Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

ment as they alternately rise and fall with its motion?* has he never heard even the names of the different games of the Boccia, the Morra, and Zechinetta? -With regard to his description of the miseries in the Campagna di Roma, we can only turn from it with horror and disgust. Such is the respect we have for the character of the writer, that we do not know what to conclude from his sketches. We can only say, on the other hand, that we too have wandered about the Campagna di Roma, and have visited many of the caverns cut in the soft pouzzolana which composes the soil, but have never risked being covered by the insects, which were making a meal, of the bodies of a family, that had fallen victims to hunger; we never had the good fortune to be able to enrich our journal with such incidents. Our worthy author has praised Virgil for his skill, in varying the modes of death, in the fall of his heroes, but he has not followed his example, for only one mode seems to have suggested itself to him, which was that of famine.

It is singular how a man who has been long“ in populous cities pent," and who has not had opportunities of observing the diversities of men and manners elsewhere, loses, by degrees, the just sense of the relative applicability of the terms opulence and poverty; civilization or barbarism; populousness or desertion. How much an inhabitant of many parts of the American continent, would be astonished to find, that the country our author calls a desert, is clothed with a good turf, finely undulated, intersected by streams, and varied here and there, according to his own account, with corn-fields; and that the woods he dignifies by the name of forests are only the groves, perhaps a little neglected, which are attached to Castel Fusano, the seat of a Roman prince. Because there is not a white cottage at every half mile, and because every acre of ground is not covered with vineyards or clover fields, he calls this a desert!

The whole of the Campagna di Roma is indeed badly cultivated; and this for a very simple reason. There is a local cause in the unhealthiness of the climate, which has always made it the policy of the popes, to abandon that portion of territory. No wise ruler would expend vast sums on an experiment which might prove after all fruitless; for as it is only the neglect of ages that can have rendered it so unhealthy, so also nothing but the work of ages can restore it to its former state. It would be particularly ill-advised in this instance, situated as are the plains of Latium, between the Florentine and Neapolitan dominions, both abounding in grain, and deriving rich stores from the other provinces, subject to the papal dominion.

[merged small][ocr errors]

The fate of Rome is now decided; she has changed her master, and all these may appear idle speculations;—but under one point of view, they become important. There has been, throughout the political tragedy, which has been performed in Europe during the last ten years, a great propensity to excuse the violent usurpations which have succeeded each other, by alleging the weak, or vitious organization, of the former governments. The book before us has probably been quoted, and will be so again, to prove, that a change was necessary to the well-being of the Roman territory, and that a thorough regeneration (for that was the classical term) was indispensable.

At the time the materials for this volume were collected, Rome had once passed through this process of regeneration. We have somewhere heard an anecdote of the naïveté of a Frenchman, who happened to have an ugly sister, and who tried to palliate it to a stranger, by saying, “ Hé bien! avant la révolution, elle étoit jolie.” This term,“ avant la révolution," ex. ists also at Rome. “ Prima della republica," as they express it, is an epoch at which they describe every thing to have been prosperous and flourishing. If a stranger were now to visit that city, we do not doubt but that he would find the inhabitants referring to the epoch, which is spoken of in this volume, as to a comparative state of bliss. As our author succeeds so well in painting scenes of misery, let him now revisit Rome, and we err greatly, if he does not find much better food for his pencil. We were resident in that city, when the great wave of oppression swept over from Lombardy to the Pope's dominions, so that we had an opportunity of judging of the comparative degrees of its political prosperity. We could only exclaim in a strain of indignation with Tibaldeo,

Scorno eterno a l'Italico paese,
Quando fia letto, che un regno si forte

Contra Francesi non si tenne un mese! or of pity with Filicaja,

Deh fossi tu men bella, ò almen più forte. We then saw realized what our author asserts to be characteristic of the Roman,“ that you could scarcely glance your eye at him in the streets, without his raising his hat or his hand to beg of you*.”-For two years previous to the invasion of the

* " Besides the mendicants by profession, one half of the inhabitants of Rome do not hesitate to ask, alms, wherever they hope to get them. A stranger cannot fix his eye upon an individual in the streets, without causing him to present his hat or his hand for charity."

French army, the treasury at Rome had been taxed for the support of the troops, that occasionally passed through the papal territory, to an amount equal to the annual revenue.

It is impossible to conceive, without having been an eye-witness of such a revolution, the confusion and dismay, the distress and stupor of despair, which ensues, when a court of the nature of that of the supreme pontiff is broken up. The splendours of royalty, and consequently the sources of idleness, were there subdivided; as each of the cardinals, relying themselves on the existence of the pontifical dignity, had a long train of dependents, who looked up to them for a subsistence. All of these saw the channel in which their incomes flowed, suddenly stopped, and were deprived of bread, without having ever been instructed in the means of procuring it by their personal industry.

We are far from wishing to defend the papal government. We believe, that if ever the regenerating hand of wisdom was necessary, it was at Rome; but we deny that any sincere wish ever animated the invader of Italy, or that any sincere endeavour was ever made by him, to ameliorate the situation of any people. His purpose is mere subjugation, his means are violence and terror; and we can never think that any person, not even the instruments of that oppression, (among whom, by a strange fatality, are enrolled many wise and many good men,) ever for a moment seriously imagined, or attempted to prove, that the most distant good ever could result, from this systematic plunder and degradation of the world. There is a specious brilliancy, a glare of success surrounding the extraordinary fortunes of the individual, which cannot fail to attract the admiration of the weak and unthinking; nay, it may, for a time, fascinate the good, and excite some of the nobler passions of the human breast; but the enthusiasm it may for a moment raise, will be soon rejected by every virtuous mind, as a vitious feeling.

If the subject were not so serious, and the consequences so dreadful, a smile would often be excited by the palpable contradiction, in the reasons brought forward, by some of the affected apologists of this system, to prove that the successive overthrows of the various nations, which have fallen victims to it, were naturally to be expected. The powers of Europeseem to labour under an infatuation, similar to that of the inhabitants of an unhealthy tract of country, who attribute the death of their friends, daily dropping round them, the victims of the climate, to some particular vice or immediate imprudence, while the same pestilential air is gradually, but sensibly, undermining their own health. Thus the political deaths of the various crowned heads of Europe are attributed, by the other powers, to some individual rashness, or to some radical defect in their forms of government, while the same active and general cause, is sapping the foundations of their own constitutions. The king of Prussią was too tame a calculator; the king of Sweden, on the contrary, a Quixotic madman. The Dutch were too pliant, and the Neapolitans too stubborn;—the Genevans, the republics of Italy, the Venetians, and, lastly, the Valezans were too free, and the Spaniards too much enslaved. The Romans were too completely under the influence of priestcraft and religion-and, whenever occasion may serve, the Turks will be found to have no claim to pity, because they are wanting in that religion. The melancholy result of all this false reasoning is, that a single colossal empire stands on the continent of Europe, like a political Upas, surrounded by the prostrate remains of its credulous governments. Wherever her branching arms extend, reign the silence of despair and the apathy of slavery; while nations yet to be ravaged look on with indifference, under the fatal illusion, that the rank and mephitic blasts of oppression and tyranny, like those of the poisonous vegetable, shed their baneful venom only within a definite circle; each vainly imagining, until too late, that they are removed from the danger of its influence, by some peculiar local or moral cause.

Z.

137

An Argument on the Right of the Constituent to instruct

his Representative in Congress. The question has been of late frequently agitated in this country, whether the members of our congress, particularly the senators, are not bound to obey the instructions of their constituents. The affirmative of the proposition, although at war both with reason and authority, has been stoutly maintained in many parts of the Union, and seems to have gained pretty general credit. We touched slightly upon this topic in our third number, and, as it is of great importance in a constitutional point of view, had resolved to give it a deliberate and thorough examination, at some future period. We have, however, the good fortune to be relieved, from the necessity of executing this task ourselves, in being enabled to lay before our readers an argument from another hand, establishing the same opinions, as those we should have endeavoured to uphold, but framed with much greater force and ingenuity, than we could have hoped to attain.

It may be recollected, that when the renewal of the charter of the Bank of the United States, was under discussion in Congress, the legislature of Virginia undertook to direct their senators to oppose the renewal, and that the instruction so given was boldly, and, in our opinion, most wisely, disobeyed, by one senator, while the right of giving it, was peremptorily denied, by the other. In consequence of this proceeding, it was proposed, in the Virginia house of delegates, at the session held during the last winter, to assert legislatively the disputed right, and to pass a vote of censure on the recusants. On the other hand, the following resolution, “ That it is the opinion of this assembly, that no state legislature has a right to instruct a senator of the United States," was tendered by Charles Fenton Mercer, Esq. an eminent federal member, and supported by the preamble which we are about to publish. Those who are acquainted with the influence of partyzeal over all our public deliberations, and with the composition of our state legislatures generally, will not be surprised when they are told, that the reasoning of Mr. Mercer, clear and decisive as it is, was of no avail, and that his proposition was rejected by so great a majority as 103 to 13 votes.

The elaborate introduction to the dictatorial * resolutions

The third was as follows:--Resolved, that after this solemn expression of the opinion of the general assembly, on the right of instruction, and the duty of obedience thereto, no man ought henceforth to accept the appoint. VOL. IV.

S

« ForrigeFortsett »