Austria, indeed, might easily have been persuaded to ignore the Irredentist agitation, had not the equivocal attitude of Cairoli and Zanardelli cast doubt upon the sincerity of their regret.
The former at Pavia (15th October I 2878), and the latter at Arco (3rd November), declared publicly that Irredentist manifestations could not be prevented under existing laws, but gave no hint of introducing any law to sanction their prevention.
Though aware of Bismarcks hostility towards Italy, of the conclusion of the Austro-German alliance of 1879, and of the undisguised ill-will of France, Italy not only made no attempt to crush an agitation as mischievous as it was futile, but granted a state funeral to General Avezzana, president of the Irredentist League.
Italy, in constant danger from France, needed good relations with Austria and Germany, but could only attain the goodwill of the former by firm treatment of the revolutionary Irredentist agitation, and of the latter by clear demonstration of Italian will and ability to cope with all anti-monarchical forces.
This very unpreparedness, however, rendered still less excusable her treatment of the Irredentist agitation, which brought her within a hairs-breadth of a conflict with Austria.
The Irredentist agitation had left profound traces at Berlin as well as at Vienna, and had given rise to a distrust of Depretis which nothing had yet occurred to allay.
Robilants opposition to a precipitate acceptance of the Austrian hint was founded upon fear lest King Humbert at Vienna might be pressed to disavow Irredentist aspirations, and upon a desire to arrange for a visit of the emperor Francis Joseph to Rome in return for King Humberts visit to Vienna.
The most successful feature of Crispis term of office was his strict maintenance of Order and the suppression of Radical and Irredentist agitation.
So vigorous was his treatment of Irredentism that he dismissed without warning his colleague Seismit Doda, minister of finance, for having failed to protest against Irredentist speeches delivered in his presence at Udine.
The Italian bourgeoisie of the towns, thanks to the force of attraction exercised by Italy, was all the more conspicuously irredentist, since the country population maintained an attitude of comparative opposition to this movement.
Minister of public works in the first Depretis cabinet of 1876, and minister of the interior in the Cairoli cabinet of 1878, he in the latter capacity drafted the franchise reform, but created dissatisfaction by the indecision of his administrative acts, particularly in regard to the Irredentist agitation, and by his theory of repressing and not in any way preventing crime, which led for a time to a perfect epidemic of murders.
In the autumn he made a motor tour of the south of France, - being greeted everywhere with popular acclamation, the bands playing the irredentist march "Sambre et Meuse," - and attended the army manoeuvres at Toulouse.
The unrest in Macedonia threatened to reopen the Eastern Question in an acute form; with Italy the irredentist attitude of the Zanardelli cabinet led in 1902-1903 to such strained relations that war seemed imminent.
When in 1876 the Left came into power, Cairoli, then a deputy of sixteen years' standing, became parliamentary leader of his party, and, after the fall of Depretis, Nicotera and Crispi, formed his first cabinet in March 1878 with a Francophil and Irredentist policy.
After his marriage with the countess Elena Sizzo of Trent, he permitted the Irredentist agitation to carry the country to the verge of a.