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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!
Pabio; Chigi, 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 Borne.—Curious Connection between these phenomena and tho decrease of nepotism.—Mixed motive 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.
Pabio 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
his relatives—a brother and his sons—to come to Eome. But.... it was soon represented to him by those about him that such rigour was not necessary, was not desirable, was not even right as a matter of conscience; and Alexander VII. was only too well inclined to give ear to such representations. His family affections pleaded for his kinsfolk, and his own decreasing activity longed for the assistance and prop of a cardinal nephew.
The nephew came and was made a cardinal; the brother came, and had the best things that the Apostolic Court had to give to a layman; and a new family was founded. But the Chigi were enriched more moderately, and not in such a manner as to cause scandal or reprobation in that age. It is however worth remarking, as an illustration of the feeling of the time, that Cardinal Pallavicini, the historian of the Council of Trent,* writing while Alexander was still keeping his kinsmen at a distance from Eome, promises him immortality on the strength of that heroic piece of virtue. But the worst consequences of Alexander's fall into the old ruts of nepotism were seen in the increasing tendency which he manifested to throw all the burden of business on the shoulders of those about him. He became a very faineant Pope, occupying his leisure hours, not discreditably, with literature and learned men, but making of those hours a far larger portion of his life than was consistent with the duty of a supreme head of the Church.
* Pallavicini wrote the orthodox history of that great event in opposition to the history of Fra Paolo Sarpi.
But Alexander's inclinations in this respect, and the general tendencies of the Apostolic Court and Church at that period, played into the hands of each other. The Sacred College was, day by day, acquiring a greater weight in the State, and a larger share of authority and self-assured importance. The Popes were becoming less autocratic, and more controlled and controllable by a body which was assuming the real position and conditions of a Council of State. We have lived to see the pendulum swinging back again in the contrary direction. But the Popes of the latter half of the seventeenth, the whole of the eighteenth, and the first half of the nineteenth centuries, were priests of decent life, sovereigns surrounded by, and to a great extent the slaves of, ceremonial and etiquette, and autocratic rulers rather in theory and outward appearance than in reality.
Together with propriety and decency, smallness begins more and more to characterize the doings, the interests, and the life of the denizens of the Apostolic Court and its rulers. Terrible hatreds give place to little spites. One cardinal no longer plots the murder of another because he interferes with his pretensions to sovereign power; he only plans to affront his rival because he has been himself offended in some infinitesimal question of privilege, precedence, or dignity. Alexander VII. was not deserted by his relatives and attendants ou his death-bed, and no more stories of lurid horrors impart a morbidly melodramatic interest to the Papal annals. But a sharp dispute arose by the dead Pontiff's bedside between two cardinals, who quarrelled over the special privilege, which each claimed, of enacting some particular part in the ceremonial of the obsequies. And the incident is a significant illustration of the new epoch on which we are entering.
Alexander and his nephew the cardinal were no haters or persecutors. The custom, which usage had almost erected into a law, that the family of the preceding Pope should be pursued by the unrelenting hostility of the kinsmen of his successor, was no longer observed during Fabio Chigi's pontificate. Family, indeed, Innocent had left none to be persecuted, save the layman Camillo Pamfili. But neither did any hostility arise between the "creatures" of Innocent and those of Alexander. And the "squadrone volante," which had mainly decided the election of Alexander, was also chiefly instrumental in placing his successor, Eospigliosi, on the throne as Clement IX. Cardinal Chigi wished at first to have brought about the election of Cardinal D'Elci, a Florentine, because the Grand Duke of Tuscany had set his heart on that election. But finding that none of the other factions in the Conclave would join him in doing so, he allowed himself, without much difficulty, to be persuaded by Barberini and the "squadrone volante," to agree to the election of Eospigliosi, who was elected on the 20th of June, 1667, by sixty-one votes out of the sixty-four which constituted the entire Conclave. Eospigliosi, for form and decorum sake, gave his own vote to Chigi, and it was not known what became of the two others.
Giulio Eospigliosi was conspicuous for all the good qualities which can be insured by the absence of evil ones. He was a man of blameless life, and the kindest,