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The brigand is bent on pluuder ; he took up the pious task, the brigauds' robs his victim or carries him off to the fared sumptuously every day, and at mountains, not from ill will, but simply the end of three months there was with the object of extorting a beavy nothing for it but to let the thirty out
The Corsican would scoru to of prison agaiu. On another occasion work on these lines. He kills his man their focks were seized, and publicly because he hates him, because he has sold by auction. A few nights later been injured by him, because he is the the brothers descended from their rocky enemy of his clan. And then he takes home and quietly drove all the animals to the macchi and becomes a bandit - back again. The imprudeut purchasers one, that is, who is under the ban’ of were not so foolish as to go to the Vale the law.”
of Pentica in order to reclaim their The younger Bellacoscia, Jaques, it purchase money. is said, has a spice of the “ brigand ” in In one sense the bandit governs by him too. He has made himself rich at terror, because his safety depends upon the expense of his neighbors, and is it. However popular he may be, he hated as well as feared ; but such takes care to make it known that anymercenary crime is extremely rare in thing like treachery will be most cerCorsica. The mere fact of being an tainly avenged ; and, as " assassin” is no dislionor at all, and guard himself against a bullet, this an assassin like Antoine, who has con- knowledge makes it very difficult to trived during forty years to kill all his obtain a conviction, even though the enemies and yet evade the pursuit of criminal be taken red-handed in the justice, is a hero to be respected and act. During the elections of 1881, admired. Thus when he decided to there were sixty people assembled in give himself up, the first thing the gen- the public place of Palneca. A certain darmes did was to fall upon his neck man, on his way to vote, mounted the and embrace him on both cheeks, in steps of the mairie.
Another man, token of amity. His journey to Bastia armed with a gun, stood on some steps was a sort of triumphal progress ; he just opposite ; both, therefore, in full was welcomed and congratulated on all view of the crowd below. The man sides, and there was but one man in with the gun took aim and deliberately Bastia who did not rush to shake hands shot the other through the neck. The with him, and that was the command- judge found it impossible to obtain a ant of the fortress.
single deposition. The sixty witnesses It is this popularity which has en- had no mind to get into trouble with abled him so long to elude all attempts either the assassin or his family, and at capture. On four separate occasions even the wounded man protested when have both Jaques and Antoine been he recovered that he had “no idea as condemned to death par contumace. It to who could have fired the shot.” One is true that of late the authorities have bullet had been enough for him, and tacitly agreed to let them alone. It be- he had no wish to expose himself to came somewhat ridiculous to go on a second ! The prosecution therefore condemning to death and imprisonment had to be abandoned. men who were in such entire enjoy- In the first excitement after a crime ment of both life and liberty. But for has been committed, many will come many years the gendarmes were con- forward to testify, “ They heard the stantly on their track, and every sort of quarrel, they saw the blow.” But device was employed to take them or when the day of trial arrives, they have starve them out. With this idea some had time to reflect ! It is too dangerthirty of their nearest relations were ous ; they must have been mistaken arrested on the charge of complicity ; they can remember nothing !" A case it was known that they were regularly occurred only last November. A crime supplying the Bellacoscias with food. had been committed, and the principal But it was no good ; the next-of-kin witness refused to speak. The judge
made a solemo appeal to him : We said President Levis, "the greater know that you were present, and, how- part of his life, and during all those ever painful it may be, it is your years he had only occasion four times bounden duty to tell us what took to pass a sentence of death." place.” The young fellow stood silent “And in how many cases, was it for a moment; then lifting his head, he deserved ?" demanded Chief Justice said: “Well, if it is my duty, I will do Cadella Baye. it. But” - touching himself signifi- “Oh!" returned the president, with cantly on the breast — “I know that I a careless laugh, “pur vingtaines !” would not give two coppers for my (You might count them by twenties !) skin !"
(Je ne donnerais pas deux sous To show how strongly the sympathies pour ma peau.) The bandit got off of the people are with the assassin, the with a few months' imprisonment, and following case may be cited. A short in less than a year the faithful witness while ago a murder was committed in was dead.
the course of a drunken brawl; and it For the same reason that the wit- was rumored that the authorities had nesses will not speak, the juries will got wind of the affair. "Be off ! Save not convict. · Nay, even the judges,” thyself! The gendarmes are coming!” said M. Calella Baye significantly, the excited bystanders cried. But the “fatigue themselves in order to find murderer was too tipsy to realize the out extenuating circumstances." (Se situation and obstinately declined to fatiguent pour trouver des circonstances move; so the company fell upon him, exténuantes.) A notorious example of and pushed him out, and as he still this took place only the other day. lingered, they actually beat him with Two families bad quarrelled, and a their sticks to make him sheer off beformal defiance had been exchanged. fore the gendarmes could arrive. Prosper Merimée, in his vivid Corsican According to Corsican notions, it novel, “ Colomba,” calls the vendetta would be a cowardly act to refuse shelthe “ duel" of the poor. “Guard thy- ter, bread, or powder to a bandit. For, self," _“I am on guard !” Such are after all, what is the bandit in his the sacramental words exchanged by eyes ? Simply a man who has been two enemies before they are at liberty wronged, and who, having failed to to lie in wait for each other's life. On obtain justice, has taken the matter this occasion one of the adversaries into his own hands. With his prowas by no means an expert with his found mistrust in the administration of carbine, but from the moment the the law, every Corsican feels that one enmity was declared, he might be seen day, sooner or later, he may find himday after day practising at a mark set self in the same position. up against an oak-tree that stood near " Among the peasant class," I said, the public road. At the end of three that is perhaps intelligible ; but how weeks, when he had, in his own esti- is it that an educated man, holding a mation, acquired sufficient skill in the high position, like M. Arena, should art of murder, he lay in wait for his condescend to receive and dine with enemy, and shot him as he passed be an assassin like this Bellacoscia ?” neath the very oak which had done " Ah! There comes in the question, such good service to the assassin dur- of politics, and the spirit of clan? ing his preliminary course of study. which plays so serious a part in all our Nothing could have been more cold- public institutions."! blooded and deliberate than this act ; These bandits are, in fact, the most yet the court chose to consider that powerful political agents. The electhe original provocation was a suffi- tions for the Council General are at: ciently extenuating circumstance, and this moment going on, and Arena's! the murderer got off with a penalty of brother is a candidate for the commune only four or five years.
of Bocagnano peopled almost entirely “My father was a judge at Ajaccio," I by Bellacoscia's numerous relations..
As chief of the clan, he can dispose of either for life or property ; he had no nearly every vote in Bocagnano, and chance in the battle of life save by the seat is practically his, to give to allying himself to some powerful family whom he pleases. On this occasion he that could make his interests respected. has been good enough to nominate The more numerous the clan, the more Arena's brother, and having seen him its influence would be felt; therefore safely elected, he naturally comes now the Corsican glories in the number of to Arena to solicit a free pardon for his cousins, as he would in the strength bimself in return.
of his right arni. This is by no means a solitary in- Nor has a century of French rule stance of a bandit interfering with the done much to improve the situation. elections. There is a certain ex-mayor If justice is no longer sold, it is at least at Ajaccio, dismissed for fraudulent affected in every department by this transactions, who is nevertheless a all-pervading spirit. The mayor's, magpower much to be deferred to. He istrates, assessors — nay, even the nacan not only dispose of one hundred tive judges themselves - are so imbued votes, but he has also two bandits in his with it, that it has engendered in them family, a brother-in-law and a son. a sort of “ false conscience," and the
The Corsican loves not work, neither ordinary rules of right and wrong arc is he greedy for gold; but he is ambi- merged in the one paramount duty of tious, an eager politician, keenly desir- upholding the interests of the clan. ous of place and power, of anything, in This was shown during the construcshort, that may set him above his tion of the railway by the curiously fellow-men. The word “politician," varying valuations of the land through however, must be understood in a local which it was to pass. The clan of sense. The questions that agitate the Casabianca was then in power. The Continent have small concern for him ; jury were selected by a Council Genhis politics begin, and end with the eral presided over by a Casabianca. triumph or aggrandizement of his clan. The father of this Casabianca was The chief of a clan has no sinecure! their foreman, and they were assisted He is expected on all occasions to exert in their deliberations by a third Casabi. himself for the interests of his clients. anca, who had been appointed solicitor If an adherent wishes for a post, it is to the company. Needless to say that the duty of the chief to obtain it for the verdict of such a jury was given him ; if he has incurred some fine or in accordance with the " conscience of penalty, the chief must use his influ- the clan,” that degenerate conscience ence to get it remitted. His clients in which pronounces everything legitireturn (as to public matters) will obey mate that can tend to the profit of his lead implicitly. He may be a Re- one's friends. Thus a certain piece publican to-day, he may turn Monarch- of land was valued at two thousand ist to-morrow, but it will make no francs ; it belonged to an enemy, and difference in their allegiance, nor will the price was reasonable enough ; but he lose a single follower thereby ; it is the adjoining plot of land belonged to a an understood thing that what he has friend, and though it was all but simdone, he bas done for the good of the ilar in quality as in extent the jury clan, and as in former times they would adjudged the proprietress no less than have followed him to the field of battle, thirteen thousand francs ! so they will follow him to the ballot- The spirit of clanship permeates the box to-day.
Corsican's daily life. In every village The spirit of clan first took its there are two clans, the good and the rise during centuries of abominable bad, mutually detesting each other, misgovernment. Under the infamous always on the watch to take each other rule of the Genoese, justice was not at a disadvantage. The good clan is administered, it was sold. For an iso- the one in power, or, in other words, lated individual, there was no security that which is most numerous ; but in
most cases the numbers are so nearly A certain man had got into money balanced that three or four deaths on difficulties, and applied for help to the one side, or the return of half-a-dozen Committee for Charitable Assistance at absentees on the other, might be suffi- Ajaccio. He produced official papers cient to turn the scale. Then at the testifying that he was left with next ensuing election the position daughter newly born."
His only would be reversed, and the bad clan daughter happened to be just thirty-five would become the good.
years of age ; but then he was a friend These elections are a constant source of the mayor's ! Occasionally these of excitement. There are the elections frauds are found out, as in the case of... for the Couucil General (or local Par- a certain youth who desired altogether liament) sitting at Ajaccio, and there to escape the prescribed term of miliis the election for the four deputies tary service, and was promptly furrepresentative of Corsica at Paris, and nished with a false certificate to the there are also the municipal elections. effect that he was “the eldest son of Moreover, the electoral lists are revised a widow." The gendarmerie had their every year in the month of January, suspicions — possibly they may have and at these times great is the agitation been put up to it by one of the rival in every village, and endless are the clan. Anyhow, they took occasion to tricks resorted to by the rival candi- call, and found the “ orphan" sitting dates for place and power.
at dinner with his father and mother For instance, the mayor will forget, and a brother several years older than for two or three years, to register the himself. This was unfortunate, of birth of his enemy's son. Then when course, but matters are not usually that son, arrived at mauhood, presents looked into so closely ; the Corsican himself to be inscribed on the electoral naturally loves intrigue, and has always lists, there will be a dispute as to his a fair chance of success. age, which, by a little ingenuity, may It may be easily imagined what an be prolonged till all chance of exercis- excitement all this plotting and countering his privilege for that year will be plotting adds to the village life, and
On the other hand, if the elec- what a daily interest it is for the village tion is a close one, it is easy, by a politicians of either side to meet and slight alteration of the register, to ante- discuss their affairs. There is always date the birth of any well-grown youth something new to talk over, some new belonging to the friendly clan, so as to grievance over which to grumble, or give him the privilege of citizenship triumph wherein to rejoice ; some fresh before his time.
humiliation to be inflicted the
enemy, or some intrigue to be set It is a grand thing to be a member afoot whereby to gain a vote, or lure of the Council General; an excellent over a discontented adherent from the thing for a clan to have a juge de paix other side. among its members. But the post of During a ten days' driving tour we all others to be desired is that of mayor. passed through many Corsican villages, Each mayor is a sort of little king in and often had occasion to notice this his own domain, and the possession of sort of out-door meetings; the first "the seal” enables him to give an offi- group, perhaps, beneath the spreading cial sanction to all kinds of irregulari- chestnuts at the entering in of the vilties. Thus, if it be inconvenient to a lage street; the second where the road friend to pay his taxes, the mayor will widened in front of the mairie or the provide him with a certificate of indi- church. Lounging on the wall, enjoygence. It would be useless for one of ing the fresh air and sunshine, no the opposite clan to appeal for a similar doubt, but neither asleep nor dozing, indulgence. However poor, it would like the Neapolitan lazzaroni ; making most certainly be decided that he was way for the carriage but generally with very well able to 6 pay up."
the air of having been interrupted in
some important and interesting couver-them set forth clearly why it is that sation.
there are so many crimes. The men of either party will live in The reason is threefold : the same village for years, and never First, the mal-administration of jusspeak; nor will they take any notice of tice. each other, save to exchange a mutual Second, the spirit of clanship, which scowl as they pass. Sometimes even it engendered, and which uow fosters the hostile factions will not walk on the that injustice in its turn. same side of the street. In “ Colon- Third, the laxity in enforcing the ba;” Prosper Merimée relates how one licensing laws with regard to the car. clan appropriated the north and east riage of arms. sides of the public square, while their In many parts of the island every opponents never crossed it except by fourth man we saw carried a gun. The the west and south ; and he describes pig-driver followed his pigs with a carthe commotion aroused in every breast bine over his shoulder; the peasant, when the hero returns after some years eating his dinner by the roadside, carved absence, and, totally obli us the his bread and cheese with a knife that local etiquette, is seen unconsciously was practically a dagger. Our trusty walking upon his enemy's side of the driver, apparently the most peaceable way. Heads are thrust out of every of men, caught sight of a wood-pigeon window, the gossips run together, when we were passing through the for“What can this portent mean? Is est of Aitone ; le turned to snatch there to be a shameful reconciliation up his greatcoat, and pulled from the after all these years ? Or rather, oh, pocket thereof a pistol ready loaded. glorious thought ! is it not a studied Given, an excitable people, a quarrel insult ? , .. à challenge thrown out always ready to break forth, and a the very day, nay, almost the very hour weapon always at hand, and the result of our chief's returu, showing that our of the equation may be reckoned upou ancient wrongs are not forgotten, but with tolerable certainty. that the vendetta is to be pursued as M. Cadella Baye was appointed to keenly as it was in his father's time?" the chief justiceship in the autumu of Such a trifle as this may lead to a whole 1891. He told us that on the very day series of assassinatious. Where the of his first arrival in Corsica he heard a minds of men are kept in a constant noise in the street, and put his head state of irritation, it needs but a spark out of the window. Two men to kindle the ever-smouldering embers having a violent altercation, and after of hatred into fame. A dog shot in a the mutual abuse had gone on for a vineyarıl was the cause of an outbreak certain time, one of the two whipped between the rival families of Tafani out his knife and stabbed the other, and Rochini, which caused the death of " there, in the public street of Bastia, no less than eleven victims ; but behind by daylight, under my very eyes."
; the petty incident cited, in the act of “ And what happened ?” “Ohi, pothaccusation, as the “motive" of the ing! nobody took any notice; the crime, there was the concentrated es wound was not fatal, but it might have sence of years of accumulated rage., been.? • But how is it these things Bourde says that in some of the villages do not get into the newspapers ?' in Corsica he had seen men who, by “ Well,” replied a journalist of Ajaccio the incessant persecution of their ene- to whom the question was addressed, mies, were wrought up to such a state partly from a sort of local patriotism ; of excitement that they were positively we do not desire to expose our wounds fearful to look upon. He adds that he to the hostile criticism of strangers. has read several recent works “ On the Again, we not unfrequently receive a Criminality of Corsica,” but that they letter on these occasions couched some. bave all the same fault. They none of what in the following terins : 'Sir,