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. Considered however as a popular assembly, [our author continues] it will be seen, even from the above short sketch, that it is purely a feudal institution, without possessing a particle of the elective franchise, by which any public body can alone be supprised to represent the people. The enormous disproportion of the Barons to the other branches, besides their possession of from seven to ten and thirteen votes, according to the number of fiefs they have, must ever give them a preponderance in the delibera. tions which subverts altogether the power of the other parts. The parliament can, in fact, be now only considered as the mere shadow of representation, and more as an additional instrument of tyranny than any thing else, as the prince invariably directs all its movements.' Vol. I. p. 230.
Such being the state of the parliament, it is little to be wondered at if the subordinate branches of administration, over which it ought to exercise a superintending and controuling authority, are in a condition utierly deplorable. The whole code of civil and criminal law is confused and indeterminate --the judges and their subordinates universally corrupt - and the courts of law appear rather like licensed theatres for plunder, than temples for the dispensation of justice. In the constitution of these courts there is one capital error, one which of itself is amply sufficient to account for the whole train of abuses with which they are described as being infected. The judges receive no salaries from the state, but are paid en-' tirely by fees. These fees, too, are not regular fixed sums to be paid upon specified fixed occasions, but are of a still more pernicious nature, corresponding with the French epices, and indicating a state of jurisprudence fit only for the most barbarous era of judicature. This fertile source of evil is followed by all its natural consequences-delay, vexation, and expence: and the common termination of a suit, after both parties have exhausted all their means in carrying it on, is not by a decision of the court but by an extrajudicial compromise of the litigating parties. By these arts the profession is rendered sufliciently lucrative; but the people are not so entirely the dupes of their oppressors, as to mistake the process by which their wealth is acquired.
• The whole tribe (says our author in a note) which form the members of this profession are called Paglietti, the very re.. petition of which in any part of the Island, but more particuJarly Palermo, creates a sensation of horror, and is invariably followed by the repetition of some grievance experienced by the
under the auspices of a British minister, it will only give additional cause to the people of Sicily to believe that we are indifferent to their fate.'
conduct of a lawyer. Indeed those who are best acquainted with the influence of this body on the public happiness and prosperity, say, that to a despotic government they are better than a standing army in preventing unaninfity, without being any expense to the state. This accounts for men of the profession being the highest court favourites, as they are better accustomed to, and longer tried in the arts of oppression." Vol. I. p. 249.
Compared, however, with the administration of criminal justice, the state of civil jurisprudence appears little short of perfection. We find here a very striking application of the principle of Paley's net ; into which the entrance is easy enough, but the exit a matter of no small difficulty.
There are (our author says) three officers appointed by the grand Court, called Capitani d'armi del Regno (captains of arms of the Kingdom) one for each vale: these are sent round the island twice a year, in May and October, for the purpose of conveying all delinquents to the capital, and generally return with some hundred prisoners, who, on their arrival at Palermo are thrown into the public prisons, and suffered to languish for years without having their cause decided.'
When the unhappy victims are thus collected, they are not, as might be supposed, immediately brought to trial, but large numbers of them, (700 for example in one prison)
have been confined for periods of from one to six years, without any prospect of their cases being terminated. Even torture, which has long been banished from the system of jurisprudence of every country in Europe, not excepting Russia, is preserved in full vigour, and under its most atrocious form, in Sicily.
* Where there is an insufficiency of evidence, in cases of cria minal prosecution' (our author says) · the damusu is resorted to. This vestige of gothic barbarism and cruelty, can only be exceeded by the racks, and is by far more frequently fatal to those who are doomed to undergo the process. Damusas áre attached to all the public prisons in Sicily, and consist of a cell cut under ground, just large enough to contain one person ; the door is made of iron and only two feet and a half high, so that the air is altogether excluded except from a small hole at the top: the bottom is paved with sharp pointed stones. Those destined to experience this most inhuman and cruel trial, are put in here and loaded with chains fastened to the legs above the ancles, which often weigh sixty and even eighty pounds. Bread and water are the only food or sustenance ; and the prisoner's continuance there is extended sometimes to forty days, if not dead before: there are instances of people who have survived the damusa, but they are by no means frequent. It generally happens that an ulcer is created where the irons are put on, and in that čaše a mortification is almost sure to follow." A shocking instance of bar
barity connected with this subject, occurred a few days ago; the captain of justice at San Juliano, put a poor man into the da* musa of that town, against whom an accusation had been brought, but not substantiated by adequate proof; he was loaded with more than seventy pounds weight of chains, and, horrid to relate, his feet were in few days literally worn off: the man died, and his disconsolate wife came to Palermo, bringing authentic and undeniable proofs of her husband's innocence.' Vol. I. pp. 253–5,
It is the less necessary, however, to dwell on these sickening details, as we have on a former occasion laid before our readers so ample an exposition of them, in our review of the publications of Mr. Leckie and Mr. Vaughan*. We proceed, therefore, to our author's account of the Sicilian manners; though here again there is little to console the philanthropist. Sicily only affords another illustration of the intimate dependence which exists between the manners of a people and the form of its government. The men appear to devote their waking hours, the smaller portion of the twenty four, to the most frivolous amusements. Among the nobility, gambling, the coffee-house, profligate intrigues, and the opera, appear to exhaust the whole of their activity, without being diversified with any one manly or honourable employment. As for the women, their education, if possible, seems to be more utterly neglected than that of the male part of the community; and we learn that, for a reason somewhat curious (to obstruct the system of intrigues) they are not even taught to write! We apprehend, however, that there are few wlio will agree with Sicilian parents in the efficacy of any such remedy; for what can be more obvious, than that å taste for literary pursuits, would, by occupying the activity of the youthful mind, contribute to detach it from those unworthy pufsuits into which it so often planges, merely, perhaps, as a resource from the painful listlessness of absolute indolence? On this subject, we can afford to give place only to the following anecdote, which, however, exhibits a very fair specimen of the general occupations and morality prevalent among the higher classes of society in the island.
• Prince B-0 a young man of fortune, and versed in all the fashionable vices of his country, became enamoured with Madame Campili the first dancer; but the lady piquing herself upon a degree of virtue, by no means peculiar to persons in that line, was not to be so easily conquered. Determined, however, to leave no effort untried for the accomplishment of his wishes, he was struck with one, which appeared admirably calculated to insure success in a place ballerino in the same theatre, was invited by the prince to his house, and introduced to the Princess, who received him very kindly, and afterwards honoured the young son of Thalia with the most flattering marks of confidence and favour; and their intercourse was overlooked by Prince B-o, on condition that young Campili should interest himself with the sister in his behalf. It is said that the young man tacitly consented to this base proposition, although without any. intention of putting it into execution ; be this as it may, Prince B—0, did not succeed, and stung with rage only thought how he could be revenged on the dancer, whom he accused of having deceived him, and interdicted him from ever entering his house again. It is but too true, however, that “ love laughs at locksmiths,” and notwithstanding all the Prince's precautions, he found it impossible to interrupt the intimacy of his wife and the balerino, upon which in order to conclude a conduct commenced in so dishonourable a manner, hé complained to the court of Mr. Campili's improper intercourse with the Princess, and accordingly the dancer was ordered to quit the capital within twenty four hours. The person who communicated this fact, worthy of the most degraded times, is an intimate and confidential friend of Campili, and added that for several months people were hired to assassinate his friend. The above circumstance instead of exciting any sensation of disgust, or that degree of horror which it so justly merited, is talked of in the fashionable circles as a mere joke.' Vol. I. pp. 299, 300.
this. Madame Campili's brother, a fine young man, and first
* See Ecl. Rev. for Oct. 1811.
While occupied in this manner, it may readily be imagined that the Sicilian landholders pay very little attention to the cultivation of their estates, and by this neglect, and the oppression under which the cultivators of the land labour, the island, instead of exporting the large quantities of corn that it was formerly in a condition to supply, does not now raise sufficient even for its own use. Between the landlord and the tenant there is interposed what in Sicily is called a governor, corresponding in many respects to the Irish middle man, to whom is entrusted by their owners the management and letting of all the estates, and the distributing among the vassals the requisite assistance, before they can proceed to cultivate the ground. Agriculture is thus reduced to its very lowest ebb-no capital for improvement-no leases to render it worth while even if the capital existed, the immediate cultivator possessing no implements of husbandry but what are hired from his superior--while the aid that is thus lent is advanced grudgingly and niggardly, and upon the most oppressive terms. Nor are the owners of the soil and their agents the only spoilers that the cultivator has to deal with :
No sooner,' says our author) is the corn cut and deposited in the granaries, than officers go round from the Reale Patrimonio department to enforce the Revello, one of the most oppressive ordinances in the island; it consists in every person declaring the exact
quantity of grain and pulse his ground has yielded, upon which the is debarred from selling any part till the pleasure of the above tribunal is made known; on the other hand, the governor is at liberty to enforce repayment for his advances. Innumerable acts of oppression take place while these circumstances are going forward, and the poor peasant has no other resource except that of patient resignation ; at length after the reports from all parts of the island are examined at Palermo, the Reale Patrimonio determine on the quantity required for home consumption, upon which they fix their own price, no matter how disproportioned to the value of labour or other considerations; on their being fixed, the peasant is next to satisfy his landlord in kind, not money, and if any remains a very rare circumstance, he may either dispose of it, or, keep it for the immediate support of his family.' Vol. I. pp. 367, 368. This remainder, (if so it may be called,) it might be
supposed the unhappy peasant would be suffered to enjoy in peace: but no! be is destined to endure still further exactions: the collectors of the Gabelli make their appearance, to gather the taxes which are imposed upon corn as well as upon all the other necessaries of life, such as flour, wine, oil, the slaughtering of cattle, &c. &c. and leave scarcely a bare subsistence as a recompense for his anxious labour.
The train of evils that follows this miserable system, is most deplorable, and imminently threatens, if it does not receive some considerable check, to depopulate the island. Our author met in a variety of places with deserted villages, and a starving peasantry; and he says that the effects of a bad harvest were certainly very generally felt in 1801 : thousands fell victims to absolute famine both in that and the following year, and even at this moment (1811) an almost unparalleled scarcity prevails'*.
* That this is not an exaggerated description of the sufferings of the peasants of Sicily is abundantiy confirmed by the testimony of another writer, from facts that recently fell under his own observation_“ Nothing' (says Mr. Kelsall) proves more the disordered state of Sicily, than the insecurity and alarm in which the peasantry live. In the Val di Noto, the translator fell in with companies of reapers accoutered with their swords and muskets, their master beside them standing on horseback armed cap à pied, presenting more the appearance of a sudden muster against invasion, or the fear of an Apronius, or He. racles, than of the peaceful pursuits of Agriculture. The shepherds, unlike those in the days of Daphnis, who only taught the woods to resound to the music of their pipes, now blow a warlike horn, to muster their companions in case of an attack; and instead of a crook shoulder 'a blunderbuss." Kelsall's “ Translation of Cicero's pleadings against Verres, to which is added a postcript containing remarks on the state of modern Sicily." p. 350.