+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

the people with his hand held out, and the one
everlasting formula on his lips: "Let me think
for you, and I will take you to heaven." For
generation after generation, and for century after
century, the people have taken the priest's hand
on those terms. The greatest of human writers,
the noblest of human beliefsâ??patience under
worldly trials, consolation under afflictions, the
most sacred domestic ties, the very ledge of
immortality itselfâ??have all been held through
century after century, for millions and millions
of your people, in the priest's hand. In the
priest's hand they are held stillâ??and you have
got him against you.

Yes! here, in his central stronghold, the
priest's immovable composure has its old
foundation, to this day, in the priest's consciousness
of his power. The political tyranny that he
administersâ??the infamous misgovernment that he
permitsâ??has alienated you, and thousands of
men like you. But he has got your wives and
your daughters; he has got the influence of
the mothers over the children, and the other
stronger influence yet of the women over the
men. Nay, to come to individual instances of
note and mark, he has even got your King. It
is notorious to everybody out of Englandâ??
though it has been carefully concealed in
Englandâ??that there is a religious side to Victor
Emmanuel's character, as well as a political side,
and that he presents to this day the curiously
anomalous phenomenon of a zealous Papist who
is in disgrace with the Pope.

But I am drifting into general considerations,
and am forgetting that it is my business to give
you the results of my own personal observations,
such as they are.

I have attended more than one of the Catholic
church-services on Sundays. I have walked
again and again over those remoter quarters of
Rome in which the life of the people shows
itself most strikingly and unrestrainedly to
strangers. Go where I may, I see no change in
the congregations, since my first experience of
them; I discover no such phenomenon as a threatening attitude among the people. Last Sunday
morning, I went to a "solemn function" at the
church of St. Martin; then, to St. Peter's, to
Vespers, and Cathechism in the afternoon; then, all
through the Trastevere, where all the people
were out enjoying the lovely sunshine; then, back
again, across the river, and round about another
populous quarter, to another "solemn function."
In all this peregrination I looked carefully for
any signs of a change anywhere, and saw none.
The church ceremonies were as superb and as
impressive as ever, and the congregations (the
men included, mind) just as numerous and just
as devout. Four years since, I saw the
catechising at St. Peter'sâ??the boys openly taught
under one of the aisles, and the girls secretly
taught behind a screen, under another. On
that occasion I noticed that the girls all respectfully
kissed the priest's hand when they came
out from the screen, and were dismissed. There
was the whole thing, last Sunday, going on again
as usualâ??the much-enduring boys kicking their
legs on the forms, and the nicely trained girls
crowding round the priest to kiss his hand as
they went out. In the whole Trastevere, when
I walked through it afterwardsâ??in all that
turbulent ultra-Roman quarter of Romeâ??I
doubt if there were a soul in-doors. Were the
men cursing in corners, and the terrified women
trying to moderate them? The men were playing
the favourite Roman game of "morra" in
cornersâ??the men were smoking and laughing
â??the men were making love to their
sweetheartsâ??the men went out of the way into .the
mud, at a place where a cardinal's carriage was
standing as an obstacle on the drier ground,
without a wry look or a savage word in any
case. The women, in their Sunday bestâ??the
magnificent Roman women of the peopleâ??sat
gossiping and nursing their children, as
composedly as if they lived under the most constitutional  monarchy in the world. If they had been
English women, and had "known their blessings,"
they could not have looked more
comfortable nor, I will add (though it is treason in
an Englishman to find any beauty out of his own
country), could they have looked handsomer. Do
you remember, when you were in Rome, devout
female individuals stopping a cardinal out for his
walk, to kiss the ring on his forefinger? I saw
a devout female individual stop a cardinal,
yesterday, for this extraordinary purpose, in a
public thoroughfare. The cardinal took it as a
matter of course, and the people took it as a
matter of course, just as they did in your time.

Don't misunderstand me, in what I am now
writing. I am not foolish enough to deny that
there is discontent in Rome, because I don't
find it coming to the surface. I don't for a
moment doubt that there is serious and savage
discontentâ??though I firmly believe it to be confined
to the class (the special class, here and
everywhere) which is capable of feeling a keen sense
of wrong. More than this, I am even ready to
believe that "the Roman committee" can raise
a revolution, if it please, on the day when the
French leave Rome. But granted the discontent,
and granted the revolution, I am afraid
there is a power here which will survive the
one, and circumvent the other. I see the
certainty of possessing that power in reserve in the
unchanged attitude of the priests; and I see
the foundation on which the conviction of the
priests rests, in the unchanged attitude of the
people. You know the old story of the man
who had been so long in prison that he had lost
all relish of liberty, and who, when they opened
the doors for him at last, declined to come out.
When you open the door here, I hopeâ??but I
confess I find it hard to believeâ??that you will
find the Roman people ready to come out.

So much for the first and foremost of the
chances in favour of the Pope; the chance that
the immense religious influence at his command
will prove too strong for you. Observe (before
we get on) how boldly and openly he is meeting
you with that influence already, on your own
ground. You know that the form of Christianity
of which he is the head, is the one form that