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Garibaldi


Garibaldi - His views on the Peace - Interview with Victor Emmanuel - The Ratazzi Ministry - Garibaldi and Italian Unity - His Operations in Central Italy - He issues a Proclamation to the Volunteers - Jealousy regarding him - Resignation of Ratazzi - Cavour again in Office - Nice - Sacrifice of Savoy - Rome and Venetia - Garibaldi and his Army - View of Cavour on this Expedition - They start for Sicily - Their Campaign.
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Amidst all that was doubtful, ambiguous, or perplexing in the Italian revolution, which resulted so happily in the establishment of the Kingdom of United Italy under the constitutional government of Victor Emmanuel, there was, at least, one character which always appeared without a shadow - which shone with unclouded lustre to the end. Garibaldi was the real hero of the Italian war. He was the man of action, who realised the great thoughts of Mazzini. If the latter was the first to conceive the idea of Italian unity, it was the former that made it a fact. " If," as an eloquent writer has said, " it was Mazzini's thought that leaped into Garibaldi's deed," and " that the great deed was set shining in the dazzle of a great renown," it should be recollected that the man of action must be capable of conceiving and appreciating the thought, and must at the same time possess the courage and capacity of seizing the opportunity of giving it effect. The grandest and truest thoughts avail little in carrying out a mission of national regeneration and independence, without a courageous heart to brave the power of tyranny, and a strong arm to wield the sword of the liberator. No doubt the one character is necessary to the other in a work of the kind; and it is true, as the writer just quoted remarks, that the man of thought spends himself in giving rootage to that new life which is destined to burst into full flower in the victories of a man of action like Garibaldi; and that the many can appreciate the glory of the flower, while only the few think of the rootage taken in the dark.

"We have already referred to Garibaldi's preliminary operations as General of the Cacciatari, and to his successful skirmishing with the Austrians, till he reached the soil of Lombardy, after encountering difficulties almost insurmountable, which were greatly aggravated by the want of due support from his own Government. It is stated by one of his officers that the Sardinian minister had promised him 10,000 men, well armed, with a battery and a squadron of cavalry; but he broke his promise, closed the enrolment as soon as 4,500 had enlisted, and there left him without cannon or horses, with the exception of a few Guides, f Yet so admirable were his tactics, that the Austrian General Urban, at the head of 10,000 excellent troops, never succeeded in isolating and surrounding the 3,000 Cacciatari. In a proclamation to the inhabitants of Brescia, the General said - " The joyous demonstrations with which you have received the Chasseurs of the Alps give new proofs of your patriotic enthusiasm. You have shown that, as zealous guardians of your recovered independence you are resolved to defend it with your lives, and to consecrate it with your blood. The enemy leave, wherever they go, traces of their barbarity and their execrable domination, now finally overthrown. Then, unfurl the tri-coloured banner, the idol of our hearts, and you will command the love and the courage of your country! Let the glorious Italo-French armies, in delivering you from your enemies, find you worthy of your liberators."

The campaign of Garibaldi in the Valteline displayed uniformly the qualities of a great general, and extorted the admiration of the enemy. the Austrian officers encamped on the Stelvio spoke of him in the highest terms of praise, and thought him a truly wonderful man; as for the Croats, they firmly believed that he was the son of the devil. Garibaldi, it may well be supposed, felt as deeply as Cavour the blow inflicted on the hitherto triumphant cause of his country by the French Emperor in the treaty of Villafranca. When Cavour resigned, the General went to the King to give up hia commission, with all the officers of his corps; but Victor Emmanuel said - " No; Italy still requires the legions you command, and you must remain." Garibaldi consented. Then followed in Italian affairs a period of uncertainty, perplexity, confusion, and mystery. The " Ratazzi Ministry had no settled plans, and not knowing what was best to do, did nothing." The Sardinian envoys were recalled from the duchies and the Romagna; Garibaldi was requested to resign the command of the AEmilian army; the vote of the different provincial parliaments for annexation to Sardinia was neither refused nor accepted; the nomination of Prince Carignano to the regency of the provinces was declined, and Buon Campagni, who had not been asked for, was sent in his stead. The organisation of the Sardinian army also was neglected, and the incorporation of the Lombard provinces with Piedmont was conducted so inefficiently as to cause great discontent. The policy of Napoleon towards Italy had indeed been treacherous. In nothing that he had achieved had he gained the confidence of the Italians. His words were deemed enigmas; his deeds regarded with suspicion; his most solemn promises bore no weight with a people who felt that they were betrayed at the very hour when deliverance was within their grasp. Unfortunately, since the luckless day when the treaty of Villafranca was signed, the conduct of Napoleon had been dark: a more inauspicious affair than that transaction had never been recorded by history. It left nothing complete, and everything to be settled. All those manifestations of sympathy which were exhibited towards him, when it was supposed that the French came as liberators, ceased on his second appearance at Milan; no more bouquets, no more ovations, no more crowns. His troops were looked upon then as the obedient janissaries of a capricious sultan; there was silence accordingly; there was vacancy. In vain the French regiments entered the cities, trumpets sounding and drums beating; the windows remained closed, and the inhabitants kept silence; or perhaps a single form was seen - that of a beautiful woman in deep mourning: at once a satire and a protest against the cowardly and treacherous peace. The two Emperors disposed of Lombardy exactly as if the King of Sardinia had no existence. Francis Joseph yielded it to Napoleon, who passed it on to Victor Emmanuel. Was it for this that the Piedmontese Sovereign gained the battle of San Martino? that Garibaldi cleared the mountain tracks of Lombardy of the Austrians? that two Sardinian divisions covered the left wing or the French army, and contributed to the victory of Solferino? Was it for this that the Piedmontese army was upon the point of taking Peschiera, and that Garibaldi cut off the enemy's communications with Germany by the Stelvio It is now almost universally supposed that wherever the French went they did everything; the ally was only an accomplice. As in the Crimea, so in Italy, the French contrived to throw their allies into the shade, and to monopolise to themselves the attention of the world.

Garibaldi, however, did not lose heart under these discouraging circumstances; on the contrary, he issued an order of the day, in which he said: Whatever may be the march of existing circumstances, Italians must neither lay aside their arms nor be discouraged. They ought, on the contrary, to increase in number in the ranks, to testify to Europe that, guided by their King, Victor Emmanuel, they are ready to face again the vicissitudes of war, whatever they may be. Perhaps at the moment we least expect it the signal of alarm may again be sounded. It happened as he wished. At the suggestion of Count Cavour, he was sent to Florence as commander-in-chief of the army of Central Italy. On his arrival in that city he issued a proclamation, in which he said: "Italians of the Centre! - It is only a few months since we said to the Lombards, 'Your brothers of all the provinces have sworn to conquer or die with us.' And the Austrians know whether we have kept our word. To-morrow we shall say to you what we then said to the Lombards; and the noble cause of your country will find you drawn up on the first field of battle. Returned to your homes, forget not, amidst the embraces of those who are dear to you, the gratitude which you owe to Napoleon and to the heroic French nation, whose sons, wounded mutilated, still suffer on the bed of pain for the cause of Italy." "Wherever Garibaldi went through Tuscany, in his tour of inspection, the inhabitants received him with unbounded joy. He accepted all the demonstrations gladly, as inspired by devotion to their country and loyalty to Victor Emmanuel; but this did not save him from the jealousy of the generals of the regular army, particularly Delia Marmora, who refused to recognise Garibaldi's nominations, and gave orders to dismiss all the volunteers from Central Italy, that they might serve in their own province. It is stated that as many as 18,000 or 20,000 of these passed through Modena; but not one could be induced to enter the regular army, so sickened were they of their Piedmontese experience; but all were ready to follow Garibaldi. General Panti, who had resigned the chief command of the army, became Minister of War at Modena, and thwarted Garibaldi in every possible manner; going so far as even to send confidential messages to his officers, warning them not to execute his orders. These studied annoyances were designed to cause the high-spirited General to give up his command, in compliance, it is Relieved, with the desire of the French Emperor. In consequence of these intrigues Garibaldi retired. This event caused a profound sensation of regret throughout Italy, and was regarded as a heavy discouragement to the national cause. Garibaldi was the idol of the Italian troops. " No man in our day," says Colonel Chambers, "has been so universally adored. The women love him for his chivalry; the great mass of the people for his intrepidity and simplicity of character; and to follow him was to follow honour and virtue. In Central Italy he was the most splendid personification of the national sentiment; a separation from him was for all a sad misfortune, inasmuch as many believed the national cause was abandoned and lost for ever. It was to check such a belief, and to prevent it from gaining ground, that Garibaldi issued the following proclamation to his companions in arms in Central Italy: 'Let not my temporary absence cool your ardour for the holy cause that we defend. In separating myself from you, whom I love as the representatives of the idea of the Italian deliverance, I am downcast and sad; but consolation comes in the certainty that I shall very soon be amongst you again, to aid you in finishing the work so gloriously begun. For you, as for me, the greatest of all possible misfortunes would be not to be present whenever there is fighting for Italy. Young men, you who have sworn to Italy and the chief who will lead you to victory, lay not down your arms; remain firm at your post; continue your exercises, and persevere in the soldier's discipline. We desire to invade no foreign soil; let us remain unmolested in our own. Whosoever attempts to gainsay this, our determination, Will find that we will never be slaves, unless they succeed in crushing by force an entire people ready to die for liberty. I say again, do not lay down your arms; rally more closely than ever to your chiefs, and maintain the strictest discipline. Fellow-citizens, let not a man in Italy omit to contribute his mite to the national subscription, and let no one fail to clean his rifle, so as to be ready, perhaps to-morrow, when we may obtain by force that which, to-day, they hesitate to grant to our just rights.' "

Garibaldi had set on foot a subscription for a million of rifles to arm the volunteers; his demand was liberally responded to in England and elsewhere. His resignation did not check this movement. Scarcely a day passed on which he did not receive numbers of letters from Italy, as well as from abroad, announcing new subscriptions. The Garibaldi subscription had become more and more a demonstration in favour of Italian unity, as well as a practical means of arming the people. Even the Venetians took part in it, in spite of the espionage of the Austrian police. The position of the General became extremely difficult, in consequence of the intrigues with which he was surrounded, in order to get him out of the way. It was generally understood to be the desire of the Emperor of the French to form a kingdom in Central Italy, of which Prince Napoleon would be the sovereign; and the great obstacle to this design was the boundless influence of Garibaldi, and his well-known determination to frustrate all such schemes. One fact is mentioned, which would seem to implicate the King, or some of his Ministers, in a plot to put Garibaldi hors de combat by treachery. In the course of the campaign on the lakes, he received instructions from the King to attack the Austrians from a certain point, being informed that the manoeuvre was necessary to the plan of the campaign, and receiving a promise that he would be supported by the Piedmontese army. The promised support did not come - a result which he feared, and, therefore, advanced cautiously. Colonel Chambers states that had he attacked in earnest his little army must have been entirely destroyed. Colonel Exalbion expresses a similar opinion. "For three or four days," he writes, "Garibaldi was supposed to be lost - either cut to pieces or forced to fly into Switzerland. It was asserted that he had been betrayed into that false position by a promise to send him reinforcements, and that the promise was purposely broken, in order to get rid of a man who had it in his power to become dangerous; and to destroy the reputation of the volunteers, and take away from the people all idea of conquering by their own efforts, leaving them no hope save in the regular army."

In January, 1860, the Ratazzi Cabinet resigned, and Count Cavour was charged with the formation of a new ministry. At the general election, Garibaldi was returned as a member of the chamber for Nice, his native city, the authorities, at the same time, presenting him with a sword of honour. Soon after the conclusion of peace, rumours were rife that Nice and Savoy were to be surrendered to France, as a reward for her services. This was deemed incredible, for the French Emperor had emphatically disclaimed any interested motives or any desire for the acquisition of territory, and it could not be supposed that Victor Emmanuel would ever consent to alienate the cradle of his dynasty. When Cavour was questioned on the subject by Garibaldi, he distinctly denied that he had ever dreamt of such a thing. This denial was often repeated; but when the fact of a secret compact to this effect became notorious, the Emperor authorised Lord John Russell to assure the House of Commons that, however, confident in the justice of his claim, he would not take any step to carry it into effect without first consulting the great powers of Europe. Yet he shortly afterwards quietly entered into possession, without troubling them on the subject. As all civil and military functionaries in the ceded provinces were to retain their respective ranks, Garibaldi would have become a general of division in the French army; but he at once and decidedly declared that his choice was Italy, and that he intended to remain a subject of King Victor Emmanuel. The Times' correspondent stated that "the only plausible defence of the Sardinian Government was in these pithy words, 'needs must, where the - (Emperor) drives.' " Not a word of discussion on the subject was permitted by Cavour in the Sardinian Chamber; and without any appeal to his Parliament, the King withdrew his governors and his troops; whereupon Savoy and Nice were immediately occupied by French soldiers. On the 12th of April, Garibaldi, in his place in the chamber, made an attempt to defeat the scheme by showing that the transfer of territory without the consent of Parliament was unconstitutional and illegal. He showed also that the moral pressure put upon Nice rendered the appeal to universal suffrage a mockery; that bribery and threats had been freely used to secure the majority of votes. He moved, therefore, that the voting be put off till the Piedmontese Parliament had fully deliberated on the subject. His motion was lost; but his effort to save the fair city - which was an Italian city, which had fought for the common cause - won for him an enthusiastic reception from the people outside, by whom he was actually carried away in triumph. The first act of the Italian Parliament was to ratify the sale of the people of Nice. This transaction caused an irreconcilable breach between Garibaldi and Cavour. The General was obliged to content himself with "protesting against the act of fraud and of violence just committed." It was, however, asserted in some quarters that Cavour sacrificed his own popularity to save that of the King. It is difficult, in any view of the subject, to acquit Victor Emmanuel of some duplicity. When the deputation from Nice were received at the palace, they were assured that all rumours of the cession were groundless, and that their King would be the first to protest against such a measure. The Times' correspondent, alluding to these transactions between Piedmont and France, threw much of the blame upon the Prime Minister, and at the same time cast a shadow upon the lustre of his character. " Cavour," he remarked, " accustomed as he was to the exercise of a very absolute power within the cabinet, in which he frequently took two or even three portfolios upon his own shoulders; to rouse and to lull at his pleasure, to browbeat, and sometimes even to bully the Parliament - Cavour never stopped to consider the nature of a promise which bound him to the sale or barter of rational beings, and gave himself as little concern about it as if they were dumb cattle." The best apology that can be offered for both Victor Emmanuel and Count Cavour is, that in order to accomplish the great object they had in view, they felt it necessary to dissimulate. They had come to the conclusion that it was utterly impossible to drive the legions of Austria out of Italy without the aid of France; and by secret conference with Louis Napoleon, they had learned that this aid could not be obtained without the surrender of Savoy and Nice. The King avowed that the sacrifice of Savoy was one of the most painful that could be demanded; but if not made, the cause of Italian independence was lost. On the other hand, if the Italian people, full of the spirit of enthusiasm with which Garibaldi had inspired them, had been aware of the bargain made with the professedly disinterested liberator, the King would have lost all his influence, and, in all probability, the states of Central Italy would not have voted as they did, almost unanimously, for annexation with Piedmont. The principle that the end justifies the means, does not seem so repugnant to morality in the minds of the subtle Italians as in those of the northern races. Besides, it must be remembered that the moment Cavour felt the Italian cause was strong enough to assert its independence of the French Emperor, he did not hesitate to advise that course. Accordingly, when that Minister came into office, undeterred by the threat of France to withdraw from the contest, and to leave Sardinia to contend alone against Austria and Naples, he, on the part of his country, boldly accepted the position, and declared himself ready to risk all the consequences of annexation. This measure was voted unanimously in the provinces of Tuscany, Parma, Modena, and the Romagna, the population almost to a man rejecting the claims of their hereditary sovereigns and the pretensions of Prince Napoleon. Thus, so far, the idea of United Italy was realised; and, however mortified the Emperor might be at having his darling scheme frustrated, he could not attempt to undo his own work, to reimpose the yoke he had broken, or to disregard a state of things resulting from universal suffrage.

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