ITALY'S FIRST WAR OF INDEPENDENCE
The Kingdom of Italy as it stands today is young enough for the birth of its union to be in the memory of men still in public life. And the glorious struggle of the Risorgimento (or Resurrection of Italy) was carried on by the fathers of those who to-day lead the thought of the nation. As an illustration---in the impressive and effective “demonstrations” of the week following the resignation of the Salandra ministry and preceding the declaration of war with Austria, oldGaribaldians in red shirts were borne along on the shoulders of members of the crowd, and two of the three men who were invited to undertake the formation of a new ministry,Nogara and Carcano, were old Garibaldian veterans: “Camicie Rosse,” Red-Shirts. Further, the match which lit the fire which three weeks later burst into flame was the unveiling of a monument at Quarto---the point from which they set forth---to “the Thousand” who sailed under Garibaldi for the liberation of Sicily and the union of Italy.
It will be recalled that but two generations ago Italy was divided into a number of different kingdoms and dukedoms, principalities or states. They had numerous points of difference and even of conflict. But the people had certain things in common that are fundamental. They had an ancient Past of Glory; they had a common language and literature, a common religion, and they had---strongest of all ties: a common past of suffering.
Also they possessed one common point of light to show the way. Napoleon’s genius in 1811 laid out partially the limits of a Kingdom of Italy, which he declared was according to natural boundaries. It was later divided and repartitioned, Austria holding a considerable share and exercising a dominating influence over much more---indeed, of nearly all the rest.
Napoleon is reported to have said at St. Helena that with that northern natural boundary Italy was substantially an island guarded by the Alps and the two seas, and that, “Isolated between her natural limits,” she is “destined to form a great and powerful nation. Italy is one nation; unity of customs, language, and literature must in a period more or less distant unite her inhabitants under one sole government, and Rome will without the slightest doubt be chosen by the Italians as their capital.” He did something to blaze the way to it; but his selfishness led him to forego what might have proved his greatest abiding monument, and to partition it among himself and his family. His gift of Venice to Austria was a blot on his fame which even taking it back could not erase and it furnished his conquerors later with a color of reason to turn it and much more besides over to a despotism hardly equalled in modern times. Still, a step had been taken which was never forgot by the Italians.
But if similar to an island, Italy’s position partook at once of both the advantages and disadvantages of an island.
Modern invention has rendered her sea bulwarks rather a source of peril, unless she can safeguard herself otherwise; so her aspirations have been dictated by necessity no less than ambition. Her position has forced her to seek allies amid the growing menaces of vast coalitions, and out of the necessity she has felt of protecting her long Adriatic coast has grown her aspiration for the possession once more of the opposite shore with its commanding stations and internal waterway, an aspiration undoubtedly fostered by the fact that this shore was once Venetian and Italian, and is still peopled in parts by an Italian population.
Austria also had her history and traditions, not to mention her aspirations. Her Emperors had ruled in Italy and, after a long interval and many vicissitudes, Austrian rule had again in later times held absolute dominion over a considerable part of Italy and an influence scarcely less absolute over all the rest. She had, in 1866---but yesterday, as it were---been compelled to give up Venetia, and but a few years before that had been forced to surrender Lombardy and her power over all the rest of Italy---but she still held the Trentino, and Trieste, and controlled the upper Adriatic.
To these conflicting aspirations were added racial and traditional antagonisms, and to these the conflict of vast interests, commercial and political.
It is but a hundred years since Metternich said Italy was only a “geographical expression.” The Kingdom of Italy, then, “United Italy,” is, in its new formation, a young country; but it has before its eyes always the lines on which a Kingdom of Italy was founded in the distant past and refounded again in the recent past. It is not therefore to be wondered at if the desire prevails to re-establish the kingdom on the well-known lines once occupied by it. Dante dreamed and wrote of a re-established Roman Empire with its capital once more in Rome; and Dante, though Florentine then, is Italian now, and has long been Italian, part and parcel of all Italy, as much all Italian as Homer was all Greek
In this new-old kingdom traditions, customs, and racial traits count to an extent hardly dreamed of in more modern lands. The people cling to them, perhaps, unconsciously. The traits differ to some extent in different regions, the customs vary incredibly; but, with roots sunk deep in tradition, maintain themselves unchangeably where rooted. They extend from peculiarities of costume to peculiarities of forms of religious worship, if not of belief.
Even ignoring the Roman Empire---though Italians do not, for it speaks to-day in every province in Italy not only in heroic fragments; in its colosseums, its aqueducts, its tombs and temples, its roads, but above all in its history and its literature, common to all Italy---we should remember that Italy has existed for a thousand years. Empire and Kingdom, Duchies by the dozen; and Republics, have come in and passed across the scene from the fastnesses above the Lombard plain to the points of Sicily overlooking the North African shore, where Carthage stood; but the Italians have survived---also has survived the imperishable idea of the Kingdom of Italy, or at least the idea of Italy.
Some rulers were content to hold their own provinces. Others strove to extend their sway. Some built on the sea, looked to the sea they wedded for their dowry; and one, altogether the most powerful, though a nominal Republic, took both sides of the Adriatic, and, having turned this sea into a Venetian lake, swept on to the Orient and, conquering its distant shores, planted there its colonies and established its power. However they may have fought each other and hated each other, the Italian States had a number of strong common bonds that bound them together. Dante sounded the note of National consciousness and laid the firm foundation of a national language and a yet stronger one for a quickened national spirit. His successors---Petrarch, Alfieri, and Goldoni, Manzoni, Foscolo, and many others---sounded the same note and therefore live to-day as does Italy herself.
As time wore on, the local hatreds died out into simple rivalries more or less acute. Pisa ceased to hate Genoa, however she may have envied her and claimed her share in Columbus. Florence and Siena and Pisa, Parma and Modena, Perugia and Ravenna, ceased to be fiercely Guelf or Ghibelline, as the case might be, and claimed common. part in Dante, whose sacred dust is guarded by Ravenna; in Petrarch, in Donatello, in Angelo, and in Perugino, Raphael, and Leonardo, and in the countless masters of the various schools which enriched Italy and bound her into one beyond the power of Emperor or Duke, of Prince or Doge or King or Pope, to divide them. And in religion all looked to Rome, as the Israelites of old looked to the city of David as their shrine. The effect of this fact and the community of interest in their history and their literature cannot be too strongly emphasized.
The Papacy treated with or fought, now Emperors, now Kings, as the occasion developed. But all the time it pursued a consistent policy of papal interests. Its success depended upon the skill with which it used the instruments at hand. But largely it was owing to the fact that it reached the people in a way that neither King nor Emperor nor Noble could do, and that it had a certain democratic foundation. And to a considerable extent here lay its power. It was only when greater knowledge developed in the people and they recognized that a better government and securer rights might be found elsewhere than under the Papacy that the Temporal Power of the latter dwindled. It added vastly to the prestige of Italy and ministered to the pride of the Italian people. But this is germane to our subject only in so far as it casts light on the present situation. It was, however, undoubtedly a unifying power.
Meantime, in the mall of Kings, Princes, Dukes, and Counts who rose and fought and ruled and fell from one end of Italy to the other, one House rose and maintained itself on the northwestern Alpine ridges above the passes that were the gateways of Italy. There were at times many richer and more powerful rulers in one part of Italy or another, but none possessed a stronger strategic position and, perhaps, for this reason as well as for their lusty sons’ breathing the robust air of their native mountains, the Heads of the warrior House of Savoy gradually enlarged their power until they developed from counts to dukes and from dukes to kings, governing both sides of their native mountains until Savoy, Piedmont, and Sardinia fell beneath their sway. For something like a thousand years their history runs, however misty the early part may have been. “We have carried our head high for eight hundred and fifty years and no one will make me lower mine,” was the message sent by Victor Emmanuel to Napoleon III in 1858.
For over five hundred years they have been rulers living close to the people, whom they governed with discernment, if at times with rigor. On occasion they strove to maintain neutrality for their dominions, which included Savoy, Piedmont, and a part of Switzerland; sometimes with disastrous effect, as when in the wars between Francis I and Charles V they strove to maintain neutrality and France annexed Savoy. It is mentioned to show a traditional instance of the House of Savoy trying to stand aloof from the wars raging about them.
In the third quarter of the sixteenth century the head of this powerful house, Duke Emmanuel, espoused the side of Spain and got his duchy restored. Whereupon he established his capital at Turin in the Piedmont, made the Italian tongue his official language, and made the House of Savoy integrally Italian. Not that he was yet in sight of the Treaty of Paris, much less of Sedan and of Venti Settembre; but an essential step had been taken and the House of Savoy, with its warrior blood, its wise, far-sighted counsel, its knowledge of and later its sympathy with the people, had become irrevocably Italian.
It is these traits in union which distinguished the House of Savoy from other brave and capable rulers in Italy, and which, with many lapses and after many vicissitudes, at the crucial final moment, backed by the might of the important strategic patrimony which was their dowry, and the effective army which it built up, made the House of Savoy the constitutional sovereigns of United Italy.
All this, however, was later on and after long stress and struggle during which the warrior qualities more than their liberalism distinguished the Dukes of Savoy and the Kings of Piedmont and Sardinia. In many other Italian states progressive ideas during the eighteenth century made more advance than in Piedmont, Venice or Rome.
The French Revolution blew across the Alps with the Young Bonaparte at the head of its armies, first as the head of the revolutionary armies, then as conqueror, and later as Dictator and Emperor. When the blast first came there was talk of a union of Italy for defense, but it could not be.
Piedmont had made a league with Austria (1792) for defense, but the genius of Napoleon, finding a fit instrument in the spirit of freedom in his soldiers, swept everything before it. Before he was through he took Nice and Savoy from Piedmont, he took Lombardy from Austria, overthrew Venice, and gave it temporarily to Austria to govern; bore off the Pope to Fontainebleau, took away his Temporal power and changed Rome into a republic; formed the small states south of Piedmont into a republic, and did the same for Naples as an experiment. Much of this was temporary; and finally, before he was through and after he became Emperor in 1805, he formed the northern part of Italy into the “Kingdom of Italy,” of which he crowned himself King. A year later, in 1806, he dissolved the Holy Roman Empire, took back Venice, and forced the Emperor of Austria, Francis II, to renounce the imperial crown. Napoleon’s final downfall came in 1815; and the great Powers of Europe had already begun to provide for parcelling out his assets.
The Congress of Vienna (September, 1814, to June, 1815), which met pursuant to the decision of the Congress of Paris, May 30, 1814, to provide for the redistribution of Napoleon’s conquests and, as was believed, to provide for the establishment of the European equilibrium which should forever prevent a repetition of what had threatened to be the conquest of the world, re parcelled arbitrarily the whole of Napoleon’s conquests, including Italy.
The Congress of Vienna had in view several aims: to restore peace and to establish the rule of the Powers in Europe; to prevent the recurrence of the Napoleonic régime and to preserve forever the divine dynastic rights of the reigning rulers of the Great Powers participating therein. To accomplish the first it was deemed necessary to create what came to be known as the European equilibrium. To accomplish the second it was declared by the Agreement of Paris that the Napoleonic House should never again rule; and for the third, as well as the second purpose, it provided the obligations to watch and the right to intervene to prevent any change in the governments recognized by the signatory powers as established by divine right. Incidentally, each country strove to increase its own possessions and power and there was much intriguing among the representatives.
Austria, which gave up her distant provinces in Belgium and her provinces in southern Germany, got back her Polish possessions and was given the Lombardo-Venetian Kingdom; the Tyrol and Salzburg, and the Illyrian provinces along the eastern Adriatic. The rest of Italy fell under Austrian influence. It has been well said that the work done in Paris in completion of the Congress of Vienna was wise enough; but wise with that and the narrow wisdom of diplomatists who understand the secret thoughts of Princes, but ignore the sentiments of Peoples.
The structure, solid enough otherwise, had basic weaknesses. One was that it left out of consideration the great waterway of the eastern Mediterranean, and the existence of the Ottoman rule, extended over the great Balkan peninsula and holding the entire north of Africa. The other was of more immediate import. It took no account of the sentiment of the Peoples whom the powers in Congress undertook to assign as so many cattle. They were simply bartered away, as was said, as though it were a cattle fair.
The Congress did, indeed, discuss the means of meeting this last difficulty, and supposed they had provided for it. The Tzar brought forward his plan for a great alliance of Christian sovereigns in one grand European family of States, fortified by the authority of public opinion; and out of this sprang the “Holy Alliance.” But, on the other hand, Austria, through Metternich, the champion of Dynastic Right, stood for the power of the rulers as against the people, and provided for the right of intervention and suppression of all that might endanger the principles of absolutism. And the Holy Alliance, conceived originally, perhaps, with no ignoble aim, became under Metternich’s guiding hand as fit an instrument of tyranny as ever suppressed the liberties of states or peoples.
The Congress of Vienna (1814-15), which set to work to redistribute Napoleon’s conquests, re parcelled Italy arbitrarily, reserving only the principle of divine heredity among the petty rulers. This redistribution left Austria potent, if not supreme, in Italy. North of the Bourbon confines she ruled with a heavy hand, and a system of spying and repression which was to bear cruel fruit. Parma and Modena were also under hand and lash.
In Tuscany her influence was dominant, though the Grand Duke, personally kind and paternal, gave his subjects more peace. In Rome her influence was paramount, as indeed it was in Naples, where the Bourbons returned, neither forgetting nor learning. “The will of Austria was supreme from Venice to Naples,” and throughout her Italian provinces she established a despotism as sheer as ever trampled down a people. The Italian National consciousness had, however, vivified, and it remained alive. To do so was a proof of its immortal vigor.
The downfall of Napoleon and the rise to power of Austria raised a force against not only freedom but all liberalism of ideas, which would have extinguished any spirit less than immortal. Germany had failed, partly because of her division and the intractable jealousy among her States. The loose German Confederation of thirty-eight States was impotent for united defense. Now, out of the welter of small States and Principalities, had emerged two strong States: Prussia, with her reorganized army, and stronger yet, Austria, which under her dominant Chancellor, Metternich, was determined to control Europe, and so did till Prussia, under an even greater Chancellor, despoiled her. In Germany Liberty made a brave fight; but Austria, under Metternich’s guiding hand, crushed it inexorably. An effort was made toward union; but Metternich and the Austrian power mistrusted union as much as liberalism. Spain and Southern Italy, who had wrung from their restored tyrants constitutions granting their peoples some measure of Self-government, were crushed by the relentless forces of Absolutism, backed by the inexorable authority of the power Metternich had created. And their Kings, restored to their Absolutism by the Holy Alliance, proceeded to justify their patron’s confidence by rooting out, so far as possible, the last vestige of free ideas within their confines. Greece revolted in 1820, and through the sympathy of Christendom secured a footing from which to make further progress as time passed.
But, though princes and ministers may propose and ordain, peoples often dispose. Liberty, pinned down by bayonets, was still alive. Though the revolutions which broke out in Naples and in Spain in 1820 and 1825, demanding constitutions, were sternly suppressed through the instruments of Austrian intervention provided for by Metternich’s plan, the spirit was unsubdued.
The tides of Liberty and of Reaction ebb and flow with a singular periodicity, and apparently the high tide and the low tide cover, roughly speaking, from twenty to thirty years. Happily, in the history of civilization each flood tide of progress rises in the main higher than the preceding one, and the ebb is not quite so low as that which went before. This gradual progress earns its name, and in the long run Liberty advances, and the World advances with it, however imperceptible may be the degree of each step.
The despotism and excesses of the rulers of Italy created in the hearts of the Italians an enmity so bitter and enduring that it became an inspiration, permeating, it may be said, the whole Italian people, to achieve their liberty and their union. Long afterward Gladstone, in a letter describing the rule of one of them, the King of the Sicilies, spoke of it as “the Negation of God created into a system of government ,” a phrase which has become famous. This phrase might have been applied, with little modification, to the rule of all of them. The very despotism, however, in which they indulged was its own destruction, for it was so intolerable that it inspired a spirit of bitter resentment and antagonism which eventually led to their overthrow. The Italian people were, indeed, accustomed to revolt. It was their only recourse, and it saved them from extinction. Whenever they found the rule of their tyrants too oppressive, no matter what the cost to themselves, they had, through the centuries, broken out in revolt; for deep in their hearts was an incurable love of freedom, if not of independence. It was this tendency which made the long wars of the Guelfs and the Ghibellines possible. It spoke in its time through the “Carbonari” and “Young Italy.” It continues to express itself to-day, even when liberty has been attained, in the Mafia and in the Umana, and it has, to some extent, become a trait of the Italian character. But it should be considered that without these traits and tendencies the Italian people might not have survived.
Yet whatever may have happened in the past, nothing could have appeared more unlikely, toward the end of the first quarter of the last century, than that Italy, trampled down and bound as she was beneath her foreign yokes, could have emancipated herself.
It befell, in the providence of God, that in the beginning of the last century there were raised up four Italians widely different in station, in training, and in method, but all inspired by one motive: the liberation of Italy from Foreign subjugation, and the union of all the Italian people under an Italian Government. They were---to name them in the order of their station: Victor Emmanuel II, the great “Victor Emmanuel,” the hereditary Prince of the House of Savoy, the royal House of the King of Sardinia and Piedmont; Count Camillo Cavour, a cadet of a noble family in Piedmont; Giuseppe Mazzini, a member of a gentle family in Genoa; and Giuseppe Garibaldi, the son of an Italian boatman and fisherman of Nice. Taken together, Providence has rarely formed a more fitting instrument for the achievement of liberty than this diverse and widely separated quartet of leaders, and, although it was long before they were brought together and their joint work was applied to the achievement of their joint aim, they must be taken together; for without all four it is possible that there would be no Kingdom of Italy to-day. It has been well said that Mazzini was the soul, Cavour was the brain, and Garibaldi was the sword of the Italian Risorgimento.(5) And it may be added that Victor Emmanuel partook of the endowment of all three, and was the crown which united them. Giuseppe Mazzini was born in 1805, Giuseppe Garibaldi was two years his junior, Camillo Cavour was born in 1810, and Victor Emmanuel was born in 1820.
At that time nearly all of the public rights which freemen prize were banned: newspapers were forbidden; the printing-press was shackled; freedom of speech was a crime whose infraction was met with instant punishment. Independence of views, even intelligence of a high order, were objects of suspicion. Young Mazzini was confined in the fortress of Savona, and young Cavour was banished to the mountain fortress of Bard. Silvio Pellico was in the Austrian prison of the Spielberg with other Italian patriots, and the “Piombi” and the dungeons of every Italian State were filled with political prisoners whose most probable escape in some States was by route of the gallows. Silvio Pellico was the inmate of so many prisons that he wrote a famous book, now an Italian classic, entitled My Prisons.
Said the Governor of Genoa, when the father of Giuseppe Mazzini protested against his son’s imprisonment until some charge against him should be proved: “Your son is a young man of some talent, and is too fond of walking alone at night deep in thought. What on earth has one to think of at his age? We do not like young people to think unless we know the subject of their thoughts.”
The spirit of liberty in Italy, banned by the rulers, had resulted in the forming of a great secret society named “Carbonari,” from the charcoal-burners who lived and performed their work in the forests. It was one of those secret organizations rendered necessary by the repressive vigilance of the rulers. It extended throughout Italy. One thing common to all the governments was tyranny and suppression, and it had the effect of creating a common cause in the hearts of the people of all the States.
In view of the determination of Austria to extend and perpetuate her sway over her subject peoples, at whatever cost, the differences were irreconcilable. Italy’s dream was nationality and independence. Austria’s fixed resolve was imperial domination and subjection. Austria had bound the King of the Two Sicilies by a pledge never to grant any liberties to his people inconsistent with the principles on which the Austrian Emperor governed his Italian provinces. It was the type of her dealing with all Italy. She put her principles into practice in a way which would have created Revolution, even if the seeds of Revolution had not been already vivified. Her system was one which could only be maintained by the bayonet and the gallows. But her representatives in Italy, knowing only the rule of terror, made that system more odious through sheer brutality than it might otherwise have been. “Send me the hangman,” wrote the Duke of Parma when he had been restored by Austrian bayonets to his dukedom after a revolution which had driven him out.
Women were whipped publicly; families were made to witness the execution of their loved ones, who had engaged actively in revolutions. The bill for the rope with which a young patriot was executed was sent by the authorities to his mother for payment.
It was such acts of folly and brutality as these, even more than the penalty inflicted, that permeated the Italian people and created in their hearts a universal and undying hatred of Austria and of those who obeyed her odious commands. It was in Naples that the first explosion came. Liberty was making strides elsewhere in Europe, and Spain, rising against medievalism had obtained a constitution which was deemed a model.
Next, Revolution made its appearance in Piedmont, and though abortive it bore rich fruit in the future. It must be mentioned as bearing on Italy’s course down even to the present day. In the early Napoleonic days (1802) Charles Emmanuel of Savoy abdicated the throne of Sardinia and, leaving his brother, Victor Emmanuel I, to succeed him, retired to Rome and entered the Society of Jesus. Victor Emmanuel’s only son died, leaving Charles Felix, Duke of Genoa, the King’s younger brother, heir apparent to the throne. Charles Felix, however, was childless, and the heir presumptive was Charles Albert, Prince of Carignano, head of a younger branch of the House of Savoy---a youth who had imbibed some liberal principles, and who was spoken of by the Queen of Sardinia as “the little vagrant.” After certain vicissitudes Charles Albert was married to Maria Teresa, daughter of the Archduke of Tuscany, and on the 14th of March, 1820, a son was born to them whom they named Victor Emmanuel, and who in time was to become the first King of Italy.
In the meantime, Austrian influences held Piedmont in their reactionary grip. In the spring of 1821 a Revolution broke out in Piedmont and the people demanded “the Spanish Constitution.” King Victor Emmanuel I abdicated and Charles Albert was appointed Regent until the heir apparent, Charles Felix, who was at Modena, could arrive. Charles Albert permitted---possibly he was compelled to permit---the demanded constitution to be proclaimed, subject to the orders of the King when they should arrive. When the orders came they banished him from the capital---first to Novara, and then to Tuscany. When Charles Felix himself arrived, he came backed by an Austrian army, which defeated decisively the constitutionalist troops, who had followed Charles Albert to Novara, and soon afterwards he had driven all the liberals and constitutionalists into exile,
He, indeed, set about punishing the revolutionists with so ruthless a hand that the ex-Sovereign, Victor Emmanuel I, wrote from his retreat, begging him to be more merciful. The new King replied that he was ready to hand back the crown to his brother if he wished it, but so long as he was sovereign he would rule as such. “The King, as appointed by God,” said he, “is the sole judge of what is best for the people, and the first duty of a loyal subject is not to complain.” Such was the Austrian teaching.
Lombardy was expected to rise, but the leader of the patriots of Lombardy, Count Confalonieri, was arrested and sent to the Spielberg. Indeed, the spirit of Revolution stirred from one end of the peninsula to the other.
The next ten years were years of seething, of preparation, and of suppression throughout Italy. Austria ruled Italy, and Metternich ruled Austria. Four of the Italian States, Tuscany, Lucca, Parma, and Modena, were under Austrian rulers. The Papal States, under Pope Gregory XVI, and Naples, under Ferdinand I and Francis, were ruled with the aid of Austrian bayonets.
The rule in the Papal States was not unnaturally in accord with the Austrian principles, exercised in her conquered provinces. It was only better in that the ruler was an Italian and not a foreigner, and Italians were accustomed to recognize the Papal rule. However, it was so bad that, in the Papal States as elsewhere, liberty, crushed to earth, burst forth in revolution. It could not now be wholly suppressed. And Austria, had she known it, was contributing to it. “From her universal interference, sprang one of the strongest reasons for unity---and Ciro Menotte, Beazio Nardi, and others were now dreaming of this unity---of an Italy, one sole nation, from the Alps to the sea,” free and independent. It was in 1831 (April 27) that Charles Albert, of the younger branch of the House of Savoy, came to the throne of Sardinia, he having been previously required by Charles Felix to sign an agreement binding himself to preserve intact, during his reign, the laws and principles in force at his accession.
Also about the same time came into the leadership of the ideas of Progress Giuseppe Mazzini. As a boy in Genoa an appeal on the street for aid for the refugees of Italy---driven from their homes by Austrians, or by tyranny supported by Austria---gave him his career. Thus, Austria brought into being this leader of the forces of revolution and of Italian unity, as she was to bring into being that leader of revolutionary armies: Giuseppe Garibaldi. Mazzini started the organization, “Young Italy,” to which he gave a sort of devout, religious spirit, and which was to prove one of the most efficient agencies for the diffusion of the principles of freedom and the idea of union. These were the guiding principles of his life---spent largely in exile, but always informed with a passion for Italian freedom and unity. A dreamer who dreamed of the return of the ancient Roman Republic; an idealist who held that the World was governed by principles, and that “great revolutions are the work of principles, not of bayonets,” he was uncompromising in his views. Following his teaching came those who, like Garibaldi, were both ready and able to put his principles in practice with the bayonet.
A little later than when he started “Young Italy,” Mazzini was released from prison, and he wrote a famous letter to the new King, calling upon him to declare himself the leader of the patriots throughout Italy; to recognize his destiny; to free Italy from the Austrians; to place himself at the head of the nation, and write on his flag, “Union, Liberty, and Independence.” Mazzini was exiled, and settled at Marseilles, where, “in the bitterness of which only the exile knows,” he matured his plans for a revolution and for the emancipation of Italy. He became a republican; for Genoa had been a Republic until Napoleon had changed it, and later the masters at the Congress of Vienna had assigned it to the Kingdom of Sardinia.
“Young Italy” spread like wild-fire throughout the peninsula. Among its new recruits was young Giuseppe Garibaldi., now a captain in the merchant-service, from which he soon resigned to join the Sardinian navy at Genoa as a common sailor, with the view of bringing the sailors into the revolutionary movement. The revolution was planned and, indeed, broke out in Parma, Modena, and in Romagna, a part of the Papal dominion; but it was promptly suppressed by Austria.
The plans of “Young Italy” having failed, Garibaldi escaped and sailed to South America, where he served his well-known apprenticeship in the South American campaigns in the war between Argentina and Uruguay, and took part in the defense at the siege of Montevideo. Other patriots were arrested and hanged; still others were banished. So the time passed, and Italy was once more sunk in the misery of suppressed revolution, and Austria ruled, directly or indirectly, the Italian people, and ground them down until along toward the end of the forties
In 1845 the great powers had found their programme not so permanent as they had imagined, and Russia, trying to break through to the Mediterranean, found herself confronted not only by the Ottoman Empire, but by her former colleagues in the Congress of Vienna, by the French Empire, and by the King of Sardinia and Piedmont. The result was the failure of Russia’s plan, and the admission of the Ottoman Empire into the circle of those protected by the European equilibrium.
From this misery Revolution once more gathered head, and the fires so long banked burst forth anew. It was the year ‘48 in which the tide of liberty once more rose throughout Europe. In France, in Italy, in Austria itself, in the ancient Kingdom of Poland, and in the ancient Kingdom of Bohemia, the standard of revolution and of liberty was once more raised.(6)
Mazzini, in what he termed his “long, lingering death-agony of exile,” had kept the flame alive in Italy and among Italians everywhere, and in the winter of 1847-48 and the spring of 1848, the news reached Montevideo of the patriot movement in Lombardy and its aim to wrest Lombardy from Austrian rule; and Garibaldi, gathering his Italian friends about him, set sail for Nice, where they arrived June 23 of that year. He was, indeed, as his friend Anzani said when dying, “a man of destiny, on whom depended, to a great extent, the future of Italy.”
Meantime, Charles Albert, wavering between two opinions, had turned once more toward Liberty, and some liberty having been granted the press, young Camillo Cavour, who had long resigned from the army and applied himself to agriculture and to political study, building up his father’s property on the Leri, and incidentally building up ideas for a United and Independent Italy, started, with the help of Massimo d’Azeglio and other liberals, a journal which they termed, “Risorgimento “(The Resurrection), which was devoted to the demand for a Constitution and a Parliament for the Kingdom of Sardinia and Piedmont.
The House of Hapsburg still controlled Italy and ruled in Lombardy as ruthlessly as ever. In March, 1848, Milani which was held by Marshal Radetsky, with some 20,000 Austrian troops, rose in revolt and, after five days of fighting, with no weapons save those which a population held down by military force is permitted to have, the Austrian troops were driven from Milan, and all Lombardy flamed into revolt. Now, Radetsky was a Jugo-Slav. He was a capital general and a stern governor, and had put a finish on his long career of cruel repression of the Italians by the threat to turn his soldiers loose upon the town. It was this which caused the barricades of Milan to spring up in a night.
The Milanese, in the midst of their furious fighting, sent an appeal to Turin for help from one who was an Italian---the only Italian ruler in Italy save the Pope---the King of Sardinia and Piedmont. It was in response to this appeal that Cavour wrote his famous article in the Risorgimento. Cavour was a liberal, but not a revolutionist. He was also a monarchist, and on March 23 he declared in his paper: “The supreme hour for the monarchy of Savoy has struck, the hour for firm decision, the hour on which the fate of empires and peoples depends.” He called for “War, instant war.” And within twenty-four hours the War of Independence was declared
On March 25 the Piedmontese crossed the river Ticino into Lombardy at Pavia. It looked for the time as though Italy might be freed. In June, 1846, a new Pope had been elected to succeed Gregory XVI---Pius IX; and it had seemed almost as though Rome might once more become the leader of Italy.
Jealousy of the King of Sardinia as leader of a great Italian movement which might lead to the union of the Italian states, led the Pope, Pius IX, and even the King of Naples, to despatch forces to help drive out the Austrians. And the Venetians, under Daniel Manin, were preparing to go to place themselves under the standard of Charles Albert. From Parma, Modena, and Tuscany came volunteers, and, in the beginning, brilliant victories were gained at Goito (April 8), at Pastrengo (April 30), and at Santa Lucia (May 6). The fortress of Peschiera fell into the hands of the Italians; the Austrians were driven out of Como, Brescia, and Bergamo, and the government’ of Vienna even showed signs of offering terms to Charles Albert. But the triumph was of short duration. Marshal Radetsky was an able general. The papal troops were recalled before crossing the papal borders; the Neapolitans never arrived and were never intended to arrive, and toward the end of April Pope Pius published an encyclical declaring himself neutral, and regretting that, with affection for peoples, races, and nations, he could not continue, and the papal troops were withdrawn.
On March 17 the Venetians hoisted the tricolor standard and, electing Daniel Manin as their leader, wrung from the Austrians the permission to form a national guard. They had no arms, so the Austrian civil governor, Count Palfy, felt perfectly safe; but the Italian workmen in the arsenal killed the Austrian commander, overpowered the guard, and opened the gate to Daniel Manin, whereupon the Austrians evacuated the town, the ancient standard of St. Mark was unfurled before the Duomo, and the Venetian Republic was once more proclaimed.
Radetsky received all the reinforcements he needed, and on July 24 the decisive battle of Custozza was fought, in which the Italians, wretchedly handled, were completely defeated, and from then on---in the pursuit to Milan, to which Charles Albert had retreated, and on through Milan ---it was only a question of enlarging the Austrian gains. Finally, on the night of August 5, Charles Albert set out on foot, a fugitive from Milan, to escape possible death at the hands of the Milanese.
Thus ended the first campaign of the War of Liberation, but nearly all Italy had been united in this war, that is, nearly the whole people of Italy. But, notwithstanding the defeat of Custozza, the idea of fusion and even of union had made headway. The people of Lombardy and of Venetia, of Parma and Modena had voted in favor of Union, and these states had offered to acknowledge Charles Albert as their sovereign.
Italians had shown themselves able to meet and beat Austrian troops who had hitherto been considered invincible by them. The Italian defeats were set down, and properly, to their generals. Moreover, Italians from every state and from every rank of life had fought in the same ranks against the common foe, and the feeling of what Italians term “Italianità,” a feeling of racial and of national unity, had been enlarged and deepened. The Sicilies, the Papal Dominions, and Tuscany were not in the movement for fusion, but many of their people turned with a quickened sense to the idea.
Sicily was still aflame with revolt, and the Neapolitan troops were driven out of Sicily except from the citadel of Messina. The parliament set up in Palermo demanded a King, and asked for Charles Albert’s second son, the Duke of Genoa; but the defeat of Custozza decided the fate of this movement, and King Ferdinand bombarded the town of Messina, and reduced it to ruins, acquiring for himself the sobriquet of King “Bomba.”
After this, Sicily was once more overpowered and subjugated; but not for long; for the spirit of liberty was now awake throughout Italy. For a while it appeared to have the cordial support of the Pope himself, and patriotic friars preached in Rome and Bologna the doctrine of liberty. But the time was not ripe for this, and with startling suddenness Pope Pius, alarmed at the progress that Liberty was making, and possibly falling under the influence of reactionaries stronger than himself , withdrew himself from the National cause, and orders were sent forth to silence the friars and the clericals. To show that his liberal views still remained, the Pope appointed as his prime minister a liberal Italian, Count Rossi; but Rossi was murdered on the steps of the Parliament House by, it is said, a son of the popular leader, Rignetti; the papal palace itself was attacked by a mob, and the Pope, a few nights later, fled in disguise to Gaëta, where he put himself under the protection of the King of Naples.
Here he was later joined by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who had taken umbrage at the movement within his dominions to unite the Tuscan and Roman provinces in one republic.
In March, 1849, the armistice that had been declared between Charles Albert and Austria expired, and eight days later the Piedmont army again took the field, commanded this time by a Pole, General Chrzanowsky, whose second in command was General Ramorino. Radetsky also promptly took the field and on March 23, 1849, at Novara, a decisive engagement took place in which the Austrians, having been given time to bring up their reserves, defeated the Italians, and Charles Albert was forced once more to beg for an armistice. The terms proposed were such that the King felt that the only way to save his country was to follow the example of his uncle; and that night he abdicated in favor of his son, Victor Emmanuel, the Duke of Savoy, and, passing in disguise through the Austrian lines, he turned the kingdom over to one who, though a youth, proved one of the great leaders and statesmen of his time---Victor Emmanuel II.
The next morning the young King met Radetsky, who received him with courtesy, offering to make peace and cement a friendship with him on two conditions: first, that he would recall the Constitution granted by his father; secondly, that he would not fly the Tricolor flag, but only the standard of the House of Savoy. Victor Emmanuel’s reply was: “I shall preserve intact the Institutions granted by my father; and I will uphold the symbol of Italian nationality, the Tricolor flag. Vanquished to-day, it will yet triumph.”
The other conditions he was forced to accept, and Lombardy and Venice were once more surrendered to Austria. But as he rode away from the field of the lost battle, it is said that he exclaimed: “Italia serà”---“ Italy shall be.”
That Charles Albert was a waverer seems to have been due to the conflict of his sympathies with his people and his ambition to extend the Kingdom of Sardinia by clearing out the Austrians, and on the other hand to his apprehension of Austria’s power---and almost equally, of Revolution. He gave Italy her charter in giving it to Piedmont, and he never took it back, however urged by Austria to do so---as Ferdinand of Naples did that which he gave his people. And furthermore, at the last he fought her battles, however blunderingly and unsuccessfully, and when he lost he relinquished his crown and gave it to his son, the great Victor Emmanuel II, first King of Italy.
His last public utterance as he left the borders of Savoy was to the Governor of Nice: “In whatever time, in whatever place a regular government raises the flag of war with Austria, the Austrians will find me among their enemies as a simple soldier.” It was the sentiment of Italy from one end to the other, at least outside of Rome, and of every class from the King to the plainest peasant. Austria was too powerful for them at the time, and the exiled or threatened rulers were by her aid restored to power. But Austria had consolidated against her all the intellectual forces of Italy, save those whom she sustained against Italy. Her prisons were full of Italian patriots; other countries were refuges for Italian exiles; and her records were red with the blood of Italian victims, martyrs for Liberty. Nor was it wholly Italy’s loss that in these years she stood alone. Time had been when she had to look to others for support needed to sustain herself. The props had proved worse than feeble---they had fallen away. Now she looked to herself. Farà da sè was the new principle.