Frank Leward: Memorials
Same to the Same
Same to the Same.
Dear Mr. Saunders Little more than a month is passed since I wrote last and our joy has been turned into sorrow. Frank has been badly wounded and very dangerously ill. I have not written till the crisis was over and I could send some cheering news. How soon does great joy grow weary of amusing us.
After all the triumphs came the difficulty of turning them to good account. Frank was often consulted by page 331the dictator but he said that wasn't in his line. I did my best through Frank to advise but the great general unmatched in quick bold guerilla warfare did not prove a wise politician or governor. Truly he had a difficult part to play. There was the Neapolitan fleet at his disposal he gave that to Persano, and that offended many; there was the English fleet to manage, that luckily was friendly; but then there was the French fleet which was hostile. The traditions of the French navy are monarchic, they hate republics and dont see that to support a fool in the fashion of a King is to bring discredit upon monarchy and to hasten its end. Worst of all there was the wretched Piemontese government to keep quiet. Pallavicino, who deserved it, was made pro-dictator during Garibaldi's absence, and that gave offence to others. This Cavour government must be formed of a lying lot of scoundrels most unworthy rulers from the king downwards. Garibaldi as you know was unsuccessful at first at Capua but completely successful on the 1st at Volturno, where Frank was wounded. I saw the other day in a copy of the Turin Gazette the following statement in an account of the battle "Les Garibaldiens etaient battus quand les Piemontais arriverent et les sauverent." There wasn't one of the Piemontese army there. Then we have evidence, conclusive evidence that Cialdini has telegraphed to Louis Napoleon in a cringing cowardly spirit "Nous marchons avec 40,000 hommes sur Naples pour mettre Garibaldi et ses volunteers a la raison." But perhaps the worst of all for low heartless insincerity and meanness is Victor page 332Emanuel's own letter to the French minister a copy of which Garibaldi has, and which the King wrote while Garibaldi was exposing his life for that miserable Savoyard, and winning Sicily for him. He then wrote thus "Si les croiseurs Napolitains pendaient mon pauvre Garibaldi ce serait sans doute un grand malheur, mais ca simplifierait bien des choses. Quel beau mosaulée nous lui ferions éleven" Did you ever read of such disgusting double dealing, and what can a government formed of such materials be worth. Garibaldi has saved millions from cruel tyrannies and a degrading despotism, will he be able to govern them much better, or find a better government for them? I fear judging from their personal character and conduct the new governors will only tend to sink the people they come to govern still deeper in the slough of a nasty sensuality.
There is a semblance still but I fear only a semblance of conforming to the old religion of the country. On the very day of arriving here Garibaldi attended the devotions that were then going on. On the 19th the blood of S. Januarius, I was glad to hear, not only grew liquid but began to do it earlier than usual, showing the saintly Patron is not averse to the new regime so far. Frank had soon to go off on duty again and I had many opportunities of seeing the Garibaldian camp. It was curious. The English are not popular there as a rule and I dont wonder. The English portion of the volunteers are insubordinate and rowdy. A train used to leave here every day to take sight seers, and it was generally crowded, empty headed English tourists, as is their way, page 333being most conspicuous noisy and vulgar. I thought it was not my place to be there at the engagement on the 1st so I stayed about in the streets at Naples in some anxiety. The day began in a thick mist it was then that Frank was shot going with the general to reconnoitre the castello. He was knocked over by a ball in the leg. They say the general gave a sort of howl when he saw Frank fall thinking it was a fatal wound. He was carried off the field but I didnt hear of it till the evening when the wounded were brought in. He must have suffered terribly all day and fearfully on the journey back. I received a message sent specially by Garibaldi telling me they were at last successful all along the line and they had completely routed the enemy, and taken Volturno, but that my friend was gravely wounded, and asking me to look after him. I couldnt find him till nearly eleven o'clock at night in one of these wretched hospitals. I got him removed at once to the hotel. The Neapolitan hospitals are a disgrace to a civilized country. Corruption here is so universal even the nurses rob the unfortunate patients of things that are ordered for their comfort. They are dirty and badly managed, and the Neapolitans themselves are so abominably selfish they would not take in or assist in any way those who had been wounded while fighting for their cause.
I got him to the hotel where I am staying and into the best room they had, and sent for the cleverest surgeons in the place. I am afraid my training fits one badly for emergencies like this. I hadnt the slightest page 334idea what to do. Frank was too weak to speak above a whisper, and I got into a feverish anxiety a sort of fussiness, trying to do all I could but fearing I should make mistakes. The surgeons came and examined him. Frank was perfectly sensible but I thought he was sinking, he was evidently getting weaker, I suppose from pain and loss of blood. He had been very roughly bandaged up on the field at Volturno and the examination by the surgeons made him worse. They said it would be dangerous to extract the ball till he got over the shock, but they would come to see how he was next day. Frank never complained, only once or twice as he was falling asleep he groaned, while he was awake he never uttered a sound which could show he was in pain. I knew the Neapolitan doctors were bunglers, and early in the morning an inspiration came over me, Frank was asleep, I went out quietly, and after some trouble got a boat off to the largest English man-of-war and asked to see the doctor. I told him what I wanted him for. He was a jolly, good natured genial man, and promised to be here before eleven the time the Neapolitan doctors were to come. I shall never forget Frank's look when the English doctor walked in, strong happy and smiling, bringing a ray of sunshine with him into the sickroom. They took to one another at once. He soon saw Frank had a splendid constitution and was in perfectly good condition and hardy, it was better he said to get rid of the ball at once and trust in providence. When the Neapolitan doctors came the Englishman, accustomed to wounds of all sorts, quietly put them on one side, made page 335one hold his leg and the other his hands "just to keep him steady" he said. Frank refused to take chloroform "right" said the navy man "right you are we will soon get this little gentleman out." Poor Frank didnt seem right at all to me but the doctor soon discovered the whereabouts of the ball and set to work in a businesslike way. I went to the window and looked out, I am such a perfect coward in these sort of things. Frank did give one or two suppressed cries and then a sort of laugh as though at his own weakness.
It seemed hours to me and I can remember now every thing I looked at in the bay of Naples, it all seems to have been engraved on my mind, though I was not conscious at the time I was looking at anything. He lost a great deal of blood and when they had bandaged him up properly the doctor came to me and told me the chief danger was now. He said he would be very weak and ill for some time and must be kept perfectly quiet or he would not answer for the consequences. He said too his pulse was getting weaker but with plenty of proper nourishment he might pull through. So began my labours. For the next ten days he was very bad. We got a good sister in to nurse him, she was half French no one can ever tell how good and useful she was or what we owe her for all she did. But for her I dont know what would have happened. He grew feverish after the operation and the fever went on increasing and we could hardly get him to take anything. How he wandered all that time especially towards night. All the stirring scenes of his life seemed to come before him.page 336
Often he was back at school. Names of boys I had quite forgotten, scenes I could just remember when he talked about them in bis delirium. Poor Jones he often talked of and his mother mixed up with recent fights in Sicily and events that took place in the Crimea.
Garibaldi sent constantly to ask how he was and wanted to come to see him. I went to call on him once when the crisis was over and told him he might come when Frank got a little stronger. I thought it might do Frank good to see his General again.
The poor General too looked terribly worn and bothered. The political intrigues of the last fortnight have made a change in him. He talked a long time about Frank and told me of many of his heroic exploits he had witnessed himself. He said there were few who could inspire his men with the fire of bravery as he did both during the last campaign and in Lombardy. He said he had a certain quiet way of leading the men on "tutto particolare." He told me he used at first always to put him in the fore of every dangerous attempt, because he seemed happiest then, but latterly he had tried to restrain him as much as he could for fear of losing him. He was afraid, he said, "Franko" had some great trouble on his mind which made him reckless of his life.
When Frank did begin to pick up a little I sent for Garibaldi. It was a curious sight to see the old weather beaten veteran by his bedside. The rough big paw taking the weak hands of Frank which have like his face recovered much of their original delicacy since his illness. The General was a good deal moved. Then he told of page 337all that had been going on since the battle at Volturno, and how he hoped soon to go on to Rome, and that Frank must come too; but Frank shook his head and said "you have done enough for the present think next of Venice, there I will go too if I get all right again."
To-day he is much better and to-morrow we hope to get him into an arm chair. The good navy doctor has been as kind as could be and has been every day. I dont know what we should have done without him.
I am getting urgent letters from my clerk who says I must come back at once for a very important matter, and Frank has promised to come with me. He couldnt manage the diligence over land so we shall come by sea to Marseilles and thence by train. He likes the idea of a short sea voyage. I wish you could meet us in London as I shall have to be busy when we get there.
Frank sends his good intentions as he is not able to write. Yours very affectionately,
C. A. Bampton.