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the lottery to consult some favourite friar as to what numbers they ought to select.* A prize ensures the conjurer one fat pullet at the least; or, if all his numbers are lucky, five. A capuchin of the Trinità de' Monti practised so much in that way as to offend Cardinal Mikra, their general, who, having in vain forbidden this magic, at last imprisoned the offender. The frati missed him at their dinner, ran to the prison, broke it open, and, rescuing their brother, carried him in triumph round the refectory. The cardinal, trying to interfere, was whipped with the sleeves of the rebels, and ran away to the Vatican. The disturbance, in which at least one life was lost, for the cardinal was not without friends in the convent, was not quelled without the interference of the gensdarmes. The story was incautiously told in the ‘Diario di Roma,' but was formally contradicted in the same journal, which also contained an order not to speak or write of the pretended transaction.
Another version of the origin of this holy insurrection is, that the Pope, having received certain anonymous letters complaining of Mikra’s severity, showed them to the cardinal, who hurried to the convent, and, looking into the refectory, read the letters to the monks at dinner, and asked who had dared to write them; on this one of the party rose and said, “I am the man.” The cardinal
* We have much to be ashamed of in regard to these practices at home; but with us the frauds of conjurers are punishable by law.
ordered the culprit to be seized; resistance was made, and knives were used. The arrival of the gensdarmes, and the subsequent dispersion of the brotherhood into Various monasteries, put an end to the disorder, but the scandal survived, and, as may easily be imagined, the silence enjoined was far from strictly observed.
The age of miracles is not gone by. At the last beatification, during the Jubilee of 1825, one of the attested deviations from the common course of nature, in favour of the person who was to receive the holy honours of the day, was painted and placarded on the door of St. Peter's. The Beandus, coming one fast-day into the kitchen of an unscrupulous Catholic, beheld sundry thrushes and larks on the spit. The good man was scandalised thereat, and, to reprove and punish the offender, ordered the birds to resume their feathers and their lives, and fly incontinently away. They obeyed. This miracle, of very recent occurrence, was seen and recorded by several trustworthy witnesses, and the King of Naples paid the expenses incurred by the beatification of the holy father. · It is asserted that men of intelligence privately deride these things. It may be so; but their public conduct is that of all others at Rome. Cardinal Consalvi had the reputation of extreme liberality, not to say indifference, on this point. Indeed, his language now and then was a little too sportive for one of his cloth. It was only a few days before his death that, conversing with Dr. W- , who had lately returned from the Holy Land, and who was giving him an unfavourable picture of the Christian clergy in those parts of the world, the Cardinal observed, “ La religione Christiana, apparamente, commincia d'invecchiarsi in quella parte." Yet Consalvi left the bulk of his fortune to the Jesuits, besides bequeathing a considerable sum for the completion and embellishment of two churches, one of which is finished and bears his name, and records his munificence on the façade. This inconsistency is observable in all classes of Roman society. St. Joseph's day is not unfrequently made the subject of a most unseemly jest, which I forbear to record; and the priests themselves are, by the nature of their office, made the confidants of all the numberless intrigues of a large and luxurious city, where brothels and prostitution are put down by ordonnances of a government which has broken the moulds of the celebrated engravings of the Farnesina frescoes, and covered the nakedness of the statues.
Whatever can be done by edict, Leo XII. has done to restore the full sway of that religion which has made him a sovereign. The Feast of St. Michael — 29th of September — once a half-holiday, he has made a whole one, because that saint is especially the conqueror of Satan. In such reforms he has been admirably seconded by his subjects, whose hereditary love of holidays has made them the idlest people of the earth. Indeed, a pope who should be suspected of . philosophy would not add to his character or his power at home, whatever might be his reputation abroad. A
professor was allowed by Pius VII. to lecture on astronomy, but he was forbidden to publish his dissertations on the solar system, as being at variance with the Mosaic account of the Creation. Ganganelli said to Mr. Townley, “People do not come here as formerly for benedictions; we must have other attractions ;” and accordingly the Clementine Gallery was founded. But this applies to strangers : the native loves the priest who gives most plenary indulgences, and encourages by his own example all the forms and fashions of the faith. The excellent Pius VII. complained to an English gentleman of the folly of those who had represented him as rapt in an extasy at Savona; but, said he, “I am not despotic; I must fall in with the temper of my clergy."*
A belief, or a profession of belief, in miracles is not confined to the lower classes. Cardinal Wiseman-of whom we may fairly say that he is not an ordinary man t-attributes the recovery of Leo XII. from an apparently fatal illness to a Monsignore Strambi, of the Congregation of the Passion, who offered up his own life for that of the Pope, and whose prayers were granted; for he himself died the next day, 31st of December, 1823, and the Pontiff rose like one recovered from the grave. † Pius VII. foretold that Cardinal Castiglione would be Pope, and, says our Cardinal, “ to tell the “ truth, one does not see why, if a Jewish high-priest
“ had the gift of prophecy for his year of office,* one “ of a much higher order and dignity should not occa“sionally be allowed to possess it.” + But this capacity was not confined to Pontiffs; for, one day, when, before his pontificate, Pius VI. and his successor were riding in the same carriage, a peasant, who was never seen nor heard of afterwards, foretold to them that they would both be Popes. A very celebrated personage of our own time and country was extricated from some difficulty by a heavenly messenger. Daniel O'Connell, when young at the bar, was pleading an important cause, the decision of which turned on the meaning of the phrase "a lax weir,” and the future Liberator would have been nonsuited had not a mysterious stranger thrown a twisted paper to him, and disappeared. He opened the paper, and found that a lax weir was a salmon-weir. The interpretation gained the cause, and O'Connell began the career which made him a great man. The stranger was never seen again. Far be it from me to say that these tales are not true ; but the publication of them by a Cardinal, as instances of Divine interposition, shows what may be expected from the common people of Rome.
I take this opportunity of adding that, miracles apart, • The Four Popes' is a very agreeable work, and that the Cardinal's account of his college life in Rome and the neighbouring hills exhibits a most pleasing picture of the society to which he belonged.