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Edmond François Valentin About
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 194 pages of information about The Roman Question.

His family is flourishing.  His four brothers, Filippo, Luigi, Gregorio, and—­save the mark!—­Angelo, all wore the cioccie in their younger days; they now, one and all, wear the count’s coronet.  One is governor of the bank, a capital post, and since poor Campana’s condemnation he has got the Monte di Pieta.  Another is Conservator of Rome, under a Senator especially selected for his incapacity.  Another follows openly the trape of a monopolist, with immense facilities for either preventing or authorizing exportation, according as his own warehouses happen to be full or empty.  The youngest is the commercial traveller, the diplomatist, the messenger of the family, Angelus Domini.  A cousin of the family, Count Dandini, reigns over the police.  This little group is perpetually at work adding to a fortune which is invisible, impalpable, and incalculable.  The house of Antonelli is not pitied at Sonnino.

As for the Secretary of State, all who know him intimately, both men and women, agree that he leads a pleasant life.  If it were not for the bore of making head against the diplomatists, and giving audience every morning, he would be the happiest of mountaineers.  His tastes are simple; a scarlet silk robe, unlimited power, an enormous fortune, a European reputation, and all the pleasures within man’s reach—­this trifle satisfies the simple tastes of the Cardinal Minister.  Add, by the bye, a splendid collection of minerals, perfectly classified which he is constantly enriching with the passion of an amateur and the tenderness of a father.

I was saying just now that he has always escaped the sacrament of Holy Orders.  He is Cardinal Deacon.  The good souls who will have it that all goes well at Rome, dwell with fervour on the advantage he possesses in not being a priest.  If he is accused of possessing inordinate wealth, these indulgent Christians reply, that he is not a priest!  If you charge him with having read Machiavelli to good purpose; admitted—­what then?—­he is no priest!  If the tongue of scandal is over-free with his private life; still the ready reply, that he is not a priest!  If Deacons are thus privileged, what latitude may we not claim who have not even assumed the tonsure?

This highly-blest mortal has one weakness—­truly a very natural one.  He fears death.  A certain fair lady, who had been honoured by his Eminence’s particular attentions, thus illustrated the fact,

“Upon meeting me at our rendezvous, he seized me like a madman, and with trembling eagerness examined my pockets.  It was only when he had assured himself that I had no concealed weapon about me that he seemed to remember our friendship.”

One man alone has dared to threaten a life so precious to itself, and he was an idiot.  Instigated by some of the secret societies, this poor crazed wretch concealed himself beneath the staircase of the Vatican, and awaited the coming of the Cardinal.  When the

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