We commonly speak of the nineteenth century as an age of superior civilization. The truth of the assertion depends on what civilization means, but there is no denying that more blood has been shed by civilized nations during the last one hundred and twenty years than in any equal period of the world's history. Anyone may realize the fact by simply recalling the great wars which have devastated the world since the American Revolution.
But the carnage was not uninterrupted. The record of death is divided in the midst by the thirty years of comparative peace which followed the battle of Waterloo and preceded the general revolution of 1848. Napoleon had harried the world, from Moscow to Cairo, from Vienna to Madrid, pouring blood upon blood, draining the world's veins dry, exhausting the destroying power of mankind in perpetual destruction. When he was gone, Europe was utterly worn out by his terrible energy, and collapsed suddenly in a state of universal nervous prostration. Then came the long peace, from 1815 to 1848.
During that time the European nations, excepting England, were governed by more or less weak and timid sovereigns, and it was under their feeble rule that the great republican idea took root and grew, like a cutting from the stricken tree of the French Revolution, planted in the heart of Europe, nurtured in secret, and tended by devoted hands to a new maturity, but destined to ruin in the end, as surely as the parent stock.
Those thirty and odd years were a sort of dull season in Europe—an extraordinarily uneventful period, during which the republican idea was growing, and during which the monarchic idea was decaying. Halfway through that time—about 1830—Joseph Mazzini founded the Society of Young Italy, in connection with the other secret societies of Europe, and acquired that enormous influence which even now is associated with his name. Mazzini and Garibaldi meant to make a republic of Italy. The House of Savoy did not at that time dream of a united Italian Kingdom. The most they dared hope was the acquisition of territory on the north by the expulsion of the Austrians. England and circumstances helped the Savoy family in their sudden and astonishing rise of fortune; for at that time Austria was the great military nation of Europe, while France was the naval power second to England, and through the Bourbons, Italy was largely under the influence of Austria. England saw that the creation of an independent friendly power in the Mediterranean would both tend to diminish Austria's strength by land, and would check France in her continued efforts to make the shores of the Mediterranean hers.
She therefore encouraged Italy in revolution, and it is generally believed that she secretly furnished enormous sums of money, through Sir James Hudson, minister in Turin, to further the schemes of Mazzini. The profound hatred of Catholics which was so much more marked in England then than now, produced a strong popular feeling there in favour of the revolutionaries, who inveighed against all existing sovereignties in general, but were particularly bitter against the government of the Popes. The revolution thus supported by England, and guided by such men as Mazzini and Garibaldi, made progress. The legendary nature of Rome, as mistress of the world, appealed also to many Italians, and 'Rome' became the catchword of liberty. The situation was similar in other European countries; secret societies were as active, and to the revolutionaries the result seemed as certain.
But the material of monarchic opposition was stronger elsewhere than in Italy. Prussia had Hohenzollerns and Austria had Hapsburgs—races that had held their own and reigned successfully for hundreds of years. The smaller German principalities had traditions of conservative obedience to a prince, which were not easily broken. On the other hand, in Italy the government of the Bourbons and their relatives was a barbarous misrule, of which the only good point was that it did not oppress the people with taxes, and in Rome the Pontifical chair had been occupied by a succession of politically insignificant Popes from Pius the Seventh, Napoleon's victim, to Gregory the Sixteenth. There was no force in Italy to oppose the general revolutionary idea, except the conservatism of individuals, in a country which has always been revolutionary. Much the same was true of France. But in both countries there were would-be monarchs waiting in the background, ready to promote any change whereby they might profit—Louis Napoleon, and the Kings of Sardinia, Charles Albert first, and after his defeat by the Austrians and his abdication, the semi-heroic, semi-legendary Victor Emmanuel.
Gregory the Sixteenth died in 1846, and Pius the Ninth was elected in his stead—a man still young, full of the highest ideals and of most honest purpose; enthusiastic, a man who had begun life in military service and was destined to end it in captivity, and upon whom it was easy to impose in every way, since he was politically too credulous for any age, and too diffident, if not too timid, for the age in which he lived. His private virtues made him a model to the Christian world, while his political weakness made him the sport of his enemies. The only stable thing in him was his goodness; everything else was in perpetual vacillation. In every true account of every political action of Pius the Ninth, the first words are, 'the Pope hesitated.' And he hesitated to the last—he hesitated through a pontificate of thirty-two years, he outreigned the 'years of Peter,' and he lost the temporal power.
The great movement came to a head in 1848. A year of revolutions, riots, rebellions and new constitutions. So perfectly had it been organized that it broke out almost simultaneously all over Europe—in France, Italy, Prussia and Austria. Just when the revolution was rife Pius the Ninth proclaimed an amnesty. That was soon after his election, and he vacillated into a sort of passive approval of the Young Italian party. It was even proposed that Italy should become a confederation of free states under the presidency of the Pope. No man in his senses believed in such a possibility, but at that time an unusual number of people were not in their senses; Europe had gone mad.
Everyone knows the history of that year, when one Emperor, several Kings, and numerous princes and ministers scattered in all directions, like men running away from a fire that is just going to reach a quantity of explosives. The fire was the reaction after long inactivity. Pius the Ninth fled like the rest, when his favourite minister, Count Rossi, had been stabbed to death on the steps of the Cancelleria. Some of the sovereigns got safely back to their thrones. The Pope was helped back by France and kept on his throne, first by the Republic, and then, with one short intermission, by Louis Napoleon. In 1870, the French needed all their strength for their own battles, and gave up fighting those of the Vatican.
During that long period, from 1849 to 1870, Pius the Ninth governed Rome in comparative security, in spite of occasional revolutionary outbreaks, and in kindness if not in wisdom. Taxation was insignificant. Work was plentiful and well paid, considering the country and the times. Charities were enormous. The only restriction on liberty was political, never civil. Reforms and improvements of every kind were introduced. When Gregory the Sixteenth died, Rome was practically a mediæval city; when the Italians took it, twenty-four years later, it was a fairly creditable modern capital. The government of Pius the Ninth was paternal, and if he was not a wise father, he was at all events the kindest of men. The same cannot be said of Cardinal Antonelli, his prime minister, who was the best hated man of his day, not only in Europe and Italy, but by a large proportion of Churchmen. He was one of those strong and unscrupulous men who appeared everywhere in Europe as reactionaries in opposition to the great revolution. On a smaller scale—perhaps because he represented a much smaller power—he is to be classed with Disraeli, Metternich, Cavour and Bismarck. In palliation of many of his doings, it should be remembered that he was not a priest; for the Cardinalate is a dignity not necessarily associated with the priesthood, and Antonelli was never ordained. He was a fighter and a schemer by nature, and he schemed and fought all his life for the preservation of the temporal power in Rome. He failed, and lived to see his defeat, and he remained till his death immured in the Vatican with Pius the Ninth. He used to live in a small and almost mean apartment, opening upon the grand staircase that leads up from the court of Saint Damasus.
When the Italians entered Rome through the breach at the Porta Pia, Italy was unified. It is a curious fact that Italy was never at any time unified except by force. The difference between the unification under Julius Cæsar and Augustus, and the unification under Victor Emmanuel, is very simple. Under the first Cæsars, Rome conquered the Italians; under the House of Savoy, the Italians conquered Rome.
The taking of Rome in 1870 was the deathblow of mediævalism; and the passing away of King Victor Emmanuel and of Pope Pius the Ninth was the end of romantic Italy, if one may use the expression to designate the character of the country through all that chain of big and little events which make up the thrilling story of the struggle for Italian unity. After the struggle for unity, began the struggle for life—more desperate, more dangerous, but immeasurably less romantic. There is all the difference between the two which lies between unsound banking and perilous fighting. The long Pontificate of Pius the Ninth came to a close almost simultaneously with the reign and the life of Victor Emmanuel, first King of United Italy, after the Pope and the King had faced each other during nearly a third of the century, two political enemies of whom neither felt the slightest personal rancour against the other. On his death-bed, the King earnestly desired the Pope's parting blessing, but although the Pope gave it, the message arrived too late, for the old King was dead. Little more than a month later, Pius the Ninth departed this life. That was the end of the old era.
The disposition of Europe in the year 1878, when Leo the Thirteenth was crowned, was strongly anti-Catholic. England had reached the height of her power and influence, and represented to the world the scientific-practical idea in its most successful form. She was then traversing that intellectual phase of so-called scientific atheism of which Huxley and Herbert Spencer were the chief teachers. Their view seems not to have been so hostile to the Catholic Church in particular as it was distinctly antagonistic to all religion whatsoever. People were inclined to believe that all creeds were a thing of the past, and that a scientific millennium was at hand. No one who lived in those days can forget the weary air of pity with which the Huxleyites and the Spencerians spoke of all humanity's beliefs. England's enormous political power somehow lent weight to the anti-religious theories of those two leading men of science, which never really had the slightest hold upon the believing English people. Italians, for instance, readily asserted that England had attained her position among nations by the practice of scientific atheism, and classed Darwin the discoverer with Spencer the destroyer; for all Latins are more or less born Anglomaniacs, and naturally envy and imitate Anglo-Saxon character, even while finding fault with them, just as we envy and imitate Latin art and fashions. Under a German dynasty and a Prime Minister of Israelitish name and extraction, the English had become the ideal after which half of Europe hankered in vain. England's influence was then distinctly anti-Catholic.
Germany, fresh in unity, and still quivering with the long-forgotten delight of conquest, was also, as an Empire, anti-Catholic, and the Kultur Kampf, which was really a religious struggle, was at its height. Germany's religions are official at the one extreme and popular at the other; but there is no intermediate religion to speak of—and what we should call cultured people, scientific men, the professorial class, are largely atheistic.
For some time after the proclamation of the Empire, Germany meant Prussia to the rest of the world—Prussia officially evangelical, privately sceptical, the rigid backbone of the whole German military mammoth. The fact that about one-third of the population of the Empire is Catholic was overlooked by Prussia and forgotten by Europe.
France—Catholic in the provinces—was Paris just then—republican Paris. And all French Republics have been anti-Catholic, as all French monarchies have been the natural allies of the Vatican, as institutions, though individual Kings, like Francis the First, have opposed the Popes from time to time. France, in 1878, was recovering with astonishing vitality from her defeat, but the new growth was unlike the old. The definite destruction of the old France had taken place in 1870; and the new France bore little resemblance to the old. It was, as it is now, Catholic, but anti-papal.
The smaller northern powers, Scandinavia and Holland, were anti-Catholic of course. Russia has always been the natural enemy of the Catholic Church. Of the remaining European nations, only Austria could be said to have any political importance, and even she was terrorized by the new German Empire.
Italy had been the scene of one of those quick comedies of national self-transformation which start trains of consequences rather than produce immediately great results. One may call it a comedy, not in a depreciating sense, but because the piece was played out to a successful issue with little bloodshed and small hindrance. It had been laid down as a principle by the playwrights that the Vatican was the natural enemy of Italian unity; and the playwrights and principal actors, Cavour, Garibaldi and others, were all atheists. The new Italy of their creation was, therefore, an anti-Catholic power, while the whole Italian people, below the artificial scientific level, were, as they are now, profoundly, and even superstitiously, religious. That was the state of the European world when Leo the Thirteenth was elected.
The Popes have always occupied an exceptional position as compared with other sovereigns. There is not, indeed, in the history of any nation or community any record of an office so anomalous. To all intents and purposes Christianity is a form of socialism, the Church is a democracy, and the government of the Popes has been despotic, in the proper sense,—that is, it has been one of 'absolute authority.' It is probably not necessary to say anything about the first statement, which few, I fancy, will be inclined to deny. Pure socialism means community of property, community of social responsibility, and community of principles. As regards the democratic rules by which the Church governs itself, there cannot be two ways of looking at them. Peasant and prince have an equal chance of wearing the triple crown; but in history it will be found that it has been more often worn by peasants than by princes, and most often by men issuing from the middle classes. Broadly, the requirements have always been those answered by personal merit rather than by any other consideration. The exceptions have perhaps been many, and the abuses not a few, but the general principle cannot be denied, and the present Pope came to the supreme ecclesiastical dignity by much the same steps as the majority of his predecessors. Since his elevation to the pontificate the Pecci family have established, beyond a doubt, their connection with the noble race of that name, long prominent in Siena, and having an ancient and historical right to bear arms and the title of count—a dignity of uncertain value in Italy, south of the Tuscan border, but well worth having when it has originated in the northern part of the country.
Joachim Vincent Pecci, since 1878 Pope, under the name of Leo the Thirteenth, was born at Carpineto, in the Volscian hills, in 1810. His father had served in the Napoleonic wars, but had already retired to his native village, where he was at that time a landed proprietor of considerable importance and the father of several children. Carpineto lies on the mountain side, in the neighbourhood of Segni, in a rocky district, and in the midst of a country well known to Italians as the Ciociaria. This word is derived from 'cioce,' the sandals worn by the peasants in that part of the country, in the place of shoes, and bound by leathern thongs to the foot and leg over linen strips which serve for stockings. The sandal indeed is common enough, or was common not long ago, in the Sabine and Samnian hills and in some parts of the Abruzzi, but it is especially the property of the Volscians, all the way from Montefortino, the worst den of thieves in Italy, down to the Neapolitan frontier. Joachim Pecci was born with a plentiful supply of that rough, bony, untiring mountaineer's energy which has made the Volscians what they have been for good or evil since the beginning of history.
Those who have been to Carpineto have seen the dark old pile in which the Pope was born, with its tower which tops the town, as the dwellings of the small nobles always did in every hamlet and village throughout the south of Europe. For the Pecci were good gentlefolk long ago, and the portraits of Pope Leo's father and mother, in their dress of the last century, still hang in their places in the mansion. His Holiness strongly resembles both, for he has his father's brow and eyes, and his mother's mouth and chin. In his youth he seems to have been a very dark man, as clearly appears from the portrait of him painted when he was Nuncio in Brussels at about the age of thirty-four years. The family type is strong. One of the Pope's nieces might have sat for a portrait of his mother. The extraordinarily clear, pale complexion is also a family characteristic. Leo the Thirteenth's face seems cut of live alabaster, and it is not a figure of speech to say that it appears to emit a light of its own.
Born and bred in the keen air of the Volscian hills, he is a southern Italian, but of the mountains, and there is still about him something of the hill people. He has the long, lean, straight, broad-shouldered frame of the true mountaineer, the marvellously bright eye, the eagle features, the well-knit growth of strength, traceable even in extreme old age; and in character there is in him the well-balanced combination of a steady caution with an unerring, unhesitating decision, which appears in those great moments when history will not wait for little men's long phrases, when the pendulum world is swinging its full stroke, and when it is either glory or death to lay strong hands upon its weight. But when it stops for a time, and hangs motionless, the little men gather about it, and touch it boldly, and make theories about its next unrest.
In the matter of physique, there is, indeed, a resemblance between Leo the Thirteenth, President Lincoln and Mr. Gladstone—long, sinewy men all three, of a bony constitution and indomitable vitality, with large skulls, high cheek-bones, and energetic jaws—all three men of great physical strength, of profound capacity for study, of melancholic disposition, and of unusual eloquence. It might almost be said that these three men represent three distinct stages of one type—the real or material, the intellectual and the spiritual. From earliest youth each of the three was, by force of circumstances, turned to the direction which he was ultimately to follow. Lincoln was thrown upon facts for his education; Gladstone received the existing form of education in its highest development, while the Pope was brought up under the domination of spiritual thoughts at a time when they had but lately survived the French Revolution. Born during the height of the conflict between belief and unbelief, Leo the Thirteenth, by a significant fatality, was raised to the pontificate when the Kultur Kampf was raging and the attention of the world was riveted on the deadly struggle between the Roman Catholic Church and Prince Bismarck—a struggle in which the great chancellor found his equal, if not his master.
The Pope spent his childhood in the simple surroundings of Carpineto, than which none could be simpler, as everyone knows who has ever visited an Italian country gentleman in his home. Early hours, constant exercise, plain food and farm interests made a strong man of him, with plenty of simple common sense. As a boy he was a great walker and climber, and it is said that he was excessively fond of birding, the only form of sport afforded by that part of Italy, and practised there in those times, as it is now, not only with guns, but by means of nets. It has often been said that poets and lovers of freedom come more frequently from the mountains and the seashore than from a flat inland region. Leo the Thirteenth ranks high among the scholarly poets of our day, and is certainly conspicuous for the liberality of his views. As long as he was in Perugia, it is well known that he received the officers of the Italian garrison and any government officials of rank who chanced to be present in the city, not merely now and then, or in a formal way, but constantly and with a cordiality which showed how much he appreciated their conversation. It may be doubted whether in our country an acknowledged leader of a political minority would either choose or dare to associate openly with persons having an official capacity on the other side.
But the stiff mannerism of the patriarchal system which survived until recently from the early Roman times gave him that formal tone and authoritative manner which are so characteristic of his conversation in private. His deliberate but unhesitating speech makes one think of Goethe's 'without haste, without rest.' Yet his formality is not of the slow and circumlocutory sort; on the contrary, it is energetically precise, and helps rather than mars the sound casting of each idea. The formality of strong people belongs to them naturally, and is the expression of a certain unchanging persistence; that of the weak is mostly assumed for the sake of magnifying the little strength they have.
The Pope's voice is as distinctly individual as his manner of speaking. It is not deep nor very full, but, considering his great age, it is wonderfully clear and ringing, and it has a certain incisiveness of sound which gives it great carrying power. Pius the Ninth had as beautiful a voice, both in compass and richness of quality, as any baritone singer in the Sixtine choir. No one who ever heard him intone the 'Te Deum' in Saint Peter's, in the old days, can forget the grand tones. He was gifted in many ways—with great physical beauty, with a rare charm of manner, and with a most witty humour; and in character he was one of the most gentle and kind-hearted men of his day, as he was also one of the least initiative, so to say, while endowed with the high moral courage of boundless patience and political humility. Leo the Thirteenth need speak but half a dozen words, with one glance of his flashing eyes and one gesture of his noticeably long arm and transparently thin hand, and the moral distance between his predecessor and himself is at once apparent. There is strength still in every movement, there is deliberate decision in every tone, there is lofty independence in every look. Behind these there may be kindliness, charity, and all the milder gifts of virtue; but what is apparent is a sort of energetic, manly trenchancy which forces admiration rather than awakens sympathy.
When speaking at length on any occasion he is eloquent, but with the eloquence of the dictator, and sometimes of the logician, rather than that of the persuader. His enunciation is exceedingly distinct in Latin and Italian, and also in French, a language in which he expresses himself with ease and clearness. In Latin and Italian he chooses his words with great care and skill, and makes use of fine distinctions, in the Ciceronian manner, and he certainly commands a larger vocabulary than most men.
His bearing is erect at all times, and on days when he is well his step is quick as he moves about his private apartments. 'Il Papa corre sempre,'—'the Pope always runs'—is often said by the guards and familiars of the antechamber. A man who speaks slowly but moves fast is generally one who thinks long and acts promptly—a hard hitter, as we should familiarly say.
It is not always true that a man's character is indicated by his daily habits, nor that his intellectual tendency is definable by the qualities of his temper or by his personal tastes. Carlyle was one instance of the contrary; Lincoln was another; Bismarck was a great third, with his iron head and his delicate feminine hands. All men who direct, control or influence the many have a right to be judged by the world according to their main deeds, to the total exclusion of their private lives. There are some whose public actions are better than their private ones, out of all proportion; and there are others who try to redeem the patent sins of their political necessities by the honest practice of their private virtues. In some rare, high types, head, heart and hand are balanced to one expression of power, and every deed is a mathematical function of all three.
Leo the Thirteenth probably approaches as nearly to such superiority as any great man now living. As a statesman, his abilities are admitted to be of the highest order; as a scholar he is undisputedly one of the first Latinists of our time, and one of the most accomplished writers in Latin and Italian prose and verse; as a man, he possesses the simplicity of character which almost always accompanies greatness, together with a healthy sobriety of temper, habit and individual taste rarely found in those beings whom we might call 'motors' among men. It is commonly said that the Pope has not changed his manner of life since he was a simple bishop. He is, indeed, a man who could not easily change either his habits or his opinions; for he is of that enduring, melancholic, slow-speaking, hard-thinking temperament which makes hard workers, and in which everything tends directly to hard work as a prime object, even with persons in whose existence necessary labour need play no part, and far more so with those whose smallest daily tasks hew history out of humanity in the rough state.
Of the Pope's statesmanship and Latinity the world knows much, and is sure to hear more, while he lives—most, perhaps, hereafter, when another and a smaller man shall sit in the great Pope's chair. For he is a great Pope. There has not been his equal, intellectually, for a long time, nor shall we presently see his match again. The era of individualities is not gone by, as some pretend. Men of middle age have seen in a lifetime Cavour, Louis Napoleon, Garibaldi, Disraeli, Bismarck, Leo the Thirteenth—and the young Emperor of Germany. With the possible exception of Cavour, who died, poisoned as some say, before he had lived out his life, few will deny that of all these the present Pope possesses, in many respects, the most evenly balanced and stubbornly sane disposition. That fact alone speaks highly for the judgment of the men who elected him, in Italy's half-crazed days, immediately after the death of Victor Emmanuel.
At all events, there he stands, at the head of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, as wise a leader as any who in our day has wielded power; as skilled, in his own manner, as any who hold the pen; and better than all that, as straightly simple and honest a Christian man as ever fought a great battle for his faith's sake.
Straight-minded, honest and simple he is, yet keen, sensitive and nobly cautious; for there is no nobility in him who risks a cause for the vanity of his own courage, and who, in blind hatred of his enemies, squanders the devotion of those who love him. In a sense, today, the greater the man the greater the peacemaker, and Leo the Thirteenth ranks highest among those who have helped the cause of peace in this century.
In spite of his great age, the Holy Father enjoys excellent health, and leads a life full of occupations from morning till night. He rises very early, and when, at about six o'clock in the morning, his valet, Pio Centra, enters his little bedroom, he more often finds the Pope risen than asleep. He is accustomed to sleep little—not more than four or five hours at night, though he rests a short time after dinner. We are told that sometimes he has been found asleep in his chair at his writing-table at dawn, not having been to bed at all. Of late he frequently says mass in a chapel in his private apartments, and the mass is served by Pio Centra. On Sundays and feast-days he says it in another chapel preceding the throne-room. The little chapel is of small dimensions, but by opening the door into the neighbouring room a number of persons can assist at the mass. The permission, when given, is obtained on application to the 'Maestro di Camera,' and is generally conceded only to distinguished foreign persons. After saying mass himself, the Holy Father immediately hears a second one, said by one of the private chaplains on duty for the week, whose business it is to take care of the altar and to assist. Frequently he gives the communion with his own hand to those who are present at his mass. After mass he breakfasts upon coffee and goat's milk, and this milk is supplied from goats kept in the Vatican gardens—a reminiscence of Carpineto and of the mountaineer's early life.
Every day at about ten he receives the Secretary of State, Cardinal Rampolla, and converses with him for a good hour or more upon current affairs. On Tuesdays and Fridays the Secretary of State receives the Diplomatic Corps in his own apartments, and on those days the Under Secretary confers with the Pope in his chief's place. The acting prefect of the 'Holy Apostolic Palaces' is received by the Pope when he has business to expound. On the first and third Fridays of each month the Maggiordomo is received, and so on, in order, the cardinal prefects of the several Roman congregations, the Under Secretaries, and all others in charge of the various offices. In the papal antechamber there is a list of them, with the days of their audiences.
During the morning the Pope receives cardinals, bishops and ambassadors who are going away on leave, or who have just returned, princes and members of the Roman nobility, and distinguished foreigners. At ten o'clock he takes a cup of broth brought by Centra. At two in the afternoon, or a little earlier, he dines, and he is most abstemious, although he has an excellent digestion. His private physician, Doctor Giuseppe Lapponi, has been heard to say that he himself eats more at one meal than the Holy Father eats in a week. Every day, unless indisposed, some one is received in private audience. These audiences are usually for the cardinal prefects of the congregations, the patriarchs, archbishops and bishops who are in Rome at the time, and distinguished personages.
When the weather is fine the Pope generally walks or drives in the garden. He is carried out of his apartments to the gate in a sedan-chair by the liveried 'sediarii,' or chair-porters; or if he goes out by the small door known as that of Paul the Fifth, the carriage awaits him, and he gets into it with the private chamberlain, who is always a monsignore. It is as well to say here, for the benefit of non-Catholics, that 'monsignori' are not necessarily bishops, nor even consecrated priests, the title being really a secular one. Two Noble Guards of the corps of fifty gentlemen known under that name ride beside the carriage doors. The closed carriage is a simple brougham, having the Pope's coat of arms painted on the door, but in summer he occasionally goes out in an open landau. He drives several times round the avenues, and when he descends, the officer of the Guards dismounts and opens the carriage door. He generally walks in the neighbourhood of the Chinese pavilion and along the Torrione, where the papal observatory is built.
Leo the Thirteenth is fond of variety—and no wonder, shut up for life as he is in the Vatican; he enjoys directing work and improvements in the gardens; he likes to talk with Vespignani, the architect of the Holy Apostolic Palaces, who is also the head of the Catholic party in the Roman municipality, to go over the plans of work he has ordered, to give his opinion, and especially to see that the work itself is executed in the shortest possible time. Time is short for a pope; Sixtus the Fifth, who filled Rome and Italy with himself, reigned only five years; Rodrigo Borgia eleven years; Leo the Tenth, but nine.
In 1893 the Pope began to inhabit the new pavilion designed and built by Vespignani in pure fifteenth-century style. It is built against the Torrione, the ancient round tower constructed by Saint Leo the Fourth about the year 850. In 1894 Leo the Thirteenth made a further extension, and joined another building to the existing one by means of a loggia, on the spot once occupied by the old barracks of the papal gendarmes, who are still lodged in the gardens, and whose duty it is to patrol the precincts by day and night. Indeed, the fact that two dynamiters were caught in the garden in 1894 proves that a private police is necessary.
During the great heat of summer the Pope, after saying mass, goes into the garden about nine in the morning and spends the whole day there, receiving everyone in the garden pavilion he has built for himself, just as he would receive in the Vatican. He dines there, too, and rests afterward, guarded by the gendarmes on duty, to whom he generally sends a measure of good wine—another survival of a country custom; and in the cool of the day he again gets into his carriage, and often does not return to the Vatican till after sunset, toward the hour of Ave Maria.
In the evening, about an hour later,—at 'one of the night,' according to the old Roman computation of time,—he attends at the recitation of the rosary, or evening prayers, by his private chaplain, and he requires his immediate attendants to assist also. He then retires to his room, where he reads, studies or writes verses, and at about ten o'clock he eats a light supper.
While in the garden he is fond of talking about plants and flowers with the director of the gardens. He walks with the officer of the Noble Guards and with the private chamberlain on duty. He speaks freely of current topics, tells anecdotes of his own life and visits the gazelles, goats, deer and other animals kept in the gardens. From the cupola of Saint Peter's the whole extent of the grounds is visible, and when the Pope is walking, the visitors, over four hundred feet above, stop to watch him. He has keen eyes, and sees them also. 'Let us show ourselves!' he exclaims on such occasions. 'At least they will not be able to say that the Pope is ill!'
The Pope's favourite poets are Virgil and Dante. He knows long passages of both by heart, and takes pleasure in quoting them. When Father Michael, the apostolic prefect to Erithrea, was taking his leave, with the other Franciscans who accompanied him to Africa, his Holiness recited to them, with great spirit, Dante's canto upon St. Francis.
The Pope reads the newspapers, passages of interest being marked for him by readers in order to save time. He frequently writes letters to the bishops, and composes encyclicals in a polished and Ciceronian style of Latin. The encyclicals are printed at the private press of the Vatican, an institution founded by him and furnished with all modern improvements. They are first published in the 'Osservatore Romano,' the official daily paper of the Vatican, and then finally translated into Italian and other languages, and sent out to the bishops abroad. Leo the Thirteenth likes to see and talk with men of letters, as well as to read their books. Two years ago he requested Professor Brunelli of Perugia to buy for him the poetical works of the Abbé Zanella. The request is characteristic, for his Holiness insisted upon paying for the book, like anyone else.
When great pilgrimages are to be organized, the first step taken is to form committees at the place of origin. The leader of the pilgrimage is usually the head of the diocese, who then writes to Rome to make the arrangements. The Committee on Pilgrimages provides quarters for the pilgrims, at the Lazaret of Saint Martha, or elsewhere, that they may be properly lodged and fed. On the occasion of the celebrated French workingmen's pilgrimage, the great halls in the Belvedere wing, including the old quarters of the engineer corps, and of the artillery and the riding-school, were opened as dining-halls, where the pilgrims came morning and evening to their meals; the kitchen department and the general superintendence were in charge of Sisters, and everything was directed by the Roman Committee of Pilgrimages. The visitors were received by the Circolo, or Society of Saint Peter's, and by the first Artisan Workmen's Association, the members of which waited at table, wearing aprons. The Circolo has an office for pilgrimages which facilitates arrangements with the railways, and provides lodgings in hotels, inns and private houses in Rome for the well-to-do; but the General Committee on Pilgrimages provides lodgings for the poor. The head of the pilgrimage also makes arrangements for the mass which the Holy Father celebrates for the pilgrims, and for the audience which follows. If the pilgrimage is large, the mass is said in Saint Peter's; if small, in the Vatican, either in the Loggia of the Beatification or in the Sala Ducale. At the audience the pilgrims place their offerings in the Pope's hands, and he blesses the rosaries, crosses and other objects of devotion, and gives small silver medals in memory of the occasion.
Since 1870 the Pope has not conducted the solemn services either in Saint Peter's or in the Sixtine Chapel. The only services of this kind in which he takes part are those held in the Sixtine Chapel on the anniversary of the death of Pius the Ninth, and on the anniversary of his own coronation, March 3. At these two functions there are also present the Sacred College, the bishops and prelates, the Roman nobility, the Knights of Malta, the Diplomatic Corps in full dress, and any foreign Catholic royal princes who may chance to be in Rome at the time. At the 'public' consistories, held with great pomp in the Sala Regia, the Pope gives the new hat to each new cardinal; but there are also 'private' consistories held in the beautiful Sala del Concistoro, near the hall of the Swiss Guards, at the entrance to the Pope's apartments.
Moreover, the Pope appears at beatifications and canonizations, and during the present pontificate these have been generally held in the Hall of Beatifications, a magnificent room with a tribune, above the portico of Saint Peter's, turned into a chapel for the occasion, with innumerable candles and lamps, the transparency of the beatified person, called the Gloria, and standards on which are painted representations of miracles. The last of these ceremonies was held in Saint Peter's, with closed doors, but in the presence of an enormous concourse, with the greatest pomp, the whole of the Noble Guard and the Palatine Guard turning out, and order being preserved by the Swiss Guards, the gendarmes, and the vergers of the basilica, known as the 'Sanpietrini.'
In Holy Week, in order to meet the wants of the many eminent and devout Catholics who then flock to Rome, the Holy Father celebrates mass two or three times in the Sala Ducale, which is then turned into a chapel. During these masses motetts are sung by the famous Sixtine choir, under the direction of the old Maestro Mustafa, once the greatest soprano of the century, but at the same time so accomplished a musician as to have earned the common name of 'Palestrina redivivus.' It is to be regretted that he has never allowed any of his beautiful compositions to be published. On such occasions as Christmas Day or the feast of Saint Joachim, by whose name the Pope was christened, he receives the College of Cardinals, the bishops present in Rome, many prelates, the heads of religious bodies, some officers of the old pontifical army and of the guards, and the dignitaries of the papal court, in his own private library, where he talks familiarly with each in turn, and quite without ceremony. Reigning sovereigns, princes and distinguished persons are received in the grand throne-room, where the throne is covered with red velvet, with coats of arms at the angles of the canopy. Upon a large pier-table, in the rococo style, between the windows and opposite the throne, stands a great crucifix of ivory and ebony, between two candlesticks. The carpet used at such times was presented by Spain. Before the Emperor of Germany's visit the Pope himself gave particular directions for the dressing of the throne and the arrangement of the rooms.
When great personages are received their suites are also presented, after which the Pope retires with his guest to the small private throne-room.
Before coming to the Pope's presence it is necessary to pass through many anterooms, the Sala Clementina, the hall of the palfrenieri and sediarii,—that is, of the grooms and chair-porters,—the hall of the gendarmes, the antechamber of the Palatine Guard, that of the officers on duty, the hall of the Arras, that of the chamberlains and Noble Guards and at last the antechamber of the Maestro di Camera—there are eight in all. Persons received in audience are accompanied by the 'camerieri segreti,' who do the honours in full dress, wearing their chains and carrying their staves.
The private library is a spacious room lined with bookcases made of a yellow wood from Brazil, some of which are curtained. Busts of several former Popes stand upon marble columns.
To the Pope's bedroom, only his private valet and his secretaries have access. It is of small dimensions, and contains only a bed, in an alcove adorned with graceful marble columns, a writing-table, an arm-chair and kneeling stool, and one wardrobe.
Besides these, there is his private study, in which the table and chair stand upon a little carpeted platform, other tables being placed on each side upon the floor, together with an extremely uncomfortable but magnificent straight-backed arm-chair, which is one of the gifts offered on the occasion of the episcopal jubilee. There is, moreover, a little room containing only a lounge and an old-fashioned easy-chair with 'wings' and nothing else. It is here that the Holy Father retires to take his afternoon nap, and the robust nature of his nerves is proved by the fact that he lies down with his eyes facing the broad light of the window.
The private apartment occupies the second floor, according to Italian reckoning, though we Americans should call it the third; it is on a level with Raphael's loggie. The floor above it is inhabited by Cardinal Rampolla, the Secretary of State.
The 'pontifical court,' as it is called, consists (1898) of Cardinal Rampolla, the Secretary of State; Cardinal Mario Mocenni, the pro-prefect of the Holy Apostolic Palaces, a personage of the highest importance, who has sole control of everything connected with the Vatican palace and all the vast mass of adjoining buildings; the Maggiordomo, who, besides many other functions, is the manager of the museums, galleries and inhabited apartments; the Maestro di Camera, who nearly corresponds to a master of ceremonies, and superintends all audiences; the almoner and manager of the papal charities, assisted by a distinguished priest, who is also a lawyer, formerly secretary to the well-known Monsignor de Merode; a monk of the Dominican order, who supervises the issuing of books printed at the Vatican; a chief steward; four private secretaries, who take turns of service lasting a week for each, and are always with the Pope, and finally the chief of the Vatican police. Moreover, his Holiness has his private preacher, who delivers sermons before him in Advent and Lent, and his confessor, both of whom are always Capuchin monks, in accordance with a very ancient tradition.
It must not be supposed by the uninitiated that these few persons in any way represent the central directive administration of the Catholic Church. On the contrary, the only one of them who is occupied in that larger field is Cardinal Rampolla, the Secretary of State. The others are, strictly speaking, the chief personages of the pontifical household, as we should say. But their offices are not sinecures. The Pope's restless energy extracts work from the men about him as one squeezes water from a sponge. In the days of Pius the Ninth, after the fall of the temporal power, the Vatican was overrun and overcrowded with useless but well-paid officials, officers and functionaries great and small, who took refuge there against the advancing wave of change. When Leo the Thirteenth had been on the throne only a few weeks, there was sold everywhere a comic print representing the Pope, with a huge broom, sweeping all the useless people pell-mell down the steps of the Vatican into the Piazza of Saint Peter's. As often happens, the caricaturist saw the truth. In a reign that has lasted twenty years, Leo the Thirteenth has done away with much that was useless, worthless and old-fashioned, and much that cumbered the narrow patch of earth on which so important a part of the world's business is transacted. He is a great simplifier of details, and a strong leveller of obstructions, so that his successor in the pontificate will find it a comparatively easy thing to keep the mechanism in order in its present state.
The strictest economy, even to the minutest details, is practised in the Vatican. It appears certain that the accounts of the vast household have often been inspected by the Pope, whose prime object is to prevent any waste of money where so much is needed for the maintenance of church institutions in all parts of the world. In the midst of outward magnificence the papal establishment is essentially frugal, for the splendid objects in the Pope's apartments, even to many of the articles of furniture, are gifts received from the faithful of all nations. But the money which pours into the Vatican from the contributions of Catholics all over Christendom is only held in trust, to be expended in support of missions, of poor bishoprics, and of such devout and charitable organizations as need help, wherever they may be. That nothing may be lost which can possibly be applied to a good purpose is one of Leo the Thirteenth's most constant occupations. He has that marvellous memory for little things which many great leaders and sovereigns have had; he remembers not only faces and names, but figures and facts, with surprising and sometimes discomfiting accuracy.
In his private life, as distinguished from his public and political career, what is most striking is the combination of shrewdness and simplicity in the best sense of both words. Like Pius the Ninth, he has most firmly set his face against doing anything which could be construed as financially advantageous to his family, who are good gentlefolk, and well to do in the world, but no more. All that he has as Pope he holds in trust for the Church in the most literal acceptation of the term. The contributions of Catholics, on being received, are immediately invested in securities bearing interest, which securities are again sold as may be necessary for current needs, and expended for the welfare of Catholic Christianity. Every penny is most carefully accounted for. These moneys are generally invested in Italian national bonds—a curious fact, and indicative of considerable confidence in the existing state of things, as well as a significant guarantee of the Vatican's good faith towards the monarchy. It is commonly said in Rome among bankers that the Vatican makes the market price of Italian bonds. Whether this be true or not, it is an undeniable fact that the finances of the Vatican are under the direct and exceedingly thrifty control of the Pope himself. To some extent we may be surprised to find so much plain common sense surviving in the character of one who has so long followed a spiritual career. We should not have looked for such practical wisdom in Pius the Ninth. But the times are changed since then, and are most changed in most recent times. The head of the Catholic Church today must be a modern man, a statesman, and an administrator; he must be able to cope with difficulties as well as heresies; he must lead his men as well as guide his flock; he must be the Church's steward as well as her consecrated arch-head; he must be the reformer of manners as well as the preserver of faith; he must be the understander of men's venial mistakes as well as the censor of their mortal sins.
Battles for belief are no longer fought only with books and dogmas, opinions and theories. Everything may serve nowadays, from money, which is the fuel of nations, to wit, which is the weapon of the individual; and the man who would lose no possible vantage must have both a heavy hand and a light touch.
By his character and natural gifts, Leo the Thirteenth is essentially active rather than contemplative, and it is not surprising that the chief acts of his pontificate should have dealt rather with political matters than with questions of dogma and ecclesiastical authority. It has certainly been the object of the present Pope to impress upon the world the necessity of Christianity in general, and of the Roman Catholic Church in particular, as a means of social redemption and a factor in political stability. This seems to be his inmost conviction, as shown in all his actions and encyclical letters. One is impressed, at every turn, by the strength of his belief in religion and in his own mission to spread it abroad. In regard to forms of faith, the opinions of mankind differ very widely, but the majority of intelligent men now living seem to hold a more or less distinct faith of one sort or another, and to require faith of some sort in their fellow-men. Common atheism has had its little day, and is out of fashion. It is certainly not possible to define that which has taken the place of the pseudo-scientific materialism which plagued society twenty or thirty years ago, and it is certainly beyond the province of this book to examine into the current convictions with which we are to begin the twentieth century.
Unprejudiced persons will not, however, withhold their admiration in reviewing the life of a man who has devoted his energies, his intelligence and his strength, not to mention the enormous power wielded by him as the head of the Church, to the furtherance and accomplishment of ends which so many of us believe to be good. For the pontificate of Leo the Thirteenth has differed from that of his predecessor in that it has been active rather than passive. While Pius the Ninth was the head of the Church suffering, Leo the Thirteenth is the leader of the Church militant. This seems to be the reason why he has more than once been accused of inconsistency in his actions, notably in his instructions to French Catholics, as compared with the position he has maintained towards the Italian government. People seem to forget that, whereas the question of temporal power is deeply involved in the latter case, it has nothing whatever to do with the former, and as this question is the one most often brought up against the papacy and discussed in connection with it by people who seem to have very little idea of its real meaning, it may be as well to state here at once the Pope's own view of it.
'The temporary sovereignty is not absolutely requisite for the existence of the papacy, since the Popes were deprived of it during several centuries, but it is required in order that the pontiff's independence may display itself freely, without obstacles, and be evident and apparent in the eyes of the world. It is the social form, so to say, of his guardianship, and of his manifestation. It is necessary—not to existence, but to a right existence. The Pope who is not a sovereign is necessarily a subject, because (in the social existence of a monarchy) there is no mean term between subject and sovereign. A Pope who is a subject of a given government is continually exposed to its influence and pressure, or at least to influences connected with political aims and interests.'
The writer from whom these lines are quoted comes to the natural and logical conclusion that this is not the normal position which should be occupied by the head of the Church. I may remark here that the same view is held in other countries besides Italy. The Emperor of Russia is the undisputed head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Queen Victoria occupies, by the British Constitution, almost exactly the same position towards the Anglican Church. In practice, though certainly not in theory, it is the evident purpose of the young German Emperor, constitutionally or unconstitutionally, to create for himself the same dominant pontifical position in regard to the Churches of the German Empire. It seems somewhat unjust, therefore, that the Popes, whose right to the sovereignty of Rome was for ages as undisputed as that of any King or Emperor in Europe, though secondary in itself to their ecclesiastical supremacy, should be blamed for protesting against what was undoubtedly a usurpation so far as they were concerned, although others may look upon it as a mere incident in the unification of a free people. Moreover, since the unification was accomplished, the vanquished Popes have acted with a fairness and openness which might well be imitated in other countries. The Italians, as a nation, possess remarkable talent and skill in conspiracy, and there is no organization in the world better fitted than that of the Roman Catholic Church for secretly organizing and carrying out a great political conspiracy, if any such thing were ever attempted. The action of the Popes, on the contrary, has been fair and above board.
Both Pius the Ninth and Leo the Thirteenth have stated their grievances in the most public manner, and so far have they been from attempting to exercise their vast influence in directing the politics of Italy that they have enjoined upon Italian Catholics to abstain from political contests altogether. Whether in so doing they have pursued a wise course or not, history will decide, probably according to the taste of the historian; but the fact itself sufficiently proves that they have given their enemies more than a fair chance. This seems to have been the form taken by their protests; and this is a fair answer to the principal accusation brought by non-Catholics against the Pope, namely, that he is ready to sacrifice everything in an unscrupulous attempt to regain possession of temporal power. In other matters Leo the Thirteenth has always shown himself to be a statesman, while Pius the Ninth was the victim of his own meek and long-suffering character. To enter into the consideration of the political action of the Pope during the last fifteen years, would be to review the history of the world during that time. To give an idea of the man's character, it would be sufficient to recall three or four of the principal situations in which he has been placed. A volume might be written, for instance, on his action in regard to the German Army Bill, his position towards Ireland, his arbitration in the question of the Caroline Islands, and his instructions to French Catholics.
It is extremely hard to form a fair judgment from documents alone, and especially from those documents which most generally come before the public, namely, articles in such reviews as the Contemporary Review, on the one hand, and the Civiltà Cattolica on the other. Indeed, the statements on either side, if accepted without hesitation, would render all criticisms futile. Devout Roman Catholics would answer that matters of faith are beyond criticism altogether; but the writers in the Contemporary, for instance, will, with equal assurance, declare themselves right because they believe that they cannot be wrong. It would be better to consult events themselves rather than the current opinions of opposite parties concerning them, to set aside the consideration of the aims rightly or wrongly attributed to Leo the Thirteenth, and to look only on the results brought about by his policy in our time. In cases where actions have a merely negative result, it is just to consider the motive alone, if any criticism is necessary, and here there seems to be no particular reason for doubting the Pope's statement of his own case. For instance, in connection with Ireland, the Pope said, in the document known as 'The Circular Letter of the Propaganda': 'It is just that the Irish should seek to alleviate their afflicted condition; it is just that they should fight for their rights, nor is it denied them to collect money to alleviate the condition of the Irish.' In regard to the same matter, the 'Decree of the Holy Office' reads as follows: 'The Holy See has frequently given opportune advice and counsel to the Irish people (upon whom it has always bestowed especial affection), whenever its affairs seem to require it, by which counsel and advice they might be enabled to defend and vindicate their rights without prejudice to justice, and without disturbing the public peace.' A fairer statement of the rights of men, and a more express injunction against public disturbance of any kind, could hardly be expressed in two short sentences.
Outside of Italy the position of Leo the Thirteenth in Rome is not generally understood. Most people suppose that the expression 'the prisoner in the Vatican,' which he applies to himself, and which is very generally applied to him by the more ardent of Italian Catholics, is a mere empty phrase, and that his confinement within his small dominion is purely a matter of choice. This is not the case. So far as the political theory of the question is concerned, it is probable that the Pope would not in any case be inclined to appear openly on Italian territory unless he showed himself as the official guest of King Humbert, who would naturally be expected to return the visit. To make such an official visit and such an appearance would be in fact to accept the Italian domination in Rome, a course which, as has already been noticed, would be contrary to the accepted Catholic idea of the social basis necessary for the papacy. It would not necessarily be an uncatholic act, however, but it would certainly be an unpapal one. No one would expect the ex-Empress of the French, for instance, to live openly in Paris, as though the Parisians had never been her subjects, and as though she accepted the Republic in a friendly and forgiving spirit. And the case is to all intents and purposes exactly identical.
But this is not all. It is unfortunately true that there is another and much better reason why Leo the Thirteenth cannot show himself in the streets of Rome. It is quite certain that his life would not be safe. The enthusiastic friends of Italy who read glowing accounts of the development of the new kingdom and write eloquent articles in the same strain will be utterly horrified at this statement, and will, moreover, laugh to scorn the idea that the modern civilized Italian could conspire to take the life of a harmless and unoffending old man. They will be quite right. The modern civilized Italians would treat the Pope with the greatest respect and consideration if he appeared amongst them. Most of them would take off their hats and stand aside while he drove by, and a great many of them would probably go down upon their knees in the streets to receive his blessing. The King, who is a gentleman, and tolerant of religious practices, would treat the head of the Church with respect. The Queen, who is not only religious, but devout, would hail the reappearance of the pontiff with enthusiasm. But unfortunately for the realization of any such thing, Rome is not peopled only by modern civilized Italians, nor Italy either. There is in the city a very large body of social democrats, anarchists and the like, not to mention the small nondescript rabble which everywhere does its best to bring discredit upon socialistic principles—a mere handful, perhaps, but largely composed of fanatics and madmen, people half hysterical from failure, poverty, vice and an indigestion of so-called 'free thought.' There have not been many sovereigns nowadays whose lives have not been attempted by such men at one time or another. Within our own memory an Emperor of Russia, a President of the French Republic and two Presidents of the United States have been actually murdered by just such men. The King of Italy, and the Emperor William the First, Napoleon the Third, Queen Victoria and Alexander the Third have all been assailed by such fanatics within our own recollection, and some of them have narrowly escaped death. Not one of them, with the exception of Alexander the Third, has been so hated by a small and desperate body of men as Leo the Thirteenth is hated by the little band which undoubtedly exists in Italy today. I will venture to say that it is a matter of continual satisfaction to the royal family of Italy, and to the Italian government, that the Pope should really continue to consider himself a prisoner within the precincts of the Vatican, since it is quite certain that if he were to appear openly in Rome the Italian authorities would not, in the long run, be able to protect his life.
After all that has been said and preached upon the subject by the friends of Italy, it would be a serious matter indeed if the Pope, taking a practical advantage of his theoretic liberty, should be done to death in the streets of Rome by a self-styled Italian patriot. No one who thoroughly understands Rome at the present day is ignorant that such danger really exists, though it will no doubt be promptly denied by Italian ministers, newspaper correspondents or other intelligent but enthusiastic persons. The hysterical anarchist is unfortunately to be met with all over the world at the present day, side by side with the scientific social democrat, and too often under his immediate protection. Indeed, a great number of the acts of Leo the Thirteenth, if not all of them, have been directed against the mass of social democracy in all its forms, good, bad and indifferent; and to the zeal of his partisans in endeavouring to carry out his suggestions must be attributed some of the strong utterances of the Church's adherents upon matters political.
The question of 'assent and obedience' to the Holy See in matters not relating to dogma and faith is, perhaps, the most important of all those in which the papacy is now involved. There appears to be a decided tendency to believe that Catholics ascribe to the Holy See a certain degree of infallibility in regard to national policy and local elections. The Pope's own words do not inculcate a blind obedience as necessary to the salvation of the voter, though it is expressly declared a grave offence to favour the election of persons opposed to the Roman Catholic Church and whose opinions may tend to endanger its position. The idea that the Pope's political utterances can ever be considered as ex cathedrâ is too illogical to be presented seriously to the world by thinking men. Leo the Thirteenth is undoubtedly a first-rate statesman, and it might be to the advantage not only of all good Catholics but of all humanity, and of the cause of peace itself, to follow his advice in national and party politics whenever practicable. To bind oneself to follow the political dictation of Leo the Thirteenth, and to consider such obedience to the Pope as indispensable to salvation, would be to create a precedent. Pius the Ninth was no statesman at all, and there are plenty of instances in history of Popes whose political advice would have been ruinous, if followed, though it was often formulated more authoritatively and more dictatorially than the injunctions from time to time imparted to Catholics by Leo the Thirteenth. An Alexander the Sixth would be an impossibility in our day; but in theory, if another Rodrigo Borgia should be elected to the Holy See, one should be as much bound to obey his orders in voting for the election of the President of the United States as one can possibly be to obey those of Leo the Thirteenth, seeing that the divine right to direct the political consciences of Catholics, if it existed at all, would be inherent in the papacy as an institution, and not merely attributed by mistaken people to the wise, learned and conscientious man who is now the head of the Catholic Church. But the Pope's utterances have lately been interpreted by his too zealous adherents to mean that every Catholic subject or citizen throughout the world, who has the right to vote in his own country, must give that vote in accordance with the dictates of the Church as a whole, and of his bishop in particular, under pain of committing a very grave offence against Catholic principles. A state in which every action of man, public or private, should be guided solely and entirely by his own religious convictions would no doubt be an ideal one, and would approach the social perfection of a millennium. But in the mean time a condition of society in which society itself should be guided by such political opinions as any one man, human and limited, can derive from his own conscience, pure and upright though it be, would be neither logical nor desirable. There are points in the universal struggle for life which do not turn upon questions of moral right and wrong, and which every individual has a preëminent and inherent right to decide for himself.
Anyone who undertakes to speak briefly of such a personage as Leo the Thirteenth, and of such a question as the 'assent and obedience' of Catholics in matters not connected with morals or belief, lays himself open to the accusation of superficiality. We are all, however, obliged to deal quickly and decisively, in these days, with practical matters of which the discussion at length would fill many volumes. Most of us cannot do more than form an opinion based upon the little knowledge we have, express it as best we may, and pass on. The man who spends a lifetime in the study of one point, the specialist in fact, is often too ignorant of all other matters to form any general opinion worth expressing. Humanity is too broad to be put under a microscope, too strong to be treated like a little child. No one man, today, in this day of many Cæsars, can say surely and exactly what should be rendered to each of them.
Leo the Thirteenth is the leader of a great organization of Christian men and women spreading all over the world; the leader of a vast body of human thought; the leader of a conservative army which will play a large part in any coming struggle between anarchy and order. He may not be here to direct when the battle begins, but he will leave a strong position for his successor to defend, and great weapons for him to wield, since he has done more to simplify and strengthen the Church's organization than a dozen Popes have done in the last two centuries. Men of such character fight the campaigns of the future many times over in their thoughts while all the world is at peace around them, and when the time comes at last, though they themselves be gone, the spirit they called up still lives to lead, the sword they forged lies ready for other hands, the roads they built are broad and straight for the march of other feet, and they themselves, in their graves, have their share in the victories that save mankind from social ruin.
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