Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung August 1848

Charles Albert’s Betrayal

Source: MECW Volume 7, p. 388
Written: by Engels on August 16, 1848;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 77-78, August 17, 1848

The newspapers of Turin, Genoa etc. are loudly complaining that the cause of Italy’s freedom and independence has been betrayed by him and by those who up to the very last moment were repeatedly swearing under oath that they would win or die for Italy. What was earlier uttered only by a small handful of men — that Charles Albert is a traitor — is now loudly repeated day after day by the mass of the people and by all those newspapers that have not completely sold out to the perfidious King of Sardinia. This insight will later bear its fruit; this time, however, it has come too late. Since the battles of Goito and Mozambano[249] it became more and more clear to many people as the days went by that the Sardinian was either plotting a betrayal or was totally incapable of carrying out the task that he has undertaken. He lapsed into complete inactivity and whatever was done was against all the rules of common sense, of politics and of the art of war. For a long time now many questions have been obtruding themselves on the public’s attention. Some of the answers to these questions have in fact already been given, and others will shortly come to light. Who, for example, constantly obstructed the arrangements for the arming of the whole people? Who distributed and dispersed the Italian army over so many points and neglected to form a reserve-line, with the result that every defeat was bound to lead to ruin? Why did Charles Albert not advance on Vicenza? Why did the army in Valleggio lack bread? Why did the Modenese desert? How did it happen that the Lombardian volunteers did not find a single cannon on the banks of the Mincio? How was it that the cartridges distributed during the battle to several Piedmontese corps could not be used because the bullets were too big? And lastly: how

could Charles Albert, who had long since decided to retreat, still order the destruction of a large number of houses in the suburbs of Milan, to the value of 30 million lire? There is only one answer to these questions, unless we are prepared to assume the most lamentable and incredible incompetence, and that is that Charles Albert behaved just as treacherously and perfidiously in the year 1848 as he did in the year 1821, when he shamelessly betrayed his fellow conspirators and helped to deliver them up to the hangman’s rope, to the galleys and to banishment. [250]