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

"Much obliged," you say. " I don't take

"What a pity!" is the smiling reply.

"And why a pity?" you inquire.

"Because if you had accepted a pinch, you
would have given me a few sous for my con-

These friars exercise gratuitously a multitude
of little trades, for the benefit of the
benefactors of their order. They will draw teeth
with tolerable dexterity; sit to artists for their
head and beard; or follow, taper in hand, the
funeral procession of wealthy personages. They
are far from leading an idle life. They are the
intimate and familiar friends of little folk, and
the very humble, very devoted servants of the
great. The people readily listen to them,
because they belong to the people themselves.
They preach at the Coliseum, in the Piazzas
and streets, in very vulgar language, with their
arms a-kimbo, and without mincing matters.
If a coarse word promises to give greater force
to their rhetoric, they out with it at once.
"That's our way," they say. " We are no
scholars; we know nothing about the telegraph,
or gas, or steam; but we are able to give good
advice, notwithstanding."

An old woman will stop a Mendicant friar
on his way, addressing him by name. " My
terno (combination of three numbers) was not
drawn at the lottery. Tell me another. The next
drawing will take place on Saturday noon."

"Get along with you," says the friar, gently
repulsing her. "Would it not be far better, whenever
by chance you have got ten sous, to buy a loaf
and a flask of wine, which would support your
strength, instead of losing all at the lottery?"

"Excuse me, father. I beg your pardon.
When I have eaten the bread and drunk the
wine, hunger and thirst will soon come back
again; whilst, with my ticket in my pocket, I
am a rich woman until Saturday noon."

The lottery is the shortest road from poverty
to wealth. There are more certain paths, but
there are none so direct; on which account the
Roman plebs avoid the others, and rush, in
crowds, into this.

Sundry morose travellers have thought fit to
carp at a population of gamblers, and especially
at the government which helps them to gamble.
It is considered bad taste that a power
surrounded by the respect of the universe should
speculate in the vices of its subjects.

It is not at Rome alone, but at Naples, Florence,
Venice, over the whole area of the long-
oppressed land that Italians gamble in the
lottery. If there were no lottery-offices in Rome,
the Romans would gamble in other towns, and
the diligences from Sienna, Pisa, Florence, and
Naples, would have room for no other luggage
than lottery-tickets. Now, as it is a settled
rule in this unfair game that the banker should
always win, the suppression of the Pontifical
Lotteries would send away to foreign parts some
three hundred thousand pounds sterling annually.
Such is the approximate figure of the gross
profits realised by the State; but the expenses of
collection feed such a swarm of petty officials, that
the net produce does not exceed sixty thousand
pounds per annum. The lottery, therefore, is a
very poor resource for the government, and a very
great consolation for the people.

The game is played thus: On Saturday, at
noon, in front of the Finance-office, under the
eyes of the assembled people, a committee,
presided over by the representative of the prelate
minister of Finance, draws five numbers from a
wheel which contains ninety. Amongst the eager
gamblers who are present at the drawing, one
has played at the " simple extract," that is, he
has wagered against the government that such
a number will be one of the five drawn: if his
number comes out, he wins thirteen or fourteen
times his stake. Another will play at "ambe,"
twos or both; he has chosen two numbers, and
wagered that both will come from the wheel.
Another plays-a " terno," having selected three
numbers: he wins more than five thousand
times his stake. A man who could guess
beforehand three out of the five numbers that will
be drawn next Saturday, could purchase a
hundred thousand francs, or four thousand pounds
sterling, for one Napoleon.

That settled, every one of our Romans puzzles
his brains to foresee what numbers will be drawn.
Up to twelve o'clock on Thursday night they
cogitate, worry themselves with cabalistic
combinations, take counsel of their friends, and seek
inspiration from on high. Some interrogate the
drawing of preceding years: such and such
numbers have the habit of appearing in company;
they have not been seen for more than six
months; we shall soon have them again! Others
search for hints on the city wall, where ready-
made terns are to be found written in charcoal
by amateur prophets. Not a few make a
"novena," or nine days' devotion, to determine
their numbers to come forth. Whoever has had
the luck to dream of a dog or a cat, consults a
dream-book, where every sort of vision has its
correspondent number. The grand, the sole,
the inseparable idea of all Romans of both sexes
is the hunt after good numbers.

And not dreams only are translated into
figures; every event, whether fortunate or
unfortunate, loses its real signification to be
converted into a presage. Somebody is drowned.
Good! 88! My daughter has caught a fever.
Bravo: 18, 28, 48! A husband comes home
when not expected. He hears a man's voice in
his wife's chamber. Heaven be praised! 90!
He rushes down stairs and buys the ticket.

At Rome, the son of a charcoal-man fell from
a first floor window and received serious injury.
The father, before sending for the doctor, com-
posed a terno out of his son's age, the hour
when the accident happened, and 56, the
number corresponding to falls out of a window. He
won; the child died; and more than one father
envied him. A young man and woman stifled
themselves with carbonic acid gas in a house in
the Corso; the people crowded to the lottery
offices to gamble with the circumstance. The
administration was obliged to "close," or refuse