Monday, 25 November 2013


The inconsistency of the English press, and the dishonesty of the British Cabinet in the present crisis on the Italian Peninsula, ore the just commentaries to form on accurate judgment of the part diplomacy and policy of this country in reference to Italy. The entire British press, without a single exception, have, since the expulsion of Charles Dixon from the French throne in 1830,cried out for reform in the political government of all the Italian States. 'Within the last ten years, since the expulsion of Louis Philippe in 1847, there is no expression of ridicule, no language of malicious contempt, which English journalism has not employed against the tyranny of Naples, the misgovernment of Rome, and the slavery of the Duchies. And in reference to the Austrian rule at home and abroad, all the writers of England depicted it as the most degraded despotism of modern Europe, and as the unimproveable code of Popish antagonism to progressive civilization. The prisons of Naples, the assassins of Rome, the rebels of Tuscany, the deism of Lombardy, the hypocrisy of Austria, the infidelity of Vienna, supplied jumbled daily articles on men, and creeds, and things, to the universal English press : and English tourists, English correspondents, and English Biblicals, transmitted to their friends at home deplorable accounts of the slavery, the immorality, and the Paganized Christianity of all Southern Popish Europe. Exeter Hall, our own Rotunda, and several of the town halls in Scotland and Ireland, re-echoed in holy horror with the thrilling descriptions of the fallen state of liberty and religion beyond the Alps and the Rhine: and some of the most eminent of our Parliamentary saints and Biblical statesmen have repeatedly argued during the last four years that the Revolutionists of Italy should even receive military aid from England in order to carry out their ideas of Reform in Church and State.
And if such has been the feeling and the language of the press, the conduct of the different cabinets and administrations has been still more emphatic and practical. An English Cabinet Minister complimented and flattered, in 1848, the principal revolutionist at Rome : he received this man at the English Embassy, invited him to his table, and thus became by the fact, the companion, the abettor, and accomplice of the Roman rebellion! A second English minister, at the head of a procession of fifty thousand Englishmen, received Kossuth the Hungarian rebel, read an address of congratulation to him, sympathised, of course, with the Hungarian revolution, and thus identified the English cabinet with the insurrection. An English Chancellor of the Exchequer visited Naples in 1849, wrote a pamphlet on the tyranny of the laws, and on the cruelties of the administration : and Lord Roden, accompanied by four others, travelled through Italy, examining the gaols, entering the cells, conversing with the prisoners, making presents of money amongst the culprits : and then returning home to protest before large English and Irish assemblies against the Constitutions and Administrations of all Italy. Lord John Russell and Lord Palmerston, so late as last February, have declared that the Italian Priests were "about the very worst species of Ecclesiastics in all Europe: that all foreign force should be instantly withdrawn : and the various States of Italy left to themselves, to frame their own laws of temporal policy and church discipline !" And so associated, so identified was England with the enemies of the Italian rulers, that she lent two millions sterling to Sardinia, to complete the fortress of Alessandria ; and had agreed with France to send two ships of war into the bay of Naples to encourage the hopes of the Revolutionists, and to overawe the King into submission to the rebel democracy! In fact, the continued theme of the English Press and the English literature and social English sympathy during the last thirty years has been the public, unconcealed encouragement to rebellion through all Italy : and the equally undisguised conduct of the English Prime Ministers and the English Cabinets during the last thirteen years has been an open appeal to the whole Italian population to rise up against the constituted authorities in Church and State, to throw off the authority of the throne and the altar : to get rid of the King and the Pope ; and that they had the moral power of all England on their side: that they could also command to a great extent the English Exchequer : and above all that if circumstances were favourable to the revolutionary cause the British Navy might be placed at their service ! The facts stated in the two paragraphs just written of this article are registered in the whole Press of this country, are recorded in the speeches and the printed documents of the Cabinet Ministry, and are known to all Europe.
If those statements be accurate, and beyond all dispute undeniable, how can we account for the present bitter reproaches of the English press against the Italian policy of France? Is not this the policy which they have encouraged those last thirty years? Where is the consistency of unsaying, within one month, the things which have been said almost every day for upwards of a quarter of a century? How can France be charged as a criminal in doing what Lord Minto recommended in Rome— what Lord John Russell praised in Parliament— what Lord Palmerston feted in Birmingham? How has English journalism found out, in the space of a month, what it could not discover during the last thirty years? Or, how have the eminent leaders of several past Cabinets learned, in the month of April, 1859, that their past policy towards Italy for a quarter of a century has been a blunder, a mistake, perhaps a fatal error? How can the English companions of Napoleon, in counselling ships of war to be sent to the Bay of Naples, now condemn him for carrying this English advice into practical execution? How can it be wrong in France to lend men to Sardinia against Austria, when England has, within the last two years, lent millions of money for the same purpose? If England flattered and dined with Revolution in Rome, surely it can be no great crime, in the eyes of Great Britain, if France now flatters and dines with insurrection in Florence? If England thought it right to offer aid to the Italian confederates, how can she declare it wrong in France to do the same ? Wherefore, then, the consistency of the English press, or the honesty of the British Cabinet? Will not all mankind cry out against the baseness of the one, and against the treachery of the other? And will not the voice of Europe and the whole world equally do justice to the unbroken word of Napoleon and to the firm consistency of the French Cabinet?
In view of the premises here advanced and proved, how now stand the political conditions of the four parties here engaged — namely, Austria, Sardinia, France, and England? Firstly Sardinia being encouraged, assisted in money, and strengthened in her navy by England, has relied upon English truth; and from the very commencement of this Italian difficulty has, therefore, sincerely prepared to accomplish her hostile declarations. For good or evil, right or wrong, she has kept her word. Secondly, Austria has sworn before all Europe that she would not attack Sardinia if France would remain neutral ; and in this sworn pledge it is strict justice to say that Austria has broken her pledge in treacherous falsehood! Thirdly, France, from the beginning of the Sardinian movement, asserted that she would not pass her frontier if Austria did the same. Mankind can now bear testimony that she has rigidly kept her word till Austria, suddenly, unexpectedly, and perfidiously broke her pledge! I do not argue the course which this nation might do : I only reason on the actual course which she has followed ; and this conduct is beyond all doubt an indictment of a violated promise and an unexpected declaration of war. In that hour France was released from her engagement of neutrality; and with the rapidity of French action, her war steamers issued from Toulon with armed thousands for Genoa : while her soldiers climbed the heights of Saint Genevre, walked to the neck in snow for two days, leaving their baggage and artillery behind at the foot of the mountain, and merely carrying their cartouche boxes in their hands above their heads, as they trod their frozen march in slow and almost smothered steps across one of the old French passes into Italy! France has, therefore, kept her word of honour : and has also, at the sound of the first Austrian bugle on the Ticino, met the sudden challenge to war. Fourthly, and how has England maintained her national character in this crisis? She has decidedly abandoned Sardinia which she had so long encouraged! She has deceived France, which she so recently promised to accompany to the bay of Naples in a hostile demonstration in favour of the Revolutionists against the King! She has with her usual political perfidy reversed her policy, backed out of her diplomatic engagements, and has, within the last week, seemed even willing, if she dared, to join the cause of Austria. That is to say, she now seems anxious to enforce in Italy "the reputed despotism" of Austria, which during so many years of deceit she has denounced, through her press, her embassies, her literature, her pulpit ; and which she has held up to public execration through every foreign court, city, town, and village where intrigue, influence, and money could advance her disastrous propagandism.
The strict historical truth in this case is— namely, that England has long ago enkindled the revolutionary spirit in all Italy and Hungary : that she has recently lighted the match in Sardinia, in order to commence the conflagration : that she has given to France unmistakeable evidence of her willingness to join Napoleon in the revolution of all Italy, and in the expulsion of Austria from Lomburdy : and that when the moment for action had arrived she retreated from her former oaths, turned approver against her former accomplices, and now stands before Sardinia, France, and rebel Italy, as an informer and a traitor! England is certainly on the very brink of falling into the precipice which she has long prepared for others : she is likely to be caught in her own trap, and to repel from her own shores the war which she encouraged elsewhere. The blow which she has aimed at other nations may react on herself : and it is more than probable that the depression of the funds and the vast expenses of her new warlike preparations (even if she be not drawn into the actual quarrel) will make her pay dearly for the insane scheme she so long conceived and developed— namely, the remodelling of all the Catholic thrones and the extinction of the Catholic Church in Europe! Time will tell ; and that time seems near at hand, when the supreme power of England will receive a check: when her dominant name will be lowered ; and when the persecution of her laws and the bigotry of her administration will be branded before, not only her rivals, but her masters, as being without a parallel in civilized Europe. In these remarks I am merely recording history : I am the rigid chronicler of events passing under our eyes.
In the present crisis England has need to exercise all her prudence. The union of Russia with France (if turned against Great Britain) would be able to re-enact the scenes of Sebastopol before the walls of London! What would prevent France and Russia from uniting to humble England? No more than France and England combining to over power Russia. At the battle of Waterloo Eng land taught France the power of allied forces! What is to prevent France from practising this dearly bought lesson, and rehearsing it before the gates of the English capital? If Russia be sincerely united with France in the present war, the clear results of this alliance may be calculated — firstly, the revolution of Hungary ; secondly, the total subjugation and division of Turkey ; thirdly, the entire, the universal revolution in the policy, the territorial divisions, and the thrones of Italy ; fourthly, the descent of Russia on the Northern frontier of our Indian empire ; and lastly, the separation of Canada from Great Britain! Sardinia, Italy, France, and Russia, when fairly combined in war, can carry out this programme with much less expense, and with more assured success, than the Crimean campaign was accomplished. Russia wishes such a course, in order to retrieve and revenge Sebastopol ; and France actually wants this policy, in order to employ the army, and to keep up the enthusiasm of French glory. Once having conceded the neutrality of England in the present struggle, there is little doubt of the victory of France, assisted by Sardinia, supported by all Italy, and reinforced by the multitudinous Russian armies and the numerous Russian fleet.
What can Austria do under such circumstances, even aided by Prussia and the Germanic Confederation? Austria has a weak fleet : Prussia has no fleet: hence the united navies of France and Russia could walk the seas unmolested from the Sound to the Nile : not leaving a vestige of Prussian or Austrian power on all the coasts where their commerce or fortifications are now recognised and felt. England will, therefore, require all her wisdom to escape untouched in the midst of the present struggle; and moreover she will find it necessary to put in practice at home the liberal laws which she demands abroad : to unite all her subjects in a sincere equality : to extinguish the bigotry which makes her church a libel on Christianity : and to apply to public purposes of utility the revenues of "the establishment," which are at once the robbery of the poor, a sacrilege before God, and the incongruous funds for feeding overgrown sensuality, pampering profligate luxury, and, lastly, are the abundant source of spreading social hatred and rebellious dissatisfaction amongst the subjects of the Queen.
D. W. C. Thursday, May 5th.

 Freeman's Journal 17 August 1859,

No comments: