Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

cause.

65

among the first martyrs in his country's leader of those “ Cacciatori Genovesi’

“On the 21st," wrote a friend who did wonders of courage and were from Palermo, one of our columns, decimated at Calata Fimi; Orsini and La “ headed by the gallant and generous Masa, both Sicilians, and many others " Rosolino Pilo, had, at S. Martino, a like them, joined as brothers in the same “ fierce encounter with the royalists : patriotic work with persons of the " the Sicilians were few ; still they highest nobility. Lads of aristocratic “ fought valiantly-Pilo foremost ; but families, as well as of humble extrac

through his ardent nature, and full of tion, inspired from their childhood with "noble courage, he exposed himself to the love of their country by their own " the last; and the last shot of the parents, have abandoned their homes to “ royalists wounded him mortally. The fight for Italy, writing, on their depar“ loss of this man is a great misfortune ture, the most touching letters, full of “ for the Sicilians.”

a deep sense of duty, to soften their Garibaldi's expedition was entirely mothers' grief. You see in all this the the work of patriots, who acted inde- symptoms of the resurrection of a counpendently of any assistance or favour try, the youthfulness of a race, which, from the government. Money, arms, though trampled down for centuries, has ammunition, were provided by means of in itself the seeds of a noble future. popular contributions; and, at the end, The success of the Sicilian revolution, from the funds raised, in the name of under the leadership of Garibaldi and Garibaldi, for “Il Milione di Fucili," his companions, will necessarily lead to though not without difficulty, owing to the re-opening of the whole Italian official control on the money thus col- question. The news from the peninsula lected. Garibaldi has been and is also seem already to point to the spreading not indifferently helped by private sub- of the revolution in the continental scriptions in England, from different portion of the kingdom as unavoidquarters, with a unanimity which is the able. The party which desires national highest testimonial to the noble devo- unity has greatly increased even at tion of his glorious enterprise.

Naples : the most distinguished minds Men of democratic principles, as of the kingdom (the greater number Bixio, Sirtori, Savi, the editor of the of them in exile) have declared for Unità Italiana of Genoa, Mosto, the annexation. Many of them form now

part of the Italian Parliament at Turin; Giuseppe Sirtori was originally a priest. and they will not easily be induced He is a Lombard. At an early age he became

to

their independent conconvinced of the falsehood of Roman Catholicism, and then, consistently with the sincerity stitutional position, to venture their of his conscience, gave up the priestly office. freedom and life under a sham-constituBut deeply religious at heart, he turned tion granted, through compulsion, by to the cause of the moral and national

the descendant and imitator of a series regeneration of his country that spirit of devotion which he would have given to the

of sovereigns who have repeatedly Church if true to its mission. Thus he broken through all constitutional secubecame a soldier of liberty and indepen- rities, and laid violent hand on the redence. In '49, during the siege of Venice, his perfect calmness in the very face of death

presentatives of the country in the very made him an object of admiration to his

sanctuary of their parliamentary funcBoldiers. He commanded there the battalion tions. The army itself, worked upon of Lombard volunteers. During the exile, he by patriotic ideas, will not long resist applied himself with assiduity to military

the call of the nation. All these cirstudies, preparing himself for the expected national wars.

He is now one of the most cumstances exercise a deep influence on able officers of Garibaldi, and the chief of his the subjects of Francis II.; whilst on the staff. He was slightly wounded at Calata Fimi. other side the Italians know well that a La Masa is a Sicilian, who took a prominent

separate dynasty in the south of the part in the insurrection of Palermo in '48; Orsini

, a Sicilian also, a very experienced peninsula will never be a faithful ally officer, and an exile since '49.

to the rest of the country. Diplomacy

:

renounce

a

sea.

may delay, but will not be able to pre- her forces, a new law of equilibrium vent, the formation of a united Italy. conformable to national exigencies, as a Will force then be used ?

We hope

condition of peace and improvement. that no European power will commit Italy free, independent, united, within itself to such a course ; we trust that

the limits of her Alps, will help in England will efficiently back with its keeping France and Germany at peace ; moral influence the cause of the Italian she will naturally co-operate with Engnation. Any interference would lead land in preserving the freedom of the not only to a regress in Italian affairs Geography, experience of past which, sooner or later, the Italians would errors, and social condition appoint the

, retrieve by revolution; but it would also Italian nation to a pacific mission in create a complication of a serious nature Europe.

Europe. But let, above all, the Italians as regards the interests of the naval of all parties earnestly act for themselves, powers in the Mediterranean. Let Sicily with energy and comprehensiveness solve the question of her destinies by equal to the great task they have in her own free vote ; let the principle of hand. Let them be convinced that any non-intervention be fairly applied to the division in the camp is fatal, that all progressive development of Italian na- political and personal antagonisms must tionality, and, if national unity should be waived in presence of their country's be the result, let the world acknowledge cause, and that if they manfully rely and welcome the event.

on their own action and on the justice Europe requires a redistribution of of their cause, Italy is theirs.

THE BOOT.

FROM THE ITALIAN OF GIUSEPPE GIUSTI.

[ocr errors]

WHEN Giusti wrote the poem of which we here offer a translation, a quarter of a century back, Italy was in the apprehension of most minds a geographical expression, and nothing more. That unique physical configuration of the peninsula, which has arrested the attention of every boy or girl who has ever studied a map of Europe since maps were first correctly drawn, was the sole tangible “unity" of Italy in which anybody north of the Alps could then profess a belief, without laying himself open to the imputation of being a mere political enthusiast and dreamer. The undeniable resemblance to the shape of a boot is the basis upon which Giusti built this poem. It was natural for a poet, whose every line was written with the view of awakening among his countrymen that strength of feeling and purpose which alone might enable them to restore Italy to the rank of a free nation, to take hold in some shape or other of a permanent fact, which neither native municipal jealousy, local tyranny, nor foreign contempt or repression, could contradict or do away with. The Boot, with its strong hem or fringe of Alps at top, and its broad seam of Apennine down the middle-coinciding in its extent with the spoken Italian language-was a symbol of unity so pointedly at variance with the existing subdivision of despotic principalities, as readily to form a speaking text for a suggestive sermon. The historical fortunes of the poor Boot, as it has been torn and pulled out of its pristine and native compactness by the rapacity of one appropriator after another, until, from being the wonder of the world as the cradle and centre of the Roman Empire, it has fallen to its patchwork condition of the nineteenth century, shaped themselves in Giusti's mind into a humorous and pointed allegory. It is difficult for those who have lived in a land where freedom of political discussion has been long coextensive with freedom of thcught, to appreciate the skill of the irony which, under the censorship of an Austrian police, was at once the most neces

cessary and the most effective weapon of

.

a

offence and defence for an anonymous writer whom everybody knew. To the subtle apprehension of all among his own countrymen who sympathized with his yearnings for a nobler national life, at a time when such sympathy involved frequent inconvenience, and some danger, Giusti's Boot conveyed a truth and a moral spur in the most forcible manner. At a time when the calm firmness of the attitude taken by the Italians of North and Central Italy has baffled foreign intrigue, falsified the sneer which spoke of “La Terre des Morts,” and won for themselves the conditions of a national existence—at a moment when a noble and unselfish heroism is still struggling in the South against enormous odds to give an equal share of liberty to the long-oppressed subjects of the Sicilian kingdom—English readers will not be unready to listen to the utterances of a foreign humour, and to value, as they have been valued by his countrymen, the words of the greatest and most national poet of the present generation of Italians.

The particular allusions to different wearers of the Boot will in general be easily understood by readers of Italian history; though one or two of them are rather puzzling. The “German full of bluster,” probably refers not so pointedly to any single invader, as to the contests between the German emperors, the great towns, and the Church, at intervals, from Barbarossa to Henry the Seventh. The rise of the Venetian and Genoese republics, the struggles of Charles of Anjou and Peter of Aragon, the Sicilian Vespers, and the magnificent tyranny of the Medici, are in their turn sufficiently indicated. The rivalry between French and Spaniards for the rich prize of Italy, which culminated in the wars of Francis the First and Charles the Fifth, is balanced by a reference to the shameless nepotism of the Popes, repeated in the instances of Bertrand de Poïet, John and Cæsar Borgia, and so many other illegitimate scions of successive Papal families. The misused power and “crooked courses” of the first Napoleon, who might have made Italy free and great in unity, if he had wished to do so, are finely pointed out in the last allusion to the past fortunes of the Boot; and the half-dozen concluding verses are as clear and forcible an exposition of the spirit and policy which are still required for the best solution of the Italian problem as if they had been written in the present year. No foreign interference or usurpation-" no French or German leg, you understand,” to fill the Boot, and no French or German bootmaker to manipulate the material, or to fix the pattern! Italy, if left alone-farà da se.

I am not made of ordinary stuff,

Nor am I such a boot as rustics wear ;
And if my shape seem hewn out in the rough,

No bungler's stamp of workmanship I bear :
With double soles, and action firm and free,
I'm formed for any work by land or sea.

Up to mid-thigh I stand, nor ever stir,

Deep in the water, yet am just as sound ;
I'm good for sporting, good to wear the spur,

As many asses to their cost have found :
All stitched compact and firm by vigorous needle,
With hem at top, and seam straight down the middle.

But then, I'm not drawn on with so much ease,

Nor am I fit for any trifler's use ;
A slender foot I should but lame or tease,

To suit the vulgar leg I should not choose :
There's no one yet has kept me on throughout ;
They've worn me just a little, turn about.

I won't inflict on you the category

Of all who've tried to get me for their own, But only here and there, to fit my story,

Note such and such, most worthy to be known ;
Relating how my ruin first was planned,
And thieves have passed me down from hand to hand.
You'll think it past belief, but once I started

Off at full gallop of my own accord,
And right across the whole known world I darted,

Till overhaste betrayed me,I was floored :
My equilibrium lost, I lay extended
This way and that, and so the matter ended.
A grand confusion followed : o'er me surged

A flood of every race and savage fashion,
Tumbling from all outlandish quarters, urged

By a priest's counsel, or a demon's passion;
One seized me by the instep, one the calf,
And jeering cried, “Who'll get the bigger half ?”
The priest, despite his cloth, to try the boot

Upon his own account showed some desire,
But, finding that I did not suit his foot,

Hither and 'thither let me out on hire:
Now to the earliest bidder in the mart
He yields me, acting but the boot-jack's part.
To wrestle with the priest, and plant his heel

Firm in me, came a German full of bluster;
But oft to bear him home, as turned the wheel,

Those heels were forced their utmost speed to muster : He tried and tried enough to gall his foot, But never yet could pull on all the boot. Left for a century upon the shelf,

A simple trader next I'll name who wore me,
Gave me a blacking, made me stir myself,

And o'er the sea to Eastern climates bore me,
In rough condition, but a perfect whole,
And set with good hob-nails about the sole.
My merchant friend, grown rich, a fitting act

Deemed it to deck me out with greater cost;
Tassels and golden spurs were on me tacked,

But something of solidity was lost;
And in the long run, finding out the difference,
For those good primitive nails I own a preference.
You could not find in me a crack or wrinkle

When I one day a Western rascal saw
Leap from his galley plump upon my ankle,

And try to clutch it with his little claw ;
But fair and softly—two could play that game ;
One vesper at Palermo, he went lame.
Among the other foreign dilettanti,

A certain King of Spades with all his might
Would pull me on-but while he toiled and panted

Found himself planté ld in sorry plight;

a

A capon, jealous of the hen-roost, crowed
And threatened to alarm the neighbourhood.
In those same times, my fortune's underminer,

Cunningly bent its ruin to complete,
Sprang from his shop a certain Mediciner,

Who next, to make me easy to his feet, And profitable wearing, spun a thread Of plots and frauds that o'er three centuries spread. He smoothed me, decked me out with tinsel, rubbed

Unguents and humbugs in at such a rate, My very leather into holes was scrubbed, And all who since have meddled with

my

fate
Set about tinkering me by the receipt
Of that same school of black and vile deceit.
Thus harassed, tossed about from hand to hand,

The aim and object of a harpy-swarm,
I felt a Frank and Spaniard take their stand,

Contending which could prove the stronger arm; At length Don Quixote bore me off, but found me Crushed out of shape with all the blows around me. Those who beheld me on his foot have told me

This Spaniard wore me in most evil style ;
He smeared me o'er with paint and varnish, called me

Most noble, most illustrious ; but the file
He worked by stealth, and only left me more
Ragged and tattered than I was before.
Still half-way down me grew, in vermeil coloured,

One lily, token of departed splendour;
But this a shameless Pope, of birth dishonoured

(To whom all glory may the Devil render),
Gave the barbarians, making compact base
To crown a scion of his guilty race.
Well, from that moment each one at his will

With awl and shears in cobbler-craft might dabble And so from frying-pan to fire I fell ;

Viceroys, police, and all that sort of rabble,
To grind me down struck out a new idea,
Et diviserunt vestimenta mea.
Thus clutched alternately by paw of famished

Or vicious beast in rude and clumsy revel,
That old impression by degrees had vanished

Of well-cut feet, firm planted on the level,
Such as without a single step perverse
Had borne me safely round the universe.
Ah me! poor boot, I have been led astray,

I own it now, by this most foolish notion,
While yet to walk or run I had free play,

By stranger legs I would be put in motion, Nor from my mind the dangerous dream could pluck, That change of limb would bring me change of luck.

a

« AnteriorContinuar »