Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

XXX
CURRENT NEWS, ITALY, &c. (1849)

AT this time Mazzini was conspicuous in all the newspapers, for Napoleon the Little had sent a French army to conquer the Roman republic and restore to power the Pope who had run away, and Mazzini was one of the three leaders of the republicans. Many are the reports of what Carlyle said in reply to questions about his friend. An entry in his journal gives the gist of them all, 17.5.49.--

' Mazzini busy at Rome resisting the French, resisting all people that attack his "Republica Romana," standing on his guard against all the world. Poor Mazzini! If he could stand there in Rome, in sight of all Italy, and practically defy the whole world for a while, and fight till Rome was ashes and ruin, and end by blowing himself and his assailants up in the last strong post, and so yielding only with life, he might rouse the whole Italian nation into such a rage as it has not known for many centuries; and this might be the means of shaking out of the Italian mind a very foul precipitate indeed. Perhaps that is really what he was worth in this world. Strange, providential-looking, and leading to many thoughts. . . . Whatsoever good we have, the Gods know it well, and will know what to make of it in due season.

' Mazzini came much about us here for many years, patronised by my wife; to me very wearisome, with his incoherent Jacobinisms, George-Sandisms, in spite of all my love and regard for him; a beautiful little man, full of sensibilities, of melodies, of clear intelligence, and noble virtues. He had found Volney, etc., in a drawer in his father's library while a boy, and had read and read, recognising a whole new promised land illuminated with suns and volcanoes. Father was a physician in Genoa. He, forced to be a lawyer, turned himself into Young Italy, and, after many sad adventures, is there. What will become of him? we ask

-92-

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