Page images
PDF
EPUB

lasted two hours, and was only interrupted by a relation, who, entering the room, insisted that it should cease. The exertion and the excitement caused a relapse. Again and again, as he became weaker, he was bled. His physicians have been blamed, especially in this country, for resorting to a practice condemned by modern medical science. But it is but just to them to state that Cavour himself insisted upon it, and would only employ such as would follow his own prescriptions. Still no uneasiness was felt until the morning of the 4th. Every attempt had then failed to check the fever, and he seemed to be sinking. Those who were about him now became seriously alarmed, and their anxiety was shared by the population of Turin, which gathered round his house, and awaited with eager looks every report from the sick chamber. The King desired that Dr. Riberi, the physician of the royal family, should be called in. When left alone a short time, whilst the medical attendants were in consultation, Cavour asked whether they had abandoned him. 'It is of little matter,' said he, laughing; I shall leave them all to-morrow morning.'

Up to this time he had seen and conversed with many persons, amongst them the English Minister, Sir James Hudson, who through all his political trials and difficulties had been his faithful friend and prudent counsellor. To no man did Italy owe more during her great struggle; no one has kept her more steadily in the path of moderation and of constitutional freedom-no one has exercised more influence for good amongst men of all parties. Cavour knew this, and esteemed him accordingly.

His brother and others of his family were desirous that he should now receive the last Sacraments of the Church. He con

sented at once. His parish church, the Madonna degli Angeli, belongs to the order of the Capuchin friars. One of them, Fra Giacomo, had been employed by him in some negotiations upon ecclesiastical matters. Cavour had often asked him jokingly whether, in case of approaching death, he would administer the Sacraments to one included in some of the many furious excommunications which the Pope had launched against the enemies of the Church. Fra Giacomo did not hesitate to obey the summons to his bedside.* 'You think me then an honest fellow, do you not, Giacomo?' said Cavour to him, with a smile.

* The report that Cavour had directed a telegraphic message to be sent to the Pope praying for absolution in order to receive the Sacraments has been formally denied by his brother. It was probably one of those inventions not uncommon to the priesthood on similar occasions, and will, no doubt, be put forward hereafter as a proof of his recantation and submission to the Church in his last moments.

Up to this time he had retained full possession of his senses. He had spoken calmly of his approaching end, but no words escaped him either of regret for what he had done or which might lead to the inference that he recanted at the last one of those opinions steadily and consistently maintained during a whole life. On the contrary, he spoke as a man who had conscientiously performed his duty. The King, after seeing him later in the day, said that he had been greatly struck by the calm and sweet expression of his countenance.

The crucifix was placed between the lighted tapers, and the other mournful preparations were made in the sick chamber for the last religious rites. It was soon known abroad that the solemn ceremony was about to be performed. A vast crowd gathered round the house. When the tinkling bell which announces the approach of the Host was heard, a murmur of uncontrolled grief rose from the throng. The friar ascended the broad stairs amid the chants of the attendants. The room in which the Count lay was open, as is the custom in Italy, to those who followed the priest. A few of the relatives and friends of the dying man entered. As they stood around his bed a feeling of unutterable sorrow came over them at the calamity about to fall upon them and upon their country. Cavour himself was calm and collected. Addressing Fra Giacomo, he said, in a strong voice, 'The time for departure is come;' using the words of one going on a journey.

In the evening the King came to his bedside. Raising himself with his two hands, Cavour exclaimed, 'Majesty! you here!' and strove to seize his hand to press it to his lips. The King, deeply affected, bent over him and kissed his cheek, saying, ‘I have heard that you are suffering much, and I am here to see you.' 'I am suffering no longer,' replied the Count.' After a few more words his thoughts began to wander. 'If you receive any letters,' he said, with much animation, let me have them immediately; it is very important that I should have them, and I cannot go to you.' Then endeavouring to recollect himself, he repeated, 'Remember it is very important that I should have them immediately. As for the Neapolitans-purify them, purify them, purify them!' (li lavi, li lavi, li lavi!). He then spoke of Italy. His whole soul was wrapt up in this one thought-in his country. During his illness no allusion to his own affairs or condition, no bitterness, no reproach to any one man, escaped his lips. His last trial-that indeed which had probably hastened his death-the state of Naples, left the last impression upon his waning mind. 'No! no!" he

repeatedly

repeatedly exclaimed, in the words which he had often used during the previous two months, 'I will have no state of siege. Any one can govern with a state of siege!' The last intelligible sentences which he is said to have uttered were 'State tranquilli; tutto è salvato'-'Be tranquil; all is saved;' and 'Oh! ma la cosa va; state sicuri che ormai la cosa va '—'The thing (the independence of all Italy) is going on; be certain that now the thing is going on.' As he gradually sank he was heard at intervals to mutter, 'Italy-Rome-Venice-Napoleon.' | As the morning of the 6th of June dawned he fell into a deep lethargy; at seven he passed away almost imperceptibly in the arms of his beloved niece, the Countess Alfieri.

Never had a greater sorrow fallen upon a country. In Turin every shop was closed, all public and private business suspended. Even the very children seemed to feel that a great calamity had overtaken them. As the sad tidings spread through Italy, a gloom of mourning, like the shadow of an eclipse, seemed to creep over the face of the land. Even those who had differed from him in life grieved over the loss of a great and good man. The 'Armonia,' the organ of the priest-party, bore witness to his secret deeds of kindliness and charity. Nay, even the very Austrian newspapers paid a generous tribute to the genius of a great statesman who had passed away. One sole exception disgraced the Italian press. Those who had persecuted him with relentless malice during his life sought to insult his memory after his death-those whose evil plots and cowardly deeds he had hated with the warmth of a brave and honest man. The vile libels which Signor Brofferio had published whilst he lived were reproduced by the organs of Mazzini and his friends after he was no more. This outrage, however, proved that Cavour had rightly judged these men when he denounced them as the cause of dishonour, misfortune, and servitude to Italy.

The day after his death the Count lay in state. The whole population came to gaze for the last time upon that familiar face. Men of every rank followed the body as it was borne to the parish-church through streets hung with black and deep in funeral flowers. It was deposited there only for a time. His native city desired that his remains should be confided to it, to be placed beneath a monument worthy of the man, and of the capital which he had made the cradle of Italy's freedom. The King asked that they should be borne to the Superga, that he himself might

*We regret to say that one of these disgraceful attacks was translated into English and sold at a cheap price for the people.

one

one day be near the servant to whose genius and devotion he owed his unexampled prosperity. But Cavour's own wish was fulfilled. He rests in the small niche he had himself pointed out, beneath the old church of Santena, in the land which belonged to his forefathers, and where his kin have for generations lain before him.

For ages to come may the Italian seek the spot, as sacred to the man who gave freedom and happiness to his country, and raised Italy for the third time to her place amongst the nations of the world.

The loss to his countrymen of such a man, at such a time, is beyond reckoning. But fortunately for Italy she is not without statesmen who are worthy to carry on the great work which he left unfinished. The foremost amongst them is the Baron Bettino Ricasoli, whom the united voice of Italy chose to fill his place. There is something not unlike in the character and history of the two statesmen. A nobleness of disposition-an integrity which no enemy has dared to assail, and no friend has been called to vindicate a love of his country equal to any sacrifice and any hope-a tenacity of purpose not to be swayed-a commanding eloquence-a kind and benevolent heart-simple and easy, yet dignified and refined manners-have gained for Ricasoli the respect, the love, and the confidence of his fellow-countrymen. Born a Tuscan, he is, like Cavour, the descendant of a very ancient and noble family. He still holds, as its representative, lands which belonged to it in the 11th century. A tower of his ancestral castle of Broglio, hidden amongst the wooded Apennines, near Siena, was built in the 5th century; and the edifice itself has not been added to since the beginning of the 15th. Long devoted, like Cavour, to the management of his estates, he studied agriculture, and advanced the resources and prosperity of his country by the introduction of an improved system of husbandry. Large tracts of marsh-land, once fatal to human life, have through his enterprise been drained and fitted for habitation and culture. His love of constitutional government is chiefly founded upon a study of the political institutions of England and a personal acquaintance with this country. He has the same enlightened views as Cavour regarding the Church of Rome. It was through his firmness and vigilance that, during a period of revolution and dangerous uncertainty, Tuscany had not to deplore one crime or outrage. Entrusted with unlimited authority, he never failed in respect to the law, nor has he been accused of one arbitrary act that was unnecessary. When we hear so much boasting of public virtue, yet see so little of its practice amongst those who claim to be the protectors of

[ocr errors]

Italy, it is worthy to be remembered that during nearly two years of absolute power the Baron Ricasoli not only never received one farthing of the public money, but even contributed out of his own purse to the expenses of the state. Now that Tuscany by her own wish forms a part of the new Italian kingdom, the greatest sacrifice he can be called upon to make is to leave his farms once more, to become the Prime Minister of Italy.

The Baron Ricasoli has announced, in words not to be mistaken, that his policy is the policy of Cavour, and that he is resolved that by just and legal means Italy shall be united and free, with Rome for her capital, and with Venice delivered from the rule of the stranger. His success must depend upon the Italians themselves. By gathering around him, forgetful of their jealousies and resolute in rejecting the counsels of rash and violent men, they may enable him to finish the work confided to him. They will thus best show their love for the great man who has passed away, and will raise the noblest monument to his memory.

ART. VIII.-1. The Rebellion Record: a Diary of American Events, 1860-61.* Edited by Frank Moore. London, 1861. 2. Causes of the Civil War in America. By John Lothrop Motley, LL.D. London, 1861.

3. Considerations on Representative Government. By J. S. Mill.
London, 1861.

THE
HE American secession is a subject which every organ of
public feeling in this country approaches with reluctance.
The House of Commons will not even suffer it to be debated,
and the newspapers touch on it with a hesitating delicacy which
they have never shown to our oldest allies or our most dreaded
enemies. The catastrophe is too fresh, too sudden, too terrible
in its consequences to permit Englishmen now to remember any
of the small annoyances which in past times American preten-
sions or antagonism may have caused. We are never backward
in showing sympathies for the calamities of our fellow-men, of
whatever race or climate. But America has special claims on us

It is perhaps necessary to premise that throughout we use the words 'Democracy' and 'Democratic' in their European, not their American, sense. In Europe the word Democracy means the absolute government of the numerical majority. In America the word has given a name to a political party, and, like the word 'Whig,' has consequently entirely drifted away from its ear er meaning. The so-called 'Democratic' party in America is that which is now stoutly resisting the absolutism of the numerical majority.

« PreviousContinue »