Giuseppe Mazzini

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Hope nothing from foreign governments. They will never be really willing to aid you until you have shown that you are strong enough to conquer without them.

Giuseppe Mazzini (22 June 180510 March 1872), nicknamed "Soul of Italy," was an Italian politician, journalist and activist for the unification of Italy. His efforts helped bring about the independent and unified Italy in place of the several separate states, many dominated by foreign powers, that existed until the 19th century. He also helped define the modern European movement for popular democracy in a republican state.


Art does not imitate, but interpret. It searches out the idea lying dormant in the symbol, in order to present the symbol to men in such form as to enable them to penetrate through it to the idea.
  • Inexorable as to principles, tolerant and impartial as to persons.
    • Watchword for the Roman Republic (1849)
  • The epoch of individuality is concluded, and it is the duty of reformers to initiate the epoch of association. Collective man is omnipotent upon the earth he treads.
    • Watchword for the Roman Republic (1849)
  • Art does not imitate, but interpret. It searches out the idea lying dormant in the symbol, in order to present the symbol to men in such form as to enable them to penetrate through it to the idea. Were it otherwise, what would be the use or value of art?
    • The Life and Writings of Joseph Mazzini (1864 translation), Preface (1861), Vol. II, p. vii
  • Nature is for art the garb of the Eternal. The real is the finite expression and representation of the true ; forms are the limits affixed by time and space to the power of life. Nature, reality, and form, should, all of them, be so rendered and expressed by art, as to reveal to mankind some ray of the truth — a vaster and profounder sentiment of life.
    • The Life and Writings of Joseph Mazzini (1864 translation), Preface (1861) Vol. II, p. vii
  • Art is not the fancy or caprice of an individual. It is the mighty voice of God and the universe, as heard by the chosen spirit, and repeated in tones of harmony to mankind.
    Should that omnipotent voice strike too directly upon the mortal ear, it would stun and suspend all human action, even as Pantheism crushed the ancient Oriental world.
    • The Life and Writings of Joseph Mazzini (1864 translation), Preface (1861) Vol. II, p. vii
  • Art is no isolated, unconnected, or inexplicable phenomenon. It draws its life from the life of the universe, and with the universe it ascends from epoch to epoch towards the Almighty. It owes its power over the souls of men to that collective life — even as the trees and plants draw their life from earth, the common mother; and its power would be destroyed should it attempt to forsake its source.
    • The Life and Writings of Joseph Mazzini (1864 translation), Preface (1861) Vol. II, p. viii
  • Ideas grow quickly when watered with the blood of martyrs.
    • Attributed in The Cambridge Modern History (1907), edited by Adolphus William Ward et al., Vol. 10, p. 122
  • The mother's first kiss teaches the child love; the first holy kiss of the woman he loves teaches man hope and faith in life.
    • Reported in ‎Thomas Jones, The Duties of Man and Other Essays (1915), page 61
  • Every mission constitutes a pledge of duty. Every man is bound to consecrate his every faculty to its fulfilment. He will derive his rule of action from the profound conviction of that duty.
    • Life and Writings: Young Europe: General Principles; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 207
  • One sole God;
    One sole ruler, — his Law;
    One sole interpreter of that law — Humanity.
    • Life and Writings: Young Europe: General Principles. No. 1., reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1923), p. 318
  • Hope nothing from foreign governments. They will never be really willing to aid you until you have shown that you are strong enough to conquer without them.
    • Life and Writings, Young Italy; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 333

On the Duties of Man (1844-58)[edit]

  • Your first duties-first as regards importance-are, as I have already told you, towards Humanity. You are men before you are either citizens or fathers. If you do not embrace the whole human family in your affection, if you do not bear witness to your belief in the Unity of that family, consequent upon the Unity of God...if, wheresoever a fellow-creature suffers, or the dignity of human nature is violated by falsehood or tyranny-you are not ready, if able, to aid the unhappy, and do not feel called upon to combat, if able, for the redemption of the betrayed or oppressed-you violate your law of life, you comprehend not that Religion which will be the guide and blessing of the future.
  • Country is not a mere zone of territory. The true country is the Idea to which it gives birth; it is the Thought of love, the sense of communion which unites in one all the sons of that territory.
  • So long as a single one amongst your brothers has no vote to represent him in the development of the national life, so long as a single man, able and willing to work, languishes in poverty through want of work to do, you have no country in the sense in which country ought to exist-the country of all and for all.
  • So long as you are ready to die for Humanity, the life of your country is immortal.

Quotes about Mazzini[edit]

  • The new claim on the part of the toiling multitude, the new sense of responsibility on the part of the well-to-do, arise in reality from the same source. They are in fact the same “social compunction,” and, in spite of their widely varying manifestations, logically converge into the same movement. Mazzini once preached, “the consent of men and your own conscience are two wings given you whereby you may rise to God.” It is so easy for the good and powerful to think that they can rise by following the dictates of conscience by pursuing their own ideals, leaving those ideals unconnected with the consent of their fellowmen.
  • I encountered the influence of Mazzini, which was a source of great comfort to me...To me personally the celebration of the hundredth anniversary of Mazzini's birth was a matter of great interest. Throughout the world that day Italians who believed in a United Italy came together. They recalled the hopes of this man who, with all his devotion to his country, was still more devoted to humanity and who dedicated to the workingmen of Italy, an appeal so philosophical, so filled with a yearning for righteousness, that it transcended all national boundaries and became a bugle call for "The Duties of Man."
  • Mazzini despised the compromises of the "whigs" and would have no truck with the diplomacy of a Cavour. Yet he came to admit that the programme of insurrections upon which he built his faith implied the sacrifice of a generation. Disdaining immediate objects, reaching far into the future—working for all or nothing—he pointed to the reward that would be enjoyed not by his contemporaries, not by their children perhaps, but at least (let us say) by their grandchildren. Unfortunately, at this very point—in the passage from one generation to another—history seems in a particular way to intervene and to deflect the results of human endeavour; so that we may doubt whether this attempt to overreach Time itself is the proper kind of far-sightedness to have in politics. Apart from new factors that may change the course of the story, there is a process which may give efficacy to the ideas of a Mazzini precisely in so far as these ideas can be made to serve the cause of power; and it is not entirely irrelevant that though Mazzini was no Fascist he did attack the individualism of 1789, and he taught young men to sink themselves—to intoxicate themselves—in the Organic People. One of the things that may happen therefore in the transition to a new generation is the possibility that Mazzini's whole doctrine—and his glorification of nationality—when mixed with a little earth and entangled in a world of tricks and chances, will form but the raw material for the next Mussolini that may arise.
  • Lost golden ages can be a very effective tool for motivating people in the present. “Unity was and is the destiny of Italy,” Giuseppe Mazzini, the great nineteenth- century Italian nationalist, urged the divided peninsula. “The civil primacy, twice exercised by Italy—through the arms of the Caesars and the voice of the Popes—is destined to be held a third time by the people of Italy— the nation.” Mazzini was also a liberal who believed that a world filled by self-governing peoples would be a happy, democratic, and peaceful one yet there was an ominous tone to his exhortations: “They who were unable forty years ago to perceive the signs of progress toward unity made in the successive periods of Italian life, were simply blind to the light of History. But should any, in the lace of the actual glorious manifestation of our people, endeavour to lead them back to ideas of confederations, and independent provincial liberty, they would deserve to be branded as traitors to their country.” A great past can be a promise, but it can also be a terrible burden. Mussolini promised the Italians a second Roman Empire and led them to disaster in World War II.
  • We who have seen Italia in the throes,
    Half risen but to be hurled to ground, and now,
    Like a ripe field of wheat where once drove plough,
    All bounteous as she is fair,
    we think of those Who blew the breath of life into her frame:
    Cavour, Mazzini, Garibaldi: Three:
    Her Brain, her Soul, her Sword; and set her free
    ruinous discords, with one lustrous aim.
    • George Meredith, "For the Centenary of Garibaldi", stanza 1, The Times (London, July 1, 1907), p. 9; reprinted in Phyllis B. Bartlett, ed., Poems of George Meredith (1978), p. 790
  • Of Mazzini we may truly say what he said himself of Father Paul, the historian of the Council of Trent, that he was two distinct beings. He was sower of the seed, the indefatigable organiser, the conspirator, on behalf of the idea that he had invented and brought to life, of United Italy. Besides his ceaseless industry in this vexed sphere of action, his was the moral genius that spiritualised politics, and gave a new soul to public duty in citizens and nations. As practical statesman, when we have applauded him for the exalting political conception which his energy, ardour, and fire forced upon Italy and Europe, we have perhaps said all.
  • [H]e stood for the voice of conscience in modern democracy. Of all the democratic gospellers of that epoch between 1848 and was Mazzini who went nearest to the heart and true significance of democracy. He had a moral glow, and the light of large historic and literary comprehension, that stretched it into the foremost place in the minds of men with social imagination enough to look for new ideals, and courage enough to resist the sluggard's dread of new illusions. He pressed his finger on the People's intellectual pulse and warned them against the feverish beats that came from words and phrases passed off as ideas, or, still more dangerous, from fragments of an idea treated as if they were the idea whole. He warned them that human history is not a thing of disconnected fragments, and that recollection of great moves and great men in the past is needed to keep us safe on the heights of future and present. He did more; though figuring as restorer of a single nation, he was as earnest as Kant himself in urging the moral relations between different States, and the supremacy and overlordship of cosmopolitan humanity.
  • I realized that if my friends and followers were to read Mazzini’s articles that will increase their faith in our methods enormously. In 1906, I and my colleagues in Abhinav Bharat were hardly twenty to twenty-two years of age. Our leaders, both Moderates and Militants dismissed our activities as ‘childish’. They were the leaders of our society at that time. But then Mazzini and his fellow revolutionaries were similarly ridiculed as ‘childish’ and ‘absurd’ by contemporary elders in Italian society in 1830s. Mazzini had replied to such ridicule in his articles. The funny thing was that in 1906 persons like Mazzini and Garibaldi were regarded as ‘great patriots’ by Indian leaders without realizing that in their days Mazzini and Garibaldi too were being branded as ‘foolhardy’ and ‘childish’. Mazzini’s articles were going to make firm our plans of action and induce faith among people of India in our methods.
    • V. D. Savarkar, quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)
  • In our own day classics have been dethroned without being replaced. But throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries our statesmen were so brought up that they thought of Rome as the hearth of their political civilization, where their predecessor Cicero had denounced Catiline; where the models of their own eloquence and statecraft, as taught them at Eton, Harrow and Winchester, had been practised and brought to perfection. And, therefore, the ruins of the Forum were as familiar, as sacred, and as moving to Russell and to Gladstone as to Mazzini and Garibaldi themselves. This was a prime fact in the history of the Risorgimento.
    • G. M. Trevelyan, 'Englishmen and Italians: Some Aspects of Their Relations Past and Present', read before the British Academy (June 1919), quoted in Clio, A Muse: And other Essays (1913; rev. ed. 1930), p. 107

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