Page images

religion. The stern Pope's enemies were his best allies, his worst foes his own army.

Charles Caraffa was in friendly correspondence with the Protestant leader, Albert of Brandenburg! Paul himself with Solyman the Turkish Emperor· he invoked the succour of the Infidels against the Catholic king!

The war, protracted in Italy without any important success on either side, was decided in another quarter. The battle of St. Quentin broke the power of France, and the Pope stood alone, deprived of all support from his one great ally. Yet the terms of the peace corresponded with the singular character of the war. Every possible concession was made by the Spaniards. Alva visited Rome as a reverential pilgrim rather than as a conqueror; and he who had never feared the face of man, trembled at the countenance of the aged Pope. The bitter disappointment at the failure of his magnificent schemes for the humiliation of Spain, and the restoration of the Papacy to its ancient predominance in the affairs of Europe, did not extinguish or subdue the energies of the hoary pontiff. He returned to his wiser plans for the reform of the Church. But to this end new and humiliating sacrifices were required admissions of weakness and of error were to be made; and through this severe trial Caraffa passed with resolution and selfcommand bordering on magnanimity. Peace was restored, and the vocation of the voracious soldiers, his nephews, was over. The eyes of Paul were gradually opened to the licentiousness and enormity of their lives. In the open consistory, while he was reiterating with indignant vehemence the word Reform! Reform! a bold voice replied, “The reform must begin at home. The Pope endured the rebuke, and only ordered a stricter investigation into the lives of his nephews. The whole development of this affair is curious and interestingwe have only space for the result. No sooner was Paul convinced of the fatal, the horrible truth, than he submitted to the painful humiliation of solemnly protesting his ignorance of their guilt, their abuse of his weak and unsuspecting blind

ness. IIe tore at once all the kindly feelings of relationship from his heart, and in the stern sense of duty trampled his nepotism under his feet. His nephews were condemned to the loss of all their offices, and to banishment to different places. The mother, seventy years old, bowed with sickness, threw herself in his way to plead for a mitigation of the sentence; the Pope passed by, reproving her in words of bitterness. The young Duchess of Montebello, on her return from Naples, fallen under the proscription which forbade every citizen of Rome from receiving any one of the family under his roof, in a wild and rainy night with difficulty found a lodging in a mean tavern in the suburbs. After all this severe struggle men looked to see the countenance of Paul depressed with sorrow; they watched the effects of wounded pride and embittered feeling in his outward demeanour. No alteration was to be discerned. In his calm and unbroken spirit the pontiff pursued the ordinary routine of business: the ambassadors could not discover that any event had taken place to unsettle the mind, or to disturb the serenity, of the Pope.

The short remainder of his life was rigidly devoted to the reformation of the Church. The ceremonial was conducted with the utmost splendour; all the observances of religion maintained with solemn dignity. The severest discipline was reinforced on the monastic orders; unworthy members were cut off and chastised with unrelenting hand. The same attention was paid to the improvement of the secular clergy; the churches were provided with competent ministers; and Paul contemplated the restoration of much of that power which had been gradually usurped and engrossed by the see of Rome to the episcopal order. The Inquisition, however, was that institution to which he looked with the most ardent hope for the restoration of Catholicism in all its ancient authority. His chief study was to enlarge and confirm the powers of that awful tribunal; he assisted at its deliberations; he was present at its auto-da-fés. This was the grand countervailing element which was to work out the rebellious spirit of Protestantism,

at length to restore the unity of the dismembered Church, or at least to preserve in violate that part of the edifice which yet remained unbroken.

The measures of Paul IV. might command the awe of the Protestant, the respect of the Catholic, world; but in Rome he had become most unpopular. He died commending the Inquisition to the assembled Cardinals. Instantly that he was dead, the populace rose, and, after every insult to his memory, proceeded to force the prisons of the Inquisition, to plunder and set fire to the building, to misuse the familiars of the tribunal. The statue of the Pope was thrown down-its head, encircled with the triple crown, dragged through the streets. M. Ranke has omitted a comic incident, mentioned, we believe, by Pallavicini. So odious was the name of the late Pope to the popular ear, that the vendors of common glass were obliged to give up their usual cry, 'Bicchiere, caraffe ;' and to cry instead, • Bicchiere, ampolle!'

Nothing could be more strongly contrasted than the birth and character of the new Pope, Pius IV., with that of his predecessor :

Paul IV., a high-born Neapolitan of the anti-Austrian faction, a zealot, a monk, and an inquisitor-Pius IV., a Milanese adventurer, through his brother (the famous conqueror of Cremona, the Marquis of Marignano), and through some other German relations, closely connected with the house of Austria, a civilian, of a free and worldly disposition. Paul IV. had held himself at an unapproachable distance; in the commonest business he would display his state and dignity. Pius was all good humour and condescension ; every day he was seen in the streets on horseback or on foot, almost without attendants; he conversed freely with every one.

His intercourse with the foreign ambassadors (M. Ranke quotes the Venetian correspondence) was easy, open, and almost familiar; he liked the straightforward and business-like manner of the Venetians, and, notwithstanding his Austrian prepossessions, he was annoyed by the unbending and dictatorial demeanour of the Spanish ambassador Vasques. After attend

ing, during the whole day, with great assiduity, to the business of the See, he would retire at sunset to his country-house with a gay countenance and cheerful eye; conversation, the table, and convivial diversiou were his chief pleasures. Recovered from a sickness which had been considered dangerous, he mounted his horse immediately, rode to a house where he had lived when cardinal, tripped lightly up the steps—and • No, no,' said he, we are not going to die yet.'

Yet the work of the reconstruction of the Papal power proceeded during the reign of this more genial pontiff without interruption. One of his first acts was the reconvocation of the Council of Trent, and the final establishment of the decrees of that Catholic senate. The milder Pius in his heart disapproved of the severities exercised by the Inqusition; he refused to attend on their deliberations, on the singular plea that he was no theologian,' but he either scrupled or feared to oppose their proceedings: they were allowed free course in the extermination of heresy, and during the reign of Pius many illustrious victims perished at the stake, and the sanguinary persecutions of the Vaudois were carried on with unmitigated violence.

With the Caraffas ceased the race of sovereign princes elevated on account of their relationship to the Popes. In the bloody execution of the guilty nephews of Paul, the reigning pontiff only satisfied the demands of public justice. The Cardinal Caraffa had considered himself safe in his purple. One morning he was summoned from his bed—his own confessor was not permitted to approach him. His conference with the priest who was allowed him was long, for in truth he had much to disburthen from his conscience. He was rudely interrupted by his executioner-Despatch, Monsignor,' said he, I have a great deal of business on my hands.' From this time nepotism held a lower flight: a large estate with a splendid palace in Rome is all that from henceforth perpetuates the family names of those who have filled the Papacy. Pius IV., freed from the charge of ambition, at the close of his life was accused of

avarice in favour of his descendants. But the nepotism of Pius, from the rare merit of those whom he distinguished with his favour, was highly beneficial to the interests of Catholicism. The promotion of Charles Borromeo, and of Serbelloni, a man of similar character, to the cardinalate, could not but command the general approbation. Few who have received the honours of canonization have lived so long in the grateful recollection of their flock as St. Charles. By him the Catholicism of Lombardy was confirmed in the hearts of the people, through the mild virtues, the charitable activity and munificence, and the splendour of a life devoted to the religious improvement of his diocese and to the general happiness. Protestantism was repelled and extirpated by the more lawful weapons of genuine Catholic piety and beneficence. The influence of Carlo Borromeo upon the religion of Lombardy is probably not yet extinct.

With Pius V. the Inquisition ascended the Papal throne. Michael Ghislieri, Cardinal of Alessandria, had been the head of that fearful tribunal in Rome.

The total revolution in the state of Europe had now relieved the Pope from some of the difficulties of his temporal position. His political station, as the head of the Catholic confederacy, was at once designated, and established by his ecclesiastical interests. The balance of Europe was now no longer disturbed by the conflict of the two preponderating Catholic powers, France and Spain. The interests which divided the world were the Catholic and Protestant—with Spain at the head of one, and England, under Elizabeth, of the other. The prize of the contest was France: the preponderance of the Calvinists or of the League seemed likely to decide the fate of Europe. Philip II. was the natural ally of the Pope, and from that alliance Pius never swerved in the least degree. As therefore nothing now interfered to distract the mind of the pontiff from the two exclusive objects of proper Papal ambition—the restoration of Catholicism in its pure religious vigour, and the repression of heretical opinions-Pius V. commenced the work with the utmost

« PreviousContinue »