Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

t serious ns of the

eve that

throcd

inve rinthia

on tar

between

it we ET

Ir non

Austria

erprise le rest w is

cuted

dish

fairly

Laved

of

has never stirred in the matter save in the most openly selfish manner, to advantage herself. Ever since 1814, when her tyrannising legions were flung routed over the Alps, France has intervened but twice in the affairs of Italy; and what like were those interventions? The first time, she seized upon Ancona, which she held for several years; the second time, she sent an army to put down the free government which the Romans had won and established for themselves, and to seize the Eternal City, which she has held by the strong hand ever since. In both of those interventions, the French Government did not interfere for the sake of the Italians, but undisguisedly to extend her own power. It was not to oppose Austria, but simply to keep pace with her in extending over Italy a foreign yoke. The French Government took not a single step to loosen the chains or ameliorate the condition of the Italians; but she gave them one tyrant more. Louis Napoleon acted just like his predecessors. For eight years of his rule he kept military possession of the Papal territory, without ever saying a single word about reforms. All that time Napoleon held sway in the part of Italy which is notoriously the worst governed, and where the people are most eager to be free, (and where they would be free in a week if the French bayonets were removed) without doing anything but shoot or bayonet those who rebelled against the double tyranny of Pope and Frenchmen. Not till the Congress of Paris did Napoleon begin to do what England had long been doing. And now, when he demands that Austria shall evacuate the eastern portion of the Papal territories, while he does the same for the western, what figure does he cut Overlooking the fact that Austria is where she is by the special invitation of the Papal Government, while France grasped at Rome unasked, is it not plain that Austria_might now reply to the French Emperor, "By your ten years' occupation of Rome, you have recognised and acted upon the very same principle as we have done, and against hich you now protest. And if you

now find that you have got yourself into a difficulty by your occupation of Rome, and for your own purposes wish to withdraw, that is certainly no ground for your demanding us also to withdraw from our positions, which do not embarrass us in the least." We question whether Napoleon III. even yet wishes to withdraw his troops from Rome, he so dreads any uprising of the revolution in Italy. It suits him much better to make impossible demands-demands for changes which he knows cannot be carried out at Rome save by force

in order to fasten a quarrel upon Austria, and thereby create a war which may suffice to avert his bête noir, another Revolution.

England helps and befriends Italy, within the limits prescribed by treaty and the principles of international law. But she cannot take part in— she must entirely condemn-an enterprise which is based upon an utter disregard of treaties, and which is undertaken, not for the sake of Italy, but for the advantage of the French Government. She will not violate treaties for the sake of extending the boundaries of Sardinia, or merely to give Italy a change of masters. This is not a war of the Italians against Austria-it is not a natural movement coming from the heart of Italy, -it is a war forced on by France and Sardinia. It is not an impulse of patriotism; it is an act of mature and selfish calculation. A Necessity urges on both of the aggressive Powers. Sardinia, by persisting in keeping up an excessive military establishment, has all but strangled herself with debt, and seeks to free herself by rushing to war and acquiring the rich provinces of Lombardy and Venice. Napoleon III. is a military despot at home, and, by engaging in this Italian war, he calculates alike upon aggrandising the power of France, and upon obviating the outburst of that smouldering revolution which he dreads, and which, were it again to leap forth, would probably engage the French as well as other peoples in a struggle against their despotic Governments. These are potent reasons of self-interest for the French and Sardinian Governments taking the course they medi

family of Russia betook themselves to the Sardinian territories "on account of their health;" and by the interviews and courtesies interchanged between them and the Court of Turin, an entente cordiale was established, which speedily showed itself by Sardinia taking the part of Russia in the Bolgrad difficulty of the boundary question, and more recently in assigning to her use the important Sardinian harbour of Villafranca. What sentiments of policy were interchanged at Paris between the Grand-duke Constantine and the Emperor Napoleon, in the visit paid by the former on his return from Sardinia, cannot be known. But from all the indications that Russia has yet given of her leanings, it may be inferred that she is not disposed to take the opposite side from France in this formidable Italian question.

As regards France, it is unquestionable that the commercial classes are entirely opposed to any rupture of the existing tranquillity; yet it is equally certain that the army would hail with joy the advent of hostilities. And considering that the French Government, though founded by universal suffrage, is actually a military despotism, the wishes of the army, at least in the present question, may be regarded as quite as influential with the Emperor as that of the trading community. More than once the public feeling has been against contemplated acts of the Emperor,--but the acts took place. He is now too firmly seated on the throne to be unseated by a passing breath of unpopularity; and, confident in the wisdom of his policy, he can afford to wait till the public is convinced by the good result. Hitherto the good result has always come, and he has risen steadily, more and more, in the opinion of the nation. He is resolved to take the same course now, and, relying on his calculations, to let the public be converted to his side by the irresistible logic of events. Of all possible wars, one like the present is best calculated to enlist the suffrages of Frenchmen. To extend French influence over Italy has always been part of the "traditional policy" of France; and to wage a war for the "liberation" of Italy is

a more captivating way of doing the thing than any other that could be devised. Such an enterprise would persuade France that she is still the champion of freedom, although she takes so little of it to herself. And if this war with Austria be successful, what glory to revive the memories of Marengo and Castiglione, and see the white uniforms of Austria once more refluent before the eagles of a Napoleon! Indeed, we should not be surprised to see the Emperor himself take the field in such a war. Of all men in Europe, not soldiers, there is no one who has so assiduously studied the art of war as the French Emperor: indeed, we question whether any of his marshals ever pondered the history and science of their profession with more profound thought. Any one in his position would gladly have his brows encircled by martial laurels; but, in addition to this, his whole nature is such as to make him burn to distinguish himself in that arena where genius and power are developed in their grandest and most terrible form-in the strategy of the campaign, and the disciplined rush of the battlefield. It has been remarked that, in unison with the altered tone of the Imperial speeches, there has occurred a

change in the Imperial costume. Napoleon III. now imitates, as far as modern fashion permits, the dress of his uncle; and, contemporaneously with the dropping of "L'empire c'est la paix," he has begun to ride about daily in the streets of Paris attired in the grey redingote, the war-dress of his uncle. Does the Emperor indeed contemplate trying in person the fortunes of war, and on the same fields which witnessed the first victories of Napoleon the Great?

But, let it be observed, it is not from personal inclination, nor even from the ordinary motives which impel monarchs to warlike aggression, that Napoleon III. is now bent upon carrying this Italian question to a violent solution. A necessity drives him on. He foresees a great danger ahead, and he is resolved to evade by anticipating it. Italy cannot remain long in its present condition without a revolutionary outbreak taking place; and it would be the ruin of Napoleon III. if such

a revolution were to surprise him in his present position. It was French troops which annihilated the Roman Republic; it is French troops which have kept down " Italian liberty" in Rome ever since. And if a revolutionary movement like that of 1848 were again to extend over the peninsula, Napoleon III. and his troops at Rome would have no alternative but to act against it. If the revolution were for a moment successful, it would almost to a certainty excite similar movements in other countries-probably in France itself; and Napoleon III., "the elect of the people," would be ruined by being forced to play the despot pur et simple. Even if the revolutionary movement were confined to Italy, and were to find the Napoleonic legions supporting the Papal despotism in Rome, the issue would be most disastrous to the prestige, and most obstructive to the future projects of the French Emperor. Hence his resolute desire to free himself from this embarrassing position. Hence his anxiety now to get his troops withdrawn from Rome, or at least to assume an attitude which may free him from the charge of being the supporter of despotism and a foe to the liberties of Italy. His dread is, to be surprised by another 1848: and observe how his present policy is designed to extricate him from the difficulty. After having for ten years played the despot at Rome, he now comes forward to champion the cause of Italian freedom. He declares that he is most anxious to withdraw his troops from the Italian soil; he demands that Austria shall equally evacuate the Papal territories; and also demands that Austria shall agree to force upon the Papal Government the adoption of "reforms" of so sweeping a nature as of themselves to amount to a revolution. This is the ground upon which he founds his quarrel with Austria. But, as regards these proposals of reforms, the French Emperor has not only made them such as Austria can hardly accept, but in his pamphlet he has studiously endeavoured to make it impossible for her to accept them. He desires a war, in which he would appear as the liberator of Italy. For, such a war, if successful, would

not only greatly gratify the pride and extend the influence of France, but it would entirely obviate the outburst of that new revolution which the Emperor dreads, and of which the elements already exist in other quarters besides Italy. The whole Italian nation would regard Napoleon III. as their champion; the party of Mazzini would disappear, or, if they dared to raise their head, would instantly be struck down by the mailed hand of France and Sardinia. In short, the French Emperor is going to war in order to avert revolution. As he "discounted" the intended Socialist revolt in France in 1852 by the coup-d'état of December 1851, so he proposes to discount the Italian revolution by an immediate Italian war. Adopting the principle of Dr Jenner, he proposes to avert a peril by bringing on the disease which he dreads at his own time and in a (to him) less dangerous form.

It is a masterly conception. Supposing even that there be no war, and even that Austria successfully resists the adoption of the reforms which he has proposed-still, Napoleon III. will at least have freed himself from the odium of the Italians, and will have paved the way for siding with, and thereby controlling, any revolutionary movement that may take place. Again, if the pressure of the other European Powers make Austria accede to reforms, the triumph will be entirely his,- for he has taken pains to proclaim to the world the demands which he has made. Or if, as is more likely, the issue be war, the chances are again very much in his favour, and the consequences of success to him would be incalculable. In addition to the popular movement throughout Italy by which his enterprise would be seconded, there is available to him a strategetical operation which was never in the power of his uncle. During the wars of the first Revolution, the scas were wholly in possession of the British fleets, and Napoleon I. had to confine his strategy entirely to the land; whereas now (England standing neutral) Napoleon III. may transport his legions to any part of the Italian coast. And if the immense fleet and flotilla of

war which he is preparing be able to effect the landing of an army at the head of the Adriatic, such a manœuvre would take in rear all the formidable fortresses and river-lines of Lombardy, and, if successful, would cause the Austrian forces to evacuate the entire valley of the Po and retire to the Passes of the Alps. Napoleon III. will not seek to push Austria to extremities (his policy is never to push any Power to extremities); and Sardinia and the Italians may rely upon it that he will stop short in the enterprise whenever it suits himself, and compel them also to do the same. Just as he refused to go along with England and Turkey in the war with Russia, after the French arms had been "covered with glory" by the capture of Sebastopol, so assuredly will the Italians find him resolved to stop short in the "liberation of Italy," as soon as he thinks best for himself. Triumphs by short wars and diplomacy are the means upon which he relies to aggrandise himself.

If Napoleon III. plunge into this war, he will aim at making it a short one; and it will also be one of the first requisites in his eyes that it be not allowed to overpass the limits of Italy and assume a European character, giving rise to unforeseeable conjunctures. He must wish it to be an Italian war confined to Italy; and he will seek to insure this by a previous understanding with Russia, the influence of which great Power, if exerted in unison with the objects of France, will wholly neutralise the influence of Great Britain and Prussia on the other side. If he have come to an understanding with Russia, to the effect that Russia will have no objection to the French army assisting Sardinia, provided the war be not allowed to assume a revolutionary character, and if Russia be not disinclined to see her hated neighbour weakened by the loss of Lombardy, then Napoleon has a clear field before him, and may reckon upon being able to follow it up without any material opposition from the other Powers. Great Britain and Prussia will send protocols, but no troops; and the French Emperor, coolly assuring them that he is fighting merely to "consolidate the peace of Europe," by removing one

of the disturbing conditions, will prosecute his game to its close. At present the available strength of our fleet is no more than equal to that of France, and far below that of the fleets of France and Russia united. The British fleet could most seriously obstruct the military plans of the French Emperor with it against him, indeed, we do not believe that he could ever force his way through the bristling fortresses and riverlines of Lombardy to the Carinthian Alps. And probably it is on the threat of a naval alliance between France and Russia against us, if we venture to interfere, that he reckons most confidently to secure our nonintervention. This war with Austria he regards as a neat little enterprise that can be carried on while the rest of Europe is at peace; and now is the time when it might be executed most successfully. Once the disintegration of the Turkish empire fairly begins-and it cannot be delayed above a few years the alliances of the European Powers will probably undergo another change, and in any case France will then have important work on her hands of another kind. Now, when Russia is willing to see Austria weakened, and when none of the other Powers can well interfere, is the time for the French Emperor to win brilliant renown for himself as the "Liberator of Italy," and also to gain a powerful position in the Italian peninsula, such as may be turned to good account in the farther and grander strife that is likely to ensue when the Ottoman empire falls to pieces, and the Powers of Christendom quarrel as to the distribution of the spoil.

In the threatening aspect of the hour, the British Government has a difficult and momentous part to play. Great Britain has long befriended Italy. For the last half-centuryever since the Battle of Maida shook

the tyrannous domination of Napoleon I. in Southern Italy, and first taught his army the terrors of a charge of British bayonets, it is to England that the Italians have looked for sympathy and support in their yearnings after internal reforms. England has literally been the only Power in the world that has cared for them and moved on their behalf. France

has never stirred in the matter save in the most openly selfish manner, to advantage herself. Ever since 1814, when her tyrannising legions were flung routed over the Alps, France has intervened but twice in the affairs of Italy; and what like were those interventions? The first time, she seized upon Ancona, which she held for several years; the second time, she sent an army to put down the free government which the Romans had won and established for themselves, and to seize the Eternal City, which she has held by the strong hand ever since. In both of those interventions, the French Government did not interfere for the sake of the Italians, but undisguisedly to extend her own power. It was not to oppose Austria, but simply to keep pace with her in extending over Italy a foreign yoke. The French Government took not a single step to loosen the chains or ameliorate the condition of the Italians; but she gave them one tyrant more. Louis Napoleon acted just like his predecessors. For eight years of his rule he kept military possession of the Papal territory, without ever saying a single word

about reforms. All that time Napoleon held sway in the part of Italy which is notoriously the worst governed, and where the people are most eager to be free, (and where they would be free in a week if the French bayonets were removed) without doing anything but shoot or bayonet those who rebelled against the double tyranny of Pope and Frenchmen. Not till the Congress of Paris did Napoleon begin to do what England had long been doing. And now, when he demands that Austria shall evacuate the eastern portion of the Papal territories, while he does the same for the western, what figure does he cut? Overlooking the fact that Austria is where she is by the special invitation of the Papal Government, while France grasped at Rome unasked, is it not plain that Austria might now reply to the French Emperor, "By your ten years' occupation of Rome, you have recognised and acted upon the very same principle as we have done, and against which you now protest. And if you

now find that you have got yourself into a difficulty by your occupation of Rome, and for your own purposes wish to withdraw, that is certainly no ground for your demanding us also to withdraw from our positions, which do not embarrass us in the least." We question whether Napoleon III. even yet wishes to withdraw his troops from Rome, he so dreads any uprising of the revolution in Italy. It suits him much better to make impossible demands-demands for changes which he knows cannot be carried out at Rome save by force

in order to fasten a quarrel upon Austria, and thereby create a war which may suffice to avert his bête noir, another Revolution.

England helps and befriends Italy, within the limits prescribed by treaty and the principles of international law. But she cannot take part inshe must entirely condemn-an enterprise which is based upon an utter disregard of treaties, and which is undertaken, not for the sake of Italy, but for the advantage of the French Government. She will not violate treaties for the sake of extending the boundaries of Sardinia, or merely to give Italy a change of masters. This is not a war of the Italians against Austria-it is not a natural movement coming from the heart of Italy,

it is a war forced on by France and Sardinia. It is not an impulse of patriotism; it is an act of mature and selfish calculation. A Necessity urges on both of the aggressive Powers. Sardinia, by persisting in keeping up an excessive military establishment, has all but strangled herself with debt, and seeks to free herself by rushing to war and acquiring the rich provinces of Lombardy and Venice. Napoleon III. is a military despot at home, and, by engaging in this Italian war, he calculates alike upon aggrandising the power of France, and upon obviating the outburst of that smouldering revolution which he dreads, and which, were it again to leap forth, would probably engage the French as well as other peoples in a struggle against their despotic Governments. These are potent reasons of self-interest for the French and Sardinian Governmen taking the course they medi

[graphic]
« AnteriorContinua »