Should he be a person of independent fortune, they wait till he wants something, as, for instance, a passport. One of my good friends in Rome has been for the last nine years trying to get leave to travel. He is rich and energetic. The business he follows is one eminently beneficial to the State. A journey to foreign countries would complete his knowledge, and advance his interests. For the last nine years he has been applying for an interview with the head of the passport office, and has never yet received an answer to his application.
Others, who have applied for permission to travel in Piedmont, have received for answer, “Go, but return no more.” They have not been exiled; there is no need of exercising unnecessary rigour; but on receiving their passports, they have been compelled to sign an act of voluntary exile. The Greeks said, “Not every one who will goes to Corinth.” The Romans have substituted Turin for Corinth.
Another of my friends, the Count X., has been, for years, carrying on a lawsuit before the infallible tribunal of the Sacra Rota. His cause could not have been a bad one, seeing that he lost and gained it some seven or eight times before the same judges. It assumed a deplorably bad complexion from the day the Count became my friend.
When once the discontented proceed from words to actions you may indeed pity them.
A person charged with a political offence summoned before the Sacra Consulta (for everything is holy and sacred, even justice and injustice), must be defended by an advocate, not chosen by himself, against witnesses whose very names are unknown to him.
In the capital (and under the eyes of the French army) the extreme penalty of the law is rarely carried out. The government is satisfied with quietly suppressing people, by shutting them up in a fortress for life. The state prisons are of two sorts, healthy and unhealthy. In the establishment coming within the second category, perpetual seclusion is certain not to be of very long duration.
The fortress of Pagliano is one of the most wholesome. When I walked through it there were two hundred and fifty prisoners, all political. The people of the country told me that in 1856 these unfortunate men had made an attempt at escape. Five or six had been shot on the roof like so many sparrows. The remainder, according to the common law, would be liable to the galleys for eight years; but an old ordinance of Cardinal Lante was revived, by which, God willing, some of them may be guillotined.
It is, however, beyond the Apennines that the paternal character of the Government is chiefly displayed. The French are not there, and the Pope’s reactionary police duty is performed by the Austrian army. The law there is martial law. The prisoner is without counsel; his judges are Austrian officers, his executioners Austrian soldiers. A man may be beaten or shot because some gentleman in uniform