Friday, 11 June 2010
cavour and new uprising in milan
It may be possible now to see clearly that if no one had tried for the unattainable, Cavour would not have found the ground prepared for his work. The appreciation of his rank among Italian liberators rests on a different point, and it is this: without a man of his positive mould, of his practical genius, of his force of will and force of patience, would the era of splendid endeavours have passed into the era of accomplished facts? If the answer to this is 'No,' then nothing can take from Cavour the glory of having conferred an incalculable boon on the country which he loved with a love that was not the less strong because it lacked the divinising qualities of imagination.
An aristocrat by birth and the inheritor of considerable wealth, Cavour was singularly free from prejudices; his favourite study was political economy, and in quiet times he would probably have given all his energies to the interests of commerce and agriculture.
He was an advocate of free trade, and was, perhaps, the only one of the many Italians who fêted Mr Cobden on his visit to Italy who cared in the least for the motive of his campaign.
Cavour understood English politics better than they have ever been understood by a foreign statesman. Before parliamentary life existed in Piedmont, he took the only way open of influencing public opinion by founding a newspaper, the Risorgimento, in which he continued to write for several years.
In the Chamber of Deputies he soon made his power felt—power is the word, for he was no orator in the ordinary sense; his speeches read well, as hard hitting and logical expositions, but they were not well delivered.
Cavour never spoke Italian with true grace and ease though he selected it for his speeches, and not French, which was also allowed and which he spoke admirably. His presence, too, did not lend itself to oratory; short and thickset, and careless in his dress, he formed a contrast to the romantic figure of D'Azeglio. Yet his prosaic face, when animated, gave an impressive sense of that attribute which seemed to emanate from the whole man: power.
It needed a more wary hand than D'Azeglio's to steer out of the troubled waters caused by the ecclesiastical bills, and to put the final touches to the legislation which he, to his lasting honour be it said, had courageously and successfully initiated.
In the autumn of 1852 D'Azeglio resigned, and Cavour was requested by the King to form a ministry. He was to remain, with short breaks, at the head of public affairs for the nine following years.
At this time the government of Lombardy and Venetia was vested in Field-Marshal Radetsky, with two lieutenant-governors under him, who only executed his orders.
Radetsky resided at Verona. Politically and economically the two provinces were then undergoing an extremity of misery; the diseases of the vines and the silkworms had reached the point of causing absolute ruin to the great mass of proprietors who, reckoning on having always enough to live on, had not laid by. Many noble families sank to the condition of peasants.
The taxation was heavier than in any other part of the Austrian Empire; in proof of which it may be mentioned that Lombardy paid 80,000,000 francs into the Austrian treasury, which, had the Empire been taxed equally, would have given an annual total of 1,100,000,000, whereas the revenue amounted to only 736,000,000.
The landtax was almost double what it was in the German provinces.
. What hopes were carried by them. What risks were run in passing them from hand to hand.
'Tiremm innanz!' ('come along') he said, in his rough Milanese dialect, and marched incorruptible to death. On a similar charge, Dottesio and Grioli, the latter a priest, suffered in the same year, and early in 1852 the long trial was begun at Mantua of about fifty patriots whose names had been obtained by the aid of the bastinado from one or two unhappy wretches who had not the fortitude to endure.
Of these fifty, nine were executed, among whom were the priests Grazioli and Tazzoli, Count Montanari of Verona, and Tito Speri, the young hero of the defence of Brescia.
If he had a regret, it was that he had been unable to do more for his country; but here too his simple faith sustained him. Surely the Giver of all good would not refuse to listen to the prayers of the soul which passed to Him through martyrdom. 'To-morrow they lead me forth,' he wrote. 'I have done with this world, but, in the bosom of God, I promise you I will do what I can.' So did this clear and childlike spirit carry its cause from the Austrian Assizes to a higher tribunal.