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of the electors to secure his election, the knot of supporters who were bent on making him Pope, finding it very difficult to meet for the concocting of their ulterior plans in any corner of the space enclosed for the Conclave (very far inferior in accommodation of all sorts to that provided in later times) where they would be safe from the danger of interruption, betook themselves to a certain inconveniently small and otherwise disagreeable but sufficiently remote and private apartment. Thereall the conspirators mutually bound themselves by oath,, and the would-be Pope promised to each benefices and offices and appointments in the provinces! "And a very fitting place it was," concludes the narrator, "for the election of such a Pope, seeing conventions and bargains so base and so foul could not have been prepared and accepted in a spot more adapted to them!"
This notable meeting took place at midnight, but before the morning the fact that it had taken place and the general nature of the bargains made at it had become known to all in the Conclave. One of his friends came to the Cardinal of Siena at a very early hour, and warned him that the Pope was as good as made, and counselled him to go at once and offer his vote and interest to the French Cardinal (Rouen). But JEneas not only absolutely refused, with the greatest disdain, to do anything towards the election of such a man, but spoke so forcibly that he induced the friend who had come to counsel him to abandon his own intention. He went to several others of the midnight conspirators, and by the sheer force of his eloquence made them ashamed of their promises, and determined them to break them. The main arguments he used were the exceedingly bad character of the French Cardinal, and the danger that he might again remove the seat of the Holy See to France, and fill the Sacred College with Frenchmen, so that it might become impossible that it should ever return to Italy.
At the scrutiny of that morning it so chanced that the Cardinal de Eouen was one of those scrutators who Teceived the votes at the altar. His agitation was excessive; and when the Cardinal of Siena, whom he knew to be his most dangerous rival, stepped up to the altar to put the paper containing his vote into the chalice, he lost all sense of dignity or decorum, and was mean enough to say, as his rival passed him, "iEneas, have compassion on me! Be kind to me! Do not forget me!" "Words," says the chronicler, "truly rash and inconsiderate, specially as they were spoken when the vote that had been written could no longer be changed. But his longing blinded him and made him lose his head." "What!" replied Piccolomini, "appeal to a worm like me!" When the votes had been counted— every name that he was compelled to utter being a dagger thrust in the heart of his Eminence of Eouen— it was found that Piccolomini had nine votes and the French Cardinal only three! The blow was a terrible one. But nothing was yet lost or won; for twelve votes were needed to make the election, and the Cardinal of Eouen and his supporters were by no means willing to despair. Unless at least three of their own friends deserted them Piccolomini could not be elected.
Then commenced a sitting to see whether an election could be made, as in the last Conclave, by accession. The pause for this purpose is ordinarily occupied by busy talk and negotiations, but upon this occasion the tension appears to have been too great to admit of this. "They all sat,'' says the narrator of the scene, evidently an eye-witness, and in all probability a conclavist, "pale and silent, in a sort of amazement, and as if beside themselves. No one of them dared to speak or to open his mouth, or so much as to stir a finger, or any other part of the person save the eyes, which rolled around, now on this side of the meeting, now on that. The dead silence was wonderful. Wonderful, too, was the aspect and appearance of all of them as they sat like so many statues, not a sound or a movement to be heard; and so they remained for a while, the juniors in the College waiting for the seniors to begin their work of the accessus. At length Eoderigo, the Vice-Chancellor (he who afterwards became Alexander VI.), rose and said, 'I join the party of iEneas!' The word stabbed the Cardinal of Eouen to the heart to such a degree that he was like one dead. Then a second silence fell upon the assembly, while each looked in his neighbour's face with expressions produced by the conviction that Piccolomini was already as good as Pope. Then the Cardinal of San Sisto and another rose, and, making an excuse for leaving the room, went out, in the hope of avoiding instant defeat by breaking up the assembly, but finding that no man followed them, they shortly returned to their seats. Then James, Cardinal of Santa Anastasia, got up and said 'I too accede to the Cardinal of Siena.' (This, it will be observed, was. the eleventh vote given for Piccolomini. One more only was needed to make the required majority of two-thirds of the Conclave.) Again a thrill of agitation ran through the whole assembly! They seemed like men in a maze and without power of speech! Then, at length, the Cardinal Prospero Colonna (he who had once so very nearly been made Pope himself) rose, and promising himself the glory of giving the Papacy, was about to record his vote. Pausing, however, a moment in order to do so with becoming gravity, he was at that moment seized by the cardinals of Nice and Eouen, one on each side of him, and violently reproached by them with the intention of giving his vote to the Cardinal of Siena; but when they found that they could not divert him from his purpose, they strove to drag him from his place by main force,* and one taking him by the right arm and one by the left they struggled to force him out of the assembly. But in the midst of all this, Colonna, who, although he had at the first scrutiny given his vote to his Eminence of Eouen, was an old friend of JEneas Sylvius, turning his head towards the other cardinals, cried aloud, 'And I accede to the Cardinal of Siena, and thus make him Pope !'"
The deed was done, and neither persuasion, plotting, intrigue, or violence could thenceforth undo it! Suddenly the losing party fell back into their seats as if paralyzed. Por a minute another dead silence and stillness fell upon the assembly, and then all with a sudden rush threw themselves at the feet of the new Pontiff, and the usual confirmation of the election and adoration followed.
But the Cardinal Bcssarion thought fit to make a
* "Si sforzarono cavarlo a viva forza dal suo luogho."
speech before the assembly separated in explanation of the part which he and those who had acted with him had taken. He had all through supported the Cardinal of Eouen, and it is odd enough that he should have done so considering the characters and tendencies of all the three men—himself and the two rival candidates. He and iEneas Sylvius were essentially book-men, scholars, and held high and acknowledged rank among the learned men of Europe. The French cardinal was a thoroughly vicious and depraved man of the world, notorious for his immoralities and scandalous simony. Are wc to see in this the jealousy entertained by one celebrated scholar of another? Did some infinitesimal question of criticism, or the interpretation of a greek passage, or the relative value of the Aristotelian and Platonic philosophies (a fertile source just then of learned enmities) cause hate between those two erudite Eminences ?" Tantsene animis Eminentibus me!" The ground, however, on which Bessarion chose to motive his opposition to iEneas Sylvius was that the latter was afflicted by gout. "We, 0 Supreme Pontiff, rejoice in thy election, being well assured that it comes from God. And truly we have always in the past as well as now judged thee to be well worthy of so great an office; and if we did not give thee our votes, the reason was thy not robust health. For, afflicted as thou art by gout, we judged that that alone stood in the way of thy complete fitness for the Papacy, seeing that the Church has need of an active man, and one who fears not the fatigues of journeyings and dangers which threaten us from the Turk. Thou, on the other hand, hast need of repose; and this alone has moved us