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close to Aspromonte, and says “that a radius of two-and-twenty miles from this point would inscribe a circle, including within its boundary all the cities and villages which were entirely overthrown, while one of seventy-two would comprise the farthest range of its less destructive effects.” I have been surprised to hear the bitterness with which the inhabitants speak of their countrymen in other parts of Italy, even of those of another province. Imagine a Lancashire man looking upon a man of Yorkshire as scarcely belonging to the same country, and you will have some idea of the feelings that prevail here. It is this that will always render it difficult to unite Italy into one homogeneous nation, and make it anything else than a “geographical expression.” When they come to understand the meaning of the word patriotism, and the sacrifices it imposes; when they shall be persuaded that their country can only be freed by subordinating their individual interests to those of the national unity— it is then only that Italy will be ripe for freedom. But, alas! how far is the reality of things from this pleasing perspective, and how long must the friends of Italy wait before these sad words be effaced, which have for so many ages been engraved on her forehead,
Servir sempre, o vincitrice o vinta!
“A slave always, whether conquering or conquered!” I suspect that we must attribute much to the enervating effects of the climate. A three years' residence has enabled me to understand that it requires much mental energy to withstand its weakening influences. It is vain to expect that man can oppose with success the strong hand of necessity, or get over this perpetual round of vice and indolence; yet the climate of Rome is that of the ancient Romans, and the climate of the kingdom of Naples is that where lived the warlike Samnites and Lucanians, and where the Norman adventurers afterwards settled. Such ini. recollections only place in stronger relief the degeneracy of these once valiant races, now sunk into effeminacy and feebleness.
* This opinion of the Italians, formed forty years ago, has been somewhat modified by late events, and yet I fear that Italy will require to be baptised in blood before she be able to form that homogeneous whole which all her friends would rejoice to see her present to the world. She has yet to learn to stand erect without the patronage of her great friend, Napoleon.
BEFORE I left Naples I had fixed on Gerace as the most southern point of Italy that I cared to visit, and you will please to observe that I have kept to my determination, a circumstance for which I intend, of course, to take credit. You will wonder what great attraction Gerace possessed; but this is easily accounted for, as it stands not far from the site of Locri, the most southern of the celebrated cities of Magna Graecia. I have now only to continue my course northwards along the coast for two hundred miles, and I shall visit the site of every ancient city that was famous in former times in this part of the world. I have no doubt that you imagined that I was wandering through the country without any definite object; you will now fully understand this part of my plan, and the rest I must leave to be developed by time. You will recollect that I started from Naples on Tuesday, the 29th of April, and I have reached Gerace on Sunday, the 18th of May, having not loitered much on my journey.
Casal Nuovo stands at the foot of that ridge of the Apennines which terminates near Reggio, opposite to Sicily. It rises to a considerable height, though I found that I should have no difficulty in crossing it, mounted on one of the surefooted ponies of the country. This passage of the mountains is called Il Passo del Mercante, and, as you will not be surprised to hear, is beset with brigands. I found that the Marquis of Gagliardi had, with a degree of kindness for which I feel deeply grateful to him, given directions to his agent that several of his tenants should be sent, fully armed, to accompany me across this dangerous pass. I could have willingly dispensed with this attendance, and, indeed, made strong remonstrances against it; my kind host, however, pleaded so strongly his master's imperative orders that I had nothing for it but to submit, and as all with whom I have conversed declared that it would be a miracle if I escaped, I am inclined to believe that there must have been some real danger. My guard consisted of four men, of whom two were mounted on horseback and two were on foot; they were all, I could see, of very different calibre from the armed police, of whom I have spoken with such contempt. They were men of quick eye and firm purpose, on whose effective assistance I might confidently rely if any danger should present itself. They were furnished with long-barrelled rifles, and were not unprepared for a closer onset and a more deadly struggle. As for myself, my only weapon of defence, if weapon it could be called, was my dilapidated umbrella, which I fear the Italian brigand would not be inclined to consider very formidable. If we met them, however, I intended to flourish it in the way we sometimes alarm cattle; and as they are probably unacquainted with such an article, they might imagine it some deadly weapon of war, and take to flight. As soon as we left the village our ascent of the mountain began, and continued for upwards of three hours without intermission through a thick wood. Occasionally there was an open glade, and then the eye stretched across an extensive plain to the sea, which lay unruffled in the distance, studded with small islands, among which was Stromboli, sending up without ceasing volumes of smoke. Of the island my eye could distinguish nothing; but the lofty peak with the smoke was a remarkable object, and at night my companions said the flames were distinctly visible. As we approached the top a very different scene awaited us, for we got enveloped in so thick a mist that I could have thought myself suddenly transported to my native hills; at last we reached a region where a fearful tempest of thunder and lightning was raging. The wind blew a hurricane, and rain fell in torrents. The climate had completely changed, and I had now to complain of being nearly frozen. I cared little for myself, but my papers and maps stood a great chance of being completely spoiled. I avoided this, however, by transferring them to my companions, who were all furnished with long Calabrese black cloaks, descending to their heels. We were now traversing the territory of the brigands, and though I could not be persuaded that there was the slightest danger from man amidst so fearful a manifestation of the powers of nature, my companions thought otherwise, and took those precautions which their experience of such scenes dictated. Strict silence was enjoined, though I considered this very needless, as the brigands must have had very quick ears to hear even the loudest trumpet amidst the roar of the thunder, as it ran echoing along the mountain's side. One of my guards preceded us by a few yards, and, with his finger on the trigger, kept a sharp look-out on every tree and bush which we passed, while my other companions seemed to be equally on the alert. The beech and the oak were growing in great luxuriance, and the open glades were covered with green grass, reminding me of my native hills. On the summit there was a small piece of table-land, which I was surprised to find partly cultivated, and the grain was just beginning to make its appearance above ground, showing that the temperature of this high-lying spot must not differ much from our own more northern latitude. Here the wind blew with such terrific fury that it was dangerous to remain on horseback, and we all dismounted, prepared to throw ourselves on the ground to avoid being swept away. . I thought of the havoc I had witnessed near Paola, and of the wish that had crossed my mind, that I had been present to see Nature in all her terrors, and it seemed as if I were going to be gratified more speedily than I had then imagined. Sometimes there was a pause in the storm, but we found it was only nature collecting her forces for a grander onset. The lightning was most vivid, and the peals of thunder seemed as if the heavens were rending. Virgil might have been present when he sketched his beautiful description of a thunder-storm (Georg. i. 328):
Ipse Pater, media nimborum in nocte, corusca
Per gentes humilis stravit pavor: ille flagranti
The father of the gods his glory shrouds,
I could not help thinking that this was a disagreeable introduction to Magna Graecia, on the frontiers of which I was now standing, and if I were inclined to be superstitious I should consider it a bad omen. Our descent was by a far steeper path than that by which we had mounted, and it was not long before we had left the storm above us. We met a woman with a careworn countenance, and two men, who were completely enveloped in their long cloaks; but, though we stared at each other with suspicion, neither party entered into conversation. As we gradually issued from the dark clouds with which we had been surrounded, the eye rested on the wide expanse of the Ionian sea, with its whitish-blue colour, which not a breath of wind seemed to have ruffled, and on which the sun was shining brightly. We reached a small village, Agnana, consisting of only a few houses in the gorge of the mountains, and whose inhabitants were said to act as spies to the brigands, and to warn them if an unprotected traveller attempted to cross the mountain. Here we got some coarse bread, cheese, and execrable wine. About a mile below this village all danger was declared to be at an end, and, though we were still many miles from Gerace, my guard thought they might return to Casal Nuovo. I wished to pay them for the trouble they had taken, but they refused to accept anything, saying that they were only too happy to be of use to any friend of the Marquis of Gagliardi; and here I took a farewell of my companions, and proceeded on my solitary way, allowing my muleteer to return, that he might have the protection of my guard in recrossing the mountains. I was not sorry to be left alone, as I felt little inclined to keep up a conversation with those with whom I had so few ideas in common. I know not whether the scenes through which I had just passed might not have imparted a feeling of melancholy to the mind, and made everything appear less joyous than it would otherwise have done, but I suffered an oppression of spirits, for which I could not account. Though the sun shone brightly, and not a drop of rain had fallen where I now stood, there was a gloom and melancholy around which pressed heavily on the spirits. The Apennines run here nearly parallel to the shore, and at the distance of about four miles from it. As far as
the eye can reach, the intermediate space is intersected by numerous undulating ridges, which run down to the shore, and allow of no plain of any extent. At some distance stood the village of Gerace, on a high point, and the gloomy and dark appearance of its houses seemed well to harmonise with the deserted aspect of the surrounding country. I can scarcely tell in what this eastern side of the Apennines differed from the western, for there was loneliness in both, but it was more striking here. The sides of the hills had no marks of cultivation, and even the footpath along which I was proceeding seemed seldom to be trodden. In fact, I could have imagined myself in the midst of an uninhabited country, if I had not seen the castle of Gerace towering in the distance. After some time I reached Gerace, and inquired for the Sotto-Intendente, to whose care I was recommended by my kind friend the Marquis of Gagliardi. A respectable house was pointed out as his residence, and on entering it I was introduced to an old gentleman of a mild and benevolent countenance, who received me in the kindest manner. I dare say that I was a spectacle well suited to call forth a feeling of compassion, as I had been thoroughly drenched on the mountains, and I must have looked jaded and worn out. His excellency's clothes were scarcely suited to my spare figure, but I was glad of any change, however ridiculous might be my appearance, I am now at last in that part of Italy which I have long wished to visit. It has been sometimes asked why it should have been called Magna Graecia, and various ingenious reasons have been suggested, but the one which is most obvious is probably nearest to the truth—that it was from the importance and power of the Greek colonies, which had at a very early period extended over the whole of this part of the country. The name, indeed, does not seem to have had any very definite application, including sometimes even the island of Sicily, yet it was more usual to restrict it to the portion of Italy lying between Locri and Tarentum. It thus contained eight republics, which were generally independent of each other— Locri, Caulonia, Scyllacium, Croton, Sybaris, Heracleia, Metapontum, and Tarentum. Many other smaller cities might be enumerated, which were included under the appellation of Magna Graecia; these, however, were the most important. The shore, of which they had taken possession, was well provided with spacious bays and gulfs, its fertile plains were watered by numerous streams, and its climate could not be excelled. Everything, therefore, concurred to raise it to as high a degree of perfection as nature could possibly reach without the assistance of art. The activity and industry of man exerted on such a country produced the results that might naturally be expected. Abundance of everything that could gratify the desire was the reward of his industry, and if the same exertions were now made, Nature would pour forth her riches with a not less niggardly hand. The secret spring, however, that called forth these exertions is now wanting. Liberty and independence have left those . and I am told that I shall find the whole little else than a barren esert. Of the Greek cities in this part of Italy, the oldest was Locri, the ruins of which are found at no great distance from Gerace. It is said that it was founded principally by a colony of slaves, who, during the absence of their masters, had carried off their wives. Whatever may be the truth