What do you see in the streets of Rome? Priests and soldiers. The uniforms of Rome are so numerous and so variegated that the Corso on a pleasant evening looks like a poppy field or a bed of hyacinths in full bloom.|
How many distinct military uniforms do you think I have counted? Fifteen. First and most frequent is the Zouave in gray, with bright red galloons along his pants, on the borders of his jacket and on his cap. He wears a wide red belt and white leggings. Many of these are Dutch, but they understand your German quite well. A Colonel's uniform is purple instead of gray, boots instead of leggings, and very large, fanciful braid-work in yellow on the sleeves of his jacket. The fusileers or common infantrymen wear blue, green feathers in their caps and yellow epaulets trimmed with green fringe, and are the smallest men in the Pope's army. There is scarcely a man of them whose chin does not rest conveniently on the muzzle of his musket at "parade rest." A good many of these are Swiss. I talked with one of them who was on guard in the Coliseum, and found he had the proverbial Swiss homesickness in an aggravated degree.
At any rate the Papal troops do not have a luxurious time of it. These infantry get five soldi (not quite five cents) a day, and rations consisting of soup, black bread and a piece of salt meat as large as one's hand. This is better pay than some German troops get--as, for instance, the Bavarians get only 4 2/3 cents a day, but better rations. Like most soldiers in Europe, those of the Pope are paid every few days, and, of course, not only send nothing home, but often have to send home for money...
The most picturesque uniform of all is that of the Swiss Guard in the Vatican, to wit: Zouave dress composed of numerous narrow stripes of black, yellow and red, and a tall helmet with white horse-tails. They carry long lances which are furnished with cross-blades, sharp and pointed at one end and crescent-shaped at the other. How about the propriety of the head of the Church arming so many of the defenders of the faith in a heathen (Zouave) uniform?
The pompieri (pumpers) or firemen are always on duty and are a body distinct from the gendarmes or police. They wear sky-blue pants, dark-blue jackets, a sword and a skull-cap with a curious brass plate of the same diameter as the cap, hanging half over on one side. The gendarmes are dressed like those of the Kingdom of Italy--light-blue pants, blue swallow-tail coat with abundance of silver braid, and a cocked hat with two points reaching far out on the sides. These are about the only Italians in the Pope's service.
An Italian soldier laces worse than a Fifth-avenue belle and, with his wide, flowing pants and pointed hat or huge bear-skin cap on parade presents a most singular, insect-like appearance.
My space and your patience would fail if I should attempt to describe the dress of the Legion of Antibes, the body-guard, the noble guard, the dragoons, the Swiss cuirassiers, the artillerists and the numerous officers, drummers and musicians that make up the rest.
As for the priests, what more is needed that the fact that in the Papal State there is one religious person (priests, monks, nuns, &c.) to every 33 inhabitants? The average for the whole of Italy is one for 174; for Austria, one for 498; Spain, one for 301. And yet the priests of Rome appear to be doing a good business, for they drive better turnouts than our American shoddies, which is unnecessary.
The inscription, "Indulgentia plesaria quotidiania perpetua pro vivis et mortius," that you see on nearly every church in Rome, is not without its fruits. Look at these salaries: The Archbishop of Tuscany, 28,000 scudi ($23,000) a year in specie, Bishop of Lorento, 3,500 a year; Pater Generalis of the "Shoeless Carmelites," 3,000 a year; Bishop of Sutri and Nepi, 3,000 a year, &c., &c. These are published in the Giornale di Roma and are authentic.
Do you know what I was tempted to do when a priest came to me yesterday in St. Peters and asked me to assist him in buying a new hat? I have thought more calmly of it since, and I would now give a pair of good silver scudi for the fellow's photograph as a model of impudence. And yet the infamously hypocritical organ of the Pope whines about the negligence of the Florence Parliament in providing measures to secure the priests reimbursement for the seizure of the monastaries. A touching solicitude!
Why, Rome to-day mints specie for all Italy. So much silver is sent to the Pope as "love gifts," that he actually strikes off more coin than Victor Emmanuel, and it flows out all over the Peninsula. You can scarcely find a silver coin in Rome older than 1866, and most of it is 1867. Poor Italy is three thousand millions in debt, and yet these sleek, fat priests are like the daughters of the horse-leech, that never have enough.
God speed ye, Garibaldi, in your war with the priests! The "Roman Question" is as simple in its elements as was the question between Hercules and the hydra. Every cowled head that is counted out counts in a day in the acceleration of Italy's salvation.
The New York Times, September 22, 1876, p.5:|
THE KINGDOM OF ITALY.THE COUNTRY AROUND ROME.
AMONG THE ALBAN HILLS--
PURE AIR AND BEAUTIFUL PROSPECTS--
GREAT CONTRAST BETWEEN TOWN AND COUNTRY--
THE BRIGANDAGE OF THE PAST--
COMMON LABORERS AND THEIR CONDITION--
CRIME IN ITALY--THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.
From Our Own Correspondent.
ALBANO, Monday, Sept. 4, 1876.
If any one ranging about among these Alban hills wishes to find a picturesque and very pleasant lookout, he will be sure to stumble upon it here. Albano is the most civilized and habitable of all the towns of the region, and comfortable hotels and lodging-houses offer to visitors in the Summer, or at any season, such accomodations as may be reasonably looked for at no greater distance than this from a considerable capital city.
Several of the Roman nobility have fine villas within, or in the neighborhood of, the town, and some of these houses are inhabited for the greater part of the year. The air is healthy, and the prospect over the Campagna is extremely beautiful. The vineyards cover the sides of the hills like a green mantle, and sweep quite down to the rusty masses of ruin which fence in the ancient settlement of the Romans.
This has always been a favorite resort of foreigners of romantic or artistic fancies; such as spend a good part of their lives straggling about the world in search of one or another kind of beauty, whether of nature or art, or historic associations. In the ancient time the beat of the great city's heart was felt as far off as this, and the whole intervening Campagna was probably but a vast suburb of Rome.
When we are told that Rome, in the acme of its prosperity and power, had a population of five or six millions, we are not to believe that anything like such numbers were ever lodged within its walls. Those walls in their utmost stretch are those at present still standing, and we are able to make a calculation of considerable exactness of the population which could be accommodated in one fashion or another within the area which they inclose. That population probably never much exceeded a million.
The present population of one-quarter that number needs and actually occupies with dwellings, churches, and structures of all sorts demanded by modern wants, one-third of the territory within the ancient limits. It was the vast suburbs of Rome, made up of cities, and villas, and villages, the traces of many of which are still found, which composed an enormous aggregate of population, exceeding that of the two greatest modern capitals combined. Within sight of Rome in one direction is the site of Sabii, and in another, what remains of the City of Veii, with Fidenæ and Antemnæ between them. Indeed, the whole Campagna is littered with ruins, which is sufficient proof to us of the expansion of the heart and seat of life of the Roman Empire at the moment of its extreme and utmost diastole.
One who has wandered through the stretch of country extending from Albano, Velletri, and Frosinone to Fondi and further south, knows of what class the population is principally composed. The contrast between the aspect of the interior of the towns and the rural regions is very great. It is a mountainous country, and the prospect far and wide in this season of luxuriant vegetation is one extremely pleasant for the eye to rest upon. The earth smiles with the promise of an abundant harvest of all sorts of products peculiar to the region, whether of corn, or the olive, or the fruit of the vine.
Most of the large proprietors live at a distance in the cities and more civilized centres of population. Thus but a small part of the revenue of the lands is expended in the neighboring towns. These generally have a look of untidiness, poverty, and neglect...
What the island of Sicily is at present, this portion of Italy was only a few years back. Even now one does not leave the railway to journey from town to town on the common road without a certain feeling of anxiety or disquiet. The thought of being suddenly snatched up and carried off to some mountain den, with a heavy ransom put upon your head, is not pleasant, except to those with an extreme love of adventure, or with fancies inflamed by a recent reading of the romances of Anne Radcliff. Society, if it is culpably neglectful of its duty to the less favored classes, creates the instrument of its own punishment.
From this part of Italy comes the hordes of agricultural and other common laborers, called ciociari, which stream through Rome and Naples in certain seasons in search of work. They wear a sort of moccasin, made of a single piece of leather tied to the bottom of the foot, with the cord interlaced about the leg in a half-classical but very rude fashion.
I have seen scores of these the present Summer, passing the night in peaceful, but very perilous slumber, upon the steps of the more out-of-the-way churches of Rome. All the apparel that each carries upon his person has not a market value exceeding two francs. Their compensation is infame, as the Italian phrase expresses it, and that to the last degree.
We see here enough of the bad effects of the neglect of the large proprietors to take a personal interest in the condition of their poor and nearly helpless work-people. The worst kind of absenteeism is practiced by the so-called Roman nobility, and particularly by those of the Pope's party. So far as we can learn, they keep aloof from every project or enterprise which has for its object to reform the state of hopeless vassalage of the agricultural laborers. Many of them are hid, one knows not where, following the example of the Pope, and washing their hands of all responsibility for the well-being of those who gather in their harvests, while their wealth has been created by the toil of several generations of such semi-serfs.
We have a published statement of the number of cases of crime committed in the whole Kingdom of Italy for the first six months of the present year. The figures are taken from the official record:
attempts to murder, not succeeded by death
number of persons wounded with the knife or some other instrument
extortions with violence and robbery
cases of common theft in cities
cases of common theft in country
The aggregate is 600 in excess of the number for the corresponding period of the past year.
The country, taken as a whole, still holds its own and the primacy in the habit of the use of the knife in the settlement of disputes. There is a great deal of tearful lamentation in newspapers and in public talk over the habit, but not the slightest mitigation is yet perceived.
The Government, under present direction, is accused by the Opposition of letting offenses go with a more easy hand, but time enough has not yet elapsed to prove the justice of any such charge.
The Ministerial newspaper cites certain facts to show that the Minghetti Ministry, in the two years of 1874 and 1875, obtained commutation of punishment, or the grace of the Crown, for no less a number than 170 condemned to imprisonment for life for various crimes committed in different parts of the Kingdom since the year 1854.
Capital punishment is now one of the penalites of crime in the whole of Italy, and the sentence of death is pronounced in extreme cases by tribunals, but we hever hear of the sentence being carried into practice. There is a sentimentalism upon the subject of legal executions, which could hardly be expected in a country where the taking of life by individual hand is so common as it is here.
For the rest there is enough yet to be done to correct the administration of justice in Italy, and there is great need of a reform in the courts of law. Now a few cases of venality have fallen under observation. It cannot be denied that great effort is made to raise the standard, but our final hope is in a better education for the whole population.