If all the ages of the times do not fail, there is a crisis approaching in European affairs, that will require the whole attention of the transatlantic powers, and which will probably leave us at leisure to settle our own difficulties in our own way. The financial embarrassments of all the European nations, with, perhaps, the exception of England, are among the least threatening of the dangers which are imminent. In Russia, the Serfs are dissatisfied with the law which makes them free, because it makes them pay for their freedom, and the nobility are sour because the Serfs have been freed at all. And the much abused inhabitants of Poland and Finland are ever on the alert to take advantage of every pre-occupation of the Government to strike another blow to their independence. In Germany also there are evidences of coming trouble. Hungary is awaiting the march of events in Italy, and the moment Garibaldi attempts his long cherished enterprise of wresting Venitia from the dominion of Austria, Hungary will rise en masse to throw off the same yoke. Secret societies exist in every town, and secret agents are traveling over the country, warning the inhabitants to be ready for the emergency. A similar state of things is noticeable in the Turkish Provinces of Montenegro and Herzegovina, which are giving the Sultan much trouble. The recent assertion of Prussia, too, that she considers “the German Confederation as an international and not a federal part of Prussia,” has irritated Austria and thrown the little German principalities into an interesting flutter of excitement, presaging trouble in that quarter.
But the Italian question is the most dangerous and complicated of the whole, and is daily growing more difficult of solution. Garibaldi has just written a letter intimating that he intends to commence operations for the recovery of Venitia early in the spring, and Austria is taking active measures to resist the attack. The Bourbons are adding new fuel to the flame of the Neapolitan rebellion, and fresh hostilities are momentarily expected in Naples and Sicily. The Pope continues to hold on doggedly to his temporal power in spite of the warning of France, and the recent and numerous exhibitions of popular feelings on the subject in the Italian cities, shows that he is daily becoming more unpopular. If Napoleon should withdraw his forces from Rome, as he threatens to do, the Pope is in a fair way to lose not only his temporal but his spiritual authority as well. Verily, coming events in Europe cast their shadows before. At this late day we hardly need the repeated assertions of neutrality in our affairs on the part of England and France. Matters at home promise to furnish abundant scope for the exercise of all the diplomatic skill of the European nations, if indeed a general appeal to arms is not necessary. The scales which hold the “balance of power,” never at an exact equipoise, now seem more likely to be put of equilibrium than ever before. It will require time to get things right again, and meanwhile our little difficulties will be settled up. In view of the troubles abroad, and the signs of returning peace at home, there is no good reason why we should be further haunted by the ghost of “European intervention.”
– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, March 8, 1862, p. 2