Copyright © The Malta Historical Society, 2007.

Source: Proceedings of History Week 2005. (175-194). [Malta : The Malta Historical Society, 2005].

[p.175] A BOOK PRINTED IN MALTA ON THE SICILIAN REVOLUTION OF 1848

Albert Ganado

I think it is true to say that few people realize how closely the history of Malta was interwoven with the Italian Risorgimento. Without delving deeply into the parallel history of Malta and the Italian states for practically half a century, one cannot fully appreciate the immense contribution Malta gave toward the achievement of the unification of Italy, and the considerable influence of the Risorgimento on Maltese politics.

Malta’s input took firm root and flourished as soon as the freedom of the press was granted by the colonial government (Ordinance IV of 1839)[375] after almost four decades of absolute censorship and government monopoly of printing. Throughout this long period the claims of the Maltese for the abolition of censorship were consistently refused notwithstanding Charles Cameron’s Proclamation of 15 July 1801, which solemnly declared that “His Majesty grants you full protection, and the enjoyment of all your dearest rights”.[376]

When all these rights were denied to the Maltese by his successor as Civil Commissioner, Sir Alexander Ball (1802-1809), an agent in London, John Richards, was appointed by the Maltese leaders to represent them with His Majesty’s Ministers. In their Instructions to Richards, dated 28 February 1810 in furtherance of those of 1806, they asked him to request the restitution of their dearest rights, the principal [p.176] ones being a free representation of the people, independent tribunals and “a free press, but not licentious, nor offensive to religion”.[377] A petition to His Majesty, signed by about 100 prominent citizens, repeated the same demands, while condemning Ball’s despotism.

All these protestations were ineffective and were gradually silenced by the harsh measures taken by Lt. General Sir Hildebrand Oakes (1810-1813), and later by ‘King Tom’, Sir Thomas Maitland (1813-1824). In the 1830s, further petitions sponsored mainly by Giorgio Mitrovich (1794-1885) and Camillo Sceberras (1771-1855) led to the appointment of a Royal Commission[378] in 1836 to investigate the affairs of Malta and the grievances complained of by the Comitato Generale Maltese, composed of 100 members chosen by 11,712 electors.[379]

The very first investigation carried out by the Royal Commissioners concerned the liberty of printing and publishing. They submitted that the general prohibition of printing and the existence of only one newspaper (The Malta Government Gazette) kept the Maltese in a state of pernicious ignorance, accompanied by many mischievous prejudices. They pointed out that one of the several objections raised against freedom of the press referred to the possibility of attacks in Maltese newspapers upon foreign governments in amity with the Government of His Majesty, with the consequence that the friendly Governments particularly exposed to such attacks would, in apprehension of the danger, regard the change with suspicion and resentment.

The Commissioners realized that it was not improbable that Italian and other aliens, resident in Malta, might thence attack the friendly Governments from whose dominions they were excluded. They therefore proposed that an alien should not be permitted to work or possess a printing press without a special licence from the head of the Government in Malta. Any alien acting in breach of this condition would be punished, or even face expulsion from the island.[380] The law enacted in 1839, however, merely made punishable writings insulting the head of a sovereign government in amity with His Majesty’s Government, or persons in any high office under any such sovereign government. Besides, publications tending to subvert any such sovereign [p.177] government were also made punishable. No provision was made for expulsion from the island.[381] These prohibitions were in due course to become a dead letter.

This was the situation in Malta in the 1840s when the whole of Italy was becoming increasingly restive under the oppression of foreign rulers or dictatorial sovereigns. What was foreseen by objectors to a free press in Malta did actually happen as the Italians dreaming of a united Italy made full use of the newly-found freedom of printing in order to attain their objective. Maltese journalism was run almost completely by Italian immigrants among whom the couple Tommaso and Ifigenia Zauli Sajani, Lorenzo Borsini, Salvatore Costanzo, Luigi Zuppetta, Giuseppe Corvaja, Ignazio Pompejano, and, at a later stage, Francesco Crispi, Guglielmo Finotti, Michele Palma, Ignazio Calona, Enrico Poerio, Michelangelo Bottari, Leone De Maria and many others. Twenty-eight newspapers appeared in the first eight months of the free press, while they became over sixty during the first half of 1846.[382]

But the Maltese press was mainly engaged in turning out a huge quantity of pamphlets, prints and broadsheets which were clandestinely circulated in their thousands in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, in Tuscany, Liguria and the Papal States. The introduction of this subversive material into the various parts of Italy was done with the cooperation of British merchants and consular agents. Naturally, this material would have no imprint showing that it was printed in Malta.

Differences, however, started creeping in between the various exponents of Italian unity as to the best way to obtain the desired end. There were two main currents, one led by Giuseppe Mazzini, the other by Nicola Fabrizi (1804-1885) in Malta which found favour with the conspirators residing in the Ionian Islands and in Corsica. Fabrizi was of the opinion that the revolutionary movement should start in Sicily and ripple over on a national scale throughout the length of Italy. He was the undisputed leader of the Giovine Italia, he organized the immigration of Italians, he founded new political factions (including one named Alla Rigenerazione d’Italia) and he set up centres of reading (Gabinetti di Lettura) for the indoctrination of the exiles and the propagation of revolutionary ideas.

In 1847 the activities of the conspirators in Malta reached extraordinary proportions. The printing of subversive material took on new dimensions, conspirators came and left as they pleased and dealings in arms and munitions transformed the island into a war arsenal, which included twenty cannon of heavy calibre. One of the [p.178] dealers, Vincenzo Bugeja (1820-1890), of Bugeja Institute fame, at one time, acted as Incaricato degli Affari di Sicilia a Malta. Two important arrivals were Luigi Zuppetta (1810-1889), the famous jurist, and the well-known Luigi Settembrini (1813-1877) who wrote about his stay in Malta in his Ricordanze. All this took place under the benevolent eyes of the authorities, both civil and military.[383] The British Government had set its ambitious eyes on Sicily as the best means to counterbalance French expansion in the Mediterranean.[384]

Sir Richard More O’Ferrall, the first civil and Catholic Governor of Malta, arrived in Malta on December 18, 1847, on the eve of the revolutions which swept across Europe for many years. The feverish preparations of 1847 were crowned with the insurrection that broke out in Sicily in January 1848, which was precisely what everyone in Malta was expecting. In its number of 5 January 1848, Il Mediterraneo informed its readers that a revolution in Sicily was imminent: Lettere ricevute col vapore napoletano Maria Cristina dicono essere il fermento grandissimo in tutta la Sicilia, e che da un momento all’altro la rivoluzione è imminente.[385]

On 12 January, in Palermo, the cannon fired salutes to celebrate the birthday of Ferdinand II, the hated King of Naples. In reply, all the bells of the city sounded a call to arms. The revolt was on. The troops were unable to control the people and a provisional Sicilian government was formed consisting of Admiral Ruggero Settimo (1778-1863) as President, Prince di Butera Scordia, the Duke of Monteleone and the Duke of Serra di Falco. In a few weeks the whole of Sicily followed Palermo’s example. The Sicilians demanded the constitution of 1812, guaranteed by England, and confirmed by Royal Decree of 11 December 1816, namely that Sicily was to have its own general parliament.

[p.179] The insurrection proliferated in various other centres throughout Italy, but both Austria in the north and Naples in the south succeeded in quelling the revolts in just over a year. Hundreds of revolutionaries once again found refuge in Malta, including Ruggero Settimo, who had earned the title of il Washington di Sicilia, and Prince Scordia.

In May 1849 other groups landed in Malta some of whom had been refused entry into Marseilles when Palermo surrendered to the troops of King Ferdinand. Pasquale Calvi, Ignazio Calona (1795-1864) and Vincenzo Giordano Orsini formed part of those groups.[386] It was Pasquale Calvi who composed the book in three volumes: Memorie storiche e critiche della Rivoluzione Siciliana del 1848. Calona published in 1851 I cenni storici e militari sulla rivoluzione e caduta di Messina del 1848, while Orsini, erstwhile president of the Defence Council, left Malta for Constantinople and assumed the name Osman Bey. Calona wrote that Orsini was in large part responsible for the failure of the Sicilian revolution, particularly the events in Messina. Several Messinese exiles protested in the Mediterraneo against this calumny.[387]

Frustration and malcontent led to serious differences and divisions among the exiles in Malta. Various committees were being set up, the first one being that formed by Rosario Bagnasco, who was succeeded by Pietro Marano. During the revolution the latter, in his capacity as Minister of Public Security, had relegated Luigi Pellegrino to Trapani. In Malta he now was subjected to harsh attacks by Pellegrino and by his friend and ally Pasquale Calvi who together formed another committee to fight that of Marano. During this sad period, instead of cultivating the same ideal, these internecine struggles of the various committees led to writings plastered on walls, protests distributed in the streets and at coffee shops, (among which Cafè Said, at 248-250 Strada Reale, apparently the favourite haunt of the exiles), harsh articles in the newspapers and numerous publications for the most part anonymous. These squabbles must have provoked the elation of the Consul for Naples in Malta, Cav. Giuseppe Ramirez, who was constantly spying on the activities and plans of the conspirators.[388]

[p.180] Meanwhile, however, two main currents emerged from the common ideal of a united Italy. One was in favour of a republican democratic state, the other opted for a constitutional monarchy under the House of Savoy. The republican movement, which thrived on its hatred of the aristocracy to whom most of the members of the provisional government belonged, gathered in its fold the hardest of the exiles, among whom Calvi, Pellegrino, Giovanni Interdonato, Antonino Miloro (1800-1877) and his brother Pasquale.[389] The monarchists, led by Ruggero Settimo, were more moderate and had propounded the idea of a Sicilian monarchy. But this separatist ideal had to be abandoned at a later stage because of the ambition of both England and France to take control of Sicily, each for its own ends.[390]

Pasquale Calvi was endowed with a noble, proud character and an extraordinary intelligence. He was born in Messina in 1794 but he settled in Palermo at the age of 18. For about seven years in the 1820s he suffered political persecution because of his liberal ideas. He practised law from 1828 onwards and asserted himself as a first class lawyer in Palermo, well-known throughout Sicily. When the 1848 revolution broke out he was a member of the Comitato Generale and successively occupied the offices of Minister of the Interior and Public Security, Minister of Justice and Cult, and later President of the Corte Suprema di Cassazione della Sicilia, under the provisional government.[391] As he was one of those excluded from the amnesty granted in 1849, he escaped to Malta where he arrived on board the French vessel Independant on 18 May 1849.[392]

Not long after his arrival, the exiles who were enjoying the hospitality of the Maltese islands came to know about the publication of a historical novel entitled Storia documentata della Rivoluzione Siciliana intended to clear the names of those held responsible for the failure of the revolution. It was felt that the way things really went should be made known to all and one of those who was keen to unravel the truth decided to write a full account of what actually happened. This was Dottor Pasquale Calvi, who immediately started writing the history of the 1848 Sicilian Revolution.

[p.181] When the word got around, he was joined by a few friends willing to take part in the venture of printing and publishing the book. The first proposal was to send the manuscript to Lausanne, but better counsel prevailed when it was decided that everything should be done in Malta. An agreement was signed on 22 May 1851 to have it printed and published by the German printer Frederick W. Franz, who seems to have been scarcely involved in the publication of political newspapers. The signatories were seven: Dr Pasquale Calvi, Domenico Caltabiano, Luigi Milanesi, Giacomo Navarra Bivona, Rosario Onofrio, Luigi Pellegrino and Benedetto Zuccarelli.[393]

Pellegrino was to deal with the printer for the publication of 1,000 copies. He bought the paper directly from the brothers Naudi, who imported it from Marseilles.

Each partner was to fork out an equal share of the expenses, and any eventual profit from the sale of the book was also to be shared equally. Clause number five stated that the imprint of the book was to show that it was being printed and published in London. This was done to avoid the restrictions of the new press law and to parry beforehand the violent reaction expected to emanate from the consulates of the undemocratic European countries.

Onofrio was unable to pay the very first instalment of his share of the expenses and he had to withdraw from the partnership. In order to stave off other looming difficulties, on 28 January 1853 Calvi bought out Caltabiano and Zuccarelli. The worst, however, was yet to come. Navarra Bivona wanted to change, without success, the terms of the agreement. He then insisted that Calvi should buy his interest in the partnership, but this was refused. He ended up by demanding one-sixth of the copies printed to dispose of them as his own, adding that if the other partners did not accede to his request, he would transfer his interest in the partnership to the consul of the King of Naples, Giuseppe Ramirez, the eternal enemy of the Italian exiles.

Faced with this blackmail, Calvi informed Navarra Bibona that he was prepared to accept his former proposal to buy him out. Navarra, however, declined and said he wanted to buy the whole edition!

From the start, Navarra had let slip to his colleagues his ardent wish to be able to return to Sicily unmolested. Obviously, the only way to attain his end was to be of service to King Ferdinand. It is not unreasonable to think that all he wanted at this stage was to pass on the book to the Spanish consul, for which he would be amply rewarded.

[p.182]

Title page of the book printed in Malta, not in London
(© Albert Ganado Collection)

[p.183] Calvi, Pellegrino and Milanesi[394] must have understood the ulterior motives of Navarra Bibona. They realized that the only way to sabotage his infamous plan was to dispose of the only asset the partnership owned, namely, the book. They severed all relationships with Navarra, and, on the 15th of May 1853 they sold all the books to a young Italian dealer in books from Imola, 36 years of age, who had come to Malta a few years before, Filippo Casolini. The price for 980 copies was £200. It was very slightly above the cost, but it was the only way out of this mess. Actually, only 986 were printed, six of which were kept by the six partners; the other 14 turned out to be defective, with pages missing.

Navarra Bivona had lost his trump card to obtain an amnesty, but the sale must have been a bitter disappointment for Ramirez. The Spanish consul had made repeated attempts to get hold of a copy of the book while it was being printed by trying to corrupt the publisher. He sent for Frederick Franz and offered him for just two copies of the book any price he wanted. The honest printer pointed out that the editors of the book were the owners and not himself. Ramirez insisted and offered him 200 scudi (equivalent to Lm32) just for two copies, but Franz stood fast. Unwilling to remain empty-handed, Ramirez sent the Russian Consul Francesco Tagliaferro,[395] to repeat the offer to Franz, but without success. A third attempt for the purchase of a dozen copies, made through Vincenzo Bugeja, later Marquis Bugeja,[396] also ended in failure, as did a fourth attempt through a common individual.

Ramirez was bent to obtain a copy of the books in order to hand over to the Maltese Government evidence for the exile from Malta of the editors and, in particular, Pasquale Calvi, author of the book, which consisted of over 1,000 pages, printed in three volumes. Except for a few pages written by Milanesi and Giacomo Navarra Bibona, the whole book was Calvi’s work.

Events at this stage took a completely different turn. Calvi was taken to Court by Navarra Bivona, ostensibly for the presentation of the 1,000 copies of the book

[p.184]

Sir Adriano Dingli (1817–1900)
Tinted lithograph published in Il Compagno Per Tutti , 1889.
Albert Ganado Collection)

[p.185] in order that they might be sold at the best offer. Navarra’s lawyer was Dr (later Sir) Adriano Dingli.[397]

It was alleged in Navarra’s written pleadings that the whole printed work had passed into the possession of Calvi. This was proven to be false as each volume was being withdrawn by Luigi Pellegrino when completed who kept it under his care until the sale to Casolini. Pellegrino was also summoned as a defendant, but the claim for the presentation of the 1,000 copies was directed solely against Calvi. Pellegrino was defended by Dr Salvatore Souchet[398] (later President of the Camera degli Avvocati), while lawyer John Griffiths[399] acted for Calvi.

Navarra called Frederick Franz to give evidence, who denied he had ever given copies to Calvi; they had all been withdrawn by Pellegrino. Gabriele Vassalli[400] who worked for Franz as compositor confirmed the truth of Franz’s evidence.

The case had barely started when Dr Dingli became Crown Advocate on 27 December 1853. The defence of Navarra was taken up by Dr (later Sir) Salvatore 23 Adriano Dingli was born in Valletta on October 8, 1817. LL.D. 1836. Warrant 13 December 1837. Chief Justice 2 November 1880. Retired 31 December 1894. He lived at 3 Sda. Forni. Died 25 November 1900. (See Joseph M. Ganado and Joseph A. Micallef, “Sir Adrian Dingli”, in The Law Journal, I (2), May 1945, 9-19; Sir Arturo Mercieca, “Sir Adriano Dingli”, in Melita Historica, I (3), 1954, 164-184, I (4), 1955, 221 -260).

[p.186]

Sir Salvatore Naudi (1820–1900)
Albert Ganado Collection)

[p.187] Naudi.[401] Both Dr Naudi, and Dr Dingli before him, were the legal advisers of the Neapolitan Consulate. Calvi was called to the witness stand by Dr Naudi to answer a set of questions put to him in writing, the so-called capitoli. Some of those questions went beyond the scope of the Court case. They were intended to entrap Calvi into confessing that he was the writer of the book, or, in case of denial, to expose him to a charge of perjury.

Indeed, the very first question was in these terms: Che il 22 di maggio 1851 una società venne formata tra l’attore (Navarra), e i convenuti per la stampa, e la pubblicazione di un’opera, scritta dal convenuto Calvi, e intitolata Memorie Storiche e critiche della rivoluzione siciliana del 1848, nella quale società, si convenne che tutti i socii contribuissero alle spese, …

The words scritta dal convenuto Calvi were nowhere mentioned in the agreement, but they were the trap set for Calvi by Navarra, presumably at the insistance of the Consul for Naples. Dr Souchet reacted immediately. Turning to Dr Naudi he exclaimed: E che! Vorreste voi con quei detti organare forse una denunzia a servigio del console di Napoli? The presiding judge, Dr (later Sir) Antonio Micallef,[402] realizing how unfairly the question was put, took hold of the capitoli and, without much ado, cancelled the incriminating words.

Calvi replied to all nine questions, denying some and qualifying others in the shortest terms possible. One of the questions referred to a so-called manifesto, dated Londra, giugno 1852, which stated that the entire work would be published in two months time, whereas the third volume was only completed towards the end of December 1852. It also mentioned that the price of the book was 5s/- per volume, which was the figure on which Navarra was basing his claim against Calvi for £125, one-sixth of £750 being the value of 1,000 copies. Calvi replied he had never seen this manifesto. It had actually been printed by Pellegrino on his own initiative.

[p.188]

Sir Antonio Micallef (1810–1889)
Tinted lithograph published in Il Compagno Per Tutti, 1889.
Albert Ganado Collection)

[p.189] The National Library in Valletta has two copies of Calvi’s book. One copy consists of four books (bound in two volumes), namely, the three volumes of the Memorie dated Londra 1851 and Tom IV, Appendice, Londra 1856, consisting of 294 pages, which gives the story of the Court proceedings against Calvi, the civil lawsuit in conjunction with the other editors, and the criminal complaint for perjury later instituted against Calvi on his own. The other copy consists of the three volumes of the Memorie, but, instead of the title page common to volumes 2 and 3, it has in the first volume the title page of the manifesto[403] and the preface is entitled PREFAZIONE DELL’OPERA instead of simply PREFAZIONE as in the four-volume copy. In the latter, the preface ends on page XVI, in the former, on page XIV.[404]

There is another important difference between these two copies. The manifesto of June 1852 states that Quest’ opera… in tre tomi… è corredata delle carte di Palermo, Messina e Catania. These maps are wanting in this copy dated 1852, but they are present in the four-volume copy of 1851-1856.

The maps are in lithography, made probably by Giuseppe Brocktorff,[405] one of the sons of Charles Frederick who died in 1850. The first map is a plan of Palermo, without title, but with 63 place names, measuring 28 x 37cm. On the second map (30 x 42.5cm), the other two cities are represented side by side. The plan MESSINA has 64 place names, the plan CATANIA has 51. At the bottom right corner there is an imprint: London 51, while a Nota Bene at the left bottom corner reads as follows: Le piante di Palermo Messina e della peloriade sono state lucidate su quelle del Cap: Smith. La [p.190] pianta di Catania su quella del Sig.r. Ittar.[406] The third map, which is not mentioned in the Manifesto, shows the eastern part of Sicily, from Messina and Torre di Faro at the north down to Siracusa. It has 16 place names, apart from those inscribed in situ, but no title. The sheet, like the other two, measures 42.5 x 30cm, but the lithograph image is smaller, about 28.5 x 23.5cm.

After Calvi’s replies under oath to the capitoli, (while the civil case was still pending), the scene was set for Navarra to file a complaint for criminal proceedings against Calvi on the ground of false evidence. This prosecution was the persecution aimed at Calvi by the Consul for Naples: the civil case was merely the means to an end. On 10 April 1854, Calvi appeared before Magistrate Dr Salvatore Cecy,[407] sitting as a Court of Criminal Inquiry, to answer a charge of perjury in a civil lawsuit, in that he had given false replies to four questions out of nine in the civil proceedings. Ten days later (20 April), the record of proceedings was sent to the Crown Advocate. On 26 April Dr Adriano Dingli, this time as Crown Advocate, filed the bill of indictment in the Criminal Court for Calvi to be tried by a jury for perjury. There were various sections in the Criminal Code concerning false evidence. The least serious carried the punishment of hard labour from one to three months. Calvi was charged under this section.

Sitting in the Criminal Court was Judge Antonio Micallef who decided the civil case against Navarra Bibona on 22 February 1855. A large section of the press did its level best to influence the members of the jury against Calvi. The most virulent articles appeared in L’Ordine, founded by the Jesuit Father Angelo Zuliani, but later run by the notorious spy Tito Vespasiano Micciarelli, a bitter enemy of the exiles, who castigated Mazzini, Garibaldi and Cavour, and who was a staunch defender of the Jesuits, the Pope, the Bourbons and Austria. L’Ordine reminded its readers that Calvi had insulted the Maltese when he wrote that I Maltesi sono infeudati anima e [p.191] corpo al clero. True, Calvi had severely criticized More O’Ferrall for not allowing a large number of political émigrés to land in Malta in July 1849,[408] and had condemned Bishop Sant[409] for writing to O’Ferrall that the exiles had corrupted the Maltese customs and spread immorality among the inhabitants.[410] But the purpose of L’Ordine was to sway the jury panel towards a verdict of guilt. This was manifestly unfair, and besides the trial had nothing to do with religion.

The principal witnesses for the Prosecution were Giacomo Navarra Bibona, the two brothers Gio Batta and Gaetano Cianciolo and Salvatore Candioto, all sworn enemies of the accused. The last three had been brought over to Malta from abroad in order to give evidence in this case at Navarra’s expense, obviously subsidized by the Consul for Naples, and they were living with Navarra Bibona. Gaetano Cianciolo confirmed that Calvi was the author of the book which he started writing in Malta. In 1850 he continued the work in Gozo and dictated some parts to Cianciolo’s brother. (One has to keep in mind that cholera broke out in Malta and raged from July to October 1850; this explains why Calvi went to Gozo to continue the work). Gio Batta Cianciolo stated that Calvi had dictated to him parts of the book both in Malta and in Gozo, and that the whole book was ready in December 1852, which is not what Navarra wanted to prove. He added that the second and third volume had been bound by Crispino alias Giacomo Candioto and Salvatore Candioto. The latter testified that Calvi had dictated to him parts of the book. All three said they knew from the buyers or other individuals that Calvi had sold some copies of the book. Some said that Calvi had at home copies of the Manifesto. Antonio Caglià Ferro stated that, in the absence of Candioto, he had written some pages of the first volume dictated by Calvi. Salvatore Savona confirmed that in 1852 he had bound the first volume of the book in Calvi’s house. Filippo Savona, a compositor in the printing press of Franz for the last eight years, confirmed that the book had been printed by Franz and there were at least three occasions when he had taken copies of printed pages to Calvi.

The Court ordered Candioto and one of the brothers Cianciolo to mention the [p.192] persons who had bought copies from Calvi, but they both refused to divulge names as they alleged they would compromise the reputation of the buyers and expose them to serious trouble. They were sent to prison for a month. As the name of Emilio de’ Baroni Sceberras[411] had been mentioned as an agent for a buyer, he was produced as a witness for the prosecution. He stated that he knew about the book, but he had never received from Dr Calvi a copy to be sent to England, whether directly or through third parties.

The account of the trial narrates that, when the Crown Advocate announced he had no more witnesses to produce, Calvi’s lawyer, John Griffiths, started submitting the case for the defence of his client. This provokes the question in one’s mind: why was it that Calvi did not take the witness stand to deny the untruths that had been levelled at him? Were they untruths after all? What did he have to hide?

This is a classical case which shows how dangerous it is to jump to conclusions. Before forming an opinion the historian has to avoid certain pitfalls and ask himself whether the circumstances 150 years ago were exactly the same as we know them today. Nowadays everyone takes it for granted that an accused person has every right to take the witness stand in his own defence. But a lawyer versed in the history of legislation in Malta would know that it was not always so. Indeed when the Criminal Code was promulgated in 1854[412] there was no section which allowed the accused to take the oath in his own defence. In legal terms, he was not a ‘competent’ witness.

It was only in 1909 that amendments were made which allowed the accused to give evidence; these were based on “The Criminal Evidence Act 1898” introduced in England.[413]

In Calvi’s trial, therefore, it was up to his lawyer to take up the cudgels in defence of his client. He explained at length how the trap was laid for Calvi by means of the [p.193] civil case and that at the bottom of the whole story was the Consul for Naples. He also divulged that at one time Navarra Bibona belonged to the guard of honour of the King of Naples.

Calvi was lucky that he had several witnesses to prove his innocence, including Pellegrino, Caltabiano, Zuccarelli and the widow of Milanesi, Giuditta Ricardi. The printer Frederick W. Franz confirmed that the third volume was only completed in December 1852, that only 986 copies were printed, and the copies had been delivered to Pellegrino and not to Calvi. He admitted that both Tagliaferro, Consul for Russia, and another Consul had approached him to try and buy copies of the book. Gabriele Vassalli, the compositor, confirmed a receipt dated 31 December 1852 which showed that he had then been paid for folding the last fourteen pages of volume III of the book.

The Baron di Pancali stated that he lived at Pietà and Pellegrino had taken to his residence on 15 May 1853 the boxes containing the books. He was accompanied by Casolini (who had bought them) and Francesco di Blasi. All the boxes were opened, the books were numbered and replaced in the boxes which he kept on deposit until they were withdrawn by Casolini and Pellegrino some weeks later. Di Blasi confirmed.

Witnesses were produced to show how and why Candioto and the Cianciolos hated Calvi. Candioto’s father had won a case against Giuseppe Navarra Jacona, then Calvi came on the scene to defend Navarra on appeal, and Navarra won the case.

Giuseppe Passiglia-Lombardo gave evidence that Candioto had told him: Calvi ci ha ridotti alla miseria. Ma, se ne avr? l’occasione, giuro di vendicarmi.

Archpriest Domenico Angherà and Ignazio Calona, a lawyer, spoke about how the Cianciolos hated Calvi and what they used to say about him. Di Blasi testified that the Cianciolos had told him that Calvi had published a pamphlet in 1853 in which he had written that Francesco Cianciolo had copied a project submitted to the government for the construction of a public edifice with the result that his project was rejected and they had lost a lot of money. In March 1854 di Blasi had come from B’kara with the three brothers. The latter spotted Calvi coming out of Porta Reale, they accosted him, started insulting him with parole assai ingiuriose, and spat at him. On another occasion in the house of Caltabiano, in the presence of Guglielmo La Farina, they repeated the same story, e minacciavano di volersene vendicare col sangue, offrendosene ad essi l’opportunità.

Calvi had other witnesses to produce, including Calona, Tommaso Masaracchio Jacona, Francesco Angherà, Notary Amabile Fabbri (sic), Dr Xuereb, Legal Procurator [p.194] Giuseppe Mizzi, and Notaries Parodi and Frendo.[414] It was late at night, 10 p.m., and Calvi wanted the case to finish on that day. His lawyer agreed that sufficient evidence had been produced to ensure a favourable verdict and therefore these witnesses were not produced.

Judge Micallef commenced his summing up explaining the points of law and leaving it to the jury to decide whom to believe, the witnesses for the prosecution, or those for the defence.

It did not take long for the panel of jurymen to declare, by a unanimous vote, that the accused was not guilty of the crime advanced against him in the bill of indictment.

The Court immediately ordered that Dr Pasquale Calvi sia liberato. Cries of Evviva il Giur? and Viva la Corte broke out from the numerous assembly gathered in the hall, in the corridors and on the stairs of the Court of Justice in Strada Reale. Many were those, including Maltese, who congratulated and embraced the accused. It took more than half-an-hour for the building to empty and, in the meantime, sympathizers ran down to Calvi’s home to break the good news to his family.

Thus ended the saga of the ‘anonymous’ author of the Memorie published in Malta with a false imprint and date. A triumph for Calvi and the Italian liberals, but also for the administration of justice in Malta which makes us Maltese justly proud.


[375] Ordinance IV of March 15, 1839. However, Filippo Izzo and Luigi Tonna started printing newspapers under licence as from 1838.

[376] Proclama di Charles Cameron alla Nazione Maltese, in Collezione di Bandi, Prammatiche ed altri avvisi ufficiali pubblicati… dal 17 luglio 1784, al 4 ottobre 1813, Malta 1840, 67.
An English translation of the Proclamation was published in [W. Eton], The Appeals of the Nobility and People of Malta, to the Justice, Public Faith, and Policy, of the British Government, for the fulfilment of the conditions upon which they gave up their Island to the King, namely, their Ancient Rights, under a Free Constitution, London 1811 , Appendix 56-57. Also in W. Hardman, A History of Malta, London 1909, 359.

[377] W. Eton, 89-91; Appendix 46-51.

[378] The Commissioners were John Austin and George Cornewall Lewis.

[379] [G. Mitrovich?], Maltese claims, London [1837], 5-8. The manuscript records of this unofficial election are in the possession of the present writer, together with the other records of the C.G.M.

[380] Copies or extracts of Reports of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the affairs of the Island of Malta and of correspondence thereupon. Part I. Ordered by The House of Commons to be printed, 16 February 1838. [Parliamentary Paper] 141, 12 -14.

[381] Chapter II, Section V, of Ordinance IV of 1839.

[382] Bianca Fiorentini, ‘Del Giornalismo a Malta durante il Risorgimento Italiano’, in Echi del Risorgimento a Malta, eds. V. Bonello, B. Fiorentini, L. Schiavone, Malta 1963, 25.

[383] Bianca Fiorentini, Malta rifugio di esuli e focolare ardente di cospirazione durante il Risorgimento Italiano, Malta 1966, 66.

[384] Ibid., 70, 87, 132.

[385] Il Mediterraneo – Gazzetta di Malta, no. 493, Mercoled?, 5 Gennaio 1848, 10.
This weekly newspaper in Italian and English was founded by two émigrés from Forl?, Professor Carlo Cicognani Cappelli and Professor Tommaso Zauli Sajani (1802-1872). Throughout its life of almost three decades it inveighed against despots and despotism, while it supported wholeheartedly the liberal exiles and the unification of Italy. It was not anti-clerical on principle, but it was a constant and fierce adversary of the Jesuits. Published by Filippo Izzo at 93 Strada Vescovo, Valletta. Izzo had originally been granted a licence to keep and use a printing press on 8 January 1838, at 69 Strada Santa Lucia, Valletta. It had its own representatives for the purposes of subscriptions in Alexandria, Constantinople, Athens, Switzerland, London and Florence. In Malta it was on sale every Wednesday precisely at 2 p.m. Price 5d. (same as Il Portafoglio Maltese).

[386] Fiorentini, Malta rifugio di esuli…, 136.

[387] The Appendix dated 1856 in Calvi’s book on the Sicilian Revolution of 1848 was followed by an address to Orsini dated 1 July 1857, consisting of 112 pages, signed Un Italiano di Sicilia. It was composed in reply to a letter written by Orsini on 5 February 1857 protesting against the criticism of his actions in the Memorie.

[388] His address was at 30 Sda. Sta. Lucia, Valletta (Almanacco di Malta per l’anno bisestile 1852, 48. Grande Almanacco di Malta pel 1854 contenente molte informazioni utili ed interessanti, 50).

[389] In February 1852 the two Miloro brothers and Giuseppe Oddo were fined for having assaulted and slightly injured the Vice-Consul of Naples, Achille Ricciardi.

[390] Fiorentini, Malta rifugio di esuli… 160-1.

[391] Appendice alle memorie storiche e critiche delle (sic) Rivoluzione Siciliana del 1848, Tom IV, Londra 1856, 162 fn. 1. See also Fiorentini, Echi, 12 6-7, in which, however, some dates do not tally with those in the Appendice.

[392] Il Portafoglio Maltese, no. 577, 24 Maggio 1849, 4998.
When Calvi arrived, Giovanni Interdonato, Antonino Miloro and Luigi Pellegrino were already in Malta. They had arrived respectively on 11 May, 10 May and 30 April. Giacomo Navarra Bibona, of whom more anon, arrived with his family on April 29.

[393] Calvi lived in Valletta, Strada S. Nicola, corner with Strada Mercanti; Navarra and Caltabiano in a locanda at Valletta; Pellegrino moved from a locanda to a residence in Strada S. Ursola; Milanesi resided at Birkirkara, Zuccarelli at Cospicua.

[394] Luigi Milanesi was of Sicilian origin, but he was born in Malta. Lived at 36 Sda. Toro, Valletta.

[395] Tagliaferro’s address was at 74 Sda. Forni, Valletta.

[396] According to the Appendix of the book, published in 1856, Vincenzo Bugeja was rumoured to have supplied Naples, after 1848, with migliaja di onze, in pecunia, and all the artillery needed to arm the pirofregata l’Indipendenza, in Malta, a lui affidata in deposito. In Malta he was a good friend of the Consul for Naples. He lived in Valletta at Saint Barbara Bastion. There still are two marble slabs at nos. 5-10 where he resided. They read: CONSERVATORIO / VINCENZO BUGEIA (sic).

[397]

[398] Salvatore Souchet was born in May 1820. LL.D. 20 July 1844. Warrant 9 August 1844. He lived at 171 Sda. Forni. Died 23 December 1893.

[399] Dr John Griffiths was born in Lewisham, Kent. He received his warrant to practise law in Malta on 6 June, 1831. His address between 1843 and 1856 was at 65 Strada Teatro. Died about 1857.

[400] Gabriel Vassalli, son of Mikiel Anton Vassalli (father of the Maltese language) was born in Marseilles in 1814. He learnt Arabic and Hebrew among other subjects at a Protestant boarding school in Malta and about September 1829 he was assisting in the translation into Maltese of Pinnoch’s Catechism of Geography. In 1832 he was translating some books of the Church Missionary Society, while his brothers Michele Antonio and Saverio were engaged in the work of the Society’s printing office. In 1839 M. Weiss, the Society’s printer, opened a Printing Depot at 98 Sda. Forni, Valletta. In 1846 a book was published with the imprint Brothers Vassalli Printers, No. 97 Strada Forni. In 1847 the New Testament in Maltese bore the imprint Malta, Gabriel Vassalli, Stampatur, while a book on the life of Jesus Christ in Maltese had the same imprint with the address 97 Sda. Forni. The printing at this address was then taken over by F. W. Franz, who in 1858 described himself as Master and Printer; he was succeeded before 1863 by Eduardo L. Franz. Calvi’s book was printed by F. W. Franz at 97 Sda. Forni.

[401] Salvatore Naudi was born in 1820. LL.D. 1842; Warrant 15 July 1842. One of H. M’s Judges 1 July 1859. Retired 30 September 1895. He lived at 41 Sda. Genio. Died 15 July 1900.

[402] Antonio Micallef was born at Vittoriosa on April 2, 1810. LL.D. 1829. Warrant 6 June 1831. Crown Advocate 27 October 1842. One of H. M.’s Judges 1 January 1854. President of the Court of Appeal 1 July 1859. Retired 1 November 1880. Elected to the Council of Government January 1881. Died 5 April 1889 at his residence in Rabato (Notabile), Strada Vecchia Doni, 7, where he spent the last years of his life. (See Albert Ganado, “Sir Antonio Micallef” in The Law Journal, I (4), April 1946, 15-35).

[403] The so-called manifesto, used as a title page, reads as follows: MEMORIE STORICHE E CRITICHE DELLA RIVOLUZIONE SICILIANA DEL 1848. Quest’opera, il cui intendimento é manifesto dall’annessa prefazione, si divide in tre tomi, di sopra a 300 pagine ciascuno – ed è corredata delle carte di Palermo, Messina e Catania. Il sesto, la carta, i caratteri, come il presente: Il prezzo di scellini sterlini 5 per tomo: La pubblicazione dell’intera opera da qui a due mesi, essendo già sotto i torchi il tomo terzo. Londra, giugno 1852.

[404] Page XVI of the preface in the four-volume book ends with an engraved vignette which, curiously, had appeared on the title page of a pamphlet printed by Stocker Brothers, 20th October 1840, entitled Prosecution for libel under the existing law; in a letter addressed to His Excellency Sir H. F. Bouverie by the editor of the ‘Malta Times’. Was there at some time a transfer of assets by Stocker Bros. to F. W. Franz or his predecessors of the printing press at 97 Sda. Forni?

[405] The lithographed maps could have been made either by Luigi (1814-1857) or by Giuseppe Brocktorff (1818-1893), both sons of Charles Frederick (1782?-1850), as their brother Federico had left for Constantinople on 3 October 1844. But the style and calligraphy are very similar to those on plans of Valletta by Giuseppe.

[406] The plans of Palermo and Messina are based on those published in The Hydrography of Sicily, Malta, and the adjacent Islands; surveyed in 1814, 1815, and 1816, … by Capt. William Henry Smyth, London 1823. The plan of Palermo is dated 30th October 1821 , that of Messina (like the maps of Malta) 19th July 1823. They were all engraved by J. Walker. The plan of Catania was based on a plan by Sebastiano Ittar, architect, painter, cartographer and engraver. He was a son of Stefano Ittar, the architect of the National Library in Valletta. The family came to Malta from Catania. (see Albert Ganado, “The funeral of Angelo Emo in Malta in 1792 – A pictorial record”, in Proceedings of History Week 1993, ed. Keith Sciberras, Malta 1997, 151-180).

[407] Salvatore Cecy was born in February 1791. LL.D. 1810. Warrant 22 February 1811. Magistrate of Judicial Police 1 January 1829. Lived at 22 Sda. Stretta. Died 28 April 1863.

[408] Calvi called O’Ferrall arrabbiato papista and principale agente della polizia borbonica nell’Isola (Calvi, Memorie, II, 369). The Catholic O’Ferrall was acting in accordance with instructions received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies (A. V. Laferla, British Malta, Malta 1938, 201-3).

[409] Publius Maria de’ Conti Sant was born in Valletta. He became Bishop on 17 November 1847 at the age of 70 years and retired on 3 December 1857. He died on 28 October 1864.

[410] Calvi, Memorie, II, 369: Quattro giorni appresso l’Arcivescovo… non arrossiva di scrivere allo stesso O’Ferral (sic) – Che la corruzione dei costumi, e l’immoralità degli abitanti dell’isola derivata dal contatto cogli emigrati italiani, non potea abbastanza deplorarsi.

[411] Emilio Sceberras, son of Camillo, was born on 13 July 1818. In his early twenties he joined Mazzini’s Giovine Italia. He was in constant correspondence with Mazzini, was the agent in Malta of the Giovine Italia, and did much to spread Mazzini’s ideals in Malta. Following the unification of Italy, he settled in Naples, where he died on 1 November 1891.

[412] The Criminal Laws of Malta were promulgated by H. M.’s Order in Council on 30 January 1854, and they came into force on 10 March 1854 (Proclamation No. I). (For the history of the Criminal Laws of Malta, see Albert Ganado, “Homage in Venice to the Malta Criminal Code of 1854,” The Sunday Times, 7 December 2003, 56-57 and 14 December 2003, 54-55.

[413] Ordinance VIII of 1909, sec. 60 and Ordinance IX of 1911 , sec. 20. (See Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, “A proposito della testimonianza dell’imputato”, in Scientia, IV, 383-390.

[414] Notary Giuseppe Antonio Parodi, active 1826-1883, Notary Vincenzo Paolo Frendo, active 1834-1878. Notary Amabile Amato Fabri (not Fabbri) was active 1823-1881.