TOPICS OF THE DAY.
THE PEACE, ITS PURPOSE, AND PROSPECTS.
CANNING boasted that in South America England had called for a new world to redress the balance of the old : Napoleon the Third seems to challenge the right of saying with greater truth that he has called forth a new Confederacy in the South to re- dress the balance of the older one further North.
Many Liberals in this country raise an outcry against the peace and its terms. One exceedingly well-informed journal almost echoes the cry that Italy has been " sold." Others ex- claim that the " conspiracy " against Austria has succeeded by a conspiracy, to which Austria is a party, against the liberties of Europe ; Italy being only one of the steps by which a great potentate is to mount to a continental throne. We confess that we are quite unable to keep pace with a style of criticism which runs ahead of any of the facts upon which a sound judgment must be formed. We will, therefore, only examine some of the broadest facts which are already ascertained, in order to justify the firm hope which we still entertain for the future of Italy.
The Emperor Napoleon is assailed for making peace before the 'proper time. This reproach comes strangely from those who have -urged our country to take no part in the recent conflict. What right have we to condemn the terms of peace when we have had no share in earning the victory ? We gave the Italians "sym- pathy " in words, and stopped there. We actually urged upon the French Emperor the claims of Italy,—until he seemed willing
— to take them up in a practical manner. At that moment, if we mistrusted any interference with the status quo, we ought to have made some sincere, straightforward, and practical objection ; but we only temporized officially, and popularly only sneered. At first we objected to any encroachment upon Austria, or even to any peremptory summons ; then we agreed to the Congress, but officially promised Austria our support in a manner which made her reckon upon our active good will ; possibly, rendered over confident by the air of support, she committed herself to a sum- mary aggression upon Piedmont, and then we officially repudiated her proceedings and left her to take the consequences alone. We have therefore no ground to stand upon as respects Italy, or France, or Austria ; we cannot claim to have any voice in the matter. Technically we are shut out of court by our own neglect- ing to put in an appearance at any stage when it was open to us to do so.
Morally, we may be answered, the Emperor Napoleon was bound to go on further. But why ? Was France pledged to Italy by repeated expressions of sympathy, as we were ? By no means. Napoleon had expressed his sympathy with the Italians, but always in much more measured terms; and if he has given to that sympathy any practical effect, he has gone far beyond us, though we profess always to judge rather by deeds than words. Certainly we arc the last who have the right to measure the amount of assistance which he gave as a free offering. Before the 7th of this month, the Emperor Napoleon had already sacri- ficed a great number of gallant and faithful soldiers. We have the numbers, but for various reasons we hesitate to state them ; and at the present moment it will be enough to note what is before the world, that the sacrifice of life was immense. The sacrifice of means has been reckoned at fifty millions sterling. The pro- gress was commensurate. Lombardy had been wrenched from Austria, and the remainder of her Italian possessions was threatened ; the neutral Powers were urging mediation ; and a point had been attained at which it seemed possible to recommence the process of freeing Italy and elevating her to the scale of other nations in Europe by peaceful means. Balancing his sacrifices on the one hand, against the renewed prospects of peaceful endeavour on the other side, the Emperor Napoleon invited the Austrian Emperor to end the war and to reopen the Italian account on a new footing. Again we say, that it does not lie in the mouth of Englishmen to pretend that the Emperor Napoleon has not sacri- ficed enough,—not wasted enough of French blood and treasure, nor attained enough benefit for Italy. Before we endeavour, even at this early stage, to form a species of rough estimate of the benefit attained for Italy, let us note some rather remarkable circumstances characterizing the new turn which the treatment of the peninsula has taken. There was one consideration which probably rendered Austria more ready to grant a peace to the Emperor alone than she would have been if the neutral Powers had appeared in the discussion. None of the other three Powers of Europe are Roman Catholic : Russia represents the Greek Church ; Prussia rules over a mixed popu- lation, but the Lutheran element is decidedly in the ascendant; England is resolutely and positively Protestant. If Francis Joseph has relinquished an Italian province, and a power of dic- tation obtained by encroachment but long maintained, ho has still made no concession which hands over the guardianship of Italy to any Protestant authority. The conditions which may have been thought favourable by an Austrian Emperor will probably be regretted by many statesmen in the North and West of Europe ; but for our own part we scarcely share in such regret. If there is to be any improvement in the Liberal direction, religious as well as political, for the Italians, it is not, we conceive, to be brought about by the sudden introduction of any Protestant formulary. There are some grounds for doubting whether the genius of Pro- testantism as it has been developed in the North and West of Europe is adapted to the inborn genius of Southern Italy ; while, on the other hand, the Italians themselves, without any Lutheran revolt, by the simple principle of dividing temporal and spiritual jurisdiction, have actually commenced a reform which tends to enlarge andliberalize the Christian Church in Italy without those civil fends, or those certain reactions, which an ordinary Protestant agitation must have provoked. But let us, so far as we can from the information before us, see what it is the Emperor Napoleon has actually obtained for Italy from her quondam master. The system as it is sketched out differs from that adumbrated in D'Azeglio's Note ; but we believe it differs less from that sketch than it does from the system hitherto existing. In the first place, the Stranger, although not absolutely exiled from the peninsula, is virtually excluded from it as a Power, and reappears only as a provincial authority, taking his place as one amongst many members of a confederacy. In the second place, that State in Italy which has been most con- spicuous as representing Italian opinion, constitutional govern- ment, and patriotic independence, is strengthened by the acqui- sition of a populous and wealthy province. Sardinia henceforward is nearly twice as powerful as she was before, having not two but three great continental provinces under her &own, besides Savoy and the island of Sardinia ; and the union of these provinces gives to each of them a decided accession of strength. In the third place, the Confederacy affords a legitimate, appropriate, and suf- ficient ground whereon the statesmanship of the whole peninsula can meet to discuss the interests and develop the power of " Italy." It is a platform, as our American friends would say, which offers new ground for the Italian patriot. Amongst many objects of the Italian reformers has been some plan to swamp the temporal power of the Pope, and yet to retain his titular and moral dignity. The states of Rome are obviously, swamped in the Confederacy, but the dignity of the Pope is pre- served, nay, promoted by making him Honorary President. The present Pope and his most probable successor have both shown themselves most ready to adopt the idea and the labour of re- forms, could they be provided with a safe and legitimate ground. The ground is made for them, with the assistance of Italian statesmanship for every good they can do, and a check from all Italy, should they deviate from the patriotic course. We have here merely marshalled facts which are before our readers : those facts are sufficient to show that the constitu- tional prospects of Italy, the opportunities of her statesmanship, the scope for united and patriotic action, are all increased in the immediate future as compared with the immediate past ; and it will be hard, indeed, if the nation which has produced a Poerio, a Capponi, a D'Azeglio, and a Cavour, should be unable to utilize the new machinery placed ready to the hand of its public men.