrogrades; in the second he
wished to be sure that his views were not in opposition to those of
"our best ally," England. Lord Clarendon "furiously caressed his
chin," but he seemed by no means surprised "You are perfectly right,"
he said, "only it must not be talked about." Cavour then said that war
did not alarm him, and, when once begun, they were determined that
it should be to the knife (using the English phrase); he added that,
however short a time it lasted, England would be obliged to help them.
Lord Clarendon, taking his hand from his chin, replied, "Certainly,
with all our hearts."

When, after Cavour's death, the text of this conversation was printed,
Lord Clarendon denied in the House of Lords having ever encouraged
Piedmont to go to war with Austria. Nevertheless, it is impossible
that Cavour, who wrote his account of the interview directly after it
occurred, could have been mistaken about the words which may well have
escaped from the memory of the speaker in an interval of six years.
With regard to the sense, the sequel proved that Lord Clarendon did
not attach the official value to what he said which, for a moment,
Cavour hoped to find in it. Lord Clarendon's speech before the
Congress gives evidence of a state of mind wrought to the utmost
excitement by the tale of Italy's sufferings, and it is not surprising
if, speaking as a private individual, he used still stronger
expressions of sympathy. Nor is it surprising that Cavour attributed
more weight to these expressions than they merited. Up till now, he
had never counted on more than moral support from England; he admitted
to himself that the English alliance, which he would have infinitely
preferred to any other, was a dream. But the thought now flashed on
him that it might become a reality. He decided to pay a short visit
to England, which was useful, because it dispelled illusions, always
dangerous in politics. In the damp air of the Thames, Lord Clarendon
seemed no longer the same enthusiast, and Lord Palmerston pleaded the
excuse of a domestic affliction for seeing very little of Cavour. The
Queen was kind as ever, but the momentary hope conceived in Paris
vanished. One after-consequence of this visit was Lord Lyndhurst's
motion, which nearly caused an estrangement between the British and
Sardinian Governments. Cavour had taken too literally the assurance
that on the subject of Italy there was no division of parties. The
warmly Italian speech of the veteran conservative statesman which had
been inspired by him was not meant to embarrass the ministry, but
that was its effect, and it was natural that they should feel some
resentment. Fortunately the cloud soon passed away, and if Cavour
imagined to gain anything from flirtations with the Tory party he
was undeceived by the violently pro-Austrian speech delivered by Mr.
Disraeli in July. The sincere goodwill of individuals such as Lord
Lyndhurst and Lord Stanhope (who invented the phrase "Italy for
the Italians," so often repeated later) did not represent the then
prevailing sentiment of the party as a whole.

Cavour returned to Turin without bringing, as Massimo d'Azeglio
expressed it, "even the smallest duchy in his pocket"; yet satisfied
with his work, for he rightly judged that, though there was no
material gain, the moral victory was complete. The recalcitration of
Austria, which had reached the point of threatening war if Parma were
joined to Piedmont, contained the germs of her dissolution as an
Italian power. The temporal power of the Pope had been called in
question for the first time, not in the lodge of a secret society, but
in the council chamber of Europe. Beaten on the lower plane, Cavour
had won on the higher; checked as a Piedmontese, he was triumphant
as an Italian. In spite of the approval voted by both Houses of
Parliament, some shade of disappointment existed in Piedmont, but
throughout Italy there was exultation. The Tuscan patriots sent the
statesman a bust of himself, with the happily chosen inscription:
"Colui che la difese a viso aperto."[1]

[Footnote 1: "He who defended her with open face" (Dante).]

The position of Piedmont after the Congress of Paris was one to which
it would be difficult to find a parallel. States are commonly at peace
or at war; if at peace, even where there are smouldering enmities, an
appearance is kept up of mutual toleration. But in Piedmont the king,
government, and people were already morally at war with Austria. When
Cavour said in the Chamber that the two months during which he sat
side by side with the Austrian plenipotentiaries had left in his
mind no personal animus against them, as he was glad to admit their
generally courteous conduct, but the most intimate conviction that
any understanding between the two countries was unattainable, he
was certainly aware of the grave significance of his words. Great
solutions were not the work of the pen, and diplomacy was powerless
to change the fate of peoples: these were the conclusions which he
brought away from Congress. Every one knew that they meant war. Except
for the order for marching, the truce imposed by Novara was broken.
Those who had been edified by Cavour's cautious language in Paris
stood aghast. It was well enough that Piedmont should protest in a
calm, academic way, but protest was now abandoned for defiance. The
change was the more unwelcome, because both in France and England the
pendulum of the clock was swinging towards Austria. Napoleon disliked
to commit himself to any policy, and after seeming to adopt one side
he invariably swayed to the other. There was not the same intentional
inconsistency in England, but the fact that Austria was undergoing
a detachment from Russia improved her relations with England. Lord
Palmerston suspected Cavour of being too friendly with Russia. In
addition to this, there was a real fear in England lest Piedmont
should pay dearly for what was considered its rashness. The British
Government put the question to Cavour, whether it would not be
better to disarm the opposition of Austria by depriving her of every
plausible reason for combating the policy of Piedmont? He replied
that only Count Solaro de la Margherita and his friends could live on
amicable terms with the oppressors of Italy; England was at liberty to
renew her old alliance with Austria if she chose, but upon that
ground he could not follow her; Lord Palmerston might end where Lord
Castlereagh began, but they would remain faithful to their principles
whatever happened.

Two causes tended to prolong a coldness that was new in the
intercourse between England and Piedmont. One was the frontier
question of Bolgrad, in which, however, Cavour finally acted as
mediator, his suggestion being accepted both by the English and
the Russian Governments. The other was the _Cagliari_ affair: the
_Cagliari_, a Sardinian merchant ship, which carried the ill-fated
expedition of Pisacane to Sapri, was captured by the Neapolitan
Government, and the crew, two of whom were English, were taken in
chains to Salerno. At first the English Foreign Office seemed inclined
to back up an energetic demand for restitution, but afterwards it
deprecated strong measures, and left Sardinia somewhat in the lurch.
Circumstances combined, therefore, to render Cavour isolated, but he
understood that this was a reason to advance, not to retreat. Had
Sardinia seemed to bend to the peaceable advice of her friends abroad,
her ascendency in Italy would have been gone for ever. Cavour drilled
the army, and drew nearer to those great popular forces that were
destined to make Italy, which could be freed, but never regenerated,
by the sword. Piedmontese statesmen had always looked askance at these
forces; Cavour was becoming fully alive to the vast motive power they
would place in the hands of the man who could command them, and whom
they could not command. He was free from the caste prejudices which
caused many even good patriots of that date to hold the masses in
horror. If he had prejudices they were against the men of his own
order. Once, in summing up the results of an unsatisfactory general
election, he wrote: "A dozen marquises, two dozen counts, without
reckoning barons and cavalieri--it was enough to drive one mad!" When
he had to do with men born of the people, he instinctively treated
them on a perfect equality, not a common trait, if the truth were
told. In August 1856 an event took place which had far-reaching
consequences: the first interview between Cavour and Garibaldi. Cavour
was one of Garibaldi's earliest admirers; he applauded his exploits
at Montevideo and at Rome, when the old Piedmontese party tried to
belittle him and obliged Charles Albert to decline his services. In
one way the hero was a man after the minister's own heart: he was
absolutely practical; he might be obstinate or rash, but he was no
doctrinaire. Cavour never changed his opinion of people, and even
after the General became his enemy he still admired and esteemed
him. In 1856 he received him with flattering courtesy, the first
recognition he had met with from any person in authority in his own
state, from which, after 1849, he had been, not exactly banished, but
invited to depart. During the same autumn Cavour began to see much of
Giuseppe La Farina, a Sicilian exile, who was intimately connected
with the new party, which, despairing alike of the existing
governments and of the republic, took for its watchword, "Italy under
Victor Emmanuel." In the first instance, La Farina was commissioned to
ask Cavour to explain his views. His answer was perfectly frank. He
had faith, he said, in the ultimate union of Italy in one state, with
Rome for its capital; but he was not sufficiently acquainted with the
other provinces to know whether the country was ripe for so great a
transformation. He was minister of the king of Sardinia, and he could
not and ought not to do anything which would compromise the dynasty.
If the Italians were really ready for unity, he had the hope that the
opportunity of getting it would not be very long delayed; meanwhile,
as not one of his political friends believed in its possibility, the
cause would only be injured were it known that he had direct dealings
with the men who were working for it. He was willing to receive La
Farina whenever he liked, but on the understanding that he came in the
morning before it was light, and that, if Parliament or diplomacy got
wind of their relations, he should reply that he knew nothing about
him. The interviews took place almost daily for four years, without
any one knowing of them. Some hours before dawn La Farina ascended the
narrow secret staircase which led directly to Cavour's bedroom, and he
was gone when the city awakened. In spite of the almost melodramatic
complexion of these secret meetings, it must not be supposed, as some
have supposed, that Cavour pulled the wires of all the conspiracies
in Italy. His visitor kept him informed of the progress made, the
propaganda carried on, but he rarely interfered. He still thought
that his own business was to make Piedmont an object-lesson in
constitutional monarchy, and to get the Austrians out of Italy. That
done, the country, left to itself, must decide whether it would unite
or not.

After the Congress of Paris, Cavour took the Foreign Office in
addition to the Ministry of Finance. He could not trust either of
these departments to other hands; and the country approved, for the
conviction gained ground that, whether he was mad or not, only he
could extricate it from the situation into which he had drawn it. When
one senator called him a dictator, he retorted that, if Parliament
refused him its support, he should go away, which was not the habit
of dictators. But the mere threat of resignation brought the most
recalcitrant to reason. Thus he continued to obtain large sums to
carry out the works he deemed necessary, one of the greatest of which
was the transfer of the arsenal from Genoa to Spezia--a step
which angered the Genoese on one side, and on the other the old
conservatives, who asked what had little Piedmont to do with big
fleets? "But the fact was," Count Solaro said with a sneer, "the Prime
Minister had all Italy in view, and was preparing for the future
kingdom." Cavour also forced Parliament to vote the supplies required
for undertaking the boring of Mont Cenis, which most of the deputies
expected would be a total failure. In proposing this vote he declared
that they must advance or perish. He was delighted with a phrase with
which Lord Palmerston concluded a congratulatory letter sent to
the Sardinian legation in London, and written in elegant Italian:
"Henceforth no one will talk of the works of the ancient Romans." This
little episode wiped out the last traces of misunderstanding between
the two statesmen, who became again what fate had meant them to be,
friends and fellow-workers. Cavour's budgets had the inherent defect
that they continued to show increased expenditure and a deficit,
but no minister who had lacked the power and the courage to brave
criticism by a financial policy which would have been certainly
indefensible if Piedmont alone was concerned, could have done what
he did. Meanwhile, on the whole, the economic state of the country
improved in spite of heavy taxation: the exports and imports
increased; there were signs of industrial activity; agriculture
revived. Cavour was often bitterly blamed for favouring and sparing
the landowning class, though whether he did this because he had
estates at Leri, as his detractors alleged, or because agriculture
must always be the most vital of all Italian interests, need not be
discussed now. Improved education stimulated enterprise. That there
was room for improvement may be supposed, when it is known that in
1848 the number of persons who could not read was three to one to the
number of those who could.

The most severe phase in the financial difficulties was past when,
at the beginning of 1858, Cavour consigned the exchequer to Lanza,
assuming himself the Ministry of the Interior, which was vacant
through the resignation of Rattazzi. The breach between the two men,
who were never in entire intellectual harmony, had been growing
inevitable for some months. It was final; Cavour resolved never again
to have Rattazzi for a colleague. The elections of the autumn before,
which Cavour thought that Rattazzi had mismanaged, lessened his
confidence in him; but the actual cause of their rupture was briefly
this. Cavour wished to put an end to the king's relations with the
Countess Mirafiori, whom he married by the rite of the Church during
his serious illness near Pisa in 1868--an interference in the private
affairs of the sovereign which, though inspired by regard for the
decorum of the Crown, must be admitted to have been unwise, as
(amongst other reasons) it was certain not to attain its object. In
this matter Cavour thought that Rattazzi ought to have stood by him,
instead of which he took the part of the deeply offended king, who
went so far as to say that only his position and his duty to the
country prevented him from challenging his prime minister then and



Time seems long to those who wait. The thrill of expectancy that
passed through Italy after the Congress of Paris was succeeded by the
nervous tension that seizes people whose ears are strained to catch
some sound which never comes. Especially in Lombardy there was a
feeling of great depression: no one trusted now in revolution, which
the watchfulness of the Austrians made as impossible as their careless
belief in their own invulnerability had made it possible in 1848. The
years went by, and help from without appeared farther off than ever.
Meanwhile every interest suffered, and life was rendered wellnigh
intolerable by the ceaseless antagonism between government and
governed. This was the state of things when the Archduke Maximilian
came to Milan full of genuine love for the Emperor's Italian subjects
and of determination to right their wrongs. "I much admire M. de
Cavour," he said to a Prussian diplomatist, "but when it is a question
of a policy of progress, I am not going to let him outdo me." On his
side Cavour remarked, "That Archduke is persevering, and will not be
discouraged, but I am persevering too, and will not let myself be
discouraged." Nevertheless, if there was one thing that Cavour had
always feared, it was Austrian conciliation. The gift of a milder rule
would change the aspect of the whole question before Europe, and only
those ignorant of human nature could suppose that it would entirely
fail in its effect with a population which was beginning to be
hopeless. Cavour viewed the experiment not without anxiety, but he
guessed that the good intentions of Maximilian would be frustrated by
the Viennese Government. The forecast was verified, but meanwhile the
simple fact that an Austrian archduke had set his heart on winning the
affections of the Lombards and Venetians was taken everywhere as a
sign favourable to peace.

Then happened the unforeseen event which marks with almost unfailing
regularity the turning points in history. On January 14, 1858, Felice
Orsini tried to assassinate Napoleon III and failed. His failure was
strange. The bomb thrown under the carriage which conveyed the Emperor
and Empress to the opera did not explode. An accomplice was arrested
with another in his hand, which he had not time to throw. Many of
the passers-by received fatal or serious injuries. Of the previous
attempts on Napoleon's life none was prepared with such seeming
certainty of success. If others were planned with equal deliberation,
could the result be doubted? Napoleon was probably putting this
question to himself when he appeared in his box, with an impassible
face, while the conspirators on the stage sang the chorus of the oaths
in _Guillaume Tell_. Not a cheer greeted the sovereigns, though what
had occurred in the street was immediately known. When the first
report reached Turin, Cavour exclaimed, "If only this is not the work
of Italians!" On receiving the particulars with the name of Orsini, he
remembered that this Romagnol revolutionist had written to him nine
months before, offering his services to whatever Italian Government,
"not the Papacy," would place its army at the disposal of the national
independence, and urging the Sardinian ministers to take a daring
course, in which they would have all Italy with them. Cavour did not
answer the letter, "because it was noble and energetic, and he thought
it unbecoming in him to pay Orsini compliments." If he had summoned
Orsini to Piedmont, the attempt in the Rue le Peletier would never
have taken place.

No one in Europe was more dismayed by the news than Cavour, who
expected a harvest of embarrassments for Sardinia, and, worst of all,
the permanent ill-will of Napoleon. The first expectation was speedily
realised: floods of official and unofficial invective were poured upon
the two countries, which were held responsible for nurturing the plot.
In England the counter-blast upset Lord Palmerston's Government, and
in Piedmont the dynasty itself might have been endangered had not
Victor Emmanuel's sense of personal dignity preserved him from bending
to the rod of imperial displeasure. Cavour was ready even to forestall
the cry for precautionary measures; the air was full of wild
rumours, and he thought that Victor Emmanuel's days and his own were
threatened, a baseless suspicion, for the most reckless conspirators
in those times accounted regicide madness in a free country. But he
believed it, and for this reason, as well as from his entirely sincere
abhorrence of political crime, he was quite in earnest in his resolve
to go as far as the Statute would let him to keep plotters out of
Piedmont. Napoleon, however, affected to consider the action of the
Sardinian Government weak and dilatory, an opinion which he expressed
with vehemence to General Delia Rocca, who was sent by the king to
congratulate him on his escape. He hinted that, if his complaints were
not attended to, he should seek an alliance with Austria. All the
pride of the Savoy blood rose in the veins of Victor Emmanuel: "Tell
the Emperor," he wrote to Delia Rocca, "in the terms you think best,
that this is not the way to treat a faithful ally; that I have never
tolerated violence from any one; that I follow the path of honour, for
which I have to answer to God and to my people; that we have carried
our head high for 850 years, and that no one will make me bow it; and
that, notwithstanding, I desire to be nothing but his friend." Cavour
instructed Delia Rocca to "commit the indiscretion" of reading the
letter to the Emperor word for word. At the same time he wrote to the
Sardinian Minister in Paris "that the king was ready for the last
extremity to save the honour and independence of the country, and
we with him." But extremities were not needful. Napoleon was always
impressed by the true ring of that ancient royalty which was the one
thing which he could not purchase. He wrote a conciliatory letter to
Victor Emmanuel: "It was only between good friends that questions
could be treated with frankness. Let the king do what he could, and
not be uneasy." The French Foreign Office went on scolding through the
Legation at Turin, till Cavour said, with a smile, to Prince de Latour
d'Auvergne, "But it is finished; yesterday the king had a letter from
the Emperor which ends the whole affair."

A little while after, Cavour received a private communication from
Paris containing Orsini's last letter, and inviting him to publish it
in the _Official Gazette_. It was only then that it began to dawn on
him what had been the real effect of the attempt, and of Orsini's
trial, on the mind of the Emperor. Cavour had none of the
fellow-feeling with conspirators that lurked in Napoleon's brain, and
the idea seemed to him absurd that a man should be strongly moved by
the pleading of his would-be assassin. Among the royal families of
Europe, Orsini's influence was at once understood, but it was thought
to have its source in fear. It was remarked how, when the sentence of
death was passed, the condemned man, turning to his counsel, whispered
the words of Tasso--

Risorgero, nemico ognor piu crudo,
Cenere anco sepolto e spirto ignudo.

"The Italian dagger," wrote the Prince Regent of Prussia, "has become
a fixed idea with Napoleon." Yet it was not only, and perhaps not
chiefly, the fear of being assassinated that inclined Napoleon to
listen to Orsini's dying prayer, "Free my country, and the blessings
of twenty-five million Italians will go with you!" His own part in the
revolutionary movement of 1831 has been shown to have been no boyish
freak but serious work, into which he entered with the sole enthusiasm
of his life. "I feel for the first time that I live!" he wrote when on
the march towards Rome. The Romagna was the hotbed of the Carbonari;
all his friends belonged to the Society, and it must always be held
probable that he belonged to it also. At any rate the memory of those
days lent dramatic force to the last appeal of the man who was more
willing to go to the scaffold than he was to send him there.

If this view is correct, it follows that when Napoleon talked about an
Austrian alliance to enforce his demand for restrictive measures in
Piedmont, it was a groundless threat, such as he was always in the
habit of using. A month after Orsini's execution, the project of an
alliance between France and Sardinia, and of the marriage of the
king's daughter with Prince Napoleon, reached Cavour in a mysterious
manner, and it is still unknown if it was sent with the Emperor's
knowledge, or by some one who had secretly ascertained what he was
thinking about. Cavour showed the draft to the king, but he did not
place much credence in it. Nevertheless, to keep Napoleon's attention
fixed on Italy, he caused him to be informally assured that if the
worst came to the worst, Sardinia would go to war with Austria by
herself; the situation was already so strained that almost anything
would be preferable to its prolongation. Cavour had just induced
the Chamber to sanction a new loan for forty million francs, which
suggested that, if others were apt to use empty threats, he was not.
In June Dr. Conneau, who was travelling "for his amusement," stopped
at Turin, where he saw both the king and Cavour. Under the seal of
absolute secrecy it was arranged that Napoleon and Cavour should meet
"by accident" at Plombieres. Next month the minister left Turin to
breathe the fresh air of the mountains. He was not in high spirits. To
La Marmora, the only man besides the king who knew the true motive
of his journey, he wrote, "Pray heaven that I do not commit some
stupidity; in spite of my usual self-reliance, I am not without grave
uneasiness." He succeeded in travelling so privately that he was
nearly arrested on arriving at Plombieres because he had not a
passport: a mysterious Italian coming from no one knew where--no doubt
a new Orsini! But one of the Emperor's suite recognised him, and made
things straight. He passed nearly the whole of two days closeted with
Napoleon, the decisive interview lasting from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M., after
which the Emperor took him out alone, in a carriage driven by himself.
During this drive the subject of the Princess Clotilde's marriage
was broached. Towards the end of the visit, Napoleon said to him,
"Walewski has just telegraphed to me that you are here!" The French
ministers were, as usual, kept in the dark. It flattered Napoleon's
_amour propre_ to take into secret partnership a man whose place in
history he divined. "There are only three men in Europe," he remarked
to his guest; "we two, and then a third, whom I will not name." Who
was the third? Bismarck was still occupied in sending home advice that
was not taken from the Prussian Embassy at St Petersburg. The saying
brings to mind another, attributed to the aged Prince Metternich,
"There is only one diplomatist in Europe, but unfortunately he is
against us; it is M. de Cavour."

In a long letter to the king, Cavour gave a detailed but probably not
a complete account of the interviews at Plombieres. It is said that
among his papers, which Ricasoli, his successor in the premiership,
gave to his heirs, but which they ultimately restored to the State,
there is only one sealed packet--that which relates to this visit. He
went by no means certain that the Emperor meant to do anything at all;
he came away with great hopes, but still without certainty, for his
trust in his partner was limited. He never felt sure whether Napoleon
was not indulging on a large scale in the sport of building castles in
the air, to which all semi-romantic temperaments are addicted. Still
the basis of what bore every appearance of a definite understanding
had been established. A rising in Massa and Carrara was to serve as
the pretext of war. The object of the war was the expulsion of the
Austrians from Italy, to be followed by the formation of a kingdom of
Upper Italy, which should include the valley of the Po, the Legations,
and the Marches of Ancona. Savoy was to be ceded to France. The fate
of Nice was left undecided. To all of these propositions the king had
authorised Cavour to agree. The hand of the Princess Clotilde was only
to be conceded if it was made a condition of the alliance, which was
not the case. Cavour believed, however, that everything depended on
gratifying the Emperor's wish, and he strongly urged the king to
yield a point which seemed to him of no great importance. Since most
princesses made unhappy marriages, what did it matter if Prince
Napoleon was a promising bridegroom or not? Victor Emmanuel was
persuaded by the "reason of State"; but the sacrifice of his daughter
cost him more than Cavour could ever conceive.

Napoleon told his visitor that he felt sure of the benevolent attitude
of Russia, and of the neutrality of England and Prussia, but he had
no illusions as to the difficulty of the task. The Austrians would
be hard to crush, and unless thoroughly crushed they would not relax
their hold on Italy. Peace must be imposed at Vienna. To this end
at least 200,000 Frenchmen and 100,000 Italians would be necessary.
Cavour has been criticised for acquiescing in the crippled programme
of a kingdom of Upper Italy. What was he to do? Victor Amadeus II,
in his instructions to the Marquis del Borgo, his minister at the
Congress of Utrecht, laid down the rule: "Aller au solide et au
present et parler ensuite des chimeres agreables." This was the only
rule which Victor Emmanuel's minister could observe with any profit to
his country at Plombieres. As he wrote himself, "In politics one can
only do one thing at a time, and the only thing we have to think of is
how to get the Austrians out of Italy."

The period from the meeting with the Emperor of the French to the
outbreak of the war was, in the opinion of the present writer, the
greatest period in Cavour's life. Patience, temper, forethought,
resource, resolution--every quality of a great statesman he exhibited
in turn, and above all the supreme gift of making no mistakes. He did
not trust in chance or in fate; he trusted entirely in himself. He
showed extraordinary ability in compelling the most various and
opposing elements to combine in the service of his ends. In spite of
Napoleon's promises and of the current of personal sentiment which lay
beneath them, he soon foresaw that the unwillingness of France and the
constitutional vacillation of the Emperor would render them barren of
results, unless Austria attacked--an eventuality which was considered
impossible on all sides. Mazzini, who was generally not only
clear-sighted, but also furnished with secret information, the origin
of which is even now a mystery, asserted positively that "even if
provoked Austria would not attack." The same belief prevailed in the
inner circle of diplomacy. When Mr. Odo Russell called on Cavour in
December 1858, he remarked that Austria had only to play a waiting
game to wear out the financial resources of Piedmont, while, on the
other hand, Piedmont would forfeit the sympathies of Europe if it
precipitated matters by a declaration of war. The only solution would
be if the declaration of war came from Austria; but she would never
commit so enormous a blunder. "But I shall force her to declare war
against us," Cavour tranquilly replied, and when the incredulous
Englishman inquired at what time he expected to bring about this
consummation, he answered, "About the first week in May." Mr. Odo
Russell wrote down the date in his notebook, and boundless was his
surprise when Austria actually declared war a few days in advance of
the time prescribed. This is statesmancraft!

Cavour had always said that an English alliance would be the only
one without drawbacks. Among these drawbacks he doubtless placed the
melancholy necessity of ceding Piedmontese territory; but that was not
all. There was a peril which would have appeared to him yet more fatal
than the lopping off of a limb, because it threatened the vital
organs of national life: the risk of an all-powerful French influence
extending over Italy. To ward off this danger it was of the greatest
moment that Italians should join in their own liberation--that not
only the Government and the army but patriots of every condition
should rally round the country's flag. Though Cavour has been often
said to have lacked imagination, it needed the imaginative faculty
to discern what would be the true value of the free corps which he
decided to constitute under the name of the Hunters of the Alps. With
a promise of 200,000 Frenchmen in his pocket, he was yet ready to
confront difficulties which he afterwards called "immense," in order
to place in the field a few thousand volunteers of whom the heads of
the army declared that they would only prove an embarrassment. Cavour
listened to no one. He sent for Garibaldi, then at Caprera, and having
made sure of his enthusiastic co-operation, he carried out his project
without asking the assent of Parliament and without flinching before
the most violent opposition, internal and external. Had not Cavour
felt so conscious of his strength he would have been afraid of
offending Napoleon by "arming the revolution"; but he knew that the
best way to deal with men of the Emperor's stamp is to show that you
do not fear them. Garibaldi, who never did anything by halves, placed
himself and his influence absolutely at Cavour's disposal. "You can
tell our friend that he is omnipotent," he wrote to La Farina. He
begged the Government to assume despotic power till the issue was
decided. Garibaldi did not love the man of the _coup d'etat_; but he
knew too much about war to miscalculate either the value or the need
of the French alliance. Only a small section of the republicans
still stood aloof. Cavour had Italy with him. All felt what Massimo
d'Azeglio expressed with generous expansion, "To-day it is no longer a
question of discussing your policy, but of making it succeed." Cavour
had torn open the letter with impatience, recognising the handwriting.
When he finished reading it his eyes were full of tears. No one was
more whole-hearted in his support of the minister who exacted of him
two most bitter sacrifices than the king. "The difficulty," Cavour
said, "is to hold him back, not to spur him on." The public,
imperfectly informed of what was happening or going to happen,
remained calm, for, at last, its faith in the helmsman was complete.
An amusing story is told of those times. The Countess von Stackelberg,
wife of the Russian minister at Turin, was buying something at a shop
under the Porticoes, when the shopman suddenly left her and rushed to
the door. On coming back he said with excuses, "I saw Count Cavour
passing, and wishing to know how our affairs are going on, I wanted to
see how he looked. He looks in good spirits, so everything is going

A misunderstanding arose between France and Austria on a question
connected with Servia; it was in outward allusion to this that
Napoleon said to the Austrian Ambassador at the reception of the Corps
Diplomatique on New Year's Day, 1859, "Je regrette que les relations
entre nous soient si mauvaises; dites cependant a Votre Souverain que
mes sentiments pour lui ne sont pas changes." Whether there was
a deliberate intention to convey another meaning is a matter of
conjecture; at all events the whole of Europe gave the words an
Italian sense, and Cavour, though taken by surprise, was not slow to
turn them to account. In writing the speech from the throne for the
opening of Parliament, he introduced a paragraph alluding to clouds in
the horizon, and eventualities "which they awaited in the firm resolve
to fulfil the mission assigned to them by Providence." The other
ministers would not share the responsibility of language so charged
with electricity. Cavour then did one of those simple things which
yet, by some mystery of the human brain, require a man of genius to do
them--he sent a draft of the speech to Napoleon and asked him what
he thought of it! The Emperor answered that, in fact, the disputed
paragraph appeared too strong, and he sent a proposed alteration which
made it much stronger! The new version ran: "Our policy rests on
justice, the love of freedom, our country, humanity: sentiments which
find an echo among all civilised nations. If Piedmont, small in
territory, yet counts for something in the councils of Europe, it
is because it is great by reason of the ideas it represents and the
sympathies it inspires. This position doubtless creates for us many
dangers; nevertheless, while respecting treaties, we cannot remain
insensible to the cries of grief that reach us from so many parts of
Italy." Cavour had the French words turned into good Italian by a
literary friend (for he always misdoubted his own grammar); one or two
expressions were changed; "humanity" was left out. Did it savour too
much of Mazzini? Victor Emmanuel himself much improved the closing
sentence by substituting "cry" for "cries." This was the singularly
hybrid manner in which the royal speech of January 10, 1859, arrived
at its final form. Much, at this critical juncture, depended on its
effect, and nothing is so impossible to foretell as the effect of
words spoken before a public assembly. Cavour stood beside the throne
watching the impression which each phrase created; when he saw that
success was complete, beyond every expectation, he was deeply moved.
The ministers of the Italian princedoms could hardly keep their
virtuous indignation within bounds. Sir James Hudson called the speech
"a rocket falling on the treaties of 1815"; the Russian Minister,
waxing poetic, compared it with the shining dawn of a fine spring day.
The "grido di dolore," rapturously applauded in the Chamber, rang like
a clarion through Italy. And no one suspected whence this ingenious
piece of rhetoric emanated!

The French alliance still rested on nothing more substantial than a
secret unwritten engagement which Napoleon could repudiate at will.
Cavour, who would have made an excellent lawyer, strove his utmost to
obtain some more solid bond, for which the marriage-visit of Prince
Napoleon offered a favourable opportunity. The connection with one of
the oldest royal houses in Europe so flattered the Emperor's vanity
that he authorised the bridegroom and General Niel, who accompanied
him, to sign a treaty in black and white, binding France to come to
the assistance of Piedmont, if that State were the object of an act
of aggression on the part of Austria. Possibly, like other people,
he thought that no such act of aggression would be made, and that he
remained free to escape from the contract if he chose. A military
convention was signed at the same time, one of the clauses of which
Cavour was fully determined to have cancelled; it stipulated that
volunteer corps were to be excluded. He signed the convention, but
fought out the point afterwards and gained it, in spite of Napoleon's
strenuous resistance. These transactions were intended to be kept
absolutely secret, and the French ministers do not seem to have known
of them, but somehow the European Courts, and Mazzini, got wind of a
treaty having been signed. Different rumours went about: the Prince
Consort was informed that Savoy was to go for Lombardy, and Nice for
Venetia; others said that Nice was to be the price of the Duchies
and Legations. There was a persistent impression that the island of
Sardinia was mentioned, which would not merit record but for the
general correctness of the other guesses. There is no reference,
however, to Sardinia, in the version of the treaty which has since
been published, and Cavour indignantly repudiated the idea of ceding
this Italian island to France, when the charge of having entertained
it was flung at him a year later. Some doubt may linger in the mind
as to whether there was not a scheme for giving the Pope Sardinia in
return for part or all his territory.

Once again Cavour repeated his demand for yet more money, and this
time it was received not, as heretofore, with reluctant submission,
but with acclamation. At last people saw what the minister was driving
at; only the few who would have disowned the name of Italian voted
with the minority. The fifty million francs were quickly subscribed,
chiefly in small sums, in Piedmont itself, a triumphant answer to the
Paris house of Rothschild, which had declined to render its help.
Cavour's speeches on the new loan were, in reality, addressed to
Europe, and no one was more skilful in this kind of oratory than he.
Without apparent elaboration, each phrase was studied to produce the
effect desired. The policy of Piedmont, he said, had never altered
since the king received his inheritance on the field of Novara. It was
never provocative or revolutionary, but it was national and Italian.
Austria was displayed as the peace-breaker, and, as she was pouring
troops into Italy and massing them near the Piedmontese frontier, it
was easy to exhibit her in that light. After having made Austria
look very guilty, Cavour proceeded to lay himself out to conciliate
England, whose policy was, at that moment, everything that he wished
it not to be; but he was determined not to quarrel. The Earl of
Malmesbury kept him informed of the "real state of Italy," of which he
was supposed to be profoundly ignorant. The Lombards no longer desired
to be united to Piedmont, and a war of liberation would be the signal
of the reawakening of all the old jealousies, while republicans,
dreamers, pretenders, seekers of revenge, power, riches, would tear up
Italy between them. In the House of Lords, Lord Derby declared that
the Austrian was the best of good governments, and only sought to
improve its Italian provinces. Cavour concealed the irritation which
he strongly felt. Lord Derby's speech, he said, did not sound so bad
in the original as in the translation, and, after all, England's
apparent change of front came from a great virtue, patriotism. She
suppressed her natural sympathies, because she believed that patriotic
reasons required her to back up Austria. He repeated to the Chamber
what he had often said in private, that the English alliance was the
one which he had always valued above all others. It was a remarkable
thing to say at a moment when he hoped so much more from France than
from England. But precisely because he hoped to obtain material
assistance from France, he was more than ever anxious to remain on
good terms with England. He finely resisted the temptation of saying,
"We can do without you." After having got the French into Italy, the
next thing to do would be to get them out of it, and he foresaw that
England would be useful then. Moreover, angry as he was in his heart,
he did not doubt that the "suppressed sympathies" would break out
again and prove irresistible. They were even breaking out already, for
the arrival of the Neapolitan prisoners caused one of those powerful
waves of feeling which, in England, always end by influencing the

Meanwhile, Lord Derby's ministry made Herculean efforts to ward off
war, in which, by force of traditions that govern all English parties,
they had the opposition entirely with them. They begged Austria to
evacuate the Papal Legations, and to leave off interfering with the
States of Central Italy. They even asked Cavour to help them, by
formulating his views on the best means of peaceably improving the
condition of Italy. Cavour answered that at the root of the matter lay
the hatred of a foreign yoke. The Austrians in Italy formed, not a
government, but a military occupation. They were not established but
encamped. Every house, from the humblest home to the most sumptuous
palace, was closed against them. In the theatres, public places,
streets, there was an absolute separation between them and the people
of the country. Things got constantly worse, not better. The Austrian
rulers in Italy once offered their subjects some compensation for
the loss of nationality in a policy which defended them from the
encroachments of the court of Rome, but the wise principles introduced
by Maria Theresa and Joseph II. had been cast to the winds. Unless
Austria completely reversed her policy, and became the promoter of
constitutional government throughout Italy, nothing could save her;
the problem would be solved by war or revolution.

It ought to have been apparent that, as far as Piedmont was concerned,
the control of the situation had passed out of the hands of the
Government. The youth of Lombardy was streaming into the country to
enlist either in the army or in the corps of "Hunters of the Alps,"
which was now formed. Cavour looked on this patriotic invasion with
delight; "They may throw me into the Po," he said, "but I will not
stop it." Had he wished, he could not have stopped the current of
popular excitement at the point it had reached. It was the knowledge
of this, joined to the threatened destruction of all his hopes, that
well-nigh overpowered him when--at the eleventh hour--in spite of
engagements and treaties, Napoleon seemed to have suddenly decided not
to go to war. Prince Bismarck once declared that he had never found it
possible to tell in advance whether his plans would succeed; he could
navigate among political events, but he could not direct them. Since
the meeting at Plombieres, Cavour had undertaken to direct events,
the most perilous game at which a statesman can play. For a moment he
thought that he had failed.



On the whole it can be safely assumed that Napoleon's hark back was
real, and was not a move "pour mieux sauter." He was not pleased at
the cool reception given in Italy to a pamphlet known to have been
inspired by him, in which the old scheme was revived of a federation
of Italian States under the presidency of the Pope. The Empress was
against war--it was said "for fear of a reverse." Perhaps she thought
already what she said when flying from Paris in 1870: "En France il ne
faut pas etre malheureux." But more than this fear, anxiety for the
head of the Church made her anti-Italian, and, with her, the whole
clerical party. Nor was this the limit of the opposition which the
proposed war of liberation encountered. Though France did not know of
the secret treaty, she knew enough to understand by this time where
she was being led, and with singular unanimity she protested. When
such different persons as Guizot; Lamartine, and Proudhon pronounced
against a free Italy,--when no one except the Paris workman showed
the slightest enthusiasm for the war,--it is hardly surprising if
Napoleon, seized with alarm for his dynasty, was glad of any plausible
excuse for a retreat. Such an excuse was forthcoming in the Russian
proposal of a Congress, which was warmly seconded by England. Austria
accepted the proposal subject to two conditions: the previous
disarmament of Piedmont, and its exclusion from the Congress. The
bearing of the French Ministry became almost insulting; the Emperor,
said Walewski, was not going to rush into a war to favour Sardinia's
ambition; everything would be peaceably settled by the Congress, in
which Piedmont had not the smallest right to take part. None of the
usual private hints came from the Tuileries to counteract the effect
of these words.

Cavour was plunged in blank despair. He wrote to Napoleon that they
would be driven to some desperate act, which was answered by a call to
Paris; but his interviews with the Emperor only increased his fears.
He threatened the king's abdication and his own retirement. He would
go to America and publish all his correspondence with Napoleon. He
alone was responsible for the course his country had taken, the
pledges it had given, the engagements already performed (by which he
meant the consent wrenched from the king to the Princess Clotilde's
marriage). The responsibility would be crushing if he became guilty
before God and man of the disasters which menaced his king and his

The English Government now proposed that all the Italian States should
be admitted to the Congress, and that Austria as well as Piedmont
should he invited to disarm. On April 17 Cavour sent a note agreeing
to this plan. It was a tremendous risk; but it was the only way to
prevent Piedmont from being deserted and left to its fate. If Austria
also consented, all was lost: there would be peace. Could the gods be
trusted to make her mad? Cavour's nervous organisation was strained at
a tension that nearly snapped the cord. It is believed that he was on
the brink of suicide. On April 19 he shut himself up in his room and
gave orders that no one should be admitted. On being told of this, his
faithful friend, Castelli, who was one of the few persons not afraid
of him, rushed to the Palazzo Cavour, where his worst fears were
confirmed by the old major-domo, who said, "The Count is alone in his
room; he has burnt many papers; he told us to let no one pass; but for
heaven's sake, go in and see him at whatever cost." When he went in,
Castelli saw a litter of torn-up papers; others were burning on the
hearth. He said that he knew no one was to pass and that was why he
had come. Cavour stared at him in silence. Then he went on, "Must I
believe that Count Cavour will desert the camp on the eve of battle;
that he will abandon us all?" And, unhinged by excitement and by his
great affection for the man, he burst into tears. Cavour walked round
the room looking like one distraught. Then he stopped opposite to
Castelli and embraced him, saying, "Be tranquil; we will face it all
together," Castelli went out to reassure those who had brought him
the alarming news. Neither he nor Cavour afterwards alluded to this
strange scene.

At the very moment that Cavour thought he had lost the game, he had
won it. On the same day, April 19, Count Buol,--somewhat, it is said,
against his better judgment, but yielding to the Emperor, who again
yielded to the military party,--sent off a contemptuous rejoinder to
the English proposals. Ignoring all suggestions, the Austrian Minister
said that _they would themselves call upon Piedmont to disarm_. Here,
then, was the famous _acte d'agression_. Napoleon could not escape

The fact that this happened simultaneously with Sardinia's submission
to the will of Europe was a wonderful piece of luck, which, as Massimo
d'Azeglio said, could happen only once in a century. When the Austrian
Government took the irrevocable step, it did not know yet that the
whole onus of breaking the peace would fall upon it. Nor, it must be
remembered, did it know the test of the treaty between France and
Sardinia, and in view of the French Emperor's recent conduct it may
well have become convinced that no treaty at all existed. Hence it is
probable that Austria flattered herself that she would only have to
deal with weak Sardinia.

The Chamber of Deputies was convoked on April 23 to confer plenary
powers on the king. Many deputies were so overcome that they wept.
Just as the President of the Chamber announced the vote, a scrap of
paper was handed to Cavour, on which were written the words in pencil:
"They are here; I have seen them." It was from a person whom he had
instructed to inform him instantly when the bearers of the Austrian
Ultimatum arrived. They were come; angels of light could not have been
more welcome! Cavour went hastily out, while the House broke into
deafening cries of "Long live the king!" He said to the friend who
brought the message, "I am leaving the last sitting of the last
Piedmontese Chamber." The next would represent the kingdom of Italy.

The Sardinian army to be placed on a peace-footing, the volunteers
to be dismissed, an answer of "Yes" or "No" required within three
days--these were the terms of the Ultimatum. If the answer were not
fully satisfactory His Majesty would resort to force. Cavour replied
that Piedmont had given its adhesion to the proposals made by England
with the approval of France, Prussia and Russia, and had nothing more
to say. No one who saw the statesman's radiant face would have guessed
that less than a week before he had passed through so frightful a
mental crisis. He took leave of Baron von Kellersberg with graceful
courtesy, and then, turning to those present, he said, "We have made
history; now let us go to dinner."

The French Ambassador at Vienna notified to Count Buol that his
sovereign would consider the crossing of the frontier by the Austrian
troops equivalent to a declaration of war.

Lord Malmesbury was so favourably impressed by Sardinia's docility and
so furious with the Austrian _coup de tete_ that he became in those
days quite ardently Italian, which he assured Massimo d'Azeglio was
his natural state of mind; and such it may have been, since cabinet
ministers are constantly employed in upholding, especially in foreign
affairs, what they most dislike. He hoped to stop the runaway Austrian
steed by proposing mediation in lieu of a Congress; but the result
was only to delay the outbreak of the war for a week, much to the
disadvantage of the Austrians, as it gave the French time to arrive
and the Piedmontese to flood the country by means of the canals of
irrigation, thus preventing a dash at Turin, probably the best chance
for Austria. Baron von Kellersberg and his companion, during their
brief visit, had done nothing but pity "this fine town so soon to
be given over to the horrors of war." Their solicitude proved

For the present the statesman's task was ended. He had procured for
his country a favourable opportunity for entering upon an inevitable
struggle. When Napoleon said to Cavour on landing at Genoa, "Your
plans are being realised," he was unconsciously forestalling the
verdict of posterity. The reason that he was standing there was
because Cavour had so willed it. In spite of the Emperor's fits of
Italian sympathy and the various circumstances which impelled him
towards helping Italy, he would not have taken the final resolution
had not some one saved him the trouble by taking it for him. As a
French student of history has lately said, in 1859, as in 1849,
there was a Hamlet in the case; but Paris, not Turin, was his abode.
Napoleon needed and perhaps desired to be precipitated. Look at it how
we may, it must be allowed that he was doing a very grave thing: he
was embarking on a war of no palpable necessity against the sentiment,
as the Empress wrote to Count Arese, of his own country. A stronger
man than he might have hesitated.

The natural discernment of the Italian masses enlightened them as to
the magnitude of Cavour's part in the play, even in the hour when the
interest seemed transferred to the battlefield, and when an emperor
and a king moved among them as liberators. At Milan, after the victory
of Magenta had opened its gates, the most permanent enthusiasm
gathered round the short, stout, undistinguished figure in plain
clothes and spectacles--the one decidedly prosaic appearance in the
pomp of war and the glitter of royal state. Victor Emmanuel said
good-humouredly that when driving with his great subject, he felt just
like the tenor who leads the prima donna forward to receive applause.

Success followed success, and this to the popular imagination is the
all-and-all of war. Milan was freed, though the battle of Magenta was
not unlike a drawn one; Lombardy was won, though the fight for the
heights of Solferino could hardly have resulted as it did if the
Austrians had not blundered into keeping a large part of their forces
inactive. Would the same fortune be with the allies to the end?
Cavour does not appear to have asked the question. He watched the war
with no misgivings. It was to him a supreme satisfaction that the
Sardinian army, which he had worked so hard to prepare, did Italy
credit. He took a personal pride in the romantic exploits of the
volunteers, though for political reasons he carefully concealed that
he had been the first to think of placing them in the field. He made
an indefatigable minister of war (having taken the office when La
Marmora went to the front). The work was heavy; the problem of finding
even bread enough for the allied armies was not a simple one. On one

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