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state. But, notwithstanding this, two new cardinals were made a few days ago, and as the allowance from the state to each cardinal is about £1000. per annum, the Joseph Humes of Rome exclaim against what they are pleased to term, so useless an expenditure of the public money. The cardinals generally contrive to obtain some snug benefices in addition to their stipend, and are most of them bishops of some place either in or out of Italy; for their eminences are no haters of pluralities. To understand the whole plan of the clerical fabric would be a study in itself. Civil and ecclesiastical functions are so mixed together, that it is difficult to know, simply from the office he holds, whether a man is to be considered in or out of the church. The greater number of those who hold civil offices under the government are in deacon's orders, and many who hold the highest ecclesiastical posts are merely deacons. It is not necessary now for a man to be in priest's orders before he can be made a cardinal, any more than it was in the time of Leo the Tenth. One of those who have just received the red hat, was raised from the office of Governor of Rome (the chief magistrate of the city) to the dignity of cardinal; he went in state to the principal theatre the night before he was to receive the hat. This was the last time he would be allowed to appear at the opera, as their eminences are supposed to give up all such amusements. There are certain rules of state etiquette which the cardinals are bound to keep up; they must always be attended by a certain number of servants, and are not allowed to take any female along with them in their carriage, not even members of their own family. They honour balls and evening parties with their presence, but, like the rest of the clergy, they do not dance. They are escorted from their carriages by a number of servants with lighted torches, and are met at the top of the stairs by the master of the house. I have been a good deal amused, sometimes, at noticing the various grades of the clergy, as denoted by the colour of their stockings. An ordinary ecclesiastic wears black silk stockings ; a monsignore, or prelate, purple; and a cardinal, scarlet. The monsignori seem frequently to pique themselves on having their stockings of such a shade, as shall approach, as nearly as possible, to the scarlet, without entirely losing all tinge of purple.
There is considerable difficulty in collecting much information regarding the political feelings of the Romans. They are, in general, very guarded in their conversation on this subject; and it is believed, not without reason. If a man is known to express, with much freedom, opinions which are not in accordance with those of “the powers that be," he will receive a gentle hint to be on his guard, and should he not take the hint, he may possibly disappear, and be heard of no more, till some fortuitous circumstance, or some mighty change, shall “ reveal the secrets of the prison house.” Many, undoubtedly, would deny that any thing of this sort ever takes place now, or at least without the existence of some just cause, and urgent necessity. But let such persons deny, or explain, occurrences like these as they please, they are currently spoken of and believed; and are producing an influence on the public mind, which those who would fain conceal them are, perhaps, little aware of; or at least, the extent and probable consequences of which they are far from duly appreciating. A few days ago, I was told the following, by an English mercbant, who has been, for some time, a resident in Rome. An abbate, a clever, well-informed man, who was employed chiefly as a teacher of languages, and who was highly respected by his acquaintances, was known to entertain liberal opinions, and occasionally to express them freely in private society; but he by no means paraded them publicly. He was told to be on his guard, for an order was issued to arrest him, if he continued to make so free use of his tongue. His friends advised him to get out of the way; but neglecting their advice, he soon after disappeared. His friends have never since been able to gain any information respecting him; and believe that he is confined in the Castle of St. Angelo, or some other state dungeon. I do not think that any thing so bad as this often takes place; for there is so much apathy generally manifested on all subjects that do not immediately concern their own individual interests or amusements, that but few persons are disposed to render themselves obnoxious to any interference, on the part of the government, with the even tenor of their lives. There is, however, a class of persons who are restless and dissatisfied; but they are chiefly, if not entirely, to be found among the middle ranks. Groaning beneath a system of oppressive taxation, they feel that the government is devoid of any spirit of energy; that no effort, or even wish, is manifested to improve their condition; that their own energies are crippled on all sides, whether directed to mercantile or scientific pursuits. Their colleges, hospitals, lecture-rooms, philosophical apparatus, and books in common use, all denote that science is here nearly a century behind the rest of Europe. So small is the number of those who take any interest in scientific pursuits, that there is no prospect of any thing but loss and disappointment for those who may be disposed to devote their time and talents to such pursuits. The censorship of the press is so strictly enforced, that many even of the most important scientific foreign works have been placed in the Index Expurgatorius, and so prevented from obtaining circulation within the states. As an instance of the extent to which the censor ship is carried, I may mention, on the authority of a French book, seller, who is residing here, and is principally supported by the foreigners living for a short time in the city, that Pinel's celebrated work on mania, is among the forbidden books, together with many other strictly medical works. M. Merle, the bookseller above referred to, has attempted to establish a sort of Penny Magazine, the articles for which are taken almost entirely from the English, and other periodicals of a similar character; but there is scarcely a number, which is sent for the approval of the censor, that is not so curtailed and cancelled, that the expense and annoyance attendant on its publication, together with its limited sale, have almost made him despair of its success. The Index Expurgatorius has now attained to such a magnitude, that it is no longer published as a whole; the authorities merely announce, from time to time, that certain works are added to the Index. But, as is usually the case, what is forbidden, is anxiously sought after, and the few books that are most largely read, are generally those that are most strictly prohibited. Le Mie Prigioni of Silvio Pellico, detailing the bistory of his imprisonments in the Austrian dungeons for supposed political crimes; a work which has excited great interest through the Continent, was of course considered here a dangerous book, was quickly granted the honour of a place in the Index, and its introduction and circulation strictly guarded against. No book is more read by the Italians; and it may be readily purchased, either in the street, by calling some poor fellow on one side, who will bring out a copy or two from his pocket; or, by using a little caution, even from the booksellers, who will hand it down to you, from behind other books, on some top shelf.
Although, to the people generally, the causes which keep up the present state of things, are hidden in the utmost obscurity, and they merely feel that they are subject to some invisible evil power, against which it is in vain to struggle; that they are living beneath the baneful shade of some poisonous upas; yet many of the more reflecting, and better informed, are pretty well aware that the evil lies in the wretched system of government, all of whose measures are founded on the notion, that any thing is better than running the risk of losing any portion of that priestly domination which they at present possess. These are the persons who are most restless, and are anxiously looking for some grand change. But almost all the noblesse, if not conienied with the present state of things, shrink with horror from the bare thought of any general change in the political constitution; in short, they are said to be of “the liest possible principles.” They know, hy sad experience, that whoever might gain eventually by a revolution, they would be sure to be the losers at the onset. They have never recovered from the effects of the French revolution.
The lower orders, on the other hand, are enveloped by a cloud of the thickest ignorance, bigotry, and superstition; and still are contented, and I firmly believe happy, as far as happines is compatible with their state of blind ignorance. Poor they are indeed! But in a country where honses and clothes are rather luxuries than necessaries, and where a few haiocchi will procure them as much wine, fruit, lentils, and maccaroni, as they want, why should they cry “ heu mihi!” or sigh for change? They do not. At sun-set they say their “Ave Marias," and repeat at sun-rise their “ Pater Nosters;" and the monotonous bell which calls them to these duties, is not more monotonous than are their own lives. They have been taught by the venerable monk, who, now and then, may give them some paltry alms; by their father confessors, who absolve them from their weekly sins; nay, even by the priest from the pulpit, in a more elaborate manner, that those who cry for change are the sacrilegious and reprobate, who would fain destroy their holy church; that “un liberale,” (as they were actually told the other day, from the pulpit, in my hearing,) is synonymous with “un ladre!” Thus they are taught to associate with the desire for change and improvement, the breaking of crucifixes and images of the Virgin, and the eternal perdition of their souls. The peasantry about Rome are generally
bigotedly attached to the Pope and to their religion, yet his Holiness is said to be more unpopular in his own states than any where else. Not that he is personally disliked by his subjects; far from it: but he is associated, in some undefined way, with all the existing impediments to improvement. Yours truly, &c.
ARE THE LANDS OCCUPIED BY THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
THE PROPERTY OF ITS MEMBERS?
This question, so warmly agitated at this moment, was settled to the satisfaction of all thinking and impartial men nearly half a century ago, in the Vindiciæ Gallicæ, by Sir James Mackintosh, in answer to Mr. Burke's tirade against what he called the spoliation, the robbery, and the sacrilege of the French Revolution, in applying the property of the church to the necessities of the state. Apart from all the exciting events which gave rise to this discussion, I deem it reasonable to lay the abstract argument before your readers. That the property of the church is, in fact, the property of the state, will appear from the following considerations.
1. It has not been hitherto supposed that any class of public servants are proprietors. They are salaried* by the state for the performance of certain duties. Judges are paid for the distribution of justice; kings for execution of the laws; soldiers, where there is a mercenary army, for public defence; and priests, where there is an established religion, for public instruction. The mode of their payment is indifferent to the question. It is generally in rude ages by land, and in cultivated periods by money; but a territorial pension is no more property than a pecuniary one. The right of the state to regulate the salaries of those servants whom it pays in money has not been disputed; but if it has chosen to provide the revenue of a certain portion of land for the salary of another class of servants, wherefore is its right more disputable to resume that land, and to establish a new mode of payment? In the early history of Europe, before fiefs became hereditary, great landed estates were bestowed by the sovereign on condition of military service. By a similar tenure did the church hold its lands. No man can prove that, because the state has intrusted its ecclesiastical servants with a portion of land, as the source and security of their pensions, they are in any respect more the proprietors of it, than the other servants of the state are of that portion of the revenue from which they are paid.
II. The lands of the church possess not the most simple and indispensable requisites of property. They are not even pretended to be held for the benefit of those who enjoy them. This is the obvious criterion between private property and a pension for public service. The destination of the first is avowedly the comfort and happiness of
* “Ils sont ou salaries, ou mendians, ou voleurs.” They are either salaried, or beggars, or robbers—was the expression of M. Mirabeau respecting the priesthood.
the individual who enjoys it; as he is conceived to be the sole judge of this happiness, he possesses the most unlimited rights of enjoyment, alienation, and even abuse; but the lands of the church, destined for the support of public servants, exhibited none of the characters of property. They were inalienable, because it would have been not less absurd for the priesthood to have exercised such authority over these lands, than it would be for seamen to claim the property of a fleet which they manned, or soldiers that of a fortress they garrisoned.
III. It is confessed that no individual priest was a proprietor, and it is not denied that his utmost claim was limited to a possession for life of his stipend. If all the priests, taken individually, were not proprietors, the priesthood, as a body, cannot claim any such right. For what is a body, but an aggregate of individuals, and what new right can be conveyed by a mere change of name ? Nothing can so forcibly illustrate this argument as the case of other corporations. They are voluntary associations of men for their own benefit. Every member of them is an absolute sharer in their property, it is therefore alienated and inherited. Corporate property is here as sacred as individual, because in the ultimate analysis it is the same. But the priesthood is a corporation, endowed by the country, and destined for the benefit of other men. It is hence that the members have no separate, nor the body any collective, right of property. They are only entrusted with the administration of the lands from which their salaries are paid.*
IV. It is from this last circumstance that their legal semblance of property arises. In charters, bonds, and all other proceedings of law, they are treated with the same formalities as real property. “ They are identified,” says Mr. Burke, “ with the mass of private property ;” and it must be confessed, that if we are to limit our view to forms, this language is correct. But the repugnance of these formalities to legal truth proceeded from a very obvious cause. If estates are vested in the clergy, to them most unquestionably ought to be entrusted the protection of these estates in all contests at law, and actions for that purpose can only be maintained with facility, simplicity, and effect, by the fiction of their being proprietors. — Nor is this the only case in which the spirit and the forms of law are at variance respecting property. Scotland, where lands are still held by feudal tenures, will afford us a remarkable example. There, if we extend our views no further than legal forms, the superior is to be regarded as the proprietor, while the real proprietor appears to be only a tenant for life. Such is the language of the charter by which he obtains a legal right to his estate. In this case, the vassal is formally stripped of the property which he in fact enjoys. In the other, the church is formally invested with a property, to which in reality it had no claim. The argument of prescription will appear
* This admits a familiar illustration. If a landholder chooses to pay his steward for the collection of his rents, by permitting him to possess a farm gratis, is he conceived to have resigned his property in the farm ? The case is precisely similar.