LAST GERMAN POPE 253
in eternity his imaginary conversation between the Pope and St. Peter at the heavenly gates more devastating even than the blows despatched by Ulrich von Hutten and Heinrich Kettenbach. But as early as 1524 he left none in doubt that he wished the Catholic struc- ture to endure. His character wavered, but it wavered round a fixed centre of confidence in the calling and the power of reason to lead mankind along the right path. He was an antiquarian in whom the Hellenic art of a humanity resting within itself was joined with the irony of a disillusioned Christian who finds the world everywhere caught in a contradiction between what is and what ought to be. Like Grotius, Leibnitz and Herder, he belonged with the spirits who love no party, fear no party, are without ties to the power of possessions, and hover above the storms and the waves of their time. In that they want to be everything to all their contemporaries they are nothing real to any of them. To the world roundabout them they give the im- pression of being double-tongued, because in playing their roles as all- discerning critics they realize the absurdity of every extreme view, never utter a final opinion straight-forwardly, and play right and left and above and below against each other in a salutary and educational way. Thus it was that Erasmus, good friend of the Popes from Leo X to Paul III, came to seem the prototype of a Catholicism lame on one side who found his counterpart in a Luther lame on the other side.
Leo died in the prime of life, "even as the poppy withers away.** As a result of the difficult situation created by tie conflict between France and the Habsburgs (which divided the Conclave even as it did the world outside) a man who lived in Spain as Regent of Charles V became Pope. He was the son of a handicraft worker and took the name of Hadrian VI. Of German ancestry and born in the Nether- lands, he had previously been the Emperor's teacher. Strictly re- ligious in outlook and of a retiring disposition, he was no patron of the arts, but the friend of the beggars and cripples who confidently lined the road as he passed. The fact that he was upright and virtu- ous prevented him from pursuing a "strong" policy. The single year (15221523) of his reign was rich in earnest goodwill but poor in successes. In the name of this last German Pope, who was also