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the Romans learned that he was dead, “it was an incredible pleasure and contentment to them; the fact being, that he was universally disliked by the whole Court, because his Holiness differed much from the greatness, magnificence, and splendour which his more immediate predecessors were wont to manifest in the pontificate, though he was, in truth, more inclined to those good qualities which one is wont to seek and look for in the elections of the Popes in the primitive ages of the Church.” * The writer goes on to relate how, on one occasion, when the architrave of the doorway of the Sistine Chapel fell just as the Pope was entering, killing some of those around him, while he very narrowly escaped, a certain prelate amongst those present scrupled not to curse Fortune and inveigh aloud against the ill fate which had saved the Pope from destruction. Nor, adds the writer, “was that prelate in any way blamed for his words by the cardinals who heard him, but was rather praised and petted for them. So that this holy man was little fitted for governing worldly affairs."
Thirty cardinals went into Conclave on the proper day after the death of Adrian. A large portion of them were young men, the creations principally of Leo X., who had no pretentions to the Papacy. But there were among them four men, the bearers of great names, the heads of powerful factions, and each anxious to be Pope, and with claims to the throne equal to those of his rivals. These were Pompeo Colonna, Alessandro Farnese, Giulio de' Medici, and Francesco Orsini. Among
• “Conclavi de' Romani Pontifici," vol. i. p. 194.
these, the favourites—to use the word in its turf sensewere Colonna and Medici. Medici, however, the con clavist writes who has left a narrative of this election " was in truth the more powerful, from the great number of cardinals who followed him; as, indeed, might naturally be expected from the fact of his kinsman's unscrupulously partizan papacy having so recently come to a conclusion. Colonna, on the other hand, had all the more strictly Roman world in his favour, as well as the strong prudential consideration arising from the fact that he was known to be in close relations with the Emperor Charles V. Upon the whole, the older members of the College were for Colonna, the younger for Medici. In the beginning of the Conclave, at the first scrutiny, Colonna had more votes than Medici, and had, indeed, nearly been elected, two votes only having been wanting to him to make the twenty necessary for an election in a Conclave of thirty. Now Colonna and Orsini were well known to hate each other bitterly; which was quite as naturally and inevitably the case as that cats and dogs should hate each other. They had been the Montagues and Capulets of Rome for many generations, and enmity was traditional between all the numerous members of either family. And Orsini had a compact little party of his own in the Conclave. Medici, therefore, fearing the result of a contest with Colonna, and alleging the urgent necessity of not prolonging the interregnum and the Conclave, declared his intention of bringing it to an end by giving his support and that of all his friends to Orsini ; for he doubted not that, while this hope would prevent any of Orsini's friends from deserting him—
Medici—it would be impossible for Colonna to obtain the necessary majority among his own followers. And, on the other hand, he felt perfectly sure that Colonna would rather see him (Medici) Pope than an Orsini.
When this was reported to Colonna, he set to work actively to procure the exclusion of Orsini, declaring that he would be content with any election that might be made save that one. Eleven voters, on whom he could perfectly depend, would suffice to render the election of Orsini impossible, and so many he was, he thought, able to command. But votes are given secretly. Should an election not be accomplished in that scrutiny for which they are tendered, the names of the givers are never known. And should an election be effected, the value of treason which has availed to make a Pope is apt to be so highly assessed by him who has profited by it, that defection from him who might have been, but is not, Pope, is not likely to count for much. In the state of dead-lock to which this policy of De' Medici had brought the Conclave, an attempt was made to elect Farnese, who was popular in Rome and with the members of the Sacred College. There was no very valid or ostensible ground for refusing to join in such an election, and the heads of the other parties were obliged to pretend that the welfare of the Church, and, pro tanto, the speedy election of a due and fitting successor to the Papacy, were the main and paramount objects they had in view; and for a moment it seemed likely that Farnese would have carried the day. He did succeed, as we know, at the next election, ten years subsequently, and then held the Papacy for fifteen years. But he always was wont to say that Giulio de' Medici had robbed him of ten years of his reign !
Meanwhile, the days went on; scrutinies took place twice every day, and continued to give results not very much varying from each other, and all equally futile. The Conclave had lasted more than a month; and indications of the discontent of the people and of the Roman world generally, at the prolongation of the interregnum, were made to reach the cardinals in their retreat. And still Colonna, though perfectly sincere in his declaration that he would rather see De' Medici, or any other member of the Sacred College, in St. Peter's Chair, than his hereditary foe, Orsini ; and fully decided to give his support to the Medicean cardinal, if there was no hope of placing himself there; could not yet quite bring himself to believe that there was no such possibility. The contest, in short, between Colonna, Orsini, and De' Medici, had assumed very much of similitude to a game of brag; with, however, the additional complicating and disturbing element,—that there was a continual danger, a danger of every day and every hour, that the cardinals who were not mainly and personally interested in the elevation of either of the three great rivals, might suddenly and secretly coalesce and make a Pope of their own, Farnese probably, or possibly even some outsider, whom nobody had seriously thought of. That “adoration” plan of making a Pope was such a dangerous thing, and so difficult to be guarded against ! The thing might be done by sudden impulse, in a moment, without any warning, except such as was afforded by observing any unusual and suspicious gathering together
of cardinals! And then, if such a thing were to happen, the disadvantage of having taken no part in it was obvious and much to be avoided.
Still Colonna, though he had caused it to be whispered to De' Medici that he was ready to give him his vote and interest, rather than that Orsini should be elected, was not willing to give up; and in order to gain time, and at the same time to make it appear that he was really anxious to bring the injurious prolongation of the Conclave to an end, caused his followers to put forward sundry other candidates whom he knew well would not have the necessary majority of votes. One of these, the Cardinal di Santiquattro, however, was very nearly elected in this manner, and instances are not wanting in the history of the Conclaves of precisely similar accidents having happened.
But one morning, when this sort of work had been going on for nearly fifty days, De' Medici determined on a plan to make Colonna declare himself one way or another. Having caused his friends to assemble in the vicinity of Orsini's cell, he himself paid a visit to his rival, and so contrived as to come out of the cell, he and Orsini together, and the latter apparently in high good humour and jovial mood. They walked towards the great hall, and a crowd of the special friends of either following them. Care had, moreover, been taken that all this should be breathlessly reported to Colonna on the instant. “At last, we are going to elect a Pope!” cried De' Medici in a loud voice as Colonna came out of his cell. “Are you going to elect Orsini ?” asked one of Colonna's friends of one of those who were following