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Foreign News: Beautiful Cannon!

2 minute read

Golden silence is a coin few men can keep, more especially if they have been spendthrift talkers, boasters, threateners —as Signer Benito Mussolini used to be. Three years ago Il Duce resolved to become reticent, publicly announced his resolution (TIME, June 6, 1927), and has kept it with superhuman willpower. No longer does the Peace of Europe tremble every fortnight at his roar. Last week, however, the Dictator permitted himself a sort of spree, dashed at breakneck speed around Tuscany in his bellowing Alpha Romeo, fought a fencing match at Lucca, kissed on both cheeks his adversary General Romeo Lunghera. commander of the local officers training school, and finally descended like Jupiter or Mars upon Florence, wildly cheered by 100,000 black shirts. This was no time for reticence. “Though words are beautiful things,” cried the Dictator above the crowd’s huzzahs, “muskets, machine guns, ships, airplanes and cannon are much more beautiful things!” Denying that Italy’s announced building program of 29 new war boats (TIME, May 12) is a bluff, the Head of the State, more often called Il Capo than Il Duce, solemnly vowed that Italy will build every ship.

Appealing straight to Florentine hearts, proverbially hard and to Florentine minds, proverbially wily, Benito Mussolini achieved one of his most remarkable, most ponderable exclamations : “Right, if unaccompanied by Might, is a vain word, and your great Machiavelli said that unarmed prophets perish!” He concluded with these ringing words : ”Fascist Italy . . . cannot be attacked without mortal risk. Fascist Italy, fully armed, will give [he did not say to whom, meant France] her simple alternative of precious friendship or harshest hostility. . . . “Florentines! Have I changed in these eight years? Do you see any decrease in my natural pugnacity?” ‘Like the lashing of the sea the roar of 100,000 voices rose from Fascist militia men packed and jammed into the great square before the Palazzo Vecchio, on a balcony of which Il Capo stood. -‘No, No!” rumbled the ocean of voices, ‘you are not changed! Viva Il Capo! VIVA IL CAPO!” Vibrant with exultation, overpowered as well he might be by the effect he had produced. Benito Mussolini shouted from the balcony with rapturous joy, “Magnifico ! Magnified !” Next day of course the French Ambassador protested at the foreign office, but Il Capo doubtless felt his fun had been worth that.

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