Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Paolo Vergani

Italian political economist, b. in Piedmont, 1753; d. in Paris, about 1820. As a student, he devoted himself especially to ecclesiastical and civil law, and history. Having won distinction in theology, and been ordained priest, he went to Rome the better to prosecute his studies and soon became a canon of St. John Lateran. It was then that he wrote the "Trattato sulla pena di morte" (2nd ed., Milan, 1780), the "Discorso sulla giustizia criminale", and "Dell' enormità del duello", which earned for him a distinguished position among the jurists of the eighteenth century and particularly contributed to the reform of the criminal law. It was also probably due to them that he was appointed assessor general of finances and commerce, and inspector of agriculture and he arts. He wrote on the financial system of the Pontifical States as reformed by Pius VI (Rome, 1791), taking the position of an advocate of import duties for the protection of home industries, and maintaining that agriculture cannot be the only source of wealth in a state. He displays at the same time a thorough acquaintance with the history of political economy. In this work the author makes a remarkable appeal to religion and the duty of Christian charity, asserting the necessity of protecting and fostering the home industries, which provide occupation for so large a number of people, while manufacturing and foreign importation give work to only a few. This literary activity was interrupted for some thirty years: the Lateran Chapter having been dispersed in 1811, Monsignor Vergani went to Paris and there supported himself by giving lessons in Italian. He published also "la législation de Napoléon le Grand considéréé dans ses rapports avec l'agriculture" (Paris, 1812) and "Essai historique sur le dernière persécution de l'église" (1814).