The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:23 am

Chapter 9: Mazzini and Cavour

1850-1857. AETAT 45-52.

The Piedmontese School—Mazzini and Cavour—The French alliance—Mazzini and Manin—The theory of the dagger—Conspiracies—The Genoese plot of 1857.

It is painful to turn from Mazzini in England, the great-hearted friend, the prophetic thinker, the generous worker in the cause of man, to his political action in Italy. Had he yielded to the advice of some of his friends and left politics at this time for literature, his fame were brighter and his life more fruitful in pure good. His work for Italy was done; he had conquered it for more than half his creed. Half its best men had been nurtured on his writings, had learned from him to believe in independence and unity, though still they spoke of unity in whispers, and he himself knew not how far opinion had advanced. The day of conspiracy had passed; free Piedmont was slowly marshalling the forces of the nation for another and decisive war. The republic became impossible on the day, when Victor Emmanuel swore loyalty to the constitution, and thereby proclaimed himself champion of Italian aspirations. The one thing needful was to rally every section of patriots to the one possible flag. To attack the monarchy now only hurt the bigger issue, lost sight of the great goal in mists of schism, brought bitterness and dissension where discipline was all important for the day of trial. No one was more insistent than Mazzini on the need of discipline, but in practice he conditioned it in these years by being himself leader. One who found it so difficult to compromise, could hardly follow.

Had Mazzini thought the republic the more important issue, his action would at least have been consistent. But he had deliberately set unity above it, and independence from Austria above either. A saner politician would have been silent on the minor question. But Mazzini could never long repress his republican teaching. It was partly that, save in moments of comparative lucidity, he convinced himself that Piedmont would never make a cast for unity, that the Austrians could not be expelled but by a great rising of the people. Had he gauged Italian sentiment more accurately, he would have spared himself the error, would have lost his deep distrust in Piedmont and its king, his bitter animosity to Cavour, his pitiable exaggeration of the strength of his own party. But an exile lives in necessary half-knowledge. The government of Piedmont, as exclusive and intolerant as himself, barred from wholesome activity in his own land the man, who, had he been at Turin in daily contact with men of other parties, would have been a mighty force for good; and to them, more than to Mazzini himself, belongs the pity of his wasted patriotism. Not but what in any circumstances Mazzini found it hard to recognize new facts. The prophet is by nature inflexible; and Mazzini's whole creed was a thing of such passionate intensity, each part had twisted itself so inextricably round the rest, that it cost a wrench to part with any detail. "I may, of course, be mistaken," he wrote of his political creed, "but mine is a matter of deep conviction, and it is impossible for me to modify or alter it." He was incapable of taking advice; if men differed from him, he assailed them bitterly instead of examining the reasons for their dissent. And the partisan, that was always latent in him, grew till it obscured the statesman. He who was so insistent that no one had a right to set his own opinions above the people's common sense, was the last to bow to the popular verdict, when it declared against himself. Henceforth Mazzini was more foe than friend to his own ideals. Much he still did to stir his countrymen to strenuous and high-thinking patriotism. Though he aimed beyond their ken, he shot more high than all the politicians. But in the great march he broke the ranks, and made the task more difficult for men, who, with a patriotism as true and with a saner strategy, had set their faces for the same high goal.

Retirement was however impossible for a man of Mazzini's temperament. He was too feverishly impatient for his country's salvation to only stand and wait. Inaction seemed treachery to the cause of righteousness. Both in public and private life he insisted that "thought and action" must go hand in hand, that a man had no right to confine his energies to literature and decline his part in practical political work. He criticized intolerantly the men in Italy, who wrote patriotic literature instead of plotting insurrection. "Actions," he said, "are the books of the masses," especially in a country where the majority were illiterate. He in fact, like every other patriot, was maddened by the savage tyranny, with which the Austrians and the Pope and the King of Naples were scourging his unhappy country,—"the insolent triumph of brute force, the exile and death of our brothers in two-thirds of Europe, the long weeping of their sisters and mothers, the lying, the espionage, the corruption, the cry of the oppressed masses, the teaching of those who fight and die in silence, the shame that makes us blush for those who submit and sell themselves in despair." "Such a state of things," he wrote to an English friend after the Mantuan executions, "cannot last, must not last. It is far better to die in a supreme glorious battle, fought under the eye of God with our national banner unfurled, than to see the best of our land falling one by one under the axe of the executioner." It were sin to wait, and he saw no need for waiting. He was right of course in his belief that a nation, which had once so nearly won its freedom, would try for it again. "The dreams of violence," he said, "are brief, and infallible the triumph of a people, that hopes and fights and suffers for justice and holy liberty." He had persuaded himself that the masses were only waiting for a signal to rise and throw themselves on Austria. As so often in his logic, the thing ought to be and therefore must be. He knew indeed that he could not count on the middle classes for insurrection. The men, who had been the strength of Young Italy, had gone over almost in mass to the Piedmontese School, and he did not spare them his reproaches. But he hoped in the working men. While the Moderates hardly noticed them, he saw what stuff lay in the despised and misunderstood Italian artisans. But he exaggerated his influence with them. "They are mine, devotedly mine, to blindness." Individuals, indeed, among them he won, as he won men of every class, by his simple, noble earnestness. But except in and round Genoa their numbers at this time were few.

It was an impossible policy. It had nearly succeeded in 1848, when Europe was in flames, but Mazzini would not see how radically circumstances had changed. There was no serious hope now that a general movement of European democracy would divide the forces of Austria; and his efforts to bring together again the democrats of different countries, especially of Italy and Hungary, had no results, at all events till in after years. The resuscitation of Austria, the evidence of her military strength, the Second Empire in France, the resignation of Palmerston, the collapse of the German democrats had killed any early hope of a successful war, even though all the armed strength of the nation, regular armies and volunteers alike, were put into it. It was true that the nation could win its freedom even now, if it sought it at all cost, if it were willing to face the awful sacrifice,—the mowing down of the undisciplined levies, the wasting of the country,—and fight through defeat to victory. But Mazzini's hopes shipwrecked on the fact,—and bitterly he came to recognize it,—that the Italians, like most other peoples, were not a nation of martyr-heroes, that the peasants had little active patriotism, that thousands in other classes cared more for church than country, that even among the rest there was little of the grim tenacity of Americans or Dutch or of the fierce unconquerableness of Greeks and Spaniards.

It was this that gave the Piedmontese party its justification. Timid and conservative as it often was, it at all events recognized facts. It saw that this undisciplined enthusiasm was not business, that in the present condition of Europe another national rising meant another and more terrible disaster, that each little revolt with its miserable ending only tightened the tyranny and damped the patriots, that Piedmont's first duty was to preserve its own liberty,—no light task in itself,—that its next was to gather round it all the aspirations of the country, discipline them and husband them, till the chance came again to fight with a probability of victory. The Piedmontese had learnt the lessons of 1848-49 very differently from their critic. To them discipline was the one essential. Never again must dissension about means paralyze the country in front of the enemy. And in the interests of union they had small mercy for democratic theories, they were prepared to be unfair to opponents and crush minorities. Victor Emmanuel must be the figure-head of the movement and the Piedmontese statesmen its leaders. Theoretically, of course, their policy was a smaller one than Mazzini's. It had little of the poetry and idealism of the movement, which he had helped to inspire. There was no majestic vision of a people rising in its own spontaneous might and deciding its destinies in a great national pact. It postulated encroachments on democratic freedom. It was willing to buy alliances by concessions, that abated the country's dignity. It veiled the great ideal of Unity, and sought attainment by slow stages and crooked paths. But, assuming that independence and unity were the great essentials,—and on this the best men of the party were at one with Mazzini,—it was on its main lines the only possible policy. And it was a sense of this, that rallied the great mass of patriots to the flag of Piedmont, and left Mazzini to protest almost alone, a leader without followers.

The antagonism of the two schools was typified in Cavour and Mazzini. They were very different in temperament:—the one an aristocrat by training, a genial hater of theories, an opportunist content to feel his way by little steps, to wait patiently year after year rather than risk failure, making success his object, with small scruple as to means or personal honour, so his country stood to gain; the other a man of greater nature and culture but less capacity, democrat of democrats, distrusting king and nobles and middle classes, passionate and outspoken in his friendships and his enmities, the uncompromising, inflexible, restless apostle, who would conquer armies by a principle of abstract righteousness, too dazzled by the future to see the mundane obstacles and hard facts about his feet. Cavour had a supercilious contempt for Mazzini and his doctrines; he probably regarded him as a nuisance, and would have gladly seen him shot. His business was to win Italy, if he could do so without risking overmuch; but he was minister of a crown and would do nothing to endanger it. He had convinced himself, save at moments of impatient optimism, that only through a French alliance could Austria be driven out. For this he was willing to humour Louis Napoleon, to stoop to trickery, to be brutal to the republicans. He would use the revolutionaries if he could, but it must be at their own risk and for the greater glory of the monarchy. Cavour, hiding his ideals and working in mists of diplomacy, chose to be misunderstood; and it is no wonder that Mazzini generally read him on the surface, and refused to see how much their programmes had in common. To him Cavour's slow patient policy came of mere weakness and inconstancy of purpose. He thought of him as a timid diplomatist, half-leagued with the despotisms, more careful of convention than of right, incapable of aspiring to Italy and Rome. It was only late in life, that he recognised his statesmanship. He hated him as a truckler to Napoleon; he thought that he favoured Napoleon's cousin, Lucien Murat, for the throne of Naples, that he held the Emperor's friendship of more account than Italy. He never realised that under the careful statesman lay a bold and eager spirit, that at the fitting moment might be as revolutionary as himself.

Two men of such diverse character could probably have never worked cordially together. But under other circumstances they might have helped and supplemented one another. It was a cruel fate that, owing to Mazzini's exile and the consequent impossibility of mutual understanding, they should have wasted so much in a bitter and unnecessary antagonism. Mazzini no doubt had much provocation for his fixed hostility. He, who had given all for country, was an exile from the land he loved, seeing it only in rare and secret visits, stealing to his mother's grave by night "like a man bent on a crime," his followers persecuted, his apologies suppressed. But he painfully exaggerated the deficiencies of the rival school. When he asked the Piedmontese government, "Are you with Austria or against her?" when he branded the royalists as being, "next to Austria, the great obstacle to Italian freedom," he showed a partisan's unwillingness or incapacity to grasp the facts. His watch, in Giusti's phrase, had stopped at 1848; and he could not see how radically Cavour and the new King had changed the spirit of Piedmontese policy. Victor Emmanuel, he confidently asserted, though "better than his ministers," "neither wishes to be nor can be King of Italy"; it was "an absolute impossibility" that he would try, unless compelled, to win Italian freedom. Mazzini was on sounder ground, when he fulminated against the French alliance. Others besides him foresaw the difficulty of reconciling Louis Napoleon's timidity with Italian aspirations, the recurring temptation to duplicity, if Italian statesmen had to quiet his suspicions and fears. He well said that it stained the name of Italy to seek salvation from the man who had crushed the Roman Republic and made the coup d'état. But Mazzini never faced the hard fact, that no otherwise could Austria be driven out. And his blindness grew partly out of the sheer personal hatred of the Emperor, which he did not attempt to conceal. Only in later years he came to see at all, and never fully, that Louis Napoleon, however timidly, wished to remodel Europe on his own principle of nationality. He never understood how real was the Emperor's good-will to Italy, how far his foreign policy outstripped his people's. He thought he had first-hand information as to Napoleon's schemes, and the first-hand information was always incomplete and misleading. Nor were his antipathies limited to the Emperor. "My antagonism to the French," he writes in 1850, "grows stronger every day." He had a bitter controversy with Louis Blanc and the French socialists. But, strangely, he had no word of condemnation for the French Catholics, who had prompted the expedition to Rome and were ever pulling back Napoleon in his more generous designs. At a later time, at all events, he quite underrated their strength.

Was compromise with Piedmont impossible? Daniel Manin, the republican Triumvir at Venice in 1849, whose rule there stands out with Mazzini's own at Rome as one of the most brilliant pages in the history of the century, founded in these years a National Society, with a unitarian but royalist programme. He recognised with the Piedmontese politicians the need of discipline, and that discipline could only come by accepting Victor Emmanuel as nominal leader. But he conditioned his conversion to royalism by the King's acceptance of Unity. "Make Italy," he wrote to him, "and we are with you; if not, not." Manin hoped to win Mazzini to his programme. He, like him, had been a republican; he was a man of noblest private life, of sincerest patriotism; he was striving earnestly for Unity; he fretted almost as much as did Mazzini himself at Cavour's slow manœuvring. Why should not Mazzini abandon his impossible dream of the republic, and work together for the bigger end with a man as democratic as himself? Mazzini refused. All that he would offer was "the neutral flag" of 1848,—a promise to leave the settlement of the question between monarchy and republic to a future Constituent of the freed nation. The position was plausible enough, but there were fatal objections to it. It encouraged the federalists to agitate; it must necessarily alienate the King; it would make discipline more difficult than ever. And, when the country, as Mazzini himself began to recognise, was declaring unmistakably for the monarchy, to keep the question nominally open was a homage more to the letter than to the spirit of popular sovereignty.

As a kind of appendix to the controversy, Mazzini had his famous argument with Manin on "the theory of the dagger." In 1856 Manin wrote an open letter, attacking the theory as "the great enemy of Italy." He sent his letter to the Times, provoking Mazzini's retort that his "sense of personal dignity and respect for his country should have prevented him from writing to such a paper." Manin did not specifically mention Mazzini, but the reference was understood, and Mazzini indignantly replied. It is hardly necessary to-day to answer the charge that Mazzini encouraged political assassination. He held indeed that there were rare occasions when it was right,—"exceptional moments in the life and history of nations, not to be judged by normal rules of human justice, and in which the actors can take their inspiration only from their conscience and God." Tyrannicide was justifiable, when it was the only means, and the successful means, of staying an intolerable oppression. It was a commonplace to glorify Judith and Brutus and Charlotte Corday; it was hypocrisy, he said, begging his own postulates, to condemn for the same actions the men who tried to kill Louis Napoleon or Ferdinand of Naples.[21] In every other case he "abominated" political assassination. It is, he says, "a crime, if attempted with the idea of revenge or punishment; a crime when there are other roads to freedom open; culpable and mistaken, when directed against a man, whose tyranny does not descend into the grave with him." When, for instance, Cavour charged him with plotting to kill Victor Emmanuel, he indignantly replied that the King's life was "protected, first by the existence of a constitution, next by the uselessness of the crime." With one exception only, he was loyal to his profession. Young Italy explicitly abandoned the Carbonaro tradition of assassinating traitors, and so far as its founder could control the society, it never sinned against the precept. The forged charge of the French government in 1833 that he ordered the murder of some spies at Rodez was amply exposed, when Sir James Graham repeated it in 1845, though the Paris correspondent of the Times was not ashamed to drag the libel up again nineteen years afterwards. When Triumvir at Rome, Mazzini vigorously repressed the assassinations there and at Ancona. He was absolutely ignorant of Orsini's attempt to assassinate Louis Napoleon, though he disdained to defend himself from the suspicion of complicity, partly because he scorned the puny libellers of the press, partly because "Europe needed a bugbear to frighten it and his name would do as well as any other." The charges that he was privy to Tibaldi's and Greco's plots against the Emperor were certainly in the latter case, and almost as certainly in the former, inventions of the French police. Late in life, he vigorously discouraged plots to assassinate the Pope and Victor Emmanuel, and stopped another to explode six bombs at a ball given at Venice by the Austrian Viceroy. In one case only—in early life—Mazzini was in some sense an accomplice in an assassination plot. In the midst of the preparations for the Savoy raid, a young Corsican, Antonio Gallenga, [22] who afterwards settled in England and was for some time special correspondent of the Times in Italy, came to him with a plan to assassinate Charles Albert in revenge for the Genoese executions. Mazzini tried to dissuade him, but at last persuaded himself that Gallenga was an appointed agent of Providence "to teach despots that their life may depend on the will of a single man." He gave Gallenga the means of travelling to Turin and sent him a dagger; but he seems to have given little more thought to the matter, perhaps concluding on reflection that, as proved to be the case, Gallenga had no stuff in him for the business. [23]

Manin's indictment aimed equally at the use of the knife in popular insurrections. Mazzini's answer here was easier but less ingenuous in its applications. It was cant, he properly replied, to call it no murder, if a soldier shot an enemy with his rifle, and murder, if an artisan conspirator stabbed an Austrian soldier with the only weapon he possessed. Unfortunately he weakened his argument by extending this theory of "irregular warfare" to cases, like those of Rossi or Marinovich, where men had been killed treacherously in revolutionary times for political or private vengeance. Perhaps he was defiantly exaggerating, for before this he had strongly reprobated Rossi's murder; probably he did not know the facts of Marinovich's case. It would at all events be very hard to justify him, when he commissioned Orsini to find men to surprise and kill the Austrian officers at Milan as the first step in an insurrection. It was no lower in its ethics than some established rules of war, but it came sadly below his own more noble estimate of the sacredness of human life.

While Mazzini's theories kicked against the pricks, his political work of these years is a pitiable tale of noble effort all in vain, of high purpose spoilt by obstinacy and incapacity. In the autumn of 1850 he founded a National Italian Committee, which claimed to be a kind of legal successor to the Assembly of the Roman Republic. Practically, though not ostensibly, it was a republican organisation. "The manifesto is moderate," Mazzini wrote privately to Italy, "but behind the manifesto am I, which means, I think, the republic." The ambiguity doomed it from the start. The straiter republicans attacked it as departing from the faith. The much vaster host of democrats, who were learning to believe in the Piedmontese monarchy, held carefully aloof. Others revolted at Mazzini's "intolerable dictatorship"; and the charge was half a true one. He proudly and sincerely replied to the taunt of personal ambition, but now, as always, he exacted an impossible obedience from his fellow-workers. In Italy the society found a certain following; and Mazzini boasted half-seriously to his friends that the republican flag would be flying on the Quirinal next year. But outside some of the Lombard towns the movement had little real strength; its organisation was too loose to be effective; and one by one the exiles on the Committee drifted away, till in 1853 it died a natural death. The same fate befell a "National Loan," which he had started with the ambitious hope of raising an adequate fund for insurrection. He issued bonds, which were to be honoured by the future Italian state. It was to be "the first act of a financial war, which would prove that the few monarchical or aristocratic possessors of big capitals can be matched by the collective power of the small capitals of democracy." Apparently a good many of the bonds were taken up in Italy, but the money they brought in seems to have been soon exhausted in the expenses of agitation and conspiracy.

Up to this time Mazzini had been inclined to postpone insurrection, till, at all events in his own judgment, it had a fair prospect of success. Unluckily at this moment he was approached by a revolutionary society among the artisans at Milan. He was hesitating whether to encourage them to action, when the ruthless execution by the Austrians of some conspirators at Mantua maddened the men, and they decided on revolt whether he supported them or not. He was very anxious about the scheme and far from hopeful, but he was too generous and impatient to refuse help now. He did what he could to find them money and sympathisers, and late in 1852 he went in disguise to Locarno to complete the preparations. The rising was fixed for the Carnival on February 6, and on the eve of it Mazzini was on the frontier at Chiasso, ready to go on to Milan, as soon as the call came. Had the rising been better organized, it had some small chance of success. As it was, Mazzini learnt at Chiasso that it had smoked itself out in a confused and bloody scuffle. The business was disastrous to him, and he came out with reputation badly damaged. The responsibility was fixed on him, and he accepted it, though he had only been drawn into a plan that others made. His friends in Italy had published a two-years-old appeal from Kossuth urging the Hungarian regiments in the garrison to revolt, and whether or not Kossuth authorized its publication now, had made unjustifiable alterations in the wording. Mazzini was responsible, if at all, only in not taking precautions to prevent the issue, but he did not make matters better, when he pleaded that men, who were risking their lives for their country, were "not amenable by strictly punctilious rules of normal times." [24] The fatuousness and mismanagement of the whole business, the pity of the wasted lives, a feeling that these ill-judged risings hindered the cause and damaged it in the eyes of Europe, hastened the stampede from his own party. He still kept a considerable though reduced hold on the artisans in a few towns of the North, but among the middle classes his following shrank to nearly nothing.

Even he almost despaired. He felt himself "accursed by all," the "scapegoat on whom all the faults of Israel will be heaped with a curse." The Piedmontese press loaded him with shameful scurrility; and there seems to have been an attempt to assassinate him. He fretted with the sense of failure, with something like remorse at the sufferings of the conspirators under the Austrians' brutal vengeance. But instead of taking the moral of the failure home, he broke into invective against the Piedmontese, and only plunged more desperately into schemes of insurrection. He had been misled into suspecting an understanding between France and Piedmont to create French protectorates in the South and Centre; and he was eager to checkmate it by forcing on the movement for unity and a revolutionary war with Austria. He had two main plans of operation. For one, the revolutionising of South Italy, he could, though anxious for immediate action, at present only sow the seed. The other was to organise guerilla fighting in the Alps and Northern Apennines and encourage the Lombard cities to revolt. He had persuaded himself that the fast-maturing Eastern question gave a favourable chance of attacking Austria. Her policy of see-saw between the Western Powers and Russia had won her the ill-will of both sides, and she had been obliged to denude her Italian garrisons to concentrate troops on the Russian frontier. Mazzini had vague hopes, too, of help from America. Kossuth's lecturing tour in the States in 1852 had excited an angry feeling against Austria. The American government was irritated by the unfriendly attitude of France and England, and perhaps had its designs on Cuba; and Mazzini hoped that it would encourage the revolutionary forces in Europe, in order to keep the Powers occupied at home. George N. Sanders, the American Consul in London, gave a dinner to him and Kossuth and Ledru Rollin, and healths were drunk to a future alliance of America with a federation of the free peoples of Europe. [25] Mazzini's hopes were high. He studied military maps with Kossuth and Ledru Rollin at St John's Wood. He went to Paris and Italy in 1854 in disguise, probably spending most of his time at Genoa, and perhaps on his way paying a visit to Giuditta Sidoli, now silver-haired, and sweet and gracious as ever. His movements worried all the police of Italy and France and Switzerland, and his secret journeys had their romance of clever disguises and audacious escapes. A popular rhyme of the time, attributed to Dall'Ongaro, said:—

Where is Mazzini? Ask the pines
Upon the Alps and Apennines.
He is, wherever traitors cower
In terror for their fatal hour;
Where'er men wait impatiently
To give their blood for Italy.

Mazzini wrote home to England that the people were fretting for action, and would have risen already, "had he not been exceptionally prudent and calm"; in two months more he hoped to have sapped the influence of the royalists, and then "the field will be mine." In August he was in the Engadin, arranging for insurrection in the Valtellin and the Como hill country. But the Swiss police broke up the conspirators, and Mazzini narrowly escaped capture as he came by the Julier diligence to Chur.

His hopes of Austrian isolation were soon dashed. Austria nominally joined the Western alliance, and Piedmont followed her into it and sent a contingent to the Crimea. He was bitterly disappointed, and relieved himself in angry criticisms on English and Piedmontese policy. Against Piedmont he turned with sheer passionate bitterness. Cavour's adhesion to the alliance puzzled his own followers; and even now it is not easy to be sure as to its wisdom, still less as to its morality. But at all events everyone else recognised that the Crimea was intended to be "the road to Lombardy." Mazzini, blinded by his partisanship, saw only proof that Cavour's sympathies were more with the oppressors than the oppressed.

For the moment all seemed to him a hopeless blank. His soul was "wasting in a decline," and he longed to find mechanical work to drug the pain, or break into some desperate action. "I am dreaming of, raving, raging about action, physical action," he wrote. "I am sick of the world and all its concerns, and want to protest." "Literally," he wrote to another friend, "life weighs on me. My feeling towards my country, right or wrong, is intolerable. If I were younger, I would be on a mountain to protest, with twenty or thirty more. As I am, I can only eat myself away, and pretend to smile, to avoid torturing others." Next year (1856) his hopes suddenly revived. There seemed a chance that Cavour would secretly assist an insurrection against the Duke of Modena in the Carrara country. Through this and the two following years the premier had intermittent plans to foment a rising there, which would lead to annexation of the borderland, or be twisted into a casus belli with Austria and force Louis Napoleon to send his army across the Alps. He allowed Mazzini to visit Genoa, and carried on communications with him there. What were the details of the plot, we have no means of knowing; but at all events it was impossible to come to terms. "The Piedmontese government," Mazzini wrote to England, "are a plague. I am indirectly in contact with them and trying all sorts of concessions, but it is of no use. My own position is extremely delicate and difficult between their party and the extreme men of our own. I have now sent a sort of ultimatum to them, which will compromise them, if accepted, or leaves me free, if not." When the rupture came, he turned to his plans for revolutionising the South. For two years past he had been industriously connecting the threads of conspiracy, that Crispi and others had laid in Sicily and Naples. He had met Garibaldi in London, and discussed plans with him for an expedition to the island; and Garibaldi had promised to go, if the Sicilians revolted and Cavour was willing to cooperate. Again there seemed a hope that the premier would secretly assist. Every patriot saw the danger of Napoleon's fitful scheme to put his cousin, Lucien Murat, on the throne of Naples; and Cavour, though he dared not openly oppose, would gladly see the scheme checkmated, and he had his own plans for adding Sicily to Victor Emmanuel's kingdom. He seems to have promised funds for Mazzini's design, but again from some unexplained cause he drew back. Mazzini refused to give up his scheme, and indeed the Genoese conspirators were too impatient for action to desist, whether he wished it or not. He went to England to raise money for the project, and returned to Genoa to mature it. Carlo Pisacane, his friend and fellow-exile, a Neapolitan duke with socialist theories that little accorded with his own, was to seize a steamer plying between Genoa and Sardinia, and make for Calabria, there to join hands with the insurgents in the South and raise the country in the name of Unity. The plot was linked to a more questionable plan. It was proposed that the conspirators, who stayed behind, should seize the forts at Genoa and Leghorn and obtain munitions to send on to Pisacane. Mazzini realised the peril of the business, the risk of civil war, the certainty that the movement would be understood as one for the republic rather than for unity. But he easily allowed himself to be persuaded into it. It would, he thought, at all events prove the solidarity of North and South, force on a war with Austria, and prevent the French alliance; and he had a hardly avowed hope that the movement might after all make for a republic. So, taking careful precautions to avoid reprisals on the Genoese conservatives, and prevent if possible a conflict with the troops, he threw himself into the mad plot. Pisacane seized the Cagliari, and went to his doom. Mazzini, finding that the government had scent of the design on the forts, tried to stop it at the last moment; but it was too late, and the fatuous attempt ended in some street fighting and a little loss of life. The government struck at its fellow-conspirators of a few months back with a severity, that did little credit to its honesty. It deliberately misrepresented the movement as anarchist. Mazzini and five more, who escaped, were sentenced in contumacy to death; others were sent to long terms of imprisonment. Mazzini took refuge in the house of the Marquis Ernesto Pareto, a relative of the minister of 1848, who concealed him successfully, though the police searched his house and probed the mattresses and the Marchioness' wardrobes with their swords. The story went that Mazzini, disguised as a footman, opened the door to the police-officer who proved to be an old school-fellow and probably recognised him. Some days after he walked out of the house without disguise, arm-in-arm with a Genoese lady, asked the sentry for a light for his cigar, and drove away unsuspected to Quarto, where he remained in safe hiding, till the news of Pisacane's disaster reached him.
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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:23 am

Chapter 10: Unity Half Won

1858-1860. AETAT 53-55

The war of 1859—At Florence—Plans for the South—Garibaldi's Expedition—Projected raid into Umbria—At Naples.

Mazzini returned to England, weary and sad, but not discouraged, and convinced that success was only a question of opportunity and management. He recognised how strongly the tide was setting towards the royalists, but he still thought he had the working classes with him. Cavour's double play and the cruel repression of the Genoese plot left him bitterer than ever against the monarchy and its men. "I have never loved you," he wrote in an open letter to the premier; "now I despise you." He attacked more angrily still the fast-cementing alliance with France. The Emperor was maturing his plans to drive the Austrians out of Italy. It was not, as Mazzini thought, mere policy alone that moved him. No doubt, his waning prestige at home, and the fear that another Orsini might arise, both had their influence; but he was still true in a way to his nationalist ideals, and since he had sacrificed Poland to the Russian alliance, he was the more eager to free Italy and Hungary. Mazzini, through his private channels of information, was among the first to have an inkling of the compact between Cavour and the Emperor at Plombières, but, as usual, his information was inaccurate. He believed, quite wrongly, as we know now, that they had agreed to leave Venetia to Austria and give Central Italy to Prince Napoleon, and that Cavour had offered to surrender the parliamentary liberties of Piedmont as the price of Lombardy; he had no knowledge that Napoleon had promised that half the Pope's territory should pass to Victor Emmanuel's crown.

Events moved fast. In the spring of 1859, thanks to Cavour's unscrupulous but supremely skilful diplomacy, war was imminent, and all Italy was fretting for it. Cavour was hardy and shrewd enough to use the revolutionary elements, on whose value Mazzini had laid insistent stress. The volunteers flocked to Piedmont with Garibaldi for their general, and, except for Mazzini and Crispi and a stranded handful, the republicans declared definitely for Victor Emmanuel's leadership. Even Mazzini was sometimes carried by the tide. He told his English friends that royalists and republicans were aiming equally at Unity; he appealed to the Piedmontese statesmen to pronounce for the greater policy, and if the French alliance broke down, he was prepared to support them. But he could not reconcile himself to the hated Emperor's help. Shutting his eyes to the hard facts, he thought that Piedmont could defeat Austria with no other allies than the hesitating revolutionaries of Hungary. To ask assistance from a despot blighted the country's self-respect; to win its freedom, save by its own unaided strength, dishonoured it at the birth; and it were small gain to change the tyranny of Austria for the domineering patronage of France. "I am equally hostile to Austria and to Napoleon," he wrote; "and my double aim is to get rid, if possible, of both." When war was declared, Cavour and he both said, "the die is cast"; Cavour added, "we have made history," Mazzini "we are beaten." But when the fighting began, when, in spite of his previsions, the enthusiasm swept through the land, and for a moment Louis Napoleon was, next to the king and Garibaldi, the hero of his countrymen, he could not hold back. Be it right or wrong, the best must be made of the war; it might yet, in the end, make Italy. Modena and Parma, Romagna and Tuscany had driven out their princes and declared for Victor Emmanuel's rule. While the armies were winning Lombardy and Venetia, he wished to see the popular forces overrun all the Centre and make an end of the Temporal Power. He appealed to his friends at Naples to revolutionise the South, though he urged that they should not annex themselves to Piedmont, while the war lasted. After Solferino he was very hopeful. "The Austrian domination in Italy," he said, "is at an end."

Suddenly came the great betrayal of Villafranca. Louis Napoleon, afraid of defeat in Venetia, afraid of an attack from Prussia, repentant of his promises to Cavour, made peace with Austria, and abandoned Venetia to the enemy and Central Italy to the fugitive princes. Mazzini took credit for prophesying it; and what came of the Emperor's timidity and the real difficulties of the situation, he regarded as the pre-determined treachery of Plombières. Relying again on his imperfect private information, he thought he had discovered an understanding between France and Russia to partition Europe into spheres of influence, and that Villafranca was a prelude to a triple alliance of the three Empires. He fulminated against "the European coup d'état"; he appealed to English fears, and preached a league of England, Prussia, and the smaller states in defence of Italian freedom. At home he urged a truce to party feeling and the completing of the work in despite of France and Austria. He voiced the feeling of the country. Cavour had resigned in hot anger at the Emperor's desertion; but his influence was still very powerful, and he and the King and the men, who were at the head of affairs at Florence and Modena, were no less determined than the democrats that at least Central Italy should be saved. All through the autumn their obstinate stand baffled the Emperor's half-hearted veto, and pushed on the feeble men, who now held office at Turin. The key of the position was at Florence, and Ricasoli, the stark Tuscan baron, who was practically dictator there, believed with a faith as fearless as Mazzini's own that Italian Unity, pregnant with mighty issues for the world, was written in the decrees of God. He too detested Napoleon, and was determined not to flinch for all his threats.

Mazzini hurried to Florence, and arrived there early in August. The Piedmontese government, to its shame, had excluded the greatest of living Italians from the amnesty, which it granted at the beginning of the war; but Ricasoli allowed Mazzini to remain unmolested, on his parole that his presence at Florence should not be publicly known. There was not a little in common between the two men,—both stainless in their private lives, brave, honest, single-minded patriots. They were, indeed, too uncompromising to work together; but they sincerely respected each other, and Ricasoli had none of the narrowness, that made the Turin statesmen shrink from contact with a democrat. Mazzini's policy was the same as it had been during the war. The people must make the movement as far as possible their own. He addressed to them a rhapsodical appeal to nerve themselves for the great work. "You are called," he said, "to a task like the tasks of God, the creation of a people." The free provinces of the Centre must hold fast to their freedom. Louis Napoleon, he knew, could not enforce his veto; the Powers would accept accomplished facts; the danger of an Austrian attack he said little of. At heart, though, he knew that the perils were thicker than he publicly owned, and he confessed in private letters that "the position was more than difficult," that, if the suggested Congress of the Powers met and declared in favour of the exiled princes, Italy could only make an ineffectual "protest in action." He almost hoped that Napoleon would use force after all, and that a war with France would come to simplify the situation.

With a good deal of hesitation, he was prepared to support annexation to Piedmont. He promised to foment no republican agitation, so long as the royalists marched towards Unity; and he wrote the King an irritating but dignified appeal to have done with the subserviency to France and bid openly for the crown of Italy. "The day you speak this language," he said, "parties will disappear; there will be only two living forces in Italy,—the People and yourself." He does not seem however to have really expected to win him. "The King," he wrote privately in reference to the letter, "is wavering and weak, but on him I did not reckon." Victor Emmanuel appears, though, to have read the appeal and taken it to heart, and perhaps it had its influence on the events that followed. Mazzini's supreme aim was to spread the movement for Unity. If the government would not act, the people must do the work themselves. He wanted to make Tuscany and Romagna the base for an invasion of the Pope's remaining territory; and then—onward to Naples and the South. The hope was shared by all the democrats and many of the moderates; but with Mazzini it meant something even more than Unity. It meant the triumph of religious liberty at Rome, the downfall of "the Vicar of the Genius of Evil," the chance that on the wreck of the Papacy Rome would send forth the gospel of the new religion. "The liberty of Rome," he wrote, "is the liberty of the world. If Rome revolts, she must proclaim the victory of God over Idols, of eternal Truth over Falsehood, the inviolability of the human conscience." He urged his English and German friends to stir public opinion against the French occupation of Rome, and put pressure on Napoleon in the name of the principle of non-intervention.

Meanwhile he sent his agents to prepare a Sicilian rising, and agitated feverishly for an advance of Garibaldi and the troops of the Central States into Umbria, which the Papal volunteers had recovered from the nationalists. He had thoughts of leading the invasion himself, but he feared that his name "would frighten the mass of the people," and he humoured Garibaldi by promising to make him the hero of the movement and "abdicating my own individuality, which is the easiest part." He won Farini, the dictator of Modena, once a member of Young Italy, to countenance the raid. He tried to win Ricasoli, but Ricasoli, though he had threatened to join hands with Mazzini rather than let Tuscany lose its freedom, knew that the dangers of a forward movement were too great at present, that if the Pope were attacked, the outcry of Catholic Europe would compel Napoleon to withdraw his indispensable, however irritating, patronage, and that Italy would find herself caught in a hopeless single-handed fight with Austria. His own strong will and the King's common-sense stopped Garibaldi's projects. Mazzini, ignorant of the real position, underrated the difficulties in the way; he never realised the strength of Catholic opinion, he thought that Austria was not in a position to fight, or that, if she did, it meant an uprising of all Italy and her eventual defeat. He charged the King's veto to mere truckling to Napoleon. But he felt his own powerlessness. He was incensed by the harshness, with which the government had treated some of his friends, by the intolerance that drove himself to live in hiding. "To be a prisoner among our own people is too much to bear." "I have never," he wrote, "felt so wretched and worn out in mind and soul as at certain moments now." Ricasoli intimated that he must leave Tuscany, and hopeless of doing any good there, he left for Lugano and returned to England at the end of the year.

His ideas had passed to men more competent to execute them. In January Cavour was again prime minister, resolute to have Unity with Rome for the capital, prepared, if the Emperor deserted him, to attack Austria, rouse Hungary in her rear, and, so he hoped in sanguine moments, "go to Vienna." But he knew how heavy was the stake, and he would keep the Emperor's protection if he could. When he found that Napoleon would guarantee the annexation of the free provinces at the price of Nice and Savoy, he sadly and reluctantly consented to the humiliating bargain. Mazzini read him by his despatches, and knew nothing of his real ambitions. He thought that the premier was opposed to Unity, even to the annexation of Tuscany, that he clung to the French alliance to safeguard himself from democracy at home. He was indignant at the cession of Savoy, bartered without reference to the wishes of its people, still more at the desertion of Italian Nice. He was eager to drive from office the man, on whom depended the attainment of his hopes. He was right, however, in thinking that Cavour could not initiate the revolution in the South, that the government would only follow up what the free lances began; and he was willing to make the road easier for it, by promising, when revolution broke out in the South, to support annexation to Piedmont and leave Rome alone for the present. He was persuaded that Austria would not attack, and that the Bourbon army would dissolve or join the insurgents.

The programme seemed so simple, that he hoped to unite all the democrats upon it. But the saner men among them saw that, as usual, Mazzini had underrated the danger. They knew that it meant harder fighting than he supposed, and they dreaded a repetition of his earlier ill-starred risings. They insisted that, if the volunteers went to Sicily, Garibaldi must lead them and Cavour's moral support must be secured. Mazzini was ready to welcome Garibaldi's leadership, though there was no very cordial feeling between them; but he knew how reluctant Garibaldi was to go, and he refused to let the movement hang on any one man's action. Early in March, while Garibaldi was still hesitating, [26] he sent Rosalino Pilo, a young Sicilian noble, to lead the insurgents in the island, spending every available shilling of his own in the preparations. He was terribly overwrought and excited, for he must have realised something of the tremendous danger and responsibility; and he travelled to Lugano to be nearer the scene of action. There he learnt that his long efforts had had their fruit, that the impatience he had done so much to rouse had borne down Garibaldi's doubts, and that he and his Thousand had started for Sicily. "God be praised," he wrote, "Italy is not dead." When the news came of Garibaldi's victory at Calatafimi, "Sicily saves us," he said, "Italy will be."

On May 7, two days after Garibaldi started, he arrived at Genoa, still compelled to live in hiding, and able to see his friends only by night. Characteristically, he amused himself in leisure moments by taming sparrows, which came to him at meal-times, followed by two hens ("I have always been fond of hens," he writes), "whom I feed after dinner, sometimes with bread and wine to strengthen their constitutions against shocks and adversities." He was not welcomed by the men who had organised the expedition, and he found himself regarded as "a self-intruding man," he who was ever ready to take the risk and give others the honour, who was bracing his frail body only by sheer sense of duty. "God knows," he wrote, "that morally and physically exhausted as I am, everything I do is a real effort." But the suspicion of his motives was inevitable. Absolutely disinterested as he was, ever ready to spend and be spent, he was again playing an ill-informed and equivocal part, thrusting in his unwise projects among the well-laid schemes of shrewder men; and those who had organised Garibaldi's movement with consummate skill—Bertani and Medici and Bixio—felt that his independent action might spoil the game. [27] He clung to his insensate prejudice against Cavour, at a time when Cavour,—with whatever lapse of political morality,—was straining every nerve to back Garibaldi and win all Italy. In his persistent distrust of the government and its connections with the Emperor, he wanted to act independently of though not in hostility to the monarchy, and while he urged annexation in Sicily to checkmate the separatists in the island, he was eager to prevent it on the mainland, and reserved his freedom to preach his own doctrines there. While Garibaldi snatched victory after victory against tremendous odds in Sicily, he was planning a raid into Papal territory, more or less under his own direction; his volunteers, he hoped, would not only free the rest of Central Italy and attack the Bourbons from the North, but would create an influence, independent alike of Cavour and Garibaldi, which might perhaps in the chapter of accidents upset the monarchy, or at least compel it to break with France. He did not suspect how perilous the situation was, that it was still only Louis Napoleon's protection, that stood between Italy and a terrible conflict with Austria in the North and Bourbons in the South, with utter disaster as its almost certain sequel. Ricasoli and, it seems, the King [28] gave some countenance to the raid, for which Mazzini and Bertani were, with Garibaldi's approval, completing the preparations. But Cavour knew that it meant the forfeiture of the Emperor's friendship, and arranged with Bertani, who was throughout lukewarm for the scheme, terms which would at all events save his own credit with the Emperor. The force, which had been destined for the Papal coast, sailed to join Garibaldi in Sicily. Mazzini either did not know of the agreement or refused to be bound by it; he went to Florence, where another body of volunteers was waiting in the neighbourhood ready to cross the frontier, and intended to lead them to a desperate attack on Perugia. Cavour insisted that the men should be disbanded, and Ricasoli, tempering the premier's orders, persuaded them to go to Garibaldi.

Less than a month after, the Piedmontese declared war against the Pope, and Fanti,—Mazzini's follower once in the days of the Savoy raid,—overran such of the Pope's remaining territory as was not occupied by the French. Garibaldi, victoriously advancing from the South, had entered Naples, and save for Rome and its neighbourhood and a small district held by the remnants of the Bourbon army, all the Centre and the South were free. Austria, frightened by Napoleon's threats, had been a passive spectator, while her allies were crushed. Italian Unity was nearly won, but the splendid consummation was dashed by the dread of civil strife. Garibaldi, careless of obstacles, was impatient to march on to Rome; Cavour knew that that meant war with France and would have it at no cost. Crispi and Bertani were trying to organise the South in an opposition to Cavour and his party, that might easily take a republican colour. Mazzini went to Naples, and warmly backed them. He urged Garibaldi to go on, though by preference to Venice rather than to Rome, for he saw now almost as acutely as Cavour did the danger of a conflict with France. If Garibaldi advances, he wrote to England, "we shall have Unity within five months; if he does not, we shall have slumber, then anarchy, then—a little later—Unity." He appealed to the Neapolitans to save the principle of popular sovereignty by conditioning their annexation to Victor Emmanuel's crown with the stipulation that an Italian National Assembly should meet to draw up a new constitution. The cry was a futile and dangerous one, for the mass of the people were impatient for annexation on any terms; and with trouble threatening the young country on every side, it were madness to throw its future into the melting-pot of the constitution-mongers. It was easy to paint Mazzini as an enemy of Unity; and a Neapolitan mob shouted 'death' under the windows of the man, who had given everything for them. Pallavicino, the pro-dictator, Manin's old co-worker and Garibaldi's friend, courteously appealed to him to leave. "Even against your wish," he said, "you divide us." Mazzini refused to waive an Italian's right to live on Italian soil; and he was molested no more. Garibaldi indignantly intervened on his behalf; the King probably protected him. "Leave Mazzini alone," he had said, "if we make Italy, he is powerless; if we cannot, let him do it, and I will be Monsù Savoia and clap my hands for him." But Mazzini was bitterly pained and weary of it all. "I am worn out morally and physically," he wrote; "for myself the only really good thing would be to have unity achieved quickly through Garibaldi, and one year before dying of Walham Green [29] or Eastbourne, long silences, a few affectionate words to smooth the ways, plenty of sea-gulls, and sad dozing." Early in November, after a friendly interview with Garibaldi, at which they laid their schemes for winning Rome and Venice, he left Naples.
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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

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Chapter 11: For Venice

1861-1866. AETAT 56-61.

Policy after 1860—Disappointment in Italy—Rome and Venice—Attitude towards the monarchy—Life in England—the Greco plot—American and Irish politics—Mazzini and Garibaldi—Overtures from Victor Emmanuel—The war of 1866.

Mazzini's remaining life is one of melancholy pathos. He could not rest, till Unity was accomplished. Aged and often very ill and suffering, longing for quiet and literature, he braced his frail body and unhappy soul to the fret and weariness and disillusioning of politics. Could one be sure that it profited country or mankind, one would rest content, knowing that he had chosen the hard path and never flinched. But it was—at all events in the near results—a grievous waste. Those splendid faculties were worn, as he would sometimes own himself, in rolling the stone of Sisyphus. Had he given these years to the book on religion, that he ever kept in mind, to building up "the church of the precursors," he might perhaps have done a thing yet greater than the making of Italy. His political work henceforth was mostly thrown away; for, as he said, his star was the Dog, and his business "to bark, generally without being heard." Gloriously right in his ideals, he marred it all by ignorance of facts. His nearer vision failed in blinding partisanship, in his obdurate hatred of Louis Napoleon and suspicion of the Italian statesmen. He could not see that the royalists were aiming at Unity almost as seriously and more wisely than himself, that Louis Napoleon wished to be his country's friend, and that the Emperor's hesitations and backslidings were concessions to the relentless pressure of Catholic opinion. He could not escape from his own past, he had a feverish, unreasoned craving for a single form of action, he could not see that conspiracy and insurrection, which had their justification and chance of success twenty years ago, had neither now. It is perhaps never easy for one man to be both idealist and statesman,—for Mazzini, with his passion and inflexibility, least of all. He could not leave it to other men to achieve his ideals in their own way. He had a dangerous belief that he had "the instinct of the situation," and would never own in politics that others might have their fragment of the truth. This obstinate rebellion—covert or open—against the verdict of his countrymen,—was it the heroism of the one righteous man, or was it, as one of his old friends called it, "a huge egotistical presumption?" Or was it rather the noble error of one, who, with his mind fixed on the highest, scorns the high? Who shall say, who does best service for humanity, he who seeks the small attainable, or he who 'heaven's success finds or earth's failure?'

Mazzini knew that he had failed in the near results. He was a disappointed man. He had indeed the pride that his utopia had come so near accomplishment. But it had come by another way than that which he had marked for it, it had fallen very short of what he looked for. He had idealised his country in his mighty love, till disillusion was inevitable. "I saw," he wrote, "a great void in Europe, a void of any community of belief or of faith, and therefore of initiative and worship of duty and solemn moral principles, of great ideas and potent action for the classes which produce most and yet which are most wretched; and I thought that Italy would rise and save Europe, and, soon as it breathed its own new life, would say to itself and others, 'I will fill that void.'" "Little it matters to me," he wrote to "Daniel Stern," "that Italy, a territory of so many square leagues, eats its corn and cabbages cheaper; little I care for Rome, if a great European initiative is not to issue from it. What I do care for is that Italy shall be great and good, moral and virtuous, that she comes to fulfil a mission in the world." So he had dreamed, and woke to find it but a dream. In bitter exaggeration he reproached his countrymen for being "less than their fathers and their destinies." In his favourite phrase, new Italy had found its inspiration not in Dante but in Macchiavelli. There was no high principle, no true religion, no sense of freedom's dignity. His criticism was partly a true one. The feeble statesmen, who succeeded Cavour and Ricasoli, opportunists almost all, some of them mere tricksters, may well have roused his anger and contempt. The country had become the hunting-ground of office-hunters and speculators, who, as Giuditta Sidoli said, "have made Italy and now are eating it." The antagonism of North and South, the jealousy of Piedmont, the brigandage, the financial chaos were symptoms of a dangerous discontent. Few cared for the great moral hopes, the "living apostolate" of Italy. But Mazzini did not understand the value of the sane, wholesome patriotism, that had made Italy in its own way, or see how great the step had been, that had brought the country political and social freedom. In his absorption in the political question, he paid at this time small attention to the social changes that were going on; he never alludes to the great cooperative movement, that was beginning in Italy in these years.

But beyond all this, Unity was not complete, and its completion was the one thing necessary. The triumph of nationality, the cause of morality and religion, alike in Italy and Europe, depended, he believed, on the winning of Rome and Venice. "I have to kill myself with work," he wrote, "for Venice, for Rome, for the republic, in order to make the instrument." The winning of Rome meant the downfall of the Papacy, the triumph of liberty of conscience, the dawn of a new religion. The winning of Venetia meant the break-up of the Austrian Empire, and a great reconstruction of Central and Eastern Europe, in which Italy would prove her mission as the "guide of oppressed nationalities." "Providence," he said, "has written that the function of initiative is a necessary condition of the life of Italy. We cannot live without a European life; if we free ourselves, we must free others. We must be great or perish." For Rome he was willing to wait. Wiser than Garibaldi, he saw that any attempt to win it by force meant war at once with France and Austria, and he knew that that meant ruin. His Roman policy was at bottom that of the Piedmontese statesmen,—to secure the withdrawal of the French by the force of public opinion. He urged that there should be "a temperate but weighty remonstrance" from parliament, backed by half a million Italian signatures. He prompted petitions in England to ask the government to use its influence in the same direction,—a spur that Lord John Russell hardly needed. But he rightly saw that Venice must take precedence. Italy, he thought, was strong enough to fight Austria alone, and he made extravagant calculations as to their relative military strength. Only there must be no French alliance, no more paltering with the false prophet of nationality. Cavour and his successors, except for brief backslidings, were at one with him in the resolve never to call in again the dangerous help of France. But he would not believe this, and he hoped both to make the French alliance impossible and force the government into war with Austria, by fomenting a rising in Venetia or encouraging volunteers under Garibaldi to attack it. Italy's allies must be the nationalities of the East, which had a common interest with her in breaking up the Austrian Empire,—an idea which he shared with the King and Cavour and others of the Italian statesmen. If Venetia and the Balkan countries rose, Hungary would follow, and "war with Austria would dissolve the Empire in twenty days." With Austria, Turkey would go too, for the two despotisms, he held, must stand or fall together. The Polish rising of 1863 made him still more impatient. His love of "poor, sacred Poland" was strong as in the days of Young Europe. Forgetting that a resuscitated Poland was bound to add its weight to the Catholic and anti-Italian coalition, he reproached his countrymen for their indifference to the people, which had sent its sons to fight for Italy; and he tried to charter a steamer to take a cargo of arms to a Lithuanian port. He industriously encouraged the pro-Polish movement in England, and talked of organising a Hyde Park meeting.

At home, he was still for some years yet willing to suspend any open republican agitation. He indeed attacked the government with increasing acerbity; he fretted at its delays, he was irritated by the libels of the royalist press. But though he held the monarchy to be the source of all the trouble, he would not openly declare against it. He kept up a secret republican propagandism in view of future possibilities, but so long as there was any hope that the monarchy would go to Venice and Rome, he would not harass it by a barren agitation. He knew in fact, that, so long as that hope remained, the "ice-wall" of popular timidity made the republic impossible, and he was angrily attacked by the intransigents for his saner view. He was anxious for the present even to postpone any agitation for reform, though he pleaded insistently that, when the work of unity was done, a Constituent Parliament should meet to draw up a "national pact," which was apparently to be an ill-defined constitution, temporarily admitting a democratic monarchy, and defining the social duties of the country and the respective functions of state and local bodies. He had a bold domestic programme, whose chief articles were a universal volunteer system, the nationalisation of railways, mines, church lands, and "some great industrial undertakings," state encouragement for productive cooperative societies, and a reorganisation of local government on a basis of some twelve large "regions" and big, amalgamated communes.

Meanwhile, save for an occasional visit to Switzerland, he was living in England, where he returned after leaving Naples at the end of 1860. Here in new lodgings at 2 Onslow Terrace, Brompton, he returned to the old life of the fifties. The days were spent in the weary round of letter-writing, but it was often a physical torture now, and failing eyesight made it impossible to go on after dark. In the evening he had two hours' reading, then went to the Stansfelds' neighbouring house in Thurlow Square, to return home at eleven and read his letters and the Italian papers. His personal life was more and more a struggle with failing health. Earlier attacks he had conquered by force of will. "Make an effort of will and be well; I have often successfully done so," he wrote once to a friend; and again, "I hear that you are rather unwell. Don't. It is absurd to be ill, while nations are struggling for liberty." He had always scorned medicine and doctors, and had an especial detestation for "that infernal irony of homæopathy, for which Hahnemann must atone somehow, somewhere." But now he had often to succumb to an internal trouble, which brought acute pain and sometimes prostrated him. He no doubt smoked too much, and a few years after this Lloyd Garrison tried in vain to break him off the habit. Rheumatism made him "stiff like an English statesman." He could not eat his landlady's ill-cooked dinners, and hid the untouched food rather than hurt her feelings. Now and again he would feel he had "more than ever the ardour of a young man with all the obstinacy of an old one"; more often he knew that work was killing him, and he had a recurring presentiment that he would not live through each new year. He had financial troubles again to worry him. His small annuity was not enough to meet his heavy doctor's bills, and a royalty, which he had been receiving for the collected edition of his writings, failed through the unwillingness or inability to pay of his Milanese publisher. A subscription was raised for him in Italy, but it was passed on to his Venetian fund, and probably most of the £500, that were collected for him in England in 1866, went to public purposes. Serene and cheerful as ever on the outside, he had moods of great depression. "I am sick of men and things," he wrote, "and long for a desperate peace." "Morally," he writes to "Daniel Stern," with whom he began a steady correspondence at this time, "I am always the same, given up to work without enthusiasm, from a sense of duty; expecting nothing, hoping for nothing in the scrap of individual life left me; loving and recognising those I love, [30] not for the joy but for the sorrow they can give me; believing, as in early youth, in the future I have dreamed of for Italy and the world; sick at the present, but resigned and calm, if people don't talk too much of materialist pantheism or tactics or happiness or French music." When Lincoln was assassinated, he contrasted sadly with himself the man who died in the knowledge that his cause had triumphed.

His literary work at this time was unimportant, for politics and sickness used up his strength; but his longings went, as ever, to a life of study. "I should like," he wrote, "to drag myself from library to library, from one monastic archives to another, to unearth some lines of a great forgotten thinker, Joachim for instance." Mystical writers, like Joachim and Eckhart, attracted him more strongly than ever; and he seems to have joined an esoteric society in Italy, which had Dante for its spiritual chief. Modern spiritualism, however, only irritated him; "when men have ceased to believe in God," he said, "God pays them out by making them believe in Cagliostro or table-turning."

His admiration of English life was stronger than ever. He held up for Italian imitation its freedom of life and thought, notwithstanding his suspicions that his letters still ran the risk of being tampered with in the English Post-Office. He had words of praise even for the monarchy and aristocracy, but predicted that the growing power of financial magnates would prove the death of both. It was about this time that he became again a prominent figure in English politics. A Calabrian, named Greco, attempted to assassinate Louis Napoleon. Mazzini had had no part in or knowledge of the plot; but he had known Greco in the past, and letters from him were found on the assassin. The French police caught at the opportunity to bring odium on him and inculpate Stansfeld, whose name and address were found in one of his letters. Without any particle of evidence to connect the letters with the plot, the French court condemned Mazzini; and the Tories and Irish in the House of Commons gleefully used the handle given them to discredit his English friend. Stansfeld, who was a member of the government, resigned office rather than embarrass his colleagues, but the insincerity of the attack was as clear as its audacious shamelessness. The incident had its sequel of comedy, when Disraeli, who had been foremost in denouncing the imagined sympathy with assassination, was confronted with a Revolutionary Epick of his own youthful days, in which he had blessed "the regicidal steel."

Mazzini keenly watched the American Civil War. He had for many years felt intensely about slavery, and he now gave his sympathy and subscription to the London Emancipation Society, which was enlisting English sympathy for the North. "I believe," he wrote to his friend, Mr W. Malleson, who was its Secretary, "that in these times of ours there are three things, against which a man ought to protest before dying, if he wants to die in peace with his own conscience: slavery—capital punishment—and the actual either narrow or hypocritical condition of the religious question." "Abolition," he wrote to Mr Moncure Conway, "is the religious consecration of your battles." But he was not equally enthusiastic for the Union. In curious inconsistency with his usual preference for big nations, he thought that America was "wide enough for two or three eventual sisterly confederations." When the war was over, he implored the Americans not to impair their victory by refusing the vote to the negroes, though they should see that education went hand in hand with it. Again, as in 1854, he was eager that America should come into world politics, and help to build up the future Europe of nationality and the republic. "You," he said, "have become a leading nation. You may act as such. In the great battle which is fought throughout the world between right and wrong, justice and arbitrary rule, equality and privilege, duty and egotism, republic and monarchy, truth and lies, God and idols, your part is marked; you must accept it." He hoped that they would upset Napoleon's Mexican scheme, which meant "Imperialism at their own door"; at the time of the suggested Anglo-French intervention, when American feeling was bitter against England, he wrote, "war with England would be a crime and a fault; war for Mexico a holy thing." Shortly before Lincoln's assassination, he and Ledru Rollin and Karl Blind wrote to the President, urging the danger to the Union that threatened from Mexico, and suggesting a cooperation with the democrats of Europe, that would weaken or upset Napoleon. Apparently the plan was that the Americans should invade Mexico, while their unofficial allies stirred a republican movement in France or organised an attack on Rome. Lincoln seems to have listened to the suggestion not unfavourably. When the Northern army disbanded after the war, Mazzini would have liked to see the men go as volunteers to aid the Mexicans, and the government "whisper" that it would follow. "It would have done more than anything towards the fraternisation of North and South, and the negroes would have won then, undisputed, the right to the suffrage."

A few years later, he was much concerned in the fate of the Fenian prisoners. "I am feeling," he writes, "between the unhappy and the furious about the Fenians condemned. To-day, I think, is the Queen's birthday. Does she read a newspaper? Cannot she find a womanly feeling in her heart and ask the Cabinet to commute the punishment? In point of fact, the killing of these men will prove an absolute fault [mistake]. Burke will be the Robert Emmet of 1867. A feeling of revenge will rekindle the energy of the discouraged Fenians. The dream will become, through martyrdom, a sort of religion. But that is not my ground. It is the legal murder reenacted against a thought, a thought which ought to be refuted, destroyed by thought only. Burke and others are genuine believers in Irish nationality. I think they are philosophically and politically wrong; but are we to refute a philosophical error with hanging?" After their reprieve he wrote, "You have been spared the infamy of Burke's execution. I am glad of it; I have a weakness for England, and did not like the shame for her."

Mazzini's active political work in these years was given almost wholly to the winning of Venetia. Before he left Naples in 1860, he and Garibaldi had agreed to agitate for an attack on either Venetia or Rome in the following year. But the jealousy, that was always latent between the two, prevented any cordial cooperation. The fault was very little on Mazzini's side. He must have felt it, that Garibaldi, whose work for the country was so small beside his own, had eclipsed himself in the nation's imagination; but he was ever ready to let him take the honour and keep himself in the background. Once get Garibaldi with the volunteers, he said, "and he may send me to the devil the day after." But Garibaldi had always some grievance to nurse, and he had not forgotten the friction at Rome in 1849. Mazzini's theories irritated him, and he dubbed him "the great doctrinaire." The most easily led of men, "weak beyond expression," as Mazzini truly said of him, he hated it to be thought that he was under anybody's influence; and Mazzini complained with cause that "if Garibaldi has to choose between two proposals, he is sure to accept the one that isn't mine." The mischief-makers, who always clustered round the hermit of Caprera, did their best to feed his prejudices. And though the two men were both burning to free Venice and Rome, they had radical differences as to the means. Garibaldi believed in the King; Mazzini's faith in him was very limited. Garibaldi wanted to have an understanding with the government; Mazzini generally wished to act independently. He saw that the patriots must concentrate on the freeing of Venice; Garibaldi was ever running back to his cherished design of marching to Rome, or, if he temporarily abandoned it, he leaned to some knight-errant enterprise in Eastern Europe, where he could attack Austria from the rear.

Meanwhile Minghetti and the less statesmanlike section of the Moderates,—a tepid, craven, weak-principled crew,—wanted to stamp out the democratic agitation; and it was left comparatively unmolested, thanks only to the bigger outlook of Ricasoli, who had become premier after Cavour's death. Had Ricasoli remained in office, he would have amnestied Mazzini from the sentence of 1857; and the greatest of living Italians would have been no longer a felon in his own country. But Ricasoli was driven from office by a cabal; and Rattazzi, who succeeded him, was too much under bond to Louis Napoleon to pardon the Emperor's enemy. Rattazzi began a double game with Garibaldi, which ended, as Mazzini had predicted, in "a solemn mystification" and the catastrophe of Aspromonte. Mazzini was opposed to the whole foolhardy business, and among his English friends condemned it in strong language; but apparently he helped to collect funds for Garibaldi, and when once Garibaldi took up the cry of "Rome or Death," he thought it his duty to help. The day after the volunteers crossed from Sicily on the tragi-comic march for Rome, he left London to join them. He had got as far as Lugano, when he heard that Italian soldiers had fired on them, and that Garibaldi lay stricken by an Italian bullet. His anguish at the pity of it all brought on delirium. The ghosts of martyr-patriots reproached him, as they had done in 1836; he cried that Garibaldi was dead, and his friends could not quiet his ravings. He recovered quickly, but broke into passionate denunciation of the government, scourging the monarchy as impotent and unwilling to make Italy, and threatening to raise the republican flag again.

The threat was forgotten, as he regained his calmness, and he returned to his old plan of a volunteer movement on Venetia, which the government would be compelled to follow. He was "silently raging at poor, brave Poland being left alone in the field," and hoped that an attack on Austria would save her. It was at this juncture,—in the spring of 1863,—that he received strange overtures for alliance from the King. The two men had always had a certain fascination for each other. Victor Emmanuel shared Mazzini's impatience to win Venetia, his hatred of Austria; he had something of the great agitator's wish to see the nationalities of Eastern Europe free. Both were irritated by the feeble Minghetti ministry, which had come into office after Aspromonte, half-hearted in its nationalist aspirations, dreading the democratic forces, which Cavour would have taken in hand and guided. The fellow-conspirators bargained hard, but, after months of tedious negotiation, they seem to have agreed that Mazzini should foment a rising in Venetia and waive meanwhile any republican movement, that the King should make his government supply arms to the insurgents and eventually declare war, while both would encourage a rising in Hungary or Galicia. It was impossible, however, to give effect to the alliance. The fact of the negotiations leaked out more or less. The Greco plot, though probably few believed that Mazzini was an accomplice, made it difficult for the King to treat with him. The ministers, morbidly afraid of any contact with the revolutionaries, and possibly aware that Mazzini had made their dismissal a condition of his cooperation, remonstrated; and indeed it shows the King's and Mazzini's small respect for parliamentary government that the personal treaty was attempted at all. The King was irritated at Mazzini's exigencies, and began to transfer his attentions to Garibaldi. Garibaldi at this moment (April 1864) was paying a long promised visit to England, where he had a mythical prestige almost as great as in his own country. As usual he was buffeted by the various influences that sought to capture him. The English Radicals wanted to use him for a series of popular demonstrations; Palmerston laid his schemes to keep him quiet in the hands of hosts, like the Duke of Sutherland and Charles Seely, the member for Lincoln, who would be responsible for his discreet behaviour. Victor Emmanuel, while still negotiating fitfully with Mazzini, sent his agents to persuade him to head a rising in Galicia; Mazzini wanted him for the Venetian movement. The worthy, puzzled man tried to please everybody, provided that he appeared to be managed by nobody. Mazzini wrote to him to begin his tour in the provinces at once, before he went to London; and met him, soon after he arrived, at Mr Seely's house in the Isle of Wight. There was a cordial reconciliation, and Mazzini thought he had won Garibaldi to his own scheme. At a breakfast given by Alexander Herzen, the one rich man among the exiles, at his house at Teddington, Garibaldi spoke of Mazzini as the counsellor of his youth and constant friend. The incident alarmed the English government, and their contemptible and dishonorable manœuvres secured Garibaldi's departure. Mazzini still supposed that Garibaldi was faithful to his scheme, and went to Lugano to forward the preparations for the Venetian insurrection.

Garibaldi, however, though he had given Mazzini no hint of his change of mind, had accepted the King's plan. The Duke of Sutherland's yacht took him to Ischia, where he was preparing to sail to the East, when the secret was given to the world; and the King, frightened by the publicity, hastily broke from the plot. Mazzini, though he tried to persuade Garibaldi to visit England again and make his abandoned provincial tour ("Newcastle is the best place"), was justly incensed at him and the King for their want of candour. He suspected, with good reason, that the ministry had fallen in with the Galician scheme, for the sake of getting Garibaldi out of the country and perhaps sending him to his death. He was "sick at heart of the equivocal position," and determined to "go on in a clearer path." Events helped to bring him back to frank hostility towards the government. The September Convention, most dishonouring and impolitic of treaties, was concluded, and it seemed to mark, as in the letter it did, a renunciation of the claims to Rome. He passionately denounced the surrender, the "policy of subterfuge and crooked ways," which threatened to founder Italy. "I prefer half a century of slavery to a national lie," he wrote. He was hoaxed into believing that the government had offered France a large slice of Piedmont to buy her acquiescence in any winning of Venice or Rome. He had a bitter quarrel with Crispi, who was fast sliding down the decline of respectability. Crispi had attacked him in the Chamber, as dividing the country by his republicanism. Mazzini wasted words in retorting on the opportunist, who yesterday had been most intransigent of republicans, and was now parading his new-found faith in the monarchy. He was inclined to break the slender threads, that connected him with the parliamentary Left, "who had laid aside their old democratic ardour to assume the icy demeanour of English members of parliament." But he still hesitated at any complete rupture with the monarchy, so long as any hope remained that the government would attack Austria.

It was doing better than he knew. The outcry at the September Convention had wrecked Minghetti's ministry, and under the brave and honest La Marmora there was some chance of going forward. The negotiations for the Prussian alliance were pushed on, and early in April 1866 the treaty was signed. Mazzini had preached co-operation with Germany in 1851 and 1861, but now he denounced the alliance with "men who represented despotism," an alliance which, he imagined, implied the abandonment of the claims to the Tyrol. He had information, which again was almost certainly inaccurate, as to the arrangement of Biarritz, and "knew from positive information" that Italy had promised to cede Sardinia and part of Piedmont to France, as the price of Napoleon's help. Much, however, as he disliked the diplomacy, still it was a war for Venice, and he urged his followers to join the volunteers. If the war ended in victory, they could then march on to Rome. He had his plan of operations for the war,—to mask the Quadrilateral, and push on with the main body of the army to Vienna, while the volunteers landed in Istria and tried to rouse the Slavs. Whether the plan was original or not, it was almost identical with one, which had been favoured by Ricasoli, now again premier, by Cialdini, one of the two Italian commanders, and probably by Bismarck, and which was rejected, or at least mutilated, only by La Marmora's opposition.

All the world had expected to see the Italians easily victorious. But again, as in 1848, their chance was spoilt by incompetent generalship. The army was defeated at Custozza, the fleet at Lissa; Garibaldi and the volunteers had little of the spirit of 1860, and were paralysed in the Tyrol. Equally unexpectedly, the Prussians on their side had triumphed swiftly and conclusively; and Napoleon, afraid that the unforeseen events would nip his schemes, stepped in with a message that Austria had offered to cede Venetia to himself and that he would hand it over to Italy, if peace were made. It was a bitter and humiliating end,—to lay down arms under the shadow of defeat, to abandon the Tyrol and Istria, to have Venetia not by right of conquest but by the condescension of a detested patron. Mazzini did not know how unwillingly the government had bowed to a fate, which the military position made inevitable. To him it seemed mere pusillanimity, pregnant with "dishonour and ruin." "It is my lot," he sadly wrote, "to consume my last days in the grief, supreme to one who really loves, of seeing the thing, one loves most, inferior to its mission."
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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:24 am

Chapter 12: The Last Years

1866-1872. AETAT 61-66

The Republican Alliance—Life at Lugano—Mentana—Republican movement in 1868-70—Intrigue with Bismarck—Imprisonment at Gaeta, and release—Attack on the International—Death.

In his ignorance of the facts, he charged it all to the monarchy. The nation had been sacrificed to the interests of a dynasty. Defeat and dishonour came of the equivocations, that sprang from the "primal falsehood" of royalty. The bad government and coercion (which, in fact, was mild enough), the huge army and civil service and police, the consequent financial chaos—all were its fruit. He disclaimed that it was the republic for its own sake that he wanted now, for its advent was only the question of a few years more or less, and its triumph might be left to time. But dishonour was the "gangrene of a nation," and only the republic could cure that. Only the republic could win Rome, gather Istria and the Tyrol to the fold, and stretch a hand to the struggling nationalities of the East. But, if the republic came, it must be as a great "moralising education, to change men from serfs to citizens, and make them conscious of their mission, their strength and dignity." The republic must not mean revenge, or spoliation, or repudiation of debt, or violent anti-clericalism; and he was already beginning his crusade against Bakounine and the rough socialism, which was making some headway in the country.

He had promised that if he resumed his republican agitation, he would announce it frankly beforehand, and he did so now. Henceforth he gave it all his failing strength. Hopeless as their cause probably was at the best, the republicans had a strength now, which they had not had for fifteen years. The shame of Custozza and Lissa lay heavy on the nation, and the disillusioning had shaken faith in men and institutions. The sense of national dishonour maddened; civil war was often on men's lips; the King's prestige was foundering under the load of private vice and military failure. There was a mass of sullen, unformulated discontent, ready to find its way into socialist or republican channels. And though men were slow to follow Mazzini into his conspiracies, his long years of self-sacrificing labour, the mystery that wrapped the exile and conspirator, had given him a vast, almost mythical fascination for his countrymen. Forty thousand persons had signed the petition for his amnesty. Messina elected him time after time for its deputy, to have the election quashed as often by the Moderates in the Chamber. There was an angry feeling everywhere at the senseless intolerance, and the deputies of the Left did their best to bring the majority to reason. "While you are still in time," said a recent premier of Italy, "prevent Mazzini from having to close his eyes in a foreign land."

When at last he was amnestied at the beginning of the war, he refused to accept it as an act of grace or take his seat as deputy, and returned to Lugano. Much of his time henceforth was spent there with his friends, Giuseppe Nathan and his wife Sarah, "the best Italian friend I have, one of the best women I know," who nursed him in the attacks of illness, which came with ever greater frequency. Here he would watch "the beautiful calm-lulling lake, the beautiful, solemn, hopeful-death-teaching sunsets." When he was well, he kept to the habits of his English life, writing all day, delighting his friends in the evening with his brilliant talk. His conspiracies often took him to Genoa, where he lived in hiding in the house of a working family, from whose windows in the Salita di Oregina he had a superb view of the city and the Riviera. He nearly betrayed himself once by shouting from his window at a boy who was torturing a grasshopper. He kept in close touch with his English friends and English life. At Lugano he regularly read "the good, dry Spectator and the would-be wicked, never concluding Saturday Review." He made a custom of always returning to England to spend New Year's Day with the Stansfelds or others of their family, crossing the Alps in mid-winter at the peril of his health. He had painfully aged. His face had sunk and wore a deathly pallor; the thick, black hair was thin and grey. William Lloyd Garrison, seeing him after an interval of twenty-one years, sadly noted the change, though "the same dark, lustrous eyes" remained, "the same classical features, the same grand intellect, the same lofty and indomitable spirit, the same combination of true modesty and heroic assertion, of exceeding benignity and inspirational power." Work told heavily upon him now. Writing made him giddy, and his characters begin to lose their firmness. He was "living as if in a whirlwind, something like Paolo without Francesca, tired, worn out, longing for rest." But he would not slacken. "I am bound to those, whom I have organised for a purpose. I must, before I die, proclaim the republic in Italy."

While he was organising his "Republican Alliance," losing himself in the huge work of detail which all came to so little, the impatience in Italy was breaking down the precautions of the government. Ricasoli had been driven from office by his own maladroitness and Garibaldi's wild, aimless opposition. Rattazzi, the intriguer of 1862, came back to power, and began the double play, that was only too likely to lead to another Aspromonte. There is no need here to analyse the obscure and sordid story of his balancings between the Italian democrats and France. Garibaldi was impatient to win Rome, and cared comparatively little now whether it were in the name of monarchy or republic. His plan was to lead a raid, with or without the connivance of the government, into the small territory that still belonged to the Pope, meet and defeat the Papal mercenaries, and enter Rome. With Mazzini the republic was now a more vital thing than Unity. Only from a republican Rome could Italy perform her civilising mission to the world. "If Rome is to be annexed like the rest," he wrote, "I would rather it belonged to the Pope another three years." He disliked Garibaldi's scheme; he was not sanguine of its success; if it did succeed, it meant that the monarchy would go to Rome and the Pope stay there. He wished to see the Romans rise themselves and pronounce for a republic, confident that, if they did so, Italy would echo the republican cry, and the Pope would have to go. Sometimes, however, despairing of his own party, he was willing to compromise; and when at last Garibaldi started on his raid, and the government backed him, risking hostilities with France rather than have civil war, he forgot everything else in the hope of winning Rome, and urged his followers to join the raiders. Probably, if he had not been prostrated by illness, he would have gone himself. When Garibaldi's incapacity was only too apparent, and the French troops landed again for the defence of Rome, he saw that the volunteers were advancing into a trap, and implored Garibaldi to retire to Naples, raise the flag of revolution, and collect forces for another and more hopeful attack. Garibaldi, marching obstinately to defeat, was in no temper to listen to anybody, to Mazzini least of all. The mischief-makers had persuaded him that Mazzini was tampering with his men. There was no particle of truth in it, but the conviction entered Garibaldi's mind and never left it, while Mazzini lived.

The volunteers went to their doom at Mentana. Rattazzi, who at the last rose above himself and would have marched to Rome but for the King's veto, had resigned some weeks before. Menabrea, who succeeded him, had been compelled by public opinion to occupy a part of the Pope's territory; but when the French landed, he withdrew the troops, rather than face war with France. The country writhed in its rage at the French insult, and naturally turned its resentment against the crown. Juries acquitted republican papers; the press lampooned the King. Some of the deputies gave a secret backing to the republican movement; the Friendly Societies, which had always kept more or less in touch with Mazzini, threw themselves into it. Mazzini had a following among the Freemasons, though not one himself, and among the ex-volunteers. Most ominous feature of it all, republicanism gained a large footing in the rank-and-file of the army. Mazzini pushed on impatiently for Rome and the republic. He knew that the Romans themselves were powerless to rise, now that the French were there, and that a volunteer movement had no better chance. The only plan, that could successfully defy the French and capture Rome, was to seize the government,—its army and navy and arsenals,—and make a national crusade with all the resources of the country. The royalists, he thought, would never break with France or attack the Papacy; and indeed the criticism was true of the conservative ministry, which now held office. He was equally hopeless of the middle classes, but he was confident that the people would respond. Especially he trusted to the younger generation and the women of Italy; they alone, he thought, were free from the timid opportunism, which had eaten deep into the rest.

After Mentana he left London again for Lugano to be nearer his work, and was constantly passing backwards and forwards between there and Genoa, finding time among it all to write his great religious apology, the sum of all his teaching, From the Council to God. [31] His following at Genoa was considerable now. When he came there secretly, little patrols of working men with concealed arms would watch along the streets between the station and his lodgings to guard his person from seizure by the police. The Committee sat waiting for him, each man armed with his revolver. One of them has described the meeting. "A low knock was heard at the door, and there he was in body and soul, the great magician, who struck the fancy of the people like a mythical hero. Our hearts leaped, and we went reverently to meet that great soul. He advanced with a child's frank courtesy and a divine smile, shaking hands like an Englishman, and addressing each of us by name, as if our names were written on our foreheads. He was not disguised; he wore cloth shoes, and a capote, and with his middle, upright stature, he looked like a philosopher, straight from his study, who never dreamed of troubling any police in the world." In the spring of 1869 he was eager for action, despite the failure of a plot, discouraged by himself, among the garrison at Milan. The remonstrances of the government procured his banishment from Switzerland, but he was back again in August, going "more sadly than usual, feeling physically and intellectually weaker and unequal to the task." He was suffering continuously, and confessed to his friends that he shrank from the effort. He was obviously going on from sheer inability to stop more than from any hope of success. "My new plan," he wrote gloomily, "may prove a dream like many others."

In the spring of 1870 he came again to Genoa to arrange the details. The plot broke down like the rest, and at the moment everything was overshadowed by the coming Franco-German war. In common with the great majority of his countrymen, outside the court and government, his sympathies were with Germany. A German victory would avenge Mentana and compel the French to withdraw from Rome. In spite of his denunciation of the Prussian alliance in 1866, he had been for three years past carrying on a desultory intrigue with Bismarck. About the time of Mentana he had sent a note to Bismarck through their go-between. "I do not in the least," it said, "share Count Bismarck's political views; his method of unification does not command my sympathy; but I admire his tenacity and energy and independence towards the foreigner. I believe in German unity and desire it as much as that of my own country. I abhor the Empire and the supremacy it arrogates over Europe." He saw in the intrigue a chance of pushing his own schemes, and at the same time of preventing a Franco-Italian alliance against Germany. He asked Bismarck to send him arms and money, and promised, if he had them, to guarantee him against the hostile combination. Bismarck parleyed with him for a time, as he had parleyed with Garibaldi; and when war was imminent, and he knew that Victor Emmanuel and many of the Italian conservatives were trying again to commit the country to a French alliance, he promised that the arms and money should be sent. Mazzini hastened to accept, promising to attack Rome with the revolutionary forces, and undertaking to respect the wish of the country, should a future Constituent Assembly declare for the monarchy. But Bismarck had learnt now that the danger of the hostile alliance had passed, and the promised help never came. The intrigue marks the last stage in Mazzini's political decline. That he had asked a foreign government to assist in what meant civil war, shows how the long years of conspiracy had distorted his moral vision.

He had intended to use Bismarck's money for a new plot, this time in Sicily. It was a fool's errand, and his friends tried in vain to dissuade him. But the monomania was on him, and he started for the island in disguise. As so often before, he had a traitor in his secrets, a man who with strange inconsistency had nursed him tenderly through an illness, while he was making a living by betraying his plans to the French police. [32] When Mazzini arrived by the Naples steamer at Palermo, he was arrested. He was taken to Gaeta and treated with all possible consideration. The very gaoler took three minutes to turn the noisy keys silently, that he might soften the sense of imprisonment. Here through the loopholes of the massive fortress, where the Bourbons had made their last stand nine years before, he would watch the sea and sky, as he had done at Savona thirty-nine years ago. "The nights," he writes, "are very beautiful; the stars shine with a lustre one only sees in Italy. I love them like sisters, and link them to the future in a thousand ways. If I could choose, I should like to live in absolute solitude, working at my historical book or at some other, just from a feeling of duty, and only wishing to see—for a moment, now and then,—some one I did not know, some poor woman that I could help, some working men I could advise, the doves of Zürich, and nothing else." He smoked indifferent cigars; he read bad translations of Shakespeare and Byron from the prison library, and, for want of better, Tasso's Gerusalemme. He was planning again a book on Byron, and asks for Taine's critique of him in his Littérature anglaise. "Taine is a materialist writer, and certainly won't have an idea that squares with mine; but I am intellectually half-asleep and I reckon on the stimulus of contradiction and the irritation which I shall get out of his book. He has enough perverted intellectual power to wake me up."

He was released a few weeks later, after the capture of Rome, but he still refused to accept the amnesty, that he might keep his hands free, "without even the shadow of ungratefulness to anybody—even to a king." His one anxiety for the moment was to escape the popular demonstrations of sympathy, and get to a quiet life among his friends. He passed a restless night at Rome; it was twenty-one years since Margaret Fuller and Giulia Modena had persuaded the ex-Triumvir to save himself and fly. He went to Leghorn to his friends the Rossellis; thence to Genoa, to see his mother's tomb, and fled to escape the ovations, with his old sickness on him. "The only thing really touching to me," he wrote to England, "was in the churchyard—it was late—and the place was quite empty, but a keeper had, it seems, recognised me, and coming out of the gate, some poor people, a priest among them, were drawn up in a line, bowing and almost touching the earth. Not a smile, no attempt at absurd applause, they felt my sadness, and contrived to show they were sharing it." [33] The popular welcome had been dust and ashes to him; "even Swinburne's praise," he wrote from Gaeta, "makes me sad. Who am I, whom he praises?" His ideal was shattered. Rome had "the profanation of a corrupt and dishonoured monarchy," and he knew that the monarchy's winning of the capital meant that the republic would not come in his day. France, not Italy, had proclaimed the republic, and in a spirit that he hated. His own party had failed him. "Italy, my Italy," he said, "the Italy that I have preached, the Italy of our dreams? Italy, the great, the beautiful, the moral Italy of my heart? This medley of opportunists and cowards and little Macchiavellis, that let themselves be dragged behind the suggestion of the foreigner,—I thought to call up the soul of Italy, and I only see its corpse." "Yes, dear," he writes to Mrs Stansfeld, "I love more deeply than I thought my poor dreamt-of Italy, my old vision of Savona. I want to see, before dying, another Italy, the ideal of my soul and life, start up from her three hundred years' grave: this is only the phantom, the mockery of Italy. And the thought haunts me, like the incomplete man in Frankenstein, seeking for a soul from its maker."

But henceforth he resigns conspiracy. Sometimes he still hoped for insurrection, still believed that "a month of action transforms a people more than ten years of being preached to"; but he knew that the republic was afar off, that all he could do now was quietly to educate his countrymen, especially the working classes. "Tell the working-men of Genoa," so he sent his message, "that this is not a time for demonstrations but self-education. Germany is the only country that deserves a republic." He helped to organise the Friendly Societies; he advocated evening classes for workmen, circulating popular libraries, the collection of a fund to assist societies for co-operative production; he founded a paper, Roma del Popolo, to spread his ideas. He still hoped to write his popular history on Italy and a book on national education,—hopes, alas, never fulfilled. He published From the Council to God, and was delighted at the success it met with in its English translation in the Fortnightly. He was keenly interested in the English movements for women's suffrage and against state regulation of vice. But his chief work in these last years was to fight the immature socialism of the time. He was bitterly chagrined by the "invasion of barbarians," which was threatening to conquer the Italian working-classes to socialism or anarchism. The International had passed out of its first stage as an organiser of trade-unionism, and was now the battle-ground between the anarchists under Bakounine and the collectivists, who followed Karl Marx. In its earlier days Mazzini had had some relations with it and Bakounine; he had advised his followers to join it, and had a high opinion of its English leaders, Odger and Cremer, "for their power of intellect and heart and their sincere devotion to the cause." He had tried to make it a political, revolutionary society; and when he found himself defeated by Marx' opposition, he retired. Since then, the International had turned to far other roads of revolution. Mazzini hardly distinguished between the two sections that were fighting for mastery in it, and banned indiscriminately the atheism and anarchism of the one and the socialism of the other. And in fact both were equally alien from his spiritual basis of life, his fervid faith in nationality, his more modest economic programme. [34] But he was careful to show that his criticism came from no lack of social aspiration. "Those, whom you call barbarians," he retorted on the Italian conservatives, who had used the word in a far other sense, "represent an idea,—the inevitable, destined rise of the men of Labour." The International, he argued, was the necessary fruit of middle-class indifference to social reform; and the Assembly at Versailles was more guilty than the Commune. He had, in fact, small liking for the Third Republic. A republic, which had only come for lack of an alternative, which had Thiers for its chief, and made no sign of restoring Nice, was a republic only in form. When he read Renan's Réforme intellectuelle et morale, it confirmed him in his distrust of France; and, almost on his death-bed, he reviewed the book in words of acute disappointment at its spirit.

The long life of fighting was fast closing in weariness and sense of failure. "This life of a machine, that writes and writes and writes for thirty-five years, begins to weigh upon me strangely." He had bitter personal chagrins; his one surviving sister refused to see him, from religious differences; Garibaldi would not be reconciled. All through the end of 1871 he was kept alive only by the devoted attention of Bertani, who looked after his patient as well as he had organised the Expedition of the Thousand. He still refused to accept the amnesty, and travelled under an assumed name to Pisa and Genoa and Florence, where he laid a wreath on Ugo Foscolo's tomb, for the bones of his hero had been lately brought from Chiswick to rest in Santa Croce. Giuditta Sidoli, "good, holy, constant Giuditta," died. "Did she die a Christian?" he enquires; "any faith, even though imperfect and spoilt by false doctrine, comforts the pillow of the dying better than the dry, thin, gloomy travesty of Science, which is called now-a-days Free Thought or Rationalism." He knew his own end was not far, and he was willing it should come. "Strange," he said, "that I see all those I loved go one by one, while I remain, I know not why." His one care was that the work should still go on. "What matter," he wrote, "how many years or months I still live down here? Shall I love you less because I go elsewhere to work? Will you love me less, when you can only love me by working? I often think, that when at last I leave you, you will all work with more faith and ardour, to prevent my having lived in vain." In his last words to the working men of Italy he says, "love and work for this great, unhappy country of ours, called to high destinies, but stayed upon the road by those who cannot, will not know the road. This is the best way that you can have of loving me." One of his last acts was to repay an old loan of half a lifetime's standing. In the mild spring of 1872 he was living at a house that belonged to Pellegrino Rosselli, son-in-law of his old friends, the Nathans of Lugano, in the Via Maddalena at Pisa. People would watch the white-haired stranger, who went by the name of Brown, taking his daily walk, with the affectionate eyes and a kind word for every child. Early in March he was taken very ill and sank rapidly. On the 10th he died. His last conscious words were—"Believe in God? Yes, I do believe in God." He was buried, where he had always wished to lie, beside his mother, in the cemetery of Staglieno outside Genoa. There, in the words of Carducci's epitaph, rests

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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

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Chapter 13: Religion

Religion essential to society—Paramouncy of the spiritual—Criticism of Christianity; Catholicism; Protestantism—Christ's teaching: its truths and imperfections—The doctrines of the new faith: God; Progress; Immortality—The criteria of Truth: the conscience; tradition—Humanity—The need of unity; authority; church and state; the new church.

Mazzini's life was one piece of almost perfect consistency and continuity. Save in minor points of policy, it had no turnings, no conversions, no recantations. Alike in theory and practice, it goes on its straight, undeviating course from his youthful literary essays to the full-bodied doctrine of The Duties of Man and From the Council to God, from the first days of Young Italy to those of the Republican Alliance. And its magnificent unity comes of this, that all was dominated by a scheme of thought, that controlled and correlated each sphere of human action. Supremely he achieved the harmony of life, which he never wearied of extolling. He was politician, philosopher, religious reformer, literary critic; and every side of life completes the others in a perfect synthesis. At the centre of it all, controlling, illuminating, energizing, stands his religious faith. To him religion was "the eternal, essential, indwelling element of life," "the breath of humanity, its soul and life and consciousness and outward symbol," hallowing men's thoughts and actions, ennobling, consoling, fortifying, the inspiring principle of brotherhood and social service. Deep in the conscience of each man, inseparable from life, lies the religious sense,—the sense of the Infinite and Imperishable, the aspiration to the Unknown and Invisible, the innate desire to apprehend God in his intellect and love. "If ever you have," he once said, "a strange moment of religious feeling, of supreme resignation, of quiet love of humanity, of a calm insight of duty, kneel down thankful, and treasure within yourself the feeling suddenly arisen. It is the feeling of life." And with the sense of the Divine, there comes to man the yearning to reach after the divine perfection and the importunate searching for the way. In every age, men have asked "to know, or at least to surmise, something of the starting-point and goal of mundane existence"; and religion comes to teach "the general principles that rule humanity, to sanction the link that makes men brothers in the consciousness of that one origin, one mission, one common aim." Man makes that mission and that aim his guiding star in all his strivings for the good; and in every branch of his activity he steers his course by his knowledge of God. "From the general formula, that men call religion, issues a rule of education, a basis of human brotherhood, a policy, a social economy, an art." It is impossible to keep it out of politics. It is there "in all questions of the franchise, of the condition of the masses, of nationality,"—all intimately linked with the religious thought of the time, all part of God's providential scheme for man. "I do not know," he says, "speaking historically, a single great conquest of the human spirit, a single important step for the perfecting of human society, which has not had its roots in a strong religious faith." "No true society exists without a common faith and common purpose; politics are the application, religion gives the principle." Where this common faith is not, the mere will of the majority means permanent instability and the oppression of the rest; "without God, you can coerce, but you cannot persuade; you may be tyrants in your turn, but you cannot be educators or apostles."

Without religion, then,—deep, heartfelt, vitalising religion,—there can be no true community. Materialism had been tried, and had failed;—failed because it was "an individualist, cold, calculating doctrine, that slowly, infallibly extinguished every spark of high thinking or free life, that first plunged men into the worship of success, then made them slaves of triumphant violence and the accomplished fact." It killed enthusiasm in the individual; it killed true greatness in a nation. Bare ethics had been tried, "but no morality can endure or bring forth life, without a heaven and a dogma to support it." "No, man needs more than simple ethics; he craves to solve his doubts, to slake his thirsting for a future; he wants to know whence he comes and whither he goes." Men had tried philosophy, and indeed philosophy, that took humanity and not the individual for its study, was "the science of the law of life"; but by itself it was a barren rock, where life could find no resting-place. "Heresy is sacred," but only as the transient stage between a lower and a higher faith. Philosophy can "analyse and anatomise and dissect," but it has no breath of life to "decree duty or push men to deeds by giving ethics a new strength and grandeur." The needs of the age are less intellectual than spiritual. "What we want, what the people want, what the age is crying for, that it may find an issue from this slough of selfishness and doubt and negation, is a faith, a faith in which our souls may cease to err in search of individual ends, may march together in the knowledge of one origin, one law, one goal." And such a faith, and only such a faith, will give the solid, strong convictions and the energy and unity, by which alone society can be healed. "Any strong faith, that rises on the wreck of the old, exhausted creeds, will transform the existing social order, since every strong belief must needs apply itself to every branch of human activity; because always, in every age, earth has sought conformity with the heaven in which it believed; because all Humanity repeats under different formulas and in different degrees the words of the Lord's Prayer of Christendom: Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven."

Where shall this faith be found,—this living, vitalising faith, for which the age is groping, for want of which its aspiration and its efforts are in vain? Does Christianity supply it? Mazzini asked the question reverently and tenderly. Religion, he says, is above and independent of creeds, but every creed is sacred, for each has added to man's knowledge of God and of himself. However incomplete a faith, so it be a faith indeed, it helps to hallow life. He felt his a spiritual kinship more with Catholic priest and Protestant pastor, who lighted earth with broken rays of the divine, than with the sceptic, who would shut out God and immortality, enthusiasm and love. Reverently, then, he tested Christianity. For the superstructures, indeed, that Catholics and Protestants had built upon the Christianity of Christ, he felt respect and sympathy, but little love. He had his special grievances against the Papacy for the evil work it had done in his own country, and he hated it, as only an Italian of his day could hate it. He held it to be irrevocably doomed: doomed, since the Reformation took the North from it;—doomed, "because it has betrayed its mission to protect the weak, because for three centuries and a half it has committed fornication with the princes of this world, because at the bidding of every evil and unbelieving government it has crucified Jesus afresh in the name of egoism,"—doomed, because it stood apart from the great humanitarian movements of the century, the freeing of Greece and Italy, the emancipation of the blacks;—doomed for the root sin, of which these were but consequences, that it had become "a phantasm of religion," "without faith or power or mission." It had missed the meaning of Christ's teaching; it had sinned against the Holy Spirit, and there was no forgiveness for it. "God will provide for the abominated idolatry, God, who breaks all idols that were and are and shall be." Sometimes he was confident, that, before the century was out, the Papacy would be extinct. And yet, in spite of all, he respected what had been a great fact in the history of religion. Like every strong belief, it had in its time done high service for humanity, it had had its share of the noble and sublime and potent. "I remember it all and bow myself before your past." And die though it must, he would it should die nobly, "like the sun in the great ocean," rejoicing that God's great design bade it make place for a more perfect faith.

For Protestantism his feeling was colder both in its sympathies and antipathies. His Catholic training, his craving for formal unity, made it difficult for him to read it sympathetically; and he saw it chiefly in its defects,—its exaggeration of the individual, its rejection of tradition, its sectarianism, its "indefinite dismembering of the common thought." He recognised somewhat, though imperfectly, the political and social work, which was indissolubly bound up with Puritanism; "'God and the People,'" he said in one of his letters to English working men, "were the inspirers of your Cromwell." As Catholicism had one side of the truth in its respect for tradition, so Protestantism had the other in its assertion of individual interpretation, and in this it had apprehended the essence of Christianity more truly than Catholicism had done. But though Protestants were slowly learning the value of tradition, the preeminence of Humanity over man, they still magnified the individual, till their creed had become a doctrine of material and spiritual selfishness, which must logically develop into pure materialism. He charged it with inspiring the inhumanity and anarchy of the laissez-faire economy. It had made the salvation of the individual soul the end of life; and thus it had sundered religion from society, and dwarfed the all-embracing plan of God to the puny borders of a loveless pietism.

But when Mazzini passes from Catholicism and Protestantism to Christ, his attitude is one of infinite reverence and love. His close knowledge of the Gospels, his native kinship with their spirit, had brought him very near the mind of Christ, and he spoke of Him in beautiful and tender words. Christ's "was the soul most full of love, of holiest virtue, most inspired by God and by the Future, that men have ever hailed upon this earth." He "came for all; he spoke to all and for all. He lifted up the People and died for it." "I love Jesus," he once wrote in a private letter, "as the man who has loved the most all mankind, servants and masters, rich and poor, Brahmins and Helots or Parias." "In Jesus," so he wrote to the Oecumenical Council, "we worship the Founder of an age that freed the individual, the Apostle of the unity of law,—that law which he understood more fully than did any of the generations before him,—the Prophet of the equality of souls: and we bow ourselves before him, as the man who among all we know of loved the most, whose life, an unexampled harmony between thought and practice, proclaimed the holy doctrine of sacrifice, henceforth to be the everlasting foundation of all religion and all virtue; but we do not cancel the woman-born in God, we do not raise him where we cannot hope to join him; we would love him as the brother who was better than us all, not worship him and fear him as pitiless judge and intolerant tyrant of the future." In Christ's teaching he found many of the moral and social truths that were dearest to him. "Does not every word of the Gospel breathe the spirit of liberty and equality, of that war with evil and injustice and falsehood, that inspires our work?" The cross was the symbol of "the one true immortal virtue, the sacrifice of self for others." "Unity of faith, love for one another, human brotherhood, activity in well-doing, the doctrine of sacrifice, the doctrine of equality, the abolition of aristocracy, the perfecting of the individual, liberty,—all are summed up in Christ's words, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God and thy neighbour as thyself,' and 'Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.'" Christ's teaching had inspired each struggle for truth from the Crusades to Lepanto, had destroyed feudalism, was destroying now the aristocracy of blood; Poles and Greeks had marched to freedom's battles under the flag of Jesus and His mother. And, above all, Christ gave the promise of indefinite religious progress,—a promise, which closed the mouths of those who would arbitrarily pin men to a fixed doctrine. 'The Spirit of truth shall abide with you for ever, ... and shall teach you all things.' "On the eve of his accepted sacrifice, when his mighty love for his brethren lit up the darkness of the future, he had sight of the continuous revelation of the Spirit through humanity." This was the 'eternal gospel' of the mystics of the middle ages; and Christ's promise stood true to-day. "God forgive you," he wrote to a Catholic friend, "you do not understand Christ,—Christ who died that humanity may some day free itself to rise to God by its own strength."

He paused anxiously before he declared himself no Christian. His temperament and outlook on life were essentially Christian; he tried to read new meanings into Christian doctrines; words of Christian prayer came naturally to his lips; Christmas Day was "sacred" to him. Several times in early life he cherished schemes of reform within the church; for some years he doubted how far religious development could be built on Christian foundations, whether the new church would be "an application of Christianity" or "a religion to succeed" it. At all events Christian ethics would remain. "The morality of Christ is eternal; humanity will add to it, but will not take from it one word." And for long yet Christianity would abide, the greatest of the creeds. "This will reach you on Christmas Day," he wrote to an English friend. "I am not a Christian, I belong to what I believe to be a still purer and higher Faith; but its time has not yet come; and until that day the Christian manifestation remains the most sacred revelation of the ever-onward progressing spirit of mankind."

But that its doctrine and its cult must some day pass, that its ethics needed supplementing, he had convinced himself, at all events as early as his Swiss days. He wasted little time in attacking particular articles of the Christian faith, for analytical criticism was always hateful to him. But he thought it had certain essential imperfections, because of which it failed, and was bound to fail to content the present reach of human knowledge or inspire men's activities. He charged it, firstly, with not sanctifying the things of earth. The church taught that the world was evil, life here an expiation, heaven the soul's true home. At one time he appealed against the church to Christ's own teaching, to texts that spoke of God's will being done on earth, of power given to Christ in earth, of the promise that the meek should inherit the earth. In later life he qualified this reading of the gospel. Jesus, "a soul blessed with such mighty love and perfect harmony between thought and action," could not fail to realise the harmony of earth and heaven. But "while he stood and stands alone, supreme over all other great religious reformers in everything that concerns the heart and affections, his intellectual grasp did not extend beyond the requirements of a single epoch." At the time in which he lived, he "saw no possible mission for the sake of the brethren whom he loved, save by moral regeneration, by creating a country of freemen and equals in heaven. He wished to show mankind how it could find salvation and redemption in spite of and in opposition to the world." Great Christian statesmen and thinkers of a later time,—Gregory VII. and Thomas Aquinas,—had tried to bring the temporal under the spiritual law. But they had failed, and the normal Christianity of the day was fatally divorced from religion and politics and art and science. It left the bigger part of life without God's law to guide it. It told men to renounce the world, when their duty was to live in it and battle in it and better it.

Christianity again came short, because it left out of ken the collective life of the race. The conception was an impossible one at the time in which Christ lived; and its absence maimed men's knowledge of God, and shortened their power to attain to the Divine Ideal. Christianity pointed, indeed, to "salvation, that is perfection"; but it recognised no instrument beyond "the weak, unequal, isolated, ineffective strength of the individual." Mazzini's criticism came to this: Christianity tells each man to perfect himself by his own strength and God's; but his spiritual growth is conditioned by the growth of the men around him, and therefore his own perfecting depends on the progress of the race, the common search for good, that links all men together and the generations to one another. Mazzini always regarded the French Revolution as the political expression, the "daughter" of Christianity, and there the depreciation of the race, the exaggeration of the individual had borne their necessary fruit of moral selfishness and social anarchy. Yet again, though Christ had promised the continuous teaching of his Spirit, ever leading to new truth, the doctrine of redemption was inconsistent with any theory of progress. There was no Fall; man had begun at the bottom and had been tending upwards ever since. Salvation was for men, not from a single, isolated act, but from the slow, unceasing, inevitable working of the providential scheme. The individual came nearer the divine, not by faith in Christ's sacrifice, but by his own works, by sacrifice of self, by faith in the "ideal that every man is called to incarnate in himself." And because of these imperfections in its theory of life, Christianity had ceased to be a vitalising force. For some it had become an ethical system, for others a philosophy, while men needed a religion. Politics and art and science had gone their own ways. Christian morality knew not patriotism. Charity was its only remedy for social wrongs, and charity was impotent to stop the springs of poverty. Men gave lip-service to Christ's teaching, but it had no binding influence on their lives. It offered no solution for their perplexities; it was no longer a faith that could move mountains or remould the modern world. Its day had gone, and all the efforts of neo-Christians or Christian Socialists or Old Catholics to make it answer to modern needs were bound to fail, as the neo-Platonists had failed in their day to galvanise paganism. "Jesus warned you, when on earth," he said to "the Anglo-Saxon Christian Socialists," "that you cannot put new wine into old bottles."

Such was Mazzini's criticism of Christianity, not always consistent with itself, sometimes confounding Christ's thought with others' perversions of it, sometimes failing to recognise how many-sided a phenomenon is Christianity, sometimes inaccurately tracing its actual results in history and modern life. His attitude towards it may be summed up thus. He retained its belief in the omnipotence of the spiritual; its faith in God and in His providential working; its supreme veneration for the character and moral teaching of Jesus; its insistence on moral perfection and not material interest as the end of life; its call to love and sacrifice of self; its belief in immortality; its aspiration to the Church Universal. He rejected the divinity of Christ, the doctrine of a mediator, the antagonism between matter and spirit and the consequent neglect of the things of earth; its inability to grasp God's law of progress; its non-acceptance (though the Church had partially recognised it) of Humanity as the interpreter of that law.

But the new faith, which was to grow out of and supplement Christianity, must have its doctrines too, its positive basis of belief. "There is no life in the void. Life is faith in something, a system of secure beliefs, grounded on an immutable foundation, which defines the end, the destiny of man, and embraces all his faculties to point them to that end." Mankind, he said, is weary of negations, of the hustling conflict of opinions. "We must prepare for it an abode for the day of rest,—something on earth, where it may lay its weary head,—something in heaven on which its eyes may stay,—a tent to shield it from the storm, a spring to quench its thirst in the vast unbounded desert where it travels." Dogma is essential; it is ever "sovereign over practical morality," for "morality is only its consequence, its application, its translation into practice." By dogma he meant "a body of ideas, which, starting from a fixed point, embraces all human faculties and employs them for the conquest of a positive, practical end, which is for the good of the majority; the exposition of a principle and its consequences in relation to life's manifestation and operations in the moral and the industrial world, both for the individual and for society." The thinker apprehends it, science and society prepare the medium for its adoption, the best and wisest incarnate it in their lives, then it "enters the soul of the many and becomes a religious axiom." In other words it is an ethical and political system, so based on the eternal verities of life, so penetrated by the spiritual sense of the race, that it ceases to be a cold and abstract code, and takes the warmth and colour of religion, compelling men's souls and pushing them irresistibly to social duty.

What then is the body of doctrine for the Church of the future, as Mazzini conceived it? First, as the root of all, belief in God, "the author of all existence, the living, absolute thought, of which our world is a ray and the universe an incarnation"; "a sphere inviolable, eternal, supreme over all humanity, independent of chance or error or blind and interrupted operation." God, then, exists objectively, as maker and ruler of the universe. Man discovers God; he does not create Him. In his criticism of Renan, Mazzini attacks any theory of the subjectivity of the Divine. Pantheism (that is, the "materialist pantheism" of Spinoza, not the "spiritual pantheism" of St Paul and Wordsworth and Shelley) confounds subject and object, good and evil, and leaves no place for Providence or human liberty; it is a "philosophy of the squirrel in the cage," condemning mankind to go for ever rotating in a circle. Deism is a "sordid" creed, which relegates God to heaven and ignores his ever-operating life in creation. Mazzini gives no clue how he would have reconciled an all-creating Deity,—author therefore of good and evil,—with a beneficent and loving Providence.

He finds the proofs of an actual, objective God, first, in man himself, in the universal intuition of the Divine. "God exists. God lives in our conscience, in the conscience of Humanity, in the Universe around us. Our conscience calls to him in our most solemn moments of sorrow and joy. He who would deny God before a starry night, before the graves of his dearest ones, before the martyr's scaffold, is a very wretched or a very guilty man." The fact that we aspire to the best and infinite proves that there is a best and infinite, that is God. And, next, the fact of existence bears witness to an intelligent creator. "God exists because we exist." "Call it God or what you like," he once said, "there is life which we have not created, but which is given." "The Universe displays him in its order and harmony, in the intelligent design shown in its working and its law." And this law is "one and immutable." "Everything is preordained"; "God and law are identical terms"; "'chance' has no meaning, and was only invented to express man's ignorance." "There can be no miracle, nothing supernatural, no possible violation of the laws that rule the Universe"; though he realised how big is the unknown of nature, and his rejection of the supernatural did not prevent him from being a mystic. But God is not only intellect but love, not only Lord but Educator. His law embraces Humanity as well as nature, the moral as well as the physical world. He manifests himself "in the intelligent design, that regulates the life of Humanity" and leads man ever upwards towards perfection. "Everything, from the grain of sand to the plant, from the plant to Man, has its own law; how then can Humanity be without its law?"

Mazzini seems to have recognised the difficulty of reconciling the oneness and eternity of law with an ever-active Providence, which concerned itself, for instance, with present-day problems of democracy and nationality. He found a solution in making the law consist in an inevitable tendency to progress, both in the material and, still more, in the spiritual world. The law of Progress, which perhaps he developed from Lessing, is "a supreme formula of the creative activity, eternal, omnipotent, universal as itself." His 'Progress' is not equivalent to 'evolution.' He formulated it, of course, before Darwin's day; so far as I know, he never refers to Darwinism, and probably never studied it. If he had, it would certainly have been to condemn it. But he would have attacked it, not from the scientific side, but on à priori grounds. Progress, he would have said, rules the material world, but it rules it through the spiritual, by virtue of an inherent God-implanted tendency and the operation of the human will. He would have rejected as derogatory to the divine idea an evolution, which results from the struggle of unthinking and non-moral forces. He condemned unsparingly, as we shall see, the explanation of social facts by the bare brute struggle of individuals or the development of material phenomena. Progress is essentially a moral phenomenon, and postulates the search, not for self, but for self-sacrifice. It is "the slow, but necessary, inevitable development of every germ of good, of every holy idea." Sometimes, indeed, he is trapped by the ambiguity of 'self-realisation,' and speaks of "the instinct and necessity, which urges every living being to the fuller development of all the germs, the faculties, the forces, the life within it." But it is clear that he is always really thinking of the development of good alone. God's plan "slowly, progressively makes man divine." Whither Humanity ultimately goes, we know not; but we know there is no limit to the march; and every age, every religion, each new philosophy enlarges its apprehension of the end.

He curiously dovetails personal immortality into the doctrine. For the individual soul the process of perfecting goes on beyond the limits of this world. Life "here-down" (as he called it in English) is so short, so full of imperfection, that the soul cannot in its earthly pilgrimage climb the ladder that leads to God. And yet intuition and tradition tell us that the ideal will be reached some day, somewhere; in words, that almost suggest that he had read the parallel passage in Wordsworth, he speaks of memory as the consciousness of the soul's progress up from earlier existences; love would be a mockery, if it did not last beyond the grave; the unity of the race implies a link between the living and the dead; science teaches there is no death but only transformation. He held passionately to his faith in immortality, and he believed that the dear ones he had lost were watching over him and bringing his best aspirations. The individual soul, he thought, progresses through a series of re-incarnations, each leading it to a more perfect development, and the rapidity of its advance depends on its own purification. And as the individual has his progress through a series of existences, so collective man progresses ever through the human generations. "No, God eternal, thy word is not all spoken, thy thought not yet revealed in all its fulness. It still creates, and will create through long ages beyond the grasp of human reckoning. The ages, that are past, have revealed but fragments to us. Our mission is not finished. We hardly know its source, we do not know its final end; time and our discoveries only extend its borders. From age to age it ascends to destinies unknown to us, seeking its own law, of which we read but a few lines. From initiative to initiative, through the series of thy progressive incarnations, it purifies and extends the formula of Sacrifice; it feels for its own way; it learns thy faith, eternally progressive." If once we recognised this progressive evolution of religion and morals, there would be no room for pure scepticism; we should see that an expired form of faith is not wrong but imperfect, that it needs not destroying but supplementing. "Every religion instils into the human soul one more drop of the universal life.

But does not this mean fatalism,—the same fatalism, with which he charged the Christian doctrine of redemption, the fatalism, with which he would have charged the evolutionists, had he known them? If the progress of humanity is preordained, what need for man to use his puny powers? Mazzini met the difficulty thus. True, evil cannot permanently triumph, God's progress must go on; but its quicker or slower realisation is in our hands. "The slow unfolding of history proceeds under the continuous action of two factors, the work of individuals and the providential scheme. Time and space are ours; we can quicken progress or retard it, we cannot stop it." And this, because progress, being essentially a moral phenomenon, must be realised in the world of thought and will, before it can be translated into practice. Mazzini did not seriously concern himself with the metaphysics of determinism; he took the common-sense position that the will is free; "no philosophic sophisms," he said, "can cancel the testimony of remorse and martyrdom." It depends on a man's choice of good or evil, whether he approaches nearer the ideal in himself, and therefore whether, so far as his influence lies, progress is realised in society. Thus, in his strained and inconclusive argument, God's providential working is reconciled both with human free will and the oneness of law.

Progress, then!—onwards to the great Ideal, the ideal which "stands in God, outside and independent of ourselves," which as yet we know but darkly, but which every generation sees more clearly; fixed, therefore, and "absolute in the Divine Idea," but gradually revealed to man, "approached" but never "reached" in this life, ever provisional and shifting for us as knowledge grows. The world is no mere necessary sequence of material phenomena, but a spiritual stream, that, swift or sluggish be its course, flows irresistibly to God. The existing fact is not the law; choice between good and evil, heroism, sacrifice are not illusions; conscience, the intuition of the ideal, the power of will, and moral force are ultimate and mastering spiritual facts. The divine design controls it all, and man has liberty to help God's plan. And he who knows this, knows that "a supreme power guards the road, by which believers journey towards their goal," and he will be "bold with God through God." The crusaders' cry 'God wills it' is for him, and his are the courage and consistency and power of sacrifice, that come to those who know they battle on the side of God. It was this conviction that Mazzini wished his followers to have, when he pleaded that Young Italy should be as a religion. For "political parties fall and die; religious parties never die till they have conquered."

But how shall man search for the ideal, how learn the providential design? Mazzini has his answer clear: "tradition and conscience," [35] or, as we may translate them, experience and intuition, "are the two wings given to the human soul to reach to truth." First, then, the individual consciousness and that in a two-fold sense. Truth is truth only to the individual, when he apprehends it for himself. Sometimes Mazzini speaks as if he accepted the whole Protestant doctrine of individual judgment, and in a sense he does. Each man must prove by his own consciousness every interpretation of God's law, whether it be true or not. But this gift of judgment only comes by righteousness. "In moments of holy thought something of the great flood of man's knowledge of God's law may come to every man." To learn it, he must "purify himself from low passion, from every guilty inclination, from every idolatrous superstition"; and truth will come "in the most secret aspirations of the soul, in the instincts of itself, that hover round in supreme hours of affection and devotion." But, though Mazzini does not very clearly distinguish, he seems generally to be thinking of something more. It is for the consciousness not only to apprehend and appropriate for the individual truths already known to the race, but sometimes it is its privilege to spell a new line of God's law. Glimpses of new truth may come to the collective intuition of a people. There are times, when "the spirit of God descends upon the gathered multitudes," and vox populi is vox Dei. He would deny the right of spiritual discovery to a people enslaved by low, material impulses; but in a nation moved by some great aspiration, when thought strikes thought, and enthusiasm kindles enthusiasm, there truth will probably be found. But though in such times of faith and struggle the people has its "great collective intuitions," though sometimes "the pale, modest star that God has placed in simple bosoms" comes nearer truth than genius comes, it is normally for the best and wisest to discover truth. Only men of holy lives and genius are God's "born interpreters"; his apostles, those "who love their brethren most and are ready to suffer for their love, and those on whom God has bestowed surpassing gifts of intellect, provided that their intellect is virtuous and desires the good." But even such as these can find truth only by interrogating the dim silent workings of the people's mind. Light comes to no man by his own unaided effort; and the solitary thinker may mistake his own conceit for truth. "Great men can only spring from a great people, just as an oak, however high it may tower above every other tree in the forest, depends on the soil whence it derives its nourishment. The soil must be enriched by countless decaying leaves."

But the untested intuition, whether of man of genius or people, is by itself no sufficient criterion of truth. Every heresy has its martyrs. There is a more unerring interpreter of God's law, known imperfectly to Catholicism, but neglected by Protestantism and the individualist schools of the day,—the consciousness of the race, checked and corrected and perfected by each succeeding generation, the "common consensus of humanity," "the tradition, not of one school or one religion or one age, but of all the schools and all religions and all the ages in their succession," for "no one man or people or school can presume to discover all the law of God." The seeker after truth will find it most surely in "the severe study of the universal tradition, which is life's manifestation in Humanity." Humanity (the conception of which he seems to have derived from Vico and Herder), "the living word of God," "the collective and continuous being," is "the only interpreter of God's law." "Humanity," said a thinker of the last century, [36] "is a man who is ever learning. Individuals die; but the truth they thought, the good they wrought, is not lost with them; Humanity garners it, and the men who walk over their graves, have their profit from it. Each of us is born to-day in an atmosphere of ideas and beliefs, that are the work of all Humanity before us; each of us brings unconsciously some element, more or less valuable, for the life of Humanity that comes after. The education of Humanity grows like those Eastern pyramids, to which each passer-by adds his stone. We pass, the travellers of a day, called away to complete our individual education elsewhere; the education of Humanity shines by flashes in each one of us, but unveils its full radiance slowly, progressively, continuously in Humanity. From one task to another, from one faith to another, step by step Humanity conquers a clearer vision of its life, its mission, of God and of his law." And here again comes strength. "It matters little," he replied to Carlyle, "that our individual powers be of the smallest amount in relation to the object to be attained; we know that the powers of millions of men, our brethren, will succeed to the work after us, in the same track,—we know that the object attained, be it when it may, will be the result of all our efforts combined." But he who would have this strength, must needs respect Humanity's tradition, must recognise that the race is more likely to be right than his own poor intellect. He turned angrily on the "barbarian" schools, that would sweep away the past, and create Humanity anew on some arbitrary plan. Humanity spurns builders of utopias; and preachers of new principles, the masses fervent for some new idea, must prove their beliefs by the infallible test of tradition. Mazzini hardly recognised how difficult and vague and diverse might be the detailed interpretation of tradition, and he was never very modest in making his own inductions. He believed that history proves that there are certain "immortal elements of human nature,"—education, fatherland, liberty, association, family, property, religion; and the theorist, who offends any one of these, is in conflict with God's law. In the conjunction, then, of these two criteria and no otherwise stands the discovery of the truth. Neither suffices without the other; and therefore Catholicism and Protestantism, each of which had apprehended one alone, are incomplete. Tradition by itself leads to stagnation; intuition alone to chance and anarchy. But "where you find the general permanent voice of humanity agreeing with the voice of your conscience, be sure that you hold in your grasp something with absolute truth,—gained and for ever yours."

It will be noted that Mazzini parts himself from the intuitive school, when he admits experience as the surer criterion of truth, when, again, he says that the intellect is necessary to verify the instincts of consciousness. On the other hand he is a pure intuitionist in his conception of the function of genius, for genius meant with him something other far than 'the infinite capacity of taking pains'; it was a God-given, almost mystical faculty, that saw truth by its own natural, unaided light, that possessed her forcibly, not wooed her timidly. He is an intuitionist again when he holds, as obviously he does hold, that it is for the pure in heart to see God, that religious and ethical enquiry depends for its results on the cultivation of the moral sense, and therefore more on the moral than on the intellectual development of the enquirer. And, even when he sides with the opposite school, it does not mean that he trusts to any scientific process of ratiocination. He has more confidence in the unconscious reasoning, by which the race has gathered its experience, and which allows no room for the errors of the solitary thinker. He did not neglect metaphysics, but he was little influenced by them, and he would have sided with 'the vulgar' against 'the philosophers.'

Mazzini's conception of Humanity was essentially related to his craving for religious and moral unity. Fighter though he was ever, and recognising somewhat the value of "the holy conflict of ideas," he did not see how much in an imperfect age progress depends upon the clash of creeds and conflict of opinions. He was so weary of debate, so confident that others must come to the same truth that he had. As far as humanity had learnt God's law, all should bow to it; and he looked to a true national education to generate this unity of faith. As unity was the law of God's universe, so unity was the condition of humanity's advance. Without it "there may be movement, but it is not uniform or concentrated." Therefore "the world thirsts for unity," "democracy tends to unity," and every great religion must of necessity strive to be catholic. But now "discord is everywhere,"—creeds that curse one another, warring states, class hatreds, party bitterness, the search for truth itself a source of conflict. It is time to end this wasteful strife, and march together, "reverently seeking the future city, a new heaven and a new earth, which may unite in one, in love of God and man, in faith in a common aim, all those, who tossed between fears of the present and doubtings of the future, now stray in intellectual and moral anarchy." "We must found moral unity, the Catholicism of humanity," "the unity of belief that Christ promised for all peoples," "a unity which binds the sects in one sole people of believers, and on the churches and conventicles and chapels raises the great temple, Humanity's Pantheon to God."

The new faith, like the old, must have its visible embodiment. "Sacred," he said, "is the church, but not a false church." At the time of the Roman Republic, a liberal cleric warned the Catholics that "if the church did not march with the people, the people would march without the church, aye, outside it and against it." "Against the church, no!" Mazzini replied; "we will march from the church of the past to the church of the future, from the dead church to the living, to the church of freemen and equals. There is room enough for such a church betwixt the Vatican and Capitol." Sometimes he thought that the new church would have its cult, a cult "which would gather believers together in feasts of equality and love," where men of saintly lives would preach plain truths of duty and inspire enthusiasm. And in some undefined way the authority of the church was to be supreme in the state. Gregory VII.'s principles, he says, were right, but erred in the application. [37] "Religion will be the soul, the thought of the new state." "Power is one; religion, the law of the spirit, sits in the seat of government; its interpreters, the temporal power, reduce it to practice." It is true that till men find a common faith, while the existing church is a church only in name, the state must protect itself by the separation of the two. But the Cavourian 'free church in a free state' means religious indifference and "an atheist law"; and a higher order will terminate "the absurd divorce between the temporal and spiritual." In his later years it seems to have been a fixed idea with him to get some kind of state creed recognised by the Italian parliament. Some day "a few men, reverenced for their doctrine and virtue, their intellect and love and sacrifice of self," would form a "supreme Council" for Europe and America, proclaiming new truths and the common duties of the nations; while under them would sit national councils to define the several duties of each people. He seems to have expected that at first these councils would have a voluntary basis outside the state, but that eventually they would be recognised by law as the supreme international and national authorities, and, as such would be the authoritative exponents of tradition and control education. And with this reconciliation of the spiritual and temporal the world would find that real authority, of which it stood in need. For authority in itself was a good and not an evil thing; and on the wreck of the existing phantasms of authority, another would arise, democratic, based on the common will, loving liberty and progress, with virtue to initiate and inspire, the unexhausted fountain of reform, correlating and organising men's various labours for the commonwealth. For such an authority "the world is ever searching, and save in it and through it, it has no life or progress."

That the new religion,—one which in its time must pass too,—would come, he had no doubt. He looked for the day when a Council of the best and wisest (whether or not identical with the supreme European council) would define the articles of the new faith. It might be "a truly Oecumenical Council of virtuous intellects," or it might spring from one "free people, which had found brotherhood in the worship of duty and the ideal." It was the dream of his life that this faith would issue forth from Rome,—Rome, the only city to whose authority Europe had bowed, Rome, the seat of the old false religion, whose fall must come ere the new one could arise. But, whatever were the more impatient hopes of earlier years, he came to see that the dawn was yet afar. Long missionary labours must come first. Still, the time, he thought, was ripe at all events for a "church of the precursors," and gladly he would have led its builders. In younger days, when the deliverance of Italy seemed near, he prayed that God would let him give the rest of life to the greater work. Afterwards, when the new Italy delayed its coming, and age and weakness came ere the first task was done, the dream of a missionary call faded slowly away, to be cherished to the end as the great unfulfilled ambition of his life.
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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:25 am

Chapter 14: Duty

Morality depends on an Ideal—Criticism of the theory of Rights and Utilitarianism—Happiness not the end of life—Life is a mission—Work for the sake of Duty—Thought useless without action—Power of the principle of Duty—Duties to self; family; country.

On this religious foundation Mazzini constructed his code of ethics,—Christian, very Christian in its spirit, essentially modern in its application; the noblest morality that has sought to answer to the needs of a democratic society. The law of Progress judges all action by the Ideal, and the sole standard of conduct lies in what a man does that the Ideal may be better realised in himself and others. Without the recognition of such a universal law, demanding their cooperation and conformity, there can be no common rule for men; life becomes the resultant of clashing interests; its line of advance, if advance there be, depends upon mere chance. True education is impossible, because there is no consensus on its aim; we come to value character, as he complained that Carlyle did, not by its goodness, but by its energy and persistence, whether it be to good or evil ends. Everywhere in actual life, the neglect of the Ideal means worship of brute force, cowardly acquiescence in the existing fact, the absence of all striving for a better state. But with the apprehension of the Ideal and of the Divine law, three things follow, incentive to progress. Every man has a rule to guide his individual actions; men of good will will associate their efforts for a common end; and they can appeal to a supreme, positive law against those who break it. "In the consciousness of your law of life, which is the law of God, stands the foundation of your morality, the rule of your actions and your duties, the measure of your responsibility." "If there be no Mind supreme over all human minds, who can save us from the caprice of our fellows, should they chance to be stronger than ourselves? If there be no law, sacred and inviolable, not created by man, what standard can we find to judge whether an act be just or not? In the name of whom or what can we protest against oppression and inequality? Without God, we have no other law but Fact."

Mazzini lived too soon to have to meet a school that denied morality, as that school is developed to-day. But he found a numerous and powerful school, that built morality on what he believed to be radically wrong foundations. The theory of Rights, since the precursors of the French Revolution popularized it, had dominated Liberal thought, except for a handful of thinkers,—Lamennais, Carlyle, Emerson. It had had, he owned, its temporary value, as the necessary rebellion against fatalism and immobility and privilege. "It destroyed the empire of necessity"; it finally asserted the dignity of the individual, so that "God's creature might appear, ready to work, radiant with power and will." "Only, it stopped short of God," for the ideal was hidden from it. Its work was to destroy, and it was unfitted for an age that needed a constructive code of ethics. Mazzini included Utilitarianism in his condemnation, as a mere variant of the principle. He knew that Bentham repudiated the connection; but Bentham's criticism, he thought, was aimed at Blackstone and the theorists of an imaginary compact, not at a system, which based itself on the à priori claims of the individual. The spirit and the consequences were the same in both schools. Bentham and the French alike appealed to the getting side of man and not the giving; both thought of the individual in his self-regarding rather than in his social aspect; neither had an ideal or any imperative binding law for men; both neglected the strongest impulses to right action,—enthusiasm and love and sense of duty. They supplied no guide for conduct; they gave no definition of happiness, nor therefore of what men's rights should be, and left each individual to interpret them by his own fancy. They gave no answer to the question, For what are men to use their liberty? though on the answer depended the whole value of rights. Thus happiness, left without a theory of life's purpose to define it, slided easily into the satisfaction of man's lower part. "Any theory of happiness will make men fall, soon or late, into the suicide of the noblest elements of human nature, will make them go, like Faust, to seek life's elixir in the witch's kitchen." Man's material interests must indeed be cared for, but not for their own sake; they were only instruments to higher ends; they must be satisfied because, only when men have leisure and education and a decent home, the moral life has room to grow. If they became the end and not the means, they led to torpor of the nation's soul, to the paralysis that comes, when men care for power and money only, and a country measures its greatness by its riches and brute strength. The whole position was a false one. No moral theory could work, that made happiness the end of life. The Utilitarians mistook the incident of the journey for the end. The spiritual side of man,—his social instincts, his yearnings after righteousness, the pure uncalculating love that gives up life for duty,—all were outside their scheme. "Martyrdom! Your theory has no inheritance in it. Jesus escapes your logic; Socrates, if you are consistent, must seem to you, as Plato did to Bentham, a sublime fool." Why should men die for their fellows, why suffer prison, exile, poverty, if happiness be the end of life? Why should they toil on, knowing they would not see their labour's fruits, to make life better for a future generation?

Thus the theory supplied no principle of moral action. You cannot, he would say, by any theory of rights make men unselfish. He knew that when a man thinks of happiness, he will not be impartial between his own happiness and other men's, that directly he balances his rights against those of his fellows, he will, however unconsciously, weight the scales in his own favour. It was impossible, he thought, on utilitarian principles to make men work for the happiness of the many. The principle at once sets men thinking on the selfish side, and makes them dole their good deeds with a thrifty hand. "You have taught the rich man," he said, "that society was constituted only to assure his rights, and you ask him then to sacrifice them all for the advancement of a class, with which he has no ties either of affection or custom. He refuses. Will you call him bad? Why should he consent? He is only logical." Mazzini often quoted the fate of fellow-revolutionists, who began life with generous impatience to fight the wrong, but when failure came and disillusion, could not say farewell to joy, and balanced self and duty, till "scepticism twined its serpent coils around them," and he "saw that saddest of all things, the slow death of a soul." "For God's sake," he wrote to an English friend on the education of his son, "do not teach him any Benthamite theory about happiness either individual or collective. A creed of individual happiness would make him an egotist: a creed of collective happiness will reach the same result soon or late. He will perhaps dream Utopias, fight for them, whilst young; then, when he will find that he cannot realise rapidly the dream of his soul, he will turn back to himself and try to conquer his own happiness: sink into egotism." Christ taught another way. "When he came and changed the face of the world, he did not speak of rights to the rich, who had no need to win them, nor to the poor, who would perhaps have imitated the rich and abused them. He did not speak of utility or self-interest to a race corrupted by self-interest and utility. He spoke of Duty; he spoke of Love and Sacrifice and Faith; he said that he only should be first, who had helped all men by his works. And when these words were whispered in the ear of a dead society, they gave it life, they won the millions, they won the world, and advanced the education of mankind one step onward."

And,—as a final criticism,—the theory of rights solved nothing. Mazzini did not waste argument on the automatic identity of public and private interests. Rights jostled against rights, the happiness of one man or one class against another's. The theory could not reconcile them or make peace between the jarring interests; rather, it made war,—"war not of blood but of gold and trickery; less manly than the other kind of war but equally destructive; a ruthless war, in which the strong inevitably crush the weak and inexperienced." He attacked the whole economy of free contract, which made the workman's condition depend not on equity, but on the mere brute conflict of opposing rights, and resulted, he believed, of necessity in the workman's defeat. What good were rights to men, who were too poor or ignorant to use them? "Why do I speak to you of your duties before I speak to you of your rights?" he said to Italian working men in 1847. Because, he answered, the theory of rights has triumphed for half a century, liberty has increased, wealth has multiplied, but the condition of the people grows steadily worse in almost every country.

Mazzini's criticism was aimed at Bentham; had he read the later Utilitarians, as apparently he never did, he would no doubt have owned that some of his arguments had no application to them. Happiness implies a definition of happiness, and therefore an ideal; and that ideal may be as high as was Mazzini's own. He made a theoretical mistake in not distinguishing between the object and the motive of life; though, apart from this, he would have said that the desire of others' good must be, not, as in the Utilitarian theory, one of life's motives, but the motive. But he was always essentially a moralist, whose business was to find a practical, popular, effective rule of conduct. He knew that the search for happiness meant the search for pleasure, and that the search for pleasure ends in "impotence and nothingness"; that the difficulty is not so much to make men know the good, as to make them in actual conduct rate the higher good above the lower; and that they will not do this if happiness is their object, since the average man will then prefer the immediate and easy happiness to the remoter and more difficult, still less will sacrifice his own happiness for that of others. "I should like," he says, "to look for the answer to the problem in a good mother's advice to her child. There you would certainly find utility condemned as a basis of education. Mothers know that, if happiness were made the object of life down here, life almost always would be only too much a bitter irony." As for the individual, so for the many; and to bid the masses seek for pleasure without reference to the higher ends of life, was to lay up bitterness and vanity for them and evil for the nation. And no hedonism, no theory of rights, could supply an operating rule for conduct. Perhaps he underrated the value of the sense of individual rights, and did not see how in an imperfect society, where nobler rules are faint or wanting, it may give strength to human dignity and kill the slave and coward in men. But he knew that it could not make them live and work for others. He had gone through it all in his own experience; he had had unsurpassed opportunities for judging the springs of action in other men, and he knew that there was nothing here to inspire to steady, strenuous social service.

And so he met the theory with an uncompromising repudiation of it all. "Man has one right only, to be free from obstacles that prevent the unimpeded fulfilment of his duties." Life is no search for happiness, whether "by railway shares, selfishness, contemplation," or otherwise. "Our aim is not the greatest possible happiness, but, as Carlyle said, the greatest possible nobleness." "Pain and happiness, ill fortune and good are incidents of the journey. When the wind blows and the rain falls, the traveller draws his cloak closer round, presses his hat on his head, and prepares to fight the storm. Anon the storm leaves him, the sunshine breaks the clouds, and warms his frozen limbs; the traveller smiles and blesses God. But do rain or sunshine change his journey's end?" The end was something other far than happiness. Mazzini looked for a principle that would rate the moral above the material, altruism above selfishness, humanity above the individual; something that would reconcile where Rights divided, that would make men reach to an ideal, and by it live and die for others. "We must find an educative principle, to guide men to better things, to teach them constancy in sacrifice, to bind them to their brothers without making them dependant on any one man's theory or on the brute force of the community. This principle is Duty. We must convince men that they, sons of one God, have here on earth to carry out one law,—that each of us must live not to himself but others,—that the end of life is not to have more or less of happiness but to make ourselves and others better,—that to fight injustice and error, everywhere, for our brothers' good, is not a right only but a duty,—duty we may not without sin neglect, duty that lasts long as life." "Life is a mission," the call that comes to every man to make the ideal real. "Life was given you by God, that you might use it for the profit of Humanity; that you might so direct your individual faculties, that they will develop your brothers' faculties, that by your work you might add something to the collective work of bettering men and finding Truth." Life is a war with evil; "we cannot root it out down here, but we can wage undying battle with it, and everlastingly weaken its dominion." To such God's Providence has called us. The divine plan needs our conscious efforts to assist it, and the law, that rules the Universe, becomes a positive binding law of conduct. Man's bounden duty is everywhere and in all things to forward the progress of humanity, which is written in God's law. "The supreme virtue is sacrifice,—to think, work, fight, suffer, where our lot lies, not for ourselves but others, for the victory of good over evil."

God demands the whole of man. Negative, inactive goodness is nothing by itself. Our duty lies on earth, among our fellow-men, in the busy, throbbing life around us, not in some vain selfish search for spiritual satisfaction. "Rest is immoral. There is here-down and there ought to be no rest." Our business is to make men and their surroundings better, not live for ourselves in self-absorption or æsthetic ecstasy or solitary thought and prayer. That is none other than the search for happiness in subtle shape. "The earth is our workshop; we may not curse it, we must hallow it." "God has placed you here on earth; he has set around you millions of beings like yourselves, whose march keeps pace with yours, whose life finds sustenance in your life. He willed to save you from the perils of solitary existence, and therefore gave you needs, which by yourselves you cannot satisfy,—mastering social instincts, which are only latent in the brute creation and which distinguish you from it. He has placed this world around you,—this world, that you call Matter, glorious in its beauty, teeming with life, life, which, remember, everywhere displays God's finger, but expects your work upon it and multiplies its powers according as your activities are multiplied. He has planted in you inextinguishable sympathies, pity for them that mourn, joy for them that laugh, wrath against the oppressors of God's creatures, the importunate searching for the truth. And you," he is addressing the pietists, "deny and despise those marks of your mission that God has lavished round you, you lay a curse upon his manifestations, when you bid us concentrate our strength in a work of inward purification,—a work imperfect and impossible to the man who is alone." There is no virtue in the cloistered life. There is "nothing worse than depression, nothing more enervating than self-contemplation." "We are here not to contemplate but to transform nature; and self almost always lies at the bottom of contemplation. The world is not a spectacle, it is a field of battle, where all, who love the Just, the Holy, the Beautiful, must bear their part, be they soldiers or generals, conquerors or martyrs." "Do not analyse," he once wrote; "do not light Psyche's lamp to examine and anatomise life. Do good around you: preach what you believe to be the truth and act accordingly; then go through life, looking forward."

Nor will God's servants take thought for their own salvation. "God will not ask us, 'What hast thou done for thy own soul?' but 'What hast thou done for the souls of others, the sister-souls I gave thee?'" "We cannot rise to God save by our brothers' souls, and we must make them better and more pure, even though they ask us not." "When I hear men say, 'There is a just man,' I ask, 'How many souls are saved by him?'" And again, the mere passive love and apprehension of the truth are no fulfilling of God's law. Even the preaching of truth avails not, unless the preacher strive for it in his daily life. "Thought and action," so he never wearied of insisting, must go hand in hand. "What good are ideas," he asked, "unless you incarnate them in deeds?" "It is not enough that thought be grounded on truth; the thinker's life must visibly express it in his acts; there must be an ever living harmony between mind and morals, between the idea and its application." "Every thought, every desire of good, which we do not, come what may, seek to translate into action, is a sin. God thinks in working, and we must, at a distance, copy him." The great men of earth, of whom Jesus was the prototype, were those who wrought as well as thought,—missionaries, politicians, martyrs, as well as poets and philosophers;—such men as Aeschylus and Dante, Pythagoras and Savonarola and Michelangelo,—most of them, he loved to think, Italians. The great nation was that, whose thought was fruitful in great action, which to high ideals linked noble deeds and taught its sons to work and die. "He who sunders faith from works, thought from action, the moral man from the practical or political man, is not in truth religious. He breaks the chain that binds earth and heaven."

Therefore are we called to work, work without ceasing and with all our power, putting behind us fear and thought of self and looking for results or praise of men; work all the more, when evil is strong around us and the way of truth is dark; work, if need be, even unto death. The law of sacrifice, which Christ left us for our heritage, finds its highest, best expression in martyrdom. "Life and death," he replied, when attacked for sending young Italians to their doom in insurrection, "are both sacred: two angels of God, ministering alike to a higher end, the victory of truth and justice." Men may do more by their deaths than by their lives, and the memory of those, who die in the service of their fellows, may inspire generations and win a country's freedom. "It is not enough to follow the instincts of the heart," he wrote to an impulsive youth, "not enough to let the enthusiasm of a good nature impel you to a good deed now and again. This is the career of 'men of an impulse,' who are one degree lower than 'men.' The admiration of the Beautiful, the Great, the Divine, that I ask of you, must be constant in every hour, in every act." We may work from love, while it is given us; but when love grows cold and enthusiasm fails and the damp night of doubt and disappointment settles down, "the simple knowledge of duty" must be there, to bid us work and for ever work. "You must do good," he told another, "for the sake of goodness only." Nor may we ask to see our work's results. Results will come to the race, if not to the individual. Men may see little fruit of their labours; the individual's struggles may end in vanity and disappointment. But the race profits from the seeming waste. The individual, who is left by himself "face to face with infinity," loses courage, as he complained that Carlyle did, and slides into "scepticism and misanthropy." But he will not faint, if he remembers that all Humanity is working to one end; he will know that it is not success that matters, but effort in the right direction. "God measures not our strength but our intentions." "Where you cannot have victory, salute and bless martyrdom. The angels of Martyrdom and Victory are brothers, and both spread their wings above the cradle of your future life." "You may succeed or not," he wrote to a parliamentary candidate; [38] "that is not the vital question. The question is to work manfully; to stand on the ground of a principle, whilst almost everybody makes life a thing of tactics and compromises."

But, when a man has listened to the call of God, and purged his soul of self, and given himself to duty,—sober, persistent, fearless duty,—his is the power that nothing else can give. For duty "borrows from the Divine nature a spark of its omnipotence." Men will not die for rights; they will for duty. They will not give up all that makes life pleasant, brave toil and danger and opprobrium, for self-interest; they will do it for a principle. Only a sense of duty makes a people fight through all a generation for a freedom, that only their children can enjoy. Therefore he, who would rouse men to noble deeds, and lift them to sacrifice and heroism, whether it be in the small things of commonplace citizenship or in the fiery trial of a revolution, must call them in the name of duty. Again he appealed to the great example. "Jesus sought not to save a dying world by criticism. He did not speak of interests to men whom the worship of interests had poisoned with selfishness. He asserted in God's holy name principles unknown before; and those few principles, which we, eighteen centuries after, are still seeking to translate into facts, changed the face of the world. One spark of faith accomplished what all the sophisms of philosophers had had no glimpse of,—a step forward in the education of mankind."

Mazzini probably never asked himself what was the ultimate sanction of his code; and, if he had been pushed to it, it is not easy to surmise what answer he would have given. He could hardly have found the sanction in the positive commandment of the Deity, for he held that the will of God was revealed only through humanity, and this transfers the sanction to another ground. Nor, even had he been familiar with them, would he have based the principle on evolutionary arguments,—that altruism is necessary to the race, that that community will survive, which contains the greatest number of self-sacrificing individuals. He would have assented to the facts, but he would probably have said that no theory of heredity or race selection can explain the origin of altruism, which is a personal, conscious, self-generated sense, which therefore cannot come from any 'natural,' unconscious source. Nor, again, would he have said, as a Utilitarian might say, that the life of duty is the highest form of happiness, that there is a sense in which altruism and egoism are identical, because he most tastes fruition, who loses himself in love and work for other men. There is a truth in this, that Mazzini neglected; he sometimes forgot that Christianity was an Evangel, good tidings of great joy,—that, so long as love and enthusiasm and the martyr's passion possess a man, so far as he has attained to the glorious liberty of the children of God, the life of duty is the highest happiness. But he knew only too well that gloom and depression will come, that, when the light fails, duty becomes a stern taskmaster, and that no principle of happiness (in any acceptation of the word) will keep a man always faithful to his mission. And so he would almost certainly have fallen back on the conscience, as the ultimate moral sanction. "Life," he says, "is a march onwards to Self, through collective Perfecting to the progressive realisation of an Ideal." Whether he had called it 'self-realisation' or any less ambiguous name, he would have come to the position that a man feels that he owes it to himself to strive for the best he knows, to 'do his duty for duty's sake,' that he must justify his thoughts and actions to himself—his unsophisticated self,—that, if not, he will feel remorse and guilt. The practical value of any system of ethics depends on whether it appeals to 'the sanction in the mind itself,' to feelings familiar to the mass of would-be moral men. To such the direct appeal to conscience has more weight than all the arguments of theologians or utilitarians.

In his essay on The Duties of Man and elsewhere Mazzini enumerates the various spheres of duty. A man's duties begin with himself, not from any self-regarding motive, but because as is a man's own worthiness, so is his power to help his country or mankind. Never was one more passionate for personal holiness. 'Be good, be good,' is the recurring theme that runs through all his writings and political aspirations. "There is only one end, the moral progress of man and humanity." "You must labour all your life," he wrote to a young Italian, "to make your own self a temple to the Ideal, to God." "To draw near to God, purifying our conscience as a temple, sacrificing self for love,—this is our mission. To make ourselves better,—this is the order of the day, which must be the rule and consecration of our work." All his labours for his country had the supreme end in view, that Italian men and women should lead godly lives. "Make yourselves better," he said to Italian working men in words, that show how little of the demagogue there was in him, "this must be the object of your life. Preach virtue, sacrifice, and love to the classes above you; and be yourselves virtuous and prepared for sacrifice and love. You must educate and perfect yourselves as well as educate and perfect others."

A man's next duties are to his family. Dear, very dear, to him was the life of family, which he in his self-forgetfulness had put aside. "The only pure joys, unmixed with sadness, that it is given men to enjoy on earth, are the joys of Family." Outside it "men may find brief joys and comforts, but not the supreme comfort, the calm as of a peaceful lake, the calm of trustful sleep, the child's sleep on its mother's breast." The family is an eternal element of human life, more durable even than country; and the true man will make his family the centre of his life, never wandering from it, never neglecting it. True love is "tranquil, resigned, humble," as Dante's love for Beatrice. The wife will be the equal of her husband, she who is "the reflex for the individual of the loving Providence that watches over humanity." Mazzini repudiated any artificial assimilating of the sexes; but their differing functions were equally sacred and necessary. There must be therefore no superiority of man over woman, no inequality, domestic or political. A man must make his wife his comrade, not only in his joys and sorrows, but in his thoughts and work. He must love his children with "a true, deep, severe love." "Before Humanity and God children are the most awful responsibility that a human being can have." "It depends on us," so he quoted from Lamennais, "whether our children turn out men or brutes."

But the family, that shuts itself within its own small circle, betrays its God-appointed function. It was made to be a school of service for humanity, and teach men to be citizens. The égoisme à deux, that forgets country and mankind, the "blind, nerveless, unreasoning love of children, that is selfishness in the parents and destruction for them," betray the family's glorious prerogative. "Few mothers or fathers, in this irreligious age of ours, and especially among the well-to-do classes, understand the gravity and sacredness of their educational duties." Terrible to their country are the fruits of "the selfishness taught by weak mothers and careless fathers, who let their children regard life not as a duty and mission, but as a search for pleasure and a study of their own well-being." The true parent will teach his children not only to be good, but to be patriots, loving their country, honouring its great men; will teach them "not hatred of oppressors but an earnest looking forward to fight oppression," will make them reverent to true authority, but rebels against false. There is danger, he says, in Goethe's maxim: 'do the duty that lies nearest thee.' As him, so it may lead others into a moral solitude, where the cry of humanity comes not. It is so easy in happy life of family, in absorption in one's special work, to forget the duties of a citizen, to avoid the fret and stress, may-be the hardships and the danger, of politics and social duty. But it is not enough for men to be "kind towards their friends, affectionate in their families, inoffensive towards the rest of the world." The true man knows that he may not decline responsibility for those, whom God has made his fellow-citizens. And higher still, higher than family or country, stands Humanity; and no man may do or sanction aught for either, which will hurt the race. Ever before Mazzini stood the vision of the cross, Christ dying for all men, not from utilitarian calculation of the greatest number, but because love embraces all.
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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:25 am

Chapter 14: The State

The moral law and the state—Duties of the state: liberty, association, education—Sovereignty is in God—Democracy—The ideal government—The republic—The ideal state.

In politics, as for the individual, the moral law, so Mazzini taught, must reign supreme. "The end of politics is to apply the moral law to the civil organisation of a country." The state exists for the sake of morality; its one and only final object is to help the moral growth of the men and women within its borders, help it through all the countless influences that society exercises on the individual. Morality is largely determined by environment; and the state must so fashion the environment, that the moral life may ever flourish more abundantly in it. "You cannot found the brotherhood of Christ, where ignorance and misery, servility and corruption on the one side and culture, riches, power on the other prevent any mutual esteem and love. Men will not understand the virtue of sacrifice, where money is the sole foundation of individual security and independence." How can they train their children to true patriotism, when a debased conception of it rules, and all around them men and women are thinking of their private gain and pleasure? How train them to perfect honesty, "when tyranny and espionage compel men to be false or silent on two-thirds of their opinions?" How to despise money, "where gold alone buys honours, influence, respect, nay, is all that stands between them and the caprice and insults of their masters?" "Take a man, for instance," he says, writing in the worst days of working-class depression, "who labours hard from fourteen to sixteen hours a day to obtain the bare necessities of existence; he eats his bacon and potatoes (when indeed he can get them) in a place which might rather be called a den than a house; and then, worn out, lies down and sleeps; he is brutalised in a moral and physical point of view; he has not ideas but propensities,—not beliefs but instincts; he does not read, he cannot read. How can you come at him, how kindle the divine spark that is torpid in his soul, how give the notion of life, of sacred life, to him, who knows it only by the material labour that crushes him and by the wages that abase him? How will you give him more time and more energy to develop his faculties except by lessening the number of hours of labour and increasing his profits? How, above all, will you raise his fallen soul and give him the consciousness of his duties and his rights, except by his initiation into citizenship—in other words, the suffrage?" Some day it will be otherwise. "When there is family life and property, education and political function for all, when through them men have closer communion with one another, then family and property and country and humanity will become more sacred to them all. When Christ's arms, still stretched upon the martyr's cross, are freed to clasp humanity in one embrace, when earth has no more brahmins and pariahs, masters and servants, but only men, then shall we worship with far other faith and other love God's holy name."

There are, in the main, three ways, by which the state can foster the moral life of the citizens. First of all it must secure liberty; not that liberty is an end in itself, but because it is the necessary condition of morality. There can be no morality without responsibility, no responsibility without liberty to choose between good and evil, between social service and self-interest. Liberty is necessary to true progress, for a progress that is imposed from above and not freely accepted by the people,—the whole programme of paternal despotism,—works no change in character, and therefore is "a soulless form," which cannot live. Only the freeman, who owns no lord but God, can attain to his full spiritual stature. "Where liberty is not, life is reduced to a simple organic function. The man, who allows his liberty to be violated, betrays his own nature, and rebels against God's decrees." Thus there are certain fundamental liberties, which not even a democracy may legitimately infringe. "No majority, no force of the community may take from you what makes you men." These liberties include, save in rare exceptions, "all that is indispensable to feed life morally and materially,"—personal liberty, religious liberty, unqualified liberty of speech and press, liberty of association, liberty of trade,—all of them liberties, without which men cannot choose their sphere of duty, without which society is destined to waste or stagnation.

It will be noticed that Mazzini omits not only liberty of immoral action, however 'self-regarding,' but any liberty that has an anti-social tendency. He did not admit, for instance, any absolute right of property, and, as we shall see, limited the right of bequest, and advocated severe taxation to check great inequalities of fortune. Theoretically he believed that government should possess very wide powers. But on the whole, when we come to the details of his social programme, [39] his position is the Liberal one; and (always excepting education) he stood against any great extension of state interference. It was not from any love of individualism and free competition; he hated them as anarchical,—fatal to spiritual unity and true citizenship, fatal to the welfare of the masses. But he wished the higher order to evolve, not from compulsion, which left the moral sense untouched, not by the force of the majority or of a despotism, but through a moral growth, which carried the community willingly and consciously towards a better state. The liberty to do good would become through education the liberty of doing good. This meant, as we shall see, that he allowed no liberty in education, for moral education must be uniform and therefore removed from individual choice. But this encroachment on liberty once made for the sake of a common morality, for the sake of that same morality he desired liberty in most other spheres of civil life.

But liberty is not enough. By itself, it is a mirage for the masses of mankind. "What is liberty of trade for the man without capital or credit? What are free opportunities of education for him who has no time for study?" Only Association can make liberty a reality for the masses, or allow new elements of progress to assert themselves, or save the waste that comes of isolated or conflicting labours. Nay more, association gives the sense of brotherhood, the spiritual strength, that comes from sharing others' work, from merging individual action in a bigger cause. "Association multiplies your strength a hundred fold; it makes the ideas and progress of other men your own; it raises, betters, hallows your nature with the affections of the human family and its growing sense of unity." As Progress is the great intellectual discovery of the modern world, so Association is its new-found instrument. Thus association must be dear to the state as individual liberty; and provided that any particular association is peaceful and public, and respects elementary liberties, and has no immoral end in view, the state must allow it perfect freedom.

Thus the second duty of the state is to encourage association and harmonise it with liberty; to give society the originating power of the latter, the effective strength of the former. Both are "equally necessary to the end, which is progress," both "essential to the orderly development of society." On any sound theory, the two principles postulate one another. There can be no association except among free men, since true association implies a conscious recognition and acceptance of the object. Liberty is meaningless without association, because the individual, for all his freedom, is powerless unless he combine with others. Mazzini carefully dissociated himself alike from the laissez-faire school and a despotic state socialism. The state must encourage combination, but may do nothing to compel it. The members of an association must be unfettered as to its nature and object and methods (always provided that they are legitimate), must be free to take up or resign their membership. "Sacred to us is the individual; sacred is society. We do not mean to destroy the former for the latter and found a collective tyranny; nor do we mean to admit the rights of the individual independently of society, and consign ourselves to perpetual anarchy. We want to balance the operations of liberty and association in a noble harmony." "The republican formula is 'everything in liberty through association.'"

Mazzini did not seriously concern himself with the abstract relations of the individual and society; probably it seemed to him a meaningless dispute. His theory admitted no real antagonism between them. A man's true individuality lies not in self-assertion but in the recognition of his duty to his fellows. This recognition necessarily makes friction impossible between himself and them, and reconciles the individual and society, liberty and association, in a common national aim. Liberty then becomes the higher liberty, not the mere power of refusing evil, but "the power of choosing between the different ways that lead to good." Association becomes the economical direction of the country's forces to a known and common end. It is the function of the state,—a function it alone can execute,—to instil the sense of duty into all its members and make that sense of duty work towards a common ideal. This it must do through national education, and education thus becomes the state's third and weightiest task. In Mazzini's conception education goes far beyond the imparting of knowledge or even the drawing out of character. It is the inspiration of a national faith, the moulding of the soul to great principles of life and duty. It is, next to religion from which it derives, the great binding and harmonising element in a nation, merging individual wills in a common consensus, destroying party friction and class struggle and sectarian faction, and sweeping a united country onward to the fulfilment of its destinies. If it had been objected that the result would be destructive of independence and originality of thought, he would probably have answered that the same spirit does not prevent diversities of operations, and that true originality is better promoted by discipline than by license. Certainly, as his theory of genius shows, he set a very high value on originality. Let thought, he would have said, be free and wide as air, but without community of aim it wastes itself, and the state must prevent that waste. Thus there is no true country without a national education, compulsory and free. Voluntary education has its necessity under a political or spiritual despotism, but it leads to moral anarchy, and religious democracy cannot tolerate false teaching of its children. The country must have "the moral direction of the young." "It is ridiculous to allow every citizen the right to teach his own programme, and refuse the nation the right to transmit its." Once, when discussing the matter with a friend, the question was put to him, "If two states had arrived at an equal stage of education, the one by national and the other by voluntary schools, which would be the finer nation?" "But, my dear," he answered, "that is to be an atheist." The national education must therefore express the national faith and aim, and give "the moral unity, which is far more important than material unity." It is not at all clear how he proposed to ascertain this national faith. For England, he had a curious proposal; "you ought," he said to Jowett, "to ascertain the mind of the people by making enquiries of the clergy and others what they believed, and when you have ascertained the national mind, you should express it in education." In the future Italy he sometimes thought that it would be embodied in a national declaration of principles, drafted by a Constituent Assembly. But more generally he seems to have distrusted the capacity of the democracy to voice the full faith, and he probably reserved it to the spiritual power under the new religion to enunciate its articles.

At all events national education implied above all else moral education, the moral education which is as "a holy communion with all our brothers, with all the generations that lived, and therefore thought and wrought before us." [40] This, he laments, "is anarchy now." If it is left to the parents, it is often neglected or bad; if to the teachers, clerical or lay, it too frequently instils either superstition or materialism, or at all events it has no uniformity. Mazzini intended to write a book on education; if he had done so, we should know more of the agencies, through which he proposed to give moral teaching. Bakounine once asked him, what, if he had got his republic, he would do to make the people really free. Mazzini replied, "Establish schools, in which the duties of man, sacrifice, and devotion would be taught." He had a skeleton programme as a basis of citizen training,—"a course of nationality, including a summary picture of the progress of humanity, national history, and a popular statement of the principles which rule the country's legislation"; but one cannot think that this gave all he wanted. He probably counted more on the universities, and especially on the courses of philosophy; and this no doubt explains his strong dislike of professors, whose teaching seemed to smack of materialism, his indictment of the eclecticism, which allowed different schools to be represented in the chairs. He had a particular animus against German professors and German philosophy. He blamed the appointment of Germans at Oxford; he was very angry that Hegel was taught at the university of Naples. "One fine day," he wrote, "we will sweep out all that stuff."

What form of government was best calculated to attain these ends,—to give full play to liberty, to harmonise it with association, to supply a true national education? No form, Mazzini replied, is right per se. He held to the full, though probably not recognising it, the scholastic doctrine of government by grace. "Sovereignty is not in I nor we but God." "There is no sovereignty of right in any one; sovereignty is in the aim." A government was legitimate in proportion as it stood for righteousness. "There is no sovereignty in the individual or society, except in so far as either conforms itself to the divine plan and law. An individual is either the best interpreter of God's law and governs in his name, or he is a usurper to be overthrown. The simple vote of a majority does not constitute sovereignty, if it evidently contradicts the supreme moral precepts or deliberately shuts the road to progress." "The will of the people is sacred, when it interprets and applies the moral law; null and impotent, when it dissociates itself from the law, and only represents caprice."

The theory is of course, as in the days of the schoolmen, a tremendous instrument for reform. No institution, no branch of legislature, no church, no prerogative or prescriptive claim has any rights against the Right. Do they or not make for the country's good? By the answer they must stand or fall. The theory is supremely true, and on occasion of highest social value. Its dangers lie in the possibility of mistaken application, and in its tendency to regard the form rather than the spirit of an institution,—a danger especially present to minds like Mazzini's, which are deficient in powers of accurate analysis. An institution, so runs their reasoning, has failed; therefore it is wrong; therefore it must be swept away. Reform is impossible; therefore let there be root-and-branch revolution. It is strange that Mazzini, with his admiration of English habits and dislike of French, did not see how here his logic approximated to the latter. He did not see how plastic institutions are, how it is often better to save the great expenditure of force, that must go to destroy a rooted institution, how it is sometimes easier to change the spirit than the form. In this his political wisdom went astray, and his long profitless crusade against the monarchy is a melancholy illustration of the error.

Thus, then, there is no essential sovereignty in any form of government. But democracy is the form most likely to interpret God's law aright. We must "reverence the people," not because they are the majority, "but because they concentrate in themselves all the faculties of human nature distributed among the several individuals,—faculties of religion and politics, industry and art." In other words, the collective wisdom of the many is likely to excel the wisdom of the few; a democratic state can use the special knowledge of every citizen, and choose the most capable for its administrators; and its judgment is likely to be more four-sided and better informed than that of a state with restricted citizenship. And just as Humanity is the interpreter of God's law, so a people often has an inspiration that seldom comes to individuals, glimpses of the truth that are granted to the multitude in moments of enthusiasm, an instinct that impels it to give power to its best men. He even, inconsistently with his general position, justifies democracy on à priori grounds; it is "a potent, undeniable, European fact," and therefore must be a part of God's providential design.

But it is impossible not to feel that all through Mazzini's thought there runs a certain uneasiness about democracy. He accepted it as an inevitable fact; he recognised that at all events it was superior to any government based on privilege; it fitted in with his theory of Humanity and his own passionate sympathies. But he had an intermittent dread that democracy, like theocracy and monarchy, might forget the law of God. He feared that the French Revolution had started it on the wrong road; he had had his disappointments in Italy; in later life he felt the peril that materialist socialism might deflect it from spiritual ends. He advocated universal suffrage, not because of any absolute virtue in it, but as "the starting-point of political education," and he gravely feared that, till national education had created a national consensus, it might easily become a tyranny of the majority. He preferred a system of indirect election. Towards the end of his life he was a keen advocate of women's suffrage, but he was anxious that the agitation for it should be equally an agitation for their own moral growth, a crusade against "their perennial vanity, their worship of ridiculous fashions, their lightness of parties and conversation," their husband-hunting. And this mistrust made him turn to a strong authority, elected and deposable by the people, but with very extended powers, and charged not only to execute the popular mandate, but go in advance of it. "The supreme power in a state must not drag behind the stage of civilisation that informs it; it must rather take the lead in carrying it higher, and, by anticipating the social thought, bring the country up to its own level." It is for republics to make republicans, not republicans republics. He earnestly repudiated the Whig-American theory of government. Anxiously as he guarded personal and religious and commercial liberty, he wished to see the functions of government, at all events in education and as a stimulating and suggestive influence, as wide and not as narrow as possible. Distrust of government in itself, the whole system of checks and balances, he condemned as weakening the power of the state to promote progress. It is extremely difficult to disentangle with precision what was his ideal constitution, and it may be doubted whether he had worked it out himself. Though he probably had no very strong liking for parliamentary government, he seems to have accepted it, and to have wished to give it large executive powers. But above it, and apparently distinct from the executive, was to be the real "government," the spiritual authority, whose duty it would be to "point to the national ideal," while parliament and the executive "directed the forces of the country" in the road it indicated. But there must be no suspicion of dictatorship, and perfect trust and mutual inspiration must unite the spiritual and temporal authorities. [41]

At all events the ideal government, whatever its precise form, could, he believed, exist only under a republic. The story of his life has shown how passionately he clung to his republican faith; how for it he gave or wasted his best days, how his untamable desire for it tangled his work for Italian Unity. His condemnation of monarchy was partly a theoretical one. The republic was "the most logical form of democracy," the only corollary of liberty and equality; monarchy was founded on inequality, its dynastic interests were not the nation's, and therefore it could never give a country moral unity. Whether absolutist or constitutional, it was a sham, because in modern life it corresponded to no real belief, no essential principle; and because it was a sham, it was the fruitful parent of dishonesty. Quite late in life he somewhat changed his point of attack, and condemned it as possessing no vitality to lead, and therefore impotent to found a strong government. But his indictment, at least in his early years, was drawn mainly from the actual evidence of corruption and misrule in the monarchies of the first half of the century. It may well have seemed impossible then to reconcile monarchy with any national well-being. He made little or no exception for constitutional monarchies. Louis Philippe's rule was small argument for the principle; and as late as 1862 he condemned constitutional monarchy as "incompatible with progress," everywhere outside England. For England, in later years, he made an exception; and his judgment here shows that he could view the issue more serenely, when he escaped from his prejudices. "The struggle, which occupies English life," he said in 1870, "is not between the nation and the monarchy, but between the people and the aristocracy, the latter being the one element of the past, that retains and communicates its vitality." In Italy the facts were after 1848 much the same as in England; but here he was blinded by party feeling, and he could never see that what was the real issue in the thirties had gone into the background. His fallacy was a nominalist one. In his early days there had been a vital difference between monarchy and republic. Afterwards the classification became unreal; and the true differentiation lay in various species of parliamentary government, in various relations between parliament and the executive. In his own Italy to-day the republic becomes increasingly a factitious and academic issue, as more vital questions make the true dividing lines in politics.

However mistaken his distinction between republic and monarchy, the republic, as he conceived it, was no mere form of government. "God is my witness," he said, "that I pay no tribute to forms." He had little liking for the republic in the United States, with its weak bond of union, and its system of checks and balances. He refused his blessing to the Third Republic in France. "By the Republic," he told the Roman Assembly in1849, "we do not mean a mere form of government, a name, a system imposed by a victorious party on its rivals. We mean a principle, a new step forward in education taken by the people, a programme of education to be carried out, a political institution calculated to produce a moral advance; we mean the system which must develop liberty, equality, association;—liberty, and consequently every peaceful development of ideas, even when they differ in part from our own;—equality, and therefore we cannot allow political castes to be substituted for the old castes that have passed away; association, that is a complete consensus of all the vital forces of the nation, a complete consensus, so far as is possible, of the entire people." For him the republic meant absolute trust between people and government, choice of the most capable and best for office, a veritable national unity, that destroyed party friction and impelled the undivided forces of the country to social legislation. The republic, and it alone, will be the ideal state, God's kingdom realised on earth, "where institutions tend primarily to the bettering of the most numerous and poorest class, where the principle of association is best developed, where the road of progress has no end, as education gradually develops and all elements that make for stagnation and immobility disappear, where, in fine, the whole community, strong, tranquil, happy, peaceful, bound in a solemn concord, stands on earth as in a temple built to virtue and liberty, to progressive civilisation, to the laws that govern the moral world." There, in the people "that knows no caste or privilege, save of genius and virtue, no proletariat or aristocracy of land or finance," in the people "united by the brotherhood of one sole faith, one sole tradition, one sole thought of love," the people that worships principles more than men, that cherishes its past but looks ever forward to its future, resolute to unlock its destinies,—there stands the city of God, "the similitude of that divine society, where all are equal, and there is one love, one happiness for all."
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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:25 am

Chapter 16: Social Theories

Importance of social questions—Their moral basis—Attack on socialism—Contrast between Mazzini's and its theories and work—Social programme—Cooperation.

Mazzini's faith in the republic came largely of his conviction that it was the only effective instrument for social legislation. He was sometimes charged with neglecting social for political reform, with preaching, as Bakounine put it, a "detestable bourgeois patriotism." The charge was true for no time of his life, least for his later years. To him the social question was "the most sacred" as it was "the most hazardous" problem of the age. He was one of the first to insist that the rise of the working classes was the great social phenomenon of the century. Political reform, so he told the Carbonari and the Chartists, had its only sufficiency and justification, when it was the instrument of social reform. This did not quite represent his thought, for he was insistent that questions of political liberty and justice intimately touched man's moral development; but he held with equal earnestness that the social question had its independent and undying importance. "There is no such thing," he wrote, "as a purely political or purely social revolution; every true revolution has its political and social character alike."

All his passionate sympathy went out to the disinherited. Compassion, says one who knew him, shone in his face and vibrated in his voice, when he spoke of the masses and their hardships. He felt intensely for a lot, which in the '40s and '50s he believed was growing steadily worse. Indignantly he spoke of the workman's "poverty-stricken, cribbed, precarious life, closing in infirm and squalid and unassisted old age." "The workman has no freedom of contract," he replied to the old economists, "he is a slave; he has no alternative but hunger or the pay, however small it be, that his employer offers him. And his pay is a wage; a wage often insufficient for his daily needs, almost always unequal to the value of his work. His hands can multiply the employer's capital three fold, four fold, but not so his own pay. Hence his incapacity to save; hence the unrelieved, irreparable misery of commercial crises." And even without crises, "his life is poisoned by a sense of uncertainty and constant dread; and old age,—brought on prematurely by heavy and often unhealthy work,—awaits him, threatening, implacable." His "destiny is that of accursed races,—to live and suffer, curse and die." "A life of poverty and a death-bed in a hospital,—that is what society in this nineteenth century provides for two-thirds of its members in almost every country, eighteen hundred years and more since a Holy One, that men hail as divine, proclaimed that all are equals and brothers and sons of God."

But he was no pessimist, at all events in later years, when he knew the workman better, and saw that, in spite of all, he was advancing and gave promise of infinite further advance. The day of deliverance was near. The workman's emancipation was inevitable, written in the decrees of Providence. The labour question was the acknowledged problem of the time, its solution "the social faith of all men now who love and know." "The upward movement of the artisan classes in our towns," he wrote towards the end of life, "dates back now for more than a century; slow but tenacious in its progress, advancing from decade to decade by a law of increasing momentum, and in these last twenty years growing, visibly for all, in intensity and expansion, and acquiring, as it goes, real power and self-consciousness." It all was "leading up to a great revolution, an impulse given by Providence, nevermore to recede, till it has reached its end." And he gloried in it. Whatever fears he may have had for the working of democracy, he had none for the labour movement. The rise of the working classes was "as a flowing tide, that the divine breath has stirred"; and he watched it "not with fear, but with the loving reverence, with which one watches a great providential fact."

But just because his faith and love were great, he was not afraid to point "the men of labour" to the heights. It was his familiar precept of the moral aim. "Material improvements," he told them, "are essential, and we will fight to win them; not because men have no other interest than to be well housed and clothed, but because your moral development is stopped, while you are, as you are to-day, engaged in a continual fight with poverty." So too in his rather scanty references to political economy, he insists that its teaching must always have reference to a moral ideal. Economics must be "the expression not of the human appetite but of man's industrial mission." Otherwise, they "substitute the problem of humanity's kitchen for the problem of humanity," and teach selfishness for individuals and classes and industrial warfare. It was not only that economic progress must aim consistently at personal morality, at making better husbands, fathers, neighbours, that it must be pure of any spirit of bitterness or revenge or aught that sins against the brotherhood of man. Besides all this, it must not be allowed to maim the working man's powers and duties as a citizen, must never be purchased by the sacrifice of political liberty or manliness. He pointed for his moral to France in 1849 and 1850, when the French artisans sold their political rights to Louis Napoleon for the promise of a labour policy. 'Bread and amusements,' he reminded them, were ever the offer of despots. Outside liberty and strenuous political interest there was no salvation, economic or other. The true man will think not only of his class but of his country, and not of his own country only, but of the sufferings and rights of men the whole world over. If the working classes forgot their political duties, thought lightly of political reform, connived at an unjust foreign policy, they sacrificed one of their nature's noblest functions, and built their own economic progress on the sand. And he believed that, France notwithstanding, the people always knew this in their hearts. The Chartists, he pointed out, with their bare, imperfect political programme, had more followers than all the French Socialists. "The last of those you call political agitators," he told the latter, "will always have more influence with the people than all your utopias; because at the root of every political question the people has at least a glimpse of something that appeals to its soul, something that gives it self-consciousness and raises its trampled dignity." "The working men of Italy fought like heroes at Milan and Brescia, in Sicily and at Rome, not for a rise of wages, but for the honour of the Italian name, for the free life of their nation. The working men of Paris fought and won in 1848, not because of a financial crisis or their own poverty, but because the monarchy dragged France's glory and duty in the mud, because it refused French citizens a free press, and free right of meeting and association."

It was from this standpoint that he attacked Socialism. We need not concern ourselves with his strictures on the expired schools of the early French Socialists, or with his very crude criticism of Louis Blanc,—criticism, which he would hardly have made in later life, and which is certainly inconsistent with his own social schemes. We can neglect, too, much of his attack on the economic side of collectivism, which he never really understood. It is more to the point to assume a greater knowledge of modern Socialism than he possessed, and see what is his essential relationship to it. He had not a few ideas in common with the Marxite school. His own industrial ideal contained, though he knew it not, the germs of the socialist community. He looked as earnestly and confidently as they do to the death of capitalism, and built his hopes on the development of association; he recognised with them the inevitable historic evolution of the workers, and that it is the march of the humble, unknown multitude, and not the hero, which determines the world's progress; he hailed the time, when classes would be no more, and all be equals in rights and opportunities, and he believed that this equality could never be reached under a capitalist system.

But in root principles he differed from the strict Marxites almost as essentially as he himself supposed. While with him moral and spiritual phenomena are the fundamental facts, Marx builds his system on material phenomena. For the collectivist, man is chiefly the product of his economic surroundings; for Mazzini, the social and industrial environment is only "the manifestation of the moral and intellectual condition of humanity at a given period, and above all of its faith." For the one, history is the sequence of economic cause and effect, and the growth of mind and morals is the secondary consequence of economic facts; with the other, the economic facts, though not neglected, are subordinated, religion is the master principle of human progress, and religious systems are the milestones that mark the road. The two schools are absolutely antagonistic in their conception of the ideal. Marx and his followers would discover it by the right interpretation of the drift of facts; if indeed we can call it an ideal, what is accepted merely as a necessary tendency, and when right and wrong are judged by the fact, not the fact by right and wrong. Mazzini understood to the full the value of facts as conditioning the ideal, as pointing out how far it was attainable at the moment, nay, as in some degree indicating the ideal itself. But to him right and wrong had no dependance on the existing fact; facts tended to approximate to the ideal, because the ideal was sovereign, and Providence guided them towards it; and it was man's free privilege and bounden duty to help the work of Providence, and be lord of facts. Mazzini did not kick against the pricks of economic evolution; he took modern industrialism as it is, and never wished to thwart the natural tendencies of industrial discovery. But he claimed that man has power to turn them to good or evil,—a good or evil that has reference not to them but to a moral end.

Hence their teaching has differed widely in its practical consequences. Marx deduced from his economic studies a confident and detailed prophecy of economic development. It was a faith, whose assurance and optimism gives it a mighty power to sway men, so long as faith stays unquestioned. But economic dogmas, especially of the prophetic kind, are apt to be shaken by the rough wind of facts; and it has been the fate of Marx' system to be line by line explained away by its commentators. If it still retains its influence,—and, indeed, it is a potent influence,—it is because it has quieted scepticism by shedding much of its founder's doctrine, and because it finds and has more or less always found expression in a political programme, such as Mazzini preached, aiming at high ends of liberty and justice. Mazzini, so confident often in his religious and political horoscopes, here chose a humbler part. He insisted indeed on one broad economic principle,—association, and he pointed to certain reforms of immediate practicability. But he resolutely refused to forecast the economic future. Humanity, he would repeat, goes on its own way, and laughs at the man, who finds "the secret of the world under his pillow." "I think," he wrote, "that our problem is not so much to define the forms of future progress, as to place the individual under such conditions as make it easy for him to understand and fulfil it." He created no great party of the proletariat; it was his as useful function to fertilise the moral soil, to inspire all classes with a deeper sense of social obligation, and thus to ease the road for social progress, whatever particular shape the circumstances of the time might counsel it to take.

The two men differ again radically in their influence on class relations. To Mazzini 'the struggle of classes,' however peaceful and legal in its form, would have been a hateful idea. It is true he sternly rebuked the short-sighted folly of the richer classes, and he would find excuses for wild acts or theories of proletariat protest. But he set his face resolutely against class hatred, against dreams of violence and revenge, against social revolutions which worked hardship to the individual. Hopeless as he was of enlisting the upper classes, at least in Italy, on the side of social reform, he set his hopes on the middle classes; and from the days of the Apostolato Popolare down to the last years of life, he preached insistently that middle and working classes must stand together in the social movement. The whole theory of Duty looked to the harmonising of motives, not to the brute struggle of opposing social forces. The collectivist takes the social discord for granted, and bids the workers trust to themselves alone and win their ends by force, however much force may be disguised behind the vote. Each principle has its time; the socialist mistake has been to elevate to a principle, what is the sad necessity of an uninspired age.

It remains to examine Mazzini's own programme of social reconstruction. He lays down certain economic axioms. First, private property must remain, however much the State should try to equalise fortunes through taxation. Mazzini endorses the familiar argument from expediency,—the necessity of property to stimulate labour and encourage invention. But his apology for it is in the main an à priori one. "Property," he says, "when it is the result of labour, represents the activity of the body, as thought represents the activity of the soul; it is the visible sign of our part in the transformation of the material world, as our ideas and our rights to liberty and inviolability of conscience are the signs of our part in the transformation of the moral world. The man who works and produces has a right to the fruits of his own labour; in this resides the right of property." [42] There is a flavour of Ricardo and Marx in this, and it is easy to see a socialist application, unintended by the writer. Next, the new social organisation must not be the work of compulsion. He saw that voluntary working-class organisation was an essential preliminary to any lasting social advance; and, as we shall see, his own schemes pivot on voluntary societies for cooperative production. And lastly, schemes of economic change must always aim at increasing productiveness. He knew that there could be no serious improvement in the workman's condition, unless the national production were increased; and he seems to have dimly realised that the two things must mutually react, any rise in the workman's income increasing the demand for commodities and thereby stimulating production, and this increase of production in its turn encouraging a further increase of the workman's pay.

When we come to the particulars of his economic programme, we find fertility and boldness of suggestion, but small attempt to work out the details. He was constitutionally unfitted to be an economist; he lacked the necessary precision of thought and accuracy of analysis. He rather despised economic study, at all events when it came from books. A real knowledge of the economic question is to be found, he says, "in the workshops and the homes of the artisans," rather than in "statistics and documents, which are sometimes erroneous, always incomplete, compiled as they are either by officials, whose tendency is to conceal the evil, or by private individuals, whose tendency is to exaggerate it." He trusted to a knowledge of the workman's thoughts and aspirations, gleaned from close and affectionate intercourse, more than to any inquiry into the outside facts of his life.

His suggestions were many. Among the more commonplace were free trade in land, legislation to protect tenants, arbitration between capital and labour, national insurance (apparently to be compulsory), the regulation by the state of "that den of robbers," the Stock Exchange. At one time he wished the state to guarantee work for everybody, but as he does not mention the proposal later than 1849, it may be assumed that he relinquished it. For Italy, he suggested a great scheme of home colonisation on her unreclaimed lands; and it is a curious instance of his want of accurate enquiry, that in his advocacy of it he took no account of the all-important factor of malaria. It is curious, too, that, like many Italians at the opposite pole of thought, he disliked emigration, and would gladly have checked what has proved to be one of the chief sources of Italian development. All these, however, were minor suggestions. His programme rested mainly on two proposals,—a radical reform of taxation, and the gradual supersession of capitalism by voluntary cooperative societies of workmen. His canons of taxation are shortly stated and may be shortly summarised. Economy in collection, free trade, no taxes on food, the smallest possible incidence on industry were his fiscal maxims; and he wished to carry them out by abolishing all indirect taxation and, apparently too, all special taxes on land, and substituting a single tax on income, to be graduated and, it would seem, severely graduated. He also proposed that in all cases of persons dying without heirs within the fourth degree, estates should lapse to the state.

He looked for more radical change to his scheme of cooperative production, a scheme which appears in its main outlines as early as 1833, but which he worked out in more detail in the last ten years of his life. It was a special application of the same principle of Association, which he had carried into other branches of social and political activity. He proposed that a great national capital should be accumulated for the purpose. Church lands, railways, mines, and "some great industrial enterprises," which he never specified, were to be nationalised, whether or not with compensation does not appear. At one time he wished to confiscate in Italy the estates of those, who fought against the nationalist cause,—a proposal strangely out of harmony with his usual tolerance. The income from these sources, from the rents of reclaimed lands and existing national and communal estates, and from properties which lapsed to the state, would form the "National Fund" or "tax of democracy." At one time he destined part of the fund to education, another part to assist any European democracy struggling for its rights. But its main, and perhaps in his later idea its only purpose was to assist the spread of voluntary societies for cooperative production, industrial and agricultural. Any such society, that could prove its members' honesty and capacity, might claim to have its capital advanced from the Fund. The loans were to be at 1 or 1½ per cent., and were to be made through special banks administered by the Communal Councils. Nothing is said as to the repayment of the loans, but as he contemplated the extension of the societies, till they ultimately covered the whole field of industry, we may assume that the loans were to be repaid and passed on to new societies. The societies were apparently to be left absolutely free as to the management of their business, the sale of produce, and the disposal of their net income. To assist their credit, they were to have the right to deposit any unsold produce in national magazines, and receive in exchange negotiable notes, which, it seems to follow, would have been legal tender. The societies were also to be admitted on equal terms with private firms to contract for government work; this latter was perhaps the first suggestion of a system, which is now working in Italy with some success.

Such were Mazzini's sketchy but suggestive economic schemes,—schemes which, he believed, would ultimately destroy both poverty and capitalism, without hardship to individuals or danger to liberty, leavening the social morality with the God-given principle of association. He seems to have never asked himself what would be the ultimate destiny of his co-operative scheme; had he done so, he must have seen that, by however different a road, it was bound to end in collectivism. It will be recognized now that his plan was in all essentials identical with latter-day socialism, as put out by its best exponents, and it may be claimed that in the world of ideas Mazzini more than Marx is its father. That his scheme would soon come into working, he had little doubt, at all events in Italy. For in his social plans, as in all else, his own Italy was ever uppermost in mind. He knew, when few others knew it, the patience and common-sense and idealism of the Italian artisan, and he proudly counted on him to let Italy lead the nations in the solution of the labour question.
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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:26 am

Chapter 17: Nationality

Country and humanity—The marks of nationality: the will of the people; the sense of national mission—Patriotism—International solidarity—Ethics of foreign policy: non-intervention; war; the special missions of each country—The future of Europe—The Slavs—The United States of Europe—Italy's international function.

The law of Duty, man's bounden service to humanity, goes on beyond the individual and the state to be the rule of international relations. Man's end, so runs Mazzini's argument, is to serve the progress of humanity. But the individual, in his isolated impotence, would shrink from the immensity of the burden. And for most men, humanity excites no effective sense of obligation; they will give for country what they will not give for the wider and remoter circle of mankind. The cosmopolitan, who talks of duty to humanity and neglects the nation, is as one who bids men climb a ladder and takes away the rungs. Therefore Providence, once again applying the law of association, has placed the individual among men of like feelings and aspirations, that serving his country he may serve humanity, that through the nation and its common strength he may have power to help the progress of the world. Thus a nation is a God-appointed instrument for the welfare of the race, and in this alone its moral essence lies. "Nationality is sacred to me," he says, "because I see in it the instrument of labour for the good and progress of all men." "Countries are the workshops of humanity"; "a nation is a living task, her life is not her own, but a force and a function in the universal Providential scheme." "Humanity is a great army, marching to the conquest of unknown lands, against enemies both strong and cunning. The peoples are its corps, each with its special operation to carry out, and the common victory depends on the exactness, with which they execute the different operations."

This "division of European labour" is essential to the progress of Europe, and, through it, of the world. But each group of humanity's workmen, if it is to be efficient, must be organised, not by coercion, but by free acceptance of their obligations; they must be impelled by duty and the sense of a great common work to do. Each nation must be a living, homogeneous entity, with its own faith and consciousness of self. Europe, in Mazzini's lifetime, had little of this. He condemned its existing divisions as answering to no principle, since for the most part they were agglomerations of territory, made in the interests of a royal dynasty or in the name of some artificial principle, as the balance of power; and therefore they were powerless to inspire a common national effort for an intelligent and useful end. Factitious and immoral ends filled up the void; unsatisfied national yearnings burst imperiously through diplomatic schemes of peace; there was little of the burning love of independence, that alone safeguarded from designs of aggressive empire, from France in the past, from Russia in the present. The map of Europe must be drawn afresh, and states be made conterminous with nationalities.

What, then, are the inherent, essential marks of nationality? Are race and geographical features, language and literature, customs and traditions? None of these, Mazzini replied, are more than secondary elements, race least of all. Wiser and juster than Bismarck and his school, he saw that race, even if it were discoverable, has small connection with the facts of to-day. He did not investigate the dark problem of race characteristics, he did not even ask whether race affinities are among the physical causes that create a national feeling. But, none the less, his argument is indestructible against the theory that makes race the chief base of nationality. He was saved from ethnological fancies by his sensible conclusion, that races are too intimately compounded to be a cause of national character. "There is not a single spot in Europe," he declared, "where an unmixed race can be detected." "France, the most powerful nationality of the modern world, is a mixture of Germans, Celts, and Romans." There is one aspect however of the race question, that he did not sufficiently recognise. However imaginary the original ethnological basis of a country may be and generally is, yet some races have been fixed for several centuries; and this has generated a belief in a common racial origin, which, however false historically, may none the less, when supported by a common language, become an important and sometimes a dominant factor in creating a sense of nationality.

He gave his fancy play in determining the influence of geography. He loved geographical study, and as usual sought for a spiritual purpose underlying the physical facts. "By the courses of the great rivers, by the lines of the high mountains, and other geographical features God has marked the natural borders of the nations." "Nationalities," he said, "appear to me to have been traced long ago by the finger of Providence on the map of Europe"; and Italy, for instance, had her "sublime, irrefutable boundary marks." He left this transcendentalism for safer ground, when he came to language and literature, and recognised what potent factors they had been in the making of nations. The importance of language was sufficiently obvious. Literature had sometimes, as in the case of his own Italy, remained the one surviving sign of nationality, when all else was lost. He knew how great had been the influence of Dante in forming the national sense of his own country; how much the Polish poets of the century had done to feed the Slav national spirit; how intimate is the power of national melodies; what the common possession of a great poet may do to knit a people. He realised too, though perhaps insufficiently, how history has helped to form nations; how a common government draws a people together in common loyalty or common revolt; how war may be a welding influence; how men, living for generations under the same law, acquire from it common habits and customs and traditions.

All these, however, are but the formative elements of nationality; they are not its essence. Mazzini's clear democratic faith kept him from confusing the justification of the fact with its causes. Nationality was independent of any of them. Centuries of divided government had not destroyed the national sense of Italy; Switzerland was a nation for all its diversity of languages; difference of tongues did not prevent Poland and Lithuania from sharing the same national aspirations; Alsace belonged to France, however German it might be by race and history. Nationality is a sentiment, a moral phenomenon, which may be generated by material causes, but exists by virtue of moral facts. On any theory of freedom or democracy it can have no positive, meaning basis but the popular will; and it is a parody of nationality that unites by coercion. "Nationalities can be founded only for and upon and by the people"; and it follows that when the inhabitants of a territory desire to be a nation, provided that behind their desire there lies a moral purpose, they have the right to be one. This, despite slight and rare inconsistencies, he made the broad clear principle of modern, democratic nationality, a principle "invincible as conscience," whose triumph no hostility of kings or statesmen, no artificial counterfeits can permanently hinder.

Still, he held, the mere fact of the popular will is not enough. Nationality, like every political phenomenon, must have a moral aim to justify it. A mere momentary reaction against misgovernment, for instance, gave no sufficient claim to independence. "In questions of nationality, as in every other question, the end alone is sovereign"; and a true nation must have its moral intention, its clear and understood mission to accomplish for itself and for humanity, its conscious part in realising the divine idea on earth. It is only in its homage to the moral law, that a nation finds its "baptism and consecration." "A community of men drawn together by a selfish principle for a purely material purpose is not thereby a nation. To constitute a nation, its informing principle and purpose and right must be grounded on eternal bases. The purpose must be essentially a moral one, since a material interest by itself is by its nature finite, and can therefore form no basis of perpetual union." "Country is not a territory; territory is only its base; country is the idea that rises on that base, the thought of love that draws together all the sons of that territory."

This love is patriotism. "O my brothers," he says, "love your country. Country is our house, the house that God has given us, setting therein a populous family, to love us and be loved by us, to understand us and be understood by us better and more readily than others are." It was by such burning patriotism he saved his country and was first to practise it himself. But he detested the sentimental and emotional patriot. His patriotism was a silent, manly thing, that hated display and braggart talk; it was as a steady spiritual flame, that never roared to heaven and never sank to ashes. He tested it by its fruit in the individual life. No ill-living man was true patriot. "Let country," he said, "be incarnated in each one of you; each one of you feel and make himself responsible for his brothers; each of you so act that in yourselves men may respect and love your country." "Where the citizen does not know that he must give lustre to his country, not borrow lustre from it, that country may be strong but never happy." Real patriotism will not fear to speak the truth. "Flattery will never save a country, nor proud words make us less abject." "The honour of a country depends much more on removing its faults than on boasting of its qualities." One can imagine what would have been his scorn for the degenerate imperialism of latter days. The patriot's supreme desire is that his country's true honour may be untarnished; he thinks more of duty than of victory. His own Roman Republic, that glorious and illuminating example of patriotism, had small hope of success, but its honour stood entire, and therefore morally it triumphed. Success, empire, military glory may be a country's lot; so may failure and defeat and poverty; neither this nor that fate touches its real being. True national dignity and glory lie in right doing, and humiliation comes only from public dishonour and a mendacious diplomacy. "You must keep your country pure of selfishness," was his maxim of patriotism for Italian working men.

Patriotism, then, is intense regard for a country's moral greatness; and it expresses itself in that sense of national duty, which he held to be the only justification of a country's national existence. This duty has two objects, the community itself and all humanity. We have seen what he conceived to be a nation's duty to its members; there is no true country, he said, without a national education, or where men starve for want of work. Here we are more concerned with that forwardness to serve humanity, which he made the other mark of the true nation. "National life and international life should be two manifestations of the same principle, the love of good." Above the separate nations stands the European brotherhood, the late-born child of Christianity. Sir Thomas More, he says, first formulated the new law of peace; literature and trade and travel are ever drawing the nations together by "a law of moral gravitation" [43]; the French Revolution echoed through the democracies of Europe; the struggle with Napoleon renewed the common understanding of the nations. The cause of the people is the same the whole world over, and the democracies must join hands to fight the battle of them all, as he had tried to make them do, when he founded Young Europe. Humanitarian movements,—the abolition of the slave trade, the cause of Greece and Italy,—were European. "There exists then in Europe a harmony of needs and wishes, a common thought, a universal mind, which directs the nations by convergent paths to the same goal." No country may be isolated, economically or intellectually; and it is a poor and counterfeit patriotism, that despises other countries. That way lies destruction. "A nation's growth depends on the trust that other peoples place in it"; a country guided by a moral principle "finds everything open readily to it from markets to political alliances," but one that stands for an unjust policy has mistrust and jealousy for its portion.

Hence the country, that does injury to another, sins against itself. "I hate," he said, "the monopolist, usurping nation, that sees its own strength and greatness only in the weakness and poverty of others." That is a poor and stunted people, whose foreign policy is "one of aggrandisement and selfishness, whether it seeks them basely or buys glory at other men's expense." Countries, that cherish liberty at home and outrage it abroad, "are fated to expiate their error through long years of isolation and oppression and anarchy." So far he preached familiar doctrine, but he carried it into regions of his own. International duty does not stop at non-aggression. Every country has its positive duty to humanity; and while evil is enthroned, and right can hardly hold its own, and the eternal battle rages round, it may not stand aside in cowardly forgetfulness. Mazzini abhorred the doctrine of non-intervention—the principle that no country may interfere in the domestic matters of another,—a doctrine which the Americans and Canning introduced for the protection of freedom, but which less hardy statesmen in France and England had perverted to excuse their own faint-heartedness. If the principle had been generally accepted, if it had meant for instance that France could not intervene at Rome or Russia restore despotism in Hungary, it might have worked successfully. But practically it meant that "intervention was all on the wrong side," that only England observed the principle, and therefore the one Great Power, which in some degree stood for liberty, tied its own hands, while the Powers that stood for despotism worked "their unhallowed ends when, where, and how they thought fit" over three-fourths of Europe. As Mazzini pointed out, the theory took for granted a system based on nationality; and where nationality was non-existent, as in Italy and South-Eastern Europe, it had no rightful application. At the best it was a "poor and incomplete" doctrine. A country has its "bonds of international duty," obligatory in proportion to its strength. "The absolute doctrine of non-intervention in politics corresponds to indifference in religion; it is a masked atheism, a negation of all belief, of every general principle, of any mission of a nation in humanity's behalf." "Neutrality in a war of principles is mere passive existence, forgetfulness of all that makes a people sacred, the negation of the common law of nations, political atheism. On one side," he was speaking to Englishmen in 1859, "stands the flag of liberty and right, of the true and good; on the other the flag of tyranny and ambition, of the false and evil. And you, a free nation and strong, you who profess belief in truth and justice, would you say, 'Between evil and good we will remain neutral, impassive spectators'? It is the word of Cain. No people, that chooses to teach that policy, may dare to call itself Christian, for it is practically a people of atheists or cowards. Sooner or later a tremendous expiation will visit the cowardly desertion of the duty which God lays on peoples as on individuals." "Can it be that England," he wrote twelve years earlier, "the England of the Reformation, the England of Elizabeth and of Cromwell, self-centred in immoral indifference, gives up Europe to the dictatorship of force?"

Hence he was no believer in peace at any price. Sternly, indeed, he condemned war, when it was not fought for a right principle; it was "fratricide," if not imperative in the interests of the race. But it was "sacred as peace, when the triumph of good is to be its issue." He attacked the Manchester School for perverting the sense of human solidarity. "Peace," he wrote to the Geneva Congress of 1867, "cannot become a law of human society, except by passing through the struggle, which will ground life and association on foundations of justice and liberty, on the wreck of every power which exists not for a principle but for a dynastic interest." Europe, he held, could not have lasting peace, till Austria and Turkey made way for the nationalities, which they held down; it would ever be perturbed by fears of Russian aggression, till Poland was restored to be its bulwark; and only war could free the Poles and Southern Slavs. "When you have substituted justice for tyranny, truth for falsehood, duty for selfish interests, the republic for monarchy, then you will have peace, but not till then."

Mazzini, unluckily, was not content with the broad human principle that a country must use its strength for right and freedom everywhere. He appended a theory, which has its germ of truth, but defies definition, and is easily twisted to save a special argument. Each nation had, he thought, some distinct and specialised service to render to humanity. "God has written one line of his thought on the cradle of each people." "Special interests, special aptitudes, and before all special functions, a special mission to fulfil, a special work to be done in the cause of the advancement of humanity, seem to me the true, infallible characteristics of nationalities." The theory escapes any exact precision; but it offers a rich field for poetry, and Mazzini's imagination was at home in it. England's function was "industry and colonies," Russia's was the civilisation of Asia, Poland's "the Slav initiative." Germany's mark was thought, France's was action, Italy's thought in unison with action. "While the German walks earth with his sight lost in the depths of heaven, and the Frenchman's eye rarely looks aloft but scours earth's surface with its restless penetrating glance, the Genius, that guards the destinies of Italy, has been ever wont to pass swiftly from the ideal to the real, seeking from of old how earth and heaven may be joined together." We have seen what curious use he made of this theory of special missions to rebut Irish claims.

Such were the principles of nationality, and nations built on them would make the Europe of the future. Mazzini believed that democracy would tend towards large nations. He repudiated any love of administrative centralisation and urged the widest local government; but the bigger the nation, the more perfect, he thought, would be the development of association within it, and the greater therefore its momentum on the road of progress. And, as the larger nations would be approximately equal in territory or population, a new and natural balance of power would arise to safeguard peace. This liking for large countries sometimes nearly led him into inconsistencies with his own principles, and made him question the national basis of most small states. He made a confident forecast of the future European settlement. (He was writing, of course, prior to 1870.) England and France (apart from Savoy and Nice) were the only countries, whose territory marched with their natural borders, and they alone would remain unchanged. Italy would be united, and include the border districts and islands that spoke the Italian tongue, except, apparently, the Canton of the Ticino. Germany, including the German-speaking provinces of Austria, would also achieve its unity, but be divided into two or three "great administrative sections." Spain and Portugal would form a single country. Greece would expand over all territories with a Greek-speaking population. Switzerland would be the nucleus of an Alpine Federation, embracing Savoy and the Tyrol. Holland was, apparently, to keep its independence; Belgium, on the other hand, had no future as a nation, though he does not indicate its destiny. In early life he seems to have thought that Denmark would remain a separate state; afterwards he believed that the three Scandinavian states were inevitably destined to unity.

The most difficult problem, of course, was that of Eastern Europe. Mazzini evidently thought that, next to the unity of his own country, the Slav movement was the most important question in European politics. Here was a mighty people, awakening to life, proving its power by its literature,—for it, he believed, had produced the only living poetry since Goethe and Byron,—claiming its rightful place in the European commonwealth. Nothing could arrest the self-assertion of the Slavs, but the future of Europe largely depended on the direction which it took. If the other nations hailed it and guided it, it would enrich the life of Europe by the new elements it brought into it; if it went unfriended and undirected, it would be perverted into "Czarism," and cost Europe twenty years of bloodshed to check Muscovite ambitions. Two things Europe would do well to keep in mind. It was as useless as it was immoral to bolster up Austria and Turkey, for the Slav movement would be inevitably fatal to them both. And Europe must see that the Slavs became a barrier and not a help to Russian designs of domination. This could be done, and done only, by helping the non-Russian Slavs to organise themselves into powerful and independent nations. Czarism owed its strength not to Panslavist aspirations, but to the fact that the Czar was the only hope of the Christian populations of the Balkans. Mazzini's detailed forecast of the Slav national settlement varied from time to time; but his favourite plan was that Russians, Poles, Czechs, and Serbs should form four separate nationalities. In curious and impossible inconsistency with his own principles, he seems to have thought that Hungary and Roumania would be annexed to or federated with one or other of these states; and he looked to a federal union of Serbs and Greeks, with Constantinople, as a free city, for the centre of the federation.

Out of the nationalities would grow "the United States of Europe, the republican alliance of the peoples," "that great European federation, whose task it is to unite in one association all the political families of the old world, destroy the partitions that dynastic rivalries have made, and consolidate and respect nationalities." Mazzini's ken, strange to say, was almost restricted to Europe. He scarcely mentions in this connection the American United States, though sometimes he seems perhaps to imply that they would enter the European commonwealth. He had no inkling that Eastern races might claim their own independent development. His forecast of European colonisation hardly extended beyond Asia and North Africa; he believed that Asia was destined to be "an appendix of Europe," and that the great stream of European colonisation would set towards it, chiefly through the agency of Russia and England. Thus he was concerned with Europe only; and for the Europe of the future, a federation of harmonious nationalities, he had a splendid prophecy. When nationality had triumphed, "all cause of war would disappear, and in its place arise a spirit of brotherhood and peaceful emulation on the road of progress." Revolutions would be no more, and "the slow, continuous, normal unfolding of activities and powers" would lead the nations ever onwards. We come again to his vision of a European authority, sitting at Rome to give guidance and harmony to the peoples. When the great day arrived, that brought the victory of liberty and nationality, the peoples would assemble their "true General Council." No doubt the Council was the same as that which would define the new religious faith. It would formulate the common national duties of the peoples, and secure their freedom to perform those duties, while the separate national councils defined the special duty of each country.

It would be Italy's glorious function to lead the nations to this unity. France had lost the opportunity in 1815; England, when she isolated herself from the life of Europe by her enslavement to non-intervention; the Slav countries were disqualified by their rivalries or obsequiousness to Russia. Italy had her unquestioned titles to the proud hegemony,—her geographical position, her character, her traditions, the universal looking for some great thing to come out of her new life. She was "the land destined by God to the great mission of giving moral unity to Europe, and through Europe to Humanity." She would be the armed apostle of nationality, the protectress of oppressed peoples, the instrument to destroy Austria and Turkey and give freedom to the Slavs. And when this part of her mission was fulfilled, and through her nationality was victorious, then the gratitude of the peoples, and the divine appointment of Providence, and her own essential fitness for the task, would make Rome the centre of the cause of peace, the seat of the Diet of the nations, fulfilling Dante's vision, that saw her "helmsman" of humanity, to steer it to its peace. It was a noble dream, much of it, it may be, fantastic and impossible, and yet, perhaps, with its seed of truth. The European Federation tarries behind Mazzini's eager prophecy, but its coming cannot be delayed for ever. The triumph of nationality, despite the evil deed of 1870, has advanced with mighty strides since his day. And though patriotism has often erred into ignoble paths, and international fraternity gone backward, yet the evil creates its own remedy, and disarmament becomes an ever more importunate desire. When the nations learn that arbitration and disarmament are necessary for their own self-preservation, when the European federation gradually evolves itself, Rome will be the natural seat of the High Court of Europe. Italy, which by her plebiscitary origin has given a rule to the nationalities,—a country practically without territorial ambitions or colonial empire, the natural mediator between the two great European alliances, with her ancient prestige and service to humanity to give her lustre, has paramount claims to the high prerogative. [44]
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Re: The Life of Mazzini, by Bolton King, M.A.

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:26 am

Chapter 18: Literary Criticism

The function of the critic—The function of the poet—Art must avoid 'art for the sake of art' and realism—It must be human, social, didactic—Poetry of modern life—The historical drama—Music—'Objective' and 'subjective' poets—Dante—Shakespeare—Goethe—Byron.

If Mazzini's busy life could have spared more time for literary study, he would probably have been among the greatest critics of the century; perhaps, even as it is, he may rank among them. He misses in his lack of accurate and detailed study; but he has a rare penetration and originality and gift of embracing synthesis. It was his ambition at one time to found an Italian school of criticism, whose mark should be constructive and sympathetic interpretation. Keenly sensitive though he was to beauty of expression, he detested mere criticism of form and the profitless microscopy, that pries for specks in a writer's life or work. He loved to read a great author reverently, hiding rather than exposing his blemishes, penetrating below uncouthnesses of form and casual lapses to the great informing thoughts, that had their lesson for the world. "At the present day," he wrote in an optimistic moment, "we neither worship a genius blindly, nor outrage him barbarously; we set ourselves to understand him, and we learn to love him. We regard forms as secondary and perishable phenomena; the idea alone is sacred, as a thing baptised to everlasting life, and we try how we may lift the veil that hides it." He compared genius to the fabled tree of Teneriffe, whose branches discharged showers of refreshing water. "Genius is like this tree, and the mission of criticism should be to shake the branches. At the present day it more resembles a savage striving to hew down the noble tree to the roots."

In his scheme of life the poet had a part of supreme importance. He regarded literature as a "moral priesthood." Poetry would "save the world in its despite," for it was the poet's prerogative to redeem it from doubt and base ideals, to "reveal duties and create affections," to lift men up above the trivial things of life to the eternal verities. "We have," he cries in the forties, "exiled poetry from life, and enthusiasm and faith have gone with it, and love, as I understand love, and constancy in sacrifice, and the worship of great deeds and great men." His own Italy had little of the throbbing national life, in which alone true poetry could flourish; and everywhere an age of faithlessness robbed the poet of his aliment. The time was for the critic,—the constructive, "philosophic" critic; he was the "literary educator," and he could at all events be precursor of the poet of the future, marking the lines on which a modern democratic poetry should travel, and preparing a public to understand him. "The critic," he says, "is unrelated to genius; but he stands as a link between great writers and the masses; he explores the conditions and literary needs of the time, and preaches them to the nations, that they may learn to feel them, and desire and demand them; in fine, his prophecies prepare a public for the writer:—a more important matter than some think, for very rarely do writers appear before their time."

As critic, then, Mazzini points out the deficiencies of contemporary literature, and the principles which must take it to a higher stage. True art, he lays down, has two great perils to avoid. First, there is the "atheist formula" of 'art for the sake of art';—a heresy he scourged with pontifical anathemas. His attack was not aimed at perfection of literary form. He loved a correct and classic diction, and never underrated style, so long as style was not an excuse for poverty of thought. His criticism went deeper. The artist may not live his own art-life, divorced from the moving world around and all its manifold activities, "floating bubble-like without support," finding his poor inspiration in his own fancies and caprices. There was no true individuality in that; invented though it was to guard the poet's independence, in reality it made him but a passive mirror of each passing impression. Instead of liberty, it brought anarchy and "wild, arbitrary intellectual display." It robbed art of touch with the great facts of life, all fruitful relationship to the struggling, ever learning, ever advancing race. It sent it wandering lawless, purposeless, like a sick man's dreams. The poet ceased to be a thinker and a teacher, and sank to a mere empty singer. "What I want," he said, "is not the Artist but the man-Artist; the High-Priest of the Ideal, not the worshipper of his own Fetishes." Literature must be "the minister of something greater and more valuable than itself."

He was almost equally condemnatory of realism, especially of realistic presentation of nature. It was a criticism that he brought alike against Monti and Victor Hugo and Wordsworth, that they "depicted but never transfigured nature," and thus their art was "useless." The real is the mantle of the true, but not the true; "high poetry is truth, because you cannot trace out or analyse its source." The poet is a "miner in the moral world"; his function is to hew beneath the symbol, beneath the real, to the idea shut in within; questioning nature alike in her beauties and deformities, to find and teach to men "that fragment of God's truth that must exist there." "One thing I know," he says, "that the phenomena of nature on their moral side and the inner life of man must be the field of modern literature, that physical nature and man's outer life will have their place only as symbols of the first." And nature's lessons must have a practical reference to man's lot and destiny. Even when nature was rightly used and interpreted, there might be too much of it, and he seems to have always given natural poetry a secondary place. "Poetry," he says, "is not in nature but in man."

This brings us to his conception of true art. It must be essentially human, not realistically so, but usefully, practically, didactically. He did not mean by this that it must confine itself to the obvious, outside facts of life. "In every powerful poetic impression the vague claims a full quarter, and the vague, which must not be confounded with the obscure, is the soul's own field." But poetry, however much it may concern itself with the spiritual and unseen, must have direct application to the problems of life. "Art lives of the world's life; the world's law is art's law." The poet must gather "the great voice of the world and God," and so interpret it, that men may listen and profit. He must contemplate man both in his individuality and as a social creature, "in his internal and external life, in his place and with his mission in creation." "Poetry,—great, ceaseless, eternal poetry,—exists only in the development, the evolution of life: only there, in life, understood and felt in its universality, can inexhaustible variety be found."

Thus the poet must find his inspiration, not in his own "incomplete, mutilated conceptions," not in the isolated individual, but in the great collective, democratic movements of the people, voicing their dim thoughts and aspirations, "their latent, slumbering, unconscious life." There can be no great poetry to-day, unless the poet identify himself with "the thought fermenting in the breast of the masses and impelling them to action." Poets are the priesthood of the social and political movement, which is the very blood of a modern people; and there is no place for individualist poetry in a social age. "True and sacred art aims at the perfection of society," and the art of the future will be "principally religious and political." He hated the aimless art, that busies itself with the mere picturesque and sentimental, which idealises ages, whose meaning and moral standard have passed. He applauded Schlegel's thesis that poetry must be "national, that is useful and related to the civil and political situation," no longer heedless of the great movements of to-day, but "standing in the centre and swaying the heart of the social impulse." The poet, who went to fight for Greece and died there, typified "the holy alliance of poetry with the cause of the peoples."

This democratic art must have a practical use by being didactic and prophetic. It is not enough that its heart should beat with the people's life; it must help the progress of the race by pointing to the future. Though it may "grow among the ruins, art is ever coloured by the rising sun." "There can be no true poetry without a presentiment of the future"; it is, as said "the extraordinary man," who is the poet of all time,

The prophetic soul
Of the wide world, dreaming on things to come.

"Art either sums up the life of a dying age or heralds one about to dawn; it is no caprice of this or that individual, but a solemn page of history or a prophecy; most powerful, when as in Dante, and occasionally in Byron, it is both." But there is no gift of prophecy without an ideal, and "literature, like politics, has no secure foundation without its fixed beliefs and principles,"—those beliefs which make the future and to which facts must bow. "The true European writer will be a philosopher, but with the poet's lyre in his hands." "Nature with her thousand voices cries to the poet, 'Soar, thou art King of earth.' And if we try to pen him down to realism, and rob him of his independent lordship over facts, the poets of the past will answer from their graves, 'We were great, because we created.' It is for poetry to take the creations of the philosopher and give them life and colour, to explore the truth that lies below the real and illumine it with the light of genius, to interpret the universal laws that rule over human history."

And the poet must not only lift men to his vision, but send them forth in quest of it. He is not only prophet but apostle. It is not enough that he should stimulate thought; he must "spur men to translate thought into action." "Contemplative" poets, Wordsworth and Coleridge for instance, are "incomplete." "The element of Action is inseparable from poetry. Poetry," he says, "is for me something like the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, which is action." "In order to be a religious poet," he writes in criticism of Lamartine, "it is not enough, in my eyes at least to say 'Lord, Lord'; it is necessary to feel his holy law, and to make others feel it in such sort, as that they shall constantly and calmly act in obedience to its precepts." Just as religion gives life and power to philosophy, so it is for art to grasp ideas, translate them by images and symbols, and make them passionate beliefs. "Poetry is enthusiasm with wings of fire, the angel of strong thoughts, the power that raises men to sacrifice, consumes them, stirs a tumult of ideas within them, puts in their hands a sword, a pen, a dagger." "Written poetry, like music performed, should be in some sense a prelude to other poetry, which the excited soul of the reader composes silently within itself." It will "teach the young all that is greatest in self-sacrifice, constancy, silence, the sense of solitude without despair, long years of torture or delusion unrevealed and dumb, faith in the things that are to be, the hourly struggle for that faith, though hope of victory there be none in this life." And therefore art must be ever brave and full of hope, "teaching man not his weakness but his strength, inspiring him not with faintheartedness but with energy and vigorous will." Its song must be always of steadiness and constancy, and "calmness radiate from the poet's brow, as the spirit of God radiated from the brow of Moses on the wandering Israelites." "The artist is either a priest or a more or less practised mountebank." Woe to him, if he teach spasmodic, evanescent effort, or "revolt and impotent despair, that dies cursing, ere it tries to fight, that says 'All things are evil,' because it finds itself unable to create good." Mazzini has no pity for the poet of pessimism, "whose sense of moral depression and languor" will, if he pose as a religious poet, make his readers "reject religion and him together."

Poetry, then, the modern poetry of action, being essentially related to politics and social life, the poet's themes are in the stir and passion of contemporary events or in national history. What field for literature like the mighty, moving pageant of the democratic world? To watch God's hand guiding the nations to their destinies, to probe the eager ferment of a modern society, to interpret all the dim, half-conscious yearning of the masses,—what inspiration for the poet here! "Popular poetry has invaded everything, the poetry whose epic is revolution, whose satire is revolt." How strong and living are the giants of the Revolution beside the nerveless men and women of the quietist novel. "Poetry has fled from old Europe to give life to the young, new, beautiful Europe of the peoples. Like the swallow, it has left a crumbling ruin to seek a purer air and a more verdant world. It has fled from the King's solitary throne to find its abode in the great arena of the peoples, in the ranks of martyrs for the fatherland, on the patriot's scaffold, in the prison of the brave betrayed." The armies of the Convention, the guerilla-bands of Spain, the German students chanting the songs of Körner on the march to battle, the patriot's anguished passion, the dreams of a liberty to be, the world-mission of European civilisation,—these are the modern poet's themes. "Think you that poetry, whose birth was ushered by such deeds as these, can die ere it has lived? Would you set up the poor, pale, narrow poetry of individuals, a poetry of forms, a poetry that lives and dies in the small circle of a palace or a chapel or a castle,—would you set up this against the grand social poetry, solemn and tranquil and full of hope, which knows none but God in heaven and the people upon earth?" An age of science and industry is no enemy to poetry, for the elements of poetry are eternal. "I tell you, in this Europe there is such life, such poetry in germ, the poetry of ages, of all the generations, that genius itself has not yet dared to attempt to develop it." "Here round you," so he speaks to the poet of the future, "here, before your eyes, there is poetry and movement and a European people waiting for you."

The poet has another field in history. Mazzini prophesied a great future for the historical drama. He was inclined to think that drama would be the accepted form of modern poetry, seeing doubtless that drama is the true communion between poet and people, the natural vehicle of the artist, who has a message to deliver. It would be "a kind of popular pulpit, a chair of the philosophy of humanity"; and he looked forward to the day when the great dramas, such as those of "divine Schiller," would be produced on the stage without mutilations or curtailments to a reverent and patient audience. The function of the historical dramatist, as indeed he thought it was the function of the prose historian, was not so much to make minute research of facts, as to disentangle the lessons hidden under every page of history, to interpret the law of human duty and the mystery of existence. Like every other poet, he must start with a philosophy of life, judging all things by his own law, meting out praise and blame, drawing guidance for the future from the past. The dramatist "may call up the shadows of the past, but like the Witch of Endor, in order to constrain them to reveal the future." His personages must be types, each with its social significance; he must not, as Victor Hugo did, overload them with individual traits, till they lose their message for society, but rather, as Schiller with his Marquis di Posa, so "re-create" them, that they may illustrate some general law of life. Mazzini did not see how pale such characters would be; how difficult it was to reconcile them with biographical accuracy, how likely therefore they were to falsify any induction of historical laws.

His theory of music was a very similar one. Music, like poetry, he thought, was nought without a moral intention, without practical teaching and power to inspire. It should be "the purest and most general and most sympathetic expression of a social faith." He pitilessly criticised the music of the thirties, imitative, exhausted, artificial, clever but without creative power. A faithless and corrupt generation asked for music to amuse it; and music had listened and forgotten its mission. There was melody and good instrumentation, but no soul or thought in it. It was "laughter without peace, weeping without virtue." Operas had no unity, no great passionate note; they were ingenious mosaics, much of them mere noise and extravagance, inferior for all their technique to the chants of the medieval Church, when music had a religious work to do. Rossini had done something; he had broken from the old canons and given liberty to music; but he had the defects of the Romanticist school, he had freed but could not create; he had prepared the way for the music of the future, but it was not his to write it. Mazzini however saw indications that the new music was not far off, and its dawn, he believed, would be in Italy. But Italian melody must wed itself to German harmony. Italian music was "lyrical, impassioned, volcanic, artistic," but without unity or soul. German music knew God, but it was mystical and impersonal, out of touch with everyday human life. It dulled men's impulses to action; it stirred them, but to no useful end, left the soul full of great emotion, but uninspired to perform plain duties. [45] Mazzini was assured that Italy would produce the master, who would unite the strength of both schools, keep the religion of the German school, but point it to practical, human ends. At one time he hoped that perhaps Donizetti might live to do this; afterwards he thought that Meyerbeer was "the precursor spirit of the music of the future." He was always thinking of Opera. When he insists that the music should be in keeping with the subject and its period, when he pleads for the symbolic use of the orchestra, for the wider employment of motives, for the development of the chorus on the model of Greek tragedy, for the large use of recitative, for the entire disuse of cadences and flourishes, he is looking to Opera to be the highest form of music, as he looked to the historical drama to be the highest form of poetry. Apparently he wished to wed them, and looked for the day, when great poets would write librettos for great composers.

Mazzini's criticism of music is for its time so fresh, so full of suggestion and prophecy, that it is matter for regret that his knowledge of it was not more extensive. He knew opera and little beyond it; he had some acquaintance with Beethoven, but he does not seem to have been very strongly attracted by him, or to have made much study of him. He wasted on Donizetti and Meyerbeer the enthusiasm, which should have been reserved for greater men. It is unfortunate that he lived before Wagnerian opera appeared in London. It would be possible to show in detail to what a remarkable extent he anticipated Wagner's theories. [46] Wagner, it is true, rejected the historical drama, because he believed the requirements of art to be incompatible with historical accuracy. But his main doctrines are the same as Mazzini's,—the ethical intention of music, the intimate relationship of art to public life, the belief in the people as the fountain of true art, the value of the folk-song, the reconciliation of harmony and melody, the poet and musician stretching hands to one another and giving 'moral will' to music, by uniting 'word' to 'tone' in Opera. It is permitted to think that, Wagner's nationality notwithstanding, Mazzini would have recognised in him the master of the new music, whose dawn he heralded.

Mazzini had a favourite classification of poets into "objective" and "subjective." The objective artist sinks his own beliefs, and merely reflects and transmits external impressions, neither judging them by his own conception of right and wrong, nor supplying any inspiration or rule of action for mankind. The subjective artist stamps his themes with the imprint of his own individuality; he sits in the seat of judgment and measures out praise and blame; and thus he helps others to form a moral law, and creates the future. The former series, men who excite our admiration but not our love, passes from the Greek poets, all save one, through Shakespeare to Goethe; the latter from Aeschylus through Dante and Michelangelo to Byron and, apparently, Schiller. Dante was Mazzini's highest type of the subjective poet. Something has already been said of his influence on Mazzini's thought,—an influence far greater than that of any other writer. There are few, indeed, of Mazzini's doctrines, which are not found in germ in the Convito or the De Monarchiâ. Mazzini revered him as the strong intellect, which took so little from other men and gave so much; the hero, whose life was one long fight, who "wrote for country, conspired for country, held the pen and sword"; the patriot, "neither Catholic nor Ghibelline nor Guelf, but Christian and Italian," who believed in 'the holy Roman people,' and foretold for Italy the spiritual mastery of the world; the thinker who taught the unity and common task of all mankind; the one true poet of love, to whom the love of man and woman was a spiritual thing, wherein self entered not. He contrasted him with Shakespeare "the lord of individuality," the supreme dramatist who created individuals as no man else has created them, giving his creatures choice of good and evil, and pursuing the lesson of their fates, the choice once made, to the end; who in Hamlet had of pure creative genius made a prophetic type, that belonged to two centuries after him, and had no contemporary original. But Shakespeare was a man who took life as he found it, untouched by strong moral sympathies, without sense of the race or glimpse of duty or looking to the future; therefore a cynic and a "sceptic," obsessed by the feeling of life's nothingness, with no illuminating faith in man's predestined glory.

Mazzini's favourite contrast was between Goethe and Byron. For Goethe's intellect he had the profoundest admiration; he seems to have studied Faust carefully, and had some acquaintance at all events with his other works. "Goethe," he says, "is an intellect, that receives, elaborates, and reproduces every possible form of human emotion and aspiration. He dwells aloft, alone, a mighty Watcher in the midst of creation, scrutinizing with equal penetration and interest the depths of ocean and the calyx of the flower, ... laying bare in Faust the problem of the age in all its terrible nakedness, ... the most representative poet that Europe has produced since Shakespeare." But great intellect as he is, he misses the highest; for he loses the man in the artist, he has no moral standard of his own, no sense of the unity of life; he is the poet of detail and analysis, "feeling everything but never feeling the whole," living aloof from religion and politics, a cold spectator of the world-moving deeds around him, "learning neither to esteem men nor to better them, nor even to suffer with them," "without need of doing or sacred sorrow or any deep and ardent love." "The poet of the bourgeoisie, he counsels calm and contemplation, order and resignation, tells men to fit themselves to their environment, fulfil their little duties, plant themselves comfortably, do good around them, always provided that the risks are not too great, and that they do not disturb the harmony and balance of the faculties of sight."

Turn from Goethe, he says, to Byron; "there is the man himself, who hopes and strives and suffers for the race, as Dante did, and as Aeschylus did before Dante." Like Goethe, he too is "a poet of individuality," "a type of power without an aim"; but, unlike Goethe's, his verse is no mere reflection of other men's thoughts and actions. He stamps his portraitures with his own personality, surveying the world "from a single, comprehensive point of view," and interpreting and judging it by his own inner light; more deep, as Goethe is more vast, seeking the sublime rather than the beautiful, ever a worshipper of force and action. "In Byron the ego is revealed in all its pride of power, freedom, and desire, in the uncontrolled plenitude of all its faculties, aspiring to rule the world around him solely for dominion's sake, to exercise upon it the Titanic force of his will." It is this power of will, necessarily propelled to seek an outlet in action, that appealed so strongly to Mazzini. Byron bears his part in the political and social conflicts round him, "wandering through the world, sad, gloomy, and unquiet, wounded and bearing the arrow in his wound"; loving and understanding Italy and Rome, dying for a nation's cause in Greece. And Mazzini found in his verse a great social lesson, such as Goethe never tried to teach. Consciously or unconsciously Byron foretold the doom of individualism and aristocracy. His characters are moulded on "a single type—the individual; free, but nothing more than free; iron souls in iron frames, who climb the alps of the physical world as well as the alps of thought"; but all bearing in their faces the stamp of failure, "a gloomy and ineffaceable sadness." "Gifted with a liberty they knew not how to use; with a power and energy they knew not how to apply; with a life, whose purpose and aim they comprehend not;—they drag through their useless and convulsed existences. Byron destroys them one after the other. The emptiness of the life and death of solitary individuality has never been summed up so powerfully as in his pages."

But Byron, no more than Goethe, wrote the poetry of Mazzini's ideal. In a generation without religion or pity or enthusiasm, amid "English cant and French levity and Italian stagnation," Byron was driven to passionate, tumultuous cursings of a false society. But it was a note of rebellion and despair. Neither poet had the sense of the race, of man redeemed by love and social service, of the new hope and power that would come, as men learned to work together for the common end. Mazzini gives no indication that he ever found the art that he looked for. He seems to have thought that some of the modern Slav poetry came nearest to it. The new English literature does not appear to have attracted him; there is no evidence that he read Browning, and if he had, he would probably have condemned him as "objective." Historical drama has conspicuously failed to do what he expected of it. The poetry of social problems is still for the most part analytic and destructive. The poet of his vision, the constructive, prophetic, apostolic poet, with his message for humanity, whose songs will reach the workshop and the cottage and inspire a nation's policy, is yet to come.
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