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ed to the poor by the commission of subsidies. But though so much money is thus expended, it cannot be said that it is well administered. The proportion of deaths at the hospitals is very large; and among the foundlings, it amounted, between the years 1829 and 1833, to no less than seventy-two per cent.
The arrangements at these institutions were very much improved during the career of the Triumvirate, and, under the auspices of the Princess Belgiojoso, cleanliness, order, and system were introduced. The heroism of this noble-hearted woman during the trying days of the Roman siege deserves a better record than I can give. She gave her whole heart and body to the regeneration of the hospitals, and the personal care of the sick and wounded. Her head-quarters were at the Hospital dei Pellegrini. Day after day and night after night she was at her post, never moving from her chair, except to visit the various wards, and to comfort with tender, words the sufferers in their beds. Their faces, contorted with pain, smoothed at her approach; and her hand and voice carried consolation wherever she went. Many a scene have I witnessed there more affecting than any tragedy, in which I knew not which most to admire, the heroism of the sufferers or the tender humanity of the consoler and nurse. In all her arrangements she showed that masterly administrative faculty in which women are far superior to men. When she came to the Pellegrini, all was in disorder; but a few days sufficed to reduce a chaotic confusion to exact and admirable system. Hers was the brain that regulated all the hospitals. Always calm, she distributed her orders with perfect tact and precision, and with a determination of purpose and clearness of perception which commanded the minds of all about her. The care, fatigue, and labor which she underwent would have broken down a less determined spirit. Nothing moved except from her touch. In a little damp cell, a pallet of straw was laid on the brick floor, and there, when utterly overcome, she threw herself down to sleep for a couple
of hours, no more; all the rest of the time she sat at her desk, writing orders, giving directions, and supervising the new machinery which owed its existence to her. With the return of the Papal government came the old system. Certain it is that that system does not work well. Despite the enormous sums expended in charity, the people are poor, the mortality in the hospitals is very large. "Something is rotten in the state of" Rome.
There is one noble exception not to be forgotten. To the Hospital of San Michele Cardinal Tosti has given a new life and vigor, and set an example worthy of his elevated position in the Church. This foundation was formerly an asylum for poor children and infirm and aged persons; but of late years an industrial and educational system has been ingrafted upon it, until it has become one of the most enlarged and liberal institutions that can anywhere be found. It now embraces not only an asylum for the aged, a house of correction for juvenile offenders and women, and a house of industry for children of both sexes, but also a school of arts, in which music, painting, drawing, architecture, and sculpture are taught gratuitously to the poor, and a considerable number of looms, at which from eight hundred to one thousand persons are employed for the weaving of woollen fabrics for the government. A stimulus has thus been given to education and to industry, and particularly to improvements in machinery and manufacture. Once a year, during the holy week, religious dramas and operas, founded on some Biblical subject, are creditably performed by the pupils in a private theatre connected with the establishment. I was never present but at one of these representations, when the tragical story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was performed. Honor to Cardinal Tosti for his successful efforts in this liberal direction!
At many of the convents in Rome, it is the custom at noon to distribute, gratis, at the door, a quantity of soup, and any poor person may receive a bowlful on demand. Many of the beggars
thus become pensioners of the convents, and may be seen daily at the appointed hour gathering round the door with their bowl and wooden spoon, in expectation of the Frate with the soup. This is generally made so thick with cabbage that it might be called a cabbage-stew; but Soyer himself never made a dish more acceptable to the palate of the guests than this. No nightingales' tongues at a banquet of Tiberius, no edible birds-nests at a Chinese feast, were ever relished with more gusto. The figures and actions of these poor wretches, after they have obtained their soup, make one sigh for human nature. Each, grasping his portion as if it were a treasure, separates himself immediately from his brothers, flees selfishly to a corner, if he can find one empty, or, if not, goes to a distance, turns his back on his friends, and, glancing anxiously at intervals all around, as if in fear of a surprise, gobbles up his cabbage, wipes out his bowl, and then returns to companionship or disappears. The idea of sharing his portion with those who are portionless occurs to him only as the idea of a robber to the mind of a miser.
Any account of the beggars of Rome without mention of the Capuchins and Franciscans would be like performing the "Merchant of Venice" with no Shylock; for these orders are founded in beggary and supported by charity. The priests do not beg; but their ambassadors, the lay-brothers, clad in their long, brown serge, a cord around their waist, and a basket on their arm, may be seen shuffling along at any hour and in every street, in dirty sandalled feet, to levy contributions from shops and houses. Here they get a loaf of bread, there a pound of flour or rice, in one place fruit or cheese, in another a bit of meat, until their basket is filled. Sometimes money is given, but generally they are paid in articles of food. There is another set of these brothers who enter your studio or ring at your bell and present a little tin box with a slit in it, into which you are requested to drop any sum you please, for the holidays, for masses, for wax candles, etc. As a big
piece of copper makes more ring than gold, it is generally given, and always gratefully received. Sometimes they will enter into conversation, and are always pleased to have a little chat about the weather. They are very poor, very goodnatured, and very dirty. It is a pity they do not baptize themselves a little more with the material water of this world. But they seem to have a hydrophobia. Whatever the inside of the platter may be, the outside is far from clean. They walk by day and they sleep by night in the same old snuffy robe, which is not kept from contact with the skin by any luxury of linen, until it is worn out. Dirt and piety seem to them synonymous. Sometimes I have deemed, foolishly perhaps, but after the manner of my nation, that their goodness would not wash off with the soil of the skin,-that it was more than skin-deep; but as this matter is above reason, in better moods I have faith that it would. Still, in disbelieving moments, I cannot help applying to them Charles Lamb's famous speech,—“ If dirt were trumps, what a hand they would have of it!" Yet, beggars as they are, they have the reputation at Rome of being the most inoffensive of all the conventual orders, and are looked upon by the common people with kindliness, as being thoroughly sincere in their religious professions. They are, at least, consistent in many respects in their professions and practice. They really mortify the flesh by penance, fasting, and wretched fare, as well as by dirt. They do not proclaim the virtues and charms of poverty, while they roll about in gilded coaches dressed in "purple and fine linen," or gloat over the luxuries of the table. Their vices are not the cardinal ones, whatever their virtues may be. The "Miracles of St. Peter," as the common people call the palaces of Rome, are not wrought for them. Their table is mean and scantily provided with the most ordinary food. Three days in the week they eat no meat; and during the year they keep three Quaresime. But, good as they are, their sour, thin wine, on empty, craving stom
achs, sometimes does a mad work; and these brothers in dirt and piety have occasionally violent rows and disputes in their refectories over their earthen bottles. It is only a short time since that my old friends the Capuchins got furious together over their wine, and ended by knocking each other about the ears with their earthen jars, after they had emptied them. Several were wounded, and had time to repent and wash in their cells. But one should not be too hard on them. The temper will not withstand too much fasting. A good dinner puts one at peace with the world, but an empty stomach is the habitation often of the Devil, who amuses himself there with pulling all the nerve-wires that reach up into the brain. I doubt whether even St. Simeon Stylites always kept his temper as well as he did his fast.
As I see them walking up and down the alleys of their vegetable garden, and under the sunny wall where oranges glow and roses bloom, without the least asceticism, during the whole winter, I do not believe in their doctrine, nor envy them their life. And I cannot but think that the one hundred and fifty thousand Frati who are in the Roman States would do quite as good service to God and man, if they were an army of laborers on the Campagna, or elsewhere, as in their present life of beggary and self-contemplation. I often wonder, as I look at them, hearty and stout as they are, despite their mode of life, what brought them to this pass, what induced them to enter this order, and recall, in this connection, a little anecdote current here in Rome, to the following effect:- A young fellow, from whom Fortune had withheld her gifts, having become desperate, at last declared to a friend that he meant to throw himself into the Tiber, and end a life which was worse than useless. "No, no," said his friend, "don't do that. If your affairs are so desperate, retire into a convent, become a Capuchin.” “Ah, non!” was the indignant answer; "I am desperate; but I have not yet arrived at such a pitch of desperation."
Though the Franciscans live upon charity, they have almost always a garden connected with their convent, where they raise multitudes of cabbages, cauliflowers, finocchi, peas, beans, artichokes, and lettuce. Indeed, there is one kind of the latter which is named after them,-capuccini. But their gardens they do not till themselves; they hire gardeners, who work for them. Now I cannot but think that working in a garden is just as pious an employment as begging about the streets, though perhaps scarcely as profitable. The opinion, that, in some respects, it would be better for them to attend to this work themselves, was forced upon my mind by a little farce I happened to see enacted among their cabbages, the other day, as I was looking down out of my window. My attention was first attracted by hearing a window open from a little three-story-high loggia, opposite, hanging over their garden. A woman came forth, and, from amid the flower-pots which half-concealed her, she dropped a long cord to the ground. "Pst, Pst," she cried to the gardener at work below. He looked up, executed a curious pantomime, shrugged his shoulders, shook his fore-finger, and motioned with his head and elbow sideways to a figure, visible to me, but not to her, of a brown Franciscan, who was amusing himself in gathering some finocchi, just round the corner of the wall. The woman, who was fishing for the cabbages, immediately understood the predicament, drew up her cord, disappeared from the loggia, and the curtain fell upon the little farce. The gardener, however, evidently had a little soliloquy after she had gone. He ceased working, and gazed at the unconscious Franciscan for some time, with a curious grimace, as if he were not quite satisfied at thus losing his little perquisite.
These brown-cowled gentlemen are not the only ones who carry the tin box. Along the curbstones of the public walks, and on the steps of the churches, sit blind old creatures, and shake at you a tin box, outside of which is a figure of the Madonna, and inside of which are two or three
baiocchi, as a rattling accompaniment to an unending invocation of aid. Their dismal chant is protracted for hours and hours, increasing in loudness whenever the steps of a passer-by are heard. It is the old strophe and antistrophe of begging and blessing, and the singers are so wretched that one is often softened into charity. Those who are not blind have often a new Diario or Lunario to sell towards the end of the year, and at other times they vary the occupation of shaking the box by selling lives of the saints, which are sometimes wonderful enough. One sad old woman, who sits near the Quattro Fontane, and says her prayers and rattles her box, always touches my heart, there is such an air of forlornness and sweetness about her. As I was returning, last night, from a mass at San Giovanni in Laterano, an old man glared at us through great green goggles,—to which Jealousy's would have yielded in size and color,- and shook his box for a baiocco. "And where does this money go?" I asked. "To say masses for the souls of those who die over opposite," said he, pointing to the Hospital of San Giovanni, through the open doors of which we could see the patients lying in their beds.
Nor are these the only friends of the box. Often in walking the streets one is suddenly shaken in your ear, and, turning round, you are startled to see a figure entirely clothed in white from head to foot, a rope round his waist, and a white capuccio drawn over his head and face, and showing, through two round holes, a pair of sharp black eyes behind them. He says nothing, but shakes his box at you, often threateningly, and always with an air of mystery. This is a penitent Saccone; and as this confraternità is composed solely of noblemen, he may be one of the first princes or cardinals in Rome, performing penance in expiation of his sins; or, for all you can see, it may be one of your intimate friends. The money thus collected goes to various charities. They always go in couples,- one taking one side of the street, the other the
opposite,- never losing sight of each other, and never speaking. Clothed thus in secresy, these Sacconi can test the generosity of any one they please with complete impunity, and they often amuse themselves with startling foreigners. Many a group of English girls, convoyed by their mother, and staring into some mosaic or cameo shop, is scared into a scream by the sudden jingle of the box, and the apparition of the spectre in white who shakes it. And many a simple old lady retains to the end of her life a confused impression, derived therefrom, of Inquisitions, stilettos, tortures, and banditti, from which it is vain to attempt to dispossess her mind. The stout old gentleman, with a bald forehead and an irascibly rosy face, takes it often in another way, confounds the fellows for their impertinence, has serious notions, first, of knocking them down on the spot, and then of calling the police, but finally concludes to take no notice of them, as they are nothing but Eye-talians, who cannot be expected to know how to behave themselves in a rational manner. Sometimes a santa elemosina is demanded after the oddest fashion. It was only yesterday that I met one of the confraternità, dressed in a shabby red suit, coming up the street, with the invariable oblong tin begging-box in his hand,— a picture of Christ on one side, and of the Madonna on the other. He went straight to a door, opening into a large, dark room, where there was a full cistern of running water, at which several poor women were washing clothes, and singing and chatting as they worked. My red acquaintance suddenly opens the door, letting in a stream of light upon this Rembrandtish interior, and, lifting his box with the most wheedling of smiles, he says, with a rising inflection of voice, as if asking a question, "Prezioso sangue di Gesù Christo?"-(Precious blood of Jesus Christ? )
The last, but by no means the meanest, of the tribe of pensioners whom I shall mention, is my old friend, “Beefsteak," now, alas! gone to the shades
of his fathers. He was a good dog,— a mongrel, a Pole by birth,- who accompanied his master on a visit to Rome, where he became so enamored of the place that he could not be persuaded to return to his native home. Bravely he cast himself on the world, determined to live, like many of his two-legged countrymen, upon his wits. He was a dog of genius, and his confidence in the world was rewarded by its appreciation. He had a sympathy for the arts. The crowd of artists who daily and nightly flocked to the Lepre and the Caffè Greco attracted his notice. He introduced himself to them, and visited them at their studios and rooms. A friendship was struck between them and him, and he became their constant visitor and their most attached ally. Every day, at the hour of lunch, or at the more serious hour of dinner, he lounged into the Lepre, seated himself in a chair, and awaited his friends, confident of his reception. His presence was always hailed with a welcome, and to every new comer he was formally presented. His bearing became, at last, not only assured, but patronizing. He received the gift of a chicken-bone or a delicate titbit as if he conferred a favor. He became an epicure, a gourmet. He did not eat much; he ate well. With what a calm superiority and gentle contempt he declined the refuse bits a stranger offered from his plate! His glance, and upturned nose, and quiet refusal, seemed to say,-"Ignoramus! know you not I am Beefsteak?" His dinner finished, he descended gravely, and proceeded to the Caffè Greco, there to listen to the discussions of the artists, and to partake of a little coffee and sugar, of which he was very fond. At night, he accompanied some one or other of his friends to his room, and slept upon the rug. He knew his friends, and valued them; but perhaps his most remarkable quality was his impartiality. He dispensed his favors
with an even hand. He had few favorites, and called no man master. He never outstayed his welcome "and told the jest without the smile," never remaining with one person for more than two or three days at most. A calmer character, a more balanced judgment, a better temper, a more admirable self-respect,— in a word, a profounder sense of what belongs to a gentleman, was never known in any dog. But Beefsteak is now no more. Just after the agitations of the Revolution of '48, with which he had little sympathy, he was a conservative by disposition,- he disappeared. He had always been accustomed to make a villeggiatura at L'Arriccia during a portion of the summer months, returning only now and then to look after his affairs in Rome. On such visits he would often arrive towards midnight, and rap at the door of a friend to claim his hospitality, barking a most intelligible answer to the universal Roman inquiry of " Chi è?” morn we missed him at the accustomed' place, and thenceforth he was never seen. Whether a sudden homesickness for his native land overcame him, or a fatal accident befell him, is not known. Peace to his manes! There "rests his head upon the lap of earth" no better dog.
In the Roman studio of one of his friends and admirers, Mr. Mason, I had the pleasure, a few days since, to see, among several admirable and very spirited pictures of Campagna life and incidents, a very striking portrait of Beefsteak. He was sitting in a straw-bottomed chair, as we have so often seen him in the Lepre, calm, dignified in his deportment, and somewhat obese. The full brain, the narrow, fastidious nose, the sagacious eye, were so perfectly given, that I seemed to feel the actual presence of my old friend. So admirable a portrait of so distinguished a person should not be lost to the world. It should be engraved, or at least photographed.