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monarchy, and he was able to counterplot Mazzini, who would have had a republic. He succeeded also in making an instrument of Garibaldi; but the man of action, who cut away superfine distinctions with his sword in the passion of battle, was an instrument that was near cutting his hand. But for Garabaldi, Italy might have been free only in name, and even the monarchy might have been a provincial rather than a national government. Garibaldi's simple enthusiasm, and the swift success that attended him when men flocked to his standard after the Franco-Sardinian war with Austria, would have forced a weaker or a less guarded hand than that of Cavour. But Cavour knew how to take quick and cunning advantage of the opportunity for making the Piedmontese rule Italian, and so to give to the world a more united Italy than even the insurrection had at first promised.
That, at the end of 1858, the Emperor of the French contemplated hostilities with Austria there was no room to doubt. In a letter to our queen he had announced the approaching marriage of Prince Napoleon with the daughter of the King of Sardinia; and a few weeks before, had actually discussed with Lord Palmerston (who, as we have seen, was at Compiegne), his plans for the expulsion of the Austrian troops from Italy, where a general rising had for some months been preparing in the north. At the diplomatic receptions on the 1st of January, 1859, he had said to M. Hubner, the Austrian ambassador at Paris, "I regret that the relations between our two governments are not more satisfactory; but beg you to assure the emperor that they in no respect alter my feelings for himself." It should be remembered, however, that Austria, declining always to recognize the right of France to interfere in Italian affairs, had more than once refused to combine with Napoleon in any efforts to bring about reforms in the governments of the Duchies or the Papal States, whose sovereigns she was, in fact, pledged by treaty to support. The necessity for keeping an army in Italy on a war footing, because of the attitude of Piedmont, galled her and put a strain on her
resources; but that army was believed to be splendidly organized and under the command of the best generals in Europe. The train was laid, it only required the match. The match was ready. On the opening of the Sardinian chambers on the 10th of January, King Victor Emmanuel had said:
"Our country, small in territory, has acquired credit in the councils of Europe, because it is great through the idea it represents and the sympathies it inspires. This position is not exempt from perils, since, while we respect treaties, we are not insensible to the cry of suffering which reaches us from so many parts of Italy."
The military preparations of Austria had been pushed forward. Large bodies of troops were arriving in the plains of Lombardy. It looked much as though Austria would be the aggressor. Her officers were talking of an advance on Turin as a stage on the way to Paris.
The Emperor of the French had probably thought that Russia would gladly join in the chastisement of Austria; it was said that he had asked the question of Schouvaloff, and had been immediately undeceived. On the other hand, he was under the impression, misled perhaps by his conversations with Palmerston, who seems to have rejoiced in the notion of the Austrians having a castigation, that war with Austria for the restoration of Italian freedom would consolidate his alliance with England. He had at last reluctantly given up the notion that England would become his ally in the cause.
English statesmen on both sides were too acute to be led into what might prove to be a European war for the interest of France, when it was strongly suspected, if not absolutely known, that Cavour held the cue of the arrangement and that the price of French intervention had been already settled.
The restoration of Italy, and even the expulsion of the Austrians, was dear perhaps to a large majority of the English people, but the attitude of the French emperor caused no little suspicion. We had not yet got over the threats of the French colonels because of the alleged protection of Italian refugees in Lon
THE AUSTRIANS IN ITALY.
don. Who could tell what might be the ultimate intention of France, or to what length the emperor might be driven? who knew whether we might not have to prepare against the contingencies of war in Europe?
The effect of the first note of hostility was to confirm the intention of increasing our armaments and to give a fresh impetus and completer organization to the Volunteer movement. But the note of war had not yet sounded, and before it was heard attempts were made at a pacific conclusion by means of a congress.
The Emperor of the French contended that he respected treaties, and had only agreed to interpose if Austria should commence hostilities, or invade Sardinian territory. He had already endeavoured to atone to the Austrian ambassador for his hasty words by using conciliatory expressions. In reply to a letter from the queen, in February, 1859, representing the anxiety in England for the maintenance of peace, he denied that there was any foundation for the alarms and suspicions which were constantly manifested with regard to his proceedings. He had received confidential communications from Italy that the state of affairs there would soon result in an insurrection, which was only prevented by the counsels of Piedmont, but that the Sardinians would not draw back from a war with Austria. He had replied that his first duty was to his country and its interests, that the traditional policy of France had always been opposed to the exclusive influence of Austria in Italy, but that his government could not encourage an aggressive line of conduct on the part of Piedmont, nor support her in a struggle in which right would not be on her side; but that, on the other hand, she might rely on being vigorously backed, either if attacked by Austria, or if she became involved with this power in a just and lawful war.
In the last phrase, which is here printed in italics, lay the key of Cavour's subsequent demands. What would be a war juste et légitime? It depended on any interpretation which might be put upon it.
"But," the letter went on to say, these pourparlers came to nothing; but towards
November last, either because the unpopular measures taken by Austria in Italy had roused men's minds, or because indiscreet language had been held at Turin, or, finally, because a certain party had found its interest in disquieting public opinion, certain it is that all at once rumours of war were spread on every side, founded both upon the condition of people's minds in Italy and upon the state of our relations with Austria. In the hope of calming these apprehensions I caused it to be announced in the Moniteur that there was nothing in our relations with foreign powers to justify such fears. Notwithstanding this, as if under the influence of a real panic, everything continued to be construed in a warlike sense. The conciliatory words to M. Hubner, the despatch to Marseilles of six batteries (without men or horses) destined for Algeria, the construction, as an experiment, of ten gunboats, carrying each one gun, the armament of two troop-ships for the Algerine service, the purchase of some thousands of artillery-horses to bring their number up to the peace footing-finally, the progress made with the reconstruction of our artillery equipment begun two years before -these were what were taken as so many warlike symptoms; and, although there was in fact nothing more, the persuasion to the contrary is so general, that it would be difficult for me to persuade the public in France and abroad, that I am not even now making immense preparations for war. And yet at this very time simple prudence seems to me to enjoin that I should do much more; for on the one side I cannot blind myself to the illwill that surrounds me, and on the other, for the last month I have been urgently appealed to by the King of Sardinia to mass 20,000 men upon the Alps, ready to come to his assistance, in case of his being attacked by the Austrians.
"I am, therefore, in no way responsible either for the apprehensions or for the agitation now on foot, and I can regard them with indifference. But . . . with complications beyond the Alps staring us in the face, people seem to deny to France by anticipation the influence to which she is entitled by her rank
among nations, as well as by her history. In presence of an imaginary intervention in the affairs of a country which touches our frontiers, all Germany seems of a mind to enter into a league against France, and to dispute even her most legitimate action. Did Germany intervene in our embroilment with Russia? Or did Europe intervene when Germany upheld the cause of Holstein against Denmark?
"I admit to your Majesty that this attitude of Germany sets me thinking deeply, and that I see in it great danger for the future, for I shall always respect the treaties."
There is much to read between the lines of this letter. It was evident enough from the position of affairs that the idea of a war in Italy would not be popular in France. The reception, or rather the want of a reception, of Prince Napoleon and his bride by the people of Paris indicated the coldness with which intervention on behalf of Sardinia would be regarded. The financial condition of Sardinia was such that Cavour could not negotiate a loan for any large amount. The French state debt had increased from £213,800,000 in 1851 to £336,880,000 in 1858. The emperor had been greatly mistaken as to the probable support of England and the general attitude of Europe in relation to a war in Italy. Prince Albert, writing to the King of Belgium, in January, 1859, said:-"Louis Napoleon has manifestly calculated thus: 'Russia will be well pleased to avenge herself on Austria, and will, therefore, support me in my attack on Italy. England hates Austria, is mad for Italian freedom and nationality, so she, too, will give me her moral support. Prussia hates Austria, will be glad to see her humbled, and is to be won over by promises of advancement in Germany at the expense of Austria. Italy yearns for freedom, and will, therefore, receive me and my army with transport.'"
It was afterwards understood that when war had commenced, Russia had represented that no intervention from Prussia was probable while the war was confined to Italy, but a rumour afterwards reached Napoleon that Prussia was preparing for war, and this, it was said, eventually hastened determination
to conclude the Italian campaign with a treaty in which the declaration that the country was to be free to the Adriatic, was left to the category of hyperbolical expressions. The real anxiety of Prussia, and of England also, was the continued restlessness of the emperor and the evident desire to remodel treaties and readjust frontiers. Thus it was feared that success in Italy might eventually lead to some attempt on the Rhenish provinces. It was in the most friendly spirit that the queen and English statesmen, even Lord Palmerston, urged the preservation of peace, and their representations combined with the indifference of the French people had some temporary effect in delaying further demonstrations, though it was believed that Cavour wrought on the mind of the emperor, not only by keeping before him their secret understanding, but by referring with sinister emphasis to the poignards of Italian assassins. At the same time Prince Napoleon was sarcastically inquiring whether the agreement with Sardinia was to be observed, now that it had been, as it were, ratified by his own matrimonial alliance.
That the emperor had been placed in a false position partly by his own expectation, but also, in part, by the representations of Russian diplomacy and the determination of Cavour not to abate one of his claims, there can be no doubt, but the question was, Did he at that juncture deliberately attempt to trick Europe? The Queen and Prince Albert had begun to distrust him some time before, and Lord Palmerston, who on the whole liked him very well, and had seemed to support his views, said not long afterwards, “The emperor's mind seems as full of schemes as a warren is full of rabbits, and like rabbits his schemes go to the ground for the moment to avoid notice or antagonism." "Il recule bien pour le moment, mais il n'abandonn jamais," had been said of him before this, and it seemed about to be verified. At all events he contrived to convey to Lord Cowley that he was ready to accept the good offices of England to negotiate a basis of arrangement with Austria. This Lord Derby's government was ready to undertake if Austria was
PROPOSED PEACE CONGRESS.
willing to accept an attempt at mediation. The queen's address at the opening of parliament had, with some emphasis, dwelt on the hope that peace might be maintained, and
this was considered to have been taken as a suggestion for an endeavour to be made for arriving at a definite understanding.
On the return of Lord Cowley it was announced that Austria was ready to consent to a withdrawal of her troops from the Papal States, to support a system of internal reforms in Italy, to pledge herself not to attack Sardinia, and to negotiate some new arrangement to take the place of her special treaties with the Duchies. When we read these concessions carefully they mean little or nothing except in connection with a long conference and the settlement of preliminary measures. Perhaps Napoleon distrusted Austria as much as Prussia, and even more than England distrusted him. At all events, when Lord Cowley got back to Paris, he found that another proposition had been brought forward. Instead of negotiations between the parties immediately interested, there was to be a congress of the European powers for the preservation of peace.
The proposal came from St. Petersburg, but it had first been sent thither from the Tuileries. Renewed suspicion was the consequence of the proposal. On learning of it from Lord Malmesbury the queen replied, “A congress has always been the alternative to war which the emperor has put forward; but a congress to rearrange the treaties of 1815. Russia may intend to act in such a congress the part against Austria regarding Lombardy, which Austria acted against her in the last congress regarding Bessarabia.
. . Austria will have enormous armaments to keep up while the congress lasts, for otherwise France might suddenly break off and fall upon her simultaneously with a rising of the Italian populations. She will, therefore, be very averse (and justly so) to a congress. Is it the emperor's object to
This curiously resembled the opinion of M. Thiers contained in a letter written at the same time, in which he said the aim
of the emperor was to compass war while talking of peace. "His adversary being ready, while he is not, this delay serves admirably his purpose of employing against Austria a method of dissolution, by prolonging a critical and irritating state of things that will exhaust her. In truth, Austria cannot remain in arms for an indefinite period without being exhausted. Another result of this state of things might be, that the young emperor, weary of an intolerable burden, may end by preferring war to a position as enervating as it would be disastrous. Thus, having perforce become the aggressor, he would play into Napoleon's hands, who might then proclaim triumphantly that it is no fault of his if the empire is not peace."
It would seem, however, that neither side was sincere. Lord Cowley, who had perhaps the best opportunity of forming a judgment, came to the opinion that the emperor was really desirous of a congress, because the probabilities were that the decision arrived at would be against his entering on a war to support Sardinia; and that other proposals would be made, against which if Cavour should endeavour to exact fulfilment of a promise of French intervention, it might be answered that France could not be expected to oppose herself to the decision of all the great powers of Europe. But Austria, with "her bigotries, her hauteur, her insincerity, and her blundering statesmanship," as old Stockmar had just expressed it, soon made the decisions of a congress, or indeed any untrammeled and genuine negotiations for peace, difficult if not impossible. How much probability could there be that such a convention would succeed in settling questions which were keeping a great part of Italy in a state of insurrection? There was no certain basis to go upon. "I believe," said Lord Clarendon in the House of Lords, "that all my noble friend (Lord Malmesbury) knows is this: that one despotic power has proposed to another despotic power, that by means of a congress a third despotic power should pave the way for liberal institu
Austria had professedly as an evidence of her pacific intentions proposed as one of the
matters to be settled by the congress, the simultaneous disarmament of the great powers. This the emperor had declined, on the ground that the armaments of France were all upon a peace footing; but Lord Cowley remonstrated with a directness and emphasis which are very unusual in diplomatic representations to a foreign sovereign, and begged him solemnly not to reject any offer which, while it left the honour of France untouched, might lead to peace; representing that while he had no cause of quarrel with Austria, to draw the sword might rivet faster the chains of Italy.
This appeal had great effect. The emperor afterwards assented to the arrangement that the congress should meet, Sardinia and the other Italian states being admitted to take part in it, and Sardinia consenting to join in the general disarmament. A telegram was despatched to Count Cavour asking his immediate concurrence in this arrangement. The demand was serious, and would have been a critical one, but for the fact that the proposal to disarm would come from all Europe. Cavour could not hesitate. France, England, Russia, and Prussia were all ready, and had agreed on the basis of the conference. They waited for Austria, and Austria kept them waiting in doubt of her acceptance of the arrangement which she herself had suggested. When the message came it was one pressing for disarmament as a preliminary to the congress. Then public opinion, here at all events, began to turn. Austria meant to begin hostilities, and to strike a blow before the French were ready. It was in fact a case of suspicion all round, or as Prince Albert put it: "Suspicion, hatred, pride, cunning, intrigue, covetousness, dissimulation dictate the despatches, and in this state of things we cast about to find a basis on which peace may be secured."
We have seen that as early as the 1st of January, 1859, it was evident that some action was contemplated by Napoleon against the Austrian occupation of Italy. On that day the words he addressed to M. Hubner were not unnaturally interpreted to prelude a warlike manifestation. The King of Sardinia's language at the opening of his chambers, which took place on the 10th of January,
confirmed that impression. It was spirited, determined, and hopeful. Everybody surmised that some agreement had already been entered into between the respective governments, a surmise which rose to certainty when, the hand of the Princess Clothilde, the only daughter of Victor Emmanuel, was formally demanded by General Niel, on behalf of the Emperor of the French, for his cousin Prince Napoleon.
That marriage took place on the 30th of January, and by that time Austria had begun to prepare for war, and to concentrate its troops in Italy, which it occupied with a persistency that became actually aggressive, and defiant of the treaties which were intended to protect the country from foreign occupation. Victor Emmanuel at once asked his government to raise a loan, and in supporting it Count Cavour made an eloquent speech on behalf of Italian liberty.
We are now briefly following events as they were publicly known to show what were the relative positions of the disputants.
On the 7th of February, at the opening of the French session, the emperor made no declaration of a warlike character; he rather endeavoured to calm the excitement which the prospect of war had produced, and spoke of the possibility of further disagreement being averted by a conference. England, too, made active efforts to avert what seemed to be an inevitable conflict in Italy, and, addressing the Sardinian government through its ministers at Turin, requested to know what the specific complaints were which the Italians had to make against Austria. This appeal was ably answered in a long memorandum, which concluded by saying that war or revolution might be averted, and the Italian question at least temporarily solved, by obtaining from Austria a national and separate government for Lombardy and Venetia; by requiring, in conformity with the Treaty of Vienna, that the domination of Austria in Central Italy should cease, and consequently that the detached forts outside the walls of Piacenza should be destroyed; that the occupation of the Romagna should cease, and that the principle of non-intervention should be proclaimed