After the happy annexation– I meant to say– after the propitious union of Sicily and the Kindgom of Sardinia– it is the intention of the government in Turin to proceed to nominate some illustrous Sicilians as Senators of the Kingdom.
Of course, your name was made among the first. A name famous for its antiquity, for the personal prestige of the person who bears it, for the great scientific merits, and for the dignified and liberal attitude assumed in recent events.
Before presenting the list in Turin, my superiors considered it dutiful to inform you, and to ask if the proposal would be appreciated.
The government hopes for your consent.
That is the object of my mission.
A mission which has earned me the honor and pleasure of knowing you and your family, and this magnificent palace.
Prince of Salina:
Explain to me, Chevalley, being Senator, what does it mean? What is it really? Is it an honorary title, or–
Prince, the Senate is the high chamber of our Kingdom, in it are examined, discussed, approved, rejected, those laws which the government proposes for the progress of the country.
When you are Senator, you will be able to make heard the voice of your beautiful land, which now faces the panorama of the modern world. With many sores to heal, many just wishes to fulfill…
Listen, Chevalley. I am very grateful that the government thought of me for the Senate. If it were simply a title of honor to place on a calling card, I would be ready to accept with pleasure.
But like this, no. I can’t accept.
I am an exponent of the old class, fatally compromised with the old regime, and tied to it by constraints of decency, if not affection.
Mine is an unhappy generation. Straddling two worlds, and disadvantaged in both.
And moreover, I am completely without illusions.
What would the Senate do with me, an inexpert legislator, lacking in the capacity to fool himself– essential requisite for him who would want to lead others.
No, Chevalley. In politics I would not place a finger, they would bite it off.
Prince, I cannot believe you. You will seriously not do the possible to alleviate the state of material poverty, and blind moral misery, in which your own people lie?
We are old, Chevalley. Very old. It is at least 25 centuries that we carry on our backs the weight of magnificent and heterogeneous civilizations, all of them from the outside, none made by us, none which have germinated here.
For 2500 years we have been nothing else but a colony. I do not say it to complain, it is our fault. But we are very tired. Emptied. Spent.
But Prince, all of this is finished now. Sicily is no longer a land for conquest but a free part of a free state.
The intention is good. But it arrives late.
Sleep, dear Chevalley. A long slumber, that is what Sicilians want.
And they will always hate those who would want to wake them, even if it is to bring to them the most wonderful gifts.
And between the two of us, I sincerely doubt that the new Kingdom has many gifts for us in its baggage.
In our land, every expression, even the most violent, is an aspiration for oblivion.
Our sensuality is desire for oblivion. Our gunshots and stabbings– desire for death.
Our laziness, the penetrating sweetness of our sherbets– desire for voluptuous immobility– in other words, again for death.
Prince– Prince, doesn’t it seem to you that you are exaggerating? I myself have met in Turin some Sicilians that seemed everything but sleepyheads.
I did not explain myself well, I am sorry Chevalley. I said “Sicilians”, but should have said “Sicily”.
This environment, the violence of the landscape, the cruelty of the climate, the continuous tension in every thing–
But the climate can be won, the landscape– the landscape can be modified, the memory of bad governments can be erased. I am certain that Sicilians will want to improve.
I don’t deny that some Sicilians, transported outside of the island, are able to wake themselves. But they need to leave very young, at twenty it is already late. The crust has formed.
What you need, Chevalley, is rather a man that can reconcile his own particular interests with vague public ideals.
May I permit myself to transmit some advice to your superiors?
With pleasure, Prince.
There is a name that I would like to suggest to the Senate.
No thanks, I don’t smoke.
That of– Calogero Sedara. He has far more merits than I for being elected.
His stock, I am told, in ancient… or will be soon.
And he, more than what you call prestige, has power. If he does not have scientific merits, he has practical ones.
Almost exceptional. His activity was very useful during the crisis in May. In terms of illussions… I don’t believe he has more than I.
But if necessary, he is clever enough to invent them for himself. He’s the man you need.
Yes, yes. I have heard talk of Sedara. But if honest men like you retreat, the road will be free for men without scruples, without perspective– indeed, the Sedara. And everything will be the same as before, for more centuries.
Listen to your conscience, Prince, and not the proud truths you have mentioned. Prince. I beg you, try– to collaborate.
You are a gentleman, Chevalley. And I consider it a privilege to have met you. You are right in everything.
Except when you say… that certainly the Sicilians will want to improve. They will never want to improve… because they consider themselves perfect.
Their vanity is stronger than their misery.
But sit down a moment, I want to tell you something…