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Bonaparte handed over to her (Austria) Venice, and to those of 1815, which once again placed Venice in the possession of Austria."
Never, in the course of his long and remarkable career, did Lord Palmerston display more far-sighted sagacity than in his Austro-Italian despatches of 184849. Never have predictions been uttered which subsequent events more completely ratified. It is curious to reflect that it was at that very time the fashion to call him a mere meddler, and to decry his policy with a persistency as ignorant as it was unjust. Had his wise counsels been followed in the years referred to, immense would have been the gain, not only to Italy, but to Europe and to Austria.* As he so justly pointed out to this latter power, her Italian possessions have been nothing but a source of embarrassment and disaster. They have been the scene of that oppressive and cruel rule, from 1849 to 1859, which alienated from Austria the sympathy of all lovers of freedom and of justice. They cost her the blood, the treasure, and the disasters of that latter year, when, left without an ally, she was brought into the utmost peril. They are the reason why, at this very hour, an Italian army of 300,000 men, and a fleet more powerful than her own, menace the southern
* No one more constantly and consistently supported the policy of effecting a complete separation between Italy and Austria than Sir James Hudson, who so ably represented England at the court of Turin from January 1852 to August 1863. He rightly believed that the absolute severance of those two countries, and the formation of an independent and free Italian kingdom would be beneficial alike to Austria and Italy.
frontier and ports of Austria, when she needs all her strength to oppose the policy and armaments of Prussia. Had the statesmen of Vienna wisely followed Lord Palmerston's advice, given seventeen years ago, and consented to the formation of a northern Italian kingdom, with an Alpine frontier, running somewhere between Trent and Bolzano, and including Venetia within its limits, Austria would have escaped all the disasters and difficulties of the last fifteen years, and would not see Italy to-day arrayed in hostility against her. Indeed, the gain would have been greater still; for commercial interests and intercourse would, long ere this, have sprung up, and necessarily drawn together in friendly relation Italy on the one side, and Austria, with Germany, upon the other. Instead of the ruinous expenditure caused by the creation and maintenance of enormous armaments of every kind, a lucrative commerce would now be enriching both countries, and erasing the old feelings of hatred engendered by past wrongs.
It was in April 1848 that Daniel Manin, then President of the Republic of Venice, wrote the following lines, in an official despatch addressed to the French and English governments : “ Venise affranchie ne saurait donner de l'ombrage. Venise autrichienne serait une honte pour le présent et un embarras pour l'avenir :” “A free Venice can give no offence : an Austrian Venice will be a present shame and a future embarrassment.” The world, and especially Austria, know to-day, (May 1866,) how true those words were
Happy would it have been, judged only as matter of policy, (or even from a mere money-point of view, without entering into higher considerations) had the wise and far-sighted advice of England's minister been followed, and that “future embarrassment” been got rid of–happy for Italy, happy for Europe, and happy for Austria herself.
As to the claims of Venetians to settle freely their own future, they have the support alike of policy and justice; more especially after the conduct of Germany, and particularly that of Prussia and Austria, in the question of the Duchies of the Elbe. To every sophism urged by Germans, Austrian or other, for the maintenance of German rule in Italy, there is today this short but unanswerable reply, SchleswigHolstein. Let statesmen and diplomatists be well assured that there can be no lasting peace until Germans and German powers cease to hold Italian provinces beneath their yoke. To patch up a peace, leaving those provinces in such thraldom, is a worse evil than setting them free by immediate war.
If Austria were once again to have Italy in her power as completely as in 1850, not only would it be a calamity to Italy but to Europe, for so surely would it entail a lengthened period of conflict and revolution, so surely would it bring in its train such years as 1848 and 1859. Upon such a basis there can be no enduring peace for Europe. Those, then, who prize that rich blessing, those who uphold order and justice, no less than those who love freedom, are interested in delivering every portion of Italy from foreign rule.
Those who would maintain it are favouring that which does but lay up countless and certain stores of future disorder, revolution, and war.
The cause of Italy is the cause of liberty and order, of right and justice, of all that is held most dear by every people under heaven, of all the most precious among temporal rights that man can claim or God bestow; therefore the voice of every free nation, and especially that of England, (the ancient cradle, the island home of liberty and law,) should be raised in support of Italy's just claims-that most beautiful of southern lands, so long oppressed by the curse of tyranny and the miseries of anarchy. There, to-day, are to be seen a patriot king, a free parliament, a brave army, and a noble people, all equally devoted to the sacred cause of their country's freedom ; there the millions of enfranchised Italy, without distinction of rank or age, are united in an heroic determination to deliver, once for all, their native land from foreign thraldom, and prepared to seal her freedom with their , blood :
“ Già le destre hanno strette le destre;
Già le sacre parole son porte :
O fratelli su libero suol."- MANZONI.
It may be that even such a sight will fail to move those who proclaim cheapness to be the highest good, the desire of all nations, who never rise above the
business point of view, who have no thought, save for material interest and personal loss or gain, who know no higher law than that of buying in the cheapest market and selling in the dearest, who hold no book so sacred as the ledger, who, in their blind devotion to the golden idol of their worship, forget the Divine claims of justice and liberty, of a nation's freedom, and a people's rights.
But whoever has faith in those mighty principles, whoever believes that they are the God-given heritage of all mankind, will turn with deepest sympathy to Italy's brave sons, who, rallied around their chosen king, are "to-day (1866) soldiers, that they may be to-morrow the free citizens of a great country."* To them will be given an earnest “God-speed” whereever justice reigns; for them the free men of every land and of every clime will raise to Heaven the heartfelt prayer, “May God defend the right."
* It is well.to remind the reader that these words are taken from the proclamation of Napoleon III., dated Milan, 8th June 1859:—“Ne soyez aujourd 'hui que soldats ; demain vous serez les citoyens d'un grand pays.”