« PreviousContinue »
richness, the infinite variety, yet unity of impression, which is found in the genuine Catholic Christian art, the Gothic, or German style. The palaces of Rome, on the whole, are much finer than the modern churches. They indicate the residence of an opulent and splendid aristocracy; and such, partly composed of the older houses, partly of the descendants of the Papal families, was the nobility of Rome. But, with the exception of the Colonnas, the names of the older Roman aristocracy are little connected with the palaces, libraries, and galleries, still less with that which adds so much to the beauty of the modern city, the rich splendour of the numberless villas of Rome. In the middle of the seventeenth century,' says Mr. Ranke, there were reckoned to be in Rome about fifty families 300, thirty-five 200, sixteen 100 years old; all below this were considered of vulgar and low birth. Many of them were either settled or had possessions in the Campagna. Most of this old nobility, however, were tempted to become holders of Luoghi di Monte. The sudden reduction of the interest brought them into difficulties, and they were gradually obliged to alienate their estates to the wealthier papal families, who thus became the non-resident holders of vast landed property.
Mr. Ranke considers these large estates, held by a few proprietors (exactly the latifundia of old Rome), as one great cause of the deterioration of agriculture in the Campagna. From the peculiar nature of these lands, they required the constant and unremitting care of resident farmers, interested in their productiveness. The system of small farms, with, as far as might be, a proprietary interest in the soil, could alone successfully conduct the agriculture of the Roman territory. Mr. Ranke concurs with many writers in attributing the extension of the malaria to the destruction of the woods. Gregory XIII. destroyed those in the valleys with a view of promoting and extending agriculture; Sixtus V. those on the mountains, in order to lay open the haunts of the banditti. Since that period, however, the malaria has constantly encroached more and more, on districts before either partially visited, or not at all. Under these fatal influences the produce of the Campagna diminished yearly.
The interference of the government, and the injudicious remedy applied to the growing evil, completed the work of desolation. Urban VIII. adopted the fatal measure of prohibiting the exportation of corn, cattle, and oil, not merely from the territory at large, but from one district to another; and he gave almost unlimited authority to the prefect. This magistrate was empowered to assess the price of corn according to the harvest, and in proportion to that price to compel the bakers to regulate the price and weight of bread.
The prefect became immediately an enormous and uncontrolled monopolist; and it is from this time that the complaints of the ruin of the papal territories commence. In our former article we extracted a passage from the Venetian despatches, expressive of the somewhat jealous admiration, with which the native of that state in elder days surveyed the unexampled richness and fertility of Romagna. In our journey to Rome and back' (writes the Venetian ambassador in 1621), “we have remarked the great poverty of the peasantry and the common people, the diminished prosperity, not to say the very limited means, of all other classes. This is the effect of the system of government, and the wretched state of commerce. Bologna and Ferrara maintain a certain degree of splendour in their palaces and their nobility. Ancona is not without commerce with Ragusa and Turkey. All the other cities are far gone to decay. The Cardinal Sacchetti, in a memorial to Alexander VII., described the sufferings of the Roman peasants and lower classes as worse than those of the Israelites in Egypt :-People not conquered by the sword, but either bestowed on, or of their own free will subjected to the Roman See, are more inhumanly treated than slaves in Syria or Africa !'
How singular the contrast between the Campagna of Rome and the haciendas of Rome's faithful servants in South America ! Here, is Romanism subduing ferocious or indolent savages to the arts and the happiness of civilized life, changing the wild forest or unwholesome swamp into rich corn land; there, close at home, turning a paradise into a desert !—so completely does even the same form of Christianity differ in its effects, according to the circumstances of time and place, and the state of society. In one case, we see it devoting itself with singlemindedness to the welfare of the lowest of mankind; in the other, as blind to its interests as to higher obligations, in that very place where, in many respects, it had concentrated its strongest zeal and profoundest piety, neglecting the most solemn, the most Christian duty, the happiness of the people committed to its charge. Even Roman Catholics could not but allow that what they conscientiously considered the best religion, produced the worst government in Europe.
CLEMENT XIV. AND THE JESUITS.
We must confess that something like profane curiosity arrested our attention, and compelled us, as it were, to a more careful examination of this book. Its author had previously published a History of the Company of Jesus, in six volumes; and with that patience which belongs to our craft, we had perused them from the beginning to the end. M. Crétineau Joly is so awfully impressed, not only with the greatness of the Jesuit order, but with the absolute identification of their cause and that of true religion, almost with their impeccability, that he can scarcely be offended if we pronounce his work, in our opinion, far below the dignity of his theme. That theme would indeed test the powers of the most consummate writer. The historian of the Jesuits should possess a high and generous sympathy with their self-devotion to what they esteemed the cause of their Master, their all-embracing activity, their romantic spirit of adventure in the wildest regions; but no less must he show a severe sagacity in discerning the human motives, the worldly policy, the corporate, which absorbed the personal ambition ; he must feel admiration of the force which could compel multitudes, lustre after lustre, century after century, to annihilate the individual, and become obedient, mechanically-moving wheels of that enormous religious steamengine, which was to supply the whole world with precepts, doctrines, knowledge, principles of action, all of one pattern, all woven into one piece ; and, at the same time, exercise a sound and fearless judgement as to the workings of such an influence on the happiness, the dignity of mankind. He must have the industry for accumulating an appalling mass of materials, yet be gifted with that subtle and almost intuitive discrimination which will appreciate the value and the amount of truth contained in documents, here furnished by friends who have been dazzled into blindness by the most fanatic zealthere by enemies who have been darkened into blindness, no less profound, by that intense hatred, which even beyond all other religious orders or bodies of men it has been the fate of the Jesuits to provoke. He must be armed with a love of truth which can trample down, on all sides, the thick jungle of prejudice which environs the whole subject; he must be superior to the temptation of indulging either the eloquence of panegyric or the eloquence of satire: endowed with a commanding judgement, in short, which, after rigid investigation, shall not only determine in what proportions and with what deductions the charges entertained by a large part of the best and most intelligent of mankind against the order are well-grounded, but at the same time account for their general acceptance; that acceptance marked sufficiently by the one clear fact that Jesuitism and kindred words have become part of the common language of Roman Catholic, as well as of Protestant countries.
1 Clément XIV. et les Jésuites. Par J. Crétineau Joly. Paris, 1817.
The work of M. Crétineau Joly is too incoherent and fragmentary, too much wanting in dignity and solidity, for a history; it is too heavy and prolix for an apology. loose assemblage of materials, wrought in as they have occurred, as they have been furnished by the gradually increasing confidence of the Jesuits themselves, or have struck the author in the course of rambling and multifarious reading of passages pressed into the service from all quarters, especially from Protestant writers, who may have deviated through candour, love of paradox, or the display of eloquence, into praises of the Jesuits; of long lists of illustrious names, which have never transpired beyond the archives of the Order-interminable
It is a