Page images
PDF
EPUB

by Mr. Whiteside, and of neither is his account very flattering. The hand of the admirable reformer of Florence was wanted here, as indeed in most of the other Italian states :

"A popular orator he is, and of a high order; his age seems to be fifty, size a little above the middle stature, inclining to the muscular. Right eloquently did he harangue for three-quarters of an hour, being the most easily understood by a foreigner, of all Italian speakers or preachers I ever heard. It must not be supposed the vigorous di. vine spoke without cessation; on the contrary, he wisely divided his discourse into compartments, and after an impetuous torrent of twenty minutes, received by the audience in silent attention, down he sat, and this was the signal for an universal burst of coughing, nose-blowing, and spitting, a practice most convenient-for in England, in the influenza months, a constant barking is maintained during the sermon, against which the preacher can hardly bear up; whereas in Italy, by a violent effort of nature, all the disagreeable customs of the people are repressed while the preacher speaks, and explode when he stops. Padre Ventura arises with renewed vigour, and declaims, with unhe. sitating fluency, a quarter of an hour, closing this part of his discourse with an incentive to alms-giving ; when he sits down, there is another fit of coughing, during which boys hand round bags suspended to long poles, collecting bajocchi; every person gives a little. In the same interval an indulgence was proclaimed, on certain conditions to be performed the ensuing Sabbath. Il Padre Ventura arises for the third time like a giant refreshed with sleep, and sweeps onward in his course in a whirl. wind of declamation; the subject lastly touched on inflames his eloquence—the church-the ancient church-the only church—the infallible church-the true church - the charitable church - the apostolic church-the falseness of all other churches—the dismal fate of heretics and unbelievers--the joyful triumph of the faithful, and those who, like the audience, believe in her. Suppressed sighs were just audible; the preacher had done, the people were dismissed with a benediction, they to an immortality of bliss through the church, all he. retics to eternal flames; the congregation seemed highly pleased with this positive announcement of the judgment to be awarded in a future state by Almighty God. Il Padre Ventura did all this admirably well, but if there be anything in Italy more revolting to a Christian man than another, it is when he hears a coarse monk, with flippant bigotry, sentence all mankind, not within the pale of his church, to eternal damnation."

The legal tribunals of Rome and its codes of jurisprudence are investigated

“Ascending by a flight of steps, we reached a lofty hall, where shabby people walked to and fro. The judges had not yet sat-I saw some men in coarse gowns, who I supposed to have been beadles. About eleven o'clock there was a rush towards the door our guide bastened forward, and we were soon in an oblong room ; opposite the entrance sat five judges in arm-chairs elevated on a raised floor; the man in the centre I concluded was a priest—all resembled ecclesiastics in their dress : a large crucifix stood on a table covered with green cloth. About a foot from the table was a ledge of wood running along the entire room; behind this sat the advocates, whom I now saw were the men I had mistaken for beadles. Their gowns were similar to those worn by our tipstaffs, the dress and appearance of the owners were unprepossessing in the extreme; at the upper end of the room lounged a crier, who called on each case. The pleadings were made up in little bundles of paper, which the advocates held, and as his case was called each counsel rose and spoke, and the cross chief-justice pronounced the rule, seldom consulting his learned brethren. These causes were disposed of quickly enough, but the parties had their appeal. There was a total absence of dignity in the aspect of the court, judges, and practitioners; the room and its arrangements were immeasurably inferior to a London police-office; yet this was a court of superior jurisdiction. Quit. ting this supreme court, we were conducted to the other civil tribunals. One of these resembled a noisy court of conscience; a single judge sat here without dignity, and his judgments were received by a crowd of vulgar people, who pressed round him without respect. The jurisdiction of this inferior court reached the amount of 200 scudi (each scudo 4s. 6d.), a considerable sum in Rome."

Having then requested the advocate who accompanied them to lead them to the criminal court,

“He showed us a closed door leading to a chamber, wherein a criminal cause was proceeding, but regretted he could not gratify our curiosity, inasmuch as he himself had no right of entrance. The judges, the prisoner, his advocate, the procuratore fiscale prosecuting, and the guard, were the only persons per

mitted to be present at the trial. No relative or friend of the accused dares to cross the threshold of the court-no part of the evidence, trial, or sentence, can be published ; the proceedings of the criminal tribunals are wrapped in impenetrable mystery. Mr. Pakenham asked, within what time after his arrest must a prisoner be tried ? The advo.. cate answered there was no time fixed, nor any means of enforcing a trial; he admitted a prisoner might be from one to eight years in gaol, without being brought before any legal tribunal. This gentleman was a stranger to us, until the day of our visit; he said nothing against the system of Roman Criminal Justice, he merely described it; we took our leave, having learned something, even by a first visit to the courts of justice in the Eternal City. I confess the contrast between the meanness of the judicial, and the excessive splendour of the ecclesiastical system, surprised me. I had beheld the unrivalled grandeur of the church in Rome, its pompous ceremonies, splendid churches, the gorgeous finery of its priests-in comparison, the courts of justice resembled a barn or hay-loft, and its ad. ministrators were only on a level with the humblest sacristans.”

With such a system of law, such judges, and such remuneration, is it to be wondered that the profession which we look on as the highest and most honourable, should in Rome be esteemed a base pursuit. Yet so it is

Little law had he then in his head, and less experience; but he fancied, in his simplicity, that the word would in his simplicity be a panoply to a traveller, as an, nouncing that he was of a class pro. verbially “wide awake," and on whom padrone or vetturino should not “run a buck” with impunity. Soon, alas! he discovered his error- the simple “ rentier" took the lead of him on all occasions, and he found invariably every young puppy with the fore. shadowing of manhood on his upper lip, and a bit of red ribbon in his button-hole, and calling himself count or captain, save the mark! go a-head of him by a long chalk. But a bitterer humiliation was in store. An ill-favoured-looking fellow in Rome, a courier, made overtures to him, which moved our friend's indignation to the utmost. He had been in the service of some English “eccelenza” who had died. The fellow was under the delusion that he had left him a legacy, which the executor was not disposed to pay, and he had the hardi. hood to propound certain questions to our "avvocato," touching the law of England as to such bequests, proposing to retire to a neighbouring “trattoria," and pay the fee in a “bottiglia del vino !” Need we say how our friend acted ? The pride of brotherhood with “ Roper on Legacies," and « Fearne on Contingent Remainders," sustained him-he looked a thousand “ Littletons" at the rascal, and dis. missed him from his presence.

The criminal code of Gregory is a melancholy contrast to that of Leopold. Mr. Whiteside states it at length in a note, and gives the following brief summary of its provi. sions :

“ Secret trials ; suppression of names of witnesses and prosecutors ; refusal of means of making defence against a charge alleged, it may be, by a private enemy; special commissions; torture of the accused by personal interrogatories in his prison; the code, barbarous as it is, giving no definition of sedition or treason, and leaving it to a court so constituted, to condemn (upon an extorted, or perverted answer) the unfortunate accused to death.”'

Such is the system, differing little from its original, the Inquisition, under which thousands of the Roman laity suffer-while, for the ecclesiastics, a milder trial and a lighter seutence is prescribed.

“ The advocate," observes Mr.Whiteside, “is seldom, if ever, admitted into high society in Rome; nor can the princes (so called) or nobles comprehend the position of a barrister in England. They would as soon permit a facchino as an advocate to enter their palaces, and they have been known to ask with disdain (when accidentally apprised that a younger son of an English nobleman had embraced the profession of the law), what could induce his family to suffer the degradation ? Priests, bishops, and cardinals, the poor nobles, or their impoverished descendants, will become-advocates or judges, never.”

This is a fact of which English barristers have in general no idea, when they first set out on their travels. Well do we recollect one fine sum. mer's morning, when, entering Italy at the frontier near Domo d'Ossolo, a friend of ours “ wrote himself down an ass," by having attached to his passport the suffix of “avvocato,"

adding, with all the proverbial volubility of their craft, their sweet voices to swell the general uproar. Here hun. gry crowds stand impatiently round the stalls of the maccaroni venders ; while others collect round the stalls where fried fish is sold. . . . . . : : : “ Any description of Naples would be incomplete that did not introduce the countless fiacres, cabriolets, and carriages of all sorts, and the miserable animals that draw them, as well as the attempt to give an idea of the noise and confusion of Naples, without taking into account the cries and cracking of the whips of their wild and ruthless drivers, as if their legs could not carry them fast enough in the maddening pursuit of pleasure or excitement. All classes take to carriages, and whirl about from one end of the city to the other, with a mad rapidity that is truly astonishing—the nobleman, in bis gaudy carriage, and lackeys in tawdry liveries-officers in bright uniforms-priests in couples, and burly friars-brokendown soldiers and buffoons, and washerwomen and lazzaroni, all seem equally to regard carriage exercise as a thing essential to existence."

While Mr. Geale reached Naples by sea, Mr. Whiteside sought it by land, travelling, of course, as far as Capua in the footsteps of Horace. Everybody has read Horace, and knows what pleasant days and nights he made of it to Brundusium. We, therefore, can scarcely pardon the introduction of the whole tour at this time of day, neither do we feel surprise or gratifi. cation at the novel intelligence, that Velletri, Foro-Appio and Fondi were the ancient Velletræ, Forum Appii, and Fundi. or that Saint Paul stopped at "the Three Taverns."

The first impression which one receives of Naples and its motley people, is such as Mr. Geale describes it; passing the charming isles of Procida and Ischia, the bay, one of the loveliest on earth, is entered ; Miseno, Pozzuoli, and Posilipo are successively passed, “the country-houses gleaming from amidst orange groves and vineyards :"

“Naples itself, in all its glory, burst upon our view. in the clear light of an autumnal morning, its churches and palaces reflecting the rays of the sun, and the deep azure of the skies of the blessed Campania.' Not a cloud was to be seen, save those which rested on the summit of Vesuvius ; and, turning for a moment from the gay and lovely city, our regards became fixed on that black mountain, so deeply and fearfully associated with the history of this land and its inhabitants, the only dark and threatening feature in the smiling and lovely scene before us. . . . . . . " I thought London noisy, but com pared with Naples, it is tranquillity itself. In London, the population pour themselves along the great thoroughfares in a steady and continuous stream, and at regular periods-eastward, or

city-ways,' in the morning, and westward in the afternoon; and all wear the same occupied and business look ; but the vast and motley crowds of Naples whirl about in groups like eddies, or collect in crowds brought together by the mere exigencies of their animal and vagabond existence. Here we come upon a mob collected round a showman, screaming and gesticulating with delight--yonder is a crowd listening to some crack-brained and half-starved poet, who is reading from a dirty manu. script his verses. A little further on, we come upon a group of fishermen, • i pescatori di Napoli,' who, with loud cries, are launching their boats, or bauling them in, while their wives are occupied selling their scaly prey, and

VOL, XXXII.-NO, cxc.

At Naples we have Mr. Whiteside at his old occupation, investigating the laws, and the mode of their administration. All that is rational in the scheme of criminal law, dates from 1819. The preliminary proceedings, preparatory to the public trial, though by no means comparable to those of Tuscany, are infinitely superior to the barbarous provisions of the papal Gregorian code, to which we have already alluded. The trial is public, as far as being accessible to the accused, his friends and advisers—the prisoner may select his advocate, or will have one assigned him. The prosecutor and prisoner exchange lists of their respective witnesses, who are fully described ; the evidence of parents and children, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, paid informers, or defenders of the accused, who have, in that capacity, gained the knowledge of the facts, is excluded absolutely ; witnesses under fourteen are not sworn; nor is the prisoner, though interrogated, bound to answer—the public prosecutor has the final reply, and then the judges deliberate on the facts and the law in private. Each party has an appeal to the Supreme Court, giving notice within three days. The punishments are not severe, except for offences

2 F

during the discussion of which sentiments were uttered (in spite of repeated attempts to silence the speakers), that abundantly shewed the liberal tendencies of the public mind of Italy."

against the church, which, as is usual in Roman Catholic countries, are dictated by a spirit of bigotry and intolerance, and deliberate murders and treason are alone punished capitally. It is to be regretted that the benefit of public trial is not accorded to any political offender. IIis trial is secret, and publication of the procedure is not permitted, and what becomes of the party is often unknown. The administration of civil justice in Naples is in a wretched condition—there seems to be no public opinion to bear upon the political de. cisions, which are capricious, and often corrupt. An illustration is furnished by an advocate to Mr. Whiteside :

Similar testimony is borne by Mr. Whiteside. We are inclined, notwithstanding, to believe that as yet the principles of free trade, as understood and now recognised in England, have made but small progress in Italy. Indeed the diffusion of economical science, or of any views which do not suit their rules, is still too rigorously restrained by the censorship of the press.

Mr. Whiteside had many opportuni. ties of seeing the present pontiff, both in private and public, and of forming an estimate of his character as an indi. vidual and a sovereign--a temporal prince and a priest. He has given us a few sketches of Pio Nono:

“I had two will cases lately, which exemplify this uncertainty. Having in the first instance to maintain the formal execution of a will, I failed, and an honest man's will was set aside on a trifling protest ; in one week after I bad a will to attach on the same identical grounds, and failed again. Reminding the judges of their own decision on the former case, they answered me by observing, “ They were older and wiser men that week than they were the week before."

"* Why did you not print the two decisions in juxta-position?' I asked.

". Because we cannot here print a law case in the civil courts without the leave of the Minister of Justice, and he will not grant leave when the judges de sire him to refuse it; thus you see what a system ours is.'”

Both our tourists had the good fortune to be present at the eighth congress of the Italian Scienzati somewhat similar to our Bristol Association), which met at Genoa, in September, 1846. If we may judge from the proceedings of this body, and the tone and sentiments of the orators, we may hope better things for Italy, and believe that the spirit of nationality, and the love of free institutions, are yet too strong in their hearts to be repressed or extinguished. In the appropriate sections, every subject of arts, science, and statistics, were debated with ability and boldness :

“His manner is frank, and even simple. There is not the slightest tincture of pride or stateliness in his deportment; Pius IX., addressing his fellow-men, utters, like a man of sense, what he really at the moment thinks and feels. . . . . . . . . He is not what some would call dignified; he appeared as if royalty sat awkwardly upon him; in appearance very unlike the portraits of Pius VI. The countenance, stout figure, and whole bearing of Pius IX. denote plain, vigorous seuse, resolution, and manliness of character, and true benevolence, more than refined or polished taste, lofty dignity, royal pride, or grandeur of thought. Strip him of his robes of state, he never would be mistaken for a subtle Jesuit or crafty priest, but would pass all the world over for a sagacious, clear-headed, English country gentleman. . . . . . . . His true political character appears to have been that of a benevolent sovereign, who wished to govern honestly, but absolutely ; to execute useful administrative reforms, but retain all legislative authority in his single person ; to soothe the laymen, but confine the honours and emoluments of the state to his orderthe priesthood; to permit a liberty of discussion, saving from its influence all corrupt institutions and the despotic character of the government ; to preserve without alteration all the obnoxious privileges of the sacred college, and the unlimited power of the popedom. Such do I believe to have be character of Pope Pius in things political. . . . . . . . With respect to the ecclesiastical character of Pius IX., he proved himself to be every inch

“ One of the most interesting and appropriate ceremonies of the week,” says Mr. Geale, “was the auspicious inaugu. ration of the statue of Columbus; and, while attending one of the sections of the University, I heard a resolution brought forward in favour of free trade,

a Pope. To all the prerogatives of the infallible head of the Church he laid claim ; to all the doctrines of the Church he rigidly subscribed ; its ceremonies he scrupulously performed."

Of the abilities of Pius IX. as a politician, and the principles which guided him in the important reforms which, from the commencement of his pontificate, have taken place in Rome, very conflicting opinions are entertained. Many concur with our author in the belief, that he was a reformer more from the force of circumstances, than from a genuine love of liberal institutions and a free people, so utterly at variance with all the policy and instincts of the head of a priestly oligarchy.

progress, in securing political liberty can be achieved in the papal states while this anomaly continues. It is impossible to make the liberal institutions, which the enlightenment of the age demands and the advancement in political science which the free nations of Europe have attained to, harmonise or consist with a system, whose very foundation-stone is absolutism, which can admit of no modific cation, because it pretends to infallibility. Pius IX. has tried it, but how has he succeeded? So far as popu. lar liberty has been won or yielded, it is an encroachment on the vital principle of the Papacy. To stand still seems now impossible-progress is inevitable. Either the people will press their victory, or the priest will reassume his enslaving sway. The latter is hard to accomplish-let us hope for the former :

“He was shouted,” says Mr. Whiteside, “into popularity, without meaning to be the assertor of liberty. The bitter opposition he met with from some cardinals--his critical position—the circumstances of the times—the loud de. mands of his people--forced him onward in a track, glorious, I admit, but which I do not believe he meant originally to pursue. The good Pope forgot, when his oppressed subjects tasted the sweets of partial freedom that they never would be content with less than the entire blessing, and that the acquisition of a little liberty the better enabled them to secure the whole."

We believe ourselves that Pius is a man of excellent intentions, though we do not think him vain or weak, as some assert ; but his intentions can never get fair play, even from himself. The system, of which he is at the head, is anomalous and contrariant. Two antagonistic principles are at work within it-the temporal and the spiritual. The priest is ever thwart. ing the prince. The social happiness of the people over whom he is placed admonish him that liberty of action, toleration of thought, free institutions, and a voice in the legislation, are the birth-right of men, and as needful to their welfare as the air of heaven is to their bodily health ; but the infallible head of an all-exacting church sanctions no freedom, tolerates no schisms, admits the rights of none, who are not in. vested with that infallibility, to share in its counsels. So it has ever been, so it will ever be, till this union-not of God but of man-is rent asunder once and for ever. No real permanent

“Nofuture Pope,” reflects Mr. Whiteside, “dare retrograde; if the rash attempt to undo what has been done were made, the Pope and the Papacy would perish together.

“The elections have been held; deputies have been chosen; the parliament has met, and already stormy discussions have taken place.

" The Jesuits have been expelled ; and, I verily believe, had the Pope longer resisted the popular demand for a declaration of a war against Austria, he would have been expelled also.

“ What the future condition of the papacy may be, or what effect this free constitution may produce on the spiritual authority of the Pope, it is not easy to prophesy. Some maintain the spi. ritual power will be greater, and more respected and obeyed, when divested of the arbitrary temporal power with which it has been so long associated and defiled. Others insist, the spiritual and temporal authorities have been so long connected, that they cannot exist in full independent action, separate and apart. I incline to the latter opinion ; the habit of examining and criticising the Pope's acts, as a temporal ruler, will lead to the like practice in reference to his acts as a spiritual ruler; and reason may be applied to the consideration of his conduct in botb capacities alike. Moreover, how is the Pope to enforce his spiritual edicts ? Will the laity of Rome longer submit to be imprisoned if they do not attend confession? Most unlikely; and if the ceremonies of the Church cannot be enforced, what becomes of their value in the eyes of the people? How long will

« PreviousContinue »