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enslaved their owners, by introducing the lowest beliefs in witchcraft, sorcery, and other superstitions.
We have already presented to the reader a picture of a Venetian feast. The next and last sketch that may be attempted is the interior of one of the suite of rooms in the ‘Ridotto,' a building in the Piazza, where gambling began at midnight and continued till day. Table after table was set out; at each of them a noble, seated with his back to the wall, holding the bank, which was spread before him in piles of gold and silver. He was not masked, but every visitor was; the ladies, as Beckford says, ' with innumerable adventures written in their eyes,' the only feature visible; all, male and female, losing and gaining immense sums with equal apparent sang-froid, and in the profoundest silence.
The corruption of the best is proverbially the worst, and the corruption of this hard, practical people, of whom Gibbon says that their policy was marked by the avarice of a trading, and the insolence of a maritime power,' offers the picture of a vicious effeminacy unmatched as yet in modern history—feasting, revelling, perfuming, masking, and gambling, with other pastimes best left unmentioned. With all these vices, it is easy to foresee the .handwriting on the wall.' It came with the modern Attila. There had been plenty of warning. The French Revolution, fruit of kindred follies and vices, had given notice to all the European States to set their houses in order. But Venice had taken no heed, and the time for so doing was now over.
Nor was there even manhood enough left in her chosen legislators to fear the storm they had conjured up; for of all the centuries she had known, her last (the eighteenth) was her gayest. Who now turned to that government, so jealously kept pure from all popular blood, and opened only to that of the nobles? Most of chese, from the united effects of idleness, unbridled dissipation, and perpetual intermarriage, were by this time in a state of bankruptcy and physical degeneration. Yet even this last stage was deceitfully suspended; for the charms of the Enchantress city attracted rich foreigners in such numbers as to create a fictitious wealth. Even so late as 1789, the death of the wiser Doge Paolo Renier was concealed from the gay crowds, in order to leave the last carnival days undisturbed.
In the spring of 1797 the situation became acute. The Gran Consiglio held meeting over meeting, which equally betrayed their pusillanimity and their impotence. A Doge with some of the old buccaneer blood in him, or a government with some popular infusion, might have prolonged the days, or
rather the agony, of the old Republic; but Buonaparte was destined to find one of the weakest of the long line of ducal princes on the throne. Ludovico Manin, a gentle, kind petit maître, who went about dropping his perfumed visiting-cards, had been elected because he was rich; for few of the older noblesse could now undertake the expenses of the office. He had not desired it, and wept when he accepted, and again when he relinquished it. At length, with two imminent ills before them, the massacre of the inhabitants by the French troops, and the sack of the city by them and their own Slavonian mercenaries; betrayed by the Barnabotti, now triumphing over their fall; cursed by the Cittadini, who attributed to them the ruin of the Republic; with a French pinnace anchored opposite the Ducal Palace; this artificially kept-up caste, on the 4th of May, 1799, voted for its own dissolution by a majority of 698 out of 719. The time was come; it had been for long one gradual but certain felo de se. The final blow was dealt virtually by themselves. In the embarrassment of their finances the chief families had borrowed the funds of the old convents, themselves hotbeds of vice, making shift to pay interest as they could. The suppression of the convents by Buonaparte for the purposes of confiscation called in their outstanding loans, and thus gave the finishing stroke to the deeply-involved nobles.
ART. IV.-1. Lettere Edite ed Inedite di Camillo Cavour. Rac
colte da L. Chiala. Six volumes. Torino, 1884-7. 2. Il Conte di Cavour avanti 1848. Per Domenico Berti.
Roma, 1886. 3. Diario Inedito del Conte di Cavour. Publicato per cura di
D. Berti. Roma, 1888.
for the first time, to see Cavour as he lived and worked. Much relating to his great achievement is still withheld from publicity ; but though the record of revelations is incomplete, these volumes afford ample means for discovering Cavour's real character. It is true we have already had interesting Memoirs of Count Cavour; notably one by Monsieur de la Rive, who, as a kinsman, had special advantages. The portraitures in those sketches amount, however, to mere glimpses at the matured statesman vigorously engaged in portions of the great work of his life. The inner process, through which his powerful nature matured the faculties that enabled him to shape successfully a great political transformation, is not laid bare in those fragmentary notices. The admirable mettle of Cavour's nature was due to a blending of elements varied in their tone, and distinct in their source; and their fusion was phenomenal. Fanciful conceptions, rhetorical declamation, theatrical rhapsody, which elicit ready applause from the inflammable enthusiasm of his countrymen, never had the slightest attraction for Cavour; they were thoroughly distasteful to his keenly discriminating, yet warmly appreciative, instinct. Massiveness was the cardinal feature of Cavour's nature. In his activity there was nothing spasmodic; it worked with indefatigable precision at high pressure ; being fed from a seemingly drainless store of buoyant vitality, and directed in its application by a clearsightedness of transcendent keenness. No waste occurred in the expenditure of this superior force; to indulge in letting off mere intellectual fireworks was wholly foreign to Cavour's temperament. He contrived to infuse seriousness into whatever he took in hand, not through any false emphasis drawn from inflated sentiment, for no one could be more free from any tinge of bombast, but from his breadth and power of mind. While persistent and grave in serious pursuits, Cavour had high animal spirits. The healthy texture of his nature, inseparable from a fund of passion, caused him to enter briskly into the pleasures of life, and gave him a strong dash of fun. But in Cavour the sense of fun differed considerably from the type of fun prevalent amongst his countrymen. The comic vein of
Italy is brilliant, but pre-eminently caustic; it is by nature uproarious, and instinctively prone to buffoonery; in its sallies the wit sparkles, but also stings with a facetiousness sharply satirical. Astoundingly free, often audaciously licentious, it breaks out into romps and jokes of a practical kind. Pulcinello is the embodiment of Italian instinct for fun; the Carnival, with its rollicking Harlequinades and pungent Pasquinades, is the expression of Italian merriment. There is abundance of rattle and movement and salt; but what it lacks is that deeper, though less flashing, vein of comedy which constitutes humour. The literature, resplendent with a galaxy of glittering Boccaccios and Ariostos and Castis, cannot show a single star bright with the cheerfulness that beams in Fielding or Cervantes. Cavour had a store of fun that chuckled with intense inward glee, instinctively expressed by an inveterate habit of rubbing his hands together; and his sarcasm, from the bantering tone of his humour, created a drollery that raised hearty laughter, without subjecting the victim of its ridicule to writhe with viciously inflicted pain.
During his earlier career, Cavour was considerably misunderstood. He was looked on generally as a person of superior but headstrong and imperious acuteness, with a keen eye for the practical side of things, quick in the discernment of undertakings that promised remunerative return, but at heart indifferent to liberal principles, and by no means fond of really popular institutions. When the events of 1848 opened the door to public life, Count Cavour found entry barred by popular distrust. This was due not merely to aristocratic connection and family antecedents: the whole tone of Cavour's utterances jarred on the then state of popular feeling. To a public quite untrained in self-discipline, delirious in the gush of emotional enthusiasm, surging in the transports of a political whirlpool, Cavour spoke with unruffled self-composure in clear incisive accents, which sounded utterly out of tune to fevered ears. Amidst general confusion and a shrill chorus of discordant declamation, Cavour preserved presence of mind, and exhibited indifference to personal consequences at once irritating and imposing. He encouraged one day, and sharply rebuked the next, the populace and its favourites, like one judging from a higher level their performance on the world's stage. How was it that this Piedmontese country gentleman of aristocratic birth, reared in the stifling atmosphere of the most retrograde of reactionary states, had contrived to gather in himself quali
ns which enabled him to retain an unfaltering clearness of insight, while all around were frantically groping a way
through the fog and darkness of revolutionary convulsion ? This problem we are enabled to unravel, thanks to the present publications.
Cavour belonged to the very flower of Piedmontese nobility, and in the Piedmont before 1848 that implied a great deal. Nowhere was the chasm wider between Aristocracy and Bourgeoisie; and the rigid etiquette enjoined at Court, partaking of Spanish punctiliousness, gave solemn confirmation to this distinction. Not that the Piedmontese aristocracy were lacking in qualities higher than mere caste prejudice. They were proudly exclusive; but they were likewise distinguished for manliness in the field and for strength of character. The Alfieris and the Revels, the De Maistres and the Ponza di San Martinos, the D'Azeglios, and a host of other names, represent attested gallantry and acknowledged vigour of mind. But in temperament and in habit they were essentially aristocrats; at Turin they lived exclusively amongst themselves. Except in the garb of ecclesiastical orders, no bourgeois element was ever admitted on a footing of equality within familiar circles inside their vast but gloomy mansions. It seems certain that, in the twelfth century, the Santena property was held by a Cavour. More interesting is the fact that, in the great political Reformer of Italy, there mingled the blood of St. Francis de Sales and of a stubborn Huguenot who preferred voluntary exile to the sacrifice of conviction. The central figure in the Cavour household was the grandmother. She was a de Sales by birth, daughter to the Marquis de Duingt, seigneur of a turreted castle, for eight centuries the family stronghold, perched on a rugged peak above the Lake of Annecy in Savoy. The determined resoluteness of the Savoyard race was strong in this brave lady. Vicissitudes consequent on French invasion were encountered with an unflinching spirit. Not only the family plate, but the most cherished heirlooms, even St. Francis's silver holy-water basin, were sold to meet the wants of relatives; notably to provide an outfit for the father of Camillo, when compelled to enter the
On the installation of Pauline Borghese in Turin, the Marchesa Cavour was induced to grace her court, with the rank of first lady in waiting, on condition, however, that her relatives should be erased from the list of proscribed Royalists. After the Restoration the Marchesa resided in the family mansion in Turin, where, with unchallenged authority, she ruled the family circle down to her death in 1849. Though she was in temper and habit essentially an Aristocrat, her intelligence was too vigorous to be subject to the petty prejudices of a stifling reaction. Democracy was not to her taste, but she