« PreviousContinue »
that we avail ourselves of the information it contains. We can neither extend our approbation to all the Author's sentiments, * nor give an unreserved and implicit belief to all his statements and anecdotes. Of the substantial correctness of his representations, we have, however, no reason to be sceptical; and it is with these only, not with either his motives or his opivions, that we have to do. The following paragraphs describe the general character of the modern Roman circles.
• The Romans call their evening societies conversazione. No term was ever more misapplied. The art of conversation, that delicate fruit of civilization, is totally unknown at Rome as well as at Naples. In the conversazione, that which is least 'spoken of, that which they occupy themselves the least about, and which is ranked among the last details of life and social insignificance, is religion, • When they ask a stranger whether he have seen the principal objects of curiosity in the city, such as the statues, monuments, &c., the pope is always comprised in the enumeration: Avete veduto il campo Vaccino, il Museo, il Papa ? (Have you seen the Campo Vaccino, the Museum, the Pope?) They rank the holy father among the antiquities and the masterpieces of the fine arts, because they all contribute in drawing foreigners to Rome, the only people who cause a little money to circulate, and give some activity to the spiritless industry of the inhabitants : for this reason they lamented the rape of the pope, as they did the rape of the Apollo di Belvedere and the Laocoon; and they saw him re-enter the gates of the city, with the same transports of joy with which they greeted the return of the Laocoon and Apollo.
• The whole of the pontifical court,—all the priests who aspire to the prelacy,—all the prelates who are candidates for the red hat, those who season their flattery with the double unction of the throne and the altar, did not fail to assure his holy majesty, that the joy of his subjects was occasioned by a pure love for his person. Perhaps Pius VII gave credit to all this, because he found it much easier to believe in the love of his subjects than to merit it.
If they speak of the pope in this laconic style, in assimilating him to the objects which support commerce, what can they say of the cardinals ? Nothing during their lifetime : they occupy themselves with them only at their death, in running to see the pageantry of their funeral, which is celebrated with an extravagant pomp and all the pride of nothingness ; for at Rome, all is outward show; every
* It is but too evident, indeed, from a few ill-concealed sarcasms, to what school of Christians the Author belongs. At page 9, he speaks of the Jews refusing to become theophagi, i. e. refusing to believe in transubstantiation, as not less justly exposing them to maltreatment, than Christians' are made liable to an eternity of sufferings because our first parents were disobedient.
thing is done to amuse the eyes and ears. They will tell a traveller, he cannot leave Rome without seeing the carnival and the functions of the Passion Week, as though they considered them both as masquerades. It appears, in fact, that the object of the ultramontane religion, by the diversion which it affords, is to turn the soul aside from pious meditation, and attach it to the earth. Among all that immense population which assembles in the interior and exterior of the church of Saint Peter, there is not one sentiment of gratitude directed towards the Creator of the universe : all eyes are fixed upon the pope, and their thoughts do not rise higher than his triple
If you be desirous of knowing to what degree of insignificance the intellect of man may be reduced, you should see Rome when religion displays all its solemnities.' pp. 12, 13.
Among the most remarkable of these is that which is celebrated on Maunday Thursday, which is thus described.
• In a short time, a martial music announced the approach of his holiness.' He made his appearance mounted on a throne borne on men's shoulders, at the grand balcony of the front of the church. The music immediately ceased. The soldiers and populace knelt in the most profound silence. The sovereign pontiff then rose, and blessed the city and the universe three times.
• This benediction, which passes the narrow limits of ordinary benedictions ; the pontiff bending under the weight of three crowns and three quarters of a century, and suspended as it were between heaven and earth; those fountains spouting out their water with a uniform noise, in the midst of a still more uniform silence ; that Egyptian obelisk opposing its hieroglyphical characters to the mysteries of the Catholic religion; all served to excite my astonishment, and rouse my sensibility. But if the pope had been young instead of being old, the illusion would have been destroyed. A moment after the benediction, the pope retired ; the crowd pressed towards the Clementina chapel, to be present at washing the apostles' feet. They who performed this part were dressed in a cassock of coarse white Aannel, with a cap of the same materials; they were placed on a bench elevated on a sort of stage. I knew the pastor of the church belonging to the Lucchese, who represented the apostle St. Peter. He is an excellent man, of great rectitude of conduct, and incapable of denying his friends. He made me a sign to approach him. The crowd, perceiving that St. Peter the apostle wished to speak to me, made way immediately.
On a sudden, every eye was directed towards the pope, who entered by a secret door, and placed himself upon his throne. Behind him was a very rich piece of tapestry representing two lions, supporting the pontifical arms with their paws. The painter has made a mistake, said I to myself; lambs would have been more suitable to a religion which is all meekness. Lions are emblematical of despotism and violence; the popish religion knows no other despotism than that of persuasion : the lion spreads murder and carnage around him to satisfy his appetite, but the Romish church, as every one knows, has always had a horror for shedding blood. I was still endeavouring to find out the allegorical sense of this tapestry, when the holy father, dressed in a simple white tunic, advanced toward the apostles, threw a little water on their right foot, wiped it, and kissed it. What is meant by this pretence of adding to the act of humility performed by Jesus, who was content with washing the two feet of his disciples, without kissing them? Overdoing a part is not good acting.
• The holy ablution was scarcely finished, when I was carried away by the throng toward the Paulina chapel, where the last supper is cele brated. I was squeezed as though I had been in a vice. In looking around me, I observed that the torrent which bore me along was composed principally of English men and women. The latter were of a livid paleness in consequence of the extreme pressure : they could not have supported it, if the sentiment of curiosity had not given them strength. The immoderate fondness which these English heretics have for the ceremonies of a religion that damns them without an appeal, is very extraordinary. At length, amid the groans of the British fair, who were squeczed nearly flat by the crowd, I contrived to get close to the table, where the apostles, without allowing themselves to be disconcerted by the spectators, ate and drank vigorously. The holy father, aided by his chamberlain, presented wine and some of the dishes to his guests. lle was in continual exercise, although he did not partake of the banquet. But Jesus Christ, the cvening before his death, ate and drank with his disciples. Thus, in the ceremony of washing the feet, and in this, the vicar at one time exceeds, and at another does not fully conform to the example given him by his Divine Master.
• When the apostles were satiated, they retired, carrying with them the remains of the repast, the napkin wbich bad wiped their feet, their dress of wbite flannel, and two medals to commemorate the event, one of silver, the other of gold. Formerly they were allowed to put the silver goblet into their pocket, but the pope thought it was too great an imitation of Lucullus, of profane memory: these goblets, therefore, are now left on the table, to the great displeasure of the apostles. The good pastor of the Lucchese church sighed heavily in speaking to me about the goblet.
• If, to use the expression of Henry IV. of France, my eyes had thirsted to see a king, they might have satiated themselves upon the late king of Naples during the last supper. I was opposite to him nearly an hour. He was nearly six feet in height: his large oblong head appeared 10 bave settled itself, from its great weight, in between his shoulders: a large quantity of gray hair, quite straight, hung dangling about his peaked forehead and over his face, which ...... But why should I finish this portrait? Is it possible for a king to be ugly?
• Devotion became his physiognomy very well. He was mumbling some prayers between his reeth. What they were I know not; but without question the bappiness of his people was the object of them. It was said, that he remained at Rome to perform various devotional exercises, but more particularly to be absolved by the pope from his Vol. XXVII. N.S.
late oaths of fidelity to the constitution-oaths which he had taken on the Gospel.'
• I was really disposed to admire every thing that concerns the religion of Rome; nevertheless I was compelled to acknowledge, that the Sestina Chapel offered a very profane spectacle on Good Friday ;a multitude of eunuchs singing an effeminate and sensual music, in presence of the great picture of Michael Angelo, representing the Day of Judgement, and the eternal torments reserved for a single thought of the nature of those which this singing so eloquently expressed ; a crowd of Roman, English, and French ladies, elegantly dressed, their bosoms throbbing with delight at this enchanting harmony, while from time to time they cast a pensive glance at these animated instruments ; black, white, and piebald monks conversing together, playing with their girdles, their eyes betokening wantonness, and their thoughts certainly not occupied with the great mystery of the redemption. I left the Šestina chapel, far from edified by the ceremony; and sighing at the recollection of this scandalous exhibition, I went to the Palatine mount, and, among the ruins of the palace of the Cæsars, I meditated on the perpetuity of the Popish religion.'
• It is in vain, that the holy father surrounds himself with a grand ceremonial pomp, which formerly fascinated the eye and confounded the understanding ; his subjects now pay no attention to it, except to calculate what all this pageantry costs them. In vain this pontiff envelops himself with a mantle glittering with gold and precious stones ; the imagination strips him of it. I have been surprised at the lukewarmness, and almost indifference, shown by the greater part of the Romans of the present day for the solemnities of the church. I lodge at the house of two old female devotees, who have no other society than a dozen of monks : notwithstanding this, they were not present at the ceremonies of the Passion Week. They told me they had seen enough of ceremonies. The trans-tiberine populace and foreigners alone compose the crowd who run to see the religious functions as to a worldly spectacle. I acknowledge, that the popish worship could not exist without ceremonies to captivate the sight; but the after having seen every thing, will be satiated, and become disdainful. I have known a goatherd, dressed in skins from head to foot, exclaim, 'at the sight of the famous illuminated cross suspended in St. Peter's, It is not equal to the setting sun! and fancied I heard the sentence of annihilation of all this artificial display called holy pomp. The sacristies of Rome will very soon be obliged to melt all their plate, if the people continue to make similar comparisons, and jest instead of adoring. Yesterday, the pope having given his benediction urbi et orbi from the balcony of St. Peter's, some papers containing indulgencies were thrown down among the people. The rabble, who formerly struggled with each other to procure these indulgencies, cried out with indifference, It would be better to give us tickets for bread from the baker! Can any one doubt of an imminent revolution in the Papal States, when, in the centre even of this territory, eyes darkened by superstition and prejudice are seen raising themselves toward the light of truth? It is in vain, that the government redoubles its
efforts to teach its vassals ignorance and passive obedience; they begin to find it ridiculous, that a man should command their reason to smother itself; they have observed that animals of prey
alone are partisans of darkness.'
• How can it be accounted for, that, in the city which is not the most tolerant in the world, where certificates of communion are exacted from the inhabitants, there exists the most unlimited tole. rance for foreigners, even with respect to all the ceremonies that take place in the open air? It is not at Rome, that the law will attack those who do not ornament their windows on the festival of Corpus Christi; it is not at Rome, that a cross-bearer will oblige you to take off your hat in passing him : they suppose you have your reasons for not uncovering your head, or, what is more probable, they do not pay attention to it. You may be surrounded with processions of all sorts, in the midst of a swarm of monks of all colours, without being obliged to notice them. The noisy retinue of the pope always gives notice of his passage through the streets of Rome ; but the consecrated wafer, which contains the real presence, often passes incognito. Alas! do not their motives for this conduct proceed from a calculation of gain? Convinced of the advantage of having foreigners among them, they affect not to see their indifference toward the religious usages of the country, because their concourse supplies the absence of industry.'
The Rev. Mr. Lingard lias lately put forth a pamphlet, in which he endeavours to exculpate the French monarch from having authorized the massacre of St. Bartholomew. Will the Court of Rome thank him for this? In the Sistine chapel, there are three large pictures in commemoration of the principal scenes of that horrible drama.
The first picture represents Coligny, wounded by the arquebuse of the assassin Moreval, and carried into his house : on it is written, Gaspar Colignius amirollius accepto vulnere domum refertur. Greg. XIII., Pont. Max. 1572. In the second picture, the admiral is massacred in his palace, with Teligny his son-in-law, and some others; on it are these words: Codes Colignii et sociorum ejus. In the third, the king of France is informed of the murder of Coligny, and testifies his satisfaction at it; Rex Colignii necem probat. A groupe of assassins are seen carrying the unfortunate Coligny in triumph; their ferocious looks appear to reproach death with having released the admiral too soon from his torments. At a little distance, other bired assassins are seen, with a cross in one hand and a poniard in the other, rushing on women and children, who are begging for mercy in vain; further on, in the back ground, a number of assassins are discovered mounting on a heap of dead bodies, to scale the houses of those they want to murder.—When the court of Rome shall be summoned before the tribunal of justice and humanity, as author, for at least as accomplice of this enormous crime, these pictures will appear a3 rrible accusing witnesses. They will say, We have