EDUCATION AND KNOWLEDGE IN THE PAPAL STATES.
Education of a Roman Boy—Seldom taught his Letters—Majority of Romans unable to Read—Popular Literature of Italy—- Newspaper of the Roman States—Censorship of the Press—Studies in the Collegio Romano—Rome unknown at Rome—Schools spring up under the Republic—Extinguished on the Return of the Pope—Conversation with three Roman Boys—Their Ideas respecting the Creator of the World, Christ, the Virgin—Questions asked at them in the Confessional—Religion in the Roman States—Has no Existence—Ceremony mistaken for Devotion—Irreverence—The Six Commands of the Church—Contrast betwixt the Cost and the Fruits of the Papal Religion—Popular Hatred of the Papacy.
The influence of Romanism on trade, and industry, and justice, has been less frequently a theme of discussion than its influence on knowledge. While, therefore, I have dwelt at considerable length on the former, I shall be very brief under the present head. I shall here adduce only a few facts which I had occasion to see or hear during my stay in the Papal States. The few schoolmasters which are found in Italy are not a distinct class, as with us; they are priests, and mostly Jesuits. There are three classes of catechisms used in the schools; the pupil beginning with the lowest, and of course finishing off with the highest. But of what subjects do these catechisms treat? A little history, one would say, that the pupil may have some notion of what has been before him; and a little geography, that he may know there are such things as land and sea, and cities beyond, which he cannot see, shut up in Rome. With us, the lowest amount of education that ever receives the name comprises at least the three R's, as they are termed,—Reading, Writing, and 'Rithmetic. But these are far too mundane matters for a Jesuit to occupy his time in expounding. The education of the Italian youth is a thoroughly religious one, taking the term in its Roman sense. The little catechisms I have spoken of are filled with the weightier matters of their law,—the miracles wrought by the staff of this saint, the cloak of that other, and the relics of a third; the exalted rank of the Virgin, and the homage thereto appertaining; Transubstantiation, with all the uncouth and barbarous jargon of "substances" and "accidents" in which that mystery is wrapped up. An initiation into these matters forms the education of the Roman boy; and after he has been locked up in school for a certain length of time, he is turned adrift, to begin the usual aimless life of the Italian. It does not follow, because he has been at school, that he can read. He is seldom taught his letters; better not, lest in after life he should come in contact with books. And, despite the vigilance of the censorship and the Index, bad books, such as the Bible, are finding their way into the Roman States; and it is better, therefore, not to entrust the people with the key of knowledge; for nothing is so useless as knowledge under an infallible Church. The matters which the Italian youth are taught they are taught by rote. "Ignorance is the mother of devotion,"—a maxim sometimes quoted with a sneer, but one which embodies a profound truth as regards that kind of devotion which is prevalent at Rome.
I have seen estimates by Gavazzi and other Italians, of the proportion who can read in the Roman States. It is somewhere about one in a hundred. The reader will take the statement at what it is worth. I had no means of testing its accuracy; but all my inquiries on the subject led me to believe that the overwhelming majority cannot read. And where is the use of learning one's letters in a land where there are no books; and there are none that deserve the name in Rome. The book-stalls in Italy are heaped with the veriest rubbish: the "Book of Dreams," "Rules for Winning at the Lottery," "The Five Dolours of the Virgin," "Tracts on the Miracles of the Saints," "Relations," professedly given by Christ about his sufferings, and said to have been found in his sepulchre, and in other places equally likely. At Rome, on the streets at least, where all other kinds of rubbish are tolerated, even this rubbish is not suffered to exist; for there, book-stalls I saw none. There are, however, one or two miserable book-shops where these things may be had.
There was but one newspaper (so called, I presume, because it contained no news) published in Rome at the time of my visit,—the Giornale di Roma, which, I presume, still occupies the field alone. It contains a daily list of the arrivals and departures (foreigners, of course, for the gates of Rome never open to the Romans), the proclamations of the Government, the days of the lottery, and such matters. Under the foreign head were chronicled the consecration of Catholic temples, the visits of royal personages, a profound silence being observed on all political facts and speculations. And this is all the Romans can know, through legitimate channels, of what is going on beyond the walls of Rome. A daily paper was started during the Republic, and admirably managed; but, of course, it was suppressed on the return of the Papal Government. A few copies of the Times reach Rome every morning. They are not given out till towards mid-day, for they must first be read; and if the "editorials" are not to the taste of the Sacred College, they are not given out at all. The paper, during my short stay, was stopped for nearly a week on end; and the disappointment was the greater, that rumours were then current in Rome that something was on the tapis in Paris, and that the change in the constitution of France, whatever it might be, would not be postponed till the May of 1852, as was then believed in the north of Europe, but would be attempted in the beginning of December 1851. The tidings of the coup d'etat, which met me on the morning of the 3d December in the south of France, brought the full realization of these rumours. In the Giornale di Roma not a strayed dog can be advertised without permission of the censor. In Brescia there is a censorship for gravestones; and in Rome a strict watch is kept over the English burying-ground, lest any one should write a verse of Scripture above a heretic's grave. The expression of thought is more dreaded than brigandage.
Those who aspire to the learned professions go to the Collegio Romano. But let the reader mark how the Roman Church here, as everywhere else, contrives to keep up the show of educating, and takes care all the while to impart the smallest possible amount of knowledge,—constructs a machinery which, through some mischievous perversion, is without results. The Collegio Romano has a numerous staff of professors, who prelect on theology, logic, history, mathematics, natural philosophy, and other branches. This looks well; but observe its working. All the lectures are delivered in Latin, which differs considerably from the modern Italian; and as the Roman youth spend only one year in the study of the Latin tongue before entering the Collegio Romano, the lectures might nearly as well, so far as the run of the students is concerned, be in Arabic. Nine-tenths of the young men leave the Collegio Romano as learned as they entered it. The higher priesthood are educated at the Sapienza, where, I believe, a thorough training in theological dialectics is given.
It is impossible not to see that the Italians are a people of quick perceptions, lively sensibilities, and warm and kindly dispositions; but it is just as impossible not to see that they are deplorably untaught. The stranger is mortified to find that he knows far more of their ruins and of their past history than they themselves do. The peasant wanders over the huge mounds that diversify the Seven Hills, or traverses the Appian, or passes under the arch of Titus, without knowing or caring who erected these structures, or having even a glimmering of the heroic story in which they were, so to speak, the actors. When he looks back into the past, all is night. Nowhere is Rome so little known as in Rome itself. How different was it when the Pope received Italy! Then Italy occupied the van of civilization. And when the Byzantine empire fell, and the scholars of the East fled westward, carrying with them the rich treasures of the Greek language and literature, learning had a second morning in Italy. Famous colleges arose, to which the youth of Europe repaired. Philosophers and poets of imperishable name shed a lustre upon the country; but the Roman Church soon discovered that Italy was acquiring knowledge at the expense of its Romanism, and she applied the band to the national mind. And now that same Italy that once held aloft the lamp of knowledge to the world is herself in darkness, and, sad sight! is seen, with quenched orbs, groping about in the midnight.
And yet proofs are not wanting to show that, were the interdict of the Church taken off, Italy would at once throw herself into the race, and might soon rival the most successful of her contemporaries. Most of my readers, I doubt not, are familiar with the name of M. Leone Levi, now engaged on the great work of the codification of the commercial laws of the three kingdoms, and their assimilation to the continental codes. The fact I am now to state, and which speaks volumes as regards the efforts of "the Church" to educate Italy, I had from this gentleman; and to those who know him, any testimony of mine to his intelligence and uprightness is superfluous. M. Leone Levi, an Italian Jew, was born at Ancona, but eventually settled in England. During the Roman Republic, he paid a visit to Italy. But such a change! He scarce knew his native Italy,—it was so unlike the Italy he had left. In every town, and village, and rural district, schools had sprung up since the fall of the Pontifical Government. There were day-schools and night-schools, week-day-schools and Sabbath-schools. The young men and young women had forgotten their "light loves," and were busied in educating themselves, and in educating the little boys and girls below them. The country appeared to have resolved itself into a great educational institute. He was inexpressibly delighted. Such a change he had never dared to hope for in his native land. But ah! back came the Pope; and in a week,—in one short week,—every one of these schools was closed. The Roman youth are again handed over to the Jesuit. Italy is again sunk in its old torpor and stagnation; and one black cloud of barbaric ignorance extends from the Mediterranean to the Adriatic.
I sat down one day on the steps of the temple of Vesta, which, though gray and crumbling with age, is one of the most beautiful of the ruins of Rome. Three boys came about me to beg a few baiocchi. The youngest boy, I found, was ten years, and the oldest fifteen. I took the opportunity of putting a few questions to them, judging them a fair sample of the Roman youth. My queries were pitched low enough. "Can you tell me," I asked, "who made the world?" The question started a subject on which they seemed never to have thought before. They stood in a muse for some seconds; and then all three looked round them, as if they expected to see the world's Maker, or to read His name somewhere. At last the youngest and smartest of the three spoke briskly up,—"The masons, Signor." It was now my turn to feel the excitement of a new idea. Yet I thought I could see the train of thought that led to the answer. The masons had made the baths of Caracalla; the masons had made the Coliseum, and those other stupendous structures which in bulk rival the hills, and seem as eternal as the earth on which they rest; and why might not the masons have made the whole affair? I might have puzzled the boy by asking, "But who made the masons?" My object, however, was simply to ascertain the amount of his knowledge. I demurred to the proposition that the masons had made the world, and desired them to try again. They did try again, and at last the eldest of the three found his way to the right answer,—"God." "Have you ever heard of Christ?" I asked. "Yes." "Who is he? Can you tell me anything about him?" I could elicit nothing under these heads. "Whose Son is he?" I then asked. "He is Mary's Son," was the reply. "Where is Christ?" I inquired. "He is on the Cross," replied the boy, folding his arms, and making the representation of a crucifix. "Was Christ ever on earth?" I asked. He did not know. "Are you aware of anything he ever did?" He had never heard of anything that Christ had done. I saw that he was thinking of those hideous representations which are to be seen in all the churches of Rome, of a man hanging on a cross. That was the Christ of the boys. Of Christ the Son of the living God,—of Christ the Saviour of sinners,—and of his death as an atonement for human guilt,—they had never heard. In a city swarming with professed ministers of the gospel, these boys knew no more of Christianity than if they had been Hottentots. I next inquired respecting Mary, and here the boys seemed more at home. "Who is she?" "She is God's mother." "Where is she?" "She is in that church," pointing to the church on one side of the piazza,—the Bocca di Verita, if I mistake not,—before which criminals are sometimes executed; "and in that," pointing to the church on the other side of the piazza. "She is here, there, everywhere." "Was Mary ever on earth?" "Yes," was the answer. "What did she do when here?" "Oh," replied the little boy, "that is an antique affair: I was not here then." "Do you go to church?" I asked the eldest boy. "Yes." "Do you take the sacrament?" "I have taken it four times." I learned afterwards that the priests are attempting to seize upon the rising generation in Italy, by compelling all the children from twelve years and upwards to go to mass. "Do you go to confession?" I next asked. "Yes, I confess." "Do other boys and girls, your acquaintances, go to confession?" "Yes, all go," he replied. "We meet the priest in church on Sabbath, and he tells us when to come and confess." "Well, when you go to confess, what does the priest ask you?" "He asks me if I steal, and do other bad actions." "When you confess that you have done a bad action, what then?" "The first time I do it, the priest pardons me." "If you confess it a second time, what happens?" "The second time he beats me with a rod." "Does the priest ask you about anything else?" I inquired. "Yes," he rejoined; "he asks me about my father and my mother." "What does he ask you about them?" "He asks me if they do dirty actions," said the boy. Now, here the enormity and vileness of the confessional peeped out. Here one can see how the confessor can look into every hearth, and into every heart, in Rome. The priests had dragged this young boy into their den, and taught him to play the spy on his father and mother. The hand that fed him, the bosom that cherished him, he must learn to betray. I appeal to the fathers and mothers of Britain, whether, than see their children degraded to such infamous purposes, they would not an hundred times rather see them laid in the silent grave. Yet some are labouring to introduce the confessional among us. Should they succeed, it will be the garrotte on the throat of English liberty.
As regards RELIGION in Italy, this is an inquiry that lies rather beyond the limits I have marked out for myself. I may be permitted, however, a few remarks. It appeared to me that the very idea of religion had perished among the Italians. Not only had they lost the thing itself, but they had lost the power of conceiving of it. Religion unquestionably is a state of mind towards God; and devotion is a mental act resulting from that state of mind. We cannot conceive of an automaton performing an act of devotion, or of being religious; and yet, if religion be what it is taken to be at Rome, there is nothing to hinder an automaton being religious, nay, far more religious than flesh and blood, inasmuch as timber and iron will not so soon wear out under incessant crossings and genuflections. Religion at Rome is to kiss a crucifix; religion at Rome is to climb Pilate's stairs; religion at Rome is to repeat by rote a certain number of prayers before some beautiful painting or statue; or to remain a certain number of hours on one's bare knees on the paved floor; or to wear a hair-shirt. Of religion as a mental act,—as an act of faith, and love, and reverence,—the Italian is not able to form even the idea. Hence the want of decorum that shocks a stranger on visiting the Italian churches. He finds bishops at the altar unable to restrain their sallies of wit and their bursts of laughter. And after this, what can he look for among the ordinary worshippers? The young man can go through his devotions perfectly well, and make love all the while to the young woman at his side. Young ladies can count their beads to the Virgin, and continue their gossip on matters of dress or scandal. It never occurs to them that this in the least deteriorates their worship. The beads have been counted, and an Ave Maria said with each; and what more does the Church require? Religion as a feeling of the mind, and devotion as an act of the soul, are unknown to them. I recollect meeting in the rural lanes leading from St John Lateran to the church of Maria Maggiore, a small party of Roman girls, who were strangely mixing mirth and worship,—chatting, laughing, and singing hymns to the Virgin,—just as Scotch maidens on a harvest field might diversify their labours with "Home, Sweet Home," or any other air. This irreverent familiarity shows itself in other ways, after the manner of the ancient pagans, who took strange liberties with their gods. When the drawing of the lottery is about to take place, the Romans most devoutly supplicate the Virgin for success; but should their number come out a blank, they may be heard reviling her in the open street, and applying to her every conceivable epithet of abuse.
So far as the moral code of Romanism is concerned, sinless perfection is no difficult attainment. The commands of the Church are six; and these six have quite thrown into the shade the ten of the decalogue. They are the payment of tithes,—the not marrying in the prohibited seasons,—the hearing of mass on Sundays and festivals,—the keeping of the prescribed fasts,—confession once a-year at least,—and the taking of the communion in Easter week. The last two are strictly enforced. On the approach of Easter, the priest goes round and gives a ticket to every parishioner; and if these are not returned through the confessional, a policeman waits on the person, and tells him that he has been remiss in his religious duties, and must submit himself to the Church's discipline, which he, the Church's officer, has come to administer to him in the Church's penitentiary or dungeons. Innumerable are the methods taken by the Romans to evade confession, among which the more common is to hire some one to confess for them. Others, though they go, confess nothing of moment. "You all here believe in the Pope and purgatory," I remarked to a commissario one day. "A few old women do," he replied. "Do you not believe in them?" I asked. "I believe in one God; but I do not believe in one priest," said he. "I hope you will say so next time you go to confession," I observed. "I don't confess," he replied. "How can you avoid confessing?" I enquired. "I pay an old woman," he answered, "who can confess for me every day if she pleases." There is not a greater contrast in the world than that which exists betwixt the cost of the papal religion and its fruits,—betwixt the numbers and wealth of the clergy, and the knowledge and morality of the people. Under these heads we append below some very instructive notices.
In fine, one word will suffice to describe the religion of Rome; and that word is ATHEISM. There may be exceptions, but as a general rule the Romans believe in nothing. And how can it be otherwise? Of the gospel they know absolutely nothing beyond what the priest tells them; even that he, the priest, can change a wafer into God, and, by giving it to people to eat, can save them from hell. This the Romans cannot believe; and therefore their creed is a negation. In the room of indifference, which could not be said to believe or disbelieve, because it never thought on the subject, has now come intense hatred of the Papacy, from the destruction of the nation's hopes under Pio Nono. He who seven years ago heard the streets of Rome echoing to the cry that she alone was La Regina delle Genti,—"sat a queen, and should see no sorrow,"—can best form an estimate of the terrible re-action that has followed the tumult of that hour, and can best understand how it has happened, that now the hatred wherewith the Italians hate the Papacy is greater than the love wherewith they loved it. Tradition, by its fooleries,—the mass, by its monstrosity,—the priest, by his immoralities,—and, above all, the Pope, by his perfidy and tyranny,—have made the papal religion to stink in the nostrils of the great mass of the Roman people. You might as well look for religion in pandemonium itself, as in a country groaning under such a complication of vices and miseries. Nay, there is more faith in pandemonium than in Rome; for we are told that the devils believe and tremble; but in Rome, generally speaking, there is faith in nothing. And for this fearful state of matters the Papacy, beyond all question, is responsible.
MENTAL STATE OF THE PRIESTHOOD IN ITALY.
First Impressions in Rome erroneous—The unseen Rome—Her devotement to one thing—In what light do the Priests in Italy regard their own System?—Can they possibly believe their Cheats to be Miracles?—A goodly number of the Priests Infidels—Others never thought on the subject—Some have strong Misgivings—Others convinced of the Falsehood of that Church, but lack Courage or Opportunity to leave it—Making Allowance for all these Classes, the Majority of Priests do believe in their System—The Explanation of this—The real Ruler in the Church of Rome, not the Pope, nor the Cardinals, nor the Jesuits, but the System—Human Machinery—The Pontiff—The College of Cardinals—Antonelli—The Bishops and Priests—The Jesuits—Their Activity and Importance at Rome—Their Appearance described.
When an Englishman visits the Eternal City, he is very apt, during the first days of his sojourn, to underrate the power and influence of the Papal system. At home he has been used to see power associated with splendour, and surrounded with the fruits and monuments of intelligence. At Rome everything on which he sets his eye bears marks of a growing barbarism and decay. Outside the walls of the city is a vast desert, attesting the utter extinction of industry. Within is an air of stagnation and idleness, which bespeaks the utter absence of all mental activity. A very considerable portion of the population have no occupation but begging. The naked heads, necks, and feet of the monks and friars are offensive from want of cleanliness. The higher ecclesiastics even are coarse and vulgar men. The fine monuments reared by the taste and wealth of former ages want keeping. Their churches, despite the paintings and statuary with which they are filled, are rendered disagreeable by the beggars that haunt them, and the incense that is continually burned in them. Their very processions do not rise above a tawdry half-barbaric grandeur; and one must be far gone in the Puseyite malady before such exhibitions can inspire him with anything like reverence. The visitor looks around on this strange scene, so unlike what his imagination had pictured, and exclaims, "Where and in what lies the secret of this city's power?" Here there is neither art, nor industry, nor wealth, nor knowledge! Here all the bodily and all the mental faculties of man appear to be folded up in a worse than mediaeval stupor. Where are the elements of that power for which this city is renowned, and by which she is able to thwart and control the civilized and powerful Governments of the north of Europe? Would, says he to himself, that those who venerate Rome when divided from her by the Alps and the ocean, would come here and see with their own eyes her contemptible vileness and inconceivable degradation; and that those statesmen who are moved by a secret fear to bow the knee to her, would come hither and mark the baseness of her before whom they are content to lower the honour and independence of their country! Such, we say, are the first impressions of the visitor to Rome.
But a few days suffice to correct this erroneous estimate. The person looks around him; he looks below him. There he discovers the real Rome. It is not the Rome that is seen,—it is the Rome that is unseen,—before which the nations tremble. Beneath his feet are tremendous agencies at work. There are the pent-up fires that shake the globe. Rome, cut off from all the world, and surrounded by leagues of silent and blackened deserts, is the centre of energies that rest not day nor night, and the action of which is felt at the very extremities of the earth. It seems, indeed, as if Rome had been set free from all the anxieties and labours which occupy the minds and hands of the rest of the world, of very purpose that she might attend to only one thing. The labours of the husbandman and the artificer she has forborne. Like the lilies of the field, she toils not, neither does she spin. She sits in the midst of her deserts, like the sorceress on the heath, or the conspirator in his den, hatching plots against the world. Rome is the pandemonium of the earth, and the Pope is the Lucifer of the world's drama. Fallen he is from the heaven of power and grandeur which he occupied in the twelfth century; and he and his compeers lie sunk in a very gulph of anarchy and barbarism. Lifting up his eyes, he beholds afar off the happy nations of Protestantism, reaping the reward of a free Bible and a free Government, in the riches of their commerce and the stability of their power. The sight is tormenting and intolerable, and the pontiff is stung thereby into ceaseless attempts to retrieve his fall. If he cannot mount to his old seat, and sit there once more in superhuman pride and unapproachable power above the bodies and the souls of men, he may at least hope to draw down those he so much envies into the same gulph with himself. Hence the villanies and plots of all kinds of which Rome is full, and which form a source of danger to the nations of Christendom, from which they may hope to be delivered only when the Papacy shall have been finally destroyed.
What I propose here is to sketch the mental state of the priests of Italy, so far as my opportunities enabled me to judge. The subject is more recondite than the foregoing; the facts are less accessible; and my statements must partake more of the inferential than did those embraced in the former branches of the subject.
The first question that arises is, in what light do the priests in Italy regard their own system? Do they look upon it as an unrivalled compound of imposture and tyranny,—a cunning invention for procuring mitres, tiaras, purple robes, and other good things for themselves? or do they regard it as indeed founded in truth, and clothed with the sanction of heaven? They are behind the scenes, and have access to see and hear many things which are not meant for the eye and ear of the public. The man who pulls the strings of a winking Madonna can scarce persuade himself, one should think, that the movement that follows is the effect of supernatural power. The priest who liquefies the blood of St Januarius by the warmth of his hand or the warmth of the fire, must know that what he has performed is neither more nor less than a very ordinary juggle. The monk who falls a rummaging in the Catacombs, or in any of the old graveyards about Rome, and finds there a parcel of decayed bones, which he passes off as those of Saint Theodosia or Saint Anathanasius, but which are as likely to be the bones of an old pagan, or a Goth, or a brigand, can hardly believe, one should suppose, his own tale. If the Pope believes in his own relics, what conceptions must he have of Peter? What a strange configuration of body must he believe the apostle to have had! Peter must have been a man with some dozen of heads; with a score of arms, and a hundred fingers or so on each arm; in short, a perfect realization of the old pagan fable of the giant Briareus. The Pope must believe this, or he must believe that he gives his attestation to what is not true. Above all, one can hardly imagine it possible that any man in whom reason had not been utterly quenched could believe in the monstrous dogma of transubstantiation. What! can a priest at any hour he pleases give existence to Him who exists from eternity? Can he enclose within a little silver box that Almighty One whom the heaven, even the heaven of heavens, cannot contain? Let a man confess at the bar of the High Court of Edinburgh that he believes himself to be God, and the Court will pronounce that that man is insane, and will hold him incompetent to manage his affairs. And yet every Roman Catholic priest professes to believe a more startling dogma,—even that he is the creator of God. And yet, instead of calling that insanity, we must, I suppose, call it religion. Seeing, then, the priests are called every day to do things which their senses must tell them are juggles, and to profess their belief in dogmas which their reason must tell them are monstrous and blasphemous absurdities, is it possible, you ask, that the priests in Italy can believe in their own system? I must here say, that I do think the majority of them do believe in it.
A goodly number of the priests of Italy are infidels. They no more believe in the Pope than they believe in the pagan Jupiter. But then, were they to speak out their disbelief, and to say that purgatory is a mere bugbear for frightening men and getting their money, they know that a dungeon would instantly be their lot; and infidelity has little of the martyr spirit in it. These men, like Leo the Tenth, as thorough an infidel as ever lived, hold that it would be the height of folly to quarrel with a fable that brings them so much gain. Others are mere worldly men. They were never at the pains to inquire whether their system is true or false. They sing their mass in the morning; they pass their forenoons at the cafe, sipping coffee, and taking a hand at cards; a stoup of wine washes down a substantial dinner; and, after a saunter along the Corso, or an airing on the Pincian, they doff their clerical vestments, and go to sup with the nuns, who have the reputation of being excellent cooks.
Others there are whose minds are occasionally visited by strong misgivings. The cloud, so to speak, will open for a moment, and reveal to their astonished sight, not the majestic form of Truth, but a gigantic and monstrous imposture. A mysterious hand at times lifts the veil, and lo! they find themselves in the presence, not of a divinity, but of a demon. They disclose their doubts when they next go to confession. My son, says the father confessor, these are the suggestions of the Evil One. You must arm yourself against the Tempter by fasting and penance. A hair shirt or an iron girdle is called in to silence the voice of reason and the remonstrances of conscience; and here the matter ends. And there are a few—in every age there have been a few such—in the Church of Rome, and at present they are very considerably on the increase, who, in the midst of darkness, by some wondrous means have seen the light. A tract, a Bible, or some Protestant friend whom Providence had thrown in their way, or some one of the few passages of Scripture inserted in their Breviary, may have taught them a better way than that of Rome. Instead of stopping short at the altar of Mary, or at any of the thousand shrines which Rome has erected as so many barriers between the sinner and God, they go at once to the Divine mercy-seat, and pour their supplications direct into the ear of the Great Mediator. You ask, why do these men remain in a Church which they see to be apostate? Fain would they fly, but they know not how or where. They lift their eyes to the Alps on the one side,—to the ocean on the other. Alas! they may surmount these barriers; but more difficult still than to scale the mountains or to traverse the ocean is it to escape beyond the power of Rome. Woe to the unhappy man who begins to feel his fetters! He awakes to find that he is in a wide prison, with a sentinel posted at every outlet: escape seems hopeless; and the man buries his secret in his breast.
Some few there are who, more daring by nature, or specially strengthened from above, adventure on the immense hazards of flight. Of these, some are caught, thrown into a dungeon, and are heard of no more. Others find their way to England, or some other Protestant State. But here new trials await them. They are ignorant of our language perhaps. They find themselves among strangers, whose manners seem to them cold and distant. They are without means of living; and, carrying with them too, it may be, some of the stains of their former profession, they encounter difficulties which are the more stumbling that they are unexpected. On these various grounds, the number of priests who leave the Church of Rome has been, and always will be, small, till some great revolution or upbreak takes place in that Church.
But, making the most ample allowance for all these classes,—for the men who are atheists and infidels,—for the mere worldings, whose only tie to their Church is the gain it brings them,—and for those who are either doubters, or whose doubts have passed into full conviction that the Church of the Pope is not the Church of Jesus Christ,—making, I say, full allowance for all these, I have little doubt that the majority of the priests in Italy,—it may be not much more than a majority, but still a majority,—are sincere believers in their system.
They are not ignorant of the frauds, the knaveries, the fables, and hypocrisies, by which that system is supported. They cannot shut their eyes to these, which they regard, in fact, as sanctified by the end to which they are devoted; but they separate between these and the system itself; and though they cannot tell the line where truth ends and falsehood begins, still they look upon their system, on the whole, as founded in truth, and carrying with it the sanction of Heaven. Indeed, belief is a weak term to express the power the system has over them. It is rather a paralyzing awe, a freezing terror, like that with which his grim deity inspires the barbarian, which holds captive the strongest mind, and lays reason and conscience prostrate in the dust. Such I believe to be the state of mind of the greater number of the Italian priesthood.
But how comes this? What is it which has produced this universal slavery? Is it the Pope? Is it the cardinals? Is it the Jesuits? No; for these men, though the tyrants of others, are themselves slaves. All are bound by the same chain of adamant, to the car of the same demon. A mournful procession of dead men truly, with the triple crown in front, and the sandals of the barefooted Capuchin bringing up the rear. What is it, I repeat, that holds the whole body in subjection, from the Pope down to the friar? It is the system, the abstract system, with its overwhelming prestige,—that system which lives on though popes die; the genius of the Papacy, if you will. This is the real monarch of that spiritual kingdom.
A little power of mental abstraction,—and the subtile genius of the Italian gives him that power in a high degree,—will enable any one to separate betwixt the system and its agents. Some one has remarked, that he could form an abstraction of a lord mayor, not only without his horse, and gown, and gold chain, but even without the stature, features, hands, and feet of any particular lord mayor. The same can be done of the Papacy. We can form an abstraction of the Papacy not only without the tiara and the keys, but even without the stature and lineaments, the hands and feet, of any particular Pope. When we have formed such an abstraction, we have got the real ruler of the Papacy. That it is the system that is the dominant power in the Church of Rome, is evident from this one fact, namely, that councils have sometimes deposed the Pope to save the Papacy. There is in the Pope's kirk, then, a power greater than the Pope. The system has taken body and shape, as it were, and sits upon the Seven Hills, a mysterious, awe-inspiring divinity or demon; and the Pope, equally with the friar, bows his head and does obeisance. Wherever the pontiff looks,—whether backward into history, or around him in the world,—there are the monuments of this ever living, ever present, and all pervading power. It requires more force than the mind of fallen man is capable of, to believe that a system which has filled history with its deeds and the world with its trophies, which has compelled the homage of myriads and myriads of minds, and before which the haughtiest conquerors and the most puissant intellects have bowed with the docility of children, is, after all, an unreality,—a mere spectre of the middle ages,—a ghost conjured up by credulity and knavery from the tombs of defunct idolatries. This, I say, is the true state of things in Italy. Its priesthood are subdued by their own system,—by its high claims to antiquity,—its world-wide dominion,—its imposing though faded magnificence,—its perverted logic,—its pseudo sanctity. These not only carry it over the reason, but in some degree over the senses also; and the more fully persuaded the priests are of the truth and divinity of their system, they feel only the more fully warranted to employ fraud and force in its support,—the winking Madonna to convince one class, and the dungeon and the iron chain to silence the other.
Having spoken of the abstract and spiritual power that reigns over Italy, and, I may say, over the whole Catholic world, let me now speak of the corporeal and human machinery by which the Papacy is carried on.
First comes the Pope. Pio Nono is a man of sixty-three. His years and the various misfortunes of his reign sit lightly upon him. Were the Pope much given to reflection, there are not wanting unpleasant topics enough to darken the clear Italian sunlight, as it streams in through the windows of the Vatican palace. Once was he chased from Rome; and now that he is returned, can he call Rome his own? Not he. The real master of Rome is the commandant of the French garrison. And while outside the walls are the dead whom he slew with the sword of France, inside are the living, whose sullen scowl or fierce glare he may see through the French files, as he rides out of an afternoon. But Pio Nono takes all in good part. There is not a wrinkle on his brow; no unpleasant thought appears to shade the jovial light of his broad face. He sits down to dinner with evidently a good appetite; he sleeps soundly at night, and troubles not his poor head by brooding over misfortunes which he cannot mend, or charging himself with the direction of plots which he is not competent to manage. But, if not fitted to take the lead in cabinets, nature has formed him to shine in a procession. He has a portly figure, a face radiant with blandness, dissimulation, and vanity; and he looks every inch the Pope, as he is carried shoulder-high in St Peter's, and sits blazing in his jewelled tiara and purple robes, between two huge fans of peacocks' feathers. To these accomplishments he adds that of a fine voice; and when he gives his blessing from the balcony of St Peter's, or assembles the Romans in the Forum, as he did on a late occasion, when he lifted up hands dripping with his subjects' blood, to call his hearers to repentance, his tones ring out, in the deep calm air of Rome, clear and loud as those of a bell. Such is the man who is the nominal head of the Papacy. We say the nominal head; for such a system as the Papacy, involving the consideration of so many interests, and requiring such skilful steering to clear the rocks and quicksands amid which the bark of Peter is now moving, demands the presence at the helm of a steadier hand and a clearer eye than those of Pio Nono.
I come next to the College of Cardinals. In so large a body we find, as might be expected, various grades of both intellectual and moral character; and of course there are the corresponding indications on their faces. An overbearing arrogance, which always communicates to the countenance an air of vulgarity, more or less, is a very prevailing trait. The average intellect in the sacred college is not so high as one would expect in men who have risen to the top of their profession; and for this reason, perhaps, that birth has fully more to do with their elevation than talent or services. One scrutinises their faces curiously when one remembers that these men are the living representatives of the apostles. They profess to hold the rank, to be clothed with the functions, and to inherit the supernatural endowments, of the first inspired preachers. There you may look for the burning eloquence of a Paul, the boldness of a Peter, the love of a John, the humility, patience, zeal, of all. You go round the circle, and examine one by one the faces of these living Pauls and Peters. Verily, if their prototypes were like their modern representatives, the spread of the gospel at first was by far the mightiest miracle the world ever saw. On one you find the unmistakeable marks of sordid appetite and self-indulgence: on another, low intrigue has imprinted the most sinister lines: a third is a mere man of the world;—his prayers and vigils have been kept at the shrine of pleasure. But along with much that is sordid and worldly, there are astute and far-seeing minds in the sacred college; and foremost in this class stands Antonelli. His pale face, and clear, cold, penetrating eye, reveal the presiding genius of the Papacy. He is the Prime Minister of the Pope; and though his is not the brow on which the tiara sits, he is the real head of the system. From his station on the Seven Hills his keen eye watches and directs every movement in the papal world. Those mighty projects which the Papacy is endeavouring to realize in every part of the earth have their first birth in his fertile and daring brain.
His family are well known at Rome, and some of his ancestors were men of renown in their own way. His uncle was the most famous Italian brigand of modern times, and his exploits are still celebrated in the popular songs of the country. The occupation of the yet more celebrated nephew is not so dissimilar after all; for what is Antonelli, but the leader of a crew of bandits, whose hordes scour Europe, arrayed in sacerdotal garb, and in the name of heaven rob men of their wealth, their liberty, and their souls, and carry back their booty to their den on the Seven Hills.
Next come the Bishops and Priests. These men are the agents and spies of the cardinals, as the cardinals of the Pope. The time which they are required to devote to spiritual, or rather, I should say, to official duties, is small indeed. To study the Scriptures, visit the sick, instruct the people, which form the proper work of ministers of the gospel, are duties altogether unknown in Rome. There, as I have said, they convert and save men, not by preaching, but by giving them wafers to swallow. This is a short and simple process; and when a priest has gone through this pantomime once, he can repeat it all his days after without the slightest preparation. Their time and energies, therefore, can be almost wholly devoted to other work. And what is that work? It is, in short, to propagate their superstition, and rivet the fetters of the priesthood upon the population. The bishops and priests manage the upper classes; and for the lower grades of Romans there are friars and monks of every order and of every colour. The city swarms with these men. The frogs and lice of Egypt were not more numerous, and certainly not more filthy. Unwashed and uncombed, they enter, with their sandalled feet and shaven crowns, every dwelling, and penetrate into every bosom. You see them in the wine-shops; you see them mixing with the populace on the street; while others, with wallets on their backs, may be seen climbing the stairs of the houses, for the double purpose of begging for the poor, but in reality for their own paunch, and of retailing the latest miracle, or some thousand times told legend. Thus the darkness is carried down to the very bottom of society; and while the Pope and his cardinals sit at the summit in gilded glory, the monk, in robe of serge and girdle of rope, is busied at the bottom; and, to support their individual and united action, the priests have two powerful institutions at Rome, like foot soldiers advancing under cover of artillery,—the Confessional and the Inquisition.
But emphatically the order at Rome is the Jesuits. They are the prime movers in all that is done there, as well as the keenest supporters of the Papacy in all parts of the world. They are the most indefatigable confessors, as well as the most eloquent preachers. Their regularity is like that of nature itself. Every hour of the day has its duty; and their motions are as punctual as that of the heavenly bodies. Duly every morning as the clock strikes five, they are at the altar or in the confessional. Their head-quarters are at the Gesu. I shall suppose that the reader is passing through the long corridor of that magnificent church. Every three or four paces is a door, leading to a small apartment, which is occupied by a father. Outside each door hangs a sheet of paper, on which the father puts a list of the employments for the day. When he goes out, he sticks a pin opposite the piece of business which has called him away, so that, should any one call and find him not within, he can know at once, by consulting the card, how the father is occupied, and whether he is accessible at that particular time. Among the items of business which usually appear on the card, "conference" is now one of very frequent occurrence, which indicates no inconsiderable amount of business, having reference to foreign parts, at present on the hands of the order.
I shall suppose that the reader is passing along the Corso. Has he marked that tall thin man who has just passed him,
"Walking in beauty like the night?"
There is an air of tidiness in his dress, and of comparative cleanliness on his person. He wears a small round cap, with three corners; or, if a hat, one of large brim. Neither cowl nor scapular fetters his motions; a plain black gown, not unlike a frock-coat, envelopes his person. How softly his footsteps fall! You scarce hear their sound as he glides past you. His face, how unruffled! As the lake, when the winds are asleep, hides under a moveless surface, resplendent as a sheet of gold, the dark caverns at its bottom, so does this calm, impassable face the workings of the heart beneath. This man holds in his hands the threads of a conspiracy which is exploding at that moment, mayhap in China, or in the Pacific, or in Peru, or in London.
He is at Rome at present, and appears in his proper form and dress as a Jesuit. But that man can change his country, he can change his tongue, and, Proteus-like, multiply his shapes among mankind. Next year that man whom you now meet on the streets of Rome may be in Scotland in the humble guise of a pedlar, vending at once his earthly and his spiritual wares. Or he may be in England, acting as tutor in some noble family, or in the humbler capacity of body-servant to a gentleman, or, it may be, filling a pulpit in the Church of England. He may be a Protestant schoolmaster in America, a dictator in Paraguay, a travelling companion in France and Switzerland, a Liberal or a Conservative—as best suits his purpose—in Germany, a Brahmin in India, a Mandarin in China. He can be anything and everything,—a believer in every creed, and a worshipper of every god,—to serve his Church. Rome has hundreds of thousands of such men spread over all the countries of the world. With the ring of Gyges, they walk to and fro over the earth, seeing all, yet themselves unseen. They can unlock the cabinets of statesmen, and enter unobserved the closets of princes. They can take their seat in synods and assemblies, and dive into the secrets of families. Their grand work is to sow the seeds of heresies in Churches and of dissensions in States, that, when the harvest of strife and division is fully matured, Rome may come in and reap the fruits.
SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC CUSTOMS OF THE ROMANS.
A Roman House—Wretched Dwellings of Working-Classes—How Working Men spend their Leisure Hours—Roman mode of reckoning Time—Handicrafts and Trades in Rome—Meals—Breakfast, Dinner, &c.—Games—Amusements—Marriages—Deaths and Funerals—Wills tampered with—Popular regard to Omens—Superstitions connected with the Pope's Name—Terrors of the Priesthood—Weather, and Journey Homeward.
I shall now endeavour to bring before my readers, in a short chapter, the daily inner life of Rome. First of all, let us take a peep into a Roman dwelling. The mansions of the nobility and the houses of the wealthier classes are built on the plan of the ancient Romans. There is a portal in front, a paved court in the middle, a quadrangle enclosing it, with suites of apartments running all round, tier on tier, to perhaps four or five stories. The palaces want nothing but cleanliness to make them sumptuous. They are of marble, lofty in style, and chaste though ornate in design. The pictures of the great masters that once adorned them are now scattered over northern Europe, and the frames are filled with copies. For this the poverty or extravagance of their owners is to blame. The best pictures in Rome are those in the churches, and these are sadly dimmed and obscured by the smoke of the incense. A fire-place in a Roman house is a sort of phenomenon; and yet the climate of Rome, unless at certain times, is not that balmy, intoxicating element which we imagine it to be. During my stay there, I had to encounter alternate deluges of rain, with lightning, and cutting blasts of the Tramontana. The comfort of an Italian house, especially in winter, depends more on its exposure to the sun than on any arrangement for heating it. Some few, however, have fire-places in the rooms. The kitchen is placed on the top of the house,—the very reverse of its position with us. The ends sought hereby are safety, and the convenience of discharging the culinary effluvia into the atmosphere. The fire-place is unique, and not unlike that of a smithy. There is a cap for sparks; and about three feet above the floor stands a stone sole, in which holes are cut for the fornelli, which are square cast-iron grated boxes for holding the wood char, upon which the culinary utensils are placed. These are but ill adapted for preparing a roast. John Bull would look with sovereign contempt, or downright despair, according to the state of his stomach, on the thing called a roast in Rome. There it is seldom seen beyond the size of a beef-steak. Much small fry is roasted with a ratchet-wheel and spit. This is wound up with a weight, and revolves over the fire, which is strewed upon the hearth.
The working classes generally purchase their meals cooked in the Osteria Cucinante, where food and wine are to be had. These are numerous in Rome. They may be fairly called the homes of the working classes, for there they lounge so long as their baiocchi last. The houses of the working classes are comfortless in the extreme. They are of stone, and roomy, but unfurnished. A couple of straw-bottomed chairs and a bed make up generally the entire furnishings of a Roman house. Indeed, the latter article appears to be the only reason for having a house at all. So soon as the day's labour is over, the working men resort to the wine and eating shops and coffeehouses, where they remain till the time of shutting, which is two and three hours of the night. The Roman reckoning of the day begins at Ave Maria, which is a quarter of an hour after sunset. The first hour of the night is consequently an hour after Ave Maria, from which the Romans reckon consecutively till the twenty-fourth hour. As the sun sets earlier or later, according to the season of the year, the hours vary of course, and the same period of the day that is indicated by the twelfth hour at the time of equinox, is indicated by the eleventh hour in midsummer, and the thirteenth hour in midwinter. This is very annoying to travellers from the north of Europe. "What o'clock is it?" you ask; and are told in reply, "It is the eighteenth hour and three quarters." To find the time of day from this answer, you must calculate from Ave Maria, with reference to the time of sunset at that particular season of the year. Mid-day is announced in Rome by the firing of a cannon from the castle of St Angelo. The French reckon time as we do, and may possibly, before they leave Rome, teach the Romans to adopt the same mode of reckoning.
When I stated in a former chapter that trade there is not in Rome, my readers, of course, understood me to mean that it was comparatively annihilated, not totally extinguished. The Romans must have houses, however poor; clothes, however homely; and food, however plain; and the supply of these wants necessitates the existence, to a certain extent, of the various trades and handicrafts. But in Rome these exist in an embryotic state, and are carried on after the most antiquated modes,—much as in Britain five hundred years ago. The principal public works,—for by this name must we dignify the little quiet concerns in the Eternal City,—are situated in the neighbourhood of Trastevere, the decidedly plebeian quarter of Rome, although it would not do to say so to a Trasteverian. There are woollen manufactories and candle manufactories. The chief customer of the latter is the Church. The armoury and mint are contiguously situated to St Peter's. The tanning of hides is extensively carried on along the banks of the Tiber, whose classic "gold" is not unfrequently streaked with oozy streams of a dirty white. Flour-mills are numerous. Amid the brawls which disturb the Trastevere, the ear can catch the ring of the shuttle, for there a few hand-loom weavers pursue their calling. There is a tobacco manufactory in the same quarter; and I must state, for truth compels me, that most of the Roman women take snuff. From the windows of the Vatican Museum one can see the tile and brick maker busy at his trade behind the palace. Extensive potteries exist near to Ripa Grande, where the most of the kitchen and chamber utensils for city and country are made. I may here note, that most of the cooking utensils of the working man are of earthenware, and stand the fire remarkably well.
There are about a score of soap-works in Rome, but the soap manufactured in these establishments is abominable. My friend Mr Stewart informed me that he brought a soap-boiler from Glasgow, who understood his business thoroughly, and had soap made in Rome as we have it in this country, but without the palm-oil. This ingredient was not used, because, not being in the tariff, it was thought that, should it be imported, it would in all probability be classed under "perfumeries," and charged an exorbitant duty. The soap being a new thing in Rome, and unlike the nauseous stuff there in use, a clamour was raised against it, to the effect that it produced sickness, and caused headache and vomiting. The Roman ladies, in certain circumstances, are most fastidious about smells, though why they should in Rome, of all places in Europe, is most unaccountable. The Government, compassionating their sufferings, seized a parcel of the soap, and caused it to be analyzed by a chemist. The chemist's report was not unfavourable; nevertheless, owing to the strong prejudice against the article, the sale was so limited, that its manufacture had to be discontinued as unremunerative. Besides the trades already enumerated, there are in the Eternal City marble-cutters, mosaics and cameo workers, sculptors and painters, vine-dressers, olive-dressers, vegetable cultivators, silk-worm rearers, and a few manufacturers of silk scarfs. There are, too, in a feeble state, the trades connected with the making and mending of clothes, the building and repairing of houses. And to feel how feeble these trades are, it is only necessary to see the garments of the Romans, how coarse in material and how uncourtly in cut. The peasant throws a sheep's skin over him, and is clad; the lower classes of the towns look as if they fabricated their own garments, from the spinning upwards. To the best of my knowledge, there was only one house being built in all Rome when I was there; and that was rising on an old foundation near the Capitol. The makers of votive offerings and wax-candles for the saints are a more numerous class than the masons in Rome. Washer-women form a numerous body, as do lodging-house keepers,—a class that includes many of the nobles. The clerks are numberless, and very ill paid, having in many cases to attend two or three employers to eke out a living. Men are invariably employed as house-servants in Rome. They cook, clean the chambers, make up the beds, in short, do everything that is necessary to be done in a house.
The workman begins his day's labour at six or seven, as the season of the year may be. He breakfasts on coffee, or on coffee and milk in equal proportions, or on warm milk alone. Bread is used, which he soaks in his tumbler of coffee. Few take butter; fewer still eggs or ham, for pecuniary reasons. Many of the working classes take soup of bread paste; others take salad and olive-oil with bread. The peasantry cut up their coarse bread, saturate it with olive-oil, dust it over with pepper, and eat it along with finocchio (fennel), the vegetable being unboiled. Roasted or boiled chestnuts are extensively used at all times of the day. They are to be had on the streets; many making a living by roasting and selling these fruits.
Mid-day is the common dining hour. The meal generally consists of soup of bread, herbs, paste, or macaroni, butcher-meat, fowls, snails (white, fed on grass), frogs, entrails of fowls and young birds, omelettes, sausages, salad with olive-oil, dried olives, fruit, and wine, according to the circumstances of the person. The country people during harvest make their dinner of coarse bread, to which they add a few cloves of garlic, a little goat's-milk cheese, and sour wine diluted with water. Many live on bread alone, with wine. Supper is generally a substantial meal, consisting more or less of the same materials as are used for dinner, salad and wine never failing. Tomatoes are extensively used, ate alone, or serving for all kinds of dinner and supper stews. Green figs are much used. Polenda is a universal article of food amongst the peasantry. It is Indian corn ground and boiled, and made to take the place that porridge does in Scotland, with this difference, that it is boiled in pork fat.
The amusements of the working classes are not numerous. Moro and the bowls are their two principal games. The first is generally played at in twos, and is not unlike our schoolboy game of odds or evens. The Romans, at this game, however, put themselves into the attitude of gladiators,—each naming a number, and extending at the same time so many fingers; and the party that names the number corresponding with the number of fingers extended by both is the victor. So many guesses constitute the game. The attitude and airs of the combatants in this simple game,—which seems fitter for children than for men,—are very ridiculous. The other chief amusement of the Romans is bowls. These are made of wood. So many hands are ranged on this side, and an equal number on that; and the game proceeds more or less after the fashion of curling. The feast days,—which are numerous in Rome,—on which labour is interdicted under a heavy penalty, are mostly passed at bowls; as the Sabbaths, on which labour is also forbidden, though under a much smaller penalty, are generally with the drawing of the lottery. All places of rendezvous beyond the walls have the sign of the balls, along with the accompanying intimation, Vino, Bianco e Rosso. Encircling the courtyard adjoining the house is a broad straw-shed or canopy, beneath which the crowd assembles, young and old, male and female, gathering round small tables, and discussing the fiasci of Orvieto and toast. The game is proceeding all the while in their neighbourhood, the stakes being so many more flasks of the choice wine of Orvieto. This continues till Ave Maria, when the crowd break up, withdraw to the city, and, after a visit to the wine-shops within the walls, go home, and (as I was naively told by a Scotch lady resident in Rome) beat their wives as much as they do in England.
In the coffeehouses the grand sources of amusement are dice and drafts, along with backgammon and billiards. The latter two games are confined to the upper and middle classes. Most of the upper classes, I believe, have billiard-rooms at home, for family use and conversazione-party amusement. In the absence of newspapers, journals, and books, it would be impossible, without these expedients, to get through the evening. All who can afford to attend the theatre (more properly opera), do so as regularly as the night comes; and the scenes and acts which they there witness form the basis of Italian conversation. It is at least a safe subject. No Roman who has the fear of a prison before him would discuss politics in a mixed company. In Rome there is an utter dearth of employment for young men. They dare not travel; they cannot visit a neighbouring town without the permission of Government, which is only sometimes to be had; they have nothing to read; and one can imagine, in these circumstances, the utter waste of mental and moral energies which must ensue among this class in Rome. These young men have a sore battle to keep up appearances. They do their utmost absolutely for a cigar and cane; but their success is not always such as so great ingenuity and patience deserve. You may see them in half-dozens, lounging for hours about the coffeehouses, without, in many cases, spending more than a single baiocchi on coffee, and sometimes not even that.
Marriage is negotiated, not by the young persons, but by the parents. The mother charges herself with everything appertaining to the making of the match, conducting even the correspondence. Of course, to address a billet doux to the young lady would be to infringe upon the prerogatives of mamma, which must ever be held inviolate if success is seriously aimed at. The mother receives all such epistles, and answers them in the daughter's behalf. The young lady is closely watched, and is never left a moment in the society of her intended partner previous to marriage, unless in the presence of a third party. The Romans thus marry by sight, and have no means, so far at least as regards personal intercourse, of ascertaining the dispositions, tastes, intelligence, and habits of each other. After marriage the lady is free. She may visit and receive visitors; and has now an opportunity for like and dislike; and may be tempted possibly to use it all the more that she had no such opportunity before.
From marriages I pass to deaths and funerals. The usages customary on the last illness of a Roman I cannot better describe than by referring to a case which my friend Mr Stewart had occasion to witness. It was that of a clerk in the Roman savings bank, an acquaintance of his, and a young man of some means. In 1846 he caught fever, and, after lingering for three weeks, died. Relatives he had none; and my friend never met any one with the patient save the priest, whose duty it was to administer the last sacrament, and to do so in time. The sick man's chamber was curiously arranged. On the bed-cover were laid three crucifixes: one was four feet in length; the other two were of smaller size. This safeguard against the demons was further reinforced by the addition of a palm-branch, and a few trifling pictures of the Virgin and saints. On the wall, above the bed, hung a frame, containing a picture of the Virgin Mary, executed in the ordinary style, with lighted candles beside it. Two were placed on each side, and to these was added una mazza di fiori. Notwithstanding all this he died. The body was then carried to church for the last services, preparatory to consignment to the burying-ground of Saint Lorenzo. A single word pointing to that blood that cleanseth from all sin would have been of more avail than all this idle array; but that word was not spoken.
Towards the close of life, especially if the person be wealthy, the priests and monks grow very assiduous in their attentions, and the relatives become in proportion uneasy. I was introduced at Rome to a Signor Bondini, who had a wealthy relative in the Regno di Napoli, on the verge of eighty, and very infirm. There was a monastery in his immediate neighbourhood, and the monks of that establishment were in daily attendance upon him. His friends in Rome felt much anxiety regarding the disposal of his property. How the matter ended I know not; but I trust, for the sake of my acquaintance, that all went well. Nor do friends feel quite safe even after the "will" has been ratified by the testator's death. There is a tribunal, as I have formerly stated, for revising wills,—the S. Visita,—which assumes large powers. Of this a curious instance occurred recently. A Signor Galli, cousin of the minister of that name already mentioned, died in the July of 1854, and left his whole property, amounting to about fifty thousand pounds, to neither relatives nor priests, but to works of benevolence for the relief of the poor. The trustee under the deed was proceeding to plan a workhouse or an asylum for infirm old men, when the Chapter of St Peter's claimed the money, on the ground that, as the works of benevolence were not specified in the will, the funds were the property of St Peter's. Some hundreds of old men are employed in the repairs continually going on about that church, and the Chapter meant to spend the money in that way. Meanwhile the S. Visita put in its claim in opposition to the Chapter, and awarded the property for masses for the soul of the departed; deeming, doubtless, that the whole would be little enough to expiate the well-known liberal opinions of the deceased. So stands the matter at present. It is impossible to say whether the money will be spent in paving the Piazza San Pietro, or in masses; as to the relief of the poor, that is now out of the question.
It is customary for Roman families to desert the dead, that is, to leave the body in the hands of the priests and monks, who perform the necessary offices to the corpse, conduct the funeral, and sing masses for the soul of the departed. The pomp and display of the one, and the length and number of the other, are regulated entirely by the circumstances of the deceased's family. A more ghastly procession than the funeral one cannot imagine. Instead of a company of grave men, carrying with decorous sorrow to its final resting-place the body of their departed brother, you meet what you take to be a procession of ghouls. The coffin, borne shoulder-high, comes along the street, followed by a long line of figures, enveloped from head to foot in black serge gowns, with holes for the eyes. They march along, carrying large black crosses and tallow candles, and using their voices in something which is betwixt a chant and a howl. The sight suggests only the most dismal associations. But it has its uses, and that is, to move the living to be liberal in masses to rescue the soul from the power of the demons, of which no feeble representation is exhibited in this ghostly and unearthly procession.
The modern Italians pay great regard to omens; and, in the important affairs of life, are guided rather by considerations of lucky and unlucky than the maxims of wisdom. The name of the present Pope the Romans hold to be decidedly of evil omen; so much so, that to affix it anywhere is to make the person or thing a mark for calamity. And I was told a curious list of instances corroborative of this opinion. The first year of the reign of Pius was marked by an unprecedented and disastrous flood. The Tiber rose so high in Rome, that it drowned the stone lions in the Piazza del Popolo, flooded the city, and filled the Corso to a depth that compelled the citizens to have recourse to boats. The Government had a great cannon named after the Pope, which was used in the war of independence sanctioned by Pius in 1848. The cannon Pio was taken by the Austrians, although it was afterwards restored. There was a famous steamer, the property of the Papal Government, named "Pia," which plied on the Adriatic. That steamer shared the fate of all that bears the Pope's name. It was taken, too, by the Austrians, but not returned; though, for a reason I shall afterwards state, better it had been sent back. I was wandering one afternoon amid the desolate mounds outside the walls on the east, when I saw a cloud of frightful blackness gather over Rome, and several intensely vivid bolts shoot downward. When I entered the city, I found that the "Porta Pia" had been laid in ruins, and that the occurrence had revived all the former impressions of the Romans regarding the evil significancy of the Pope's name. All who came to his aid in his reforming times, they say, were smitten with disaster or sudden death. He never raises his hands to bless but down there comes a curse. I was not a little struck, in the winter following my return from Rome, to read in the newspapers, that this same steamer Pia, of which I had heard mention made in Rome as having about it a magnet of evil in the Pope's name, had gone down in the Adriatic, with all on board. It was one of the two vessels which carried the suite of the Russian Grand Dukes when they visited Venice in the winter of 1852, and, encountering a tempest on its return, perished, with some two hundred persons, consisting of crew and soldiers.
As regards the affection which the Romans bear to Pope and Papacy, I was assured by Mr Freeborn, our consul in Rome, that there is not a priest in that city who had two hours to live when the last French soldier shall have marched out at the gate. All who had resided for some time in Rome, and knew the state of feeling in the population, shuddered to think of what would certainly happen should the French be withdrawn. I have been told by those who visited Rome more recently, that the Romans now do not ask for so much as two hours. "Give us but half an hour," say they, "and we undertake that the Papacy shall never again trouble the world." No true Protestant can wish, or even hope, to put down the system in this way; nevertheless it is a fact, that the Romans have been goaded to this pitch of exasperation, and the slightest change in the political relations of Europe might precipitate on Rome and the Papal States an avalanche of vengeance. The November of 1851 was a time of almost unendurable apprehension to the priests. With reference to France, then on the eve of the coup d'etat, though not known to be so save in Rome,—where I am satisfied it was well known,—the priests, I was told by those who had access to know, said, "We tremble, we tremble, for we know not how we shall finish!" They were said to have their pantaloons, et cetera, all ready, to escape in a laic dress. Assuredly the curse has taken effect upon the occupants of the Vatican not less than on the inhabitants of the Ghetto. "Thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life."
Among other things that did not realize my expectations in Italy was the weather. During my stay in Rome there were dull and dispiriting days, with the Alban hills white to their bottom. Others were clear, with the piercingly cold Tramontana sweeping the streets; but more frequently the sirocco was blowing, accompanied with deluges of rain, and flashes of lightning that made the night luminous as the day, and peals that rocked the city on its foundations. One Sabbath evening we had a slight shock of earthquake; and I began to think that I had come to see the volcanic covering of the Campagna crack, and the old hulk which has been stranded on it so long sink into the abyss. My homeward journey was accomplished so far in the most dismal weather I have ever seen. I started from Rome on a Monday afternoon, in a Veturino carriage, with two Roman gentlemen as my companions. It was the Civita Vecchia road, for my purpose was to go by sea to France. We reached the half-way house some hours after dark; and, having supped, we were required to conform to the rule of the house, which was to retire, not to bed, but to our vehicle, which stood drawn up on the highway, and pass the night as best we could. I awoke at day-break, and found the postilion yoking the horses in a perfect hurricane of wind and rain. We reached Civita Vecchia at breakfast-time, and found the Mediterranean one roughened expanse of breakers, with the white waves leaping over the mole, and violently rocking the vessels in the harbour. The steamers from Naples to Marseilles were a week over due, and the agents could not say when one might arrive. Time pressed; and after wandering all day about the town,—one of the most wretched on earth,—and seeing the fiery sun find his bed in the weltering ocean, I took my seat in the diligence for Rome.
This was the third time I had passed through that land of death the Campagna; and that night in especial I shall never forget. My companions in the interieur were two Dutch gentlemen, and a lady, the wife of one of them. The rain fell in deluges; the frequent gleams showed us each other's faces; and the bellowing thunder completely drowned the rattle of our vehicle. The long weary night wore through, and about four of the morning we came to the old gate. My passport had been vised with reference to a sea-voyage; and to explain my change of route to the officials in Civita Vecchia and at the gate of Rome, and persuade them to make the corresponding alterations, cost me some little trouble, and a good many paulos into the bargain. I succeeded, fortunately, for otherwise I should have had to submit to a detention of several days. How to make the homeward journey had now become a serious question. The weather had made the sea unnavigable; and the Alps, now covered to a great depth with ice and snow, could be crossed only on sledges. I resolved on going by land to Leghorn,—a wearisome and expensive route, but one that would show me the old Etruria, with several cities of note in Italian history. The diligence for Florence was to start in an hour. I hurried to the office, and engaged the only seat that remained unbespoke, in the coupe happily, with a Russian and Italian gentleman as companions. I made my final exit by the Flaminian gate; and as I crossed the swollen Tiber, and began to climb the height beyond, the first rays of the morning sun were slanting across the Campagna, and tinging with angry light the troubled masses of cloud that hung above the many-domed city.
For a few hours the ride was pleasant. All around lay the neglected land, thinly besprinkled with forlorn olives, but without signs of man, save where a crumbling village might be seen crowning the summit of the little conical hills that form so striking a feature in the Etrurian landscape. When we had reached the spurs of the Apennines the storm fell. The air was thickened with alternate showers of sleet and snow. We had to encounter torrents in the valleys, and drifted wreaths on the heights; in short, the journey was to the full as dreary as one through the Grampians would have been at the same season. There was little to tempt us to leave our vehicle at the few villages and towns where we halted, for they seemed half-drowned in rain and mud. Late in the afternoon we reached Viterbo, and stopped to eat a wretched dinner. We found in the hotel but little of that abundance of which the magnificent vine-stocks in the adjoining fields gave so goodly promise. Starting again at dusk, the ladies of the party inquired where the patrol was that used to accompany travellers through the brigand-haunted country of Radicofani, on which we were about to enter; but could get no satisfactory answer. We skirted the lake of Bolsena, with its rich but deserted shores, and its fine mountains of oak. Soon thereafter darkness hid from us the country; but the frequent gleams of lightning showed that it was wild and desolate as ever traveller passed through. It was naked, and torn, and scathed, as if fire had acted upon it, which, indeed, it had, for our way now lay amidst extinct volcanoes. Towards midnight the diligence suddenly stopped. "Here are the brigands at last," said I to myself. I jumped out; and, stretched on the road, pallid and motionless, lay the foremost postilion. Had he been shot, or what had happened? He was a raw-boned lad of some eighteen, wretchedly clad, and worse fed; and he had swooned through fatigue and cold. We brought him round with a little brandy; and, setting him again on his nags, we continued our journey.
I recollect of awaking at times from troubled sleep, to find that we were zig-zagging up the sides of mountains tall and precipitous as a sugar-loaf, and entering beneath the portals of towns old and crumbling, perched upon their very summit. A more desolate sight than that which met the eye when day broke I never saw. Every particle of soil seemed torn from the face of the country; and, as far as the eye could reach, plain and hill-side lay under a covering of marl, which was grooved and furrowed by torrents. "Is this Italy?" I asked myself in astonishment. As the day rose, both weather and scenery improved. Towards mid-day, the green beauteous mount on which Sienna, with its white buildings and its cathedral towers, is situated, rose in the far distance; and, after many hours winding and climbing, we entered its walls.
At Sienna we exchanged the diligence for the railway, the course of which lay through a series of ravines and valleys of the most magnificent description, and thoroughly Tuscan in their character. We had torrents below, crags crowned with castles above, vines, chestnuts, and noble oaks clothing the steep, and purple shadows, such as Italy only can show, enrobing all. I reached Pisa late in the evening; and there a substantial supper, followed by yet more grateful sleep, made amends for the four previous days' fasting, sleeplessness, and endurance. I passed the Sabbath at Leghorn; and, starting again on Monday via Marseilles, and prosecuting my journey day and night without intermission, save for an hour at a time, came on Saturday evening to the capital of happy England, where I rested on the morrow, "according to the commandment."
THE ARGUMENT FROM THE WHOLE, OR, ROME HER OWN WITNESS.
When one goes to Rome, it is not unreasonable that he should there look for some proofs of the vaunted excellence of the Roman faith. Rome is the seat of Christ's Vicar, and the centre of Christianity, as Romanists maintain; and there surely, if anywhere, may he expect to find those personal and social virtues which have ever flourished in the wake of Christianity. To what region has she gone where barbarism and vice have not disappeared? and in what age has she flourished in which she has not moulded the hearts of men and the institutions of society into conformity with the purity of her own precepts, and the benevolence of her own spirit? She has been no teacher of villany and cruelty,—no patron of lust,—no champion of oppression. She has known only "whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report." Her great Founder demanded that she should be tried by her fruits; and why should Rome be unwilling to submit to this test? If the Pope be Christ's Vicar, his deeds cannot be evil. If Romanism be Christianity, or rather, if it alone be Christianity, as its champions maintain, Rome must be the most Christian city on the earth, and the Romans examples to the whole human race, of industry, of sobriety, of the love of truth, and, in short, of whatever tends to dignify and exalt human character. On the assumption that the Christianity of the Seven Hills is the Christianity of the New Testament, Rome ought to be the seat of just laws, of inflexibly upright and impartial tribunals, and of wise, paternal, and incorruptible rulers. Is it so? Is Christ's Vicar a model to all governors? and is the region over which he bears sway renowned throughout the earth as the most virtuous, the most happy, and the most prosperous region in it? Alas! the very opposite of all this is the fact. There is not on the face of the earth a region more barren of everything Christian, and of everything that ought to spring from Christianity, than is the region of the Seven Hills. And not only do we there find the absence of all that reminds us of Christianity, or that could indicate her presence; but we find there the presence, on a most gigantic scale, and in most intense activity, of all the elements and forms of evil. When the infidel would select the very strongest proofs that Christianity cannot possibly be Divine, and that its influence on individual and national character is most disastrous, he goes to the banks of the Tiber. The weapons which Voltaire and his compeers wielded with such terrible effect in the end of last century were borrowed from Rome. Now, why is this? Either Christianity is to a most extraordinary degree destructive of all the temporal interests of man, or Romanism is not Christianity.
The first part of the alternative cannot in reason be maintained. Christianity, like man, was made in the image of Him who created her; and, like her great Maker, is essentially and supremely benevolent. She is as much the fountain of good as the sun is the fountain of light; and the good that is in the minor institutions which exist around her comes from her, just as the mild effulgence of the planets radiates from the great orb of day. She cherishes man in all the extent of his diversified faculties, and throughout the vast range of his interests, temporal and eternal. But Romanism is as universal in her evil as Christianity is in her good. She is as omnipotent to overthrow as Christianity is to build up. Man, in his intellectual powers and his moral affections,—in his social relations and his national interests,—she converts into a wreck; and where Christianity creates an angel, Romanism produces a fiend. Accordingly, the region where Romanism has fixed its seat is a mighty and appalling ruin. Like some Indian divinity seated amidst the blood, and skulls, and mangled limbs of its victims, Romanism is grimly seated amidst the mangled remains of liberty, and civilization, and humanity. Her throne is a graveyard,—a graveyard that covers, not the mortal bodies of men, but the fruits and acquisitions, alas! of man's immortal genius. Thither have gone down the labours, the achievements, the hopes, of innumerable ages; and in this gulph they have all perished. Italy, glorious once with the light of intelligence and of liberty on her brow, and crowned with the laurel of conquest, is now naked and manacled. Who converted Italy into a barbarian and a slave? The Papacy. The growth of that foul superstition and the decay of the country have gone on by equal stages. In the territory blessed with the pontifical government there is—as the previous chapters show—no trade, no industry, no justice, no patriotism; there is neither personal worth nor public virtue; there is nothing but corruption and ruin. In fine, the Papal States are a physical, social, political, and moral wreck; and from whatever quarter that religion has come which has created this wreck, it is undeniable that it has not come from the New Testament. If it be true that "a tree is known by its fruits," the tree of Romanism was never planted by the Saviour.
With such evidence before him as Italy furnishes, can any man doubt what the consequence would be of admitting this system into Britain? If there be any truth in the maxim, that like causes produce like effects, the consequences are as manifest as they are inevitable. There is a force of genius, a versatility and buoyancy, about the Italians, which fit them better than most to resist longer and surmount sooner the influence of a system like the Papacy; and yet, if that system has wrought such terrible havoc among them,—if it has put them down and keeps them down,—where is the nation or people who may think to embrace Romanism, and yet escape being destroyed by it? Assuredly, should it ever gain the ascendancy in this country, it will inflict, and in far shorter time, the same dire ruin upon us which it has inflicted on Italy.
Let no man delude himself with the idea that it is simply a religion which he is admitting, and that the only change that would ensue would be merely the substitution of a Romanist for a Protestant creed. It is a scheme of Government; and its introduction would be followed by a complete and universal change in the political constitution and government of the country. The Romanists themselves have put this matter beyond dispute. Why did the Papists divide territorially the country? Why did they assume territorial titles? and why do they so pertinaciously cling to these titles? Why, because their chief aim is to erect a territorial and political system, and they wish to secure, by fair means or foul, a pretest or basis on which they may afterwards enforce that system by political and physical means. Have we forgotten the famous declaration of Wiseman, that his grand end in the papal aggression was to introduce canon law? And what is canon law? The previous chapters show what canon law is. It is a code which, though founded on a religious dogma, namely, that the Pope is God's Vicar, is nevertheless mainly temporal in its character. It claims a temporal jurisdiction; it employs temporal power in its support,—the sbirri, Swiss guards, and French troops at Rome, for instance; and it visits offences with temporal punishment,—banishment, the galleys, the carabine, and guillotine. In its most modified form, and as viewed under the glosses of the most dexterous of its modern commentators and apologists, it vests the Pope in a DIRECTING POWER, according to which he can declare null all constitutions, laws, tribunals, decisions, oaths, and causes contrary to good morals, in other words, contrary to the interests of the Church, of which he is the sole and infallible judge; and all resistance is punishable by deprivation of civil rights, by confiscation of goods, by imprisonment, and, in the last resort, by death. In short, it vests in the Pope's hands all power on earth, whether spiritual or temporal, and puts all persons, ecclesiastical and secular, under his foot. A more overwhelming tyranny it is impossible to imagine; for it is a tyranny that unites the voice with the arm of Deity. We challenge the Romanist to show how he can inaugurate his system in Britain,—set up canon law, as he proposes,—without changing the constitution of the country. We affirm, on the grounds we have stated, that he cannot. This, then, is no battle merely of churches and creeds; it is a battle between two kingdoms and two kings,—the Pope on one side, and Queen Victoria on the other; and no one can become an abettor of the pontiff without being thereby a traitor to the sovereign.