Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[graphic]

countries, afraid of it. The movement them, will not put out the fires of just of the Tuscan trecciaiuole or straw. wrath under cruel oppression which plaiters has been worthy of much burn within them. more attention than it has received. The great anomaly of government It has been momentarily quieted; but in Italy is, that the present form of it is a fire covered down, not put out, Italian government having been and its incendiary power is alarming created by revolution, is obliged (to for its cause is just.

secure its own stability) to treat revoThe trecciaiuole are all women of the lutionary doctrines as a crime. The peasantry, whose industry has been revolt of Parma, in the present month ruined by two causes: one, the im- of July, at the slaughter by the poportation of cheap machine-made hats lice of Odoardo Cassinelli, is precisely from England; the other, the inter- in motive and feeling like the various vention of the middleman between revolts which were headed by Foscoli, them and their employers.

Poerio, Garibaldi, and other patriots, Twenty years ago all these women of which the anniversaries are celeworked at home, and disposed of their brated with enthusiasm in the same plaiting themselves; now the straw moment as any attempt at imitation factory absorbs most of them, and the of them is chastised by cavalry rest, who are peasants plaiting in the charges and musketry-fire. This conintervals of other work, are the prey tradiction constitutes a false position of the go-between, who buys up all which is, as I have often said before they plait for the factory. When we this, an ever-open wound in the body think that a straw hat of the rudest politic. It is impossible to say with kind takes two women a day to sew any consistency that revolt is a crime and shape, and that these two only in Italy, when it is entirely to revolt receive twopence-halfpenny to be di- that the existence of Italy as a united vided between them for the day's nation is alone due. The fury of the work, their protests must appear very

Parma crowd at the murder of this natural. The sister industry of flask- luckless citizen is every whit as natweaving is similarly paid, and fifteen ural as the indignation which conflasks are the lowest number received vulsed other generations in Parma as the day's work of two women. and many other cities, at similar offiMeantime the factory-owners and cial assassinations in the days of the middlemen both make rapid fortunes. Austrians and the Bourbons. The demands of these workers are ex- The steps taken now by government tremely moderate as yet; but their to suppress these demonstrations may wrongs are great, and not to be be necessary; of course, no governlightly discounted as possible revolu- ment can tolerate disorder and remain tionary forces. As they marched in itself respected; but the fact remains, compact bodies along the Tuscan and makes the especial weakness of roads this year, when the hedges were every Italian government, that it is odorous with honeysuckle, they bore thus obliged to persecute the very an ominous likeness to the women principles by which the nation, as a who marched down to Versailles a modern nation, has been called into hundred years ago. Whenever there being. If the populace resents being be revolution in Italy the women of shot, sabred, arrested, and imprisoned Italy will play a great part, and the for doing precisely that which the straw-plaiters of Tuscany one of the patriots whom it is bidden to distingreatest. The severe sentences of im- guish by statues and venerate with prisonment and solitary confinement jubilees did in their time, it cannot which have been passed on many of justly be blamed. The fact that one Prince of Savoy then applauded the The police is continually not only action and that another Prince of Sa- allowed but encouraged to be brutal voy now abhors it, cannot really in an intolerable degree in Italy, and make any moral difference in it. retains all the odious features of the Moreover, now as then, the brutal con- sbirri of an earlier time. The Crisduct of the police is the chief cause pinian reign of terror, of course, of public revolt. The man killed

greatly increased these tendencies to by

the police in Parma last insult and bully the people on every month (Odoardo Cassinelli) had been occasion; and were it not tragic in its in prison under frivolous charges, and issues, the swagger of these minions was subject to police surveillance, of the Questura would be comical. In had lost his work through this, and Vincenza, in July last, a brigadier when a barber engaged him on the and a private of gendarmes were in miserable wage of one meal a day, church during mass; the brigadier the police intimidated his employer, saw a youth sitting on one of the who, to curry favor with them, had benches with a small book on his knee dismissed him; the police then ar

in which he was apparently writing; rested the unhappy man as being a

in holy excess of zeal the brigadier vagrant without employment! When approached to rebuke him for his irhe resisted, as was natural enough, reverence, and saw that in the little they shot him in the abdomen, and book there was being drawn a caricadragged him over the stones like a

ture of his own sacred self. He ardirty rag (cencio sporco), to use the rested the caricaturist and marched words of an eye-witness. It is quite him off to prison. This is only one natural, and is surely excusable, that out of a hundred similar instances of this conduct on their part led to vio- the self-idolatry and the intolerable lence on the part of crowds who were tyranny of these men. There is, already Cassinelli's friends, and en

moreover, in every government, predeavored to be his rescuers, and, when fecture, and municipality, such rooted it was known that he was dead, was

prejudice in their favor, such favoritfollowed by an attack on the police- ism, such resolution to admit nothing barrack. To ask a populace to con

against them, that it is well-nigh imsider such conduct on the part of

possible to ever obtain any redress police as the mere correct fulfilment for injury through them, still less any of the law, is to make all law detested punishment of them for any offence. and despised. In the Publica Sicur- It is always taken for granted that ezza the art of making criminal of- they are right and that the public is fences is carried to a most ingenious wrong. When they are brought to perfection. Harmless citizens are irri- trial for similar murders they are tated, insulted, provoked about any almost always acquitted; if condemned trifle which presents itself, a dog, a child, a handcart, a little dust on a

1 With the first days of this August the steamers

which ply on the Grand Canal, to the infinite indoorstep, a guitar played after dark, jury of its palaces, were for the first time allowed or a game of ball played too near the to continue their transit all night from Rialto to gate, any little incident

or pretext the station. The gondoliers, who already have

suffered so much by these black devils, as they will serve; the citizen, if he have a

call them, throatened to strike. The next morngrain of spirit, or if he have drunk a

ing the steamers were filled with armed guards; drop of wine, rebels, in words at least; every traghetto was occupied by armed force, and a word suffices; he is marched off to and gondolas manned by custom-house men were

in waiting everywhere. The poor gondoliers could the police court and from that mo

do nothing. It is thus that the oldest and most ment is a marked man, ruthlessly per- interesting industry in Venice is treated, and ansecuted in every trifling detail in life. archists made.

[ocr errors]
[graphic]

it is only to some trifling fine and prefects. This kind of persons term of imprisonment. Tribunals are are often called the sheet-anchors of a always indulged and ministers favor- nation; it would be nearer the truth able to them.

to call them the dead-lock. Their Agrarian war, a war of hunger, is egotism is absolute, their ignorance very possible in Italy, perhaps even appalling, their snobbism enormous, Dear. It

to many observers their narrowness, toadyism, and rotwonderful that it has not come before tenness indescribable. These are the now. But the force of the Italian people who saved Tanlungo, and Barapopulace is not husbanded; it is tieri, and Crispi, who control and corsquandered in daily broils and wine- rupt the electorate, who supported house stabbings and village feuds, the state of siege and the Domicilio and there is no knowledge of the Coatto, who applaud when musketry union which is strength. To pro- fire rakes the streets, who love brag duce any effective action in a people and blague, and the Triple Alliance, unity is the first necessity, and

who cringe to William of Hohenzolunion is only a word in Italy. They lern, and would cringe just as humbly cannot be sure of each other; in every

were he crowning himself in Rome group there is some one who betrays; like Henry VII. mutual distrust paralyzes mutual

They block the way to all true removement, and so the bulk of the na

form. They choke up, as sand chokes tion is quiet, not because it is satisfied

up a channel, the liberal and genbut because it is suspicious.

erous aspirations of Rudini, whom Rudinì believes that the sense of they endeavor to bind down as the unity is strong in the breast of the Lilliputians did Gulliver. They connation. In Rome, in Milan, and some spire against the people on every few cities it may be so, but in the possible occasion. The Domicilio Cobulk of the people there is not, I am

atto to'them appears a divine instituconvinced, the smallest feeling for tion. They think it unsupportable political or national unity; there is that Lavatteri should be in the Chamnot even in many rural parts the ber. They the Junkers, the slightest comprehension of it. In- Jingos, the Imperialists, the Philisdeed, how can such unity exist when tines of Italy, and if they have their the nation is broken up into different way, in the future there will be a groups, each intensely wedded to its civil war. own views and creeds? A large pro- The dread of Socialism gives a portion of the rural population does strength which it would not otherwise whatever its priests tell it; a consid- possess to this philistine obstinacy erable proportion of the aristocracy which rejects all political freedom. does so also. In many districts social. The spirit of Socialism is so totally ism has unlimited power, and in many opposed to the spirit of Republicanism of the towns republicanism has an that the two cannot act in unison, equally strong hold. In the peasantry and out of their division comes the there is frequently to be found a very opportunity of the Reactionary party, savage longing for anarchy, side by who will sustain any ministry which side with the rooted bigotry of Church will keep down Socialism, and will superstition, whilst the majority of support such ministry in any measthe moneyed and landed class are con- ures, however illegal, towards that servatives of the snobbish, stupid, in- end. A plague on all your parties tensely silly type. To this class be- may be said here, indeed, for amidst long all the civil service, all the cour- them all nothing is done, or will be tiers, and the innumerable generals done, to relieve the poor of the bur

are

[ocr errors]

To say

manner

dens laid upon them; the State ruins delinquents, as the physiologist in the millions of families, and any public laboratory turns healthy and happy writer who says so is accused of lèse animals into agonized and mutilated majesté. It is monstrous that land victims and putrid carcases. should be taxed in such a

that a nation is rightly ruled when that the annual tax far exceeds its such a system endures, is indeed to annual produce; yet that is what is cry peace when there is no peace. done all over the country, and done Rudini counts much on the decenby the law in the name of the king, tralization which he is so anxious to who, the peasant is told, is "irrespon- make general; but so long as taxation sible and intangible.” Take one and police tyranny remain unchanged solitary instance. In one day and in decentralization can do nothing to one pretura alone in Sardinia, of the benefit the poor. Cavallotti said, in a name of Jeruza, there were in the past recent debate, that what he desired month one hundred and ninety-seven for his country was the free play of forced sales of the holdings or goods its various idiosyncrasies, the developof poor persons by the order of the ment of its natural genius; not a cuttax-collector of that district; some of and-dried uniformity, not an unity these sales were ordered because the produced by the steam-roller of comdebtor could not pay fifteen or six- pression. Without this free play, teen centimes (a penny half-penny), without this liberty of special charand for this miserable little sum, acteristics, he added, that Italy would swollen to large proportions by in- never be more in the concert of naterest, fine, legal expenses for sum- tions than a quantité négligeable. He mons, seizure, distraint. etc., etc., the believes that the decentralization beunfortunate debtor is deprived of his gun with the especial government little scrap of corn or pasture land; for Sicily will produce this elasticity and by such infamous means, in the and natural growth. But most certhree last years, no less than nine hun- tainly it will never do so as long as dred freehold and dwelling places have the police system, the tribunals, the been taken and confiscated by the State, corporations, and the fiscal burdens in this sole commune of Jeruza.

remain what they are. It is not the What state of things could any rev- preservation of tradition and custom olution bring about which, for the and the consideration of vital inpoor man, by any possibility would terests which will be considered by be

than this? It is now the municipal and provincial councils eighteen years since Marion Crawford when they obtain an absolutely free cited a similar instance known to him hand. These things are wholly inin the Agro Romano, and in all these different to the local administrative years this frightful spoliation of the temper; the province is a sheep to poor by the State has gone on from be sheared, a mule to be sold, and the southernmost shores of Sicily to the local administrator is the Sensale, the northernmost frontier of the Alps who arranges for the transaction and all over Italy and in Sardinia.

pockets the proceeds. It is difficult For those who protest there is only to see what remedy to this evil would one reply: the prison.

lie in autonomous administration, and The government, be it under whom it is to be feared that the old Italian it may, strips and ruins the people; saying would be verified-Mutano i it creates a hopeless and desperate muli ma non mutano gli urli. misery out of a cheerful and patient It is the whole Constitution which industry; it turns good citizens and requires revision. The whole body laborious peasants into beggars and politic needs fresh air, new systems,

worse

name

cleansing, invigorating, changing; let them drag you to the shambles.” above all, if the monarchy last, the With the childishness characteristic laws which muzzle the nation in its of all governments, the Italian govern

must come to an end; the ment, on the return of the first regithrone must have no other protection ments from Eretria, issued an order from discussion and censure than the that the soldiers were forbidden to simplest citizen possesses; the power relate their experiences, or speak in to choose the prime minister must be any way of the recent campaign! It vested in the Chamber instead of in may easily be imagined that such an the monarch. So long as this power order could no more be enforced than lies under the crown, the crown can an oruer which should have forbidden entirely paralyze all action of the the men to breathe. The soldiers are Chamber. The crown must be abso- scattered all over the kingdom; thoulutely forbidden to shield from their sands of them, cripples or invalids, just punishment its personal favor- have returned helpless on the hands ites, whether these be corrupt politi- of miserably poor parents. To supcians or incompetent soldiers, and its pose that they will not talk of all they enormous civil list must be cut down have seen and suffered, would be to to moderate proportions.

suppose that their tongues had been As long as the army is against rev- cut out of their throats. Indeed the olution, so long revolution will not order, based on the absolute ignosucceed in Italy; but the moment rance of human nature common to all that the army refuses to charge the governments, is openly disregarded populace, revolution will succeed. everywhere, and in the piazza of every The desire for it is strong in the little town, and on the church steps breasts of the populace; but it is not of every hamlet to which such a solyet strong enough to draw, as by a dier has returned, with his magnet, the steel out of the hands of scorched, powder-burnt face, his lean the soldiery. There is discontent: bones, his still raw wounds, his ragged bitter and chafing enough in the rank clothes, there is gathered an intent, and file of the army, and listening, pitiful, indignant crowd, amongst the officers, for the favor- harkening to his every word,

and itism, injustice, and petty tyrannies, cursing those who rule them. For from which they suffer, whilst the many a year to come, the man who men who come home wounded, ragged, has to tell of the maledetta guerra sick, miserable, from the campaign of will stir the heart of Italy, as Othello Abyssinia, carry the propaganda of stirred Desdemona. Imbriana, moresuch discontent into towns and ham- over, is absolutely right; an Irredenlets, plains, and valleys, and moun- tista war would have captivated the tains all over the peninsula; none can sympathies of a vast majority of the say what result their propaganda nation; to liberate the Adriatic provmay not have in the future. The soil inces and waters would have seemed is ripe for the seed. These men are a high emprise, a tangible desire. But all very young. They will very likely the aggressive

Abyssinia live long. They will look at their awakened enthusiasm in no one, exmutilated trunks, at their fever- cept court flatterers and hungry wasted limbs through many a year, military officers. To the king and to and say to those who are now babes: Crispi, the crown of Ethiopia seemed “Do not be such fools as we. Do not a jewel of price wreathed with laurel;

but the truer sense of the nation saw 1 At the maneuvres this month, it is bitterly cold in the Alps, but there are no tents, tho men

in it only the tinsel circlet of the jugare told all the tents are in Africa!

gler. And for this insane effort to.

[ocr errors]

even

war

on

« VorigeDoorgaan »