The Parliamentary Opposition, the leaders of which have been consulted in a general way, are believed to stand by the principle which they followed since the war began, namely: They are not prepared to quarrel with any measure which the Government regards as necessary for the active prosecution of the war so long as no injustice is done to established interests.
Italy has reached her present position through the development of a policy the steps of which have been brightly illuminated by the press of the Peninsula. The most important of these steps may be designated as follows:
First, the declaration of the Government to the German Ambassador at Rome on Aug. 1, 1914, that it did not regard the conflict begun by Austria-Hungary and Germany as a defensive war and hence not binding on it as a member of the Triple Alliance, and its subsequent declarations of “neutrality,” of “armed neutrality,” and of “a neutrality which is likely to be broken if the interests of the country demanded it.”
Second, Premier Salandra’s speech of Dec. 3 for “armed, alert neutrality,” and the declaration in Parliament on Dec. 5 by Signor Giolitti showing that the declaration of Aug. 1 was merely a repetition of one conveyed to Austria in the Summer of 1913, when Austria had suggested that she aid Bulgaria in subduing Serbia.
Third, the arrival in Rome in December of the former German Imperial Chancellor, Prince von Buelow, as Extraordinary Ambassador to the Quirinal, for the purpose of keeping Italy neutral, and, when this seemed doubtful, to negotiate between Italy and Austria what territorial compensation the latter would render the former in order to perpetuate the neutrality of the Peninsula.
Aside from the influence of these official acts, which invited press comments, the Italian papers have paid keen attention to the conduct of the war, concerning which the Government could not, on account of its neutrality, offer an opinion. Among such incidents of conduct have been the British declaration of a protectorate over Egypt and the bombardment of the Dardanelles by the Franco-British fleet.
In order to weigh the
full significance of the comments of the
Italian papers on these subjects a word may be said concerning
the status of the journals themselves:
The most conspicuous is the Idea Nazionale, a paper of Rome practically dedicated to intervention. Then comes the conservative and solid Corriere della Sera of Milan, whose Rome correspondent, Signor Torre, has peculiar facilities for learning the intentions of the Ministry. Both the Tribuna and the Giornale d’Italia are considered Government organs, but, while the former rarely comments with authority except on accomplished facts, the latter, although often voicing the unofficial