"A thousand thanks for the kindness of my lord Bishop," said I; "but your reverence has not altered my mind in the least. I can never bow down to the feet of any Lady Superior, neither will I ever consent to see a single human being degraded at my feet. The holy Bible says, 'Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.'" "Bible, my daughter!" exclaimed the priest, "Where did you see that dangerous book? Know you not that his holiness the Pope has placed it in the Index Expurgatorius, because it has been the means of the damnation of millions of souls? Not because it is in itself a bad book, but because it is a theological work, prepared only for the priests and ministers of our holy religion. Therefore, it is always a very dangerous book in the hands of women or laymen, who wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction."
"Well, reverend sir," I replied, "you seem determined to differ from the Lord Jesus and his apostles. I read in the New Testament that we should search the Scriptures because they testify of Christ. And one of the apostles, I don't remember which, said, 'all scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine and for instruction in righteousness.' Now, reverend sir, if the people have souls, as well as the priests, why should they not read the word of God which speaks of Christ and is profitable for instruction?"
"You are almost a heretic!" exclaimed the priest, "and you talk very much like one." His countenance changed to a pale sickly hue, as he said, "My daughter, where did you get that dangerous book? If you have, it in your possession, give it to me, and I will bless you, and pray for you to the blessed Madonna that she may save you from the infernal pit of heresy."
"I do not own the blessed book," said I, "but I wish I did. I would give one hundred scudi in gold for a copy of the New Testament. I borrowed a copy from a friend, and returned it to the owner again. But I understand that there are copies to be had in London, and when I have a good opportunity I shall send for a copy, if I can do it unbeknown to any one."
"Enough, enough!" exclaimed the priest. "I shall be in the tribunal of penance at six o'clock P.M.; there I shall expect to meet you. You need pardon immediately, and spiritual advice. Should you die as you now are without absolution, you would be lost and damned forever. I tremble for you, my dear daughter, seeing that the devil has got such a powerful hold of you. It may even be absolutely necessary to kill the body to save your soul; for should you relapse again into heresy after due penance for this crime has been performed, it would be impossible to renew you again to repentance, seeing you crucify the Lord and the Madonna afresh, and put them to an open shame."
Here my mother fainted and shook like an aspen leaf. But God gave me strength, and I said in a moment that as his reverence thought my sins so great, I would not go to any man, no, not even to the Pope; I would go to God alone, and leave my cause in his hands, life or death. "Therefore, reverend sir, I shall save you from all further trouble in attending the confessional any more on my account. From henceforth no earthly power shall drag me alive and with my consent to the tribunal of penance."
"Woman!" exclaimed the priest furiously, "are you mad? There are ten thousand devils in you, and we must drive them out by some means." After this discharge of priestly venom, the priest left in a rage giving the door a terrible slam, which awoke my mother from her sorrowful trance. During the whole conversation, such was the electrical power of the priest over my mother's weak and nervous system, that if she attempted to say a word in my behalf, the keen, snakish black eye of the priest would at once make her tremble and quail before him, and the half uttered word would remain silent on her lips. The priest went at once in search of my father. He came home boiling over with rage, saying he wished I had never been born. He cursed the day of my birth. The cause of all this paternal fury upon my poor devoted head was the foul misrepresentations of my father confessor, who was now in league with the Bishop, both determined to shut me up in a prison convent, or end my mortal career.
My poor mother remained mute and heart-broken. My sweet mother; never did she utter one word of unkindness to me; her very look to the last was one of gentleness and love. But my father loved honor and reputation amongst men above all other things. The idea of being the father of an accursed heretic, tormented his pride, and he being suspected of heresy himself caused him to be forsaken by many of his proud friends and acquaintances. He was even insulted in the streets by the numerous Lazaroni, with the epithet of Maldito Corrobonari, so that I lost my father's love. And when the confessor told him there was no other way to save me from hell than an entire life of penance in a convent, he heartily and freely gave his consent. Mother, my own sweet mother, my only remaining friend, turned as pale as death, but was enabled to say a word in my behalf.
I saw that my earthly doom was sealed; there was not a single voice in all Naples to save me from imprisonment for life. Not a tongue in four hundred thousand that would dare speak one word in my behalf. Father commanded me to get ready to leave his house forever that very night, saying the carriage and confessor would be on hand to take me away at eight o'clock P.M., by moonlight. I got on my knees and begged my father as a last request that he would allow me to remain three days with my mother, but he refused. Said he, "That is now beyond my power. Not an hour can you remain after eight o'clock."
As I knew not when I should see my Tuscan friend again, I begged the privilege of seeing her for a few moments. I was anxious to ask her prayers and sympathy, and to put her on her guard, for should the priests discover her New Testament, they would punish her as they did me, or as they intended to do to me. But this favor was denied me, and I could not write to her, for all letters of the scholars in the convents, are opened under the pretence to prevent them from receiving love-letters. The Romish church keeps all her dark plans a secret, but never allows any secret to be kept from the priests.
I went into my room to bid farewell to my home forever. I fell on my knees and prayed to God for his dear Son's sake to help me, to give me patience, and to keep me from the sin of suicide. The more I thought of my utterly unprotected situation and of the savage disposition of my foes, the priests, the more I thought of the propriety of taking my own life, rather than live in a dungeon all my days. Such was the power of superstition over our domestics that they looked upon me as one accursed of the church, a Protestant heretic, and not one of them would take my hand or bid me good bye. At tea-time I was not allowed to sit at table with father, mother, and the confessor, as formerly. But I had my supper sent up to my room.
A short time after the bell rang for vespers, the carriage being ready, my father and the confessor with myself and one small trunk got into the best seats inside, and rode off at a rapid rate. I kept my veil over my face, and said not a word neither did I shed a single tear; my sorrow, and indignation was too deep for utterance or even for tears. The priest and my father uttered not a word. Perhaps my father's conscience made him ashamed of such vile work—that of laying violent hands on a defenceless girl of eighteen years of age, for no crime whatever, only the love of liberty and pure Bible religion. But if the priest was silent, his vile countenance indicated a degree of hellish pleasure and satisfaction. Never did piratical captain glory more in seeing a rich prize along side with all hands killed and out of the way, than my reverend confessor; yet a short time before he said he loved me as a daughter. Yes, he did love me, as the wolf loves the lamb, as the cat loves the mouse and as the boa constrictor the beautiful gazelle. To my momentary satisfaction we entered the big gate of St. Ursula, for although I knew I should suffer there perhaps even death, there was some satisfaction in seeing a few faces that I had seen in my gay and happy days, now alas! forever gone by! I was somewhat grieved by the cold reception I received. All seemed to look upon me with horror. But none of these things moved me; I looked to God for strength, for I felt that He alone could nerve me for the conflict. The hardest blow of all was, my dear father left me at the mercy of the priest without one kind look or word. He did not even shake hands with me, nor did he say farewell.
Oh Popery, what a mysterious power is thine! Thou canst in a few hours destroy powerful love which it took long years to cement in loving hearts. When my father had left and I heard the porter lock the heavy iron gate I felt an exquisite wretchedness come over me. I would have given worlds for death at that moment. In a few moments the priest rung a bell, and the old Jezebel the mother Abbess made her appearance. "Take this heretic, Holy Mother, and place her in confinement in the lower regions; GIVE HER BREAD AND WATER ONCE IN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS, THE WATER THAT YOU HAVE WASHED YOUR SACRED FEET IN, NO OTHER; give her straw to sleep on, but no pillow. Take all her clothing away and give her a coarse tunic; one single coarse garment to cover her nakedness, but no shoes. She has grievously sinned against the holy mother church, and now she mercifully imposes upon her years of severe penance, that her body of sin may be destroyed and her soul saved after suffering one million of years in holy purgatory. Our chief duty now, holy mother, in order to save this lost soul from mortal sin will be to examine her carefully every, day to ascertain if possible what she most dislikes, or what is most revolting to her flesh, that whatever it may be, she, must be compelled to perform it whatever it may cost. Let a holy wax candle burn in her cell at night, until further orders. And let the Tuscan heretic be treated in the same way. They are both guilty of the same crimes." At the word "Tuscan heretic," possessing the spirit of Christ that I knew on earth. Yet how true it is that misery loves company; there was even satisfaction in being near my unfortunate friend though our sufferings might be unutterable. Still I was unhappy in the thought that she was suffering on my account. Had I never said a word about borrowing a New Testament, she would never have been suspected as being the direct cause of my conversion to the truth, and of my renunciation of the vile confessional.
I was somewhat puzzled to know what kind of a place was meant by the lower regions; I had never heard of these regions before. But soon two women in black habits with their faces entirely covered excepting two small holes for the eyes to peep through, came to me and without speaking, made signs for me to follow them. I did so without resistance, and soon found myself in an under-ground story of the infernal building. "There is your cell," said the cowled inquisitors, "look all around, see every thing, but speak not; no not for your life. The softest whisper will immediately reach the ears of the Mother Abbess, and then you are loaded with heavy chains until you die, for there must be no talking or whispering in this holy retreat of penance. And," said my jailor further, "take off your clothes, shoes and stockings, and put on this holy coarse garment which will chafe thy flesh but will bless thy soul. Holy St. Francis saved many souls by this holy garment."
As resistance was worse than useless, I complied, and soon found my poor feet aching with the cold on the bare stone floor. I was soon made to feel the blessing of St. Francis with a vengeance. My sufferings were indescribable. It seemed as though ten thousand bees had stung me in every part. I never closed my eyes for several nights. I laid on my coarse straw and groaned and sighed for death to come and relieve me of my anguish. As soon as the holy wax candle was left with me I took it in my hand and went forth to survey my dungeon; but I did not enjoy my ramble. In one of the cells, I found my Tuscan friend—that dear Christian sister—in great agony, having had on the accursed garment for several days. Her body was one entire blister, and very much inflamed. Her bones were racked with pain, as with the most excruciating inflammatory rheumatism. We recognized each other; she pointed to heaven as if to say 'trust in the Lord, my sister, our sufferings will soon be over.' I kissed my hand to her and returned again to my cell. I saw other victims half dead and emaciated that made my heart sick. I refrained from speaking to any one for I feared my condition, wretched as it was, might be rendered even worse, if possible by the fiends who had entire power over me. "O my God!" said I to myself, "why was I born? O give my soul patience to suffer every pain."
On the fourth day of my imprisonment the jailor brought me some water and soap, a towel, brush and comb, and the same clothes I wore when I entered the foul den. They told me to make haste and prepare myself to appear before the holy Bishop. Hope revived in my soul, for I always thought that my god-father had some regard for me, and had now come to release me from the foul den I was in. Cold water seemed to afford much relief to my tortured body. I made my toilet as quick as I could in such a place. My feet were so numb and swollen that it was difficult for me to get my shoes on. At last the Bishop arrived as I supposed, and I was conducted—not into his presence as I expected, but into that of my bitterest enemy, the confessor. At the very sight of the monster, I trembled like a reed shaken by the wind. The priest walked to each of the doors, locked them, put the keys into a small writing desk, locked it, took out the key and placed it carefully in his sleeve pocket. This he did to assure me that we were alone, that not one of the inmates could by any means disturb for the present the holy meditations of the priest. He bade me take a seat on the sofa by him. In kind soft words he said to me, that if I was only docile and obedient, he would cause me to be treated like a princess, and that in a short time I should have my liberty if I preferred to return to the world. At the same time he attempted to put his arm around my waist. In a moment I was on my feet. While he was talking love to me, I was looking at two large alabaster vases full of beautiful wax flowers; one of them was as much as I could lift. Without one thought about consequences, I seized the nearest vase and threw it with all the strength I had at the priest's head. He fell like a log and uttered one or two groans. The vase was broken. It struck the priest on the right temple, close to the ear. For a moment I listened to see if any one were coming. I then looked at the priest, and saw the blood running out of his wound. I quaked with fear lest I had killed the destroyer of my peace. I did not intend to kill him, I only wished to stun him, that I might take the keys, open the door and run, for the back door of the priest's room led right into a back path where the gates were frequently opened daring the day time. This was about twelve o'clock, and a most favorable moment for me to escape. In a moment I had searched the sleeve pocket of the priest, found the key and a heavy purse of gold which I secured in my dress pocket. I opened the little writing desk and took out the key to the back door. I saw that the priest was not dead, and I had not the least doubt from appearances, but that he would soon come to. I trembled for fear he might wake before I could get away. I thought of my dear Tuscan sister in her wretched cell, but I could not get to her without being discovered. There was no time to be lost. I opened the door with the greatest facility and gained the opening into the back path. I locked the door after me, and brought the key with me for a short distance, then placed all the keys tinder a rock. I had no hat but only a black veil. I threw that over my head after the fashion of Italy and gained the outer gate. There were masons at work near the gate which was open and I passed through into the street without being questioned by any one.
As I had not a nun's dress on, no one supposed I belonged to the Institution. I walked down directly to the sea coast. I could speak a few English words which I had learned from some English friends of my father. Before I got to where the boats lay I saw a gentleman whom I took to be an English or American gentleman. He had a pleasant face, looked at me very kindly, saw my pale dejected face and at once felt a deep sympathy for me. As I appeared to be in trouble and needed help, he extended his hand to me and said in tolerable good Italian, "Como va' le' signorina?" that is "How do you do young lady?" I asked him what was his country. "Me," said he, "Americano, Americano, capitano de Bastimento." (American captain of a ship.) "Signor Capitano," said I, "I wish to go on board your ship and see an American ship." "Well," said he, "with a great deal of pleasure; my ship lies at anchor, my men are waiting; you shall dine with me, Signorina."
I praised God in my soul for this merciful providence of meeting a friend, though a stranger, whose face seemed to me so honest and so true. Any condition, even honest slavery, would have been preferred by me at that time to a convent. The American ship was the most beautiful thing I ever saw afloat; splendid and neat in all her cabin arrangements. The mates were polite, and the sailors appeared neat and happy. Even the black cook showed his beautiful white teeth, as though he was glad to see one of the ladies of Italy. Poor fellows! Little did they know at that time what peril I was in should I be found out and taken back to my dungeon again. I informed the captain of my situation, of having just escaped from a convent into which I had been forced against my will. I told him I would pay him my passage to America, if he would hide me somewhere until the ship was well out to sea. He said I had come just in time, for he was only waiting for a fair wind, and hoped to be off that evening. "I have," said he, "a large number of bread-casks on board, and two are empty. I shall have you put into one of these, in which I shall make augur-holes, so that you can have plenty of fresh air. Down in the hold amongst the provisions you will be safe." I thanked my kind friend and requested him to buy me some needles, silk, and cotton thread, and some stuff for a couple of dresses, and one-piece of fine cotton, so that I might make myself comfortable during the voyage.
After I ate my dinner, the men called the captain and said there were several boats full of soldiers coming to the ship, accompanied by the priests. "Lady," exclaimed the captain, "they are after you. There is not a moment to be lost. Follow me," he continued. "And, Mr. Smith, tell the men to be careful and not make known that there is a lady on board."
An awful cold chill ran over me. I followed my friend quickly, and soon found myself coiled in a large cask. The captain coopered the head, which was missing, and made holes for me to get the air; but the perspiration ran off my face in a stream. Lots of things were piled on the cask, so that I had hard work to breathe; but such was my fear of the priests that I would rather have perished in the cask than be returned to die by inches.
The captain had been gone but a short time when I heard steps on deck, and much noise and confusion. As the hatches were open, I could hear very distinctly. After the whole company were on deck, the captain invited the priests and friars, about twenty in number, to walk down to the cabin, and explain the cause of their visit. They talked through an interpreter, and said that "a woman of bad character had robbed one of the churches of a large amount of gold, had attempted to murder one of the holy priests, but they were happy to say that the holy father, though badly wounded, was in a fair way of recovery. This woman is young, but very desperate, has awful raving fits, and has recently escaped from a lunatic institution. When her fits of madness come on they are obliged to put her into a straight jacket, for she is the most dangerous person in Italy. A great reward is offered for her by her father and the government—five thousand scudi. Is not this enough to tempt one to help find her? She was seen coming towards the shipping, and we want the privilege of searching your ship."
"Gentlemen," said the captain, "I do not know that the Italian authorities have any right to search an American ship, under the stars and stripes of the United States, for we do not allow even the greatest naval power on earth to do that thing. But if such a mad and dangerous woman as you have described should by any means have smuggled herself on board my ship, you are quite welcome to take her away as soon as possible, for I should be afraid of my life if I was within one hundred yards of such an unfortunate creature. If you can get her into your lunatic asylum, the quicker the better; and the five thousand scudi will come in good time, for I am thinking of building me a larger ship on my return home. Now, gentlemen, come; I will assist you, for I should like to see the gold in my pocket." The captain opened all his closets and secret places, in the cabin and forecastle and in the hold; everything was searched, all but the identical bread-cask in which I was snugly coiled.
After something like half an hour's search, the soldiers of King Ferdinand and the priests of King Pope left the ship, satisfied that the crazy nun was not on board; for, judging the captain by themselves, they thought he certainly would have given up a mad woman for the sake of five thousand scudi in gold, and for the safety of his own peace and comfort. A few moments after the Pope's friends had left, the excellent benevolent captain came down, and speedily and gently knocking off a few hoops with a hammer, took the head out, and I was free once more to breathe God's free air. I lifted my trembling heart in thanksgiving, while tears of gratitude rolled down my cheeks. Yet, as we were still within the reach of the guns of the papal forts, my heart was by no means at rest. But the good captain assured me repeatedly that all danger was past, for he had twenty-five men on board, all true Protestants, and he declared that all the priests of Naples would walk over their dead bodies before they should reach his vessel a second time. "And besides," said the captain, "there are two American men-of-war in port, who will stand up for the rights of Americans. They have not yet forgotten Captain Ingraham, of the United States ship St. Louis, and his rescue from the Austrian papists of the Hungarian patriot, Martin Kozsta." The captain wisely refused to purchase any needles or thread for me on shore, or any articles of ladies' dress, for fear of the Jesuitical spies, who might surmise something and cause further trouble. But he kindly furnished me with some goods he had purchased for his own wife, and there were needles and silk enough on board, so that I soon cut and made a few articles that made me very comfortable during our voyage of thirty-two days to London.
Early the next morning we sailed out of the beautiful harbor of Naples, with a fair wind. The beautiful ship seemed to fly over the blue sea. I staid on deck gazing at my native city as long as I could. I thought then of my once happy home, of my poor, broken-hearted mother, of my unhappy father. Although he had cast me off through the foul play of Jesuitical intrigue, my love for my dear father remained the same. "Farewell, my dear Italy," I said to myself. "When, my poor native land, wilt thou be happy? Never, never, so long as the Pope lives, and his wicked, murderous priests, to curse thee by their power."
After we got out into the open sea, the motion of the ship made me feel very sick, and I was so starved out before I came on board, that what good provisions I ate on board did not seem to agree with me. My stomach was in a very bad state, for while I was in the lower regions of the convent I ate only a small quantity of very stale hard bread once in twenty-four hours, at the ringing of the vesper bells every evening, and the water given me was that in which the holy Mother Abbess had washed her sacred feet. But I must give the holy mother credit for one good omission—she did not use any soap.
The captain gave me a good state-room which I occupied with an English lady passenger. This good lady was accustomed to the sea, therefore, she did not suffer any inconvenience from sea-sickness; but I was very sick, so that I kept my berth for five days. This good Protestant lady was very kind and attentive during the whole passage, and kindly assisted me in getting my garments made up on board. On our arrival in London, the captain said that he would sail for America in two weeks time, and very kindly offered me a free passage to his happy, native land; and I could not persuade him to take any money for my passage from Naples, nor for the clothing he had given me.
My fellow passenger being wealthy, and well acquainted with people in England, took me to her splendid home, a few miles from London. At her residence I was introduced to a young French gentleman, a member of the Evangelical protestant church in France, and a descendant of the pious persecuted Huguenots. This gentleman speaks good English and Italian, having enjoyed the privilege of a superior education. His fervent prayers at the family altar morning and evening made a very deep impression on my mind. He became deeply interested in my history, and offered to take me to France, after I should become his lawful wife.
Though I did not like the idea of choosing another popish country for my residence, yet as my friend assured me that I should enjoy my protestant religion unmolested, I gave him my hand and my heart. My lady fellow passenger was my bridesmaid. We were married by a good protestant minister. My husband is a wealthy merchant—gives me means and opportunities for doing good. Home is precious in a foreign land. Our home is one of piety and peace and happiness. The blessed Bible is read by us every day. Morning and evening we sing God's praise, and call upon the name of the Lord. Our prayer is that God may deliver beloved France and Italy from the curse of popery.
Another proof of the persecuting spirit of Rome is furnished by the "Narrative of Raffaele Ciocci, formerly a Benedictine Monk, but who now 'comes forth from Inquisitorial search and torture, and tells us what he has seen, heard and felt.'" We can make but a few extracts from this interesting little volume, published by the American and Foreign Christian Union, who,—to use their own language—"send it forth as a voice of instruction and warning to the American people. Let the facts be heard and read. They are not to be set aside by an apology for the dark ages, nor an appeal to the refinement of the nineteenth century. Here is Rome, not as she WAS in the midnight of the world, but as she IS at the present moment. There is the same opposition to private judgment —the same coercive measures—the same cruel persecution— the same efforts to crush the civil and religious liberties of her own subjects, for which she has ever been characterized."
Ciocci, compelled at an early age to enter the Catholic College—forced, notwithstanding his deep disgust and earnest remonstrance, to become a monk—imprisoned— deceived—the victim of priestly artifice and fraud, at length becomes a Christian. He is of course thrown into a deeper dungeon; and more exquisite anguish inflicted upon him that he may be constrained to return to the Romish faith. Of his imprisonment he says, "We traversed long corridors till we arrived at the door of an apartment which they requested me to enter, and they themselves retired. On opening the door I found myself in a close dark room, barely large enough for the little furniture it contained, which consisted of a small hard bed, hard as the conscience of an inquisitor, a little table cut all over, and a dirty ill-used chair. The window which was shut and barred with iron resisted all my efforts to open it My heart sunk within me, and I began to cogitate on the destiny in store for me." The Jesuit Giuliani entering his room, he asked that the window might be opened for the admission of light and air. Before the words were finished he exclaimed in a voice of thunder, "How! wretched youth, thou complainest of the dark, whilst thou art living in the clouds of error? Dost thou desire the light of heaven, while thou rejectest the light of the Catholic faith?"
Ciocci saw that remonstrance was useless, but he reminded his jailer that he had been sent there for three days, to receive instruction, not to be treated as a criminal.
"For three days," he resumed, counterfeiting my tone of voice, "for three days! That would be nothing. The dainty youth will not forsooth, be roughly treated; it remains to be seen whether he desires to be courteously entertained. Be converted, be converted, condemned soul! Fortunate is it for thee that thou art come to this place. THOU WILT NEVER quit it excepting with the real fruits of repentance! Among these silent shades canst thou meditate at thy leisure upon the deplorable state into which thou hast fallen. Woe unto thee, if thou refusest to listen to the voice of God, who conducts souls into solitude that he may speak with them." "So saying," he continues, "he abruptly left me. I remained alone drooping under the weight of a misfortune, which was the more severe, because totally unexpected. I stood, I know not how long, in the same position, but on recovering from this lethargy, my first idea was of flight. But this thought was at once abandoned. There was no possibility of flight. Without giving a minute account of the manner in which I passed my wearisome days and nights in this prison, let it suffice to say that they were spent in listening to sermons preached to me four times a day by the fathers Giuliani and Rossini, and in the most gloomy reflections.
"In the mean time the miseries I endured were aggravated by the heat of the season, the wretchedness of the chamber, scantiness of food, and the rough severity of those by whom I was occasionally visited. Uncertainty as to when this imprisonment would be at an end, almost drove me wild, and the first words I addressed to those who approached me were, 'Have the kindness to tell me when I shall be permitted to leave this place?' One replied, 'My son, think of hell.' I interrogated another; the answer was, 'Think my son, how terrible is the death of the sinner!' I spoke to a third, to a fourth, and one said to me, 'My son, what will be your feeling, if, on the day of judgment you find yourself on the left hand of God?' the other, 'Paradise, my son, Paradise!' No one gave me a direct answer; their object appeared to be to mistify and confound me. After the first few days, I began to feel most severely the want of a change of clothing. Accustomed to cleanliness, I found myself constrained to wear soiled apparel. * * * For the want of a comb, my hair became rough and entangled. After the fourth day my portion of food was diminished; a sign, that they were pressing the siege, that it was their intention to adopt both assault and blockade—to conquer me by arms, or induce me to capitulate through hunger. I had been shut up in this wretched place for thirteen days, when, one day, about noon, the Father Mislei, the author of all my misery, entered my cell.
"At the sight of this man, resentment overcame every other consideration, and I advanced towards him fully prepared to indulge my feelings, when he, with his usual smile, expressed in bland words his deep regret at having been the cause of my long detention in this retreat. 'Never could I have supposed,' said he, 'that my anxiety for the salvation of your soul would have brought you into so much tribulation. But rest assured the fault is not entirely mine. You have yourself, in a great degree, by your useless obstinacy, been the cause of your sufferings. Ah, well, we will yet remedy all.' Not feeling any confidence in his assurance, I burst out into bitter invectives and fierce words. He then renewed his protestations, and clothed them with such a semblance of honesty and truth, that when he ended with this tender conclusion, 'Be assured, my son, that I love you,' my anger vanished. * * * I lost sight of the Jesuit, and thought I was addressing a man, a being capable of sympathising in the distresses of others. 'Ah, well, father,' said I, 'I need some one on whom I can rely, some one towards whom I can feel kindly; I will therefore place confidence in your words.'" After some further conversation, Ciocci was asked if he wished to leave that place. "If I desire it!" he replied, "what a strange question! You might as well ask a condemned soul whether he desires to escape from hell!" At these words the Jesuit started like a goaded animal, and, forgetting his mission of deceiver, with, knit brows and compressed lips, he allowed his ferocious soul for one moment to appear; but, having grown old in deceit, he immediately had the circumspection to give this movement of rage the appearance of religious zeal, and exclaimed, "What comparisons are these? Are you not ashamed to assume the language of the Atheist? By speaking in this way you clearly manifest how little you deserve to leave this place. But since I have told you that I love you, I will give you a proof of it by thinking no more of those irreligious expressions; they shall be forgotten as though they had never been spoken. Well, the Cardinal proposes to you an easy way of returning to your monastery." "What does be propose?" "Here is the way," said he, presenting me with a paper: "copy this with your own hand; nothing more will be required of you." "I took the paper with convulsive eagerness. It was a recantation of my faith, there condemned as erroneous. * * * Upon reading this, I shuddered, and, starting to my feet, in a solemn attitude and with a firm voice, exclaimed, 'Kill me, if you please; my life is in your power; but never will I subscribe to that iniquitous formulary.' The Jesuit, after laboring in vain to persuade me to his wishes, went away in anger. I now momentarily expected to be conducted to the torture. Whenever I was taken from my room to the chapel, I feared lest some trap-door should open beneath my feet, and therefore took great care to tread in the footsteps of the Jesuit who preceded me. No one acquainted with the Inquisition will say that my precaution was needless. My imagination was so filled with the horrors of this place, that even in my short, interrupted, and feverish dreams I beheld daggers and axes glittering around me; I heard the noise of wheels, saw burning piles and heated irons, and woke in convulsive terror, only to give myself up to gloomy reflections, inspired by the reality of my situation, and the impressions left by these nocturnal visions. What tears did I shed in those dreary moments! How innumerable were the bitter wounds that lacerated my heart! My prayers seemed to me unworthy to be received by a God of charity, because, notwithstanding all my efforts to banish from my soul every feeling of resentment towards my persecutors, hatred returned with redoubled power. I often repeated the words of Christ, 'Father, forgive them, they know not what they do;' but immediately a voice would answer, 'This prayer is not intended for the Jesuits; they resemble not the crucifiers, who were blind instruments of the rage of the Jews; while these men are fully conscious of what they are doing; they are the modern Pharisees.' The reading of the Bible would have afforded me great consolation, but this was denied me." * * *
The fourteenth day of his imprisonment he was taken to the council to hear his sentence, when he was again urged to sign the form of recantation. But he refused. The Father Rossini then spoke: "Yon are decided; let it be, then, as you deserve. Rebellious son of the church, in the fullness of the power which she has received from Christ, you shall feel the holy rigor of her laws. She cannot permit tares to grow with the good seed. She cannot suffer you to remain among her sons and become the stumbling-block for the ruin of many. Abandon, therefore, all hope of leaving this place, and of returning to dwell among the faithful. KNOW, ALL IS FINISHED FOR YOU!"
For the conclusion of this narrative we refer the reader to the volume itself.
If any more evidence were needed to show that the spirit of Romanism is the same to-day that it has ever been, we find it in the account of a legal prosecution against ten Christians at Beldac, in France, for holding and attending a public worship not licensed by the civil authority. They had made repeated, respectful, and earnest applications to the prefect of the department of Hante-Vienne for the authorization required by law, and which, in their case, ought to have been given. It was flatly refused. They persisted in rendering to God that worship which his own command and their consciences required. For this they were arraigned as above stated, on the 10th of August, 1855. On the 26th of January, 1856, the case was decided by the "tribunal," and the three pastors and one lady, a schoolmistress, were condemned to pay a fine of one thousand francs each, and some of the others five-hundred francs each, the whole amount, together with legal expenditures, exceeding the sum of nine thousand francs.
Meantime, the converts continue to hold their worship-meetings in the woods, barns, and secret places, in order not to be surprised by the police commissioner, and to avoid new official reports.
"Thus, you see," says V. De Pressense, in a letter to the 'American and foreign Christian Union,' "that we are brought back to the religious meetings of the desert, when the Protestants of the Cevennes evinced such persevering fidelity. The only difference is, that these Christians belonged only a short time ago to that church which is now instigating persecutions against them."
DESTRUCTION OF THE INQUISITION IN SPAIN.
In 1809, Col. Lehmanowsky was attached to the part of Napoleon's army which was stationed in Madrid. "While in that city," said Col. L., "I used to speak freely among the people what I thought of the Priests and Jesuits, and of the Inquisition. It had been decreed by the Emperor Napoleon that the Inquisition and the Monasteries should be suppressed, but the decree, he said, like some of the laws enacted in this country, was not executed."
Months had passed away, and the prisons of the Inquisition had not been opened. One night, about ten or eleven o'clock, as he was walking one of the streets of Madrid, two armed men sprang upon him from an alley, and made a furious attack. He instantly drew his sword, put himself in a posture of defence, and while struggling with them, he saw at a distance the lights of the patrols,—French soldiers mounted, who carried lanterns, and who rode through the streets of the city at all hours of the night, to preserve order. He called to them in French, and as they hastened to his assistance, the assailants took to their heels and escaped; not, however, before he saw by their dress that they belonged to the guards of the Inquisition.
He went immediately to Marshal Soult, then Governor of Madrid, told him what had taken place, and reminded him of the decree to suppress this institution. Marshal Soult told him that he might go and suppress it The Colonel said that his regiment (the 9th. of the Polish Lancers,) was not sufficient for such a service, but if he would give him two additional regiments, the 117th, and another which he named, he would undertake the work. The 117th regiment was under the command of Col. De Lile, who is now, like Col. L., a minister of the gospel, and pastor of an evangelical church in Marseilles, France. "The troops required were granted, and I proceeded," said Col. L., "to the Inquisition which was situated about five miles from the city. It was surrounded by a wall of great strength, and defended by a company of soldiers. When we arrived at the walls, I addressed one of the sentinels, and summoned the holy fathers to surrender to the Imperial army, and open the gates of the Inquisition. The sentinel who was standing on the wall, appeared to enter into conversation with some one within, at the close of which he presented his musket, and shot one of my men. This was the signal of attack, and I ordered my troops to fire upon those who appeared on the walls."
It was soon obvious that it was an unequal warfare. The soldiers of the holy office were partially protected by a breast-work upon the walls which were covered with soldiers, while our troops were in the open plain, and exposed to a destructive fire. We had no cannon, nor could we scale the walls, and the gates successfully resisted all attempts at forcing them. I could not retire and send for cannon to break through the walls without giving them time to lay a train for blowing us up. I saw that it was necessary to change the mode of attack, and directed some trees to be cut down and trimmed, to be used as battering rams. Two of these were taken up by detachments of men, as numerous as could work to advantage, and brought to bear upon the walls with all the power they could exert, while the troops kept up a fire to protect them from the fire poured upon them from the walls. Presently the walls began to tremble, a breach was made, and the Imperial troops rushed into the Inquisition. Here we met with an incident, which nothing but Jesuitical effrontery is equal to. The Inquisitor General, followed by the father confessors in their priestly robes, all came out of their rooms, as we were making our way into the interior of the Inquisition, and with long faces, and arms crossed over their breasts, their fingers resting on their shoulders, as though they had been deaf to all the noise of the attack and defence, and had just learned what was going on, they addressed themselves in the language of rebuke to their own soldiers, saying, "WHY DO YOU FIGHT OUR FRIENDS, THE FRENCH?"
Their intention, no doubt, was to make us think that this defence was wholly unauthorized by them, hoping, if they could make us believe that they were friendly, they should have a better opportunity, in the confusion of the moment, to escape. Their artifice was too shallow, and did not succeed. I caused them to be placed under guard, and all the soldiers of the Inquisition to be secured as prisoners. We then proceeded to examine all the rooms of the stately edifice. We passed through room after room; found all perfectly in order, richly furnished, with altars and crucifixes, and wax candles in abundance, but we could discover no evidences of iniquity being practiced there, nothing of those peculiar features which we expected to find in an Inquisition. We found splendid paintings, and a rich and extensive library. Here was beauty and splendor, and the most perfect order on which my eyes had ever rested. The architecture, the proportions were perfect. The ceilings and floors of wood were scoured and highly polished. The marble floors were arranged with a strict regard to order. There was everything to please the eye and gratify a cultivated taste; but where were those horrid instruments of torture, of which we had been told, and. where those dungeons in which human beings were said to be buried alive? We searched in vain. The holy father assured us that they had been belied; that we had seen all; and I was prepared to give up the search, convinced that this Inquisition was different from others of which I had heard.
But Col. De Idle was not so ready as myself to give up the search, and said to me, "Colonel, you are commander to-day, and as you say, so it must be; but if you will be advised by me, let this marble floor be examined. Let water be brought and poured upon it, and we will watch and see if there is any place through which it passes more freely than others." I replied to him, "Do as you please, Colonel," and ordered water to be brought accordingly. The slabs of marble were large and beautifully polished. When the water had been poured over the floor, much to the dissatisfaction of the inquisitors, a careful examination was made of every seam in the floor, to see if the water passed through. Presently Col. De Lile exclaimed that he had found it. By the side of one of these marble slabs the water passed through fast, as though there was an opening beneath. All hands were now at work for further discovery; the officers with their swords and the soldiers with their bayonets, seeking to clear out the seam, and pry up the slab; others with the butts of their muskets striking the slab with all their might to break it, while the priests remonstrated against our desecrating their holy and beautiful house. While thus engaged, a soldier, who was striking with the butt of his musket, struck a spring, and the marble slab flew up. Then the faces of the inquisitors grew pale as Belshazzar when the hand writing appeared on the wall; they trembled all over; beneath the marble slab, now partly up, there was a stair-case. I stepped to the altar, and took from the candlestick one of the candles four feet in length, which was burning that I might explore the room below. As I was doing this, I was arrested by one of the inquisitors, who laid his hand gently on my arm, and with a very demure and holy look said "My son, you must not take those lights with your bloody hands they are holy." "Well," said I, "I will take a holy thing to shed light on iniquity; I will bear the responsibility." I took the candle, and proceeded down the stair-case. As we reached the foot of the stairs we entered a large room which was called the hall of judgment. In the centre of it was a large block, and a chain fastened to it. On this they were accustomed to place the accused, chained to his seat. On one side of the room was an elevated seat called the Throne of Judgment. This, the Inquisitor General occupied, and on either side were seats less elevated, for the holy fathers when engaged in the solemn business of the Holy Inquisition.
From this room we proceeded to the right, and obtained access to small cells extending the entire length of the edifice; and here such sights were presented as we hoped never to see again. Three cells were places of solitary confinement, where the wretched objects of inquisitorial hate were confined year after year, till death released them from their sufferings, and their bodies were suffered to remain until they were entirely decayed, and the rooms had become fit for others to occupy. To prevent this being offensive to those who occupied the Inquisition, there were flues or tubes extending to the open air, sufficiently capacious to carry off the odor. In these cells we found the remains of some who had paid the debt of nature: some of them had been dead apparently but a short time, while of others nothing remained but their bones, still chained to the floor of their dungeon.
In others we found living sufferers of both sexes and of every age, from three score years and ten down to fourteen or fifteen years—all naked as they were born into the world! And all in chains! Here were old men and aged women, who had been shut up for many years. Here, too, were the middle aged, and the young man and the maiden of fourteen years old. The soldiers immediately went to work to release the captives from their chains, and took from their knapsacks their overcoats and other clothing, which they gave to cover their nakedness. They were exceedingly anxious to bring them out to the light of day; but Col. L., aware of the danger, had food given them, and then brought them gradually to the light, as they were able to bear it.
We then proceeded, said Col. L., to explore another room on the left. Here we found the instruments of torture, of every kind which the ingenuity of men or devils could invent. Col. L., here described four of these horrid instruments. The first was a machine by which the victim was confined, and then, beginning with the fingers, every joint in the hands, arms and body, were broken or drawn one after another, until the victim died. The second was a box, in which the head and neck of the victim were so closely confined by a screw that he could not move in any way. Over the box was a vessel, from which one drop of water a second, fell upon the head of the victim; —every successive drop falling upon precisely the same place on the head, suspended the circulation in a few moments, and put the sufferer in the most excruciating agony. The third was an infernal machine, laid horizontally, to which the victim was bound; the machine then being placed between two beams, in which were scores of knives so fixed that, by turning the machine with a crank, the flesh of the sufferer was torn from his limbs, all in small pieces. The fourth surpassed the others in fiendish ingenuity. Its exterior was a beautiful woman, or large doll, richly dressed, with arms extended, ready, to embrace its victim. Around her feet a semi-circle was drawn. The victim who passed over this fatal mark, touched a spring which caused the diabolical engine to open; its arms clasped him, and a thousand knives cut him into as many pieces in the deadly embrace. Col. L., said that the sight of these engines of infernal cruelty kindled the rage of the soldiers to fury. They declared that every inquisitor and soldier of the inquisition should be put to the torture. Their rage was ungovernable. Col. L., did not oppose them. They might have turned their arms against him if he had attempted to arrest their work. They began with the holy fathers. The first they put to death in the machine for breaking joints. The torture of the inquisitor put to death by the dropping of water on his head was most excruciating. The poor man cried out in agony to be taken from the fatal machine. The inquisitor general was brought before the infernal engine called "The Virgin." He begged to be excused. "No" said they, "you have caused others to kiss her, and now you must do it." They interlocked their bayonets so as to form large forks, and with these pushed him over the deadly circle. The beautiful image instantly prepared for the embrace, clasped him in its arms, and he was cut into innumerable pieces. Col. L. said, he witnessed the torture of four of them—his heart sickened at the awful scene—and he left the soldiers to wreak their vengeance on the last guilty inmate of that prison-house of hell.
In the mean time it was reported through Madrid that the prisons of the Inquisition were broken open, and multitudes hastened to the fatal spot. And, Oh, what a meeting was there! It was like a resurrection! About a hundred who had been buried for many years were now restored to life. There were fathers who had found their long lost daughters; wives were restored to their husbands, sisters to their brothers, parents to their children; and there were some who could recognize no friend among the multitude. The scene was such as no tongue can describe.
When the multitude had retired, Col. L. caused the library, paintings, furniture, etc., to be removed, and having sent to the city for a wagon load of powder, he deposited a large quantity in the vaults beneath the building, and placed a slow match in connection with it. All had withdrawn to a distance, and in a few moments there was a most joyful sight to thousands. The walls and turrets of the massive structure rose majestically towards the heavens, impelled by the tremendous explosion, and fell back to the earth an immense heap of ruins. The Inquisition was no more!
Such is the account given by Col. Lehmanowsky of the destruction of the inquisition in Spain. Was it then finally destroyed, never again to be revived? Listen to the testimony of the Rev. Giacinto Achilli, D. D. Surely, his statements in this respect can be relied upon, for he is himself a convert from Romanism, and was formerly the "Head Professor of Theology, and Vicar of the Master of the Sacred Apostolic Palace."
He certainly had every opportunity to obtain correct information on the subject, and in a book published by him in 1851, entitled "Dealings with the Inquisition," we find, (page 71) the following startling announcement. "We are now in the middle of the nineteenth century, and still the Inquisition is actually and potentially in existence. This disgrace to humanity, whose entire history is a mass of atrocious crimes, committed by the priests of the Church of Rome, in the name of God and of His Christ, whose vicar and representative, the pope, the head of the Inquisition, declares himself to be,—this abominable institution is still in existence in Rome and in the Roman States."
Again, (page 89) he says, "And this most infamous Inquisition, a hundred times destroyed and as often renewed, still exists in Rome as in the barbarous ages; the only difference being that the same iniquities are at present practiced there with a little more secrecy and caution than formerly, and this for the sake of prudence, that the Holy See may not be subjected to the animadversions of the world at large."
On page 82 of the same work we find the following language. "I do not propose to myself to speak of the Inquisition of times past, but of what exists in Rome at the present moment; I shall therefore assert that the laws of this institution being in no respect changed, neither can the institution itself be said to have undergone any alteration. The present race of priests who are now in power are too much afraid of the popular indignation to let loose all their inquisitorial fury, which might even occasion a revolt if they were not to restrain it; the whole world, moreover, would cry out against them, a crusade would be raised against the Inquisition, and, for a little temporary gratification, much power would be endangered. This is the true reason why the severity of its penalties is in some degree relaxed at the present time, but they still remain unaltered in its code."
Again on page 102, he says, "Are the torments which are employed at the present day at the Inquisition all a fiction? It requires the impudence of an inquisitor, or of the Archbishop of Westminister to deny their existence. I have myself heard these evil-minded persons lament and complain that their victims were treated with too much lenity.
"What is it you desire?" I inquired of the inquisitor of Spoleto. "That which St. Thomas Aquinas says," answered he; "DEATH TO ALL THE HERETICS."
"Hand over, then, to one of these people, a person, however respectable; give him up to one of the inquisitors, (he who quoted St. Thomas Aquinas to me was made an Archbishop)—give up, I say, the present Archbishop of Canterbury, an amiable and pious man, to one of these rabid inquisitors; he must either deny his faith or be burned alive. Is my statement false? Am I doting? Is not this the spirit that invariably actuates the inquisitors? and not the inquisitors only, but all those who in any way defile themselves with the inquisition, such as bishops and their vicars, and all those who defend it, as the papists do. There is the renowned Dr. Wiseman, the Archbishop of Westminster according to the pope's creation, the same who has had the assurance to censure me from his pulpit, and to publish an infamous article in the Dublin Review, in which he has raked together, as on a dunghill, every species of filth from the sons of Ignatius Loyola; and there is no lie or calumny that he has not made use of against me. Well, then, suppose I were to be handed over to the tender mercy of Dr. Wiseman, and he had the full power to dispose of me as he chose, without fear of losing his character in the eyes of the nation to which, by parentage more than by merit, he belongs, what do you imagine he would do with me? Should I not have to undergo some death more terrible than ordinary? Would not a council be held with the reverend fathers of the company of Loyola, the same who have suggested the abominable calumnies above alluded to, in order to invent some refined method of putting me out of the world? I feel persuaded that if I were condemned by the Inquisition to be burned alive, my calumniator would have great pleasure in building my funeral pile, and setting fire to it with his own hands; or should strangulation be preferred, that he would, with equal readiness, arrange the cord around my neck; and all for the honor and glory of the Inquisition, of which, according to his oath, he is a true and faithful servant."
This, then, according to Dr. Achilli is the spirit of Romanism! Can we doubt that it would lead to results as frightful as anything described in the foregoing story?
But let us listen to his further remarks on the present state of the Inquisition. On page 75 he says, "What, then, is the Inquisition of the nineteenth century? The same system of intolerance which prevailed in the barbarous ages. That which raised the Crusade and roused all Europe to arms at the voice of a monk [Footnote: Bernard of Chiaravalle.] and of a hermit, [Footnote: Peter the Hermit.] That which—in the name of a God of peace, manifested on earth by Christ, who, through love for sinners, gave himself to be crucified—brought slaughter on the Albigenses and the Waldenses; filled France with desolation, under Domenico di Guzman; raised in Spain the funeral pile and the scaffold, devastating the fair kingdoms of Granada and Castile, through the assistance of those detestable monks, Raimond de Pennefort, Peter Arbues, and Cardinal Forquemorda. That, which, to its eternal infamy, registers in the annals of France the fatal 24th of August, and the 5th of November in those of England."
That same system which at this moment flourishes at Rome, which has never yet been either worn out or modified, and which at this present time, in the jargon of the priests, is called a "the holy, Roman, universal, apostolic Inquisition. Holy, as the place where Christ was crucified is holy; apostolic, because Judas Iscariot was the first inquisitor; Roman and universal, because FROM ROME IT EXTENDS OVER ALL THE WORLD. It is denied by some that the Inquisition which exists in Rome as its centre, is extended throughout the world by means of the missionaries. The Roman Inquisition and the Roman Propaganda are in close connection with each other. Every bishop who is sent in partibus infidelium, is an inquisitor charged to discover, through the means of his missionaries, whatever is said or done by others in reference to Rome, with the obligation to make his report secretly. The Apostolic nuncios are all inquisitors, as are also the Apostolic vicars. Here, then, we see the Roman Inquisition extending to the most remote countries." Again this same writer informs us, (page 112,) that "the principal object of the Inquisition is to possess themselves, by every means in their power, of the secrets of every class of society. Consequently its agents (Jesuits and Missionaries,) enter the domestic circle, observe every motion, listen to every conversation, and would, if possible, become acquainted with the most hidden thoughts. It is in fact, the police, not only of Rome, but of all Italy; INDEED, IT MAY BE SAID OF THE WHOLE WORLD."
The above statements of Dr. Achilli are fully corroborated by the Rev. Wm. H. Rule, of London. In a book published by him in 1852, entitled "The Brand of Dominic," we find the following remarks in relation to the Inquisition of the present time. The Roman Inquisition is, therefore, acknowledged to have an infinite multitude of affairs constantly on hand, which necessitates its assemblage thrice every week. Still there are criminals, and criminal processes. The body of officials are still maintained on established revenues of the holy office. So far from any mitigation of severity or judicial improvement in the spirit of its administration, the criminal has now no choice of an advocate; but one person, and he a servant of the Inquisition, performs an idle ceremony, under the name of advocacy, for the conviction of all. And let the reader mark, that as there are bishops in partibus, so, in like manner, there are inquisitors of the same class appointed in every country, and chiefly, in Great Britain and the colonies, who are sworn to secrecy, and of course communicate intelligence to this sacred congregation of all that can be conceived capable of comprehension within the infinitude of its affairs. We must, therefore, either believe that the court of Rome is not in earnest, and that this apparatus of universal jurisdiction is but a shadow,—an assumption which is contrary to all experience,—or we must understand that the spies and familiars of the Inquisition are listening at our doors, and intruding themselves on our hearths. How they proceed, and what their brethren at Rome are doing, events may tell; BUT WE MAY BE SURE THEY ARE NOT IDLE.
They were not idle in Rome in 1825, when they rebuilt the prisons of the Inquisition. They were not idle in 1842, when they imprisoned Dr. Achilli for heresy, as he assures us; nor was the captain, or some other of the subalterns, who, acting in their name, took his watch from him as he came out. They were not idle in 1843, when they renewed the old edicts against the Jews. And all the world knows that the inquisitors on their stations throughout the pontifical states, and the inquisitorial agents in Italy, Germany, and Eastern Europe, were never more active than during the last four years, and even at this moment, when every political misdemeanor that is deemed offensive to the Pope, is, constructively, a sin against the Inquisition, and visited with punishment accordingly. A deliberative body, holding formal session thrice every week, cannot be idle, and although it may please them to deny that Dr. Achilli saw and examined a black book, containing the praxis now in use, the criminal code of inquisitors in force at this day,—as Archibald Bower had an abstract of such a book given him for his use about one hundred and thirty years ago,—they cannot convince me that I have not seen and handled, and used in the preparation of this volume, the compendium of an unpublished Roman code of inquisitorial regulations, given to the vicars of the inquisitor-general of Modena. They may be pleased to say that the mordacchia, or gag, of which Dr. Achilli speaks, as mentioned in that BLACK BOOK, is no longer used; but that it is mentioned there, and might be used again is more than credible to myself, after having seen that the "sacred congregation" has fixed a rate of fees for the ordering, witnessing, and administration of TORTURE. There was indeed, a talk of abolishing torture at Rome; but we have reason to believe that the congregation will not drop the mordacchia, inasmuch, as, instead of notifying any such reformation to the courts of Europe, this congregation has kept silence. For although a continuation of the bullary has just been published at Rome, containing several decrees of this congregation, there is not one that announces a fulfilment of this illusory promise,—a promise imagined by a correspondent to French newspapers, but never given by the inquisitors themselves. And as there is no proof that they have yet abstained from torture, there is a large amount of circumstantial evidence that they have delighted themselves in death. And why not? When public burnings became inexpedient—as at Goa—did they not make provision for private executions?
For a third time at least the Roman prisons—I am not speaking of those of the provinces—were broken open, in 1849, after the desertion of Pius IX., and two prisoners were found there, an aged bishop and a nun. Many persons in Rome reported the event; but instead of copying what is already before the public, I translate a letter addressed to me by P. Alessandro Gavazzi, late chaplain-general of the Roman army, in reply to a few questions which I had put to him. All who have heard his statements may judge whether his account of facts be not marked with every note of accuracy. They will believe that his power of oratory DOES NOT betray him into random declamation. Under date of March 20th, 1852, be writes thus:
"MY DEAR SIR,—In answering your questions concerning the palace of Inquisition at Rome, I should say that I can give only a few superficial and imperfect notes. So short was the time that it remained open to the public, So great the crowd of persons that pressed to catch a sight of it, and so intense the horror inspired by that accursed place, that I could not obtain a more exact and particular impression.
"I found no instruments of torture, [Footnote: "The gag, the thumb-screw, and many other instruments of severe torture could be easily destroyed and others as easily procured. The non-appearance of instruments is not enough to sustain the current belief that the use of them is discontinued. So long as there is a secret prison, and while all the existing standards of inquisitorial practice make torture an ordinary expedient for extorting information, not even a bull, prohibiting torture, would be sufficient to convince the world that it has been discontinued. The practice of falsehood is enjoined on inquisitors. How, then, could we believe a bull, or decree, if it were put forth to-morrow, to release them from suspicion, or to screen them from obloquy? It would not be entitled to belief."—Rev. Wm. H. Rule.] for they were destroyed at the time of the first French invasion, and because such instruments were not used afterwards by the modern Inquisition. I did, however, find, in one of the prisons of the second court, a furnace, and the remains of a woman's dress. I shall never be able to believe that that furnace was placed there for the use of the living, it not being in such a place, or of such a kind, as to be of service to them. Everything, on the contrary, combines to persuade me that it was made use of for horrible deaths, and to consume the remains of the victims of inquisitorial executions. Another object of horror I found between the great hall of judgment and the luxurious apartment of the chief jailer (primo custode), the Dominican friar who presides over this diabolical establishment. This was a deep trap or shaft opening into the vaults under the Inquisition. As soon as the so-called criminal had confessed his offence; the second keeper, who is always a Dominican friar, sent him to the father commissary to receive a relaxation [Footnote: "In Spain, RELAXATION is delivery to death. In the established style of the Inquisition it has the same meaning. But in the common language of Rome it means RELEASE. In the lips of the inquisitor, therefore, if he used the word, it has one meaning, and another to the ear of the prisoner."—Rev. Wm. H. Rule.] of his punishment. With the hope of pardon, the confessed culprit would go towards the apartment of the holy inquisitor; but in the act of setting foot at its entrance, the trap opened, and the world of the living heard no more of him. I examined some of the earth found in the pit below this trap; it was a compost of common earth, rottenness, ashes, and human hair, fetid to the smell, and horrible to the sight and to the thought of the beholder.
"But where popular fury reached its highest pitch was in the vaults of St. Pius V. I am anxious that you should note well that this pope was canonized by the Roman church especially for his zeal against heretics. I will now describe to you the manner how, and the place where, those vicars of Jesus Christ handled the living members of Jesus Christ, and show you how they proceeded for their healing. You descend into the vaults by very narrow stairs. A narrow corridor leads you to the several cells, which, for smallness and stench, are a hundred times more horrible than the dens of lions and tigers in the Colosseum. Wandering in this labyrinth of most fearful prisons, that may be called 'graves for the living,' I came to a cell full of skeletons without skulls, buried in lime, and the skulls, detached from the bodies, had been collected in a hamper by the first visitors. Whose were those skeletons? and why were they buried in that place and in that manner? I have heard some popish priests trying to defend the Inquisition from the charge of having condemned its victims to a secret death, say that the palace of the Inquisition was built on a burial-ground, belonging anciently to a hospital for pilgrims, and that the skeletons found were none other than those of pilgrims who had died in that hospital. But everything contradicts this papistical defence. Suppose that there had been a cemetery there, it could not have had subterranean galleries and cells, laid out with so great regularity; and even if there had been such—against all probability —the remains of bodies would have been removed on laying the foundation of the palace, to leave the space free for the subterranean part of the Inquisition. Besides, it is contrary to the use of common tombs to bury the dead by carrying them through a door at the side; for the mouth of the sepulchre is always at the top. And again, it has never been the custom in Italy to bury the dead singly in quick lime; but, in time of plague, the dead bodies have been usually laid in a grave until it was sufficiently full, and then quick lime has been laid over them, to prevent pestilential exhalations, by hastening the decomposition of the infected corpses. This custom was continued, some years ago, in the cemeteries of Naples, and especially in the daily burial of the poor. Therefore, the skeletons found in the Inquisition of Rome could not belong to persons who had died a natural death in a hospital; nor could any one, under such a supposition, explain the mystery of all the bodies being buried in lime except the head. It remains, then, beyond a doubt, that that subterranean vault contained the victims of one of the many secret martyrdoms of the butcherly tribunal. The following is the most probable opinion, if it be not rather the history of a fact:
"The condemned were immersed in a bath of slaked lime, gradually filled up to their necks. The lime by little and little enclosed the sufferers, or walled them up alive. The torment was extreme but slow. As the lime rose higher and higher, the respiration became more and more painful, because more difficult. So that what with the suffocation of the smoke, and the anguish of the compressed breathing, they died in a manner most horrible and desperate. Some time after their death the heads would naturally separate from the bodies, and roll away into the hollows made by the shrinking of the lime. Any other explanation of the feet that may be attempted will be found improbable and unnatural. You may make what use you please of these notes of mine, since I can warrant their truth. I wish that writers, speaking of this infamous tribunal of the Inquisition, would derive their information from pure history, unmingled with romance; for so great and so many the historical atrocities of the Inquisition, that they would more than suffice to arouse the detestation of a thousand worlds. I know that the popish impostor-priests go about saying that the Inquisition was never an ecclesiastical tribunal, but a laic. But you will have shown the contrary in your work, and may also add, in order quite to unmask these lying preachers, that the palace of the Inquisition at Rome is under the shadow of the palace of the Vatican; that the keepers are to this day, Dominican friars; and that the prefect of the Inquisition at Rome is the Pope in person.
"I have the honor to be your affectionate Servant,
"The Roman parliament decreed the erection of a pillar opposite the palace of the Inquisition, to perpetuate the memory of the destruction of that nest of abominations; but before that or any other monument could be raised, the French army besieged and took the city, restored the Pope, and with him the tribunal of the faith. Not only was Dr. Achilli thrown into one of its old prisons, on the 29th of July 1849, but the violence of the people having made the building less adequate to the purpose of safe keeping, he was transferred to the castle of St. Angelo, which had often been employed for the custody of similar delinquents, and there he lay in close confinement until the 9th of January, 1850, when the French authorities, yielding to influential representations from this country assisted him to escape in disguise as a soldier, thus removing an occasion of scandal, but carefully leaving the authority of the congregation of cardinals undisputed. Indeed they first obtained the verbal sanction of the commissary, who saw it expedient to let his victim go, and hush an outcry.
"Yet some have the hardihood to affirm that there is no longer any Inquisition; and as the Inquisitors were instructed to suppress the truth, to deny their knowledge of cases actually passing through their hands, and to fabricate falsehoods for the sake of preserving the SECRET, because the secret was absolutely necessary to the preservation of their office, so do the Inquisitors in partibus falsify and illude without the least scruple of conscience, in order to put the people of this country off their guard.
"That the Inquisition really exists, is placed beyond a doubt by its daily action as a visible institution at Rome. But if any one should fancy that it was abolished after the release of Dr. Achilli, let him hear a sentence contradictory, from a bull of the Pope himself, Pius IX, a document that was dated at Rome, August 22, 1851, where the pontiff, condemning the works of Professor Nuytz, of Turin, says, "after having taken the advice of the doctors in theology and canon law, AFTER HAVING COLLECTED THE SUFFRAGES OF OUR VENERABLE BROTHERS THE CARDINALS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SUPREME AND UNIVERSAL INQUISITION." And so recently as March, 1852, by letters of the Secretariate of State, he appointed four cardinals to be "members of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition;" giving incontrovertible evidence that provision is made for attending to communications of Inquisitors in partibus from all parts of the world. As the old cardinals die off, their vacant seats are filled by others. The 'immortal legion' is punctually recruited.
"After all, have we in Great Britain, Ireland and the colonies, and our brethren of the foreign mission stations, any reason to apprehend harm to, ourselves from the Inquisition as it is? In reply to this question, let it be observed;
"1. That there are Inquisitors in partibus is not to be denied. That letters of these Inquisitors are laid before the Roman Inquisition is equally certain. Even in the time of Leo XII, when the church of Rome was far less active in the British empire than it is now, some particular case was always decided on Thursday, when the Pope, in his character of universal Inquisitor, presided in the congregation. It cannot be thought that now, in the height of its exultation, daring and aggression, this congregation has fewer emissaries, or that they are less active, or less communicative than they were at that time. We also see that the number is constantly replenished. The cardinals Della Genga-Sermattei; De Azevedo; Fornari; and Lucciardi have just been added to it.
"2. Besides a cardinal in England, and a delegate in Ireland, there is both in England and Ireland, a body of bishops, 'natural Inquisitors,' as they are always acknowledged, and have often claimed to be; and these natural Inquisitors are all sworn to keep the secret—the soul of the Inquisition. Since, then, there are Inquisitors in partibus, appointed to supply the lack of an avowed and stationary Inquisition, and since the bishops are the very persons whom the court of Rome can best command, as pledged for such a service, it is reasonable to suppose they act in that capacity.
"3. Some of the proceedings of these bishops confirm the assurance that there is now an Inquisition in activity in England. * * * The vigilance exercised over families, also the intermeddling of priests with education, both in families and schools, and with the innumerable relations of civil society, can only be traced back to the Inquisitors in partibus, whose peculiar duty, whether by help of confessors or familiars, is to worm out every secret of affairs, private or public, and to organize and conduct measures of repression or of punishment. Where the secular arm cannot be borrowed, and where offenders lie beyond the reach of excommunication, irregular methods must be resorted to, not rejecting any as too crafty or too violent. Discontented mobs, or individual zealots are to be found or bought. What part the Inquisitors in partibus play in Irish assassinations, or in the general mass of murderous assaults that is perpetrated in the lower haunts of crime, it is impossible to say. Under cover of confessional and Inquisitorial secrets, spreads a broad field of action—a region of mystery—only visible to the eye of God, and to those 'most reverend and most eminent' guardians of the papacy, who sit thrice every week, in the Minerva and Vatican, and there manage the hidden springs of Inquisition on the heretics, schismatics, and rebels, no less than on 'the faithful' of realms. Who can calculate the extent of their power over those 'religious houses,' where so many of the inmates are but neophytes, unfitted by British education for the intellectual and moral abnegation, the surrender of mind and conscience, which monastic discipline exacts? Yet they must be coerced into submission, and kept under penal discipline. Who can tell how many of their own clergy are withdrawn to Rome, and there delated, imprisoned, and left to perish, if not 'relaxed' to death, in punishment of heretical opinions or liberal practices? We have heard of laymen, too, taken to Rome by force, or decoyed thither under false pretences there to be punished by the universal Inquisition; and whatever of incredibility may appear in some tales of Inquisitorial abduction, the general fact that such abductions have taken place, seems to be incontrovertible. And now that the Inquisitors in partibus are distributed over Christendom, and that they provide the Roman Inquisition with daily work from year's end to year's end, is among the things most certain,—even the most careless of Englishmen must acknowledge that we have all reason to apprehend much evil from the Inquisition as it is. And no Christian can be aware of this fact, without feeling himself more than ever bound to uphold the cause of christianity, both at home and abroad, as the only counteractive of so dire a curse, and the only remedy of so vast an evil." Rev. Wm. Rule, London.
The Rev. E. A. Lawrence, writing of "Romanism at Rome," gives us the following vivid description of the present state of the Roman Church.
"Next is seen at Rome the PROPAGANDA, the great missionary heart of the whole masterly system. Noiselessly, by the multiform orders of monks and nuns, as through so many veins and arteries, it sends out and receives back its vital fluid. In its halls, the whole world is distinctly mapped out, and the chief points of influence minutely marked. A kind of telegraphic communication is established with the remotest stations in South Africa and Siberia, and with almost every nook in our own land, to which the myrmidons of Papal power look with the most of fear. It is through means of this moral galvanic battery, set up in the Vatican, that the Church of Rome has gained its power of UBIQUITY—has so well nigh made itself OMNIPOTENT, as well as omnipresent.
"It is no mean or puny antagonist that strides across the path of a free, spiritual and advancing Protestantism. And yet, with a simple shepherd's sling, and the smooth stones gathered from Siloa's brook, God will give it the victory.
"Once more let us look, and we shall find at Rome, still working in its dark, malignant efficiency, the INQUISITION. Men are still made to pass through fires of this Moloch. This is the grand defensive expedient of the Papacy, and is the chief tribunal of the States. Its processes are all as secret as the grave. Its cells are full of dead men's bones. They call it the Asylum for the poor—a retreat for doubting and distressed pilgrims, where they may have experience of the parental kindness of their father the Pope, and their mother the church.
"Dr. Achilli had a trial of this beneficient discipline, when thrown into the deep dungeon of St. Angelo. And how many other poor victims of this diabolical institution are at this moment pining in agony, heaven knows.
"In America, we talk about Rome as having ceased to persecute. IT IS A MISTAKE. She holds to the principle as tenaciously as ever. She cannot dispense with it. Of the evil spirit of Protestantism she says, "This kind goeth not out, but by fire." Her reign, is a reign of terror. Hence she must hold both the principle and the power of persecution, of compelling men to believe, or, if they doubt, of putting them to death for their own good. Take from her this power and she bites the dust."
ROMANISM IN AMERICA.
It may perchance be said that the remarks of the Rev. William Rule, quoted above, refer exclusively to the existing state of things is England, Ireland, and the colonies. But who will dare to say, after a careful investigation of the subject, that they do not apply with equal force to these United States?
Has America nothing to fear from the inquisitors—from the Jesuits? Is it true that the "Inquisition still exists in Rome—that its code is unchanged—that its emissaries are sent over all the world—that every nuncio and bishop is an Inquisitor," and is it improbable that, even now, torture rooms like those described in the foregoing story, may be found in Roman Catholic establishments in this country? Yes, even here, in Protestant, enlightened America! Have WE then nothing to fear from Romanism? But a few days since a gentleman of learning and intelligence when speaking of this subject, exclaimed, "What have we to do with the Jesuits? and what is the Inquisition to us? The idea that we have aught to fear from Romanism, is simply ridiculous!" In reply to this, allow me to quote the language of the Rev. Manuel J. Gonsalves, leader of the Madeira Exiles.
"The time will come when the American people will arise as one man, and not only abolish the confessional, but will follow the example of many of the European nations, who had no peace, or rest, till they banished the Jesuits. These are the men, who bask in the sunbeams of popery, to whom the pope has entrusted the vast interests of the king of Rome, in this great Republic. Nine tenths of the Romish priests, now working hard for their Master the pope, in this country, are full blooded Jesuits. The man of sin who is the head of the mystery of iniquity —through the advice of the popish bishops now in this country, has selected the Jesuitical order of priests, to carry on his great and gigantic operations in the United States of America. Those Jesuits who distinguish themselves the most in the destruction of Protestant Bible religion, and who gain the largest number of protestant scholars for popish schools and seminaries; who win most American converts to their sect are offered great rewards in the shape of high offices in the church. John Hughes, the Jesuit Bishop of the New York Romanists, was rewarded by Pope Pius 9th, with an Archbishop's mitre, for his great, zeal and success, in removing God's Holy Bible from thirty-eight public schools in New York, and for procuring a papal school committee, to examine every book in the hands of American children in the public schools, that every passage of truth, in those books of history unpalatable to the pope might be blotted out." Has America then nothing to do with Romanism?
But another gentleman exclaims, "What if Romanism be on the increase in the United States! Is not their religion as dear to them, as ours is to us?" To this the Rev. M. J. Gonsalves would reply as follows. "The American people have been deceived, in believing THAT POPERY WAS A RELIGION, not a very good one to be sure, but some kind of one. This has been their great mistake. We might as well call the Archbishop of the fallen angels, and his crew, a religious body of intelligent beings, because they believe in an Almighty God, and tremble, as to call the man of sin and his Jesuits, a body of religious saints. The tree is known by its fruit, such as 'love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, temperance, brotherly kindness;' and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, Christian liberty, giving to God and man their due unasked. Now we ask, what kind of fruit does the tree of Popery bear, in any country, that it should claim homage, and respect, as a good religion?"
Such is the language of one who knew so well what popery was, that he fled from it as from a hell upon earth.
In his further remarks upon the horrors of convent life in the United States, he fully confirms the statements in the foregoing narrative. He says, "It is time that American gentlemen, who are so much occupied in business, should think of the dangers of the confessional, and the miseries endured by innocent, duped, American, imprisoned females in this free country; and remember that these American ladies who have been duped and enticed by Jesuitical intrigue and craft, into their female convents, have no means of deliverance; they cannot write a letter to a friend without the consent and inspection of the Mother Abbess, who is always and invariably a female tyrant, a creature in the pay of the Bishop, and dependent upon the Bishop for her despotic office of power. The poor, unfortunate, imprisoned American female has no means of redress in her power. She cannot communicate her story of wrong and suffering to any living being beyond the walls of her prison. She may have a father, a mother, a dear brother, or a sister, who, if they knew one-sixteenth part of her wrongs and sufferings, would fly at once to see her and sympathize with her in her anguish. But the Jesuit confessor attached to the prison is ever on the alert. Those ladies who appear the most unhappy, and unreconciled to their prison, are compelled to attend the confessional every day; and thus the artful Jesuit, by a thousand cross questions, is made to understand perfectly the state of their minds. The Lady Porter, or door-keeper and jailor, is always a creature of the priest's, and a great favorite with the Mother Abbess. Should any friends call to see an unhappy nun who is utterly unreconciled to her fate, the Lady Porter is instructed to inform those relatives that the dear nun they want to see so much, is so perfectly happy, and given up to heavenly meditations, that she cannot be persuaded to see an earthly relative. At the same time the Mother Abbess dismisses the relatives with a very sorrowful countenance, and regrets very much, in appearance, their disappointment. But the unhappy nun is never informed that her friends or relatives have called to inquire after her welfare. How amazing, that government should allow such prisons in the name of religion!"