Article on Abandonned Mutilated Italian

We have never learned whether the Government of the Province have taken any steps to bring to justice the parties guilty of having exposed, somewhere on the coast, the poor mutilated Italian sent from Chipman, Q. C. It may be that the punishment of those who participated in such an outrage on humanity is not deemed to be the duty of the Government. Our law, or rather our mode of administering the law, too often renders the prosecution of those guilty of crime merely the means of gratifying private revenge, the law being quite powerless, until some private individual sets its machinery in motion. In such a case as this, however, when the crime is of such a character that it must be a deep disgrace to the Province to let it pass unpunished, the “law officers of the Crown” should not wait to take cognisance of it. The Halifax Express called this “a case of barbarity which must stamp the Province with base odium unless immediate efforts be made to have the base wretches who are implicated in it brought to condign punishment,” and added –

Such an act of barbarity it is seldom our duty to record, and we hope that no stone will be left unturned to bring all parties implicated to speedy and retributive justice. The case demands immediate action of the government, in order that the Province may be fully exonerated from the stigma which must rest upon it by acts of a few in its midst.

The Christian Messenger, a Baptist religious paper published in Halifax, has an account of the exposure, on the coast of Nova Scotia, of a man who, from the description, we are satisfied, must be the poor Italian. The account we at first received was that he was landed somewhere near Little River in the State of Maine. Perhaps the Parish authorities of that district imitated the atrocious example set them by the people of Chipman, and without caring to distinguish between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, sent the poor wretch back to the Blue Noses who threw him on the shore. The fate of the poor Italian, who is thus made alternatively the victim of Blue Nose and Yankee barbarity, is most pitiable. The following is the letter in the Messenger.

DEAR SIR, — During a visit to Sandy Cove, I heard that a man who had lost both his legs a little below the knee, had been found not far off, on the shore of the Bay of Fundy, where he had been left by some part or parties unknown, with only a few morsels of bread and small bundle of clothes. It was also stated that he could not speak English and could give no account of himself. Being anxious to see him, and if possible learn something of so strange a proceeding, Rev. J.C. Morse and myself set out in search of him. After a short walk, we reached the house where he is taken care of, and found Matteo (Matthew-for such I think he wished us to understand is his name) sitting in the door way, with what remained of his lower extremities naked and exposed. They were perfectly healed. The willingness to support the poor cripple, he was thrust out from more peaceful and favoured scenes, we know not; but the writer suspects the latter to be the case. The man does not look warlike, -nothing about him indicates war experience, except the loss of his legs. The poor fellow, when found seemed stupefied, either from drugs, terror, or cold (for he had been exposed to the rain which had been falling, and so continued for some days. When we saw him he seemed—Mr. Albright told us—better, and more disposed to observe and communicate or try, then he had been since found. In his weak state, it is no wonder if fear and exposure should produce a stupor. The poor man had had a very bad cough; but it was becoming easier when we saw him. It should think he was somewhat under 30 years of age. Mr. Albright’s children first discovered him lying on the shore, --they told their father; but he thinking it incredible paid no attention to what they said, --till his aged mother went down and ascertained the fact and informed her son. A few hours more of exposure might have proved fatal to him. What barbarity, inhumanity, cruelty and injustice does this act show in the perpetrators! Had the fear of God left their souls? Or love to man been expelled from their hearts? We hope the parties guilty of so mean and cowardly, so vile and wicked an act may be discovered, and made to feel the wrong they have done to this man, to Nova Scotia, to humanity and to Christ; -- repent and learn henceforth to discharge to their fellow creatures in need the ever-binding and pleasant duties of Christian benevolence.

Very Respectfully,

George Armstrong

Bridgetown, Sept 28th, 1863.

Strangely enough, after the Messenger was handed to us by a gentleman in the city, we received the following letter from Chipman, Q.C.: --

SIR: Could you inform a subscriber whether any action has been taken in the matter of his poor Italian. Has the Government exonerated the Province from the stigma which must rest upon it by the sets of a few in its midst? Has an investigation been made so as to bring the guilty parties to justice? It is rumoured here that the tax gatherer of the Parish has absconded, but he only carried out the instructions of the Commissioners of the Poor of the Parish, and although guilty, no doubt, of a foul crime, yet those who engaged his services are amenable to the law. As an illustration of the manner in which the laws of the land are observed in this quarter, I have heard that the said tax-gatherer was not sworn in, and that he collected 25 cents poll-tax, instead of 15, the amount assessed. Perhaps it matters little that in such trifles the law should be set at defence, but when the life of a fellow man, an unfortunate cripple, deprived of both legs, and unable to give expression to his wants in the English language, is to be placed in jeopardy by the law-abiding friends of the Government, it is time that some notices should be taken of their conduct.

Yours, &c.,


Source: Editor of Morning Freeman, "Article on Abandonned Mutilated Italian," Morning Freeman (St. John, NB), October 17, 1863.

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