ITALY ANI) HER ADVISERS.
IF Venetia is ceded to Italy without conditions, we trust that in spite of the national exasperation, or even of a cry for his own abdication, Victor Emanuel will make peace. If it is not so ceded, then it is his duty, as i. is in either case his right, to continue the war. The tone of the Continental press and of many Continental Governments towards Italy may be considered simply impertinent, she having exactly the same right to declare herself content or dissatisfied with the terms offered for her acceptance as Prussia, or France, or Austria herself would have, to make peace or go on fighting without reference to, any policy but her own. But sober Italians may well question whether the possession of the Italian Tyrol is worth the tremendous risks to Italy and to Europe involved in continued war. With the Quadrilateral in the halide of Italians the military position is not snffieiently dangerous to make peace impossible, for though the Austrian dominions will stretch to the Lake of Garda, she cannot invade Venetia from that side without exposing herself to the risk's the Italians ran when they last crossed the. mieeio. Heavy garrisons in the fortresses could at any time cut invaders off' from Austria, while the national army encountered them in front. As territory the district is not rich, the inhabitants have been annexed to Austria for many hundred years, and though they speak Italian they are not over zealous for the Italian any more than for the Austrian cause. Their principal sentiment seems to be dislike of requisitions. Istria, even if obtained, would be a perpetual source of danger, for geography counts for something even in these days of nation- alities, and Germany would never rest till she had regained her natural outlet into the Mediterranean. Above all it is not. certain that Italy would gain either Istria or the Tyrol.. The war has revealed defects in her organization which ought to be remedied before, she attempts to stake her existence again upon a cast. The fleet, it is clear, is not so equipped as to render victory certain by sea, nor can Austria be seriously injured by an attack on her coast. Lissa. proved to the world and to Italy that Italian sailors can die, and men who refuse succour rather than quit their ships, who • can fire steadily from the rigging with the hull sinking below them, who can ga down in harness with " Viva Italia!" on their lips, need only organization for their country to become- a naval power. The army, again, is certain that it can meet German infantry hand to hand with equal chance of victory, and that was the only doubt which needed to be resolved. All the rest is organization, and that of the Italian army is obviously still imperfect, still needs the solidity and the- smoothness of movement which only time can bestow. Prussia saw Jena and is nevertheless the foremost military power, and has conquered with men who never saw a campaign an army which from 1848 has been incessantly on service. A victory won against Austria would no doubt indefinitely improve Italian morale, but a great defeat might dissolve the army or provoke a revolution, during which every element of disorder would once more come to the top, and defeat is at least as possi- ble as victory. These are not days for Mazzinian republics, and Italy, if she can but secure her grand object, the final expulsion of the foreigner, may well husband her strength to resist the- dangerous advances of her friend.. The Tyrol is not worth Sardinia, or even an acknowledged collapse of the national treasury, and one or the other result, might follow a very pro- tracted war. There is little to hope from Prussia, for Prussia knows herself powerful enough to renew the contest alone, and nations are never disinterested ; and less to hope from France, except at a price which would be heavier than even peaee- upon the terms defined in the Prussian treaty. But what are those terms ? Outwardly they include the- cession of Venetia without conditions, and if this be their real intention, Italy can make peace in the full conviction that though unfortunate herself she has yet materially aided the- triumph, of her ally, and earned a clear right to her share in the spoils of the campaign. The wings always- share in the booty, though it has been the centre by which the victory has been achieved. She has detached. from Austria its one army of reserve, an. army which might have turned the day, and with it the fate of Europe, at the battle of Sadowa. But if she is, as is now reported, to pay for the Quadrilateral, if all she wins- by her sacrifices is a right to permit the Venetians at their discretion to re-eater their old home, if she is to owe her- deliverance not to her own strength but to a political intrigue, during which Venetia is thrown with a curse contemptuously at her head, then the terrible risks involved in war would be- worth incurring. It is her freedom she has to win, and not the - Tyrol. Those English writers who, though friendly enough, so anxiously beg her to be submissive, forget that the motive of their advice is the very belief which now it is the necessity of Italy to dispel. She will never be trusted as a State till the world has seen that she can fight alone. They tell her, and we imagine truly, that Prussia, having acquired all she - needs, will not take up the sword again to do battle for her- ally, that Napoleon is a self-seeking friend, that the rise of the nationalities is still, as it has been almost any time these. eighteen years, only a political possibility. Italy will be- " alone," and in. that word they think they pronounce her doom in war. Their very advice shows that they believe the new kingdom very weak, still in need of protection, still only a grand dependency either of Prussia or France. That is the- very position in which it is impossible for Italy to remain, and which, if she is content to buy the Quadrilateral or take Venetia without direct negotiation with Austria, shb will occupy, not only in the eyes of the, world, but it may be in her own. No new nation could after such• a concession retain the self-respect which is the first. datum of suc- cessful national action. It is very sensible of. eourse not to make too much of what is called " humiliation,' not
to give way to temper, not to lose the substance in grasp- ing the shadow, not in short to do anything forbidden in proper copybooks. Only which is substance and which is shadow—freedom or ease, honour or estate, self-respect or fatness A nation with a history can sometimes afford to
fail, to take a secondary place, to be kept in the background, to be patronized, as we were, for instance, by the French during the Crimean war, without any injury beyond a little heartburning. We lost no national energy and not half so much national character as the middle classes believed, the Governments of Europe seeing clearly enough that we came out of battle stronger than we went in, that the nation, so far from being exhausted, had but just warmed to its work, and was almost as much disappointed as Italy with the prospect of peace. But Italy is not an old nation, has not been ren- dered sedate by a history of triumphs. She is a new State, with an army which under its present formation has never seen a campaign, and she needs in her provinces, as in her regiments, the binding cement of victory. There is not one among all those who advise her to submit who will not re- spect her the more for refusing her submission, not one but will doubt if she yields whether a telegram from the Tuileries is not still her final law. One great battle won would secure her freedom alike from Austria and Napoleon, and where is the proof that the battle must be lost ? "Italy is alone," but Italy has four millions more people than Prussia when she began this contest, eight more than ourselves when we last encountered Europe, an army quite as large as the Prussian, a people as homogeneous and far more enthusiastic. Her troops have seen as much service at all events as the majority of Prussians, and though she has not the needle gun, neither has her opponent. Her finances are in bad order, chiefly from discreditable mis- management, but she is far from the point at which war stops from the simple inability of a State to obtain the need- ful means of lighting.
But then the national character is inferior ? Precisely; there we come to the secret thought of those who recommend submission. They do not believe in their hearts that an Italian army is equal to an army of Frenchmen, or Germans, or even of the motley races whom the Hapsburgs, by incessant use of the stick, drive together under their banner. They think that something in the national character, some latent weakness, or softness, or want of élan makes the people who- conquered the world with the short sword unable to win with the rifle, that the soldiers who faced Frenchmen in some in '48, and Rus- sians on the Tchernaya in 1855, and Austrians at Magenta in 1800, must run from beaten troops in 1866, that the twee which in one generation produced Eugene of Savoy, in another Napoleon, and in this Garibaldi, cannot again yield a General of the first class. Well, it may all be true, only its truth is precisely the one thing which Italy, knowing its false- hood, is bound to disprove, the one idea to dissipate which a war under her present circumstances is more than justifiable. It is her nationality which is at stake, for in the long run nothing survives a genuine and universal contempt. If Italy is to be, a necessitate rel, from insurable want of manliness, always a dependency of Prussia or prefecture of France, then of course she must take what her masters give her, and go on, like the servants in Evangelical story books, " contented with what she receives, even if not nicely cooked," and happy that she is not as others, say, as her ancient rival Greece, where Consuls give Ministers advice which they must accept or resign, or as Turkey, where a knot of Ambassadors order the Sovereign to mortgage his Crown lands. Only it is rather too impudent to assert that a nation of twenty-three millions ought to like that position, to protest against her right to amend it if she can, to call• her "rash," and " ungrateful," and Jacobinical because, with a greatness which, if it happened not to be inconvenient to business, we should be the first to admire, she will accept no terms which do not acknowledge her claim to be an inde- pendent State. The Tyrol- is not worth the risk, or even the suffering, to be incurred in its reconquest, but nationality is, is worth- five years of war, a doubled debt, an exhausting taxation, a decimated people, worth all a nation can stiffer even to the death*she incurs if she voluntarily surrenders her right to settle her own terms of peace. If all that is extreme, why are there nations, or why do we respect men who endure all rather than succumb to an invader? Nothing would be gone from them if they succumbed except freedom, and dignity, and the self-respect which is the foundation of all true great- ness, all, vigona of national life. Italy will give up nothing but those' if she consents to-pay for the Quadrilateral, but they
seem, to us at least, who were not eager to wage a great war in order to make people eat opium, worth the highest price those who counsel peace have yet ventured to demand. If there is a cause which justifies war it is the cause of independence, and Italy, with her frontier fixed by Prussia and her army halting at the command of France, would not be in any true sense of the word an independent State.