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God protect all the followers of Mahomet, and deliver them from these temptations by his power and grace.' The custom-house officer who received the pilgrims at Palermo muttered the Mahometan salutation between his teeth, at which we marvelled greatly.' Amongst the Musulmans at Palermo,' he proceeds, there are still left traces of the true faith. They maintain the greater part of their mosques in good repair; they are summoned to prayer by the voice of the "muezzin ;" they have suburbs of their own in which they live unmingled with the Christians, and markets in which they alone have shops. They have a Cadi of their own, who administers justice to them.' 'The King of Sicily himself is singular for his good disposition and his frequent employment of Musulmans. Eunuchs are about his person, all of whom, or the greater part, are firmly attached, though secretly, to the religion of Islam. The King has great confidence in the Musulmans, and entrusts to them the most important and delicate business. The superintendent of his kitchen is a Musulman, and the King has a body-guard of negro Musulman slaves, commanded by one of themselves. His vizier and his chamberlain are always chosen from amongst the above-mentioned eunuchs. . . In truth no Christian prince reigns more mildly, enjoys more wealth, and lives more delicately than he. He resembles the Musulman kings in his pleasures no less than in the order of his laws, the manner of government, the distinction of classes of his subjects, and the pageantry and luxury of his court. . . . He is thirty years of age: may God prolong his life in good health for the benefit of the Musulmans. Another remarkable thing about him is that he reads and writes Arabic. One of his chief eunuchs told us this, and that he has taken as his "alamah,” or sacred motto, "Praise be to God, praise is due to him." His father's "alamah" was, "Praise be to God in recognition of his benefits." The female slaves and concubines that he keeps in the palace are all of the Musulman faith. Furthermore, the above-mentioned servant John, one of the pages in the "tiraz" (the silk manufactory, the harem), where the garments of the king are embroidered in gold, revealed to us a no less marvellous fact, namely, that the Frank Christian ladies staying in the palace become Mussulman, being converted by the female slaves that we have mentioned. The King knows nothing of the fact, yet these ladies were very zealous in good works. The same John told us that once during an earthquake, the King, whilst in his palace, heard on all sides his women and eunuchs uttering prayers to God and the prophet. When they caught sight of the King they were alarmed; but he reassured them, saying, "Let every one pray to the God whom he adores, he who has faith in his God will obtain peace."
The sovereign who uttered these words based his toleration on the widest grounds. Unfortunately, before the end of his reign, by his too close connection with the Roman Church, he was induced to extend ecclesiastical jurisdiction so that the bishops took cognizance of certain cases between Musulman
and Christian (Lalumia, p. 187). Thereby he opened the door to persecution, and he broke through the original principle of the constitution by which Musulmans were only to be tried by Musulman judges, according to their own law of the Koran. Looking backward and forward from the reign of William, we can better understand the character of the courts of Roger and Frederic. The abuse heaped on Frederic by his ecclesiastical foes, their accusations of heresy and apostasy, are well known. The Palermitan court of Frederic, however, was but an inheritance from the 'good' King William. The rapprochement between East and West, between Latin Greek and Arabic culture, in which and in the consequences resulting therefrom was supposed to lie the great value to Europe of the Crusades, had been made already in Sicily. The principles of toleration embodied by Frederic in the treaty of Jerusalem were exactly those previously applied by his Norman ancestors in Sicily. And there, instead of fitfully for a few months or years at a time, this rapprochement lasted continuously for two centuries. There the peoples came really to know one another, and to react upon one another. It was the stronger elements in each of these various civilisations that survived. In art, science, and manufacture, in culture and philosophy, Orientalism, Greek and Arabic, prevailed. In war and politics Latinism was victorious. It was the high privilege of the Normans to preside over this fusion of the streams of mind, and right worthy directors of the movement they proved themselves to be. The Nemesis of history seems, however, to have grudged Sicily her good fortune. For the last time East and West, North and South, had met in arms upon the Trinacrian soil. Victory had remained with the West, and the allegiance to Constantinople, to Bagdad, to Cordova, and to Kairoan was for ever broken. Nevertheless, the glorious independence of Sicily was but short-lived, and since she has ceased to be the battle-ground of rival civilisations she has remained outside the main stream of history.
We cannot resist noticing in a sentence or two how the three elements of which civilisation in the Norman kingdom consisted have impressed themselves on the architecture of the country. Though the fusion itself is concealed by the mists of a distant past, at Palermo, Monreale, and Cefalù we have abiding memorials of the fact. The interest of the subject has brought most competent observers into the field, and in the works of Hittorf and Zanth, of Gally Knight, and above all of Serra di Falco and Gravina, the principal buildings are laid before us in all their detail. With a few trifling exceptions, of which the most important is the Baths at Cefalù, we have the high authority of
Signor Amari for stating that no building of importance at present survives in Sicily which can be with certainty attributed to the period of Musulman rule. The claims of the Cuba and the Zisa at Palermo have been conclusively disposed of. Nevertheless the great buildings of the period are in their essence, that is to say in the principle of construction, which is almost invariably that of the pointed arch, Saracenic. A typical example is to be found in the well-known Ponte d' Ammiraglio near Palermo. The Normans ordered the buildings, but it was
the Saracens who were the actual builders. On the other hand Greek influence shows itself in the mosaic ornamentation, Latin in the form the basilican-given to the ecclesiastical edifices. The wooden roofs at Cefalù and Monreale as contrasted with the Saracenic ceiling of the Capella Regia and the gradual but very slight admixture of figure sculpture in the west door of Monreale show that in some departments there was a struggle in progress. Into such details, and into the interesting subject of the South-Italian architecture of the period, illustrated by the magnificent work of Schulz, it is impossible to enter.
We have endeavoured to call attention to that part of the subject which is of most interest to the general reader-the condition of the subject nationalities. But there are many other respects in which the Norman kingdom in Sicily is well worthy of study. The jurist and political philosopher will find a mine of study in the constitutions of Roger, William and Frederic, whilst the practical reformer may derive some useful hints therefrom on such subjects as medical education and sanitary regulation. The high-sounding title claimed by Roger of King of Sicily, Italy and Africa,' suggests the manifold foreign relations in which a central Mediterranean state would be involved, a state holding in its dominion both shores of the inland sea. Many of the enigmas of the life and reign of Frederic II. can only be solved by a knowledge of the history of what was his true fatherland. It was the union of the crowns of the empire and 'the kingdom' upon a single head that brought the struggle of the Empire and the Papacy to a crisis. The possession of the kingdom was worth the struggle; the loss of it was the loss of Italy. To the history of municipal institutions, to the history of commerce and of social life in Italy, the annals of the Norman kingdom make considerable contributions. And it was in Norman Sicily that the first words of Italian poetry were uttered, that Italian literature began. These subjects and others are all touched upon more or less by Signor Amari, whose work we cannot, in conclusion, on account of both its historical and literary value, too strongly recommend to our readers.
ART. VIII.-1. Reports from the Committee of Public Accounts, 1861-1875. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed. 2. Parliamentary Government in England, its Origin, Development and Practical Operation. By Alpheus Todd, Librarian of the Legislative Assembly of Canada. In 2 vols. 1867.
HEN a duty is effectually performed, and yet causes to those who discharge that duty, not satisfaction but dissatisfaction, some misunderstanding must exist respecting its scope and object. This collision between fact and feeling attends, in some measure, that central feature of our polity, the control exerted by the House of Commons over the public purse. Never in the history of Parliament was that control more stringent, than it is at present; and yet of late years it has been spoken of by Members as if it were a failure; even the House itself, when engaged upon its financial duties, seems to betray, at times, a tinge of discouragement.
By way of example, it may be mentioned, that some thirty or forty years ago, the nights devoted to the discussion of the estimates were among the chief fighting occasions of the Session; hours were spent in contesting the amounts demanded by the Government. These contests certainly do not now occur. Again, contrasting the Parliament of his youth with the Parliament of to-day, a veteran and sagacious Member expressed to us his surprise that the observation, 'Oh, the business of the evening, is only the Committee of Supply,' could be possible, even habitual to his associates. This casual remark was, however, carried much farther by a younger and more ardent Member of the House, who avowed, in the course of a debate, that he looked with despair and hopelessness at the process by which our estimates are said to be discussed in Committee. Night after night the House is supposed to apply itself seriously to a consideration and revision of those estimates; yet he knew of no case in which, by this process, the estimates had been seriously reduced or modified.'* More recently one, whose voice commands just respect, charged his hearers with flinching from the subject of retrenchment. The same cast of thought, also, found vent in a humorous complaint, that their pursuit after economy 'was like rat-hunting, as soon as one hole was covered over, the rats made their way through another.'
*Mr. Stansfeld, 3rd June, 1862.
Hans. Deb.,' 3rd series, 167, 307.
Although we do not admit the absolute applicability of these censures, still they were not met by any decided contradiction from the House, the rat-hunting simile was certainly received with marked appreciation. Nor can it be affirmed that our legislators invariably do themselves full justice when occupied in the grant of public money. Towards the close of a long debate, weariness rising in the ascendant, votes involving large liability, too often, are swiftly, if not hastily, despatched, and the procedure of the Committee of Supply assumes, it may be feared, rather an air of unreality. Nor can much more be said for the style in which the House confirms and ratifies the transactions of the Committee. As briefly as decorum permits, the supply votes are read aloud at the Table, the Speaker responds with the formula which stamps validity upon each resolution, and so be it,' is expressed by silence around the Chair.
If this, indeed, were all which the Commons effect as custodians of the public moneys, discretion should warn us to 'stand upon our manners,' and to say no more about the subject. Our constitutional polity, however, does not need such negative respect; it may, on the contrary, claim from us a confident reiteration of the assertion, that Parliament discharges its financial duties most efficiently, and that this efficiency has been greater, during the last fourteen years, than ever achieved since England's representatives quitted the Abbey Chapter House for St. Stephen's Chapel.
So direct a contradiction to an opinion, which we have shown to be prevalent among Members of Parliament, may seem strange. Still more will it be felt that our assertion 'suffers under probation,' when coupled with an avowal that their expressions of disappointment were founded upon fact. Popular fancy, also, points in the same direction, and still endows the Commons not only with the will, but with the power of making ample excision from the estimates. There it is,' according to a clown upon the comic stage, 'that they cuts people down,' in his contrast between the Houses of Parliament and the Hospital across the Thames, the place 'where they cuts people up.' But the clown was in error. Amputation even of a single limb from the gross body of the estimates, is a most rare operation in the House of Commons. Mr. Stansfeld had the advantage of the jester; in all probability, since he took his seta there, not a single important reduction from a vote of supply has been carried against the Government. The experience of the last ten years amply confirms his statement. In 1869, to commence with the first example that period affords, 527. a-year was withheld from a gate-keeper
Vol. 141.-No. 281.