Peter to Paul. “It seems to me, old fellow, that we are somewhat forsaken here.”
Paul to Peter. “What would you have? We are no longer anything. There is but James in the world now.”
I am aware that hatred proves nothing—even the hatred of Apostles. The French nation, which claims to be thought just, insulted the funeral procession of Louis XIV. It also occasionally detested Henri IV. for his economy, and Napoleon for his victories. No statesman should be judged upon the testimony of his enemies. The only evidence we should admit either for or against him, is his public acts. The only witnesses to which any weight should be attributed are the greatness and the prosperity of the country he governs.
Such an inquiry would, I fear, be ruinous to Antonelli. The nation reproaches him with all the evils it has suffered for the last ten years. The public wretchedness and ignorance, the decline of the arts, the entire suppression of liberty, the ever-present curse of foreign occupation,—all fall upon his head, because he alone is responsible for everything.
It may be alleged that he has at least served the reactionary party. I much doubt it. What internal factions has he suppressed? Secret societies have swarmed in Rome during his reign. What remonstrances from without has he silenced? Europe continues to complain unanimously, and day by day lifts up its voice a tone or two higher. He has failed to reconcile one single party or one single power to the Holy father. During his ten years’ dictatorship, he has neither gained the esteem of one foreigner nor the confidence of one Roman. All he has gained is time. His pretended capacity is but slyness. To the trickery of the present he adds the cunning of the red Indian; but he has not that largeness of view without which it is impossible to establish firmly the slavery of the people. No one possesses in a greater degree than he the art of dragging on an affair, and manoeuvring with and tiring out diplomatists; but it is not by pleasantries of this sort that a tottering tyranny can be propped up. Although he employs every subterfuge known to dishonest policy, I am not quite sure that he has even the craft of a politician.
The attainment of his own end does not in fact require it. For after all, what is his end? In what hope, with what aim, did he come down from the mountains of Sonnino?
Do you really believe he thought of becoming the benefactor of the nation?—or the saviour of the Papacy?—or the Don Quixote of the Church? Not such a fool! He thought, first, of himself; secondly, of his family.