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ease; while others, wan and haggard themselves, are bearing about wretched and half-starved infants, who look as if they were denied that sustenance which nature craves. Then come the blind, the poor helpless blind, each led by a little boy or girl, and, raising their dead and sightless eyeballs to heaven, plead for charity, with tones sad enough to break one's heart. And yet you cannot give them aught. Why? Because the moment that you do it, you are known as one who gives, and then they all besiege you, so that you cannot walk the streets in peace. A friend of mine, who had permitted his better feelings to triumph over his judgment, was once so beset that he could escape only by retreating to a baker's shop, where giving a dollar, to the woman who kept it, he fled, while the bread which he thus bought, was being distributed to the crowd of hungry beggars.
The following dialogue is one of many which I have had with these poor wretches, in the cities of Southern Europe. " Will you give me a penny for some bread, Sir ? I am hungry,” said a ragged boy, without hat, shoes, or coat, as he approached me. “Have you had nothing to eat to-day?" I asked. “No, Sir, only this piece of bread, which this little boy gave me." " And where did he get it?” “His brother, who works there, Sir, gave it to him; and he is a good boy, and when he gets any thing to eat he gives me half of it.” “But why do you not work, and get some money to buy bread with ?” “I do when I can, Sir; and sometimes I go and dig up roots, to sell for wood; but now I can get nothing to do, Sir, and it is very cold, too." And sure enough, those children of the sun, with only a scanty covering of rags, and without sufficient food to give any warmth or vigor to the system, wilt down directly, when the cold winds of winter blow upon them. “But where do you sleep at night?" "On a stone door-step, Sir." “Do many others sleep so ?” “Yes, Sir, there are seven other boys who sleep on the pavement, close by where I do." And sure enough, you may see them, a dozen together, sleeping at night on the stone steps of a church or other public building. “But I should think you would take cold.” “I have a very bad one, Sir.” And so he had; for he coughed, and was quite hoarse. “I wish you would give me a penny, Sir, for some bread; I wish I was dead, Sir, for I get very hungry, and have nothing to eat." Such are one class of beggars, whose tale of suffering is full of sad and wretched reality, and they
deeply feel the bitterness of their state. Others there are, poor and ragged enough it is true, but knavish and reckless of the future. With assumed tones of sorrow, they will tell you a fictitious tale of woe, and, when they gain your charity, will gather their brother beggars around them, and gamble with it. Such thoughtless vagabonds would hardly change their condition if they could, and many of them do not deserve any thing better than they have. They are all most expert physiognomists, and when one, to rid himself of them, turns fiercely upon them with a cane, they will tell in a moment whether he means them harm, or whether in his heart he pities them, and would, if he could, give them relief. The 'beggars in Naples far exceed any that I have met with elsewhere, in the use of signs as a means of expressing their ideas. I could converse with them in this way, on common subjects, as readily as with the deaf and dumb. The lively nations of the south of Europe use this language much more than we do, and in Naples the people are often obliged to resort to it, from the fact, that those in some districts of that vast city, speak a dialect which is not understood by those who live in other districts.
About a century since, a Spanish prince ascended the throne of Naples; and, having chosen as his minister the Marquis Tanucci, who had been a lecturer on public law in the University of Pisa, and had shown himself a bold and uncompromising enemy of ecclesiastical abuses, the work of reform was vigorously commenced. Tanucci, in 1737, presented a statement of the rents of the clergy, and proposed to appropriate the revenues of all monastic institutions to the crown, giving, as a means of support, forty cents a day to each monk and nun, and sixty to each superior. The right of asylum was abolished in all civil and religious sanctuaries, and thus a great obstacle to justice, and stimulus to crime, was removed. In 1741, the clergy were first assessed a fair proportion of land, and other taxes. In 1746, the Inquisition was for ever abolished, and such was the gratitude of the people for this important act, that they made a present of three hundred thousand dollars to the king. The number and powers of the clergy were limited, the decrees of the Pope declared to be of no force unless sanctioned by the king, and appeals to the Court of Rome were forbidden. In 1769, the Jesuits were expelled from the kingdom, and their property seized by the state. This step, it is claimed, was greatly to the injury of the interests of education, though it is well known that the Jesuits everywhere abused, for selfish and ambitious ends, the immense influence they acquired by means of instructing the young. In 1772, eighty-eight monasteries in Sicily were suppressed by a single edict, and divorce was declared to be only a matter of civil law, and not subject to the control of the Pope. Persons of religious communities were also forbidden to obey their generals who resided in foreign countries. As these officers commonly resided in Rome, and were appointed by the popes, the direct control of the head of the church over these communities was thus ended. About this time, two and a half millions of confiscated church property was sold.
In 1816, an arrangement was made between the Pope and the king of Naples, by which his Holiness and the clergy were deprived of no small amount of the income, as well as of the power, which they had previously enjoyed. Every bishopric, from that time forward, was to be endowed with revenues amounting to not less than $2,475, and curates of parishes were to receive salaries, varying from $ 82 to $ 163, according to the number of their parishioners. The Pope engaged that the possessors of church property, which had been alienated and sold, should not be molested in future by the Court of Rome. The Pope was to receive a yearly income of $ 9,900 on certain bishoprics and abbeys of the kingdom. To the king was granted for ever the right of nominating all archbishops in his realms, and bishops and archbishops were to take a strict and solemn oath of allegiance to the king.
The great change which has taken place in the condition of the Catholic church in the kingdom of Naples, may be seen by comparing the number and income of the clergy, in the two years 1786 and 1819. In the former year, the whole number of ecclesiastics, of every class, was 99,781 ; of whom 21 were archbishops, 215 bishops and abbots, 15,674 monks, 26,659 nuns, and 9,725 mendicant friars, besides the priests and other orders of clergy. Their whole income amounted to $ 937,766, being equal to a tax of about $1.86 on each individual in the kingdom. In 1819, the whole number of ecclesiastical persons was only 23,000, and all their incomes $577,000. Thus, not only have more than $ 8,000,000 of income been saved to the state, but more than 60,000 persons have been turned from a life of indolence, or unproductive effort, to more active and useful habits. One great reason of the general confiscation of the property of convents and hospitals in Italy, has been the fact, that they were so generally perverted from their original purpose, and their funds employed in supporting a host of lazy monks and friars, instead of supplying the wants of the poor, and relieving the hungry and way-worn traveller.
The word Lazaroni, or Laceroni, is said to have been derived from the Latin word Lacer or Laceri, ragged; and is applied to the street beggars and other vagabonds who abound in the city of Naples. The wretched state of the city police, and other causes, in former times led great numbers of fugitives from justice, and of the poor from the surrounding mountains, to herd together in Naples, where by begging, by petty thefts, and by such casual employment as they might obtain, they gained a scanty subsistence. Their number is said at one time to have been as great as 49,000, and, wearing only a shirt and trowsers, sleeping often in the open air, and living on raw turnips, fruit, fish, iced water, and macaroni, they were as reckless and worthless a race of vagabonds, as one would wish to meet with.
When the French came into possession of Naples, however, by enlisting into the army such of the Lazaroni as were fitted to bear arms, by sending others to the work-house, by establishing a vigilant police, and resorting to public whipping, and other summary modes of punishment for baser crimes, and by transporting more flagrant criminals, they greatly reduced the number of this abandoned class. Hence we find that in 1818, while the whole population of the city was near 400,000, there were but 3,970 vagabonds, or regular Lazaroni, - a number not greater, in proportion to the whole mass of the inhabitants, than may be met with in most cities of Europe. There were, at the same time, 15,000 persons in all the hospitals, and other buildings of public charity in the city, and 1,920 children in foundling hospitals.
The expenses of each patient in the hospitals of Naples for medical and other attendance, medicine, food, washing, &c., is about thirty cents a day. This does not include the cost of beds, mattresses, bedsteads, and bed linen. The average period passed in hospitals, is from thirty-two to thirty-seven days, and about one in seven die. The expenses of each person in poor-houses, are about seventeen cents a day, and
the mortality is greater than in hospitals, from the fact, that they contain a greater number of aged people.
The Lazaroni can supply themselves with necessary food, for five cents a day. Macaroni is their favorite dish, and, though the coinmon sort costs but three cents a pound, yet many of them are unable to indulge in it, except on Sundays and festivals. It is manufactured from a small, hard kind of wheat, which grows in certain parts of Italy, Sicily, and Greece; which, when ground, and thoroughly sisted, is made into dough, and kneaded about an hour with an iron bar, nine or ten feet long, worked by four or five men, and is then forced by a screw through small holes in a copper plate. It then resembles twine, or small cords, and is hung up in the open air to dry, and then wound up into rolls and bunches. It is prepared for use by boiling or frying, and is a common ingredient in soups. Of the 3,500,000 bushels of grain used annually in Naples, only 260,000 are made into macaroni.
From what I can learn, there is reason to believe, that travellers have often overrated the numbers of the Lazaroni. This has been owing to the fact, that they do not beg of Neapolitans, and hence they collect their whole force in a few of the principal streets and public squares, where foreigners resort, and are not often met with in other parts of the city. From what I had before heard, and from knowing that Naples had a population of from four to five hundred thousand, I was surprised to find so few street-beggars. While Murat was king, he did much to diminish their number, by employing them in making excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum, in constructing roads, and in other public works. Many of the more indolent of them have also been driven from their trade of begging, through fear of being confined in the National Workhouse, and compelled to labor. Most of them live wholly in the streets, both eating and sleeping there, and scores of them may be seen at night, snoring away upon the stone steps of the principal churches. Those who have families, however, live in caves and cabins, in the outskirts of the city. In times past, the Lazaroni have been very dangerous and troublesome, in insurrections. In the year 1647, owing to a tax laid on fruit, and other grievances, they rose en masse, and, under the command of Massaniello, a fisherman of the neighbourhood, took the government into their hands, and directed every thing according to their own will. It is said, that even now, they have one of their own number whom