Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 3/Last week (October 6, 1860)



Success at Ancona, a check before Capua; popular enthusiasm in the south of Italy, a more disciplined and orderly preparation for coming events in the north; the Austrians still in the Quadrilateral, and the French at Rome; Count Cavour and Joseph Garibaldi the rival chess-players, the Emperors of France and Austria watching the game with heavy stakes on the result; Italy, save the patrimony of Saint Peter, from the Savoyard frontier and the Mincio down to Reggio, clear of foreign soldiers; the King Lackland, late of the Two Sicilies, making a last stand, and the garrisons of Messina and Ancona still holding out; the continent of Europe wholly alive, and England only half-alive to the true meaning of passing events—such are a few of our Italian jottings for the Last Week.

What is to be the end of all this? Two principles are at work in the Italian Peninsula—which will triumph in the end?

On the one side is Garibaldi with his great heart—sick to death of diplomacy and priestcraft—indignant at the juggling partition of Italy completed under the auspices of Cavour; mindful of the past history of his country, and resolved to hazard everything upon his present throw; profoundly convinced that the policy now in favour at Turin means little more than the substitution of France for Austria as the dominant power in Italy; determined to try conclusions with the French at Rome, and with the Austrians in Venetia, as soon as he has given good account of the débris of the Neapolitan army; but hampered with difficulties which close round him the moment he pauses in his triumphal progress; an object of suspicion and distrust to all Continental Statesmen; pre-eminently a Revolutionary Chief, and the needful man if Italy is to be saved by revolution; the popular idol of his own country, and beloved and respected by the Liberal party not only in his own country, but throughout the civilised world.

On the other hand we have Count Cavour who, no doubt, on his side also very honestly means the liberation of Italy from the grasp of the foreigner, but who pursues the object he has in view by very different paths from those in which Garibaldi is to be found. Cavour thought that the assistance of France to clear Lombardy from the Austrians was well purchased by the sacrifice of an Italian province. He bargained and sold away Savoy to France in return for Lombardy. He would not only not venture to attack the French troops in Rome, but he would put forth the armed power at his disposal to interpose between them and attack from the Italian side. He has actually taken the step of causing Umbria and the Marches to be occupied by Sardinian troops, and has dissipated Lamoricière’s mercenaries more with the view of warding off a collision between the French and the Garibaldians than with the idea of annexing the provinces named to his Sovereign’s dominions.

As matters now stand, and unless the Pope departs quietly from Rome, Garibaldi must break through a Sardinian military cordon before he is admitted to the privilege of a struggle with France. In the journals published at Turin and Milan, and which are written more or less under the auspices of Cavour, it is emphatically denied that any intention of attacking Austria either in Venetia, or in any of her Adriatic provinces, exists at all in the minds of the advisers of the Sardinian King. At the same time, military preparations are pushed forward with extreme vigour, and, as far as Upper Italy is concerned, Count Cavour would seem to be putting himself in readiness for any eventuality. There cannot now exist any doubt that Garibaldi’s expedition to Sicily was carried out under the sanction, and with the active assistance, of the Sardinian Government. Cavour, therefore, is willing to take advantage of the revolutionary feeling to a certain extent—but it must not develop itself beyond measure. He would keep the whirlwind within control, and discount earthquakes if he might. If the liberation of Italy, as Cavour understands the question, is to be carried out, the result will be brought about by sacrifices and compromises. At the end of the year 1861 we should, in all probability, still see the French at Rome, and the Austrians in Venetia, and the Italian Peninsula itself more or less a satellite of France.

Meanwhile forces are at work which would seem rather to be on the side of the great revolutionary chief than of the shrewd diplomatist at Turin.

Austria is hopelessly bankrupt, and must fall from bad to worse, unless the young Emperor and his advisers make up their minds to handle the various provinces of the empire in a spirit very different from that which has inspired the counsels of Austria for the last forty-five years. Francis Joseph is in the position of an Irish landlord with a very fine, but a very heavily mortgaged estate. If he adheres to the old traditions of Castle Rackrent he must soon come to the Encumbered Estates’ Court;—if he have energy enough to turn his back resolutely on the past, there is yet for him a tempus pœnitentiæ. On the 21st of last month Count Clam presented to the Austrian Reichsrath a report on the financial condition of the empire. Here are a few of his figures. During the last ten years Austria has paid away in the shape of taxation 800,000,000 florins more than it paid in the preceding ten years. But despite of this severe addition to the national burdens, the national debt is 1,300,000,000 florins larger than it was ten years ago. More than this, State domains have been sold to the extent of 100,000,000 florins. Even if peace is maintained, the estimated deficit for 1861 will be 39,000,000 florins, and 25,000,000 in the following year. More than this again, what is called the “extraordinary war contribution” of 32,000,000 florins has broken down; and at the conclusion of the year 1861, according to all probability, the bulk of this sum will have to be carried to the wrong side of the deficit account. The home creditor has already received such scurvy usage at the hands of successive Austrian Chancellors of the Exchequer, that unless the most violent pressure be employed there is an end of voluntary loans. An Austrian subject is about the last man who will look at Austrian securities.

The most extreme discontent prevails throughout the various provinces of the Austrian Empire, and Hungary, according to report, is stated to be on the eve of insurrection. The leading Hungarian patriots of 1848-49 are in Italy, and in direct communication with Garibaldi.

On the other hand, the relations between the cabinets of Vienna and St. Petersburgh are becoming every day more friendly. A meeting is to take place at Warsaw between the Russian and Austrian Emperors and the Prince Regent of Prussia, with the object of organising the defence “of social order, and monarchical interests.’ Prince Gortschakoff has informed the Due de Montebello, that the Emperor Alexander considers “that the alliance between France and Sardinia encourages the propagation of doctrines contributing a permanent danger to the political equilibrium, and the stability of thrones.” The sentence is not a lively one; but his meaning is plain enough. The rulers of Russia and of Northern Germany see, or think they see, danger to themselves from this Italian movement; and as far as they dare will assist in putting it down. A generation, however, must pass by before Russia will have repaired the damages she endured in the Crimean War. A desire, moreover, to renew friendly relations with Austria may exist amongst Russian statesmen: it certainly does not exist amongst the Russian people. According to the most trustworthy accounts, the exasperation in Russia against Austria is still as rife as it was at the conclusion of the Crimean war. In Northern Germany, the Prince Regent of Prussia will find himself compelled by the obvious necessities of his political position to pay a certain amount of deference to the sympathies and opinions of this country, and these are all on the side of Italian Independence.

Here, then, is a list of perplexities for the year 1861; the solution of them all depending upon the turn affairs may take in Italy. It was stated in London, last week, and upon authority of a trustworthy character, that the Austrian Government was prepared to take the step of selling Venetia for a sum which would liberate the Empire from its pecuniary embarrassment. Francis Joseph would then be in a position to deal with his discontented Hungarian subjects in a manner more satisfactory to his imperial spirit. This intelligence, however, is too good. The spontaneous flight of the Pope from Rome, and the sale of Venetia to the Italians, would constitute such a solution of the Italian question as one rather desires than expects to see.

Justice, however, is not done to Garibaldi. As long as his every step is successful, his “admirers”—as they call themselves—are ready enough to swing incense-pots before him, and to scatter flowers in his path. Would they be still true to him if a period of adversity should arrive? It was but a short while back that, in the journals even of our own country, this great patriot was spoken of as a mere “Filibuster”—a leader of the same stamp as Nicaraguan Walker. He was sneered at when he was fighting his way from post to post on the spurs of the Alps, and yet, with inferior and undisciplined forces, he contrived to keep a division of the Austrian army in check, and menace the right flank of the whole force. After the peace of Villafranca, and when it came to light that Cavour had really bargained away a part of Italy to the French Emperor, Garibaldi’s indignation was not to be repressed. Again he was blamed, but just as the guerilla warfare, which he had so ably conducted, was an expression of what the Italian people could do in war against their oppressors, so was this uncontrolled and unmeasured protest of the great Italian patriot against the partition of the country a true expression of Italian feeling. There was a thrill of indignation throughout the Peninsula, because it was felt that the province paid away over the counter to France was gone for ever. Revolutions cannot exercise any more influence over the destinies of the Savoyards. They are now Frenchmen for an historic period. Garibaldi again acts under the influence of what prudent people call a perfect “craze” against the Pope. Again, on this point, he exactly represents the opinions and feelings of every educated Italian from Machiavelli down to our own time. When the Roman Empire was broken up, a something still more glorious would have grown up on its ruins from the union of barbaric strength and Roman civilisation, but for that unfortunate bequest of the Countess Matilda’s. The fact that the same person should be the vice-gerent of the Almighty upon earth, and at the same time a petty Italian prince, is the true explanation of the miseries of Italy for many a century. It is on account of the intestine divisions caused by the presence of that great theocratic functionary, that Italy has been, in turn, the spoil of the Frenchman, the Spaniard, the German. Even Lord Derby could see that. “There,” said he, pointing to the Vatican, “there is the plague-spot.” Of course the names of a few patriotic Popes are to be found upon the list, but the system has ever been stronger than the individual.

For many a century Italy has expiated in sackcloth and ashes the dominion of the priests in her provinces and cities. If the heart of the old canker be left, it will be sure to spread again. Garibaldi feels and knows this in common with every considerable thinker amongst his countrymen. Under ordinary circumstances, any half-ruined old city, with a desert round it, would combine all the qualifications contemplated by Louis Napoleon as necessary for a Papal residence. But if the Pope is to remain at Rome, or in Italy at all, the Italians say that he must entirely divest himself of the character of a temporal Prince, and give himself up, as his followers and ministers must give themselves up, to prayer and devout meditation. Even so, the presence of a Pope in Italy for years to come would be a danger of the most formidable kind. Why should France interfere to force a form of government upon the Romans against their will? Even granting that Antonelli’s rule had been as good as it has in reality been foul and tyrannical, why should this be? Louis Napoleon rests his own claim to sovereignty upon the suffrages of the people. Why force a Prince upon the Romans at the bayonet’s point? No one who has lived long enough amongst the Romans to know the real meaning of their sufferings—the intolerable shame and disgrace which they have been obliged to endure in silence—would dare to look his fellow-creatures in the face and speak a word in defence of such a system. Garibaldi, in his desire to purge Rome of priestly government, it cannot be too often said, represents the feelings of his countrymen in the highest degree.

The wise people of the earth are blaming him now, just as they blamed him when he defended Rome against the French, and kept them for so long a time at bay—just as they blamed him when, with a few score men at his back, he threw himself in the way of that huge military machine, the Austrian army—just as they blamed him when, with only so many men to back him as could be contained in a small steamer, he landed on the Sicilian coast, and conquered a kingdom. The history of this man’s life is a history of miracles. If he should succeed in turning the Pope out of Rome, by hook or by crook, it would not be at all more surprising than half-a-dozen other things which he has accomplished in the course of his career. Even with regard to the attack upon Venetia, which may or may not take place, but concerning which such dismal prognostications have been uttered, is it so very clear that Austria, with a bankrupt exchequer—with her discontented provinces—with Hungary once more upon the eve of insurrection—with the dubious alliance of exhausted and exasperated Russia to back her in her need—would be able to carry on a successful war against 26,000,000 or 28,000,000 of people fighting for the independence of their country, and for all that makes life worth having, and supported by the sympathies of Europe?

The Sardinian army seems to have acted in a very efficient manner wherever it has been called upon to serve. During the campaigns of the First Empire, Napoleon Bonaparte always reckoned his Italian regiments as amongst his best. Is it then so very obvious that Garibaldi is in the wrong this time when he is resolved to take Time by the forelock, and strive for the perfect liberation of Italy while the enthusiasm of the people is at its height? It may be so; but Joseph Garibaldi has come out the victor from many a hopeless contest, and has often proved himself to have been in the right when many very wise people said he was very much in the wrong.


In the last generation, that history was reckoned a satisfactory one which contained a notice of the chief political events in which a nation had been engaged—of its triumphs by flood and field—of its alliances, of the eloquence of its statesmen, of the skill of its diplomatic agents. History disdained to look lower than to the doings of Kings, Generals, and Ambassadors. How the millions of whom a nation is really composed lived, and how they earned the means of living—what kind of houses they inhabited—what were their forms of recreation and amusement—were matters of too slight importance to occupy the serious attention of any gentleman who addressed himself deliberately to that most important task of writing the history of his country. Then we had a race of Economists, who considered human affairs from a scientific point of view. The laws, for example, which regulated the relations between capital and labour—the laws which presided over the increase and decrease of the population of a country—were all rigidly investigated, and enunciated in due logical form. Such learning is of great value. Let us not be ungrateful to the memory of such men as Adam Smith and Ricardo—or to the present fame of John Stuart Mill. All attempts at social improvement which do not rest upon the basis of absolute truth must, pro tanto, result in failure in so far as they depart from the laws in which it is expressed. Men in our day—and especially in our country—are endeavouring to throw the quoit a few paces further. Given the laws of political economy as a rational point of departure, is it not possible to push what is called Social Science to a still higher point, and by association, by influence, by example, to develop the good and to repress the bad tendencies of human society? The laws of political economy must still prevail, but they would then operate upon a different state of facts. These laws have been as potential in the Spanish Peninsula, or in the Pontifical States, as in our own manufacturing districts, or in the Scottish Lowlands. The two societies first named have received their punishment for setting these immutable canons at defiance—the two last have thriven, because they have acted in obedience to the laws which regulate the production, the accumulation, and the distribution of wealth. A regard to these will prepare the way for a higher development, because in proportion as a society becomes more wealthy, it will become more intelligent and self-conscious—more quick to discern and feel the presence of evil, and to provide apt remedies for its removal. The Economist would overstep his legitimate functions—it would perhaps be more decorous to say, would engage in other pursuits—if he attempted to deal with drunkenness, with crime, with education. There comes, however, a period in the history of a nation in which it is imperatively called upon to consider such questions, if it would not go back, or at least remain stationary in the path of progress. In all such matters the first point is to secure what medical men would call a correct diagnosis; or, in other words, an accurate notion of the social evils which exist in any human society. When the evil is known and appreciated we may safely rely upon the irrepressible tendency in human nature to struggle onwards from a worse to a better state of things. The mere fact of investigation is a proof that in this respect—the Schoolmaster is abroad.

We may fairly cite, as examples of the higher tone which prevails amongst modern historians, the “Pictorial History of England,” by Charles Knight, and the “History of the Thirty Years’ Peace,” by Harriet Martineau. In these two works the attempt of the writers has been to write the history of a people—not merely of a government, and they will remain, for this reason, most valuable contributions to the permanent literature of England. Better, however, than any formal history for the purposes we are now considering, and of higher influence, are the additions to our self-knowledge which are poured in upon us from twenty-four hours to twenty-four hours by the daily press. A file of the “Times” for the last thirty years contains the biography of the nation for the last thirty years. In this we find, not only what our sovereigns and their ministers—what our statesmen and diplomatists—what our generals and admirals have been about, but the social history of the nation as well. There is not a crime of which we are not here presented with a record—not a suggestion for social improvement which has not here found its exponent. Mr. Cobden has said, and truly said, that it is far better for an Englishman to read his copy of the “Times” daily, with attention, than to give himself up to the study of Thucydides. The time has come when we should seek to turn this accumulated knowledge into account.

Now, Last Week, there was a great meeting of the Social Congress Society at Glasgow. The chair was occupied, as of right, by Henry Lord Brougham. The English nation owes a debt of profound gratitude and veneration to this extraordinary man, who now, in his eighty-second year, is labouring steadily and efficiently in the cause which he advocated in evil days—now sixty years ago. When the day comes—may it be a distant one!—when Henry Brougham is summoned away from amongst us, let it never be forgotten that, at a period when to advocate such a doctrine was almost supposed to savour of treason and sedition, Brougham was the steady advocate for the Education of the People! Upon this point he would not listen to suggestions of half-measures or compromise. “Let there be light,” was the first command breathed by the Deity over the chaotic mass which was destined to be the theatre on which the human race were to play their part. There was to be light for all—not for a few. Kings were not to have midday to themselves,—the great ones of the earth the dawning and the twilight,—whilst the great mass of mankind, the millions of the earth, were to hew their wood and draw their water when the glorious sun had sunk below the horizon, and to delve and dig and labour in the dark. It is not enough that another man sees for me. I must see for myself. But what is physical by the side of intellectual darkness? Blind John Milton was still the foremost man of his day. Henry Brougham—we speak of him by his name as he was known in the heyday of his life, and the full vigour of his manhood—treated with scorn the notion, that in proportion as you educated a people they became unmanageable. What do we hear now of Nottingham frame-breakers, and rick-burners, and Captain Swing? The Schoolmaster has taught these poor people better things. The last symptom of the disease—and the disease is ignorance—which has come before us of late, has been in the illegal association of workmen to prevent their fellows, by violence and intimidation, from taking their labour to market upon their own terms. The Schoolmaster has work before him still, and will do more to purge the minds of the labouring classes from this foul error than all that can be accomplished by the magistrate and the judge. These can only vindicate the law when it is broken—the Schoolmaster will root out from the minds of the people all desire to break it. Education is the great safety-valve and necessity of our time, now that the masses are pressing for a share in the political government of the country, and will not much longer be denied.

The great feature of the meeting of last week, over which Lord Brougham presided, was the delivery, by Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, of an address, and as might well have been expected from the position he has so long occupied, the point at which Sir James Shuttleworth chiefly laboured was to give a fair statement of the present position of the country with regard to education. In Great Britain we are now a population of 22,000,000. One in eight ought to be at school for full time or half time till the age of 13. Deduct a fourth part as being children belonging to parents willing and able to educate them at their own cost, and 50,000 pauper children educated in workhouses, and we have still to secure a sound elementary education for 2,000,000 children. The local cost of giving this education in the year 1859 was in Great Britain 1l. 7s. 1½d., or at the rate of 6¾d. per week for 48 weeks in the year. The sum derived from subscriptions, endowments, and school pence was as follows:

The Government pays
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Subscribed by middle and upper class
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Working men—school pence
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Sir J. Shuttleworth’s statement was to the effect that, upon a very meagre estimate of the sum required to give a sound elementary education to those 2,000,000 children, at least another 1,000,000l. per annum would be required. He does not seem to take the Ragged Schools into account.

Of course, one of the great difficulties with which we have to contend is the tendency amongst the lower classes to remove their children from school as soon as they are of an age to contribute at all to their own support, and the support of the family. The only remedies we see just now for this evil are, that school hours should be so arranged as to give opportunities to these little labourers to devote a certain portion of their time to education. If they can learn to read with tolerable ease, and to write to a certain extent, they will at any rate have acquired something, and the rest must be left—and may with perfect confidence be left—to themselves. At any rate, all that the State and the community can do will have been done. A second remedy is, that every person who, by his station or position, can exercise influence over others, should reckon it his duty to press upon them the necessity of educating their children according to their degree, and help them in their efforts to do so. It is calculated that a criminal, beginning as a young pickpocket and ending as a convict of mature age at Portland or elsewhere, costs his country 300l. for his mere maintenance, independently of the damage he may have inflicted upon society in the course of his vicious career.