Then, as to Pope Pius, no one could, both by his words and by deeds, offend them more. He claimed, he exercised larger powers than any other Pope ever did; he committed himself to ecclesiastical acts bolder than those of any other Pope; his secular policy was especially distasteful to Englishmen; he had some near him who put into print just that kind of gossip concerning him which put an Englishman's teeth on edge; lastly, he it was who, in the beginning of his reign, was the author of that very measure which raised such a commotion among us; yet his personal presence was of a kind which no one could withstand. I believe one special cause of the abatement of the animosity felt towards us by our countrymen was the series of tableaux, as I may call them, brought before them in the newspapers of his reception of visitors in the Vatican. His misfortunes, indeed, had something to do with his popularity. The whole world felt that he was shamefully used as regards his temporal possessions. No foreign power had a right to seize upon his palaces, churches, and other possessions; and the injustice shown him created a wide interest in him; but the main cause of his popularity was the magic of his presence, which was such as to dissipate and utterly destroy the fog out of which the image of a Pope looms to the ordinary Englishman. His uncompromising faith, his courage, the graceful intermingling in him of the human and the divine, the humour, the wit, the playfulness with which he tempered his severity, his naturalness, and then his true eloquence, and the resources he had at command for meeting with appropriate words the circumstances of the moment, overcame those who were least likely to be overcome.
A friend of mine, a Protestant, a man of practised intellect and mature mind, told me, to my surprise, that at one of the Pope's receptions at the Vatican he was so touched by the discourse made by His Holiness to his visitors that he burst into tears. And this was the experience of hundreds. How could they think ill of him or of his children when his very look and voice were so ethical, so eloquent, so persuasive? Yet, I believe, wonderful as was the mode and the effect with which Pius preached our holy religion, we have not lost by his being taken away. It is not decorous to praise the living, it is not modest to panegyrise those whom rather one should obey; but in the successor of Pius, I recognise a depth of thought, a tenderness of heart, a winning simplicity, a power answering to his name which keeps me from lamenting that Pope Pius is no longer here. But I must cut short what has been already too long, though I have not reached the end. I will only say, in conclusion, that, though Englishmen are much more friendly to us as individuals, I see nothing to make me think that they are more friendly to our religion. They do not, indeed, believe, as they once believed, that our religion is so irrational that a man who professes it must be wanting either in honesty or in wit; but this is not much to grant, for the great question remains to decide whether it is possible for a country to continue any long time in the unnatural position of thinking ill of a religion and thinking well of believers in it. One would expect that either dislike of the religion would create an unfriendly feeling towards its followers, or friendliness towards its followers would ensure goodwill towards the religion. How this problem will be solved is one of the secrets of the future