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Title: Imported Americans - The Story of the Experiences of a Disguised American and His Wife Studying the Immigration Question
Author: Brandenburg, Broughton
Language: English
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IMPORTED AMERICANS


[Illustration: The Real Problem]


[Illustration]


IMPORTED AMERICANS

The story of the experiences of a disguised American and his wife
studying the immigration question ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧

by

BROUGHTON BRANDENBURG

With sixty-six illustrations from photographs
by the author


[Illustration]



New York · Frederick A. Stokes Company · Publishers

Copyright, 1903, 1904,
By Frank Leslie Publishing House

Copyright, 1904,
By Frederick A. Stokes Company

This edition published in August, 1904



  _This volume is dedicated to my brave little wife,
  who endured with heroism conditions that, while not
  unbearable for me, were superlative hardships for a
  woman of delicacy and refinement._

                                                 _B. B._

  _Clay Place, Mamaroneck,
        June 23, 1904._

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                CONTENTS


 CHAP.                                                              PAGE

     I THE IMPETUS AND THE METHOD                                      1

    II LIFE IN A NEW YORK TENEMENT                                     7

   III TO NAPLES IN THE STEERAGE OF THE _LAHN_                        25

    IV CONDITIONS IN THE NEAPOLITAN ZONE                              47

     V IN THE ROMAN ZONE                                              61

    VI IN THE HEEL AND TOE OF THE BOOT                                71

   VII GUALTIERI-SICAMINO AND THE SQUADRITO FAMILY                    83

  VIII THE SICILIAN COUNTRYSIDE                                      104

    IX THE DEPARTURE                                                 118

     X FROM SICILY TO NAPLES                                         130

    XI THROUGH THE CITY OF THIEVES                                   138

   XII ROGUERY AND ILLITERACY                                        151

  XIII THE EMBARKATION PROCESS                                       159

   XIV THE VOYAGE                                                    171

    XV THE VOYAGE (_Continued_)                                      184

   XVI NEARING THE GATE                                              198

  XVII WITHIN THE PORTALS OF THE NEW WORLD                           205

 XVIII THROUGH ELLIS ISLAND                                          215

   XIX THE DISPERSION                                                228

    XX THE STRUGGLES OF THE GUALTIERI BOYS IN NEW YORK               238

   XXI LEGISLATION AND EVASION                                       246

  XXII WHAT TO DO WITH THE IMMIGRANT                                 297



                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


 The Real Problem                                         _Frontispiece_

 The Tenement in Houston Street in which the Author
   and his Wife lived (_The chimney-shadow marks their
   room_)                                              _Facing page_   8

 Mrs. Brandenburg in her wretched Tenement-room        _Facing page_  12

 Life on the Steerage-passengers’ Deck on the _Lahn_   _Facing page_  28

 Preparing to Serve a Meal on the _Lahn_ from the
   Food-tanks and Bread-baskets                        _Facing page_  38

 Peasant Types                                         _Facing page_  50

 Mangling Hemp                                         _Facing page_  56

 Morning in the Village and Vineyards                  _Facing page_  64

 Threshing Beans                                       _Facing page_  72

 Scilla—Draught-oxen of Italy                          _Facing page_  82

 The Messenger—The Guide—The House of the
   Squadritos—The Town (Gualtieri)                     _Facing page_  90

 Part of the Family gathered in the Kitchen (_From
   left to right: Ina, Tono, Giovanina, Antonio, Mrs.
   Squadrito, Giovanni, Jr., Nicola, Maria_)—Felicia
   Pulejo—Concetta                                     _Facing page_  98

 Visitors in the Author’s Room—Teresa di Bianca—The
   Old Woman up the Valley—Shyness in Shawl and
   Pattens—Small Children Labor in the Fields          _Facing page_ 104

 Giacomo Marini, the Municipal Secretary—Nicola
   Squadrito at Work (_Carmelo Merlino at the right_)  _Facing page_ 114

 Ina and Her Friends in Procession to the Church for
   Farewell Blessings                                  _Facing page_ 124


                        DEPARTURE FROM GUALTIERI

 “Declaring” in the Messina Office—Party’s Baggage on
   Lighter—Friends, Neighbors and Relatives            _Facing page_ 132

 The Storied Vicolo del Pallonetto in Naples           _Facing page_ 146

 At the Doorway of the Capitaneria—Author’s Party on
   the Quay                                            _Facing page_ 162


                            MID-VOYAGE SCENES

 Mora—Syrian Jews—Prostrated by the Swell—Children
   Escaping Seasickness                                _Facing page_ 184

 Half a Dozen Races on Common Ground—His Brothcup—The
   Immigrant Madonna                                   _Facing page_ 190


                   LIFE ABOARD THE _Prinzessin Irene_

 Men’s Sleeping-quarters—Ladling out Food—The Purser
   Hurling Passengers About—On the Fo’c’s’l-head       _Facing page_ 194

 Part of the Author’s Party—All Eyes to the Statue of
   Liberty                                             _Facing page_ 206

 Croatians and Italians—Swedes Arriving—Loading the
   Barges, New York                                    _Facing page_ 210

 Rushing Immigrants on Barges—Inspectors and
   Immigrants at Ellis Island                          _Facing page_ 214

 Stairway of Separation—Checking into Pens             _Facing page_ 218

 Excluded for Age—Waiting for Immigrant Friends        _Facing page_ 222

 The Immigrants’ Track Through Ellis Island,           _Facing page_ 227

 Mr. Broughton Brandenburg, as he Looked when He
   Passed through Ellis Island as an Immigrant         _Facing page_ 230

 Stonington—The Barber-shop—The Squadrito House        _Facing page_ 234

 Night-porter’s Staff at Siegel-Cooper Company’s
   (_Nunzio Giunta in front of post_)                  _Facing page_ 242

 Nicola Curro at Work—Ina Americanized—Saint’s Figure,
   covered with Bags of Money                          _Facing page_ 264

 Nicola Curro Studying English in the Author’s Home in
   New York                                            _Facing page_ 280



                               CHAPTER I
                       THE IMPETUS AND THE METHOD


That there was a tremendous increase in immigration in prospect was
announced by the agents of the great immigrant-carrying lines of
steamships as early as January of 1903. All Europe seemed stirred with
that tide of unrest. It was to be a great year for the departure from
the Continental hives of the new swarms, and an authoritative foreign
journal prophesied that the sum total would be 1,500,000 for the twelve
months.

In America the cry was redoubled that the doors of the United States
should be altogether closed or rendered still more difficult to pass.
The Shattuc bill was about to find favor in the House of
Representatives, the Lodge bill was cooking in Boston, and in every
newspaper or periodical of the land articles and editorials were
appearing that attacked or defended various phases, conditions or
proposed remedies of immigration. Even in the German and Italian papers,
which speak for Germany, Austria and Italy, the most fertile
immigrant-producing grounds, there was but the barest trifle printed
that was _from the point of view of the immigrant himself_. In the
American papers there was absolutely nothing.

One day I was in the Grand Central station in New York, ready to take a
train for New Haven, and as I came up to the gate I saw, passing through
before me, a group of more than twenty newly arrived Italians, following
the leadership of one short, black, thick-set prosperous-seeming man who
spoke Italian to the left and broken English to the right. They were
tagged for Boston and other New England towns, and, bearing their heavy
burdens of luggage and bundles, with faces drawn with weariness, eyes
dull with too much gazing at the wonders of a new land, with scarce a
smile among them except on the faces of the unreasoning children, they
were herded together, counted off as they passed through the gate and
taken aboard the train, much as if they had been some sort of animals
worth more than ordinary care, instead of rational human beings. Here
they were in charge of the conductor, who grouped them in seats
according to the towns to which they were destined.

When I was seated and had unfolded my paper the first thing that caught
my eye was an article in which a noted sociologist was liberally quoted
recommending the total suspension of immigration for three years and
_then_ new laws admitting only those who would come with their families
and were trained in some work demanding skill. The arguments were
specious, but as I looked over the top of the paper at the poor
creatures huddled in the car seats about, very thinly dressed for so
cold a January day, it occurred to me that the true light, the
revelation of the natural remedies and the only real understanding of
the immigrant situation lay in seeing from the underside, in getting the
immigrants’ point of view to compare with the public-spirited American
one.

That was the leaven and it grew. The idea ramified into a plan, and this
plan was laid before Mr. Ellery Sedgwick, the editor of _Leslie’s
Monthly_, and very soon it was decided that I was to go seeking the
immigrants’ point of view and was to take my wife with me.

All of the intricacies of how, where and just what, evolved slowly, but
this in brief was our general plan: First of all we must choose the
ground for our investigation. Since Italy sends not only three times
more immigrants than any other country, but a larger proportion of the
sort that are objected to in America, it was plain that our work lay
among the Italians. We must know the language well enough to ask
questions and understand answers; we must know the conditions of Italian
life in America in order to know what good and what evil things to trace
to their sources. To understand the people properly, we must live with
them and be of them, and, to get the fullest grasp on the process of
their transmutation we must become immigrants ourselves and re-enter our
own country as strangers and aliens.

Therefore we must take up our abode in the Italian quarter, and, when
duly prepared and informed, voyage to the home land with some of the
returning Italians and, having learned the actual conditions there, come
back in the steerage and pass through Ellis Island, bringing with us
some typical immigrant family whose exact circumstances we had fully
learned in their native community. Using them as a central strand we
would weave a story of small things that should be worthy of being taken
into reckoning by thinking minds, as a new and important fund of
information.

Though we knew full well the hardships which we must endure for many
long months, the difficulties which would arise like forbidding
barriers, I am free to say that the things on which we had counted and
against which we had armed ourselves did not come to pass for the most
part; while a multitude of things happened that were as unexpected as
gold in breakfast food.

Work began at once, by the book, on the language, and while in the wilds
of Yucatan in February we were studying Italian. In March we landed in
New York late one night from the Ward liner _Monterey_, and the very
next day went into the Italian quarter seeking a place to live. When we
had been in the reeking streets, amid the tumult of innumerable
children, and had entered a few of the tenements, my wife turned pale
and sick and said:

“Don’t think I am faltering at the threshold; but, please, if we must go
through all this, let us have a week of comfort and preparation. Then we
will take the plunge.”

Thus I knew how much harder it was for her, with all her love of comfort
and her accustomedness to it, to forsake it for any purpose, however
important or worth while, than it was for me, who, manlike, enjoy “the
fare of the field, and the habit of the strange land.” And thereafter,
particularly when we were in the steerage of the _Prinzessin Irene_ and
were bound home, actually counting the half-hours of the twelve-day
voyage amid utter wretchedness, never did I hear one complaint from her
lips or did she give other sign of failing.

At the very outset we had difficulty in gaining admission to any
all-Italian house. In the tenements where several rooms were to be had,
the Italian real-estate agents eyed us with suspicion and averred
solemnly that they were all full, even to the roof. This they asserted,
notwithstanding empty apartments to be seen from the street and “Rooms
to Let” signs without number. In the boarding houses we were met with a
very cold reception even before it was known what we wanted. In the
Italian hotels it was the same way with the exception of one south of
Washington Square, and there the proprietor kindly offered to let us in
at twice the ordinary price, according to the rates tacked on the room
doors. At last, however, we came to the domicile of the Chevalier
Celestin Tonella. Here we found our haven.

It was some time after we were settled before we learned that we were
under the roof of a nobleman. If we had been familiar with the nice
distinctions of Italian caste, however, we should have known it
instantly. The three houses Nos. 141, 145, 147 West Houston Street,
entered by the door of No. 147, seemed to us very little different from
many of the other tenements in which we had been, and indeed they were
not. The difference all lay in the master not in the mansion. If I had
known before paying my rent in advance that my landlord had a title, I
should have demurred, thinking that in his house there would be life a
little too high in grade for the real Italian quarter; but before I knew
the Chevalier’s station, I had learned that we were in the proper
element and surrounded by the very atmosphere we sought, though the same
at meal times would have almost killed a strong man in his prime.

Just before we gained admittance to the desired quarters we were in the
office of a real-estate man who has an exclusively Italian custom in the
lower West Side quarter, renting to people of his own race and tongue
houses owned by wealthy people up-town. When he had refused to give us
an opportunity at anything on his lists I said to him:

“See here. We have been hunting rooms all day. We have been frustrated
from Mulberry Street to Fifteenth. I have got money and can give
references, but nobody seems to care about either. What is the matter?
Why can we not get into an Italian house?”

“Scoose me, mister, bot wye youse want to?”

“We want to live with Italians in order to learn to speak Italian
properly.”

“Yes, all ri—ght. I don’ know wye.” A shrug of the shoulders and a side
glance with dropped eyes. “Mebbe Eyetayun peoples sink-a youse try to
fin’ a out somesings, mebbe don’ a want somebodys fin’ youse. Youse
knows deys-a only dirty dagoes.”

This last was said with a bitterness which showed clearly how well the
Italians understand the tolerant, semi-contemptuous regard of Americans
towards them and how keenly they resent it. I understood at once how and
why they suspected us because we, who were obviously “Americans proper”
as they nicely express the difference between the native and imported
American, desired to come and make our home among them. Only a knowledge
that the persons are still living and a wholesome respect for the libel
law prevent me from telling how well founded were the suspicions among
the Italians of the “Americans proper” who lived about us later.

Thus, to begin with we were met by the barrier of suspicion and
misunderstanding raised against us by all our neighbors. We had to
overcome it carefully or do our work in spite of it.



                               CHAPTER II
                  LIFE IN A NEW YORK ITALIAN TENEMENT


Our room was about seven feet wide and twelve long. It was half of a
room of ordinary size that had been cut nicely in two by a partition,
and had a sort of small extension at the back that looked out on the
rear of the house. It was barely possible to get by the bed in order to
pass from the door to the rear window. The bed itself, while not being a
geometrical point, had neither length, breadth, nor thickness. In one
corner was a small cook-stove, that should have been under pension.
There was a small table in the tiny extension, covered with a
dark-patterned piece of oilcloth. A careful inspection of it showed me
that dark oilcloth _has_ certain advantages over light. A kerosene lamp
with a discouragingly short wick stood on an imitation marble
mantelpiece that was a relic of the days of the old mansion’s former
glory.

We contrived to get one steamer trunk under the bed, and as soon as we
could sort out articles of essential wear, the others drifted to that
place of uncertainty called “storage.”

Some little time after we had entered the house we were able to get a
room twice the size on the top floor, and we contrived to dispose
ourselves with some degree of comfort. Aside from the size and the
addition of a good bed, the room and furnishings of our second chamber
agreed with the first.

During the time we lived there we dressed in such a manner as not to
attract the attention of the people about us to the fact that we were
not of them, only keeping with us apparel for use when we indulged
ourselves in an evening’s relaxation from the hard life and stole away
up-town for a bite of something good to eat and the cheer of the voices
of friends speaking unadulterated English.

The first night we were in the house we were very weary with the
operation of shifting bases and change of station in life, and, finding
it almost impossible to read by the light of the lamp, we sought repose
about ten o’clock; but just about that time from the floor below us,
where we could hear the babel of the voices of men and women, as it were
a family party or something of the sort, there began to come a series of
vocal explosions. It seemed to be two or more men shouting single words
at each other in concert. They enunciated with great energy, at first in
a repressed sort of way, but after ten or fifteen words their voices
rose to an alarming pitch. Then would come a pause filled in with
laughter and chatter, and once more the word-slinging contest would
begin. So fiercely were the words expelled that for a long time we could
not tell what they were. At last we made out “sei” and “otto,” and as it
was impossible to go to sleep with so lively a social function going on
below, I got up, lit the lamp and took up our Italian books. A moment’s
consultation of the books and a little listening showed us that they
were counting, or at least hurling numbers at random at each other. It
was inexplicable to us, but it was our first glance into the inside of
Italian quarter life.

[Illustration: The Tenement in Houston Street in which the Author and
his Wife lived (_The chimney-shadow marks their room_)]

I was heartily glad, however, that the birthday party, christening or
wedding anniversary, whichever it was, must surely be a matter of rare
occasion.

Imagine our feelings when ten o’clock the next night came and the same
rumpus broke forth once more, only with greater vigor. In vain we
conjectured the cause. Perhaps they were in the midst of a week’s
celebration of some church festival. Perhaps there was some sort of a
tournament on.

At last I determined to investigate. Though it was a wet night and
walls, ledges and railings about the rear of the house were dripping and
slimy, I clambered down from the back window to a point where I could
look in below.

There were two basement rooms opening into each other, and there must be
a third that opened onto the street in front of the house. The first
room was a much-cluttered kitchen with broken boxes of several sorts of
macaroni exposed to view, a well-heated range, a cook in white clothes,
innumerable bottles of wine on the shelves and dirty dishes on one side
while the clean ones were in orderly piles on the other.

In the second and inner room there was a thick, blue atmosphere of pipe
and cigar smoke through which the gas jets in the centre of the room
flared sharply. Around the uncovered tables of varying sizes were
Italians to the number of a score or more. More than half of them were
in rough working clothes. Some had beer, some had wine before them and
some were eating the stringing macaroni from large dishes heaped with
it. Three of them were under the gaslight and were leaning forward in
postures of straining excitement, and as each spoke a number he thrust
out one hand or both with fingers held out,—three, four, seven, perhaps
only one. All the numbers spoken were under ten, and the numbers spoken
did not correspond with the numbers indicated by the fingers. After
watching them a minute I saw that each man was trying to guess what
number the other man would indicate on his fingers, and a correct guess
ended each bout; then would come laughter at the expense of the defeated
one, and the game would begin over again for points.

Later inquiry as to the name and popularity of the game brought forth
the information that it is called _mora_ and is very general through
southern Italy, being a favorite diversion among the country people. In
Italy country boys will get together in a corner and play _mora_ till
they are exhausted, and in the place under us I have known the last
hoarsely shouted number to sound after the hour of three.

As I climbed back into my own room I took with me the satisfying
knowledge that we should probably hear _mora_ and sing-songing every
night while we dwelt in the place. It was evidently a restaurant and
used as a sort of club house by a company of the convivial and
congenial. There was not the slightest indication on the street front
that the place was anything but an ordinary tenement basement.

The commissary end of our campaign after information was very weak. Home
cooking is well enough with facilities. It is a destroyer of peace and
well-being, without them. Therefore we began a series of disastrous
experiments in lunching and dining out in first one and then the other
Italian restaurants thereabouts, and after a plucky and determined
resistance to the enemy we succumbed. Our stomachs demanded time to
accustom themselves to the change, and so we took to Italian fare only
in moderation, securing at last an ability to eat and enjoy it.

After I had discovered that there was a restaurant in the basement of
our own house, I made inquiry of the landlord as to its desirability,
and on his recommendation we went in there one day for lunch. We found
that, as I had surmised, there was a third room in the front, and in
this a large table was set. At its head was an important-looking
red-bearded gentleman whom I knew was an _editorre_ of one of the many
small Italian publications put forth in New York. Ranged down each side
were men of several sorts. There was an animated conversation in
progress as we entered, but a sudden silence fell as they saw us. Looks
of suspicion passed, and though they greeted us in a constrained sort of
way as we took places at the foot of the table, I could see that we
represented a note of discord. The proprietor, who was cook as well, and
his wife and sister-in-law were effusive in their welcome, and after we
had tasted the character of the food I felt that we were nearer a
solution of the eating question than at any time before. The men at the
table were visibly relieved when they found that we could not understand
Italian, and ventured remarks now and then to test our knowledge. Some
of these were of a very personal nature concerning us; and, being able
to understand some few of the words and phrases, I knew this but behaved
as if there were no word of all they said that had any meaning to me.

That evening when we came in for dinner we found that a little table for
the two of us had been put in a remote corner of the long room, and
though the places in which we had been at noon were empty, plates and
chairs had been removed, so that we well knew “outsiders,” especially
ladies, were not desired at their board.

Once they were perfectly sure we did not understand anything of which
they spoke, they became just as free of speech as they must have been
before. This was very fine for us. An understanding of the good Italian
they spoke, which was barely sufficient to trace and know the current of
conversation, rapidly broadened into ability to get more of the full
meaning. It was ill for speaking-practice, though, for we used only
English in the place, and I found that if I used the Italian that I
heard them speaking at the table, to any one outside in other parts of
the Italian quarter there was an absolute failure to understand me. At
first I thought this was because of my poor pronunciation and awkward
attempts, but the more I listened the more I learned that we were
absorbing better Italian than was spoken by the mass of Italians in New
York, and when I first mentioned the subject to an Italian friend, newly
made, he laughingly explained that there are about twenty varieties of
Italian speech, and that in the restaurant in the Houston Street
basement I was hearing Milanese while all about outside were Romans,
Neapolitans, Genoese, Turinese, Calabrese, Sicilians, and so on. Greater
knowledge of the language showed me that so wide are the differences
that a man from certain portions of the north of Italy is almost unable
to converse with a man from the south, even if _willing_ to do so. There
is the bitterest sectional feeling, and people of different provinces
are constantly arrayed against each other. I found this feeling very
strong between the Calabrese and the Sicilian.

The men who took lunch at the basement restaurant were of a more
intelligent class than those who came there at night, and so, as we came
to understand more each day, we began to learn more and more of the very
facts of inside life among Italians for which we were seeking.

[Illustration: Mrs. Brandenburg in Her wretched Tenement-room]

I do not know that we got so much well-rounded information from their
chance conversation as tips on the things for which to be on the
lookout. Some little things in particular that had no bearing on
generalities are contained in the following incidents.

Gossip one day told me that a certain editor of an Italian newspaper of
some standing had written a scathing article directed against Mr. Frank
Munsey, at that time the new owner of the _News_, and William Randolph
Hearst of the _American_ and _Journal_. He had said things which he felt
sure would make both of those gentlemen get down their rapiers and do
battle either editorially or in person. He hoped it would be both, as he
felt he had a righteous cause and needed the advertising. The day his
editorial was published he stayed close to the telephone all day in his
office expecting a telephone message from one or the other. When the
papers of both attacked editors appeared next day without even a
one-line hint of the deadly blow which had been dealt them, the Italian
editor very nearly fell to the floor in a frothing rage. For an hour he
raved like a wild man and was only calmed by the assurance from a
cool-headed friend that both were preparing overwhelming answers for
their print next day, so he settled himself to write what he thought
would be an anticipation of their replies. Not a sign did the two
smitten ones give, and it was not long before some one found out through
friends in the offices of both papers that in neither had either the
first or second assaults in the Italian journal even been so much as
heard of.

One of the men at the table had his father in this country with him, and
the father, having been here two years and saved $600 working in a piano
factory for $1.40 per day, wished to return to Italy to spend his last
days and, desiring to save his passage money, had followed the example
of another old man and arranged to get himself deported. I listened
closely and heard the son telling with great amusement how “feeble” the
old man became when he went to make his application for deportation as
an alien who was unable to support himself in America because of age and
ill health.

At another time a newcomer at the table related to an interested
audience what had been told him of the very wild condition of the
country even so far east as Kentucky. He gave some instances of a feud,
that had been generally printed a short time before, as if they were the
actual doings of hordes of savages in the mountains. He may not have
been as far wrong as it seems at first glance, of course, but the
incident aptly illustrated how little conception the mass of otherwise
well-informed aliens have of the great country which is giving them more
of comfort, liberty and opportunity than they have ever had before.

Our landlord and his wife represented a class which is taken all too
slightly into account by those Americans who are interested in the
immigration question; for it has an influence which, while positive in
few things and negative in many, is nevertheless very strong and
powerfully affects the destinies of Italians in America.

The Chevalier Celestin Tonella is a man of striking presence. He is
large and heavy and has the erect bearing of a soldier. He has the
dominant nose and the composed air of one accustomed to command. The
time was when he stood well up in the army. His exact rank I never
learned.

His wife is a small, slender, gray-haired woman with the unmistakable
stamp of the gentlewoman upon her, and she speaks a number of languages
as well as having the deft-finger gift of making, painting, broidering
and sewing, as is the way with Italian women of position.

Of their story I know nothing, except that once she was in the patronage
of a duchess and was at court, and he was also in favor with the high
and mighty; but now they are running Nos. 141, 145 and 147 Houston
Street for a living and are here in America with no plans for going back
to Italy. How or why they came, who knows? So far as the interests of
this work are concerned I do not care, and have introduced them in so
personal a fashion only because they are so typical a family of
better-class Italians emigrated to America. Last year the number of
alien immigrants landed in the United States who were able to come in
the cabin instead of in the steerage was 64,269 and the year previous
82,055. Of this number more than one third were Italians.

In my personal acquaintance among Italians in New York there is a man
who was formerly a priest in Rome and is now a saloon-keeper and banker
on the East Side; another man who has four titles and an unenviable
record in Genoa, Milan, Venice, Paris and Vienna, who owns three
barber-shops up-town and two resorts in Elizabeth Street capitalized
with the patrimony of a young gentlewoman of Udine who followed him to
America when his family had cast him off and it was too hot for him to
remain in Italy, France or Austria; a third man who is a banker not far
from where we lived who is conducting a flourishing “padrone” business
founded on funds which he abstracted while an official in Naples before
that city was bankrupted by its rulers.

There are three. I could give a number more, but those will suffice. The
point in the whole consideration is that _the lower class Italians in
this country continue to pay the respect and homage to those of their
race who have been born to position, without regard to the changed and
democratic conditions under which both gentleman and peasant are now
living_.

An Italian of humble birth who may have prospered in this country and
have risen to a position of commercial and political eminence among New
Yorkers will cringe unhesitatingly to some worthless scamp who chances
to be well born. I have seen this instanced many times and in various
ways. Twenty years of residence and fifteen of citizenship in the United
States will change the average Italian into a very American sort of
person, but I know to a certainty that he will suffer silently at the
hands of a countryman of superior birth what he would not submit to for
one minute from an American no matter what might be the latter’s station
in life. It is certainly a curious fact.

In general it is safe to say that half of the Italians from the better
classes who come to America are far more undesirable than any of the
lower-class immigrants except _that_ certain class of habitual criminals
who are doing so much to get their race despised by honest, clean-handed
Americans.

One of their worst influences is to retard the assimilation of their
people by the great American body politic, by refusing to be themselves
assimilated, even going so far as to send their children to private
schools in order that they may not learn English, and in insisting on
wearing clothes of imported make or pattern. They are by birth,
tradition and intent the leaders of Italian communities in this country,
and their prejudices and examples confuse if not entirely divert the
natural social development of their humbler countrymen all about them.

Many of them are estimable, as are Chevalier Tonella and his clever,
cheery wife, but their influence is negatively wrong.

One evening I was sitting with an Italian carpenter, a friend of the
landlord’s, in a corner of a Thompson Street saloon, and we were
discussing the effect of union-labor regulations on the labor of
immigrants and the way in which skilled masons, carpenters,
cabinet-makers, smiths, etc., are forced to become peddlers, common
laborers, bootblacks, etc., instead of having opportunities to follow
their trades, when we were interrupted by the sudden appearance of a
very excited man. He was a young barber, flushed with wine and good
fortune. He burst into the room with a shout and a rattle of oaths and
slammed down a handful of mixed money on a table.

The people about were saying so much and delivering it in so short a
time that it was a full five minutes before they began conversation
_piano_ enough for me to get the idea. The young barber had won three
hundred dollars at _lotto_ and had just received it.

I knew that in Italy nearly every block in the cities has its _banco di
lotto_ run by the government and supposed that the young chap had been
playing the lottery from this side and had won but I soon learned that
the national love of _lotto_ gambling has been transplanted to America,
and that since the laws here forbid lotteries the Italians of the
country are forced to run them under cover, and do so very successfully.
After that I often heard of plays made by my friends and of winnings now
and then by people I did not know, but never at any time was I able to
fathom the method by which the business was carried on. Instead of being
officially conducted by any society, each lottery is entirely a private
venture, and its patronage is confined to those who are _compare_ as the
dialect has it. It is a word difficult to render into English, but all
those Italians who come from one town or province and have mutual
interests and trust each other are _compare_. Not only does this
freemasonry exist as to _lotto_, but it pervades all their other social
relations. It is a potent force never reckoned with among those who
persist in misunderstanding the “dirty dago.”

Very soon after we had taken up our residence in the quarter I found out
the true reason for the prospect of an enormously increased immigration
for 1903. The ponderous articles and profoundly wise comments on the
question had attributed it to a number of things. Among these were: an
increasing demand for labor that made a market for the immigrants’
muscles, advertising efforts on the part of competing steamship lines,
oppression of the Jews, deflection of German emigration from South
America to North America, increased taxes and failure of crops in
southern Europe. Balderdash and folly! The truth was that every man who
had any relatives to bring over to the United States had read of the new
strictures in immigration laws that impended and was straining every
nerve to bring them and get them passed before the new laws could be
passed and put into effect. Thousands and thousands of people whom the
laws would not have affected in the least came this last year when if
there had been no change of legislation in prospect, they would have
waited a year or two more. I know personally of a score of families
whose plans were affected by this very thing and _by no other
consideration_.

It should be remarked at this stage that one of the first things I
learned among the Italians (and I knew later that it extended to all
races) was that the alien considers the United States code of
immigration laws a very complex, fearsome and inexplicable thing, to be
thoroughly respected but if possible, evaded.

More than once I have been asked the following question which bears its
own token:

“If a man and his family are good enough to live in Italy, why are they
not good enough to live in the United States?”

The records of immigrants who have gone insane either on shipboard or in
Ellis Island, or have broken down as soon as ever they were safely
landed in the United States, are striking proof of how persons entirely
within the bounds of the laws worry over the chance of exclusion.

One day after we had changed into our third-floor room we heard a
frightful row among the neighbors below. A moment’s listening showed
that some woman was berating a little girl, and some man was interposing
in the child’s behalf. I suppose it was a man and his wife and the
eldest of their three girls, who lived on that floor. I cannot give the
entire conversation, but the following extract will tell the story:

Said the mother in very forcible Tuscan:

“You _shall_ speak Italian and nothing else, if I must kill you; for
what will your grandmother say when you go back to the old country, if
you talk this pig’s English?”

“Aw, gwan! Youse tink I’m goin’ to talk dago ‘n’ be called a guinea! Not
on your life. I’m 'n American, I am, ‘n’ you go way back ‘n’ sit down.”

The mother evidently understood the reply well enough, for she poured
forth a torrent of Italian mixed with strange misplaced American oaths,
and then the father ended matters by saying in mixed Italian and
English:

“Shut up, both of you. I wish I spoke English like the children do.”

A very sensible German whom I know, a man of good education and holding
an important position in the Ward line, has often told me that he was
compelled to learn to speak good English in order to keep from being
laughed at by his children, who contrived to escape correction whenever
he used broken English in arraigning them.

One of our methods of investigation was to go from one place of business
to another in the quarter and, if possible, buy some trifle, meanwhile
asking questions. We found that it is usually the children who do the
reading, writing, interpreting and accounting in English for their
parents, and an extremely bright and quick lot of youngsters they seemed
to be. In some places we saw startling contrasts between the two
generations: one rooted in all that is Italian and absolutely unable to
allow themselves to be absorbed and assimilated and the other intensely
and thoroughly American in every idea and mannerism. It would be easy to
understand how this could be so had these same children been well mixed
with native-born children, but in all that community and in the schools
they attended the percentage of Italians was so great that one would
have thought it was the native-born children who would have been
swallowed up in Italianism. It is a remarkable fact that the Italian
children insist on learning and speaking English alone, though it is not
the native tongue of more than one in ten persons about them.

One of the general conditions, to the true significance of which our
attention was called by the conversation of the midday gathering around
the table in the Houston Street basement, is the pernicious system of
Italian “banks.” They are scattered everywhere through the Italian
colonies of New York, Boston, Buffalo, Pittsburg, Philadelphia, etc.,
and, being ultra-parasitical in their nature, their harmful agencies may
be imagined.

In Greater New York, and in its New Jersey purlieus which are so closely
connected that they pulse with the life of the great city, there are 412
Italian banks with charters to do banking business and fully as many
more that operate without charters. Many of these are combination
businesses, money exchanges, steamship-ticket offices and banks,
groceries and banks, saloons and banks, and often only the patrons are
aware that there is a banking business at all.

Furthermore the banking business is conducted on a very different basis
from that usual in American banks of the various grades. Every employer
of Italian labor in New York city knows that if he wishes to get a gang
of men quickly to go to a job of work he need only telephone to an
Italian bank. It will be found to be a very effective employment bureau.
I have known specific instances where two large corporations, one
commercial and the other industrial, being suddenly in need of labor,
sent to Italian banks and got gangs of men. In the one instance the
commercial corporation agreed to pay the bank $7.20 per week per man,
and the men received from the bank $5 per week each. In another the
industrial corporation paid $1.50 per day, and the men got $1.10. Three
banks were concerned in the two cases. I learned of the low wage from
the men, and in answer to my questions they told me that they were under
the control of the bank. So I made inquiry of the two corporations and
ascertained the above facts.

It is unwise and unjust to say that all of the little Italian banks are
conducted on these lines or indulge in the following practices. There
are many which are conducted by honorable, trustworthy men; but the
greater number are the arbiters of the welfare of the Italian laborer in
this country. They “bureauize” him privately, as the Italian government
is endeavoring and failing to do officially. The poverty-pinched Italian
peasant who is minded to come to America, earn a few hundred dollars and
return can go to a money-lender at home and deliver himself into his
hands. His fare will be lent to him, with other necessary money, at a
usurious rate, frequently with no security save that the peasant, often
unable to read or write and densely ignorant of what awaits him, is
consigned to the Italian bank in America of which the money lender is a
correspondent. When he reaches Ellis Island he is met by his “cousin,”
the bank’s representative, and is duly discharged to him in New York or
shipped to him by rail. If he has any money of his own, he deposits it
in the bank; the bank lends him more money if he needs it; the bank
finds his place to sleep and eat; the bank sees that he has a doctor if
he needs one; and in a day or two the ignorant peasant with others of
his kind is despatched to work in the Subway, steve on the docks,
excavate for new buildings, delve in the mines, or whatever the work may
be, fulfilling the agreement which the bank has made to deliver labor.
This is an evasion of the letter of the contract alien labor law and a
flagrant violation of its spirit.

The bank, furthermore, is usually owned entirely or at least controlled
by one man. It is the laborer’s address for his mail from home. It
writes his letters for him if he is unable to write. It forwards his
savings home, minus a percentage. It holds his passport and any other
valuable papers and in every way makes itself so essential to him that
it has him entirely in its control. Often he realizes that it does this
for from five to thirty per cent of his wages; more often he never knows
how much short of his full due he is getting. Worst of all are the
naturalization frauds, the wholesale political mal-franchisements and
increase of temporary immigration. In the last-named matter the banker
rarely fails to urge the immigrant to return to Italy after he has saved
two or three hundred dollars, because he will sell the immigrant his
ticket home, clear the scores, realize his profits and be able to fill
the place of the departing man with one who is “greener” and yet more
ignorant. When the Italian has been here a year or two he begins to be
difficult for the banker to handle, unless he be of that number who are
born to be driven and sold like cattle.

As I have said there are many very worthy men engaged in banking and
agency businesses among Italians, but there is a notable number who are
born thieves and swindlers and have records at home which prevent their
enjoyment of the balmy air of Italy for even one brief day. This matter
is not overlooked at home. A joke in one of the Roman comic papers
printed not long ago attests that.

A cashiered army officer is pictured as meeting a defaulting
office-holder just emerging from a term in prison. This is the dialogue:

_Army Officer._—“What is the game now? An honest life?”

_Late Office-holder._—“No, I think I shall open an emigrant bank in New
York.”

_Army Officer._—“Indeed! I had thought of _that_ myself.”



                              CHAPTER III
                TO NAPLES IN THE STEERAGE OF THE _LAHN_


When midsummer came it was of course still too hot in southern Italy for
us to go there with safety, let alone comfort, and it was becoming every
day more onerous to live in the quarter. New Yorkers who dwell up-town
and have entire houses, floors or apartments to themselves complain
bitterly of the heat in summer, and, if possible, escape from the city.
I have passed a whole summer in New York up-town, but, permit me to say
that it is life at a seaside resort compared to what the people endure
in the down-town tenement districts.

I think that we could have supported the heat, but the conglomerate of
smells increased until it was overpowering, and each night the entire
quarter was in tumult until well towards dawn. We learned then what we
came to know so well thereafter, that when the Italian cannot sleep he
fain would sing and play _lotto_, seven and a half, or _mora_. At last,
in June, my wife became quite sick one day, and two days later we were
off on a trip by steamer to Newfoundland, Labrador and Nova Scotia,
returning early in August in time to sail on the _Lahn_ of the North
German Lloyd line.

The morning of our departure was a beautiful one, and as we crossed by
the Hoboken ferry we could see the great German ships lying at the
Hamburg-American and North German Lloyd docks. One of them had smoke
pouring from her funnels, and a “blue peter” fluttered at her peak,—the
signal that she was about to sail.

We were dressed in the plainest and cheapest of clothes, bought and worn
previously in the quarter, and everything we owned we had stored except
what could be got into a little $1.10 imitation-leather dressing-case,
with a shoulder-strap clipped into screw-eyes in the end to make easy
porterage. Over half of its contents were photographic and stationery
supplies. Instead of a shirt I wore the usual dark jersey such as many
Italians in this country wear. Around my waist was a plain leather belt
cleverly made of two strips between which reposed several thousand
_lire_, easily put in or taken out through a neatly concealed aperture.
Once thereafter a man handled that belt and threw it down as not worth
taking, when it had in it a sum that would have gladdened his heart. I
bore the one piece of baggage, while my wife carried, slung over her
shoulder, the five-by-seven cartridge kodak which was our most jealous
ward, our one essential treasure.

We had bought tickets at the Greenwich Street office of the North German
Lloyd Company, where the steerage traffic is handled, under the names of
Berto and Luiga Brandi and when doing so were asked our ages, places of
birth, occupation, etc. On inquiry I found that the Italian law requires
this of the ship’s company, and that these sheets are used to keep track
of returned emigrants and facilitate apprehension of any men who have
avoided military duty.

As we pushed our way through the crowd on the dock, where freight and
steerage baggage was being rushed out of the way of the
“first-cabiners,” who had not yet begun to arrive, we were startled to
find what an enormous number of fellow passengers we were to have
compared to the steerage capacity of the ship and the agent’s forecast
of the load. He had conjectured 350 four days before. We sailed with
more than 750 and certainly had a full house.

As we came up the gangway we were checked off by a short, heavy-set
official in a black-lustre coat and dirty piqué cap; and a white-aproned
stewardess of massive frame gave us two little red cards which read
“Good for One Ration,” while a steerage steward thrust into our hands a
piece of horse-blanket goods of very poor material and very scant in
dimensions, wrapped around a tin spoon, tin fork and tin cup, as well as
a little pan about the pork-and-bean size. As we passed on into the
crowd and into an unoccupied corner of the deck, and my wife unrolled
her blanket and saw what was inside, a certain startled, stricken look
came into her eyes. I knew that for the first time realization of a part
of what was before her had come to her. I had often told her as nearly
as I could, speaking from my own experiences as a sailor when studying
seafaring life, of how steerage passengers lived on emigrant ships; but
now any sort of “camping-out glamour” that had hung about it for her was
dispelled, and she had a glimpse to the fore where misery, dirt and
discomfort lay spread. If she was sorry she had come, she did not say
so. I will confess that we had long since made a private bargain about
the enterprise, and the consideration was well worth the while, so she
showed no sign of wavering from her agreement.

The deck forward was the scene of the wildest commotion. Many people who
were returning had been accompanied to the dock by their friends, and
these, standing on shore, shouted vainly to their compatriots aboard.
The noise was too great for speech except at close range. On every hand
was piled baggage of all shapes and sizes; but I remembered it
afterwards with envy when I saw the terrible mass of nondescript luggage
which smothered the steerage on the return trip. The immigrant comes
here with a huge pile of bundles, wooden boxes and flimsy bags; he goes
home with good steel-framed valises and good trunks.

The chatter that prevailed about was mostly Italian, and I found that
some of the dialects spoken I could not understand at all. I had not
even encountered them in the quarter. Then, too, there were aboard,
Greeks, Spaniards, Swiss, Germans, Macedonians, Montenegrians,
Hungarians, Jews of several sorts, Syrians, etc. All spoke English in
stages varying from a complete command down to the ability to swear.
American “cuss words” are among the first things picked up and the last
forgot. Strange, isn’t it?

We had been promised that we might secure places,—after we were on
board, in a closed compartment with four other people, a sort of
superior steerage accommodation to be had at the expense of $10 added to
the $35 for passage, which we had paid, and, leaving my wife seated in a
clean spot on a hatch, I scoured the ship within the limits of the
steerage to find those compartments, but all I got was a series of round
cursings from the petty officers for bothering them while they were
busy. I nosed about every corner of the ship forward, and if there were
those compartments for three married couples, which are popularly
supposed to exist in the emigrant quarters and had been referred to in
serious editorials in notable publications within the past three months
as being “all that the ship’s people could be expected to give the third
class in the way of comfort and privacy,” I was unable to find them, nor
did I see them or hear of them at any time later on the _Lahn_ or any
other ship I have inspected.

[Illustration: Life on the Steerage-passengers’ Deck on the _Lahn_]

When I came on deck a stocky Italian, well dressed in American clothes,
was holding an umbrella over my wife, for the sun was beating down on
the ship’s deck, and it was terrifically hot on board, moored as she was
to the south side of the pier. They were chatting in English, and when I
came up the stranger introduced himself as John Tury, of Lancaster, Pa.,
a peanut and fruit seller, who had been in this country five years and
was now going home to Terra Nova, his native village in Sicily, for a
brief visit. He had with him three cousins, younger men. His English was
good though not perfect, and he refused to use Italian either with us or
any one else on shipboard except when necessary. We sat talking for an
hour or more, and became quite good friends, while waiting for the ship
to sail and for a semblance of order to come about.

As yet we had no sleeping quarters. There seemed to be nothing to do but
find places in the men’s and women’s compartments, and they were already
so well filled when we went aboard that there was not a desirable bed
left. I went below, where between decks the long, closely set double
tiers of iron bunks were ranged, and looked in vain for a bunk that was
not occupied by women and children or a piece of baggage left to signify
that it had been pre-empted. There were some empty beds in the men’s
compartments, but they were badly located for light and air. There
seemed to be nothing to gain by being in a hurry, and it was a long time
till evening and bedtime. I knew there was more room on the ship, and I
meant to have some of it even if I had to leave the steerage quarters;
for our only interest in voyaging _to_ Italy in the steerage was to seek
information by association, whereas when _coming back_ to the States it
would be to be constantly with the family with which we expected to
return.

When I returned to the deck, the big liner had slid out of the slip and
was just forging her way down stream. Back on the pier was a black group
of people waving handkerchiefs, parasols and hats. One large group of
Italians I observed, watching the serrated profile of Manhattan with
great interest, and I heard them talking of it as if they had never seen
it before. So I said to one of them:

“Have you been in America and have not seen New York?”

“No, we came to Boston and by railroad to Scranton.”

“Have you been at work in the mines?”

“Yes, they are just sending forty of us back home, and one hundred more
will go next month.”

I knew at once that the group was one of contract laborers who were
being returned to their country, and by questioning him further I
learned that they had been employed in the Lackawanna mines and had got
employment through an Italian “banker” in Scranton who had sent two men
to Italy in October of the year before, and during the winter they had
hired in the vicinity of Potenza nearly three hundred men and despatched
them in small parties on successive steamers to Boston in the months of
March, April and May. Those who were now returning were those who had
been hurt, were sick, or were dissatisfied. Ten of them had had
accidents and four had lung trouble; one poor fellow, he told me, being
even then in the ship’s hospital for steerage passengers dying with
consumption, the result of his two years’ work under ground.

The steerage passengers are supposed to form themselves into groups of
six, and one man of the six is the one to receive the food as it is
ladled out of huge tanks on deck by the steerage stewards; but not
having had time to get properly assorted, dinner was now served to the
steerage on a basis of “every man look out for his own.”

I took our two tin pans and the tin cups, and plunged into the crush
waiting to pass in line down the alley which was made by the tanks and
baskets of food, ranged on the deck forward, and emerged in half an hour
with two messes of macaroni and meat, two tin cups of highly acid and
alcoholic wine and a cap full of hot potatoes.

As my wife looked the fare over when I brought it to her as she squatted
in a nook sheltered from the sun, her lips trembled and she looked away
towards Staten Island, then dropping into dim distance, as if wishing
that she could by some magic word transport herself back to home-land
soil once more. But in an instant her courage forced a smile, and we
closed our eyes and ate and drank. It did not taste so bad, after all,
but it was the look of it! And the way the women and children about us
spilled it around on the deck and on themselves!

After we had eaten what little we might, we ensconced ourselves in a bit
of shade and watched the crowd about. Every moment that passed, every
bit of conversation we caught, every small incident that occurred,
showed us that for months we had been moving on a false plane, that just
at that time when we thought ourselves in the genuine atmosphere of the
life of the Italian immigrant in the New World, we were merely in that
false temporizing atmosphere which he creates for himself and fellows,
and from which he emerges only when he has become Americanized. In a few
minutes we understood that the greater portion of the conditions, habits
and operations which we had observed grew out of a feeling among them
that they were merely temporizing here; that they had come to America to
make a few hundred dollars to send or take back to Italy; and that it
did not make much difference what they ate, wore or did, just so long as
they got the money and got back. We could see plainly why it was that
they had not risen above that state until they had been attracted and
drawn into the real American life about them and had decided to remain.
Here were hundreds of Italians just such as those who had been our
household neighbors, but they were now a different people. They spoke
freely, they bore themselves differently. There was a new certainty and
boldness in their manner, for they were free and cut off from all things
American, and, without imperilling a single interest, could return to
everything that was Italian. Separated from its opportunities for
betterment, their state in this country is inferior to that at home.
This I can say conscientiously after long and careful observation.

We became acquainted with a woman who sat near us and who had a very
pretty little girl. This woman said she came from Pittsburg, having been
born of Italian parents in this country when the first Italians came
from the north of Italy about twenty-five years ago. She had married an
Italian who had emigrated more recently, and now they were going home
for a visit. She expressed intense disgust at the manner in which about
one third of the women conducted themselves and allowed their children
to behave. These women were the ones who made the noise, who scattered
the filth, who sprawled about on deck and whose children, though on
board but a few hours as yet, were sights to behold from being allowed
to play in the scuppers where the refuse from dinner had collected in
heaps purpled with the wasted wine.

From her we learned that her husband had been commissioned by a
contractor in Pittsburg to go into the Italian provinces of Austria,—by
which is meant the Austrian possession immediately around the head of
the Adriatic, where the stock is Italian,—and engage two hundred good
stonemasons, two hundred good carpenters, and an indefinite number of
unskilled laborers. These people were to be put in touch with sub-agents
of lines sailing from Hamburg, Fiume and Bremen, and these agents were
to be accountable for these contract laborers being got safely into the
United States. This woman informed us that many of her neighbors in
Pittsburg had come into the United States as contract laborers, and held
the law in great contempt, as it was merely a matter of being
sufficiently instructed and prepared, and no official at Boston or Ellis
Island could tell the difference.

We had been seated there a little while when there came by a sailor whom
I had known in Hamburg some years before, and when I stepped aside to
talk with him he was greatly surprised but remembered me, and we talked
of many things which do not pertain to this consideration, save that
just before he left I told him that we were on the lookout for the best
sleeping and eating accommodations we could get in the steerage, and he
answered, laughingly, that it was easy enough to get a good place and
good things to eat—if I had money. I signified that I had.

He said he would send me a man who would be the person with whom to
dicker. When he was gone, I sat down to wait. In about an hour I saw a
tall, well-built man in ship’s working rig, neither a sailor nor a
steward, though moving about the steerage apparently looking for some
one; so I moved his way, and when he saw me he sidled up cautiously,
glancing up at the bridge, the forward end of the boat and the hurricane
deck to see who might be observing. I spoke to him in German; but he
replied in English and said we had better talk English, as it was the
language that was safe from eavesdroppers.

He said he would sell us good beds for $10 each, and we could buy food
as we wished it. The food would be furnished by the first-cabin cook and
would be savings from the galley. I demanded to see the beds first, and
he led the way below. He took us to the entrance to the steerage
compartments nearest amidships, where they opened into a little
alleyway, at one end of which was one of the public bars for the sale of
beer to those Italians, Jews, etc., who have learned to drink beer
instead of wine. Beside the companion-way which led down to the
compartments for third-class passengers was a narrow one marked
“Hospital.” It led down past the steerage dispensary and to the two
rooms apportioned for female sick. A narrow alleyway passed transversely
to the other side of the ship, where there were two rooms for the male
sick. My conductor was the hospital steward, and his offer to us was a
bunk each in the hospital wards, to which we could come at night as if
we were patients. I could not see how it was safe to pay the money in
advance, and then be ousted by the ship’s doctor the first time he made
his rounds. So this hospital steward, who was called Otho, surprised me
by _summoning the ship’s doctor_, a young German with a fringe of flaxen
beard and bulging eyes, and allowing him to reassure me. It was all
right. He got his share of the money from the rental of the bunks. All
of them expressed a great fear and dread of the Italian doctor, the
naval surgeon put on each emigrant ship by the Italian government.

In brief, as the beds were clean, the situation interesting and the
hospital wards not very crowded, we accepted, and whenever the food on
deck was not to our liking we could get an abundance from the hospital.
It was rather wearisome, the last few days, though. Duck and chicken for
every meal!

In my room there were two others who were paying rent for beds. One was
a quaint old fellow from Tuckahoe, where he kept a saloon. He was on his
way home for the fourth time. He wore a knit worsted green and yellow
skull-cap day and night. It had a long yellow tassel on it, and some
nights the tassel would get in his mouth and interfere with his
slumbers—and mine. The second room had but one patient in it, one of the
contract laborers from Scranton who was dying with consumption and
prayed all day long for a sufficient lease of life to see the Bay of
Naples, when he felt sure he would begin to get well at once. In three
years he had saved and sent home $820, which made his wife and family
comparatively independent. He told me one day that even if he died as
the result of his voluntary slavery in the mines he felt sufficiently
repaid. I am glad to say that at least he reached home alive.

Late that afternoon we ran rapidly into murky weather and before long
encountered a stiff gale, for August. It lasted all night and all the
next day. I have been on ships steadier than the _Lahn_, and this gale
took her nearly on the beam. The seasickness in the steerage was nothing
short of frightful. Fortunately the people had had very little to
eat—few of them much breakfast on sailing-day and very few any supper—so
the most undesirable feature of a seasick crowd was limited. Also many
of the third-class passengers had profited by the experiences of former
voyages, and were able to take care of themselves and make less bother
for their neighbors. Nevertheless, the compartments, in which the people
were compelled to stay by reason of the deck weather, were in a state in
describing which no good purpose is served. The steerage stewards were
constantly busy with hose, sand buckets, brooms, etc.

Not only were we seeking general information, but we were hoping to get
trace of some southern Italian family about to emigrate, in order to
make them, as planned, the central feature of our analytical study of
particular experiences; so, as the days went by, I inquired of each new
person with whom I fell into conversation if he knew of such a family.
Nearly every other man was either going over to get a wife for himself
or already had a family in Italy and expected to return in October, or,
if not then, in the following May. In a short time we had twenty
families under consideration, but none of them seemed to be exactly
typical; they were all too small, too large, too rich or from provinces
that sent few emigrants.

There was a group of eight Greeks aboard who had been denied admission
to the United States and were part of twenty-two men, women and children
of mixed races who had arrived in New York on the _Lahn_ and other North
German Lloyd ships and were being returned by the company. The leader of
the group was a huge fellow with very curly hair and beard who rejoiced
in the name of Garareikophalous, and the third day I had a long chat
with him with the aid of an interpreter from among our fellow
passengers.

He said that all Greece was stirred up over the matter of emigration,
and that in five years’ time the number of Greeks coming to the United
States would have increased a thousand per cent. The military duties in
the kingdom were too onerous to be borne, and the Greeks already in the
United States were prospering to such an extent that every remittance
they made home fired the zeal of the people to follow after them. In
nearly every village the candy-makers’ shops were educating twice the
usual number of apprentices, because the first emigrants had been
candy-makers and they had established a foothold in the confectionery
business and then sent for their candy-making relatives, which had
caused a shortage in confectioners in Greece and in turn had created the
impression that to get on best in America a Greek should be a
candy-maker. Therefore every father who desired that his sons should go
to America and send him enough money home to make him a rich man among
his neighbors, apprenticed them to candy-making and after two years
shipped them to New York. Some of the venturesome ones had branched out
in the dried-fruit and olive-oil business, and he had heard they were
doing very well. The result would be that as the various natural
industries of Greece were taken up in America, and opportunities for
labor and business offered, the emigration would swell to comparatively
huge proportions.

A feature which he mentioned and on which I questioned him exhaustively
was the advertising done by the steamship companies. He had some of the
advertisements in his pockets, and some others he got from the members
of his party. These he translated to the interpreter, who gave me a
rough idea of what they were. I found they were not issued by the
steamship companies but by sub-agents in Vienna, Bremen, Hamburg,
Berlin, Naples, etc., and were of a very alluring sort. Two of them were
poems expatiating on the beauties and wealth of America, and one was a
clipping from a Greek paper supposed to be printed in New York, which
related how a poor boy from Thessaly had gone to Cincinnati and opened a
little candy store. He had broadened his business to a factory, and now
had headquarters of four factories in New York, and had property to the
extent of a million and a half drachmæ, or about $200,000, to show for
eight years’ work.

Garareikophalous was very proud of the fact that he and his party had
not been deceived by the sub-agents into going to America by the
northern route. He averred that every effort is made by the sub-agents
all through his country to get the emigrants to go overland to the
German or French ports and take ship there instead of shipping at Naples
or other Mediterranean ports.

[Illustration: Preparing to Serve a Meal on the _Lahn_ from the
Food-tanks and Bread-baskets]

I was unable to understand this action of the sub-agents until I had the
light of later investigation upon it, when I found that it is a rule of
the agents at the ports of embarkation never to allow an emigrant who
has been denied admission to the United States to return to his native
village if business is anything less than rushing from that section, for
the reason that one emigrant who has failed to enter the United States
can keep three hundred more from trying it. If the emigrant were
returned to a southern port, the chances of his reaching home would be
greatly increased. Emigrants returned to German and French ports are
often reshipped to South Africa, South America and Mexico. Furthermore,
when they are of the sort that needs coaching and schooling, in order
that they shall not make the wrong answers at Ellis Island, the journey
across the continent is used as an educational process in which they are
carefully taught to dissemble. If there are members of the family who
are physically unfit to be sent to Ellis Island, the sub-agents persuade
the family to separate at the port of embarkation, and the diseased and
deformed ones are sent across the channel into England and dumped in the
charitable institutions. Sometimes they are sent from England, perhaps
even from the port of embarkation, to Canada. The Hamburg-American line
carries a notoriously bad lot of emigrants into Halifax. This feature I
had investigated to my complete satisfaction in July.

More information that was decidedly to the point, I received from two
Jews who were returning to assemble a large party of former neighbors
and bring them to America, to sell off a quantity of property and in
general readjust matters in a town not far from Odessa, in behalf of a
coterie of relatives whom they had brought to America previously. Both
had lived in Hungary and had traveled all through the districts from
which comes the poor Jew of the South. They were going to Naples, by
rail to Brindisi, then to Alexandria and Smyrna, and would go north from
Constantinople. I will confess that it was not easy to elicit
information from them, and very indirect processes were necessary; but
here are some of the things learned.

Among Russians as well as Jews in Russia the limitations of the American
immigration laws are very well known indeed by the priests,
school-teachers, officials and others; and when a family desires to
emigrate it begins by paying a weekly stipend to some person in this
class, who puts them through a course of instruction as to how to carry
money, answer questions, conceal diseases, etc. When the family starts
it is met at all important stations by a Jewish committee and passed on.
An ignorant Jew possessed of some wealth is almost certain to lose much
of it at the hands of unscrupulous Jews who infest principal stations,
border towns, etc. There have been cases where poor families even lost
their little all to these harpies, ending by becoming charitable charges
in England or Belgium. In many cases the family is part of a large group
under the direct charge of a runner from some sub-agent’s office, but
this is usually the case when the people are very poor and obviously
diseased. Groups like this are not delivered to the steamship agents at
German and French ports, but are sent to a place called the Shelter for
Poor Jews which has been established in London, and they are kept there
many weeks if necessary, and then sent either to New York, Boston,
Halifax or Montreal. Cases of trachoma are treated in this shelter, in
great numbers, until the emigrant is ready to pass inspection. Those
cases which are regarded as hopeless are sent to Canadian towns in care
of Jewish societies and are smuggled across the border gradually.

These men had a quantity of letters and credentials signed by various
steamship representatives, and I was exceedingly sorry that I could not
know whether they were bound on a mission that was much more extensive
and nefarious than the plans which they avowed to me.

One fine morning we sighted the Azores and passed close by the shore of
St. Michaels, and the second day thereafter we arrived at Gibraltar.
Third-class passengers were not encouraged to go ashore, but I made a
little arrangement with the man at the plank; and my wife, John Tury,
the Lancaster peanut-seller, and I went ashore in the dusk of the
evening. The steamer would not leave till after midnight. As we walked
along the streets, Tury said to me:

“I suppose if we were going to be here for a day, we might take the
train over to London?”

“To London! Why, what do you mean?” I exclaimed.

“Why, I have heard England is a very small place, and it cannot be far
from here to London.”

Then I realized that he thought Gibraltar was the southern end of
England, and I was surprised to learn later how many Italians who have
voyaged by Gibraltar more than once are of the same impression. I have
heard some argue for it stoutly.

Just the day before we reached Naples, when there was great happiness
and rejoicing on every hand, I observed a well-built young Italian with
heavy black hair and moustache, a handsome fellow of twenty-five, come
up from below with his mandolin. With him was an older man with a
guitar. In a few minutes there was a little band of four musicians
gathered on the shady side of the ship at the foot of the companion-way
to the hurricane deck. They were playing an American two-step, and had a
well-pleased crowd about them. On the lapel of the mandolin-player I
observed a button of the Foresters. They had begun on the second number
of their impromptu concert, when the second officer piped from the
bridge, a deck hand went up and came down in a minute with this mandate:

“You must stop playing; the captain wants to sleep.”

Jeers and shouts of scorn and anger rose on every hand, and I observed
that the leaders in this expression were those men whom I knew to be
American citizens or Italians, Jews or Greeks of some length of
residence in the United States.

As the young mandolin-player walked away, I stopped him and spoke to him
in English, asking him if he was a Forester. He told me he was and that
he belonged to a lodge in Stonington, Conn., and, having been in America
five years, was now going home “for the women folks.”

In brief, I found in him and his family the ideal group for which we had
been looking. He was sufficiently Americanized to appreciate the object
of our investigations, and we speedily became good friends.

His name is Antonio Squadrito, and he had with him his father, Giovanni.
Five years before, he had left his native Sicilian village,
Gualtieri-Sicamino, as one of the first to depart for America from all
that country. He had done so because he had his choice between going
into the Carabineers, or rural police, and taking up a trade. He had
told his father that if he would help him borrow the money he would go
to America. This was done, though the neighbors all prophesied disaster
and misfortune “in that strange wild land.”

He landed at the Battery from the _Kaiser Friedrich_, being
“recommended” to a distant relative from a northern province who was
already in New York; and the first work he got was in the quarries of
Westerly, R. I., where he worked for three months at $1.10 per day. He
played the mandolin even then with fair skill, and made friends with an
Italian who had a barber shop in Stonington. Antonio went there to work,
and as he saved his money he sent back, little by little, enough to pay
off his debt at home, and the remainder his boss “borrowed” from him.
Some domestic relations of the boss caused him to desire to sell out,
and one day he came to Antonio and told him he must buy his barber shop
or he would not get back the borrowed money. Antonio protested that he
could not speak enough English to run the business, but the boss
insisted, and in the end Antonio found himself possessed of the shop and
a new debt of $100 which he had got as a loan from a man who had taken
an interest in him.

The shop prospered. Antonio sent over for his brother Giuseppe to come
over and help him. Giuseppe is older and had married a year before, and
his wife Camela had presented him with a pretty little girl baby whom
they had named Caterina after her grandmother Squadrito. The next year
the shop was doing so well that Carlino, the brother next younger than
Antonio, was sent for; and the next year Tommasso, a still younger
brother, and Giovanni the father were brought over. The father worked at
carpentering and coopering in Stonington, making as much as $1.80 per
day; but he could not learn the language, and when I met him his English
was limited to “All right!” “Fine day!” “Yes, sir!” and “cuss words.”

In the last year before our meeting Antonio had married the widow of a
whaling-captain of the town, who had been left property by her husband
estimated roundly at $60,000. By this time Antonio had made in his
barber shop and cigar store and by furnishing music for dances, etc.,
$8,000, and had sent home five or ten dollars each month. A nice little
acre or two of garden land had been bought east of the village, and of
this Antonio was very proud, as in his country none but the fairly
well-to-do owns land.

Now he was going home to get a party of the family, of cousins and
neighbors, and he expected to return in two or three months. That suited
the limits of our time, and the location of the family in one of the
hotbeds of emigration was most pleasing; so we were delighted when he
cordially invited us to go home with him. We explained that we wished to
make a sort of general study of the country as it related to the
immigration question, before we took up the subject in particular, and
he confided that his principal reason for wishing to have us visit him
in Gualtieri was to show the people there that all the wonderful stories
they had been hearing about him were true in the main. He carried no
proof except banking papers, and he was anxious about “what the home
folks might think.” I often think of how much of the strenuous endeavor
in all lines in this world is to “impress the home folks.” How many men
and women have been disappointed when they went out into the world and
did something that was absolutely beyond the comprehension—even belief,
perhaps—of the simple-minded “folks at home.”

The next day, late in the morning, signs began to show in the east that
we were nearing the shores of Italy, and late that afternoon the _Lahn_
forged into a berth close to the naval sea wall before the beautiful
city of Naples.

As we were leaving the ship we saw Carabineers at the gangways arresting
several men who had been in the steerage with us. I made inquiry, and
was informed that the men arrested had left Italy to avoid military
duty, and they had been kept track of. When they sailed home, the
Italian authorities in New York had notified the _questor_, or chief of
police, at Naples.

As the tender which took us ashore steamed away from the _Lahn_, we got
a fine view of the ship and its surroundings. It was encompassed on
every hand by bumboat-men selling the sweet fruits of Italy, for which
her sons and daughters had hungered and thirsted so long. Just outside
of the ring of bumboat-men were the twoscore or more boats of the
runners for emigrant lodging-houses. These men would get the eye of a
returned emigrant on board and would bargain with him for a room, then
take him off with his baggage. A police official in plain clothes who
was aboard the tender told me that among the curses of the city are the
practices in these lodging-houses, where every sort of evil element
congregates to prey on the simple-minded countryman who has been to
America for two or three years, toiled hard for the few hundred dollars
he is bringing back, and yet has not wit enough to keep the thieves of
Naples from getting all or a portion of it. However, the returned
emigrants are not to be condemned for their witlessness. I flatter
myself that I know a thing or two, and yet I found myself on the
constant _qui vive_ to keep from being “done” in Naples, and even my
great vigilance did not save me once or twice. Dishonesty is part of the
air in Naples, just as is the smell that is famous.



                               CHAPTER IV
                   CONDITIONS IN THE NEAPOLITAN ZONE


It is a painful fact, but the average American’s conception of Italian
immigration is that the majority of the Italians come from “down in the
Boot,” and that they are all bad and undesirable. It is the usual thing
to regard all southern Italians as unworthy of Americanism. One sees it
constantly in public print or finds it in private discourse. And the
phrase about the Boot is one which has been bruited around again and
again from official report to alarmist editorial, and back to classical
reference which was its origin. I have met many people who are not aware
that the Sicilians, for instance, do not come from “down in the Boot.”
These ideas all mate nicely with the one which attributes to every
Italian the possession of a stiletto up his sleeve and an ever-ready
hand to use it.

The poor southern Italians are the object of constant attack by the
American public, of bitter contempt from the more fortunate people of
the northern provinces, and of ceaseless worriment from the gentlemen
legislators of the kingdom. Italia Meridionale _is_ in a miserable
condition compared with the north, and the people _are_ ignorant, and
the percentage of illiteracy _is_ appalling; but, nevertheless, they are
strong in body, steadfast in mind, willing of spirit and at all times
thrifty; so that, speaking from an immigratory standpoint, I am
convinced, after a survey of the entire experiment, that they are a very
good sort of raw material and their immigration should be encouraged, if
the rottenness that corrupts them after they are here—as a drop of
poison can turn the blood of an entire body to virus—could be cut out
before they start.

Poverty, ignorance and hot blood have fostered among them crime,
treachery and immorality, and the larger towns have sufficed to gather
these into festering clusters, leaving the countryside comparatively
pure. The farmer-folk and the villagers are not criminal, dishonest or
vicious; but when, in the process of emigration, nine of them are thrown
with that one tenth man who is so, he leads them into ways that are not
straight and paths that are turned, and in many, many instances
organizes a band which holds a large coterie of families almost entirely
in its power. This it can do by superior intelligence, boldness, etc.,
and the fact that the Italians in America are in a strange land, are
“greenhorns,” as they say among themselves, lays them wide open to such
invidious influences. If that one man or woman out of every ten who is
vicious could be prevented from sailing, a few years would see Italian
names almost entirely effaced from the criminal news and the court and
prison records. If the system of social poisoning of the densely
populated immigrant quarters is not destroyed, it will ultimately prove
a menace to all law and order in the large cities or industrial
districts populous with immigrants.

Before we went to Sicily to study the peculiar conditions surrounding
the Squadrito family and their neighbors, we took up the general
investigation through the country south of Rome, gathering what we could
by going from town to town, asking questions, asking questions, always
asking questions. Much was to be learned from watching even the tiniest
things in the newspapers and from observing the people themselves as
they passed about the most inconsequential pursuits of their daily
existence.

To give the matter a topical consideration, it separates itself
naturally into five divisions, which are semi-geographical merely for
convenience, as it would be erroneous indeed to consider each province
according to its political boundaries: The Zone of Naples, the Zone of
Rome, the Provinces of the Heel, the Provinces of the Toe and Sicily. In
those portions of the following consideration topicalized as zones, the
distinctions are made, because the regions dealt with have all their
general social conditions very largely shaped by the subtle cumulative
influence of the life in the two great cities, Rome and Naples. It is
possible that few Italians are aware of the differences, but they are
palpable to an outsider immediately. Every village that is within touch
of either the Italian capital or the most important port and city
partakes of the markedly contradistinct life of the two. If Naples is
correctly called a City of Thieves, then is Rome equally well named a
City of Institutions, and there is the difference. Abruzzi, Molise and
Puglie (Apulia), having greater extents of plain suited to agriculture
than any of the other southern provinces and being farther from the
emigration centres on the west side of the peninsula, form a group by
themselves under the title Provinces of the Heel. Basilicata (Potenza)
and Calabria, being nearly uniformly mountainous even out to the sea
line and having the most potent influences at work to urge emigration,
are considered under Provinces of the Toe; while, as for conditions in
Sicily, they are best told in connection with our own experiences there
with the people of Gualtieri-Sicamino and other towns.

As for general comparative conditions of education, amount of emigration
and a very interesting sidelight on the Italian administrative attitude
towards emigration, I give a translation of an article which appeared
some months since in _Il Progresso Italo-Americano_, of New York, a
newspaper of importance, and one which is usually able to reflect the
Italian government’s position in anything that pertains to social and
educational subjects. The article, which is editorial, reads:


                       “EMIGRATION AND EDUCATION


“The Bureau of Education in Rome has recently received the following
telegram from Inspector Adolfo Rossi, who is at present in South Africa.

“‘According to the decree already published in the _Official Gazette_,
the landing of illiterate immigrants at Cape Town shall be prohibited.’

“South Africa now follows Australia and British Columbia, and before
long the United States will emulate their example.

“The law already approved by the House of Representatives is now before
the Senate, being favorably reported by the Senate Committee, and from
the last message of President Roosevelt (of which the readers of _Il
Progresso_ are not ignorant) it is evident it will have all the support
of the Presidential power. What will then become of our emigration, and
particularly that from the southern provinces? This has been a frequent
question, and it is now becoming acute. A comparison between the grand
total of permanent emigration from the Neapolitan provinces for the
first six months of the year, and the percentage of illiteracy shown by
the last compulsory enrollment of troops is necessary, in order to
comprehend the terrible menace hanging over those regions, and the
duties devolving upon the officials directing affairs.

[Illustration: Peasant Types]

“The following tables give the statistics referred to:

              _Emigration for Six Months_      _Illiteracy_
           Abruzzi                     28,412 49.59 per cent.
           Campania                    41,066 44.05 per cent.
           Apulia                       8,434 53.05 per cent.
           Basilicata                   7,840 52.13 per cent.
           Calabria                    21,262 55.02 per cent.

“During the first ten months of 1902 there emigrated from Naples to the
United States 145,629, of which number more than eighty-eight per cent
were over ten years of age.

“Given the application of the law presented to Congress at Washington by
the Hon. Mr. Shattuc, with amendments of the Hon. Mr. Underwood, about
70,000 persons from the Neapolitan provinces alone would have been
returned from the American ports during the period mentioned. The
following extract is taken from the report of the Senate Committee:

“‘While we are spending millions to eradicate from our country the evil
of illiteracy, we are opening our doors to illiterate men of all
nations. One may have the opinion that education is not a guaranty of
character, any more than the want of education may be of dishonesty, but
it is undoubted that education constitutes the fundamental basis of any
moral and intellectual progress.’

“The last message of the President of the United States contains the
following:

“‘The second object of an immigration law should be that of
ascertaining, by means of an accurate examination and not one simply
relative to illiteracy, whether the immigrant has the intellectual
capacity of being able to act healthfully and judiciously as an American
citizen.’

“In view of such danger, what action remains to be taken? It is illusory
to hope that the action of our diplomacy (no matter what eminent
statesmen we may have) can succeed in preventing the enactment of the
law in America, any more than it could have prevented such action in
Australia, British Columbia or Cape Colony.

“We can only endeavor to maintain for as long as possible the openings
which we at present have for our emigration, and to endeavor to acquire
new ones, as, for instance, the Transvaal mines. A strong economic
crisis continues in the Argentine Republic, and at present immigration
is necessarily suspended. In Brazil, where there is still much field for
opportunities, it would be heartless to encourage our emigrants and
afterwards see them in the ‘fazendas,’ treated with inhumanity and
oppression, without being able to render them any effectual protection.

“On the other hand it is a duty of the Italian state energetically to
provide for the education of the southern proletarian masses, which the
local administrations cannot do, deprived as they are of resources and
oppressed by debts and taxation. In the south it is the duty of the
State to conduct, at least in the minor communities, the elementary
education, causing the communities to contribute only in accordance with
their means, thereby avoiding an unnecessary aggravation of their
present condition. As stated by the Honorable Sonnino in his speech in
Maddaloni Hall, Naples, modern Italy has so far deplorably failed in the
first of its duties to civilization: that of giving primary education to
the poor masses of its most unfortunate provinces.

“It is now time to resolve for energetic action, in order to eradicate
from one-half the kingdom of Italy the stigma of being the leading
nation of Christian Europe in illiteracy. Considerations of prudence as
well as humanity advise us to take such a step.”


In a word, nearly half of the people are unable to read and write in
Italia Meridionale, because the communes are too poor to pay the
expenses of maintaining schools except in the larger towns and cities.
The attitude of the Italian government is very nicely shown also. It
looks on emigration as the only safety-valve for the districts which are
over-populated, and recent years have proved that an immense improvement
always follows in any village when the proportion of its emigration
rises above ten per cent. The reason is that the Italians in America,
South America, South Africa and Australia save enough money to send home
enormous sums to their relatives, with the result that in Basilicata,
for instance, which has been heavily drained by emigration, there are
entire communities in a flourishing condition solely on the savings of
their emigrants. By most careful estimates, made by comparison of
consular reports with Italo-American banking statements, the Italian
money post, and the statistics of the Italian Bureau of Emigration, I
have concluded that _in the year 1902 between $62,000,000 and
$70,000,000 was sent home to Italy from the United States alone. In the
year 1903 between $57,000,000 and $65,000,000 was the estimated amount_.

The decrease is to be accounted for by the great increase in the number
coming over to join those in the United States who had been sending them
money. A great difficulty that blocks accuracy in these things is the
concealment of funds by returning emigrants and by recipients of money
in Italy. I found a family in Caivano, near Naples, for instance, who
received through a cousin who returned to Italy on the _Lahn_, at the
same time with us, $3,500, jointly sent by a father and three sons
working in the mills in Birmingham, Ala. Only by chance did I learn of
it, and then they besought me to keep their secret, fearing that “the
King would get it.” When the Italian pays his two or three per cent to
the government he says, “it has gone to the King.” H. J. W. Dam’s “The
Tax on Moustaches” very nicely touches up this matter of national taxes
in Italy. I know personally of a large number of instances of returning
emigrants carrying large sums of money with them, and I have the
statements of scores of money-changers to whom American dollars are
sold; so that I feel justified in saying that a very large portion of
the emigrant savings goes home clandestinely and is never caught in the
government net, yet blessed is the lot of the tax-collector in a village
which has twenty or more per cent of its native-born in America. His lot
is an easy one compared with the corresponding official in a village of
small emigration.

Particularly as to conditions in the zone of Neapolitan influence,
emigration is the most important feature of life there to-day, for the
reason that the emigration from Campania has been and is enormous, and
that, should Naples suddenly cease to be the greatest of all ports of
embarkation, a financial paralysis would strike the city and province.

Over large districts, the vital arteries of which are the river valleys
of the Volturno and Garigliano and the country back from the Gulf of
Naples and the Bay of Salerno, the influence of Naples obtains, and its
dominant tone, as has been said, is dishonesty. Naturally, since Naples
is the metropolis of the region, the Neapolitan point of view is the one
emulated, and though I have seen many types of lying, lazy, morally
oblique peoples, I have never dwelt among any where a constant exercise
of one’s vigilance on the defensive was so absolutely necessary.

A rather good story which illustrates the propensities of the
Neapolitans was told me by an Englishman whom I met in Caserta.
According to his relation, a German Jew, a Scotchman and a Connecticut
Yankee formed a company for the exportation of wine from Naples and went
there to set up business. After being in the city several days, and
having a few business transactions with the Neapolitans, the Yankee said
to his partners:

“Well, boys, we had better settle down and live here for about ten years
until we learn a few tricks and then start business, or we had better
give these chaps all we have at once and save them the trouble of taking
it away from us.”

From Frosinone south to the valley of the Sele and back as far as Ariano
we found even the simple-minded peasants to have that touch of
Neapolitanism, which is, to say the least, an undesirable
characteristic. In the city itself it is so serious that not many years
since the organized ruffians of the Cammora, recruited from all stations
of society, were a power of terror, and since then men more polite, but
just as criminal, bankrupted the city and brought general conditions to
such a pass that the national government was forced to step in and take
control till municipal and provincial affairs could be put on an honest
and paying basis. The people are more noisy, more gross in their habits,
and more irresponsible in their conduct than any class in any part of
Italy. Constant change of government in the past, lack of things of an
institutional nature and the focusing of all the bad in the south of
Italy may have had the degenerating effect; but, whatever the cause, the
effect exists, and the social virus seems to have poisoned many a man I
know who, but for his brief stays in Naples, would be a very decent
citizen, either in his native town, in other provinces, or in his new
home in America. The bad Italians in the United States are in clusters,
and the heads of the majority of these groups are men trained in theft,
trickery and crime in the excellent schools of Naples and Palermo.

In the city there are few factories, though the government is bringing
every influence to bear to promote industries in Naples, and under the
new municipal plan a large tract of the side of the city that lies
towards Vesuvius is arranged for factory sites; but there are three
important things lacking: raw material, skilled labor and confident
capital. Even the excellent street-car system is controlled by Belgians.
The north of Italy continues to be the industrial section. The business
that emigration engenders is first in importance. Vesuvius, Pompeii, the
Bay and the climate form the next important asset, and the exportation
of agricultural products and wholesale business of all sorts the third.
Two hundred thousand people in the city live on so little a year that
the statement of the amount would sound ridiculous.

[Illustration: Mangling Hemp]

We traversed the country of the arbitrarily indicated zone in the time
of the full harvest, when the bits of plain on which rows of trees,
themselves loaded with fruit, were seen to be the supports of miles of
running vines bearing great bunches of grapes, heavily covered with
dust. In every village were to be seen the hemp workers, where the long
stripped stalks were piled up in bound bundles waiting to be laid in the
mangling machines, operated as a rule by women and hand-mangled. On
carefully brushed stone squares men, women and children were threshing
beans and peas. Before every door were flat shallow troughs in which
figs or fruit of some sort were drying. On the house-tops the tomatoes
were being converted into a dark red mash, which is called _pomidoro_
and is used to make the delicious sauces with which macaroni is dressed.
Long-horned oxen or patient donkeys, with now and then an undersized
horse, drew along the dusty highways carts loaded with casks made ready
for wine, bundles of hemp stalks or shocks of wheat. In every village
were to be seen the several offices of the steamship companies’
sub-agents. The countryside simply teemed with life. There was never a
spot where one might stand and, though there was no one in sight, not
hear voices all about. In nearly every group of people was to be seen
one or more who bore the signs of recent return from America or
indications of near departure. Over everything lay the white dust from
the dry plains and slopes, and the sun beat down with distracting
fervor.

It did not seem to me that in the country districts of the Neapolitan
zone the Church exercised quite the influence for good or evil in the
material affairs of the people that it does elsewhere in Italia
Meridionale, and it was noticeable that the people had stronger
commercial instincts, being more inclined to buy and sell if given the
opportunity. That finds an expression in America in this way. So many of
the lace-workers, barrow-men, coal, wood and ice men are Neapolitans, or
are from the villages in the Neapolitan zone. But, in the social
organization of the countryside everything led to the impression that,
as each child grew up, his or her elders forced a place in the already
existing throng for him or her, a place wherein a bit to eat and a scrap
to wear might be won, and above that place the child could scarcely hope
to rise, inasmuch as it was difficult to maintain the foothold, let
alone improve it. Those who were unfit for the struggle became beggars
and wanderers, not paupers in the Italian sense, for the Italian pauper
is a person not only penniless, homeless and friendless, but physically
incapable of taking any care of himself whatever. The inmates of the
Reclusario of Naples are the most shocking lot of human wrecks I have
ever beheld aggregated.

If a family or group of families is suddenly deprived of the source from
which it has been eking a slender livelihood, the desperation to which
it is driven is well instanced by the terrible tragedy at
Torre-Annunziata. Immediately on hearing of the first outbreak there, I
took up the investigation, and in brief this is the story of the
occurrence.

It was merely one of those risings of the common people which
occur every now and then, and in which they uniformly get the
worst of it. It seems that the estate owned by the Ferroni
Corporation had for fifteen years been allowing the farmers about
Sarno, Castellamare-Torre-Annunziata, to have cheaply certain
waste materials for fertilizing their farms. These were suddenly
cut off, and the tenants demanded the immediate delivery of the
manure for their common use, but to their demand no attention was
paid.

This led to a discontent, which it is claimed was fostered by the local
Chamber of Labor, and they were exhorted by a Socialist by the name of
Vincenzo Presenzano with the result that on the 31st of August over two
hundred of them, armed with sticks, forks, spades and stones, gathered
on the property of one Gennaro Salto and stopped the carts coming from
the estate with the material, and, the high iron bridge over the River
Sarno being close at hand, they dumped the entire outfit into the deeps.

Five municipal guards and two city officials intervened in an endeavor
to maintain order; but by this time the crowd had grown to over five
hundred, and, after securing information for making arrests, they
retired.

In a little while there arrived a small force of Carabineers, city and
municipal guards, and they were so outnumbered by the rioters that the
latter attacked them vigorously. The commandant of the municipal guard
and one Carabineer fell wounded.

Then the order to fire into the mob was given. It was the claim of the
military that the first shots were fired into the air, but men who were
in the mob averred that they opened fire even before the commandant was
wounded.

Men, women and children withered away before the blazing rifles like so
much grass, and, when the mob had dispersed, three lay dead on the
grass, two more of the wounded died in a short time, and four were known
to be in a very serious condition, while numbers of others were hurt.
The exact number did not even come out at the investigation which was
ordered by the government.

When I visited the commune it seemed as if a plague had fallen. More
soldiers were being hurried to the district and posted in spots to
command the situation, arrests were being made, even in houses where the
dead lay; but a terrible silence hung over both military and populace. I
talked with one of the Carabineers, and he told me he could never
forgive himself for helping to shoot down his own people, and that he
longed for the day when he could leave the service. It was the second
disturbance in which he had been, and in both cases the sufferers were
the simple-minded peasantry who, finding themselves deprived of what
they regarded as their just rights, had been incited to violence by
Socialists.

The _disgrazia_ made a profound impression throughout the kingdom, and
more than one resident foreigner in speaking of the subject remarked:
“Some day there is going to be more than that. The people who really
work and produce something in this country are getting about tired of
paying enormous rents to support the aristocrats, and heavy tithes and
taxes to maintain the Church, the army, and a government of splendor. We
expect trouble, and that before long.”

The Socialists are growing, and a paper called _Avanti_, published in
Rome, is the chief organ of the malcontents. During our stay in Italy it
made a number of successful _exposés_ of ministerial and official
derelictions and won suits brought against it in retaliation, while
numerous illustrated weeklies indulged in caricatures and cartoons of
the Pope, cardinals and ministers, that seemed to meet with great
popular favor; but my observation was that socialism as a principle was
not generally understood by the masses, and the only reason that the
socialistic groups have much following was because they are against
things as they are rather than for socialism as a solution of the
problem of what they should be. Socialism as a political belief is not
being readily transplanted to this country by any class of the emigrants
except the educated emigrants from the north and in and about Rome.



                               CHAPTER V
                           IN THE ROMAN ZONE


From the Sabine Mountains to the sea, south to Frosinone and north to
Siena is that section of the peninsula which, it seems to me, is so
greatly affected by life and conditions in Rome as to be set off
properly as the Roman zone. It includes the greater portion of the
provinces of Romagna Lazio, or Latium and Umbria, and the lower portion
of Tuscany.

The greatest positive influence in Italy to-day is the Church; the
greatest potentiality, the army and the military party; the greatest
question, the condition of the peasantry of Italia Meridionale; the
greatest danger to the nation as a nation, the bitterness between the
people of the great and prosperous provinces of the north and the less
favored ones of the south.

As the centre of the world-wide Catholic Church, of the political and
military interests of the kingdom, of art, education and literature,
modern Rome is a city of institutions, and her citizens are parasites in
precisely the same way that a majority of the population of Washington
is parasitical. I have not at hand the figures to show which city has
the greater proportion of industries, but I think there is little
difference.

All through the region are quarries from which are taken the material
consumed in the thousands of studios that produce the enormous volume of
copies of noted pieces of statuary and the slenderer stream of new
creations which pours out of Rome and disperses to other parts of the
Continent, Great Britain and the United States. The amount of art copies
bought in Rome by American tourists each season is very large, much
larger than is generally known, and forms the most important source of
revenue to the people of the Roman zone, aside from the dispersion of
government funds, church funds and the compensation for the maintenance
of the hosts of tourists and art, musical and theological students. Next
in industrial importance to the stone-workers come the operations that
pertain to silk and to the making of imitation jewelry, of which latter
pursuit Rome is certainly the incomparable centre. Hundreds of shops in
Italy display Roman imitations that are nowhere excelled, and thousands
of workmen in imitation flowers, jewels, etc., are coming into the
United States, establishing themselves in the New World in their old
vocations and finding things very prosperous indeed. In the vicinity of
the tenement house in which we lived on Houston Street, down West
Broadway and elsewhere in New York, are scores of establishments engaged
in this very business, and all the workmen are Italians, from the zone
of Rome for the most part. All over the United States the industry of
designing, cutting and establishing marble and granite pieces of all
sorts for cemeteries is rapidly passing into the hands of Italians, and
in questioning many of them, in various parts of the country, as to
their native provinces, they have replied uniformly, the Roman Campania
or Tuscany.

The silk-weavers and hat-makers have centred in New Jersey, and in
Newark vie with the Jews, while in Paterson they have the lists more
nearly to themselves. In Italy the class of workmen so engaged forms a
ready field for the operations of socialistic and anarchistic agitators;
and though the fruit of their labors is rendered comparatively harmless
in Italy owing to the vigilance of the police and secret service, in the
United States, where there is freedom of speech, the fuller harvest is
reaped and the greatest danger exists.

Back of these conditions lies the contempt which these people have come
to hold, in the Roman zone, for both Church and State, and the reason is
that to them both St. Peter’s and the Quirinal and all they represent
are things far more ordinary and less impressive than to the populace of
the remoter provinces. Political and religious skepticism is growing to
be as dangerously common among the poor people in and about Rome as it
was in France early last century. Many social conditions are accurately
reproduced, and there are wise patriots who dread a repetition in Italy
of what followed the 14th of July, 1789, in France.

These things really concern the people of the great northern provinces
but little. They are busy and prosperous, educated and advanced, and,
though within the boundaries of the same nation, they are very
distinctly apart.

I can easily understand the attitude of the common people in the Roman
zone toward the aristocracy. The representatives of this class were
returning in full force to Rome only about the time we left it, but we
had abundant opportunity in both Naples and Rome for getting something
near the proper measure of these idling, pleasure-seeking,
self-sufficient landholders. Having their position by right of birth,
and given every advantage of the European civilization as a result of
rent-rolls from huge inherited estates, we found them to be,
nevertheless, insolent, shallow, degenerate physically, vicious and so
thoroughly unfit as a class for the responsibilities of the rich and
high-placed that, if I had the choice between admitting to the United
States a wealthy educated Roman nobleman and a poor Calabrese contract
laborer unable to read or write, I should choose the laborer every time.

Though the numbers of the middle class are lamentably small even in
Rome, there is a greater and more deplorable paucity farther south. In
the agricultural districts a man is either a laboring tenant or a
landholder, except for those few who are village artisans, tradesmen, or
are in the liberal professions. It requires well-divided ownership of
land or diversified industries, as in the United States, to create that
sturdy enlightened and independent middle class which is the strength of
any nation. The army of returned emigrants are the nearest approach to a
middle class to be found in many of the southern communes.

A man should certainly be able, under nearly all circumstances, to find
a better use for his pen than in uttering derogatory statements
concerning any other man or class of men engaged in the service of God,
no matter what their beliefs or his own convictions may be; but the
relation of the Italian priests to the millions of emigrants that have
come or will come to the United States is of such importance that it
would be cowardly not to give an honest expression concerning them. In a
general sort of way the poor provinces are referred to, just as is
Spain, as “priest-ridden”; but to the average American that is a term of
indefiniteness.

[Illustration: Morning in the Village and Vineyards]

The thought of a Catholic cleric always brings to my mind the memory of
the Rt. Rev. M. F. Howley, F. R. S. C., the noble and self-sacrificing
Bishop of Newfoundland; of Father Tommaso laboring among the poor
Italian miners of the Pennsylvania anthracite regions; of priests in
frontier missions of the great Canadian Northwest; of priests in the
slums of New York, Chicago, Cincinnati, and other cities; of men whom I
know, admire, and revere. So, judging the Italian clergy by them and by
them alone, I do not believe prejudice of any sort could be charged
against what is hereafter said.

Nor is it the Italian clergy as a whole or a major portion that is open
to criticism, except as it contributes to the continuance of the
oppressive, vitiating system whose acute wrongs are wrought by the
minority in the cloth.

Rome, as the centre of the tremendous fabric of the Church, witnesses
not only the focussing of the beneficent operations of the Church at
large, but of the condemnable workings of the provincial clerics as
well. There the true root of the trouble is most nearly laid bare, and
it seems strange indeed that something so unworthy should exist under
the very walls of the Vatican.

This basic condition is the propensity of indolent young men, sons of
impoverished families of quality, sickly youths unfit for more strenuous
pursuits, and designing and ambitious students, to turn to the
priesthood as affording them the prospect of a lifelong “soft snap.”
They do this, and are supported in it by their families, without the
slightest regard, as a rule, to any truly religious considerations
whatever. Italy is greatly overcrowded. Opportunities to rise in life
are very few indeed. The man is fortunate who can hold what his father
attained. England has suffered and is suffering from the incompetence of
those younger sons of good families who have turned to the church, army,
and similar professions. In Italy the diversity of pursuits is still
smaller than in England, and the candidates far greater in number, while
the examples of Italian priests who have risen to bishoprics,
archbishoprics, the cardinal’s hat, and even the pontifical chair are so
constantly before them, that men who are really fitted by nature and
fibre for the priesthood are crowded out to make way for those who are
unfit and never become fit. Rome, more than all other cities, sees them
in the early stages of their evil progress, and they take on cant,
hypocrisy, and prejudice there which, mingled with unscrupulousness, and
often with vicious propensities, make them a cloaked harass indeed to
the poor people of the parishes in which they are later established.

In the villages of the provinces where the people are poorly educated,
the priests have nearly an absolute control of local affairs. I do not
mean in any way that pertains to the business of the commune or as to
its officials, or the proceedings of law, but the deeper current of
life. A newly established school will thrive or fail just as the village
priests favor it or inveigh against it. The holidays are the feast days
of the patron saints, and it depends upon the priests whether these days
are mere occasions for bearing a painted and carved figure of a saint
through the streets to be loaded with gifts of money and valuables by
the populace, or whether they shall be made occasions of relaxation and
communal development to the people. A very great deal of letter-writing
is done by the priests for illiterate parishioners, so that much of the
correspondence between emigrants in America and relatives at home passes
through the priests’ hands. Not infrequently priests are money-lenders
and take their usury just as might the veriest Shylock, only that their
loan is a “charitable advance to an unfortunate parishioner.” An
interesting incident of this sort of thing happened at Velletri. An old
priest of one of the churches of the town had two brothers for
parishioners who desired to emigrate to America. One was named Giuseppe
and the other Giacomo. They had barely money enough for one passage,
though Giuseppe had a tiny bit of property. Both had borrowed money of
the old priest before and paid it back with a high rate of interest.
They plotted to get even with him. Giuseppe turned the care of his bit
of property over to Giacomo and sailed for America. In a few months
Giacomo went to the priest and offered as security for a loan of 300
lire the property which did not belong to him. The old priest took a
note of temporary conveyance, installed one of his dependents in the
property, gave Giacomo the 300 lire at twenty per cent per annum, and
Giacomo went to Naples and sailed for New York. At the end of two years
the old priest was beginning to consider the property already his, when
Giuseppe came home on a visit, proved that his brother had no right to
offer the property as security, and forced the priest to pay rent for it
for two years. Giacomo was of course safe from harm in America. Giuseppe
sold the property and returned, and is now in partnership with his
brother in a little business on Vine Street, Cincinnati.

In an effort to maintain in the eyes of their parishioners their own
outward show of virtue, priests whose lives have vicious tendencies
often commit crimes that are worse than murder. The attitude of the
Church toward an adulteress is a matter of common knowledge. When it is
said that the judging of the women of their parish is left in the hands
of the priests, and that in small communities a woman disgraced by such
judgment has no opportunity of hiding it from her neighbors, the
terrible power of the _padre_ can be seen. There is scarcely a community
which has not its pathetic story; some have many, and I have heard more
than one told in brief whispers as the poor woman who was the object of
it passed by. Yet, though convinced of her innocence, her neighbors do
not dare take up her cause, for fear of bringing on their own heads what
has fallen on her.

A son of a well-to-do oil and wine merchant in a certain village was a
patron of the priest in charge at the principal church of the town. He
was in love with the daughter of the man who sold the salt and tobacco
for the government. She refused his attentions, and, though there had
never been a whisper of blame against her, one Sunday she found that the
priest had directed against her the power of the Church. She bravely
faced the conditions, stepped quietly into her new status in village
life, and since then has been living such a life of self-sacrifice and
nobility that her very deeds have daily given the lie to the charge
against her. Since then the son of the oil merchant has ruined his
father and fled to Australia, and the priest died a miserable death in a
_torrente_ into which he stumbled while drunk; but to her is for ever
denied everything most dear to a woman.

Not so with many other women who come under the ban: though equally
innocent, though victims of spite, of distorted circumstances, they fail
to support the blow and _do_ become abandoned. The natural current is
toward the cities, where they may hide from all who ever knew them in
the village.

It must not be forgotten that this system has been going on in a greater
or less degree for centuries, and it has forced the natural attitude of
the fathers, husbands, and brothers of the women into one of the utmost
watchfulness and jealousy. I have often heard philanthropically inclined
Americans who went into the Italian quarters seeking to do good,
complain that the men were exceedingly averse to allowing their wives or
daughters to meet strangers, or to have any of the usual liberties of
American women. This jealousy is traditional, and is the result of the
system outlined above.

Another point on which this system may have some bearing is the devotion
of the Italian women to the Church compared with the indifference of the
men. In most civilized countries the women are more inclined to be
religious than the men, but in Italy this is accentuated, and the
separation is growing, as the skepticism to which I have referred
spreads.

All over southern Italy one hears a bitter reference to the _decime_,
the one-tenth of a man’s money which is claimed by the Church each year;
and though this often works out as not a literal allotment of one-tenth,
there are many parishes, where the principal priests are keen business
men, that more than one-tenth is extracted, and the tithes take form in
labor, vegetables, wine, fruit, fees, etc., but are nevertheless
valuable.

It is not a matter of economics and does not pertain to this
consideration, if the peasantry of southern Italy are such good
Christians as to give to the use of God one-tenth of their all; but it
certainly comes within the scope of this study when that enormous fund
goes to support that portion of the priesthood which is unworthy and is
nothing but an army of hypocritical parasites.

Before leaving the subject of conditions in and about Rome, the
_vagabondi_ should be mentioned. As I have said, the government
considers no man a pauper so long as he is able to beg, and the tourist
centres have gradually drawn a great collection of professional beggars,
who are really artistic in their methods of appeal. They are not
satisfied, as is the beggar of Naples, with a crust of bread, a sip of
wine, and a stone treasuring sun-warmth on which to stretch at night,
but go in for better things. At all the points of interest in the way of
ruins and the like, which lie in the Roman zone, their representatives
will be found. The liberality and apparent great wealth of the American
tourists have inspired many of these to save enough to emigrate to
America, but they have found begging a very poor occupation here, and in
several instances of which I have heard have gone to work and are
prospering.

In many districts where there are clay banks, sand banks, and other
spots where earth materials have been extracted for building or plastic
art work, the extraction has been done as if cutting out arched caves,
and in these and in the arches of ruins, with boarded-up or plastered-up
fronts, thousands of poor families live, making their living by digging
in the pits, acting as guides about the ruins, begging, or working on
the land as hired laborers.



                               CHAPTER VI
                    IN THE HEEL AND TOE OF THE BOOT


It is a very nearly safe prophecy to say that the heel of the Italian
Boot, or rather southern Molise and Apulia, shall yet pour forth the
greatest flood of southern Italian emigrants bound for America which has
yet been witnessed in the varying exodus from southern Europe. There
have been times when it seemed as if these provinces were about to rise
and distance Campania and Sicily, whose flow has generally been the
largest; but the great mass of the peasantry of the Apulian plain has
not yet started toward America, and will not until the status of the
Italian emigrant in America becomes similar to that of the Irish in
1878–79, a quantity respected and duly reckoned with, or until the
steamship companies make Bari, Brindisi, or Taranto ports of direct
departure for the United States.

As remarked previously, the fluctuations of the volume of emigration, as
viewed in retrospect and from this side of the water, are hardly
understood, though a social crisis in Russia always produces an
outpouring of the Jews, good crops in the Northwest an increase in
Scandinavians, and a period of strikes in the United States an augmented
Polish immigration. The figures for the past twelve years, taken from
June till June, compared with the relative wage rate, are interesting:

       _Year_ _Immigrants Arrived_ _Average Daily Wage in U. S._

         1891              489,407                      $1.00.
         1892              579,663                       1.00.30
         1893              439,730                        .99.32
         1894              285,631                        .98.06
         1895              258,536                        .97.88
         1896              343,267                        .97.93
         1897              230,832                        .98.96
         1898              229,299                        .98.79
         1899              311,715                       1.01.54
         1900              448,572                       1.03.43
         1901              487,918                       1.05.62
         1902              648,743                       1.04.93
         1903              857,046                       1.03.89

It will appear that there are other and less understood influences at
work, to cause the swelling or diminishing of the flood of immigrants,
than the wage rate in the country. In a previous chapter I have noted
the bearing of the prospect of more stringent immigrant legislation on
the flood of 1903, and in the section of the country now under
discussion we found abundant evidences of the effects of the news spread
far and wide that people who did not get into the United States soon
would find it more difficult than ever to get in.

Many, many families on the Apulian plain, who had been doing very well
so far, were preparing to depart for the United States just as soon as
the harvest season was over. They had been intending to go to the United
States for some years, but had put it off, fearing to disturb a
condition that was well enough, but nevertheless being fully decided,
sooner or later, to go to the United States. The prospect of a law
excluding illiterates precipitated them. Many of these same families are
already in this country, having left their homes since we visited them.

[Illustration: Threshing Beans]

There is something that is insistently Greek about the people of the
Heel, and they more nearly approach the Oriental than any others of the
Italian provincials. I do not think they have quite the passionate
natures of the Sicilians or the ruggedness of the mountain Calabrese,
nor are they as energetic as their fleas, which are certainly the
liveliest I have ever encountered.

To the casual observer they seem to be lazy, and their habitations
present a certain neglected appearance that is strongly contrasted with
those houses in each town which have been rehabilitated with money sent
home from America. But the people are not lazy. They are merely bound by
traditional methods of doing things, and by an unconquerable
sub-malarial condition. In many spots one will see large plantations of
_Eucalyptus globulus_ planted to counteract malaria.

There is an odd theory, of interest only because of its oddity, that the
famous Apulian fevers are the results of the dissolution of the numbers
of men fallen in battles which have taken place on Apulian soil. A
little computation and historical reference shows millions of men to
have fallen in the Heel, and when the armies of the Crusaders camped
about Brindisi they were nearly wiped out by death from sickness. Ever
since that time fevers have prevailed, and there are some spots that are
certain death to any foreigner should he sleep there over night.

Large quantities of cotton are grown in this region, and when one is
travelling south it will be noticed that shortly after the groves of
hazelnuts, beeches, and chestnuts cease, the first plantations of cotton
will begin to appear. The plain of Cannæ roughly marks the limit of the
cotton country. Around the Gulf of Taranto there will be seen large
fields of cotton and saffron, and though the country is very fertile and
densely populated, the agricultural system is very bad, and the ground
inefficiently cultivated merely because it is a centuries-old custom to
let the ground lie fallow for two years after each crop.

Olive orchards flourish, and nearly every considerable town is a centre
of salad-oil manufacture. Oranges are grown in abundance, but cannot
compete with the Sicilian for export. The Apulian wine is very fine,
being much softer than the Sicilian, yet not as popular as the wines of
Capri and the Vesuvius region.

About Cotrone the finest licorice in the world is produced, and in many
spots there will be seen clusters of date palms, though the fruit does
not mature as fully as it should.

Much of the wood required for artificial purposes in southern Italy
comes from western Apulia, Potenza and Calabria. Fine oaks, beeches,
chestnuts, etc., grown on the mountains, and the Sila chain, whose
highest peak is snow-covered, are well clad with pines which afford what
the Italian carpenter calls _legno bianco_ (white wood).

Aside from agriculture, some of the few industries are wood-cutting,
taxed unbearably by the government, sulphur-mining at Eboli, salt-mining
about Lungro, honey-producing about Taranto, fish-catching and exporting
from the same town, velvet and silk producing in and about Catanzaro,
and sheep and goat herding in the Sila chain. The agricultural products
are the mainstay of the people, who are so densely packed in some
communities that if it were not for the _Cactus opuntia_, which is grown
in hedges in place of fences, there would be scarcely enough to eat.

The town of Taranto, which is built on a rock cut off from the land by a
239–feet-wide canal, which will allow the passage of any battle-ship in
the Italian navy, is possibly the most densely inhabited spot on the
earth. Sixty thousand people live there in a space so small that New
York’s most thickly populated tenement districts do not compare with it.
An odd thing is noticeable in this town, especially among the fishermen
of the Mare Piccolo. The Italian is generously tinctured with Greek, and
among the totally illiterate the jargon is absolutely unintelligible to
an outsider.

Around the Heel nearly all the settlements are well back from the coast,
and strange to say the reason is, not that it is healthier or more
convenient, but that in the Middle Ages they were established there
because it was not safe to live alongshore. Since then no one has
thought of changing; in fact the entire region, except as it has been
stirred by the letters of emigrants and the doctrines of Socialists and
Anarchists, seems to live by the precept, “What is, is best.”

Something of the deep establishment of customs and of the religious
state of the country can be gathered from the following. In Bari there
is the Church of San Nicola, than whom there is no more revered saint in
all Italia Meridionale, wherefore note the number of Nicolas. In the
crypt his remains are supposed to be encased in a tomb from which exudes
on and about the 8th of May an oily substance that is miraculous.
Pilgrims come for the feast of the 8th of May by thousands and
thousands, and nearly all of them are in the costume of the remoter
villages. On the promontory at Cotrone stands a pillar which marks the
site of the temple of Hera, once the goddess of all the peoples about
the Gulf of Taranto, but now it has for a neighbor the Church of the
Madonna del Capo, and each Saturday young girls from the region about go
in procession to the church in their bare feet, all clad in white.

The people in many of the towns are primitive, especially in the
Basilicatan Mountains, where strangers are often as unwelcome as they
are to-day among the mountaineers of East Tennessee. Some few families
control nearly all the tillable land, and exact from the poor peasants
one-half of all they produce on it for rent. To the American farmer who
has been long accustomed to raising a crop on shares, that does not
sound very bad, but the _latifondo_, as this system is called, is one of
the curses of Italia Meridionale to-day, and in that portion of this
narrative which deals with our studies in Sicily, where the same
condition prevails as in Apulia, Basilicata, and Calabria, I shall give
more definite expression on the system. One of the very powerful
families in this region is the Baracco family, and they literally hold
in their hands the fate of a vast region.

Not only is the country very primitive in spots, but in some it is
exceedingly wild. About Mount Vulture, and especially in the great
half-destroyed lateral crater, the forests are so dense as to be almost
impenetrable, and wolves and wild boars are numerous.

Leaving entirely the consideration of the regions of the Heel, and
speaking only of Basilicata and Calabria, which have been pouring
emigrants into the United States, there should be mentioned the great
enemy of the peasant, which has driven more men to America than any
other thing, the terrible _torrente_.

It is merely a mountain stream, totally dry in the summer time, as what
little water might course down it is carried along in clay-lined
irrigating ditches, and distributed along the face of the hills
sometimes hundreds of feet above the level of the river bed, so cleverly
are some of the canals constructed. But, in the rainy season, when
enormous quantities of water are precipitated every day on the mountain
sides, the _torrente_ becomes a devilish agent of destruction, and its
waters devastate whole communes in a few hours.

These districts have struggled to wall in with masonry and concrete the
whole course of the stream, and to clear the bed of all obstructions
which would prevent the current having a straight, easy plunge to the
sea, but the water is perverse, and it is not unusual for the
best-curbed _torrentes_ to rip out their walls and ruin in a night the
labor of twenty years. Taxes and volunteer labor to repair communal
works, and expenditures and labors to patch up private estates, have so
impoverished the people that in many places they have been forced to
abandon, not only any attempt to curb the _torrente_, but to maintain
any department of the communal government that costs as much as a penny.
The general taxes went unpaid, and when the government forced sales of
houses and gardens, the people simply abandoned their places and became
wanderers or emigrated to America. At the present time nearly all of the
villages are in a condition that is much improved. Money sent home from
America is doing it. But the _torrentes_ are just as bad as ever, and so
long as they keep the people impoverished there will be no money to pay
for the maintenance of schools.

Sicily has a slight advantage in the formation of the country, but there
the _torrente_ is still the object of constant vigilance and does much
damage. People of intelligence are fully aroused to conditions in Italia
Meridionale, and a very excellent expression of the provincial attitude
was given in an article by Signor Enzo Saffiotti, which appeared in the
_Gazetta di Messina della Calabrie_ on the 15th of September, 1903. It
is given below:


              THE SOUTHERN QUESTION CONFRONTS THE COUNTRY.

  Congressional resolutions and government promises. The burden on the
    Southern press. Great discontent among the people. Résumé of the
    past thirty years of conditions. Riots in 1893. Agrarian and
    mining crises. The Church’s tenths, the great landed estates
    renting system and the confiscated demesnial properties. Heavy
    usuries and peasants’ land contracts. Economic-social revival.
    Appeal to Southern deputies. Restoration’s era.


We must not grow weary of repeating it!

One of the most urgent and yet most difficult problems which the
government and parliament have been called upon and are obliged and
bound promptly to solve in the present course of our national life is
the question of the condition of southern Italy. In order that such a
mighty and intricate matter may be properly adjusted, verily must it be
known to its every limit and studied through its every cause.

It is the task of the press, and particularly of the Southern press, to
associate its endeavors with noble and unselfish intention, to direct
with exactitude the current of public sentiment in the country, so that
it shall force the government to efficacious measures and precautions.
These may be obtained through some financial sacrifice and reduction of
useless expenditures in the state budgets.

The state cannot entrench itself behind financial difficulties when a
question that is not regional arises, for there are those to devise ways
out of the difficulty.

The deficit of many millions could in no manner continue to enfeeble the
state budget if a preference were given to the productive works, and the
national economic conditions would certainly be revived.

In parliamentary sessions, debates on the Southern question have at all
times been closed with vague votes and presidential assurances, the
latter filled with so many pretty promises for the improvement of these
our generous and forgotten regions.

They are promises which will doubtless continue to remain unfulfilled,
just as the preceding mass of assurances delivered by administrations,
leaders, and ministers. Meantime the South is waiting and will continue
to wait for those prompt reforms and vigorous measures which would
assist greatly in raising the economic status, and for the future
disclose a horizon bright and clear. It is anxious to be lifted from
that condition of humbled inferiority into which the guilty carelessness
of its rulers have thrust it.

Just a little has been done, comparatively nothing, directly to the
advantage of our population, harassed as it has been by the different
forms of commercial and industrial crises and vexed with all kinds of
local and fiscal taxes, yet they ever know how to keep high and
unchanging the Unitarian sentiment of the nation.

The cause of recurrent convulsions of agitation among the working class
and the slender middle class is not entirely to be attributed to the
propagation of socialistic doctrines, as the government is so ready to
explain it. It is all a leaven of discontent working within the
population, a realization of the isolation in which they are left, of
the deprivation of the rightful help and support from the government
which with provident laws and measures should defend their interests,
and further encourage and protect their industrial undertakings.

The various ministers, during the last thirty years of Italian political
life, have done nothing that was remarkable for these Southern regions,
whose economic conditions, though troublesome in the beginning, have
gradually grown worse.

As a matter of fact, the recurrence of those social phenomena have given
people at a distance who were inclined to turn their observation and
consideration on our affairs, a different impression from that which
would be gathered if the inward causes were otherwise studied, and this
attests in a very considerable way the moral sentiment of our people,
who, though of great sensitiveness and resentful of wrong, quietly
sustain the additional adversity of being misunderstood, even when
instinctively rebellious to all forms of oppressive authority.

On the day after the conflict in 1893, when the administration of that
day set on foot measures to favor the Southern provinces, which should
eventually alleviate the severe hardships of our condition, the
universal discontent began to disappear rapidly.

The resumption of quiet was not the result of the presence of bayonets
and the pronouncing of exemplary sentences from temporary tribunals, for
our people fear neither, but came about through the administration’s
pledging itself to help the population and hurriedly presenting to
parliament new and old schemes for relief. Owing to political changes,
these remained merely in their former status, that of schemes. Our
people, mindful of the past, realize in the new promises of the
government nothing but a quantity of pious lies, destined to deceive or
satisfy, if for no other reason, with their beautiful sound and
appearance. So pretences and claims on behalf of these promises are
merely like bad drafts of short date, and even had the government
fulfilled them it would not have been generosity, but apportioned
justice.

The hardships of southern Italy—those of Sicily are common with those of
the other regions—are of an economical nature, and arise from complex
causes, in which are competing factors, but antique and recent,
permanent and transitory, and thus inducing excessive taxes divided
unjustly, agrarian and mining crises, lack of needed public works, not
of merely electoral nature, but of a most necessary sort, the
insufficience of roads to connect districts, and the disproportionate
rates of the railroads for freight and transportation.

The first step toward a gradual reduction of these oppressive tariffs,
after so many years in which there has been so much complaint, has at
least been achieved in a very cautious way by the first ordinance of
Minister Palenzo, which went into effect with good results at the
beginning of the present month. It is to be hoped that our legislators
will uphold it with additional and greater reductions.

There still remain unsolved some other notable questions, among which
are the annual tithes of one-tenth taken by the Church, the system of
renting piecemeal large properties on oppressive leases to the peasants,
and others, all waiting these many years to be adjusted and regulated by
a wise legislation. Also from the distribution and opening up for
cultivation of the great demesnial estates (Church property confiscated
by the governments a quarter of a century ago), Sicily and the other
southern provinces could extract great benefit and profit.

The provincial evils will increase gradually, but powerfully, if radical
reforms are not introduced and carried out in the matter of the existing
agrarian régime, in which pauper peasants, on account of their miserable
condition, are making themselves greater burden-bearers under onerous
and usurious contracts, thus prostituting their industry to usury and
impeding all agricultural progress.

Meanwhile the population is increasing so rapidly that the products of
the soil are become insufficient for their very necessities. Prompt aid
to agriculture, which is the important resource of southern Italy, is
needed if the Meridionale population hope to derive any increase in
benefit or profit. Only with a readjustment of the agricultural régime
and the leasing of country properties may we hope for a true and healthy
social revival. With the renewal of parliamentary procedures it is to be
hoped that the government will seriously undertake the Southern Italian
question.

Our deputations—they who should be examples of harmony and
tenacity—instead of being objects of daily criticism, should join
compactly together, without making disrupting questions of party, race,
or political gradation, and demand and obtain those reforms waited for
so long.

They should have a sole intention, a single aim: to redeem the provinces
of southern Italy from the straits in which they lie so cruelly
oppressed. Returning to Montecitorio’s halls they should not evade their
principal duty. Discussions about this matter there have been in plenty,
until now we demand action; on behalf of the dignity and prestige of the
entire nation, the solution of the Southern Italian problem is clearly
imposed upon them. The legislative body has already announced its
position of being willing, and facing its promises it cannot honorably
fail.

After so many depreciations too often inspired by misconceptions, after
so many accusations, discredits, and imputations treacherously cast on
our patriotic population, there might come suddenly an era of
reparation—it might come at once!

The South is waiting!

                                                          ENZO SAFIOTTI.


This, though comprehensive and with more than one carefully veiled
threat in the lines, is only one of the many strong articles appearing
in the southern papers, and it is among the mildest. When the situation
is reviewed, I believe it not ill considered to say that Italy owes her
immunity from a great rebellion in the south to the relief afforded by
emigration and emigrant savings.

[Illustration: Scilla—Draught-oxen of Italy]



                              CHAPTER VII
              GUALTIERI-SICAMINO AND THE SQUADRITO FAMILY


It was a rare morning when we got out of our ill-smelling second-class
compartment at Reggio di Calabrie, and strolled down in the bright
sunlight to the steamer lying at the makeshift dock ready to ferry
passengers over to Messina.

We were bound at last for the mountain village of Gualtieri-Sicamino,
where lived Antonio Squadrito’s family, and as we contemplated the
island across the straits it seemed that they must live in a very
Elysium indeed.

A cool wind swept down from the north, barely ruffling the wonderfully
colored water of the six-mile-wide channel; English colliers were
ploughing up “light” from the south; scores of boats fishing for
sardines were in sight; directly opposite was Messina, with its
sickle-shaped arm that protects its harbor; and against the abrupt
purple hills the creamy white houses of the town piled themselves up for
more than a hundred feet in places. In the grand distance to the south
lay the huge shape of Mount Ætna, the crater appearing like a bite out
of the skyline.

As the steamer neared the shore, we could see that to the south of the
city extended miles of fruit orchards very thickly set, and to the north
an excellent road ran out to the Point of Faro, where rose the light
that marks the entrance to the Straits of Messina.

As we entered the harbor, steaming in close by the forts, and so near to
the water-front street that we could read the shop signs, we were
interested to observe a large steamer lying at anchor taking on
emigrants, who were being brought from the quay in rowboat loads. We
could see a large group in and about the offices of the La Veloce Line,
and everywhere along the water front great posters announcing the
departures of emigrant ships, for the United States for the most part,
though some were for Australia and some for South America. Those for
Australia were the ships that sail from Brindisi and have their
principal patronage from the Adriatic coast villages.

The posters were the same, and the general character of
emigrant-departure bustle the same, that we had seen in the Boot, but
over Messina there seemed to be a spell of greater prosperity and
activity than over any of the other southern Italian towns. The streets
were strikingly clean. The people walked almost as rapidly as Americans.
The pretentiousness of Naples and Rome was missing. Business houses
seemed to be built and used for business houses only. On the water front
three American emblems were visible,—one over the door of the consulate
where I knew Mr. Charles M. Caughey of Baltimore to preside, and the
other two over wide-open doors decorated with huge white signs “AMERICAN
BAR.”

I learned later that the two wine-shops where they really can set out a
good dry cocktail and a standard gin rickey are owned, one by a father
and the other by his son. The father emigrated to New York about the
time of the Civil War, and according to reports boasts of having jumped
the bounty three times, and amassed a fortune in the saloon business in
New York. The son is also keeping bar, because it is the only thing he
knows how to do, and is waiting for his father to die, when I fancy
there will be one less American flag on the water front of Messina. Both
father and son are American citizens, and are much in demand with the
emigrants; and from all I could gather they and their operations could
be very well dispensed with.

We stopped in Messina only long enough to get fed, freshened, and in
some small degree rehabilitated, and then took train for
Gualtieri-Sicamino, intending to use that place as a base of
observations in Sicily.

Having heard from Italians of the north that the people of southern
Italy were for the most part low-browed swine, and having found the
people in the Boot to be decent, kind-hearted and hard-working, though
ignorant and poor, we were prepared to doubt the Sicilians to be the
bloodthirsty, stiletto-using banditti, such as they are popularly
supposed to typify. It was a real gratification to find the first
representatives we met to be of a thoroughly desirable type _considered
from the standpoint of good raw material for a great growing nation_.

Nor did we have occasion thereafter to change our first estimates.

As our train roared through the tunnels and toiled around the bold faces
of the mountains the greater portion of that mid-afternoon, we were
talking anxiously of what Gualtieri must be like, for it was set down in
the books as a town of 5,000 people, and we feared that it would be much
too large a community to yield the typical country family such as we had
found made up the great mass of Italian emigrants. Soon we left the
heights and the narrow defiles, and came down to the sea in plain view
of the island volcano Stromboli, belching great volumes of vapor into
the azure dome, and finally pulled up at Santa Lucia, bracketed in the
time-table as the station of the town of Gualtieri. When we stepped out
of the compartment the only building near at hand was the square, squat,
stuccoed station, while a few houses straggled away in the distance. We
were for climbing aboard again, but the guards were calling “Santa
Lucia-Gualtieri-Sicamino, Pagia, San Filippo,” and even as we hesitated
the _capo_ blew his horn and the train crawled away towards Milazzo, in
view on the far blue cape, and left us standing there.

To the north was the blue-green sea close at hand, to the east and west
the bold knees of the mountains coming out to the water line, to the
south the hills piled one on another, broken by twisting valleys. In the
late afternoon sunlight, falling athwart the inland slopes, I could see
how they were terraced like gardens in order to allow them to be
cultivated and the terraces ran up to great heights. Certainly there was
nothing about us to make us think we had come to a too city-like
community for our experiment. Many, many miles away on heights we could
see some white houses in clustering villages, but if there was a town of
five thousand people lying about somewhere it was rather artfully
concealed.

As I surrendered our tickets to the _capo di stazione_ I said:—

“Is this the station for Gualtieri-Sicamino?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, where is the town?”

“You go along this road.”

He pointed to a narrow wagon road running along the tracks for a short
distance, then winding into the heart of the hills. It was two inches
deep with dust, and the sun beat down on it with great fervor. In
addition to our being encumbered with the heavy camera, and one
carefully packed valise, I realized that it was about 110° Fahrenheit on
that bit of the king’s highway.

“How far is it to the town?”

“Eleven kilometers, sir.” (Seven miles and more!)

“I—I—suppose I can hire a carriage hereabouts,” I said,—a little
faintly, I fear.

“No, there is no cart around here now.”

“How about a donkey or two?”

The station-master swept the surrounding country with hand-shaded eyes
and shook his head deprecatingly.

“No, all that I can see are carrying loads of grapes.”

Seven miles’ tramp in that dust and sun with our luggage, which
contained photographic things too precious to leave out of our sight!

Half a mile from the station we passed three women going along in a sort
of dog-trot with great baskets of figs, just picked, on their heads, a
rolled-up bit of cloth between head and basket.

“I think I have the point of view of _those_ women,” said my wife’s
voice from the pillar of dust that surrounded and hid her as the salt
did Mrs. Lot.

In a short time a farmer who had been on our train overtook us. He was
carrying a heavy sack of things the neighbors had commissioned him to
buy in Messina, and in one hand he bore two salt cod, still dripping
with brine. Later I learned that salt fish are a delicacy in Sicily and
that the south of Europe is one of the best markets for Gloucester
fishermen. My imperfect Italian caught his ear at once, and when he
learned that my native tongue was English he demanded eagerly whether I
had been in America or not; and when I answered in the affirmative he
said I must excuse him, but were we not the friends that rich young
Antonio Squadrito was expecting? Reluctantly enough I said we were, for
my parting words with young Squadrito on leaving the _Lahn_ were that he
should keep our coming quiet and say nothing as to our nationality.
There was very little now in our appearance or conduct to show we were
Americans, and all through our travels we took refuge in the wide
disparity of North of Italy dialects from the Sicilian, and those
persons who did not think us Milanese or Turinese knew we must be French
or Spanish—except in Gualtieri. There Antonio had let the cat out of the
bag. As a result the whole town had been in a state of exalted
expectancy for weeks. The people had a _carreta_, one of the open,
springless mule carts, trimmed and decorated ready to be sent to meet
us, and in fact our arrival was to be a public festival, but there was
one slip—I had not sent Antonio a letter or telegram, and so we plodded
on in the dust unmet and unwelcomed.

The farmer announced himself as our friend and said he would guide us
straight to the Squadrito house, for he had a cousin in America, close
to New York,—in Cincinnati in fact,—and, with the blessing of the Holy
Mother, if his wife ever got well enough, he was going there too, taking
her and the family.

We might have been a traveling circus or an army with banners. Of every
five people we met, two at least turned to escort us back to the town,
while the news of our arrival was shouted to the inmates of every house
we passed and to the hundreds of men, women and children who were
toiling in the fields. We overtook a flock of sheep being driven two
miles to water, and soon we formed the van of the most picturesque
cavalcade imaginable—men, women, sheep, babies, donkeys and goats. At a
distance the country looked sparsely settled. Close at hand we found
that it veritably swarmed with life, for the average population is 2,500
souls to the square mile.

The hills shut out the sun; a cool breeze sprang up; the boys gathered
fresh figs for us from the wayside trees, grapes from vineyards as we
passed, blackberries from bush-grown stone-heaps, apples, pears, plums
and _Ficus indicus_, the thorn-covered, mango-shaped golden-yellow fruit
which grows on the edge of the thick leaves of the cactus hedges of
Sicily, and forms a very important and staple article of food with the
poor. There is a Sicilian proverb which says: “No matter how dire the
misfortune, there are fico-d’indias.”

Finally, as we turned a sharp corner in the road, we beheld the town,
lit by the last rays of the sun filtering through a defile in the hills;
and, weary, hot and dusty as we were, something akin to relief and
soothing satisfaction stole over us as we saw that it and the country
about was typical of all we had seen in the other provinces of southern
Italy.

Gualtieri-Sicamino is a mass of stone-built, plaster-covered houses with
a uniformity of architecture which hardly allows one to distinguish
public buildings, stores or churches from private houses, and the whole
is piled up against the face of a lofty hill. Nearly all villages in
southern Italy are on the hilltops or the hill slopes, so that, as a
Roman wrote nearly two thousand years ago, “the land that can be
cultivated with ease should not be cumbered with habitations.” The
general plan was identical with that of dozens of other villages we had
visited: a street or two circling the base of the hill, one or two tiny
squares, bare as new-laid eggs, then a succession of zigzag ways towards
the top of the hill: ways,—they are not streets, because in some places
they are not more than three feet wide, and one third of the way the
ascent is so sharp that stone steps are used. The village is much as it
was eight hundred years ago. Below its edge is the 200–foot ribbon of
sand and shale, strongly walled in along its whole length from the sea
to the heart of the mountains, the then dry _torrente_, or river bed.

Below us lay Gualtieri, with its white walls and dark tiled roofs, a
rose-haze over it from the sinking sun, embowered in the clustering
hills dark green with vineyards, olive and lemon orchards, the white
belt of the _torrente_ below and radiating ribbon footpaths along which
came pannier-laden donkeys; little flocks of milk-goats;
stoop-shouldered men bearing their long-bladed hoes and spear-shaped
spades; erect women with brilliant-colored skirts, scarfs or kerchiefs,
water-jars, baskets, panniers or bundles on their heads.

Our little procession wound down to the bridge, which looked almost
Syracusan, it is so old, and across into the “square,” on one side of
which is the principal church, and on the other the municipal offices.
The description sounds well enough; but the church is a low, squat
building with a small tower in which reposes a cracked bell and a noisy
clock, while the “municipal offices” are two rooms on the second floor
of a merchant’s combined store and home; the square is possibly sixty by
one hundred feet, the largest open space in the community. In all the
town there is not a street over twelve feet broad, and some would
measure four or three. As we wound out of the square into one of these
narrow ways and heard voices proclaiming on every hand that “Antonio’s
Americans” had arrived, all fears that Gualtieri was too urban, and not
a true type of the rural districts which send the emigrants, forever
vanished from our minds.

[Illustration: The Messenger—The Guide—The House of the Squadritos—The
Town (Gualtieri)]

Suddenly, in the narrowest part of the way in which we were, I saw over
the door of a small hole-like room in the wall:

                                BOTTEGA
                                   DI
                           NICOLA SQUADRITO,

and, seeing two boys at work with a small anvil and hand-drill, knew
that this was the blacksmith shop of Antonio’s younger brother. Two
doors beyond, a kindly old face appeared at the door an instant, our
procession set up a shout, and something told me this was Antonio’s
mother. We were ushered into a large, cool, windowless room with a
red-tiled floor and bare, white walls, along which were rows and rows of
hand-made rush-bottomed chairs. There must have been forty of them, and
it seemed to augur well for the size of the family; but we learned later
that the chairs stood there ready for the throng of neighbors who came
nightly to hear Antonio tell of the marvels of America and to laugh over
his prodigious yarns of buildings twenty stories high. Nightly they
would shake their heads and laugh, and then Antonio would say: “Just
wait till my American friends come, and you can ask _them_.”

Poor Mrs. Squadrito was almost beside herself. Our sudden descent upon
her, the absence of all other members of the family in the vineyard east
of town, the highly excited crowd which was pushing its way into the
doors behind us, were too much for her, and she hastened to show us into
an upper room—Antonio’s room, we could see at a glance—and to bar out
the crowd.

In ten seconds she had brought a flask of fine old Marsala, in thirty
more a plate of sugared cakes, in fifty a heaping basket of several
sorts of grapes, fresh figs, pears, apples, etc., and it was with
difficulty she could be restrained from bringing more. Swift-footed
small boys had sped to bring Antonio and others of the family. Their
number is so large that, unless the individuals are properly identified
the reader may get them confused. At this point in the narrative Antonio
and his father, being home on a visit, are to be subtracted from the
portion in America. Giuseppe, twenty-nine years of age, Carlino,
twenty-two, and Tomasino, fourteen, are in charge of the barber shop in
Stonington. The total is father and mother, ten children, one
daughter-in-law and one grandchild; and the nine in Italy, besides
Antonio and his father, are as follows:

Giovanina, the oldest daughter, is twenty-eight, and a lovable girl. For
some years she was rather frail, and her marriage with her soldier lover
was deferred. He decided to stay in the army for another term, and he
has been in the service fourteen years. In one year more he is to be
discharged with a life pension, and Giovanina thinks that then the long,
romantic dream of her life will come true. I have often looked at her
face, sweet by reason of the soul that shines through its mask of flesh
already beginning to fade, and have wondered if there was not a great
disappointment awaiting her at the crest of the hill.

Next in the family comes Maria, a bright-eyed girl of twenty-three, wild
with eagerness to go to America.

Carlino, I have said, is already in America, and next younger than he is
Nicola, the blacksmith, with a shop in which he does really wonderful
things with his hands. One day, for instance, he made a trunk lock with
four tumblers, all parts from raw metal, which was truly a marvel of
handicraft.

Vincenzo is a half-grown boy, merry, tuneful and irresponsible.
Giovanni, Jr., and Tono are ten, eight and six years of age
respectively, and are boys of the most thoroughly boyish type, only that
they have early learned the great lesson of southern Italy that “he who
eats must toil.”

The most interesting character of all is the mother, now fifty-four
years of age, a woman of most kindly heart. Her hands are gnarled and
knotted with toil. In her ears are heavy gold earrings with antique
coral centres. Once they belonged to her grandmother, and some day they
will descend to Caterina, her first granddaughter, the child of Giuseppe
and his wife Camela. The wife, who is a plain, hearty woman, can
scarcely wait for the day when she reaches New York. Tears of joy rise
in her eyes at the very mention of her husband’s name. Little Caterina,
or Ina, is but five, and is the pet of all.

But here the family and half the neighborhood come trooping up the
stairs, escorting Antonio, who, since his arrival, had been treated like
a king, and now he welcomed us royally and we were dragged into a
perfect maelstrom of introductions to cousins and friends, to emerge a
trifle confused as to relationships and names.

When we had removed some of the grime of our tramp and displayed the
mysteries of our kodak to the throng, which could not contain its
impatience concerning the black box and rolls of films, we were taken on
a twilight walk in the little plot of vineyard ground which Antonio had
bought three years before, east of the town.

The ostensible object of the walk was to show the _town_ to us, but the
real one, as we soon understood, was to show _us_ to the town. My wife
walked with Antonio and his father; Carmelo Merlino, the shoemaker and
steamship agent, took my arm, and the people who could crowd into the
narrow street, formed a procession behind us.

From that time on we lived in procession. Whatever we did, big or
little, was done in procession. Did I desire to take a photograph of the
town in the late afternoon from the hill opposite, five hundred
inhabitants came to my help. If my wife went to the public laundry with
the women, you would have thought the festival of the patron saint of
laundries was in celebration. Did I go forth to the fields with the men
at dawn, there was a centurion’s host to witness.

On our return from the garden it was after six o’clock, perhaps near
seven, and we found many people waiting to see us, and in the next half
hour the neighborhood called. Family after family poured in, all dressed
in Sunday attire, and as we sat in the large second-floor room of the
Squadritos’ house the entire apartment was thronged to suffocation,
while in the street outside there were people enough to fill a circus
tent.

We had had an abundance of fruit, but were not averse to a little
dinner, yet none appeared to be forthcoming. Unsubstantial as it was to
us, all that we had to say was meat and drink to the people. Rapt in
excitement they stood listening to the stories of the land of their
heart’s desire, and no thought of food disturbed them. At seven o’clock
my wife had told all that could be told of dresses, manners and customs
in America. At eight o’clock I concluded an impromptu lecture on the
topic of American liberty; still no dinner. At nine o’clock my wife had
answered the last of the questions on the cost of groceries, rent and
clothes, but no one mentioned dinner. At 9:30 I had described with
minuteness what factories and mills were like, and my wife was
expressing her liking for Italian dishes. At ten (having lunched at
eleven o’clock that morning) we both showed signs of faintness, but
still talked on. At eleven all the children were asleep on the floor or
in their mothers’ arms, my wife seemed dead of fatigue, and my own
exhaustion was complete, when something broke the spell and Mrs.
Squadrito suddenly threw up her hands with a pious ejaculation and
darted up-stairs. In ten minutes we were seated at a most delightful
supper, including a heaping dish of boiled snails. The whole family had
forgotten in the excitement that neither they nor we had dined, but they
certainly made up for the oversight.

In this house, as in most others, the top floor was used for the
dining-room and kitchen. The kitchen was in one corner—a sort of low
altar of stone and plaster, with a hollow in the centre for charcoal. As
some American architects have learned, cooking done on the top floor
neither scents up nor heats the house.

We sat chatting about the table until the cracked bell in the tower of
the church in the square struck one, then my wife and I sought the
repose and comfort of the big, high-set bed of the guest-room.

It was a strange sound which awoke me. Paradoxically, it was something
very familiar. Clear and sweet, very distinct in the air of the early
morning, a boy’s voice high up in the terraced vineyards on the slope
before the town was singing:

               “Who was it called them down?
               ’Twas Mister Dooley, brave Mister Dooley,
               The finest man this country ever knew;
                             Diplomatic,
                             Democratic,
               Oh! Mister Dooley—ooley—ooh.”

Then there broke forth the chatter of men, women and children who were
gathering grapes, and had stopped to listen to an American song. The boy
had been in America two years, his father had contracted consumption
working in the New York subway, and the family had returned that he
might recover in the balmy air of Sicily. One day the boy told me that
as soon as he was big enough (he is eight years old) he was going to run
away and go to America, because he could make more money selling papers
after school than he could working all day in the fields in Gualtieri,
and here he “never had no time for no fun.”

The spirit of this incident is the spirit which to-day stirs all Italy,
all Greece, all Syria, all Hungary and Roumania, and has spread deep
into the hearts of the people of the whole of southern Europe. The eyes
of the poor are turned with longing fancy to “New York.” That is the
magic word everywhere. The sound of it brings light to a hundred million
faces in those lands, and oddly enough not one out of a thousand but
believes that to come to America it is necessary to come to New York.

When I opened the battened shutters that took the place of windows,
there was a cool inrush of fragrant air, and looking down from the
balcony I saw Nicola already at work at his anvil. Carmelo Merlino was
at his shoemaker’s bench set out before the door, and across the way the
Di Bianca girls were giving the fat baby a bath in a large yellow bowl.
The baby was splashing the water with great delight. All was peace and
industry. We had begun our first full day in Gualtieri life.

People are up betimes in Italy. The very early morning hours are best
for work, and a couple of hours’ labor is often accomplished before
breakfast. An ordinary breakfast is vegetable stew, bread and fruit,—in
summer fresh fruit, in winter dried. In fruit-ripening season, on every
house-top and balcony, figs are drying, raisins and prunes are in the
making, and prematurely plucked fico-d’indias are being made ready for
winter use. Canned fruit is little used. A mash of tomatoes to use in
winter with spaghetti is always drying at door or on house-top in
sunshine.

The midday meal is eaten usually about 11:30, and is much the same, only
less is eaten in the summer, and perhaps, though only once or twice a
week, some meat, eggs or fowl are made to take the place of the
vegetable stew. In the evening soup is served, made with some one of the
thousand sorts of spaghetti and macaroni, as I will call it, though that
word covers only a part of the great Italian dish, _pasta_. A meat stew
may be added and more fruit and wine. I have seen poor families dine
heartily off black bread, fried pumpkin and fico-d’indias, and in homes
of more pretension I have eaten very good course dinners.

The men, women and children work in the fields, vineyards and orchards,
transport products to market on mule-back, in donkey carts or on
platform carts drawn by great white or gray, long-horned oxen. A team of
the latter is a beautiful sight. The women not in the fields, in
addition to household work, carry heavy jars of water on their heads;
wash clothes in the public _lavacro_; pick grapes, olives, fruits,
almonds, walnuts; cut, mangle and clean hemp; gather, flail out, and
clean peas, beans, etc.; and bear children. The duty of maternity is the
first thought of the Italian woman. Fecundity is the prime marital
virtue and her principal hold on her husband’s esteem.

There are many labors which are shared by men, women and children, such
as herding the goats, treading the grapes in the winepress,
vegetable-gathering and attending to the irrigation. This latter is very
important. The loads which men and women can carry on their heads are
huge. I have seen a man coming in at the finish of a five-mile trot with
120 pounds of grapes on his head, and all the way he has maintained a
gait very similar to that of a dog. Very early in life the children are
taught to carry loads on their heads.

The morning of the second day, people began to come to us for advice and
information. There were two or three old men in Gualtieri,—old beyond
the ability for anything but very light labor. They wanted to send their
sons to America that the boys might get a foothold and then bring them.
They all asked me what was the best work for a young man to do in my
country. All were farmers living in the village, who went out each day
to work the little patches of ground they called farms.

[Illustration: Part of the Family Gathered in the Kitchen (_From left to
right: Ina, Tono, Giovanina, Antonio, Mrs. Squadrito, Giovanni, Jr.,
Nicola, Maria_)—Felicia Pulejo—Concetta]

These holdings were almost invariably owned by some one else, a few by
well-to-do people in the village, most of them by the Duke of Avarna,
who lives in Naples and never comes near Sicily, though he owns nearly
all the ground around Gualtieri. The actual farmers tilled the soil,
bought or preserved the seed, supplied the implements, looked after the
construction and maintenance of the irrigation, harvested the crop and
often marketed it, then gave the landowner’s agent, the middleman at
Faro near by, half of all they produced. Of what they had left, three
per cent went for direct or indirect taxes, and they gave “voluntarily”
to the church one tenth. A little calculation will show one that even if
a farmer have a prosperous season and be not in debt or have any
misfortunes, he retains, when he has finished his contributions to the
support of the non-producing classes, aristocrats, tradesmen, army,
church, and middlemen, but thirty-eight per cent of what he produces by
toil from before dawn till after dark. When I say that ninety-four per
cent of the production in southern Italy is agricultural, and that the
one important source of wealth is the cultivation of the soil, and the
control of wealth the ownership of the land, it can be understood how
and why the poor farmer, having heard what betterment there is in the
United States will borrow money at twenty per cent for six months to get
himself or a son over here to establish a foothold from which he can
broaden a space of relief and liberty. Many of these boys in Gualtieri,
anxious to go, desired to escape the forcible conscription every two
years, which takes every other able-bodied young man, and keeps one
fifteenth of the able-bodied men of the country under arms at all times.
The Italian government never relinquishes its claim on its men for
military duty, and no matter whether they become American citizens or
not, if they have not served their term and return to Italy, they are
arrested and conscripted. A notable test case of this was that of the
young man from Baltimore,—Schipriano, son of an Italian general,—in
which the government won.

Even though the Squadritos have raised themselves to an independent
footing in Gualtieri and own a little land, the power of the landlord
was demonstrated fully to me when, on the second day of our stay,
Giovanni Squadrito got out from among the things he had brought back
from America a nice piece of oilcloth, a treasure in Italy, and tramped
off to Faro and presented it to the middleman, the agent of the Duke of
Avarna, as a sort of propitiatory offering. At the agent’s office there
was a considerable staff of clerks and bailiffs, which showed me what a
business is this collecting of the crops and rents.

One poor old woman toiled across the hills to see my wife to implore her
to take her to America. She had a daughter who had gone there as a
servant last year, and in the three months previous to the old woman’s
first visit to us she had had no letter or word of news. She was nearly
frantic and wished to go in search of the girl. In the time we were in
Gualtieri before our party started for New York, no tidings came. My
wife was forced to tell her that she could never go to America, the age
limit and the public-charge law would stop her at Ellis Island and send
her back.

It was not unusual for a whole family from far over the hills to arrive
late some afternoon to pay their respects, and before they had been
seated long a certain uneasiness on the part of the women culminated in
the oldest man of the party producing from inside his shirt a strip of
paper, much thumbed, torn and pasted. In faded ink it bore the names and
addresses of a son, a brother, father, perhaps daughter across the
ocean. Though they knew my home to be New York, they were often
disappointed because I could not give them news of the beloved relative
in Bangor, Me.; Birmingham, Ala.; Brownsville, Tex.; in Chili, Brazil or
Canada. One man had a button photograph of Francesco Zotti, who had
formerly been my neighbor in New York. As it chanced I once shook hands
with Zotti, and when I told his relatives this they actually cried for
joy.

The people have no true conception of America, though Italy is flooded
with books of views principally of New York and the Pan-American
Exposition, and there is a brave effort made by the Italians in America
to write home adequate descriptions of the new land. Once I was called
upon to settle a most bitter and acrimonious dispute between two men as
to what America was like. One, who had a brother in Wilkes-barre, Pa.,
thought it was all coal mines, steel mills and railroads, while the
other, whose cousin worked in a New York barber shop, maintained that
America was all high buildings and railroads which run over the
house-tops. Each new letter caused the argument to break out afresh.

One woman, who had a husband working in a saloon in Pittsburg, was very
effusive in her greeting and her conversation with us until, in answer
to her question as to what kind of parrot we had, I replied:

“Why, my dear madam, we _have_ no parrot.”

I noticed a look of suspicion shoot across her face, and her manner
became strangely reserved. I could see that from that moment she was
extremely skeptical about anything we said. In a little while, when
talking aside with some member of the family, she openly expressed her
doubt that we were Americans or had ever been in America. This was
laughingly repeated to me for a reassertion as to our nationality.

“What makes you think we are not Americans?” I asked the dubious
visitor.

“Because you have no parrot.”

I do not hesitate to say I thought she must be demented, but in further
explanation she produced a bunch of her husband’s letters to prove her
statements, and, reading them through hastily, I found that there is a
parrot in the saloon where he ’tends bar, and one across the street, and
the things these two parrots do and say make up the burden of his
letters home, so his wife was convinced that America is a land of
parrots.

For days there was a constant succession of gaieties, and I was glad we
were not compelled to eat and drink one tenth of what was set before us.
We were loaded with messages from fathers, mothers, brothers,
sweethearts, wives, children, and friends for those already in America.

The Mannino family, living across the _torrente_ in the western section
of the town, being relatives of the Squadritos, were foremost in trying
to do the honors of the relationship and were much concerned that a
young nephew go with us, but I saw at a glance that he had _favus_, and
I told them he would be excluded. He was insistent and started for
Naples to take a steamer of another line, having been assured that by
the payment of one hundred francs to some persons at Naples he could be
smuggled through. Soon a telegram came from Naples, saying the people
who were going to smuggle him had robbed him of every cent. He asked for
more money, it was sent him, and he sailed. I have so far failed to find
any trace of him, but he did not return to Gualtieri and I believe he
must have entered the United States through Canada, as this is a mode of
ingress the United States is yet seeking to completely block. Of all the
wealth of trickery and immigration fraud which I afterwards was able to
lay my hands upon, this was the very first hint, and yet what would have
been a fine specific case has escaped me.



                              CHAPTER VIII
                        THE SICILIAN COUNTRYSIDE


It seemed wise, during our stay in Gualtieri-Sicamino, to make a study
of more than lay in the province of Messina, and so we pursued the same
methods of research employed in the provinces of the mainland, but found
the conditions of life among the Sicilians so equable with that of
Gualtieri-Sicamino, that to tell what we saw elsewhere would be but to
repeat what is said of the village home of the Squadritos, with the
exception of a few notable incidents.

The northern side of the island is much more fertile and is therefore
more densely populated than the southern slopes, which are unprotected
from the hot winds from Africa; and in the mountains back from Girgenti
and Sciacca where travel is quite difficult except on mule-back, the
state of the people is of the most primitive sort, and a man who can
read and write is a man of distinction in the community in which he
lives. Some of the families are of a complexion that is nearly Malayan,
and their long black hair is beautiful to see. Wherever a branch office
of a steamship ticket broker has been established and emigration
started, or wherever the tourist goes scattering gold, there is a marked
difference from the communities where a stranger is nearly a
catastrophe.

[Illustration: Visitors in the Author’s Room—Teresa di Bianca—The Old
Woman up the Valley—Shyness in Shawl and Pattens—Small Children Labor in
the Fields]

The western end of the island is the famous Marsala wine district, and
one firm controls all of the best vineyards but a few, which are
gradually being forced into the monopoly. One man who was regularly
employed by this company told me that he received thirty-five lire per
month for ten hours’ labor per day (about twenty-one cents per day).

Catania is the exporting centre of the eastern end of a rather
prosperous sulphur-mining district on the eastern coast of the island,
and in this harbor are vessels constantly loading with sulphur for the
American and German markets. It is estimated that about fifty thousand
people derive their livelihood from this industry, and it is the one
notable industry other than agriculture in the entire island. The
largest though not the most fertile plain of Sicily is about Catania,
and some very fine estates are to be found there, owned for the most
part by wealthy people in Messina or Naples, perhaps resident in the
beautiful cities of northern Italy.

The political disturbances which have made Sicily an uncertain quantity
in years past, the comparative isolation of Palermo from the central
government, and the effect of the traditions of the Sicilian Vespers
(1282 A. D.) which are well known to every man, woman and child, topped
by the natural supremacy of the educated unscrupulous over the ignorant
well-meaning, have caused Palermo to become to a certain extent what
Naples is,—the scene of aggregated rogueries. The past twenty years have
seen malfeasances by high officials, impositions by aristocrats,
commercial and political plots, and outrages by declared criminals,
which brand the beautiful capital of the Sicilian state as a
nesting-place of the boldest and most nefarious malefactors in all
Italy. The common people are not dishonest in the degree that the
Neapolitans are, but the educated classes can boast some bright and
shining lights in the public and private hold-up game that should make
even St. Louis or Philadelphia envious. An English officer of a
Liverpool tramp steamer, who has spent a very great deal of time in
Palermo when shore superintendent of a line in the lemon trade, told me
that “a Palermo politician can give any Tammany district leader cards
and spades, and beat him with his hands tied.”

Col. John A. Weber, of Buffalo, formerly Immigrant Commissioner at the
Port of New York, thinks immigration should be encouraged to an even
greater volume than at present, but that dishonest and illegal
naturalization is a rotten spot in the matter. In this he is correct,
and I would add that my observations have been that more men from
Palermo, who have found even that city too hot for them, are engaged in
the brokerage of naturalization papers in the United States and Italy
than any other city’s representatives. A bill newly introduced by
Congressman Gulden, of New York, is intended as a corrective, but I
doubt its efficiency.

One of the first things that strikes the American visitor to the rural
districts of Calabria, Sicily or Apulia, and even farther north, is the
antiquated processes employed by the farmers. A man who knows what a
sulky plow and a harvester are rebels at the sight of an entire peasant
family spading up a field or reaping a crop with sickles, and there is a
vast difference between a big green and red Studebaker wagon drawn by
two good horses and loaded to the top boards with apples or potatoes,
and a string of donkeys, women, and children laden with paniers and
head-baskets; but the introduction of modern farming methods into Italy
would have an effect equivalent to a visit of plague. The three million
three hundred thousand people who live from the soil in Sicily, for
instance, win for each his portion of food stuffs by hand labor on the
farms or in the village workshops, where work is traded for food very
often directly; and the introduction of machinery which would dispense
with the labor of more than half the people would upset the system of
division of products of the soil and prove a terrible calamity.

Outside of the number of a few noted vineyards where there are power
plants for wine-making, the great volume of Sicilian wine, which is
strong, of good nutritious quality and flavor, is produced by hand
processes. The grapes are gathered in season by men, women and children,
and borne in paniers or baskets to the trampling-vats, which are often
two miles from the vineyard, and in some instances more. I have seen a
half-dozen little girls, the youngest too small to speak plainly, the
oldest not over eight, going plodding along in the dust between vineyard
and press, with loads of grapes on their heads.

The grapes are dumped into the stone-built, plastered trampling-vat,
which drains into a butt, and when enough, say a layer of six inches of
thickness, has been put in, the peasants get in with pants and skirts
rolled up, and tramp the grapes into a pulp. This trampling is usually
given up to old men or women whose sight is defective, or whose hands
are distorted by accident or rheumatism from years of wine-drinking, and
who are thus not so valuable at picking and carrying grapes. I remember,
at a press near Collesamo, seeing two old women trampling grapes with
their skirts rolled up and pinned about their hips, and far up on their
thighs were the purple stains of the fruit. As they tramped they sang
the high, nasal, droning _canto_ of their village.

The pulp is taken out in forms and put into a press which operates by
screw power, the screw being a huge beam of wood which has had a screw
thread carved on it by hand, and the power is the leverage of a pole
mortised into the top of the upright screw, and sloping down to where
two men can seize it, or a horse, ox or donkey be hitched to it.

One of the wine-presses in Gualtieri is owned by a fine old country
gentleman by the name of Betto, a freeholder who has prospered in the
heating and forging of the several irons he has in the community fire;
and after a visit to his press he took us up to his house, one of the
very best in the region, and set before us wine that was so old it had
changed color twice and was, at the time of uncorking, a pale amber with
light-flecks in it here and there.

If there were spots in the southern provinces on the peninsula where the
irrigation systems were worthy of note, then indeed did the artificial
watering of the soil in Sicily appear wonderful. In that extremely
fertile spot called the Conca d’Oro “Shell of Gold,” which surrounds
Palermo, not only is every natural spring and stream sought out and
redirected, but deep artesian wells tap the subterranean waters. Where
the sides of the mountains in the interior are terraced far up, in an
effort to increase the area of tillable land, water conduits have been
hewn out of solid rock in spots, and streams carried for miles over
barren places to moisten a patch or two of productive soil. Looking on
such works of patience, one can fully realize the hard necessity of the
Sicilian; and one cannot help thinking how much better it would be for
all concerned if the Sicilian peasant, when he emigrates to the United
States, instead of becoming a barber, a fruit-peddler, a trencher, or
following some other of the favorite temporary pursuits which allow the
immigrants to congregate in large cities or their environs, he should be
given an opportunity to try his irrigating skill on some of the fine
undeveloped land in the West, where a little carefully applied water and
seed will bring any man a wealth of results at harvest-time.

I do not think there was a soul of reasoning years within a radius of
several miles of the mountain village of Gualtieri-Sicamino who did not
know that on the last Tuesday of September, Antonio Squadrito, with a
part of his family, a number of neighbors, and his two American friends,
would be leaving for Naples, to embark thence on the _Prinzessin Irene_
for New York. When, in the sixth year preceding, Antonio had been one of
a handful of the first emigrants from that section, every one, even his
own family, had been dubious and pessimistic about the venture. Since
then more than one tenth of the population has followed him, and any
remaining pessimism was restrained, and those who were too poor to go,
too old or too well situated to take new chances, vented openly
expressions of envy.

From San Filipo, a near-by village, where almost half of the people have
the dreaded eye-disease, trachoma, an old man hobbled over to Gualtieri
to ask if there was not some way that he could go to America. He had a
nephew earning $1.20 a day in the mines in Belmont County, Ohio, and he
felt sure that if he got there his nephew would find him work enough to
do. He said he could sell his few belongings for five hundred lire,
enough to take himself and his wife to Ohio. I looked at his gaping,
granulated lids and told him that he could never go. He sat with his
head bent on the top of his staff for a longtime in silence, then, with
working features and trembling hands, rose and said good-bye. A day or
so later a very brown, shy little girl brought over three fine squashes,
a present to us from the old pair.

I was somewhat concerned when I learned that Concetta Fomica, a
beautiful young girl of sixteen, a relative of the Squadrito family, who
was to go with us, was the daughter of a San Filipian and had lived in
the afflicted village. She had some slight inflammation of the eyes, but
it did not seem to be trachoma, and Dr. Giunta, the village medico,
assured me that, though her father had it, she did not. Since the
disease is highly contagious by contact of hand, towel, handkerchief or
anything that the head touches, and there are few oculists who claim to
be able to effect permanent cures and none who are able to remove the
cicatrices from the inside of the lids, the causes for concern can be
easily understood. There were only two cases in Gualtieri, so Dr. Giunta
said, and one was her father. He is blind almost half the time. Those
who are known to have the disease are required to have separate toilet
articles for their own use.

Antonio, as the actual head of the Squadrito family, was in hot water
constantly over the matter of who should go to America and who should
not. All of the remaining members of the family, with the possible
exception of the eldest daughter, Giovanina, and the mother, were wild
to come to America and join the three brothers at their little barber
shop in Stonington, Conn. Giovanina alone was looking forward to the day
of her marriage with her soldier lover. The small boys were simply
insane on the subject of America. One of them approached my wife with an
air of great mystery one day and confided to her a plan whereby he would
himself borrow the money to buy his ticket, and she could hide him under
her shawl and bring him through. But a great reversal in the family
plans came when Giovanni, the father, who, remembering his two hard
years in America, announced that he had come home to stay. He said he
liked home and village life too well to go back. I told him that I
believed the restless germ of the American spirit lurked somewhere in
his system and that he would change his mind. This has proved entirely
true. As I write, a letter lies before me in which he says that he wants
to come back. Home comforts and familiar pleasures and labors are all
right, but he “can’t stand it.”

When the father had so decided, there was no question as to whether the
mother should come, and the small boys’ chances were effaced. Nicola
decided to stay by his prosperous smithy, Maria clung to her mother, and
Vincenzo, who had a cartilaginous growth over his left eye, was told to
wait till his eye had been operated upon and then he might come. Of
course, there was a small storm, especially from the younger members of
the household; but Antonio poured oil on the troubled waters by
promising to return next year and take every one who would go. It was a
treacherous compromise, and since the father has changed his mind I
believe this year will see nearly the entire family in America.

We were to be joined at Messina by Giuseppe Cardillo and several other
people, and by the Papalia family from Monforte-Spadafora; but our party
as finally constituted had the following people from Gualtieri, and
throughout the trip they continued to be our party proper and were
directly under our care:

Antonio Squadrito, Camela Squadrito and her child, Caterina; Mrs.
Squadrito’s brother, Giovanni Pulejo, a barber; Felicia Pulejo, a
nephew; Concetta Fomica, the pretty young cousin; Antonio Nastasia, a
sixteen-year-old boy neighbor; Gaetano Mullura, in the same category;
Nicola Curro, aged twenty-seven, an intimate friend of the family, a
finished cabinet-maker; Nunzio Giunta, son of a prominent family of the
village, a big, powerful fellow of twenty-three, just out of five years’
service in the police or Carabineers; Antonio Genino, twenty-one years
of age, a cheese-maker going to a cousin in Philadelphia; and Salvatore
Niceta, Benedetto Runzio, Luciano Sofia and Salvatore Damico, four
farmer-boys from Gualtieri-Socosa, a detached village of the community,
all going to the Banca Gelantado in Philadelphia, destined for the
mines.

These boys afforded a very fine example of the latest methods of evading
the contract-labor law. They had no contract in writing, merely the
letter of an uncle of one of them promising work if they would come. He
was not to employ them, but he would turn them over to men who would.
This is the method by which scores of big corporations in America, which
dare not import Italian laborers by reason of the law on this matter, do
it by making the contract here with a relative or friend of some group
of men in an Italian community, and the relative or friend brings them
over. The men are instructed to answer the question as to whether they
have been promised work or not by saying they have not. Out of 1903’s
approximate million emigrants, only 1,086 were refused admittance as
alien contract laborers. One large industrial corporation at Buffalo, N.
Y., alone received nearly half that many, and those who passed
successfully through to other parts of the country can be easily
imagined. I do not hesitate to say that it is impossible to defeat this
fraud by any operations on this side of the sea.

In a later chapter there will be shown the outlines of a plan which will
offset the weaknesses of the enforcement of the alien contract-labor
law, and I shall throw light in numbers of places on the true meaning of
“assisted emigration.”

The first official procedure of the many and intricate ones necessary
for the departure of emigrants and their admission to the United States
was the obtaining of the passports for the male members of the party.
The women and children are entered on the passport of some man of their
family or party. The first step is getting the birth certificate from
the secretary of the municipality in which one is born, so Antonio, the
elder Pulejo, Concetta’s father, young Giunta, Curro, and the father of
the Socosa boys went before Giacomo Marini, and when he had consulted
the register and found that all had been duly born in Gualtieri,
birth-certificates were issued, signed by himself and the president of
the municipality, or mayor. As for myself, wishing to return as an
Italian to America and not as an American, a birth-certificate was
issued to me as having been born _nel commune di Londra_, son of Paolo
Brandi and Migone Caterina. I regret to say it was necessary to take
undue advantage of the old secretary to carry my point. Precious little
good it did me, though.

These birth-certificates were then forwarded by Carmelo Merlino, the
shoemaker steamship agent, who was on a high wave of prosperity through
sending so many people at once, to one Mazzulo, in Messina, whose
nominal duties are to take the birth-certificates before the _questura_
or police headquarters of Messina district, where the personal record of
each man in the district is kept for both military conscription and
reserve, as well as criminal vigilance purposes. If there was anything
in that record which would cause the questor to think that one of our
party should be refused permission to depart, he would not issue the
passport, and the emigrant could not leave the country, as each person
must have a passport in which is an identifying description of the
bearer so complete as to make an exchange of passports impossible with
the careful scrutiny which is given them by the Italian police officials
in Naples.

As things fell out, none of our party were refused the very necessary
passport except myself. The accuracy of the Italian system is shown by
this. I was refused because they had no record of me; and my
birth-certificate was returned as irregular, and the local police would
have arrested me if I had persisted in trying that method.

Now, all of this goes to prove one of the most important facts in
connection with Italian emigration: that the _questura_ of each district
is slowly and effectually clearing the district of its criminal class by
dumping the lot into North and South America, the most dangerous coming
to the United States as the best field for their further operations.

Here is the syllogism:

Since American police records and prison statistics, especially those of
the United States secret service, show large and increasing numbers of
Italian criminals in this country;

[Illustration: Giacomo Marini, the Municipal Secretary—Nicola Squadrito
at Work (_Carmelo Merlino at the right_)]

And since the mass of these can enter only by immigration;

And since the immigrant must have a passport from the chief of his local
police district;

And since every criminal’s record is kept in the district in which he
was born, and he must go there to get the birth-certificate on which he
gets his passport,—

Then these thousands of passports issued annually to criminals are given
by chiefs of police who know the records of the men who are receiving
them, and are thus deliberately ridding their districts of them to save
themselves trouble and increase their reputation for efficiency.

That those secret instructions which are issued from Rome to the chief
of each district advise any such procedure I do not believe. They do
advise, so I have been reliably informed, that passports be not issued
to prostitutes easy of detection, or to persons over forty-five not
accompanied by sons, inasmuch as both classes are very nearly sure to be
turned back and to become a matter of expense to the government. That is
the bugaboo of Italian statesmen,—expense.

In my own case I knew I would have no difficulty concerning my passport
until I came to the gate in the police-office in Naples; then I must
have a passport either American or Italian. Any chance of getting an
Italian one had been quickly shattered; and yet, if I went on the ship’s
manifest as an American I would not be entering the United States in the
desired rôle. The solution of the difficulty was not reached till we
were in Naples.

When Antonio and the others had their passports, then the tickets were
issued to them by the agents, and not before, the lot being returned to
Gualtieri by post. Now there was no turning back. Camela began to waver,
and hourly there was some new dread to suffuse her eyes with tears.

One day Antonio Nastasia’s father went to Messina, taking some of the
money which he had labored hard as a tinsmith and sheet-iron worker to
accumulate, and spent nearly all of it in buying clothes for little
Antonio to wear. Curro spent a month’s wages on a new suit. Giunta’s
relatives prepared him a considerable wardrobe, and altogether nearly
half as much as was needed to pay the passage of the entire party was
spent in buying Italian clothes to wear to America. The senselessness of
this proceeding is plain when it is said that few of these new clothes
were worn after the first day or two in the States.

Something else equally ill-advised was the making of huge trunks by
Nicola Squadrito and others, in which the families of the departing ones
packed quantities of every conceivable sort of supply, just as if the
voyagers were going to a new, wild land to begin life as best they
could. Despite the protestations of Antonio, my wife and myself, Camela,
crammed into huge boxes two sets of heavy mattresses with all the
accompanying bedding; large cans of _pomidoro_; olive oil; sticks on
which dried figs were impaled; flasks of wine; forms of cheese; old
clothes; and cooking-utensils, many of which were new; and Concetta
Fomica’s mother repeated the performance. Enough excess baggage, freight
and customs duty were paid, before we were through, on these big
encumbrances to replace the whole lot twice over in America.

The last days were at hand. We were to leave on Tuesday before dawn. On
Saturday afternoon a request came from an old woman up the valley that
we see her—she being unable to come to us—before we departed. As we
followed the stony _torrente_ path to her home, her story was told to
us. Twenty-three years ago, when she was a bride of little more than a
year and a mother but a month, her husband had gone to America, the
first man to emigrate from all that region, nearly eighteen years before
Antonio Squadrito and the others had started the flood. She had received
one letter in which he said he had changed his name to Frank Smith, as
nobody had any patience with his Italian name. She never heard from him
after that, and after her one boy died she continued to live alone in
the little house Francesco had built for her and waited for Francesco’s
return. For a living she worked in the fields in summer, and in the
early autumn in the vineyards and the lemon, olive, and orange orchards.

We found her spinning with the old distaff in the sunshine before her
door. She set before us such humble hospitality as her hut afforded, and
then told us she wanted us to begin a search in America for a Frank
Smith, and she desired to turn over her savings, thirty-two lire ($6),
to defray the expenses. She could not understand why we would not take
it. It may be that these lines will fall beneath the eye of a man who
long since left all his Italianism behind him and is now a thoroughgoing
American and no longer Francesco. If so, I bid him remember that there
is a faithful woman waiting for him in the Sicilian hills.



                               CHAPTER IX
                             THE DEPARTURE


As the sun was sinking this Saturday, the bells in the tower of the
principal church began an unwonted clangor, and I was told that the
Squadrito relatives had paid for a special service at vespers for the
safe journey and prosperity of our party. As we wound along our way to
the village we could see little groups of people, some in holiday dress,
and others, for the most part, in the clothes in which they left the
fields, the wine-presses, the cheese-shops, the smithies and the
orchards. As we entered the square we met one of the priests, a benign
old man, one of the truest and best types of the sincere rural clergy I
have ever seen. After taking a pinch of snuff, he offered the box to me
with a quizzical smile, knowing full well the un-Americanism of snuff.
There was a hasty exchange of compliments and well-wishes, then he
passed on to the sacristy.

Jules Breton has caught and put on canvas, more than once, the spirit of
peasant piety which pervaded that vespers; the air of restful,
provincial, old-world religious fixity, breathing through the richly
colored and wonderfully picturesque scene in that ancient church.

Around the tallow-encrusted base of the figure of San Francesco, the
patron saint of the village, flared the great yellow candles. A few
glimmered on the altar. The figure stood on a pedestal a little to one
side of the centre of the church. To the left, kneeling on the worn
stones of the floor, or sitting on tiny rush-bottomed chairs, were the
closely grouped women, some few in the coveted black-lace prayer-shawls,
but the mass in the solid-colored commoner ones, drawn over the head and
spreading out into a cone around the kneeling or sitting figure. These
shawls, dark red, green, or yellow, treasured among the poor, made that
night in the candle-light a softened color-scheme that is indescribable.
To the right were the men and boys, clad for the most part in the baggy
homespun worn in the fields, though here and there some villager boasted
a suit from the tailor’s hands.

As we entered, an old man with furrowed face, horn spectacles and
raucous voice, and a slender, Raphael-faced boy, both in vestments, were
chanting from well-thumbed books held into the light of the candles
about the saint’s figure. Overhead in the choir the old organ toiled
uncertainly through the music of the service, and ever and anon the boy
took up and rang the tinkling silver bell.

His clear, superb soprano voice was in fine contrast with that of the
elder singer, but the whole scene, the portion of the service at the
altar, the muffled murmur of the people repeating the forms, the rustle
and stir as they knelt or rose, the shifting of the shadows on the wall,
was all so strange, almost barbaric, yet so harmonious and beautiful
that its very detail was evasive.

When the service was ended, the people, without haste or without form,
gathered around the priest while he christened a tiny wailing infant,
held up by the midwife, with the proud father at her side. They named it
Giuseppe. Yet another to join the millions of Giuseppes, Giacomos and
Giovannis!

As we left the church, the father of the child followed us and bade us
come to his house, where the christening was being celebrated. Through
the dark, narrow streets we wended our way to the other end of the town,
climbed the stone stairs to an overcrowded upper room, and spent a
politely sufficient length of time eating anise cakes and drinking sweet
wine.

With the tact of womankind, my wife had brought some trinkets of
American origin as a gift for the child, whereat the assemblage beamed
its appreciation, and just before we left the father said to me aside,
as if it was a secret he was keeping from his wife: “If I can save
twenty more lire, the next one will be born in Pittsburg, praise the
Holy Mother.”

At home all the favored neighbors and relatives had gathered for a
dance. The large room on the ground floor of the Casa Squadrito was
ringed around with a double row of guests. Whole families sat together,
on the stairway were seated the youngsters already drowsy; crowding
around the wide door opening into the street were the unbidden, but none
the less interested and curious. The head of the Mannino family, weary
with the labors of his sixty years and the fatigue of a stiff,
home-laundered collar, was nodding before the music struck up,
occasionally raising his head to blink at the light solemnly and to make
sure none of the young men were unduly near his daughter, the heiress of
his hard-got wealth.

Every one who had any heavy gold rings, bracelets or brooches, or any of
the pretentious gold-mounted strands of old coral, which are handed down
so carefully from mother to daughter, had them on, for a display of gold
ornaments is a sure sign of rural social distinction. Feet that were
rarely shod were now encased in _scarpi_ made by Carmelo Merlino and his
fellow craftsmen in the village, and dress among women in the throng
varied from a department store ready-made cloth gown sent home from
America to a ragged working frock, the wearer of which kept her shoeless
and stockingless feet shyly tucked out of sight.

All were awaiting our arrival, for Antonio, who was with us, was host as
well as chief musician. A home-made acetylene lamp, of the blacksmith
brother’s contriving, was lighted and set high up on a bracket, throwing
every object in the room, even to the boys perched in the transom, into
sharp relief. The mandolins and guitars hanging on the wall were taken
down, and with a skilful, brilliant prelude—for he is an excellent
mandolin-player—Antonio swept into one of the stirring, if monotonous
time-honored _tarantelle_ airs.

Even though eyes were dancing in young faces all around the room, all
were too shy to take the floor till, Giovanina and Maria Squadrito
urging into acquiescence two of the Di Bianca girls, the four formed a
square and began a swaying, pirouetting movement, preceding the whirling
and crossing over with the accompanying snapping of the fingers in
imitation of the castanet, and the smiting of the tambourines. Round and
round they whirled, across and back, first one set of partners, then the
other, the assemblage applauding a little shyly as yet.

The _tarantelle_ is called after the black spiders about Taranto, whose
dangerous bites killed so many people early in the fifteenth century
that many odd cures were proclaimed, and one that was officially
advocated was music and dancing. I do not know whether the _tarantelle_
dance which was evolved did the spider-victims any good, but a fanatical
wave of dancing swept over the peninsula and the surrounding island, and
the _tarantelle_ became a fixture among the folk-customs of the southern
provinces.

When the young girls were weary, an effort was made to get the young men
out and into action, but all of them seemed to be in the throes of a
monstrous diffidence. Little Giovanni Squadrito, Jr., and his small
brother Tono were not thus afflicted, and dragged out the Di Bianca boy,
a handsome fellow, dressed in the best Roman fashion, and another
youngster who, though a child in years, had massive work-scarred hands.
The four gave an exhibition of dancing that was delightful indeed, and
when Giovanni and Tono went skipping about, their hobnailed shoes
scratching and clattering on the tiles, their mother’s face beamed with
real pride. Although very weary with a hard day’s work preparing for the
departure, she was among the brightest and merriest of the company.

Then Nicola, the blacksmith, and the shoemaker steamship agent,
persuaded a third loutish youth to take the floor, but a fourth dancer
was lacking. At the instant when the last of the other men had refused
to take the floor as yet, the village butcher appeared in the door and
was hailed with acclaim by those who knew his terpsichorean gifts. He
glided into his place on the tiles, drew tighter the knot in his
neckerchief, ran his hand through his Saturday-night stubble of beard,
tossed his hat to a friend and entered upon the most startling, dashing,
withal graceful and self-contained feats in dance movements I have ever
seen. He was on his tiptoes the greater part of the time and gave a
perfect reproduction of the traditional dance.

Then something happened that is rare—the men and women danced together,
waltzing; and when, after a number of varied dances, _tarantelle_ and
square, a dance by the old folks was called for, the first person to
respond was Mrs. Squadrito. In vain the people of his own age endeavored
to get the slumber-smitten Mannino on his feet. At last Giovanina, who
had been dancing almost constantly, filled the vacant place among the
elder people, and the music broke forth once more. I caught my wife’s
eyes turned to me in amazement, and I replied in kind. Caterina
Squadrito, with fifty-five years of hard labor and the bearing and
rearing of ten children behind her, danced a long round of the
_tarantelle_ with an ease, grace and abandon which put to shame the
efforts of her youngest daughter. When she was gyrating and swaying in
the middle of the floor, with all the mass of people about keeping time
to the music, laughing and applauding, that room presented a picture
which I shall never forget.

Not long after this the mothers who were holding their sleeping children
in their arms grew too weary of the burdens and started for home. The
others made haste to follow and filed by us, bowing formally as they
offered their hands, wishing us good-night and _bon riposo_.

Sunday morning bright and early the entire family began that weekly
process of cleaning and dressing up which is, I believe, general in all
rural districts of Christian countries. Little Ina was arrayed in a
pretty little white dress, with a long white veil, and on her head was
set a wreath of artificial leaves and white flowers. Going by in the
street were others. It being her last Sunday, all of her little friends
put on their festa dress in her honor, and a procession of the children
was held from a church in another quarter of the village to the one on
the square.

In the afternoon Camela took little Ina by the hand and set off for some
place by herself. I noticed that a sort of solemnity pervaded the
household; that she was crying as she went; that no one offered to
accompany her; and that she carried a large bouquet of flowers. I soon
learned that she had climbed the hill behind the town to the graveyard
on its summit, to spend the last hours she could ever spend beside the
graves of her father and her mother.

There were renewed streams of visitors later in the day, and at night a
pleasant gathering at the home of the Giuntas, where we were shown,
among other things, a very fine collection of old jewelry, inherited by
our hostess from an aunt. In this company there were fewer people, and
they were more select as village society goes than the large gathering
at the Squadritos’ the night before. Antonio, being very popular in the
village, and quite democratic despite his prosperity, had asked humble
and pretentious alike to his home, and neither caste gave a sign, such
as they would have given on the street, that they were not of the same
strata. There are some very fine and delicate things in Italian social
customs. Before we left we were bidden to a little garden party which
Mrs. Giunta had planned for us on the afternoon of the next day. It was
to be held on a scrap of an estate owned by the family, situated up the
_torrente_ a short distance.

[Illustration: Ina and Her Friends in Procession to the Church for
Farewell Blessings]

That night, after we had returned home, we were serenaded by a troupe of
the village male vocalists, who wandered about until near dawn. The boy,
Salvatore Vazzana, whom I have mentioned as singing in the church, sang
“Luna, O Luna,” with a triple guitar accompaniment. The serenaders were
then standing in the white moonlight at a point down by the _torrente_
wall, so that in the stillness the clear, sweet voice and the throbbing,
twanging _compagnamento_ carried to every part of the town and came back
faintly from the farther hills.

The Giuntas are a large family. All the present heads of separate
households are the children of one aged woman, still living in
Gualtieri, who has given birth to twenty-two, all told. Most of these
are living, and nearly all have prospered. One is the only man in Italy
who can stop a government train, even the Brindisi express, in any spot
beside the track where he may appear. He shows his badge as
inspector-general, and the train pulls up and takes him on. This
attribute was related to us by every fresh group of people we met in the
community, and he is considered by them to be a very wonderful man
indeed. Our host, on the Sunday evening before mentioned, is one of the
few men who own land about Gualtieri or in the district controlled by
the Duke of Avarna.

Monday afternoon he and his wife and one or two other guests called for
us at the house, and, accompanied by Antonio, Giovanina, Maria, Camela,
little Ina, Giovanni, Jr., and Tono, we walked over the _torrente_ path,
in the blazing sun, to the gate of one of his farms of garden size. At
the gate we met his brother, the village doctor, bound ahorse to see
some patients higher up in the mountains. After looking over the
splendidly cultivated place and inspecting the irrigation devices, very
old and clumsy, but none the less effective, we sat down to a repast of
fruits of more sorts than I can remember and name. The photograph of the
party in the garden tells its own story. If all landowners in Italy
dealt as mercifully with their tenants as our host appeared to deal with
his people, there would be a different story to tell of southern Italy
to-day.

Monday evening was a time of turmoil. First of all the great mass of
trunks was got off to the station before dark. Then those who had
delayed till the last minute to bring messages for friends and to bid us
farewell appeared. I took all the messages, but drew the line at
presents for relatives in Missouri, especially twenty-pound forms of
cheese and five-gallon cans of olive oil. In the Squadrito household
there was too much excitement for great grief, only now and then one of
the members would break out with a wail and throw his or her arms around
some one of those who were to go. By eleven o’clock everything was
packed up, and Antonio mandatorily dismissed all the neighbors and sent
everybody to bed. As the silence of the outer night crept into the
house, there became audible the sobbing of the poor old mother as she
lay thinking of the near separation from her own flesh and blood.

The heads of the weary and worn seemed scarcely to have touched their
pillows before awakening voices rang in the house and street, the
feeling of dread, chill exhaustion and discomfort that goes with
sleep-breaking at one o’clock seemed to rest numbingly on every one. The
tumultuous grief of the night before had given place to a sort of hushed
woe. A short time to dress, a bite to eat, then into the dark, narrow
streets with sleep-heavy eyes, to meet a crowd of hundreds come to see
the party off. It is wonderful how little noise that concourse made as
it moved out of the square, over the ancient bridge, to the beginning of
the mountain road.

The parting with the mother and sisters occurred at the door of the
Squadrito home. The mother was so overcome with her sorrow that, shaken
with dry sobs and murmuring broken blessings, her daughters, unable to
speak themselves from weeping, loosened her arms from about Antonio and
Camela and bore her to her couch.

At the edge of the village a group of donkeys was in readiness. Here the
crowd paused. Not more than seventy-five elected to walk the seven miles
to the station and back, and there were few relatives among them.
Antonio’s father was as completely broken down as if he was giving his
favorite son and the others to the grave, instead of their departing for
a happy land.

It was with difficulty that those natural leaders among the people
effected the final separations, but at last, in the starlight, the two
groups drew apart on the highway, the cavalcade with its foot retinue
ascending along the face of the hill, the great, black mass of the crowd
grouped about the end of the bridge shouting farewells. Some one struck
up a farewell song, several voices joined in, among them the Vazzana
boy’s clear soprano; but one by one they broke, and soon the song failed
and ceased; and as the procession turned the corner that hid the town
from view the long file of those left behind could be dimly seen moving
back to the darkened homes.

It were ill indeed not to speak of “Bella.” The day before, when donkeys
were being hired for the ride to the station, I had been struck by the
gentle and affectionate way in which she stood beside her owner’s young
wife, and had marked her for my own. Experience with the army mule of
Missouri extraction and his despised cousin, the Mexican burro, should
have made me less trustful.

For a half hour we cantered along in the dark, the babel of talk all
about us. At the rougher places I held my camera carefully balanced on
Bella’s neck in front of me, in order that it be not banged against
projecting rocks or by other laden beasts pressing close alongside at
times. When one wishes to urge a Sicilian donkey forward, one kicks him
in the ribs and shouts high and nasally:

“Ah-a-a-ah!”

We came to a sharp bend in the road, where it turned over a high bridge
crossing a deep ravine. Bella heard the braying of the lead donkey
already across the bridge and on the other side of the ravine, and
suddenly, without consulting me, turned aside and plunged, like a goat,
from rock to rock down into the blackness of the ravine. I had been in
the tail of the train, and no one missed me, I knew. She would not be
checked on her downward course; in fact I was too busy clinging to the
precious camera and holding on, to attempt to argue with her. The limbs
of olive-trees and the raking thorns of the _mura_ swept us from stem to
stern. If she knew where she was going I felt very glad, for I certainly
did not. High and faint above me I could hear the voices of the party. I
was wondering what my chances were for getting out without a broken
neck, when suddenly my fair beast struck level ground, and in an instant
more a steep ascent. All sounds to show that the party was still in the
vicinity had died away. The donkey went up that precipitous slope with
an action that seemed nearly “hand over hand,” and, holding the strap of
the camera in my teeth, I merely clung desperately about her neck. A
stone loosened by her hoofs went crashing, down, down, down, and a cold
sweat broke out on my brow.

But in a short time, without one misstep or one minute’s uncertainty,
she made the climb, came out into a level open space, and stood stock
still, looking to the left, and working her ears. I bent down and
touched the ground with my fingers, encountering the warm, thick dust of
the highway, and in a moment more heard the voices of our party as they
turned a bend. Bella had taken a short cut across the ravine. Not having
missed us they did not wonder how we had got so far ahead, and I said
nothing about the matter.

Soon we wound through the slumbering town of Pagia. A head was now and
then thrust out to murmur a sleepy “_Bona notte_,” and when some one of
us answered, “We go to America,” there was always a hearty, “_Bon
viaggio e bona fortuna_.”

Just beyond the village we heard something, encountered often before,
but never under such eerie surroundings. Somewhere in the paths higher
up, a shrill young voice raised a wild, plaintive song, and at the end
of the first line held the note long drawn out and rounded, though
nasal, while many other voices, men, women and children, struck in on a
major chord and held it as long as they had breath. This was repeated
over and over. It was a band of peasants already on their way to their
distant work, singing in the plagal modes, in the darkness and
loneliness of the hills.



                               CHAPTER X
                         FROM SICILY TO NAPLES


It was not long before we wound down to the little station, and day
began to break in the east, turning the cloud of vapor over Stromboli
into the semblance of a huge pink rose growing up out of the island
volcano. Many of the people from the country about were gathered to see
their own friends off, for there was quite a party by this time. Soon
the train crept around the coast from Milazzo and brought up with a jerk
and a blast of the conductor’s horn. Here farewells were brief. I heard
one of the Socosa boys’ father cursing the train because it was the
agent of the separation from his son, and then out of the hurly-burly
came a slamming of compartment doors, cries of “_Pronte! Pronte!_”
another blast of the horn, and we were hurried away to Messina.

It was at the station that Antonio’s first wrestling-match with the
mountain of the party’s baggage occurred. At Santa Lucia there had been
abundant willing hands to pile it on the train, and no other baggage
with which to confuse it. Also, nothing had been said about excess
charges. At Messina it was ripped open by the city customs officials,
then hustled from place to place till at last it was dispatched to the
North German Lloyd office, and Antonio emerged from the encounter a
dripping wreck of his former immaculate self. When we next saw it, it
was piled into a barge, and standing guard over it was a uniformed
government official who begged piteously before he departed for enough
money to buy his dinner, and was well enough satisfied with thirty
_centesimi_ (about six cents).

I have previously described the operations of the _questura_ of Messina.
Passports in hand, the entire party joined the great mass of people from
all parts of eastern Sicily crowded into the steamship broker’s office.
Here each person was compelled to make a declaration, which declaration
answers the twenty-two questions that are propounded regularly at Ellis
Island. When the Socosa boys, in answer to the question as to whether
they had work promised or not, said that they had, _the agent advised
them to answer this question in the negative_. When Giunta and Curro
said they expected no one to meet them, they were advised to get some
one, and so on through the group. The steamship broker’s agent, in
filling out the blanks of this declaration, thus fortified the emigrant
in the weak places of his case for admission, and if the emigrant is
turned back he has no claim for damages against the brokers. Numbers of
suits were formerly brought and won, but under the present system none
have been successful, and in cases where the returned emigrant is able
to pay for the passage on his deportation the broker can force him to do
so.

It will be noticed that I have used the term broker instead of steamship
agent. The explanation will be a revelation to most people in the United
States, for I found not long since that officials high in the Bureau of
Immigration were not aware of the following facts, which is another bit
of proof of how weak our system of dealing with immigration from this
side of the water is. The steamship company does not book the
third-class passengers. Emigration is promoted by sub-agents in the
villages, such as Carmelo Merlino in Gualtieri, who operate under
district agents such as Colajanni in Messina, _who are selected,
appointed and bonded by the Italian government and not by the steamship
company_. They are responsible to the government and not to the
steamship company. They deliver their passengers at so much per head to
the steamship company at the foot of the plank, and a percentage of
their receipts finds its way to the government treasury. They are
required to have their offices in what is called a judicial town, where
there is a _questura_ and the operations of the ticket brokerage system
and the police passports dovetail nicely.

The process of clearing all papers, baggage receipts, tickets to the
steamer to Naples, tickets to America from Naples, was passed through by
our party, and then, it being but little after noon and the hour for
going aboard being four o’clock, they scattered. Many went to homes of
relatives in Messina for a final visit. Several of the boys spent
unwarrantable sums of their precious money in buying ugly looking knives
with which to face the dangers that they had read so much about in the
papers, cheap, worthless watches, and clothes that would only be thrown
away; and everywhere a group passed some of those parasites of the port
who prey upon emigrants and make an effort to wheedle or swindle them
out of a bit of silver.

[Illustration: DEPARTURE FROM GUALTIERI
“Declaring” in the Messina Office—Party’s Baggage on Lighter—Friends,
Neighbors and Relatives]

On my first visit to Messina I had the pleasure of intimate knowledge of
the discovery of a bold fraud, and the arrest and punishment of the
thief. He was a man of fair appearance, who had for three years made a
practice of stopping emigrants just before they were about to go aboard
the steamer by means of the small boats in the harbor, and demanding if
they had had their tickets stamped “by the American doctor.” The
frightened emigrant, knowing that somewhere in the process he would
encounter “the American doctor,” to him an object of dread, would reply
that he had not. The party would then be taken to a small office in an
alleyway opening off the water front and a stamp put on the ticket for
which the victims would be charged three francs sixty, about seventy
cents each. Mr. Charles M. Caughy, the American consul at Messina,
caught this fellow and saw to it that he was soundly punished. Our party
escaped with a few minor mishaps, thanks to the vigilance of Antonio and
myself. One of the boys fell a victim to a fake street dentist who had a
carriage, a set of tools and a professional air. He related the
sufferings with toothache experienced by emigrants on the Atlantic, and
advised the extraction of all bad teeth. One old woman from Catania had
three taken out at a franc each. While I was trying to get a photograph
of the fakir one of our boys got into the carriage, and the dentist was
so eager to have me get a good, full view of his face that he yanked out
one of the boy’s perfectly good teeth. I am glad the film got torn.

We lunched in a little restaurant off the Via Umberto, entertained by
really good music from a beggar violinist who was accompanied by a woman
and little girl, both of them cursed by trachoma.

We were disappointed in meeting the Papalia family from
Montforte-Spadafora, in fact they came on the next steamer, and for some
reason Giuseppe Cardillo’s father had decided that Giuseppe and his
party should wait; thus we lost at the outset some interesting members
from our group as planned.

I improved the opportunity to complete some investigations in Messina
concerning the smuggling of trachomatic emigrants, and will state what I
learned in a later chapter, where the information is collected.

The fine Navigazione Generale steamer _Reina Margherita_ was the one on
which we were to travel to Naples. She went first to Reggio di Calabrie
to get the crowd there gathered from Greece, Syria, Turkey, Apulia and
Calabria. There were not many of the Orientals, and a large part of them
expected to sail on the _Citta di Napoli_, of the La Veloce Line,
leaving Naples before we did on the _Prinzessin Irene_. I went over and
saw them come aboard, as some of our friends would be there.

Some gay parties came down to the dock in _carretas_ and on foot,
singing and beating tambourines, and one of these brought Gaetano
Disalvo, a boy from Scilla going to join his uncle in Buffalo.

One of the boys with Di Salvo was a lithe lad of nineteen who had been a
sword-fisherman, a very dangerous occupation pursued in the midsummer
months off Scilla. With old Francesco Palmi was his daughter Paolina, a
true Calabrese type, and one of the prettiest girls of her class we saw
while in Italy. She had been a flower-worker, and was going to New York
to marry a man whom she had not seen since she was a little girl, but
who had secured “a very fine employment for her paying twenty-eight lire
($5.60) per week.”

When the steamer put back across the Straits to Messina, there was a
grand rush to get the emigrants and their baggage aboard. The boatmen
who took our party out, though they had been paid by the steamship
broker, all such things being included in the 200–lire ticket, demanded
and succeeded in getting two lire for their ferrying. We were in the
first rapids of the systematic extortion through which the poor emigrant
passes on his way from home to Ellis island, where it stops so suddenly
that he is mystified.

It was a striking scene as our last boat put off from the quay, leaving
little Antonio Nastasia’s father, Nicola Squadrito, Giunta’s friends and
a few more who had come from Gualtieri, standing in a weeping group in
the midst of the many hundreds, waving hats and shouting, “_Bon viaggio,
bon viaggio_!”

It was a rough-and-tumble fight to get aboard with the baggage, and the
difficulties were increased by the unnecessary and purposeless brutality
of the ship’s stewards. Here began the blows, the jerkings about and the
hustlings, which never ceased throughout the whole process till the
poor, ignorant people, driven and herded like cattle, were in the
shelter of Ellis Island.

There was a brigadier of police aboard, and when the women had gone
below into their compartment and we were trying to secure beds in the
men’s quarters, he followed the women and offered them insults which
make my blood boil as I think of it. When I learned of it he had left
the ship.

At last we were settled into our places on the lumpy jute mattresses
covered with coarse, dirty bagging, which served as the bedding in the
double-tiered iron bunks arranged in blocks eight or nine wide in the
middle of the ship, with supplementary rows along the sides.

No attempt was made to feed us, and, anticipating such a condition, we
had fortunately brought food with us. Despite all their discomforts, the
wilting heat and the foul smells, I do not remember ever having seen a
happier crowd of people. On every hand musical instruments were out, and
groups were singing or chattering like magpies.

In the dusk the beautiful steamer glided out of the harbor by the scores
of little groups on the quay at its mouth, and headed up the Straits of
Messina for the Bay of Naples, twelve hours away.

While we were on the forecastle head, I noticed little Disalvo come up
from below with a long, twisted-up, slender, newspaper in his hands. For
a long time he stood by the rail intently watching the shore. When we
were off Scilla he lit a match in the shelter of a ventilator and
lighted his improvised torch, and I realized that he was going to try to
signal his friends on shore. I looked to the land and saw a light moving
up and down near a cottage south of the town where I knew he lived. But
his answer was a failure and nearly a catastrophe. The strong wind
caught the first blaze of the paper and literally rent the burning torch
apart, sweeping the burning fragments aft the length of the ship. Fires
were narrowly avoided in two places, and the first officer came down
from the bridge and read the horror-smitten boy a terrific lecture.

Far into the night we lay on deck, dreading to go below into the reeking
atmosphere there. When we did at last, the tumult of crying babies, of
people who could not sleep and so essayed to play harmonicas and sing,
was almost unbearable. The rule of men and women being separated had not
been enforced, and so Antonio and I stayed near the women of our party
for their protection,—not from the other passengers, but from the ship’s
people. At last dawn came, and the haggard look on my wife’s face told
me what she had passed through.

When we went on deck we were within sight of Capri, and two hours later
we slid under the shadow of Vesuvius into the beautiful bay of Naples,
and when we had snuggled in beside the Palermo steamer at the municipal
quay, unloading its throng of emigrants before the custom-house, we,
too, were dumped off in the hot sun and left for hours in a broiling
heat to await our turn to be conducted to the first steps of that
wonderful and interesting process the emigrant goes through in Naples.



                               CHAPTER XI
                      THROUGH THE CITY OF THIEVES


In a half-hearted, divided-responsibility sort of way, the Italian
government, the steamship companies and the United States authorities
endeavor to do at Naples, the world’s greatest port of emigrant
embarkation, what should be done thoroughly a stage sooner, viz., to
sort out those who are likely to be turned back at Ellis Island and to
prevent them from sailing. How much easier, cheaper and more effective
to have done it at home!

So far as this narrative of the experiences of my wife and myself and
our family party is concerned, I would estimate that stage of the
process which was reached at Naples as of equal or greater importance
than the Ellis Island process proper.

Before we left our native land to begin the research in Italy, we were
under the impression that emigration was merely a matter of so many
hundreds of thousands of people traveling each season from their homes
in Europe to the nearest ports, and taking third-class passage to New
York, where they were landed at Ellis Island and examined. That is the
American idea of it,—that and no more! That anything befell them, other
than happens to traveling families in any place, before they reached
Ellis Island, never occurred to us. The process of birth certificates,
passports, declarations, and grouping by the numbers on the ship’s
manifest was all unexpected; and here at Naples was yet more formality,
and, looking back over the whole trip, the Naples stage seems really
more interesting and surely as important as the Ellis Island one.

The morning (30th of September) that we arrived on the _Reina
Margherita_ from Messina, and debarked with our baggage at nine o’clock
on the quay before the Capitaneria del Porto, with no shelter from the
sun already beginning to send down rays of broiling heat and blinding
whiteness, we were rallied into one crowd by agents of the North German
Lloyd broker, Vincenzo di Luca fu Giacomo, who stood at the foot of the
gangplank crying, “_Germanese! Germanese!_” and into another by agents
of the La Veloce Line broker, who stood on the other side and called,
“_Veloce! Veloce!_”

Across the quay, directly opposite where the _Reina Margherita_ had
docked, lay the beautiful long gray _Citta di Napoli_, ready to sail
that day, and from the other side of the Capitaneria we could see
emigrants who were going in her, pouring out of the examination-rooms in
hundreds, and carrying their baggage aboard. All the third-class
passengers among us who were going by the Veloce Line were quickly
herded together, and rushed away and put through the process. As our
steamer did not sail yet for two days, we were left to wait while all
the Veloce baggage was passed through the custom-house, and then that of
all the first class from the _Reina Margherita_, as there is a city
customs duty in Naples in addition to the national revenue, and baggage
is looked at very carefully for _comestibles_, or anything that can be
eaten or converted into food-stuffs.

We had had no breakfast; we had had exceedingly little sleep; the air
outside the bay had been chilling; and now we were left huddled in the
dust under that pouring sun till it was somebody’s pleasure to remove
us. A high iron fence topped with spear pickets prevented our getting
out, and if we tried to go through the doorway into the Capitaneria
there were policemen to push us back. Despite the strict rules of the
Capitaneria concerning any Neapolitans being allowed in among
third-class passengers not yet admitted to the port, or among those
passed for embarkation, peddlers, water-sellers, beggars and mendicant
friars began to filter through the Capitaneria and over the fence,
until, even if we were oppressed with weariness, heat, dust and hunger,
we at least had diversion, and were able to buy warm water with a dash
of licorice in it. One buxom young woman who came in with an ollah and
served all customers out of the same glass was of a fine cheery type,
and when some of the people about us complained and asked whether this
was what they were to expect in the way of treatment, she would laugh
and say:

“Oh, do not trouble yourself because you are weak with weariness and
have no place to sit down but the dust in the hot sun. This is heavenly
to what you will find later on.”

I heard her tell Camela and Concetta this, and the effect was anything
but cheering on them. Antonio tried to comfort them, but he was almost
at his wits’ end, answering questions from all the members of our party
as to when they were going to get something to eat, whether we were to
go at once on the steamer, whether or not they looked “sick in the
eyes,” and might they open one of the trunks to get a bottle of wine,
and so on indefinitely.

The begging friars were nearly all Franciscans, and moved about the
various enclosures among the thousands of emigrants, telling them that
they could best ward off the fearful dangers of the voyage and in the
new, wild land, America, by purchasing prayer-cards. They got a great
deal of money in this way.

It was with keen disappointment that I saw a party of three persons, an
old woman, her daughter and the daughter’s small boy, who were going by
the _Citta di Napoli_, brought off the _Reina Margherita_ and hurried
away with the other Veloce people. I had observed their diseased eyes
the evening before, and had warned all of our party to keep away from
them; but the young woman had made friends with one of our neighbors, to
whom she confided the fact that this was her third trip to Naples with
her mother and her boy. She had tried twice before to go to America, but
all had been turned down on account of trachoma, and sent back to
Messina, where they lived. Now, by arranging to perform that indefinite
process I heard so much about, “Pay some money to some people,” she
fully expected to get through at Naples and to be landed in New York. I
had planned to check up every step of her process and see if she really
did get through with the old woman and the child; but now she was
hustled away, and we were left standing helpless. I had the name she
gave to our neighbor, and the address in Messina, but either the
neighbor was mistaken or the name fictitious.

Soon after they had gone, an old man with a swarm of young clerks
appeared, and, calling the roll of the party, issued tickets which were
good for daily rations, while we were held in Naples, at the North
German Lloyd’s contract restaurant, the Trattoria Retifilero in Via
Lanzieri. It was a long, tedious process, involving much argument and
searching for passports, tickets and papers.

When the old man was finished, he and his henchmen marshaled the crowd,
divided it off into groups amid a wild uproar, and each group of thirty
or forty followed one of the young clerks into the Capitaneria, where
they were led before the city customs officials, who ransacked their
baggage for _comestibles_. A number of the members of our party were
intensely agitated over the performance, it being their first
experience, and little Nastasia, who had wine and cheese in his box, was
wild with fright. He was afraid he would be arrested, or something would
happen that would prevent his going.

A few times before, I had seen evidences of this fear among others of
our party, and I soon realized that _what makes the emigrant so meek in
the face of outrageous brutalities, so open to the wiles of sharpers, so
thoroughly disconcerted and bewildered in the face of an examination, is
his terrible dread of not being allowed to enter America. He would as
soon think of cutting off a hand as doing anything that “would get him
into trouble._”

When the city customs officials were finished with us, we were passed
through to the front of the Capitaneria, and to the left, where the
steamship broker’s representatives were busy checking the heavy baggage.
Almost the entire party was dependent on Antonio and me to worry the
score of big trunks, boxes and bundles through, and, this spot being
just as hot and dusty as the other side of the Capitaneria, the whole
party was in a deplorable condition when at last we were ready to be led
to our abiding-place for the two nights we would be in Naples.

Once outside the iron fence bounding the Capitaneria, the group largely
made up of our party straggled along under the weight of their baggage,
following the young clerk who piloted us along the Marina, with its
turmoil of commerce, and soon we turned into the Vico di via Porta.
Threading our way through the narrow street, jammed with all the life of
the lower classes, we came at last to the Albergo della Rosa, or Rose
Hotel, in the Lanzieri.

It is one of the many houses whose great source of income is the housing
of emigrants at fixed rates of from one to two lire per night. The first
floor was occupied by shops; around the entrance were gathered carts
loaded with all sorts of wares from vegetables to trumpery combs,
mirrors, soaps, baggage-straps,—in fact, all of the things which the
poor emigrant could be led to fancy he wanted for the voyage. The house
did not look very inviting, and as we hesitated a horde of runners from
other houses pounced upon us and almost dragged us elsewhere. Some of
our people would have gone if a respectable old gentleman passing by and
hearing the commotion had not stopped and addressed us, saying, “Go to
this hotel if the company sends you here, and do not take up with these
thieves. Some of the places they recommend are of a most dangerous
character. Emigrants are robbed there constantly.”

I had firmly decided that our party should stop at the Albergo della
Rosa, and contrived to persuade the others in our group not to be
influenced by the importunate Neapolitans.

The host—a short, unshaven, bibulous-looking person—appeared, and we
were conducted to the second and third floors, and allowed to sort
ourselves out into three large rooms, filled with single beds. All of
the women and children were given a front room with light and air, and
the men took the others.

Here occurred an evidence of that class feeling which exists from the
beggar up in Italy. There is no democracy. By a very natural process,
with no words or discussion, Nunzio Giunta, Antonio Squadrito, Nicola
Curro and one or two others, who considered themselves members of a
better class than our farmer-boys from Socosa, for instance, took the
best room, leaving the third, which was dark and close, to the others,
who accepted it without a murmur. In this connection I would note an
amusing thing: Antonio never carried his own baggage till he reached
America, nor did he ever fail to protest when I shouldered mine. He was
afraid we should lose caste in the eyes of the people we met.

It was not ten minutes after we were indoors, before every member of the
party was stretched out and sound asleep, being simply exhausted by the
strain under which we had been for two days.

It was nearly six o’clock when the host roused everybody to tell them
that if they wished to take advantage of the one meal a day the
steamship broker was paying for, they should be going to the
_trattoria_.

It was a subdued party that arrayed itself, filed down the stairs, and
went to its first substantial meal since noon of the day before. There
was less talking done than there had been over anything since we started
from Gualtieri.

At the restaurant we found some hundreds of emigrants coming and going,
and others seated at the tables. For a half hour we waited until those
eating made room enough for us, and then we gathered around one of the
large tables arranged about the long room, and soon were served by
unkempt waiters with soup made with tomatoes and paste, a stew of meat
and vegetables, the meat being from portions of the goat not the most
savory, melons and wine. Poor little Ina was very hungry but very brave.
She confessed, after we had all been cheered and stimulated by the meal,
that she had been afraid she would “faint, and they would not let a
fainty girl go to America.”

Nothing was of more interest to me than the rapid broadening of the
mental scope of the children and young folks in our party. Pretty
Concetta, in all her sixteen years, had never been away from home
before. Some of the youths had never been outside the village community
of Gualtieri. Little Ina showed how bright she is and how well she had
understood all the wonders that had been told her, by refusing to be
appalled by the tremendous size and unheard-of splendor of Naples, for
such the town, shabby and tumbledown as it is in the parts they had
visited, seemed to them. She took her new experiences as a matter of
course.

We walked out into the city after supper, and Concetta was as nearly
like a wild, frightened animal of the forest as anything of which I can
think. As I knew the city well, I piloted them to the portions where
there would be the most interesting sights in the sunset hours and the
early evening. As we were crossing the Piazza Borsa, with its busy
traffic and many speeding electric cars, she clung to Camela’s arm, and
Camela clung to my wife. The passing horses and cars seemed to utterly
bewilder them, and when we were little more than halfway across, Camela
and Concetta broke into a wild run, and, despite my wife’s resistance,
dragged her the remainder of the way to the sidewalk, the last spurt
being directly in front of a Toretta train. When we were all safely
assembled on the sidewalk, Giovanni Pulejo, himself trembling all over,
turned to me and said:

“Oh, all this noise makes my head as big as my body. Let us go back to
the house.”

In one of the little side streets Camela suddenly stopped with an
exclamation of disgust, and pointed to some boys with a plate of
macaroni. They were shoveling it into their mouths with their fingers in
the fashion that is met with only in Naples.

After we had passed through the splendid business arcade, the Galleria
Umberto, had seen the Royal Palace and other wonders, we came suddenly
to a little street which has a peculiar reputation in Naples. It is the
Vicolo del Pallonetto. Many years ago, when both the Mafia and Camorra
were flourishing institutions in Italy, some strange things happened in
this street.

It is so steep that it is paved with stones set like stairs, and many
are the dead who have been found there at dawn. Now the street is
inhabited for the most part with honest people of the Neapolitan brand
of that virtue, and it has the distinction of having sent great numbers
of street-piano Italians to America. “The dago with the monkey” was the
pioneer of Italian emigration to the United States; then came the
lemon-seller, who took to the banana and peanut business. Some people
take it as a matter of course that bananas and peanuts have their home
in Italy. An Italian fruit-vender whom I know tells me he has people ask
him nearly every day whether he has any Italian bananas. The truth is
that both bananas and peanuts are as rare in Italy as alligator pears in
New York. Several house-owners in this street are retired hand-organ
players who have made substantial fortunes in America in other years.

[Illustration: The Storied Vicolo del Pallonetto in Naples]

As we came through the street with our trailing, staring, interested
party, scores of persons with relatives in America came out of the
houses or called down from the balconies, desiring that we look up their
friends in the States and take them messages. Lest some who read these
lines may find in them fresh cause to raise the Mafia bugaboo, I will
repeat an earlier assertion: while it is no use denying that once the
Mafia was a large, well-organized and most murderous society, and that
for a long period it built up a record of atrocious crimes, extortions
coupled with murders, the stringent measures adopted in Italy have
suppressed it so effectually that actual Mafia members are only a few
middle-aged or old men, who keep their allegiance only for fear of their
old comrades. No man dares raise his voice to-day and call himself
“_Mafite_” except in America, and here the man who does it is a common
criminal, trading on the terrors of the old bloody band.

This country was greatly roused over the operations of a secret society
in New Orleans, and much was written and said about the Mafia at the
time. It is true some of the men were old _Mafiti_, but I have the word
of an Italian secret-service official of high rank that the band was a
purely independent organization. About a year ago a terrible murder was
committed by Italians in New York, and there was not one of the great
leading dailies and the reviewing periodicals but pronounced it an
outbreak of a Mafia band. A number of men were arrested, with strong
proof against them, and they were labeled “The Band,” and connections
with other Mafia bands sought for in Buffalo, Chicago, New Orleans, and
elsewhere. Very serious editors discussed “the growth of the Mafia in
America” and “the frightful influx of criminal Italians.” The whole had
considerable influence on the Shattuc bill. The truth of the matter is
that “The Band” was merely a small gang of counterfeiters, most of them
men of such undesirable qualities that they would never have been able
to gain admission to the Mafia; and they were no more _Mafiti_, strictly
speaking, than are the members of the American Board of Foreign
Missions. I repeat, “the Mafia in America” is nothing but a bugaboo. Men
who belong to small criminal gangs used the word as a means of
extortion, and the mysterious murders which happen frequently—always
with Italians as the victims—are private vendettas. When we consider
that the Sicilian considers it just as much his inherent right to stab a
man who has done him a great wrong as the American Southerner to lynch a
negro who has turned beast, and that criminal Italians in America work
astounding injustices on their gullible countrymen, it is a wonder that
there are not more mysterious murders than there are. The deportation
from America of about six shiploads of Italian parasites who live on the
labor of their fellows would put an end to all such things in this
country. The average Italian living in America would rather go to prison
for five or ten years than be deported. And many an Italian gladly goes
to prison to be maintained while he learns a trade and how to read and
write English.

It seemed strange indeed to be leading a company of honest country folk
along a street so noted for its dark crimes, but in the hearty greetings
and hospitality of the people about us in the Pallonetto there was no
sign of the blackness of that other day.

It was most amusing when I piled the whole crowd on a car bound out
toward Possilipo, past the villas on the northern rim of the wonderful
bay. I had let many cars go by till I saw one coming that was nearly
empty, and when we were all in we nearly filled it. The boys all wanted
to sit together. They were in high glee, and crowded nine into one seat,
to the dismay of the conductor and the entertainment of the other
passengers. The conductor stopped the car and straightened them out,
distributing them into empty places. When the car was going at full
speed I looked back and saw that every one was holding on to the seat
for dear life, and watching Antonio and myself anxiously to see if we
gave any sign that we were in danger. Having occasion to change cars,
Concetta and Camela lost their heads and sprang upon the other car while
it was still in motion. Antonio and the conductor caught them and lifted
them up, or else one or the other would certainly have been hurt. If our
people were so overwhelmed by life in Naples I wondered what they would
do in New York. However, before this evening trip was over, and we went
back to the Albergo della Rosa, my wife and I both remarked a change
that had come over all, especially the younger ones. It was one of the
first displays of their adaptability,—one of the best characteristics of
the Italians now pouring into America. In a few hours they had got a
fine grasp on city ways, and the people we brought back to the emigrant
lodging-house behaved far differently from those we had taken away. The
wild look was gone from Concetta’s eyes, and only in the roar of
Broadway did I see it again.

There is no part of southern Italy where the flea is not a bloodthirsty
brigand, but in Naples he seems to partake of the characteristics of the
city and is clever, wily, bold, and—oh! so numerous. In the Albergo
della Rosa, that night, it really seemed that the vermin of southern
Europe, brought to the lodging-house by emigrants from all lands, had
assembled for an international clinic, and we were the subjects. If that
great man who makes animals talk in his books had only been there, he
would have heard the Grecian bedbug telling the Russian Jew louse that
he and the Syrian sand-gnat had just had a choice nip of raw American
that had been pointed out to him by the Calabrese fleas who were
first-cousins of their hosts the Neapolitans.

Some beast of the night had bitten little Ina on the right eyelid, and
when we arose in the morning the eye was almost closed.



                              CHAPTER XII
                         ROGUERY AND ILLITERACY


Bright and early I set about contriving some method of getting out of
Italy in the guise I wished. I could not get an Italian passport in
Naples, for the same reason I could not get one in Gualtieri. I could
not get a birth certificate in the municipality, for the very good
reason that I had not been born there. Yet I must have a passport,
either Italian or American, if I wished to be allowed to go aboard the
_Prinzessin Irene_ as a third-class passenger. If I desired that my wife
and I should travel first-class no questions would be asked us by
anybody, either in Naples or New York. That would ruin my chain of
investigation. I must go in the steerage, and I must go through Ellis
Island. With American credentials I would leave the _Prinzessin Irene_
at the docks in New York, which I did not desire to do, and without the
credentials I could not get on board the ship. It was truly a puzzling
situation. I sounded first the underground methods, of which I will have
more to say later, and found that they were too dangerous to my work.
Then I decided to go aboard as an American and get off as an Italian,
and to go aboard as an American I must go to the consulate, make
application for a passport, and then, having been properly identified,
hurry to the American embassy in Rome and get the passport, a paper
which only the ambassador can issue.

The American consul in Naples is A. Homer Byington, a name famous among
journalists from Maine to California; and, going to the consulate, I
made a clean breast of the whole affair to Mr. Homer M. Byington, his
vice-consul.

“It is a shame to let a good story fall down,” said he. “Wait till I can
get Mr. St. Ledger, our vice-consul, on the docks, and we will see what
can be done.”

In half an hour I had the assurance that Com. Aillo, chief officer at
the Capitaneria, would allow me to pass without a passport, Mr. St.
Ledger being my sponsor.

I had yet to buy our tickets, and, going to the offices of Vincenzo di
Luca fu Giacomo, the North German Lloyd broker, the man who handles all
the third-class passengers, I applied for a ticket, and was refused
because I had no passport, as the law under which the government selects
the brokers of emigrants’ tickets strictly forbids a ticket being sold
to an emigrant unless he has a passport.

The Barcelona sub-agent of the La Veloce broker at Messina was caught
sending over-aged emigrants overland from Italy to Bremen and Hamburg,
whence they embarked for the United States, and was arrested and given a
term of imprisonment. He had been smuggling across the northern border
persons refused passports because of age and the likelihood of their
being returned to Italy from Ellis Island. One party lost a trunk and
wrote back from Hamburg about it, and, the whole plot thus revealed, the
arrests followed.

The court of last resort was Mr. Nicolo Padolfino, in charge of the
Neapolitan broker’s department of declarations, and by assiduous efforts
I got his ear and took him into my confidence. I began to feel that if I
kept on at this rate there would be few officials in the region but
would know all about my doings, and my opportunities would be
correspondingly limited. Many things transpired but—I emerged from the
fray with the third-class tickets that would land my wife and myself in
Ellis Island—all of which goes to show how difficult it is for an
emigrant to leave Italy without all of his papers being straight from
his native village or town, on up to the last gate at Naples. During a
previous stay in Naples I had heard of a school in the Via St. Sebastian
which coached illiterate and ignorant emigrants sufficiently to ensure
their being passed at Ellis Island. Now I heard of yet another, and,
looking them up, found that they had the moral support if not the
financial assistance of the Italian Bureau of Emigration and the
Emigrant Congress, which had just finished meeting at Udine. All this
sounded very interesting and seemed to have its startling features, but
a little further investigation showed me that while their intents are
bad enough for the interests of the United States, their achievements
are not at all dangerous. While these places are anxious to coach up
undesirable emigrants and get them out of the country, the foolish,
unappreciative emigrant refuses to come to the schools to be coached. If
ever these schools should be again “discovered,” I hope that the seeker
for truth will learn the whole truth and have a good laugh over it.

At this point a word should be said about the Emigrant Congress. It is
one of those highly public-spirited societies, that delights in its
annual session and the attendant junketing, the speeches that “view with
alarm” conditions which statistics show to exist, and, having appointed
a committee to attend to the readjustment of this and that particular
phase of national life, passes resolutions, adjourns only to meet again
another year, and hear to what extent the committee has annoyed truly
businesslike statesmen. The Udine session was just such a one. Some of
the speeches made showed a ridiculous lack of knowledge of American
conditions. The proceedings lie before me as I write, and they certainly
are most futile. I am glad they are. Here, with occasional bracketed
insertions to lighten passages which are obscure even in a very liberal
translation, are the resolutions adopted:

On the topic of organization of the emigrants the insertion in “the
order of the day,” moved by “Congressman” Cabrini and carried, was:


“This assembly considers that a professional [formed by salaried
organizers] organization open to all laboring men, without political or
religious prejudice, is one of the very soundest methods of ameliorating
the economic conditions, both moral and intellectual, of the laboring
classes: holding that it is indispensable to the formation of a feeling
of fraternal cordiality in the country, the control of the temporary
emigration, the organization of the poor artisans; furthermore
contending that for the assistance of the emigrants it is necessary that
an organization of all Italian operatives consider the importance of all
this and pray the Honorable Secretary of Emigration to instruct at all
times, more than in the past, their leader’s actions.”


On the topic of educating the emigrant so that he may avoid being barred
because of illiteracy, and may not be victimized by the _patrone_
system, Professor Frescura introduced the following:


“All are in accord as to the necessity for instructing the emigrant. But
be it held that the programme presented by Professor Galeno [a noted
philanthropist who recommended that special schools with government-paid
teachers be established], though splendid, is too vast. It is far better
that there should come about a modification of those schools which we
already have.”


When a lawyer named Cossattini had amended to increase the pay of the
teachers in the districts where help was most needed, and “Congressman”
Giradini had amended that instruction vary according to the exigencies
of emigration, the Frescura resolution was passed.

In the matter of temporary emigration the Congress merely followed the
lead of Professor Levi-Morenos, who was a member also of the
International Agricultural Congress at Rome in May, 1903, in which it
was bewailed that German and other ships were sharing so much Italian
traffic back and forth between Italy and North and South America, and
that so many emigrants were returning broken in health and injured.
There was a lively row over contract labor of temporary emigrants. We
are accustomed to think that our very stringent contract-labor laws are
successfully excluding aliens under contract, but debate in the Congress
would lead one to think the laws had merely made the _patrones_ more
powerful by making “smuggled” alien labor more valuable to American
corporations.

In the matter of the “mediazione” of labor, or “bureauizing” it, as it
were, to avoid the necessity or opportunity for _patrones_, or, as they
are referred to by real sociologists of the first water on the other
side, _sfruttratori_, a lively debate brought out some sharp attacks on
government methods, Senator Bodio making a great speech and pushing to
acceptance the following:


“This Congress considers it is necessary to exercise in behalf of our
emigrant labor a convenient _mediazione_ for avoiding that going forth
blindly and that exposure to perfidious ‘grafters’ and innumerable
perils, so coming to a condition of things that produces an obnoxious
and foolish reduction of their pay, raises the animosity of their
fellow-craftsmen [of America], causes prohibitive laws by the
governments [American, etc.], acknowledging the purely negative
character of our insufficient information and the hurtful and too widely
public quality of the positive sort.

“It is our wish that a more useful and rational method of private
_mediazione_ of our labor, as already presaged in the acts of the
Secretary of Emigration of Udine, come to be followed by the secretaries
in similar offices in the chief places in the provinces, which action
should be co-ordinated by means of a National Federation centralized,
with branch sessions in each important centre of emigration in each
particular province.”


It was decided to hold another Congress in Rome in two years.

Barring Italian emigrants because they are illiterate will result merely
in their being given a superficial education in reading and writing to
enable them to pass our port examinations, and will not raise the
standard of their intelligence in the least; furthermore, what advantage
will the United States derive from their being taught to read and write
in Italian when the ability to read Italian newspapers in this country
will but serve to delay their thorough Americanization. It must not be
forgotten that the many Italian newspapers in this country are not
American any more in sympathy than in print. A thoroughly American
newspaper printed in Italian would be a blessing in both New York and
Boston.

The evening before the day we were to go aboard, we went for a trip
outside the city to get a little rest and recreation before encountering
the ordeal of going through the Capitaneria and embarking. I saw by the
roadside a party of emigrants from one of the villages back of Naples,
who were driving in with huge carts, and had stopped, possibly for the
night. They were the poorest that I had yet seen, and two old women,
whom I observed, I felt sure would be refused by the doctors on their
general physical condition.

On our way home we changed cars in the San Fernandino, and as we stood
waiting I noticed an evil-looking “bravo-like” sort of a chap eyeing me
closely, and I moved away from the remainder of the party in order to
see if he would approach me. I found I was right in my estimate of him.
He evidently took me for a returned emigrant with good American dollars
in my pocket, for he came over, walked along slowly behind me, slapped
me on the shoulder, and said in English,—

“Hello, John!”

“Che?” I answered, feigning stupidity and half-recognition as I turned
toward him.

Then he came out with the old, old, very old confidence game. He asked
me where he had seen me last. I surmised it was in Pittsburg; and he was
at once sure it was, and we chatted on in Italian, or rather I answered
merely enough to keep my lingual discrepancies from being observed. Just
then another of his sort came along and inquired the way to a near-by
street, showing a fifty-lire note, and saying he had been sent by a man
to deliver it, and was so unfamiliar with Naples he had lost his way.
Thief Number One winked at me and said in English:

“Come on, John, we get dat moneys.”

“How?” said I.

Thief Number Two was staring around at the buildings to give Thief
Number One full chance with me. This worthy made a quick sign of playing
cards. I saw the car approaching which I wanted our people to take, and
so, to end matters, I turned him “the sign of the thumb,”[1] a signal of
the freemasonry of thieves which I had picked up long before in the
Italian quarter in New York, and at it the words died on his lips. The
other man caught it too, and his eyes got very wide with surprise, then
suddenly narrowed and darkened. Both responded with lightning-like
signals that were so near to natural movements of the right hand that if
both had not done it I would not have known it was a signal, and when I
could not respond in kind they darted away as if from sudden death.

Footnote 1:

  The sign of the thumb is a quick motion of the hand by turning the
  whole hand palm up, fingers half closed and thumb out. It is a very
  general sign of suspicion of a third party or of confidence between
  two.

If I had gone with Number One in the first place to try to fleece Number
Two, there would have been another case for the Naples police of the
“mysterious disappearance” of a returned emigrant. I could not long have
concealed my nationality, and that might perhaps have saved me.



                              CHAPTER XIII
                        THE EMBARKATION PROCESS


In the morning we were up early, and after a very indifferent breakfast
got our hand luggage together and departed from the Albergo della Rosa.
At the door we were beset by fruit-venders with their long barrows, and
small tradesmen with all sorts of trifles that they convinced our people
were indispensable on the voyage; and I really believe that between the
lodging-house and the steamship-broker’s offices that portion of the
party which lagged behind where I could not control them bought forty or
fifty lire worth of stuff that was worse than useless, being merely a
burden and a care.

At the steamship-broker’s offices an enormous crowd was gathered. Two
thirds of them had no real occasion to go there, but if one member of a
party was not right in his papers, or imagined he was not, all the party
went with him to avoid being separated. We had some baggage checks to
see about. It seemed that there was not one hour of our journey from
Gualtieri to our American destination which was not embittered by the
mishaps of that baggage, and as I write, months after, some of it is
still missing. I have had thoughts about it that were deeper than the
greatest depths of profanity, and more far-reaching than the extent of
the combined English and Italian languages in blasphemous reference.

We passed down the Vico di Via Porta and along the Marina, a veritable
tumult of sailing-day traffic.

A highly picturesque _carreta_ loaded with emigrants and their friends
on their way to the Capitaneria from their country home came jogging by
and paused long enough to be kodaked.

Near the railroad tracks we came upon a group that was both laughable
and pathetic. It was one of the places of sudden and forced sale of
household effects of emigrants. Some of the foolish people will bring,
even from provinces more distant than the Campania, quantities of
household goods, furniture, etc., and their hearts are almost broken
when they find they cannot take it aboard. They have felt sure that
there must be some little corner on such a big ship in which they can
place a half-dozen two-hundred-years-old hand-made chairs, or a
five-foot bureau, or so small a matter as a table large enough to
accommodate a family of the usual Italian size. However, here was a pile
of it, heaped up indiscriminately, and about and on it were beggars who
had bargained to look after it, or owners who had decided to remain and
guard their own.

When we arrived within the iron enclosure of the Capitaneria we found
that the first thing to demand attention was of course the baggage. It
was already getting hot, and the large space of open, unsheltered dust
in front of the Capitaneria was strewn with luggage of all shapes and
sizes. There were huge wooden chests, bundles of bedclothes and
blankets, casks of wine, kegs of olives, and cheese and butter, and
quantities of small bags like my own. All such were already tumbling to
pieces, being but cloth and paper pasted over frail wooden frames, and
made on purpose to be sold to emigrants at ten times their value. Men
went about selling grass ropes with which to tie them up.

First of all we had to get the baggage together and separate the hand
baggage from the hold baggage; then the latter must all be opened up
before the American consular agent and inspected, numbered, and listed;
next inspected by the port health authorities; then received and
receipted for by the company’s agents; and what with wild efforts of the
emigrants to go backward through the process, to get shut trunks that
had been opened and shaken up in inspection, and to get through before
the steamer should leave, it was a scene to wring a man’s soul. If any
of our party had any trouble, they came to Antonio or to me with it.
Antonio went about holding his head as if he was afraid it would burst,
and all the emigrants about us kept an eye on the big ship; not due to
sail for hours yet, as if they were afraid to see it start off, like a
train, at any moment.

This section of the toil and turmoil being over at last, we found that
we had to carry our encumbrances to the south side of the Capitaneria
and embark on a small steamer which would take us over to the
fumigating-station, half a mile across the harbor, on the breakwater. It
was an hour before we were properly assembled at this embarkation point,
and the women were already almost succumbing to the dust and heat.

The little steamers were not much more than barges with donkey-engine
power in them, and emigrants and baggage were piled in till it seemed
they would swamp the craft. The men in charge of the boats knocked the
emigrants about in a shameful fashion, without regard to their being
men, women, or children, and the fear of “getting into trouble” caused
the emigrants to take it all without resentment.

I observed many emigrants who had come to the point for embarkation on
these little steamers, taking their baggage back without going to the
fumigating-station, and a little careful watching showed me that certain
furtive Neapolitans were directing them. The little groups paused a
moment just outside the door of the police station in the south side of
the Capitaneria and then hurried on around to the north side with the
baggage.

I purposely put myself in the way of one of the sneaking Neapolitans and
asked some question concerning the baggage.

“You do not need to go over there for fumigation and inspection if you
do not want to,” he said.

“Is that so? How can we avoid it?”

“I know some men who will put on the labels that they put on over there,
and no one will know you have not been there.”

I thought best to call Antonio to engineer the deal by which I hoped to
trap this gang, which I could see must be counterfeiting official seals.
He went aside with the Neapolitan, and soon turned away shaking his
head. I called to him and asked what was the trouble. He said the
Neapolitan wanted fifty lire for our eleven pieces of hand baggage. The
other had already gone. I told Antonio to offer him twenty and I would
pay it. Antonio offered fifteen and the Neapolitan accepted.

[Illustration: At the Doorway of the Capitaneria—Author’s Party on the
Quay]

Soon a man I had not seen before appeared and beckoned to us, and we
toiled with our loads over to the south side of the Capitaneria, set our
baggage down in a row against the building, and in an instant a cordon
of guards, four in number, was stationed about us. They came out of the
crowd like summoned spirits. No words passed. A fifth man appeared, and
with lightning-like rapidity affixed to the baggage, by lifting up the
tacked ends of straps, or prying open the tiny lead billets themselves,
little metal seals impressed with the seal of the Italian government. It
was the work of but a few seconds, interrupted once by the appearance of
a pompous uniformed police officer who walked right by the baggage
without noticing anything unusual in progress. The guards had given a
quick signal as he appeared, and the groups seemed most ordinary. A
sixth man appeared with a paste-brush and some little red labels. With
one movement only he pasted each piece of baggage, and a seventh man,
following him, affixed some large yellow labels bearing the United
States consular seal. The eighth man was the one I had first seen; he
appeared to be the _capo_ or chief of the gang.

Meanwhile I had made careful mental notes of the eight men. I was
determined to get some or all of them into the proper hands. As soon as
they were through they all hurried away, mingling with the crowd without
waiting for their pay. That seemed odd.

We carried our baggage around to the other side of the Capitaneria, and
there stood the eighth man, really the best dressed of the lot, and
signed to us to put our baggage inside a gate where two policemen were
on guard, without going to a stand where men in the service of the
United States consular service were pasting on genuine yellow labels on
such baggage as had been over to the fumigating-station.

As we passed our baggage through the gate a boy marked each piece with a
number, gave us a check, and it was all piled in rows on the ground,
inside the fence, under police guard.

Straightening up with a sigh of relief at having passed the danger line
so far as the fraudulent baggage was concerned, and free from our
encumbrances for a while at least, I found the eighth man at my elbow.
He said we must now go and be vaccinated. This was something I did not
care about, nor did my wife. We each needed both arms in good condition
for some time to come, but as I looked at my health ticket I saw there
was a space on the back where there must be the vaccination stamp.

“For a lire I will tell you how to keep from getting a sore arm,” said
the thief beside me. I gave him the lire.

“When the doctor vaccinates you, rub your shirt sleeve down over the two
scratched places quickly; then suck them. He will not stop you.”

In the middle of the open rough lot, very similar to half-ploughed
ground, which lay out beyond the Capitaneria fence, stood a small
building with a big door. Crowds of emigrants were struggling around it.
Venders of water-ice, lemons, fruit, etc., were in the midst of the
crowd, holding their stands with one hand to keep them from being
knocked over while they dealt out wares, made change, and talked with
the other.

When we had fought our way inside at last, the crowd that was let in
with us took seats all around the room in a row. Three doctors sat on a
raised dais at one side. One did the vaccinating, the others the
clerical end of the work. I believe they took turns. The moment we
entered, the vaccinating doctor caught sight of my wife, and, advancing
politely, addressed her in German. He thought her an Austrian, and
afterward confessed that he believed her to be a Moravian missionary. He
was a very amiable sort of fellow, with a fine education, both general
and professional, I should judge.

With a gallantry which might not have been so effusive if he had
suspected that she had a husband present, he vaccinated my wife first,
and she removed the virus with haste.

At the sight of the fierce-looking old man putting down the bared point
of steel on my wife’s bare arm the women shrieked and the children began
to cry. Little Anastasia made a break for the door, but a guard blocked
his exit. Others fought to get out. The other doctors reassured them;
and after much difficulty all in the room were vaccinated, every member
of our party following the advice of the thief. Concetta was as white as
milk from fright and horror.

Outside, the thief informed us that we would not be required to go back
to the Capitaneria just yet, but I did not believe him until I had asked
one of the guards, for I mistrusted the thief because he had not asked
for the pay for the job done by the gang. Now he asked us to leave the
vicinity of the Capitaneria and go to a nice place with him to get
something to eat. I refused, and then he demanded his money. If we had
gone with him he would have put up some game that would have wrung a few
lire from us at least, and, if we had been as stupid as his usual
victims, perhaps all that we had. He not only demanded the amount agreed
upon, but three times as much. He threatened to get us arrested for
having fraudulent labels on our baggage. Antonio was scared to the
rigidity of a poker, and all the others were trembling like leaves. But
his bluff was not equal to American _aplomb_, and in a few minutes he
went off with ten lire and no more. I knew we would have no trouble from
him, and was anxious to get rid of him so as to be able to communicate
with the American consul and secure the arrests I had in mind.

Even though the _capo_ had left us, I observed that we were duly
watched, and, try as I would, I could not get a message away unobserved.
I could not leave the party myself, nor could I send any of them, they
being strange to the city. I began to despair.

It was now time to return to the Capitaneria for the final examination,
and to go aboard if we passed. I knew I should see St. Ledger there, but
it might be too late.

We made our way in at the front entrance, and were compelled to stand
for a long time in the crowd. There the _capo_ joined us once more. He
had shed his ill humor as a snake sheds its skin. One of the boys
brought to me the report of a case in which I was interested. It was
that of Mrs. Vincenzo Tortora, a woman who had been in New York and
lived with her husband at No. 3 Elizabeth Street, and had returned to
visit her home in a village back of Naples. She had with her a
two-and-a-half-year old boy born in the United States. Some time before,
she had endeavored to return to the States, but the doctors had refused
to allow her to do so because the child had contracted trachoma. I saw
the woman and talked with her, and found that she had come down to
Naples to see the “underground men,” who had agreed to put her through
for 300 lire. They had told her to go back, that she could not go on a
North German Lloyd steamer, but must go by a certain line when they sent
for her. While I was talking to her the _capo_ came over, having heard
the boy who had reported the case to me telling Antonio about it, and he
assured the woman that if she had come twenty-four hours sooner he would
have sent her over on the _Prinzessin Irene_ for 100 lire.

I drew him into talk about the underground system for diseased
emigrants, and he said that there were doctors in Naples who could so
relieve trachoma in forty-eight hours that if the emigrant kept up the
treatment he or she could get by the doctors at New York or Boston. The
eyes would be worse than before after the treatment was stopped, and, if
continued too long, would cause blindness. Those emigrants who could not
be doctored up temporarily were sent through, however.

“How sent through?”

For answer a shrug of the shoulders and—“Oh, pay some money to some
people!” Always that evasive, baffling answer.

However, having heard of the system in Messina, on the steamer, and in
the city of Naples, and now seeing such palpable signs of it right in
the shelter of the Capitaneria, I began for the first time to believe
what I could scarcely credit before,—that the “gold-paved avenue”
leading into my beautiful, healthy home country, for the loathsomely and
contagiously diseased, did exist. I set on foot at that point some
investigations not yet ripe, and I may never harvest them; but if I do
not some one else will sooner or later “get on the inside.” I shall
later prove beyond a doubt that there is a door for diseased aliens.

Another flagrant abuse which I should mention here was that of supposed
bankers’ agents inducing emigrants to buy New York drafts for the safety
of their money. One man was going about cautioning the emigrants to
invest in drafts, and another followed him offering drafts. The first
man came up to me, after some of our boys had been approached by him and
had referred him to me.

“Who are you?” I asked, feigning stupidity.

“The chief of police,” he said,—and I laughed in his face.

However, many were caught in the scheme, among them a boy I had taken an
interest in, a lad named Salvatore Biajo, bound for St. Louis. He had
100 lire in gold and eight in silver, and bought a draft. The draft was
all right, being on the Bank of Naples, but the man who sold it to him,
instead of making it for 108 lire minus a few centesimi for discount,
put it in dollars, writing in only $19 when it should have been about
$21.35 according to Post & Flagg’s Ellis Island rate. The gang of
draft-sellers made two dollars off young Biajo, and if they made as much
off the hundreds of others who bought, they did a fine day’s business.

At last we were ready to move on, and, still accompanied by our thieving
friend, who evidently wanted to see me safe where he thought I could do
him no harm, and where I might pay him a little more for valuable
information, we entered the great north pen in the Capitaneria, where
emigrants in hundreds were standing, with their passports out, in a
solid mass held back by police, who peeled off the front row from right
to left, then back again; and we filed across the room to a door in the
corner where was the American staff, the port doctor, the surgeons on
duty for the United States Marine Hospital Corps, the ship’s surgeon,
and some others.

We were examined; our eyelids were turned up for trachoma; our heads
rubbed over for favus; any defective-looking parts of the body touched
for hidden disease; and every now and then a man, woman, or child would
be told to stand aside for further examination, and a wail would go up
from the group to which that one belonged. It was as if a touch of death
had come among them.

I saw one old man who had taken his wife and widowed daughter with her
two children, sold all his little property, and was starting for America
to open up a little business of some sort, pulled out of the line,
examined for some spinal trouble, and turned down. The family could not
go without him, so they were all turned back. There were two or three
other cases like that, which happened there before my eyes. Last year we
turned back over 20,000, including dependent relatives, at our ports and
borders. They should never have been allowed to leave home. That is
where our system is wrong. The emigrant should not be selected at the
port of arrival, nor at the port of embarkation, but by a small visiting
itinerant board that should come to him in his home community. We would
thus get none of the bad and lose none of the good, and a hundred
outrages would be avoided. The fuller argument I hope to give with the
light of facts yet to be told.

When we appeared at the bar of the police official who inspects all
passports, I made our presence known to Mr. St. Ledger, and after a word
from him to the official we were passed, went by the place where the
police were taking weapons from suspected bad men, and out into the
enclosure where our baggage was. Against the fence I saw the face of the
_capo_ of the gang of thieves and counterfeiters.

Under a pretext I got the party halted, re-entered the building,
followed by the perplexed St. Ledger, and, when inside, where the
thieves’ sentinels could not see, I unfolded the plot I had discovered.

In a word, before the ship sailed I had the pleasure of seeing the
_capo_ and two others in the hands of detectives, and the others would
have been captured had not the port doctor, the instant he was informed
of it, rushed up to me in full view outside in the baggage enclosure,
followed by half a dozen officers, and at the sight the thieves flew
like birds.

The port doctor refused to allow our baggage to go aboard, as it was
fraudulently passed; but in the end I got it into his dull head that if
he did as he threatened, kept us there to testify, and held our baggage
for evidence, he would not get any testimony from us; and when
sufficient consular pressure had been brought to bear to show him that
we had been parties to the fraud in order to catch the counterfeiters
and make the case, he relinquished his hold on us and our belongings. We
found sixty-eight other pieces of baggage, with the fraudulent labels
on, in the enclosure. They could be told by a slight imperfection in the
red labels. The yellow counterfeits of the United States seals were
perfect.

At last we were free to go aboard.



                              CHAPTER XIV
                               THE VOYAGE


Struggling up the steep incline of the gangplank, set from the masonry
of the quay of the Capitaneria of the port of Naples to the gap in the
railing of the after deck of the _Prinzessin Irene_, came hundreds of
men, women, and children, one and all weighted with luggage. Some
staggered under the weight of great cloth-wrapped bundles; others lugged
huge valises by the grass ropes which kept them from bursting open
because of their flimsy construction; and even the tots carried
fibre-baskets of fruit, straw-cased flasks of wine, cheese forms looped
with string, and small rush-bottomed chairs for deck sitting, bought on
the quay for twenty cents each, or home-made ones from the villages.

There were people of all the bloods of southern Europe, though the
southern Italian predominated in the shipload, just as they predominate
in every shipload from Mediterranean and even from French ports at
times. His nose and upper lip wrinkled up with too much sunlight, there
came an Oriental youth, nominally a Turk, probably a hybrid, and in
addition to a fez and a pair of yellow slippers his array was naught but
an embroidered jacket and a pair of voluminous silk trousers. I found
myself wondering what the temperature in New York would be on the 14th
of October, the day we were due.

If one looked carefully there were to be seen twenty different sorts of
costumes of the _contadini_. The Tuscan, the Trans-teveran, the
Calabrese, the Sicilian, in-denominate Swiss, Genovese, and so on; and
sprinkled thickly through the lot was a cheap attempt at the European
mode. The women were to be found wearing their head-dresses much more
frequently than the men. The male contingent seemed to have had enough
money to buy for each a new cap or hat. Here and there was to be seen an
emigrant attired in the best style of Rome, and, despite the heat of the
late afternoon, wearing a heavy cape overcoat. Some few were barefooted,
and others showed that they had come down to Naples dressed just as they
did at their every-day labor. Altogether it was a motley assemblage, and
nine babies out of every ten came aboard crying. I feel convinced that a
portion of these never ceased until the voyage was over.

The most notable feature was the ease with which one could detect that
every seventh or eighth person had been to America before, and now had
gathered around him a group of from two to thirty friends, relatives,
and neighbors, going over in his care, just as our party was going in
the care of Antonio Squadrito and myself. When the steerage passengers
had all been herded on, the late-coming first-cabin voyagers arrived,
and the crowd of friends outside the iron fence was admitted to the
quay.

It chanced that a piece of baggage belonging to Genino was missing, and
I was by the gangway aft, keeping an eye out for it, and ready to tip a
porter to bring it on. It was one of those which had been fraudulently
passed, and the doctor of the port was minded to hold it for evidence.
Just before I spied it, a woman standing just behind me said in English
so plainly that she knew I could hear, but never dreamed that I
understood:

“These dirty, repulsive creatures really seem to show traces of the
finer feelings; do you not think so, Agnes? See that old man,—yes, the
two other old men with him, down there on the dock, looking up at those
people over there. I should think it was a family going over. See them
wave their hands and throw kisses, and see the tears running down their
faces. As I told my husband when we came over, some of them are far less
heavy and embruted than one would think to look at them.”

I regret to say that woman is the daughter of a noted Philadelphia
clergyman, and her husband is an employer of many hundreds of these
seemingly “embruted” creatures.

As soon as ever I could be perfectly sure that all of our party from
Gualtieri-Sicamino and the newest additions to our group from Potenza,
Avellino, Scilla, etc., were all aboard, and that none of the baggage
had been left behind, I went forward through the alley-way that led
between the galley, bakery, blacksmith shop, and the cooks’ and petty
officers’ quarters, to the forward deck, where a terrific hubbub was in
progress. The thousand and more persons there, with their baggage heaped
about the deck, were all talking and all endeavoring to do something
which mad, wild impulse bade them attempt. It was turmoil and tumult,
and what made matters worse was that two of the forward hatches were
open, and late cargo was being heaved in as fast as six derricks could
do it. The slings with a ton or two in each would come swinging and
crashing over the side, and a half-dozen men by shouts, oaths, and blows
kept the bewildered emigrants from crossing the danger-spaces between
the ports in the railings and the hatches.

Our party was scattered all about. Little Nastasia I found perched in a
perilous nook in the shrouds, eating a musk-melon down to the hard skin,
as happy as he could be. My wife, knowing that the first thing to look
out for was the best sleeping location, had taken Camela Squadrito and
her little daughter Ina, and Concetta Fomica, below into the women’s
compartment, so Giovanni Pulejo informed me; and, leaving Antonio
Squadrito to round up the men and get them and their baggage below into
the second men’s compartment,—it being the best ventilated, I knew,—I
plunged below to take advantage of the confusion and secure a section of
beds for the women and children nearest amidships, on account of it
being steadier there in rough weather, and near the port-holes for air
and light.

I could barely get down the big double companion-way, so choked was it
with women, children, and baggage, and when I did succeed I found my
wife and her charges huddled on top of Camela’s bundles, waiting in
despair for order to come out of chaos. On every hand were screaming
babies and shouting women, with a few men going about as if mad; and at
the approaches to the beds were dirty, heavy-handed steerage stewards,
who refused to allow the women to take beds until they were sorted out
according to their numbers on the ship’s manifest and the numbers on
each bed. I saw at a glance that that would be a work of half the night,
and I asked him why they were so particular. He answered that “a company
inspector was aboard this trip.”

However, in a few minutes I observed that a Genovese approached him,
and, after a moment’s parley, gave him a five-lire note, and was allowed
with all his people to take the choice of the locations. Despite his
dread of the inspector, he could not resist my money also, and in five
minutes I had the women of our party in the most secluded corner, where
they could get both light and air, that was to be found in the place.

In a compartment from nine to ten feet high and having a space no larger
than six ordinary-sized rooms, were beds for 195 persons, and 214 women
and children occupied them. The ventilation was merely what was to be
had from the companion-way that opened into the alley-way, and not on
the deck, the few ports in the ship’s sides, and the scanty ventilating
shafts.

The beds were double-tiered affairs in blocks of from ten to twenty,
constructed of iron framework, with iron slats set in checker fashion to
support the burlap-covered bag of straw, grass, or waste which served as
a mattress. Pillows there were none, only cork-jacket life-preservers
stuck under one end of the pseudo-mattress to give the elevation of a
pillow. As each emigrant had passed through the alley-way to come
forward when boarding the ship, he or she had been given a blanket as
the storeroom door was passed. This blanket served the purpose of all
bedclothing, and any other use to which the emigrant might be forced to
put it. In material it was a mixture of wool, cotton, and jute, with the
latter predominant. In extent it was the length of a man’s body and a
little over a yard and a half wide. For such quarters and accommodations
as I have described the emigrant pays half the sum that would buy a
first-class passage. A comparison of the two classes shows where the
steamship company makes the most money.

As soon as ever the women were settled I made my way up and forward
through the mob to the men’s compartment, where I found my 183
sleeping-companions already busily engaged in stowing their hand
baggage, getting their new shoes off their blistered feet, changing
their fine raiment for old clothes for ship wear, on the advice of those
who had crossed the ocean before, or twanging away on guitar or mandolin
and thumping the tambourine.

The great ship was to have left her dock at five o’clock; but it was
after six, and cargo was still coming aboard. The sun filtering through
the red haze of the west turned the dull blue of Vesuvius to purple, and
the cream of the line of the city’s expanse was touched with pink. As I
came on deck into the babel after seeing all the men allotted into beds,
the scene about was one of extreme beauty. With the wonderfully colored
background I have mentioned, put hurrying small steamers and harbor
boats in the middle distance, and for the centre of the composition of
your picture behold the enormous bulk of the steamer, her decks black
with humanity, and clustered about the sides scores of bumboats selling
melons, _fico-indias_, ship-slippers, caps, mirrors, razors, brushes,
candy, wine, shawls, seasickness charms, toothache and stomach-ache
medicine, knives, pipes, and numberless other things which the
childish-minded emigrant imagines are necessary to life aboard ship.

At last the whistle blew, the American vice-consul went ashore with his
official papers, the lighters cast off, the ports in the railing were
closed, and the after gangplank withdrawn. Then the screw began its slow
thrashing, and soon we slid out by the light on the end of the
breakwater, leaving behind a dim vision of a city of rose and white
towers clasped in bold hills with artificed faces that heaved up and
rolled backward until lost in the bosom of the night rushing on from the
east.

The great ship attained its full speed, and we glided by Ischia, Capri,
the fortresses, the prisons, and the vineyards, till only a twinkling
light high up on a point told where the last land lay.

Never had the tumult on deck ceased. Singing, crying, laughing,
quarrelling, complaining of hunger, the fact that they were at last off
for America seemed to rouse in all a desire to say something or make a
noise. Some few women who fancied that already they were seasick, though
the ship merely quivered now and then from the motion of the screw, sat
about with their heads on their husbands’ shoulders.

Now a greater stir was brought about by the ringing of the bell that
announced supper for the steerage. The majority of the emigrants had had
but a hasty bite at breakfast-time twelve hours before, and, being
healthy and hearty, were ravenously hungry.

From the steerage galley, which was on the level of the main deck
forward under the fo’c’s’le head, the cooks and stewards began to lug
great tanks of food and baskets of bread. These they lined up in a
narrow passage-way between the hatch and the bulkhead of the galley. The
tanks were huge tinned things holding about twenty-five gallons each,
and from the first there was ladled out macaroni Neapolitan, from the
next chunks of beef the size of one’s fist, from the next red wine, and
then came the bread-baskets and the boiled-potato tank.

As we had come aboard and got the blankets, as I have told, we were each
handed a red card bearing an inscription that it was “Good for One
Ration,” just as on the _Lahn_, and advised that the passengers form
themselves into groups of six and elect a _capo di rancio_, who should
manage the mess, and would, when elected and given the six ration cards
of his group, be issued a two-gallon pan and a gallon flask-bucket for
coffee or wine. When the blanket was enrolled, each person found inside
a fork, spoon, pint tin cup, and a flaring six-inch-wide, two-inch-deep
pan out of which to eat, identical with those on the _Lahn_.

The plan, or rather the ship’s company’s ideal of it, is that the _capo
di rancio_ shall take the big pan and the bucket, get the dinner and the
drinkables, and distribute the portions to his group. But it works out
that one or two assistants are needed to carry the bread if it is not
desired to soak it by dropping it into the mess in the pan, and a woman
with a baby in her arms cannot very well carry a full pan and a full
bucket. When the meal is over, some one of the group is supposed to
collect the tin utensils from whatever part of the steerage quarters the
group has chosen to eat its meal in for that time, take them to a
wash-room under the fo’c’s’le head, where there are several tanks with
running water, and wash them ready for the next time. But the crowd in
the wash-room after meals was so great that about one third of the
people chose to rinse off the things with a dash of drinking-water;
others never washed their cups and pans; and still others waited till
the next meal and then washed their kit just before they ate. When I say
that the water supplied for washing kits was raw sea water and cold at
that, any housewife will understand instantly why none of the cups,
pans, spoons, or forks were clean and fit for use after the first meal,
if they were even then. Yet the emigrant pays half the first-cabin rate
for fighting for his food, serving it himself, and washing his own
dishes.

This night we had little trouble, for Antonio and I understood the order
about the groups of six, and we did everything in order; but the mob was
two hours in getting its supper satisfactorily, by which time that
portion of it which had been hot was unfit to eat.

Just before the bell was rung there came down from the boat deck a trim
young man in the uniform of an Italian naval officer, and as he passed
me I saw that he was of surgeon’s rank and knew he was Dr. Piazza, the
surgeon detailed by the government to the _Prinzessin Irene_ to look
after the welfare of the emigrants, just as an Italian naval doctor
travels on every emigrant ship leaving Italian ports. The Italian
government does about twenty times as much for the emigrants as the
United States, yet the condition of health and finance in which they
arrive in America is of concern here and not in Italy, for they become a
part of us. It is to our interests that they should not be oppressed,
underfed, robbed, or given unsanitary treatment.

The young officer went to the door of the galley. The chief steerage
cook threw a clean towel over the serving-board that barred it, and on
it set clean china dishes, into which the doctor put portions of each
sort of food, and ate enough to test the quality. He drank a little of
the wine. Every meal thereafter he did the same thing. I had had the
opportunity of watching the Italian doctor on the _Lahn_ on the voyage
to Italy, and I must say that both men did their work in a most
commendable manner. As to the food itself, it was in its quality as good
as the average Italian gets at home, but the manner in which it was
messed into one heap in the big pan was nothing short of nauseating.
Every pound of food and ounce of drink is regulated by Italian law, both
as to amount per day and proportion of kind and variety. If there was a
failure to live up to the law on the _Lahn_ and _Prinzessin Irene_, it
was in the wine and fish.

Giovanni Pulejo was chosen _capo di rancio_ of our family group, and
Nicola Curro, the little cabinet-maker and trombonist, headed the one in
which were Nunzio Giunta, Gaetano Mullura, and the other
Gualtieri-Sicamino and Socosa boys, while Giuseppe Rota from Avellino,
who had joined us at Naples, headed a third group. The others were
divided among groups of other friends.

On the occasion of this first meal the emigrants began doing what is the
bane of life in the steerage; throwing the refuse from their meal on the
deck instead of over the side or into the scuppers. It being the first
night out of port, the deck watch was too busy securing derricks,
storing mooring-gear, and putting the ship to rights, to scrub the deck
with hose and soogey-mougie when supper was over, so that I remember
traversing the main deck on the port side about eleven o’clock that
night much as I would cross a slippery glacier, for it was covered with
a layer of unctuous filth that made footing very uncertain.

It was an extremely hot night, and, though I was weary almost to
exhaustion, the air in the crowded compartment was so foul that I could
not sleep. The men and boys about me lay for the most part like logs,
hats, coats, and shoes off, and no more, sleeping the sleep of the
ineffably tired. I rolled and tossed on the hard pallet till at last I
went on deck, and, seeking a deeply shaded corner on a hatch, I sat
watching the sea and the night. Possibly twenty minutes had passed when
from the mouth of the alley-way that led to the companion-way of the
women’s compartment a figure emerged and made its way forward
cautiously; for after certain hours all steerage passengers are supposed
to be below decks. As the figure came near me, I saw that it was my
wife. She, too, had been unable to breathe the air below, and had stolen
up, bringing with her a heavy shawl. She said the babies in her
compartment were crying in relays of six, and that she had had a grand
row with the women of the group who occupied the section of bunks next
to the women of our party.

The trouble arose over the filthy habits of the other women. They were
Neapolitans of the lowest class, and when they were eating their supper
had chosen to portion it out while they sat in their bunks, and the
result was that bits of macaroni, meat, and potatoes were scattered all
over their beds, the beds of their neighbors, and on the floor. The
other women who were minded to be cleanly made no protest, merely
looking askance, but my wife interposed. She brought down a storm of
Neapolitan vituperation on her head.

The climax came when the Neapolitans, too lazy to take their dishes up
on deck to wash them, rinsed them with a cupful of drinking-water in bed
and then endeavored to pour water and pertaining refuse out of the
port-hole. A little girl of eleven was engineering the job, and,
regardless of the fact that her shoes were filthy with deck slime, used
my wife’s bed as a step to climb up to the port-hole, where, failing to
get all the water and waste outside, she allowed the remainder to spill
inside, down the wall and on the edges of the two nearest beds. I do not
know just what happened, but I have an adequate fancy, and at least
there was no more dish-washing or filth-spilling in that corner of the
compartment.

Just as we had observed on the _Lahn_, the men of the emigrants were
reasonably cleanly, as were also about two thirds of the women; but the
other third were so grossly dirty that they littered every place they
passed in a way that the sailors and stewards would not have been able
to keep pace with even had they put forth their best efforts, which they
certainly did not. All of the other steerage passengers, a majority by
far, had to submit to the reign of uncleanliness.

I have not told the worst by any means. It could not be put in print.
The remedy for the whole matter is to pack fewer people in the same
ship’s space, and a regular service of food at tables. The chief
stewards of ships will cry, “How can 1,000 or 1,500 people be served at
tables?” A perfect argument; but no such number should ever be carried.
If the English lines going out to the Cape and Australia can give closed
cabins with served meals for a proportionately less third-class rate
than the Transatlantic lines, the big emigrant-carriers can do it, and
should be forced to give up a part of their profits, which are enormous,
in order that sanitary conditions at least may prevail.

It was nearing morning when we were found by the deck watch and driven
below. The air was far worse than when I had gone up, but in about half
an hour the wind shifted from the quarter to the bow and of course to
its velocity was added that of the ship, so that a fair draught was set
going below decks, and I fell asleep.

The noise made by the men and boys about awoke me in little more than an
hour later, and the second day of the voyage was begun.



                               CHAPTER XV
                         THE VOYAGE—_Continued_


It was a gray threatening morning when I came on deck. The boys of our
party came up one by one, and were a very ill-pleased lot indeed when
they found that if they wished to wash even their faces and hands they
must use the salt water in the scullery-rooms forward, or else be
content with half a tin cupful of drinking-water, for at the
drinking-water taps a sailor was constantly stationed to prevent any one
from taking more than was enough for drinking. In a short while, though,
they learned to go often for a drink during the day, and save what they
did not want in empty wine-bottles, unused flask-buckets, etc., and with
care they secured enough for facial ablutions each morning. As for those
fellow-passengers who were not overfond of washing, the scarcity of
water was seized as an excuse for not washing at all.

About eight o’clock the steerage cooks and stewards served “biscuits”
and coffee. The latter was what might be expected. The first named was a
disk of dough, three quarters of an inch thick, and a hand’s length
broad. It was as hard as a landlord’s heart, and as tasteless as a bit
of rag carpet. The worst of it was that about half the biscuits were
moldy. About some 3,000 were served out, and for the next half hour
disks went sailing high in the air over the sides and into the sea.
Three times on the voyage were the biscuits moldy: considered from the
Egan War Department commissary standpoint that is not bad.

[Illustration: MID-VOYAGE SCENES
Mora—Syrian Jews—Prostrated by the Swell—Children Escaping Seasickness]

I gathered our party in the lee of No. 2 hatch, and we breakfasted on
food from the store brought from home, eked out with the coffee and the
two sound biscuits we received. We used a corkscrew to separate the
biscuit into edible fragments.

After breakfast the crowds on deck took to mirth and song. Mouth-organs,
tambourines, and accordions were produced, and it became evident that it
would take a great deal to long repress the resilient Italian spirit.
Before an hour had passed every man who had a set of lotto cards and
numbered disks had started a game in some corner sheltered from the
wind. A real Gulf of Lyons blow was coming on slowly, and I knew a few
hours would see an end of the merriment. So far the ship was as steady
as a dead man’s stare.

The dinner-bell rang, and the crowd, since it was happy, very, very
hungry, and not at all sea-wise, ate to repletion of the fare, which was
about the same as that of supper the night before, only being ladled out
with more care. I warned our people that since they were where they
were, and not engaged in their usual toil and exercise, and since it was
likely to be rough, they should not eat very much. All obeyed except
Camela, Concetta, Ina, and little Nastasia. They ate till the big pan
was empty.

After the meal Ina quizzed me as to why the ship floated.

“What does it sit on while it runs along?”

“The water.”

“Just water? No rails?”

“No. It is water and nothing else for half a mile down.”

She thought soberly a minute, and then her big eyes brightened.

“Oh, I know why there are so many children on the ship. If they were all
big folks they would be so heavy they would make it sink, wouldn’t
they?”

In an hour the sea increased from a small jubble to a short swell, and
the crowds on deck began to grow silent. As my wife and I walked about
watching faces growing pale, it was a study indeed. Those who have known
the first throes of seasickness will understand why these poor people
grew sorely afraid. If it had not been for the jesting of those who had
crossed before, or who were inured to a reeling deck, they would have
been almost panic-stricken. Our party, all except Nunzio Giunta, my
wife, and myself, wilted before the wave.

In fifteen minutes two thirds of the crowd had hurried below, and the
other third were a sight to behold. I made Camela and Concetta, who were
deathly sick as a result of their over-indulgence at dinner, stay up in
the rushing air until both were unable to hold up their heads.
Concetta’s heart-action was very bad, and it seemed best to get her to
bed, so Nunzio Giunta shouldered one and I the other, and though the
ship was rolling savagely by this time we managed to get them aft and
below. As I came back after Ina, she was crying beside Antonio, who was
very sick indeed.

“What is the matter, Ina?” I said.

“O, Uncle Berto, I’m all sicked, and I’m going to die, ‘n’ they’ll throw
me overboard, ‘n’ I’ll never see Giuseppe” [her father].

For the emigrants it was a frightful afternoon, and the compartments
below and the deck above were in a condition that is beyond the scope of
any tale.

At supper time about one sixth of the crowd lined up to get rations. So
many of the _capo di rancio_ phalanx were sick that nearly all of those
who did draw rations did it on borrowed tickets. I saw one man get the
full portion for six. The others of his group were unable to touch a
mouthful, so he sat down in a corner out of the wind and ate every
particle. It was a gastronomic feat worthy of record.

The worst feature of this stormy afternoon was that the ship’s officers
chose it as the time to deliver to the emigrants the passports which had
been taken from them for inspection by the police in the Capitaneria at
Naples. It was also made the occasion of the “counting of noses,” when
it was made sure that Caterina Fancetti No. 214, and Giovanni Masuolo
No. 468, etc., were duly aboard. Since the United States authorities
exact a fine of $200 from any ship which delivers less emigrants to the
Ellis Island or other port authorities than the ship’s manifest shows to
have been aboard, the ship’s people take great care that for every
number and name they have on the manifest there is an emigrant to
deliver.

This would have been all well and proper the next day, for instance, but
this afternoon one half of the steerage passengers were so wretchedly
sick that it was nothing short of cruelty to compel them to get up out
of their beds and come up on deck, where they were passed in line before
the officers, and the passports were delivered as names and numbers were
answered and checked off.

Nunzio Giunta, who had no qualm of seasickness, attended to getting
Antonio and the men and boys up, while I went below for the women. They
were in a condition that was truly pitiable. Concetta’s white face had a
purple tinge in it, and she lay gasping for breath; her heart-action
really dangerous. Camela could scarcely lift her head. The steerage
stewards in their dirt-smeared working rigs were in the compartment,
pushing, shoving, jerking, and cursing the women and children to get
them out and up the companion-way. The result of their efforts was to
clear the place of those who were not too sick to go readily, but the
large number that remained in bed were not given any great length of
respite. One of the stewards came around with a stick, a piece of pine
box, rapped on the sides of the bunk, and poked them with it, and soon
they were herded at the foot of the steps, where the greater number of
them sank down in a heap, unable to attempt to force their way up
through those who had dropped down on the stairs. My wife and I
contrived to get Camela and Concetta up the companion-way. The others
were able to help themselves. In the alley-way we found a state of
things of which it is as revolting to write as it is to read. There was
not a spot on which it was fit to step, yet here was jammed a mass of
sick women and children, many of them sunk down against the wall. The
officers were not yet through with the people coming up from the next
compartment forward, and so two sailors were guarding the door to
prevent any more women coming out. I contrived to work Concetta through
to the door, and just outside the portal, in order that she might get
the air, and in so doing placed some ten feet between my wife and
myself.

Just then there came along one of the steerage cooks, bearing a big can
of supplies from the storeroom. There was no room for him to pass in the
alley-way. He cried out in German for the people to make way for him,
but of course they did not understand, and were too closely packed to do
so even if they had. He was a big fellow of a very brutal type, and when
he found that the path was not cleared he turned his shoulder, drew
back, and drove his shoulder into the mass of women and children. I saw
what he was going to do, but could not reach him. Women with babies in
their arms, children deep down in the press of their elders, were
knocked back in a heap. One of the women he struck was my wife. Quick as
a flash, she recovered herself and drove a blow straight from the
shoulder, landing under his left ear. One of the sailors from the
outside started in, but I blocked him. A more surprised man than that
steerage cook it would be difficult to imagine. He went on about his
business very meekly. The women around gazed at my wife in awe, and one
of them asked Camela later what manner of woman she was to imperil her
chances for admission to the United States by striking one in authority.

We had chosen the _Prinzessin Irene_ because she is the largest and best
emigrant-carrying ship in the trade, and the line to which she belongs
stands toward the front among the others in its treatment of the
third-class passengers. People who have crossed many times and know all
the ins and outs of steerage travel prefer the _Lahn_ or the _Prinzessin
Irene_, so that we knew we should find the minimum of abuse in her. What
must the conditions be in ships in the northern trade and in the cheaper
ships running from Mediterranean ports. Almost the only time that the
third-class people were treated as passengers was at the time of
planking down their 200 lire. The men of the crew were inclined to treat
them as inferior beings, to be knocked and pushed about, and I regret to
say they took their cue from their immediate superiors.

The third day of the voyage was Sunday, and the weather was improving.
The seasick people began to think life worth clinging to. The _capo di
rancio_ crowd at dinner was nearly the full size. My wife looked once at
the mixture in the big pan and then turned away. Though I knew what the
matter was I asked her.

“I was just thinking how far, how very far it is to Martin’s,” she said
with a tremble in her voice.

Knowing full well that there are always secret channels on board a ship
for the getting of food if one has money, I had been trying every
steward, cook, page, etc., I could corner, and offering ridiculous
prices for something to eat. Not that the food for the steerage was so
bad we could not eat it. We had been eating it, and we expected to
continue to eat it; but we wanted a supply to fill in with on those
occasions when it was not what we wanted. When I sailed as a member of
the crew in ships of the Hamburg-American and American lines, a very
good source of revenue to the cooks and stewards was the secret sale of
food to the third-class passengers who had money. On the _Lahn_ we had
been able to buy everything we wished. The trouble on the _Prinzessin
Irene_ on this voyage was that the inspector was aboard. At last,
however, I found a petty officer who had a cabin down the alley-way, and
I “persuaded” him. The result was a sudden and gracious increase in our
comforts in all that one could expect in the steerage. The only drawback
was the necessity for extreme care in coming and going.

[Illustration: Half a Dozen Races on Common Ground—His Brothcup—The
Immigrant Madonna]

In the Sunday afternoon chatting around deck, where the people sat on
the hatches, the deck, the winches, in fact, anywhere they could get,
there being no place in the entire steerage section that was distinctly
intended for sitting down, I found numbers of people who had squeezed
through the examination at Naples by little hooks and crooks.

Monday morning we were nearing Gibraltar. The peaked rock rose up out of
the clouds in the west nearly an hour before we slid around Europa Point
and came to anchor with the fortress frowning upon us and British
warships lying all about. The tender of the company steamed out at once,
bringing passengers and mail, and into the steerage there came quite a
number of Spaniards, Portuguese, a Moor or two, etc. The bumboat-men
swarmed about the ship on both sides, and came up and over the rail like
monkeys, hauling up stuff from their boats in baskets.

By the knuckles of Mars! What a joy to get good Dutch, Havana, and
Egyptian tobacco once more. In Italy the government so monopolizes the
sale of tobacco that the demand for good cigars and pipe tobacco is very
slight; therefore to find anything fit to smoke in a strange city is
like hunting up lost heirs. When one does get a good Havana cigar in
Rome it is as dry as an undertaker’s eye.

In addition to tobacco we laid in here a good supply of fruit and nuts,
and if it had not been for our very limited baggage could have driven
some fine bargains in smuggled goods.

While we lay there taking in the last lighter-loads of freight, the
hatches were open and the crew at work on deck, so that, with all the
emigrants up from the compartments to see the sights, the space forward
of the hurricane deck was one seething, jostling mass of people. I
improved the opportunity to get my kodak out while the sun was bright
and the ship still, and had climbed up on a refrigerator by the forward
rail of the hurricane deck, and with my camera hidden was waiting my
chance to get a group without having them all looking at the lens. I had
given out my occupation as photographer to explain to the ship’s people
and my fellow-passengers my possession and use of a camera. They are not
often seen in the steerage. As I stood there two men and two women from
among the first-class passengers came by and paused at the rail to look
down on the steerage crowd. The one man, a well-fed elderly person, I
have since ascertained is an influential Western banker and politician.
One woman is his wife, the other woman a friend of the first, while the
other man is an architect of some repute.

Said Mrs. Banker: “Dear me, just see all those children. What dirty
little imps they are.”

A tin-cupful of drinking-water to cleanse a family of faces!

Answered Mrs. Banker’s friend: “Oh, terrible to think of admitting such
people wholesale into the United States. Just look at the slovenly
dresses of those women, wrinkled and dirty—ugh.”

Sleeping in one’s skirts does not improve their freshness!

“Yes, yes,” observed the architect, “there ought to be a stop put to it:
they are a menace to our civilization.”

His grandfather came over to Montreal in the coop of a French
sailing-ship about 1840.

“These Italians are the worst of the lot. They are a dangerous element.
Stick a knife in you in a minute. Look at that villainous-looking fellow
standing right here on this box, smoking a cigar.”

The Wise and Superior Four turned their eyes on me, for it was I the
banker meant. He went on.

“There is a fair sample of your Mafia member. Criminal? Why, criminal
instinct is written in every line of his head and face. See the bravado
in the way he holds his shoulders and the nasty look in his uneasy eyes.
I’ll bet he has a bad record a yard long behind him in Italy, and he
will double the length of it in America. By George, I should hate to
meet that man at night in a lonesome spot.”

I could not resist the temptation. I stepped over to the other end of
the box, within a few feet of him, looked up, and said:

“Pardon me; but you are one of the fools who are not safe from their own
errors, even in a daylight throng.”

At noon I had an opportunity for which I had been waiting: fine, high
sunlight on a dinner crowd, and the purser in charge.

This man was a huge fellow, tall and heavy, as powerful as an ox, and
one would have thought the two silver stripes on his sleeve were the
decorations of a Czar. At every meal, when he superintended the ladling
out to the _capo di rancio_ corps and their helpers, he had taken upon
himself the handling of the crowd. He had no set system of lining them
up as the men on the _Lahn_ had, but would pick out groups of three and
four as the fancy occurred to him and pass them on to the servers,
pouring forth a flood of directions, commands, and oaths in German which
of course no one but his own men understood. His use of Italian seemed
to be limited to “Avanti! Avanti!” which seemed to mean to him, “Hurry
up!” “Come on!” “Stand back there!” “Let me pass!” “That is enough!”
“Come back here!” “Don’t push!”—and forty other things. The crowd in the
rear always pushed the front ranks up nearer the entrance to the “Lane
of Food,” as the Italians dubbed it, and this seemed to irritate the
Czar immeasurably. Forgetting that it was all the fault of his lack of
system and constant change of method, he would charge into the press
like an angry bull, and clear a lane through them by hurling his own
huge bulk into the mass of human beings.

The unfortunate feature of this was that the Italians, with their
natural deference, allowed the women and children who were doing _capo
di rancio_ duty to have the foremost places. I had seen him hurl about
women with babies in their arms, and children clinging to their skirts,
as if they were mere bundles of rags, and I determined that he should be
reckoned with, and, as evidence, sought a photograph of one of his
charges in the very act.

Taking a position on the top after rail of the fo’c’s’le head on the
port side, I set the shutter at one fifteenth of a second and gave the
diaphragm a sixteen opening. One of the pictures I took, which is
herewith reproduced, tells its own story.

As we sailed away from Gibraltar on a smooth sea, the steerage, well-fed
on bumboat delicacies, gathered on the main deck and fo’c’s’le head, and
games of lotto, cards, and mora, the guessing game, were soon in
progress on every hand. Here and there groups were singing or struggling
with a few simple sentences in English. Gaetano Mullura and several of
the boys were gathered about my wife, and she was teaching them how to
count money and ask for something to eat, two of the essentials in
America. Gaetano and Felicio Pulejo saved one sentence mass of new
information: “Give me some bread, please,”—but lost the “some,” the
“please,” and the expression in the shuffle. All during the voyage they
went about observing to their admiring fellow-passengers:

[Illustration: LIFE ABOARD THE _PRINZESSIN IRENE_
Men’s Sleeping-quarters—Ladling out Food—The Purser Hurling Passengers
About—On the Fo’c’s’l-head]

“Gifa me bret,” or “Gifa me meat.”

There were scores of musical instruments among the steerage people, and
an impromptu band was gotten up. It might have been worse.

The next morning all the steerage passengers were sent below after
breakfast, and allowed to stay for two hours in the reeking crowded
compartments, while the health inspection was made by the ship’s doctor
as prescribed by law. The doctor and an officer stood by each
companion-way in turn, and as the men and boys, then the women and
children, poured up, a steward punched their health tickets, the same
which bore the name, ship’s manifest number, vaccination stamp, and
sheet of manifest letter. It was the second time this was done, and we
had been four days at sea.

The next day was very rough, and the following one a beautiful season in
which we spent the greater portion of the time watching the picturesque
Azores as we glided along so close to the shores that the people at
their work in the vineyards and gardens were very plainly seen. All
about were little fishing-boats with half-naked boatmen who stood up and
shouted to us. There was another medical inspection that day.

The next day, the 9th of October, marked a heavy gale, and, despite the
size of the ship, quite a bit of water came aboard. The decks were
almost deserted, and wherever the seasick women and children were
gathered they were for the most part prostrated on the planks. Below
decks there were music and song close by where fellow-passengers were in
terrible suffering from vaccination and seasickness. Fortunately the
high wind ventilated the compartments sufficiently to make them
bearable. I found my left arm beginning to swell and throb, and by
midnight it was in very bad condition. The little trick of rubbing off
the virus in Naples had failed to work, because I was so anxious to get
a photograph that I had done it carelessly.

In my talks with the men below, this day, I found a man who has two
wives, one in Italy and one in America, and did not seem to consider any
very great harm done. He looked at the matter from no standpoint of
sentiment, merely from one that was utterly practical. In investigations
since that time I have found that there are many Italians in America who
have wives and families on both sides of the water, and if there are
many Italians there are more Jews and Germans.

I also found a man who lives in Pittsburg, who had just been home to
Messina to get himself a wife. His family sent him one from home, but he
went down to Ellis Island to meet her, and was informed that he must
marry her then and there before she could be admitted. Since the
photograph of her that had been sent him for approval was taken when she
was fourteen, and she had changed very much at twenty, he fled the place
and allowed the Ellis Island authorities to deport her. Now he had gone
home and married her younger sister. He is employed by the Pennsylvania
Railroad on a section job at $45 a month and perquisites, and had
arranged while in Messina for ten men to leave on the _Liguria_, the
next ship sailing. They were “recommended” to friends in Pittsburg, but
he had paid their fare and had promised them work. He had been twelve
years in the country. Thus is the contract-labor law evaded.

Some time this day Guiseppe Rota had stolen from him seventy lire, money
which it was most desirable for him to have on entering the United
States, as proving him not likely to become a public charge, and he was
wild with the fear of being sent back. I assured him that I would take
care of him, but from that hour he followed me everywhere I went, like a
big Newfoundland dog, and until the moment I delivered him into the
hands of his friends in New Jersey he was a most unhappy mortal.

The night was extremely stormy, and the tons of water that fell on deck
shook the ship so much that few of the emigrants slept. A priest who was
voyaging in the steerage in mufti sat up with a group of friends in a
corner, praying, and all the men of our party alternately moaned and
prayed. The pain in my arm inspired me to anything but words indicative
of a religious state of mind.

About two o’clock the Italian _commissario_, the naval surgeon, came
down and made an inspection. He found five men very sick in one corner,
and discovered a drain there which a lazy steward had allowed to become
choked. The corner was worse than a pigpen, and some of the things that
_commissario_ said and did raised him higher in my esteem than ever.

In the morning I was myself in such a state that I made my way down at
ten o’clock to the hospital, the companion-way of which lay just abaft
that leading to the women’s compartment. There the Italian _commissario_
had over fifty sick men, women, and children awaiting his care. I waited
till the last, in order to observe the manner of handling the patients.
It was expeditious, thorough, and gentle, and all of the patients whom I
questioned later said that the German doctor was not to be compared with
Dr. Piazza.



                              CHAPTER XVI
                            NEARING THE GATE


Sunday fell on the 11th, and it was a pleasant day till afternoon, when
it began to get rough. The ship’s band was sent forward to play on the
hurricane deck, in order to cheer up the emigrants, many of whom were
beginning to look very badly, and to endeavor to brace them up till port
could be reached; for it is a great saving to the company to take as
many passengers as possible to Ellis Island in a good state of health.

On this day occurred another medical inspection; and to make all of the
health tickets appear to have been properly punched as each passenger
was inspected day by day, a steward whom I had heard called Beppo went
about and carefully punched any vacant spaces. As neither my wife nor
myself had gone by for the last three of the four health inspections,
having missed the call by being busy eating in the petty officer’s
cubby, Beppo punched out the full twelve days of the voyage at one
punching. When those tickets were presented at Ellis Island there was
nothing to show that their bearers had not been properly inspected each
day.

That night Beppo and two other stewards, who were on watch below, went
into the women’s compartment and drank some wine that had been brought
aboard by a Spanish woman of uncertain character, and in a short while a
small orgie was in progress. About six persons participated. The other
women finally roused to protest, and the stewards addressed them in
language that is not fit to be stated here, and continued until they
were ready to quit.

In the morning the warmth of the Gulf Stream began to stir the chilled
blood of all hands, and the first sail sighted since the Azores caused
the poor emigrants to rejoice, as it was a token that they were nearing
America. In a slow way the Italian provincial songs which had prevailed
changed to American airs, attempted by those who had been in the States.
Everybody seemed happier than they had been for days, and first-cabin
passengers began to appear in numbers on the forward end of the
hurricane deck. Several young women had brought out little bundles of
delicacies, candy, oranges, apples, etc., and were dropping them over
the rail to the emigrant children below. This kindly occupation was
observed by the first officer, who was on the bridge, and he came down
in haste and rebuked the first-cabin young women with severity, and sent
the ship’s interpreter down to hector the emigrant children and their
mothers. I wonder what he would have said had he known the quantities of
first-cabin fare that was being smuggled to emigrants by the stewards
and cooks every day.

That night we saw Nantucket light, and from that on my wife and I
counted the hours. We arrived too late the night of the 13th to go up
the harbor, and so proceeded slowly so as to reach Quarantine by eight
o’clock on the morning of the 14th.

The night before, the joy among the emigrants that they were reaching
the Promised Land was pitiful to see, mingled as it was with the
terrible dread of being debarred.

There was little sleeping all night. About twelve o’clock the women woke
up the sleeping children, opened their packs, and took out finery on top
of finery, and began to array the little ones to meet their fathers. My
wife pleaded with Camela to stay in her bunk and wait for daylight at
least, but Camela could not understand why she should wait, and at three
o’clock little Ina was brought up on deck arrayed in her very best, and
as clean as her mother could make her with a small bottle of water and a
skirt combination wash-rag and towel.

By six o’clock all the baggage in the compartments had been hauled out
and up on deck, and the hundreds of emigrants were gathered there, many
trying to shave, others struggling for water in which to wash, and
mothers who had been unable to dress their children to their
satisfaction in the cramped quarters below were doing the job all over
again, despite the chill air.

Happy, excited, enthusiastic as they were, there was still that dread
among the people of the “Batteria,” the name used to sum up all that
pertains to Ellis Island. I saw more than one man with a little slip of
notes in his hand carefully rehearsing his group in all that they were
to say when they came up for examination, and by listening here and
there I found that hundreds of useless lies were in preparation. Many,
many persons whose entry into the country would be in no way hindered by
even the strictest enforcement of the letter of the emigration laws,
were trembling in their shoes, and preparing to evade or defeat the
purpose of questions which they had heard would be put to them.

Some of the people who had confided in me came around even two or three
times to ask me whether I thought they looked at all “sick in the eyes.”
One woman who fancied that her baby had trachoma gorged the child all
that day in an effort to get it asleep and keep it asleep, so that the
doctor should pass it without examining it, as she was prepared to
protest against its being waked up.

More than once I heard leaders of groups telling men:

“Remember, you have got no work and you paid your own way.”

“Oh, but they will not let me in if they think I have no work and will
have no money to keep my family from charity,” protested one fellow whom
I knew was under promise of work.

“That makes no difference; you are a jackass not to do as I tell you;
don’t you think I know my business?” was the answer he received.

One man whom I knew to be of independent means and in no wise an unfit
person under the law to be admitted was going about in a very nervous
state, his hand constantly on some papers in his breast pocket. I had
talked with him before, and he had told me he had had a store in
Salerno. Now I approached him and drew him into conversation about the
land already in sight, and before long he drew out the papers he had in
his pocket. In addition to his passport and his regular ticket of health
he had the naturalization papers of a full-fledged American citizen. The
name on them was not the name on his ticket of health, and which would
be the same on the ship’s manifest, and I told him that if he endeavored
to use the naturalization papers at the docks he would certainly get
into trouble. He was greatly frightened and was very suspicious of me,
so much so that I was unable to get any further information out of him.
I found one of his friends aboard who was a man of more experience, and
after telling him just what lay before the Salerno man if he attempted
to use the naturalization papers, I persuaded him to find out where and
how the Salerno man got them. In half an hour he came back and said the
Salerno man was below, weeping, and ready to commit suicide, but had
told him that he had gone with three other men to a man in the first
wine-shop on the Strada del Duomo off the Strada Nuova in Naples, and
had paid fifty lire each for American citizens’ papers brought home by
returning emigrants, and the four were to receive fifteen lire each if
they returned them after use. The three other men had sailed on the
_Citta di Napoli_.

Numbers of the people were privately taking out and setting aside
varying sums from their slender stores of money, with which to “pay
something to the American inspector and American doctor.” So accustomed
were they to extortion by officials, that they refused to believe me
when I told them that it would cease at Ellis Island. They were
astounded and deeply puzzled when it did.

Giuseppe Rota followed me wherever I went, for I had promised to lend
him the money to replace his stolen seventy lire, and though we were
hours and hours yet from Ellis Island he was afraid the ship would dock
at any moment, a giant in the uniform of an American immigrant inspector
would appear and demand to see twelve dollars, and I would be out of
sight, in which case he would be locked up and sent back.

As we approached Sandy Hook the alternate glee and depression of the
groups were pathetic. Even Antonio was trembling with excitement and
said to me: “Suppose they will not let me back in. Can’t I tell them
just to telephone up to my bank in Stonington, and they will tell them
that I got a wife and property there, and it will be all right.”
Camela’s tears were constantly ready to fall, for there dwelt in her
heart a dread that something would arise to prevent her reunion with
Giuseppe.

The steerage stewards and the interpreter under the direction of a
junior officer appeared and ordered all the steerage passengers to pass
up from the forward main deck to the hurricane deck and aft, leaving
their baggage just where it was. Wild commotion broke forth, for this
was preparatory action at last. Slowly the chattering, excited hundreds
were got aft and crowded into the space usually given to second-cabin
passengers, and after a long wait there, while we approached Quarantine,
and the port doctor’s boat came out, and the _Chamberlain_ carrying the
Ellis Island boarding-officers and a newspaper man or two, there were
cries forward along the hurricane deck which indicated that the crowd
was being passed back to steerage quarters.

I knew we were about to pass before the port doctor’s deputy and the
boarding-officers, and got our party together and into the line passing
forward along the promenade deck. As we approached the forward end we
saw the dour German doctor standing with a gray-whiskered man in
uniform, on whose cap front was the welcome gold-thread eagle design of
the United States service. As we came nearly abreast of them I saw
another official on the right-hand side, and turned my head slightly to
see what was occurring on that side of the line. I caught a glimpse of
steerage stewards beyond the officials, hurrying the emigrants down the
companion-way, and the next instant received a heavy raking blow on the
bridge of my nose and up my forehead. It partly stunned and dazed me,
and I was merely conscious of stumbling on and of having the spectacles
which I wore for reading or distance-viewing hanging by the hook over
one ear. Before I could even see, I was at the head of the
companion-way, and the stewards were hustling my wife down the steps. I
gathered from what she was saying that the German doctor had struck me,
and, turning to look at him, saw he was looking after me with a sneer on
his face. To go back would have been to spoil my investigations just at
the last stage, and with a lamb-like meekness I went below, where my
wife told how, having uncovered my head, as is the rule in passing the
doctor, I had replaced my hat a second too soon as I turned to look to
the right, and the German doctor had reached over her head and struck me
with the back of his wrist, inflicting a heavy blow under the pretense
of brushing my hat from my head.



                              CHAPTER XVII
                  WITHIN THE PORTALS OF THE NEW WORLD


When the inspection was finished, the great steamer got under way once
more, and in the glorious sunlight of mid-forenoon we steamed up between
South Brooklyn and Staten Island, with the shipping, the houses, and the
general contour of the harbor very plainly to be seen. On every hand
were exclamations among the immigrants over the oddity of wooden-built
houses, over the beauty of the Staten Island shore places; and when the
gigantic skyscrapers of lower Manhattan came into view, a strange
serrated line against the sky, the people who had been to America before
cried out in joyful tones and pointed. A low murmur of wonder was heard
from the newcomers. Nunzio Giunta, at my elbow, said:

“Antonio told the truth.”

Then there was a rush to port to see the Statue of Liberty, and when all
had seen it they stood with their eyes fixed for some minutes on the
great beacon whose significance is so much to them, standing within the
portals of the New World and proclaiming the liberty, justice, and
equality they had never known, proclaiming a life in which they have an
opportunity such as never could come to them elsewhere.

The majority of the immigrants aboard who had been over before had
landed previously at the Battery, and few knew Ellis Island to be the
immigrant station, so that comparatively little attention was paid to
it. Another odd thing was the effect the sight of the magnificence of
New York had on the people who were destined for Western and New England
points. More than one expressed a desire to remain in New York. If it be
considered that nine out of every ten immigrants are of rural birth, and
that the city is always most fascinating to country people, it can be
understood why immigrants are so prone to congregate in the cities aside
from the considerations of convenience to labor and opportunities for
small trading. I have found many Jews who went out of New York on their
first trip, and on their second stayed in the city, returning with their
entire families and with all plans made for a permanent residence in the
metropolis.

In what seemed a very short space of time we had steamed up the harbor,
up North River, and were being warped into the North German Lloyd piers
in Hoboken. There were only a few people down to meet friends of the
third-class, but the usual crowd awaited the first-cabin passengers.
Some of the Italians bore extra overcoats to give to the shivering
“greenhorns,” as they call them,—an American word which is current
throughout the south of Italy and in the Italian quarters of American
cities.

[Illustration: Part of the Author’s Party—All Eyes to the Statue of
Liberty]

What seemed to the eager immigrants an unreasonably long time of waiting
passed while the customs officers were looking after the first-class
passengers and they were leaving the ship. When the way was clear, word
was passed forward to get the immigrants ready to debark. First,
however, Boarding Inspector Vance held a little tribunal at the rail
forward on the hurricane deck, at which all persons who had citizens’
papers were to present them. I watched him carefully as he proceeded
with his task of picking out genuine citizens from the other sort and
allowing them to leave the ship at the docks; and if all officials are
as thorough and as careful as he, then is the law enforced to its limit,
and the many evasions of it which seem to exist are things no official
or set of officials can prevent operating on this side of the water.
Here, again, I could not help seeing that deceit, evasion, and trickery
were possible, inasmuch as the inspector can only take the papers on the
face of them, together with the immigrant’s own statement; and if the
gangs who smuggle aliens in on borrowed, transferred, or forged
citizens’ papers have been careful enough in preparing and coaching
their pupils, there is no way of apprehending the fraud at the port of
arrival, nor would there be at the port of embarkation; but _there would
be no chance for any such practices if the examinations were made in the
community of the immigrant’s residence_.

Those whose citizenship was doubted by the inspector, and who had their
families with them, were compelled to go to Ellis Island with them, or
allow the families to go through the process alone.

At last we were summoned to pass aft and ashore. One torrent of humanity
poured up each companion-way to the hurricane deck and aft, while a
third stream went through the main deck alley-way, all lugging the
preposterous bundles. The children, seeing sufficient excitement on foot
to incite them to cry, and being by this time very hungry, began to yell
with vigor. A frenzy seemed to possess some of the people as groups
became separated. If a gangway had been set to a rail-port forward,
there would have been little of the hullabaloo, but for a time it was
frightful.

The steerage stewards kept up their brutality to the last. One woman was
trying to get up the companion-way with a child in one arm, her deck
chair brought from home hung on the other, which also supported a large
bundle. She blocked the passage for a moment. One of the stewards
stationed by it reached up, dragged her down, tore the chair off her
arm, splitting her sleeve as he did so and scraping the skin off her
wrist, and in his rage he broke the chair into a dozen pieces. The woman
passed on sobbing, but cowed and without a threat.

As we passed down the gangway an official stood there with a mechanical
checker numbering the passengers, and uniformed dock watchmen directed
the human flood pouring off the ship where to set down the baggage to
await customs inspection.

The scene on the pier had something impressive in it, well worthy of a
painter of great human scenes. The huge enclosed place, scantily lighted
by a few apertures, and massive with great beams and girders, was piled
high in some places with freight, and over all the space from far up
near the land end, where a double rope was stretched to prevent
immigrants from escaping without inspection, down to the pier head,
where the big door was open to allow the immigrants to pass out and
aboard the barges waiting to convey them down the river again to Ellis
Island, was covered with immigrants, customs inspectors, special
Treasury detectives, Ellis Island officials, stevedores, ship’s people,
dock watchmen, and venders of apples, cakes, etc.

The dock employees were all German, some of them speaking very little
English, and none that I saw using Italian. While their plan of keeping
the immigrants in line in order to facilitate the inspection of baggage
was all very good and quite the proper thing, the brutal method in which
they enforced it was nothing short of reprehensible. The natural family
and neighborhood groups were separated, and a part of the baggage was
dumped in one place and a part in another. When the dock men had herded
the off-coming immigrants in a mass along the south side of the pier
with an overflow meeting forward of the gangway on the north, it was the
natural thing for the parties to begin to hunt for each other, and for
leaders of groups to endeavor to assemble the baggage. Women ran about
crying, seeking their children. Men with bunches of keys hurried hither
and thither searching for the trunks to match in order to open them for
customs inspection, and children fearsomely huddled in the heaps of
baggage, their dark eyes wide with alarm. The dock men exhorted the
people in German and English to remain where they were, and, when the
eager Italians did not understand, pushed them about, belabored them
with sticks, or seized them and thrust them forcibly back into the
places they were trying to leave.

One massive German speaking good English was endeavoring to prevent our
party from going to the spot where we saw our baggage, and where the
customs inspectors were already at work. Camela and Concetta were in
advance, Antonio was assembling the hand baggage, and my wife was
guarding the camera, inoperative here for lack of light, so that there
was no one with the party that understood German or English.

“Get back there, get back there!” he shouted in English.

“I must go unlock my trunks,” said Camela in Italian, understanding from
his gesture that she was called to a halt.

“I’ll knock the brains out of a few of you dirty —— — —— with this club.
G— —— your —— souls to —— any way. I’ll break your neck if you leave
that line again, —— —— ——,” etc.

So saying, he thrust his open palm into her face and forced her back. I
got up just in time to set him back on a fig-case and inform him that we
had stood for brutality on a foreign soil and on shipboard, but we were
through taking it mildly.

“Wot! I’ll fix you for buttin’ in, you —— dago!”

“Hold on, that fellow’s a Secret-Service man. He’s no dago. He speaks
too good English,” said another dock man who hurried up to the first
man, who had risen and was preparing to “do” me.

His manner changed.

“’Scuse me, mister, but ye see these —— would make anybody mad; they
ain’t got no sense at all, don’t mind what you tell ’em, and ’d run all
over Hoboken if you let ’em.”

I gave him a little good advice on how to treat well-meaning human
beings, and we passed on.

[Illustration: Croatians and Italians—Swedes Arriving—Loading the
Barges, New York]

In a few minutes we were having one more wrestling-match with the
baggage. By this time the customs men had passed our heap, and when I
did get an inspector and got it looked into, two trunks were held up for
customs charges on account of all the provender packed in them, and the
two musical instruments Antonio had bought in Naples were held.
Unfortunately the marks of the prices asked by the Neapolitan dealer
were still on them, and though Antonio had got them for just about one
third, the customs appraiser later set a duty on them that totaled more
than half the original cost. When we were through with the trunks, we
found that the inspectors had passed over a part of the hand baggage.
Two men standing by offered to mark it with chalk just as the inspectors
mark it to show it has been inspected, and I was about to allow them to
do it and then hand them over when my wife came up with the camera, and
they turned and hurried away, going aboard the ship. I think they were
either ship’s people, or part of the crew from some other boat at the
North German Lloyd piers.

While we were waiting to get an inspector, we had time to buy something
to eat from the fruit and cake venders. Though it was mid-October, five
cents each was asked for apples to be bought at any street corner in New
York for one cent, and ten cents a slice for a thick yellow cake that
was the worst mess of coloring-matter, adulterated flour, and soda, I
have ever set my teeth into. It was as heavy as a stone and equally
gritty. Even the Neapolitan boys would not eat it. On top of all this,
when we paid for it in Italian silver money, the venders allowed only
seventeen cents for a lire, when taking them at nineteen cents would
have been at a profit. Many baskets of such food at such prices were
sold to the immigrants that day, for we passed the remainder of the
morning and part of the afternoon on the dock, there being four ships
laden nearly as heavily as ours in ahead of us, and the barges run by
contractors to carry immigrants from the various docks to Ellis Island
had more than they could do. So we waited. Few of the people aboard had
eaten any breakfast, because it was rumored among them they would land
in time for breakfast, and they had been looking forward to a good meal
on shore.

I think it was about two o’clock when we were finally allowed to go
aboard the barges at the end of the pier. I observed two men following
my wife and myself and surveying us critically. At the gangplank they
stopped us and examined our bit of baggage very carefully.

“You may save yourself some inconvenience by telling us who you are,”
said the one man very courteously to me.

“Who are you?” I said in broken English, expecting the appearance of
some grafting game.

“I am a special customs inspector, and we spotted you two as queer. What
are you?”

“We are writers making a study of the immigration question. What did you
spot as queer?”

“We thought you were dagoes all right, but this lady is the first woman
I have ever seen in the steerage with such well-kept finger-nails, and
we were a little suspicious.”

In the work of hustling the immigrants aboard the barges the dock men
displayed great unnecessary roughness, sometimes shoving them violently,
prodding them with sticks, etc., and one young Apulian who paused to
look around for his father aroused the ire of the dock man nearest him,
who planted a by no means gentle kick in his fundamentals, observing,—

“Oh, get down there; you’re too damned slow!”

One barge with power and another without, if I remember correctly, were
lashed together, or there may have been a tug on the outer side of the
second craft. Antonio and Camela, with the larger portion of the party,
were hustled into the second barge, while my wife and I squeezed into
the second, little Ina with us. The great improvements in the way of
heating, seating, and hospital accommodation for the sick which
Commissioner William Williams and his assistant Allan Robinson were then
making were not yet in evidence in the barge on which we rode. We had
either to squat on the floor or sit on our baggage, already mashed and
crushed till the point of utter dissolution seemed not far away, so we
stood up.

Slowly we steamed down the river in mid-afternoon, and when we reached
the slip at Ellis Island we merely tied up, for there were many
barge-loads ahead of us, and we waited our turn to be unloaded and
examined.

As the second craft cast off and moved away, Ina saw her mother and
Antonio going with it, and the big tears came into her lovely eyes. She
watched them till they were gone from sight, and then turned away so
that neither my wife nor I could see her face. Every now and then her
sleeve would go up to her face, but she was very quiet. Soon she turned
around, and the signs of tears were gone, but in a moment she turned
away again. She was struggling bravely against her wish to cry.

“What is the matter, Ina?” said my wife at last, when the tears began to
roll faster. Ina forced a smile and said,—

“Oh, nothing truly, except the sun hurts my eyes.”

Waiting, waiting, waiting, without food and without water; or, if there
was water, we could not get to it on account of the crush of people.
Children cried, mothers strove to hush them, the musically inclined sang
or played, and then the sun went down while we waited and still waited.
My wife and one of the boys had walked into the space roped off around
the plank which had been put aboard. Just then some of the youngsters
who had been trying to steal off the forward end of the barge, boylike,
were chased back by the barge men, one of whom began rushing and pushing
the people in the open space back into the crowd—a very needless
procedure, as there was no reason why what room there was should not be
utilized.

“What are you doing, mate?” called one of the other men outside.

“Oh, I’m driving these animals back,” and he swore foully.

Just at that instant he caught my wife by the arm, menacing her and the
boy with a short bit of board he had in his hand.

“Take your dirty hands off me this instant,” said my wife, white with
anger. The fellow stepped back, amazed at her resentment and her
English.

“Meant no harm, lady,” he deprecated. “You’ve got to be rough with this
bunch. I get so sick handling these dirty bums coming over here to this
country, I’m going to get in trouble some time for rousting ’em, I
s’pose.”

“If that is so,” she answered, “you had better get another job, for you
are not fit to handle even wild animals, let alone kind-hearted,
sensitive people like these, who are not to be blamed if everything,
even your speech, is strange to them.”

[Illustration: Rushing Immigrants on Barges—Inspectors and Immigrants at
Ellis Island]



                             CHAPTER XVIII
                          THROUGH ELLIS ISLAND


Cooped up in the barge, we waited till the sun got down into the smoke
of Bayonne and Elizabeth and was a great red ball only, so dull that the
eye could contemplate it pleasantly. Then came the shadows of night, and
we began to dread that our turn to be disembarked would come so late
that we should either be taken back to the steamer or be kept on the
island until morning. Myriads of lights were shining in the great
buildings. Each time the old ferry-boat floundered across from the
Battery it brought a crowd of friends of immigrants who had been
summoned from New York and elsewhere to meet the newly arrived ones. All
the races of Europe seemed to be represented in the crowds on the
ferry-boat as it passed close to us when bound back to the Battery.

The babies had sobbed themselves to sleep, worn-out mothers sat with
their heads drooped on the children they held to their breasts, and
among the men mirth and song had died away, though now and then a voice
would be heard inquiring if any one knew when or where we would get
something to eat.

“All ready for the last _Irenes_,” sang out a voice somewhere in the
darkness up by the buildings, and there was a clatter of feet overhead
and on the wharf. The doors of the barge were opened. The barge hands
dragged out the plank. The ropes restraining the crowd were dropped, and
the weary hundreds, shouldering their baggage yet once again, poured out
of the barge on to the wharf. Knowing the way, I led those of our group
who were with my wife and myself straight to the covered approach to the
grand entrance to the building, and the strange assemblage of Old World
humanity streamed along behind us, an interesting procession indeed.

When we came to the doorway I halted our section, and we piled the
baggage and waited. Antonio had all the papers for the Squadritos, and
with him also was Salvatore Biajo, who, thanks to the short-change game
worked on him by the draft-sellers at Naples, must have some money
advanced to him before we got inside. If the officials there saw me
giving him money they would want to know about it, and I did not wish to
attract attention to myself.

Antonio and Camela were meantime madly hunting us about the wharf, and
just as the official at the doorway had ordered us to go on in,
regardless of the others, each party caught sight of the other.

Half-way up the stairs an interpreter stood telling the immigrants to
get their health tickets ready, and so I knew that Ellis Island was
having “a long day” and we were to be passed upon even if it took half
the night. The majority of the people, having their hands full of bags,
boxes, bundles, and children, carried their tickets in their teeth, and
just at the head of the stairs stood a young doctor in the Marine
Hospital Service uniform, who took them, looked at them, and stamped
them with the Ellis Island stamp. Considering the frauds in connection
with these tickets at Naples and on board, the thoroughness used with
them now was indeed futile.

Passing straight east from the head of the stairs, we turned into the
south half of the great registry floor, which is divided, like the human
body, into two great parts nearly alike, so that one ship’s load can be
handled on one side and another ship’s load on the other. In fact, as we
came up, a quantity of people from the north of Europe were being
examined in the north half.

Turning into a narrow railed-off lane, we encountered another doctor in
uniform, who lifted hats or pushed back shawls to look for favus heads,
keenly scrutinized the face and body for signs of disease or deformity,
and passed us on. An old man who limped in front of me, he marked with a
bit of chalk on the coat lapel. At the end of the railed lane was a
third uniformed doctor, a towel hanging beside him, a small instrument
over which to turn up eyelids in his hand, and back of him basins of
disinfectants.

As we approached he was examining a Molise woman and her two children.
The youngest screamed with fear when he endeavored to touch her, but
with a pat on the cheek and a kindly word the child was quieted while he
examined its eyes, looking for trachoma or purulent ophthalmia. The
second child was so obstinate that it took some minutes to get it
examined, and then, having found suspicious conditions, he marked the
woman with a bit of chalk, and a uniformed official led her and the
little ones to the left into the rooms for special medical examination.
The old man who limped went the same way, as well as many others. Those
who are found to be suffering from trachoma are very frequently sent to
the hospital on the Island and are held and treated until “cured.” There
is neither space nor excuse for discussing here the question of “curing”
in a few days or weeks cases of trachomatous conjunctivitis. The powers
at Washington have ruled that immigrants may be held and cured, though
there are surgeons at Ellis Island who do not believe in it, and the
best specialists in New York contend that months or years are necessary
to eliminate any danger of contagion, while the Massachusetts Eye and
Ear Infirmary experiments in Boston have convinced the doctors there
that cures are the exception.

Concetta Fomica was the only one of our party whom the doctors examined
more than once. Her eyes were inflamed slightly, but she was passed.
Just where we turned to the right, a stern-looking woman inspector, with
the badge, stood looking at all the women who came up to select any
whose moral character might be questioned, and one of her procedures was
to ask each party as to the various relationships of the men and women
in it. Her Italian was good.

Passing west, we came to the waiting-rooms, in which the groups which
are entered on each sheet of the manifest are held until K sheet or L
sheet, whatever their letter may be, is reached. Our party being so
large, and some of the declarations which are used to fill out the items
on the manifest having been made at Messina, some at Reggio di Calabria,
and some at Naples, we were scattered through U, V, and W groups.

We sank down on the wooden benches, thankful to get seats once more. Our
eyes pained severely for some few minutes as a result of the turning up
of the lids, but the pain passed.

[Illustration: Stairway of Separation—Checking into Pens]

Somewhere about nine o’clock an official came by and hurried out U group
and passed it up into line along the railed way which led up to the
inspector who had U sheet, then came V group, and then W. Knowing that
the first into line would be the first passed, and having the task of
gathering our people together out of the crowd as fast as they were
passed, my wife and I hurried to the end of the lane and were among the
first before the inspector. Our papers were all straight, we were
correctly entered on the manifest, and had abundant money, had been
passed by the doctors, and were properly destined to New York, and so
were passed in less than one minute. We were classed as “New York
Outsides” to distinguish us from the “New York Detained,” who await the
arrival of friends to receive them; “Railroads,” who go to the stations
for shipment; and “S. I.’s,” by which is meant those unfortunates who
are subjected to Special Inquiry in the semi-secret Special Inquiry
Court, which is the preliminary to being sent back, though of course
only a portion of “S. I.’s” are sent back.

By the kindness of the official at the head of the stairs by which we
would ordinarily have passed down and out to the ferry to take us to New
York, we were allowed to drop our baggage behind a post, and, standing
out of the way of the crowd, pick out our people as they filtered
through past the inspectors. Salvatore Biajo came through marked
“Railroad,” and was passed along to get his railroad-ticket order
stamped, his money exchanged at the stand kept beside the stairs under
contract by Post & Flagg, bankers, and in a minute more he had been
moved on down the stairs to the railroad room, after I had had but the
barest word with him. Antonio Genone, with a ticket for Philadelphia,
came through without going over to the right to the railroad-ticket
stamping official, and he was down the stairs and gone without even
knowing that he was separated from us permanently.

We began to see why the three stairways are called “The Stairs of
Separation.” To their right is the money exchange, to the left are the
Special Inquiry Room and the telegraph offices. Here family parties with
different destinations are separated without a minute’s warning, and
often never see each other again. It seems heartless, but it is the only
practical system, for if allowance was made for good-byes the
examination and distribution process would be blocked then and there by
a dreadful crush. Special officers would be necessary to tear relatives
forcibly from each other’s arms. The stairs to the right lead to the
railroad room, where tickets are arranged, baggage checked and cleared
from customs, and the immigrants loaded on boats to be taken to the
various railroad stations for shipment to different parts of the
country. The central stair leads to the detention rooms, where
immigrants are held pending the arrival of friends. The left descent is
for those free to go out to the ferry.

Our Socosa boys, despite their labor contracts, came through bound for
the railroad room, and they were gone, waving their hands and throwing
kisses to us. Then the Gualtieri-Sicamino people, even Antonio, who had
completely lost control of the situation, came through, marked
“Detained.” I was allowed to collect them, that was all; as soon as they
were assembled they went down the middle stairs. As soon as the women
found they were to be shut up behind the screens of steel, they began to
bewail their fortune, and between getting them quieted and getting a
proper understanding of just why it had happened so, I had a lively five
minutes. It seemed certain that all but my wife and myself must go
behind the bars.

Having passed the last barrier and got all the information I wanted on
Ellis Island from the immigrants’ point of view, it seemed time to
declare myself, and so I informed the night chief inspector who I was
and why I was there, and requested that he discharge all our people to
me, so that I could take them over to New York, as I wanted to get the
story of their first impressions on American soil by being with them
when they landed in the greatest American city. The officials were
highly amused and interested in the whole affair, showed me every
courtesy, and in five minutes I was below at the gate of the detention
room with a written order for the entire party, except the “Railroads,”
to be discharged to me; they were already gone.

I found our people just preparing to sit down at one of the great number
of tables to have one of the substantial meals which are served to
immigrants; but time was pressing, and so the boys got only a bite and
that by grabbing it and taking it with them. Antonio was not to be
found, and after a long search I ascertained that he had convinced the
obliging chief clerk of the detention room that he could take care of
himself in New York and had got himself discharged, leaving the entire
party behind. I caught up with him before he got aboard the ferry-boat,
and, as I brought him back, got a glimpse into the waiting-room, where
friends of immigrants expected to arrive, or witnesses called to testify
before the Special Inquiry Court wait until they are summoned and hear
the names of their friends read, after which they pass up to the court
room above, or into the room to the west on the same floor, where they
have their friends released to them and take them away.

The more I saw of the inside of the great system on the Island the more
I was struck with its thoroughness and the kindly, efficient manner in
which the law was enforced. If undesirable immigrants are pouring into
the United States through Ellis Island, it is not because the laws are
not strict enough, or the finest system that human ingenuity can devise
for handling large masses is not brought into full play by honest and
conscientious officials, to pick out the bad from the good. The whole
trouble is that the undesirable immigrant comes up before the honest,
intelligent official with a lie so carefully prepared that the official
is helpless when he has nothing on which to rely but the testimony of
the immigrant and his friends. Only in the home town can the truth be
learned and the proper discrimination made. Any other plan is
fallacious.

At last we were reassembled. The women had dried their tears. Under the
inspiration of being at last within the barrier, of being about to step
on American soil and untrammeled, the party seemed to cast off its
weariness, and we passed out of the huge building, around to the
ferry-boat, and aboard.

[Illustration: Excluded for Age—Waiting for Immigrant Friends]

In the ferry house we saw a number of young Irish girls who were under
the care of a priest and were being taken to the Mission of Our Lady of
the Rosary, an institution that looks after immigrant girls who come
over to be servants. Large numbers of the people who had been with us on
the _Prinzessin Irene_ also appeared, tagged with a yellow ticket, and
under the leadership of an official from the Society for the Protection
of Italian immigrants. As we went aboard, this official, with one or two
helpers, stood by the doorway to one of the side compartments, and when
one of his people appeared he seized the immigrant and thrust him
quickly into the cabin, thus getting the crowd together. Then noses were
counted and all were found to be present. There are numbers of
missionaries and protection societies, all very necessary for the
shielding of greenhorns from the sharks that lie in wait for them about
the Battery. Formerly immigrant girls were kidnapped by scores, and
literally kept prisoners in evil resorts; and men were taken into
quarters of the city where it was easy to rob them of all they
possessed, and they could not even tell the police where it happened.

When Antonio’s eldest brother arrived in New York, he was discharged to
a friend of Antonio, who accompanied him safely ashore, and, having
other things demanding his attention, thought it wise to put Giuseppe
into a carriage and send him to the Grand Central Station. They
bargained with a cabman standing at South Ferry to take Giuseppe and his
baggage for $1.50, and Giuseppe got in. As soon as the cab was out of
sight of the Battery and of the friend who had met him, Giuseppe was
astounded by the cabman’s stopping and demanding a dollar more before he
would drive on. After a futile argument in sign talk, and with a great
waste of language which neither understood, Giuseppe succumbed and paid
the dollar. In ten minutes more the cabman stopped and demanded another
two dollars. Ten minutes later he had that also. Just about the time he
knew he must be close to the station, Giuseppe received another demand,
this time of three dollars. He did not have it, and after a violent
scene with the cabman, who threatened to beat him with the butt of his
whip, Giuseppe burst into tears, overcome with the feeling of being
alone in a strange land and the helpless victim of such a villain. He
decided to climb out and try to find his way to the station, so he
shouldered his baggage and trudged off to the north, for he knew the
station lay that way. The cabman whipped up and disappeared. Finally,
after asking scores of people where the station was, and being laughed
at by some and pitied by others, he met a little girl who understood
Italian, and she pointed out the way. He was only two blocks distant.

There had been no one to meet Giuseppe Rota, and he would have been held
in the Island until his relatives could be communicated with. He nearly
wept at the prospect of being alone, and so I brought him with us. He
was afraid to go five feet away from me on the ferry-boat.

As we docked at the Barge Office we had a slight wait until the
returning officials, visitors, and better-class passengers on the deck
overhead could be let off, and then we were released. We passed through
the huge piles of immigrants’ baggage, to which we must return on the
morrow to get the heavy pieces of our own, and out to the street.

There was the stretch of Battery Park, the looming buildings about
Bowling Green and on State Street, a real Broadway car, and a fine L
train roaring north on Sixth Avenue tracks, boys with ten-o’clock
extras, and a thousand things that told us we were back home, once again
in the best place of all. I was at the head of the party leading the way
to a Broadway car, for it was useless to try to go up on the “L” with
all our encumbrances, and looked back at my wife. She was looking up at
the trees and the buildings, and she said gently, “Thank God! Thank
God!”

The car we took was entirely empty but for ourselves, and when we were
inside with our luggage it looked like a baggage car. Weary as our
people were, their eyes were wide with wonder at all they saw, and as we
swung around into Broadway and started up town I saw in Concetta’s eyes
that wild look of the “startled fawn” as she contemplated the great
cañon, flanked by buildings, into which we were rushing. She shrank from
each sudden accentuation of the noise of the street.

People began to get on the car. They stared at us and made audible
comments, little thinking that some of us understood.

“Oh, what dirty, dirty wretches,” said a woman, with a worn seal-plush
sacque, as she looked at our women.

“I don’t see why they let these lousy dagoes ride on the same cars other
people have to use,” observed a stout gentleman with gold-framed glasses
as he shrank back from Gaetano Mullura, who had tried to change his seat
and was plunging down the aisle owing to a sudden jerk of the car.

Ere long we came to Bleecker Street, and, knowing there were several
hotels in the vicinity below middle class, the only sort at which we
stood a chance of being admitted, we alighted, and I went in to the desk
to see if I could get a half-dozen rooms. Three times I was met with the
excuse, “We are all full,” though I could plainly see that the room
board was but half covered with slips. At each of the hotels we created
a stir. As I turned away from the last desk the clerk observed to the
cashier:

“Well, what do you think of that for nerve?”

“What’s that?” said the cashier, who had been busy.

“Why, that dago coming in here with a push like that, trying to get
rooms.”

Beginning to get a little exasperated, I led the way west into the
Italian quarter, and we successively tried the Italian hotels,—Hotel di
Campidoglio, Hotel di France, and one other. All refused us admittance.
By this time there was not a member of the party who was not exhausted,
so, gathering them together in the shelter of a building in the course
of construction, and leaving my wife in charge, Antonio and I went
hunting a roof for the heads of all of us. It was an hour later when we
mounted the steps at the same house in which my wife and I had lived. It
seemed ages since we had left the portal, but the good Signora Tonella
was there, looking just the same, and when she found out who it was
under the dirt and the Italian clothes she offered the three small rooms
she had, and, having no other chance, we accepted. Going back to the
Hotel di Campidoglio, I persuaded the proprietor to allow us to go into
the rear of the dining-room and get something to eat. It took the sight
of money to induce him. The waiter was angry at being requested to serve
us, and slammed plates and things on the table. A little silver acted as
a sedative to his nerves.

Poor little Ina went to sleep with a spoon in her mouth, and every
person at the two large tables was exhausted, it was plain to see. But,
with full stomachs once more, we took up the last stage of the journey,
and, shouldering our baggage, made our way the several blocks to 147
West Houston Street.

Not one of the three rooms had a full-sized bed in it, and but one had
space enough to spread a bed on the floor, yet after a distressing half
hour I got the fifteen persons still with us parceled out into the three
rooms, all except Giuseppe Rota, who was number sixteen. Try as I would,
I was unable to find room for him to stretch his hulking frame unless he
took to the doorsteps, so I escorted him over to the Branch of the
Society for the Protection of Italian Immigrants, a few doors west, and
put him up there. When he found he was to be left alone, he burst out
crying and declared he would never see his uncle in Newark again. I
reassured him, and told him I would come and get him on the morrow. I
remember leaving the place, and it is a fact I was so worn that, going
back to the house, settling the others for the night, and turning in
myself, left no impression on my memory, and I cannot say what happened.

We slept until after noon the next day, and then began the process of
assembling all the baggage, clearing it from the customs, and of
dispersing the remnant of our party to their various destinations.

[Illustration: The Immigrants’ Track Through Ellis Island]


   _Explanation of the illustration entitled, “The Immigrants’ Track
               Through Ellis Island,” facing this page_:

 A. Immigrants landed from barges enter by these stairs.
 B. Surgeon examines health tickets.
 C. Surgeon examines head and body.
 D. Surgeon examines eyes. Suspects go to left for further examination.
 E. Female inspector looking for prostitutes.
 F. Group enters and sits in pen corresponding to ticket letter or
    number.
 G. Inspector examines on twenty-two questions.
 H. Into special inquiry court.
 I. Stamping railroad ticket orders.
 J. Money exchange and telegraph office.
 K. To railroad pen.
 L. To New York pen.
 M. To the ferry and New York.
 N. Telegraph office.



                              CHAPTER XIX
                             THE DISPERSION


When I went to get Giuseppe Rota, I found the officials at the immigrant
home were very loath to let him go. He was seated at one of the long
tables of the big barracks-like house, with forty other men, women, and
children, and was enjoying a hearty meal, notwithstanding his anxiety as
to his ultimate fate. Since he had got into their hands the management
was chary of relinquishing him to me, even though I had committed him,
and poor Giuseppe protested volubly that I had been more than a father
to him, and that his only hope of reaching his uncle was through me.
After a tiresome explanation I signed a receipt for him and gave
references for myself, which were promptly looked up, and then we were
allowed to depart.

The next task was to find Ferruchio Vazzana, a Gualtieri man who at that
time had a small store on East Fifteenth Street near Second Avenue, and
to whom Nunzio Giunta was “raccomended”; then Tommaso Figaro, a painter
from Gualtieri, who would be sponsor for Nicola Curro. His address was
520 East Fourteenth Street. Nicola and Nunzio went with Antonio and me,
and we had barely entered the Italian district of that part of the city
when two or three men from different directions came flying toward us,
throwing their arms about Nunzio, Nicola, and Antonio. They were all
Gualtieri people, and in a few minutes I found myself outside of an
excited throng centred about the newcomers and talking at a rate that
left me entirely in the dark as to what was being said. When they did
remember me, the boys found great difficulty in explaining how I, an
“American proper,” came to be so closely associated with them, and I
noticed a marked cooling of the enthusiasm among the people about. They
were extremely suspicious of me.

In the crowd were two brothers of Tommaso Figaro, and they led the way
to his little two-roomed home, for the first of a series of visits about
the tenements of the neighborhood, among old friends from the village,
which I was compelled to terminate at last by dragging Antonio away and
starting for Ellis Island to look after the baggage. Nicola and Nunzio
were left in the midst of their friends, who were chaffing them, calling
them “greenhorns,” and poking fun at their “old-country” clothes. We met
other lately arrived immigrants, some who had been with us on the
_Prinzessin Irene_, and pressure was being brought on them to get them
to lay aside the attire which marked them as new arrivals. A month later
Nunzio and Nicola did not look like the same men.

When we arrived at the Barge Office, Mike Delaney, the veteran Battery
policeman, who has handled millions of immigrants, was lining up the
_aspettati_ to go on board the boat which was substituting for the old
_John G. Carlisle_, she having broken down at last, and we found
ourselves jammed among hundreds. It happened that the morning newspapers
had had articles concerning the arrival of our party, and wherever we
went the word was passed among the immigration officials that Antonio
and I were the leaders of the group.

We found that a part of the baggage had already been sent to the pier of
the Stonington Line, but some of the trunks had heavy customs charges
against them, and the owners, Concetta, Nastasia, and Pulejo must sign
the papers in Boston. We contrived to get through in time to catch the
second boat back, and only emerged at all from the tangle of checking,
expressing, and receipting at the Barge Office by the kindly aid of the
officials there. I found myself wondering how the immigrants who persist
in bringing such confused quantities of baggage ever get it to its
destination at all, and was thankful that our troubles with our
_impedimenta_ were about over. Vain was my fancy, for there are tracers
out for some of it yet.

On the returning boat I had an interesting talk with a Russian Jew by
the name of Mottet Ianjge, who had just arrived. He came from near
Odessa and had been met by his brother, a hatmaker employed by a
Waverley Place firm, who acted as interpreter for us.

Mottet had just finished his term of enforced service in the Russian
army, and had more than once been compelled to act in procedures against
his own people, whom he said were driven about from pillar to post by
the Russian authorities in a way that made America seem like a heaven to
them; and when letters came from their relatives here, telling them of
how free and easy life was, they were wild to escape from their
surroundings, and many more would have followed his example but for the
fact that officially circulated reports hinted of strange dangers and
hardships which the immigrants must undergo. Before he entered the army
he had been working for a farmer who paid him about $2.50 a week. The
farmers through all that part of the country owned their own land, and
their farms averaged in size from forty to fifty acres. Mortgages on
these farms were increasing in number, and many of them were held by
wealthy Jews in the towns. In the army Mottet averred his pay was
forty-five cents per month, and his treatment was of the roughest sort.
He was in fine physical condition, though, and looked forward to his
work in this country with great eagerness.

[Illustration: Mr. Broughton Brandenburg, as He Looked when He Passed
through Ellis Island as an Immigrant]

He pointed out to me a man, twenty years older than himself, heavily
bearded, wearing the odd Russian cap, and with boots to his knees, whom
he said had been cruelly treated by the Christians in his village, and
had lost all his property through fire, as well as his wife and
daughter. His only son was a conscript, and his father did not even know
where he was, so he had borrowed enough money to come to America to
begin life over again at the commencement of his old age.

By using great haste we got the party assembled and down to the
Stonington Line pier in time to catch the night boat. I had intended to
go with the Squadritos to Stonington, to see them entirely through to
their destination, but an unforeseen obstacle arose in the form of
Giuseppe Rota. Because he refused to be left alone to look after
himself, I had been lugging him about all the latter end of the
afternoon, and when we made our way down to the boat it suddenly
occurred to me that if I went to Stonington I must either take him
along, leave him standing in the darkness on the pier, or find some one
to take care of him. It seemed easy enough to call a messenger boy, but
when the uniformed mite arrived and I committed Giuseppe to his care to
be taken back to 147 West Houston Street, Giuseppe raised his voice to
heaven and bellowed like a bull, clinging about my shoulders and
protesting that he was afraid I was sending him away to lose him, so
that he might never see his uncle or any of his _compadres_ from
Avellino again, and if I did he vowed he would end all his suspense and
suffering by plunging off into the dark river then and there, so I
dismissed the messenger and took the party aboard, bade them good-bye
for a short time, and took Giuseppe home again.

The group was quartered in the steerage compartments forward, which are
often filled with two or three hundred immigrants, and inasmuch as they
knew they would arrive in Stonington about two o’clock the next morning,
they refused to try to get any sleep, but sat about talking and singing
while the boat ploughed up the Sound. Ina, however, went to sleep in her
mother’s arms, and her mother alternately laughed and cried, and hugged
and kissed the sleeping child as she thought of the diminishing hours
that separated her from her husband.

There were many other Italians aboard, all bound to the New England
manufacturing towns, and they made merry on the way, and related the
wonders which they had seen so far in the great new country.

At last the big whistle sounded in a long blast, and the boat slowed
down. Soon she was bumping against the pier, and an officer was routing
out the immigrants and getting them ashore.

Antonio and Giovanni Pulejo were the first on deck, and as they appeared
at the end of the plank a wild shout went up from a black group in the
shadow, and they heard the familiar voices of Giuseppe, Tommaso, and
Carlino calling their names through the darkness.

Soon all were ashore and mingling in a wild scene of embracing and
kissing, men and women, men and men, women and women. When Camela had
Giuseppe’s arms about her at last, all she could do was to lay her tired
head on his shoulder and weep, while Ina stood at one side gazing with
wonder on the strange, handsome man who was her father. She was having
her first sight of him that she could remember, and preferred to take as
good a survey as she could get in the dim light, from a point outside of
the zone of embraces. When she had a chance she said to Concetta,

“I thought he was three times bigger than that, but he is nice.”

At last the party formed a procession, with Antonio and his happy wife
in the lead, and marched up from the dock to the substantial old house
on Water Street, on the first floor of which, fronting on the street,
Antonio had his barber shop. He found that during his absence his
brothers had had a disagreement about affairs in the shop, and Carlino
had gone off to work for another barber. Carlino’s welcome, while warm
enough, had a certain bitter tang in it which was the result of his
acquired disdain of anything Italian, and his lack of sympathy for the
things at home which made up the principal subject of interest in the
family party just then. He has pronounced himself as all-American, and
says he will never go back to Italy, no matter what happens, not even
for a visit.

It was some hours yet before the final separation of the last of the
family party when Concetta, Nastasia, Giovanni, and Felicia Pulejo, and
Gaetano Mullura should take the train for Boston, and it was passed in
excited chatter concerning all that had occurred since they had last
met.

Shortly after daybreak the Boston party, weary beyond expression, got
aboard the coaches provided for immigrants at the dock, and were whirled
away. I had telegraphed Stefano Smedele and the other Harrison Street
friends what hour they would arrive, and there was another joyful
reception at South Station, and another trip through a bewildering
confusing city to the Italian quarter, where the last group of the party
was subdivided.

Concetta is now living in the home of her uncle, and six months have
served to make a great change in her. She has a new spirit, a new gayety
and independence, and at my last news from her there are about twenty
young Italians in and about Harrison Street who are madly in love with
her, and from all I hear it will not be long before she makes a choice
and has a home of her own. The chances are in favor of a fine young
fellow who is employed in one of the factories as a machine hand.

Giovanni Pulejo is working as a barber in one of the South Boston shops,
and Felicia is in one of the great shoe-factories at Lynn,
Massachusetts. He says he finds the enormous machine process there very
different from the handwork at the little benches in front of Merlino
Carmelo’s shop back in Gualtieri.

Nastasia is helping his uncle, and is going to have a better education
than he has. All have melted into the life of the Italian colony in
Boston with an ease and an adaptability that are truly remarkable, and
now that they have learned enough English to understand what is said to
them and to make some answer, they are beginning to enjoy life. The
younger people suffered severely from the unaccustomed cold of the
winter, but all have survived it, and I really think Concetta and
Nastasia are the better for it.

[Illustration: Stonington—The Barber-shop—The Squadrito House]

When Giuseppe Rota and I left the Stonington pier, he was in a wretched
state because he realized that he had kept me from carrying out my
plans, but I reassured him, and when we reached home my wife and I took
him out to the best restaurant to which we could presume to go in our
poor attire, and gave him what he said was the best dinner he had ever
eaten. The pleasure which the poor peasant lad took in all that he saw
and heard about him is only partly expressed in a sentence from a letter
which he sent back to the folks at home in Avellino and came, round
about, back to me:


“The signor and signora were to me as are my brothers and sisters; ...
the place was a palace such as that of the duke; ... the American people
are strange in not liking to be treated with the honorable respect that
should come from common folks.”


The next morning he shouldered his little blue striped bag, and we
started for the Jersey City station of the Pennsylvania Railroad. On the
way we encountered three men in a group, whom I knew with the intimacy
of long association. None of the three recognized me, and passed with
amused scrutiny. I called one of them by name, and he took to the gutter
as if thinking he was about to be held up. Then came recognition, and I
introduced Giuseppe. Suffice it to say that we missed the train we had
intended to take.

Being greatly pressed for time, I endeavored to persuade Giuseppe to go
alone on the next train to Newark, and in the station even found a
Newark man who kindly volunteered to pilot him to his uncle’s house; but
once again he flung his arms about me, and, to quiet him, I bought
another ticket and went along.

As we got off the car in Newark and turned into the Italian district,
the strains of bands fell on our ears, and soon we saw decorated arches
spanning the streets, crowds of people in holiday dress thronging the
way, and later a procession came by in which scores of little girls,
marching in white, preceded a half-dozen strong men bearing a platform
on which was a saint’s figure. The people were celebrating the feast day
of the patron saint of Avellino, and the figure was covered with purses,
medals, watches, etc., while heaped-up gifts lay at its feet.

As we neared the crowd some Avellino youngster saw us and ran ahead
shrieking that Giuseppe had come. Again there was a half-hour’s wild
embracing, laughing, and questioning, in which I found myself entirely
forgotten for the time being, and when attention was turned my way it
was of a very suspicious sort. Giuseppe told his relatives when we
reached their house (back rooms in a ramshackle old frame affair) of the
several things we had done in endeavoring to help him, and everything he
related made the people about more suspicious. All became silent but
Giuseppe. I felt constrained to go, feeling most unwelcome and somewhat
resenting the unaccountable attitude of Giuseppe’s friends.

As I shook hands with him, he drew forth some small money which had been
given him by some one in the crowd, and offered to recompense me in
part, and said that when his uncle returned he would send me the whole
of what I had expended for him. He had already given me back the seventy
lire. When I told him plainly, and made it emphatic, that what slight
kindness I may have had the opportunity of showing him was not for any
purpose of gain, and definitely refused the money, the people about
underwent a strange metamorphosis: they hugged me and patted me on the
back, two darted across the street for schooners of beer, a woman
brought sweet cakes, a brand new willow rocking-chair was brought from
another room for me to sit in, and for the remaining brief time I had to
spend with them I was treated royally. Giuseppe’s cousin led in a joint
apology for their coldness and concluded by saying,—

“You know American mans ain’t good to Eyetalyuns on’y he make de graft.”

When I got back to Houston Street there was a telegram from Philadelphia
saying that Genone and the four Socosa boys had arrived safely and would
go to work the next day, the four youths going out to the mines, and
Genone into a chair factory until he could find employment at his trade
of cheese-making. So I knew the party was all safely distributed, and my
wife and I began the process of returning to our former state of life.
It is strange, but true, that it took us a full week to change social
station. At first glance there would seem to be no bar in doing it in a
few hours. When my wife and I had gone with a part of our party to my
office on the day of our arrival, not a person in the place recognized
us, and a half-hour later the editor of _Leslie’s Magazine_ stood
talking with Antonio Squadrito for some minutes, with my wife and I
standing beside him, without recognizing us, so it is no wonder that
when I went to the storage warehouse to get our effects the clerk
refused to believe I was the man to whom the receipt I held had been
issued. Agents and janitors refused to show us apartments in the garb we
were in, and our clothes were in our stored trunks, so it is easy to see
why it was a week before we got away from Houston Street.



                               CHAPTER XX
            THE STRUGGLES OF THE GUALTIERI BOYS IN NEW YORK


Few immigrants come to America these days who have not some relative
already here, who has prepared some sort of foothold for them, and all
have friends who will look out for their interests to a certain extent.
This explains nicely the mystery of why immigrants will mass in the four
States of the East which lie nearest New York, when the South is
offering inducements for Italian and Austrian labor, and the West never
has enough farm hands. I am in receipt of letters from large landholders
in several parts of the West who want immigrants to come and settle on
their lands, and do not understand why, no matter how much publicity is
given to the advantages in the West, the immigrants persist in clinging
to the East. The reason is that they wish to stay where their friends
and relatives are, and their friends and relatives are already situated
in the industrial centres of the East, where they in their turn had been
detained by the first comers.

The two Gualtieri boys came “raccomended” to Ferruchio Vazzana and
Tommaso Figaro, neither of them relatives, but merely friends, and both
with enough to do in looking after their own family circles’ interests,
so that the two were thrown very largely on their own resources; and
their adventures in New York, on which I have kept a very careful eye
without too much interference, form a very typical story of what befalls
the “greenhorn.”

Both had a small amount of money, and, if necessary, Nunzio could have
sent home for more, but his pride forbade. With Nicola it was different;
the entire family fortunes depended on this venture, though I did not
know it for some months: the bit of property his father owns is worth
about $300, and represents the toil of a lifetime. This had been
mortgaged for $60 at twenty per cent for six months, in order that
Nicola might come to America. His wages as a cabinet-maker and finished
carpenter in the village had been a most important factor in the family
support. The family consists of his father and mother, his wife a girl
not yet eighteen, and their year-old baby. To make up for the lack of
this, the three adults all engaged in work of some sort until the time
when Nicola could begin to send home the splendid earnings to which he
looked forward in America.

He had received a good education in the academic and technical schools
of Messina, and in addition to being a first-class cabinet-maker is an
excellent trombonist. He had served his term in the Guardia di Finanza,
and had at one time been awarded a prize of 100 lire for bravery and
efficiency in trapping some west-coast smugglers.

With Nunzio the case was different. Though big and strong, he had no
technical training whatever, the five years of his life which he had
spent in the Carabineers precluding all opportunities for that. He could
be only an unskilled laborer.

The first thing to do was to find them living quarters, and this was
done by their friends. Nicola got a room which he shared with four other
men, and his board and washing, for $3.20 per week, and Nunzio got a
tiny single room, in another house, with board, for $3.50 per week. A
part of Nicola’s slender store went at once to buy him a cheap overcoat.

The very next day after being settled, they began the hunt for work,
accompanied by Tommaso or Ferruchio. Wherever Nunzio went, bosses,
superintendents, managers looked at his massive frame and seemed
inclined to hire him until they found he could speak no English, and
then they turned away, saying they had no time to bother in teaching him
how to take orders. All of the contractors for gangs of Italians seemed
to have all the men they wished, and as day after day went by, tramping
the city, going to as many as forty places in one afternoon, and meeting
with a refusal everywhere, Nunzio began to get very discouraged, and
Ferruchio to protest that he could not afford the time from his own
business to go about and interpret, and Nunzio tried to go alone one
morning. It was late in the afternoon before he even found his way back
home, and he was very badly frightened. In a little while his money was
entirely gone, and he was on the verge of despair.

When things were the blackest, he heard that a number of Italians were
being employed to clean out a big store in some place where the “L”
trains ran by, and reported it to Ferruchio, who followed up this
slender clew and found that Siegel & Cooper were taking on all Italians
for their night porter’s staff, as they found them much better workmen
than the mixed Germans, Irish, and negroes they had had. In brief,
Nunzio secured a place in the big department store, going to work at
seven in the evening and working until seven in the morning for $7.50
per week, and good pay for overtime. He had Italians all about him, and
the work, though heavy, was not unbearable. I photographed him and his
associates one night, and the pictures tell the story very well. The
great disadvantage was that he could not hear any English spoken, and at
the end of six weeks in this country could say nothing but
“Good-morning” and a few bits of profanity. Meanwhile he was sleeping
all day, working all night, and saving every cent he earned. His hands
were growing calloused in the spots that had been sore the first few
days, and he was much happier than he had been at any time. But
misfortune came. He was detailed to work with a Calabrese who had charge
of the day work in the room where the store’s waste paper is baled.
There was $17 profit for the company on the saving and selling of each
day’s waste paper. The Calabrese spoke English and took the orders from
the superintendent, translating them to Nunzio and another “greenhorn.”
Shortly after Nunzio had been promoted to day work and his pay raised a
dollar, a cousin of the Calabrese arrived in New York, and the Calabrese
wanted Nunzio’s place for the cousin, so he began systematically to
undermine Nunzio. If the superintendent ordered one thing, the Calabrese
told Nunzio it was another, and when the superintendent kicked because
the work was improperly done, the Calabrese laid the blame on Nunzio. At
last one night the superintendent asked all hands to work a part of the
night, and the Calabrese informed him that Nunzio refused to do so,
something which Nunzio had not the slightest idea of doing, and in ten
more seconds Nunzio found himself being suddenly and inexplicably
ushered outside.

Of course it was not difficult to reinstate him in a day or two, but
after the holiday rush was over scores of people were discharged, and
Nunzio went among the rest. Once again he began the task of finding a
place, and tramped the streets in the bitter cold, going about asking
every place where there was work going on, “You wan-sa man?”—and when it
was found that that was about all the English he knew, the boss would
always shake his head. For weeks he lived on the money which he had
saved while working in the department store, and then one day he
accosted Mr. Tolman, the superintendent in _McCall’s Bazar_
establishment in Thirty-First Street, and, as it happened that a man was
needed that very minute to handle the huge piles of printed matter in
the shop, Nunzio was put to work at $1.25 per day. I saw him the evening
of the second day, and he was unable to sit up straight from soreness
caused by the heavy lifting and carrying he had to do, but he clung
desperately to his employment, and now his reward has come. All about
him are English-speaking people with the exception of a large group of
Austrians, and so he is picking up the language rapidly, and he has been
promoted to the running of one of the big machines in the plant and is
averaging $10 a week. His face shines with his prosperity and he wants
to get married.

There were many opportunities for work for a skilled cabinet-maker in
October and November, but there were three huge obstacles in the way of
Nicola’s embracing one of the many,—lack of English, lack of tools, lack
of a union card.

[Illustration: Night-porter’s Staff at Siegel-Cooper Company’s (_Nunzio
Giunta in front of post_)]

The matter of the tools was not insurmountable, but the others seemed to
be. After a week’s hunt for work in some small shop where he could have
tools supplied him and a union card was not required, he seized a chance
to go to work for the United States Biscuit Company, hustling boxes of
biscuits, etc., and for his work received pay at the rate of $4 a week,
which he calculated would pay his expenses while he was waiting an
opportunity to engage in his trade. Four days of this work saw him
exhausted physically, his hand mashed, and his wrist strained so that he
was unfit for work of any kind. Before he was well again he was in debt
so deeply that he was nearly distracted. Just at the time when his
family was expecting he should be sending home some fine sums of money,
he was unable to make even his own living, through lack not of
capability but of opportunity.

He got two or three days’ work for an Italian carpenter who was doing
some roof-repairing, and the $4 he made paid one week’s expenses at
least; then he was commissioned to make a cabinet for filing papers, and
Tommaso arranged with an Irish carpenter named Delaney, who had a shop
at 147 West Thirtieth Street, for Nicola to work there while making the
cabinet, paying Delaney a dollar a day for the use of tools and shop.
There was no fire in the shop during Christmas week, and Nicola caught a
heavy cold. New Year fell on Friday, and there was no work of course. He
spent the day resting and doctoring himself. Saturday morning a terrible
blizzard was blowing, and he walked through it from the East Side to the
shop, arriving at seven o’clock, but no one had appeared to unlock the
place. If he could have spoken English he could have inquired where to
find Delaney or where to telephone him, but all he could do was to wait
or go home, so he waited there on the step in the driving storm until
one o’clock that afternoon, when he appeared at my house hardly in his
senses, nearly dead from exposure and on the verge of pneumonia. Only by
his friends taking extreme care of him was he able to go back in a few
days and finish his work. During this time Tommaso Figaro, acting on my
advice, went with Nicola to both the Carpenters’ and Cabinetmakers’
locals, and endeavored to get him admitted to the unions. At first the
difficulty seemed to be that there was no union man to sign Nicola’s
application, but this was obviated. Why the matter was delayed
thereafter I do not know. Two excellent opportunities for employment at
the union rate of $18.50 a week were offered to Nicola in the last week
of January, but he could not begin work until he got his union card. He
did not get it then, nor has he even got it yet.

On the 1st of March he must send home the money to lift the debt on his
father’s property, or the family’s little all would go. He was not yet
caught up with his own debts in this country, and so he abandoned all
hope for the time being of trying to get employment at his trade, and
began to look for employment as an unskilled laborer. At the end of a
black week he found this in Charles Schweinler’s printing establishment
in the Lexington Building on East Twenty-fifth Street, and at this
writing he is still laboring there, carrying bundles of paper from press
to table and such tasks. He is receiving about $8 a week, adding in his
pay for extra time. When the 1st of March came he had just $7 instead of
the needed $60, and when every ray of hope seemed gone and he was nearly
wild with worry a way was opened and the debt was paid.

So far both boys have been so intent on their own struggles and their
own work that neither has given much thought to the country in which he
now lives, and less to the rights as a citizen which he may come to
enjoy legally in five years, or illegally at any time he wishes by
purchasing fraudulent naturalization papers. The night we landed in New
York from Ellis Island there were signs everywhere of the bitter battle
between Low and McClellan and their respective supporters. I explained
it all carefully to our people, and they were greatly interested, for
they thoroughly understood the electoral form of government, as communal
and legislative officials are elected by popular vote in Italy. Two days
later Nunzio told me that an Italian friend of his had asked him if he
did not want to make a couple of dollars voting at the election two
weeks hence.

“Why, I cannot vote; I have not been here long enough,” said Nunzio.

“Huh, you _are_ a greenhorn. I have only been here two years, and I have
voted twice and belong to a political club. You come around to the club
with me, and I will introduce you to a man who will give you
naturalization papers. We will register you, and you will never need
think of it after that. You will be just as much of a citizen as any of
us.”

When I explained to the boys how illegal this procedure would have been,
Nunzio said:

“Well, if that is the sort of thing being a citizen is, I don’t believe
I want to be one.”



                              CHAPTER XXI
                        LEGISLATION AND EVASION


It is exasperating to any patriotic American to have brought
convincingly before him the proofs of a wholesale evasion of a very
carefully planned code of laws which he fain would think is a sufficient
protection of his civic rights and his country’s best interests. It is
more annoying to realize that the successful evaders are for the most
part foreigners, and those, too, of commonly despised races.

The severity of our laws in the matter of counterfeiting is well known,
but they have no terrors whatsoever for the gangs of Italian
counterfeiters who are giving the Secret Service Department more trouble
than it has ever had with native criminals of this order.

The internal revenue laws are very thorough, and the execution of them
is far-reaching and systematic, in fact the administration of the
federal internal revenue system has long been a boast with this country,
and so well did it do its work that now and then a lone moonshiner
escaped detection, and that was all. Since the influx of foreign masses
into the country, the troubles of the Department have grown. In the
larger cities to-day the Bohemian cigar makers and dealers are building
up intricate systems of cigar making and selling without paying the
government its due. Buying direct from farmers and planters, failing to
account for the stock bought, making without recording the product,
selling it clandestinely to refill boxes,—those are some of the details
of the operations. The extent of the frauds is growing every day, just
as rapidly as the number of aliens who will engage in such practices
increases.

Of the naturalization frauds much has been written and said, and I have
given a number of instances in earlier chapters which show how the
Italians particularly operate with fraudulent naturalization papers, not
only using them to vote with in this country, and so reap the harvest of
political heelers,—meanwhile having any true idea of citizenship they
might get hopelessly abased,—but farming them out to serve as cloaks for
passing in as citizens several of their countrymen each year. The worst
feature of this is that politically unscrupulous men in all of the large
cities of the country do not hesitate to use their influence to obtain
fraudulent naturalization papers for their alien followers, in fact
employ the papers to buy the friendship of the aliens or to reward
services already rendered. There are election districts in the Italian
quarter of New York where not more than one-half of the registered
foreign-born voters are legally entitled to ballot.

The remedy for this feature of alien legislation and evasion is to
change, by Federal act, the system of examining aliens, and, without
making it more difficult for a man to become naturalized rightfully,
make the research into his record and attainments so far-reaching that
even perjury will not save him; for perjury, as a crime, rests lightly
on the average alien’s conscience.

The evasions of the contract-labor law and of the
exclusion-of-diseased-immigrants law have been many times mentioned in
these pages, and constitute a problem which will not be solved by any
legislation making the examination at our ports any more strict.

Smuggling across the border from Canada and Mexico continues to be a
favorite method of evasion of the laws. A general statement of the
situation is made in the following extract from the Report for 1903 of
Commissioner-General of Immigration, F. P. Sargent, which includes
extracts from the last Report of Commissioner for Canada, Robert
Watchorn, on the year’s work done at Canadian ports and on the border.
It should prove a revelation to those who believe our present system of
controlling immigration is a success.


This statement, covering the past seven fiscal years, will serve to show
the steady increase in alien immigration to the United States through
the ports of Canada:

                 July 1, 1896, to June 30, 1897 10,646
                 July 1, 1897, to June 30, 1898 10,737
                 July 1, 1898, to June 30, 1899 13,853
                 July 1, 1899, to June 30, 1900 23,200
                 July 1, 1900, to June 30, 1901 25,220
                 July 1, 1901, to June 30, 1902 29,199
                 July 1, 1902, to June 30, 1903 35,920

The foregoing figures, it should be remembered, refer to those only who
are manifested on the lists furnished by transportation lines whose
North American terminals are at Canadian seaports as destined to the
United States. They do not include those aliens who subsequent to
landing in the Dominion enter this country as residents of Canada. The
number of such is doubtless considerable, but the Bureau has no data at
its command to enable it to make even an approximately accurate
computation thereof. The inspection of those referred to in the
foregoing statement is made at the Canadian port of arrival in the same
manner that aliens arriving at seaports of this country are examined.

As to the operations of administrative officers in respect to those who
seek admission after temporary residence in the Dominion the subjoined
report of the United States commissioner of immigration at Montreal
gives information that cannot fail to impress one with the magnitude and
importance of the duties discharged under his supervision, as well as
with the efficiency with which those duties are performed.


                  FROM COMMISSIONER WATCHORN’S REPORT.

                                             233 ST. ANTOINE STREET,
                                                     _Montreal, Canada_.

SIR: I have the honor to report for the fiscal year concerning
immigration from Europe to the United States through Canada.

Pursuant to the requirements of section 10 of Department Circular 97,
dated November 1, 1901, monthly reports have been made to the Bureau on
the prescribed forms; you are therefore already fully advised as to the
numbers of aliens examined, admitted, or rejected, as the case may be.
This report is intended to amplify the information furnished per regular
forms.

One year ago I had occasion to report that an act of Parliament had been
passed at Ottawa, to wit, Bill 112, passed by House of Commons May,
1902, designed to prevent “the landing at Canadian ports of any
immigrant or other passenger who is suffering from a loathsome,
dangerous, infectious disease or malady, whether such immigrant intends
to settle in Canada, _or only intends to pass through Canada to settle
in some other country_.”

Although this act was passed in May, 1902, it was not made effective
till September 8 of the same year. This delay was due to the absence
from Ottawa of certain government officials whose approval was essential
to its promulgation.

During the interim from the passage to the promulgation of this act a
large number of aliens destined to the United States, and a greater
number destined to Canada, were permitted to land despite the fact that
the act in question, if enforceable, would have precluded the
possibility of their landing.

Indeed, it was not until said act was made enforceable and enforced that
a single legal deportation could have been effected from Canada, so that
its promulgation may be cited as the one paramount important feature of
the year.

The Bureau having been amply apprised of the fact that the
above-mentioned Canadian legislation is due solely to revelations made
by United States immigrant inspectors on the Canadian frontier, it will
not be necessary to dwell further on that point than to emphasize the
fact that this very important matter furnishes both the Canadian and
United States governments genuine cause for gratification, inasmuch as
both are now capable of dealing satisfactorily with a very grave
question.

I felt constrained to remark in the annual report for 1902 that we must
wait for developments in order to be able to ascertain whether the
Canadian exclusion act would afford the satisfaction anticipated, and
experience has demonstrated that it was quite a proper observation to
make, because it has frequently occurred that a disagreement of
diagnoses has been determined on the Canadian medical examiner’s
certificate, which has led to certain aliens being allowed to land
instead of being deported, as would have been the case had the United
States medical examiner’s certificate been accepted as final.

However, it is a source of pleasure to me to be able to report that
while such cases were painfully numerous during the early period of the
enforcement of the Canadian exclusion act, there has been a tendency to
uniformity of diagnoses, and not only that, but also an appreciable
improvement in the conditions existing between the officers of the
immigration services, Canadian and United States, respectively.

The superintendent of immigration of the Dominion of Canada, Mr. W. D.
Scott, has evinced a desire to give a broad interpretation of the act
alluded to. In this connection it may not be out of place to quote
verbatim a few sentences from a communication he addressed to this
office on May 28, 1903:


                                                 OTTAWA, _May 28, 1903_.

... But it is very clear to me that if these people are of the class who
are likely to be refused by your commissioners ... they must be of the
class that would be refused by the Canadian medical officers at Atlantic
seaports.

It is quite true, however, that our examination, so far as money
standard is concerned, is not particularly strict, but aside from that,
on all other points I do not know that there is very much difference
between the general reasons for deportation taken into consideration by
the Canadian and United States officials....

Allow me to assure you again that this department will do everything to
co-operate in preventing an undesirable class of people from the
Continent to land in this country.


These sentiments are so plainly indicative of a realization on the part
of the Canadian officials of the necessity for enlightened action, that
comment on them on my part is unnecessary.

Even a tentative co-operation is a vast improvement on the methods
prevalent prior to September, 1901 (all of which was reported June 30,
1902), and a continuance of it may be safely relied on to correct still
further a condition which had become well-nigh intolerable.

During the ten months which were covered by my report of June 30, 1902,
the gateways to the United States via the Canadian frontier east of
Sault Ste Marie became thoroughly well known to many interested persons,
and it became evident to us that the properly protected gateways were
being avoided by certain classes of immigrants, and it was incumbent on
us to ascertain what outlet was being sought in lieu of the well-guarded
routes.

This investigation revealed a state of things requiring prompt and
vigorous action on the part of the Bureau. It devolved upon me to advise
the Bureau that whatever leak there was was beyond the western extremity
of the jurisdiction of the Montreal office, and to recommend that steps
be taken to “check the current which was all too plainly being diverted
to frontier points west of Sault Ste Marie.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

Pursuant to instructions I detailed a corps of well-trained inspectors
and interpreters to duty at Winnipeg, Manitoba, and at the same time,
through the influence of the Bureau, obtained the acquiescence of the
parties of the second part (to wit, certain Canadian transportation
companies) to Department Circular 97, dated November 1, 1901, to the
establishment of a board of special inquiry at Winnipeg.

The Bureau will have some approximate idea of the importance of this
change when viewing it in the light of the following figures:

Since the date of the opening of the Winnipeg office (February 14, 1903)
no less than 2,157 immigrants have been examined by the board of special
inquiry, and certificates of admission have been issued to 1,633, while
the surprising number of 524[2] have been rejected for the following
causes:

Footnote 2:

  Including Pembina and Portal.

                 Trachoma                          171
                 Minors dependent on above         128
                 Likely to become public charge    171
                 Contract laborers                  51
                 Measles                             3
                                                ______
                             Total                 524

The total amount of head tax collected on account of these immigrants is
$3,729, not a dollar of which would have been collected had this
important change not been made; nor would a single person in the list of
objectionables have been denied admission to the United States, but
would have crossed the frontier without let or hindrance, as thousands
of their equally objectionable kind had been doing for an indefinite
period of time.

The work of the board of special inquiry at Winnipeg had scarcely
commenced when we discovered that the objectionable aliens whose access
to the United States the Montreal office was established to prevent were
going still farther westward, and rejections are now not at all uncommon
as far west as the borders of Montana, Idaho, and Washington.

The Bureau saw fit, on March 26, 1903, to promote the Montreal office
from a special inspectorship to a commissionership, and to extend its
jurisdiction to the Atlantic ports, Halifax, N. S.; St. John, N. B.; and
Quebec, Que.

                  *       *       *       *       *

This change added materially to the efficiency of this Office in view of
the fact that it served as a notice to all concerned that the Bureau was
earnestly supporting its force in Canada.

The change also improved conditions at the above-named ports, as it
enabled the officer in charge, Assistant Commissioner John Thomas, to
co-operate with the border force to greater advantage, and thus conserve
to a far greater extent the excellent results attained under his
efficient administration.

It has been absolutely necessary for me to apply to the Bureau quite
frequently for additional medical examiners, inspectors, interpreters,
and clerks, since the close of the last fiscal year, and to the prompt
and satisfactory manner in which the Bureau has responded to those
applications is due the remarkable showing made during the present
fiscal year.

On June 30, 1902, the total force numbered 66; now it numbers 116. On
careful perusal the records of admissions and rejections will be found
to correspond to the force employed to deal with the situation, and the
maintenance of the present grade of efficient officers along the entire
frontier will enable the Bureau to deal as satisfactorily with the
matter as it deals with it at United States ocean ports of entry.

During the twelve months ended to-day many persons have applied for
admission to the United States via Canada whose personal appearance and
general conditions should have precluded the possibility of their having
been allowed to embark on any vessel designed to carry passengers under
conditions of health and comfort.

It is only necessary to relate that in some instances the filthy
conditions have been so abominable as to render it impossible for our
medical examiners to give them the attention required by our laws and
regulations. The Bureau, like myself, will have to leave it to
conjecture how fellow-passengers huddled together in the close quarters
of an Atlantic liner have endured the contaminating presence of such
persons.

Admission to the United States has been invariably denied to such
applicants, and in some instances it has been deemed unwise to return
them to Canada, and deportation to Europe has been effected.

I shall not attempt to draw a picture of the situation as it now
appears, for the accompanying figures are so fraught with food for
reflection that embellishment would be superfluous. However, it may be
well to emphasize a few of the more important features represented by
these figures.

We have always contended that large numbers of aliens destined to the
United States were designedly manifested to Canada, and while there has
been some effort made by the steamship lines to correct this evil by
refusing passage to the more obviously diseased (some 150 such refusals
have been reported by all the “lines”), it is to be regretted that the
improvement has not been on broader lines. I have used the words
“obviously diseased” advisedly, because the decrease is most noticeable
in that class of diseased persons whose ailments cannot be hidden.

For instance, during the ten months ended June 30, 1902, as many as
ninety-six cases of favus were rejected at the Montreal office alone. It
was at that time that the agitation on this question in Canada was kept
up with considerable vigor, in view of which the weeding-out process was
undertaken at ports of embarkation.

Favus, as you know, shockingly disfigures its victims, eating out the
hair, producing disgusting scalp sores until cured, which is often
deferred until the head is totally denuded of hair.

An examination at ports of embarkation almost invariably leads to a
detection of this disease, and they who are afflicted with it are most
likely to be set aside. That such has been the case there is little room
for doubt, as you will observe, against ninety-six cases of favus for
ten months last year only forty-four such cases are reported for the
Montreal local office for the entire year, and only seven of these have
been reported since January 1, 1903, a date coincident with the
commencement of actual enforcement of the Canadian act aforementioned.

Another dangerous and dreaded disease, which is more difficult of
detection, has not been marked by any such decrease; in fact, the very
opposite result is shown. Even at the Montreal office, where the classes
of immigrants applying for certificates of admission to the United
States show such marked improvement over last year, there has been an
increase in the number of trachoma cases.

Increases in trachomatous applicants elsewhere than at the Montreal
office may be safely ascribed to the extended field of our operations
and the increased force of inspectors assigned to duty at border
stations. Practically no rejections were reported west of Port Huron
last year, whereas the present year’s work furnishes a greater number of
border rejections west of Port Huron than east of it.

The accompanying tabulated figures will suffice to inform you as to the
classes rejected, showing the nationalities furnishing the greatest
number of objectionables and the steamship lines carrying them.

Taken as a whole, without special explanatory references, the figures
might easily be understood, hence the necessity for calling attention to
certain features connected with these tables.

The figures given are for the whole year, but the latter half of the
year is quite different from the former half. The former half may be
said to have been quite normal, while the latter half represents a
totally unprecedented condition in Canadian immigration.

The Provincial and Dominion governments have been exerting themselves
most actively to induce immigration of the “fitter kind,” and so well
have they succeeded that all shipping facilities have been utilized to
their utmost capacity to accommodate agricultural settlers, principally
for the Northwest, to the almost total exclusion of passengers from the
continent of Europe.

The annual arrivals at Canadian ports since 1892 are as follows:

                   Ocean ports only:
                     1892                     27,898
                     1893                     29,632
                     1894                     20,829
                     1895                     18,790
                     1896                     16,835

                   Total immigration:
                     1897                     21,914
                     1898                     31,900
                     1899                     44,543
                     1900 (first six months)  23,895
                     1900                     49,149
                     1901–2                   67,379
                     1902–3 (estimated)      114,000

These figures are furnished by the Dominion superintendent of
immigration, and leave no room for doubt as to the trend of immigration
to Canada, and it is only proper to state that the large numbers having
arrived since January 1, 1903, have been for the most part of an
exceptionally fine class.

A preponderance of agriculturists has characterized every shipload for
the time above specified, and they have gone to the Northwestern
Provinces in search of homes on the rich and inviting prairies of that
vast country.

It is natural to suppose that a certain percentage of them will find
themselves unsuited to the new conditions, and such of them as do so
will probably seek admission to the United States, or return to their
native homes. Arrangements have been fully made to gather actual
statistics concerning such of them as may subsequently enter the United
States, and these figures will be furnished you monthly, as per official
requirements.

Not only has the class of immigrants going to the Canadian Northwest,
during the past three or four months, been of a highly desirable sort,
but the whole immigration to Canada, for Eastern Provinces and for the
United States, has shown some improvement during this time. The two
nationalities which gave us the greatest concern last year have shown
very perceptible decreases, _i. e._, Hebrews and Syrians.

The former were unquestionably sent to the United States from Europe via
Canada to avoid the effects of examination at United States ports, but
on learning that the Bureau had taken definite and permanent steps to
counteract the deflection from United States ports to Canadian ports the
practice was gradually discontinued, and now the border boards of
special inquiry have comparatively few cases of the Hebrew race to
examine.

A precisely similar condition prevails as to the Syrians, though in the
latter case the change has been brought about by the vigorous policy of
prosecution which has been waged against professional Syrian smugglers
of aliens into the United States via the Canadian frontier.

The smugglers’ business has been made so difficult, dangerous, and
expensive that most of them have ceased to advertise in Europe, and in
consequence the arrivals of Syrians and Armenians have appreciably
decreased; but it is said that they will try to continue their business
on the Mexican border.

The most notable increase has been among the Scandinavians, and as this
class generally seeks employment in agricultural pursuits and avoids the
congested areas of population, it is a happy feature of the work of the
year to be able to report so desirable a change.

We anticipate still further improvement from the fact that the principal
steamship company—that is, the company carrying the greatest number of
undesirable immigrants to Canada—has been purchased by the Canadian
Pacific Railway Company, and as the latter company has shown by its
policy that it regards its covenant with the United States (Department
Circular 97) as an active working instrument, to be observed in letter
and spirit, it is presumed that this spirit will be extended to the
operation of its newly acquired property, the immigrant-carrying vessels
of the Elder-Dempster Steamship Company.

There has not yet been sufficient time in which to note the actual
effect of this change, but so far indications quite warrant the
foregoing observation.

Adequate detention quarters have not hitherto been provided at any of
the Canadian ports, and much difficulty has resulted from this lack. No
fewer than 150 rejected aliens, at Halifax, N.S.; St. John, N.B., and
Quebec, Que., have failed of deportation solely on this account, but
arrangements are now perfected for the making of necessary provisions of
this character, and further trouble in this connection is not expected.

It ought to be stated that the 150 escapes alluded to were not allowed
to enter the United States, and that almost the entire number escaped
prior to the promulgation of the Canadian act of Parliament which
legalized deportations.

In the annual report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1902, it was
recommended that none but strong, vigorous, young, and hardy men be
assigned to this jurisdiction, and it is with peculiar pleasure that I
report that that recommendation has been literally accepted and acted
upon. It would be a very difficult matter to find in any given line of
work a more capable, efficient, devoted class of officers than the men
who have made it possible for such a gratifying report as this to be
written.

Covering a direct line of more than 4,000 miles of frontier, including
three ocean ports, and inspecting more than 100 trains daily and a large
number of ferries, “sound steamers,” and the growing fleets that ply the
Great Lakes, these inspectors, in all kinds of inclement weather, and
frequently under most trying circumstances, have boarded every train,
met every ferry and every steamer, whether by river, lake, or sound, and
have prevented the amazing total of 5,158 diseased and otherwise
objectionable aliens from entering the United States, and have done all
this without delaying either train or boat for a moment, and, what is
still more remarkable, without causing a single complaint on the part of
the traveling public.

This manifests a commendable devotion to duty, which the Bureau will, no
doubt, fully appreciate when considering the year’s work thus completed,
from the view-point of the difficulties incident to its accomplishment.

The officers are now fully uniformed, as per department regulation, and
the traveling public no longer responds reluctantly to the inspectors’
interrogatories; on the contrary, the average traveler is always ready
to impart the information required by law, and many have shown a
willingness to aid the inspectors in detecting the cunning devices of
those who live by evading the law.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The showing of thirty successful captures and prosecutions is a very
remarkable one, especially when viewed in the light of the wide area
covered by the prosecutions. Grand juries all along the line, have
viewed the situation with becoming apprehension, and by their verdicts
have given us substantial aid in our endeavors to make effective the
mandates of Congress.

United States attorneys have also given us very able support by
appropriately presenting all the facts we have furnished them to the
grand juries and the courts.

There are exceptions to every rule, however, and I regret to have to
announce one in this respect.

On May 14, 1903, one Lewis Feighner deliberately took twenty aliens over
the border of North Dakota in wagons. Of these, nineteen were afflicted
with trachoma, and all of them had been lawfully excluded from the
United States. Feighner set the law at defiance and furnished wagon
transportation when the railroad companies refused to carry them.

The whole party was taken into custody at Grand Forks, N. Dak., and
returned to Winnipeg by officers of the Bureau, and Feighner placed
under arrest. The grand jury indicted him (Feighner) on June 12, and the
following day rescinded its action, and he is at present free and
unpunished.

On the same date a United States attorney refused to prosecute an
offender of this class for reasons not yet disclosed.

This offender presented himself at our Winnipeg office and demanded to
know why his brother could not go to the United States, and he was told
that it was because he was contagiously diseased.

He took said alien into the United States with him, in utter defiance of
the officers of the law. The alien was arrested on a Treasury Department
warrant and in due time was deported to Europe, and the offender was
arrested also and held under bail for action of the grand jury, but when
the grand jury met the United States attorney refused to prosecute.

It is difficult to understand why a sworn officer of the law could
refuse to prosecute so serious a violation of the law.

In striking contrast with this case is that of an alien who, after being
duly inspected at Quebec, forged an additional name to his certificate,
by virtue of which he attempted to take a diseased alien with him into
the United States, over the Vermont border. The violation was
discovered, and both were prevented from entering, the diseased alien
being deported, and the offender has suffered imprisonment in default of
bail (five months) and paid a fine of $50.

Attempts to defeat the law have been made by providing aliens with
naturalization papers, but on investigation we discovered sufficient
evidence to warrant us in calling the matter to the attention of the
Department of Justice, and on June 25, 1903, we succeeded in convicting
the principal figure in the scheme, and he is now undergoing a two
years’ term of imprisonment in the Detroit house of correction.

The public press somewhat severely criticised us during the month of
September, 1902, owing to a young Syrian girl having committed suicide
while being deported to Europe.

The press did not, however, publish the fact that the same girl had been
twice deported to Europe from New York, and that when taken into custody
at Detroit she was being smuggled into the United States by a lawless
element who not only ignore our laws but who derisively defy the
officers of the law.

At the time the unfortunate girl took her own life she was made aware
for the first time that the man she had expected to marry had married
another girl some few weeks previously, and this was probably the real
cause of her rash act. At any rate she was treated with every humane
consideration by us, and so far as that is concerned, she had no more
cause to complain than any one of the thousands who were similarly
deported, none of whom made any complaint of our treatment of them.

Concerning those who smuggled her into the United States, we caused
their arrest, and the Federal grand jury, on learning all the facts,
indicted the principal, who was subsequently convicted and fined $250,
which is an appropriate answer to the sensational stories circulated by
a misinformed or a malicious class.

The immigrant inspectors on the frontier are fully conscious of the fact
that the average immigrant who is detained for cause is far more a fit
object for pity than one deserving censure, and while called upon to
perform the unpleasant duty of denying them the coveted admission to the
United States, that duty is invariably performed with a maximum of
humane consideration.

It is due to the two principal railroads, who are signatories to the
agreement under which we are operating, to state that their
interpretation of the agreement, clause by clause and line by line, has
been in exact accord with the views held by the Bureau.

Free and full access to all their trains has been accorded your
inspectors, free transportation being furnished them that the
inspections may be completed before the trains reach the border.

They have removed from their trains at the border all objectionable
aliens, and have detained them at their own expense until the
Government’s disposition of them has been made.

Their instructions to all ticket agents and train hands have been in
keeping with our requests, and one result of these instructions has been
the refusal to sell tickets to more than 7,000 aliens until they first
produce evidence to prove their admissibility to the United States, and
in every case they have directed said aliens to the nearest United
States immigration office.

So far as these railway lines are concerned, up to this time there is
nothing left to be desired as to the observation of the terms of the
agreement into which they have entered with the United States Government
in regard to immigration.

A reference to the number of exclusions on account of violation of the
alien contract-labor laws will be of undoubted interest.

Employers have unquestionably made use of Canada as a source through
which to draw employees in many branches of industry. The testimony of
the rejected aliens under this head leaves no room for doubt on this
point, and while we have been unable to deport any of them direct to
Europe from a Canadian port, admission to the United States has been
denied them, and they have been compelled to remain in Canada.

Some of them have subsequently tried to effect surreptitious entry to
the United States, but owing to the system of inspection in vogue all
along the line they have failed, and for their temerity have been
deported to Europe via New York, and the pursuance of this policy has
had a very salutary effect on others, who are quite as anxious to evade
the law, but who are of less defiant demeanor.

During the periods of great industrial strife, to wit, the anthracite
coal strike and cotton workers’ lockout at Lowell, Mass., it required
constant and unflagging attention to duty on the part of the entire
force to prevent violations of the alien contract-labor laws, and the
Bureau will doubtless agree with me that the absence of the serious
complaint on the part of the United States workmen involved amply
attests that the law was remarkably well enforced under the
circumstances.

It is the common opinion of all the inspectors at important border
gateways that the majority of aliens seeking admission to the United
States in violation of the alien contract-labor law are thoroughly
advised before leaving Europe that the Canadian frontier affords the
easiest access to the United States; indeed their testimony compels this
conclusion.

Special cases might be mentioned in wearying detail, but I purpose
mentioning one case only, and will ask you to accept it as a criterion
and to judge whether it justifies the conclusion aforementioned.

On June 6, 1903, fifty-four aliens applied for admission to the United
States at Winnipeg, Manitoba, their destination being Caro, Mich.

The testimony of this party conclusively proved that they were engaged
in Europe, that all their expenses were paid by their prospective
employers, and that they were advised to reach their destination via
Winnipeg, Manitoba. This route involved a journey of 2,000 miles farther
than was necessary and a corresponding unnecessary expense.

There can be but one reason for this, and that is that the Canadian
frontier as far west as Sault Ste Marie was known to be well guarded,
while the frontier west of that point was supposed to be wide open, and
it goes without saying that for the same reason the United States ocean
ports of entry were also avoided.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Special stress must be laid on the recommendation that none but young,
active, strong, and robust men should be assigned to duty on the
frontier, and they should be selected with a view to putting none but
men of good judgment in these places of unusual importance and
responsibility.

A maintenance of the present system of border inspection must inevitably
reflect the wisdom thereof in the returns of the almshouses, hospitals,
asylums, and other places of refuge which aliens have previously been
wont to seek, for of the 5,158 denied admission at border stations it is
not improbable that a very large number of them would already be a
charge on the taxpayers of whatever community in which they might have
settled had they been admitted, and the 1,439 suffering from the
dangerous, loathsome, contagious diseases would certainly have been a
hidden menace to public health, and an element of deterioration to the
general hygienic standard of the States in which they would have
settled.

Every one of the diseased aliens reported herein was examined under most
careful circumstances by a corps of medical examiners of high repute for
proficiency, whose official certificates in writing are on file here in
each and every case, which will, when duly considered, serve to
demonstrate what a very serious omission it was to leave the frontier
subject to the methods in vogue until recently in matters of
immigration.

This report will undoubtedly show that immigration from foreign
contiguous territory is susceptible of adequate control, and the
Government can select its future citizens with as much care through this
channel as through its ocean ports of arrival, and successfully exclude
all who would tend to pollute rather than to promote the general body
politic.

                          Respectfully,
                              ROBERT WATCHORN, _Commissioner_.
                    Hon. F. P. SARGENT,
          _Commissioner-General of Immigration_,
                          _Washington, D. C._


[Illustration: Nicola Curro at Work—Ina Americanized—Saint’s Figure,
Covered with Bags of Money]

Of new legislation there is an abundance in prospect, varying all the
way from the carefully considered bill introduced by Senator Lodge, of
Massachusetts, to impose an educational test and exclude illiterate
immigrants, to the wildly impractical measure introduced by
Representative Adams, of Pennsylvania, a Congressman from a district
that is filling up with immigrants, and who would limit the number of
aliens who may enter the country in any one year to 80,000. I wonder how
he would select them from a million, by competitive examinations in
twenty languages and three hundred dialects, and a series of gymnastic
events to determine physical fitness? What proportion of men, women, or
children would he admit?

Representative Simmons has introduced a bill which would establish a
system of State bureaus which should set forth to arriving immigrants
the advantages of each particular portion of the country. If all or even
a large portion of the immigrants came with unsettled plans or uncertain
destinations, this would be an excellent plan, providing that Italian
farmers, who are accustomed to farming with a spade, were not deflected
to agricultural districts where sulky plows and three-horse teams are
necessary, and Scandinavian agriculturists, learning of the wealth of
the valley of the Red River, did not go there expecting to maintain
their health in a climate entirely different in the mean from that to
which they have been accustomed.

There is a great amount of wisdom in portions of the following extracts
from Commissioner Sargent’s last Report, selected from under the titles
of “Distribution and Naturalization” and “New Legislation,” and each
recommendation would undoubtedly serve to increase the efficiency of our
present system and bring about a betterment of the condition of
immigrants at present in the country as well as to assist those who
might arrive in future; but their great drawback is that they are
patches on a system which is fundamentally wrong in itself.


It is impossible for any but the most reckless or foolishly optimistic
to consider the figures presented in this report without realizing their
serious bearing upon our well-being. It is not alone that virtually
1,000,000 aliens have been added to our population within the brief
space of one year, although that fact is one of large dimensions. The
constituent elements of this great army of invasion are to be
considered, their individual character and capacity for useful work,
their respect for law and order, their ability to stand the
strain—morally, physically, mentally—of the life of their new
surroundings; in other words, the power to assimilate with the people of
this country and thus become a source of strength for the support of
American institutions and civilization instead of a danger in periods of
strain and trial. To doubt that they possess such ability is to
discredit unvarying human experience. Human beings vary not so much
because of any inherent difference of nature as because of difference in
the molding influences of which at every stage of development they are
the product. All instruction of mind and training of body constitute a
practical recognition of this fact. The problem presented, therefore, to
enlightened intelligence for solution, is how may the possibility—nay,
probability—of danger from an enormous and miscellaneous influx of
aliens be converted, by a wise prevision and provision, into a power for
stability and security? If such a solution can be obtained, it seems the
part of foolhardiness to make no effort to that end, to trust fatuously
to the circumstance that, though numerically immigration was years ago
nearly as large in proportion to our population as it now is, no very
serious ill resulted from the failure to take any especial care in
reference to it other than an inspection at the time of arrival.

In my judgment the smallest part of the duty to be discharged in
successfully handling alien immigrants with a view to the protection of
the people and institutions of this country is that part now provided
for by law. Its importance, though undeniable, is relatively of
secondary moment. It cannot, for example, compare in practical value
with, nor can it take the place of, measures to ensure the distribution
of the many thousands who come in ignorance of the industrial needs and
opportunities of this country, and, by a more potent law than that of
supply and demand, which speaks to them here in an unknown tongue,
colonizes alien communities in our great cities. Such colonies are a
menace to the physical, social, moral, and political security of the
country. They are hotbeds for the propagation and growth of those false
ideas of political and personal freedom whose germs have been vitalized
by ages of oppression under unequal and partial laws, which find their
first concrete expression in resistance to constituted authority, even
occasionally in the assassination of the lawful agents of that
authority. They are the breeding-grounds also of moral depravity; the
centres of propagation of physical disease. Above all, they are the
congested places in the industrial body which check the free circulation
of labor to those parts where it is most needed and where it can be most
benefited. Do away with them, and the greatest peril of immigration will
be removed.

Removed from the sweat-shops and slums of the great cities, and given
the opportunity to acquire a home, every alien, however radical his
theories of government and individual right may have been, will become a
conservative—a supporter in theory and practice of those institutions
under whose benign protection he has acquired and can defend his
household goods. Suitable legislation is therefore strongly urged to
establish agencies by means of which, either with or without the
co-operation of the States, aliens shall be made acquainted with the
resources of the country at large, the industrial needs of the various
sections in both skilled and unskilled labor, the cost of living, the
wages paid, the price and capabilities of the lands, the character of
the climates, the duration of the seasons,—in short, all of that
information furnished by some of the great railway lines through whose
efforts the territory tributary thereto has been transformed from a
wilderness within a few years to the abiding-place of a happy and
prosperous population.

Another means of obviating danger from our growing immigration is the
enactment of legislation to prevent the degrading of the electorate
through the unlawful naturalization of aliens. Undoubtedly such
naturalization is now often granted upon very insufficient evidence of
the statutory period of residence, a looseness in the practice of the
courts which is fostered by the heat and zeal of partisanship in
political contests. It rests with Congress to prevent such abuses, and
the consequent distrust in the popular mind of the purity of elections,
by establishing additional requirements to be complied with by aliens
seeking the privilege of citizenship.

Within the past year the Bureau has established at the various ports of
entry a card-index system, by reference to which the date of the arrival
and personal identity can be readily verified. To require every alien
applicant for naturalization to produce a certified copy of such record,
attested by the signature and seal of the custodian thereof, would
substitute for the oral testimony of professional witnesses written
evidence of an entirely reliable character.

In addition to the new legislation recommended, I have to suggest that
Congress be urged to strike out from section 1 of the act approved March
3, 1903, the words which exempt transportation companies from the
payment of the head tax for aliens brought by them, respectively, who
profess to be merely transits to foreign territory. It is believed that
that provision was retained in the act through a clerical error, and its
elimination is recommended because of the embarrassments, both to the
transportation lines and to the Bureau, in its enforcement. The amount
saved to the passenger carriers is too trivial to justify the labor and
delay involved in ascertaining who are actually transits, and under the
law not properly subject to the head tax, and who are merely professing
to be such.

The new law referred to above has not been in operation long enough to
enable the Bureau to point out specific defects other than that one just
cited; but it was so carefully drawn and so aptly embodies the results
of the Bureau’s experience in the ten years of the latter’s existence,
that the best results are anticipated.

Irrespective of the effect in diminishing the number of alien arrivals,
now approximating 1,000,000 annually, I am impressed with the importance
of still further measures to improve the quality of those admitted. Such
measures would be merely additional steps in the same direction already
taken in dealing with the question of immigration to this country. They
would involve no new departure from a policy which has been pursued for
years, and which therefore may now be assumed to be a fixed principle of
the United States in dealing with this subject. From this point of view
it seems not unjust to require of aliens seeking admission to this
country at least so much mental training as is evidenced by the ability
to read and write. This requirement, whatever arguments or illustrations
may be used to establish the contrary position, will furnish alien
residents of a character less likely to become burdens on public or
private charity. Otherwise it must follow that rudimentary education is
a handicap in the struggle for existence, a proposition that few would
attempt to maintain. It would also, in a measure, relieve the American
people of the burden now sustained by them of educating in the free
schools the ignorant of other countries.

There should also be some requirement as to the moral character of such
persons. The present law excludes convicts. This only partially
accomplishes the purpose of establishing a moral standard for admission
to this country. Without attempting in the restricted limits of this
report to indicate the method of devising such legislation, it is
sufficient to point to the criminal record in this country of many
aliens as a justification for this recommendation. Before the close of
the next fiscal year the Bureau will be in possession of interesting and
suggestive data in relation to this subject.

For the purpose of distributing arriving aliens in accordance with the
plan already outlined, it is recommended that suitable legislation be
enacted for the establishment, in connection with the various
immigration stations, more particularly the Ellis Island station, of
commodious quarters, properly officered, where information may be given
to the new arrivals. In such quarters should be displayed maps of the
different States, with descriptive matter as to the resources and
products of each State, the prices of land, the routes of travel thereto
and cost of transportation, the opportunities for employment in the
various skilled and unskilled occupations, the rates of wages paid, the
cost of living, and all other information that would enlighten such
persons as to the inducements to settlement therein offered respectively
by the various sections of the United States. I believe that such a plan
is entirely practicable, and that its adoption offers at once the
easiest and most efficient solution of the serious problems presented by
the enormous additions of alien population to our great cities, and the
resultant evils both to the people of this country and to the
immigrants.

For the purpose of forming an approximately accurate estimate of the
actual annual increase of the population of the United States by the
immigration of aliens, it is recommended that measures be taken to
obtain information of the number of aliens departing annually. These
figures will be valuable to students of the subject as presenting both
sides of the case, and will correct the extravagant estimates that may
be made from reports of arrivals only as to the actual size of our alien
population.


I do not think it is an unwarranted assumption to say that in the
foregoing chapters the frauds which are enacted for and among immigrants
who sail from the southern portions of Europe are well disclosed, and
that sufficient light is thrown on the dark corners of the situation to
enable thinking people to consider understandingly the tremendous
problem before the nation; but for corroboration of statements made and
for new information of a most pointed and direct nature I beg to submit
the major portion of the report of Special Immigrant-Inspector Marcus
Braun,[3] who left the United States two or three months previous to the
departure of my wife and myself. It considers many conditions among
classes of immigrants which, while not so numerous as the Italians, are
nevertheless most important factors in the question. Mr. Braun says:

Footnote 3:

  Exhibits mentioned in Mr. Braun’s report are omitted.


                                     NEW YORK, N. Y., _August 24, 1903_.

SIR: I have the honor to make the following report, pursuant to
authority contained in Bureau Letter No. 35,719, dated March 21, 1903,
authorizing me “to proceed to such points in Europe as may be necessary
for the purpose of procuring information concerning certain knowledge
believed to be possessed by the Italian authorities as to emigration of
undesirable aliens to the United States, and also in regard to persons
who are booking diseased and otherwise inadmissible aliens to Vera Cruz
en route to points in the United States.” This report is likewise made
pursuant to directions received from you in personal interviews had on
March 23, 1903, authorizing me to procure general information and
evidence, where practicable, concerning the large influx to the United
States of undesirable and inadmissible aliens, and the methods employed
by steamship companies, agents in their employ, or other persons, to
induce such emigration, as is more specifically enumerated in Bureau
memoranda containing the following specific questions and directions:


“1. What steps do the steamship companies take at European ports to
ascertain if their passengers are eligible for admission under the law?

“2. What secret instructions are given to such passengers at the various
rendezvous where the government officials make their examinations?
Examinations usually made twenty-four hours before sailing. This is
particularly true of London and Liverpool.

“3. How many undesirable aliens are brought from the Continent to the
Jewish shelters in Whitechapel, London, weekly, and are there put
through a purifying process preparatory to being shipped to the United
States via Canada?

“4. What steps are being taken at Marseille, Antwerp, and Chiasso to
deflect diseased aliens from the United States ports to Canada and
Mexico?

“5. Do Canadian lines really reject passengers for cause at Liverpool,
as stated by them; and if so, what percentage, and for what causes?

“6. Are immigrants induced to ship to Canada, who would otherwise have
shipped to the United States, by reason of a cheaper fare, to wit, the
$2 head tax?

“7. Do all Canadian lines make the two rates indicated? If not, which
ones do?

“8. Does Anton Fares, a ‘runner’ at Marseille, act direct for certain
lines? If so, which ones?

“9. It is very important to ascertain if Frederic Ludwig still
represents the Beaver Line at Chiasso.

“10. Ascertain how Hamburg-American Packet Company secures the miserable
people they put off at Halifax, while carrying to New York on same line
or ship acceptable aliens.

“11. Note particularly report of Mr. Watchorn, a copy of which will be
supplied. Would also recommend getting copy of January, 1903,
_Blackwood’s Magazine_ and noting article therein on Immigration.”


I desire, in addition thereto, to refer to directions contained in
Bureau letter No. 36,663, dated April 6, 1903, directing me to observe
whether the requirements of section 8 of the act of March 3, 1893, are
being complied with, to the effect “that all steamship or transportation
companies engaged in the transportation of aliens shall keep exposed to
view in their offices abroad, where tickets are sold to emigrants, a
copy of the United States immigration laws, printed in large letters in
the language of the country where such offices are located, and to
instruct their agents, moreover, to call the attention thereto of
persons contemplating emigration, etc.”

Subsequent to my return from Washington, after receiving above
instructions and directions, and until my departure on April 9, 1903, I
was in daily attendance at the Immigration Bureau at Ellis Island for
the purpose of familiarizing myself with the work of the Department as
conducted at that station.

On April 9, 1903, I sailed on the steamship _Deutschland_, bound for
Hamburg, Germany, and arrived at the latter place April 17, 1903. Having
received no specific instructions concerning any particular route which
I was to travel to procure the information desired, and owing to the
fact that I frequently received information which did not permit of a
systematic or straight line of travel, and prompted also by the desire
to procure authentic information at the very home of the emigrant, I
followed occasional instances and cases as they presented themselves to
me.

In all I traveled about 25,000 miles by railroad and about 600 miles by
special conveyances, visiting substantially all the provinces and crown
lands of the following countries: Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia,
Roumania, Switzerland, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, and Great
Britain, making special studies of the subjects involved at the
following European ports: Hamburg, Bremen, Stettin, Fiume, Trieste,
Odessa, Naples, Genoa, Marseille, St. Nazaire, Havre, Antwerp,
Rotterdam, Southampton, London, and Liverpool.

I find upon investigation that the steamship companies carrying
emigrants from Naples, Hamburg, and Rotterdam are subjecting such
emigrants to a strict medical examination for the purpose of
ascertaining whether or not they are afflicted with any dangerous
contagious disease which might prevent their landing in the United
States; this can be said of almost all European ports, but is more
strictly enforced at the three ports enumerated; at the other ports
there is a disposition to be more lax in this respect, particularly at
Havre, France, where, in the search for persons afflicted with trachoma,
the eyeball is merely examined, and no eyelid is turned up as at the
other three ports mentioned above; the additional method of the physical
examination employed is to require the emigrant to hold up his hands,
which, of course, does not permit the discovery of any other ailments
except those visible to the naked eye. Questions are also asked the
emigrants concerning other grounds of inadmissibility, such as whether
the emigrant is a criminal or an ex-convict, but no further
investigation is made in this respect and the answers given by the
emigrant are deemed sufficient.

I did not discover any secret instruction given to passengers at the
points of embarkation; the usual questions are asked of the emigrants,
and if correctly answered they are permitted to proceed, otherwise they
are refused; the latter, however, is a rare occurrence, for the reason
that almost all of these emigrants arrive at the ports thoroughly
instructed, such instructions being given them before they start upon
their journey by subagents in the employ of the steamship companies or
their general agencies. While I have no direct proof that the steamship
companies are directly concerned or even tolerate the giving of these
secret instructions, yet I learned in the course of my travels,
particularly in the countries of Austria-Hungary and Russia, that a
large number of reputable persons, such as priests, school-teachers,
postmasters, and county notaries, are directly connected with certain
agents representing these steamship companies, and that they advise and
instruct the emigrants how to procure steamship tickets, passports, and
all other things necessary for their travel, for all of which they
receive a commission from the agent employing them. It is obvious that
since the amount of the earnings depends entirely upon the amount of
business procured, hence, in their anxiety, the subagents above
enumerated, by promises and in order to earn a commission, induce a
large number of persons to leave their homes and come to the United
States. The governments of each of these countries, in good faith, are
endeavoring to stop this sort of traffic and provide for the punishment
of any person inducing another to leave the country; but I found that in
many of the towns visited the local authorities are in league with the
subagents, and their business thrives practically with the consent of
the officials whose duty it is to prevent it; this is particularly true
of Austria-Hungary, as I was able to ascertain from personal interviews
with a large number of emigrants at the Austro-Prussian border. I also
ascertained that a majority of these people act for and are in the
employ of F. Missler at Bremen, and The Anglo Continentales Reise-Bureau
at Rotterdam. Upon obtaining this information, together with specific
data, names and addresses of these so-called subagents, I laid the
matter before Dr. Koerber, prime minister of Austria, and Coloman de
Szell, prime minister of Hungary. They at first appeared incredulous,
and the latter called my attention to the newly enacted prohibitive
emigration laws of Hungary, a copy of which, together with translations
thereof, is hereto annexed and marked “Exhibit A, No. I” and “Exhibit A,
No. II.” However, upon my submitting to them the information which I had
in my possession, including the names and addresses of people who were
acting as such agents, an investigation was caused at their instance, a
number of arrests made, and convictions had for the illegal solicitation
of emigration. The names of these persons, together with their addresses
and vocations, and the periods for which they were sentenced, are
annexed hereto and marked “Exhibit A, No. III.”

The police officials in the course of the investigation made, which led
to the arrest of these men, confiscated a large number of letters and
literature containing offers and inducements to emigrate. The agencies
whence this literature emanated also flood the respective countries,
particularly Hungary and Croatia, with similar literature through the
mails, but great vigilance is exercised by the authorities, and most of
these letters, bearing the postmark of Hamburg, Bremen, or Rotterdam,
are confiscated and are never delivered to the addresses, if, in the
judgment of the postal officials, they contain enticing literature
respecting emigration. I have seen at the offices of the ministry at
Budapest at least one-half million of these letters and documents from
time to time confiscated, and through the courtesy of the Hungarian
Government I was enabled to procure a few of the letters which I annex
hereto and mark respectively “Exhibit B, No. I, II, III, IV, V, and VI.”
Some of this literature has features quite amusing, and I respectfully
beg to submit to you a copy, together with a liberal translation of two
poems, marked “Exhibit C I, and C II,” intended to work upon the
susceptibility of the plain peasant in order to induce him to emigrate.
I also invite particular attention to a slip which is invariably
contained in such letters sent through the mails by F. Missler, of
Bremen, a copy of which, together with the translation thereof, is
hereto annexed and marked “Exhibit D.” The idea of sending out this slip
appears to be to create the person to whom it is sent a sort of a
subagent, by offering him a compensation of eight crowns for every
steamship ticket that he succeeds in selling to an emigrant, and through
this offer any number of persons are engaged as subagents for F.
Missler, at Bremen. The Anglo-Continentales Reise-Bureau at Rotterdam is
also engaged in sending out personal letters to peasants, containing
offers of commission, provided they will procure for them the sale of
steamship tickets. I herewith annex one of such letters, with a
translation, marked “Exhibit E.”

With reference to written question No. 3, I visited the Poor Jews
Temporary Shelter, at 84 Leman Street, Whitechapel, London, and there
interviewed the superintendent, Mr. J. Sonper, from whom I learned that
on the average 500 Russian, Polish, and Roumanian Jews are brought there
weekly by steamer from either Antwerp or Rotterdam, and are detained at
the Home until they are enabled to raise sufficient money with which to
prepay their passage to America, or until they are in a sufficiently
good condition to be acceptable to the steamship companies at the port
at which they intend to embark. Mr. Sonper himself acts as an agent for
various steamship companies, and informed me that since the Canadian
Government is equally strict as the United States Government in the
medical examination of emigrants he tries to induce persons to go to
South Africa, but so far he has met with poor success, for the reason
that persons under his care all have a desire to go to the United
States. He cited instances to me where people were detained by him at
the Jewish Home for as long a period as six months in order that they
may be properly prepared for their proposed trip.

A more adequate and definite idea of the scope and activity of the Poor
Jews Temporary Shelter may be had by examining the last three annual
reports of the organization, a copy of each of which is hereto annexed
and marked “Exhibit X I, II, and III.”

Concerning the steps taken at Marseille, Antwerp, and Chiasso to deflect
the diseased emigrants from the United States ports to Canada and
Mexico, I beg to state the following: At Chiasso this practice has been
largely discontinued since the strict enforcement of the immigration
laws of the United States and the strict observance of the medical
examinations at Canadian ports. At Antwerp the practice is still
prevailing, though in a lesser degree, the information given to such
emigrant being that he sail to England, preferably to London, whence his
departure and opportunity of landing in the United States will be much
easier than from any other port. The “hotbed” for the deflection of such
diseased emigrants, a majority of whom come from Syria, Armenia, and
Greece, is Marseille. There are in Marseille about a half-dozen duly
licensed and properly appointed steamship agencies, each of whom employs
its “runners,” the most unscrupulous of whom is one Anton Fares, the
publisher of the Syrian weekly _Al Mircad_. These runners are at a
landing whenever a steamer having such emigrants aboard arrives from
Syria, Turkey, or Greece. These emigrants are then taken charge of by
the runners and escorted to the various emigrants’ headquarters to be
there examined and classified. Such of these emigrants who are not
afflicted with some disease receive the ordinary instructions and are
shipped via regular ports of embarkation, mostly Havre and Boulogne.
Those found suffering from trachoma or favus are then thoroughly
instructed and are told that the only way for them to effect an entrance
to the United States is to embark at St. Nazaire, France, and sail on
the ships of the French line (Compagnie Générale Transatlantique) for
Vera Cruz, Mexico, and, according to the personal statement made to me
by Fares, those emigrants are then escorted across the Mexican border to
the United States by friends or people with whom he is connected in a
business way. Heretofore entry into the United States from Mexico was
effected by way of Laredo, El Paso, or Eagle Pass, but since the
detention and deportation of some of these emigrants who thus effected
an entry to the United States this method was abandoned and the above
method resorted to. I verified this statement by personal investigation
at St. Nazaire and from interviews had with the Mexican and Cuban
consuls and the manager of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, each
of whom informed me that no fewer than 250 emigrants leave that port on
the 21st day of each and every month for Mexico. I briefly referred to
this condition of things in my report to the Department, dated,
respectively, Marseille, June 28, 1903, and Paris, July 10, 1903. So
alarming did I find these conditions at St. Nazaire that I was prompted
thereby to address my cablegram to the Department on July 13, 1903,
suggesting a close watch on the Mexican border outside of regular
railroad passes, and I also briefly referred to these matters in
subsequent communications to the Department. I also ascertained that all
of the steamers plying between St. Nazaire, France, and Vera Cruz,
Mexico, are controlled and operated by the Compagnie Générale
Transatlantique, and that emigrants are booked directly from Beirut,
Syria, via Marseille and St. Nazaire, to Vera Cruz, as more fully stated
in my previous communications to the Department on this subject.

Regarding the question as to whether Canadian lines really reject
passengers for cause at Liverpool, and what percentage and for what
causes, I beg to state that I have visited the various emigrant
lodging-houses at Liverpool controlled by the White Star, Cunard,
Dominion, American, Allan, and Canadian Pacific Railroad (Beaver Line)
lines, and found that the emigrants are subjected to a strict medical
examination, and those found suffering from trachoma or favus are
promptly rejected, the proportion of such rejections not exceeding two
per cent.

As to whether or not emigrants are induced to ship to Canada, who would
otherwise have shipped to the United States, by reason of a cheaper fare
or because of the $2 head tax, I respectfully submit that such emigrants
are frequently, and in a large number of cases, induced to ship to
Canada. The reason for this, however, is not the desire to avoid the $2
head tax, but because of the cheaper railroad fares charged to emigrants
in the Dominion of Canada by the Canadian Pacific Railroad. In every
such case the emigrant is invariably told that upon landing he must
state his destination to be some place or town in Canada, where he
intends to settle. Having thus availed themselves of the advantage of a
cheaper fare, they then await the coming of an agent or some person
connected with the agency where they purchased their tickets, and are
escorted across the border into the United States.

In regard to the inquiry as to whether all the Canadian lines make the
two rates indicated, I desire to report that heretofore the Beaver Line
charged a cheaper rate of fare than the other Canadian lines; this,
however, has been abandoned, and at present a uniform rate is charged
over all Canadian lines. I had an interesting and lengthy interview with
Mr. I. I. Gilbertson, the Liverpool traffic agent of the Canadian
Pacific Railway, which now operates the former Beaver Line under the
name of the Pacific Railway line, and learned from him that, while the
line he represented was not in the steamship pool, he was upholding the
regular rates of the pool, and had no intention of deviating therefrom.
He added that he regretted very much the bad repute into which the
Beaver Line had gotten, and, while he admitted that it was partly
justified, he thought that it was worse than deserved. Mr. Gilbertson
also told me that all of the Continental agents of his line have been
fully and thoroughly instructed to comply strictly with the immigration
laws of both the United States and Canada in booking passengers, and
that under no circumstances would tickets be sold to passengers for
Quebec or Montreal whose original destination is some part of the United
States.

In reply to the inquiry as to whether Anton Fares, a runner at
Marseille, acts direct for certain lines, I beg to refer to my previous
reports to the Department made in this connection, wherein I stated,
among other things, that Fares does not represent any line directly, but
that his services are very much sought after by all of the agencies
established at Marseille, and I reiterate that he is one of the most
dangerous and unscrupulous men in the business.

Replying to the inquiry as to whether Frederic Ludwig still represents
the Beaver Line at Chiasso, I likewise beg to refer to my report on this
subject, dated Chiasso, June 25, 1903, and I reiterate that Ludwig still
represents the Beaver Line at Chiasso, but apparently does not book any
diseased emigrants and invariably causes a physician to examine his
passengers. In all other respects, however, I found Ludwig as active,
energetic, and reckless in the pursuit of his business as ever before,
as a result of which he was arrested in Italy for soliciting emigration,
released on bail of 20,000 lire pending his trial, and subsequently
“jumped” his bail, forfeiting the amount.

[Illustration: Nicola Curro Studying English in the Author’s Home in New
York]

In regard to the question as to how the “Hamburg-American Packet Company
secures the miserable people they put off at Halifax, while carrying to
New York on same line or ship acceptable aliens,” I respectfully refer
to my report dated Jassy, June 17, 1903. I endeavored to ascertain the
method by which these persons referred to were procured, and for this
purpose had an interview at the steamship office of George Stoeckel, at
Odessa, by whose representative, Johann Bischof, I was informed that the
main reasons for sending emigrants into the United States via Halifax
were the cheaper rate and the possibility of evading the immigration
laws at the Canadian border with greater success than at the United
States ports. Realizing that diseased and afflicted emigrants have to
undergo a close inspection at a United States port, this agency of
Stoeckel’s makes it a practice to solicit the business of such people
with the thorough understanding that they are to travel via Halifax. The
said agency has a number of subagents traveling all over the southern
part of Russia, ostensibly engaged as agents for agricultural
implements, representing some American firm, but in reality only to
dispose of steamship tickets and seek out such persons who have fears
about traveling owing to some affliction which would prevent their
admittance at a United States port. These people are given every
assurance that if traveling via Halifax they will have to undergo very
little inspection, if any, and can obtain admittance into the United
States without difficulty. It seems immaterial to these agents whether
the emigrant would be permitted to land or not, even at Halifax, for in
the latter case he would be deported, with no probability of his ever
returning to Russia, and hence the agent would escape all liability.
Subsequent to this interview I called on Mr. A. Storm, manager of the
passenger department of the Hamburg-American Line at Hamburg, and called
his attention to this practice, whereupon he showed me copies of
personal letters written to all of the agents warning them not to book
any emigrants via Halifax intended for the United States, with
instruction that such emigrants would be refused, and, moreover, the
agents would forfeit all commissions, the agency being withdrawn from
them in addition. My personal investigation seemed to confirm this
statement of Mr. Storm, for the reason that prior to my going to Odessa
I frequently found circulars inviting emigration to the United States
via Hamburg to Halifax, one of which circulars I annex to this report,
marked “Exhibit F I.” Later on, however, I failed to find any of these
circulars except in rare instances, but instead found a large number of
circulars sent out by Falck & Co., general agents of the
Hamburg-American Line, specially calling the attention of the proposed
emigrants to the advisability of having themselves examined by a
physician prior to their departure, to ascertain whether they are
suffering from trachoma or favus, and informing them of the fact that if
suffering from any of these diseases they will be barred from landing in
America, regardless as to what route they took. I inclose two copies of
such circulars, one in Slovak and the other in Hungarian, together with
a translation, marked “Exhibit F II.”

Following your instructions to investigate the fact as to whether
steamship companies or transportation companies engaged in the
transportation of aliens observe the requirements of section 8 of the
act of March 3, 1893, I called your attention in some of my previous
reports to instances where the law was not observed. However, the law is
observed by the majority of the steamship companies, but, I am
satisfied, not in an effective manner. It is true that a copy of the law
is displayed in the language of the country where such steamship offices
are located, but it is equally true that very few of the emigrants have
the time or the inclination to read it, and as a large percentage of
them are unable to read at all it tends to make the law of very little
if any value. At the border of Russia and Germany this law referred to
is displayed in the German language, and I found that the great majority
of emigrants are Russians, Poles, and Hebrews, none of whom can read or
understand the German language.

I desire to invite your particular attention to instructions contained
in Bureau letter No. 35,719, dated March 21, 1903, authorizing me “to
procure information concerning certain knowledge believed to be
possessed by the Italian authorities as to emigration of undesirable
aliens to the United States,” and to personal directions upon this point
given me in our interview on March 23, 1903. I have made thorough
investigations to ascertain, if possible, first, whether or not such
knowledge is really possessed by the Italian authorities, and, second,
in what measure this circumstance was instrumental in encouraging
undesirable emigration to the United States. I find a general
disposition on the part of the Italian Government and authorities to
restrict emigration of persons visibly afflicted by some disease, this
restriction being by no means made for the benefit of the United States,
but because of the opinion that the influx from Italy of this class of
people might cause the United States Government to enact more
prohibitive immigration laws, a thing very much feared in Italy, for the
reason that Italy considers the United States the best safety valve for
the discharge of its over-population. More prohibitive immigration
legislation on the part of the United States, if it would materially
affect the influx of Italian emigrants to the United States, might, in
the opinion of the Italian people, have the effect of reducing a great
many of their revenues. I have ascertained that the prosperity of entire
villages in the southern part of Italy depends upon remittances
regularly made from the United States.

The Italian authorities, as such, profess to have no such knowledge of
undesirable emigration as indicated in your personal interview with me.
Pauperism in Italy is differently construed than in the United States.
Over there no person, no matter how poor he may be, is considered a
pauper so long as he appears to be able-bodied and is in a condition to
walk about, and no person is committed to the poorhouse unless
physically disabled to such an extent as to be unable to be about
without the assistance of another, and if placed in the poorhouse under
those circumstances there is no possibility of their ever attempting to
come to the United States. These are the only paupers of whom a record
is kept by the authorities, and who are recorded as public charges upon
the respective communities. Of the other class of poor people, who are
not only in the prevailing majority, but who constitute a material part
of the Italian population, and who, according to American conceptions,
would be considered paupers, no public record is kept, except by the
priests of the respective villages and towns in which they reside. These
people are considered poor and are dependent upon the charities of the
Church. They can obtain at any time a certificate of poverty, but still
are not recorded as paupers. Mr. Angelo Boragino, deputy consul of the
United States at Genoa, gave me valuable assistance in my attempt to
discover the existence of such records.

Unlike Italy, all other countries do keep a public record of their
paupers, copies of which are obtainable at any time. I beg to annex
hereto two such authenticated copies of pauper records of the township
of Klenocz, Hungary, and Nyustya, Croatia, marked, respectively “Exhibit
G. I” and “Exhibit G. II.”

As already reported to you in a previous communication in reply to
Bureau letter No. 36,810, dated Washington, April 14, 1903, I located
Joseph Ellsner at Littai, Austria, and endeavored to get from him some
information with reference to importation of laborers under contract
into the United States. I succeeded in obtaining from Mr. Ellsner a copy
of a letter addressed to him by some person from Chicago, asking for 200
able-bodied men to work on the railroad, which letter I mailed to you,
together with my said report to the Department. I sent you the
information that about 1,800 Croatians are being shipped monthly from
Fiume to the United States. I endeavored to ascertain the purpose of
this large number of emigrants, and found that quite a number of them,
especially in the month of August of each year, were hired by several
Austrian firms to be sent to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Mississippi, to
cut staves, and that some of these firms, owing to difficulties which
they had in the United States with these men, who made trouble and
threats against the contractors, abandoned this practice, and it is now
largely controlled by the firm of Julius Kern & Co., at Vienna, through
whose agency some 300 or 400 men are sent to the United States at
certain intervals. I paid particular attention to this firm and employed
the friendly services of Mr. A. Knoepfelmacher, a journalist, who called
at the place of business of Mr. Kern under the pretext of writing an
article upon the enterprising ability of an Austrian firm, such as
Julius Kern & Co., in dealing so extensively with the United States. The
interview was obtained, and incidentally Mr. Knoepfelmacher asked
questions with reference to the sending of the contract laborers to the
United States, and some information was given him, with the strict
injunction, however, that no part of it should be made public. I
received a letter from Mr. Knoepfelmacher which I annex hereto, together
with a translation thereof, marked “Exhibit H,” which letter fairly
expresses the contempt of these Europeans at our contract-labor laws and
the ease with which they evade them. It was admitted by the firm of
Julius Kern & Co. that as many as 1,500 laborers are sent to the United
States under contract, each of whom is thoroughly instructed as to the
manner in which questions should be answered when arriving in the United
States. Subsequent to the receipt of the letter from Mr. Knoepfelmacher
he accompanied me to the United States embassy at Vienna, and there, in
the presence of Secretary Rives, repeated the statements contained in
his letter. The information I thus received, together with the positive
knowledge which I possessed that a great many contract laborers enter
the United States annually, prompted me to pay particular attention to
this subject, and I made various and frequent attempts, particularly at
places and railroad stations where emigrants concentrate, to question
and interview individuals or groups of emigrants, with a view of
learning their destination or of affirming my belief that they were
laborers under contract, destined for the United States. Not only did
these interrogations confirm my suspicions, but I have become convinced
that the importation of contract labor to the United States has assumed
alarming proportions of which the Department cannot form an adequate
idea. I base this conviction not only upon my experience at the various
places where emigrants concentrate, but upon observations made and
collected in numerous villages which I reached by special conveyance,
and in a large number of which I found that almost the entire male
population, able to work, was absent, and upon close inquiry I learned
that the men were all in the United States, having gone there under some
contract of labor or other. This evil is largely contributed to by
residents of the United States engaged in the steamship ticket and
foreign exchange business, and not infrequently either connected with or
publishing some newspaper in a foreign language. I took occasion to
refer to this phase in one of my previous reports to the Department,
containing information in point procured by me at the city of Laibach
and from the Government at Vienna. I am convinced that Fares, at
Marseille, also avails himself of many sources of this character in the
pursuit of his nefarious business, as I was able to judge from the
hundreds of letters I saw delivered to him, coming from the United
States and bearing the heading of numerous steamship ticket agents and
publishers of Syrian newspapers in this country. Another method which in
my opinion is frequently resorted to to promote the importation of
contract labor is as follows: A native of a certain village or town
abroad, who had spent some time in the United States, will suddenly
appear at said village, ostensibly on a visit, and within a short time
thereafter he may be met on his return trip to the United States
accompanied by groups of men whose number vary from ten to twenty-five,
according to circumstances. I have observed such men purchasing a number
of railroad tickets at Oderberg, on the Austro-Prussian border, for
Bremen, and distribute them among the group of men that so accompanied
him. I met the same man, who thus purchased the tickets at Oderberg, a
few days later at Bremen, and upon my questioning him for the
whereabouts of his friends I saw in his company at Oderberg he denied
all knowledge of them; but I saw all of them in the immediate vicinity,
and found that they had steamship tickets in their possession which were
procured in the office of F. Missler. They were no longer in groups, and
acted in a manner as though they had never seen the man who had led
them, this being evidently part of their instructions and a matter of
precaution. I could refer to hundreds of similar cases which I have
encountered in my travels abroad. Most of these people so interrogated
by me were in possession of addresses of persons residing in the United
States, alleged to be friends or relatives, but which, to my best
impression and belief, were frequently fictitious addresses, and the
addressees absolutely unacquainted with the emigrants in question. Most
of these addresses referred to persons residing inland, particularly in
the States of Ohio and Pennsylvania, and rarely to people residing in
New York city or other Atlantic seaports. Unfortunately, these emigrants
are so thoroughly instructed and prepared, that it is exceedingly
difficult and almost impossible to gain an admission from them after
they depart from their respective homes.

Supplementing a previous report which I made to the Department
concerning the prevalence of trachoma in various European countries,
particularly Austria-Hungary, Russia, the Balkan States, and Italy, I
respectfully state that so alarming and so widespread is this most
dangerous and contagious disease that the governments of the various
countries enumerated have adopted most heroic measures for its
suppression. In Hungary this disease has assumed such proportions that
the Government encounters great difficulties in some counties to muster
the required quota of men for military service, trachomatic people
belonging to the class which are rejected for the army. To combat and,
if possible, to stamp out the disease, the Hungarian Government
maintains a special medical corps, consisting of fifty physicians who
constantly travel to and fro in certain respective districts to which
they are assigned, it being the duty of every person to submit to an
examination for such disease, and if found afflicted therewith to
present himself or herself for gratuitous treatment twice a week until
cured. Records of such trachomatic persons are kept, and they are
subjected to constant surveillance in the manner that no person can
leave his respective district for another before first submitting to a
medical examination as above outlined; such person is provided with a
book in which the physician of the district makes an entry that the
bearer is either free from trachoma or afflicted thereby, and if he has
undergone any treatment, the period of such treatment is entered; upon
the arrival of such person in another district he or she must present
himself or herself immediately to the physician of that district, and if
afflicted with trachoma the treatment is systematically continued.
Although this rule is strictly enforced, people intending to emigrate
rarely observe it, and in order to be enabled to give the Department
more definite information on this subject I accompanied Dr. Simon
Buchwald, one of the physicians appointed by the Government of Hungary
for the district of Lipto-Szt. Miklos, on one of his tours through the
villages of his district, and was present at the examinations and
treatment conducted by him. I succeeded in obtaining from Dr. Buchwald
an extract of the official record of thirty-five persons of the age
ranging from seventeen to forty-two years, who had left the district for
the United States, and were afflicted with trachoma, had been treated by
him, and at the time of their departure were not cured. Only four of
these emigrants returned to their respective homes, having been refused
at the medical examination, regularly held at the control stations of
the North German-Lloyd and Hamburg-American lines, at the
Austro-Prussian border, upon the ground of this very affliction. I annex
the said extract hereto, marked “Exhibit I,” containing the names of
these thirty-five persons, and having underlined thereon, with red
pencil, the names of the four persons thus returned.

Of the countries enumerated, Hungary seems to have the disease under
best control, although I can state, on reliable information, that there
are at least 60,000 persons in the kingdom of Hungary suffering from
trachoma. The worst conditions in this respect prevail in Russia, where
at least thirty per cent of the army are afflicted with this dread
disease, who, after their discharge from the army, spread the affliction
in all parts of the empire.

Supplemental to my report heretofore submitted to the Department upon
the subject of emigration to the United States of Roumanian Jews, I beg
to reiterate that the forwarding of these people is conducted
systematically and is invariably in charge of the Jewish Colonization
Association. The method pursued in this instance is that representatives
of the Jewish congregations in the various places through which these
emigrants pass generally await them at the railroad stations and care
for their safe transportation to the next station, where the same thing
is repeated, until they reach Rotterdam, from which port they are sent
to England for embarkation to the United States. I attach herewith copy
of the usual letter sent by Doctor Lowenstein, the representative at
Bucharest, Roumania, of the Jewish Colonization Association, addressed
to the Jewish congregation at Budapest, together with a translation
thereof, advising said congregation of the near approach of a group of
such Jewish emigrants, attaching also hereto a copy of a list of names
of such group of emigrants, marked “Exhibit J.”

With reference to prostitutes and women imported for the purpose of
prostitution, I have made several reports to the Department, and,
reiterating the same, I beg to report in addition as follows: In the
cities of Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Lemberg, Krakow, and more
particularly in Warsaw and Wilna, I learned that annually a number of
women and men engaged in this nefarious business here in the United
States pay visits to the places above enumerated and invariably a number
of such immoral women follow them to the United States. In many
instances these women are provided with American passports or citizen
papers of their alleged husbands residing in the United States, and so
widespread did I find this traffic in, and issuance of, American
passports in Austria-Hungary, that I deemed it my duty to call the
attention of the Hon. Bellamy Storer, United States ambassador and envoy
plenipotentiary at Vienna, to the disgraceful practice, who again, on
his part, instructed the United States consulates under his jurisdiction
to be very careful hereafter before transmitting requests for passports
for women intending to go to the United States to join their alleged
husbands, and whose citizen papers are generally annexed to these
requests.

I have the honor also to report that the Hon. Frank D. Chester, United
States consul at Budapest, Hungary, informed me that there was quite a
traffic in United States passports and citizen papers carried on at the
city of Fiume, and that one of his attachés had some time ago made a
special investigation and reported about it, I believe, to the State
Department at Washington. In this latter instance, it is my opinion that
the passports and citizen papers are used mostly for contract laborers,
for the reason that, as I convinced myself during my travel through
Switzerland, a similar traffic is carried on there for the use of
contract laborers, who mostly come to Switzerland from the southern part
of Austria, Croatia, and Dalmatia, the business of these countries, in
the way of emigration, being done mostly by steamship agents located in
Switzerland. There is no doubt that hundreds and hundreds of citizen
papers are being sent from the United States to Europe annually for just
these purposes.

Another practice which I observed during my trip is that most emigrants
are in possession of cards of all kinds of boarding houses, emigrant
agencies, and “Homes” of all nationalities and in all cities of the
United States. I attach hereto one of said cards, of which thousands can
be obtained daily, and mark it “Exhibit K.”

I have pointed out very frequently the fact that steamship companies are
unable to ascertain the admissibility to the United States of emigrants
who present themselves prior to their embarkation, except through the
medical examination and the questions put to each of them, before the
final ticket is issued. If the emigrant is not well enough instructed by
those who originally sent him on his road, it happens that his
inadmissibility is occasionally detected, as I have noticed at the
offices of the Hamburg-American, Red Star, and Holland-American lines,
at the ports of Hamburg, Antwerp, and Rotterdam respectively, but this
is rarely the case. The emigrant is most thoroughly instructed when he
reaches the offices of the steamship companies, having undergone perhaps
two or more special courses of instruction at the hands of the so-called
subagents; but should the answers of such emigrant, in spite of this
instruction, be found faulty in certain respects, it would be idle to
assume that the agencies would refuse to forward him; a striking
example, illustrating this circumstance, may be found in an article of
the Italian newspaper _Il Dovere_, published in the city of Bellinzona,
Switzerland, bearing date June 23, 1903, a copy of which I annex hereto,
marked “Exhibit L.” The article in question will be found on the second
page of said exhibit, marked with blue pencil, which was sent from
Chiasso under like date, relating the story of an Italian emigrant by
the name of Marcaccio Vincenzo, who on May 2, 1903, sailed for New York
on board the North-German Lloyd steamer _Friedrich der Grosse_,
accompanied by a woman who had deserted her husband, in the same manner
that said Vincenzo deserted his wife, and both of whom, upon their
arrival at Ellis Island, were duly deported.

The article further states that Vincenzo returned to Chiasso and went to
the agency of Jauch & Pellegrini, where he had purchased the tickets for
himself and the woman, and demanded the return of his money, which of
course was refused. Vincenzo thereupon went to the authorities and made
a sworn statement to the effect that at the time of purchasing the
tickets mentioned he told the firm of Jauch & Pellegrini that the woman
accompanying him was not his wife, and that he was then and there
instructed by said firm that upon his arrival at New York he must state
that the woman accompanying him was his wife. The case of this emigrant
was disposed of in a very simple manner; he was sent across the border
to Italy and sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment for deserting his
wife and committing adultery. The woman in question was likewise sent to
jail for eight months.

I was informed at Chiasso by the other steamship agents that they had
reported this case to their respective companies, requesting that the
agency be withdrawn from Jauch & Pellegrini, as occurrences of this kind
had a tendency to harm them in their business, but that nothing was done
by the steamship companies in this direction. I was also informed that
the real owners of the firm of Jauch & Pellegrini are the notorious firm
of Corecco & Brivio, at Bodio, Switzerland, who are the general agents
of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, and to whom reference was
made by Special Immigrant-Inspector Robert Watchorn, in his report of
August, 1902—Corecco & Brivio are likewise the owners of La Svizzera
Societa Anonima per l’Emigrazione, at Chiasso, representing the Beaver
Line.

The material collected and the observations made during my travels
abroad would permit of the citation of hundreds, even thousands, of
other instances of a similar character, and those above enumerated are
but individual cases selected from an abundance of equally flagrant
examples. We cannot escape the conclusion that a large number of
undesirable emigrants succeed in reaching our shores in spite of the
vigorous enforcement of our immigration laws at the Atlantic seaports as
well as the Canadian border, and in spite of the apparent good faith on
the part of the steamship companies to comply with such laws. Although
this undesirable emigration still continues, yet it is my observation
that it has materially decreased in the past year or so, because of the
fact that it is generally known throughout the Continent that our laws,
as at present administered, are being strictly enforced and every effort
made to detect undesirable immigrants and to return them upon such
detection. If it were not for the precautions taken and the excellent
work at our various immigrant stations, as well as the apparent desire
of the various steamship companies to comply with the law, undesirable
immigration would have increased to alarming proportions. I do not mean
to be understood that the law in its present state is in a perfect
condition, for it still leaves open loopholes for unscrupulous steamship
agents and their dupes, who succeed in one form or other in evading the
law, in spite of the vigilance of the officials under your jurisdiction.

I am confirmed in this statement by my observance of many instances in
point, particularly the fact that a large number of deported and refused
emigrants never return to their homes, despite the fact that steamship
companies provide them with railroad tickets and necessary
transportation to convey them to their homes.

A significant feature in this connection is the exhibition to me by Mr.
A. Storm, manager of the passenger department of the Hamburg-American
Line, of a letter addressed to him by the director of the Royal Prussian
Railroad at Altona, substantially to the effect that the railroad
authorities would hereafter decline to redeem, at their full value,
unused portions of railroad tickets for points at the Austrian and
Russian frontier presented by passengers at Berlin, but would deduct
twenty per cent therefrom for the trouble and inconvenience caused by
the redemption of so large a number of these tickets. It is evident,
therefore, that some secret agency is at work deflecting from their
homes to parts unknown such deported passengers who arrive at Berlin.
One reason for such deported and refused emigrants not returning to
their homes was given me by Mr. Max Hirschfeld, manager of the
Anglo-Continentales Reise-Bureau, at Rotterdam, which, in its zeal and
activity, is second only to F. Missler, at Bremen, in an interview which
I had with him. He frankly admitted to me that it had been and is his
purpose, when passengers booked by him are refused or deported, to
prevent them from reaching their homes, for the reason that it would
injure his business to have it spread in the community that passengers
booked by him were not admitted into the United States, and in order to
accomplish this he cited cases to me where he spent as much as $100 on
individuals for such purpose.

Taking all of the above, together with the experience gained and the
observations made as a basis, the situation can be summed up as follows:

The deplorable political and financial conditions of the eastern and
southern countries of Europe, coupled with the prosperous condition of
the United States, creates a large natural emigration to our shores. The
most convincing proof in the eyes of the people of these countries of
the exceptional prosperity of our country is the large sums of money,
almost unprecedented to them, which annually arrive from friends and
relatives residing in the United States. Besides this natural
emigration, however, we are burdened with a dangerous and most injurious
unnatural immigration which from year to year assumes larger
proportions. This unnatural emigration consists of paupers and assisted
emigrants, and is induced and brought about by the unscrupulous and
greedy activity displayed by a large number of agencies and subagencies
having well-established connections in the United States and abroad,
apparently unknown to the steamship companies, which activity manifests
itself in the peddling of steamship tickets and prepaids on the
instalment plan, both here and abroad, the constant agitation and offers
of inducements by subagents in Europe, occupying semi-public positions,
who, in order to earn commissions, play upon the ignorance and
susceptibility of the plain peasant, frequently inducing him to sell or
mortgage all his belongings for the purpose of raising the necessary
traveling expenses, which latter transaction is also turned to profit by
such agent.

The steamship companies of course do not concede the existence of such
unnatural emigration, as I learned in the course of an interview which I
had with a high official of one of the steamship companies abroad. I
called his attention to this unnatural emigration, but the prevalence of
the same was denied by him. “If all this emigration is brought about by
natural causes,” said I, “and the business would come to you any way,
why do you have so many agencies broadcast instead of opening offices
under your direct supervision and control, thus saving the commissions
you have to pay your agents?” He replied, that would necessitate the
employment of a large corps of clerks and assistants, and that the
maintenance of such offices would, in the end, result in the expenditure
of a much larger sum of money than is paid out in commissions. This
argument, of course, does not in the least refute the well-established
fact that there is a very considerable unnatural emigration caused and
augmented through the agencies and methods above enumerated.

I am not prepared to say that there are remedies to combat this evil,
but I respectfully submit and state most emphatically that the influx of
this undesirable element into the United States could be reduced very
materially if means were adopted to procure the names, addresses, and,
if necessary, the pedigrees of persons constituting this class of
undesirable emigrants. All of the countries visited by me keep public
records of paupers, criminals, ex-convicts, prostitutes, and diseased;
and such records are obtainable, and if placed at the disposal of proper
United States officials the information thus at hand would obviate the
necessity of relying upon the statement of the emigrant himself, and
would tend to keep out of the United States an element which annually
invades our shores in so large a number.

The contract-labor question is somewhat more complex. It is undeniably
true that great numbers of contract laborers are annually imported into
the United States, which fact is well-known to Government officials
abroad. If the statement made to me by Herr Franz von Kaltenbrunn,
Councilor to the Ministry of the Interior of Austria, can be taken as an
argument in point, it establishes this importation of contract labor
beyond a doubt. Herr von Kaltenbrunn, in the interview which I had with
him, exhibited to me a rough sketch of an emigration bill, in the
drafting of which he was then engaged and which he said is to be
submitted to the next session of the Reichsrath (Lower House of Austrian
Parliament), such bill being designed for the protection of Austrian
subjects who are being engaged to work abroad, by requiring the
contractor or his representative to furnish a guarantee or some form of
security to the effect that the promises and agreements contained in the
contract made with such laborer, such as safe passage, payment of wages
promised, etc., will be closely adhered to. Irrespective of this
proposed legislation, it would be very difficult, as stated in the body
of my report, to detect the fact that any such person actually travels
to the United States under contract of labor, and in my opinion there
are but two ways to discover this fact, one being that some means be
found to watch the emigrants prior to their reaching the ports of
embarkation, and the other by close scrutiny and questioning at the
various landing ports of the United States. If the various boards of
special inquiry were aided by attorneys at law assigned to them, a
twofold object would be accomplished; first, it would lead to the
discovery of the importer of contract labor himself, and, secondly, it
would dispel the prevailing opinion abroad that a large number of
persons are constantly deported from the United States as contract
laborers who, in truth and in fact, are alleged to be going to the
United States in good faith and not under contract, which I believe is
frequently the case and is due to the fact that the unfortunate emigrant
becomes so confused by the manifold advices and instructions he receives
prior to his arrival that he is made to believe things he has never
intended to say. The assignment of counsel to the various boards of
special inquiry would also aid them in every other respect.

Respectfully submitted.

                                                      MARCUS BRAUN,
                                          _Special Immigrant Inspector_.



                              CHAPTER XXII
                     WHAT TO DO WITH THE IMMIGRANT


After long and careful study of all the many and complex phases of the
immigration question, I have formed a clear and definite idea of what
should be done with the immigrant. The first suggestion of it came to me
when I saw how grossly I, in common with other Americans of the class
that is informed on the average concerning these things, misunderstood
the aliens who come to our shores, and when I perceived the first
indications of preparation of lies to be told at Naples and at Ellis
Island, in order to evade the laws of the United States. Slowly it was
demonstrated to me that any system which makes inspection dependent on
the word of the immigrant or his friends is radically wrong. Only a
conscientious analysis of the whole system allowed me to formulate the
proposition I am about to state, and I do it without prejudice, but with
strong conviction that it is the correct solution of the gigantic
problem.

Immigration must be either controlled and directed or it must be
abolished, and the last-named alternative is eliminated by common sense
and considerations of a humane nature. We need the immigrants. Our
nation owes its strength to-day to those who have crossed the ocean in
other years. Our great industries need their brawn, our undeveloped
regions need their toil, and we can easily accept 150,000,000 more human
beings as raw material; but they must come as raw material,—good raw
material. That given, our civic atmosphere, our conditions, our national
spirit must do the rest, and patriots must look to the children of the
immigrants for the best results rather than to the immigrants
themselves.

Diseased, deformed, or physically insufficient persons are not and never
can be good raw material, and should not be allowed to leave their
homes, nor should any members of their families on whom they are, or are
likely to be, dependent.

Convicts, prostitutes, persons engaged in questionable pursuits,
anarchists, radical socialists, and political agitators are a menace to
the body politic, though reasonable inability to make a livelihood
should be considered a mark of pauperism rather than failure to
accumulate any property whatsoever under European conditions.

The true conditions of all such persons is readily ascertainable from
the civic, police, and military records in the communes of their
residence, to which can be added the supplemental evidence of their
neighbors and the local officials of the communes. In the communes of
their nativity the truth is known and cannot be hidden. At the ports of
embarkation combined influences can deceive the best officials. At the
ports of arrival the hand of the inspector is still weaker, no matter
how thorough the examination or how excellent the system.

The conclusion is plain: seek the grounds on which to deny passage to
emigrants who wish to come to the United States, in the villages from
which they emanate.

What seems to me to be the best plan to do this, to keep the expense
below that which it is at present, and to avoid the opportunities which
are sure to be presented for wholesale corruption of American officials
by the transportation interests and by the emigrants themselves, is
this:

Select emigrants before itinerant boards of two, three, or more
native-born Americans who speak fluently and understand thoroughly the
language and dialects of the people who come before them,—these boards
to be on a civil-service basis.

The long diplomatic delays and ensuing red tape of incorporating the
privileges of these boards in treaties with the several European
governments can be avoided by temporary operation under the present
consular system of the United States, and little objection would be met
with from any of the governments from whose domains the immigrants come.

In districts from which the emigration is profuse at present, a smaller
number of communes and a more frequent visitation should be the
regulation. The sittings of the boards should be announced by
advertisements a sufficient length of time in advance to allow all
persons contemplating emigration to prepare to appear for examination.
Examiners should be prepared to furnish information as to destinations
and opportunities, and could, with care, prevent an increase of the
congestion in the cities of the East. In extremity, regulations could be
made which would allow them to deny clearance and passage to persons
desirous of going to districts already over-populated with aliens.

As to the requirements for admission to the United States, our present
code of laws has them well defined except in the matter of illiteracy,
and my personal observation has been that illiteracy does not interfere
either with the value of an immigrant to the civic body or with the
rapidity of his absorption among us; in fact, the educated class cling
more tenaciously to all that is Old Worldly, and are more inclined to
hold political views that are at variance with our system of government.
That a man cannot read or write his native tongue does not make him any
the worse piece of raw material here.

When a party of emigrants has been passed and given papers with
photographic identification as well as detailed physical description,
with a time limit of use of thirty days, it should be instructed as to
baggage so as to minimize this aggravating feature, and should depart
under the charge of a courier, going to the nearest port of
transatlantic departure. This would work a great change in
emigrant-carrying lines, but is plainly the most convenient and
economical procedure for all concerned. The party could be delivered
directly on board on the day of sailing, and thus all the frauds and
grafting schemes would be avoided. The saving to emigrants by this
method would more than pay for the expenses of the examination.

It is easy to see how these visiting boards could promote emigration
among the classes which are most desirable in northern and central
Europe, and are now so chary of coming. Families which have something to
lose by being turned back from the United States are loath to dispose of
their property and make the venture. If they knew they were certain of
admission before they left their homes, a year’s time would see the
level of the grade of emigrants greatly elevated.

Of reforms in transportation, little need be said. Closed cabins and
service of food for groups of six or eight, with an American Marine
Hospital Service surgeon in charge of each ship, would bring about all
that is needed, with a few minor regulations.

Ellis Island and the smaller immigrant stations should continue their
functions much as they are now, only that little hospital room and
deportation quarters would be needed; the registry feature would be
decreased to an examination of papers for admittance and to the
maintenance of the excellent card-index system. The distribution and
detention features would necessarily be continued.

To the card-index system should be added a regulation compelling all
aliens to report, at regular intervals, their whereabouts and pursuits,
to federal officials in federal judicial districts, until such time as
they become citizens of the country or are ready to depart. A most
important feature of this should be the indexing and tabulation of the
hundreds of thousands of able-bodied men who have had the excellent
military training of the armies of Europe, and would, if properly
organized, constitute a fine reserve force in America of at least
2,000,000 men.

Deportation is the severest punishment which can fall on an alien in
comparison with anything less than several years’ imprisonment, and all
admissions to the country should be made probationary; the commission of
any crime or crimes, and conviction therefor, to be followed by
punishment and _then by deportation_. Many of the minor crimes committed
by aliens are done with the intention of getting two or three years in
prison in which to learn to read and write English and acquire a trade.

The practical statesman will at once object to this programme on the
ground of the terrific expense of maintaining thousands of men in Europe
to constitute these boards of examiners. By careful computation I have
ascertained that it would cost approximately two dollars per head to
examine and admit each immigrant, whereas at this time it costs each
immigrant nearly five dollars to be examined, inasmuch as the extra
expense to which the steamship company goes is added to the price of his
ticket. Over and above this the money he relinquishes to grafters,
subagents, advisers, etc., totals a sum that is beyond reckoning.

Summing up, this plan would achieve in simple fashion the following
things:

Undesirable emigrants would be prevented from leaving their homes.

Ruin and suffering would not fall on those now sent back.

Desirable immigration would be wonderfully stimulated.

Practices of officials of foreign governments in dumping into this
country criminals, foundlings, agitators, etc., would be ended.

Emigrants would be protected and great economy in travel would be
effected.

Smuggling and underground methods would be disconcerted and
contract-labor frauds prevented.

Naturalization frauds would cease to avail, and legal naturalization
would be greatly increased.

Custom-house officers would be greatly assisted, revenues increased, and
goods-smuggling minimized.

The proper distribution of the flood of immigration would be at all
times under the control of the American government.

Immigration would cease to be affected, to its detriment, by the
business competition of transportation companies interested solely in
conveying as many aliens to America and back and forth again as often as
possible, without any regard whatsoever to the class of people carried,
so long as they have the money to pay the fares and swell the enormous
profits that emigrant-carriers realize at present.

When these things are achieved, there is no one to deny that the
immigration problem will have been solved, unless it be those who are
ignorant and prejudiced in the matter, or who profit by the continued
depression of the grade coupled with the increase in volume of
immigration which mark the present condition in a way to cause every
true American, who has the best interests of his country at heart, to
look to the future with uncertainty and dread.



------------------------------------------------------------------------



Transcriber’s note:

 1. Changed “iron she” to “irons he” on p. 108.

 2. Silently corrected typographical errors.

 3. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.





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