CORRECTING A CARDINAL - Sept. 26, 1796
This letter is typical of Napoleon's reaction toward anyone who
opposed his designs. It is written to a Cardinal that had opposed the
anti-papal revolt which enabled Napoleon to include Ferrara in the
Cispadane Republic he was trying to establish in Italy.
Headquarters, Milan, September 26, 1796.
To Cardinal Mattei
Your character, which is a cause of congratulation to all who
know you, induces me to allow your return to Ferrara, and to throw a
veil of oblivion over your behavior during the last month.
I am glad to think that you did no more than forget a principle
of whose truth your native intelligence and your knowledge of the
Gospel must have convinced you - that any priest who interferes in
politics ceases to deserve the regard due to his character.
Go back to your diocese: put into practice the virtues that
everyone agrees you possess: but never again meddle in State affairs.
And be assured that the clergy, and all who are in the service of the
Church, will be under the special protection of the French Republic.
The letter is brief but succinct. With his usual charm Napoleon
cajoles the Cardinal in an attempt to win him over. His reprimand
reads like a benevolent father speaking to his son. Yet, his demand
that the good Cardinal "never again meddle in State affairs" hints at
the serious consequences of future misconduct. The final sentence
very subtly emphasizes his point that the Cardinal's welfare is
contingent on his confining his activities to 'the service of the