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you at least from our moral changes of and to their offices Sicuri repairs alfortune. You are practical; we were nothing but dreamers.
If the book is in all respects not of first-class merit,-and it is as a tale pure and simple that it is weakest,-it is significant and symptomatic of current tendencies, and as such deserves notice. It also forms interesting reading on account of the lucidity with which incidents and situations are evolved. The hero, Giuliano Sicuri, is a character of some power, but this mental power is not balanced on the moral side. He is frankly a striver, to whom the world is an oyster, which he intends to open, not with his sword but with his talents:
Young, rich, attractive-armed, moreover, with the title of count, which is no drawback in democratic surroundingswith sufficient spirit to defend himself brilliantly in society, but not sufficient ability and character to dare take flight by himself into the higher spheres.
It was not, therefore, owing to his own merits that Sicuri was returned for Parliament. The government of the moment found itself in need of votes, and the sub-prefect of the little town in which Giuliano lived happily and peacefully with his wife and child had been ordered to find a pliable candidate to oppose to the strenuous Radical who seemed likely to carry all before him. Bribes and promises to build some needful river dams and bridges, the foundation of a newspaper to advocate the cause of the new candidate, soon did their required work. Sicuri goes up to Rome a deputy, and, like Sangiorgio, he exults in the luxury of his free journey and reserved firstclass carriage, and indulges in dreams of Rome and all he will achieve. Sicuri has been laden with letters of introduction by the sub-prefect, a character who well represents those plague-spots of bureaucratic countries, the prefect and his subordinates, manipulators of elections and veritable drags upon all honest and spontaneous national political existence. A certain number of these letters are to newspaper editors,
most immediately after his arrival.
On the other hand, I will answer for its validity. The Giunta,1 chosen by the majority, is always subject to the government. And I am the government! It is institution, the great newspaper L'Ordine. The counsellors of the crown change and pass away, but I with my I hold with being newspaper remain. frank-frank, sincere, to the point of brutality; therefore you will not be surprised, count, if I begin where others would finish. Three elements are necessary to assure victory-money, money, money! L'Ordine is not a paper with a large circulation. I am not the editor, I am a journalist; the paper is not an end, it is a means. It costs a fortune. L'Ordine is a lawyer; clients are those who seek its protection. The requital for being just must not be measured only by the importance of the cause nor by the length of the client's purse.
A further damper to Sicuri's hopes and aims were the conversations of his friend Ruggieri, who had abandoned political life rather than vote against his convictions. He points out to his younger friend how he and his ideas are fossils, survivals destined to disappear,
Conceived during the thunder of the artillery, but growing up when the enthusiasm was calming down, when, a fatherland reconquered, the wise men prepared to devour it, when the young
1 Committee to investigate the legality of elec tions, chosen from out of members of the Chamber -a pernicious practice long ago abolished by our Parliament.
men, believing the work of redemption to be complete, looked upon politics as a means of furthering their career, a new career in itself, sole preoccupation of the new generation, sole aim. The flame of sacrifice has been extinguished with the delusions of 1866, and with the facile triumphs of the Porta Pia. The one was truly the man of the past; the other, educated in the positive school, would have been of his time if nature had only made him better constituted for the struggle; he was incapacitated for the struggle by his yielding disposition, by the feminine delicacy of his instincts.
Ruggieri exposes his views, which are, of course, those of the author and of a large section of the Italian people, yet more fully when lunching with Sicuri at the Belvedere on Monie Mario, whence so grand a view of Rome is obtained:
Rome at their feet, three thousand years of the history of humanity. Rome, great not only by its antique glories, but by that which it always is. Not Rome the village, seat of a transitory dynasty, of an anomalous government, the third Rome, encumbered by the ruins of recent building and bank crises, material, moral, and political ruins, the Rome of the popes, the capital of Catholicism, almost as immense as the secular world. Roma Cosmopolis! The Rome of the Vatican and the Propaganda Fide, the Rome of believers, the Holy City of pilgrims, the Urbs from whence an old man hurled indisputable dogmas and created saints, new divinities adored by the greater part of humanity. Rome which survived Byzantium, the Rome of the Papacy, still more vigorous because of the voluntary imprisonment of its pontiffs.
"No, no, my dear fellow," replied Ruggieri to the optimistic objections of Giuliano. "The occupation of Rome, prior to the coming into power of a federal democracy, was a misfortune, a necessary error, inevitable, fatal, but an error. To attempt to resuscitate the Roman spirit and to equalize it," he said, pointing to the colossal unfinished monument to Victor Emmanuel dominating the Campidoglio from Ara Coeli, "is madness. The Roman spirit died with the last of the Tribunes. Cola da Rienzi, sublime visionary; the last Quirites have stoned the Roman spirit.
Bibliopolis, the imaginary city of Charles Nodier, was destroyed by ants.
The new Romes, which after an interval of many centuries are being reconstructed, are nothing but the demolition of the antique, of the great Rome. Do you see it down there, the black ruin? ... The amphitheatre of Flavio, cemented by the blood of thousands of Christian martyrs, the nihilists of Imperial Rome; well then, excavated by eighty generations, by a hundred revolutions, condemned to be a rubbish-heap, a fortress dismantled and sacked by barbarians, ruined by the lead of medieval artillery, for ages a quarry of travertine stone, but more solid and imposing than the Vatican and St. Peter's together, the imperishable skeleton of antique Rome; imperishable, but a skeleWhat shall we say now of Piedmontese art, which, to the chefsd'œuvre of Bramante and Michelangelo, to the Cancelleria and Farnese Palaces, in order to affirm the Savoy intangibility in Rome, opposes the Palace of Finance and reconstructs, spoiling and building upon the precious ruins, new ruins upon the antique, the third Rome, with copies of the architecture of Monte Carlo or Aix-lesBains? . . . No! Antique Rome was too great, the Rome of the popes was too grandiose for the Court of Turin to inherit."
"The Court! The Court of Turin, and Italy enters Rome by the breach in the Porta Pia!" exclaimed Giuliano impatiently.
"I grant it. But do you think that the new little populace can rival the crushing memories? Italy in Rome is like Gautier's Capitaine Fracassa in the castle destroyed by his ancestors. And then, too many ruins to demolish in our turn-thousands of years old they are, too, as solid as the travertine of the Colosseum, ruins, obstacles of which new Italy takes no account. How many milliards of ants, how mány centuries, are needed to destroy the entire world?"
Sicuri is puzzled. It seems to him that his friend, the arch-Liberal, is defending the Church. He replies.
"I have not changed my principles, I have only lost many illusions. The Church is no more eternal than any other human institution, but ductile, malleable. as wax, and has the faculty of transforming itself according to the exigencies of the time. The future belongs to democracy; well, the Church precedes social revolution and speaks the socialistic word.
While he had to protect the temporal power, materially feeble, the Viceroy of God was the humble servant of monarchs; to-day it is the sovereigns who invoke his support. The moderate republic in France owes in a great measure its last electoral victory to him. The day on which, in Italy, the Church will wish decidedly to take in the political struggle, the Parliament will be half composed of clericals. It will not be of much use to them, however, for a reaction will be inevitable. It is better to undermine our political institutions slowly, leaving the errors and the sins of official Italy to do the rest."
"You believe, then, that Rome will return to the Pontiffs?"
"And who told you that? Do you believe there are three fools in the Vatican who seriously desire a re-establishment of temporal power? Think about it. The railways, the telegraphs, telephones, journalism, an army of mercenaries with all the terrible and ruinous progress of the new armies, of new military arrangements, rules as to hygiene and prostitution, anarchism to fight. It would be suicide. Rome would become a laughing-stock, as it has been already, before 1870, when in the midst of civilized Europe was seen, as at Constantinople, vagabond dogs feeding on the refuse deposited by the inhabitants in front of their doors in wait for the scavengers to take it to Testaccio or to throw it on the public rubbish-heaps, which, to the honor and glory of the theocracy, adorned the streets of the Eternal City, streets distinguished by the names of heroes and Cæsars, of popes more or less glorious, of Catholic dogmas, of saints, and even of the Holy Trinity. The temporal power is indeed dead, like the medieval communes, like the Italian republics, once so flourishing and glorious. We might just as well try to bring about a return to feudalism in France. And two kings in Rome are incompatible. If Constantine abandoned the banks of the Tiber for those of the Bosphorus, it was because it had become impossible for him to live together with the Bishop of Rome.
I repeat, the struggle of Italy against the Papacy is unequal; we are at a disadvantage in Rome, and the disintegration of our institutions is in great part due to the presence in Rome of two incompatible Sovereigns. We have improved the atmo sphere with the Tiber works, with the draining of the Agro Romano, with new unfortunate edifices; but papal Rome is
deleterious to all secular powers. Papal
Sicuri fancies that Ruggieri would relinquish Rome, but this is by no means his idea, he wishes only to see a federal Italy:
"Cosmopolis is destined for a new great mission, inevitably the moral capital of the future, of the inevitable Latin Confederation. Give me a federal Italy, such as now, after so many delusions, enlightened statesmen dream of and desire, and the free city of Rome will no longer be an obstacle and a peril."
"How, you, a Garibaldian who fought at Mentana, crying Rome or death! to talk like this?"
"Is there such inconsistency between what I did and what I say now? Will Rome cease perhaps to be the Rome dreamt of by Garibaldi merely because the federal Parliament will sit once more in the Palazzo della Signoria at Florence instead of at Montecitorio? Will Rome, as seat of great federal controls, council of State, courts of counts, of cassation, be less Italian? Will the Roman university be less frequented and the civil power be less strong when no longer hampered by hybrid concessions, like the Law of Guarantees, one-sided contracts, unrecog nized by the Papacy, but laws for us who, wishing to impose, have been imposed upon? Will the feeling of pride and affection of the whole of Italy for the great common mother be less fervid only because we shall have twenty thousand bureaucrats less in Rome, and the bishops of Rome will no longer be able to pretend they are prisoners? Has New York any less influence in the North of the United States because the Parliament and the officials sit at Washington? When Thiers took the Chamber to Versailles did Paris cease to be Paris? Shall I tell you a paradox?" added Hector, after a short pause. "Perhaps we might not have the courage to proclaim it publicly, but truths are truths, even if we don't want to hear them." And lowering his voice, though half afraid of being overheard by an invisible third person, he said, "I am afraid that Rome will cease to be Rome the day the pope leaves it. . . . The whole
civilized world goes through Rome. Who cares for the Quirinal? The great attraction is the cupola of St. Peter's, the extinguisher, and during the year the pope has blessed more visitors than the monarchs of the Triple Alliance have passed soldiers in review. Remove the pope, and after many liquidations we may close the antiquity-shop that remains. Such disadvantages, such incompatibility are in great measure the origins of the moral and material disintegration which is communicated by the public administrations of the capital, or rather radiates from them, if the word is not out of place, over all Italy. It is a malaria! And now that, as was my duty, I have introduced you to the old grandmother, whose guest you are and will be in your capacity of legislator, let us go down by the Via Trionfale and cross the Tiber, more copious of water than the Rubicon, but troubled waters,-troubled like the two policies of the two courts, all fishers in troubled waters."
This very remarkable conversation, unfortunately too long to quote entire, sums up the whole programme that has many followers in contemporary Italy, and whose adherents have been increased by the mistakes, not to say crimes, committed by the Crispi governments and their ilk. In one of the first letters Sicuri writes to his wife he paints for her benefit a lurid picture of Montecitorio as he beholds it, reeking with official jobbery, and dilates upon the low estimation in which the position of deputy is held in Rome; the term Onorevole is deemed but base coin in the metropolis. The position of deputy is entered on, with a few exceptions, not so much for the sake of the fatherland as to foster personal aims and ends, and Sicuri actually avers that there are deputies so poor and mean that they carry away the candle-ends to furnish themselves with light in their miserable lodgings; deputies who travel backwards and forwards in the train by night to save paying for an apartment; he repeats what Ruggieri has told him of purses suspiciously lost in the Chamber; pictures which have mysteriously vanished from galleries held in trust by committees formed of deputies; of poor
members grown rich by the spoils of charitable institutions; of national collections for calamities that have never found their way into the destined pockets; of the strangest communications written upon government paper. Poverty, the only evil really dreaded in this present day, bribes them, tries them, wears them out. In short, Sicuri's letter is a severe indictment of his colleagues and their methods. "Montecitorio,
says Ruggieri, is a very good club; the only drawback is, you can black-ball no one-you must
take the members as they come."
But he says nothing of his own actions, not less ignoble, of the bribe paid to Ferretti.
The story now goes on to bring before the reader's eyes some not very savory back-stair scenes of public life, among them the slandering of Sicuri's wife in order to involve him in a duel and discredit him with his own party. All this has been put in motion by the sub-prefect, who has his private ends to serve, thus on the one hand aiding and on the other hindering his momentary protégé. This Cerasi, who plays with his victim to the end, like a cat with a mouse, is a strongly drawn type, a true arid-souled bureaucrat, a hard, sharp human being, devoid of all kinds of emotions. The matter concerning his wife adjusted, Sicuri gets thrown more and more into the seething whirlpool of public life. The validity of his election is soon contested; bribery and every species of corruption is too openly proved. Ferretti points out to him how this can be validated nevertheless, but this can only be done by employing more of the same methods for misleading public opinion through the press, all of which must be paid for in clinking coin. In this way every day the demands on Sicuri's purse grow heavier, and though he is fairly rich, still his means can barely meet these demands. He has to have recourse to bills and money-lenders, and what with this and the scandal circulated concerning his family, he begins to feel dimly that the ancestral honor of the Sicuris has been lacerated
spectability. However, he consoles himself with the thought that calumnies pass, but the membership remains. He grows also daily more enlightened as to many manifestations of public life that had puzzled him. Thus a deputy makes for his benefit a rapid survey of Italian political affairs, amid which occurs this passage, which may interest many persons out of Italy who, perhaps, scarcely realize how eminently democratic is the land, and how it has au fond remained faithful to the hopes and desires of Mazzini and Garibaldi:
and has lost some of its century-old re- in the hope of supplementing his finances. In the mean time the question of the validity or non-validity of his election is still held in the balance. and consequently he votes ostentatiously on the side of the government, even when he really disapproves of its acts, in order not to offend those in power. He despises himself, he feels he is deteriorating, he has been caught in the fatal net and can but go forward. It is at this moment that the cloud-storm of the so-called Italian Panamino arises to burst over Montecitorio and the bewildered and scandalized land, and Sicuri is found to be among the deputies who have had transactions of more than dubious character with the Banca Romana, here of course called by another name. Being fundamentally an honest man, and hence less astute, Sicuri is used as a scapegoat by his equally culpable but sheet-anchor is to pay up ere the entire more cunning colleagues. His only business is officially disclosed. is in despair; he has practically exhausted all his resources; he dare not apply to his wife, whom he has betrayed in every way. While he is thus perplexed and agitated and anxious, a letter from his fair friend reaches him, bidding him set his mind at ease, that his bills have been met. The fact is, this lady is very rich, and has paid for her lover in order to bind him yet more closely to her triumphal car. But Sicuri's honest friend Ruggieri, and his wife, who through newspaper innuendoes has got wind of the affair, will not allow him to sink to such depths. Between them they raise the required sum, Ruggieri by sacrificing his lifelong savings, the Contessa Sicuri by selling some of her estates, and he is forced by moral suasion to repay the Contessa Marcelin. He is further persuaded, in order to let the scandal go to sleep and to stifle busy tongues, in order that time may purchase oblivion for his follies, to accompany Ruggieri on a long voyage to another hemisphere. He consents, and is already en route for Genoa to embark, when his mistress recalls him, and he obeys
"Italy, beyond all doubt," continued the Onorevole Lastri, "is eminently democratic. The monarchists are monarchists for pure love of the statu quo, not by conviction-for fear of the unknown. The upaolders of the dynasty, excepting the high bureaucracy and the military officials, are no longer found anywhere but in Piedmont, and there they must be sought for. The great majority, therefore, is democratic or clerical. Clericalism, the natural enemy of institutions, tends towards becoming democratic with the policy of Leo XIII. But the clericals, properly so called, do not vote by order of the Pontiff; not for fear of defeat, but for dread of victory. Victorious, they might provoke a reaction. Then there would be conflicts -perhaps a civil war, perhaps even the downfall of this new Italy, so necessary for the Papacy, in order to be able to represent itself to foreign countries as a victim and revive the fetishism which was dying out, and also to have a large country in which it can exist, prosper, and act freely. In which land, in which monarchy or republic, could the Papacy at this time of day have greater splendor and liberty?"
Thanks also to Ferretti and Cerasi. Sicuri is introduced to the salon of a fair Egeria, who holds many of the wires of public life, and whose house is one of the very few where the two conflicting Roman aristocracies, the black and the white,-that is to say, the Clericals and the Savoyards,-meet in social intercourse. With this lady he soon begins one of the usual intrigues which costs him much money as well as much time, and distracts him from his public and domestic duties. He takes to gambling, he even speculates,