Thursday, 25 November 2010


his , 1864, was marked by an incident which, though not a political event, should never be forgotten in the history of Italian liberation—Garibaldi's visit to England. He came, the prisoner of Aspromonte, not the conqueror of Sicily: a distinction that might have made a difference elsewhere, but the English sometimes worship misfortune as other peoples worship success.
 No sovereign from oversea was ever received by them as they received the Italian hero; a reception showing the sympathies of a century rather than the caprice or curiosity of an hour.
Half a million throats shouted London's welcome; the soldier of two worlds knew the roar of battle, and the roar of the sea was familiar to the Nizzard sailor, but it is said that when Garibaldi heard the stupendous and almost awful British roar which greeted him as he came out of the Nine Elms station,
and took his seat in the carriage that was to convey him to Stafford House, he looked completely disconcerted. From the heir to the throne to the crossing-sweeper, all combined to do him honour; where Garibaldi was not, through the breadth of the land the very poor bought his portrait and pasted it on their whitewashed cottage walls. London made him its citizen. The greatest living English poet invited him to plant a tree in his garden: a memory he recalled nearly at the close of his own honoured life:—London 1864

Or watch the waving pine which here

The warrior of Caprera set,

A name that earth shall not forget

Till earth has rolled her latest year.

nine elms

Garibaldi showed himself mindful of old friends; at the opera he recognised Admiral Mundy in a box, and immediately rose and went to offer him his respects.
At Portsmouth, he not only went to see the mother of Signora White-Mario (the providence of his wounded in many a campaign), but also paid an unrecorded visit to two maiden sisters in humble circumstances, who had shown him kindness when he was an exile in England; they related ever afterwards the sensation caused by his appearance in their narrow courtyard, where it was difficult to turn the big carriage which the authorities had placed at his disposal.
He twice met the great Italian whom he addressed as Master: transferring, as it were, to Mazzini's brows the crown of glory that surrounded his own. Another exile, Louis Blanc, used to tell how, when he went to call on Garibaldi, he found him seated on a sofa, receiving the homage of the fairest and most illustrious members of the English aristocracy; when the Friend of the People was announced (a title deserved by Louis Blanc, if not for his possibly fallacious theories, still for the rare sincerity of his life), the hero started to his feet and most earnestly begged him to sit beside him. 'Which I could not do!' the narrator of the scene would add with a look of comical alarm for his threatened modesty.
deym the Austrian ambassador

These friendly passages with the proscripts in London, as well as the stirring appeal spoken by Garibaldi on behalf of the Poles, did not please foreign Powers. The Austrian ambassador shut himself up in his house; it was remarked that the only members of the diplomatic body  who were seen at the Garibaldi fêtes were the representatives of the United States and of the Sublime Porte.
The Emperor Napoleon was said to be angry. Lord Palmerston assured the House of Commons that no remonstrance had been received from France or from any foreign government, and that if it had been received, it would not have been heeded.
Yet the English Government took the course of hinting to the guest of England that his visit had lasted long enough. In some quarters it was reported that they feared disturbances among the Irish operatives in the manufacturing towns, had he gone, as he intended, to the north.
Whatever were the motives that inspired it, their action in the matter cannot be remembered with complacency, but it was powerless to undo the significance of the great current of enthusiasm which had passed through the English land.
The change of capital was carried out in 1865, and the lull which followed gave an appearance of correctness to the surmise that if the September Convention had not solved the Roman question, it had, anyhow, reduced it to a state of quiescence. But there were other reasons why Rome was kept, for the moment, not indeed out of mind, but out of sight.
 The opinion grew that the emancipation of Venice, too long delayed, ought to take precedence of every other political object. On this point there was no disagreement among the 22,000,000 free Italians, who felt the servitude of Venice to be an hourly disgrace and reproach; no one even ventured to preach patience.
 A curious chapter might be written on the schemes woven between the Peace of Villafranca and the year 1866, for the realisation of the unfulfilled promise of freedom from Alps to sea.
 Foremost among the schemers was Victor Emmanuel, and if some persons may be shocked by the idea of a royal conspirator, more will admire the patriotism which made the King hold out his hand to Mazzini, whose sentiments about monarchy, and especially about the Savoy dynasty, were a secret to no one, least of all to him. prussian dragoons
But as Mazzini placed those sentiments on second rank to the grand end of Italian unity, so the King, to serve the same end, showed himself superior to prejudices which in most men would have proved insuperable. The fact that Victor Emmanuel opened negotiations with Mazzini, and maintained them, off and on, for years, proves amongst other things, that he knew the exiled patriot better than the world yet knew him. He may have understood that by turning republican sympathies into the groove of unity (not their necessary or even their most natural groove), Mazzini made an Italian kingdom possible.
There is reason to think that the King's ministers were kept entirely ignorant of his correspondence with the Agitator. The letters were impersonal drafts carried to and fro by means of trusted emissaries; each party freely expounded his views, and stated the terms on which his support could be given.
Victor Emmanuel's favourite idea was a revolution in Galicia. When Garibaldi returned from England he was nearly commissioned to start for Constantinople, whence he was to lead an expedition through Roumania into Galicia.
It seems to have been due to Garibaldi's own good sense that so extremely unpromising a project was abandoned. General Klapka was another of Victor Emmanuel's secret revolutionary correspondents. The very wildness of the plans that floated in the air betokened the feverish anxiety to do something which had taken hold of all minds.

In 1865 a scheme of a different sort, and of momentous consequences, grew into shape. It was a scheme of which Cavour first guessed the possibility, as well as the far-reaching results.
 In August 1865 Count Bismarck asked General La Marmora whether Italy would join Prussia in the contingency of a war with Austria? Only a year before he was still thinking of carrying out his policy with the aid of Austria, and he had offered to help her to wrench Lombardy from Italy (and from France if she intervened), in payment for her consent to his designs. But now, though the Austrians did not even remotely suspect it, his thoughts were resolutely turned to the Italian alliance. Without this alliance Italy might, indeed, have acquired Venice, but would the German Empire have been founded?
prussian infantry by zinnfiguren italy as are the others

For a time the proposal was suspended, owing to the temporary understanding concluded between Prussia and Austria at Gastein; and in the interim, General La Marmora urged the Viennese Government to cede Venetia in return for a compensation of five hundred million francs. But those whom the gods would destroy they make mad. Austria preserved her infatuated sense of security almost till the rude awakening caused by the rifle-shots that ushered in the campaign of Sadowa.

One thing which contributed to keeping Europe in the dark as to the impending cataclysm was the character and known tendencies of King William I.(below) of Prussia, whose conservative, not to say retrograde sentiments made it difficult to picture him at the head of what was really a great revolutionary movement, in spite of the militarism that surrounded it.
With consummate art, Count Bismarck little by little concentrated all his master's ideas about royal divinity in general into one overwhelming belief in his own divine right to be German Emperor, and so transformed an obstacle into the corner-stone of the edifice he wished to build. But this could hardly be foreseen. At the New Year's Day reception of 1866, Napoleon announced an era of universal peace; henceforth all nations were to arrange their differences amicably, as had been done at If the illusion was complete, it was destined to be of short duration.

la marmora

In the spring the Prussian proposal to Italy was formally renewed, and this time it was accepted. The secret treaty of an offensive and defensive alliance for three months was signed on the 8th of April. Less than three weeks later, Austria, which was slowly beginning to feel some uneasiness, proposed to Napoleon the cession of Venetia, while exacting from Italy only a simple promise of neutrality in case of war. General La Marmora held the honour of the country and his own to compel fidelity to the prior arrangement with Prussia, and he refused the tempting offer. His choice has been variously characterised as one of common honesty and of uncommon magnanimity; at all events, it was of incalculable advantage to Prussia, which already gave signs of not being a particularly delicate-minded ally. When La Marmora asked Bismarck whether, in case Austria took the initiative of attacking Italy, Prussia would intervene, the answer was 'No.'

The three countries now pushed on their war preparations: Austria with less ardour than the others, as she still failed to more than faintly realise her danger. The Italian army, which the opening of the year found in a deplorably unserviceable condition, was rapidly placed on a war-footing, and, considering the shortness of the time allowed for the work, and the secrecy with which, at the outset, it had to be conducted, it is generally agreed that La Marmora produced surprising results.
prussian regional infantry zinnfiguren

As was natural in an army which, except for the old Piedmontese nucleus, might almost be called improvised, the weakest points were the cavalry and the artillery. The infantry was good; not only the picked corps of Bersaglieri, but also the line regiments were [ equal to any troops likely to be opposed to them. No one can see the fine appearance of a line regiment marching down the streets of an Italian town without receiving the impression that, however much the other branches of the service may have improved since the Sixties, the fondest hopes of Italy in case of war still lie in that common soldier who best supported the rigours of the Russian snows.tradition

No comments:

Post a Comment