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ITALY AND THE WAR OF 1866.
Reprinted from the “Westminster Review” of April 1867.
1. Documenti Diplomatici presentati al Parlamento dal
Ministro degli Affari Esteri, il 21 Dicembre 1866.
dei Deputati. 2. Relacione Ufficiale dell'Arciduca Alberto, sulla
Battaglia di Custoza. 3. Rapporti sulle Operazioni Militari del 23 e 24
Giugno, 1866, del Generale Lamarmora. 4. La Guerre de 1866 en Allemagne et en Italie. Par
W. RUSTOW, Colonel de Brigade. Genève et
Paris : Joël Cherbuliez, éditeur. 5. Rapporto del Vice-Ammiraglio Tegethoff, sulla Bat
taglia di Lissa. 6. Relazione sull' attacco di Lissa e sulla battaglia navale
del 20 Luglio, 1866. “Gazzetta Ufficiale." Firenze, 3 Agosto 1866.
MONG the memorable events of the last twenty
years, those of 1866 hold no secondary place; for by their instrumentality the unity of Germany
has been founded and that of Italy well-nigh completed. They have called into existence, under the direction and government of Prussia, a united northern Germany, possessed of vast and varied resources, upon whose government and people it alone depends to turn those resources to good account. Nor does it seem improbable that this new power will ultimately attract to itself the states to the south of the Main, and thus end in forming that united fatherland which has only existed hitherto in the aspirations of its children. This great change has been brought about in no slight degree by a diplomacy, often unscrupulous in the means it employed for attaining its ends, and by the war originating in the quarrels of Prussia and Austria over the spoils of the Danish monarchy, whose integrity they had bound themselves by treaties to respect. Thus the new Germany of to-day has had its immediate rise under auspices which find but little favour with those who desire that a great and worthy end should be pursued by no less worthy
It will, however, be matter for congratulation if this sin of origin be redeemed by the establishment in Germany of a political system based upon sound principles of order and of freedom. That the Germans should succeed in bestowing upon their fatherland such a system, and prevent its becoming little else than a mere military despotism, is to be desired not only for the sake of their own country, but also for that of the progress, the liberties, and the peace of Europe. It is time that Germany, inhabited by a people admirably instructed and en
dowed with so many excellent qualities, should no longer be stultified by the rivalry of its princes, or, as in days past, by the political craft and imperious will of a Nicholas of Russia ; on the contrary, Germany, placed in full possession of its just influence, should bear its part in promoting the advancement and civilisation of the world in the matter of political selfgovernment and in questions of international policy, as well as in the regions of thought, science, and literature, in each of which it holds so leading a position. That such a result may spring from the new-born unity of Germany, is the heartfelt wish of those who desire not only the welfare and progress of their own land, but also that of other countries, being, as we all are, members of the same body, the common children of a common humanity.
While the events of the past year have thus done so much towards realising a united Germany, they have all but completed the great work of Italian unity, which not ten years ago seemed but an idle dream. To the south of the Alps is to be seen a spectacle which has for centuries been the desire of the noblest and the most gifted of the sons of Italy, and which is at length realised to-day-that of their country freed from* all foreign rule, and her destinies consigned to the hands of a purely Italian government, the offspring of the nation's will, and the responsible guardian of its rights. To see a whole country thus restored to the possession of itself after having been for centuries sacrificed to the greed of foreign ambition, or to the selfish ends of its own petty rulers, is a result full of present good, and pregnant with hope for the future. It may well attract the thoughtful study of all who watch with profound interest the spectacle offered by the triumphs and the failures, the successes and the errors, the excellences and the defects, the struggles (sometimes effectual and sometimes the reverse) of Italians striving, amidst many difficulties, to establish order in the place of despotism, liberty in the place of anarchy, national independence in the place of foreign domination. To Englishmen this spectacle, which Italy offers to the world at the present time, is especially interesting, inasmuch as she has selected the principle of constitutional freedom as the means for effecting this mighty change in her internal condition-a principle which has secured to England the unspeakable blessing of a wise, a wellordered, and a progressive liberty. Indeed all, to whatever country they belong, who are sincerely attached to that or any other form of free self-government, should give Italy their cordial support in her arduous and patriotic task ; unless, indeed, despite all their loud profession of attachment to constitutional freedom, they would sacrifice its triumph to that despicable policy whose supporters proclaim that the receipt for the greatness and prosperity of their own country is the weakness, the division, and the misgovernment of their neighbours. How despicable that policy is, becomes clear enough to each
* The French occupation of Rome ceased in December 1866, but was resumed in October 1867. The circumstances under which that reoccupation took place are discussed in the next (4th) Essay.
of us when we see it adopted by others. Thus Englishmen are fully alive to its unworthiness when they hear a certain class of French politicians speak with undisguised ill-will of Italian or German unity and freedom; on the other hand, its unworthiness becomes not less obvious to Frenchmen when they remember how a certain class of English politicians desired and predicted the breaking up of the United States, the wish being father to the thought. But every true friend of progress and civilisation should protest against this despicable and odious policy, begotten of petty jealousy and the narrowest selfishness, absolutely opposed to all that is elevated and generous, utterly unworthy of nations who boast that they are great and who call themselves Christian.
To give a truthful sketch of what has taken place in Italy during the year 1866 is the object of the present article; yet such a sketch must necessarily be, at the best, imperfect; for the events of which it treats are too near to allow of all their details being fully known, and the feelings they excited are still too vivid to admit of a perfectly calm and impartial estimate being formed of those events and of their results. Whoever, then, seeks to make himself acquainted with them must for the present be content with an approximative judgment as to the share of praise or blame to be bestowed upon the Italians for their conduct during the past year, and upon their leading men, whose arduous task it has been to direct the nation's destinies at this decisive moment of the nation's history. It should, moreover, be borne in