The Power that Uplifts
(August 21, 1909, On Nationalism, pp.455-459)
OF ALL the great actors who were in the forefront of the Italian Revolution, Mazzini and Cavour were the  most essential to the Italian regeneration. Of the two Mazzini was undoubtedly the greater. Cavour was the statesman and organiser, Mazzini the prophet and creator. Mazzini was busy with the great and eternal ideas which move masses of men in all countries and various ages, Cavour with the temporary needs and circumstances of modern Italy. The one was an acute brain, the other a mighty soul. Cavour belongs to Italy, Mazzini to all humanity. Cavour was the man of the hour, Mazzini is the citizen of Eternity. But the work of Mazzini could not have been immediately crowned with success if there had been no Cavour. The work of Cavour would equally have been impossible but for Mazzini. Mazzini summed up the soul of all humanity, the idea of its past and the inspiration of its future in Italian forms and gave life to the dead. At his breath the dead bones clothed themselves with flesh and the wilderness of poisonous brambles blossomed with the rose. Mazzini found Italy corrupt, demoralised, treacherous, immoral, selfish, wholly divided and incapable of union; he gave her the impulse of a mighty hope, a lofty spirituality, an intellectual impulse which despising sophistry and misleading detail went straight to the core of things and fastened on the one or two necessities, an ideal to live and die for and the strength to live and die for it. This was all he did, but it was enough. Cavour brought the old Italian statesmanship, diplomacy, practicality and placed it at the service of the great ideal of liberty and unity which Mazzini had made the overmastering passion of the millions. Yet these two deliverers and lovers of Italy never understood each other. Mazzini hated Cavour as a dishonest trickster and Machiavellian, Cavour scorned Mazzini as a fanatic and dangerous firebrand. It is easy to assign superficial and obvious causes for the undying misunderstanding and to say that the monarchist and practical statesman and the utopian and democrat were bound to misunderstand and perpetually distrust and dislike each other. But there was a deeper cause.

The one thing which Mazzini most hated and from which he strove to deliver the hearts and imaginations of the young men of Italy was what he summed up in the word Machiavellianism. The Machiavellian is the man of pure intellect without imagination who, while not intellectually dead to great objects, does not make them an ideal but regards them from the point of view of concrete interests and is prepared to use in effecting them every means which can be suggested by human cunning or put into motion by unscrupulous force. Italian patriotism previous to the advent of Mazzini was cast in this Machiavellian mould. The Carbonari movement which was Italy's first attempt to live was permeated with it. Mazzini lifted up the country from this low and ineffective level and gave it the only force which can justify the hope of revival, the force of the spirit within, the strength to disregard immediate interests and surrounding circumstances and, carried away by the passion for an ideal, trusting oneself to the impetus and increasing velocity of the force it creates, to scorn ideas of impossibility and improbability and to fling life, goods arid happiness away on the cast.of dice already clogged against one by adverse Fortune and unfavourable circumstance. The spiritual force within not only creates the future but creates the materials for the future. It is not limited to the existing materials either in their nature or in their quantity. It can trans form bad material into good material, insufficient means into abundant means. It was a deep consciousness of this great truth that gave Mazzini the strength to create modern Italy. His eyes were always fixed on the mind and heart of the nation, very little on the external or internal circumstances of Italy. He was not a statesman but he had a more than statesmanlike insight. His plan of a series of petty, local and necessarily abortive insurrections strikes the ordinary practical man as the very negation of common sense and political wisdom. It seems almost as futile as the idea of some wild brains, if indeed the idea be really cherished, that by random assassinations the freedom of this country can be vindicated. There is, however, a radical difference. Mazzini knew well what he was about. His eyes were fixed on the heart of the nation and as the physician of the Italian malady his business was not with the ultimate and perfect result but with the creation of conditions favourable to complete cure and resurgence. He knew final success was impossible without the creation of a force that could not be commanded for sometime to come. But he also knew that even that force could not succeed without a great spiritual and moral strength behind its action and informing its aspirations. It was this strength that he sought to create. The spiritual force he created by the promulgation of the mighty and uplifting ideas which pervade his writings and of which Young Italy was the organ. But moral force cannot be confirmed merely by ideas, it can only be forged and tempered in the workshop of action. And it was the habit of action, the habit of strength, daring and initiative which Mazzini sought to recreate in the torpid heart and sluggish limbs of Italy. And with it he sought to establish the sublime Roman spirit of utter self-sacrifice and self-abnegation, contempt of difficulty and apparent impossibility and iron insensibility to defeat. For his purpose the very hopelessness of the enterprises he set on foot was more favourable than more possible essays. And when others and sometimes his own heart reproached him with flinging away so many young and promising lives into the bloody trench of his petty yet impossible endeavours, the faith and wisdom in him upheld him in the face of every discouragement. Because he had that superhuman strength, he was permitted to uplift Italy. Had it been God's purpose that Italy should become swiftly one of the greater European powers, he would have been permitted to free her also. He would have done it in a different way from Cavour's, after a much longer lapse of time, with a much more terrible and bloody expense of human life but without purchasing Italy's freedom in the French market by the bribe of Savoy and Nice and with such a divine output of spiritual and moral force as would have sustained his country for centuries and fulfilled his grandiose dream of an Italy spiritually, intellectually and politically leading Europe.

The work was given to Cavour precisely because he was a lesser man. Mazzini saw in him the revival of Machiavellianism and the frustration of his own moral work. He was wrong, but not wholly wrong. The temper and methods of Cavour were predominatingly Machiavellian. He resumed that element in Italian character and gave it a triumphant expression. Like the Carbonari he weighed forces, gave a high place to concrete material interests, attempted great but not impossible objects and by means which were bold but not heroic, used diplomacy, temporising and shuffling with a force of which they were incapable and unlike them did not shrink from material sacrifices. He succeeded where they failed, not merely because he was a great statesman, but because he had learnt to cherish the unity and freedom of Italy not as mere national interests but as engrossing ideals. The passion greater than a man's love for child and wife which he put into these aspirations and the emotional fervour with which he invested his Liberal ideal of a free Church in a free State, measure the spiritual gulf between himself and the purely Machiavellian Carbonari. It was this that gave him the force to attempt greatly and to cast all on the hazard of a single die. He had therefore the inspiration of a part of the Mazzinian gospel and he used the force which Mazzini created. Without it he would have been helpless. It was not Cavour who saved Italy, it was the force of resurgent Italy working through Cavour. History often misrepresents and it formerly represented the later part of the Revolution as entirely engineered by his state-craft, but it is now recognised that more than once in the greatest matters Cavour planned one way and the great Artificer of nations planned in another. But Cavour had the greatest gift of a states man, to recognise that events were wiser than himself and throwing aside his attachment to the success of his own schemes to see and use the advantages of a situation he had not foreseen. This gift Mazzini, the fanatic and doctrinaire, almost entirely lacked. Still the success of Cavour prolonged in the Italian character and political action some of the lower qualities of the long enslaved nation and is responsible for the reverses, retardations, and deep-seated maladies which keep back Italy from the fulfilment of her greatness. Mazzini, with his superior diagnosis of the national disease and his surgeon's pitilessness, would have probed deeper, intensified and prolonged the agony but made a radical cure.

The circumstances in India forbid the use of the same means as the Italians used. But the general psychological laws which govern nations in their rise, greatness, decline and resurgence are always the same. The freedom we seek in India may be different in its circumstances from Italian freedom, the means to be used are certainly different, but the principle is the same. The old patriotism of the nineteenth century in India was petty, unscrupulous, weak, full of insincerities, concealment, shufflings, concerned with small material interests, not with great ideals, though not averse to looking intellectually and from far-off at great objects. It had neither inspiration nor truth nor statesmanship. Nationalism has done part of the work of a Mazzini by awakening a great spiritual force in the country and giving the new generation great ideals, a wide horizon of hope 'and aspiration, an intense faith and energy. It has sought like Mazzini to raise up the moral condition of the nation to the height of love, strength, self-sacrifice, constancy under defeat, unwearied and undaunted perseverance, the habit of individual and organised action, self-reliance and indomitable enterprise; but it has rejected the old methods of insurrectionary violence and replaced them by self-help and passive resistance. That work is not yet complete and only when it is complete will it be possible for a strength to be generated in the country which the past represented by the bureaucracy will consent to recognise as the representative of the future and to abdicate in its favour by a gradual cessation of powers. It is our hope that as the work has begun, so it will continue in the spirit of Nationalism and not only the political circumstances of India be changed but her deeper disease be cured and by a full evocation of her immense stores of moral and spiritual strength that be accomplished for India which Mazzini could not accomplish for Italy, to place her in the head and forefront of the new world whose birth-throes are now beginning to convulse the Earth.