網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

But a common misfortune, like a common failing, makes one wondrous kind and forgiving. Olympia, as has been said, had an unlimited faith in the omnipotence of money. Barberini was a fervent worshipper at the same shrine. To Olympia it was all important that a Pope should be elected who should condone her past; and Barberini was deeply interested in the election of one who would not be likely to pursue and renew the severe measures against his family to which Innocent had lent himself at the beginning of his Papacy. And Olympia had contrived, it must be supposed by the influence of the god which she trusted and placed her faith in, to make a party of friends in the Conclave, mainly, of course, among the members of the "squadrone volante."

Chigi was not the man, however, that either Barberini or Olympia would have chosen could they have had their way. But though strong enough to prevent, they were not strong enough to secure the election of a Pope. And this is the most constantly recurring phenomenon in the history of the Conclaves. No party, no person, is ever able to obtain that the person they wish to make the Pope becomes such. Each party has to limit his hopes to the exclusion of such candidates as are especially obnoxious to him. And at last the efforts of the strongest party leader in the Conclave content themselves with securing the election of him who stands perhaps the fifth or sixth on their list drawn up in order of preference, who may probably also be sixth or seventh on the list of a rival party. Thus the majority of the Popes have been elected by force of pis aller.

In the Conclave of which we are now speaking, it was discovered at an early day, to the entire conviction of all who understood the work they were about, that no Pope could be elected against the will of Barberini. The question was, not whether that will should be set aside, but to what extent it should be allowed to prevail. The French interest was powerful; and it was this struggle which caused the Conclave to be of unusual length, at least for recent times. It lasted over three months, at the end of which the "squadrone volante," with the acquiescence and help of Barberini, elected Fabio Chigion the 7th of April, 1655.

As so much has been said of Donna Olympia Pamfili, and her influence was so largely felt in the Conclave, this chapter may be concluded by giving in a few words the end of her story. As Chigi was one of the "creatures" of Innocent, and was considered a moderate man, it was thought that he would not be likely to molest the sisterin-law, favourite, and governante of his old patron. It never seems to have occurred to her or her friends that the new Pope might demand a strict account from her merely from considerations of abstract right and justice. She was among the first to compliment him on his accession, and at an early day asked for an audience. The answer was not calculated to reassure her. Alexander sent her word that it was not his intention to receive ladies except on important matters of business. Still she determined not to give up the game, and repeated her application to be allowed to speak with his Holiness with increased urgency; but she only obtained the still more alarming reply that "Donna Olympia had had but too much conversation with Popes,

and that she must understand that things would henceforth be very different."

So much time elapsed, however, before any step was taken with regard to her, that Olympia began to hope that she would be left alone with her enormous hoards. But Alexander, unwilling to incur the blame of acting passionately or hastily upon the subject, was listening to the innumerable proofs of her ill-doings, and quietly making up his mind on the matter. Suddenly an order reached her to quit Eome within three days, and to be at Orvieto within eight. It came upon her like a thunderbolt, for she felt that it was the beginning of the end.

A commissary was sent after her thither to require a strict account from her of all the State moneys that had passed into her hands, immediate restitution of the jewels and other valuables carried off by her from the Vatican, and her answer to the innumerable charges against her of selling offices, benefices, and pardons. She answered by general denials, and by asserting that whatever money had passed into her hands had been paid over to her by Innocent. The next step, it was expected, would have been her imprisonment. But at this stage of the business an unexpected and terrible ally stepped in to save, not the wretched woman herself, but at least her infamously gotten wealth to the Pamfili family. This ally was the pestilence, which invaded Italy, and specially Eome, with such violence, that it threw other matters into abeyance by concentrating on itself all the care and attention of Alexander and his government.

But the pestilence, which thus saved her money-bags, did not spare her to the enjoyment of them, for on its appearance in Orvieto Olympia was one of the first victims.

No further steps were taken by the Government in the matter; and Camillo Pamfili, her son, inherited quietly the almost incredible sums she had amassed. It was said that, besides the vast estates she had acquired, and an immense amount of precious stones and gold uncoined, more than two millions of crowns in money were found in her coffers!

CHAPTER IV.

Fabio Cbigi, Alexander VII.—His character.—His modified nepotism. —Difficulty of entirely abolishing nepotism.—Changing characteristics of the Papacy.—Dispute at the death-bed of Alexander.— Eospigliosi elected Pope as Clement IX.—His Character.—The fluctuations in the population of Eome.—Curious Connection between these phenomena and the decrease of nepotism.—Mixed motivo of the Electors in the Conclaves of this Period.—Complaints of the decline of religion and morality in Eome.—Qualities now sought for in a Pontiff.—Innocent XI. a really capable financier. —Conclave which elected Clement X.

Fabio Chigi had been all his life a well-conditioned ecclesiastic, of decent conduct, doing his duty in that state of life to which it had pleased God to call him, and doing it well according to his lights and the lights of the times in which he lived. He was a well-read, active-minded man, of industrious and active habits, and had gained a reputation for moderation, practical wisdom, and sagacity. Some of these good qualities he retained as Pope. The influences of power and pomp, or the declining energies of advancing age, or both these causes, seem to have deprived him of others. His private conduct continued to be all that could be desired in a dignified ecclesiastic, and his pleasures were such as were suitable to that character. He began his Papacy, too, with all that vigour of good intentions which has been proverbially likened to the action of new brooms. He would have no nepotism! He forbade

z

« 上一頁繼續 »