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Montalto, however, was by no means willing to concur at once in Tosco's election. He still nourished hopes of electing some one of his own special adherents. He did not, however, wish to take any step towards a formal exclusion of Tosco, and contented himself, therefore, with exacting a promise from the cardinals of his party that they would do nothing towards his election before the expiration of a delay of ten days, thinking that this would give him time to try the chances of his own special friends.
Having obtained this, Montalto had gone to bed on the night of the 15th, tranquil on the subject of Tosco's candidature, when he was suddenly waked by the noise of Aldobrandino, accompanied by all his adherents and the Spanish and French parties, coming into the corridor, where he was urging them to hurry Tosco at once into the chapel, and try for an election by "Adoration." In this conjuncture, those of the allies who were favourable to Tosco hurried to Montalto to press on him the immediate necessity of resolving on a line of action. There was great probability that the "Adoration" might succeed; and, in that case, would it be worth while for them to risk showing hostility to one so likely to be Pope merely to oppose an election, to which after all they had no strong dislike? The allies were gathered in the cell of Acquaviva, says the conclavist, in great trepidation, urgently pressing Montalto to come to a decision. He complained bitterly that they were breaking their engagement to do nothing in the matter of Tosco for ten days. In vain they pointed out to him that there was no hope of his making a Pope from among his own special adherents; that they were still willing to follow his lead; but that by their present position of indecision at so critical a moment they were only risking the election of a Pope in spite of them, when it was in their power, without any sacrifice of principle, by yielding gracefully, to take their share in the election, and by so doing make the future Pontiff their friend instead of their enemy. Those, however, who thus argued were the members of the party who had themselves no hope of or pretensions to the Papacy. The three or four among the party of the allies who each hoped that he might be the man stood by, in the words of the narrator, in icy silence, while the others were thus warmly urging Montalto, and by their reserved and cold demeanour increased the irresolution of his naturally slow and hesitating disposition. At length the urgency of the case, and the approaching voices of the crowd accompanying Aldobrandino, who seemed on the point of proceeding to the chapel to perform the "Adoration," produced symptoms of a mutiny among some of the followers of Montalto. What was the use, they said, of talking about ten days, even if there were any prospect of doing anything at the end of them, when the Pope would be made there and then before their eyes in ten minutes. They should yield to necessity, they said, and join in an act they were unable to prevent. They could still have prevented it, if every man of them had stood firm, and if each of them could have trusted all the rest. But this was just what was impossible to them. And the smallest defection was fatal; for only a voice or two was wanting to make those intent on electing Tosco a majority of the necessary amount.
Farnese and Sfondrato were standing at the door of the cell in which the rest of their colleagues had been enacting the scene described; and when they heard some voices of the party expressing their intentions as above, they adopted the strong measure of going instantly to Aldobrandino, where he stood in the midst of his followers, and inviting him to a conference with Montalto. The measure, it will be observed, was suddenly adopted without any authorisation from that Cardinal himself. Farnese and Sfondrato took each an arm of the hostile chief, and led him to the cell where Montalto and the allies were. Sfondrato took upon himself to be spokesman. They all ought to thank the Almighty, he said, who had providentially led them to agree in so excellent an election. All ought to join in it alike, and forget past animosities. Montalto stood leaning against a table, with downcast eyes and strongly working features, in which the agony of abandoning his own hopes and the bitterness of yielding himself to the accomplishment of those of his adversary were violently expressed. Concentrated rage contributed also to throw his mind off its balance, for he felt that he had been betrayed by his friends. He knew that if only they had all been true to their promises and to each other, the adversaries could not have accomplished an election. He knew also that in yielding thus tardily and reluctantly, he, at least, would have none of the merit of yielding in the eyes of the new Pope. Those who had made his doing so necessary might claim the merit of their defection; but it was too clear that the Pope to be thus elected was elected in his despite.
In answer to Sfondrato's address he replied no word; nor did he raise his eyes or turn towards Aldobrandino, but he silently put out his hand to him. And they went forth together into the hall, where the crowd of cardinals, now consisting of nearly all the Conclave, were waiting to proceed to the chapel for the "Adoration." For it is observable that, notwithstanding the apparent union of the parties, the Clementines, who had prevailed, did not deem it advisable to trust to a scrutiny, but were still bent on hurrying to the quicker and more open process of " Adoration."
And now the election of Cardinal Tosco seemed certain. He himself, meanwhile, was walking up and down with the Cardinals San Giorgio and Diatristain in a distant part of the vast Vatican galleries. His companions urged him to go with them at once to the chapel; but he shrunk from doing this, preferring to wait till Aldobrandino or some of the others came to bring him thither, according to the custom in such cases. But as the minutes went on, and nobody came, Cardinal San Giorgio sent his conclavist to see how matters were going on. He came into the hall just as Aldobrandino and Montalto, hand in hand, came forth to the body of the cardinals from the cell of Acquaviva. Returning therefore in all haste, he told his master and Tosco what he had seen, and said that both the chiefs were coming with a large number of their followers to bring Cardinal Tosco to the chapel. At the same time a tumultuous crowd of conclavists came rushing towards the cell of the Pope elect, to make booty of all that it contained, according to recognised and tolerated custom. Indeed the election seemed as good as if already made.
But now came a sudden slip between the cup and the lip, which changed the whole face of things in the Conclave, and produced as strange a scene as had ever been witnessed in any of those remarkable assemblies, which had enacted and seen so many curious dramas.
While Aldobrandino and Montalto were on the point of going to bring Cardinal Tosco to the spot where the crowd of cardinals were waiting to conduct him triumphantly to the chapel for the "Adoration," two cardinals held aloof, and were walking up and down the gallery together at a little distance, in deep and evidently not well-pleased conversation. These were Baronius* and Tarugio, an intimate friend of his, who were, as the conclavist says with an evident sneer, "professors of a scrupulous conscience," and as such could not approve of the elevation to the Papacy of such a man as Cardinal Tosco. While the negotiations had been going on that resulted in the all but certainty of his election, Aldobrandino had sent no less than seven successive messages to Baronius, urging him to join the rest of the party— and now, since the accession of Montalto and his friends, it might be said the rest of the Conclave—in the proposed "Adoration" of Tosco. This persistence on the part of Aldobrandino is remarkable. After the yielding of Montalto and his party, there could be no doubt about
* I have used here and elsewhere the Latin instead of the Italian form of the great Church historian's name, because it is so familiar to the English reader.