The malcontents are not all of the same complexion. Some politely and vainly ask the Holy Father to reform abuses: this is the moderate party. Others propose to themselves a thorough reform of the government: they are called radicals, revolutionists, or Mazzinists—rather an injurious term. This latter category is not precisely nice as to the measures to be resorted to. It holds, with the Society of Jesus, that the end justifies the means. It says, if Europe leaves it tete-a-tete with the Pope, it will begin by cutting his throat; and if foreign potentates oppose such criminal violence, it will fling bombs under their carriages.
The moderate party expresses itself plainly, the Mazzinists noisily. Europe must be very stupid, not to understand the one; very deaf, not to hear the other.
What then happens?
All the States which desire peace, public order, and civilization, entreat the Pope to correct some abuse or other. “Have pity,” they say, “if not upon your subjects, at least upon your neighbours, and save us from the conflagration!”
As often as this intervention is renewed, the Pope sends for his Secretary of State. The said Secretary of State is a Cardinal who reigns over the Holy Father in temporal matters, even as the Holy Father reigns over a hundred and thirty nine millions of Catholics in spiritual matters. The Pope confides to the Cardinal Minister the source of his embarrassment, and asks him what is to be done.
The Cardinal, who is the minister of everything in the State, replies, without a moment’s hesitation, to the old sovereign:—
“In the first place, there are no abuses: in the next place, if there were any, we must not touch them. To reform anything is to make a concession to the malcontents. To give way, is to prove that we are afraid. To admit fear, is to double the strength of the enemy, to open the gates to revolution, and to take the road to Gaeta, where the accommodation is none of the best. Don’t let us leave home. I know the house we live in; it is not new, but it will last longer than your Holiness—provided no attempt is made to repair it. After us the deluge; we’ve got no children!”
“All very true,” replies the Pope.
“But the sovereign who is entreating me to do something, is an eldest son of the Church. He has rendered us great services. He still protects us constantly. What would become of us if he abandoned us?”
“Don’t be alarmed,” says the Cardinal. “I’ll arrange the matter diplomatically.” And he sits down, and writes an invariable note, in a diplomatically tortuous style, which may thus be summed up:—