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The Westminster Review.
who wish my country well, and is thereTHE RELIGIOUS SIDE OF THE ITALIAN
fore deserving of a serious answer. QUESTION.
Before treating the personal matter, BY JOSEPH MAZZINI,
however, let me say that since 1859 the I.
Republican party has done precisely I HAVE of late frequently been asked what my English_friends require it to by my English friends why it is that I do. The Italian Republicans have acdecline to return to my country, and to tively assisted and upheld the Governassociate my own efforts for the moral ment with an abnegation worthy of all and political advancement of Italy, with praise ; sacrificing even their right of those of her governing classes.“ The apostolate to the great idea of Italian amnesty has opened up a path for the unity, and patiently awaiting the result legal dissemination of your ideas,” they of the trial the nation chose to give to tell me; “by taking the place already monarchy; resigned to endure any repeatedly offered you among the rep- amount of misgovernment rather than resentatives of the people, you would afford a pretext to those in power for secure to those who hold the helm of the non-fulfilment of their declared the State the support of the whole intention of initiating a war to regain Republican party. Do you not, by our own territory and our own frontier; throwing the weight of your name and a war which they knew to be the influence on the side of the malcontents, supreme and sole condition of Italy's increase the difficulties of the Govern- security and honor; and which, bad it ment, and prolong the fatal want of been conducted from a truly national moral and political unity, without which point of view-would have wrought the the mere material fact of union is bar- moral redemption of our people. ren, and unproductive of benefit to the The monarchy had five years to pre
pare this war; unlimited supplies of The question is asked by serious men money; an obsequious Parliament, and NEW SERIES— Vol. VI., No. 5.
the whole of Italy-as facts have proved Such are the essential characteristics -ready for every description of sacri- of what we term a nation at the present fice in blood, or money.
day. Where these are wanting, there What has been the result ? Our exists but an aggregate of families, temmonarchy, which had taken the field porarily united for the purpose of dimin. with 350,000 regular troops, 100,000 ishing the ills of life, and loosely bound mobilized National Guards, 30,000 vol- together by past habits or interests, unteers under Garibaldi, and the whole which are destined sooner or later to nation ready to act as reserve, abruptly clash. All intellectual or economic debroke off the war-after the unqualified velopment among them—unregulated disasters of Custoza and Lissa--at a by a great conception, supreme over signal from France; basely abandoning every selfish interest-instead of being our true frontier, the heroic Trentino, equally diffused over the various memand accepted Venice as an alms scorn- bers of the national family, leads to the fully flung to us by the man of the 2d gradual formation of educated or finanDecember.
ciary castes; but obtains for the nation itI may be told that the people which self neither recognized function, position, tamely submits to dishonor for itself, dignity, nor glory among foreign peoples. its army, and its volunteers, deserves it. These things, which are true of all
I admit it: but it is the nature of the peoples, are still more markedly so of a mass to look upward, and to rule their people emerging from a prolonged and own conduct by the example set by the death-like stupor into new life. Other governing power, and I assert that if nations earnestly watch its every step. our people have no consciousness of If its advance is illumined by the signs their great destiny, no sense of their of a hig!ı mission, and its first manifestrue power and mission ; if, while tations sanctified by the baptism of a twenty-four millions of Italians are at great principle, other nations will surthe present day grouped around-I will round the new collective being with not say the conception of unity,--but the affection and hope, and be ready to mere unstable fact of union—the great follow it upon the path assigned to it soul of Italy still lies prostrate in the by God. If they discover in it no signs tomb dug for her three centuries ago by of any noble inspiration, ruling moral the Papacy and the Empire—the cause conception, or potent future, they will is to be found in the immorality and learn to despise it, and to regard its corruption of our rulers.
territory as a new field for a predatory The true life of a people must be policy and direct or indirect domination. sought in the ruling idea or conception Tradition has marked out and defined by which it is governed and directed. the characteristics of a high mission
The true idea of a nation implies the more distinctly in Italy than elsewhere. consciousness of a common aim, and the We alone among the nations that have fraternal association and concentration expired in the past, have twice arisen in of all the vital forces of the country resurrection and given new life to Eutoward the realization of that aim. rope. The innate tendency of the Ital
The national aim is indicated by the ian mind always to harmonize thought past tradition, and confirmed by the and action, confirms the prophecy of present conscience of the country. The history, and points out the role of Italy national aim once ascertained, it be- in the world to be a work of moral comes the basis of the sovereign power, UNIFICATION; the utterance of the synand the criterium of judgment with thetic word of civilization. regard to the acts of the citizens.
Italy is a religion. Every act tending to promote the And if we look only to the immenational aim is good, every act tending diate national aim, and the inevitable to a departure from that aim is evil.
consequences that must follow the The moral law is supreme. The reli- complete constitution of Italy as a gion of duty forms the link between the nation, we see that to no people in Eunation and humanity, the source of its rope has been assigned a higher office in right, and the sign of its place and value the fulfilment of the educational design in humanity.
to the evolution of which Providence guides humanity from epoch to epoch. They who earnestly believe in the Our unity will be of itself a potent ini- supremacy of the moral law as the sole tiative in the world. The mere fact legitimate source of all authority, in a of our existence as a nation will carry religion of duty, of which politics are with it an important modification both the application, cannot, through any of the external and internal life of Europe. amount of personal abnegation, act in
Had we regained Venice through a war concert with a Government based upon directed as justice and the exigencies of the worship of temporary and material the case required, instead of basely interest. submitting to the humiliation of receiv- Our rulers have no great ruling coning it from the hands of a foreign despot, ception; no belief in the supremacy of we should have dissolved two Empires, the moral law; no just notion of life and called into existence a Slavo-Mag- nor of the human unity; no belief in a yaro-Teutonic federation along the Dan- divinely-appointed goal, which it is the ube, and a Slavo-Hellenic-Rouman fede- duty of mankind to reach through labor ration in the east of Europe.
and sacrifice. They are materialists, We shall not regain Rome without and the logical consequences of their dissolving the Papacy, and proclaiming want of all faith in God and his law, are for the benefit of all humanity that invio- their substitution of the idea of interest lability of conscience which Protestant- for the idea of duty; of a paltry notion ism did but achieve for a fraction of Eu- of tactics for the fearless affirmation of rope, and confined within biblical limits. the truth; of opportunity for principle.
Great ideas make great peoples, and It is for this that they protest against, the sense of the enormous power which without resisting wrong; for this that is an inseparable condition of the exist- they have abandoned the straight road ence of our Italy as a nation, should to wander in tortuous by-paths, fascinhave sufficed to make us great. That ated by the thougtht of displaying statessense, however-God alone knows the craft, and forgetting that it was through grief with which I write it—that sense such paths we first descended into slawith us is wanting.
very. It is for this that our Government And now a word as to the amnesty. has reduced Italy to the condition of a
Were it in my nature to allow any French prefecture, and that our parliapersonal considerations to interfere mentary opposition copies the wretched where the welfare of my country is con- tactics of the left in the French Chamcerned, I might answer that none who ber, which prepared the way, during know me would expect me to give the the Restoration, for the present corruplie to the whole of my past life, and sully tion, degradation, and enslavement of the few years left to me by accepting an
their country offer of oblivion and pardon for having These things, I repeat, are consequenloved Italy above all earthly things, and ces, not causes. We may change as we preached and striven for her unity, as will the individuals at the head of the when all others regarded it as a dream. Government- the system itself being
But my purpose in the present writing based upon a false principle, the fatal idea is far other than self-defence, and the will govern them. They cannot rightsequel will show that even were the eously direct the new life of the Italian sacrifice of the dignity of my last years people, and redeem them from a profound possible, it would be useless.
unconscious immorality of ancient date. My past, present, and future labors
The present duty of the democratic toward the moral and political regene- party in Italy then-since they cannot ration of my country, have been, are, and serve God and Mammon-is to educate will be, governed by a religious idea. the people, and, remembering that the
The past, present, and future of our basis of all education is truth, to enrulers, has been, is, and will be, led deavor to prove to them that the actual astray by materialism.
political impotence and corruption of Now the religious question sums up Italy is derived from two causes, which and dominates every other. Political may be summed up in one: questions are, necessarily, secondary and We have no religion, and we have derivative.
set up a negation in its place.