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were different. Sardinia was a 'Power'; Cavour was recognised as among the ablest of European diplomatists. At Paris he had withstood Austria to the face, and had denounced in open congress the hideous misgovernment which prevailed in Naples and in the Romagna. He had enlisted the sympathy of England and had all but secured the alliance of France.
The seed sown at Paris in 1856 fructified at Plombières in 1858. The astute diplomatist threw his net over the whilom conspirator who now sat upon the Imperial throne of France. The motives which inspired the Italian policy of Napoleon III have been frequently canvassed and still remain obscure. They would not have been Napoleon's had they not been complex and contradictory. He was not wholly the 'vulpine knave,' pictured and denounced by Garibaldi. He was not wholly anything. But he was genuinely attracted to Italy; and one of his first acts as President was to send a French army to Rome to succour the Pope and foil the efforts of the Republican conspirators with whom he had formerly consorted. It pleased the French clericals, but it was the first of several contradictory miscalculations which eventually brought him to Sedan. In Paris Cavour dangled the bait before his eyes with consummate adroitness. Had not the Italian campaign of 1796 revealed to Europe the military genius of the first Napoleon? What better field for the display of the genius of his nephew? Napoleon I had posed as the liberator' of Italy, and had actually gone far to promote its unity. Might not Napoleon III win still more enduring fame by accomplishing the purpose professed by his predecessor? Could the Third Empire be sustained without the glamour of successful war? What foeman better worthy of his steel than Austria?
Whatever may have been the precise bait offered by Cavour, it was swallowed by Napoleon. The understanding arrived at in Paris was confirmed, despite or possibly because of the inauspicious Orsini episode, at Plombières. Austria was to be expelled from the Peninsula; and northern and central Italy were to be united
* Cf. Thayer, i, 176, and MM. Bourgeois and Clermont, Rome et Napoléon III.
under the House of Savoy. In return, Savoy was to be ceded to France, and perhaps Nice as well; and Victor Emmanuel was to give his daughter in marriage to the Emperor's cousin, Prince Jerome. Both sacrifices were painful, but Cavour was convinced that the deadweight of the Austrian incubus could not be lifted without foreign help. England, though prodigal of sympathy, was adamant against intervention. France was the only hope; and Napoleon's terms, therefore, had to be accepted.
In January 1859 Europe was startled by the news that Napoleon, at his New Year's Day reception, had addressed the Austrian Ambassador as follows: 'Je regrette que les relations entre nous soient si mauvaises.' It was a bolt from the blue. Still more startling were the words of Victor Emmanuel when, on January 10, he opened Parliament at Turin:
'Our country, small in territory, has acquired credit in the councils of Europe because she is great in the idea she represents, in the sympathy she inspires. The situation is not free from peril, for, while we respect treaties, we cannot be insensible to the cry of anguish which comes to us from many parts of Italy.'
The significance of the words was instantly apprehended; and Massari, an eye-witness of the scene in the Chamber, declares the effect of them to have been electric. Diplomacy did its best to avert war, but on April 23 Austria demanded that Sardinia should disarm. Cavour instantly accepted the challenge; and three weeks later Victor Emmanuel welcomed at Genoa the 'magnanimous ally who had come to 'liberate Italy from the Alps to the Adriatic.' Exactly nine weeks later he started home again. In Turin the traitor of Villafranca 'met an arctic chill.' 'Thank God he's gone,' was Victor Emmanuel's exclamation, after bidding his ally farewell.
As to the campaign itself, Mr Thayer subjects the accounts given in the French despatches to searching criticism, which it is impossible here to follow in detail. Magenta, San Martino and Solferino have been generally accepted as resounding victories for the allies. With a more equal distribution of luck the issue, according to Mr Thayer, might easily have been different. As it was, the victor stopped short after Solferino and sought Vol. 216.-No. 431,
an armistice from the vanquished; on July 8 the two Emperors, after personal negotiations, came to terms. Italy was to be free not to the Adriatic but only to the Mincio; Austria was to retain Venetia and the Quadrilateral; Lombardy was to be annexed to Piedmont; Leopold of Tuscany and Francis of Modena were to be restored, but without recourse to force'; Italy was to be united in a confederation under the honorary presidency of the Pope.
The truce of Villafranca has been endlessly discussed; and, though Mr Thayer canvasses every point with conscientious thoroughness, it cannot be said that he throws much fresh light upon one of the dark places of history. That Napoleon had good grounds for ending the war is no longer disputed. French financiers were already grumbling at the enormous cost of the war; the politicians saw no recompense in sight; the Austrians, though driven back behind the Mincio, were not really beaten. Much to his own disgust, Napoleon found himself abetting the Revolution in Italy; to the dismay of the Empress and the clericals, his success in the north was endangering the position of the Pope; the English Government was regarding with increasing suspicion the Italian adventure of the French Emperor; Prussia was actually mobilising with a view to an offer of mediation.' The last-named development was not less alarming to the Austrian Emperor than to Napoleon. It was, indeed, the determining factor in his acceptance of the proffered terms. The gist of the thing is,' wrote Moltke to his brother, that Austria would rather give up Lombardy than see Prussia at the head of Germany.'*
Mr Thayer, despite his obvious dislike of Napoleon, has a sound appreciation of his Italian policy:
'Nothing' (he writes) 'can be clearer now than that Napoleon was justified by the interests of France and of his dynasty in stopping the war. "To serve Italian independence," he told the dignitaries of France on his return to St Cloud, "I made war against the wish of Europe; as soon as the fate of my country seemed to be imperilled I made peace." . . . We need not charge Napoleon with premeditated deceit, much less with deliberate treachery. . . . He had indeed broken down the
Thayer ii, 101.
dam behind which for forty years the rising flood of national desire had been pent up. The rush of waters startled him; he foresaw that they might sweep out of his control.'
Victor Emmanuel strove to do justice to his ally, and never in his whole career showed himself more truly great than in the terrible days after the signature of the truce of Villafranca. If Napoleon's end was justified, the means he adopted were detestable. He treated his Italian allies shamefully. Nevertheless, hurt and indignant as he was, Victor Emmanuel possessed that clarity of vision and steadiness of judgment which enabled him to perceive that much had been accomplished. The political unity of Italy,' he said, 'since Novara a possibility, has become, since Villafranca, a necessity.'
It was otherwise with Cavour. For the first and only time in his life he completely lost his head. It is not difficult to understand and to forgive him. The French alliance and the war of 1859 were his work. He hoped to secure from it the expulsion of the Austrians, the expansion of Piedmont, a union in Central Italy.' What it actually achieved was far less-and more. This truth Victor Emmanuel perceived; Cavour, in his anger, did not. He wanted his master to repudiate the armistice, to decline the gift of Lombardy, to continue the war alone,' to fall, if it must be, with reputation unsullied.' The King's good sense prevailed over the Minister's temporary madness. I am as furious as he over this peace, but I don't lose my compass; I don't lose my reason.' Within six months Cavour acknowledged his error and his debt to the Emperor of the French.
'How many germs contained in the treaty of Villafranca have developed in marvellous fashion! The political campaign which followed the peace of Villafranca has been as glorious for the Emperor, and more advantageous for Italy than the military campaign which preceded it. . . . He has thereby earned the right to be classed among the greatest benefactors of mankind.' (Cavour to Prince Napoleon, Jan. 25, 1860.)
We recall with regret Cavour's temporary lapse of judgment, but there is another point on which it is even more essential to insist. While Victor Emmanuel
Ib. ii, 115-117.
and Napoleon were fighting the Austrians, Cavour had an infinitely delicate diplomatic campaign to conduct with the European Courts on one side, and with the States of Central Italy on the other. No sooner was the war declared between Sardinia and Austria than there ensued in Central Italy, in Mr Thayer's phrase, a 'stampede to unity.' In Tuscany, Modena, Parma and Piacenza the alien rulers were expelled, and the peoples declared for fusion with Piedmont. Bologna and the Romagna were not behind the Duchies in their enthusiasm. Cavour had a difficult game to play, but he played it with consummate skill. Nothing must be done to check the enthusiasm of the inhabitants of the Duchies or of Romagna, but nothing could be risked which would endanger the French Alliance. Cavour more than half suspected Napoleon's design of setting up a separate kingdom in Central Italy, perhaps for Prince Napoleon. He was fully aware of the susceptibilities of the French clericals and his ally's dependence upon their support. It is not too much to say that, but for the singular adroitness of his diplomacy at this most critical juncture, Napoleon's intervention in Italy might have had an entirely different sequel, and Italy might to-day present the spectacle of a loosely federated State-perhaps republican in form-instead of a unitary kingdom.
As regards the European Courts, his task was of a different but not less difficult nature.
'Cavour's efforts during May and June aimed' (as Mr Thayer well says) 'at preventing the ruler of tiny Piedmont from becoming merely the vassal of the mighty Emperor of France. The European cabinets acted almost as if Victor Emmanuel were a negligible quantity. When they negotiated, it was with Paris and not with Turin ; and they believed that, at the day of settlement, Napoleon would order and the King would obey. They assumed that the kingdom of Upper Italy, won by French arms, would be, in fact, whatever it might pretend to be, merely an appanage of the French Empire. This was what Cavour strove to prevent: this was what his connivance in the patriotic revolutions did prevent' (ii, 105).
After Villafranca, Cavour was for a few months out of office; luckily he was not out of power. For they were critical months in the history of Italian unity. There was no certainty as to what would happen to the Central