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Cavour by Countess Evelyn Martinengo-Cesaresco

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occasion the French Commissariat asked for a hundred thousand rations
to make sure of receiving fifty thousand; the officer in charge was
surprised to see one hundred and twenty thousand punctually arrive
on the day named. Cavour's thoughts were not, however, only with the
troops in Lombardy. The whole country was in a ferment, and instead of
accelerating events the question now was to keep pace with them.

When Ferdinand II died, and a young king, the son of a princess of the
House of Savoy, ascended the throne, Cavour invited him to join in
the war with Austria. The invitation has been blamed as insincere and
unpatriotic, but the best Neapolitans seconded it. Poerio said he was
willing to go back to prison if King Francis would send his army
to help Piedmont. Faithful to his primary object of expelling the
Austrians, Cavour would have taken for an ally any one who had troops
to give. Moreover, an alliance between Naples and Sardinia meant the
final shelving of a scheme which had caused him anxiety, off and on,
for many years: that of a Muratist restoration. Though he had always
recognised that, were it accepted by the Neapolitans themselves, it
would be impossible for him to oppose it, he understood that to place
a Murat on the throne of Naples would be to move in the old vicious
circle by substituting one foreign influence for another. There is no
doubt that the idea was attractive to Napoleon. One of his first cares
after he became Emperor had been to find an accomplished Neapolitan
tutor for the young sons of Prince Murat. About the time of the Paris
Congress emissaries were actively working on behalf of the French
pretender in the kingdom of Naples. The propaganda was in abeyance
during the war, because Russia made it a condition of her neutrality
that the king of Naples should be let alone, but the simple fact that
Napoleon had undertaken to liberate Italy was a splendid advertisement
of the claims of his cousin. These considerations tended to make
Cavour hold out his hand to the young Bourbon king. There is much
evidence to show that the first impulse of Francis was to take it, but
the counter influences around him were too strong. When he refused, he
sealed his own doom, though the time for the crisis was not yet come.

In Central Italy the crisis came at once. This had been foreseen by
Cavour all along. At Plombieres he made no secret of his expectation
that the defeat of the Austrians would entail the immediate union of
Parma, Modena, and Romagna, with Piedmont. Napoleon did not then seem
to object. To him Cavour did not speak of Tuscany, but he expected
that there, too, the actual government would be overthrown; what
he doubted was what would happen after. Many well-informed persons
thought that the Grand Duke, who would have maintained the
constitution of 1848 but for the threats of Austria, would seize the
first opportunity of restoring it. Fortunately Leopold II. looked
beneath the surface: he saw that an Austrian prince in Italy was
henceforth an anachronism. The indignities which he suffered when his
Italian patriotism--possibly quite sincere--caused him to be disowned
by his relations were not forgotten. He had no heart for a bold
stroke, and the exhortations of the English Government to remain
neutral were hardly needed. If he wavered, it was only for a moment;
nor did he care to place his son in the false position he declined for
himself. The Grand Duke left Florence, openly, at two o'clock on April
27, 1859, carrying with him the personal good wishes of all. The
chief boulder in the path of Italian unity was gone, but for reasons
internal and external much would have to be done before Tuscany became
the corner-stone of New Italy. The Tuscans clung to their autonomy.
Though Victor Emmanuel was invited to assume the protectorate, it was
explained that this was only meant to last during the war. The French
Emperor thought that there was an opening for a new kingdom of Etruria
with Prince Napoleon at the head. All sorts of intrigues were set
afoot by all the great powers except England to re-erect Tuscany as a
dam to stem the flood of unity midway. Cavour was determined to defeat
them. It was against his rule to discuss remote events. He once said
to a novice in public life, "If you want to be a politician, for
mercy's sake do not look more than a week ahead." Every time, however,
that there arose a present chance of making another step towards
unity, Cavour was eagerly impatient to profit by it. He now strove
with all the energy he possessed to procure the immediate annexation
of Tuscany to Piedmont. The object was good, but what he did not see
was, that the slightest appearance of wishing to "rush" Tuscany would
so offend the municipal pride and intellectual exclusiveness of the
polished Tuscans, that the seeds would be laid of a powerful and,
perhaps, fatal reaction. It was at this critical juncture that Baron
Bettino Ricasoli began his year of autocracy. His programme was:
neither fusions nor annexations, but union of the Italian peoples
under the constitutional sceptre of Victor Emmanuel. It was Tuscany's
business, he said, to make the new kingdom of Italy. He looked upon
himself as providentially appointed to carry that business into
effect. He was called Minister of the Interior, and he was, in fact,
dictator. When any one tried to overawe him, his answer was that he
had existed for twelve centuries. He had not wished for foreign help,
and he was not afraid of foreign threats. He often disagreed with
Cavour, and he was the only man who never gave in to him. When
Ricasoli took office he and the republican baker, Dolfi, who was
his invaluable auxiliary, were possibly the only two thorough-going
unionists-at-all-costs in Tuscany; when he resigned it twelve months
later there was not a partisan of autonomy left in the province. This
was the work of the "Iron Baron."

In the other three states, where the first shock to the power of
Austria overturned the Government, there were no such complicated
questions as in Tuscany. Parma and Modena returned to their allegiance
of 1848, and in Romagna those who were not in favour of an Italian
kingdom were not autonomists but republicans, who were willing to
sacrifice their own ideal to unity. The revolution in the States of
the Church was foiled at Ancona, and put down with much bloodshed at
Perugia: it is curious to speculate what would have been the result
if it had spread to the gates of Rome, as without this check it would
have done. Cavour sent L.C. Farini to Modena, and Massimo d'Azeglio to
Bologna, to take over what was called the "protectorate," and special
commissioners were also appointed at Parma and Florence, but at
Florence the real ruler was Ricasoli.

On July 5 Cavour told Kossuth that European diplomacy was very anxious
to patch up a worthless peace, but still he had no fears. He did
not guess that they were on the verge of seeing realised Mazzini's
prophecy of six months before: "You will be in the camp in some corner
of Lombardy when the peace which betrays Venice will be signed
without your knowledge." In proportion as Cavour had placed faith in
Napoleon's promises, so great was his revulsion of feeling when he
learnt that on July 6 General Fleury went to the Emperor of Austria's
headquarters at Verona with proposals for a suspension of hostilities.
The passionate nature which was generally kept under such rigorous
control that few suspected its existence for once asserted itself
unrestrained. Those around Cavour were in apprehension for his life
and his reason. In spite of all that has been said to the contrary, it
is probable that Napoleon's resolution, though not unpremeditated,
was of recent date. When he entered Milan, he seems to have really
contemplated pushing the war beyond the Mincio; there is proof,
however, that he was thinking of peace the day before the battle of
Solferino, which disposes of the semi-official story that he changed
his mind under the impression left on him by the scene of carnage
after that battle. Between the beginning and the end of June, reasons
of no sentimental kind accumulated to make him pause. Events in
Central Italy had gone farther than he looked for, and his private map
of the kingdom of Upper Italy was growing smaller every day. Why
was this? He cannot have been seized with a warm interest in the
unattractive despotism of the Duke of Modena, or the chronic anarchy
kept down by Austrian bayonets at Bologna. But it was becoming
apparent that if Modena and Romagna were joined to the new Italian
kingdom, Tuscany would come too, and this Napoleon had not expected
and did not want. He was clever enough to see that with Tuscany the
unity of Italy was made. A great political genius would have said,
So be it! Never was there worse policy than that of helping to free
Italy, and then deliberately rooting out gratitude from her heart.
Whatever Napoleon thought himself, he was alarmed by the news from
France; the Empress and the clerical party were in despair at the
revolution in the Roman States, and the country was indignant at the
prospect of an Italy strong enough to have a voice of her own in the
councils of Europe.

Besides all this, there was still graver news from Germany. Six
Prussian army corps were ready to move for the Rhine frontier. The
history of Prussian policy in 1859 has not yet been fully written out,
but the gaps in the narrative are closing up. That policy was directed
by the Prince Begent, and it gives the measure of the success which
would have attended subsequent efforts if the day had not arrived when
he surrendered himself body and soul into the hands of a greater man.
So much for the present German Emperor's theory that the men in the
councils of his grandfather only executed great things because they
did their master's will. It is true that William I. aimed at the same
end as that which Count Bismarck had already in view, and which he
was destined to achieve--the ousting of Austria from Germany, as a
preliminary to sublimer doings. But while the Prince Regent would not
fight Austria, and hoped to get rid of her by political conjuring, the
future Chancellor comprehended that the problem could only be settled
by the argument _ferro et igni_. Bismarck's policy in 1859 would have
been neutrality, with a certain leaning towards Napoleon. This advice,
given by every post from St. Petersburg to Berlin, caused him to be
accused of selling his soul to the devil, on which he dryly remarked
that, if it were so, the devil was Teutonic, not Gallic.

The Prince Regent tried to prevent the Diet from going to war,
because, in a federal war, Prussia's ruler would only figure as
general of the armies of the confederation--which meant of Austria.
His plan was to let Austria get into very bad difficulties, and then
come forward singly to save her. By means of this "armed mediation" he
would be able afterwards to dictate what terms he chose to the much
indebted Austrian Emperor. It looked well on paper, but the armistice
of Villafranca spoilt everything. The Emperor Francis Joseph did not
wish to be "saved." This, and only this, can explain his readiness to
make peace when, from a military point of view, his situation was far
from desperate. No one knew this better than Napoleon. Before the
allied armies lay the mouse-trap of the Quadrilateral, so much easier
to get into than to get out of. The limelight of victory could
not hide from those who knew the facts the complete deficiency of
organisation and discipline which the war had revealed in the French
army. According to Prince Napoleon, the men considered their head
and their generals incapable, and had lost all confidence in them.
Nevertheless they fought well; no troops ever fought better than the
French when storming the heights of Solferino, but on the very day
after that battle, when the Austrians were miles away in full retreat,
an extraordinary, though little known, incident occurred. On a report
spreading from the French outposts that the enemy was upon them, there
was an universal _sauve qui peut_--officers, men, sick and sound,
gendarmes, infantry, cavalry, artillery trains--in one word, every one
made off. What would be the effect of a single defeat on such an army?

It must always appear strange that none of these things struck Cavour.
He only saw the immense, immeasurable disappointment. When he rushed
to the king's headquarters near Desenzano, it was to advise him to
refuse Lombardy and abdicate, or to continue the war by himself.
Cavour had never loved the king, or done justice to his statesmanlike
qualities; a bitter scene took place between them, which Victor
Emmanuel closed abruptly. Afterwards he met Prince Napoleon, who
replied to his reproaches, "_Mais enfin_, do you want us to sacrifice
France and our dynasty to you?"

At that juncture it was the king, not the minister, to whom the task
of pilot fell. Cut to the heart as he was, he kept his temper. He
signed the preliminaries "pour ce qui me concerne," and, as on
the morrow of Novara, he prepared to wait. The terms on which the
armistice was granted seemed like a nightmare: Venice abandoned;
Tuscany, Romagna, Modena, to be handed back to their former masters;
the Pope to be made honorary president of a confederation in which
Austria was to have a place. Cavour stood before Italy responsible for
the war, and when he said to M. Pietri in the presence of Kossuth,
"Your Emperor has dishonoured me--yes, dishonoured!" he meant the
words in their most literal sense. But the white heat of his passion
burnt out the dishonour, and Cavour, foiled and furious, was the most
popular man in the country. His grief was so genuine that even his
enemies could not call its sincerity in question. In three days he
appeared to have grown ten years older. His first thought was to go
and get killed at Bologna, if, as was expected, there was fighting
there. Then, as always happened with him, he was calmed by the idea of
action: "I will take Solaro de la Margherita by one hand and Mazzini
by the other; I will become a conspirator, a revolutionist, but this
treaty shall not be carried out." When he said this, he had resigned
office; he was simply a private citizen, but all the consciousness of
his power had returned to him. Some delay occurred in forming a new
ministry. Count Arese was first called, but his position as a personal
friend of the Emperor disqualified him for the task. Rattazzi
succeeded better, but during the interregnum of eight or nine days
Cavour was obliged to carry on the Government, and it thus devolved on
him to communicate the official order to the Special Commissioners to
abandon their posts. He accompanied the order by a private telegram
telling them to stay where they were, and work with all their might
for an Italian solution. Farini telegraphed from Modena that if the
Duke, "trusting to conventions of which he knew nothing," were to
attempt to return, he should treat him as an enemy to the king and
country. Cavour's answer ran: "The minister is dead; the friend
applauds your decision." Aurelio Saffi well said that "in these
supreme moments you would have called Cavour a follower of Mazzini."
The world often thinks that a man is changed when he is revealing what
he really is for the first time. It suited Cavour's purpose to appear
cool and calculating, but patriotism was as much a passion with him as
with any of the great men who worked for Italian emancipation.



The dissolution of Parliament by Lord Derby in June led to the return
of a Liberal majority and the resumption of power by men who were open
advocates of Italian unity. Kossuth believed to his last day that this
result was due to him, an opinion which English readers are not likely
to share. The gain for Italy was inestimable. The Whigs had supported
Lord Malmesbury in his unprofitable efforts as a peacemaker; but when
the war broke out they had no further reason to restrain their natural
sympathies. Lord Palmerston especially wished the new kingdom to
be strong enough to be independent of French influences. Had the
Conservatives remained in office there is no doubt that they would
have supported the plan to constitute Venetia a separate state under
the Archduke Maximilian, which was regarded with much favour by that
Prince's father-in-law, King Leopold, and hence by the Prince Consort.
The Liberal Ministry would have nothing to do with it. Napoleon hoped,
in the first instance, to shift the onus of stopping the war from
himself to the English Government. He wished the programme of
Villafranca to emanate from England; but, as Lord Palmerston wrote to
Lord John Russell, why should they incur the opprobrium of leaving
Italy laden with Austrian chains and of having betrayed the Italians
at the moment of their brightest hopes? In the same letter (July 6),
he pointed out that if a single Austrian ruler remained in Italy,
whatever was the form of his administration, the excuse and even the
fatal necessity of Austrian interference would remain or return. They
were asked to parcel out the peoples of Italy as if they belonged
to them! The Earl of Malmesbury once remarked that "on any question
affecting Italy Lord Palmerston had no scruples." Had the Conservative
statesman continued in office six months longer, in spite of his
wish to see Italy happy, the "scruples" of which he spoke would have
probably induced him to try and force her back under the Austrian
yoke. Whether Cavour's life-work was to succeed or fail depended
henceforth largely on England. "Now it is England's turn," he said
frequently to his relations in Switzerland, where he went to recover
his health and spirits. Soon all traces of depression disappeared.
While Europe thought that it had assisted at his political funeral, he
was engaged not in thinking how things might be remedied, but how he
was going to remedy them. It was not the king, Piedmont, Italy, that
would prevent the treaty from being carried out; it was "I." The road
was cut; he would take another. He would occupy himself with Naples.
People might call him a revolutionist or what they pleased, but they
must go on, and they would go on.

There exists proof that after Villafranca, Cavour expected Napoleon to
demand Savoy and Nice, or at least Savoy, notwithstanding that Venetia
was not freed. The Emperor considered it necessary, however, to go
through the form of renouncing the two provinces. He is reported
to have said to Victor Emmanuel before leaving for Paris, "Your
government will pay me the cost of the war, and we shall think no more
about Nice and Savoy. Now we shall see what the Italians can do by
themselves." Walewski confirmed this by stating that the simple
annexation of Lombardy was not a sufficient motive "for demanding a
sacrifice on the part of our ally in the interest of the safety of our
frontiers," and in August he formally repeated to Rattazzi that they
did not dream of annexing Savoy. Sincere or not, these disclaimers
released Victor Emmanuel from the secret bond into which Cavour had
persuaded him to enter. The contract was recognised as null. Rattazzi
was notoriously opposed to any cession of territory, and had he known
how to play his game it is at least open to argument that the House of
Savoy might have been spared losing its birthright as the Houses
of Orange and Lorraine had lost theirs. But his weak policy landed
Italian affairs in a chaos which made Napoleon once more master of the

The populations of Central Italy desired Victor Emmanuel for their
king--Was he to accept or refuse? Rattazzi tried to steer between
acceptance and refusal. A great many people thought then that
acceptance outright would have brought the armed intervention of
France or of Austria, or of both combined. The sagacious historian
ought not lightly to set aside the current conviction of
contemporaries. Those who come after are much better informed as
to data, but they fail to catch the atmospheric tendency, the
beginning-to-drift, of which witnesses are sensible. The scare was
universal. The British Government sent a formal note to France and
Austria stating that the employment of Austrian or French forces to
repress the clearly expressed will of the people of Central Italy
"would not be justifiable towards the government of the Queen." Lord
Palmerston made the remark that the French formula of "Italy given to
herself" had been transformed into "Italy sold to Austria." He grew
every day more distrustful of Napoleon, and more regretful that the
only man whom he believed able to cope with him was out of office.

"They talk a great deal in Paris of Cavour's intrigues," he wrote to
Lord Cowley. "This seems to me unjust. If they mean that he has worked
for the aggrandisement and for the emancipation of Italy from foreign
yoke and Austrian domination, this is true, and he will be called a
patriot in history. The means he has employed may be good or bad. I do
not know what they have been; but the object in view is, I am sure,
the good of Italy. The people of the Duchies have as much right to
change their sovereigns as the English people, or the French, or the
Belgian, or the Swedish. The annexation of the Duchies to Piedmont
will be an unfathomable good for Italy at the same time as for France
and for Europe. I hope Walewski will not urge the Emperor to make the
slavery of Italy the _denoument_ of a drama which had for its first
scene the declaration that Italy should be free from Alps to Adriatic.
If the Italians are left to themselves all will go well; and when
they say that if the French garrison were recalled from Rome all the
priests would be assassinated, one can cite the case of Bologna,
where the priests have not been molested and where perfect order is
maintained." However much Austria might dislike the turn which events
had taken in the Centre, it was generally admitted that she would not
or could not intervene, even single-handed, without the tacit consent
of France, which had still five divisions in Lombardy. The issue,
therefore, hung on France. There is no doubt that Napoleon told all
the Italians, or presumably Italian sympathisers who came near him,
that he "would not allow" the union of Tuscany with Piedmont. He said
to Lord Cowley, "The annexation of Tuscany is a real impossibility."
He told the Marquis Pepoli that if the annexations crossed the
Apennines, unity would be achieved; and he did not want unity: he
wanted only independence. Walewski echoed these sentiments, and in his
case it is certain that he meant what he said. But did Napoleon mean
what he said? Evidence has come to light that all this time he was
speaking in an entirely different key whenever his visitor was a
reactionist or a clerical. To these he invariably said that he was
obliged to let events take their course, though contrary to his
interests; because, having given the blood of his soldiers for Italian
independence, he could not fire a shot against it. To M. de Falloux he
said that he had always been bound to the cause of Italy, and it was
impossible for him to turn his guns against her. What becomes, then,
of his threats? Might not an Italian minister, relying on the support
of England, have ignored them and passed on his way?

Though Rattazzi's timidity prevented Victor Emmanuel from accepting
the preferred crowns, the king declared on his own account that if
these people who trusted in him were attached, he would break his
sword and go into exile rather than leave them to their fate. He
wrote to Napoleon that misfortune might turn to fortune, but that the
apostasies of princes were irreparable. The Peace of Zurich, signed on
November 10, did nothing to relax the strain. It merely referred the
settlement of Italy to the usual Napoleonic panacea--a Congress not
intended to meet. A Congress would have done nothing for Italy, but
neither would it have given Napoleon Savoy and Nice. But the proposal
had one important result: it brought Cavour back on the scene. A duel
was going on between him and Rattazzi. He was accused, perhaps truly,
of moving heaven and earth to upset the ministry, while Rattazzi's
friends were spreading abroad every form of abuse and calumny to keep
him out of office. When the Congress was announced, the popular demand
for the appointment of Cavour as Sardinian plenipotentiary was too
strong to be resisted. Rattazzi yielded, and the king, though still
remembering with bitter feelings the scene at Villafranca, sacrificed
his pride to his patriotism. Cavour did not like the idea of serving
under Rattazzi, but he agreed to accept the post in order to prevent
an antagonism which would have proved fatal to Italy. Napoleon
astutely uttered no word of protest.

The Congress hung fire, and Cavour remained at Leri occupied with his
cows and his fields, but secretly chafing at the sight of Italy in a
perilous crisis abandoned to men whom he believed incapable. From the
moment that he had been called back to the public service, his own
return to the premiership could only be a question of time, and he
wished that time to be short. The fall of the ministry was inevitable,
for it was unpopular on all sides, but no one had foreseen how it
would fall. La Marmora, who was the nominal president of the Council
(Rattazzi having taken his old post of Home Minister), somehow
discovered that a draft of Cavour's letter of acceptance of the
appointment of plenipotentiary existed in Sir James Hudson's
handwriting. Though it was true that the British Government was most
anxious that Cavour should figure in the Congress, if there was one,
the fact that Sir James Hudson had written down a copy of the letter
as it was composed was only an accident which happened through the
intimate relations between them. La Marmora saw it in a different
light, and angrily declaring that he would not put up with foreign
pressure, he sent in his resignation, which was accepted. Thus
in January 1860 Cavour became once more the helmsman of Italian
destinies. The new ministry consisted principally of himself, as he
held the home and foreign offices, as well as the presidency of the

He was resolved to put an end to the block at all costs, except the
reconsignment of populations already free to Austria or Austrians.
"Let the people of Central Italy declare themselves what they want,
and we will stand by their decisions come what may." This was the rule
which he proposed to follow, and which he would have followed even
if war had been the consequence. Personally he would have accepted a
provisional union of the Central States, such as Farini advocated;
but Ricasoli discerned in any temporary division a danger to Italian
unity, and induced or rather forced Cavour to renounce the idea. He
called Ricasoli an "obstinate mule," but he had the rare gift of
seeing that the strong man who opposed him in details was to be
preferred to a weak man who was only a puppet.

The substitution of Walewski by Thouvenel at the French Foreign
Office, and the Emperor's letter to the Pope advising him to give up
the revolted Legations of his own accord, raised many hopes, but those
who took these to be the signs of a decided change of policy were
mistaken. Napoleon would not yield about Tuscany, and it grew plainer
every day that the reason why he held out was in order to sell his
consent. M. Thouvenel has distinctly stated that at this period the
English ministry were informed of the Emperor's intention to claim
Savoy and Nice if Piedmont annexed any more territory. Even before he
resumed office, Cavour was convinced that the only way to a settlement
was to strike a direct bargain with Napoleon. He viewed the
contemplated sacrifice not with less but with more repulsion than he
had viewed it at Plombieres. The constant harassing of the last six
months, which provoked him to say that never would he be again an
accessory to bringing a French army into Italy, left an ineffaceable
impression on his mind. The cession of the two provinces seemed to him
now much less like obliging a friend than satisfying a highwayman. But
he was convinced that it was an act of necessity.

As the "might-have-beens" of history can never be determined, it will
never be possible to decide with certainty whether Cavour's conviction
was right or wrong. Half a year of temporising had prejudiced the
position of affairs; it was more difficult to defy Napoleon now
than when he broke off the war without fulfilling his promises. A
clear-sighted diplomatist, Count Vitzthum, has given it as his opinion
that if Cavour had divulged the Secret Treaty of January 1859, by
which Savoy and Nice were promised in return for the French alliance,
Napoleon would have been so deeply embarrassed that he would have
relinquished his claims at once. But such a course would have mortally
offended France as well as the Emperor. Cavour did not share the
illusion of the Italian democracy that the "great heart" of the French
nation was with them. He once said that, if France became a republic,
Italy would gain nothing by it--quite the contrary. With so many
questions still open, and, above all, the difficult problem of Rome,
he feared to turn the smothered animosity of the French people into
violent and declared antagonism.

The king offered no fresh opposition; he said sadly that, as the child
was gone, the cradle might go too. When the exchange of Savoy for a
French alliance was proposed to Charles Albert he wrathfully rejected
the idea; and if Victor Emmanuel yielded, it was not that he loved
Savoy less but Italy more. It has to be noticed, however, that, though
always loyal to their king, the Savoyards had for ten years shown an
implacable hostility to Italian aspirations. The case against the
cession of Nice was far stronger. General Fanti, the minister of war,
threatened to resign, so essential did he hold Nice to the defence of
the future kingdom of Italy. The British Government also insisted on
its military importance. Nice was a thoroughly Italian town in race
and feeling, as no one knew better than Cavour, though he was forced
to deny it. According to an account published in the _Life of the
Prince Consort_, and seemingly derived from Sir James Hudson, it would
appear that he was still hoping to save Nice, when Count Benedetti
arrived from Paris with the announcement that, if the Secret Treaty
were not signed in its entirety, the Emperor would withdraw his troops
from Lonabardy. Cavour is said to have answered, "The sooner they
go the better"--on which Benedetti took from his pocket a letter
containing the Emperor's private instructions, and proceeded to say,
"Well, I have orders to withdraw the troops, but not to France; they
will occupy Bologna and Florence."[1]

[Footnote 1: In 1896 Count Benedetti contributed two articles to the
_Revue des deux mondes_ on "Cavour and Bismarck." His only mention of
the affair of Savoy and Nice is the casuistical remark that "Cavour
kept the _engagement concluded at Plombieres_" (sic).]

On March 24, depressed and bowed, Cavour walked up and down the room
where the French negotiators sat. At last, taking up the pen, he
signed the Secret Treaty. Then suddenly he seemed to recover his
spirits, as, turning to M. de Talleyrand, he said, "Maintenant nous
sommes complices, n'est ce pas vrai?"

The secrecy was none of his seeking; he had tried hard to induce
Napoleon to let the treaty be submitted to Parliament before it was
signed, as constitutional usage demanded, but the Emperor was resolved
that the Chambers and Europe should know of it only when it was an
accomplished fact. He had good reason for the precaution. He knew that
there would be an outburst of indignation in England, though he little
imagined the after consequences of this to himself. His one idea just
then was to make sure of his bargain, not because he cared to enlarge
his frontiers, for he was not constitutionally ambitious, but because
he hoped, by doing so, to win the gratitude of France. It is useful as
a lesson to note that he won nothing of the kind. Nor did Cavour win
the goodwill of the French masses as he had hoped. France might have
been angry had she not received the two provinces, but she showed real
or affected ignorance of their value. For many years the French papers
described the county of Nice as a poor, miserable strip of shore, and
the duchy of Savoy as a few bare rocks. French people then travelled
so little that they may have thought it was true.

As Napoleon was bent on deceiving, Cavour was obliged to deceive too.
Sir Robert Peel's denial of the intention of Government to repeal the
Corn Laws has been defended on the ground that the _Cabinet_ had not
taken a definite resolution; if such a defence is of profit, Cavour is
entitled to the benefit of it. At any rate he had no choice. Whether
or not they had been previously warned, the English Ministry, and
especially the Foreign Secretary, now believed the professions of
innocence. The Earl of Malmesbury records a suspicion that as far back
as January 1859 Napoleon secured some sort of written promise from
Lord Palmerston that he would not make difficulties about Nice and
Savoy. Such an assurance amounts, of course, to saying, "Go and take
it," as in the more recent case of Tunis. The story is not impossible;
like Cavour, Lord Palmerston desired so much to see Italy freed that
he would have given up a good deal to arrive at the goal. The country
resented the deception, as it had every right to do, and the Queen
expressed the general feeling when she wrote to Lord John Russell, "We
have been made regular dupes." For a moment there seemed a risk of
war, but Lord Palmerston never had the slightest intention of going to
war, whatever were the inclinations of his colleague at the Foreign
Office. Lord John Russell took his revenge on Napoleon when the
Emperor wished to proceed to joint action with England on the Danish
question; by refusing this proposal he deprived him of the one and
only chance of stemming Prussian ambition.

Cavour did not extenuate the gravity of the responsibility which he
accepted when he advised the king to sign away national territory
without the sanction of Parliament. He said that it was a highly
unconstitutional act, which exposed him, were the Chamber of Deputies
to disown it, to an indictment for high treason. He counted on losing
all his popularity in Piedmont--how could he not expect to lose it
when his best hopes for getting the treaty approved rested on the
assumption that the new voters from the enfranchised parts of Italy
would drown the opposition of his own State to its dismemberment? It
has often been asked, Why did he not allow the cession to wear the
honest colour of surrender to force? Why, "against his conviction," as
he confessed in private, did he declare that Nice was not Italian? Why
go through the farce of plebiscites so "arranged" that the result was
a foregone conclusion? The answer, satisfactory or not, is easily
found: Nice was stated to be not Italian to leave intact the theory
of nationality for future use; the plebiscites were resorted to that
Napoleon might be obliged to recognise the same method of settling
questions elsewhere.

The parliament which represented Piedmont, Lombardy, Parma, Modena,
and Romagna, met on April 2, 1860. The frontier lines of six states
were effaced. The man who had so largely contributed to this great
result stood there to defend his honour, almost his life. Guerrazzi
compared him to the Earl of Clarendon--"hard towards the king,
truculent to Parliament, who thought in his pride that he could do
everything." Cavour retorted: perhaps if Clarendon had been able to
show in defence of his conduct many million Englishmen delivered from
foreign yoke, several counties added to his master's possessions,
Parliament would not have been so pitiless, or Charles II. so
ungrateful to the most faithful of his servants. The deputy Guerrazzi,
he continued, had read him a lesson in history; it should have been
given entire. And he then drew a picture, splendid in its scathing
irony, of the unscrupulous alliance of men without principle, of
all shades of opinion, only united in self-interest, demagogues,
courtiers, reactionists, papists, puritans, without traditions,
without ideas, at one in impudent egotism, and in nothing else, who
formed the cabal which ruined Clarendon. Every one understood that he
was painting his own enemies inside the Chamber and out.

In spite of protests and regrets, the treaty was sanctioned by a
larger majority than had been reckoned on. When it came to the point,
not a large number of voters was ready to take the tremendous leap in
the dark which, among other consequences, must have condemned Cavour,
if not to the fate of Stafford, at least to obscurity for the rest of
his life. But the ministry came out of the contest, to use Cavour's
own words, extraordinarily weakened. "On me and on my colleagues," he
had said, "he all the obloquy of the act!" He was to regain his power,
and even his popularity, but time itself cannot wholly obliterate
the spot upon his name. He knew it well himself. A writer in the
_Quarterly Review_, soon after his death, related that latterly people
avoided alluding to Savoy and Nice before him; the subject caused him
such evident pain. The same writer makes a very interesting statement
which, although there is no other authority for it, must be assumed to
rest on accurate information: he says that Cavour hoped, to the last,
some day to get the two provinces back.[1]

[Footnote 1: Mr. John Murray has courteously informed me that the
writer of the article was the late Sir A.H. Layard.]



In March 1860 Cavour did not foresee what would be the next step--he
only felt that it would not be long delayed. Italy, he told the
Chamber, was not sound or safe; Italy had still great wounds in her
body. "Look beyond the Mincio, look beyond Tuscany, and say if Italy
is out of danger!" He interpreted the transaction with Napoleon in
the sense that, whatever happened henceforward, he was to have a free
hand. Napoleon seemed to think, at the first, that the cession of Nice
and Savoy showed a yielding mood; he was mistaken; it shut the door on
yielding. Cavour found all sorts of excuses for protracting the date
of the official handing over of those provinces, and this helped
him in his dealings with the Emperor, whom he compelled to shelve a
particularly obnoxious project of introducing Neapolitan troops into
the Roman States. Napoleon was induced to promise to withdraw the
French in July without calling in others, on condition, however, that
all remained quiet. All was not going to remain quiet.

There were no illusions on this point at the Vatican, where no one
believed that the _status quo_ would last. It seemed to many of the
Pope's advisers that, instead of waiting for the blow, it were better
to strike one, and declare a holy war for thrones and altars. Cardinal
Antonelli, in concert with the dominant party at Naples (which
was that of the king's Austrian stepmother), evolved a scheme for
recovering Romagna, in which it was hoped that Austria would join,
Austrian aid being at all times far more desired than French. But the
more ardent spirits were not averse from action even without Austria.
The Orleanist general Lamoriciere was invited to Rome, and a call was
issued which brought an influx of Irish and French volunteers. The
French Emperor let Lamoriciere go, as he was glad to get him out of
the way. The Duke de Persigny told his master that the gallant general
would make trouble for him in Italy, and, as Napoleon turned a deaf
ear, he suggested that Lamoriciere should be ordered to garrison Rome
while the French regular troops were sent to protect the frontier.
This simple arrangement would have commended itself to any one who was
in earnest in wishing to preserve the integrity of what remained of
the Papal States; Napoleon seemed to assent, but he allowed the matter
to drop.

It began to be clear that the Neapolitan Government would soon have
too much on its hands at home for it to indulge in crusades. But the
crisis was not hastened by Cavour, and he was one of the last to
believe it imminent. Towards the end of March he learnt with surprise
from Sir James Hudson that the reason the British Fleet had been sent
to Naples was that a catastrophe was expected. He then asked the
Sardinian Minister at the Neapolitan Court whether a Muratist
restoration was still possible, and what chances there were at Naples
for Italian unity? The Marquis Villamarina replied that the French,
who once had many partisans, had lost most of them. As to unity he
held out few hopes; it was popular in Sicily but not on the mainland,
where the king had a strong following. If the Marquis had said
"large" for "strong" his assertion would have been accurate. The
misgovernment, which Lord John Russell had lately described as almost
without a parallel in Europe, was not of a nature to be wholly
unpopular; it was national after a fashion; bribery and espionage and
the persecution of the best citizens may leave the masses content,
and, in fact, at least in the capital, the _basso popolo_ was
royalist, as was the scarcely less ignorant nobility. The bulk of the
clergy and the army was also loyal. All this support made the Bourbon
_regime_ look not insecure to those on the spot, who failed to
understand the complete rottenness of its foundations.

When a revolutionary movement broke out in Sicily, Cavour thought of
sending secretly a Piedmontese officer, who fought in the Sicilian
insurrection of 1848, to assume the direction, but he did not do
so, perhaps because he had very little faith in the success of the
attempt. Save for the undoubted fact that Sicily was already separated
in spirit not only from the Bourbon crown but from any rule which had
its seat at Naples, the insurrection did not begin under promising
circumstances. There were no signs of a concerted rising on a large
scale, such as had overthrown the Government in 1848, and the
authorities disposed of overwhelming means, if they knew how to use
them, of crushing a few guerrilla bands. Cavour was slow to believe
the catastrophe at hand, but he thought that the time was come to send
the King of Naples a warning, which was practically an ultimatum. On
April 15 Victor Emmanuel addressed a letter to Francis II, in which
he told his cousin that there was possibly still time to save his
dynasty, but that time was short. Two things must be done--the first
was to restore the Constitution (this even Russia was advising), the
second, that the kings of Sardinia and Naples should divide Italy
between them, drive out the last Austrian, and constrain the Pope, in
whatever strip of territory was left to him, to govern on the same
liberal basis as themselves. If these things were not done, and at
once, Francis would have the fate of his relative Charles X, and the
King of Sardinia might be forced to become the chief instrument of
his ruin. It cannot be said that the warning was not sufficiently

As the insurrection dragged on, the idea gained ground in North Italy
of sending out reinforcements to the hard pressed insurgents. Landings
on the southern coast had an unfortunate history from that of Murat
downwards, but those who play at desperate hazards cannot be ruled
by past experience. Cavour seems to have lent some material aid to a
Sicilian named La Masa, who was preparing to take a handful of men
to his native island, but it is not true that he either desired or
abetted the expedition of Garibaldi. A Garibaldian venture could not
be kept quiet, it would raise complications with the Powers, and,
besides, what if it failed and cost Garibaldi his life? Some people
have supposed that Cavour sent Garibaldi to Sicily to get rid of him
at an awkward moment, for the General was planning a revolutionary
stroke at Nice to resist the annexation. Though this theory sounds
plausible, documentary evidence is all against it. Cavour had an
interview with the Garibaldian general, Sirtori, to whom he expressed
the conviction that if they went they would be all taken. Why, it may
be asked, did he not stop the whole affair by placing Garibaldi under
lock and key? It seems certain that only the king's absolute refusal
prevented this effectual measure from being resorted to. The king,
accompanied by Cavour, was paying a first visit to Tuscany; there were
rumours of stormy scenes between them on the subject of the arrest,
and Victor Emmanuel had his way. Whatever was their disagreement, it
ceased when the die was cast. It was one of Cavour's chief merits that
he instantly grasped a new situation. To let the expedition go and
then place obstacles in its way would have been an irreparable
mistake. Admiral Persano inquired whether he was to stop the steamers
carrying the Thousand to Sicily, should stress of weather drive them
into a Sardinian port? The answer by telegraph ran, "The Ministry
decides for the arrest." Persano rightly judged this to mean
that Cavour decided against it, and he telegraphed back, "I have

Garibaldi sailed from Quarto late on May 5. Not Cavour himself had
thought worse of the plan than he when it was first proposed to him,
but, with the decision to go, doubt vanished. "At last," he wrote, "I
shall be back in my element--action placed at the service of a great
idea." No one seems to have pointed out the extraordinary boldness
of choosing a fortified town of 18,000 inhabitants as the place of
landing. The leaders of similar expeditions have always selected some
quiet spot where they could land undisturbed, and the coast of Sicily
presents many such spots. If Garibaldi had done the same he would have
failed, for the success of the Thousand was a success of _prestige_.
Italian patriots at home had some uneasy days. Victor Emmanuel, as he
afterwards admitted, was in "a terrible fright"; Cavour went about
silent and gloomy. A week passed, and no news came. On May 13, at
eleven o'clock at night, a passer-by in the Via Carlo Alberto, not far
from the Palazzo Cavour, heard some one gaily whistling the air

"Di quella pira ..."

Of a sudden the individual, who was walking very quickly, vigorously
rubbed his hands. The trait revealed the man--it was Cavour; he
had just heard that Garibaldi, eluding the Neapolitan fleet, had
disembarked with all his men at Marsala. Things were entering a new
and critical phase, and it was not difficult to foretell that, while
the hero would have all the laurels, the statesman would have all the
thorns. This was a small matter to Cavour: they were again on the high
seas, he said cheerfully, but what was the good of thinking of peace
and quiet till Italy was made?

The Sardinian Government adopted the policy of assisting the
expedition now as far as they could without being compromised with the
Powers of Europe--but no farther. This _via media_ had the merit of
succeeding; it was, however, severely criticised by friends and foes
at the time. On May 24 Prince Napoleon said in the presence of Marshal
MacMahon, Prosper Merimee, N.W. Senior, and others, that Cavour had
done too much or too little; he should have kept Garibaldi back, or
given him 5000 men; he had thrown on himself and on "my father-in-law"
all the discredit of favouring the enterprise, and he would have been
no more blamed and hated if he had given it real support. On
higher grounds Massimo d'Azeglio was horrified at the lack of
straightforwardness in mining the Bourbon edifice from below instead
of declaring war. "Garibaldi has no minister at Naples, and he has
gone to risk his skin, and long life to him, but we!!" Taking this
view, the immaculate Massimo, as governor of Milan, impounded a number
of rifles intended for the Thousand, and so nearly wrecked the
affair. The King of Naples naturally applied the same criticism. "Don
Peppino," he said, "had clean hands, but he was only a blind, behind
which was ranged Piedmont with the Western Powers, which had vowed the
end of his dynasty." Whether international law was violated or not,
there was no real deception, if the essence of deception is to
deceive, for the Neapolitan Government saw Cavour's hand everywhere,
even where it was not.

Cavour was deterred from declaring war by the fear of foreign
intervention. England was the only Power which applauded the drama
enacting in Sicily. The cover afforded by English ships to the landing
of Garibaldi was no doubt a happy accident, but, as Signor Crispi
often repeats to this day, the landing could hardly have taken place
without it. "C'est infame et de la part des Anglais aussi," the
Czar wrote on the telegram which announced the safe arrival of the
"brigands" at Marsala. Cavour was afraid lest Russian sympathy with
the court of Naples should take a more inconvenient form than angry
words. Russia, however, remained quiescent, though "geography" was
stated to be the only reason. Prussia also discovered that Naples
was some way off. Yet there was nothing which the Prince Regent so
disliked as to see kings overthrown, until he began to do it himself.
But the two Northern Powers (and this was the meaning of the talk
about geography) did not want to act without Austria. The Austrian
Queen Dowager did all she could to obtain help to save the crown,
which she expected would pass from the weakly Francis to her own
son, but public opinion in Austria had long been irritated by the
supineness and corruption of the Neapolitan _regime_, and though the
Government protested, it did not go to the rescue. It is a question
whether it would not have been forced to go, if, at the outset, Cavour
had declared war. France joined in the protests of the other Powers,
and Cavour's enemies spread a monstrous rumour that he was going to
give up Genoa to win Napoleon's complaisance. In reply to an anxious
inquiry from the British Government, he declared that under no
circumstances would he yield another foot of ground.

When Garibaldi visited Admiral Persano's flag-ship at Palermo, he was
received with a salute of nineteen guns, which practically recognised
his position as dictator, and Medici's contingent of 3000 men was
equipped and armed by Cavour; all secrecy as to the relations between
the minister and the Sicilian revolution was, therefore, at an end.
He wished that Sicily should be annexed at once. Though Garibaldi had
performed every act since he landed in Sicily in Victor Emmanuel's
name, Cavour was more and more afraid of the republicans in his camp.
He exaggerated their influence over their leader, who, in vital
matters, was not easy to move, and he did not believe that, in
accordance with Mazzini's instructions, they were working for unity
regardless of the form of government which might follow. Victor
Emmanuel could sound the depths of Mazzini's patriotism; Cavour never
could. The two men were made to misunderstand each other. There are
differences too fundamental for even imagination to bridge over. Had
they lived till now, when both are raised on pedestals in the Italian
House of Fame, from which time shall not remove them, Mazzini would
still have been for Cavour, and Cavour for Mazzini, the evil genius of
his country.

The nightmare of Red Republicanism taking the bit between its teeth
and bolting was not the only terror that disturbed Cavour's rest. He
shuddered at the establishment of a dictatorial democracy which placed
unlimited power in the hands of men of no experience, with only the
lantern of advanced Liberalism to guide them. He, who had tried to
make the Italian cause look respectable, as well as meritorious, asked
himself what these improvised statesmen would do next? The Garibaldian
dictatorship has not lacked defenders, and two of its administrators
lived to be prime ministers of Italy, but it was inevitable that
Cavour should judge it as he did.

A dualism began between Palermo and Turin, which would not have
reached the point that it did reach, if La Farina, who was
commissioned by Cavour to promote annexation, had not launched into
a furious personal warfare with his fellow-Sicilian Crispi, a far
stronger combatant than he. Garibaldi ended by putting La Farina on
board a Sardinian man-of-war, and begging the admiral to convey him
home. The dictator bombarded the king's Government with advice, to
which Cavour alludes without irritation: "He writes and rewrites,
and telegraphs night and day, urging us with counsels, warnings,
reproaches--I might almost say menaces." Garibaldi, he goes on to say,
has a generous character, poetic instincts, but his is an untamed
nature, on which certain impressions leave ineffaceable traces; he
feels the cession of Nice as a personal injury, and he will never
forgive it. The king has a certain influence over him, but it would be
madness to seek to employ it in favour of the Ministry; he would lose
it, which would be a great misfortune. How few ministers who, like
Cavour, were accustomed to be all-powerful, would have met unrelenting
opposition in this spirit!

The influence of the king was sought by Napoleon to induce Garibaldi
to stop short at Messina, but he can hardly have been surprised when
the General showed no disposition to serve his sovereign so ill as to
obey him. He then proposed that the French and British admirals should
be instructed to inform Garibaldi that they had orders to prevent him
from crossing the straits. Lord John Russell replied that, in the
opinion of Government, the Neapolitans should be left to receive or
repel Garibaldi as they pleased; nevertheless, if France interfered
alone, they would limit themselves to disapproving and protesting. But
Napoleon did not wish to interfere alone; the effect would be to make
British influence paramount in Italy, and possibly even to cause
Sicily to crave a British protectorate. In great haste he assured the
Foreign Secretary that his chief desire was to act about Southern
Italy in whatever way was approved by England. Italy was saved from a
great peril in 1860, firstly, by English goodwill, and, secondly, by
the absence of any real agreement between the Continental Powers. Had
there been a concert of Europe, the passage of Garibaldi to Calabria
would have been barred.

By this time no one was more determined than Cavour himself that not
a palm of ground should be left to the Bourbon dynasty, but he still
thought it necessary to save appearances. Thus he met the too late
advances of the Neapolitan Government, not by a refusal to treat, but
by proposing a condition with which Francis, as an obedient son of
the Church, could not comply: the formal recognition of the union of
Romagna with Piedmont. Strict moralists, like Lanza, would have
wished him to send the ambassadors of the King of Naples about their
business, and to declare war on any pretext, and so escape from
"a hybrid and perilous game." Cavour looked upon the Neapolitan
Government as doomed, and that by its own fault, its own obstinacy,
its own rejection of the plank of safety, which, almost at the risk
of doing a wrong to Italy, he had advised his king to offer it three
months before. He felt no scruples in accelerating its fall. The means
he took may not have been the best means, but he thought them good
enough in dealing with a system which was a by-word for bad faith and
corruption. He wished that the end might come before Garibaldi crossed
the straits, or, at least, when he was still far from Naples. Thus a
repetition of the Sicilian dictatorship would be impossible. To what
measures he resorted is not known with any accuracy; he was carrying
on a policy without the knowledge of the king or the cabinet, and no
trustworthy account exists of it. What is known is that Cavour, as a
conspirator, failed.

Till the Captain of the Thousand appeared, the people would not move.
They knew nothing of the merits of a limited monarchy, but they could
vibrate to the electric thrill of a great emotion, such as that which
made their hearts rise and swell when the organ in the village
church pealed forth the airs of Bellini or Donizetti on a feast day.
Garibaldi was the Mahdi of a new dispensation, which was to end
earthquakes, the cholera, poverty, to heal all wounds, dry all tears.
Yes, it was worth while to rise now! King Francis seems to have
understood the situation; he sat down to wait for Destiny in a red
shirt. When the liberator was sufficiently near, he is reported
to have called the commanders of the National Guard, and to have
addressed them in these words: "As your--that is, our common friend,
Don Peppe, approaches, my work ends and yours begins. Keep the peace.
I have ordered the troops that remain to capitulate."

The British Government had all along recommended Cavour to leave
Garibaldi alone to finish the task he had so well begun; he did not
take the advice, but in the end he must have recognised its wisdom.
At the very last moment it might have been possible to get Victor
Emmanuel's authority proclaimed at Naples before Garibaldi entered the
city, or, at any rate, Cavour thought so; but the attempt would have
worn a graceless look at that late hour, and it was not made. Cavour
never forgot the services which Garibaldi had rendered to Italy; "the
greatest," he said, "that a man could render her." When the dissension
between them began, he might have convoked Parliament and fought out
the battle before the Chamber, but, though he would have saved his
_prestige_, he would have lost Italy. He preferred to risk his
reputation and to save Italy. In order to make Italy, he believed it
to be of vital importance to keep the hero on good terms with the
king. Garibaldi was a great moral power, not only in Italy, but in
Europe. If Cavour entered into a struggle with him, he would have the
majority of old diplomatists on his side, but European public opinion
would be against him, and it would be right. He argued thus with those
who mistook his forbearance for weakness, when it was really strength.

Cavour seriously thought that among the inconvenient consequences of
Garibaldi's ascendency might be a war with Austria, forced on the
Government by the victorious _condottiere_ in the intoxication of
success. He was resolved as a statesman to do what he could to prevent
so great an imprudence. He had assured the British Government in
writing that he had no present intention of attacking Austria, and
in this he was perfectly sincere. Still he did not shrink from the
possibility. He wrote to Ricasoli: "If we were beaten by overwhelming
force, the cause of Italy would not be lost; she would arise from her
ruins, as Piedmont arose from the field of Novara." To another friend
he made what was, perhaps, the only boast he ever uttered: "I would
answer for the result if I possessed the art of war as I possess the
art of politics." For the rest, he added characteristically, When
a course became the only one, what was the good of counting up its
dangers? You ought to find out the way of overcoming them.



When Garibaldi entered Naples, Cavour had already decided on the
momentous step of sending the king's forces into Umbria and the
Marches of Ancona. At the end of August he wrote: "We are touching the
supreme moment; with God's help, Italy will be made in three months."
If constitutional monarchy was to triumph it could no longer stand
still; neither Austrian arms nor republican propaganda could so
jeopardise the scheme of an Italian kingdom under a prince of the
House of Savoy as the demonstration of facts that the Government of
Victor Emmanuel had lost the lead. Moreover, it became daily more
probable that, if the king did not invade the Roman States from the
north, Garibaldi would invade them from the south, and this Cavour was
determined to prevent. If a Garibaldian invasion succeeded, France
would come into the field; if it failed, all the great results
hitherto accomplished would be compromised. Garibaldi at most could
only have disposed of half his little army of volunteers, and in
Lamoriciere, the conqueror of Abd-el-Kader, he would have met a
stouter antagonist than the Bourbon generals. But the party of action
urged him towards Rome, cost what it might, with the impracticability
of men who expect the walls of cities to fall at the blast of the
trumpet. Every reason, patriotic, political, geographical, justified
Cavour's resolution. It was only by force that Umbria and the Marches
had been retained under the papal sway in 1859; there was not an
Italian who did not look on their liberation as a patriotic duty. The
nominal pretext for the war, as has happened in most of the wars
of this century, only partially touched the point at issue; Cavour
professed to see a menace in the increase of the Pope's army, and
demanded its disbandment. In a literal sense, fifteen or twenty
thousand men could not be a menace to Italy. Still it must be doubted
if any state could have tolerated, in what was now its midst, even
this small force, commanded by a foreign general, composed largely
of foreign recruits, and proclaiming itself the advance guard of
reactionary Europe. Lamoriciere said that wherever the revolution
appeared, it must be knocked on the head as if it were a mad dog. By
"the revolution" he meant Italian unity.

Cavour, the cabinet, and the king were already labouring under the
penalties of excommunication by the Bull issued in the spring against
all who had taken part in the annexation of Romagna. When Prince
Charles of Lorraine in 1690 advised the Emperor to withdraw his claims
to Spain and concentrate his energies on uniting Italy, he observed
that in order to join the kingdom of Naples with Lombardy, it would be
necessary to reduce the Pope to the sole city of Rome. This most able
statesman of the House of Hapsburg continued: "The services of very
learned doctors should be obtained to instruct the people, both
by word of mouth and by writing, on the inutility and illusion of
excommunications when it is a question of temporalities, which Jesus
Christ never destined to His Church, and which she cannot possess
without outraging His example and compromising His Gospel." Cavour did
not seek the learned doctors, because he knew that the religious side
of the matter, however vital it seemed to the young Breton noblemen
who enlisted under Lamoriciere, left unmoved the Pope's subjects, who
had a mixture of scorn and hatred for the rule of priests, such as
was not felt for any government in Italy. For the rest, familiarity
lessens the effect of spiritual fulminations, and even of those not
spiritual. For three months Cavour had sustained the running fire of
all except one of the foreign representatives at Turin; as he wrote to
the Marquis E. d'Azeglio: "I have the whole _corps diplomatique_ on
my back, Hudson excepted; I let them have their say and I go on."
He deplored the sad fate of diplomacy, which always took the most
interest in bad causes, and was the more favourable to a government
the worse it was.[1] If _ces messieurs_ protested or departed, they
must; he could not arrest the current. If he tried, it would carry him
away with it, "which would not be a great evil," but it would carry
away the dynasty also. The Peace of Villafranca had caused the
Italians to conceive an irresistible desire for unity--events were
stronger than men, and he should only stop before fleets and armies.

[Footnote 1: We are reminded of a remark of Prince Bismarck:
"Personne, pas meme le plus malveillant democrate, ne se fait une
idee de ce qu'il y a de nullite et de charlatanisme dans cette

It appears that this time Cavour would have acted even without the
assent of Napoleon; it was, however, evidently of great moment to
secure it if possible. The Emperor was making a tour in the newly
acquired province of Savoy when General Cialdini and L.C. Farini were
despatched by Cavour to endeavour to win him over. The interview,
which was held at Chambery, was kept so secret that its precise date
is not now known. Cavour tried, not for the first time, the effect
of entire frankness. He counted on persuading Napoleon that their
interests were identical: the White Reaction and the Red Republic were
the enemies of both. He did not neglect the item that Lamoriciere was
disliked at the Tuileries. With regard to Garibaldi, he represented
that since the cession of Nice no one could manage him. The end of
it was that, if Napoleon did not say the words "Faites, mais faites
vite," which rumour attributed to him, he certainly expressed their

On September 11 the Sardinian army, more than double as strong as
Lamoriciere's, crossed the papal frontier. With the exception of
England and Sweden, all the Powers recalled their representatives
from Turin. The French Ministry telegraphed to Napoleon, who was at
Marseilles, to ask what they were to do. They got no answer, and, left
to their own inspiration, they informed the Duke de Grammont, the
French Ambassador at Rome, that the Emperor's Government "would not
tolerate" the culpable aggression of Sardinia, and that orders were
given to embark troops for Ancona. These misleading assurances
encouraged Lamoriciere, but in any case he would probably have thought
it incumbent on him to make what stand he could. He was defeated by
Cialdini on the heights of Castelfidardo--"yesterday unknown, to-day
immortal," as Mgr. Dupanloup eloquently exclaimed. Ancona fell to
a combined attack from land and sea. Meanwhile Fanti advanced on
Perugia, and was on the point of entering Viterbo when a detachment
from the French garrison in Rome suddenly occupied the town: one of
Napoleon's facing-both-ways evolutions by which he thought to save the
goat and cabbages of the Italian riddle, but the final result was to
lose both one and the other. Lamoriciere went home, declaring that
he took his defeat less to heart than the cruel disillusions he had
undergone in Rome. Some one proposed that he should go to the rescue
of King Francis, but he answered that his wish had been to serve the
Pope, not the Neapolitan Bourbons.

On the 20th the King of Sardinia, at the head of his army, marched
into the kingdom of Naples. For the Continental Powers it was a new
act of aggression; for Lord Palmerston, a measure of the highest
expediency, to which he had been urging Cavour with an impatience
hardly exceeded by that of the most ardent Italian patriot. The goal
of Italian unity was now more than in sight--it was touched. The
Rubicon was crossed in more senses than one. But at this last stage
there arose a danger which Cavour had not seriously apprehended. He
thought that Austria would not attack, unless directly provoked by
some imprudence of the extreme party. She had allowed the Grand Duke
of Tuscany and the King of Naples to fall; why should she be more
concerned for the Pope? Austria's concern for the Pope was, in fact,
not very deep, but there were Austrian politicians who argued that, if
Venetia was to be saved for the empire, the right of Austria to hold
it must rest on something more solid than a treaty, every other
clause of which had been torn to shreds. Never could a time return so
favourable as the present for striking a blow at the nascent Italian
kingdom. With the king and the best part of the army in the south, who
was there to oppose them? It is true that there was a feeling, growing
and expanding silently, which tended all the other way: a feeling that
enough of German and Hungarian and Bohemian and Polish blood had been
poured out upon Italian plains; that there was a fate in the thing,
and the fate was contrary to Austria. This feeling grew and grew till
the day when Venice too was lost, and not a man in Austria could find
it in his heart to cast one sincere look of regret behind at all that
fabric of splendid but ill-fortune-bringing dominion. A few years were
still to pass, however, before that day came, and all the forces of
the old order combined to press the Emperor to oppose the invading
flood while there was time. Some say that he had actually signed the
order to cross the frontier, but that on second thoughts he decided
first to seek the co-operation of Russia, probably with a view to
keeping France quiet. When he went to Warsaw in October, he left
everything prepared for war on his return. But Alexander II., having
thrown overboard his old friends at Naples, did not want to help the
Pope. The Emperor of Austria was badly received by the people of
Warsaw, and this tended against the alliance. The Prince Regent of
Prussia, who travelled to Warsaw to meet him, definitely refused to
guarantee his Venetian possessions. Lord John Russell had lately met
the Prussian ruler and his minister, Schleinitz, at Coblentz, and had
used all his influence to persuade them to keep Germany out of Italian
concerns. Though the Berlin Government loudly protested against the
Sardinian attack on papal territory, there is no doubt that the voice
of Prussia at Warsaw was raised in favour of peace.

At this juncture Napoleon proposed the usual Congress. While he told
Cavour that he must not expect assistance from him, his private
language towards the Northern Powers did not exclude the possibility
of French intervention. A diversion was created by a note which Lord
John Russell addressed to Sir James Hudson, "the most unprincipled
document," as it was called at Rome, "that had ever been written by
the minister of any civilised court." Lord John defended every act of
Sardinia in the strongest and plainest terms, and people grew almost
more angry with him than with Cavour. The Italian statesman never
quailed through this last perilous crisis; "Nous sommes prets," he
wrote, "a jouer le tout pour le tout." There are moments when the
problems of politics, as of life, cease to perplex. By degrees the
storm-clouds rolled away without breaking. In November Cavour felt
himself strong enough to affirm that the questions of Naples and the
Marches were purely Italian, and that the Powers of Europe had no
business to meddle with them. During the autumn, amidst other cares,
he was seriously preoccupied by a persistent rumour that his faithful
friend, Sir James Hudson, was to be removed to make room for the
ex-British Minister at Naples, whose occupation was gone through the
fall of the dynasty. It has been denied that the change was then
contemplated; at any rate it was not carried out till a later period,
and Cavour had the comfort of keeping his English fellow-worker near
him till he died.

The Garibaldian epic closed with the battle near the left bank of the
Volturno on October 1. Still Garibaldi showed no disposition to resign
the dictatorship, or to abandon the designs on Rome which he had
postponed, not renounced. On his side, Cavour was resolved that a
normal government should be established at Naples, and that Garibaldi
should not go to Rome, but he was no less resolved that, as far as
he could compass it, the giver of two crowns should be generously
treated. Unfortunately Fanti, the virtual head of the royal army,
represented the old military prejudice which classed volunteers with
banditti. A violent scene took place between this general and Cavour;
Fanti wished that the Garibaldians should be simply sent home with a
gratuity, alleging that "the exigencies of the army" were opposed to
the recognition of their grades. Cavour replied that they were not in
Spain,--in Italy the army obeyed. The ministerial emissaries in the
south received instructions (which they did not invariably execute) to
spare no pains to act in harmony with the dictator. Cavour, himself,
treated him always as a power and an equal. He took care that he
was the first to whom the secret of the invasion of the Marches was
confided. He assured him that in case of a war with Austria he would
be called upon to play an important part. When the king started on the
march for Naples, Cavour wrote to him advising that "infinite regard"
should be paid to the leader of the Thousand; "Garibaldi," he added,
"has become my most violent enemy, but I desire for the good of
Italy, and the honour of your Majesty, that he should retire entirely
satisfied." To L.C. Farini, who accompanied the king to Naples, he
wrote that the whole of Europe would condemn them if they sacrificed
to military pedantry men who had given their blood for Italy. He
would bury himself at Leri for the rest of his life rather than be
responsible for an act of such black ingratitude. In spite of all he
could do, however, a certain grudging spirit hung about the conduct of
Piedmontese officialdom towards the volunteers and their chief, but
great personal offers were made to Garibaldi--the highest military
rank, a castle, a ship, the dowry of a princess for his daughter. All
was refused. Garibaldi asked for the governorship of the Two Sicilies
for a year with unlimited power, and this, in the opinion of every
person of weight in Italy, it was impossible to grant.

In reviewing Cavour's conduct of affairs at this point, it is
important to dwell on his unwavering fidelity to constitutional
methods. We know now that he was strongly urged to take an opposite
course. Ricasoli telegraphed to him: "The master stroke would be to
proclaim the dictatorship of the king." The Iron Baron told Victor
Emmanuel to his face that it was humiliating for him to accept half
Italy as the gift even of a hero. It was no time for scruples; the
_coup d'etat_ would be legitimised afterwards by universal suffrage;
Garibaldi himself would approve of the king's dictatorship if it were
accompanied by a thoroughly Italian policy. This was perfectly true;
as Cavour said, the conception was really the same as Garibaldi's own:
a great revolutionary dictatorship to be exercised in the name of the
king without the control of a free press, and with no individual or
parliamentary guarantees. But Cavour would have none of it. What, he
asked, would England say to a _coup d'etat?_ His hope had always been
that Italy might make herself a nation without passing through
the hands of a Cromwell; that she might win independence without
sacrificing liberty, and abolish monarchical absolutism without
falling into revolutionary despotism. From parliament alone could be
drawn the moral force capable of subduing factions.

Not from his fellow-countrymen only, but from some who believed
themselves to be Italy's best friends abroad, came the prompting of
the tempter: more power! Few ministers in a predicament of such vast
difficulty would have resisted the evil fascination of those two
words. Cavour heard them unmoved. He told his various counsellors that
they counted too much on his influence, and were too distrustful of
liberty. He had no confidence in dictatorships, least of all in civil
dictatorships; with a parliament many things could be done which would
be impossible to absolute power. The experience of thirteen years
convinced him that an honest and energetic ministry, which had nothing
to fear from the revelations of the tribune, and which was not of a
humour to be intimidated by extreme parties, gained far more than it
lost by parliamentary struggles. He never felt so weak as when the
Chambers were closed. In a letter to Mme. de Circourt, he said that,
if people succeeded in persuading the Italians that they needed a
dictator, they would choose Garibaldi, not himself, and they would be
right. He summed up the matter thus: "I cannot betray my origin, deny
the principles of all my life. I am the son of liberty, and to it I
owe all that I am. If a veil is to be placed on its statue, it is not
for me to do it."

Meanwhile the edge of the precipice was reached. The king was marching
on, and still the dictator held the post which he owed to his sword
and the popular will. He openly begged the king to dismiss his
minister (in his idea kings could change their ministers as easily as
dictators). The public challenge could not be ignored. There was
no time to lose, and Cavour lost none; his answer was an appeal to
parliament. "A man," he said, "whom the country holds justly dear
has stated that he has no confidence in us. It behoves parliament to
declare whether we shall retire or continue our work." He invited the
deputies to pass a Bill authorising the king's Government to accept
the immediate annexation of such provinces of Central and Southern
Italy as manifested by universal suffrage their desire to become an
integral part of the constitutional monarchy of Victor Emmanuel.
This was voted on October 11. The majority of Cavour's party did not
believe that Garibaldi would give in to the national mandate; he knew
him better. On the 13th the dictator called together his advisers
of all shades of opinion. There was a heated discussion: a solution
seemed farther off than ever. Then, when they had all spoken, the
chief rose serenely and said that, if annexation were the will of the
people, he would have annexation; _si faccia l'Italia!_ He decreed
the plebiscite, but, having made up his mind, he did not wait for its
verdict. He issued one more ukase: "that the Two Sicilies form an
integral part of Italy, one and indivisible under the constitutional
king, Victor Emmanuel, and his successors." By a stroke of the pen he
handed over his conquests as a free gift. It was not constitutional,
still less democratic; puritan republicans averted their eyes, so did
rigid monarchists, but Cavour was perfectly content. He had forced
Garibaldi's hand without straining the royal prerogative or the
minister's authority. He had gained his end, and he had not betrayed
freedom. It could be argued now with more force than in 1860 that
Garibaldi and Ricasoli were right in contending that the best
government for the southern populations, only just released from a
demoralising yoke, would have been a wise, temporary despotism. But
despotisms have the habit of being neither wise nor temporary, and,
apart from this, the establishment of any partial or regional rule,
which placed the south under different institutions from the rest of
Italy, would have killed Italian Unity at its birth.

Cavour went on a brief visit to Naples, his name having been the
first to be drawn when the deputies were chosen who were to take the
congratulations of parliament to the king. Umbria, the Marches, and
the kingdoms of Sicily and Naples were joined to the common family.
Much had, indeed, been done, but there was trouble still at Gaeta,
where Napoleon placed his fleet in such a position as to render
an attack from the sea impossible. It was difficult to decide if
dust-throwing were the object, or if Napoleonic ideas had taken a new
turn. Italy was made, but it might be unmade. This was what French
politicians were constantly repeating. "L'Italie est une invention
de l'Empereur," said M. Rouher. "Rome l'engloutira!" predicted M. de
Girardin. Italy, declared M. Thiers, was an historical parasite which
lived on its past and could have no future. If all this were so, the
waters would be disturbed again soon, and there might be play for
anglers. The Murat scheme would have a new chance, were Victor
Emmanuel tried and found wanting. Young Prince Murat confided to his
friends that he expected to be wanted soon at Naples; "a great bore,"
but he would do his duty and go if required.

Whatever purpose Napoleon had in view, he was induced, at last, by the
British Government to desist from prolonging a struggle which could
only end in one way. The French fleet was withdrawn in January 1861,
and Gaeta capitulated on February 13. King Francis began the sad life
of exile, which closed a few years ago at Arco. The true Bourbon takes
misfortune easily; the pleasures of a mock court are dear to him, his
spirits never fail, nor does his appetite. But Francis II., the son of
a Savoyard mother, never consoled himself for the loss of country and

Cavour hoped that with the fall of Gaeta the state of the old
_Regno_ would rapidly improve, but another citadel remained to the
reaction--Rome, whence the campaign against unity continued to
be directed. A veritable _terreur blanche_, called by one side
brigandage, by the other a holy war, possessed the hills from Vesuvius
to the Sila forest. But though there were several foreign noblemen
who took part in it, not one Neapolitan of respectability or standing
joined the insurgents. The general elections showed in the south, as
over the whole country, a large majority pledged to support Cavour.
The first act of the new Chamber was to vote the assumption of the
title of King of Italy by Victor Emmanuel. The king might have assumed
the title a year before with more correctness than the Longobard kings
of Italy or the First Consul, but he did well to wait till none could
gainsay his right to it. Some faddists proposed to substitute "King of
the Italians." Cavour replied that the title of King of Italy was the
consecration of a great fact: the transformation of the country, whose
very existence as a nation was denied, into the kingdom of Italy.
It condensed into one word the history of the work achieved. On
the proclamation of the new kingdom Cavour resigned office; Victor
Emmanuel, who was never really at his ease with Cavour, thought of
accepting in earnest what was done as a matter of form, but Ricasoli
dissuaded him from the idea. The Cavour ministry therefore returned to
office, with a few modifications.

The new Chamber represented all Italy, except Rome and Venice. From
Villafranca to his death, Venice was never out of Cavour's mind. He
kept in touch with the revolutionary forces in Hungary, and Kossuth
believed to the last that, if Cavour had lived, he would have
compassed the liberation of both Hungary and Venetia within the year
1862. He would have supported Lord John Russell's plan, which was that
Italy should buy the Herzegovina and give it to Austria in exchange
for Venetia, but, on the whole, he thought that the most likely
solution was war, in which Prussia and Italy were ranged on the same
side. He, almost alone, rated at its true value the latent military
force of Prussia. He had a knack of calling Prussia "Germany," as he
used to call Piedmont "Italy." He turned off the furious remonstrances
which came like the burden of a song from Berlin, with the polite
remark that the Prussian Government would be soon very glad to follow
his example. When William I. ascended the throne, he ignored the
rupture of diplomatic relations, and sent La Marmora to whisper into
the ear of the new monarch words of artful flattery. He may have
doubted if a Prussianised Germany would exactly come as a boon and a
blessing to men. In 1848 he prophesied that Germanism would disturb
the European equilibrium, and that the future German Empire would aim
at becoming a naval power in order to combat and rival England on
the seas. But he saw that the rise of Prussia meant the decline of
Austria, and this was all that, as an Italian statesman, with Venetia
still in chains, he was bound to consider.



The other unsolved question, that of Rome, was the most thorny, the
most complicated, that ever a statesman had to grapple with. Though
Cavour's death makes it impossible to say what measure of success
would have attended his plans for resolving it, it must be always
interesting to study his attitude in approaching the greatest crux in
modern politics.

Cavour did not think of shirking this question because it was
difficult. In fact, he had understood from the beginning that in it
lay the essence of the whole problem. Chiefly for that reason he
brought the occupations of the Papal States before the Congress of
Paris. In 1856, as in 1861, he looked upon the Temporal Power as
incompatible with the independence of Italy. It was already a fiction.
"The Pope's domination as sovereign ceased from the day when it was
proved that it could not exist save by a double foreign occupation."
It had become a centre of corruption, which destroyed moral sense and
rendered religious sentiment null. Without the Temporal Power, many of
the wounds of the Church might be healed. It was useless to cite the
old argument of the independence of the head of the Church; in face
of a double occupation and the Swiss troops, it would be too bitter a
mockery. When Cavour spoke in these terms, Italian Unity seemed far
off. Now that it was accomplished, a new and potent motive arose for
settling the Roman question once for all. In May 1861 Mr. Disraeli
remarked to Count Vitzthum: "The sooner the inevitable war breaks out
the better. The Italian card-house can never last. Without Rome there
is no Italy. But that the French will evacuate the Eternal City is
highly improbable. On this point the interests of the Conservative
party coincide with those of Napoleon." There is no better judge of
the drift of political affairs than an out-and-out opponent. So
Prince Metternich always insisted that the Italians did not want
reforms--they wanted national existence, unity. Mr. Disraeli probably
had in mind a speech delivered in the House of Commons by Lord John
Russell, in which the Foreign Secretary recommended as "the best
arrangement" the Pope's retention of Rome with a small surrounding
territory. There is no doubt that a large part of the moderate party
in Italy would have then endorsed this recommendation. They looked
upon _Roma capitale_ as what D'Azeglio called it--a classical
fantasticality. What was the good of making an old man uncomfortable,
upsetting the religious susceptibilities of Europe, forfeiting the
complaisance of France, in order to pitch the tent of the nation in
a malarious town which was only fit to be a museum? Those who only
partly comprehended Cavour's character might have expected to find him
favourable to these opinions, which had a certain specious appearance
of practical good sense. But Cavour saw through the husk to the
kernel; he saw that "without Rome there was no Italy."

Without Rome Italian Unity was still only a name. Rome was the symbol,
as it was the safeguard of unity. Without it, Italy would remain a
conglomeration of provinces, a union, not a unit--not the great nation
which Cavour had laboured to create. Even as prime minister of little
Piedmont, he had spurned a parochial policy. He had no notion of a
humble, semi-neutralised Italy, which should have no voice in the
world. Cavour lacked the sense of poetry, of art; he hated fads, and
he did not believe in the perfectibility of the human species, but his
prose was the prose of the ancient Roman; it was the prose of empire.
United Italy must be a great power or nothing. Cavour was practical
and prudent, as he is represented in the portrait commonly drawn of
him, but there was a larger side to his character, which has been less
often discerned. Nor is it to be conjectured that the direction Italy
has taken, and the consequent outlay in armaments and ships, would
have been blamed by him, though he would have blamed the uncontrolled
waste of money in all departments, which is answerable for the present
state of the finances. Nor, again, would Cavour have disapproved of
colonial enterprises, but he would have taken care to have the meat,
not the bones: Tunis, not Massowah. From the opening to the close of
his career, the thought "I am an Italian citizen" governed all his
acts. Those who accused him of provincialism, of regionalism, mistook
the tastes of the private individual for the convictions of the
statesman. He preferred the flats and fogs of Leri to the scenery of
the Bay of Naples; but in politics he did not acquire the feelings
of an Italian: he was born with them. It has been said that he
aggrandised Piedmont; it would be truer to say that he sacrificed it.
For years he drained its resources; he sent its soldiers to die in the
Crimea; he exposed it again and again to the risk of invasion: he tore
from it two of its fairest provinces. But there was one thing that he
would not do; he would not dethrone Turin to begin a new "regionalism"
elsewhere. At Rome alone the history of the Italian municipalities
would become the history of the Italian nation.

Cavour deliberately departed from his usual rule of letting events
shape themselves when he pledged himself and the monarchy to the
policy of making Rome the capital. In October 1860 he said from his
place in parliament that it was a grave thing for a minister to
pronounce his opinion on the great questions of the future, but a
statesman worthy of the name ought to have certain fixed points by
which he steered his course. For twelve years their continual object
had been national independence; henceforth it was "to make the Eternal
City, on which rested twenty-five centuries of glory, the splendid
capital of the Italian kingdom."

On March 25, 1861, Cavour seized a chance opportunity to repeat and
emphasise his views. The question of Rome was, he said, the gravest
ever placed before the parliament of a free people. It was not only of
vital importance to Italy, but also to two hundred thousand Catholics
in all parts of the globe; its solution ought to have not only a
political influence, but also a moral and religious influence. In the
previous year he had deemed it wise to speak with reserve, but now
that this question was the principal subject of discussion in all
civilised nations, reserve would not be prudence but pusillanimity. He
proceeded to lay down as an irrefragable fact that Rome must become
the capital of Italy. Only this could end the discords and differences
of the various parts of the country. The position of the capital was
not decided by reasons of climate or topography, or even of strategy.
The choice of the capital was determined by great moral reasons, by
the voice of national sentiment. Cavour rarely introduced his own
personality even into his private letters, much less into his
speeches; for the last ten years of his life he seemed a living
policy, hardly a man. But in this speech there is a touch of personal
pathos in the passage in which he said that, for himself, it would
be a grievous day when he had to leave his native Turin with its
straight, formal streets, for Rome and its splendid monuments, for
which he was not artist enough to care. He called upon the future
Italy, established firmly in the Eternal City, to remember the cradle
of her liberties, which had made such great sacrifices for her, and
was ready to make this one too!

They must go to Rome, he continued, but on two conditions--the first
was, concert with France; the second, that the union of this city with
Italy should not be interpreted by the great mass of Catholics as the
signal for the servitude of the Church. They must go to Rome without
lessening the Pope's real independence, and without extending the
power of the civil authority over the spiritual. History proved that
the union of civil and spiritual authority in the same hands was fatal
to progress and freedom. The possession of Rome by Italy must put an
end to this union, not begin a new phase of it by making the Pope
a sort of head chaplain or chief almoner to the Italian state. The
Pope's spiritual authority would be safer in the charge of twenty-six
millions of free Italians than in that of a foreign garrison. Whether
they went to Rome with or without the consent of the Pontiff, as soon
as the fall of the Temporal Power was proclaimed, the complete liberty
of the Church would be proclaimed also. Might they not hope that the
head of the Church would accept the offered terms? Was it impossible
to persuade him that the Temporal Power was no longer a guarantee of
independence, and that its loss would be compensated by an amount of
liberty which the Church had sought in vain for three centuries, only
gathering particles of it by concordats which conceded the use of
spiritual arms to temporal rulers? They were ready to promise the Holy
Father that freedom which he had never obtained from those who called
themselves his allies and devoted sons. They were ready to assert
through every portion of the king's dominions the great principle of
_a free church in a free state_.

At Cavour's invitation, parliament voted the choice of Rome as
capital. From that vote there could be no going back. _Roma capitale_
could never again be put aside as the dream of revolutionists and
poets. This was the last great political act of Cavour's life. Though
he did not think that his life would be a long one, he thought that he
should have time to finish his work himself. One day, when he had been
discussing the matter with a friend, who saw nothing but difficulties,
he placed the inkstand at the top of the table before which they were
sitting, and said, "I see the straight line to that point; it is this"
(he traced it with his finger). "Supposing that halfway I encounter
an impediment; I do not knock my head against it for the pleasure of
breaking it, but neither do I go back. I look to the right and to the
left, and not being able to follow the straight line, I make a curve.
I turn the obstacle which I cannot attack in front."

What Cavour would have called the straight line to Rome was a friendly
arrangement with the Pope. He could not have hoped for this, had he
been less convinced that the true interests of the Church of Rome
would be served, not injured, by the loss of a sovereignty which had
become an anachronism. It is, of course, certain that many thought the
contrary; Lord Palmerston believed that the religious position of the
papacy would suffer, and among the advanced party the wish to weaken
the spiritual influence of the priests went along with the wish to
abolish their political dominion. Cavour looked upon religion as a
great moralising force, and he was well assured that the only form of
it acceptable to the Italian people was the Latin form of Christianity
established in Rome. Efforts to spread Protestantism in Italy struck
him as childish. Freed from the log of temporalities, he expected
that the Church would become constantly better fitted to perform its

Cavour began negotiations with Rome which, at first, he had reason
to think, were favourably entertained; afterwards they were abruptly
broken off. Nothing is more difficult than to penetrate through the
wall of apparent unanimity which surrounds the Vatican. Sometimes,
however, a breach is made, to the scandal of the faithful. Thus
the biographer of Cardinal Manning revealed the fact that the late
Archbishop of Westminster, who began by wishing the Temporal Power to
be erected into an article of faith, ended by ardently desiring some
kind of tacitly accepted _modus vivendi_ with the Italian kingdom,
such as that which Cavour proposed. Cardinal Manning was sorry to see
the Italians being driven to atheism and socialism, and so he had the
courage to change his mind. In 1861 he was in the opposite camp,
but there was not wanting then a section of learned and patriotic
ecclesiastics who desired peace. It was said that their efforts
were rendered sterile by the great organisation which a pope once
suppressed, and which owed its resurrection to a schismatic emperor
and an heretical king. However that may be, the recollection of what
befell Clement XIV. is still a living force in Rome.

Having failed to conclude a compact with the Vatican, Cavour turned to
France. To make it easier for Napoleon to withdraw his troops, he was
willing to allow the Temporal Power to stand for a short time--"for
instance, for a year"--after their departure. In the arrangement
subsequently arrived at under the name of the September Convention,
the underlying intention was to adjourn _Roma capitale_ to the Greek
kalends. Cavour had no such intention, nor would he have agreed to the
transference of the capital to Florence. His plan was warmly supported
by Prince Napoleon, and had he lived it is probable that it would have
been carried out. He did not despair of an ultimate reconciliation
with the Holy See, though he no longer thought that it would yield to
persuasion alone.

While Cavour was applying himself with feverish activity to the Roman
question, he was harassed by the state of the Neapolitan provinces,
which showed no improvement. The liquidation of Garibaldi's
dictatorship was rendered the more difficult by the undiminished
dislike of the military chiefs for the volunteers, whom they were
disposed to treat less favourably than the Bourbon officers who ran
away. Cavour hoped to get substantial justice done in the end, but
meantime he had to bear the blame for the illiberality which he had so
strenuously opposed. To have told the truth would have been to throw
discredit on the army, and this he would not do. The subject was
brought before the Chamber of Deputies in a debate opened by Ricasoli,
who spoke in favour of the volunteers, but deprecated undue importance
being assigned to the work of any private citizen. The true liberator
of Italy was the king under whom they had all worked; those whose
sphere of action had been widest, as their utility had been greatest,
should feel thankful for so precious a privilege--few men could say,
"I have served my country well, I have entirely done my duty." Cavour,
who heard Ricasoli speak for the first time, said with generous
approbation, "I have understood to-day what real eloquence is." But it
was not likely that the debate would continue on this academic plane.
Garibaldi had come to Turin in a fit of intense anger at the treatment
of his old comrades, and on rising to defend them he soon lost control
over himself, and launched into furious invectives against the man who
had made him a foreigner in his native town, and "who was now driving
the country into civil war." Cavour would have borne patiently
anything that Garibaldi could say about Nice, but at the words "civil
war" he became violently excited. The house trembled lest a scene
should take place, which would be worse for Italy than the loss of a
battle. But Cavour cared too much for Italy to harm her. The sense
of his first indignant protests was lost in the general uproar;
afterwards, when he rose to reply to Garibaldi, he was perfectly calm;
there was not a trace of resentment on his face. Such self-command
would have been noble in a man whose temperament was phlegmatic; in a
passionate man like Cavour it was heroic. He said that an abyss had
been created between himself and General Garibaldi. He had performed
what he believed to be a duty, but it was the most cruel duty of his
life. What he felt made him able to understand what Garibaldi felt.
With regard to the volunteers, had he not himself instituted them in
1859 in the teeth of all kinds of opposition? Was it likely that he
wished to treat them ill? A few days later Garibaldi wrote a letter in
which he promised Cavour (in effect) plenary absolution if he would
proclaim a dictatorship. He would then be the first to obey. There
was no petty spite or envy in Garibaldi; his wild thrusts had been
prompted by "a general honest thought, and common good to all." He was
ready to give his rival unlimited power.

By the king's wish, Cavour and Garibaldi met and exchanged a few
courteous, if not cordial, words. Cavour ignored the scene in the
Chamber; he had already said that for him it had never happened. It
was their last meeting. The wear and tear of public life as it was
lived by Cavour must have been enormous; it meant the concentration,
not only of the mental and physical powers, but also of the nervous
and emotional faculties, on a single object. He had not the relaxation
of athletic or literary tastes, or the repose of a cheerful domestic
life. Latterly he even gave up going to the theatre in order to dose
undisturbed. A doctor warned him not to work after dinner, and to take
frequent holidays in the mountains; he neglected both rules. He was
inclined to despise rest. He used to say: "When I want a thing to be
done quickly, I always go to a busy man: the unoccupied man never
has any time." He, himself, did not know how to be idle; yet he was
painfully conscious of overwork and brain-fag. He told his friend
Castelli that he was tormented by sleeplessness, but still more by
certain ideas which assailed him at night, and which he could not get
rid of. He got up and walked about the room, but all was useless; "I
am no longer master of my head." When Parliament was open, he never
missed a sitting, and he left nothing to subordinates in the several
departments in his charge. While his mental processes remained clear
and orderly, the brain, when not governed by the will, did its tasks
as a tired slave does them; thus he was surrounded by a mass of
confused papers and documents, amongst which he sometimes had to seek
for days for the one required at the moment.

In the last half of May he was noticed to be unwontedly irritable and
impatient of contradiction. The debates bored him; on the last day
that he sat in his accustomed place, he said that, when Italy was
made, he would bring in a Bill to abolish all the chairs of rhetoric.
That evening he was taken ill with fever; his own physician was
absent, and he dictated a treatment to the doctor who was called in,
which he thought would make his illness a short one. He was bled five
times in four days. On the fourth day he summoned a cabinet council
to his bedside; the ministers, sharing his own opinion that he was
better, allowed it to be prolonged for several hours. When they went
out, an old friend came in and read death in his face. Other doctors
were consulted, and the treatment was changed. It was too late. From
the first the chance of recovery was small, owing to the mental
tension at which Cavour had lived for months; whatever chance there
was had been thrown away. He knew people when he first saw them, but
then fell back into lethargy or delirium. Suddenly he said: "The king
must be told."

When the case became evidently desperate, the family sent for a monk,
named Fra Giacomo, who had promised Cavour during the cholera epidemic
of 1854 that the refusal of the sacraments to Santa Rosa should not
be repeated in his own extremity. An excited crowd gathered round the
palace. One workman said: "If the priests refuse, a word and we will
finish them all." But Fra Giacomo kept his promise. "I know the
Count," he said (for many years he had dispensed his private
charities); "a clasp of the hand will be sufficient." On the evening
of the same day, June 5, the king ascended the secret staircase
leading to Cavour's bedroom, which had been so often mounted before
dawn by too compromising visitors. Cavour exclaimed on seeing him: "O
Maesta!" but the recognition seemed not to last. "These Neapolitans,
they must be cleansed," he said, interrupting the sovereign's kind
commonplaces of a hope that was not. Then he ordered that his
secretary, Artom, should be ready to transact business with him at
five next morning; "there was no time to lose." Cavour's biographers
have repeated statements as to precepts and injunctions spoken by him
in his last hours. But he was continually delirious; all that could be
understood was that his wandering mind was running on what had been
the life of his life, Italy. In the early dawn of the 6th, he imagined
that he was making a ministerial statement from his place in the
Chamber of Deputies; his voice sounded clear and distinct, but ideas,
names, words, were incoherently mixed together. At four o'clock he
became silent, and very soon life was pronounced to be extinct.

One Sunday in June, a year before, Cavour spent some hours in the
ancestral castle at Santena, which he so rarely visited. On that
occasion he said to the village syndic: "Here I wish my bones to
rest." The wish was respected, the king yielding to it his own desire
to give his great minister a royal burial at the Superga. Cavour had
the old sentiment that it was well for a man to be buried where his
fathers were buried, and to die in their faith. At all times it would
have been repugnant to him to pose as a sceptic, most of all on his
deathbed. Once, when he was reminded in the Campo Santo at Pisa
that he was standing on holy earth brought from Palestine, he said,
smiling, "Perhaps they will make a saint of me some day." He died a
Catholic, and, instead of launching its censures against Fra Giacomo,
the Church might have written "ancor questo" among its triumphs. For
the rest, with minds such as Cavour's, religion is not the mystical
elevation of the soul towards God, but the intellectual assent to the
ruling of a superior will, and religious forms are, in substance,
symbols of that assent. The essence of Cavour's theology and morality
is expressed in two sayings of Epictetus. One is, that as to piety to
the gods, the chief thing is to have right opinions about them; to
think that they exist, and that they administer the all well and
justly. The other is: For this is your duty, to act well the part that
is given to you.

"Cavour," said Lord Palmerston in the classic home of constitutional
liberty, the British House of Commons, "left a name 'to point a moral
and adorn a tale.'" The moral was, that a man of transcendent talent,
indomitable industry, inextinguishable patriotism, could overcome
difficulties which seemed insurmountable, and confer the greatest,
the most inestimable benefits on his country. The tale with which
his memory would be associated was the most extraordinary, the most
romantic, in the annals of the world. A people which seemed dead had
arisen to new and vigorous life, breaking the spell which bound it,
and showing itself worthy of a new and splendid destiny. The man whose
name would go down to posterity linked with such events might have
died too soon for the hopes of his fellow-citizens, not for his fame
and his glory.

After thirty-seven years nothing need be taken away from this high
eulogy, and something can be added. The completion of the national
edifice within a decade of Cavour's death was still, in a sense, his
work, as the consolidation of the United States after the death of
Lincoln was still moulded by his vanished hand.

If it be true that the world's history is the world's judgment, it
is no less true that the history of the state is the judgment of
the statesman. Cavour would not have asked to be tried by any other
criterion. He achieved a great result. He doubted if ideals of
perfection could he reached, or whether, if reached, they would not be
found, like mountain tops, to afford no abiding place for the foot
of man. Perhaps he forgot too much that from the ice and snow of
the mountain comes the river which fertilises the land. But, if he
deprecated the pursuit of what he deemed the impossible, he condemned
as criminal the neglect of the attainable. The charge of cynicism was
unjust; Cavour was at heart an optimist; he never doubted that life
was immensely worth living, that the fields open to human energy were
splendid and beneficent. He hated shams, and he hated all forms of
caste-feeling. He was one of the few continental statesmen who never
exaggerated the power for good of government; he looked upon the
private citizen who plods at his business, gives his children a good
education, and has a reserve of savings in the funds, as the mainstay
of the state.

No life of Cavour has been written since the publication of his
correspondence, and of a mass of documents which throw light on his
career. It has seemed more useful, therefore, within the prescribed
limits, to endeavour to show what he did, and how he did it, than
to give much space to the larger considerations which the Italian
movement suggests. Of the ultimate issue of the events with which he
was concerned it is too soon to speak. These events stand in close
relation to the struggle between the civil and ecclesiastical powers,
which dates back to the first assumption of political prerogatives by
the Bishops of Rome. Cavour did not suffer his sovereign to eat humble
pie like King John, or to go to Canossa like Henry IV., but neither
did he ever entertain the wish to turn persecutor as Pombal was,
perhaps, forced to do, or to browbeat the head of the Church as the
first Napoleon took a pleasure in doing. He aimed at keeping the two
powers separate, but each supreme in its own province.

Content you with monopolising heaven,
And let this little hanging ball alone;
For, give ye but a foot of conscience there,
And you, like Archimedes, toss the globe.

The Italian revolution was bound up, also, with the principle of
nationalities, which is still at work in South-Eastern Europe, and
with the tendency towards unity which led to the refounding of the
German Empire. Students who care for historical parallels will always
seek to draw a comparison between Cavour and the great man who guided
the new destinies of Germany. The points of resemblance are striking,
but they are soon exhausted. Each undertook to free his country from
extraneous influence, and to give it the strength which can only
spring from union, and each was confident in his own power to succeed;
either Cavour or Bismarck might have said with the younger Pitt: "I
know that I can save the country, and I know no other man can." The
points of disparity are inexhaustible. Prince Bismarck never threw off
the aristocratico-military leanings with which he began life. He aimed
at creating a strong military empire, in which the first and last duty
of parliament was to vote supplies. Though the revolutionary tide set
in towards unity still more in Germany than in Italy, he preferred to
wait till he could do without a popular movement as an auxiliary. He
did not admire the mysticism of King Frederick William IV., but he
fully approved when that monarch, "the son of twenty-four electors and
kings," declared that he would never accept the "iron collar" offered
him by revolution "of an Imperial crown unblessed by God." Bismarck
started with the immeasurable advantage that his side was the
strongest. Cavour had to solve the problem of how a state of five
millions could outwit an empire of thirty-seven millions. All along,
the German population of Prussia was far more numerous than that of
Austria, and she had allies that cost her nothing. Napoleon, as Cavour
pointed out, fought for Prussia in Lombardy as much as for Piedmont.
If Bismarck foresaw unification with more certainty than Cavour
foresaw unity, it must be remembered that, while Cavour was held back
by doubts as to whether the whole country desired unity, such doubts
caused no trouble to Bismarck, since he was ready to adopt a short way
with dissidents.

When Prince Bismarck once said that he was more Prussian than German,
he revealed the weak side of his stupendous achievement. Prussia has
not become Germany. The empire is a great defensive league in which
only one participant is entirely satisfied with his position. In
Italy a kingdom has grown up in which Piedmont, even to the extent
of ingratitude, is forgotten. If moral fusion is still incomplete,
political fusion has, at least, advanced so far that the present
institutions and the nation must stand or fall together. The monarchy
was made for the country, not the country for the monarchy. An acute
Frenchman remarked during the Franco-German War, that Prince
Bismarck had taken Cavour's conception without what made it really
great--liberty. Possibly that word may still prove of better omen to
the rebirth of a nation than "Blood and Iron."


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Bert, A. _Nouvelles lettres inedites de Cavour_. Turin, 1889.

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Commandeur Urbain Rattazzi_. Paris, 1862.

Marriott, F. _La sapienza politica del Conte di Cavour e
del Principe di Bismarck_. Turin, 1886.

Marriott, F. _The Makers of Modern Italy_. London, 1889.

Massari, G. _Il Conte di Cavour_. Turin, 1873.

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Reumont (Von.), A. _Charakterbilder aus der neuern Geschichte
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