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Giuseppe Garibaldi

Few men come to greatness. Most drift on with the current, having no

special plan nor aim. They live where their fathers lived, taking no

thought beyond their neighborhood or city, and die in their little round

of social life.

Not so a boy born in Southern France, in 1807. Giuseppe Garibaldi was

the son of humble parents. His father was a sailor, with a numerous

family to support, seemingly unskilled in k
eping what little property

he had once acquired. His mother was a woman of ambition, energy, and

nobility of character. If one looks for the cause of greatness in a man,

he seldom has to go further than the mother. Hence the need of a highly

educated, noble womanhood all over the world. Such as Giuseppe Garibaldi

are not born of frivolous, fashionable women.

Of his mother, the great soldier wrote in later years, "She was a model

for mothers. Her tender affection for me has, perhaps, been excessive;

but do I not owe to her love, to her angel-like character, the little

good that belongs to mine? Often, amidst the most arduous scenes of my

tumultuous life, when I have passed unharmed through the breakers of

the ocean or the hail-storms of battle, she has seemed present with me.

I have, in fancy, seen her on her knees before the Most High--my dear

mother!--imploring for the life of her son; and I have believed in the

efficacy of her prayers." No wonder that, "Give me the mothers of the

nation to educate, and you may do what you like with the boys," was one

of his favorite maxims.

Giuseppe was an ardent boy, fond of books, loving to climb the lonely

mountains around his home, and eager for some part of the world's

bustle. Sometimes he earned his living among the fishermen on the

Riviera; sometimes he took sea-voyages with his father. He had unusual

tenderness of heart, combined with fearlessness. One day he caught a

grasshopper, took it to his house, and, in handling it, broke its leg.

He was so grieved for the poor little creature, that he went to his room

and wept bitterly for hours. Another time, standing by a deep ditch, he

discovered that a woman had fallen from the bank as she was washing

clothes. With no thought for his own life, he sprang in and rescued her.

His parents, seeing that he was quick in mathematics and the languages,

desired him to study for the ministry; but he loved the sea and

adventure too well for a sedentary life. Becoming tired of study, at

twelve years of age, he and some companions procured a boat, put some

provisions and fishing-tackle on board, and started to make their

fortune in the East. These visions of greatness soon came to an

inglorious end; for the paternal Garibaldi put to sea at once, and soon

overtook and brought home the mortified and disappointed infantile crew.

At twenty-one, we find Garibaldi second in command on the brig

"Cortese," bound for the Black Sea. Three times during the voyage they

were plundered by Greek pirates, their sails, charts, and every article

of clothing taken from them, the sailors being obliged to cover their

bodies with some matting, left by chance in the hold of the ship. As a

result of this destitution, the young commander became ill at

Constantinople, and was cared for by some Italian exiles. Poor, as are

most who are born to be leaders, he must work now to pay the expenses

incurred by this illness. Through the kindness of his physician, he

found a place to teach, and when once more even with the world

pecuniarily, went back to sea, and was made captain.

He was now twenty-seven years old. Since his father had taken him when a

mere boy to Rome, he had longed for and prayed over his distracted

Italy. He saw what the Eternal City must have been in her ancient

splendor; he pictured her in the future, again the pride and glory of a

united nation. He remembered how Italy had been the battle-ground of

France, Spain, and Austria, when kings, as they have ever done,

quarrelled for power. He saw the conqueror of Europe himself conquered

by the dreadful Russian campaign: then the Congress of Vienna parcelling

out a prostrate people among the nations. Austria took Lombardy and

Venice; Parma and Lucca were given to Marie Louise, the second wife of

Napoleon; and the Two Sicilies to Ferdinand II., who ruled them with a

rod of iron. Citizens for small offences were lashed to death in the

public square. Filthy dungeons, excavated under the sea, without light

or air, were filled with patriots, whose only crime was a desire for a

free country. The people revolted in Naples and Sardinia, and asked for

a constitution; but Austria soon helped to restore despotism. Kings had

divine rights; the people had none. No man lessens his power willingly.

The only national safety is the least possible power in the hands of any

one person. The rule of the many is liberty; of the few, despotism.

Garibaldi was writing all these things on his heart. His blood boiled at

the slavery of his race. Mazzini, a young lawyer of Genoa, had just

started a society called "Young Italy," and was looking hopefully, in a

hopeless age, toward a republic for his native country. Garibaldi was

ready to help in any manner possible. The plan proposed was to seize the

village of St. Julien, and begin the revolt; but, as usual, there was a

traitor in the camp: they were detected; and Garibaldi, like the rest,

was sentenced to death. This was an unexpected turn of events for the

young sea-captain. Donning the garb of a peasant, he escaped by mountain

routes to Nice, his only food being chestnuts, bade a hasty farewell to

his precious mother, and started for South America. He had learned,

alas, so soon, the result of working for freedom in Italy!

He arrived at Rio Janeiro, an exile and poor; but, finding several of

his banished countrymen, they assisted him in buying a trading-vessel;

and he engaged in commerce. But his mind constantly dwelt on freedom.

The Republic of Rio Grande had just organized and set up its authority

against Brazil. Here was a chance to fight for liberty. A small cruiser

was obtained, which he called "The Mazzini," and, with twenty

companions, he set out to combat an empire. After capturing a boat

loaded with copper, the second vessel they met gave battle, wounded

Garibaldi in the neck, and made them all prisoners.

A little later, attempting to escape, he was brutally beaten with a

club, and then his wrists tied together by a rope, which was flung over

a beam. He was suspended in the air for two hours. His sufferings were

indescribable. Fever parched his body, and the rope cut his flesh. He

was rescued by a fearless lady, Senora Alemon, but for whom he would

have died. After two months, finding that he would divulge nothing of

the plans of his adopted republic, he was released without trial, and

entered the war again at once.

After several successful battles, his vessel was shipwrecked, nearly all

his friends were drowned, and he escaped as by a miracle. His heart now

became desolate. He says in his diary, "I felt the want of some one to

love me, and a desire that such a one might be very soon supplied, as my

present state of mind seemed insupportable." After all, the brave young

captain was human, and cried out for a human affection. He had "always

regarded woman as the most perfect of creatures"; but he had never

thought it possible to marry with his adventurous life.

About this time he met a dark-haired, dark-eyed, young woman, tall and

commanding, and as brave and fearless as himself. Anita belonged to a

wealthy family, and her father was incensed at the union, though years

after, when Garibaldi became famous, he wrote them a letter of

forgiveness. They idolized each other; and the soldier's heart knew

desolation no longer, come now what would. She stood beside him in every

battle, waving her sword over her head to encourage the men to their

utmost. When a soldier fell dead at her feet, she seized his carbine,

and kept up a constant fire. When urged by her husband to go below,

because almost frantic with fear for her safety, she replied, "If I do,

it will be but to drive out those cowards who have sought concealment

there," and then return to the fight. In one of the land-battles she was

surrounded by twenty or more of the enemy; but she put spurs to her

horse, and dashed through their midst. At first they seemed dazed, as

though she were something unearthly; then they fired, killing her

animal, which fell heavily to the ground; and she was made a prisoner.

Obtaining permission to search among the dead for her husband, and, not

finding him, she determined to make her escape. That night, while they

slept, she seized a horse, plunged into the forests, and for four days

lived without food. On the last night,--a stormy one,--closely pursued

by several of the enemy, she urged her horse into a swollen river, five

hundred yards broad, and seizing fast hold of his tail, the noble

creature swam across, dragging her with him. After eight days she

reached her agonized husband, and their joy was complete.

After a year or more of battles and hardships, their first child,

Menotti, was born, named for the great Italian Liberal. Garibaldi,

fighting for a poor republic, destitute of everything for his wife and

child, started across the marshes to purchase a few articles of

clothing. In his absence, their little company was attacked by the

Imperialists, and Anita mounted her saddle in a pitiless storm, and fled

to the woods with her twelve-days-old infant. Three months later the

child came near dying, the mother carrying him in a handkerchief tied

round her neck, and keeping him warm with her breath, as they forded

swamps and rivers.

After six years of faithful service for the South American Republic,

Garibaldi determined to settle down to a more quiet life, with his

little family, and sought a home at Montevideo, where he took up his

former occupation of teaching. But he was soon drawn into war again, and

his famous "Italian Legion," of about four hundred men, made for

themselves a record throughout Europe and America for bravery and

success against fearful odds. The grateful people made Garibaldi

"General," and placed a large tract of land at the disposal of the

Legion; but the leader said, "In obedience to the cause of liberty alone

did the Italians of Montevideo take up arms, and not with any views of

gain or advancement," and the gift was declined. Yet so poor was the

family of Garibaldi, that they used to go to bed at sunset because they

had no candles; and his only shirt he had given to a companion in arms.

When his destitution became known, the minister of war sent him one

hundred dollars. He accepted half for Anita and her little ones, and

begged that the other half might be given to a poor widow.

Fourteen years had gone by since he left Italy under sentence of death.

He was now forty-one, in the prime of his life and vigor. Italy had

become ripe for a revolution. Charles Albert, King of Sardinia, had

declared himself ready to give constitutional liberty to his people, and

to help throw off the Austrian yoke. Garibaldi believed that his hour

had come, and saying good-bye to the Montevideans, who were loathe to

part with him, he took fifty-six of his brave Italian Legion, and sailed

for Nice, in the ship Esperanza. His beloved Anita improvised a

Sardinian flag, made from a counterpane, a red shirt, and a bit of old

green uniform; and the little company gave themselves to earnest plans

and hopes. They met a hearty reception on their arrival; Garibaldi's

mother taking Anita and her three children, Menotti, Meresita, and

Ricciotti, to her home. General Garibaldi at once presented himself

before Charles Albert, and offered his services. He wore a striking

costume, consisting of a cap of scarlet cloth, a red blouse, and a white

cloak lined with red, with a dagger at his belt, besides his sword. The

King, perhaps remembering that the brave soldier was once a Republican

in sentiment, made the great mistake of declining his aid. Nothing

daunted, he hurried to Milan, only to find that the weak King had

yielded it to Austria. Charles Albert soon abdicated in favor of his son

Victor Emmanuel, and died from sorrow and defeat.

Meantime Rome had declared herself a Republic, and Pius IX. had fled the

city. Garibaldi was asked to defend her, and entered with his troops,

April 28, in 1849. England and France were urged to remain neutral,

while Rome fought for freedom. But alas! Louis Napoleon, then President

of the French Republic, desired to please the Papal party, and sent

troops to reinstate the Pope! When Rome found that this man at the head

of a republic was willing to put a knife to her throat, her people

fought like tigers. They swarmed out of the workshops armed with weapons

of every kind, while women urged them on with applause. For nearly three

months Rome held out against France and Austria, Garibaldi showing

himself an almost superhuman leader, and then the end came. Pius IX.

re-entered the city, and the Republic was crushed by monarchies.

When all was lost, Garibaldi called his soldiers together, and, leaping

on horseback, shouted, "Venice and Garibaldi do not surrender. Whoever

will, let him follow me! Italy is not yet dead!" and he dashed off at

full speed. By lonely mountain-paths, he, with Anita and about two

hundred of his troops, arrived on the shore of the Adriatic, where

thirteen boats were waiting to carry them to Venice. Nine were soon

taken by the Austrians, the rest escaping, though nearly all were

finally captured and shot at once. The General and his wife escaped to a

cornfield, where she lay very ill, her head resting on his knee. Some

peasants, though fearful that they would be detected by the Austrians,

brought a cart, and carried the dying wife to the nearest cottage,

where, as soon as she was laid upon the bed, she breathed her last,

leaning on Garibaldi's arm. Overwhelmed with the loss of his idol, he

seemed benumbed, with no care whether he was made a prisoner or not. At

last, urged for the sake of Italy to flee, he made the peasants promise

to bury Anita under the shade of the pine grove near by, and, hunted

like a robber from mountain to mountain, he found a hiding-place among

the rocks of the Island of Caprera. There was nothing left now but to

seek a refuge in the great American Republic.

Landing in New York, the noble General asked aid from no one, but

believing, as all true-minded persons believe, that any labor is

honorable, began to earn his living by making candles. What a contrast

between an able general working in a tallow factory, and some proud

young men and women who consent to be supported by friends, and thus

live on charity! Woe to America if her citizens shall ever feel

themselves too good to work!

For a year and a half he labored patiently, his children three thousand

miles away with his mother. Then he became captain of a merchant vessel

between China and Peru. When told that he could bring some Chinese

slaves to South America in his cargo, he refused, saying, "Never will I

become a trafficker in human flesh." America might buy and sell four

millions of human beings, but not so Garibaldi. After four years he

decided to return to Italy. With the little money he had saved, he

bought half the rocky island of Caprera, five miles long, off the coast

of Sardinia, whose boulders had once sheltered him, built him a

one-story plain house, and took his three children there to live, his

mother having died.

Meantime Cavour, the great Italian statesman, had not been idle in

diplomacy. The Crimean War had been fought, and Italy had helped England

and France against Russia. When Napoleon III. went to war with Austria

in 1859, Cavour was glad to make Italy his ally. He called Garibaldi

from Caprera, and made him Major-General of the Alps. At once the red

blouse and white cloak seemed to inspire the people with confidence.

Lombardy sprang to arms. Every house was open, and every table spread

for the Liberators. And then began a series of battles, which, for

bravery and dash and skill, made the name of Garibaldi the terror of

Austria, and the hope and pride of Italy. Tuscany, Modena, Parma, and

Lucca declared for King Victor Emmanuel. The battles of Magenta and

Solferino made Austria bite the dust, and gladly give up Lombardy.

At last it seemed as if Italy were to be redeemed and reunited.

Garibaldi started with his famous "Mille," or thousand men, to release

the two Sicilies from the hated rule of Francis, the son of Ferdinand

II. The first battle was fought at Palermo, the Neapolitans who

outnumbered the troops of Garibaldi four to one being defeated after

four hours' hard fighting. Then the people dared to show their true

feelings. Peasants flocked in from the mountains, and ladies wore red

dresses and red feathers. When the cars carried the soldiers from one

town to another, the people crowded the engine, and shouted themselves

hoarse. Drums were beaten, and trumpets blown, and women pressed

forward to kiss the hand or touch the cloak of the Lion of Italy. He was

everywhere the bravest of the brave. Once when surrounded by four

dragoons, who called upon him to surrender, he drew his sword, and said,

"I am Garibaldi; you must surrender to me."

And yet amid all this honor and success in war, and supremacy in power,

as he was the Dictator, he was so poor that he would wash his red shirt

in a brook, and wait for it to dry while he ate his lunch of bread and

water, with a little fruit. No wonder the Sicilians believed him to be a

second Messiah, and the French that he could shake the bullets from his

body into his loose red shirt, and empty them out at his leisure! The

sailor boy had become the hero of all who loved liberty the world over.

When the war was ended, he resigned his Dictatorship, handed the two

Sicilies over to his sovereign, distributed medals to his devoted

soldiers, and returned to his island home at Caprera, with barely three

dollars in his pocket, having borrowed one hundred to pay his debts. How

rarely does any age produce such a man as Garibaldi!

But Rome was not yet the capital of Italy. The hero could not rest while

the city was governed by a Pope. At last, tired of waiting for the king

to take action, he started with three thousand men for Rome. Victor

Emmanuel, fearing to offend France, if the Pope were molested, sent the

royal troops against Garibaldi at Aspromonte, who badly wounded him,

and carried him to a prison on the Gulf of Spezzia. The people,

indignant at the Government, crowded around him, bearing gifts, and

kissing the hem of his raiment. They even bored a hole in the door of

the prison, that they might catch a glimpse of their idol, as he lay on

his iron bedstead, a gift from an English friend.

After his release and return to Caprera, he visited England in 1864, the

whole country doing him honor. Stations were gaily decorated, streets

arched with flowers, ladies dressed in red; the Duke of Sutherland

entertained him; London gave him the freedom of the city; Tennyson made

him his guest at the Isle of Wight; and crowds made it scarcely possible

for him to appear on the public thoroughfares. He refused to receive a

purse of money from his friends, and went back to Caprera, majestic in

his unselfishness.

Again Italy called him to help her in her alliance with Prussia against

Austria in 1866, and again he fought nobly. The year following he

attempted to take Rome, but was a second time arrested and imprisoned

for fear of Napoleon III. When that monarch fell at Sedan, and the

French troops were withdrawn from the Eternal City, Victor Emmanuel

entered without a struggle, and Rome was free.

In 1874, after helping the French Republic, the brave Spartan was

elected to Parliament. He was now sixty-seven. As he entered Rome, the

streets were blocked with people, who several times attempted to remove

the horses, and draw the carriage themselves. Ah! if Anita had only

been there to have seen this homage of a grateful nation. He entered the

Senate House on the arm of his son Menotti, and when he rose in his red

shirt and gray cloak to take the oath, so infirm that he was obliged to

be supported by two friends, men wept as they recalled his struggles,

and shouted frantically as he took his seat.

Seven years longer the grand old man lived at Caprera, now beautified

with gifts from all the world, the recipient of a thank-offering of

$10,000 yearly from Italy. Around him were Francesca, whom he married

late in life, and their two children whom he idolized,--Manlio and

Clelia. He spent his time in writing several books, in tilling the soil,

and in telling visitors the wonderful events of his life and of Anita.

On June 2, 1882, all day long he lay by the window, looking out upon the

sea. As the sun was setting, a bird alighted on the sill, singing. The

great man stammered, "Quanti o allegro!" How joyful it is! and closed

his eyes in death. He directed in his will that his body should be

burned; but, at the request of the Government and many friends, it was

buried at Caprera, to be transferred at some future time to Rome, now

the capital of united Italy. Not alone does Italy honor her great

Liberator, whom she calls the "most blameless and most beloved of men."

Wherever a heart loves liberty, there will Garibaldi's name be cherished

and honored.