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Chapter LXII, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8


Opening of the Session - Visit of the Prince of Wales to America- Death of the Duchess of Kent - Italian Affairs - Siege and Fall of Gaeta - Death of Cavour - American Affairs in 1861 and previously - Causes of Disruption - Tariff - Slavery - John Brown - Election of Mr. Lincoln - Secession of South Carolina - The Two Inaugurals - Fort Sumter - More Secessions - England's Proclamation of Neutrality - Battle of Bull Run - State of the West - Affair of the Trent - Session of 1861 - Repeal of the Paper Duty - Deaths of Lord Herbert and Sir James Graham - Founding of the Order of the Star of India - The Volunteers.
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The session of 1861 was opened on the 5th of February, by the Queen in person, who informed her Parliament, among other matters, that the operations of the allied forces in China had met with complete success; that, having become masters of Peken, an honourable settlement had been obtained, and that the two plenipotentiaries had acted with the most friendly concert; and that her heartfelt wish was that the differences which had arisen between the Northern and Southern States of the American Union might be susceptible of a satisfactory adjustment, adding that the interest which she took in the well-being of the people of the United States could not but be increased by the kind and cordial reception given by them to the Prince of Wales during his recent visit to the continent of America. She also was glad to take the opportunity of expressing her warm appreciation of the loyalty and attachment to her person manifested by the Canadians on the occasion of the residence of the Prince of Wales among them. The Prince arrived in America on the 24th of July, 1860, and remained there till the 20th of October. During his tour he was everywhere received with the greatest enthusiasm, the people of the United States vieing with the Queen's subjects in Canada in the honours paid to him in popular demonstrations, addresses, and ovations. If he were to be their own sovereign, and if they were royalists of the highest type, they could not have manifested greater ardour than they did wherever his Royal Highness went. Not the least interesting incident connected with this tour was his visit to the tomb of Washington. It was really a touching and suggestive scene - the great-grandson of George III., and heir apparent to the throne of England, thus paying honour to the memory of the illustrious champion of American independence, and standing in pensive reflection besides his monument.

The thanks of both Houses were voted to the troops forming the Chinese expedition, for their " brilliant services, performed under circumstances of considerable difficulty, with the greatest skill, gallantry, and intrepidity." Having performed this grateful duty, Parliament was called upon to discharge another, of a more solemn kind. The Duchess of Kent died on the 16th of March, 1861, aged seventy-five years. She had throughout her life enjoyed the respect of the public, and won the gratitude of the empire, by the excellent manner in which she had educated and trained the Princess Victoria for her high destiny as Queen of England. The princess was the only child of her second marriage. In the twelfth year of her age her royal mother was unanimously chosen by Parliament as regent of the kingdom in the event of the sovereign's death while his successor was in her minority. Six years afterwards she saw her daughter, at the early age of eighteen, placed in the most difficult and responsible position that any one of her age and sex could possibly occupy, as the ruler of one of the greatest empires in the world. Soon after she saw the Queen freely contracting a marriage which had led to a degree of domestic happiness not to be surpassed in any sphere of life. She witnessed her daughter's reign for nearly a quarter of a century, during times of national glory and prosperity quite unexampled. She had seen her bring up a numerous family in a manner that gave promise of their emulating her own virtues. One of these, the Princess Royal, she saw married to the Crown Prince of Prussia, and becoming the mother of a son who will probably be the king of that country. She had seen the other children of the Queen visiting various parts of the world, and by their conduct strengthening the feelings of veneration and affection with which their royal mother was everywhere regarded. It is the usual lot of royal families that mothers and daughters are separated at an early period of the life of the children. But in the present case the mother and daughter had been constantly together, their daily intercourse being that of mutual affection and reciprocal confidence. I'fc was natural, therefore, that Her Majesty, who had been so good a daughter, should severely feel the stroke which at length severed the happy connection, It was the first time that death had invaded her family circle, the duke, her father, having died when she was an infant. Addresses of condolence on this melancholy over were therefore unanimously adopted by both Houses - that of the Upper House being moved by Earl Granville, and seconded by the Earl of Derby; and that of the Lower House by Lord Palmerston, and seconded by Mr. Disraeli, who thus happily concluded his speech: - "For the great grief which has fallen on the Queen there is only one source of human consolation - the recollection of unbroken devotedness to the being whom we have loved and whom we have lost. This tranquil and sustaining memory is the inheritance of our Sovereign. It is generally supposed that the anguish of affection is scarcely compatible with the pomp of power; but that is not so in the present instance. She who reigns over us has elected, amid all the splendour of empire, to establish her life on the principle of domestic love. It is this - it is the remembrance and consciousness of this - which now sincerely saddens the public spirit, and permits a nation to bear its heartfelt sympathy to the foot of a bereaved throne, and whisper solace even to a royal heart."

In the debate on the Address in answer to the Queen's Speech, the affairs of Italy were discussed, and the conduct of the ministry canvassed or criticised. This opportunity may therefore serve for completing the history of the Neapolitan Revolution, which we brought down to the departure of Garibaldi from Naples, on the 9th of November, 1860.

Early in October the Sardinian Chambers met at Turin, and passed an act authorising the king to annex to his dominions any provinces of Central or Southern Italy the people of which should, by a plebiscite or other public declaration of their wishes, invite such annexation. Count Cavour read to the Chambers a ministerial statement, in which, after explaining and justifying the conduct of the Government with reference to late events, he advised that the question of the occupation of Rome itself should be suspended, and have time to mellow. " Ruin," he said, " would certainly befall Italy from any intention to combat the armies of France. So monstrous an ingratitude would inflict on the brow of our country a stain which long centuries of suffering would not efface." Now the "ingratitude" of Italy towards France could not surely consist in the mere fact of Piedmontese soldiers crossing swords with French; Cavour must have meant that it would be monstrous ingratitude if, after having been laid by France under incalculable obligations, the new kingdom were to attempt to gain an object which it lay deep at the heart of France to prevent her from gaining. When, therefore, disasters at home forced France in 1870 to withdraw her troops from Rome, gratitude and honour should, according to the judgment of Cavour himself, have withheld the Italian Government from choosing just the moment of the temporary weakness of their great benefactress to attack and annex the small remainder of the Papal States.

The King of Naples, as has been mentioned, retired within the walls of Gaeta, a fortress on the sea-coast, near the northern frontier of the Neapolitan States. Could the Piedmontese have invested the place simultaneously by land and sea, the siege would have been quickly over. But the Emperor Napoleon, whose projects for a confederation of Italian States had all been defeated by the masterly policy of Cavour and the rapid march of events, could not bring himself to allow the immediate consummation of the triumph of Piedmont. A French squadron, commanded by Vice-Admiral de Tinan, lay at anchor in the bay off Gaeta, and the Sardinian fleet, under Admiral Persano, remained at a respectful distance. But as the Emperor had no intention of giving active aid to the King of Naples, but merely designed to break his fall, the position, from the first a false, soon became an impossible one; and on the 19th of January, 1861, the French fleet was withdrawn. Admiral Persano then blockaded the place by sea; the defence, however, was gallantly maintained for some weeks longer, and it was not till the 13th of February that Gaeta capitulated to General Cialdini. The king and his dauntless consort, who had shared the alarms and dangers of the siege, embarked on board a French steamer, and took up their residence at Rome.

Thus, with the exception of Venetia, and that small portion of the Papal States known as the Patrimony of St. Peter, a territory measuring about a hundred and twenty miles by forty, the whole of Italy was united under the Sardinian crown. The new Italian Parliament met at Turin a few days after the surrender of Gaeta, and the first measure which it passed was a bill declaring Victor Emmanuel King of Italy. Instructed by the example of Napoleon in the advantages of submitting the question, what government they will live under, to the vote of the people, when a strong government manages the polls, and overawes the objectors, the Italian Government resorted to universal suffrage, and obtained an overwhelming majority of Neapolitan voices in favour of transferring the crown to Victor Emmanuel. Nevertheless, a large proportion of the population was dissatisfied with the change. The flame of resistance still burned strongly in the mountains of the Abruzzi, and was only gradually extinguished by the measures of sanguinary repression employed by the Piedmontese. That the system of government long pursued at Naples was radically bad is undeniable; that the Grand Duke of Tuscany and the Pope had lost the confidence and affection of perhaps the majority of their subjects, by leaning upon the arm, and truckling to the despotic maxim3 of alien Austria, seems also indisputable. That the whole of Italy should be consolidated into one nation, under one government, may well be regarded as a great boon to the Italians, and a positive gain to foreign nations, although the terrible social disorganisation and wide-spread discontent at this day (1872) pervading the Peninsula compel us to regard the advantages of unification as still, in a great measure, future rather than actual. But no recognised standard of political or individual morality can be so applied to the proceedings of Victor Emmanuel and the Italian Government towards Francis II. as to clear them of the guilt of duplicity and treachery. The King of Sardinia, about the time when Garibaldi had set forth on his expedition, had assured his Neapolitan brother of his friendly sentiments, and repudiated all participation with the adventurer; yet when Garibaldi had done all that red shirts, contagious enthusiasm, and excitable southern temperaments, could effect, and stood powerless before armed bastions, and a disciplined resistance, Victor Emmanuel, in his zeal for the interests of peace and order, fraternises with Garibaldi, profits by all that he has done, though intending to dispense with him for the future, and suppresses by main force the efforts which Francis II. and the large section of the Neapolitans which still adhered to him were making to retrieve their fortunes. Such a policy may be suited to the countrymen of Machiavelli; its intrinsic character, from strong approval of its results, may be lightly passed > over by the Liberal statesmen of other nations; but history, which has, or ought to have, no other interest but truth, will not hesitate to brand the treacherous annexation of Naples with a sentence of condemnation.

The great statesman to whose foresight and sagacity the Italians owed so much, was not long spared to preside over the councils of the united nation which ho had formed. The reorganisation of the Neapolitan kingdom was the subject with him of deep thought and much painful anxiety all through the spring. He desired to govern it constitutionally, and he could find no Neapolitans to agree with him in the opinion that their country was ripe for such a government, or qualified to aid him in administering it. He was urged to declare the whole kingdom in a state of siege, as the only means of suppressing disorders, fomented, it was said, by priestly intrigues and the money of exiles. But he hesitated to take this advice, and in the tension of thought thus occasioned, the fatal disease which was to cut short his days found and struck him. On the 30th of May he was seized with a slight shivering, which he attributed to indigestion. He had long, however, been in dread of apoplexy, and, sending for his physician, he insisted on being bled; the operation was repeated on the following day. Several times subsequently, in the course of his short illness, he was let blood; a mode of treatment which modern medical science emphatically condemns, and which drew forth severe comments at the time; yet it is but fair to the Italian physicians to remember that Cavour himself insisted on being so treated, and would employ only such medical men as would comply with his wish. The fever never left him, and his strength gradually sank. On the 5th of June the last sacraments were administered to him by a Capuchin friar, Fra Giacomo. Several relatives and friends were about his bed, contemplating with a feeling of unutterable sorrow the calamity that was about to fall upon them and upon their country. "Cavour himself was calm and collected. Addressing Fra Giacomo, he said, in a strong voice, " The time for departure is come." The last rites had been administered; the king had paid his last visit to the minister who had served him so loyally; and now Cavour's strong mind began to wander. Yet even in delirium his country still occupied his thoughts. " His last trial - that indeed which had probably hastened his death - the state of Naples, left the last impression upon his waning mind. 'No, no!' he repeatedly exclaimed, in the words which he had often used during the previous two months; I will have no state of siege. Any one can govern with a state of siege! ' The last intelligible sentences which he is said to have uttered were, " State tranquilli; tutto salvato ' (' Be tranquil, all is saved '); and 'Oh! ma la cosa va; state sicuri che ormai la cosa va' ('The thing [the independence of Italy] is going on; be certain that now the thing is going on'). As he gradually sank, he was heard at intervals to mutter, 'Italy - Rome - Venice - Napoleon.' " At seven o'clock on the morning of the 7th June he died.

The office of Italian premier was now given to the Tuscan count, Ricasoli, a man of high and unblemished character, who declared, still more explicitly than Cavour had done, his unalterable adherence to the policy of an independent and united Italy, with Austria driven from Venetia, and the Pope dispossessed of Rome. However, the time for action had for the present passed away, and tranquillity prevailed for the rest of the year throughout the Peninsula, except where it was disturbed by the irregular warfare in the Abruzzi, which has been already referred to. Soon after the death of Cavour, the Emperor Napoleon consented to accord to the new Italian kingdom the long withheld recognition of France.

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Pictures for Chapter LXII, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8

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