« PreviousContinue »
attempt had been made by the Italian zealots to precipitate the election, while it was almost in their own power, before the electors usually residing in Spain or even in France could arrive. The Cardinal Chigi wanted only two voices to secure his election. The French and Spanish ambassadors protested with the utmost vehemence against this proceeding. They even threatened, according to our author, that France, Spain, Portugal, and Naples would withdraw their allegiance from the Papal See. The more moderate cardinals, from base timidity, or, according to M. Crétineau Joly, a mistimed though excusable desire for conciliation (he says nothing of the flagrant injustice of depriving their colleagues of their right of suffrage), refused to proceed further till the Conclave was full. Early in March arrived De Bernis--but he was only the ostensible head of the anti-Jesuit party; he was but their manager within the Conclave. It had been hoped that, by his fascinating manners and his knowledge of the world, he might deal on more equal terms with the subtle Italian cardinals ; but in fact he was to move only as directed by persons more entirely in the confidence of the cabinets of Versailles and Madrid.
The majority of the Sacred College (says M. Joly) was no doubt adverse to the wishes of the Bourbons: endeavours were made to modify it according to their views, first by corruption, afterwards by violence. The Marquis d'Aubeterre, Thomas Azpuru (Archbishop of Valentia), Nicholas d'Azara, and Count Kaunitz undertook to play this part. They had accomplices in the Conclave. They wrote, they received communications, both officious and official (officieuses et officielles), from the Cardinal de Bernis and the Cardinal Orsini. The ministers of Louis XV. and of Charles III. sent instructions from Paris and Madrid. It is in this autograph correspondence, of which no one suspected the existence, that the proofs are to be sought of the inveterate hatred (acharnement) against the Jesuits. This hatred degraded ambassadors, confessors, the ministers of the most Christian King and of the Catholic King, into intriguers of the lowest class.-P. 212.
• By a series of accidents (proceeds our author) which can only have an attraction for the curious, but no historical interest whatever, these autograph documents relating to the Conclave of 1799 have fallen into my hands. With all respect to M. Crétineau Joly, the manner by which he has obtained these documents, if they are as important as he supposes, must be of very great historical interest. On that question must depend their genuineness, their authenticity, their fulness, their freedom from interpolation, and from the suppression of inconvenient passages; in short, their whole historical value and credibility. Through whose hands have they passed ? are they entirely free from party manipulation ? are they the whole, unbroken correspondence ? how far do they agree with the other authentic documents cited from the French archives by Count St. Priest, and by other earlier and later writers ? We are rather too well versed in this kind of inquiry to receive with full trust extracts from documents even when presented to us by the most honest writers—writers absolutely without prepossession or partiality. With no impeachment on the integrity of M. Crétineau Joly, he would scarcely wish us to rank him in that class. Without some satisfaction for these doubts, we cannot rightly appreciate the luminous discovery by the aid of which it is possible to follow, step by step, minute by minute, the plot which great criminals and men of extraordinary improvidence organized, out of hatred to the Jesuits, against the dignity of the Church. ... Nor are dissolute and imbecile kings, governed by their mistresses and by their diplomates, the only actors on this scene; cardinals and prelates throw themselves into the fray. It is this conspiracy which it is necessary to reveal to the Catholic world without any timid disguise, but still without passion; for justice to all is the true and only charity of history.
-A sublime sentiment, which our author, somewhat whimsically, closes with this sentence from S. François de Sales : C'est charité que de crier au loup quand il est entre les brebis, voire où qu'il soit.' If charity consists in crying wolf,' M. Joly is a model of this cardinal virtue. Then comes the usual quotation from Cardinal Baronius, who first struck out the happy thought of raising an argument for the uninterrupted authority of the Apostolic See from the flagrant, total, and acknowledged interruption of all apostolic virtues during certain periods of the Papal history. Nothing but the manifest favour of God could have restored the Papacy, after it had sunk, in the days of Theodora and Marozia, to such utter degradation.
Let us accompany, under our author's guidance, the Cardinal de Bernis (in the month of March) into the Conclave. He was anxiously awaited by Cardinal Orsini, who conducted the Neapolitan interest, and had almost stood alone in counteracting the march which the Zelanti had endeavoured to steal upon the assembly. The first act of Bernis was in violation, we fear not unusual, of the fundamental laws of the Conclave—to establish a regular correspondence with the ambassador of the French court, the Marquis d'Aubeterre. D'Aubeterre had already come to something like an understanding with the Austrian ambassador, Count Kaunitz. The instructions of Maria Theresa to that minister were to support the Jesuits, but Kaunitz looked to the rising sun. Her son and heir was himself at Rome, and the prince's philosophism must be flattered, rather than the antiquated prejudices of the Empress Queen. Roda, the Spanish ambassador, as well as D’Aubeterre, took care that his opinions should be known within the Conclave. The conduct of Joseph II. and his visit to the Conclave are described with some point by Count St. Priest : “He affected the most supercilious indifference as to the question of the Jesuits, and even the election of the Pope. He inquired for the Cardinal York. The grandson of James II. presented himself. Joseph saluted the last of the Stuarts with marked attention, and asked to see his cell. “It is very small for your highness.” In truth Whitehall was much larger.'—St. Priest, p. 92.
But we must examine the Conclave more closely. We find the following names, distributed into four classes by the Spaniards.
Eleven were by them considered good:
Six very bad, pessimi ; a glorious title, says our author, in the
Fifteen bad :
Three were doubtful-
Cardinal de Bernis was furnished, besides this surveillance of D'Aubeterre, with instructions from his court. There seem to be two such documents : one of an earlier date, printed by Count St. Priest, composed before the vacancy, and intended for whatever cardinals might eventually be entrusted with the
• There is some confusion about these lists: here are 48 names, yet Bernis says that the Conclave consisted of only 45 or 46 cardinals, and it appears that 16 (onethird of the whole) formed an Exclusive.
French interests in a future Conclave: the other, from which extracts are given by M. Crétineau Joly, actually addressed to Bernis and De Luynes. The former thus advises the French cardinal on the character of those with whom he will have to deal :
No one is ignorant to what extent the Italians carry the science of dissimulation : among all the Italians, it may be with truth averred, none have carried this to such a point of perfection as the Romans. Individual interests, as well as the national character, have placed them under a perpetual necessity of concealing their true sentiments. No one has any chance of success if he cannot disguise his real opinions, and make them appear to every one such as will advance his peculiar interests. In each case (i.e. whether there is a supreme pontiff or a vacancy) it is the great study of every one to mask, by all kinds of outward demonstrations, his real thoughts, and to be impenetrable. The art of self-concealment is considered by the Romans as the first and most essential to obtain their ends. This perpetual occupation in outreaching each other makes them by no means delicate as to what are called principles; with them roguery (friponnerie) is ability; they glory in it, and it is their vanity; hence the verb minchionare, which, happily for France, has no corresponding term in the French language.—St. Priest, p. 282.
These instructions refer also to former elections. Cardinal Polignac was the only instance of a French diplomatist in the Conclave who had ever outwitted the Italians. He had made Clement XII. (Corsini) Pope. Tencin had attempted, and wellnigh succeeded in favour of Aldrovandi, but had been defeated by Annibale Albani, who had carried Lambertini (Benedict XIV.). In fine
The great test of ability is to find means to make others propose what is your own object, and to seem to take no interest in the step. The French cardinal has nothing to do but to listen ; to open himself to no one as to his opinion on different subjects which may arise : to answer all who attempt to sound him, that he comes to no determination except in the church. This is the usual language in the Conclave, and every one knows what it means. When a name is proposed, and begins to gather voices, then he must strain every nerve (faire l'impossible) to ascertain the numbers. If the candidate is acceptable to France, as soon as the French cardinal shall perceive that he can carry the election by the voices of his faction, then is the moment to explain