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MR GLADSTONE ON ITALY.

THE OUI'COME OF THE G.O.M.'S

HOLIDAY

[Fko.m Our; London Coiikkkpondent. |

London, May 2,

| The "enthused" Radical who recently observed that the Grand Old Man's holidays were better spent than most folk's working days was not. I'm inclined to think, far wrong. Mr Gladstone does everything thoroughly, even holiday - making. But then his ideas of holiday-making, like his ideas on most subjects, are original. Ostensibly tho overworked politician went to Italy last winter for rest, pleasure, and privacy, Practically he must have been busy all the time accumulating materials for an interesting article on that country, which adorns the new number of the ' Nineteenth Century.' " For minds so active as Mr Gladstone's'' (explains the 'Daily News 'in a notice of the G.O.M.'s chief contentions in the 'Review') "a change of employment is the onlv kind of relaxation which outlasts lasts the'brief physical recovery from prolonged strain. Eyes like his observe most things, and everything which they observe points a moral, or suggests an inference. _lt so happens that during the thirty-nine years which had elapsed since Mr Gladstone's last visit to Naples that city in particular, and Italy in general, underwent great and momentous changes. In 1830 there was a Kiug of the Two Sicilies, whoso iniquities Mr Gladstone exposed to the Eng ish Government and to the civilised world. In 1889 there is a ' kingly commonwealth ' of Italy, whose solid and substantial merits Mr Gladstone, not without some friendly criticism, expounds with force and lucidity for the benetit of tho cosmopolitan public he addresses. The Nea politaus have, as Mr Gladstone puts it, ' a free Press, free speech, free worship, and freedom of person, with every sign of a vigorous municipal life, replacing the stagnant uniformity of a despotism both local and central.' They have also a fairly healthy town—a town which seems to have made larger strides insanitary improvement during the last forty years than during the century and a half which preceded them. Among the many systems of this wonderful progress which are mentioned by Mr Gladstone, he omits, probably from plethora of matter, the development of market gardening for many miles on every side of Naples. ... To the marvellous changes which he does desctibe Mr Gladstone assigns what, in spite of Mrßuskin, experience suggests and history confirms as the true cause. 'ls it too much to say,' ho asks, ' that all this remarkiblo development in so many directions affords an unanswerable proof of the energies which thrive, as in their native atmosphore and soil, under a system of freedom and self-government?' Prom Naples Mr Gladstone soob passes to Italy, in whose present condition and future prospects he is deeply concerned. Englishmen, without distinction of party, rejoice in the unity and independence of Italy. A country with such a past can never be indifferent to educated mankind. A people so capable of cohesion and self-government must excite sympathy in the homo of political freedom. The peculiar friendship between the two countries, which dates from the dawn of Italian freedom, in largely duo to the beneficent action of Mr Gladstone himself, and has been, so far as tho now policy of secrecy allows us to learn, diligently fostered by Lord Salisbury. The task so rapidly, and in most respects successfully, achieved was ono of great and peculiar difficulty. A comparison of Sar- j dinia. in 1860 with Prussia in 1870 is enough to show how infinitely harder was the task of Cavour than the task of Bismarck. Even now the unity of Italy is not altogether complete, as may be illustrated by the fact that Uiere are still live independent Courts of final appeal in King Humbert's dominions. But in spite of this constitutional flaw, in spito of some mutual jealousy between tho great Italian towns, and tho want of an Italian ae distinguished from a Roman, or Milanese Press, Mctternieh's 'geographical expression' is a very formidable entity indeed. ' Upon the whole,' observes Mr Gladstone, 'I take it to be a solid and established fact that the unity, nationality, and independence of Italy are not the mere upthrow of a political movement, which some following convulsion may displace, but are the long-prepared and definite results of causes permauent in their nature.' No Government is really strong which cannot afford to tolerate not only liberty, but license of attack in the form of speech and writing. That such license is permitted in Italy, Mr Gladstone shows by an amusing incident which happened to himself. He had been reading a book by Dr Antcnori on certain alleged abuses in the administration of the law. In returning tnanks to the Prefect for his courtesy before leaving Naples, Mr Gladstone boldly plunged into this rather delicate Eubjcct, aud ventured to express a hope that the scandals denounced by Dt Autenori would be disapproved. His reply was a telegram, received at Amalfi, which requested that the letter might be published without abridgment or modification. We have no desire to impugn the good faith of Dr Antenori, who wrote his book in ISSS. But the conclusion we should be disposed to draw from the action of the Prefect is that these judicial irregularities, if they over existed, exist no longer. Mr Gladstone treats with much tact, and at no great length, the vexed question of the Pope and tho Vatican. On this point so many unfounded opinions have been attributed to him that his words will be studied with especial interest. The conduct Of the Italian Government is sufficiently 1 vindicated, if indeed it requires vindication, iby three sentences in Mr Gladstone's article:—'Tho Government of Pius JX. yielded in 1870; but yielded only to sheer force. . . . Tho Italian Government

would have been juridically justified in expelling tho rival sovereign. But then Italy would also have been forced into contradiction with her own rules of religious liberty in expelling the Bishop of the Roman Diocese.' Victor Emmanuel was a staunch Catholic where politics weronot concerned, and so is his son. They wisely determined to let tho Pope severely alone. His Holiness having chosen to immure himeclf iu his palace, and call himself a prisoner, although he is perfectly free to come and go as he pleases, tho problem appears to bo solved. Wo are glad to find Mr Gladstone acknowledging that any claim to exercise temporal jurisdiction over that part of Rome called the Leonine City is entirely obsolete. The Vatican has no legitimate grievance, for tho conduct of the Quirinal has been perfectly irreproachable. We do not quite understand what Mr Gladstone means by his proposition that ' like the relics of Bourbonism and of despotic rulo in general, the ecclesiastical difficulty, so far as it is held to embrace ecumenical considerations, is one which it is not within tho power of Italy or her Government summarily to dispose of.' The Italian Parliament ia supremo in Italy, and might deposit the Pope 'on the hither hide of the Mount St. Gothard' whenever it pleased. It may be that ' there is in most European countries a party which maintains . . . the right of Roman Catholics, as such, to determine by what Government a portion of the Italian people shall be ruled.' In the days of good Queen Bess there was in all Catholic countries a party which maintained tho rights of Catholics, as such, to determine how the whole of tho English people should be ruled. But English liberties survived Philip of Spain, and Italian liberties will survive the Catholic Congress at Madrid, which passed a harmless and even laudable resolution to the effect that the services of the Pope as an international mediator might tend to prevent war. His efficiency in that character is promoted by the loss of his temporal power; and if tho Italians, profiting by a timely warning from the first financier of the ago, take practical steps to reduce a debt which entails a financial charge greater than our own, they may snap their fingers at the political pretensions of the church."

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890629.2.33.4

Bibliographic details

MR GLADSTONE ON ITALY., Issue 7946, 29 June 1889, Supplement

Word Count
1,333

MR GLADSTONE ON ITALY. Issue 7946, 29 June 1889, Supplement

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