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THREE MONTHS WITH ITALIAN BRIGANDS.* R. MOENS is an Englishman of fortune, of the people by whom the stupendous edifices
and, as it appears, an amateur photo- were reared. The party consisted of Mr. grapher. Early in 1865 he set out, accom- Moens, Mr. Aynsley, an English clergyman, panied by his wife, upon an Italian tour, going and their wives. From Naples a railway runs, first to Sicily, and making the gira or “round” past the considerable town of Salerno, someof that island, which was a few years ago so what more than twenty miles from Pæstum. pleasantly described by Ross Brownc in his fa- It was indeed a little suspicious that the landmous “Yusef.” Mr. Moens had moreover the lord of the “Hotel Vittoria" at Salerno thought special design to photograph the eruption of it necessary to post up in various languages a Etna, which was then going on. His descrip- notice to “travelers desirous of visiting the tion of this is very interesting; but we must temples of Pæstum that the road is now perpass it over in order to give, as far as we may, fectly safe between Salerno and Pæstum, owing some account of his subsequent experiences to the vigilance of General Avenati, the Miliwhen a captive among the brigands on the tary Commander of the district, who has stamainland.
tioned patrols along the road at Battipaglia, Crossing over to Naples early in May he set Barizzo, and Pæstum.” After a three hours' out for a trip to the ruins of the famous tem- drive they reached the temples a little before ples of Pæstum, which stand in solitary grand- noon, a squad of soldiers accompanying them. eur, in a mountain wilderness, with no traces Mr. Moens set his camera in order and phoEnglish Travelers and Italian Brigands: A Narra
Toward evening they
tographed the ruins. tive of Capture and Captivity. By W. J. C. MOENS. Har- set out on their return; not a little surprised per and Brothers.
that their military protectors were nowhere
the road. They started up from all sorts of hiding-places, and in a few minutes thirty or more were gathered around the carriage. The travelers were politely desired to “descend." “Don't be afraid, Madame, don't be afraid," they said to Mrs. Moens. The coachman was ordered to stay where he was for a quarter of an hour, and then to drive off with the ladies, the two gentlemen being hurried off over fields and through thickets.
The bandits were wonderfully polite—the leader, whom Mr. Moens came to know quite well as Captain Manzo, always addressing them as Signore "Gentlemen," with a strong accent on the last syllable. “What do you want with us?" inquired the captives. Denaronon temete (“The Shiners -don't be scared") was the reply. “How far are we to walk ?" "A good way, a good way enough." When they came to a stream the brigands carried their captives across on their shoulders. On they went through swamps, over ditches, and
cultivated fields, marching in Indian file, until midnight. By the way they stopped at a house and bought a little bread, and a while after came upon a patch of cabbage and onions, of which they made short work, pocketing what
they could not eat: wisevisible. The truth was, as they afterward | ly, as Mr. Moens found out before long. learned, the soldiers had been withdrawn so Toward daybreak they halted on the banks that negotiations could be carried on with a of a stream and hid among the osiers. The gang of bandits for the release of a couple of brigands now began to inquire into the value Italian gentlemen whom they had gobbled up of their prize. It was quite impossible to cononly a few days before on this very safe road. vince them that the Englishmen were not great For these the brigands demanded å ransom of lords, notwithstanding the hands of Mr. Moens 171,000 francs; but finally compromised for were stained by his photographic chemicals. 51,000.
“His hands are black," said one, “and his They had almost reached Battipaglia, and trowsers are like what prisoners wear, and are supposed that they had passed the dangerous all worn out, poor fellow!" "Wait, we'll see," places, when a little before dusk they perceived replied the Captain. At length a bit of the a number of fellows creeping out of the corn- hard sausage, called supersato, was offered to fields. Some of the brigands aimed their the prisoners, who declared that “it would not guns, others turned the horses' heads across I agree with their stomachs." It seemed to
looking like mites in the distance. At first he meditated trying to escape, but quickly discovered that the attempt would be madness.
“The brigands,” he says, "ran down the mountain like goats, while I had to be careful to pick my way at every step. Accus tomed to the mountains from their earliest youth, they were as sure-footed as the goats, and had eyes like cats; darkness and light, daytime or night, made not the slightest difference to them. Their hearing, too, was most acute. This sense they had cultivated to such a pitch that, like the red Indians, the slightest rustle of the leaves, the faintest sound, never escaped their notice. Men miles distant working in the fields, or mowing the grass, they could distinguish with the greatest ease. They knew generally who they were, young and old, and to what village they belonged. When I, perhaps, could barely distinguish living beings,
they could describe all their motions." strike the captors as a good joke that any man 1 From Mr. Moens's Diary (written, we infer, should object to supersato. “They'll like it mainly from memory, aided by brief jottings better by-and-by," said he, which proved true in a little memorandum-book, which he manenough; for Mr. Moens found before long that aged to conceal) we excerpt some passages poor food and little of it was the normal condi- which portray the aspects of life among the tion of brigands and their prisoners.
brigands : Besides the Englishmen the brigands had picked up a couple of Italian gentlemen ; and
“ May 18.-I slept till eight or nine o'clock, and as soon as they got to a tolerably safe spot the just above the dry bed of a stream that in winter
on awaking and looking round, I found we were Captain began “business"—that is, fixing the ran down the mountain-side. We were facing the
That of one Italian was put down at west, and at about half a mile off ran a stream like 12,000 ducats, the others at 8000 (a ducat is a delicate little silver serpent, twisting in and out about 85 cents). The two Englishmen were of the bushes and green banks; on the other side lumped together at 100,000 ducats. They de- of it was a bridle path. We saw several bodies clared that such a sum was out of the ques- of troops pass during the day, who were always tion; the brigands insisted that it was quite watched with the greatest interest; and the merits moderate for two such great lords, who were
of the different sorts of soldiers were freely disworth at least two millions apiece. Finally,
cussed. I tried to get as far away from my guardthey came down to 50,000, and no abatement! ians as I could, and then began to think of some plan How to get at the cash was now the problem.
of escaping. I propped up my straw-hat on a peg, The Englishmen declared that their wives had think I was sleeping; and then tried to edge off,
so that the men, who were all below me, might not the money, and, being strangers and ig- and to be ready for a run when more soldiers came; norant of the language, could not get it in Na- but one who was very wary, and who turned out to ples. It was finally arranged that one of them be one of the four brigandesses, changed her position —to be decided by lot-should go and the other so as to see the place where I was. should stay. Mr. Moens drew the short stick “I was dreadfully hungry, and found in my and had to remain, while Mr. Aynsley was hur- pocket a piece of the Indian corn-bread as large as ried off by two men, who also bore letters from a walnut ; this soon went, and I turned out all my the Italian prisoners to their friends, asking for pockets, and discovered to my joy the little cabthe money for their ransom.
bage I had put away on the 15th. I ate that raw, Hardly were they away when the brigands found two roots of garlic: one satisfied me, the flavor
and thought it any thing but disgusting. I now saw a company of 100 soldiers marching along being rather strong (how soon I was cured of all the road below-a sharp skirmish took place; dantiness! Before I was with the brigands the smell but the gang, all save two, managed to get off of garlic alone was nauseous, let alone the taste); with their captives. During the night the the other I put into my pocket. We had some waband was again surprised by the soldiers, and ter to drink during the night, and with that I was there was more firing. In the excitement the obliged to be satisfied till the evening. A village Italian prisoners managed to escape. The bri- was near, for we heard the bells of the church chimgands did not look out very sharply for these ing the hours. I fancied we were near Castellasmall Italian fry; but they took good care of
mara; but on asking one of the brigands if it were their big fish, the great “ English Lord.” They could not be ; for it is always the brigands' prin
80, he replied 'Yes;' and I knew at once that it were now far up the mountain side, and all ciple to deceive their captives as to where they are. next day Mr. Moens could see the soldiers " At dusk we started again ; and, as yesterday, passing and repassing in the valley below, diverged over mountains and through woods for four
on I kept eating it. The brigands lay down on the ground, and lapped up the water that had thawed and was running among the decayed leaves. I thought of fever, and preferred the snow."
THE FIGHT BETWEEN THE BRIGANDS AND SOLDIERS.
They soon came upon the main body of the band, from whom they had been separated for a few days. They were in a lovely glade, surrounded by large beeches, with goats and sheep tethered near; the brigands, lying around clad in their picturesque costumes, making a picture worthy of Salvator Rosa. “But," comments Mr. Moens, “I do not believe that Salvator Rosa, or any other man, ever voluntarily paid a second visit to the brigands, however great his love of the picturesque might be; for no one would willingly endure brigand life after one experience of it.” Here is a picture of brigands in gala attire:
“The smaller band had four women with them, attired like the men, with their hair cut short; at first I took them for boys; and all these displayed a greater love for jewelry than the members of Manzo's band. They were decked out to do me honor, and one of them wore no less than twentyfour gold rings, of various sizes and stones, on her hands, at the same moment; others twenty, sixteen, ten, according to their wealth. To have but one gold chain
attached to a watch was conor five hours, till having reached an open part at the sidered paltry and mean. Cerino and Manzo had summit of a mountain covered with grass, there was bunches as thick as an arm suspended across the a halt, and we lay down to sleep. The night was breasts of their waistcoats, with gorgeous brooches very cold, wet, and foggy; in fact, we were actual- at each fastening; little bunches of charms' were ly in the clouds."
also attached in conspicuous positions. “May 19.—We woke up an hour before daybreak, • Manzo's band had long jackets of stout brown stiff from cold. I could not move till I had rubbed cloth, the color of withered leaves, with large pockmy knees for ten minutes. We started down hill, ets of a circular shape on the two sides, and others and then along a path up another mountain. As on the breasts outside, and a slit on each side gave the sun got up we grew very thirsty, for we had entrance to a large pocket that could hold any thing dared to stop only half a minute for a drink the in the back of the garment. I have seen a pair of evening before, on account of the roads being dan- trowsers, two shirts, three or four pounds of bread, gerous; and we had passed no streams during the a bit of dirty bacon, cheese, etc., pulled out one aftnight. After some time a search was made for er another when searching for some article that was snow, and at last, in a most unlikely place, some missing. The waistcoats buttoned at the side, but was found. It was most delicious, and as we walked had gilt buttons down the centre, for show or or
VOL. XXXIII.-No. 195.-U
RUINS OF PÆSTUM.
nament; the larger ones were stamped with dogs' heads, birds, etc. There were two large circular pockets at the lower part of the waistcoats, in which were kept spare cartridges, balls, gunpowder, knives, etc. ; and in the two smaller ones, higher up, the watch on the one side and percussion - caps in the other. This garment was of dark blue cloth, like the trowsers, which were cut in the ordinary way.
“ When the jackets were new they had all attached to the collars, by buttons, capuces, or hoods, which are drawn over the head at night, or when the weather is very cold, but most of them had been lost in the woods. A belt about three inches deep, divided by two partitions, to hold about fifty cartridges, completed the dress, which when new was very neat-looking and serviceable. Some of the cartridges were murderous missiles.
Tin was soldered around the ball so as to hold the powder, which was kept in place by a plug of tow. When used the tow was taken out, and after the powder was poured down the barrel the case was reversed, and a lot of slugs being added, was rammed down, with the tow on top. These must be very destructive at close quarters; but they generally blaze at the soldiers, and vice verså, at such a distance that little harm is done, from the uncertain aim taken. Most of them had revolvers, kept either in belts or the left-hand pocket of their jackets. They were secured by a silk cord around their necks, and fast- ransom of 170,000 francs was fixed, and 109,250 ened to a ring in the butt of the pistol. Some few actually paid by their friends soon after. So had stilettoes, only used for human victims. Many business was prospering; and moreover on this had ostrich-feathers, with turned up wide-awakes, occasion they had enough to eat, for the about which gave their wearers a theatrical and absurd appearance. Gay silk handkerchiefs round their
only time during the months in which Mr. necks and collars on their cotton shirts made them
Moens was with them. For in spite of an look quite dandies when these were clean, which occasional rich prize the life of the bandits is was but seldom."
one of constant privation, exposure, and ter
Mrs. Moens had an interview with TalaThe band were in unusual spirits, for besides rico, an ex-bandit chief who had left off busiMr. Moens they had just captured Signor Fran- ness by arrangement with the Government, recesco Visconti, son of a landed proprietor of ceiving pardon and a pension. “He was an Giffoni, a small village near by, and his cous- extremely handsome man, with the smallest in Tomasini, a lad of twelve, who turned out and most delicate hands," says Mrs. Moens. to be a regular imp of mischief. For these a He interested himself considerably in endeav