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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
himself, and to make known his demands to the person proposed for election. It is very seldom that a cardinal who wants but this one step to become Pope refuses to agree to whatever may be required of him !
Such were the general views entertained by the statesmen of that day as to the proceedings of a Conclave. They are important as enabling us to judge whether any very extraordinary means were adopted in 1769.
The special instructions to Bernis dwelt on the passionate and fanatic counsels followed by Clement XIII. (whose sincere piety and upright intentions are acknowledged), which had compelled France, Spain, the Two Sicilies, Portugal, and Venice to assert their rights of sovereignty. “The king has no decided plan as to the elevation of any pontiff: his exclusive is only to be used in case the voices should seem likely to be united in favour of some cardinal, whose personal prejudices, particular affections, and blind and imprudent zeal might render his administration dangerous, if not pernicious and fatal to religion and to the tranquillity of the Catholic states-of this number are the Cardinals Torregiani, Boschi, Buonaccorsi, and Castelli.'
The first object of Bernis was to obtain an Exclusive—sixteen voices. He commanded ten'; six Neapolitans, two French, two Spaniards; and hoped to obtain six more at least among the following: Yorke, Lante, the two Corsinis, Ganganelli, Guglielmi, Malvezzi, Pallavicini, Pozzobonelli, and Colonna. The two latter, as well as Colonna's brother the Prince, had large possessions in the kingdom of Naples, and would not, it was thought, vote for a Pope unacceptable to that court.
But already D'Aubeterre began to develop his more decided views. He suggested to De Bernis that he should make the abolition of the Jesuits a preliminary condition. “A cardinal before he is Pope lends himself willingly to anything in order to become Pope ; there are many instances of this kind of bargain. We must insist on this point alone and reserve all others. We must have a written promise, or, if that is refused,
a verbal promise in the presence of witnesses.'—P. 219. Bernis shrunk from this bold measure; D’Aubeterre insists that, as it only concerns the secularization of a religious order, it cannot be considered an unlawful covenant. He recommends Bernis to consult Ganganelli, one of the most celebrated theologians of the day, who had never been suspected of lax moral principles : j'espère que peut-être il rapprocherait de mon sentiment. “No dependence can be placed on what a Pope may do after he is elected, if he is not bound down before.'-P. 220,
Bernis thus describes to Choiseul the persons with whom he has to deal: “The Sacred College was never composed of more pious or edifying persons—but their ignorance and narrowness are extreme.' He could not make them comprehend what was necessary to prevent them from compromising the Holy See with the Powers of Europe. “Their whole politics are confined within the walls of Monte Cavallo. Daily intrigue is their sole occupation, and, unhappily for the peace of the Church, their only knowledge.' He writes to D'Aubeterre—Le plus grand de tous est de choisir un Pape qui ait la tête assez large et assez bien faite pour sacrifier les petites considérations aux grandes. Mais où est-il ce Pape ? Où est le Secrétaire d'État supérieur aux misères locales de ce pays-ci ? Je le cherche en vain.'—D'Aubeterre had flattered Bernis in his hope of being Cardinal Secretary of State himself.—Je ne trouve que quelques nuances de plus ou de moins dans la médiocrité des uns et des autres : car il ne faut pas s'y tromper, on gagnera plus sur l'objet intéressant des Jésuites avec un homme fort qu'avec un homme faible, pourvu qu'il ne soit fanatique.' At that time Bernis seems to have apprehended that the other parties were uniting in favour of Fantuzzi; if so, Fantuzzi must have secret dealings with the Jesuits.' He speaks favourably of Calvachini, who is ten years too old;' and, as we shall see hereafter, of Ganganelli. His great difficulty was to keep his colleague De Luynes quiet :- Je n'effarouche personne, et j'ai (Dieu merci) persuadé au Cardinal de Luynes de ne point trop agir et parler. Dans le fond c'est un honnête homme, et qui
sera toujours ce que le roi voudra, excepté ce que nous ne pourrons pas faire sans nous déshonorer in sæcula seculorum.'
The Spaniards still delayed; they had given hopes that they would make the speedier journey by sea. They took fright, or pretended to take fright, at the sight of the Mediterranean, and began their tardy progress by land ; but Bernis had now made great way towards an Exclusive. He had flattered the older Corsini into a pledge to play the part assigned him; Lante had promised his voice ; Conte spoke little, but favourably; he was enchanted with Malvezzi.
An interview (on April 18) with the leaders of the Zealots, of which Alexander and John Francis Albani were the spokesmen, did not pass off so easily. After a long discussion about the Jesuits, both parties seem to have lost their temper, and high words ensued, not over seemly in a conclave. "We should be all equal here,' said Bernis ; "we sit in this assembly by the same title.' The old Alexander Albani lifted up his red capNo, your Eminence, we are not here by the same title; this berrettino was not placed on my head by a courtezan.' The allusion to Madame de Pompadour, according to our author, silenced De Bernis, who took his revenge by making Orsini drop some significant hints to the old fox,'as to the uncertain tenure of his estates in the kingdom of Naples.
According to M. Crétineau Joly there was an underplot. A certain Dufour, described as an agent or spy of Choiseul, acting in concert with the Jansenists and philosophers (a strange and impossible alliance which haunts the imagination of M. Crétineau), had proposed, three years before the vacancy, to secure the election by a summary process, no less than downright straightforward bribery. The passage must be given entire :
Sans que personne puisse soupçonner la moindre chose, on arrivera au point de se rendre maître du futur Conclave. Les cardinaux français auront la liste des amis et ne feront que les observer. On pourrait ajouter au marché fait avec eux que l'argent ne sera délivré qu'après le Conclave, et que sur la parole du Cardinal chargé des instructions de la
Cour; que de plus, la somme de ... sera ajoutée à la somme principale pour chaque suffrage que l'ami aura procuré; mais avec cette condition, que le Cardinal chargé des instructions de la Cour en sera convaincu, et que celui qu'on aura procuré n'aura
pas auparavant assuré.
This last provision against a cardinal being twice bought is exquisite. But after all we have some suspicion of this same Dufour, who seems to us not improbably a meddling intriguer, anxious to make himself an agent, not with any trust or commission from Choiseul or any one else. Choiseul, it is admitted, declined this unsafe and expensive course; it was taken up, however, by the Spanish Court, and its ministers (for the cardinals were even now not yet arrived) had instructions accordingly from Madrid. Azparu obeyed, Azara betrayed the secret to Bernis. Bernis' objections are capital —
As to the idée abandonnée, surely you have bethought yourself that such matters are safely entrusted to one individual alone (and one who you know beforehand has no scruples), and not to five cr six different ministers, and consequently to five or six secretaries; to five cardinals, some of them still friends of those whom we wish to destroy. Who is the ecclesiastic imprudent enough (even if he approve of the measure) to entrust his honour to the discretion of so many persons ?
Affairs did not proceed ; day after day passed in plots and counter-plots, intrigues and counter-intrigues ; April wore away. No less than a miracle, says Bernis, can settle a business in which so many are engaged. The great point, the plain, positive, signed and sealed and witnessed covenant to abolish the Jesuits, was too uncanonical, too simoniacal, at least for the arts of Bernis. He himself felt or affected scruples. D'Aubeterre plies him with theological authorities, which he had industriously obtained from some unknown quarter. Bernis suggests, that if a cardinal were capable of making so simoniacal a bargain, he might perhaps be capable of breaking it. Matters do not seem to have been mended by the sudden activity of Cardinal de Luynes, who in his correspondence (tout gastronomique) had hitherto stood aloof from business. He too caught the fever of intrigue, and bestirred himself in a combined attack