The Life and Times of Cavour - Vol. 2

The Life and Times of Cavour - Vol. 2

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The Life and Times of Cavour - Vol. 2

The Life and Times of Cavour - Vol. 2

Read FREE!

Excerpt

FEW human enterprises wear such a double face as modern war. In earlier times news of battle traveled so slowly that weeks might elapse before the result of a campaign was known. The electric telegraph has made not only entire countries but the civilized world consentaneous. The War of 1859 was the first in which the contestants realized the double necessity of winning battles and of editing bulletins which would be read the next day in the great European capitals. The French chroniclers easily excelled the others. They had the tradition of the Great Napoleon's flamboyant despatches; they had a language as direct as a rifle bullet, as clear as crystal, as resonant as a trumpet, and they needed to supply France with a daily banquet of glory in return for the treasure she was reluctantly spending on a war she did not desire. Napoleon III constantly remembered that the Austrians were in front of him and French public opinion behind. So the historian must distinguish what actually happened from the official reports of what happened, and from the popular state of mind which these superinduced. Read in the light of the French bulletins the War of 1859 was a glorious military pageant, in which the Allies had only to meet the enemy in order to rout him; a competition in which every army corps envied its fellows sent ahead of it into battle, a tournament of fame where marshals' batons might be won in a morning, where promotions were awarded to many and medals to all. Among this host military genius was so common that a Frederick or a Napoleon I would have found many peers. Glory beamed everywhere, and the Austrians were obliging enough to offer so manful a resistance . . .

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