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day have, therefore, obeyed a true historical instinct in deciding to commemorate the Jubilee of their country's birth in the fiftieth anniversary year of their greatest statesman's death.
In view of these facts it is singularly appropriate that the closing months of 1911 should have enriched English historical literature with two works of first-rate importance. Of Mr G. M. Trevelyan's work it is unnecessary to give any elaborate critical account. His Garibaldian trilogy, happily completed by the recent publication of 'Garibaldi and the Making of Italy,' has not only been received with an unusual degree of popular favour, but has at the same time satisfied the most exacting canons of scientific criticism. In ease and simplicity of style, and in the setting of the picture-the background of European politics and diplomacy-the third volume improves even on its two brilliant predecessors. Happy indeed the man who can win the applause of the many without forfeiting the esteem of the learned few; but such has been the singular, though not undeserved, good fortune of Mr Trevelyan.
The author of the second and even more important work is Mr William Roscoe Thayer, of Harvard, already favourably known to students of Risorgimento history by his 'Dawn of Italian Independence,' and destined to become known to a much wider circle by his Life and Times of Cavour.' 'There could be no more fitting memorial of this jubilee year of United Italy than an adequate life of the greatest of Italian statesmen.' Thus wrote the Times' on June 6, 1911. Mr Thayer's book comes happily to fill the gap. The work is obviously the fruit of patient and prolonged research; it is scholarly in method, and it presents a faithful and glowing portrait of the central figure. But it is not without conspicuous faults. It is disfigured, as literature, by occasional blemishes of style and, what is more serious, by a not infrequent narrowness of judgment. Mr Thayer is determined to deal faithfully with the occupants of thrones, whether hereditary or acquired. He is the reverse of flattering to the Emperor Francis Joseph and to 'Victoria and Albert,' but against Napoleon III his animus is particularly marked. For him there is not a respectable feature in Napoleon's 'long career, chequered
as it was by tragedy and ridicule, garish with false glory, turgid with counterfeit greatness, mottled with crime and guile.' Of the Emperor Francis Joseph we learn that,
‘though he had escaped that blight of imbecility by which various sons of the House of Hapsburg were expiating the sins of their fathers, his force, whether of intellect or of character, hardly rose above mediocrity. . . . Reaction was his religion. . . . He believed absolutely that the Almighty made the world in order that the sovereigns of Hapsburg might enjoy by divine right a large portion of it.'†
Queen Victoria possessed an unsubtle, commonplace nature'; ‡ and 'she loved flattery always, and expected obsequiousness in Prime Ministers even'§-a judgment strangely at variance with that of John Bright, who thought the Queen' the most absolutely truthful person he had ever known. For popes Mr Thayer has as little respect as for kings and queens. So distinguished a scholar might have been expected to rise superior to the temptation of vindicating his own republican independence by sneers at the unfortunate occupants of thrones in other countries, and, by implication, at those who happen to prefer monarchical to republican forms of government.
But the blemishes of the work, though irritating, are mostly on the surface, and might be removed without injury to anything but a few of the more deeply-hued purple patches. Its merits, on the contrary, are essential and fundamental. Englishmen, in particular, owe a great debt to Mr Thayer for providing them, for the first time, with an English biography of Cavour which is at once critical in method and adequate in scale. Immediately after Cavour's death Mr Edward Dicey published a memoir which served well enough as an interim appreciation. In the same year Lord Acton published his brilliant and penetrating, but strangely prejudiced essay. Treitschke presented his countrymen with a portrait of Cavour in 1871; and in 1887 Mazade published in French the work which has been regarded as the standard 'Life.' Bianchi's great work was published at Turin in 1885; and about the same time seven volumes of Cavour's letters were edited by Chiala. English readers have
* Thayer, ii, 13. t Ib. ii, 95-6,
Ib. i, 364. § Ib. ii, 84.
hitherto had to rely mainly on the Countess Cesaresco's 'Cavour'an admirable little book, which Mr Thayer praises, without exaggeration, as a model of crystalline interpretation;' but not until the last two months has there been erected in English materials a monument worthy of the greatest European statesman of the nineteenth century. To commemorate this memorable achievement, happily coincident with the Italian Jubilee, is the primary purpose of the pages that follow.
Count Camillo Benso di Cavour was born at Turin on August 10, 1810. He belonged by descent to one of the smallest and proudest aristocracies in Europe. His father was Michele Benso, Marquis of Cavour; and in his veins ran the blood of twenty generations of Piedmontese ancestors.' But Cavour owed more to his mother, a Genevan Calvinist, than to his Piedmontese father. The old-fashioned political Calvinism of Geneva, which moulded the character of Guizot, exercised from a very early age,' as Lord Acton shrewdly and justly remarks, 'a profound influence upon Cavour.'* Adèle de Sellon, Cavour's mother, was the daughter of a remarkable Huguenot family which had long been settled in Geneva. Her brother, Jean Jacques, was the friend and associate of reformers in France and England,' and was himself known as 'the Swiss Wilberforce.' Of such stock did Cavour come. As a second son he was destined for the army, and at the age of ten was sent to the Military Academy at Turin. While there he served as a page the household of Charles Albert, then Prince of Carignano. Cavour, however, disliked the Prince; and the Prince mistrusted Cavour. At sixteen, emerging from the Academy with the highest honours in science and mathematics, he entered the Engineers; but a soldier's life was never congenial to him, while at home he found himself out of sympathy with the reactionary views which rendered his father a persona grata at the restored sub-alpine Court. Before he was twenty he learnt English, and read deeply in Adam Smith and Bentham, then nearing the zenith of their influence and popularity. Intellectually, 'his one safety valve was his intercourse
with his Genevan relations.'* In 1830 he was sent to Genoa, where he frequented the salons of the advanced Liberals, much elated, just then, by the success of the July revolution in Paris. But, though confessing himself to his uncle (Sellon) as Liberal, very Liberal, desiring a complete change of system,' Cavour, then as always, 'recoiled with equal loathing from absolutists and Jacobins.'t Early in 1831 he was ordered to the fortress of Bard, in the Val D'Aosta-an order rightly interpreted as 'equivalent to an arrest.' In 1831 he got his discharge from the army, and was recalled from exile only to be sent off again by his father to manage one of the family farms in a remote country district.
For the next seventeen years Cavour devoted himself, mind and body, to practical agriculture, first at Grinzane, afterwards on the great family estate at Leri. The lonely life, and still more the conviction that (at twenty-two!) his political life was over before it was begun, induced deep dejection, with remote hints of suicide. Gradually, however, his eminently practical mind was gripped by the intrinsic interest of agricultural work. Frequent visits to his maternal relations in Switzerland kept him in touch with the most advanced intellectual thought of the day, while more than one sojourn in Paris and two visits to England gave him the opportunity — amply redeemed of estimating the strength and direction of the main currents of contemporary politics.
To Cavour England appeared to be 'the vanguard of civilisation'; and of English politics-in the broadest sense-he made a study which may fairly be described as profound. Already in 1834 he had prepared-as a member of the Piedmontese Statistical Commission-a Report on the English Poor Law; and he had not been in England many weeks, in 1835, before he wrote to a friend a letter which contained a remarkable survey of English politics.' In 1843 he was back again in England, and visited Scotland and Ireland as well. The fruits of his observations were revealed in articles contributed to various magazines and reviews, notably to the 'Bibliothèque Universelle de Genève.' For this famous review he wrote Considérations sur l'état actuel de l'Irlande '
*Thayer, i, 15.
† Ib. i, 24.
(1844), and De la Question relative à la Législation anglaise sur le commerce des céréales' (1845). In the former, which is distinguished by characteristic sobriety of thought and diction, he showed himself a strong opponent of Repeal and a penetrating critic of statesmen living and dead. The article on the Corn Laws revealed Cavour as a strong free-trader and an ardent disciple of Adam Smith. Of even greater value to Cavour and to his country than his reasoned views on political unions and fiscal policy was the experience he gained of parliamentary tactics and procedure, and his intimate converse with distinguished publicists. Night after night, the young Piedmontese, destined to be the real founder of parliamentary government in Italy, was to be seen in the Strangers' Gallery of the House of Commons, following with rapt attention the debates, and closely observing the rules of procedure, the methods of conducting public business and the tactics of party leaders. No training could have been more appropriate for Cavour.
For the time being, however, he was to all appearance absorbed in his farming work. 'I have become,' he writes in July 1835, an agriculturist for good'; and to such excellent purpose that he restored prosperity to his family and made a large fortune for himself. Nor did he ever lose sight of the larger issues. In 1842 he helped to found the Associazione Agraria—a society which afterwards became, as Acton says, 'an important channel and instrument of political influence.' Five years later a more definitely political step was taken by starting, in conjunction with Santo Rosa, Cesare Balbo, and others, 'Il Risorgimento,' a journal devoted to the advocacy of constitutional reform. The programme of the 'constitutional party' at this time was briefly but pregnantly stated as follows: Independence of Italy, union between the princes and the peoples, progress in the path of reform, and a league between the Italian States.'
For some time Cavour had no chance of putting his principles into practice. His opportunity came with the Revolution of 1848. There was agitation in Italy even before the startling news came from Paris that the Citizen Monarchy had been overthrown and the Second Republic proclaimed. To understand the political situa