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CHAPTER X I.
THE LIBERALS WITHOUT REFORM.
\HE Liberal Ministry was strongly constituted, and stretched
its far-reaching roots through all the parliamentary soil. Mr. Gladstone was Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord John Russell had the Foreign portfolio, Sir George Lewis was Home Secretary , and Mr. Sidney Herbert, Minister of War. Colonial affairs were entrusted to the Duke of Newcastle, the Irish Secretaryship to Mr. Cardwell, and India to Sir Charles Wood. Lord Palmerston had even made advances to the Radical founders of the Manchester school, offering a place in the Cabinet to Mr. Cobden and to Mr. Milner Gibson. Mr. Cobden at the time of the formation of the ministry was at sea, on his way home from the United States; as he set foot on shore his friends hastened to inform him that he had been elected member for Rochdale, that the Tory Ministry had fallen, and in the construction of the Liberal Cabinet, a place had been reserved for him by Lord Palmerston. He was urged to accept it, but refused to commit himself until he had had a personal interview with Lord Palmerston. His decision, however, was made; he disapproved cf Lord? Palmerston's foreign policy, and would not agree to serve under his flag. Nevertheless he counselled Mr. Milner Gibson not to follow his example, and that gentleman did, in fact, enter the new Cabinet.
The Whig Ministry had been formed at a moment of European agitation, of which the shock was felt in England. The long ambition and foresight of Count Cavour were bearing fruit. The little kingdom of Piedmont was beginning to bring forth Italy, that ancient fiction of poets and patriots, until now without historic existence, without any real traditions. The battlefield of centuries was again opened in Lombardy, and the Emperor Napoleon III., proclaiming that France was the only country in the world which made war for an idea, marched to deliver Lombardy and Venetia from the odious rule of the Austrians. The declaration of war had not been spontaneous, and the emperor had hesitated long before entering upon the performance of his engagements with Count Cavour. He was in no hurry to begin hostilities whose end no man could foresee. The military reputation of the Austrians was great; personal renown had very small place in the mind of Napoleon III., who, in the depths of his soul, was not perfectly sure of his own military talent. Europe weighed heavily in favor of peace, and England in particular strongly urged it.
The influence of Count Cavour outweighed that of all Europe. Resolved to serve his country by all means, unscrupulous in the choice of them, Count Cavour went forward to his goal with a will as determined as his intelligence was prompt and his decisions bold and judicious. “ There are only two ambitious men in Europe,” M. Guizot was accustomed to say at that time, “ Count Cavour and Count Bismarck." Both of these two men have since attained their objects through the dark ways of politics and the violence of war. Prince Bismarck was able to say on the morrow of his victory: “Force has the advantage over right.” Count Cavour was too moderate in manner and too refined in language to risk an axiom like this, he simply limited himself to ignoring the right. In 1859, and by the support of the Emperor Napoleon III., he boldly put on the glorious mantle of liberal patriotism. It was in the name of Italian independence, too long oppressed, that he declared war; Italy rose beneath his hand to drive out the stranger. The Italian war was as short as it was brilliant; the power of the Austrians in Italy vanished, like their former military reputation; the Emperor Napoleon stopped suddenly in the career which he had announced his intention to follow out to its completion. The breath of deliverance did not reach as far as the Adriatic; for some years longer Venetia was destined to remain under the German yoke, until German dissensions should throw her, astonished at her own liberty, into the hands of Napoleon as a trust to be held for the benefit of Italy.
The peace of Villafranca disturbed Europe and caused great anxiety. Count Cavour could not be expected to stop there; of this Europe was conscious; the annexation of Savoy and Nice seemed an exorbitant price for the assistance lately granted by the emperor in the name of liberty; the people of England were even more anxious than her government. The Italian question henceforth seemed to considerate minds to contain remote dangers, as well as other more evident ones. first time the subject was mentioned to Lord Palmerston," said M. Guizot, “ he did not repulse it absolutely, but he said, It is strange; the Emperor Napoleon declared in beginning the war that he wished the integrity of the Papal States, and by no means the territorial aggrandizement of France; and in closing it he seems to have obtained neither of his wishes.'
At this time M. Guizot wrote, “There is an effort made to persuade London to be satisfied that France should have Savoy and Nice, on condition of her approving and assuring the union of Central Italy to Piedmont. I incline to believe that we shall obtain it, perhaps at the price of some commercial concessions." The commercial question had already come up. The cause of Free Trade, fought for in England so brilliantly and with so much vigor, was henceforth won for all Europe, and it was England who was to be its propagandist. Mr. Gladstone, as Chancellor of the Exchequer and as an ardent follower of Sir
Robert Peel, supported, with all his personal and official influence, Mr. Cobden, engaged unofficially in negotiating with the Emperor Napoleon. A treaty of commerce between France and England resulted from this bold and irregular conference. The somewhat confused ideas which crowded in the emperor's brain, aided by the practical information and the resolute firmness of his minister, M. Rouher, the influence of French political economists and a certain confidence which the emperor felt towards England and Mr. Cobden, inspired and effected the great change in the commercial relations of France with Great Britain, - a change too sudden not to excite grave remonstrances and bring after it enormous difficulties, but impossible to revoke, being as it was one of those forward steps which admit of no retrogression, however serious may one day become the doubts and the regrets in regard to them.
The shock produced in France by the treaty of commerce made itself felt in England as an anxiety. The English nation was not at that time favorable to the emperor and to his policy ; the war in Italy and the results which had followed in the peninsula, as well as in France itself, had shocked and pained many good men. The Tories had no taste for Italian independence; the Liberals troubled themselves very little about it. A new power was coming into existence which must be taken account of. The imprudence of a French policy creating with its own hands a compact state upon its frontier seemed so incredible that all manner of dark and underhand designs were ascribed to the emperor; even danger to public morals was apprehended in England from the establishment of free trade with France. French wines, freely imported into Great Britain, would bring about, it was believed, an increasing demoralization. Mr. Gladstone was accused of having sacrificed the national interests to his theories, and of rendering defenceless the frontiers of his country. The clamor grew louder when the able