The volunteers, so many of whose comrades lay dead along the mountain gorges—who believed, too, that they were in sight of the reward of their sacrifices—were thrown into a ferment, almost into a revolt by the order to retreat. They had expected in a day or two to shake hands with Medici, who, after some hard fighting, was within a march of Trento. The order was explicit: instant evacuation of the enemy's territory. Garibaldi, to whom from first to last had fallen an ungrateful part, took up his pen and wrote the laconic telegram: 'Obbedisco.' 'I have obeyed,' he said to the would-be mutineers, 'do you obey likewise.' Someone murmured 'Rome.' 'Yes,' said the chief, 'we will march on Rome.
The armistice was signed at Cormons on the 12th of August, and the treaty of peace on the 3rd of October at Vienna. Italy received Venice from the hands of the French Emperor, whose interference since the beginning of the campaign had incensed Prussia against her ally without benefiting the Power which he affected and, perhaps, really meant to serve. Italy would have received Venetia without his interposition, for besides the Prussian obligation to claim it for her, Austria had no further wish to keep it. Despite the fact that Italian populations still remained under the rule of the Empire, the melancholy book of Austrian dominion in Italy might be fairly said to be closed forever. A new era was dawning for the House of Hapsburg, which was to show that, unlike the Bourbons, it could learn and unlearn.
The comedy of the cession of Venice to Napoleon was enacted between General Le Boeuf and General Alemann, the Austrian military commandant. Among other formalities, the French delegate went the round of the museums and galleries to see that everything was in its place. Suddenly he came upon a most suspicious blank. 'A picture is missing here,' he said. 'It is, blandly assented the Austrian officer. 'Well, but it must be sent back immediately—where is it?' 'In the Louvre.'
At last Austrians and French departed, and Italy shook off her mourning, for however it had come about, the great object which had cost so much blood, so many tears, was attained; the stranger was gone! Out of 642,000 votes, only 69 were recorded against the union of Venetia with the Italian kingdom. When the plebiscite was presented to the King, he said: 'This is the greatest day of my life: Italy is made, though not complete.'
On the 7th of November he entered Venice, and of all the pageants that greeted him in the hundred cities of Italy, the welcome of the Bride of the Adriatic was, if not the most imposing, certainly the fairest to see. More touching, however, than the glorious beauty of the Piazza San Marco and the Grand Canal in their rich adornment, was the universal decoration of the poorest quarters, which were all flagged and festooned so thickly that little could be seen of the stones of Venice.
venetian Regiment lines up in St Marks square
One poor cobbler, however, living at the end of a blind alley, had no flag, no garland to deck his abode: he had therefore pasted three strips of coloured paper, red, white and green, over his door, inscribing on the middle strip these words, which in their sublime simplicity merit to be rescued from oblivion: 'O mia cara Italia, voglio ma non posso fare più per te.'
The Iron Crown of the Lombard Kings of Italy, which the Austrians had taken away in 1859, was brought back and restored to the Cathedral of Monza. Less presumptuous than Napoleon, Victor Emmanuel never placed the mystical fillet upon his head, but it was carried after his coffin to the Pantheon.
Garibaldi now looked to Rome for his next adventure