Pieces People Ask For/The Loves of a Life

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For other English-language translations of this work, see Alla memoria dei martiri di Cosenza.

THE LOVES OF A LIFE.

Love! Love is the flight of the soul towards God, towards the great, the sublime, and the beautiful, which are the shadow of God upon earth. Love your family, the partner of your life, those around you ready to share your joys and sorrows, the dead who were dear to you, and to whom you were dear. But let your love be the love taught you by Dante and by us,—the love of souls that aspire together, and do not grovel on the earth in search of a felicity which is not the destiny of the creature here to reach; do not yield to a delusion which inevitably would degrade you into egotism. To love, is to promise, and to receive a promise for the future. God has given us love, that the weary soul may give and receive support upon the way of life. It is a flower which springs up on the path of duty, but which cannot change its course. Purify, strengthen, and improve yourselves by loving. Ever act—even at the price of increasing her earthly trials—so that the sister soul united to your own may never need, here or elsewhere, to blush through you or for you. The time will come when from the height of a new life, embracing the whole past and comprehending its secret, you will smile together at the sorrows you have endured, the trials you have overcome.

Love your country. Your country is the land where your parents sleep, where is spoken that language in which the chosen of your heart, blushing, whispered the first word of love; it is the house that God has given you, that, by striving to perfect yourselves therein, you may prepare to ascend to him. It is your name, your glory, your sign among the peoples. Give to it your thought, your counsel, your blood. Raise it up, great and beautiful, as foretold by our great men. And see that you leave it uncontaminated by any trace of falsehood, or of servitude, unprofaned by dismemberment. Let it be one, as the thought of God. You are twenty-four millions of men, endowed with active, splendid faculties, with a tradition of glory the envy of the nations of Europe; an immense future is before you, your eyes are raised to the loveliest heaven, and around you smiles the loveliest land in Europe; you are encircled by the Alps and the sea, boundaries marked out by the finger of God for a people of giants. And you must be such, or nothing. Let not a man of that twenty-four millions remain excluded from the fraternal bond which shall join you together; let not a look be raised to that heaven, which is not that of a free man. Let Rome be the ark of your redemption, the temple of your nation. Has she not twice been the temple of the destinies of Europe? In Rome two extinct worlds, the Pagan and the Papal, meet each other like the double jewels of a diadem; and you must draw from thence a third world, greater than the other two. From Rome, the Holy City, the City of Love {Amor), the purest and wisest among you, elected by the vote, and strengthened by the inspiration, of a whole people, shall give forth the pact that shall unite us in one, and represent us in the future alliance of the peoples. Until then you have no country, or you have it contaminated.

Love humanity. You can only ascertain your own mission from the aim placed by God before humanity at large. God has given you your country as cradle, humanity as mother, and you can only love your brethren of the cradle in loving your common mother. Beyond the Alps, beyond the sea, are other peoples, now fighting, or preparing to fight, the holy fight of independence, of nationality, of liberty: other peoples striving by different routes to reach the same goal,— improvement, association, and the foundation of an authority which shall put an end to moral anarchy, and link again earth to heaven, and which mankind may love and obey without remorse or shame. Unite with them, they will unite with you. Do not invoke their aid where your single arm can suffice to conquer; but say to them, that the hour will shortly sound for a terrible struggle between right and blind force, and that in that hour you will ever be found with those who have raised the same banner as yourselves.

And love, young men, love and reverence above every thing the ideal. The ideal is the word of God, superior to every country, superior to humanity; it is the country of the spirit, the city of the soul, in which all are brethren who believe in the inviolability of thought, and in the dignity of our immortal soul; and the baptism of this fraternity is martyrdom. From that high sphere spring the principles which alone can redeem the peoples. Arise for them! and not from impatience of suffering, or dread of evil. Anger, pride, ambition, and the desire of material prosperity are arms common to the peoples and their oppressors; and, even should you conquer with them to-day, you will fall again tomorrow: but principles belong to the peoples alone, and their oppressors can find no arms to oppose them. Adore enthusiasm. Worship the dreams of the virgin soul, and the visions of early youth, for they are the perfume of paradise, which the soul preserves in issuing from the handir of its Creator. Respect above all things your conscience; have upon your lips the truth that God has placed in your nearts, and, while working together in harmony in all that tends to the emancipation of our soil, even with those who differ from you, yet ever bear erect your own banner, and boldly promulgate your faith. Mazzini