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his host endeavoured to relieve the tedium of delay by arlegen→ dary narrative, the wild character of which was well suited to the scene. 407 borupa viited
'At the time when the family of Marsano possessed the fief of Ni castro, which added the title of Count to the many other hereditary dignities they already boasted, one of its possessors had married a female of the house of Concublet, barons of Arena, a lineage more illustrious even than his own, as derived in a straight line from one of the companions of Robert Guiscard. The lord of Nicastro and his consort had for many years led an existence of uninterrupted happiness, in the full splendour of feudal grandeur. They were beloved by their vassals, respected by the neighbouring barons, and blessed with a numerous offspring.
He was of a social hospitable disposition, and addicted to the pleasures of the chase; while the countess divided her time between the cares due to her family, the exercise of charity, the pursuits of study, and a strict observance of all acts of piety and religion. The winter season had set in with a rigour hitherto unknown in these latitudes; and though the Vale of St. Eufemia was verdant in olive and cork trees, the mountain forests were leafless, and the peaks of Reventino white with snow. The charities which the countess exercised at all times were now distributed with increased benevolence and liberality; while her husband gave particular injunctions to bis gamekeepers and guards to watch over the cattle belonging to such of his vassals whose habitations were, from their lonesomeness or elevated situation, more exposed to attacks from the wolves infesting the pine woods, and now rendered doubly ferocious by hunger and cold.
The keepers were out during the whole of the long winter nights, and on each successive morning brought to their master an account of operations so congenial to his pursuits and taste. One day they returned later than usual, with a terrific detail of their nocturnal rambles, and the boldest and most robust among them related, that having been accidentally separated from his companions, he found himself exposed to the most imminent peril through the attacks of three wolves, of more than ordinary strength and ferocity, which required all his experience and activity to elude; and which would probably have proved fatal to him, had not the arrival of the rest of his band put the infuriated animals to flight. Before this, however, he had engaged in single combat with one of them, whose foot he had cut off by a stroke of his cutlass and brought home in his game bag. The count rewarded him for his bravery, and eagerly required a sight of this trophy. The keeper obeyed; and the bag being turned inside out, produced, instead of a wolf's shaggy paw, a delicate white hand, apparently chopped off at the wrist. The domestics shrunk back in amazement, which was only equalled by the count's horror, when, on a nearer investigation, he descried on one of the slender fingers an emerald ring. He snatched it up hastily, and thrusting it into his bosom, rushed towards the apartment of his wife, whom being indisposed, he had not seen since the preceding evening. He found her yet in bal, and apparently in a state of greater suffering than the foregoing day;
but she received him with her usual complacency, and extended her hand to press his with conjugal affection. Observing no ring on it, he hastily inquired what had become of the emerald he had given to her, some time before. She hesitatingly replied, that she usually wore it on her left hand, which he observed she kept carefully concealed under the pillow; these he eagerly threw from the bed; and tearing off as linen handkerchief which was twisted round her wrist, exposed to the affrighted gaze of her attendants a mutilated limb, deprived of its extremity. It is needless to add, that the countess was one of those unfortunate beings who paid the penalty of association with the powers of darkness, by a periodical metamorphosis into a brute form, under which she was condemned to wander at certain periods of the moon. The belief in this particular branch of popular superstition is common to all countries much infested with wolves, and has probably given rise to the peculiar mania called by Vossius, Lycanthropia.'
What became of the lady bisclaveret, does not appear. Either Mr. Craven's host had not got his tale perfect, or the Author has preferred to leave the sequel to the reader's imagination. He states that he has since found a similar incident in a book called "Le Dictionnaire Infernal." He might meet with many such stories of periodical metamorphosis, transmitted to us from the Troubadours. The notorious transformation of witches in more northern latitudes into white cats, belongs to the same class of popular superstitions.
The population of the Southern portion of the promontory, that is to say, the fine provinces of Principato Citra and Ultra, and the two Calabrias, are said to have very extensively embraced the principles of the sect of Carbonari. It would be difficult, Mr. Craven states, to point out any particular province which, in this respect, now claims a preeminence; but, for a long period, these provinces were looked upon by Government with peculiar jealousy. If the Carbonari,' he says, do not constitute the positive numerical majority of the Neapolitan nation, which is a matter of some doubt, they include in their ranks that portion of the population which, from their acquirements, property, habits, and relative situation in the body politic, must ever give a decided preponderance to whatever part they assume.' The wide diffusion of their principles, which are said to prevail almost universally among the provincial militia, is to be accounted for by the advantages which the initiated enjoy from being members of so extensive a confederation; advantages mainly consisting in the courtesy, sympathy, and assistance which every member of the body is sure of receiving from his brethren. That their efforts have been directed to obtain a representative system of government, is undeniable, but Mr. Craven represents them as by no means assuming an exclusive agency in the affairs of state: they are not, he says, to be re
garded as a political faction, their principles being rather a modification of freemasonry. Decrees fulminated against such an institution, could have no other effect than that of multiplying its adherents. Of the difficulty of breaking the links of this well constructed chain, the following anecdote affords a striking illustration. Two itinerant traders in cattle were returning from Abruzzo, when they were stopped near home by a comitiva of five brigands. The captain of the gang accidentally discovered that one of them was a Carbonaro, and taking him aside, asked him if his companion belonged to the sect. Being answered in the negative, he thought himself at liberty to despoil the one of his gains, while, out of sympathy with the other, he limited his depredations to the sum of ten ducats. The sufferer, having observed the secret conference which had ended so favourably for his fellow-traveller, suspected the truth; and after obtaining an avował of it, determined on becoming a Carbonaro. He was initiated that very evening, and returned to his own house so elated with having provided himself with what he deemed an unfailing security against all future attacks of robbers, that he heedlessly informed his wife of the occurrences of the day. This imprudent disclosure raised a tempest of reproaches and lamentations on the part of the wife, who had imbibed the prejudices purposely disseminated against the sect among the lower orders, which he could appease only by suffering her to expiate his criminal imprudence by throwing into the fire his breeches, containing the diploma of his reception, and a catechism of the duties of his new profession. The next morning she went to the justice of the peace with the fatal documents which she had taken care secretly to rescue from the flames, as vouchers for the authenticity of her information. The justice of the peace, having heard her complaint, received the papers, and told her that he would give her husband so salutary a remonstrance that he would answer for his breaking off all connexion with the impious sect to which he had so imprudently attached himself; adding, that he would, moreover, pursue the miscreants with all the severity their conduct deserved. This satisfied the wife, who went home, and sent her husband to receive the promised admonition; but this consisted in a serious caution with regard to future discretion, and an offer on the part of the magistrate to preserve the papers in his own possession, as himself holding one of the highest distinctions among the ranks of the Society in question.
Mr. Craven affirms, that, contrary to the usual order of things, literature and general information are diffused through the remoter districts of the Neapolitan realm, in a degree disproportionately exceeding the quota of knowledge observable in the metropolis. The peculiar habits of its more affluent inhabitants,' he considers as in part accounting for a fact, which any foreigner who has
never travelled beyond the immediate vicinity of Naples, will scarcely credit. Our Author supports the favourable statements of Mr. Eustace relative to Neapolitan literature. No country, he affirms, possesses more original historical documents than the Neapolitan states. In addition to numerous native writers who have exercised their talents on the history of their country,
Each province has had its historian, and even the smallest provincial towns boast of printed accounts of their situation, productions, and antiquities. Perhaps, the most singular feature in Neapolitan literatnre, and that which undoubtedly proves a most praise-worthy degree of zeal, is the circumstance of the whole collection of their historians being reduced to, and printed in, the popular idiom peculiar to the lower classes in the metropolis, which may be considered as the most corrupt, and, in fact, only vernacular Neapolitan dialect. There are, however, several original productions written in Neapolitan, besides versions of the most eminent Italian poets; and what is more extraordinary, one of the Iliad, which is singularly esteemed.' pp. 407-8.
The moral aspect of the kingdom, is altogether dark and cheerless. The facility with which, in cases of petty offences, the culprit may elude pursuit, or purchase impunity by a trifling bribe, the consequent want of veneration for the laws, the indifference with which the effusion of blood is regarded, and the demoralizing influence of the doctrine of human absolution, afford a sufficient explanation of the lawless habits and ferocious dispositions of the inhabitants, without having recourse to the climate and volcanic atmosphere as the cause of moral peculiarities. There is, however, another circumstance which Mr. Craven adduces to account for the quarrelsome and even sanguinary temper of the inhabitants of the Vesuvian towns, which throws additional light on the subject.
The nature of the food of the common peasants, and the heat reflected from the black shining sand which surrounds the base of the mountain, subject them to a degree of thirst which appears incredible to a foreigner; and this they are mostly compelled to quench with cheap heating wine, in the absence of good, or scarcity of bad water. I have been assured by an inhabitant of Somma, that some of the labourers of that district, will, during the summer months, drink as much as fifteen bottles of wine in the course of the day, while a week seldom elapses without some murder taking place.'
inadequate to pro
The quantity, Mr. Craven states to be duce absolute intoxication, but sufficient to keep the blood and 'spirits in a state of continued fermentation.' He should rather have said that its quality is not intoxicating, its pernicious éffect arising, it is evident, in part from the quantity swallowed, and its meagre, acetous quality allowing of potations copious enough to produce a high degree of irritation without its inebriating. In the same manner, even distilled spirits may be taken to excess by long habit, without intoxication; and their effect is similar, acting at once as a poison on the system, and a maddening stimulant on the brain.
The Neapolitan' seldom gives way to mirth without the 'accompaniment of clamour; and when this mirth is stimulated, as it frequently is on days of festivity, by the additional excitements of wine and fanaticism, it runs into Bacchanalish madness. Some of their festal rites, according to Mr. Cravet's description, are a literal representation of the orgies of heathen idolatry; and their noisy processions, in which the Madonna holds the place of Ceres, and the rosary is strangely intermixed with garlands of filberts and vine-leaves, are led by Comus himself. The distant approach of one of these jovial troops,' says our Traveller, announced by peals of laughter, shouts of exultation, with the loud and wild choruses of the peasantry, accompanied by the beating of tamborines and the shrill snapping of castanets, is almost as terrific as the appearance of their frantic dances and overstrained gesticulations. The young and active will, he assures us, on such occasions, dance their way for the space of two or three miles without intermission.
The mountain range of country bordering on the bay of Naples is stated to bear a peculiarly bad name, as offering a secure retreat to felons and homicides. An interesting narrative is given of a young man who had killed a ruffian in self-defence, but had not thought it safe to trust himself within the reach of justice. His flight being construed into a proof of guilt, sentence was pronounced against him, and for a considerable period he never ventured to revisit his paternal home. But, no rigorous search being made, he after some time found means to return occasionally, by stealth, from his concealment; and at length he paid his family a daily visit, regulated by a signal given by his sisters from the back windows of the house, which looked to the steep range of almost inaccessible rocks, covered with wood, that rise above Lettere. In these fastnesses he had resided more than two years, when a friend of the Author's, who was sufficiently in the confidence of the family to be entrusted with his secret, was accidentally present at one of these stolen visits.
He described in impressive language the singular existence thus imposed upon him, and to which he had in a manner become as much habituated as to the exercise of descending and remounting these rugged steeps with a velocity and agility almost incredible. The individual who frequently afterwards saw him, described his descent as something to all appearance supernatural. He was, during the daytime, always lurking among the caves, or perched upon the trees, within hearing of the shrill whistle which gave him the summons to approach, and when it was uttered, a few minutes sufficed to bring him down from the highest precipice. He gave an account of the methodical way in which he divided the few and unvaried occupations that broke the monotony of his solitary hours. The changes of wea