Matthew, May-November 1862
(MS100/2/bundle703/1, pdf image)
This letter proposes that a day be set apart at the 1862 Great Exhibition to support Italian Independence and to thank the French Emperor Napoleon III and the French People for their positive role. It is written in the style of an article to be submitted to a newspaper, but I have not yet come across it in my searches of the British Newspaper Archive. This copy comes from a bundle held at the Perth & Kinross Council Archive, along with other letters from Matthew to Lord Kinnaird, which suggests that it might have been sent by Matthew to Kinnaird for his comment prior to publication (given Kinnaird’s own support for Italian Independence – see Matthew Family Records > Kinnaird Letters > Matthew (1860-06-15)).
The reference to the Great Exhibition (which ran from May to November 1862), and to Garibaldi (who came out of retirement to lead the o Roma o Morte campaign in June 1862), places the date of this article somewhere between May and November 1862, or perhaps slightly before. The article is remarkable for its pro-French and anti-Teutonic stance, in marked contrast to Matthew’s later stance on the Schleswig-Holstein question and the Franco-Prussian War. It also has some wonderful Matthew touches. He is sure there would be “unanimous” feeling for Italian Independence, which would greatly enliven the “dull Exhibition”. Note also the reference to all organic life being “the creature of circumstances”. And note his Spanish reference, drawn no doubt from his own time there (see Matthew Family Records > Breadalbane Letters > Matthew (1841-11-22)).
Good Works versus Good Words
Italian unity & independence
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
At the Great Exhibition it might be well to set a day apart for the assembled people to express their sentiments regarding Italian Independence & give a vote of thanks by acclamation to the French Emperor & French People for their useful exertions in the cause of national liberty. Perhaps Lord Palmerston who has expressed himself so favourable to Italian Independence should be asked to preside. A meeting to make arrangements in regard to this should immediately take place so that the collected people from the different quarters of the world may have opportunity to express their unanimous feeling in favour of Italian Independence & sign an address of thanks to the French Emperor & Army.
It is not improbable that the Committee of management may object to mix politics with such an Exhibition as a breach of propriety. But so great an object as the liberation of Italy & the piece of the South of Europe ought to have precedence as opposed to mere proprieties. A demonstration of the sense of the People of Europe regarding this very important question thus obtained would have much effect. It would also throw an enlivening spirit – a feeling of enthusiasm over the dull Exhibition & great assemblage now in London, in which even the Germans would partake. Besides is not Italy the land of the fine arts, thus meriting the countenance of the Exhibition, & the accomplishment of Italian Independence would do more to forward art & science many times over than all the London exhibition can of itself effect, great tho’ that may be? The Unity & Independence of Italy is the most important question of the present age, next to the colonization of the waste portions of the Earth by Britain, & in regards to human progress is even more so than the abolition of negro slavery in the quarrelling United States, inasmuch as the liberty of 24 millions of white men exceeds that of 4 millions of Blacks. For so important an object the Exhibition Committee ought to stretch a point of etiquette, & every honest mind will applaud.
The struggles between Germany & France during several centuries for preponderance in Italy – to tyrannize over divided Italy, has cost many millions of men & been an incubus upon progress in the South of Europe. Is this to be continued by the lukewarmness of the British aristocracy & British Government (not by that of the British People)? While by boldly taking up the cause of Italy, they would place affairs in the South of Europe on a secure basis & procure a valuable ally. It would seem that the British Government, jealous of the success of French Good Works, & finding it not very convenient to rival them in such, were trying – were experimenting – were trusting to succeed with Good Words! Will Good Words put a stop to alien despot thrall? As well try with them to stop a Vesuvian Eruption! Why do our Government not publish a manifesto of their doings in Italy, entitled Good Words, stating what they have effected with Good Words, & like the celebrated Editor of a publication of that Title emblazon their name on every page?
It is a despicable person who sees his fellow man injured, trampled upon & who does not lend an active hand to protect. What is right, what is our duty towards the individual is equally our duty towards the community, that is provided the community is of a character able to benefit by our assistance. Man, organic life is, so far at least, the creature of circumstances, & the assistance of a friendly neighbour comes an influencing circumstance of the greatest importance to a people – a Race of the highest intellect, tho’ for time, under a combination of circumstances of depression, fallen under the yoke of the Teuton, & now so bravely & wisely attempting to free themselves from alien thrall.
In Spain it is a common reply of the pious to one perishing perhaps of hunger, ve te con Dios. Say that trusting to such mockery – such generosity of Good Words Garibaldi, the noblest man of the age, were like Wallace to perish & the liberty of his country unaccomplished, would all their Good Words save our Government from ignominy,– of having their Good Words unaccompanied by Good Works been the cause of his death – of having the power to save & not exerting that power. How would our nobler British workingmen submit to this – the loss of the Hero of their Ideal?– Honor, Expediency, duty, call upon our Government to help Italy with Good Works without delay, if Good Words do not immediately succeed.
P.S. The following address of thanks to the French Emperor & Army might perhaps meet the general feeling.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Address of the British Nation & of the Various Peoples assembled at the London Exhibition.
To the Emperor of the French & the French Army
Allies & Friends,
Accept expression of our heartfelt gratitude & thanks for your glorious efforts in the liberation of Italy – so far successful. The time is now come for the purchase of Venice & the restoration of Rome, retained by France as a balance till Venice is recovered from Austria. May we hope that France & Britain will join in aiding Italy to accomplish this, so that from the alps to the ocean Italy may be free – that political, industrial & religious liberty, that security to life & property, that Improvement may prevail over all.
With sentiments of kindness & high regard,
We are &c.
Page created: 10 February 2019
Last modified: 10 February 2019