To these observations the inquisitor made no reply; but seemed impatient that I should withdraw. "My good father," said I; "I am about to take my leave of you, and to thank you for your hospitable attentions; and I wish to preserve on my mind a favorable sentiment of your kindness and candor. You cannot, you say, show me the captives and the dungeons; be pleased, then, merely to answer this question, for I shall believe your word: how many prisoners are there now below in the cells of the Inquisition?" He replied, "That is a question which I cannot answer." On his pronouncing these words, I retired hastily towards the door, and wished him farewell. We shook hands with as much cordiality as we could, at the moment, assume; and both of us, I believe, were sorry that our parting took place with a clouded countenance.
After leaving the inquisitor, Dr. Buchanan, feeling as if he could not refrain from endeavoring to get another and perhaps a nearer view, returned to avail himself of the pretext afforded by a promise from the chief inquisitor, of a letter to one of the British residents at Travancore, in answer to one which he had brought him from that officer. The inquisitors he expected to find within, in the "board of the holy office." The door-keepers surveyed him doubtfully, but allowed him to pass. He entered the great hall, went up directly to the lofty crucifix described by Dellon, sat down on a form, wrote some notes, and then desired an attendant to carry in his name to the inquisitor. As he was walking across the hall, he saw a poor woman sitting by the wall. She clasped her hands, and looked at him imploringly. The sight chilled his spirits; and as he was asking the attendants the cause of her apprehension,—for she was awaiting trial,—Joseph a Doloribus came, in answer to his message, and was about to complain of the intrusion, when he parried the complaint by asking for the letter from the chief inquisitor. He promised to send it after him, and conducted him to the door. As they passed the poor woman, the doctor pointed to her, and said with emphasis, "Behold, father, another victim of the Holy Inquisition." The other answered nothing; they bowed, and separated without a word.
When Dr. Buchanan published his "Christian Researches in Asia," in the year 1812, the Inquisition still existed at Goa; but the establishment of constitutional government in Portugal, put an end to it throughout the whole Portuguese dominions.
INQUISITION AT MACERATA, ITALY. NARRATIVE OF MR. BOWER. METH. MAG. THIRD VOL.
I never pretended that it was for the sake of religion alone, that I left Italy, On the contrary, I have often declared, that, had I never belonged to the Inquisition, I should have gone on, as most Roman Catholics do, without ever questioning the truth of the religion I was brought up in, or thinking of any other. But the unheard of cruelties of that hellish tribunal shocked me beyond all expression, and rendered me,—as I was obliged, by my office of Counsellor, to be accessary to them,—one of the most unhappy men upon earth. I therefore began to think of resigning my office; but as I had on several occasions, betrayed some weakness as they termed it, that is, some compassion and humanity, and had upon that account been reprimanded by the Inquisitor, I was well apprized that my resignation would be ascribed by him to my disapproving the proceedings of the holy tribunal. And indeed, to nothing else could it be ascribed, as a place at that board was a sure way to preferment, and attended with great privileges, and a considerable salary. Being, therefore, sensible how dangerous a thing it would be to give the least ground for any suspicions of that nature, and no longer able to bear the sight of the many barbarities practised almost daily within those walls, nor the reproaches of my conscience for being accessary to them, I determined, after many restless nights, and much deliberation, to withdraw at the same time from the Inquisition, and from Italy. In this mind, and in the most unhappy and tormenting situation that can possibly be imagined, I continued near a twelve-month, not able to prevail on myself to execute the resolution I had taken on account of the many dangers which I foresaw would inevitably attend it, and the dreadful consequences of my failing in the attempt. But, being in the mean time ordered by the Inquisitor, to apprehend a person with whom I had lived in the greatest intimacy and friendship, the part I was obliged to act on that occasion, left so deep an impression on my mind as soon prevailed over all my fears, and made me determine to put into execution, at all events, and without delay, the design I had formed. Of that transaction I shall give a particular account, as it will show in a very strong light the nature and proceedings of that horrid court.
The person whom the Inquisitor appointed me to apprehend was Count Vicenzo della Torre, descended from an illustrious family in Germany, and possessed of a very considerable estate in the territory of Macerata. He was one of my very particular friends, and had lately married the daughter of Signior Constantini, of Fermo, a lady no less famous for her good sense than her beauty. With her family too, I had contracted an intimate acquaintance, while Professor of Rhetoric in Fermo, and had often attended the Count during his courtship, from Macerata to Fermo, but fifteen miles distant. I therefore lived with both in the greatest friendship and intimacy; and the Count was the only person that lived with me, after I was made Counsellor of the Inquisition, upon the same free footing as he had done till that time. My other friends had grown shy of me, and gave me plainly to understand that they no longer cared for my company.
As this unhappy young gentleman was one day walking with another, he met two Capuchin friars, and turning to his companion, when they had passed, "what fools," said he, "are these, to think they shall gain heaven by wearing sackcloth and going barefoot! Fools indeed, if they think so, or that there is any merit in tormenting one's self; they might as well live as we do, and they would get to heaven quite as soon." Who informed against him, whether the friars, his companion, or somebody else, I know not; for the inquisitors never tell the names of informers to the Counsellors, nor the names of the witnesses, lest they should except against them. It is to be observed, that all who hear any proposition that appears to them repugnant to, or inconsistent with the doctrines of holy mother church, are bound to reveal it to the Inquisitor, and also to discover the person by whom it was uttered; and, in this affair no regard is to be had to any ties, however sacred. The brother being bound to accuse the brother, the father the son, the son the father, the wife her husband, and the husband his wife; and all bound on pain of eternal damnation, and of being treated as accomplices if they do not denounce in a certain time; and no confessor can absolve a person who has heard anything said in jest or in earnest, against the belief or practice of the church, till that person has informed the Inquisitor of it, and given him all the intelligence he can concerning the person by whom it was spoken.
Whoever it was that informed against my unhappy friend, whether the friars, his companion, or somebody else who might have overheard him, the Inquisitor acquainted the board one night, (for to be less observed, they commonly meet, out of Rome, in the night) that the above mentioned propositions had been advanced, and advanced gravely, at the sight of two poor Capuchins; that the evidence was unexceptionable; and that they were therefore met to determine the quality of the proposition, and proceed against the delinquent.
There are in each Inquisition twelve Counsellors, viz: four Divines, four Canonists, and four Civilians. It is chiefly the province of the divines to determine the quality of the proposition, whether it is heretical, or only savors of heresy; whether it is blasphemous and injurious to God and His saints or only erroneous, rash, schismatical, or offensive to pious ears. The part of the proposition, "Fools! if they think there is any merit in tormenting one's self," was judged and declared heretical, as openly contradicting the doctrine and practice of holy mother church recommending austerities as highly meritorious. The Inquisitor observed, on this occasion, that by the proposition, "Fools indeed" &c., were taxing with folly, not only the holy fathers, who had all to a man practised great austerities, but St. Paul himself as the Inquisitor understood it, adding that the practice of whipping one's self, so much recommended by all the founders of religious orders, was borrowed of the great apostle of the gentiles.
The proposition being declared heretical, it was unanimously agreed by the board that the person who had uttered it should be apprehended, and proceeded against agreeably to the laws of the Inquisition. And now the person was named; for, till it is determined whether the accused person should or should not be apprehended, his name is kept concealed from the counsellors, lest they should be biased, says the directory, in his favor, or against him. For, in many instances, they keep up an appearance of justice and equity, at the same time that, in truth, they act in direct opposition to all the known laws of justice and equity. No words can express the concern and astonishment it gave me to hear, on such an occasion, the name of a friend for whom I had the greatest esteem and regard. The Inquisitor was apprised of it; and to give me an opportunity of practising what he had so often recommended to me, viz. conquering nature with the assistance of grace, he appointed me to apprehend the criminal, as he styled him, and to lodge him safe, before daylight, in the prison of the holy inquisition. I offered to excuse myself, but with the greatest submission, from being in any way concerned in the execution of that order; an order, I said, which I entirely approved of, but only wished it might be put in execution by some other person; for your lordship knows, I said, the connection. But the Inquisitor shocked at the word, said with a stern look and angry tone of voice, "What! talk of connections where the faith is concerned? There is your guard," (pointing to the Sbirri or bailiffs in waiting) "let the criminal be secured in St. Luke's cell," (one of the worst,) "before three in the morning." He then withdrew, and as he passed me said, "Thus, nature is conquered." I had betrayed some weakness or sense of humanity, not long before, in fainting away while I attended the torture of one who was racked with the utmost barbarity, and I had on that occasion been reprimanded by the Inquisitor for suffering nature to get the better of grace; it being an inexcusable weakness, as he observed, to be in any degree affected with the suffering of the body, however great, when afflicted, as they ever are in the Holy Inquisition, for the good of the soul. And it was, I presume, to make trial of the effect of that reprimand, that the execution of this cruel order was committed to me. As I could by no possible means decline it, I summoned all my resolution, after passing an hour by myself, I may say in the agonies of death, and set out a little after two in the morning for my unhappy friend's house, attended by a notary of the Inquisition, and six armed Sbirri. We arrived at the house by different ways and knocking at the door, a maid-servant looked out of the window, and asked who knocked. "The Holy Inquisition," was the answer, and at the same time she was ordered to awake nobody, but to come down directly and open the door, on pain of excommunication. At these words, the servant hastened down, half naked as she was, and having with much ado, in her great fright, opened the door, she conducted us as she was ordered to her master's chamber. She often looked very earnestly at me, as she knew me, and showed a great desire to speak with me; but of her I durst take no kind of notice. I entered the bed-chamber with the notary, followed by the Sbirri, when the lady awakening at the noise, and seeing the bed surrounded by armed men, screamed out aloud and continued screaming as out of her senses, till one of the Sbirri, provoked at the noise gave her a blow on the forehead that made the blood flow, and she swooned away. I rebuked the fellow severely, and ordered him to be whipped as soon as I returned to the Inquisition.
In the mean time, the husband awakening, and seeing me with my attendants, cried out, in the utmost surprise, "MR. BOWER!" He said no more, nor could I for some time utter a single word; and it was with much ado that, in the end I so far mastered my grief as to be able to let my unfortunate friend know that he was a prisoner of the Holy Inquisition. "Of the Holy Inquisition!" he replied. "Alas I what have I done? My dear friend, be my friend now." He said many affecting things; but as I knew it was not in my power to befriend him, I had not the courage to look him in the face, but turning my back to him, withdrew, while he dressed, to a corner of the room, to give vent to my grief. The notary stood by, quite unaffected. Indeed, to be void of all humanity, to be able to behold one's fellow-creatures groaning under the most exquisite torments cruelty can invent, without being in the least affected with their sufferings, is one of the chief qualifications of an inquisitor, and what all who belong to the Inquisition must strive to attain to. It often happens, at that infernal tribunal, that while the unhappy, and probably innocent, person is crying out in their presence on the rack, and begging by all that is sacred for one moment's relief, in a manner one would think no human heart could withstand, it often happens, I say, that the inquisitor and the rest of his infamous crew, quite unaffected with his complaints, and deaf to his groans, to his tears and entreaties, are entertaining one another with the news of the town; nay, sometimes they even insult, with unheard of barbarity, the unhappy wretches in the height of their torment.
To return to my unhappy prisoner. He was no sooner dressed than I ordered the Bargello, or head of the Sbirri, to tie his hands with a cord behind his back, as is practised on such occasions without distinction of persons; no more regard being paid to men of the first rank, when charged with heresy, than to the meanest offender. Heresy dissolves all friendship; so that I durst no longer look upon the man with whom I had lived in the greatest friendship and intimacy as my friend, or show him, on that account, the least regard or indulgence.
As we left the chamber, the countess, who had been conveyed out of the room, met us, and screaming out in the most pitiful manner upon seeing her husband with his hands tied behind his back like a thief or robber, flew to embrace him, and hanging on his neck, begged, with a flood of tears, we would be so merciful as to put an end to her life, that she might have the satisfaction—the only satisfaction she wished for in this world, of dying in the bosom of the man from whom she had vowed never to part. The count, overwhelmed with grief, did not utter a single word. I could not find it in my heart, nor was I in a condition to interpose; and indeed a scene of greater distress was never beheld by human eyes. However, I gave a signal to the notary to part them, which he did accordingly, quite unconcerned; but the countess fell into a swoon, and the count was meantime carried down stairs, and out of the house, amid the loud lamentations and sighs of his servants, on all sides, for he was a man remarkable for the sweetness of his temper, and his kindness to all around him.
Being arrived at the Inquisition, I consigned my prisoner into the hands of a gaoler, a lay brother of St. Dominic, who shut him up in the dungeon above-mentioned, and delivered the key to me. I lay that night at the palace of the Inquisition, where every counsellor has a room, and returned next morning the key to the inquisitor, telling him that his order had been punctually complied with. The inquisitor had been already informed of my conduct by the notary, and therefore, upon my delivering the key to him, he said, "You have acted like one who is at least desirous to overcome, with the assistance of grace, the inclinations of nature;" that is, like one who is desirous, by the assistance of grace, to metamorphose himself from a human creature into a brute or a devil.
In the Inquisition, every prisoner is kept the first week of his imprisonment in a dark narrow dungeon, so low that he cannot stand upright in it, without seeing anybody but the gaoler, who brings him, EVERY OTHER DAY, his portion of bread and water, the only food allowed him. This is done, they say, to tame him, and render him, thus weakened, more sensible of the torture, and less able to endure it. At the end of the week, he is brought in the night before the board to be examined; and on that occasion my poor friend appeared so altered, in a week's time, that, had it not been for his dress, I should not have known him. And indeed no wonder; a change of condition so sudden and unexpected; the unworthy and barbarous treatment he had already met with; the apprehension of what he might and probably should suffer; and perhaps, more than anything else, the distressed and forlorn condition of his once happy wife, whom he tenderly loved, whose company he had enjoyed only six months, could be attended with no other effect.
Being asked, according to custom, whether he had any enemies, and desired to name them, he answered, that he bore enmity to no man, and he hoped no man bore enmity to him. For, as in the Inquisition the person accused is not told of the charge brought against him, nor of the person by whom it is brought, the inquisitor asks him if he has any enemies, and desires him to name them. If he names the informer, all further proceedings are stopped until the informer is examined anew; and if the information is found to proceed from ill-will and no collateral proof can be produced, the prisoner is discharged. Of this piece of justice they frequently boast, at the same time that they admit, both as informers and witnesses, persons of the most infamous characters, and such as are excluded by all other courts. In the next place, the prisoner is ordered to swear that he will declare the truth, and conceal nothing from the holy tribunal, concerning himself or others, that he knows and the holy tribunal desires to know. He is then interrogated for what crime he has been apprehended and imprisoned by the Holy Court of the Inquisition, of all courts the most equitable, the most cautious, the most merciful. To that interrogatory the count answered, with a faint and trembling voice, that he was not conscious to himself of any crime, cognizable by the Holy Court, nor indeed by any other; that he believed and ever had believed whatever holy mother church believed or required him to believe. He had, it seems quite forgotten what he had unthinkingly said at the sight of the two friars. The inquisitor, therefore, finding that he did not remember or would not own his crime, after many deceitful interrogatories, and promises which he never intended to fulfil, ordered him back to his dungeon, and allowing him another week, as is customary in such cases, to recollect himself, told him that if he could not in that time prevail upon himself to declare the truth, agreeably to his oath, means would be found of forcing it from him; and he must expect no mercy.
At the end of the week he was brought again before the infernal tribunal; and being asked the same questions, returned the same answers, adding, that if he had done or said anything amiss, unwittingly or ignorantly, he was ready to own it, provided the least hint of it were given him by any there present, which he entreated them most earnestly to do. He often looked at me, and seemed to expect—which gave me such concern as no words can express—that I should say something in his favor. But I was not allowed to speak on this occasion, nor were any of the counsellors; and had I been allowed to speak, I durst not have said anything in his favor; the advocate appointed by the Inquisition, and commonly styled, "The Devil's Advocate," being the only person that is suffered to speak for the prisoner. The advocate belongs to the Inquisition, receives a salary from the Inquisition, and is bound by an oath to abandon the defence of the prisoner, if be undertakes it, or not to undertake it, if he finds it cannot be defended agreeably to the laws of the Holy Inquisition; go that the whole is mere sham and imposition. I have heard this advocate, on other occasions, allege something in favor of the person accused; but on this occasion he declared that be had nothing to offer in defence of the criminal.
In the Inquisition, the person accused is always supposed guilty, unless he has named the accuser among his enemies. And he is put to the torture if he does not plead guilty, and own the crime that is laid to his charge, without being so much as told what it is; whereas, in all other courts, where tortures are used, the charge is declared to the party accused before he is tortured; nor are they ever inflicted without a credible evidence of his guilt. But in the Inquisition, a man is frequently tortured upon the deposition of a person whose evidence would be admitted in no other court, and in all cases without hearing the charge. As my unfortunate friend continued to maintain his innocence, not recollecting what he had said, he was, agreeably to the laws of the Inquisition, put to the torture. He had scarcely borne it twenty minutes, crying out the whole time, "Jesus Maria!" when his voice failed him at once, and he fainted away. He was then supported, as he hung by his arms, by two of the Sbirri, whose province it is to manage the torture, till he returned to himself. He still continued to declare that he could not recollect his having said or done anything contrary to the Catholic faith, and earnestly begged they would let him know with what he was charged, being ready to own it if it was true.
The Inquisitor was then so gracious as to put him in mind of what he had said on seeing the two Capuchins. The reason why they so long conceal from the party accused the crime he is charged with, is, that if he should be conscious to himself of his having ever said or done anything contrary to the faith, which he is not charged with, he may discover that too, imagining it to be the very crime he is accused of. After a short pause, the poor gentleman owned that he had said something to that purpose; but, as he had said it with no evil intention, he had never more thought of it, from that time to the present. He added, but with a voice so faint, as scarce could be heard, that for his rashness he was willing to undergo what punishment soever the holy tribunal should, think fit to impose on him; and he again fainted away. Being eased for a while of his torment, and returned to himself, he was interrogated by the promoter fiscal (whose business it is to accuse and to prosecute, as neither the informer nor the witnesses, are ever to appear,) concerning his intention. For in the Inquisition, it is not enough for the party accused to confess the fact, he must declare whether his intention was heretical or not; and many, to redeem themselves from the torments they, can no longer endure, own their intention was heretical, though it really was not My poor friend often told us, he was ready to say whatever he pleased, but as he never directly acknowledged his intention to have been heretical, as is required by the rules of the court, he was kept on the torture still, quite overcome with the violence of the anguish, he was ready to expire. Being taken down, he was carried quite senseless, back to his dungeon, and there, on the third day, death put an end to his sufferings. The Inquisitor wrote a note to his widow, to desire her to pray for the soul of her late husband, and warn her not to complain of the holy Inquisition, as capable of any injustice or cruelty. The estate was confiscated to the Inquisition, and a small jointure allowed out of it to the widow. As they had only been married six months, and some part of the fortune was not yet paid, the inquisitor sent an order to the Constantini family, at Ferno, to pay the holy office, and without delay, what they owed to the late Count Della Torre. The effects of heretics are all ipso facto confiscated to the Inquisition from the very day, not of their conviction, but of their crime, so that all donations made after that time are void; and whatever they may have given, is claimed by the Inquisition, into whatsoever hands it may have passed; even the fortunes they have given to their daughters in marriage, have been declared to belong to, and are claimed by the Inquisition; nor can it be doubted, that the desire of those confiscations is one great cause of the injustice and cruelty of that court.
The death of the unhappy Count Della Torre was soon publicly known; but no man cared to speak of it, not even his nearest relations, nor so much as to mention his name, lest anything should inadvertently escape them that might be construed into a disapprobation of the proceedings of the most holy tribunal; so great is the awe all men live in of that jealous and merciless court.
The deep impression that the death of my unhappy friend, the barbarous and inhuman treatment he had met with, and the part I had been obliged to act in so affecting a tragedy, made on my mind, got at once the better of my fears, so that, forgetting in a manner the dangers I had till then so much apprehended, I resolved, without further delay to put in execution the design I had formed, of quitting the Inquisition, and bidding forever adieu to Italy. To execute that design with some safety, I proposed to beg leave to visit the Virgin of Loretto, but thirteen miles distant, and to pass a week there; but in the mean time, to make the best of my way out of the reach of the Inquisition.
Having, therefore, after many conflicts with myself, asked leave to visit the neighboring sanctuary, and obtained it, I set out on horseback the very next morning, leaving, as I proposed to keep the horse, his full value with the owner. I took the road to Loretto, but turned out of it a short distance from Recanati, after a most violent struggle with myself, the attempt appearing to me at that juncture, quite desperate and impracticable; and the dreadful doom reserved for me should I miscarry, presented itself to my mind in the strongest light. But the reflection that I had it in my power to avoid being taken alive, and a persuasion that a man in my situation might lawfully avoid it, when every other means failed him, at the expense of his life, revived my staggered resolution; and all my fears ceasing at once, I steered my course, leaving Loretto behind me, to Rocca Contrada, to Fossonbrone, to Calvi in the dukedom of Urbino, and from thence through the Romagna into Bolognese, keeping the by-roads, and at a good distance from the cities through which the high road passed.
Thus I advanced very slowly, travelling in very bad roads, and often in places where there was no road at all, to avoid, not only the cities, and towns, but also the villages. In the mean time I seldom had any other support but some coarse provisions, and a very small quantity even, of them, that the poor shepherds, the countrymen or wood cleavers I met in those unfrequented by-places, could spare me. My horse fared not much better than myself; but, in choosing my sleeping-place I consulted his convenience as much as my own, passing the night where I found most shelter for myself, and most grass for him. In Italy there are very few solitary farm-houses or cottages, the country people all living together in villages; and I thought it far safer to lie where I could be in any way sheltered, than to venture into any of them. Thus I spent seventeen days before I got out of the ecclesiastical state; and I very narrowly escaped being taken or murdered, on the very borders of that state; it happened thus.
I had passed two whole days without any kind of subsistence whatever, meeting with no one in the by-roads that could supply me with any, and fearing to come near any house, as I was not far from the borders of the dominions of the Pope. I thought I should be able to hold out till I got into the Modanese, where I believed I should be in less danger than while I remained in the papal dominions. But finding myself, about noon of the third day, extremely weak and ready to faint away, I came into the high road that leads from Bologna to Florence, a few miles distant from the former city, and alighted at a post house, that stood quite by itself. Having asked the woman of the house whether she had any victuals, and being told that she had, I went to open the door of the only room in the house, (that being a place where gentlemen only stop to change horses,) and saw to my great surprise, a placard pasted on it, with a minute description of my whole person, sad a promise of a reward of 900 crowns (about 200 pounds English money) for delivering me up alive to the Inquisition, being a fugitive from that holy tribunal, and of 600 crowns for my head. By the same placard, all persons were forbidden, on pain of the greater excommunication, to receive or harbor, entertain, conceal, or screen me, or to be in any way aiding, or assisting me to make my escape. This greatly alarmed me, as the reader may well imagine; but I was still more frightened, when entering the room, I saw two fellows drinking there, who, fixing their eyes on me as soon as I went in, continued looking at me very steadfastly. I strove, by wiping my face and blowing my nose, and by looking out of the window, to prevent their having a full view of my features. But, one of them saying, "The gentleman seems afraid to be seen," I put up my handkerchief, and turning to the fellow, said boldly, "What do you mean you rascal? Look at me; am I afraid to be seen?" He said nothing, but looking again steadfastly at me, and nodding his head, went out, and his companion immediately followed him. I watched them, and seeing them, with two or three more, in close conference, and no doubt consulting whether they should apprehend me or not, I walked that moment into the stable, mounted my horse unobserved by them, and while they were deliberating in an orchard behind the house, rode off at full speed, and in a few hours got into the Modanese, where I refreshed both with food and rest, as I was there in no immediate danger, my horse and myself. I was indeed surprised to find that those fellows did not pursue me, nor can I in any other way account for it, but by supposing, what is not improbable, that, as they were strangers as well as myself, and had all the appearance of banditti or ruffians flying out of the dominions of the Pope, the woman of the house did not care to trust them with her horses. From the Modanese I continued my journey, more leisurely through the Parmesan, the Milanese, and part of the Venetian territory, to Chiavenna, subject to the Grisons, who abhor the very name of the Inquisition, and are ever ready to receive and protect all who, flying from it, take refuge, as many Italians do, in their dominions. Still I carefully concealed who I was, and whence I came, for, though no Inquisition prevails among the Swiss, yet the Pope's nuncio who resides at Lucerne, (a popish canton through which I was to pass,) might have persuaded the magistrate to stop me as an apostate and deserter from the order.
Having rested a few days at Chiavenna, I resumed my journey quite refreshed, continuing it through the country of the Grisons, and the two small cantons of Ury and Underwald, to the canton of Lucerne. There I missed my way, as I was quite unacquainted with the country, and discovering a city at a distance, was advancing to it, but slowly, as I knew not where I was, when a countryman whom I met, informed me that the city before me was Lucerne. Upon that intelligence, I turned out of the road as soon as the countryman was out of sight, and that night I passed with a good natured shepherd in his cottage, who supplied me with sheep's milk, and my horse with plenty of grass. I set out early next morning, making my way westward, as I knew that Berne lay west of Lucerne. But, after a few miles, the country proved very mountainous, and having travelled the whole day over mountains I was overtaken among them by night. As I was looking out for a place where I might shelter myself during the night, against the snow and rain, (for it both snowed and rained,) I perceived a light at a distance, and making towards it, I got into a kind of foot-path, but so narrow and rugged that I was obliged to lead my horse, and feel my way with one foot, (having no light to direct me,) before I durst move the other. Thus, with much difficulty I reached the place where the light was, a poor little cottage, and knocking at the door, was asked by a man within who I was, and what I wanted? I answered that I was a stranger and had lost my way. "Lost your way!" exclaimed the man, "There is no way here to lose." I then asked him what canton I was in? and upon his answering that I was in the canton of Berne, I cried out transported with joy, "I thank God that I am." The good man answered, "And so do I." I then told him who I was, and that I was going to Berne but had quite lost myself by keeping out of all the high roads, to avoid falling into the hands of those who sought my destruction. He thereupon opened the door, received and entertained me with all the hospitality his poverty would admit of; regaled me with sour crout and some new laid eggs, the only provision he had, and clean straw with a kind of rug for a bed, he having no other for himself and wife. The good woman expressed as much good nature as her husband, and said many kind things in the Swiss language, which her husband interpreted to me in the Italian; for that language he well understood, having learned it in his youth, while servant in a public home on the borders of Italy, where both languages are spoken. I never passed a more comfortable night; and no sooner did I begin to stir in the morning, than the good man and his wife both came to know how I rested; and, wishing they had been able to accommodate me better, obliged me to breakfast on two eggs, which providence, they said, had sent them for that purpose. I took leave of the wife, who seemed most sincerely to wish me a good journey. As for the husband, be would by all means attend me to the high road leading to Berne; which road he said was but two miles distant from that place. But he insisted on my first going back with him, to see the way I had come the night before; the only way, he said, I could have possibly come from the neighboring canton of Lucerne. I saw it, and shuddered at the danger I had escaped; for I found I had walked and led my horse a good way along a very narrow path on the brink of a very dangerous precipice. The man made so many pertinent and pious remarks on the occasion, as both charmed and surprised me. I no less admired his disinterestedness than his piety; for, upon our parting, after he had attended me till I was out of all danger of losing my way, I could by no means prevail upon him to accept of any reward for his trouble. He had the satisfaction, he said, of having relieved me in the greatest distress, which was in itself a sufficient reward, and he wished for no other.
Having at length got safe into French Flanders, I there repaired to the college of the Scotch Jesuits at Douay, and discovering myself to the rector, I acquainted him with the cause of my sudden departure from Italy, and begged him to give notice of my arrival, as well as the motives of my flight to Michael Angelo Tambuvini, general of the order, and my very particular friend.
The rector wrote as I desired him, to the general, and he, taking no notice of my flight, in his answer, (for he could not disapprove, and did not think it safe to approve of it,) ordered me to continue where I was till further notice. I arrived at Douay early in May, and continued there till the beginning of July, when the rector received a second letter from the general, acquainting him that he had been commanded by the congregation of the Inquisition, to order me, wherever I was, back into Italy; to promise me, in their name, full pardon and forgiveness if I obeyed, but if I did not obey, to treat me as an apostate. He added, that the same order had been transmitted, soon after my flight, to the nuncios at the different Roman Catholic courts; and he, therefore, advised me to consult my own safety without further delay.
Upon the receipt of the general's kind letter, the rector was of opinion that I should repair by all means, and without loss of time, to England, not only as the safest asylum I could fly to, in my present situation, but as a place where I should soon recover my native language, and be usefully employed, either there or in Scotland. The place being thus agreed on, and it being at the same time settled between the rector and me, that I should set out the very next morning, I solemnly promised, at his request and desire, to take no kind of notice, after my arrival in England, of his having been in any way privy to my flight, or the general's letter to him. This promise I have faithfully and honorably observed; and should have thought myself guilty of the blackest ingratitude if I had not observed it, being sensible that, had it been known at Rome, that, either the rector or general had been accessary to my flight, THE INQUISITION WOULD HAVE RESENTED IT SEVERELY IN BOTH. For although a Jesuit in France, in Flanders, or in Germany, is out of the reach of the Inquisition, the general is not; and the high tribunal not only have it in their power to punish the general himself, who resides constantly at Rome, but may oblige him to inflict what punishment they please on any of the order obnoxious to them.
The rector went that very night out of town, and in his absence, but not without his privity, I took one of the horses of the college, early next morning, as if I were going for a change of air, being somewhat indisposed, to pass a few days at Lisle; but steering a different course, I reached Aire that night and Calais the next day. I was there in no danger of being stopped and seized at the prosecution of the Inquisition, a tribunal no less abhorred in France than in England. But being informed that the nuncios at the different courts had been ordered, soon after my flight, to cause me to be apprehended in Roman Catholic countries through which I must pass, as an apostate and deserter from the order, I was under no small apprehension of being discovered and apprehended as such even at Calais. No sooner, therefore, did I alight at the Inn, than I went down to the quay, and there as I was very little acquainted with the sea, and thought the passage much shorter than it is, I endeavored to engage some fishermen to carry me that very night, in one of their small vessels, over to England. This alarmed the guards of the harbor, and I should have been certainly apprehended as a person guilty, or suspected of some great crime, fleeing from justice, had not Lord Baltimore, whom I had the good luck to meet in the Inn, informed me of my danger, and pitying my condition, attended me that moment, with all his company, to the port, and conveyed me immediately on board his yacht. There I lay that night, leaving every thing I had but the clothes on my back, in the Inn; and the next day his Lordship set me ashore at Dover, from whence I came in the common stage to London.
In the year 1706, the Inquisition at Arragon was broken up by the French troops, under the command of the Duke of Orleans. The Holy Inquisitors were driven from their beautiful house, and in answer to their indignant remonstrance were told that the king wanted the house to quarter his troops in, and they were therefore compelled to leave it immediately. The doors of the prisons were then thrown open, and among the four hundred prisoners who were set at liberty were sixty young women, very beautiful in person, and clad in the richest attire.
Anthony Gavin, formerly one of the Roman Catholic priests of Saragossa, Spain, relates (in a book published by him after his conversion) that when travelling in France he met one of those women in the inn at Rotchfort; the son of the inn-keeper, formerly an officer in the French army, having married her for her great beauty and superior intelligence. In accordance with his request, she freely related to him the incidents of her prison life, from which we take the following extract:
"Early the next morning, Mary got up, and told me that nobody was up yet in the house; and that she would show me the DRY PAN and the GRADUAL FIRE, on condition that I should keep it a secret for her sake as well as my own. This I promised, and she took me along with her, and showed me a dark room with a thick iron door, and within it an oven and a large brass pan upon it, with a cover of the same and a lock to it. The oven was burning at the time, and I asked Mary for what purpose the pan was there. Without giving me any answer, she took me by the hand and led me to a large room, where she showed me a thick wheel, covered on both sides with thick boards, and opening a little window in the center of it, desired me to look with a candle on the inside of it, and I saw all the circumference of the wheel set with SHARP RAZORS. After that she showed me a PIT FULL OF SERPENTS AND TOADS. Then she said to me, 'Now, my good mistress, I'll tell you the use of these things. The dry pan and gradual fire are for those who oppose the holy father's will, and for heretics. They are put naked and alive into the pan, and the cover of it being locked up, the executioner begins to put in the oven a small fire, and by degrees he augmenteth it, till the body is burned to ashes. The second is designed for those who speak against the Pope and the holy fathers. They are put within the wheel, and the door being locked, the executioner turns the wheel till the person is dead. The third is for those who contemn the images, and refuse to give the due respect and veneration to ecclesiastical persons; for they are thrown alive into the pit, and there they become the food of serpents and toads.' Then Mary said to me that another day she would show me the torments for public sinners and transgressors of the commandments of holy mother church; but I, in deep amazement, desired her to show me no more places; for the very thought of those three which I had seen, was enough to terrify me to the heart. So we went to my room, and she charged me again to be very obedient to all commands, for if I was not, I was sure to undergo the torment of the dry pan."
Llorente, the Spanish historian and secretary-general of the Inquisition, relates the following incident: "A physician, Juan de Salas, was accused of having used a profane expression, twelve months before, in the heat of debate. He denied the accusation, and produced several witnesses to prove his innocence. But Moriz, the inquisitor at Valladolid, where the charge was laid, caused de Salas to be brought into his presence in the torture-chamber, stripped to his shirt, and laid on a LADDER or DONKEY, an instrument resembling a wooden trough, just large enough to receive the body, with no bottom, but having a bar or bars to placed that the body bent, by its own weight, into an exquisitely painful position. His head was lower than his heels, and the breathing, in consequence, became exceedingly difficult. The poor man, so laid, was bound around the arms and legs with hempen cords, each of them encircling the limb eleven times.
"During this part of the operation they admonished him to confess the blasphemy; but he only answered that he had never spoken a sentence of such a kind, and then, resigning himself to suffer, repeated the Athanasian creed, and prayed to God and our Lady many times. Being still bound, they raised his head, covered his face with a piece of fine linen, and, forcing open the mouth, caused water to drip into it from an earthen jar, slightly perforated at the bottom, producing in addition to his sufferings from distension, a horrid sensation of choking. But again, when they removed the jar for a moment, he declared that he had never uttered such a sentence; and this he often repeated. They then pulled the cords on his right leg, cutting into the flesh, replaced the linen on his face, dropped the water as before, and tightened the cords on his right leg the second time; but still he maintained that he had never spoken such a thing; and in answer to the questions of his tormentors, constantly reiterated that he HAD NEVER SPOKEN THOSE WORDS. Moriz then pronounced that the said torture should be regarded as begun, but not finished; and De Salas was released, to live, if he could survive, in the incessant apprehension that if he gave the slightest umbrage to a familiar, he would be carried again into the same chamber, and be RACKED IN EVERY LIMB."
Llorente also relates, from the original records, another case quite as cruel and unjust as the above. "On the 8th day of December, 1528, one Catalina, a woman of BAD CHARACTER, informed the inquisitors that, EIGHTEEN YEARS BEFORE she had lived in the house with a Morisco named Juan, by trade a coppersmith, and a native of Segovia; that she had observed that neither he nor his children ate pork or drank wine, and that, on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings they used to wash their feet, which custom, as well as abstinence from pork and wine, was peculiar to the Moors. The old man was at that time an inhabitant of Benevente, and seventy-one years of age. But the inquisitors at once summoned him into their presence, and questioned him at three several interviews. All that he could tell was, that he received baptism when he was forty-five years of age; that having never eaten pork or drunk wine, he had no taste for them; and that, being coppersmiths, they found it necessary to wash themselves thoroughly once a week. After some other examinations, they sent him back to Benevente, with prohibition to go beyond three leagues' distance from the town. Two years afterwards the inquisitor determined that he should be threatened with torture, IN ORDER TO OBTAIN INFORMATION THAT MIGHT HELP THEM TO CRIMINATE OTHERS. He was accordingly taken to Valladolid, and in a subterranean chamber, called the 'chamber, or dungeon, of torment,' stripped naked, and bound to the 'ladder.' This might well have extorted something like confession from an old man of seventy-one; but he told them that whatever he might say when under torture would be merely extorted by the extreme anguish, and therefore unworthy of belief; that he would not, through fear of pain, confess what had never taken place. They kept him in close prison until the next Auto de Fe, when he walked among the penitents, with a lighted candle in his hand, and, after seeing others burnt to death, paid the holy office a fee of four ducats, and went home, not acquitted, but released. He was not summoned again, as he died soon afterwards."
It sometimes happened that an individual was arrested by mistake, and a person who was entirely innocent was tortured instead of the real or supposed criminal. A case of this kind Mr. Bower found related at length in the "Annals of the Inquisition at Macerata."
"An order was sent from the high tribunal at Rome to all the inquisitors throughout Italy, enjoining them to apprehend a clergyman minutely described in that order. One Answering the description in many particulars being discovered in the diocese of Osimo, at a small distance from Macerata, and subject to that Inquisition, he was there decoyed into the holy office, and by an order from Rome SO RACKED AS TO LOSE HIS SENSES. In the mean time, the true person being apprehended, the unhappy wretch was dismissed, by a second order from Rome, but he never recovered the use of his senses, NOR WAS ANY CARE TAKEN OF HIM BY THE INQUISITION."
It would be easy to fill a volume with such narratives as the above, but we forbear. We are not writing a history of the Inquisition. We simply wish to exhibit the true spirit by which the Romanists are actuated in their dealings with those over whom they have power. We therefore, in closing this chapter of horrors, beg leave to place before our readers one of the FATHERLY BENEDICTIONS with which, His Holiness, the Pope, dismisses his refractory subjects. Does it not show most convincingly what he would do here in America, if he had, among us, the power he formerly possessed in the old world, when the least inadvertent word might perchance seal the doom of the culprit?
A POPISH BULL OK CURSE.
"Pronounced on all who leave the Church of Rome. By the authority of God Almighty, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and the undefiled Virgin Mary, mother and patroness of our Saviour, and of all celestial virtues, Angels, Archangels, Thrones, Dominions, Powers, Cherubim and Seraphim, and of all the holy Patriarchs, Prophets, and of all the Apostles and Evangelists, of the holy innocents, who in the sight of the holy Lamb are found worthy to sing the new song of the Holy Martyrs and Holy Confessors, and of all the Holy Virgins, and of all the Saints, together with the Holy Elect of God,—MAY HE BE DAMNED. We excommunicate and anathematize him, from the threshold of the holy church of God Almighty. We sequester him, that he may be tormented, disposed, and be delivered over with Datham and Abiram, and with those who say unto the Lord, 'Depart from us, we desire none of thy ways;' as a fire is quenched with water, so let the light of him be put out forevermore, unless it shall repent him, and make satisfaction. Amen.
"May the Father who creates man, curse him. May the Son, who suffered for us, curse him! May the Holy Ghost who is poured out in baptism, curse him! May the Holy Cross, which Christ for our salvation, triumphing over his enemies, ascended, curse him!
"May the Holy Mary, ever Virgin and Mother of God, curse him! May all the Angels, Principalities, and Powers, and all heavenly Armies curse him! May the glorious band of the Patriarchs and Prophets curse him! "May St. John the Precursor, and St John the Baptist, and St. Peter and St Paul, and St. Andrew and all other of Christ's Apostles together curse him and may the rest of the Disciples and Evangelists who by their preaching converted the universe, and the Holy and wonderful company of Martyrs and Confessors, who by their works are found pleasing to God Almighty; may the holy choir of the Holy Virgins, who for the honor of God have despised the things of the world, damn him. May all the Saints from the beginning of the world to everlasting ages, who are found to be beloved of God, damn him!
"May he be damned wherever he be, whether in the house or in the alley, in the woods or in the water, or in the church! May he be cursed in living or dying!
"May he be cursed in eating and drinking, in being hungry, in being thirsty, in fasting and sleeping, in slumbering, and in sitting, in living, in working, in resting, and in blood letting! May he be cursed in all the faculties of his body!
"May he be cursed inwardly and outwardly. May he be cursed in his hair; cursed be he in his brains, and his vertex, in his temples, in his eyebrows, in his cheeks, in his jaw-bones, in his nostrils, in his teeth, and grinders, in his lips, in his shoulders, in his arms, and in his fingers.
"May he be damned in his mouth, in his breast, in his heart, and purtenances, down to the very stomach!
"May he be cursed in his reins and groins, in his thighs and his hips, and in his knees, his legs and his feet, and his toe-nails!
"May he be cursed in all his joints, and articulation of the members; from the crown of the head to the soles of his feet, may there be no soundness!
"May the Son of the living God, with all the glory of his majesty, CURSE HIM! And may Heaven, with all the powers that move therein, rise up against him, and curse and damn him; unless he repent and make satisfaction! Amen! So be it. Be it so. Amen."
Such was the CURSE pronounced on the Rev. Wm. Hogan, (a converted Roman Catholic priest) a few years since, in Philadelphia.
As a further proof of the cruel, persecuting spirit of Catholicism, let us glance at a few extracts from their own publications.
"Children," they say, "are obliged to denounce their parents or relations who are guilty of heresy; ALTHOUGH THEY KNOW THAT THEY WILL BE BURNT. They may refuse them all nourishment, and permit them to die with hunger; or they may KILL THEM as enemies, who violate the rights of humanity.—Escobar, Theolg. Moral, vol. 4, lib. 31, sec. 2, precept 4, prop. 5, p. 239."
"A man condemned by the Pope, may be killed wherever he is found."—La Croix, vol. 1, p. 294.
"Children may kill their parents, if they would turn their children from the Popish faith." "If a judge decide contrary to law, the injured person may defend himself by killing the judge."—Fangundez Precept Decal, vol. 1, lib. 4, chap. 2, p. 501, 655, and vol. 2, lib. 8, chap. 32; p. 390.
"To secretly kill your calumniator, to avoid scandal, is justifiable."—Ayrault, Cens. p. 319.
"You may kill before hand, any person who may put you to death, not EXCEPTING THE JUDGE, AND WITNESSES, because it is self-defence."—Emanuel Sa. Aphor, p. 178.
"A priest may kill those who hinder him from taking possession of any Ecclesiastical office."—Arnicus, Num, 131.
"You may charge your opponent with false crime to take away his credit, as well as kill him."—Guimenius, prop, 8, p. 86.
"Priests may kill the laity to preserve their goods."— Nolina, vol. 3, disput. 16, p. 1786.
"You may kill any man to save a crown."—Taberna, Synop. Theol. Tract, pars. 2, chap. 27, p. 256.
"BY THE COMMAND OF GOD IT IS LAWFUL TO MURDER THE INNOCENT, TO ROB, AND TO COMMIT ALL KIND OF WICKEDNESS, BECAUSE HE IS THE LORD OF LIFE AND DEATH, AND ALL THINGS; AND THUS TO FULFILL HIS MANDATE IS OUR DUTY."—Alagona, Thorn. Aquin, Sum. Theol. Compend, Quest. 94, p. 230.
Again, in the Romish Creed found in the pocket of Priest Murphy, who was killed in the battle of Arklow, 1798, we find the following articles. "We acknowledge that the priests can make vice virtue, and virtue vice, according to their pleasure.
"We are bound to believe that the holy massacre was lawful, and lawfully put into execution, against Protestants, and likewise WE ARE TO CONTINUE THE SAME, PROVIDED WITH SAFETY TO OUR LIVES!
"We are bound not to keep our oaths with heretics, though bound by the most sacred ties. We are bound not to believe their oaths; for their principles are damnation. We are bound to drive heretics with fire, sword, faggot, and confusion, out of the land; as our holy fathers say. if their heresies prevail we will become their slaves. We are bound to absolve without money or price, those who imbrue their hands in the blood of a heretic!" Do not these extracts show very clearly that Romanism can do things as bad as anything in the foregoing narrative?
ROMANISM OF THE PRESENT DAY.
Whenever we refer to the relentless cruelties of the Romanists, we are told, and that, too, by the influential, the intelligent, those who are well-informed on other subjects, that "these horrid scenes transpired only in the 'dark ages;'" that "the civilization and refinement of the present age has so modified human society, so increased the milk of human kindness, that even Rome would not dare, if indeed she had the heart, to repeat the cruelties of by-gone days."
For the honor of humanity we could hope that this opinion was correct; but facts of recent date compel us to believe that it is as false as it is ruinous to the best interests of our country and the souls of men. A few of these facts, gathered from unquestionable sources, and some of them related by the actors and sufferers themselves, we place before the reader.
In November, 1854, Ubaldus Borzinski, a monk of the Brothers of Mercy, addressed an earnest petition to the Pope, setting forth the shocking immoralities practised in the convents of his order in Bohemia. He specifies nearly forty crimes, mostly perpetrated by priors and subpriors, giving time, place, and other particulars, entreating the Pope to interpose his power, and correct those horrible abuses.
For sending this petition, he was thrown into a madhouse of the Brothers of Mercy, at Prague, where he still languishes in dreary confinement, though the only mark of insanity he ever showed was in imagining that the Pope would interfere with the pleasures of the monks.
This Ubaldus has a brother, like minded with himself, also a member of the same misnamed order of monks, who has recently effected his escape from durance vile.
John Evangelist Borzinski was a physician in the convent of the Brothers of Mercy at Prague. He is a scientific and cultivated man. By the study of the Psalms and Lessons from the New Testament, which make up a considerable part of the Breviary used in cloisters, he was first led into Protestant views. He had been for seventeen years resident in different cloisters of his order, as sick-nurse, alms gatherer, student, and physician, and knew the conventual life out and out. As he testifies: "There was little of the fear of God, so far as I could see, little of true piety; but abundance of hypocrisy, eye-service, deception, abuse of the poor sick people in the hospitals, such love and hatred as are common among the children of this world, and the most shocking vices of every kind."
He now felt disgust for the cloister life, and for the Romish religion, and he sought, by the aid of divine grace, to attain to the new birth through the Word of God. Speaking of his change of views to a Prussian clergyman, he thus describes his conversion: "Look you, it was thus I became a Protestant. I found a treasure in that dustheap, and went away with it." This treasure he prized more and more. He then thought within himself, if these detached passages can give such light, what an illumination he must receive if he could read and understand the whole Bible.
He did not, however, betray his dissatisfaction, but devoted himself to his professional duties with greater diligence. He might still have remained in the Order, his life hid with Christ in God, had not the hierarchy, under pretence of making reforms and restoring the neglected statutes of the Order, brought in such changes for the worse as led him to resolve to leave the order, and the Romish church as well. Following his convictions, and the advice of a faithful but very cautious clergyman, he betook himself to the territories of Prussia, where, on the 17th of January, 1855, he was received into the national church at Petershain, by Dr. Nowotny, himself formerly a Bohemian priest. This was not done till great efforts had been made to induce him to change his purpose, and also to get his person into the power of his adversaries. As he had now left the church of Rome, become an openly acknowledged member of another communion, he thought he might venture to return to his own country. Taking leave of his Prussian friends, to whom he had greatly endeared himself by his modesty and his lively faith, he went back to Bohemia, with a heart full of peace and joy.
He lived for some time amidst many perplexities, secluded in the house of his parents at Prosnitz, till betrayed by some who dwelt in the same habitation. On the 6th of March he was taken out of bed, at eight, by the police, and conveyed first to the cloister in Prosnitz, where he suffered much abuse, and from thence to the cloister in Prague. Here the canon Dittrich, "Apostolical Convisitator of the Order of the Brothers of Mercy," justified all the inhuman treatment he had suffered, and threatened him with worse in case he refused to recant and repent. Dittrich not only deprived him of his medical books, but told him that his going over to Protestantism was a greater crime than if he had plundered the convent of two thousand florins. He was continually dinned with the cry, "Retract, retract!" He was not allowed to see his brother, confined in the same convent, nor other friends, and was so sequestered in his cell as to make him feel that he was forgotten by all the world.
He managed, through some monks who secretly sympathized with him, to get a letter conveyed occasionally to Dr. Nowotny. These letters were filled with painful details of the severities practised upon him. In one of them he says, "My only converse is with God, and the gloomy walls around me." He was transferred to a cell in the most unwholesome spot, and infested with noisome smells not to be described. Close by him were confined some poor maniacs, sunk below the irrational brutes.
Under date of April 23d he writes: "Every hour, in this frightful dungeon seems endless to me. For many weeks have I sat idle in this durance, with no occupation but prayer and communion with God." His appeals to civil authority and to the Primate of Hungary procured him no redress, but only subjected him to additional annoyances and hardships. His aged father, a man of four-score years, wept to see him, though of sound understanding, locked up among madmen; and when urged to make his son recant, would have nothing to do with it, and returned the same day to his sorrowful home. As he had been notified that he was to be imprisoned for life, he prayed most earnestly to the Father of mercies for deliverance; and he was heard, for his prayers and endeavors wrought together. The sinking of his health increased his efforts to escape; for, though he feared not to die, he could not bear the thought of dying imprisoned in a mad-house, where he knew that his enemies would take advantage of his mortal weakness to administer their sacraments to him, and give out that he had returned to the bosom of the church, or at least to shave his head, that he might be considered as an insane person, and his renunciation of Romanism as the effect of derangement of mind. Several plans of escape were projected, all beset with much difficulty and danger. The one he decided upon proved to be successful.
On Saturday, the 13th of October, at half-past nine in the evening, he fastened a cord made of strips of linen to the grate of a window, which grate did not extend to the top. Having climbed over this, he lowered himself into a small court-yard. He had now left that part of the establishment reserved for the insane, and was now in the cloistered part where the brethren dwelt. But here his fortune failed him. He saw at a distance a servant of the insane approaching with a light; and with aching heart and trembling limbs, by a desperate effort, climbed up again. He returned to his cell, concealing his cord, and laid himself down to rest.
On the following Monday, he renewed his efforts to escape. He lowered himself, as before, into the little court-yard; but being weak in health and much shaken in his nervous system by all he had suffered in body and mind, he was seized with palpitation of the heart and trembled all over, so that he could not walk a step. He laid down to rest and recover his breath. He felt as if he could get no further. "But," he says in his affecting narrative, "My dear Saviour to whom I turned in this time of need, helped me wonderfully. I felt now, more than ever in my life, His gracious and comforting presence, and believed, in that dismal moment, with my whole soul, His holy word;" "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness."
Borzinski now arose, pulled off his boots, and though every step was made with difficulty, he ascended the stairs leading to the first story. He went along the passage way until he came to a door leading into corridors where the cloister brethren lodged. But the trembling fit came over him again, with indescribable anguish, as he sought to open the door with a key with which he had been furnished. He soon rallied again, and, like a spectre, gliding by the doors of the brethren, who occupied the second and third corridors, many of whom had lights still burning, he came with his boots in one hand, and his bundle in the other, to a fourth passage way, in which was an outside window he was trying to reach. The cord was soon fastened to the window frame, yet still in bitter apprehension; for this window was seldom opened, and opened hard, and with some noise. It was also only two steps distant from the apartment of the cloister physician, where there was a light, and it was most likely that, on the first grating of the window, he would rush out and apprehend the fugitive. However the window was opened without raising any alarm, and now it was necessary to see that no one was passing below; for though the spot is not very much frequented, yet the streets cross there, and people approach it from four different directions. During these critical moments, one person and another kept passing, and poor Borzinski tarried shivering in the window for near a quarter of an hour before he ventured to let himself down. While he was waiting his opportunity he heard the clock strike the third quarter after nine and knew that he had but fifteen minutes to reach the house where he was to conceal himself, which would be closed at ten. When all was still, he called most fervently on the Saviour, and grasping the cord, slid down into the street. He could scarce believe his feet were on the ground. Trembling now with joy and gratitude rather than fear, he ran bareheaded to his place of refuge, where he received a glad welcome. Having changed his garb, and tarried till three o'clock in the morning, he took leave of his friends and passing through the gloomy old capital of Bohemia, he reached the Portzitscher Gate, in order to pass out as early as possible. Just then a police corporal let in a wagon, and Borzinski, passed out unchallenged. It is needless to follow him further in his flight. We have given enough, of his history to prove that conventual establishments are at this moment what they ever have been—dangerous alike to liberty and life. AMERICAN AND FOREIGN CHRISTIAN UNION.
In place of labored arguments we give the following history of personal suffering as strikingly illustrative of the spirit of Romanism at the present day.
NARRATIVE OP SIGNORINA FLORIENCIA D' ROMANI, A NATIVE OF THE CITY OF NAPLES.
I was born in the year 1826, of noble and wealthy parents. Our mansion contained a small chapel, with many images, sacred paintings, and a neatly furnished mass altar. My father was a man of the world. He loved the society of fashionable men. As he lived on the rents and income of his estates, he had little to do, except to amuse himself with his friends. My mother, who was of as mild and sweet disposition, loved my father very dearly, but was very unhappy the most of the time because my father spent so much of his time in drinking with his dissolute companions, card playing, and in balls, parties, theatres, operas, billiards, &c. Father did not intend to be unkind to my mother, for he gave her many servants, and abundance of gold, horses, carriages and grooms, and said frequently in my hearing, that his wife should be as happy as a princess. Such was the state of society in Italy that men thought their wives had no just reason to complain, so long as they were furnished with plenty of food, raiment and shelter.
One of my father's most intimate friends was the very Rev. Father Salvator, a Priest of the order of St. Francis; he wore the habit of the order, his head was about half shaved. The sleeves of his habit were very large at the elbow; in these sleeves he had small pockets, in which he usually carried his snuff box, handkerchief, and purse of gold. This priest was merry, full of fun and frolic; he could dance, sing, play cards, and tell admirably funny stories, such as would make even the devils laugh in their chains.
Such was the influence and power this Franciscan had over my father and mother, that in our house, his word was law. He was our confessor, knew the secrets and sins, and all the weak points of every mind in the whole household. My own dear mother taught me to read before I was seven years of age. As I was the only child, I was much petted and caressed, indeed, such was my mother's affection for me that I was seldom a moment out of her sight. There was a handsome mahogany confessional in our own chapel. When the priest wanted any member of the household to come to him to confession, he wrote the name on a slate that hung outside the chapel door, saying that he would hear confessions at such a time to-morrow. Thus, we would always have time for the full examination of our consciences. Only one at a time was ever admitted into the chapel, for confessional duty, and the priest always took care to lock the door inside and place the key in his sleeve pocket. My mother and myself were obliged to confess once a week; the household servants, generally once a month. My father only once a year, during Lent, when all the inhabitants of seven years, and upwards, are obliged to kneel down to the priests, in the confessional, and receive the wafer God under the severest penalties. Woe to the individual who resists the ecclesiastical mandate.
When I was about fourteen years of age, I was sent to the Ursuline Convent, to receive my education. My dear mother would have preferred a governess or a competent teacher to teach me at home but her will was but a mere straw in the hands of our confessor and priestly tyrant. It was solely at the recommendation of the confessor, that I was imprisoned four years in the Ursuline Convent. As my confessor was also the confessor of the convent, he called himself my guardian and protector, and recommended me to the special care of the Mother Abbess, and her holy nuns, the teachers, who spent much of their time in the school department. As my father paid a high price, quarterly, for my tuition and board, I had a good room to myself, my living was of the best kind, and I always had wine at dinner. The nuns, my teachers, took much more pains to teach me the fear of the Pope, bishops and confessors, than the fear of God, or the love of virtue. In fact, with the exception of a little Latin and embroidery, which I learned in those four years, I came out as ignorant as I was before, unless a little hypocrisy may be called a useful accomplishment. For, of all human beings on earth, none can teach hypocrisy so well as the Romish priests and nuns. In the school department young ladies seldom have much to complain of, unless they are charity scholars; in that case the poor girls have to put up with very poor fare, and much hard work, hard usage and even heavy blows; how my heart has ached for some of those unfortunate girls, who are treated more like brutes, than human beings, because they are orphans, and poor. Yet they in justice are entitled to good treatment, for thousands of scudi (dollars) are sent as donations to the convents for the support of these orphans, every year, by benevolent individuals. So that as poor and unfortunate as these girls are, they are a source of revenue to the convents.
For the first three years of my convent life, I passed the time in the school department, without much anxiety of mind. I was gay and thoughtless, my great trouble was to find something to amuse myself, and kill time in some way. Though I treated all the school-mates with kindness, and true Italian politeness, I became intimate with only one. She was a beautiful girl, from the dukedom of Tuscany. She made me her confidant, and told me all her heart. Her parents were wealthy, and both very strict members of the Romish Church. But she had an aunt in the city of Geneva, who was a follower of John Calvin, or a member of the Christian church of Switzerland. This aunt had been yearly a visitor at her father's house. She being her father's only sister, an affectionate intimacy was formed between the aunt and niece. The aunt, being a very pious, amiable woman, felt it her duty to impress the mind of the niece, with the superiority of the religion of the holy bible over popish traditions; and the truth of the Scriptures soon found its way to the heart of my young friend. But her confessor soon found out that some change was going on in her mind, and told her father. There were only two ways to save her soul from utter ruin; one was to give her absolution and kill her before she got entirely out of the holy mother church; the other, was to send her to the Ursuline convent at Naples, where by the zeal and piety of those celebrated nuns, she might be secured from further heresy.
From this, the best friend of my school days, I learned more about God's word, and virtue, and truth, and the value of the soul, than from all other sources. There was a garden surrounded by a high wall, in which we frequently walked, and whispered to each other, though we trembled all the while for fear our confessor would by some means, find out that we looked upon the Romish church as the Babylon destined to destruction, plainly spoken of by St. John the revelator.
My young friend stood in great fear of the priests; she trembled at the very sight of one.
Her aunt had read to her the history and sufferings of the persecuted Protestants of Europe. She was a frail, and timid girl, yet such was the depth of her piety and the fervor of her religious faith, that she often declared to me that she would prefer death to the abandonment of those heavenly principles she had embraced, which were the source of her joy and hope. Her aunt gave her a pocket New Testament, in the Italian language, which she prized above all the treasures of earth, and carried with her carefully, wherever she went. I borrowed it and read it every opportunity I had. Several chapters I learned by heart. I took much pains to commit to memory all I could of the blessed book, for in case of our separation, I knew not where I could obtain another. My god-father who was a bishop, called to see me on my fifteenth birth day, and presented me with a splendid gold watch and chain richly studded with jewels, made in England, and valued at 200 scudi, saying that he had it imported expressly for my use. I had also several diamond articles of jewelry, presents I had received from my father from time to time. I had also, in my purse, 100 scudi in gold, which I had saved from my pin money. All the above property, I should have cheerfully given for a copy of the Holy Bible, in my own beautiful Italian language. A few months after I received the rich present from the Bishop, he called with my father and my confessor to see me. My heart almost came into my mouth when I saw them alight from my father's carriage, and enter the chapel door of the convent. Very soon the lady porter came to me and said, "Signorina, you are wanted in the parlor."
As my Tuscan friend had taught me to pray, and ask the Lord Jesus for grace and strength, I walked into my room, locked the door, and on my knees, called upon the Lord to save me from becoming a nun—for I knew then it was a determination on the part of the Abbess, bishop and confessor, that I should take the veil. I was the only child, and heiress of an immense fortune, of course, too good a prize to be lost. After a short and fervent prayer to my Lord and Saviour, I walked down to see what was to be my doom. I kissed my father's cheek, and kissed the hands of the Bishop and confessor—yet my very soul revolted from the touch of these whited sepulchres. All received me with great cordiality, yea, even more than usual affection. Soon after our meeting, my father asked permission of the Bishop to speak to me privately and taking me into a small room, said to me, "My dear daughter, you are not aware of the great misfortune that has recently come upon your father. While I was excited with wine at the card-table last evening, betting high and winning vast sums of money, I so far forgot myself and my duty to the laws of the country, that I called for a toast, and induced a number of my inebriated companions to drink the health of Italian liberty, and we all drank and gave three cheers for liberty and a liberal constitution. A Benedictine Friar being present, took all our names to the Commissary General, and offered to be a witness against us in the King's Court. As this is my first and only offence, the holy Bishop your god-father offers on certain conditions, to visit Rome immediately on my behalf, and secure the mediation of the holy Father Pius IX. Your venerable god-father has great influence at Rome, being a special favorite with his holiness, and his holiness can obtain any favor he asks of King Ferdinand. So if you will only consent to take the Black Veil, your father will be saved from the State prison."
This was terrible news to my young and palpitating heart. It was the first heavy blow that I had experienced in this vale of tears. I did not speak for some minutes; I could not. My trembling bosom heaved like the waves of the ocean before the blast. My veins were almost bursting; my hands and feet became as cold as marble, and when I attempted to speak my words seemed ready to choke me to death. I thought my last hour had come. I fell upon my knees and called upon God for mercy and help. My father, thinking I had gone mad, was greatly alarmed. The Bishop and confessor, who were anxiously waiting the result of my father's proposition, hearing my father weep and sob aloud, came in to see what the matter was. In the midst of my prayer, I fainted away, and became entirely unconscious. When I came to myself, I found myself on the bed. As I opened my eyes, it all seemed like a dream. The abbess spoke to me very kindly, and sprinkled my bed with holy water, and at the same time laid a large bronze crucifix on my breast, saying that Satan must be driven from my soul, for had it not been for the devil, I would have leaped for joy, and not fainted when father mentioned the black veil. "No," said the holy mother, "had it not been for the devil you would rejoice to take the holy black veil blessed by the Holy Madonna and the blessed saints Clara and Theresa. It is a holy privilege that very few can enjoy on earth. Yea, my daughter, there can not be a greater sin in the sight of the Madonna and the blessed saints, than to reject a secluded life. Yea," said the crafty old nun, (who was thinking much more about my gold, than my soul,) "I never knew a young lady who had the offer of becoming a nun and rejected it, who ever came to a good end. If they refuse, and marry, they generally die in child-bed with the first child, or they will marry cruel husbands, who beat them and kill them by inches. Therefore, dear daughter, let me most affectionately warn you as you have had the honor of being selected by the holy Bishop and our holy confessor to the high dignity and privilege of a professed nun, of the order of St. Ursula, reject it not at your peril. Be assured, heaven knows how to punish such rebellion."
My head ached so violently at the time, and I was so feverish that I begged the old woman to send for my mother, and to talk to me no more on the subject of the black veil, but to drop it until some future time. In my agony on account of the foul plot against my liberty, my virtue, and my gold, I felt such a passion of rage come upon me, that had I absolute power for the moment I would have cast every Abbess, Pope, Bishop and Priest into the bottomless pit. May the Lord forgive me, but I would have done it at that time with a good will. The greatest comfort I now had was reading my Tuscan friend's New Testament, or hearing it read by her when we had a chance to be by ourselves, which was not very often. In the evening of the same day of my illness, father and mother came to see me, and Satan came also in the shape of the confessor; so that I had not a moment alone with my dear parents. The confessor feared my determined opposition to a convent's life, for he had previous to this, several times in the confessional, dropped hints to me on the great happiness, purity, serenity and joy of all holy nuns. But I always told him I would not be a nun for the world. I should be so good, it would kill me in a short time. "No, no, father," said I, "I WILL NOT BE A NUN."
Father spoke to me again of his great misfortune—told me that his trial would come on in a few days and that he was now at liberty on a very heavy bail; that the Bishop was only waiting my answer to start immediately for the holy city, and throw himself at the feet of the holy Pope to procure father's unconditional pardon from the King. I said "my dear father, how long will you be imprisoned if you do not get a pardon?" "From two to five years," he replied. "My daughter, it is my first offence, and I have witnesses to prove that the priest who appeared against me, urged me to drink wine several times after I had drank a large quantity, and was the direct cause of my saying what I did." Now it all came to me, that the whole of it was a plot, a Jesuitical trick, to get my father in the clutches of the law, and then make a slave of me for life through my sympathy for my dear father.
The vile priests knew that I loved my father most ardently; in fact, my father and mother were the only two beings on earth that I did love. My mother I loved most tenderly, but my affection for my father was of a different kind. I loved him most violently, with all the ardor of my soul. Mother seemed all the home to me; but father was to me all the world beside. My father was all the brother I had. He would frequently come home, and get me to go out into the garden and play with him, just as though he was my brother. There we would swing, run, jump and exercise in several healthy games, common in our climate. He never gave me an unkind word or an unkind reproof. If I did say anything wrong, he would take me to my mother and say, "Clara, here I bring you a prisoner, let her be kept on bread and water till dinner time." Even when mother had displeased him about some trifle, so that he had not a smile for her, he always had a smile for his Flora. Even now, while I write, a chill comes over my frame, while I think of that vile Popish plot. I said to my father, "You shall not be imprisoned if I can prevent it; at the same time I do not see any great gain, comfort or profit in having your only daughter put in prison for life, without the hope of liberty ever more, to save you from two years imprisonment."
At these words, the eyes of the confessor flashed like lurid lightnings; his very frame shook, as though he had the fever and ague. Truth seemed so strange to the priest, that he found it hard of digestion. Father and mother both wept, but made no reply. The idea of putting their only child in a dungeon for life, though it might be done in the sacred name of religion, did not seem to give them much comfort "Father," said I, "I wish to see you at ten o'clock to-morrow morning, without fail—I wish to see you alone; don't bring mother or any one else with you. You shall not go to prison, all will yet be well." On account of this reasonable request, to see my father alone, the confessor arose in a terrible rage and left the apartment As quick as the mad priest left us to ourselves, I told my father my plan, or what I would like to do with his permission. My plan was, for my mother and myself to get into our carriage and drive to the palace of King Ferdinand and make him acquainted with all the truth; for I was aware from what I had heard, that the King had heard only the priest's side of the story. My father stood in such fear of the priests that he only consented to my plan with great reluctance, saying that we ought first to make our plan known to the confessor, lest he should be offended. To this my mother responded, saying, "My daughter, it would be very wrong for us to go to the King, or take any step without the advice of our spiritual guide." Here, I felt it to be my duty to reveal to my deceived parents some of the secrets of the confessional, though I might, in their estimation, be guilty of an unpardonable sin by breaking the seal of iniquity. I revealed to my parents the frequent efforts of the priest to obtain my consent to take the veil, and that I had opposed from first to last, every argument made use of to rob me of the society of my parents, of my liberty, and of everything I held dear on earth. As to the happiness of the nuns so much talked of by the priests, from what I had seen in their daily walk and general deportment, I was fully convinced that there was no reality in it; they were mere slaves to their superiors, and not half so happy as the free slaves on a plantation who have a kind master. My parents saw my determination to resist to the death every plan for my imprisonment in the hateful nunnery. Therefore they promised that I should have the opportunity to see the King on the morrow in company with my mother.
On the following day, at twelve o'clock, we left the convent in our carriage for the palace. We were very politely received by the gentleman usher, who conducted us to seats in the reception-room. After sending our cards to the king, we waited nearly one hour before he made his appearance. His majesty received us with much kindness, raised us immediately from our knees, and demanded our business. I was greatly embarrassed at first, but the frank and cordial manner of the sovereign soon restored me to my equilibrium, and I spoke freely in behalf of my dear father. The king heard me through very patiently, with apparent interest, and said, "Signorina, I am inclined to believe you have spoken the truth; and as your father has always been a good loyal subject, I shall, for your sake, forgive him this offence; but let him beware that henceforth, wine or no wine, be does not trespass against the laws of the kingdom, for a second offence I will not pardon. Go in peace, signoras, you have my royal word."
We thanked his majesty, and returned to our home with the joyful tidings. O, how brief was our joy! My father, who had been waiting the result of our visit to the palace with great impatience, received us with open arms, and pressed us to his heart again and again.
I was so excited that, long before we got to him, I cried out, "All is well, all is well, father. A pardon from the king! Joy, joy!" We drove home, and father went immediately to spread the happy news amongst his friends. All our faithful domestics, including my old affectionate nurse, were so overjoyed at the news that they danced about like maniacs. My father was always a very indulgent and liberal master, furnished his servants with the best of Italian fare, plenty of fresh beef, wine, and macaroni. We had scarcely got rested, when our tormenter, the confessor, came into our room and said, "Signoras, what is the meaning of all this fandango and folly amongst the servants? ARE THE HERETICS ALL KILLED, that there should be such joy, or has the queen been delivered of a son, an heir to the throne?"
My dear mother was now as pale as death, and silent, for she saw that the priest was awfully enraged; for, although he feigned to smile, his smile was similar to that of the hyena when digging his prey out of the grave. The priest's dark and villainous visage had the effect of confirming in my mother's mind all the truth regarding the plot to enslave me for life, and secure all my father's estate to the pockets of the priests. The confessor was now terribly mad, for two obvious reasons: one was because he was not received by us with our usual cordiality and blind affection; the other, because, by the king's pardon, I was not under the necessity to sacrifice my liberty and happiness for life to save my father from prison; and what tormented him the most was, that he believed that I, though young, could understand and thwart his hellish plans. As my mother trembled and was silent, fearing the priest was cursing her and her only daughter in his heart,—for the priests tell such awful stories about the effects of a priest's curse that the great mass of the Italian people fear it more than the plague or any earthly misfortune.
The popish priests declare that St. Peter is the doorkeeper of the great city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, that he has the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and has received strict orders not to admit any soul, under any circumstances, who has been cursed by a holy priest, unless that curse has been removed by the same priest in the tribunal of penance. I was obliged to speak to his reverence, and I felt so free, so happy in Christ as my only hope, that I opened my mind to the priest very freely, and told him what I thought of him and his plot. "Sir priest," said I, "I shall never return to the convent to stay long. As soon as the time for my education ends, I shall return to liberty and domestic life. I am not made of the proper material to make a nun of. I love the social domestic circle; I love my father and mother, and all our domestics, even the dogs and the cats, pigeons, and canaries, the fish-ponds, play-grounds, gardens, rivers, and landscapes, mountain and ocean,—all the works of God I love. I shall live out of the convent to enjoy these things; therefore, reverend sir, if you value my peace and good-will, never speak to me or my parents on the subject of my becoming a nun in any convent. I shall prefer death to the loss of my personal liberty."
I was so decided, and had received such strength and grace from heaven, that the priest was dumbfounded,—my smooth stone out of the sling had hit him in the right place. After much effort to appear bland and good-natured, he drew near my chair, seized my hand, and said, "My dear daughter, you mistake me. I love you as a daughter, I wish only your happiness. Your god-father, the holy Bishop, does not intend that you shall remain a common nun more than a year. After the first year you shall be raised to the highest dignity in the convent. You shall be the Lady Superior, and all the nuns shall bow at your feet, and implicitly obey your commands.
"The Lady Superior of St. Clara is now very old, and his lordship wishes soon to fill her place. For that purpose he has selected his adopted daughter. Your talents, education, wealth, and high position in society, eminently fit you for one of the highest dignities on earth."