Giuseppe Bandi, “Description of Garibaldi,” 1903
Giuseppe Bandi was a follower of Garibaldi and was among those who went with him to Sicily in 1860. Bandi offered this description of his hero in a 1903 account of the exploits of Garibaldi’s volunteers. The
sketch is striking for its lack of attention to Garibaldi’s political ideology. Instead, Bandi focused on Garibaldi’s personal qualities, portraying him as a messianic figure, capable of bringing the best out of men by
the shear power of his charisma. As you read the passage, consider how Garibaldi and Mazzini might have responded to it. What new strains in European nationalism does Bandi’s writing reflect?
Giuseppe Garibaldi at that time was nearer sixty than fifty years old. Those who had known him in America at the beginning of his adventurous career often told me that his character had not changed much over
the years: always calm amid the greatest dangers, disposed to benevolence, moderate in good fortune and equanimous in adversity.
Quite a few men have been blessed by nature with the gifts of energy, courage and contempt for death, which shone forth from him; but very rarely, I think, have there been soldiers so serene and with such self-
control as he. One might say, without fear of exaggeration, that the greater the danger, the more extraordinary the difficulty of the enterprise, the more clear and calm his eye became, and the more correct and
perceptive his judgment . . . he always had supreme confidence in himself and in his good fortune, and thus he was reluctant to ask advice from others, and contemptuous when advice was offered unasked.
He loved liberty and made himself her paladin; but he maintained that in the hour of danger it was necessary for all to obey the will of one individual. Some people said he had fallen in love with dictatorship when
he saw how it operated successfully in the small republics of South America; but I believe he had, as it were, dictatorship in his bones, and that he had become convinced of the need for dictatorial rule because of
the extraordinary campaigns he took up. Indeed, the major secret of his victories was his rapid, firm decision-making and the blind faith and devotion of his followers.
What often harmed Giuseppe Garibaldi was that he believed all men were honest, devoted to their country and free from any desire for personal gain; hence it often happened that if he heard accusations against
someone who had wormed his way into his affections he would become indignant at what seemed to him malevolent slander, and his esteem for the accused would grow rather than diminish. And so he suffered
much disillusionment, but he never learned to repent of his excessive trust, nor to recognise low cunning when he came across it . . . he had no idea of the value of money, nor could he ever understand why most
people prize it. He was very willing to forgive those who had offended him, but he was pitiless against the men who had ceded his native Nice to France. And every time he spoke of his native land, detached from
Italy and handed over to the French Empire, he could not restrain his tears. . . .
No man can say he ever saw Giuseppe Garibaldi constrain his soldiers to obedience with threats or force; no man ever heard his voice raised in anger, except when he seemed to imitate the trumpet as he urged us
on to attack. His universal reputation for justice, honesty and goodness formed a halo around his lion’s head; the flash of his eyes or the sound of his voice, always calm and solemn, were enough to make the
proud become obedient, the undisciplined become tame, the cowardly become brave. The man was so serene, so simple in his manners, his dress and habits; he had something so majestic, enchanting and
attractive about him, that just to hear his voice you trembled and could not help loving him, and you would rush joyfully to face death under his gaze, as if it were a fine, divine thing to die observed and approved
by such a man.
Source: Martin Clark, The Italian Risorgimento, 2d ed. (London: Pearson, 2009), pp. 117–118. © Pearson Education Limited 2009. Reproduced by permission of Taylor & Francis Books UK.
Questions to Consider
In Bandi’s view, what made Garibaldi great?
Given Bandi’s commitment to the republican Garibaldi during the struggle for unification, how would you explain his evident attraction in 1903 to the idea of dictatorship?
Giuseppe Mazzini, “Letter to Emilie Venturi,” May 2, 1870
Mazzini was disappointed in the new Italy, but this disappointment did not dull his ideological commitment to universal progress. In this 1870 letter to Emilie Venturi, the English wife of an Italian nationalist,
Mazzini voiced his unqualified support for Venturi’s efforts to advance the cause of women’s rights. Not content to merely confirm his agreement with Venturi, Mazzini placed women’s rights in the larger context
of the struggle for universal human rights. As you read the letter, think about Mazzini’s argument. Why did he support women’s rights? What light does his position on women’s rights shed on his understanding of
the meaning and importance of Italian nationalism?
My Dear Friend,
Can you doubt me? Can you doubt my watching from afar with an eager eye and a blessing soul the efforts of brave and earnest British women struggling for the extension of the Suffrage to their sex, or for the
repeal of the Contagious Diseases Act, which is only an incident in the general question — Equality between Man and Woman — sacred for any sensible, logical, and fearless man who fights for any question
involving Equality, to whatever class or section of mankind it applies? Could I ever feel safe in my right and duty to struggle for Equality between the working-man and the so-called Upper Classes of my own
country, if I did not deeply and warmly believe in your right and duty? Is your question less sacred than that of the Abolition of Slavery in America, or of serfdom elsewhere? Ought it not to be even more sacred to
us when we think of our mothers and remember that the most important period — the first period — of our education is entrusted to you?
Are not all questions of Equality groundless — a mere selfish rebellion — unless they derive their legitimacy from a single, general, all-embracing principle — the oneness of mankind — the basis, the soul of your
Religion? Do not those who deny the righteousness of your claims bow to the words of St. John: “That they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me: and that they may be made perfect in one”;
and before those of St. Paul: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus”?
These words, they say, apply to heaven. Don’t they know that what is decreed in heaven must and will have to be fulfilled on earth?
Yes, we are all the children of God, free and equal in Him, and it is high time, after eighteen hundred and seventy years since the word was spoken, and whilst new religious truths are already dawning on the
horizon, for its being practically understood and applied in its direct consequences to human life and society.
One God, one Life, one Law of Life: this is, or ought to be, our common belief; and wherever the stamp of Humanity is on a created being, there we find Freewill, Educability, tendency to Association, capability
of indefinite progression, a source of the same general principle to legislation in all branches of human activity.
No question ought to be solved without our asking ourselves: How far does the proposed solution minister to Moral Education? And is not the feeling of self-dignity, the deep conviction of a task to be fulfilled
here down (below) for our own improvement and that of our fellow-creatures, the initiatory step to all education? Must it not start by repeating to those we want to educate the words you quoted: you are a human
being; nothing that concerns mankind is alien to you? Crush in man the innate sense of self-respect, you decree the helot [serf]. Sanction to any amount moral inequality, you create rebellion with all its evils — or
indifference, hypocrisy, frivolity, and corruption. Punish the sinner, leaving the accomplice untouched, you suppress, by fostering in the punished one a sense of being unjustly dealt with, all the good and the
educational that there is in punishment. Claim the right of legislating for one class without that class being heard and somehow sharing in your work, you cancel at once the sacredness of the Law, and instil hatred
or contempt in the excluded class.
In these simple, and to me obvious, principles, lies the justice of your claim concerning either the Suffrage or the minor point about which you are now agitating.
And in these, if you do not forsake or neglect them, you will conquer. Your cause is a religious one; don’t narrow it down to what is called a right or an interest. Let duty be your ground. Children of God as we are,
you have a task to perform towards the progressive discovery and the progressive fulfillment of His Law. You cannot abdicate that task without sinning to God who appointed it, and gave you faculties and
powers for its accomplishment; and you cannot fulfil the task without liberty, which is the source of responsibility. Your claim is the claim of the working-man — of Nations cancelled, like Poland, by brutal force
from Europe’s map; of races dismembered, like the Slavonian, between foreign masters and doomed to silence. Like them all, you want to bring to the common work a new element of life and progress; you feel
you have something to speak, legally and officially, towards the great problems which stir and torture the soul of mankind. There is your real ground for being heard, there your strength. Keep on that ground
firmly, and do not allow expediency, unconscious selfism, or a fragmentary view of the struggle to lure you away from it.
There is a holy crusade going on through the world for Justice, Freedom, and Truth, against Lies and Tyranny. You are — battalion-like — fighting in it. Feel it and act accordingly. Sympathise with all who suffer
and bleed, and you will be sympathised with; help, and you will be helped. There is no right unless a duty has been fulfilled; and the emancipation of the working-class is now at hand, because the working-man
has, thank God, through the last half-century shown himself ready to any amount of sacrifice for any noble cause summoning the efforts of the good and brave.
Source: Alice de Rozen Jervis, trans., Manzzini’s Letters (London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1930), pp. 201–204.
Questions to Consider
What other struggles did Mazzini link to the fight for women’s rights? What political advice did he offer Venturi?
How did Mazzini’s religious faith inform his position? Why did he believe that it was his duty as a Christian to promote social justice?
Giorgio Asproni on the Death of Cavour, 1860
Count Camillo Benso di Cavour (1810–1861), the architect of Italian unification, was no friend of revolution. While committed to liberal economic policies, secularization of public life, and civil liberties, Cavour
was also determined that Italy should be a constitutional monarchy. For Cavour, monarchy was the “strength and glory” of Italy, and his paramount goal as he pushed for Italian unification was that his king,
Victor Emmanuel II of Piedmont, should lead the new nation. Given this, it is not surprising that more radical Italian nationalists tended to see Cavour as a traitor to their cause. In this diary entry, a Sardinian
official, Giorgio Asproni, reacted to what would prove to be a false rumor that Cavour had died. As you read it, think about the sources of Asproni’s antipathy to Cavour. How did Cavour’s Italy differ from the
one Asproni had hoped to see created?
It is cowardice to rejoice at the fate that awaits all mortals, and for my part I am indifferent to the loss of this statesman. His death, however, is providential for Italy. It will be extremely difficult, I should say
impossible, for the moderate party to find anyone with the same combination of qualities to succeed him. He was from an aristocratic family, very rich, versatile, full of imagination, cunning and practised in the
affairs of this world, quite unscrupulous, with no moral restraint, relaxed and courteous in his manner, but greedy and insatiable when it came to money or power. Wide-ranging in ideas, incomparable in intrigue,
quick to grasp the point, blindly stubborn in his anger, he was determined to take any step, however dangerous, to defeat his opponents and maintain himself in office. He was lavish with banquets, jobs,
decorations, handshakes, kind words, and secret service funds; he corrupted the electorate and the press, deceived public opinion and for ten years was complete master of the country. He has died now that his
star looked like waning, and quite certainly he would have fallen in less than a year, but God knows what new evils he would have brought about in that period of omnipotence. He was small in stature, with a
round face rather like Napoleon’s, and reddish-white in complexion; fair hair, almost red, turning half-white in recent years; very large head, wide forehead, lively blue eyes, firm regular nose; his hair was becoming
thinner and he was becoming half-bald. When he was still hoping to win me over politically, he was friendly and promised all kinds of good things for Sardinia. Once he found that I was firm in my principles, that
I could be neither bought nor threatened and that my needs were few, he opposed me obstinately. He treated Sardinia as badly as he possible could, and made a secret commitment to Louis Napoleon to cede it to
France. Now he is no more; but the consequences of his stubborn war against revolution, which alone can bring independence, greatness and liberty to Italy, live on. The priests will say that he was struck down by
the hand of God; perhaps they poisoned him. I say that he was a fortunate man both in life and in death, for a sudden end to life is a truly enviable stroke of good luck.
Source: Martin Clark, The Italian Risorgimento, 2d ed. (London: Pearson, 2009), pp. 122–123. © Pearson Education Limited 2009. Reproduced by permission of Taylor & Francis Books UK.
Questions to Consider
What crimes and abuses did Asproni claim Cavour committed?
In your opinion, is Asproni’s description of Cavour fair? Why or why not?
The First Meeting Between Mazzini and Garibaldi, ca. 1870
The decades-long struggle for Italian unification brought together a number of different strands of nineteenth-century nationalism. While Cavour’s vision of constitutional monarchy and economic liberalism would
eventually win out, the radical republicanism of Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi, steeped in romantic nationalism, played a crucial role in the process. Mazzini and Garibaldi fired the public imagination
with the idea of Italian cultural unity, of the unique role the Italian people could play in world events if they would put aside their differences and concentrate on their shared history, culture, and traditions. In this
image, created after unification had been achieved, we see Mazzini (at right) and Garibaldi (at left) meeting for the very first time in Marseille, France, in 1833. As you examine the image, focus on the details. At
what is Mazzini pointing? What should we make of the crumpled papers on the floor?
(The first meeting between Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi in Marseille in summer 1833/De Agostini Picture Library/G. Dagli Orti/Bridgeman Images)
Questions to Consider
⦁ What does the image suggest about the relationship between Mazzini and Garibaldi?
⦁ What symbolic importance should we attach to the papers on the floor and the bust on the wall? What do they suggest about Mazzini’s role in the process of Italian unification?
What kind of Italy did Garibaldi and Mazzini imagine? How did the Italy hoped for differ from the Italy that was actually created in the 1850s and 1860s? You may find it helpful to review the section “Nation
Building in Italy, Germany, and Russia” in Chapter 24 of your textbook before you begin.