Page images
PDF
EPUB

which greatly need them. Ports, harbours, bridges, canals, and lighthouses are being made or repaired. Industrial societies and public companies are growing in numbers and prospering, the government and the municipalities favouring and aiding them in every way.

The parliament has already done very much in the vast and intricate work of administrative, legislative, judiciary, and monetary reform. Previous to 1860, the country was divided into seven separate states, whose rulers endeavoured to keep the Italian people as much divided as possible. They fostered all the local jealousies, prejudices, and petty interests to the utmost, and impeded by their custom-houses, their different coinages, their varying systems of administration, law, and usage, the union, liberty, and progress of Italy.

The enlightened and beneficent work of the constitutional government which now rules has been, on the contrary, that of overthrowing local prejudices and interests for the sake of promoting the general welfare. It has broken down separating barriers, and united, both materially and morally, these common children of a common country. In this double work of demolition and reconstruction, the parliament and people of Italy have displayed patience and prudence, mingled with earnest and persevering efforts to found upon just and wise principles a good and enduring system of government. If much remains to do, yet assuredly very much has been already done, and the work continues to progress.

The general state of Continental Europe, and the peculiar condition of the Italian kingdom, with foreign powers still in possession of portions of its territory, and with a powerful enemy encamped within the famous Quadrilateral, has necessitated the creation and maintenance of a large army and fleet; the Italians not wishing to have as their only available weapon against foreign foes that moral support, that thunder of despatches and articles, whose aid proved so ineffectual in the recent cases of Poland and of Denmark. This necessary military work has been accomplished, so that the Italian nation is to-day able to vindicate its just claims with something more than moral force to sustain them.

But all these vast undertakings have severely taxed the financial resources of the country, which have not had time in six years to grow in proportion to the immediate outlay necessitated by so many and such important demands. Hence the deficits and financial difficulties of the moment. It is, however, a mistake to suppose that they present anything like hopeless embarrassment. There is nothing but what time, economy, and prudence can surely put right, Space will not allow this interesting and important subject to be dealt with in the present article. But those who desire to form a true idea of Italy's financial difficulties and financial resources, of the great work she has done and is doing, cannot do better than study Signor Galeotti's work, “ La Prima Legislatura del Regno d'Italia." There assuredly they will find the full confirmation of the saying attributed to Cavour_“If Italy wishes to be free, she must pay, pay, and pay again.” But there they will also learn that if much remains to be done, vast has been the work already accomplished; that rulers and people are alike determined to shrink from no sacrifice required for the completion of Italian union and independence; that they possess in themselves and in their country resolution and resources sufficient to overcome the difficulties and the dangers yet to be encountered in completing the glorious task. The might of freedom, justice, and right is on their side, and though dark and stormy be the present hour, (May 1866,) though to-day the sky be black with the thunder-clouds of imminent war, theirs shall be the final victory. It is but the history of all struggles for liberty that the world has ever seen. It is but the universal law, that no great and good object can be attained or carried out, by nations or by individuals, without costly labour and exertion. There can be no freedom unless the price for obtaining it be paid, no leaving the house of bondage save by signs and by wonders, no entering into the promised land without toiling through the wilderness of privation and of suffering-in a word, no redemption without sacrifice.

As to the attitude of Italy at the present hour, it is but that which would be assumed by every other nation in the like circumstances. She finds Austria and Prussia on the point of coming to blows over their Danish spoils, and the latter willing to enter into an Italian alliance. The occasion is unique; for hitherto the vast majority of Germans have been in

F

favour of aiding Austria to retain possession of Venetia, whenever that possession has been endangered. The National German Assembly at Frankfort, in 1848, where there was full freedom of vote and voice, presented the spectacle, at once ludicrous and shameful, of declaring that Germany ought to possess itself of Schleswig-Holstein, but should at the same time support Austria in maintaining her' hold upon Venetia.

There are those who talk of the necessity of the frontier of the Mincio as a protection to Germany. Frontier! Necessity! What frontier have Germans left to Denmark? What forbearance have they manifested for Danish necessities? Have they not taken even to the uttermost farthing? In this matter German Powers have pronounced judgment without mercy against their weaker neighbour; therefore judgment without mercy shall be their portion. Let the facts of the case be looked to. The German Confederation numbers 44,000,000; Austria, without Venetia and the Italian Tyrol, 32,000,000; Italy, with those two provinces, rather more than 25,000,000. Between these German and Italian lands rises the great barrier of the Alps, (like the Pyrenees between France and Spain,) yet the more powerful retains possession of a large province of Italy to the south of the Alps as being necessary to German security; and that after the conduct of Germany towards Denmark in the matter of Schleswig-Holstein.

If it be said that the Italian kingdom has no claim to Venetia, because that province has never belonged to the kingdom of Italy, it is sufficient to reply, first, that the desire of Italians to possess Venetia is only the echo of Venetian longing to be united to Italy; next, that Venetians and Italians only ask for Venetia that which Austria so loudly demands for the Duchies of the Elbe-freedom to choose their own sovereign.

Let it also be remembered that Italy did not create the present danger of war now (May 1866) so imminent; she has but taken advantage of her German oppressor's quarrels to assert her own rights by negotiation, or by arms, as the case may be. To those who advise her to wait she replies by asking : Until when? Until German Powers have made up their differences ? Until it suits those who, in full possession of all their rights and liberties, find their business affairs deranged by Italian demands for the like blessings ? Are not such advisers the very same as those who told Italy in 1859 that she had nothing to gain by war? Or shall she wait until moral force delivers Venetia from Austrian rule ? Italians surely may be pardoned if they are sceptical about the efficacy of such aid, considering what a broken reed it proved to Poland and to Denmark. It was not mere moral force, able despatches, and eloquent writing, but far sterner work, that gave Italy her present position, her fleet, her artillery, and her

army of 300,000 men. To-day she relies on bringing them to bear upon the work of completing her deliverance at a time when the two great German Powers are in hostile array against each other.

Experienced Piedmontese generals and officers, men not given to boasting, not blinded by enthusiasm,

« PreviousContinue »