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BOOKS FATAL TO THEIR AUTHORS
P. H. DITCHFIELD
TO THE MEMORY OF
JOHN WALTER, ESQ., M.A., J.P.,
OF BEARWOOD, BERKS,
RESPECTFULLY AND AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED.
TO THE BOOK-LOVER.
_To record the woes of authors and to discourse_ de libris fatalibus _seems deliberately to court the displeasure of that fickle mistress who presides over the destinies of writers and their works. Fortune awaits the aspiring scribe with many wiles, and oft treats him sorely. If she enrich any, it is but to make them subject of her sport. If she raise others, it is but to pleasure herself with their ruins. What she adorned but yesterday is to-day her pastime, and if we now permit her to adorn and crown us, we must to-morrow suffer her to crush and tear us to pieces. To-day her sovereign power is limited: she can but let loose a host of angry critics upon us; she can but scoff at us, take away our literary reputation, and turn away the eyes of a public as fickle as herself from our pages. Surely that were hard enough! Can Fortune pluck a more galling dart from her quiver, and dip the point in more envenomed bitterness? Yes, those whose hard lot is here recorded have suffered more terrible wounds than these. They have lost liberty, and even life, on account of their works. The cherished offspring of their brains have, like unnatural children, turned against their parents, causing them to be put to death._
_Fools many of them–nay, it is surprising how many of this illustrious family have peopled the world, and they can boast of many authors’ names which figure on their genealogical tree–men who might have lived happy, contented, and useful lives were it not for their insane _cacoethes scribendi_. And hereby they show their folly. If only they had been content to write plain and ordinary commonplaces which every one believed, and which caused every honest fellow who had a grain of sense in his head to exclaim, “How true that is!” all would have been well. But they must needs write something original, something different from other men’s thoughts; and immediately the censors and critics began to spy out heresy, or laxity of morals, and the fools were dealt with according to their folly. There used to be special houses of correction in those days, mad- houses built upon an approved system, for the special treatment of cases of this kind; mediaeval dungeons, an occasional application of the rack, and other gentle instruments of torture of an inventive age, were wonderfully efficacious in curing a man of his folly. Nor was there any special limit to the time during which the treatment lasted. And in case of a dangerous fit of folly, there were always a few faggots ready, or a sharpened axe, to put a finishing stroke to other and more gentle remedies._
_One species of folly was especially effective in procuring the attention of the critics of the day, and that was satirical writing. They could not tolerate that style–no, not for a moment; and many an author has had his cap and bells, aye, and the lining too, severed from the rest of his motley, simply because he would go and play with Satyrs instead of keeping company with plain and simple folk._
_Far separated from the crowd of fools, save only in their fate, were those who amid the mists of error saw the light of Truth, and strove to tell men of her graces and perfections. The vulgar crowd heeded not the message, and despised the messengers. They could see no difference between the philosopher’s robe and the fool’s motley, the Saint’s glory and Satan’s hoof. But with eager eyes and beating hearts the toilers after Truth worked on._
_”How many with sad faith have sought her? How many with crossed hands have sighed for her? How many with brave hearts fought for her, At life’s dear peril wrought for her,
So loved her that they died for her, Tasting the raptured fleetness
Of her Divine completeness?”_
_In honour of these scholars of an elder age, little understood by their fellows, who caused them to suffer for the sake of the Truth they loved, we doff our caps, whether they jingle or not, as you please; and if thou thinkest, good reader, that ’twere folly to lose a life for such a cause, the bells will match the rest of thy garb. The learning, too, of the censors and critics was often indeed remarkable. They condemned a recondite treatise on Trigonometry, because they imagined it contained heretical opinions concerning the doctrine of the Trinity; and another work which was devoted to the study of Insects was prohibited, because they concluded that it was a secret attack upon the Jesuits. Well might poor Galileo exclaim, “And are these then my judges?” Stossius, who wrote a goodly book with the title “Concordia rationis et fidei,” which was duly honoured by being burnt at Berlin, thus addresses his slaughtered offspring, and speculates on the reason of its condemnation: “Ad librum a ministerio damnatum._
_”Q. Parve liber, quid enim peccasti, dente sinistro. Quod te discerptum turba sacrata velit? R. Invisum dixi verum, propter quod et olim, Vel dominum letho turba sacrata dedit.”_
_But think not, O Book-lover, that I am about to record all the race of fools who have made themselves uncomfortable through their insane love of writing, nor count all the books which have become instruments of accusation against their authors. That library would be a large one which contained all such volumes. I may only write to thee of some of them now, and if thou shouldest require more, some other time I may tell thee of them. Perhaps in a corner of thy book-shelves thou wilt collect a store of Fatal Books, many of which are rare and hard to find. Know, too, that I have derived some of the titles of works herein recorded from a singular and rare work of M. John Christianus Klotz, published in Latin at Leipsic, in the year 1751. To these I have added many others. The Biographical Dictionary of Bayle is a mine from which I have often quarried, and discovered there many rare treasures. Our own learned literary historian, Mr. Isaac Disraeli, has recorded the woes of many of our English writers in his book entitled “The Calamities of Authors” and also in his “Curiosities of Literature.” From these works I have derived some information. There is a work by Menkenius, “Analecta de Calamitate Literatorum”; another by Pierius Valerianus, “De Infelicitate Literatorum”; another by Spizelius, “Infelix Literatus”; and last but not least Peignot’s “Dictionnaire Critique, Litteraire et Bibliographique, des Livres condamnes au Feu” which will furnish thee with further information concerning the woes of authors, if thine appetite be not already sated._
_And if there be any of Folly’s crowd who read this book–of those, I mean, who work and toil by light of midnight lamp, weaving from their brains page upon page of lore and learning, wearing their lives out, all for the sake of an ungrateful public, which cares little for their labour and scarcely stops to thank the toiler for his pains–if there be any of you who read these pages, it will be as pleasant to you to feel safe and free from the stern critics’ modes of former days, as it is to watch the storms and tempests of the sea from the secure retreat of your study chair._
_And if at any time a cross-grained reviewer should treat thy cherished book with scorn, and presume to ridicule thy sentiment and scoff at thy style (which Heaven forfend!), console thyself that thou livest in peaceable and enlightened times, and needest fear that no greater evil can befall thee on account of thy folly in writing than the lash of his satire and the bitterness of his caustic pen. After the manner of thy race thou wilt tempt Fortune again. May’st thou proceed and prosper!_ Vale.
_I desire to express my many thanks to the Rev. Arthur Carr, M.A., late Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, for his kind assistance in revising the proofs of this work. It was my intention to dedicate this book to Mr. John Walter, but alas! his death has deprived it of that distinction. It is only possible now to inscribe to the memory of him whom England mourns the results of some literary labour in which he was pleased to take a kindly interest._
P. H. D.
Michael Molinos–Bartholomew Carranza–Jerome Wecchiettus–Samuel Clarke– Francis David–Antonio de Dominis–Noel Bede–William Tyndale–Arias Montanus–John Huss–Antonio Bruccioli–Enzinas–Louis Le Maistre–Caspar Peucer–Grotius–Vorstius–Pasquier Quesnel–Le Courayer–Savonarola– Michael Servetus–Sebastian Edzardt–William of Ockham–Abelard.
FANATICS AND FREE-THINKERS.
Quirinus Kuhlmann–John Tennhart–Jeremiah Felbinger–Simon Morin– Liszinski–John Toland–Thomas Woolston–John Biddle–Johann Lyser– Bernardino Ochino–Samuel Friedrich Willenberg.
ASTROLOGY, ALCHEMY, AND MAGIC.
Henry Cornelius Agrippa–Joseph Francis Borri–Urban Grandier–Dr. Dee– Edward Kelly–John Darrell.
SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY.
Bishop Virgil–Roger Bacon–Galileo–Jordano Bruno–Thomas Campanella–De Lisle de Sales–Denis Diderot–Balthazar Bekker–Isaac de la Peyrere–Abbe de Marolles–Lucilio Vanini–Jean Rousseau.
Antonius Palearius–Caesar Baronius–John Michael Bruto–Isaac Berruyer– Louis Elias Dupin–Noel Alexandre–Peter Giannone–Joseph Sanfelicius (Eusebius Philopater)–Arlotto–Bonfadio–De Thou–Gilbert Genebrard– Joseph Audra–Beaumelle–John Mariana–John B. Primi–John Christopher Ruediger–Rudbeck–Francois Haudicquer–Francois de Rosieres–Anthony Urseus.
POLITICS AND STATESMANSHIP.
John Fisher–Reginald Pole–“Martin Marprelate”–Udal–Penry–Hacket– Coppinger–Arthington–Cartwright–Cowell–Leighton–John Stubbs–Peter Wentworth–R. Doleman–J. Hales–Reboul–William Prynne–Burton–Bastwick –John Selden–John Tutchin–Delaune–Samuel Johnson–Algernon Sidney– Edmund Richer–John de Falkemberg–Jean Lenoir–Simon Linguet–Abbe Caveirac–Darigrand–Pietro Sarpi–Jerome Maggi–Theodore Reinking.
Roger Rabutin de Bussy–M. Dassy–Trajan Boccalini–Pierre Billard–Pietro Aretino–Felix Hemmerlin–John Giovanni Cinelli–Nicholas Francus–Lorenzo Valla–Ferrante Pallavicino–Francois Gacon–Daniel Defoe–Du Rosoi– Caspar Scioppius.
Adrian Beverland–Cecco d’Ascoli–George Buchanan–Nicodemus Frischlin– Clement Marot–Gaspar Weiser–John Williams–Deforges–Theophile–Helot– Matteo Palmieri–La Grange–Pierre Petit–Voltaire–Montgomery–Keats– Joseph Ritson.
DRAMA AND ROMANCE.
Sir John Yorke and Catholic Plays–Abraham Cowley–Antoine Danchet–Claude Crebillon–Nogaret–Francois de Salignac Fenelon.
BOOKSELLERS AND PUBLISHERS.
The Printers of Nicholas de Lyra and Caesar Baronius–John Fust–Richard Grafton–Jacob van Liesvelt–John Lufftius–Robert Stephens (Estienne)– Henry Stephens–Simon Ockley–Floyer Sydenham–Edmund Castell–Page–John Lilburne–Etienne Dolet–John Morin–Christian Wechel–Andrew Wechel– Jacques Froulle–Godonesche–William Anderton.
SOME LITERARY MARTYRS.
Leland–Strutt–Cotgrave–Henry Wharton–Robert Heron–Collins–William Cole–Homeric victims–Joshua Barnes–An example of unrequited toil– Borgarutius–Pays.
BOOKS FATAL TO THEIR AUTHORS.
Michael Molinos–Bartholomew Carranza–Jerome Wecchiettus–Samuel Clarke– Francis David–Antonio de Dominis–Noel Bede–William Tyndale–Arias Montanus–John Huss–Antonio Bruccioli–Enzinas–Louis Le Maistre–Gaspar Peucer–Grotius–Vorstius–Pasquier Quesnel–Le Courayer–Savonarola– Michael Servetus–Sebastian Edzardt–William of Ockham–Abelard.
Since the knowledge of Truth is the sovereign good of human nature, it is natural that in every age she should have many seekers, and those who ventured in quest of her in the dark days of ignorance and superstition amidst the mists and tempests of the sixteenth century often ran counter to the opinions of dominant parties, and fell into the hands of foes who knew no pity. Inasmuch as Theology and Religion are the highest of all studies–the _aroma scientiarum_–they have attracted the most powerful minds and the subtlest intellects to their elucidation; no other subjects have excited men’s minds and aroused their passions as these have done; on account of their unspeakable importance, no other subjects have kindled such heat and strife, or proved themselves more fatal to many of the authors who wrote concerning them. In an evil hour persecutions were resorted to to force consciences, Roman Catholics burning and torturing Protestants, and the latter retaliating and using the same weapons; surely this was, as Bacon wrote, “to bring down the Holy Ghost, instead of the likeness of a dove, in the shape of a vulture or raven; and to set, out of the bark of a Christian Church, a flag of a bark of pirates and assassins.”
The historian then will not be surprised to find that by far the larger number of Fatal Books deal with these subjects of Theology and Religion, and many of them belong to the stormy period of the Reformation. They met with severe critics in the merciless Inquisition, and sad was the fate of a luckless author who found himself opposed to the opinions of that dread tribunal. There was no appeal from its decisions, and if a taint of heresy, or of what it was pleased to call heresy, was detected in any book, the doom of its author was sealed, and the ingenuity of the age was well-nigh exhausted in devising methods for administering the largest amount of torture before death ended his woes.
_Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum._
Liberty of conscience was a thing unknown in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; and while we prize that liberty as a priceless possession, we can but admire the constancy and courage of those who lived in less happy days. We are not concerned now in condemning or defending their opinions or their beliefs, but we may at least praise their boldness and mourn their fate.
The first author we record whose works proved fatal to him was Michael Molinos, a Spanish theologian born in 1627, a pious and devout man who resided at Rome and acted as confessor. He published in 1675 _The Spiritual Manual_, which was translated from Italian into Latin, and together with a treatise on _The Daily Communion_ was printed with this title: _A Spiritual Manual, releasing the soul and leading it along the interior way to the acquiring the perfection of contemplation and the rich treasure of internal peace_. In the preface Molinos writes: “Mystical theology is not a science of the imagination, but of feelings; we do not understand it by study, but we receive it from heaven. Therefore in this little work I have received far greater assistance from the infinite goodness of God, who has deigned to inspire me, than from the thoughts which the reading of books has suggested to me.” The object of the work is to teach that the pious mind must possess quietude in order to attain to any spiritual progress, and that for this purpose it must be abstracted from visible objects and thus rendered susceptible of heavenly influence. This work received the approval of the Archbishop of the kingdom of Calabria, and many other theologians of the Church. It won for its author the favour of Cardinal Estraeus and also of Pope Innocent XI. It was examined by the Inquisition at the instigation of the Jesuits, and passed that trying ordeal unscathed. But the book raised up many powerful adversaries against its author, who did not scruple to charge Molinos with Judaism, Mohammedanism, and many other “isms,” but without any avail, until at length they approached the confessor of the King of Naples, and obtained an order addressed to Cardinal Estraeus for the further examination of the book. The Cardinal preferred the favour of the king to his private friendship. Molinos was tried in 1685, and two years later was conducted in his priestly robes to the temple of Minerva, where he was bound, and holding in his hand a wax taper was compelled to renounce sixty-eight articles which the Inquisition decreed were deduced from his book. He was afterwards doomed to perpetual imprisonment. On his way to the prison he encountered one of his opponents and exclaimed, “Farewell, my father; we shall meet again on the day of judgment, and then it will be manifest on which side, on yours or mine, the Truth shall stand.” For eleven long years Molinos languished in the dungeons of the Inquisition, where he died in 1696. His work was translated into French and appeared in a _Recueil de pieces sur le Quietisme_, published in Amsterdam 1688. Molinos has been considered the leader and founder of the Quietism of the seventeenth century. The monks of Mount Athos in the fourteenth, the Molinosists, Madame Guyon, Fenelon, and others in the seventeenth century, all belonged to that contemplative company of Christians who thought that the highest state of perfection consisted in the repose and complete inaction of the soul, that life ought to be one of entire passive contemplation, and that good works and active industry were only fitting for those who were toiling in a lower sphere and had not attained to the higher regions of spiritual mysticism. Thus the ‘[Greek: Aesuchastai]’ on Mount Athos contemplated their nose or their navel, and called the effect of their meditations “the divine light,” and Molinos pined in his dungeon, and left his works to be castigated by the renowned Bossuet. The pious, devout, and learned Spanish divine was worthy of a better fate, and perhaps a little more quietism and a little less restlessness would not be amiss in our busy nineteenth century.
The noblest prey ever captured by those keen hunters, the Inquisitors, was Bartholomew Carranza, Archbishop of Toledo, in 1558, one of the richest and most powerful prelates in Christendom. He enjoyed the favour of his sovereign Philip II. of Spain, whom he accompanied to England, and helped to burn our English Protestants. Unfortunately in an evil hour he turned to authorship, and published a catechism under this title: _Commentarios sobre el Catequismo Cristiano divididos en quatro partes las quales contienen fodo loque professamor en el sancto baptismo, como se vera en la plana seguiente dirigidos al serenissimo Roy de Espana_ (Antwerp). On account of this work he was accused of Lutheranism, and his capture arranged by his enemies. At midnight, after the Archbishop had retired to rest, a knock was heard at the door of the chamber. “Who calls?” asked the attendant friar. “Open to the Holy Office,” was the answer. Immediately the door flew open, for none dared resist that terrible summons, and Ramirez, the Inquisitor-General of Toledo, entered. The Archbishop raised himself in his bed, and demanded the reason of the intrusion. An order for his arrest was produced, and he was speedily conveyed to the dungeons of the Inquisition at Valladolid. For seven long years he lingered there, and was then summoned to Rome in 1566 by Pius V. and imprisoned for six years in the Castle of St. Angelo. The successor of Pope Pius V., Gregory XIII., at length pronounced him guilty of false doctrine. His catechism was condemned; he was compelled to abjure sixteen propositions, and besides other penances he was confined for five years in a monastery. Broken down by his eighteen years’ imprisonment and by the hardships he had undergone, he died sixteen days after his cruel sentence had been pronounced. [Footnote: Cf. _The Church of Spain_, by Canon Meyrick. (National Churches Series.)] On his deathbed he solemnly declared that he had never seriously offended with regard to the Faith. The people were very indignant against his persecutors, and on the day of his funeral all the shops were closed as on a great festival. His body was honoured as that of a saint. His captors doubtless regretted his death, inasmuch as the Pope is said to have received a thousand gold pieces each month for sparing his life, and Philip appropriated the revenues of his see for his own charitable purposes, which happened at that time to be suppression of heresy in the Netherlands by the usual means of rack and fire and burying alive helpless victims.
A very fatal book was one entitled _Opus de anno primitivo ab exordia mundi, ad annum Julianum accommodato, et de sacrorum temporum ratione. Augustae-Vindelicorum_, 1621, _in folio magno_. It is a work of Jerome Wecchiettus, a Florentine doctor of theology. The Inquisition attacked and condemned the book to the flames, and its author to perpetual imprisonment. Being absent from Rome he was comparatively safe, but surprised the whole world by voluntarily submitting himself to his persecutors, and surrendering himself to prison. This extraordinary humility disarmed his foes, but it did not soften much the hearts of the Inquisitors, who permitted him to end his days in the cell. The causes of the condemnation of the work are not very evident. One idea is that in his work the author pretended to prove that Christ did not eat the passover during the last year of His life; and another states that he did not sufficiently honour the memory of Louis of Bavaria, and thus aroused the anger of the strong supporters of that ancient house.
The first English author whose woes we record is Samuel Clarke, who was born at Norwich in 1675, and was for some time chaplain to the bishop of that see. He was very intimate with the scientific men of his time, and especially with Newton. In 1704 he published his Boyle Lectures, _A Treatise on the Being and Attributes of God, and on Natural and Revealed Religion_, which found its way into other lands, a translation being published in Amsterdam in 1721. Our author became chaplain to Queen Anne and Rector of St. James’s. He was a profoundly learned and devout student, and obtained a European renown as a true Christian philosopher. In controversy he encountered foemen worthy of his steel, such as Spinosa, Hobbes, Dodwell, Collins, Leibnitz, and others. But in 1712 he published _The Scriptural Doctrine of the Trinity_, which was declared to be opposed to the Christian belief and tainted with Arianism. The attention of Parliament was called to the book; the arguments were disputed by Edward Wells, John Edwards, and William Sommer; and Clarke was deprived of his offices. The charge of heterodoxy was certainly never proved against him; he did good service in trying to stem the flood of rationalism prevalent in his time, and his work was carried on by Bishop Butler. His correspondence with Leibnitz on Time, Space, Necessity, and Liberty was published in 1717, and his editions of Caesar and Homer were no mean contributions to the study of classical literature.
In the sixteenth century there lived in Hungary one Francis David, a man learned in the arts and languages, but his inconstancy and fickleness of mind led him into diverse errors, and brought about his destruction. He left the Church, and first embraced Calvinism; then he fled into the camp of the Semi-Judaising party, publishing a book _De Christo non invocando_, which was answered by Faustus Socinus, the founder of Socinianism. The Prince of Transylvania, Christopher Bathori, condemned David as an impious innovator and preacher of strange doctrines, and cast him into prison, where he died in 1579. There is extant a letter of David to the Churches of Poland concerning the millennium of Christ.
Our next author was a victim to the same inconstancy of mind which proved so fatal to Francis David, but sordid reasons and the love of gain without doubt influenced his conduct and produced his fickleness of faith. Antonio de Dominis, Archbishop of Spalatro, was a shining light of the Roman Church at the end of the sixteenth century. He was born in 1566, and educated by the Jesuits. He was learned in history and in science, and was the first to discover the cause of the rainbow, his explanation being adopted and perfected by Descartes. The Jesuits obtained for him the Professorship of Mathematics at Padua, and of Logic and Rhetoric at Brescia. After his ordination he became a popular preacher and was consecrated Bishop of Segni, and afterwards Archbishop of Spalatro in Dalmatia. He took a leading part in the controversy between the Republic of Venice and the Pope, and after the reconciliation between the two parties was obliged by the Pope to pay an annual pension of five hundred crowns out of the revenues of his see to the Bishop of Segni. This highly incensed the avaricious prelate, who immediately began to look out for himself a more lucrative piece of preferment. He applied to Sir Dudley Carleton, the English Ambassador at Venice, to know whether he would be received into the Church of England, as the abuses and corruptions of the Church of Rome prevented him from remaining any longer in her communion.
King James I. heartily approved of his proposal, and gave him a most honourable reception, both in the Universities and at Court. All the English bishops agreed to contribute towards his maintenance. Fuller says: “It is incredible what flocking of people there was to behold this old archbishop now a new convert; prelates and peers presented him with gifts of high valuation.” Other writers of the period describe him as “old and corpulent,” but of a “comely presence”; irascible and pretentious, gifted with an unlimited assurance and plenty of ready wit in writing and speaking; of a “jeering temper,” and of a most grasping avarice. He was ridiculed on the stage in Middleton’s play, _The Game of Chess_, as the “Fat Bishop.” “He was well named De Dominis in the plural,” says Crakanthorp, “for he could serve two masters, or twenty, if they paid him wages.”
Our author now proceeded to finish his great work, which he published in 1617 in three large folios–_De Republica Ecclesiastica_, of which the original still exists among the Tanner MSS. in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. “He exclaims,” says Fuller, “‘in reading, meditation, and writing, I am almost pined away,’ but his fat cheeks did confute his false tongue in that expression.” In this book he shows that the authority of the Bishop of Rome can easily be disproved from Holy Scripture, that it receives no support from the judgment of history and antiquity, that the early bishops of that see had no precedence over other bishops, nor were in the least able to control those of other countries. He declares that the inequality in power amongst the Apostles is a human invention, not founded on the Gospels; that in the Holy Eucharist the priest does not offer the sacrifice of Christ, but only the commemoration of that sacrifice; that the Church has no coercive power, that John Huss was wrongfully condemned at the Council of Constance; that the Holy Spirit was promised to the whole Church, and not only to bishops and priests; that the papacy is a fiction invented by men; and he states many other propositions which must have been somewhat distasteful to the Pope and his followers.
James rewarded De Dominis by conferring on him the Mastership of the Savoy and the Deanery of Windsor, and he further increased his wealth by presenting himself to the rich living of West Ilsley, in Berkshire.
In an unfortunate moment he insulted Count Gondomar, the Spanish Ambassador, who determined to be revenged, and persuaded the Pope to send the most flattering offers if he would return to his former faith. Pope Gregory XV., a relative of De Dominis, had just ascended the Papal throne. The bait took. De Dominis, discontented with the _non multum supra quadringentas libras annuas_ which he received in England, and pining after the _duodecim millia Coronatorum_ promised by the Pope, resolved to leave our shores. James was indignant. Bishop Hall tried to dissuade him from his purpose. “Tell me, by the Immortal God, what it is that can snatch you from us so suddenly, after a delay of so many years, and drive you to Rome? Has our race appeared to you inhospitable, or have we shown favour to your virtues less than you hoped? You cannot plead that this is the cause of your departure, upon whom a most kind sovereign has bestowed such ample gifts and conferred such rich offices.” The Archbishop was questioned by the Bishops of London and Durham, by order of the king, with regard to his intentions, and commanded to leave the country within twenty days. He was known to have amassed a large sum of money during his sojourn in England, and his trunks were seized, and found to contain over L1,600. De Dominis fled to Brussels, and there wrote his _Consilium Reditus_, giving his reasons for rejoining the Roman Church, and expecting daily his promised reward–a cardinal’s hat and a rich bishopric. His hopes were doomed to be disappointed. For a short time he received a pension from Gregory XV., but this was discontinued by Urban VIII., and our author became dissatisfied and imprudently talked of again changing his faith. He was heard to exclaim at supper on one occasion, “That no Catholic had answered his book, _De Republica Ecclesiastica_, but that he himself was able to deal with them.” The Inquisition seized him, and he was conveyed to the Castle of St. Angelo, where he soon died, as some writers assert, by poison. His body and his books were burned by the executioner, and the ashes thrown into the Tiber. Dr. Fitzgerald, Rector of the English College at Rome, thus describes him: “He was a malcontent knave when he fled from us, a railing knave when he lived with you, and a motley particoloured knave now he is come again.” He had undoubtedly great learning and skill in controversy, [Footnote: His opinion with regard to the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan over suffragan bishops was referred to in the recent trial of the Bishop of Lincoln.] but avarice was his master, and he was rewarded according to his deserts. [Footnote: Cf. article by the Rev. C. W. Penny in the _Journal of the Berks Archaeological Society_, on Antonio de Dominis.]
The lonely fortress of Mont-Saint-Michel saw the end of a bitter controversialist, Noel Bede, who died there in 1587. He wrote _Natalis Bedoe, doctoris Theol. Parisiensis annotationum in Erasmi paraphrases Novi Testamenti, et Jacobi Fabri Stapulensis commentarios in Evangelistas, Paulique Epistolas, Libri III., Parisiis_, 1526, _in-fol_. This work abounds in vehement criticisms and violent declamations. Erasmus did not fail to reply to his calumniator, and detected no less than eighty-one falsehoods, two hundred and six calumnies, and forty-seven blasphemies. Bede continued to denounce Erasmus as a heretic, and in a sermon before the court reproached the king for not punishing such unbelievers with sufficient rigour. The author was twice banished, and finally was compelled to make a public retractation in the Church of Notre Dame, for having spoken against the king and the truth, and to be exiled to Mont- Saint-Michel.
Translators of the Bible fared not well at the hands of those who were unwilling that the Scriptures should be studied in the vulgar tongue by the lay-folk, and foremost among that brave band of self-sacrificing scholars stands William Tyndale. His life is well known, and needs no recapitulation; but it may be noted that his books, rather than his work of translating the Scriptures, brought about his destruction. His important work called _The Practice of Prelates_, which was mainly directed against the corruptions of the hierarchy, unfortunately contained a vehement condemnation of the divorce of Catherine of Arragon by Henry VIII. This deeply offended the monarch at the very time that negotiations were in progress for the return of Tyndale to his native shores from Antwerp, and he declared that he was “very joyous to have his realm destitute of such a person.” The _Practice of Prelates_ was partly written in answer to the _Dialogue_ of Sir Thomas More, who was commissioned to combat the “pernicious and heretical” works of the “impious enemies of the Church.” Tyndale wrote also a bitter _Answer_ to the _Dialogue_, and this drew forth from More his abusive and scurrilous _Confutation_, which did little credit to the writer or to the cause for which he contended Tyndale’s longest controversial work, entitled _The Obedience of a Christian Man, and how Christian Rulers ought to govern_, although it stirred up much hostility against its author, very favourably impressed King Henry, who delighted in it, and declared that “the book was for him and for all kings to read.” The story of the burning of the translation of the New Testament at St. Paul’s Cross by Bishop Tunstall, of the same bishop’s purchase of a “heap of the books” for the same charitable purpose, thereby furnishing Tyndale with means for providing another edition and for printing his translation of the Pentateuch, all this is a thrice-told tale. Nor need we record the account of the conspiracy which sealed his doom. For sixteen months he was imprisoned in the Castle of Vilvoord, and we find him petitioning for some warm clothing and “for a candle in the evening, for it is wearisome to sit alone in the dark,” and above all for his Hebrew Bible, Grammar, and Dictionary, that he might spend his time in that study. After a long dreary mockery of a trial on October 16th, 1536, he was chained to a stake with faggots piled around him. “As he stood firmly among the wood, with the executioner ready to strangle him, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and cried with a fervent zeal and loud voice, ‘Lord, open the King of England’s eyes!’ and then, yielding himself to the executioner, he was strangled, and his body immediately consumed.” That same year, by the King’s command, the first edition of the Bible was published in London. If Tyndale had confined himself to the great work of translating the Scriptures, and had abandoned controversy and his _Practice of Prelates_, his fate might have been different; but, as Mr. Froude says, “he was a man whose history has been lost in his work, and whose epitaph is the Reformation.”
Another translator, whose fate was not so tragic, was the learned Arias Montanus, a Spaniard, who produced at the command of King Philip II. the famous Polyglot Bible printed at Antwerp in nine tomes. He possessed a wonderful knowledge of several languages, and devoted immense labour to his great work. But in spite of the royal approval of his work his book met with much opposition on the part of the extreme Roman party, who accused him to the Pope and made many false charges against him. The Pope was enraged against Montanus, and he was obliged to go to Rome to plead his cause. He at length obtained pardon from the Pope, and escaped the “chariots of fire” which bore the souls of so many martyred saints to heaven. It is a curious irony of fate that Montanus, who was one of the chief compilers of the _Index Expurgatorius_, should live to see his own work placed on the condemned list.
The story of the martyrdom of John Huss is well known, and need not be here related, but perhaps the books which caused his death are not so frequently studied or their titles remembered. His most important work was his _De Ecclesia_, in which he maintained the rigid doctrine of predestination, denied to the Pope the title of Head of the Church, declaring that the Pope is the vicar of St. Peter, if he walk in his steps; but if he give in to covetousness, he is the vicar of Judas Iscariot. He reprobates the flattery which was commonly used towards the Pope, and denounces the luxury and other corruptions of the cardinals. Besides this treatise we have many others–_Adv. Indulgentias, De Erectione Crucis_, etc. He wrote in Latin, Bohemian, and German, and recently his Bohemian writings have been edited by K. J. Erben, Prague (1865). His plain speaking aroused the fury of his adversaries, and he knew his danger. On one occasion he made a strange challenge, offering to maintain his opinions in disputation, and consenting to be burnt if his conclusions were proved to be wrong, on condition that his opponents should submit to the same fate in case of defeat. But as they would only sacrifice one out of the company of his foes, he declared that the conditions were unequal, and the challenge was abandoned. When at last he was granted a safe conduct by the Emperor Sigismund, and trusted himself to the Council of Constance, his fate was sealed. Even in his noisome prison his pen (when he could procure one) was not idle, and Huss composed during his confinement several tracts on religious subjects. At length his degradation was completed; a tall paper cap painted with hideous figures of devils was placed upon his head, and a bishop said to him, “We commit thy body to the secular arm, and thy soul to the devil.” “And I,” replied the martyr, “commit it to my most merciful Lord, Jesus Christ.” When on his way to execution he saw his Fatal Books being burnt amidst an excited crowd, he smiled and remarked on the folly of people burning what they could not read.
Another translator of the Bible was Antonio Bruccioli, who published in Venice, in 1546, the following edition of the Holy Scriptures: _Biblia en lengua toscana, cioe, i tutti i santi libri del vecchio y Novo Testamento, in lengua toscana, dalla hebraica verita, e fonte greco, con commento da Antonio Bruccioli_. Although a Roman Catholic, he favoured Protestant views, and did not show much love for either the monks or priests. His bold comments attracted the attention of the Inquisition, who condemned his work and placed it on the Index. The author was condemned to death by hanging, but happily for him powerful friends interceded, and his punishment was modified to a two years’ banishment. He died in 1555, when Protestant burnings were in vogue in England.
Enzinas, the author of a Spanish translation of the New Testament entitled _El Nuevo Testamento de N. Redemptor y Salvador J. C. traduzido en lengua castellana (En Amberes, 1543, in-8)_, dedicated his work to Charles V. But it caused him to be imprisoned fifteen months. Happily he discovered a means of escape from his dungeon, and retired to safe quarters at Geneva. In France he adopted the _nom-de-plume_ of Dryander, and his _History of the Netherlands and of Religion in Spain_ forms part of the Protestant martyrology published in Germany. The author’s brother, John Dryander, was burnt at Rome in 1545.
The Jansenist Louis Le Maistre, better known under the name of de Sacy, was imprisoned in the Bastille on account of his opinions and also for his French translation of the New Testament, published at Mons, in 1667, and entitled _Le Nouveau Testament de N.S.J.C., traduit en francais selon l’edition Vulgate, avec les differences du grec_ (2 vols., in-12). This famous work, known by the name of the New Testament of Mons, has been condemned by many popes, bishops, and other authorities. Louis Le Maistre was assisted in the work by his brother, and the translation was improved by Arnaud and Nicole. Pope Clement IX. described the work as “rash, pernicious, different from the Vulgate, and containing many stumbling- blocks for the unlearned.” When confined in the Bastille, Le Maistre and his friend Nicolas Fontaine wrote _Les Figures de la Bible_, which work is usually attributed to the latter author. According to the Jesuits, the Port-Royalists are represented under the figure of David, their antagonists as Saul. Louis XIV. appears as Rehoboam, Jezebel, Ahasuerus, and Darius. But these fanciful interpretations are probably due to the imagination of the critics.
The fate of Gaspar Peucer enforces the truth of the old adage that “a shoemaker ought to stick to his last,” and shows that those men court adversity who meddle with matters outside their profession. Peucer was a doctor of medicine of the academy of Wuertemberg, and wrote several works on astronomy, medicine, and history. He was a friend of Melanchthon, and became imbued with Calvinistic notions, which he manifested in his publication of the works of the Reformer. On account of this he was imprisoned eleven years. By the favour of the Elector he was at length released, and wrote a _History of his Captivity_ (Zurich, 1605). A curious work, entitled _A Treatise on Divination_, was published by Peucer at Wuertemberg, written in Latin, in 1552. He ranks among the most learned men of Germany of the sixteenth century.
There were many Fatal Books in Holland during the famous controversy between the Arminians and the Gomarists, which ended in the famous Synod of Dort, and for vehemence, bigotry, and intolerance is as remarkable as any which can be found in ecclesiastical history. The learned historian Grotius was imprisoned, but he wrote no book which caused his misfortune. Indeed his books were instrumental in his escape, which was effected by means of his large box containing books brought into the prison by his wife. When removed from the prison it contained, not the books, but the author. Vorstius, the successor of Arminius as Professor of Theology at Leyden, was not so happy. His book, _Tractatus de Deo, seu de natura et attributis Dei_ (Steinfurti, 1610, in-4), aroused the vengeance of the Gomarists, and brought about the loss of his professorship and his banishment from Holland; but any injustice might have been expected from that extraordinary Synod, where theology was mystified, religion disgraced, and Christianity outraged. [Footnote: Cf. _Church in the Netherlands_, by P.H. Ditchfield, chap. xvii.]
Few books have created such a sensation in the world or aroused so prolonged a controversy as _Les Reflexions Morales_ of Pasquier Quesnel, published in 1671. The full title of the work is _Le Nouveau Testament en Francais, avec des reflexions morales sur chaque verset_ (Paris, 1671, i vol., in-12), _pour les quatre Evangiles seulement_. Praslard was the publisher. In 1693 and 1694 appeared another edition, containing his _reflexions morales_, not only on the Gospels, but also on the Acts and the Epistles. Many subsequent editions have appeared. Not only France, but the whole of the Western Church was agitated by it, and its far-reaching effects have hardly yet passed away. It caused its author a long period of incarceration; it became a weapon in the hands of the Jesuits to hurl at the Jansenists, and the Papal Bull pronounced against it was the cause of the separation of a large body of the faithful from the communion of the Roman Church. Its author was born at Paris in 1634, and was educated in the congregation of the Oratory. Appointed director of its school in Paris, he wrote _Pensees Chretiennes sur les quatre Evangiles_, which was the germ of his later work. In 1684 he fled to Brussels, because he felt himself unable to sign a formulary decreed by the Oratorians on account of its acceptance of some of the principles of Descartes to which Arnauld and the famous writers of the school of Port-Royal always offered vehement opposition.
A second edition of _Reflexions Morales_ appeared in 1694 with the approval of De Noailles, then Bishop of Chalons, afterwards Archbishop of Paris. But a few years later, by the intrigues of the Jesuits, and by the order of Philip V., Quesnel was imprisoned at Mechlin. In 1703 he escaped and retired to Amsterdam, where he died in 1719. But the history of the book did not close with the author’s death. It was condemned by Pope Clement XI. in 1708 as infected with Jansenism. Four years later an assembly of five cardinals and eleven theologians sat in judgment upon it; their deliberations lasted eighteen months, and the result of their labours was the famous Bull _Unigenitus_, which condemned one hundred and one propositions taken from the writings of Quesnel.
The unreasonableness and injustice of this condemnation may be understood from the following extracts:–
Proposition 50.–“It is in vain that we cry to God, My _Father_, if it is not the Spirit of love that cries.”
This is described as “pernicious in practice, and offensive to pious ears.”
Proposition 54.–“It is love alone that speaks to God; it is love alone that God hears.”
This, according to the cardinals, “is scandalous, temerarious, impious, and erroneous.”
The acceptance of the Bull was a great stumbling-block to many churchmen. Louis XIV. forced it upon the French bishops, who were entertained at a sumptuous banquet given by the Archbishop of Strasbourg and by a large majority decided against the Quesnelites. It is unnecessary to follow the history of this controversy further. France was long agitated by it, and the Church of Holland was and is excommunicate from Rome mainly on account of its refusal to accept the Bull _Unigenitus_, which was called forth by and so unjustly condemned Quesnel’s famous book.
In connection with the history of this Bull we may mention the work of one of its most vehement opponents, Pierre Francois le Courayer, of the order of the canons regular of St. Augustine, who wrote a book of great interest to English churchmen, entitled _Dissertation sur la validite des Ordinations Anglicanes_ (Bruxelles, 1723, 2 vols., in-12). This book was condemned and its author excommunicated. He retired to the shelter of the Church whose right of succession he so ably defended, and died in London in 1776.
Few authors have received greater honour for their works, or endured severer calamities on account of them, than the famous Florentine preacher Savonarola. Endowed with a marvellous eloquence, imbued with a spirit of enthusiastic patriotism and intense devotion, he inveighed against the vices of the age, the worldliness of the clergy, the selfish ease of the wealthy while the poor were crying for bread in want and sickness. The good citizens of Florence believed that he was an angel from heaven, that he had miraculous powers, could speak with God and foretell the future; and while the women of Florence cast their jewels and finery into the flames of the “bonfire of vanities,” the men, inspired by the preacher’s dreams of freedom, were preparing to throw off the yoke of the Medicis and proclaim a grand Florentine Republic. The revolution was accomplished, and for three years Savonarola was practically the ruler of the new state. His works were: _Commentatiuncula de Mahumetanorum secta; Triumphus crucis, sive de fidei Christianae veritate_ in four books (1497), de _Simplicitate vitae Christianae_ in five books, and _Compendium Revelationis_ (1495), and many volumes of his discourses, some of which are the rarest treasures of incunabula.
[Footnote: At Venice in the library of Leo S. Olschki I have met with some of these volumes, the rarest of which is entitled:–
PREDICHE DEL REVERENDO
PADRE FRATE HIERONYMO
_Da Ferrara facie lanno del_. 1496
_negiorni delle feste, finito che
hebbe la quaresima: & prima
riposatosi circa uno mese
ricomincio eldi di Sco
Michele Adi. viii di
The text commences “CREDITE IN Dno Deo uestro & securi eritis.” In the cell of Savonarola at the Monastery of St. Mark is preserved a MS. volume of the famous preacher. The writing is very small, and must have taxed the skill of the printers in deciphering it.]
The austerity of his teaching excited some hostility against him, especially on the part of the monks who did not belong to his order–that of the Dominicans. He had poured such bitter invective both in his books and in his sermons upon the vices of the Popes and the Cardinals, that they too formed a powerful party in league against him. In addition the friends of the Medicis resented the overthrow of their power, and the populace, ever fickle in their affections, required fresh wonders and signs to keep them faithful to their leader. The opportunity of his enemies came when Charles VIII. of France retired from Florence. They accused Savonarola of all kinds of wickedness. He was cast into prison, tortured, and condemned to death as a heretic. In what his heresy consisted it were hard to discover. It was true that when his poor, shattered, sensitive frame was being torn and rent by the cruel engines of torture, he assented to many things which his persecutors strove to wring from him. The real cause of his destruction was not so much the charges of heresy which were brought against his books and sermons, as the fact that he was a person inconvenient to Pope Alexander VI. On the 23rd of May, 1498, he met his doom in the great piazza at Florence where in happier days he had held the multitude spell-bound by his burning eloquence. There sentence was passed upon him. Stripped of his black Dominican robe and long white tunic, he was bound to a gibbet, strangled by a halter, and his dead body consumed by fire, his ashes being thrown into the river Arno. Such was the miserable end of the great Florentine preacher, whose strange and complex character has been so often discussed, and whose remarkable career has furnished a theme for poets and romance-writers, and forms the basis of one of the most powerful novels of modern times.
Not only were the Inquisitors and the Cardinals guilty of intolerance and the stern rigour of persecution, but the Reformers themselves, when they had the power, refrained not from torturing and burning those who did not accept their own particular belief. This they did not merely out of a spirit of revenge conceived against those who had formerly condemned their fathers and brethren to the stake, but sometimes we see instances of Reformers slaughtering Reformers, because the victims did not hold quite the same tenets as those who were in power. Poor Michael Servetus shared as hard a fate at the hands of Calvin, as ever “heretic” did at the hands of the Catholics; and this fate was entirely caused by his writings. This author was born in Spain, at Villaneuva in Arragon, in 1509. At an early age he went to Africa to learn Arabic, and on his return settled in France, studying law at Toulouse, and medicine at Lyons and Paris.
But the principles of the Reformed religion attracted him; he studied the Scriptures in their original languages, and the writings of the fathers and schoolmen. Unhappily his perverse and self-reliant spirit led him into grievous errors with regard to the doctrine of the Trinity. In vain the gentle Reformer Oecolampadius at Basle reasoned with him. He must needs disseminate his opinions in a book entitled _De Trinitatis Erroribus_, which has handed the name of Servetus down to posterity as the author of errors opposed to the tenets of the Christian Faith. Bucer declared that he deserved the most shameful death on account of the ideas set forth in this work. In his next work, _Dialogues on the Trinity_ and _A Treatise on the Kingdom of Christ_, Servetus somewhat modified his views, and declared that his former reasonings were merely “those of a boy speaking to boys”; but he blamed rather the arrangement of his book, than retracted the opinions he had expressed.
He also annotated Pagnini’s Latin version of the Sacred Scriptures, entitled _Biblia sacra latina ex hebraeo, per Sanctum Pagninum, cum praefatione et scholiis Michaelis Villanovani (Michel Servet). Lugduni, a Porta_, 1542, _in-folio_. This edition was vigorously suppressed on account of the notes of Servetus.
After sojourning some time in Italy, he returned to France in 1534, and settled at Lyons, where he published a new and highly esteemed edition of the Geography of Ptolemy, inscribing himself as Michael Villanovanus, from the name of his birthplace. His former works had been published under the name of Reves, formed by the transposition of the letters of his family name. In Paris he studied medicine, and began to set forth novel opinions which led him into conflict with other members of the faculty. In one of his treatises he is said to have suggested the theory of the circulation of the blood. In 1540 he went to Vienne and published anonymously his well-known work _De Restitutione Christianismi_. This book, when its authorship became known, brought upon him the charge of heresy, and he was cast into prison. Powerful friends enabled him to escape, and his enemies were obliged to content themselves with burning his effigy and several copies of his books in the market-place at Vienne. Servetus determined to fly to Naples, but was obliged to pass through Geneva, where at the instigation of the great Reformer Calvin he was seized and cast into prison. It is unnecessary to follow the course of Servetus’ ill-fated history, the bitter hostility of Calvin, the delays, the trials and colloquies. At length he was condemned, and the religious world shuddered at the thought of seeing the pile lighted by a champion of the Reformation and religious freedom. Loud and awful shrieks were heard in the prison when the tidings of his sentence were conveyed to Servetus. Soon the fatal staff was broken over his head as a sign of his condemnation, and on the Champel Hill, outside the gates of Geneva, the last tragic scene took place. With his brow adorned with a crown of straw sprinkled with brimstone, his Fatal Books at his side, chained to a low seat, and surrounded by piles of blazing faggots, the newness and moisture of which added greatly to his torture, in piteous agony Servetus breathed his last, a sad spectacle of crime wrought in religion’s name, a fearful example of how great woes an author may bring upon himself by his arrogance and self- sufficiency. The errors of Servetus were deplorable, but the vindictive cruelty of his foes creates sympathy for the victim of their rage, and Calvin’s memory is ever stained by his base conduct to his former friend.
The name of Sebastian Edzardt is not so well known. He was educated at Wuertemberg, and when Frederick I. of Prussia conceived the desire of uniting the various reformed bodies with the Lutherans, he published a work _De causis et natura unionis_, and a treatise _Ad Calvanianorum Pelagianisinum_. In this book he charged the Calvinists with the Pelagian heresy–a charge which they were accustomed to bring against the Lutherans. It was written partly against a book of John Winckler, _Arcanum Regium de conciliandis religionibus subditorum diffidentibus_, published in 1703 in support of the King’s designs. In the same year he published _Impietas cohortis fanatica, expropriis Speneri, Rechenbergii, Petersenii, Thomasii, Arnoldi, Schutzii, Boehmeri, aliorumque fanaticorum scriptis, plusquam apodictis argumentis, ostensa. Hamburgi, Koenig, 1703, in-4_. This work was suppressed by order of the senate of Hamburg. Frederick was enraged at Edzardt’s opposition to his plans, ordered his first book to be burnt, and forbade any one to reply to it. Nor was our author more successful in his other work, _Kurtzer Entwurff der Einigkeit der Evangelisch-Lutherischen und Reformirten im Grunde des Glaubens: von dieser Vereinigung eigentlicher Natur und Beschaffenheit_, wherein he treated of various systems of theology. This too was publicly burnt, but of the fate of its author I have no further particulars.
The last of the great schoolmen, William of Ockham, called the “Invincible Doctor,” suffered imprisonment and exile on account of his works. He was born at Ockham in Surrey in 1280, and, after studying at Oxford, went to the University of Paris. He lived in stirring times, and took a prominent part in the great controversies which agitated the fourteenth century. Pope John XXII. ruled at Avignon, a shameless truckster in ecclesiastical merchandise, a violent oppressor of his subjects, yet obliged by force of circumstances to be a mere subject of the King of France. The Emperor Ludwig IV. ruled in Germany in spite of the excommunication pronounced against him by the Pope. Many voices were raised in support of Louis denouncing the assumptions of the occupant of the Papal See. Marcilius of Padua wrote his famous _Defensor Pacis_ against Papal pretensions, and our author, William of Ockham, issued his still more famous _Defence of Poverty_, which startled the whole of Christendom by its vigorous onslaught on the vices of the Papacy and the assumptions of Pope John. The latter ordered two bishops to examine the work, and the “Invincible Doctor” was cast into prison at Avignon. He would certainly have been slain, had he not contrived to effect his escape, and taken refuge at the court of the German emperor, to whom he addressed the words, “_Tu me defendas gladio, ego te defendam calamo_.” There he lived and wrote, condemned by the Pope, disowned by his order, the Franciscans, threatened daily with sentences of heresy, deprivation, and imprisonment; but for them he cared not, and fearlessly pursued his course, becoming the acknowledged leader of the reforming tendencies of the age, and preparing the material for that blaze of light which astonished the world in the sixteenth century. His works have never been collected, and are very scarce, being preserved with great care in some of the chief libraries of Europe. The scholastic philosophy of the fourteenth century, the disputes between the Nominalists and the Realists, in which he took the part of the former, the principle that “entities are not to be multiplied except by necessity,” or the “hypostatic existence of abstractions,” have ceased to create any very keen interest in the minds of readers. But how bitterly the war of words was waged in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries! And it was not only a war of words; one who witnessed the contests wrote that “when the contending parties had exhausted their stock of verbal abuse, they often came to blows; and it was not uncommon in their quarrels about _universals_, to see the combatants engaged not only with their fists, but with clubs and swords, so that many have been wounded and some killed.” These controversies have passed away, upon which, says John of Salisbury, more time had been wasted than the Caesars had employed in making themselves masters of the world; and it is unnecessary here to revive them. Ockham’s principal works are: _Quaestiones et decisiones in quatuor libros sententiarum cum centilogio theologico_ (Lyons, 1495), [Footnote: I have met with a copy of this work amongst the incunabula in the possession of M. Olschki, of Venice. The printer’s name is John Trechsel, who is described as _vir hujus artis solertissimus_.] _Summa logicae_ (Paris, 1483), _Quodlibeta_ (Paris, 1487), _Super potestate summi pontifia_ (1496). He died at Munich in 1343.
The _Introductio ad Theologiam_ of the famous Abelard, another schoolman, was fatal to him. Abelard’s name is more generally known on account of the golden haze of romance which surrounded him and the fair Heloise; and their loving letters have been often read and mourned over by thousands who have never heard of his theological writings. At one time the famous Canon of Notre Dame at Paris had an enthusiastic following; thousands flocked to his lectures from every country; his popularity was enormous. He combated the abuses of the age and the degeneracy of some of the clergy, and astonished and enraged many by the boldness of his speech and the novelty of his opinions. His views with regard to the doctrine of the Trinity expressed in his _Introductio_ (Traite de la Trinite) were made the subject of a charge against him, and certainly they cannot be easily distinguished from Sabellianism. The qualities or attributes of the Godhead, power, wisdom, goodness, were stated to be the three Persons. The Son of God was not incarnate to deliver us, but only to instruct us by His discourses and example. Jesus Christ, God and Man, is not one of the Persons in the Trinity, and a man is not properly called God. He did not descend into hell. Such were some of the errors with which Abelard was reproached. Whether they were actually contained in his writings, it is not so evident. We have only fragments of Abelard’s writings to judge from, which have been collected by M. Cousin–_Ouvrages inedits d’Abelard_–and therefore cannot speak with certain knowledge of his opinions. At least they were judged to be blasphemous and heretical by the Council of Soissons, when he was condemned to commit his books to the flames and to retire to the Convent of St. Denys. Some years later, when he had recovered from the horrible mutilation to which he had been subjected by the uncle of Heloise, and his mind had acquired its usual strength, we find him at Paris, again attracting crowds by his brilliant lectures, and pouring forth books, and alas! another fatal one, _Sic et Non_, [Footnote: Petri Abelardi _Sic et Non_ (Marburgi, Sumptibus Librariae; Academy Elwertianae, 1851). The best edition of Abelard’s letters is _P. Abaelardi et Heloisae conjugis ejus Epistolae, ab erroribus purgatae et cum codd. MSS. collatae cura Richardi Rawlinson, Londini, 1718, in-8_. There is also an edition published in Paris in 1616, 4to, _Petri Abelardi et Heloisae conjugis ejus, opera cum praefatione apologetica Franc. Antboesii, et Censura doctorum parisiensium; ex editione Andreae Quercetani (Andre Duchesne)_.] which asked one hundred and fifty-eight questions on all kinds of subjects. The famous champion of orthodoxy, St. Bernard, examined the book, and at the Council of Sens in 1140 obtained a verdict against its author. He said that poor Abelard was an infernal dragon who persecuted the Church, that Arius, Pelagius, and Nestorius were not more dangerous, as Abelard united all these monsters in his own person, and that he was a persecutor of the faith and the precursor of Antichrist. These words of the celebrated Abbot of Clairvaux are more creditable to his zeal than to his charity. Abelard’s disciple Arnold of Brescia attended him at the Council, and shared in the condemnations which St. Bernard so freely bestowed. Arnold’s stormy and eventful life as a religious and political reformer was ended at Rome in 1155, where he was strangled and burnt by order of the Emperor Frederick, his ashes being cast into the Tiber lest they should be venerated as relics by his followers. St. Bernard described him as a man having the head of a dove and the tail of a scorpion. Abelard was condemned to perpetual silence, and found a last refuge in the monastery of Cluny. Side by side in the graveyard of the Paraclete Convent the bodies of Abelard and Heloise lie, whose earthly lives, though lighted by love and cheered by religion, were clouded with overmuch sorrow, and await the time when all theological questions will be solved and doubts and difficulties raised by earthly mists and human frailties will be swept away, and we shall “know even as also we are known.”
FANATICS AND FREE-THINKERS.
Quirinus Kuhlmann–John Tennhart–Jeremiah Felbinger–Simon Morin– Liszinski–John Toland–Thomas Woolston–John Biddle–Johann Lyser– Bernardino Ochino–Samuel Friedrich Willenberg.
The nympholepts of old were curious and unhappy beings who, while carelessly strolling amidst sylvan shades, caught a hasty glimpse of some spirit of the woods, and were doomed ever afterwards to spend their lives in fruitlessly searching after it. The race of Fanatics are somewhat akin to these restless seekers. There is a wildness and excessive extravagance in their notions and actions which separates them from the calm followers of Truth, and leads them into strange courses and curious beliefs. How far the sacred fire of enthusiasm may be separated from the fierce heat of fanaticism we need not now inquire, nor whether a spark of the latter has not shone brilliantly in many a noble soul and produced brave deeds and acts of piety and self-sacrifice. Those whose fate is here recorded were far removed from such noble characters; their fanaticism was akin to madness, and many of them were fitter for an asylum rather than a gaol, which was usually their destination.
Foremost among them was Quirinus Kulmanus (Kuhlmann), who has been called the Prince of Fanatics, and wandered through many lands making many disciples. He was born at Breslau in Silesia in 1651, and at an early age saw strange visions, at one time the devils in hell, at another the Beatific Glory of God. His native country did not appreciate him, and he left it to wander on from university to university, publishing his ravings. At Leyden he met with the works of Boehme, another fanatic, who wrote a strange book, entitled _Aurora_, which was suppressed by the magistrates. The reading of this author was like casting oil into the fire. Poor Kuhlmann became wilder still in his strange fanaticism, and joined himself to a pretended prophet, John Rothe, whom the authorities at Amsterdam incarcerated, in order that he might be able to foretell with greater certainty than he had done other things when and after what manner he should be released. Kuhlmann then wrote a book, entitled _Prodromus Quinquennii Mirabilis_, and published at Leyden in 1674, in which he set forth his peculiar views. He stated that in that same year the Fifth Monarchy or the Christian Kingdom was about to commence, that he himself would bring forth a son from his own wife, that this son by many miracles would found the kingdom, and that he himself was the Son of God. On account of these mad ravings he was exiled by the Chief of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, and expelled with infamy from the University of Leyden. But his strange mission did not cease. He wandered for some time in France and England, where he printed at his own expense several small books in 1681 and 1682, amongst others one piece addressed to Mahomet IV., _De Conversione Turcarum_. The following passage occurs in this fantastic production: “You saw, some months ago, O great Eastern Leader, a comet of unusual magnitude, a true prognostic of the Kingdom of the Jesuelites, that is, of the restoration of all people to the one-three God. O well is thee, that thou hast turned thy mind before God, and by proclaiming a general fast throughout thy empire, hast begun to fulfil the words of the Lord to the prophet Drabicius.” He declares that if the Christians refuse to perform his will in destroying the kingdom of Antichrist, the Turks and Tartars shall do it, to the disgrace of the Christians, which will be a horror to angels and to men.
He then proceeded to Turkey on his mission, and presented himself to the Sultan. Although ignorant of the language of the country, he persuaded himself that he could speak in any tongue; but when they led him into the presence of the Sultan he waited in vain for the burning words of eloquence to flow. The Turks dealt with him according to his folly, and bestowed on him a sound thrashing. Thence he proceeded to Russia, and when he was about to marry a second wife, his former spouse being left in England, the Patriarch of the Russian Church condemned him to be burnt at Moscow in 1689. A follower of Kuhlmann’s, named Nordermann, who also wrote a book on the Second Advent of Christ, shared his fate. Kuhlmann also wrote a volume of verses, entitled _The Berlin and Amsterdam “Kuhl- festival” at the Gathering of Lutherans and Calvinists_, which sufficiently attests his insanity. The following is a specimen of the lucidity of his works: “The more I continued my doctrines, the more opposition I received, so that also the higher world of light with which I am illuminated, in their light I was enlightened, or shadowed, when I proceeded, and in their light lit I up brighter lights.”
A fitting companion to Kuhlmann was John Tennhart, a barber of Nuremberg, born in 1662, who used to speak continually of the visions, dreams, and colloquies which he had with God, and boasted that the office of a scribe was entrusted to him by the Divine Will. He endeavoured to persuade all men that the words he wrote were verily and indeed the words of God. The world was not disposed to interfere with the poor barber who imagined himself inspired, but in an evil hour he published a book against the priests, entitled _Worte Gottes, oder Tractaetlein an den so genannten geistlichen Stand_, which caused its author great calamities. He was cast into prison by order of the senate of the Nuremberg State. On his release he again published his former work, with others which he also believed to be inspired, and again in 1714 was imprisoned at Nuremberg. His incarceration did not, however, last long, and Tennhart died while he was journeying from the city which so little appreciated his ravings to find in Cassel a more secure resting-place.
Amongst the fanatics of the seventeenth century may be classed Jeremiah Felbinger, a native of Brega, a town in the Prussian State of Silesia, who was an early advocate of the heresy of the Unitarians. For some years he was a soldier, and then became a schoolmaster. He wrote _Prodromus demonstrationis_, published in 1654, in which he attempted to prove his Unitarian ideas. Shortly before this, in 1653, he wrote _Demonstrationes Christianae_, and finally his _Epistola ad Christianos_, published at Amsterdam in 1672. His strange views and perverted opinions first caused his dismissal from the army, and his works upon the Unitarian doctrines necessitated his removal from the office of teacher. He then journeyed to Helmstadt, but there the wanderer found no rest; for when he tried to circulate his obnoxious books, he was ordered to leave the city before sunset. Finally he settled in Amsterdam, the home of free-thinkers, where men were allowed a large amount of religious liberty; there printers produced without let or hindrance books which were condemned elsewhere and could only be printed in secret presses and obscure corners of cities governed by more orthodox rulers. Here Felbinger passed the rest of his miserable life in great poverty, earning a scanty pittance by instructing youths and correcting typographical errors. He died in 1689, aged seventy- three years.
The seventeenth century was fruitful in fanatics, and not the least mad was Simon Morin, who was burnt at Paris in 1663. His fatal book was his _Pensees de Simon Morin_ (Paris, 1647, in-8), which contains a curious mixture of visions and nonsense, including the principal errors of the Quietists and adding many of his own. Amongst other mad ravings, he declared that there would be very shortly a general reformation of the Church, and that all nations should be converted to the true faith, and that this reformation was to be accomplished by the Second Advent of our Lord in His state of glory, incorporated in Morin himself; and that for the execution of the things to which he was destined, he was to be attended by a great number of perfect souls, and such as participated in the glorious state of Jesus Christ, whom he therefore called the champions of God. He was condemned by the Parliament of Paris, and after having done penance, dressed in his shirt, with a rope round his neck and a torch in his hand, before the entrance of Notre Dame, he was burnt with his book and writings, his ashes being subsequently cast into the air. Morin had several followers who shared his fantastic views, and these poor “champions of God” were condemned to witness the execution of their leader, to be publicly whipped and branded with the mark of fleur-de-lys, and to spend the rest of their lives as galley-slaves.
Poland witnessed the burning of Cazimir Liszinski in 1689, whose ashes were placed in a cannon and shot into the air. This Polish gentleman was accused of atheism by the Bishop of Potsdam. His condemnation was based upon certain atheistical manuscripts found in his possession, containing several novel doctrines, such as “God is not the creator of man; but man is the creator of a God gathered together from nothing.” His writings contain many other extravagant notions of the same kind.
A few years later the religious world of both England and Ireland was excited and disturbed by the famous book of John Toland, a sceptical Irishman, entitled _Christianity not Mysterious_ (London, 1696). Its author was born in Londonderry in 1670, and was endowed with much natural ability, but this did not avail to avert the calamities which pursue indiscreet and reckless writers. He wrote his book at the early age of twenty-five years, for the purpose of defending Holy Scripture from the attacks of infidels and atheists; he essayed to prove that there was nothing in religion contrary to sound reason, and to show that the mysteries of religion were not opposed to reason. But his work aroused much opposition both in England and Ireland, as there were many statements in the book which were capable of a rationalistic interpretation. A second edition was published in London with an apology by Toland in 1702. In Dublin he raised against himself a storm of opposition, not only on account of his book, but also by his vain and foolish manner of propagating his views. He began openly to deride Christianity, to scoff at the clergy, to despise the worship of God, and so passed his life that whoever associated with him was judged to be an impious and infamous person. He proposed to form a society which he called Socratia; the hymns to be sung by the members were the Odes of Horace, and the prayers were blasphemous productions, composed by Toland, in derision of those used in the Roman Church. The Council of Religion of the Irish House of Parliament condemned his book to be burnt, and some of the members wished to imprison its author, who after enduring many privations wisely sought safety in flight. A host of writers arrayed themselves in opposition to Toland and refuted his book, amongst whom were John Norris, Stillingfleet, Payne, Beverley, Clarke, Leibnitz, and others. Toland wrote also _The Life of Milton_ (London, 1698), which was directed against the authenticity of the New Testament; _The Nazarene, or Christianity, Judaic, Pagan, and Mahometan_ (1718); and _Pantheisticon_ (1720). The outcry raised by the orthodox party against the “poor gentleman” who had “to beg for half- crowns,” and “ran into debt for his wigs, clothes, and lodging,” together with his own vanity and conceit, changed him from being a somewhat free- thinking Christian into an infidel and atheist or Pantheist. He died in extreme poverty at Putney in 1722.
A fitting companion to Toland was Thomas Woolston, who lived about the same time; he was born at Northampton in 1669, and died at London in 1733. He was a free-thinker, and a man of many attainments, whose works became widely known and furnished weapons for the use of Voltaire and other atheistical writers. In 1705 he wrote a book entitled _The Old Apology_, in which he endeavoured to show that in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures the literal meaning ought to be abandoned, and that the events recorded therein were merely allegories. In his book _Free Gifts to the Clergy_ he denounced all who favoured the literal interpretation as apostates and ministers of Antichrist. Finally, in his _Discourses on the Miracles_ (1726) he denied entirely the authenticity of miracles, and stated that they were merely stories and allegories. He thought that the literal account of the miracles is improbable and untrustworthy, that they were parables and prophetical recitations. These and many other such-like doctrines are found in his works. Woolston held at that time the post of tutor at Sidney Sussex College at Cambridge; but on account of his works he was expelled from the College and cast into prison. According to one account of his life, he died in prison in 1731. Another record states that he was released on paying a fine of L100 after enduring one year’s incarceration, and that he bore his troubles bravely, passing an honest life and enduring reproaches with an equal mind. Not a few able theologians set themselves the task of refuting the errors of Woolston, amongst whom were John Ray, Stebbins, Bishop of St. Davids, and Sherlock, whose book was translated into French. A _Life of Woolston_ has been written anonymously by some one who somewhat favoured his views and supported his tenets. He may certainly be classed among the leaders of Free Thought in the eighteenth century.
John Biddle was a vehement advocate of Socinian and Unitarian opinions, attacking the belief in the Trinity and in the Divinity of our Lord. The Holy Spirit was accounted by him as the first of the angels. His fatal book was entitled _The Faith of one God, who is only the Father, and of one Mediator between God and man, who is only the man Christ Jesus; and of one Holy Spirit, the gift, and sent of God, asserted and defended in several tracts contained in this volume_ (London, 1691, in-4). This work was publicly burnt and its author imprisoned. Biddle was born at Wotton- under-Edge in 1615; he went to Oxford, and became a teacher at a grammar- school at Gloucester. He underwent several terms of imprisonment on account of the opinions expressed in his writings, and died in gaol in 1662.
Amongst the fanatics whose works were fatal to them must be enrolled the famous advocates of polygamy, Johann Lyser, Bernardino Ochino, and Samuel Friedrich Willenberg. Lyser was born at Leipsic in 1631, and although he ever remained a bachelor and abhorred womankind, nevertheless tried to demonstrate that not only was polygamy lawful, but that it was a blessed estate commanded by God. He first brought out a dialogue written in the vernacular entitled _Sinceri Wahrenbergs kurzes Gespraech von der Polygamie_; and this little work was followed by a second book, _Das Koenigliche Marck aller Laender_ (Freyburg, 1676, in-4). Then he produced another work, entitled _Theophili Aletaei discursus politicus de Polygamia_. A second edition of this work followed, which bore the title _Polygamia triumphatrix, id est, discursus politicus de Polygamia, auctore Theoph. Aletoeo, cum notis Athanasii Vincentii, omnibus Anti-polygamis, ubique locorum, terrarum, insularum, pagorum, urbium modeste et pie opposita (Londini Scanorum_, 1682, in-4). On account of the strange views expressed in this work he was deprived of his office of Inspector, and was obliged to seek protection from a powerful Count, by whose advice it is said that Lyser first undertook the advocacy of polygamy. On the death of his friend Lyser was compelled frequently to change his abode, and wandered through most of the provinces of Germany. He was imprisoned by the Count of Hanover, and then expelled. In Denmark his book was burned by the public executioner. At another place he was imprisoned and beaten and his books burned. At length, travelling from Italy to Holland, he endured every kind of calamity, and after all his misfortunes he died miserably in a garret at Amsterdam, in 1684. It is curious that Lyser, who never married nor desired wedlock, should have advocated polygamy; but it is said that he was led on by a desire for providing for the public safety by increasing the population of the country, though probably the love of notoriety, which has added many authors’ names to the category of fools, contributed much to his madness.
Infected with the same notions was Bernardino Ochino, a Franciscan, and afterwards a Capuchin, whose dialogue _De Polygamia_ was fatal to him. Although he was an old man, the authorities at Basle ordered him to leave the city in the depth of a severe winter. He wandered into Poland, but through the opposition of the Papal Nuncio, Commendone, he was again obliged to fly. He had to mourn over the death of two sons and a daughter, who died of the plague in Poland, and finally Ochino ended his woes in Moravia. Such was the miserable fate of Ochino, who was at one time the most famous preacher in the whole of Italy. He had a wonderful eloquence, which seized upon the minds of his hearers and carried them whither he would. No church was large enough to contain the multitudes which flocked to hear him. Ochino was a skilled linguist, and, after leaving the Roman Church, he wrote a book against the Papacy in English, which was printed in London, and also a sermon on predestination. He visited England in company with Peter Martyr, but on the death of Edward VI., on account of the changes introduced in Mary’s reign these two doctors again crossed the seas, and retired to a safer retreat. His brilliant career was entirely ruined by his fatal frenzy and foolish fanaticism for polygamy.
The third of this strange triumvirate was Samuel Friedrich Willenberg, a doctor of law of the famous University of Cracow, who wrote a book _De finibus polygamiae licitae_ and aroused the hatred of the Poles. In 1715, by command of the High Court of the King of Poland, his book was condemned to be burnt, and its author nearly shared the same fate. He escaped, however, this terrible penalty, and was fined one hundred thousand gold pieces.
With these unhappy advocates of a system which violates the sacredness of marriage, we must close our list of fanatics whose works have proved fatal to them. Many of them deserve our pity rather than our scorn; for they suffered from that species of insanity which, according to Holmes, is often the logic of an accurate mind overtasked. At any rate, they furnish an example of that
“Faith, fanatic faith, which, wedded fast To some dear falsehood, hugs it to the last.”
ASTROLOGY, ALCHEMY, AND MAGIC.
Henry Cornelius Agrippa–Joseph Francis Borri–Urban Grandier–Dr. Dee– Edward Kelly–John Darrell.
Superstition is a deformed monster who dies hard; and like Loki of the Sagas when the snake dropped poison on his forehead, his writhings shook the world and caused earthquakes. Now its power is well-nigh dead. “Superstition! that horrible incubus which dwelt in darkness, shunning the light, with all its racks and poison-chalices, and foul sleeping-draughts, is passing away without return.” [Footnote: Carlyle.] But society was once leavened with it. Alchemy, astrology, and magic were a fashionable cult, and so long as its professors pleased their patrons, proclaimed “smooth things and prophesied deceits,” all went well with them; but it is an easy thing to offend fickle-minded folk, and when the philosopher’s stone and the secret of perpetual youth after much research were not producible, the cry of “impostor” was readily raised, and the trade of magic had its uncertainties, as well as its charms.
Our first author who suffered as an astrologer, though it is extremely doubtful whether he was ever guilty of the charges brought against him, was Henry Cornelius Agrippa, who was born at Cologne in 1486, a man of noble birth and learned in Medicine, Law, and Theology. His supposed devotion to necromancy and his adventurous career have made his story a favourite one for romance-writers. We find him in early life fighting in the Italian war under the Emperor Maximilian, whose private secretary he was. The honour of knighthood conferred upon him did not satisfy his ambition, and he betook himself to the fields of learning. At the request of Margaret of Austria, he wrote a treatise on the Excellence of Wisdom, which he had not the courage to publish, fearing to arouse the hostility of the theologians of the day, as his views were strongly opposed to the scholasticism of the monks. He lived the roving life of a mediaeval scholar, now in London illustrating the Epistles of St. Paul, now at Cologne or Pavia or Turin lecturing on Divinity, and at another time at Metz, where he resided some time and took part in the government of the city. There, in 1521, he was bereaved of his beautiful and noble wife. There too we read of his charitable act of saving from death a poor woman who was accused of witchcraft. Then he became involved in controversy, combating the idea that St. Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin, had three husbands, and in consequence of the hostility raised by his opinions he was compelled to leave the city. The people used to avoid him, as if he carried about with him some dread infection, and fled from him whenever he appeared in the streets. At length we see him established at Lyons as physician to the Queen Mother, the Princess Louise of Savoy, and enjoying a pension from Francis I. This lady seems to have been of a superstitious turn of mind, and requested the learned Agrippa, whose fame for astrology had doubtless reached her, to consult the stars concerning the destinies of France. This Agrippa refused, and complained of being employed in such follies. His refusal aroused the ire of the Queen; her courtiers eagerly took up the cry, and “conjurer,” “necromancer,” etc., were the complimentary terms which were freely applied to the former favourite. Agrippa fled to the court of Margaret of Austria, the governor of the Netherlands under Charles V., and was appointed the Emperor’s historiographer. He wrote a history of the reign of that monarch, and during the life of Margaret he continued his prosperous career, and at her death he delivered an eloquent funeral oration.
But troubles were in store for the illustrious author. In 1530 he published a work, _De Incertitudine et Vanitate Scientiarum et Artium, atque Excellentia Verbi Dei Dedamatio_ (Antwerp). His severe satire upon scholasticism and its professors roused the anger of those whom with scathing words he castigated. The Professors of the University of Louvain declared that they detected forty-three errors in the book; and Agrippa was forced to defend himself against their attacks in a little book published at Leyden, entitled _Apologia pro defencione Declamationis de Vanitate Scientiarum contra Theologistes Lovanienses_. In spite of such powerful friends as the Papal Legate, Cardinal Campeggio, and Cardinal de la Marck, Prince Bishop of Liege, Agrippa was vilified by his opponents, and imprisoned at Brussels in 1531. The fury against his book continued to rage, and its author declares in his Epistles: “When I brought out my book for the purpose of exciting sluggish minds to the study of sound learning, and to provide some new arguments for these monks to discuss in their assemblies, they repaid this kindness by rousing common hostility against me; and now by suggestions, from their pulpits, in public meetings, before mixed multitudes, with great clamourings they declaim against me; they rage with passion, and there is no impiety, no heresy, no disgrace which they do not charge me with, with wonderful gesticulations–namely, with clapping of fingers, with hands outstretched and then suddenly drawn back, with gnashing of teeth, by raging, by spitting, by scratching their heads, by gnawing their nails, by stamping with their feet, they rage like madmen, and omit no kind of lunatic behaviour by means of which they may arouse the hatred and anger of both prince and people against me.”
The book was examined by the Inquisition and placed by the Council of Trent on the list of prohibited works, amongst the heretical books of the first class. Erasmus, however, spoke very highly of it, and declared it to be “the work of a man of sparkling intellect, of varied reading and good memory, who always blames bad things, and praises the good.” Schelhorn declares that the book is remarkable for the brilliant learning displayed in it, and for the very weighty testimony which it bears against the errors and faults of the time.
Our author was released from his prison at Brussels, and wrote another book, _De occulta Philosophia_ (3 vols., Antwerp, 1533), which enabled his enemies to bring against him the charge of magic. Stories were told of the money which Agrippa paid at inns turning into pieces of horn and shell, and of the mysterious dog which ate and slept with him, which was indeed a demon in disguise and vanished at his death. They declared he had a wonderful wand, and a mirror which reflected the images of persons absent or dead.
The reputed wizard at length returned to France, where he was imprisoned on a charge of speaking evil of the Queen Mother, who had evidently not forgotten his refusal to consult the stars for her benefit. He was, however, soon released, and after his strange wandering life our author ended his labours in a hospital at Grenoble, where he died in 1535. In addition to the works we have mentioned, he wrote _De Nobilitate et Proecellentia Faeminei Sexus_ (Antwerp, 1529), in order to flatter his patroness Margaret of Austria, and an early work, _De Triplici Ratione Cognoscendi Deum_ (1515). The monkish epigram, unjust though it be, is perhaps worth recording:–
“Among the gods there is Momus who reviles all men; among the heroes there is Hercules who slays monsters; among the demons there is Pluto, the king of Erebus, who is in a rage with all the shades; among the philosophers there is Democritus who laughs at all things, Heraclitus who bewails all things, Pyrrhon who is ignorant of all things, Aristotle who thinks that he knows all things, Diogenes who despises all things. But this Agrippa spares none, despises all things, knows all things, is ignorant of all things, bewails all things, laughs at all things, rages against all things, reviles all things, being himself a philosopher, a demon, a hero, a god, everything.”
The impostor Joseph Francis Borri was a very different character. He was a famous chemist and charlatan, born at Milan in 1627, and educated by the Jesuits at Rome, being a student of medicine and chemistry. He lived a wild and depraved life, and was compelled to retire into a seminary. Then he suddenly changed his conduct, and pretended to be inspired by God, advocating in a book which he published certain strange notions with regard to the existence of the Trinity, and expressing certain ridiculous opinions, such as that the mother of God was a certain goddess, that the Holy Spirit became incarnate in the womb of Anna, and that not only Christ but the Virgin also are adored and contained in the Holy Eucharist. In spite of the folly of his teaching he attracted many followers, and also the attention of the Inquisition. Perceiving his danger, he fled to Milan, and thence to a more safe retreat in Amsterdam and Hamburg. In his absence the Inquisition examined his book and passed its dread sentence upon its author, declaring that “Borri ought to be punished as a heretic for his errors, that he had incurred both the ‘general’ and ‘particular’ censures, that he was deprived of all honour and prerogative in the Church, of whose mercy he had proved himself unworthy, that he was expelled from her communion, and that his effigy should be handed over to the Cardinal Legate for the execution of the punishment he had deserved.” All his heretical writings were condemned to the flames, and all his goods confiscated. On the 3rd of January, 1661, Borri’s effigy and his books were burned by the public executioner, and Borri declared that he never felt so cold, when he knew that he was being burned by proxy. He then fled to a more secure asylum in Denmark. He imposed upon Frederick III., saying that he had found the philosopher’s stone. After the death of this credulous monarch Borri journeyed to Vienna, where he was delivered up to the representative of the Pope, and cast into prison. He was then sent to Rome, and condemned to perpetual imprisonment in the Castle of St. Angelo, where he died in 1685. His principal work was entitled _La Chiave del gabineito del cavagliere G. F. Borri_ (The key of the cabinet of Borri). Certainly the Church showed him no mercy, but perhaps his hard fate was not entirely undeserved.
The tragic death of Urban Grandier shows how dangerous it was in the days of superstition to incur the displeasure of powerful men, and how easily the charge of necromancy could be used for the purpose of “removing” an obnoxious person. Grandier was cure of the Church of St. Peter at Loudun and canon of the Church of the Holy Cross. He was a pleasant companion, agreeable in conversation, and much admired by the fair sex. Indeed he wrote a book, _Contra Caelibatum Clericorum_, in which he strongly advocated the marriage of the clergy, and showed that he was not himself indifferent to the charms of the ladies. In an evil hour he wrote a little book entitled _La cordonniere de Loudun_, in which he attacked Richelieu, and aroused the undying hatred of the great Cardinal. Richelieu was at that time in the zenith of his power, and when offended he was not very scrupulous as to the means he employed to carry out his vengeance, as the fate of our author abundantly testifies.
In the town of Loudun was a famous convent of Ursuline nuns, and Grandier solicited the office of director of the nunnery, but happily he was prevented by circumstances from undertaking that duty. A short time afterwards the nuns were attacked with a curious and contagious frenzy, imagining themselves tormented by evil spirits, of whom the chief was Asmodeus. [Footnote: This was the demon mentioned in Tobit iii. 8, 17, who attacked Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, and killed her seven husbands. Rabbinical writers consider him as the chief of evil spirits, and recount his marvellous deeds. He is regarded as the fire of impure love.] They pretended that they were possessed by the demon, and accused the unhappy Grandier of casting the spells of witchcraft upon them. He indignantly refuted the calumny, and appealed to the Archbishop of Bordeaux, Charles de Sourdis. This wise prelate succeeded in calming the troubled minds of the nuns, and settled the affair.
In the meantime the vengeful eye of Richelieu was watching for an opportunity. He sent his emissary, Councillor Laubardemont, to Loudun, who renewed the accusation against Grandier. The amiable cleric, who had led a pious and regular life, was declared guilty of adultery, sacrilege, magic, witchcraft, demoniacal possession, and condemned to be burned alive after receiving an application of the torture. In the market-place of Loudun in 1643 this terrible sentence was carried into execution, and together with his book, _Contra Caelibatum Clericorum_, poor Grandier was committed to the flames. When he ascended his funeral pile, a fly was observed to buzz around his head. A monk who was standing near declared that, as Beelzebub was the god of flies, the devil was present with Grandier in his dying hour and wished to bear away his soul to the infernal regions. An account of this strange and tragic history was published by Aubin in his _Histoire des diables de Loudun, ou cruels effets de la vengeance de Richelieu_ (Amsterdam, 1693).
Our own country has produced a noted alchemist and astrologer, Dr. Dee, whose fame extended to many lands. He was a very learned man and prolific writer, and obtained the office of warden of the collegiate church of Manchester through the favour of Queen Elizabeth, who was a firm believer in his astrological powers. His age was the age of witchcraft, and in no county was the belief in the magic power of the “evil eye” more prevalent than in Lancashire. Dr. Dee, however, disclaimed all dealings with “the black art” in his petition to the great “Solomon of the North,” James I., which was couched in these words: “It has been affirmed that your majesty’s suppliant was the conjurer belonging to the most honourable privy council of your majesty’s predecessor, of famous memory, Queen Elizabeth; and that he is, or hath been, a caller or invocater of devils, or damned spirits; these slanders, which have tended to his utter undoing, can no longer be endured; and if on trial he is found guilty of the offence imputed to him, he offers himself willingly to the punishment of death; yea, either to be stoned to death, or to be buried quick, or to be burned unmercifully.” In spite of his assertions to the contrary, the learned doctor must have had an intimate acquaintance with “the black art,” and was the companion and friend of Edward Kelly, a notorious necromancer, who for his follies had his ears cut off at Lancaster. This Kelly used to exhume and consult the dead; in the darkness of night he and his companions entered churchyards, dug up the bodies of men recently buried, and caused them to utter predictions concerning the fate of the living. Dr. Dee’s friendship with Kelly was certainly suspicious. On the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, he foretold the future by consulting the stars. When a waxen image of the queen was found in Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields, which was a sure sign that some one was endeavouring to cast spells upon her majesty, Dr. Dee pretended that he was able to defeat the designs of such evil-disposed persons, and prevent his royal mistress feeling any of the pains which might be inflicted on her effigy. In addition his books, of which there were many, witness against him. These were collected by Casaubon, who published in London in 1659 a _resume_ of the learned doctor’s works.
Manchester was made too hot, even for the alchemist, through the opposition of his clerical brethren, and he was compelled to resign his office of warden of the college. Then, accompanied by Kelly, he wandered abroad, and was received as an honoured guest at the courts of many sovereigns. The Emperor Rodolphe, Stephen, King of Poland, and other royal personages welcomed the renowned astrologers, who could read the stars, had discovered the elixir of life, which rendered men immortal, the philosopher’s stone in the form of a powder which changed the bottom of a warming-pan into pure silver, simply by warming it at the fire, and made the precious metals so plentiful that children played at quoits with golden rings. No wonder they were so welcome! They were acquainted with the Rosicrucian philosophy, could hold correspondence with the spirits of the elements, imprison a spirit in a mirror, ring, or stone, and compel it to answer questions. Dr. Dee’s mirror, which worked such wonders, and was found in his study at his death in 1608, is now in the British Museum. In spite of all these marvels, the favour which the great man for a time enjoyed was fleet and transient. He fell into poverty and died in great misery, his downfall being brought about partly by his works but mainly by his practices.
Associated with Lancashire demonology is the name of John Darrell, a cleric, afterwards preacher at St. Mary’s, Nottingham, who published a narrative of the strange and grievous vexation of the devil of seven persons in Lancashire. This remarkable case occurred at Clayworth in the parish of Leigh, in the family of one Nicholas Starkie, whose house was turned into a perfect bedlam. It is vain to follow the account of the vagaries of the possessed, the howlings and barkings, the scratchings of holes for the familiars to get to them, the charms and magic circles of the impostor and exorcist Hartley, and the godly ministrations of the accomplished author, who with two other preachers overcame the evil spirits.
Unfortunately for him, Harsnett, Bishop of Chichester, and afterwards Archbishop of York, doubted the marvellous powers of the pious author, Dr. Darrell, and had the audacity to suggest that he made a trade of casting out devils, and even went so far as to declare that Darrell and the possessed had arranged the matter between them, and that Darrell had instructed them how they were to act in order to appear possessed. The author was subsequently condemned as an impostor by the Queen’s commissioners, deposed from his ministry, and condemned to a long term of imprisonment with further punishment to follow. The base conduct and pretences of Darrell and others obliged the clergy to enact the following canon (No. 73): “That no minister or ministers, without license and direction of the bishop, under his hand and seal obtained, attempt, upon any pretence whatsoever, either of possession or obsession, by fasting and prayer, to cast ‘out any devil or devils, under pain of the imputation of imposture, or cozenage, and deposition from the ministry.” This penalty at the present day not many of the clergy are in danger of incurring.
SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY.
Bishop Virgil–Roger Bacon–Galileo–Jordano Bruno–Thomas Campanella–De Lisle de Sales–Denis Diderot–Balthazar Bekker–Isaac de la Peyrere–Abbe de Marolles–Lucilio Vanini–Jean Rousseau.
Science in its infancy found many powerful opponents, who, not understanding the nature of the newly-born babe, strove to strangle it. But the infant grew into a healthy child in spite of its cruel stepmother, and cried so loudly and talked so strangely that the world was forced to listen to its utterances. These were regarded with distrust and aversion by the theologians of the day, for they were supposed to be in opposition to Revelation, and contrary to the received opinions of all learned and pious people. Therefore Science met with very severe treatment; its followers were persecuted with relentless vehemence, and “blasphemous fables” and “dangerous deceits” were the only epithets which could characterise its doctrines.
The controversy between Religion and Science still rages, in spite of the declaration of Professor Huxley that in his opinion the conflict between the two is entirely factitious. But theologians are wiser now than they were in the days of Galileo; they are waiting to see what the scientists can prove, and then, when the various hypotheses are shown to be true, it will be time enough to reconcile the verities of the Faith with the facts of Science.
To those who believed that the earth was flat it was somewhat startling to be told that there were antipodes. This elementary truth of cosmology Bishop Virgil of Salzbourg was courageous enough to assert as early as A.D. 764. He wrote a book in which he stated that men of another race, not sprung from Adam, lived in the world beneath our feet. This work aroused the anger of Pope Zacharias II, who wrote to the King of Bavaria that Virgil should be expelled from the temple of God and the Church, and deprived of God and the Church, and deprived of his office, unless he confessed his perverse errors. In spite of the censure and sentence of excommunication pronounced upon him, Bishop Virgil was canonised by Pope Gregory XI.; thus, in spite of his misfortunes brought about by his book, his memory was revered and honoured by the Western Church.
If the account of his imprisonment be true (of which there is no contemporary evidence) our own celebrated English philosopher, Roger Bacon, is one of the earliest scientific authors whose works proved fatal to them. In 1267 he sent his book, _Opus Majus_, together with his _Opus Minus_, an abridgement of his former work, to Pope Clement IV. After the death of that Pope Bacon was cited by the General of the Franciscan order, to which he belonged, to appear before his judges at Paris, where he was condemned to imprisonment. He is said to have languished in the dungeon fourteen years, and, worn out by his sufferings, to have died in his beloved Oxford during the year of his release, 1292. The charge of magic was freely brought against him. His great work, which has been termed “the _Encyclopaedia_ and the _Novum Organum_ of the thirteenth century,” discloses an unfettered mind and judgment far in advance of the spirit of the age in which he lived. In addition to this he wrote _Compendium Philosophiae_, _De mirabili Potestate artis et naturae, Specula mathematica, Speculum alchemicum_, and other works.
The treatment which Galileo received at the hands of the ecclesiastics of his day is well known. This father of experimental philosophy was born at Pisa in 1564, and at the age of twenty-four years, through the favour of the Medicis, was elected Professor of Mathematics at the University of the same town. Resigning his chair in 1592, he became professor at Padua, and then at Florence. He startled the world by the publication of his first book, _Sidereus Nuntius_, in which he disclosed his important astronomical discoveries, amongst others the satellites of Jupiter and the spots on the sun. This directed the attention of the Inquisition to his labours, but in 1632 he published his immortal work _Dialogo sopra i due Massimi Sistemi del monda, Tolemaico et Copernicano_ (Florence), which was the cause of his undoing. In this book he defended the opinion of Copernicus concerning the motion of the earth round the sun, which was supposed by the theologians of the day to be an opinion opposed to the teaching of Holy Scripture and subversive of all truth. The work was brought before the Inquisition at Rome, and condemned by the order of Pope Urban VIII. Galileo was commanded to renounce his theory, but this he refused to do, and was cast into prison. “Are these then my judges?” he exclaimed when he was returning from the presence of the Inquisitors, whose ignorance astonished him. There he remained for five long years; until at length, wearied by his confinement, the squalor of the prison, and by his increasing years, he consented to recant his “heresy,” and regained his liberty. The old man lost his sight at seventy-four years of age, and died four years later in 1642. In addition to the work which caused him so great misfortunes he published _Discorso e Demonstr. interna alle due nuove Scienze, Delia Scienza Meccanica (1649), Tractato della Sfera (1655)_; and the telescope, the isochronism of the vibrations of the pendulum, the hydrostatic balance, the thermometer, were all invented by this great leader of astronomical and scientific discoverers. Many other discoveries might have been added to these, had not his widow submitted the sage’s MSS. to her confessor, who ruthlessly destroyed all that he considered unfit for publication. Possibly he was not the best judge of such matters!
Italy also produced another unhappy philosophic writer, Jordano Bruno, who lived about the same time as Galileo, and was born at Nole in 1550, being fourteen years his senior. At an early age he acquired a great love of study and a thirst for knowledge. The Renaissance and the revival of learning had opened wide the gates of knowledge, and there were many eager faces crowding around the doors, many longing to enter the fair Paradise and explore the far-extending vistas which met their gaze. It was an age of anxious and eager inquiry; the torpor of the last centuries had passed away; and a new world of discovery, with spring-like freshness, dawned upon the sight. Jordano Bruno was one of these zealous students of the sixteenth century. We see him first in a Dominican convent, but the old- world scholasticism had no charms for him. The narrow groove of the cloister was irksome to his freedom-loving soul. He cast off his monkish garb, and wandered through Europe as a knight-errant of philosophy, _multum ille et terris jactatus et alto_, teaching letters. In 1580 we find him at Geneva conferring with Calvin and Beza, but Calvinism did not commend itself to his philosophic mind. Thence he journeyed to Paris, where in 1582 he produced one of his more important works, _De umbris idearum_. Soon afterwards he came to London, where he became the intimate friend of Sir Philip Sidney. Here he wrote the work which proved fatal to him, entitled _Spaccio della bestia triomphante_ (The expulsion of the triumphing beast) (London, 1584). [Footnote: The full title of the work is: _Spaccio della bestia triomphante da giove, effetuato dal conseglo, revelato da Mercurio, recitato da sofia, udito da saulino, registrato dal nolano, divisa in tre dialogi, subdivisi in tre parti. In Parigi, 1584, in-8_.] This was an allegory in which he combated superstition and satirised the errors of Rome. But in this work Bruno fell into grievous errors and dangerous atheistic deceits. He scoffed at the worship of God, declared that the books of the sacred canon were merely dreams, that Moses worked his wonders by magical art, and blasphemed the Saviour. Bruno furnished another example of those whose faith, having been at one time forced to accept dogmas bred of superstition, has been weakened and altogether destroyed when they have perceived the falseness and fallibility of that which before they deemed infallible.
But in spite of these errors Bruno’s learning was remarkable. He had an extensive knowledge of all sciences. From England he went to Germany, and lectured at Wittenberg, Prague, and Frankfort. His philosophy resembled that of Spinosa. He taught that God is the substance and life of all things, and that the universe is an immense animal, of which God is the soul.
At length he had the imprudence to return to Italy, and became a teacher at Padua. At Venice he was arrested by order of the Inquisition in 1595, and conducted to Rome, where, after an imprisonment of two years, in order that he might be punished as gently as possible without the shedding of blood, he was sentenced to be burned alive. With a courage worthy of a philosopher, he exclaimed to his merciless judges, “You pronounce sentence upon me with greater fear than I receive it.” Bruno’s other great works were _Della causa, principio e uno_ (1584), _De infinito universo et mundis_ (1584), _De monade numero et figura_ (Francfort, 1591).
The Inquisition at Rome at this period was particularly active in its endeavours to reform errant philosophers, and Bruno was by no means the only victim who felt its power. Thomas Campanella, born in Calabria, in Italy, A.D. 1568, conceived the design of reforming philosophy about the same time as our more celebrated Bacon. This was a task too great for his strength, nor did he receive much encouragement from the existing powers. He attacked scholasticism with much vigour, and censured the philosophy of Aristotle, the admired of the schoolmen. He wrote a work entitled _Philosophia sensibus demonstrata_, in which he defended the ideas of Telesio, who explained the laws of nature as founded upon two principles, the heat of the sun and the coldness of the earth. He declared that all our knowledge was derived from sensation, and that all parts of the earth were endowed with feeling. Campanella also wrote _Prodromus philosophiae instaurandae_ (1617); _Philosophia rationalis_, embracing grammar, dialectics, rhetoric, poetry, and history; _Universalis Philosophatus_, a treatise on metaphysics; _Civitas solis_, a description of a kind of Utopia, after the fashion of Plato’s _Republic_. But the fatal book which caused his woes was his _Atheismus triumphatus_. On account of this work he was cast into prison, and endured so much misery that we can scarcely bear to think of his tortures and sufferings. For twenty-five years he endured all the squalor and horrors of a mediaeval dungeon; through thirty-five hours he was “questioned” with such exceeding cruelty that all his veins and arteries were so drawn and stretched by the rack that the blood could not flow. Yet he bore all this terrible agony with a brave spirit, and did not utter a cry. Various causes have been assigned for the severity of this torture inflicted on poor Campanella. Some attribute it to the malice of the scholastic philosophers, whom he had offended by his works. Others say that he was engaged in some treasonable conspiracy to betray the kingdom of Naples to the Spaniards; but it is probable that his _Atheismus triumphatus_ was the chief cause of his woes. Sorbiere has thus passed judgment upon this fatal book: “Though nothing is dearer to me than time, the loss of which grieves me sorely, I confess that I have lost both oil and labour in reading the empty book of an empty monk, Thomas Campanella. It is a farrago of vanities, has no order, many obscurities, and perpetual barbarisms. One thing I have learned in wandering through this book, that I will never read another book of this author, even if I could spare the time.”
Authorities differ with regard to the ultimate fate of this author. Some say that he was killed in prison in 1599; others declare that he was released and fled to France, where he enjoyed a pension granted to him by Richelieu. However, during his incarceration he continued his studies, and wrote a work concerning the Spanish monarchy which was translated from Italian into German and Latin. In spite of his learning he made many enemies by his arrogance; and his restless and ambitious spirit carried him into enterprises which were outside the proper sphere of his philosophy. In this he followed the example of many other luckless authors, to whom the advice of the homely proverb would have been valuable which states that “a shoemaker should stick to his last.”
The book entitled _De la Philosophie de la Nature, ou Traite de morale pour l’espece humaine, tire de la philosophie et fonde sur la nature_ (Paris, _Saillant et Nyon_, 1769, 6 vols., in-12), has a curious history. It inflicted punishment not only on its author, De Lisle de Sales, but also on two learned censors of books who approved its contents, the Abbe Chretien and M. Lebas, the bookseller Saillant, and two of its printers. De Lisle was sent to prison, but the severity of the punishment aroused popular indignation, and his journey to gaol resembled a triumph. All the learned *men of Paris visited the imprisoned philosopher. All the sentences were reversed by the Parliament of Paris in 1777. This book has often been reproduced and translated in other languages. De Lisle was exposed to the persecutions of the Reign of Terror, and another work of his, entitled _Eponine_, caused him a second term of imprisonment, from which he was released when the terrible reign of anarchy, lasting eighteen months, ended.
The industrious philosopher Denis Diderot wrote _Lettres sur les Aveugles a l’usage de ceux qui voient_ (1749, in-12). There were “those who saw” and were not blind to its defects, and proceeded to incarcerate Diderot in the Castle of Vincennes, where he remained six months, and where he perceived that this little correction was necessary to cure him of his philosophical folly. He was a very prolific writer, and subsequently with D’Alembert edited the first French Encyclopaedia (1751-1772, 17 vols.). This was supposed to contain statements antagonistic to the Government and to Religion, and its authors and booksellers and their assistants were all sent to the Bastille. _Chambers’ Cyclopaedia_ had existed in England some years before a similar work was attempted in France, and the idea was first started by an Englishman, John Mills. This man was ingeniously defrauded of the work, which owed its conception and execution entirely to him. Perhaps on the whole he might have been congratulated, as he escaped the Bastille, to which the appropriators of his work were consigned.
An author who dares to combat the popular superstitious beliefs current in his time often suffers in consequence of his courage, as Balthazar Bekker discovered to his cost. This writer was born in West Friezland in 1634, and died at Amsterdam in 1698. He was a pastor of the Reformed Church of Holland, and resided during the greater part of his life at Amsterdam, where he produced his earlier work _Recherches sur les Cometes_ (1683), in which he combated the popular belief in the malign influence of comets. This work was followed a few years later by his more famous book _De Betoverde Weereld_, or _The Enchanted World_, [Footnote: _Le Monde enchante, ou Examen des sentimens touchant les esprits, traduit du flamand en francais_ (Amsterdam, 1694, 4 vols., in-l2). One Benjamin Binet wrote a refutation, entitled _Traite historique des Dieux et des Demons du paganisme, avec des remarques sur le systeme de Balthazar Bekker_ (Delft, 1696, in-l2).] in which he refuted the vulgar notions with regard to demoniacal possession. This work created a great excitement amongst the Hollanders, and in two months no less than four thousand copies were sold. But, unfortunately for the author, it aroused the indignation of the theologians of the Reformed Church, who condemned it, deprived Bekker of his office, and expelled him from their communion. Bekker died shortly after his sentence had been pronounced. A great variety of opinions have been expressed concerning this book. Bekker was a follower of Descartes, and this was sufficient to condemn him in the eyes of many of the theologians of the day. The Jansenists of Port-Royal and the divines of the old National Church of Holland were vehement opponents of Cartesianism; consequently we find M.S. de Vries of Utrecht declaring that this fatal book caused more evil in the space of two months than all the priests could prevent in twenty years. Another writer states that it is an illustrious work, and full of wisdom and learning. When Bekker was deposed from his office, his adversaries caused a medal to be struck representing the devil clad in a priestly robe, riding on an ass, and carrying a trophy in his right hand; which was intended to signify that Bekker had been overcome in his attempt to disprove demoniacal possession, and that the devil had conquered in the assembly of divines who pronounced sentence on Bekker’s book. The author was supposed to resemble Satan in the ugliness of his appearance. Another coin was struck in honour of our author: on one side is shown the figure of Bekker clad in his priestly robe; and on the other is seen Hercules with his club, with this inscription, _Opus virtutis veritatisque triumphat_. Bekker also wrote a catechism, entitled _La Nourriture des Parfaits_ (1670), which so offended the authorities of the Reformed Church that its use was publicly prohibited by the sound of bells.
The science of ethnology has also had its victims, and one Isaac de la Peyrere suffered for its sake. His fatal book was one entitled _Praeadamitae, sive exercitatio super versibus xii., xiii., xiv., capitis v., epistolae divi Pauli ad romanos. Quibus inducuntur primi homines ante Adamum conditi_ (1655, in-12), in which he advocated a theory that the earth had been peopled by a race which existed before Adam. The author was born at Bordeaux in 1592, and served with the Prince of Conde; but, in spite of his protector, he was imprisoned at Brussels, and his book was burnt at Paris, in 1655. This work had a salutary effect on the indefatigable translator Abbe de Marolles, who with extraordinary energy, but with little skill, was in the habit of translating the classical works, and almost anything that he could lay his hands upon. He published no less than seventy volumes, and at last turned his attention to the sacred Scriptures, translating them with notes. In the latter he inserted extracts and reflections from the above-mentioned book by Peyrere, which caused a sudden cessation of his labours. By the authority of the Pope the printing of his works was suddenly stopped, but probably the loss which the world incurred was not very great. Peyrere seems to have foretold the fate of his book and his own escape in the following line:–
_Parve, nec invideo, sine me, liber, ibis in ignem_.
Lucilio Vanini, born in 1585, was an Italian philosopher, learned in medicine, astronomy, theology, and philosophy, who, after the fashion of the scholars of the age, roamed from country to country, like the knight- errants of the days of chivalry, seeking for glory and honours, not by the sword, but by learning. This Vanini was a somewhat vain and ridiculous person. Not content with his Christian name Lucilio, he assumed the grandiloquent and high-sounding cognomen of Julius Caesar, wishing to attach to himself some of the glory of the illustrious founder of the Roman empire. As the proud Roman declared _Veni, Vidi, Vici_, so would he carry on the same victorious career, subduing all rival philosophers by the power of his eloquence and learning. He visited Naples, wandered through France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and England, and finally stationed himself in France, first at Lyons, and then in a convent at Toulouse. At Lyons he produced his famous and fatal book, _Amphitheatrum aeternae providentiae divino-magicum Christiano-Physicum, nec non Astrologo-Catholicum_ (Lugduni, 1616). It was published with the royal assent, but afterwards brought upon its author the charge of Atheism. He concealed the poison most carefully; for apparently he defended the belief in the Divine Providence and in the immortality of the soul, but with consummate skill and subtilty he taught that which he pretended to refute, and led his readers to see the force of the arguments against the Faith of which he posed as a champion. By a weak and feeble defence, by foolish arguments and ridiculous reasoning, he secretly exposed the whole Christian religion to ridicule. But if any doubts were left whether this was done designedly or unintentionally, they were dispelled by his second work, _De admirandis naturae reginae deaeque mortalium arcanis_ (Paris, 1616), which, published in the form of sixty dialogues, contained many profane statements. In this work also he adopted his previous plan of pretending to demolish the arguments against the Faith, while he secretly sought to establish them. He says that he had wandered through Europe fighting against the Atheists wherever he met with them. He describes his disputations with them, carefully recording all their arguments; he concludes each dialogue by saying that he reduced the Atheists to silence, but with strange modesty he does not inform his readers what reasonings he used, and practically leaves the carefully drawn up atheistical arguments unanswered. The Inquisition did not approve of this subtle method of teaching Atheism, and ordered him to be confined in prison, and then to be burned alive. This sentence was carried out at Toulouse in 1619, in spite of his protestations of innocence, and the arguments which he brought forward before his judges to prove the existence of God. Some have tried to free Vanini from the charge of Atheism, but there is abundant evidence of his guilt apart from his books. The tender mercies of the Inquisition were cruel, and could not allow so notable a victim to escape their vengeance. Whether to burn a man is the surest way to convert him, is a question open to argument. Vanini disguised his insidious teaching carefully, but it required a thick veil