Frank Leward: Memorials
Frank to Mr. Saunders
Frank to Mr. Saunders.
Dear Mr. Saunders.—Ive been leading an idle life lately and was very glad to get your letter. It reached me at Caprera where I was staying with Garibaldi. I was there a long time. Hes a curious man I suppose there never was such a one to lead an army or a lot of ragamuffins as we looked all round about in the most circuitous ways and hes got the luck of some one else. We ought to have been smashed up lots of times by the rules of war but somehow we werent. Take the General out of the field and hes the biggest fool on earth. He lets me say anything to him and Ive often told him so and advised him to have nothing to do with politics. When we were marching on Como the first time surrounded by the enemy on all sides and I was in a beastly funk as to what might happen up there comes tearing along on horseback a sort of amazon a fine looking woman though I didnt much care about her face. She said she must page 296see Garibaldi at once as she had most important news. Garibaldi is awfully fond of women and he has a most polite courteous way of treating them a sort of defference natural kind of politeness so although he was fearfully tired and wanted to go to sleep he said she might come in. She said she was the daughter of a Marchese somebody or other and had intercepted some important despatches or letters of the enemy. Garibaldi was excited by the story and I left them together what happened I dont know. She gave him the despatches but whether they were genuine or not I dont know either. When we were in Tuscany after the fighting was all over I saw there was something up he seemed restless and said at last he was going up to the north to get married I couldnt say much except dont so he went. I didnt see him again till I went to Caprera in October he seems to have got married to the lady with the despatches and then left her.
Caprera is the most extraordinary place for any one to choose to live in you can imagine. Its up the North East coast of Sardinia and I suppose take them altogether Corsica and Sardinia are the least attractive places I was ever in. As you get to Caprera it looks like a great granite walled place and I should think it about the most sterile and bleak you could choose exposed to all the winds that blow. Hes built a one story house and hes making a road. A lot of his old officers came while I was there and we had lots of fun he set us all to make a beastly stone wall round the most melancholy looking garden you ever saw. Theres good fishing and page 297we used to sit on the rocks to fish but he wont let you kill any thing on the Island except some wild bulls awful brutes. Garibaldi takes them himself with a lasso like the South Americans keeps a little to eat and sells the rest to a man who comes over for them and brings letters from Madalena.
I dont think Bampton would like the food the cooking is not luxurious awfully rough and wholesome and the wine by Jove. He always drinks water himself but unfortunately he has planted some vines and makes his own wine. Its nearly the only thing he shows pride about. When he gives a glass to a new arrival and asks him how he finds it you should see the faces they make over it. Its a regular old Roman Spartan sort of life he leads. His small bed is bang over a cistern. Another subject of pride are some candles sent him from New York from a place where he worked once making candles.
I wish he was more sensible about the religion of the people he has done so much for. Without it they would be much worse and not half so happy. I keep preaching this to him but he only laughs and says I dont know. Hes got a small stable where he keeps a donkey and I got into a fearful rage when he said to me I call the stable il Vaticano and the donkey Pio Nono after your friend. I told him right out Pio Nono was a better man than he was and if some of his friends had been a little more morally decent Pio Nono would have been the first to help them free Italy from her enemies as he showed he was at one time till he was so disgusted page 298with the heathenish ways of a lot of his so called liberators he was obliged to give them up as any decent person would be let alone a Pope. I made him awfully wild by quoting some of a letter he once wrote to Pio Nono himself in 47 I think. I happened to come across it once when he offered his "sword to his Holliness and his arms willingly to the service of one who had done so much for our country and our Church" and how it "would be a privilege if he was allowed to offer his blood for the head of the church" those were his very words and he was awfully wild when I asked him why he wrote them if he didnt believe in the Pope. I said "you were willing to do anything for him most submissive as long as he agreed with you and now when your friends have so disgusted him by their conduct and have taken so often to assassination and secret murder that they have obliged him to take a different course you turn on him and abuse him. He might just as well get a donkey and call it Garibaldi only he wouldnt be such a fool or he might call his stables Caprera only most likely theyd be a great deal more decent to live in. "We had a regular row and he told me Id better go if I didnt like it and I said I wouldnt so he walked off. He came back afterwards and shook hands and said I didnt know all and I told him to stick to fighting and there was lots to be done yet and not bother about politics or the Pope and the priests would be his best friends as they were in Lombardy.
When I was in Rome they took me to see the Pope and I dont think I ever saw such a kind benevolent page 299looking man anywhere. He was awfully civil to me and said he liked to see Englishmen especially if they talked Italian. He was writing away in a little room like an office with a snuf box in his hand. Of course I dont mean to change I dont believe in changing but if anything could make me it would be the looks of the old Pope.
Poor old chief though hes had enough to bother him without me making it worse. I shall never forget it when he heard that Nice was to be given up to France. Its his birthplace you know. It was a mixture of sorrow and the most tremendous tearing rage like a wounded lion to think that after all hes done for Italy his own place in his own country is to be given away and he as he said to be a stranger in Italy. He went up to Turin to have a go at Cavour for doing it but hes no good in politics they say he cant speak a bit its not his line.
There will be more work for us to do directly and were quite ready. Garibaldi has been asked by a lot of people in Palermo to come and help them and were off there in a few days. He doesnt care twopence for the King. Victor Emanuel pretends hes got nothing to do with it but whatever Garibaldi does he does for the King and Victor Emanuel is precious glad to get the benefit of it as he was in Lombardy. Bixios here again and lots of the old Cacciatori are collecting near here at Quarto and we shall have some excitement in a day or two.
I did think you and Bampton would have been able page 300to come out here last Autumn I was awfully disappointed. At Christmas I took a walk by myself from here to Nice along the Riviera its splendid scenery most of the way especially along the Corniche road right up sometimes overlooking the Mediterranean and with palm trees and orange and lemon groves all along. I slept at a lot of curious old towns you would have liked them—Ventimiglia Mentone Monaco and a lot more. Monaco is the most curious of all built on a bit of land high up jutting out in the sea and the waves beating all round and a beastly old Palace takes up nearly half of it where the Prince lives hes an absolute monarch there. Id got my Cacciatore dress on and was awfully well received all along as though I was a sort of hero especially by the women. I came back from Nice in an open boat with a boy it was awfully rough and I thought we were done for once or twice however we managed to get in all right.
I wish you would write soon though I dont know where I shall be or what may happen next month—Yours very affectionately