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that trust in nothing else but to weary out all the world by their importunate babblings, and overwhelm them with a weight of words. But the cause of my writing is not so much to debate and dispute these things with them, as to give those of the faith warning what mischief there is in their books. Again, seeing the king's gracious purpose in this point, and how effectually by writing he bath maintained the true Catholic faith, of which he has the honourable and well deserved title of Defender, I reckoned, that, being his unworthy chancellor, it appertained to my part and duty to follow the example of his noble grace, and, after my poor wit and learning, to oppose the malice of these pernicious books; indeed, to this do I consider myself bounden in virtue of my office and my oath, and not in reason only, but also by plain ordinance and statute. Such mischievous minds have the makers of these books, that they boast and glory when their ungracious writing bringeth any man to death: and yet they make their semblance as though they were sorry for it; and Tindall crieth out upon the prelates and on the temporal princes, and calleth them murderers and martyr-makers; dissembling that the cruel writer with his wretched books, murdereth the man himself, while he giveth him the poison of his heresies, and thereby compelleth princes, by occasion of their incurable and contagious pestilence, to punish them according to the laws, both for example, and to keep infection from others.”
This passage is highly curious, as giving us Sir Thomas's religio-political profession of faith, and a view of the principles by which his public conduct was guided. What follows is altogether in bis tone and manner:
“ Not only do these men affirm that it is against the Gospel of Christ, that any heretic should be prosecuted and punished, and especially by bodily pain and death; but some of them say the same of every manner of crime, theft, murder, treason, and all. And yet in Germany now, contrary to their own evangelical doctrine, these evangelicals themselves cease not to pursue and punish by all the means they may of purse, prison, bodily pain, or death, such of their brethren as vary from their sect of which sects there are more than a man can well rehearse. And to this, at the last, be they driven them. selves, contrary to their own former doctrine, because they find by experience that one sect cannot long dwell together with the other, without coming in contest, and seeking the other's ruin; in proof whereof, look at the Donatists of old in Africa, the Arians in Greece, the Hussites in Bohemia, the Wickliffites in England, and now the Lutherans in Germany, and lastly the Zuinglians; what a business they have made, what destruction and manslaughter, as partly history shows, and in part men have seen. ... Now the purpose of my present labour is to show that these wily heresies are walking forth among us under the counterfeit visage of the true Christian faith; and, God willing, I shall so pull off their gay painted vizors, that their bare deformity may be seen. .. But, as God is my help, I find all my labour in the writing not half so grievous and painful to me, as the tedious reading of their blasphemous books. And would to Heaven that all my labours were done, so that the remembrance of their pestilent errors were erased out of Englishmen's hearts, that their abominable books were burned up, and mine own were walked off with them, and the very name of these matters utterly put in oblivion... But so many of these pestilent books are daily coming abroad, and men are so curious, weaning that these new wares will wear well, that it is necessary that the lovers of the truth should set their pens to work. The spreaders of error are always more active than the defenders of the truth; while the disciples of Christ sleep, there will always be the enemy busy to
sow the tares. Many are so wearied with sorrow and heaviness to see the world wax so wretched, that they fall into a slumber and let the wretches alone; if we would match them, we must watch, and pray, and take the pen in hand. .. But now, leaving other men to do as God may please to put into their minds, I shall, for my part, perform what I have promised, if God give me life and grace
thereto. For as for leisure, that shall not, I trust, one time or other, lack to suffice for so much, and for much more too. But which, as I before said, when I have performed, I would in good faith wish that never man should need to read any word of it. As poisons will be found, so must treacle and other medicines be provided; but the very treacle were well lost, so that the poison were utterly lost too. For surely the very best way, were neither to read this, nor their books either ; but rather that the unlearned should occupy themselves in better business-in prayer, good meditation, and the reading of such English books as most may nourish and increase devotion; of which kind is Bonaventure of the Life of Christ, Gerson of the Following of Christ, and the devout contemplative book of the Scala Perfectionis, and such others, than in learning what may be answered to heretics.
* It will be seen that, in the difficult literary question relative to the true author of the “Imitation," Sir Thomas takes the side of his brother chancellor, Gerson. The last writer on this subject, the Rev. F. Dibden (1520] pronounces in favour of the same writer. The claim of Thomas a Kempis seems generally abandoned. The pious Christian who has read this work, solely with a view to his edification, will learn with surprise, that above sixty volumes, and some of them rather angry ones too, have been published concerning the identity of the author.
“ There is no object,” says the Abbé de la Mennais, “which human curiosity considers as frivolous. Immense researches have been made to discover the name of a poor solitary of the 13th century. What has been the result of so long and laborious an inquiry?. The solitary remains unknown, and the happy obscurity in which he passed his days, has protected his humility from our vain impatience to know every thing."
The Scala Perfectionis (Ladder of Perfection) is the work of Father Hilton (1520).
The fruit of these studies shortly after appeared in the.“ Dialogue concerning Heresies and Matters of Religion,” directed principally against the errors of Tindall; a man whom he describes as so puffed up with pride, malice and envy, that it is more than marvel that his skin can hold together; and yet before he fell away from the faith, he was as meek and as simple a soul, as a man should have seen on a summer's day!” It is a long and laboured composition, not untinctured with the angry logic and bitter personalities which belonged to the age; and yet enlivened by numerous traits of wit, and illustrated by apposite anecdote. We must find room for a specimen or two.
Tindall." What am I the better for the belief of purgatory?
More.-" In good faith, not the better of one single half-penny, while ye believe it no better than ye do. But surely if ye believe it well, ye might be both the better from purgatory, and the farther from hell."
“ You men of the new learning, as ye call it, boast that ye have taken away Hypocrisy. It may be so : but of this I am right well assured, that ye have left Impudence in its place.”
Sir Thomas illustrates the vouching to falsehoods against the Catholics, by the following anecdote : " A pilgrim and his companion had come from London to York, and as travellers see strange things, the elder one declared that he had seen a bird that covered the whole of St. Paul's Church-yard with his wings. On the following day the tale changed its phasis somewhat; he had not seen the bird, but he had heard much talk thereof. His companion, when questioned, said that he would not vouch for the truth of the tale, and that indeed he thought the thing but little credible. For his own part, he had only seen the egg which the bird laid, and which ten men could scarcely move with levers."
Among the books of piety, of a century later, we may particularize Austen's Devotions in the manner of Ancient Offices, a work remarkable for its elegance, and for the unction which it breathes throughout. It has become scarce, and a reprint, with a Memoir of its excellent Author, is intended to form one of the numbers of THE CATHOLIC FAMILY LIBRARY.
* This reply of More will not fail to remind the reader of the well-known repartee of Father O'Leary on the same subject.
Speaking of the illusion of sinners, who, on their death-beds, are fain to hear the minister of religion smooth the matter over, and promise that all shall be well with them, he has this homely, but apt, comparison. “ Even as a mother, with her fair words and promises, sendeth her child to school who hath slept too long in the morning, and is in fear and danger of the rod. When he weepeth and blubbereth, she promiseth him that all will be well, that it is not so late as he imagines, that his master will pardon his fault this time; till at last she sends him merry from his home, with his bread and butter in his hand, and yet he is not a whit the less waled for all that !”
The following is apt:
“ My opponent would fain have all the talk to himself, and yet blames me for not sufficiently ex. tending upon some points. It fares between him and me, as it once did between a nun and her brother. Very virtuous was this lady, and of a close order, in which she had been long, and had rarely seen her brother, who was likewise very virtuous, and had been far off at a university, where he had taken the degree of Doctor in Divinity. When he came home, he went to see his sister, as be who highly rejoiced in her virtue. So came she to the grate which they call, I trow, the locutory, and after the holy watch-word spoken on both sides, after the manner of the place, the one took the other by the tip of the finger, for hand could there be done thrust through the grate. And forthwith began my lady to give her brother a sermon on