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he was accordingly contented to accede to that of Altieri. Meanwhile one of those curious little accidents which often produced large results in the semi-obscurity and studied silence of the Conclave world, where the echo of a whisper in circulating through those mysterious corridors frequently did more than any loud-voiced announcement might have effected, reduced to nothing the chances of Odeschalchi, on whom just previously to the final decision of the Conclave the voices of the electors seemed to have been on the point of concentrating themselves. Cardinal Eazzi one evening, while he was under the hands of his barber, and was chatting the while with his conclavist, said, puzzling out the probabilities of the upshot in his own mind rather than intending to make an assertion, that Spinola would be the Pope. The conclavist soon betrayed what he conceived to have been a secret confided to him, and the statement very shortly came to Spinola's ears. He immediately rushed to Eazzi's cell and implored him "for heaven's sake not to place him in a discreditable position by attributing to him pretensions and expectations which he was far from entertaining, and which were wholly out of the question." Eazzi was taken aback, and, not knowing how to excuse himself, declared that what he had said was that "Odeschalchi would be the new Pope," making the statement in a way which led to the supposition that he was in the secret of the real wishes of the Spanish party. And this had contributed, at a period of the Conclave when all began to feel the necessity of putting an end to it, to recommend the election of Odeschalchi to many. Put almost immediately afterwards there came a communication from the ambassador of Spain, bearing a strong remonstrance to the cardinals from the King his master on their protracted delay, and urging them, laying aside the supposed wishes of any crowned head, to exercise their unquestioned right and elect independently any fit and proper person, adding that the King was the more scandalized at the delay from reports that had reached him to the effect that "a certain number of the cardinals, called the 'squadrone,' would not consent to any election from motives of private interest."
The conclavist's account of the result of this communication is remarkable. "The Conclave became on a sudden a gathering of dumb men!" All talking and intriguing for this or that candidate ceased. The elders felt that the time was come when the business must be brought to a conclusion, and the younger men professed their readiness to follow the lead of their elders. At the same time reports came to the Conclave (how, we are not told; but the fact is mentioned in the most matter of course way possible, and it shows how great a farce the isolation theory had become) that there was a great outcry throughout Eome against the election of Odeschalchi; and it is intimated that this was by no means without influence upon the purposes of the electors. So it appears, therefore, that not only were those shut up in Conclave aware of what was being thought and said in Eome, but that those outside the hermetically sealed Conclave walls were instructed—in a certain degree—of what was passing inside them.
Thus gradually Altieri became designated as the man against whom the least amount of objection could bo found. One evening Altieri chanced to look in on Cardinal Eazzi in his cell, and the latter offered him some refreshment. Altieri drank a glass of water, and filled his glass again. Upon which Eazzi's conclavist ventured to caution his Eminence, remarking that the water he was drinking was exceedingly cold. Altieri replied that he was of robust constitution, and that icy drinks agreed with him; whereupon the conclavist took occasion to wish that such a constitution might give the world a long Papacy. Altieri left the cell, smiling, as was thought, significantly. The writer of the narrative, which has been preserved, however gives a different interpretation to the smile, believing that Altieri was far from expecting or desiring the Papacy. Unless indeed he deems the self-depreciatory speeches and papari nolo shrinking of the octogenarian, when the cardinals came to his cell to announce their resolution of electing him, to have been mere matter-of.course dissimulation and hypocrisy.
The thing was settled at last at a conference between Barberini and Chigi, while, according to the conclavist, a great many of the younger cardinals still thought that Odeschalchi was the man they were going to elect. Having, however, agreed on the course they were about to take, those two chiefs went round to their adherents, and it was understood that there was to be an 11 adoration" the next morning. It is remarkable, however, that even during that night and the few intervening hours before the "adoration" could take place, an extraordinary degree of secrecy seems to have been observed. Even though all, or nearly so, were told what was in hand, they were told it as a profound secret. It seems as if each man was allowed to know that the head of his faction had resolved to vote for Altieri, and that an attempt to elect him was to be made, but that he was not permitted to know that it was a settled and wellnigh certain thing. And the reason of this was probably the fear that such a knowledge might have led to the attempted formation of some new combination during the night by malcontents.
All, however, passed in perfect quiet. On the evening of the 28th of April tidings were conveyed to the ambassadors of the Powers to the effect that the Pope would in all probability be elected the next morning, in the person of an hitherto unproposed candidate, against whom no objection of any sort could be found. The same night also the relatives of the proposed candidate "received notice that they would do well to pray to the Divine Majesty for the election of his Eminence Altieri." And the next morning Clement X. was made Pope, despite his own declarations of his insufficiency, and his recommendations of other names (whom he must have perfectly well known could not be by any possibility elected), by a perfectly orderly and unanimous "adoration."
Before quitting the subject of this selected specimen of the Conclaves of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, I may give the reader a rather amusing anecdote of the man perhaps the best known to history of all the purple figures in that gathering. Cardinal de Eetz was among their Eminences, active for evil in some way we may be very sure, although our conclavist does not speak of him save to correct a certain report current in Home respecting him. It was commonly said that he went about the Conclave by night in a mask, and that his fellow cardinals had been much scandalized by the practice. The conclavist, however, assures us that he had had opportunities of observing him very closely on such occasions, and that his Eminence wore no mask properly so called, but a pair of spectacles with a certain garniture attached to them, which might easily be mistaken for a mask! As if De Eetz needed any mask, even among Italian cardinals, save his own features!