|The Growth of the British Empire|
|by M. B. Synge|
|Book V of the Story of the World Series. Treats the revolutions in South America and Mexico, the Boer War in South Africa, and the exploration of Central Africa, the Greek and Italian wars for independence, the Crimean War, the American Civil War, the opening of trade with Japan and China, and the rebellion in India. Ages 13-18 |
KING OF UNITED ITALY
"I write of days that will not come again,—
Not in our time. The dream of Italy
Is now a dream no longer; and the night
—MRS HAMILTON KING (The Disciples).
 DARK indeed was the outlook in Italy, when Victor Emmanuel of Sardinia took up the sceptre, that his father had
flung aside, after the battle of Novara. The year of revolution had come and gone, leaving the country more
hopeless than ever. But Mazzini had not lifted his voice in vain, though the prospect was of the gloomiest, as
he sat amid the ruins of Rome, after the departure of Garibaldi. "He waited for friends to rally round him, but
none dared to rally; for foes to slay him, but no man dared to slay." And at last he went his way into exile
once more. His work for Italy was done.
Ten years passed away, and war with Austria again became inevitable. Instead of the lofty dreamer, Italy had
now a practical man of affairs in Count Cavour to lead her. His idea was to drive the Austrians from the
country, by force of arms, and establish a united northern kingdom under his master Victor Emmanuel. But he saw
clearly that Italy could not succeed single-handed. So he turned to France, and the Emperor Napoleon agreed to
come and help.
 War was declared in 1859, and at Genoa, Victor Emmanuel met his new ally Napoleon.
"I have come to liberate Italy from the Alps to the Adriatic," said the Emperor confidently, as together the
two monarchs made their way to the front. They carried all before them. The victory of Magenta was followed by
that of Solferino, and then, for some unknown reason, Napoleon stayed his hand. He met Francis Joseph, Emperor
of Austria, at Villafranca, and made a peace, which filled the Italians with dismay, for it gave the province
of Venice to Austria, making union impossible. Cavour was terrible in his anger and grief.
"Before Villafranca," he cried, "the union of Italy was a possibility: since Villafranca, it is a necessity."
The events of 1859 had brought Garibaldi to the fore again. He had been summoned before Cavour. Wearing the
historic red shirt, he presented himself at the door and demanded audience of the great Italian minister. He
refused his name, and the servant, alarmed by his fierce appearance, refused him admittance. At last, as
Garibaldi refused to go away, Cavour was consulted.
"Let him come in," said the minister. "It is probably some poor beggar with a petition."
Such was the first meeting between the great statesman and the no less famous volunteer. Garibaldi now fought
against the Austrians, and at the
 sudden termination of the war, he was hailed as a national deliverer throughout the country. He was now to win
yet higher fame.
Sicily and Naples were ruled by one king, and Sicily now raised the standard of revolt, declaring her intention
of joining Italy in her struggle for unity. Garibaldi determined to join them with his volunteers.
"Italians," ran his proclamation, "the Sicilians are fighting for Italy. To help them with money, arms, and men
is the duty of every Italian. To arms, then! Let us show the world, that this is truly the land once trodden by
the great Roman race."
He waited for no orders in this rash undertaking. "I know," he wrote to Victor Emmanuel, "that I embark on a
perilous enterprise. If we achieve it, I shall be proud to add to your Majesty's crown a new and glorious
It was a calm moonlight night in May, when the red-shirted band stole away from the shores of Italy in two
steamers, under the command of Garibaldi, bound for Sicily. When fairly out to sea, Garibaldi planned his
coming campaign. On May 11, the thousand landed at Marsala.
"Sicilians," cried Garibaldi, "I have brought you a body of brave men. To arms all of you! Sicily shall once
again teach the world, how a country can be freed from its oppressors by the powerful will of a united people."
 The name of Garibaldi acted like magic. Sicilian peasants flocked to his standard, till his numbers were
doubled. An army from Naples was now sent to oppose him. The armies met at a little mountain town, called
Calatifimi. After a sharp conflict the Neapolitans, in their gaudy uniforms with gold lace and epaulettes, fled
before the red-shirted band of half-armed enthusiasts, and Garibaldi entered Calatifimi as a conqueror. Two
hundred of his men were wounded, including his son Menotti. Those who knew his utter devotion to the boy, had
begged him not to risk so precious a life rashly.
"I only wish I had twenty Menottis, that I might risk them all," was the heroic answer.
On to Palermo marched the liberators. Now they had to creep along goat-tracks on the mountain-side, now they
were drenched to the skin by heavy rain, but hungry, shelterless, they trudged on.
"If you join me, you must learn to live without bread and to fight without cartridges," Garibaldi had once told
They forced their way into Palermo, and with the capture of Milazzo, they had practically conquered the whole
island. It was an achievement, which stands alone in modern history.
Garibaldi now turned his eyes towards Naples. He would yet proclaim Victor Emmanuel king of a united Italy!
As he advanced towards the city, enthusiastic
 crowds surrounded him. "Viva Garibaldi!" arose from every side, as he made his triumphal entry.
The king of Naples and Sicily had fled, but troops sullenly guarded the royal palace. They waited but one word
to fire on Garibaldi. It was an anxious moment. One shot, and the work of the last month was undone. The
Liberator stood up in his carriage, and, folding his arms, looked earnestly at the uncertain troops. He was
within range of the guns. Amazed and almost terrified, the soldiers suddenly threw aside their matches, and,
waving their caps in the air, shouted with the crowd, "Viva Garibaldi!"
Two months later, Victor Emmanuel and Garibaldi entered Naples side by side. Then, having laid this new kingdom
of Naples and Sicily at the feet of his king, the simple-hearted chief, refusing all honours and decorations,
passed quietly away to his island home at Caprera.
He had fought for Italy and he had conquered. This was reward enough.
Garibaldi outlived Cavour, he outlived Mazzini. All three men had played their part in the union of Italy. For
the first time since the downfall of the great Roman empire, one king ruled over Italy, though ten years more
passed, before the kingdom was complete and the Italian flag floated over Rome.
GARIBALDI STOOD UP IN HIS CARRIAGE.
It is not the banner of Mazzini's ideal Republic. The attainment of unity fell far short of the high purpose,
which inspired Young Italy. But that
 unity, which once seemed an impossible dream, is to-day an accomplished fact; and it may be, that as her
national life develops, Italy will yet prove worthy of her great past and of a yet greater future.
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