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of Pope Sixtus, and all Rome flocked to see it. After the great doors of the Basilica had been closed in the evening by order of the college, on the suggestion of Paris de Grassis, the Pope's chamberlain, an autopsy was held upon the body. · The body was found to be of a dark purple colour, which . was taken as a sign of poison. The corpse was stripped in
the presence of the four doctors and stretched out as they • quarter malefactors. When opened traces of poison were • discovered, and the doctors gave it as their opinion that he died therefrom. The body was dressed again by my brother and placed in its coffin, with four bricks under its head; it was then walled into the tomb at the foot of the altar of • Pope Innocent.' Another authority, however, the letter of Jerome Bon, quoted by Ranke, throws some doubt on the unanimity of opinion among the doctors. It is not known for certain,' he says, whether the Pope died of poison or
He was opened. Master Ferando says he was * poisoned; others thought not; of this opinion is Master Severnio, who saw him opened, and says he was not
poisoned. We must remember, however, that Signor Bon had not the advantage of being present at the autopsy in St. Peter's as had the anonymous author whom we quoted. It is highly probable that the Pope was poisoned by his butler, Bernabò Malaspina. Paulus Jovius declares that he must have died alicujus nobilis veneni sævitia ; ' and finally Leo's chamberlain, who may possibly have been the brother of our anonymous letter writer, and was in all probability present at the autopsy, tells us that the doctors gave it for certain that he died poisoned.'
It may be worth while to quote in conclusion a curious document, the offer made by Celio Malaspina to the Council of Ten. The offer was rejected, it is true, but it casts a strange light on the childlike ingenuousness of the men who made such vast proposals with so little prospect of accomplishing them.
'Serene prince, illustrious lords :*Your faithful servant, Celio Malaspina says that, in his youth having served many princes, and made the wars with them, he has always observed that they courted, honoured, and rewarded all those who by any rare or conspicuous ability devoted themselves to the conservation of republics and states. He therefore applied himself with diligence to devise some new invention whereby he might be of service to the State and acquire honour and reward in the pay of some prince; and, soldier and professor of war though he was, he perceived that the science of handwriting, by which the whole world is governed and directed, could bring to him that profit and honour which he so ardently desired. To this science accordingly he gave himself up, sparing neither time, trouble, nor fatigue until he had mastered it so thoroughly that the forgery of every kind of handwriting of all conditions of men—an achievement which the world may haply think impossible and incredible—has become for him both easy and certain. He now offers to your Serenity to forge every kind of writing so. perfectly that detection shall be impossible. This offer applies to Latin, Italian, French, and Spanish, languages with which he is acquainted. The other languages which he does not know, German, Greek, Slave, Hebrew, and Turkish, he will undertake to forge if an interpreter be supplied him to translate the letters. And because these forgeries would remain incomplete, could we not also forge the seals of letters as we require them, he also offers and promises to find sure and easy means to counterfeit them all. Heads declaring succinctly the uses to which this science may be
put:"To sow dissensions and discords between Princes, Generals, Colonels, Captains, and other important personages.
• To seize by stratagem many strong places in time of war or peace.
• To delay the assault on a beseiged city by throwing doubt on the good faith of Generals, Officers, and Captains. To liberate prisoners of importance. To entice the enemy
to leave their defences, and so to cut them to pieces.
* To raise money all over the world.
• To govern the votes in the Sacred College, and so to make a Pope to your fancy.
*To secure the arrest of any sort of person you choose.
"To upset the marriages of Princes and other high personages, and also to assist such marriages.
* To raise troops in an enemy's country.
"To upset treaties by altering and forging despatches, credentials, safe-conducts, and passports.
. Finally, to ruin all the Pashas and other lords in the service of the Grand Turk, rendering them suspect of treachery.
And all this I would gladly do, first for the service of God, and next for the service of this thrice happy dominion.'
The instances we have quoted will have sufficiently served to show us the nature of the proposals made to the Council of Ten, and the sort of men who made them.
If we turn now to the question of the poisons themselves, the mode of preparing them, and the way to administer them, the documents before us supply abundant information. The number of poison makers must have been considerable. We come across 'quelli dalvenen,'who lived on the Lago di Garda; the famous poison-brewers, Peter Paul of Padua, Master John. and Master Nichele of Vicenza, and nostro fidel Vilandrino, custodian of the garden of simples at Padua. The poisons which these masters made were of two kinds : slow poisons,
.veneni a tempo,' and rapid poisons; and the manner of administering them was various. The method most frequently in use was either poisoned meat or poisoned drink; and we have seen proof made of the 'venenum edibile' and of the venenum potabile’ upon two pigs in the presence of the Ten. There were other modes of poisoning, however, though they were less commonly adopted. We find instances of that favourite Indian receipt, pounded diamond. Again in the year 1585 the French ambassador relates to the college an attempt on the life of the King of France by means of poisoned seals, which had effectually killed three slaves on whom they had first been tried. And in 1499, Caterina Sforza, mistress of Forli, which city Cesare Borgia threatened to take from her, attempted to poison Alexander VI. by means of credentials which her ambassador brought to his Holiness, wrapped in scarlet cloth and placed inside a hollow cane that they might not kill the bearers. These are cases of poisoning by touch. We hear also of proposals to poison by smell; of little balls to be dropped on a fire, and presently they will kill all who are in the room.
Nothing strikes us as stranger about these poisons than their inefficacy. In the year 1514 we find Vilandrino, one of the most famous masters in his day, sent for and told that, as the fire at the Palace has destroyed the poison cupboard and its receipts, he must furnish some two or three more, and must send in the receipts along with his new poisons. Vilandrino produced a poisoned water; but when this came to be tried on a certain Mustafa, he was none the worse for it. The Ten ordered a second dose; and after waiting eight days with no more satisfactory results, they conclude in disgust that Vilandrino's water is worth nothing, and send him back to Padua. This general inefficacy of the poisons will appear less strange when the reader has perused the following receipt for a poison, and the instruction to the mode of administering the drug. It will be obvious that the chief difficulty a poisoner had to face was one which they recognised themselves, the impossibility of getting any of their poisons to stay upon the stomach.
April 21, 1540. “Whoever wishes to sublimate four or five pounds of mixture must have his stove of bricks and a plate with holes in it supported over the stove. He must have five jars, one containing ten litres, another eight, and the rest six; and he must use the largest the first time, the second largest the next time, and so on. He must have at hand potter's clay and horsehair in equal parts, well mixed together. With the clay and hair let him cover that part of the jar that the fire reaches. Take the powder and put it in the jar; see that the powder is well ground and mixed. Cover the mouth of the jar, but leave a little hole, so that it can evaporate for an hour; then close it hermetically with clay. From the top of the stove to the bottom of the jar fill round with clay, so that all the heat may reach the jar. Give it a slow fire for two hours, then increase the heat gradually till four hours, then a stronger fire to six, and a stronger still to nine hours, but not excessive. At that heat continue to twenty-four hours. Lift the jar off the fire, break it, and take what you find in the neck, for that is the good stuff. Have a painter's mixing stone at hand, and grind and mix well this first sublimation. Put the powder in the second jar of eight litres; seal its mouth, and place it on the fire; a hole for evaporation is no more required throughout the operation. Give it fire, as above, for sixteen hours. Lift the jar off; take what is in the neck and grind it, as above. Repeat the operation with the third jar, leaving it on the fire only twelve hours; the fourth jar nine hours, and the fifth jar seven hours. Take a round glass flask with a neck that may be hermetically sealed by the glassblower; you must tell the man who seals the flask that the substance is volatile, and he will know what to do. The flask must be well washed and dried before anything is put into it. Take the flask with the powder and water in it. Set it on a slow fire of charcoal. Have a light ready, and constantly look into the flask to see if the liquid is boiling ; when it begins to boil raise it off the fire a little, and keep it at a gentle simmer. If the simmering threatens to stop, add a little fuel. Continue till there remain two or three tumblerfuls of liquid in the flask. Take out the liquid and place it in a retort whose receiver will contain six tumblerfuls. Distil the liquid at a slow fire of charcoal. When distilled, place it in a glass jar, seal well with red or green sealing wax, cover the seal with a piece of kid and tie tightly To make two litres of the liquid you require : Sublimate of silver
2 lbs. Arsenic
6 gros. Realgar
6 Orpiment :
6 Salts of ammonia
6 Salts of hartshorn
4 All these substances powdered are put in the first sublimation; in the second you must add four gross of aconite root, fresh cut if possible ; in the jar that is to be sealed you must put ten pounds of water of cyclamen, called in the vulgar sow-bread.'
So far for the manufacture of a poison. Here is the way in which one is to be administered.
* The method of administering the poison is this. In every tumbler
• A grosso is the tenth part of a square inch.
of wine put a scruple. If you wish to poison a flask of wine, one scruple to every tumblerful the flask contains. You must take care, however, that the patient does not drink more than one or two glasses. If he does he will be sick, and the poison will not have the desired effect. You must know, that should the victim be sick, a violent fever will ensue, and will last five or six days; after the fever passes he is safe; but on the appearance of the symptom of sickness you must repeat the dose, and continue to do so until he has kept at least one glass on his stomach. The infallible way is the tumbler. The wine flask sometimes fails, the tumbler never. You must leave no air-hole in the stopper of the jar, otherwise in the space of four hours the whole will evaporate, leaving nothing, zero. I send two qualities, one in a round and the other in a flat jar. If the victim be young and robust, use the round; if he be old, use the other.'
After reading such directions as the above, we cannot wonder at the habitual failure to poison. It is evident that the poisons were concocted upon no scientific principles at
the sole object being to collect into one mixture as many poisonous materials as possible.
About the middle of the sixteenth century the proposals to poison reached the Council of Ten so frequently that they were obliged to institute a separate register in which all such offers were recorded. As we have already seen, there was in the Ducal Palace a cupboard specially set apart for the poisons which the Ten kept in store. One of the last documents in M. Lamansky's collection relates to the confusion into which this poison cupboard had fallen. It runs thus :
• 1755, 16 December. Seeing that the poisonous substances for the service of this tribunal were scattered about among the shelves of the archives, to the great risk of some accident, and that many of these said poisons were grown corrupt through age, and of several neither the nature nor the dose was known, their Excellencies, desirous of arranging such delicate matter in the good order necessary for its use and security, have commanded the consignments of all these poisons to a separate casket, in which a book shall be kept to explain the nature and the dose of each one for the guidance of their successors.'
And with this document we will close our consideration of the Council of Ten and political assassination. The whole truth is known; nothing further of importance remains to be published on this matter. A few more documents may possibly be discovered, but they will not alter the general aspect of the case. The worst has been said, and no defence is possible. We revolt in horror at the baseness of the means adopted, and we despise the weakness with which those means were put in operation. We are tempted to