Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

world knows! I assure you that to be an Italian and to live here, is truly a great misfortune.'

Of the expedition for the deliverance of Rome from the French and Papal yoke, which ended so fatally at Aspromonte, he had given me previous information by special confidential messenger. Mazzini, whose intimate and precious friendship I enjoyed from 1858 down to his death, was held by many to have been the instigator of the expedition. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only had he no part in the preparations; but he was not even aware of the real aim of Garibaldi. To me, Mazzini gave vent to his vexation, after Aspromonte, at what he thought had been an ill-advised I defended Garibaldi before him, as well as in public by a German Address, and by numerous writings in the English, German, and American Press. For some time afterwards, Mazzini was therefore wont to say, a little nettled but with friendly good humour: Ah! your Garibaldi!' Between the two foremost leaders of Italy a cloud arose ever and anon. I often endeavoured helping to disperse it; but the obstacles seemed great indeed.

move.

In 1864, I was glad, for more than one reason, to obtain an early opportunity of seeing Garibaldi from face to face in the Isle of Wight, before the turmoil of enthusiasm, which already vaguely rose up in London, should surround him with its stormy waves, carrying him from one demonstration to the other. Our countrymen in London had resolved, in a mass-meeting, upon presenting to him an Address of their own. By unanimous vote, the honouring choice of a Speaker of the Deputation fell upon me. The desire was expressed that I should see him first privately, as their representative, in the Isle of Wight. I am very glad '-Mr. Charles Seely, M.P., wrote from Brooke House-the Germans in London will give a hearty welcome to Garibaldi. It will have a good effect.' Garibaldi himself telegraphed :- I accept with deep gratitude and satisfaction the offer of the noble Germans.'

In the boat in which I crossed the Solent, there were a number of political men, bent upon the same visit; among them, if I mistake not, several members of Parliament. The conversation soon turned upon the question as to whether it was desirable that Mazzini, the Triumvir of the Roman Republic of 1849, which Garibaldi had defended against the assault by the French troops, should come into closer contact with Garibaldi during his sojourn in London! Owing to the Greco affair the name of the steadfast Apostle of Italian Union and Freedom was then the butt of many attacks. An Ultramontane member, Mr. Pope Hennessy, who went over to Paris to see Napoleon III., endeavoured, in connection with the reactionary enemies of Lord Palmerston's Ministry, to turn the fabrications of the French police to political account. In order to relieve Government from all difficulties, Mr. James Stansfeld, Mazzini's most trusty friend, generously resigned. Many a weak-kneed member of the party, however, was shaken by these occurrences.

Knowing, as I did, the important part which Mazzini had had in bringing about the Sicilian rising of 1860, I gave utterance to my astonishment at the remarks made against him during the journey to the Isle of Wight. Repeating what I had stated in our German meeting, I could plainly perceive, on the faces of those spoken to, the signs of that hypercritical doubt which is so often the child of ignorance. Was it possible that the first preparations for the overthrow of the Bourbon power in Naples had been made by this muchabused leader,-preparations into which even Garibaldi had at first not been initiated? This doubt seemed to be the meaning of puzzled looks; and questions to that effect followed.

After all, I could speak with some degree of certainty. Several months before the rising, I had been present at confidential discussions of that subject in Mazzini's humble room. On that occasion I

experienced, now and then, a little difficulty in following the conversation, though being fully conversant with Italian. The Sicilian present, whose auburn hair reminded one more of the Normans than of Greeks, Italians, or Saracens who had alternately held sway in his native island, spoke rather broadly in the dialect of his country. On his part, Mazzini, as if to take his own ease, lapsed off and on, in pronunciation at least, into the ways of the Genoese.

Only a small intimate circle of friends was kept informed, by Mazzini, of the doings before the insurrection. Among them was Ledru-Rollin. The latter whose sanguine temperament subjected him to alternate fits of despondency from hope too long deferred, one day lost all faith in the possibility of the movement.

'It is a long time in coming!' he said to me in despairing mood. Will it ever come?'

But it came, after all; and there was undoubted wisdom displayed in the selection of its chiefs. Three Sicilians officered it; chief among them, Rosolino Pilo, whom I had met when he was here. This exclusive captaincy of Sicilians was a necessity, in the first instance, owing to the autonomist tendencies then prevailing in the isle. Italians from the mainland could not have carried the people with them in the beginning. It was different with Garibaldi, whose cosmopolitan fame and highly sympathetic personality easily attracted men. But of the reasons why he was originally a stranger to the preparations, and of his hesitation for weeks to accept the leadership when offered to him, more is to be said afterwards.

II.

MEETING IN THE ISLE OF WIGHT.

A MOST Soothing rural calm lay over the bit of country in the Isle of Wight where Garibaldi stayed-if calm can be said to exist amidst the cawing of what seemed to be an interminable number

of rooks and ravens fluttering about tree-tops, or otherwise busying themselves in the neighbourhood. These dark-winged birds, though once sacred to Odin, or rather because once sacred to him, are at present held in German superstition to be birds of ill-omen. I have always been glad to find that it is still different in England where their cawing goes on merrily, if not very harmoniously, in the vicinity of the dwellings of man. On entering the house I learnt that the host and his guest had made an excursion to Portsmouth with ViceAdmiral Sir Michael Seymour to see the dockyard and the shipping. After some time spent in the company of the wife of Colonel Chambers, the trusty friend of Garibaldi, the famed Italian leader himself entered.

With touching vivacity and almost stormy heartiness, he came towards me, in spite of the lameness of his foot, which entailed caution upon him. He was then in his fifty-seventh year; but a glow of youthful fire and animation was plainly discernible in him. His manners were highly sympathetic; at once dignified, simple, and full of cordiality. His countenance, a moment before furrowed with deep seriousness, lost its sternness all on a sudden, lightening up with a beaming expression, as he held forth his right hand, and in pleasing sonorous voice gave a greeting. He was of middle height, or rather a little below it; of well-set, graceful frame; lithe and active; and apparently strong withal. He came in with a swinging gait, like the old seaman he was-though evidently hampered in his movements. The large drapery of his light-coloured mantle, under which the red shirt and silver-grey trousers could be seen, impressed one with the notion of his being rather square-shouldered. A small, black felt hat covered his head. He was leaning on the 'stick of Aspromonte.'

His broad, massive face and large forehead; his fair long locks, reddish golden, slightly mixed with grey; his blue eyes (somewhat small, but of piercing glance); his whole figure and bearing had nothing of the typical Italian. With his head, at all events, he seemed to have stepped out of Tacitus' Germania '-cærulei oculi, rutila coma. Nor did his gestures-few, and of the simplest kind -remind one in the least of a southern man. Physiognomy, build, measured manner of speaking: all formed the strongest contrast to Mazzini's appearance, who was dark-eyed, dark-haired, slender, of finely-cut features, with comparatively small head, but large forehead; of utmost rapidity of speech, and expressive Italian gestures. At first sight, Garibaldi might have been taken for a German or a Scotchman of the Lowlands. This impression became even stronger, after I had repeatedly met and held prolonged close converse with him.

Italy is full of Tibaldis, Grimaldis, Rinaldis, Rolandis, Umbertis, Robertis, Giobertis, Sismondis, Raimondis, and numberless other names pointing to Teutonic conquest and settlement-even as the name of Lombardy itself. Garibaldi is a purely and historically

well-known German name. It means 'Spear-bold,' or 'War-bold,' and is, therefore, eminently suitable in the case of the famed Nizzard, the Italian descendant of ancient Teutons. Bavarian dukes of the Agilolfing race bore that name—which once was what we now would call an ordinary pre-name-in the sixth and seventh centuries. Garibald I. resided at Regensburg; his daughter Teutelinda, whose romantic story Gibbon records,' was married to the Lombard King Autharich. Garibald II., duke in Bavaria, warred against Slavs and Avars. To this day, a noble family in Austria bears the name of 'von Garibald.' A still frequent commoner's name in GermanyGerbel-is but a contraction of Garibaldi. Even in England there is a village in Norfolk, Garboldisham, once the home of a German leader of that name. And to none more than to Joseph Garibaldı does the description of the Longobards, as we find it in Roman authors, apply, who depict them as stern-faced and fiercely valiant, but most good-hearted and wonderfully kindly the moment the battle

was over.

After the first warm greetings, Garibaldi asked me at once to come up with him to his bedroom for a quiet, uninterrupted talk. I saw in a moment that he had to make some communication of importance. I offered him my arm; with dragging leg he mounted the staircase, repeatedly stopping. The Destroying Angel of that Monarchy into whose hand he, in 1860, had pressed the sword of power, had truly grazed him closely enough on the heights of Aspromonte, and given him a taste of the edge of his glaive. There we now sat in the small room for friendly intercourse. was the time of the Schleswig-Holstein war-a time of great issues for our fatherland. Repeatedly, Garibaldi had expressed to me, before, his sympathy with Germany as a nation. For all that, he could not forget that Venice still lay under Habsburg dominion. Neither at Vienna, nor at Berlin, did freedom flourish very much. The names of the ruling houses of Austria and Prussia had not a Liberal sound.

It

'How, then, if Italians were to make an assault on the side of the Alps and the Adriatic, whilst the Austrian and Prussian armies were engaged in the North?'

This was the thought, this the hinted proposal of Garibaldi. Of a plan to that effect he gave me an intimation. Was it simply his own idea? Had the Party of Action suggested it? Or had sympathisers in this country with the Danish cause something to do with it?

I do not know; but at all events I had, for years past, defended the Schleswig-Holstein cause. In 1848 we rose in arms in Southern Germany, after the armistice of Malmö had been treacherously imposed upon the Schleswig-Holstein people by the King of Prussia. Narrowly escaping from death by court-martial as a member of a

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, v. 124.

Provisional Government, I had undergone long imprisonment in the casemates of Rastatt, until freed by a new successful rising. In exile, I had with a number of friends started a propaganda for the same patriotic cause; advocating it in German, English, French, Italian, at last using even the Polish and Magyar languages to some of the Austrian troops engaged in the war. Numerous letters to the 'Globe' (then Lord John Russell's organ), to the Times,' and other journals, thousands of pamphlets sent to all the statesmen, diplomatic representatives, and newspapers of England, had expressed our views. The memoranda privately sent to the English Foreign Office by the leaders of the Schleswig Parliament, Messrs. Hansen and ThomsenOldenswort, were transmitted by me to Lord John Russell; first by the intermediary of Mr. Dunlop, M.P., and then directly. These memoranda had to be smuggled out of the Duchies, owing to the severe watchfulness and tyranny of the Danish authorities. Brought by a trusty man to Hamburg, they were conveyed to London under another address; and as the Schleswig leaders could not dare to put their signatures to it, I had to vouch for the authenticity of the documents to Lord John Russell.

In 1863-64, the movement in Germany was so strong in favour of Schleswig-Holstein that the princely Governments might have been overwhelmed by a popular storm, had they not yielded to the national current. At Frankfort, a Vigilance Committee of Thirtysix was established, composed of prominent representatives of the people-many of them known in 1848-49. At any moment that Committee might have convoked a Provisional Parliament, as in the year of revolution. My own advice was in this direction, as soon as it appeared that the Courts of Berlin and Vienna were wavering in their policy. From London we had organised an extensive agitation among the troops, in the sense of the full independence of Schleswig-Holstein, as desired by its population and parliaments. There would have been personal danger for the commanders of the army had they given the order to turn back from the task for which the nation had made up its mind.

To several of the chief members of the Frankfort Committee I had engaged myself beforehand, by private letter, to come to Germany, in order to share the risk,2 as soon as they gave a hint that they had resolved upon a popular rising. Truly, my heart was set on the cause of our oppressed brethren in the North.

And now Garibaldi, of all men, threw out such a proposal!

I did not wait for many details of his idea. "That which Lombardo-Venetia was, or is, for you,' I said to him, Schleswig-Holstein

[ocr errors]

In the public place Germany's fate must now be decided. Some of you, at least, know well that he who gives this counsel has also given the pledge of his personal readiness.'-(Address to the Committee of the Thirty-Six. London Hermann, January 30, 1864.)

« AnteriorContinuar »