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Art. I. 1. Vita apologetica della Santa Memoria del Somno
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of the Popes has afforded in modern times: But we cannot say much for either of the publications into which it is here digested. The Italian biographer we take to be a subject of Austria,—from the great caution he has used to conceal his name, and to publish his apology beyond the limits of its territory :for that government, since the restoration of its Italian dominions, has been as jealous of the Popes, and of the liberty of the press, as Napoleon himself. In substance, the work is rather more of a panegyric than an apology. The author wishes to represent his hero as a saint: and according!y dwells chiefly on his later years, and the afflictions and humiliations which darkened his closing scene. In spite of this pathetic contrivance, however, cunning readers will probably conclude, that there must have been great faults in a reign, the details of which an apologist finds it thus advisable to suppress.
The French work is little more than a new and castigated edition of the Mémoires Secretes de la Vie de Pie VI., published at Paris in 1798, for the laudable purpose of exposing the corruptions, and recommending the subversion of the Papal government. It was reprinted, with some slight alterations, and probably with the same views, in 1807; but now that this object has been abandoned, the changes are much more considerable, and the work has assumed a more literary and less ambiVOL. XXXI. NO. 62.
tious character; most of the calumnies against the Pope, and all the indecent jokes on the rites of his religion are retrenched, and their places filled with some tolerably free stories of gay ladies and amorous ecclesiastics; which will probably answer nearly as well in promoting the sale of the work, but assuredly will neither add to the dignity, the morality, or the authentic materials of History,
We shall not attempt, therefore, to give any abstract of either of the publications before us; but shall endeavour, from other and more authentic sources of information, to which we happen to have access, to lay before our readers a short summary of the long life of Pius VI., and to determine in what degree the policy which he pursued can be held to have contributed to those great and disastrous events which signalized the later years of his Pontificate.
Angiolo Braschi, born about 1720, was the last male representative of a noble family in Cesena, the ruin of whose fortunes drove him in early youth from the place of his nativity,—which he never revisited till after his elevation to the Popedom. He followed the profession of the law for some years in Rome, with no very brilliant success, but with more reputation for subtlety than eloquence. He was at last created a Prelate by the Cardinal Rezzonico, nephew of the reigning Pope Clement XIII.,a barren and nominal dignity, and chiefly of value as designating those who are intended for more substantial preferment, The Pope had a taste for magnificence, and his nephews a strong desire to make their fortunes. Braschi was first employed as an 'architect-and afterwards made Grand Treasurer to the Church. He had some skill in architecture, but none in finance; and put himself into the hands of certain great bankers-a class of persons who never fail to prosper when a state is in want of money. On the accession of Clement XIV. (Ganganelli), the treasurer was suddenly called to account; and though he contrived, by the help of Giovanetti, to disguise his mismanagement under a formidable array of ciphers and calculations, he was immediately dismissed with more than usual harshness. The new Pope, however, could not help making him a Cardinal ; this being a l'eward, it seems, to which all who have served in the office of Treasurer are legally entitled. Fortunately for corruption and incapacity, it is a settled maxim at Rome, that to impeach any of the high functionaries of that government, would be to impeach the infallibility which is known to belong to its great head, and would consequently throw discredit on the inspired wisdom of all the successors of St Peter. Ganganelli showed his displeasure, however, by awarding a very scanty pension to the new Cardinal, whose poverty. was only made more conspicuous by the dignity of his rank, and whose actual insignificance was only cheered by dreams of his future greatness. The ex-treasurer was capable of gratitude, and was fortunate enough to inspire it. A person of the name of Gnudi, had acquired great wealth under his patronage, and now ministered to his necessities; a liberality, of which he never ceased to reap the fruits during the long ponti. ficate of his now necessitous master.
In modern as well as in antient Rome, the affectation of im. becility is often the mask of the most determined ambition ; and Braschi, in that mother-land of intrigue, appears to have acted on the model of the elder Brutus. Without counterfeiting absolute incapacity, he held out the appearance of the most contented and unpretending mediocrity. He passed his time with persons of irreproachable morals and inferior talents; and, without affecting any austerity or zeal for religion, displayed in all his conduct a quiet submission to its authority. He neither sought to distinguish himself by a passion for literature like Lambertini, nor for the arts like Rezzonico, nor for the liberality of his philosophical opinions like Ganganelli. His poverty, and the simplicity of his life, disarmed all suspicions of his ambitious designs; and while his friends predicted nothing for him but a life of quiet insignificance, his more aspiring brethren either overlooked him in silent contempt, or reckoned upon him as a safe and pliant auxiliary in their own struggles for distinction. The death of Ganganelli in 1775, and the proceedings of that Conclave which raised him to the Popedom, contrary to the wishes and intentions of most of its members, at once disclosed the objects and the fruits of this long dissimulation.
We do not presume to explain the whole mechanism of that complicated and mysterious process by which Cardinals hatch a new Pope,—as the hive, upon the demise of their sovereign, hatch a new queen bee. But some particulars, not altogether uninteresting, may be mentioned. The number of Cardinals is generally about seventy-seldom more than two or three under or over. Of these the greater part are altogether insignificant and passive, and mere tools in the hands of a few active leaders. These efficient persons again are generally divided, when a Conclave is held, into two regular factions or parties; the one consisting of those who had held office in the time of the last Pope, -the other of those who had been raised into consequence by his immediate predecessor ; for as Popes are generally elected in advanced life, their partisans survive them for a long time, and acquire, by experience and management, an influence quite equal to that which belongs to the recent possessors of authority. A third interest in conclaves, and often the most considerable of any, is that of the Foreign Cardinals, who represent the political views of the Catholic States to which they respectively belong. Since the middle of the 16th century, when the overbearing supremacy of the Holy See first began to be questioned, the Catholic powers have commonly insisted on the papal election being made, on the principle of the balance of power,--and France, Spain and Portugal have always claimed, and exercised, the power of interposing with an absolute veto against any individual nomination. It is enough to ex. clude any candidate, that the representative of any of these powers shall announce, Il mio Re non lo vuole. Austria substantially enjoys the same right, though it is not formally recognised. Since the time of Adrian VI., who was obtruded by Charles V., all the Popes have been Italians. The Cardinals, who are all settled in that country, are resolute not to give themselves a foreign master;--and the States that must otherwise contend for the preference, are generally content with the compromise. The only other general principle seems to be, that the choice shall fall on one with talent enough to save the office from degradation and abuse,-but not of that commanding genius that would defy control, or disdain assistance. Constitutionally, the Pope is a very absolute sovereign; but, in practice, he is generally but the head of an Oligarchy.
In 1775, the great question in the Catholic Church was the restoration or continued suppression of the Jesuits. That extraordinary body had no doubt become formidable to the Holy See itself;--but, on the whole, it was the decided wish, as well as the manifest interest of the Church, to restore them. They had been by far the most powerful champions of the Catholic faith, and had done the most to restore it to its antient influence and splendour ;-while no small part of the great wealth which they collected in the cities of Europe, and their great establishments in Asia and America, found its way to Rome, and helped to maintain the pomp of the Vatican, as well as to gratify the cupidity of the more powerful Cardinals. On the other hand, all the temporal princes of Europe insisted on their suppression; and Ganganelli
, probably recollecting the example of our Henry VIII., had thought it prudent to comply. He was now no inore ;-and it was the great object of the Catholic sovereigns to prevent him from being succeeded by one of greater enterprise and resolution ;-while all those who shared in the devoted and insatiable ambition of the priesthood, were