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Yesterday evening, in Sever 11, Dr. Theofilo Gay addressed the Harvard Historical Society on "Italy and the Triple Alliance."
Prior to the formation of the Triple Alliance the encroachments of Russia had filled Austria with distrust, and for self defence she made an alliance with Germany. A third power was needed and Italy completed the trio.
Italy had two great reasons for joining this alliance. The treachery of France in regard to Tunis had alarmed her and she felt that she needed the co-operation of two such powers as Germany and Austria. Then, too, her domestic affairs were in an unsettled condition. Opposite the Quirinal where resides Humbert of Savoy, King of Italy, stands the Vatican, that immense palace with its 11,000 rooms, the home of the Pope. The Pope had never yielded his claim to the temporal as well as the spiritual control of Rome, and was ill content with the privileges granted him by the Italian people. Some of his hot-headed adherents in other countries were even agitating the question of taking Rome by force and of bringing it again under papal authority. While the Italians feared little from such absurd projects still they recognized the advantages of an alliance which would at the same time free them from external and internal fears. Italy had to make sacrifices to enjoy these advantages. It was hard to enter into an alliance with a power which was cruelly tyrannizing over two Italian provinces, Tyrol and Triste, but the good of the country at large demanded that it should be done. Italy will never be satisfied until she regains possession of these provinces, but Signor Chrispi wisely reasoned that he was not in a position to engage in war and consequently concluded the alliance which his predecessor had begun.
The cost of maintaining a standing army is immense but the fact must not be lost sight of that the keeping of this army exercises a good influence over all Italy. For the past one thousand years Italy has been divided into so many different states that today each district has its dialects, local feeling, etc. This commingling of young men fosters and encourages a national and patriotic feeling. The law of the army compels the soldiers to attend night schools and consequently at the expiration of their term of service the young men return no longer rude and illiterate to their native villages. The money paid out for equipments is paid to Italian workmen for Italian labor and nearly all of it remains in Italy.
The speaker then referred feelingly to the admirable personal traits of the King of Italy. He said that in reality he had but little more power than our own president. In other words Italy today has a republican government under a monarchical form. In conclusion he said that he hoped a fourth power would join the Triple Alliance and then standing armies might be done away with.
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