The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:19 am

The Life of Mazzini
by Bolton King, M.A.
FIRST PUBLISHED IN THIS EDITION 1912
REPRINTED 1914, 1919, 1929

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Table of Contents:

• Preface
• Chapter 1
• Chapter 2
• Chapter 3
• Chapter 4
• Chapter 5
• Chapter 6
• Chapter 7
• Chapter 8
• Chapter 9
• Chapter 10
• Chapter 11
• Chapter 12
• Chapter 13
• Chapter 14
• Chapter 15
• Chapter 16
• Chapter 17
• Chapter 18
• Chapter 19
• Appendix A
• Appendix B
• Index
• Notes
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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

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Preface

This volume contains a life of Mazzini and a study of his thought. It can hardly be said that any serious attempt has been made either in England or Italy to deal with either. Hence the present volume, however unequal to the subject, may have its use. The thirty years, which have passed since Mazzini's death, make it possible now to place him in his true perspective; and the author trusts that the supreme admiration, which he feels for Mazzini as a man, has not prevented him from viewing the politician with impartiality. There exists abundant matter to allow us to judge Mazzini's political work, and it is unlikely that anything yet to be published will seriously affect our estimate of it. For the personal side of Mazzini's life, the moment is not a very opportune one. Ten years ago it would have been possible to glean reminiscences from many, who are now silent. It has been the author's privilege, however, to obtain invaluable information from two of the very few persons now living, who knew Mazzini intimately. While it is nearly too late for personal reminiscences, it is too early to avail oneself fully of Mazzini's correspondence. A good many of his letters have indeed been published, and I have been able to use a good many unpublished ones, especially his correspondence with Mr and Mrs Peter Taylor, which I have found of the greatest value. But unfortunately only one volume has as yet appeared of the collected edition of his correspondence, and there are still probably many of his letters, which have yet to come to light in Italy.

With regard to the study, which occupies the second part of this volume, the author is very sensible of his limitations in dealing with so vast and complex a system as Mazzini's ethical and political thought. It is his hope that he may do something to stimulate more competent writers to labour in a very fruitful field. He believes that the more Mazzini's thought is disentangled, the more its essential importance will appear.

I have to acknowledge gratefully the kindness of those who have helped me in writing this book. Above all I am indebted to Mr and Mrs W. T. Malleson, to whom I owe the loan of the Peter Taylor correspondence and other invaluable help; to Miss Shaen for letting me see Mazzini's letters to her father, Mr W. Shaen, and the MS. of the "Prayer for the Planters," now first published; to Mr Milner-Gibson Cullum, Miss Dorothea Hickson, Mr Mazzini Stuart, Mr P. S. King, and Miss Galeer for the loan of unpublished letters from Mazzini. I have also to acknowledge my grateful thanks to many others, who have assisted me, among whom I would especially mention Miss Ashurst Biggs, Signor Mario Borsa, Mr James Bryce, M.P., Mr W. Burnley, Signora Giuditta Casali-Benvenuti (to whom I owe the portrait of her grandmother, Giuditta Sidoli), Mr T. Chambers, Signor Felice Dagnino, Signor G. Gallavresi, Mrs Goodwin, Miss Edith Harvey, Mr H. M. Hyndman, Dr Courtney Kenny, Miss Lucy Martineau, Professor Masson, Mr C. E. Maurice, Mademoiselle Dora Melegari, Mr D. Nathan, Mr T. Okey, Mr Chas. Roberts, Mr J. J. Stansfeld, the Società Editrice Sonzogno (for permission to reproduce some illustrations from Madame White Mario's life of Mazzini), Mr W. R. Thayer, and Mr Remsen Whitehouse.

BOLTON KING

October 1902

A reissue of the book has allowed me to revise it in the light of recent publications referring to Mazzini. A good many more of his letters have been printed since 1902 (including a second volume of the Epistolario), but with the exception of Mademoiselle Melegari's collection of his letters to her father, they are not important. Nor, with the exception of Signor Cantimori's illuminating Saggio, have I found any useful recent studies of his thought. I still adhere to the view that subsequent research will add little to our knowledge of him. I am glad, however, to be able now to take a different view of his connection with the publication of Kossuth's manifesto in 1853, and of Madame Sidoli's mission to Florence in 1833 (see pp. 68 and 169).

BOLTON KING

WARWICK, November 1911
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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

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Chapter 1: The Home at Genoa (1805-1831. AETAT 0-25

Boyhood and Youth—University Life—Literary Studies—Classicism and Romanticism—Joins the Carbonari—Arrest and Exile.

Joseph Mazzini was born in the Via Lomellina at Genoa on June 22, 1805. His father was a doctor of some repute and Professor of Anatomy at the University, a democrat in creed and life, who gave much of his time to unpaid service of the poor; at home affectionate and loved, though sometimes hard and imperious. His mother, to whom in after life he bore a strong resemblance, was a capable and devoted woman, who had little of the weakness of an Italian mother, and brought up her children to bear the brunt of life; with strong interest in the mighty movements that were remoulding Europe at the time, a mordant critic of governors and governments inside the four walls of her house. It was a happy home, and "Pippo" grew up the darling of his parents and three sisters, a delicate, sensitive, gentle child, quick and insistent to learn despite his father's fears for his health, and giving precocious proof of brilliant talents. He was nearly nine years old, when the Napoleonic system was shattered, and the Emperor went to Elba. Doubtless, Mazzini heard from his father that Napoleon was Italian born and was going to exile in an Italian island. The shock of the downfall was felt at Genoa, for the proud city, to which Lord William Bentinck had promised in the name of England its ancient independence, learnt that "republics were no longer fashionable," and saw itself helplessly made over to the alien rule of Piedmont. Bitterly the Genoese chafed at the traffic of their liberties, and we may be sure that there was republican talk in Mazzini's home, which sank into the mind of the thoughtful child. He himself mentions four influences that turned his boyish mind to democracy: his parents' uniform courtesy to every rank of life; the reminiscences of the French republican wars in the talk at home; some numbers of an old Girondist paper, which his father kept half hidden, for fear of the police, behind his medical books; and—more than all these, probably—the classics that he read under his Latin tutor. "The history of Greece and Rome," wrote a fellow-student, "the only thing taught us with any care at school, was little else than a constant libel upon monarchy, and a panegyric upon the democratic form of government." Like many another boy of his time who had for school exercises to declaim the praises of Cato and the Bruti, he came to regard republics as the appointed homes of virtue. It was the unintended fruit of the classical training, which the despotic governments of the time fostered to keep their youth innocent of any itch for innovation.

So he lived his quiet, studious home-life, till an incident one day, when he was nearly sixteen, suddenly changed its tenor. The Carbonaro revolutions of 1820 and 1821 had ended in deserved collapse; and the Piedmontese Liberals, abandoned and defeated, crowded to Genoa and Sampierdarena, while yet there was time to escape to Spain. Some had fled penniless, and Mazzini, walking with his mother, noted their despairing faces, and watched while a collection was made for them in the streets. Their memory haunted him, and with a boy's enthusiasm for his heroes, he longed to follow them. He neglected his lessons, and sat moody and absorbed, interested only in gleaning news of the exiles and learning the history of their defeat. In his boyish impatience, which came near the truth, he felt "they might have won, if all had done their duty," and the thought puzzled and obsessed him. He insisted on dressing in black, and kept the habit to the end of life. He brooded over Foscolo'sJacopo Ortis, till the morbid pessimism of the book wrought on him, and his mother, apparently with good reason, feared suicide.

In time he recovered his balance, and went back to his books with the old zest. He was now studying medicine, intending to follow his father's profession; but at his first attendance in the operation room he fainted, and it was clear that he could never be a surgeon. [1] To his father it must have been a sore disappointment, but he seems to have at once recognised the inevitable, and allowed the lad to read law. Mazzini had little heart in his new studies, for the 4arid, perfunctory teaching of law current at the time had small attraction for one who wanted to know the reason of things; but he persevered, and did well in his examinations, though it is probable that he always gave a big slice of his time to reading poetry and history. He was now at the University. Probably he went to school, though there is some doubt about it; at all events he seems to have escaped the brutality and bad pedagogy, which generally made school life then one long misery for a high-principled or sensitive lad. University life began at an early age in Italy, and Mazzini had matriculated at Genoa, when he was fourteen. So far as his fellow-students were concerned, he was in happy surroundings. But he was a troublesome scholar, always ready to rebel against the formalities that made a big part of University life. To the last he refused to attend the compulsory religious observances, not because he disliked them, but because they were compulsory; and the authorities, tolerant for once, shut their eyes to his insubordination. The University of Genoa did not possess a high name for scholarship; and at this time it had its special drawbacks, for the government was scared by the recent revolution, and fearful that a few hundred lads might shake the pillars of the state. No one could matriculate without a certificate that he had regularly attended church and confession. Those whose parents did not possess a certain quantity of landed property, had to pass a stiffer examination, though at the worst, it is probable, not a very prohibitive one. Lecturers, beadles, porters, all had the cue from government to make life unpleasant for the students, and the better professors dared not be detected in any leniency or considerateness. Moustaches were forbidden, as a mark of the revolutionary mind, and if any student, greatly daring, grew them, he was carried off between two carabineers to a barber's shop.

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House at Genoa in which Mazzini was born

Mazzini soon became a leader among the clean-living, affectionate, impetuous undergraduates. His appearance was now, as always, very striking; he had a high and prominent forehead, black, flashing eyes, fine olive features, set in a mass of thick black hair, a grave, serious face, that could look hard at times, but readily melted in the kindliest of smiles. He led a studious, retiring life, fond of gymnastics and fencing, but with small taste for amusements, his cigars and coffee his only indulgences; his days spent among his books, his evenings with his mother, or in long solitary walks that defied the weather, or in rare and stolen visits to the theatre, which he had to leave after the first act, for the home was rigorously shut at ten. But, though he was slow to make close friendships, he was no misanthrope. He played much on the guitar and sang well to it; and his musical talents and clever reciting made him in demand among his middle-class and patrician friends. There was none yet of the half-bitter sadness of after life; he had a shrewd sense of humour, perhaps inherited from his mother; when warmed by enthusiasm or indignation, he could speak with a fiery eloquence, that was remarkable even among those declamatory Italian youths. "My soul," he wrote afterwards, "was then a smile for all created things, life showed to my virgin fancy as a dream of love, my warmest thoughts were for nature's loveliness and the ideal woman of my youth." He revelled in generous actions, sharing books and money, even clothes, with his poorer friends. But it was sheer force of character that gave him his ascendancy over them—the loyal, justice-loving nature that made him champion of every victim of undergraduate or professorial spite, the purity of thought, that checked each loose or coarse word from those about him. That clear, high soul, untouched by self, not knowing fear, passionate for righteousness, gave him even when a lad the power that belongs only to the saints of God.

His closest friends were three brothers, Jacopo, Giovanni, and Agostino Ruffini. Jacopo, the eldest of the three, had perhaps more influence on Mazzini's life than any other man. They were born on the same day; and Jacopo's fine, sensitive, enthusiastic nature matched well with Mazzini's own. The tragic fate, that afterwards brought his life to an early close, only strengthened the influence; and the memory of one so dear, who gave his life for their common cause, remained a perennial inspiration to keep his faith alive in years of weariness and failure. The other brothers had little of Jacopo's temperament. Giovanni at this time was an even-tempered, humourous, brilliant lad; Agostino was impressionable, impulsive, shallow, of quick and artistic nature. Mazzini's closest companions for some years, they proved how little they could rise to his high level, and they repaid his devotion by a want of sympathy and an ingratitude, which, in Agostino's case at all events, was gross. In later life both attained in their small way; both were deputies in the Piedmontese parliament, and Giovanni was minister at Paris. They long moved in English society and had some reputation there. Agostino, who was for a time a teacher at Edinburgh, is the "Signor Sperano" who tells the story of The Poor Clare, in Mrs Gaskell's Round the Sofa. Giovanni, who became as proficient in English as in his mother tongue, wrote two notable but now half-forgotten tales, Lorenzo Benoni andDoctor Antonio, which stand among the best second-rate novels of his time.

Under Mazzini's lead the group of friends at Genoa formed a society to study literature and politics and smuggle in forbidden books. Half the masterpieces of contemporary European literature came at this time under the censor's ban; no foreign papers were admitted except two ultra-monarchical French journals; and contraband was a necessity of literary study. Mazzini's strongest interests took him to literature. He read omnivorously in Italian and French and English and translations from the German. [2] His favourite books, he tells us, were the Bible and Dante, Shakespeare and Byron. His close knowledge of the Gospels comes out in everything he wrote. He shed his orthodoxy indeed as soon as he began to think; he went sometimes to mass, when a lad, and read Condorcet's Esquisse disguised as a missal; but he refused to go to confession as soon as he understood its meaning,—the one thing, apparently, in all his life which pained his mother. For a short time he went through a phase of scepticism, but the Ruffinis' mother soon rescued him from this, and a deep religious faith came to him, to remain the spring of all his life. The poets he loved best were Dante and Byron, and he always remained true to them. From Dante he learnt many of the master-ideas of his mind, the conception of the unity of man and unity of law, the fervid patriotism, the belief in Italy and Rome predestined to be teachers of the world, the faith in Italian Unity, the moral strength that makes life one long fight for good. When only some twenty years old, he wrote an essay on Dante's patriotism, which, however boyish in style, proves his close knowledge of the master. Byron was then at the height of his fame, and then, as always afterwards, Mazzini thought him the greatest of modern English, perhaps of modern European poets. He was "completely fascinated" by Goethe, and would often say that "to pass a day with him or a genius like him would be the fairest day of life." How his admiration for Goethe waned, while that for Byron grew, will be told in another chapter. [3] He read Shakespeare, but always, apparently, with more respect than enjoyment, and Shakespeare too came under the same ban as Goethe. He thought very highly of Schiller, and placed him with Æschylus and Shakespeare, as the third great dramatist of the world. He read a good deal of English literature; at this time he was a fervent admirer of Scott, but he seems afterwards to have lost his interest in him; he knew something at least of Wordsworth and Shelley, Burns and Crabbe. Modern French literature, except de Vigny's and some of Victor Hugo's writings, did not now (nor, with the exception of George Sand and Lamennais, at any time), appeal to him, for he disliked the tendencies of French Romanticism, and already there were the beginnings of his life-long prejudice against most things French. Among his modern fellow-countrymen Alfieri and Foscolo were his favourites; he read Manzoni and Guerrazzi, but largely to criticise them, though he was ready to do justice to the strength of both. He thought Mickiewicz, the Polish national poet, "the most powerful poetic nature of the time." The classics he no doubt read pretty widely, as every educated lad was then bound to do, but none seem to have made much impression on him, except Æschylus, for whom his veneration was unbounded, and Tacitus. Both now and later he gave much time to metaphysical and political writers. He read something of Hegel, whom he detested for his political fatalism, of Kant and Fichte; but the German who influenced him most was the now-forgotten Herder. From him he learned or confirmed his spiritual conception of life, his belief in immortality, his theory of the progress of humanity and man's co-operation in the work of Providence. Among Italian philosophers he studied Giordano Bruno and Vico; he rated the latter at his real worth, and regarded him as the great luminary of an Italian school of thought whose continuity he professed to trace from Pythagoras. Among political writers Macchiavelli certainly impressed him most, as a great Italian patriot, and he excused his morality as a product of his time. He seems to have known a good deal of Voltaire and Rousseau. Of recent political writers, he and his circle most read Guizot and Victor Cousin, whose lectures at this time made them the mentors of young liberalism; he records how the group at Genoa handed on to one another manuscript copies of the lectures, and found their inspiration in the men whom they were soon to regard as traitors.

Now and for long after, literature was the call that spoke sweetest to Mazzini. Politics and conspiracy were constraining but unwelcomed duties; he gave his love to literature. To be a dramatist or write historical novels was at this time his plan of life. Many a time in later years he was still looking for the day, when Italy would be united and free, and, his political task accomplished, he could give himself to the literary schemes he still cherished,—a history of religious ideas, a popular history of Italy, and the editing of a series of the great dramas of the world. But the burden of his country's woe lay too heavily on him to be long forgotten. It was no time now for Dante studies or play-writing. Sadly and unwillingly he convinced himself that at such a time pure literature was no patriot's first task, that the writer, who would not shirk his duty, must make his work political. Not but what the literary critic still appears on every page; but the whole gist of his teaching is that the value of a book is in proportion to its power to inform the reader's soul to love of country and mankind, and impel him to serve his fellows by political action in the sight of God. He held it wasted effort to do, what Manzoni had tried to do,—to school the individual to a smug life of cloistered virtue, a life which in a vicious or torpid society was impossible to the many. No religion, no morality, he taught, is worth the writer's labours, unless it dedicates men to be workers in the public cause, to hold comfort, and, if need be, home and life itself as cheap, while oppression and wrong are stunting other lives, and men and women round are crying to be freed.

He found his opportunity in the controversy between Romanticists and Classicists, which then divided the literary world of Italy into hot factions. Not that he held Romanticism to be any final or faultless form of literature. But when a theory of literary servitude, like Classicism, lent itself to political oppression and depressed the vital and spiritual forces of the country, when a young and vigorous movement was making literature free and stood for liberty all round, he necessarily took his stand for the latter. There could be no political or social regeneration for Italy, till she had a literature that made for freedom and progress. "These literary disputes," he urged, "are bound up with all that is important in social and civil life"; "the legislation and literature of a people always advance on parallel lines," and "the progress of intellectual culture stands in intimate relationship with the political life of the country." It was the aim of the Romanticists "to give Italians an original national literature, not one that is as a sound of passing music to tickle the ear and die, but one that will interpret to them their aspirations, their ideas, their needs, their social movement." And thus, while generously recognising Manzoni's worth, he looked rather to Alfieri and Foscolo, who had scourged political wrong-doing and preached resistance to tyranny; he praised the writers of the Conciliatore, the short-lived Milanese journal of Silvio Pellico and Confalonieri, which, like himself, had turned Romanticism to political purposes. Here and there in his writings of this time a more or less direct political allusion manages to escape the censor's eye. He speaks for the first time of "Young Italy," a name soon to ring through Europe; he pays his tribute to the political exiles; he slips in a remark that the spirit of a state cannot be changed without recasting its institutions. More than this he could not do in a censor-ridden press; perhaps literature was struggling still with politics to command his mind.

As it was, he had trouble enough with the censors. His first published articles appeared in the Indicatore Genovese, a commercial paper issuing at Genoa, whose editor was persuaded to admit short notices of recent books, which gradually swelled into literary essays. Among his later contributions were an article on the historical novel and reviews of Friedrich Schlegel's History of Literature and Guerrazzi's Battle of Benevento. They do not read very well. They are juvenile and exaggerated, and it is amusing to find the twenty-three years' old author telling his coeval Guerrazzi, the young Leghorn novelist, that he had not drunk enough of the cup of life to be a pessimist. The Indicatore gradually became a literary paper, and for a few months the censorship did not see what it was tending to. At the end of 1828, however, about a year after Mazzini began to write in it, it was suppressed. Mazzini easily transferred his energies. Guerrazzi had founded another paper at Leghorn much on the same lines, the Indicatore Livornese, and asked Mazzini to send contributions. Mazzini readily responded; he wrote, besides minor papers, an article on Faust, and attacked the defects of the Romanticist School in an essay on Some Tendencies of European Literature. His writing is still effusive, and generally dogmatic and sententious, but the style has improved. The censorship was 14comparatively lenient in Tuscany, and though the young writers were barred from direct reference to politics, they were able to make the political allusions sufficiently transparent. But the paper grew too daring even for the somnolent Tuscan censors, and, like its predecessor, it was snuffed out after a year of life. Mazzini and Guerrazzi parted, to go on very different ways, and meet again nineteen years later when both were famous.

In the meantime Mazzini had with some difficulty got a footing on the Antologia, the one Italian review of the time that ranked among the great European periodicals. It had been founded some ten years before, in the hope that it might become an Italian Edinburgh Review, by Gino Capponi, the blind Florentine noble who traced his race from the Capponi who bearded Charles VIII., and Vieusseux, a Swiss bookseller who had settled at Florence and opened the one circulating library of any note in Italy. Most of the leading Italian writers of the day contributed to it; and though its aim was avowedly nationalist, and in a sense Liberal, it had succeeded so far, thanks probably to its influential patrons, in eluding the censor's ban. Mazzini wrote for it three articles On the Historical Drama and another On a European Literature. His work had rapidly matured, and there is no trace now of the juvenilities of his earlier efforts. Every page has the mark of the strong, original thought, which made him one of the greatest critics of the century.

Meanwhile he was practising at the bar in a desultory fashion. Sometimes he pleaded in the lower courts as an "advocate of the poor," and was much in demand for his attention and skill. According to the etiquette of the profession, he read in the rooms of a barrister, who limited his interest to seeing that his pupils sat with a book in front of them. The vacations were generally spent in a little country villa at San Secondo, in the Bisagno valley, within sight of a house which the Ruffinis occupied; and he shared in attentions to the Ruffinis' mother, who was now his spiritual guide and dearest friend, or went on botanical walks or shooting expeditions in the lovely hill country. He did not do much of the shooting himself, and when he was more than fifty, he remembered with remorse a thrush that he had mangled when sixteen.

His interests became more and more absorbed by politics. His Genoese home no doubt encouraged this, for the nobles and the working-classes were still unreconciled to Piedmontese rule, while the liberals of the middle classes looked on the annexation only as a step to some wider Italian state. But the local environment was only a minor influence, and Mazzini would doubtless have become a conspirator, had he lived in any other town of Italy. About the time that he began to write in the Indicatore Genovese, he was admitted into the Society of the Carbonari. The Carbonari were at this time suffering from the decadence, which sooner or later palsies every secret society. They had grown out of Neapolitan Freemasonry in the days of the French rule, and when, after Napoleon's fall, reaction came and the old dynasties returned, they swept into their ranks the mass of discontented men, who, with very varying political ideals, were at one in resenting the small tyrannies, the bigotry and obscurantism of the princes, who had come back from exile to misgovern and sometimes to oppress. The high level of their tenets, their appeals to religion and morality, the esoteric symbolism of their rites, the vague democratic sentiment that was often only skin-deep, had made them a vast Liberal organisation. Since they had made and wrecked the revolutions of Naples and Piedmont seven years before, they had kept the skeleton of their party together with considerable skill and persistency. But the conspiracy had changed its character. It was no longer a purely Italian society, for the exiles had carried it into France and Spain, and the headquarters were now at Paris, where Lafayette and the Orleanist conspirators were using it to upset the Legitimist monarchy and dreamed of a league of Latin countries to balance the Holy Alliance. In Italy the democratic sentimentalism had left it, it had lost touch with the masses, and its leaders were mostly middle-aged men of the professional classes, who discouraged young recruits, and had no wish to step outside their meaningless small formalisms and barren talk of liberty.

Mazzini had little stomach for their ritualism and lack of purpose, their love of royal and noble leaders; and probably the subordinate position, that as a young man he necessarily took, sat uncomfortably on him. But at all events they were the only revolutionary organisation in the country, and he admired the bravery of men, who risked prison or exile for however inadequate an end. Though fitfully in practice, he had a theoretic belief in subordination, which prepared him for the moment to act under orders. But as soon as he joined the Carbonari and swore the usual oath of initiation over a bared dagger, he began to see the futility of it all. He found that he was sworn only to obey his unknown chiefs, and he was allowed to know the names of two or three only of his fellow-conspirators. He suspected that their political programme, if they had any, was but a thin one. All the Italian in him revolted against men, who talked lightly of their country, and preached that salvation could only come from France. The subscription to the Society's funds, of which, needless to say, no account was rendered, was sufficiently heavy to bear hardly on his slender purse. He was so sickened by a melodramatic announcement, perhaps in bluff, that a member was to be assassinated for criticising the chiefs, that he threatened to withdraw. His unknown superiors, however, apparently thought well of him, and he was commissioned to go on propagandist work to Tuscany, where he made a few recruits. He seems to have returned in better spirits as to the future of the Society; and if we may believe Giovanni Ruffini, he began with a few young co-affiliates to organise on his own account, nominally in the name of the Carbonari, but really to substitute a more vigorous association. His plan was apparently to bring the Carbonari of Tuscany and Bologna into closer touch with those of Genoa and Piedmont. He asked for a passport for Bologna on the pretext that he wanted to examine a Dante manuscript, but was told by the police, that if he had no more important business, he could wait. Baffled in this, he returned to his semi-independent conspiracy at home. The July Revolution in France had raised the hopes of liberals everywhere; and he and his friends enrolled affiliates, discarding the Carbonaro lumber of oaths and secret signs, and simply pledging them to act, if an insurrection proved possible. Bullets were cast, and other juvenile preparations made. How far he succeeded in enlisting followers, we do not know, for he himself has left hardly any record of the plan.

At all events, it was abruptly nipped. The government had its secret agents among the Carbonari, and Mazzini was arrested on the charge of initiating one of them. It is probable that the authorities had suspected him for some time. He was, as the governor of Genoa told his father, "gifted with some talent, and too fond of walking by himself at night absorbed in thought. What on earth," asked the offended officer, "has he at his age to think about? We don't like young people thinking without our knowing the subject of their thoughts." Mazzini was taken to the fortress of Savona, where he consoled himself by watching the sea and sky, which made all the prospect from his cell windows, and taming a serin finch, which would fly in through the gratings, and to which he "became exceedingly attached." His case came before the Senate of Turin, the highest court in the country. In the eyes of the law he was supremely guilty; but, with an adroitness that he afterwards recalled with pride, he managed to destroy all compromising papers, and there was only one witness of the initiation, whereas the law required two. Mazzini stoutly denied the fact. The denial was more than a plea of not guilty in an English court; perhaps he thought that a conspirator is bound to put his government outside the pale of moral obligation. But whatever we may allow for his position, the plain man will count his action as one of the disingenuous lapses, that rarely, now and again, stain the clear honour of his life.

The court had to acquit him, but the authorities had too much evidence of his activity to leave him unmolested. They gave him the choice between internment in a small town or exile. Contemporary events decided him. The revolution had just broken out in Central Italy; the French government had encouraged the Carbonari to expect direct or indirect assistance, and Mazzini thought that he would serve the cause best at Paris, whence, he confidently hoped, he would soon return to a liberated Italy. In February 1831 he said his good-byes to his family, who had hastened to Savona, and crossed the Apennines and, for the first time, the Alps, afterwards so familiar and beloved. He watched the sunrise from Mont Cenis, and has left a memorable description of it, drawn with all the wealth of his artistic imagery. At Geneva he made the acquaintance of Sismondi and his Scotch wife. While there, he was advised to join the Italian exiles at Lyons, and, giving up the projected journey to Paris, he made his way to them.
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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

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Chapter 2: Young Italy

1831-1833. AETAT 25-27

Condition of Italy—The Revolution of 1831—Young Italy—Its principles: belief in Italy; inspiration of duty; social reform—Its political system: Republicanism; Italian Unity; war with Austria—Secret societies.

The governor of the prison at Savona had allowed him to read the Bible, Byron, and Tacitus, innocently thinking that they contained no revolutionary material. Out of these and Dante sprang Young Italy. Italy was ripe for the teaching of the epoch-making society. The country was "a geographical expression." Conquerors, whose appetites had been tempted by the Southern land, had carved it into appanages for themselves. Austria held Lombardy and the lands of the Venetian republic; the King of Piedmont ruled the North-West, and Sardinia, and Savoy across the Alps; the Bourbons of Naples had the South; the Pope, the grand-duke of Tuscany, the petty dukes of Modena, Parma, and Lucca divided up the Centre. Nor had there been any serious demand for unity. History and character sundered North and South; the great medieval cities still cherished their independence too dearly to wish to sink it in a common country. Napoleon, while he ruled, had gone far to unite the land both in form and substance; and the aspirations he did so much to create survived him. Weak though they still were, practical grievances were ever enforcing the argument for unity; and Italians were chafing more and more against the artificial barriers, which stopped the circulation of the nation's life. The customs-lines, that met the trader on the confines of each state, strangled commerce. Literature circulated with difficulty, and the Genoese could hardly get access to books published at Florence or Leghorn, a hundred miles away. In the smaller states at all events, the area was too small to offer any field for enterprise, and every lawyer and engineer and civil servant was cribbed by the restrictions, that confined his activities to a handful of towns. Through all the peninsula there was a more or less intolerable misrule. Political disabilities allowed no voice in legislation, no control of taxation or the executive, no rights of public meeting or association, small liberty of speech or writing. There were more present grievances in the discouragement of education, in the clerical tyranny, in the obsolete and partial legal system. And the misgovernment had its yet more evil and intimate aspect in the power of the police, which threatened each man's home and honour and career. Governments, that breathed and moved in chronic dread of revolution, sought safety in a system of covert terrorism. The police had their spies everywhere,—in the streets, in men's households, in the churches, in the universities,—to scrape up any idle word or act, that seemed to mark a possible critic of government. There were mitigations of the misrule in Piedmont, Tuscany, and the Austrian territories. But in the Pope's states and Naples there was little or nothing to relieve the crying corruption and incompetency; and everywhere there was more or less a vexatious intolerance and oppression, that showed the blacker after the relative liberty and progress of Napoleon's rule.

The Carbonari had voiced somewhat fitfully the national protest. And just at this time they made their final attempt at revolution. Early in February 1831,—just before Mazzini was released from Savona,—the insurrection broke out in Modena, and spread at once to Parma and the Papal province of Romagna. In three weeks the greater part of the Pope's dominions were free, and the insurgent army was marching towards Rome. The leaders knew that, however easy it was to upset the rule of the Pope and Dukes, they could make no effective resistance to an Austrian attack; but they counted on the promised backing of France to ward off invasion. "Non-intervention,"—the European equivalent of the Monroe Doctrine,—was one of the formulas of the July Monarchy, and by it Austria had no right to interfere in the domestic concerns of an Italian state. The French government had assured the Carbonari, that, if she violated the principle, it would declare war against her. But only a section of the ministry was sincere in the promise, and Louis Philippe saw that a war in the name of nationality might easily slide into a revolutionary movement, which would shake his own unsure throne. His government let Metternich know that non-intervention was a phrase that stopped at words. By the end of March, despite some fine fighting by the Italian levies, the Austrians had stamped out the ephemeral insurrection. Its feebleness courted failure. Not that the programme of the leaders wanted breadth and boldness. Mazzini's after criticism that it was neither nationalist nor democratic was exaggerated and unjust. During their few weeks of rule, the chiefs had showered projects of social reform. Some of them at all events wished to make Romagna the centre of a great national rising, and aimed at an independent federation of all Italy with Rome for its capital. But they made two irreparable mistakes. They did not face the facts; they failed to win the people. They were for the most part, like the rest of the Carbonaro leaders, middle-aged professional men, out of touch with the masses, possessed by the dread that popular imprudences might scare the diplomatists, on whom they built their hopes. Under an inspiring chief, the people would have fought perhaps, as they fought seventeen years later, when they drove the Austrians in confusion from Bologna. But the leaders were not the men to touch their enthusiasm. They had, in fact, miscalculated what the movement meant. These comfortable men of peace flinched from the fact that Austria must be fought and beaten. They had no stuff for a desperate guerilla fight, that meant the wasting of the country, privation and disease and death, for an uncertain hope that France might come eventually to the rescue. Still less were they prepared to launch on a forlorn enterprise, where friends were none and immediate disaster certain, that they might be precursors of their children's victories.

Their failure, so consonant with all the later Carbonaro policy, confirmed Mazzini in his belief that a new organisation was needed and new men to lead it. As usual, he saw only one set of facts. He exaggerated the mistakes of the revolutionary governments, and left out of his reckoning the unreadiness of the people. The insurrections had failed, he convinced himself, simply because they had been badly led. In the main, indeed, he was right. The revolution had been in the wrong hands. The Carbonaro chiefs kept at arm's-length younger men, whose energy might have made up for their own unforwardness. If the next revolution was to fare better, it must have these younger men to captain it, men of confidence and enthusiasm and fresh ideas, men with a message that would nerve "those artisans of insurrection, the people and the young." Mazzini had at this time a supreme faith in his generation; he had already written in the Antologia of "this young Italy of ours," so vigorous and cultured and warm-hearted, that no new movement, however bold and difficult, was beyond its powers. "Place," he said now, "the young at the head of the insurgent masses; you do not know what strength is latent in those young bands, what magic influence the voice of the young has on the crowd; you will find in them a host of apostles for the new religion. But youth lives on movement, grows great in enthusiasm and faith. Consecrate them with a lofty mission; inflame them with emulation and praise; spread through their ranks the word of fire, the word of inspiration; speak to them of country, of glory, of power, of great memories." They had been muzzled in the past; they must not be again. So rigidly did he insist on this, that the rules of Young Italy excluded from membership, except in special cases, all who were over forty years. Mazzini had no diffidence to curb the magnificent egotism of a design, in which he consciously destined for himself the leading part. As one of his closest friends of those days said, "his confidence in men was great and in himself unlimited." "All great national movements," he wrote in later years, "begin with unknown men of the people, without influence except for the faith and will, that counts not time or difficulties." It is worth noting that Camillo Cavour, five years younger still, was at this same time writing to a friend that "he would one fine morning wake up Prime Minister of Italy."

When we disentangle Mazzini's ideas from the superfluous verbiage that sometimes wraps them, two leading principles are found to differentiate them from those of earlier movements,—the principles, that, with his trick of making watchwords, he summed up in the phrase, "God and the People." The new movement must have the inspiration and power of a religion. Italy needed something that would shake her from the hopelessness of disillusion and defeat, something that would prove she "had a strength within her, that was arbiter of facts, mightier than destiny itself." Action must be roused by action, energy by energy, faith by faith,—the faith that made Rome great and inspired Christianity and sent forth the armies of the Convention, the faith that makes the weak strong in the knowledge they are carrying out God's will. Mazzini had two arguments to persuade his countrymen to this believing and conquering patriotism. He hoped to fire them with his own superb faith in Italy and her destinies. He called up "that old name of Italy, hung round with memories and glory and majestic griefs, that centuries of mute servitude could not destroy." Twice had she been queen of the world; many times had she, the land of Dante and Vico, of the Papacy and the Renaissance, inspired European thought. "Italy," he said, "has been called a graveyard; but a graveyard peopled by our mighty dead is nearer life than a land that teems with living weaklings and braggarts." Her task was not yet done; she had still to speak to the nations "the gospel of the new age, the gospel of humanity." He pointed Italians to "the vision of their country, radiant, purified by suffering, moving as an angel of light among the nations that thought her dead." Rightly he judged that men, who shared his faith, would never despair of their country. But he had a more sounding note to strike. He had the genius to see that he who would have men rise to high endeavour, must appeal to their unselfish motives, that only when some great principle calls, will they lift themselves to heroism and sacrifice of all that makes life dear. The effort to make Italy meant the loss of thousands of lives, meant exile and imprisonment and poverty, the blighting of homes and the misery of dear ones; and men would only face it at the call of duty. The Carbonari had no call; they came of a school that appealed to interested motives, and the appeal inevitably broke down in the day of disappointment and defeat. Mazzini offered his countrymen "a national religion"; Young Italy was no mere political party, but "a creed and an apostolate"; it taught that victory came "by reverence for principles, reverence for the just and true, by sacrifice and constancy in sacrifice." As individuals and as a nation, they had a mission given them by God. God's law of duty bade them follow it; God's law of progress promised them accomplishment.

The other principle of Young Italy was social reform. Earlier liberal movements had thought or attempted little for the masses, though at all events the recent rising in Romagna aimed higher than Mazzini gave it credit for, and had more of a democratic tendency than contemporary movements in France and England. Mazzini exaggerated the revolutionary impatience of the masses in 1821 and 1831; but it was true that such enthusiasm as they had, had been cooled by the disappointment of their hopes. Revolutions, as he said, had been Dead Sea apples to them. They would be slow to stir again, till they saw that the liberation of their country had tangible social results in store. The gospel of duty would rouse the cultured middle classes, but at this time he seems to have thought that the uneducated, down-trodden, priest and official-ridden masses could not respond to the higher call, and must be won by some visible prospect of relief from present evils. Pope Julius' cry of "Out with the barbarian" would not touch men, who did not see how every social injustice leant in the last resort on Austria, how dear food, conscription, all the petty tyranny, were fruits of the foreign domination, that sheltered the princes who misgoverned them. Till the masses felt this, there was no hope of a successful war of liberation. "Revolutions," he said, "must be made for the people and by the people, and so long as revolutions are, as now, the inheritance and monopoly of a single class, and lead only to the substitution of one aristocracy for another, we shall never find salvation." The cry of the poor, unheard by most Italian statesmen from his time, down to yesterday, was ever with him. "I see the people pass before my eyes in the livery of wretchedness and political subjection, ragged and hungry, painfully gathering the crumbs that wealth tosses insultingly to it, or lost and wandering in riot and the intoxication of a brutish, angry, savage joy; and I remember that those brutalised faces bear the finger-print of God, the mark of the same mission as our own. I lift myself to the vision of the future and behold the people rising in its majesty, brothers in one faith, one bond of equality and love, one ideal of citizen virtue that ever grows in beauty and might; the people of the future, unspoilt by luxury, ungoaded by wretchedness, awed by the consciousness of its rights and duties. And in the presence of that vision my heart beats with anguish for the present and glorying for the future." That they would rise in insurrection, he had no doubt. Once make them see whence sprang their wretchedness, where stood its remedies, once make them feel that "God is on the side of the down-trodden," the people of Italy would be again what they had been in the days of the Lombard League and the Sicilian Vespers.

Out of these principles,—social reform as the immediate end of revolution and duty as its inspiration,—Mazzini built up an elaborate political programme. He loved system-making and hardly apologised for it. You cannot have unity or harmony without it, he urged, and to a certain extent he had practical justification. It were better, as he said and as subsequent events proved, that the nationalists should argue out their differences before the time for action came, and not paralyse themselves by quarrels in front of the enemy. It was this want of a positive programme, that was, he thought, largely responsible for the failure of the Carbonari. Their policy had hardly gone beyond the overthrow of the existing governments; and they had mustered under their flag royalists and republicans, conservatives and liberals, with the inevitable result that after their first successes they split their ranks and fell an easy prey. It were wiser, so Mazzini pleaded, to be few but united. "The strength of an association depends not on its numbers but on its homogeneity." But the principle was necessarily an intolerant one. It barred many a true patriot, who could not swear to the whole Mazzinian doctrine. For such he had no pity. In his view it was only fear, "the Almighty God of most politicians," that prevented the Moderates from accepting his position. "There can be no moderation," he said at a later date, "between good and evil, truth and error, progress and reaction." Unluckily truth to him too often meant adhesion to his own theories; and he could never forgive men, who, starting from his premisses, could not follow his logic to the end, though, like most men who pride themselves on being logical, he was often singularly incapable of accurate reasoning. It was this intolerance that wrecked so much of his after life, that made him waste his splendid powers in fighting men, by whose side he ought to have been working.

However, for better or worse, Mazzini required from his fellow-workers implicit acceptance of his theories,—theories which embraced every sphere of national life, religion and politics, literature and art. His chief political doctrines were republicanism and Italian Unity. How he pieced republicanism on his general theory of things, is the subject of another chapter. It is sufficient here to note that he was a republican, chiefly because he thought that democratic legislation was impossible under any form of monarchy. The belief was natural enough at the time. Few had been the popular reforms under any European crown, while the one genuine series of democratic laws had been passed by the French Republic or while the French monarchy was tottering to its fall. Mazzini may be pardoned, if at that time he sharply sundered monarchies and republics, and failed to see how imperfect was the classification. In Italy, Mazzini saw special circumstances that made for a republic. Her great memories were republican, though even he must have recognised how little the republics of medieval Italy had in common with his ideal polity. At Venice and his own Genoa the republican tradition was still dear. Italian republicanism was free from any recent memory of outrage and proscription, such as tarnished the name in France. And above all, he urged, there was no possible king for a united Italy. Each prince was pledged to Austria, each had proved his sympathy with reaction. Monarchy in Italy had "no splendid annals, no venerable traditions," no powerful nobility to buttress it. Two princes only had an army, which could help in the war of liberation; and neither the King of Piedmont nor the King of Naples would submit to the other without a bitter civil struggle. And the antipathies of North and South, though they might bow to the principle of a common republic, would never allow the Neapolitan to take a king from Piedmont. History has proved how wrong was his diagnosis, and temporarily and reluctantly he had glimpses of his error. More than once in after life, as we shall see, he alternated his republicanism with fits of half-belief in the Piedmontese monarchy.

His advocacy of Italian Unity rests on a surer bottom. That the country was fated to stagnate till the foreigner had gone, was common ground with every school of patriots. But when the Austrians had been driven out, was Italy to be a federation of states or one united country? Mazzini pleaded that the point at issue between him and the federalists was mainly one of practicability. This hardly took sufficient account of the school, which looked to Switzerland and America for its types, and preferred a federation on its own merits. But on the whole his contention was right. Every argument that told for federation, told yet more forcibly for unity. The strength of the federalist movement lay in the belief that unity was impossible. As yet, though Napoleon had foretold that unity must come, only a handful of Italians had dared to speak of it as a possible ideal. The great majority doubted whether Italy even wished to be united, whether, if she did, the facts of the European polity made it possible, whether unity could permanently stand the strain of the old provincial animosities. It was easy for them to adduce a host of facts,—the differences of race and temperament and tradition, the various habits formed by dissimilar systems of law and land tenure and education, the jealousies, still far from dead, that sundered province from province and city from city. Mazzini himself had felt the force of their arguments, and there was a moment, when even he had been shaken in his faith. He had little tangible reasoning to back his confidence. But he had the prophetic assurance of a great possibility, and his contagious faith made it a reality. He saw, when hardly another of his contemporaries saw it, that Italian Unity was a practicable ideal; his teaching informed the national resolve, that changed the seemingly impossible into a fact. To few men has it been given to create a great political idea; to fewer still to be not only the creator, but the chief instrument in realising it. Mazzini was both, and it gives him title to rank among the makers of modern Europe.

But there could be no unity, no republic, no political advance of any kind, till the inevitable war with Austria had been fought and won. She would not surrender her Italian provinces, unless by force of arms. She could not tolerate free institutions side by side with her own despotic rule. She had crushed the Neapolitan and Piedmontese risings ten years before; she had done the same in Modena and Romagna yesterday. "She robs us," said Mazzini, "of life and country, name, glory, culture, material well-being." As Giusti said more pointedly a few years later, the Italians "ate Austria in their bread." Mazzini and many another patriot knew that any peaceful solution was utopian. "The destinies of Italy," he preached, "have to be decided on the plains of Lombardy, and peace must be signed beyond the Alps." Mazzini rather welcomed war in a just cause. It would redeem the torpid, disillusioned Italian, who was brave enough, as Napoleon's campaigns had proved, but required much to nerve him to effort. It would give Italy again her national self-respect, her claim to the esteem of other peoples. "War," he said, "is the eternal law, that stands between the master and the slave who breaks his chains." But Mazzini in his saner moods saw the futility of any local or ill-prepared rising. In words, that condemn only too eloquently much of his after action, he declared that only victory could justify a rising against Austria. It was only when the great mass of the people had been won to the nationalist cause, that the patriots "might stretch their hand to Lombardy and say, 'There are the men who perpetuate your servitude,' towards the Alps and say, 'There stand your confines.'" Mazzini's plan of campaign was guerilla fighting. It was, as he said, the natural resource of an insurgent people, that had to win its freedom against disciplined armies,—the method chosen by the Dutch against Philip II., by the American colonists against England, by the Spaniards and Greeks in more recent times. Had he lived now, he might have added another illustrious example. Italy, with her long chain of mountains that no enemy could hold in force, had special fitness for the strategy. "Italians," he cried, "look to your mountains, there stand strength and infallible victory."

In the meantime the work of Young Italy was to organise and educate; and the only possible organisation was that of the secret society. Mazzini did not see its inherent weaknesses. Young Italy soon became as much the quarry of the spy and police agent as the Carbonari had been; and to the end of life Mazzini was the victim of informers, who won his easy confidence. The society developed an uncontrolled and irresponsible leadership, and its chief, eager as he was and sincerely eager to disclaim any desire to dictate, was too impatient, too self-confident to allow fair play to other men's convictions. As a means of preparing for war, it failed disastrously; and it proved an ill school for the parliamentary politics of later days. But in a country, where any open expression of liberal sentiment meant prison or exile, if not the scaffold, there was no alternative; and as an educating influence it came to be the greatest of the forces that made Italy. Its writings, smuggled into every corner of the land, moved many a young thinker to a passionate resolve, that bore its fruit in after times. At this stage, however, Mazzini was hardly looking to the slow results of political education. The hour of insurrection, he confidently believed, was near; the European revolution was threatening, and Italy must not be behind the sister nations. He was certain of success. Whatever difficulties might come to a nationalist movement without a backing from the native governments, however much Italians might distrust their own unaided strength, there was "no real obstacle for twenty-six millions of men, who wished to rise and fight for their country." Austria, he calculated, could at the best put two hundred thousand men into the field; he fondly counted on four million Italian volunteers. A people, that even under the leading of the Carbonari had made three revolutions in ten years, would rise again more readily and more victoriously at the inspiration of a nobler faith.
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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

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Chapter 3: Marseilles

1831-1834. AETAT 25-28

At Marseilles—Spread of Young Italy—Letter to Charles Albert—The Army Plot in Piedmont—At Geneva—The Savoy Raid.

When Mazzini arrived at Lyons, he found an unhopeful plan in preparation for raiding Savoy. Some 2000 Italian refugees, many of them Piedmontese who had fled through Genoa ten years before and stirred his boyish enthusiasm, were ready to march under the hardly concealed protection of the French government. It was still in the early days of the July monarchy, when it had yet not quite forgotten its revolutionary origin. But before the expedition could start, Louis Philippe's swift lapse into conservatism, which had already made him break his promises to the Romagnuols, abruptly ended the patronage of the authorities. The would-be raiders were scattered, and Mazzini joined a small party of republicans, who were starting for Corsica, on their way to join the insurgents in Romagna. The Corsicans were still Italian in sentiment as well as race, and the Carbonaro influence was strong in the island. Two thousand men offered themselves for service with the insurgents, but no funds were forthcoming to pay their passage, and before arrangements could be made the news arrived that the rising had collapsed.

Mazzini returned to Marseilles, and found himself among the refugees who had escaped from Central Italy. He recruited a few young patriots among them, and with their help he began to give body to his schemes. In a small room at Marseilles the young Titans started, with nothing but their own sincerity and daring, to revolutionise Italy. "We had no office, no helpers," he wrote of them in after years. "All day, and a great part of the night, we were buried in our work, writing articles and letters, getting information from travellers, enlisting seamen, folding papers, fastening envelopes, dividing our time between literary and manual work. La Cecilia was compositor; Lamberti corrected the proofs; another of us made himself literally porter, to save the expense of distributing the papers. We lived as equals and brothers; we had but one thought, one hope, one ideal to reverence. The foreign republicans loved and admired us for our tenacity and unflagging industry; we were often in real want, but we were light-hearted in a way, and smiling because we believed in the future."

In later life Mazzini looked back longingly to the freshness and enthusiasm of those days, before failure had disillusioned him or misunderstanding estranged him from his friends. When he was well and happy, all the charm of his nature—his radiant idealism, his warm-hearted friendship, his contagious unselfishness—made him the beloved inspirer of the little band that worked under his orders. "He was," said an Italian of him at this time, "about 5 feet 8 inches high and slightly made; he was dressed in black Genoa velvet, with a large "republican" hat; his long, curling black hair, which fell upon his shoulders, the extreme freshness of his clear olive complexion, the chiselled delicacy of his regular and beautiful features, aided by his very youthful look and sweetness and openness of expression, would have made his appearance almost too feminine, if it had not been for his noble forehead, the power of firmness and decision that was mingled with their gaiety and sweetness in the bright flashes of his dark eyes and in the varying expression of his mouth, together with his small and beautiful moustachios and beard. Altogether he was at that time the most beautiful being, male or female, that I had ever seen, and I have not since seen his equal." [4] But sometimes even now overwork and impatience told on him, and he felt ill and exhausted. In such moods he must have been a trying man to be much with—irritable, exacting, requiring absolute submission from his fellow-workers, angry if they thought well of men whom he disliked.

For two years the little band worked on, sowing the seeds of revolution. It was a heroic enterprise. A few young men, without birth or wealth to help them, and, except for their leader, of no great ability, were planning to change the future of their country and preparing for war with a great military empire. To an outsider it must have seemed a madman's dream. But their masterful chief had taught them his own faith; and they, and thousands of their countrymen after them, found in it the power, to which few things are impossible. They worked with remorseless energy, month after month, corresponding with sympathisers all over the peninsula, planting lodges of Young Italy wherever a chance opened, drawing together the threads of conspiracy. They found abundant backing in Italy. Mazzini appealed to his followers there to work among the people by every road that the despotism left open, to bring children to school and teach them, to hold classes for men in the country districts, to circulate pictures and pamphlets and almanacs, which would insinuate patriotic ideas without exciting the suspicions of the police, to carry the cross of fire from town to town and village to village. "Climb the hills," he asked of them, "sit at the farmer's table, visit the workshops and the artisans, whom you now neglect. Tell them of their rightful liberties, their ancient traditions and glories, the old commercial greatness which has gone; talk to them of the thousand forms of oppression, which they ignore, because no one points them out." His appeal found a ready response. Hundreds of young Italians, fired by his own passion, gave themselves to the dangers and toils and the thousand small annoyances of a conspirator's life. It was no light call. "I know of no existence," said one of them in later life, "which requires such continual self-abnegation and endurance. A conspirator has to listen to all sorts of gossip, to soothe every variety of vanity, discuss nonsense seriously, feel sick and stifling under the pressure of empty talk, idle boasting, and vulgarity, and yet maintain an unmoved and complacent countenance. A conspirator ceases to belong to himself, and becomes the toy of anyone he may meet; he must go out when he would rather stay at home, and stay at home when he would rather go out; he has to talk when he would be silent, and to hold vigils when he would rather be in bed." And behind these petty vexations, which meant more to the Italians of that day than to a generation trained in strenuousness, lay the knowledge that discovery meant prison or exile, perhaps death. But they faced it with the courage of men who believed that the "wear and tear was smoothing the way, inch by inch, towards a noble and holy end," who looked to the day when through their labours their country would be lifted from the slough of misgovernment and low ideals. Life and everything they were ready to give for that. "Here are we," said Jacopo Ruffini to his fellow-conspirators at Genoa, "five young, very young men, with but limited means, and we are called on to do nothing less than overthrow an established government. I have a presentiment that few of us will live to see the final results of our labours, but the seed we have sown will shoot forth after us, and the bread we have cast upon the waters will be found again."

Mazzini might well be sanguine, with men like these behind him. He looked to his literature to do the rest. The journal of Young Italy was, as he described it, "a collection of political pamphlets," each of the infrequent and irregular numbers consisting of a hundred to two hundred pages, badly printed on bad paper. Later on, it was set up by French compositors, who knew no Italian, and whose misprints gave him infinite concern. He himself did most of the writing. It was terribly diffusive often and wanting in precision, but his articles redeem their literary defects by the glow of noble purpose, that made them thrill their readers, and gave them a potency, that perhaps no other political writings of the century attained to. Most of the remaining articles came from his fellow-workers. Mazzini tried to persuade Sismondi to contribute, but the historian, though sympathetic, was too opposed to some of his teaching to respond. Louis Napoleon, drawn by a fellow-feeling for conspiracy and scenting a chance to preach Bonapartism, sent an essay on Military Honour, with the thesis that soldiers are not bound by their oath to act against a revolution. Mazzini consented to insert it with many emendations, which apparently left little of its Bonapartist intention; but for some reason that does not appear, it was not published. The journal had a small circulation, and only reached a limited number of young educated men; it was indeed too literary for popular consumption. There seems to have been a larger demand for rules and instructions and popular tracts written by Gustavo Modena, afterwards to become one of the most famous Italian tragedians of his day. At all events there was a considerable contraband of printed matter, smuggled to Genoa or Leghorn or across the passes into Piedmont, inside barrels of pitch and pumice stone or bales of drapery or packages of sausages. So great became the demand, that secret presses were set up in Italy and the Ticino to supplement the output from Marseilles.

The results surpassed even Mazzini's sanguine hopes. The first lodges of Young Italy were planted at Genoa and Leghorn, and they spread thence to a good many towns of North and Central Italy. The chief strength of the society lay at Genoa, where the nationalist and anti-Piedmontese parties made common cause, and men of every class came in—nobles and commoners, lawyers and civil servants and priests, seamen and artisans. Outside Genoa the working men seem to have kept aloof as a rule; years had yet to pass before Mazzini's social teaching reached them. The recruits came chiefly from the young men of the middle classes, sons of the men who had had their importance under the French rule and had been cribbed and kept under since the restoration. Here and there a young noble joined; in Piedmont and at Genoa at all events there was a sprinkling of older professional and business men; a few priests welcomed a movement, which bore so strong a religious imprint. Everywhere the scattered remnants of the Carbonari enrolled themselves. Buonarrotti, doyen of the conspirators, descendant of Michelangelo, friend of Robespierre and Babœuf and Napoleon, attached his society of the Veri Italiani. Early in 1833 Mazzini, it is impossible to say with what accuracy, put the number of affiliates at fifty or sixty thousand. Many a man, who came to the front in the later nationalist movement or in the first Italian parliaments, began his political life as a member of Young Italy. Garibaldi, a young sailor who wrote verses, just promoted to be captain in the Genoese mercantile marine, whose fearlessness and charm of manner made him the idol of the men under him, and who had already learnt from Foscolo a belief in the destinies of Italy as ardent as Mazzini's own, met the chief at Marseilles and joined the society. Gioberti, who was teaching a transcendental and literary patriotism to the novices in the Archbishop's seminary at Vercelli, sent warm words of encouragement to the cause of God and the People.

All Mazzini's preparations centred round Piedmont and Genoa. He realised, with the bulk of patriots of whatever school, that though the other provinces might play a secondary part, Piedmont must take the lead. It was the only state that possessed the military training and traditions, essential in a war; it was the natural base for an invasion of Lombardy; Alessandria and Genoa were two all-important strategic points, and if the Italians were defeated in the plains, they could fall back on the Alps and Apennines. There were few republicans among the Piedmontese, but they were nationalists with all their race's tenacity of purpose. The Genoese were zealots for the cause, all the more if it were under a republican flag; in Savoy there was a strong strain of liberalism, and its position made it a connecting link with sympathisers in France. Mazzini's first public act—some three or four months after he left Italy—was to write an open letter to the king. Charles Albert had just ascended the throne of Piedmont; and expectation ran high, as it had run ten years before, that he would lead the nationalists. This time there was small bottom for the hope. Charles Albert had had his phase of liberalism; in his youth he had relations with the Carbonari, and encouraged the Piedmontese conspirators of 1821 to look to him to lead the army to a war for Lombard independence. Had he had the courage, he would have stood by his word. But as he was then, so was he now, a moral coward, buffeted by irreconcilable ambitions. He was still a nationalist, but no liberal. Liberalism had come to loom before him as a spectre of Revolution, to be fought and crushed without pity. But priest-ridden absolutist as he was, he never quite forgot his patriotic faith, he always had some vision, faint though it often was, of an Italy untrodden by the foreign soldier. It is probable that even now, in his worst years, he was waiting dubiously for the distant day, when he would measure himself with the enemy. But he knew that as yet this was impossible. He had a saner view than Mazzini of the possibilities of the time, when France—on the high road to the juste-milieu—would give no help, and a single-handed fight with Austria was foredoomed to defeat. He would have scorned an offer of Mazzini's guerilla bands; but had he been as ready to welcome the volunteers, as his son was twenty-eight years later, they had little prospect of existence at this time outside Mazzini's visionary hopes.

Such was Charles Albert, when Mazzini appealed to him to lead the nationalist movement. What was the exact purpose of the letter, will probably never be known. In after life Mazzini denied that there was any serious intention in it; he pleaded that he expressed the hopes of others rather than his own, and wrote it in the certainty that its appeal would not be heard. At the time he disclaimed, though not so emphatically, any hope of a response, and suggested that its object was to disillusion the Piedmontese of any belief in their king. There is some reason for thinking that the disclaimers must not be taken quite literally. When he wrote twenty years and more afterwards, he was anxious to prove that he had never lapsed from his republican faith. His earlier commentary was in a letter to a man, whom he did not know, and to whom he was not likely to express himself unreservedly. There are indications that he had not quite escaped the glamour that Charles Albert threw over the liberals, had not entirely abandoned all hope of winning him. The secret instructions of Young Italy, written a few months later, accepted the possibility of a monarchy as a "system of transition"; and in the subsequent army plot Mazzini intended to offer the King the leadership of the revolution. One would fain believe that his own interpretations do him injustice, that he did not write his glowing prose in utter insincerity. Were it otherwise, we must bow the head and sadly own a stain upon that noble life.

The letter, it must be confessed, was hardly calculated to make a convert. Threats alternate with overdone praise; the assumption of political omniscience, the claim of the young exile to speak for Italy, the magniloquent parade of the obvious, must have, like much else of his earlier writings, offended Italian common-sense and been extremely irritating. Much of it reads like a declamatory school essay on the duties of a constitutional king. But the lesson was true enough on its negative side. Charles Albert could find no safe foothold outside popular government; coercion, administrative reform, the support of Austria or France—none would permanently content or overawe his people. And if Charles Albert had retorted that to grant a constitution meant war with Austria, Mazzini would have welcomed the corollary. The King was right and Mazzini was wrong as to the inopportuneness of a national rising at the moment. But for the policy of another day, the letter has passages that speak like a trumpet call. "Sire, there is another road, leading to true power and a glorious immortality; another ally, safer and more strong than Austria or France. There is a crown more brilliant and sublime than that of Piedmont, a crown that waits the man, who dares to think of it, who dedicates his life to winning it, and scorns to dull its splendour with thoughts of petty tyranny. Sire, have you never cast an eagle glance upon this Italy, so fair with nature's smile, crowned by twenty centuries of noble memory, the land of genius, strong in the infinite resources that only want a common purpose, girt round with barriers so impregnable, that it needs but a firm will and a few brave breasts to shelter it from foreign insult? Place yourself at the head of the nation, write on your flag, 'Union, Liberty, Independence.' Free Italy from the barbarian, build up the future, be the Napoleon of Italian freedom. Do this and we will gather round you, we will give our lives for you, we will bring the little states of Italy under your flag. Your safety lies on the sword's point; draw it and throw away the scabbard. But remember, if you do it not, others will do it without you and against you."

The letter was published in May or June 1831, and a few copies found their way into Italy. Mazzini thought he had evidence that the King read it. At all events his police did, and ordered the writer whose anonymity did not conceal him, to be seized, if he crossed the frontier. Whatever Mazzini's hopes may have been, this proved that the letter had failed in its ostensible object, and he threw himself feverishly into his preparations for a revolt in Piedmont. His detailed scheme shows that he had not yet planned or had abandoned for the time the strategy of guerilla fighting, and intended to rely on the Piedmontese army. Charles Albert was, if possible, to be persuaded to lead the revolution, and the army was to be mobilised for an immediate advance on Lombardy. Should the King decline the offer, a provisional directorate at Genoa would assume the government. Mazzini had better ground for his hopes than often afterwards. The army had not forgotten that it had led the constitutional and nationalist movement ten years before. Many a soldier, who had served in the Grande Armée, cherished the democratic sentiment that clung to it all through, and was eager to avenge himself on the enemy, whom he had routed in old days. These feelings were especially strong among the non-commissioned officers. Many of them were men of the middle classes of good standing and education, for in many, if not all, of the regiments commissions could be held only by those of noble birth, and no bourgeois, whatever his capacities, could rise above the ranks. A few officers joined the society, and a general or two promised to throw in his lot, if the movement proved successful. At Alessandria and Genoa, the two chief garrison towns, the society had a considerable strength. The government, though quietly tracking the civilian conspirators, seems to have had no suspicion of the army plot; and had the revolt broken out early in 1833, it would have had its chance of success at home, though the inevitable disaster must have come, when the little army faced the Austrians.

But the conspirators waited too long, and late in the spring an accident led to the discovery of the plot. The government cautiously followed up the clue, till it possessed itself of every detail of the conspiracy. Then it threw itself on its prey with a savage vengeance, that outside the Austrian provinces has had no parallel in Italy since the days of Fra Diavolo. Charles Albert, pitiless with fright, surrendered himself to the reactionary court party and fed their thirst for blood. Moral, sometimes physical, torture was inflicted on the victims to extort confession of their own or their confederates' guilt. Jacopo Ruffini, given the choice between execution and the betrayal of his friends, committed suicide in prison. Ten soldiers and two civilians were shot; fourteen more only escaped by flight; numbers were sent to longer or shorter imprisonment. Italy still execrates those courts-martial. Not all Charles Albert's later patriotism has purged his memory from their indelible shame; and while yet he reigned, the Genoese erased from their city every record of the brutal general who was his worst instrument. The humble lawyers and sergeants whom he shot, have a deathless homage from their country. "Ideas ripen quickly," said Mazzini, "when nourished by the blood of martyrs." It was the memory of these and other victims of tyranny, that helped to nerve Italian arms and send Italians to die in the battles that won their country's liberty.

Meanwhile, since the previous August, Mazzini had been driven into hiding at Marseilles. The French government decreed his banishment and broke up his press. Mazzini eluded both blows. He started a secret press and got French compositors to work it. He himself found refuge in the house of a French sympathiser, Démosthène Ollivier, father of Louis Napoleon's last premier, under whose roof he remained "a voluntary prisoner." Twice only in the year he passed its threshold, and then only at night, disguised as a woman or a garde national. It was at this time that the French government, whether maliciously or itself deceived, brought against him a false charge of encouraging assassination, for repeating which in after years Sir James Graham wore sackcloth. [5] Mazzini was still at Marseilles, when the news of the Genoese executions came; and so terrible was his anguish, for in Jacopo Ruffini he had lost his dearest friend, that his health and mind nearly broke down. The devotion of a noble woman, whom he loved, [6] saved him from insanity or death.

About the beginning of July 1833 he moved to Geneva. He came there to be on the spot for a new plan of insurrection. The failure of the army plot only impelled him more feverishly into his fixed idea of a rising in Piedmont. He wished no doubt to punish Charles Albert, and well may he have been maddened by the savagery, which had sickened Europe. He wanted to "moralise" his party by proving that the terrorism had no fears for him and striking back at the victorious and brutal enemy. He thought that, if he was to keep his following together, he must make his cast now or never. Once allow the fire to slack down, and it would be beyond his power to rekindle it. He believed that half Europe was on the brink of revolution, that a republican movement in Italy would be the signal for republican risings in France and Spain and Germany. It was probably a fantastic dream; but he had surer ground for thinking that a revolt would fire the tinder throughout Italy. Exaggerated as his hopes were even here, the revolutionary spirit, that Young Italy created, had sunk deep. In the Genovesate and Savoy, in the Papal States and parts of Naples there was a good deal of material ready for an insurrection; and Mazzini had assured himself that on the appointed day guerilla bands would take to the mountains in several districts. The chances of success, indeed, were not bright at the best; but the raid was not quite the unpardonable playing with brave lives, that it seems at first sight. Mazzini, taking up a plan of the Carbonari at Paris, chose Savoy for the starting-point of the insurrection. He expected that the troops there would join the insurgents, and the revolutionary army would cross the Alps into Piedmont, while another band would land in the Riviera and rouse the Genoese country. [7]

By the autumn of 1833 several hundred exiles had been enrolled in Switzerland. Many of them were Poles and Germans, a few were French; and Mazzini welcomed assistance, which he hoped might cement an international alliance of democrats, and develop into a "Young Europe," which would do elsewhere what Young Italy was doing for his own country. He had the help of several officers, Bianco di San Jorioz, author of a clever book on guerilla warfare, which had much influenced him, and Manfredo Fanti, the future organiser of the Italian army. They saw the importance of giving the command to an experienced officer, and the Savoyard conspirators insisted that the choice should fall on a certain General Ramorino, a cosmopolitan adventurer of Savoyard birth, who had fought under Napoleon, and had an undistinguished command in the Polish rising of 1831. Mazzini's slender preparations were completed by October, and about eight hundred men were armed and ready to march. There were plans of simultaneous risings at Genoa and Naples, in the Marches and the Abruzzi; and Garibaldi enlisted in the Piedmontese navy in the quixotic hope of bringing it over to the revolution. But what chance there was of success was spoilt by Ramorino. He had no real interest in the expedition; perhaps he was paid by the French government to wreck it. At all events he lingered at Paris, squandering much of the war-fund, that Mazzini had collected with infinite labour. Every week added to the difficulties. The foreign governments put pressure on the Swiss to break up the volunteers. Buonarrotti, suspicious of the whole design, did his best to discredit Mazzini among his own men. When Mazzini at last insisted that the volunteers must wait no longer, the conspirators in Savoy refused to cooperate unless Ramorino came. Mazzini worked desperately to undo the mischief, and at last, in January, Ramorino arrived. It was too late. The Swiss authorities harassed the volunteers, and on February 1 only a small body of the raiders could gather on the frontier near St Julien. Ramorino marched them aimlessly about. Probably he saw from the first how desperate were the chances, and wished to spare a useless loss of life. On the 4th, before hardly a shot had been exchanged, he disbanded his men, and the insurrection was still-born.
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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:21 am

Chapter 4: Switzerland

1834-1836. AETAT 28-31

Life in exile—Mental crisis—Principles of the revolution—Young Switzerland—Young Europe—Literary work—Women friends: Giuditta Sidoli—Madeleine de Mandrot.

During the raid Mazzini's health collapsed. The strain of work and anxiety might have broken down a stronger man; he had not touched his bed for a week, and fatigue and cold and the crushing responsibility brought on fever. There was a false alarm one night, and a patrol fired; and Mazzini, hurrying up excitedly with his musket, lost consciousness and did not regain it till the volunteers had recrossed the frontier. The collapse unstrung him for the time, and perhaps it was only the letters of the woman he loved, that kept him from a worse fate. "I have moral convulsions," he writes to her; "there are moments when I could roll on the ground and bite myself. I have fits of rage at every human face and voice." When he recovered, he found his residence in Switzerland threatened. The foreign governments rained threats on the Federal Diet to make it expel the refugees. The Diet was easily frightened, but even had it been braver, it could not tolerate acts contrary to international law, or allow Switzerland to be a recruiting ground for raids upon a neighbouring power. The Swiss could not be expected to risk foreign complications for the sake of men who, from any ordinary standpoint, had abused their hospitality. After what had happened, it was difficult for the raiders to plead at once even the traditional right of asylum for political refugees; and though after a lapse of time a stronger government would have reverted to the more generous policy, and though some of the cantons were restive at its continued deference to foreign pressure, it is not easy to blame the Diet, even at a later date, for its unwillingness to shelter the raiders.

Many of them were sent at once across the frontier; others succeeded in hiding themselves. Mazzini was determined not to leave Switzerland. It was essential to his plans that he should be near Italy, and he dreaded moving further from the beloved land. He grew fond of Switzerland, and came to "love the Alps almost as one loves a mother." England and America were the only other countries open to him, and he feared that if a Tory government came into power in England, he would find no shelter even there. "Besides," he said, in words to be recanted later, "there is no sympathy there, no help, no anything." For nearly three years he led a more or less hunted life—at Lausanne, at Berne, at Soleure and Bienne and Grenchen, in the house of a Protestant pastor at Langnau; sometimes hotly sought by the police, sometimes with the connivance of the government, but generally a virtual prisoner in the houses where he found a refuge. For seven months, at one time, he fled from place to place, living in apparently untenanted houses, with mats at the windows, never setting foot outside, except in his fugitive removes by night across the mountains. Exhausted in body and soul, he had to taste an exile's life in all its bitterness; "the existence mournful and dull as a stormy sky or the ashes of a dead fire; the suffering that has no name, that finds no vent in tears or words, that has no poetry save for the distant sentimentalist; the suffering that makes a man wan and hollow-cheeked but kills not, that bows but does not break; while the weary eyes follow the driven clouds, that the wind wafts away to the skies of fatherland, beyond the everlasting Alps, those icy cherubim that guard the gate of the heart's Eden."

There was little interruption to his desolate solitude. Save for occasional glimpses, he was parted from his old comrades, except the Ruffinis; and though he found a few sympathetic friends in Switzerland and caught greedily at their affections, it could not make up for the loss. He had few books; "I could well live all my life shut up in one room," he wrote wearily, "if I had all my books at hand, but without books, or guitar, or view, it is too much." The sedentary life told on his health, and he obstinately declined the medicines his mother sent him. Toothache wore him down, though sometimes he welcomed it as a diversion from his sickness of heart. Money difficulties came, with their sordid complications. His mother sent what she could spare; friends helped him with loans. But he could never refuse an exile in need, and they importuned him, till even he rebelled against their exigencies. The organisation of Young Italy—such of it as still was left—and expenses of publishing and postage absorbed most of the rest, for there were few subscribers to the party funds. He denied himself all but bare necessities and cigars, even the two small luxuries he valued—scent and good writing paper. He borrowed what few books he had. He went short of clothes, and sends his mother lean inventories of his wardrobe, which she and his old nurse did their best to replenish. Sometimes he found himself in absolute want, and writes "with a blush on his face" to the mother who never refused him. Aching fits of home-sickness came on him, "a physical craving for home, for Italian clouds and winds and sea." "The other day," he writes to a little girl friend, "I was looking at the Alps in the distance—beyond them is my country, my poor country that I love so much, where my father and mother are, and my two sisters, and another sister who has been dead many years, and the tomb of the best friend of my youth, who died for liberty, and meadows and hills and beautiful lakes like your own, and flowers and oranges and a beautiful sky—all that one needs to make one die happy, and I thought sadly on it all."

He had more pungent thoughts to trouble him. The disastrous raid demoralised his party. From Italy came news of discouragement and desertion. The exiles loaded him with the responsibility of the fiasco; he found himself the centre of a miserable cross-fire of recrimination, and he repaid the criticism with scorn and suspicion. The want of response in Italy made him at times very bitter against his countrymen. "Oh, how cold those Italians are, and how they hunt for excuses for their apathy. They will not see that they are slaves, without a name, accursed by God, and mocked among the nations." The human sweetness in him was half dried up, and a misanthropy, so new and alien to him, made him querulous and captious. Friends were cold, or at all events seemed so to his sick mind. He wrote peevishly to the best of them; probably he talked more peevishly still. The society, even of those who were dearest, worried and distressed him, and he preferred to be left alone with a favourite cat. "I am inclined to love men at a distance," he writes; "contact makes me hate them." The sorest pain, one that obsessed him and dragged him to the abyss, was the thought of his suffering friends, suffering because of him, though for a cause for which he too had given all. It was the Gethsemane of every true-hearted man, who calls his fellows forth to sacrifice and battle. The friends of his youth were in exile. Men who had loved him and whom he had loved, were laying their misery to his charge. The Ruffinis' home was desolate—one son the victim of his own hand, two more in exile, the mother, whom of all women he reverenced most, sitting in loneliness and mourning. Another woman, to whom he had given his love, but to whom a fugitive exile could not give a home, was hunted by the Italian police, worn and desperate. "What gives me pain and very sad moments," he writes to his mother, "is the past and present and future of the few beings who love me and whom I really love, you, and the Ruffinis, their mother, my sisters, and Her. If I could see you all and my few other friends, I will not say happy, for that we can never be again, but tranquil, quiet, smiling, and united, I would die that day with rapture." "I wanted to do good," he writes to a friend, "but I have always done harm to everybody, and the thought grows and grows till I think I shall go mad. Sometimes I fancy I am hated by those I love most." Once, at all events, it made him doubt of all that he had done. "I think over it from morning to night, and ask pardon of my God for having been a conspirator; not that I in the least repent the reasons for it, or recant a single one of my beliefs, which were, and are, and will be a religion to me, but because I ought to have seen that there are times, when a believer should only sacrifice himself to his belief. I have sacrificed everybody."

The black misery settled on him. "I felt alone in the world, except for my poor mother, and she too was away and unhappy for my sake, and I stopped in terror at the void. In that wilderness I met Doubt." The men whom he had sent to a patriot's death, had they died in vain? Was it all a frightful error, an empty dream born of ambition and pride of intellect? Was it for some grandiose, impossible chimera, that he had taken men from quiet useful lives and the simple round of kindliness? What authority had he still to preach a creed, which meant the sacrifice of thousands more, the unhappiness of many another mother? In his nightly terrors, in his little lonely room, while the wind howled round, he heard Jacopo Ruffini's voice calling to him. He was of course verging on insanity, and thoughts of suicide passed through his mind. His strong moral nature and the influence of two women—Madame Ruffini and one unknown—saved him. Characteristically, mental health returned in the shape of a philosophy of life. It was his theory of Duty, expanded till it penetrated every cranny of the individual soul. His old enemy, the utilitarian theory, had taken subtle root in his affections. "I should have thought of them, as of a blessing from God, to be accepted with thankfulness, not as of something to be expected and exacted as a right and a reward. Instead of this, I had made them a condition of fulfilling my duties. I had not reached the ideal of love, love that has no hope in this life. I had worshipped not love but the joys of love." And so he put away that last infirmity of the true man, took to himself not only toil and danger and opprobrium, but unloved solitude of soul, the desert life of him who has no friend but God. He, who ached for sympathy and love, took duty for his hard task-master—duty, "an arid, bare religion, which does not save my heart a single atom of unhappiness, but still the only one that can save me from suicide." "There are four lines of Juvenal," he said, "that sum up all we ought to ask of God, all that made Rome the mistress and the benefactress of the world:—

'Pray for the soul, that has no fear of death,
That holds life's end among kind nature's gifts,
Brave to endure each pain and labour; nought
Vexes it, nought it covets.'"

"When a man," he writes to a friend, "has once said to himself in all seriousness of thought and feeling, I believe in liberty and country and humanity, he is bound to fight for liberty and country and humanity, fight long as life lasts, fight always, fight with every weapon, face all from death to ridicule, face hatred and contempt, work on because it is his duty and for no other reason."

Long indeed before his mental crisis, the light and joy had gone out of his work. There were times when he felt he had neither strength nor time nor capacity for it, when his theories became cold, emotionless abstractions, far other than the passionate beliefs of other days. God was "a geometrical solution," his own task "a fated mission." All life seemed drab and purposeless. "There is so much agony in life," he writes, "that when I see a baby quiet, smiling, at peace, I can only wish for death for it." Perhaps though such moods were the exception. "He is almost always good-tempered and sometimes gay," wrote Giovanni Ruffini. Certainly during these three years he wrote some of his warmest and humanest pages. At times he was even hopeful of his immediate political schemes. He was strong in the sense of his mission. "I know," he said, "there is the future in this life of mine, little matter if I see it." "We have made," he writes, "the cause of the people our own, we have voluntarily taken on ourselves the sorrows of all a generation. We have snatched a spark from the Eternal God, and placed ourselves between Him and the people; we have taken on ourselves the part of the emancipator, and God has accepted us."

Alike in hours of insight and of gloom he remained ever constant to his work. His friends advised him to retire. His father threatened, his mother entreated. To the latter he "would have yielded, if he could." He would gladly have withdrawn, at least he thought so, if anyone else had come forward to take up the work; but this of course was impossible. He would have liked to fall back on the Manzonian policy, and devote himself to quiet moral and literary education. But this seemed an impossible solution in a country, where there was no freedom of speech or writing. The only way, he thought, to rouse his countrymen was to give them the example of a life, that no adversity could turn back, no want of response dishearten, ever labouring and suffering for their sake and the ideal's. There must be no folding of the hands, because others were slow to follow.

He set himself to think why the revolutions of the last five years had failed, why the people, whether in Italy or France or elsewhere, had been so deaf to the call to liberty. He was always asking himself why it was that Christianity had succeeded, and why a movement, that had so much in common with it, the movement for the social and political redemption of the people, had failed. He found his answer in the fact that the Revolution had missed the spiritual power, that made Christianity triumphant. It was the substance of his Marseilles teaching, but informed with a more mystical, transcendental spirit, due no doubt to the apocalyptic results of his depression, and partly too to the influence that Lamennais had over him at this time. The French Revolution had appealed to men's selfish and personal interests, their rights, their desire for happiness. It had been a rebellion against evil, not a mission in search of good. It had had its use, but now it had done its work. The principle of liberty and human dignity was accepted everywhere in theory, however much realisation lagged. The nineteenth century was plagiarising the eighteenth, and following precedents whose day was past. A new principle was needed to carry progress one step further, and that principle must be a spiritual one. "We fell as a political party, we must rise again as a religious party." The new revolution must find its strength in "the enthusiasm, which alone begets great things"; it must appeal to men's sense of duty, it must bid them work not for themselves but for humanity. Then and not till then, the pettiness and party feeling and want of earnestness, which had wrecked the movements of 1831 and his own Italian schemes, would vanish in the light of a great faith, and that same light would be a beacon, which would draw the masses after.

He was still, in spite of disappointment and the scepticism of his friends, convinced that Europe was ripe for revolution, if only one country showed the way. He was equally convinced that Italy would be that country. France, he thought, had disqualified herself by her adherence to the traditions of her Revolution. The strong dislike of France, which marked him all through life, was now especially prominent, and he declared that popular progress throughout Europe depended on emancipation from her political and literary influence. Why he appropriated for Italy the revolutionary hegemony, he would have found it difficult to give a convincing reason. At bottom, probably, with the sublime prophetic confidence that went hand in hand with all his searchings of heart and absence of personal ambition, he claimed the primacy for his country, because he hoped to inform her with his own principles.

His Italian programme remained almost unaltered. He was indeed prepared, though regretfully, to support a royalist movement, if it declared for Italian Unity. But he would not countenance a royalist programme with any lesser goal. He still believed in the Republic, both for Italy's own sake and for the example it would give to other democracies. And he still believed in insurrection as the only possible road to reformation in a country, where there were no constitutional liberties to make constitutional progress possible. Gioberti urged to him in vain that unsuccessful insurrections only discouraged the patriots and intensified the oppression. Mazzini, though he promised that he would not again encourage an insurrectionary movement, unless it started inside the country and independently of the exiles, argued that insurrection was the only means to rouse the masses. It mattered little if the first risings failed; they would keep alive the spirit, that one day would lead to victory. His hopes of the early triumph of the revolution grew slowly fainter; he began to see that time, perhaps a generation, was needed to quicken the inertia, that ages of despotism had instilled. But every effort brought them nearer to the goal; every slackening made it more remote. He would not believe that sacrifice and struggle could go unrewarded, or quiet waiting spring from ought but cowardice. He still, though fitfully—for want of money and the need of secrecy and his own deepening gloom hampered him at every turn—went on with his preparations. The sixth number of Young Italy appeared in July 1834; this was its last issue, but he persevered in the thankless work of organisation, carrying on a voluminous correspondence, raking in sympathisers from every quarter, sending agents to Italy, who brought back the same monotonous tale of discouragement and unreadiness.

He found time meanwhile to interest himself in Swiss politics, and tried to organise a party to do for Switzerland, what Young Italy had been doing for his own country. Many of the Swiss naturally resented the intrusion of a stranger. Mazzini brushed away the objection, though he would perhaps have been the first to criticise a foreigner, who had preached to the Italians, as he preached to the Swiss. Switzerland, he urged, played so important a part in the European polity, that no one could be indifferent to its destiny. At this time, certainly, Swiss politics offered abundant scope for a reformer. The Federal Pact of 1815 had undone Napoleon's comparatively liberal constitution. The cantons were connected by the loosest of ties; many of them were governed by small oligarchies; class privileges depressed the artisans and peasants. The return of the Jesuits stirred a bitter religious struggle, which from time to time threatened to blaze into civil war. A vigorous reform movement had indeed recently swept away the worst abuses inside some of the cantons; but, nothing had been done to strengthen the bonds between them, and the narrow cantonal life threatened to smother the country in a "mud-death." It was impossible for Switzerland to assert her independence or maintain her traditions, when she had no central authority worthy of the name. To Mazzini it meant too the absence of any real national life, the adhesion to a policy of neutrality, which prevented the one republican state of Europe from throwing its weight into the European balance. Mazzini's ideal for Switzerland was to include it with the Tyrol and Savoy in a federation of republics, and substitute for the settlement of 1815 a true federal authority, representing and responsible to the whole people and not to the separate cantons. He founded a "Young Switzerland" society, and published a paper, La Jeune Suisse, which appeared twice a week in French and German, till after a year's existence (the usual life of Mazzini's journalistic ventures) the Diet suppressed it and decreed Mazzini's perpetual banishment. In some of its articles Mazzini appears at his best,—more tolerant, less dogmatic and theoretical. The movement does not seem to have found any great measure of success, though it attracted a certain number of the finer spirits among the younger men and Protestant clergy. But, whatever may have been the immediate fruits of Mazzini's work, at all events his ideas triumphed. The Swiss constitution of 1848 embodied their essentials, and it is worth noting that Druey, one of its two draughtsmen, was his personal friend.

Italy and Switzerland together were not enough to occupy his energies. Two months after the collapse of the Savoy raid, seventeen of the exiles, Italians, Germans, Poles, signed a "pact of Young Europe," which was intended to be an alliance on Mazzinian principles of the republicans of the three countries. When one remembers that its vast scheme of transformation was the work of a few young exiles, it reads like pure rhodomontade. Mazzini himself recognised afterwards that the plan was too embracing to lead to practical results. But at the time he seems to have expected a good deal from it. It was to be a kind of "college of intellects," which would watch and give information on the popular and nationalist movements of the Continent, and at the same time be an organised propagandism with its machinery of agents "and countless other means." One thing in particular he hoped from it, that it would assist towards "the emancipation from France," and encourage another country, Italy of course by preference, to initiate the new age of religion and the republic. As a matter of fact, nothing seems to have been done beyond the despatch of a few agents to France and Spain, and an attempt to organise meetings in England. But it loomed large in the public eye, and did something to teach democracy that its interests are international.

Meanwhile, in addition to his political correspondence and journalism, he found time for literary writing. It was partly in the vain hope of earning a little money for himself and his political work. "I think over schemes day and night, as every man in want does." It was partly too to encourage "a religious and poetic sentiment" in Italy, and combat the dominant scepticism and materialism. For literary fame he cared nothing. Friends, who wished him to retire from political work, advised him to "honour Italy with his pen." "Excuse me," he answered, "but this has no meaning for me. I don't know what or where Italy is. We must try to regenerate and create her, and honour her afterwards." His articles on Byron and Goethe and The Philosophy of Music date from this period. He collected materials for the edition of Foscolo's works, which was so near his heart now as at a later time. He wished to edit a collection of translated dramas, and wrote introductions to Werner's Der vierundzwanzigste Februar and De Vigny's Chatterton. "No other critic," says a recent Italian writer, "has written at such length or so profoundly on Werner as did Mazzini." The essay was published later at Brussels with Agostino Ruffini's translation,—the only instalment of the projected series. He planned a Foreign Review, to be published at Genoa, but an indiscreet friend betrayed his editorship, and the censorship promptly withdrew its sanction. Another scheme for a Review of European Literature, to be issued in the freer air of Lugano, broke down, apparently for want of funds. Another venture, which had a brief life, was the Italiano, a literary and scientific magazine, which appeared at Paris for a few months in 1836, to which he and Tommaseo and some of the best Italian writers of the day contributed, and where Guerrazzi published the first chapters of his Siege of Florence. Mazzini, who drafted the prospectus, seems to have been especially anxious to include novels and poetry. "It must be remembered," he writes, "that fancy and the affections make up at least four-fifths of man. Poetry is not the gift and privilege of a few, the masses are full of a living and speaking poetry." He urged too that women's questions should have adequate attention.

It is to this period chiefly that belong the only love-episodes of Mazzini's life. He had a lofty conception of womanhood. "Love and respect woman," he once wrote. "Look to her not only for comfort, but for strength and inspiration and the doubling of your intellectual and moral powers. Blot out from your mind any idea of superiority; you have none. There is no inequality between man and woman; but as often is the case between two men, only different tendencies and special vocations. Woman and man are the two notes, without which the human chord cannot be struck." "Marriage," he wrote to a young wife many years afterwards, "is sacred, because it is one of the most potent means of accomplishing life's mission. It gives the almost superhuman strength that comes of love, the supreme comfort that makes sacrifice a joy, the dew that tempers the scorching heat upon the flower." But "now, as a rule," he says, "we do not love. Love, the most holy thing that God has given to man, has become a febrile need, a brutish instinct; the family is perverted into a denial of all vocation and social duty; male and female have cancelled man and woman." He himself was a man, not likely to be easily in love. His work absorbed his vital force, and he had no pity for men who forgot public work in domestic happiness. And though his unsoiled purity and gentleness, together with the sympathy that allowed him to understand women as few men can do, won him the devotion and affection of many women, especially Englishwomen, the sentiment, on his side at least, was, save in two cases, one of "intense friendship" only.

He had two or three boyish passions, one for an English girl who lived near his home at Genoa, another for a Genoese, Adele Zoagli, who afterwards became the mother of the patriot-poet Mameli. When he went into exile, the only women who had a place in his heart were his own mother and Madame Ruffini. His affection for his mother was very serious and deep, more masculine and less sentimental than in the common course of Italian filial love. Perhaps after his boyhood she did not influence him in details, and intellectually there was some lack of sympathy between them. But her strong pride in him, that made her "thank God day and night for having given her that son," her faith in his political, though not in his religious beliefs, the love that watched year after year over the son she saw not, the courage that made her bear long years of parting rather than ask him to deny his call, made the most lasting human inspiration of his life. In time of deep trouble a man will turn to his mother and his God, and he looked to her, as to one whose love would never change, to whom he could pour out, not indeed his spiritual misery, but all the little material worries which a man tells only to his mother and his wife, certain that her sympathy would never fail. His love for Madame Ruffini was of another kind. She was a very noble woman, with intense and unconcealed sympathies, wise with the experience of age and motherhood and sorrow; and Mazzini was not the only one in the circle of friends at Genoa, who loved her with the reverential affection, that an elderly woman of saintly life and understanding will call forth from young men. It was she, whose own deep religious faith had saved him in youth from his short episode of scepticism. Another woman would have reproached him with Jacopo's death; to her the common memory of one so dear only fed the affection, that many memories and the same intense religious, almost mystical, beliefs had already made so strong. He calls her "mother, friend, and all that is more sacred," "the purest, whitest, holiest soul he had ever met on earth." As far as we can tell, it was from no fault of his that their friendship closed afterwards in misunderstanding and silence.

His devotion to these two women had a deeper and more lasting influence on him than any lover's passion. There was, however, at least one other, whom he loved in another way, one to whom he gave his troth and whom he would have married, had an exile's life allowed it. Giuditta Sidoli was the daughter of a noble Lombard family, where she had been brought up in a school of patriotism. Her brother, Carlo Bellerio, was a follower of Young Italy, and was banished for his faith. She had been married, when a mere girl, to Giovanni Sidoli, a wealthy Reggian, a patriot and an exile too; and he swore her on his death-bed to be true to the cause to which he had given his life. She was one year older than Mazzini, a quiet-moving, gracious woman, almost beautiful, with a gentle, blonde Venetian face, warm, golden hair, and dark, thoughtful eyes; sober and unemotional in her manner, but with deep springs of enthusiasm and devotion. Mazzini first met her, a five years' widow, at Marseilles and afterwards in Switzerland; their liking and common interests soon deepened into love, and he was engaged to her before he left France. A few months before the Savoy Expedition, her yearning for her children, who were left at Reggio, drove her to Florence in the hope that with or without the Government's consent she might see them. Thanks to the Tuscan police, who opened and copied Mazzini's letters to her, we have some fragments of their correspondence. "There are words in your letter," he writes, "which make me still thrill with joy. In these last days I have learnt the strength of my love. I have covered your lock with kisses. Oh, that I could sleep for once with my head resting on your knees." To a common friend he writes, probably a little later, "I love her more than she thinks, much more than she loves me. I dream of her day and night, and it becomes more and more a fixed idea with me; and yet I know with absolute certainty I shall never live with her, not even if Italy were free."

Up to a point they doubtless loved; but, especially when one remembers Mazzini's emotional epistolary style of this time, one is tempted to question whether their love had very much passion in it. It was the tender, strong affection of two absolutely good and kindred souls, and with neighbourhood it might have ripened into more. But long separation cooled it, and neither was inconsolable. To Giuditta probably at bottom her children were dearer than her lover, and Mazzini felt this. She seems to have made no effort to join him afterwards in England; she went to Parma to be near her children and importune the ducal brute, who forbade her access to them, at last going to Reggio in his despite and apparently seeing them for a moment. Mazzini for his part was wrapped up in his work and the struggle with exacting poverty. In England he hardly corresponds with her, partly because his letters might have brought fresh persecution on her, but partly, one is forced to conclude, because there was no lover's ardour to find out a way. But he still considered himself as in honour bound to her, and in a sense no doubt he loved her still. He writes in the summer of 1838, "Giuditta loves me, I love her, and have promised to love her," but he speaks as if he feared a rupture rather for its effects on her than on himself. Two years later he writes as if his love were dead. But, if love was dead, friendship, and a very strong and true one, remained to the end. It is probable that they never ceased entirely to correspond. In the fifties, when she was living in the Valle dei Salici, near Turin, a grey-haired woman, with all the gracious gentleness and culture of her earlier days, Mazzini would come to see her in his secret visits to Piedmont, and she was still the tolerant but ardent believer in his policy. When she was on her death-bed, a year before he died himself, he wrote "as an old friend" to "one of the best spirits he had ever met."

In a sense Giuditta had a rival. During his Swiss wanderings, the daughter of de Mandrot, a friendly avocat at Lausanne, whom he had met casually,[8] became strongly attracted to him. And what was at first a woman's pity and a disciple's adoration, changed to passionate love. She was a girl of some sixteen years, of rich, emotional nature and spiritual yearnings, that echoed to his own. When he went to London, and she saw no more of him and heard of his uncared-for loneliness, her hopeless love and pity worked on her, till she pined into melancholy and illness, and her friends begged him to return and save her by his presence. What response he made to her love, it is not easy to say. If one may judge from the meagre references in his letters, he felt at first no more than affectionate gratitude for the rich gift he could not take. But later, as he learnt more of her constancy and unhappiness, and his love for Giuditta wore away, and he ached for a woman's loving hand, his affection ripened into something that was probably nearer passionate love than anything he felt before or after. Not that his permanent, reasoning self was disloyal to Giuditta. "Am I free?" he writes to a friend, who would gladly have seen him and the girl united; "before society and men, who recognise only actual bonds, I am; but before my own heart and God, who watches over promises, I am not." Sometimes indeed he balanced the results to the two women, and was tempted for the moment to think that "the imperious duty" of saving the one from death or life-long misery might justify the breaking of his promise to Giuditta. But he knew that it would be a cruel blow to the woman to whom he had pledged himself; he felt he would gladly escape from an attachment, which stained his loyalty to her; and his common sense told him that his gloomy companionship and the privations of an exile's life would never make a young girl permanently happy. And so he never seriously faltered in crushing down the rising love within him or trying to crush it out in her. He steadily declines to admit more than a brother-and-sisterly relationship; he prays she may forget him and begs his friends to do their best to kill her love by painting him in his defects; he refuses to correspond with her, and though at last at the earnest prayer of her friends he promises to come, if he can find the money, it was only to save her from the pining that was bringing her to her grave. But though he put her aside as a beautiful and impossible dream, he could not stop the yearning. "Do you think," he writes, "that I easily give up having near me one like her, a creature of God, young, pure, religious, enthusiastic, into whose heart I could pour all the world of feelings and dreams and beliefs and love that is in me?" He finds his comfort in the thought that theirs is "a mystical, spiritual union," that she will meet and make him happy in another world. In this world he never saw her again, and it seems that her passion soon fretted her frail life away. Love of wife and love of family were not for him, and bitterly he felt it. "He, who through fatality of circumstances," he wrote long after, "cannot live the serene life of family, has a void in his heart, that nothing fills; and I who write these pages, well I know it."
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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:22 am

Chapter 5: London

1837-1843. AETAT 31-38.

Life in London—Spiritual condition—English friends—The Carlyles—Lamennais and George Sand—Literary work—Decay of Young Italy—The Italian School at Hatton Garden—Appeal to working men.

Early in 1837 Mazzini and the Ruffinis came to London. The determining cause was the inability of the latter to bear the privations of a life of hiding. They travelled by slow diligence stages through France, the French government, which was only glad to get them out of Switzerland, giving them every facility for the journey. In London at all events they were free men, able to live under their own names and move where they liked, untroubled by the police. But the change from the snows and sunsets and silences of Switzerland to the squalor and noise of a back street in London added to Mazzini's desolation. In this "sunless and musicless island," with the dreary stretches of houses and the wearing din, he pined for the peace of the Alps, where nature had brought him an occasional respite from his heart-ache. "We have lost," he writes, "even the sky, which the veriest wretch on the Continent can look at"; and in time the desolate walls across the street worried him, till he would not go to the window. The one thing in London that appealed to him was the fog. "When you look up, the eye loses itself in a reddish, bell-shaped vault, which always gives me, I don't know why, an idea of the phosphorescent light of the Inferno. [9]The whole city seems under a kind of spell, and reminds me of the Witches' Scene in Macbeth or the Brocksberg or the Witch of Endor. The passers-by look like ghosts,—one feels almost a ghost oneself." The half-glimpses of the buildings, harmonising with their sombre colouring, gave him a sense of mystery and indefiniteness, that redeemed London of "the positive and finite" of a Southern town, and responded to his growing faith in the poetic and unseen.

For a few weeks he lived at 24 Goodge Street, Tottenham Court Road, with the Ruffinis and two other exiles, who had helped him in the Marseilles days. In March the quintet moved to 9 George Street, near the Euston Road, where they suffered many things from the maid-of-all-work, who no doubt did much as she liked with the five inexperienced males, only two of whom could speak English at all well. Here they lived for three years, on the whole a very miserable household. Mazzini himself was "an angel of kindness and good-temper and enthusiasm," ever ready to sacrifice himself to others' whims and comforts. But the unhappy mystic was no cheerful companion, he was unpractical and dogmatic, probably sometimes peevish, half-lost in the empyrean of his ideals, beyond the ken or sympathy of the others. Agostino Ruffini's petty selfishness and ungovernable tongue were the source of frequent scenes, which one day brought Mazzini to tears, "tears which nothing else could have drawn from him," as he writes plaintively to Agostino's mother. At bottom young Ruffini recognized Mazzini's worth and devotedness, and swore himself on paper to keep his temper, with other salutary resolutions, to be read over three times a week; but he was quite incapable of reaching to Mazzini's mind, and he longed to enjoy himself in a freer life, where the gospel of duty was never heard. Giovanni was more equable, and knew Mazzini better, but he too had small belief in the gospel, and there was little except old associations and the common love of his mother to bind him to his transcendental friend. The general irresponsiveness at home bitterly hurt and saddened Mazzini. "I love no one and want to love no one," he writes of his English surroundings; and in his letters to his friends in Italy and Switzerland, he returns again and again to the lack of sympathy around him, as the heaviest trial of those unhappy days.

There was nothing to distract him from the sordidness of the bickering household in George Street. He seldom went out of doors, except to the British Museum. He had no money to buy books and complains that nobody would lend them. He saw few besides a few exiles, as poor and perhaps as unhappy as himself. He was "lost in a vast crowd of strangers, in a country where want, especially in a foreigner, is a reason for a distrust, which is often unjust and sometimes cruel." In common with his companions, he was miserably poor, often living on potatoes or rice. His father advanced him money to speculate in olive oil; naturally he lost it, and after an angry letter from the hard old man, refused for several years to accept help from home. He tried to find employment as a proof-reader, but in vain. He had an offer of work at Edinburgh, but the Ruffinis would not leave London, and he felt himself tied to them. Literary work came in very slowly, and for a year or two his articles in the English reviews brought in little profit, when the translator had been paid. The income of the rest of the household was not much larger, and the bad house-keepers found that in England "francs were little better than sous." Mazzini, as ever, could not shut his purse to the needy exiles, who importuned him and, as Agostino grumbled, "in the name of this chimera of human brotherhood thought they had a right to make themselves at home in his house." His few possessions soon found their way to the pawn-shop. He pledged his mother's ring, his watch and books and maps; his cloak went to buy cigars, "the one thing I don't think I can do without." On one black Saturday he pawned a pair of boots and an old waistcoat to find food for the Sunday. One winter he risked his health by giving away his only overcoat. His mother, finding that good clothes got sold at once to buy suits for his friends, thought it better to send several suits of cheaper garments, so that he could keep one at least for himself. Sometimes his wardrobe was so depleted, that he had to stay at home, and could not go to the British Museum to carry on his literary work. His generosity was well-known to his better-off friends, and it is not surprising that their patience in lending him money was exhausted. He tried a few years later to negotiate a loan on the security of yet unwritten manuscripts; but the ingenuous scheme met with no better success. Once some friends at Paris lent him £120; another by a ruse persuaded him to accept what was practically a gift; [10] but when towards the end of his first residence in England a proposal was made at Turin to raise a subscription for him, he obstinately declined it, partly because, if it reached his mother's ears, she "would have died of shame." There were thus only two roads open to him, suicide or the money-lenders. The thought of suicide came to him again and again, but he put it away as a coward's act and for his mother's sake. So more and more he fell into the money-lenders' hands, borrowing at thirty or forty or sometimes nearly one hundred per cent. from loan societies, that "rob the poor man of his last drop of blood and sometimes his last rags of self-respect." Year after year he plunged desperately in the morass, and though £320 seems to have been the limit of his indebtedness, it was a crushing sum for one so utterly destitute. It was the common lot of the exiles, and some of them fared worse. In the midst of wealthy London, with men of means all round them, who shared their political views and made speeches for their cause, Karl Stolzmann, the Polish leader, one of Mazzini's nearest friends, went sometimes literally without food, and Stanislaus Worcell, born a rich Polish noble, was saved from a pauper's burial by an English acquaintance.

Apart, however, from money troubles, Mazzini's external life gradually brightened. In 1840, after a short stay at 26 Clarendon Square, not far from their George Street house, where happily Agostino left them for work in Edinburgh, he and Giovanni moved to 4 York Buildings, which then stood in the angle between King's Road, Chelsea, and Riley Street. He came there to be near the Carlyles, and escape from London gloom and noise and importunate visitors. An Italian artisan, an exile from Perugia, kept house with his English wife, who proved an excellent housekeeper and saved them from servant-girl worries. In those days there was a hay-field on one side of the house and market-gardens on another, some trees in view "of a very sombre green, but still trees," and not far off the Thames, "equally sombre with its muddy dirty-yellow water, but beautiful at night, when its colour is lost in the dark, and the water shines silver in the moonlight, and the barges go down, black, silent, mysterious as ghosts." After a year Giovanni left him after a violent quarrel, and went to Paris. They were never really reconciled again, and Giovanni repaid his friend's devotion with a coldness and contempt almost as unworthy as his brother's, though he did something to atone for it by the sympathetic picture of his old comrade as the Fantasio of his Lorenzo Benoni.

Uncomfortable as his relations with them had been, Mazzini felt the loss of the Ruffinis. With them or without them, the early years of his English life were, if anything, more utterly forlorn and miserable than his worst days in Switzerland. His intellect, indeed, was safe now, though there are indications still of a mental weariness and strain, that bordered on hallucination. There was no longer any fear of a spiritual collapse, like that which had threatened a year or two ago to wreck his moral faith. But he was more wedded to his misery, more desolate, alone in "the solitude of a damned soul." "A man cannot live alone," he writes, "and I have nobody who cares to know what I am thinking of and what I want." His heart sank, when he came home from the British Museum to his bare, dark room, where there was no friend or woman to welcome him, and Agostino's querulous temper to add to the loneliness of it all. More and more the want of response around him made him seal up his thoughts and aspirations. His friends' ingratitude, the desertion of his followers added to the "terrors" of his spiritual solitude. It seemed to him "an age of moral dissolution and unbelief, an age like that in which Christ died." The sense of failure still lay heavy on him, a brooding, unhealthy feeling that his work had been in vain, that it was his doom to bring ill-fortune to his friends, that he had sacrificed himself and made no one happier by it. He felt like "one irrevocably condemned, though without fault." "Pray for me," he writes to one of his best friends, "that, before I die, I may be good for something."

Two things saved him from despair, perhaps from suicide. In the crisis in Switzerland he had put away, once for all, any thought of personal happiness. Sometimes still the natural man rebelled. "Do you think," he writes of Madeleine, "that in my hours of desolation I would not, if I could, seek a breast on which to lay my brow, a loving hand to place upon my head." But he knew that to look for happiness led imperceptibly but certainly to selfishness, that "sacrifice was the one real virtue," that duty "to God, and humanity, and country, and all men" was the only law of life for the true man. And what he had worked out once in cold philosophy, now mellowed into religion, mystical sometimes, but beautiful and saving. Jacopo Ruffini and his own dead sister were praying for him, watching over him, inspiring him with strength and love. Life was an expiation, to purify the soul for another stage, where friends would meet again, and misunderstandings pass, and love reign over all. And even in this world, though sorrow might be the portion of the individual man, Humanity, the great collective being, would go ever forward to new knowledge, and new hopes, and nobler rules of life.

Perhaps, even more than by his faith, he was saved by his intense affections. True that they centred on ever fewer persons. He had hardly a real friend left among his old political associates. For the men and women, whom he was coming to know in England, he felt as yet gratitude but little more. His love for Giuditta Sidoli was fading into a sincere but unpassionate esteem. Madeleine was an impossible dream, that he resolutely shook away. But the dear ones of his boyhood,—Madame Ruffini, his mother, his unmarried sister, even his dour father,—were loved with an affection that was pitifully, almost morbidly sad, but ever more intense. It was the only sunshine in his clouded life. "I feel God's power and law more every day," he wrote to Madame Ruffini, "but He cannot weep with me or fill my soul's void for I am a man still and tied to earth. I worship Him more than I love Him, but you I love." And he pours out, in words that read extravagant but came in truth from his inmost being, all that reverential love, which he felt for her, who had been more than mother, but whose affection for her devotee was cooling all too quickly. Agostino did his best to damage his friend in her eyes; there seems to have been friction between her and Madame Mazzini; and no doubt she sided with her own sons, when the estrangement with them came. At the beginning of 1841 Mazzini's correspondence with her appears to have abruptly ceased.

To his parents he turned yearningly in a new sorrow, that was bowing them down. His one surviving unmarried sister died. She had been his favourite, the one of the family who had sympathized most with his political schemes, and encouraged him in his work, and pleaded for him with his father. Her death obsessed him with an unhealthy depression; but he felt most for his parents, left in the solitude of old age, bereft of the one who had been a needed link between them, for the father had grown morose, and there was evidently some want of harmony between the old people. Then the father himself fell very ill and recovered with difficulty. His son brooded over the thought that he had not been enough to his parents while he was with them, that the life he had chosen for himself had been the cause of all their trouble. Plans for their comfort worked in his mind "like a never-resting wheel." He would have risked the death-sentence that still hung over him, and gone to live with them in hiding, but he knew that the dread of discovery would only have added to their cares. It seems indeed that in 1844 he paid a visit to them in disguise. [11]

The gloom lifted somewhat, as he began to make friends in England. He was not yet, it is true, in sympathy with English life. He found little liking here for his transcendentalisms, his big indeterminate generalizations; and English love of facts and suspicion of theories seemed to him "materialism incarnate, pure critical analysis," fatal to spiritual or philosophic thought. "Here," he writes, "everybody is a sectarian or a materialist"; and now, as always, he never understood or valued Protestantism. He had a poor opinion of English statesmen, especially of the Whigs, who irritated him by the folly of their attempts to put down Chartism. Nor did he think much better of the Chartist leaders, who were "Englishmen, which means materialists, utilitarians, Benthamists par excellence, with no principle except that of the greatest possible happiness." The severance between the middle and working classes portended, he thought, an imminent and terrible revolution. But he came by degrees to recognize the better side of English life. He admired its tolerance, its insistency and tenacity, the "unity of thought and action, which never rests till it has carried each new social idea into practice, and when it has taken a step, never retraces it." He watched the Chartist movement sympathetically, and contrasted its great following with the scanty disciples of the French socialists. Though he cared little for its doctrines, he saw in it something that rose above "the narrow egotism, which characterizes English politics," and he especially approved, when the Chartists put aside national prejudices and sent their good wishes to the Canadian rebels.

Gradually he came to feel more at home in England. "There," he says, "friendships develop slowly and with difficulty, but nowhere are they so sincere and lasting." "Never," he wrote in after days, "shall I forget, never without a throb of gratitude shall I mention the land, which became a kind of second country to me, where I found friendships that brought an enduring balm to my weary and unhappy life." After a year or two his circle widened almost too rapidly, for clothes and bus fares and the drain upon his time made society an expensive matter to him. One of the first English persons who took an interest in him, was Mrs Archibald Fletcher of Edinburgh. A few months after he came to England, she met him, "a young, slim, dark man of very prepossessing appearance," who could not speak English and wanted admission to a public library. So profoundly unhappy he seemed, that the kind old lady feared suicide and wrote to gently warn him. Mazzini replied that no one but "a man, who wished only to enjoy and has made that his chief thought, will destroy his life as a child does its play-thing."

His first close English friendship was with the Carlyles. "They love me as a brother," he wrote in 1840, "and would like to do me more good than it is in their power to do." For Carlyle he had for several years a very sincere liking. "He is good, good, good; and still, I think, in spite of his great reputation, unhappy." He respected Carlyle's sincerity, his freedom from insular narrowness, his outspokenness. "He may preach the merit of 'holding one's tongue';—to those, in truth, who do not agree with him, are such words addressed,—but 'the talent of silence' is not his." He welcomed him as one "who served the same God" as himself, "though with a different worship"; his ally in the attack on utilitarianism, in the exaltation of the spiritual. "His motive is the love of his fellow-men, a deep and active feeling of duty, for he believes this to be the mission of man on earth." Their common love of Dante, no doubt, too, helped to draw them together. But in his criticisms of his books he condemned, however gently and respectfully, his individualism, his hero-worship, his depreciation of the great common march of the race, his ineffectiveness and timidity, when he came to practical political applications. And the antagonism grew on him, till in time they seemed to be "diametrically opposed." "Why," he said long afterwards to a girl, who had been reading and admiring Carlyle, "you are fast drifting down the road to materialism. You are lost. Carlyle worships force, I combat it with all my might. Carlyle is the sceptic of sceptics. He is grand, when he pulls down, but incapable of reconstructing something [anything] fresh. If instead of loving and admiring nations and humanity, you only love, admire, and reverence individuals, you must end by being an advocate of despots." Carlyle on his side had little sympathy with Mazzini's opinions, which to him were "incredible and (at once tragically and comically) impossible in this world." He was impatient with his "Republicanisms, his 'Progress' and other Rousseau fanaticisms." [12] He valued him none the less for "a most valiant, faithful, considerably gifted and noble soul." Once the Piedmontese minister spoke lightly of Mazzini in his presence. "Sir, you do not know Mazzini at all, not at all, not at all," Carlyle angrily replied and left the house. At the time of the Bandiera episode, though they had recently been quarrelling, he wrote to the Times, "Whatever I may think of his practical insight and skill in worldly affairs, I can with great freedom testify to all men, that he, if I have ever seen such, is a man of genius and virtue, a man of sterling veracity, humanity, and nobleness of mind, one of those rare men, numerable unfortunately but as units in this world, who are worthy to be called martyr souls; who in silence, piously in their daily life, understand and practise what is meant by that." Mazzini, mindful of their late coolness, was much touched by the defence. "That I call noble," he said of it to a friend.

For Mrs Carlyle Mazzini had a warmer feeling; and she reciprocated it not only with an intense personal confidence, but for a time at all events by sharing his political beliefs. Gradually she came more to her husband's view of these; and Mazzini and she had "warm dialogues," when he unfolded some wild design of throwing away his life in Italy. "Are there not things more important than my head?" he asked her. "Certainly," she replied, "but the man, who has not sense enough to keep his head on his shoulders till something is to be gained by parting from it, has not sense enough to manage any important matter." But "to the last," says Carlyle, "she had always an affection for him"; in 1846 she came to him for advice on her troubled married life, and he appeals to her to "send her ghosts and phantoms back to nothingness" and make it bearable by communion with her dead parents and work and love. "Get up and work. When the Evil One wanted to tempt Jesus, he led Him into a solitude."

Mazzini was a frequent caller at their house; coming in all weathers, "his doe-skin boots oozing out water in a manner frightful to behold" upon her carpets. Sometimes he would come with any story that he could think of to amuse her; sometimes he would discuss Dante with John Carlyle, who was then writing his translation of the Divina Commedia, till Carlyle grew weary of the talk and reminded both that the last bus was starting. Margaret Fuller has left a description of an evening spent with the trio; how Mazzini turned the conversation "to progress and ideal subjects, and Carlyle was fluent in invectives on all our 'rose-water imbecilities,'" how his flippancy saddened Mazzini, and Mrs Carlyle said to Margaret, "these are but opinions to Carlyle, but to Mazzini, who has given his all and helped bring his friends to the scaffold in pursuit of such subjects, it is a matter of life and death." On another occasion Carlyle, after monopolizing the talk while he passed in long review the silent great ones of earth, turned to Mazzini, saying, "You have not succeeded yet, because you have talked too much." The contests between them became more frequent and painful. They would argue, so the tradition has been handed down, the one courteous, deeply moved, pleading with his whole heart, eloquent in his rather broken English; the other exaggerative, splenetic, scornful in the wild flow of his language. All the time Mazzini would sit pale and quiet in his chair, sometimes excited almost to tears, nervously smoking his small cigar; while Carlyle with his long clay pipe shifted restlessly, as he stormed out his sentences. [13] None the less Mazzini's intimacy with them went on unbroken, at all events as far as Mrs Carlyle was concerned, through all his first stay in England. When he left for Milan in 1848, he told her with a kiss to be "strong and good until he returned"; and when he came back aged and worn, she sadly stroked his grey beard. She found lodgings for him; she went to comfort him, when prostrated by his mother's death. But the severance between him and her husband gradually widened, till two or three years later they completely parted, to respect each other's character and detest each other's opinions to the end. Once more they met, years afterwards, and "talked in a cordial and sincere way with real emotion on both sides." "Mazzini," Carlyle noted at the time, "is the most pious living man I now know." Even for his politics he had at last some tolerance. "The idealist has conquered," he confessed, "and transformed his utopia into a patent and potent reality."

With the Carlyles, however, even in the days of his closest acquaintanceship, he was never at home as he came to be in other English households. His best friends in the forties were the Ashursts of Muswell Hill. They were, he says, "a dear, good, holy family, who surrounded me with such loving care as sometimes to make me forget I was an exile." W. H. Ashurst was a solicitor, who had been a friend of Robert Owen, and who made Mazzini's acquaintance at the time of the letter-opening episode. To Mrs Ashurst Mazzini, forgetful of Madame Ruffini's expired title, gave the name of "second mother." One daughter married James Stansfeld; the other, at this time "the favourite of his English sisters," afterwards became Madame Venturi, and has left the best English memoir of him. Both they and their brother for long years after gave him much quiet help in his work. Through the Ashursts he came to know the Stansfelds and Peter Taylors, but his intimate friendship with them belongs rather to the time of his second residence in England. Among his other friends were William Shaen, whom the Italian refugees knew as their angelo salvatore, Joseph Toynbee, the father of Arnold Toynbee, Joseph Cowen, afterwards member for Newcastle, and George Jacob Holyoake. J. S. Mill wrote of him as "one of the men he most respected." Margaret Fuller, who had come to England prepossessed against him, lost her prejudices when she visited his school for organ-boys, and began the friendship which was to be renewed in the days of the Roman Republic. "She is," he writes of her to a friend, "one of the rarest of women in her love and active sympathy with everything that is great, beautiful, and holy." He had some intercourse with the two, next to himself, most notable Italian exiles in London at that time, Gabriel Rossetti and Antonio Panizzi. Mazzini interested Rossetti in his school, and they had common acquaintances among the exiles; but they never came into close touch, and Mazzini tried in vain to persuade him to help in his patriotic work. At a later date political differences completely sundered them. Panizzi was already Keeper of Printed Books at the British Museum. He had been a Carbonaro in his Italian days, and he and Mazzini had common ground in their cult of Dante and Foscolo. He backed Mazzini warmly in the incident of the letter-opening a few years later; but they disagreed on Italian politics, and they saw little of one another, though they seem to have been never entirely estranged. Among other foreigners that he met were Prince Napoleon ("Plon-Plon"), then busily conspiring against the Orleanists, and Conneau, afterwards Louis Napoleon's doctor and a general go-between for the Emperor and the Italian patriots. But he hated anything that tasted of fashionable society. The mistress of a famous London salon once persuaded him to come to her house, but when he found that she wanted him to adorn her society and not from any interest in his cause, he refused to go again.

He came at this time much under the influence of Lamennais. They began to correspond soon after the Words of a Believerwere published, and once at least they met. Mazzini saw a kindred soul in this "priest of the Church Universal," who "preached God, the people, love, and liberty"; this man "whom I saw but lately," so he writes in 1839, "so full of sweetness and love, who weeps like a child at a symphony of Beethoven, who will give his last franc to the poor, who tends flowers like a woman, and steps out of his path rather than crush an ant." He recognised how much Lamennais' teaching had in common with his own in its reaction against the sceptical, destructive school of the Revolution, in its belief in tradition and humanity, in its appeal to duty as the principle of life. In some degree, perhaps, Lamennais' Words of a Believer inspired his own Duties of Man. He had his own plans for him. He saw in him "a Luther of the nineteenth century"; he hoped, though not very confidently, that he would come frankly forward as a teacher of the religion of humanity, and he urged him to "do something better than write books," and become the missionary of the new faith. Lamennais replied, that though Christ could preach in the highways, four persons could not meet now in a field to speak of God and humanity without being taken up by a policeman. Mazzini was grievously disappointed at the refusal, and he felt that Lamennais regarded him with some diffidence, as indeed was natural enough. He "loved him as a friend and revered him as a saint"; but he felt that Lamennais returned his love "as it were in spite of himself." "This good Mazzini, one cannot help loving him," Lamennais once said in his hearing; and the phrase left an unhappy sense in Mazzini's mind.

Lamennais and "George Sand" were in his judgment "the two first living writers of France" at this time, and he looked to the latter too as one of his own faith. At the time of his mental crisis in Switzerland he read her Lettres d'un Voyageur (he always thought it her best production), and the book was "sweet to him as is the cradle song to a weeping child." He corresponded with her, and in 1847 visited her in the Vallée Noire. She impressed him above all, as she did Matthew Arnold the year before, by her simplicity. "Madame Sand," he wrote back to England, "is just as we wanted her to be; good, noble, candid, simple, calmly suffering, even more than can be seen in her books." He warmly defended her in England; not that he thought that all her books were to be lightly put into everybody's hand; but "the evil she has portrayed is not her evil, it is ours," and her realism was informed by a passionate moral purpose. Genius, he said, can in the long-run do nothing but good, and it is bound to make itself heard. "You may sound your alarm against her in your old Quarterly, and forbid your youth to read her: you will find some day, without well knowing how, the best places in your library usurped by her volumes." He saw in her "an apostle of religious democracy"; he responded to her sense of the Divine, her belief that the decay of the old creeds restored allegiance to the true Godhead, her faith in a future which should be built on love. He delighted to repeat her words, "there is but one virtue, the eternal sacrifice of self." And he saw in her, too, the voice of down-trodden womanhood; "thank God," he says, "she is a woman," and her books were a revelation of the "inward life of woman," a woman's pleading for justice and equality. At this time few writers appealed to him more; but her later works and her acceptance of the Empire alienated him, and afterwards he "sadly and unwillingly" convinced himself that what he had hailed as the sincere and conscious "utterance of a high priestess," was but the artist's passive echo of a faith that was not hers.

Slowly, besides making friends, Mazzini began to find work. The difficulties were great. He was at first too worn-out and unhappy to care to write. He could not yet write in English, and the expenses of translation absorbed a large part of the remuneration. It was a painful effort to trim his pen to the likings of the English public. "My ideas and style frighten them," he says. "What is old to us is new to them. One cannot talk to them of mission or humanity or progress or socialism." One editor refused an article in praise of Byron, "because Byron was an immoral poet." Kemble, the editor of the British and Foreign Review, politely declined his articles, after some experience of them, on the ground that the English public were "conceited asses," who could only gradually be broken in to listen to generalizations. Mazzini sometimes promised to do his best, but the effort came unwillingly, and it was only the pressing need of money and his resolve to ask no more from home, that made him write in an alien style on subjects that often had little interest for him. To an English reader, however, the discipline appears a salutary one; and his English articles have a precision of thought that his earlier writings lacked. His literary out-put was considerable. Some of his articles were more or less pot-boiling; thus he wrote on Fra Paolo Sarpi in theWestminster Review, on Victor Hugo and Lamartine—brilliant and suggestive essays—in the British and Foreign Review, on contemporary French literature in the Monthly Chronicle. He put more heart into those on English subjects,—his masterly criticisms of Carlyle in the British and Foreign Review and the Monthly Chronicle, and his papers on Chartism in Tait's Edinburgh Journal. But what he cared for most was to bring Italy or his own religious faith before English readers. He wrote for the love of it, when he discoursed on Dante's Minor Works in the Foreign Quarterly and on Lamennais in the Monthly Chronicle, or when he wrote on Italian politics for the same magazine, and on recent Italian literature, and probably on Italian art, for the Westminster Review. In the People's Journal under John Saunders' editorship he began the Thoughts on Democracy in Europe, which were afterwards expanded into I sistemi e la democrazia,—a very able criticism of the utilitarian and earlier socialist schools; in his own Apostolato Popolare he wrote the first six chapters of the noblest of all his writings, The Duties of Man. He seems to have written a novel, which never saw the light.

He found one literary task very near his heart. From the days of his early studies at Genoa, he had had a supreme admiration for Ugo Foscolo, as the one modern Italian writer, besides Alfieri, who had a virile political teaching for his countrymen. While in Switzerland, he had planned to write his life, and made researches for his manuscripts and rare and scattered publications. His interest strengthened, now that he was living close to where Foscolo's bones lay in Chiswick churchyard. He knew that Pickering, one of Foscolo's English publishers, possessed the manuscript of his unfinished notes on the Divina Commedia, already published, but with many inaccuracies, in 1825; and in a dusty corner of Pickering's shop he found the proof of part of Foscolo's Lettera apologetica, a kind of political testament, which apparently had not been published. Mazzini undertook the task of getting both re-published with more zeal than candour. Pickering would not sell the Letteraapart from the Dante manuscript, and asked £420 for the two. Mazzini "cursed his bookseller soul, and would have stolen them without scruple, if he could." A Tuscan lady, Foscolo's donna gentile, lent the money for the proofs; and Rolandi, the Italian publisher in Berners Street, was disposed to buy the Dante notes. Mazzini found that the notes were very incomplete, and feared that Rolandi would not buy, if aware of the deficiencies. He concealed the fact, and with immense labour completed the notes and the revision of the text. Rolandi, who, it seems, did not discover the pious fraud, bought the manuscript, and in 1842 published the edition in four volumes with an anonymous introduction by Mazzini, who took no pay for his known and unknown labours. The edition had its value at the time, though its interest now is historical only. Meanwhile he discovered the remaining manuscript of the Lettera apologetica in an old trunkful of Foscolo's papers; and thanks mainly to his friend, Enrico Mayer, the educationalist, this and others of Foscolo's political writings were published at Lugano in 1844. Mazzini gave much assistance to Le Monnier, the Florentine publisher, in the complete edition of Foscolo, which he brought out a few years later. But the life remained undone. For years with the true student's fever he hunted up every letter and record of Foscolo, to which he could find a clue. But as time went on, politics and social work commanded him again, and the biography, on which so many cares had been spent, was never written.

Gradually he returned to political work. At first the moral prostration produced intense lassitude; and he found it as difficult to settle down to politics as to literature. There were moments indeed of nervous reaction, when his brain teemed with "daring projects, titanic presentiments, limitless conceptions." But generally the struggle with depression used up his strength, and he felt too weary and discouraged to revive Young Italy. He seems, a few months before he left Switzerland, to have taken some sort of formal step to abdicate leadership. But where no actual organization survived, and there was no one to step into his place, the retirement meant nothing. Young Italy was so completely himself, that the society was non-existent, till he took up the reins again. There had been something of a stampede among its members. In Italy many had made their peace with the governments; others were nourishing their faith in silence; few carried on the work, at least in the old spirit. Conspiracy, it is true, was not quite dead; but the few secret societies, that still lived on, mostly harked back to Carbonaro traditions, or turned to an agrarian and free-thinking agitation, which was as hateful to Mazzini as apostacy itself. It was no better among the exiles. "There are not two of us," he complained, "who think the same on any single subject." "You cannot find one Young Italian among us." Many took advantage of the Lombard and Piedmontese amnesties to return home. Gioberti was attacking the society. Even those nearest to Mazzini had little faith in its methods or hopes, and Mazzini would compromise on no tittle of his creed to win them. In his high singleness of purpose he could not understand or tolerate the faintness of men, who had sworn to fight for an idea, but deserted at the first defeat. If his countrymen had not responded, that was only an argument for renewed and yet more strenuous effort. It was all so pitiful to him,—this want of faithfulness unto death. "When I write in favour of Italy," he says, "I feel myself blush, as if I were lying." For a time, though, he himself felt powerless to act. He was tempted to go to Italy, and throw away his life in some desperate act of protest. But he had too fine a nature to be long content with inaction or despair. "If you only knew," he writes early in 1839, "how this absolute uselessness of existence weighs on me." He dreaded dying with his work undone. Jacopo Ruffini's memory was ever present with him, and he felt that he was dedicated to the cause for which his protomartyr had died. He had taken on himself a task "in the face of God and Italy and himself"; he thought of himself as blasphemer and hypocrite, if he slackened in it; and though he knew that his enthusiasm had gone, sometimes too his confidence in Italy and himself, yet duty still remained, and he could trust in God and the righteousness of his cause. "I know," he wrote, "that Jacopo is not dead, that he and we are forerunners, not of a new policy, but of a new faith, which we perhaps shall see not, but whose advent no human force can stop."

It was not however till the summer or autumn of 1839, [14] that he decided to return to active political work "with an almost fierce resolve." At first he had no definite plan, except to accentuate the popular side of his programme and appeal more than he had yet done to the working classes. He had at present little means of reaching those at home, but he could do something among the Italian population in London, the shopkeepers and organ-grinders and hawkers of terra-cotta casts. Hitherto he had been little in contact with his working-class compatriots; now in the whirl of a foreign city he came to know them. It began with his intense feeling for suffering, that for the remainder of his life made him happiest when relieving individual cases of misery. About this time, going out one winter morning, he found a young girl on the doorstep worn out with cold and hunger. With the sympathy for forlorn womanhood, which he had in common with the greatest of English statesmen, he took her in and put her in his landlady's charge. When the girl afterwards married, and was deserted by her husband, he undertook the education of her children, and for many years devoted to it a large share of his scanty income. The same charity now drew him to the waifs of his own land. Talking to the Italian organ-boys, who went about the streets of London with a barrel-organ and its squirrel or white rat, speaking a patois half Comasque half English, he learnt the details of the "white-slave traffic," how a few Italians living in London brought over poor peasant-boys under contracts, which promised high pay and good living, but which had no validity in England; how when the boys got there, they were beaten and half-starved and cowed. He brought the worst offenders to justice, and did something to frighten the masters into better treatment of their victims. But he cared more to influence the boys themselves. In 1841 he opened a school at 5 Hatton Garden (afterwards removed to 5 Greville Street, Leather Lane), where the boys came in the late evenings to learn the three Rs and some elementary science, and on Sundays had lessons in drawing and Italian history. The school was very dear to Mazzini, and the boys, says an English observer, "revered him as a god and loved him as a father." One of them, returning to Italy, travelled to Genoa expressly to tell Madame Mazzini what her son had done for him. Italian and English friends (Joseph Toynbee among them) taught gratuitously, and the annual supper was a great event for him and his circle. Mario and Grisi sang at concerts to help the school's finances. The school flourished in spite of the noisy opposition of a neighbouring Italian priest,—an opposition, which Mazzini repaid by his first angry attack on the Papacy.

Already, before the school was opened, he had started a political society for the Italian workmen in London, and was publishing a paper, the Apostolato Popolare, which came out at intervals till 1843. In it he makes his appeal to the working-men of Italy. He felt more strongly even than in his Marseilles days that a revolutionary movement must depend for its main support on the working classes and have their good for its ultimate goal. English life had brought him into touch with the social thought of the time, and he felt that political movements were dwarfing beside the question of the condition of the masses. He began to speak of the Italy to-be as the "Italy of the People." It was the people, he wrote, who suffered most from her dismemberment and misrule. While other classes had their compensations, there were no distractions for the unknown poor, no true home life, no intellectual interest. He tried to rouse them from their provincialism, their self-absorbed indifference to politics. He appealed to them to be patriots and republicans, proud of their country's glorious past, working for its future and their children, and remember that God would judge them not by what wages they earned but by what they had done for their fellows. But however much he laid stress on the democratic side of his agitation, on working-class organization and social reform, he was careful to safeguard Young Italy from becoming a class movement. It was at this time and in his papers for working men, that he first began the crusade against socialism, which he continued, sometimes with less discernment, to the end of life.
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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

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Chapter 6: The Revolution

1843-1848. AETAT 37-43

Politics in Italy—The Bandieras—The Post-Office scandal—The People's International League—Life in 1845-47—Letter to Pio Nono—Attitude towards the royalists—The Revolution of 1848—At Milan.

While Mazzini was watching from England in discouragement, and the waves seemed to gain no painful inch, in Italy the main came flooding in. How far exactly the sudden tide of national impulse owed itself to his teaching, is perhaps an insoluble problem. But when one remembers how wide had been the influence of Young Italy, how many of the men who were now coming to the front had been its members, it seems unlikely that the impetus could have come without him. Young University men who treasured secretly at home his pamphlets or numbers of the Apostolato Popolare, artisans who had fingermarked his or Gustavo Modena's tracts, were pondering his teaching and waiting for the times to ripen. But Mazzini's influence, even if the most powerful, was not the only one. Traditions still lived on, handed down from the Carbonaro revolutions; the old belief in Charles Albert was flickering into life again; the mild Catholic nationalism, that came from Manzoni and his school, flowed strong; and all the time the daily witness of oppression and misrule was there to preach against the Austrians and the native tyrants. And though there were many currents in the swelling crowd of nationalists, at two points all moved together. Austria must go, and there must be some guarantee for good government.

In spite of censors and police, the rising spirit showed itself in literature. "The shade of Dante, the poet of the regenerated nation, began to brood above the speech and silence of the land." Students, in the footsteps of Foscolo and Gabriel Rossetti, drew all the reading world of Italy to the great national seer, who more than five centuries before had pleaded for unity. Dramatists and historians and novel-writers spoke of the ancient glories of their country. Social reformers came in to swell the liberal movement, founders of schools and savings banks, agricultural pioneers, builders of railways that would "stitch the boot." Their interest in politics was a secondary one, and such political sympathies as they had, were generally with the Moderate politicians, just rising to a prominence, which was soon to eclipse Mazzini's waning light. Gioberti had already published his Moral and Civil Primacy of the Italians, which, while it echoed Mazzini's faith in Italy and Rome, banned democracy and unity, preached federalism and half-hearted liberalism, and looked for salvation to Charles Albert and a reforming Pope. Cesare Balbo in Piedmont was pleading for the same mild policy, without its faith in the Papacy. Theirs was an easy creed beside Mazzini's. They had little of his religious faith, none of his passionate democracy, his demand for sacrifice and martyrdom. It was a creed for the doubting and half-hearted, for the royalist and Catholic, for the courtier and the rich man and the priest; and also for the level-headed man of the world, who turned from Mazzini's fancies and idealism, who laughed at Italy's mission to humanity but cherished a more modest hope for her own regeneration. But at all events the teaching had two notes in common with his own. It strove to lift the nation to healthy ambition and strenuous effort; it cried as earnestly as he did for the expulsion of the Austrian. And so it made the complement of his work. Less noble in its spirit, more halting in its patriotism and uninspiring of great deeds, yet it marshalled for the cause a host, that would never have swelled the thin ranks of Young Italy. It supplied the common movement with qualities that Mazzini conspicuously lacked,—a political sense of the possible, and, among its better exponents, a patience and tolerance, a comprehensiveness that prejudged no class and welcomed all, who, gladly or reluctantly, offered themselves for the great task.

One of the sources of the Moderate movement was the impatience at the little insurrections, that only led to useless loss of life and an embittering of the tyranny. One of its postulates laid down that there should be no revolt against the better native princes, and that the fight with Austria should be waged by regular armies. But the traditions of revolt could not die out at once, indeed were all the stronger for the new spirit of hope that was abroad. All Central Italy was alive with plots. Mazzini, though he was coming partially to recognize the futility of these petty risings, still had a standard of preparation that was pitifully inadequate. He was elaborating a scheme for a rising in the Papal States, to be followed by movements in the North and South and supported by the exiles. He was still persuaded that a few small guerilla bands would draw the people after them, that daring and a clear programme were the only necessary conditions of victory. He found few men and less money for his plot. Among the handful, who put themselves at his disposal, were two young Venetian nobles, Attilio and Emilio Bandiera, officers in the Austrian navy, which was chiefly manned by Italians and Dalmatians. They were high-minded lads, and, one is bound to add, sentimentalists and prigs, naively self-conscious and immature; but with the supreme virtue that they were ready to take their lives in their hands. Mazzini wished to use them for his designs in Central Italy; but there were police agents of the governments around them, who had their ear and sent them with a handful of followers, including a man in the pay of the police, to help an imaginary rising in Calabria. The English government, too, had opened their correspondence with Mazzini, and put the government at Naples on its guard. Thus they went, as they foreboded, to their death. The trap was ready for them; and when they landed near Cosenza, they were captured easily and shot.

The ignoble action of the English government brought Mazzini into English political life. He suspected that his correspondence had been tampered with in the post, and careful experiments proved to him that his letters had been opened, sealed with new wafers, and the postmark altered. He put the matter into the hands of Thomas Duncombe, the member for Finsbury; and the storm of indignation, that followed Duncombe's disclosures in the House of Commons, showed how angrily the better English opinion felt it, that the government had violated elementary ethics and "played the spy" in the interests of continental tyranny. Shiel and Macaulay denounced it in parliament. Carlyle wrote to the Times that "it is a question vital to us that sealed letters in an English post-office be, as we all fancied they were, respected as things sacred; that opening of men's letters, a practice near of kin to picking men's pockets, and to other still viler and far fataler forms of scoundrelism, be not resorted to except in cases of very last extremity." The government tried to ride out the storm with quibbles and constructive falsehoods, which proved, as Mazzini said, that they adopted different standards of honour for their public and their private lives. Sir James Graham repeated the stale charge that Mazzini had promoted assassination in France, and honourably withdrew it, when he knew the facts. But public feeling was too heated to let the matter rest there; and secret Committees of enquiry were appointed by both Houses. They reported that letters had been constantly opened at the Post-Office, at all events since 1806; that even letters of members of parliament had been tampered with; that in this case the government had issued a warrant to open Mazzini's letters (his letters had in fact been opened several months before the date of the warrant), and had sent information extracted from them to "a Foreign Power." It is true that this information seems to have been of a general character, but that did not affect the ignominy of the whole business or the fact that an English government had sent a warning to the Bourbons, that helped them to entrap the hapless patriots.

The incident gave Mazzini a welcome opportunity to appeal more directly to English opinion on behalf of Italy. He had a supreme contempt for English foreign policy, which "opposes everything that introduces a new fact in the European polity, and is the first to recognize it when it shows its strength." It was an unfair criticism, at least of Canning and Palmerston, tied though the latter's hands were by court and colleagues. England was still on the whole the champion of the cause of men. But it was true that the Foreign Office gave small attention to the great nationalist movements that were maturing in Europe. The wise policy for England, as he urged, was to encourage these movements, and win the gratitude of the rising nationalities, not necessarily by armed intervention (he expressly disclaimed asking for that), but by her moral backing. Perhaps it was partly owing to the seeds he sowed at this time, that Palmerston afterwards did for Italy so much of what he asked for. We may regret that he never gave a generous recognition to the great Foreign Secretary's policy.

On individual Englishmen and Americans he knew that he could count for practical sympathy. He exploited well both the anti-Papal feeling in the country and the old love of Italian liberty, which had descended from the days of Byron and Hobhouse. English and American travellers carried his secret letters and literature into Italy. He had plans for utilizing the Christian Alliance, an American society for Protestant propagandism. A year or two later he induced his English women-friends to organize an Italian bazaar, which was held at Mrs Milner-Gibson's, nominally for the expenses of his Italian school, but with the secret intention of devoting any surplus from the Italian contributions to a National Fund, which he was trying to raise for political work. In the same year, 1847, he founded a People's International League to resume the interrupted work of Young Europe, but mainly with the object of enlisting sympathy for Italy. Stansfeld, the Ashursts, Peter Taylor, W. Shaen, Thomas Cooper, Henry Vincent the Chartist, W. J. Fox (the Unitarian orator, afterwards M.P. for Oldham), served on the Committee. They used to meet once a week at Mr W. J. Linton's house in Hatton Garden, and Mazzini "with those wondrous eyes of his lit up with a power that was almost overwhelming," infected them with his own enthusiasm and faith. Men among them, like Thomas Cooper and Peter Taylor, who had denounced physical force remedies in England, demurred at his gospel of revolution. "You are right about your own country," he passionately answered. "You have had your grand decisive struggle against tyrannous power. You need no physical force. But what are my countrymen to do, who are trodden down under the iron heel of a foreign tyranny? They have no representation, they have no charters, they have no written rights. They must fight."

The business of the League brought one of the very few occasions, on which, so far as is known, he expressed his views on Ireland. Some Repealers complained to the League that it had omitted Ireland in its report from the list of the nationalities of the future; and Mazzini was asked to draft an answer to them. His argument was addressed to Separatists, but it would apply almost equally to Home Rulers; it proves how radically he misunderstood the Irish movement, and he seems to have felt himself on unsafe ground. He regarded the Irish demand as at bottom one for better government only; and he had every sympathy with their "just consciousness of human dignity, claiming its long violated rights," their "wish to have rulers, educators, not masters," their protests against "legislation grounded on distrust and hostility." But he believed that the nationalist movement was not likely to be permanent, and he refused to see any elements of true nationality in it, on the grounds that the Irish did not "plead for any distinct principle of life or system of legislation, derived from native peculiarities, and contrasting radically with English wants and wishes," nor claimed for their country any "high special function" to discharge in the interests of humanity. On which it may be noted that the first objection shows Mazzini's ill-acquaintance with Irish life and feeling, and that the second involves a condition, which, save in his own theories, has not been asked of any nation.

In place of the enforced idleness of a few years before, he was now only too busy. Political correspondence, literary work, the school, the bazaar, visiting and being visited crowded on his time. He hardly left London, except for two visits to France and one perhaps to Italy, and once for a pilgrimage to Newstead Abbey and other places of Byronic memory. He had left Chelsea, and moved first to Devonshire Street, near the British Museum, and afterwards to Cropley Street, near the New North Road. He was somewhat happier and more hopeful. His active life left little time for the old broodings. The Post-Office scandal had brought him new friends, and the desolation of his solitude had gone. He joined the Whittington Club, largely for the sake of playing chess, at which he was an adept and did not like being beaten. He was much perturbed by a proposal to allow no chess on Sundays, and jokingly threatens a rider that smoking too shall be forbidden, except to those who undertake to sit silent for an hour in religious contemplation, and that, as further penance for the members, one of them shall "read twelve minutes every hour alta voce e con declamazione a parliamentary speech from Mr Plumpton or Sir Robert Inglis or a chapter from the second volume of Tancred by D'Israeli." But when back in his lodgings, he was often depressed and miserable again. He was "giddy" with writing, worn down with work and want of proper food and clothes; and for the first time he writes in bad spirits about his physical condition. The burden of poverty and debt still "dominated his life." He was now in receipt of a small allowance from his mother, to find which she stinted herself of every luxury and more. But he was generous as ever, and probably as bad a housekeeper; and he found himself powerless to reduce the mountain of debt. His literary earnings were again very small. The life of Foscolo was still waiting to be begun, for he thought it better now "to supply new materials for Italian history than make an inventory of the old." The better-paying reviews no longer took his articles, and he was "writing on Switzerland and heaven knows what for a petty Edinburgh magazine." He fretted because the need of hack-work and his multifarious occupations left little time for writings that would help the cause, as they had helped it fifteen years ago. "For the wretched sum of some 8000 francs," he writes, "I am a slave; I am growing old in body, in soul, in power, and I am not allowed to help my country and fulfil my mission." And from causes that we can only guess at,—perhaps the worry and publicity, perhaps the partial lifting of his unhappiness, perhaps the loss of physical health,—there is a perceptible, though slight decline from the moral height of a few years before. He is less the apostle, more the politician, too fond of coming forward as the practical man—a part that ill became him,—not always straightforward in his utterances and methods, more reasonable, it is true, and tolerant, but at the same time sliding into occasional reticences and equivocation.

The result of the Bandiera episode was to leave Young Italy yet more friendless than before. Its miserable mismanagement was set down to Mazzini, unfairly on the whole; and cruel slanders charged him with egging others to a desperate task, while he stayed safe behind. In reality, he was more impatient than ever to lead a fight in Italy "before he grew quite old." But he seems again to have recognized that any fruitful action was impossible. All his efforts for the National Fund brought in a poor £100. And he knew that he was losing his hold on the middle classes, and must wait till he had formed a party among the working men of the towns. The Rimini revolt of 1845, its poor programme of local reform and silence on the bigger issues, proved what influence the Moderate movement in its worst and weakest form had even in those parts of Italy, from which he had hoped most. A year later the Moderates leaped into overwhelming prominence with the accession of Pio Nono to the Papacy. Here was a Pope, the Italians fondly thought, eager to bless Liberals and Nationalists, while Charles Albert in the North was threatening to bare his sword for war. The mass of Italian Liberalism caught at their protection, and was ready to pay the price. Some no doubt hoped to push on the King, till he was "moral," if not actual "lord of Italy"; others dreamed that circumstances might make Pius president of an Italian Republic. But the majority willingly accepted the limitations of the policy, were ready to safeguard the Temporal Power, to make Italian union no better than a loose federation, to stop short at administrative reform or at the most at middle-class constitutions.

Mazzini was very suspicious of the new development; jealous that the nationalist movement had passed into other hands, that the credit of it went to men like Gioberti, who had halted in their faith, while he alone had held the banner high; sceptical of Charles Albert's and the Pope's intentions; angry at the tentative, compromising ambitions of the Moderates, at their repudiation of democracy, their trust in diplomacy and its pretences and deceptions. He knew Charles Albert's "rabbit-nature"; he judged Pio Nono much at his own estimate. "They want," said the Pope, "to make a Napoleon of me, who am only a poor country parson." "An honest parson but a bad prince," was Mazzini's verdict. The triumph of the Moderates meant that Unity would be put indefinitely back, and federalism inflict "perpetual impotence" on Italy. But he saw the impossibility of standing out against the new spirit. And he was prepared, as he had been in 1833 and again in 1844, to waive his republican agitation, if the Moderates for their part would abandon federalism and declare for unity. "If I thought," he said, "that Charles Albert would rise to rare ambition and unite Italy for his own behoof, I would say Amen." "Let the Moderates," he wrote, "give us, if they like, a Pope, a single king, a dictator; we can compromise on everything but federalism." And on these lines he was working through 1847 to bring the exiles at Paris together on a common programme of Unity, to which both monarchists and republicans could rally.

It was in this spirit that in September of the same year he wrote his famous letter to the Pope. As with the parallel letter to Charles Albert, he was anxious afterwards to explain away in part its implied belief in the Pope's patriotism and its anxiety to see him leader of the Italian movement. But his private letters of the time would seem to show that this was an afterthought, and that he was sincerer than he gave himself credit for. In one of them, written apparently just before the letter to Pius, he says in somewhat Carlylean style, "I consider this as the last agony of popedom authority. And in my own way of feeling I would not be sorry to see a great institution dying, for once, in a noble manner; transmitting the watchword of the future before vanishing, rather than sinking into the Crockford or Tuileries mud of the English aristocracy and French monarchy. A moral power, like a great man, ought always to die so; uttering the words of dying Goethe, 'let more light in.'" In another letter, written in the same month, he says that he wrote to the Pope "in a moment of expansiveness and juvenile illusion," as he would have written to his friend himself. He was excited and sanguine at the great European drama, that was developing so fast. He still probably had moments, when the old faith in men broke through his later suspicion and exclusiveness. He was ever looking for a new religion to issue forth from Rome, [15] and for the moment dreamed that a nationalist Pope might be its herald. His appeal, however, was ludicrous in its miscalculation of the facts. "Be a believer," he said to Pius, "and unite Italy." He told him that he, the foremost man of the moment in Europe, had duties of corresponding magnitude. He could guide Italy to her appointed future, make of her one great state, based on the people and justice and religion, with "a government unique in Europe, which would end the absurd divorce between the spiritual and temporal powers." If Catholicism were capable of revival, he under God might be the instrument; if it were destined to give place to a new creed, based on the same Christian principles, he could be the leader, who would guide the Church securely through its passage. One can imagine the horror with which Pius read the part so tactlessly suggested to him; and we know that the only result of the letter was to thoroughly alarm him.

In fact Mazzini's fits of belief in Pope or King were very transitory. Only five months before he had written in an open letter, that he "did not believe that from prince or king or pope Italy would now or ever find salvation." His mind was in a state of flux, wavering between his old simple, but for the time impracticable, creed and some compromise with the new order. It would read him wrongly, if we charged him with downright insincerity; but his whole conduct through this period is a disingenuous one, too subordinate to unavowed intentions, too much akin to that "substitution of Macchiavelli for Dante," which he condemned so unsparingly in the Moderates. While professedly ready to work with the monarchical nationalists, while abstaining from any active republican agitation, he was encouraging republican beliefs, anxious even to keep something together of a republican organization, that when "the Moderate farce was hissed off the stage," the republicans would be again in a position to captain the nationalist cause and lead it to their own goal. He wants to spread the literature of Young Italy broadcast. He urges that his followers, while nominally joining the Moderate ranks and "shouting for Pio Nono louder than the rest," should quietly prepare to seize the movement for themselves. At the same time, outside Italy they were to depreciate the Pope with equal vehemency, that when the inevitable disillusioning in Pius came, they could put in a claim to foresight. Apart from this underhand diplomacy, his hesitation was largely justified. He had no security that the Moderates would accept the offered compromise or declare for Unity. And he feared that the enthusiasm of the masses might evaporate in noisy demonstrations, that reform would prove an opiate to lull the nationalist impulses to sleep again. Towards the end of 1847 his chief anxiety, as Cavour's was for different reasons twelve years later, was to irritate Austria into taking the offensive, and force the Italians to fight for independence. He was confident that she would intervene. Sometimes he hoped that the popular pressure behind would force Charles Albert to head the national defence; at other moments he welcomed the thought that the native governments would decline the challenge, and Young Italy be left alone to lead the war.

For once he underrated the strength of the nationalist feeling. The new year opened with revolutions in dramatic sequence. Its first day saw the Tobacco Riots at Milan,—the overture to the maturing Lombard rising. Two days later the social revolution mildly reared its head at Leghorn, and Mazzini's old collaborator, Guerrazzi, was master for a few days of the insurgent city. In another fortnight Sicily, with one great effort, threw off the Bourbon yoke; and before the month was out, the Neapolitans had forced a constitution on King Ferdinand. In the first half of February Tuscany and Piedmont had their constitutions too; in a few days more the Second Republic was proclaimed in France, and the face of European politics was changed. Pio Nono, ever more fearful of liberalism, but carried helplessly along, gave the Romans a constitution; and, save in the Austrian provinces and dependant Duchies, all Italy had won its liberties. War with Austria was now only a question of weeks, and the nation waited breathlessly till the signal came from Milan or Turin. Charles Albert was still the "Wobbling King," drifting towards war, thirsting for national applause and revenge on Austria, but timorous of the democratic forces that pushed on behind, dreading republican France as much as the real enemy across the Ticino.

While he paused, the great uprising came. The news of revolution at Vienna passed the signal through the North. The heroic Milanese after five days of memorable struggle drove the great garrison out in flight. Venice, Bergamo, Brescia, Como, well-nigh every city in the Lombard and Venetian lands, fought for and won their liberty. The Austrian power crumbled in a week, and save at Ferrara and the fortresses of the Quadrilateral,—themselves too all but lost,—no foot of Italian ground remained to Austria. From all Italy the forces of the nation were hurrying to complete the work. Piedmont and Tuscany declared war. The Pope and King of Naples let perforce their troops march to the front. From town and village, from plain and mountain valley the volunteers poured up. Princes and statesmen, clergy and nobles, students and artisans,—all were swept along by the great flood of patriotism, some lightly or with purpose to betray, but the mass with the enthusiasm of crusaders, glad, for the day at all events, to give up comfort and home and life. It seemed as if Mazzini's vision were fulfilled, and Italy, transfigured by a holy call, had risen in unconquerable might.

Mazzini hurried to Italy at the glad tidings. He was already in Paris, where he had gone again directly after the Revolution, and had just founded a National Association to carry out his policy of bringing royalist and republican exiles together in the cause of independence and unity. He crossed the St Gotthard with some danger. "The scene," he wrote back to England, "was sublime, Godlike. No one knows what poetry is, who has not found himself there, at the highest point of the route, on the plateau, surrounded by the peaks of the Alps in the everlasting silence that speaks of God. There is no atheism possible on the Alps." He stopped to pick the first pansy he saw, when he left the snows, to send it to an English friend. He reached Milan on April 7. He could not go to Piedmont or Genoa, for the sentence of 1833 still hung over him, and, besides, Milan was the centre of everything at the moment. But the scene of the Five Days did not bring the sense of exultation he had expected. "As for Italy," he writes, "I have grown old, and seem only too much to bear the chains of exile with me." But he "cried like a child" with enthusiasm, when he saw two thousand Italians, who had deserted from an Austrian regiment, march through the shouting crowd; and the reception he found must soon have cheered him. The very customs-officers on the frontier had known him from his portraits, and repeated his phrases to him. A procession met him at the gates of Milan, and took him in triumph to his hotel. His position was in fact a very strong one. He stood before his countrymen as the prophet once cast out and stoned, who had preached in the wilderness, what was now a commonplace on every tongue. His beliefs of yesterday—utopias to other men—were potent facts to-day. Italy was free or nearly so. Throughout the land democracy seemed on the eve of triumph. Even the republicans and unitarians had shown an unexpected strength. And he, who through long years had preached and suffered, while others fell away or doubted, had the grateful homage of his countrymen. At this time, probably, his word was law at Milan.

It remained to be seen if he had the talent for actual political life, whether he could put away accumulated prejudices, see clear to the supreme and indispensable end, and waive all secondary things for that. His professed position was a sound one. While the war lasted, so he laid down, there must—apart from the postulate of Unity—be a truce to party struggles. Monarchy or republic must await the decision of the liberated and united nation; and meanwhile the whole strength of the country must be given to the war. His earlier actions were true to this programme. He supported the Provisional Government, and discouraged the extremer republicans. Probably, as he hinted later, he was half inclined at first to believe that Charles Albert was the fittest instrument for the deliverance of Italy. And though he soon abandoned any hope in the King, he repeated to the end that, while the war lasted, there should be no republican agitation.

So far as the war itself was concerned, he did his best in the one way open to him, the encouragement of the volunteers. He exaggerated their military value, just as he had always exaggerated the possibilities of guerilla fighting in Italy. But his advice that every available man should be thrown on the enemy's communications in Venetia was better strategy and patriotism than the poor jealousies, that made the regular army and the politicians depreciate the volunteers from fear lest their influence should be cast for a republic. In a fight, where the Italians had no single commander of genius, the Moderates had the folly to reject the services of men, like Garibaldi and Fanti, who twelve years later were the first generals in Italy. But, sincerely as Mazzini tried to help the war, he was not equally loyal to his professions of political neutrality. His refusal to let unity remain an open question deprived them at once of any seriousness. Even his ostensible attitude towards the monarchy was no doubt in part a matter more of necessity than principle. He seems to have gone to Milan undecided what exact policy to adopt; and as soon as he arrived there, he wrote that he was occupied in organizing the republicans, and that, should Charles Albert fail to gain a speedy and brilliant victory, he had hopes of success for them. But he soon realized that a republican agitation meant, if not civil war, at all events a fierce dissension in the face of the enemy, a dissension on no point of vital principle or honour,—which would have shamed its author. And, though the republicans were strong at Milan, they were perhaps a minority even there, and in the rest of Lombardy a handful, while Piedmont and its army stood solid in their loyalty to the King. And so, whether from choice or from necessity, he stood in the letter by his promise to abstain from republican agitation. But the policy of neutrality sat uneasily on him, and he soon broke from the spirit of his undertaking by loud professions of republican faith and suggestions quite inconsistent with the silence he was pledged to.

To some extent the policy of the Provisional Government excused his change of attitude. At the beginning of the war everybody had accepted the position, that there should be a truce to politics till the fighting was over. But as the war dragged on, the position became a hardly possible one. The government of Lombardy was hopelessly incapable, and everybody wished to see it superseded. The conservatives both at Milan and Turin feared to leave an opening for a possible Lombard republic after the war. Many of the democrats wished for annexation as a step to Unity. The agitation for "fusion" with Piedmont grew so strong, that the government, not unwillingly, capitulated, and ordered a plebiscite to be taken on the question whether fusion should take place at once. When the voting came, there was no doubt abundance of intimidation by the fusionists; but the overwhelming majority that declared for them proved that the desire for a North Italian Kingdom was predominant in the politics of the moment.

Almost irresistible as the forces were that made for fusion, Mazzini was strictly accurate in branding it as a breach of faith. The fusionists had tried to win him over. The King had sent a message, that, if he would use his influence with the republicans in favour of fusion, he should have an interview with himself, and exercise as much influence as he wished in drafting the constitution on democratic lines. [16] The offer was a generous and patriotic one, but Mazzini consented only on condition that the King would publicly declare for Unity, and sign a bombastic promise to be "the priest-king of the new age." Naturally no answer came to this, and Mazzini broke into polemics, that the bad faith of the other side did something to excuse, but which were none the less opposed to the spirit of his pledge. Italy, he said, would never be united, till the flag of the republic flew at Rome. He pleaded that France should adopt a frankly "republican and revolutionary" diplomacy. Royalty was "a hereditary lie," and the republic the only government which would put the best citizens in power. Now and again he shot stinging phrases at his opponents, that only added to the bitterness of faction; for, as often, even when Mazzini tried to be tolerant, his pen ran away with him. He attacked the Turin nobles, forgetting that they and their sons were at the war, giving their lives for the cause he loved. No doubt he had provocation, and the baser Moderates were even more intolerant, but none the less he was playing a hurtful and ungenerous part.

He made, in fact, a grave blunder in staying at Milan. His presence there did little to help the war; it was, whether he wished it or not, a standing encouragement to the factiousness, that was not a little responsible for the ill-fortune of the army. His place was at Rome. At bottom the Italians were defeated through the feebleness of Charles Albert's generalship and policy and the defection of the Pope and King of Naples. Mazzini could do nothing to make a capable commander of the King; but he might have influenced his policy. Charles Albert, timid and conventional as he was, had had his hand forced already and was prepared to have it forced again, as his son's was a few years later. Mazzini judged the King accurately and not unkindly; but his attitude towards him was lacking in all tact. Bad-tempered attacks on the monarchy, melodramatic appeals for a "priest-king," suggestions that the united nation would proclaim the republic from the Capitol, could only alarm. But had the popular pressure been sufficient and well-directed, Charles Albert would, half fearfully but half gladly, have felt his way to the crown of Italy. He had a deep belief in nationality; he dearly loved popular applause. Romagna was only waiting for his signal to come over to him. Piedmontese agents were at work in Tuscany, and it is hard to believe that he had not approved their mission. He hesitated long before he declined for his son the crown that Sicily laid at his feet. Had Mazzini gone to Rome, he would have given a great impulse to the radicals and unitarians there. It would almost certainly have decided the Romagnuols; it would not impossibly have created such a force of opinion in all Central Italy, as would have overborne the autonomist parties and the King's own hesitations, and put all the Papal States and Tuscany under his suzerainty. Nay more, though the counter-revolution had triumphed at Naples, the nationalist elements were strong throughout the South; and had Mazzini organized them from Rome, and Garibaldi marched South in the name of Unity and Charles Albert, the work of 1860 might have been done twelve years earlier. Even had the bigger consummation failed, Mazzini could have forced the Pope to choose between a nationalist policy and deposition from his temporal throne; he would have thrown all the energies of the Roman government into the war, and given Charles Albert another ten or twenty thousand men, enough to shift the scales of victory.
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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

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Chapter 7: The Roman Republic

1848-1849. AETAT 43-44

The collapse of the war—The People's War—At Florence—The mission of Rome—The Roman Republic—The Triumvirate—Attitude to the Church—The French attack.

Had he done this, he might have averted the catastrophe, which quenched the nation's hopes in swift disaster. In one pitched fight after another the Italians had won. But courage could not repair bad generalship and growing inferiority of numbers, and Mazzini foretold disaster only too accurately. At the end of July the collapse came, and the army, still fighting doggedly, but starved and outmanœuvred, retreated on Milan. For some weeks past Mazzini had urged that a small committee of defence should be appointed; and when disaster threatened, he was allowed to nominate his men. He chose Fanti and two others, who did their best in the short time to organize the defence of the city. The Milanese rose again to something of the spirit of the Five Days; but it was too late to turn the tide of victory. The army made a gallant fight outside the city walls, but were driven back within the gates. The unhappy king would fain have fought on still, but he knew there was no hope of victory, and after long hesitation he surrendered the city. The people, maddened by the desertion, attacked the palace where he lodged, and it was with difficulty that his life was saved. Sullenly he and his army withdrew, followed by thousands of the citizens, intolerant of Austrian rule.

Mazzini left Milan, as soon as the army arrived, shouldering a rifle that Mrs Ashurst had given him when he left England. He had persuaded himself that a popular rising might have saved the city, but that the army could not. He started to join Garibaldi, who was in command of the volunteers at Bergamo, and met a detachment of them at Monza. Their flag had "God and the People" for its legend, and the volunteers chose Mazzini to carry it. Garibaldi's small force of three thousand men made a difficult retreat, in terrible weather and ever harassed by the Austrian cavalry. Mazzini, frail and exhausted, won their admiration by his endurance and intrepidity. He was happy doubtless to have a simple task, which only asked for physical courage, after the tangled politics of the last four months.

The volunteers disbanded when they had passed the frontier, for the national cause seemed desperate. The army had retreated into Piedmont, and the King had signed an armistice. The Roman and Tuscan forces hardly existed; Naples was at the mercy of King Ferdinand. The Austrians had triumphed swiftly and conclusively. They dared not indeed cross the Ticino for fear of French intervention, they were not strong enough as yet to advance into Central Italy, and Venice defied them in her lagunes; but Lombardy and the Venetian mainland seemed lost past hope. Mazzini refused to own defeat. But he based his hopes more on partisan illusions than on cool possibilities. The royal war had ended; the people's war would begin. The Italians, betrayed by their princes, would rise in their own strength, and crush the Austrians by force of numbers and enthusiasm. He was working feverishly at Lugano to create a national organization to this end, and prepare for a popular rising in Lombardy. Again he wavered whether or not to raise the republican flag. Providence, he thought, had by the recent disasters pointed the Italians to a republic. But, at all events after the fiasco of a mad rising near Como, he recognized the hopelessness of an unsupported insurrection in the Austrian provinces. He saw, as cooler heads saw all along, that the Piedmontese army was indispensable; and, while urging the Romans to declare for a republic there, he was willing to postpone the political question elsewhere, and work with any, who would relegate it to the decision of a Constituent Assembly after the war and throw their strength into a new fight. He recognized at last that his own best field was in Central Italy. Various motives drew him there. He could use his influence at Florence and Rome to push on the military preparations; he could perhaps secure a union of the two states, which would be a step towards unity; he might, if circumstances favoured, help to plant the republican flag. Both in Tuscany and at Rome democracy was triumphant. The Pope had fled to Ferdinand's fortress at Gaeta, and the Romans, finding every overture for compromise rejected, and left without a stable government, were heading irresistibly for a republic. At Florence the Grand Duke was at the mercy of the democrats, with no alternative before him but flight or unconditional surrender. Mazzini left Lugano, and sailing from Marseilles, arrived at Leghorn on February 8, just when the news had come that the Grand Duke had fled from Florence. He used his influence to prevent any attack on the ducalists and dissuade the Livornese from secession. A week later he was at Florence. Here he saw Giuditta Sidoli, at whose house he met Gino Capponi, and paid a visit to Giusti. But he had little time for the society of friends. Guerrazzi was now virtually dictator of Tuscany. More practical in small things than Mazzini, but with none of his inspiring confidence or simple loyalty to an idea, he was trying to steer a middle course and keep clear of a republic. He and Mazzini had hot words, and Mazzini, backed by a great republican meeting by Orcagna's Loggia, forced him to a nominal and insincere acceptance of its programme. After fruitless efforts to promote union with the Roman states, and make the slow Tuscans prepare for war, Mazzini left for Rome.

Ever since the Pope's flight in November, he had been appealing to his friends there to agitate for a republic. The road, he urged, was plain. The Pope had virtually abdicated, and, without a blow, the republic was in their grasp,—a republic, which might grow into a republican Italy. "You have," he wrote, "in your hands the destinies of Italy, and the destinies of Italy are the destinies of the world." It was one of the master-ideas of his life, cherished through years of meditation from the first days of Young Italy. The thought was a fantastic one; a student's conceit, fed on his early classical studies, on his later readings in medieval history, above all on Dante's faith in Rome, the destined seat of Empire; a strange historical survival, born of what Cesare Balbo called "the importunate memory of Rome's past greatness," which translated into modern terms the theories of the Holy Roman Empire. Many an Italian in those days shared that faith,—a faith that fed their inextinguishable resolve that Rome should be the capital of Italy. Mazzini and Gioberti went beyond, and looked to Rome for some new word of truth for all humanity. But while Gioberti's destined instrument was a reformed Papacy, Mazzini watched for a Pope-less, republican, Italian Rome to bring the dawn of that "religious transformation," Christian in spirit and in origin but with another dogma, which would again unite mankind in a living, universal faith. Indefinite as his conception was, the thought of an all-embracing unity, the "word of universal brotherhood"—the necessary mark of any great religion—runs through it all. As Imperial Rome had united Europe by force of arms and majesty of law, as Papal Rome had united it by thought and spiritual authority, so "Rome of the People" would unite it once again in some new gospel of social duty and progress, would harmonize the temporal and the spiritual, the Roman law of justice and the Christian law of sacrifice. When nationality had remodelled Europe, then would eternal Rome, destined alone of cities to rise more mighty from each fall, be hailed its moral centre, seat of a diet of the nations, to teach to them their common duties to humanity. [17] Who will say that this last more modest vision may not some day and in some sense be fulfilled?

Partly in consequence of Mazzini's incentives, more from force of circumstances, the republic was proclaimed at Rome on the day after he landed at Leghorn. The Assembly, a fairly level-headed body, elected on manhood suffrage and drawing its members from the larger landed proprietors and upper middle classes, had voted for it by a great majority; and the republican Triumvirs had discoursed in true Mazzinian phrases, and headed their acts with the rubric "God and the People." On the fourth day of the republic the Assembly unanimously made Mazzini citizen of Rome, and invited him to come. He started as soon as he could leave Tuscany, and arrived on the evening of March 5, slipping into the city unobserved, "awed and like a worshipper," feeling, as he passed under the Porta del Popolo, "a spurt of new life," that for the moment swept away doubtings and disappointments. His first thought was to organize for the impending war. Piedmont, unreconciled to defeat and stung by Austrian brutalities in Lombardy, was about to denounce the armistice; there were formidable preparations for insurrection in the Lombard cities; Venice was undaunted and threatening from her lagunes. Republican Rome must not be behindhand. Mazzini made her anticipate the belated appeal from Piedmont by offering ten thousand men, and they had started for the North when the news of Novara came.

Piedmont lay crushed by one staggering blow, and the hope of freeing Lombardy had gone. The moment's task was to save Central Italy, and in the imminent danger the Romans turned to the man who had won their reverence and lifted them to something of his own moral greatness. Mazzini was made a Triumvir, and henceforth became little less than dictator. He had probably at heart small hope of saving the Republic, and to foreigners like Clough and Margaret Fuller did not conceal his fears. But the cause was not yet desperate. He knew he could contemptuously disregard the Neapolitans, who were hovering on the Southern frontier; and at this time he could not foresee how base a part France was soon to play. The Austrians were the only serious enemy in sight; and with Hungary still untamed, with the chance that Piedmont might brace itself to a third effort, a desperate defence might yet keep them at bay. He intended to treble the Roman forces, and concentrating them at Terni, swoop down on the long line of Austrian communications, as they advanced along the Eastern coast.

Meanwhile, among the cares of war, he began to build a government that should be worthy of his ideal. "Here in Rome," he told the bickering politicians in the Assembly, "we may not be moral mediocrities." He hoped to inspire government and people with one great purpose, that would leave no place for party-spirit or suspicion. He would have no exclusiveness, no intolerance, no war of classes or attacks on property or person. "Stiffness in principles, tolerance to individuals" was the motto of his rule, and to this, through all the troubled times that followed, he was nobly true. At a time when national danger might have excused severe precautions, the press was hardly interfered with; there were few arrests, fewer penalties, for political offences; conspirators, with barely an exception, were left in contemptuous tolerance, or merely warned not to let the people know of their intrigues. It was this very leniency to the men who were plotting the Republic's downfall, that led to the few outrages that stained its name. The civil service and police, left full of enemies and lukewarm friends, lacked vigour to repress the disorderly elements; and here and there a fanatic or criminal took advantage of the murmurings at Mazzini's tolerance to assassinate a Papalist. But save in a few provincial towns, where political murder was endemic, and for a few isolated outrages at Rome, there was absolute security alike for friend and foe. Mazzini's mild authority stands out in luminous contrast with the Papal terrorism, that scourged the unhappy land before and after.

The Triumvir's attitude to the Catholic Church is a strange commentary on the myth, that writes him down an anti-clerical fanatic. The man, who believed Catholicism a spent force, whose whole soul yearned for a new religion to issue forth from Rome, was yet superlatively careful not to shake the people's one religious creed. It would have been easy to do otherwise. There was fierce exasperation at the Pope's obduracy, at the ferocious fanaticism of men, who would see Rome bombarded rather than yield one tittle of their temporal power. Churches were half empty, and, but for the government's precautions, many another priest would have died the victim of the people's anger. But Mazzini made it one of his first cares to protect the clergy in their spiritual work. His deep religious instinct, old memories and friendships, his respect for men who in their way were witnesses to the spiritual, made him always tolerant towards them. "In Italy," he once said, "the priest is powerless for harm but powerful to do good"; and before this time and after he made impassioned appeals to them to take their part in the national work. He tried to win them now. It was from no ill-will towards the Church that he did something to repair the ecclesiastical misrule. Such reforms as he effected were bound to go to the strengthening of a church, made hateful by clerical domination; and many were the priests and monks who defied the threatening cardinals at Gaeta, and gladly rallied to the republic. The nationalization of church lands, which Mazzini took over from his predecessors, aimed at improving the stipends of the poorer clergy. Religious services and processions went on uninterrupted, and his one act of severity towards the priests was to fine the canons of St Peter's for refusing to celebrate the usual Easter services. "It is the duty of the government," the Triumvirs said, "to preserve religion uncontaminated." "Do not be afraid," he wrote to a nun, who feared the suppression of her convent; "pray God for our country and for men of good intentions." Once in the fear of imminent attack upon the city, the crowd fetched a few confessional boxes from the churches to make barricades. Mazzini reminded them that from those confessionals had come at all events words of comfort to their mothers. It is perhaps the most convincing proof of his grip on the people's hearts, that the confessionals were taken back. With the Pope himself he was ever ready to compromise. True, he had postulated his expulsion and the downfall of his authority as the condition of the new faith, for which he yearned. But whether it was that the statesman saw that the idealist must wait, or from his deep respect for the institution round which hung so much of Christian history, or that he wished to remove the last pretext for the intervention of foreign Catholics, his attitude went to the extreme of conciliatoriness. At its first outset the Republic, while decreeing the fall of the Temporal Power, had promised all necessary guarantees for the Pope's spiritual authority; and Mazzini, anticipating Cavour, tried to persuade the Assembly to define the guarantees, and offer to consider any suggestions for them that the Catholic Powers chose to make. We must distinguish, he said, the Pope from the Prince, and claim our rights without doing violence to religious faith.

Thus noble and thus gentle was the Triumvir's rule, and finely the people responded to it. At first there had been small enthusiasm for the Republic. The Romans had accepted it calmly, as the one alternative to the intolerable rule of priests. But Mazzini touched them with his own great faith. He appealed to no selfish interests. He promised social legislation, but it went into the background behind the national question; and except for a land scheme to create a peasant proprietary on the church lands, there was no time to project much for their material well-being. His was a pure spiritual ascendancy, that made a populace, demoralized by bad government and charity, rise to something of his own moral height and dare to bear and die. There were some at all events, to whom Rome, hallowed by a great ideal and noble rule, had become as the city of God. Greatly their leader merited their love. The equivocations of the past few months had gone, and in a clear position of command, untrammelled by the need to compromise with alien forces, he stood in all the majesty of his translucent soul. It shone in his face; worn and emaciated, he seemed to Margaret Fuller "more divine than ever." His personal life, of which we have grievously few records, was one of democratic simplicity. Lodged in the Quirinal, he hunted for a room "small enough to feel at home in." Here he sat unguarded and serene, "sadly ἀδορύφορος for a τύραννος," wrote Clough (for it was a country where political assassination was a tradition on both sides), as accessible to working men and women as to his own officials, with the same smile and warm hand-shake for all; dining for two francs at a cheap restaurant, afterwards, during the siege, living on bread and raisins, his only luxury the flowers that an unknown hand sent every day, his one relaxation to sing to his guitar when left alone at night. The Triumvir's slender stipend of £32 a month he spent entirely on others. As an administrator, he was too gentle to be sufficiently prompt and stern. He even refused to sign the death-warrant of a soldier condemned by court-martial. But he made amends by his unbending energy and the quick and fertile intellect, that helped in every military detail of the defence and made his diplomatic notes, so Palmerston is said to have called them, "models of reasoning and argument." Through all the tangled cares of government he kept his calmness and serenity, the statesman's right to lift his people to new visions and new powers.

His hope was to leave a great republican example. Probably he dared expect no more. Sanguine no doubt he was, but in his cooler moments he seems to have realized from the first that the powers of evil were too strong for the noble little republic. The blow came from an unexpected quarter. This is not the place to dissect the causes, that led France to the meanest of modern political crimes, that impelled a state, pledged by its own constitution "never to employ its forces against the liberties of another people," to destroy an unoffending sister-republic. France paid at Sedan for the carelessness of honour, that allowed the Catholics and Louis Napoleon to do a great crime in her name. When Oudinot's expedition started, and, in spite of falsity on falsity, it was plain that the French government intended to crush the Romans, Mazzini's policy was clear. He would not yield to brute, unrighteous force; Rome, he told the Assembly, must "do its duty and give a high example to every people and every part of Italy." But to him the enemy was not France but the French government. The true republicans at Paris were striving courageously to save the Romans and their own national honour; and on their efforts depended the one hope of safety. He would do nothing that would weaken their hands or unnecessarily hurt French pride. When the Assembly resolved without a dissentient voice to resist at all cost, and Oudinot's troops were ingloriously driven back, defeated by the raw Italian levies, he refused to let Garibaldi make the rout complete. The French prisoners were released after generous and diplomatic hospitality. A monster gift of cigars was sent to the enemy's quarters, wrapped in handbills that appealed to republican fraternity. Perhaps someone remembered that eighty years before the American Congress had sent the same ingenuous present to the Hessian mercenaries.

Fraud and force alike had failed to open the gates of Rome, and the long chapter of deceit went on,—deceit hard to parallel even in the diplomacy of great nations. Ferdinand de Lesseps, then a budding attaché, was sent to parley with the Romans, till Oudinot's reinforcements arrived, and the new elections in France gave a Catholic majority in the Chamber. It was a mere ruse, but de Lesseps was Napoleon's dupe and negotiated in all good faith, giving ample credit to Mazzini's "moderation and loyalty and courage." Had they been left alone, they would have concluded peace on terms honourable to both sides, and Mazzini seems to have hoped that the danger from France was passing. Garibaldi was sent to meet the Neapolitans, who had advanced as far as Albano, and drove them back in rout across the frontier. King Ferdinand brevetted Ignatius Loyola field-marshal of his army, but the very posthumous honour could not exorcise the superstitious terror, with which the great guerilla-chieftain's name inspired his men. Had the Triumvirs been free to let Garibaldi advance, the Bourbon power would perhaps have crumbled, as it crumbled eleven years later.

But at the moment when Mazzini and de Lesseps had agreed on terms, the French government threw off the mask, and Oudinot made a treacherous attack. Then came the memorable siege, when for nearly a month the badly-armed and badly-generalled Romans kept at bay an army twice their number and a powerful siege artillery. Heroically they struggled on against the overwhelming odds. The great majority of the soldiers were natives of the state; but some had gathered from all Italy, drawn by the spell of Rome to fight once more for country. It was a band of heroes, such as never came again together in the Italian struggle; generals of the future like Medici and Bixio; Manara, the Lombard leader in the Five Days; Mameli, the war-poet of Italy, son of the woman who had been Mazzini's boyish love; Ugo Bassi, the priest-patriot, greatest Italian preacher of his day, nearest of spiritual kin to Mazzini's self; Bertani, the future organizer of the Sicilian Thousand and Pisacane their precursor; and the great protagonists themselves, Mazzini and Garibaldi;—a diverse band, patricians and plebeians, saints and sinners, royalists and republicans, all moved by one supreme redeeming love of Italy and Rome. Within, the city showed a passive heroism as fine. Calmly and patiently the people bore the destruction of their homes, the growing scarcity, the hopelessness of victory as the toils drew ever closer round the fated city. Six thousand women came forward to offer their service in the hospitals. When the women of the poor Trastevere were driven from their homes by the French shells, the government lodged them in the palaces of the fugitive nobles, on their simple promise that there should be neither theft nor injury, and the promise given in the name of "God and the People" was scrupulously kept.

To their leader those weeks must have been a time of fearful strain. Garibaldi's bad generalship and bad temper shortened a resistance, that was hopeless from the first. The losses were heavy, and Mameli and Manara fell with many another of Mazzini's friends. After the ill-fated revolt of the Mountain on June 13, there was no hope of diversion from the republicans at Paris. At home, though the Assembly loyally supported him, he had to meet the petulant criticism of Garibaldi and the intriguers who made him their tool. To him it was a matter of clear duty that the Republic should fight on to the end. "Monarchies may capitulate, republics die and bear their testimony even to martyrdom." When the last defences broke down, he wished to make a desperate fight from street to street, or retire with the Assembly and the army to the Apennines, throw themselves on the Austrian lines, and keep the republican flag flying in Romagna. The army was prepared for either course; but the Assembly had no stomach for the sacrifice, and Mazzini, bitterly reproaching them, resigned his office on the eve of the city's fall. Sullenly Rome surrendered, and the victors, as they entered the city, hung back before the threatening populace. Garibaldi, with three thousand who disdained surrender, began his great retreat. "Hunger and thirst and vigil," he promised them, "but never terms with the enemy." Mazzini would have been more consistent, had he gone out with them. Perhaps he had no liking for a desperate fragment of his rejected scheme; perhaps the personal tension with Garibaldi was too great. For some days he stayed on in Rome. He was worn out and overstrung; he had not slept on a bed since the siege began, he had fed on coarse and insufficient food. In two short months he had grown old; his beard was grey, his face cadaverous, his manner, so Margaret Fuller noted, "sweet and calm, but full of a more fiery purpose than ever." He wandered defiantly about the streets. It was partly that he wanted, by offering himself to any assassin's knife, to kill the lie of the Catholic press that he had forced a hated tyranny upon the Romans. Besides, he had a desperate hope that he might rouse the people and the remaining troops to one more struggle. His whole soul was possessed by the passion to protest on to the end against the triumph of brute force. It is strange that the French did not arrest him; perhaps they knew too well the temper of the people. At last Gustavo Modena's wife and Margaret Fuller persuaded him to withdraw. He had no passport, but he found the means of sailing to Marseilles; there he succeeded in eluding the French police and travelled on to Geneva.
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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:23 am

Chapter 8: London Again

1849-1859. AETAT 44-54

In Switzerland—Life in London—English friends—English politics and literature—The Friends of Italy.

Mazzini stayed for a few weeks in a quiet hotel near his old quarters at Geneva, then moved to Lausanne, where he and a few more refugees, Saffi, his co-Triumvir, and Pisacane among them, took a small house (the Villa Montallegro) near the town on the hills that overlook the lake. Here he and his friends plunged at once into the old eager work of correspondence and journalism, as if the struggle at Rome had been a holiday. Another ephemeral paper, L'Italia del Popolo, was launched on its short career. His head was full of literary schemes,—an Italian translation of the Gospels with an introduction, a new Encyclopædia, which should do for religious democracy what the old Encyclopædia had done for the thought of the eighteenth century. It was a quiet, not unhappy time, that must have recalled something of the old days at Marseilles. At times indeed he was miserable and pessimistic as of old, brooding over lost friendships, chafing at the triumph of brute force in Italy. But except in these hours of taciturn gloom, when he avoided all companionship, he was serene and genial, sometimes brightening into anecdote and humour, when the party settled down to the evening's talk and chess.

In the spring of 1850 the agitation in France at the proposed revision of the constitution excited vague hopes of a revolution there; and with some fatuous idea that he could help to stop Louis Napoleon's progress to empire, Mazzini went to Paris, only to discover how empty was the expectation. On the journey he lost a note-book, in which for many years he had entered his thoughts on religion. The world would gain more from its discovery than from that of any lost Greek tragedy. He crossed to England for a few months, then returned to Switzerland. But the persecution of 1834 repeated itself. The governments put pressure on the Swiss to expel the refugees, and Mazzini after a month or two of hiding found it necessary to leave. One night in November he and two friends left Geneva, walking along the lake to Nyon, while they discussed Byron and Mickiewicz, and were taken on in a friend's carriage to Lausanne, whence he found the means to escape to England.

Here he made his home with few interruptions till the last years of his life, taking no small part in English society and politics, finding his best friends in English men and women. "Italy is my country, but England is my real home, if I have any," he said. He had come to love England and English ways, and in his brief political journeys to Italy his home thoughts went to England, and he was glad to be back again. His old horror of London changed to a real liking; and its conveniences for his work made it difficult to get him out of town, save for a rare visit to his friends, or for a day or two to recruit his health at St Leonard's or Eastbourne, which he liked, or at Brighton, which he hated. He longed sometimes, indeed, for "some secret nook in the country, to breathe fresh air and gaze on the sky or at the sea"; but when he was urged to take rest in the country, he railed affectionately at his "misled and dreamy friends" for supposing he could attend to his work anywhere out of London. The fogs still had their fascination for him; he wrote once from Italy, "I think very often under these radiant skies of the London fogs and always regretfully. Individually speaking, I was evidently intended for an Englishman."

At first he lived at Cromwell Lodge, Old Brompton, a little house in the middle of orchards and gardens at what was then the extreme western end of London. Building operations drove him thence, and Mrs Carlyle found him lodgings over a post-office at 15 Radnor Street, near his old rooms in York Buildings. Here, at first with Saffi and three other exiles, afterwards alone, he lived the frugallest of lives. His income indeed was somewhat larger than it had been. At his mother's death he came into an annuity of £160 a year, which she, knowing how readily his money flowed to public work and charity, had wisely invested with obdurate trustees. His friends would gladly have helped him, but though he frankly asked money of them for his cause (always scrupulously repaying it, if borrowed on his personal responsibility), he never, so far as I know, would take from this time forward money for strictly personal needs. Once only he accepted some to pay for a private secretary, and once again for cabs, when his friends suspected that there were plots to assassinate him, and feared for his walking in London streets, unprotected save by a sword-cane. Thus, even with casual literary earnings, his income seldom reached £200, and of this for some years £80 went to the education of the Tencioni children, and often every other available penny to finance his plots of insurrection. While his enemies in Italy painted him living in patrician luxury, he denied himself every comfort (cigars always excepted), save the modest ones that his friends forced on him. Money he only wanted for his political schemes. "I have never felt so bitterly the curse of not being rich," he wrote once, when wanting rifles for one of his revolutionary plots. For himself, he was content with his humble fare and modest lodgings. Here in his small room, every piece of furniture littered with books and papers, the air thick with smoke of cheap Swiss cigars (except when friends sent Havannahs), brightened only by his tame canaries and carefully-tended plants, he was generally writing at his desk till evening, always with more work in hand than he could cope with, carrying on the usual mass of correspondence, writing articles for his Italian papers, raising public funds with infinite labour, stirring his English friends to help the cause, finding money and work for the poor refugees, or organizing concerts in their interest. The school in Greville Street went on for three years longer, when, except for the Sunday lectures, it was closed. And amid all the exacting cares of public work he spared himself no trouble for his English friends, advising in their family affairs, writing long letters of tenderness and spiritual wisdom to comfort a bereaved son or lead a young girl from a life of selfishness to higher things.

He had aged greatly since he left London less than three years ago. He was worn and thin, his beard was white, and the once dark features wore "a sort of grey, ashy halo." But it was the same high "cliff-like" forehead, the regular features, the strong, straight nose, "the exquisite curve of lips like a woman's in their expression of spotless purity," the piercing black eyes, whose like none ever knew who saw them, "of luminous depth, full of sadness, tenderness, and courage, of purity and fire, readily flashing into indignation or humour, always with the latent expression of exhaustless resolution"; "the only eyes," says another observer, "I ever saw that looked like flames." "His face in repose was grave, even sad, but it lit up with a smile of wonderful sweetness, as he greeted a friend with a pressure, rather than a shake, from the thin hand." [18] He carried his head a little forward, and he had a habit of sitting on the edge of a chair, perhaps, it has been suggested, because in his own room his books left but narrow margin for sedentary uses. He dressed, as ever, with perfect neatness, in a worn black frock-coat, a double-breasted velvet waistcoat buttoned high, despising collars and substituting a silk handkerchief wound round his neck, wearing a long thin gold watch chain, which had probably been his father's, and two rings, one at least no doubt his mother's, now rescued from the pawn-shop.

His personal life was centred almost wholly in his English friends. It is true, he felt his exile bitterly. "Wish for me," he writes to friends one Christmas, "that I may die in the country and for the country, in which I have been forbidden to live." But he had no home ties in Italy now. His father had died in the winter of 1848, leaving him to brood over the thought that he had been but a source of pain to the grim old man, who under all his moroseness and want of sympathy had never lost his pride and affection for his son. His mother, whom he had seen once again when at Milan, with whom he had never relaxed the close, affectionate correspondence, died in the summer of 1852. It was a very heavy blow. There was no one to replace her; he had lost "the dream of his individual life,—to see her in the joy of triumph," when Italy was free. But he nerved himself, and took her loss as an incentive to fresh effort. "My mother," he writes, "seems to me to be present, perhaps nearer than she was in her terrestrial life. I feel more and more the sacredness of duties, which she recognized, and of a mission which she approved. I have now no mother on earth except my country, and I shall be true to her, as my mother has been to me." So intensely actual was she still to him, that once afterwards, when in hiding and deep dejection, he thought she came to him in veritable presence to strengthen and console him. His lonely heart, athirst as ever for affection, went out to his English friends, the men and still more the women, who believed in him and in his politics, and tried to bring some warmth and brightness into his sad life. After a year or two he saw little more of the Carlyles, but their place was more than taken by the Ashursts, the Stansfelds, the Peter Taylors, the Shaens, the Mallesons, the Nathans, the Milner-Gibsons. When the day's work was over, he would generally spend the evening at one or other of their houses, most often with the Stansfelds, whose home at Bellevue Lodge was within an easy walk from his lodgings. Gradually he came to have a large outside circle of acquaintances. He corresponded with Grote and Mrs Gaskell; the Brownings, J. S. Mill, Jowett, Swinburne, Cairnes, Miss Martineau, probably Dickens were among the people he met. [19]

With these friendships a new light and happiness came to his life. Probably, too, the consciousness of having played a great part nobly added a new touch of dignity and gentleness. "The indescribable look of suffering for others," noted one who met him now after a ten years' interval, "has disappeared, and he is now a man full of experience, patience, and hope." "The Roman revolution," wrote Carlyle to Emerson, "has made a man of him,—quite brightened up ever since." All the human sweetness in him blossomed out. His friends provided the home care, which he had lost, since he left his mother and sisters at Genoa twenty years ago; and he loved to repay them by many little marks of affection, never forgetting birthdays, buying presents of books and jewelry out of his slender purse, taking them to the Opera, where his acquaintance with the great Italian singers sometimes put boxes at his disposal. In his evenings at the Stansfelds he was often full of merry fun; he could tell a story well, all the more piquantly for his Italicisms. One favourite anecdote (he had told it to Mrs Carlyle) was how he baffled an undertaker, who brought a coffin by mistake to his landlady's, and refused to take it away. "My dear," he said, no doubt with his sweet gravity, "we have not here a dead." Or he would, when quite alone with the family, sing to his guitar, or finger out on it the score of some favourite opera. His native gentleness came out in his kindness to children and animals. He does not seem to have been naturally very fond of children, but, when among them, he made himself easily at home. Some French children at a house which he visited, who got into disgrace when Louis Blanc came to see them, were always good with Mazzini, "because he was so kind and never failed to enquire after the dolls." They loved to sit and listen to his talk, not that they understood him, but because the beautiful voice fascinated them. With dogs and cats and birds he was always happy. He would make one of his hostesses angry, because he insisted on feeding her dog at dinner. "But, my dear," he would say, "I make Bruno happy." Ledru Rollin and he, once talking, probably, of the European revolution, put out their cigars, because the smoke made a dog uncomfortable. His most constant companions were his tame linnets and canaries. He had netting over the windows, so that they could fly about his room at liberty; and visitors would generally find a bird or two perched on his head or shoulders, or hopping among his papers, inured to the thick tobacco smoke, in which they and he lived.

He was a brilliant talker, because he was in earnest and his thoughts were clear, at all events to himself. There was no trace of effort or affectation; he was always just himself and never played a part. He would speak with a prophet's simplicity and conviction of his religious faith and the destinies of man, talking vivaciously, tenaciously, passionately sometimes, with the authority of one who had no thought of self and had lived and suffered for his creed. Some of his hosts were the champions of every struggling cause, and the conversation turned naturally to American slavery or women's rights or nationality or cooperation. Music and poetry were favourite subjects with him, and he would contend pugnaciously in mock-earnestness for the superiority of Meyerbeer over Rossini, or inveigh to his heart's content against the abominated doctrine of "art for the sake of art." He once, when dining with Mr and Mrs. William Shaen, forgot his dinner in his eagerness to convert his hostess from the heresy; and when pressed to eat, pleaded that he had something else to do, for "here is Mrs Shaen travelling to perdition as fast as she can, and I must save her soul." He spoke English now well and fluently, but,—unlike his English writing, which was rarely unidiomatic,—with many little Italicisms. Among those he seldom met, he was sometimes nervous and silent; at other times, perhaps from the same nervousness, he would monopolize the conversation, and was remorseful afterwards. Once, many years after this time, he met Jowett, and talked uninterruptedly for two hours, Jowett listening silently. When Jowett went, he observed, "he made me talk all the time, and I have no notion what he thought of it." Jowett, made careful notes of what he said, and years afterwards remarked, in allusion to their meeting, "Mazzini was a man of genius, but too much under the influence of two abstract ideas, God and the principle of nationality." He thought, though, very highly of him. "He was an enthusiast, a visionary," he said, "but he was a very noble character, and had a genius far beyond that of ordinary statesmen. Though not a statesman, I think that his reputation will increase as time goes on, when that of most statesmen disappears."

With those, who knew him well, constraining was the influence of this man, who spoke with authority of life and God and duty. Young people at all events, who came under the spell of those eyes, and heard the vibrating voice speak with passionate earnestness of the deep things of God, felt for him an awe and veneration, such as few, if any, of his generation inspired. Here was one who had given all for his ideal, who had taken poverty for his bride, yet without self-righteousness, too sad at the world's sin and struggle to be aught but humble; one too, who had lived on a great stage, who was helping to remodel Europe, a great thinker, a great moral teacher, yet with infinite concern for the trials and temptations of some puzzled soul. "Thou noble Mazzini," said Clough after brief knowledge of his life at Rome. Much deeper was the feeling of those, who had the privilege of close companionship. And, though, perhaps, it would be difficult to prove it, it is probable that he has left no inconsiderable impress on English thought. Here and there one finds strong traces of his influence on men, who have helped to mould the best thought among us in the last forty years. "Mazzini is the true teacher of our age," said Arnold Toynbee. Never, certainly, did age more need his high idealism to teach a nobler rule in national and private life.

His literary work at this time was not remarkable. He was "still praying God to grant him, when Italy had become a nation, two years of hermit life," when he could write his long-cherished book on religion and a popular history of Italian nationality. But the hope of ever writing them was gradually fading. He was too absorbed through all this period by political propagandism, and in his controversial writings of these years he is generally far from being at his best. The latter chapters of his Duties of Man, however, date from this decade. He seems, despite his busy life, to have found a good deal of time for reading. His writings on the Slav question are evidently the result of careful study. Apart from political reading, English literature seems to have claimed his interests. Byron was still to him the greatest of English poets, and he read Byroniana with the zest of a devotee. He could not forgive England for her neglect of her "only poet who will live in times to come." "I wish," he once wrote, "I had time to write before dying a book on Byron, and abuse all England, a few women excepted, for the way she treats one of her greatest souls and minds." He was keenly interested in the controversy on Byron's treatment of his wife, refusing to believe that the husband was the more in fault, but owning himself too indiscriminating an admirer to be a fair judge. [20] He would contrast him with Wordsworth and Coleridge, criticizing the latter as contemplative poets, living remote from action among their lakes and mountains,—which proves that he had not read Wordsworth's patriotic sonnets. He liked Chatterton in a way, drawn doubtless to him by his sad end and de Vigny's drama; "I have always," he writes, "had a sort of fondness for him, as I have for crushed flowers." Among contemporary poets Mrs Browning was probably his favourite. He reads Aurora Leigh, "admiring it very much, only wishing from time to time that she had written it in beautiful prose than—passages excepted—in neglected poetry." Browning himself he is said to have read and admired. But perhaps he alludes to him when he writes, "the form in England begins to be systematically wrong, I think."

Meanwhile he had resumed his strong interest in English life and politics, stimulated no doubt by the keen thinkers he moved among, but always preserving his own original outlook. On the whole, his was not a very appreciative criticism. Sincerely and increasingly as he admired the freedom and seriousness of English ways, he keenly felt the decay of our religious life, and, what he regarded as its consequence, the selfishness and want of principle in our foreign policy. His knowledge of Protestantism was never very deep or sympathetic; but he knew enough of it to apply his own tests of religious vitality. He condemned it for its soul-killing formalism; he showed how it sinned against itself, when it ceased to be concerned with men as citizens; he poured scorn on the Bible Societies, that tried to proselytize his countrymen, and made no sign, when he and other Italians had fought at Rome for liberty of conscience. It was to this want of true religion, that he charged our insular selfishness. He detested the Cobdenites. "The 'peace-men' have no principle." "Your Peace Societies," he wrote in an open letter to "the people of England," "allowing God's law and Godlike human life to be systematically crushed on the two-thirds of Europe,—your believers in liberty as the only pledge for man's responsibility, allying themselves with despots,—your Christians fighting for the maintenance of Mahommedan law on European populations,—seem to me to be the reverse of religious." If England gave no helping hand to the young nationalities to which belonged the future, she would find herself in twenty years shut out from the sympathies and alliances and markets of the Continent. He vigorously condemned the Crimean War, and took his stand with the few, who tried to save England from that colossal blunder. Not that he objected to war with the oppressor of the Poles. But a war, which might have been a crusade for the downtrodden peoples of the East, had ranged England, once the champion of liberty, on the side of Turkey and Austria. The alliance with the tyrant of Italy and Hungary "took from the war whatever made it sacred in the eyes of God and man." It pledged English backing for the evilest of Continental despotisms. It robbed the war of any principle, and "war is the greatest of crimes, when it is not waged for the benefit of mankind, for the sake of a great truth to enthrone or of a great lie to entomb." He "bowed before" the heroism of the army, "the quiet, silent devotedness, with which the nation accepts all the sacrifices inseparable from a war"; but "the policy of your war," he said, "is absolutely immoral, how can you hope for victory?" How different had it been, had England avoided the dishonouring touch of Austria, and sought her ally in a Polish revolution.

Mazzini's interest in English society and politics was, like everything else except his friendships, turned to the use of his own country. He expected three results from his English propagandism,—to secure for Italy the moral support of English opinion and the English press, to influence the foreign policy of the country in her favour, and to obtain money for his insurrectionary schemes. He worked on the traditional sympathy for Italy, and tried to turn it from its belief in Piedmont to his own revolutionary and democratic programme. He appealed to the anti-Papal feeling of the country, and played on the theme that a free Italy would allow fair play for Protestant missions. With men of the Manchester School he argued that free trade would follow free government; with the working classes he spoke of the common interests of working men the world over. His own friends he constantly enlisted in his schemes, and made large levies on their private purses. "It makes my hair stand on end," said one of them—a well-known politician—afterwards, "to think of what I did at the suggestion of that man." Public opinion he hoped to influence through the Society of the Friends of Italy, founded in the autumn of 1851 by the men, who had promoted the People's International League four years before,—James Stansfeld, Peter Taylor, William Ashurst, William Shaen. Some of the best English Liberals of the day were on the committee,—William Byles of Bradford, Joseph Cowen, George Dawson, John Forster, W. E. Forster, J. A. Froude, G. J. Holyoake, William Howitt, Douglas Jerrold, Walter Savage Landor, G. H. Lewes, W. J. Linton, David Masson, Edward Miall, Professor Newman. Mazzini generally, if not always, spoke at their annual meetings,—with intense nervousness, for he was not yet sufficient master of English to speak it fluently, and he "could not think without a pen in his hand." "I cannot understand people," he writes, "who can prepare a speech or article walking up and down their room or garden. I could walk about a day without an idea entering my head." His speeches, none the less, seem to have been eloquent and successful, his manner being, as the newspapers reported, "most exciting." The Society suspended work, when the Crimean War broke out, and was re-constituted again at the end of 1856. As far as money went, Mazzini got less than he hoped from his English agitation. A few friends gave generously, but there was little of the response that came to Garibaldi's appeal a few years later. But the Society did much to win English opinion, if not for Mazzini's own special schemes, at all events for the bigger question of Italian liberty. The Leader, the Daily News, theMorning Advertiser opened their columns, and did something to counteract the anti-Italian bias of the Times. In 1857 a fairly vigorous agitation, especially in the North and Scotland, carried on the work that Kossuth's meetings had begun, and roused a vehement popular feeling against Austria.
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