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government cannot take place. For it is doubtful if any of the great powers will endorse such a doctrine; certainly England will not. If the French minister only means that Italy will not be allowed to seize on Rome by violence, because a European conference is going to take in hand the Roman question, there is still room for negotiations, however slight the hope of their leading to a satisfactory result. M. Rouher has delivered himself of one of those phrases, so dear to the second empire, which may be explained according to circumstances. Such phrases often give at first alternating hopes to the various political sections of France, and not unfrequently end in displeasing them all. The French minister also informed the Chambers that the Holy Father raised in Rome his venerable hands in prayer for the good of Christendom; be it so, but it must not be forgotten that he raises his voice there also to anathematise the just and equal laws passed by the Italian government for the good of its own people; laws not only in consonance with the civilisation of the age, but which France has herself long since adopted.
M. Moustier, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, in his speech (4th December 1867) said that M. Nigra, the Italian minister accredited to the French court, in proposing to France a joint French and Italian occupation of Rome, asked the French to become “not only dupes but traitors;" adding, “Our honour, our uprightness, all the sentiments that exist in the hearts of Frenchmen, as in their national soil, revolted against it." This proposition was therefore "rejected
with indignation.” Now, only a few weeks before (17th October) M. Nigra, writing to his government at Florence, says, “M. Rouher proposes that the double intervention may be regulated by a common agreement and contemporaneously effected.” This idea of M, Rouher's was, as facts show, not acted on by the French government; it preferred going to Rome alone, and M. Rouher finally agreed to that plan. But what will the world think of M. Moustier officially declaring his own colleague's proposal of a joint occupation of Rome to be one which made them “dupes and traitors," which Frenchmen “ volted against,” and which France “rejected with indignation ?"
These two French ministers have thus brought the utmost discredit upon their own government, unless indeed they have some very clear and straightforward statement to make, which shall explain this extraordinary conduct and language of theirs, touching the proposal of a joint occupation of Rome. Such a specimen of the way in which the imperial government carries on negotiations upon vital questions with another government, of whom it professes' to be the friend and even ally, will make most people think that the fewer negotiations foreign countries have with such directors of statecraft the better. But the recollection of how much weaker Italy is than France throws into the background the absurdity of these proceedings of the French government, only to bring out more forcibly the disgrace which of necessity attaches to them.
Besides M. Rouher and M. Moustier, another high authority, M. Thiers, has spoken. If what he says means anything, it means that, arms in hand, France ought to have opposed, if not even now break up by force, German and Italian unity. He advocates unblushingly the most selfish and narrow of policies. The neighbours of France are to be kept weak and divided that she may be strong. According to this doctrine, the French may be united, may change their dynasties and governments as often as they please, may be absolute masters of their own destinies and country ; but woe to Germans and Italians if they do likewise. That the neighbours of France have no right to interfere with Frenchmen as regards the management of French affairs in their own land, is assuredly true; but no eloquence of M. Thiers will prove that those neighbours have not the same absolute right in their respective countries, as against French interference. It is now clear to the world that all those fine phrases about protecting the independence and spiritual authority of the Pope are but hypocritical devices which attempt to conceal beneath the garb of religion a policy of interference as petty, as selfish, as opposed to the Christian precept of not doing to others what we would not have them do to us, as ever disgraced the worst times of purely selfish and autocratic misgovernment. Melancholy indeed is it to see the professed advocate of free constitutional principles thwarting their progress in other lands instead of aiding them in their glorious work. Such men do but bring dishonour upon themselves, as well as on the party to which they are attached. If, as the words of the statesmen referred to seem to imply, France has determined to prevent, under all circumstances, Rome becoming the capital of Italy, France will assuredly find herself occupying a very isolated position. Such a policy, based on dislike to the unity and independence of her neighbours, will create uneasiness and suspicion throughout Germany, hatred in Italy, and decided disapprobation among the free people of England and the United States. Russia holding down Poland will smile grimly at imperial France holding down Rome; but as to sympathy, there will be none. Nor will Austria and Hungary have any to bestow, for they are fully occupied with the arduous and noble task of internal union, progress, and liberty, upon the success of which their future prosperity depends. Very many of the sons of France will wish that her work resembled more that of the Emperor-King (Francis Joseph), instead of bearing such an unpleasant likeness to that of the Czar. “ Vive la liberté comme en Autriche!” How strange that cry, uttered but the other day in Paris by those who boast of 1789.* It may be that the French people, so full of generous impulses, will at length say: Enough of a policy advocated by those who bid us selfishly inflict upon our neighbours an interference we should not for a moment tolerate from them; enough of a conscription creating huge armaments which burden us with an ever-increasing taxation while depriving the land of tens of thou
sands of able cultivators; enough of foreign expeditions which cost France millions of money and thousands of lives; enough of a policy which hides national selfishness beneath the garb of religion, and then dares to describe it as patriotism. No neighbour threatens us; each one but asks that we interfere not with him, even as he interferes not with us. It is but just, for there are none upon our frontiers who desire to be under our government, each one being content to be united to his own fatherland. We number 38 millions, in possession of a rich and magnificent country, whose just rights we are more than able to defend. Let us leave others in peace to do as they will with their own, while we consecrate ourselves to the work of developing the resources, rights, and liberties of our noble France. So shall we worthily fill our place among the nations, and be a blessing both to ourselves and others. Pursuing steadily such a course, we cannot fail in time to reap all the rich blessings bestowed by those mighty principles of freedom and the rights of nations which we and our great forefathers have done so much to sow broadcast throughout the world.