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and even among the ruthless he had been remarkable for his violence. But he suddenly resolved to accept the terms of the Government, and to secure something more than his pardon he performed his part of the contract with gratuitous prodigality. The redoubted chiefs of the gang were his brother and cousin, with whom he had hitherto lived on friendly terms. Early one morning this candidate for mercy rode to the door of the Delegate at Terracina with the heads of his two kinsmen at his saddle-bow, and was received again into the pale of society. His demeanour and appearance bore no traces of his previous history. His countenance was dull and heavy, rather than ferocious, and, contrary to all melodramatic propriety, his eyes were light and his hair reddish. In his gay livery and silver badge he looked like the smart chasseur' of an ambassador rather than the reformed brigand, defending the country he had once plundered against the associates he had so signally betrayed. Our countrymen endeavoured to engage him in conversation, but without success; he had no facility in expressing himself, and his silence was determined, if not sulky. He did not, however, seem to be labouring under any humiliating consciousness of the feelings his presence must excite. He appeared to be rather one of those
whose consience, seared and foul,
Feels not the import of their deeds.' And yet—strange anomaly !-his honesty in his new capacity had been unsuspected, and his conduct in other respects irreproachable.
For years a method of warfare was adopted, too cruel to be excused even by the weakness and perplexity of the government. The peasants, as they left their villages to go to their work, were searched, and those on whom was found a double ration of bread were summarily hanged. It is true their sympathies were all with the brigands, to whom many of them were related, and whom on the slightest provocation they were ready to join. But nothing can be conceived more cruel than the position in which these poor people were placed between two fires,--hanged by the police if the prohibited bread was discovered, starved or beaten by the brigands as traitors if they ventured to proceed with only a single ration.
It was by this system of starvation that Gasparone was captured many years ago. He and his followers had taken refuge on a conical hill, covered with wood, near Frosinone. The troops dared not penetrate his fastness ; but every avenue of escape was guarded. A Capuchin, who enjoyed the confidence of these
desperadoes, was employed as mediator, and so formidable was the possible energy of their despair, that, though they were known to be starving, Government accepted their surrender on condition of sparing all punishment but confinement. Gasparone was sent to the prison at Cività Vecchia ; and there this monster, stained with every atrocity which can disgrace humanity, "unfit to live or die,' for years dragged out his torpid existence in the enjoyment of such sensual gratifications as the ill-judged liberality of travellers, who made him the object of a morbid curiosity, enabled him to procure.
Mr. Hillard, when it was proposed to him to visit this ruffian, very properly declined, and he is rewarded by having escaped imposition. The real Gasparone is long since dead. But the sbirri, unwilling to lose such a source of income, were in the habit of pointing out another convict as the celebrated brigand chief. They thus secured their fees, gratified the strangers, and probably did no great injustice to the character of Gasparone's substitute.
There is no doubt that since Machiavelli preferred his famous accusation the Church is greatly "reformed in its head and in its members ;' and to what extent the religion of Rome, as it is exhibited and administered at the seat of its empire, is still chargeable with the social ills of the country, is a grave question which we can barely touch upon at present. We do not understand Mr. Hillaru's professed horror for Protestant cant, and • * Protestant prejudices.' Cant and prejudice, on whatever side they are employed, are always objectionable, and all crude speculations founded on imperfect knowledge as to the working of the Roman Catholic religion, whether made in the spirit of indiscriminate condemnation or (what seems to us much more common in the present day) of mawkish and affected admiration, are equally calculated to mislead; but nothing is gained by exchanging one set of prejudices for another. In describing some of the superstitious ceremonies which he witnessed, Mr. Hillard protests that the Italian peasant's devotion is not all formalism.' No; God be thanked ! it is not. The practical working of the Romish discipline, both in the upper and the lower classes of society, when a fair specimen of it is exhibited without any disturbing causes to pervert it, is simply this :- To keep the people as morally good as they will bear to be kept, and where their obedience to the moral law stops, formalism steps in to do the rest. A good parish priest rules his fock much as a judicious schoolmaster manages his boys-working the willing and pressing hard on the conscientious, on one hand; on the other, making the best he can of the turbulent and unruly, but especially avoiding an open rupture and such severity as
may drive them into actual rebellion. He will lead them to obey the law of Christ if he can, and if not, at least to subunit to the Church, and work out the balance of their account in purgatory. On this subject the Protestant and the Romanist are for ever disputing without ever joining issue or even understanding each other. The Romanist appeals triumphantly to the efforts
. which are made by the Church and its teachers in favour of morality, and he speaks the truth. The Protestant points out the many devices for keeping the sinner within the pale of the Church, and saving him in his sins if he will not be saved from them, and he too speaks nothing but the truth. In the last century, when the system of cavalieri serventi' prevailed throughout the Peninsula (we speak not of the present time, when a great change is observable in the feelings of society on that point), what was the conduct of the Church? We know that confession must be made every Easter, and we know that absolution cannot be given except on bonâ fide promises to discontinue the sin ; by what ecclesiastical fiction was it managed that the unsanctioned tie should be maintained unbroken for years, perhaps for life, by persons who lived decorously and even devoutly in the communion of the Church? It matters not how the question is answered. Yet it would be unfair to question that the Church does exert herself to maintain the morality of her flock. In fact, she struggles where she can, and where the world is too strong for her, she commits the grievous sin of accommodating herself to its laxity. During the present weakness of the state, it is chiefly the influence of the clergy that keeps the rural population industrious and peaceable. For in Italy the authority of the priest is exerted in aid of the law. The cold-blooded assassin there does not confide to his spiritual director all the steps by which he means to entrap his victims. If he did we are convinced some remedy would be found without appealing to the Pope's dispensing power. We do not see how every communication made to the priest can be invested with the sanctity of the sacrament, nor how it is possible to make an intended crime the subject of confession. To intend a crime is a sin, and may be confessed, and must be renounced before absolution is given, but if the non-penitent refuses to renounce it, we are confident, without wandering further into the labyrinth of casuistry, that the theologians of Rome would soon find some way of stopping the intended mischief, and of saving the confessor from the horror of seeing day after day the intended victims without daring to give a warning, and of watching for the moment of execution in all the oppressive impotence of a nightmare; and so too would the hierarchy of Ireland if they
did not hold their influence over their unruly flocks more dear than every other consideration.
· In fact, the parroco has no power, except in articulo mortis, to absolve for murder and other crimes of the deepest dye; all these must be referred to the consideration of the penitentiaries. The sin which in rural districts he is most constantly called on to combat or forced to yield to is dishonesty, to which the metayer system holds out a constantly recurring temptation. The cultivator being bound to divide the produce with the proprietor in certain proportions, is for ever attempting to deceive the factor or agent, and the struggle often ends in a collusion between both to cheat the owner. The factor grows rich, and the absent noble sinks every year deeper into debt. With the exception of this plague-spot, the peasantry are a moral, frugal, and self-denying people. Their faith is unbounded. With noble impulses they unite fierce passions, which when roused may lead to deeds of wild extravagance, but which in the course of their toilsome, uneventful lives, often leave their owner at peace, and never warn him by their uneasy throes of the volcano which is slumbering in his breast.
In the education of the upper classes the influence of the clergy is disadvantageously felt; but the remedy is neither ready nor safe. To place education at the present moment into other hands would be (not as a logical but as a practical consequence) to make it professedly irreligious. In most provinces of Italy the young man of rank is consigned from the nursery to a priest, who teaches him little, but dogs him as his shadow. He is never permitted to think or act for himself : he is kept from all contact, as far as may be, with the world, and then at twenty-one years of age is plunged at once into its dangers and temptations. The public education, speaking generally, is better, but it is marred by the same fault which infects all systems conducted by the Romish priesthood—that of a too jealous inspection, a too constant interference. system of espionage is established ; tale-bearing and delation are encouraged, and no independence of character can be developed. From the over-care to root up weeds, the good seed is not allowed to grow; weeds, however, will spring up, and under such a system of culture they are apt to be of the meanest and most creeping kind. Happily there is a certain degree of the vis medicotrix in the mind as well as the body, else it would be difficult to understand how, with such a plan of education, the Italian character could possess those qualities which we happy to recognise in it, or how Italian society could boast so many well qualified to adorn and elevate it.
In material improvement the progress has of late years been prodigious, though it must often cause a pang to the lovers of the picturesque. Naples is now blazing with gas, though some may be still living who admired the extreme ingenuity with which Padre Rocco,* in order to illuminate the darkest and most dangerous corners, put up images to the Virgin, and persuaded the faithful to burn candles before them. Omnibuses have superseded the corricoli and other characteristic carriages of the country. Railways and suspension-bridges have defaced some of the most beautiful and romantic spots of Europe. Mr. Hillard's sympathies are all in favour of progress ; but on whichever side the traveller pleases to turn sentences, the Italians will not sacrifice their comfort to our notions of beauty; and, unluckily for us, those relics of ancient forms and manners which we view with so much interest, they associate with the humiliating idea of backwardness in the race of civilisation.
Mr. Hillard gives a chapter on the English in Italy, and while we accept his praise with thanks it may seem unreasonable to carp at his mild censure, but there is a point on which we should like to set our countrymen right with so candid a critic. There are, we acknowledge it, two faults, or rather misfortunes, which pursue the generality of our travellers wherever they go. Shyness, and want of animal spirits—and these not being recognised for what they are, are made the ground of heavier accusations. The want of animal spirits prevents an Englishman exhibiting that air of enjoyment, that genial cheerfulness, which invites intercourse, and consequently it passes for pride or dullness. His shyness deprives him of presence of mind, and prevents him, though full of the best intentions, from saying or doing the right thing at the right moment. His diffidence torments him with a perpetual dread of being intrusive. Exclusive' is a word which applies to English society in a very different sense. Every society becomes exclusive when it is too numerous. But to call an Englishman exclusive, because he is sitting alone in the restaurant, or remains silent at the table d'hôte, is a mistake. If Mr. Hillard ever comes amongst us again, let him only try the experiment of addressing the first proud and exclusivelooking solitary whom he meets, and if he encounters a rebuff let him plead in his defence that he has been misled by the too partial nationality of the Quarterly Review.'
Mr. Hillard has the great merit of feeling the vast extent of his subject, and the inability of any one writer to grasp more
* A Dominican friar, whose popularity with the mob was unbounded. He was in the pay of the government; and in a popular tumult could restore order better than a whole regiment of guards.