6 JULY 1867, Page 20


Tins is a book which at all times would have commanded atten- tion, but at this moment must especially attract interest. In it we have the intimate outpourings, in a confidential correspondence of nearly twenty years' duration, of one of the noblest and brightest natures Italy has produced in this century ; one who participated, as few did, in all the labours of his country's nineteenth-century struggles, having not merely wrought and fought for his beloved Italy, but actually governed her in the darkest hour of her gloom after the downfall of Novara. Massimo d'Azeglio's was, indeed, a rare nature, full of graces and of qualities. A nobleman of illus- trious pedigree and a gentleman of the purest water, he was at once a scholar, a poet, a painter, a musician, a soldier, a patriot, and a statesman. In all these walks of life he showed himself, and in all be shone, for Azeglio, amongst his other qualities, had the grace of true instinct. He never made a strained effort after something which was foreign to his own nature, and therefore there was in everything he did and everything he said a spon- taneousness which imparts the most winning charm. Above all, Azeglio was a gallant and chivalrous knight. No man could be a more thorough refutation of the vulgar error that wile and guile constitute the indelible essence of Italian genius. He was one who ever bore his heart on his sleeve, and throughout life he shrank with the instinctive horror of chivalry from everything underhand and double-faced. The whole setting of Azeglio's nature was of highmindedneas, and yet withal the romantic fibre in its com- position never ran riot over, but only refined and gave a tone to, the sterling qualities and manly vigour of his character. With all its versatility this never contracted the taint of finnikin dilettan- tism. In his widely varied pursuits, there was ever the reality of one who was no trifler, as there was the fascinating charm of one who knew no deceit. This latter quality adds especially to the interest of his letters. Azeglio wrote, as he lived, with an open heart, and as in this volume we have his correspondence with friends of exceptional intimacy in regard to politics, we here find precious matter in referenee to the recent and pending history of Italy. In this volume, containing exclu- sively Azeglio's letters to Eugene Rendu and his relative Doubet, we can follow him step by step through all the vicissitudes of his country between 1847 and 1865, and are supplied with his most unreserved thoughts on the capital problems thrown up in the course of its revolution. But what gives an especial interest at this moment to the publication is the very full explanation Azeglio gives of his views on the solution of the Roman question under • L'Italie de 1847 b 1865. Correspomianee Poldigue de Massimo d'Aseglio, aeoom• papa dune Introduction et dc Notes. Par thigbue ldu. Paris. 1867. the precise conditions in which it is now being played out. On this topic the correspondence is specially ample, for the point was one which Azeglio had much at heart, while he was particularly anxious to make his French friends understand his views on a subject which, in France, was so greatly misapprehended.

In 1847, when this correspondence opens, Massimo d'Azeglio was residing in Rome, where since several years he had been devoting himself to painting as a profession. But already at that period his character for patriotism was so thoroughly established that in 1844 he had received from the Secret Societies promoting national tendencies in Central Italy an offer of Grand Mastership.. This Azeglio absolutely refused, having all his life been averse to. secret agencies, and concentrated his effort on open propagandism by acknowledged writings and practical measures. Thus he published in the following year a pamphlet on the sad and abor- tive rising in the Romagna, which circulated like wild-fire through the Peninsula ; and this was followed by others from his pen, which, along with Gioberti's and Ballo's effusions, proved the direct stimulants to the great fermentations that burst out on the appearance of Pius IX. on the political stage. Living thus in Rome at that memorable period, Azeglio by counsel and personal influence was actively mixed up with the events of this Pope's earlier reign, and these letters are the most interesting records yet published of that stirring, hopeful, and yet disastrous season.

For Azeglio writes freely and fully, and the letters are here given without clippings. What can be more vivid than this account of Rome as it then was, in the first tide of revolutionary agitation in July, 1847. " My dear friend, we have just passed happily through a crisis that was not free from peril. The ill- advised notification from Cardinal Gizzi thanking in the Pope's name for the demonstrations, and requesting their cessation, together with the involved sentences indicative of a resolution not to satisfy certain wishes, and not to go beyond certain limits, had caused prodigious dissatisfaction. At first there was the talking and commenting and discussing, such as now are the rule in Rome ; then came gatherings and promenades in the Corso, and cries of ' Live Pius IX. alone ! Death to Lambruschini l' Then one night, after twelve o'clock, when already in bed, I was aroused by the news that the fourteen Rioni had resolved on a demonstration, and that a. number of persons, on the other hand, wished to prevent this by an Address to the Pope explaining the state of things ; and it was asked whether I would undertake to draw it up. I answered that the idea had already occurred to me, and that very evening I had spoken of it to a friend, but that in my position towards the Pope I deemed it improper to take the initiative ; as they, however, had come to the same resolution of themselves, I thought it likely to. stave off misfortunes, and I put myself at their service. I wrote the address, which was next day debated and sanctioned by the Circolo Romano, and at present has already about five thousand signatures. There were indeed some hesitations at first ; the Princes and Dukes especially did not evince much civism or courage. They now begin to take this decision, when others have effected the breach ; they might have been at the head, while now they are in tow. The address has had two good results ; it has, on the one hand, calmed the population, and on the other it has awed the Government, given a famous fright to the Retrogrades, who have become as soft as a glove. Last night, at last, the Edict for the National Guard was issued ; the cries began at the Caff Nuovo, with all the customary noises ; the mob called for lights. Lights and an illumination were improvized. During these days Cicervacchio was the first citizen of Rome, exhorting, harangu-

ing, and dividing himself into four to keep order I have had to break off the latter, for they have been to me again to com- pose the address, with the object of petitioning for the nomina- tion of Count Joseph Mastai to the command of the National Guard. So there is another issued ; I am metamorphosed into the public letter-writer."

It would not be amiss for the Princes and Dukes of Rome to take this letter to their heart. Things have once more come round to a point where leaders of one kind or another will become a matter of necessity to the population, and if those princes and dukes on the coming occasion are unable to screw up sufficient nerve to take a prominent position as such at the right moment, they will find matters going into other hands, out of which it will no longer be

possible to get them, when things are going faster than may be

desirable. In 1847 Azeglio, with his Piedmontese vigour of character, his position as a man of rank, and the combined chivalry

and moderation of his temperament, was precisely the man to exercise at once a stimulating and a regulating influence in Rome. His whole soul was in the national movement, and he cordially exerted himself so to shape the popular action as not to divide

the Pope from it, yet he never compromised weakly what was essential. In April, 1848, he writes, " If Pius IX. wish it, if he consents to be that which public opinion makes of him, then the Papacy will be definitively the directing force of the century. Should he decline, then I do not know what will happen. Provi- dence does not offer twice an opportunity like the present. The Pope has just answered the address by a kind of proclamation to the peoples of Italy, which has its grandeur, but in which the decisive points are evaded ;" and then, after quoting its final phrase, Azeglio adds the farsighted comment, " This is fine, but here begins the antagonism between the Head of the Church and the Italian Prince." It has been said that Azeglio's Catholic feelings made him in politics defer too much to the Pope. A more unfounded charge never was made. As a practical politician, Azeglio never overlooked the fact of the Papacy and its positive claims, but these letters stand now before the public as ample records of his undevi- ating conviction in the absolute impossibility of rendering the Pope's temporal power reconcileable with the requirements of Italy.

When war broke out, Azeglio, an old soldier, took up the sword, and served as chief of the staff to General Durando, who com- manded the Pontifical division sent into Lombardy. This volume contains several interesting letters written during the campaign, especially one from Vicenza, on the day before the fight, in which, after twelve hours' desperate combat, where Azeglio himself was badly wounded, the division was crushed by Radetzki's army, and the perusal whereof we recommend to those who accuse its author of half-heartedness. " My faith in the future of Italy is immovable," wrote Azeglio, after these military reverses, as after the catastrophe of Novara he wrote, " To have striven a life long with one thought, without any hope that the opportunity for its realization would offer ; to have seen this opportunity come about in excess of all reasonable anticipation, and then to feel that the whole structure crumbled away in one day I After such blows, one preserves but the show of life. Heart and soul are killed. I shall not live to see my beloved country freed from the yoke. Let the will of God be done. . . . . For the moment I only wish it to be known, since all is lost, that at least the army fought well. Do your best to let the world know that we were fifty thousand, as Radetzki admits in his bulletin, and that he attacked us with eighty thousand, and that we fought well. Good bye, my dear friend ; we are over- whelmed, but not discouraged ; it is a long work that has to be done over again, that is al"

Azeglio was not at Novara. The wound he had got at Vicenza would not heal, and disabled him for service in the field, but dur- ing the interval he had been actively engaged in counteracting the fatal influence of the Mazzinian faction. Perhaps the most power- ful of his political writings was the pamphlet he then addressed to his electors. Also he had been called upon by Charles Albert to form a Ministry, but this Azeglio declined to do, because he 4‘ was not prepared to make war on Austria singlehanded, and still less to make the peace, and sign it," a destiny nevertheless reserved to him. When, after the crowning disaster of Novara and the complete collapse of the national movement through the all-pervading mistrust in the men in authority, which was being fanned by the anarchical influence of the Republican party, at that period a body of real force in Italy, under the then not yet exploded charm of Mazzini's individuality, the young monarch once more called the man who, more than any other Italian, was in possession of a national reputation. Azeglio re- sponded to his appeal, and snatched up the reins of power, which at that most critical hour for his country's fate were lying, so to say, in the gutter. The subsequent splendour of Cavour's name has made people forget the inestimable services thus rendered by Azeglio, who amidst the wild tide of an insensate demagogy on the one side, and the solid pressure on the other of the ancient Piedmontese aristocracy, wedded to Absolutist principles, preserved free from violation the golden talisman for the future regeneration of his cherished country, the Constitution but just called into life. All that since has happened is due to what then he persisted in doing. It was the unswerving steadfastness to liberal principles at that moment, which first laid a foundation-stone for the national structure into which the monarchy of Victor Emmanuel grew, and the work was one that required no little courage and convic- tion, as it was feasible only for one who could fascinate the popular sympathies by a combination of qualities such as Azeglio alone possessed. It was Azeglio who recognized the genius of Cavour, then a writer in the Risorgimento, and brought him into the Cabinet, where ultimately he supplanted the Premier. Cavour, with his daring energy and gigantic activity of mind, conceived early a more audacious policy than suited the taste of the refined Azeglio, differences of opinion between the two statesmen became public, on the occasion of a virtual and unexpected declaration of coalition made by Cavour in Parliament with Rattazzi, who was then leader of the Left Centre, and was to Azeglio an object of dislike. It must be confessed that Cavour's mode of proceeding was, to say the least, questionable. It had for immediate consequence a re- modelling of the Administration without him ; but the alliance he had contracted was too strong for resistance, and in October, 1852, Count Cavour entered on his ever memorable tenure of office as Prime Minister. But for nearly three years had Azeglio directed the destinies of his country, during which he had consolidated its liberties, worked out its organic laws, and had stood forth as the first public and practical champion of civil freedom against the monstrous pretensions of the Court of Rome, in the enactment of the celebrated Sicardi laws, that put an end to ecclesiastical juris- diction over civil matters.