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This letter fell, years afterwards, into the hands of the Cardinal of Ferrara, and he never forgave the writer of it! He therefore now exerted all his influence to prevent the election of Moroni. As the opposition to him gathered strength and consistence, other private grudges were remembered, and those who had treasured them up saw their opportunity for gratifying a spite which they would have been ashamed to confess the existence of had there been none others to countenance their baseness. In a word, Borromeo began to find that old Farnese's experienced tact had not deceived him when he had said that it would be found more difficult than had been imagined to make Cardinal Moroni Pope. Nevertheless, Borromeo would not abandon his hope, and was determined to push the matter to a scrutiny— evidently much to the disgust of the narrating conclavist, who, strongly prejudiced as he shows himself all through against this saintly young cardinal from the north, who "makes open profession of excessive goodness," considered such a proceeding to be foolhardy, and against all the recognised rules of Conclave strategy. He pushed his audacity to the point of demanding, too, that this scrutiny should be by open vote. But the Cardinal of Ferrara publicly objected to this, saying that it was an undue curtailment of the liberty of many who might have reason to fear the consequences of letting their votes be known. Farnese, notwithstanding his coldness and his warnings, stood true to his promise, saying that he was willing to give his vote openly or secretly for Moroni in any way that Borromeo might wish, and could only say that he was sorry if he had been unable to induce his friends to follow him. Nevertheless, he perhaps gave his vote in the full confidence that the abstention of his friends would suffice to make his doing so useless; for it is pretty certain that Farnese was not without hope of the tiara for himself. The scrutiny accordingly took place, and the result was, that with first votes and aceessits together Moroni had twenty-nine votes, whereas thirty-five were needed to make an election. So there was an end to Moroni's chance, and to the chance which had been offered to the Church of escaping from the iron sway of one of the most ferocious bigots who ever made the pretensions of Eomanism hateful to humanity.
Some further attempts on the part of the friends of Farnese to make a Pope from among their own faction only served to show that, if Borromeo could not effect an election without the aid of Farnese, so neither could Farnese make the Pope without the aid of Borromeo. The result was that those two leaders in concert cast their eyes on Ghislieri—the Cardinale Alessandrino, as he was called, from Alexandria, near which was his native place. Borromeo made a point of consulting Moroni before giving in his adhesion; but finding his friend altogether well inclined to such an election, assented. The Cardinal Alessandrino was suddenly- proposed by the leaders, and was elected by adoration almost before the electors knew what they had done. Never, perhaps, was a Pope elected so much by a leap in the dark, so entirely by the operation and will of two or three members of the Conclave alone, as in this case. It was a result that could not have been brought about by any
other process of voting than that of sudden adoration— a scheme made, as if purposely, for the facilitation of elections made by surprise, and without wisdom or consideration. In this instance the cardinals were frightened at what they had done the instant the act was completed! And well they might be! For Pius V. was the man who, when the crop of condemnations by the Inquisition was small in any district, immediately drew the conclusion, not that the faith was pure and heresy rare in those parts, but that the inquisitors had been slack in doing their duty!
Borromeo had in all probability, as the conclavist who narrates the story of the Conclave plainly intimates, mismanaged the election in his inexperience of such matters. It seems probable that had he reversed the order of his tactics, and made his first proposal in favour of the Cardinal Alessandrino, reserving his efforts in favour of Moroni till the results of the struggle in the Conclave should have demonstrated the impossibility of arriving at any election without a cordial agreement between him and Farnese, Moroni might have been Pope, for Farnese had no special objection to him.
Character and Disposition of Ugo Boncompagno is dominated by the Spirit of the Age.—Felice Peretti, Sixtus V.—Saying attributed to him.—Urban Vli.—Sfondrato, Gregory XIV.—His Character and Practices.—Fachinetti, Innocent IX.—Aldobrandino, Clement VIII. —His Character.—Characteristics of the Conclaves that had elected these Popes.—Camillo Borghese, Paul V.—Conclave which elected him. —Principal Parties in it.—Their relative Strength, and tho Manner in which it operated.—Attempt to elect Cardinal Saoli.— Anxiety of Aldobrandino's Party. — First Scrutiny. — Cardinal Bellarmine.—Cardinals Baronius and Borromeo.—Motives for putting forward Bellarmine.—Negotiation between Baronius and Aldobrandino.—Cardinal Montalto at Supper.—Cardinal Camerino put forward, and dropped.—Cardinal San Clemente put forward. —Threatened "Esclusiva."—Cardinal Tosco put forward.—Meeting of Cardinals for the exclusion of San Clemente.
Ugo Boncompagno, of Bologna, succeeded Pius V. as Gregory XIII., after the latter had reigned six years, in 1572. He was a man diametrically opposed in character and disposition to the ascetic Pius, his immediate predecessor, and much of the same nature as the penultimate Pope Pius IV. Though a good and conscientiously religious man, he loved life and its enjoyments, and was of a cheerful disposition. But, as Ranke well remarks, Gregory was a very notable instance of the power over individuals of the dominant spirit of an epoch. An hundred years earlier he would have lived and ruled after the fashion of an Innocent VIII. As it was, he was subject to the tendencies of the time; his mind was dominated by the ascetic atmosphere of the men about him—the Jesuits, the Theatines, and such men as Frumento, Cornaglia, Tolet, and Contavell; and the jovial-tempered Gregory takes his place deservedly in the list of the "zealous Popes." Those who followed him did less violence to their natural dispositions in classing themselves in the same category.
The celebrated swineherd, who became Sixtus V.— . that Felice Peretti, whose reply to some blockhead reproaching him with his humble origin, "Yes, but if you had ever been a swineherd, you would have been one still!" has been preserved—had a more marked character of his own—one of those, indeed, which unmistakably stamps its possessor as a ruler of men. He was very far from being a mere monastic ascetic or narrow-minded bigot; but he, too, very incontestably deserves a place in the group of zealous Popes.
Urban VII. (Giambattista Castagna) was a man more of the kind of Pius V., without his force of character. But he reigned only thirteen days. The Conclave which elected him and that from which his successor, the Cardinal Sfondrato, came forth as Gregory XIV., may be considered to have been one and the same assembly. Sfondrato was also, as the Popes of this period seem to have almost all been by an invincible law, a pious and fanatic devotee. He was a man who fasted twice a week, celebrated mass every day, constantly went through the offices in his breviary on his knees, and then spent an hour with his favourite author, St. Bernard. But Gregory XIV. reigned only ten months; and the Conclave had to begin their work, which had been