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under the cockade of the officer of the conscription and in the uniform of the carabinier. His priest pities him, and consoles him with the hope of justice to come; but the brigand, in his character of avenger of the poor, appeals to his southern imagination as the personification of more immediate retribution, as a tangible protest against social oppression, as a fierce assertion of his outraged individual dignity and trampled human rights.
Space forbids us to enter into the details of the infinite variety of agricultural contracts so ably and patiently explained by Signor Sonnino in the second volume of this valuable work. They vary with every patch of ground, and are renewed on different terms every three or four years,
the persants shifting their holdings with the rotation of crops, and tr: nsferred like the cattle according to the changing necessities of cultivation. Speaking generally, the landlord gets twothirds of the produce, carefully selected of the best quality, while the refuse of the harvest is left to the peasant as the recompense of his labour. In the total absence of rural dwellings the whole population is necessarily concentrated in the towns, where a chaotic accumulation of sordid and filthy hovels constitutes the quarter of the poor. Here, in one miserable room immediately nnder the tiles, without pavement, window, or fire-place, perhaps divided from an instinct of decency-by means of rag partitions, the peasant leaves his family, as well as his pig, poultry, and mule, if he be fortunate enough to possess one; while he repairs to his work, at a distance varying from five to ten miles, for the most part remaining out from Monday to Saturday, and either sleeping under the open sky, fortunately not here an inclement one, or crouching at night in a rude lair of branches or straw. What hopes comfort him in his laborious solitude ? What thoughts visit him during his patient intercourse and dumb communings with Nature ?
Let us not ask, but rather turn to Signor Franchetti for practical information as to the state of public safety in the interior of Sicily.
In the infinite solitude of the Campagna of Sicily,' he writes (vol. i. p. 38), “brigandage is the only constituted authority, and malefactors are the real masters. The vast herds of cattle which pasture in summer high up among the mountains, in winter on the low hills and plains of the sea-coast, are at their mercy; the ripe harvests, the vineyards and almond-groves, the few houses and villas lost in the desert, exist only at their discretion. Any one of them, with a lighted match in his hand, has power to destroy the riches contained in an olive plantation of secular growth. The life and property of every isolated traveller
who ventures to traverse those paths and highways, belong to them. Mounted on horses which are not theirs, armed with muskets and revolvers which they never purchased, they lord it over mountain and valley, hill and plain. If they stop at a farm-house or a manor, all the doors open to them ; stewards, tenants, workmen, all hasten round them; the cellar, the larder, and the stable are at their disposal. In the districts frequented by them, they know everybody, and are known to all, while every landowner who interests himself in his property must have dealings with them. Do they want arms or ammunition ? they have only to demand them. A valuable rifle, which had been openly bought in one of the cities of the island by a rich proprietor, was found not long after lying beside the corpse of a slain brigand. The finest horses are at their disposal. Signor GM, landholder, when riding in the country, chances upon a brigand, who salutes him respectfully, and politely demands the horse on which he is mounted. On its being pointed out that the return on foot of Signor G-- to the neighbouring town would be construed as an insult by his relations and adherents, and would expose the brigand to their vengeance, he allows himself to be persuaded, and it is agreed that he is to have the horse later. The brigand then invites the proprietor to an adjacent villa, where he finds the principal robber-chiefs of the country-side at table. He is received by them with every manner of courtesy; they drink and talk together, and finally, as a mark of confidence, he removes the revolver from his side, and presents it to one of them. A few days afterwards the horse is turned out on grass and disappears! Are they in want of money ? They write a letter to some person of substance, and few indeed are bold enough to refuse their demand. Wherever they wish, they find friends, allies, receivers, spies. Nobody ambitions the perilous glory of rejecting their profitable alliance; malefactors who know how to inspire fear have only to choose their friends. Landowners, tenants, stewards, and all farm employés are, by the force of circumstances, their accomplices. Nor indeed are they dependent for information on any persons extraneous to their own body. The proprietors know that the best means of at least partially securing their farms from pillage, is to entrust them to the guardianship of certain armed retainers called campieri-men who have themselves led somewhat of a brigand life, and have at any rate some homicides upon their consciences—who form part of that great league, which without rules, statutes, or preventive organisation, nevertheless unites, in case of need, all the dangerous classes in a spontaneous combination.'
If, as Cicero defines it, ' Peccare est tamquam transire lineas,' then it follows, that where no line can be drawn, no guilt can be imputed. Who in Sicily is wholly innocent, and who altogether guilty? By what criterion can we distinguish criminal complicity from necessary toleration ? Morality retires before the problem with a vertigo, and casuistry itself has no answer at hand. A Florentine lady (this case comes within our personal knowledge), the wife of a captain in the Italian army, recently stationed with his detachment in the interior of the island, describes her relations with the brigands, while residing there with her husband, as no less constant than friendly. Food and shelter were ready for them in her house, whenever they chose to claim the one or the other; their requests were law; the entire household was at their service. In return, they secured to her property immunity from pillage, and to her husband immunity from assassination. His own soldiers were powerless to protect him, and without the guarantee of the brigands his life would not have been worth an hour's purchase. Who will venture to condemn the lady for conforming her conduct to circumstances so stringent? But if she were innocent, what becomes of the guilt of nine-tenths of the so-called manutengoli ? Not even between those who favour but do not profit by crime, and those who fatten on its spoils, can a distinction easily be maintained. Many a man enjoys the prestige conferred by reputed alliance with the Mafia who has never positively sanctioned any open outrage upon life or property. The mere knowledge that he is without scruple--that he has blood-hounds in the leash, whom, should the occasion arise, he will not shrink from letting slip-suffices to secure him universal deference, and to give to his wishes the force of law.
The brigands in Sicily exercise a twofold empire over the minds of their fellow-citizens. They rule by exciting sympathy, and they rule by inspiring terror. The brigand-type has yet retained there the halo of romance which has long departed from it in other countries. A certain heroic courtesy, as well as heroic daring, are ascribed to its representatives by the popular imagination, and this legendary reputation they endeavour to maintain by carrying on their cut-throat trade after a somewhat chivalrous and high-bred fashion. The robberchief asks pardon of the proprietor from whom he has just exacted a ransom of 130,000 francs, alleging, like the wolf in the fable, “circumstances over which he has no control,' as the excuse for his rapacity; and his followers kiss the hand of their victim with every expression of regret and devotion. There are not wanting Rob Roys who play the part of protector of the poor and redresser of social wrongs; nor Karl Moors, scions of great houses who win their spurs in melodramatic fashion by highway robbery, make their earliest display of youthful prowess, like Mercury, in cattle-stealing, and sow their wild oats in generous revolt against law and order among the manna-bearing groves of Castelbuono, or on the sulphurous plains of Lercara.
On the other hand, the vengeance of the brigands is known to be swift and sure--an inexorable Nemesis, which strikes ten innocent rather than let one guilty escape. At San Mauro, the robber-chief Rinaldi murdered a landowner on the mere suspicion of his having denounced him; and some time after, entering the town with an armed companion, at the hour of the Ave Maria, amidst the peasants returning from their work, he walked straight to the house where the mother and sister of his victim resided, shot the old lady to the heart; and dragging her daughter down the stairs into the street, despatched her there with his knife. He then went off unmolested. This within a few paces of the barrack of the Carabiniers, and almost within sight of the gay society assembled at the Casino. Instances are innumerable. The brothers Di Lorenzo of Gibellina and the Militellos of Montemaggiore were assassinated for the same offence-that of having shut their doors in the face of the brigands. Signor Mancuso, of Palazzo Adriano, was captured and put to ransom for having refused them some cloaks. In a commune where the authority of the law seemed to threaten to get the upper hand, the local malefactors collected in the street, surrounded the Delegate of Public Safety, and deliberately murdered him as he stood at the door of a shop. No impediment was offered by the passers-by, who were naturally quite unconscious of what was taking place.
In Sicily it is indeed no figure of speech to describe the eyes of Justice as bandaged, since, like the protagonist at Blind Man's Buff, she is compelled to grope helplessly after those she desires to lay her hands on, amidst the mockeries or delusive assistance of the clear-sighted bystanders. While the harassed troops are scouring the country in rain and storm, the miscreant they are in search of passes the winter tranquilly at Palermo, and not always in concealment. Nay, we hear of brigands in the guise of peaceable wayfarers taking advantage of the escort of the Carabiniers, and of a robber-chief spending
a the evening agreeably at a café in the company of an Officer of Public Safety, and sending him next morning a basket of bonbons as a proof of his regard. Nowhere is the ' summum ' jus, summa injuria,' so often true as here. An official, lately arrived from the Continent, and inexperienced in such matters, who witnessed and gave information of a murder, was on the point of being convicted of the crime he had been rash enough to denounce, the real murderer being all the time known to the whole country, and his guilt a matter of public notoriety. Such instances are not rare. Organised calumny and judicial conspiracy are among the recognised weapons of the Mafia.
Thus, brigandage is the only trade which really prospers in the island. Honest industry languishes, while robbers become capitalists, and landowners, who no doubt would scorn to give their sons a profession, amass large fortunes by sharing in the profits of cattle-stealing.
With regard to the tranquil provinces’of Messina, Catania, and Syracuse, Signor Franchetti's opinion might be summed up in Dante's answer to Guido da Montefeltro, when, from within his sheath of fire, he desired to be informed whether peace or war reigned in the Romagna :
‘Romagna tua non è, e non fu mai,
Sanza guerra ne' cuor de' suoi tiranni;
Ma palese nessuna or ven lasciai.' Since the dispersion, in 1875, of Cucinotta's robber-band, which for many years regulated the affairs of the greater part of the province of Messina, levying taxes, according protection, granting immunities, appeasing discords—as the Incas of Peru imposed peace with the sword-making and prohibiting marriages-in fact, assuming all the offices of the most paternal government, there has been an interruption, in those districts, to the record of crime. Moreover, the inhabitants, perhaps owing to their Greek descent, are by nature less sanguinary and more subtle than in the other parts of the island, while the superior state of the communications gives the authorities a certain advantage in dealing with the dangerous classes. Nevertheless, there as elsewhere society is founded on the same anti-social and self-destructive principles of contempt for public right, and respect only for private force and fraud. There as elsewhere law is recognised only to be evaded, and an unscrupulous oligarchy usurps the rights which belong to the whole community. The poor are oppressed, while the power of protest is taken from them. The funds of charitable institutions are devoured by the harpies and intriguers who rule the local administration. Wrong-doing is more cunningly concealed, but not less triumphant, than in the rest of Sicily. Violence, too, is ready to break out upon provocation; and the recent assassination of the advocate Lombardo near Messina, together with the ransom and murder of Currado Lanza at Syracuse, forms a sinister commentary on the tranquillity' of the eastern provinces.
The origin of these evils is far to seek. It might be carried back to the Roman period of rapine, blood, and tears, when the latifondi, already formed by assignments and confiscations, were cultivated under the scourging rays of the southern sun, and the still fiercer lash of the overseer's whip, by gangs of