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From The Leisure Hour.
to live is a matter that is scarcely realize STATESMEN OF EUROPE.
able to the English mind. The Italian in those days, and even to-day, thinks himself rich upon what for us would be a bare
subsistence, and so engrained in them is THERE is, perhaps, no modern Euro- the desire to be a “gentleman,” that is to pean country whose condition is more say, to do no work, that they will submit interesting at the present moment than to privations of which British Hodge that of Italy; and for the reason that would not dream, in order to be able to Italy, in the modern acceptation of the stand about all day on the piazza or in the word, may be said to be a new country, café, gossiping and sunning themselves, and is therefore able to manage its ioter, with the happy consciousness that they dal affairs unhampered by those traditions have no duties either political or social. and modes of government which fatally In this noncuransa (indifference) lies one stand in the way of rapid progress in of the gravest perils for Italy's future, as older lands. Then, too, there is a great it is also the cause, direct and indirect, analogy between the Italian character and of the present financial and economic difour English. Italy, perhaps more than ficulties in which the country finds itself. any other Continental country, is the land Among these gentlemen, or, to speak in which individuals have great influence, more correctly, men at large, there were and where the government is truly con. very few who studied, and since the edu. stitutional and liberal, according to our cation of the youth of the richer classes Anglo-Saxon way of understanding those was confined to the clergy, such instructerms.
tion as they received had for its basis To comprehend with necessary preci- Greek and Latin classicism. Very few sion the mechanism of Italian politics, and were those who occupied themselves with the men who have hitherto directed its things which may truly be called modern, movements, as well as those who aspire fewer still those who followed attentively to lead them in the future, it is needful to the progress of European knowledge. cast a glance to the past, and to sum up A social step below this petty nobility in a few words the character of a people was the bourgeoisie, to whom the numercome forth from a revolution, which, al- ous Italian universities offered easy facilithough it was by no means bloody as ties to study the juridical and medical compared with those of other lands, never- sciences. But even here the foundation theless has had results of almost equal of the instruction was based upon classiimportance, at least in respect to the polit. cism. ical mutations produced in consequence Finally, to make up the twenty millions in the European concert.
of Italians of those times, there remained The Italian revolution found in 1848 a the population of the cities and of the people which already enjoyed the bene- country. These men had nothing plebeian Feudalism no longer existed, and if the either in their aspirations or in their fea. fits of the French revolution of 1789. tures; which latter, indeed, retained a truly aristocracy still maintained territorial im- noble cast, proving that their ancestors portance, they had no political influence were of good stock — and this was espewhatever. The rich gentlemen of Lom- cially the case in central Italy, and is so to bardy, the poor Piedmontese counts, the this day, the peasant having often a more innumerable titled men of Tuscany, of gentlemanly bearing and more refinement the states of the Church, of the kingdom in feeling and manners than his social of the two Sicilies, as well as of the small superior. states of Emilia, lived without working This class was the backbone of the nafrom the profits which came to them from tion, and from it, assisted by the Pied. their lands, caring little about to-morrow, montese nobility, was to spring the ultiand taking but the faintest interest in poli- mate regeneration of the nation. It was tics. Upon how little these men managed from the petty bourgeoisie and from the
people that the town and country clergy ing at internal politics, and while the were recruited. They had but a very requirements of the administration were superficial education, their morals were limited to making honorable debts to aid often more than doubtful, and they had in the regeneration of the neglected nalittle zea! either in the cause of religion or tion, debts which the country would be the cause of the Church. They feared called upon to pay at a later date, the rulthe petty princes who ruled over the vari- ing classes in Italy had a relatively easy ous States, men who were religious to all task. Indeed, in the period which lies outward appearance, but sought above all between 1859 and 1876 Italy went other things that the clergy should have light-heartedly accumulating debt upon no political importance, while they made debt, without thought of the day of reckuse of them only too frequently as spies oning for this indifference with regard to and as police officers. These, of course, the to-morrow. The cause may be sought were not the men who educated the upper first in the Italian character, which is classes; the tutors for the wealthier por- strangely and happily light-hearted, and tion of the population were chosen from which at all times takes little care for the among the Jesuits and the Scolopi, the morrow, and has almost a superstitious latter being considered in the light of Lib- fear with regard to looking forward ; but erals.
secondly and very largely, in the classical The ten years that intervened between education which the ruling classes had the defeat of 1849 and the political revival received, and which made them think that of 1859 had brought to the front the edu- the Italy of their time was still the Italy of cated bourgeoisie of Piedmont and the ancient Rome. They had been accustomed enlightened Piedmontese spirits who had from their babyhood to believe that Italy noble blood in their veins. It was these was a rich country, of inexhaustible remen who took in hand the direction of the sources; and remembering perhaps a Unitarian movement in order to obtain little too vividly the glories of imperial the long desired independence of Italy –
Rom and the Renaissance, they the liberation from the strangers' odious deemed that the Italy of to-day must aim yoke. Among this nucleus of noble patri- at taking the same stand in Europe, that ots it is curious to remark that the ma- its ambition should be to hold a leading jority were lawyers — and indeed, to this economic and political place. Whoever day the lawyers have a preponderance in in those days would dare to have printed the Italian ministry and Parliament, which or to have said in Parliament that Italy accounts for the fact that the management was, geographically speaking, a poor of affairs is often a little too doctrinaire country, which does not produce enough and lacks the practical character which grain for its inhabitants, which does not would help to make things move with know how to make use of what might be more ultimate advantage to the nation. its greatest riches, its grapes, because to Cavour, Sella, Minghetti, and Peruzzi make its wine it still employs the methods were students of social economy, it is customary in the days of Virgil ; that furtrue, but there worked beside them a ther, its soil produces neither iron nor whole crowd of jurists and, curiously coal, and therefore that it could never be enough, of doctors. In military matters an industrial country, - whoever, we say, the men who were distinguished were would dare to have thought or spoken Lamarmora, Cialdini, and Menabrea – these things 'vould at best have been rethe two latter still alive.
garded as a visionary, and most certainly Such the germ from which was to spring would have been stigmatized as anti-pathat most noble revolution which freedtriotic and a calumniator of his land. And Italy from Alps to sea, and which pro- yet more abuse would have fallen on the duced finer and more heroic characters head of whatever man had dared to preach than our century has ever been able to that the mission of freed Italy was to show,
occupy herself in setting her house in While it was a question of merely work. order - the house which foreign princes
and clerical rulers had left in a disgrace- | aloof from politics, a matter which is to fully backward condition, so that it would be regretted, for though their vote might need the labor of years to bring the coun. often lean to the side of reaction and antitry up to the staridard of its European quated views, they would prove on the neighbors. Then arose further a desire other hand a useful stay to the moderate for colonial enterprise that will-o'-the. Liberal party, and would help to hold in wisp which seems to dance before the check the hot-headed Republicans. But eyes of all European States in these days, the Catholics, though rather from political and which leads those who, like Italy, can. indifference than from religious feelings, not afford such luxuries into grave eco make a point of obeying the pontifical pre. nomic embarrassments. The cause of
“neither electors nor elected" even this desire must be sought in the the pope not choosing to recognize that classical education, with its traditions of institution called the Italian Parliament. ancient Latin grandeur.
As for the democratical republicans of
Italy they live in a fool's paradise, and When the Italian Parliament was first still fancy themselves in the heroic period formed, two political parties governed the when it was needful to fight Italy's battles State - the Right and the Left — each under the standard of the condottiere contending for power. But these con- Garibaldi, or to listen to the high-minded tending parties bad in common the same but visionary preachings of Mazzini. system of government. The Right was by They have not realized, or will not realize, no means a Conservative party, for it was that a changed state of things requires the Right which had led the van for the changed conditions and changed views destruction of the anterior political order ; a matter in which their hot-headed chief it was that party which, with the aid first Garibaldi proved himself a wiser mar of France and then of Germany, had than they when he resigned his sword to brought about the political unity ; which, Victor Emmanuel, and recognized thai too, had contracted the heavy debts; and Italy was not yet ripe for the ideal repubwhich, moreover, fiercely combated the lic, which probably will never be outside Temporal power of the Church, and in the pages of Plato and Sir Thomas More. hope of destroying it fatally offended the The chiefs of the democratic party still Spiritual power, by permitting not irreli- keep all the ardor, all the convictions, all gion but absolute religious tolerance in the the fidelity to the principles and doc. schools.
tripes of 1848, all the love that those The Left, which called itself the party of men showed for high-sounding phrases — Progress, differed little from the Right. phrases calculated to inspire a people that They, too, had always asked in Parliament must rise and throw off its yoke, but not for an increase of expenses for the work. useful to-day when the work is done and ing of the country, but on the other hand the country has entered into the fruits they also voted against new taxes. In obtained for it by its heroes, and when its this way they managed to benefit by these foremost duty is to utilize those fruits taxes and yet to avoid in the face of the quietly and sagaciously to the best advancountry the odium of having voted in their tage. favor. This extraordinary policy on the Now it is a curious fact that, in a Latin part of what nowadays have come to be country, whatever political party has been called the Radicals, distinguishes them in power for some twenty years invariably to this hour, and is the reason why no falls in consequence of its exercising a thinker can possibly take this party seri- sort of legal tyranny. It becomes audaously, or, if he does, can but see in them cious, almost insolent, and believes that one of the perils of contemporary Italy. everything is permitted to it. It was this For these men, when they are not vision. which happened to the party of the Right, ary, which is their only excuse, are anti- which in consequence was obliged to repatriotic and dangerous to the country. sign its power into the hands of the Left
The Catholic party have always kept lin 1876, this party having till then consti
tuted the parliamentary opposition. It a foreign policy which would please the was a change of men, but not a mutation country and which he was willing to un. of ruling principles. The new chiefs had dertake rather than that the guidance of been educated in the same school as the the country's affairs should slip from his old, they had the same tendencies, as they hands. For it is a fact too frequently quickly showed, and, excepting the aboli- evident that, however patriotic a stateś. tion of one of the taxes. — that upon the man, personal ambition in the end forms macinato (grist-tax) — they changed noth- the keystone of his actions and aims. ing in the financial working of the State. The long habit of obedience to Depretis Even if they would have done so they which Parliament had learned, the faith could not, because they were subjected to which he cherished in his own abilities, the same wave of political necessities. the passion for commanding, the real They, too, were old classical scholars, and affection which he had for the reigning dreamed of a rapid primacy for their family and above all for King Humberi, country. In the same manner, moreover, whom at the outset of his regal career he in which the Right had moulded its pol- held it his duty to assist and protect as a itics upon the Cabinet of Napoleon III., tutor protects a pupil, all these things the Left took its inspiration from that of contributed to keep the statesman of StraBerlin.
della at the head of the government at
whatever cost. And there was thus AGOSTINO DEPRETIS.
created in Italy a new form of political The man whom the death of Ratazzi magistracy which may be defined as a made head of this new administration was parliamentary dictatorship. From this, Agostino Depretis. He was far from be. however, it is not to be supposed that the ing a great statesman, but he was on the Italian Parliament had become corrupted other hand a person of great parliamentary to a servile and blind obedience to its ability. His ministerial life lasted ten chief; but it had got into an easy-going years, and fraught with great difficulties, way, a way so soon slipt into by Italiaos, was nevertheless honored and esteemed. of thinking that it was on the whole best The difficulties were the usual Italian ones to follow their leader; and thus were sac
- that is to say, the weight of the debts rificed some of the noblest qualities wbich which had accumulated, and the new a Parliament should have, namely, the which it was necessary to contract. qualities of criticism and a just and proper
While during the period anterior to opposition. the occupation of Rome the great and Taken collectively, too, an Italian Parglorious events which had freed Italy liament has never shone in the way of cast a veil of patriotism over the eyes producing individual characters, or leadof every citizen, so that the smile of 'to. ers such as spring up every day in England day did not make them think about the - a fact iargely due to the circumstance tears of tomorrow, Depretis, during his that self-government and parliamentary decade of parliamentary authority, had life are new features among a people who before him a labor much more arduous for centuries have groaned under foreigo than that of his predecessors, who gov. and native despotism; for even their eroed a people less under the influence of vaunted republics of the Middle Ages illusions. Sagacious as he was, he thor- were but despotisms under a liberal name. oughly comprehended that the Italian peo- But while doing all justice to Depretis ple had shown the measure of the weights it cannot be denied that he was certainly which they were able to support, but he, an Italian statesman whose sceptical indif. too, was pushed on beyond where he de- ference to the opinions of bis colleagues sired to go by his classical reminiscences, depressed their political character and inby his colleagues, by his allies in the dependence, and it was thus that he not Chamber, to do something great and im-only created the tendency towards making posing, which would make Italy shine in the chief of the Cabinet a political dictator, the eyes of Europe. Now this something but was able in a measure to transmit great and imposing could not be done ex- these traditions to his successor. He had cept in tiie domain of foreign policy. De. the good qualities and the defects which pretis was wont to say, good-humoredly were the consequence of his early educaand in perfect good faith, that in foreign tion, and when he died he left behind him policy the less one does the better it is; a memory neither mourned nor venerated, but on the other hand, the tenacity of this although it merited more respect and reold man in holding to power pushed him gret than it was to receive. He had been against his better judgment into initiating in power too long — the country was tired
of him, yet it was evident that the only the measure of what he was worth ; and probability of a change was in his death, had it not been for the fact of his domestic as indeed it proved.
scandals (he had, at the time, one legal and In the parliamentary crisis which hurled one illegal spouse, and lived openly with the Right from power Agostino Depretis his illegal partner), he would not have took under his leadership a number of been ousted from the government, and the chiefs of the Left. It was but right would earlier perchance have occupied the and just that these chiefs should rise to proud position he now holds. Returned to power together with him. Different in the opposition benches he often confuted character, in origin, in political and mili- and bothered old Depretis, until the latter, tary value, these comrades whom he had shortly before his death, led him to join chosen were rather allies of the moment his party, regarded him as an ally, a pillar, than obedient followers. They came to and almost designated him his ministebe known as the Pentarchy, and ultimately rial successor. Yet Crispi is the very anwere the chiefs of five groups hostile to tithesis of Depretis. The latter never the president of the Council. This Pen- lost control of his temper, Crispi loses it tarchy consisted of Crispi, Cairoli, Nico. continually. Unlike his predecessor, too, tera, Zanardelli, and Baccarini; while Crispi is the antithesis of the Italian among other important men whom he took political temperament, a temperament
with him were Taiani, Mancini, formed of calculation, flexibility, and amSeismit-Doda, and Brin. These were biguity. The former always sought to men who, during the decade of Depretis's efface himself, preferring reality to apdictatorship, were alternately his col. pearances, whereas Crispi is fond of pomp leagues and his opponents, many of whom and effect. Blunt and rough to a degree survived him, and one of whom has unusual in an Italian, he likes to make stepped into his shoes.
brusque sallies and striking coups. He is
gifted with a strong will, audacity, and FRANCESCO CRISPI.
what is sometimes a strength in politics, FRANCESCO CRISPI, a Sicilian, a former unlimited self-confidence. conspirator and ardent republican, in the In his temperament certainly Crispi course of years and also in consequence of does not belie the old rhetorical figure that political common sense which calls which attributes to the sons of Ætna the itself opportunism, and which Gambetta volcanic nature of their native soil. Abby no means invented, had been an earnest solute, irascible, intolerant of opposition, follower of Mazzini. He abandoned him, even advanced age has not yet softened however, in time — that is to say, when he the fire of his character. To prove the became aware of the complete inutility of truth of this it is only needful to see him the efforts put forward for national inde in the camera, where the spectators from pendence which had for their basis dark the Tribunes, in the color more or less and illegal conspiracies. Led by the na. intense of the premier's bald head, have a ture of his fiery character he soon entered sure thermometer for estimating his meninto relationship with Garibaldi, and took tal state of excitement. As soon as he a leading part in the condottiere's libera- encounters an adversary he shoots forth tion work in Sicily and on the Continent arrows of speech that always hit their during the year 1860, as well as during mark. These outbursts of 'intolerance, the troubled time of Aspromonte and these nervous bounds from out his seat, Meptana.
these fisticuffs on the arm of his chair, In the great expedition of the Thousand with which he accompanies his speeches, of Melazzo, Crispi was the inspiring and have become proverbial in the Italian dominating spirit. For a while after this Parliainent, and render him an orator who event he had to live in hiding, and was is far from sympathetic to his audience. sheltered under the roof of the patriotic In moments of political difficulty De. baker, Giuseppe Dolfi, of Florence. pretis entered Parliament with an ingenu. When the fight was won and the Italian ous, unconscious face. His spent, weary capital was inoved to the Tuscan town, eye, his ogled grey beard, his gouty feet, Crispi came too. An active, impetuous his general look of age, caused his advernature, violent even at times in his energy, saries to anticipate an easy defeat of their he knew how to offer excellent guarantees old enemy, who quietly allowed them to as a man of order at the time of the death discharge all the ammunition they had of Victor Emmanuel and of Pope Pio IX. stored up against him. But when they In both these circumstances, in his posi. had done, when the opportune moment rion as minister of the interior he showed | came, he, who so admirably knew his par.