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To bind together distant shores,
And when the summit of some heath
Peace to their ashes ! may they rest
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can not let a question so momentous to the interests of Europe and the world be finally settled without giving a sketch, in this our mimic critic, of our general opinions upon it. We shall confine ourselves as much as possible to facts; just drawing a few conclusions therefrom, and leaving the rest to our readers. Most people, we imagine, and certainly this community at Harrow, has a very misty idea of what has been going on abroad; and, though our summary may not tend much to elucidate them, we shall dwell for a few moments on the events of the last year.
And, first: What has been the object of all that has taken place, or is actually doing on the Continent? We shall be told, and rightly, the freedom of Italy. Yes, it was for the purpose of improving her condition, and raising her from that state of social and political sloth into which sheonce the mistress of the world—had fallen, that steps were first taken in 1856. The Emperor of the French who, in the meanwhile, had assumed the position of champion of Italian liberty, endeavoured to bring the subject to a peaceful settlement; and, in January, 1859, intermediate negotiations having failed to produce an effect, publicly introduced the subject to Europe. By the help of England and Russia it had been decided that a Congress should assemble and discuss the subject; but, ere the minor points could be arranged, Austria took upon herself the responsibility of destroying all hopes of peace, and declared war against Sardinia. During the whole of this period England and France went hand in hand to bring matters to a peaceful settlement, and it was only when Austria had precipitated the war that Napoleon took the field. The results of that wonderfully brilliant campaign are well known. By a series of victories, almost unparalleled, for the rapidity with which they succeeded one another, in the annals of any nation, the French troops drove Austria, step by step, from her Italian provinces, and paused only before the famous Quadrilateral; jest by engaging Prussia in the conflict, the war should become general, and the whole of Europe be engulphed in the horrors of a Continental conflagration. Enough had been done to assert the supremacy of the French arms, to demonstrate the able generalship of Napoleon himself, and, finally, to lead to an arrangement which, if consummated in a fair and statesmanlike manner, would ensure the safety and freedom of Italy. We maintain that the Treaty of Villafranca was the right course
in results. "Ichess; in saying that treaty premhthe Times and
for France to pursue, and we cannot agree with the Times and other newspapers in calling that treaty premature, and its provisions useless; in saying that the war itself was fruitless in results. The Treaty of Villafranca appears to us to have been the only solution of a problem which required the greatest discrimination and forbearance on all sides.
The events since the treaty, though momentous in the extreme, may be summed up in a few words. The peace of Zurich confirmed the treaty of Villafranca, and we have learnt within the last fortnight that that peace has been ratified by the powers of France, Austria, and Sardinia. Meanwhile some of the Italian states, encouraged by the victories of the French army, threw off the yoke, and deposed their petty princes. This having been accomplished by the brave Garibaldi and his companions in arms, in course of time they offered to annex themselves to the dominions of the King of Sardinia ; but Victor Emmanuel wisely refused the offer, as tending to prejudge the decision of the Congress. Since then, they have offered the regency to the Prince de Carignan, a relative of the king, by whom he was advised to refuse it, which he did, but nominated the Chevalier Buoncompagni as a man well qualified to fill the position: the States, acting upon his advice, made the offer, and were accepted by that statesman. Such a regency must of course be essentially temporary; for Italy awaits the decision of the Congress as to her future fate.
Such being a few of the chief points which bave marked the course of this great revolution, what would seem to be the chief questions to be decided at the Congress? The cession of Lombardy to Sardinia is almost a fait accompli, and only awaits the sanction of a higher tribunal, where we imagine it will receive little opposition. The position of the country, the wishes of the inhabitants, the necessity of the case, all bear out the Emperor of the French in the consummation of a policy which says a great deal for the good faith of France and her ruler. A more debateable question will be whether the Grand Dukes shall be restored to their principalities on any conditions, or not. If, as has undoubtedly been the case, those rulers have tyrannized over their subjects for the last half century, if the inhabitants themselves are in favor of another government, if, finally, a system more equitable and more consistent with the wishes of the Italians can be decided on, we imagine that the right course
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will be to confirm that dethronement. How then are they to be governed ? The great evil in Italy is the number of little petty states into which it is divided. The formation of a powerful kingdom of Central Italy, is objected to on the ground that it would materially alter the balance of power. An annexation of the whole or a portion to Sardinia is likewise repudiated on similar grounds. Something however must be done; and it is advisable that any arrangement should be as nearly final as possible. It will probably be found necessary to amalgamate some, perhaps to annex some to Sardinia ; Venetia alone probably will remain to Austria. That some regulations with regard to the temporal government of the Pope will be mooted we consider certain from the recorded opinions of almost all the great Powers; and we hope sincerely that he may be induced to adopt some reforms in his dominions.
In a Congress destined to discuss questions so important and difficult, we consider it absolutely necessary England should bear a part. The principle of non-intervention, a safe and secure policy in itself, may be carried too far, to the depreciation of our country's position and influence. If, then, England is to be represented, what should be her policy at the coming Congress ? As it seems to us, a conciliatory but decided policy. If Lord John Russell (or whoever it may be that represents England in the coming Congress) goes there with the intention of thwarting the Emperor of the French in every way,—if he purposes to stand up for such impossible principles as the good people of Aberdeen have lately heard, the Congress will be not only fruitless in good results, but productive of incalculable mischief to Europe. But if, on the contrary, he adopts a policy at once firm and conciliatory, he may do a great deal for Italy, in providing her with a form of government no less suitable to her condition than consonant with the wishes of her inhabitants. Much depends upon the person who undertakes the responsible position of England's representative at the Congress.
It cannot be denied that our foreign relations at this time are far from satisfactory. The conduct of the Times and other newspapers has, undoubtedly, produced an effect in weakening the alliance between France and England. Chiefly owing to this, but partly also to the policy of nonintervention, which has always been adopted by this country (and rightly so, as the fitting policy for a country in an insular