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easiest-tempered man that could be met with. And these are the qualities which seem mainly to have caused his elevation to the Papacy. Clement IX. was the first Pope for a very long time who could not be accused in any degree of nepotism. A fair share of preferment fell to his relatives, and the Rospigliosi became greatly enriched, but mainly by a rich marriage with a Genoese Pallavicini heiress. Cardinal Chigi was not even displaced from his position of Minister of State, and his advice and representations were, as Ranke remarks, almost as much attended to by Clement as they had been by Alexander.
The same historian gives from a MS. in the Barberini library an extremely curious statement of the population of Rome at various dates about this period, which illustrates in a very remarkable manner one of the results of this cessation of nepotism on a large scale, and of that successive persecution of one family by another which arose from it. The facts are given in tabular form as follows:
Now the curious fact in this statement is, that while the number of the population varies in a very capricious manner, the increase in the number of families is constant and steady. And the explanation of so singular an anomaly is to be found in the diminution in the numbers of mere adventurers-ecclesiastical, and consequently bachelor, seekers of fortune—and the continual increase in the number of permanent and settled citizens. And this change is unquestionably the result of a cessation of the state of things, when at every demise of the tiara everybody was turned out from his position, and the whole field was open to the hopes and ambitions of new comers. A constant movement of coming and going was thus produced, which accounts for the apparently capricious variations in the population; while the steady, though by no means rapid increase in the number of families indicates the greater degree of stability of those who for any reason had once fixed their residence in Rome.
While the general character of the Conclaves, beginning from about the middle of the seventeenth century, shows a very marked and increasing improvement, not only in external decency, but in a real sense of the paramount duty of electing a successor to the throne of St. Peter who might be hoped to turn out a ruler devoted to and calculated to secure the interests of the Church, these aims were not so unanimously understood, and these motives were not so unmixed with others, that were in some of the electors secondary and in not a few even primary, as to render the choice of the Pontiff and the management of the Conclave a simple matter. On the contrary, the increased numbers of the Sacred College, in the first place; the increased number of soggetti papabili, which was the natural result of an age when at least decency of ecclesiastical conduct had become common, and when a fair character, a reasonable amount of talent for business, and industry in the transaction of it, were held to confer a right to aspire to the tiara, in the second place; thirdly, the infinitely increased number of wires and wire-pullers produced by an age when audacious violence was no longer the order of the day, when the interests of all European States had become much more complicated and bound up together, and diplomacy was universally understood to signify dissimulation and craft; and lastly, the increased number and variety of the considerations which went to the choosing of a really good and fitting Pope—all tended to complicate the business of the Conclaves. The outlines which mark the doings within them become less bold and distinct. They are finer, more intricate, more constantly crossing each other, and more blurred by the secrecy and frequently unavowed nature of the motives of the actors.
I have said that the amount of virtue to be found in the Sacred College about the period of which we are speaking had greatly increased. And, indeed, I think that the remark might have been made of an epoch beginning somewhat earlier—from the beginning of the seventeenth century perhaps. But I find the narrator of the Conclave which elected Clement X. in 1670 complaining in no measured terms of the exceeding wickedness of the Roman world—of its avarice, luxury, worldliness, and above all of its irreligion. But such complaints will be recognised by those who have the history of that century and its neighbouring centuries before their eyes, instead of the immediate view of the life around them, as evidences of that improvement which a
sense of the necessity of improvement always implies. But the writer, who seems to have composed one division of his narration previously to, and in anticipation of, the Conclave, says much, in a curious exposition of the qualities of the possible candidates—the papabili—and the motives that may be expected to influence the electors, of some considerations of an order entirely new in the history of the Papacy and the Conclaves. No quality has hitherto seemed to all the persons concerned, including the historians of the Conclaves, to give so good a title to aspirations to the tiara as a reputation for boundless “liberality.” A Pope who would open wide his hand, and fling the exhaustless treasures of the Church broadcast over all the open-mouthed expectants high and low who were gaping for them—this was the man Rome and the Holy See wanted. But the narrator of the Conclave which elected Clement IV. in 1670 has a singularly changed note. What is wanted is, almost above all else, an economical Pope—one who will not squander the revenues of the Church either by spending or giving. The character which more than one of the soggetti papabili had acquired for parsimony as a private individual is cited as no bad qualification for his election. And in truth such considerations were beginning to make themselves felt at Rome not a moment too soon. The reckless and inordinate profusion of the recent Popes, together with an absolutely ignorant and ruinous financial system, had brought the Apostolic Court almost to the verge of bankruptcy; and had it not been for the rare and little to have been expected good fortune which, six years subsequently to the time we are now
speaking of, placed a really capable financier on the Papal throne in the person of Innocent XI., that verge would infallibly have been passed.
In the two hundred years which have elapsed since the elevation of Innocent XI. till the present day, sixteen Popes, including Innocent and Pius IX., have reigned, and accounts which might be rendered both intelligible and amusing might be written of each one of the sixteen Conclaves which have elected them. But at least eight such volumes as the present would be needed for the purpose. It is out of the question, therefore, that any such attempt should be made. To give, however, such a mere statement of names, votes, and the results of them as could be given within any reasonable limits, would be neither intelligible to any good purpose nor amusing, but on the contrary intolerably tedious. It has seemed better, therefore, to endeavour to treat this Conclave which elected Clement X. with some little degree of detail, taking it as a specimen of the sort of elections which have prevailed under the new conditions which the changed face of things in Europe had imposed on the Papacy.