Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891. Vols. VIVIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 18351860
Cavour the Statesman
By Vincenzo Botta (18181894)
[Born in Cavaller Maggiore, Piedmont, Italy, 1818. Died, New York, N. Y., 1894. Discourse delivered before the New York Historical Society. 1862.]
IN person Cavour was below the medium height; his figure was strongly built; his brow massive and intellectual; his eyes were clear and penetrating; and over his firmly set mouth a smile half ironical and half humorous habitually played. His whole face indicated the strength, the sensibility, and vivacity of his character, and faithfully reflected all his emotions; in which respect alone he was no diplomatist. Indeed, his unconscious outward manifestations of pleasure or dissatisfaction were so marked that the state of his mind could be easily interpreted by those who watched him even as he passed along the streets .
In manners he was simple and charming; his conversation was brilliant and witty. He was genial and fond of frolic and fun, although his temper was passionate, and he was at times imperious and intolerant of opposition even from his best friends. But this was evanescent; and, either wrong or right, with his equals or subordinates, with friends or foes, he was always the first to seek a reconciliation whenever he had given offence. His personal prejudices and antipathies were not deeply rooted, and easily gave way, while the great power of satire which he possessed he freely used as a weapon, not as a vehicle of ill-nature. He was accessible to the humblest citizen. He was kind, generous, and tender-hearted, and delighted in acts of benevolence, many of which he performed in secret. Firm in the consciousness of right, he was superior to flattery or censure; and although, as the moral dictator of the nation, he generally chose for his subordinates men of mediocrity, laborious and submissive, rather than those who were remarkable for genius or personal independence, he appreciated talent and patriotism even in his adversaries, whom he often intrusted with important offices .
The grandeur of Cavours character as a statesman must be estimated by the magnitude of his object, the boldness and the prudence with which he executed his designs, and the extraordinary power which he possessed of foreseeing results and of converting obstacles into means. He combined the originality and depth of a theorist with the practical genius of a true reformer; he understood the character of the age in which he lived, and made it tributary to his great purposes. He made self-government the object of legislation, political economy the source of liberty, and liberty the basis of nationality. Aware that neither revolution nor conservatism alone could produce the regeneration of his country, he opposed them in their separate action, while he grasped them both with a firm hand, yoked them together, and led them on to conquest. He saw that Italian independence could only be attained through the aid of foreign alliance; he recognized in Napoleon III. the personification of organized revolution, and the natural ally of the Italian people; and the work, which he foreshadowed in the union of the Sardinian troops with the armies of England and France in the Crimea, and for which he laid the foundation in the congress of Paris, was achieved with the victories of Magenta and Solferino, and the recognition of the new Kingdom of Italy.