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CHAPTER XXVIII.

ITALY FOR THE ITALIANS.

LORD JOHN entered on his second administration of the Foreign Office at a very critical moment. On June 4, in the week which preceded the final defeat of Lord Derby's Government, the battle of Magenta was fought. On June 24, in the week which followed the formation of the new Ministry, the Austrians were beaten at Solferino. But the Emperor of the French, horrified at the bloodshed which he had caused, and alarmed at the increasing difficulties of his situation, at once decided on stopping hostilities. He instructed Count Persigny, the French Ambassador in London, to ask the English Government to propose an armistice, and to suggest terms of peace; and, when the Cabinet declined to do more than authorise Lord John to hand the proposal to the Austrian Ambassador without comment, he sent a messenger to the Austrian Emperor proposing an armistice. A few days later, on July 11, the two Emperors met at Villafranca, and arranged between themselves the preliminaries of peace.

Writing confidentially on July 13, Sir James Hudson, the British Minister at Turin, communicated to Lord John the conditions on which it was intended to make peace. They were as follows: Lombardy was to be ceded by Austria, Tuscany and Modena were to be restored to their Dukes, Venice was to remain Austrian, Parma was to be placed at Napoleon's disposal, and the Pope was to become the head of a Confederation of Italian princes. He declared that there was only one universal opinion at Milan and Turin, “Siamo traditi ;' he added, on the 17th, that Napoleon was already

styled il gran traditore;' that Victor Emanuel had only signed the armistice with the reservation ‘en ce qui me concerne;' that he complained that Napoleon had treated him like a dog ; that Count Cavour, rather than be a party to the treaty, had flung up office; and that Italy was lost if she did not throw herself into the arms of England.

Before Lord John received these letters, Count Persigny called upon him, and told him that the Emperor of Austria desired that the terms which had been provisionally arranged at Villafranca should be embodied in a treaty. But that

The Emperor of the French thought that a European congress should meet in order to settle the remaining Italian questions and convert the convention into a European treaty. And Lord John, writing to Lord Cowley on July 16, declared that, before the Government could consider the proposal, he must know whether Austria, as owning Venice, was to enter the proposed Confederation; whether the King of Sardinia and the King of the Two Sicilies were to be allowed to exercise their own free will as to entering it or not; whether French, Austrian, or Piedmontese troops were to be employed to restore their old rulers to the Duchies; and whether French and Austrian troops were to be left in occupation of Rome and the Romagna. He added, three days afterwards--

It seems to me that if Austria is a member of the Confederation, whatever the number of votes may be, she will have the Pope, the two Dukes, and probably the King of Naples in her train, and thus virtually rule the Austrian, not Italian, Confederation. If this point is irrevocably to be decided by the peace between the powers at Zurich, I think a conference can be of no use.

Lord John did not stop at this point. On the day on which he was thus writing to the British Ambassador at Paris, he wrote both privately and publicly to Mr. Corbett, the British Chargé d'Affaires at Florence, urging that a representative assembly should be convoked in Tuscany, 'in order that the wishes of the people in favour of the autonomy of that country may be regularly and freely expressed.' He used the same

language in the House of Commons, defending the conduct of Victor Emanuel by pleading the example of William III., and declaring that he could be no party to denying the people of Italy the right of choosing their own sovereign which had been exercised in Belgium, Holland, Sweden, France, and Great Britain. On July 25 he sent a despatch to Lord Cowley, pointing out his strong objections to the presence of Austria in the Italian Confederation, and adding that the only way of carrying into effect the declared views of Great Britain and France at the Conferences of 1856 is to free Italy as soon as possible from the presence of foreign troops whether French or Austrian;' while, on August 16, he addressed identic despatches both to Paris and Vienna, in which he .contended that every people had a right to choose their own Government, and that the restoration of the Grand Duke of Tuscany and the Duke of Modena by foreign forces would be to return to that system of foreign interference which for upwards of forty years has been the misfortune of Italy and the danger of Europe.' Thus' Italy for the Italians' was, from the very outset, the watchword of Lord John's policy.

At Vienna this policy was from the first regarded with extreme irritation : Count Rechberg warmly resented Lord John's dictum that every independent State had a right to regulate its own internal government, and indulged 'in very bitter reproaches against the British Government. His anger was not unnatural. There could be no doubt that both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary were openly evincing a desire for Italian independence which was not compatible with the apparent interests of the Emperor of Austria. Even in England, the Queen expressed her dislike of the language which her Ministers were using. “We did not protest against the war,' she argued; 'we can hardly now protest against the peace.” Believing that Lord John and Lord Palmerston were more liberal than their colleagues, she appealed from them to the Cabinet as a whole; she insisted that the formation of an Italian Con federation and the restoration of the Dukes of Tuscany and Modena to their Duchies should be considered as the com:

VOL. 11.

X

pensation which Austria was to receive for the loss of Lombardy; and the Prime Minister had to state, in Lord John's name and his own, that, if their advice were not adopted, Ministers might have no alternative but to lay down their offices.

But the irritation of the Austrian Government, the hesitation of the British Court, and even the stipulations on which the two Emperors had agreed at Villafranca, were all powerless to shake Lord John's conviction that 'Italy for the Italians' was the true policy for England and Europe ; and it very soon became evident that he was likely to achieve the success which is the usual reward of firmness and decision. Events both in France and in Italy steadily moved in his favour. In France Napoleon could not afford to let England supplant him in the affections of the Italians. Set, moreover, on a congress, he was ready to concede much in order to overcome Lord John's objections to entering into conference; he at last avowed that, if it proved impossible to found an Italian Confederation without giving preponderance to Austria, France would consider the possibility of constituting it without Austria ; and he authorised Count Walewski to add that he had never contemplated the employment of force to restore Grand Duke and Duke to their Duchies, and that he was himself anxious to withdraw his troops from every part of Italy.

In Italy events moved still more decisively in favour of Lord John's policy. The Tuscan representatives, assembled in accordance with his suggestion, arrived at a unanimous yote in favour of annexation to Piedmont. Modena and Parma followed the example of Florence; and a deputation was sent from the Duchies to Victor Emanuel to acquaint him with this decision.

i I have passed over this negotiation rapidly. But, in the middle of September, it did not seem likely to end so happily. Lord Cowley wrote on September 9 to say that Prince Metternich had had a long interview with Napoleon, and had arranged a scheme under which Parma and Piacenza were to be annexed to Piedmont, Modena to pass to the Duchess of Parnia, and Tuscany to revert to the Grand Duke. Lord John replied privately, 'I could not answer your No. 500 in a despatch, for I should use terms of abhorrence and indignation too strong for eyes and ears diplomatic. The disposal of the Tuscans and Modenese as if they were so many firkins of butter is somewhat too profligate.'

The Government of Piedmont was, however, not strong. And, with France on one side and Austria on the other, it hesitated what to do. Instead of grasping the nettle it appealed to Lord John for advice; and Lord John replied that, though he could not speak officially, he thought Victor Emanuel might say that the creation of a large kingdom in the north of Italy was a matter so much affecting the balance of power that he could not undertake the decision of such a question without European consent; but in the meantime he would be prepared to defend Tuscany against the danger of internal disorder.' This opinion was quite enough for the people of Central Italy. From October i the government of Tuscany was conducted in Victor Emanuel's name; and, on November 9, the Tuscan Assembly appointed Victor Emanuel's cousin, Prince Carignan, Regent of the Duchy.

This movement was too rapid for Napoleon to endure. He bluntly told Victor Emanuel that, if Prince Carignan went to Central Italy, France would abandon him. And on receiving this threat Piedmont again turned to Lord John. If he were only assured of English support against Austria, Victor Emanuel declared that he would persevere in Prince Carignan's appointment. Such an assurance Lord John could not, of course, give; and Prince Carignan accordingly refused the proffered nomination, but substituted a Piedmontese statesman, Signor Buoncompagni, in his room.

While France was showing a steady disposition to concede to England, and Central Italy was displaying a firm resolution to throw in its lot with Piedmont, Austria, though too angry to be silent, was too timid to strike. In July the Grand Duke of Tuscany offered to abdicate in favour of his son. In September Austria admitted that she had no intention of using force; while in November it was shrewdly conjectured that she was pursuing a policy of delay in the hope that events might give her either an excuse or an opportunity for interference.

Delay, however, did not operate in favour of Austria. The long negotiations at Zurich were at last concluded and the invitations to the Congress were issued. As the Emperor of

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