21 NOVEMBER 1914, Page 28


AN ITALIAN MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS.' IN this collection of speeches by Signor Tommaso Tittoni, which is dedicated to Mr. Balfour, we see an Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs trying to make out the best possible case for the Triple Alliance, sometimes in the face of desperate circumstances. Signor Tittoni was Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1903 to 1909. His term of office thus included the disconcerting riots at Innsbruck, with their consequent demonstrations elsewhere of Italian Irredentism, and the awkward blow which Austria dealt to all that Signor Tittoni had said about the advantages of the Triple Alliance when she tore up the Berlin Treaty, flouted the public law of Europe, and annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina. In other words, Signor Tittoni, in the interests of the Triple Alliance, ably damped down the troublesome emotion of his countrymen in 1903 about the treatment of Italians in Austria, only to be rewarded by being ignored and taken utterly by surprise when Austria brought off her famous coup in 1908. Italy could not leave the Triple Alliance on the spur of the moment in 1908, and so we find Signor Tittoni, in a long speech, confessing to the pain he felt while leading up to the conclusion, worthy of Pangloss, that the Bosnia- Herzegovina affair made no difference after all, and that the Triple Alliance was undamaged. But it is evident that the lesson of what really did happen sank deep into the Italian mind, and when in 1914 Germany and Austria once more acted in concert without consulting their partner in the Triple Alliance it was too much for Italy. She absolutely refused to join in a wild aggressive war in the name of a Treaty of Alliance which Signor Tittoni, and other Foreign Ministers, had for years been explaining was simply and solely an instrument of peace. Signor Tittoni's speeches are largely, indeed, a record of hopes and beliefs which have been frustrated and disproved. The publication of these speeches now for English reading suggests two questions. Does Signor Tittoni wish Englishmen to know that the utter failure of the Triple Alliance to keep the peace was not in any • Italy's Foreign and Colonial Policy. By Senator Tommaso Tittosi. Translated by Baron Bernardo Quaranta di San Semitic. London: Smith, Elder, and Co. [7.. ed. net.]

way due to Italy P If so, we shall all most gladly absolve Italy of even a fractional degree of guilt. Or does he—which seems possible, since he adds no retractation to his speeches—still believe in the maintenance of the Triple Alliance simul- taneously with friendship with Britain, France, and Russia?

This book, we do not forget, had been translated into English before the present war began or was even thought of, but no doubt at the last moment some reservation as to the future of the Triple Alliance could have been added if Signor Tittoni bad wished for it. There is no reason to assume, then, that his political motto, which appears over and over again in these speeches, does not remain the same—" Fidelity to the Triple Alliance, Friendship for France, Friendship for England." If be holds to his belief, however, we fear that he is striving for what is not possible. Even if Germany should not be able to visit her anger on Italy some day, the mistrust and rivalry between Italy and Austria could never again be glossed over and explained away as it is in these speeches. The future is very difficult, but Italians may be sure that, come what may, the English friendship which Signor Tittoni desiderated will always be theirs.

Signor Tittoni, as is well known in London, where he was for some time Italian Ambassador, and as is well known in France, where he is Ambassador now, is a man of wide reading and nice tastes. In his speeches he draws upon such various English writers as Macaulay, De Quincey, and Herbert Spencer. Ilia speeches have been turned into English—of a rather heavy sort, as though the translator had never read anything but Blue Books and political journalism—by Baron Bernardo Quaranta di San Severino, and we are also given a translation of a preface which Signor Maggiorino Ferraris,

chief editor of La Nuova .dutologia, wrote for the Italian edition of 1912. It would seem, if Signcr Ferraris is right, that all a man's philosophy is required for the post of Minister

for Foreign Affairs in Italy. He says :—

"To prevent any harmful interruption of continuity in foreign politics is a problem of much greater difficulty in Italy than else- where. Foreign affairs demand in a people a high sense of individual abnegation and discipline of thought and of spirit, which aro the qualities most wanting in southern countries, where the people are impulsive and sentimentalists. This is precisely what often embitters the life of a Foreign Affairs Minister in Italy, and makes his task most arduous. Oar people keenly resent even the mere suggestion of a possible offence to the interests of their country, while they give way and easily lot themselves be influenced collectively by their generous and warmhearted nature. It is this constant conflict between sentiment and interest which often weakens the hand of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and makes his action uncertain, doubtful, and less effective We have had an example of this in the Russo-Japanese War. Italy had generously sacrificed her idealistic point of view in the Transvaal conflict, holding fast to the English nation and giving her, in the hour of her peril and misfortune, fresh proof of the traditional sympathies which our people feel for the British. When the war between Russia and Japan broke out, on the contrary, sentiment conquered and went over entirely to the Japanese nation, of which we all admire the valour and wonderful progress. But our interests were and are with Russia, as is shown by the actual events in Tripoli. In such circumstances, a Minister for Foreign Affairs who has a clear sense of his duties and of his responsibilities with regard to the defence of the national interests, must know how to resist the popular currents, which at times seem to carry everything before thorn in their impetuosity. Such was the noble attitude of the Hon. Tittoni" There were five subjects on which Signor Tittoni bestowed particular attention : the problem of emigration, Italian Somaliland, the future of Tripoli, Macedonia and the Balkan question generally, and the relations of Italy with Austria. The protection of Italians abroad—as, for instance, in the Argentine, which country owes much to their industry and intelligence—has long been an important matter for the Italian Government. Signor Tittoni, in either encouraging or discouraging emigration, distinguished between the populous industrial districts and thinly populated districts. In the one case he regarded emigration as a useful outlet for the super- abundant population ; in the other he maintained that the few people should be kept on the land and increased in numbers through an improvement of the economic conditions by benevolent State action. Somaliland was not treated very seriously by Italy, after the first disappointments caused by that barren and turbulent land, until Signor Tittoni redeemed the port of Benadir from the Sultan of Zanzibar, dissolved the Chartered Company, made the occupation of the interior rather more effective, and favourably rearranged the frontier with Abyssinia. No doubt it was quite time that the Chartered Company should be abolished, as it had willingly or ignorantly tolerated slavery; but we do not suppose from what Signor Tittoni said that even now slavery is at an end. Speaking in 1904, Signor Tittoni said :— "Semething evidently has been accomplished, because the slave traffic from the sea can be said to have completely disappeared in the Benadir. Naturally, one cannot affirm that no canoe escapes the vigilance of the authorities, but it can safely be declared that this slave traffic is reduced simply to a contraband practice. Another scandalous fact, which came to light through the inquiry, has also ceased to exist—that is to say, the sale of slaves in the markets, on which sale, without the Company's knowledge, a fiscal tax was levied. In the stations along the coast we may say there is• no slavery beyond a domestic one, and oven the latter has been rendered less onerous and the slave is tied to the land without his master's having the right of making an article of commerce out of him. The slave is obliged to pay to his master a given sum daily. Now, as in this practice there was a real exploitation, by means of a Decree from tho Governor of the colony, the daily sum to be paid to the master has been reduced to about eight centimes (four besas), and this provision is generally respected. In this way domestic slavery will gradually disappear, also, because along the coast there is no great financial profit in holding slaves. In the &Wrier, on the contrary, it is difficult to eradicate this evil. In the stations of the coast it has been easy to make suitable provision, because we occupy these stations, and although they are closed for some months of the year, still we can always keep them under sur- veillance. In the interior, instead, our dominion is not effective, but purely nominal ; we cannot, therefore, give dispositions when we have not the means of coercion necessary to enforce them."

As for Tripoli, Signor Tittoni continually complained, quite justly we are convinced, of the treatment of Italian com- mercial interests and Italian nationals by the Turks; but he admitted that there must be no occupation of the country by Italy "at present "—a phrase which shows that the old idea of an occupation was never absent from the minds of those at the Consulta. Meanwhile what was called "economic penetra- tion " went on industriously, and was to have its inevitable conclusion after Signor Tittoni had left office.

In 1906 Signor Tittoni declared that if ever the status quo in the Balkans could not be maintained, the solution which Italy and Austria would together propose would be "the political autonomy of the Balkan Peninsula upon the principle of nationality." He recommended this as " a truly positive

programme," and reprobated those who urged an arrangement with Austria for partitioning some of the Balkan territories.

Such action, he said, would be in violation of the Treaty of Berlin, would create an evil precedent, and " would mar in one word all our policy in the East." When the positive pro- gramme had been positively forgotten by Austria, and Italian policy in the East had been marred not only in one word but in one act—Germany, of course, aiding and abetting Austria— Signor Tittoni remarked that" one can hardly understand this attitude of Austria." But he ended his speech by Raying :

" Must the recent events change our attitude towards our Allies . . . P I do not think so." Italy may fairly say that she kept in the Triple Alliance till she was thrown out of it by the adoption of a policy by her colleagues in regard to which

she was not only never consulted, but which was the negation of the old policy of Peace by Pact.