« PreviousContinue »
but we must plead guilty to that obtuseness or blindness which cannot comprehend how Papal Infallibility can depend on its decrees being written on paper or on parchment, accompanied or not accompanied by certain formularies of publication.
All that follows the publication of the brief—the death of Ganganelli, the fierce and yet unexhausted disputes about the last year of his life, and the manner of his death are to us indescribably melancholy and repulsive. The two parties are contending, as it were, for the body and soul of Pope Clement, with a rancour of mutual hatred which might remind us of the Spaniards and Mexicans during their great battle on the Lakethe Mexicans seizing the dying Spaniards to immolate them to their idol—the Spaniards dragging them away to secure them the honours and posthumous consolations of Christian burial. We have conflicting statements, both of which cannot be true -churchman against churchman-cardinal against cardinaleven, it should seem, pope against pope. On the one side there is a triumph, hardly disguised, in the terrors, in the sufferings, in the madness, which afflicted the later days of Clement; on the other, the profoundest honour, the deepest commiseration, for a wise and holy pontiff, who, but for the crime of his enemies, might have enjoyed a long reign of peace and respect and inward satisfaction. There, a protracted agony of remorse in life and anticipated damnation—that damnation, if not distinctly declared, made dubious or averted only by a special miracle :-here, an apotheosis—a claim, at least, to canonization. There, the judgement of God pronounced in language which hardly affects regret; here, more than insinuations, dark charges of poison against persons not named, but therefore involving in the ignominy of possible guilt a large and powerful party. Throughout the history of the Jesuits it is this which strikes, perplexes, and appals the dispassionate student. The intensity with which they were hated surpasses even the intensity with which they hated. Nor is this depth of mutual animosity among those or towards those to whom the Jesuits were most widely opposed, the Protestants, and the adversaries
of all religion ; but among Roman Catholics—and those not always Jansenists or even Gallicans—among the most ardent assertors of the Papal supremacy, monastics of other orders, parliaments, statesmen, kings, bishops, cardinals. Admiration and detestation of the Jesuits divide, as far as feeling is concerned, the Roman Catholic world with a schism deeper and more implacable than any which arrays Protestant against Protestant, Episcopacy and Independency, Calvinism and Arminianism, Puseyism and Evangelicism. The two parties counterwork each other, write against each other in terms of equal acrimony, misunderstand each other, misrepresent each other, accuse and recriminate upon each other, with the same reckless zeal, in the same unmeasured language-each inflexibly, exclusively identifying his own cause with that of true religion, and involving its adversaries in one sweeping and remorseless condemnation.3
? See Crétineau Joly, p. 151, for the accusations adopted by the Parliament of Paris, which only comprehend simony, blasphemy, sacrilege, magic, idolatry, astrology, irreligion of all kinds, superstition, unchastity, perjury, false witness, prevarication, theft, parricide, homicide, suicide, regicide. The charges against the doctrines of the Jesuits are equally enormous: they had taught every heresy, from Arianism to Calvinism (all carefully recounted), blasphemies against the Fathers, the Apostles, Abraham and the Prophets, St. John the Baptist and the Angels, outrages and blasphemies against the Blessed Virgin, tenets destructive of the divinity of Jesus Christ, deistical, Epicuroan, teaching men to live as beasts, and Christians to live as Pagans !
• Even now a writer, in some respects-in copiousness, in eloquence, in vigour, in extensive knowledge—the most remarkable of modern Italy, Vincenzio Gioberti, seems to have concentrated within himself all the traditionary hatred of the Jesuits, and fixed on himself their no less vindictive detestation. His huge volume, the Primato d'Italia, soon came to be a text-book with a large part of the Italian clergy, especially in Piedmont. The theory of the Primato is to us simply preposterous. The eternal, the inalienable, the unforfeitable primacy of Italy, of Rome, and of the Pope is as wild a vision as ever haunted the poet, or him whom in imaginative creativeness Shakespeare ranks with the poet, the lunatic. This indefeasible primacy we will begin to discuss when Italy shall have given birth to new Dantes, new Ariostos, new Tassos, new Da Vincis, new Michael Angelos, new Raffaelles, new Galileos—with greater Watts, more ingenious Fultons, more inventive Wheatstones. But even the Primato, with all its eloquent appeal to the patriotic and ecclesiastical passions of Italy, was looked upon with mistrust so long as there were suspicions that Gioberti inclined to the Jesuit party. In another vast volume of Prolegomeni Gioberti not merely disclaimed all such alliance, but began a fierce war against the Jesuits. This gauntlet was taken up; he was replied to with bitter and unsparing, and, as far as we are informed, unjust, personality. The Gesuita Moderno, in
To us the question of the death of Clement XIV. is purely of historical interest. It is singular enough that Protestant writers are cited as alone doing impartial justice to the Jesuits and their enemies : the Compurgators of the Company of Jesus' are Frederick II. and the Encyclopedists. Outcast from Roman Catholic Europe, they found refuge in Prussia, and in the dominions of Catherine II., from whence they disputed the validity and disobeyed the decrees of the Pope. Moreover, to us the beauty of Clement's character depends by no means on his conduct in the affair of the Jesuits, but on his piety, his gentleness, his universal benevolence, his toleration. We care not much for his greatness; but we have a tender, almost an affectionate, regard for his goodness. We cannot forget that, if he hesitated to suppress the Jesuits, he was bold enough to prohibit, immediately on his accession, the publication of the famous bull, In Canâ Domini; he was the first so-called Vicar of Christ, for a century or two, that did not commence his reign by maledictions on all but one particular division of those professing the faith of Christ—the first—and last?) --whose inaugural edict was not an anathema.
M. Crétineau Joly informs us that the Pope signed the terrible brief with a pencil on a window in the Quirinal, and adds :
• It is reported (on raconte), and I have this narrative from the lips of Pope Gregory XVI., that after having ratified this act, he fell in a swoon upon the marble pavement, and was not taken up till the next day (“ et qu'il ne fut relevé que le lendemain ”). Does M. Crétineau, or did Gregory XVI. mean that he was so utterly neglected by his attendants as to have been left on the floor? or that he did not recover his senses, for the whole day? We presume that the relation of the late Pope closed here. M. Crétineau proceeds :
five thick volumes, is Gioberti's pamphlet in rejoinder-a work which we could only have commended a few months ago to those who were anxious to measure the extent of modern Italian prolixity, and gauge the depths of modern odium theologicum, but which has now acquired other claims to attention ; for there is no doubt of its having had great influence on the late general pronunciamento against the Jesuits in Italy.
Le lendemain fut pour lui un jour de désespoir et de larmes, car, suivant la relation manuscrite, qu'a laissée le célèbre théologien Vincent Bolgeni, le Cardinal de Simone (alors auditeur du Pape) racontait ainsi lui-même cette affreuse scène. Le Pontife était presque nu sur son lit ; il se lamentait, et de temps à autre on l'entendait répéter, "O Dieu, je suis damné! l'enfer est ma demeure. Il n'y a plus de remède.' Fra Francesco, ainsi s'exprime Simone, me pria de m'approcher du Pape, et de lui adresser la parole. Je le fis; mais le Pape ne me répondit point, et il disait toujours, “L'enfer est ma demeure !' Je cherchai à le rassurer ; mais il se taisait. Un quart d'heure s'écoula; enfin il tourna ses yeux vers moi, et me dit, 'Ah! j'ai signé le bref; il n'y a plus de remède.' Je lui répliquai qu'il en existait encore un, et qu'il pouvait retirer le décret. Cela ne se peut plus,' s'écria-t-il, je l'ai remis à Monino, et à l'heure qu'il est, le courrier qui le porte en Espagne est peut-être déjà parti.' “Eh bien ! Saint Père,' lui dis-je, 'un bref se révoque par un autre bref.' 'O Dieu,' reprit-il, cela ne se peut pas. Je suis damné. Ma maison est un enfer; il n'y a plus de remède.'—P. 331.
The Pope's misjudging friends, adds our author, would deprive him of the virtue of remorse. That remorse preyed upon him incessantly, as we are left to infer, from July 21, 1773, to the day of his death. Cardinal de Bernis is quoted as revealing his fears of dying by poison, which had haunted him ever since his accession. He became mad; he had only glimpses of reason (des éclairs de raison'); the first and last Pope, asserts M. Crétineau, who has suffered that degradation of humanity. The stern historian will waste no word of commiseration.
But all this is in direct contradiction with De Bernis' express, distinct, and particular statements quoted by M. St. Priest, and adduced in a more convenient place by our author.
Sa santé est parfaite et sa gaîté plus marquée qu'à l'ordinaire :' thus writes the French cardinal on November 3, 1773. Bernis is, on all points where his own vanity and display of influence are not concerned, an unexceptional witness. He was living in the most friendly intercourse with the Pope. And his story is confirmed by anecdotes—some cited by M. Crétineau himself, others by St. Priest and many other writers. The date of Clement's first illness is marked with absolute precision. About the Holy Week, 1774, the Pope (who up to that time had shown himself in public in the streets and in the churches in apparent health and vigour) suddenly shut himself up in his palace-even the ministers of the Foreign powers were not permitted to approach him. It was not till August 17 that they were admitted to an audience. They were struck with his altered appearance—he was shrunk to a skeleton. He spoke cheerfully of his health ; but every one saw that it was an effort. The account which transpired was that one day, as he rose from table, he was seized with violent internal pains and cold shiverings. He recovered; but soon after alarming symptoms appeared, not merely in the body, but in the mind also. He became wayward, peevish, mistrustful. Daggers and poisoned phials were ever before him. He ate exciting food, which he dressed with his own hands. His mind wandered : he could not sleep; if he did, his sleep was broken with wild visions : he constantly prostrated himself before an image of the Virgin, and there lay sobbing, “Mercy! mercy !-compulsus feci ! compulsus feci!'
After six months of these horrible sufferings his faculties and his reason entirely returned. In the words of Cardinal de Bernis, cited by Count St. Priest, “ the Vicar of Jesus Christ prayed, as his Redeemer did, for his implacable enemies; and at this moment, so great was his delicacy of conscience, that he scarcely allowed the suspicions, which had haunted him since the Holy Week, to escape from his lips. He died on September 22. His body was in the most loathsome state-a state which we shrink from describing. An examination, however, did take place; the result of which by no means removed the dark suspicions which spread abroad.'
The statements of Cardinal Bernis are confirmed in every point and every particular by another contemporary account, the “Relation of the Sickness and Death of Clement XIV.' sent to the court of Madrid by the Spanish ambassador. This relation was printed in the Storia della Vita, etc., di Clemente XIV.' (Firenze, 1778.) It was reprinted from another copy, found