The Roman Question eBook

Edmond François Valentin About
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 233 pages of information about The Roman Question.

The Romans themselves are not duped by their beggars.  They are too sharp to be taken in by these swindlers in misery.  Still they put their hands into their pockets; some from weakness or humanity, some from ostentation, some to gain Paradise.  If you doubt my assertion, try an experiment which I once did, with considerable success.  One night, between nine and ten o’clock, I begged all along the Corso.  I was not disguised as a beggar.  I was dressed as if I were on the Boulevards at Paris.  Still, between the Piazza del Popolo and the Piazza di Venezia, I made sixty-three baiocchi (about three shillings).  If I were to try the same joke at Paris, the sergents-de-ville would very properly think it their duty to walk me off to the nearest police-station.  The Pontifical Government encourages mendicity by the protection of its agents, and recommends it by the example of its friars.  The Pontifical Government does its duty.

Prostitution flourishes in Rome, and in all the large towns of the States of the Church.  The police is too paternal to refuse the consolations of the flesh to three millions of persons out of whom five or six thousand have taken the vow of celibacy.  But in proportion as it is indulgent to vice, it is severe in cases of scandal.  It only allows light conduct in women when they are sheltered by the protection of a husband.[12] It casts the cloak of Japhet over the vices of the Romans, in order that the pleasures of one nation may not be a scandal to others.  Rather than admit the existence of the evil, it refuses to place it under proper restraint:  lay governments appear to sanction the social evil, when they place it under the control of the law.  The clerical police is perfectly aware that its noble and wilful blindness exposes the health of an entire people to certain danger.  But it rubs its hands at the reflection that the sinners are punished by the very sin itself.  The clerical police does its duty.

The institution of the lottery is retained by the Popes, not as a source of revenue only.  Lay governments have long since abolished it, because in a well-organized state, where industry leads to everything, citizens should be taught to rely upon nothing but their industry.  But in the kingdom of the Church, where industry leads to nothing, not only is the lottery a consolation to the poor, but it forms an integral part of the public education.  The sight of a beggar suddenly enriched, as it were by enchantment, goes far to make the ignorant multitude believe in miracles.  The miracle of the loaves and fishes was scarcely more marvellous than the changing of tenpence into two hundred and fifty pounds.  A high prize is like a present from God; it is money falling from Heaven.  This people know that no human power can oblige three particular numbers to come out together; so they rely on the divine mercy alone.  They apply to the Capuchin friars for lucky numbers; they recite special prayers for so many days; they humbly call for the

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The Roman Question from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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