BLTC Press Titles

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The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison

The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse

Garibaldi: and the thousand

by George Macaulay Trevelyan


Italy, what of the night ? —

Ah, child, child, It is long!

Moonbeam and star beam and song
Leave it dumb now and dark.
Yet I perceive on the height

Eastward, not now very far,
A song too loud for the lark,

A light too strong for a star.

Sw1nburne.Songs before Sunrise:
A watch in the night.

In the spring of 1854 Garibaldi returned to Italy and settled down to live at Nice, apparently without any communication with the Government of Piedmont. The fear of Austria lay less heavy on the land than five years before, when it had been judged dangerous to harbour the revolutionary chief. In those evil days, after an obscurantist regime lasting for a whole generation (1815-48) followed by a brief period of sudden change at home and illconducted and disastrous war on the frontiers, the ship of State had almost foundered. Destitute of many of the accessories of modern life, with ruined finances and an ill-organised and defeated army, threatened by a reactionary priesthood on the one side, and an excitable and not too loyal democratic party on the other, the Liberal monarchy had just escaped destruction, thanks to the character of the young King Victor Emmanuel and the services first of the honest D'Azeglio, and then of the great Cavour.1 This

1 The best brief life of Cavour Is that by Countess Martinengo Cesaresco in the Foreign Statesmen Series (Macmillan). There is not yet an authoritative biography, nor have all his papers yet seen the light, though the collection in Chiala is most valuable. De la Rive's life is that of a close friend and acute contemporary observer.

marvellous man, hated alike by Democrats and Reactionaries, and disliked personally by the king, had imposed himself on king and country, by astute Parliamentary manoeuvres and alliances, and by the display of a genius for government which both king and country had the sense to value at its incalculable worth. Like our own William III in his superiority to the men and parties who disliked him, but could not do without him, he too was not invariably scrupulous in the means by which he baffled the yet more unscrupulous champions of clerical and despotic predominance in Europe.

Cavour had trained himself—for no one was his teacher— in what was then the British school of politics. Passionate Italian as he was, his political and economic ideas were based on acute observations made in England, and on a close study of the work of Grey and Peel. Believing in civil and religious freedom to a degree unusual among Continental statesmen of any party, he regarded freely elected Parliaments as the essential organ of government, and force as no remedy, except to expel the stranger and the despot. Any fool, he said, could govern by martial law. According to him, it was the business of a statesman to govern by Parliament, not indeed obeying every behest of ignorant partisans and corrupt interests, but persuading the country and the Chamber to take the right course, by weight of the authority due to wisdom, knowledge and experience. This ideal, seldom realised in any country, was the actual method by which Cavour governed Piedmont in the fifties. If he had lived to govern all Italy in the same manner during the sixties and seventies, the country which he created would have avoided many misfortunes besides those ol Custoza, Lissa, and Mentana. And if then the example ol Cavour had been preferred to that of Bismarck as the model for the patriots and statesmen of modern Europe, the whole world would now be a better place than it is.

Garibaldi, having settled down to five under the government of this man, soon became aware of the stir of new hopes and energies in the changed country to which he had returned. The life of Piedmont was, during this decade, enriched by many thousands of exiles from the other States of Italy, the very pick of the land which they were all sworn to make into a nation. As soldiers, statesmen, journalists, business men, they served Piedmont as the microcosm of the Italy to be. One section of these exiles, still clinging to the Republican faith, and only half pleased with the Government that sheltered them, was for ever striving to stir up Mazzinian revolts in different parts of the peninsula. But the other section, enthusiastic supporters of Cavour, ready to wait for his initiative, and unwilling to compromise his deep-laid plans by any rashness on their part, had accepted the monarchy as the only way to national unity and independence. This party was increasing its numbers by conversion from the Republicans, and to this party Garibaldi attached himself.

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