Page images


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


ESTABLISHMENT OF THE INQUISITION. Even after all the efforts made for the extirpation of heresy in Languedoc, the Church still feared, and doubtless not without reason, that many who remained had merely disguised their heretical opinions under a seeming submission. That the Church did not believe in the efficacy of her work of blood is shown by the order made at the Council of Toulouse : “ That the * bishops should appoint in all the communities, in city and country, a priest,

and with him two or three, or if necessary, several laymen, of good standing ' and character, and bind them by oath carefully and faithfully to ferret out

the heretics, to search suspected houses, subterranean chambers, and other • hiding places, all which should be destroyed; to lodge as speedily as pos

sible with the archbishop, bishop, or the lord or magistrate of the province, an information against detected heretics, their patrons and concealers, after ' first taking every precautionary measure to prevent their escape, in order that ' they might be brought to condign punishment. That in every commune all males, from the

age of fourteen and upwards, and females from the age of twelve, should abjure all doctrines in hostility to the Church of Rome, also swear that they would preserve the Catholic faith, and persecute and conscientiously make known all heretics according to their ability.'

That this oath might be taken by every individual, it was further ordered, That the names of all the men and women in each parish should be recorded ; and if any person should be absent at the time of the taking thereof, and did not take it within fourteen days after his return, he should be put down as suspected of heresy: This order was intended to apply only to Languedoc. But Dominic designed a wider field than that; nothing less in short than the entire of Europe. He himself was appointed by the Pope to carry out his ideas, giving them such form as he pleased; the results were the Order of Dominican Friars and the Inquisition. Dominic must therefore be looked upon as the first Inquisitor-General; and throughout the centuries of spiritual terrorism which followed, the Dominicans have been identified with the exercise of inquisitorial functions.

The real origin of the Inquisition is therefore found in the fear entertained by the Church that the work done by Simon de Montfort-awfully complete as it was—was not sufficient for the suppression of heresy. The danger to the priestly authority of the revolt in Languedoc had been so great that it was felt to be necessary to provide against a repetition. And so successful were the measures taken that for more than two centuries the Papal Despotism and apparent power of the Church were at their height. Throughout those two centuries the inquisitorial system was continually receiving improvements at the hands of the Dominicans, and what it was in its completeness may be read in the annals of Spain, although, let it be remembered, that the tortures and horrible ingenuity displayed by Inquisitors in after ages, were never practised or even imagined by Dominic, who, though ready to put heretics to death, never, so far as we know, resorted to the torture to induce them to confess or recant. The system of terrorism was yet only in its infancy,

The first field of Dominic's inquisitorial labours was Languedoc, and here, associated with sixteen others (who formed the nucleus from which the Order of Dominicans was afterwards developed), he went to work 'to discover, convert, and arraign before the Ecclesiastical Courts all persons sus.


pected of heresy. At first he and his companions did not constitute an independent tribunal, but were obliged to seek the intervention of the bishop; this process was, however, found to be too tedious, and on Dominic's representation, he was invested with plenary powers to judge and convict all heretics. During four years that he remained, large numbers of heretics were condemned, and then he left, despairing of curing the evil; which was again taken in hand by Simon and his Crusaders. After the final closing of the war, the Inquisition was established in every part of the South of France ; where (so effectual were its operations) it languished after a few years for want of heretics to condemn. It is not until 250 years after that this dread tribunal becomes prominent on the page of history in Spain, and later still, in the time of the Reformation, in Portugal; although its influence is perceptible throughout Europe during all the time.

Neither Dominic, Innocent III., nor the Council of Toulouse, however, must be looked upon as having invented, in the Inquisition, a system similar to which nothing had ever been before seen. Looking back, through the centuries, we find that in the age in which the Western Roman Empire was fast crumbling to decay, the clergy of Gaul and Italy used the Imperial Courts as a means of inquiring into and punishing heresy in the shape of Arianism, and the first hint of the Inquisition which we have in history, is traced to the proceedings of the Imperial Courts in the fifth century. * Again, in the eighth century, when the Germans irere undergoing at the hands of the Church and the Franks their forcible conversion to Christianity, we find that the most docile of the converted barbarian chiefs took the title of Counts, to execute against their brothers the orders of the bishops; and secret tribunals were instituted throughout the country to pursue backsliders, and severely teach them the gravity of the vows so often taken, and so frequently violated. * If we could but get the history of the spread of Christianity in those early times, when “the priest reigned, converted, judged and securely pursued “his murderous education of the barbarian," really written out; how different our popular ideas of what Christianity antl Christian missionaries did for the nations would be.

In the secret tribunals of the eighth century, we find the origin of that strange secret Court of mediæval Germany, the Velungericht, the terrible secrecy of whose proceedings, and the awful and sudden punishments inflicted by which, struck awe and terror into the wild and lawless barons of the Feudal Age. During the darkness of the night, the citation to appear waš made by nailing to the outer gate of the castle, or dwelling where the criminal lived, the funereal emblem of the invisible tribunalThe stoutest turned pale at the sight, for escape was impossible, and if the citation were unheeded, an arrow from unseen hands, or the dagger of the midnight executioner, would effect the sentence of this mysterious Court. But few attempted to elude the call. The proceedings of this tribunal were conducted at midnight, before darkly masked judges, and the condemned wretch was put to death without appeal, and in the silence and darkness of the night. The only intimation given of what had befallen him, was by a sign, which men knew too well, and the whisper of terror passed around, conveying the intelligence. A strange tribunal, but effectual for a wild and lawless time. In its proceedings, we see the prototype of the Spanish Inquisition.

After his departure out of Languedoc Dominic retired to Rome, where he spent the remainder of his life in laying the foundation of that great Order * Michelet, i. p. 49.

+ Ibid., p. 80.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



of Friars which bears his name, and which, identified as it became with all the persecutions of succeeding centuries, ever active as the police of the Church, and especially as Inquisitors earning the hate of mankind, has tended to cast a reflex light of a lurid and baleful character upon the aims and career of Domiuic. But justice demands that the evil reputation of the Order should not be allowed to bias our views of the founder. He died at Rome, on the 6th August, 1221; and was canonized not long after. If yve take the account of Butler, or the Bollandists,, or many other Catholic authorities, we should agree that this was an honour he deserved for his real piety, and, great goodness. Dominic was, in truth, an enthusiast; a man who worked not so much for the Pope, or the Church, as for a certain ideal which he had set up ;-a fanatic, who in pursuit of this ideal would have walked through seas of blood, would a great deal rather lave been without the blood, but if the death of men-thousands or millions, was of no importance in the estimatewere necessary to keep the Church of God pure, then, as a sad necessity, he would put them to death ; and Dominic would have been willing himself to die for any one amongst them. Such men-men in whom, to speak plainly, religion has become madness--the Church has been ever ready to use for her own purposes; and if misery and crime resulted, let us not so much blame these men, as the gigantic system of Priestcraft set up by the Church.

During the years which followed this Albigensian Crusade, the power of the Papacy lose to its height. But the blood of the heretics was not spilt in vain. The crimes of the priesthood cried to heaven for vengeance, and, though long delayed, a day of reekoning came. A spirit was already alive in Europe which oceans of blood could not drown ; which tortures, and racks, and thumb screws could not scare; which was above the might of the Church, with all its spiritual' thunders, and the aid of the 'secular arm to boot. Noble-souled men successively arose in Europe to carry on the work of opposition to the priestly despotism, which sought first to stupify and brutalise mankind into ignorance and superstition, and afterwards to coerce them into submission. The murdered Albigenses rose again, and yet again, as the centuries rolled; in Bohemia, in Germany, in France, there remained, after all that priestly butchers could effect in the way of persecution, the remembrance and tradition, and also the spirit which had actuated these earliest Reformers, which needed only another impulse to be called into active life. That impulse was destined to come from England. While in the mountain fastnesses of the Alps, in the Swiss valleys, and the valleys of Piedmont, the followers of Peter Waldus were ever found, and called forth a series of persecutions unparalleled in atrocity, which even as late as our own Cromwell's time induced his righteous protest, and inspired the mighty song of Milton :

“Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie bleaching on the Alpine mountains cold.

In thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold,
Slain by the bloody Piedmontese, who rolled
Mother with infant down the rock. Their moans
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow
O'er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway
The triple tyrant; that from these may grow
A hundred-fold




11.-LAST DAYS OF CONFUCIUS. The latter days of Confucius were far from being so joyous as he appears to have deserved, but having mixed so much in public life, as a statesman and a teacher, it was scarcely to be expected that he could pass away without his share of trouble. He was saddened by observing that men had not become as virtuous and noblc as he desired to see thein; he was daily brought into contact with those who were hunting after more than their proper share of the good things of life, and whose only qualification lay in the impudence with which they pressed their imaginary claims. Others who had professed the doctrines he taught, were but too ready to turn aside, in order to make immediate profit, so that frequently he fell into a semi-fit of despair, as one who feared lest the Right would never properly triumph.

It was his habit, when on a journey, to alight from his carriage to walk and talk with his disciples. The fifth year before his death he paid his last visit to the Imperial Court, and, while on the road, walking with Tsze-loo, near the foot of a mountain, on the Hwang-ho, in order to observe the state of the paths which served as communications across the hills, Confucius stopped, and desired his companion to notice a pheasant quietly picking some corn, without being disturbed at their approach.

" Alas!

” said he, with a sigh, “that parts once so frequented should now be deserted, and that a

single pheasant should be left to pick up all this corn!' Tsze-loo was puzzled to understand this. “These deserted grains of corn," added the

” philosopher, "are a type of the sound doctrine' and its present condition ; " the pheasant represents my situation." This he repeated thrice. When he rejoined his party, they noticed a change in his aspect, and inquired the

Confucius took his lute, and sang an ode, which he had just composed, wherein he compares his doctrine to a beautiful flower, whose delicate scent and fragile stem are destroyed by the rough blast.*

But it was not thus destroyed ; rather it required his death as a means of promoting its more active growth; and that was soon to come.

Still, and even at the last, the old man fired up and resumed his business as a teacher, precisely as though he could know neither fatigue nor weakness. He accepted an invitation to revisit his native state, and there he delivered his last leciures.

In the neighbourhood of the capital, there were some eminences, formerly used for sacrifices, and now resorted to by idlers, as promenades. Near these natural altars, which had fallen into decay, tents or pavilions were built, to which the name of tan (“hillock for sacrifice') was given, to perpetuate the remembrance of the ancient custom. Confucius made one or other of these pavilions his lyceum; one of them, to which le resorted most frequently, was called apricot hill,' because it adjoined an orchard of that fruit. This building is still kept up, under the same name. Here it was chiefly that, surrounded by his disciples, he delivered lectures on the King, music, and ceremonies, and prepared his works for publication. His followers soon amounted to three thousand, a very few of whom were familiar with more than his morals, the chief topic of his discourses.' His disciples,

* This is given by F. Amiot, in his Life of Confucius,


[ocr errors]



who were in a condition to expound his preçepts respecting the ritual, music, and the liberal arts, were seventy-two in number, twelve of whom* were his ordinary companions, the depositories of his thoughts, and the witnesses of all his actions; to them he minutely explained his doctrines, and charged them with their propagation after his death, assigning to each the office which he thought most adapted to his inclination and capacity.

Yan-hwuy was his favourite disciple, who, in his opinion, had attained the highest degree of moral perfection. In the presence of some of his fellow-disciples (B.c. 484), Confucius addressed him in terms of great affection, denoting that he relied mainly upon him for the accomplishment of the work which he would leave unfinished. This prospect, like others, was doomed to be frustrated. Yan-hwuy died a short time after, to the great grief of Confucius, as well as of his fellow-disciples, who deplored the loss of a friend: the Chinese still regard him as a model of virtue. This shock was followed by the death of Tsze-loo, another of the twelve, to whom he was especially attached, who (characteristically) strangled himself in order not to survive a degrading insult. These losses, added to that of his son three years after, and to the obstacles his doctrines encountered, insensibly detached Confucius from the world. Though approaching his sixty-ninth year, his health was sound, and he still pursued his literary labours. He wrote a treatise on filial piety, in which he explained the essential properties of this virtue, which he regarded as the basis of all social and political duties, " the

trunk, of which all the other virtues are branches, and universal charity the “ root.'

The king of Loo, though he did not employ Confucius, cherished a profound esteem for his exalted virtues ; and, being told that, although seventy years


age, he was as robust and studious as ever, he wished to see him, and had a private audience, in which Gae-kung paid him honours due only to an equal. Confucius endeavoured to imbue the king with sound maxims of political economy, recommending him to lighten the burthens of the people, that he might increase his revenue; citing this sentiment from the She-king : “ A monarch, who looks upon his subjects as his children, will have subjects who regard their king as their father.'

He now began to prepare for resigning the life which he had so well employed. He had completed the six King, and ceased to write more : but he deemed it his duty to return solemn thanks to heaven, which had given him strength to bring this great work to completion. He convened his most confidential disciples, and conducted them to one of the ancient mounds adjoining the pavilions before mentioned, where, by his direction, they prepared an altar, on which he placed the six volumes. Then, falling on his knees, and turning to the north, he ejaculated his grateful thanks to heaven, for its indulgent kindness in prolonging his life till he could accomplish so indispensable a work, which he now humbly offered to it. A few days after, he assembled his disciples again, to hear his last discourse. He desired them to bear in mind these final injunctions when they should see him no

He then told them that he had aimed diligently to discharge his obligations towards them; that he had neglected nothing that could contribute to qualify them to be teachers of mankind; that in the existing state of the world, corrupted by vices and hostile to the reforms he liad laboured to

Their names and characters are detailed in Mem. Concern. les Chin. tt. xii. and xiii. * Confucius is introduced in the Chung-yung as saying: “ Huy was truly a man: choosing the invariable medium; when he succeeded in securing a virtue, ho devoted himself to it with pertinacity, cherished il in his heart, and never parted with it morc,



« EelmineJätka »