Frank Leward: Memorials
Part IX. With Garibaldi in the South
Part IX. With Garibaldi in the South.
Frank to Mr. Saunders.
Dear Mr. Saunders I write to tell you I have got through so far safely. After I wrote last we had very exciting work and heaps of the friends of our Volunteers came to see them off. The Italians are so awfully demonstrative and so impulsive in their feelings a lot who had only come to say good bye got so enthusiastic in the cause they came right on with us too. Then I had to take part in a wild sort of adventure. Major Bixio was sent by sea to Genoa to seize two of the Rubattino Companys steamers it was the coolest thing you ever saw. Im supposed to be half a sailor still thats why I suppose I always get sent on anything connected with the sea or sailing. I felt like a bold buccaneer or pirate boarding the big ships at dead of night with our pistols loaded and swords ready. Luckily for both page 306sides they didnt show fight so we went off with our prizes the Lombardo and the Piemonte. I believe the company got paid for them afterwards and we were obliged to take them that way to get our volunteers to Sicily.
On May 5th we got all our men on board. Bixio took command of the Lombardo. I went on the other with Garibaldi and after stopping at one or two places we appeared off the norwest coast of Sicily on the 11th. It was a risky job getting into Marsala and required a lot of care. There were the Argus and Intrepid English men of war there they didnt bother about us, but there were some Neapolitan cruisers about too and we didnt care about falling in with them with our decks blocked with men. However at 2 o'clock we ran in splendidly from the norwest. The people of Marsala didnt quite know what to make of it. Most were for us but a lot were afraid. We bivouacked outside the town.
I dont know whether the stupid Neapolitans were afraid of us while we were on board ship or why it was but they never attempted anything till we were all landed and then they came down and took our ships. The peasants headed by the monks and priests were awfully enthusiastic as we went on and a lot of the peasants rose and joined us. We landed with about 1000 of the old Cacciatori and officers they are worth all the rest and wont take a penny, they pay their own expenses but the people we have come to liberate want their pay regularly before fighting.
Next day we marched on Salemi and bivouacked about page 307there. All along we were threatened by the enemy who kept hovering about us and at one place we were nearly caught where the road goes between some hills the enemy appeared on the top of them and had a great advantage but the General was always to the front and sent a lot of the squadri the Sicilians that is round to outflank them and the Neapolitans went off like a shot. Then we went on to Calatafimi and a whole lot of the enemy came down on us there. It was the biggest fight weve had yet how I got off all right I dont know. It lasted three hours they had six times our numbers and were in a splendid position on the hill with a lot of cannon. The old Cacciatori behaved splendidly went right up the hill and routed the enemy at the point of the bayonet. I never saw anything finer but we lost tremendously. A lot of my old friends who were in the Crimea and all through last year in Lombardy fought their last fight that day and we had to leave nearly four hundred of them behind awfully good fellows. We drove the enemy off and had a sort of triumphal thanksgiving. Padre Giovani Pantaleone a tremendous patriot met the General at the door of the Church with the Sacrament in his hands and offered thanks for the victory. This padre went along with us and carried with him a huge wooden cross which he waves over the heads of the Sicilians when they are going to fight. Its a great thing for us to have such a man with us it gives a sort of religious feeling to the expedition and the Sicilians are awfully superstitious and some people who dont like the General have told them he has come to destroy their religion.page 308
The enemy returned to Palermo sacking a small place called Massa Quarnero and massacred the inhabitants with beastly cruelty and set fire to the place for some reason or other I suppose to make the people fonder of the Neapolitan government. Then we came on towards this place passing the smoking ruins of Massa Quarnero and on the 19th we were on the heights over Monreale about three miles from Palermo. I had been there before so I knew the country pretty well. The enemy had 24,000 troops in and about Palermo. We expected the people would rise when we came as they had invited us there are about 200,000 of them here altogether but they darent do anything. They are awfully good at talking and making speeches in their clubs and meetings but when it comes to action its all effervescence and goes off like smoke and most of them are cowards. The enemy might easily have defended Palermo if they had been worth anything. Its surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills with Parco and Monreale to protect it from the land side and the Castello and men of war to defend it from the sea. They ought never to have let us take it. When we bivouacked up there the first night I was almost in despair. The general wasnt at all just the same as ever and he managed it awfully cleverly. No general ever circumvented a stronger enemy better than he did.
We made a lot of fires all along the heights to make it look as though we had more than we really had when we found the enemy held Parco and Monreale and then we pretended to retreat and divided our forces. Bosco page 309the Neapolitan general came after us with about 8000 chiefly Bavarians Bavaresi as they call them and Swiss and we led them a dance. We must have gone thirty miles over the mountains where there were scarcely any paths or even tracks carrying what small cannon we had in our arms by Jove it was hard work. When we had drawn them a long way from Palermo we doubled back to where we had left about 2000 Picciotti as they call the Sicilian Insurgents who have joined us went as quick as we could go made a sudden attack on the town forced the guard at the Ponte Ammiraglio and entered Palermo. General Bosco had told the people he had licked us and that his army was in full pursuit of us so they were rather surprised to hear we had suddenly come down on them and were right in their midst as right as possible in the middle of the night and when they got up next morning they found barricades going up all over the place the Italian national flag flying from the Cathedral Garibaldis troops keeping guard and Garibaldi in possession.
Then began the most beastly piece of brutality I think I ever saw. Marshal Lanza who had come expressly from Naples still held the fort Galila and he began in sheer spite to bombard the town because we had taken it. It didnt hurt us much but the unfortunate people suffered fearfully and it smashed a whole quarter of the city and whenever what they call the Regi that is the troops of the King of Naples caught any of the people they were brutally treated and a lot violated and massacred.page 310
All this brutality did us good and as the Picciotti who had been scattered about the hills began to drop in one by one with stories of ruin and violence they had seen even these Palermitans became roused and the rising against the Neapolitan government became general. Admiral Mundy who was off here on the Hannibal did all he could to stop the bombardment and at last got the Neapolitan general to meet Garibaldi on board the English flagship and an armistice was agreed to for three days and it was afterwards prolonged to the fifth and then the regi evacuated all the forts they held about the place.
As soon as the regi marched out the people set to work to destroy the citadel that had kept them under so long and when they saw the Neapolitans had really gone they broke out into tremendous jubilation. Public thanks were given at the cathedral. The General went in state but wouldnt have anything to do with the grand cushions and things they had put for him and knelt on the bare pavement. He took up his head quarters here at the Palazzo Pretorio and assumed the government of Sicily provisionally as dictator. All the town is covered with bills "Vogliamo l'annessione al regno constituzionale di Re Vittorio Emmanuale" but I suspect these placards were quietly brought over from Genoa. We have had reinforcements which we very much wanted as four hundred at least of our old cacciatori have been killed since we landed at Marsala.
The people must have suffered frightfully under the Neapolitan government and especially since the army occupied the town against us. Some splendid churches page 311have been destroyed by the Neapolitans and all the old documents and things at Santa Maria Incorronata they thought so much of were completely sacked. Some of our men I am sorry to say behaved badly to the Jesuits. The monks and priests have been working at the defences of the place since we came splendidly and making their people work too but our men somehow have an especial dislike to the Jesuits. Why I don't know I always find them the most gentle and learned of the lot. The other day I heard a row near the Jesuit College and I went in to see what was up and I found some of our men ransacking it. There was a very old priest over 70 awfully learned in natural history who had made a wonderful collection of shells they say the best collection in Italy it had taken nearly all his life to make it. One man had taken the drawers with the shells in out one by one and smashed every blessed shell in them with the butt end of bis musket. I was too late to stop it and the old priest never made a complaint though he had been obliged to look on and see all his treasures destroyed. Next day I was down by the shore and I came on the old man beginning his collection over again. I must stop this tremendous long letter now. Bixio will go south and Türr through the middle of the island I expect and we shall go round to meet them about the North East point near Milazzo most likely.
I will write again as soon as I can. Yours very affectionately
Same to the Same.
Dear Mr. Saunders. It would be impossible to give you a very clear idea of our progress since I left Palermo. I was there for some time after I wrote last the General wanted me to help him look after some things he was expecting from England and we didnt get on till the 18th of July by a Scotch cattle ship with an old North country captain an awfully rough specimen and landed at Patti and got on to Milazzo by Barcelona.
We found Dunn and Col. Wyndham had been having a lot of skirmishes with the enemy and had kept them off but their men had got awfully demoralized and there was precious little discipline among them. It was only the arrival of Garibaldi and his great influence over them and their hatred of the Neapolitan government kept them together at all. The feeling of devotion and trust in Garibaldi is greater than ever since all the success he has had lately.
We fought them at Milazzo on the 20th the Neapolitans under Bosco had 7000 properly armed and twelve guns we had barely 4000 most of them Sicilians precious little use and a lot of them only small boys. The General was as cool as anything all the time leading his men on most of the time with his stick in his hand and a cigarette in his mouth. While the fighting was hottest and I was beginning to think it was going against us I came on page 313him quietly sitting by a small stream where he had been washing his shirt and was looking at it hanging up to dry I never saw such a man. The Swiss and Germans under Bosco fought well as long as they were under cover but they were no match for our men when it came to an open tussel and the Neapolitan soldiers and officers are the verriest scum of the earth no earthly good and almost bigger cowards than the Turkish officers I think. Garibaldis own men fought grandly but theyd have been licked if it hadnt been for Dunn and Wyndham who turned the tables on the enemy at last.
On the 22nd two days after that the Old Aberdeen came in the only ship that dare come because of the Neapolitan ships which fired on them if they came. The old Captain said he didnt care a dam hed got to land a lot of ammunition for us from Palermo and he was paid for doing it and hed do it and dam all the firing and as soon as he had landed his cargo he went back to Palermo for some more.
Soon after that the Neapolitans began gradually to sneak out of Sicily giving it up to the Dictator. The King wrote to him thanking him for what he had done and accepting Sicily but begging him not to go over to the main land. Hes a cur that King I dont like him. As though the General would have done all he has to leave the Neapolitan government as strong as ever in Naples to go on with their tyranny and brutal cruelties. The Generals answer was awfully good he showed it me before he sent it hed made his program he said and must carry it out. Francesco Secondo wrote to the General page 314too the other day he seems in an awful funk and wanted to buy Garibaldi oft He said he would give him twelve million francs and 50,000 men to go against Venice or the Pope. Thats the style of man supposed to be awfully faithful to the Pope. Hed see him driven out any day or any one else either if he could only get rid of our General.
On the 28th of July we entered Messina the people in a tremendous state of excitement our men especially the adolescenti kicking up a tremendous row. Padre Giovani as they call our fighting priest with his black cross in his hands and a couple of revolvers in his belt preaching like anything at the Cathedral and finishing up by calling for three evivas for Garibaldi three more for Victor Emanuel and three for La Madonna Santissima. It was awfully exciting. We were all the time making the best preparations we could for crossing over. We didnt however get across till Aug. 18th and then we could hardly get boats enough. We started from Taormina in the Franklin. The captain said she wasnt ready so the General took it across himself. He and I were engaged plugging a big hole up in the bottom most of the time she leaked fearfully and was covered with men swarming all over her. I thought we should have gone down once or twice. However we landed all right at last at Capo d'Armi the south spur of Aspromonte.
I got your letter and one from Bampton while we were at Messina. Im awfully glad Bampton's coming I wish you could come too. I dont know about my coming to England though. I must stop here and see this out first page 315but I told the general if we kick Francesco out of Naples Im not going on with him to Rome if that's part of his programme. I feel sometimes as though Id rather finish up fighting than come to England at all.
It was curious to see the difference between the Calabrians and the Sicilians. In some places we have come through they are sort of Greek and speak Greek and wear a sort of Greek dress and look much more Greek than Italian. They were awfully pleased to see us and a lot joined us at once.
Next day after we got across we set off for Reggio. We heard there were 12,000 of the enemy there and I was rather in a funk. It looked awfully lovely though as we got near Reggio its built on the shore sloping down from the Castle with its jolly gardens behind and the bay of Catania and Etna with white smoke going up in front There wasnt much cause for fear as it happened because as we entered the people received us awfully well and the national guard joined us and we caught a lot of the enemy going down to a fort on the shore. The rest with the stupid old general Gallotta shut themselves up in the Castle. We had a go for that the next day and they defended it well for them but we took it at last by one of Garibaldis flank movements and surprised them so they didnt know what to do. Their poor old general was almost crying and all he could say was "Io aspettava che Garibaldi miattachasse d'avanti ed invece é venuto di dietro." So they capitulated and were allowed to go without their arms and we found a lot of ammunition there. In my page 316opinion that old Gallotta or whatever his name is ought to have been shot by rights or hung for as soon as we entered the town he imitated Lanza at Palermo and began a senseless stupid fire on his own town and people. Its just like them when we enter a place and the people rise and join us the Neapolitan government shows its spite by destroying their own people they are supposed to protect.
From Reggio we went on to Bagnara by the sea coast and it was awfully pretty. Churches vineyards terraces and palaces right up the mountain sides. The General was awfully particular to keep good order among the men they werent allowed to touch a thing. He had some men shot for taking grapes as they went by a vineyard. At Bagnara I slept on the sands and then we went on again. These people are ever so much finer than the Sicilians and their love and devotion to the General seems to increase every day they are determined to make Italy a free nation under Victor Emanuel.
As we got near Palmi I thought the view beat every thing I had ever seen. We went through forests of chestnuts and olives and sometimes we had the coast of Sicily in view and the islands out at sea and when it got dark Stromboli sending up flames and smoke and to the north the Gulf of Agioia and Capo Vaticano it made a splendid picture.
On the 28th we got to Nicolera in a broiling heat then to Militto where we heard the enemy was only four miles a-head of us shying away their arms and going off as fast as they could and that they had shot one of their page 317generals General Briganti so as to be able to say they had shot somebody I suppose.
Milittos an awfully curious old place built a tremendous time ago and full of churches and priests. They all turned out priests and all to welcome us and seemed awfully glad we were come. We got on to Monteleone at night and the view there seemed better still its up a good height and we could see all round in the morning as we went down to Pizzo. The General was surrounded there by a lot of people who have come to meet him and bother him fearfully. At one place Curinga the people called him "II nostro secondo Gesu Christo" very different to his enemies who tell them he has sold himself to the devil and cant be hit and shakes the bullets out of his shirt when he goes to bed.
Peard was a little way a head of us with a few men and they came on 7000 of the enemy and called out to them to surrender as cool as possible and they all surrendered like a shot you never saw such fools. I cant describe all the villages and places we came through in a sort of triumphal progress. Castrovillari was one of the nicest of them much better streets and awfully welllpaced and cleaner than most. The people there seem to have suffered more than anywhere from the Neapolitan Government. They told us every tenth man at least had been stuck in prison for something or other by the government. They all rose and received us splendidly as they did all the way along the priests at the head of them. They are a very religious people there. Then we went through the Bassilicata and Rotondo. I went page 318on a head with Col. Peard and got here the day before yesterday. There were about 12,000 Neapolitan troops here but they went off as we went in and the town surrendered to us.
It was the greatest joke you ever saw the people thought Peard was the General He is like him and has the same sort of dress and all the swells of the place came the Bishop Judges Municipal swells and all to have an audience with him. He received them as cool as anything and listened to all they said without theyre having any idea it wasnt the General till up came the General himself in a carriage and saw what was up and called out like the rest when he saw Peard viva Garibaldi and everybody roared.
Ive been up early this morning writing all this rigmarole as I expect we shall be off soon for Naples. I wish I could remember all that has happened. There are a lot of people swarming in from Naples to see us by Jove I believe thats Bamptons voice
8th. It was old Bampton not a bit changed I was glad Ive just got time to shut this up were off to Naples Yours
Bampton to Mr. Saunders.
Dear Mr. Saunders When I got here on the sixth I found all bustle and confusion. On the way I met conflicting reports it was difficult to get any information I could rely upon. At Turin they told me the Pie-page 319montese army was marching on Naples to relieve Garibaldi, others said to protect Francesco secondo from Garibaldi. Some said Garibaldi was in danger, others that he had been defeated by the Neapolitan army and was flying, others that he had gone further than Cavour wished and others again that the King of Naples had massed his troops north of Naples and intended to give him a crushing blow there, that he had allowed him to come on so far without offering any but a nominal resistance intending to catch him in a trap.
At Florence I could see there was great anxiety and different stories were told varying with the political opinions of those who told them. But I passed on. At Rome the anxiety was greater. I restrained an ardent wish to see all that there is to be seen at Rome or at least some of the greater sights and again pushed on keeping my purpose fixed to reach our old friend and if possible bring him back with me. If we could start in time we might see something of Rome on our way back. The feeling among the people at Rome seemed on the whole sympathetic with Garibaldi, but doubtful of his ultimate designs. I fear lest with success he will grow more and more hostile to the Church. I fancy he has been playing a masked game getting all he can out of the Church while secretly determined to undermine it if not openly to attack it. The Italian character is complicated, convoluted, it hath many folds and is not simple.
The journey from Florence to Rome was difficult. But at length as all things have an end we got to the page 320frontier of the Papal states situated in a barren cold mountainous country. So at least it appeared to be to me when at dead of night we arrived there in the dilatory diligence after hours of excruciating torture by the way and in utter destitution as far as the animal was concerned within, making me more than ever convinced that nature never intended me to be destitute of anything.
At the frontier the good paternal government insisted upon our being fumigated before we were allowed to enter the States of the Church. Infection of liberalism or protestantism or both I suppose being dreaded in the Holy City. I pleaded guilty to the first heresy but stoutly denied the latter. I told the grim official of the Pope half a fumigation would be enough for me "nonsono Protestante sono lnglese e Catholico ma liberale" I said. He didnt see my point looked doubtfully at me and not liking my jocular air and wishing also I have no doubt to show off his French as I had been to show off my Italian, replied "Monsieur c'est grave."Grave it was standing in a small room half suffocated with the fumes of some abominable chemical compound, trying to breathe in a thick fog of nearly the same density as we enjoy in London every morning from November to March. Our baggage also was similarly fumigated to prevent the taint of light literature, but only the topmost things could have been much affected by the process the fumes could not possibly have reached far down among the under strata of shirts and trousers. This farce being over we escaped to have our baggage overhauled by page 321other officials. I soon got over that ordeal having nothing to conceal. Two fat degenerate monks fared worse a bottle of something probably Chartreuse verte was found upon each of their persons. They not having the means of redeeming them had to leave them behind a perquisite I presume for the officials.
At last we got to Civita Vecchia and then to Rome. It is very disappointing to one who has thought much about Rome, its ancient splendours, its mediaeval glories, and all its antiquities to discover you are really there, really at Rome itself, by seeing "Roma" written up in the most prosaic way in a railway station. I could scarcely realise so much of my pilgrimage was done when aweary and half asleep I was roused by a porter shouting out "Roma" and I looked out and there I really was. I had seen no Coliseum no Cupola of S. Peter's no Vatican, not one of the seven hills, not even the English burial ground where Keats lies buried in "a spot so sweet it would make one in love to be buried there," nor had I passed through one of Roma's many gates, but there we were in an ugly station just as one would be at Birmingham or Leeds or at any other unromantic unhistoric place, and I was told that ugly modern station was Rome, the eternal City, once mistress of the tangible world still mistress of the better part of the world's spirit How short of expectation fall the dull facts of life.
Still resisting all temptation to loiter by the way I hurried on and got at last to the dominions of worthy King Francesco and found that amiable monarch bidding page 322adio to his people in what was really a very dignified address. Who wrote it for him I can't tell. I can hear of no one among his ministers capable of forming or expressing such ideas, and he certainly couldnt himself. If he had only been made to act during his reign in anything like the tone of it he might still have remained King of the Two Sicilies. We met him going, like Hannibal, to Capúa, and I afterwards heard in spite of all his affection for his people, and the promises of reform contained in his address, he had not omitted to shoot a Parthian arrow at them by ordering both the Castello del Ovo and the fort of S. Elmo still occupied by his artillery to bombard the town if Garibaldi attempted to enter it. This seems to have been the general programme with that effete and monkey government, to retreat for fear of blows, and retreating to fire on their own towns and people, so as to get a small revenge.
Had this wretched order been carried out a worse destruction might have fallen upon Naples than if hot cinders from Vesuvius had surged up to and over the devoted city. For despotic governments however feeble in their proper art of governing are generally strong in providing means of destroying the people who are unhappily within their clutches. Naples was in a curious state scarce knowing what to do. Rid of a nightmare in the person of their king, hearing Garibaldi the deliverer was near at hand, but tremblingly afraid of S. Elmo and not knowing what brood of chickens in the shape of shells and curses Castello del Ovo might bring forth. But Garibaldi I heard was already at Salerno and I knew page 323Frank was with him so I got up early next day and was off by train before breakfast. All was silence and expectation. As I passed Vesuvius with its thin curly cloud of smoke ever ascending it seemed a type of this great city. No one could tell for no one knew what would happen next yet all did know that fires lay there ready to burst forth and overwhelm kings and tyrants if there was any one to cause sufficient friction by giving the necessary push. And as I went along near the spot where cities lay buried it seemed an awful power that had been given to this one man, this new Napou leon this lion of the desert. And would that providence which has evidently raised him up to fight give him wisdom and strength in council that he may turn his victories into lasting blessings for the people, or must a foolish policy turn them to the destruction of the bad old systems only, leaving nothing better in their place?
These thoughts were speedily dissipated as we got near Salerno. There I quickly jumped out and from among an idle crowd of sight seers and lion hunters forced my way to Garibaldi's head quarters, forced my way in and up stairs though some resistance was offered. I thought if I could find an official about Garibaldi he would be able to tell me where Frank was. I was arguing with a good natured red shirted fellow with a gun in his hand ready to go off and shoot any body, I had just made him comprehend who I wanted when at that moment a door opened and there stood Frank. I glared at him and he glared at me. What dull cold unimpassioned beings we are. Had page 324we been Italians, French, Spaniards even Germans or Russians we should have rushed into each others arms and in a long embrace poured out all we felt and which we two had no idea how to express. We only looked and were silent To shake hands and say how do you do is the Englishman's greeting when he meets another after any interval. It is what we say every where to every friend we meet whom we meet every day, and I believe it was what I said then to Frank. I hadn't seen him for twenty years and I know what I meant was not how do you do, that I could see, I meant how have you been all this time? what change has taken place in you what change within as well as without; are you the same? Not how do you do but how will you do? will you be the same, or have these changing years made you some other, with other interests and affections, shall thieving time prove himself to have been a robber of what we knew and loved when we were young and could know and love? that was what I meant by my prosaic how do you do. I think Frank said nothing at all. I remember he took me by the arm and led me to a chair and I sat down. It was a large barely furnished room after the Italian fashion in a big house or palace. As far as I remember there were only two or three chairs in it. Frank had been writing at a table in the middle of the room when he was interrupted by my altercation with the sentry. He sat down at the table put his elbows on it and his face in his hands. Those brown curls you remember were grown black but more grey than black. He had a short beard very very grey,page 325
"As though the sorrows he had known
Had stolen half his life away."
He wore the ordinary red Garibaldian shirt a big pair of boots loose trousers and beyond that I dont think he had anything, unless it was a broad scarf which helped to keep together the large collar of his red shirt but not very closely. His face was tanned by many suns and marked by many storms, but though it was a dark brown it still kept something of the old delicacy of complexion. If I had met him in the street I should not have known him but I think I should have stopped to look at him, as long as he was in sight, as one looks at a fine strong ship that has been tossed about in many seas and has weathered many storms, and has got to look oldish and weather beaten, but interests us more than the light luxurious pleasure crafts that sail more gracefully by.
At last he said I must take you to see the General. How curious it is, what compound creatures we are and what small creatures too we must be. I had been looking forward to this meeting for many years, often coming often put off, and now here it was and we had met under most strange surroundings, I had travelled far and fast to see him, put up with many inconveniences, and now when I heard the great dictator was going to have breakfast and I must come too, I felt glad. I had got up very early and come some way by train and had not broken my fast and was hungry, still I think nothing on such an occasion ought to have made me feel hungry. No sooner it seems do we meet an old friend after many years absence than we ask him to have something to eat, page 326or we expect him to ask us to feed. I fear we are only animals indeed, with strong affections but also with strong appetites, only animals and not quite such fine ones as some of those we conceitedly call the lower animals. Did you ever meet an old dog who had been yours once and had loved you and looked upon you as his master and you had ruthlessly given him away or sold him and after a long time had gone to see him or casually met him, and uttering a low sorrowful whine as you patted him did he put his head on your knees and look up into your face with feeling too deep for utterance, and did you then offer him a bone or something else to eat especially beloved by dogs? If you had done this to one worthy of the name he would have stayed gazing with his sad eyes right into your face wondering that he must part from you being only a dog while you in his imagination would go on forever, and he would have let any cur come to take the bone away then, a thing not to be endured at any other time by dogs.
So we went into the presence of the dictator. Franks own description of him is the best. Not big but robust with a diffident manner but frank and noble, rough as could be with a gentleness that is indescribable. I thought I had never seen so curious a mixture or a more extraordinary man. There were several others with him but he seemed glad to see Frank come, he is evidently fond of "Franko" as he calls him to me. He was very polite because I was Frank's friend "il mio amico fidelissimo" said Frank. I thought I could detect a little tinge of jealousy on the part of the dictator as though he page 327didn't care about any one coming who might take him away, but he was extremely courteous and talked to me much about the English Government and asked me how the popular feeling was in England about recent events in Italy. We had a long talk, and he treated Frank with something like deference and with a marked respect and consulted him on different matters, and asked his opinion as to the best time and how to enter Naples, and so on. It was a regular Italian collazione but the General eat little and drank only water. He seemed anxious to get to his coffee and cigarettes. I was not sorry to retire either and go out with Frank who made holiday for the rest of that day.
It was a warm jolly autumn day, more than warm but not too hot. The ice was broken and as we sat in a cafe with our excellent coffee and smoking our Cavour cigars, and then in our leisurely ramble over old Salerno ancient seat of medicine when Greek, Italian, Moor, once led the van of that empiric science which has made so little progress since the day its university was founded, we discoursed of many things that had come to pass since we two met last. It was not a day for gloomy thoughts, it was that delightful day that comes so seldom to us poor mortals in a lifetime, it will never fade from my memory while memory is.
He didn't speak then as he has since of his own sorrows, all seemed bright and happy, and the blue waves that washed the beach seemed to have a lulling sensation. We sat and gazed at the water and at the distance beyond. He spoke at last of his mother, I told him all page 328I knew and of his aunt's and his brother's death, and that it seemed to me to be clearly his duty to come back to look after his mother and nephew, and that anything else would be a selfish cowardice.
We wandered back when it was getting dusk and sat out again in the evening viewing the joyous scene. Caffés filled with sun-burnt warriors and a people just freed from an intollerable rule and knowing not how to express their joy. They somewhat resembled Frank and me I thought. We had many thoughts crowding on our minds which we could not express. Those poor people had been liberated by these good warriors and now they could hardly realise that they were free nor knew how worthily to celebrate the event. We went early to rest and to think over the events of the day and of all we had been talking of.
It was well we did retire early for at day-break every where was bustle and confusion, and after a slight repast we started in a special train for Naples. Garibaldi made Frank go in the carriage with him and Frank got me in too. I felt I had no business there but I wouldnt have missed the sight of the dictator's journey and entry into Naples for a great deal. There were only four carriages in the train but steps, roof, everything was crowded by eager veterans going on to the goal of their campaign. It was a flowery procession. At each station we passed crowds came down for all knew the dictator, the liberator, was passing through. We were smothered in fragrant flowers. Even the engine heaved beneath its burden of roses. At Portici we came to a standstill the people page 329must and would see him and if possible shake hands. The way was blocked by cheering happy crowds we could hardly get along, and when at last a way was cleared we could only go at a walking pace amidst the shouts and cries and evivas of joy all along the way.
How shall I describe our entry into Naples. For some time I had been a little anxious lest all this garlanding should be but a decoration of the victims going to slaughter. For if S. Elmo or the Castello had obeyed the king and saluted us with bursting shell immense destruction must have followed, and we knew what orders had been given by the kind retreating monarch.
But the whole world seemed mad. It was frantic jubilation at Naples. Those foolish people unable to keep up a feeling long enough to make them fight for freedom are just the ones to make high holiday when anyone else has won it for them. When the dictator got out of the train the shouts the screams the yells of joy were piercing. He was hardly allowed to get to the carriage which was waiting for him. The carnival that followed was mere childish foolery. They took him to the Toledo Palace and crowded the streets outside. He made Frank keep by him and Frank made me stay near so I saw all, and I noticed the weary look which after a time came over the wonderful man. He longed for rest. He had been up at four as his custom is and he invariably sleeps in the middle of the day. But all that day the people thronged the Toledo. Mazzini was there to join in the triumph and was requested to leave the city at once by the dictators dictates. Old Dumas was page 330there living in a royal palace as fussy as a fly round a sugar basin, and a number of others who know how to share in a triumph better than to fight for one.
The day was spent in wild huzzahs and frivolous tokens of delight. Only one piece of restraint I saw. When the general could stand it no longer and insisted on some repose an officer went out on a balcony of the palace and called to the roaring crowd "il dittatore dorme" they were hushed in a moment and went off to other parts of the town where they could make as much noise as they pleased.
I must finish now. There is more hard work a head for the fighting men yet I can see. As to the general his difficulty lies not in fighting but in being wise in his political management after victory.
I will write again in a few days to say how all goes on. I must get back soon but I wont come without Frank. Yours very affectionately
C. A. Bampton.
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.