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The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Volume 1, February, 1865   By:

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[Concluded from page 167.]

This laconic answer produced on Napoleon an extraordinary effect. He started, and fixed on the Cardinal a long and searching look. The man of iron will felt that he had to deal with another will, which, while it matched his own for firmness, surpassed it in the power that ever springs from self control. Taking advantage of the Consul's surprise, Consalvi went on to say that he could not exceed his powers, nor could he agree to terms in opposition to the principles of the Holy See; that it was not possible in ecclesiastical matters to act as freely as was allowable in urgent cases wherein only temporal matters were concerned. Besides, in fairness the rupture could not be laid to the Pope's charge, seeing that his minister had agreed to all the articles with one single exception, and that even this one had not been definitely rejected, but merely referred to the judgment of his Holiness.

Somewhat calmed, the Consul interrupted, saying that he did not wish to leave after him unfinished works; he would have all or none. The Cardinal having replied that he had no power to negotiate on the article in question as long as it remained in its present shape, Napoleon's former excitement flashed out once more as he repeated with fire his resolution to insist on it just as it was, without a syllable more or less. "Then I will never sign it", replied the Cardinal, "for I have no power to do so". "And that is the very reason", cried the other, "why I say that you wished to break off the negotiations, and that I look on the business as settled, and that Rome shall open her eyes, and shall shed tears of blood for this rupture". Then almost rudely pushing his way through the company, he went about in every direction, declaring that he would change the religion of Europe; that no power could resist him; that he would not be alone in getting rid of the Pope, but would throw the whole of Europe into confusion: it was all the Pope's fault, and the Pope should pay the penalty.

The Austrian minister, the Count de Cobenzel, full of consternation at the scene, ran at once towards the Cardinal, and with warm entreaty, implored of him to find some means of averting so dreadful a calamity. Once more had the Cardinal to hear from lips to which fear lent most earnest eloquence, the harrowing description of the evils in store for religion and for Europe. "But what can be done", he replied, "in the face of the obstinate determination of the First Consul, to resist all change in the form of the article?" The conversation was here interrupted by the summons to dinner. The meal was short, and was the most bitter the Cardinal had ever tasted in his life. When they returned to the saloon, the Count resumed his expostulations. Bonaparte seeing them in conversation, came up to the Count, and said that it was a loss of time to try to overcome the obstinacy of the Pope's minister; and then, with his usual vivacity and energy, he repeated his former threats. The Count respectfully answered that, on the contrary, he found the Pope's minister sincerely anxious to come to terms, and full of regret at the rupture; no one but the First Consul himself could lead the way to a reconciliation. "In what manner?" asked Bonaparte, with great interest. "By authorising the commissioners to hold another sitting", replied the Count, "and to endeavour to introduce some such modification of the contested point as might satisfy both parties". These and other remarks of the Count were urged with such tact and grace, that after some resistance, Napoleon at last yielded. "Well, then", cried he, "to prove to you that it is not I who seek to quarrel, I consent that the commissioners shall meet on to morrow for the last time. Let them see if there be any possibility of an agreement; but, if they separate without coming to terms, the rupture may be looked on as final, and the Cardinal may go... Continue reading book >>

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