Some incidents give a flavour of the man. The conclave which elected him in 1740 lasted six months. Lambertini was put forward as a compromise candidate and addressed the conclave saying : "If you wish to elect a saint choose Gotti; a statesman, Aldobrandini; an honest man, elect me". ( Haynes translates what she says is a Bologonese term as `booby` whereas `honest man` is the Catholic encyclopedia`s version). He was renowned for his witty conversation but also could shock visitors by his use of `uncardinalish expletives` which he eventually tried to restrain. It was interesting to see his assessment of Henry Stuart, the Cardinal brother of Bonny Prince Charlie. Haynes records he said `if all the Stuarts were as boring as Cardinal York he did not wonder that the English had driven them out`. As for the Polish bishops he said they were `inclined to drink much and think little`.
He was praised by Horace Walpole and Voltaire. Voltaire on one occasion penned the following lines:
`Lambertinus hic est Romae decus et pater orbis
Qui mundum scriptis docuit, virtutibus ornat`
(Here is Lambertini, the glory of Rome and the father of the earth, who teaches the world by his writings and adorns it with his virtues)
When this was presented to the Pope someone present complained that hic did not scan as it should always be a long syllable. The Pope replied that although he had not read Vergil for fifty years he could remember one line in which the poet scanned it as long and another where it was short!In response to Walpole`s praise he remarked that he was `like the statues on the facade of St Peter`s which appear better when seen from a distance.`
I`m sure there are many reasons why Cardinal Ratzinger took the name Benedict. I wonder if the character of Benedict XIV, with his love of learning and self-effacing nature, was one of them.