The Court of Sardinia held the measure to be a violation of the amnesty, which was one of the conditions of the peace of 1850. The Sardinian Minister was recalled from Vienna, and the relations between the two governments were once more on a footing of open rupture.
Not less important was the moral effect of the sequestrations in France and England, but particularly in England. They acted as the last straw, coming as they did on the top of the flogging system which had already enraged the English public mind to the highest degree.
Austria, through Count Buol, complained that she was 'dying of legality,' but England took the Sardinian view that the sequestrations directly violated the treaty between the two Powers. In the Austrian Note of the 9th of March, it was distinctly declared that Piedmont would be crushed if she did not perform the part of police-agent to Austria. Cavour's uncowed attitude at this crisis was what first fixed upon him the eyes of European diplomacy.
In the course of the summer, the Duke of Genoa, Victor Emmanuel's brother, paid a visit to the English Court, where the Duke of Saxe-Coburg was also staying, by whom he was described as 'one of the cleverest and most amiable men of our time.' Sunny Italy, adds Duke Ernest, seemed to have sent him to England so that by his mere presence alone, in the prime of his age, he might make propaganda for the cause of his country. The Queen presented her guest with a handsome riding-horse, and when he thanked her in warm and feeling terms, she spoke the memorable words, the effect of which spoken at that date by the Queen of England can hardly be imagined: 'I hope you will ride this horse when the battles are fought for the liberation of Italy.'
Panerai.Patrol 1885. See how little the Italian uniforms had changed
The battle-day was indeed to come, but when it came the sword which the young Duke wielded with such gallantry in the siege of Peschiera would be sheathed for ever. The Prince Charming of Casa Savoia died in February 1855, leaving a daughter to Italy, the beloved Queen Margaret.
The commentary which came from the Vatican was the decree of major excommunication promulgated in the Consistory of the 27th of July against all who had approved or sanctioned the measure, or who were concerned in putting it into execution.
The law was known as the 'Rattazziana,' from Urbano Rattazzi, whom Cavour appointed Minister of Grace and Justice, thereby effecting a coalition between the Right Centre, which he led himself, and the Left Centre, which was led by Rattazzi; an alliance not pleasing to the Pure Right or to the Advanced Left, but necessary to give the Prime Minister sufficient strength to command the respect, both at home and abroad, which can only be won by a statesman who is not afraid of being overturned by every whiff of the parliamentary wind. The 'Legge Rattazziana' certainly aimed at asserting the supremacy of the state, but in substance it was an arrangement for raising the stipend of the poorer clergy at the expense of the richer benefices and corporations, and save for the bitter animosity of Rome, it would not have excited the degree of anger that descended upon its promoters. Below Skirmish between Italian and Austrians
In these days, Cavour came to an understanding with a friendly monk in order that when his last hour arrived, he should not, like Santa Rosa, go unshriven to his account. In 1861, Fra Giacomo performed his part in the agreement, and was duly punished for having saved his Church from a scandal which, from the position of the great minister, would have reached European dimensions.
Cavour's work of bringing into order the Sardinian finances, which, from the flourishing state they had attained prior to 1848, had fallen into what appeared the hopeless confusion of a large and steadily increasing deficit, is not to the ordinary observer his most brilliant achievement, but it is possibly the one for which he deserves most praise.
It could not have been carried through except by a statesman who was completely indifferent to the applause of the hour.
During all the earlier years that he held office, Cavour was extraordinarily unpopular. The nickname of 'la bestia neira' conferred on him by Victor Emmanuel referred to the opinion entertained of him by the Clerical party, but he was almost as much a 'bestia neira' to a large portion of the Liberals as to the Clericals or to the old Piedmontese party. His house was attacked by the mob in 1853, and had not his servants barred the entrance, something serious might have occurred.
Happily the King and the majority in the Chamber and in the country had, if not much love for Cavour, a profound conviction that he could not be done without, and that, consequently, he must be allowed to do what he liked. Thus the large sacrifices he demanded of the taxpayers were regularly voted, and Cavour could afford to despise the abuse heaped upon himself since he saw his policy advancing to maturity along a steady line of success.