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The clock now struck two. My host shuddered. “ Already so late ?” said he, and added in a milder tone :-" Pardon me, stranger, for having so long cheated you of your rest; in that room my bed is prepared for you ; sleep and be not afraid." · I cordially grasped his right hand. 66 You have told me too much, said I ; you have excited my curiosity ; may I intreat you to communicate to me your history ?" But heavens ! what request had I made !, his features assumed a terrific appearance ; his look was that of despair.
" My history," replied he, “with a ghastly smile, would not lull you to pleasing dreams; it would make the hair of your head stand on end, it would cause you to repent your request, and never will I violate the rights of hospitality. I wish my guest to sleep in peace beneath my roof. But to-morrow, before you depart, you shall hear the history of my life--short, but not agreeable as a moment of pleasure.
I went and threw myself upon the bed, but was unable to. sleep. From time to time I heard a noise in the hut, and then again profound silence. At last the clock struck five; I could restrain myself no longer, sprung up from the bed, and opened the door of the chamber. My host was still seated before the chimney, with his eyes fixed on the extinguished ashes. “You have not slept, said he : is this dwelling doomed to chase sleep from every eye ?” He then made me sit down beside him, and a simple rustic breakfast soon made its appearance. Our conversation was of considerable length. It was about seven o'clock when I prepared to depart ; for I would not for the wealth of both the Indies have reminded him of a promise which seemed to give him so much pain.
66 Then you are going," said he. “ I must,” replied I ;“ at home all my friends will be under apprehensions on my account.” right ; for they know that this is the retreat of robbers ; but wait a few moments." He then ordered a couple of horses to be saddled, and led me back to my seat.
“ Young man, said he, in a grave and solemn tone, I will keep the promise I gave you, and you shall know the history of
my life. I am the only son of a man of high rank in this kingdom; my father, who was very rich, expended large sums on my education, and I flatter myself that they were not thrown away. I shall pass over the early years of my life, which cannot have any interest for you, and shall begin my narrative with my leaving the academy. On my return, I. received promotion, and in a few years had the fairest prospect of being called to conduct the helm of the state. Insatiable
66 You are
pride swayed the bosom of my father; he loved me only because my progressive elevation was flattering to that pas sion. Such was my situation ; surrounded with brilliant prospects, I, arrogant boy, imagined that I could read the book of futurity, forgetful that the wisest of men cannot predict with certainty the events of the next minute. I saw a young female belonging to the lower class of the people. That inexplicable passion which has precipitated many a useful statesman, many a valiant warrior. from the pinnacle of glory, took entire possession of my heart. I threw myself at the feet of my father, and implored his consent to our union. • Are you mad ?' thàndered he, spurning me from him, ' a drab, from the scum of the people, my daughter-in-law ! rather could I see you and her on the gallows than at the altar.' What room had I now for hope ? Half a year passed away ; I saw her seldom, but my passion daily increased in violence. In more tranquil hours, I certainly advanced every possible objection that could be made against such an union; but what influence has cold reason over a heart replete with glowing passions ? Vanquished at length in this conflict, I fled with her to one of the remotest provinces of the kingdom, where the hand of the priest united us. With the little money I had taken with me I purchased a small farm. Here Rosalia and myself lived by the labour of our hands. These, these were halcyon days of my life ! Beneath the lowly roof of my cota tage I enjoyed greater happiness than the prince with his diadem, or the hero crowned with laurels. But let us hasten over these scenes. At the expiration of a year,
pressed a pledge of our love to my bosom, and for two more blissful years, continued to taste the delights of conjugal and paternal love, out of the cup of human felicity. One evening, on my return from the chase, 1 found my father at home with my wise. This spectacle excited sensations which it is impossible to express. Rosalia, penetrated with gratitude, was embracing his knees, my little boy was bathing his hand with tears of infantine love. Joy threw me senseless on his bosom, for his consent was alone wanting to complete the measure of my happiness. In a word, it was the greatest festival that filial love and gratitude ever celebrated. But pardon me, stranger, I scarcely know how to proceed. In three days my wife and child died of poison, given them by my father : and on the fourth died that father by the dagger of his son ! Adieu, stranger." VOL. II.
The following adventure, which has lately happened ai Mara, near Langres, would make no bad figure in a melodrama. A person passing through a wood towards night-fall, was stopped by a man, who presenting a pistol, demanded his money or his life; the traveller gave him twelve francs, declaring it was all he had about him. The robber took the money that was offered, and the traveller made off as fast as his legs could carry him; half dead with fright, yet happy at having got away so cheaply. He soon reached a farm-house, where, believing bimself to be in safety, he requested hospitality, after having related his unlucky adventure; imprudently adding, that he had contrived to save a considerable sum from the rapacity of the robber. The mistress of the house, who was at this time alone, offered him an asylum, but said he would be obliged to sleep in the hay-loft; this offer was accepted with gratitude, our traveller preferring an uncomfortable bed to dangerous rencontres. He had scarcely laid himself down in the hay-loft when he heard the master of the house ; the latter related to his wife, that fortune had not been very favourable to bim this time; that he had met with but one traveller, from whom he had got no more than twelve francs. From the circumstance of his narrative, his wife was persuaded that the person whom she had taken in, was the very same whom her husband had stopped; she informed him of it, and they agreed that during the night the man should go up into the hay-loft and push the traveller down, while he slept, and that the wife armed with an axe, should immediately despatch him. Very luckily, our traveller had not lost a word of this conversation; he kept himself upon his guard, and at the moment when the assassin mounted the ladder into the hay-loft, to execute his project, struck him a blow on the head, so that he fell quite stunned to the floor below, where his wife instantly cut off his head with her axe. The traveller fled to the neighbouring village, and gave information of the circumstance; the officer of police repaired to the spot, and the woman was arrested.
PARTICULARS OF THE BANDITTI OF CALABRIA AND THE
In a Letter from a modern Traveller, written in 1820. We should have proceeded through Calabria, in our route from Naples to Sicily, if we had not been deterred by a fear of the Brigands of Calabria, who here, as on the road from Rome to Naples, are the real masters of the country.
The existence of these bands of robbers is no problem but to those who are ignorant of the countries and the governments in question, and of the kind of men of whom these bands are composed. Thanks to the vigorous and wise measures adopted at a certain period, (during the possession of Italy by the French,) this disorder no longer afflicted the unhappy country, and the traveller no longer trembled in the centre of Europe, for the safety of his life or his liberty. But the evil has since returned, and has proceeded to a more enormous and incredible extent than ever.
These bands are chiefly composed of inhabitants of these countries, or disbanded soldiers, who were first driven to this course by want of employment and extreme distress, but who now find it a trade, which from day to day grows more and more lucrative-a trade of which the infamy falls less, undoubtedly, upon the men who pursue it than
government by whom it is protected, not only by the absence of all measures of suppression of the evil, but by direct capitulation which the two governments have signed with these robbers.
Concealed within the mountains bordering upon the great roads, the intrepidity, the coldness, and above all, the tactics of these men, too plainly betrayed the former profession of their leaders. They have their spies in the towns, in the Inns, and on the roads. The moment their prey presents himself, already acquainted with the value of the prize, they pour down upon him, and their number and resolution render resistance useless, and even extremely dangerous. These men, who, in fact, want nothing but your purse, are not generally so ferocious as their appearance would seem to announce. Never, or at least very rarely, do they proceed to acts of cruelty, except when their own personal safety demands such acts : in a word, they never kill but to avoid being killed.. As soon as they see the traveller's carriage approaching, they draw a strong cord across the road in front of him, and this either throws or stops the horses. One of the gang goes to the head of the horses, others cut the traces, and others seize the luggage and carry it off; meantime, two of them open the doors of the carriage, make the travellers descend, and, in the most profound silence, with their pistols at their breasts, keep them in awe, while others search their persons, and sometimes abridge their work by cutting the traveller's clothes by pieces from off his back.
All this is the business of a few minutes : and all this arrives regularly two or three times a month, in spite of pretended guards, placed from distance to distance, to escort ihe traveller.
Seven different strangers (of whom two were English, three French, and two Germans,) were stopped and robbed in this manner, during the last six months of my stay at Naples. One of the two Englishmen, an extremely interesting young man, whom I saw on the evening of his departure from Rome, died a few days after his arrival in Naples, in consequence of the illtreatment he had received.
At the period when I was travelling from Rome to Naples, several of these brigands, who ha en shut up for some time in a castle, were on the point of marching out, and actually did afterwards march out, in virtue of a capitulation signed by them and the government of the church. If the reader think I am dealing in fables, let him refer to the testimony of all the inhabitants of Rome, and to thirty thousand strangers who were witnesses of the fact.
I know that it will be deemed difficult of belief, but it is nevertheless true, that in the midst of Europe, in the centre of Italy, on the roads of Rome, Naples, and Calabria, the traveller runs a hundred times more risk, than the Christian passenger who sails along the coast of Barbary.
The banditti of Sicily, at least the men whom Brydone calls such, are scrupulous and honourable people, and very little to be feared, compared with those of whom I have been speaking. The Sicilian robber attacks or defends you, kills ders your being killed, according to the compact you male or neglect; their bands are true insurance companies; the policy once signed, the chances are thenceforth at their risk. More cruel and more fierce than the African pirate, the banditti of Rome, Naples, and Calabria, make not only your liberty but your life dependent on the payment of your ransom. By an audacity, which is shamefully suffered to show itself with impunity, they treat daily, with the relatives or friends of those who have fallen into their hands : a bill of exchange, extorted from the captive, is coolly presented by one of the robbers to his relations, or his banker, and the prisoner's head answers to the banditti for the payment. Twenty examples of this kind, known to all Italy, might be set down here, but I content my. self with the following, because of its interest.
On the hills which overlook Frescati, a town situated about three leagues from Rome, are the ruins of the famous Tusculum. In the midst of these ruins, rises a handsome modern house named Ruffinella, which belonged to Lucien Buonaparte. Robbers, at noon day, penetrate into the gardens of this dwelling. Lucien is walking there, sees them, and, guessing their design, flies to a pavilion where his family are assembled. His haste to open the door, hinders his attempt; and, to
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