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“ This man was called, from his wily but inexorable temper, Il Bizarro. He was captain of a gang of banditti, whom he governed by his own authority, till he increased them to 1000 men, both on foot and horseback, whom he maintained in the mountains of Calabria, between the French and Neapolitans, both of which he defied, and pillaged the country. High rewards were set upon his head, to very little
purpose, as he took care to guard himself against being betrayed by his own gang, the common fate of those banditti who become great in their vocation. At length a French colonel, whose name I have forgot, occupied the country of Bizarro, with such success, that he formed a cordon around him and his party, and included him between the folds of a military column. Well-nigh driven to submit himself, the robber with his wife, a very handsome woman, and a child of a few months old, took post one day beneath an old bridge, and by an escape almost miraculous, were not perceived by a strong party whom the French maintained on the top of the arch. Night at length came without a discovery, which every moment might have made. When it became quite dark, the brigand, enjoining the strictest silence on the female and child, resolved to start
from his place of shelter, and as he issued forth, kept his hand on the child's throat. But as, when they began to move, the child naturally cried, its father in a rage tightened his gripe so relentlessly, that the poor infant never offended more in the same
“ His wife had never been very fond of him, though he trusted her more than any who approached him. She had been originally the wife of another man, murdered by her second husband, which second marriage she was compelled to undergo, and to affect at least the conduct of an affectionate wife. In their wanderings she alone knew where he slept. He left his men in a body upon the top of an hill, round which they set watches. He then went apart into the woods with his wife, and having chosen a lair in an obscure and deep thicket, there took up his residence for the night. A large Calabrian dog, his constant attendant, was then tied to a tree at some distance to secure his slumbers, and having placed his carabine within reach of his arm, he consigned himself to such sleep as belongs to his calling. By such precautions he had secured his rest for many years.
“ But after the death of the child, the measure of his offence towards the unhappy mother was full to the brim, and her thoughts became determined on revenge. One evening he took up his quarters with
the usual precautions, but without the usual success. He had laid his carabine near him, and betaken himself to rest, when his partner arose from his side, and ere he became sensible that she had done so, she seized his carabine, and discharging it in his bosom, ended at once his life and his crimes. She finished her work by cutting off the brigand's head, and carrying it to the principal town of the province, where she delivered it to the police, and claimed the reward attached to his head, which was paid accordingly. This female still lives, a stately, dangerous looking woman, yet scarce ill thought of, considering the provocation.
“ The dog struggled extremely to get loose on hearing the shot. Some say the female shot it; others that, in its rage, it very nearly gnawed through the stout young tree to which it was tied. He was worthy of a better master.
“ The distant encampment of the band was disturbed by the firing of the Bizarro's carabine at midnight. They ran through the woods to seek the captain, but finding bim lifeless and headless, they became so much surprised, that many of them surrendered to the government, and relinquished their trade. Thus the band of the Bizarro, as it lived by his spirit, was broken up by his death.
“ Among other stories respecting the cruelty of this bandit, I heard this. A French officer, who had been active in the pursuit of him, fell into his hands, and was made to die the death of Saint Polycarp — that is, the period being the middle of summer, he was flayed alive, and, being smeared with honey, was exposed to all the intolerable insects of a southern sky. The corps were also informed where they might find their officer if they thought proper to send for him. As more than two days elapsed before the wretched man was found, nothing save miserable relics were discovered. I do not warrant these stories, but such are told currently.”
Here is another taken, I believe, from one of the rude pamphlets in his collection :
“ There was a farmer of an easy fortune, and who might be supposed to leave to his daughter, a very pretty girl, and an only child, a fortune thought in the village to be very considerable. She was, under the hope of sharing such a prize, made up to by a young man in the neighbourhood, handsome, active, and of good character. He was of that sort of persons who are generally successful among women, and this girl was supposed to have encouraged his addresses; but her father, on being applied to, gave him a direct and positive refusal. The gallant resolved to continue his addresses in hopes of overcoming the obstacle by his perseverance, but the father's opposition seemed only to increase by the lover's pertinacity. At length, as the farmer walked one evening, smoking his pipe, upon the terrace before his door, the lover unhappily passed by, and, struck with the instant thought that the obstacle to the happiness of his life was now entirely in his own power, he rushed upon the father, pierced him with three mortal stabs of his knife, and made his escape to the mountains.
“ What was most remarkable was, that he was protected against the police, who went, as was their duty, in quest of him, by the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, who afforded him both shelter and such food as be required, looking on him less as a wilful criminal than an unfortunate man, who had been surprised by a strong and almost irresistible temptation ; so congenial at this moment is the love of
vengeance to an Italian bosom — and, though chastised in general by severe punishment, so much are criminals sympathized with by the community.”
I now insert the Neapolitan part of Sir William Gell's Memoranda.
Every record of the latter days of those who, by their actions or their talents, have excited the