No. 239.
Mr. Marsh to Mr. Fish.

No. 461.]

Sir: The bill for the extension of the law concerning religious corporations to the province of Rome having passed the Italian senate in the form in which it had passed the chamber of deputies, has been approved by the King, and is now a law.

It is, substantially, the bill recommended by the special committee of the chamber. The most important modification of that bill is the provision of the third paragraph of section 4, article 2, which authorizes the King to allow to the representatives of the religious orders at the city of Rome the occupancy of the localities necessary for their residence and the discharge of their duties. This modification was extremely unpalatable to the opposition, as a dangerous concession to clerical interests, but it was insisted on by the ministry and at last adopted.

It is evident that the legal construction and effect of this provision is open to question, and I apprehend it may prove a source of serious embarrassment to the civil government.

It has for some time been asserted by the opposition newspapers, and is now admitted by the ministerial journals, that both France and Austria had made to the Italian government “observations” on certain features of the proposed law, but it is denied that these observations [Page 523] amounted to anything in the nature of a protest, or that they were offered in any but the most courteous form. Such as they were, however, they doubtless had some influence with the ministry, though none with Parliament or with the Italian public. This interference is resented by the nation, and it is tending to alienate Italy from its former friendly feeling toward France, to which power the action of the two governments is popularly ascribed.

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I have, &c.,