« ForrigeFortsett »
adventures of the artistic temperament find it indifferent and leave it irresponsive, if not objecting.
It was Louis Stevenson who pointed out, long ago, how close a test of a man's or a people's artistic capability is the unprompted desire to try new issues and experiment in new material and new methods; and, remembering this, it is difficult to predict much that is hopeful for our contemporary English stage. That we shall continue to command an adequate supply of workmanlike and even commercially successful plays is inevitable. There is too much talent, and too business-like a talent, profitably occupied with stage matters to leave this for a moment in doubt.
But is the English drama destined to pass altogether from an art to a craft? Are we content to aim for dexterity rather than for perfection ?
Conventionality kills art as inevitably as a noble convention protects it. It is in remembering this that we should feel most gratitude to writers like M. Edmond Rostand.
ART. III.-1. A History of Italian Unity: being a Political
History of Italy from 1814 to 1871. By Bolton King,
M.A. 2 vols. London, James Nisbet & Co.: 1899. 2. The Union of Italy, 1815-1895. By W. J. STILLMAN.
Cambridge, University Press : 1898. 3. Marco Minghetti : La Convenzione di Settembre. Bologna,
Zanichelli: 1899. 4. Politica segreta Italiana :
segreta Italiana : 1863-1870. 2a edizione. Torino: 1891. 5. Un po' più di Luce sugli Eventi politici e militari dell' Anno
1866. Pel Generale ALFONSO LA MARMORA. 5a edizione.
Firenze, Barbèra : 1873. IN N the April number of this Review we have travelled
with Mr. King through the earlier stages of the Italian struggle for independence. We shall not attempt to accompany him during the ten years that followed 1849----years of reaction, but of concentration, marked by the rise and leadership of Cavour, the growth of the moderate party, the utter decadence of the Bourbons, and the final establishment of the hegemony of Piedmont. We shall not follow him through the war of 1859, the union of the centre with Piedmont, Garibaldi's brilliant enterprise, and the collapse of the Neapolitan monarchy, unparalleled in history since the days of Cortes and Pizarro. The first Italian parliament met at Turin on February 18, 1861; on June 6 Cavour died. Ten years more were to pass before the unity so fortunately won could be completed by the inclusion of Venetia and Rome within the limits of the new kingdom.
The story of these years is less familiar to Englishmen than that of the more stirring time which preceded them. It is told with great fidelity and some minuteness by Mr. King, who must have devoted considerable labour to his exhaustive and conscientious consultation of many scattered sources of information. Signor Minghetti's posthumous volume on the September Convention is the only publication of any importance that has appeared since Mr. King's history, and it does not add very much to what was known before. Our author acquiesces too easily in some of the partisan judgements of republican writers, although his general tone is eminently judicial and by no means over-favourable to the so-called party of action during the years after
Cavour's death. They were years of fatal, almost tragic, conflict between the natural and honourable impatience of all patriotic Italians to finish the work so well begun, and the really pressing need for peace after the storm, for order, for economy, for internal organisation of the hurriedly constructed fabric. The rapidity with which events had moved during the two critical years of 1859 and 1860 was a bad preparation for a policy of patience, of quiet inward developement, of retrenchment and reform. The comparative neglect of social and economic questions sowed the seeds of many of the ills from which Italy now acutely suffers. Over-haste to solve the more exciting problems of Rome and Venice involved the country in financial disaster, in occasional grave national peril, and in considerable loss of dignity.
As far as the statesmen who successively took up Cavour's work are concerned, we may say, without undue belittlement, that they never were the masters, but always the slaves of circumstance; always wrestling, but, with one exception, wrestling honourably with problems that were beyond their skill. The King was not always an assistance. Party politics were growing increasingly bitter and factious. All parties were in fault. The moderates were pedantic and unsympathetic. Radicals, who were nothing if not patriotic, were hot-headed and rash to craziness, unjustly suspicious of all men, from the King downwards, who were not of their own number, and fanatically hostile to Napoleon III., with whom the rulers of Italy had to reckon, whether they liked it or not. National aspirations could not be satisfied so long as Venice and Rome remained outside the legal boundary of the kingdom. Historical sentiment and political necessity concurred in giving the foremost place to Rome. Im
portunate memories of the past greatness' of the Eternal City, and belief in her perennial mission, dazzled the Italian imagination. • Without Rome Italy is nothing,' said Ricasoli; 'for Venice we must wait.' The Papal territory caused an interruption of the continuity of the State, which must be a permanent obstacle to any thorough welding of South with North. The French occupation chafed the nation's pride, and might at any moment be used as a fulcrum for a larger foreign intervention in Italian affairs.
One of the earliest acts of the first parliament was to pass an unanimous resolution that Rome must be the capital of United Italy. But, with the French garrison in the way, the Roman question could not be solved by the sword,' as Cavour told the Chamber. There were only two ways out of the difficulty: to win the consent of the Papacy itself and go to Rome with the approval of Catholic sentiment, or to induce the Emperor to withdraw his troops, and then wait till events should afford an opportunity and an excuse for action. The first way was the better, and was followed by Cavour, until he found it absolutely barred by irreconcilable and, to our notions, short-sighted clerical obstinacy. The great statesman's hope was to convince Catholics that the abolition of the Temporal Power would lead to the complete spiritual independence of the Church. The key-note of his policy was his well-known saying, ' A free Church in a 'free State.'
His daring conception,' says Mr. King, was no less than an absolute reversal of the maxim which had guided the governments of Catholic Europe. It had been their policy from mediæval times to bind the Church with concordats and laws, which limited the Pope's authority, which made the clergy more or less dependent on the government, which gave the Catholic profession the dignity and emoluments of a State Church, but made it pay dearly by the surrender of its liberty. All this Cavour proposed to sweep away, if the Papacy would surrender its Temporal Power. . . . Subject to the general law of the land, the Church would be absolutely free in the enjoyment and control of its property, and the State would guarantee it a certain income. The Pope might exercise canonic discipline without let, provided he did not call in the aid of the civil arm, might hold synods and correspond with bishops. The clergy might preach and teach what they pleased in their own schools and seminaries. The State would surrender its right to nominate bishops, who in future would be elected by the clergy of the diocese. The Pope would retain the nominal title of Sovereign, with ample endowment for himself and his court. The Conclave would be absolutely free from governmental influences.'
There lay across the path not only the highly strung sentiment and cherished ideals of Catholicism, but also the very material interests of clerical selfishness and ambition. One set of obstacles might be removed by the freshness and largeness of the new policy, which appealed to the imagination and had already won the support of the reforming clergy, at that moment a far more numerous and influential body than they ever bave been since. But to overcome vulgarer motives required an appeal to self-interest. It was necessary to win over the Curia. Accordingly, to the Cardinals were to be given the privileges of royal princes and seats in the Senate. The more liberal of them were unofficially approached through Father Passaglia, the reforming Jesuit, and Dr. Diomede Pantaleoni, a well-known Roman Liberal, whilst others were allowed to make overtures more directly to Antonelli himself, the most influential, as well as the shrewdest and most dangerous, if the least bigoted, member of the Curia. At one moment his support appeared to have been won. According to Mr. King there is strong evidence that he was offered and did not refuse a
mighty bribe. That Antonelli's presumed sense of selfinterest was taken into consideration as an element of likely success is no doubt the case. But we do not feel satisfied that any of the published evidence amounts to proof that a concrete offer was made and accepted. Of course Antonelli denied anything of the sort. The letters of Cavour relating to this affair in the collection edited by Chiala have unfortunately been mutilated or expurgated. Some hitch or other occurred about the end of February, when Antonelli broke off all negotiations. On March 21 Pantaleoni was expelled from Rome. Father Passaglia, writing to Cavour, attributed this recrudescence of violence on the Papal side to the influence of the King and Queen of Naples, who had arrived in Rome after the fall of Gaeta about the middle of February
After this rebuff had proved the impossibility of conciliating the Papacy, Cavour turned to the second alternative. The last weeks of his life were occupied in negotiations with Napoleon III. for the departure of the French troops. About the middle of April the Emperor's views were unofficially communicated in a letter from Prince Jérôme Bonaparte. The principle of non-intervention was to form the logical basis of the arrangement. The Pope being treated as an independent Sovereign, no power whatever, neither France, nor Austria, nor the new Italy might interfere in his States. This meant practically that France would evacuate Rome in return for an Italian undertaking not to attack Papal territory, and, indeed, to prevent by force any attempted attack on it from without. But, to quote Prince Jérôme :
If in time the relations of the Papal government to the 500,000 or 600,000 subjects who remain for it to govern should become insupportable, the government of the Emperor may not consider itself obliged to guarantee the Pope against his own subjects. . . . If Rome is one day to become the capital of Italy, this must be brought about, not by means of conquest from without, but through the manifest and persevering will of its own inhabitants, and the impotence of the government of the priests.'