26 JULY 1851, Page 14


OF all the events of this year, at home or abroad, one of the most striking is the publication of Mr. Gladsthne's pamphlet on the State Prosecutions of Naples.* If the mere announcement has caused such a demand as to call forth a second edition almost be- fore the first was published, the perusal of it will excite a still greater sensation in this country, and, though for different reasons, on the Continent. In this country it will create sentiments of sur-

prise and horror. Although the general character of the state- ments is not new, they come before the world with an aspect wholly novel. From this pamphlet the cautious Englishman will learn with amazement that the charges of the Italian Patriots against the Government of Naples are not only true, but even fall short of the reality ; that the case stated with every conceivable precaution, not by a Pepe or a Mazzini, but by a Gladstone—a leader of our own Conservative party, a man only too scrupulous and fas- tidiously exact—is stronger than they ever conceived it to be. The very precautions that he uses to exclude everything but his own main object—to avoid everything like a cumulative case against Naples—give to his narrative an appalling force. The reader understands that he is perusing only a part of the whole history against that iniquitous Government. Before stating the facts, Mr. Gladstone expressly sets aside any political or social questions, whether of logical relation or of legal right, arising out of the Constitution: he treats that as a mere dream or fiction. He excludes the question of Sicily. He raises no poli- tical questions except those which are forced upon him by the details that he has to relate. He begins, as a member of the great Conservative party in Europe, with a bias in favour of esta- blished government. We need not tell our readers who Mr. Gladstone is; with what high constitutional feelings, with what disciplined reasoning, with what a deep sense of responsibility, he must enter upon a statement of the kind—a statement deliberately received by a nobleman not less than himself distinguished for highminded Conservatism, Lord Aberdeen, Minister for Foreign Affairs in Sir Robert Peers Administration.

Such is the writer. He begins by contradicting the "general impression that the organization of the governments of Southern Italy is defective—that the administration of justice is tainted with corruption—that instances of abuse or cruelty among subor- dinate public functionaries are not uncommon, and that political offences are punished with severity, and with no great regard to the forms of justice.' This vague supposition has no relation to the actual truth of the Neapolitan ease.

"It is not mere imperfection, not corruption in low quarters, not occasional severity, that I am about to describe : it is incessant, systematic, deliberate violation of the law, by the power appointed to watch over and maintain it. It is such violation of human and written law as this, carried on for the pur- pose of violating every other law unwritten and eternal, human and divine ; it is the wholesale persecution of virtue when united with intellig,enc ,e operating upon such a scale that entire classes may with truth be said to be its object, so that the Government is in bitter and cruel as well as utterly liiegai hostility to whatever in the nation really lives and moves and forms the main-spring of practical progress and improvement ; it is the awful pro- fanation of -public religion, by its notorious alliance, in the governing powers, with the violation of every moral law under the stimulants of fear and ven- geance; it is the perfect prostitution of the judicial office, which has made it, under veils only too threadbare and transparent, the degraded recipient of the vilest and clumsiest forgeries, got up wilfully and deliberately, by the immediate advisers of the Crown, for the purpose of destroying the peace, • Two Letters to the Earl ofAberdeen on.the State Prosecutions of the Neapolitan Government By the Bight Ron. W. E. Gladstone, M.P. for the University of Ox- ford. Second'etbtion." Published by Mr. Murray. the freedom, ay, and even if not by capital sentences, the life, of men among the most virtuous, upright, intelligent, distinguished, and refined of the whole community ; it is the savage and cowardly system of mond as well as in a lower degree of physical torture, through which the sentences extracted from the debased courts of justice are carried into effect. "The effect of all this is, total inversion of all the moral and social ideas. Law, instead of being respected, is odious. Force, and not affection, is the foundation of government. There is no association, but a violent antagon- ism between the idea of freedom and that of order. The governing power, which teaches of itself that it is the image of God upon earth, is clothed in the view of the overwhelming majority of the thinking public with all the vices for its attributes. I have seen and heard the strong and too true expres- sion used, 'The is the negation of God erected into a system of govern- ment.'" General belief calculates that the political prisoners in the kingdom of the Two Sicilies are in number between fifteen or twenty and thirty thousand: the Government seems to confess to two thousand, but the reader of Mr. Gladstone's pamphlet will not believe the Neapolitan Government ; facts and figures stated by Mr. Gladstone, official but not possible to lie concealed, show that the estimate of two thousand is unreasonable, that of twenty thousand not unreasonable. Amongst the persons imprisoned or exiled was the whole "Opposition" in the Chamber of Deputies elected under the Constitution.

The law of Naples requires that personal liberty shall be in- violable except under warrant of a court of justice: but in fact, men are continually seized, "by the score, by the hundred, by the thousand, without any warrant whatever, sometimes without even any written authority at all, or anything beyond the word of a policeman—constantly without any statement whatever of the nature of the offence." The lowest creatures are em- ployed as police agents ; the prisoner is taunted into sedition, or charges are fabricated; the courts refuse to receive evidence in favour of the prisoner. As a specimen of the treatment, Mr.. Gladstone relates in detail the case of Carlo Poerio, a distinguished lawyer, a late Cabinet Minister, a strict Constitutionalist of the respectable English pattern. Ire was accused, by means of repeated forgeries and barefaced fabrications, of belonging to a Republican sect; his accuser was Jervolino, a disappointed appli- cant for some low office ; one of his fellow prisoners, a noble, was vainly urged by the Director of Police, under promises of "ar- rangement" and threats of "destruction," to testify to Poerio's acquaintance with certain Revolutionary handbills : at the trial, Jervolino could answer no questions about the pretended society; a witness deposed that Jervolino received a pension of twelve du- cats a month from the Government ; Poerio was allowed to call no more witnesses; his judge was one of the persons threatened to be assailed by the pretended society, and the same judge makes no secret of his opinion that all persons charged by the King's Go- vernment ought to be found guilty.

One specimen of this judge's effrontery may be given.

"In two eases it happened to be vrith.n the knowledge of the counsel for the prisoners that the perjured witnesses against them did not even know them by sight. In one of these the counsel desired to be allowed to ask the witness to point out the accused persons among the whole number of those charged, who were all sitting together. The Court refused permission. In the other case, the counsel challenged the witness to point out the man of whose proceedings he was speaking. If I am rightly informed, Navarro, whom I have so lately mentioned, affecting not to hear the question, called out to the prisoner, Stand up, Signor Nisco; the Court has a question to ask you.' fhis was done, and counsel then informed that he might pursue his examination. A laugh of bitter mockery ran through the court."

Poerio was condemned to twenty-four years of irons. "In February last, Poerio and sixteen of the coaccused (with few of whom, however, he had had any previous acquaintance) were confined in the Bagno of Nisithi, near the Lazaretto. For one half-hour in the week, a little pro- longed by the leniency of the superintendent, they were allowed to ace their friends outside the prison. This was their sole view of the natural beauties with which they were surrounded. At other times they were exclusively within the walls. The whole number of them, except I think one, then in the infirmary, were confined night and day in a single room of about sixteen palms in length by ten or twelve in breadth, and about ten in height ; think with some small yard for exercise. Something like a fifth must be taken off these numbers to convert palms into feet. When the beds were let down at night there was no space whatever between them ; they could only get out at the foot, and being chained two and two, only in pairs. In this room they had to cook or prepare what was sent them by the kindness of their friends. On one side, the level of the ground is over the top of the room; it therefore reeked with damp ; and from this, tried with long con- finement, they declared they suffered greatly. There was one window, of course unglazed: and let not an Englishman suppose that this constant seem of the air in the Neapolitan climate is agreeable or innocuous; on the con- trary, it is even more important to health there than here to have the means of excluding the open air, for example, before and at sunset. Vicissitude of climate, again, is quite as much felt there as here, and the early morning is sometimes bitterly cold. "Their chains were as follows. Each man wears a strong leather girth round him above the hips. To this are secured the upper ends of two chains. One chain of four long and heavy links descends to a kind of double ring fixed round the ankle. The second chain consists of eight links, each of the same weight and length with the four; and this unites the two prisoners to- gether, so that they can stand about six feet apart. Neither of these chains is ever undone, day or night. The dress of common felons, which, as well as the felon's cap, was there worn by the late Cabinet Minister of King Ferdi- nand of Naples, is composed of a rough and coarse red jacket, with trousers of the same material—very like the cloth made in this country from what is called devil's dust ; the trousers are nearly black in colour On his head he had a small cap which makes up the suit ; it is of the same material.The trousers button all the way up, that they may be removed at night without disturbing the chains. "The weight of these chains, I understand, is about eight retell, or be- tween sixteen and seventeen English pounds. for the shorter one, which must be doubled when we give each prisoner his half of the longer one. The pri- soners had a heavy limping movement, much as if one leg had been shorter than the other. But the refinement of suffering in this ease arises from the circumstance that here we have men of education and high feeling chained incessantly together. For -no purpose are these chains undone: and- the

meaning of these last words must be well considered—they are to be taken strict 3." Poerio has since been transferred to a worse and more secluded dungeon at Ischia. "Crimine ab uno disce omnes" ; this is only one specimen of many. Mr. Gladstone visited other prisons, tasted the black bread, was not enabled to taste the loathsome soup. But we break off: the reader of this must procure the pamphlet—he will not lay it down till he has read it through, and he will then understand how much we are tempted to multiply these specimens. Mr. Gladstone had refrained from publishing the first letter, in order that Lord Aberdeen, as an individual, might make a friendly representation to the Government of Naples. The statement having been met by miserable special-pleading, Mr. Gladstone publishes his letter; with a second, explaining the cause of the delay. "On the Government of Naples I had no claim whatever; but as a man I felt and knew it to be my duty to testify to what I had credibly heard, or personally seen, of the needless and acute sufferings of men. Yet, aware that such testimony, when once launched, is liable to be used for purposes neither intended nor desired by those who bear it, and that in times of irrita- bility and misgiving, such as these are on the Continent of Europe, slight causes may occasionally produce, or may tend and aid to produce, effects less inconsiderable, I willingly postponed any public appeal until the case should have been seen in private by those whose conduct it principally touched. It has been so seen. They have made their option."

But in this second letter he goes somewhat further back ; tracing the cause of judicial corruption in the political corruption of the Neapolitan Government. He cites the Constitution empowering the people to elect that Parliament whose entire Opposition has been driven into imprisonment or exile; establishing a "limited, hereditary, and constitutional Monarchy, under representative forms " ; establishing a Chamber of Peers and Deputies; declaring that "no description of impost can be decreed except in virtue of a law "; also that "personal liberty is guaranteed," except under "due warrant of law." Now in fact this Constitution is violated in all essentials; how personal liberty is respected, we have seen ; there exists no Chamber of Peers or Deputies; "all taxes are im- posed and levied under royal authority alone"; in short, "the monarchy of Naples is perfectly absolute and unlimited." Know- ing these facts, the reader will be shocked to peruse the adjuration which is in the preamble to the Constitution, given by King Fer- dinand, as he says, "of our own full, free, and spontaneous will "— " In the awful name of the Most Holy and Almighty God, the Trinity in Unity, to whom alone it appertains to read the depths of the heart, and whom we loudly invoke as the judge of the simplicity of our intentions, and of the unreserved sincerity with which we have determined to enter upon the paths of the new political order ; "Having heard, with mature deliberation, our Council of State ; "We have decided upon proclaiming, and we do proclaim, as irrevocably ratified by us, the following Constitution."

In that awful name !

But even that is justified—not by the precedents of the King's two immediate predecessors, though they are strictly applicable— but by a deliberate attempt to corrupt the Neapolitan mind. A I book has been published and forced into general use, entitled " Catechism° Filosofico, per Uso dello Scuolc Inferiori "; the au- thorship of which is ascribed to an ecclesiastic at the head of the Commission of Public Instruction. It is a catechism for young scholars, in the form of a dialogue between master and scholar ;

and is avowedly intended to counteract the false philosophy of the Liberals, who are described as vicious and bad men. It teaches that the Royal power is unlimited, because it is of Divine origin ; that "the people cannot of itself establish fundamental laws in a state," because such laws "are of necessity a limitation of the sove- reignty," which would then be no longer "the highest paramount power ordained of God for the wellbeing of society "; and that a sovereign is bound to keep a. constitution which he has "promised or sworn to maintain "—only "provided it is not opposed to the general interests of the state."

"In a word," says the Catechism, "an OATH never can become an obli- gation to commit evil; and therefore cannot bind a sovereign to do what is injurious to his subjects. Besides, the Head of the Church has authority from God to release consciences from oaths, when he judges that there is suitable cause for it."

Mr. Gladstone has seen that a similar system prevails in Lom- bardy, Modena, and Rome. Ile testifies to the patience, the forti- tude, and the indestructible kindliness of the Neapolitans; he evi- dently wonders at their forbearance. He has learned for himself what Absolutism is in its working ; and of that working, in one department, the English public now has a view on evidence above suspicion.