When Father Maggio was made provincial, Father Antonio, a Portuguese Jesuit, became court preacher, but so little to his own satisfaction that he repeatedly appealed to the empress and to the General for his release. He bewailed his unfitness for a post requiring so much exceptional virtue, and expressed his desire to be sent to foreign missions. If such were not the will of his superiors, he entreated that he might have some humble office in a house of novices, where he might live unnoticed by the world, and labour for his soul's health.
The General, Father Mercurian, replied, on the 18th March 1576, that he had no one to replace him at court, and that he must perforce remain where he was. Previously to this, Father Antonio had besought the empress to dismiss him, but she had answered that she counted on his ministrations at the hour of death. A month after Father Mercurian's refusal to remove him, he again wrote to the General, begging that he might apply to the empress for, at least, a year's leave of absence, during which time a locum tenens might be dispensed with. Two days later, he followed up this letter with another, giving the General his opinion why it was inexpedient for any member of the Society to remain at court for more than a short term, such as a month or two. There was, he said, no bishop, ambassador, or person of consequence who did not desire to have several of the Fathers about him; the door which, at their profession, they had shut on the world, seemed in a certain sense to be reopened by a residence at court; unfortunately, men were not wanting who aspired to such offices, and great inconveniences ensued thereby. Some grew accustomed to a certain independence, little in accordance with the rules of the Society, some were altogether spoiled, and brought disgrace on the Order. It was, perhaps, not astonishing that after this letter the General showed even less inclination than before to remove Father Antonio. One who thus appreciated the dangers of the world would be less likely than another to fall a prey to them, and was as safe at court as in fulfilling the humblest duties of the noviceship.
But when all was said and done, the influence of the Jesuits at the Court of Vienna was not very great. Their El Dorado was the Archducal Court at Gratz, where reigned Ferdinand's son, Charles II. Here their power was at least supposed to be so great that their enemies declared that they possessed the master-key of all the doors in the palace, and could pass through all the rooms composing the apartments of the Archduchess at will. This, however, with other things, she declared solemnly to be nothing but lies—nur lautere Lugen—and an attack on her honour.*
* Hurter, Ferdinand II, 3, 578.
Apart from these unpleasant calumnies, the Society flourished at Gratz as hardly anywhere else, and was able to train its novices, give the Spiritual Exercises, and administer the sacraments undisturbed. The only difficulties that arose were in connection with the right of the provincial to move his men about as he chose, the archduke, like the emperor, being inclined to regard his confessors as his own property. This was notably the case with the celebrated Father Blyssem, who received marching orders in 1578. The Archduke at once wrote to the General, declaring that Father Blyssem's removal would be extremely inconvenient, and was not to be contemplated. If the General were on the spot he would be of the archduke's opinion. First, Father Blyssem was his and the archduchess's confessor, and they both wished above all things to keep him. Secondly, he was not only a vigilant rector of the college under him, and an experienced confessor, but he was also an excellent preacher. And finally, he was beloved by all, was well acquainted with the idiosyncrasies of the country, enjoyed a good reputation and inspired respect even in the opponents of the Catholic religion. His sudden departure could not therefore but be injurious to the temporal and spiritual welfare of the college, and detrimental to the general good.
Not alone the archduke, the papal legate, Bishop Ringuarda, also appealed to the General of the Jesuits in the same interest, saying that he had already sought the intervention of the Pope and the Cardinal of Como, to prevent the removal of Father Blyssem. As he now heard that, in spite of his efforts, Father Blyssem was to go to Rome, at least for three months, Bishop Ringuarda begged most urgently that this order might be cancelled, the Father's absence for even a week, to say nothing of a month, being likely to entail serious harm to the Church in Austria. His daily presence was so necessary, that if he were not already at Gratz, he must be sent there without delay. The legate then went on to enumerate all the wonderful qualities possessed by the rector, and ended his letter with the solemn entreaty that the General would on no account remove him.*
* Orig. G. Epist., 3, 298.
Pressure such as this being frequently brought to bear on superiors, they could scarcely be said to exercise undivided control over their own subjects.
Driven into a corner, Aquaviva was obliged to leave the archduke's confessor where he was, accommodating matters by making him Provincial of Austria, in place of Father Maggio, Father Emerich Torsler replacing Father Blyssem as rector of the college at Gratz. The archduke expressed himself content with the arrangement, provided that Father Blyssem did not absent himself on the business of the province when he required him at his side.
The new provincial had occasion, in January 1582, to write to the General about the sermons of a certain Father John Reinel, which were, he complained, too lengthy and too violent. In regard to the first fault he had improved somewhat, but no admonition had succeeded in causing him to desist from his biting attacks on the heretics. His Paternity was, therefore, requested to command him to observe more moderation and gentleness, and instead of handling the heretics angrily and roughly, to teach and exhort them with Christian charity. In this manner he would convert a far greater number, as every one maintained. But if he continued as heretofore, Father Blyssem would be obliged to send him to another college, where he would have to adopt a different style or give over preaching altogether, and take up another occupation.
But the removal of Father Reinel was not so simple a matter as it at first appeared. Towards the end of the year, Father Blyssem again wrote to Aquaviva on the same subject. It had been decided during the preceding summer to send the unmanageable preacher to another sphere of activity, he having been already so long a time at Gratz, where he was too much engrossed in the court, which he had recently, against the wishes of his superiors, accompanied in its journey of several months through Bavaria and Suabia, to the neglect of the pulpit at Gratz. Moreover, his harsh and aggressive manner of preaching was as repulsive to the Catholics as to the Lutherans, but when, according to his instructions, he was on the point of starting for Vienna, the archduchess, whose confessions he sometimes heard in Father Blyssem's temporary absence, was so much aggrieved at the change, that she entreated her husband with many arguments and tears to prevent his departure. Accordingly, the archduke begged the provincial to defer Father Reinel's removal on account of his consort's distress, and this he apparently did, but he wrote to the General asking him to insist on the order being carried out, and to persuade the archduke to agree to it.
Sometimes varying reports were sent to the General concerning the behaviour of certain Fathers at court. Thus, the rector of the college at Gratz wrote somewhat severely of Father Saxo, who also was a favourite in the most exalted circle.
But Father Blyssem in a letter to Aquaviva, dated gist December 1585, defended him, saying:—
"Your Paternity appears to be incorrectly informed as to Father Saxo. In my judgment, and in that of other Fathers of consideration, he has very greatly improved in his manner and conduct towards others. When I was at Gratz last year he was in possession of a costly little alarum, which he had received as a present from a nobleman. He was well pleased that the clock should be taken from him, and sold for the benefit of the noviceship. The seal which he used at missions, and which he would willingly have kept afterwards, he gave up at once at the instance of his superior. He had received a great many books as presents in the course of his missions, to assist him in preaching, and these he delivered up for the common use, after very little delay. The Fathers whom I questioned answered that they had noticed nothing in Father Saxo that might give scandal, nor had they ever heard anything of the kind about him."
The complaints against Father Viller were less easily answered. He had filled the office of Austrian Provincial between the years 1589 and 1595, and in the latter year was appointed rector of the college at Gratz. During this time the Archduke Ferdinand chose him as his confessor. Not long afterwards he was accused to the General of being a courtier, an imputation so vague as to need a discursive reply. But his long letter of self justification addressed to Father Aquaviva is interesting on account of the vivid scenes it lays before us. Its main contents are these:—
"Already fifteen or sixteen years ago, when Father Maggio had left the province, certain Fathers in Vienna complained bitterly to the new provincial, Father Blyssem, that I had a courtier-like mind, because people about the court came to me, and I associated with them. I was, it is true, in favour with the imperial council, with the bishops and the Hungarian nobles, also with the apostolic nuntios Delphin and Portia, and I laboured to the extent of my power in the interests of religion. Father Provincial removed me from my office, and I became his secretary and admonitor. Two years later, when a visitor, Father Oliver came, he reinstated me as Master of the alumni, discipline among them having become relaxed. When I had been another two years in this office, I was again accused to the provincial. I was deposed, but in the meantime, the baselessness of the charges brought against me having been proved, I was appointed rector at Olmutz, and Father Provincial assured me with tears that I had been unjustly treated. Five years afterwards I was elected provincial, and the Father Visitor was able to testify that I suffered much, even to the danger of losing my life, in discharging the duties of this office in Bohemia and Hungary. The next provincial (Father Ferdinand Alber) evinced dislike of me immediately on his taking up office, the reason of which was, I believe, merely that we do not share the same opinions. He, like Fathers Bader, Reinel, and Scherer, is for public penitential exercises in the refectory daily; I, on the contrary, am for a milder proceeding, such as I have learned of Fathers Maggio, Everard (Mercurian) Goudan, Canisius, and Lanoy. Therefore, I am called a courtier, even when I am not at court. The whole college will bear witness that I go there less often than Father Reinel, who at least went once a day, whereas I go on an average but once a week.
"If it be objected that I suffer the princes to come frequently to the college, I reply, as I replied to the Father Provincial, that I will undertake they shall come no more, but the responsibility for this must rest with others.
"I am further reproached with having invited the princes to dinner at the vineyard, and also at the college, and that I even played with them at the vineyard. As for the invitation, the princes themselves asked to be invited, and the Apostolic Nuntio, and the Bishop of Laibach, were present at the games, which were, in my judgment, honourable and modest.
"I have begged to be removed from both my offices, in order to remove suspicion, and to obtain peace, for I see that I am not agreeable to my provincial, he having forbidden me to hear the confessions of the archduke and those of the dowager archduchess, who with her daughters insists on confessing to me.
"If any one has told the provincial that the college is in a bad state, ocular demonstration will prove the contrary; everything goes on in an orderly way. The archduke receives Holy Communion every Sunday. He is burning with desire to reinstate the Catholic religion, and he labours for the conversion of the nobility. Only yesterday a man in a very high position was received into the Church. As for your Paternity's exhortation to guard against the spirit of the world, I thank you, but I do not see how I am to do it, unless I flee from the court and from those about it. I will take pains to satisfy my conscience and obedience, but I fear that I shall not content those who look on the dark side. If your Paternity thinks that I seek the favour of princes more for my own sake than that of the Society, it is a bitter reproach, for I would rather die than be guilty of such a fault. The archdukes will bear me out how often I have spoken to them on this subject, and how I have begged them to write nothing on my behalf to the General or to the provincial; but they insist that if I lay down the rectorate I must retain the confessorship."*
* Orig. G. Epist., 35, 479.
In the end, this suggested compromise was effected. Father Viller was no longer rector of Gratz, but remained confessor to the archducal family. Nevertheless, complaints of him did not cease, and he had to defend himself against the charge of clinging inordinately to the worldy advantages of his position. In a confidential letter to the German Resident in Rome he wrote:—
"I call God to witness that I do not value the court and my present office more than any other service which my superiors may call upon me to render to the Society. I am cheerfully ready to leave the court at any moment, and at the risk of losing the prince's favour, whenever my superior expresses a wish that I should do so, to say nothing of receiving a decided order. I have not so high an opinion of my person that I seek consideration on account of the favour and affection of the prince."
Still the attacks on Father Viller did not cease. Those who were for unmitigated austerity looked on his broad views with horror. Father Scherer, one of the most rigid, called him "the synagogue of Libertines." The provincial, and the Spaniard, Father Ximenes, were among those who judged him most severely. He was, moreover, involved—and this is perhaps less to his credit than any supposed laxness with which he was charged—in the squabbles between the Hapsburg and Wittelsbach royal families, concerning the bishopric of Passau. This had for long been an apple of contention between Austria and Bavaria, and the new rector of the college at Gratz, Father Haller, in describing the situation to the General, wrote: "Outsiders on either side naturally throw oil on the flames, and as regards Ours, I doubt whether they do their best to extinguish them, exercising the necessary charity and prudence. Father Viller does the reverse, blaming and condemning everything Bavarian, while he praises and defends the Austrians indiscriminately. Both parties have their adherents, who publish everything from their own point of view. As this one-sided material is all that is laid before Ours, the danger is that the advice given is not in favour of investigation. It is taken for granted that all that comes before their eyes is true, and the other side is condemned unheard. But as it is clear that the Christian cause in Germany would be greatly benefited by a union of the two parties, it would be well worth the trouble, seeing the immense influence which the Society has over the princes and their advisers, for the members of the Order to labour with more zeal than heretofore, to bring about this reconciliation, particularly at Prague, Vienna, Munich, and Gratz." He concludes with the wish that not alone the Society, but the rulers of the Church also, might advance the cause of union.
In a postscript Father Haller returns to his charge against Father Viller, who, he declares, has disregarded the rules of the fifth General Congregation. At Ferrara, for instance, he engaged in a violent controversy with the Bavarian agent, Sper, about the Passau question, as well as that of the bishopric of Salzburg, which the Bavarians were supposed to covet. Besides this, Father Viller, blinded by prejudice, disapproved of the contemplated marriage between the Austrian Archduke and the Princess Maria Anna of Bavaria, "which he would prevent if he could. In short," wrote the provincial, "the good Father has extravagant and dangerous notions, and gives no good example to the college."
In his own defence Father Viller wrote that he was by no means averse from the alliance, that he had himself secretly applied for, and obtained, the necessary dispensation at Rome, and had frequently expressed his earnest desire that the marriage might take place, considering that a union between the two princely houses would conduce to the honour of both, and to the protection and defence of the Catholic religion in Germany.
Only, the health of the bride must be considered no less than her great and remarkable piety, as it was important to provide for the continuation of the line of the august house, into which it was proposed she should enter. He had thought that as marriage was so delicate an affair, foresight was needful, in order that no want of physical health and beauty might in course of time change affection into aversion, such as was to be daily observed in the marriages of so many illustrious persons. This, Father Viller declared, was his whole mind on the subject, and such as he had in all humility expressed it to the prince. With his whole heart he wished both exalted personages the tenderest love, firm union, and continuous happiness. He believed that the Archduke Ferdinand could not form a more suitable alliance with any other family in Europe, but at the same time, no one should quarrel with him, Father Viller, for wishing that the bride might possess sufficient corporal health and beauty to ensure the well-being of their issue, and the continuance of conjugal affection. For this reason he trusted in the great piety and noble character of the duke and duchess that they would not endanger the future of their daughter, and that of her children, as well as the happiness of their prospective son-in-law, by concealing a want of health on the part of their most devout and admirable daughter.*
* The reports as to the condition of the Princess Maria Anna's health appear not to have been without foundation. Hurter mentions her delicacy, and Koch says that she was unhealthy. She died on the 8th March 1616.
But Duke William of Bavaria was deeply offended with the Archduke Ferdinand's confessor, and even after the marriage which took place on the 23rd April 1600, at Gratz, Father Viller having indiscreetly reopened the subject of the bride's want of health, complaints of him reached the General. But, in spite of all this, he did not lose the archduke's favour, retaining his entire confidence to the end.
An incident connected with the jealousy with which the Society guarded its rule of non-interference in politics, is furnished by the same Father Viller, who, in 1599, was appointed to go to Rome on a mission from the Austrian archduke. On this occasion the General, Father Aquaviva, wrote to Father Viller as follows:—
"As at the present time general suspicion is aroused, especially in Venice, by any semblance even of politics, it will be difficult to avoid remarks, when it is seen that your reverence is charged with an embassy from the archduke to the Pope. And as the good prince has deserved so well of the Church and of the Society, and especially as your reverence has resisted so long, excusing yourself in prudent and religious fashion, it appears to me that a via media is possible, and an exception may be made. That is to say, that if the mission has nothing whatever to do with politics, but has merely regard to matters of faith, concerning heretics or the Turks, your reverence is at liberty to undertake it, and may set out as soon as is desired. But if the business is a political one, you must entreat the archduke, appealing to his love for the Society, to send some one more suitable in your place. This will be better for the archduke himself, and will confer a benefit on the Society."*
*Ad. Austr., 1573-1600.
It cannot be denied that during the reigns of the Archdukes Ferdinand, Charles, and Rudolph, the Court of Gratz was a model of purity, uprightness, and activity. As the Jesuits were all-powerful there during the whole of this period, it is obvious that this satisfactory condition must, in a large measure, be attributed to their influence.
The introduction of the Society into Innsbruck was the work of the Emperor Ferdinand, and the first Jesuit to labour in the new field was the Tyrolese, Father Charles Grim. At Innsbruck, in 1561, lived the five so-called queens, daughters of the emperor, who lived a semi-religious life, and who desired to be confessed, directed, and preached to by members of the Society. In 1563 the emperor paid a visit to his daughters, and inspected the new college at Innsbruck. He expressed his satisfaction with it, and presented the community with a garden.
The five "queens," Magdalen, Margaret, Barbara, Helena, Joanna, had a great reputation for piety and charity. A young girl, who had received severe injuries from a fire, was received into their palace and nursed with the most loving care. Certain persons were charged by them to inform them of cases of need as they arose. Father Edmund Hay told the General that three of the "queens" had dedicated themselves to God by a vow, and had resolved to remove as soon as possible from the turmoil and luxury of the court into greater solitude. One of them was especially pious, frequented the sacraments once a month and oftener, and would practise very great austerities if her confessor would allow her. In 1565 people already declared that the court of these archduchesses was like a convent; every sign of pomp and splendour had disappeared, and humility and modesty reigned in their stead.
On the 11th January 1566, Father Dirsius wrote to the General, St. Francis Borgia, in behalf of the "queens" Margaret, Magdalen, and Helena, telling him that their brothers, the emperor, and the Archdukes Ferdinand and Charles, fully concurred in their making the above-mentioned vow. They had wished, he said, to remove to Munich, with their attendants, and to live there in a convent of Poor Clares, apart from the world. But this plan their brothers opposed, and desired them to remain in Austria. The emperor had even offered them deserted convents in Corinthia, but in those parts there were too many heretics to please the princesses. Everyone advised them to remain at Innsbruck, where they already edified the faithful by their virtuous example, and prevented apostasy. They themselves were willing to remain; at least they wished to be in a place where there was a college of the Society, and were thinking of taking the newly-built Franciscan convent, the Italian Franciscans for whom it had been constructed being unlikely to remain on account of the climate and the difficulties they experienced in mastering the German language. In case the archduchesses did not get possession of this convent they had also in view a house in the neighbourhood of Innsbruck. In this event they humbly begged for fathers to direct them spiritually, and to undertake the care of other souls in the place.
In answering this letter St. Francis Borgia said that the Society was ready to help the archduchesses spiritually, if only out of gratitude to their father and brother, but that it was contrary to the Institute for the members of the Society to live for any length of time apart from their colleges or houses, and it would in any case be displeasing to the Fathers themselves to forego the company and edifying example of their religious brethren. It seemed, therefore, advisable that the three princesses should take up their abode where there was a college or house of the Society, and preferably at Innsbruck, where they might inhabit the house built by their father, or some other of the same description, where they might observe the rule of life they had adopted, and keep the vow they had taken before God. The Fathers might hear the confessions of the princesses and preach to them. A proviso was afterwards made that, in the event of the "queens" founding a convent, the Jesuits should no longer be their confessors, as this would be directly contrary to the intention of St. Ignatius, as expressed in the Institute.
The General then sent Father Canisius to Innsbruck to arrange matters, and the holy apostle of Germany formulated the opinion that "Ours should not easily receive permission to direct women, even the most exalted in position, for we have experienced to our detriment and the detriment of this college in particular, that Ours are liable in such matters to suffer in their vocation, and as a consequence to become unbearable."*
* Kroess, p. 177.
The next year (16th August 1567), Father Peter Canisius reiterated his apprehension: "I consider it extremely difficult to keep Fathers to their obedience and religious discipline when they are in any way bound to the court," he said.
Meanwhile, the "queens" had chosen Hall, a little town near Innsbruck, as their residence, and Father Dirsius announced the circumstance to the General in these terms:—
"The Queens have purposed for years to withdraw from the world. Now, with the consent of their brothers, they have decided to reside at Hall, and there with some of their ladies and attendants who wish to imitate them, to lead a religious life in common, but without adopting a habit or the rule of any religious order. They need priests, however, and wish for Fathers of the Society. They beg, therefore, that the church to be built at Hall with all its treasures may be taken over by the Society, for which they also wish to found a novitiate there."
But Father Borgia again objected, foreseeing nearly all the difficulties which arose later on. The Society might not undertake the direction of a community of women, even though these were not leading a thoroughly conventual life. It was not advisable for the Fathers to accept the church offered to them at Hall, because the college they were to establish in that place would have its own church connected with it, which would suffice. Further, it was not convenient that a church, communicating with the house where the archduchesses lived with their suite, should be handed over to them, and lastly, it was not the custom of the Fathers to go daily from their own to another church at a distance, to conduct divine service there. The General concluded his letter with the remark that, as the project of the "queens" was directly opposed to the Institute, nothing further need be said about such a foundation.
In a second letter he instructed Blessed Peter Canisius to impress upon the archduchesses that they should be content with the confessor chosen by the Society as the one best suited to them. Canisius was then to name Father Lanoy, whom the General was sending to Innsbruck from Vienna, the empress having been very well contented with him. If they demurred, it was to be represented to them that it was not becoming for "Ours" to frequent palaces much. The less frequently they were seen there the better, and the less people testified their affection for them by sending them food and clothes, the better would they be enabled to live a community life, and observe the Institute. The better also would they be able to render spiritual service.
Father Borgia communicated this instruction to the rector of Innsbruck College also, and added that he feared the Fathers were too much spoiled by presents from the "queens," who were in the habit of sending meals daily from their palace to them. In answer to the rector's question as to what was to be done with the food thus sent, the General replied that it was to be given to the sick, or to those in need. It was to be desired that the "queens" might be persuaded to send no more things of the sort. If they wished to bestow an alms on the college, they should do so in a more useful way. On no consideration should their confessor be allowed to take his meals in his own room; sickness being the only exception to this rule.
It was some time before the princesses could be induced to give up sending delicacies to their confessors, two lackeys being daily told off to carry the various dishes from the palace to the college. At last, however, the unwelcome favours were stopped by the rector declaring that the dinners thus sent did not reach the destination intended, but were distributed to the sick members of the community and others, the "queens" confessors partaking of the ordinary fare.
Nevertheless, the archduchesses gained their point as regarded the other matter, for in the end, the General gave an unwilling consent to their choosing their own confessors, but he told Canisius that this arrangement only held good during the lifetime of the "queens," and was to form no precedent. After their death the Society would not continue to direct the community of ladies which they had founded, such work not being in accordance with the rules of the Institute, which, in this particular as in others, had been approved by the Holy See.
In order to secure the Jesuits permanently as their directors, the pious archduchesses determined to found a novitiate at Hall, and to offer it to the General of the Society. St. Francis Borgia accepted the offer, but on condition that no responsibility was to accrue to the Society respecting the future of the community, and he wished it to be impressed on the princesses how much he had condescended in allowing their confessors to associate with their court, such frequent intercourse with seculars, especially with ladies, being undesirable for religious, and giving occasion to idle and frivolous remarks.
In the meanwhile, the Archduchess Magdalen had given notice that the whole machinery of her court would be broken up in six months. Those of her ladies, ladies' maids, and attendants who desired to do so might follow her and her two sisters into their spiritual solitude at Hall, no longer as servants, but as companions in the service of God. Accordingly, by the end of October 1569, all was in readiness, and the three princesses, accompanied by six of their suite who had resolved to share their penance, removed to Hall, where they themselves performed nearly the whole of the housework, two servants only being engaged for the roughest portion of the labour. Hereupon, a storm of abuse broke over the heads of the Innsbruck Jesuits, who had, of course, originated the whole affair, seeking their own advantage. It was they who had persuaded Magdalen to found a novitiate, and it was their fault that the "queens" washed the clothes, plates, and dishes of the new community with their own imperial hands, cooking also the meals of which they partook. Rumours were afloat to the effect that the emperor and the archdukes were furious.* All this was, however, but the malicious invention of enemies, and the facts communicated to the General by the Fathers at Innsbruck reveal nothing but satisfaction on all sides. The archduke concurred in all that was done, and the princesses were brought to acquiesce in the arrangement by which the Fathers were to live at some distance from their house, and the Jesuits rejoiced, inasmuch as they were left free to use the building handed over to them as a school or a novitiate, or to put it to any use they thought fit. Father Hoffaus wrote that the archduke had accorded him a long and very gracious audience, and had assured him of his affection and esteem for the Society. On the 5th December, High Mass had been sung in their church at Innsbruck, and on the preceding day he had announced a plenary Indulgence to all who should assist at it, on account of the departure of the "queens." The archduke, the "queens," and the whole of the nobility had been present. The archduke had shown himself extremely gracious and kind, and had paid a visit to Father George Scharich, who was sick, and had sent him costly waters. By his kindness he had consoled the whole community. The same day he had conducted the "queens," his sisters, solemnly to their retreat at Hall, and on the next had left for Prague, upon which Father Hoffaus had taken possession of the new college.
* Orig. G. Epist., 9, 133.
On the 31st January 1570, the same Father wrote from Innsbruck:—
"The college at Hall is going on quietly. The queen scarcely worries us at all; she has not yet entered our house since we went there, and she seldom sends for us. In short, she leaves us in peace, and if this continues, no one can complain of her, except that she generally detains her confessor for nearly two hours after Mass. But this can be borne, as there is no danger, and as I have often called her attention to it and have blamed her for it, she is now rather more considerate."
The following extracts from "Queen" Magdalen's statutebook for her community show somewhat amusingly that the continual exhortations of the superiors of the Society had made some impression:—
"Jesuits are to be chosen as confessors. Out of confession none must speak with her confessor without the permission of her superioress, who shall not give leave unless there be sufficient reason for it. For although one may have a scruple or a temptation, this can be deferred to the next confession. An exception must be made for the superioress herself, for it is needful that she speak often with him, but not always necessary for her to take him up to the house; sometimes she can confer with him in the lodge or in the lower corridor. They must not make acquaintance with any other of the Fathers, or invite them to the house, neither must they send food to any sick Father, except in cases of great need, and only for a short time, say for a week, but not longer. Neither must they give them money daily to buy milk, butter, and such like things, but now and again, if necessary, they may give them the wherewithal to procure cheese and lard."
Notwithstanding these regulations, none must suppose that the archduchess is devoid of confidence or regard for the Fathers or for priests in general. All her life she has "loved them in God, and will continue to do so to the end; but there are many things good in themselves, and agreeable to God, which must nevertheless be avoided for the sake of a better thing still." If her spiritual daughters are careful to avoid exaggeration, and observe her precepts faithfully, they will find the Society better disposed towards them, will help them to save their souls, and will be less likely to change their confessors.
But in spite of her naivete, and of the excellent advice she gave to others, there were, for several years, innumerable difficulties with regard to the Archduchess Magdalen's confessor, Father Hezcovaus. He was infirm in health, and needed much waiting upon, day and night. Moreover, he observed the rule as little as possible, and his august penitent unwisely took his part against his superior far more than was desirable. It was at last decided that he should be dispensed altogether from keeping the rule, that he need only obey the General, and his confessor, and that he might receive from the Archduchess Magdalen all that he needed for his support. But even this was not enough, and sometimes it was debated whether Father Hezcovaus should still be included in the list of those belonging to the college.
On the 12th October 1584, the provincial, Father Bader, ordered that the servants of this Father should not come and go, and run in and out, as he and they pleased. If he required anything in the night, the other Fathers should be ready to assist him charitably and patiently.
But there were still other difficulties at Hall, in connection with the quasi-religious community, such as St. Francis Borgia had predicted, and these rose to such a pitch, that in 1596, Father Hoffaus expressed his opinion to the General, that it would be better to give up their college there, and so once for all get rid of the burden imposed on the Society by "Queen Magdalen."
The whole trend of this correspondence shows the tremendous obstacles which the Jesuits encountered, not merely at Innsbruck but throughout Austria and Bavaria, in their efforts to abstain from all that was alien to their vocation. It is curious in these days to note how much the old Society suffered from a superabundance of favour on the part of princes. And far from being stereotyped reproductions of one unvarying pattern or spiritual automata turned out of one mould, the Jesuits, as represented in their own private correspondence, which was never intended for the public eye, reveal a considerable amount of individuality. The interpretation of the rule was elastic enough to give scope to much diversity of opinion, and if superiors were jealous guardians of the Institute, they encountered sufficient idiosyncrasy among their subjects to prevent any rigidity in applying it.
It seems more than likely that if Lacordaire had had his wish, and had been able to dedicate ten years of his life to the study of the Jesuit character, he would have found on the whole that he had, after all, set himself the very ordinary task of watching a perpetual conflict between a high ideal and that frailty which is inseparable from human nature.
VI. GIORDANO BRUNO IN ENGLAND
The revolt from Scholasticism in the sixteenth century, led by Erasmus of Rotterdam, John Colet, and other apostles of the new learning, reached farther, and was productive of other results than these had intended or anticipated.
Erasmus was called an infidel by the friars, but he always stoutly protested his adherence to the Church of which the Pope was the head; and Colet has been considered by many as a herald of the Reformation, although he died a Catholic. Erasmus, by his own showing, was no infidel, and there are sufficient indications that Colet, even had his life been prolonged, would never have gone over to the enemy; but both had given cause for apprehension by opening doors to a profound dissatisfaction, to novel theories and extravagant systems, which many friends of Erasmus carried on to a denial of all revealed religion.
In throwing discredit on the schoolmen, Erasmus had prepared the way for a contempt of Aristotle himself, and when the ex-friar Giordano Bruno of Nola appeared as a leader of revolt, distinct from Luther and Calvin, he found in Italy and France a small band of intellectual revolutionists clamouring for a philosophy that should emancipate them from the thraldrom of Christianity, and yet save them from the dishonourable name of atheists.
They wished to be called deists; not because they favoured any particular form or system of religion, but as a sign that they acknowledged, in some vague and undefined sense, a Supreme Being, and were content to follow the light and law of nature, rejecting revelation, and placing themselves in opposition to Christianity.
Bruno gave them a philosophical system that was neither platonic nor peripatetic, nor was it mystic, but a confused jumble of all three systems, and, according to Bayle, "the most monstrous that could be devised, and directly opposed to all the most evident ideas of our intelligence." He goes on to say that Bruno, in his war against Aristotle, invented doctrines a thousand times more obscure than the most incomprehensible things written by the disciples of Aquinas or Scotus.*
* Bayle, Dictionnaire, Historique et Critique, article "Bruno," vol. i. Doc. XII.
The new philosopher was accused among other heresies of teaching that there is no such thing as punishment for sin; that the soul of man is a product of nature differing in no sense from the soul of a brute, and that God is not its author. In his deposition at his trial, Bruno begged the question of the immortality of the soul in these words: "I have held and do hold that souls are immortal, and that they are subsisting substances (that is the intellectual souls), and that speaking in a Catholic manner, they do not pass from one body to another, but they go either to Paradise, to Purgatory, or to Hell. Nevertheless, in philosophy I have reasoned that the soul subsisting without the body, and non-existent in the body, may in the same way that it is in one body be in another; the which, if it be not true, at least appears to be the opinion of Pythagoras."*
* Bayle, Dictionnaire, Historique et Critique, article "Bruno," vol. i. Doc. XII.
His disciples aver that, although Bruno did not enforce the doctrine of metempsychosis, he held it to be very well worthy of consideration. There is perhaps a distinction without a difference between the terms "immortality of the soul," and the "indestructibility of the monad," an expression dear to Bruno's followers, and frequently to be met with in his writings; but we are accustomed to associate the latter term with the worship of nature according to the pantheistic gospel which recognises a soul in every leaf that stirs; and (this brings us to the very essence of Bruno's philosophy, in so far as it is possible to arrive at any definite conclusion, amid the obscure maze of words with which he surrounded his ideas.
None of his disciples repudiate for him the title of pantheist, but Mrs. Besant,* an ardent defender of the Nolan philosopher, went a step further, and declared pantheism itself to be "veiled atheism." Moreover, she says, "So thoroughly does pantheism strike at the root of all idea of God, as taught by theists, that we can scarce think that Bruno was unfairly judged when called atheist by his contemporaries; the conception of the pantheist cannot be called a God in the commonly accepted sense of that term."
* In her Giordano Bruno, p. 5. London, 1877.
Having arrived thus far, the panegyrist breaks out into eulogy of "the grandest hero of free-thought," and claims for Bruno the proud distinction of materialist.
Others of his admirers, and notably his English biographer, Frith, declare that the aim of the Nolan philosophy is to overcome the fear of death, and to fill the soul with noble aspirations, while they maintain that its author forestalled Darwin and Herbert Spencer in their theory of evolution. "Nobody is to-day the same as yesterday. All things, even the smallest, have their share in the universal intelligence, or universal thinking power. For without a certain degree of sense or cognition, the drop of water could not assume the spherical shape which is essential to the preservation of its forces. All things participate in the universal intelligence, and hence come attraction and repulsion, love and hate. Nature shows forth each species before it enters into life. Thus each species is the starting-point for the next." These are some of the ideas, the conception of which is supposed to shadow forth Bruno's anticipation of modern thought.
Landseck, his principal German biographer, makes him the link between antiquity and the celebrated thinkers of the nineteenth century. He considers the doctrine of the indestructibility of the monad to be that belief in the immortality of the soul which was professed by the Druids, the Egyptians, the Brahmins, and the Buddhists, the belief of Pythagoras and Plato, of Plotinus, of Lessing, and of Goethe, in unison with the evolution of Darwin and Haeckel.*
* Landseck, Bruno der Martyrer der neuen Weltanschauung, p. 37.
It is not our purpose to consider here all Bruno's articles of faith or unfaith, but rather to show the general tendency of his teaching, in order to trace its effect upon his contemporaries in England. His philosophy, itself a travesty of various systems, was in its turn caricatured and vulgarised in a manner which would, perhaps, had he lived to see it, have gone far to persuade him of the risk to popular order and morality which he incurred, in taking from people their belief in a personal God, and fear of the consequences of sin.
Some years ago a statue was raised to his honour on the Campo dei Fiori in Rome, on the alleged spot of his execution, as a vindication of those principles for which he chose to die. In his own day they were held to be dangerous to the State, and subversive of public morality, and he was forced to fly before the opposition they aroused from almost every place in which he attempted to propagate them. The enmity of the Calvinists drove him from Geneva; at Toulouse the Huguenots made his life unbearable; the Oxford of Elizabeth, as intolerant as Rome, proved no agreeable sojourn, but he left traces of his passage through England, which Elizabeth, however much she favoured him at the time of his visit, was afterwards at great pains to efface.
The period of his stay in this country extended over two years, from 1583 to 1585, and although in general he met with little encouragement from the learned, he succeeded in making some proselytes. In London, he lodged at the house of the French ambassador, and went frequently to court, where he maintained his footing by pretending to be smitten by the mature charms of the queen. Among his English friends were Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Fulke Greville, Dyer, Spenser, and Temple, and it has even been asserted that his system to a certain degree influenced Bacon, and may be traced in the Novum Organon.* This is, however, an erroneous view, for Bacon's term "form" means no more than law, for the form of a substance is its very essence, whereas with Bruno, form and matter are expressions which stand for forces.** According to St. Thomas Aquinas, who followed Aristotle, form is the DETERMINING PRINCIPLE in the constitution of bodies.
* Book ii., Aphors. 1, 4, 13, 15, 17.
** Frith, Life of Giordano Bruno, p. 107. London, 1887.
Sidney's biographer,* while jealous lest any taint of error should be supposed to infect his hero, nevertheless admits unwillingly that Giordano Bruno, Sir Fulke Greville, and Sir Philip Sidney, were wont to discuss philosophical and metaphysical subjects "of a nice and delicate nature with closed doors."
* Zouch, Memoirs of Sir Philip Sidney, p, 337, note.
Dr. Joseph Warton, editor of Pope's works, says that, among many things related of the life of Sir Philip Sidney, it does not seem to be much known that he was the intimate friend and patron of the famous atheist, Giordano Bruno, who was in a secret club with him and Sir Fulke Greville in 1587. The date is incorrect, but the intimacy is confirmed by Bruno's dedication to the English poet of two of his works, the one being entitled Spaccio de la Bestia Trionfaute, a book which is admittedly blasphemous and obscene, where it is not so obscure as to be unintelligible, the other the no less notorious Heroici Furori.
Soon after Bruno's departure from England, the result of his teaching began to appear in many places throughout the country. Elizabeth's Council became alarmed. State indifferentism to religion was as yet unknown, and the new sectarianism appealing strongly to the ignorant and the profane, politicians were not slow to take cognisance that questions of the highest moment were being introduced into tavern brawls and gutter oratory. Others besides Catholics began to absent themselves from the new English Church service and sermons; and fragments of conversation that savoured of "atheism" were frequently reported to the local magistrates. An investigation into the causes and authors of the disturbances was set on foot, and it was felt that a scapegoat was needed to create a wholesome fear of the long arm of the law in the minds of would-be atheists among the people.*
* Bruno's latest biographer, Mr. L. McIntyre (Giordano Bruno, London, 1903), entirely ignores the effect of his hero's teaching in England.
Sir Philip Sidney was too much the world's darling, too elegant a figure in the Elizabethan pageant, too ethereal a poet, to be burdened with the brunt of so serious an accusation, and he was passed by for one who, with all his brilliant gifts and attainments, had ever been the child of misfortune.
Perhaps no one ever excited more jealousy and ill-will among his contemporaries than Sir Walter Raleigh. His life at court alternated between magnificent success and the most crushing defeat. He was successively the friend, the rival, the enemy of Essex, and when that favourite's star was in the ascendant, his waned, until a change in the queen's fickle fancy made him again, for a short period, an object of admiration and envy. A soldier of fortune, a planter of colonies, an admiral, a courtier, a statesman, a wit, a scholar, a chemist, an agriculturist, he was eminent as each of these, and his exploits in Guiana read like some fantastic tale of fictitious adventure. His History of the World, although but a fragment of what he intended it to be, is nevertheless a monument of prodigious learning, sobriety, and patience.
Edwards, in his Life of Sir Walter Raleigh, says that in his graver hours he had strong theological convictions which agreed in many points with those of the leading Puritans. Such was probably in all sincerity his frame of mind towards the end of his strange career; but up to the time of his trial in 1603, he seems to have been active in disseminating the doctrines which had become popular since the baneful sojourn of Bruno in this country. Raleigh's biographer admits that his attempt on his own life in the Tower, subsequent to his trial, is in favour of the unhappy prisoner's atheism at that time.*
* "Sir Walter Raleigh is said to have declared that his design to kill himself arose from no feeling of fear, but was formed in order that his fate might not serve as a triumph to his enemies whose power to put him to death, despite his innocency, he well knows" (The Count of Beaumont to Henry IV., 13th August 1603, Copy in Hardwick MS., p. 18).
The first apparently to accuse Raleigh of atheism in a formal manner was the Jesuit provincial, Robert Parsons, who, in a book published in 1592 and now very rare, mentions "Sir Walter Raleigh's school of atheism . . . and of the diligence used to get young gentlemen to this school, wherein both Moses and our Saviour, the Old and New Testament, are jested at, and the scholars taught among other things to spell God backwards.* Cayley treats this accusation as a calumny,** and Birch describes its author as the "virulent but learned and ingenious Father Parsons";*** but Osborn, in the preface to his Miscellany of Sundry Essays, Paradoxes, etc., in speaking of Raleigh, says that Queen Elizabeth "chid him who was ever after branded with the title of an atheist, though a known asserter of God and Providence."
* An advertisement concerning the Responsio ad Elizabethae edictum, 1592.
** Life of Sir Walter Raleigh, i. 140.
*** Life of Sir Walter Raleigh, i. 140.
The year after the appearance of Father Parsons' little book, steps were taken for proving the truth of the reports which had now become common, and it is remarkable that none of Sir Walter Raleigh's biographers seem to have been aware of an elaborate interrogatory that was drawn up and administered for the purpose of eliciting from sworn witnesses evidence concerning his religious opinions, and those of his family, dependents, and friends. The original seems to have disappeared, but a contemporary copy of this document is to be found among the Harleian papers in the British Museum, together with the evidence obtained by means of the interrogatory. As it is extremely pertinent to the subject in question, and has hitherto escaped notice, the nine questions administered with a selection of the most interesting depositions of the witnesses are here given in detail. For a complete account of the examinations the reader is referred to the manuscript.*
* Harl. 6849, f. 183.
Interrogatory to be ministered unto such as are to be examined in her Majesty's name, by virtue of her Highness's commission for causes ecclesiastical.
1. Imprimis. Whom do you know or have heard to be suspected of atheism or apostasy? And in what manner do you know or have heard the same? And what other notice can you give thereof?
2. Whom do you know or have heard that have argued or spoken against, or as doubting the Being of any God, or what or where God is, or to swear by God, adding if there be a God or such like; and when and where was the same? And what other notice can you give of any such offender?
3. Whom do you know or have heard that hath spoken against God, His Providence over the world? or of the world's beginning or ending? or of predestination, or of Heaven or of Hell, or of the Resurrection, in doubtful or contentious manner? When and where was the same? and what other notice can you give of any such offender?
4. Whom do you know or have heard that hath spoken against the truth of God His holy Word, revealed to us in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, or of some places thereof? or have said those Scriptures are not to be believed and defended by her Majesty for doctrine, and faith, and salvation, but only of policy or civil government, and when and where was the same? And what other notice can you give of any such offender?
5. Whom do you know or have heard hath blasphemously cursed God; as in saying one time (as it rained when he was ahawking), "if there be a God, a pox on that God which sendeth such weather to mar our sport," or such like? or do you know or have heard of any that hath broken forth into any other words of blasphemy, and where was the same?
6. Whom do you know or have heard to have said that when he was dead, his soul should be hanged on the top of a pole and "run God, run Devil, and fetch it that would have it," or to like effect, or that hath otherwise spoken against the being or immortality of the soul of men, or that a man's soul should die and become like the soul of a beast, or such like, and when and where was the same?
7. Whom do you know or have heard hath counselled, procured, aided, comforted, or conferred with any such offender? When, where, and in what manner was the same?
8. Do you know or have heard of any of those offenders to affirm all such that were not of their opinions touching the premises, to be schismatics and in error. And whom do you know hath so affirmed? And when and where was it spoken?
9. What can you say more of any of the premises, or whom have you known or heard can give any notice of the same? And speak all your knowledge therein.
Hereupon follows the report of the Royal Commissioners on the depositions of witnesses examined by them with the above formulary:—
"Examinations taken at Cearne, co. Dorset, 21 March, 36 Eliz., before us, Tho. Lord Howard, Viscount Howard of Bindon, Sir Ralph Horsey, knt., Francis James, Chancellor, John Williams, and Francis Hawley, esquires, by virtue of a commission to us and others, directed from some of her Majesty's High Commissioners in causes ecclesiastical."*
* On the last page is written: "These examinations are the trew copies taken at Cearne, 21 March 1593."
From the two first witnesses examined, John Hancock, parson of South Parrot, and Richard Bagage, churchwarden of Lo, no information was obtained. The third witness, John Jesopp, minister, of Gillingham, "said nothing of his own knowledge, but had heard that one Herryott, of Sir Walter Rawleigh his house, had brought the Godhead in question, and the whole course of the Scriptures, but of whom he so heard it he did not remember. (Thomas Harriot was an acknowledged deist, and Raleigh had taken him into his house to study mathematics with him.] He heard his brother, Dr. Jesopp, say that Mr. Carew Rawleigh, reasoning with Mr. Parry and Mr. Archdeacon about the Godhead [as he conjectureth], his said brother, thinking that Mr. Archdeacon and Mr. Parry would take offence at that argument, desired the Lord Bishop of Worcester [then being there] that he might argue with the said Mr. Rawleigh, for, said he, your Lordship shall hear him argue as like a pagan as ever you heard any. But the matter was so shut up, as this examinate heard his brother say, and proceeded not to argument, and further he saith that he hath heard one Allen, now of Portland Castle, suspected of atheism, but of whom he heard it he remembereth not."
William Hussey, churchwarden of Gillingham, corroborated the report of Sir Walter Raleigh's suspected atheism.
John Davis, curate of Motcomb, "to the first interrogatory saith that he knoweth of no such person directly, but he hath heard Sir Walter Raleigh, by general report, hath had some reasoning against the deity of God and His omnipotence; and hath heard the like of Mr. Carew Raleigh, but not so directly. Also he saith he heard the like report of one, Mr. Thinn, of Wiltshire, which he heard from a barber in Warminster, dwelling in a by-lane there, who told this deponent he did marvel that a gentleman of his condition should deliver words to so mean a man as himself, tending to this sense, as though God's Providence did not reach over all creatures, or to like effect.
"To the second, third, fourth, and fifth interrogatory he saith he hath heard that Sir Walter Raleigh hath argued with one Mr. Ironside, at Sir George Trenchard's, touching the being or immortality of the soul, or such like; but the certainty thereof he cannot say further, saving asking the same of Mr. Ironside upon the report aforesaid; he hath answered that the matter was not as the voice of the country reported thereof, or to the like effect."
The next witness, Nicholas Jefferies, declared that he did not know personally any atheist in the county of Dorset, but testified to the report of many "that Sir Walter Raleigh and his retinue are generally suspected of atheism," and he quoted the above-mentioned Allen, Lieutenant of Portland Castle, as "a great blasphemer and light esteemer of religion, and thereabout cometh not to divine service or sermons." He also mentioned the circumstance that "Herryott, attendant on Sir Walter Raleigh, hath been convened before the Lords of the Council for denying the resurrection of the body."
This witness also gave a circumstantial account of the conversation between Sir Walter, his brother Carew, and Mr. Ironside at Sir George Trenchard's table, but as Mr. Ironside was himself subsequently sworn and examined, it is better to quote his own words. It is significant of the credibility of these witnesses, that the evidence of Jefferies, although he merely reported what Mr. Ironside had told him of the conversation, and could not remember all that had been said, tallies completely with the evidence of the other witnesses.
Ironside's examination comes last in the manuscript, but it is more convenient to insert it here:—
"Ralph Ironside, minister of Winterbor, sworn and examined. To the first interrogatory, he saith that for his own knowledge he will answer, but for that he hath heard and knoweth no author to justify the same, he is persuaded by counsel that he is in danger to be punished, and therefore refuseth to say anything upon uncertain report, unless he could bring in his author in particular.
"The relation of the disputation had at Sir George Trenchard's table, between Sir Walter Raleigh, Mr. Carew Raleigh, and Mr. Ironside, hereafter followeth, written by himself and delivered to the commissioners upon his oath.
"Wednesday, sevennight before the Assizes, summer last, I came to Sir George Trenchard's in the afternoon, accompanied with a fellow-minister and friend of mine, Mr. Whittle, vicar of Forthington. There were then with the knight Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Ralph Horsey, Mr. Carew Raleigh, Mr. John Fitzjames, etc. Towards the end of supper, some loose speeches of Mr. Carew Raleigh's being gently reproved by Sir Ralph Horsey with the words Colloquia prava corrumpunt bonos mores, Mr. Raleigh demanded of me what danger he might incur by such speeches, whereunto I answered—'The wages of sin is death'—and he, making light of death as being common to all, sinner and righteous, I inferred further that as that life which is the gift of God through Jesus Christ is life eternal, so that death which is properly the wages of sin is death eternal both of the body and of the soul also.
"'Soul,' quoth Mr. Carew Raleigh, 'what is that?' Better it were, said I, that we would be careful how the soul might be saved, than to be curious in finding out the essence.
"And so, keeping silence, Sir Walter requested me that for their instruction, I would answer to the question that before by his brother was proposed unto me. 'I have been,' saith he, 'a scholar sometime in Oxford; I gave answer under a bachelor of arts, and had talk with divers; yet hitherunto in this point (to wit, what the reasonable soul of man is) have I not by any been resolved. They tell me it is primus motor, the first mover in a man, etc.' Unto this, after I had replied that howsoever the soul were fons et principium, the fountain, beginning and cause of motion in us, yet the first mover was the brain or heart, I was again urged to show my opinion, and hearing Sir Walter Raleigh tell of his dispute and scholarship some time in Oxford, I cited the general definition of Anima out of Aristotle (De Anima, cap. 2), and thence a subjecto proprio, deduced the special definition of the soul reasonable, that it was Actus Primus corporis organici agentis humanam vitam.
"It was misliked of Sir Walter as obscure and intricate. And I withal, that though it could not unto him, as being learned, yet it might seem obscure to the most present, and therefore had rather say with divines plainly, that the reasonable soul is a spiritual and immortal substance, breathed into man by God, whereby he lives and moves and understandeth, and so is distinguished from other creatures. 'Yea, but what is that spiritual and immortal substance breathed into man?' saith Sir Walter. The soul, quoth I. 'Nay then,' said he, 'you answer not like a scholar.' Hereupon I endeavoured to prove that it was scholarlike, nay, in such disputes as this, usual and necessary to run in circulum, partly because definitio rei was primum et immediatum principium, and seeing primo non est Prius, a man must of necessity come backward, and partly because definitio and definitum be naturae reciprocae, the one convertible, answering unto the question made upon the other. As for example, if one asked: 'What is a man?' you will say: 'He is a creature reasonable and mortal'; but if you ask again: 'What is a creature reasonable and mortal?' you must of force come backward and answer: 'It is a man,' et sic de caeteris. 'But we have principles in our mathematics,' saith Sir Walter, 'as totum est majus qua libet sua parte; and ask me of it, and I can show it in the table, in the window, in a man, the whole being bigger than the parts of it.'
"I replied first that he showed quod est, not quid est, that it was, but not what it was; secondly, that such demonstration was against the nature of a man's soul, being a spirit; for as a thing, being sensible, was subject to the sense, so man's soul, being insensible, was to be discerned by the spirit. Nothing more certain in the world than that there is a God, yet being a spirit, to subject him to the sense otherwise than perfectum. It is impossible.
"'Marry!' quoth Sir Walter, 'these two be like, for neither could I learn hitherto what God is.'
"Mr. Fitzjames answering that Aristotle should say he was Ens Entium, I answered, that whether Aristotle, dying in a fever, should cry: Ens Entium, miserere mei; or drowning himself in Euripum, should say: Quia ego to non capio, to me capies, it was uncertain, but that God was Ens Entium, a thing of things, having being of Himself, and giving being to all creatures, it was most certain, and confirmed by God Himself unto Moses.
"'Yea, but what is this Ens Entium?' saith Sir Walter.
"I answered it is God, and being disliked as before, Sir Walter wished that grace might be said, 'for that,' quoth he, is better than his disputation.' Thus supper ended and grace said, I departed to Dorchester with my fellowminister, and this is to my remembrance the substance of that speech with Sir Walter Raleigh I had at Wolverton."
Turning to the remaining depositions, we find that Francis Scarlett, minister of Sherborne, sworn and examined, relates how that "a little before Christmas, one Robert Hyde, of Sherborne, shoemaker, seeing this deponent passing by his door, called him, and desired to have some conversation with him, and after some speeches, he entered into these speeches. "Mr. Scarlett, you have preached unto us that there is a God, a Heaven, a Hell, and a resurrection after this life, and that we shall give an account of our works, and that the soul is immortal; but now, saith he, here is a company about this town that say that Hell is no other but poverty and penury in this world, and Heaven is no other but to be rich and enjoy pleasures; and that we die like beasts, and when we are gone there is no more remembrance of us, and such like.
But this examinate did neither then demand who they were, neither did he deliver any particulars unto him, and further saith that it is generally reported in Sherborne, that the said Allen and his men are atheists. And also he saith there is one Lodge, a shoemaker in Sherborne, accounted an atheist."
John Deuch, churchwarden of Weeke Regis: "To the sixth interrogatory this deponent saith that he hath heard one Allen, Lieutenant of Portland Castle, when he was like to die, being persuaded to make himself ready to God for his soul, to answer that he would carry his soul to the top of an hill, and run God, run devil, fetch it that will have it, or to that effect. But, who told this deponent of it, he remembereth not. To the rest of the interrogatory he can say nothing."
What punishment followed on these examinations does not appear. A fine was probably imposed on all those convicted of speaking and propagating atheism; but in spite of the investigations and the discredit thrown on the sect, it did not by any means die out.
Essex was accounted at that time the only nobleman who cared for religion. His manner was to censure all men as "cold professors, neuters, or atheists." In the declaration of W. Masham before the Lord Treasurer Buckhurst, he said that Essex told the people when he incited them to rise, that he acted "for the good of the Queen, city, and crown which certain atheists, meaning Raleigh, had betrayed to the Infante of Spain." At his execution he thanked God that he was never atheist nor papist."*
* Dom. Eliz., February 1601, Vol. 278; R.O.
On the accession of James I. the Catholics presented a petition to parliament, begging to be allowed to practise their religion, at least in secret, and they went on to say that there were "four classes of religionists in England Protestant who domineered all the late reign: Puritans who have crept up amongst them, atheists, who live on brawls; and Catholics."*
* Dom. James I., vol. i., 1603; R.O.
The stigma of atheist clung to Raleigh long after he had ceased to deserve it. In his trial for high treason in 1603, it considerably damaged his cause, and gave another handle to his many enemies. The king's attorney, in addressing him, exclaimed: "O damnable atheist!" and the Lord Chief Justice Coke, in his address to the prisoner after his condemnation, harangued him in these words:—
"Your case being thus, let it not grieve you if I speak a little out of zeal and love to your good. You have been taxed by the world with the defence of the most heathenish and blasphemous opinions, which I list not to repeat, because Christian ears cannot endure to hear them, nor the authors and maintainers of them be suffered to live in any Christian commonwealth. You know what men said of Harpool.* You shall do well before you go out of the world to give satisfaction therein, and not to die with these imputations upon you. Let not any devil persuade you (the Harleian version adds, 'Hariot or any such doctor') to think there is no eternity in Heaven; for if you think thus, you shall find eternity in hell-fire."**
* A mistake probably for Harriot. The name is variously spelt. Edwards, in his Life of Raleigh, corrects it and says, "Either he applied to the illustrious mathematician Thomas Harriot, the epithet 'devil,' or he said that Harriot's opinions were devilish" (p. 436). The judge's words are variously reported, but their purport is always the same. Stebbing, in his monograph Sir Walter Raleigh, says that Harriot was accused by zealots of atheism, because his cosmogony was not orthodox, and that his ill-repute for free-thinking was reflected on Raleigh, who hired him to teach mathematics (probably in what Father Parsons termed his school of atheism) and engaged him in his colonising projects. Harriot was the friend whose society he chiefly craved when he was in the Tower, and is doubtless the "Herryott" of the examinations.
** Dom. James I., vol. 4, f. 83.
Between Raleigh's sentence and its execution fifteen years were allowed to elapse, during which time the prisoner in the Tower occupied himself with the compilation of his famous History of the World, and with chemical experiments. And as if all should be exceptional in the life of this remarkable man, he was allowed an interval during this period in which to flash once more upon the world in another expedition to Guiana, in search of the gold mine which he had declared to be there. After the ill-fated voyage he returned into durance vile, and when at last the time came for the axe which had so long hung over him, to fall, his words showed that at least in adversity he had learned, like the great Arian chieftain Clovis, to burn what he had adored, and to adore what he had burned. His device, Ubi dolor ibi amor is significant of the change that suffering had wrought in him. His last words on the scaffold were these: "I have many sins for which to beseech God's pardon. Of a long time my course was a course of vanity. I have been a seafearing man, a soldier, and a courtier, and in the temptations of the least of these there is enough to overthrow a good mind and a good man." Presently he added, "I die in the faith professed by the Church of England. I hope to be saved and to have my sins washed away by the Precious Blood and merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ."
Then, says his biographer,* he asked to be shown the axe, and kissing the blade, he said: "This gives me no fear. It is a sharp and fair medicine to cure me of all my disease."
* Edwards, Life of Sir Walter Raleigh, i. 704.
After Raleigh's death, the Archbishop of Canterbury, writing to Sir Thomas Roe, ambassador of Great Britain with the Great Mogul, 10th February 1618, said: "Sir Walter Raleigh amongst us did question God's being and omnipotence, which that just judge made good upon himself in overtumbling his estate, but last of all in bringing him to an execution by law, where he died a religious and Christian death, God testifying his power in this, that he raised up of a stone a child unto Abraham."
His doom had been from the first a foregone conclusion. James having been fatally prejudiced against him before that royal pedant ever set foot in England, to which fact the secret correspondence of Sir Robert Cecil with James VI. of Scotland amply testifies.
But curiously enough Sir Walter's brother Carew, although more deeply dyed in atheism, never ceased to be a Persona grata with the government. He was knighted in 1601, on the occasion of the visit to England of the French Marshal de Biron.* He held several honourable and lucrative public offices under James I., and was Lieutenant of the Isle of Portland in 1608. During his brother's long imprisonment in the Tower, Sir Carew Raleigh was living in prosperity at Dounton.**
* Stebbing, Sir Walter Raleigh, p. 157.
* Ibid, p. 248.
Atheists did not as a sect entirely disappear from England after the execution of their scapegoat, but they do not seem to have been further molested for their opinions. The persecution of the Catholics was at its height, and at no time did professed atheism provoke the fierce hatred that Catholicism inspired. For obvious reasons many Catholics at this period were but indifferently instructed in their religion. Some to escape attendance at the English Church service unlawfully feigned infidelity. One man having written a seditious book, called Balaam's Ass, against the king, for which he was condemned to death, was accused at his execution of having professed atheism. He denied being an infidel, expressed contrition for his "saucy meddling in the king's matter," and declared himself a Catholic.*
* Dom. James I., vol. 109, May 1619; R.0.
The Bishop of Exeter reported that "John Lugge, organist, retains none of his popish tendencies, though his religion is as the market goes," and he added that there were very few papists in his diocese, but an infinity of sectaries and atheists.
Many of these latter may have been secret Catholics, either extremely ignorant, or too timid to suffer for their faith. A book published in 1602, entitled The Unmasking of the Politique Atheist is a violent attack upon Catholicism. Another, called A Perfect Cure for Atheists, Papists, Arminians, etc., published in 1649, is of a like nature. It is a far cry from Aristotle to atheism, but no sooner did the votaries of the new learning discard a system of philosophy which, however exaggerated by pedants, was still a guarantee of exact reasoning, than their disciples and followers fell a prey to the vagaries of their own bewildered intellects.
It was the reductio ad absurdum of the reformed religion, when weak-kneed Catholics sheltered themselves from its pains and penalties under the fairly secure roof-tree of atheism.
VII. CHARLES THE FIRST AND THE POPISH PLOT
"A fine rare show arrives from Rome, and it is all a present for the Queen, and the news of it reaches London, and the King is impatient to see it; and the Queen is lying in, and Mr. Panzani brings all the fine things to the Queen's bedchamber; and all the ladies of quality crowd in to see them; and the King with all his nobles hastens to the Queen's palace; and the boxes are opened, and the pieces are viewed one by one; and Mr. Conn comes in (though still without a red hat) to satisfy the Queen's curiosity, and Mr. Conn brings more fine pictures . . . and sees the King, and the Queen of France; and Mr. Panzani takes leave of the Queen of England (for how could he omit it?) and the Queen begs a red hat for Mr. Conn, and Mr. Conn must first do some signal service to the Church; and the King talks about Mr. Conn's red hat; and the Queen gives Mr. Panzani a fine diamond ring; and Mr. Panzani takes leave of all the ministers; and he pays his respects to all the ladies of the court; and the ladies send their compliments to the Pope, and they all beg Mr. Panzani's blessing. It was the end of the year 1636."
This Sevigne-like description was written in 179-, by the Rev. Charles Plowden, in his "Remarks on a Book entitled Memoirs of Gregorio Panzani." Panzani, a priest of the Roman Oratory, had been about two years in England, with a secret mission to report to Cardinal Barberini, nephew of Pope Urban VIII., on the condition of the Catholics, the condition of the court, and on the prospects regarding an ultimate reunion of the Anglican Church with Rome. He was to pave the way for an openly accredited envoy to the queen, was to conciliate the ministers, disarm the Puritans, and to do what he could for the Catholics, who were still smarting severely under the penal laws. Executions, it is true, had become less frequent, but the royal coffers were still replenished with the fines imposed on Catholics for their pertinacity in assembling to hear Mass by stealth. If a priest were caught, he was thrown into prison, tried, and punished with death. In dealing with the Catholic laity, Charles I. was never in favour of enforcing the extreme rigour of the law, but he was so often in want of money that he found it useful to be very severe in the matter of fines.
Panzani's mission to England falls about midway between the domestic storms which had troubled the early days of the royal marriage, and the Revolution which finally cost the most shifty of monarchs his throne and his life. Henrietta Maria had ceased to resent the expulsion of her French favourites, had consented at last to learn English and to tolerate the English people. She had thrown herself heart and soul into her husband's interests, and since the death of Buckingham was in possession of his entire confidence. If, later on, any cloud arose over their mutual relationship, it was the king's half expressed suspicion that she thought little of his powers of governing, and that however much she loved her husband, she did not admire his policy or trust his royal word as implicitly as he could wish. This is evident from one or two affectionate but querulous letters which he wrote to her when he was in the hands of the Parliamentarians.
Of the court, as well as of the private life of the king and queen, Panzani could report but favourably. The Catholics were to-be helped by the queen's influence, and as to reunion with Rome, he thought he had some reason to be sanguine. A letter from Panzani to Cardinal Barberini, of which the following is a translation, is to be found among the Stevenson and Bliss transcripts of Vatican documents in the Record Office. It is dated June 10/25, 1635:
"According to your Eminence's instructions, I have had a long talk with Father Philip (an English Capuchin and the Queen's confessor), regarding the reconciliation of this kingdom with Rome, and the means of bringing it about. He told me that there were unmistakeable signs of a desire for such a reconciliation, not only in the King, but among the clergy and laity as well, and the question is mooted almost daily. It is well, however, to be slow in drawing inferences, because those who are most in favour of a reunion do not venture to manifest their desire, but rather dissemble it under the appearance of a contrary way of thinking, on account of the severity of the law against Catholics. This same fear possesses the King also, he being of a timid nature; hence the great misfortune of not being able to count on his prudence and judgment, seeing how changeable and uncertain he and his advisers are. Moreover, if by ill-luck the present rumours of war oblige the King to arm himself, we may expect some persecution of the Catholics, for money being required, before he can go to war, it will be necessary to assemble Parliament, and the Lower House, composed mainly of Puritans, will grant no supplies unless the King makes some show of cruelty towards Catholics. For the same reason all the bishops and ministers of moderate views, and favourable to a reunion, begin to be harsh and intolerant when the time approaches for the meeting of Parliament, and do nothing but inveigh against the Pope in their sermons, solely from fear of losing their lives or their places. Father Philip says that there is no need to be alarmed at the difficulties we may encounter; but that we should be determined to overcome them, and that after God, the envoys may greatly facilitate the business, if they study with all their might how to make themselves agreeable to the King and the State.
"He who comes here should be all things to all men, in order to win all, and should take everything he can in good part, and find excuses for the King and his officers, if sometimes they do not grant the Catholics all the favours they ask. He should throw the blame on the poursuivants and the informers, and should adroitly petition for redress. He should keep Windebank (Secretary of State), considered by the Puritans to be 'Popishly affected,' and others, well informed of all that passes in Rome, and should manage to keep up communication with the papal legates, in order to have news, and at the same time to make himself agreeable to them, for they like above all things to receive marks of confidence. He must be careful, however, in publishing, the facts he thus learns, to give no offence to any of the crowned heads, nor bring our religion into bad odour.
"The envoy should distribute some gifts, and in fine, use every means to make himself beloved. He ought to be about thirty-five years old, and to have attained a certain solidity rarely met with before that age. He should also be noble and rich, and of a good presence, furnished with all qualities proper to a gentleman; and, above all, his life should be exemplary, without affectation or hypocrisy . . . . On the arrival of such an agent in London, speaking French well, which language is understood by the whole court, he should first of all contrive to please the Queen, who, being young, delights in perfumes and fine clothes, and likes people to be lively and merry. His next object should be to ingratiate himself with the court ladies and others, as much is done here by the influence of women; but he should on no account allow familiarity with the Queen and other ladies to degenerate into lightness or worse, for that would involve the ruin of the whole undertaking. It is customary to say here, 'if a man's life is good, his religion must be a good one'; but the English are shocked at every little thing. The King is extremely modest, and the Queen such, that Father Philip told me her conscience has never lost its baptismal innocence.
"Having gained the good opinion of the Queen and her ladies, the agent may aspire to greater things. The court is very accessible to bribes; it is therefore quite possible to purchase its goodwill; and to this end it will be well to send the Queen jewels of some value, ostensibly as presents to her, but in reality that she may distribute them among those ministers from whom the greatest help may be expected. The envoy should not make very valuable presents himself, but only through the Queen, lest he be suspected of ulterior views, or cause danger to the recipients of them.
"When the ministers have been won over, the Queen, instructed by the envoy how great a reputation she may acquire by the conversion of this kingdom, must try to persuade the King to abolish poursuivants and informers. This he may not be able to effect immediately, being powerless to repeal parliamentary laws, but he may be able to procure that the poursuivants and informers shall do nothing without an express and written order from the Privy Council, and only then in a manner conformable to the instructions of the same. In this way, Catholics would have nothing more to fear, because as soon as the Council resolved to proceed against any individual, the Queen would bring her influence to bear on any one of its members already on her side, and the threatened Catholic would be helped, either to fly or to elude the officials.
"This point gained, an almost tacit liberty of conscience would follow; the Catholics would take courage, and the moderate Protestants would no longer fear to declare themselves openly their protectors. Then would be the time to treat with the King, through the Archbishop of Canterbury, for the concession of religious liberty, as far as possible. This once conceded, Father Philip believes that in less than three years the whole country would become Catholic. Parliament might then safely be assembled to repeal the laws against Catholics, and reunion with the Holy See would soon follow.
"But how to obtain liberty of conscience it is not easy to say at present; neither does it yet concern us, not having arrived so far.
"This is all that Father Philip said, and whatever else he may tell me I will write to your Eminence, having nothing further to add now, except that the envoy should be guided in all things by Father Philip, who has a great reputation for prudence, and is respected by the whole court."
Nevertheless, Father Philip's ingenious structure soon proved to be only a house of cards. He understood the Queen, and was not far wrong in his estimation of Charles, but he was mistaken in thinking the king's party to be in earnest about Catholicism, and was as wide of the mark in grasping the archbishop's bent as any Puritan in the realm.
Laud was in some respects wiser than Buckingham had been; he was content to govern through the King, throwing what power he could into the hands of the prelates. All the great offices of State were filled by churchmen. Far from contemplating any submission to the Pope, he aimed at being a species of independent Pope on his own account. Both he and Juxon, the Lord Treasurer, refused to see Panzani.
Laud's greatest passion was ambition, if anything in a nature so contracted could be said to assume the proportions of a fullblown passion. He had a marvellous capacity for dealing with small things, and all that came under his ken he studied to the minutest detail. He was a believer in dreams, and owned to being greatly troubled by them. "Thursday, I came to London," he once wrote in his diary; "the night following, I dreamed that I was reconciled to the Church of Rome. This troubled me much, and I wondered exceedingly how it should happen. Now was I aggrieved with myself (not only by reason of the errors of that Church, but also) upon account of the scandal which from that my fall would be cast upon many eminent and learned men in the Church of England. Going with this resolution, a certain priest met me, and would have stopped me. But moved with indignation I went on my way. And while I wearied myself with these troublesome thoughts I awoke. Herein I felt such strong impressions that I could scarce believe it to be a dream."
To a becoming gravity the archbishop failed to unite a saving sense of humour. His temper was hasty, but also vindictive, and he never forgot an injury, to which fact the notorious Puritan, William Prynne, was well able to testify. Laud first incurred the enmity of this man and his friends by his attempts to introduce some measure of ceremonial into the churches under him. When he began his reform, the places of public worship were nothing but buildings where discourses and diatribes against Popery were to be heard in luxuriously upholstered seats. "There wants nothing but beds to hear the Word of God on," said Bishop Corbet. The notion of a priesthood had died out of people's minds. They looked upon their clergy as preachers merely—the cure of souls was an obsolete term.
Archbishop Grindal had caused the altars to be destroyed, and the places where they had stood whitewashed, so that no trace of them might remain.* Laud had the communion tables removed from the middle of the churches into the place formerly occupied by the altar, railed in, and distinguished by altar-like adornments. Finally, it became customary to designate them by the ancient name of altar, while the officiating minister resumed the name of priest. The people, now become thoroughly Protestantised, murmured, and thought they saw indications of a return to Rome.** Some protested that all this superabundant care for externals was eating the life out of Protestantism; the bugbear of others was the appeal, now becoming customary, to the Fathers of the Church, rather than to the Protestant divines of the continent.*** St. Augustine was suspect, Calvin they knew to be orthodox.
* Articles to be inquired of in the Archdiocese of York—"Whether in your churches and chapels, all altars be utterly taken down and clean removed even unto the foundation; and the place where they stood paved, and the wall whereunto they joined whited over, and made uniform with the rest, so as no breach or rupture appear." In case any altars remained, the churchwardens were "to remove them and certify."
** Calendar of State Papers, 1635-36; Dom. Charles I.
*** Gardiner, Fall of the Monarchy of Charles.
The sequel proved that a very real source of danger lay among Laud's own familiar friends. The archbishop could not restrain the lengths to which they would go, in following up the track which he himself had laid open. Burning questions were discussed in the pulpits. Thus, Panzani, in a letter to Cardinal Barberini, dated March 13/23, 1636, says:—
"Last Sunday, one of the bishops preached before the King, on the necessity of Sacramental Confession, saying that the Church has never been in a good state wherever it was not practised."
Panzani, continuing, went on to say that reconciliation with Rome was an event anticipated by all, and that many people thought the clergy refrained from marrying, in order that they might still hold their parishes in case of reunion. "This," he adds, "is what I hear, but whether it is true or not, God only knows, who sees the hearts of men."
In the same letter he mentioned another sermon, which had lately been preached before the king and the court "touching confession, and the preacher said that its origin could be traced to the Gospel better than that of any other doctrine; wherefore he exhorted his hearers to practise it. All the court are now talking of this sermon," he continued, "and the King himself at supper afterwards spoke highly of the practise of confession, saying that one ought to mention all the circumstances of a sin. Someone who was present said he could not think it right to take away another person's reputation by naming him, if he were concerned in a sin. The King at once replied that it was not permitted to name accomplices, and turning to Father Philip, who is always present at supper, he asked him if he were not right. Father Philip answered that he was. The Earl of Carlisle, a Puritan, who was also there, assured Father Philip that he agreed with us in everything, except that the Pope had power to depose kings. 'We do not believe that either,' replied Father Philip, 'we only say that the Pope may do it in extraordinary cases, such as heresy for instance.' The Earl of Carlisle replied
'You are not all of the same opinion, because I know that some among you maintain that he has.'
"Here the subject dropped. A lady conversing with Father Philip on the same occasion said that if confession were to be practised, Protestant ministers ought to be like ours. 'Why?' asked Father Philip. 'Because,' answered the lady, 'if they have wives, no one will confess to them for fear of their repeating to their wives, straight off, the sins confided to them.'"
In a former letter, Panzani had written: "A preacher said lately that the Pope was the true Vicar of Christ, successor of St. Peter, and Chief Patriarch, and he proceeded to enlarge on Papal jurisdiction, when a tumult arose among the congregation, and afterwards the preacher was censured."
And again, "On the first day, and also the first Sunday in Lent, the Bishop of London, preaching before the King, took for his subject the preparation for our Lord's Passion, and said that it was not only needful to mortify the spirit, but also the flesh, teaching which is opposed to the doctrine of the greater number of Protestants."
Thus, the Puritans had some ground for murmuring, and it was not altogether unnatural, that they and the Catholics also should imagine that the Church of England had set its face Romewards. The above were not doctrines such as Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, and Hooper would have owned, nor would they recognise the churches in which such language was held.
Greater still would have been the wrath of such men as Prynne, Bastwick, and Burton, had they known that the Bishop of Gloucester had applied to Panzani for permission to have a Catholic priest in his house secretly, to say Mass daily for him; and that he was strongly in favour of re-union.
William Prynne, barrister-at-law by profession, by reputation a vituperative pamphleteer, was always ready to denounce, cavil, and rail. The list of his philippics fills nearly a whole folio volume of the British Museum Library Catalogue. He had what Wharton, more graphically than politely, describes as "the eternal itch of scribbling." The subject of Sabbath-breaking to which he attributed the fresh outbreak of the plague in 1636, was to him as a red rag to a bull. Encouraged by his example a whole mass of literature appeared on the observance of the Sabbath—not the modern Sunday which was decried as an invention of Rome, but of the old Jewish Sabbath, considered by the Puritans to have a far better claim to be observed.
Prynne had no perception of the relative value of things. Sabbath-breaking, predestination, and the supreme wickedness of curls, or love-locks as they were then called, were of equal importance in his mind. Laud's innovations put him into a state of frenzy, and he declared that the Church of England was now "as full of ceremonies" as a dog was "full of fleas."
Giles Widdowes, entering the lists for the archbishop, argued that "men should take off their hats on entering a church, because it was the place of God's presence, the chiefest place of his honour amongst us, where His ambassadors deliver His embassage, where His priests sacrifice their own and the militant Church's prayers, and the Lord's Supper, to reconcile us to God, offended with our daily sins." "Ergo," answered Prynne, "the priests of the Church of England are sacrificing priests, and the Lord's Supper a propitiatory sacrifice, sacrificed by those priests for men's daily sins!"
Widdowes also wrote in defence of the practice of bowing at the name of Jesus; and considering doubtless that men should be fought with their own weapons, took a leaf out of Prynne's book and belaboured soundly "the lawless, kneeless, schismatical Puritan."