Old Calabria By Norman Douglas

 -  The situation called for a
genial and ruthless annihilator, a man like Sixtus V, who asked for
brigands' heads and - Page 320
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The Situation Called For A Genial And Ruthless Annihilator, A Man Like Sixtus V, Who Asked For Brigands' Heads And

Got them so plentifully that they lay "thick as melons in the market" under the walls of Rome, while the

Castel Sant' Angelo was tricked out like a Christmas tree with quartered corpses - a man who told the authorities, when they complained of the insufferable stench of the dead, that the smell of living iniquity was far worse. Such a man was wanted. Therefore, in 1810, Murat gave carte blanche to General Manhes, the greatest brigand-catcher of modern times, to extirpate the ruffians, root and branch. He had just distinguished himself during a similar errand in the Abruzzi and, on arriving in Calabria, issued proclamations of such inhuman severity that the inhabitants looked upon them as a joke. They were quickly undeceived. The general seems to have considered that the end justified the means, and that the peace and happiness of a province was not to be disturbed year after year by the malignity of a few thousand rascals; his threats were carried out to the letter, and, whatever may be said against his methods, he certainly succeeded. At the end of a few months' campaign, every single brigand, and all their friends and relations, were wiped off the face of the earth - together with a very considerable number of innocent persons. The high roads were lined with decapitated bandits, the town walls decked with their heads; some villages had to be abandoned, on account of the stench; the Crati river was swollen with corpses, and its banks whitened with bones.

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