« ElőzőTovább »
habited it, but many of the principal events in Florentine annals. Coats of arms admirably painted or carved in stone, the cross of the Church, and the lily of the family of Anjou of Naples, recall the past, the life of the great republic.
From The Fortnightly Review.
SECRET SOCIETIES IN THE TWO SICILIES.
IN Italy secret societies have, from the earliest times, found a congenial soil. The Senate of Rome, in the days when the Senate ruled the world, was baffled even under the shadow of the Curia by the stubborn endurance of sectaries whose persistence in braving death outwearied even the relentless severity of their judges. Later on the emperors were fain to wink at what they would not sanction and could not extirpate; and wherever the Roman citizen made himself a home he estab lished clubs and associations which circumvented if they did not violate the laws, de sodaliciis et collegiis. The guilds and companies of the Middle Age communes were based on the same principle of founding a State within the State, whose regulations should override the laws of the commonwealth. The mysterious Academy of Pomponius Liti, and later on the Society of the Arcadians and the Lincei of Rome, brought something of the same spirit of conspiracy into literature and science, as though it were impos
Those who have travelled most and resided in new settlements, confess to the depressing feelings of living in a country which possesses no history. Not the wild prairie, or the wide, trackless, undulating miles of mountain range, can long satisfy the human heart, which loves better to re-create the past than to imagine the future. It is most difficult to people, by playful or even vigorous poetic fancy, a new city which possesses no association; a people without a history can be only interesting to those pioneers of civilization who are hopeful of the future. To the Italian, every spot of ground possesses its own peculiar charm. One place is connected with some historic event, another has been sung by poets or painted by a master's hand; each church possesses its saintly legend, each castle its tale of interest. Nowhere but in Italy are to be seen so many glorious memorials of the days of chivalry and the most beauti-sible to discuss Dante without giving ful works of art and genius side by side. This is the peculiar charm and fascination of this land of glory, of poetry and song. Here, on the terrace of Vincigliata, we can realize the dream of the Italian life; on one hand the stern castle; on the other, gardens Horace might have envied, and beautiful Tusculums worthy of the Roman orator. The imagination here can revel in contrast; "the man and the steel, the soldier and the sword," may have laid waste the plain even to the city walls; but within those walls an inner glorious light was never extinguished the dignity of love was never quenched. If anywhere, in the City of the Lily we can understand the signification of the "beauty of holiThis same purer light fills our hearts in churches incomparable in their imposing grandeur and beauty, it glows in the verse of the poet, it expands itself over the canvas of the painter, it breathes in the noble creations of the sculptor. Truly has it been said that "the prospect from an elevation of a great city in its silence is one of the most impressive as well as the most beautiful we can ever behold." It is this that takes visitors again and again to the noble work of a distinguished Englishman, whose name will ever be associated with the grand feudal pile of Vincigliata.
passwords, or puzzle over problems of physics save under the sanction of signs of recognition. Early in the present century the Carbonari, the Sanfedisti and other similar societies, led back conspiracy to the more congenial fields of political intrigue; and ever since the establishment of constitutional Italy, sette have been the bugbear and the preoccupation of the executive.
"There is," said Massimo d'Azeglio, as wisely as epigrammatically, some instinct of civil war in the heart of every Italian ; " of civil war, as he might no less truly have added, based on intrigue and plotting. When his political aspirations are not forced to find expression in the manœuvres of oath-bound clubs, with secret passwords and midnight meetings, the Italian is no less ready to forward his social, commercial, or criminal purposes by similar illegal associations, which often baffle every effort of the executive to put them down. The Squadracce of Romagna, the Ragnalatori of Parma, the Cocca of Turin, the Bagarini of Rome, in their contests with the State are well able to hold their own; for in the law courts, where the issue is decided, the odds are all in their favor. "If," says the Opinione (October 26, 1879), speaking of the sette of the Marche, "a member commits a crime, his associates defend him by man
ufactured evidence, intrigues, and intimi- accurately enough, if somewhat cynically, dation; and the influence which they the general conception of the duties of the can bring to bear on witnesses, judge, and law; and where a sentimental penal code, jury is such that a conviction is seldom which actually fixes a close time in favor obtained. Besides this, the State has vol- of crime by establishing a ten years' preuntarily disarmed itself. The societies scription against prosecution for murder, retain the sanction of the death penalty, does not secure sufficient chances of esthe State has abandoned it. The execu- cape, juries-puzzle-headed or sympative, in harmony with public opinion and thetic, or over-weighted by the complex taking an impulse from the teaching of questions left to them-do the rest. men like Mancini and Pisanelli, has prac Neapolitan jurymen would think it tically abolished capital punishment. Nor almost a want of courtesy to return an unis this because an intelligible if untoward favorable verdict against the eloquent sentiment attaches an exaggerated value appeal of a distinguished lawyer." At the to the sanctity of human life. The Italian close of a notorious trial held at Cattagiof to-day is hardly more shocked at the rone, in Sicily, which lasted June 25mere shedding of blood than were his an- September 27, 1885, no less than seven cestors when they gloated over the massa- thousand three hundred and forty-seven cre of gladiators in the Colosseum. But questions were left to the jury, who took little compunction is felt or expressed little enough, one would be inclined to when runaway prisoners are shot dead at say-five days to consider their verdict. sight by the police, when day after day On this occasion, to be sure, twenty-two men are murdered in the streets of Rome out of thirty-one accused were found or Naples, when the blood of a hundred guilty of numerous acts of assassination, laborers sacrificed by the criminal care housebreaking, etc., yet the maximum senlessness of contractors stained the walls tence passed was twenty-five years' penal of the Finance Ministry of the new Capi- servitude. But to what lengths juries will tol. It is only when some sudden catas-go may be seen in the result of two trials trophe appeals to the imagination, or when halting Justice overtakes the criminal, and in cold blood exacts the penalty of life for for life, that death seems really terrible. When Misdea, the callous, blood-stained mutineer, was shot in 1883, the whole country was profoundly stirred at the withholding of the usual commutation of punishment, and the execution of the murderer was at last approved only because it was recognized that discipline must, at all hazards, be maintained in the army. The four thousand victims of knife and pistol in Italy are buried year by year without one-tenth of the lamentation that was made over the few hundred deaths at Casamiciola or the two companies that, were wiped out at Dogali.
Quannu ch'e la mortu bisogna pinsari a la vivu (" When a man is dead we must think of the living i.e., a live murderer is of more account than his dead victim), says a Sicilian proverb which formulates
The police are seldom at a loss to find or make an excuse for firing at suspected criminals. Read, for instance, the following account of an arrest near Vallombrosa, quoted, not for its singularity, but as being one of recent date: "Towards evening on the 13th inst. a body of ten police, after a day's search through the hills, contrived a successful ambush for their prey. Landi, one of the four highwaymen, as soon as he saw the enemy, fired. A brisk exchange of shots followed, which ended in the flight of the whole party save their leader, Maggi, who fell wounded by a bullet that would 'have pierced his heart had it not been turned by a copy of the Gerusalemme Liberata' that was in his pocket." (The Tribuna, August 19, 1887.)
in Rome reported in the official Rivista di Discipline Carcerarie for June, 1886. In one case a young maidservant abused the confidence of her master, and stole from his desk several thousand francs to make for herself a dowry, and thus induce a hesitating lover, who pleaded poverty for delay, to marry her. In the second an old man, to satisfy the extravagance of his young wife, had gradually misappropriated eight thousand francs from the funds of the Tiber Embankment Company, where he was employed as cashier. In both cases the facts were admitted; in both cases the jury returned a verdict of "acted under irresistible impulse," and the pris oners were acquitted.
In trials for murder, even when the prisoner is found guilty, "attenuating circumstances are allowed almost as a matter of course, and the old story of the lawyer who appealed to the jury to pity the poor orphan his client, who had killed his father and mother, is hardly a bur lesque on what passes daily in the criminal courts of Italy. What Barkhart says of the Middle Ages is true now: "Wherever a crime has been committed, even before the circumstances are known, the sympathies of all are involuntarily enlisted on the side of the accused."
The natural result of all this is the
• Professor Turiello, Governo e Governati, i., p. 337.
ghastly supremacy in the death-roll which | mainland, though the ultimate end of the Italy holds among all civilized countries. two is identical the overriding of the law In Naples, with its three hundred thou- of the land by anti-social conspiracies, and sand inhabitants-where, by the way, it the enrichment of their members by plunis said you can even now get a man assas-der-though both depend on murder as sinated for 51 francs- there were in their ultimate sanction, and are in close 1881 196 assassinations, 823 homicides, 20 alliance with brigandage where brigandage robberies with murder, and 9 parricides; exists, differ somewhat in their methods. and taking the whole country, the annual The Camorra, though it often dabbles in average of murder is sixteen times greater jobbery, and by playing into the hands of than is that of England. It is true that influential men finds protection in high the foreign visitor to Italy goes away with places, is, in its essence, mere vulgar robthe impression that the country is orderly, bery reduced to a system. The object of and that the risk to life is not greater the Maffia is, in the first place, to grasp at there than elsewhere, and as regards him- power, and by intimidation to wrest the self that impression is correct. The vast machinery of local government to its own majority of murders, save when the out- purpose, and is the more dangerous become of a drunken brawl, are due to one cause when once it has imposed itself by of two causes, neither of which concern terror it often acts under the forms of the tourist. They are the result either of law. Neither of the societies, however, jealousy or interesse trade disputes, in spite of what has been sometimes preshall we say. Such, for instance, was the tended, though they sometimes avail themcause of the terrible murder committed in selves of political discontent to further Rome last July, when a building contractor their own ends, has or ever had any politiwas shot dead at midday by a business cal purpose. rival in front of the general post-office amid a crowd of terrified onlookers; or, less frequently, they are the execution of sentences pronounced by secret societies for some infraction of their rules.
I have dwelt at some length on this abdication of government in favor of the criminal classes because here is the key of the situation. It is this that enables the members of secret societies, with a fair assurance of practical impunity, to terrorize enemies and punish traitors to their code; for even if a conviction is obtained, the ordinary Italian prison, without solitary cells, without enforcement of silence or hard work, is attractive rather than otherwise to the criminal classes. Even in the matter of food convicts are better cared for than are soldiers. When, in 1880, the military were called in to quell a riot among the prisoners at Bergamo caused by discontent with the quality of their bread, the papers noted without surprise or comment that the bread of the soldiers' rations was inferior to that served out to the convicts.
In Naples, and still more in Sicily, it has been well said, the distinguishing features of the Italian national character exist in their most accentuated form; and it is in the provinces of the old kingdom of the Two Sicilies that the operations of secret societies may be best observed. It is there that they are most openly, and it must be added most successfully, in conflict with the constituted authorities. The Maffia of Sicily, and the Camorra of the
The Camorra, it is said, was imported from Spain, and it is certain that when Sancho Panza banished from Barattaria the Mirone who asserted a prescriptive right to take toll of the winnings of gamblers in the island "hell," he had to deal with one of the best-known forms of the Neapolitan Camorra. So too the "younger brethren" of Monopodio's brotherhood, so humorously described by Cervantes, divided their booty under fixed rules, had the police in their pay, and undertook to inflict beatings and death for fees paid by their employers precisely as did the Camorristi of Naples in Bourbon times. It is by an extension of the term that Camorra is applied to a sort of tradesunionism or organized jobbery, that includes all classes, banding them together against any outsider. If the American politician is always ready to "grind an axe" for his fellow, the Neapolitan is no less convinced of the value of mutual accommodation. As his proverb says, “One hand washes the other." Ask a Roman lawyer to plead a cause in a Neapolitan court, and if he is an honest man he will refuse. "They are all Camorristi, lawyers, judges, and jury, and I should certainly lose my case.' Though the Camorra pervaded and pervades the whole of the two Sicilies, its palmy days are over, and it nowhere now exercises the absolute sway which it did before 1860 in the city, and especially in the prisons, of Naples. The confessions of Camorristi, fully confirmed by the evidence of political prisoners and
of jailers, are full of stories whose terrible | and melts insensibly into the clientele, realism make one's hair stand on end, and groups of factious, unscrupulous electors, cast a most lurid light on the mode in who look upon their votes simply as a which they converted the prisons into the source of income, and get in their candischools and lodging-houses of the society; date on the understanding that he shall electing a master in each prison who was share with them the plunder of the State able to correspond freely with his col- or the municipality. Both orders of the leagues, both in other prisons and at large, society are, however, in alliance, and they to initiate new members with the estab- cannot always be distinguished from each lished oaths and rites, to levy taxes on all other. When we hear of a town in the non-affiliated prisoners for the benefit of Basilicata where two citizens, communal himself and his subordinates, to pass sen- councillors, etc., were arrested for embeztences of death ay, and have them ex- zlement of the funds of a foundling hosecuted promptly and certainly on all pital, payments having been systematically who disputed his orders. Outside, the made on account of children long dead; system was the same; the exaction of of another in Benevento where the sin tithes by intimidation from all classes of daco is brother of the deputy and of the the population, with the punishment of local magistrate, his uncle is priest and death on those who resisted; and the schoolmaster, and a cousin is tax-collector population submitted meekly. If two men and communal secretary; of a third in played a game of cards in a tavern, the which, from 1875 to 1877, the sindaco Camorrista was there to take a tithe of the never called a meeting of the town council, winnings; the cabman paid a tenth of his but sent notes of imaginary meetings, fare, the porter of his wages; the customs meetings drawn up according to his fancy, were decimated at the harbor wharves, the to the prefetto, we are obviously in prestown dues at the gates. The extent of ence of the kid-glove Camorra, and know these depredations may be realized from a without further inquiry how these gentlesingle fact. On one day in December, men have secured their elections. When 1860, the total amount officially levied at we hear of another commune where there all the gates of Naples was IS. This was is a mutual-benefit society for trials, the going too far. Ninety Camorristi were members of which are bound, in case of a arrested. The next day 9,400 francs were suit between a member and a landlord, to collected. In 1862 martial law was pro- give false evidence as required, five or six claimed in Naples. Signor Areta, the being chosen by lot to appear in court and chief magistrate, acted with the utmost recite their lesson, it is equally clear that vigor, and before the close of 1862 some the members belong to the Camorra of two hundred and ninety of the leading the lower order. But it is not so easy to members were arrested, and the old soci- classify the associations of farmers, whose ety-with its tyrannical rules and avowed operations were brought to light near extortion, accepted as inevitable by the Naples in 1880, having a common chest Bourbon government and winked at by its to support evicted members, and acting police was finally broken up. But as on a common determination to allow no Signor Villari wrote (in his "Lettere Me- land to be taken at higher rentals than ridionali," 1877): "Camorra is bred in the what were agreed upon by the unionists. blood, and cannot be eradicated by the In these latter cases the Camorra has imprisonment of its members at any par- allied itself with the discontent due partly ticular time;" and though the organiza- to the agricultural crisis and the fall in tion is now looser, though fraud is oftener prices of produce, partly to other causes. employed than force, the aim of the asso-In many of the smaller communes of the ciation is still plunder, and the sanction on which it relies in the last resort is still death.
Since 1862 the Camorra has been divided into the Camorra alta, or, as it is sometimes called, "Camorra in kid gloves," and the Camorra bassa. The latter is recruited mainly from the prisons and bagnios of the State, and lives by thieving and vulgar extortion. The former busies itself mainly with elections and jobbery, using when violence is needed members of the lower Camorra as its tools,
Apennines the appropriation of communal land at nominal rentals by the ruling families has led to something like a revival of feudalism. The angry discontent thus caused, though often checked by fear, finds expression sometimes in the burning of woods and crops, or in riots, which, though seldom spoken of, are to the full
How these clientele work, how they "run" elections, how the absence of public spirit and the withleft them in almost undisputed possession, may be read drawal of the most upright men from political life has in Minghetti's work, "I Partiti Notitici."
as serious as those in Ireland. Petty | this definition does not say all; add that tyrants, resembling Mr. Forster's "village it is accepted as the inevitable even by ruffians" in this, at least, that they serve as figure-heads in the social war, use the blind rage of the peasants to serve their own ends, and are themselves instruments of the Camorra alta, which under this aspect can hardly be distinguished from the Maffia of Sicily.
that though many of the clerks who already draw salaries have quite given up going to their offices. A good thing too, for the municipal buildings would be quite too small to accommodate them all." (Tribuna, August 19, 1887.) It is not of course asserted that the sindaco is a member of the Maffia; granted that he is not, his conduct only shows the more clearly how completely the spirit of the Maffia pervades the country.
honest men, that it imposes its code on the weak, and resists the government even more by the inertia of passive resistance than by overt acts of violence, and Proteuslike, evades the arm of the magistrate as it does the definition of the student. It would take a volume to specify all the If the Camorra has been weakened on modes in which, without violating the letthe mainland, the sister society, the Maffia ter of the law, the Maffia can make things of Sicily, is still as powerful as ever. comfortable for its subordinates. One "Men of all classes and ranks belong to instance taken at hazard must suffice. it," says the blue-book on Sicily published "The sindaco of Palermo, taking the in 1877, "and government has always been presence of cholera as a pretext, has nombeaten when it fought the Maffia." "Maf-inated a whole batch of new officials, and fia," we read in the official report on the agricultural condition of Sicily published only three years ago, "though often apparently extinct, always breaks out again." Perjury ordered by the Maffia is common in our courts.' Professor Turiello ("Governo e Governati," 1882) quoting with approval a letter of Prince Galati, says: "Though murders are now seldom necessary the rule of the Maffia is not less absolute. The comparative fewness of murders is really a bad sign. It proves the complete subjection of the population to secret societies; even if the aristocratic Maffia has often sacrificed its instruments, Maffia in high places has never been even vigorously attacked." "There is a widespread conviction," says the well-informed | Signor Alongi,* who, as member of the Sicilian police, is hardly likely to disparage the power of the executive, "that law is less to be feared than the Maffia. Many rich men are persuaded that either to belong to the Maffia or to keep on good terms with it is an absolute necessity for them."
If we look below the surface we shall find that the Maffia is to a great extent a survival from the Middle Ages, the outcome of the relations between feudal superior and retainer, relations on which all social and political life continued to be based in Sicily till the first quarter of the present century; in part an expression of that exaggerated individualism which, if common throughout the kingdom, is nowhere so strongly marked as in Sicily. It is the Calabrian who on the mainland most closely resembles the Sicilian, and it is a Calabrian proverb that says, Quanno This evidence as to the power of | niscianu m'avantu m'avantu cu—“ When the institution is so overwhelming that no one praises me I praise myself." "A nothing further need be added on that French mob in revolution days," said Siscore. If now it is asked what is meant gnor T. Mamiani, "shouts Who will guide by Maffia, it will be found that few, even us?' but in Italy the cry most heard is, among Sicilians, are agreed as to the exact Follow me!" for each individual is thormeaning of the term. Perhaps the most oughly convinced of his own ability to satisfactory definition is that given in the lead.". "If," said a typical southerner to blue-book of 1877, from which I have me, speaking in all seriousness of a realready quoted. "The Maffia is not pre-form he thought needful, "if the ministry cisely a secret society, but rather the development and blossom of arbitrary violence directed to criminal ends of every sort. It is the instinctive, brutal, sordid solidarity that unites against the State, the laws, and the constituted authorities, all who are determined to live and thrive not by honest work, but by violence, by fraud, and by intimidation." But even
La Maffia. G. Alongi, 1887.
does not yield I will get myself elected deputy, summon the constituenti, and reform the constitution." And he was convinced of his right and ability to do so. One result of this trait is that while there is in Sicily much loyalty to the king, there is no loyalty to the institutions. The ties of blood and partisanship are so strong as to leave no room for mere political alliances. The admired leader is not the statesman of sagacity or even of persua