Imatges de pÓgina
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ows close around him as he passes along; humoristic and satirical. Many a woman salutations greet him from the damp on the cold side of thirty is wheedled out shops; and darkness at last swallows up of a baiocco by being addressed as Sifor a time the great square torso of the gnorina. Many a half-suppressed exclaKing of the Beggars.”

mation of admiration, or a prefix of BelBegging, in Rome, is as much a profes- la, softens the hearts of those to whom sion as praying and shop-keeping. Hap- compliments on their beauty come rarely. py is he who is born stroppiato, with a The other day, as I came out of the city withered limb, or to whom Fortune sends gate of Siena, a ragged wretch, sitting, the present of a hideous accident or with one stump of a leg thrust obtrusively malady; it is a stock to set up trade forward, in the dust of the road, called out, upon. St. Vitus's dance is worth its hun- Una buona passeggiata, Signorino mio!" dreds of scudi annually; epileptic fits are (and this although my little girl, of thiralso a prize; and a distorted leg and teen years, accompanied me.) Seeing, hare-lip have a considerable market val- however, that I was too old a bird for that

Thenceforth the creature who has chaff, he immediately added, “ Ma prithe luck to have them is absolved from ma pensi alla conserrazione dell'anima labor. He stands or lies in the sun, or

A great many baiocchi are also wanders through the Piazza, and sings caught, from green travellers of the midhis whining, lamentable strophe of, “ Si- dle class, by the titles which are lavishly gnore, povero stroppiato, datemi qualche squandered by these poor fellows. Illuscosa per amor di Dio ! ”—and when the trissimo, Eccellenza, Altezza, will somebaiocco falls into his bat, like ripe fruit times open the

purse, when plain " Mosfrom the tree of the stranger, he chants shoe” will not. the antistrophe, “ Dio la benedica, la Ma- The profession of a beggar is by no donna e tutti santi !* No refusal but means an unprofitable one. one does he recognize as final,- and that many drops finally make a stream. The is given, not by word of mouth, but by cost of living is almost nothing to them, elevating the fore-finger of the right hand, and they frequently lay up money enough and slowly wagging it to and fro. When to make themselves very comfortable in this finger goes up he resigns all hope, as their old age. A Roman friend of mine, those who

pass the gate of the Inferno, re- Conte C., speaking of them one day, told places his hat and lapses into silence, or me this illustratiye anecdote:turns away to some new group

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sunny- “I had occasion,” he said, “a few years haired foreigners. The recipe to avoid ago, to reduce my family," (the servants beggars is, to be black-haired, to wear a are called, in Rome, the family,) " and full beard, to smoke in the streets, speak having no need of the services of one only Italian, and shake the fore-finger of under-servant, named Pietro, I dismissed the right hand when besieged for charity. him. About a year after, as I was reLet it not be supposed from this that the turning to my house, after nightfall, I was Romans give nothing to the beggars, but solicited by a beggar, who whiningly askpass them by on the other side. This is

ed me for charity. There was something quite a mistake. On the contrary, they in the voice which struck me as familiar, give more than the foreigners; and the and, turning round to examine the man poorest class, out of their little, will al- more closely, I found it was my old serways find something to drop into their vant, Pietro. • Is that you, Pietro?' I hats for charity.

said; you begging here in the streets ! The ingenuity which the beggars some- what has brought you to this wretched times display in asking for alıns is often trade ?' He gave me, however, no very

* Signore, a poor cripple; give me some- *“A pleasant walk, young gentleman!” thing, for the love of God!”_" May God bless _“But first pay heed to the salvation of your you, the Madonna, and all the saints !"

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clear account of himself, but evidently de- of withered arm, distorted leg, and unsired to avoid me when he recognized who sightly stump. They glare at you out of I was. But, shocked to find him in so pit- horrible eyes, that look like cranberries. iable a condition, I pressed my questions, You are requested to look at horrors, all and finally told him could not bear to without a name, and too terrible to be see any one who had been in my service seen. All their accomplishments are also reduced to beggary; and though I had brought out. They fall into improvised no actual need of his services, yet, rather fits; they shake with sudden palsies; and than see him thus, he might return to his all the while keep up a chorus, half whine, old position as servant in my house, and half scream, which suffers you to listen be paid the same wages as he had before. to nothing else. It is hopeless to atHe hesitated, was much embarrassed, and, tempt to buy them all off, for they are after a pause, said, — A thousand thanks, legion in number, and to pay one doubles your Excellency, for your kindness; but the chorus of the others. The clever I cannot accept your proposal, because, scamps, too, show the utmost skill in seto tell you the truth, I make more money lecting their places of attack. Wherever by this trade of begging.'”

there is a sudden rise in the road, or any But though the beggars often lay by obstacle which will reduce the gait of considerable sums of money, so that they the horses to a walk, there is sure to might, if they chose, live with a certain be a beggar. But do not imagine that degree of comfort, yet they cannot leave he relies on his own powers of scream off the habit of begging after having in- and hideousness alone,- not he! He dulged it for many years. They get to has a friend, an ambassador, to recombe avaricious, and cannot bring their mend him to your notice, and to expaminds to spend the money they have. tiate on his misfortunes. Thongh he himnThe other day, an old beggar, who used self can scarcely move, his friend, who is to frequent the steps of the Gesù, when often a little ragged boy or girl, light of about to die, ordered the hem of her gar weight and made for a chase, pursues the ment to be ripped up, saying that there carriage and prolongs the whine, repeatwas money in it. In fact, about a thou- ing, with a mechanical iteration, “ Sisand scudi were found there, three hun- gnore! Signore! datemi qualche cosa, Sidred of which she ordered to be laid out gnore !” until his legs, breath, and resoupon her funeral, and the remainder to lution give out at last; or, what is still be appropriated to masses for her soul.

commoner, your patience is wearied out This was accordingly done, and her squal- or your sympathy touched, and you are id life ended in a pompous procession to glad to purchase the blessing of silence the grave.

for the small sum of a baiocco. When The great holidays of the beggars are his whining fails, he tries to amuse you; the country festas. Thronging out of .

and often resorts to the oddest freaks to the city, they spread along the highways, attract your notice. Sometimes the little and drag, drive, roll, shuffle, hobble, as rascal flings himself heels over head into they can, towards the festive little town. the dust, and executes somersets without Everywhere along the road they are to number, as if they had some hidden inbe met,- perched on a rock, seated on a fluence on the sentiment of compassion. bank, squatted beneath a wall or hedge, Then, running by the side of the carriage, and screaming, with outstretched hand, he will play upon his lips with both hands, from the moment a carriage comes in making a rattling noise, to excite your sight until it is utterly passed by. As curiosity. If you laugh, you are lost, and one approaches the town where the festa he knows it. is held, they grow thicker and thicker. As you reach the gates of the town, They crop up along the road like toad- the row becomes furious.

There are stools. They bold up every hideous kind scores of beggars on either side the road,

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screaming in chorus. No matter how far would now be permitted to be published. the town be from the city, there is not However, we know that Augustus prohiba wretched, maimed cripple of your ac- ited the “ Acta Diurna,”—and the “ Diaquaintance, not one of the old stumps who rio Romano” exists still; so that some have dodged you round a Roman corner, progress has been made. And it must not a ragged baron who has levied toll be confessed that Tuscany is scarcely in for passage through the public squares, advance of Rome in this respect; and a privileged robber who has shut up Naples is behind both. Even the infor you a pleasant street or waylaid you troduction of foreign works is so strictly at an interesting church, but he is sure watched and the censorship so severe, to be there. How they got there is as that few liberal books pass the cordon. inexplicable as how the apples got into The arguments in favor of a censorship the dumplings in Peter Pindar's poem. are very plain, but not very conclusive. But at the first ring of a festa-bell, The more compressed the energies and they start up from under ground, (those desires of a people, the more danger who are legless getting only half-way up,) of their bursting into revolution. There like Roderick Dhu's men, and level their is no safety-valve to passions and decrutches at you as the others did their sires like the utterance of them, - no arrows. An English lady, a short time better corrective to false ideas than the since, after wintering at Rome, went to free expression of them. Freedom of take the baths at Siena in the summer. thought can never be suppressed, and On going out for a walk, on the first ideas kept too long pent up in the bosom, morning after her arrival, whom should when heated by some sudden crisis of she meet but King Beppo, whom she had passion, will explode into license and fury. just left in Rome! He had come with Let me put a column from Milton here the rest of the nobility for recreation and into my own weak plaster; the words bathing, and of course had brought his are well known, but cannot be too well profession with him.

known. “ Though all the winds of docOwing to a great variety of causes, the trine,” he says, " were let loose to play number of beggars in Rome is very large. upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, They grow here as noxious weeds in a we do injuriously by licensing and prohot-bed. The government neither favors hibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let commerce nor stimulates industry. Its her and Falsehood grapple; who ever policy is averse to change of any kind, knew Truth put to the worse in a free even though it be for the development and open encounter ? Her confuting is of its own resources or of the energies the best and surest suppressing.” Here in of the people. The Church is Brahman- Rome genius rots. The saddest words ic, contemplating only its own navel. Its I almost ever heard were from a young influence is specially restrictive in Rome, Italian of ability and esprit. because it is also the State there. It re- “ Why,” said I, in conversation with strains not only trade, but education; it him, one day, “ do you not devote your conserves exploded ideas and usages; it talents to some worthy object, instead of prefers not to grow, and looks with ab- frittering them away in dancing, chatting, horrence upon change.

fencing, and morning-calls ? " Literature may be said to be dead in “ What would you have me do ?” he Rome. There is not only no free press

answered. there, but no press at all. The “ Diario “ Devote yourself to some course of Romano" contains about as much news study. Write something." as the “Acta Diurna” of the ancient Mio caro," was his reply, “it is useless. Romans, and perhaps less. I doubt wheth- How can I write what I think? How er at present such facts as those given by can I publish what I write ? I have now Petronius, in an extract from the latter, manuscript works begun in my desk, which it would be better to burn. Our a still lower rate, until the poor wretchonly way to be happy is to be idle and ig- es are reduced to the very minimum of norant. The more we know, the unhap- necessary food as to quantity and qualpier we must be. There is but one av- ity, I confess that I cannot look with enue for ambition, — the Church. I was pleasure on the noble viaduct at L'Arnot made for that."

riccia, or the rich column to the ImmacuThis restrictive policy of the Church late Virgin, erected by the labor of their makes itself felt everywhere, high and hands. low; and by long habit the people have Within a few years the government become indolent and supine. The splen- seemed to become conscious of the great did robes of ecclesiastical Rome have a number of beggars in Rome, and of the draggled fringe of beggary and vice. reproach they offered to the wise and paWhat a change there might be, if the ternal regulations of the priestcraft. Acenergies of the Italians, instead of rotting cordingly, for a short time, they carried in idleness, could have a free scope! In- on a move in the right direction, which dustry is the only purification of a na- had been begun by the Triumvirate of tion ; and as the fertile and luxuriant 1849, during their short career. Some Campagna stagnates into malaria, because hundreds of the beggars were hired at of its want of ventilation and movement, the rate of a few baiocchi a day to carry so does this grand and noble people. The on excavations in the Forum and in the government makes what use it can, how- Baths of Caracalla. The selection was ever, of the classes it exploits by its sys- most appropriate. Only the old, decreptem; but things go in a vicious circle. it, and broken-down were taken,—the The people, kept at a stand-still, become younger and sturdier were left. Ruinidle and poor ; idleness and poverty en- ed men were in harmony with the ruingender vice and crime ; crime fills the ed temples. Such a set of laborers was prisons; and the prisons afford a body of never before seen. Falstaff's ragged cheap slaves to the government.

regiment was a joke to them. Each had To-day, as I am writing, some hundreds a wheelbarrow, a spade, or pick, and a of forçats, in their striped brown uniforms, cloak; but the last was the most imporare tugging at their winches and ropes to tant part of their equipment. Some of drag the column of the Immaculate Vir- them picked at the earth with a gravity gin to its pedestal on the Piazza di Spag- that was equalled only by the feebleness na. By the same system of compulsory of the effort and the poverty of the result. labor, the government, despite its limited Three strokes so wearied them that they financial resources, is enabled to carry were forced to pause and gather strength, out public projects which, with well-paid while others carried away the ant-hills workmen, would be too expensive to be which the first dug up. It seemed an feasible. In this manner, for instance, endless task to fill the wheelbarrows. for an incredibly small sum, was built Fill, did I say? They were never filled. the magnificent viaduct which

with After a bucketful of earth had been its triple tier of arches the beautiful Val slowly shovelled in, the laborer paused, di L'Arriccia. But, for my own part, laid down his spade carefully on the little I cannot look upon this system as being heap, sighed profoundly, looked as if to other than very bad, in every respect. receive congratulations on his enormous And when, examining into the prisons success, then, flinging, with a grand sweep, themselves, I find that the support of the tattered old cloak over his left shoulthese poor criminal slaves is farmed out der, lifted his wheelbarrow-shafts with by the government to some responsible dignity, and marched slowly and measperson at the lowest rate that is offered, uredly forward towards the heap of degenerally for five or six baiocchi apiece posit, as Belisarius might have moved at per diem, and often refarmed by him at a funeral in the intervals of asking for oboli. But reduced gentlemen, who have of the crumbs that fall from the rich men's been accustomed to carry round the hat tables. In the summer season they reas an occupation, always have a certain turn to their homes with their earnings, air of condescension when they work for and not one in five of those who haunted pay, and, by their dignity of deportment, the churches and streets in the winter is make you sensible of their former supe- to be seen. rior state. Occasionally, in case a fo- It is but justice to the Roman govrestiere was near, the older, idler, and ernment to say that its charities are very more gentlemanlike profession would be large. If, on the one hand, it does not resumed for a moment, (as by parenthe- encourage commerce and industry, on sis,) and if without success, a sadder digni- the other, it liberally provides for the ty would be seen in the subsequent march. poor. In proportion to its means, no govVery properly for persons who had been ernment does more, if so much. Every reduced froin beggary to work, they seem- church has its Cassa dei Poveri. Numered to be anxious both for their health and ous societies, such as the Sacconi, and their appearance in public, and accord- other confraternities, employ themselves ingly a vast deal more time was spent in in accumulating contributions for the rethe arrangement of the cloak than in lief of the poor and wretched. Well-enany other part of the business. It was dowed hospitals exist for the care of the grand in effect, to see these figures, in- sick and unfortunate; and there are varicumbered in their heavy draperies, guid- ous establishments for the charge and ed. ing their wheelbarrows through the great ucation of poor orphans. A few figures arches of Caracalla's Baths or along the will show how ample are these charities. Via Sacra. It often reminded me of The revenue of these institutions is no modern bassi-rilievi and portrait statues, less than eight hundred and forty thouin which gentlemen looking sideways sand scudi annually, of which three hunwith very modern faces, and both hands dred thousand are contributed by the Pafull of swords, pens, or books, stand im- pal treasury, forty thousand of which are potently swaddled up in ancient togas a tax upon the Lottery. The hospitals, or the folds of similar enormous cloaks. altogether, accommodate about four thouThe antique treatment with the modern sand patients, the average number annusubject was evident in both. If some- ally received amounting to about twelve times, with a foolish spirit of innovation, thousand; and the foundling hospitals one felt inclined to ask what

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in alone are capable of receiving upwards either case these heroic mantles subserv- of three thousand children annually. Beed, and whether, in fact, they could not sides the hospitals for the sick, there is be dispensed with to advantage, he was also a hospital for poor convalescents at soon made to know that his inquiry Sta Trinità dei Pellegrini, a lunatic asyindicated ignorance, and a desire to de- lum containing about four hundred pabase in the one case Man, in the other tients, one for incurables at San GiaArt.

como, a lying-in hospital at San Rocco, It would, however, be a grievous mis- and a hospital of education and industry take to suppose that all the beggars in the at San Michele. There are also thirstreets of Rome are Romans. In point teen societies for bestowing dowries on of fact, the greater number are strangers, poor young girls on their marriage ; and who congregate in Rome during the win- from the public purse, for the same object, ter from every quarter. Naples and Tus- are expended every year no less than cany send them by thousands. Every thirty-two thousand scudi. In addition to little country town of the Abruzzi Moun- these charities, are the sums collected and tains yields its contribution. From north, administered by the various confraternisouth, east, and west they flock here as to ties, as well as the sum of one hundred a centre where good pickings may be had and seventy-two thousand scudi distribut

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