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What is A Conclave? by T. Adolphus Trollope


It may be that before these lines meet the eye of the readers they are intended for the world will be once again witnessing that function of the Roman Catholic Church which of all others makes the highest pretensions to transcendental spiritual significance, and is in reality the most utterly and grossly mundane—a conclave. In any case, it cannot be long before that singular spectacle is enacted on the accustomed stage before the converging eyes of Christendom. In any case, too, it will be nearly thirty years since the world has seen the like. And never before since St. Peter sat (or did not sit) in the seat of the Roman bishops has so long a period elapsed unmarked by the election of a supreme pontiff. The coming conclave will be held under circumstances essentially dissimilar from those surrounding all its predecessors, as will be readily understood if we consider the difference which recent changes, both lay and ecclesiastical, have made in the position of the pope. If, on the one hand, the political changes in Europe have taken from the cardinals the power of creating a sovereign prince, the ecclesiastical changes which the late ecumenical council has wrought in the constitution of the Church have placed in their hands the power and duty of selecting a supreme ruler of the Church with acknowledged claims to a loftier and more tremendous authority than the most high-handed of his predecessors has hitherto claimed. And the nature of this authority is such that the political rulers of the world may well feel—and are, as we know, feeling—a more anxious interest in the result of the election than they have for many a generation felt in the elevation of a temporal ruler of the ci-devant States of the Church. Under these circumstances it may be acceptable to our readers to have some brief account of what conclaves are and have been.

That this method of choosing a supreme head of the universal Church was in its origin abusive—that the earliest popes were chosen by the suffrages of the entire body of the faithful, that by a process of encroachment this election was in the course of time arrogated to themselves by the Roman clergy, and was ultimately, by a further process of similar encroachment, monopolized by the "Sacred College" of cardinals,—all this is sufficiently well known. It is, however, curious enough to merit a passing word, that a precisely analogous process of progressive encroachment may be observed to have taken place in the mode of appointing the bishops of the Church, not only in the Catholic, but also in the Protestant branch of it. First freely elected by the body of the faithful, they were subsequently chosen by the clergy, and lastly by a small and select body of these in the form of a "chapter." Only in this case a further step of encroachment being still possible, that step has been made; and bishops are nominated in the Catholic Church formally, and in the Anglican really, by the pope and the sovereign respectively.

It does not seem that in the earliest elections made by the cardinals the precautions of a "conclave," or a shutting up together of the cardinals, was adopted. The first conclave seems to have been that which elected Innocent IV. in 1243, and the motive for the locking up appears to have been the fear of interference by the emperor Frederick, who was at the time ravaging all the country around Rome. The first conclave that was guarded by a Savelli, in whose family the office of marshal of the Church and guardian of the conclaves became hereditary, was that which elected Nicholas IV. in 1288. The mode in which this pontiff merited his elevation is worth telling, apropos of conclaves. The conclave had lasted over ten months, and been prolonged into the hottest and most unhealthy season, insomuch that six cardinals died, many more fell ill, and all ran away save one, the bishop of Palestrina. He, "keeping large fires continually burning to correct the air," stuck to it, remained in conclave all alone, and was unanimously elected pope at the return of the cardinals when the pestilence had ceased. In 1270 we find a conclave sitting under difficulties of another kind. It was at Viterbo, and their Eminences sat for two years without making any election; whereupon, we are told, Raniero Gatti, the captain of the city, took the step of unroofing the palace in which they were assembled as a means of hastening their decision. That their Eminences were not thus to be hurried, however, is proved by their having subsequently dated a bull, still to be seen with its seventeen seals, "from the unroofed episcopal palace of Viterbo." There were four or five popes elected subsequently to this, however, without conclaves; but from the death of Boniface VIII. in 1303 the series of conclaves has been unbroken. Celestine V., who abdicated in 1294, drew up the rules which, confirmed by his successor, Boniface VIII., and by many subsequent popes from time to time down to the last century, still regulate the assembling and holding of the conclave, modified in some degree, as regards the food and private comforts of the cardinals, by indulgence of later pontiffs.

In old and long-since-forgotten books concerning the conclaves many curious particulars may be found respecting the customs and ceremonies connected with the disposal of the body of the deceased pontiff. A learnedly antiquarian dispute has been raised on the question whether in early times the body of a pope was embalmed, as we understand the word, or only exteriorly washed and perfumed. It seems, on the whole, clear that the first pope who was, properly speaking, embalmed, was Julius II., who died in 1513. But here is a striking account of the condition of things in the papal palace after the death of that great, high-handed and powerful pontiff, Sixtus IV., which occurred in 1484, after a reign of thirteen years. The statement is that of Burcardo (Burckhardt), the papal master of the ceremonies, the same writer whose diary, jotted down from day to day, has revealed to us the incredible atrocities of the court of Alexander VI., the Borgia pope, who died in 1503. "For all that I could do," writes the master of the ceremonies, who perhaps at that time occupied some less conspicuous post in the papal court, "I could not get a basin, a towel, or any kind of utensil in which the wine and the water for the odoriferous herbs could be put for washing the body of the deceased. Nor could I obtain drawers or a clean shirt for putting on the body, though I asked for them again and again. At length the cook lent me the copper kettle in which he was wont to heat the water for washing the plates, together with some hot water; and Andrew the barber brought me his barber's basin from his shop. So the pontiff was washed. And as there was no towel to wipe the body with, I caused him to be wiped with the shirt in which he died, torn into two halves. I could not change the drawers in which he died and was washed, because there were no others. His canonical vestments were put upon him without any shirt, and a pair of red cloth stockings, furnished by the bishop of Cervia, who was his chamberlain, and a long tunic, if I remember rightly, of red damask, as well as some other things." This pope, whose body was thus washed with his shirt torn in half for want of a towel, was that same Sixtus the enormous wealth and boundless luxury of whose nephews seem almost fabulous to readers even of these money-abounding days.

The explanation of the extraordinary state of things above described is to be found in the custom which existed of sacking the apartments of the deceased pope as soon as ever the breath was out of his body. The utter lawlessness which prevailed at Rome sede vacante—that is to say, during the interval between the death of one pope and the election of his successor—was not, indeed, confined to the residence of the departed pontiff. Throughout Rome all law used to be on those occasions in abeyance. The streets were scenes of the most unbridled excesses and violence of all sorts. That was the time for the satisfying of old grudges. Murder was as common as murderous hate; and no man's life was safe save in so far as his own hand or his own walls could protect it. And walls did not always avail. I find a petition to Leo X. from a monastery in Rome, setting forth that a document assuring certain indulgences to the house had been lost at the time of the sack and plunder of the convent during the last conclave. No sort of claim, it is to be observed, is attempted to be set up of redress for the plunder and destruction of the property of the convent; only a prayer that the privileges in question might be again granted in consideration of the loss of the document. A very curious illustration of Roman manners in the sixteenth century is to be found in a practice with regard to these periods of interregnum which I find recorded by Cancellieri in his work on the conclaves. Roman wives, it seems, were forbidden—not without reason—to leave their homes and go forth into the streets of Rome at their pleasure. But in the articles of the marriage contract it was stipulated that the lady should be free to go out on certain specified occasions, mainly ecclesiastical festivals; and among these it was always specially provided that the lady might go out during the days of the exposition of the body of a deceased pope for the purpose of kissing his feet. One would have thought that, looking to the state of things in the city, the time of the interregnum would have been the very last to select for ladies to venture into the streets. It would seem, however, that the Roman matrons thought otherwise. Cancellieri says that it was in those days a common saying among Roman ladies that "Happy were they who were married to Spaniards!" For it would seem that the Spanish husbands in Rome did not think it necessary to enforce this restraint on their wives—a circumstance that rather curiously contradicts our general notions of Spanish marital feelings and discipline.

In truth, the condition of Rome during the period of the conclave down to very recent times affords a singular evidence of the virtue of the old French formula, "Le roi est mort! Vive le roi!" as signifying the non-existence of any period of transition between one embodiment of law and authority and his successor; for the absence of any similar provision in the case of the popes made Rome a veritable hell upon earth during the period of a papal election.

But if the city outside the walls within which the purple fathers of the Church were deliberating presented a scene which was a disgrace and a scandal to Christendom, that which was being enacted within those walls was very often still more profoundly scandalous. Never probably has any human institution existed in which practice was more grossly and notoriously in disaccord with pretensions and theory, and with respect to which the highest and most sacred of all conceivable human sanctions was so shamelessly desecrated and profaned to the lowest and vilest uses.

Before touching on this part of the subject, however, it is necessary first to give in as few words as possible some intelligible account of the formal regulations and method of holding the conclave and electing the pontiff. All the regulations, which have been made with extreme minuteness, together with the subsequent modifications of them by different pontiffs, would occupy far too much space to be given here. The following rules seem to be the essential points. Ten days, including that of the pope's death, are to be allowed for the coming of absent cardinals. This delay may, however, be dispensed with for urgent reasons. The conclave should properly be held in the building in which the pope died. Regulations of various degrees of rigor have been made for securing the isolation of the members of the Sacred College, greater latitude and indulgence having been permitted as we approach modern times. Sundry means also were devised for hastening the deliberations of their Eminences. The old rule of Gregory X. prescribed that if an election were not made in three days, the cardinals should be supplied during the following five days with one dish only at dinner and one at supper; and if at the end of those five days the election was still uncompleted, the electors should be allowed only bread and water till they had accomplished their task. But, as may be readily supposed, all this has been materially modified. Many of the minute and rigorous precautions for preventing communication with the world outside the conclave have also fallen into desuetude. The purpose of these, however—that is, the absolute prevention of any possibility of consultation between those in conclave and those outside—is still sought to be, and probably is, maintained. Cardinals obliged to leave the conclave by ill-health, on sworn certificates of the two physicians who are shut up with them in conclave, may return to it, if able to do so, before the election is made. No censure or excommunication or deposition of any cardinal by the pope whose successor is to be elected can avail to deprive such cardinal of the right to take part in the conclave and in the election. No cardinal under pain of excommunication may say anything, or promise anything, or request anything, to or from another cardinal for the purpose of influencing him in the giving of his vote. It may safely be asserted, however, that pretty much all that is done in the conclave from the beginning to the end of it is one long contravention of this rule. The whole—at all events, the main—occupation of those in conclave consists of exactly what is here forbidden. The rule proceeds to declare that all such bargains, agreements and obligations, even sworn to, are ipso facto void, and "he who does not keep them merits praise rather than the blame of perjury." This merit elected popes have usually been found to strive after with all their strength. Julius II., by a bull issued in 1505, declared that any pope elected by means of bargains or promises is elected simoniacally; that his election is null even if he have the vote of every cardinal; that he is a heresiarch and no pope; that such an election cannot become valid by enthronation, or by lapse of time, or by the obedience of the cardinals; that it is lawful for the cardinals, the clergy and the people of Rome to refuse obedience to a pope so elected. On all which Monsignor Spondano in his ecclesiastical annals, remarks, with a naïveté of hypocrisy which is irresistibly amusing, that inasmuch as there would be considerable difficulty in applying the remedy proposed, God has specially provided that there should never be any need of it. How far Monsignor Spondano can have supposed that such was the case will become evident from the account of the doings of a conclave which I propose giving to the reader presently.

Together with the cardinals there are shut up in the conclave two attendants, called "conclavisti," for each cardinal, or three for such of them as are ill or infirm; one sacristan, two masters of the ceremonies, one confessor, two physicians, one surgeon, one carpenter, two barbers and ten porters. Any conclavist who may leave the conclave cannot on any account return. The different cells prepared in the Quirinal, Vatican or other place in which the conclave may be held are assigned to the cardinals by lot. The election may be made in the conclave in either of three different manners—by scrutiny of votes, by compromise, or by acclamation. A vote by scrutiny is to be taken twice every day in the conclave—once in the morning and once in the afternoon. All the cardinals, save such as are confined to their cells by infirmity, proceed to the chapel, and there, after the mass, receive the communion. They then return each to his cell to breakfast, and afterward meet in the chapel again. The next morning at 8 A.M. the sub-master of the ceremonies rings a bell at the door of each cell; at half-past eight he rings again; and at nine a third time, adding in a loud voice the summons, "In capellam Domini!"

The arrangement of the Pauline Chapel at the Vatican, in which the voting takes place, is as follows: The floor is raised by a boarding to the level of the pontifical throne, which stands by the side of the altar, and which is left in its place in readiness for the newly-elected pope to seat himself and receive the "adoration" of his electors. All around the walls of the chapel are erected as many thrones as there are cardinals, and over each of them a canopy, so arranged that by means of a cord it can be suddenly let down; so that at the moment the election is pronounced all the canopies are suddenly made to fall except that of the new pope. In front of each throne and under each canopy there is a little table covered with silk—green in the case of all those cardinals who have been created previously to the pontificate of the pope recently deceased, and purple in the case of those created by him. The colors of the canopies are similar. On each table are printed registers prepared for registering the votes at each scrutiny, the schedules for giving the votes, the means for sealing, etc. On the front of each table is inscribed the name of the cardinal who is to occupy it, together with his armorial bearings. In the midst of the body of the chapel are six little tables covered with green cloth, with a seat at each of them for the use of any cardinal who may fear that his neighbor might overlook him while writing his voting paper if he wrote it on the table before his throne. In front of the altar there is a large table covered with crimson silk, on which are folded schedules, wafers, sealing-wax; four candles, not lighted, but ready for use; a tinder-box with steel and matches; scarlet and purple twine for filing the voting schedules; a box of needles for the same purpose; a tablet with seventy holes in it, answering to the number of cardinals if the college were full, and in each hole a little wooden counter with the name of a cardinal, so that there are as many counters as cardinals in the college; and finally, a copy of the form of oath respecting the putting the schedules into the urns, the two urns themselves, and a box with a key, used for receiving the voting papers of such cardinals as may be too ill to leave their cells. The two urns, however, at the time of the scrutiny are placed on the altar. Behind the altar there is placed a little iron brazier or stove, in which, after every scrutiny which does not succeed in electing a pope, the voting papers are burned, together with some damp straw, the object being to cause a dense smoke, which, passing by a pipe outside the building, serves to inform the Romans that no election has yet been made. Twice a day, at about the same hour every day till the election is achieved, this smoke, which is eagerly watched for by all Rome, and specially by the commandant of the Castle of St. Angleo, who is waiting to fire a salute for the new pope, tells the city that there is no pope yet. When the hour passes and no smoke is seen, it is known that the election is made, and the cannoneers fire away without waiting to know whom they are saluting.

There is no portion of the day or of the lives of the cardinals in conclave which is not regulated by a host of minute regulations and ceremonies. The introduction of the food supplied to them; the form of bringing it from their palaces; the method of communication with the outside world, and the precautions taken to prevent any communication with reference to the great business in hand; the form and color of the garments to be worn by their Eminences and by all the subordinates; the amount of remuneration and perquisites to be received by the latter (among which regulations I find the following: "Let no man receive anything who has not purchased the office he holds"); the order of precedence of everybody, from the dean of the Sacred College to the last sweeper who enters the conclave with their Eminences,—all subject to minute rules, which would require, one would imagine, a lifetime to make one's self master of, and which, curious as some of them are, it is impossible to find place for here. We must get on to the method of voting.

Each cardinal has a schedule about eight inches long by six wide, divided by printed lines into five parts. On the topmost is printed "Ego, Cardinalis——," to be filled up with the name and titles of the elector using it. On the second space are printed, toward either side of the paper, two circles, indicating the exact place where the paper when folded is to be sealed. On the middle space is printed the words "Eligo in Summum Pontificem R'um D'um meum Dom. Card.," leaving only the name of the person chosen to be filled in. On the fourth space two circles are printed, as on the second, indicating the places of two more seals, which, when the paper is folded and sealed down, make it impossible to see the motto which is written, together with a number, on the last space. On the back of the second and fourth divisions are printed the words "nomen" and "signum," denoting that immediately under them are the name and motto of the elector. There are also printed certain ornamental flourishes, the object of which is to render it impossible to see the writing within through the paper. Thus, the schedule, with its top and bottom folds sealed down, can be freely opened so far as to allow the name of the cardinal for whom the vote is given to be seen, but not so far as to make it possible to see the name or motto of the giver of the vote.

When the voting papers have been thus prepared, the senior cardinal, the dean of the Sacred College, rises from his throne and walks to the foot of the altar, holding his schedule aloft between his finger and thumb. There he kneels and passes a brief time in private prayer. Then rising to his feet, he pronounces aloud in a sonorous voice the following oath: "Testor Christum Dominum qui me judicaturus est, me eligire quem secundum Deum judico eligi debere, et quod in accessu praestabo" ("I call to witness the Lord Christ, who shall judge me, that I elect him whom before God I judge ought to be elected, and which vote I shall give also in the accessit"). The last words allude to a subsequent part of the business of the election, to be explained presently. It is hardly necessary to point out to the reader that this oath, solemn as it sounds, might just as well be omitted. It is as a matter of course evident that each elector will give his vote for the person who ought in his opinion to be elected. But as to the motives of that opinion, as to the grounds on which it seems best to each elector that such and such a man ought to be elected, the oath says nothing. The cardinals whose votes Alexander VI. bought thought, no doubt, that in all honesty they ought to give their voices for the man who had fairly paid for them. But, putting aside such gross cases, let the reader reflect for a moment how extensive a ground is covered by the celebrated "A.M.D.G." formula ("Ad majorem Dei gloriam"). The conscience of an elector may be supposed to speak to him thus: "It is true that I know A.B. to be a profligate and thoroughly worldly man, but his influence with such or such a statesman or monarch will probably be the means of saving the Church from a schism in this, that or the other country. And that assuredly is A.M.D.G. And he is the man, therefore, who ought to be elected."

Well, the oath having been thus pronounced, the voter places his folded schedule on a silver salver, and with this casts it into the silver urn which is on the altar. And one after another every cardinal present does the same—every cardinal present except, however, any one who may not have received at least deacon's orders. One so disqualified may indeed be empowered to vote by dispensation of the deceased pope; but this dispensation is usually given for a limited period—a few days probably—only; and if this time has expired before the election is completed the cardinal who is not in sacred orders must cease to vote till he have received orders. It has frequently occurred that cardinals have been ordained under these circumstances in the conclave. When all the schedules have been placed in the urn, three cardinals, who have been previously chosen by lot for the purpose, as scrutineers proceed to verify the result of the voting. First, the schedules are counted to ascertain that they are equal in number to the number of the cardinals present. If this should not be the case, all are forthwith burned and the business is recommenced. But if this is all right, then comes the moment of interest which sets many an old heart beating under its purple vestments. The three scrutineers seat themselves at the large table with their backs turned to the altar, so that they face the assembly. Then each cardinal in his throne-seat places on the little table before him a large sheet duly prepared with the names of all the cardinals living, and ruled columns for the votes, and pen in hand awaits the declaration of these. The first scrutineer takes a schedule from the urn, unfolds the central part, leaving the two sealed ends intact, takes note of the vote declared within, and hands the paper to the second scrutineer, who also notes the vote and hands it to the third, who declares the vote aloud in a voice audible to all present, and each cardinal marks it on his register. Then, if the votes shall have been sufficient to elect the pope—that is, two-thirds of those voting—there is nothing more to be done save to number the votes, to verify them, and then burn the schedules. But if this is not the case, as it rarely if ever is, the cardinals proceed to the accessit. The papers and all the forms for this are precisely the same as for the first voting, save that in the place of the word "Eligo" there is the word "Accedo," and that in the place of the name of the cardinal voted for those who do not choose to alter their previous vote write "Nemini" ("To no one"). Then the matter proceeds as before; and if no election is effected, the assembly breaks up, and meets for another voting and scrutiny that afternoon or the next morning, as the case may be. And this is done twice every day till the election is made. The reader, I fear, may think that I have been prolix in my statement of these particulars of the method of the election, but I can assure him that I have given him only the main and important points, selected from some hundreds of pages in the works of those who have treated on the wonderfully minute regulations and prescriptions with which the whole matter is surrounded.

It will be easily seen that the moment of proceeding to the accessit is the time for fine strokes of policy, for the most cautious prudence and craftiest cunning. The general condition of the ground has been disclosed by the results of the previous scrutiny. The possibilities and chances begin to discover themselves. "Frequently," says the President de Brosses, who was at Rome during the conclave which elected Benedict XIV. in 1740, in the charming published volume of his letters—"Frequently at the accessit everything which was done at the preceding ceremony is reversed; and it is at the accessit that the most subtle strokes of policy are practiced. Sometimes, for example, when a party has been formed for any cardinal, the leader of the party keeps in reserve for the accessit all the votes that he can count on as certain, and induces those that he suspects may be doubtful to vote for the person intended to be made pope at the first scrutiny, so as to make sure by the number of votes given whether his supporters have been true to their party, and to avoid unmasking his policy till he shall be sure of his coup."

The story of the conclave which elected Cardinal Lambertini pope as Benedict XIV., gives a curious picture of the schemes and intrigues carried on in the mysterious seclusion of the conclave. Clement XII., of the Florentine Corsini family, had died. The cardinal Corsini, his nephew, was at the head of one faction in the conclave, and the cardinal Albani, nephew of Clement XI., who died in 1721, at the head of the other. The former party seemed at the beginning of the conclave to be the most numerous. But De Brosses describes the two men as follows. Corsini, he says, had little intelligence, less sense, and no capacity for affairs. Of Albani, he says that he was "highly considered for his capacity, and both hated and feared to excess—a man without faith, without principles; an implacable enemy even when appearing to be reconciled; of a great genius for affairs; inexhaustible in resource and intrigue; the ablest man in the college, and the worst-hearted man in Rome." It soon became clear that the struggle between the factions thus led would be severe, and the conclave a long one. The history of the plots and counterplots by which each strove to circumvent the other is extremely amusing, but too long to be given here. After various fruitless attempts, the Corsini faction concentrated all their forces on Cardinal Aldrovandi. He was a man of decent character, and had the support of a small body of independent cardinals, called the "Zelanti," who, to the great disgust and contempt of their brethren in purple, were mainly influenced by the consideration of the worthiness of his character. The number of voices needed to make the election was thirty-four: Aldrovandi had thirty-three. Cardinal Passionei, the scrutator who had to declare the votes, and a member of the opposite faction, became, we are told, as pale as death when he announced with trembling voice the thirty-third vote. There was every reason to think that at the accessit he would have the one other vote needful to make the election. But it was not so. The terrible Albani was too much feared, and had his own party too well in hand. But the thing was run very close. The danger was great that during the hours of the night that must intervene before the next scrutiny some means might be found to detach one Albani follower from his allegiance. There was the great bait to be offered that the one who changed his vote would be in effect the maker of the new pope. Under these circumstances, Albani felt that nothing but some "heroic" measure could save him. What he did was this: There was a certain Father Ravali, a Cordelier, and one of the leading men of his order, on whom Albani could depend, and who was, in language more expressive than ecclesiastical, "up to anything." This monk was instructed to seek a conference with Aldrovandi at the rota. (The rota was the opening in the wall at which such interviews were permitted in presence of certain high dignitaries specially appointed to attend it, for the express purpose of hearing all that might be said, and preventing any communication having reference to the business of the conclave. How they performed their duty the present story shows.) The monk began by saying that all Rome looked upon the election of Aldrovandi as a certain thing. Aldrovandi, doing the humble, replied that to be sure many of his brethren had deigned to think of him, but that he did not make any progress—that there were those who were too determinately opposed to his election, etc. The monk thereupon goes into a long and unctuous discourse on all the sad evils to Christendom of a conclave so prolonged. (It had already lasted over five months.) To which Aldrovandi replies that he ought rather to address his remonstrances to Cardinal Albani, who is in truth the cause of the inability of the conclave to come to an election. "Ah, monsignor," returns the Cordelier, "put yourself in the place of the cardinal Albani. I know his sentiments from the many conversations we have had together. He is far from feeling any personal objection or enmity to you. But you know that there has been in the past unpleasant feeling between your family and his, and he fears that you are animated by hostility toward him." "I assure you," replies Aldrovandi, falling into the trap, "that he is greatly mistaken. I have long since forgotten all the circumstances you allude to. Besides, as I remember, the cardinal had no part in the matter. He can't doubt that I have the greatest respect for his personal character. Besides, I am not the man to forget a service rendered to me." "Since those are the sentiments of Your Eminence," cries the monk, "I begin to see an end to this interminable conclave. I perceive that there will be no difficulty in arranging matters between Your Eminence and the cardinal Albani. Will you permit me to be the medium of your sentiments upon the subject?" Aldrovandi is delighted, and feels the tiara already on his head. Then, after a little indifferent talk, the Cordelier, in the act of taking leave of the cardinal, turns back and says, "But, after all, the mere word of a poor monk like me is hardly sufficient between personages such as Your Eminence and the cardinal Albani. Permit me to write you a letter, in which I will lay before Your Eminence those considerations concerning the crying evils of the length of this conclave which I have ventured to mention to you, and that will give me an opportunity of entering on the matters we have been speaking of. And then you, in your reply to me, can take occasion to say what you have already been observing to me of your sentiments toward the cardinal Albani." Aldrovandi eagerly agreed to this, and the two letters were at once written. "I am told," adds De Brosses, "that the letter of Aldrovandi was strong on the subject of the gratitude he should feel toward Albani." No sooner has the perfidious Cordelier got the letter into his hand than he runs with it to Albani, who goes with it at once to the body of the "Zelanti" cardinals with pious horror in his face: "Here! Look at your Aldrovandi, your man of God, that you tell me is incapable of intriguing in order to become His vicar! Here he is making promises to seduce me into violating my conscience."—"Alas! alas! It is too true! Clearly the Holy Ghost will none of him. Speak to us of him no more!" So Aldrovandi's chance was gone, and Albani found the means of uniting the necessary number of voices on Lambertini, a good-enough sort of man, by all accounts, but hardly of the wood from which popes are or should be made. He became that Benedict XIV. who was Voltaire's correspondent, and who, as the story goes, when he was asked by a young Roman patrician to make him a list of the books he would recommend for his studies, replied, "My dear boy, we always keep a list of the best books ready made. It is called the Index Expurgatorius!"

Such were the doings of conclaves, and such the popes which resulted from them, in that eighteenth century whose boasted philosophy pretty well culminated in the conviction that pudding was good and sugar sweet. Such will not be the conclave which will assemble at the death of the present pontiff. The election will doubtless be scrupulously canonical on all points; and, though it may be doubted how far the deliberations of the Sacred College will be calculated to advance the truly understood spiritual interests of humanity, there is, I think, little doubt that they will be directed, according to the lights of the members, to the choice of that individual who shall in their opinion be most likely to advance the interests of the Church "A.D.M.G."