Harrison and I, on seeing black smoke at Roma just now, turn ourselves to gaiety while awaiting white, some other day soon quick to come, pray God.


Francisco Goya


The Third of May, 1808, Painted in 1814

This painting shows Napoleon’s attack on Spain in 1808. Prior to this, most paintings showed war as being a glorious thing. This painting shows it as being cruel and subhuman.  Note that the soldiers look mechanical whereas the ones being shot look full of life.

In truth, Senor Goya more aptly described the action in a Papal Conclave as we see in this volley of riposte between Harrison and me just now.

We’ll let Harry lead this dance and I’ll follow:

Jack–From Weigel’s article:

The following conclave, in 1914, was another donnybrook, between
anti-Modernist forces and those who sought to reinstate the reformist
approach of Leo XIII. At the end, the leader of the losing party, Rafael
Cardinal Merry del Val, challenged the validity of the election of his
arch-enemy, Giacomo Cardinal della Chiesa (Rampolla’s former assistant), on
the grounds that della Chiesa had voted for himself in an election decided
by one vote. So della Chiesa sat in the Sistine Chapel, in a state that can
only be imagined, while all the ballots were reopened and it was determined
that he had not, in fact, cast the vote that had given him a two-thirds
supermajority – and thus was duly elected pope. When the cardinals came up
to kiss the new pope’s foot, knee, and hand (a ritual that has been
abolished), Benedict XV looked into the face of Merry del Val, the man who
had just publicly humiliated him, and said (without, one expects, much
warmth), “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”
Not without a certain aplomb, Merry del Val looked into the new pope’s face
and responded with the next verse of Psalm 118, “This is the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.” Benedict XV was not mollified, and Merry
del Val was swiftly ejected from the Vatican.


Harry–you know, my Mommy was born at Milano and when I read stories like this, I just laugh and talk to myself in Italian-the gist of which is “the guineas–if you don’t know them at birth–you can never know them.”  Lovey says the only times she can be certain that I am truly angry is when I start, suddenly, to speak in Italian. She will ask ” what did you just say, Thurston?”  and I will say–“what do you mean, Lovey?”  I genuinely don’t remember when I cross over into that–others will ask Lovey–“what did Thurston just say?” and she’ll say “I’ve no idea but he’s really angry so don’t go near him for awhile.”  Ring me sometime soon–thanks for this–it’s hilarious–I’ll send it to the other kids in our group–they need to learn that what they consider to be throwing sharp elbows in this candy store town is a complete joke–if you took the most savage political beasts from this town from the founding of America to Roma and put them in the conclave today, they would be crying for their mommies in 3 seconds–more knives hidden in more places than you could ever imagine in your life–and you can’t leave the room–cloak and dagger where it was invented–when people say, “Geepers, Peepers, things are so factionalized and partisan and nasty here these days at Washington,” the guineas just look at them very quizzically, shake their heads, laugh inside and start to speak Italian to themselves–the true language of really bad political combat–Jack



I’m so glad you enjoyed that. Your commentary was wonderful and
reminded me of one of my favorite quotes of all-time, i.e., Harold
McMillan on observing the Kennedy brothers after the ’61 Inauguration:
“It’s like watching the Borgias and the Medicis take over a
respectable north Italian town.” 🙂

Harry–Now–that’s very funny—it is–I’d never heard that–my family knew them pretty well–jack was an interesting mind–his brothers–I’ll pass–but jack had a good mind and he was interested in talking to people –remind me to tell you someday maybe on the phone a really funny story about myself and jack and my dad and the angelic young Pelosi—her momma always dressed her like it was nancy patricia’s first Holy Comminion—really a riot —she was pretty nice looking girl—hot in fact—in 1958, anyway, also present was pelosi’s daddy—a genuine democrat—back when they actually cared a toss about working people—all of us  in a reception,—jack was just getting set to make that big move—jack was smart and he was a stone, cold hustler—I really liked him—watching him on the stone hustle, he could have passed for a guinea himself–I admire that trait in the Irish in particular Micks born to the Manor—it was likely 1958, 59 or so—story is truly a kick–if you’ve got the time and the dime–ring me–best is 202-557-1064–jack

That’s great, Jack! My grandfather was literally best friends with
Tommy Fitzgerald, Rose’s brother. My father always said it was hard
not to like Jack but he loathed Bobby and Ted (the latter a Harvard
classmate – arrogant, spoiled rotten, and dumb as a post)).
I am stacked up with con calls today but will call soon.

Harry–I’ve written before of my keen admiration for Jack–comme ca:


Harry and I both pray for white smoke from Roma, and soon, pray God be willing that.

May God guide their hands, minds, hearts and souls in the conclave now underway.


John Daniel Begg

At Washington DC

Tuesday, 12th March, Anno Domini Nostri Iesu Christi, 2013

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