The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8
Extract 3.—Garibaldi: his Character and Influence
Extract 3.—Garibaldi: his Character and Influence.
The one fault Garibaldi has is in being too guileless and pure-minded for this world. He cannot disbelieve people's good professions until their dishonesty is brought home to him by disastrous proof. There must be a want in his intellect, through which he has not yet learned this lesson; though it only adds to the perfection of his heart, for which all love him so much. A week ago he had a sad disappointment about a wholesale robbery which had been committed by a number of his Calabrian volunteers. He had just been told of it, and had dismissed them from his service, and was breaking his honourable sensitive heart over it in his own little room, where a friend of his who told us the story went to inform him that the ministry here had put aside his measures and were about to substitute others. He told him rather timidly, thinking how it would vex him, to whom they owed everything, to have his authority set at nought: but he was already so cut to the heart about his men having been thieves, that he threw himself into his friend's arms, and said, "Let all be done for the good of Italy; do not give a thought to me."
Most certainly he is not a diplomatist; if he were he would not be Garibaldi. I daresay there may be five or ten diplomatists in the world, but there is only one Garibaldi. It is just his undiplomatic character which makes him the real hero, but which also unfortunately makes him have no sympathy with, but rather a repulsion against, the secret scheming, and long-laid half-avowed trains of Cavour. It is a pity they are not friends; but the nature of the two men precludes the possibility Cavour, with his worldly wisdom, regards Garibaldi as a fool, convenient to be used as a tool at fitting times. Garibaldi wants everything to be done openly, from an avowed principle, and for an avowed end; and he believes that the right will be protected by heaven. The one is the ideal of all that worldly wisdom and talent can effect; the other the ideal of all that is morally exalted, all that makes the beauty and soul of chivalry: and they cannot walk together, any more than stars and gas-lamps—the latter being much more practically useful for page 158 showing people through the bogs and puddles of man's world; the former more powerful to raise men's hearts and thoughts to a higher tone.
I wish you could hear thoughtful men hero speak of what the conception of such a character has even already done for the degraded Neapolitans. They are a people quick of apprehension and appreciation. Try to realise the disadvantages they have had. They were never taught about Christ; and to many of them the idea of right for right's sake, and of all that is true, noble, and devoted, has dawned upon them first through Garibaldi, and already worked a kind of regeneration in their feeling? and opinions. Do not think me irreverent—I do not give this more than its true weight; I only mean that such an example and influence as his, acting upon the inner character of the units which make up the vast population of the country, appears to those who are here and observe it, not a substitute for the Christian faith, but a treasure of greater worth than any shining statesman's qualities. "We believe that it will make the people more worthy to profit by what statesmanship may secure to them now; so that each will do his work. This part of Garibaldi's work, however, is not so widely understood as his generalship. Even the fighting could not have been successful without him. If Victor Emmanuel had invaded, he would have probably found much more opposition here. It is Garibaldi who represents the moral feeling, and embodies the longings which have stirred all hearts; and this gave him the power to carry all before him.