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Title: Cavour
Author: Martinengo-Cesaresco, Countess Evelyn, 1852-1931
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_Italia, ab exteris liberanda_.

Motto of Pope JULIUS II.


    'Je suis italien avant tout et c'est pour faire jouir a mon
    pays du _self government_ à l'interieur, come a l'extereur que
    j'ai entrepuis la rude tache de chasser l'Autriche de l'Italie
    sans y substituer la domination d'aucune autre Puissance'--_Cavour
    to the Marquis Emmanuel d'Azeglio (May 8, 1860)_

The day is passed when the warmest admirer of the eminent man whose
character is sketched in the following pages would think it needful
to affirm that he alone regenerated his country. Many forces were
at work; the energising impulse of moral enthusiasm, the spell of
heroism, the ancient and still unextinguished potency of kingly
headship. But Cavour's hand controlled the working of these forces,
and compelled them to coalesce.

The first point in his plan was to make Piedmont a lever by which
Italy could be raised. An Englishman, Lord William Bentinck,
conceived an identical plan in which Sicily stood for Piedmont. He
failed, Cavour succeeded. The second point was to cause the Austrian
power in Italy to receive such a shock that, whether it succumbed at
once or not, it would never recover. In this too, with the help
of Napoleon III, he succeeded. The third point was to prevent the
Continental Powers from forcibly impeding Italian Unity when it became
plain that the population desired to be united. This Cavour succeeded
in doing with the help of England.

Time, which beautifies unlovely things, begins to cast its glamour
over the old Italian _régimes_. It is forgotten how low the Italian
race had fallen under puny autocrats whose influence was soporific
when not vicious. The vigorous if turbulent life of the Middle Ages
was extinct; proof abounded that the _rôle_ of small states was played
out. Goldsmith's description, severe as it is, was not unmerited--

  Here may be seen, in bloodless pomp array'd,
  The pasteboard triumph and the cavalcade;
  Processions formed for piety and love,
  A mistress or a saint in every grove.
  By sports like these are all their cares beguil'd,
  The sports of children satisfy the child;
  Each nobler aim, represt by long control,
  Now sinks at last, or feebly mans the soul.

Only those who do not know the past can turn away from the present
with scorn or despair. In this century a nation has arisen which, in
spite of all its troubles, is alive with ambition, industry, movement;
which has ten thousand miles of railway, which has conquered the
malaria at Rome, which has doubled its population and halved its
death-rate, which sends out great battle-ships from Venice and Spezia,
Castellamare and Taranto. This nation is Cavour's memorial: _si
monumentum requiris circumspice_.



















Nothing is permanent but change; only it ought to be remembered that
change itself is of the nature of an evolution, not of a catastrophe.
Commonly this is not remembered, and we seem to go forward by bounds
and leaps, or it may be to go backward; in either case the thread of
continuity is lost. We appear to have moved far away from the men
of forty years ago, except in the instances in which these men have
survived to remind us of themselves. It is rather startling to
recollect that Cavour might have been among the survivors. He was born
on August 10, 1810. The present Pope, Leo the Thirteenth, was born in
the same year.

It was a moment of lull, after the erection and before the collapse
of the Napoleonic edifice in Italy. If no thinking mind believed that
edifice to be eternal, if every day did not add to its solidity but
took something silently from it, nevertheless it had the outwardly
imposing appearance which obtains for a political _régime_ the
acceptance of the apathetic and lukewarm to supplement the support of
partisans. Above all, it was a phase in national existence which made
any real return to the phase that preceded it impossible. The
air teemed with new germs; they entered even into the mysterious
composition of the brain of the generation born in the first decade of
the nineteenth century.

Environment and heredity do not explain all the puzzle of any single
man's mind and character, but they form co-efficients in the making of
him which can be no longer disregarded. The chief point to be noticed
in reference to Cavour is that he was the outcome of a mingling of
race which was not only transmitted through the blood, but also was a
living presence during his childhood and youth. His father's stock,
the Bensos of Cavour, belonged to the old Piedmontese nobility.
A legend declares that a Saxon pilgrim, a follower of Frederick
Barbarossa, stopped, when returning from the Holy Land, in the little
republic of Chieri, where he met and married the heiress to all the
Bensos, whose name he assumed. Cavour used to laugh at the story, but
the cockle shells in the arms of the Bensos and their German motto,
"Gott will recht," seem to connect the family with those transalpine
crusading adventurers who brought the rising sap of a new nation
to reinvigorate the peoples they tarried amongst. Chieri formed a
diminutive free community known as "the republic of the seven B's,"
from the houses of Benso, Balbo, Balbiani, Biscaretti, Buschetti,
Bertone, and Broglie, which took their origin from it, six of which
became notable in their own country and one in France. The Bensos
acquired possession of the fief of Santena and of the old fastness of
Cavour in the province of Pignerolo. This castle has remained a ruin
since it was destroyed by Catinat, but in the last century Charles
Emmanuel III. conferred the title of Marquis of Cavour on a Benso who
had rendered distinguished military services. At the time of Cavour's
birth the palace of the Bensos at Turin contained a complete
and varied society composed of all sorts of nationalities and
temperaments. Such different elements could hardly have dwelt together
in harmony if the head of the household, Cavour's grandmother, had not
been a superior woman in every sense, and one endowed with the worldly
tact and elastic spirits without which even superior gifts are of
little worth in the delicate, intimate relations of life. Nurtured in
a romantic _château_ on the lake of Annecy, Philippine, daughter of
the Marquis de Sales, was affianced by her father at an early age
to the eldest son of the Marquis Benso di Cavour, knight of the
Annunziata, whom she never saw till the day of their marriage. At once
she took her place in her new family not only as the ideal _grande
dame_, but as the person to whom every one went in trouble and
perplexity. That was a moment which developed strong characters and
effaced weak ones. The revolutionary ocean was fatally rolling towards
the Alps. It found what had been so long the "buffer state" asleep.
There was a king who, unlike the princes of his race, was more amiable
than vigorous. Arthur Young, the traveller, reports that Victor
Emmanuel I. went about with his pocket full of bank notes, and was
discontented at night if he had not given them all away. "Yet this,"
adds the observant Englishman, "with an empty treasury and an
incomplete, ill-paid army." It was a bad preparation for the deluge,
but when that arrived, inevitable though unforeseen, desperate if
futile efforts were made to stem it. Some of the Piedmontese nobility
were very rich, but it was a wealth of increment, not of capital.
The burdens imposed when too late by the Sardinian Government, and
afterwards the cost of the French occupation, severely strained the
resources even of the wealthiest. The Marquise Philippine sold the
family plate and the splendid hangings of silk brocade which adorned
the walls of the Palazzo Cavour at Turin. Napoleon from the first
looked upon Italy as the bank of the French army. This idea had been
impressed upon him before he started for the campaign which was to
prove the corner-stone of his career. "He was instructed," writes the
secret agent Landrieux, "as to what might well be drawn from this war
for the French treasury."

After the pillage and the war contributions came the blood-tax. The
Marquise Philippine's son, sixteen years old, was ordered to join
General Berthier's corps, and to provide him with £10 pocket money
she sold what till then she had religiously kept, a silver holy water
stoup, which belonged to her saintly ancestor, François de Sales.

The last sacrifices, imposed not in the name of the country, but to
the advantage of an insatiable invader, were not likely to inspire the
old nobility of Piedmont with much love for the new order of things,
nor was love the feeling with which the Marquise regarded it, but she
had the insight to see what few of her class perceived, that the hour
of day cannot be turned back; the future could not be as the past had
been. When Prince Camillo Borghese was appointed governor of Piedmont
(on account of his being the husband of Napoleon's sister, the
beautiful Pauline Bonaparte, who was the original of Canova's Venus),
the Marquise Philippine was commanded to accept the post of _dame
d'honneur_ to the Princess. A refusal would have meant the ruin of
both the Cavours and her own kin, the De Sales, whose estates in Savoy
were already confiscated. She bowed to necessity, and in a position
which could not have been one of the easiest, she knew how to preserve
her own dignity, and to win the friendship of the far from demure
Pauline, whom she accompanied to Paris for the celebration of the
marriage of Napoleon with Marie Louise. It is characteristic of the
epoch that in the French capital the Marquise took lessons in the art
of teaching from a French pedagogue then in repute, to qualify her to
begin the education of her little grandchildren, Gustave and Camille.

These two boys were the sons of the Marquis Michele Benso; who had
married a daughter of the Count de Sellon of Geneva. While on a tour
in Switzerland to recover his health from a wound received in the
French service, the Marquis met the Count and his three daughters, of
whom he wished to make the eldest, Victoire, his wife; but on his suit
not prospering with her, he proposed to and was accepted by the second
daughter, Adele. After an unfortunate first marriage, Victoire became
the Duchess de Clermont Tonnerre, and the youngest sister, Henriette,
married a Count d'Auzers of Auvergne. All these relatives ended by
taking up their abode in the Palazzo Cavour at Turin. Victoire was the
cleverest, but her sisters as well as herself were what even in these
days would be considered highly educated. She became a Roman Catholic,
a step followed by Adele after the birth of her second child, Camille,
but Henriette remained true to the rigid Protestantism of Geneva. At
the christening of Camille de Cavour the Prince and Princess Borghese
officiated as sponsors, the Marquis Benso holding at that time a post
in the Prince's household which he owed to the good graces enjoyed by
his mother.

It is plain that of all his kindred, the charming and valiant Marquise
Philippine was the one whom Camille de Cavour most fondly loved. She
was the member of his family who understood him best not only in
childhood, but in manhood, and when all the others reproached him with
embracing ideas contrary to his traditions and his order, he turned
for comfort to his "dearest Marina," as he called her ("Marina" being
the pet-name by which children in Piedmont called their grandmothers),
and begged her to defend him against the charge of undutiful conduct.
It might be true, he said, with the irony which was one day to become
so familiar, that he was that dreadful thing, a liberal, but devoid
of natural feeling he was not. On the great day when the Statute was
granted, he said to the light-hearted old lady, "Marina, we get on
capitally, you and I; you were always a little bit of a Jacobin." That
was not long before her strength, though not her courage, gave way
under the deep sorrow of the loss of her great-grandson Auguste on the
field of Goito. She died in the midst of the political transformation
she had so long waited for.

As a child Cavour was normally sweet-tempered, but subject to violent
fits of passion; while he hated his lessons, he showed an early
development of intelligence and judgment. Like most precocious
children he had one or two infantile love affairs. A letter exists
written when he was six, in which he upbraids a little girl named
Fanchonette for basely abandoning him. He says that he loves her
still, _but_ he has now made the acquaintance of a young lady of
extraordinary charms, who has twice taken him out in the most
beautiful gilt carriage. It is amusing to note the worldly wisdom of
the suitor of six who reckons on jealousy to bring back the allegiance
of the fair but faithless Fanchonette. The magnificent rival was
Silvio Pellico's friend, the Marchioness de Barolo, who, like every
one else, was attracted by the clever child with his blue eyes and
little round face. Another story belonging to the same date is even
more characteristic. The Cavours went every year to Switzerland to
stay with their connections, the De Sellons and the De la Rives. On
this occasion, when the travellers reached M. de la Rive's villa at
Présinge, Camille, looking terribly in earnest, and with an air of
importance, made the more comical by the little red costume he was
wearing, went straight to his host with the announcement that the
postmaster had treated them abominably by giving them the worst
horses, and that he ought to be dismissed. "But," said M. de la Rive,
"I cannot dismiss him; that depends on the syndic." "Very well," said
the child, "I wish for an audience with the syndic." "You shall have
one to-morrow," replied M. de la Rive, who wrote to the syndic, a
friend of his, that he was going to send him a highly entertaining
little man. Camille was therefore received next day with all possible
ceremony, which by no means abashed him. After making three bows, he
quietly and lucidly explained his grievance, and apparently got a
promise of satisfaction, as when he went back he exclaimed in triumph
to M. de la Rive, "He will be dismissed!"

The Swiss relations were most enlightened people. Cavour's uncle,
the Count de Sellon, was a sort of Swiss Wilberforce, an ardent
philanthropist whose faith in human perfectibility used sometimes to
make his nephew smile, but early intercourse with a man of such large
and generous views could not have been without effect. De Sellon
was one of the first persons to dream of arbitration, and though a
Protestant he sent a memorial on this subject to the Pope. M. de la
Rive was a man of great scientific acquirements, and his son William
became Cavour's congenial and life-long friend. This cosmopolitan
society was entirely unlike the narrow coteries of the ancient
Piedmontese aristocracy which are so graphically described by Massimo
d'Azeglio, and the absence of constraint in which Cavour grew up makes
a striking contrast to the iron paternal rule under which the young
d'Azeglios trembled. It should be observed, however, that in spite of
his mixed blood and scattered ties, Cavour was in feeling from the
first the member of one race and the citizen of one state. The
stronger influence, that of the father's strain, predominated to the
exclusion of all others. Though all classes in Piedmont till within
the last fifty years spoke French when they did not speak dialect,
the intellectual sway of France was probably nowhere in Italy felt so
little as in Piedmont. The proximity of the two countries tended not
for it, but against it. They had been often at war; all the memories
of the Piedmontese people, the heroic exploit of Pietro Micca, the
royal legend of the Superga, turned on resistance to the powerful
neighbour. A long line of territorial nobles like the Bensos
transmits, if nothing else, at least a strong sentiment for the
birthland. In Cavour this sentiment was, indeed, to widen even in
boyhood, but it widened into Italian patriotism, not into sterile

In one respect Cavour was brought up according to the strictest of
old Piedmontese conventions. No one forgot that he was a younger
son. Gustave, the elder brother, received a classical education, and
acquired a strong taste for metaphysics. He became a thinker rather
than a man of action, and was one of the first and staunchest friends
of the philosopher-theologian Rosmini, whose attempts to reconcile
religion and philosophy led him into a bitter struggle with Rome. For
Camille another sort of life was planned. It was decided that he must
"do something," and at the age of ten he was sent to the Military
Academy at Turin. He did not like it, but it was better for him than
if he had been kept at home. Mathematics were well taught at the
Academy, and in this branch he soon outstripped all his schoolfellows.
He himself always spoke of his mathematical studies as having been of
great service in forming the habit of precise thought; from the study
of triangles, he said, he went on to the study of men and things. On
the other hand the boys were taught little Latin and less Greek, and
nothing was done to furnish them with the basis of a literary style, a
fact always deplored by Cavour, who insisted that the art of writing
ought to be acquired when young; otherwise it could not be practised
without labour, and never with entire success. He once said that
he found it easier to make Italy than a sonnet. In his own case he
regretted never having become a ready writer, because he knew that the
pen is a force; he held that a man should cultivate every means at his
disposal to increase his power.

In 1824, when Charles Albert returned to Piedmont after three years'
exile in consequence of the part he was suspected of having taken in
the abortive revolution of 1821, one of his first acts was to obtain a
nomination for young Cavour as page in the royal household. The pages
were all inmates of the Military Academy, where the expense of their
education was borne by the king after they received the appointment.
The Count d'Auzers, a strong Legitimist, was one of the oldest friends
of the Prince of Carignano, who was regarded at the Palazzo Cavour as
the victim of false accusations of liberalism. Charles Albert always
seemed to reflect the opinions of the person to whom he was writing
or speaking. Thus it is certain that in his letters to the Count he
appeared as a convinced upholder of white flags. Cavour must have
heard him often defended from the charge of patriotism. Perhaps this
created in his mind a first aversion, which was strengthened by
personal contact in the course of his duties at Court. At any rate it
is clear that he never liked or trusted him.

When Cavour left the Military Academy in 1826 he came out first in the
final examinations. He entered the army with the rank of lieutenant in
the Corps of Engineers. He began to learn English. In a letter written
at this time he speaks of the utility of modern languages and a real
knowledge of history, but adds that a man who wishes to make a name
should concentrate his faculties rather than disperse them among
too many subjects and pursuits. Even then he had an almost definite
project of preparing himself to play a part in life. There is not much
to show what were his political ideas, except a memorandum written
when he was eighteen on the Piedmontese revolution of 1821, in which
he adopted the views of Santorre di Santa Rosa, once Charles Albert's
friend and later his severest critic, to combat whose indictment the
Count d'Auzers had written folios in the French and German newspapers.
At the end of the memorandum Cavour transcribed an extract from Santa
Rosa's work, in which he invoked the advent of an Italian Washington.
Was that the part which Cavour dreamed of playing? A few years after,
he wrote in a fit of despondency, "There was a time when I should have
thought it the most natural thing in the world that I should wake up
one morning prime minister of a kingdom of Italy." The words written
in 1832 throw a flood of light on the subjects of his boyish dreams
and the goal of his prophetic ambition.

The story repeated by most of Cavour's biographers, that in putting
off the page's uniform he uttered some scornful words which, reported
to Charles Albert, changed the goodwill of that prince into hostility,
rests on doubtful authority; but it seems to be true that Charles
Albert, who began by being very well disposed to the son and nephew
of his friends, calling him in one letter "the interesting youth who
justifies such great hopes," and in another, "ce charmant Camille,"
came to consider his quondam _protégé_ a restless spirit, inconvenient
in the present and possibly dangerous in the future. Though the
schoolboy essay above mentioned was kept a secret, the liberal
heresies of the young lieutenant were well enough known. He was told
that he would bring father and mother in sorrow to the grave, and he
was even threatened with banishment to America. The police watched
his movements. He wrote to his Swiss uncle that he had no right to
complain as he was liberal and very liberal and desired a complete
change in the whole system. On Charles Albert's accession to the
throne he was sent to the solitary Alpine fortress of Bard; but
it appears that not the king (as he supposed) but his own father
suggested the step. Cavour saw in the idleness and apathy of garrison
life in this lonely place a type of the disease from which the whole
State was suffering. He wrote to the Count de Sellon, the apostle of
universal peace, that much as he abhorred bloodshed, he could think of
no cure but war. "The Italians need regeneration; their _moral_, which
was completely corrupted under the ignoble dominion of Spaniards and
Austrians, regained a little energy under the French _régime_, and
the ardent youth of the country sighs for a nationality; but to break
entirely with the past, to be born anew to a better state, great
efforts are necessary and sacrifices of all kinds must remould the
Italian character. An Italian war would be a sure pledge that we were
going to become again a nation, that we were rising from the mud in
which we have been trampled for so many centuries."

These lines, written by a young officer of twenty-one, show how far
Cavour had already outstripped the Piedmontese provincialism which
had the upper hand in the early years of Charles Albert's reign. He
described himself as vegetating, but he was not idle; sustained mental
activity was, in fact, a necessity to him whatever were his outward
circumstances. He read Bentham and Adam Smith, and was excited by the
events going on in England, then in the throes of the first Reform
Bill. It was in the fortress of Bard that he gained a grasp of English
politics which he never lost, and which hardly another foreigner ever
possessed in a like degree. By chance he became acquainted with an
English artist who was engaged in making drawings of the Alpine
passes. This gave him not only the opportunity of speaking and writing
English, but also of expressing his private thoughts without reserve,
which was impossible with his fellow-countrymen. Throughout his
life he found the same mental relaxation in his intercourse with
Englishmen; he felt safe with them.

Cavour was not meant to be a soldier; his tastes did not agree with
the routine of military life, and his clear judgment told him that the
army is not the natural or correct sphere for a politician--which he
knew himself to be even then, in a country where politics may be said
not to have existed. Acting on these reflections, he resigned his
commission, and his father, perhaps to keep him quiet, bought him a
small independent property near the ancestral estate at Leri. The
Marquis warned his son that the income would not allow him to keep a
valet or a horse; his mother opposed the purchase, as she thought that
the young landlord would be tempted to spend more than he had, but to
this his father replied that if a man was not a man at twenty-five he
would be one never. The Marquis Michele Benso had recently assumed
the post of _Vicario_ of Turin, which his family thought below his
dignity, but he apparently took it to oblige the king, with whom the
_Vicario_, who was a sort of Prefect of Police, was in daily contact.
As a result, the estate of Leri, which had been neglected before, was
now going actually to ruin. Cavour, with the approval of his brother,
proposed to undertake the whole management of the property, an offer
gladly accepted, as the Marquis was well convinced that his younger
son had rather too many than too few abilities. Cavour saw in
agriculture the only field at present open to him. When he left the
army he scarcely knew a cabbage from a turnip, for he had not been
brought up in the country, but in a few years he familiarised himself
with everything connected with the subject, from the most homely
detail to wide scientific generalisations. With knowledge came
interest, which, absent at first, grew strong, and lasted all his
life. Little, he said, does the outsider know the charm of planting a
field of potatoes or rearing a young heifer! The practical experience
which Cavour gained was precious. How many cabinet ministers in
different parts of the world would lead to bankruptcy a farm, a
factory, a warehouse, even a penny tart shop! As a matter of fact,
one Italian minister of finance was legally interdicted, on the
application of his family, from managing his own estates.

Leri, which Cavour looked upon henceforth as his true home, lies in
one of the ugliest parts of the plains of Piedmont, cold in winter,
scorched by a burning sun in summer, and unhealthy from the
exhalations of the rice-fields which contribute to its wealth. Except
that game was tolerably plentiful, it had none of the attractions of
an English country-seat--the smiling hillside, the ancestral elms, the
park, the garden. Cavour led the simplest life; the old housekeeper
who cooked the dinner also placed it on the table. But the fare, if
plain, was abundant, and Cavour was delighted to entertain his friends
and neighbours, who found him the most affable of hosts, inexhaustibly
good-tempered, a patient listener, a talker abounding in wit and
wisdom. He had the art of adapting himself perfectly to the society in
which he moved, but in one thing he was always the same: wherever he
went he carried his intense vitality--that quality of _entrain_ which
persuades more than eloquence or earnestness. He induced others to
join him in experiments which were then innovations: steam-mills,
factories for artificial manures and the like, while the machinery and
new methods introduced at Leri revolutionised farming in Piedmont. One
great scheme planned by him, an irrigatory canal between the Ticino
and the Po, was only finished after his death, as the most worthy
tribute to his memory. He rose at four, went to see his cattle, stood
in the broiling harvest fields to overlook the reapers, acted, in
short, as his own bailiff, and to these habits he returned in later
years, whenever he had time to visit Leri. Cavour's mind was not
poetic; we hear of his admiring only one poet, Shakespeare, but in
Shakespeare it was probably the deep knowledge of man that attracted
him, the apprehension of how men with given passions must act under
given conditions. He did not, therefore, see country pursuits from a
poet's standpoint, but he appreciated their power of calming men's
minds, of dissipating the fog of unrealities, of tending towards what
Kant called, in a phrase he quoted with approval, "practical reason."
He considered, also, that nothing can so assure the stability of a
nation as an intelligent interest shared by a large portion of its
citizens in the cultivation of the soil. The English country gentleman
who divided his time between his duties in Parliament and those not
less obligatory on his estates was in Cavour's eyes an almost ideal
personage. It should be added that Cavour could not understand a
country life which did not embrace solicitude for the worker. The true
agriculturist gained the confidence of the poor around him; it was, he
said, so easy to gain it. He was kindly, thoughtful, and just in his
treatment of his dependents, and he always retained his hold on their
affections; when Italy was asking what she should do without her great
statesman, the sorrowing peasants of Leri asked in tears what they
should do without their master?

One passage in Cavour's early life was revealed a few years ago, and,
whether or not it was right to reveal it, the portrait would be now
incomplete which did not touch upon it. The episode belongs to the
critical psychological moment in his development: the time immediately
after he left the army, and before he found an outlet for his
activity, and, what was more essential to him, a purpose and an object
not in the distance but straight before him, in the care of his
father's acres. His position at home was not happy; his brother's
small children were of more importance in the household than himself,
and when Cavour once administered a well-merited correction to the
much-spoilt eldest born, the Marquis Gustave threw a chair at his
head. Between the brothers in after life there prevailed remarkable
and unbroken harmony, but it is easy to see that when first grown to
manhood Gustave presumed rather selfishly on his _rôle_ of heir,
while Camille took too seriously the supposed discovery that he was
"necessary to no one!" Beyond all this, there was the undeclared clash
of the new with the old, the feeling of having moved apart, which
produces a moral vacuum until, by and by, it is realised that the
value of the first affections and ties depends precisely on their
resting on no basis of opinion. Cavour was overwhelmed by a sense of
isolation; if he decided "like Hamlet" (so he writes in his diary) to
abstain from suicide, he believed that he wished himself heartily out
of the world. To his family he seemed an abnormal and unnatural young
man. A conversation is on record which took place between the two
childless aunts who lived with the Cavours. The date was just before
Cavour's departure on a first visit to Paris. "Did you remark," said
Mme. Victoire, "how indifferent Camille seemed when I spoke to him of
the Paris theatres? I really do not know what will interest him on his
travels; the poor boy is entirely absorbed in revolutions." "It is
quite true," replied Mme. Henriette; "Camille has no curiosity about
things, he cares for nothing but politics." And the two ladies went on
to draw melancholy prognostics from their nephew's study of political
economy, "an erroneous and absolutely useless science."

A charming countess who had made a favourite of Cavour in his boyhood
tried to extract a promise from him that he would never again mix
himself up in politics; he refused to give it; sooner or later, he
writes in his diary, she would have blushed for him had he consented.
But, he adds bitterly, what was the good of demanding such a promise
from one for whom politically everything was ended? "Ah! if I were an
Englishman, by this time I should be something and my name would not
be wholly unknown!" Here, again, was a source of depression. At the
Military Academy he had formed one almost romantic comradeship with
a delicate and reserved youth, some years older than himself, Baron
Severino Cassio, to whom he first confided his determination to
Italianise himself: to study the language, history, laws, customs of
the whole country with a view to preparing for the future. Cassio
presciently marked out for his friend the part of architect, not of
destroyer, in that future; architects, he said, were what was most
wanted in public affairs, and Italy had always lacked them. There is
no reason to think that Cassio's sympathy had chilled, but Cavour, in
his morbid state, thought that it was so; he imagined that what
had drawn Cassio to him "was not I, but my powerful intellectual
organisation"; and with undeserved mistrust he did not turn to him for

He was at the nadir of his dejection when he received a letter in a
well-known handwriting, that of a woman who had strongly attracted
him four years before by her beauty, grace, and elevation of mind.
Separation cut short the incipient love-affair, and Cavour never
thought of renewing it. With the woman it was otherwise; from her
first meeting with the youth of twenty to the day of her death,
absent or present, he was the object of an idolatry in which all
her faculties united: her being was penetrated by a self-sustaining
passion which could not cease till it had consumed her. De Stendhal is
the only novelist who could have drawn such a character. She was of
noble birth, and from an early age had been eminently unhappy. Cavour,
in his private papers, called her "L'Inconnue," and so she will be
remembered. Her own life-story, and whether she was free to give her
heart where she would, the world does not and need not know; on the
last point it is enough to say that Cavour's father and mother were
aware of his relations with her and saw in them nothing reprehensible.

On a page meant for no eyes but his own, Cavour describes the
excitement into which he was thrown by the brief letter which
announced that the Unknown had arrived at Turin and that she wished
to see him. He hastened back to town and sought her at her hotel, and
then at the opera where she had gone. After looking all round the
house, he recognised her in a box--the sixth to the left on the first
row--dressed in deep mourning and showing on her face such evident
marks of suffering that he was at once filled with remorse "and
intoxicated by a love so pure, so constant, and so disinterested."
Never would he forsake this divine woman again!

For a moment he thought of flight to distant shores, but he soon
decided that "imperative duties required that she should remain where
she was." Their intercourse chiefly consisted of letters; his do not
seem to exist, hers were found after his death carefully preserved and
numbered. In these letters she laid bare her innermost soul; she was
ardently patriotic, steeped in the ideas of Mazzini, and far more
Italian than Piedmontese, though she wrote in French. She knew
English, and Cavour advised her to read Shakespeare. Remarkably
gifted, she had the deep humility of many of the best Italian women;
"What have I done, O Camille," she asks, "to meet a soul like
yours!... To have known you for an instant fills a long existence; how
can you love me, weak as I am?" She had an astonishing instinct of his
future greatness: "Full of force, life, talent, called, perhaps to
make a brilliant career, to contribute to the general good," such
expressions as these occur frequently in her letters. The romance
ended as it could not help ending. The "eternal vows" were kept for a
year and a few months; then on Cavour's side a love which, though he
did not guess it, had only been a reflection, faded into compassionate
interest. The _Inconnue_ uttered no reproaches; after a few unhappy
years she died, leaving a last letter to her inconstant lover. "The
woman who loved you is dead ... no one ever loved you as she did, no
one! For, O Camille, you never fathomed the extent of her love." With
a broken-hearted pride she declared that "in the domain of death she
surpassed all rivals." It remained true; if Cavour was not, strictly
speaking, more faithful to the _Inconnue's_ memory than he had been to
her while she lived, yet this was the only real love-passage in his
life. Fatal to her, it was fortunate to him. It found him in despair
and it left him self-reliant and matured. The love of such a woman was
a liberal education.



During the fifteen years which he devoted to agriculture, Cavour made
several long and important visits to France and England. In this way
he enlarged his experience, while keeping aloof from the governing
class in his own country, connection with which could, in his opinion,
only bring loss of reputation and effacement in the better days that
were to come. Cavour knew himself to be ambitious, but he had the
self-control never even to contemplate the purchase of what then
passed for power by the sacrifice of his principles. "My principles,"
he once wrote, "are a part of myself." The best way "to prepare for
the honourable offices of the future" was to keep his independence
intact, and to study abroad the working of the institutions which he
wished to see introduced at home. Through his French relations, he
took his place immediately in the best society of the capital of the
citizen king, under whose reign, sordid as it was in some respects,
Paris attained an intellectual brilliancy the like of which was never
equalled in the spectacular glare of the second empire. It was the
moment of a short-lived renaissance; literature, art, science, seemed
to be starting on new voyages of discovery. New worlds were opened up
for conquest; oriental studies for the first time became popular, the
great field of unwritten traditions surrendered its virgin soil. Above
all, it was a time of fermentation in moral ideas; every one expected
the millennium, though there was a lack of agreement as to what it
would consist in. Every one, like Lamennais in Béranger's poem, was
going "to save the world." The Good, the True, the Beautiful, were
about to dislodge the Bad, the False, the Ugly. If all these high
hopes had some fruition in the region of thought, they had none in the
region of facts, but meanwhile they lent a rare charm to Paris in the
Thirties. Cavour speaks of elasticity as the ruling quality of French
society; he praises the admirable union of science and wit, depth and
amiability, substance and form, to be found in certain Parisian salons
and nowhere else. He was thinking especially of the salon of Mme. de
Circourt, who became his friend through life. For no one else had he
quite the same unchanging regard. Attracted as he always was by the
conquest of difficulties, he admired the force of mind and will by
which this Russian lady, whom a terrible accident had made a hopeless
invalid, overcame disabilities that would have reduced most people to
a state of living death. In her, spirit annihilated matter. She joined
French vivacity to the penetrating sensibility of the Sclavonic races,
and she was a keen reader of character. Cavour interested her at once.
Even in his exterior, the young Italian, with blond hair and blue
eyes, was then more attractive than those who only knew the Cavour of
later years could easily believe; while his gay and winning manners,
combined with a fund of information on subjects not usually popular
with the young, could not but strike so discerning a judge as the
Countess de Circourt as indicating not a common personality. She
feared lest so much talent and promise would be suffocated for ever in
the stifling air of a small despotism. Cavour himself drew a miserable
picture of his country: science and intelligence were reputed
"infernal things by those who are obliging enough to govern us"; a
triumphant bigotry trembled alike at railways and Rosmini; Cavour's
aunt, the Duchess de Clermont Tonnerre, only got permission to receive
the _Journal des Débats_ after long negotiations between the French
minister at Turin and the Sardinian government. No wonder if Mme. de
Circourt impulsively entreated the young man to shake the dust of
Piedmont off his feet and to seek a career in France. In his answer
to this proposition, he asks first of all, what have his parents done
that he should plunge a knife into their hearts? Sacred duties bound
him to them, and he would never quit them till they were separated by
the grave. This filial piety stands the more to Cavour's credit, as
his home life had not been very happy. He went on to inquire, what
real inducement was there for him to abandon his native land? A
literary reputation? Was he to run after a little celebrity, a little
glory, without ever reaching the real goal of his ambition? What
influence could he exercise in favour of his unhappy brothers in a
country where egotism monopolised the high places? What was the mass
of foreigners doing which had been thrown into Paris by choice or
misfortune? Who among them was useful to his fellow-men? The political
troubles which desolated Italy had obliged her noblest sons to fly far
from her, but in their exile their eminent faculties became forceless
and sterile. Only one Italian had made a name in Paris, Pellegrino
Rossi; but this man, whose capacities Cavour rated as extraordinary,
reached the summit of success open to him in France when he obtained a
professorship at the Sorbonne and a chair in the Academy, whereas,
in the country which he repudiated, he might have one day guided his
compatriots in the paths of the new civilisation--words which read
like an imperfect prophecy, since the unfortunate Rossi was to lose
his life later in the attempt to reform the papal government. Cavour
repeats that literature would be the only promising opening, and for
literature he feels no vocation; he has a reasoning, not an inventive
head; he does not possess a grain of imagination; in his whole life he
had never been able to construct even the smallest story to amuse a
child; at best he would be a third-class literary man, and he says
in the matter of art he can only conceive one position: the highest.
Certainly he might turn to science; to become a great mathematician,
chemist, physicist, was a way of seeking glory as good as another;
only he confessed that it had few attractions "for the Italian with
the rosy complexion and the smile of a child." Ethical science
interested him more, but this was to be pursued in retirement, not in
great cities. "No, no," he writes, "it is not in flying from one's
fatherland because it is unhappy that one can attain a glorious end."
But if he were mistaken, if a splendid future awaited him on foreign
soil, still his resolution would be the same. Evil be to him who
denies his fellow-countrymen as unworthy of him. "Happy or unhappy, my
country shall have all my life; I will never be unfaithful to her even
were I sure of finding elsewhere a brilliant destiny."

While Cavour was in Paris, Tocqueville's _Democracy in America_ was
published, and immediately gave its author European fame. It did not
probably exercise much influence over Cavour in the formation of
opinions, but he found his own confirmed in it both as to the tendency
of modern societies towards democracy for better or worse, and also as
to the independence of the Church from State control, in which, from
the time that he began to think at all on such matters, he had thought
to see the solution of all difficulties of a politico-religious
sort. Cavour changed his practice, but rarely his mind; most of the
conclusions of the statesman had been reached at twenty-five. It was
not easy for him to take those who fundamentally differed from him
entirely seriously. Once, when he was the guest of the Princess
Belgiojoso, Musset's irresponsive idol and Heine's good angel, the
fair hostess bestowed on him such a republican lecture that he wrote,
"They will not catch me there again"; but he went. At the Duchess
d'Abrantés' receptions he met "the relics of all the governments."
He only spoke on one occasion to Guizot. The minister seems to have
received him coldly. He remarked that with these great people you
must be a person of importance to make any way; an obscure citizen of
Piedmont, unknown beyond the commune of which he was syndic, could
have no chance. With Thiers he got on much better; principles apart,
their temperaments were not inharmonious. Of the literary men Cavour
preferred Sainte Beuve; in Cousin he cared less for the philosopher
than for the friend of Santorre di Santa Rosa, the exiled patriot of
1821. Cousin introduced him to several fervid Italian liberals, among
others Berchet, the poet. He was invited by Alessandro Bixio to meet
the author of _Monte Cristo_. Bixio was one day to be intimately mixed
up in Franco-Italian politics, in which he acted as intermediary
between Cavour and Prince Napoleon. Royer Collard, Jules Simon,
Michelet, Ozanum, Quinet, and the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz were
then giving lectures, which Cavour found time to attend. The great
Rachel filled the stage. Cavour, who in his later years never went to
a theatre except when he wanted to go to sleep, was a warm admirer
of the incomparable actress, who satisfied his requirement of the
absolutely first class in art. He was drawn to the highest genius as
much as he was repelled by mediocrity. He blamed Rachel, however, for
the choice of one particularly repulsive _rôle_, and suspected that
she chose it because the dress suited her to perfection.

It was always known that Cavour staked considerable sums at cards,
but that he had at one time a real passion for gambling was hardly
supposed till the self-accusations of his journal were laid bare.
Though there was little in him of the Calvinism of his maternal
ancestors, he judged himself on this point with the severity of an
austere moralist. In the world of pleasure in which he moved such
offences were considered venial, but he looked upon them with the
disgust of a man who reckons personal freedom beyond all earthly
goods, and who sees himself in danger of becoming a slave. "The
humiliating and degrading emotions of play" threaten, he says, to
undermine his intellectual and moral faculties; his "miserable
weakness" degrades him in his own eyes; conscience, reason,
self-respect, interest, call upon him to fight against it and destroy
it. From high play at cards to gambling on the Bourse there is but a
step. Cavour embarked in a speculation the success of which depended
on the outbreak of war in the East, which he believed to be imminent.
No war occurred, and the loss of a few hundred pounds obliged him to
apply to his father for supplies. The Marquis sent the money, and
wrote good-naturedly that the mishap might teach Camille to moderate
his belief in his own infallibility. He thought himself the only young
man in the world in whom there was a ready-made minister, banker,
manufacturer, and speculator; and if he did not take care the idea
that he could never be wrong might prevent him from turning to account
the superior gifts with which he was undoubtedly endowed. But the
kindliness of the reproof did not lessen his own sense of shame and
mortification. The lesson was useful; he forsook the Bourse, and at
cards he conquered the passion without giving up the game. Rightly or
wrongly it was said that many years after he played high stakes at
whist with political men to gain an insight into their characters.
In any case there is nothing to show that his fondness for play ever
again led him into excesses which his judgment condemned. He had
recovered his freedom.

Cavour invariably ended his visits to Paris by crossing the Channel,
and, if in the French capital he gained greater knowledge of men, it
was in England that he first grew familiar with the public life which
he considered a pattern for the world. He did not find the delightful
social intercourse to be enjoyed in Paris; in fact, not one of the
persons to whom he brought letters of introduction took the least
notice of him. English society is quicker to run after celebrities
than to discern them in embryo. But the two or three Englishmen whom
he already knew were active in his behalf. William Brokedon, his
old friend the painter, conducted him to the dinner of the Royal
Geographical Society, where a curious thing happened. Cavour's first
essay in public speaking was before an English assembly. After several
toasts had been duly honoured, the Secretary of the Society, to his
unbounded astonishment, proposed his health. Taken unawares, he
expressed his thanks in a few words, which were well received, and on
sitting down he said to his neighbour, the Earl of Ripon, "C'est mon
_maiden speech_!" Lord Ripon remarked, "with a significant smile,"
that he hoped it would be the opening of a long career. He dined with
John Murray, and went to see Faraday, who in his working clothes made
him think of a philosopher of the sixteenth century. At a party given
by Babbage, the mathematician, he met Hallam, Tocqueville, Ada Byron,
and the three beautiful daughters of Sheridan. With Nassau Senior he
began a long friendship, and Edward Romilly, the librarian of Trinity
College, Cambridge, whom he had met at Geneva, introduced him to a
rich landed proprietor of the name of Davenport, who was to prove the
most useful of all his English acquaintances, as he liberally placed
his house in Cheshire at Cavour's disposal to give him an opportunity
of studying English agriculture. The chance was not thrown away.
Cavour learnt everything about the management of a well-ordered
English estate down to the minutest particulars. He admired much,
especially the system of subsoil drainage, then a novelty to
foreigners, but he was not carried away by the beautiful appearance of
the English country so far as to think that the English farmer was in
all respects ahead of the North Italian. He compared the up-and-down
English meadow left to itself with the highly-manured pasture lands of
Piedmont, level as billiard-boards, which yield their three crops of
hay a year. One point Cavour was never tired of impressing on students
of agriculture; it was this, and it exactly shows his habit of mind:
never consider results without knowing what they cost. Correct the
selling price by the cost of production. He had no patience with model
farms; they might be magnificent, but they were not agriculture. In
one of his earliest writings he held them up to ridicule.

In England he studied the then new Poor Laws; even before he started
on his first travels, he decided to inquire into the position of the
poorest classes in the countries he visited. He recognised that the
acknowledgment of the prescriptive right of every member of the
community to food and shelter was the first step to vast changes in
social legislation. Cavour's natural inclinations were more those of
a social and economic reformer than of the political innovator.
Gasworks, factories, hospitals, and prisons were in turn inspected.
Cavour went thoroughly into the questions of prison labour and diet.
He did not object to the treadmill in itself, but thought unfruitful
labour demoralising. Useful work with a small gain reformed the
convict. The prison fare seemed to him rather too good. He was
impressed by the bread "as good as the best that is consumed in the
clubs." Probably, next to the policeman, what impresses the thinking
foreigner most in the British Isles is the Englishman's loaf of white
bread. It might appear that in his close study of utilitarian England,
Cavour missed the greater England of imagination and adventure, of
genius and energy. It is true that he did homage at the shrine of
Shakespeare by a visit to Stratford-on-Avon, and that he declared that
there was no sight in the world equal to the Life Guards on their
superb black horses. But his real appreciation of the greatness of
England is not to be looked for in the jottings of the tourist; it
stands forth conspicuously in his few but singularly weighty early
political writings. The English politician whom he most admired was
Pitt. The preference was striking in a young man who was considered a
dangerous liberal in his own country. It showed amongst other things
an adoption of an English standpoint in appraising English policy
which is rare in a foreigner. "In attacking France," Cavour wrote,
"Pitt preserved social order in England, and kept civilisation in the
paths of that regular and gradual progress which it has followed
ever since." He said of him: "He loved power not as an end but as a
means"--words which long after he applied to himself: "You know that
I care nothing for power as power; I care for it only as a means to
compass the good of my country."

Cavour had the cast of mind which admires in others its own qualities.
As he revered Pitt's "vast and puissant intelligence," so he
sympathised with Peel's logic and courage. Peel was his favourite
among his contemporaries; he called him "the statesman who more
than any other had the instinct of the necessity of the moment." He
foretold Peel's abolition of the Corn Laws at a time when no one else
anticipated it. When he himself was charged by his old friends in the
Turin Chamber with desertion and treason, he reminded them that the
same charges had been made against Peel, but that he was largely
compensated by the knowledge that he had saved England from socialist
commotions, which in that country were in reality even more
threatening in their scope and extent than in the rest of agitated
Europe. He used to say that if Pitt had lived in times of peace he
would have been a reformer after the fashion of Peel and Canning,
adding his own venturesomeness to the largeness of views of the one
and the capable sound sense of the other.

These scattered judgments are drawn from the essays written by Cavour
in the years 1843-46. They appeared in Swiss or French reviews at a
period when it was easier to make a reputation by a magazine article
than it is now. Cavour's monographs attracted attention by the
writer's display of independent thought and firsthand information. The
most interesting now is that on "the condition and future of Ireland,"
which has been often referred to in the British Parliament. Most of
the suggestions made in it have been long since carried into effect,
but it is not these that make the essay still worth reading: it is
Cavour's mode of approaching the question. He writes as what has been
lately called an "Imperialist," though it was formerly thought enough
to say "Englishman." It is doubtful if any foreign publicist ever
wrote in the same spirit on the relations of England and Ireland
either before or since. It is only necessary to be familiar with the
continental press, from Legitimist to Socialist, to know, what he
knew himself, that Cavour was almost in a minority of one. He was not
acquainted with a single English politician; no one influenced him; he
judged the Irish question from the study of history past and present,
and having formed an unpopular opinion, he was prepared to stand by
it. He never held that politics are a game of chance; he believed that
they are subject to fixed laws of cause and effect, and he worked out
political problems by seeking and applying these laws to the case in
point without passion or prejudice. Having satisfied himself that the
union of Ireland and England was for the good of both, he was not
disposed to quarrel with the means by which it was accomplished. When
Pitt failed to carry the Bill for the Union through the Irish House of
Commons, he resorted to the expedient, "which had never failed in the
Dublin Parliament," of corruption on a large scale. He bought rotten
boroughs; he was prodigal of places, honours, pensions, and at the
end of a year he obtained a majority of 168 votes against 73. Was he
wrong? Cavour thought not, though he found no words strong enough to
condemn the men who sold their conscience for place or gold. Public
opinion, he said, has always sanctioned in governments the use of a
different morality from that binding on individuals. In all ages an
extreme indulgence has been shown towards immoral acts which brought
about great political results. He conceded, for the sake of argument,
that such indulgence might be a fatal error; but he insisted that if
Pitt's character was to be blackened because he used parliamentary
corruption, the same censure ought in justice to be extended to the
greatest monarchs of past times, Louis XIV., Joseph II., Frederic the
Great, who, to serve their own ends, outraged the immovable principles
of humanity and morality in a far graver manner than could be laid to
the charge of the illustrious statesman who consolidated the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

On Cavour's own grounds, those of expediency, it might be objected
that a bargain which on one side you allow to be discreditable leaves
the legacy of an indestructible desire on that side to wipe out
the discredit by tearing it up. Though Cavour became great by his
connection with a movement which, before all things, was swayed by
sentiment, he never entirely recognised the part that sentiment plays
in politics. He blamed O'Connell for demanding repeal, which, even if
possible to obtain, would do as much harm to Ireland as to England,
instead of supporting measures that would remove all cause for Irish
discontent. Had he lived long enough he would have seen all those
measures passed, but he would not have seen the end to Irish
discontent. This might have surprised him, but not so much as to see a
great English party advocating disunion, which, he declared, could be
logically supported only "by those who thought it desirable that there
should be a revolution."

Cavour noticed and deplored the unpopularity of England on the
Continent. Extreme parties, opposed in everything else, were agreed
in a violent hatred of that country. The moderate party liked it in
theory, but in reality they had no natural sympathy with it. Only a
few individuals who rose superior to the passions of the multitude
felt the esteem due to a nation which had powerfully contributed to
develop the moral and material resources of the world, and whose
mission was far from ended. The masses were almost everywhere hostile
to it. It was a mistake to suppose that this was the feeling of France
alone; it might be expressed more loudly there, but it was, in fact,
universal. The enemies of progress and the partisans of political
subversion looked on England as their worst adversary: the former
charged her with being the hotbed of revolutionary propagandism; the
latter, perhaps with more reason, considered the English aristocracy
as the corner-stone of the social edifice of Europe. England ought to
be popular with the friends of gradual reform and regular progress,
but a host of prejudices, recollections, passions, produced the
contrary effect. With but little alteration the lines here condensed
might have been written to-day.

A book on railways by Count Petitti had been prohibited in Piedmont.
That railways were connected with the Powers of Darkness was then a
general opinion, shared in particular by Pope Gregory. Cavour reviewed
the book in the _Revue nouvelle_, which was also prohibited, but
sundry copies of it were smuggled into Italy, and one even reached
the king. While Petitti had avoided all political allusions, Cavour's
article abounds in them: railways would promote the moral union of
Italy, which must precede the conquest of national independence.
Municipal jealousies, intellectual backwardness, would disappear, and,
when that happened, nothing could prevent the accomplishment of the
object which was the passionate desire of all--emancipation. A very
small number of ideas forms the intellectual hinge of man in the
aggregate; of these patriotism is only second in importance to
religion. Any conception of national dignity in the masses was
impossible without the pride of nationality. Every private interest,
every political dissension, should be laid aside that Italian
independence might become a fact. Cavour always spoke of Italy--not of
Piedmont, not of Lombardy and Venetia. Rome, still of all cities the
richest in precious memories and splendid hopes, would be the centre
of an iron network uniting the whole peninsula. Some well-intentioned
patriots objected to the increase of railway communication with
Austria from the fear that it would strengthen her military and
political hold over her Italian provinces. Cavour answered that the
great events at hand could not be delayed by the shortening of the
number of hours between Vienna and Milan. On the other hand, when the
relations arising out of conquest were replaced by those of friendship
and equity, rapid communication would promote the moral and
intellectual intercourse, "which, more than any one, we desire,"
between grave and profound Germany and intelligent Italy. In these
pages Cavour foreshadowed the boring of the Alps and the German
alliance, two facts which then seemed equally improbable.

The man was made; he waited for his opportunity. What if it never
came? Can we conceive Cavour's immense energy limited to a rice-field?
Are there really men whom their lot forbids--

  Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
    The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
  To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
    And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes?

The prophet may cry aloud in the desert, the scientific discoverer may
guess at truths which his age rejects, but the total waste of such a
force as the mind of Cavour seems less easy to imagine than that his
appearance was a sign that the times were ripe for him.



In 1846, Cavour was only known at home as the most unpopular man in
Piedmont. Most people can scarcely be said to be unpopular before they
have occupied any public position, but this, strangely enough, was the
case with Cavour. He was simply a private person, but he was hated
by all parties. His writings, which had made their mark abroad, were
little known in Italy; the reviews in which they appeared could only
be obtained by stealth. No one rightly knew what his views were, but
every one disliked him. Solaro de la Margherita, the retrograde prime
minister, was detested by the liberals, but he had a strong following
among the old Savoyard nobility; Lorenzo Valerio, the radical
manufacturer, was harassed by those in power, but he was adored by the
people; Cavour was in worse odour with both parties than these two men
were with either. Under the porticoes of Turin petty private talk took
the place of anything like public discussion. "By good fortune," as
the prime minister put it, "the press was not free in Piedmont;" quite
the reverse. Gossip, especially spiteful gossip, reigned supreme.
Gossip in both spheres of society was all against Cavour. What might
be called the Court party (though whether the king belonged to it or
it to the king was not clear), with the tenacious memory of small
coteries, still recollected Cavour as the self-willed student of the
Military Academy. Charles Albert himself made an occasional polite
inquiry of the Marquis as to his son's travels and his visits to
prisons and hospitals, but, unless report erred, he was speaking of
him to others as the most dangerous man in his kingdom. The degree
to which Cavour was hated by the conservatives is shown by one small
fact: he was treasurer of an Infant Asylum, but it was thought
necessary privately to ask him to retire for the good of the charity,
his connection with which set all the higher society against it. The
case with the radicals was no better. He belonged to an agricultural
association in which Valerio was a leading spirit; one day he asked
leave to speak, upon which almost all the members present left the
building. On this side, no doubt part of the antipathy arose from
the popular feeling against Cavour's father, who still occupied the
invidious and ill-defined office of Vicario. No particular ferocity
was laid at his door, but he was supposed to serve up all the private
affairs of the good Turinese to the king, and if any one got into
trouble he was thought to be the cause. When the liberals triumphed,
the first thing they did was to oblige him to resign. Then Cavour's
elder brother, though not retrograde on economic subjects, was a
conservative of the old school in politics. In later days Gustavo
always voted against Camillo. In politics the brothers were in
admirable agreement to differ; in fact, after the first trifling jars,
they dwelt to the end in unruffled harmony in the family palace, Via
dell' Arcivescovado. At the time when Gustavo was much better known at
Turin than Camillo the suspicious radical could not persuade himself
that one brother was not as much of an aristocrat as the other.
When Mr. Cobden was cordially received by both Marquis and Count,
a would-be wit exclaimed, "There goes Free-trade in the charge of
Monopoly," which was understood to refer to the false accusation
that the Cavours had stored up a quantity of grain in that year of
scarcity, 1847, in order to sell it dear, the truth being simply that
the improved cultivation introduced at Leri had secured fair crops in
a bad season.

The festivities in honour of the English Free-trader were promoted all
over Italy by Italians who were soon to become famous. The fact that
Cobden was an Englishman, even more than the outwardly harmless object
of his campaign, deterred the different governments from interfering
with him. Cavour proposed the health of the guest of the evening at
the Cobden banquet at Turin, but almost immediately after, he retired
to Leri, as he did not wish it to appear that he meant to embark on
public life while the existing political dead-lock lasted. There was
only room for conspirators or for those who extended toleration to the
_régime_ in force. It is doubtful if anything would have driven Cavour
to conspiracy against his own king, and he would have considered it
a personal disgrace to be mixed up with the men then in power. He
thought, therefore, that he could best serve his country by keeping
himself in reserve. He realised the futility of small concessions, and
the childishness of agitating to obtain them. He was the only
strong royalist who understood how far reform must go when it once
began--farther towards democracy than his own sympathies would have
carried him. If you want to use a mill-stream you must let it flow.

The situation in Piedmont was briefly this: Charles Albert's heart was
with the growing cry for independence, but he wished for independence
without liberty. This was the "secret of the king" which has been
sought for in all kinds of recondite suppositions: this was the key to
his apparently vacillating and inconsistent character. Yet he revealed
it himself in some words spoken to Roberto d'Azeglio, the elder
brother of Massimo. "Marquis d'Azeglio," he said, "I desire as much
as you do the enfranchisement of Italy, and it is for that reason,
remember well, that I will never give a constitution to my people."
While his government was a priestly despotism, he employed his leisure
in translating the sublime appeals to national sentiment in the
history of the Maccabees, of which, by a curious coincidence, Mazzini
once said that it seemed written for Italians. Charles Albert made the
mistake of forgetting the age in which he lived. His ancestors fought
the stranger without troubling themselves about representative
government--why should not he? But his ancestors represented in their
own persons the nerve and sinew of the State, its most adventurous
spirit, its strongest manhood, whereas Charles Albert represented only
the party of reaction which was with him in his absolutism but not
in his patriotism. He was accused of having changed sides, but, even
allowing his complicity in the movement of 1821 to have been greater
than he admitted, it is plain that the one thing which drew him into
that movement was its championship of Italian independence. Unlike the
Neapolitan revolutionists who disclaimed adventures for the freeing
of Italy, at least till they had made sure of their own freedom, the
liberals of Piedmont rose with the avowed purpose of rushing into an
immediate war with Austria. A madder scheme was never devised, but the
madness of one day is often the wisdom of the next. In politics really
disinterested acts bear fruit, whatever be their consequences to

The question which agitated all minds in 1847 was whether or not
Charles Albert could be gained to the liberal cause. Many despaired,
for by many even his Italian ambition was denied. Cavour had no
favourable opinion of the king, but it was one of his theories that
erroneous ideas always yield in the end to facts. He believed that
Charles Albert's support could be secured if he were fully persuaded
that the interests of his dynasty were not imperilled. He was not
afraid, as others were, that even after the first surrender the
wavering mind of the king would make retrogression probable; he
understood that, if reforms were more difficult to obtain in Piedmont
than elsewhere, they would be more durable when obtained. At last a
concession of real value was wrung from the king: the censure was
revoked. Cavour saw that the press, which till then had been a cipher,
would instantly become of vast importance. He left his retirement to
found a newspaper, to which he gave the name by which the Italian
movement will be known in history--_Il Risorgimento_. He was not a
born journalist, but he set himself with his usual determination to
learn the art. In after times he said that the experience gained in a
newspaper office was almost as profitable to him as the knowledge
of mathematics. Count Cesare Balbo was asked by Cavour to write the
prospectus of the new journal, in which its aims were described as
Independence, union between the princes and people, and reforms.
Cavour's name appeared as acting and responsible editor.

Balbo's work, _Le Speranze d'Italia_, had lately created an
impression, only second to that made by the Primato of Gioberti.
Practical men like Cavour preferred the simple programme which Balbo
put forward--the liberation of Italy from foreign yoke before all
things--to Gioberti's mystical outpourings, much as they pleased
the general. Gioberti, once a follower of Mazzini, and afterwards a
priest, imagined a United Italy, with the Pope at its head, which, to
unthinking souls, seemed to be on the road to miraculous realisation
when the amiable and popular Cardinal Mastai Feretti was invested with
the tiara. Cavour never had any hope in the Papacy as a political

The Genoese, impatient of the extreme slowness with which reforms were
meted out, proposed to send a deputation with a petition for a civic
guard, and the expulsion of the Jesuits, to whom the delay was
attributed, and who were regarded as the worst enemies of the liberal
Pope. The principal editors, with other influential citizens of Turin,
met at the Hôtel d'Europe to consider how the deputation should be
received, and if their demands were to be supported. The list of the
journalists present comprises the best names in the country; it would
be difficult to find more distinguished or disinterested pressmen than
those who were then writing for the Piedmontese newspapers. Valerio
was there to represent his new journal, _Concordia_, in which he
carried on war to the knife with Cavour. His high personal character,
as well as his talents, made him no inconsiderable opponent. It was at
this meeting that Cavour first entirely revealed himself. He showed
that faith in _the prudence of daring_ which was the keynote to his
great strokes of policy. The demands of the Genoese, he said, were not
too large, but too small. They hit wide of the mark, and the second of
them was idle, because the king, while he remained an absolute prince,
was certain not to consent to it. The government was now neither one
thing nor the other; it had lost the authority of an autocracy, and
had not gained that of a _régime_ based on the popular will. The
situation was intolerable and dangerous; what was wanted was not this
or that reform, but a constitution.

Constitutions seem tame to us now, but to speak of a constitution at
Turin on January 18, 1848, was almost as audacious as it would be to
speak of it at St. Petersburg at the present time. Europe stood at the
brink of a precipice, but knew it not. The news had only just spread
of the first symptom of revolution--the rising in Sicily. Cavour's
speech was a moral bomb-shell. Most politicians begin by asking for
more or less than the measure which finally contents them; those
who cried for a republic have been known to put up with a limited
monarchy; those who preached the most moderate reforms, at a later
stage have danced round trees of liberty. Cavour asked at once
for what he wanted and all that he wanted as far as the internal
organisation of the State was concerned. From first to last he
believed that a constitutional monarchy was the only form of
government which, in a country like Italy, could combine freedom with
order. Under no narrower system would he accept office, and when in
office nothing could make him untrue to his constitutional faith; "no
state of siege" was the axiom of his political life.

How his proposal was received shows the difficulties with which he had
to contend from the outset. The more moderate members of the meeting
thought that he had taken leave of his senses. This was natural. Less
natural was the tooth and nail opposition of Valerio, who declared
that a constitution much exceeded the desires of the people, and that
a petition for it would only frighten the king. He carried all the
radicals with him except Brofferio, an honest patriot and the writer
of charming poems in the Piedmontese dialect, which gave him a great
popularity. Brofferio was an ultra-democrat, but he was no party man,
and he had the courage to walk over to the unpopular editor of the
_Risorgimento_ with the remark, "I shall always be with those who ask
the most." Valerio made no secret among his private friends of the
real reasons of his conduct. What was the good of wasting efforts on
some sort of English constitution, perhaps with a House of Lords and
other such abominations? Was it likely that anything worth having
would be excogitated by Milord Camillo, the greatest reactionary in
the kingdom, the sworn foe of revolution, "un Anglomane pur sang?" A
constitution could only check the revolution and stifle the legitimate
aspirations of the people. The nickname of "Milord Camillo" or "Milord
_Risorgimento_" was in everyone's mouth when speaking of Cavour.

A short time sufficed to show not only the expediency but the
necessity of granting a constitution, and that at once. Events never
moved so fast as in the first two months of 1848. The throne of Louis
Philippe was tottering, and, with the exception of the Duke of Modena,
the princelings of Italy snatched the plank of safety of a statute
with the alacrity of drowning men. In this crisis Charles Albert
thought of abdication. Besides the known causes of his hesitancy,
there was one then unknown: the formal engagement, invented by
Metternich and forced upon him by his uncle Charles Felix, to govern
the country as he found it governed. He called the members of the
royal family together and informed them that if there must be a
constitution there must, but the decree which bestowed it would be
signed by his son. The queen and the Duchess of Savoy, who were both
extremely afraid of him, sat in silence; the handsome Duke of Genoa
tried to prove that constitutions were not such dreadful things;
Victor Emmanuel opposed his intention of abdicating in resolute terms.
Then he summoned a high ecclesiastic, who succeeded in convincing him
that it would be a greater sin to abandon his people in their need
than to break a promise he could no longer maintain. After mortifying
the flesh with fasts and vigils, he yielded, and the famous decree
bore the signature "C. Alberto" after all,--not written indeed in the
king's usually beautiful character, but betraying rather a trembling
hand, which nevertheless registered a great because a permanent
fact. This was not the prelude to perjury and expulsion. Around the
Sardinian statute were united the scattered limbs of Italy, and after
fifty years Charles Albert's grandson commemorated its promulgation at
the Capitol.

Not a man in the crowd at Turin dared to anticipate such a result:
yet their joy was frantic. Fifty thousand people, arranged in guilds,
defiled before the king, who sat like a statue on his bay horse,
upright and impassible. Cavour walked in the company of journalists,
and all those who had opposed him a few weeks before were there too,
with Valerio at their head. They sang their strophe of Mameli's hymn,
"Fratelli d'Italia," very badly. Cavour whispered to his neighbour,
"We are so many dogs!"

That neighbour, a Milanese named Giuseppe Torelli, has left an
interesting description of Cavour's appearance as it was then. He was
fresh-coloured, and his blue eyes had not yet lost their brightness,
but they were so changeful in expression that it was difficult to fix
their distinctive quality. Though rather stout he was not ungainly, as
he tended to become later. He stooped a little, and two narrow lines
were visible on either side of a mouth, cold and uneffusive; but these
lines, by their trembling or contraction, showed the play of inward
emotion which the rest of the face concealed. In after days people
used to watch them in order to guess his state of mind. It was his
large and solid forehead that chiefly gave the idea of power which
every one who saw him carried away, despite of the want of dignity in
his person and of strongly-marked features in his face. His manners
were simple, but distinguished by an unmistakably aristocratic ease
and courtesy. He spoke generally low and without emphasis, and always
appeared to pay great attention to what was said to him, even by the
least important person.

Nothing, on the face of it, could seem more extraordinary than the
exclusion of Cavour from office in the momentous year of 1848. But
he had no popular party at his back whose cry could overrule the
disinclination which the king certainly felt towards making him his
Minister. Moreover, his abilities, though now generally recognised,
contributed to keeping him in the background: it was felt
instinctively that if he got the reins there would be only one driver.
He was known to be indifferent to criticism, and while he listened
patiently to advice, he rarely took it. He had mortally offended the
conservatives by the liberalism of his means, and the liberals by the
conservatism of his ends. Count Balbo, on assuming the office of the
first Prime Minister under the Statute, not only retired from the
directing council of the _Risorgimento_, but went out of his way to
disavow the policy supported in it by Cavour. "The little rascal," he
was heard to say, "will end by ruining the splendid edifice raised
by the wisdom and moderation of so many estimable men!" The
splendid edifice was on the verge of being nearly ruined, but by
timidity--which has lost a score of thrones,--not by audacity. The new
Cabinet entered upon their duties on March 16. Two days later
occurred an event utterly unforeseen--the rising of Milan against the
Austrians. It took them unprepared. They had talked so much about war
that perhaps they thought it would happen in the next century. When
the "now or never" sounded, which does sound sooner or later in all
human affairs, they hesitated or suffered the king to hesitate, which
came to the same thing. That Charles Albert stood for one instant in
doubt when the hour was come desired by him all his life, as he had
often stated, and there is no reason to think untruly, is possibly the
most serious stain on his memory. There are moments when to reflect
is criminal: a man has no right to reflect when his mother is in a
burning house. The reflections which held Charles Albert back were
two. He was afraid that the Milan revolution would breed a republic,
and he was afraid of England and of Russia. England, which during the
previous autumn had sent Lord Minto to urge upon the Italian princes
a line of policy rightly described by Prince Metternich as inevitably
leading to an attack on Austria, now applied the whole force of her
diplomacy to stop the ball she had herself set running. The spectacle
of Lord Palmerston trying to save or serve Austria, which he detested,
in obedience to the atavistic tendencies of the Foreign Office, is
a lesson in history. For English politicians of whatever party or
private sentiments, Austria was still what Lord Castlereagh called
her: "The great hinge on which the fate of Europe must ultimately
depend." Sir Ralph Abercromby assured the king that "the least act of
aggression" would place his throne in jeopardy. His throne was already
in jeopardy, but from the contrary reason. Each minute that passed
while the Milanese were fighting their death struggle and he stood
inactive threatened to deprive him and his house of that power of
progress on which not only their fortune but their existence depended.

The news from Milan reached Turin on March 19; on the 23rd, the last
of the Milan days, king and ministry were still hesitating. On that
day Cavour printed in the _Risorgimento_ the most impassioned piece
of writing that ever came from his pen. The conservative, the
reactionary, once more cried aloud that audacity was prudence,
temerity wisdom. The supreme hour of the Savoy dynasty had struck,
the hour of strong resolves, on which hangs the fate of empires, the
destinies of peoples. Hesitation, doubt, delay, were no more possible:
they could only prove fatal. "We, men of calm minds, accustomed to
listen more to the dictates of reason than to the impulses of the
heart, after deliberately weighing each word we utter, are bound in
conscience to declare that only one path is open to the nation, the
government, the king: war, immediate war!" It was said, he continued,
that Russia and England were on the point of uniting against Italy. In
common times such an argument would be conclusive, not now. When Milan
was struggling for life, was perhaps getting worsted, at all costs
they were bound to fly to the rescue. Duty, brotherhood, policy,
commanded it. Woe unto them if they crossed the frontier to find that
Milan had fallen.

Russia, through her ambassador, intimated that she would regard the
crossing of the Ticino as a _casus belli._ The threat made less
impression at Turin than the warnings of Sir Ralph Abercromby; it was
the possibility of English intervention, therefore, that Cavour went
on to examine. The _Anglomane_ "Milord _Risorgimento_" was less
surprised at the current of English official thought than were his
radical critics, but would any English minister, he asked, enter on a
European war to prevent the liberation of Italy, which was an object
sacred in the eyes of the mass of the English people? He believed it
to be impossible, but were it so, so be it! England would have against
her a mighty coalition, not of princes, as in former days, but of
peoples, in the old world and in the new. Victory in such a matricidal
strife would be as fatal to the first-born of liberty as defeat.

Thus Cavour was prepared to fight Austria, Russia, and England. The
division of parties at that time was in its essence the division of
those who were willing to accept a republican solution and those
who were not. It does not follow that all the liberals wished for a
republic, but they would all have taken office under it. Of this there
is little doubt. Cavour never would have become a republican any more
than an absolutist minister. But he saw what the other conservatives
failed to see, that the dynasty of Savoy could only live if it led.

On March 22, Charles Albert was still assuring the Austrian Ambassador
that his intentions were pacific. Next day Cavour's article appeared,
and in the evening the king decided for instant war. Only two of
the ministers assented at once; the others gave in after a long
discussion. War was declared on the 25th. Time lost cannot be
recalled; the happy moment had been let go by; Piedmont went not to
Lombardy engaged in a dangerous struggle, but to Lombardy victorious.
Cavillers said that the king had come to eat the fruits others had
gathered. Confidence in the ultimate result reached the point of
madness, but with revolution stalking through the streets of Vienna
the Austrian eagle seemed to have lost its talons. In May 1848, in
Austria itself, Lombardy was looked upon as completely lost, and with
it the Southern Tyrol as far as Meran, for no one at that period
thought of separating this Italian district from Italy; the most
sanguine Austrians only hoped to save Venetia. Radetsky alone expected
to save all, because he knew what he could do, and he had judged
Sardinian generalship correctly. Charles Albert's staff seemed to have
but one idea--to reverse the tactics which had led the first Napoleon
to victory on the same ground.

The brightest gleam of success which shone on the king of Sardinia's
arms was at Goito, in the battle of May 30. It was on that occasion
that Cavour's nephew, Augusto di Cavour, was killed. The _enfant
terrible_ grew up to be a young man of singular promise, on whom
Cavour had fixed all his hopes for the future of his name and house.
His uncle's last letter of encouragement to do his duty was found on
Augusto's body. The blow unnerved Cavour; he was found lying prostrate
in an agony of speechless grief. Through his life he kept the
blood-stained uniform in which the young officer received his
death-wound in a glass case in his bedroom, a piece of enduring
sentiment which shows how unlike Cavour was the coldly calculating
egotist whose portrait has passed for his.

The story of the years of revolution in Italy is a story of great
things and small, like most human records; but, when all is said, the
great predominate, for no blunders could efface the readiness for
self-sacrifice displayed by the whole people. The experience of these
years was bitter, but possibly necessary. It destroyed illusions.
It showed, for instance, that in the nineteenth century a free and
independent Italy under the hegemony of the Pope belonged to political
mythology. Here was a Pope who was, at heart, patriotic, but who drew
back at the crucial moment, precisely as Mazzini (almost alone) had
predicted. The first threat of a schism was enough to make him wear
dust and ashes for his patriotism. The Bourbons of Naples were
ascertained to have learnt nothing and unlearnt nothing; perfidy alone
could be expected from them. It was proved that the princes of the
other states, Piedmont excepted, must gravitate towards Austria even
if they did not wish it. All this was useful, if dearly bought,

At the first general elections in Piedmont, Cavour failed to obtain a
seat. He told the electors in his address that he had always desired
_Italia unita e libera_, and if "united" did not yet imply "under
one king," the phrase was still significant. Two months later he was
elected in four divisions; probably the death of his nephew in
the interim on the field of battle modified, for the time, his
unpopularity. He took his seat for the first college of Turin. He did
not make an immediate impression; his short stature, and still more
the imperfect accent with which he spoke Italian, were not in his
favour. French was allowed in the Sardinian Chamber, but Cavour never
opened his lips in it in Parliament. By degrees his speeches became
marvels of close reasoning, and they even soared, sometimes, when
he was deeply moved, into a kind of eloquence superior to that of
rhetoric, but the accent was never such as would satisfy a fastidious
ear. The day came, however, when people hung with too much anxiety on
the least of his utterances for any one to notice this defect. Cavour
sat on the Right, and from the first he horrified his colleagues on
the same benches by the enunciation of views which to them were rank
heresies. They existed in a state of perpetual uneasiness as to what
he might say or do next.

Cavour was not re-elected when Parliament was dissolved in January
1849; he was therefore not in the Chamber during the debates which
preceded and followed the last desperate throw of Novara. A letter
written by him six days after the battle shows what he thought of
those events. The Conservative party, he says, which represented the
great majority in the country, had been badly supported by it (an
assertion as true now as then). The king threw himself into the arms
of demagogues who thought that freedom and independence were to be won
by phrases and proclamations. The army had been disheartened, the best
officers kept inactive; twelve months' sacrifices of men and money
placed them in a worse condition than before the Milan revolution.
Self-love might, he concluded, warp his judgment, but he had the
intimate conviction that, if he had held the reins of power, he could
have saved the country without any effort of genius, and planted the
Italian flag on the Styrian Alps. But his friends joined with his foes
to keep him out of power, and he had passed his time in deploring
faults which it would have been very easy to avoid.

Remembering what Cavour afterwards accomplished, these are words which
should not be set lightly aside. Yet it is possible that the complete
disaster into which Charles Albert rushed at Novara was the only thing
to save the country and to lay the foundations of Italian unity. The
king was more eager for war than the most unthinking democrat. Reviled
by all parties, he sought the great conciliator, death. "The Italians
will never trust me," he exclaimed. "My son, Victor, will be king of
Italy, not I." When the death he would have chosen was denied him, he
went away, a crownless exile. He could do no more.

It was necessary, as Charles Albert had seen, that the king who was to
carry out the destinies of Italy should be trusted. Victor Emmanuel
came to the throne with few advantages; he was unpopular, his private
friends were said to be reactionaries, his brusque manners offended
most people. He had practically no advisers in these critical moments,
but the moral courage with which he refused the Austrian offers of
lenient terms if he would repudiate the Statute and his father's word,
won for him the nation's trust, which he never lost. Cavour, with all
his genius, could not have made the kingdom of Italy if the Italians
had doubted their king.



The condition of Italy, Cavour said, was worse at the end of the
year's struggle than at the beginning. Such was the case, if the
present only were looked at. When Austria resumed her sway in Lombardy
and Venetia she resumed it by the right of the conqueror, a more
intelligible, and in a sense a more legitimate, right than that
derived from bargains and treaties in which the population had no
voice. The House of Hapsburg was saved in Italy by one loyal servant,
Radetsky, and in Hungary by the Ban of Croatia and 200,000 Russians.
Besides the regained supremacy in the Lombardo-Veneto, Austria was
more predominant in the centre and south than in the palmiest days of
the Holy Alliance. A keen observer might have held that she was too
predominant to be safe. Talleyrand always said that if Italy were
united under Austria she would escape from her, not sooner or later,
but in a few years. There was not political unity, but there may
almost be said to have been moral unity. Even in Rome, in spite of the
French garrison, Austrian influence counted for much more than French.
When Victor Emmanuel gave the premiership to Massimo d'Azeglio, Cavour
remarked that he was glad of the appointment, and equally so that
D'Azeglio had not asked him to be his colleague, because in the actual
circumstances it seemed to him difficult or impossible to do any good.
D'Azeglio could not have offered Cavour a portfolio without undoing
the effect of his own appointment, by which confidence in Victor
Emmanuel was confirmed. The king was not sufficiently known for it to
be wise to place beside him an unpopular man, a suspected _codino_,
the nickname ("pig-tail") given to reactionaries. D'Azeglio, who was
really prepared to go far less far than Cavour, was almost loved
even by his political enemies, a wonderful phenomenon in Italy. His
patriotism had been lately sealed by the severe wound he received
at Vicenza. To rigid principles he added attractive and chivalric
manners, which smoothed his relations with the young king, who, if
brusque himself, did not like brusqueness in others.

Cavour retired, as became his wont, to enjoy the sweetness of
rural leisure at Leri: for him the sovereign remedy to political
disquietude. The well-cultivated fields, the rich grass lands, in the
contemplation of which he took a peaceful but lively satisfaction,
restored as usual his mental equilibrium, and brought back the
hopefulness of his naturally sanguine temperament. Before long he was
exhorting his friends to be of good cheer; while liberty existed in
a single corner of the peninsula there was no need to despair; if
Piedmont kept her institutions free from despotism and anarchy, these
would be the means of working efficaciously for the regeneration of
the country. To those who went to see him he said, rubbing his hands
(a sure sign that he was regaining his spirits), "We shall begin
again, and, profiting by past mistakes, we shall do better next time."
Probably he foresaw that "next time" he would have the game in his own

The king had done his part by proving his resolve to uphold the
constitution, but all danger for liberty in Piedmont did not cease
there. The members of the party which had ruled during the earlier
years of Charles Albert's reign did not give themselves up for lost.
They cherished the hope of using the constitution to overturn liberty.
On the face of things, the moral to be drawn from recent history
was for and not against them. They could say that the only patent
consequence of the change of system was that the country had been
plunged in disaster, that blood and money had been wasted with no
other effect than a bankrupt exchequer, a beaten army, trade at a
standstill, misery stalking through the land. This party, which was
by no means weak, could reckon on the compact support of Savoy, where
Italian patriotism was as scarce as true and chivalric attachment to
the royal house was abundant. Above all, it had the support of the
whole power of the Church, which, through its corporations and
religious orders and its army of priests, exercised an influence
in Piedmont unparalleled in Austria or in Spain. If the liberal
institutions of the country were to be preserved, it was necessary to
strike a blow at this party by weakening the arch on which it reposed.
Religious toleration had been proclaimed in Piedmont as one of the
first reforms, the concession having been obtained from Charles Albert
by the Marquis Robert d'Azeglio, a conservative and a profoundly
convinced Catholic, but a lover of justice and mercy, who esteemed
it the happiest day of his life when, through his interposition,
the faithful Vaudois were granted the rights of free citizens. But
legislation had not yet touched the extraordinary privileges arrogated
to itself by the Church. One of these, the _Foro ecclesiastico_, a
special court for the judgment of ecclesiastical offenders against
the common law, it was now proposed to abolish. It was a test
measure--like throwing down the gauntlet. Cavour had been re-elected
when the king dissolved Parliament by what is known as the
Proclamation of Moncalieri, and in the debates on the _Foro
ecclesiastico_ for the first time he made his power felt in the
Chamber. He spoke as one who had long thought out the subject and had
chosen his policy: "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's,
and to God the things which are God's."

At this first stage in the long struggle the Roman curia might have
settled the matter in a friendly way, but it would not. Cardinal
Antonelli replied to a respectful invitation, that "the Holy Father
was ready to go to the ante-chamber of the devil's house to please the
king of Sardinia, but he really could not go inside." Yet, at the
same date, the Archbishop of Paris (Sibour) admitted to a Piedmontese
visitor that the Sardinian Government had no option under the new
institutions but to establish the equality of all citizens before the
law, and in Austria they were laughing at the progressive monarchy in
its laborious efforts to obtain reforms carried out in the despotic
empire by Joseph II. The reason that Rome refused to treat was that
she thought herself strong and Sardinia weak. Writers on this period
have too readily assumed that the Church, by the law of its being,
must always cry "no compromise!" Of course nothing can be more
erroneous. The Church has yielded as many times as it thought itself
obliged to yield. What other inference can be deduced from the strange
and romantic story of the suppression of the Jesuits? and, to
cite only one more instance, from the deposition of bishops for
extra-canonical reasons conceded by Pius VII. to the First Consul? The
curia thought that Victor Emmanuel would end at Canossa, but he ended
instead in the Pantheon. It should be remembered, however, that the
quarrel had nothing then to do with the dispute between pope and king
on the broader grounds of the possession of Rome. That dispute was
still in the darkness of the future. Sardinia had not given even moral
support to the Roman Republic.

In Cavour's able speech of March 7, 1850, he observed that his
friends, the Liberal Conservatives, feared the erection of the
priesthood into a party hostile to the State. Peace was precious, but
too heavy sacrifices might be made even to it. He himself trusted that
in the long run the priesthood would recognise the necessity to modern
society of the union of the two great moral forces, religion and
liberty. Europe was threatened with universal revolution; only large
and courageous reforms could stem the tide. M. Guizot might have
saved the throne of Louis Philippe had he yielded to the demand for
electoral reform. Why had there been no revolution in England? Because
the Duke of Wellington in 1829, Lord Grey in 1832, and Sir Robert Peel
in 1846, understood the exigencies of their epoch, proving themselves
thereby to be the first statesmen of the time. Uninfluenced by the
furious attacks on him as an _Anglomane_, Cavour took the first
opportunity of reaffirming from his seat in Parliament the admiration
for English methods which he had constantly expressed outside. He
closed his speech by appealing to Government to persevere in its
policy of large and fearless reforms, which, far from weakening the
constitutional throne, would so strengthen its roots that not only
would Piedmont be enabled to resist the revolutionary storm should it
break around its borders, but also "gathering to itself all the living
forces in Italy, it would be in a position to lead our mother-country
to those high destinies whereunto she is called."

The effect of this peroration was inconceivable. Here was the first
word of hope publicly uttered since the _débâcle_! People in the
galleries who had seen Cavour usually silenced by clamour and howls
heard the applause with astonishment, and then joined in it. All the
ministers rose to shake hands with the speaker. Any other man would
have become popular at once, but against Cavour prejudice was too
strong for a fleeting success to remove it. From that day, however,
he was listened to. He was no longer a _quantité négligeable_ in the
politics of Italy or of Europe.

One of the ministers, Count Pietro di Santa Rosa, died within a few
months of the bill on the _Foro_ becoming law, and the last sacraments
were denied to him because he refused to sign a retractation of the
political acts of the cabinet of which he was a member. Cavour was an
old friend of Santa Rosa. He was present when he died, and he heard
from the Countess the particulars of the distressing scene when the
priest in the harshest manner withheld the consolations of religion
from the dying man, who was a pious Catholic, but who had the strength
of mind even in death not to dishonour himself and his colleagues.
Cavour wrote an indignant article in the _Risorgimento_ denouncing the
party spite which could cause such cruel anguish under a religious
cloak, and the people of Turin became so much excited that if the
further indignity of a refusal of Christian burial had been resorted
to, as at first seemed probable, the lives of the priests in the city
would hardly have been safe. Everything seemed to point to Cavour as
Santa Rosa's successor, but Massimo d'Azeglio felt nervous at taking
the final step. He was encouraged to it by General La Marmora, the
friend of both, who declared that "Camillo was a _gran buon diavolo_,"
who would grow more moderate when "with us." Cavour accepted the
offered post of Minister of Agriculture and Commerce, but not without
making terms. He exacted the retirement of a minister whom he
considered incurably timorous, especially in ecclesiastical
legislation. The point was yielded, but D'Azeglio said to La Marmora,
"We are beginning badly with your _buon diavolo_." The good Massimo
got no comfort from the king: "Don't you see that this man will turn
you all out?" Victor Emmanuel casually remarked, or rather he made use
of a stronger idiom in his native dialect, which would not well bear
translation. The king refrained from opposing the appointment, but he
did not pretend that he liked it.

About that time Cavour paid a visit to the Piedmontese shore of the
Lago Maggiore, where he made the acquaintance of the author of the
_Promessi Sposi_. Perhaps by reason of his poetic instinct Manzoni
expected great things of him from the first. "That little man promises
very well," he told the poet Berchet. And he opened his heart to
Cavour, telling him that dream of Italian unity which he had always
cherished, but which, as he said in his old age, he kept a secret for
fear of being thought a madman. They looked across the blue line of
water; there, on the other side, was Austria. Had Cavour said what he
thought, he would have responded, "That is the first stone to move."
But he did not enter upon a discussion; he merely murmured, rubbing
his hands, "We shall do something!"

To the end Cavour evoked more ready sympathy among men of the other
provinces than among the Piedmontese, although these last came to
repose the blind trust in him which the Duke of Wellington's soldiers
reposed in their leader--a trust born of the conviction that he would
lead to victory. Latterly this was Victor Emmanuel's own way of
feeling towards Cavour. Sympathy was always lacking.

On taking office Cavour sold his shares in the agricultural and
industrial speculations which he had promoted, with the exception of
one company, then not in a flourishing state, and likely to collapse
if he withdrew his name. He also severed his connection with the
_Risorgimento_, which had cost him much money and made him many
enemies, but he believed that the services rendered by it to the cause
of orderly liberty were incalculable. He never regretted his years of
work in the _antro_, the wild beasts' den, as the advanced liberals
called the office of the journal, a name gaily adopted by himself.
As editor of the _Risorgimento_ he fought his one duel; a scandalous
attack on the personal honesty of the writers was made by a Jewish
financier in an obscure Nizzard sheet; an encounter with pistols
followed in which no one was hurt, but both sides seemed to have aimed
in earnest. There is a tragic absurdity in the possible extinction
of such a life as Cavour's on so paltry an occasion; yet, in the
surroundings in which he moved, he could not have passed over the
worthless attack in the silent contempt it deserved without being
called a coward. At the conclusion of the duel he walked away, turning
his back on his adversary, but no long time elapsed before, as
minister, he was taking trouble to obtain for this man some honorific
bauble which his vanity coveted.

On taking office, Cavour doubted for a moment his own future, the
doubt common to men who reach a position they have waited for too
long. In these times, he wrote, politicians were soon used up;
probably it would be so with him. But the work of his department
dispelled gloomy thoughts: as Minister of Commerce he negotiated
treaties with France, England, and Belgium in which a step was made
towards realising his favourite theories on free trade. Before long he
was also made Minister of the Marine; it was taken for granted that
he could do as much work as two or three other men. Though both these
offices were secondary, Cavour became insensibly leader of the house.
Questions on whatever subject were answered by him, and he was not
careful to consult his chief as to the tenor of his replies. Massimo
d'Azeglio said with a rueful smile that he was now like Louis
Philippe: he ruled, but did not govern. Cavour stated his own
opinions, whether they were popular or unpopular, consonant with those
of his party or directly opposed to them. A deputy asked Government
to interfere with the mode and substance of the teaching in the
seminaries. Cavour immediately answered that he would hold such
interference to be a most fatal act of absolutism; the person to
control the instruction given in the seminaries was the bishop; let
bishops play the part of theologians, not of deputies, and let the
Government govern, and not play the theologian. Some one pointed out
that this was quite at variance with what had been said by the other
ministers; Cavour excused himself towards his colleagues, but repeated
that the principle was one of supreme importance. He had spoken "less
as a minister than as a politician." And he never learnt to speak
otherwise until there was a ministry in which (to borrow a once often
quoted witticism) all the ministers were called Cavour.

The energy with which Cavour repudiated the idea of interfering with
the seminaries is interesting on other grounds. Possibly he was the
only continental statesman who ever saw liberty in an Anglo-Saxon
light. This is further shown by the policy he advocated in dealing
with the Jesuits. He did not like the Society, which he described as a
worse scourge to humanity than communism. You must not judge its real
nature, he said, by observing it where its position is contested and
precarious. Look at it, rather, where it has a loose rein, where it
can apply its rules in a logical and consequent manner, where
the whole education of youth is in its hands. The result is _une
génération abâtardie_. But the remedy he proposed was not repression.
He wished to grant the Jesuits three, four, ten times the liberty they
gave to others in the countries under their power. In a free country
they could do no harm; they would be always obliged to modify and
transform themselves and would never gain a real empire either in the
world of politics or intellect The great Pombal, who may be called the
Cavour of Portugal, took his conception of a free state from England,
like the Italian statesman, but he did not understand that persecution
is an unfortunate way of inaugurating liberty. This is what for Cavour
was "a principle of supreme importance."

In April 1851 Cavour took the office of Minister of Finance; he had
exacted the resignation of his predecessor, Nigra, as the price of
his remaining in the Cabinet. The Minister of Public Instruction also
resigned owing to disagreements with the now all-powerful member
of the Government, and was replaced by a nominee of Cavour's, L.C.
Farini, the Romagnol exile, author of _Lo Stato Romano_, whose
appointment was significant from a national point of view,
notwithstanding his ultra-conservative opinions. Cavour mentioned that
Farini's work had been praised by Mr. Gladstone, "one of the most
illustrious statesmen in Europe," at which the Chamber applauded
wildly, as Cavour intended it to do. Ever watchful for any sign from
abroad which could profit Italy, he was glad of what seemed a chance
opportunity to provoke a demonstration in honour of the writer of the
_Letters to Lord Aberdeen_ on the Neapolitan prisons, which were just
then creating an immense sensation. In Italy Mr. Gladstone was the
most popular man of the hour; in France, still calling itself a
republic, all parties except the reduced ranks of the advanced
liberals were very angry--not with King Bomba, but with his accuser. A
harmless cousin of Mr. Gladstone was blackballed in a club in Paris on
account of the name he bore. Nobody ever had such a good heart as the
king of Naples, Count Walewski went about declaring, in support of
which he told Mr. Monckton Milnes that Ferdinand had recently granted
his request to pardon three hundred prisoners against whom nothing was
proved. "How grateful they must have been," replied the Englishman;
"did not they come and thank you for having obtained their
deliverance?" Taken off his guard and unconscious of the irony,
Walewski made the admission that the three hundred were debarred from
the pleasure of paying him a visit because, though pardoned, they were
not released!

This little story was related to Lord Palmerston, in whom it fanned
the fuel of the indignation roused by Mr. Gladstone's _Letters_, of
which he had written that "they revealed a system of illegality,
injustice, and cruelty which one would not have imagined possible
nowadays in Europe." But he employed still stronger language against
the Austrians, whose method of reimposing their rule in Lombardy had
lost them all their friends in England, for the time at least, and had
worked their foes up to the point of fury. Those were the days when
they sang at Vienna:

  Hat der Teufel einen Sohn,
  So ist er sicher Palmerston.

Lord Palmerston was coming to a conclusion about Italian matters; it
was this: that, great as were the objections to the deliverance of
Italy from the Austrians by French aid, yet it would be better for
her to be delivered so than not at all. The same conclusion had been
reached by Cavour, except that he would not have admitted unending
servitude to be the alternative; he was too patriotic and too
resourceful for that. He kept in view other contingencies: European
complications, the organic disruption of Austria, even at that early
date, the foundation of a German empire. But in 1851, as in 1859, the
aid of France was the one means of shaking off the Austrian yoke,
which was morally certain to succeed For him, however, the French
alliance was only a speck in the distance. He did not think, as Lord
Palmerston seems to have thought, that a French liberating army might
be "very soon" expected in the Lombard plains. When Louis Napoleon
swept away the impediments between himself and the Imperial throne,
Cavour was less moved by the violence of the act than by the hope that
its consequences might be favourable to Italy. The Prince-President
tranquilly awaited the eight million votes which should transform him
from a political brigand into a legitimised emperor, and Cavour left
him to the judgment of his own countrymen. He saw no need to be more
severe than they. It is easy to conceive a higher morality, but as yet
it has not been applied to politics. As Cavour remarked, "Franklin
sought the help of the most despotic monarch in Europe," and the
analogies in recent history do not require to be recalled.

An inferior statesman who, like Cavour, contemplated foreign aid as
an ultimate resource, would have lost his interest and slackened his
activity in home politics. It was not so with him. Before all other
things he placed the necessity of consolidating Piedmont as a
constitutional State, and of preparing her morally and materially to
take her part in the struggle when it came. If that were not done,
a new Bonaparte might indeed cross the Alps in the character of
liberator, but a free Italy would be no more the result of his
intervention than it had been of his uncle's. Cavour was meditating
the stroke of policy which gave him the power to carry out this work
of consolidation and preparation. He ruled the ministry, but he did
not rule the House and, through it, the country. The Sardinian Chamber
of Deputies was composed of the Right Centre, the Extreme Right, the
Left Centre, and the Extreme Left. The Extreme Right was loyal to the
House of Savoy, but contrary to Italian aspirations; the Extreme Left
was strongly Italian, but the degree of its loyalty was hit off in
Massimo d'Azeglio's _mot_ "Viva Vittorio, il re provisorio" ("Long
live Victor, the provisional king"). There remained the two
Centres representing the liberal conservatives and the moderate
liberals--"moderate radicals" would be more correct, if the verbal
contradiction be permitted. But neither of these single-handed could
support a stable and independent government. Every ministry must exist
on the sufferance of its opponents, and in terror of the vagaries of
the advanced section on its own side. At any critical moment a passing
breeze might overthrow it. The only antidote to the recklessness or
obstructiveness of extreme parties lay in dissolution; but to dissolve
a parliament just elected, as Victor Emmanuel had once been forced to
do already, would be a fatal expedient if repeated often. Any student
of representative government would suggest the amalgamation of the two
Centres as the true remedy, but so great were the difficulties in the
way of this, that not half a dozen persons in Piedmont believed it to
be possible. Cavour himself thought about it for a year before making
the final move The acerbities of Italian party politics are not
softened by the good social relations and the general mutual
confidence in purity of motive which prevail in England. Hitherto
Cavour and the brilliant and plausible leader of the Left Centre had
not entertained flattering opinions of each other. Rattazzi thought
Cavour an ambitious and aggressive publicist rather than a patriot
statesman, and Cavour knew Rattazzi to be the minister who led the
country to Novara. But he appreciated his value as a parliamentary
ally; he had the qualities in which Cavour himself was most deficient.
Urbano Rattazzi (born at Alessandria in 1808) was famous as one of the
best speakers at the Piedmontese bar before entering the Chamber.
He was a perfect master of Italian; his manners were popular and
insinuating. He was richly endowed with all those secondary gifts
which often carry a man along faster, though less far, than the
highest endowments. If he had not power, he had elasticity; if not
judgment, cleverness. He always drifted, which made him always appear
the politician up to date. His name was then associated with one
catastrophe; before he died it was to be linked with two others,
Aspromonte and Mentana; but such was his ability as a leader that he
retained a compact following to the last.

Cavour rarely made a man's antecedents a reason for not turning him to
account; but there was one point on which he required to be reassured
before seeking an understanding with Rattazzi--this was whether his
fidelity to the monarchy could be entirely depended on. Cavour's old
friend and fellow worker of the _Risorgimento_, M.A. Castelli, who was
acquainted with the leader of the Left, opportunely bore witness to
Rattazzi's genuine loyalty, and Cavour hesitated no longer to come to
an agreement which every day proved to be more imperative. After
the _Coup d'état_, the Extreme Right, led by the Count de Revel
and General Menabrea, adopted the tactics of professing to believe
untenable the position of a free State wedged in between the old
despotism of Austria and the new one of France. The argument was
ingenious and was likely to make converts. It was urgently necessary
to form a new political combination which should reduce this party to

Cavour's compact with Rattazzi was concluded in the first month of
1852, but at first it was kept a profound secret. It was divulged, as
it were, accidentally in the course of a debate on a Bill which was
intended to moderate the attacks of the press on foreign sovereigns.
This was the only form of restriction which Cavour, then and
afterwards, was willing to countenance. He held that the excuse for
umbrage given to foreign rulers by personal invective published in
the newspapers was a danger to the State which no government ought to
tolerate. The Extreme Right and Left were immediately up in arms, the
first declaring that the Bill did not go far enough, and the second
that it went too far. Both affected to consider it the first step to
more stringent anti-liberal measures--invoked by one side and abhorred
by the other. It was then that Rattazzi made the announcement that
although he did not mean to vote for this particular Bill, he intended
to support the Ministry through the session which had just begun,
if, as he believed, this Bill was an isolated measure, and did not
indicate a change of policy. Cavour acknowledged the promise in words
which left no doubt that a prior agreement existed between the two
leaders. He repudiated the reactionary tendencies of Menabrea and
his Savoyards, even, he said ironically, at the risk of so great a
misfortune as that of losing the weak support which they had lately
bestowed on Government, Count de Revel retorted that the Ministry had
divorced the Right and made a marriage (_connubio_) with the party
which drove Charles Albert to his doom and to an exile's death in a
foreign land. The alliance between the Centres was henceforth known by
the nickname thus conferred on it, which has been repeated since by
hundreds who have forgotten its origin.

It is difficult to describe the sensation which this scene created,
and no one was more astonished than D'Azeglio, who, with the other
ministers, had been kept entirely in the dark. By all ordinary
rules Cavour ought to have communicated with his colleagues before
revolutionising the parliamentary chessboard. The more sure he felt
of their opposition the less easy is it to justify him for taking so
grave a step without their knowledge. On public grounds, however
(and these were the only grounds on which Cavour ever acted in his
political life), it was desirable that the _Connubio_ should be an
accomplished fact before it was exposed to discussion. D'Azeglio was
very angry, but he hated scandal, and he refrained from disowning the
act of his imperious colleague. He was none the less determined never
to sit in the same Cabinet with Rattazzi. One reason he gave for it
was characteristic. The leader of the Left had debts, and was not in
a hurry to pay them. When Rattazzi, through Cavour's instrumentality,
was elected President of the Chamber, D'Azeglio felt again aggrieved.
Cavour, who began by treating his chief's antipathy to his new ally
as a prejudice to be made fun of, and in the end dispelled, came
to understand that it was insuperable. To cut short an impossible
situation, he tendered his resignation, on which all the ministers
resigned; but as the question was one of personal pique, the king
commanded them to remain at their posts. Cavour applauded this
decision. For the moment it was better that he, not D'Azeglio, should
be sacrificed. They parted without ceasing to be private and political
friends. Massimo d'Azeglio's nature was too generous to hear a grudge
against the man who was to eclipse him.

Cavour profited by his reconquered liberty to go to France and
England, a journey that relieved him of the appearance of wishing to
hamper the Cabinet, which was quickly reconstructed without himself
and Farini. On the eve of starting he went, as etiquette required, to
take leave of the king, who made the not very flattering remark that
he thought it would be a long while before he called him to power.
Cavour must have smiled behind his spectacles, but he naturally left
time to verify or contradict the royal forecast.



Cavour went abroad with the full intention of preparing for the day
when his voice would be that of Piedmont, if not of Italy. He attached
importance to personal relations, which helped him to keep in touch
with European politics and politicians, and he was anxious to find
out how the _Connubio_ was regarded by foreigners, among whom, till
lately, Rattazzi had been looked upon as a revolutionary firebrand.
But thinking men abroad understood the reasons which had dictated the
coalition. In London Cavour met with a friendly reception from Lord
Malmesbury, who was then Foreign Minister, and who assured him that
the English Government would be glad to see him back in office. With
characteristic presence of mind he framed his answer to provoke a more
definite pronouncement. He could not, he said, return to office
alone or abandon the party he had been at so much pains to create.
"Naturally," answered Lord Malmesbury, "you cannot return to power
without your friends." Reassured as to the sentiments of one great
political party, Cavour approached the other in the person of Lord
Palmerston, than whom he never had a firmer political friend or
more sincere admirer. Lord Palmerston saw the larger meaning of the
experiment of freedom in Piedmont, and he was one of the first to see
it. If that experiment succeeded, the Italian tyrannies were doomed;
how, he did not discern, but the fact was apparent to him. He heard,
therefore, with much interest what Cavour had to tell him of the
gradual taking root of constitutional government in the Sardinian
kingdom, and he promised him the moral support, not of one party or
another, but of England, "in pledge of which," he added, "we have sent
you our best diplomatist." This allusion was to Mr. (afterwards Sir
James) Hudson, whom Lord Palmerston had called back from the Brazils
in the spring of the year, because by a singular intuition he guessed
him to be the very man to help the Italian cause. It was intended to
send him to Florence, but when he reached the Foreign Office, which
Lord Palmerston had just vacated, he received instructions to go to
Turin, a fortunate change of plan. No two men were ever better fitted
to work together than Cavour and Sir James Hudson. Without ceasing to
be particularly English and strictly loyal to the interests of his own
country, the British Minister at Turin served Italy as few of her sons
have been able to do. Beneath a rather cold exterior he concealed the
warmest of hearts, and he had the power of attaching people to him, so
that they never forgot him. It is greatly to be regretted that he left
no record of the stirring years of his mission, which coincided with
the rise and ascendency of Cavour.

Enchanted with the country, and "more _Anglomane_ than ever," Cavour
left England for Paris, where he laid himself out to conciliate
political men of all shades, from Morny to Thiers, who advised him to
be patient and not to lose heart: "If, after giving you vipers
for breakfast, you have another dish served up for dinner, never
mind"--such was the diet of politicians. What Cavour once called "his
powerful intellectual organisation" made an immediate impression
on the Prince President, as he was still styled. Louis Napoleon
cultivated an impassible exterior, but at bottom his character was
emotional, and, like all emotional persons, he was susceptible to the
magnetism of a stronger brain and will. Cavour summoned Rattazzi to
Paris to present him to the future Caesar. "Whether we like it or
not," he wrote at this time, "our destinies depend on France; we must
be her partner in the great game which will be played sooner or later
in Europe." A few weeks later Napoleon declared at Bordeaux that "the
empire was peace," but like all intelligent onlookers Cavour received
the statement with incredulity. Possibly the only person who believed
in it was the speaker--for the moment; he may have thought that "bread
and games" was a formula by which he could rule France, or rather
Paris, but he was soon to find it insufficient.

Cavour sought out several of the Italian exiles who were leading a
life of privation and obscurity in Paris, one of whom was Manin, the
Dictator of Venice. With him Cavour expressed himself "very much
satisfied, though his sentiments were rather too Venetian": sentiments
which Manin sacrificed--a last act of abnegation--when he finally gave
his support to Italian unity under Victor Emmanuel, carrying with him
two-thirds of the republican party, who could brave the charge of
changed allegiance if so incorruptible a patriot led the way. Cavour
also saw Gioberti, "always the same child of genius, who would have
been a great man had he had common sense." Gioberti, however, had
made a great stride towards common sense, for instead of dreaming of
liberating popes, he was now imagining a renovating statesman, and
he had inscribed Cavour's name under his new portrait. In a book
published in Paris, Gioberti drew the Cavour of the future with a
penetration and a sureness of touch which would make a reader, who
did not know the date, suppose that the words were written ten years
later. Men of great talent, he said, rarely threw aside the chance of
becoming famous; rather did they snatch it with avidity; and what
fame more splendid could now be won than that of the minister of the
Italian prince who should re-make the country? He fixed his hopes on
Cavour, because he alone understood that in human society civilisation
is everything, all the rest, without it, nothing. "He knows that
statutes, parliaments, newspapers, all the appurtenances of free
governments, even if they are of use to individuals, are miserable
shams to the commonalty if they fail to help forward social progress."
He was willing to forgive him the generous error of treating a
province as if it were a nation, when he compared it with the
pettiness of those who treated the nation as if it were a province. He
invoked some great and solemn act of _Italianità_ on his part, which
should pledge him irrevocably to the national cause. Cavour was too
little influenced by others for it to be safe to say that this was
one of the prophecies which tend to their own fulfilment; still it is
worth noticing that he read the passage and was struck by it.

Cavour had scarcely returned to Piedmont when a ministerial crisis
occurred through the rejection by the Senate of a far from stringent
Bill for permitting civil marriage, which had passed in the Chamber of
Deputies. The situation was further complicated by the state of mind
into which the king had been driven by the remonstrances of his wife
and mother, both near their end, and by the answer which he received
from Rome in reply to a direct appeal to settle matters amicably, the
Pope having said, in effect, that he was not going to help him to
legalise concubinage in his dominions. D'Azeglio, harassed on all
sides and ill through the reopening of his wound, resigned office, and
advised the king to send for Cavour. "The other one, whom you know, is
diabolically active, and fit in body and soul, and then, he enjoys
it so much!" he wrote to a friend, with the pathetic wonder of the
artist, romancist, and _grand seigneur_, who had never been able to
make out what there was to enjoy in politics. Victor Emmanuel followed
his advice, but he allowed Cavour to see that he hoped that the new
ministry would make up the quarrel with Rome. Cavour knew that only
one path could lead to peace--surrender. Though anxious for office he
declined to take it on these terms, and he recommended the king to
call Count Balbo to his counsels; but Balbo, persuaded that a ministry
only supported by the Extreme Right could not stand even for a few
weeks, in his turn suggested the recall of D'Azeglio. Here the saving
good sense of the king interposed; little as he liked Cavour he
recognised that he was the only man possible, and he charged him,
without conditions, with the formation of a ministry. D'Azeglio had
fallen on a point on which Cavour was for and not against him; his
successor desired to show that there would be no violent change of
policy, and he therefore reconstructed the Cabinet as it was before,
except for the change of head. He reserved for himself the Presidency
of the Council and the Ministry of Finance. Rattazzi, who still
occupied the Speaker's chair, was willing to wait for the present for
a seat in the Cabinet, especially when he heard that the king, who was
at first very hostile to the _Connubio_, had quite expected him to
take office.

So the _gran ministero_, as it was called, entered upon its functions:
great by reason of its chief, who infused his own life and vigour
into what was before a weak administration. Cavour was a born man of
business; he hated disorder in everything--except, indeed, dress, in
which his carelessness was proverbial. He had not the common belief
that, muddle them how you may, there will always be a providence which
looks after the affairs of the State and prevents the collapse that
would attend a private commercial enterprise conducted on the same
system. He took in hand the financial renewal of Piedmont in the
same spirit in which, when he had only just reached maturity, he
volunteered to restore his father's dilapidated fortune. It was for
this that he chose the Ministry of Finance: Piedmont, as he saw, could
never sustain a national and Italian policy abroad without having
first set its own house in order. He started with two principles:
taxation must be increased and the resources of the country must be so
developed as to enable it to pay its way without sinking into hopeless
stagnation. It was a disappointment to some to see Cavour devoting
himself with more ardour to putting on new taxes than to producing any
of those decorative schemes for hastening the millennium which are
expected from a new and ambitious minister. But, though ambitious, he
cared for the substance, power--not for the shadow, popularity.

If there had been no other reason for the compact with the moderate
liberals, the necessity for fresh taxation would have been a sufficing
one. The Extreme Right and Left proposed to meet the existing
difficulties by cutting down expenditure, but, if sound in theory,
in practice this policy would have reduced Piedmont to complete
impotence. While a part of the Left Centre voted with the extremists,
it was only by the greatest efforts that a grant of £100,000 was
obtained for the fortifications of Casale, which had been declared
by the war minister, La Marmora, to be absolutely necessary for the
defence of the State. The radical deputy Brofferio said that States
wanted no other defence than the breasts of their citizens. From the
Chamber, as then constituted, there was little hope of obtaining
the imposition of new burdens, in part designed to meet Sardinian
liabilities, but in part also to render possible the reorganisation of
the army, which was urgently required if the future was not to witness
disasters worse than those already experienced. Prince Metternich had
said that, even if Piedmont were so troublesome as to persist in her
liberal infatuation, she would have to keep quiet, at a moderate
computation, for twenty years--just the time which it took her king to
unite Italy. The two campaigns of 1848-1849 and the war indemnity had
cost about 300,000,000 frs. The annual expenditure was doubled. Added
to this, the one source of wealth, agriculture, was almost ruined by
the oidium disease which destroyed the vines, and by harvests so bad
that the like had not been seen since the celebrated scarcity which
followed the wars of Napoleon. As Cavour saved his father's property
not by burying the last talent in a safe place but by laying it out in
bold improvements, so now he did not fear to spend largely and even
lavishly, not only on the army, but also on public works. He completed
the railway system and employed what Brofferio called "a portentous
activity" in extending the roads, canals, and all the means of
communication which could stimulate industry. It must be remembered
that Piedmont was then lamentably backward; a long obscurantist
_régime_, succeeded by war and havoc, had left her destitute of all
the accessories of modern life. This was changed as if by the wand
of the magician. In his first budget, Cavour put on new taxes to the
amount of 14,000,000 frs., one being the so-called tax on patents, or
on the exercise of trades and professions, which excited much adverse
criticism. At the same time he reduced the salt tax and initiated
several free-trade measures, to be ultimately crowned by the abolition
of the corn laws. On the whole, however, his line of policy was not
such as would recommend itself to the crowd, and in October 1853 a
furious mob attacked the Palazzo Cavour, repeating the old cry that
the minister was a monopolist who robbed the poor of their bread.
Luckily the doors were barred, but next day Cavour was threatened as
he walked along the streets. Just then the Ministry of Justice fell
vacant, and it was offered to Rattazzi, who, to his credit be it
said, did not hesitate to take office at a time when the head of the
Government was the target of unscrupulous abuse, and it was even
thought that his life was in danger. Rattazzi was afterwards
transferred to the Home Ministry, which he held till the _Connubio_
broke up, more on personal than on political grounds, in 1858.

Though Cavour's alliance with Rattazzi was not eternal, it lasted till
it had served its purpose. By help of it he imposed his will on king
and country until he was strong enough to impose it by force of his
own commanding influence. He always considered the _Connubio_ one of
the wisest acts of his political life. It is not uncommon to hear
it still denounced in Italy as the origin of the political
demoralisation, the mixing up of private and public interests, the
lack of fixed principles; which later times have witnessed. If the
fact were admitted, it would not show that Cavour could have governed
in any other way. Had the country trusted him from the first it would
have been different, but the country did not trust him. Even after the
combination of the two Centres, whenever there was a general election
it was doubtful if the Government would obtain a working majority. The
accusation of corruption was frequently made against the Ministry in
general and Rattazzi in particular, since it was he who presided over
the electoral campaigns. Of corruption in the literal sense there was
probably little, but constituencies were led to believe that it would
be to their advantage to return the ministerial candidate. On one
occasion Rattazzi tried to prove that such hints did not constitute
"interference." Cavour got up in the course of the same debate and
not only acknowledged the "interference," but said that without it
constitutional government in Piedmont would collapse. His biographers
have preferred to be silent on this subject, but he would have
despised a reserve which conceals historical facts. The apathy of
one section of the electors, the fads and jealousies of another, the
feverish longing to pull down whomsoever was in power, inherited from
a great revolutionary crisis, the indefatigable propaganda of clerical
wire-pullers, all tended to the formation of parliaments so composed
as to bring government to a standstill. The result of a protracted
interruption might be the fall of the constitution itself, or it might
be civil war. Cavour took the means open to him to prevent it, and,
whether he was right or wrong, his career cannot be judged if the
difficulties with which he had to cope are kept out of sight.

Piedmont needed some years, not of rest, but of active and consecutive
labour before it could enter the lists again as armed champion of
Italian independence. The disastrous issue of the last conflicts had
been attributed to every cause except that which was most accountable
for it: a badly led and badly organised army. The "We are betrayed"
theory was caught up alike by republicans and conservatives, who
accused each other of ruining the country rather than give the victory
to the rival faction. Whatever grain of truth there was in these
taunts, the military inefficiency of the forces which Charles Albert
led across the Ticino in March 1848 remained the main reason why
Radetsky was able to get back Lombardy and Venetia for his master.
This Cavour knew, and he was anxious not to precipitate matters till
La Marmora, to whom he privately gave _carte blanche_, could say that
his work was done. He began treating Austria with more consideration
than she had received from Massimo d'Azeglio, who was a bad hand at
dissembling. Count Buol was gratified, almost grateful. But these
relatively harmonious relations did not last long. In February 1853
there was an abortive attempt at revolution in Milan, of which not one
person in a thousand knew anything till it was suppressed. It was the
premature and ill-advised explosion of a conspiracy by which Mazzini
hoped to repeat the miracle of 1848: the ejection of a strong military
power by a blast of popular fury. But miracles are not made to order,
though Mazzini never came to believe it. As a reprisal for this
disturbance, the Austrian Government, not content with executions and
bastinadoes, decreed the sequestration of the lands of those Lombard
emigrants who had become naturalised in Piedmont. Cavour charged
Austria with a breach of international law and recalled the Sardinian
minister from Vienna. It was risking war, but he knew that even
for the weakest state there are some things worse than war. It was
reversing the policy of prudence with which he had set out, but when
prudence meant cowardice, Cavour always cast it to the winds. The
outcry in all Europe against the sequestration decree deterred the
Austrian Government from treating the Sardinian protest as a _casus
belli_. Liberal public opinion everywhere approved of Cavour's course,
and in France and England increased confidence was felt in him by
those in authority. Governments like to deal with a strong man who
knows when not to fear.

Only such a man would have conceived the idea which was now taking
concrete form in Cavour's mind. This was the plan of an armed alliance
with the Western Powers on the outbreak of the war, which as early
as November 1853 well-informed persons looked upon as henceforth
inevitable. Cavour would never have been a Chauvinist, but he was not
by nature a believer in neutrality. He was constitutionally inclined
to think that in all serious contingencies to act is safer than not
to act. The world is divided between men of this mould and their
opposites. La Marmora told him that the army, which had made
incredible progress considering the state in which it was a short time
before, could place in the field a force for which no country would
have reason to blush. If not a great general, the Piedmontese Minister
of War might fairly be called a first-class organiser. For the rest,
Cavour believed that the ultimate school of any army is war. Above
all, he believed that this was the hour for a great resolve or a _gran
rifiuto_. If the House of Savoy stood still with folded arms it might
retire into the ranks of small ruling families, which leave the
rearrangement of maps to their betters. It was secretly reported to
Cavour that Napoleon III. was beginning to drop enigmatical remarks
about Italian affairs, and it was these reports that finally decided
him to strain every nerve to make his audacious design a reality.

Russia had broken off diplomatic relations with Sardinia in 1848,
and when Victor Emmanuel communicated the death of his father to the
Powers, the only one which returned no response was the empire of the
Czar. It would be absurd to adduce this lack of courtesy as an excuse
for war; still it gave a slightly better complexion to an attack which
the Russian Government was justified in calling "extraordinarily
gratuitous." Cavour had one person of great importance on his side,
the king. In January 1854 he broached the subject with the tentative
inquiry, "Does it not seem to your Majesty that we might find some way
of taking part in the war of the Western Powers with Russia?" To which
Victor Emmanuel answered simply, "If I cannot go myself I will send
my brother." But it is not too much to say that the whole country was
against him. The old Savoyard party opposed the war tooth and nail,
and from the "Little Piedmont" point of view it was perfectly right.
The radicals, headed by Brofferio, denounced it as "economically
reckless, militarily a folly, politically a crime." Most of the
Lombard emigration thought ill of it, and the heads of the army were
lukewarm or contrary; this was not the war they wanted. The Tuscan
romancist Guerrazzi wrote, with unpardonable levity, that republicans
ought to rejoice because this was the final disillusion given to
Italians by monarchy, limited or not. One republican, however, Manin,
saw in the Italian tricolor displayed with the French and English
flags in Paris the first ray of hope that had gladdened his eyes since
he left Venice, and Poerio; when he heard of the alliance in his
dungeon, "felt his chain grow lighter." It seemed as if those who had
suffered most for Italy had a clearness of vision denied to the rest.

What, if persisted in, would have been the most serious obstacle was
the opposition of Rattazzi, but he was won over to assent, if not to
approval, by Giuseppe Lanza, a new figure on the parliamentary scene,
who had lately been elected Vice-President of the Chamber. Lanza (who
was destined to be Prime Minister when the Italians went to Rome) was
then only slightly acquainted with Cavour; from being independent, his
favourable opinion carried more weight. With Rattazzi's adhesion
the majority of the Centres was secured. It was not an enthusiastic
majority, but it quieted its forebodings by the argument which was
beginning to take hold of people's minds: that Cavour must be let do
as he chose. Hardly any one liked him, but to see him stand there,
absolutely unhesitating and sure, among the politicians of Buts and
Ifs, began to generate the belief that he was a man of fate who must
be allowed to go his way.

It is easy to be wise after the event, and it may seem strange now
that the alliance with the Western Powers found so few, so very few
cordial supporters. But Cavour himself called the risks which attended
it "enormous." The great question for Sardinia was what Austria
would do. If she did nothing, the pros and cons were perhaps evenly
balanced; if she joined Russia, the pros would be strengthened; if she
joined the allies, the situation for Sardinia would be grave indeed.
The republicans were already calling the war an alliance with Austria.
Were the description verified, it was hard to see how the utmost
genius or skill could draw aught but evil from so unnatural a union.

The first invitation to Sardinia to co-operate came separately from
England, which had vetoed a monstrous proposal on the part of Austria
to occupy Alessandria, in order, in any case, to prevent Piedmont from
attacking her during the war. Lord Clarendon instructed Sir James
Hudson to represent to Cavour that Austria's fears would be set at
rest if a portion of the Sardinian army were sent to the East. The
chief English motive was really the conviction that numbers were
urgently required if the war was to succeed, and also the desire to
lessen the large numerical superiority of the French. In the first
instance Cavour replied that although he had been all along in favour
of participating in the war, his Cabinet was too much against the idea
for him to take any immediate action. But the subject was revived. An
alliance with Piedmont was popular in England, where the Government
was in an Italian mood, having been made terribly angry by the King of
Naples' prohibition of the sale of mules for transport purposes in the
East. In December 1854 Cavour was formally invited to send a corps
which would enter the English service and receive its pay from the
British Exchequer. He would rather have sent it on these terms than
not at all, but the scheme met with such unqualified condemnation from
La Marmora and General Dadormida, the Foreign Minister, that it was
set aside as not becoming to the dignity of an independent nation.
Meanwhile something had occurred which reinforced the arguments of
those who were against sending troops at all. After hedging for a
year, Austria signed a treaty couched in vague terms, but which
appeared to debar her, at any rate, from taking sides with
Russia--Italy's most flattering prospect. Napoleon III. expected
much more from it than this; he thought that Austria was too much
compromised to avoid throwing in her cause with the allies. It must be
said of Napoleon that among the men responsible for the Crimean War
he alone aimed at an object which, from a political, let alone moral
view, could justify it. He did not think that it would be enough to
obtain a few restrictions, not worth the paper on which they were
written, and the prospect of a new lease of life to Turkish despotism.
He certainly had one paltry object of his own; he wished to gratify
his subjects by military glory. He began to suspect the hollowness of
the testimony of the plebiscite; the French people did not like him,
and never would like him. A war would please the populace and the
army; it would also make him look much more like a real Napoleon.
But when he had decided to go to war, he hoped to do something worth
doing. He thought (to use his own words) "that no peace would be
satisfactory which did not resuscitate Poland." There, and nowhere
else, were the wings of the Russian eagle to be clipped. Moreover,
the entire French nation, which cared so little for Italy, would
have applauded the deliverance of Poland. On the Polish question the
ultramontane would have embraced the socialist. France was never so
united as in the sympathy which she then felt for Poland, except in
that which she now feels for Russia. But Napoleon did not think that
he could resuscitate Poland without Austrian assistance. At the close
of 1854 he made sure of getting it.

Cavour clung to his project. Probably his penetrating mind guessed
that Austria could not fight Russia, which had saved her from
destruction in 1849. There now arose a demand for some guarantee
which should give Piedmont, if she took part in the war, at least
the certainty of a moral advantage. The king remarked to the French
Ambassador that all this wrangling about conditions was folly "If we
ally ourselves promptly and frankly, we shall gain a great deal more"
Doubtless Cavour thought the same, but to satisfy the country it was
necessary to demand, if nothing else, a promise from the Western
Powers that they would put pressure on Austria to raise the
sequestrations on the property of the Lombard exiles. But the Powers,
which were courting Austria, refused to make any such promise,
on which the Foreign Minister, General Dadormida, resigned,
notwithstanding that the Lombard emigrants generously begged the
Government not to think of them. Cavour offered the Foreign Office and
the Presidency of the Council to D'Azeglio; under whom he would have
consented to serve, but D'Azeglio declined to enter the Ministry,
whilst engaging not to oppose its policy Cavour then took the Foreign
Office himself, and at eight o'clock on the evening of the same day,
January 10, 1855, the protocol of the offensive and defensive alliance
of Sardinia with France and England was, at last, signed.

Wilting of the Crimean War in after days, Louis Kossuth observed that
never did a statesman throw down a more hazardous and daring stake
than Cavour when he insisted on clenching the alliance after he had
found out that it must be done without any conditions or guarantees.
Cicero's _Partem fortuna sibi vindicat_ applies to diplomacy as well
as to war, "but the stroke was very bold and very dangerous."



The speeches made by Cavour in defence of the alliance before the two
Houses of Parliament contain the clearest exposition of his political
faith that he had yet given. They form a striking refutation of the
theory, still held by many, especially in Italy, that he was lifted
into the sphere of high political aims by a whirlwind none of his
sowing. In these speeches he is less occupied with Piedmont, the
kingdom of which he was Prime Minister, than an English statesman who
required war supplies would be with Lancashire. "I shall be asked," he
said, "how can this treaty be of use to Italy?" The treaty would help
Italy in the only way in which, in the actual conditions of Europe,
she could be helped. The experience of the last years and of the past
centuries had shown that plots and revolutions could not make Italy;
"at least," he added, "in my opinion it has shown it." What, then,
could make her? The raising of her credit. To raise Italy's credit two
things were needed: the proof that an Italian Government could combine
order with liberty, and the proof that Italians could fight. He was
certain that the laurels won by Sardinian soldiers in the East would
do more for Italy than all that had been done by those who thought to
effect her regeneration by rhetoric.

When Cavour spoke of himself in public, it was generally in a light
tone, and half in jest. Thus in the debate on the treaty, he said that
Brofferio and his friends could not be surprised at his welcoming the
English alliance when they had once done nothing but tax him with
Anglomania, and had given him the nickname of Milord Risorgimento. He
could easily have aroused enthusiasm if, instead of this banter, he
had spoken the words of passionate earnestness in which he alluded to
his part in the transaction in a letter to Mme. de Circourt. He felt,
he said, the tremendous responsibility which weighed on him, and the
dangers which might arise from the course adopted, but duty and honour
dictated it. Since it had pleased Providence that Piedmont, alone in
Italy, should be free and independent, Piedmont was bound to make use
of its freedom and independence to plead before Europe the cause of
the unhappy peninsula. This perilous task the king and the country
were resolved to persevere in to the end. Those French liberals and
doctrinaires who were now weeping over the loss of liberty in France,
after helping to stifle it in Italy, might consider his policy absurd
and romantic; he exposed himself to their censures, sure that all
generous hearts would sympathise with the attempt to call back to life
a nation which for centuries had been shut up in a horrible tomb. If
he failed, he reckoned on his friend reserving him a place among the
"eminent vanquished" who gathered round her; in any case she would
take the vent he had given to his feelings as the avowal _that all
his life was consecrated to one sole work, the emancipation of his
country_. This was not a boast uttered to bring down the plaudits of
the Senate; it was a confession which escaped from Cavour in one of
the rare moments when, even in private, he allowed himself to say
what he felt. But it speaks to posterity with a voice which silences

After the point had been gained and the war embarked upon, the
anxieties of the minister who was solely responsible for it did not
decrease. The House of Savoy had survived Novara; one royal sacrifice
served the purpose of an ancient immolation; it propitiated fate.
But a Novara in the East would have been serious indeed. What Cavour
feared, however, was not defeat--it was inaction, of which the moral
effect would have been nearly as bad. What if the laurels he had
spoken of were never won at all? The position of the Sardinian
contingent on the first line was not secured without endless
diplomacy; Napoleon wished to keep it out of sight as a reserve corps
at Constantinople. When, with the aid of England, it was shipped for
Balaclava, there still seemed a disposition to hold it back. Cavour
wrote bitterly of the prospect of the Sardinian troops being sent by
the allies to perish of disease in the trenches while they advanced at
the pace of a yard a month. He described himself and his colleagues
as waiting with cruel impatience for tidings of the first engagement:
"Still no news from the army; it is distracting!" Meanwhile the "Reds"
and the "Blacks" were happy. Cavour did not fear the first, except,
perhaps, at Genoa; but he did fear the deeply-rooted forces of
reaction, which were only too likely to regain the ascendant if things
went wrong with the war.

At last the long-desired, almost despaired-of news arrived. On August
16 the Piedmontese fought an engagement on the Tchernaia; it was not
a great battle, but it was a success, and the men showed courage and
steadiness. It was hailed at Turin as a veritable godsend. The king,
jaded and worn out by the trials which this year had brought him,
rejoiced as sovereign and soldier at the prowess of his young troops.
The public underwent a general conversion to the war policy; every one
thought in secret he had always approved of it. The little flash of
glory called attention to the other merits of the Piedmontese soldier
besides those he displayed in the field. These merits were truly
great. The troops bore with the utmost patience the terrible scourge
of the cholera, which cost them 1200 lives. Their English allies were
never tired of admiring the good organisation and neatness of their
camp, which was laid out in huts that kept off the burning sun better
than tents, intersected with paths and gardens. The little army was
fortified by the feeling that after all it was serving no alien cause
but its own. "Never mind," said a soldier, as they were struggling in
the slough of the trenches, "of this mud Italy will be made." They all
shared the hope which the king expressed in a letter to La Marmora,
"Next year we shall have war where we had it before."

Victor Emmanuel's visit to the courts of Paris and London was not
without political significance. Cavour first intended that only
D'Azeglio should accompany him; he always put the Marquis forward
when he wished the country to appear highly respectable and
anti-revolutionary; at the last moment he decided to go himself as
well. In Paris the king was dismayed at observing that Napoleon, in
presence of Austria's inaction, was bent on making peace. Cavour had
also counted on the continuance of the war, but he found encouragement
in the fact that when he left, the Emperor told him to write
confidentially to Walewski what, in his opinion, he could do for
Piedmont and Italy. In England the king was most cordially received,
and, if he was rather embarrassed when a portion of the English
religious world hailed him as a kind of new Luther, he could not help
being struck by the real friendliness shown to him by all classes.
Cavour made a strongly favourable impression on Prince Albert, and the
Queen expressed so much sympathy with his aims that he called her
"the best friend of Piedmont in England." He carried away a curious
souvenir of his visit to Windsor. When Victor Emmanuel was made Knight
of the Garter, the Queen wished that he should know the meaning of
the oath he took; whereupon Lord Palmerston at once wrote down a
translation of the words into Italian, and handed it to the king.
When Cavour heard of this, he asked the king to give him the paper to
preserve in the Sardinian archives.

The preliminaries of the peace were signed in February 1856. It was a
great blow to Victor Emmanuel, who had felt confident that if the war
lasted long enough for Russia to be placed in real danger, Austria
would he obliged to go to her assistance. The heavy bill for war
expenditure, largely exceeding the estimate, damped people's spirits,
buoyed up for an instant by victory, and they asked once more, what
was the good of it all? Time was to answer the question; but before
showing how an issue, which even Cavour viewed with disappointment,
proved, nevertheless, fruitful of more good than the most sanguine
advocate of the war had ventured to hope for, a short account must be
given of the home politics of Piedmont in the year 1855.

"Battles long ago" never wholly lose their interest. The mere words,
"There was once a battle fought here" make the traveller stop and
think, even if he does not know by what men of what race it was
fought. But the parliamentary struggles of one generation seem passing
stale and unprofitable to the next. Yet the history of nations depends
as much on their civil as on their warlike contests. In Piedmont the
strife always turned on the same point: whether the State or the
Church should predominate. Free institutions do not settle the
question; it is most manifestly rife to-day in a free country, Canada.
In Italy itself a great clerical party is working silently but
ceaselessly, under the mask of abstention from the elections, to
recover its political power. The Sardinian Government could not
withdraw from the duel at will; the Church in Piedmont was a political
force constantly on the lookout for an opening to retake the position
it had lost. Besides the moral power derived from the support of the
peasants and of the old aristocracy, it wielded the material power of
an organised body, which was numerous and wealthy in proportion to the
numbers and wealth of the population. The annual income of the Church,
including the religious houses, was nearly £700,000 a year. There were
23,000 ecclesiastics, or 1 monk to every 670 inhabitants, 1 nun to
every 1695, 1 priest to every 214. In spite of the vast resources of
the Church, the parish priest in 2540 villages received a stipend
of less than £20 per year. Not only radicals but many moderate
politicians were of opinion that the great number of convents of the
contemplative orders formed an actual evil from the fact of
their encouraging able-bodied idleness, and the withdrawal of so
considerable a fraction of the population from the work and duties of
citizenship. In the autumn of 1854, before the Crimean War was thought
of, Rattazzi framed a bill by which the corporations that took no part
in public instruction, preaching, or nursing the sick, were abolished.
Since the last crisis on the civil marriage bill, which wrecked
D'Azeglio's ministry, Cavour, who all his life was not theoretically
opposed to coming to an understanding with Rome, had made several
advances to the Vatican, but with no effect: Rome refused any
modification of the Concordat or any reduction of the privileges
possessed by the clergy in the kingdom of Sardinia. On the failure
of these negotiations, Victor Emmanuel despatched three high
ecclesiastics on a private mission to the Pope to see if the quarrel
could be made up. This mission, which might have seriously compromised
the king, was not counselled by Cavour, who put a violent end to it
when he authorised Rattazzi to bring in the bill for the suppression
of religious houses. Victor Emmanuel was deeply mortified, and the
Pope protested against this new "horrible and incredible assault of
the subalpine Government." Just at the time that the measure was
discussed in Parliament, the king lost his mother, his wife, his
infant child, and his brother, a series of misfortunes in which the
Church saw "the finger of God." As the two queens and the Duke of
Genoa were devoted Catholics, their last hours were rendered miserable
by the impending sacrilegious act. It is not to be wondered if the
king was almost driven out of his mind.

After the lugubrious interruption of the royal funerals, the debate on
the religious corporations was resumed with new vigour. Much the
most effective speeches on either side were those delivered by the
combatants of the two extremes, Brofferio and Count Solaro de la
Margherita. Brofferio, who regarded all convents as a specific evil,
had proposed their indiscriminate abolition in 1848, directly after
the promulgation of the Statute. Cavour, he said, had then defended
them. Was he therefore, mindful of their old warfare, to vote against
this Bill in order to place difficulties in the way of the Ministry?
Far from it. If the Government were willing to abolish all the
convents, so much the better; if 490, he would vote for that; if 245,
he was ready to approve; if 100, yes; if 10, he would vote for 10; if
one convent, he agreed; if one monk, his vote would be given for the
abolition of one monk. He would not imitate those speakers who had
attempted to conjure up a canonical or theological defence of the
Bill. The Pope was probably a better theologian than he; but he denied
that the Church had any prescriptive rights at all: all her privileges
and property being held on sufferance of the State, which could
withdraw its toleration when it chose. Illustrious Italians, from
Dante downwards, denounced the love of power and money of the Church
as the bane of Italy. Had not Machiavelli said, "If Italy has fallen
a prey not only to powerful barbarians but to whatsoever attack, we
Italians are indebted for it to the Church and to nothing else"?
Respect for the intentions of the pious founder was a good thing in
its way (Brofferio had the sense to see that this was the strongest
argument of the opposite party), yet, logically pursued, it would have
obliged us to this day to preserve the temple of Delphi with a full
chapter of priests. Some one might have got up and said, "A very
interesting result"; but Neo-Hellenism did not grow in the Sardinian
Chamber of Deputies. Brofferio censured the exemption of the teaching
and preaching orders--according to him, the most mischievous of all.
He blamed the Ministry for excusing the measure on financial grounds.
Either it was just or it was unjust. If just, it needed no excuse;
if unjust, no excuse could justify it. There was, he said, no use in
trying to make the Bill appear moderate in the hopes that it would be
borne more patiently by the body against which it was aimed. The Court
of Rome knew no more or less. War to the knife or refusal to kiss the
Pope's toe: it was all one.

As the stoutest champion of the Bill was the Béranger of Piedmont,
with his rough and ready eloquence, so its most formidable critic was
the old apostle of thrones and altars, who would have taken Philip II.
as a model king, and Torquemada as an ideal statesman. His
onslaught was far stronger than the strictures of less out-and-out
reactionaries. It was easy, for instance, to accuse of weakness the
amiable sentimentality of the Marquis Gustavo Cavour, who evoked Padre
Cristoforo from Manzoni's _Promessi Sposi_ to plead for his fellow
friars; but there was no destroying the force, so far as it went, of
Count Solaro's question, Were they Catholics, or were they not? To
endorse a policy not approved by the Church was to cease, _ipso
facto_, to be a Catholic. The reasoning might not be true, but it was
clear. Charles Albert's old minister drew a beautiful picture of the
country in the good old times before the Statute. Then the people did
not lack bread. Life and property and the good name of citizens were
safeguarded. The finances were not exhausted; the taxes were not
excessive; the revenue was not diminishing; treaties were observed;
Piedmont possessed that consideration of foreign courts which a wise
government can always command, even without the prestige of force:--a
picture drawn in a fine artistic free-hand, not slavishly subservient
to fact; but as to the taxes, at least, its correctness was not to be
gainsaid. Seen from this point of view, the progress of all modern
States means retrogression, a paradox which has passed now from the
friends of the old order, few of whom have still the courage to
sustain it, to the socialists, the sum of whose contentions it exactly
formulates. Count Solaro enlarged on the dreadful evils that would
result from the Bill were it to become law, not to the religious
corporations, which a wiser generation and renewed endowments would
restore to more than their pristine prosperity, but to the country
which suffered the perpetration of a sin so enormous that words were
powerless to describe it.

After the war dances of Brofferio and Solaro de la Margherita,
Cavour made a temperate speech, in which he said that he agreed with
Brofferio in placing moral expediency above a question of finance, but
that if this were granted, the Government could not be indifferent,
in the present state of the finances, to a saving of nearly a million
francs a year (it being proposed to defray out of the confiscated
ecclesiastical property a grant to that amount which the State paid to
the poorer clergy). He defended the expropriation of a convent called
Santa Croce to meet the need of a hospital for the military cholera
patients. Passing on to larger considerations, he recognised the great
services rendered by religious orders in past times, when Europe was
emerging from barbarism, and was still a prey to the violence and
ignorance of feudal society. Had the religious communities not met
a want, they would not have taken root. Civilisation, literature,
agriculture, and above all the poor, neglected and oppressed by the
secular power, owed them an immense debt. But coming down to the
present day, Cavour argued that the original part played by monks and
friars was now filled, and of necessity more efficaciously filled, by
laymen. Their presence in superabundant numbers in the modern State
was an anachronism. It was only needful to compare the countries where
they abounded in number and in influence, as in Spain and the kingdom
of Naples, with England, Prussia, or France, to see whether it was
possible to allege that they tended to enlightenment and prosperity.

The Bill was passed in the Chamber of Deputies on March 2, 1855,
by 170 ayes against 36 noes; the majority, so much larger than the
Government could usually command, showed that it rested on undoubted
popular support. It was then sent up to the Senate, but while it was
being discussed there, an incident occurred which nearly caused a
political convulsion. The Archbishop of Novara and the Bishop of
Mondovi wrote to the king promising that if the Bill were withdrawn,
the Church in Piedmont would make up the sum of 92,841,230 frs., which
the Government expected to gain by the suppressions. The king was
delighted with the proposal, not perceiving the hopelessness of
getting it approved by the Chamber of Deputies, which had already
passed the measure, and the impossibility of settling the matter "out
of court" without parliamentary sanction. He invited Cavour to accede,
and on his refusal, he accepted the resignation of the Ministry.
Personally the king had always a certain sense of relief in parting
with Cavour. He thought now that he could get on without him, but he
was to be undeceived. While he was endeavouring to find some one to
undertake the formation of a new cabinet, the country became agitated
as it had not been since the stormy year of revolution. Angry crowds
gathered in Piazza Castello, within a few yards of the royal palace.
"One of these days," Victor Emmanuel said impatiently to his trusted
valet, Cinzano, "I'll make an end of these demonstrations," to which
the descendant of Gil Blas is reported to have replied as he looked
out of window: "And if they made an end of Us?" The whole population
woke up to the fact that surrender on this point involved surrender
along all the line. The king, however, to whom the compromise appeared
in the light of peace with the dead and with the living, with the
Superga and with the Vatican, was very unwilling to yield. At the
same time no one could be found to form a ministry. In this dangerous
crisis, Massimo d'Azeglio wrote a letter to his sovereign which is
believed to have been what convinced him. Recalling the Spanish royal
personage whom courtiers let burn to death sooner than deviate from
the motto, _ne touchez pas la Reine_, D'Azeglio protested that if he
was to risk his head, or totally to lose the king's favour, he would
think himself the vilest of mankind if he did not write the words
which he had not been permitted to speak. As an old and faithful
servant, who had never thought but of his king's welfare and the good
of the country, he conjured him with tears in his eyes, and kneeling
at his feet, to go no further on the path he was entering. A monkish
intrigue had succeeded in breaking up the work of his reign, agitating
the country, shaking the constitution and obscuring the royal name for
good faith. There was not a moment to lose; similar intrigues had led
the House of Bourbon and the House of Stuart to their destruction. Let
the king take heed while there was time! It was long before Victor
Emmanuel quite forgave his old friend, but the warning voice was not
raised in vain.

Cavour was recalled. The Bill was presented again to the Senate with
some slight modifications. One religious order was spared by Rattazzi,
rather against the will of Cavour, who described it as "absolutely
useless," because the king particularly wished to save it, the nuns
having been favourites of his mother. To Cavour, Victor Emmanuel's
resistance had seemed simply a fit of superstitious folly; he did not
sufficiently realise how distasteful the whole affair must be to a man
like the king, who said to General Durando when he was starting
for the Crimea, "You are fortunate, General, in going to fight the
Russians, while I stay here to fight monks and nuns." In its amended
form the Bill passed on May 29. Cavour had triumphed completely, but
he came out of the struggle physically and mentally exhausted; "a
struggle," he wrote to his Geneva friends, "carried on in Parliament,
in the drawing-rooms, at the court as in the street, and rendered
more painful by a crowd of distressing events." As usual he sought
refreshment in the fields of Leri, and when, after a brief rest, he
returned to Turin, the furious passions which had surged round this
domestic duel were beginning to cool as the eyes of the nation became
more and more fixed on the conflict in the East and its significance
to Italy.

We can proceed now with the story of Cavour's work in the memorable
year which opened so gloomily with a truce that appeared to leave
_felix Austria_ mistress of the situation. Without firing a shot, that
Power could consider herself the chief gainer by the war. Napoleon
III., anxious for peace, welcomed her mediation, and in England,
though peace was unpopular, and Austrian selfishness during the war
had not been admired, Lord Palmerston was handicapped by the idea
which just then occupied his mind, that Austria chiefly stood in the
way of what, as an Englishman, he most feared in European politics,
a Franco-Russian alliance. He divined the probability, almost the
inevitability, of such an alliance at a date when most persons would
have thought it an absurd fiction. Thus, in January 1856, both the
French and English Governments were in a phase of opinion which
promised nothing to Italian aspirations. The question was, Would it be
possible for one capable brain to bend them to its purposes'? In the
first instance, Cavour believed that it would not. He did not mean to
represent his country at the Congress of Paris, nor did he hope that
any good would come out of it for Italy. He wished, however, that
Sardinia should figure, if not to her advantage, at any rate with
dignity and decorum, and he turned, as he was wont to do when he
wanted a "perfect knight," to the _rivale_, Massimo d'Azeglio. Both
men had the little private joke of calling one another by this name in
their familiar letters, which shows how free they were from any real
jealousy. D'Azeglio was ready to accept what had the prospect of being
a most thankless office, but on one condition--that the Sardinian
plenipotentiary should be received on an equality with the
representatives of the great Powers. Cavour knew that this condition
had been explicitly refused; to please Austria, France and England
declared that Sardinia would only be invited to share in those
sittings of the Congress which affected her interests. Cavour did not
let D'Azeglio know of the refusal; it was a case of the "tortuous ways
of Count Cavour," of which the Prince Consort complained some years
later. Cavour was scrupulous about the principles which he considered
vital, but in dealing with men, and especially in dealing with his old
colleague, he made more mental reservations than a severe moralist
would allow. In the present instance the deception failed, for
D'Azeglio, seized at the last moments with suspicions, insisted on
seeing the diplomatic notes which had been exchanged relative to the
Congress. In reading these, he discovered the true state of affairs,
and in a violent fit of anger he refused to go. This incident was the
sole cause of the departure of Cavour himself in the place of his
indignant nominee. So are rough-hewn ends shaped.

In January, just before the armistice, Cavour had sent the memorandum
on what could be done by the Emperor for Italy, which Napoleon
authorized him to write when he was in Paris. The first draft of the
document was written by D'Azeglio, in whose literary style Cavour
felt more faith than in his own; but this was not used. It was
"magnificent," Cavour said, but "too diffuse and long." With the
Emperor it was needful to put everything in the most concrete form,
and to take a general view of all the hypotheses, except war with
Austria, which, "for the present," did not enter into his ideas.
D'Azeglio was offended at the rejection of his work. He wrote
complainingly, "I may be called a fool about everything else, Amen;
but about Italy, no!" The memorandum actually sent was short and
moderate in tone, the chief point recommended being the evacuation of
Bologna by the Austrians. It has been sometimes quoted in order to
convict Cavour, at this period, of having held poor and narrow views
of the future of Italy. But a man who is mounting a stair does not put
his foot on the highest step first. At this stage in his political
life most of Cavour's biographers pause to discuss the often-put
question, Was he already aiming at Italian unity? Perhaps the best
answer is, that really it does not matter. To be very anxious to prove
the affirmative is to misunderstand the grounds on which we may call
Cavour one of the greatest of statesmen. Those grounds are not what
he hoped to do, but what he did. He was not a Prometheus chained to
a rock, who hopes till hope creates the thing it contemplates.
Constitutionally he was easily discouraged. In the abstract he rather
exaggerated difficulties than minimised them; but in the face of any
present obstacle an invincible confidence came over him in his power
to surmount it. As he once wrote of himself--moderate in opinion,
he was favourable, rather than not, to extreme and audacious means.
However long it may have been before the union of all parts of Italy
seemed to Cavour a goal within the range of practical politics (that
he always thought it a desirable goal there is not the smallest
doubt), there was one, the Tiresias of the old order, who said boldly
to the Prime Minister of Piedmont at this very juncture: You are
steering straight to Italian unity. Solaro de la Margherita, who
once declared that "in speaking of kings all who had not sold their
consciences were seized with religious terror," saw what he would not
see, more clearly than it was seen by those who would have died to
make it true. Standing on the brink of the past, the old statesman
warned back the future. In the debate on the loan for thirty million
francs required to meet the excess in war expenditure (January 14),
Count Solaro said: "The object, Italian unity, is not hidden in the
mysteries of the Cabinet; it glimmers out, clear as the light of day,
from the concatenation of so many circumstances that I lift the veil
of no arcanum in speaking of it; and even if I did, it would be my
duty to lift it and warn all concerned of the unwisdom and impropriety
of those aspirations." Deny it who would, he continued, unity was
what was aimed at--what was laboured for with indefatigable activity.
Italian unity! How could it sound to the other Italian princes? What
was its real meaning for the Pope? The unity of Italy could only be
achieved either by submitting the whole peninsula to the Roman Pontiff
or by depriving him of the temporal power. And the speaker ended by
prophesying, his only prophecy which failed, that this shocking event
would not happen in the present century, whatever God might permit in
the next.

An unwary minister would have taken up the ball and thrown it back.
Cavour's presence of mind prompted him to leave it where it lay. He
did not say, "No, we are not working for Italian unity; no, we do
not wish to overthrow the Pope." He answered that in speaking of
the future of Italy it was impossible for a Piedmontese minister to
entirely separate his desires, his sympathies, from what he considered
his political duty: hence there was no more slippery ground than that
on which, with consummate art, the Deputy Solaro de la Margherita
had tried to draw him. But, he said, he would avail himself of the
privilege generally conceded to the ministers of a constitutional
government when questions were still pending--to defer his reply till
the case was closed (_a guerra finita_).



With the foreboding that this would be the last act of his political
life, Cavour started on the mission which he had almost no choice
but to assume, in spite of his extreme repugnance for the _rôle_ of
diplomatist. A few days after his arrival in Paris he was informed
that the Emperor, in concert with England, conceded the point as to
placing the representative of Sardinia on the same footing as the
others. Though it does not seem to have struck Cavour, the sudden
change of intention was evidently an involuntary tribute to himself:
how could such a man be treated as an inferior? Only the form was
won; the substance remained in doubt. Lord Clarendon hinted to the
Piedmontese plenipotentiary that he had "too much tact" to mix in
discussions which did not concern him. But Cavour was not discouraged.
With his usual quick rebound he was soon thoroughly braced up to the
work before him. As he began to see his way, he was rather spurred
on than disconcerted by the chorus of dismal predictions which the
Congress and his own part in it evoked at home. Almost every notable
man in Piedmont contributed his quota of melancholy vaticination, in
which the note, "I told you so!" was already audible. Who could plead
Italy's cause in a congress in which Austria had a voice? Was there
ever such midsummer madness? "But we knew how it would be from the

Cavour had said that he hated playing at diplomacy; but some of his
smaller, as well as larger gifts, marked him out as a successful
diplomatist. He was watchful for little advantages. All who could help
the cause were enlisted in its service. Thus he made a convert of a
fair Countess, to whose charms Napoleon III was supposed not to be
insensible. Paris was full of notabilities whom he sought to turn
into useful allies. In a letter to the Marquis Emanuel d'Azeglio (the
Sardinian Minister in London) he tells how he even "made up" to Lady
Holland's dog with such success that he got it to put its large paws
on his new coat! When the Marchioness of Ely arrived to be present on
the part of the Queen at the birth of the Prince Imperial, Cavour,
knowing her to be the Queen's intimate correspondent, lost no time in
paying his court to her; but in this instance an acquaintance begun
from political motives ripened into real friendship on both sides. A
point which is worth observing is that, as minister, no one ever made
less use of what may he called the influence of society than Cavour.
He never tried to make himself agreeable at Turin, least of all to the
king. For a long time he was considered haughty by those who did not
know him, and arbitrary by those who did. But abroad he underwent a
change which probably came about from his revealing not less but more
of his natural self. "He has that petulance," Massimo d'Azeglio said,
"which is exactly what they like in Paris." Abroad he could give this
quality freer play than in Italy, where vivacity offends in a serious
man. He charmed even those who did not share his opinions. At a dinner
given by the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris to all the members of the
Congress, he sat next to the Abbé Darboy, one day to succeed to the
see and meet a martyr's death in the Commune. The Abbé never forgot
his neighbour of that evening, and in 1870, at Rome during the
Oecumenical Council, when some one mentioned Cavour's name, he
exclaimed, throwing up his hands, "Ah, that was a man in a thousand!
He had not the slightest sentiment of hate in his heart."

In the two months which Cavour spent in Paris he perceived very
clearly that Walewski and the other French ministers would have to be
reckoned more as opponents than friends in the future development of
affairs. He found, however, two men who could be trusted to continue
his work by incessantly pushing Napoleon III. in an Italian direction;
one was Prince Napoleon, the other, Dr. Conneau, a person entirely in
the Imperial confidence. Henceforth Dr. Conneau was the secret, and
for a long time quite unsuspected, intermediary between Cavour and the
Emperor. The idea of establishing this channel of communication first
occurred to Count Arese, whose own influence at the Tuileries, though
exercised with prudent reserve, was of no slight importance. This
Milanese nobleman personified, as it were all the proud hatred of
the Lombard aristocracy for an alien yoke. The truest and most
disinterested friend of Queen Hortense, Arese remained faithfully
attached to her son in good and evil fortune. He would never turn the
friendship to account for himself. When Napoleon offered to ask as a
personal favour for the removal of the sequestration on his family
property, he answered that he preferred to take his chance with the
rest. He won the lasting regard of the Empress, though she knew that
he influenced Napoleon in a sense contrary to her own political
sympathies. The visits of this high-minded gentleman and devoted
friend were as welcome at a court crowded with self-seekers and
charlatans as they were to be later in the solitude of Chislehurst.
Arese was in Paris during the Congress, having been chosen by the
king, at Cavour's urgent request, to carry his congratulations to the
Emperor on the birth of the Prince Imperial.

At the earlier sittings of the Congress, Cavour kept in the
background; his instinct as a man of the world, and that mixture of
astuteness and simplicity which he shared with many of his countrymen
(even those of no education), guided him in filling a difficult and,
in some respects, an embarrassing position. He spoke, when he did
speak, in as brief terms as could serve to express his opinion.
But this modest attitude only threw into relief his inalienable
superiority. He cast about the shadow of future greatness. The
representative of the second-rate Power, who sat there only by favour,
was to make so much more history than any of his colleagues! Curiously
enough the only one of the plenipotentiaries who had a prior
acquaintance with Cavour was the Austrian, Count Buol, who was
formerly ambassador at Turin. In old days, before 1848, he had played
whist with him. "I know M. de Cavour," he said; "I am afraid he will
give us _de fil à retordre_." Cavour carefully avoided, however,
unnecessary friction. Loyal to both the allies, he managed to steer
between their not always consonant aims while preserving his own
independence, by taking what seemed, on the whole, the most liberal
side in debated questions. With Count Buol he maintained courteous
if formal relations, and he soon made a thorough conquest of Count
Orloff, who did not begin by being prepossessed in favour of the
minister who alone had caused the Sardinian attack on Russia, but who
ended on far better terms with him than with his Austrian colleague,
of whom he said to Cavour in a voice meant to be heard, "Count Buol
talks exactly as if Austria had taken Sebastopol!"

With regard to Cavour's real business, the fate of Italy, he was
obliged to proceed with a restraint which few men would have had the
self-control to observe. This was what had been predicted; how, in
fact, putting aside Austria, could an Italian patriot speak freely
of nationality, of alien dominion, of the rights of peoples, in an
assembly of old diplomatists, conservative by the nature of their
profession and religiously in awe of treaties by the responsibility
of their office? It was only just before the signature of peace that
Cavour cautiously launched his bolt in the shape of a note on the
situation of affairs in Italy, addressed to the English and French
plenipotentiaries. It was conceived on the same lines as the letter
to Walewski: the Austrian occupation of the Roman Legations was again
made a sort of test question, to which particular weight was attached.
One reason why Cavour dwelt so much on this point was that the
occupation could be assailed on legal grounds, leaving nationality
alone. As, moreover, it was admitted that the Papal Government would
fall in Romagna were the Austrians withdrawn, the principle of the
destruction of the temporal power of the Pope would be granted
from the moment that their departure was declared expedient. While
D'Azeglio thought that the separation of Romagna from the States of
the Church would be "positively mischievous," Cavour looked upon it in
the light of the first step to far greater changes. Many other schemes
were floating in his brain for which he worked feverishly in private,
though he did not venture to support them officially. The object
nearest his heart was the union or rather reunion of Parma and
Modena with Piedmont, to which those duchies had annexed themselves
spontaneously in 1848. In order to get rid of the Duke of Modena and
Duchess of Parma with the consent of Europe, Cavour was desperately
anxious to find them--other situations. Every throne that was or could
be made vacant was reviewed in turn; Greece, Wallachia, and Moldavia,
anywhere out of Italy would do; the Duchess, not a very youthful
widow, was to marry this or that prince to obligingly facilitate
matters:--abortive projects, which seem absurd now, but Cavour was
willing to try everything to gain anything. In weaving these plans
Cavour employed the energy of which Prince Napoleon complained that he
did not show enough in the Congress, though to have shown more would
have led to a rebuff, or, perhaps, to enforced retirement. Still there
was one point which, in the Congress, as out of it, he never treated
with moderation: this was the sequestration of Lombard estates. When
Count Buol spoke of an amnesty including _nearly_ all cases, he
replied that he would not renew diplomatic relations with Vienna
while one exception remained. In an audience with the Emperor, after
Walewski had ingeniously tried to excuse Austria for exercising her
"rights" over her ex-subjects, Cavour burst out with the declaration
that if he had 150,000 men at his disposal he would make it a _casus
belli_ with Austria that very day.

Peace was signed on March 30. A supplementary sitting was held on
April 8, when the President, Count Walewski, by express order of
the Emperor, and to the astonishment of all present, proposed for
discussion the French and Austrian occupations of the Roman States
and the conduct of the king of Naples (his own favourite monarch) as
likely to provoke grave complications and to compromise the peace of
Europe. This was a victory for Cavour, as it was the direct result
of his "note," but he was afraid that the discussion of the Roman
question would be kept within the narrowest limits in consequence of
its affecting France as well as Austria. Walewski wished so to limit
it; he was embarrassed by the analogy of the French in Rome, and by
the fear of saying something unflattering of the Pope. But Napoleon
would not have risked the discussion at all had he shared his
minister's sensitiveness. The truth was, that he was always looking
out for an excuse which would serve with the clerical party in
France for recalling his troops from Rome. He was thinking then of
withdrawing them so as to oblige Austria to withdraw her forces from
the Legations. It does not appear that Cavour guessed this. In his own
speech he glided over the presence of the French, in Rome as lightly
as he could, merely saying that his Government "desired" the complete
evacuation of the Roman States; but his reserve was not imitated by
Lord Clarendon, nor could Napoleon have expected that it would
be. When some one asked Lord Palmerston for a definition of the
difference between "occupation" and "business," he answered on the
spur of the moment--"There is a French occupation of Rome, but they
have no business there;" and this witticism correctly represented
English opinion on the subject. It was natural, therefore, that the
British plenipotentiary should make no distinction between the French
in Rome and the Austrians at Bologna: he denounced both occupations as
equally to be condemned and equally calculated to disturb the
balance of power, but at the root of the matter was the abominable
misgovernment, which made it impossible to leave the Pope to his
subjects without fear of revolution. The papal administration was the
opprobrium of Europe. As to the king of Naples, if he did not soon
mend his ways and listen to the advice of the Powers, it would become
their duty to enforce it by arguments of a kind which he could not
refuse to obey. An extraordinary sensation was created by the speech
of which this is a bald summary; it might have been spoken, Cavour
said, "by an Italian radical," and the vehemence with which it was
delivered doubled its effect. Lord Clarendon, who, at the beginning of
the Congress, was nervous as to what Cavour might do, had been worked
up to such a pitch of indignation by the private conversations of his
outwardly discreet colleague that he himself threw diplomatic reserve
to the winds. Walewski, dreadfully uncomfortable about the Pope, tried
to bring the discussion back within politer bounds; Buol was stiffly
indignant; Orloff, indifferent about the Pope, was on tenter-hooks as
to Russia's friend, the king of Naples; the Prussian plenipotentiary
said that he had no instructions; the Grand Vizier was the only person
who remained quite calm. Cavour's concluding speech was dignified and
prudent; his real comment on the proceedings was the remark which he
made to every one after the sitting was over: "You see there is only
one solution--the cannon!"

On April 11 he called on Lord Clarendon with the intention of driving
home this inference. Two things, he said, resulted from what had
passed: firstly, that Austria was resolved to make no concession;
secondly, that Italy had nothing to expect from diplomacy. This being
so, the position of Sardinia became extremely difficult: either she
must make it up with the Pope and with Austria, or she must prepare,
with prudence, for war with Austria. In the first alternative he
should retire, to make place for the retrogrades; in the second he
wished to be sure that his views were not in opposition to those of
"our best ally," England. Lord Clarendon "furiously caressed his
chin," but he seemed by no means surprised "You are perfectly right,"
he said, "only it must not be talked about." Cavour then said that war
did not alarm him, and, when once begun, they were determined that
it should be to the knife (using the English phrase); he added that,
however short a time it lasted, England would be obliged to help them.
Lord Clarendon, taking his hand from his chin, replied, "Certainly,
with all our hearts."

When, after Cavour's death, the text of this conversation was printed,
Lord Clarendon denied in the House of Lords having ever encouraged
Piedmont to go to war with Austria. Nevertheless, it is impossible
that Cavour, who wrote his account of the interview directly after it
occurred, could have been mistaken about the words which may well have
escaped from the memory of the speaker in an interval of six years.
With regard to the sense, the sequel proved that Lord Clarendon did
not attach the official value to what he said which, for a moment,
Cavour hoped to find in it. Lord Clarendon's speech before the
Congress gives evidence of a state of mind wrought to the utmost
excitement by the tale of Italy's sufferings, and it is not surprising
if, speaking as a private individual, he used still stronger
expressions of sympathy. Nor is it surprising that Cavour attributed
more weight to these expressions than they merited. Up till now, he
had never counted on more than moral support from England; he admitted
to himself that the English alliance, which he would have infinitely
preferred to any other, was a dream. But the thought now flashed on
him that it might become a reality. He decided to pay a short visit
to England, which was useful, because it dispelled illusions, always
dangerous in politics. In the damp air of the Thames, Lord Clarendon
seemed no longer the same enthusiast, and Lord Palmerston pleaded the
excuse of a domestic affliction for seeing very little of Cavour. The
Queen was kind as ever, but the momentary hope conceived in Paris
vanished. One after-consequence of this visit was Lord Lyndhurst's
motion, which nearly caused an estrangement between the British and
Sardinian Governments. Cavour had taken too literally the assurance
that on the subject of Italy there was no division of parties. The
warmly Italian speech of the veteran conservative statesman which had
been inspired by him was not meant to embarrass the ministry, but
that was its effect, and it was natural that they should feel some
resentment. Fortunately the cloud soon passed away, and if Cavour
imagined to gain anything from flirtations with the Tory party he
was undeceived by the violently pro-Austrian speech delivered by Mr.
Disraeli in July. The sincere goodwill of individuals such as Lord
Lyndhurst and Lord Stanhope (who invented the phrase "Italy for
the Italians," so often repeated later) did not represent the then
prevailing sentiment of the party as a whole.

Cavour returned to Turin without bringing, as Massimo d'Azeglio
expressed it, "even the smallest duchy in his pocket"; yet satisfied
with his work, for he rightly judged that, though there was no
material gain, the moral victory was complete. The recalcitration of
Austria, which had reached the point of threatening war if Parma were
joined to Piedmont, contained the germs of her dissolution as an
Italian power. The temporal power of the Pope had been called in
question for the first time, not in the lodge of a secret society, but
in the council chamber of Europe. Beaten on the lower plane, Cavour
had won on the higher; checked as a Piedmontese, he was triumphant
as an Italian. In spite of the approval voted by both Houses of
Parliament, some shade of disappointment existed in Piedmont, but
throughout Italy there was exultation. The Tuscan patriots sent the
statesman a bust of himself, with the happily chosen inscription:
"Colui che la difese a viso aperto."[1]

[Footnote 1: "He who defended her with open face" (Dante).]

The position of Piedmont after the Congress of Paris was one to which
it would be difficult to find a parallel. States are commonly at peace
or at war; if at peace, even where there are smouldering enmities, an
appearance is kept up of mutual toleration. But in Piedmont the king,
government, and people were already morally at war with Austria. When
Cavour said in the Chamber that the two months during which he sat
side by side with the Austrian plenipotentiaries had left in his
mind no personal animus against them, as he was glad to admit their
generally courteous conduct, but the most intimate conviction that
any understanding between the two countries was unattainable, he
was certainly aware of the grave significance of his words. Great
solutions were not the work of the pen, and diplomacy was powerless
to change the fate of peoples: these were the conclusions which he
brought away from Congress. Every one knew that they meant war. Except
for the order for marching, the truce imposed by Novara was broken.
Those who had been edified by Cavour's cautious language in Paris
stood aghast. It was well enough that Piedmont should protest in a
calm, academic way, but protest was now abandoned for defiance. The
change was the more unwelcome, because both in France and England the
pendulum of the clock was swinging towards Austria. Napoleon disliked
to commit himself to any policy, and after seeming to adopt one side
he invariably swayed to the other. There was not the same intentional
inconsistency in England, but the fact that Austria was undergoing
a detachment from Russia improved her relations with England. Lord
Palmerston suspected Cavour of being too friendly with Russia. In
addition to this, there was a real fear in England lest Piedmont
should pay dearly for what was considered its rashness. The British
Government put the question to Cavour, whether it would not be
better to disarm the opposition of Austria by depriving her of every
plausible reason for combating the policy of Piedmont? He replied
that only Count Solaro de la Margherita and his friends could live on
amicable terms with the oppressors of Italy; England was at liberty to
renew her old alliance with Austria if she chose, but upon that
ground he could not follow her; Lord Palmerston might end where Lord
Castlereagh began, but they would remain faithful to their principles
whatever happened.

Two causes tended to prolong a coldness that was new in the
intercourse between England and Piedmont. One was the frontier
question of Bolgrad, in which, however, Cavour finally acted as
mediator, his suggestion being accepted both by the English and
the Russian Governments. The other was the _Cagliari_ affair: the
_Cagliari_, a Sardinian merchant ship, which carried the ill-fated
expedition of Pisacane to Sapri, was captured by the Neapolitan
Government, and the crew, two of whom were English, were taken in
chains to Salerno. At first the English Foreign Office seemed inclined
to back up an energetic demand for restitution, but afterwards it
deprecated strong measures, and left Sardinia somewhat in the lurch.
Circumstances combined, therefore, to render Cavour isolated, but he
understood that this was a reason to advance, not to retreat. Had
Sardinia seemed to bend to the peaceable advice of her friends abroad,
her ascendency in Italy would have been gone for ever. Cavour drilled
the army, and drew nearer to those great popular forces that were
destined to make Italy, which could be freed, but never regenerated,
by the sword. Piedmontese statesmen had always looked askance at these
forces; Cavour was becoming fully alive to the vast motive power they
would place in the hands of the man who could command them, and whom
they could not command. He was free from the caste prejudices which
caused many even good patriots of that date to hold the masses in
horror. If he had prejudices they were against the men of his own
order. Once, in summing up the results of an unsatisfactory general
election, he wrote: "A dozen marquises, two dozen counts, without
reckoning barons and cavalieri--it was enough to drive one mad!" When
he had to do with men born of the people, he instinctively treated
them on a perfect equality, not a common trait, if the truth were
told. In August 1856 an event took place which had far-reaching
consequences: the first interview between Cavour and Garibaldi. Cavour
was one of Garibaldi's earliest admirers; he applauded his exploits
at Montevideo and at Rome, when the old Piedmontese party tried to
belittle him and obliged Charles Albert to decline his services. In
one way the hero was a man after the minister's own heart: he was
absolutely practical; he might be obstinate or rash, but he was no
doctrinaire. Cavour never changed his opinion of people, and even
after the General became his enemy he still admired and esteemed
him. In 1856 he received him with flattering courtesy, the first
recognition he had met with from any person in authority in his own
state, from which, after 1849, he had been, not exactly banished, but
invited to depart. During the same autumn Cavour began to see much of
Giuseppe La Farina, a Sicilian exile, who was intimately connected
with the new party, which, despairing alike of the existing
governments and of the republic, took for its watchword, "Italy under
Victor Emmanuel." In the first instance, La Farina was commissioned to
ask Cavour to explain his views. His answer was perfectly frank. He
had faith, he said, in the ultimate union of Italy in one state, with
Rome for its capital; but he was not sufficiently acquainted with the
other provinces to know whether the country was ripe for so great a
transformation. He was minister of the king of Sardinia, and he could
not and ought not to do anything which would compromise the dynasty.
If the Italians were really ready for unity, he had the hope that the
opportunity of getting it would not be very long delayed; meanwhile,
as not one of his political friends believed in its possibility, the
cause would only be injured were it known that he had direct dealings
with the men who were working for it. He was willing to receive La
Farina whenever he liked, but on the understanding that he came in the
morning before it was light, and that, if Parliament or diplomacy got
wind of their relations, he should reply that he knew nothing about
him. The interviews took place almost daily for four years, without
any one knowing of them. Some hours before dawn La Farina ascended the
narrow secret staircase which led directly to Cavour's bedroom, and he
was gone when the city awakened. In spite of the almost melodramatic
complexion of these secret meetings, it must not be supposed, as some
have supposed, that Cavour pulled the wires of all the conspiracies
in Italy. His visitor kept him informed of the progress made, the
propaganda carried on, but he rarely interfered. He still thought
that his own business was to make Piedmont an object-lesson in
constitutional monarchy, and to get the Austrians out of Italy. That
done, the country, left to itself, must decide whether it would unite
or not.

After the Congress of Paris, Cavour took the Foreign Office in
addition to the Ministry of Finance. He could not trust either of
these departments to other hands; and the country approved, for the
conviction gained ground that, whether he was mad or not, only he
could extricate it from the situation into which he had drawn it. When
one senator called him a dictator, he retorted that, if Parliament
refused him its support, he should go away, which was not the habit
of dictators. But the mere threat of resignation brought the most
recalcitrant to reason. Thus he continued to obtain large sums to
carry out the works he deemed necessary, one of the greatest of which
was the transfer of the arsenal from Genoa to Spezia--a step
which angered the Genoese on one side, and on the other the old
conservatives, who asked what had little Piedmont to do with big
fleets? "But the fact was," Count Solaro said with a sneer, "the Prime
Minister had all Italy in view, and was preparing for the future
kingdom." Cavour also forced Parliament to vote the supplies required
for undertaking the boring of Mont Cenis, which most of the deputies
expected would be a total failure. In proposing this vote he declared
that they must advance or perish. He was delighted with a phrase with
which Lord Palmerston concluded a congratulatory letter sent to
the Sardinian legation in London, and written in elegant Italian:
"Henceforth no one will talk of the works of the ancient Romans." This
little episode wiped out the last traces of misunderstanding between
the two statesmen, who became again what fate had meant them to be,
friends and fellow-workers. Cavour's budgets had the inherent defect
that they continued to show increased expenditure and a deficit,
but no minister who had lacked the power and the courage to brave
criticism by a financial policy which would have been certainly
indefensible if Piedmont alone was concerned, could have done what
he did. Meanwhile, on the whole, the economic state of the country
improved in spite of heavy taxation: the exports and imports
increased; there were signs of industrial activity; agriculture
revived. Cavour was often bitterly blamed for favouring and sparing
the landowning class, though whether he did this because he had
estates at Leri, as his detractors alleged, or because agriculture
must always be the most vital of all Italian interests, need not be
discussed now. Improved education stimulated enterprise. That there
was room for improvement may be supposed, when it is known that in
1848 the number of persons who could not read was three to one to the
number of those who could.

The most severe phase in the financial difficulties was past when,
at the beginning of 1858, Cavour consigned the exchequer to Lanza,
assuming himself the Ministry of the Interior, which was vacant
through the resignation of Rattazzi. The breach between the two men,
who were never in entire intellectual harmony, had been growing
inevitable for some months. It was final; Cavour resolved never again
to have Rattazzi for a colleague. The elections of the autumn before,
which Cavour thought that Rattazzi had mismanaged, lessened his
confidence in him; but the actual cause of their rupture was briefly
this. Cavour wished to put an end to the king's relations with the
Countess Mirafiori, whom he married by the rite of the Church during
his serious illness near Pisa in 1868--an interference in the private
affairs of the sovereign which, though inspired by regard for the
decorum of the Crown, must be admitted to have been unwise, as
(amongst other reasons) it was certain not to attain its object. In
this matter Cavour thought that Rattazzi ought to have stood by him,
instead of which he took the part of the deeply offended king, who
went so far as to say that only his position and his duty to the
country prevented him from challenging his prime minister then and



Time seems long to those who wait. The thrill of expectancy that
passed through Italy after the Congress of Paris was succeeded by the
nervous tension that seizes people whose ears are strained to catch
some sound which never comes. Especially in Lombardy there was a
feeling of great depression: no one trusted now in revolution, which
the watchfulness of the Austrians made as impossible as their careless
belief in their own invulnerability had made it possible in 1848. The
years went by, and help from without appeared farther off than ever.
Meanwhile every interest suffered, and life was rendered wellnigh
intolerable by the ceaseless antagonism between government and
governed. This was the state of things when the Archduke Maximilian
came to Milan full of genuine love for the Emperor's Italian subjects
and of determination to right their wrongs. "I much admire M. de
Cavour," he said to a Prussian diplomatist, "but when it is a question
of a policy of progress, I am not going to let him outdo me." On his
side Cavour remarked, "That Archduke is persevering, and will not be
discouraged, but I am persevering too, and will not let myself be
discouraged." Nevertheless, if there was one thing that Cavour had
always feared, it was Austrian conciliation. The gift of a milder rule
would change the aspect of the whole question before Europe, and only
those ignorant of human nature could suppose that it would entirely
fail in its effect with a population which was beginning to be
hopeless. Cavour viewed the experiment not without anxiety, but he
guessed that the good intentions of Maximilian would be frustrated by
the Viennese Government. The forecast was verified, but meanwhile the
simple fact that an Austrian archduke had set his heart on winning the
affections of the Lombards and Venetians was taken everywhere as a
sign favourable to peace.

Then happened the unforeseen event which marks with almost unfailing
regularity the turning points in history. On January 14, 1858, Felice
Orsini tried to assassinate Napoleon III and failed. His failure was
strange. The bomb thrown under the carriage which conveyed the Emperor
and Empress to the opera did not explode. An accomplice was arrested
with another in his hand, which he had not time to throw. Many of
the passers-by received fatal or serious injuries. Of the previous
attempts on Napoleon's life none was prepared with such seeming
certainty of success. If others were planned with equal deliberation,
could the result be doubted? Napoleon was probably putting this
question to himself when he appeared in his box, with an impassible
face, while the conspirators on the stage sang the chorus of the oaths
in _Guillaume Tell_. Not a cheer greeted the sovereigns, though what
had occurred in the street was immediately known. When the first
report reached Turin, Cavour exclaimed, "If only this is not the work
of Italians!" On receiving the particulars with the name of Orsini, he
remembered that this Romagnol revolutionist had written to him nine
months before, offering his services to whatever Italian Government,
"not the Papacy," would place its army at the disposal of the national
independence, and urging the Sardinian ministers to take a daring
course, in which they would have all Italy with them. Cavour did not
answer the letter, "because it was noble and energetic, and he thought
it unbecoming in him to pay Orsini compliments." If he had summoned
Orsini to Piedmont, the attempt in the Rue le Peletier would never
have taken place.

No one in Europe was more dismayed by the news than Cavour, who
expected a harvest of embarrassments for Sardinia, and, worst of all,
the permanent ill-will of Napoleon. The first expectation was speedily
realised: floods of official and unofficial invective were poured upon
the two countries, which were held responsible for nurturing the plot.
In England the counter-blast upset Lord Palmerston's Government, and
in Piedmont the dynasty itself might have been endangered had not
Victor Emmanuel's sense of personal dignity preserved him from bending
to the rod of imperial displeasure. Cavour was ready even to forestall
the cry for precautionary measures; the air was full of wild
rumours, and he thought that Victor Emmanuel's days and his own were
threatened, a baseless suspicion, for the most reckless conspirators
in those times accounted regicide madness in a free country. But he
believed it, and for this reason, as well as from his entirely sincere
abhorrence of political crime, he was quite in earnest in his resolve
to go as far as the Statute would let him to keep plotters out of
Piedmont. Napoleon, however, affected to consider the action of the
Sardinian Government weak and dilatory, an opinion which he expressed
with vehemence to General Delia Rocca, who was sent by the king to
congratulate him on his escape. He hinted that, if his complaints were
not attended to, he should seek an alliance with Austria. All the
pride of the Savoy blood rose in the veins of Victor Emmanuel: "Tell
the Emperor," he wrote to Delia Rocca, "in the terms you think best,
that this is not the way to treat a faithful ally; that I have never
tolerated violence from any one; that I follow the path of honour, for
which I have to answer to God and to my people; that we have carried
our head high for 850 years, and that no one will make me bow it; and
that, notwithstanding, I desire to be nothing but his friend." Cavour
instructed Delia Rocca to "commit the indiscretion" of reading the
letter to the Emperor word for word. At the same time he wrote to the
Sardinian Minister in Paris "that the king was ready for the last
extremity to save the honour and independence of the country, and
we with him." But extremities were not needful. Napoleon was always
impressed by the true ring of that ancient royalty which was the one
thing which he could not purchase. He wrote a conciliatory letter to
Victor Emmanuel: "It was only between good friends that questions
could be treated with frankness. Let the king do what he could, and
not be uneasy." The French Foreign Office went on scolding through the
Legation at Turin, till Cavour said, with a smile, to Prince de Latour
d'Auvergne, "But it is finished; yesterday the king had a letter from
the Emperor which ends the whole affair."

A little while after, Cavour received a private communication from
Paris containing Orsini's last letter, and inviting him to publish it
in the _Official Gazette_. It was only then that it began to dawn on
him what had been the real effect of the attempt, and of Orsini's
trial, on the mind of the Emperor. Cavour had none of the
fellow-feeling with conspirators that lurked in Napoleon's brain, and
the idea seemed to him absurd that a man should be strongly moved by
the pleading of his would-be assassin. Among the royal families of
Europe, Orsini's influence was at once understood, but it was thought
to have its source in fear. It was remarked how, when the sentence of
death was passed, the condemned man, turning to his counsel, whispered
the words of Tasso--

  Risorgerò, nemico ognor più crudo,
  Cenere anco sepolto e spirto ignudo.

"The Italian dagger," wrote the Prince Regent of Prussia, "has become
a fixed idea with Napoleon." Yet it was not only, and perhaps not
chiefly, the fear of being assassinated that inclined Napoleon to
listen to Orsini's dying prayer, "Free my country, and the blessings
of twenty-five million Italians will go with you!" His own part in the
revolutionary movement of 1831 has been shown to have been no boyish
freak but serious work, into which he entered with the sole enthusiasm
of his life. "I feel for the first time that I live!" he wrote when on
the march towards Rome. The Romagna was the hotbed of the Carbonari;
all his friends belonged to the Society, and it must always be held
probable that he belonged to it also. At any rate the memory of those
days lent dramatic force to the last appeal of the man who was more
willing to go to the scaffold than he was to send him there.

If this view is correct, it follows that when Napoleon talked about an
Austrian alliance to enforce his demand for restrictive measures in
Piedmont, it was a groundless threat, such as he was always in the
habit of using. A month after Orsini's execution, the project of an
alliance between France and Sardinia, and of the marriage of the
king's daughter with Prince Napoleon, reached Cavour in a mysterious
manner, and it is still unknown if it was sent with the Emperor's
knowledge, or by some one who had secretly ascertained what he was
thinking about. Cavour showed the draft to the king, but he did not
place much credence in it. Nevertheless, to keep Napoleon's attention
fixed on Italy, he caused him to be informally assured that if the
worst came to the worst, Sardinia would go to war with Austria by
herself; the situation was already so strained that almost anything
would be preferable to its prolongation. Cavour had just induced
the Chamber to sanction a new loan for forty million francs, which
suggested that, if others were apt to use empty threats, he was not.
In June Dr. Conneau, who was travelling "for his amusement," stopped
at Turin, where he saw both the king and Cavour. Under the seal of
absolute secrecy it was arranged that Napoleon and Cavour should meet
"by accident" at Plombières. Next month the minister left Turin to
breathe the fresh air of the mountains. He was not in high spirits. To
La Marmora, the only man besides the king who knew the true motive
of his journey, he wrote, "Pray heaven that I do not commit some
stupidity; in spite of my usual self-reliance, I am not without grave
uneasiness." He succeeded in travelling so privately that he was
nearly arrested on arriving at Plombières because he had not a
passport: a mysterious Italian coming from no one knew where--no doubt
a new Orsini! But one of the Emperor's suite recognised him, and made
things straight. He passed nearly the whole of two days closeted with
Napoleon, the decisive interview lasting from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M., after
which the Emperor took him out alone, in a carriage driven by himself.
During this drive the subject of the Princess Clotilde's marriage
was broached. Towards the end of the visit, Napoleon said to him,
"Walewski has just telegraphed to me that you are here!" The French
ministers were, as usual, kept in the dark. It flattered Napoleon's
_amour propre_ to take into secret partnership a man whose place in
history he divined. "There are only three men in Europe," he remarked
to his guest; "we two, and then a third, whom I will not name." Who
was the third? Bismarck was still occupied in sending home advice that
was not taken from the Prussian Embassy at St Petersburg. The saying
brings to mind another, attributed to the aged Prince Metternich,
"There is only one diplomatist in Europe, but unfortunately he is
against us; it is M. de Cavour."

In a long letter to the king, Cavour gave a detailed but probably not
a complete account of the interviews at Plombières. It is said that
among his papers, which Ricasoli, his successor in the premiership,
gave to his heirs, but which they ultimately restored to the State,
there is only one sealed packet--that which relates to this visit. He
went by no means certain that the Emperor meant to do anything at all;
he came away with great hopes, but still without certainty, for his
trust in his partner was limited. He never felt sure whether Napoleon
was not indulging on a large scale in the sport of building castles in
the air, to which all semi-romantic temperaments are addicted. Still
the basis of what bore every appearance of a definite understanding
had been established. A rising in Massa and Carrara was to serve as
the pretext of war. The object of the war was the expulsion of the
Austrians from Italy, to be followed by the formation of a kingdom of
Upper Italy, which should include the valley of the Po, the Legations,
and the Marches of Ancona. Savoy was to be ceded to France. The fate
of Nice was left undecided. To all of these propositions the king had
authorised Cavour to agree. The hand of the Princess Clotilde was only
to be conceded if it was made a condition of the alliance, which was
not the case. Cavour believed, however, that everything depended on
gratifying the Emperor's wish, and he strongly urged the king to
yield a point which seemed to him of no great importance. Since most
princesses made unhappy marriages, what did it matter if Prince
Napoleon was a promising bridegroom or not? Victor Emmanuel was
persuaded by the "reason of State"; but the sacrifice of his daughter
cost him more than Cavour could ever conceive.

Napoleon told his visitor that he felt sure of the benevolent attitude
of Russia, and of the neutrality of England and Prussia, but he had
no illusions as to the difficulty of the task. The Austrians would
be hard to crush, and unless thoroughly crushed they would not relax
their hold on Italy. Peace must be imposed at Vienna. To this end
at least 200,000 Frenchmen and 100,000 Italians would be necessary.
Cavour has been criticised for acquiescing in the crippled programme
of a kingdom of Upper Italy. What was he to do? Victor Amadeus II,
in his instructions to the Marquis del Borgo, his minister at the
Congress of Utrecht, laid down the rule: "Aller au solide et au
présent et parler ensuite des chimères agréables." This was the only
rule which Victor Emmanuel's minister could observe with any profit to
his country at Plombières. As he wrote himself, "In politics one can
only do one thing at a time, and the only thing we have to think of is
how to get the Austrians out of Italy."

The period from the meeting with the Emperor of the French to the
outbreak of the war was, in the opinion of the present writer, the
greatest period in Cavour's life. Patience, temper, forethought,
resource, resolution--every quality of a great statesman he exhibited
in turn, and above all the supreme gift of making no mistakes. He did
not trust in chance or in fate; he trusted entirely in himself. He
showed extraordinary ability in compelling the most various and
opposing elements to combine in the service of his ends. In spite of
Napoleon's promises and of the current of personal sentiment which lay
beneath them, he soon foresaw that the unwillingness of France and the
constitutional vacillation of the Emperor would render them barren of
results, unless Austria attacked--an eventuality which was considered
impossible on all sides. Mazzini, who was generally not only
clear-sighted, but also furnished with secret information, the origin
of which is even now a mystery, asserted positively that "even if
provoked Austria would not attack." The same belief prevailed in the
inner circle of diplomacy. When Mr. Odo Russell called on Cavour in
December 1858, he remarked that Austria had only to play a waiting
game to wear out the financial resources of Piedmont, while, on the
other hand, Piedmont would forfeit the sympathies of Europe if it
precipitated matters by a declaration of war. The only solution would
be if the declaration of war came from Austria; but she would never
commit so enormous a blunder. "But I shall force her to declare war
against us," Cavour tranquilly replied, and when the incredulous
Englishman inquired at what time he expected to bring about this
consummation, he answered, "About the first week in May." Mr. Odo
Russell wrote down the date in his notebook, and boundless was his
surprise when Austria actually declared war a few days in advance of
the time prescribed. This is statesmancraft!

Cavour had always said that an English alliance would be the only
one without drawbacks. Among these drawbacks he doubtless placed the
melancholy necessity of ceding Piedmontese territory; but that was not
all. There was a peril which would have appeared to him yet more fatal
than the lopping off of a limb, because it threatened the vital
organs of national life: the risk of an all-powerful French influence
extending over Italy. To ward off this danger it was of the greatest
moment that Italians should join in their own liberation--that not
only the Government and the army but patriots of every condition
should rally round the country's flag. Though Cavour has been often
said to have lacked imagination, it needed the imaginative faculty
to discern what would be the true value of the free corps which he
decided to constitute under the name of the Hunters of the Alps. With
a promise of 200,000 Frenchmen in his pocket, he was yet ready to
confront difficulties which he afterwards called "immense," in order
to place in the field a few thousand volunteers of whom the heads of
the army declared that they would only prove an embarrassment. Cavour
listened to no one. He sent for Garibaldi, then at Caprera, and having
made sure of his enthusiastic co-operation, he carried out his project
without asking the assent of Parliament and without flinching before
the most violent opposition, internal and external. Had not Cavour
felt so conscious of his strength he would have been afraid of
offending Napoleon by "arming the revolution"; but he knew that the
best way to deal with men of the Emperor's stamp is to show that you
do not fear them. Garibaldi, who never did anything by halves, placed
himself and his influence absolutely at Cavour's disposal. "You can
tell our friend that he is omnipotent," he wrote to La Farina. He
begged the Government to assume despotic power till the issue was
decided. Garibaldi did not love the man of the _coup d'état_; but he
knew too much about war to miscalculate either the value or the need
of the French alliance. Only a small section of the republicans
still stood aloof. Cavour had Italy with him. All felt what Massimo
d'Azeglio expressed with generous expansion, "To-day it is no longer a
question of discussing your policy, but of making it succeed." Cavour
had torn open the letter with impatience, recognising the handwriting.
When he finished reading it his eyes were full of tears. No one was
more whole-hearted in his support of the minister who exacted of him
two most bitter sacrifices than the king. "The difficulty," Cavour
said, "is to hold him back, not to spur him on." The public,
imperfectly informed of what was happening or going to happen,
remained calm, for, at last, its faith in the helmsman was complete.
An amusing story is told of those times. The Countess von Stackelberg,
wife of the Russian minister at Turin, was buying something at a shop
under the Porticoes, when the shopman suddenly left her and rushed to
the door. On coming back he said with excuses, "I saw Count Cavour
passing, and wishing to know how our affairs are going on, I wanted to
see how he looked. He looks in good spirits, so everything is going

A misunderstanding arose between France and Austria on a question
connected with Servia; it was in outward allusion to this that
Napoleon said to the Austrian Ambassador at the reception of the Corps
Diplomatique on New Year's Day, 1859, "Je regrette que les relations
entre nous soient si mauvaises; dites cependant à Votre Souverain que
mes sentiments pour lui ne sont pas changés." Whether there was
a deliberate intention to convey another meaning is a matter of
conjecture; at all events the whole of Europe gave the words an
Italian sense, and Cavour, though taken by surprise, was not slow to
turn them to account. In writing the speech from the throne for the
opening of Parliament, he introduced a paragraph alluding to clouds in
the horizon, and eventualities "which they awaited in the firm resolve
to fulfil the mission assigned to them by Providence." The other
ministers would not share the responsibility of language so charged
with electricity. Cavour then did one of those simple things which
yet, by some mystery of the human brain, require a man of genius to do
them--he sent a draft of the speech to Napoleon and asked him what
he thought of it! The Emperor answered that, in fact, the disputed
paragraph appeared too strong, and he sent a proposed alteration which
made it much stronger! The new version ran: "Our policy rests on
justice, the love of freedom, our country, humanity: sentiments which
find an echo among all civilised nations. If Piedmont, small in
territory, yet counts for something in the councils of Europe, it
is because it is great by reason of the ideas it represents and the
sympathies it inspires. This position doubtless creates for us many
dangers; nevertheless, while respecting treaties, we cannot remain
insensible to the cries of grief that reach us from so many parts of
Italy." Cavour had the French words turned into good Italian by a
literary friend (for he always misdoubted his own grammar); one or two
expressions were changed; "humanity" was left out. Did it savour too
much of Mazzini? Victor Emmanuel himself much improved the closing
sentence by substituting "cry" for "cries." This was the singularly
hybrid manner in which the royal speech of January 10, 1859, arrived
at its final form. Much, at this critical juncture, depended on its
effect, and nothing is so impossible to foretell as the effect of
words spoken before a public assembly. Cavour stood beside the throne
watching the impression which each phrase created; when he saw that
success was complete, beyond every expectation, he was deeply moved.
The ministers of the Italian princedoms could hardly keep their
virtuous indignation within bounds. Sir James Hudson called the speech
"a rocket falling on the treaties of 1815"; the Russian Minister,
waxing poetic, compared it with the shining dawn of a fine spring day.
The "grido di dolore," rapturously applauded in the Chamber, rang like
a clarion through Italy. And no one suspected whence this ingenious
piece of rhetoric emanated!

The French alliance still rested on nothing more substantial than a
secret unwritten engagement which Napoleon could repudiate at will.
Cavour, who would have made an excellent lawyer, strove his utmost to
obtain some more solid bond, for which the marriage-visit of Prince
Napoleon offered a favourable opportunity. The connection with one of
the oldest royal houses in Europe so flattered the Emperor's vanity
that he authorised the bridegroom and General Niel, who accompanied
him, to sign a treaty in black and white, binding France to come to
the assistance of Piedmont, if that State were the object of an act
of aggression on the part of Austria. Possibly, like other people,
he thought that no such act of aggression would be made, and that he
remained free to escape from the contract if he chose. A military
convention was signed at the same time, one of the clauses of which
Cavour was fully determined to have cancelled; it stipulated that
volunteer corps were to be excluded. He signed the convention, but
fought out the point afterwards and gained it, in spite of Napoleon's
strenuous resistance. These transactions were intended to be kept
absolutely secret, and the French ministers do not seem to have known
of them, but somehow the European Courts, and Mazzini, got wind of a
treaty having been signed. Different rumours went about: the Prince
Consort was informed that Savoy was to go for Lombardy, and Nice for
Venetia; others said that Nice was to be the price of the Duchies
and Legations. There was a persistent impression that the island of
Sardinia was mentioned, which would not merit record but for the
general correctness of the other guesses. There is no reference,
however, to Sardinia, in the version of the treaty which has since
been published, and Cavour indignantly repudiated the idea of ceding
this Italian island to France, when the charge of having entertained
it was flung at him a year later. Some doubt may linger in the mind
as to whether there was not a scheme for giving the Pope Sardinia in
return for part or all his territory.

Once again Cavour repeated his demand for yet more money, and this
time it was received not, as heretofore, with reluctant submission,
but with acclamation. At last people saw what the minister was driving
at; only the few who would have disowned the name of Italian voted
with the minority. The fifty million francs were quickly subscribed,
chiefly in small sums, in Piedmont itself, a triumphant answer to the
Paris house of Rothschild, which had declined to render its help.
Cavour's speeches on the new loan were, in reality, addressed to
Europe, and no one was more skilful in this kind of oratory than he.
Without apparent elaboration, each phrase was studied to produce the
effect desired. The policy of Piedmont, he said, had never altered
since the king received his inheritance on the field of Novara. It was
never provocative or revolutionary, but it was national and Italian.
Austria was displayed as the peace-breaker, and, as she was pouring
troops into Italy and massing them near the Piedmontese frontier, it
was easy to exhibit her in that light. After having made Austria
look very guilty, Cavour proceeded to lay himself out to conciliate
England, whose policy was, at that moment, everything that he wished
it not to be; but he was determined not to quarrel. The Earl of
Malmesbury kept him informed of the "real state of Italy," of which he
was supposed to be profoundly ignorant. The Lombards no longer desired
to be united to Piedmont, and a war of liberation would be the signal
of the reawakening of all the old jealousies, while republicans,
dreamers, pretenders, seekers of revenge, power, riches, would tear up
Italy between them. In the House of Lords, Lord Derby declared that
the Austrian was the best of good governments, and only sought to
improve its Italian provinces. Cavour concealed the irritation which
he strongly felt. Lord Derby's speech, he said, did not sound so bad
in the original as in the translation, and, after all, England's
apparent change of front came from a great virtue, patriotism. She
suppressed her natural sympathies, because she believed that patriotic
reasons required her to back up Austria. He repeated to the Chamber
what he had often said in private, that the English alliance was the
one which he had always valued above all others. It was a remarkable
thing to say at a moment when he hoped so much more from France than
from England. But precisely because he hoped to obtain material
assistance from France, he was more than ever anxious to remain on
good terms with England. He finely resisted the temptation of saying,
"We can do without you." After having got the French into Italy, the
next thing to do would be to get them out of it, and he foresaw that
England would be useful then. Moreover, angry as he was in his heart,
he did not doubt that the "suppressed sympathies" would break out
again and prove irresistible. They were even breaking out already, for
the arrival of the Neapolitan prisoners caused one of those powerful
waves of feeling which, in England, always end by influencing the

Meanwhile, Lord Derby's ministry made Herculean efforts to ward off
war, in which, by force of traditions that govern all English parties,
they had the opposition entirely with them. They begged Austria to
evacuate the Papal Legations, and to leave off interfering with the
States of Central Italy. They even asked Cavour to help them, by
formulating his views on the best means of peaceably improving the
condition of Italy. Cavour answered that at the root of the matter lay
the hatred of a foreign yoke. The Austrians in Italy formed, not a
government, but a military occupation. They were not established but
encamped. Every house, from the humblest home to the most sumptuous
palace, was closed against them. In the theatres, public places,
streets, there was an absolute separation between them and the people
of the country. Things got constantly worse, not better. The Austrian
rulers in Italy once offered their subjects some compensation for
the loss of nationality in a policy which defended them from the
encroachments of the court of Rome, but the wise principles introduced
by Maria Theresa and Joseph II. had been cast to the winds. Unless
Austria completely reversed her policy, and became the promoter of
constitutional government throughout Italy, nothing could save her;
the problem would be solved by war or revolution.

It ought to have been apparent that, as far as Piedmont was concerned,
the control of the situation had passed out of the hands of the
Government. The youth of Lombardy was streaming into the country to
enlist either in the army or in the corps of "Hunters of the Alps,"
which was now formed. Cavour looked on this patriotic invasion with
delight; "They may throw me into the Po," he said, "but I will not
stop it." Had he wished, he could not have stopped the current of
popular excitement at the point it had reached. It was the knowledge
of this, joined to the threatened destruction of all his hopes, that
well-nigh overpowered him when--at the eleventh hour--in spite of
engagements and treaties, Napoleon seemed to have suddenly decided not
to go to war. Prince Bismarck once declared that he had never found it
possible to tell in advance whether his plans would succeed; he could
navigate among political events, but he could not direct them. Since
the meeting at Plombières, Cavour had undertaken to direct events,
the most perilous game at which a statesman can play. For a moment he
thought that he had failed.



On the whole it can be safely assumed that Napoleon's hark back was
real, and was not a move "pour mieux sauter." He was not pleased at
the cool reception given in Italy to a pamphlet known to have been
inspired by him, in which the old scheme was revived of a federation
of Italian States under the presidency of the Pope. The Empress was
against war--it was said "for fear of a reverse." Perhaps she thought
already what she said when flying from Paris in 1870: "En France il ne
faut pas être malheureux." But more than this fear, anxiety for the
head of the Church made her anti-Italian, and, with her, the whole
clerical party. Nor was this the limit of the opposition which the
proposed war of liberation encountered. Though France did not know of
the secret treaty, she knew enough to understand by this time where
she was being led, and with singular unanimity she protested. When
such different persons as Guizot; Lamartine, and Proudhon pronounced
against a free Italy,--when no one except the Paris workman showed
the slightest enthusiasm for the war,--it is hardly surprising if
Napoleon, seized with alarm for his dynasty, was glad of any plausible
excuse for a retreat. Such an excuse was forthcoming in the Russian
proposal of a Congress, which was warmly seconded by England. Austria
accepted the proposal subject to two conditions: the previous
disarmament of Piedmont, and its exclusion from the Congress. The
bearing of the French Ministry became almost insulting; the Emperor,
said Walewski, was not going to rush into a war to favour Sardinia's
ambition; everything would be peaceably settled by the Congress, in
which Piedmont had not the smallest right to take part. None of the
usual private hints came from the Tuileries to counteract the effect
of these words.

Cavour was plunged in blank despair. He wrote to Napoleon that they
would be driven to some desperate act, which was answered by a call to
Paris; but his interviews with the Emperor only increased his fears.
He threatened the king's abdication and his own retirement. He would
go to America and publish all his correspondence with Napoleon. He
alone was responsible for the course his country had taken, the
pledges it had given, the engagements already performed (by which he
meant the consent wrenched from the king to the Princess Clotilde's
marriage). The responsibility would be crushing if he became guilty
before God and man of the disasters which menaced his king and his

The English Government now proposed that all the Italian States should
be admitted to the Congress, and that Austria as well as Piedmont
should he invited to disarm. On April 17 Cavour sent a note agreeing
to this plan. It was a tremendous risk; but it was the only way to
prevent Piedmont from being deserted and left to its fate. If Austria
also consented, all was lost: there would be peace. Could the gods be
trusted to make her mad? Cavour's nervous organisation was strained at
a tension that nearly snapped the cord. It is believed that he was on
the brink of suicide. On April 19 he shut himself up in his room and
gave orders that no one should be admitted. On being told of this, his
faithful friend, Castelli, who was one of the few persons not afraid
of him, rushed to the Palazzo Cavour, where his worst fears were
confirmed by the old major-domo, who said, "The Count is alone in his
room; he has burnt many papers; he told us to let no one pass; but for
heaven's sake, go in and see him at whatever cost." When he went in,
Castelli saw a litter of torn-up papers; others were burning on the
hearth. He said that he knew no one was to pass and that was why he
had come. Cavour stared at him in silence. Then he went on, "Must I
believe that Count Cavour will desert the camp on the eve of battle;
that he will abandon us all?" And, unhinged by excitement and by his
great affection for the man, he burst into tears. Cavour walked round
the room looking like one distraught. Then he stopped opposite to
Castelli and embraced him, saying, "Be tranquil; we will face it all
together," Castelli went out to reassure those who had brought him
the alarming news. Neither he nor Cavour afterwards alluded to this
strange scene.

At the very moment that Cavour thought he had lost the game, he had
won it. On the same day, April 19, Count Buol,--somewhat, it is said,
against his better judgment, but yielding to the Emperor, who again
yielded to the military party,--sent off a contemptuous rejoinder to
the English proposals. Ignoring all suggestions, the Austrian Minister
said that _they would themselves call upon Piedmont to disarm_. Here,
then, was the famous _acte d'agression_. Napoleon could not escape

The fact that this happened simultaneously with Sardinia's submission
to the will of Europe was a wonderful piece of luck, which, as Massimo
d'Azeglio said, could happen only once in a century. When the Austrian
Government took the irrevocable step, it did not know yet that the
whole onus of breaking the peace would fall upon it. Nor, it must be
remembered, did it know the test of the treaty between France and
Sardinia, and in view of the French Emperor's recent conduct it may
well have become convinced that no treaty at all existed. Hence it is
probable that Austria flattered herself that she would only have to
deal with weak Sardinia.

The Chamber of Deputies was convoked on April 23 to confer plenary
powers on the king. Many deputies were so overcome that they wept.
Just as the President of the Chamber announced the vote, a scrap of
paper was handed to Cavour, on which were written the words in pencil:
"They are here; I have seen them." It was from a person whom he had
instructed to inform him instantly when the bearers of the Austrian
Ultimatum arrived. They were come; angels of light could not have been
more welcome! Cavour went hastily out, while the House broke into
deafening cries of "Long live the king!" He said to the friend who
brought the message, "I am leaving the last sitting of the last
Piedmontese Chamber." The next would represent the kingdom of Italy.

The Sardinian army to be placed on a peace-footing, the volunteers
to be dismissed, an answer of "Yes" or "No" required within three
days--these were the terms of the Ultimatum. If the answer were not
fully satisfactory His Majesty would resort to force. Cavour replied
that Piedmont had given its adhesion to the proposals made by England
with the approval of France, Prussia and Russia, and had nothing more
to say. No one who saw the statesman's radiant face would have guessed
that less than a week before he had passed through so frightful a
mental crisis. He took leave of Baron von Kellersberg with graceful
courtesy, and then, turning to those present, he said, "We have made
history; now let us go to dinner."

The French Ambassador at Vienna notified to Count Buol that his
sovereign would consider the crossing of the frontier by the Austrian
troops equivalent to a declaration of war.

Lord Malmesbury was so favourably impressed by Sardinia's docility and
so furious with the Austrian _coup de tête_ that he became in those
days quite ardently Italian, which he assured Massimo d'Azeglio was
his natural state of mind; and such it may have been, since cabinet
ministers are constantly employed in upholding, especially in foreign
affairs, what they most dislike. He hoped to stop the runaway Austrian
steed by proposing mediation in lieu of a Congress; but the result
was only to delay the outbreak of the war for a week, much to the
disadvantage of the Austrians, as it gave the French time to arrive
and the Piedmontese to flood the country by means of the canals of
irrigation, thus preventing a dash at Turin, probably the best chance
for Austria. Baron von Kellersberg and his companion, during their
brief visit, had done nothing but pity "this fine town so soon to
be given over to the horrors of war." Their solicitude proved

For the present the statesman's task was ended. He had procured for
his country a favourable opportunity for entering upon an inevitable
struggle. When Napoleon said to Cavour on landing at Genoa, "Your
plans are being realised," he was unconsciously forestalling the
verdict of posterity. The reason that he was standing there was
because Cavour had so willed it. In spite of the Emperor's fits of
Italian sympathy and the various circumstances which impelled him
towards helping Italy, he would not have taken the final resolution
had not some one saved him the trouble by taking it for him. As a
French student of history has lately said, in 1859, as in 1849,
there was a Hamlet in the case; but Paris, not Turin, was his abode.
Napoleon needed and perhaps desired to be precipitated. Look at it how
we may, it must be allowed that he was doing a very grave thing: he
was embarking on a war of no palpable necessity against the sentiment,
as the Empress wrote to Count Arese, of his own country. A stronger
man than he might have hesitated.

The natural discernment of the Italian masses enlightened them as to
the magnitude of Cavour's part in the play, even in the hour when the
interest seemed transferred to the battlefield, and when an emperor
and a king moved among them as liberators. At Milan, after the victory
of Magenta had opened its gates, the most permanent enthusiasm
gathered round the short, stout, undistinguished figure in plain
clothes and spectacles--the one decidedly prosaic appearance in the
pomp of war and the glitter of royal state. Victor Emmanuel said
good-humouredly that when driving with his great subject, he felt just
like the tenor who leads the prima donna forward to receive applause.

Success followed success, and this to the popular imagination is the
all-and-all of war. Milan was freed, though the battle of Magenta was
not unlike a drawn one; Lombardy was won, though the fight for the
heights of Solferino could hardly have resulted as it did if the
Austrians had not blundered into keeping a large part of their forces
inactive. Would the same fortune be with the allies to the end?
Cavour does not appear to have asked the question. He watched the war
with no misgivings. It was to him a supreme satisfaction that the
Sardinian army, which he had worked so hard to prepare, did Italy
credit. He took a personal pride in the romantic exploits of the
volunteers, though for political reasons he carefully concealed that
he had been the first to think of placing them in the field. He made
an indefatigable minister of war (having taken the office when La
Marmora went to the front). The work was heavy; the problem of finding
even bread enough for the allied armies was not a simple one. On one
occasion the French Commissariat asked for a hundred thousand rations
to make sure of receiving fifty thousand; the officer in charge was
surprised to see one hundred and twenty thousand punctually arrive
on the day named. Cavour's thoughts were not, however, only with the
troops in Lombardy. The whole country was in a ferment, and instead of
accelerating events the question now was to keep pace with them.

When Ferdinand II died, and a young king, the son of a princess of the
House of Savoy, ascended the throne, Cavour invited him to join in
the war with Austria. The invitation has been blamed as insincere and
unpatriotic, but the best Neapolitans seconded it. Poerio said he was
willing to go back to prison if King Francis would send his army
to help Piedmont. Faithful to his primary object of expelling the
Austrians, Cavour would have taken for an ally any one who had troops
to give. Moreover, an alliance between Naples and Sardinia meant the
final shelving of a scheme which had caused him anxiety, off and on,
for many years: that of a Muratist restoration. Though he had always
recognised that, were it accepted by the Neapolitans themselves, it
would be impossible for him to oppose it, he understood that to place
a Murat on the throne of Naples would be to move in the old vicious
circle by substituting one foreign influence for another. There is no
doubt that the idea was attractive to Napoleon. One of his first cares
after he became Emperor had been to find an accomplished Neapolitan
tutor for the young sons of Prince Murat. About the time of the Paris
Congress emissaries were actively working on behalf of the French
pretender in the kingdom of Naples. The propaganda was in abeyance
during the war, because Russia made it a condition of her neutrality
that the king of Naples should be let alone, but the simple fact that
Napoleon had undertaken to liberate Italy was a splendid advertisement
of the claims of his cousin. These considerations tended to make
Cavour hold out his hand to the young Bourbon king. There is much
evidence to show that the first impulse of Francis was to take it, but
the counter influences around him were too strong. When he refused, he
sealed his own doom, though the time for the crisis was not yet come.

In Central Italy the crisis came at once. This had been foreseen by
Cavour all along. At Plombières he made no secret of his expectation
that the defeat of the Austrians would entail the immediate union of
Parma, Modena, and Romagna, with Piedmont. Napoleon did not then seem
to object. To him Cavour did not speak of Tuscany, but he expected
that there, too, the actual government would be overthrown; what
he doubted was what would happen after. Many well-informed persons
thought that the Grand Duke, who would have maintained the
constitution of 1848 but for the threats of Austria, would seize the
first opportunity of restoring it. Fortunately Leopold II. looked
beneath the surface: he saw that an Austrian prince in Italy was
henceforth an anachronism. The indignities which he suffered when his
Italian patriotism--possibly quite sincere--caused him to be disowned
by his relations were not forgotten. He had no heart for a bold
stroke, and the exhortations of the English Government to remain
neutral were hardly needed. If he wavered, it was only for a moment;
nor did he care to place his son in the false position he declined for
himself. The Grand Duke left Florence, openly, at two o'clock on April
27, 1859, carrying with him the personal good wishes of all. The
chief boulder in the path of Italian unity was gone, but for reasons
internal and external much would have to be done before Tuscany became
the corner-stone of New Italy. The Tuscans clung to their autonomy.
Though Victor Emmanuel was invited to assume the protectorate, it was
explained that this was only meant to last during the war. The French
Emperor thought that there was an opening for a new kingdom of Etruria
with Prince Napoleon at the head. All sorts of intrigues were set
afoot by all the great powers except England to re-erect Tuscany as a
dam to stem the flood of unity midway. Cavour was determined to defeat
them. It was against his rule to discuss remote events. He once said
to a novice in public life, "If you want to be a politician, for
mercy's sake do not look more than a week ahead." Every time, however,
that there arose a present chance of making another step towards
unity, Cavour was eagerly impatient to profit by it. He now strove
with all the energy he possessed to procure the immediate annexation
of Tuscany to Piedmont. The object was good, but what he did not see
was, that the slightest appearance of wishing to "rush" Tuscany would
so offend the municipal pride and intellectual exclusiveness of the
polished Tuscans, that the seeds would be laid of a powerful and,
perhaps, fatal reaction. It was at this critical juncture that Baron
Bettino Ricasoli began his year of autocracy. His programme was:
neither fusions nor annexations, but union of the Italian peoples
under the constitutional sceptre of Victor Emmanuel. It was Tuscany's
business, he said, to make the new kingdom of Italy. He looked upon
himself as providentially appointed to carry that business into
effect. He was called Minister of the Interior, and he was, in fact,
dictator. When any one tried to overawe him, his answer was that he
had existed for twelve centuries. He had not wished for foreign help,
and he was not afraid of foreign threats. He often disagreed with
Cavour, and he was the only man who never gave in to him. When
Ricasoli took office he and the republican baker, Dolfi, who was
his invaluable auxiliary, were possibly the only two thorough-going
unionists-at-all-costs in Tuscany; when he resigned it twelve months
later there was not a partisan of autonomy left in the province. This
was the work of the "Iron Baron."

In the other three states, where the first shock to the power of
Austria overturned the Government, there were no such complicated
questions as in Tuscany. Parma and Modena returned to their allegiance
of 1848, and in Romagna those who were not in favour of an Italian
kingdom were not autonomists but republicans, who were willing to
sacrifice their own ideal to unity. The revolution in the States of
the Church was foiled at Ancona, and put down with much bloodshed at
Perugia: it is curious to speculate what would have been the result
if it had spread to the gates of Rome, as without this check it would
have done. Cavour sent L.C. Farini to Modena, and Massimo d'Azeglio to
Bologna, to take over what was called the "protectorate," and special
commissioners were also appointed at Parma and Florence, but at
Florence the real ruler was Ricasoli.

On July 5 Cavour told Kossuth that European diplomacy was very anxious
to patch up a worthless peace, but still he had no fears. He did
not guess that they were on the verge of seeing realised Mazzini's
prophecy of six months before: "You will be in the camp in some corner
of Lombardy when the peace which betrays Venice will be signed
without your knowledge." In proportion as Cavour had placed faith in
Napoleon's promises, so great was his revulsion of feeling when he
learnt that on July 6 General Fleury went to the Emperor of Austria's
headquarters at Verona with proposals for a suspension of hostilities.
The passionate nature which was generally kept under such rigorous
control that few suspected its existence for once asserted itself
unrestrained. Those around Cavour were in apprehension for his life
and his reason. In spite of all that has been said to the contrary, it
is probable that Napoleon's resolution, though not unpremeditated,
was of recent date. When he entered Milan, he seems to have really
contemplated pushing the war beyond the Mincio; there is proof,
however, that he was thinking of peace the day before the battle of
Solferino, which disposes of the semi-official story that he changed
his mind under the impression left on him by the scene of carnage
after that battle. Between the beginning and the end of June, reasons
of no sentimental kind accumulated to make him pause. Events in
Central Italy had gone farther than he looked for, and his private map
of the kingdom of Upper Italy was growing smaller every day. Why
was this? He cannot have been seized with a warm interest in the
unattractive despotism of the Duke of Modena, or the chronic anarchy
kept down by Austrian bayonets at Bologna. But it was becoming
apparent that if Modena and Romagna were joined to the new Italian
kingdom, Tuscany would come too, and this Napoleon had not expected
and did not want. He was clever enough to see that with Tuscany the
unity of Italy was made. A great political genius would have said,
So be it! Never was there worse policy than that of helping to free
Italy, and then deliberately rooting out gratitude from her heart.
Whatever Napoleon thought himself, he was alarmed by the news from
France; the Empress and the clerical party were in despair at the
revolution in the Roman States, and the country was indignant at the
prospect of an Italy strong enough to have a voice of her own in the
councils of Europe.

Besides all this, there was still graver news from Germany. Six
Prussian army corps were ready to move for the Rhine frontier. The
history of Prussian policy in 1859 has not yet been fully written out,
but the gaps in the narrative are closing up. That policy was directed
by the Prince Begent, and it gives the measure of the success which
would have attended subsequent efforts if the day had not arrived when
he surrendered himself body and soul into the hands of a greater man.
So much for the present German Emperor's theory that the men in the
councils of his grandfather only executed great things because they
did their master's will. It is true that William I. aimed at the same
end as that which Count Bismarck had already in view, and which he
was destined to achieve--the ousting of Austria from Germany, as a
preliminary to sublimer doings. But while the Prince Regent would not
fight Austria, and hoped to get rid of her by political conjuring, the
future Chancellor comprehended that the problem could only be settled
by the argument _ferro et igni_. Bismarck's policy in 1859 would have
been neutrality, with a certain leaning towards Napoleon. This advice,
given by every post from St. Petersburg to Berlin, caused him to be
accused of selling his soul to the devil, on which he dryly remarked
that, if it were so, the devil was Teutonic, not Gallic.

The Prince Regent tried to prevent the Diet from going to war,
because, in a federal war, Prussia's ruler would only figure as
general of the armies of the confederation--which meant of Austria.
His plan was to let Austria get into very bad difficulties, and then
come forward singly to save her. By means of this "armed mediation" he
would be able afterwards to dictate what terms he chose to the much
indebted Austrian Emperor. It looked well on paper, but the armistice
of Villafranca spoilt everything. The Emperor Francis Joseph did not
wish to be "saved." This, and only this, can explain his readiness to
make peace when, from a military point of view, his situation was far
from desperate. No one knew this better than Napoleon. Before the
allied armies lay the mouse-trap of the Quadrilateral, so much easier
to get into than to get out of. The limelight of victory could
not hide from those who knew the facts the complete deficiency of
organisation and discipline which the war had revealed in the French
army. According to Prince Napoleon, the men considered their head
and their generals incapable, and had lost all confidence in them.
Nevertheless they fought well; no troops ever fought better than the
French when storming the heights of Solferino, but on the very day
after that battle, when the Austrians were miles away in full retreat,
an extraordinary, though little known, incident occurred. On a report
spreading from the French outposts that the enemy was upon them, there
was an universal _sauve qui peut_--officers, men, sick and sound,
gendarmes, infantry, cavalry, artillery trains--in one word, every one
made off. What would be the effect of a single defeat on such an army?

It must always appear strange that none of these things struck Cavour.
He only saw the immense, immeasurable disappointment. When he rushed
to the king's headquarters near Desenzano, it was to advise him to
refuse Lombardy and abdicate, or to continue the war by himself.
Cavour had never loved the king, or done justice to his statesmanlike
qualities; a bitter scene took place between them, which Victor
Emmanuel closed abruptly. Afterwards he met Prince Napoleon, who
replied to his reproaches, "_Mais enfin_, do you want us to sacrifice
France and our dynasty to you?"

At that juncture it was the king, not the minister, to whom the task
of pilot fell. Cut to the heart as he was, he kept his temper. He
signed the preliminaries "pour ce qui me concerne," and, as on
the morrow of Novara, he prepared to wait. The terms on which the
armistice was granted seemed like a nightmare: Venice abandoned;
Tuscany, Romagna, Modena, to be handed back to their former masters;
the Pope to be made honorary president of a confederation in which
Austria was to have a place. Cavour stood before Italy responsible for
the war, and when he said to M. Pietri in the presence of Kossuth,
"Your Emperor has dishonoured me--yes, dishonoured!" he meant the
words in their most literal sense. But the white heat of his passion
burnt out the dishonour, and Cavour, foiled and furious, was the most
popular man in the country. His grief was so genuine that even his
enemies could not call its sincerity in question. In three days he
appeared to have grown ten years older. His first thought was to go
and get killed at Bologna, if, as was expected, there was fighting
there. Then, as always happened with him, he was calmed by the idea of
action: "I will take Solaro de la Margherita by one hand and Mazzini
by the other; I will become a conspirator, a revolutionist, but this
treaty shall not be carried out." When he said this, he had resigned
office; he was simply a private citizen, but all the consciousness of
his power had returned to him. Some delay occurred in forming a new
ministry. Count Arese was first called, but his position as a personal
friend of the Emperor disqualified him for the task. Rattazzi
succeeded better, but during the interregnum of eight or nine days
Cavour was obliged to carry on the Government, and it thus devolved on
him to communicate the official order to the Special Commissioners to
abandon their posts. He accompanied the order by a private telegram
telling them to stay where they were, and work with all their might
for an Italian solution. Farini telegraphed from Modena that if the
Duke, "trusting to conventions of which he knew nothing," were to
attempt to return, he should treat him as an enemy to the king and
country. Cavour's answer ran: "The minister is dead; the friend
applauds your decision." Aurelio Saffi well said that "in these
supreme moments you would have called Cavour a follower of Mazzini."
The world often thinks that a man is changed when he is revealing what
he really is for the first time. It suited Cavour's purpose to appear
cool and calculating, but patriotism was as much a passion with him as
with any of the great men who worked for Italian emancipation.



The dissolution of Parliament by Lord Derby in June led to the return
of a Liberal majority and the resumption of power by men who were open
advocates of Italian unity. Kossuth believed to his last day that this
result was due to him, an opinion which English readers are not likely
to share. The gain for Italy was inestimable. The Whigs had supported
Lord Malmesbury in his unprofitable efforts as a peacemaker; but when
the war broke out they had no further reason to restrain their natural
sympathies. Lord Palmerston especially wished the new kingdom to
be strong enough to be independent of French influences. Had the
Conservatives remained in office there is no doubt that they would
have supported the plan to constitute Venetia a separate state under
the Archduke Maximilian, which was regarded with much favour by that
Prince's father-in-law, King Leopold, and hence by the Prince Consort.
The Liberal Ministry would have nothing to do with it. Napoleon hoped,
in the first instance, to shift the onus of stopping the war from
himself to the English Government. He wished the programme of
Villafranca to emanate from England; but, as Lord Palmerston wrote to
Lord John Russell, why should they incur the opprobrium of leaving
Italy laden with Austrian chains and of having betrayed the Italians
at the moment of their brightest hopes? In the same letter (July 6),
he pointed out that if a single Austrian ruler remained in Italy,
whatever was the form of his administration, the excuse and even the
fatal necessity of Austrian interference would remain or return. They
were asked to parcel out the peoples of Italy as if they belonged
to them! The Earl of Malmesbury once remarked that "on any question
affecting Italy Lord Palmerston had no scruples." Had the Conservative
statesman continued in office six months longer, in spite of his
wish to see Italy happy, the "scruples" of which he spoke would have
probably induced him to try and force her back under the Austrian
yoke. Whether Cavour's life-work was to succeed or fail depended
henceforth largely on England. "Now it is England's turn," he said
frequently to his relations in Switzerland, where he went to recover
his health and spirits. Soon all traces of depression disappeared.
While Europe thought that it had assisted at his political funeral, he
was engaged not in thinking how things might be remedied, but how he
was going to remedy them. It was not the king, Piedmont, Italy, that
would prevent the treaty from being carried out; it was "I." The road
was cut; he would take another. He would occupy himself with Naples.
People might call him a revolutionist or what they pleased, but they
must go on, and they would go on.

There exists proof that after Villafranca, Cavour expected Napoleon to
demand Savoy and Nice, or at least Savoy, notwithstanding that Venetia
was not freed. The Emperor considered it necessary, however, to go
through the form of renouncing the two provinces. He is reported
to have said to Victor Emmanuel before leaving for Paris, "Your
government will pay me the cost of the war, and we shall think no more
about Nice and Savoy. Now we shall see what the Italians can do by
themselves." Walewski confirmed this by stating that the simple
annexation of Lombardy was not a sufficient motive "for demanding a
sacrifice on the part of our ally in the interest of the safety of our
frontiers," and in August he formally repeated to Rattazzi that they
did not dream of annexing Savoy. Sincere or not, these disclaimers
released Victor Emmanuel from the secret bond into which Cavour had
persuaded him to enter. The contract was recognised as null. Rattazzi
was notoriously opposed to any cession of territory, and had he known
how to play his game it is at least open to argument that the House of
Savoy might have been spared losing its birthright as the Houses
of Orange and Lorraine had lost theirs. But his weak policy landed
Italian affairs in a chaos which made Napoleon once more master of the

The populations of Central Italy desired Victor Emmanuel for their
king--Was he to accept or refuse? Rattazzi tried to steer between
acceptance and refusal. A great many people thought then that
acceptance outright would have brought the armed intervention of
France or of Austria, or of both combined. The sagacious historian
ought not lightly to set aside the current conviction of
contemporaries. Those who come after are much better informed as
to data, but they fail to catch the atmospheric tendency, the
beginning-to-drift, of which witnesses are sensible. The scare was
universal. The British Government sent a formal note to France and
Austria stating that the employment of Austrian or French forces to
repress the clearly expressed will of the people of Central Italy
"would not be justifiable towards the government of the Queen." Lord
Palmerston made the remark that the French formula of "Italy given to
herself" had been transformed into "Italy sold to Austria." He grew
every day more distrustful of Napoleon, and more regretful that the
only man whom he believed able to cope with him was out of office.

"They talk a great deal in Paris of Cavour's intrigues," he wrote to
Lord Cowley. "This seems to me unjust. If they mean that he has worked
for the aggrandisement and for the emancipation of Italy from foreign
yoke and Austrian domination, this is true, and he will be called a
patriot in history. The means he has employed may be good or bad. I do
not know what they have been; but the object in view is, I am sure,
the good of Italy. The people of the Duchies have as much right to
change their sovereigns as the English people, or the French, or the
Belgian, or the Swedish. The annexation of the Duchies to Piedmont
will be an unfathomable good for Italy at the same time as for France
and for Europe. I hope Walewski will not urge the Emperor to make the
slavery of Italy the _dénoûment_ of a drama which had for its first
scene the declaration that Italy should be free from Alps to Adriatic.
If the Italians are left to themselves all will go well; and when
they say that if the French garrison were recalled from Rome all the
priests would be assassinated, one can cite the case of Bologna,
where the priests have not been molested and where perfect order is
maintained." However much Austria might dislike the turn which events
had taken in the Centre, it was generally admitted that she would not
or could not intervene, even single-handed, without the tacit consent
of France, which had still five divisions in Lombardy. The issue,
therefore, hung on France. There is no doubt that Napoleon told all
the Italians, or presumably Italian sympathisers who came near him,
that he "would not allow" the union of Tuscany with Piedmont. He said
to Lord Cowley, "The annexation of Tuscany is a real impossibility."
He told the Marquis Pepoli that if the annexations crossed the
Apennines, unity would be achieved; and he did not want unity: he
wanted only independence. Walewski echoed these sentiments, and in his
case it is certain that he meant what he said. But did Napoleon mean
what he said? Evidence has come to light that all this time he was
speaking in an entirely different key whenever his visitor was a
reactionist or a clerical. To these he invariably said that he was
obliged to let events take their course, though contrary to his
interests; because, having given the blood of his soldiers for Italian
independence, he could not fire a shot against it. To M. de Falloux he
said that he had always been bound to the cause of Italy, and it was
impossible for him to turn his guns against her. What becomes, then,
of his threats? Might not an Italian minister, relying on the support
of England, have ignored them and passed on his way?

Though Rattazzi's timidity prevented Victor Emmanuel from accepting
the preferred crowns, the king declared on his own account that if
these people who trusted in him were attached, he would break his
sword and go into exile rather than leave them to their fate. He
wrote to Napoleon that misfortune might turn to fortune, but that the
apostasies of princes were irreparable. The Peace of Zurich, signed on
November 10, did nothing to relax the strain. It merely referred the
settlement of Italy to the usual Napoleonic panacea--a Congress not
intended to meet. A Congress would have done nothing for Italy, but
neither would it have given Napoleon Savoy and Nice. But the proposal
had one important result: it brought Cavour back on the scene. A duel
was going on between him and Rattazzi. He was accused, perhaps truly,
of moving heaven and earth to upset the ministry, while Rattazzi's
friends were spreading abroad every form of abuse and calumny to keep
him out of office. When the Congress was announced, the popular demand
for the appointment of Cavour as Sardinian plenipotentiary was too
strong to be resisted. Rattazzi yielded, and the king, though still
remembering with bitter feelings the scene at Villafranca, sacrificed
his pride to his patriotism. Cavour did not like the idea of serving
under Rattazzi, but he agreed to accept the post in order to prevent
an antagonism which would have proved fatal to Italy. Napoleon
astutely uttered no word of protest.

The Congress hung fire, and Cavour remained at Leri occupied with his
cows and his fields, but secretly chafing at the sight of Italy in a
perilous crisis abandoned to men whom he believed incapable. From the
moment that he had been called back to the public service, his own
return to the premiership could only be a question of time, and he
wished that time to be short. The fall of the ministry was inevitable,
for it was unpopular on all sides, but no one had foreseen how it
would fall. La Marmora, who was the nominal president of the Council
(Rattazzi having taken his old post of Home Minister), somehow
discovered that a draft of Cavour's letter of acceptance of the
appointment of plenipotentiary existed in Sir James Hudson's
handwriting. Though it was true that the British Government was most
anxious that Cavour should figure in the Congress, if there was one,
the fact that Sir James Hudson had written down a copy of the letter
as it was composed was only an accident which happened through the
intimate relations between them. La Marmora saw it in a different
light, and angrily declaring that he would not put up with foreign
pressure, he sent in his resignation, which was accepted. Thus
in January 1860 Cavour became once more the helmsman of Italian
destinies. The new ministry consisted principally of himself, as he
held the home and foreign offices, as well as the presidency of the

He was resolved to put an end to the block at all costs, except the
reconsignment of populations already free to Austria or Austrians.
"Let the people of Central Italy declare themselves what they want,
and we will stand by their decisions come what may." This was the rule
which he proposed to follow, and which he would have followed even
if war had been the consequence. Personally he would have accepted a
provisional union of the Central States, such as Farini advocated;
but Ricasoli discerned in any temporary division a danger to Italian
unity, and induced or rather forced Cavour to renounce the idea. He
called Ricasoli an "obstinate mule," but he had the rare gift of
seeing that the strong man who opposed him in details was to be
preferred to a weak man who was only a puppet.

The substitution of Walewski by Thouvenel at the French Foreign
Office, and the Emperor's letter to the Pope advising him to give up
the revolted Legations of his own accord, raised many hopes, but those
who took these to be the signs of a decided change of policy were
mistaken. Napoleon would not yield about Tuscany, and it grew plainer
every day that the reason why he held out was in order to sell his
consent. M. Thouvenel has distinctly stated that at this period the
English ministry were informed of the Emperor's intention to claim
Savoy and Nice if Piedmont annexed any more territory. Even before he
resumed office, Cavour was convinced that the only way to a settlement
was to strike a direct bargain with Napoleon. He viewed the
contemplated sacrifice not with less but with more repulsion than he
had viewed it at Plombières. The constant harassing of the last six
months, which provoked him to say that never would he be again an
accessory to bringing a French army into Italy, left an ineffaceable
impression on his mind. The cession of the two provinces seemed to him
now much less like obliging a friend than satisfying a highwayman. But
he was convinced that it was an act of necessity.

As the "might-have-beens" of history can never be determined, it will
never be possible to decide with certainty whether Cavour's conviction
was right or wrong. Half a year of temporising had prejudiced the
position of affairs; it was more difficult to defy Napoleon now
than when he broke off the war without fulfilling his promises. A
clear-sighted diplomatist, Count Vitzthum, has given it as his opinion
that if Cavour had divulged the Secret Treaty of January 1859, by
which Savoy and Nice were promised in return for the French alliance,
Napoleon would have been so deeply embarrassed that he would have
relinquished his claims at once. But such a course would have mortally
offended France as well as the Emperor. Cavour did not share the
illusion of the Italian democracy that the "great heart" of the French
nation was with them. He once said that, if France became a republic,
Italy would gain nothing by it--quite the contrary. With so many
questions still open, and, above all, the difficult problem of Rome,
he feared to turn the smothered animosity of the French people into
violent and declared antagonism.

The king offered no fresh opposition; he said sadly that, as the child
was gone, the cradle might go too. When the exchange of Savoy for a
French alliance was proposed to Charles Albert he wrathfully rejected
the idea; and if Victor Emmanuel yielded, it was not that he loved
Savoy less but Italy more. It has to be noticed, however, that, though
always loyal to their king, the Savoyards had for ten years shown an
implacable hostility to Italian aspirations. The case against the
cession of Nice was far stronger. General Fanti, the minister of war,
threatened to resign, so essential did he hold Nice to the defence of
the future kingdom of Italy. The British Government also insisted on
its military importance. Nice was a thoroughly Italian town in race
and feeling, as no one knew better than Cavour, though he was forced
to deny it. According to an account published in the _Life of the
Prince Consort_, and seemingly derived from Sir James Hudson, it would
appear that he was still hoping to save Nice, when Count Benedetti
arrived from Paris with the announcement that, if the Secret Treaty
were not signed in its entirety, the Emperor would withdraw his troops
from Lonabardy. Cavour is said to have answered, "The sooner they
go the better"--on which Benedetti took from his pocket a letter
containing the Emperor's private instructions, and proceeded to say,
"Well, I have orders to withdraw the troops, but not to France; they
will occupy Bologna and Florence."[1]

[Footnote 1: In 1896 Count Benedetti contributed two articles to the
_Revue des deux mondes_ on "Cavour and Bismarck." His only mention of
the affair of Savoy and Nice is the casuistical remark that "Cavour
kept the _engagement concluded at Plombières_" (sic).]

On March 24, depressed and bowed, Cavour walked up and down the room
where the French negotiators sat. At last, taking up the pen, he
signed the Secret Treaty. Then suddenly he seemed to recover his
spirits, as, turning to M. de Talleyrand, he said, "Maintenant nous
sommes complices, n'est ce pas vrai?"

The secrecy was none of his seeking; he had tried hard to induce
Napoleon to let the treaty be submitted to Parliament before it was
signed, as constitutional usage demanded, but the Emperor was resolved
that the Chambers and Europe should know of it only when it was an
accomplished fact. He had good reason for the precaution. He knew that
there would be an outburst of indignation in England, though he little
imagined the after consequences of this to himself. His one idea just
then was to make sure of his bargain, not because he cared to enlarge
his frontiers, for he was not constitutionally ambitious, but because
he hoped, by doing so, to win the gratitude of France. It is useful as
a lesson to note that he won nothing of the kind. Nor did Cavour win
the goodwill of the French masses as he had hoped. France might have
been angry had she not received the two provinces, but she showed real
or affected ignorance of their value. For many years the French papers
described the county of Nice as a poor, miserable strip of shore, and
the duchy of Savoy as a few bare rocks. French people then travelled
so little that they may have thought it was true.

As Napoleon was bent on deceiving, Cavour was obliged to deceive too.
Sir Robert Peel's denial of the intention of Government to repeal the
Corn Laws has been defended on the ground that the _Cabinet_ had not
taken a definite resolution; if such a defence is of profit, Cavour is
entitled to the benefit of it. At any rate he had no choice. Whether
or not they had been previously warned, the English Ministry, and
especially the Foreign Secretary, now believed the professions of
innocence. The Earl of Malmesbury records a suspicion that as far back
as January 1859 Napoleon secured some sort of written promise from
Lord Palmerston that he would not make difficulties about Nice and
Savoy. Such an assurance amounts, of course, to saying, "Go and take
it," as in the more recent case of Tunis. The story is not impossible;
like Cavour, Lord Palmerston desired so much to see Italy freed that
he would have given up a good deal to arrive at the goal. The country
resented the deception, as it had every right to do, and the Queen
expressed the general feeling when she wrote to Lord John Russell, "We
have been made regular dupes." For a moment there seemed a risk of
war, but Lord Palmerston never had the slightest intention of going to
war, whatever were the inclinations of his colleague at the Foreign
Office. Lord John Russell took his revenge on Napoleon when the
Emperor wished to proceed to joint action with England on the Danish
question; by refusing this proposal he deprived him of the one and
only chance of stemming Prussian ambition.

Cavour did not extenuate the gravity of the responsibility which he
accepted when he advised the king to sign away national territory
without the sanction of Parliament. He said that it was a highly
unconstitutional act, which exposed him, were the Chamber of Deputies
to disown it, to an indictment for high treason. He counted on losing
all his popularity in Piedmont--how could he not expect to lose it
when his best hopes for getting the treaty approved rested on the
assumption that the new voters from the enfranchised parts of Italy
would drown the opposition of his own State to its dismemberment? It
has often been asked, Why did he not allow the cession to wear the
honest colour of surrender to force? Why, "against his conviction," as
he confessed in private, did he declare that Nice was not Italian? Why
go through the farce of plebiscites so "arranged" that the result was
a foregone conclusion? The answer, satisfactory or not, is easily
found: Nice was stated to be not Italian to leave intact the theory
of nationality for future use; the plebiscites were resorted to that
Napoleon might be obliged to recognise the same method of settling
questions elsewhere.

The parliament which represented Piedmont, Lombardy, Parma, Modena,
and Romagna, met on April 2, 1860. The frontier lines of six states
were effaced. The man who had so largely contributed to this great
result stood there to defend his honour, almost his life. Guerrazzi
compared him to the Earl of Clarendon--"hard towards the king,
truculent to Parliament, who thought in his pride that he could do
everything." Cavour retorted: perhaps if Clarendon had been able to
show in defence of his conduct many million Englishmen delivered from
foreign yoke, several counties added to his master's possessions,
Parliament would not have been so pitiless, or Charles II. so
ungrateful to the most faithful of his servants. The deputy Guerrazzi,
he continued, had read him a lesson in history; it should have been
given entire. And he then drew a picture, splendid in its scathing
irony, of the unscrupulous alliance of men without principle, of
all shades of opinion, only united in self-interest, demagogues,
courtiers, reactionists, papists, puritans, without traditions,
without ideas, at one in impudent egotism, and in nothing else, who
formed the cabal which ruined Clarendon. Every one understood that he
was painting his own enemies inside the Chamber and out.

In spite of protests and regrets, the treaty was sanctioned by a
larger majority than had been reckoned on. When it came to the point,
not a large number of voters was ready to take the tremendous leap in
the dark which, among other consequences, must have condemned Cavour,
if not to the fate of Stafford, at least to obscurity for the rest of
his life. But the ministry came out of the contest, to use Cavour's
own words, extraordinarily weakened. "On me and on my colleagues," he
had said, "he all the obloquy of the act!" He was to regain his power,
and even his popularity, but time itself cannot wholly obliterate
the spot upon his name. He knew it well himself. A writer in the
_Quarterly Review_, soon after his death, related that latterly people
avoided alluding to Savoy and Nice before him; the subject caused him
such evident pain. The same writer makes a very interesting statement
which, although there is no other authority for it, must be assumed to
rest on accurate information: he says that Cavour hoped, to the last,
some day to get the two provinces back.[1]

[Footnote 1: Mr. John Murray has courteously informed me that the
writer of the article was the late Sir A.H. Layard.]



In March 1860 Cavour did not foresee what would be the next step--he
only felt that it would not be long delayed. Italy, he told the
Chamber, was not sound or safe; Italy had still great wounds in her
body. "Look beyond the Mincio, look beyond Tuscany, and say if Italy
is out of danger!" He interpreted the transaction with Napoleon in
the sense that, whatever happened henceforward, he was to have a free
hand. Napoleon seemed to think, at the first, that the cession of Nice
and Savoy showed a yielding mood; he was mistaken; it shut the door on
yielding. Cavour found all sorts of excuses for protracting the date
of the official handing over of those provinces, and this helped
him in his dealings with the Emperor, whom he compelled to shelve a
particularly obnoxious project of introducing Neapolitan troops into
the Roman States. Napoleon was induced to promise to withdraw the
French in July without calling in others, on condition, however, that
all remained quiet. All was not going to remain quiet.

There were no illusions on this point at the Vatican, where no one
believed that the _status quo_ would last. It seemed to many of the
Pope's advisers that, instead of waiting for the blow, it were better
to strike one, and declare a holy war for thrones and altars. Cardinal
Antonelli, in concert with the dominant party at Naples (which
was that of the king's Austrian stepmother), evolved a scheme for
recovering Romagna, in which it was hoped that Austria would join,
Austrian aid being at all times far more desired than French. But the
more ardent spirits were not averse from action even without Austria.
The Orleanist general Lamoricière was invited to Rome, and a call was
issued which brought an influx of Irish and French volunteers. The
French Emperor let Lamoricière go, as he was glad to get him out of
the way. The Duke de Persigny told his master that the gallant general
would make trouble for him in Italy, and, as Napoleon turned a deaf
ear, he suggested that Lamoricière should be ordered to garrison Rome
while the French regular troops were sent to protect the frontier.
This simple arrangement would have commended itself to any one who was
in earnest in wishing to preserve the integrity of what remained of
the Papal States; Napoleon seemed to assent, but he allowed the matter
to drop.

It began to be clear that the Neapolitan Government would soon have
too much on its hands at home for it to indulge in crusades. But the
crisis was not hastened by Cavour, and he was one of the last to
believe it imminent. Towards the end of March he learnt with surprise
from Sir James Hudson that the reason the British Fleet had been sent
to Naples was that a catastrophe was expected. He then asked the
Sardinian Minister at the Neapolitan Court whether a Muratist
restoration was still possible, and what chances there were at Naples
for Italian unity? The Marquis Villamarina replied that the French,
who once had many partisans, had lost most of them. As to unity he
held out few hopes; it was popular in Sicily but not on the mainland,
where the king had a strong following. If the Marquis had said
"large" for "strong" his assertion would have been accurate. The
misgovernment, which Lord John Russell had lately described as almost
without a parallel in Europe, was not of a nature to be wholly
unpopular; it was national after a fashion; bribery and espionage and
the persecution of the best citizens may leave the masses content,
and, in fact, at least in the capital, the _basso popolo_ was
royalist, as was the scarcely less ignorant nobility. The bulk of the
clergy and the army was also loyal. All this support made the Bourbon
_régime_ look not insecure to those on the spot, who failed to
understand the complete rottenness of its foundations.

When a revolutionary movement broke out in Sicily, Cavour thought of
sending secretly a Piedmontese officer, who fought in the Sicilian
insurrection of 1848, to assume the direction, but he did not do
so, perhaps because he had very little faith in the success of the
attempt. Save for the undoubted fact that Sicily was already separated
in spirit not only from the Bourbon crown but from any rule which had
its seat at Naples, the insurrection did not begin under promising
circumstances. There were no signs of a concerted rising on a large
scale, such as had overthrown the Government in 1848, and the
authorities disposed of overwhelming means, if they knew how to use
them, of crushing a few guerrilla bands. Cavour was slow to believe
the catastrophe at hand, but he thought that the time was come to send
the King of Naples a warning, which was practically an ultimatum. On
April 15 Victor Emmanuel addressed a letter to Francis II, in which
he told his cousin that there was possibly still time to save his
dynasty, but that time was short. Two things must be done--the first
was to restore the Constitution (this even Russia was advising), the
second, that the kings of Sardinia and Naples should divide Italy
between them, drive out the last Austrian, and constrain the Pope, in
whatever strip of territory was left to him, to govern on the same
liberal basis as themselves. If these things were not done, and at
once, Francis would have the fate of his relative Charles X, and the
King of Sardinia might be forced to become the chief instrument of
his ruin. It cannot be said that the warning was not sufficiently

As the insurrection dragged on, the idea gained ground in North Italy
of sending out reinforcements to the hard pressed insurgents. Landings
on the southern coast had an unfortunate history from that of Murat
downwards, but those who play at desperate hazards cannot be ruled
by past experience. Cavour seems to have lent some material aid to a
Sicilian named La Masa, who was preparing to take a handful of men
to his native island, but it is not true that he either desired or
abetted the expedition of Garibaldi. A Garibaldian venture could not
be kept quiet, it would raise complications with the Powers, and,
besides, what if it failed and cost Garibaldi his life? Some people
have supposed that Cavour sent Garibaldi to Sicily to get rid of him
at an awkward moment, for the General was planning a revolutionary
stroke at Nice to resist the annexation. Though this theory sounds
plausible, documentary evidence is all against it. Cavour had an
interview with the Garibaldian general, Sirtori, to whom he expressed
the conviction that if they went they would be all taken. Why, it may
be asked, did he not stop the whole affair by placing Garibaldi under
lock and key? It seems certain that only the king's absolute refusal
prevented this effectual measure from being resorted to. The king,
accompanied by Cavour, was paying a first visit to Tuscany; there were
rumours of stormy scenes between them on the subject of the arrest,
and Victor Emmanuel had his way. Whatever was their disagreement, it
ceased when the die was cast. It was one of Cavour's chief merits that
he instantly grasped a new situation. To let the expedition go and
then place obstacles in its way would have been an irreparable
mistake. Admiral Persano inquired whether he was to stop the steamers
carrying the Thousand to Sicily, should stress of weather drive them
into a Sardinian port? The answer by telegraph ran, "The Ministry
decides for the arrest." Persano rightly judged this to mean
that Cavour decided against it, and he telegraphed back, "I have

Garibaldi sailed from Quarto late on May 5. Not Cavour himself had
thought worse of the plan than he when it was first proposed to him,
but, with the decision to go, doubt vanished. "At last," he wrote, "I
shall be back in my element--action placed at the service of a great
idea." No one seems to have pointed out the extraordinary boldness
of choosing a fortified town of 18,000 inhabitants as the place of
landing. The leaders of similar expeditions have always selected some
quiet spot where they could land undisturbed, and the coast of Sicily
presents many such spots. If Garibaldi had done the same he would have
failed, for the success of the Thousand was a success of _prestige_.
Italian patriots at home had some uneasy days. Victor Emmanuel, as he
afterwards admitted, was in "a terrible fright"; Cavour went about
silent and gloomy. A week passed, and no news came. On May 13, at
eleven o'clock at night, a passer-by in the Via Carlo Alberto, not far
from the Palazzo Cavour, heard some one gaily whistling the air

  "Di quella pira ..."

Of a sudden the individual, who was walking very quickly, vigorously
rubbed his hands. The trait revealed the man--it was Cavour; he
had just heard that Garibaldi, eluding the Neapolitan fleet, had
disembarked with all his men at Marsala. Things were entering a new
and critical phase, and it was not difficult to foretell that, while
the hero would have all the laurels, the statesman would have all the
thorns. This was a small matter to Cavour: they were again on the high
seas, he said cheerfully, but what was the good of thinking of peace
and quiet till Italy was made?

The Sardinian Government adopted the policy of assisting the
expedition now as far as they could without being compromised with the
Powers of Europe--but no farther. This _via media_ had the merit of
succeeding; it was, however, severely criticised by friends and foes
at the time. On May 24 Prince Napoleon said in the presence of Marshal
MacMahon, Prosper Mérimée, N.W. Senior, and others, that Cavour had
done too much or too little; he should have kept Garibaldi back, or
given him 5000 men; he had thrown on himself and on "my father-in-law"
all the discredit of favouring the enterprise, and he would have been
no more blamed and hated if he had given it real support. On
higher grounds Massimo d'Azeglio was horrified at the lack of
straightforwardness in mining the Bourbon edifice from below instead
of declaring war. "Garibaldi has no minister at Naples, and he has
gone to risk his skin, and long life to him, but we!!" Taking this
view, the immaculate Massimo, as governor of Milan, impounded a number
of rifles intended for the Thousand, and so nearly wrecked the
affair. The King of Naples naturally applied the same criticism. "Don
Peppino," he said, "had clean hands, but he was only a blind, behind
which was ranged Piedmont with the Western Powers, which had vowed the
end of his dynasty." Whether international law was violated or not,
there was no real deception, if the essence of deception is to
deceive, for the Neapolitan Government saw Cavour's hand everywhere,
even where it was not.

Cavour was deterred from declaring war by the fear of foreign
intervention. England was the only Power which applauded the drama
enacting in Sicily. The cover afforded by English ships to the landing
of Garibaldi was no doubt a happy accident, but, as Signor Crispi
often repeats to this day, the landing could hardly have taken place
without it. "C'est infâme et de la part des Anglais aussi," the
Czar wrote on the telegram which announced the safe arrival of the
"brigands" at Marsala. Cavour was afraid lest Russian sympathy with
the court of Naples should take a more inconvenient form than angry
words. Russia, however, remained quiescent, though "geography" was
stated to be the only reason. Prussia also discovered that Naples
was some way off. Yet there was nothing which the Prince Regent so
disliked as to see kings overthrown, until he began to do it himself.
But the two Northern Powers (and this was the meaning of the talk
about geography) did not want to act without Austria. The Austrian
Queen Dowager did all she could to obtain help to save the crown,
which she expected would pass from the weakly Francis to her own
son, but public opinion in Austria had long been irritated by the
supineness and corruption of the Neapolitan _régime_, and though the
Government protested, it did not go to the rescue. It is a question
whether it would not have been forced to go, if, at the outset, Cavour
had declared war. France joined in the protests of the other Powers,
and Cavour's enemies spread a monstrous rumour that he was going to
give up Genoa to win Napoleon's complaisance. In reply to an anxious
inquiry from the British Government, he declared that under no
circumstances would he yield another foot of ground.

When Garibaldi visited Admiral Persano's flag-ship at Palermo, he was
received with a salute of nineteen guns, which practically recognised
his position as dictator, and Medici's contingent of 3000 men was
equipped and armed by Cavour; all secrecy as to the relations between
the minister and the Sicilian revolution was, therefore, at an end.
He wished that Sicily should be annexed at once. Though Garibaldi had
performed every act since he landed in Sicily in Victor Emmanuel's
name, Cavour was more and more afraid of the republicans in his camp.
He exaggerated their influence over their leader, who, in vital
matters, was not easy to move, and he did not believe that, in
accordance with Mazzini's instructions, they were working for unity
regardless of the form of government which might follow. Victor
Emmanuel could sound the depths of Mazzini's patriotism; Cavour never
could. The two men were made to misunderstand each other. There are
differences too fundamental for even imagination to bridge over. Had
they lived till now, when both are raised on pedestals in the Italian
House of Fame, from which time shall not remove them, Mazzini would
still have been for Cavour, and Cavour for Mazzini, the evil genius of
his country.

The nightmare of Red Republicanism taking the bit between its teeth
and bolting was not the only terror that disturbed Cavour's rest. He
shuddered at the establishment of a dictatorial democracy which placed
unlimited power in the hands of men of no experience, with only the
lantern of advanced Liberalism to guide them. He, who had tried to
make the Italian cause look respectable, as well as meritorious, asked
himself what these improvised statesmen would do next? The Garibaldian
dictatorship has not lacked defenders, and two of its administrators
lived to be prime ministers of Italy, but it was inevitable that
Cavour should judge it as he did.

A dualism began between Palermo and Turin, which would not have
reached the point that it did reach, if La Farina, who was
commissioned by Cavour to promote annexation, had not launched into
a furious personal warfare with his fellow-Sicilian Crispi, a far
stronger combatant than he. Garibaldi ended by putting La Farina on
board a Sardinian man-of-war, and begging the admiral to convey him
home. The dictator bombarded the king's Government with advice, to
which Cavour alludes without irritation: "He writes and rewrites,
and telegraphs night and day, urging us with counsels, warnings,
reproaches--I might almost say menaces." Garibaldi, he goes on to say,
has a generous character, poetic instincts, but his is an untamed
nature, on which certain impressions leave ineffaceable traces; he
feels the cession of Nice as a personal injury, and he will never
forgive it. The king has a certain influence over him, but it would be
madness to seek to employ it in favour of the Ministry; he would lose
it, which would be a great misfortune. How few ministers who, like
Cavour, were accustomed to be all-powerful, would have met unrelenting
opposition in this spirit!

The influence of the king was sought by Napoleon to induce Garibaldi
to stop short at Messina, but he can hardly have been surprised when
the General showed no disposition to serve his sovereign so ill as to
obey him. He then proposed that the French and British admirals should
be instructed to inform Garibaldi that they had orders to prevent him
from crossing the straits. Lord John Russell replied that, in the
opinion of Government, the Neapolitans should be left to receive or
repel Garibaldi as they pleased; nevertheless, if France interfered
alone, they would limit themselves to disapproving and protesting. But
Napoleon did not wish to interfere alone; the effect would be to make
British influence paramount in Italy, and possibly even to cause
Sicily to crave a British protectorate. In great haste he assured the
Foreign Secretary that his chief desire was to act about Southern
Italy in whatever way was approved by England. Italy was saved from a
great peril in 1860, firstly, by English goodwill, and, secondly, by
the absence of any real agreement between the Continental Powers. Had
there been a concert of Europe, the passage of Garibaldi to Calabria
would have been barred.

By this time no one was more determined than Cavour himself that not
a palm of ground should be left to the Bourbon dynasty, but he still
thought it necessary to save appearances. Thus he met the too late
advances of the Neapolitan Government, not by a refusal to treat, but
by proposing a condition with which Francis, as an obedient son of
the Church, could not comply: the formal recognition of the union of
Romagna with Piedmont. Strict moralists, like Lanza, would have
wished him to send the ambassadors of the King of Naples about their
business, and to declare war on any pretext, and so escape from
"a hybrid and perilous game." Cavour looked upon the Neapolitan
Government as doomed, and that by its own fault, its own obstinacy,
its own rejection of the plank of safety, which, almost at the risk
of doing a wrong to Italy, he had advised his king to offer it three
months before. He felt no scruples in accelerating its fall. The means
he took may not have been the best means, but he thought them good
enough in dealing with a system which was a by-word for bad faith and
corruption. He wished that the end might come before Garibaldi crossed
the straits, or, at least, when he was still far from Naples. Thus a
repetition of the Sicilian dictatorship would be impossible. To what
measures he resorted is not known with any accuracy; he was carrying
on a policy without the knowledge of the king or the cabinet, and no
trustworthy account exists of it. What is known is that Cavour, as a
conspirator, failed.

Till the Captain of the Thousand appeared, the people would not move.
They knew nothing of the merits of a limited monarchy, but they could
vibrate to the electric thrill of a great emotion, such as that which
made their hearts rise and swell when the organ in the village
church pealed forth the airs of Bellini or Donizetti on a feast day.
Garibaldi was the Mahdi of a new dispensation, which was to end
earthquakes, the cholera, poverty, to heal all wounds, dry all tears.
Yes, it was worth while to rise now! King Francis seems to have
understood the situation; he sat down to wait for Destiny in a red
shirt. When the liberator was sufficiently near, he is reported
to have called the commanders of the National Guard, and to have
addressed them in these words: "As your--that is, our common friend,
Don Peppe, approaches, my work ends and yours begins. Keep the peace.
I have ordered the troops that remain to capitulate."

The British Government had all along recommended Cavour to leave
Garibaldi alone to finish the task he had so well begun; he did not
take the advice, but in the end he must have recognised its wisdom.
At the very last moment it might have been possible to get Victor
Emmanuel's authority proclaimed at Naples before Garibaldi entered the
city, or, at any rate, Cavour thought so; but the attempt would have
worn a graceless look at that late hour, and it was not made. Cavour
never forgot the services which Garibaldi had rendered to Italy; "the
greatest," he said, "that a man could render her." When the dissension
between them began, he might have convoked Parliament and fought out
the battle before the Chamber, but, though he would have saved his
_prestige_, he would have lost Italy. He preferred to risk his
reputation and to save Italy. In order to make Italy, he believed it
to be of vital importance to keep the hero on good terms with the
king. Garibaldi was a great moral power, not only in Italy, but in
Europe. If Cavour entered into a struggle with him, he would have the
majority of old diplomatists on his side, but European public opinion
would be against him, and it would be right. He argued thus with those
who mistook his forbearance for weakness, when it was really strength.

Cavour seriously thought that among the inconvenient consequences of
Garibaldi's ascendency might be a war with Austria, forced on the
Government by the victorious _condottiere_ in the intoxication of
success. He was resolved as a statesman to do what he could to prevent
so great an imprudence. He had assured the British Government in
writing that he had no present intention of attacking Austria, and
in this he was perfectly sincere. Still he did not shrink from the
possibility. He wrote to Ricasoli: "If we were beaten by overwhelming
force, the cause of Italy would not be lost; she would arise from her
ruins, as Piedmont arose from the field of Novara." To another friend
he made what was, perhaps, the only boast he ever uttered: "I would
answer for the result if I possessed the art of war as I possess the
art of politics." For the rest, he added characteristically, When
a course became the only one, what was the good of counting up its
dangers? You ought to find out the way of overcoming them.



When Garibaldi entered Naples, Cavour had already decided on the
momentous step of sending the king's forces into Umbria and the
Marches of Ancona. At the end of August he wrote: "We are touching the
supreme moment; with God's help, Italy will be made in three months."
If constitutional monarchy was to triumph it could no longer stand
still; neither Austrian arms nor republican propaganda could so
jeopardise the scheme of an Italian kingdom under a prince of the
House of Savoy as the demonstration of facts that the Government of
Victor Emmanuel had lost the lead. Moreover, it became daily more
probable that, if the king did not invade the Roman States from the
north, Garibaldi would invade them from the south, and this Cavour was
determined to prevent. If a Garibaldian invasion succeeded, France
would come into the field; if it failed, all the great results
hitherto accomplished would be compromised. Garibaldi at most could
only have disposed of half his little army of volunteers, and in
Lamoricière, the conqueror of Abd-el-Kader, he would have met a
stouter antagonist than the Bourbon generals. But the party of action
urged him towards Rome, cost what it might, with the impracticability
of men who expect the walls of cities to fall at the blast of the
trumpet. Every reason, patriotic, political, geographical, justified
Cavour's resolution. It was only by force that Umbria and the Marches
had been retained under the papal sway in 1859; there was not an
Italian who did not look on their liberation as a patriotic duty. The
nominal pretext for the war, as has happened in most of the wars
of this century, only partially touched the point at issue; Cavour
professed to see a menace in the increase of the Pope's army, and
demanded its disbandment. In a literal sense, fifteen or twenty
thousand men could not be a menace to Italy. Still it must be doubted
if any state could have tolerated, in what was now its midst, even
this small force, commanded by a foreign general, composed largely
of foreign recruits, and proclaiming itself the advance guard of
reactionary Europe. Lamoricière said that wherever the revolution
appeared, it must be knocked on the head as if it were a mad dog. By
"the revolution" he meant Italian unity.

Cavour, the cabinet, and the king were already labouring under the
penalties of excommunication by the Bull issued in the spring against
all who had taken part in the annexation of Romagna. When Prince
Charles of Lorraine in 1690 advised the Emperor to withdraw his claims
to Spain and concentrate his energies on uniting Italy, he observed
that in order to join the kingdom of Naples with Lombardy, it would be
necessary to reduce the Pope to the sole city of Rome. This most able
statesman of the House of Hapsburg continued: "The services of very
learned doctors should be obtained to instruct the people, both
by word of mouth and by writing, on the inutility and illusion of
excommunications when it is a question of temporalities, which Jesus
Christ never destined to His Church, and which she cannot possess
without outraging His example and compromising His Gospel." Cavour did
not seek the learned doctors, because he knew that the religious side
of the matter, however vital it seemed to the young Breton noblemen
who enlisted under Lamoricière, left unmoved the Pope's subjects, who
had a mixture of scorn and hatred for the rule of priests, such as
was not felt for any government in Italy. For the rest, familiarity
lessens the effect of spiritual fulminations, and even of those not
spiritual. For three months Cavour had sustained the running fire of
all except one of the foreign representatives at Turin; as he wrote to
the Marquis E. d'Azeglio: "I have the whole _corps diplomatique_ on
my back, Hudson excepted; I let them have their say and I go on."
He deplored the sad fate of diplomacy, which always took the most
interest in bad causes, and was the more favourable to a government
the worse it was.[1] If _ces messieurs_ protested or departed, they
must; he could not arrest the current. If he tried, it would carry him
away with it, "which would not be a great evil," but it would carry
away the dynasty also. The Peace of Villafranca had caused the
Italians to conceive an irresistible desire for unity--events were
stronger than men, and he should only stop before fleets and armies.

[Footnote 1: We are reminded of a remark of Prince Bismarck:
"Personne, pas même le plus malveillant démocrate, ne se fait une
idée de ce qu'il y a de nullité et de charlatanisme dans cette

It appears that this time Cavour would have acted even without the
assent of Napoleon; it was, however, evidently of great moment to
secure it if possible. The Emperor was making a tour in the newly
acquired province of Savoy when General Cialdini and L.C. Farini were
despatched by Cavour to endeavour to win him over. The interview,
which was held at Chambéry, was kept so secret that its precise date
is not now known. Cavour tried, not for the first time, the effect
of entire frankness. He counted on persuading Napoleon that their
interests were identical: the White Reaction and the Red Republic were
the enemies of both. He did not neglect the item that Lamoricière was
disliked at the Tuileries. With regard to Garibaldi, he represented
that since the cession of Nice no one could manage him. The end of
it was that, if Napoleon did not say the words "Faites, mais faites
vite," which rumour attributed to him, he certainly expressed their

On September 11 the Sardinian army, more than double as strong as
Lamoricière's, crossed the papal frontier. With the exception of
England and Sweden, all the Powers recalled their representatives
from Turin. The French Ministry telegraphed to Napoleon, who was at
Marseilles, to ask what they were to do. They got no answer, and, left
to their own inspiration, they informed the Duke de Grammont, the
French Ambassador at Rome, that the Emperor's Government "would not
tolerate" the culpable aggression of Sardinia, and that orders were
given to embark troops for Ancona. These misleading assurances
encouraged Lamoricière, but in any case he would probably have thought
it incumbent on him to make what stand he could. He was defeated by
Cialdini on the heights of Castelfidardo--"yesterday unknown, to-day
immortal," as Mgr. Dupanloup eloquently exclaimed. Ancona fell to
a combined attack from land and sea. Meanwhile Fanti advanced on
Perugia, and was on the point of entering Viterbo when a detachment
from the French garrison in Rome suddenly occupied the town: one of
Napoleon's facing-both-ways evolutions by which he thought to save the
goat and cabbages of the Italian riddle, but the final result was to
lose both one and the other. Lamoricière went home, declaring that
he took his defeat less to heart than the cruel disillusions he had
undergone in Rome. Some one proposed that he should go to the rescue
of King Francis, but he answered that his wish had been to serve the
Pope, not the Neapolitan Bourbons.

On the 20th the King of Sardinia, at the head of his army, marched
into the kingdom of Naples. For the Continental Powers it was a new
act of aggression; for Lord Palmerston, a measure of the highest
expediency, to which he had been urging Cavour with an impatience
hardly exceeded by that of the most ardent Italian patriot. The goal
of Italian unity was now more than in sight--it was touched. The
Rubicon was crossed in more senses than one. But at this last stage
there arose a danger which Cavour had not seriously apprehended. He
thought that Austria would not attack, unless directly provoked by
some imprudence of the extreme party. She had allowed the Grand Duke
of Tuscany and the King of Naples to fall; why should she be more
concerned for the Pope? Austria's concern for the Pope was, in fact,
not very deep, but there were Austrian politicians who argued that, if
Venetia was to be saved for the empire, the right of Austria to hold
it must rest on something more solid than a treaty, every other
clause of which had been torn to shreds. Never could a time return so
favourable as the present for striking a blow at the nascent Italian
kingdom. With the king and the best part of the army in the south, who
was there to oppose them? It is true that there was a feeling, growing
and expanding silently, which tended all the other way: a feeling that
enough of German and Hungarian and Bohemian and Polish blood had been
poured out upon Italian plains; that there was a fate in the thing,
and the fate was contrary to Austria. This feeling grew and grew till
the day when Venice too was lost, and not a man in Austria could find
it in his heart to cast one sincere look of regret behind at all that
fabric of splendid but ill-fortune-bringing dominion. A few years were
still to pass, however, before that day came, and all the forces of
the old order combined to press the Emperor to oppose the invading
flood while there was time. Some say that he had actually signed the
order to cross the frontier, but that on second thoughts he decided
first to seek the co-operation of Russia, probably with a view to
keeping France quiet. When he went to Warsaw in October, he left
everything prepared for war on his return. But Alexander II., having
thrown overboard his old friends at Naples, did not want to help the
Pope. The Emperor of Austria was badly received by the people of
Warsaw, and this tended against the alliance. The Prince Regent of
Prussia, who travelled to Warsaw to meet him, definitely refused to
guarantee his Venetian possessions. Lord John Russell had lately met
the Prussian ruler and his minister, Schleinitz, at Coblentz, and had
used all his influence to persuade them to keep Germany out of Italian
concerns. Though the Berlin Government loudly protested against the
Sardinian attack on papal territory, there is no doubt that the voice
of Prussia at Warsaw was raised in favour of peace.

At this juncture Napoleon proposed the usual Congress. While he told
Cavour that he must not expect assistance from him, his private
language towards the Northern Powers did not exclude the possibility
of French intervention. A diversion was created by a note which Lord
John Russell addressed to Sir James Hudson, "the most unprincipled
document," as it was called at Rome, "that had ever been written by
the minister of any civilised court." Lord John defended every act of
Sardinia in the strongest and plainest terms, and people grew almost
more angry with him than with Cavour. The Italian statesman never
quailed through this last perilous crisis; "Nous sommes prêts," he
wrote, "à jouer le tout pour le tout." There are moments when the
problems of politics, as of life, cease to perplex. By degrees the
storm-clouds rolled away without breaking. In November Cavour felt
himself strong enough to affirm that the questions of Naples and the
Marches were purely Italian, and that the Powers of Europe had no
business to meddle with them. During the autumn, amidst other cares,
he was seriously preoccupied by a persistent rumour that his faithful
friend, Sir James Hudson, was to be removed to make room for the
ex-British Minister at Naples, whose occupation was gone through the
fall of the dynasty. It has been denied that the change was then
contemplated; at any rate it was not carried out till a later period,
and Cavour had the comfort of keeping his English fellow-worker near
him till he died.

The Garibaldian epic closed with the battle near the left bank of the
Volturno on October 1. Still Garibaldi showed no disposition to resign
the dictatorship, or to abandon the designs on Rome which he had
postponed, not renounced. On his side, Cavour was resolved that a
normal government should be established at Naples, and that Garibaldi
should not go to Rome, but he was no less resolved that, as far as
he could compass it, the giver of two crowns should be generously
treated. Unfortunately Fanti, the virtual head of the royal army,
represented the old military prejudice which classed volunteers with
banditti. A violent scene took place between this general and Cavour;
Fanti wished that the Garibaldians should be simply sent home with a
gratuity, alleging that "the exigencies of the army" were opposed to
the recognition of their grades. Cavour replied that they were not in
Spain,--in Italy the army obeyed. The ministerial emissaries in the
south received instructions (which they did not invariably execute) to
spare no pains to act in harmony with the dictator. Cavour, himself,
treated him always as a power and an equal. He took care that he
was the first to whom the secret of the invasion of the Marches was
confided. He assured him that in case of a war with Austria he would
be called upon to play an important part. When the king started on the
march for Naples, Cavour wrote to him advising that "infinite regard"
should be paid to the leader of the Thousand; "Garibaldi," he added,
"has become my most violent enemy, but I desire for the good of
Italy, and the honour of your Majesty, that he should retire entirely
satisfied." To L.C. Farini, who accompanied the king to Naples, he
wrote that the whole of Europe would condemn them if they sacrificed
to military pedantry men who had given their blood for Italy. He
would bury himself at Leri for the rest of his life rather than be
responsible for an act of such black ingratitude. In spite of all he
could do, however, a certain grudging spirit hung about the conduct of
Piedmontese officialdom towards the volunteers and their chief, but
great personal offers were made to Garibaldi--the highest military
rank, a castle, a ship, the dowry of a princess for his daughter. All
was refused. Garibaldi asked for the governorship of the Two Sicilies
for a year with unlimited power, and this, in the opinion of every
person of weight in Italy, it was impossible to grant.

In reviewing Cavour's conduct of affairs at this point, it is
important to dwell on his unwavering fidelity to constitutional
methods. We know now that he was strongly urged to take an opposite
course. Ricasoli telegraphed to him: "The master stroke would be to
proclaim the dictatorship of the king." The Iron Baron told Victor
Emmanuel to his face that it was humiliating for him to accept half
Italy as the gift even of a hero. It was no time for scruples; the
_coup d'état_ would be legitimised afterwards by universal suffrage;
Garibaldi himself would approve of the king's dictatorship if it were
accompanied by a thoroughly Italian policy. This was perfectly true;
as Cavour said, the conception was really the same as Garibaldi's own:
a great revolutionary dictatorship to be exercised in the name of the
king without the control of a free press, and with no individual or
parliamentary guarantees. But Cavour would have none of it. What, he
asked, would England say to a _coup d'état?_ His hope had always been
that Italy might make herself a nation without passing through
the hands of a Cromwell; that she might win independence without
sacrificing liberty, and abolish monarchical absolutism without
falling into revolutionary despotism. From parliament alone could be
drawn the moral force capable of subduing factions.

Not from his fellow-countrymen only, but from some who believed
themselves to be Italy's best friends abroad, came the prompting of
the tempter: more power! Few ministers in a predicament of such vast
difficulty would have resisted the evil fascination of those two
words. Cavour heard them unmoved. He told his various counsellors that
they counted too much on his influence, and were too distrustful of
liberty. He had no confidence in dictatorships, least of all in civil
dictatorships; with a parliament many things could be done which would
be impossible to absolute power. The experience of thirteen years
convinced him that an honest and energetic ministry, which had nothing
to fear from the revelations of the tribune, and which was not of a
humour to be intimidated by extreme parties, gained far more than it
lost by parliamentary struggles. He never felt so weak as when the
Chambers were closed. In a letter to Mme. de Circourt, he said that,
if people succeeded in persuading the Italians that they needed a
dictator, they would choose Garibaldi, not himself, and they would be
right. He summed up the matter thus: "I cannot betray my origin, deny
the principles of all my life. I am the son of liberty, and to it I
owe all that I am. If a veil is to be placed on its statue, it is not
for me to do it."

Meanwhile the edge of the precipice was reached. The king was marching
on, and still the dictator held the post which he owed to his sword
and the popular will. He openly begged the king to dismiss his
minister (in his idea kings could change their ministers as easily as
dictators). The public challenge could not be ignored. There was
no time to lose, and Cavour lost none; his answer was an appeal to
parliament. "A man," he said, "whom the country holds justly dear
has stated that he has no confidence in us. It behoves parliament to
declare whether we shall retire or continue our work." He invited the
deputies to pass a Bill authorising the king's Government to accept
the immediate annexation of such provinces of Central and Southern
Italy as manifested by universal suffrage their desire to become an
integral part of the constitutional monarchy of Victor Emmanuel.
This was voted on October 11. The majority of Cavour's party did not
believe that Garibaldi would give in to the national mandate; he knew
him better. On the 13th the dictator called together his advisers
of all shades of opinion. There was a heated discussion: a solution
seemed farther off than ever. Then, when they had all spoken, the
chief rose serenely and said that, if annexation were the will of the
people, he would have annexation; _si faccia l'Italia!_ He decreed
the plebiscite, but, having made up his mind, he did not wait for its
verdict. He issued one more ukase: "that the Two Sicilies form an
integral part of Italy, one and indivisible under the constitutional
king, Victor Emmanuel, and his successors." By a stroke of the pen he
handed over his conquests as a free gift. It was not constitutional,
still less democratic; puritan republicans averted their eyes, so did
rigid monarchists, but Cavour was perfectly content. He had forced
Garibaldi's hand without straining the royal prerogative or the
minister's authority. He had gained his end, and he had not betrayed
freedom. It could be argued now with more force than in 1860 that
Garibaldi and Ricasoli were right in contending that the best
government for the southern populations, only just released from a
demoralising yoke, would have been a wise, temporary despotism. But
despotisms have the habit of being neither wise nor temporary, and,
apart from this, the establishment of any partial or regional rule,
which placed the south under different institutions from the rest of
Italy, would have killed Italian Unity at its birth.

Cavour went on a brief visit to Naples, his name having been the
first to be drawn when the deputies were chosen who were to take the
congratulations of parliament to the king. Umbria, the Marches, and
the kingdoms of Sicily and Naples were joined to the common family.
Much had, indeed, been done, but there was trouble still at Gaeta,
where Napoleon placed his fleet in such a position as to render
an attack from the sea impossible. It was difficult to decide if
dust-throwing were the object, or if Napoleonic ideas had taken a new
turn. Italy was made, but it might be unmade. This was what French
politicians were constantly repeating. "L'Italie est une invention
de l'Empereur," said M. Rouher. "Rome l'engloutira!" predicted M. de
Girardin. Italy, declared M. Thiers, was an historical parasite which
lived on its past and could have no future. If all this were so, the
waters would be disturbed again soon, and there might be play for
anglers. The Murat scheme would have a new chance, were Victor
Emmanuel tried and found wanting. Young Prince Murat confided to his
friends that he expected to be wanted soon at Naples; "a great bore,"
but he would do his duty and go if required.

Whatever purpose Napoleon had in view, he was induced, at last, by the
British Government to desist from prolonging a struggle which could
only end in one way. The French fleet was withdrawn in January 1861,
and Gaeta capitulated on February 13. King Francis began the sad life
of exile, which closed a few years ago at Arco. The true Bourbon takes
misfortune easily; the pleasures of a mock court are dear to him, his
spirits never fail, nor does his appetite. But Francis II., the son of
a Savoyard mother, never consoled himself for the loss of country and

Cavour hoped that with the fall of Gaeta the state of the old
_Regno_ would rapidly improve, but another citadel remained to the
reaction--Rome, whence the campaign against unity continued to
be directed. A veritable _terreur blanche_, called by one side
brigandage, by the other a holy war, possessed the hills from Vesuvius
to the Sila forest. But though there were several foreign noblemen
who took part in it, not one Neapolitan of respectability or standing
joined the insurgents. The general elections showed in the south, as
over the whole country, a large majority pledged to support Cavour.
The first act of the new Chamber was to vote the assumption of the
title of King of Italy by Victor Emmanuel. The king might have assumed
the title a year before with more correctness than the Longobard kings
of Italy or the First Consul, but he did well to wait till none could
gainsay his right to it. Some faddists proposed to substitute "King of
the Italians." Cavour replied that the title of King of Italy was the
consecration of a great fact: the transformation of the country, whose
very existence as a nation was denied, into the kingdom of Italy.
It condensed into one word the history of the work achieved. On
the proclamation of the new kingdom Cavour resigned office; Victor
Emmanuel, who was never really at his ease with Cavour, thought of
accepting in earnest what was done as a matter of form, but Ricasoli
dissuaded him from the idea. The Cavour ministry therefore returned to
office, with a few modifications.

The new Chamber represented all Italy, except Rome and Venice. From
Villafranca to his death, Venice was never out of Cavour's mind. He
kept in touch with the revolutionary forces in Hungary, and Kossuth
believed to the last that, if Cavour had lived, he would have
compassed the liberation of both Hungary and Venetia within the year
1862. He would have supported Lord John Russell's plan, which was that
Italy should buy the Herzegovina and give it to Austria in exchange
for Venetia, but, on the whole, he thought that the most likely
solution was war, in which Prussia and Italy were ranged on the same
side. He, almost alone, rated at its true value the latent military
force of Prussia. He had a knack of calling Prussia "Germany," as he
used to call Piedmont "Italy." He turned off the furious remonstrances
which came like the burden of a song from Berlin, with the polite
remark that the Prussian Government would be soon very glad to follow
his example. When William I. ascended the throne, he ignored the
rupture of diplomatic relations, and sent La Marmora to whisper into
the ear of the new monarch words of artful flattery. He may have
doubted if a Prussianised Germany would exactly come as a boon and a
blessing to men. In 1848 he prophesied that Germanism would disturb
the European equilibrium, and that the future German Empire would aim
at becoming a naval power in order to combat and rival England on
the seas. But he saw that the rise of Prussia meant the decline of
Austria, and this was all that, as an Italian statesman, with Venetia
still in chains, he was bound to consider.



The other unsolved question, that of Rome, was the most thorny, the
most complicated, that ever a statesman had to grapple with. Though
Cavour's death makes it impossible to say what measure of success
would have attended his plans for resolving it, it must be always
interesting to study his attitude in approaching the greatest crux in
modern politics.

Cavour did not think of shirking this question because it was
difficult. In fact, he had understood from the beginning that in it
lay the essence of the whole problem. Chiefly for that reason he
brought the occupations of the Papal States before the Congress of
Paris. In 1856, as in 1861, he looked upon the Temporal Power as
incompatible with the independence of Italy. It was already a fiction.
"The Pope's domination as sovereign ceased from the day when it was
proved that it could not exist save by a double foreign occupation."
It had become a centre of corruption, which destroyed moral sense and
rendered religious sentiment null. Without the Temporal Power, many of
the wounds of the Church might be healed. It was useless to cite the
old argument of the independence of the head of the Church; in face
of a double occupation and the Swiss troops, it would be too bitter a
mockery. When Cavour spoke in these terms, Italian Unity seemed far
off. Now that it was accomplished, a new and potent motive arose for
settling the Roman question once for all. In May 1861 Mr. Disraeli
remarked to Count Vitzthum: "The sooner the inevitable war breaks out
the better. The Italian card-house can never last. Without Rome there
is no Italy. But that the French will evacuate the Eternal City is
highly improbable. On this point the interests of the Conservative
party coincide with those of Napoleon." There is no better judge of
the drift of political affairs than an out-and-out opponent. So
Prince Metternich always insisted that the Italians did not want
reforms--they wanted national existence, unity. Mr. Disraeli probably
had in mind a speech delivered in the House of Commons by Lord John
Russell, in which the Foreign Secretary recommended as "the best
arrangement" the Pope's retention of Rome with a small surrounding
territory. There is no doubt that a large part of the moderate party
in Italy would have then endorsed this recommendation. They looked
upon _Roma capitale_ as what D'Azeglio called it--a classical
fantasticality. What was the good of making an old man uncomfortable,
upsetting the religious susceptibilities of Europe, forfeiting the
complaisance of France, in order to pitch the tent of the nation in
a malarious town which was only fit to be a museum? Those who only
partly comprehended Cavour's character might have expected to find him
favourable to these opinions, which had a certain specious appearance
of practical good sense. But Cavour saw through the husk to the
kernel; he saw that "without Rome there was no Italy."

Without Rome Italian Unity was still only a name. Rome was the symbol,
as it was the safeguard of unity. Without it, Italy would remain a
conglomeration of provinces, a union, not a unit--not the great nation
which Cavour had laboured to create. Even as prime minister of little
Piedmont, he had spurned a parochial policy. He had no notion of a
humble, semi-neutralised Italy, which should have no voice in the
world. Cavour lacked the sense of poetry, of art; he hated fads, and
he did not believe in the perfectibility of the human species, but his
prose was the prose of the ancient Roman; it was the prose of empire.
United Italy must be a great power or nothing. Cavour was practical
and prudent, as he is represented in the portrait commonly drawn of
him, but there was a larger side to his character, which has been less
often discerned. Nor is it to be conjectured that the direction Italy
has taken, and the consequent outlay in armaments and ships, would
have been blamed by him, though he would have blamed the uncontrolled
waste of money in all departments, which is answerable for the present
state of the finances. Nor, again, would Cavour have disapproved of
colonial enterprises, but he would have taken care to have the meat,
not the bones: Tunis, not Massowah. From the opening to the close of
his career, the thought "I am an Italian citizen" governed all his
acts. Those who accused him of provincialism, of regionalism, mistook
the tastes of the private individual for the convictions of the
statesman. He preferred the flats and fogs of Leri to the scenery of
the Bay of Naples; but in politics he did not acquire the feelings
of an Italian: he was born with them. It has been said that he
aggrandised Piedmont; it would be truer to say that he sacrificed it.
For years he drained its resources; he sent its soldiers to die in the
Crimea; he exposed it again and again to the risk of invasion: he tore
from it two of its fairest provinces. But there was one thing that he
would not do; he would not dethrone Turin to begin a new "regionalism"
elsewhere. At Rome alone the history of the Italian municipalities
would become the history of the Italian nation.

Cavour deliberately departed from his usual rule of letting events
shape themselves when he pledged himself and the monarchy to the
policy of making Rome the capital. In October 1860 he said from his
place in parliament that it was a grave thing for a minister to
pronounce his opinion on the great questions of the future, but a
statesman worthy of the name ought to have certain fixed points by
which he steered his course. For twelve years their continual object
had been national independence; henceforth it was "to make the Eternal
City, on which rested twenty-five centuries of glory, the splendid
capital of the Italian kingdom."

On March 25, 1861, Cavour seized a chance opportunity to repeat and
emphasise his views. The question of Rome was, he said, the gravest
ever placed before the parliament of a free people. It was not only of
vital importance to Italy, but also to two hundred thousand Catholics
in all parts of the globe; its solution ought to have not only a
political influence, but also a moral and religious influence. In the
previous year he had deemed it wise to speak with reserve, but now
that this question was the principal subject of discussion in all
civilised nations, reserve would not be prudence but pusillanimity. He
proceeded to lay down as an irrefragable fact that Rome must become
the capital of Italy. Only this could end the discords and differences
of the various parts of the country. The position of the capital was
not decided by reasons of climate or topography, or even of strategy.
The choice of the capital was determined by great moral reasons, by
the voice of national sentiment. Cavour rarely introduced his own
personality even into his private letters, much less into his
speeches; for the last ten years of his life he seemed a living
policy, hardly a man. But in this speech there is a touch of personal
pathos in the passage in which he said that, for himself, it would
be a grievous day when he had to leave his native Turin with its
straight, formal streets, for Rome and its splendid monuments, for
which he was not artist enough to care. He called upon the future
Italy, established firmly in the Eternal City, to remember the cradle
of her liberties, which had made such great sacrifices for her, and
was ready to make this one too!

They must go to Rome, he continued, but on two conditions--the first
was, concert with France; the second, that the union of this city with
Italy should not be interpreted by the great mass of Catholics as the
signal for the servitude of the Church. They must go to Rome without
lessening the Pope's real independence, and without extending the
power of the civil authority over the spiritual. History proved that
the union of civil and spiritual authority in the same hands was fatal
to progress and freedom. The possession of Rome by Italy must put an
end to this union, not begin a new phase of it by making the Pope
a sort of head chaplain or chief almoner to the Italian state. The
Pope's spiritual authority would be safer in the charge of twenty-six
millions of free Italians than in that of a foreign garrison. Whether
they went to Rome with or without the consent of the Pontiff, as soon
as the fall of the Temporal Power was proclaimed, the complete liberty
of the Church would be proclaimed also. Might they not hope that the
head of the Church would accept the offered terms? Was it impossible
to persuade him that the Temporal Power was no longer a guarantee of
independence, and that its loss would be compensated by an amount of
liberty which the Church had sought in vain for three centuries, only
gathering particles of it by concordats which conceded the use of
spiritual arms to temporal rulers? They were ready to promise the Holy
Father that freedom which he had never obtained from those who called
themselves his allies and devoted sons. They were ready to assert
through every portion of the king's dominions the great principle of
_a free church in a free state_.

At Cavour's invitation, parliament voted the choice of Rome as
capital. From that vote there could be no going back. _Roma capitale_
could never again be put aside as the dream of revolutionists and
poets. This was the last great political act of Cavour's life. Though
he did not think that his life would be a long one, he thought that he
should have time to finish his work himself. One day, when he had been
discussing the matter with a friend, who saw nothing but difficulties,
he placed the inkstand at the top of the table before which they were
sitting, and said, "I see the straight line to that point; it is this"
(he traced it with his finger). "Supposing that halfway I encounter
an impediment; I do not knock my head against it for the pleasure of
breaking it, but neither do I go back. I look to the right and to the
left, and not being able to follow the straight line, I make a curve.
I turn the obstacle which I cannot attack in front."

What Cavour would have called the straight line to Rome was a friendly
arrangement with the Pope. He could not have hoped for this, had he
been less convinced that the true interests of the Church of Rome
would be served, not injured, by the loss of a sovereignty which had
become an anachronism. It is, of course, certain that many thought the
contrary; Lord Palmerston believed that the religious position of the
papacy would suffer, and among the advanced party the wish to weaken
the spiritual influence of the priests went along with the wish to
abolish their political dominion. Cavour looked upon religion as a
great moralising force, and he was well assured that the only form of
it acceptable to the Italian people was the Latin form of Christianity
established in Rome. Efforts to spread Protestantism in Italy struck
him as childish. Freed from the log of temporalities, he expected
that the Church would become constantly better fitted to perform its

Cavour began negotiations with Rome which, at first, he had reason
to think, were favourably entertained; afterwards they were abruptly
broken off. Nothing is more difficult than to penetrate through the
wall of apparent unanimity which surrounds the Vatican. Sometimes,
however, a breach is made, to the scandal of the faithful. Thus
the biographer of Cardinal Manning revealed the fact that the late
Archbishop of Westminster, who began by wishing the Temporal Power to
be erected into an article of faith, ended by ardently desiring some
kind of tacitly accepted _modus vivendi_ with the Italian kingdom,
such as that which Cavour proposed. Cardinal Manning was sorry to see
the Italians being driven to atheism and socialism, and so he had the
courage to change his mind. In 1861 he was in the opposite camp,
but there was not wanting then a section of learned and patriotic
ecclesiastics who desired peace. It was said that their efforts
were rendered sterile by the great organisation which a pope once
suppressed, and which owed its resurrection to a schismatic emperor
and an heretical king. However that may be, the recollection of what
befell Clement XIV. is still a living force in Rome.

Having failed to conclude a compact with the Vatican, Cavour turned to
France. To make it easier for Napoleon to withdraw his troops, he was
willing to allow the Temporal Power to stand for a short time--"for
instance, for a year"--after their departure. In the arrangement
subsequently arrived at under the name of the September Convention,
the underlying intention was to adjourn _Roma capitale_ to the Greek
kalends. Cavour had no such intention, nor would he have agreed to the
transference of the capital to Florence. His plan was warmly supported
by Prince Napoleon, and had he lived it is probable that it would have
been carried out. He did not despair of an ultimate reconciliation
with the Holy See, though he no longer thought that it would yield to
persuasion alone.

While Cavour was applying himself with feverish activity to the Roman
question, he was harassed by the state of the Neapolitan provinces,
which showed no improvement. The liquidation of Garibaldi's
dictatorship was rendered the more difficult by the undiminished
dislike of the military chiefs for the volunteers, whom they were
disposed to treat less favourably than the Bourbon officers who ran
away. Cavour hoped to get substantial justice done in the end, but
meantime he had to bear the blame for the illiberality which he had so
strenuously opposed. To have told the truth would have been to throw
discredit on the army, and this he would not do. The subject was
brought before the Chamber of Deputies in a debate opened by Ricasoli,
who spoke in favour of the volunteers, but deprecated undue importance
being assigned to the work of any private citizen. The true liberator
of Italy was the king under whom they had all worked; those whose
sphere of action had been widest, as their utility had been greatest,
should feel thankful for so precious a privilege--few men could say,
"I have served my country well, I have entirely done my duty." Cavour,
who heard Ricasoli speak for the first time, said with generous
approbation, "I have understood to-day what real eloquence is." But it
was not likely that the debate would continue on this academic plane.
Garibaldi had come to Turin in a fit of intense anger at the treatment
of his old comrades, and on rising to defend them he soon lost control
over himself, and launched into furious invectives against the man who
had made him a foreigner in his native town, and "who was now driving
the country into civil war." Cavour would have borne patiently
anything that Garibaldi could say about Nice, but at the words "civil
war" he became violently excited. The house trembled lest a scene
should take place, which would be worse for Italy than the loss of a
battle. But Cavour cared too much for Italy to harm her. The sense
of his first indignant protests was lost in the general uproar;
afterwards, when he rose to reply to Garibaldi, he was perfectly calm;
there was not a trace of resentment on his face. Such self-command
would have been noble in a man whose temperament was phlegmatic; in a
passionate man like Cavour it was heroic. He said that an abyss had
been created between himself and General Garibaldi. He had performed
what he believed to be a duty, but it was the most cruel duty of his
life. What he felt made him able to understand what Garibaldi felt.
With regard to the volunteers, had he not himself instituted them in
1859 in the teeth of all kinds of opposition? Was it likely that he
wished to treat them ill? A few days later Garibaldi wrote a letter in
which he promised Cavour (in effect) plenary absolution if he would
proclaim a dictatorship. He would then be the first to obey. There
was no petty spite or envy in Garibaldi; his wild thrusts had been
prompted by "a general honest thought, and common good to all." He was
ready to give his rival unlimited power.

By the king's wish, Cavour and Garibaldi met and exchanged a few
courteous, if not cordial, words. Cavour ignored the scene in the
Chamber; he had already said that for him it had never happened. It
was their last meeting. The wear and tear of public life as it was
lived by Cavour must have been enormous; it meant the concentration,
not only of the mental and physical powers, but also of the nervous
and emotional faculties, on a single object. He had not the relaxation
of athletic or literary tastes, or the repose of a cheerful domestic
life. Latterly he even gave up going to the theatre in order to dose
undisturbed. A doctor warned him not to work after dinner, and to take
frequent holidays in the mountains; he neglected both rules. He was
inclined to despise rest. He used to say: "When I want a thing to be
done quickly, I always go to a busy man: the unoccupied man never
has any time." He, himself, did not know how to be idle; yet he was
painfully conscious of overwork and brain-fag. He told his friend
Castelli that he was tormented by sleeplessness, but still more by
certain ideas which assailed him at night, and which he could not get
rid of. He got up and walked about the room, but all was useless; "I
am no longer master of my head." When Parliament was open, he never
missed a sitting, and he left nothing to subordinates in the several
departments in his charge. While his mental processes remained clear
and orderly, the brain, when not governed by the will, did its tasks
as a tired slave does them; thus he was surrounded by a mass of
confused papers and documents, amongst which he sometimes had to seek
for days for the one required at the moment.

In the last half of May he was noticed to be unwontedly irritable and
impatient of contradiction. The debates bored him; on the last day
that he sat in his accustomed place, he said that, when Italy was
made, he would bring in a Bill to abolish all the chairs of rhetoric.
That evening he was taken ill with fever; his own physician was
absent, and he dictated a treatment to the doctor who was called in,
which he thought would make his illness a short one. He was bled five
times in four days. On the fourth day he summoned a cabinet council
to his bedside; the ministers, sharing his own opinion that he was
better, allowed it to be prolonged for several hours. When they went
out, an old friend came in and read death in his face. Other doctors
were consulted, and the treatment was changed. It was too late. From
the first the chance of recovery was small, owing to the mental
tension at which Cavour had lived for months; whatever chance there
was had been thrown away. He knew people when he first saw them, but
then fell back into lethargy or delirium. Suddenly he said: "The king
must be told."

When the case became evidently desperate, the family sent for a monk,
named Fra Giacomo, who had promised Cavour during the cholera epidemic
of 1854 that the refusal of the sacraments to Santa Rosa should not
be repeated in his own extremity. An excited crowd gathered round the
palace. One workman said: "If the priests refuse, a word and we will
finish them all." But Fra Giacomo kept his promise. "I know the
Count," he said (for many years he had dispensed his private
charities); "a clasp of the hand will be sufficient." On the evening
of the same day, June 5, the king ascended the secret staircase
leading to Cavour's bedroom, which had been so often mounted before
dawn by too compromising visitors. Cavour exclaimed on seeing him: "O
Maestà!" but the recognition seemed not to last. "These Neapolitans,
they must be cleansed," he said, interrupting the sovereign's kind
commonplaces of a hope that was not. Then he ordered that his
secretary, Artom, should be ready to transact business with him at
five next morning; "there was no time to lose." Cavour's biographers
have repeated statements as to precepts and injunctions spoken by him
in his last hours. But he was continually delirious; all that could be
understood was that his wandering mind was running on what had been
the life of his life, Italy. In the early dawn of the 6th, he imagined
that he was making a ministerial statement from his place in the
Chamber of Deputies; his voice sounded clear and distinct, but ideas,
names, words, were incoherently mixed together. At four o'clock he
became silent, and very soon life was pronounced to be extinct.

One Sunday in June, a year before, Cavour spent some hours in the
ancestral castle at Santena, which he so rarely visited. On that
occasion he said to the village syndic: "Here I wish my bones to
rest." The wish was respected, the king yielding to it his own desire
to give his great minister a royal burial at the Superga. Cavour had
the old sentiment that it was well for a man to be buried where his
fathers were buried, and to die in their faith. At all times it would
have been repugnant to him to pose as a sceptic, most of all on his
deathbed. Once, when he was reminded in the Campo Santo at Pisa
that he was standing on holy earth brought from Palestine, he said,
smiling, "Perhaps they will make a saint of me some day." He died a
Catholic, and, instead of launching its censures against Fra Giacomo,
the Church might have written "ancor questo" among its triumphs. For
the rest, with minds such as Cavour's, religion is not the mystical
elevation of the soul towards God, but the intellectual assent to the
ruling of a superior will, and religious forms are, in substance,
symbols of that assent. The essence of Cavour's theology and morality
is expressed in two sayings of Epictetus. One is, that as to piety to
the gods, the chief thing is to have right opinions about them; to
think that they exist, and that they administer the all well and
justly. The other is: For this is your duty, to act well the part that
is given to you.

"Cavour," said Lord Palmerston in the classic home of constitutional
liberty, the British House of Commons, "left a name 'to point a moral
and adorn a tale.'" The moral was, that a man of transcendent talent,
indomitable industry, inextinguishable patriotism, could overcome
difficulties which seemed insurmountable, and confer the greatest,
the most inestimable benefits on his country. The tale with which
his memory would be associated was the most extraordinary, the most
romantic, in the annals of the world. A people which seemed dead had
arisen to new and vigorous life, breaking the spell which bound it,
and showing itself worthy of a new and splendid destiny. The man whose
name would go down to posterity linked with such events might have
died too soon for the hopes of his fellow-citizens, not for his fame
and his glory.

After thirty-seven years nothing need be taken away from this high
eulogy, and something can be added. The completion of the national
edifice within a decade of Cavour's death was still, in a sense, his
work, as the consolidation of the United States after the death of
Lincoln was still moulded by his vanished hand.

If it be true that the world's history is the world's judgment, it
is no less true that the history of the state is the judgment of
the statesman. Cavour would not have asked to be tried by any other
criterion. He achieved a great result. He doubted if ideals of
perfection could he reached, or whether, if reached, they would not be
found, like mountain tops, to afford no abiding place for the foot
of man. Perhaps he forgot too much that from the ice and snow of
the mountain comes the river which fertilises the land. But, if he
deprecated the pursuit of what he deemed the impossible, he condemned
as criminal the neglect of the attainable. The charge of cynicism was
unjust; Cavour was at heart an optimist; he never doubted that life
was immensely worth living, that the fields open to human energy were
splendid and beneficent. He hated shams, and he hated all forms of
caste-feeling. He was one of the few continental statesmen who never
exaggerated the power for good of government; he looked upon the
private citizen who plods at his business, gives his children a good
education, and has a reserve of savings in the funds, as the mainstay
of the state.

No life of Cavour has been written since the publication of his
correspondence, and of a mass of documents which throw light on his
career. It has seemed more useful, therefore, within the prescribed
limits, to endeavour to show what he did, and how he did it, than
to give much space to the larger considerations which the Italian
movement suggests. Of the ultimate issue of the events with which he
was concerned it is too soon to speak. These events stand in close
relation to the struggle between the civil and ecclesiastical powers,
which dates back to the first assumption of political prerogatives by
the Bishops of Rome. Cavour did not suffer his sovereign to eat humble
pie like King John, or to go to Canossa like Henry IV., but neither
did he ever entertain the wish to turn persecutor as Pombal was,
perhaps, forced to do, or to browbeat the head of the Church as the
first Napoleon took a pleasure in doing. He aimed at keeping the two
powers separate, but each supreme in its own province.

  Content you with monopolising heaven,
  And let this little hanging ball alone;
  For, give ye but a foot of conscience there,
  And you, like Archimedes, toss the globe.

The Italian revolution was bound up, also, with the principle of
nationalities, which is still at work in South-Eastern Europe, and
with the tendency towards unity which led to the refounding of the
German Empire. Students who care for historical parallels will always
seek to draw a comparison between Cavour and the great man who guided
the new destinies of Germany. The points of resemblance are striking,
but they are soon exhausted. Each undertook to free his country from
extraneous influence, and to give it the strength which can only
spring from union, and each was confident in his own power to succeed;
either Cavour or Bismarck might have said with the younger Pitt: "I
know that I can save the country, and I know no other man can." The
points of disparity are inexhaustible. Prince Bismarck never threw off
the aristocratico-military leanings with which he began life. He aimed
at creating a strong military empire, in which the first and last duty
of parliament was to vote supplies. Though the revolutionary tide set
in towards unity still more in Germany than in Italy, he preferred to
wait till he could do without a popular movement as an auxiliary. He
did not admire the mysticism of King Frederick William IV., but he
fully approved when that monarch, "the son of twenty-four electors and
kings," declared that he would never accept the "iron collar" offered
him by revolution "of an Imperial crown unblessed by God." Bismarck
started with the immeasurable advantage that his side was the
strongest. Cavour had to solve the problem of how a state of five
millions could outwit an empire of thirty-seven millions. All along,
the German population of Prussia was far more numerous than that of
Austria, and she had allies that cost her nothing. Napoleon, as Cavour
pointed out, fought for Prussia in Lombardy as much as for Piedmont.
If Bismarck foresaw unification with more certainty than Cavour
foresaw unity, it must be remembered that, while Cavour was held back
by doubts as to whether the whole country desired unity, such doubts
caused no trouble to Bismarck, since he was ready to adopt a short way
with dissidents.

When Prince Bismarck once said that he was more Prussian than German,
he revealed the weak side of his stupendous achievement. Prussia has
not become Germany. The empire is a great defensive league in which
only one participant is entirely satisfied with his position. In
Italy a kingdom has grown up in which Piedmont, even to the extent
of ingratitude, is forgotten. If moral fusion is still incomplete,
political fusion has, at least, advanced so far that the present
institutions and the nation must stand or fall together. The monarchy
was made for the country, not the country for the monarchy. An acute
Frenchman remarked during the Franco-German War, that Prince
Bismarck had taken Cavour's conception without what made it really
great--liberty. Possibly that word may still prove of better omen to
the rebirth of a nation than "Blood and Iron."


Artom I. and A. Blanc. _Il Conte di Cavour in Parlamento_.
      Florence, 1868.

Bersezio, V. _Il regno di Vittorio Emanuele II.;
      Trent' anni di vita italiana_. Turin, 1878-95. 8 vols.

Bert, A. _Nouvelles lettres inédites de Cavour_. Turin, 1889.

Berti, D. _Il Conte di Cavour avanti al 1848_. Rome, 1886.

Bianchi, N. _La politique du Comte Camille de Cavour_.
      Turin, 1885.

Bonghi, R. _Ritratti contemporanei: Cavour, Bismarck, Thiers_.
      Milan, 1879.

Buzziconi, G. _Bibliografia Cavouriana_. Turin, 1898.

Cavour, C. _Opere politico-economiche del Conte Camillo di Cavour_.
      Cuneo, 1855.

---- _Discorsi parlamentari del Conte Camillo di Cavour_.
      Published by order of the Chamber of Deputies. Turin,
      1863-72. 8 vols.

Chiala, L. _Il Conte di Cavour_. Ricordi di Michelangelo Castelli,
      editi per cura di L. Chiala. Turin, 1886.

---- _Lettere edite ed inedite di Camillo Cavour_. Turin,
      1883-87. 7 vols.

Dicey, E. _Memoir of Cavour_. London, 1861.

La Rive (De), W. _Le Comte de Cavour. Récits et souvenirs_.
      Paris, 1862.

La Varenne (De), C. _Lettres inédites du Comte de Cavour au
      Commandeur Urbain Rattazzi_. Paris, 1862.

Marriott, F. _La sapienza politica del Conte di Cavour e
      del Principe di Bismarck_. Turin, 1886.

Marriott, F. _The Makers of Modern Italy_. London, 1889.

Massari, G. _Il Conte di Cavour_. Turin, 1873.

Mazade (De), C. _Le Comte de Cavour._ Paris, 1877.

Nigra, C. _Le Comte de Cavour et la Comtesse de Circourt_.
       Turin, 1894.

Reumont (Von.), A. _Charakterbilder aus der neuern Geschichte
      Italiens._ Leipzig, 1886.

Reyntiens, M.N. _Bismarck et Cavour._ Bruxelles, 1875.

Tivaroni, C. _Storia critica del risorgimento d'Italia._
     Turin, 1888-97. 9 vols.

Treitschke (Von), H. "Cavour," in _Historische und politische
      Aufsätze._ Leipzig, 1871.

Zanichelli, D. _Gli scritti del Conte di Cavour._ Bologna, 1892.

Also the Memoirs and Correspondence of Ricasoli, La Farina,
      Kossuth, Minghetti, D'Azeglio, Lanza, Arese, Della Rocca.

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