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of the Church, but not leaving behind the sting with which they pricked while they sucked.1 Whether lilies or bees, it was the same. The latter pontiff gave to nepotism fulness of power when he resolved "to have no business with any one not dependent upon his house." 2 In the same spirit he excused himself from making a man cardinal because he had "always been the enemy of his nephews."3 Although nothing so positive is recorded of Paul the Fifth, who was a Borghese, his nepotism appears in the Roman saying, that, "while serving the Church as a good shepherd, he gave too much wool to his nephews." These instructive incidents, illustrating the pontifical pretension, reflect light on the history of palaces and galleries at Rome, now admired by the visitor from distant lands. If not created, they were at least enlarged by nepotism.
It does not always appear how many relations a Pope endowed. Often it was all, as in the case of Gregory the Thirteenth, who, besides advancing a nephew actually at Rome, called thither all his nephews and grandnephews, whether from brothers or sisters, and gave them offices, dignities, governments, lordships, prelacies, and abbacies.5 Cæsar Borgia and his sister Lucretia were not the only relations of Alexander the Sixth. I do not find the number adopted by Sixtus, the founder of the system. Pius the Fourth, who was of the grasping Medicean family, favored no less than twenty-five." Alexander the Seventh, of the Chigi family, had about
him five nephews and one brother, which a contemporary characterized as "nepotism all complete." This pontiff began his reign by forbidding his relations to appear at Rome, which redounded at once to his credit throughout the Christian world, while the astonished people discoursed of his holiness and the purity of his life, expecting even to see miracles. In making the change, he yielded evidently to immoral pressure and the example of predecessors.
The performances of papal nephews figure in history. After the Borgias were the Caraffas, who obtained power through Paul the Fourth; but at last becoming too insolent and rapacious, their uncle was compelled to strip them of their dignities and drive them from Rome.2 Sometimes nephews were employed chiefly in ministering to pontifical pleasures, as in the case of Julius the Third, who, according to the historian, "thought of nothing but banqueting with this one and that one, keeping his relations in Rome rather to accompany him at banquets than to aid him in the government of the holy Church, about which he thought little." 8 This occasion for relations does not exist at Rome now, as the pontiff leads a discreet life, always at home, and never banquets abroad.
These historic instances make us see nepotism in its original seat. Would you know how it was regarded there? Sometimes it was called a hydra with many heads, sprouting anew at the election of a pontiff, then again it was called Ottoman rather than Christian in character. The contemporary historian who has
1 Nipotismo di Roma, Parte I. pp. 179–80.
2 Ibid., pp. 92-93.
8 Ibid., Parte II. p. 132.
4 Ibid., p. 75.
5 Ibid., p. 142.
described it so minutely says that those who merely read of it without seeing it will find it difficult to believe or even imagine. The qualities of a Pope's relation were said to be "ignorance and cunning."2 It is easy to believe that this prostitution of the head of the Church was one of the abuses which excited the cry for Reform, and awakened even in Rome the echoes of Martin Luther. A Swedish nobleman visiting Rome is recorded as declaring himself unwilling to be the subject of a pontiff who was himself the subject of his own relations. But even this pretension was not without open defenders, while the general effrontery with which it was maintained assumed that it was above question. If some gave with eyes closed, most gave with eyes open. It was said that Popes were not to neglect their own blood, that they should not show themselves worse than the beasts, not one of which fails to caress its relations; and the case of bears and lions, the most ferocious of all, was cited as authority for this recognition of one's own blood. All this was soberly said, and it is doubtless true. Not even a Pope can justly neglect his own blood; but help and charity must be at his own expense, and not at the expense of his country. In appointments to office, merit and not blood is the only just recommendation.
That nepotism has ceased to lord itself in Rome, that no pontiff billets his relations upon the Church, that the appointing power of the Pope is treated as a public trust and not as a personal perquisite, — all this is the present testimony with regard to that government which knows from experience the baneful character of this abuse.
Nipotismo di Roma, Parte II. p. 145. 2 Ibid., p. 152.
8 Ibid., p. 11.
4 Ibid., p. 18.
AMERICAN AUTHORITIES ON NEPOTISM.
THE nepotism of Rome was little known in our country, and I do not doubt that Washington, when declining to make the Presidential office a personal perquisite, was governed by that instinct of duty and patriotism which rendered him so preeminent. Through all the perils of a seven years' war he had battled with that kingly rule which elevates a whole family without regard to merit, fastening all upon the nation, and he had learned that this royal system could find no place in a republic. Therefore he rejected the claims of relations, and in nothing was his example more beautiful. His latest biographer, Washington Irving, records him as saying:
"So far as I know my own mind, I would not be in the remotest degree influenced in making nominations by motives arising from the ties of family or blood."1
Then again he declared his purpose to "discharge the duties of the office with that impartiality and zeal for the public good which ought never to suffer connections of blood or friendship to intermingle so as to have the least sway on decisions of a public nature." 2
This excellent rule of conduct is illustrated by the advice to his successor with regard to the promotion of his son, John Quincy Adams. After giving it as his "decided opinion" that the latter "is the most valuable public character we have abroad," and promises to be "the ablest of all our diplomatic corps," Washington declares:
1 Irving's Life of Washington, Vol. V. p. 22. See also the writings of Washington, ed. Sparks, Vol. IX. p. 479, note.
2 Letter to Benjamin Harrison, March 9, 1789: Writings, ed. Sparks, Vol. IX. p. 476.
"If he was now to be brought into that line, or into any other public walk, I could not, upon the principle which has regulated my own conduct, disapprove of the caution which is hinted at in the letter." 1
Considering the importance of the rule, it were better for the country if it had prevailed over parental regard and the extraordinary merits of the son.
In vindicating his conduct at a later day, John Adams protested against what he called "the hypersuperlative public virtue" of Washington, and insisted: "A President ought not to appoint a man because he is his relation; nor ought he to refuse or neglect to appoint him for that reason." 2 With absolute certainty that the President is above all prejudice of family and sensitive to merit only, this rule is not unreasonable; but who can be trusted to apply it?
Jefferson developed and explained the true principles in a manner worthy of republican institutions. In a letter to a relation immediately after becoming President, he wrote:
"The public will never be made to believe that an appointment of a relative is made on the ground of merit alone, uninfluenced by family views; nor can they ever see with approbation offices, the disposal of which they intrust to their Presidents for public purposes, divided out as family property. Mr. Adams degraded himself infinitely by his conduct on this subject, as General Washington had done himself the greatest honor. With two such examples to proceed by, I should be doubly inexcusable to err.
After his retirement from the Presidency, in a letter to a kinsman, he asserts the rule again:
1 Washington to Adams, February 20, 1797: Works of John Adams, Vol. VIII. p. 530.
2 Letter to Madison, March 23, 1813.
8 Letter to George Jefferson, March 27, 1801: Writings, Vol. IV. p. 388.