10 AUGUST 1850, Page 16

MR. BAILLIB COCHRANE'S YOUNG ITALY. * Ku. Comm/am has been passing

some time on the Continent. lie has visited Ltelius (Lord Brougham) in his Tusculum at Cannes ; which he describes, and the many merits of its owner. Re also -visited Naples; had interviews with a minister and his master, and was specially permitted to inspect the state prisons. Mr. Cochrane moreover " assisted " at the Pope's return to Rome. Whether he was present during the Republican rule or the riotens times that preceded it, is not quite so clear; but he gives several sketches of the epoch, involving a history of the [late] Roman Republic, the murder of Count Rossi, and one or two topics partaking more of political disquisition than narrative or description; the parts which depend upon living knowledge being derived from observers, if not from his own observation. There is a sketch of Piedmonthse poli- tics and Austrian rule in Lombardy-, under the title of" Piedmont and the Battle of Novara," with a few tales illustrative of Italian manners and feelings -upon art. The book is the best -Mr. Cochrane has produced; displaying to the greatest advantage his elegant though rather rhetorical style, his conventionally educated eye for beauty, and the historical and political knowledge which an accomplished M. P. may be supposed to possess, applied to the ancient history and present state of Italy. The little fictions interspersed in the volume are better adapted to. the writer's genius than his previous novels were. Mr. Cochrane Ottla felicitously describe a seene, sketch a character, or tell a story ; but he wants art, strength, and constructive skill, to plan in fic- tion a natural picture of life, and to sustain it. A man may write a letter or an essay successfully, who breaks down in an ora- tion, or a similar task ; because in the one case his matter is pro- portioned to the subject, but not in the other. It must be ob- served that Mr. Cochrane's extreme views render him lather a doubtful guide when polities come into question. Ile does not falsify, beyond the falsification of rhetorical phrasing ; but he dwells long upon the alleged crimes of the Liberals and paints them in the darkest colours ; the errors and tyranny a the Abso- lutist governments are not altogether suppressed, but they are handled tenderly, and excuses presented for them if not found. It is probable also that Mr. Cochrane has listened too readily-, if not too greedily, to flying stories promulgated by weak people, or to tales of which no evidence is offered—of which, indeed, under the circumstances, no evidence could well be offered. The following strange story about the conspiracy that settled Bossi's murder

*Young Italy. By Alexander Balk Cochrane, M.P. Published by John W. Parker.

may be true, kit it looks-- Illte a scene from the Mysteries of lTdolpho, smacking very much of the vulgar conventional ideas of oldi

Italy ; nor s it easy to see how any proof of it could be obtained.

" On the night of the 14th November, in one of the lowest and least fre- quented quarters of Rome, at an hour when the streets were quite deserted, men, evidently bent on some sinister and dangerous design, from the caution with which they walked and the timid glances which they cast around them, were seen to approach the door of one of those half-decayed, black-looking building], which seem the nateral abodes of low reeking vice and foul con- spiracy. Sometimes- these men came alone, at others in groups of two or three ; but all, before they attempted to open the door, gave a significant tap at the shutter ; when a low bell was heard, the latch of the door was re' and the conspirators—for no one can doubt the character and purpose of these men—were shown into a small room, where many -others, all disguised alike, with slouched hate aud large cloaks, were collected. A most myste- rious silence was preserved; but when the number, thirty-six, was com- pleted, the names, written on separate pieces of paper, were thrown into a hat, and drawn out by lot, and each man held his breath while he examined the slip of paper which was to decide his fate and that of the great minister. This fearful lottery ended, one ofthe leadersshowed them into another room ; where, to the ill-suppressed.horror.of the less daring, 'a corpse was lying, with the damps of death still clinging to the brow. One of the heartless assassins, well skilled in surgery, took a knife, and pointed to the precise spot in the neck where a vital blow might be struck with instantaneous ef- &et. The selected murderer, recoiling, not from horror of the crime but from terror at the revolting spectacle of this body, newly dead, exposed to view in the dimness of the night, with the pale light flickering oventhe pale countenance, was dragged to the table ; his finger was guided by the more experienced hand to the vital pert the erra4t gave in which he was to stand in relation to his victim was shown lihn ; those who wme to group them- selves in his more immediate vichliq., Iffiffle-divert his attention, were se- lected. Never was murder- rehearsed for the star with a more perfect com- posure. ' JBut it would have rehearsed more naturally and effectively on the living body. Rossi had to be struck standing." .

The object of Mr. Cochrane's visit to the,Eison.s of Naples was mainly to ascertain the number of politicakprisoners ; which had been reported in England, and among others by Lord Palmerston, at fifteen thousand. Mr. Cochrane's examination outs the army of martyrs down te six lunulred and fourteen. This, hqwover, is mate enough ; and. their confinement is arbitrary in the extreme, always at the pleasure of the mini5ter, often. without the prisoner having any knowledge of the charge against hive. The treatment andp.rison discipline are scandalous : but ,upon thisseore the Neapoli- tans may not be very sensitive; otherwise, we pspeet, Mr. Coch- rane would not so readily have got the order Of At., Fortunates, the

Prime Minister, for his TiSit. .

"The most important prison of all is the Viearia ; so called from having been formerly the residence of the Spanish 'Viceroys. It is situated in the worst part of Naples, near the filthy' debauched ginirtCr'ealled the Porta

Capirana. When we arrived there a sleety rain - and the outside, with its massive,woaartreble -bare; had' dirty aspect, 'Conveyed most -painful sensations of misery and wretchedness. From the upper stories, where the prisoners were confined for minor offences, they were leaning, n Ali distorted features, against the bars, indulging in foul and brutal observations. On entering, we were met by the authorities ; who at once proceeded to open those tiers of dungeons where, -up to this time, no Englishman had ever , penetrated. The large court into which we drove was !surrounded by a por- tico, which must at one time. have been handsome.; but it all seemed to have caught the contagion of vice and infamy : it smelt of crime. The staircase was 'wide, e but reeking with dirt—a fitting approach to the apart- ments we were about, to enter. At the top of the stairs a mob of tattered, decrepit, loathsome figures were collected they were-the relcilielis of some of the prisoners, who were permitted to see them from time -to--time,, and were admitted, one by one, through a small wicket, n-man, sittiag at the desk and calling out their names ; , the man, wicket, desk, and_ all being in momentary danger of being carried away from the struggles of the mob. It was with difficulty that the officers cleared a way for us ; but at last the huge bars were withdrawn and we entered the outer -room, which was se- parated from the long gallery in which the prisoners were confined, by iron gates ; to which they all pressed with eager curiosity, some of them with a vicious expression of countenance which made me rather wish to remain on. the outside of the bars. The officers, by driving the men back, were at last able to Open the gates. We entered, and they Were carefully locked had barred bed us. It was a gallery perhaps same two hundred feet long by twenty wide, withsmall rooms branching off it; and in this gallery from two hundred to three hundred were lodged. It would be difficult to convey an idea of the horrors of the place. A damp, fetid, noxious vapour filled every coil; many of the win' dows by which the light entered had no glass in, and the wet mist penetrated through the close bars. The mass of the prisoners were dressed in the most filthy rags, and their features were fearfully de- graded. But mingling with these were men of far different character and appearance. Hustled by the crowd of vagrants and seoundrels, might be seen men who at one time swayed the destinies of the kingdom and were honoured by the royal confidence. These men withdrew into their rooms, where some ten or twelve slept together ; and there they told me the tales of their misery. Most of them, as at the Santa Maria, had been eight' months in prison, without the least appearance of trial; and some did not know of what they were accused. It was distressing beyond expression to see gen- tlemen of education compelled to mix with the refuse, the foul refuse of the galleys. As we moved from cell to Cell, the crowd moved on, and pressed around us. They could not at all comprehend the cause of this sudden and unexpected visit. After we had walked down the whole length of the gal- lery, the officers inquired whether we wished to see' the lower part of the prisons, in which the worst description of offenders were confined. I thought it was almost impossible that anything could well be worse than what I had seen; but, anxious to have a clear knowledge of the actual state of the pri- sons, I assented. When we approached the gates, the people pressed on so roughly that it was with great difficulty the officers could compel them to retire ; and when they saw that they were going without giving them any hope that their condition would he ameliorated, their looks of re- gret and disappointment would have touched any heart. We passed again through the crowd waiting outside, and then -went down a steep fhght of filthy steps, till we came to the lower range of the building, -which was below the level' of the ground, where we had to pass through two or three gates before we entered the place where some four -to five hundred were confined. A much greater number of officers wore here in attendance, as some of the prisoners were ver-jr dangerous. The moment the last gate was unbarred, we found ourselves in a place which it would require the ima- gination of a Dante to paint. I could understand, that if this had been visited first I should have considered • the upper floor a comfortable residence. Some were lying on the floor ; others crowded together on the miserable

truckle-beds, howling and blaspheming, and evidently always addressed and treated as brutes. Some had climbed up to the open bars, and were jeering at the people in the street. It was vice in all its degradation and horror ; human life in a living tomb, assisting at the spectacle of its own decay, its own rottenness. The atmosphere was thick as a London fog, from the horrible exhalations. The men here were wild to tell me their stories; some caught hold of my clothes, others scribbled their names on pieces of paper, and thrust them into my hand, which they seized and covered with their pestilential kisses. I spoke to one old man, who had been confined there twenty-five years—twenty-five years in such alpine !—and he pretended, I know not with what truth, that to that day he had never been tried. I asked the officers if this was the case ; but it was so long since his arrival that they could not give me any definite information. When the wretched beings were told that I could do nothing for them, their expressions of sor- row were loud and bitten I -was not sorry when after quite forcing a way through the crowd, we reached the gates, and I heard the last bar drawn, which shut the poor oreattues out from all hope."

Observations on Austrian rule and Italian politics are found in the volume;, the former lauded, and a sort of prediction hazarded that the Austrian power will gradually spread. over Italy. This is a pure bit of Toryism, whiehean never see further than its nose, and always imagines the temporary reaction of lassitude and dis- appointment, that follows violence or revolution, to be a perma- nent effect. In this world there is no retrogression; and even if that law of nature allowed the absorption of Italy by Austria, France would not. It was indeed this restless jealousy of Austrian influence which induced the French intervention .at Rome, over- threw the Republic, and restored the rope.