Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/360

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armies and with oratorical Russian agents to oppose their ideal of republican freedom and autonomous liberalism to "reaction." A net- work of secret clubs and lodges spread over the whole of Italy and prepared the way for that civic and philosophical attitude of mind which decades later would end the political control of Italy by the Papacy. The counter movement of the San Fides (Santa Fede}, which sought to defend the faith, could muster no superiority, least of all moral superiority, and possessed no political idea round which it could rally a majority. The uncreative opposition of the intransi- gents, the ZeUnti, who suspected Consalvfs skillful opportunism of being liberal, completely severed the Papacy, after Pius VII's death, from virile co-operation with the age. Friends of the Holy See did it as much harm as its enemies.

Meanwhile, by the mere fact that it existed, the Papacy remained a power and exerted an influence, even though it did not itself try to extend thai influence. The idea incorporated in it and its historical greatness sufficed to make the world honour once again this symbol of being in the midst of becoming, this spirit of abiding truth that stood above the turbulent waters of change. Though the partisans of the ancicn regime might look upon the oldest legitimate throne and hearth of what authority there was left in Europe merely as an instrument to sanction rule by divine right, and though in brilliant salons the sons of: a sceptical century congratulated each other that the Church was still there to act as the facade behind which the old rulers could march to their thrones again, there was deep and widespread popular longing for a reality that had been lost.

This yearning was common to all those manifestations which are summarized under the term Romanticism. Men sought a place to which they could escape from the cold, glaring light of emancipation and from the war-torn present. Whatever was not of today, what- ever retreated from the senses and led to the infinite and the dark, whatever could not be touched but only believed all this possessed a new power to arouse and sometimes also to comfort the human heart. The powers which looked back upon a long array of ancestors were besought to bring salvation to an era that was on the verge of collapse. Accordingly everything that was of antiquity, including the Middle Ages and the Church as the great dispenser of historical