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The Liberation of Italy

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The Liberation of Italy
The unity of Italy, which the statesmen of Europe and all save a small
number of the Italians themselves still regarded as an utopia when it
was on the verge of accomplishment, was, nevertheless, desired and
foreseen by the two greatest intellects produced by the Italian race.
Dante conceived an Italy united under the Empire, which returning from
a shameful because self-imposed exile would assume its natural seat in
Rome. To him it was a point of secondary interest that the Imperial
Lord happened to be bred beyond the Alps, that he was of Teutonic, not
of Latin blood. If the Emperor brought the talisman of his authority
to the banks of the Tiber, Italy would overcome the factions which
rent her, and would not only rule herself, but lead mankind. Vast as
the vision was, Dante cannot be called presumptuous for having
entertained it. The Rome of the Caesars, the Rome of the Popes, had
each transformed the world: Italy was transforming it for a third time
at that moment by the spiritual awakening which, beginning with the
Renaissance, led by inevitable steps to the Reformation. The great
Florentine poet had the right to dream that his country was invested
with a providential mission, that his people was a chosen people,
which, by its own fault and by the fault of others, had lost its way,
but would find it again. Such was Dante's so-called Ghibelline
programme--less Ghibelline than intensely and magnificently Italian.
His was a mind too mighty to be caged within the limits of partisan
ambitions. The same may be said of Machiavelli. He also imagined, or
rather discerned in the future, a regenerate Italy under a single
head, and this, not the advancement of any particular man, was the
grand event he endeavoured to hasten.

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