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and neither the iron bigotry of Ferdinand, nor the vigorous policy of Charles, nor the gloomy fanaticism of Philip, could shut out from their dominions the new power. Tracts by Erasmus, which had done the work of the pioneer in other countries, found their way into the Iberian Peninsula, and by their wit and learning shook the fabric of Papal abuses; letters by Melancthon awakened inquiry, while they conciliated opposition; tracts by Luther, and still more his great work on the Epistle to the Galatians, struck the deepest chords in men's bosoms, and meeting their greatest wants, relieved them; translations of portions of the Scripture by Enzinas and Perez into the language of the people were circulated, and read in secret, and led multitudes to believe with joy; teachers and disciples of the Waldenses, crossing the Pyrenees, settled in those Spanish provinces which were nearest to France, and helped to spread the sacred flame; poor men of Lyons, while maintaining an external adherence to the Papal Church, avowed principles so evangelical, and paid such deference to the Bible in which they found those principles, as effectually to do the work of the Reformers; learned men and eloquent preachers, sent into countries that had become infested with the heresy, that they might reclaim its disciples, returned more than half convinced of its truth; monasteries and convents, which were confided in as the impregnable strongholds of the Papacy, welcomed the new doctrine through their gates and bars, and many a gloomy cell became a gate of heaven, and a centre of light to the surrounding regions; and when at length the alarmed civil and ecclesiastical authorities had planted guards at every seaport and frontier town, to check the introduction of Bibles and other religious books, and to watch the movements of priests and teachers that were suspected of sympathy with Lutheranism, many a Bible still found its way into Spain skilfully concealed in casks of Burgundy; while Julian Hernandez, the shrewd and humble muleteer, contrived to elude the jealousy of the spies and familiars of the Inquisition, and to bear thousands of copies of the Word of Life across the Sierras into Andalusia, hidden beneath the guise of a less precious merchandise.
To one who should look merely at these auspicious beginnings, it may seem strange that the Reformation should have been suppressed so soon in Spain, especially when it is remembered that in Germany, and other countries now Protestant, the same cause, with a commencement in no degree more vigorous, advanced to an early and stable triumph. But we have only to glance at the historical circumstances of those nations, in order to see that in all of them the Reformation enjoyed means of protection and facilities of progress unknown in the Peninsula. In Germany there were electors
and princes favourable to Luther, and free cities which had caught the new influence, and the well-defined rights of whose burghers it would have been perilous for either the Emperor or the Pope to touch. In England, the quarrel of Henry VIII. with the Pope was the means of keeping Papal influence at bay, and gave time for Tyndale's Bibles and Latimer's sermons to leaven the land with Protestantism. In Scotland, a weak monarchy in league with Rome had to cope with powerful barons and bold feudal chiefs who were almost supreme within their own territories, and some of the best and most potent of these taking the side of Protestantism, shielded Knox from the enmity of the court, so that, ere the great Reformer died, the majority of his countrymen had broken in sunder the Papal yoke. In France, Rome could only reach her victims through the local magistracy, who, in many instances, sympathising with the Huguenots, were slow to act against them; while the queenly influence of Margaret of Navarre bridled the action of a sometimes hostile, sometimes vacillating court. And in the cantons of Switzerland, and in the Low Countries, the people enjoyed solid constitutional powers, which were oftener than otherwise turned to the side of the Reformers.*
But in Spain none of these facilities and immunities were enjoyed. The Scriptures could only be circulated as contraband goods, the friends of the gospel could only assemble in secret, and he who preached in favour of a more apostolic faith, or even hinted a fault in existing institutions, knew that he did so at the peril of the inquisitorial tribunal, the torture, and the flames. There was no "shadow from the heat" in that land afforded, either by popular rights or by a balance of powers. When the energy of the civil authorities appeared at times to flag and to yield to some of the better influences of a natural humanity, the more iron-hearted and remorseless spiritual powers of the Inquisition were ever ready to goad them on, and with their more ubiquitous and subtle means of detection, to feed the sword and the fire with new victims. Could the suspicions of the inquisitorial fathers have been kept asleep for a little period longer, and the machinery of the confessional stayed, or had there even been a fragment of shelter for liberty of speech, of assembly, and profession, the new faith would have numbered the mass of the people, as well as the flower and chivalry of the Spanish nobility, among its disciples, the double yoke of Popery and of despotism would have been broken from the neck of a great nation, and Spain would have been seen standing at this hour, with other nations that yielded their hearts to the reform, among the great lights of the world.
* M'Crie's Hist., ch. vi.
The testimony of Roman Catholic historians bears us out, in the strongest form of this assertion. Gonzalo de Illescas, in his "Historia Pontifical," thus writes: "In past years Lutheran heretics, in greater or less numbers, were wont to be taken and burnt in Spain; but all those that were so punished were foreigners, viz., Germans, Flemings, or Englishmen, At other times people, poor and of mean birth, used to be sent to the scaffold and to have San Benitos* in the churches; but in these later years we have seen the prisons, the scaffold, and even the burning pile crowded with illustrious people, and (what is even more to be deplored) persons, who, in the opinion of the world, were greatly superior to others in learning and in virtue. . . . I withhold their names, in order not to tarnish with their injured reputation the fair fame of their descendants, or even of some illustrious houses to whom this poison attaches. They were such and so many that it was believed, if two or three months more had been suffered to elapse before applying a remedy to this mischief, the conflagration would have spread itself all over Spain, and brought upon her the most dire misfortunes she has ever seen."+
Another author, writing from Amsterdam, whither he had fled from the persecutions of the "tribunal of the faith," expresses himself with more freedom: "In Spain many very learned, many very noble, and many of the most distinguished of the gentry have for this cause been led forth to the scaffold. There is not a city, and, if one may so speak, there is not a village, nor a hamlet, nor a noble house in Spain, that has not had, and still has, one or more that God of his infinite mercy has enlightened with the light of the gospel. It is a common proverb in Spain in the present day when speaking of a learned man to say, 'He is so learned that he is in danger of being a Lutheran." Francisco Nunez de Velasco, writing, with monkish mortification and triumph, informs us that, "In Spain, too, it (the venom of heresy) began to take root, some who had communicated with those infected kingdoms, bringing the pestilence with them. And if it had not been for the most vigilant care of the Fathers, the inquisitors, that, with suitable cauterisings with fire cut down the cancer, the body of the Spanish republic would have been infected, it having commenced with some of the principal members." ||
The cities of Valladolid and Seville were the principal strongholds of the new faith, and while the agents of the
A tunic and a rope, which were the badge of ignominy put upon those who were condemned by the Inquisition.
+ Histor. Pontif., vol. ii.
La Biblia, por Cypriano de Valera. The words quoted are found in an exhortation which precedes the Bible.
Dialogos de Contencion entre la Miliciary la Ciencia.
Inquisition were scattered over the whole kingdom, in every possible disguise, it was determined that in these two cities the grand effort should be made to detect and extirpate the heretics. Suspected persons had their houses entered at midnight, and their most secret cabinets searched for papers that might condemn them; the possession of a New Testament or of a Lutheran tract being regarded as a sufficient proof of guilt. The more timid and infirm of purpose were tempted with the promise of pardon if they would betray the names of secret Lutherans. Others, against whom some suspicious word or action was proved, were assured of a mitigation of punishment if they would confess every thing, and then their ingenuous confession, as soon as it was made, was turned against them. Priests, who had learned in the confessional to "smile, and smile, and be a villain," wound themselves into the confidence of young maidens who were suspected of evangelical leanings, by professing a wish to save them, and having wrung from them the secret of their mental doubts and struggles, dragged them before their merciless judges, and compelled them to repeat the secret there. The most demonlike treachery was transmuted into a saintly grace when it was employed to discover a heretic. Not to condemn the sentiments, or repudiate the aims of the Reformers, was held as tantamount to approval, so that, as one bitterly complained, "it had become equally dangerous to be silent or to speak."
The autos-da-fe of the Inquisition began to be celebrated in the two heretical cities on a scale of magnitude and with a ghastly splendour unknown before the rise of the Reformation. On the days fixed for an auto, myriads assembled to witness the dying agonies of Protestant confessors with the same enthusiasm with which men in modern Spain assemble to a bull-fight; the day of the wicked tragedy was sometimes delayed, like tilts and tournaments in other countries, until it suited the convenience of the king and his courtiers to be present at an entertainment so royal; and when the day arrived, the heaped piles and kindled fires in the wide square-the gloomy processions of monks and priests the grand inquisitor seated upon his throne and surrounded by his familiars-the formal handing over of the victims to the civil power for destruction-presented an impious mockery of the final judgment. Charles, ere he retired to the cloisters of St Just, to combine a life of maceration and epicurism, had sometimes tried to mitigate these horrors; but his son Philip was shaken by no such humane recoils. Resembling in disposition, though greatly exceeding in talent, our own James VII., the grim severity of the monk and the stolid obstinacy of the bigot, mingled with the dark and fiery passions * Stirling's Cloister Life of Charles V., ch. iv. pp. 77-99.
of the Moor, would have made him gaze without emotion upon his own son chained to the stake. Indeed, the recent investigations of De Castro, which place beyond doubt the liberal sentiments and Protestant leanings of the Prince Don Carlos, awaken irrepressible suspicions that Philip had a guilty hand in his early death. Thousands perished in a few years in those inquisitorial fires,-many of these fair maidens and grey-headed men, eloquent preachers and men of noble blood; thousands more perished by the yet more terrible death of suffocation amid the ordure of prisons; "it was given to the Beast to make war with the saints and to overcome them,"t and the Reformation perished in Spain, not by the apostasy of its disciples, but by their extirpation and exile. ‡
The most strenuous efforts were employed to prevent the revival or fresh intrusion of these hated influences. The libraries of Salamanca and of other universities were ransacked, and all books quickening to thought or favourable to Protestantism were removed from them and destroyed; Bibles were cast into the same flames in which their possessors had been consumed; public lectures were prohibited; books of history and general science were not allowed to be circulated; the universities in which learning and intellect had sought a last asylum were regarded with an evil eye; the study of the Scriptures, even by priests and monks, was forbidden, and students condemned to feed on the thorns and thistles of a mere casuistical theology; Spain was fenced round and barricaded against all Protestant influences, and converted into a The Spanish Protestants, ch. xxii. pp. 325-339.
+ Rev. xiii. 7.
It will not astonish some of our readers, though it may perhaps surprise others, to find that Roman Catholic bishops, in our own country, look with complacency on these and kindred acts of atrocity, which many simple Protestants have been imagining must excite the universal reprobation and horror of modern times. The following are the words of the Romish Bishop of Bantry, in "An Appeal for the Erection of Catholic Churches in the Rural Districts of England," published in 1852. He is endeavouring to show how greatly the true faith has been indebted for its prosperity and purity to the civil power.
"This has been witnessed," says he, "not only in the Papal states themselves, but in many other Catholic countries. How eminently (for instance) was the Church preserved from corruption, as well as the best interests of France promoted, by that notable act of Charles IX., when he almost annihilated heresy in his dominions, by the celebrated massacre of the Huguenots on the feast of St Bartholomew, and for which signal overthrow of the Church's enemies, a solemn mass and general thanksgiving were ordered by the Pope!
"Who can estimate all the benefits, spiritual and temporal, that resulted to the game country from the zeal of Louis XIV., when he extirpated the Protestants by the revocation of the edict of Nantes, passed by the impolitic monarch, Henry IV.!
"What special tokens, too, of the divine favour has Spain enjoyed by the same means! This has been triumphantly brought forward by Francisco de Pisa: Our Lord God,' says he, has been pleased to preserve these kingdoms in the purity of the faith like a terrestrial paradise, by means of the cherubim of the holy office (the inquisition); which, with its sword of fire, has defended the entrance, through the merits and patronage of the serenest Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.'"
If this be not glorying in shame, we know not what it is. Were such a thing lawful as devil-worship, the Bishop of Bantry might more appropriately send the praise in that direction.