Page images
PDF
EPUB

the Order in Europe should have inferred necessarily the destruction of their great work in South America ; they might have maintained their authority there under a commission from the crown, not as a religious society, but as a kind of civil government, a local administration under certain regulations, subordinate and responsible to the mother country. The most curious part of this whole transaction is, that Pombal feared, or affected to fear, that negotiations were going on between the Jesuits and the court of London, either to declare the independence of the settlements in Paraguay under the protection of England, or to annex them to the dominions of the British crown. He speculates, in a remarkable despatch published by M. St. Priest, on the appearance of a British armament in the river Plate (in case Portugal should join France and Spain in a war with England), and seems to entertain no doubt that they would be welcomed, and received as allies, by the whole Jesuit order. Conceive at that period, some fifteen years before Lord George Gordon's riots, Jesuit republics in South America under the patronage, if not received as subjects of George III.!

But we must proceed to the fall of the Jesuits, thus inevitable in Europe, not, as we have said, from any deliberate and organized confederacy against them, but brought to an immediate crisis by accidental circumstances—the hatred of an ambitious and upstart minister in Portugal, the pretended religious scruples of a royal mistress in France, the aversion which sprung from fear in the mind of the best and most rational king that had ruled in Spain since the accession of the Bourbons—the one of that breed that had some will of his own. Their hour was come; they had fulfilled their mission; the world was far beyond them—the eighteenth century had passed its zenith, it was declining towards its awful close : that which was of the sixteenth, notwithstanding its pliancy, and power of accommodation to political and social change, was out of date. The world was utterly astonished at the ease with which it shook off the yoke of the Jesuits. There had been a vague and almost

universal awe of their power, wealth, and influence. They had been supposed to have a hold in every family, if not on the attachment, on the fears of every Roman Catholic heart. They were thought to possess the secrets not only of every court, but of every private household ; to conduct a secret correspondence extending over all Christendom, and propagated with the speed of an electric telegraph ; to command enormous wealth, unscrupulously obtained, and expended as unscrupulously; to transmit orders with a fine and imperceptible touch, like the spider, to the extremity of their web, in constant and blind obedience to which every Jesuit in every part of the world bent all his faculties, and concentrated all these influences on the immediate object : as their enemies asserted, and many who were not their enemies believed, if that object was the power, the fortunes, the life of any devoted individual, he was suddenly struck by some unseen hand; he was carried off by some inscrutable means. From each of the great Roman Catholic kingdoms this formidable body was expelled unresisting, under circumstances of extreme harshness and cruelty, by measures of gross injustice, executed in a manner to excite the compassionate sympathy of all the candid and generous. In Portugal, the adventurer Pombal led the way; and this upstart minister dared to crush by one blow, to involve in one common ruin, the Jesuit community and the old nobility of the land. This too by acts of the most insulting and revolting cruelty-especially the public execution of the greatest family in the country, even its females, as concerned in a conspiracy against the life of the king--a conspiracy, no doubt, real, but stretched to comprehend all those whose ruin had been sworn by Pombal. The Jesuits were not merely driven without mercy from the realm, but some, especially Malagrida, at the worst a dreaming enthusiast, probably a harmless madman, were burned for heresy. Pombal employed the Inquisition to sear, as it were, the last vestiges of Jesuitism.

The Duke de Choiseul, the libertine and unbelieving minister of Louis XV., extorted the condemnation of the Jesuits from

the reluctant and superstitious king. A few parliaments feebly remonstrated, a few unregarded voices were raised against the sacrifice ; but it was accomplished without the least difficulty or struggle. In Spain Charles III. had thrown himself among the adversaries of the Order with something almost of personal hostility. The Jesuits had been seized with all the

secresy

of a conspiracy, at one moment throughout Spain, embarked in wretched and insufficient vessels, and insultingly cast, as it were, on the Pope's hands, to maintain them as he might, with hardly a pittance out of their confiscated property. Naples and Parma had followed the example; Piombino, Venice, Bavaria, all but Austria, either openly joined, or were prepared to join, the anti-Jesuit league.

About this juncture died Clement XIII. (Rezzonico). This Pope--a man of profound piety, with views of the supremacy hardly lower than those of Hildebrand or Boniface VIII.-had stood alone against Europe in favour of the Jesuits, as the great champions of the Papacy and of Catholicism ; he had approved the saying uttered by, or attributed to, their inflexible general, Lorenzo Ricci, on the proposition to appoint a vicar of the order in France : “Sint ut sunt, aut non sint.' He had threatened an interdict against the Duke of Parma. The duke, strong in the support of the kings of France, Spain, and

* As to a passage connected with this business, on which M. C. Joly in peaches the accuracy of M. de St. Priest, that writer has adopted the very language of the French ambassador at Rome, M. d'Aubeterre. When the Spanish Jesuits, to the number of 6,000, had been suddenly seized, crowded into small vessels, more like slave-ships than transports, with hardly any provisions, and under orders to discharge them at once upon the Papal territory, the Pope, indignant at this insult, added to injustice and cruelty, and fearing the famine which this sudden importation might cause among his people, issued directions to warn off the Spanish ressels by turning the guns of Cività Vecchia against them. The general of the Order had acquiesced in this hard necessity. The Jesuits, thus as it seemed to them inhospitably driven from those shores by their natural protectors, broke out, according to M. d'Aubeterre, in loud murmurs, clamours, even curses against the Pope and their own superior. And is it prirû facie improbable that some, that many of these poor, starved, sickness-suffering men, under a blazing sun, heaped together like bales of Africans in the middle passage, could not control their natural indignation, forgot that they were Jesuits, and remembered that they were men? Or shall we say that all this was not pardonable eren in monks inured to the most ontire and prostrate submissiveness?

Naples, replied in a tone of haughty defiance; these powers threatened, and, indeed, commenced hostilities. Maria Theresa, to whom alone the Pope could look for succour, coldly refused to involve herself in a war for such an unworthy object. Clement XIII. (writes M. St. Priest) était un pape du douzième siècle égaré dans le dix-huitième.' On February 9, 1769, broken-hearted, as it is said, at the prostrate state of the Papacy, he was released from this perilous strife.

On the 13th of the same month met that Conclave, the secrets of which M. Crétineau Joly professes to reveal with a damning distinctness—impelled, in spite of all remonstrances, to drag to light with remorseless conscientiousness all the base manæuvres, intrigues, acts and threats of violence, corruptions, venalities, simonies, and weaknesses which disgraced that august assembly. We, who in the course of our historical studies have caught glimpses, at least, if not clear revelations of the proceedings of other conclaves, contemplate his picture (as we have already hinted) without the anticipated surprise. From those days, centuries before the election was vested in the College of Cardinals, when the heathen historian describes the streets of Rome as running with blood in the contest between Damasus and Urcisinus—from the days when Theodoric the Ostrogoth and the Exarch of Ravenna were compelled to interpose in order to maintain the peace of the capital-down through the wild tumults of the ninth and tenth centuries—the succession of Popes at Avignon, appointed by the court of France—the frequent collisions of pope and anti-pope, till the Councils of Pisa and Constance took on themselves to decide between three infallible heads of Christendom the less violent but not less antagonistic struggles of the great European powers to obtain a pontiff in the French, or Spanish, or Austrian interest. throughout the papal history, in a word, the election of the Bishop of Rome has been the centre either of fierce conflict or subtle diplomatic negotiation. All the great Roman Catholic States were now leagued together for one end--the abolition of the Jesuits; to this they were solemnly pledged by their own

irrevocable acts, by their pride, and by their fears-it might be by a strong conviction as to the wisdom of their policy, as well as by that hatred which becomes more intense from its partial gratification, and from the lurking suspicion of the injustice with which it has wreaked itself on its victim. We have read, therefore, these disclosures with considerable equanimity; it moves no wonder that, at such a juncture, such scenes should take place within the venerable walls of the Monte Cavallo; we feel neither less nor more respect for the Papal See. Still, though without actual astonishment, we cannot trace without a lively curiosity, day by day, the acts of a Roman Conclave, the struggle of interests, the play of passions, the lights and shades of opposed characters, the tentative processes, the bold hazards, the skilful advances—the adroit proposal of names without pretensions, to cover the real intentions as to more hopeful candidates—the well or ill-timed exclusions—the artful approximations—the slow or sudden conversions—till at length some almost instantaneous impulse or audacious movement decides the game : till from all this conflict of subtletiessometimes, we fear, of worse than subtleties-emerges a supreme father of Roman Catholic Christendom; in later days, we are very ready to acknowledge, a pontiff always blameless in character and unimpeachable as to his own religion, usually venerable, respected, and beloved.

This Conclave was, of course, divided on the one great question of the day. There was, as there usually has been, a strong Italian party, and these, the friends and supporters of the late Pope, were called the Zelanti. They were mostly stern ultramontanists, determined to maintain the Jesuits at all hazards : the heads of this party were the two Cardinals Albani. The adverse or anti-Jesuit interest, which combined the Cardinals of France, Spain, and Naples, was at first, before the arrival of the Spanish electors, headed by De Luynes and De Bernis, especially by the latter. It is from the correspondence of Bernis, and of the French ambassador D’Aubeterre, with strong confirmations from that of Roda, the Spanish ambassador, that we are about to discover the secrets of this prison-house.

« PreviousContinue »