Friday, 20 March 2009

SO LITTLE DESIRE.Origins and soldiers of the war 1

The Great Powers had presented to the Court of Rome in 1831 a memorandum, in which various moderate reforms and improvements were proposed as urgently necessary to put an end to the intolerable abuses which were rife in the states of the Church, and, most of all, in Romagna. The abolition of the tribunal of the Holy Office, the institution of a Council of State, lay education, and the secularisation of the administration were among the measures recommended.
 In 1845 a certain Pietro Renzi collected a body of spirited young men at San Marino, and made a dash on Rimini, where he disarmed the small garrison. The other towns were not prepared, and Renzi and his companions were obliged to retire into Tuscany; but the revolution, partial as it had been, raised discussion in consequence of the manifesto issued by its promoters, in which a demand was made for the identical reforms vainly advocated by European diplomacy fourteen years before.
 If these were granted, the insurgents engaged to lay down their arms. The manifesto was written by Luigi pittorello nello studio 
Carlo Farini, who was destined to play a large part in future affairs. It proved to Europe that even the most conservative elements in the nation were driven to revolution by the sheer hopelessness of the dead-lock which the Italian rulers sought by every means to prolong.
hungarian cavalry 1848
 Massimo d'Azeglio, who was then known only as a painter of talent and a writer of historical novels, first made his mark as a politician by the pamphlet entitled Gli ultimi casi di Romagna, in which his arguments derived force from the fact that, when travelling in the district, he had done all in his power to induce the Liberals to keep  within the bounds of legality. But he confessed that, when someone says: 'I suffer too much,' it is an unsatisfactory answer to retort: 'You have not suffered enough.' Massimo d'Azeglio had lived for many years an artist's life in Rome and the country round, where his aristocratic birth and handsome face made him popular with all classes  and he got to know  thoroughly  the real aspirations of the Pope's subjects.
 He listened to their complaints and their plans, and if they asked his advice, he invariably replied: 'Let us speak clearly. What is it that you wish and I with you? You wish to have done with priestly rule, and to send the Teutons out of Italy? If you invite them to decamp, they will probably say, "No, thank you!" Therefore you must use force; and where is it to be had? If you have not got it, you must find somebody who has.
 In Italy who has it, or, to speak more precisely, who has a little of it? Piedmont, because it, at least, enjoys an independent life, and possesses an army and a surplus in the treasury.'
His friends answered: 'What of Charles Albert, of 1821, of 1832?' Now, there was no one who felt less trust in Charles Albert than Massimo d'Azeglio; he admitted it with something like remorse in later years. But he believed in his ambition, and he thought it madness
Volunteer Corps from original on the spot drawings
Charles Albert had reigned for fourteen years, and still the mystery which surrounded his character formed as impenetrable a veil as ever.
The popular nickname of Re Tentenna (King Waverer) was his title .' He chose, as bride for his eldest son, an Austrian princess, who, however, had known no country but Italy.
 His internal policy was not simply stationary, it was retrograde. If his consent was obtained to some progressive measure, he withdrew it at the last moment, or insisted on the introduction of modifications which nullified the whole.
His want of stability drove one of his ministers to jump out of a window. In spite of the candid reference to the Jesuit's cup of chocolate, he allowed the Society of Jesus to dictate its will in Piedmont.
 Victor Amadeus, the first King of Sardinia, took public education out of the hands of the Jesuits, after receiving the following deathbed communication from one of the Order who was his own confessor: 'Deeply sensible of your many favours, I can only show my gratitude by a final piece of advice, but of such importance that perhaps it may suffice to discharge my debt. Never have a Jesuit for confessor. Do not ask me the grounds of this advice, I should not be at liberty to tell them to you.'
The lesson was forgotten now. . The result was, that Piedmont was not a comfortable place for Liberals to live in, nor a lively place for anyone. Yet there is hardly anything more certain than that all this time the King was constantly dreaming of turning the Austrians out of Italy.
 His government kept its attention fixed on two points: the improvement of the army, and the accumulation of a reserve fund to be available in case of war. Drill and thrift, which made the German Empire out of Prussia, if they did  not lead straight to equally splendid results south of the Alps, were still what rendered it possible for Piedmont to defy Austria when the time came.

Nevertheless, to the outward world his intentions remained enigmatical, and it was therefore with extreme surprise that Massimo d'Azeglio  received the injunction to tell his Liberal friends 'that when the occasion presented itself, his life, the life of his sons, his treasure, and his army would all be spent for the Italian cause.'

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