I am willing to admit that, at the commencement of his reign, Pius IX. experienced a generous impulse. But this is a country in which good is only done by immense efforts, while evil occurs naturally. I would liken it to a waggon being drawn up a steep mountain ascent. The joint efforts of four stout bullocks are required to drag it forward: it runs backwards by itself.
Were I to tell you all that M. de Rothschild has done for his co-religionists at Rome, you would be astounded. Not only are they supported at his expense, but he never concludes a transaction with the Pope without introducing into it a secret article or two in their favour. And still the waggon goes backwards.
The French occupation might be beneficial to the Jews. Our officers are not wanting in good will; but the bad will of the priests neutralizes their efforts. By way of illustrating the operation of these two influences, I will relate a little incident which recently occurred.
An Israelite of Rome had hired some land in defiance of the law, under the name of a Christian. As everybody knew that the Jew was the real farmer, he was robbed right and left in the most unscrupulous manner, merely because he was a Jew. The poor man, foreseeing that before rent-day he should be completely ruined, applied for leave to have a guard sworn to protect his property. The authorities replied that under no pretext should a Christian be sworn in the service of a Jew. Disappointed in his application, he mentioned the fact to some French officers, and asked for the assistance of the French Commander-in-Chief. It was readily promised by M. de Goyon, one of the kindest-hearted men alive, who undertook moreover to apply personally to the Cardinal in the matter. The reply he received from his Eminence was,
“What you ask is nothing short of an impossibility. Nevertheless, as the Government of the Holy Father is unable to refuse you anything, we will do it. Not only shall your Jew have a sworn guard, but out of our affection for you, we will select him ourselves.”
Delighted at having done a good action, the General warmly thanked the Cardinal, and departed. Three months elapsed, and still no sworn guard made his appearance at the Jew’s farm. The poor fellow, robbed more than ever, timidly applied again to the General, who once more took the field in his behalf. This time, in order to make the matter sure, he would not leave the Cardinal till he held in his own hand the permission, duly filled up and signed. The delighted Jew shed tears of gratitude as he read to his family the thrice-blessed name of the guard assigned to him. The name was that of a man who had disappeared six years back, and never been heard of since.
When the French officers next met the Jew, they asked him whether he was pleased with his sworn guard. He dared not say that he had no guard: the police had forbidden him to complain.