Cavour

Cavour

Cavour

Cavour

Excerpt

"Great men owe a fourth part of their fame to their daring," wrote the Italian poet and dramatict Ugo Foscolo, who died in the year that Cavour was gazetted a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers at Turin, "two- fourths to fortune, and the remaining fourth to their crimes." His saying aptly sums up the life-work of Cavour. The great "architect" of United Italy was a singular compound of daring with astuteness; of Machiavellian realism with Liberal idealism; of hot passions with an almost inhuman coldness of intellect. Behind all these qualities, fusing them into a living and sparkling entity, lay the animating and dominating trait in Cavour's many-sided character--patriotism. "It belongs to great men"--runs the old French proverb--" to have great defects"; and it would be idle to pretend that Cavour was any exception to this rule. Alike in his private and public life there is much that the moralist is constrained to condemn. When, however, all has been said that can be said in the way of derogation, an unassailable quality in the man remains: his transcendent ability.

Although he died nearly seventy years ago, Cavour has had long to wait for his biographer. From time to time biographies have been published in different languages, and of very varying degrees of merit. With one exception, and that a work written primarily for the scholar and professional . . .

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