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valet or a horse; his mother opposed the purchase, as she thought that
the young landlord would be tempted to spend more than he had, but to
this his father replied that if a man was not a man at twenty-five he
would be one never. The Marquis Michele Benso had recently assumed
the post of _Vicario_ of Turin, which his family thought below his
dignity, but he apparently took it to oblige the king, with whom the
_Vicario_, who was a sort of Prefect of Police, was in daily contact.
As a result, the estate of Leri, which had been neglected before, was
now going actually to ruin. Cavour, with the approval of his brother,
proposed to undertake the whole management of the property, an offer
gladly accepted, as the Marquis was well convinced that his younger
son had rather too many than too few abilities. Cavour saw in
agriculture the only field at present open to him. When he left the
army he scarcely knew a cabbage from a turnip, for he had not been
brought up in the country, but in a few years he familiarised himself
with everything connected with the subject, from the most homely
detail to wide scientific generalisations. With knowledge came
interest, which, absent at first, grew strong, and lasted all his
life. Little, he said, does the outsider know the charm of planting a
field of potatoes or rearing a young heifer! The practical experience
which Cavour gained was precious. How many cabinet ministers in
different parts of the world would lead to bankruptcy a farm, a
factory, a warehouse, even a penny tart shop! As a matter of fact,
one Italian minister of finance was legally interdicted, on the
application of his family, from managing his own estates.

Leri, which Cavour looked upon henceforth as his true home, lies in
one of the ugliest parts of the plains of Piedmont, cold in winter,
scorched by a burning sun in summer, and unhealthy from the
exhalations of the rice-fields which contribute to its wealth. Except
that game was tolerably plentiful, it had none of the attractions of
an English country-seat - the smiling hillside, the ancestral elms, the
park, the garden. Cavour led the simplest life; the old housekeeper
who cooked the dinner also placed it on the table. But the fare, if
plain, was abundant, and Cavour was delighted to entertain his friends
and neighbours, who found him the most affable of hosts, inexhaustibly
good-tempered, a patient listener, a talker abounding in wit and
wisdom. He had the art of adapting himself perfectly to the society in
which he moved, but in one thing he was always the same: wherever he
went he carried his intense vitality - that quality of _entrain_ which
persuades more than eloquence or earnestness. He induced others to
join him in experiments which were then innovations: steam-mills,
factories for artificial manures and the like, while the machinery and
new methods introduced at Leri revolutionised farming in Piedmont. One
great scheme planned by him, an irrigatory canal between the Ticino
and the Po, was only finished after his death, as the most worthy
tribute to his memory. He rose at four, went to see his cattle, stood
in the broiling harvest fields to overlook the reapers, acted, in
short, as his own bailiff, and to these habits he returned in later
years, whenever he had time to visit Leri. Cavour's mind was not
poetic; we hear of his admiring only one poet, Shakespeare, but in
Shakespeare it was probably the deep knowledge of man that attracted
him, the apprehension of how men with given passions must act under
given conditions. He did not, therefore, see country pursuits from a
poet's standpoint, but he appreciated their power of calming men's
minds, of dissipating the fog of unrealities, of tending towards what
Kant called, in a phrase he quoted with approval, "practical reason."
He considered, also, that nothing can so assure the stability of a
nation as an intelligent interest shared by a large portion of its
citizens in the cultivation of the soil. The English country gentleman
who divided his time between his duties in Parliament and those not
less obligatory on his estates was in Cavour's eyes an almost ideal
personage. It should be added that Cavour could not understand a
country life which did not embrace solicitude for the worker. The true
agriculturist gained the confidence of the poor around him; it was, he
said, so easy to gain it. He was kindly, thoughtful, and just in his
treatment of his dependents, and he always retained his hold on their
affections; when Italy was asking what she should do without her great
statesman, the sorrowing peasants of Leri asked in tears what they
should do without their master?

One passage in Cavour's early life was revealed a few years ago, and,
whether or not it was right to reveal it, the portrait would be now
incomplete which did not touch upon it. The episode belongs to the
critical psychological moment in his development: the time immediately
after he left the army, and before he found an outlet for his
activity, and, what was more essential to him, a purpose and an object
not in the distance but straight before him, in the care of his
father's acres. His position at home was not happy; his brother's
small children were of more importance in the household than himself,
and when Cavour once administered a well-merited correction to the
much-spoilt eldest born, the Marquis Gustave threw a chair at his
head. Between the brothers in after life there prevailed remarkable
and unbroken harmony, but it is easy to see that when first grown to
manhood Gustave presumed rather selfishly on his _rôle_ of heir,
while Camille took too seriously the supposed discovery that he was
"necessary to no one!" Beyond all this, there was the undeclared clash
of the new with the old, the feeling of having moved apart, which
produces a moral vacuum until, by and by, it is realised that the
value of the first affections and ties depends precisely on their
resting on no basis of opinion. Cavour was overwhelmed by a sense of
isolation; if he decided "like Hamlet" (so he writes in his diary) to
abstain from suicide, he believed that he wished himself heartily out
of the world. To his family he seemed an abnormal and unnatural young
man. A conversation is on record which took place between the two
childless aunts who lived with the Cavours. The date was just before
Cavour's departure on a first visit to Paris. "Did you remark," said
Mme. Victoire, "how indifferent Camille seemed when I spoke to him of
the Paris theatres? I really do not know what will interest him on his
travels; the poor boy is entirely absorbed in revolutions." "It is
quite true," replied Mme. Henriette; "Camille has no curiosity about
things, he cares for nothing but politics." And the two ladies went on
to draw melancholy prognostics from their nephew's study of political
economy, "an erroneous and absolutely useless science."

A charming countess who had made a favourite of Cavour in his boyhood
tried to extract a promise from him that he would never again mix
himself up in politics; he refused to give it; sooner or later, he
writes in his diary, she would have blushed for him had he consented.
But, he adds bitterly, what was the good of demanding such a promise
from one for whom politically everything was ended? "Ah! if I were an
Englishman, by this time I should be something and my name would not
be wholly unknown!" Here, again, was a source of depression. At the
Military Academy he had formed one almost romantic comradeship with
a delicate and reserved youth, some years older than himself, Baron
Severino Cassio, to whom he first confided his determination to
Italianise himself: to study the language, history, laws, customs of
the whole country with a view to preparing for the future. Cassio
presciently marked out for his friend the part of architect, not of
destroyer, in that future; architects, he said, were what was most
wanted in public affairs, and Italy had always lacked them. There is
no reason to think that Cassio's sympathy had chilled, but Cavour, in
his morbid state, thought that it was so; he imagined that what
had drawn Cassio to him "was not I, but my powerful intellectual
organisation"; and with undeserved mistrust he did not turn to him for

He was at the nadir of his dejection when he received a letter in a
well-known handwriting, that of a woman who had strongly attracted
him four years before by her beauty, grace, and elevation of mind.
Separation cut short the incipient love-affair, and Cavour never
thought of renewing it. With the woman it was otherwise; from her
first meeting with the youth of twenty to the day of her death,
absent or present, he was the object of an idolatry in which all
her faculties united: her being was penetrated by a self-sustaining
passion which could not cease till it had consumed her. De Stendhal is
the only novelist who could have drawn such a character. She was of
noble birth, and from an early age had been eminently unhappy. Cavour,
in his private papers, called her "L'Inconnue," and so she will be
remembered. Her own life-story, and whether she was free to give her
heart where she would, the world does not and need not know; on the
last point it is enough to say that Cavour's father and mother were
aware of his relations with her and saw in them nothing reprehensible.

On a page meant for no eyes but his own, Cavour describes the
excitement into which he was thrown by the brief letter which
announced that the Unknown had arrived at Turin and that she wished
to see him. He hastened back to town and sought her at her hotel, and
then at the opera where she had gone. After looking all round the
house, he recognised her in a box - the sixth to the left on the first
row - dressed in deep mourning and showing on her face such evident
marks of suffering that he was at once filled with remorse "and
intoxicated by a love so pure, so constant, and so disinterested."
Never would he forsake this divine woman again!

For a moment he thought of flight to distant shores, but he soon
decided that "imperative duties required that she should remain where
she was." Their intercourse chiefly consisted of letters; his do not
seem to exist, hers were found after his death carefully preserved and
numbered. In these letters she laid bare her innermost soul; she was
ardently patriotic, steeped in the ideas of Mazzini, and far more
Italian than Piedmontese, though she wrote in French. She knew
English, and Cavour advised her to read Shakespeare. Remarkably
gifted, she had the deep humility of many of the best Italian women;
"What have I done, O Camille," she asks, "to meet a soul like
yours!... To have known you for an instant fills a long existence; how
can you love me, weak as I am?" She had an astonishing instinct of his
future greatness: "Full of force, life, talent, called, perhaps to
make a brilliant career, to contribute to the general good," such
expressions as these occur frequently in her letters. The romance
ended as it could not help ending. The "eternal vows" were kept for a
year and a few months; then on Cavour's side a love which, though he
did not guess it, had only been a reflection, faded into compassionate
interest. The _Inconnue_ uttered no reproaches; after a few unhappy
years she died, leaving a last letter to her inconstant lover. "The
woman who loved you is dead ... no one ever loved you as she did, no
one! For, O Camille, you never fathomed the extent of her love." With
a broken-hearted pride she declared that "in the domain of death she
surpassed all rivals." It remained true; if Cavour was not, strictly
speaking, more faithful to the _Inconnue's_ memory than he had been to
her while she lived, yet this was the only real love-passage in his
life. Fatal to her, it was fortunate to him. It found him in despair
and it left him self-reliant and matured. The love of such a woman was
a liberal education.



During the fifteen years which he devoted to agriculture, Cavour made
several long and important visits to France and England. In this way
he enlarged his experience, while keeping aloof from the governing
class in his own country, connection with which could, in his opinion,
only bring loss of reputation and effacement in the better days that
were to come. Cavour knew himself to be ambitious, but he had the
self-control never even to contemplate the purchase of what then
passed for power by the sacrifice of his principles. "My principles,"
he once wrote, "are a part of myself." The best way "to prepare for
the honourable offices of the future" was to keep his independence
intact, and to study abroad the working of the institutions which he
wished to see introduced at home. Through his French relations, he
took his place immediately in the best society of the capital of the
citizen king, under whose reign, sordid as it was in some respects,
Paris attained an intellectual brilliancy the like of which was never
equalled in the spectacular glare of the second empire. It was the
moment of a short-lived renaissance; literature, art, science, seemed
to be starting on new voyages of discovery. New worlds were opened up
for conquest; oriental studies for the first time became popular, the
great field of unwritten traditions surrendered its virgin soil. Above
all, it was a time of fermentation in moral ideas; every one expected
the millennium, though there was a lack of agreement as to what it
would consist in. Every one, like Lamennais in Béranger's poem, was
going "to save the world." The Good, the True, the Beautiful, were
about to dislodge the Bad, the False, the Ugly. If all these high
hopes had some fruition in the region of thought, they had none in the
region of facts, but meanwhile they lent a rare charm to Paris in the
Thirties. Cavour speaks of elasticity as the ruling quality of French
society; he praises the admirable union of science and wit, depth and
amiability, substance and form, to be found in certain Parisian salons
and nowhere else. He was thinking especially of the salon of Mme. de
Circourt, who became his friend through life. For no one else had he
quite the same unchanging regard. Attracted as he always was by the
conquest of difficulties, he admired the force of mind and will by
which this Russian lady, whom a terrible accident had made a hopeless
invalid, overcame disabilities that would have reduced most people to
a state of living death. In her, spirit annihilated matter. She joined
French vivacity to the penetrating sensibility of the Sclavonic races,
and she was a keen reader of character. Cavour interested her at once.
Even in his exterior, the young Italian, with blond hair and blue
eyes, was then more attractive than those who only knew the Cavour of
later years could easily believe; while his gay and winning manners,
combined with a fund of information on subjects not usually popular
with the young, could not but strike so discerning a judge as the
Countess de Circourt as indicating not a common personality. She
feared lest so much talent and promise would be suffocated for ever in
the stifling air of a small despotism. Cavour himself drew a miserable
picture of his country: science and intelligence were reputed
"infernal things by those who are obliging enough to govern us"; a
triumphant bigotry trembled alike at railways and Rosmini; Cavour's
aunt, the Duchess de Clermont Tonnerre, only got permission to receive
the _Journal des Débats_ after long negotiations between the French
minister at Turin and the Sardinian government. No wonder if Mme. de
Circourt impulsively entreated the young man to shake the dust of
Piedmont off his feet and to seek a career in France. In his answer
to this proposition, he asks first of all, what have his parents done
that he should plunge a knife into their hearts? Sacred duties bound
him to them, and he would never quit them till they were separated by
the grave. This filial piety stands the more to Cavour's credit, as
his home life had not been very happy. He went on to inquire, what
real inducement was there for him to abandon his native land? A
literary reputation? Was he to run after a little celebrity, a little
glory, without ever reaching the real goal of his ambition? What
influence could he exercise in favour of his unhappy brothers in a
country where egotism monopolised the high places? What was the mass
of foreigners doing which had been thrown into Paris by choice or
misfortune? Who among them was useful to his fellow-men? The political
troubles which desolated Italy had obliged her noblest sons to fly far
from her, but in their exile their eminent faculties became forceless
and sterile. Only one Italian had made a name in Paris, Pellegrino
Rossi; but this man, whose capacities Cavour rated as extraordinary,
reached the summit of success open to him in France when he obtained a
professorship at the Sorbonne and a chair in the Academy, whereas,
in the country which he repudiated, he might have one day guided his
compatriots in the paths of the new civilisation - words which read
like an imperfect prophecy, since the unfortunate Rossi was to lose
his life later in the attempt to reform the papal government. Cavour
repeats that literature would be the only promising opening, and for
literature he feels no vocation; he has a reasoning, not an inventive
head; he does not possess a grain of imagination; in his whole life he
had never been able to construct even the smallest story to amuse a
child; at best he would be a third-class literary man, and he says
in the matter of art he can only conceive one position: the highest.
Certainly he might turn to science; to become a great mathematician,
chemist, physicist, was a way of seeking glory as good as another;
only he confessed that it had few attractions "for the Italian with
the rosy complexion and the smile of a child." Ethical science
interested him more, but this was to be pursued in retirement, not in
great cities. "No, no," he writes, "it is not in flying from one's
fatherland because it is unhappy that one can attain a glorious end."
But if he were mistaken, if a splendid future awaited him on foreign
soil, still his resolution would be the same. Evil be to him who
denies his fellow-countrymen as unworthy of him. "Happy or unhappy, my
country shall have all my life; I will never be unfaithful to her even
were I sure of finding elsewhere a brilliant destiny."

While Cavour was in Paris, Tocqueville's _Democracy in America_ was
published, and immediately gave its author European fame. It did not
probably exercise much influence over Cavour in the formation of
opinions, but he found his own confirmed in it both as to the tendency
of modern societies towards democracy for better or worse, and also as
to the independence of the Church from State control, in which, from
the time that he began to think at all on such matters, he had thought
to see the solution of all difficulties of a politico-religious
sort. Cavour changed his practice, but rarely his mind; most of the
conclusions of the statesman had been reached at twenty-five. It was
not easy for him to take those who fundamentally differed from him
entirely seriously. Once, when he was the guest of the Princess
Belgiojoso, Musset's irresponsive idol and Heine's good angel, the
fair hostess bestowed on him such a republican lecture that he wrote,
"They will not catch me there again"; but he went. At the Duchess
d'Abrantés' receptions he met "the relics of all the governments."
He only spoke on one occasion to Guizot. The minister seems to have
received him coldly. He remarked that with these great people you
must be a person of importance to make any way; an obscure citizen of
Piedmont, unknown beyond the commune of which he was syndic, could
have no chance. With Thiers he got on much better; principles apart,
their temperaments were not inharmonious. Of the literary men Cavour
preferred Sainte Beuve; in Cousin he cared less for the philosopher
than for the friend of Santorre di Santa Rosa, the exiled patriot of
1821. Cousin introduced him to several fervid Italian liberals, among
others Berchet, the poet. He was invited by Alessandro Bixio to meet
the author of _Monte Cristo_. Bixio was one day to be intimately mixed
up in Franco-Italian politics, in which he acted as intermediary
between Cavour and Prince Napoleon. Royer Collard, Jules Simon,
Michelet, Ozanum, Quinet, and the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz were
then giving lectures, which Cavour found time to attend. The great
Rachel filled the stage. Cavour, who in his later years never went to
a theatre except when he wanted to go to sleep, was a warm admirer
of the incomparable actress, who satisfied his requirement of the
absolutely first class in art. He was drawn to the highest genius as
much as he was repelled by mediocrity. He blamed Rachel, however, for
the choice of one particularly repulsive _rôle_, and suspected that
she chose it because the dress suited her to perfection.

It was always known that Cavour staked considerable sums at cards,
but that he had at one time a real passion for gambling was hardly
supposed till the self-accusations of his journal were laid bare.
Though there was little in him of the Calvinism of his maternal
ancestors, he judged himself on this point with the severity of an
austere moralist. In the world of pleasure in which he moved such
offences were considered venial, but he looked upon them with the
disgust of a man who reckons personal freedom beyond all earthly
goods, and who sees himself in danger of becoming a slave. "The
humiliating and degrading emotions of play" threaten, he says, to
undermine his intellectual and moral faculties; his "miserable
weakness" degrades him in his own eyes; conscience, reason,
self-respect, interest, call upon him to fight against it and destroy
it. From high play at cards to gambling on the Bourse there is but a
step. Cavour embarked in a speculation the success of which depended
on the outbreak of war in the East, which he believed to be imminent.
No war occurred, and the loss of a few hundred pounds obliged him to
apply to his father for supplies. The Marquis sent the money, and
wrote good-naturedly that the mishap might teach Camille to moderate
his belief in his own infallibility. He thought himself the only young
man in the world in whom there was a ready-made minister, banker,
manufacturer, and speculator; and if he did not take care the idea
that he could never be wrong might prevent him from turning to account
the superior gifts with which he was undoubtedly endowed. But the
kindliness of the reproof did not lessen his own sense of shame and
mortification. The lesson was useful; he forsook the Bourse, and at
cards he conquered the passion without giving up the game. Rightly or
wrongly it was said that many years after he played high stakes at
whist with political men to gain an insight into their characters.
In any case there is nothing to show that his fondness for play ever
again led him into excesses which his judgment condemned. He had
recovered his freedom.

Cavour invariably ended his visits to Paris by crossing the Channel,
and, if in the French capital he gained greater knowledge of men, it
was in England that he first grew familiar with the public life which
he considered a pattern for the world. He did not find the delightful
social intercourse to be enjoyed in Paris; in fact, not one of the
persons to whom he brought letters of introduction took the least
notice of him. English society is quicker to run after celebrities
than to discern them in embryo. But the two or three Englishmen whom
he already knew were active in his behalf. William Brokedon, his
old friend the painter, conducted him to the dinner of the Royal
Geographical Society, where a curious thing happened. Cavour's first
essay in public speaking was before an English assembly. After several
toasts had been duly honoured, the Secretary of the Society, to his
unbounded astonishment, proposed his health. Taken unawares, he
expressed his thanks in a few words, which were well received, and on
sitting down he said to his neighbour, the Earl of Ripon, "C'est mon
_maiden speech_!" Lord Ripon remarked, "with a significant smile,"
that he hoped it would be the opening of a long career. He dined with
John Murray, and went to see Faraday, who in his working clothes made
him think of a philosopher of the sixteenth century. At a party given
by Babbage, the mathematician, he met Hallam, Tocqueville, Ada Byron,
and the three beautiful daughters of Sheridan. With Nassau Senior he

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