« EdellinenJatka »
measures have been tried, but only with the result of turning Government into a worthy rival of the Mafia, and adding to the sum-total of crime a long list committed in the name of order. Legal measures are acknowledged to be inadequate, although the ordinary law of Italy, in the system of 6 admoni• tion and · forced domicile,' or practically transportation without trial, places powers in the hands of the authorities which would not be tolerated for a day in England. Even so sober a writer as Signor Franchetti recommends such a drastic mode of cure as the abolition of trial by jury, and the deportation of all suspected persons-a measure which, on his own showing, would make a large gulph in the population of the island; and it is unanimously agreed, that if public order is to be restored, Sicilians, with a very few exceptions, must be excluded from all share in the administration of justice in their country. Meglio buon rè che buona legge, says the proverb, which, like all proverbs, contains its modicum of truth-namely, that an equitable Code is vitiated by corrupt administration.
The fact is that the economic condition of the Sicilian peasant underlies all the disorders of Sicily, as the economic condition of the Irish peasant has been the main cause of the evils of Ireland; and all the remedies which leave this untouched have hitherto proved, and will continue to prove, fruitless. The famine of 1847, followed by a saving tide of Western emigration, and crowned by beneficent legislation, has got Ireland over the worst of her troubles; but the cruel cure of hunger is excluded from Sicily by the benignity of her climate and the fertility of her soil, and the idea of seeking a refuge from oppression in voluntary exile has as yet hardly dawned upon
the minds of her inhabitants. There remains legislation. But the Sicilian vote, like the Irish vote, has the fate of each Ministry in its hands, and the Sicilian deputies, unlike the Irish members, are unanimous, and vote in a compact body. Far more than deputies, they are delegates sent by the landowners to represent their interests in Rome; and even if all the rest of Italy could be united against them, they would still have the formidable resource of falling back upon a Home Rule policy, which is not without a considerable following in Sicily. It is in vain to open railways, and sink millions in a soil where morasses and landslips offer almost insuperable obstacles to improved communications; it is in vain to endow bankrupt companies with a view to developing the resources of the island, and to strain its weary limbs on the Procrustean bed of a formalist constitutionalism. As long as the power remains to the rich of attaining unjust ends by iniquitous means, and
labour continues to be oppressed under legal forms, brigandage will remain the protest of the poor, and Sicily will still be the danger of Italy and the disgrace of Europe.
The British press has not unfrequently assumed the right of dragging to light the dark and dreadful deeds of tyranny and holding them up to the execration of the world ; indeed the British nation has been known to be wrought up to a pitch of excessive sensibility by the wrongs and sufferings of foreign countries. This very kingdom of the Two Sicilies (as it was then called) was the subject of one of Mr. Gladstone's earlier exploits in the cause of humanity. But he who has read the preceding pages has before his eyes a faint sketch of horrors and atrocities not to be surpassed by scenes in the prisons of Naples or in the most afflicted parts of the Ottoman Empire. These facts rest not upon newspaper correspondence or consular reports, but upon evidence taken before the Parliament of Italy: and they disclose a state of things which would justify the intervention of the civilised world, if we were of opinion that misgovernment and crime do justify intervention in foreign states. Great Britain cordially applauded, approved, and in some degree aided, the emancipation of Sicily from the Bourbon yoke. We had old ties and modern interests connecting us with the island. The most flourishing trade in Sicily, the wine trade, is entirely the creation of English houses settled there. Yet it has come to this, that British subjects, the benefactors of the country, have been robbed and murdered, without the possibility of protection or redress; and at this moment the life and property of no man in Sicily, more especially if he be a stranger, are secure. No doubt the respect and regard we feel for the Italian Government and nation have led us to submit to treatment in its dominions which would not be endured for a moment elsewhere. A very different tone has been taken in exacting redress from Turks, Greeks, and even Spaniards. But if these actions are intolerable in one country, are they to be endured in another? Are they more tolerable under the powerful government of enlightened Italy, with an enormous army at command, than they are under the feeble rule and unsettled social conditions of Turkey and Greece ? If it be a paramount national duty to reform the government of European Turkey, is it less a duty to establish government in Sicily, where it seems that neither order, security, law or justice exist at all, and the administration is under the absolute control of assassins ? *
* See Note at the end of this Number, page 567.
ART. VIII.-Kreuz und Schwert. Vierte Abtheilung von • Um Szepter und Krone.' Zeitroman von GREGOR SAMA
Vier Bände. Stuttgart: 1875. Four years ago we reviewed the first instalment of this ex
traordinary series of novels; and we must confess that when we did so we little imagined that Herr Meding, the exsecretary of the King of Hanover, writing under the nom de plume of Gregor Samarow, would find both the will in himself and encouragement from the German public for production in such abundance of a genre which he may be said to have created. For never, we imagine, have actors in political history found themselves dealt with so freely in the pages of contemporary romance as they are by Herr Mediny. One cannot deny the freedom of his touch, the perfect ease and sometimes the aptness of the political arguments which he puts into the mouths of his heroes and heroines ; yet what, in fact, is the value of this kind of writing? It is neither romance nor history. No man living could possibly have sufficient knowledge of all the courts and crowned heads he introduces to us, including the Vatican and the Pope, to enable him to represent thein fairly in the pages of romance; and perhaps as much truth may be looked for in the historic novels of a Scott or a Bulwer, dealing with kings and statesmen who lived centuries ago, as in a romance of this nature. Nevertheless, the success of Herr Meding's treatment of his subject is, considering the difficulty attending it, extremely remarkable.
This novel, like its predecessors, consists of two parts of very different merit; one half is political romance, so to speak, and one half unpolitical romance. This latter portion of the work is carried on from the beginning to the end of the volumes by merely intercalating the chapters in which the lovestories of the inferior personages are contained among the other chapters in which emperors and empresses, kings, popes, cardinals, and princes, and the other Dii Majores of Europe are made to act and talk with considerable verisimilitude and keeping as to character, and also with considerable artistic merit. The love-romance portion of the novel, however, may be dismissed in a short space. It commences in the autumu of 1869, and is concluded about a year later. The opening of the novel is very much in the style in which the late Mr. G. P. R. James used to commence his oft-told tales :
• The sinking sun of the autumn of the year 1869 sent its oblique beams over the simple and uniforın, but yet luxuriant landscape which
in the neighbourhood of Dusseldorf encloses the broad and quietly flowing stream of the Rhine. On the road which led along the dikes through the meadows and orchards rode two young officers in the green uniform of the Hussars. Neither of thein was at the most more than twenty-one or twenty years of age; but in spite of this equality of age their whole appearance was strikingly different. One sat comfortably on his fair grey steed, and his form, in spite of his youth, showed a certain tendency to fullness and corpulence, while his fresh countenance beamed with a careless cheerfulness. . . This young officer, from whose face was reflected the morning beams of a sorrowless happy life, was the Count Xavier von Spangendorf, the son and heir in tail of one of the richest and most considerable proprietors of the neighbourhood, whose family had possessed for almost immemorial ages the park nearly as large as a forest which surrounded the château of Rensenheim, Near him rude his friend and fellow-officer, Lieutenant von Rothenstein, the descendant of an old Silesian family. He sat on a black horse; his form was slight and thin-his face was long and pale -his fine sharply cut mouth, with his dark moustache drooping over his upper lip, seemed seldom likely to be moved with laughter.
The Herr von Rothenstein, in fact, is the caballero de le • triste figura' of the novel. His parents died when he was two years old; his bachelor guardian, a cousin of his father's, had handed him over to be educated by professors; he had grown up among strangers--- a world of ice had ever surrounded him,
through which he could not break-he was alone, always • alone!' He had the misfortune, moreover, to fall in love with the Gräfin Gabriele, the sister of Xavier von Spangendorf, who was beautiful as a Madonna of Carlo Dolce, but who looked like a novice of a holy order, and had indeed already secretly devoted herself to conventual retirement.
The family of Spangendorf was Roman Catholic, and had for chaplain a certain Father Dominicus, of eight-and-twenty years of age, of slight yet powerful frame, quiet in his movements, dignified, yet at the same time modest. The priest, whose closely-cut dark hair allowed the small tonsure to appear, and whose broad and high forehead denoted a clear and vigorous intelligence, was in love in more than spiritual fashion with Gabriele, the daughter of the house; and the intrigues, contrivances, and crimes also, with which he endeavours to prevent the happy issue of the love which the sadfeatured Rothenstein naturally conceives for Gabriele, the daughter of the house of Spangendorf, form some of the most dramatic incidents of the volume. The priest, indeed, even goes so far as to try to poison his rival when he is at death's door.
Two other love affairs draw their slow lengths along through VOL. CXLV. NO. CCXCVIII,
the volume; the one that between the young Graf von Spangendorf and his cousin Josephine, and the other that of Franz, a younger brother of Von Spangendorf, for Lorenza, the daughter of an Italian model-Franz von Spangendorf being, like his sister, a Catholic enthusiast, and having enrolled himself as a member of the Pope's Roman Guard. Nothing can be more feeble and mawkish than these details. But they afford easy vehicles for carrying the reader backwards and forwards from Rome to Vienna, Paris, and Berlin, and for conducting him to the battle-fields of France in 1870.
The first volume of the work is the least interesting part of it. The political schemes of the ex-King of Hanover and of the late Emperor of the French and his Empress occupy the greater part of the political action. George V. is introduced to us surrounded by the faithful companions of his defeats and exile, intriguing for the recovery of his lost kingdom, for the repression of Prussia, and for the inauguration of an improved federal system in Germany; and he counts greatly on the financial aid which a certain Vienna bank, in which he is a large shareholder, will render him. We are not aware what foundation Herr Meding has for this episode of the Vienna bank, whose destinies are directed by a certain Doctor Elster. This personage is a sort of Viennese Law, and his speculations meet with the same sort of failure with those of his Scotch prototype, and involve in their ruin the hopes of George V. and his adherents. We know no more what basis of truth there may be for this part of the narrative than we do as to what foundation there may be for the scenes in which Napoleon III. is represented as holding long colloquies on the state of France and of Europe, and on the probability and advantage of the Prince of the Asturias being installed as king on the throne of Spain, from which his mother had lately been driven by revolution.
The beginning of the second volume introduces us to a series of scenes which are stirring enough, although as little here, too, we know
what foundation the author may have for his inventions. The chapter which opens this volume describes a midnight meeting of the secret society of the Avengers, held in the recesses of the baths of Caracalla. Pietro Barghili, the model, the father of Lorenza, the beloved of the younger Graf von Spangendorf, and Barbarino Falcone, a ferocious Italian bandit, his rival, have arrived at the entrance of the cavernous hollow where the meeting is held.
“A deep voice sounded from beneath upwards—"Who seeks admittance to the Society of the Avengers ? "