Sunday, March 15, 2009


Because reading Vollmann sometimes is a bit, you know, much, I'm also reading Christopher Duggan's The Force of Destiny: A History of Italy Since 1796 (2008). I don't necessarily recommend the book--it's a bit dry, and skimps on some of what I thought would be the most important figures, e.g., Garibaldi--but was struck by these two quotes (page 242) describing the same event: the King's first entrance into Rome after the newly united Italy won it from the Pope in 1870:
On the night of 30 December [Victor Emmanuel] arrived in Rome. No Roman emperor ever made an entrance that was as great in its simplicity! The whole city grew excited and rejoiced at seeing him, and expressed its enthusiasm and grattitude in a thousand different ways. The city council and the officers of the National Guard came to offer him their thanks; and Victor Emmanuel addressed the following . . . forthright and moving words to them, words that fully reveal his spirit: 'We are finally in Rome, as has been my heartfelt wish. No one will ever take it from us.' -- I. Ghiron, Il primo re dÍtalia. Ricordi biografici (1878, popular biography)

Never did such a momentous event attract so little attention. The king arrived in the evening, and hardly anyone turned up to greet him outside the station. Those that had gathered were poor wretches rather than respectable citizens. . . When the king got down from his carriage in the atrium of the Quirinal Palace, he turned to Lamarmora in the fashion of a traveler bored by the journey and muttered, in Piedmontese, 'We are finally here.' -- A. Oriani, Lotta politica in Italia (1892, eyewitness account)

No comments: