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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Marched from Rome against the Austrians


The cause of Italy]

[Sidenote: Other Powers hostile]

[Sidenote: Italy isolated]

The unexpected outbreak of revolution in Vienna and Hungary had inspired the Italians to rebel against Austrian rule with new confidence. On March 30, Pio Nono at Rome issued a proclamation to the people of Italy, in which he said: "The events which have followed one another with such astounding rapidity during the last two months are not the work of man. Woe to him who, in this storm that shatters cedars as well as oaks, hears not the voice of the Lord." Under the command of General Durando, a band of Crociati, or crusaders, marched from Rome against the Austrians. Count Balbo was placed in command of the Piedmontese army. To the remonstrances of the British Ambassador at Turin, King Charles Albert replied that he must either march against Austria or lose his crown. England, indeed, was emphatic in its disapproval of the Italian national movement. In the pages of the "Edinburgh Review," Sir Archibald Allison, the court historian, wrote: "It is utterly repugnant to the first principles of English policy, and to every page in English history, to lend encouragement to the separation of nationalities from other empires." The new republican government in France, on its part, had no desire to see a strong Italian national State spring up on its southern frontier. Lamartine, the French Foreign Minister,

declined Charles Albert's request to sanction his military occupation of Lombardy. A strong French army of observation was concentrated on the Italian frontier in the Alps. Germany, which in later years was destined to become the strongest ally of Italy, was still so bound up with Austria that when Arnold Ruge in the Frankfort Parliament dared to express a wish for the victory of Italian arms against Austria, a great storm of indignation broke out in Germany. As a last resort, Charles Albert, on April 6, proposed an offensive and defensive alliance to Switzerland, but the little republic wisely declined to emerge from its traditional neutrality. It was then that the Italians raised the defiant cry: "Italia fara de se" (Italy will fight her own battles). When the hard beset Austrian Government, in a confidential communication of Minister Wessendberg to Count Casati, showed itself inclined to yield Lombardy upon payment of Lombardy's share in the Austrian national debt, the proposition was curtly declined.

[Sidenote: Set-back at Naples]

[Sidenote: Neapolitan forces recalled]

[Sidenote: Pio Nono's allocution]

It was a fatal move. The course of Italy, as Dante once sang, seemed like that of "a ship without stars in a wild storm." Affairs took a wrong turn in Naples. There a new popular Parliament had just been elected, which was about to meet, when there were some final difficulties between the King and his Liberal Ministers over the exact wording of the oath of allegiance. The excitable Neapolitan populace forthwith became unmanageable. The Swiss Guards, who had long been the butt of the people, put down the revolt without mercy. Once more King Ferdinand was master. He hastened to dismiss his Cabinet and dissolved

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